Test knit // Navigate pullover

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I was asked to test knit a men’s sweater by my friend, Eric Lutz, host of the Sticks + Twine podcast and Publisher for Rib Magazine back in March. I said yes, flattered by the fact that I had only been knitting for 3 years and recently finished my first adult sweater, Boxy.

Then he showed me this photo:

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Jaw drop.

I felt excited and intimidated at the same time. Look at those gorgeous cables! I thought to myself, “Can I do this? I’d hate to disappoint!”

I have worked on several cabled projects prior, like this hat, this other hat, and these beautiful socks. I also have this shawl that’s been on the needles for forever. I had frogged it countless times due to error after error on my part, and sadly it is now languishing in a corner waiting patiently for me to pick it up once again.  

Self-doubt consumed me as I waited to receive the pattern. As Jameson Frank quotes, “Our greatest battles are those with our own minds”.

I was nervous. But, I welcomed the challenge. This was a great opportunity to expand my skill and finally be able to make a sweater that my husband has been asking for from day 1. I just kept reminding myself, “You can do this!”

I received the pattern from Devon, editor of Rib on March 21st. I had a month to complete it.  

It was time to pick the yarn! I have always wanted to work with Brooklyn Tweed’s Loft, so off we went, my husband, Radley and I, on their website and perused possibilities. I can’t tell you how much joy it brought me, seeing him get excited about yarn. He is, however, one of those people who will only wear black or gray and as much as I would have liked to knit him a black sweater – I reminded him of how hard it will be to read my knitting at night. He chose the colorway Soot which is a handsome gray. Perfect!

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Can you see how giddy I was?

With confidence, I cast on for the sweater, keeping my insecurities in check. As with any test knitting, you’re bound to have questions and concerns. I worked directly with Jennie Johnson for this test knit. I’m a huge fan of hers and really tried my best to keep our communication professional even though I got goosebumps every time I received correspondence from her 🙂 I have pages and pages of tips and tricks from watching the podcast Handmade and Woolen which she co-hosted with her husband, Devon. (Note: sadly they decided to stop podcasting but are still actively sharing their work on Instagram. You can find them as @tinypaperfoxes and @brineandheath, respectively.)

Back to the sweater. I was a little embarrassed by asking questions – thinking I should already know certain things but Jennie kindly assured me there is nothing to be embarrassed about adding, “The purpose of the test knitting process is to identify incorrect or potentially confusing information in the pattern”. Phew!

I am happy to report I did not have any breakage whatsoever with Loft for the times I did have to rip back during the test knit. In fact, the stitches were just hangin’ out, waiting to be picked up every single time. I also spit spliced every time I joined a new ball of yarn. This was really important to me when choosing yarn for this sweater because you know how I feel about weaving in ends, right? 

The sweater knit up quite fast. I loved seeing the cables emerge after every row, and I could not put it down. Of course, there was a ton of knitflixing involved for the duration of this test knit. If you’re curious, here is a list of shows and movies that kept me company:

Bates Motel
Grace and Frankie
Split
Lights Out  
The Taking
The Rezort
Estranged

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I knit the sleeves two at a time to ensure they turn out the same. I was able to bring it with me everywhere I went since this test knit happened during Easter. We have a large extended family who gets together every so often, and I planned my knitting so that I was able to continue working on it during the holidays.

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A family tradition – Easter egg hunting 🙂

Before I knew it, it was done and blocking! 

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And then…another first for me…. seaming! It took the whole day to seam the entire sweater. I used this tutorial from Amy Herzog to guide me.

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A shot of the final stitches. I used sock yarn to seam as advised. I used black Kroy socks by Patons and as you can see below, it’s invisible.

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The only thing left at this point was to pick up and knit the neckband. It only took a couple of hours. I actually finished the sweater the day it was due – around 6 pm!

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It was close, but I did it!!!  

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I did panic a little on the final week. I still had a lot to do – but this guy – my amazing husband – pretty much took care of everything else so I can focus on the sweater. He knew how important it was for me to finish on time, and I couldn’t have done it without his support.

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Totally knit worthy if you ask me!

And what was I so worried about? This sweater was such a fun knit! This was my very first men’s sweater and if I can do it, so can you!

I would like to give proper credit to the talented designer, Annie Lupton.  Click here learn more about her process in designing this beautiful sweater.

I would also like to thank Eric for your confidence in me, and to Jennie for your patience, and guidance. Finally, thank you, Devon and the rest of the Rib team for this wonderful opportunity 🙂

You can find the pattern for the Navigate pullover on the second issue of Rib Magazine.

“It’s not what you are that is holding you back. It’s what you think you are not. ”
-Anonymous

CozySquishyWool -V2

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Summer is finally here!!! How is yours going so far? We only get 2 months of this glorious weather here in Canada and that means busy, busy, busy for me and the kiddos.

I meant to release this second edition of the cozy squishy wool gift tag in June but it’s ok, better late than never right?

Keep a look out for the third version to be released late October/early November of this year 🙂

Please note: This is a subscriber exclusive freebie! If you are an existing email subscriber as of July 3, 2017, check your inbox for the link to download!

 

 

GIVEAWAY!

<< Update >> May 15, 2017. Giveaway is now closed. Thank you to everyone who participated! There were a total of 82 entries. I used random.org to draw a winner. Congratulations to Amy @dropastitch for winning this kit!

——————–

I’ve been thinking about this for some time now.

In the past year, I’ve been fortunate to have won a few prizes and with Mother’s day comin’ up, I thought now is the perfect time to pay it forward 🙂

I also wanted to support a friend of mine, Christina aka The Cozy Knitter, so I picked something from her shop to add as well.

Head over to Instagram for your chance to win the MOTHER’S DAY GIVEAWAY!

Giveaway_blogTHE PRIZES:

  • The project bag is made by yours truly. It measures approx 11.5″x9.5″x3.5″ and includes an outer zipper pocket for notions. (4.25″x7″)
  • The yarn, ‘Bunny Fufu” from the Cozy Knitter, is a self-striping sock yarn with matching mini skein for heels, cuffs, and toes. 80% superwash merino, 20%nylon, 413yards/115g

TO ENTER:

Complete steps 1 and 2 on Instagram – @pearadise_island

For step 3, scroll down to subscribe to my newsletter! ↓

Don’t forget about the Bonus entry 😉

Giveaway ends Sunday, May 14, 2017, at midnight, EST. Open worldwide.

GOOD LUCK!

MY SOCK RECIPE

I’m a toe up, magic loop kinda girl.

I like to knit my socks concurrently on 2 separate needles whenever possible.

I use 2.25mm/ US size 1 – 32” circular needles. My favorites are Addi Sock Rockets and Hiya Hiya Sharps.

Here’s my recipe:

  1. Cast on 8 stitches per needle using Judy’s magic cast on
  2. Increase at the 2nd stitch and 2nd to last stitch of each needle every other round until I have 30 stitches per needle. (I use KFB (knit front and back) to work my increases.)
  3. After I complete the first toe, I take another needle and cast on for the second.
  4. Once both toes are complete, I knit the foot up to the heel. I do the same for the second sock.

*I convert cuff down patterns to toe up by reversing the order of the foot & leg pattern starting from the last row working my way backwards. For example, if it is a 4 row repeat, instead of starting with row 1, I’ll start with row 4, then 3, and so on.

  1. Knit the heel one at a time, using Fish Lips Kiss Heel
  2. When both heels are complete, I knit the leg. I prefer them to be as long as the foot (or at least 6″) because I find it cozy like that.
  3. Knit the cuff, working 20 rounds of my version of 2×2 twisted rib which is cheating knit through the back loop but purl as normal.
  4. For the bind off, I use the simple stretchy bind off
  5. Block the socks using this and this
  6. Weave in the ends only if it’s a gift, haha, and no, my husband doesn’t count. He doesn’t mind that string hanging out inside his foot 😉

HOW I LEARNED TO KNIT SOCKS

When I first started knitting, like many, I used good ‘ol acrylic. It was socks that introduced me to all the beautiful indie dyed yarns, which opened up the world of knitting for me. I felt this is a good place to start my story. How I learned to knit socks.

Disclaimer: This is a long one. I’ve included links that helped me through this process along with a list of patterns used. I do hope you’ll find it useful if you are a beginner sock knitter or thinking of casting on your first pair, or even if you’re simply curious to know how I got this party started. 

I was making scarves for my husband and eldest son at the time. Knitting podcasts kept me company and almost every. single. one of them were making socks. I remember thinking – WHY? I don’t see the point. How can one even knit with such fine yarn and tiny, tiny needles? Not to mention how expensive yarn is only to put on your feet???

Fast forward 2 years later, and I am now a self professed SOCK ADDICT.

Boxosocks
I ALWAYS have a pair on the needles (sometimes two or three – don’t judge!) and carry it everywhere I go.

When I got the hang of it, I told my family they were all getting socks for Christmas.

2016 was the year of socks.

This is how it began…

I’m a self taught knitter. I watched many tutorials online, specifically Staci Perry of Very Pink long before my husband surprised me with a knitting kit for Christmas. I also have my cousin to thank for showing me how to do the knit and purl stitches the next day.

Ok, back to the scarves and podcasts. After seeing many beautiful hand knit socks, curiosity got the better of me. I thought, can I do this? It looks daunting. I browsed Ravelry for the “perfect beginner’s sock pattern” but was quickly overwhelmed. Nothing screamed, “Knit me! I’m the one you should try”.  So, I went on You tube, looked up sock tutorials and came across Staci’s video: Knit toe-up socks using german short rows. It’s made with DK/sport weight yarn, size US 3 needles, and the best part? NO WRAPS AND TURNS! (I’m allergic to them, btw, I always substitute it with German short rows (GSR).

There are many different ways to knit a sock. You can use magic loop, double pointed needles (DPN’s),   2 circular needles at once, or 9” circular needle. My preference is magic loop. I tried DPN’s but found it too fiddly. There is something about the motions in magic loop that captivated me. I love getting to the end of a row and adjusting the needles back to starting position. It’s an art!

I practiced magic loop, picked up some acrylic from Michaels and got to work. The pattern was well written and the video links were a tremendous help. It literally held my hand through the entire process. The result? Success on my first try! 5Apologies for the blurry pic – it was taken last year before I knew I was going to be blogging about it. 

I was eager to use fingering weight yarn, but didn’t care for a provisional cast on. I heard a lot about Judy’s magic cast on and Fish Lips Kiss Heel so I gave it a try. I bought Patons Kroy Socks in the colorway Blue striped ragg and size US 1 needles. I didn’t know at the time this particular yarn is a bit heavier than fingering weight and I didn’t like the fabric I was getting. I ended up frogging it and tried again with size US 1.5 needles. Much better! (See #14 below.)

In total, I knit 14 pairs of socks less than a year later. 

No’s 1-8 were gifts:

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Here are the patterns I used:

No 9 – Tulsi socks by Verena Cohrs

No 1 & 10 – Blueberry waffles socks by Sandy Turner (free pattern)

No 11 – Hermione’s everyday socks by Erica Lueder (free pattern, my favorite!!!!)

No 12 – Express Lane socks by Diane Mulholland (free pattern – lace)

No 13 – Mrs Weasley’s Family socks by Molly of A Homespun House

These are all great beginner patterns. I found using this helped me stay on track.

Now, to answer my question – why hand knit a sock?

  1. It’s FUN. Knitting socks allows me to play with self striping, and speckled yarns since I prefer to knit everything else in tonals or single colors. It is such a treat to knit a sock in a colorway I love or watch the stripes appear as I knit.
  2. SHOPPING SMALL. Supporting small businesses is important to me! Most indie dyers and designers are stay at home mamas –  just like me, doing what they love to support their family. I’m all about that.
  3. It’s PRACTICAL. You always need socks.   

I hope I’ve inspired you to cast on your first sock! Let me know in the comments if you found this helpful at all. If you’re already a sock knitter, how did you learn?

On my next post, I’ll share my sock recipe. Until then, happy making!