Starflower Sweater

Because you are great, I have a 30% discount on my new sweater pattern for you!

starflower-sweater-pattern-by-renee-callahanHello!

Spring is sprung, at least according to the flowering cherry trees around my way. There is light in the sky when I get up and I feel the promise of warmth in the (still rare) sunshine.

So I think to myself, what better time to release a pattern for a chunky sweater! haHA!

In my defense, I wear sweaters all year round and will wear this sweater well into the spring, trading my coat for the breathable warmth of the sweater when the spring really kicks in.

The Starflower Sweater is a modified raglan pullover knit in beautiful chunky wool for a cosy hug of a sweater. Designed to be a beginner-friendly knit, Starflower is worked from the top down, so you can try it on as you go to get a perfect fit.

Starflower knitting pattern by Renee Callahan

I used  Hill View Farm Yarns Pleasingly Plumb wool for the sweater and I love the squishiness of the Bluefaced Leicester fibre.

I was honoured to be the recipient of the very first batch of yarn from Hill View Farm. It is a lovely yarn and I know that Natasha, the owner, has some amazing plans for crafty retreats, workshops, and yarn-based goodness.

You can buy the Starflower pattern here, and if you sign up to the EastLondonKnit newsletter, you will get a code for a 30% discount on the pattern with your confirmation email.

Happy knitting,

Rx

p.s. I have some podcast (!) based plans in the works, and I would love to know if you listen to/watch podcasts. If so, what do you really like or dislike about them? More on this next week, but it would great to hear your opinions!

Happy New Year!

Hello!

Welcome to 2017! How’s it treating you so far? I am off to a flying start. I have made lists by the shed-load and the post-it notes have proliferated, but I am happy with that. This feeling is probably something to do with having had a good, lazy holiday break with lots of movie-watching and naps. I did have a tiny tantrum yesterday just before I accepted that Christmas was really over and Ben really was going to go back to work and I had to get up at 6am AGAIN!?>! but then I set the alarm and got on with it.

Which brings me to the first order of service for the new year: last year’s EastLondonKnit knit-along. It is officially over, but just in case you have knit an EastLondonKnit design and would like a chance to win one of the fabulous prize packages…



If you would like to win of these lovely packages, please post your finished EastLondonKnit project over on the thread in the ELK Ravelry group. I will choose 2 prize winners at the end of this week.

So, let’s talk about resolutions!

If you know me, you know that I love a New Year’s Resolution. Honestly, I am not restricted to New Years to make my resolutions–I make them regularly throughout the year with unnecessary zeal, but I have a real soft spot for the beginning of January. This year, in addition to the usual promises to self: more exercise, less sugar, no booze this January, I also wanted to add some different things: find somewhere to regularly volunteer, don’t be angry about the world, do things to make it better, and something completely unrelated: learn to play the guitar, because, well, why not?

I know that I should have started with the musical things a lifetime ago, but I’m one of those people who thinks it is never too late. If I start now, in 10 years I might be pretty good. If I don’t start now, in 10 years, I’ll just be 10 years older and still not playing any instruments.

And until I figure out where to volunteer (suggestions welcome!!), I am going to knit some hats and things for KnitAid. If you haven’t heard of KnitAid, please do have a look. They are making a big collection on 20th January if you would like to participate too!!

Do you make resolutions? If so, do you keep them?

Happy knitting!

Rx

 

Enso Progress

Hello!

What is more beautiful than a clear and crisp day of Autumnal sunshine? A day like today makes me wonder why I don’t own a single Aran or Guernsey sweater, as they have suddenly sprung up everywhere, like beautiful ecru wild flowers. So I am resisting the urge to cast on, even though I really, really want to. I think I have to finish at least 2 sweaters before I am allowed to cast on anything else. That is, certainly, the reasonable thing to do…

I started this Enso sweater at the beginning of September for the Zen Variations knit along, and I am onto the sleeves now. The end is in sight!

Here is the progress so far:

Tea time #ensosweater progress update: rib hem underway. 👍 #zenvariationsknitalong #eastlondonknit #sweaterknitting

A post shared by Renée EastLondonKnit (@eastlondonknit) on

Let there be knit!

A post shared by Renée EastLondonKnit (@eastlondonknit) on

I’m knitting the sleeves with the 2-at-a-time magic loop method, which is really my method of choice. I was convinced that I wanted to knit them with double-pointed needles, but when I tried it, I felt like a had no patience for constantly shifting the needles around. Maybe one of these days I will try Karen Templer’s method of knitting them flat, but for now, round and round I go!

How is your Slow Fashion October going? I am working on some more posts about it and really enjoying the conversation on Instagram and the Fringe Association blog. What do you think?

Happy knitting,

Rx

Zen Variations the Front

Hello!

Autumn is here!! Whoop!! Bring on the sweaters and cast on ALL THE THINGS!

This is my mantra and I am practicing what I preach by having 4 sweaters on the needles at the moment. My monogamous knitting is, apparently, a thing of the past.  I’m not sorry! It’s great to have the option of knitting on different projects and not worrying about running out of knitting, or sweaters for that matter. I’m probably not the only one who constantly thinks the next sweater is going to be the perfect sweater of dreams.

If your dream sweater is a top-down, seamless construction like those of the Zen Variations, then let’s talk construction! A post published few weeks ago, I discussed beginning a Zen sweater with the back. Today we are carrying on, working the fronts to the same point.

Zen Variations by Renée Callahan Left front

After knitting the back to the underarms, work the fronts individually:

7. Pick up stitches for the Left Front along the Left Shoulder.
8. Work straight for the length of the flat at the top of the sleeve head (see A below).
9. Begin Left Neck increases: this will be a different instruction for every sweater (+).
10. Work Left Front Underarm increases (+).
11. Put the Left Front sts on waste yarn and work the Right Front in the mirror image.

It should be starting to look like the top of a sweater now!

If you are interested in learning more about the process of knitting top-down seamless sweaters, please do join me you can join me at one of the Zen and the Art of Sweater construction classes coming up:

1 October (this Saturday) I will have the whole Zen Variations collection at Wild and Woolly for a trunk show and little party to celebrate sweater season!

6 October Zen and the Art of Sweater Construction at Wild and Woolly, London

8 October Zen and the Art of Sweater Construction at Ida’s House, Caterham.

16 October Zen and the Art of Sweater Construction at A Yarn Story, Bath

Also, I have just found out the Curious Handmade Country House retreat has a couple of places left. It promises to be a wonderful weekend–do join us if you can!

Happy knitting,

Rx

Colors of Fall 2015

Hello!

Aren’t make-alongs great? I am a big fan.

I joined the Yarniacs Colours of Fall knit-along to spur me on to make myself a Yama cardigan, and, well, it worked.

Although I don’t think you can tell from my face in the photo below, I am really pleased with my finished Yama! Admittedly, it is not the most adventurous of versions, but I wanted a wardrobe staple and I got one. It is perfect for wearing over dresses and with higher-waisted skirts.

yama-cardigan-by-renee-callahan

I’m not bragging (well, I am), but I not only managed to finish the cardigan, I also finished a long-languishing dress for a whole outfit.

handmade-wardrobe-wrap-dress

I am especially proud of this dress. Not because I designed it: I didn’t, it’s based on a favourite dress of mine from Old Town. And not because it is a perfect fit; it’s not (I refer you to the innovative ‘bust darts’). But because it is my first attempt at ‘clean work’, that is to say, a sewn garment with all of the fabric edges enclosed in the seams.

handmade-wardrobe-wrap-dress-3

This was relatively simple in the case of the side seams and the fact that it is a sleeveless dress was also helpful. That said, I nearly broke my brain trying to figure out how to make the belt hole placket ‘clean’ and I had to admit defeat when it came to the patch pocket.

handmade-wardrobe-wrap-dress-2

As for the difference in the fabric between fronts and back, I really don’t even know what happened there, as I cut all the pieces from a single piece of fabric. It was clearly fated to be a learning project.

I feel like this is a slippery slope: I have to make the dress again, this time with improved fit, matching fabric and there must be a clever way of working those pockets…. (read: the beginning of an obsession here… :0)

Happy knitting (and sewing),

R.

Zen inspirations: the European Shoulder Seam.

Hello!

As a result of my background in fashion design and particularly machine knitting, the Zen Variations sweaters are constructed slightly differently from some of the other top-down sweater patterns.

Whereas many patterns call for matching short rows on both the front and back shoulders to create a shoulder slope, with machine knitting, the knitter works as many straight bits of knitting as possible to increase the speed at which a sweater can be produced. By pushing all of the short rows to the back shoulders, a steeper shoulder slope is created and the front can be knit straight–in other words very quickly.

I hadn’t really thought through this construction as a hand-knitting technique until I noticed the work of Linda, aka the Gauginator, on Ravelry. Linda has had an impressive career to date working for major yarn companies and developed a recipe for what she calls the ‘ESS’ or European Shoulder Seam. She has been perfecting this recipe with some beautiful sweaters:

Gauginator's ESS ( European Shoulder Seam)

These details from a couple of Linda’s designs showcase the beauty of the design: above the ESS (European Shoulder Seam) and below: Martina.

Gauginator's Martina hand knit sweater

I asked Linda about how she came to this process and she send me a wonderful email detailing her knitting adventures:
 I wanted something that mimicked a set-in sleeve, where the sleeve cap seam was in closer to the proper chest width.
Also, having the shoulder seam positioned further back on the shoulder provides for a much better hang to the sweater. As we know, a proper fit in any garment emanates from a perfect fit in the shoulder.
At the time there were a few commercial patterns out there that pushed the shoulder seam toward the back of the shoulder, but they were very cumbersome and bulky; simply sewing the seams together to force them to fit. I’ve seen this construction referred to as English-, Italian-, French-shoulder seams … I decided to call it European Shoulder Seam (“ESS”) to encompass all the countries 😉
So I took to my drafting paper and literally created a sewing sloper to achieve the three-dimensional shoulder portion. From there I applied my knitting gauge and off I went.
The magic of it all lies within the Front shoulder section which, surprisingly, is just a straight piece with no shaping. The way that piece “torques” over the shoulder is what causes the perfect fit. I had to go on faith, because I can’t “quantify” that torque. All I know is that it works in all gauges. Since that’s the case I’m happy to not be able to explain ‘how’ it works, just that it does 😉
Gauginator's Notched Lapel

Linda’s Notched Lapel cardigan.

 

While I had appreciated the idea of the set-in sleeve construction for its simplicity and for the speed at which a sweater could be produced, I had never considered the ‘torque’ aspect of the shoulder and how that makes it equally as relevant to hand-knitting as machine knitting. I am indebted to Linda for bring it to my attention!

Happy knitting,

Rx

Constructing the Zen Variations

Hello!

I’m visiting the family in Seattle this week, but I am not neglecting the Zen Variations knit-along while I am away! As I mentioned in a previous post, my travel knitting is the Enso sweater, knit in Kettle Yarn Co. Islington DK.

It’s all the rage to knit seamless, top-down sweaters and it is a construction I really love for a few good reasons.

With top-down, you can try as you go, checking the fit at the crucial junctures, making the armhole deeper if you want to, or shorter, and of course making the sweater body and sleeves as long as you want them.

Today I want to begin a step by step tutorial for knitting a Zen Variation sweater, which starts with the upper back:

Zen Variations by Renée Callahan back

In this schematic, we are looking at the Back from the right side, and working from casting on at the top down to the underarm/bottom of the sleeve opening.

1. Cast on the number of stitches required for both shoulders and back neck (the red line).
2. Place markers (m) to mark shoulders.
3. Work short rows to create shoulder slope: knit across Right Shoulder and Back Neck to Left Shoulder, wrap and turn (W&T) the next st; purl back to Right Shoulder, W&T the next st; knit back to the 1st wrapped st, k3 (wrapped st + 2 more) W&T, purl back to 2nd wrapped st., k3 (wrapped st + 2 more), W&T, etc.
4. Work straight until the back armhole is as long as necessary.
5. Work increases (+) at the underarm edge until the full back measurement (minus the stitches that will be cast on for the underarm) is reached.
6. Put Back sts on waste yarn.

I will continue the tutorial with the Fronts in a couple of weeks.

If you are interested in learning more, I will be teaching a several workshops in and around London, and further afield, leading students through understanding the construction as well as all the techniques associated with the design (working the wrapped short-rows, picking up stitches for a beautiful set-in sleeve, a perfect finish for  your new sweater) as well as choosing the right size, making modifications, and more. I’m teaching Zen and Art of Sweater Construction in several places this Autumn:

25 September  the Village Haberdashery.

1 October I will have the whole Zen Variations collection at Wild and Woolly for a trunk show and little party to celebrate sweater season!

6 October Wild and Woolly

16 October A Yarn Story. 

Mon, Oct 24 to Fri, Oct 28 I will be in Romania teaching a number of knitting classes at the Taking a Moment in Time  Weaving, spinning, knitting and photography retreat.

12 November The Yarn Dispensary

For a more complete list of classes, including Brioche Stitch Basics among others, please sign up to the newsletter here.

Happy knitting,

Rx