sweaters

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I knit this cardigan last summer for publication; I planned to submit it to Knitty, but never got it together:

I haven’t worn it really, but it is lovely – perhaps this week.  It is knit from Rowan Wool Cotton, which is a wonderful yarn.  I used to want to knit with yarns that mix a lot of colour and texture — yarn this is on the continuum approaching novelty yarn, but not as far as eyelash.  Now I find that I want to knit with smooth yarns that hold texture well — like Classic Elite Classic One Fifty.  They just seem more wearable, which is ironic as I haven’t worn this one yet — part of this is that it is cropped and I haven’t been sure what to wear it with.

I think that the answer is a blouse — form fitting t-shirts underneath somehow feel a bit wrong with so ladylike a sweater.

I am actually knitting a sweater in Classic One Fifty right now that I have been too lazy to photograph and post about, but perhaps next week.

Classic Elite Yarns has released their new pattern line for summer 2010, including my Feather and Fan Cardi (see the Classic Elite Yarns website and Ravelry page):

I hope you like it — I know I enjoyed knitting it, and happily I made myself one very like it too.  I will post pictures of it when I can get some taken.

I am knitting up a storm on projects I can’t share, so I thought I would share a few projects I have made over the years instead.

First example (Ravelry project link):

bluelacesweater

This was about the fourth sweater I ever knit.  The pattern is by Adrienne Vittadini and was published in Vogue Knitting, Holiday 2003 (Ravelry link here).

The sample was knit in a lovely soft wool, alpaca, mohair blend, but I made mine in a cotton, linen blend, as I wanted a summer sweater.  I think the lace pattern read better in the softer yarn, and I was a little overly ambitious.  There is one glaring mistake in the lace, but overall I was and am happy with it.

Here is one of the pictures of my Tofino sweater from Knitting In the Sun: 32 Projects for Warm Weather by Kristi Porter:

1409knittingkristi_2

As you can see Kristi has a taste for more tasteful colours than me. This one was in knit in Berroco Bonsai in Raku Brown (Ravelry link) and my original sample was knit in Phildar Phil’Bambou in red (Ravelry link), which is a lovely yarn, but it doesn’t have as much memory as the Bonsai.

I am very excited to get this sweater back in a year.

Knitting In the Sun: 32 Projects for Warm Weather by Kristi Porter will be released this weekend:

Excitingly, it includes my pattern “Tofino” (Ravelry link here)

tofino-1

I can’t wait to see the sample in Berroco Bonsai professionally photographed. My copy of the book should get here soon.

The Yarn Forward previews for issue 14, June 2009 are up here, including the pattern for my Forest Inspired Pullover (Ravelry link here):

yf14-sarah-sweater

Image copyright: St Range Photography

It is strange to see my pattern modeled by someone else. I remember Stefanie Japel mentioning feeling that way on her blog, and it is true — the first time it is definately odd, especially as I didn’t knit the sample.

Pictures of my personal version coming soon. . .

What with the season changing and the weather getting cold this weekend, I have been in a bit of a rut with my knitting, but I have pulled some yarn out of my stash (ah, the joys of a well stocked stash — you must take the good with the bad you know) and have started whipping up something this week.

I have been thinking about the stitch pattern on this sweater (The Gibson Girl Pullover by Shirley Paden: Knitting Daily link, Ravelry link) since it was published in the summer 2004 Interweave Knits issue:

I showed my sister and said I wanted one, and she said “of course you want one.”

But, as much as I want it, I don’t think I want exactly that one, partly because it is cold outside, so I am running with it:

Here is the bottom of my tunic length, very close fitting, sweater in Mission Falls 1824 wool. I think it will have three-quarter length sleeves, because that’s what I like.

It’s liberating to knit whatever I like.

I kept having to up the needle size to get the lace pattern to work properly, so now the sweater is knitting up in a whiz.

Sometimes I want to try things — wonderful and clever things. I work them out in my head and work out how to make them happen in yarn. I mess with things and play with them, until it seems like it will all go according to plan — and often it does, but sometimes, just sometimes, it does not.

Here is a sweater I designed all by myself, my first entrelac project:

It is so cute and I am so pleased with it most of the time,

And from most angles.

And then from some angles it just isn’t right at all:

I suppose that if I had thought about it, I should have anticipated that angular garments stay angular on, but I didn’t think about that. I thought about how brilliant I was to come up with a brand new way to make shoulder shaping that no one had ever thought of before, and that the ease would somehow take up the difference.

Ah Hubris, I should have know better — the reason no one else has done this before is that it is just not that good an idea.

I do in fact find that it relaxes after you wear it a while, but I think there is no way to save it from being too “conceptual” for publication. If anyone likes conceptual clothing and the idea of making a sweater in entrelac where the pattern is never broken, I have made the untech-edited pattern available, please download the pattern from Ravelry here.

If you find any errata, please let me know and I will update it. If you download the pattern while being signed in to Ravelry, you will get any pattern updates.

When I was walking through the Calgary airport on Wednesday I was completely stopped in my tracks by the picture of Rachel Weisz in the most fantastic sweater on the cover of American Vogue:

I of course cracked out the wallet immediately.

I want that sweater — well to be accurate I want to make such a sweater. The combination of really loose stitches and slightly fuzzy yarn and colour is just fantastic.

A close up:

I can’t really imagine ever doing a straight knock off, as I perceive the whole point of making my own clothes to be that I can make them however I want to. I plan to do something like this. I have a skein of multicoloured mohair from Colinette that I bought off Ebay, which I think I will use. I never could bring myself to pay new prices, but really what do you do with one skein of mohair (well besides this, which I did with a different skein from the same lot).

I am working out exactly how I want mine to look.

The sweater is by Rodarte. I am completely smitten with the tights he made with loose knitting too. I think I just need to have some, and I know just the person to make that happen.

I have had such a frustrating time photographing this vest. These represent the fourth time we have tried to take good pictures — the last ones were okay, but I think they were too wintery, so here is our latest kick at the can:

The vest is great, but for some reason it hasn’t been easy to photograph well.

If you are interested in buying the pattern, the pattern page is here.

I have been procrastinating on washing this sweater, and now it is June and it still hasn’t been worn. I have been working on it since last August — you would think that was enough time to get the only handmade Christmas present I made last year finished in time, but alas no.


I was enjoying how the sweater looked in the water and thinking about potions and other elixirs whipped up in the kitchen. Perhaps I should start dyeing?

It is no longer really getting later, as it is now too warm to wear it.

Okay, so I was a little disheartened about the whole Christmas present sweater fiasco. I was so demoralized about having to undo the stitching and unraveling the sleeve caps (again) that I kept procrastinating on fixing the problem. Then my mother came to visit, and she suggested just pinning the extra fabric, stitching it, the trimming it, and finishing the edges.

Now I have read about this kind of thing, and I know you can cut your knitting in this way, but I was never sufficiently frustrated to try it before (you see, I am used to my projects turning out).

The whole exercise has been a success and here is a little tutorial in case it ever happens to you:

Here is what the shoulders looked like before:

The beginning

They were in fact worse than they appear in the photo if you can credit it.

The next step was putting the sweater on inside out and pinning it where the seam should be:

After this I basted the shoulder where it seemed like it should be, I did a few iterations of trying on and fixing the seam:

After I was happy with the seam placement, I sewed another line of stitching about three quarters of a centimetre from the first one and trimmed it:

Eek, my knitting is cut. This is something I never wanted to happen:

But in the end it was all worth it, as now it is actually wearable:

So that is the last of my Christmas presents for 2007, yeah!

I have finally convinced my boyfriend to take some better pictures of me in Lyra’s coat:

It is also just warm enough to actually wear it.

Download pattern here: Minimalist funnel neck

This sweater solves my knitting Catch-22: I don’t buy sweaters because this depletes perfectly legitimate yarn resources, and I don’t knit anything ordinary, because why would I want to spend that much time on something that is not fabulous? This means that I never have a plain black cardigan or pullover. This funnel neck pullover solves this paradox, by being a wardrobe basic, while incorporating great yarn and sufficient knitting interest to keep mine.

This sweater is close fitting and an exercise in three dimensional knitting. The whole sweater is knit in one piece from the neck down. I confess one of my parameters was that I wanted a project I could work on without looking, and after the yoke shaping this can be done. The final product is something I would make in more colours and with differing length sleeves and textures, but I am already onto my next eccentric project.

Minimalist funnel neck

Difficulty

intermediate

Size

Finished bust 32 [36, 40, 44]inches (80 [90, 100, 110]cm), shown in size 36 inches (90cm)

Materials

4 (4, 5, 6) skeins Rowan Yorkshire Tweed Aran (100% wool; 175 yd [160m] per 100g), colour#415 Maze

set of US 9 (5.5mm) double-point needles

16″ (40cm) US 9 (5.5mm) circular needle

29″ (74cm) US 9 (5.5 mm) circular needle

Two kinds of stitch markers

Tapestry needle

Gauge

15 sts and 20 rows = 4″ (10cm) in k1, p1 rib, slightly stretched

minimalist funnel neck - back Minimalist funnel neck

Download pattern here: Josephine.

Originally published in Magknits, March 2008

This sweater has much to recommend it: it is warm and cosy and a fast enough knit to be ready before it gets too warm to need it. The cowl can be worn buttoned or open as an oversized collar. There is a minimum of actual direction in this pattern, with most sizing being placed anywhere along the row you like – like many things this pattern shows that random numbers can create great results.

Of course human beings do not make good random number generators as we dislike to see the same number appear consecutively, but for the purposes of this design that is fine, because humans are the beings who will look at your sweater most, and most other humans have the same biases as you.

Difficulty

Easy

Size

33 inch / 84cm (37 inch / 94cm, 41 inch / 104cm, 45 inch / 114cm, 49 inch / 125)

Materials

6 (6, 7, 8, 8) skeins Rowan Big Wool (100% wool, 87 yd [80 m] per 100g); colour: tremble #35

US 17 [12 mm] circular needle, 16 inches (40cm) long

US 17 [12 mm] straight needles

OR

US 17 [12 mm] circular needle, 24-32″ (60-80 cm) long

Stitch markers

Tapestry needle

7 1.75-inch [44 mm] buttons

Gauge

7.5 sts and 10 rows = 4″ [10 cm] in stockinette

I have just finished a project from my stash, and I plan to make the pattern available here in the next few weeks, but I thought I might give you a sneak peek at what was coming:

Gwen

I still need to block it and photograph it properly, so you can get a better idea of what it really looks like.

And just because I love yarn closeups:

gwen-2.jpg

I have received a request from Nikki over at Knitensity for more pictures from different angles for Josephine so here are a few. Please excuse the weird blind shadows.

josephine-2.jpg

josephine-1.jpg

josephine-3.jpg

For some reason I don’t seem to have any pictures of the back, but there is a picture of the yoke shaping on the back in the pattern page. For the free pattern, please see Magknits here.

Pockets

Of course pockets in all knitting projects are optional and the original didn’t have any, but I have more or less dispensed with accurately recreating the sweater exactly (though this pattern could easily be done that way), I also love walking with my hands in my pockets, so mine will have some.

Work your sweater in garter stitch until you get to the part where pockets should be. I suggest trying it on (if you are anything at all like me this will be just the next in a succession in many tryings on) and figuring out where you want pockets.

At this point my sweater looks like this (click to see full size):

lyras-coat-at-pockets.jpg

I am also adding a few stitches for hip shaping here, which is also optional and will depend on the body shape of the person who will wear it. I have already added 2 stitches in one row and will add 2 more a little later, this will add about 2 inches. I chose to do this staggered, so it wouldn’t suddenly bulge – I spend quite a bit of mental energy in clothing selection trying to make my hips not look like they bulge.

The next step is to figure out how wide you want your pockets. I figure I want mine about 6 inches (18cm) wide. Change the width of the pocket to align with the size of the sweater you are making and/or your preferences: smaller sweater = smaller pocket and vice versa.

The next step is to go back and work how wide each front side was. Then I suggest taking the number of stitches on each front side, subtracting the number of stitches to make your pocket the size you want, and dividing the remaining number by 2 and placing your pocket that many stitches from the edge.

Now you know how wide your pocket will be and where to put it, on the next right side row (so the garter pattern will work better) work as many stitches as will be the edge of your pocket, take as many stitches as make your pocket and put them on waste yarn or a stitch holder, CO as many stitches as will make your pocket (I suggest backward loop cast in this situation), work until you are the number of stitches between your pocket and the edge plus the number of stitches for your pocket and repeat the process with the holder and the cast on. Work to end, turn and work as usual.

I plan to work the pockets at the end with one strand of whatever yarn I have left so it will not be too bulky. I will K1, yarn over, K1, yarn over . . . , so the difference in gauge will not be such a problem, and in the next row I will knit through back loop, so there will not be holes from the yarn overs. I will post about this too, but I am outlining it now in case you want to change order of knitting or get ahead of me.

My version

My two fronts are 19 sts each. My gauge is 7 sts /4 inches (10cm).

(6 inches (15cm) for each pocket) x (7 sts / 4 inches (10cm) gauge) = 10.5 sts (say 11 sts) for pocket

(19 sts / front) – (11 sts for pocket) = 8 sts / 2 = 4 sts from edge

Knitting of course is amenable to fudging and now I see that I don’t like the distance from the edge that my calculations came up with, so am am changing it to 6 sts from edge.

So I need to K6, put 11 sts on holder, CO11, K to 16 sts from end, put 11 sts on holder, CO11, work to end. In the next row I work in garter stitch as usual.

This is about what it should look like at this stage:

pockets.jpg

March MagKnits is up, including my Josephine:

Josephine

Note: Since Magknits is unfortunately no more, I have posted this pattern as a free pdf download here.

Lyras Coat with Sleeves

Cast on stitches at underarms and work body of sweater:

This is about what your sweater coat should look like at this stage.

The sleeves are completed and it is now time to put the live stitches from the body back on your needles and cast on some stitches for the underarms.

The first thing you need to do is measure how large your sweater is without casting on for underarms. This means you should measure your two front halves and the back. These numbers combined are how large the sweater is now.

Next, you will need to work out how big it should be. I think I want 6 inches [15cm] ease. This is because I want the sweater to drape like a coat, and coats tend to be bigger, and because the fabric is so thick the inside will be smaller than the outside. (thank you Elizabeth Zimmermann, see Knitter’s Almanac, unfortunately out of print). If your sweater is much smaller, i.e. child’s size, you may want to have slightly less ease (4-5 inches [10-12cm], but that is up to you.

Subtract how big your sweater is from how big you want it to be, this will give you how much you need to cast on for. Divide this amount by two for each underarm and multiply it my your gauge, this will give you the number of stitches to cast on under each arm.

Put all the live stitches onto a long needle (I think you will need a circular needle for this), which will fold the sleeves in half. If you find that you didn’t end one end in the right direction and you will not start your garter stitch on the same (right side or wrong side) row, work one row to make it even.

Starting at the beginning of the row of the stitches you have on your needle, work to the first sleeve, cast on the number of stitches you worked out in the previous step; repeat for the second underarm. You will now have enough stitches on your needle for the complete body of the sweater.

At this point you can decide to work straight until the end of the garment, in which case, you can bid farewell to my instructions, such as they are. Just keep going until you are happy, bind off, sew on your preferred method of closure, sew the sleeve seams, wash the sweater (if you are using old stash yarn and your sweater smells a little fusty), block/dry it, and enjoy.

I however, have decided that I want pockets, I know the original didn’t have any, but I want them and it’s my sweater. I also plan to add a few stitches for a little increased room for my hips and walking stride. If you want either of these things, work to the point at which these things would be appropriate and I will try to catch up to you as soon as I can.

My version:

My sweater without casting on at underarms is as follows:

(11 inches [28cm] x 2 fronts) + 23 inches [58cm] = 45 inches [114cm]

If you think back to the measurement stage, my bust with clothes is 38 inches [97cm]

45 inches [114cm] – (38 inches [97cm] + 6 inches [15cm]) = -1 inch [-2cm]

My sweater turned out to be big enough already, so I will just start knitting the body, but if you need any added under the arms, follow the directions here.

This is what my sweater looked like before I joined for and started working body:

ready to work body

This is what my sweater looked like after I worked a few rows and sewed the sleeve seams with mattress stitch:

sleevessewn.jpg

I found that sewing the sleeve seams made the knitting easier, so I did that now, but that is a matter of preference.

If you added stitches under the arms, sew the beginnings of the sleeves to the underarm stitches, then sew the rest of the sleeve seam straight.

Morse code tank$5.00

A series of dots and dashes that form a meaningful whole . . .

This close fitting vest or tank is knit in four pieces each with different stitch patterns, but they come together to form a coherent garment, which is knit together as you go, so there is no making up at the end. This makes a nice lacy tank, but if you are too modest or chilly to wear it as one, it makes a wonderful vest as well. I fantasize about making myself another in something soft and fuzzy for the winter.

I think that buttons going up the back of clothes are wonderful. They give you a nice stretch if you do them up yourself, but they are more fun if you have someone to do them up for you – so keep everyone guessing about who is helping you on with your clothes in the morning.

Difficulty

Average

Size

XS [S, M, L, 1X, 2X, 3X] (shown in size M)

Finished measurements

Chest: 28[32, 36, 40, 44, 48, 52] inches

Length: 22.5[22.5, 23, 23.5, 23.5, 24, 24] inches

Materials

[MC] Rowan Summer Tweed [70% silk, 30% cotton; 118 yd/108 m per 50g skein]; color: 535 shark; 4 [4, 5, 5, 6, 6, 7] skeins

1 set US #9/5.5mm straight needles

notions required: stitch holder, stitch markers, 6 three-quarter inch (2cm) buttons

Gauge

14 sts/20 rows = 4″ in stockinette stitch

Morse code vest - 3 Morse code vest - 2

Sleeves:

Your sweater should look something like this at this point:

Lyra’s Coat, knit to picking up sleeves

Take the measurement of your arm and add around 4 inches [10cm] ease to it (I am adding 4 inches [10cm] to my sleeve, when my arm over my sleeve is 12 inches [30cm], add a little more if you are knitting a larger sweater or less if you are knitting a smaller sweater).

Equation:

Measurement of arm = A

Ease = B

Gauge = C

Number of stitches to pick up for sleeves = D

(A + B) * C = D

With right side of piece facing you, pick up and knit the number of stitches you just worked out in the previous step along the arm rise, from right (so that your first row will be a wrong side row).

Lyra’s Coat - picked up for sleeves

Knit to approximately 2.5 inches [6cm] after the middle of the arm rise, turn and make a yarn over over the right needle (you will knit this yarn over together with the next stitch on the next row). Knit for approximately 5 inches [12cm], turn working yarn over as for last row, work to end of previous row, knit yo with next stitch, work 3 more stitches, turn with yarn over as for previous row.

Continue with short rows, working 3 stitches further each row and using short row yarn overs to close the holes until all the stitches you picked up are worked.

Work straight until sleeve is desired length, bind off.

My version:

A = 12 inches [30cm]

B = 4 inches [10cm]

C = 1.75 stitches / inch [0.7 stitches / cm]

(12 inches [30cm] + 4 inches [10cm]) x 1.75 stitches / inch [0.7 stitches / cm] = D

16 inches [40cm] x 1.75 stitches / inch [0.7 stitches / cm] = 28 sts

Pick up and knit 28 sts.

K18, turn, yo, k8, turn, yo, k11, turn, yo . . .

Lyra’s Coat - sleeve with short rows worked

Work until all stitches are picked up, work until sleeves are desired length.

At this point my sweater looks like this:

Lyra’s Coat - Sleeve

I didn’t want to make you wait.

Knitting the body to the underarms:

We have knit our yokes and are now ready to knit the fronts and back separately to the underarms, when we will cast on some stitches for the underarms and work the rest of the sweater in one piece.

I am posting before I have this whole step finished this time because I don’t want to make you wait.

Lyra’s Sweater - Part 10

Divide for fronts and back:

Count your stitches, divide the number of stitches by 2, making sure the number for the front is even.

Divide the number of stitches for the front by 2 (if you increased evenly from the collar this shouldn’t be a problem).

If you prefer an equation:

(A / 2) ≈ C ≈ (B x 2)

Where A = the total number of stitches, C = the number of stitches for the back, and B = the number of front stitches.

Fronts:

Place the number of stitches for one of your fronts onto your needle and the rest of the stitches on holders. Work even until your piece measures the measurement you took of the distance from the shoulder to the line with the underarm. Repeat for other front.

Back:

Place the back stitches on your needle and work even as you did for the fronts. If you want to get fancy you can work your back slightly longer than the fronts to help it fit better.

My version:

Total number of stitches at the end of the yoke: 75.

75 / 2 = 37.5

Number of stitches for the back = 37

Number of stitches for the front = 38 or 19 for each side

Put 19 stitches at side onto a needle, work for 9 inches [23cm] straight.

Repeat for next side.

Put 37 stitches for back on needle and work 10 inches [25cm] straight.

Increase for shoulders:

Work to 1 st before first marker, pick up the stitch beneath the next stitch on the row and knit into it, k1 (keep marker before this stitch), pick up the stitch beneath the previous stitch (same st as you increased into previously) and knit into it, (2 sts increased). You can increase any way you like as long as you increase 2 sts in a line each row at each shoulder marker.

Work to next marker and pick up the stitch beneath the next stitch on the row and knit into it, slip marker, k1, pick up the stitch beneath the previous stitch (same st as you just increased into) and knit into it, (2 sts increased).

Your increase stitches should look like this:

Lyra’s Coat - yoke increase stitches

Work the previous row increasing for shoulders in a line until the line along the increases equals your measurement from neck to shoulder plus 1 inch [2.5cm], or a little longer if you want more of a dropped shoulder.

You can take this opportunity to take it off the needles and try it on and see if you like the way it is going. It’s really not too late to frog it if you don’t like the fit.

My version:

I increased as described, for 11 rows, I started with 31 sts: 31 + 44 = 75 sts, distance from base of collar is 5.5 inches [14cm].

Lyra’s coat - picture of yoke

Pick up stitches around the collar:

If you chose collar option 2, fold over collar and tack the two long edges together.

Pick up and knit stitches from the long edge of the collar, for option 1 pick up along cast off edge, add a few stitches evenly spaced along the collar for the body. You don’t need overlap for buttons as the closures are with loops and toggles.

Count your stitches, divide your number of stitches by two, round your numbers to make sure that the number for the front is divisible by 2.

Divide your number for the front by 2, work this many stitches, place marker, work stitches for back, place marker, work to end.

If you prefer an equation:

  • A = number of stitches picked up from collar
  • B = number of stitches for each front
  • C = number of stitches for back

(A / 2) ≈ C ≈ (B x 2)

lyrassweater-pickedupsts.jpg

My example:

Pick up and knit 31 sts (from 25 sts on collar). Turn. Work 8 sts, place marker, work 15 sts, place marker, work 8 sts (31 sts).

Note: I have had to frog my collar and start again. I overestimated the amount of stretch in my swatch. If you like your collar as done with the previous instruction, please continue with it. I have just changed the finished measurements of the collar to A + 1 inch [2.5cm] instead of A – 1 inch [2.5cm]. Otherwise, please see the revised instructions.

We are now ready to work out and knit the collar. You will need the following information:

  • Neck measurement (in inches or cm) = A
  • Number of stitches per inch (or cm) = B
  • Desired height of collar (in inches or cm) = C

Collar option 1:

Note: This option is cast on and worked from side to side making a stand up collar.

Equation: (A + 1 inch [2.5cm]) x B = number of stitches to cast on

Using the long tail method, cast on the number of stitches from the equation above and work until the collar is the desired length bind off.

Collar option 2:

Note: This option is worked from side to side then folded double lengthwise. This appears to be the way the original sweater was made, but I prefer the previous option for my sweater and my swatch appears to be a little thicker and stiffer than the original, so this option wouldn’t work as well for me.

Equation: (C x B x 2) = number of stitches to cast on

Using the long tail method, cast on the number of stitches from the previous equation, work until piece measures (A + 1 inch [2.5cm]), bind off.

lyrassweater-collar.jpg

My collar (option 1):

  • Neck measurement = A = 13 inches [33cm]
  • Number of stitches per inch = B = 7 sts /4 inches = 1.75 stitches / inch [0.7 stitches / cm]
  • Desired height of collar = C = 2.5 inches [6.5cm]

(A + 1 inch[2.5cm]) x B = (13 inches [33cm] + 1 inch [2.5cm]) x 1.75 stitches / inch [0.7 stitches / cm] = stitches

I need to cast on 25 stitches, work until piece measures 2.5 inches [6.5cm], and bind off.

I feel I should give you a brief overview of what I plan to do next. Here is a short list:

  • Next we will work out and knit the collar for the coat.
  • After the collar, we will pick up and knit stitches for the body of the sweater.
  • We will then knit down in one piece to the divide for the shoulders.
  • Next we will knit the two fronts and back separately to the base of the armholes at which point, we will cast on some stitches for the underarms and continue knitting in one piece.
  • Either at this point or at the end, we will pick up and knit stitches for the sleeves and work them straight to desired length.
  • We will continue knitting the body straight to the desired length.
  • We will then attach appropriate closures and show our lovely creations to the world (I am not including button holes in the pattern as the original didn’t have any, if you want them, I suggest placing YO button holes at your discretion).

armconstrcutionexample.jpgNote: because we are doing the designing this way, I have decided to go with a dropped shoulder and a square sleeve join like this sweater I knit from Vintage Knits: 30 Exquisite Vintage-Inspired Patterns for Cardigans, Twin Sets, Crewnecks and More, by Sarah Dallas, as I think this will be easier for everyone to make fit. It also looks like the original was shaped quite like this.

If anyone has questions or suggestions on how to proceed please let me know.

The next thing we need to do to recreate Lyra’s sweater is get the measurements for the person the sweater is for.

Here is a list of measurements that you will need to have measurements of (all measurements are over clothes like those you would be wearing under the coat):

  • bust
  • arm circumference
  • neck circumference
  • distance from shoulder to shoulder (from where you want the sleeves to begin, or to end of clavicles)
  • distance from base of neck to shoulder (where you want the sleeves to begin, or to end of clavicle)
  • distance from top of shoulder to line where underarm of sweater should be (an inch or two under the armpit)
  • distance from shoulder to knee or preferred length

Here are my measurements in case you need an example or happen to be a women’s medium, in which case you can knit the same pattern as me, though I think that takes away some of the fun:

  • bust – 38 inches [97cm]
  • arm circumference – 12 inches [30cm]
  • neck circumference – 13 inches [33cm]
  • distance from shoulder to shoulder – 14 inches [36cm]
  • distance from base of neck to shoulder – 5 inches [13cm]
  • distance from top of shoulder to line where underarm of sweater should be – 9 inches [23cm]
  • distance from shoulder to knee – 42 inches [107cm]

If you are making this coat for a person whose belly or hips are much wider than her bust, you will need her measurement at her widest part as well, otherwise for most children or people without much difference in measurement you can knit straight. I have about a 4 inch [10cm] difference between my bust and my hips, and I plan to switch to larger needles after I get past my waist.

I have achieved enough yarn to finish the coat (surely this is enough):

lyrascoat-yarn.jpg

I have worked up a swatch:

lyrascoat-swatch.jpg

And here is my gauge: 7 sts / 12 rows to 4 inches / 10cm.

I knit this with between 4 and 7 strands held together at any time on US size 15 / 10mm needles.

lyrascoat-gauge1.jpg

lyrascoat-gauge2.jpg

I like the result. The colours are slightly, but only slightly, less lurid than the pictures.

Please don’t feel you need to match my gauge as I plan to make the instructions adjustable for size and gauge.

A few notes on what I found working the swatch:

  • The colours work better when the added colour is either lighter or darker than the main colour, having both darker and lighter strands together made it look odd.
  • Any time you want to add another colour or strand you just hold it with your group. It’s not going to unravel as the other threads will hold it.
  • When you need a thread to go through to the back, you can poke it through with your finger.

I finally finished my last Christmas present today. Every year I say that this year I will not create all the tension over the holidays that knitting gifts seems to require, and here I am still working on a Christmas present on January 13.

img_0194formounting.jpg

I got up at 6:30, so I could finally have it ready for when he woke up. It is a beautiful big sweater for my beautiful big boyfriend. Here is a small hint of the wonder of what it was going to be.

But when he tried it on, it was all wrong. It has weird puffed sleeves and is so bizarrely wide at the shoulders. This has never happened to me before (the problem with sizing, not the late Christmas present situation). I am so frustrated.

Just in case you thought that everyone with a knitting blog was a complete diva who never made mistakes.

I was talking with some of the women I work with about not knitting Lyra’s coat because I don’t have enough yarn, and she says she may have some that might work to add to my pile.

She may bring it Monday.

I was thinking that then, instead of me just posting the pattern after I get it done, I could post my design process with variables and equations where you could put your measurements and gauge, and we could all design the sweater together. This would make things go faster for you, make me go faster to keep up, and, I think, be more interesting for everyone.

Would anyone be interested? I have already started my first post with requirements for measurements, so I hope so.

Now that you think you have enough yarn and know your gauge, and I hope you did a good size swatch to judge texture and colour as well as gauge. We need to decide how you want to construct the coat. I am sure the original was constructed quite simply: worked in garter stitch in one piece to the arm holes then the sleeves worked separately and sewn on at the end. This is easy enough to do, and if you decide to do it this way, I would suggest a good technical design book, such as the Vogue knitting: the ultimate knitting book, I love this book, and I really wish I had my own, but instead I monopolize the library’s copy.

If you go this way, then my advice is likely of little use to you. Other writers have made it all quite clear in other places. I however would like to suggest a slightly different way . . .

Please bear with me here, what I would suggest is constructing the coat in one piece from the top. This has several things to recommend it: most importantly you won’t run out of yarn before you finish the second half of the last sleeve. Perhaps it is just my bias, and there are ways to measure how much yarn you need: e.g. work a square of a set size, such as one foot square, weigh it on a good scale and divide it to get the weight per square inch and multiply it by the number of square inches you have worked out your sweater will be, but I never do this, and working from the top means you can just continue until you are happy with it or you run out of yarn.

I would cast on for the little mandarin collar, then cast off and pick up the number of stitches to start the yoke, you could have a random increase of stitches and have a round yoke, make raglan shaping or work out a different shape and increase for the sleeve it in a line where the sleeve seam would be. I haven’t worked out exactly how this last option would work, but I think it could and it would minimize the difference between the shape of your sweater and the original.

Amber from Nakedly Knitting has pointed out a good yarn to use for this coat (here), Noro’s silk garden chunky, color 02. This is a beautiful yarn, and I am sure that the jacket she makes out of it will be georgeous, but whether it is mimicking the coat in the Golden Compass depends on what is the most important thing about the design to you.

If the general colour and shape are most important then this is a good substitute, and you can find garter stitch coat from a book or magazine and make a very good facsimile. But to me the most important thing about this jacket is the texture and specific colours. I love the way the colours slightly clash: the brown and the purple don’t really go with the red (see here), but they come together to make it sing. Noro yarns are beautiful, but they are too harmonious to make this coat the way I envision it. The hint of green in it tones down the red (here); purple makes the red brighter.

I also really like the effect of the areas worked in slightly different thicknesses. It gives the jacket brilliant texture and makes it unusual. I don’t want to make this coat, because I don’t think I can replicate the parts that make it most exciting to me.

On the other hand, the construction is completely unimportant to me. If I were making the coat, I would completely change the construction for various reasons, which I will expound on later.

I have been asked if I could give any advice on recreating Lyra’s red sweater coat from The Golden Compass, and I thought that this might be of interest to more people than just the two of us.

I think there are several big issues with recreating this coat:

  • It is impossible to get a really good close look at it. The pictures online are too small and the film itself moves around too much, and no one wants to wait for the DVD so it could be paused.
  • The yarn/other materials that went into making it will be difficult to come by, and one can’t really be sure what they were. I have read (here) that the coat wasn’t even made out if yarn, but fabric strips, twine etc. This is going to be very difficult to duplicate because costume makers are just better equipped. For all my moaning, I am an amateur in the field of having materials to hand, and I certainly don’t have enough.
  • I am not sure how much yarn this will take, but I know it will be a lot. If anyone actually wants to do this with yarn, I think it will take at least 2-4lbs (1.5-2kg) to make it.

If you still feel the coat is worth pursuing and you think you have enough yarn, you should work out your gauge. I would say that you need super bulky or comparable different yarns held together, and the gauge should be around 7-8 sts to 4inches/10cm.

I will write about potential next steps in the next few days.

If you have any questions at any time, please let me know!

I have been asked if I will make a pattern for Lyra’s red sweater coat from The Golden Compass (see here), and as promised I have checked my stash, but I just don’t think I can do it. I have pulled out all my yarn in red, pink, burgundy, purple, brown etc. that is thicker than fingering weight and this is all I came up with:

Reddish yarn from my stash

I just don’t think it is enough for that coat. Also, I think a large part of the appeal of that coat comes from the sections of novelty yarns, especially the eyelash yarns (see here), and I have never really liked eyelash yarns, so I don’t have any — though now I think that I just don’t know how to use them to the best effect.

However, if anyone feels that I would be any help in working out a pattern I would be happy to do what I can (later I changed my mind, please see later posts).
I do plan on posting a pattern for Lyra’s cap here later this weekend though, so please check back (see here).

I went to see The Golden Compass this weekend. It has some of the best knitwear I have seen in a movie for a long time. I am so smitten with the costumes Lyra wore. If for no other reason, I recommend that movie to anyone who likes to knit. It was also a good film, but the knitting was what entranced me.

My particular favourites included a red garter stitch sweater coat near the middle, a very cute knitted hat in the shape of a hood, and a pair of mittens worked in a loop stitch.

I was thinking that a hood in that shape attached to a scarf would be wonderful, and the mittens look so warm, of course you couldn’t do anything while you were wearing them, which makes the string holding them through the sleeves handy. I suppose children who are running for their lives don’t need to worry about hurting themselves on playground equipment.

You can see some pictures here.

The other movies that immediately come to mind as having really great knitting are Le Divorce, worn by Kate Hudson’s and Naomi Watts’ characters, and all the Harry Potter movies, mainly worn by Mrs. Weasley, though they do strictly speaking include crochet if I remember correctly.

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