Knitting on the Plane to Panama

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Since I posted about Maggie’s sweater, shown above being worn (yay!), I have knit things. Many small things. Some pairs of things. Things to add to the pile of knits that keep us warm.

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(Rikke for Maggie)

Lately the knitting happens between other things; I have a job now, and ferrying children home from school takes a big chunk of the day. If I could knit while driving, man wouldn’t that be great?

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(Rikke for Jerry)


I knit in small chunks, enjoying it when I can. I now understand the question “how do you find the time to knit?” because some weeks I don’t.

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(Kinetic for Mom)

Here and there I pick up a project, finishing things some weeks, ignoring them others. But the knitting bag kindly waits for me, waits for those days when I have the time and energy to knit for a bit.

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(Girdwood for Maggie)

This post is a snapshot of my knitting progress, evidence that yes, I am a knitter. Knitting isn’t as central to my life as it once was, but I am so grateful to have all the yarn around. It keeps us warm.

This post is also to tell you about something I’m doing this Spring. My sister Holly is hosting a wellness retreat in Panama at the end of May. I’ll be attending (with knitting, naturally) and I’m so excited to participate in the retreat. In Holly’s own words, there will be “yoga, fitness, goal-setting, yummy food, adventure, relaxation” all at one of Panama’s most famous beaches. This is a new venture for my sister, and I hope you’ll have a look at her website to learn more about the trip. The “early bird” rate is available through the end of February.

Visit AlaskaHealthStyle for more details. If you have questions, leave a comment or email me and I’ll get you in touch with Holly. Thank you for looking!


I knit a sweater

Time passes, children grow, seasons change. It was time for Maggie to get a new sweater.

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I purchased some beautiful heathery purple Ella Rae Classic yarn during Webs’ summer yarn sale. It was $4 per ball or thereabouts and I used about 2.5 balls for this sweater. All the colors in the yoke, various worsted weight wools, came from stash. At $12 a very economical sweater, indeed.

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The pattern is Elizabeth Zimmerman’s yoke sweater, found in various books and pamphlets. Some time ago I bought the version known as Spun Out #4 – Child’s Fair Isle Yoke Sweater, a single sheet of legal-size paper covered front and back with EZ’s typewritten and hand-drawn pattern.  You can still buy it, as part of the Spun Out Collection, from Schoolhouse Press. I have knit the pattern before, when I used the charts provided. This time I charted my own design.

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I labored away on the sleeves and body for a few weeks. When I hit the yoke it was a race to the finish just to see what it would look like. I am very pleased with the final design, which differs slightly from the original chart because it was muuuuch too long and had to be unknit and altered for a quicker neckline.

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The thing about knitting an EZ sweater is the sudden urge to subsequently knit all the other EZ patterns ever. There is neither enough time nor wool for such endeavors. Just kidding, there’s totally enough wool.

At the moment, we’re experiencing Autumn in NC. There’s no promise for cool temps to continue, but I remain hopeful for a good, prolonged cold snap. Maggie, at least, will be ready.

the suspender sweater

new sweater

What you need to know about the pattern:

The pattern, Suspender Sweater, is from Knit One Knit All (scroll down), the posthumous garter stitch frenzy book by Elizabeth Zimmermann.  I started this sweater over a year ago. Maggie was smaller then, but there were just a few adjustments needed to make it work with her current size without starting from scratch.  The pattern is written as a regular pattern (with regular directions like, “cast on…sts”) but also has all the information necessary to adjust for any gauge and any size. I figured out my gauge using Nature Spun Sport on size US 4 and went from there.

I experienced a lot of trouble with various aspects of this project, none of which were anyone’s fault but my own, I assure you. First I had trouble picking up stitches. Then I misunderstood the meaning of the word “center”. Next I knit the first sleeve too narrow and didn’t admit this until the sleeve was almost fully knit. After that I knit the second sleeve too long, and really there is no excuse for that sort of thing when you have the first sleeve (complete with easy-to-count stripes!) to compare it to. Finally, I had to unsew one of the woven (garter stitch kitchener) side seams and re-do it because apparently the direction in which you do that trick matters.

But from the very beginning of this project I pictured the finished sweater and thank goodness because that is a lot of roadblocks to overcome. I knew this sweater was going to be The Cutest. And finally this morning I saw the results of all that knitting, unknitting, reknitting, ad nauseum. It’s exactly as cute as I hoped it would be.

What you need to know about the pictures:

Maggie likes the sweater much more than she likes modeling the sweater for pictures. I really wish you could have heard the monologue she performed during our 10 minute photo shoot. It was a lot of “Wouldn’t it be good if we went on the tire swing?” and “I’ll be right back, I need to get my bird!” and “Let’s go over here!” and “I’ll put on this bonnet!” until I was exasperated and had to remind her that I was in charge of the pictures and please do what I say!

Maggie did her own styling, including props.

I took a bunch of pictures and a lot of them are posted here. There are even more in the Suspender Sweater set on flickr.

First, a picture of the underarm; the sleeve (top) is a sewn seam and the side (bottom) is the woven garter stitch. Details. They matter.

new sweater

And now the model, my Maggie.

new sweater

new sweater

new sweater

new sweater

new sweater

new sweater

new sweater

new sweater

new sweater

new sweater

new sweater

new sweater

One last picture. When I was ripping out the first sleeve Maggie drew me a surprisingly accurate schematic in order to help me get it right the next time. I was sort of blown away.

Maggie's surprisingly accurate schematic of the sweater I knit her.

I got it right, Mag! Finally!