Inishmeane

All photos (c) 2016 The Fibre Co. & Tommy Martin

All photos (c) 2016 The Fibre Co. & Tommy Martin

Early this past summer I got a ping from Carmen at A Yarn Story saying "Have you seen this new Fibre Company yarn Arranmore? It's luscious and glorious and I want a men's sweater design for it!" Before I knew what had hit me we were looking at a Pinterest board and discussing constructions and yarn colours and motifs. We debated henley style versus gansey, raglan versus set in sleeve...the possibilities were endless!

Most importantly, we wanted to come up with a men's sweater that would appeal both to men and the knitters who knit for them. The stereotype is that men want plain, boring, miles-of-stockinette navy or black or brown or dark green pullovers. That's it. But honestly, who among us wants to knit that? I can envision a scenario in which my brain was so fried that I would be good for nothing but plain stockinette in the round, but the prospect is just a bit too blah to be appealing for very long.

So we decide on a mostly stockinette sweater (to cover the standard insistence on "plain") which would highlight the tweedy rustic nature of the yarn, but with some interesting details to keep the knitter of said sweater from going nuts in a sea of blank canvas. A couple of serious cables for example, and a saddle shoulder construction. A tall collar and a henley neckline. A cozy sweater in a glorious Aran yarn that wraps around you like a big hug.

Then there was swatching and knitting (in the ludicrous heat that was Washington DC this past summer when we were there) and a frantic round of button choosing, and some pattern writing. And now, Carmen and I are thrilled to present Inishmeane, named for a small island off the coast of County Donegal.

A dog almost as cute as The Wee Ridiculous Dog that lives in my house

A dog almost as cute as The Wee Ridiculous Dog that lives in my house

Worked in seven sizes (finished chest measurement from 96.5-157.5 cm/38-62"), Inishmeane is worked in the round from the bottom up, starting with a turned hem. The body is worked in the round to the underarms, and then the front and back are worked flat. Sleeves are worked (also with a turned hem) with a mirrored cable panel on each, and then the cable continues across the shoulder, getting attached to the front and back as you work. Then the collar is worked flat, with the cables continuing on either side, and the front button bands are picked up and worked flat. 

I am super thrilled with how this sweater has come out, but it wouldn't have happened without the support of a lot of people: first off, Carmen, who asked me to come up with something for her, and was an absolute pleasure to work with from start to finish (let me know when the next one needs to come through, ok?), my lovely tech editor Deb for her eagle eyes (!), Daphne and Ian at The Fibre Company for yarn support and being generally all around some of the most lovely people it's been my pleasure to meet in this industry, and Tommy Martin who takes unbelievably phenomenal pictures of knitwear in the Lake District (as evidenced by these photos and the gorgeous shoot he did for Nordlándda last year).

The pattern is available now from Ravelry and from A Yarn Story directly, along with oodles and oodles of gorgeous Arranmore. I'm already contemplating what colour to pick for my, I mean Alex's Inishmeane! And you can read more about the process from Carmen's side of the story on her blog.

The Boardwalk Collection Blog Tour - Bagatelle Cowl

Welcome to Stop 8 on The Boardwalk Collection blog tour! When Kettle Yarn Co. first contacted me about being a part of this endeavour to highlight the new DK version of her extremely popular Islington fingering weight yarn, I was thrilled with the inspiration and design spec - Linda asked for pieces with lots of negative space, highlighted with geometric lace designs. I was hooked!

Bagatelle Cowl in Islington DK in "Peony", image copyright 2015 Juju Vail for Kettle Yarn Co.

Bagatelle Cowl in Islington DK in "Peony", image copyright 2015 Juju Vail for Kettle Yarn Co.

I've always loved the seaside, and spent vast amounts of time growing up on the beaches of New England, particularly Maine. Those rocky, somewhat barren shores have very little resemblance to the more cosmopolitan beaches of places like Brighton and Lyme Regis, but the salty breeze and calls of the seagulls are constant. With the Bagatelle Cowl, I wanted to capture the lines of piers emerging from the water's surface, ebbing and flowing as the tides go in and out.

Bagatelle Cowl in Islington DK in "Peony", image copyright 2015 Juju Vail for Kettle Yarn Co.

Bagatelle Cowl in Islington DK in "Peony", image copyright 2015 Juju Vail for Kettle Yarn Co.

Bagatelle is knit in the round, and the focal point is a strongly vertical lace pattern that biases across the face of the cowl. The edges are finished in simple seed stitch, evoking pebbly beaches. The pattern includes both written and charted instructions, but if you're new to knitting from charts, this pattern would be a good starting point, as the lace stitch itself is very simple. The pattern uses 2 skeins of Islington DK, and is plenty long enough to double up around the neck.

Bagatelle Cowl in Islington DK in "Peony", image copyright 2015 Juju Vail for Kettle Yarn Co.

Bagatelle Cowl in Islington DK in "Peony", image copyright 2015 Juju Vail for Kettle Yarn Co.

The Islington DK base is perfect for this type of accessory - hefty enough to give real warmth to the finished item (perfect for our somewhat inconsistent British summer weather or for the transition into autumn), but with beautiful drape and swing. The combination of 55% Bluefaced Leicester and 45% silk results in a yarn with plenty of elasticity and luxurious shiny softness. And the colours are perfection...

The Boardwalk Collection includes patterns from a phenomenal group of designers: Arcade by Isabell Kraemer, Pavilion by Renée Callahan, Promenade by Maria Magnusson, Seaward by Rachel Coopey and Jetty by Linda Lencovic. You can see all the designs on Issuu or (hopefully) in the preview below.

In the works

I've been thinking about cables lately, despite the fact that it's nearly August. Specifically cozy warm cables worked in luscious yarn that can snuggle up around your neck, or cuddle your ears or warm cold fingers this upcoming winter....in other words, I've got cable patterns on the brain, a box full of yarn support, and I'm venturing boldly into Accessory Collection territory. 

Warning: post conatins photos dangerous to cold sheeping intentions

This collection is happening in collaboration with the wonderful people over at The Fibre Company, purveyors of incredibly special luxury yarns with beautiful palettes of colours. The yarn I'm working with is their chunky weight Tundra, a blend of 60% llama/30% merino/10% silk. 

Prototype #1, in Bearberry

Prototype #1, in Bearberry

To say that this yarn is squooshy is a gross understatement! It is a true pleasure to work with, and being a chunky weight means that the projects are knitting up super-fast. The first prototype is done and blocked, and has me wishing it were just a bit colder so I could wear it constantly.

Prototype #2, in Larch

Prototype #2, in Larch

Prototype #2 is on the needles and well underway - I need to do a bit of figuring on how the crown decreases are going to work, but I'm hoping to have this done by the end of the week before we go on holiday. Sadly, I won't be taking any of this yarn with me on our first summer holiday - backpacking + Italian August + llama are not a good combination in any scenario. But I'll be back to these for the second trip of the summer to the States, when I will be child-free for at least a week, and have lots and lots of time on airplanes...knitting bliss!