Forest Sweater Test Knit

So let’s be clear about one thing. I am not the fastest knitter out there. I suffer from frequent bouts of startitis and I am easily distractable. I have two sweaters currently on the needles, one of which I started in the spring and one I started in the spring of …last year.

And yet, this sweater that I didn’t even think I’d be able to finish to the designer’s requested deadline – it just flew off the needles. Exactly one month after I cast on I was steam-blocking a finished object, and one month and one day after I cast on, I took my finished Forest Sweater out to to meet some evergreens.

Abbie stands in a field of Christmas trees, wearing her completed green and grey Forest sweater. She is facing the camera with her hands in her pockets.

I cannot begin to tell you how happy I am with this sweater. I tried a new-to-me yarn (Cascade Eco+ Hemp), a new-to-me pattern, my first colorwork sweater, and my first sweater test knit. I’ve done a lot of colorwork, but it’s all been for accessories; this was the first time I did a colorwork project of this size. And it all worked out perfectly.

The Forest Sweater is a published pattern but I was testing for the upcoming expanded size release. It is a seamed raglan pullover sweater, knit bottom-up. I opted for the 55″ size, which gave me a good 6-7 inches of positive ease. I also slightly modified the sweater as written, opting to lengthen the body by three inches to my preferred sweater length, and I also added to the arms a bit, but I could have gone probably five rounds shorter for the sleeves and still been happy with the length. This pattern also calls for casting on and working in the round, but I didn’t have a circular needle long enough, so I knit the ribbing flat on a pair of ancient aluminum Boye straight needles and then joined in the round once I switched up to the larger needle for the body. It was easy enough to sew that quick seam once the sweater was done.

Close-up of the evergreen colorwork.

I did encounter a few challenges, mostly with managing the colorwork. Once you divide for the front and back and begin the colorwork charts, you’re looking at some extremely long non-repeating chart lines. Any sensible knitter would have put some stitch markers in to help them keep track, but I am apparently not very sensible and just powered through. After the first two or three rows it gets much easier to reference the stitches you’ve already worked to make sure you’re counting correctly, but for the first row or two I had to tink back a few times on each side.

The sleeves were much easier to do colorwork on, as they are much smaller charts. I made another change here. Natalie’s original pattern has two separate sleeve designs, both with the evergreen motif, but one with a little tent on one sleeve. It’s adorable …but I’m not much of a camper. So (with her blessing) I did both sleeves with the trees-only chart.

Abbie stands in a field of Christmas trees, wearing her completed green and grey Forest sweater. She is facing away from the camera, showing the evergreen colorwork pattern on the back and sleeve of the sweater.

Seaming this turned out to be very pleasant, thanks to a virtual class I took last weekend during the 2020 NY Sheep & Wool festival: Crochet for Knitters with Pam Grushkin. My crochet skills are pretty haphazard, and I learned from Pam that I had been doing crochet seaming incorrectly (carrying the yarn over the seam). After reviewing with her, doing the seams on this sweater was a breeze.

Abbie’s Forest Sweater laid out on grass, covered with fallen autumn leaves.

And finally, the yarn. I knit this project with Cascade Eco+ Hemp, a yarn I haven’t used before. I picked it for several reasons: the put-up is very economical (328 yards), it included the green and soft grey I wanted for my project, I’ve been curious about trying a hemp blend yarn, and since it was in stock at WEBS that meant their discount kicked in. (I haven’t used or bought Cascade for quite a few years now, but as I now understand the previous owner whose homophobic statements led me to avoid their yarns is now no longer involved in the company I decided to try it.) I was really happy with the yarn! It knit up exactly to gauge, it’s a nice lofty worsted spun that makes a cozy light fabric, and once knit up it has a surprisingly silky hand. The hemp creates a lovely marled appearance. I would say I’d buy it again, but I actually already have – more on that in a moment.

Would I do anything differently? Absolutely. I would knit the sleeves a bit shorter, and I would knit the body in the round and steek for the sleeves. And I’m going to try those changes, because my dad (the Christmas tree farmer) has been watching me knit this for the last month and put in a request early on for his own Christmas tree sweater. So I ordered some more of the Eco+ Hemp yarn for his sweater – but with white instead of grey, at his request. Dad and I are pretty similarly sized so he tried mine on and it fit him pretty well, but he commented he’d like a little more space in the lower arm, so I may jump up to the next size for the arms.

I am looking forward to coming back to this in a month or two, once I’m done with Christmas knits for my niflings, and I think that more than anything else tells you what a delightful experience this was to knit, but just in case let’s reiterate how hard it was to put this down: I finished this in one month. Natalie’s pattern is clear and well laid out, and test knitting this was a joy. I highly recommend the pattern if you’re looking for some coziness this winter.

Forest Sweater: Etsy or Ravelry (please use caution when clicking through to Ravelry links)
Yarn: Cascade Eco + Hemp in 11 Jasper (green) and 2 Antique (gray), purchased from WEBS
Needles: US 3 straights and US 5 circulars for body; US 3 and US 5 DPNs and US 5 circs for sleeves

We Interrupt This Hiatus

to inform you all that i have not fallen off the face of the earth.

I have, however, been a little busy with this delightful new friend:


Meet my new nephew. This picture is nine months old, so I’m a little behind, but I can assure he’s an absolute delight.

379712_10152166999067518_1190775174_n (bonus Grammy photobombing here…)


I love him madly, and his personality is starting to peek through in between feedings! He loves the book my roommate bought for him (“Each Peach Pear Plum” by Janet and Allan Ahlberg, a wonderful little rhyming fairytale story) and we read it together every time I visit. Right now we are crawling everywhere like a speed demon and paying lots of attention to the construction happening next door.

So of course I am also knitting ALL THE THINGS for my little guy.

This wonderful blanket is the Baby Chalice Blanket [rav link], knit with a skein and a half of Madtosh tosh dk in Mineral. This is a superwash yarn, so it can be laundered as needed, but it’s incredibly soft to the touch and looks beautiful knit up. I used just shy of two skeins for this blanket, so about 400 yards, and it came out the perfect size to wrap up a newborn or tuck into a stroller. If you’re looking for something a step up from acrylic to knit for a little one, I highly recommend Madtosh! According to my sister the blanket has held up very well.




For Christmas I knit Nephew a Baby Sophisticate [rav link] in some leftover Filatura Lanarota from last year’s Rhinebeck sweater. Buttons are from Knitpicks and came from my stash. He only got a few wears out of this but that’s ok, because look at how cute he is:


I will probably whip out another one of these for him this fall, appropriately sized and knit in superwash to counter that alarming tendency of babies to generate… messes. Of all sorts.

(that’s his Your Camera Is Highly Offensive To Me Face, btw. He wears it a lot with me.)


I also knit a shawl/blanket for Nephew’s christening.


I recreated this from an old family heirloom that’s unfortunately out of our hands now, but I think he likes his new one, don’t you? It deserves a post of its own, so once I get the pattern written up and tested you’ll see some more of this.

My next Big Idea is a cardigan with a hood and ears, so that Nephew can be Max for Halloween. I think there will be lots of literary/knitting crossovers in my future. I can’t wait.

Tour de Spectator

I spent my holiday visiting Melissa, who is doing the Tour de Fleece and spent every night spinning while I indoctrinated her in the wonder that is Orphan Black. I do not own a spinning wheel, and I’m not much of a spinner, so I’m calling myself a spectator:


(I did not spin that all at once. I am trying to spin more, because it’s nice to be able to make one’s own yarn, and also getting to spin with a Golding is an absolute treat, I must admit.

I did! however, complete the knitting on this lovely item:


This is the first of what will be many, many sweaters for Peanut, my future niece or nephew. I must pick out buttons and do the finishing and blocking, but I’m so excited by how it’s come out. I think I’ll start a Baby Surprise Jacket next…so many adorable things to make!

We interrupt this hiatus…

So it’s been a while.

I might have fallen a little behind on the knitblogging. Like, a year and a half behind. I’m not even going to try to catch up. I have declared knitblogging amnesty, because life is insanely busy and there’s no way I could even try. But I have just moved into a wonderful new apartment (in Queens, a nice easy subway commute to my job that gives me a good chunk of knitting time during my morning ride) – with a new roommate, who is unimpressed with me and my handknits.

You want me to model what?

This is Hattie, and she has exactly zero interest in being a knitwear model. Anything that distracts me from scratching behind her ears is a Problem. (Hattie belongs to one of my roommates. Or as Hattie might put it, my roommate belongs to her.)

But look! I have finished socks!


These are entirely made up as I went along, which is why one sock is about 5 stitches bigger than the other and therefore the pooling is…well, I have no idea how to explain this pooling. I did a 2×2 rib on the cuffs and then knit the feet in stockinette. It worked out well enough, I think, for not quite remembering how many decreases I did in the gussets.


The yarn is Frolicking Feet sock yarn from Done Roving Fibers in “Copper Pennies,” and there’s just enough left to make a pair of baby booties. There will be lots of baby booties in my future as I’m going to become an aunt in the fall (!!!!!) so I need to get cracking.

I promise you will get to see all the adorable things. Really.

Shower the people

I have something very exciting to report. (At last!) I have finished a secret project!

Some of you may remember from last summer when I got my supplies:

Mystery Projects

Let me back up a little. My sister Becky is getting married this year. (I’m still kind of in shock that we’re old enough to be getting married, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.) So in between the dress shopping and planning and excitement I realized, I have to knit something! Well, not that I have to, but more like, if there is ever a time to create a beautiful handknit that could turn into a heirloom, weddings and births are really those times. So. I picked out a pattern (the Mitered Cross Blanket [Rav link] by Kay Gardiner) and started, slowly. The great thing about this pattern is that it’s done in blocks, so it’s portable and you can do it in bits and pieces. I was able to do a square or two and then stop to make myself a new scarf, do a square, knit a friend mittens for Christmas, do a square….

Afghan squares

Until I had a pile of squares waiting to be seamed together.


This really is a delightfully clever pattern, and it was so much fun to watch it come together, like this:


The pattern originally calls for Noro Silk Garden, but as Becky and her fiance will be sharing this blanket with the Lucypuppy I figured something washable was a better bet. So I picked out a neutral color for the background (to match Lucy’s coat) in Lion Brand Wool Ease in Natural Heather, and then found five colorways of Lion Brand Amazing (Arcadia, Constellation, Mesa, Rainforest, and Roses) to use for the mitered crosses. Everything was knit on US7s, and the only notions I needed were some stitch markers and a darning needle for weaving in ends. Once everything was seamed up I went ahead and gave it a wash, hung it to dry for a day and then gave it a quick spin in the dryer on low just to get the last of the moisture out and puff everything up a bit, just in time for Becky’s bridal shower. I am very, very happy at how it came out, and I think Becky is too:

Becky and her afghan

I love this picture a lot, and not just for the blanket.

(Oh hey, now it’s time to get a move on the other secret project for the other sister. Oh boy…)

Shawls for Smiles

So you might remember a few posts back I talked about spending the day with my friend Vhary. We went to St John the Divine and had lunch and went yarn shopping, and Vhary asked me if I would knit her something if she got herself some yarn.

Well, why not? Especially when Vhary has such good taste:


This is Malabrigo Sock in Indecita, which is really lovely. I understand now why it’s so popular. I took the yarn home with me and wound it, and picked out a pattern (Charlize by Vanessa Smith [rav link]) that seemed to meet Vhary’s requests: lots of lace, and long, almost more scarf than shawl.

I cast on on the train home from work a few days later:


and knit during commutes and on lunch break and at home:

Work in Progress

(that’s the tail end of a lunch break, with my tea and chocolate, mmm) and then Vhary emailed and said she was going to be in town for a few days last week and would I like to meet for dinner? So I quickly blocked the finished object, and wrapped it up carefully and brought it with me and gave it to her after we had a lovely tea at Alice’s.

Vhary did this:


and then she did this:

I think she likes it

and that is why I love her. Reactions like that mean I’ll knit for you any time, Vhary darling, just say the word.

So that was one of my mystery projects. I have two more that I am working on now, along with a Featherweight and socks that are kind of being ignored more often than not, and today I got more yarn for more mystery projects:

Mystery Projects

Let’s just say there are a lot of squares in my future. And thank goodness for Lion Brand’s wonderful discounts, because I walked out of there with a bag of 30 skeins(!). There is not enough time to knit all of my yarn, people. This knitting stuff is serious business.

Catching Up

I’ve been really busy.

I started a new job, which means a new commuting route:

Commuting Knitting

So there is more train knitting.

I bought some yarn too:

Little Red Bicycle Hipster Sock

Isn’t that luscious? I’m still trying to decide what I want to do with it.

And I made my sister a shawl for her birthday:

Pinkerton Shawl

This is the Pinkerton Shawl that was on the cover of the Spring Interweave Knits. I knit it in Dream in Color Smooshy in Chinatown Apple, stretched with a little bit of DiC Baby in the same colorway. (This shawl eats yarn for breakfast. Plan accordingly.) And then I took pictures of it at my parents’ cabin in upstate New York, where my whole clan had gathered for Easter.

Pinkerton Shawl

The cabin is tiny and up on top of a hill. It has electricity and really good 3G service, but no television. There’s a wonderful porch that catches the breeze and I have visions of summer weekends knitting and looking out over the hills.

Balmoral Streamlet

We’ve dubbed the cabin “Balmoral,” in honor of the royal vacation estate. I think it’s entirely fitting.

I do love knitting patterns.

It snowed a lot yesterday.

Snow piles across the street, 01-27-11

That is across the street from my house. Convenient street sign is provided for scale. We got about sixteen inches. On top of the foot or so that was lingering from the last three storms.

Despite my growing desire for a solid week of, say, fifty-degree weather, it’s really lovely right now. While I was outside shoveling, I looked up at a lucky moment and caught the sunlight glistening off the ice limning the tree branches, and it was so lovely I had to go fumbling for my phone to try to capture the moment:


This doesn’t even come close, but in order to witness it yourself you’d have had to help with the shoveling.

It’s a good thing I have a plan for how to fill all this snow-bound time.

January Socks

Pattern: Stockinette socks
Yarn: Opal Harry Potter sock yarn in Dumbledore
Needles: US 1/2.25 mm DPNs
Notes: This is the last of my hoarded Potter sock yarn, to go with my Hedwig socks and Ron socks. This time, we had Dumbledore’s colorway, which fittingly had lots of pinks and purples and blues, entirely in keeping with the headmaster’s personality and characterization. Of all the characters in the Potter books, Dumbledore is the one who most deserves both a colorway, and to have a pair of socks made for them, and I was quite glad to oblige. And I have enough yarn left that I could probably squeak out another pair, especially if I find some contrast yarn for heels and toes.

Socks and snow

(Will you look at all that snow? And there’s more on the way. Oi…)

So I have a plan here, and these socks are part of it. This plan consists of several points. They are as follows:

-I really enjoyed doing 12 socks in 12 months in 2009, and I’ve been knitting for long enough now that some of my earliest socks are beginning to wear out, so I need to knit more socks to ensure my delicate feet remain warm and cozy
-I love the idea of the Yarn Harlot’s self-imposed sock club, where you pick out 12 sock patterns and 12 skeins of yarn and set them aside and make one pair of socks every month
-LSG, my favorite hangout on Ravelry, is doing an 11 in 11 project, where you commit to knitting eleven items in 2011.

So I combined all those things, mixed them, and when I was done I had my own version of the self-imposed sock club, which conveniently also satisfies doing eleven items this year, with one to grow on. My plan is rather informal. I marked a bunch of the more complicated patterns in my Rav queue I’ve been wanting to get to, and over the course of the year I am going work on six of them, and the other six socks can be stockinette or ribbing to use up some of my more variegated and wild yarns. I can pick and choose whichever I want to work on each month depending on what else is on the needles at the moment.

All this is my long-winded way of saying I one sock down, eleven to go, and I have four days of figuring out if I want to do Bayerische Socks or Rivendell or Twisted or 14 Karat. Feel free to try to sway me to one or another. Extra points given for creativity in your responses.

Old Mr Kringle, he’s soon gonna jingle…

So I have had to prioritize a great deal this month. Basically? Christmas knitting won over everything else. (Well, that and baking. There was a lot of baking, too.)

I also purchased gifts, like this one:

Meeting Ina Garten

That would be Traveling Sock, waiting with me on line to get Ina Garten to autograph her new cookbook for my Mom. (It’s not a surprise, so I can talk about it; Mom knows it’s under the tree, I’m just making her wait until Saturday morning to open it.) I told Ina that my Mom and I love that she cooks like a regular Joe, measuring straight into the bowl with her carton of milk out on the counter, and she laughed and thanked me, and then Traveling Sock and I went on our way.

That was two weeks ago, and I have only just finished one sock, because there’s been so much else to get done. Here, I’ll brag a little, because I’m rather proud of these:

Becky's Mittens

These are part of my sister’s present, and they took forever, and there’s a story to them. Once she’s had a chance to open them I’ll tell you.

In the meantime… all the cookies have been baked. The lights are all aglow. Presents are (almost all) wrapped, and the tree is trimmed and waiting:


If you’re celebrating this weekend, I wish you a very Merry Christmas.


Look, internet! I have a new pattern to show you!

Espresso Shot Scarf

This scarf grew out of having a skein of J. Knits Supersock Me in last year’s exclusive Rhinebeck colorway and wanting to show it off. I was having visions of stacked eyelets, and then I had a wonderful, terrible idea: knit lengthwise. So I cast on for a nice long scarf, and started experimenting with garter eyelet ribs and by the time the skein was all knit up I had this:

Espresso Shot Scarf

And lo, it was very, very good, a long skinny scarf that I could wear during the warmer autumn days without overheating or could double over when it cools off:

Espresso Shot Scarf

But then I started getting feedback from my friends, who asked if I could come up with a shorter version. And some of my gentlemen friends commented that they’d consider a version that wasn’t in such…girly colors, as they put it. So I went stash diving, came up with a skein of Dream in Color Smooshy in November Muse, and turned it into this:

Espresso Shot Scarf

If you’d like proof that it looks good on the guys, I can provide it!

Espresso Shot Scarf

And so the Espresso Shot Scarf was born. (The name has nothing to do with a knit night, a table that caught on a rough tile floor, and an upended cafe mocha falling all over me and a scarf-in-progress. Just for your information.)

This scarf is quick and easy to knit, so it’s perfect if your knitting mojo needs a boost. Since it doesn’t need a chart, it’s perfect for traveling or knitting while you catch up on television or watch a holiday movie. And since it’s a speedy project and has two sizes (and is easily customizable!) it makes a perfect holiday gift. The skinny scarf is great for the fashionistas and scarf-accessorizers on your list, and the short version works for ladies or gentlemen, depending on the yarn you select. 420 yards of fingering weight yarn will get you a scarf, so you can use one of the special hand-dyed skeins in your stash, or maybe splurge on something special as a present for yourself.

Skills needed are knit and purl stitches and basic increases and decreases. You also will need a US 4 (3.5mm) 60-inch circular needle.

The Espresso Shot Scarf pattern is available for sale on Ravelry for 2.99. (Just click through that link.) Go ahead and kick start your holiday knitting!

(PS: Helping me model here are my sister Emily and her fiance Bobby. They are very kind to let me talk them into helping and I will be making them whatever magnificent handknits their little hearts desire.)