Lessons Learned: Short Row Shaping a Shoulder

I love to learn. I’m constantly looking for new skills, new things to excite me and it’s probably one of the reasons I love to teach and love social media. There’s always something new and fresh to learn about that subject. So a few years ago I took a class at my favorite local yarn shop, Fibre Space, to learn how to knit a saddle shoulder sweater. I knit this sweater, the Andover. I had high hopes for it because I lived in Andover, Massachusetts for a few years growing up but that wasn’t enough to make me like this project.
Andover without neckline finishing
I hate it. I think I’ve worn it once (if anyone wants it I’m more than happy to give it to you). And there are a couple of contributing factors to why I really don’t like this sweater:

  • The pattern wasn’t a good one to start with for a saddle stitch shoulder. There were errors in the pattern and at times points where it seemed like she stopped mid-thought and never finished her sentence. There were multiple charts to have to refer to for the cables on the sleeve and the body and it was just a lot for a first time saddle shoulder sweater. I took the class with one of my coworkers and she felt the same way and I don’t think she ever got beyond the 50% point.
  • I didn’t love my yarn choice for this one or the color. I used Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Superwash but in a purple I picked out for someone else and it just wasn’t my color so I wasn’t that excited about it. Plus one ball of it kept splitting on me.
  • My instructor made a comment to me about using an acrylic yarn for a hat I made from one of her patterns that left a bad taste in my mouth. I hate being yarn bullied. Everything can’t be made of organic wool sourced locally. It just can’t and I don’t think anyone should make anyone else feel bad about their choices of yarn. Period.

So overall, I just didn’t have a great experience but I said to myself that I liked learning how to do a saddle shoulder and would want to do that technique again. Unfortunately I don’t see that many patterns with saddle shoulders as an option, so I haven’t done one in 2 years. When I bought a bunch of colors of Berroco Pima 100 and wanted to make a fun striped tee for summer I decided it would be a saddle shoulder style and this weekend I embarked on that journey and I’m LOVING it this time around.
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I’m horrible about taking photos as I go along. I should’ve photographed the saddles and then what it looked like when attached but I didn’t. But what got me super excited was creating a sleeve cap using short row shaping! I’m at that point in the sweater construction where I have a little over an inch from under the arm and decided I was ready to make the sleeves since I just had body stripes left. I was so nervous that this wasn’t going to fit and was going to be too small so I was eager to get the sleeves on to see how it all worked out. I’ve been using my favorite book for basic construction and some notes and got to the part where they say you add in short rows around the saddle’s live stitches left at the shoulder and then continue all the way down with short rows to the last stitches of the sleeve. Um…it created this awesome shape. I HAVE A SLEEVE! I’m such a knitting nerd.
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Now I just have to do the same thing on the opposite side and then finish off the body. I picked colors I liked and didn’t have any rhyme or reason to them and I’m loving the big bold stripes and playing with so much color. It’s such a happy project. And when I love a project it flies off my needles so this one might be finished by the end of the week!
Stages of emotion
And in other news, does anyone else feel bad taking their dog to the vet? Saturday was Jellybean’s day to get shots and go through annual exams. And these were her stages of emotion. Excitement to go with me all by herself and even ride in the car, then the realization that she was going to the vet, then the relief once it was over and then the clingy/need for extra love that comes after the shots (that’s her curled up in my arms in a blanket on the couch on the bottom). She was a trooper, had some soreness the next day and walked a bit slower but seems to be back to her spunky self. Oh and she gained a pound…so we’ll be cutting back on those treats that we spoil her with!

When a Hat Isn’t Just a Hat

I never blogged about this hat last year. I counted it in my 2016 round-up and mentioned it in my March 2016 FO Monthly Round-up.
Ribbed Hat
I didn’t think of it as a major FO but it was made for my ‘little brother’ Travis because he has repeatedly been a guest lecturer for my class. Ten years ago Travis was my graduate assistant when I worked at American University. I left higher ed for a new job in the association world a few months into him working for me but he told me that I was going to be his big sister and I couldn’t get rid of him. Many Thanksgivings together, dinners, happy hours and guest lectures later Travis has solidified himself as a member of my family. He’s the little brother I never knew I needed but love so dearly. So the thing about the hat…he kind of loves it.
Travis and his hat
Every time I see him on Instagram he’s wearing the hat and you guys know whenever someone wears something you make it makes your heart feel good. When I asked him what kind of hat he’d like he sent me a picture of a slouchy ribbed beanie and asked for in a deep red/burgundy shade. I chose the Graham hat pattern (it’s a free one) and used the Mighty Stitch Worsted in Pomegranate so he could wash and dry it without any issue. In January I got a text ‘Can I get this same hat but in black and in gray?‘ Seeing as how he’s my little brother and I ask so much of him and he asks so little of me I said sure, ordered 2 more balls of yarn but just never got the chance to put them on my needles. And then last month he told me he’s moving to NYC for his dream job.
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I quickly picked up the yarn and said I’ve got to get moving. I’m halfway through his gray one. I’m cooking him one last meal on Thursday and I hope to finish it and maybe even a black version too. And every time I pick this hat up I get a wave of sadness at the thought of not meeting him for dinner on a random Tuesday because it’s gorgeous out and we were in his neighborhood. I realize more and more how much knitting is a labor of love for me. I put myself in each stitch. I try to make things with purpose, that I’ve thought of all the details to make sure this knit thing will fit into someone’s life and when they wear it they will think of me. So even though I won’t see Travis as often, I know I’ll still see a little bit of me in his Instagram feed whenever it’s a bit chilly and he needs a hat. It’s kind of like his big sister will always be there to protect him because isn’t that what big sisters are for?

So a hat isn’t always a hat. Sometimes it’s a lot of love. Have a great weekend.

FO: Storm Tracker Test Knit

I signed up last month to do a test knit for knitwear designer Alicia Plummer. I agreed for a couple of reasons:

  1. It was a worsted weight sweater, so I knew I could finish it fairly quickly (11 days)
  2. The mock neck turtleneck style was one my sister would love and I still hadn’t knit her a new sweater.
  3. It was a top down knit with textured sleeves and I’d been interested in that kind of design.
  4. I had the yarn.
  5. She didn’t have a crazy rigid timeline.

So I made the Storm Tracker sweater.
Textured sleeve sweater
Here’s the finished product. I modeled it myself because I knew I needed pictures for the test knit and my sister hates almost any photo you take of her.
Textured sleeve sweater
In my version you can see I made only a few modifications. I went with 3/4 length sleeves because in the DC/MD/VA area we don’t always need full on wool sweaters. This sleeve length makes it a little less hot. Also the pattern called for 5 inches of neck ribbing and I only went with 3.
Textured sleeve sweater
It has a little bit of ease built into it so it doesn’t just cling to the body and the hardest part for me was reading the cables once you work the sleeves in the round after you’ve separated them from the body. It’s a simple 1/1 cable but I had to pull my cabling needle out and I hadn’t done that in a while. I definitely love the texture and I can see myself making it with just an inch of ribbing at the neckline for myself. Oh and the yarn was Knit Picks Swish Worsted, their superwash worsted weight yarn. I had a bunch in a lovely heathered indigo color that I knew my sister would love. It washed up beautifully and was super soft when I wore it. I’d definitely use this one again.
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Added bonus, I thought with all of our warm weather my sister wasn’t going to get to wear her sweater until next fall/winter but I was surprised at brunch by her and my Mom wearing their knit goods. I’m currently swatching to make a spring sweater for my sister Anne, so she’s not being left out.