Favourites from Making No. 2 – Fauna

I clearly have a thing for craft books and magazines. I remember being a little girl, when there wasn’t really an abundance of resources available in Hungary, and so often I would hold a book in your hands with its lovely projects, wondering where on earth I could get the necessary materials and tools from. In particular, my mother owned a red book called the “Big book of handcrafts”, which I would never get tired of. I would leaf through the book over and over again, choosing new favourite projects each time, and feeling amazed at the same time as utterly overwhelmed. I wanted to make EVERYTHING that was in there, only, for the most part, I didn’t know how or I did’t dare to ask for money to buy threads or yarns or whatnot.

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Holding the Making magazine in my hands evokes a similar feeling. I wish I had all the time in the world and access to all the supplies, ingredients and tools I can imagine – as well as the combined skills of a regiment of lovely grannies, to be able to make everything from cover to cover. Carrie Bostick Hoge’s editorial project is so well thought through and executed, featuring a collection of gorgeous fiber projects, accompanied by lovely photography, inspiring articles and mouthwatering recipes. It really is a great display of what a pair of able crafty hands are capable of, from making garments to crafting toys and homeware.

It is so so so hard to pick favourites, even if I restrain myself to knitting projects (there are 17 of them!) – since realistically I’m not going to be transitioning to sewing or embroidery anytime soon. I’ll still attempt a top 3 of items I see myself highly likely to cast on at some point in the future:

 

  1. Open Waters Cowl by Melanie Berg. I’ve already mentioned in an earlier post how much I loved this design. Such a special-looking stitch and such an exceptionally unique cowl.
  2.  Arctic Cardigan by Carrie Bostick Hoge. This cardigan promises to be a fast(ish) knit and it’s so simple and wearable. I’m definitely sold.
  3. Byssus Cocoon by Bristol Ivy. I’ve declared my love for shrugs before, which I find far more practical and easier to wear than shawls. This looks like the perfect thin layer to throw on in a cool summer evening.

On a final note, Making is only available in paper format, meaning no digital copies. I’ve been fortunate to find it in the lovely Minerva store here in Wellington, but I’ve seen it’s sold out already in so many places. In case you miss out and really fancy some of the projects, as far as I can see, patterns from the previous issue (but not the current one) are now available for purchase through digital download on Ravelry.

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Book: Japanese Inspired Knits

I’m not sure how many knitting books libraries generally have, but I do kind of feel like the Wellington City Library has quite a few. Over the last few months it has become my guilty pleasure to roam the knitting section, whenever I’m around. A while ago I picked up Japanese Inspired Knits by Marianne Isager as it seemed like something different to look at.

I’d heard about Danish designers Marianne and her daughter Helga Isager before, as well as their line of knitting yarns. As a matter of fact, I’d been roaming the web quite for quite a while for an affordable option of buying some of Helga’s gorgeous patterns, not many of which seem to be available as .pdf downloads, but that’s another story.

When I saw the Japanese Inspired Knits book, I was drawn to it not necessarily because it contains many garments I myself would like to see in my wardrobe, but because each and every single item seems to have an unusual construction or at least incorporate techniques and stitch patterns that one does not see all that often (in my humble opinion). It is really exciting, for example, to see double knitting used as a decorative element on part of a garment as in the Stone garden jacket, and to explore the entrelac technique used in Winter in Tokyo. Of course, when assessing wearability, we have to bear in mind that the book itself was published back in 2009.

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The Carp, The Sun and Summer in Tokyo by Marianne Isager. Photo credit: Interweave Press

It’s interesting that in the introduction to the book Marianne mentions that when she was first invited to participate in an art exhibit in Tokyo, her garments, which she considered to bear quite a bit of Japanese influence, were to her surprise perceived as “very Scandinavian”. In the book Japanese Inspired Knits, she ties each of her twelve designs to a month of the year and gives a brief background on the cultural relevance of that particular month which served as an inspiration to her patterns.

As for garments I would wear from the book, I’d say there are three in particular which caught my eye. In sync with my current summer knitting interest, I find The Carp quite attractive. Although, being constructed from over 150 squares, this would be a knit that could keep me entertained until the end of my days. I’d also consider a more closed neckline and  a waistband of sorts to close off the bottom of the top. I really quite like the two-colour garter stitch-like texture, which Marianne calls stockinette with garter ribs.

The Large Suns version of The Sun sweater of course appeals very much to my obsession with baggy/oversized sweaters. I think I’d prefer to see it without the intarsia pattern, but of course, it might become just too boring. Maybe use Marianne’s two-colour garter ridges here for the body?

Finally, with my latest endeavour of the cropped raglan sweater means I’m kind of into this kind of thing right now. So, I cannot quite ignore Summer in Tokyo. Although I’m not entirely convinced by the colour combination and the pattern on this one, I might put it on my list of possible colourwork sweaters. After all, I could just make use of the instructions and create my own chart pattern.

Pattern tweak: Coda sweater

Yuppie! The Coda sweater is finished! This was my second ever pullover, and man it took some patience… To think I got started on it during our Christmas holiday in Tenerife, and thought I would finish it on the flight here to New Zealand… At least, now I have various reasons to be proud of myself:

  1. This was a stash-decreasing project, where I had to deliberately find a pattern to use yarn originally designated to become something else. Eight skeins put to good use, check.
  2. I had a limited amount of yarn to work with, which meant I had to go especially stingy. I skipped the tubular cast on (which is a pity) and I actually had to re-knit and shorten the sleeves. Ripping, check.
  3. More re-knitting was required for the back, as I was not able to perform an acceptable seam at the centre of the back cable. More ripping, check.
  4. I mastered the much dreaded kitchener stitch and wrap and turn short rows. New skills, check.
  5. In order to find an alternative solution for the back cable, I contacted a previously unknown fellow-knitter on Ravelry (see more on this below). Stalking/socializing, check.

Given that I think the reworking of the back cable might be useful for other knitters, I’ll try to give an account based on my scarce (I know… 😦 ) notes. Before that, I would like to thank Muriel (Ravelry user princessemumu) for her kind help, her Coda looks just wonderful! – I think much better than mine.

And with that, ladies and gentlemen, I present you…

The reworked Coda back cable

Disclaimer: I do not think this is the Holy Grail of Coda backs, but it did work for me. Please read through before deciding to go for it. Also, there may be errors in my math, but I think you’ll get the general idea and hopefully anyone who decides to try this solution, will be able to work it out.

The main idea is simple: In order to avoid the seaming the cable at the centre , it is worked as a single cable from the right side of the back to the left side. This means that the part of original pattern called Back (Convex arch shaping) has to be reworked. The way I did this is the following.

Centre convex shape in stockinette stitch

The original pattern instructs us to start knitting the stockinette section between the cables together with the right and the left cables, using some short row shaping, which essentially serves for us to be able to knit more rows of the cable, which will give the curve on both sides. What I did was to set aside the stitches for the cables, and work the stockinette section separately.

From the stitches held for the back, put 16 stitches counting from the right edge and 16 stitches counting from the left edge on waste yarn. You are going to work only the centre stitches, whose number must be [number of held stitches] – 32. So if you are working size 37, as I did, you’ll have 71-32 = 39 stitches on your needle for this section. Join the working yarn on the left side, starting to knit a wrong side row.

Setup row (WS):  Purl all stitches.
Row 1 (RS): SSK, knit to last to stitches, k2tog.
Row 2 (WS): P2tog, purl to last to stitches, SSK.

Repeat rows 1 and 2 two more times. You will have worked six decrease rows all together, and decreased 12 stitches. So, again, if you are knitting size 37, you will have 39-12 = 27 stitches left on the needle.

Starting the cable

Now you are going to start knitting the cable, running from the right side of the back to the left side. The first rows and the last rows will not be joined to the centre section you have just knitted, you will seam them together later.

Turn your work to the wrong side, shifting the stitches you have just worked to the needle. Now, pick up the 16 stitches you set aside for the right cable. They should be on the left needle with the wrong side facing, as you are going to start knitting with a wrong side row, placing a marker to separate the cable and the stickinette stitches. If you feel lost, just transfer the stitches from the previous section on a waste yarn, and work only with the 16 cable stitches on the needles for now.

You will be joining new yarn to work the cable starting with a wrong side row. You will be working the first set of short rows over the cable, as described in the pattern, only, you’ll only knit the part concerning the first 16 stitches and Chart A.

Setup row (WS): P2tog, YO, purl 1, knit 2, purl 9, knit 2.
Short row 1 (RS): Work Chart A across first 12 stitches, wrap and turn.
Short row 2 (WS): Work last 12 stitches of Chart A.
Row 3: Work Chart A to the end, working the wrap together with the wrapped stitch).
Row 4: Work Chart A.

Work rows 1-4 two more times.

Joining the cable with the stockinette section

If you put the stitches from the centre stockinette section on hold, now is the time to put them back on the needle. You will have all the stitches (stockinette section + 16 stitches for the cable) on the left hand needle, right side facing. If you have not done so, place a marker between the cable and the stockinette stitches.

You will start with working the section called Right Side Arch in the original pattern, as is, only you will not break your working yarn once you get to the centre of the stockinette section, but keep knitting. You will have to decrease all the stitches into the cable in the following way.

The original pattern instructs you to repeat short rows 21 and 22 of the Right Side Arch section a certain amount of times, but you will repeat them twice as many + one time. So, once again, if you are knitting size 37, you are instructed to repeat these rows a total number of 8 times, but you will do 2*8 = 16 repeats. By the time you are finished, you should have 6 stitches left from the centre stockinette section that have not been decreased into the cable.

Now what is left to do, is to replicate the beginning of the Right Side Arch section, only in the reverse, that is:

Short row 1 (RS, Decrease row): Work Chart A to marker (working wrap together with wrapped stitch-if any), slip marker, SSK, turn.
Short row 2 (WS): Slip 1 wyif, slip marker, work Chart A to the end.
Short row 3: Work Chart A across next 12 stitches, wrap and turn.
Short row 4: Work last 12 stitches of Chart A to end.

Repeat rows 1-4 four more times.

By this end of this section, 17 stitches should remain (16 cable stitches + 1 stitch).

Finishing the cable

To finish the cable, you will have to replicate the first short row section, again, in the reverse. On the first row, knit the last remaining stitch from the centre together with the last stitch of the cable (or SSK?).

Short row 1 (RS): Work Chart A to the end, working the wrap together with the wrapped stitch), and knitting the last stitch (or SSK?) together with the last stitch of the centre stockinette section (this needs to be done only on the first repeat).
Short row 2 (WS):
Work Chart A.
Short row 3: Work Chart A across first 12 stitches, wrap and turn.
Short row 4: Work last 12 stitches of Chart A.

Repeat rows 1-4 two more times. Only the 16 stitches from the cable should remain.

Turn to the wrong side, and purl across the 16 stitches.

Finishing up

Join the remaining 16 stitches with the 16 stitches you set aside at the beginning on the left back using kitchener stitch.

To close the gap between the cable and the centre stockinette section, stitch the two together, imitating the SSK stitches with the sewing strand (I wish I had made notes or photos as to how I did this…). This will be easier at the right back, as the decreases are already in the correct direction, but at the left back they are the opposite. I know this is not perfect, but at least it is at the sides of the back and not that visible. Better solutions are welcome.

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Pattern: Coda  by Olga Buraya-Kefelian, BT Wool People Vol. 7

Yarn: 9 skeins of Drops Aplaca (held double) in Dark Lime

Needles: 4.5 mm (US 7) for the ribbing and 5 mm (US 7) for the body (knitted size 37)