Story of Myrtle

Story of Myrtle

“Would you knit me another one?”

THUNK went my gut when Mom asked me that. She had just tried on the Myrle cardigan I’d knit for her and the fit was too tight. Fortunately, we were on the phone, so my body language was probably not as nonchalant as my voice.

“What bothers you about the fit,” I asked.

“Let me send it back so you can wear it.”


Daylight shines through the lace cardigan as it hangs in window

According to my project post, I cast on this sweater on August 1, 2019. Ah, yes, I took it with me on our 2019 sailing vacation. Too much concentration and dark yarn in the cabin at night meant I worked on other projects.

Autumn 2019 was full of local government campaigning, so there wasn’t much time to knit. Turns out, this wasn’t a great traveling project in the early months, too. In December, I pulled it all back and started over.

By February 2020, as I neared the finish line, I discovered that I placed the armholes incorrectly. Rip back, add a repeat and go for it again.

March 2020 began a time of interior updating and downsizing as we decided to move. It wasn’t until September that my evening knitting returned to the Myrtle. Mom was so patient. “I’ll be happy whenever I get it.”

Myrtle is a lace cardigan knit in fingering weight yarn in one piece from the bottom up. Its main lace panels were repeats of 19 stitches over 16 rows, with the motifs leaning left or right to mirror each other. You can read my notes on how I mapped out the pattern in my Ravelry project.

I made several modifications to the sweater that Mom did like:

  • Lengthened body by one repeat before binding off for underarms.
  • Chose a jewel neckline instead of a scoop neckline, which required three more repeats before binding off.
  • Worked stockinette for the underams instead of the mesh pattern. This created narrower upper arm circumference, which I hadn’t remembered to consider.

We couldn’t find the perfect buttons, so I made Dorset buttons using crewel embroidery wool. Mom loved the buttons, so I’ll do that again.

Dorset buttons on a lace cardigan knit by Alanna Nelson

Yes, you heard it. I’ll do just about anything for my Mom. It makes sense to profit from my muscle memory and lessons learned while it’s still fresh.

So this long-term effort was a good practice run?

Mom went to her LYS and ordered the same yarn again. She sent me the pdf.  I’ll copy and paste the pertinent sections of the pattern so I’m not flipping back and forth as I did the first time.

It’s a lot of knitting, but winter is still long. Cheers to good evenings and cups of tea.

What should we do with the lovely lace sweater she doesn’t want? Me wearing it would require gargantuan mental reframing. Let me use that effort elsewhere. I’m not quite at the point where I can just drop it off at the consignment shop…. your ideas, please!

Message me on Instagram or Ravelry.

Strategies to Knit the #DividePullover

Strategies to Knit the #DividePullover

Alanna Nelson knits Emily Greene Divide

Divide by Emily Greene

The minute I saw the cover of Wool People 11, knitting Emily Greene’s Divide became a priority. Flowing lines and modern details offer an interesting knit and a versatile sweater – love it.

While Divide is written as a pullover, the geometric pattern allows easy adaptation into a cardigan, which I definitely need in my winter wardrobe. A quick stash dive yielded skeins of Hikoo Sueno in a wardrobe neutral chartreuse (yes, chartreuse goes with everything in my closet)… Oh yes, this sweater will be mine!

An admirer of Brooklyn Tweed (BT) since the days when he blogged about his knitting in Brooklyn, I know that Jared values clean graphics and has keen attention detail.  I’ve coached many knitters through BT patterns since 2011. The brand’s aesthetic and support of designers is renown.

Hats off to BT for offering a wide size range. Divide instructions range in finished sweaters from 32″ to 55.5″. In this pattern’s layout, the choices made to adapt to the size range complicates its presentation. The instructions reflect a designer’s perspective and not the knitter’s point of view. I hope BT considers pattern presentation strategies to improve the knitter experience.

BT considers Divide an advanced sweater. I found sorting through the pattern the most complicated issue (then again, I’m an advanced knitter). So if you’d like to knit this beauty, here are strategies I used to organize the 39 page pattern:

Pattern organization materials: Digital download of Divide pattern, measuring tape, highlighter marker, highlighter tape, a pocket and prong folder, 3 clear page protectors,  a copy machine that enlarges. Of course, you’ll need yarn and needles in several sizes to swatch plus a ruler to measure gauge.

  1. Purchase a digital copy of the pattern. A printed version is available at a more expensive price. You’ll need to rearrange the pattern to create a good workflow, so I wouldn’t spend the extra cash. This way, you can keep a digital copy of the pattern on your phone and tablet for reference (don’t leave home without it!). When I first acquainted myself to the pattern, the charts were not at all easy to read on a tablet or phone. Once you understand the details and rhythms of the pattern, you may get away from this.
  2. I know, what you really want to do is knit! Ok, ok! Go ahead, get out your yarn and start swatching. Arbor is classified as a double knitting weight (CYC 3) yarn, but the gauge for the half twisted rib is 27 stitches and 30 rows… a tight gauge for a dk weight yarn. Remember, they want a washed and blocked gauge. Do not mess around with this, especially is you are substituting yarn! I found my gauge varied when knit on the same size Addi turbos or ChiaGoo bamboo needles. I also discovered that I didn’t like the stiffness of the fabric when I worked the Sueno yarn at gauge. I wanted more drape in the fabric, and chose to follow the pattern directions for a size smaller.
  3. Read the entire pattern. Whether this means you print out the entire pattern (I’d recommend doing it single sided) or online, read the entire pattern. It’s long enough that a Table of Contents would be useful! Pages 1 – 5 give background and basics to the pattern. Pages 6 – 22 contain the instructions. Pages 23 – 33 are the Charts, followed by the Techniques and Abbreviations.
  4. Personalize the instructions. Highlight or note the instructions for the size you plan to knit. If I were to do it again, I’d take screen snippets of the instructions for my size and copy them into a new document to create a streamlined set of instructions. Instead, I put brackets alongside the portions of the pattern that pertained to the size I knit. Wouldn’t it be nice if BT included instructions by size?
  5. Enlarge the charts.  Make your life easy. This pattern relies heavily on charts, yet a 56 row and 80+ stitch pattern is portrayed in a 3″ x 5″ block.
  6. Assemble your working pattern. Take the pocket and prong folder and place the three page protectors in the center prongs. I laid out the six views:  Page 1) Photo of the pattern.  Page 2 – 3) Two pages of instructions Page 4) Left side charts. Page 5) Right side charts. Page 6) The diagram from page 34. Let me show you how this looked:
    Alanna Nelson knit strategies for Divide Pullover

    Highlighted instructions marked with highlighter tape

    Divide Pullover knit charts

    Left charts on left side of page and right side chart on right

    Divide knit by Alanna Nelson

    Diagram on back page and extra pages in pocket

    Extra pattern pages for the chart were kept in the left pocket. Extra instruction pages were kept in the right pocket. Once I completed a section, I left the page in the page protector.

  7. Compare Schematics to your measurements (page 4). I noticed in the photos that the armhole depth looked narrow. Will this fit you when you’re done? Look at the back raglan depth and determine if that fits your measurements… especially if your row gauge isn’t identical to the recommendation. From other Brooklyn Tweed patterns, I know that the women’s upper arm circumference can be tight on those who are middle age or older, so measure and adapt accordingly. The sweater is bracelet length… is that the length you had in mind or do you want your wrists covered? Take the measuring tape and make sure the size you’re knitting will give you results you’ll love. Adapt the pattern to fit your needs.

A big fan of knitting on the go, I almost always have knitting in my purse, briefcase or car. To move this sweater forward, I cast on the sleeves as my traveling project. The front and back of the Divide pullover aren’t always so portable.

I’ll update with photos later on progress. Meanwhile, there are currently 62 projects as of January 23, 2018 on Ravelry for the Divide Pullover. I found Leslie Eaton’s project page helpful as I perused the entries. If you’re knitting Divide, do you have any thoughts or strategies to share?




Plaits and Links Cardigan

Early in the year, someone in one of Sit and Knit’s knitting groups expressed their desire to knit this.Sit and Knit Melrose KAL Plaits and Links CardiganAs someone else echoed this sentiment, I suggested that we knit it together. Before we knew it, more than 15 people who frequent Janet’s shop were casting on either in her groups or a special KAL led by yours truly.  I had a fun time making Kathy Zimmerman’s pattern.  Working through the pieces, I made suggestions about fitting, approaches or modifications to the pattern.  My personal sweater yarn came from Martha’s Vineyard Fiber Farm CSA 2008  (now operating as Juniper Moon Fiber Farm in VA).

Once finished, I wore it nearly every day for a week.  And although I washed it for the winter, showers and breezes convinced me to pull it out for a tour of the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival.  People asked cautiously, “Did you knit your sweater?” before giving it lots of compliments.

Alanna's Plaits and Links CardiganDetail of back Plaits and Links CardiganStop by Sit and Knit in Melrose and you can see the sweater for yourself… in case you are so tempted.

Hold on a bit and I’ll upload notes and ideas on making this sweater based on our experiences.  Suggestions for bust darts, pattern interpretations, sleeve length and an alternative bind off for the neck edge are part of the parcel.

Janet plans to have a Plaits and Links party in the fall, where everyone can show off their work.  Perhaps we’ll see you then?