Pictures of an actual thing that I knitted

walpole cardigan belted

Oh hey look, I finished something! It’s literally just a sliver of a thing, and not even a standalone thing — just that aforementioned little belt for my Walpole — but it’s the first thing I’ve bound off in quite awhile. Normally, I remove these kind of belt-tie-thingies from cardigans because I think they make me look thick, but this cardigan needs some closure. What do you think — dowdy?

I hope everyone has a warm and wonderful weekend. I’ll be fixing the error in my Acer and marching onward! And/or maybe casting on something new. Of course, you know I’d love to hear about what you’re working on …


Purls vs. pixels

knitting belt for walpole

I’m pretty sure I knitted a grand total of 35 stitches this week — 5 thrilling rows of this 1×1 band of Kathmandu Chunky, which is meant to be a belt/tie for my Walpole cardigan. I’m juggling projects, as well as working on some new merch for Fringe Supply and sprucing up the blog design a bit — have you noticed? — which means I’ve spent late evenings with my laptop instead of my needles. But I’m determined to wall off a few hours this weekend for nothing but knitting. You?

By the way, I’ve recently fallen back in love with Instagram in a big way, and, have been seeking out inspiring makers and foodies and farmers to feed my psychovisual needs. Look me up if you’re there — I’m karentempler.


The elusive chunky Walpole, with glamour shots and mod details

walpole chunky knitted cardigan how to

Hard to believe I started this simple little cardigan all the way back in mid-August. Thanks to my impatience with knitting flat, as this one begins, it mostly sat patiently in the corner for months on end. That is, until I decided to knit the sleeves in order to feel like I was getting somewhere, after which it came together like lightning. Apart from that one little setback, of course. But I’m kicking myself for letting it sit so long — while I impetuously cast on (and frogged) how many other sweaters? — because it’s a real wardrobe workhorse.

As you know if you were subjected to the play-by-play, I loved this pattern — Walpole, by Hannah Fettig for Brooklyn Tweed — from the moment it hit the interwebs. It’s simple and timeless but with really nice details, like the twisted stitch at the edge of any field of stockinette, and the I-cord selvage (which I’ll be applying to everything from now on). But it’s designed for fingering weight yarn, and that was just never going to happen. Then I ran into this fabulous, chunky, light-charcoal tweed at Stitches Midwest, decided instantly that I’d rework Walpole at a chunky gauge, and with a little help from Barry Klein, I cast on a few hours later. I’d never heard of the yarn before, but it’s a merino/cashmere/silk blend, wonderfully light and soft after blocking, and I like that the tweed bits are both black and blue, which makes it super versatile. This cardigan basically goes over of everything in my closet. (Which, you may have noticed, mainly consists of chambray and denim shirts in every proportion. But still!) And it only took about 700 yards of yarn. For anyone interested in the modifications I made, they follow this glamour shot —

walpole chunky knitted cardigan front


— Yarn is Queensland Kathmandu Chunky in Charcoal; used exactly 5 balls (710 yards).

— Knit on US10.5 (6.5mm) needles at a gauge of 3.5 stitches and 5 rows per inch in stockinette.

— Aiming for roughly the second size in the pattern, I cast on 142 stitches (36|70|36). I left the twisted rib sections at 2×2 but reduced the number of stitches in the stockinette band along the front to 5 stitches (plus the 3 edge stitches).

— I shortened the length — the better to work as a layering piece and to keep it from being engulfing at this weight. So I made the body 12.5 inches long before joining the sleeves. With my final yoke depth and after blocking, it wound up a little longer than I intended, but I’m still happy with it.

— I did three rounds of waist decreases but sort of wish I hadn’t done any.

— I also changed the shape of the sleeve. I cast on 32 stitches, knit in pattern for 3 inches, then on the next round did a kfb in every fourth stitch (40 sts). Did 4 additional pairs of increases up the sleeve, for 48 stitches at the join. Set aside 4 for the underarms; should probably have been a few more. If I were doing this again, I might also cast on just 28 stitches.

— I knit straight for 1 inch after joining the body and sleeves, then began the yoke decreases. To get the counts the way I wanted when all the decreases were done, I decreased the fronts, sleeves and back at very slightly different rates. Did a total of 40 rows (8 inches, 20 decrease rows) in the decrease section of the yoke. (I’ll put a pic of my chart on Ravelry in case anyone finds it useful or wants to tell me what they would have done differently. Feedback welcome!)

— Because I left the back of the neck wider than the pattern (to accommodate my shoulders), I had to knit each neck extension to 7.5 inches (!) before joining at the back.

— I don’t have any idea how to mattress stitch a bound-off edge to a selvage, so I sort of whipstitched the collar and neck together. Which wound up creating a slight ridge that I’m telling myself mimics the row of twisted stitches it disappears into at each end of the seam.

For the record, I’m about 5’8″, size 6/8 with broad shoulders. Feel free to borrow my mods, but please buy the pattern so Hannah and Brooklyn Tweed get compensated for their beautiful work, and so you’ll have the benefit of all the lovely and refined details therein. And if you’re on Ravelry, I’ll be your best friend if you favorite this one.


p.s. HUGE THANKS to my friend Marion Brenner for snapping these photos of me in the Walpole. If you’re not familiar with Marion’s work or her famous garden, check it out in the February 2013 issue of Martha Stewart Living. (It starts on page 126.) I’ll have more to say about Marion — and her knitting — soon.

Triumph of the human spirit

walpole triage supplies

You guys, I think I did it. I’m categorizing myself as cautiously optimistic right now.

QA and troubleshooting (of very technical things) have been a huge part of my career. I’m a smart person. And this is yarn, not open-heart surgery. So I put on my big girl pants, went over to my friend Leigh’s studio, and worked through it. Leigh set out her Knitting Goddess, as she calls it — made and given to her by Piper Murakami — and fed me chocolate cupcakes. The only drink present was water. I knitted a small swatch with this I-cord treatment at each end, and I studied it — both on the needle and off — to see what the live stitches should look like. And then I took a deep breath and I ripped. Six rows.

At this point, it’s back on the needles, I’m breathing normally again, and I’ve knitted one right-side and one wrong-side row. Everything appears to be ok. I’m hoping that holds true as I forge ahead, and that it’s not a temporary illusion. But I felt compelled to post this addendum — the uplifting second act — as the final post of 2012.

Happy New Year! And thanks for all your support.


So close (and yet so far)

walpole chunky sweater

So hey, look at me, staying away from the laptop! I wish I could say it’s because I’ve been knitting until my fingers fell off, but that’s only a small part of the story. You see, my husband gave me the best gift I could have wanted: the gift of space. I’m setting up a new office for myself in a chunk of his painting studio, and let me tell you: That is a project. Over the past week, we’ve been deaccessioning, cleaning, reorganizing, building, assembling. And we’ve barely made a dent in it. Oy.

Meanwhile, yes, there has been knitting. But brace yourself, for this is a sad story. On Friday afternoon, knowing the next four days would be all manual studio labor, I decided to sit down on the couch with my Walpole and knit until I could knit no more. I really really wanted to have this done before the calendar flipped over to 2013 — perhaps even to wear it as I rang in the New Year. The night before, I had steamed the front panels, measured the relaxed fabric (good news: no need to rip out any of my work!), made a decision to change the proportion of the sweater (to a shorter length), and charted out my yoke decreases. All of which meant Friday afternoon began with the moment I’ve long been waiting for: joining the sleeves to the body. Those first few rounds after the union were a bit stressful (even more for the underarm stitches than for me) but I was soon sailing along.

By the end of the night, with just a handful of rows to go, I was able to pull the cardigan on for the first time. The armhole depth seems great. My decreases are working out beautifully. I could picture myself wearing it as the ball dropped. Yay me! Then I took it off, caressed it a little (have we talked about this yarn?) and my heart sank. Those last couple of rounds — it being quite late and there having been beer — I had somehow screwed up the I-cord selvage on one side. Those three brilliant, simple little stitches. Derailed in the most visible spot possible. I’ve tried everything I can think of to debug it, but to no avail. And I have no idea how to rip this out and get those three edge stitches and the working yarn oriented correctly. No. Earthly. Idea.

But wait — I wasn’t at all certain I’d be getting the yoke calculations correct; didn’t I leave myself a lifeline? Well, sure I did. You can see it in the wretched snapshot … all the way back at the union round. So I’m going to try ripping out just four rows and seeing if I can figure it out. But if anyone wants to place bets, the smart money is on my ripping all the way back to the lifeline. Sometime in 2013.


I hope everyone’s having a lovely and relaxing holiday season and planning a wild time tonight. I’ll be back tomorrow to kick off the knitalong!

Walpole forward and back

walpole chunky cardigan knitting in progress

Deciding what to do with the sleeves for this chunkified Walpole cardigan was not easy. I love the wide, unshaped sleeves of the original pattern. But I also know how many big, cozy, wonderful, shawl-collared sweaters I’ve given away over the years for the sole reason that the sleeves — while looking fabulous — were forever in the way. So I decided to do a very slightly shaped sleeve that cinches in at a longish cuff. And I’m really happy with the way it’s looking. What I’m less happy with, now that I’ve got it on waste yarn (er, baker’s twine) and can properly measure it, is the proportion of the sweater body. I did only minimal waist shaping but I’m wishing I’d done none. I’m not sure how much additional width I’ll gain when the twisted rib detail running up the front relaxes in blocking, but I think it’ll still be smaller than I want this sweater to be. So there’s a good chance I’m ripping it back to the first decrease.


Walpole chunky

walpole cardigan modified for chunky yarn

This time last Friday, at Stitches Midwest, I was in another Barry Klein class — this one about fit. During our lunch break, I happened to buy a bag (10 balls; half price!) of Kathmandu Chunky in a lush grey tweed. And it occurred to me that what I wanted was to convert that lovely Walpole cardigan pattern (by Hannah Fettig for Wool People 3, which I already had on my iPad) to work with this yarn — and that I had the perfect opportunity for Barry to check my math. So I quickly swatched it up on a couple of different needles, got my stitch and row gauge, and talked through the basics of the pattern with him as he mapped it out on his giant notepad.

Late that night I cast on and knit two rows. Saturday night I started over! (I’d overlooked one tiny detail in calculating my cast-on count.) And with this in my bag, Sunday was one of those rare travel days where I didn’t mind so much that it took me hours upon hours to get home.

walpole cardigan chunky modification math

So far, the pattern is pure pleasure, as is the yarn. I can hardly wait to spend some more time with it this weekend. As always, I’d love to hear what you’re all up to …