January Aran Body…



And yes, we will be refinishing our floors soon, why do you ask?  If you notice, I worked the back higher on the shoulders, as per EZ’s advice.  Usually when working a sweater in the round like this, you insert a few short rows so the back doesn’t ride up (I see London, I see France, etc), but with a complicated pattern like this one, you just can’t do it.  So what you do is cast off five stitches at the beginning of each row and work back and forth, (can get complicated working a cable round from the back, ask me how I know!) until you have 40 stitches left live for the neck.  It makes a nicely rounded top, which will be sewn to the front shoulders.


I just love the pattern here – combined with the yarn I used, it feels so earthy, and smells somewhat sheepy (in a good way) and flows so beautifully.  Elizabeth Zimmerman is truly a genius.  I’m going to be very sad when this project is over.  So will the little guy:


I was trying to take pictures of the sweater, and who rolls on over, but my very own personal kitten!  I swear my son has supernatural powers to detect any sort of string, wire or yarn.  Must be the yarn fumes. Well, tangling my ball of leftover yarn is better than his usual hobby of chewing on the power cords (or at least trying his best to do so).  I promise this is the last gratuitous baby picture – here he is caught in the act:


Okay, now that we have twisting your stitches to the left covered, let’s twist to the right. Again, please excuse my stone age Paint program – it is all I have!


So, again you have your knit stitch and your purl stitch, this time the knit stitch needs to travel right to continue that great diagonal  line.


Just like on the left twist, you slip both stitches as if to purl to the right needle.


So this is the tricky part: you dig into the back leg of the purl (second) stitch  with your left needle. Remember, your two ‘active’ stiches are now on the right needle.


The next move is similar to the last move of the left twist- you slide the left needle so the knit stitch pops off (your purl stitch stays safely on the left needle).  Catch the knit stitch with your right needle.  Now your knitting should look like the picture above.



Slip the knit stitch back on the left needle, so you can work both stitches.


All you have to do is knit, then purl, making sure your stitches aren’t twisted (unless your pattern says to twist).  As for me, I’m going to see a woman about a manicure!

Traveling Stitches

Since it is January, many people have taken on the challenging January Aran Sweater from Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Knitter’s Almanac.   The biggest hurdle for me (so far – we haven’t gotten to steeking yet, but I’m in extreme denial about that) has been mastering the traveling stitches, of which there are hundreds in the fishtrap pattern alone.  Once you get used to the technique, it is pretty speedy.  In the January Aran Sweater, you twist a regular knit stitch over a purl stitch in different directions, getting the effect of the knit stitch traveling either left or right and the purl sort of hiding behind.  The knit stitch is always in the front, and it’s not unlike a one stitch cable.  As many things in knitting, there are lots of ways to do things, but this is my favorite twisted stitch method.  I learned it from Meg Swanson, in the Knitting Glossary DVD.  Please excuse my lame picture edits, as I’m just using an old version of Microsoft Paint to add text and pointers.

Left Twist:


So, as you can see, you have the knit stitch, and the purl stitch, and the knit stitch needs to hop over the purl stitch to the left.


Piece of cake, right?  Now comes the maneuver.


So, now that your stitches are on your  right needle,  you want to insert the left needle into the knit stitch which is the second stitch on your right needle.


So this is the tricky part – You have put the knit stitch on the left needle, and now you pull it to the left enough so the purl stitch pops off the right needle.  You catch it again with the right needle, and now it is behind the knit stitch but still on the same needle.  Place the purl stitch on the left needle, and then you can purl the first stitch, and knit the second.  Make sure your stitches aren’t twisted, and you are good to go!


I hope that was clear enough!  I do teach knitting classes, but it’s so different with stills on the internet.  I feel like I should be standing with my back to you, size 15 needles up in the air giving you a visual.

Good luck traveling.  I’m putting up the right twist up soon!


Here is the salt cod stew from the Scandanavian Cooking Show. The recipe is linked here.


Very tasty, and surprisingly easy! After soaking the salt cod for about a day and a half (I refrigerated it, as the fish does smell a bit…fishy), all you really have to do is chop the vegetables and throw them in the pot. And no stirring! I did what he showed on the episode, and just cut an entire head of garlic in half and tucked each half on either side of the pot. You can fish it out afterwards, and it tastes like tomatoey roasted garlic. So good on some crusty bread. Also, don’t be frightened by the cup and a half of olive oil – there’s no other fat in the stew, so it’s not as bad as you think! (also great for crusty bread mopping) It’s a good winter stew that doesn’t involve lots of red meat. (not that there’s anything wrong with a little red meat once in a while)

I promise there’ll be more sweater news soon- right now I’m just working up the body in a giant tube.

fluffy and warm, speckled tweed

strangely feels linty

why were you unpopular?


Goodbye, Skye Tweed!

My husband was flipping through stations yesterday and he came across this show on PBS that is a 13 episode series on Scandinavian cooking.  The recipes are pretty great, as they were featuring bacalao, known to us here as salt cod.  Around Boston, we see a lot of it in Portugese and Brasilian cuisine, but maybe that’s because there are very few if any Scandanavian resturants around.  Why is that? Anyway, while the fish stew looked VERY tasty, and I may just make it this week, if I can find some salt cod, but what really impressed me was the sweaters worn by Andreas Viestad (the chef) and the local women tasting his recipes.  Check out Mr. Viestad:


Now that’s a man who can wear a sweater! The website has great recipes, and you have to love a show that titles it’s episodes things like ‘Ugly But Delicious’.  It sounds like a lot of what I put on the table!  Here are the local women who come on and try his tasty onion soup with port and Jarlsburg:


Thank goodness for DVR – I love their sweaters, as well – very traditional, drop shoulders, lice on the bottom (that’s the little dots), and colorwork on the top.  The two colors are great because it creates two layers of wool, because you are holding one strand behind the working wool.  Cozy.

Okay, so my first New Year’s resolution is to post on this blog much more, as sometimes life gets in the way of blogging.  The baby is much more manageable,  and I’m able to get more stuff done.  The more daunting resolution I have is completing the Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Knitter’s Almanac.  Yes, the entire year.  Over at Knitpicks, Kelly Petkin started this undertaking in July 2007, and she is using all Knitpicks yarns, natch.  Totally worth listening in to her fabulous podcast to hear about her progress.  As much as I love Knitpick yarns, I am going to attempt to knit as much as I can from my stash.  I have started the body for the sweater and cannibalized my yarn for a different sweater and used my hibernating project as a gauge swatch.  And wouldn’t you know it, but I got gauge! Hurrah!  I’m actually liking how the yarn behaves in the January Aran Sweater more – it’s knitting up fluffier and softer because of the texture of the stitch patterns.  Here’s what Elizabeth Zimmerman calls ‘Fishtrap’.


So far, so good.  I’m making the small size, so I don’t have to increase stitches, as EZ has you put a certain number of purl stitches between motifs to increase size.  I’m knitting essentially a tube to the top of the shoulders, then the sleeves, and then…steeks.  Never done them before, and if you don’t know what they are, just imagine cutting your knitting. Nerve wracking! I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.  Right now, I’m just happily knitting in denial, trying not to think about cutting the armholes, and the front for a cardigan.  It gives me the heeby jeebys just thinking about it!  Here are the cables:jan-aran-cables.jpg

Most of the motifs in this sweater are done in Bavarian Traveling Stitches, which are a very clever way to make your knit stitches wander about wherever you please and your purls hide demurely behind, making a very Beautiful, Fluffy and Warm fabric (it being German, I also feel the need to Randomly capitalize.)I Highly recommend this pattern for anyone who wants a Good Challenge.  I also might add, it being an EZ project, it is more of a Pattern Suggestion with many opportunities for Customizing to your Own Tastes.  I saw this Brilliant knitter’s interpretation of the January Aran Sweater, and it looks Quite Sporty.  I think I may eschew a button band for a zipper as well, and knit a zipper lining in a complementary color.  The question remains, what color, and can I possibly do justice to Bluegarter’s fine example?