FO revisited: gathered skirt > fiore skirt

Dianna stands in front of a grey-green wall, facing left, and wearing a green knitted top and a skirt in a subtle plaid in shades of grey, blue, and brown.

Back in October I wrote about my plans for some makes in my closet that I don’t really wear, and wanted to go back and rework. Last month I got around to reworking this gathered skirt, originally sewn in 2015 and worn out of the house maybe…once? If that? Honestly, I never wore it. I liked the idea of it – I bought that fabric because I liked it, after all. Every few months I would try it on again when I was getting dressed, thinking maybe this time would be the time it would click and I’d want to wear it. But that was never the case. Here’s a reminder of what the original skirt I sewed looked like:

The main problem was that this is a mid-weight fabric and there was simply way, way too much fabric in the gathers at the waist. I didn’t use a pattern for the original project, and the skirt pieces were literally rectangles, so the gathers were dense. I sewed it with a favorite store-bought skirt in mind, matching the length, but the store-bought skirt doesn’t actually have gathers. It’s a full and heavy skirt, but very sleek and elegant looking. And this gathered skirt? It was not. So it stayed in my closet.

When I sewed my bird-print Fiore skirt last year, I realized that I could probably use the pattern to rework this skirt and turn it into something I’d actually wear. So I dismantled the skirt in the fall, and set aside the pieces until I had time to sit down and sew them up last month. I have to say that I’m really pleased with the end result.

Dianna stands against a grey-green wall, wearing a green knitted top and a skirt in a subtle plaid in shades of grey, blue, and brown.

The new skirt weighs probably half what the original one did – there’s much less fabric in it overall. And it’s gotten quite a lot of wear since I finished it as well! I’m frequently pairing it with my Eowyn blouse by Fabel Knitwear, knit in Osloull from Oslo Mikrospinneri (a blend of Norwegian wool and silk), as shown in these photos.

I did several things differently for this iteration of the Fiore skirt compared to my bird skirt. Firstly, I sewed view A here, with the back zip (my bird skirt is view C, with the button placket down the front). I did the longer length, which the pattern calls the below-knee version, although you can probably see it’s not below the knee on me (I’m 6′ / 182 cm tall). My bird version has three inches added to the bottom of the pattern, and I originally intended to do that for this version as well, but I spaced out while cutting out the pieces and forgot to add the length. So this version hits me mid-knee, which is fortunately also a nice length.

I decided to skip pockets, even though I had pocket pieces I could reuse from the original skirt – I wanted to practice keeping the seams nice and neat on the inside, and felt like the pockets would be too much added fuss. I did french seams for the side seams, and I’m super pleased with those. I’m also quite happy with how the zip went in. I just used a zipper from my stash, so it’s not an invisible zip, but it goes quite nicely with the fabric and doesn’t draw too much attention to itself so I think that’s fine.

A close shot of the back of the skirt, shewing the grey zipper.

Overall I’m so happy I took the time to dismantle the old skirt and sew a new one, and I wore it out twice in the first week alone after finishing it so it was pretty immediately gratifying. It was also good sewing practice for me, having sewn this pattern once before, so I could focus on details. So my FO Revisited series seems to be off to a good start! And I actually already have another project to share for this series nearly ready to go (I just need to give its new sleeves a good wet block first), so you can probably keep an eye out for that soon.

a WIP check-in

Aside from the new patterns I shared recently, it’s been a little while since I’ve actually shared any of my makes with you all. I thought it might be nice to have a little bit of a WIP check-in so I could share the main things I’m working on at the moment.

I’m very keen to finish up old WIPs this year, and I’m also really interested in working from stash for new cast-ons – an ambition that kind of fell apart last year once corona hit and I wanted to support businesses suddenly facing the loss of festival income. But I have managed to finish a couple of old WIPs since the start of the year. I started the Julenatt mittens (Ravelry link) pictured below back in December of 2018, when they were the advent mystery mitten pattern by Skeindeer Knits. It felt wonderful to finish a project started so long ago, and these will be a gift for a dear friend which somehow makes it even sweeter. I used Arctic Yarns Sølje in the Birch Leaves colorway (green), Arctic Yarns Vilje in the Snowman colorway (off-white), and some leftover grey Rauma Finull.

A Fair Isle sock in shades of brown, green, blue, white, orange, purple, and yellow hangs against a white wall.

I also managed to finish my pair of Norah socks by Marie Wallin, begun in March last year at the very beginning of the first lockdown. I’ve yet to get a photo of the pair, but just the one still gives you an idea! I splurged on this kit the summer we moved to Trondheim – this particular pattern is only available in a kit with Marie’s British Breeds yarn. In one sense, that makes these the most expensive socks I’ve ever owned, but on the flipside there’s plenty of yarn leftover for future colorwork projects (and it is really lovely yarn).

The rest of my old WIPs are still very much in progress, but I’m getting there! I have another pair of mittens on the way to being finished, and these will also become a gift.

A pair of mittens in progress lays on a warm wooden table. The mittens are blue, red, and yellow, with a pattern of buildings around the cuff. One mitten is only half-finished.

This pair of Trondheim Mittens by Sofia Kammeborn (Ravelry link) is coming along nicely now that I’ve made it past the second cuff. The cuffs are a beast due to knitting with three colors at once with some pretty long floats, but this photo gives you a glimpse at how I used a bit of a cheat to get through it: if you look at the half-finished mitten, you can see the rounds where I actually knit with all three colors per round on the cuff. Most of the buildings are just the red and mustard for now, but I’ll go back and fill in the windows using duplicate stitch. I did the same for the first mitten and honestly had a much nicer result that way than when I tried to knit the whole thing with three colors at once. I started these mittens in May 2019, back when I teased the news of us moving back to Norway on my Instagram, so this is another old WIP I’ll be very glad to have finished. I cast on from stash when I started these, so they’re a mix of Rauma Finull (the dark blue and mustard), Tukuwool Fingering (the red), and indigo-dyed Lofoten Wool (the light blue).

The yoke of a cardigan in progress sits on a hanger against a grey wall. The cardigan yoke is grass green with light grey colorwork.

My other main WIPs are two newer cast-ons. Just over a month ago I pulled some beautiful Neighborhood Fiber Co Studio Sock out of my stash (the colorways are Anacostia and Charles Centre) and cast on a Valdreskofte, a traditional Norwegian cardigan I’ve wanted to make for a really long time. I’m using a pattern from a book for the numbers, but otherwise I’ve gone very off-piste, working it top-down instead of bottom-up, and making some modifications to the neck shaping and the button bands. Studio Sock is a superwash merino, so I’ll have to machine sew my reinforcements before I cut the steek, but I’m really looking forward to seeing how this one turns out. I have some buttons and ribbon (to cover the steek edges) picked out that I’m hoping to use when it’s ready for finishing, but we shall see if they work when I make it to that stage.

A multi-colored eight-pointed star knitted in garter stitch lays on a dark grey carpet.

Lastly, I’ve also had scrap projects on the brain, as a little bit of stash reorganization last month showed me just how much leftover yarn I have kicking around my craft room. Lately I’ve been very drawn to scrap blankets, although I’ve never made one before, but I got an idea stuck in my head and decided to give it a go. I’m using Mina Philipp’s Pinwheel Scrap Blanket as the base for a kind of pinwheel/log cabin mashup. I’ll make blocks of 8-pointed stars and then seam them together at the end. I wrote on Instagram about how I’m approaching creating each block seamlessly, but I forgot to mention there that I’m working a smaller number of stitches for each central pinwheel block than Mina’s pattern calls for (I’m starting with 14). I’ve never done anything quite like this, so I’m having fun with it. I have a lot of Rauma Finull leftovers (did you notice how this is the third project of this post that makes use of them?) and think I could actually get a blanket out of just Finull, so I’m going to see how far I get with just my basket of Finull.

I still have several other WIPs just waiting for attention, so I’m hoping to keep the momentum up in the coming months. I’ll have to set everything aside for a pattern sample for a magazine in the very near future, but once that’s sent off in a couple of months I’ll be back to the WIP pile!

winter solstice collab with the crimson stitchery

One of the projects I was working on over the fall was a small collection done in collaboration with Anushka of The Crimson Stitchery. I’ve mentioned Anushka and her YouTube channel on this blog a few times before, including when I shared a few favorite video podcasts earlier in 2020. So deciding to do a design collaboration together was a great deal of fun and an interesting creative challenge as well!

We took the winter solstice as our starting point, and created a shared mood board with imagery representing our own ideas about the winter solstice. Already it was interesting to see the differences – I associate it with moody blue light, short daylight, snow, and frost, while Anushka’s associations were more in the direction of the sparkling festivities of the season. We decided we would both create accessories rooted in our shared inspiration – using different techniques (colorwork for me, cables for Anushka), but both incorporating color and texture play and using the same yarns. I think both our designs evolved along the way, as we sketched and swatched, but I really love where we ended up.

We each designed a hat pattern and a pair of fingerless mitts, and I thought I’d share each of them here in brief. If you’d like to hear about them in a little more detail, I made a video about my designs (which can be found here), as did Anushka (and her video is here).

Dianna wears a burgundy and gold hat with a pattern of colorwork diamonds while standing in front of an old brick wall and set of doors with fancy ironwork.

My hat is the Lebkuchen hat (on Ravelry here). Worked up in fingering weight, I used a metallic chainette yarn for the contrasting color for a pretty fun and glitzy effect. While the gold yarn was incorporated into all four of our pieces, this is the only one where it’s not simply used for a trim. I’ve been wanting to play with metallic colorwork for a long time, and I plan to keep exploring the creative possibilities it opens up!

A pair of colorwork fingerless mitts in shades of burgundy, off-white, and blue laid out on brown paper with evergreen branches arranged around them.

My mitts, meanwhile, are the Pepperkaker mitts (Ravelry link). These are worsted weight and work up quite quickly, which is always very satisfying! If you watch the video I made about my designs, you’ll also see the full mitten version I was working on. I’ll admit I stalled on those once I got to the thumb of the full mitten, but I do still intend to release that version as an option with the pattern!

A knitted hat featuring a diamond cable pattern in tealy blue with off-white trim and a burgundy pom pom lays on a grey floor surrounded by leafy branches and pine cones.

Anushka’s hat is the delightfully squishy Brandy Butter (Ravelry // Payhip). Another quick knit in worsted weight, it’s a mix of cables, stockinette, and ribbing. The diamond cable centered on the front echoes the diamond motif of the colorwork in my Lebkuchen hat – having the designs nod at each other that way was a deliberate choice, and it was fun to work out how we were going to do that as we worked on the collection.

And lastly, Anushka’s Ginger Snaps mitts (Ravelry // Payhip). I love these cabled mitts and I think I’d like to knit a pair for myself, probably with some modifications. These are worked in fingering weight, and I love the classic look of the cables she chose for the back of the hand.

We’re so pleased with the collection overall and I do love how the pieces work together as a set. Collaboration often pushes me to make slightly different creative decisions than I’d make working totally on my own, and that’s really refreshing sometimes.

another year, gone

November and December have come and gone, and it’s stayed pretty quiet in this space. There were a few reasons for that – it’s been a very busy time both at work at the university as well as behind the scenes with Paper Tiger, but I’ve also been coping with the worsening condition of a herniated disc that’s been plaguing me since early spring this year. It’s actually been a much longer chronic issue, but the occasional flare up of pain has never been a super big deal until 2020. Long story short, I wound up having minor surgery for it on December 18th. It was successful and I’m totally fine, just taking it easy at home while I recover. (I wrote a bit more about that here.)

We had a quiet Christmas at home in Trondheim and will have a quiet new year’s eve as well. Waking up to a thin dusting of snow on Christmas morning was a welcome treat (although it’s long gone now), as was video calling our families later in the day.

I did release a couple of new patterns the week before my surgery, and I will share those here as well, but they deserve their own post, so I will save it for another day soon.

Like many others, I feel like I don’t know where this year has gone. Time always seems to move quickly, but somehow in a year almost without travel, where the days bleed into one another more easily than ever before, time seems to have lost all meaning. I don’t feel too much like doing any big reflections this year. I’m just grateful to be moving towards a new year with a little bit more optimism, even if there are many things that aren’t going to change as quickly as we’d like them to.

I hope your final week of 2020 has been restful and restorative. I hope you’ve been able to find some joy in the midst of chaos and sadness. And I hope you’re able to look to 2021 with a little bit more optimism too.

x

FOs revisited

I’ve been thinking for several months about a few pieces in my wardrobe that aren’t working for whatever reason. Many of us seem to enjoy sharing our finished makes online, myself included, but how often do we go back and talk about when things don’t work? Several years on from finishing a project, it can be very clear that it doesn’t fit your wardrobe needs or style the way you thought it would. Even if you love it.

In those cases, there are a few different options. The most passive approach is to simply let it sit in your closet/wardrobe/storage, either totally forgotten or occasionally haunting you when you remember it exists. I’ve had a few of those. More active responses to the realization that a piece doesn’t fit your life include selling it or giving it away to someone whose life or body it fits better, or choosing to re-work it or re-use the materials in a way that will work better for you.

I’ve done this at least once before – back in 2016 I frogged a sweater project that rarely got worn, and wrote a bit about it in the latter half of this post. That yarn later got turned into a basic raglan pullover that I wear all the time, although I don’t think that FO ever featured on the blog (I did post about it on Instagram, though). I think the success of that experience is part of what’s led me to consider other pieces that could use a similar treatment.

So, there are a few pieces of my handmade wardrobe that haven’t been working for a long time, and I’ve been devising plans for them. I’ve even started executing a few of those plans, in fact. I’d like to share the results of each transformation when I finish them, but I figured I’d share a bit about my plans here at this point.

First up, my Svalbard cardigan, knit back in 2014 (you can see the original FO post here). I think this is a lovely design, and I actually did wear this cardigan a lot in the first year or two after I knit it, particularly when we still lived in Seattle. But over time, it became less and less something I reached for, for a variety of reasons. It didn’t work as well in the colder climates we’ve lived in since Seattle (Norway and Montreal). A huge part of why this is true is that it doesn’t pass the Jacket Test (that’s my shorthand for the question: Can you put on a coat or jacket over it without too much faff? If yes, it passes; if no, it fails). I’ve learned that my clothes live and die by the Jacket Test. Over time, I felt like Svalbard was less flattering on me and I rarely reached for it, but I love the yarn I knit it with and would happily use it in another project. So a month or two ago I frogged it, and it felt good. I’m not sure yet what this yarn will become, but it’ll be ready for me when I’ve made up my mind.

Other pieces I have plans for:

  • This simple gathered skirt sewn back in 2015. I’ll go more into detail after I’ve sewn a new skirt from this fabric, but suffice it to say that it turned out this skirt didn’t work as-is, and I deconstructed it this weekend in preparation for sewing it up into something that I hope will work much better. This plan was largely inspired by my success with the Fiore skirt.
  • My Circlet Shrug, knit in 2017. This plan is also already in progress, and luckily it doesn’t involve any frogging, but just a simple addition to the garment: sleeves! My Circlet Shrug is becoming a Circlet Cardigan. I’m very excited about this transformation and hope to share the finished modifications soon!
  • I’m also tentatively considering adding some length to the sleeves of my Lapwing pullover (again, an FO I never blogged about once finished, but that I did post on Instagram). This is lower on my priority list and it also wouldn’t be particularly fun – it would involve unpicking sleeve seams and pulling out a bind off in Hillesvåg Sølje, not the easiest yarn for that kind of task. I do wear my Lapwing, but I think I’d wear it more if the tightest part of the sleeve sat lower on my forearm for a more comfortable fit, and I do have enough yarn to make this modification. So we shall see.

I do think one thing that comes along with making our own clothes is continuously learning about what does and doesn’t work for us – and the wonderful thing is that as makers, we can so often tweak pieces we already own to make them work better, or even re-use the materials for a larger transformation. Have you ever frogged a sweater you knit or crocheted, or re-worked a piece you sewed? I’d be curious to hear how it worked for you!

FO: fiore skirt

I mentioned back in my post sewing in april that I had plans to make a Fiore Skirt by Closet Core Patterns, and I actually did make one not long after that! Initially I wanted to finish it for syttende mai (May 17th, Norway’s national holiday) even though we weren’t going anywhere or doing anything for the holiday this year, but I didn’t quite make that self-imposed deadline. Nonetheless I finished it up shortly after that, and have been meaning to blog about it ever since!

I learned a lot making this skirt, which was part of the point of making it. It’s one of the patterns included with the Closet Core online sewing course I did as well, so there were videos as part of the course that walked me through some of the more challenging parts. I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve sewn a proper button placket, and I’m very pleased with how that turned out. I used a lightweight cotton lawn I fell in love with (Lady McElroy Evening Roost in teal), and because of the pattern on the fabric, I affectionately refer to this as my Bird Skirt.

The Fiore pattern has three views: a version with a zip in the back, a wrap skirt version, and a version with a front button placket. There are also two lengths. I obviously made the version with the button placket, and I made a couple of modifications:

  • while I used the long version of the pattern pieces, I added around three inches of length to the skirt to get the length I knew I wanted (I’m 6′ / 182 cm tall, so the pattern’s “below knee” designation wasn’t going to hit me below the knee without modifying).
  • I did away with the patch pockets (since those aren’t my fave) and added side pockets instead. I used the pattern pieces from the Chardon skirt from Deer & Doe for the pockets since I’ve made that skirt before and had the pieces on hand.
  • I did away with the seam at the back. All three views use the same pattern piece for the back; you cut two of the back piece and then sew them together. This makes perfect sense for the version with the zip, but for the other two views, I don’t really see why the seam is necessary. I didn’t want to cut up the pattern of my fabric, either, so I cut that piece on the fold instead.

This is easily the most lightweight skirt I own, which makes it a great option for the summer heat (although with a slip I can also wear it with tights for cooler days). I paired it with a knitted tank several times this summer, particularly in June when we had our hottest weather. It was a joy to discover that I loved this combination so much, because I’ve been trying to incorporate a wider variety of colors in my wardrobe for a couple of years. This deep mustardy yellow-orange color pairs very well with blues and teals, which I love and wear a lot of, so I’m definitely going to try to incorporate more of it into my clothing. The tank was made with Rauma Petunia, a DK weight cotton yarn, in a limited edition color called villhonning (“wild honey”). I used Jessie Maed’s Framework Bralette as the starting point but made a lot of modifications to turn it into a simple stockinette tank.

I liked making the Fiore skirt a lot, and I would definitely use the pattern again. I might go down a size if I do – the waistband feels ever so slightly large on me in this size. Another option would be to add a bit of elastic to the back of the waistband, which is a modification I’ve seen for this pattern. I will note that size-wise, it goes up to a 39″ waist, but no further.

I haven’t managed any other sewing this year since finishing this skirt (aside from hemming some curtains), and I’d like to change that. We’ve been working on house projects on the weekend a lot, however, so fitting in sewing time has somehow felt challenging. I’ve definitely spent more time knitting than sewing – and some of that has been for new patterns, so I’ll be able to share those in the coming months. I’m not sure yet what my next sewing project will be, but the most likely candidates seem like an Emery dress or a knit top of some kind. I have fabric for both, but I haven’t been able to make up my mind about a pattern for the knit fabric. Do you have any favorite sewing patterns for tops with a jersey knit?

a few september snaps

I know I’m not the only one wondering where the month has gone. (This year especially, that seems to keep happening.) September has been the wettest month in Trondheim so far – I think it’s rained nearly every day. Just weeks and weeks of rain. Yesterday we finally had a clear day for the first time in ages, and it was a real treat! But I did manage to grab a few snaps in the past few days when there were breaks in the rain. I thought I’d share a few with you today, in case you needed a dose of autumn beauty.

Although I didn’t feel quite ready for it when the first signs of fall started showing themselves, I’m definitely enjoying it now. It’s hard not to love this season in Norway, even when the rain clouds won’t leave you alone.

Yesterday’s clear skies gave us one more treat – I finally saw some proper northern lights in Trondheim! We were absolutely spoiled when we lived in Tromsø, since they happen quite regularly there. In Trondheim they’re less frequent, and there’s quite a bit of light pollution both from the city, as well as the farming region on the north side of the fjord which has a lot of greenhouses that cast a noticeable orange glow into the sky. But last night, there were a few minutes of pretty active aurora and we were lucky enough to watch from our balcony. I’ve really missed the aurora, so I hope we get to see some more this year.

FOs: angelou & hazel

I have two finished sweaters to share with you today. First up is my Angelou cardigan, started earlier this year and first appearing on the blog back in April.

I actually finished knitting this one in July (I shared it nearly finished here), but it took me a couple of weeks to get around to blocking it, and then I probably waffled about which buttons to use for at least a month. I finally settled on some pretty metal buttons (purchased from Stoff og Stil) and on Sunday I sat down and sewed them on. and I’m really pleased with how the whole thing came out, and as predicted, there is nothing in my wardrobe quite like this cardigan. I wore it to work today and it was so nice to finally wear it out of the house, buttons and all!

The pattern is the Angelou cardigan by Alexis Winslow and I used Kelbourne Woolens Scout in the Orchid Heather colorway. It’s a DK weight, and while the pattern calls for sport weight, the gauge of 22 sts per 4″/10 cm means a DK works very comfortably here – it’s just a little bit cozier in the slightly thicker yarn.

I also finished knitting a Hazel pullover for myself. I don’t think Hazel has featured on the blog at all, neither this version in-progress, nor the original sample I made last year. Hazel is a pattern I designed for Quince & Co. and it was released together with a baby/child version called Hedy. They are effectively the same design, just imagined for adults in one case and children in the other. The lice stitch on Hedy is the other distinguishing factor. Both of the original pattern samples were knit in Lark, Quince’s worsted weight wool, and were part of the Core Wool 2019 releases last autumn. Since those pattern samples were part of a larger collection, the colors chosen for them were part of a larger cohesive color theme (and in this case, they aren’t colors or color combinations I probably would have chosen on my own).

I decided to knit a version of Hazel for myself that was inspired by the Hedy sample, in many ways. I chose green for the main color, but my contrast color is very similar to the one used for Hedy. I also carried over the lice stitch. Instead of using Lark, I took the opportunity to finally make myself something with Owl, Quince’s wool/alpaca worsted weight. Unlike their worsted spun wool yarns, Owl is woolen spun, so it has an entirely different look and feel to the core wool yarns. I’ve wanted to use Owl for a very long time, and it’s strange that having worked with Quince on patterns since 2015 that it took until now for it to happen. I’m happy to say that it did not disappoint. The shades I chose were Hemlock (the deep green) and Bubo (the very heathered grey-taupe). I had a lot of fun knitting this and the finished sweater is immensely cozy as well.

I cast on for Hazel a few days after finishing the knitting on Angelou, and it was finished in August. I’m continuing to try and chip away at my WIPs without casting on too many new things, but I actually lined up a bunch of pattern work for the fall and I’ve got some samples to knit in the next couple of months, so there will still be new cast ons.

I do have to acknowledge that both of these sweaters make me think about the year that this has been so far, in different ways. Angelou was started back in the relatively early days of the quarantine period, and my strongest memory of working on it is sitting on the couch on May 17, Norway’s national day, watching the NRK coverage of the limited festivities that were possible (this was the first year since the occupation during World War II that the 17th of May parade in Oslo wasn’t held). And this version of Hazel was a comfort knit, but it also reminded me of knitting my original sample last year, mostly on a trip to Australia. We were there in March of 2019, well before the summer fire season they had at the end of the year and the beginning of 2020, but it’s difficult not to think about the fires right now, as the west coast of the US burns like it never has before. Seattle is one of the places I call home, and my heart aches for everyone who is suffering, who’s lost loved ones or homes or belongings. It aches for the damage being done to the landscape, the environment, the ecosystems that rely on them. The smoke everyone can’t help but breathe in. I don’t have any deep thoughts to share, but if you are affected by the fires in any way right now, my heart goes out to you. I will be researching the best places to send aid at this time, and I hope that you all are staying safe and taking care.

september

Late summer is giving way to early autumn.

You can feel the days growing shorter here in Trondheim, the sun sitting lower in the sky. While I enjoyed the long summer days, the return of night and the stars is welcome. The wildflowers have almost all finished and filled the breezy air with floating seeds. The rose hips are ripening and the rowan berries are turning bright red. A few eager leaves have even stared changing color.

I find myself moving back and forth between good days and low ones. Some days I feel like I’m coping relatively well with everything going on in the world and I can find moments of joy. Other days are harder. I’m sure many of you have felt similarly. It’s hard to know what to say beyond that.

I continue to take refuge in making, though, and I have finished a few projects in the past few months that I’ve been wanting to share as well. So hopefully you’ll see some more crafting in this space very soon.

In the meantime, I’m doing my best to soak up the lingering warm, sunny days we’re getting in between pockets of rain. I do enjoy a good mix of both, so I have no complaints there. And I’ll never turn down an excuse to enjoy an ice cream outside in the sunshine. As always, I hope you’re keeping well.

FO: vellum

Today I wanted to share my Vellum cardigan. As I mentioned in my previous post, this one was an unplanned knit. I cast on May 1st and was finished by the 9th, so it went rather quickly. It was also a fun project for a lot of reasons.

This pattern is from Karie Westermann’s book This Thing of Paper. I wrote about the book several years ago, back when it was in the crowdfunding stages, and the end result is gorgeous. The inspiration for the patterns comes from the evolution of the printed page, from medieval manuscript to the printing press, which makes it a treat for a book lover. Still, even though I’ve had my copy since it was released in 2017, I had yet to knit anything from it. Vellum wasn’t even one of the patterns originally topping my list of favorites. Karie’s original color combo was nice, but it wasn’t very me, and some of the other pieces in the book spoke to me more.

Vellum by Karie Westermann

But it floated to the front of my mind when I realized the skeins of Mendip DK I’d purchased from Marina Skua would make a lovely colorwork yoke. Katie from Inside Number 23 knit a version of Vellum at the beginning of this year (seen finished in this episode), and it was that project that first helped me see this pattern in a new light. So when I decided I wanted to use my Mendip DK in a yoke, I figured playing with the charts from Vellum might work out well.

I made several modifications to this pattern to make it the sweater I wanted. I cropped the body slightly (although both the body and the sleeves came out slightly longer than I’d anticipated), and consequently changed the waist shaping. I also made several changes to the colorwork charts in order to really put Marina’s Mendip DK colorways on display. I was particularly interested in combining the Teal and Fox colorways in a section, so I added colorwork to one of the sections that was originally a single color. I also added a third color to one of the rows (the second motif from the bottom of the yoke, in brown Beech, orange Fox, and grey Sheep – the grey stitches were my addition). Getting the motifs to line up the way I wanted them to meant shifting around a couple of the decreases as well, but in the end it was absolutely worth it.

I mentioned the yarn of the main color for the body and sleeves in my last post: ancient stash yarn from Kahurangi Natural Wools in New Zealand, handed down to me from my aunt and originally purchased who-knows-how-long ago. This yarn is their Double Knitting and the colorway is Oatmeal. I’ve tried to use this yarn for one or two projects in the past and never ended up finishing them, so it felt really wonderful to finally put it to use, and in a garment I ended up loving. It was a pretty decent match for the Mendip DK, if perhaps ever-so-slightly thicker.

Vellum is steeked at the front, and I worked a crochet reinforcement before cutting it open. I believe this is the second cardigan front I’ve steeked (although I’ve steeked arm and neck openings on other garments) but this is the first time I’ve covered the steek edge with any kind of trim. It makes for such a neat finish, though, and I found the perfect trim to use over at Textile Garden (the buttons also came from Textile Garden). The teal and orange of the trim are a perfect match for Marina’s colorways.

I am very satisfied with this project – it feels good when things come together the way you hoped they would. I do feel like I want to address one issue, though – I recently spoke up about size inclusivity over on Instagram, and about my reasons for choosing not to knit a pattern from a recent collection Rauma launched in collaboration with an independent Norwegian designer. I want to acknowledge that the size range for Vellum isn’t that much bigger than the collection I was talking about. But I also want to state why knitting one of Karie’s patterns is different for me (and I understand if anyone disagrees with this): Karie is an independent designer who has also spoken up about pattern sizing and inclusivity in recent years. I know she cares about it. I know she’s been actively working on a size range for her patterns that includes much larger sizes than her patterns previously have done. I want to support her in that work, and I hope that some of her previously published work will see expanded sizing in the future (something I’m working on with my own previously published patterns). Companies like Rauma, while I love them for their yarns, do not have a great track record on size inclusivity and have not shown much of an inclination to change on that front. So it’s harder to choose to knit a Rauma pattern for a very basic summer top when that’s the case (I adapted a Jessie Maed pattern instead).