Rediscovering Garter Stitch

Happy 2018! It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted on my site, because…well, life happens. My husband suffered a major, life-changing injury at work in early 2015, and is still recovering after several surgeries. He now lives with PTSD and a permanently damaged hand. It has been a struggle for him, and for the whole family. I haven’t had the energy to write for a while, but I’m back now. Here are some of the designs I’m coveting and working on.

My LYS: Unwind Yarns

There’s a new LYS in town, called Unwind Yarns: More Than a Yarn Store, and I love it! I bought a set of Kollage interchangeable circular needles, with square needles. Square needles are so easy to work with, and so far I haven’t had the aching hands I usually get from knitting. Unwind stocks good-quality, gorgeous wools and other premium fibres. Here’s a multi-coloured cowl I made using the “Waves” stranded colourwork pattern (Alterknits Stitch Dictionary) and Drops Karisma superwash wool. I’m not completely happy with the colourway, because it doesn’t quite have enough contrast to show clearly.

Here’s the toque I made for my husband’s birthday present, also in Karisma. I adapted a mitten pattern from Drops website, using five repeats, and even used the mitten top shaping as-is for a unique top.

Danish Modern: Hanne Falkenberg

Crochet has been the theme of this blog, but I also love to knit. Lately, colourwork with stranded knitting and stripes has captured my interest. While leafing through old back issues of Vogue Knitting magazine, I re-discovered a designer whose work fascinates me. Her name is Hanne Falkenberg, and she designs what she calls Danish Modern garments for women. Visit her site here: http://www.knit.dk/index_uk.phpMs. Falkenberg’s designs are not available for sale as patterns only. She sells them as full kits, complete with her own wool, a fine 2-ply Scottish Shetland wool. The designs are coveted by fans, who consider a completed Falkenberg to be quite an accomplishment, requiring dedication and perseverance. In North America, the only distributor is Sedona Knit Wits at https://www.sedonaknitwits.com/collections/hanne-falkenberg. Right now I am coveting the Mermaid jacket, Blues Vest, Drip Drop and Da Capo jackets. My need for instant gratification couldn’t be met just yet, and I wasn’t quite ready to commit to a full-scale project like those just yet. So, I searched for some more accessible projects to achieve a similar look. Purl Soho has several garter-stitch projects that feature simplicity and clean lines, but they weren’t quite what I wanted for now.

Schoolhouse Press and E.Z.

Garter stitch is so simple and under-appreciated, knit every row, and for the longest time I avoided it because it looked too simple to me. I’m drawn back to it now because its simplicity can be so beautiful. It shows colourwork well, it lays flat and doesn’t roll, and it’s so springy and squishy. If it’s done in good-quality wool, it is spectacular. While searching for patterns in garter stitch, I found the Elizabeth Zimmerman Baby Surprise Jacket and Adult Surprise Jacket pattern on my bookshelf. I ordered it probably five or six years ago from Schoolhouse Press, back when they only sold hard copies of their patterns (no pdf downloads at all!). By the time it arrived in the mail, I had moved on to other projects. This project had everything I was looking for: mitres, potential for striping patterns, a more sophisticated looking garter-stitch garment. Schoolhouse Press now offers digital products including pdf copies of patterns and streaming videos, and an online calculator for custom-sizing the Surprise Sweater. It’s a literal treasure trove of knowledge (E.Z. was a genius, and her equally-talented daughter Meg Swanson and grandson Cully continue the tradition.) I bought the Surprise Sweater streaming video, which features Meg Swanson demonstrating the techniques. Thanks to the video, I finally tried the i-cord bind off and it was a success. Meg recommends making the Baby Surprise Jacket first, before trying the adult size. I just completed my first one tonight.

My next project will be an adult-size version of the Surprise Sweater, and I’m just choosing what wool to use. I have some tweedy wool in beige and denim blue to use up, but it’s not superwash treated. Maybe that’s okay, because I can just soak it to clean it.

What’s on your needles (or hook)?

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