There’s always something surprising to me whenever I look back through what I’ve made in a given year. This year it’s the fact that I made things! For some reason, I don’t feel like I did, and it may be because this is the first year I knitted more for others than for myself. I also sewed more than I knitted (more on that tomorrow), which is easy to do — especially when you’re as simple a sewer as me — but it turns out I did, in fact, knit this year. And I even crocheted.
And then there are the two slight disappointments. The cable hat for Bob is a thing of beauty but the yarn has no recovery whatsoever and so isn’t well suited to this particular task. He gave it back to me and I’ve been wearing it on the trail, and need to knit him another one in a more elastic yarn. Similarly, the summer hat I crocheted for myself has sort of … wilted. I need to try it again at the nice tight gauge the pattern calls for.
All in all, a pretty successful knitting year — especially given how much those girls loved their gifts.
Please note that each of these things is linked to the original blog post about it where you can find further photos, links and details on patterns, yarn, modifications and so on — please click through to find out more! And if I left anything out, feel free to ask.
I’m awed every single year when I scroll back through New Favorites to see how many fantastic patterns I’ve posted here, knowing they’re still only a fraction of everything that caught my eye and made me pause in admiration for a moment (or obsess for weeks or months). As is my annual custom, I’ve rounded up my very favorite favorites below — by which I simply mean the ones I personally have the strongest urge to cast on and wear. Each pattern listed includes a link to the post in which it originally appeared, if you want to see what I had to say about it at the time and more of what was featured alongside — or you can scroll through the entirety of New Favorites at any time or just the annual Favorite New Favorites roundups! So much beauty and talent to behold.
MY HIGHEST ESTEEM In any given year, my absolute favorite pattern is not necessarily the most creative or innovative, and I tend to skew more heavily toward wearability regardless, but in my humble opinion the best pattern of 2019 is equal parts creative/innovative and wearable, above, and that’s Junko Okamoto’s Bouquet Sweater (from Junko’s abstract Bouquet). Her use of RS and WS floats in creating a variety of “bouquets” of flowers that are then asymmetrically scattered across the garment … it’s amazing in the concept and execution, and I have seen several really beautiful examples walking around in the world. I hope in 2020 I may have the courage to make it my colorwork project for the year. (Since I seem to pretty reliably do one per year.)
I’ll be honest and tell you I debated whether to post here about this precious little cardigan, but the point of this blog for me has always been a shared connection with you: fellow knitters of the world who’ve stumbled in here, being people who understand what a mysteriously powerful thing it is to knit, and especially to knit for others. We often describe it as a hug, but what this tiny sweater has really driven home for me is that to knit is to form bonds — some of them beyond description.
This sweater is for my great-niece, Matilda, who lived only a few days. Before she was born, I had envisioned a future hand-me-down. I wanted to knit a Gramps cardigan (because the only thing better than a shawl-collar cardigan is a miniature shawl-collar cardigan) and had picked out this sweet, soft green yarn for it.* As with E’s sweater, I would have made it 6-12 mos size so she’d have time to grow into and out of it before it hopefully got passed on to another baby. When she died, I still very much wanted to knit it and didn’t entirely understand why, but thankfully her mother still wanted it and so I got to have this unexpectedly profound experience. Time spent knitting it these past couple of weeks has been time bonding with her in a way I couldn’t have imagined. I didn’t get to meet her, and she became so real to me as this sweater took shape. And once it became a keepsake, the shape of it changed — I wanted it to be very specific to her. Newborn sized and a pure expression of love.
It’s a gift I hope will convey feelings I don’t have any other way to express.
I’m making this post a Q for You because what I would love in response to this is for you to tell me about the strongest bonds you’ve formed through knitting — with a family member, friend or stranger; someone you’ve knitted for or with, or who has knitted for you? If you’re willing to share, I’d love to hear it.
*The yarn is Bummull in “grass green,” which is a misnomer — it’s more of a dusty mint color, so pretty — and I’ve knitted the smallest size of Gramps on US5 needles with this yarn to get it to be newborn sized. (It’s less than one ball.) I added the garter ridges above the ribbing and did a garter-stitch button band minus the shawl collar, but otherwise it’s true to the pattern.
I took a break from my delightful green cardigan WIP to work on the baby sweaters — one of which I finished and the other of which is nigh — so it’s only grown about 5 inches since last you saw it. It would be farther along, but I took it on an 8-hour road trip on Thanksgiving completely forgetting that the WIP in my bag had no yarn attached and no spare skeins along for the ride. Having since wound more yarn and placed it in the bag where it belongs, I’m hoping to race through this gem between now and year’s end!
But as that year-end approaches, I took stock of what else was on the WIP shelf. The first is the unspecified cowl-dickie object I had started last winter before diverting some of the Luft yarn into the garter kerchief that is now never separated from my neck. Seriously, I love that thing more than life itself. So the question remains what to do with this dickie that wasn’t quite doing it for me.
Meanwhile, I also discovered the Carbeth Cardigan I had abandoned back in the spring when it wasn’t going to be done in time to wear. I was shocked to find it was as far along as it is — and also that I had picked up the button-band stitches while clearly having not blocked the body. That’s unheard of for me, so I’m not sure how that happened. But I am coming to terms with the fact that this rediscovered WIP leaves me cold, as it were. I should be thrilled to find a nearly done black cardigan, since that is what I wish for every single morning. But nope. It’s a classic case of “if I can stand to not be knitting it, it must not be right.” And between these two things, I’ve realized that I’ve always known what my heart wants in both cases, which is a cardigan in the black Luft yarn. So I’m just going to sit with that thought while I concentrate on the green cardigan. If I’m diligent enough, I’ll be wearing it by New Year’s Eve.
Although it’s on my list, I have yet to see “Knives Out,” but as you may have heard there’s A Sweater — and the internet has gone mad for it. I don’t just mean the knitters. If you google “knives out sweater” you will see a remarkable number of search results for a big-screen sweater. And given how many inquiries I’ve gotten about fisherman sweaters generally since the Rambler satchel listing went up, it seemed like a good time to address this perennially pressing topic. (You know I am always happy to talk about fisherman sweaters!) Actually, based on the trailer, it appears there are a whole lot of cable sweaters in that movie, but let’s talk about this ivory fisherman on actor Chris Evans, above. With apologies to Jamie Lee Curtis.
To knit an equivalent, your best bet is probably Alice Starmore’s famous Na Craga* — just give it a ribbed crewneck to hew closer to the movie sweater, instead of the decorative funnel neck. And for yarn I’m going to suggest Scout in natural from my friends at Kelbourne Woolens because it’s the classic wool yarn I’m most eager to knit with right now! You could also try the free pattern from Drops called 59-6, same neckband note. And a great raglan alternative would be Strandhus by Veta Romanenkova, which includes both men’s and women’s options.
For those wondering about my fisherman sweater in the Rambler photo(s) (and the Porter before it), it’s a 10-year-old LL Bean. My all-time favorite fisherman sweater pattern is the vintage Bernat 536-145, which I knitted a couple years ago. It’s out of print but the 1967 booklet it’s in, The Bernat Book of Irish Knits, is not hard to come by if you search the Internet, and is a treasure trove of patterns. But even closer to the LL Bean one is the free Honeycomb Aran pattern by Patons.
Whatever you do, if you should knit yourself a glorious, richly cabled sweater, I hope that you will love it and wear it to tatters, and that every hard-earned worn spot will speak to that love and respect and longevity. As opposed to the fake wear-and-tear imposed on the movie sweater by costume designer Jenny Eagan (who can’t even remember who made it?!), who did it to convey that the spoiled-brat character, Ransom, “didn’t take care of it … the holes and the tatter gave him a touch of that disrespect. It was a disrespect to the family, a disrespect to the name, a disrespect to his clothes.” I don’t think the knitters in the audience will read it as anything other than that Ransom loved his sweater as much as the Internet does.
When Iasked you all for baby sweater pattern suggestions back in October, reader Dianne inadvertently reminded me that I’ve had Petite Knit’s Anker’s Cardigan on my own wishlist for ages and that there’s a baby version, Anker’s Jacket. My niece had asked for a baby sweater in the same goldenrod Germantown yarn as the mini Sólbein — of which I had plenty left over! — and Anker’s seemed like the absolute perfect use for it, as the two little cardigans would have some design resonance. Perfect tiny sister sweaters.
But really, I couldn’t have imagined how darling this would be. And again, it took barely more than a skein of yarn! (Which means I still have enough for 2.5 more, lol.) Rather than worrying about pattern gauge, I went with the gauge I had gotten on the sister sweater — 4.75 sts and 6.5 rows per inch on US8 needles — and knitted the 3-6 month size, knowing it would come out more like 6-9 months. I never buy newborn sized clothing as they tend to outgrow it way too quickly, and definitely didn’t want to knit anything that would last so briefly. It came out at about a 21.5″ chest circumference so she’ll have some room to grown into it. I just hope she doesn’t grow into and out of it in the middle of Texas summer next year!
Apart from gauge, I made very few departures from the pattern. I knitted the sleeves flat and did only one set of sleeve decreases along the way, with the rest on the first row of cuff ribbing, so the sleeves are a bit more balloon shaped. And I did garter-stitch bands (on US6) instead of ribbing because I’m still really into garter-stitch bands.
I bought the little felted animals in India, and while I thought I had once put together the cutest baby gift I ever would, this one made my heart impossibly melty. I hope Baby E and her mom both know how much I love them.