Thursday, October 14, 2010

Go west, young knitter!

That's what I've been hearing for months, ever since one of my good friends from school moved back home to Portland. (Actually, it was more like "come visit, come visit - Portland's a great city!" but my version makes for a catchier blog title.) So when a three-day weekend appeared this month, we happily packed our bags and headed off to the Pacific Northwest for a visit.

Yes, yes, I know you're all saying, but what about the sweater? I finished Hallett's Ledge just in the nick of time, sewing the buttons on Thursday evening. Of course, this meant that I didn't have time to cast on for the secret project - that had to wait until we got back home.

You saw a little tease earlier this week and now here's the front:

Sorry, none of the front shots turned out well. This was the best one and it only works when I cut my head out of it. The back shots turned out much better.

It's a fabulous sweater and I absolutely love it. Thanks for a great pattern, Elinor

Here's the rundown:

Pattern: Hallett's Ledge by Elinor Brown, available in the Fall 2010 Twist Collective
Size: 35" (although the bust blocked out to something closer to 34", which probably looks a bit better on me than 35" would have. That said, I didn't block this one very aggressively.)
Yarn: 5 skeins of Cascade 220 Heathers in colorway Olympic Rain Forest. I added some extra length to the sweater (more on that in a minute) and still had a bit of yarn left over so 5 skeins is plenty for the 35" size.
Needles: size 8 addi lace circular needles. That's right, one needle size for everything - even the ribbing. I was a bit skeptical at first but it all turned out in the end.
Mods: Like I do with many of my sweaters, I added length to the body and the sleeves. Here, I added the extra rows in the ribbing part of the body and then worked the cabled sections as written (adding my extra ribbing length to the pattern figures when the directions read something like "work until piece measures X inches long"). The extra length meant that I had to fudge the button band, too, but happily that turned out to be very easy since I could just use the directions for the largest size. Other than figuring out how best to pick up the stitches, there was no math involved at all.

This probably isn't a mod, but I'll mention it here anyway. On the cabled part of the sweater, the pattern isn't entirely clear on how much you should incorporate the waist increases into the cabled pattern. In the 35" size the increases grow into another of the wide cable panels, but the panel never gets big enough to fit the entire braid pattern. If you were to religiously follow the chart here, the side/increase sections look a bit wonky since the cables look more like mistakes than design features. I threw in a cable here and there as I was waffling back and forth about how carefully to follow the chart. Honestly, it doesn't really matter since the stitches hide under the arm anyway. That said, if I were to knit this again, I'd keep the increase panels in stockinette and not worry about adding in the cables at all.

Final thoughts: Rachel had asked a little while ago what I thought of using Cascade 220 on this piece and I punted a bit in my answer, wanting to wait until I had finished the piece before giving my final verdict. Honestly, I'd love to use a slightly thicker yarn on this sweater - something more along the lines of the Rowan Felted Tweed in the original (or perhaps Jared Flood's new yarn). While the Cascade did full a bit while blocking, it just doesn't produce as thick and cushy a fabric as I really like. That's not to say that Cascade isn't a great yarn, because it is. I just like something with a woolier hand. All that said, I knit this sweater with $40 worth of yarn and one of the woolier options would have cost me about $100. So was it worth it to me to spend the extra money? No. I'm really happy with this one and have no regrets about using Cascade. In fact, I'm thrilled to have been able to use stash yarn - something I've been trying to do more of over the past year with varying degrees of success. But more importantly, I think the Cascade looks fantastic in the cabled pattern on this sweater. Great stitch definition, and that's what matters here.

Ok, that's a lot of text so you're probably due for another pic, right?

I really wasn't kidding when I said that none of the front shots came out well. Of course, we had a good reason for being distracted. Just look at this:

We spent Sunday out along the coast and the views were nothing short of spectacular. Saturday took us through downtown Portland, which was equally fabulous in it's own way. Did you know that public transit is free in downtown Portland? Besides that, it's clean, friendly, and easily accessible. Even better, it took us to all sorts of fun places like Saturday Market, Powell's Books, and two different yarn stores. 

First off was Twisted, a really nifty little shop just outside of downtown. I got to pet some of the Blue Moon Fiber Arts BFL Sport and let me tell you, it's divine. Sadly, it did not follow my rule for the trip which allowed souvenir purchases so long as they were local (ok on that front) and not something I could get in Chicago (there's the problem: I live near The Fold). Instead, I picked up two 4oz braids of Imperial Stock Ranch columbia sliver in the colorway Spring Sage. 

This will likely turn into a winter scarf/shawl/thing. As soon as I get another project or two off the needles, of course. 

Later in the day we made our way to Knit Purl, a lovely shop right in the middle of downtown Portland. Besides having a fabulous selection of yarns, Knit Purl also had a great spot for non-knitting spouses to hang out, which was much appreciated (it's also very close to Powell's in case your companion gets too antsy). 

I have to confess that I broke down a little bit at Knit Purl. True, it was planned (to a certain extent). As you've probably heard, Jared Flood has come out with his own line of yarn. Having followed his blog for several years now, I was prepared to order some of this new yarn on faith alone. Happily, I didn't have to since Knit Purl is one of the stores that carries the line. It's gorgeous. Just gorgeous. Yes, I know it's a bit pricey ($12.50 for a 140 yard skein) but the hand is beautiful and the knitted fabric is to die for. If you like wooly tweeds in beautiful colors, try this yarn. I was even able to swatch a bit in it at the shop and can assure you that it's fun to knit, too (DH agrees, since he also knit a bit on the swatch). There's a bit of lanolin in the skein but that washes right out, leaving a beautiful light-weight yet substantial feeling fabric.

I brought home five skeins in the Wool Socks colorway to turn into Terra.

Wasn't I on a yarn diet? Yes, although I had told myself that I could have a present for passing the bar exam. Initially I was thinking that I would look for fiber to spin for something from A Fine Fleece. There was just one little problem with that idea: I really want to spin and knit Portland (rav link) but that project will have to wait a bit longer. 

As you can see, I'm not really knitting pullovers these days.


Jonah said...

You need to find a better photographer for those front shots. (Or we need to remember batteries for the camera)
That's the takeaway from this post. Really it is.

Julie said...

Congratulations!!! You are glowing in the photos. Great sweater, it's stunning.

Gale said...

What a great post. And congratulations to you and Jonah. Hallet's Ledge is fabulous, and the Portland area is a wonderful location to take those pictures. Knit Purl is one of those knit shops I long to visit. Thank you for the mods info for Staghorn.

Brenda said...

What a great post. The photos of you, the sweater and the scenery - all wonderful. And thanks for the link to Jared's new yarn.

Rachel said...

So many things to comment on! I don't know what should be first...the beautiful sweater...the shock that you got sunny days in Portland and on the coast (aaahh, Cannon Beach, oh how I love thee)...or um, maybe congratulations!!! ;)

Thanks for all the info on Hallett's Ledge and your experience with'll help me make my yarn decision when I cast on after the first of the year. And I'm super excited to do that after seeing really does look amazing!

Also, I'm hanging my head in shame because I slipped as well at Knit Purl (though via long distance)...sight unseen I knew I needed to experience Jared's yarn and in a moment of weakness, ordered some last week (I rarely jump on the bandwagon with yarn but this one just seemed special). What cracks me up is we got the exact same color! Oh well, I think this yarn will be worth the slip (and wondering if Hallett's Ledge will end up being the project for it!).

elizabeth said...

Congratulations! What a great surprise!!! There are wonderful cardigans in AFF too! I'm so happy for you, and Hallett's Ledge is GORGEOUS!

Jacey said...

Cute little bump, there! The sweater is so lovely, and oh, Oregon. How I want to visit! I've purchased yarn from Knit Purl online before, and it's definitely on my list of yarn stores to visit. I've been enjoying pictures of Jared's yarn and his new patterns. I look forward to seeing your version of the shawl.

Bikes said...

Congratulations! What a fun post. I look forward to seeing what you knit for your little one.

And congratulations, too, on passing the bar exam.

Charlotte and Liz said...

It was so lovely to meet you and your handknit-loving husband on the plane from PDX to Chicago! I have been dying to scoop up some Shelter yarn from Knit Purl, but knew with Rhinebeck I would be dropping some serious cash on yarn and fiber there! Maybe after all my hoilday knitting is done I'll treat myself to some!
And congrats to you on the little one! :)