It's a lovely pattern and the Handmaiden Sea Three was a lovely match for it. But I knit it on #9 needles and I felt it was just a little too wide for the average neck. I decided to frog it and try again.
So during the American Thanksgiving weekend I knit it up again on #8 needles and it is now the perfect size (in my opinion) for the average neck.
Now I just have to decide whose neck will be the happy recipient!
On Sunday, I drove to Portland, Maine to this yarn shop.
Where the lovely new owner, Susie, was hosting a class with the talented teacher, Amy Herzog.
left to right, Myself, Amy Herzog, Susie (store owner)
This was my first step on a new quest in search of sweaters that will both fit and flatter me. Which is just what Amy aims to teach you in her now famous "Fit to Flatter" workshops.
We covered a lot of ground in just a little over 3 hours and I learned so much about sweater knitting that my head is still spinning.
I learned several things about myself that I did not previously know but here are just three facts that were the most surprising to me.
1. I'm a "curvy proportional" body type and therefore I must look for sweater patterns that are balanced in and of themselves to keep me balanced (because my body will most likely take on the shape of the sweater versus the sweater conforming to my shape).
2. I have been knitting the wrong size for my measurements. All along. Like my whole entire life-as-a-knitter.
3. Since I work with plant fibers, negative ease should be my new best friend.
Amy has lots of great information on short-row shaping to accomodate a larger bust, or a large tummy, or a curved back etc. but, so far, I don't really need to worry about those modifications in my patterns.
She also has great tips for those with one of the other two body shapes: Top Heavy or Bottom Heavy.
If you can't get to one of Amy's classes then you should at least take some time to visit her on-line tutorial that covers most of the tips and tricks I mentioned above.
Her sweater designs are absolutely gorgeous too. We saw lots of them and I tried on the ones without wool fiber and others tried on the rest and you definitely want to take a look at these great patterns (which contain helpful tips for modifying them to fit you).
Now that I've gained this important information about what will fit and flatter my own shape in a sweater, the next step will be fiber research.
Yes, this is going to mean swatching and a LOT of it and not just to get gauge. Look for a new fiber swatch feature here on the blog starting in 2012. I'm actually kind of excited about it. I just keep thinking about those future sweaters that will both fit and flatter me!
Such a beautiful store -- don't you love the giant mittens hanging from the ceiling? She carries at lot of Quince Company yarns and other wools, but she did have a small, carefully chosen selection of wool-free yarns for me to pet. I have one skein of Berroco Linsey to test swatch and I picked up some of the Berroco Weekend Chunky (it was 50% off) as a gift for my mom and I got another circular needle to add to my growing collection (you know, just to support Susie and all).
Be sure to stop in if you are passing by and tell her hello from me!
Her post got me thinking. A LOT. About my own stash. And it occured to me that these were important thoughts that might be worth sharing. (Thanks Glenna).
When I first started knitting I swore I'd never have a stash. My BKF recalls the conversation clearly and her barely disguised chuckling throughout. I was only ever going to work on one project at a time. When I was finished (or almost finished) a project I'd choose the next pattern and buy the yarn to knit it.
"What about left-overs," she asked? Well, I was only going to buy the exact amount of yarn specified and any remaining balls/skeins would be returned to the store (it honestly never occurred to me at that time that a yarn store could actually go out of business in the time it took me to actually finish up a project).
What about small bits of left over yarn? Oh, I'd just toss those. What could you do with a wee bit of yarn.
You can see how naive I was. It really is laughable and it's a credit to my BKF that she didn't roll on the floor howling.
So the first lesson I learned as a new knitter is that "Stash Happens."
These are my two baskets of leftovers (one for worsted and bulky yarns, one for Dk and finer). I have one more sweater bag full of single balls of leftover yarn which I couldn't or wouldn't return.
I blame the size of this portion of my stash on Afghan knitting. It is impossible to knit multi-colored afghans and not have lots of left-overs. This portion would be larger but I periodically bag up some of this yarn and gift it to my mother for her charity hat knitting.
My husband says it's just like the feeding of the 5,000 -- no matter how much is knit there's always a dozen baskets of left overs!
Normally I'd also include gift yarns in the Stash Happens category (I can't be responsible if people just give me yarn, now can I? ) But much to my amazement it looks like I've knit up all my gift yarn so I'm looking forward to replenishing that section of my stash in December/January. Oh yes, Santa, yarn is on my list!
Next up is the Intentional Stash. These are yarns I specifically purchased for myself and have set aside for future projects.
My favorite category for this list is souvenir yarns. Despite all my travels, this is a smallish group as well because I generally don't pick up more than a skein or two of something new and I'm often excited enough about it to cast on immediately.
Then there's the yarn with interesting textures. I suppose you could call this novelty yarn, but for me it's just on the edge. It's yarn that knits like normal yarn but produces an interesting texture -- like Berroco suede or plush or Polarknit yarn. I usually buy this stuff when I see it on sale for a great price and it speaks to me. But it's "just for fun" and very inexpensive so if I don't find a use for it in a reasonable amount of time, I pass it on.
fun yarns with interesting textures
Sock yarn-- I have acquired sock yarn for 2 projects. Just in case I get the sudden urge to make socks one day. You never know.
wool-free sock yarn
And the two newest categories to my stash are:
My hand-dyed yarn. At the moment, I've just been playing around with worsted weight silk but I have plans to try other yarns and other dying methods so I have a feeling that this will be my fastest growing area of stash (I can definitely dye faster than I can knit).
worsted-weight silk hand-dyed by me
Cone yarn (which might be included in any one of the categories above but I keep the cones separate). Cone stash is very deceptive. It may not look like much, but there are thousands of yards of yarn on those little soldiers!
silks and stainless steel deceptively hidden on cardboard cones.
If you looked very closely at my yarn, you'll see there's not a single strand of wool to be found anywhere. Mine is a "wool free" stash of silks, linens, cottons, hemp, bamboo, stainless steel and acrylic blends.
So that's my stash today, but Glenna got me thinking about my future stash. What yarns would I like to have on hand....hmm, that's going to take a little more time to ponder. I'll have to get back to you.
In the meantime, let's keep Glenna's question going. "What yarns are you stashing?"
Another 2 squares knit and another strip of border. Not too baaad, eh? This Sheep Blanket is moving right along.
I was surprised to discover that the gray colored version of this yarn has a slightly different texture than the other colors. It's got more "bite" to it (which I quite like for this project) and doesn't split, but I'm wondering how this difference is possible since it's all the exact same yarn. Anyone else notice this about Berroco Comfort Chunky?
I promised a few scarves for my nephew (who's not quite two) and since it's starting to get to be scarf weather I decided I should get the second one knit up sooner than later.
I used a partial ball of burgundy Berroco Comfort (afghan leftovers) and this simple baby scarf by liesl gibson. I like the keyhole construction of this scarf, perfect for stroller rides since there's no long dangling end to drag on the ground.
If you need a quick last-minute kids knit, this definitely qualifies. I was able to knock it out in a few hours last evening. I hope he and his mom like it!
If you didn't see the first scarf, you can view it here.