My Autumn/Winter 10/11 Drops Picks

I’ve got four faves in the new collection of Drops patterns and am anxiously waiting for them to get uploaded, so I can start digging through my stash and making plans.

My choices:

I feel a bit overwhelmed by the variety of stitch patterns in this jacket, but imagine replacing some of them with stockinette or garter. The overall lines of the piece would become the main feature—and they’re darling.
stand-up collared jacket

This cardigan strikes me as one of those basic pieces that one could wear over and over again. I can imagine it in cotton for spring and in alpaca or angora for winter.
simple cardi

I’d like to have this cardigan tossed in the back seat of my car for impromptu beach walks. I know some people would prefer long sleeves on a garment this bulky, but I like to keep my sleeves short or 3/4-length for the sake of thermoregulation.
bulky cable cardi

And isn’t this one a beauty? I could pull it on over almost anything and look both polished and comfortable at the same time.
celtic cables cardi

Testing, Testing…

One of the projects that kept me sane during the end of the school year was Vanilla Vodka—a test-knit I did for Thea of Babycocktails. This sweater originated as Cherry Vanilla, a cropped, short-sleeved cardigan. When Thea mentioned that she wanted to come up with a longer version, I jumped right in: “Need any test-knitters? How about me? How about me? Huh? Huh?”

Lucky me—Thea said “yes.”
Test sweater
Note that the actual color is a woodsy heathered yellow-green—available for a song at Little Knits—but the camera had other ideas.

What I love about this sweater is the detailing. A pretty, pretty front with interesting shaping and lace along the opening.
Test sweater

And the back has a matching lace panel.
Test sweater

Because this is a top-down sweater, you can try it on as you work on it to get just the fit you like. I opted for slightly loose and swing-y.

The one change I made on my version is that I worked the neck/front band in garter stitch. Nothing wrong with the original—I just wanted to and Thea was good enough to humor me.

I really loved the test-knitting process: trying to imagine the questions different knitters might ask as they worked on the piece, looking for spots where I could suggest a bit of wording that would help make things even clearer. Mind you, the pattern was good from the get-go: well written and easy to follow. When I get to sweater design someday, I’ll be better for having worked with Thea in this capacity.

Up next? I get to test-knit Shiraz. I’ve got six skeins of peacock blue Cascade 220 that are waiting for that baby to get back from the tech editor.

The pattern is available through Ravelery. If you’re not on Ravelry, you can drop Thea a line via her blog—I’m sure she’ll be able work something out with you.

The Prettiest Cable Ever…

… runs straight down the back of the project I’m knitting on now: the Creature Comforts Cardi from Madeline Tosh. I am loving watching the way this stitch transforms itself. One little K grows into 18 Ks that become an oak leaf through clever increasing, decreasing, and cabling. Another stitch serves as the center of a vine, undulating back and forth along the panel.

I don’t know if this stitch is an original or if it comes from a dictionary I haven’t seen before—but the price of the pattern is worth it just for this stitch. Don’t like the garment it’s featured on? Buy the pattern anyway and knit it up into a stole or insert it into a tried-and-true favorite sweater.

I’m knitting mine up (going with the pattern as written; it definitely offers the comforts promised in the title) in Cascade 220, a heather called Japanese Maple. The leaves are going to look all russet-autumn-glorious. I’ll be turning circles in front of every mirror I come across, just so I can keep admiring them.

For the record, while this pattern has cardi it its name, it’s really more of a shrug—a big, loose drapey shrug, not one of those tight little things that won’t ever close in the front. Once the weather gets cool enough, I probably won’t be taking it off for weeks at a time.

P.S. Pockets! It’s got pockets! Gotta love that.

The School Year that Ate Me Alive…

… is now over. (Mostly.)

I have a glorious summer stretched out in front of me with nothing much planned but sitting in the shade of an apple tree and knitting for hours every day.

In my initial bliss I’m pulling out various projects that I got bogged down on. I’m sure you know the kind I mean—the ones that really are worth finishing, but that are going to require some tweaking or frogging or other fuddlements and frustrations before they’ll be done.

Yesterday I pulled out an Ulmus that I’d stopped working on when I discovered halfway through the leaf edging that I did not, in fact, have a second skein of that red-black Berroco Alpaca Fina that I was sure was hiding in my stash somewhere. My friend Chris was good enough to pick up another skein for me at a shop over in San Jose, but it was a different dye lot, and the difference really showed, so I spent the better part of a baseball game ripping out the old edging, carefully picking up the 270-odd stitches, then hand-winding the new skein of yarn so I could begin knitting. The edging has 34 rows. I was on row 22 when I ran out the first time—now I’ve worked my way back to row 19.

After this project is done, I’ve got a Swing Cardigan most of the way done in a yummy, yummy henna green Elsebeth Lavold Baby Llama. I stopped working on that one when I hit the neck bind-off. Not that a neck bind-off is rocket science, but just that I was so exhausted every day when I got home from work that I didn’t trust myself not to make a complete mess of it. After the neck bind-off, it’s just underarm seams and button bands. Hooray!

Glorious, glorious summer. Yes, I have to calculate grades and write narrative evaluations, but it’s literally months until I have to be in front of a class again. And after the last set of essays is marked, I won’t face another pile of those until late September.

Let the knitting begin!