My Vortex Street Pullover, from Nora Gaughan’s Knitting Nature, is completed. I recently returned from a trip to the (freezing cold) Orkneys and this sweater kept me warm and dry. Though it’s a bit longer than I would like, it still works. My aran cables aren’t as bold as the ones in the book, but I’m still happy with it. Excuse the rumpled look of the sweater– I was hiking in it.

I used Peruvian Highland Wool from Elann.com– and I changed my needles from a 7 to a 6 because I was starting to knit rather loosely. I changed the armholes so that they are shallower than called for in the pattern. I also omitted the roll neck.


Liza in the red sweater, originally uploaded by velvetdahlia.

I knit this sweater a couple of years ago. It’s alternating chunky cotton ribbon yarn and 4 ply cotton which produces an interesting texture. I crocheted around the neckline.  I used a pattern from a schoeller stahl book I have since misplaced.

I never liked how it looked on me, but it looks great on my friend Liza, who is wearing it here.  We were at the Chelsea Physic Garden, in case you were wondering.

She’s closed it with a pin, which is a great idea because it actually used to fall open quite often.

liza in the red sweater

Spicy Tee, originally uploaded by velvetdahlia.

Here I am modeling the tee. I really recommend this pattern, which is from Stephanie Japel’s Fitted Knits.

Here’s the back:

spicy tee, back


This is my version of the “Spicy Tee” from Stephanie Japel’s Fitted Knits . back.jpg

Here you can see the shaping at the back. It does fit me amazingly well. From looking at the flickr group devoted to this book you can see that the name of this book is pretty appropriate. Everyone’s designs fit them really well. I promise a picture of me modeling this soon.

This design is very similar to some of the tees in Teva Durham’s book– they are knit from the top down with decorative shaping in chunky, earthy yarn. But unlike Durham’s tees that come in one “stretch to fit” size, these designs can be modified from shoulder to hem, adding and subtracting stitches in the round.

I modified the pattern a bit to fit me, but also I made the sleeves cap sleeves and abbreviated the garter stitch ribbing. I was using Rowan “Holiday”– a cotton ribbon-like yarn that is basically a stretchy core inside a gauzy ribbon. I knew it was going to be hard to work with, but it was on sale at Liberty and I liked that it was this chunky, stretchy yarn. But it really was unlovely– splitting, fraying and getting caught on everything. I was irritated that my earthy-funky sweater looked too “Rowan”– ie– a West London boho lady-who-lunches. I really wanted it to look more like something Lt. Uhura might wear if she was, well, going to Ladyfest Bristol or something.


I actually realized I would run out of the dustly plum, without having done the sleeves or neck, so I ordered some day-glo chunky from Texere. Lately I’ve been obsessed with this idea of using day glo as a trim on something earthy looking, like searing pink and moss brown as a color combo, or tweedy grey and acid yellow. I thought hell— plum and synth orange? Why not.

It reminds me a little of the stuff the used to sell at Cyberdog in Camden in the late 90’s. When I first saw those soft-armor pieces, all intended for black light, I was pretty turned on by it all. I know neon is “in” right now, and I don’t care. I intend to make it my own.

While I was traveling by train in the Netherlands and Germany, I knit this bolero/shrug for my friend Liza who dubbed it “The Shrug of Destiny”.

In the haberdashery section of John Lewis, we were both seduced by a Noro silk garden colorway I’d never seen before. Liza described the style of shrug she wanted– something that would cross over the bust and have bell sleeves, similar to a sweater I knit for myself out of Colinette.

Liza wearing the shrug

Here is a picture of Liza wearing the shrug– we were at Kew Gardens where all the flowers seemed to match some color in the wool.

shrug being blocked

I knit it using the top-down raglan formula, knitting extra width in the front to allow the cross-over shape which would be generous enough to accommodate the leaf shawl fastener. I decreased to make the front a bit curved.

shrug, blocked, close up

Here you can see a close up of the fashioning on the front and the leaf fastening.

When she first tried it on, it was too large beneath the bust. I hadn’t added any shaping, thinking that cinching the front would bring it in enough, but I was mistaken. So I ripped back about 20 rows and added mirrored decreases in the center back. I probably could have added a few decreases in the middle front of the closure “flaps”. If I knit this style again, I would definitely do that– or if the sweather doesn’t wear well (I’ve found silk garden sometimes loosens up with wear, like cotton) I will rip it back and add these additional decreases.

I think she was very happy with it! It’s satisfying to make something and know the person is actually going to wear it. I think it suits her very well.

R2 Fuzzy felt jumper

I love R2 Fuzzy Felt. When I knew Rowan were discontinuing it, I bought as much as I could afford at the time– ten balls of the green and a huge cone of the “red” which is really more of a coral. That massive cone has gathered dust for a while, and I finally decided I wasn’t going to felt it but instead just make a cozy jumper using the seamless Zimmerman method. It was a lot of fun to make, as the bottom up seamless method is very freeing. You can play around and make decisions as you go.

I love Teva Durham’s mock cable vest-, but I’ve tried to knit it a couple times and after having to make major adjustments to make it large enough, I gave up. This has been the way with every Teva pattern I’ve tried to knit, so I am no longer using her patterns. Instead I decided to design my own jumper which would have a similar feel, but would be all mine, and would be big enough to fit me with some ease.

I started with a sketch of the shape. I knew I wanted long, wide sleeves and a deep, square neck. I swatched the seed-pod cable pattern, and loved the way purling looked in the Fuzzy Felt. Have I mentioned how much I love this nubbly-soft yarn? It’s the coziest and has a kind of messed-up, mysterious texture. But I regular ribbing for the cuffs and hem looked pretty crap. So I swatched a slip stitch rib and it looked really awesome, and gave the fabric a nice stiffness. I used that slip stitch cable on the sides and back to add interest.

I had to knit the neck three times. Lately my necks have been too high, so of course I made this one way too low and too loose. I ended up having to rip this out and re-do it three times until it was right. Luckily, I love picking up and knitting, so this was no big deal, really.

The only drawback is now it’s getting to warm to wear! I’ll have to pack it away until fall– but then I’m sure I’ll be happy I have it.

knitted jumper close up