A Tiny Exaggeration

I am amazed and bemused to report that I stopped knitting for a month. There was too much travel and too much work, both adding up to too much stress, even though of a good kind, the stress of accomplishment and success; but whenever I tried to pick up any knitting, my mind cringed and said “No!”

So odd!

Once all the travelling was done I tried to start, but couldn’t. My Ravelry queue, full of things I’d longed to make, bored me. The sight of my WIPs exhausted me. Fondling skeined yarn irritated me. Nothing new inspired me. So I just stopped knitting.

In the meanwhile, I’d been discussing a baby sweater with a pregnant friend. And what a pleasure it is, to discuss gifts with people who know exactly what they want! A clear “yes” or “no” is so much more helpful than “whatever you like”!

After some discussion, the design brief was as follows: great looking rather than intended for the long-term; to be used for the newborn photoshoot then framed, so would have to be the smallest size; no insipid pastels; no dull colours like brown or black; to suit a super-cool individual who just happened to be an infant. The sort of infant who sits in plush velvet armchairs in his library, in horn-rimmed glasses, reading leather bound books and smoking cigars (ok, perhaps the last bit is a trifle exaggerated!!).

So of course I knew it had to be a shawl collar smoking jacket. With stripes or colourwork for emphasis. And matching booties. And some extravagant colourwork on the cap to show off my knitting skills. And since the kid would outgrow everything in a month, why not a toy which he could use for a longer time? Everything colour coordinated of course!


And lo and behold: even as I was planning it all out my knitting mojo came back! I suppose a baby set was different enough to tickle my brain and get it going again. I also managed to use up a lot of scraps yet make a coherent colour scheme, so felt happy about that too.

All yarn and gauge details are on each item’s Ravelry page. Briefly, here’s the final set:

Baby Sophisticate Cardigan– I should have ‘shawlled’ the collar more, but needed to save the yellow yarn for the rest of the items.

Saartje’s Booties – made with as few ends as possible to avoid the previous set’s nightmarish millions of ends to sew in.

Cap – simple garter brim cap with colourwork quickly charted out on paper.

Purlbee Hedgehog – ran out of the fuzzy white at the bottom of the belly and had to use the heathered grey. Did three rows of 1×1 checkerboard pattern to make the colour change look intentional, and I quite like the effect now! Added bowtie in same yellow yarn from other garments so that it looks like part of the set.


And that’s it! Thank you Baby E (whose name is still unknown, but who has been informed at an embryonic stage that his middle name shall be Exaggeration, so I can call his mother the ‘Mother of Exaggeration’) for making me happy to knit again!

Linking Up

I’ve finished most of the Chainlink pullover!

top done

I’d been going like a house on fire, when I ran out of yarn. I had foolishly underestimated the yardage consumed by all the dangly bits, and so had to wait a while until the new skeins arrived. Luckily, they are the same dye lot!

The top part, converted to a seamless raglan and the neck shaped with short-rows, is done. Now I only need to do the bottom rectangular flaps at the sides. And then I’ll be truly finished.

I have to admit to a strange dread while saying that, though. The thought of even more knitting on this, after already doing so much is just… just.. just. I was whinging a little to myself when I tilted the camera to take another angle, and look!

Natural bokeh

Natural bokeh!

Now I suppose that is as good as sign as any that I need to continue with this sweater, but I’m the jaded, cynical sort so I tried on the sweater. Unblocked and incomplete it is still a beautiful garment. Ok, on to the bottom flaps then.

Done and Done!

Not one FO but two!

04 front

Burrard fits just as I like it this time round. I’ve written all about the various elements before, so this is just pretty pictures. It was totally worth it to unravel and redo this one instead of giving it away. Look at the fresh, petal-like colour!

The older version (left, below) was quite tight and pulled up every time I wore it. I hated the way the cables were distorted, and it was also kind of useless since I couldn’t wear any layers inside. The new one (right, below) still fits perfectly because of all the shaping, but has plenty of ease for inner layers. And the length is correct for an outerwear sweater! Ravelled here.

full 02  02 front

And also, an Epistropheid, using leftovers from my Dusseldorf pullover. I’m a bit bummed, though, that I still have a quarter of a skein left. I hate hanging on to leftovers!

004 slouch 2

I was going to make a ginormous pompom, but that would have hidden the extremely pretty crown shaping, so there it is. I started this without a gauge swatch or anything, and it was a quick two-day knit, so am very pleased with how it worked out!

002 flat back

Ravelled here.

Wintage Wednesday

(Better than Vintage Vednesday?)

Slimline jumper

This versatile sweater would indeed be an asset to my wardrobe, girlish or not, if I could get my arms through it. Note, however, that when I knitted it in November 2006 the sleeves were actually loose! Alas, no more.


After my pink 70’s pullover taught me about gauge, I was determined to Get It Right. I made a swatch, counted my stitches and rows per inch, and laboriously (and, yes, it was tortuously complicated — I remember feeling breathless with relief when my saddle stitch counts matched up with corresponding pieces just like the original pattern did) recalculated the sweater, since the pattern had a different gauge. This was my second garment, and I hadn’t yet caught on to the idea of changing needle sizes to get a different gauge. As for trying to match yarn, without Ravelry, without knowledge of the start of the knitting explosion on the internet, I was marooned on an island of my own resources and understanding. I knew, from the gauge information and needles required that it was fairly thin yarn. So I went and bought some fairly thin but reasonably soft, unbranded, acrylic yarn. I still use the remainders as scraps to hold live stitches.

The body of the pullover is a fairly simple construction, relying on ribbing for a clingy fit. The front is deeply split above the hem ribbing and a CC band fills the gap. Both front and back end with a raglan shoulder. The sleeves are unusual: they start as raglans and continue as saddles along the top of the shoulder. But the saddles themselves are split into two, with decreases along both sides of the split; you’re left with two long, skinny, triangles which are seamed together to form a fatter, triangular, saddle.

Funny how memories surface. I remember knitting this at a friends place and her little brother commenting on how hypnotic it was to watch. And then and old friend called, but I didn’t want to meet up that day and was flying to Bangalore the next day. I also remember watching an episode of Horizon or Nova on the flight, and wondering if I should have met my friend. That was November 2006.

Ravelled here.

Life, The Universe and Everything

The answer to the universe’s biggest question is found in the number of loose ends to weave in on the back of my Burrard – 42.


The re-re-knitting on this is done, I have to weave in all those ends, block it, sew it up and work the collar. I normally do the collar before sewing in sleeves, but this one has saddle shoulders, so the whole thing will have to flop around on my lap while I knit the collar. Will I have enough yarn? How thrilling not to know! The whole sweater is now bigger, plus I lost some sections in the unravelling because of incorrect snipping of seams. So while I had lots of left over yarn the first time round, this time… I’m just saying that the swatch should fear for its life.

I also needed a palate cleanser, so I started an Epistropheid in left-overs from my Golden Dusseldorf sweater and some lovely pale cream yarn. I changed the brim to a twisted rib and love it already. That golden, healthy, yolk yellow!


Vintage Vednesday

(Sounds snappier than Wintage Wednesday?)

This one, ladies and gentlemen, I do believe, is my first self-knit garment!


My mother won an academic prize in college, and the loot consisted of a book on nuclear physics and a magazine of knitting and crochet patterns. She was very pleased, because they covered her interests perfectly!

The pattern magazine is “Fashion Knits 73”, by Patons, and features, among other things, a rather medieval-looking, cowl-hooded wedding dress in seed stitch! Apart from these … curiosities… many of the patterns are quite stylish and wouldn’t look odd today. I’ll probably feature more of them later, but this post is the story of the pink sweater.


In the book, it is part of a coordinating set and has stripes. My own sweater is plain, and was born out of extreme frustration – a combination of shopping hatred and lack of winter garments. I thought gauge was a vague thing only advanced knitters needed to consider, and spent the last quarter of 2004 making a too-short and too-wide vest. A couple of years later, in 2006, I ripped it out and re-knit it after making several corrections: notably adjusting stitch counts to my own gauge but also finessing the appearance by ensuring that the fat ribs were aligned with three thin ones instead of being offset.

I don’t wear it at all because the yarn, which seemed the ultimate in fuzzy elegance when I started knitting, now feels very acrylic-y to my snobby fingers. Come to think of it, I hardly wore it when I made it, because I always need full coverage in winter. I think I’ll gift it to someone instead of torturing the yarn with another unravelling!

 Ravelled here.

Pink Worms and White Flowers

Over the weekend my beautiful Burrard pullover turned into a pile of worms…


Which had a good swim, and then relaxed overnight in a cool breeze. I had a gauge issue with my first iteration of the sleeves and back and had to redo them; but even after that the whole sweater still turned out too small.

Or rather, it was a close fit. Now I love snug fitting sweaters in thin yarn, they’re great layering pieces. But equally, I loathe thick, woolly, cabley stuff that fits like a sausage casing. This was a sweater that shrank in length every time I pulled it over my body, one whose sleeves rode up and exposed wrists to the cold, one which wouldn’t allow me to wear an insulating layer inside. And I guess I’m too much of a product knitter to keep a winter sweater that couldn’t be worn in winter. If it’s cold enough to wear a cabled, long-sleeved sweater, it’s cold enough to need a thin layer or two inside! I thought of giving it away, but realised I love the colour and pattern too much to abandon the project – I will knit it again. 

This time I’m using stitch counts from my Dusseldorf pullover, which fits just as I want a thick, cabley sweater to do. Third time lucky? Fingers crossed!

But look: a new needle roll!

needle roll

I used this pattern and leftover fabric from this blouse. While some of my needles are occupied with other projects, these are, basically, all the needles I own. I built them up carefully, buying sizes I use most often, and I love the clean and spare functionality of a curated needle collection!


So this happened:

3 Oshima front 4

It took a couple of weeks of travel knitting, and my great frustration with its speed and ease of knitting was that the one time I decided to be sensible about the amount of yarn I packed, the sweater practically knit itself. Even with all the brioche. So I had to pack away the unfinished piece and think longingly of the two remaining skeins at home.

Oshima front neck

I had originally intended this yarn for a Slanting Gretel Tee, but felt an extreme reluctance to cast on. Perhaps that was knitters’ intuition warning me that the yarn and pattern were not well matched? That I was on the verge of generating clown vomit? Most variegated yarns look like gorgeous works of art in the skein, but like clown vomit knitted up.

And that’s because the beauty of the skein comes from horizontal lines of colour, like brush strokes mingling and interweaving:

Punta Merisoft

Once knitted up, those painterly strokes become weird zig-zags, colours pool, and everything becomes messy.


They key to avoiding that is a stitch pattern which maintains those horizontal lines. Like garter:


Or, even better, linen stitch:


Now my yarn wasn’t as variegated as the one above (Punta Yarns Merisoft Handpainted Aran), but still behaved badly when knitted. Behold the pretty, pretty skein:

Malabrigo Rios Lotus

And the horrid, squiggly stockinette:

Blotchy Oshima

So I took the lazy way out: the easiest way to get horizontal lines of yarn is to umm, just flip everything over so that reverse stockinette is the right side.

Horizontal Oshima

To avoid pooling I alternated skeins, but switched to a single skein in the brioche section since there is enough going on within the stitch pattern to prevent colours from stacking up.

And finally, my thoughts on the pattern. I had loved and queued it ages ago, and thought a lot about what finding the perfect yarn. And then, a couple of weeks ago, realised I already had the yarn. No other projects had been knitted in variegated yarn, but surely colours in the same family would not disrupt those architectural brioche lines? (They don’t).

2 Oshima back 3

Like all Brooklyn Tweed patterns, this one had way more ease than I like. So I generated the sweater body with CustomFit, switching to Oshima instructions once the brioche started. The starting line of the brioche forms a strong horizontal component, and I tried to position it where I figured it would be more flattering – just a little above the underbust – by eliminating about an inch of straight knitting from the front and back yokes. The Oshima pattern also has an equal number of stitches front and back, which really doesn’t work for me. I ended up with more stitches on the front anyway, thanks to the CustomFit instructions, so decreased those stitches in the horizontal neck BO. I also added short row bust shaping (in addition to the regular increases and decreases generated in the CustomFit pattern) in the reverse stockinette section just below the yoke. I omitted the folded cuffs, using 1×1 twisted ribbing there and at the hem.

Then, the collar: Yes, it really does use four needle sizes! But it’s worth it, because compressing and expanding the knitting gives it that beautiful drape. My collar ended up shorter than the pattern, but I’m pretty happy with it. Knitting it to full length would have required another full skein.

Final thoughts: Love it! Love the trim shaping (the original is gorgeous but slouchy, and I really don’t do slouchy), the architectural lines of brioche shaping and the squishy collar. High necks aren’t usually recommended for busty people, but the deep curve of the collar’s edge functions visually like a scoop neck, so it remains flattering.

And yeah, the collar is stylable:

5 Oshima collar 61 Ohshima collar 5

Pattern: Oshima, body generated with CustomFit
Yarn: Malabrigo Rios; 100% superwash wool; 192m = 100g; 5 skeins; “Lotus”
Needles: 5.5mm straights for all reverse stockinette (worked lever style); 4.5mm for hems, cuffs, yoke brioche and 3rd section of cowl; 4.0mm for first section of cowl; 3.5mm for second section of cowl; 5.0mm for fourth section of cowl.
Ravelled: here