I spend a lot of time working with wool, yet know woefully little about the critters it comes from. I was intrigued and delighted to read Carole George’s book The Lambs.
Essentially a memoir, the book tells the story of the author’s journey from international lawyer to the owner of a flock of sheep which she added to her farm in Virginia because her father thought “poetry country” calls for sheep. The book unravels the question that “poetry country” might pose. The relationship between her and her father was beautiful and touching. They shared a deep love of poetry and other literature.
I enjoyed Carole George’s highly personal writing style. Her amazing accomplishments as an attorney are told with humility. Giving it all up in order to pursue her dream of having sheep seemed courageous and remarkable to me. One of the things I enjoyed the most about the book is that wonderful photographs of her farm and the sheep illustrate her narrative.
I also liked the way she scattered throughout the book what she learned about the special Karakul sheep. I felt like I was discovering their history right along with her. Common to Asia, where their curly pelts are used for coats, jackets and hats, the sheep have fat tails which help them survive in times of scarcity. I found an online source for Karakul yarn. Solitude Wool describes it as “fabulously feltable, exceptionally insulating and extremely strong, but, it’s quite coarse and has no elasticity. The undyed colors are heathered and beautiful, but it takes dye brilliantly.” It sounds like pretty hardy stuff!
It’s not exactly a spoiler alert to say that sheep do not live forever. As a matter of fact, it was hard to anticipate the life span of the Karakuls, as most sheep do not live out their natural lives, being slaughtered for meat and pelts. Carole George kept her sheep more as pets, but they had their share of veterinary problems as they aged. Even their maladies offered interesting glimpses into sheep physiology.
I highly recommend this sweet book. My favorite quote from it is, “…when the human spirit is in harmony with itself, it is, at the same time, in harmony with the intelligence of nature.” The author crafted a contemplative life for herself, allowing a deep connection with her flock.
The “surprise” in this pattern becomes apparent when you look at the stripes on one side… then turn it over. Magically, the stripes are vertical on one side and horizontal on the other!
Even though this design is structurally a double knit, the pattern is simply written to use only knit, purl and slip stitches, making it easy enough for a less-experienced knitter. At the same time, more advanced knitters find the pattern easy to memorize and a great choice for social knitting.
This pattern lends itself well to experimenting with different yarns for different looks. Try highly contrasting solid colors like to ones shown above for a bold look, tone on tone for a more subtle look (think similar solids, or tweeds, or heathers), a mixture of textures such as mohair and plied, or even gradient or self-striping yarn paired with a solid.
Gradient and Solid (Photo by Colleen Rosenthal)
The lace on one side and cables on the other make it different but pretty on both sides. The part I like the best, if I do say so myself, is the reversible ruffles on each end. They’re so sweet!
This is one of my favorite patterns to knit from Reversible Scarves: Curing the Wrong Side Blues so I made one for myself for fall.
The pattern calls for Karabella Aurora 8 – a yarn I truly adore. This time, though, I used the Allspice color in Knit Picks’ Swish Worsted. It’s just right for fall.
I love the Cables and Knots pattern from my book Reversible Scarves: Curing the Wrong Side Blues. It’s now available through Ravelry and Love Knitting as an individual pattern. It’d make a great holiday gift, if you can stand to give it away!
The jaunty cables form scalloped edges on this scarf. They’re the same on both sides so it’s reversible.
I wrote the instructions for the knots to make them simple and not overly fussy (think bobbles). The pattern includes instructions for casting on and binding off in pattern, as an option for adding mirrored polish to the scarf’s ruffled ends.
The scarf can be dressed up or dressed down, and is as cheery to knit as it is to wear!
Looking back over previous posts, I discovered much to my chagrin that I first wrote about starting my Drumlin sweater by Amy Herzog over a year ago! I finished it last summer, then Life intervened and I wasn’t able to blog much. Now I’m back, and here’s Drumlin, using the fantastic CustomFit program I’ve been raving about.
I’m happy with how the CustomFit instructions put just the right shaping in just the right places to fit my own body. Placing the shaping on the front and back of the sweater makes it much more attractive than the side shaping I’d been used to. You can see on the back how the shaping occurs about 1/4 of the way in from the sides.
One of the things I learned was that when adding pockets to the front of a sweater with this sort of shaping, the pocket will droop if the shaping isn’t compensated for. Because of the decreases, the top of the pocket spans fewer stitches than the base of the pocket. I took two stitches out of the upper part of the pockets so they’d lie flat. Here you can see where the decreases for the body shaping are, and why the pocket had to be adjusted:
This is a seamed sweater, which I actually prefer over a seamless sweater. Yes, it’s more work, but I like having the structure – my seamed sweaters wear better because they’re less prone to stretching. (As an aside…I am soooooo very grateful to The Knitting Guild Association (TKGA) for their Master Hand Knitting Program! Working Level 2 forced me to learn how to seam properly, so I’m no longer intimidated by seaming and am happy with the results.)
Drumlin was the perfect pattern for my first foray into using CustomFit. It’s very basic, so I could concentrate on the customization that CustomFit created for me. It’s given me the confidence to use CustomFit for more projects. Plus it has proven to be a much-loved staple of my wardrobe.
I made several modifications to the pattern:
I wanted the 2×2 ribbing to look continuous. To do that, I needed a multiple of 4 (2 knit sts and 2 purl sts), plus 2 sts for seaming. Where the pattern’s cast on count was 60 sts for the sleeves, I cast on 58 and then increased back up to 60 within the final (WS) row of ribbing. Seaming will use up 1 st at each end of the row, so by starting and ending each row with 2 knit sts, the final result is also 2 knit sts flanked by 2 purl sts. Nice continuous ribbing!
Where the bottom ribbing meets the button band I wanted there to be 2 knit ribs on each side of the button band. In planning for the ribbing for each front piece, I made sure there was a 3rd knit stitch that would be used for picking up the button band, leaving only the two knit ribs visible on each side of the bands.
On the back I used 3 pairs of short rows toward the top of the armholes to bring the back up higher.
For the button band/neck trim and top-of-pocket ribbing, I used a needle one size smaller (#4). This gives the bands a bit more structure.
In order to make the neck trim lie flat, about 1″ in from the beginning of the band, I p2tog on each side of a k2 in the ribbing at the corners where the stitches along the back neck meet the sts that start the neck shaping (dec 4 sts). This allows the band to lie flat along the back of the neck. In the photo below you can see the decreases in the 2×2 neck trim; these make the neck trim lie down perfectly.
I saw a suggestion somewhere to cheat the button holes slightly toward the body of the sweater in order to mitigate the tendency to pull toward the outside edge of the band. So I’ve tried that. This was a nifty trick as the buttons look centered when the cardi is buttoned up, rather than pulling to the side of the band.
I love learning little bits and pieces along the way that help me make my sweaters more refined!