Sunset Highway

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Just when I thought I was done with pink and green combos I unconsciously selected another one for my Sunset Highway sweater.

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The pattern is designed by Caitlin Hunter (Boyland Knitworks), and sometime around its release she announced that Olann, whose yarn she used for her sample, would be selling kits as a preorder for the sweater. I had been ogling all of Caitlin’s pics of Sunset Highway in its early stages, so I had known for a while that I would be knitting this stranded masterpiece. Once I saw the completed sweater I really liked the drape of Caitlin’s and decided I would use the same yarn in order to best achieve the same look. For colors, however, I wanted to select something unique, so rather than going with one of Olann’s kits I created my own.

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Alas, my preorder was delayed. As I had been anxious to start the sweater well before the pattern was released I was downright champing at the bit by the time the yarn arrived. Finally, after what felt like a century, the yarn arrived from Ireland. My colors (shown above) are, from left to right, Cooties (main color), Nova, Lovers Lane and Lithe. Nova, the dark blue with colorful speckles, is my favorite.

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I do a lot of knitting in the car while waiting in the line to pick up my kids from school. The start of my yoke is above. Below is my progress a few days later, after my husband happened to pick up a beautiful bouquet of tulips and baby’s breath that coordinated with my Sunset Highway quite nicely.

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There was little to no momentum to speak of with this sweater during the stranded sections, and the yoke dragged on and on. Apparently time moves slowly when you choose an insanely difficult method for colorwork. I have a confession: I don’t do stranded at all. Not in its full sense. I have a strong aversion to floats, and as I have explained to many knitters, I just cannot stand fingers and toes getting snagged on strands of yarn that typically lace the wrong side of garments that feature colorwork. Several years ago I knit stranded Christmas stockings for my family, and believe me, there are few things more irritating than trying to cram toys and candy into stockings designed with a thousand hidden strands of yarn beckoning to entangle anything that slides by.

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Furthermore, I have never been good at stranded knitting and always had tension issues with floats. So how do I actually do colorwork, you ask? Rather than carrying the yarn along the back of the work across groups of stitches, I twist the yarn at every single stitch. This method allows me to have better control (control freak here!) over the tension throughout the colorwork and results in a fabric that is nearly as stretchy as stockinette worked in one color. Pictures of my Sunset Highway sweater turned inside out are down below.

While this method has always worked favorably for me in the past, this time I used singles for this project, and since constant twisting is relatively stressful for the yarn, it broke a dozen or so times. I used the opportunity of one break to make a quick video for Instagram demonstrating how to wet splice, or spit splice, the yarn back together. A common knitter’s trick!

After completing the yoke the sweater was a monotonous breeze–until it was time to work the sleeves. However, the colorwork on the sleeves was a small hurdle compared with the six-inch cuffs, which were inexplicably agonizing. Perhaps it’s because the cuffs are at the long-awaited end, but more likely, it’s the 2 x 2 ribbing working on tiny needles for six inches (yet, following a huge decrease). I don’t get it, but my friends were in agreement that it was the most draining part. Notwithstanding, the cuffs are a super cute design element, and I wouldn’t have them any other way.

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When sleeves are worked identically there’s no way for me to knit them other than two-at-a-time (above). Those of you who know me know I’m anal about working pairs together. I simply lack the mental patience to do it any other way.

I am so happy with my completed Sunset Highway! Sweaters knit with fingering yarn can be trying, but it was well worth it. I followed the pattern to a T, and in the future I would only change how I blocked it. I think I prefer the unblocked hem (see a few pics below), which rolled up and kept the sweater at a moderate length. After blocking the sweater is rather long and tunic-like, which means I’ll have to wear it tucked in or as a tunic. In other words, a sweater I had envisioned to be able to dress up or dress down will now only be worn casually. Or I may just re-block it and attempt to roll up the hem…

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Below are shots of my completed Sunset Highway sweater before blocking, followed by a shot post blocking. You can see that I unrolled the hem and stretched out the arms a bit, as they were a tad short for my long monkey arms. (Again, I somewhat regret unrolling the hem.) There are also shots below of the sweater inside out.

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Sunset Highway sweater unblocked
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Sunset Highway sweater after blocking
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Sunset highway sweater inside out
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Sunset Highway sweater inside out close up

Sophie’s So Faded

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I’m fairly new to Andrea Mowry’s knitting patterns and only became familiar with her earlier this year when she released the Find Your Fade shawl, which uses a very similar fading process to the So Faded sweater pictured above. I have found that I am strongly attracted to knitting any kind of fade or blend. (In fact, my Cupid’s Mix beanie design from last year fades colors from one to the next. Click here for my Cupid’s Mix post and free pattern.)

Needless to say, the Find Your Fade hook was in my mouth before I knew it, and I rapidly ordered yarn and cranked one out–not because I needed a shawl (but who can have too many), not because the design was irresistible (although it is very pretty), but because I simply had to work that fade. Thus began my introduction to the beautiful knits of Andrea Mowry. (To see my post on the Find Your Fade shawl, click here.)

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I’ve been rather uncertain whether I could pull off a So Faded sweater for myself, but I was positive a So Faded Sophie would be adorable, so I showed her the pint sized version of the pattern. Pictures of the sweater got her quite excited, but it wasn’t until we started searching for yarn that she was bouncing in her seat. We ended up at the site for Old Rusted Chair, whose Nashville-based owner is the sweet and acrobatic Lauren (yeah, she’s got all kinds of skills). I’ve been no stranger to her enticing yarn, having used it in several of my previous projects, and I can say with authority that her style and quality is supreme. I let Sophie select the colors herself from Old Rusted Chair’s site, although I did assist her so that we’d end up with the ultimate Sophie fade. Above are the colors we chose, which are from top to bottom Chrysalis, Spring Forward, Don’t Forget Your Shades, Test Kitchen and We Will Rock You. Which is your favorite???

Like Find Your Fade, So Faded is a super fabulous pattern, and I hope to make another one. Perhaps one of my friends knows a baby or child for whom they’d like me to knit one? Let me know!

I am of the opinion there cannot be too many pictures of this sweater. We love our So Faded so much! The So Faded patterns (regular and pint sized) can be purchased directly from Andrea Mowry’s site here.

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Cushman Sweater

When I first saw the Cushman Pullover on Instagram I had an instant must-have reaction. The pockets are adorable, plus it is knit up in Malabrigo Rios, an aran weight yarn–meaning it will be a cozy, super fast knit.

The pattern, which is written by Isabell Kraemer, is found in the Malabrigo Book Ten: Rios pattern book. This project is my first completed by Kraemer, but I have another WIP (Aila tank). Both patterns are well written, and the styles are very cute. I have several of her other patterns in my queue. To purchase and download the Cushman Pullover pattern, click here.

For my yarn choice I went with Rios Ilusion. It wasn’t an easy choice given that Malabrigo has dozens of rich colorways from which to choose. Much like its name, Ilusion has the mystifying effect of appearing quite differently in various light settings (see above). Furthermore, from a distance Ilusion appears purple to grayish purple; up close, however, the yarn reveals itself in muted jewel tones. This type of property involuntarily causes me to gleefully rub my hands together and open my eyes really wide like an excited monkey.

It took me over five months to complete this sweater, but that was mostly due to Christmas knitting and other projects. I’m a polygamous knitter, so I’m constantly bouncing around on various projects because I lack the focus to do otherwise. Needless to say when I was working on the Cushman it went quickly, as expected. The pattern is straightforward. The pockets were not difficult, and since I knit the sleeves two-at-a-time via magic loop, they were a cinch.

Instructions for Knitting Sleeves Two-At-A-Time

Knitting sleeves two-at-a-time enables you to knit them to a consistent length as well as maintain the same tones from a single skein. The negative is that you cannot try them on easily for sizing, so you have to knit them to your measurements. To knit identical sleeves two-at-a-time divide the held sleeve stitches roughly in half for each sleeve at the underarm and top of the shoulder, so that you have stitches for the Front Right (FR), Back Right (BR), Front Left (FL) and Back Left (BL). (The underarm will be the beginning and end of the round for each sleeve.) Then pull your needles for magic loop through all held stitches in this order: BR underarm to shoulder, FL underarm to shoulder, BL shoulder to underarm and FR shoulder to underarm. The BR and FL stitches will be on one needle and the BL and FR stitches on the other. In order to get the needles through all stitches the sleeves will have to be folded over each other and twisted slightly as shown above. You can then knit the pattern as stated, starting with the BR stitches and copying the instructions for each sleeve. All identical sleeves in which the pattern begins at the underarm can be knit in this fashion.

First sweater of the year complete! My only issue is that the bottom of the sweater is knit with a warmer skein, so as you can see above the bottom two-fifths is a slightly different shade. I forgot to check the dye lots before beginning, and I did not notice the gradual increase in warmth until it was too late (too late for my stubbornness). Oh, well. My husband thinks it looks better for it, and perhaps over time I’ll think the same.