Monday, March 19, 2018

In Search of the Perfect Oversized Sweater

I have used the Commercial KAL on Stranded Podcast's Rav page to fuel my quest to re-make the sweaters of my youth.  Basically, everything I am knitting is huge.

I have wanted larger sweaters for a couple of years, but never seem to quite get my stuff to the right dimensions.  Years ago, everything I knit turned out too big, so maybe I have a sub-conscious hesitation about going larger.

My Sunset Highway is somewhat there, but it only has one commercial yarn in it and it feels too fine for a grungy backpacking trip.  This trip is the other reason I want more oversized garments.  In Iceland, I will only have my pack and what is on my body.  The sweater or two that I bring must be light, but warm.  Only, they can't be too warm because I will be moving around a lot.  They also need to be roomy enough for under-layers, but not too bulky for a jacket over them.  Suddenly I feel like the picky little girl that drove my mother crazy when shopping for new school clothes.

 The Edge was my first try for this fit with a commercial yarn in my stash, but it didn't turn out as big as I'd have liked, though I loved the fit.  I also gave it to my daughter, so it's out.  I decided to knit it again in a larger size with more Cascade Eco+. This one will be the perfect fit, I think, but with bulky yarn it wouldn't be great for under a jacket.  So, it will have to wait until I am home.  I am excited to use this Lichen colorway, though.  All of the little flecks of gold and reddish brown get me.

I have no problem using less expensive yarns like these.  I have heard some of the more expensive yarns are also more hard-wearing.  If that is true, I guess I am not in an environment where I am able to wear any wool enough to gauge it's hardiness.  I am, however, in an environment where wools like Patons Classic and Cascade are readily available and easy on my (now shrinking) yarn budget.  I do love hearing about how certain companies ensure ethical ranch/ mill/ dyeing processes.  That's something I haven't looked into much with the "big three" of my cheaper wool resources.  So, I can't speak to that here, at least not yet.

My next attempt at the perfect, oversized sweater was The Weekender by Andrea Mowry.  I knit it in the Cascade 220 stonewash colorway.  It is finished and just needs ends woven in.  I can tell it is definitely oversized, but wether or not it is my "perfect oversized" remains to be seen.  Stay tuned... It was finished by the KAL end, but I never posted it in the thread because I was covered in sweat and dirt every day this week and didn't feel up to wearing a sweater.

As I finished The Weekender, I cast on a Patons Classic Tweed colorway that I got it in a ridiculous Craftsy sale (Craftsy is my commercial yarn sale standby.  I am avoiding their emails right now to avoid temptation.) after years of seeing it every time I went into craft stores.

Since the rainbow flecks seemed to call for a simple design, I thought Joji Locatelli's The Bulky Easy One was perfect.  It makes excellent movie theatre knitting.  Even though it is dark yarn, after both sides are joined, it's just easy stockinette in the round that your fingers can manage in a darkened theatre.  I was able to watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory all the way through for the first time ever at the classic theatre while knitting this, without a hitch.

The Bulky Easy One is meant, as you may have guessed, for a bulky yarn.  My Patons is worsted, so I am going to do that thing I have seen done a million times on Ravelry and knit a really big size with smaller yarn, in the hopes of hitting the perfect size- a 3XL to approximate a medium, actually.  In my quest for ever-larger sweaters, I have been thinking I probably should have aimed for a size large instead.  Oh well, I have another oversized project on the needles that may achieve just that.

My last "big" attempt is Birch by Pam Allen.  Her Plain and Simple book is on my mind a lot lately.  Everything in it looks like something I would love to make and use, daily.  Since I tend to knit one thing from a book, then skip to another pattern book, we will see.  I have got a second one lined up from this, though.  Birch wasn't be ready for the end of the Commercial KAL either, but that wasn't really my point of joining.  I wanted the motivation to use older stash.

I actually had a few inches knit when I realized that my older skein of Patons Classic in Moss Heather was a little darker than my newer ones.  This is a bummer because I will need all of them to get this one big enough for my liking.  I hate to say it, but I am alternating skeins of Patons, something I never thought I would have to do.  I've never seen a difference in lots before, but that older skein was from my Owls sweater, made in 2011.  It is understandable.

Other than the annoyance of having to alternate skeins, this begins as an easy, bottom-up, stockinette, in-the-round sweater.  The two skeins at a time does make it better for knitting at home.  I am excited to get to the colorwork yoke that I will be doing in the natural Aran colorway.

So, I think I have roomy sweaters covered, guys.  Are you still knitting oversized, cocoon-like sweaters, or have you swung back to more fitted styles- because I know that's going to happen and I will eventually want more of them?

So far, oversized still seems to be having it's moment, like seamless and chunky once did.  Even when that fashion moment passes, there will always be a place for oversized stuff in my wardrobe.  I am semi-wedged in the past, which is why I loved the latest issue of KnitScene's 90's collection. Among other goodies, there is a thermal, an oversized stripe (like the ones I borrowed from my brother's closet through high school), cropped tops, and a very Delia-esque v-neck.  The dream winter wardrobe of my awkward years is well within my grasp, friends.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Episode 6: People Before Things

I've been so busy organizing I was late getting this out. At least I'm taking de-cluttering seriously :)

This is where I record the eleventy billionth knitting podcast.

On my blog:
On Instagram as @mysocalledhandmadelife:
On Ravelry as mamatronic:

Episode 6: People Before Things

My questions for you:

Are you finding yourself caught in a cycle of consumer culture?
What would you say is at the root of your mindless consumption?
Any tips for combatting mindless consumerism in the crafting community and/or in life in general?

Which do you think is the best forum for discussion: Youtube comments or a Ravelry group?

Stuff I mention:

The Slow Home Podcast:

Natalie Merchant's Ophelia:

My The Edge sweater by Gift of Knitting Designs:

Next one to be knit in Cascade Eco+:

Katy Bowman Nutritious Movement:

Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Art of Tidying Up:

Courtney Carver's Soulful Simplicity:

More La Leche League Maxims:

McMilne Shawl by Jane Richmond:

Bag by Rose and the Wren Shop:

Acadia National Park:

Sexy Vesty by Teresa Gregorio:

Saturate Shawl by Mara Catherine Bryner:

Photo overload of my Oh My Bear! by Tiny Owl Knits:

The Chimney Tops in Smoky Mountain Ntnl Park:

Humulus by Isabell Kraemer:

Birch by Pam Allen:

Rose City Rollers by Mara Catherine Bryner:

My Weekender by Andrea Mowry:

My The Bulky Easy One by Joji Locatelli:

Both are for Stranded Podcast's #Commercial KAL:

Friday, March 2, 2018

Episode 5: The Slow Life

I realize I didn't give you guys much time to respond to any questions from Episode 4, or leave feedback in general, but that one took FOREVER to edit and upload.  So, I practically had a new one ready the next day.  Please leave any thoughts about either episode here or on in the comments on either episode in Youtube.

And don't forget, I'm giving away a copy of the sweater pattern you see here in this episode!!! Isn't it incredible?

This is where I record the eleventy billionth knitting podcast.

On my blog:
On Instagram as @mysocalledhandmadelife:
On Ravelry as mamatronic:

Episode 5:

My Questions for you:  Are you doing the whole slow living thing yet?  What does slow living mean to you?  How are you incorporating it into your life?

Stuff I mention:
The Edge sweater by Gift of Knitting Designs:

Photos of The Edge on my blog:

Alina's patterns on Gift of Knitting:

My Journey:

My Reindeer:
The Year of Less by Cait Flanders:

The Slow Home Podcast:

Kirsty Farrugia of The Art of De-Cluttering Podcast:

Annihilation without the commentary ;):

A Stillness of Trees by Sylvia McFadden:

Sol Alpaca Yarn:

Knitscene Spring 2018 90's Collection:

The Easy Bulky One by Joji Locatelli:

Humulus by Isabell Kraemer:

Birch by Pam Allen:

Durumi by Isabell Kraemer:

Treysta by Jeniffer Steingass:

Encircled Collection from KnitPicks:

Especially the Bistort Pullover by Courtney Spainhower:

Weekender by Andrea Mowry:

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Episode 4: On Mission

This is where I record the eleventy billionth knitting podcast.

On my blog:
On Instagram as @mysocalledhandmadelife:
On Ravelry as mamatronic:

An abnormally long Episode 4 that you might want to watch in bursts:

Questions for you:  Have you joined the slow living movement?  What does "living slow" mean to you?  How are you making it a part of your work, home, and crafting life?

Stuff I mention:

Canary Knits:

Great Northern Knits:

My Muddlings Podcast:

The Rose and the Wren on instagram: @roseandthewren
and on Etsy:

Very Pink Tutorials-

Stitch N Bitch- Debbie Stoller:

The Year of Less- Cait Flanders:

All You Knit is Love Podcast:

Wild Handmade Shop on Etsy:

Peppermint Mocha sock yarn- Sweet Sparrow Yarns:

The Slow Home Podcast:

The Blue Lagoon in Iceland:

Sk√≥gafoss Falls, Iceland:√≥gafoss

The Cocama Project:

Water for All well type:

More photos of the trip on Instagram:

The Story Cloth:

Fair Isle, the place:

My WIPs:

The Edge- Gift of Knitting Designs:

Weekender by Andrea Mowry:

Sunset Highway by Caitlin Hunter-

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Best Sweater Pattern Ever

I did not write this post title lightly.  I say this knowing that, according to Ravelry, I have knit 68 sweaters, many of which I loved.  I say that knowing I still have tons of really great patterns to work through this year.  But for now, if I consider both product and process, this is my favorite sweater pattern to have knit.  Guess why?

Giant. Bulky. Cables.  Did I have you at cables or bulky, or maybe giant?  If you removed one, or even two, of those factors, I'd still probably have wanted to knit this.  But with all three together, I couldn't resist.  When Alina asked if I'd like to test knit, I knew I'd be going away and have to rush it, but I could not resist.  Actually, it worked up so quickly, I had the body and a sleeve knit before I left.  When I got back, I dealt with a migraine for three days but still finished it by the release day, which is today Feb 25th.  I wish I'd been a better tester and had it done earlier, but I just can't regret getting to knit this.  It was my favorite.

Like I said, it is out now, so you can totally get this pattern today.  And you owe it to yourself to knit something so completely fun.  Even the sleeves were interesting because of the chevron stitch Alina added to the elbows.

And bulky. Bulky, people.  It knits itself through a few episodes of Dark.  This is a big part of the allure.  I've shared before that bulky knits on wooden needles put me in a happy, nostalgic frame of mind.  It is the solution to peace through many difficult situations I face.  For all I know, it could be the solution to world peace- picture Middle East Peace KALs.

Now, I'll tell you that I wish I'd knit a size up.  I knit the 41" bust and did block it out to that measurement, but when I put it on, the Cascade Eco tends to lengthen and I lose some of the boxy look that I love so much on Alina's version.   Maybe that's a fiber issue, but I've also decided that while my broad shoulders didn't affect sizing so much several years ago, they do now that I'm carrying extra weight in my upper arms.  My chest measurements would lead me to choose the size 41", but I think more width in the shoulders would have given me the full modified drop-shoulder effect.  I'm thinking this is why every time I go to knit an extremely oversized sweater, I tend to end up with just mildly oversized.

There's definitely a place in my wardrobe for mildly oversized too, so it's all good.  I feel great about this sweater and I did have just enough Eco to knit the size small.  I wouldn't have had enough for a medium.  I'm also feeling empowered by having figured out what I need to look for on schematics when choosing my size in sweaters and how I might be able to modify patterns for a better fit in the future.  I usually add to the depth of the armhole, but I need to keep the broadness of my shoulders in mind too.

Details: I knit the second size (small) with Cascade Eco and US size 6 and 7 needles.  It took only two skeins of Eco.  Two skeins!! When they are on sale for $11 each, that's not a bad deal for an intricate-looking hand knit.

Modifications: I added 6 stitches to each sleeve, as I often do to handle the disproportionate measurements of my chest and upper arm.  (What can I say- I'm ripped) As I said earlier, after knitting this, I think I should start knitting a size up due to the arms and the whole broad shoulder thing.

I love this as is!!  It feels comfortable and casual.  Please, please let us have some more cold weather so I can enjoy it without a sweaty upper lip!

As much as I love it, I want one in a size medium, immediately!!  I think I'd love all that extra billowy cabledy goodness, even if it did swallow me up.

(This one looks like a senior photo pose.  More on ravelry, kollabora, instagram, and flickr)

Another blog post on this sweater is here. And I mention it in podcast episodes:  Doing it with Ease and First Knits.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Plane Knitting

What an easy, relaxed knit!  I pull The Weekender, by Andrea Mowry, out when I want the ease of stockinette so I can just relax and chat or watch tv.  I think it'll be a good knit for my flights, too.  As I write this I'm reminding myself to go ahead and ball up the yarn so the people sitting next to me won't hate my guts.  But I have a feeling I will run out of time.  I'm scheduling a couple of blog posts like it's my job.  Meanwhile I need to water plants, write notes for my husband to remember stuff, and (most importantly) decide what projects I'll be bringing.

I've heard if your projects have already begun, airlines are more likely to let you bring them in in your carry-on.  I know things have relaxed in the last 5-7 years, since I last flew, but I'm still traumatized by that time Lima Airport's customs confiscated my Denise Needles.  I was too shocked to even ask if I could unscrew the cord and at least keep it.  I don't even use Denise needles anymore, but the pain is still fresh.

So, I'm taking Clover bamboo needles and packing a couple things in my carry-on and a couple in my checked bag.

This trip isn't the kinds where I'll be lounging about, knitting.  But I can't stand the thought of flying with nothing to busy my hands, unless my book gets really good.

This is a link to the Cocama Project website that shows the process we will be using to dig a well for a village in Peru.  Hopefully I'll have some good photos for you when I get back.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Test Knit, I Know I Know

I realize I said in my first podcast episode that I wouldn't be doing any deadline knitting projects, no gifts or test knits.  Famous last words.  When Alina of Gift of Knitting sent me these photos of a super cabled, bulky sweater, I could not resist.  Could you?

These cables are so addictive.  I hate that I keep getting distracted from them by silly things like people needing food and love from me.  Now, I'm leaving them behind for a trip because I don't think large projects will fit in my bag.  I''m going to the Amazon and this is my only real packing worry- what knits can I bring.

Well, I'll look forward to finishing it when I get home.  It looks fitted in images, but it should block out to have a nice 5-6 inches of positive ease.

(more on ravelry, kollabora, instagram, my podcast, and flickr)

This will be my first sweater to start this year.  I like that it's designed by a friend and the epitome of my favorite knitting scenario: bulky, major cables, and budget Cascade Eco that I happened to have run my stash when Alina messaged me about the test.  I don't think I could've done it otherwise.

It's called The Edge, so you can look for testers photos via instagram with #the_edge_sweater.