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!

A very twisted selvage

A very twisted selvage

Last night, I went to Claddagh Yarns for a talk by Narangkar Glover (maker of the Knitters Graph Paper Journal) about color theory and knitting. Without giving it a moment’s thought, I wore dark jeans, black oxfords and a black-and-ivory striped tee. But I at least I was knitting with purple yarn!

You may be wondering what’s become of my Tag Team Sweater Project sweater since Seattle, and though it looks barely changed, there’s been a fair amount of knitting. On the way home from Seattle, I picked up stitches for the buttonhole band. (The pattern gives actual stitch counts between buttonholes, and I approve of the placement, so I wasn’t worried about calculating spacing.) Picking up 3 stitches for every 4 rows, as indicated, I wound up with about 56% of the prescribed number of stitches. Like: whoa, major discrepancy. Although I couldn’t explain it (we stuck to the pattern length, and our row gauge might be different but not that different), it was clear that if my stitch count was so far off from the pattern’s, I wouldn’t be able to use its stitch counts for the buttonholes, so I had to abort that mission. Back home, over the course of a few different sittings, I redid the pick-up several times. I knitted one whole band to completion to prove to myself that it was way too short. Ripped it out and picked up higher and higher ratios of stitches before realizing the problem was exactly what I had expected on day one: the selvage stitches.

Trillium has a selvage treatment called Wrapped Chain Selvage (which is called Twisted Stitch Selvage in Slade). Anna and I debated whether or not to do it — I feared it would eventually complicate my life, but she wanted to try it, and you know I do like to try new things so I was persuaded. Then I sort of forgot it was there. With normal stockinette, there’s the usual running thread between every edge stitch and the one next to it, and you pick up stitches in the gaps between those threads. With WCS/TSS, each gap is two rows tall, with the corresponding running threads being twisted around each other, tight enough that you might not notice it’s out of the ordinary. So instead of picking up stitches in each gap, you pick up one in a gap, then plunge the tip of your needle between those two twisted strands and pick up a stitch from there. Oy. At least I finally figured it out, and the bands were short work after that.

So all I have left now is the sleeves, which I’m downsizing from the pattern. Think I can get through them in a weekend?


IN DRAMATIC WEBSHOP NEWS, the hotly anticipated Cable Fashion Drama is back in stock! This slender-but-jam-packed Japanese pattern book generated a waiting list as long as my arm — I’ve never seen anything like it. But the waiting list people have all been alerted to its presence, so it’s time for you to have a crack at the stack. You can order your copy right here.

Also freshly restocked: Japanese thread snips and row counters, Bento Bags in large natural linen, and two other waiting list items: the Indian rosewood crochet hook in size H and the bone DPNs in smaller sizes, US2 and US3. And might I suggest a tasty treat to go with?


Happy weekend, y’all. What are you doing while I knit my sleeves?

Sleeveless in Seattle

Tag Team Sweater Project update

If you were tooling past the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue WA on Saturday evening, on whatever highway that is, you may have seen some strange women jumping up and down on the 4th-floor terrace — in the rain. That would have been Anna and me. As I mentioned, Kathy Cadigan did us the great honor of shooting these photos of us in our Tag Team Sweater Project sweaters. The sweaters themselves left a little bit to be desired. As you can see, my Trillium is currently a cap-sleeved number with no button bands or neck edging, while Anna’s Lila is a sultry, off-the-shoulder sort of thing. Very Flashdance. Still, we were wearing them, so they are technically sweaters. And although we didn’t finish them in time for the shoot, we had a ton of fun.

Tag Team Sweater Project update

But let’s talk about this yoke for a minute. The true brilliance of the whole project became clear the moment I was knitting a yoke without having had to knit the whole big rectangle that precedes it. And I’m sort of glad I botched that first sleeve and skipped ahead, because this method of working the yoke upwards from provisionally cast-on sleeve stitches is brilliant. Apart from that little trick, the only modification I made to the yoke was with regard to the number of nupps involved. The pattern calls for basically a solid stream of them in the center of the chevrons. I decided to cut that in half and knitted only the ones at the peaks and valleys, omitting the ones in between. I’m in love with the circular yoke approach — in love with how well this fits my shoulders! — but am a little puzzled by the multiple sets of short rows worked in stages up the back, rather than just at the neckline. All that extra fabric is giving the sweater a little bit of a hunchback, but I’m trusting that it will work out in the blocking.

Tag Team Sweater Project update

We had joked at the beginning of all this about whether we’d be great friends or arch enemies in the end. It’s not the end, of course, but it’s definitely been a great bonding experience between knitters. If we’ve learned a lesson, it’s that tag-team knitting is a fantastic idea, just as long as you don’t saddle it with an unrealistic deadline.

For the rest, stay tuned here and to @karentempler and @toltyarnandwool. And there are more photos and thoughts on Anna’s blog today as well.

Tag Team Sweater Project update

p.s. There are a few more copies of the new Taproot in the shop — the one with the gorgeous Carrie Bostick Hoge shawl pattern. And you’ll also find a handful of XL bentos in red ticking. Assuming you act fast.

p.p.s. Those poor old ballet flats are officially OUT of the closet — so shabby!


All photos by Kathy Cadigan

Turning a sweater into an adventure

Tag Team Sweater Project update

To no one’s surprise, I’m not in the best shape on my Tag Team Sweater Project sweater. One week from today, I’ll be in Seattle, where I’m supposed to have a finished sweater. What I should have had by Monday, when my beautiful sweater body arrived from Anna (thank you, Anna!), was two sleeves to attach it to. Instead, I had one sleeve. One very wretched sleeve, plagued with ladders, which is a problem I’ve never struggled with before. (Except for that one time I attempted to knit a hat on four DPN’s, but that was sheer foolishness.) So instead of having one more sleeve to knit, I have two more sleeves to knit. And I also have a total loss of patience for knitting sleeves. The last thing I knitted before we started all this was Casey’s mitts, so I’ve been knitting nothing but stockinette tubes for as long as I can remember.

I can’t take it anymore!

I had originally envisioned being done with my four sleeves well before the appointed parts exchange date and had daydreamed about starting the yoke as a separate piece, with the completed sleeves and body grafted onto it later. So that idea was lingering in my mind, even as the sleeve due dates came and went. Since I can’t deal with the sleeves right now and am desperate to move on with the FUN PART — and after consulting Instagram and Michele Wang — I’ve decided to take the approach Felicia describes on her Craft Sessions blog. To wit: I separated the body into fronts and back and, as of last night, am working the phantom arms upwards from provisionally cast-on stitches. And just like that, this sweater went from feeling like a chore to an adventure! Wish me luck as I try to make great progress on it this weekend.


Speaking of Seattle next week, I don’t think I’ve officially announced this: I won’t just be at VK Live taking classes and making the rounds. Instead I’ve taken Brooke up on her offer to share her booth again, so the Cabinet of Curiosities is going to Seattle! What this means, most significantly, is lots of drive time to work on my sweater.

New at Fringe Supply Co

In shop news for the weekend, two new things have arrived: Taproot 9, which includes a Carrie Bostick Hoge shawl pattern, Lola, that made me gasp out loud, and … cookies! My favorite cookies (to put it mildly), which you can read all about on the cookie page. Also, great news, the wildly popular repair hooks are back in stock in all sizes, in both bone and ebony. So you can find all that and more at Fringe Supply Co.!

Have a great weekend, everyone! As always, I’d love to hear what you’re working on—

Updates & Elsewhere

Updates & Elsewhere: Yarny links for your clicking pleasure

You guys, I got sooooo much knitting done this week for the Tag Team Sweater Project. It was like old times. Unfortunately, I also ripped out a lot of it — specifically, 8.5 inches of Anna’s second sleeve. Late Tuesday night, I finished the second cuff, knitted to the first increase and put a pin in it. The next night, I had a marathon knitting session and worked those 8.5 inches, lining my increases up above that first one. Only at midnight, when admiring my output, did I notice that I had put the first one in the wrong place. With 99% of all sleeves, it wouldn’t matter — I’d just declare that my new center point and carry on accordingly. But since this cuff is garter-in-the-round, which leaves that pseudo-seam, they did need to line up in the exact right spot. So I ripped and re-knit. Before all that happened, I was on track to have the sleeves shipped out today on (re)schedule. But if I excuse myself from the studio for a couple hours this morning and knit my little heart out, I may still be able to send them out today. Cross your fingers for me! Or for us both — looks like Anna is cutting it just as close.


Do you all know about Among Friends? I was honored to have the High-fiber tote included in their Best of the Bay box, which just shipped out. These three ladies have been really great to me and they do such a thoughtful job with their club — you should take a look at their upcoming offerings.

Also: I loved seeing this turmeric-dyeing tutorial by Rebekka Seale on Wool and the Gang’s blog. And Jared Flood’s post about the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s “Knit, Purl, Sow” show. (Say that three times fast.) And I can’t wait to read this Julie Hoover interview at Caitlin Makes.


I asked the lovely maker of the amazing Bento Bags, if she could make an even bigger bento, and she happily obliged. So today in the shop you’ll find the all-new, first-ever XL Bento! Big enough to hold all the yarn and parts of a worsted-weight sweater. Or, y’know, a small child. It’s awesome! There aren’t very many in this first batch, so if they sell out before you get there, never fear — I’ll have more in a few weeks.

Also new today are some perfectly charming Bonsai-style scissors that nobody should be without.

And! At long last, I got a bunch of rice baskets in — both natural and patterned. Hie thee to Fringe Supply Co.


Have a great weekend, everyone — thanks for reading!

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?