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Knitting the Cobblestone has been, if you will forgive the bad pun, a long and bumpy road over the last few months. Last weekend, I finally got to here:
I could have wiped my brow, woven in the ends, and relaxed into it, but I worked on it a few more days, and now it looks like this:
What you are seeing, my friends, is the love-child of the Cobblestone pullover and the Wonderful Wallaby! I am enormously pleased with the results of this fortuitous union of patterns – have you ever seen a more beautiful mutant? (Note: If you’re interested in such a mutation, the dirty details are illustrated below)
Yarn: La Paz, a light worsted wool hand-dyed by Laura Macagno Shang of Textiles a Mano. I used just under 1500 yards total.
Gauge: 5.5 spi on size 4 needles, in stockinette. My gauge was off from the pattern, so I chose to knit the one with 230 stitches, to get a circumference of roughly 41 inches. As is my wont, it was not 41 in the end but 39.5, but for once, this turned out to be a good, fitting thing.
If you come across this yarn at a craft fair, or even order from Laura’s site, I highly recommend it. I made another aran pullover with it, which has worn like iron. The colours are at once brilliant and subtle, and hold well. I fell in love with the rich sense of foliage that this colourway brought to mind, like I was walking in a dense forest after the rains. But now, I can also see the cobblestones, almost:
Modifications and Notes:
1) Waist shaping: I loved the roomy, comfy look of the original Cobblestone, but wanted some shaping. About four inches into the body, I decreased one stitch at each end of the purl bands on the sides, four times every six rows. Then I knit straight for three inches, and increased back at the same gradient to the original cast-on number. Incidentally, the purl bands are
a mistake an accidental modification – it was only much later that I realised the pattern had called for garter bands. As it turns out, I prefer them this way.
2) Yoke decreases: The yoke decreases in the pattern are for men’s shapes, and men who pump some iron, it seemed like. I did the short rows at the bottom of the yoke, but then began the circular decreases at once, and decreased every inch and a half to get the shallower yoke I needed for my dimensions. Can you notice that small bulge at the arms right where the yoke begins? I had seen it on a lot of finished versions on Ravelry, but it was only after finishing and blocking that I realised how I could have avoided it. If you want a smoother arm line, remember to do one round of decreases *before* the short rows. I must say, though, that the short-rows at the armpits and neck are genius. They really make the back and shoulders fit beautifully.
3) Sleeves: >I cast on 46 stitches in the round for the sleeves, and increased every 4 rows until I had 84, and then knit even till the sleeves were about 18 inches. I had to block them out a bit to get them to fit comfortably. I’d probably increase every 4 for a bit, then every 6 or 8 after about 10 inches the next time.
4) V-neck opening: Early on I was worried that for all its comfyness, this crew-neck-garter-yoke wouldn’t be the most flattering for the generously endowed, but I really liked the pattern all the same. So I decided to make it a V, to break up the expanse a bit, as it were. At the front mid-point I began knitting back and forth, leaving the centre stitch on a safety pin. Having done two inches in garter, however, this did mean knitting half the yoke fully in knit, and the other half fully in purl, to maintain the evenness of the garter stitch. If you want to avoid this, you could make the V-neck deeper, and knit back and forth right from the beginning of the yoke.
5) Hood: After completing the yoke, I felt the sweater still looked kinda unfinished, and that’s when the hooded Wallaby idea stepped in. I cast off (after some consultation with LittleMousling on Ravelry!), and picked up stitches for the hood to give the neckline more structure. After an inch, I increased 24 stitches evenly across, to make the hood roomier. I knit for 10 inches total, decreasing gradually at the centre the last two inches, and then joining the two halves of the hood with a three-needle bind-off. I toyed with the idea of a pocket, but felt that would make the sweater look altogether too busy.
6) Placket and I-Cord: Finally, I began picking up stitches at the top of the hood, and all around the hood and V-neck opening. I knit two rows in reverse stockinette, with three YO, K2tog holes on the second row on both sides of the neck. I cast off with a size 7 needle the third row, and heaved a massive sigh of relief that the damn neckline did not pucker. I knit an I-Cord with only two stitches, threaded it in, and was done!
I cannot emphasise how thrilled I am with the final outcome, both for the way it looks, and for the way in which I was able to make the desired modifications work out. Of course, this meant I had to really dive into the frogpond, but it was totally worth it. Even though designing my own sweaters is still in the future, I do think I am getting more confident about visualising modifications to existing patterns and figuring out ways to put them in practice. I will wear this Cobbleby a.k.a. Wallastone for years, hopefully. I certainly will wear it continuously for the remainder of my Spring break till Monday!
Thanks so much everyone for your kind comments on the puff-sleeved cardigan! I am very pleased with it, and delighted that y’all liked it as well. A couple of you asked if the short-sleeves made the whole wool-sweater thing redundant, but I find that they work very well for this springy weather here in the bay area. I’ve worn it incessantly since I finished it, and with a scarf, it’s perfect even for cooler evenings, not just for the nice 60sish days we’ve been having. And the wool is lighter than a cotton short-sleeved cardigan would be, so it doesn’t feel too warm at all.
In fact, I liked the idea of the short-sleeves so much that I swatched for another pattern, Norah Gaughan’s Currer I bought the Vol. 2 booklet at Stitches, and amazingly, Cascade Eco +, supposedly 3.5 stitches to the inch, gets me the right gauge for this pattern at 4.5 stitches, on size 8 needles. My loose knitting never fails to amaze me. The colour is 0958, a rusty shade that looks much better when wound and swatched than in the skein. I’m still not sure if I am going to like the thick gauge overall, but the yarn is cheap enough, and the sweater small and unusual enough that I’m willing to try it. And did I mention that I worship Norah?
Also, my Cobblestone hobbles along. This is the third attempt at a yoke, starting the decreases well before the pattern calls for them, and also trying something with a v-ish neck. Wish me luck, because I am totally winging this. I have a weird picture in my head about how the overall finished sweater is supposed to look, and no amount of stringing and wearing is giving me a sense of whether it will fit, as yet. It involves several mods other than the split in front, so keep your fingers crossed that they will all work out. Unfortunately, since I didn’t bother to decrease the short rows before I split the neck, I’m having to do the garter stitch in a funny way – half of it is fully-knit, the other half fully-purl, changing over at the centre back. Ah well.
Spring break begins this weekend. I just revised and sent an article to a journal, and have only a dissertation and a couple of papers to read over the next week. Dare I hope that this will be done soon? Wish me luck, and stay tuned.
Knitting, knitting, I have actual FO pictures!
This one should have got done a long time ago. In fact, I completed its first iteration before I went to Portugal, and had every intention of photographing its puffed sleeves against a cathedral or red-roofed background. Alas, that version turned out way too baggy. So I took a deep breath, remembered my new year resolution to embrace the frogging, ripped it out back to the armholes and reknit it to more fitting dimensions:
People say that top-down raglans are easy to wear and check for fit as you go along, but I find that very difficult to do somehow, even with stitches slipped to a string. I certainly thought I was going for the right amount of ease the first time round, but when I bound off the sleeves and wore the finished sweater, I realised I shouldn’t have budgeted for 3 extra inches. The second one has zero ease, and surprisingly, I am much happier with the fit:
Please forgive the slightly blurry picture. For some reason hardly any of the zillion self-timered pictures I took came out crystal clear. But you can tell I am happy with the sweater, can’t you? Admittedly, my patience had waned after a while, and my face took on that long-suffering look all teachers reading this will readily recognize below, but it is a marginally more focused picture:
Pattern: “Puff-sleeved Feminine Cardigan” from Stephanie Japel’s Fitted Knits.
Yarn: Cascade 220, 3.75 skeins approx in a green heather, # 9459
I love the little waist darts in the pattern, which really allow the fabric to mould itself to the body. The other pattern I have made from this book is the Back-to-School Vest, and both have taught me to trust the “give” and ease of knitted fabric a bit more than I have done in the past, and the benefits of subtle shaping for a more flattering fit overall. The raglan sleeves and neck shaping on this cardigan are also very simple, and I enjoyed making the whole sweater. Even though the pattern has a lot of shaping, it’s easy to modify to your shape. I like Japel’s designs, and am queuing the Simple V-neck pullover from the same book.
1) I changed the lace peplum. The original one called for a lot of increased stitches, and I didn’t like that flare at the bottom, so I only increased enough to get the stitch count back to what it was at the chest. Also, my first version had a plain peplum with YOs for the increases, but the second time round I added YO, SSK, K2tog, YO lines uniformly across the peplum, interspersed with the single YO increases. I like the simpler gradient and lace lines.
2) I added twenty rows of stockinette at the waist to make the sweater longer by 4 inches or so. The first version was a little short and I kept pulling at it.
3) Since I had fewer stitches at the sleeves the second time, I did only two rounds of SSK decreases.
4) I knit the 7-stitch seed-stitch buttonhole panels along with the main pattern, rather than adding it later. I also made slightly bigger buttonholes since I had hoped to find large buttons for this one, but I ended up finding gorgeous, small Celtic buttons at the Blackwater Abbey stall at Stitches West, and hope my buttonholes don’t stretch too much!
All in all, I’m very happy with this one, and wore it all over the place today, even to Stash, where I impulsively went and bought something for a project (will show you next time!) and Rebekah took a picture for me against the Manos. Thankfully, the sweater is just the right mix of puff-sleeved and feminine for me to feel comfy in it.
I had a long and ponderous post about an exciting and exhausting week in Lisbon, full of Serious Observations. In many ways this was a difficult trip for me, with old bittersweet memories and new challenges. But I read it over and yawwwwwwwwn, people. Never mind all that. In keeping with the low-on-text and high-on-pixel approach of the last post, therefore, I’m attempting a simpler recipe.
Take some red roofs in bright sunlight:
Add some history (an old Moorish castle, a few medieval lanes, and the irony of capturing the monument to Portuguese global power at sunset):
Blend in a generous helping of old and new friends, fresh seafood and red wine, and the delicious melancholia of fado…
…and I do believe it will all taste very good indeed!
I did lots of knitting, and will show detailed progress (or more accurately, lack thereof) in a couple of days once I have some photos. Strong winds delayed my flight back by a day, about which I was really annoyed at first, but then thankful after seeing this video. So I have a ton of work to catch up on. But hey, in the meantime, here is a yarn store right in downtown Lisbon, in Baixa-Chiado. The euro prices for the mostly acrylic blends kept me from buying, but the colour selections were to die for.