Tag Archives: Purl Soho

Fixing the fit: my cable back shell

Cable back shell in Dream in Color Baby (Ruby River)

Cable back shell in Dream in Color Baby (Ruby River)

I’ve been knitting more sweaters and tops than usual lately, but have often found myself a little disappointed with the finished product.  This is most often an issue of fit, so I’m really happy to show off my latest finished top: the Purl Bee’s Cable Back Shell.

I was reluctant to shell out (no pun intended) for the recommended cashmere, but fortunately, I had this lovely Dream in Color Baby from a long frogged pullover.  I like the yarn even better for this top, since the slight varigation in the colour works really well given how basic the front is.  What drew me to this top was the cabled back, that almost looks like a spine and gives a very subtle, almost sexy tension to the back.

The simple but interesting cable back

The simple but interesting cable back

A top like this needs to fit perfectly, so I was really happy to try on the sample at Purl Soho in August.  Like the other Laura’s Loop pattern I knit, this one fits a bit short and boxy.  To add to the confusion, the pattern calls for 2 inches of positive ease (it should be 2 inches bigger than your body), but the photo clearly shows a sweater with negative ease. It’s a perfect illustraion of how even with careful gauge and measuring, fit can be an issue  To achieve the look I wanted, I knit the extra small (about 0.5 inches negative ease) and added 2 repeats (or 5 inches) to the length.

I didn’t pick up and cast off at the armholes (yet).  Doing so will stop the armholes from stretching and rolling, but I’m still considering adding elbow length sleeves, so I’ll hold onto a little scrap, while I wear it a couple of times and consider my options…. What do you think, would it look better with little sleeves?

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Visiting Purl Soho

Purl Soho

Purl Soho

Visiting New York City can be a surreal experience.  At least for North Americans, it is the setting for so many of our most beloved movies, tv shows and novels. It can feel like you are visiting a (very crowded) theme park filled with the stores Carrie shops at, the builiding where Liz Lemon works, that toy store from Big, and, of course, Holly Golightly’s most famous breakfast spot. If you’re younger than me, those cultural references may shift to Brooklyn, but either way – New York is a city that feels disconcertingly familiar, even on your first visit.

That surreal familiarity definitely extended to the only place in New York City that I was determined to shop at: Purl Soho. I’ve been to New York a number of times over the years, and I live in a big city, so the shopping in Manhattan never really calls to me.  But that was before I starting following the Purl Bee.  Their beautifully photographed patterns and designs continue to inspire.  We have many fantastic yarn stores at home, but the Purl Bee suggested that this was going to be something really special. I spent a perfect afternoon in Soho with my girlfriends, eating at the L’Ecole (a fantastic restaurant where staff are all being trained in the art of French food), and shopping for yarn.

From the moment I stepped in, I’m pretty sure that the staff knew they were dealing with an unabashed fan girl. I picked through their selection of books, looked at the fabric and wished I could sew or quilt, saving the yarn for last.  It certainly isn’t a place to hunt for bargains, but they have a gorgeous and carefully chosen selection of silks, linens and cashmeres.  I have admired the sweaters and accessories on their blog for years, and then there they were hanging on a rack where you could touch them and try them on.  Like so many other spots in New York, there was that strange feeling of familiarity and admiration. I’ve seen this so many times, but here it is and it’s real.  Trying the sweaters on had a practical purpose too.  I was able to see exactly how they fit, much more clearly than you can from measurements on a pattern.  I could see that the cable back shell I’ve been working on is very short, while the silken tee shirt I bought yarn for is already the perfect length. For anyone else using their patterns from a far, despite what you may have heard about New Yorkers, the sweaters actually fit on the big side.

Silken Straw in Husk on the left and Euroflax Linen in Caribou

Silken Straw in Husk on the left and Euroflax Linen in Caribou

The service was helpful, knowledgable and friendly; they answered questions, printed patterns and wound my yarn, while we shopped across the street.  I cannot wait to cast on with the yarn that I bought: Alchemy Silken Straw is Husk (for the t-shirt) and Euroflax Linen in Caribou (for their raglan).

I took at finishing class! (and finished something)

A few weeks ago, I took a finishing class at a not-so-local yarn store.  I am self taught for most finishing skills (seams, picking up stitches, weaving in ends). Since, I’m pretty good at following youtube videos and making things look tidy, I never knew what I didn’t know.  It took a suggestion from knittingsarah, to send me to the internet to find a yarn store offering a finishing class. It turns out there was a lot that I was doing wrong(ish).  It was really instructive to sit down with a real expert and correct all of my bad habits.  After a few hours with some swatches, I was ready and willing to tackle some seaming.

My cap sleeve lattice top in Cascade Ultra Pima

My cap sleeve lattice top in Cascade Ultra Pima

I was drawn to the Cap Sleeve Lattice Top from the moment I saw it, but had originally planned to knit it in the round, and then graft the shoulders together using kitchener stitch. If you scroll down from the pattern post, you will find lots of discussion on this in the comment section. However, after the class, it seemed like a great, unintimidating place to practice my new skills.  So I knit it flat and then folded it and used mattress stitch along the gray sections, just as the pattern calls for. I could not be happier with the results! It was a little time consuming, but I’m finally finishing garments up to my standards.

I’m smitten with both the pattern and the yarn (Cascade Ultra Pima) – they’re a perfect fit.  If only the top was a perfect fit for me.  I have a long torso, and thought I adjusted the length enough to accomodate, but it still hits a little above my hip.  I cast on the medium (I’m about a size 6), and so this fits in a loose, effortless way that I think is appropriate for a casual summer top. If I make this again as an all season layering piece, I will use the same yarn, but definitely make it longer and smaller. What colours would you use for an all season layering lattice?

The knitting I wish I was doing

This week is crunch time for our move, and I’m not doing very much knitting. In fact, I was so exhausted last week, that I made a serious error on my lattice top, and had to rip half of it out. Since then, it’s been languishing in the bin I keep for works in progress.  However, not having time to knit, doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking about knitting. I’d love to have some me time to sit quietly with my needles this week…

One of the many rad lattice tops on ravelry

In lieu of sharing any actual projects, I thought I’d share my summer project queue; a round-up of the knitting I wish I was doing, if you will.

1.  Cap Sleeve Lattice Top by Purl Soho.  I’ve recently become enamoured with Purl Soho’s blog, the Purl Bee. So enamoured in fact, that I’ve made Purl Soho a must-stop on our upcoming family trip to New York City; hopefully I’ll have my top finished by then. I have actually cast this on one, in grey and yellow Cascade Ultra Pima, and it’ll be the first thing I come back to, as soon as we’re settled in. I can’t wait to wear mine around our new neighbourhood with a pair of boyfriend jeans…

My Vodka Lemonade, in progress, with a shortened collar

My Vodka Lemonade, in progress, with a shortened collar

2. Vodka Lemonade Cardigan by Baby Cocktails.  Like my cap sleeve top, I have cast this one on (also in Cascade Ultra Pima). I think it’s a perfect summer knit, since the DK cotton is a nice weight and fiber for wearing over summer dresses, on cool evenings – if only, I finish it before the evenings get absolutely cold. I’ve set aside some time to go to a yoga retreat next month, and I’m already imagining wrapping this around me, by the lake.

Watermelon cardigan, taken from the pattern website

3.  Watermelon by Alana Dakos. I’ve bought the pattern and enough pink and green yarn to make a pair of these for my adorable new nieces (six and three months old!). I can’t wait to see pictures of them rolling around in matching cardigans…. so clever and adorable.

4. Plain host/hostess gift socks.  I’ve completed one pair, but want to cast on another in Tough Love Sock, this time in Stormchaser.  I think these socks will make the perfect gift for my sister and brother-in-law, who will be hosting us in New York, late in the summer. It’s hard to come up with a thoughtful gift for hosts who have everything, especially if you’re flying carry-on. But, I think everyone can use another pair of socks, and the fact that they’re homemade tells your host how much you appreciate it!

5. Stonecutter Sweater by Amy Miller.  It’s highly unlikely that I’ll get to this one before the weather turns cold, and I move on to heavier sweaters and Christmas gifts. However, this sweater, from the most recent Interweave Knits, was the first thing that caught my eye, in a fabulous issue filled with gorgeous patterns.  How great would this look over a bathing suit and shorts? Or dressed up the way it’s styled in this picture? There’s always next summer…

Stonecutter sweater, from Interweave Knits.