Tag Team Sweater Project: The results are in!

Tag Team Sweater Project: The results are in!

Anna and I really did finish knitting our Tag Team Sweater Project sweaters — what seems like ages ago — but it took us until we were together in Indianapolis to finally take some finished photos. So a project that started in such a frenzy has come to a rather languid conclusion.

Once again, we found ourselves posing for photos at the end of two very long and tiring days, not exactly looking our freshest. But Bristol Ivy generously and patiently manned the iPhone for us and snapped these photos as we goofed around awkwardly outside the state capitol building (I think?) before collapsing into some chairs in the Hyatt lounge for the evening. Thanks again, Bristol!

Tag Team Sweater Project: The results are in!

I know everyone has been wondering since we first announced this project whether Anna was getting the short end of the stick. As you’ll recall, the arrangement was that I would knit all four sleeves; Anna would knit the two bodies; and then we’d swap parts, join our respective sleeves to bodies, and knit our own yokes. (Through no one’s fault but my own, I wound up knitting five and a half sleeves but let’s just pretend that didn’t happen.) Out of my own curiosity, though, I gathered a little data along the way:

Anna’s Lila was knitted in Swans Island Pure Blends, a worsted-spun alpaca blend (71 yards/oz), while my Trillium is in Brooklyn Tweed Shelter, a loftier woolen-spun wool (79 yards/oz). So even though her sweater is smaller than mine (a smaller size and a more abbreviated shape, plus a looser gauge), the two sweaters wound up being almost identical in finished weight: Lila is 13.6 oz and Trillium is 13.7 oz. I find that poetic. Lila’s sleeves weighed 4.75 oz, so I knitted 338 yards or 34% of Anna’s sweater. Trillium’s body weighed 5.85 oz, so she knitted 462 yards or 43% of mine. So yes, in that sense, she got the short end of the stick.

That said, the idea was never to knit equivalent parts of each other’s sweaters — it was to save each other from bogging down in the parts we each find tedious. And we succeeded! But the thing is, had I followed my own best practices and studied the schematic before we began, I most likely would have decided to make this sweater a couple of inches shorter than it is, which would have meant less knitting for Anna — to the point that it might have been a fairly even trade after all. <insert pained-face emoji> Sorry, Anna!

All that really matters (hopefully!) is this: We had fun; we cemented a beautiful friendship; and we ended up with two great sweaters. Win/win!


For the complete backstory, see my collected Tag Team posts, Anna’s blog, and/or the #tagteamsweaterproject hashtag in Instagram. Thanks for all the cheering as we knitted our way through!

Tag Team Sweater status: Worried

Tag Team Sweater Project : Sleeve-O-Meter

One drawback of the whole Stitches adventure is that I’ve had zero time to knit. The nice thing about a knitting convention is that all the vendors are knitting in their booths all day, in between sales. They’re pretty amazing — they have their yarn in a bag around their wrist or tucked into their apron pocket, and their hands are going a mile a minute, even when they’re standing, talking to customers, walking around. Even if I were capable of getting into a knitting-standing-up groove (I’m a devout cross-legged knitter) there was no time. I knitted two rows of one of Anna’s sleeves on Friday and had to rip them out late Friday night. Then I knitted those same two rows — and maybe one or two more — on Sunday. And that’s it!

You’ll recall that when we launched into this whole Tag Team Sweater Project, I had no concerns whatsoever about my ability to finish the four sleeves by the appointed date. And when I made the decision to do Stitches (on exceptionally short notice) in the middle of it all, I thought if I finished all four cuffs before the show started, I’d be able to sail through a lot of the stockinette while manning the booth. As you can see from the Sleeve-o-meter, none of that happened.

The exchange date was originally set for this Friday (!!) but, for better or worse, I’m not the only one behind schedule. Anna was still trying to get me my body by then, but I won’t have any sleeves to attach it to anyway. So we’ve decided to ship on Friday (god willing) for Monday arrival. Which gives us Friday through Monday to try to get our own parts in order. VK Live is now only 18 days away. Does anyone believe we have a shot at this? We’re not giving up yet!

By the way, Anna is doing a site migration and can’t blog till it’s done, so make sure you’re following @toltyarnandwool (and @karentempler) on Instagram for #tagteamsweaterproject updates.


p.s. If you were looking for Bento Bags over the weekend, I had reduced the online inventory in an effort not to double-sell anything during the show. You’ll find more bentos available today.

A tale of two sleeves

Tag Team Sweater Project progress report

There’s good news and bad news about this Tag Team Sweater Project. The good news: I get to knit with an amazing yarn I’ve never knitted with before. It’s Swans Island Pure Blends, undyed merino and alpaca, and it is heaven. It’s knitting up into a sleeve so luscious I can’t stop pausing to pet it and slip my forearm in there. The bad news: I don’t get to keep it! Anyway, here’s where things stand on my end:


You guys know I like to let the sleeve be my swatch, so I cast on the prescribed number of stitches on US6 and knitted the first cuff. My garter gauge for this puts the cuff at 8″ circumference instead of 8.75″, but Anna and I agreed that’s a good thing — especially with garter’s tendency to splay. So then I forged ahead into the stockinette on US7. Two inches in, it was abundantly clear I’m a tighter knitter than Anna and Carrie Bostick Hoge, whose pattern Lila is. The pattern gauge is 19 stitches per 4 inches. I was getting 21. Anna is getting 19 on 7s, and I’m now knitting loosely on 8s to match it. Interestingly, I thought the fabric was a little loose at 21 sts, but seems perfect at 19. Go figure.

So now I’m obsessing a little bit over sleeve length. The hardest part of a bottom-up sweater is getting the sleeves the exact right length. It’s always a bit of target practice: You’re knitting up to the underarm, but you don’t know exactly where that underarm will be. You’ve got a pattern schematic with a yoke depth measurement, but that depends on your row gauge matching the pattern’s row gauge. Thankfully, Anna and I are both matching row gauge here. So last night while she was trying to write her blog post and put her kids to bed, I was pestering her to measure a sweater she likes the fit of. (I wish you all could see this string of texts.) It had an armhole depth of 7 inches and a sleeve length of 18 inches. Since her row gauge matches Carrie’s, we can have faith that her yoke will match the pattern’s armhole depth of 7.25, which means I’ll knit her sleeves to 17.75. And hopefully that will hit the mark. I really don’t want to be responsible for her having a sweater with sleeves that are the wrong length!


Pattern gauge for Trillium is 20 stitches per 4 inches. Anna swatched and got 19 stitches on 7s and 21 stitches on 6s. My gauge for Acer using Shelter and 7s was 21 stitches, and I’m pretty reliable about that — see above, for instance — so we decided to knit this sweater at 21 stitches instead of 20. (For both sweaters, we’ll be knitting on different size needles to get the same gauge as each other.) The size we’re knitting is about 4 inches of positive ease on me, so there’s some wiggle room. And there’s always blocking.

I cast on my first sleeve as well, to make sure all is well at the outset as she’s starting on my body. And all is not well. This is the first time I’ve ever had the benefit of having tried on the sample garment before knitting from a pattern. Apart from the sleeve length (my arms are really long) I loved the way it fit. So I went into this thinking it would be a no-brainer — just knit the sample size and stick to the pattern. But the surprisingly big cast-on count got me scrutinizing the schematic after all. Turns out the cast-on count makes sense with the schematic: The pattern is for a 10.5″ cuff. But that’s not the sweater I tried on. My wristbone is 6.25 inches. You can see in this photo (and another taken that day) that no way is the cuff 40% bigger than my wrist. What gives?

There’s no problem adjusting the cast-on count for the cuff dimension I like, but it’s unsettling. If the sleeve cuff on the sample doesn’t match the pattern, does the rest of it? We shall see.

Meanwhile, there’s another matter on which Anna and I agree: This twisted broken rib is the slowest thing on earth! Dear Anna, let’s only knit 3 inches of it instead of 4 — deal?


Introducing the Tag Team Sweater Project

Introducing the Tag Team Sweater Project

That night in San Diego, after the trade show, when I was hobnobbing with the yarnerati while wearing my one-armed Acer, there was a moment when Anna Dianich confessed that her problem with sweaters is she hates to knit the sleeves. We all have things we get bogged down in. For me it’s long rows of back-and-forth knitting, as in, for instance, a sweater body! So I yelled across the circle to her that we should knit sweaters together — she could knit the bodies and I’d knit the sleeves and we’d both get our sweaters done a lot more quickly. When she made a joke about it in a comment the other day, I decided it’s more than a funny moment in a bar — it would be really, really fun to actually try it. If we both chose bottom-up sweaters, I could knit four sleeves, she could knit two bodies to the underarms, and we’d each be responsible for our own yokes. So while she suffered through the flu last week, she also put up with me haranguing her about the idea. Yesterday she said yes, and thus the Tag Team Sweater Project was born.

Our strategy is very loose. Today I’ve sent her a box of Brooklyn Tweed Shelter (in Thistle!) for my chosen pattern, Michele Wang’s Trillium. (You saw that coming, right?) She has sent me a box of Swans Island Pure Blends for hers: Carrie Bostick Hoge’s Lila. We’re both buying both patterns. I need to have all four sleeves done and hers sent to her by the 28th; she’ll send me my body by the same date. Then we’re to have finished sweaters for wearing and photographing when we meet up at Vogue Knitting Live in Seattle* on March 14th. Yikes!!

I don’t know how this will unfold, but it could be harrowing! Apart from questions like Will they be able to match each other’s gauge, this is a pretty short timeline, even for tag-teaming. I’m not worried about Anna’s sweater — she’s chosen wisely. With that wide neck and stockinette, she’s home free by the time the sleeves and body are joined. The fun part of hers is that short-row hemline. For me, there’s a lot of knitting left to be done at the point of the join: the whole circular yoke with short rows and bobbles, plus button bands and neck. Will my sweater have buttons by the time we meet up? Will it even have bands? Or will it be another episode like this.** You’ll have to watch to find out!

We’ll both be blogging about the project and posting regular updates on our Instagram feeds — so make sure you’re following Anna’s Tolt blog as well as @karentempler and @toltyarnandwool on Instagram.

Do you think we can do it?


*I’m going! Will you be there?

**One-armed Acer documentary photo by Anna Dianich, taken in the darkest lounge of all time. That’s me with Courtney Kelley of Kelbourne/Fibre Company. If you look closely at our right hands, you can tell we’re just about to give the camera the bird. Fun times!