January 28, 2006


I felt quite pleased with myself, Ali MacGraw-ish and bohemian and pretty, until Jeff busted out with the "I-I-I-I want the knife!"

Pattern: Shedir, by Jenna Wilson for Knitty Breast Cancer Awareness Month Printable issue '04
Yarn: Rowan Felted Tweed in color143 (cocoa)
Yardage: Approximately 100 yards
Yarn Source: All About Yarn
Needles: 3.25mm (US3) Addi Turbo circular; 3.25mm Crystal Palace bamboo DPNs
Gauge: ?? 17" circumference around ribbing
Modifications: Yarn substitution; main crown Saxon braid pattern worked for 3 repeats instead of 5; all traveling lines worked with twisted stitch for greater stitch definition.

See all entries on this project

January 27, 2006


The pattern's not ready yet, guys. I know I promised it by now, but I'm all caught up in drawing fiddly little diagrams and organizing my thoughts on steeking and blocking into something that at least resembles coherence. I'll definitely have it up during the weekend - thank you so much for the wonderful encouragement you've been throwing this way.

During spare moments, Shedir, she grows.


I read in a lot of the notes on finished Shedirs in blogland that this hat is really long. And how: I did only three repeats of the Saxon braid before decreasing (instead of five), and it looks to be just right. I am loving the way the twisted stitches look in the tweedy yarn; normally, I like my cables to appear in high relief on a solid color, but these are subtle and quiet and just right - stealth cables, if you will.

Oh, and Calmer? I guess I might have been a bit overzealous in expressing my opinion yesterday. I just don't think it's a particularly successful yarn - lots of people love how soft and stretchy it is, but it just feels wrong to me to knit with something so sproingy. Besides, if I want to knit with a cotton, it's because I want structure and a crisp feel. If, by some chance, I want the coolness of cotton but with a little more elasticity, I'll use a cotton-wool blend like Rowan Wool Cotton or Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece, both nice (if very different) yarns that successfully take advantage of the best qualities of both fibers. On top of it all, Calmer seems really overpriced for what it is. Just my opinion, of course.

Jenna's posted a great entry about the development of the Shedir pattern, along with some notes on why she chose a much smaller needle size than called for on the ball band. Very interesting insight into creating a cabled motif, along with some funny thoughts on the wily marketing tactics of yarn companies - worth reading, for sure. Me, I'm using the same 3.25mm needle, with the DK weight Felted Tweed, and find that it's working out just fine.

January 26, 2006


a·ston·ish (ə-stŏn'ĭsh)
tr.v., -ished, -ish·ing, -ish·es.

To fill with sudden wonder or amazement. Synonyms: amaze, astound, awe, startle, surprise.

[Alteration of Middle English astonen, from Old French estoner, from Vulgar Latin *extonāre : Latin ex-, ex- + Latin tonāre, to thunder.]

I can't believe the response the vest got - thank you so much for the lovely comments. I'm working on putting the pattern together, and will try to have it up by or over the will, unfortunately, cost a little bit - $5 or $6 - but I promise you'll get what you pay for: full-garment charts for every size, detailed steeking and blocking information, and diagrams galore.


By popular request, the inside of the vest:

The pattern reads a lot better on the inside, which says to me that I should have switched colors in my right and left hands.

And the finishing on the turned-down steeks - I just blanket-stitched them with another strand of the Tiur, all the better to help them eventually felt.

Developing the pattern

What I think of as traditional Argyle looks something like this:

alternating blocks of two sharply contrasting colors on a medium-toned background. The effect is of two contrasting, sheer ribbons woven together. I really like this look, but prefer something more graphic, with a bit more punch. The logical step, then, is a wholly two-color pattern, with the blocks arranged in a checkerboard, and the lines done in an opposing checkerboard:

I love sweaters patterned this way, but don't love the intarsia involved - instant-gratification monkey that I am, I wanted to knit the pattern using the (already quick) circular stranded Fair Isle method so I could steek (even quicker). I had a certain width to each block in mind, but wasn't comfortable with how long it would make my floats over the widest portion of each diamond shape - so I added another line of contrasting color in each block to pare the longest floats down to 5 stitches:

Why does it matter? I guess it doesn't, really, except that I like the the knitted qualities of a pattern with frequent color changes - it becomes a cushy, firm, still-drapey fabric. I know very long floats are not uncommon, but I just don't care for them - I think it makes for a messy garment, with stitches easily distorted during wear and none of the structure that properly belongs to a Fair Isle jumper.

Charting did take a while, since I was too knuckleheaded to figure out some fairly obvious math issues. Did you guys know that even and odd are different? I felt brilliant when I finally figured out 12 stitches would split in two identical groups, but that 13 wouldn', yeah.

**Please note that I'm in no way suggesting that I'm the first to come up with this variant on argyle - I'm sure it's been done many, many times before**

Anyway, the final product is more or less exactly what I pictured - a very fitted, snappy little sweater vest. It's also a little bit of a sartorial wink: Western Scotland's tartan knitted with Shetland's method; old-school patterns filling a modern outline; a traditionally laborious-to-produce look done at today's right-away speed. I like it a lot.

Right Now

As a little break before I start the knitting on my next big project (so excited about this one, though I think it'll take a while to get just right - it'll give me a chance to get out some of my knotwork cable ideas), I'm working on Knitty's Shedir hat:

I detest Calmer with the fiery heat of a thousand suns, so I'm using Rowan Felted Tweed, instead. The yarn doesn't have great stitch definition (it's rather loosely twisted, and it's, you know, felted and tweedy in places), so I'm doing all those pretty cables with a twisted stitch instead of a plain knit stitch. I normally don't care for interesting yarns and texture together, but I think the overall effect of this'll be subtle and sort-of sophisticated.