Sunday, December 10, 2017


Jeff asked me to make him a sweater for an upcoming trip to Colorado with family. I happily obliged, hoping to have it finished by his birthday. I completed it with a week to spare. One month exactly from cast-on to bind-off.

This is the Alchemy Pullover, featured on the cover of Issue 3 of the new Rib Magazine. The designer, Lars Rains, was unfamiliar to me, but he's quite a prolific designer who specializes in working with color and texture in interesting and innovative ways. The sweater is made with 10 colors of Brooklyn Tweed Arbor, which I purchased from Hill Country Weavers. There's a also a 5 color version of the pattern, which I thought was very clever and thoughtful.  It almost tripped me up a few times , though, when I flipped open the magazine to consult the charts and thought I'd made a mistake, only to realize I was looking at the wrong version.

Since I had to check gauge in the round anyway, it made sense to me to just start making a sleeve and count that as my gauge swatch. As luck would have it, I was spot on with the recommended needle size (US7, 4.5mm). So I made both sleeves first, and then started in on the body of the sweater. The sizes made a leap from 42 ¾" to 46 ½" and it called for a few inches of ease. The smaller size would have left only a tiny bit of ease, so I went with the 46 ½" size. It's an inch or two roomier than I might like normally, but better bigger than too snug. Plus, I can wear it also. Just sayin'...

Lots and lots of brown stockinette in the round. I was kind of in heaven. But then the real fun started. Each color in the yoke is used for 8 rounds at a time, with a new color being introduced every four rounds. All but two of the colors are used twice. As an added layer, texture is introduced through purling. I was rather used to knitting with two colors, one in each hand, but I was quite unused to purling with my right hand. I found it quite difficult and now understand while some new right-handed throwers are averse to purling. All that moving the yarn back and forth! So much easier in the left hand. As with any stranded pattern knitted in the round, there is a visible line where the pattern rounds change. You can see this over Jeff's left shoulder in the picture above. I think it's only really noticeable at the top with the yellow and brown.

The one part that that I'm not entirely satisfied with is the collar. It's just more simple stockinette in the round in brown above the yoke, but then goes into a 2x2 ribbing for 15 rounds, finished with Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-off. But something about the decrease rate, or maybe just shoulder and neck anatomy in general, makes the fabric gather and bunch up a bit. I've seen this happen in other yoked sweater patterns, but not sure why. So it looks a bit "roomy" in the neck area. I'm thinking, though, that this might not be a bad thing, giving a bit of comfort around the neck, but also trapping warm air in cold weather. I'll go with that.

Speaking of weather, you may notice traces of snow in these pictures. I took these in the morning after a freak late-autumn snow flurry the night before that hit central and south Texas. So unusual at any time, but especially this early in the chilly season. The college where we work had a delayed opening, which allowed us to get this pictures taken. I'm hoping we see a bit more snow than this when we head to Colorado in a few weeks. I know this will keep him snuggly and warm. I'm so pleased he likes it. Happy birthday, Jeff!

Next up, I'm going to finish the last two pairs of the Woodland Winter Mittens kit I got from Knit Picks in 2011. The kit came with enough yarn and six patterns to make pairs of mittens representing the six colder months. Texans - use your imaginations! Within a year of getting the kit, I'd made the mittens for October, January, February and March, but had never made the ones for November and December. I'm not sure why - I'd just set the box aside. From time to time I would unearth the yarn and pattern and remember I needed to get back to them. Now seems to be the time. I've gotten started on the November pair, which features mountains and a large ungulate (elk? moose?) on the back of the hands and a pretty plaid pattern on the palms. They might make nice gifts for people I know who were born in these months...


  1. Wow that is one gorgeous sweater.

    1. Thank you, Kim. I just copied the pattern (down to the exact yarn) exactly. The yoke is so different and interesting. It's kind of hard to wrap your brain around the combination of color and texture.

  2. That textured yoke pattern is so cool! I see what you mean about the collar. Have him wear it this winter, and if it still bugs you, you can re-work it. No biggie!

    1. I think it's going to work. I'll have to wear it a bit myself and see!

  3. Truly and totally enjoyed your interview with Staci of VERYPINK.COM!

  4. Steven, Thank you so much for blogging about your adventures with yarn. I found your blog while looking at examples of the Vivid blanket, (I love your grey-bordered one!!) and I read your entire blog over the last few weeks. I've been working on the Flax sweater by TinCan Knits, and at the point that I started reading your blog, I was almost about to give up.

    But reading your stories about the various times you've had to rip back, re-work, or just puzzle out a new pattern has really inspired me to keep going, and go back and fix my various mistakes.

    I'm almost done with it now (though I'm going to go back and alter some things so it fits better) and I'm looking forward to trying some new things. The way you describe the process of knitting made me realize it's not really the finished thing that I want, it's the learning experience. And boy have I learned a lot, both from reading about your work, and from this sweater!!

    I'm very grateful for your work both in fiber and in writing it all down. You've inspired me, and I can't thank you enough.


    1. Becky --

      This is really just the sweetest note! I have to confess that I write things down so meticulously because I'm really bad at remembering what I did. I treat Ravelry and this blog like the print knitting journal I kept in the earliest days of my knitting. I think it's so important - and it drives me nuts when I see a beautiful example of something in Ravelry and there are just no details about yarn, needles, etc.

      I really do find that the knitting is the things, not the thing that's being made. As my good friend Janelle once advised, "you're just going to knit something else. You might as well be knitting on this and getting it just the way you want it. That's why I shy away from knit-alongs and knitting for deadlines. I like to give myself the time to do it the way I want to.

      Glad you stuck with it! And thanks so much for your thoughtful comment here. I really appeciate it!