About Woolly Wits

I am a hand-knitting designer and teacher. See and purchase my published designs on Ravelry.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Which Sweater is Most Flattering? Another Round . . .

Time for a quick round to determine which of three sweaters is most flattering, and why that's so.  Again, we turn to the Webs catalog.  One of the many reasons I love Webs is that they use models with real bodies so that knitters (or crocheters) can have a better idea of what a sweater might look like on their real body.  Here are the contestants:
565 Bryant Cardigan 570 Big Sky Pullover Penelope Sweater
On the left is the crocheted #565 Bryant Cardigan by Kirsten Hipsky.  On the right is #570 Big Sky Pullover also by Kirsten, and below is The Penelope Sweater from Jade Sapphire.  (Click on the photos for the links.)  Although I love the colors, especially the contrast yellow at the edges, it is clear that the striped sweater is doing our model no favors.  The boxy shape leaves her with no visible waistline and also flattens her bust.  This is not a 'date' sweater.  And a note on the photography . . . see how the model is turned to the side in all the pics?  This is more visually slimming than a full-frontal stance.  But it's especially helpful in reducing the impact of the not-very-flattering wide horizontal stripes.

I like the two other contenders, which works out well, since one is crochet and one is knit.  Why do I like them?  Their fitted shape, cardigan style whose front closure gives a strong vertical design element, v-neck to lengthen the neck and visually narrow the chest (as well as draw focus to the bust).  If I had to choose between the two, Penelope would get my vote.  I think the longer sleeve is more flattering, as it gives another long vertical line.  And, I line the way the lower sweater is flared to give a peplum effect.  The fact that Penelope is knit in cashmere also works in its favor, although a less expensive fiber, such as a sport weight merino, could certainly be substituted.

OK, I just noticed that Penelope's size range is 34" up to 40".  Please . . .   Just on this alone, it has lost my vote, making the winner . . . Bryant!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Coal for Christmas

The deadline for my next published design was pushed back a few weeks, so I was given an opportunity to do a little holiday gift knitting.  The beneficiaries of this are my nieces, who range in age from ten to twenty-three.

The strange thing is, I found a pattern in my knitting.  Everything was gray.  Charcoal gray.  As in, all naughty children get for Christmas is a stocking filled with coal.  I will leave it to their mothers to say whether they have been naughty or nice, but they are getting coal from me.

Brynn's set of hedgehogs were knit from Purl Soho's Knit Hedgehog free pattern. All were made from bits of stash yarn.  The pink was done with multiple strands of baby yarns, while the gray was some Lopi, leftover cowl yarn (more on that coming) and an unlabeled skein.  The pattern was very clear and very fun.  After finishing these three, I immediately cast on another to make a dog toy.

The hat with the row of shiny buttons is the Owl Hat for Big Heads by Linnea Delen, another free pattern. Maggie loved the owl mitts I made her from Mollie Makes last winter, so a hat to match seemed natural.  I did change up the pattern by working the ribbing on a needle two sizes smaller, as it appeared a little floppy in the pattern photos. That was a good decision, as even if the hat is a little large, the firmer rib will hold it on.  The yarn is a skein of Berroco Vintage Chunky that was in the stash.

Rachel's gift is a GAP-tastic cowl from Jen Geigley's super-popular pattern.  I was working on this for a while, because it served as my mindless knitting project when I needed a break from my own design work.  The yarn is an Italian boucle merino while I recycled from a thrift store.  I will usually only go to the effort of picking apart a sweater and ripping it all back for cashmere, but I really liked this yarn.  I used three strands held together to match the pattern gauge.  Many knitters I know have made shorter than the 15" called for in the pattern, but I really like the huge scale of the original, especially for a hip young thing.

The last present is for Ellie.  At least I think it is, because I like them so much I may keep them and knit her another pair.  They are simple but elegant, and a quick knit - the Nejiri wrist warmers by Yumiko Sakurai.  It's a nicely written pattern, but I did add a few tricks.  Before binding off for the thumb, I worked a kf&b on the last stitch, and then bound off the new back stitch over the first true bound off stitch.  This is more secure and stronger, since three strands of yarn are now bearing the stress of the opening.  When closing the thumb opening on the next row, I did another kf&b and bound off the new stitch over the first stitch across the gap for the same reasons.  The yarn is very vintage - BioSpun Wool from Creative.  The dye ran like crazy when I washed them to block, so I am veyr happy that I did not use it for color work.  It's a heavy dk weight, so I used two strands.  And, since I liked them so much, it's a good thing I have plenty more for a couple more sets.

So that leaves one more set of mitts, and one (possibly two) hedgehog dog toys to finish my holiday knitting.  Seems easy, except that the second set of mitts should be in the mail by Monday . . . .

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Woolly-Wits Reviews Twist Collective Winter 2013

It's another lovely collection from the Twist Collective.  But, I do have an overall complaint.  The majority of sweaters in this collection are knit of yarn that is worsted weight, or thicker.  While we already know that bulky yarn is not a friend to a person of size, I also question its seasonal appropriateness.  Yes, in winter it is colder.  But, as I move through my day, I am going through variable heating zones.  As any Scout will tell you, this requires layers.
And, to me, a worsted weight sweater is just too warm for most indoor wear.  (Although out beloved cardigan does allow more climate control than a pullover.)  I would prefer to see worsted weight sweaters in a fall collection where they can be worm more like a jacket.  So, here in the smaller photos are the sweaters with a flattering shape and design lines, but are knit in a gauge of 18 stitches over 4" or heavier.  Some of them I like enough to consider substituting a lighter weight yarn and working a larger size to compensate, but that does throw off row gauge and complex cable patterning.

There are a few designs in dk or lighter yarns which get a 'thumbs up' from me.  The first is Keynote by Wencke Lucas.   It's a scoop neck  cardigan in a dk weight yarn with delicate cable work in vertical panels alongside the button band.  This is all very good.  The cable bands also appear along the side seams.  This is an interesting detail, but, because it draws attention to the width of the body, not so flattering.  But, it is subtle enough that I am willing to give it a pass.

The next cardigan is Sablier by Nell Ziroli.  Again we have vertical panels of cable work, but I really like the way they move in and out diagonally. Lately I find myself very drawn to longer cardigans with low pockets.  This works well for my body type (more weight carried through chest) than for those with concerns for their hips and thighs, as the pockets add additional bulk.  One way to reduce bulk is to work the pocket lining in a lighter weight yarn of a matching color, or even cut it out of fabric.  A knit jersey fabric is best for this, as it will have stretch, just like the sweater.

I am so tempted to cast on a sweater project, but I am trying to sneak in a few knitted gifts before I am back to work on my next project with a deadline.  I'll snap some pics of those to slip into a post.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Woolly-Wits Reviews Knitty Winter 2013

I know that yesterday I promised you reviews of the new issues of Knitter's and Twist Collective.  But then, the new issue winter issue of Knitty popped up overnight, so I am bumping the other two.

By the way, have you discovered the work-around to Knitty immediately after new issues are up-loaded? For a loooong while, I would not even bother to check out a new issue for days because the site ran so slow, if you could get on  at all.  But, it looks like they are now posting the patterns to Ravelry even before sending out the official e-mail announcing the availability of the newest issue.  So, if all you are really interested in is seeing the new free patterns (aren't we all?), then just go to Rav and search on the issue name. 

That's the good news.  The bad news is that this issue is overloaded with dense cable-work designs.  While they may be traditional and beautiful, and a true display of knitting skill, they are not flattering to those of us with an excess of flesh through our torsos.  The heavy stitch work creates a dimensionality that adds visual weight.  Great for skinny folk, but no so much for the rest of us.  But, there are a couple designs for us.

The first is Armande by Andi Satterlund.  It's a lot of stockinette stitch, but it's a classic style that you'll wear forever.  The low pockets are great for those of us who carry our weight through the chest, but if you carry yours lower, you would probably want to eliminate them and/or shorten the sweater a couple inches.  Please do be careful about fit, though.  If you look closely you'll see the gaps in the button band at the bust and hips.  Since this is such a straightforward knit, there's no excuse for not putting in the shaping for an excellent fit to your body.

The other design that works for fuller figures is Galanthus by Rachel Henry.  It's knit with fingering weight yarn, but on a larger needle for openness in the lace and good drape.  The scoop neckline is good for drawing focus to the face and neck, which balances the lacework lower on the sweater.  The style is a little too feminine for me, especially the volume in the sleeves.  But, I would definitely consider tweaking the pattern to bring the sleeves in for a closer fit, as well as lengthening them to the wrist.  Or, maybe shortening a tinge to 3/4 length.  

That's it for the sweaters, but I have to give a mention to Franklin Habit's plaid cowl.  I do love a plaid, and this is an interesting variation in technique from what I've been doing lately.  

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Not Really a Vacation

Up-cycled Cashmere Santa Hat for BabyI've had a little break from posting while I got my seasonal Etsy shop, La Bella Capra, up and running.

Up-cycled Cashmere Santa’s Helper Elf Hat for BabiesUp-cycled Cashmere Santa’s Helper Elf Hat for Adults

A friend and I have a shop offering items which we have been up-cycled from cashmere and wool sweaters.  This year we added wool plaid items to the mix.  Can you tell I'm a little bit plaid obsessed?

Red and Gray Plaid with Embroidered Flowers Upcycled Felted Wool Christmas StockingUp-cycled Plaid Patchwork Throw

I'll be back with some reviews, since the new issue of Knitter's hit my mailbox and the new issue of Twist Collective hit my electronic in-box.