Monday, June 15, 2015


Hi, Knitters,
I want to announce that I am hosting a giant giveaway later this week. About 10 days ago there was a retreat in Madison, my hometown, where almost 30 knitters from my Ravelry group spent a long weekend together. We had door prizes and retreat bags and yarn and gifts. Well, I have stockpiled a bunch of things, including the custom stripey sock yarn from Quaere Fibre, to share with you. I want to do a good job thanking all of the sponsors of the retreat and not rush through it so later this week that will happen. You won't want to miss this opportunity so be sure to stay tuned.

Now for today's big news. I finished a cardigan! It may not seem like big news but it has been a very long while since I knit a sweater of any sort so I am pretty excited about it. Has it been a couple of years? I can't remember. Well, the Ambrosia cardigan has been on my mind for several years. When Gudrun Johnston, the designer, released her book Knit with Me I immediately purchased the yarn to make Ambrosia, the cover cardigan. That was in 2012. Three years later in 2015 it feels good to finally get this project out of my stash and onto my shoulders.

Here is some information you might like to know:
Yarn: Quince & Co. Puffin in the Frank's Plum colorway

The pattern for Ambrosia is available for individual download and it is also in a book called, Knit with Me by Gudrun Johnston.  The book is wonderful and has many patterns I would like to knit and wear. In addition to the book there is a baby/toddler pattern for download called Wee Ambrosia which is in sizes 3 months to 3 years. I may have to knit this one at some point, too. It is super cute.

The Ambrosia cardigan is knit from the bottom up, starting with the body, then the arms are knit and attached to the body. The yoke slip stitch pattern is really fun to knit and is quite simple despite the complicated appearance. When something is easy but looks tricky that's always the best. The decreases for the shoulders are done after the stitch pattern section which keeps things simple again. The neck edge is bound off and then picked up for the hood. Since the yarn is a bulky weight and is heavy the bind off and picked up edge provides a seam of sorts for added structure for the garment. I liked the thoughtfulness that Gudrun ran throughout the design. It is designed for simplicity, function and aesthetics.

The hood is just the right size. It is not gigantic and heavy at all. There is some unique short row shaping on the sides of the hood which gives it a rounder shape and makes it not so pointy. I like that the hood doesn't cover the diamond slip stitch pattern on the back. It's all very clever and done with purpose.

After the hood is finished, the front bands and hood edging are picked up and knit in one long row from bottom edge to bottom edge. The buttonholes are placed by the knitter with general instructions, not specific placement. This is fine because you can try the garment on at before knitting the buttonholes to figure out the best placement for the toggles. There is a reference for buttonhole placement using the stitch pattern section as a rough guide, one at the top, middle and lower edge of that section. Using the patterned section as a guide made it easy.

I originally had only 8 skeins of Puffin in Frank's Plum. The size I wanted to make calls for 10 skeins. I thought I had better order a couple more skeins so I didn't run out so I went ahead and purchased two more skeins. Guess how many skeins I used..... 8. Now I have two more skeins of Puffin added to my stash. But that's alright, I'll make a hat or mittens or something from the extras along the way. 

Here are some in-progress shots for you.

Here I am trying on the fresh off the needles Ambrosia to see where I wanted to add pockets on the fronts. Pockets are not included in the pattern but I really couldn't envision my Ambrosia without pockets. I am planning to wear this as a layering jacket in the fall and winter and I know that pockets will come in handy for warming my hands, holding car keys, or for storing other odds and ends. I bet a ball of sock yarn will fit nicely in these pockets. Yes to that.

In 2012 when I bought the book and yarn for Ambrosia I immediately started searching for toggles. One of my favorite button shops on Etsy is Wooly Moss Roots. I have used these buttons on many garments in the past and they are beautifully handcrafted every time. Wooly Moss Roots uses different types of wood branches for their buttons and they are so beautiful. 

I love the rustic look of the reclaimed sassafras wood used in the three toggles on my cardigan. I love that the bark is still on the toggles. They are sanded down just enough so the surface is smooth and will not snag on the buttonhole. The ends and back are smooth as well. 

I used purple thread to stitch on the toggles and they work and look perfect.

For the added pockets I picked up stitches using the knit fabric as a guide. I wrote out the directions on an Instagram post if you are interested in looking there for my photos. I am using the hashtag #projectsweaterchest for my sweater photos which stemmed from my sweater chest videos last fall. There are over 1,200 posts in #projectsweaterchest already. Use this on Instagram if you are doing some sweater knitting of your own so we can all see what you're up to.

Here are my general notes on what I did to make the pockets:

~ I picked up stitches by inserting the tip of the needle under the right leg of 16 consecutive stitches, added in the yarn leaving an 8 inch end, and knit directly onto to the cardigan. 

~ I picked up the stitches on the fourth row up from the border and 8 sts over from the front bands on each side.

~ 16 sts wide measures about 5-inches 

~ I worked 18 rows in stockinette stitch

~ Work 6 rows of garter stitch at the top edge 

~ I used the ends to stitch down the sides of the pockets. 

~ The pockets are about a 5-inch square which is a good size for pockets in general. 

I washed the finished cardigan in Soakwash in warm water and laid it flat to dry. 

I am thrilled with the squishy, cozy results of Ambrosia! It fits great and I love it. I made the 37.5 inch size. I usually wear a 36 inch size but I wanted it to be a little oversized. The sleeves are long-ish so I can turn up the cuff or if my hands and wrists need extra warmth I can wear them down. There is plenty of positive ease, at least a couple of inches which is perfect for a layering piece. I wouldn't want it to be fitted or snug.

Ambrosia is the epitome of comfy and cozy knitwear. I highly recommend Gudrun's lovely, well-written pattern. This is a fun and practical one to add to your wardrobe. Definitely check it out.

After Ambrosia flew off my needles I cast on another sweater called Solja by Anna Maltz

I'll fill you in on all of the Solja details very soon! 

Don't forget the giant giveaway coming later in the week. I hope your summer if off to a wonderful and sunny start.
xo ~ susan