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13 May 2014 / freakapotimus

Roanoke summer tee

Hand-knit shirt over maxi skirt

The weather is getting warmer, but I’m still knitting! Last week I finished and blocked my Roanoke tee and after three days of drying (!!) I finally wore it last Friday.

Roanoke shirt

I mean, just look at the lace detail on this piece and tell me that’s not gorgeous. It’s what attracted me to Triona Murphy’s Roanoke pattern in the first place. I had tons of Ella Rae Lace Merino around, bought for another project that I realized later would not work for me. So I fired up Ravelry and searched for a cute little summer shirt. Roanoke is worked on US size 6 needles with fingering weight, so the looser gauge makes it a cooler shirt, even when knit in merino yarn.

Roanoke shirt

I knit the 43.25″ size almost exactly as written. The only adjustment I made was the inclusion of vertical bust darts, based on Amy Herzog’s Fit to Flatter tutorials. Sadly those are no longer online, but she does offer those techniques in both her book and her classes.

Roanoke shirt

I tried it on as soon as I finished knitting, and worried a little that it was too snug. There was definitely a lot of negative ease, even more than I usually like. Wonderfully, blocking fixed that. (Funny how that works, eh?) I’m still on the lookout for a boho-style flowy blouse, but I’m more than happy to fit my knits closer to the body.

25 April 2014 / freakapotimus

Stripey chevron CustomFit sweater vest

Shirtdress with sweater vest

Dude. I have made the most amazing stripey chevron sweater vest.

I’ve wanted a stripey chevron sweater vest ever since I saw Mia’s vest ages ago. I’d already made one attempt at knitting a vest, but it was a terrible failure. Back too big, neckline too high… and since I’d made my own varying-width stripes with six different colors of yarn, I wasn’t in the mood to rip it all out and start all over. Determined to eventually have my own vest, I decided to use a self-striping yarn for the next project.

Sweater vest, side

When KnitPicks announced they would be discontinuing Felici Sport, I grabbed some up on clearance, in the Recess colorway. By using a self-striping yarn, I was giving up the freedom to create my own stripe width, but it was worth it for the option to not weave in 87 million ends for the front.

Once I had my colorway for the front, it was time to pick one for the back! I wanted a solid back, also like Mia’s vest, and went with Stroll Sport, which is also discontinued, in the Peapod colorway. This green is more pronounced than the green in Recess, but I think they compliment each other perfectly.

Also? Because I got everything on clearance discount, I barely spent $32 for the yarn and I still have 2 balls of Felici and 1.5 balls of Stroll. Expect to see some winter accessories made with the leftovers in a few months.

Sweater vest, front

To knit this sweater vest, I used Amy Herzog’s CustomFit generator. I love Amy’s patterns; I’ve taken classes with her and have bought her Knit to Flatter book, which is excellent, but for this pattern, I wanted to try the generator. It’s pretty awesome! It forces you to knit a swatch (I know, I know) and count your own stitches and rows, instead of trying to make gauge for someone else’s pattern. It then takes your own tension and a whole buttload of measurements, asks what type of sweater you’d like (sleeves, neckline, trim, etc), and spits out a perfect pattern for $9.99.

The pattern was great and easy to follow, so all I had to do worry about the chevrons. I had a basic stitch pattern, but using a little math and the cast-on stitch count of 151, I came up with this repeat for my main pattern:

R1: k5, k2tog, [k5, yo, k, yo, k5, sl 2, k1, p2sso], k5, yo, k, yo, k5, ssk, k5
R2: Purl entire row

All was well and good until I got to the armhole and neckline shaping. CustomFit provides the directions for decreasing, but it was up to me to make sure my stitch count in the chevrons remained consistent throughout the shaping. I think I was a little off, but not by much. Of course, this is probably only an issue I can see.

Sweater vest, back

I am busty and I have a squishy belly, but a fairly narrow back, often requiring me to make many modifications to the back pieces of shirts and sweaters. I’ve sometimes knit the back piece a size or two smaller, but then had to ensure the lengths were the same, or that the armholes would match up. Knitting this back was amazingly straightforward, as I knit it exactly as the pattern directed. There may be just slightly more ease that I would usually knit, but it definitely doesn’t take away anything in my love for this vest.

The tl;dr: I love my stripey chevron sweater vest, and I highly recommend the CustomFit generator to anyone who usually has trouble knitting ready-made patterns to fit.

19 February 2014 / Joanna

traveling light: the big move

I’m moving to England next week. The past month has been a whirlwind of packing, disposing, and giving away of things. I’m happy, excited, and a little terrified. Good times!

I don’t want to buy all new tools in England, so I made myself a very thorough needle and tool kit. I used my KnitPicks Options set at the main collection and fit tools and some addition needles in the same bag. I love how sleek and compact it all is.


One of the toughest parts has been dealing with my stash and unfinished projects. After a decade of knitting I’ve amassed a little bit of yarn. ::cough::threelargebinsfull::cough:: And I had more than a few unfinished projects on needles.

My first step was to decide what projects I would take with me across the pond. Three made the cut: a sweater I started for my husband, The Blankie, and a Pi Shawl that is in it’s last 40 rounds. Traveling with unfinished projects means a lot of the yarn I’m traveling with has been decided. For The Blankie I am taking a quart sized bag of mini skeins.

I moved on to deciding what was never going to be completed. Those projects would be ripped out and recycled. I found four.

Finally, I pulled out what I thought I could finish before leaving. After all I knit reasonably quickly when I’m focused and I had a little time. Of the three I picked I’ve finished two, a pair of socks and a baby blanket. Sadly, a single glove will remain in storage until I visit my mom next.

I’m sock obsessed and even though I know there’s yarn in England, I can’t leave without a skein or two from my stash. I’ve used fingering weight yarn as packing material for the few breakable things I’m taking.

Here’s an example. This box with champagne glasses will be in my carry on bag.


There were still two and a half large bins of wool left after packing and finishing things. I ended up giving some yarn away to friends. I’m down to two storage bins of yarn that will remain at my mom’s.

8 December 2013 / Joanna

Gift Knitting: Slipper Socks By Request

Just before Thanksgiving my father-in-law Tweeted a questions to me. “Do you knit socks, or just hats? I would love another pair of thick socks like my Finnish ones for slobbing around in.”

Somehow he missed the slippers and three pairs of socks my husband wears around the house all the time.

finnish blue socks

My mother-in-law send me a photo of the well-worn Finnish socks. They’re what I expected to see; a heavy-weight pair of socks with a little color-work in the leg. I could easily make something comparable.

I decided to knit from my abundant stash of yarn. Earlier this summer I inherited several skeins of Lion Brand Fisherman’s Wool in three complementary colors: nature’s brown, natural, and oatmeal. This wool is perfect for this type of project. I settled on brown as the main color for the socks with a pattern in oatmeal.

Deciding the pattern took a bit longer. I didn’t want to chart my own as that takes more time and experimentation, instead I used Ravelry’s pattern search to find something I could knit with the least amount of modification.

Nancy Bush to the rescue!┬áHer Eesti Trail Hiking Socks looked perfect for my needs.┬áHere’s what I had finished a week later. I think my father-in-law will be pleased.

brown white slipper socks 2 brown white slipper socks

16 November 2012 / freakapotimus

Francis Revisited

Cowl-neck sweater and plaid skirt

In my last post, I mentioned a couple of the sweaters I would be working on for the upcoming cold-weather season, and here one is! The pattern is Francis Revisited, it’s free, it’s quick, and I absolutely love it.

No, seriously, this pattern is quick! I bought six skeins of Ultra Alpaca at All About Yarn on September 5, I cast on for the sweater on September 6, and I finished weaving in the ends on September 15. I would have worn it on September 16, if the weather had cooperated with my ideas for fall clothing.

My intentions were to wear this outfit, as seen above, when we visited Rhinebeck for the NY Sheep and Wool festival last month, but with temperatures in the upper 60s (F) that weekend, there was no way I was going to wear an alpaca/wool blend sweater! Instead, I wore my Red Marigolds cardigan over my favorite flower-print dress.

Copper and blue earrings

Top-down raglan sweaters are my preferred to knit, and this one was an absolute dream. Mostly stockinette, with seed stitch detailing in the hem, cuffs, and cowl. I added 4 of short rows at the bust, for added length, but didn’t increase any in the width. I then moved the decreases for waist shaping to the back instead, and did additional increases at the side and back for hip and butt shaping. In the end, I only used four skeins of Ultra Alpaca for this sweater.

You can view my Francis project on Ravelry. You can also download Francis Revisited pattern from Ravelry.

6 September 2012 / freakapotimus

Labor Day is over, time for sweaters!

Knitting for cooler weather

Fall is just around the corner, and I’m looking forward to layers of yarn, maybe while drinking a pumpkin spice latte with a fresh apple pie baking in the oven. It is still hot and sticky in my neck of the woods, but that is not keeping me from daydreaming about warm and wooly jumpers.

I have two sweaters in mind, and my goal is to have at least one of them finished by the time the temperatures drop enough to wear it. Ever since knitting Cadence last year, I have less and less desire to work a sweater from the bottom-up. Luckily, there is no lack of top-down patterns out there.

First up in my queue is Francis Revisited, a simple top-down raglan pullover with a deep cowl neck. The pattern calls for a worsted-weight alpaca yarn, and my mind immediately went to Berroco Ultra Alpaca, a lovely yarn I used last year to knit a sweater for my mother. Being super impatient, I ran out to my local yarn shop yesterday, and lo and behold! There was just enough Redwood Mix for the sweater. Success!

As soon as I’ve finished Francis (I’m optimistic, what can I say?) then it will be time for Agatha, a lacy cropped cardigan perfect for layering. The pattern suggests knitting with Cascade 220, and as luck would have it, there are eight skeins of Cascade 220 Tweed in green in my stash! I originally bought this to knit my dad’s cozy sweater, but switched that out to Malabrigo instead. Convenient for me, this winter.

Have you already started your fall and winter knitting? What projects have you got lined up?

26 August 2012 / Joanna

Knitting for Cheapskates: $6.34 Socks

Sometimes you just don’t have a lot of money to spend toward a project. Luckily, it’s absolutely possible to knit nice things on the cheap.

These socks were inspired by my being broke, curiosity about the yarn, and AC Moore having this particular colorway on sale. $3.17 per skein for 70% wool? How could I resist?


Pattern: Wendy’s Generic Toe-Up Socks
Yarn: Red Heart, Heart and Sole in watercolor stripe
Needle: US 1

I found the yarn to be a little splitty, but otherwise it was okay to work with. There were no knots, no random bits of stuff, the colors are even throughout, all was good. The two skeins were wound in opposite directions, which I thought was funny. I wasn’t aiming for identical stripes, but rewinding wouldn’t have been a problem if I was.

Here they are, washed and dried and very comfy.