FO: Bee’s Knees

Let’s review the basics. My name is Cecilia. I like to knit. I really like knitting deliciously squooshy cables. Thea Colman tends to design knits with squooshy cables and excellent cocktail themed names. (I also like a good cocktail. I love a great one.) I really like Thea Colman’s sweaters. Sometimes I get really lucky, and I get to test knit for Thea.

Well, that happened recently. Thea had some deliciously squooshy cables on a fantastic cardigan and was looking for testers. (Oh, yes, I love a good cardigan.) I jumped on the opportunity to test it, which also meant that I got to use the utterly amazing Studio Worsted from Neighborhood Fiber Co for the first (but DEFINITELY not last time.) The result was a gorgeous cardigan that I’m delighted with.

Thea chose to name this sweater the Bee’s Knees. The name is perfect in my mind. It’s a cocktail that I love and an excellent idiom. I like bees. I like honey. I really like honey with lemon. I love gin. I love Prohibition cocktails. I like rhyming. I love the name, and honestly? This sweater really is the bee’s knees in my book.

This sweater has many things going for it. It has a really gorgeous (and easy to follow) cable pattern next to the button-band and collar. It has a fun and pretty texture pattern on the body and sleeves. It has an utterly wonderful shawl collar. I love a good shawl collar. This sweater is just a cozy piece. It really is, as the name suggests, the Bee’s Knees. It might be far too warm to wear it today, but summer never lasts. And come fall and winter, I know that I’ll be found snuggling up in this lovely sweater.

The pattern is, as always, very well written and easy to follow. Thea explains the necessary techniques clearly. I found this to be a very smooth and easy knit. You need to pay attention to what you’re doing and make sure that you know where you are in the sweater. But as long as you’re keeping track of yourself, it’s a really easy sweater to knit.

And yes, I know that the cable looks complicated. And I know that some of you will never believe me on this. But I still promise that it is well-explained and an intuitive process. It looks complex when all of the parts are put together but when you do them slowly, one at a time, they’re much simpler than you might otherwise suspect.

Pattern here.

Raveled here.

Buttons can be found here.

Thea and Karida are using this pattern to encourage voting. If you know me, you know that I believe that voting is important. I love living in a democracy, and I believe that voting is one of the most important things that we can do as Americans. I’m also well aware that not everyone is able to vote, that some people choose to not vote, and that some people work to make it hard/impossible for certain racial groups to vote. If you can vote, do it. If you can help others to vote, do it. Please take voting seriously. Please do what you believe to be best for everyone who lives in this country.

FO: Flax

One of the reasons I knit is to find calm in the midst of life. A few weeks ago, I realized that both of my projects were adding stress rather than relieving it. So I grabbed six skeins primo DK that I’ve had for so long that it was primo worsted when I bought it and started knitting Flax from Tin Can Kits. It flew along, and it gave me some peace I really needed.

Flax is a part of the Simple Collection. I’ve previously knit the Flax Light sweater and the Barley hat from this collection. I like this collection because it’s simple, straightforward patterns. The patterns are easy to follow, and they’re easy to modify.

And I wanted to modify this baby. The pattern is written in stockinette with garter stripes on each sleeve. It’s lovely, but it isn’t what I wanted. I wanted a reverse stockinette sweater. I knit also the raglan increases as YOs instead of KFB. And I split the hem into front and back-because I want to.

I wanted to make the color the focus of the sweater rather than anything else. The color was part of a fall palette that the Plucky Knitter put together back in 2016. It’s this gorgeous subtly variegated purple called Yodel, and I love it.

The sweater took four skeins, about 800 yards. It’s soft and gorgeous. I love it very much. I won’t get much use out of it for a while, and that’s fine. But I know that when I wear it, it will be utterly delightful.

Raveled here.

FO: Urban Chartreuse

Five years ago, I knit my first Chartreuse sweater. I loved it. I still love it. I love wearing it. It’s a great sweater. It’s pretty. It has cables. It’s warm and snuggly and squooshy. It’s named after a most excellent liquor. And I don’t think that I need to tell you how I feel about Thea Colman’s patterns at this point. I think that it’s pretty obvious.

At some point, I developed a desire to make another Chartreuse, but it took me a while to act on that desire. Then back in the fall, The Plucky Knitter was having a sale, and they were including their “Urban” colorway. Urban is a gorgeous gray that’s subtly variegated, and it has a bit of an almost purple cast to it. Somehow I knew that this was my moment. I bit the bullet and bought six skeins of Urban on PK’s Scholar. It took me a couple of months to get going on the sweater, and I wasn’t as monogamous with it as I could have been.

But I made a second Chartreuse, and I’m so happy about it. My first Chartreuse was a loud pop of color, and I love that. But this one is a more sedate neutral, which I also love. They play different roles in my wardrobe, and that’s a good thing.

The pattern is straightforward and easy to follow. I don’t think that it’s quite right for a beginning knitter. But the cable pattern only looks complicated. It’s pretty easy to memorize, and I found it almost became intuitive at a certain point. The saddle strap shoulder is an easy technique but it definitely requites concentration.

I did make one major modification on this sweater. While I love my first Chartreuse, I’m not the biggest fan of the pockets as written. They’re just a little too shallow for me. (Also, I wasn’t sure that I had enough Urban to knit pockets for this sweater.) So I pulled out some navy blue (Cassidy) Scholar that I had in stash and knit two squares. Then I cast off the same number of stitches on the body that made up my squares and worked my squares into the body. This gives a fun pop of color when you see the inside of the pocket and meant that I had enough yarn to finish the sweater. And…I have pockets that are deep enough to hold my phone…or bury my hands in when it’s cold.

I really love this sweater. I don’t know if I’ll get much use out of it before fall, but I’m definitely looking forward to snuggling up in it next year.

(A note about the photoshoot: When I started this cardigan, I had grand dreams of a photo shoot at Chartreuse in Detroit. Obviously, in light of COVID-19, this wasn’t possible. Instead, I decided to put on a happy dress and explore the hallways of my apartment building.)

Raveled here.

Dress is Washi from Made by Rae sewn with Wild Cream Rose by Rifle Paper Company.

FO: Peated Whisky

This is a story about how sometimes I don’t have my life as together as I wish that I did. Or maybe it’s about how I wish that there were more hours in the day or I had more time for knitting. I’m not sure. What I know is that it’s a story about how I was supposed to finish a sweater by February 20, and instead I finished it on March 13.

In late January, I agreed to test a sweater pattern for Thea Colman, and she VERY kindly sent me a sweater quantity of YOTH Father in a glorious color called Sea Salt that she happened to already have. I started the sweater, and I really enjoyed knitting it. It’s a great pattern. It’s well written, and easy to follow. The hardest part of the pattern is the diamond cabling on the front. While the other cables in the pattern are easy to memorize the diamonds are not. They did eventually become somewhat intuitive, but they were never what I’d call super easy.

Peated Whisky is not a mindless knit as you may have guessed. But it isn’t as complicated as it might look. The primary reasons why I took far too long knitting it were a lack of solid knitting time in my February and spending two days laid up with the flu and unable to knit. (Yes, I didn’t knit a single stitch for two whole days. I know; it boggles the mind.)

I love cabled sweaters. I feel like that ought to be pretty evident by now. This sweater is covered in cables. It’s also warm and snuggly. It was about 40 degrees Fahrenheit when we took these pictures, and I was quite warm. I’ve been envisioning it as something of what I call a “sweatshirt sweater,” something that I can snuggle up in on chilly days and feel deliciously cozy.

I highly recommend Peated Whisky. It’s a delightful pattern. It was fun to knit, and it’s delightful to wear. I have a feeling that it’s going to get a good deal of use over the next few weeks as winter fades out. I also love YOTH Father. It’s a wonderful yarn, and I know that I’m going to use it again-hopefully soon.

Raveled here.

If you’re interested, the dress that I’m wearing is Coco by Tilly and the Buttons. I utterly adore this sewing pattern, and the dress that I’m wearing is my third (and not final) Coco.

Post Little Women Thoughts

When I heard that Greta Gerwig was making an adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, I expected people to start asking me for my thoughts on it. So I decided to re-read the novel before seeing the film so that I would be best prepared to criticize the movie.

I ended up seeing the movie twice. I enjoyed the movie. I was predisposed to like some of the characters. (I love Meg. I’ve always loved Meg, and I love the way that Emma Watson played her. I really wish that she had gotten more screen time) I felt that it was a fairly accurate representation of the book. (They even included some of the New England Protestant moralizing that I abhor about the book! I’ll give them points for that.) The setting/scenery were solid.

But I had some issues with movie. My companion for my second viewing of the film (a friend who is an excellent writer but also has a certain way of conveying words when speaking) defined it as “interesting,” in a tone that conveyed so much more than that one word seems to express. I so wish that I could convey that “interesting” to you. I’m going to just list them off in bullet points, and then at the end I intend to list off a few things that I did like about the movie.

  • Chris Cooper is too young to be Timothee Chalamet’s grandfather.
  • He’s also too old to have been friends with Laura Dern’s father. That whole thing BUGGED me.
  • Aunt March is the widow of Mr. March’s uncle, NOT his rich spinster sister.
  • The Marches are temperance people. They only use alcohol medicinally. In fact, it’s a significant point that there was NO alcohol at Meg’s wedding.
  • Aunt March didn’t pay for Meg’s wedding.
  • I did NOT like using the same actresses for Amy and Beth when they’re children as when they’re adults. I think that I kind of get the idea behind it, but Florence Pugh playing a nine-year-old and sitting in class with a bunch of age-appropriate actresses felt weird. Yeah, they did things with hairstyles and skirt lengths, but it rang a bit false to me. Eliza Scanlen never stopped being a child to me, and Pugh never could be a child for me. (Also her voice might have had something to do with that. Pugh’s voice is a bit lower than a soprano and definitely lower than a child’s voice.)
  • Amy was whipped for the limes, not the drawing-although she did get in trouble for the drawing. And she went to her sister at Aunt March’s not to the Laurences’.
  • Professor Bhaer really ought to be old enough to have had some experience as a university professor. Also, he should have been played by Oscar Isaac because that’s what I wanted. Also, he should have sounded German because that’s an important part of his character.
  • And while we’re talking about Professor B, when am I going to get a Little Women movie that includes Franz and Emil? I love Franz and Emil. Love.
  • Mrs. March makes a comment that she’s never been proud of her country, which feels very 2020 and very NOT 1860s. There were other lines and aesthetics (hairstyles and fashion choices) that felt a bit too modern.
  • Beth and Meg, the “domestic sisters,” get less screen-time/narrative focus than Jo and Amy, the “creative sisters.” This bothered me because Little Women is a story about sisterhood, and I think that there is a great deal of power in Meg’s and Beth’s narratives

Things that I did like:

  • I actually really enjoyed Amy’s “marriage is an economic proposition” speech. It’s not text from the book but it’s the spirit of the book as I read it. Also, it’s NOT wrong. Marriage for a woman like Amy was absolutely an economic proposition.
  • I loved that Meg’s green silk dress and the ensuing drama made it in the film.
  • I loved the Laura Dern/Saoirse Ronan mother-daughter dynamic. More of that, please Hollywood!
  • Jo’s “I want to be loved…I’m lonely” speech was brilliant. I know so many people (including myself) who have felt that feel. Her concern wasn’t so much about loving others but in her loneliness she JUST wanted to be wanted and loved.
  • Meg telling Jo that she is marrying John Brooke because she wants to! I loved this. I loved the power of this moment in which she acknowledged that she chose marriage and a family over other possibilities. She is choosing to love a poor man. Her eyes are open. The life isn’t always easy, and she does struggle with it at times. But she chose this life willingly.
  • I like Bob Odenkirk. He seems like cool people.
  • James Norton was there, and that made me happy. He was a good if underused John Brooke. He and Emma Watson also had good, solid chemistry.

Overall, it was an interesting film. It’s not my favorite movie ever. It isn’t my favorite Little Women adaptation, but it was enjoyable. I definitely don’t regret seeing it.

FO: My Merriment

This all began five years ago when Melynda Bernardi made a Christmas stocking and sweater for her younger daughter. I saw them on Instagram (and maybe her blog?) and LOVED them. A year or two later, Melynda made an adult version of the sweater for herself, and I wanted one. I really wanted one of my own.

I tried not to be a pest about it, but I did let her know that I wanted that pattern. I wanted to be able to make that sweater for myself. Finally this fall, she wrote the pattern, and I got to have the pleasure and privilege of testing it for her.

I’m completely thrilled with My Merriment. Completely. The pattern is well-written and easy to follow. And the resulting sweater is utterly delightful. It’s beautiful.

The pattern is knit in the round and then steeked. (Steeking: That thing where you cut your knitting open and then sew it down so as to pick up stitches for a buttonband. Cutting your knitting, you know, that totally normal thing that people do.) I’d never steeked anything before. Now, conventional wisdom says that you should either get a sweater from a local thrift shop or knit up a steeking practice cup cozy before you cut a sweater for the first time. But you know…sometimes I like to live on the edge. So I didn’t do that. I just went for it. And fortunately, it worked out!

Overall, it’s a great pattern. The colorwork is easy to follow and looks amazing. I love the way that Arbor knits up, and I’m definitely going to use it for colorwork again. I’ll even steek again! If you’re looking for a straight-forward fun colorwork sweater, I highly recommend My Merriment. I love it. (And I might knit it up again as a pullover with a different color palette sometime…

Pattern here.

Raveled here.

FO: A Few Stripes, All Parade

A few weeks ago, I was talking to one of my favorite crafters (pictured below) while knitting this sweater. She started to ask me what pattern I was working on before looking at it and quickly recognizing Stripe Parade. This is my fourth visit to Stripe Parade and decidedly not my last, so it’s not surprising that someone who knows me well would recognize the pattern. I do love this pattern.

Now we need to talk about this sweater. The particular garment has a personality. I started it in mid-July but didn’t finish it until the end of December. It didn’t truly take me more than five months to knit it up. This sweater was set aside MANY times to allow me to focus on a piece with more of a deadline. Also, a sweater dress in fingering yarn takes a while to knit.

But there’s another problem with this sweater itself. (Not me, not the pattern; the sweater itself.) This sweater needed the proper motivation to be finished. It refused to be finished unless it was presented with proper motivation.

What does a sweater consider proper motivation? Well, different sweaters like different things. Some sweaters like books. Some like trips. Some like to watch plays. My recently finished My Merriment liked John Krasinski. This sweater? It liked Chris Evans and Sam Heughan. It insisted upon being taken to see Knives Out three times, and it really likes Knives Out. (Chris Evans in a sweater is apparently this sweater’s jam.) One evening last week, the sweater and I needed some new knitting TV. We didn’t have enough time to watch a full film (sorry, Mr. Evans) and we’d already finished the newest season of The Crown on Netflix. The sweater and I decided to watch an episode of Outlander. It turns out that not only does this sweater like Chris Evans in a sweater but it also likes Sam Heughan in a kilt.

Mercifully, finding things that the sweater liked to watch seemed to get the sweater finished. And I finished it before the end of the year, which I really wanted. It meant that I exceeded my 2019 Finished Object goal on Ravelry by one project. It also meant that I got to wear it to my friends’ annual feast held in honor of the birthday of the great J.R.R. Tolkien, and I really wanted to do that. (It also meant that we took finished object photos at my friends’ charming house, and I was able to wear the dress with the Tolkien jewelry that I purchased from the Bodelian in Oxford.)

I knit the dress using Plucky Feet from the Plucky Knitter. It’s a yarn that I’ve used before, and I really like both for socks and other garments. It holds its shape well and doesn’t pill easily. It’s warm but not too warm. Overall, it’s a great yarn for this project. I used the colors Pure Michigan and Twill. I love Pure Michigan for some reasons that are probably quite obvious (I’m quite fond of my home state) and because I do love a beautiful blue with notes of grey.

I modified the pattern slightly to create a higher neckline, and there are notes on that in my Ravelry project page. I also lengthened the pattern (obviously?) to create a dress. Overall, I’m really pleased with this sweater and I can’t wait to wear it often this winter and spring.

Raveled here.

FO: Pamplemousse

I feel like we’re pretty clear on the fact that I love cables, Thea Colman patterns, squishy yarn, and cocktails. I don’t need to explain that anymore, right?

So, when Thea gave me the opportunity to test her new Pamplemousse pattern, I jumped on it. It was partially an effort to try YOTH’s Father yarn, but it was also because I love me a good warm squishy cable…and this sweater also has a squishy cowl. The color I chose is Rutabaga, which is a stunning purple that I can’t say enough good things about. I loved working with Father, and I’ll definitely use it again.

This pattern doesn’t disappoint. The pattern as written is fairly loose-fitting, but my sweater is a bit more fitted due to some gauge issues. (YOTH Father is a wonderful yarn, but it doesn’t block out as much as the Taiga that Thea used does.) The pattern is easy to follow, and it’s a fun knit. The sweater is cropped, so I styled it by layering it over a tank top with leggings but I can also see myself wearing it over a dress or with high-waisted jeans.

I really love this sweater. I’m looking forward to wearing it this winter.

Raveled here.

Bonus pictures of cats approving of Pamplemousse:

FO: Greyhound Shawl

In early May, Thea Colman announced a Knit Along (KAL) for her Greyhound Shawl in her Ravelry group. The shawl is quite pretty, and I thought that it might be fun to join in. The pattern is written for sport weight yarn, but it’s been knit up using fingering weight plenty of times. And I have more single skeins in fingering weight than I really know what to do with. So I grabbed two skeins of Hedgehog Fibres sock yarn and set to work.

The two colors that I chose contrast well together, but they’re an interesting mix. Harajuku is a gorgeous bright pink. Boombox is a loud variegated skein. I chose to do the lace in Boombox, but I won’t try to tell you that I wasn’t nervous about knitting lace in such a busy colorway.

But the funny thing is that it worked. Somehow the lace pattern and the busy variegation worked well together. I love the way that it looks. It’s perfect shawl to brighten up a simple outfit…hence the fact that I’m wearing it with a black dress in the pictures here. I can also see it going well with a pair of jeans and a plain top. The other day, Joy said that it reminded her of ice cream, and the more that I look at it, the more that I see the bubblegum ice cream that I loved to order when I was in elementary school. (My elementary school self loved nothing more than going to The Parlor and getting a small bowl of bubblegum ice cream.)

The pattern itself is easy to follow. The garter sections are intuitive from the get-go. The lace takes a bit of time to master but once you’ve got it, it’s like potato chips; you just can’t stop. It’s a fairly easy, almost mindless, knit, and the end result is delightful.

Raveled here.

FYI: The indoor pictures were taken at Blom Meadworks in Ann Arbor, MI. The outdoor pictures were taken by the east wall of Literati Bookstore. The words on the wall are taken the public typewriter in the basement at Literati.

FO: Oban Cardigan

To begin, we’re going to review a few points. I really like cabled knits. I love Thea Colman’s designs. I love a good sturdy cabled cardigan. My Oban Pullover might be my favorite sweater ever. (Do I need another one? I’m thinking yes. Watch this space…) I love Brooklyn Tweed Shelter; I think it’s divine.

At some point after she published the Oban pullover pattern, Thea started making noises about not being done with the world of Oban. (There’s a hat too. I need to knit me one or two of those.) She specifically was making noises about a cardigan. The idea of an Oban cardigan really spoke to my heart, and I knew that I needed one in much the same way that a duck needs water. Naturally I began to pester her for this pattern to become reality, and she kindly assured me that she’d contact me when it was ready for testing.

Well, on March 2, Thea made me happier than anything in this world could other than Chris Evans showing up on my doorstep with peonies…and sent me the pattern for testing. Naturally, I (like the totally normal and rational person that I am) immediately drove to Spun and bought a whole bunch of BT Shelter in this beautiful ice blue called “Iceberg.” The Good People of Spun wound it for me while I sat on their couch and knit a sock…and chatted with other customers about the beauty of a good handknit sock. Once they were done, I went home and immediately started the sweater.

So what can I tell you about this sweater that’s supposedly better than Chris Evans with peonies? Well, it’s a v-neck cardigan with cables and pockets. Guys, it has pockets. Like real, usable pockets. It also has a shawl collar, which is darling.

It’s an easy knit. The cable pattern is easy to memorize, and the directions are, as always, really straightforward. The technique for knitting the pockets was new to me, but the directions were clear AND this would work as a swatch as well. You knit the sweater flat, then seam the shoulders, and then pick up stitches first for the sleeves, which are knit in the round, and then for the collar and buttonband. The directions for doing this are quite clear. They require focus, but they are easy to follow.

I love this sweater. It’s warm and cozy. It also dresses up well with a dress but could easily be dressed down with a pair of jeans. I’m looking forward to getting it out of my closet next fall and enjoying it. It really is better than Chris Evans with peonies…not that I’d say no to Chris Evans with peonies…but this sweater is better. (Also, this sweater could easily be adapted into a man’s cardigan if you wanted to make one for Chris Evans, that stupid bearded sweater wearing dork.)

Raveled here.

(Many, many thanks to my friend Laura who photographed my Oban for me at the Matthei Botanical Gardens back on Cinco de Mayo!)