New Pattern Release: Elderberry Lace Cardigan

Introducing my latest pattern: the Elderberry Lace Cardigan! This lacy cardi is a simple and elegant layering piece, perfect for cheering up a cool fall day. Zig-zag eyelets rise in narrow columns over the skirt, body, and sleeves.  Think airy, feminine, and colorful. Here’s a photo of the sample sweater on my deck at home …

Elderberry Lace Cardi (Rachel Henry)

… and here’s a photo on the model for the UK magazine “KNIT” (issue #49)!

I’m especially proud to report that my cute spring cardi made the cover of the magazine:

PatternElderberry Lace Cardigan

DesignerRachel Henry

Available: on newsstands in KNIT #49 (pattern will also be available for individual download late in 2012)

Yarn: Sidar Simply Recycled DK

Design/Skills Needed:  The body is worked in a single piece to the armholes. The waist is nipped in by using a slipped-stitch pattern (rather than shaping), and is secured by a single large button. Set-in sleeves are worked from the top down from picked-up stitches; short-row shaping creates the sleeve caps. Hem, neck, and sleeves are finished with an easy ribbed eyelet worked as you go.  Finishing is limited to shoulder seams, sewing on a button, and weaving in loose ends.

I love the button I found for this cardi:

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Here’s my concept sketch, for the truly curious:

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FO Friday: Tappan Zee Pulled Taffy

I finished a sweater for me!  This is not something that happens every day.

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Project: Tappan Zee Pulled Taffy

Pattern: Tappan Zee Cardigan

Designer: Amy King

Available: FREE! on Knitty.com

Yarn: Decadent Fibers Pulled Taffy in Red Hot Pepper

I bought this yarn on spec back in June, at the 20th (and final) Granite State Knit-In.  I’m sorry to say that a LYS had brought all their merchandise and were selling it off at 2-for-1 because they were closing their doors.  I’m glad to say I found two skeins of this astonishing fiber, each normally $35.  I decided to take a leap of faith and buy both — almost-a-sweater for $35 was too good a deal to pass up.

2384 Decadent Fibers Pulled Taffy in Red Hot Pepper

Once I had it home, it proved to be a bit of a challenge.  First of all, though it claims to be DK, it really feels and knits up closer to worsted.  Also, it turns out that 980 yards is not quite enough to make most things, at least not in size large-enough-to-fit-me.  I finally settled on Tappan Zee — a pattern I queued in large part because I love the eponymous bridge!  I used to drive back and forth from DC to Boston fairly frequently, and every time I saw signs for Tappan Zee it made me happy.  Try saying it aloud — you’ll be happy too!

Swatching told me three things: first, I should expect worsted-ish gauge.  I decided to follow the pattern for a proportionately smaller size, which ended up working great.  Second, blocking the swatch told me that this yarn would bleed dye something awful.  This turned out to be a good thing, because the fully saturated color was a bit much — I prefer the toned-down color after blocking.  Third, the fabric is also appreciably softer after a good wash-and-block, which reassured me while I was knitting — the WIP sometimes felt a bit crunchy and oh-my-god bright red and orange.  Thank goodness for swatching to tell me the truth.

One thing I changed in the pattern was the armholes.  I really hate tight, binding armholes, so instead of casting off for the arms, then bridging the gap directly, I chose to cast on a handful of stitches under each arm.  I must have goofed the math a bit, because my sleeves ended up a little ruffled — too much fabric up there.  It bothered me at first, but my knit group claims they like it, so I’m slowly coming around.

I was about two dozen rows shy of the official “start the edging” point, when I noticed that the yarn ball hand dwindled to an ominously small size.  I got out my new and wonderful super-accurate digital scale and weighed the ball before and after the next two rows … and discovered I had barely enough to finish the edging, but only if I started it RIGHT THEN.  As it was, I had to rip out the swatch in order to bind off the last few inches.  I think the finished cardi is long enough — any longer would have been odd, actually, which implies I shouldn’t have been doing quite so many rows in the first place.

The luckiest part of this project was that I found the perfect buttons. They seem as if they were dyed-to-match — and they were cheap, and they were the first ones I saw at the shop, and they came in a set of three!

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New Pattern Release: Cadet Cropped Cardigan

Introducing my latest pattern: the Cadet Cropped Cardigan!

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This stylish little cardi is my first sweater design project, so I am especially pleased that it has been released into the world.  The pattern is available through your local yarn store as part of Plymouth Yarn’s new fall pattern line: ask for Pamphlet #2325.  Photo credit for the modeled shots in this post all go to Plymouth Yarns — thank you for letting me blog with these awesome pix!

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Pattern: Cadet Cropped Cardigan

Designer: Rachel Henry (that’s me!)

Available: in Pamphlet #2325 at your local yarn shop

Yarn: Plymouth Yarns Worsted Merino Superwash Solids

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Inspiration: This is one of the first projects I did after deciding to carry around a small sketchpad, everywhere.  I saw a commercial on TV for an adorable fabric jacket that I thought would translate well to knitwear, and starting drawing little ideas madly. That’s as far as it went, until one of the designers at Plymouth (for whom I had been doing a lot of sample knitting) asked if I had any designs that might suit their fall line.  I worked up a proposal and it was accepted — I was thrilled!

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Design/Skills Needed: This cardi is worked flat, in pieces.  The all-over diagonal lines are formed by knits and purls; the vertical lines on the front, center back, and sleeves are right twists and left twists. The sleeves begin wide deep turned-hem cuffs, and have set-in sleeve caps. The center plackets are worked from picked-up stitches and are also deep turned hems.  The cardi is finished with i-cord at the neck and bottom edge.  The button loops and faux epaulets are also made with i-cord, then sewn in place.  It’s worth noting that there is a lot of “finishing” work on this cardi — some of my test knitters found it a bit daunting to complete the basic pieces, and then still have so much work to do.

Speaking of test knitters … check out this AWESOME use of the Cadet Cropped Cardi as part of a steampunk costume!

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I would be delighted to answer any questions or help any knitters working on this project.

Ravelry Monday: Cascade Kid Seta Cardigan, Forgotten Garden Shawl, Ballycastle Tam

First Pick: Cascade Kid Seta Cardigan, by Marelie Hurter (FREE!)

Frothy, drapey, pretty … and very, very simple.  Made in laceweight yarn on big needles, the finished cardi should be lightweight and warmer than you’d expect … just the thing for spring.  What really sells me on it though is that it reminds me of Annie’s cardi (the ghost in “Being Human”).   This one made in into my queue! I think I’ll use something browny-grey?

Second Pick: Forgotten Garden Shawl, by Rose Beck ($5.00)

This elegant geometric shawl evokes formal gardens: box hedges and well-tended rosebushes in measured rows. I think I’d go with green or maybe shocking pink.

Third Pick: Ballycastle Tam, by Anne Podlesak ($5.50)

I love the subtle shading and simple pattern to show off the beauty of natural wool. Gorgeous.  I’d be tempted to use my usual palette of blue/green/purple, but I hope I’d have the strength to stick to the lovely colors provided by the sheep themselves.

Ravelry Monday: Cthulhu Scarf, Ziprelaxagon, and Jardin Cardi

First Pick: Cthulhu Scarf, by Merelen (FREE!)

What’s not to love about a Cthulhu scarf? This first-time designer has produced a clear, simple pattern that captures the horror that is the Great One’s tentacled madness. The scarf is mostly garter stitch, with Cthulhu’s face in washcloth-style knits and purls.

Second Pick: Ziprelaxagon, by Kirsten Hall ($6.50)

Seriously, how OMG cool is this pattern?  Perfect for all that gorgeous hand-painted sock yarn that tempts us sock knitters, then refuses to look pretty when we knit it up.  Entrelac meets short rows and beauty results. The designer re-assures us that despite the tiled effect, the foot and leg are knit in one piece — no interminable ends to weave in.  This one is definitely a challenge … but sometimes isn’t that just what you want?

Third Pick: Jardin Ruffled Cardi, by Nitza Coto ($6.50)

This is a sweet little cardi with pretty details. It reminds me a bit of Titania, which is one of my favorite sweaters.  I would knit it in some slinky cotton/silk/bamboo yarn and wear it all spring.

Ravelry Monday: Pareval, Anchor Bay Sunset, and Bella Rue

Happy Monday! Time to look back at the previous week’s recently added knitting patterns on Ravelry and pick a few favorites.

First pick: “Parseval” by Melissa Wehrle ($4.00)

This sweater is mostly-ribbed, with a bit of cabling towards the top with a big cowl neck.  This sweater made it into my (ever-growing) queue, because I think it has potential to look good on many body types.  The cabling will draw the eye upwards, and the ribbing will make the body and sleeves accommodating.  It’s worked mostly in the round — my favorite!  I don’t have a good, simple sweater right now … maybe I should start this one sooner rather than later?

Second Pick: “Anchor Bay Sunset” by Julia Duren (FREE!)

Simple, attractive, fingerless mitts — no fancy colorwork or cables, no girly lace.  Yet, with just a few purl rows in a contrasting color, these mitts look great!  Endless color possibilities — they could be a real stash-buster for sock yarn.  The pattern says they are designed to wear as-is, or over a wrist-brace for carpal tunnel or other RSI issues.

Third Pick: “Bella Rue” by Amanda Rios ($8.00)

Although I adore this sweater for many reasons — the top-down construction! the button detail on the sleeve! the awesome pleated panel on the back! — I have a sinking feeling that adorable as it is, it just wouldn’ t work with my body type. Alas!

Ravelry Monday: Toorie, Castle on a Cloud, and DROPS 130-12 Jacket

Happy Monday! Time to look back at the previous week’s recently added knitting patterns on Ravelry and pick a few favorites.

First pick: “Toorie” by Carina Spencer ($5.00)

I absolutely adore the unusual shape of this hat.  The gathers, the close-yet-casual shape, the nifty decreases opposite mimicking (but not repeating) the gathers — it all works.  For those averse to pompoms, perhaps a crocheted flower or big dramatic button could substitute. This pattern looks like it would work with hand-painted yarn quite prettily.

Second Pick: “Castle on a Cloud” by Katia Smits (€3.50 EUR)

I was lured in for a closer look by the allusion to “Les Miserables” — I mean, who doesn’t love Cosette? These fingerless mitts have something interesting going on every few rows — exactly my kind of pattern.

Third Pick: “130-12 Jacket” by DROPS Design (FREE!)

I had a hard time settling on a “free” pattern this week — but this little cardi is just fine.  Looks like it has some interesting construction, with right and left front panels curving to meet at the neck and lower back, with the upper back panel bridging the gap.  I’ve heard about DROPS patterns being terse — this one is no exception! Definitely no hand-holding here.