Thursday, December 6, 2007

Neptune grows

Originally uploaded by Working Dog Smokey
Well, my photography skills and my camera don't really do this justice. But, I'm roughly 6" into the front of my Neptune/Button Back, and really in love with the way the yarns are coming together. The cotton nerimaki slub, which was a bit of a whim purchase at Habu's stall at the 2007 Stitches East in Baltimore, MD, has become, probably, my favorite yarn in this mix. You can see it in this photo as the lighter brown/red/mauve stitches in the center of the swatch. The thicker bits add textural interest.

I remain a bit ambivalent about how the charcoal Tsumugi silk looks worked in with the other colors (it's most clearly visible in this photo on the far left). I think its colors may be too cold compared to the other colors of yarn I'm using. I just remind myself that it's easy to overanalyze a piece this size. When it's a full garment, I think the whole will be greater than the sum of its parts.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Button Back Finished

Hi All - finished my Button Back today. I thought I would post a photo (sorry about the quality) of the front, as there is no representation of the front on the pattern. It was a bit bland, so I made a patch pocket & used one of the Skif buttons on it. I also did a hybrid Neptune/Button Back by sewing a bit of the way down the back & using 2 buttons. I have mixed feelings about the finished product. It's not all that flattering on me, but very cozy, more like wearing a big sweatshirt. I chose an organic cotton that is a bit chunky, so if I do this sweater again, I will use a lighter weight yarn & definitely mix it up a bit more with some other yarns, as Skif suggests. I'm not sure I'm all that crazy about wearing the purl side as the outside, but then you wouldn't have the cool roll in the back. I love the idea of really taking a design & making it your own, as Skif encourages. I think the Habu yarns would have been more appropriate, even Noro, maybe. Happy knitting! -- Cara

Monday, November 26, 2007


I finished seaming Zena Thursday night. I'm very happy with the results.

Recall that I knit this with 2 strands of Habu A-33 Merino (one black, one a light olive) and one strand of Habu Silk Mohair hand-dyed Kasuri in green. The resulting fabric is very open and drapey, but the mohair makes it less transparent and gives it some body.

I made a few changes to the pattern:
  • After several attempts, I gave up trying to make the collar by picking up the stitches on each side. It just looked messy. I had even knitted several inches of the back before deciding to rip back and simply re-knit the back of the collar as a separate flap and then seam the three parts together later.
  • I did not use the larger needle on the sleeves, as directed, nor did I switch to a smaller needle for the last 4 inches.
  • I knitted the sleeves with the knit side, rather than the purl side called for in the pattern.
    Also, I knitted the sleeves flat because I my circs weren't flexible enough to magic loop and I wasn't into DPNs.
  • The sides and sleeves were joined with invisible seams using a sportweight yarn from the stash that had similar colors.
As previously mentioned here, the pattern was a bit of a challenge given the errors and the quirky wording, but it was well worth the effort.

I truly love Zena. It is the perfect foil for the Habu yarns, as many of us suspected.

I had planned to knit Neptune using the A-33 and silk mohair with a strand of Shosenshi Paper, but I'm thinking that combination might be more appropriate with Jess. Fun things to ponder.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


Originally uploaded by Working Dog Smokey
I like the look of the resulting fabric (it's the Habu super fine merino and tsumagi silk and some laceweight cashmere from Hunt Valley Cashmere). The drape isn't quite what I want. My gauge is tight, but I don't think I want to go up a needle size because I'm not convinced I'll like the resulting fabric. I'll probably just modify the pattern to support this gauge (and, at the same time, make the sweater somewhat smaller).


Originally uploaded by Working Dog Smokey
Apologies, I'm trying to work out blogging pictures (and have turned out to be more of a luddite than I thought in this regard). These are the yarns I think I'll be using for Button Back

Friday, November 23, 2007

Zena is Finished!

Photographs, however, are another matter.

Additional photos and details to follow soon...

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Understanding Skif Patterns

I am one of the Skif knitters. I am responsible for helping write the new Skif Hand Knit patterns. We are so excited about this adventure. Skif sweaters are so much fun to wear. I would like to ask you to tell me any problems you are encountering with these patterns and I will do my best to help. We tried to keep the patterns very easy to read and would like your imput.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Corrected Patterns

As those of you who purchased your SKIF patterns online from ShopKnits are aware (including Christine from the comments to a previous post), corrected patterns were sent to their customers recently. We didn't even have to ask! Thanks, ShopKnits!

I hope everyone else is having pleasant experiences regarding their corrected patterns.

As to the actual corrections, I glanced through Zena and it appears several numbers have changed, but I'm too far along to bother analyzing it. At least, I'll have the presumably correct numbers for Neptune.

As far as I can see, there were no updates to the instructions for clarity, which is too bad.

I think we can all agree--SKIF designs are awesome; SKIF patterns, not so much.

But, at least they're getting better. Thanks, SKIF!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Neptunes are in!!!

Yes, believe your eyes. I got my shipment of corrected patterns Monday. I'm back on my swatching! I've got some laceweight hand-dyed alpaca that I'm going to hold with some mercerized cotton this time, since I didn't like my first swatch. Heck. Maybe I'll just knit a bunch of SKIFs, all the while trying different combinations! I don't have the Mateo and Bellagio yet...the Bellagio is men's pullover, the Mateo is the cardigan.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


I received an email from Donna of Deep South Fibers, the distributor of SKIF patterns. She alerts us to the following:

FYI…..Skif patterns have been corrected and are being distributed to retailers today. Folks are encouraged to re-visit their LYS or on-line source for a corrected copy of the pattern(s). Corrected versions will not include the hardware.

Also, she mentioned that there are two new SKIF patterns: Mateo, a cardigan, and Bellagio, a man's pullover. Hmmm...with the name "Mateo", perhaps both are men's patterns.

Lastly, Donna would like to join our KAL! She will bring along some insider knowledge and be a direct source of contact with the designer. Welcome, Donna!

Saturday, October 20, 2007


So, once I've got a few WIP's completed, this

should turn into a Neptune (or button back, as the case may be...)

(Apologies, I can't figure out how to import the photo.. Rgh...)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Irreconcilable differences

Zena and I have agreed to separate – temporarily. It just isn’t working out the way I’d imagined. There are issues and setbacks that I can’t be bothered with.
I need a break.
I’m giving it a week or two. I truly hope we can work things out by then.
If not, there’s someone else, waiting for me - Neptune. Or Jess.
A girl should always have options.

Monday, October 1, 2007

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Zeeeennnaaa...

Well, just a little, really.

I have miles and miles and stockinette stitch to do before I can even start on the sleeves.
Still, it's progress.

I've made my peace with the Zena pattern, problem child that it is. Aside from the obvious mistakes, the pattern isn't written in the standard knitting language we all know and love. The terminology is vague and the syntax is weird. I would be quite suprised to learn that it was test knitted at all. Or edited. However, I'm happy to know that SKIF is aware of the problems and appears to be acting upon them (Thanks, Teri!).

So, in the mean time, if you remain calm and draw upon your previous sweater knitting experience and focus on the schematics (which appear to be accurate, so far), it is possible to muddle through and come up with results that are similar, at least, to your expectations. At least that's been my experience, so far.

After all, the Habu loves this pattern and that's what's important!

Cross posted at Knitopolis.

Friday, September 28, 2007

SKIF Pattern Corrections Coming

I spoke with Donna from Deep South Fibers today about the pattern errata. Can I just say that she could not have been nicer about the situation. She understood right away that there appeared to be errors in the patterns and offered to contact the SKIF designer immediately. They truly hadn't realized that the patterns contained errors.

Donna called me back so quick with the news that Nina (SKIF designer) is taking over the pattern control herself and is busily working on corrections. We're going to receive all new prints of the patterns and SKIF will post an errata page as well.

I truly like the way SKIF encourages you to add your own creativity to the designs. But having a correct pattern to begin with is important.

I'm looking forward to more SKIF designs.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Going with the flow

I've decided to take SKIF's advice and relax, feel free... and just go with the natural flow.
So I'm knitting the back from the bottom up as opposed to joining the collars together and working my way down.
Because, really, when the designer says: Don't worry, you will love everything about your super sweater, who am I to argue?

Friday, September 21, 2007

Houston, we MAY have a problem...

I never trust myself, so will someone with the Zena pattern read through the first few sections and tell me if I'm interpreting them correctly. The way I'm reading things, the stated number of stitches to cast on is incorrect--off by 11 stitches, in fact! Anyone else coming up with that?

Sunday, September 9, 2007


I'm a few inches into Zena.

I wish I could knit faster.

(Cross-posted at Knitopolis )

(and LOOK, a SKIF Flickr group!)

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Habu Swatches

For days, I've been scheming in my head over what yarn to use for my SKIF patterns. Finally, I decided to see if I could do any swatching from my small Habu stash. I picked out some linen paper, silk-mohair, and laceweight merino--just using the colors I had on hand--and knitted a couple of small rectangles on US9 needles. (Why US9?--they're the only ones I could find--grrrrr... I have no idea where all my needles are hiding, but I digress...)

First, a strand each of black merino, green silk mohair, and natural linen paper.

Granted, it's a bit of a odd combination, but I simply adore the results. Oh, and It looks so much better in person, trust me. My five-year-old camera has not been performing well lately.
Anyway, I think this would be good for Neptune. It's very light, quite warm, and has a beautiful halo--not that you can see that, nor the beautiful colors in silk mohair yarn. The fabric is slightly crisp, but it drapes far more than I thought it would. I like the color combination, but, ultimately, I want to go with darker tones--a blue/black theme--charcoal , ink silk-mohair, and either black, blue, or green merino.

Second, two strands of merino--one black, one light olive--and one strand of green silk mohair.

I like this swatch very much--definitely for Zena. I love the feel of it. I can't stop fondling it--I'm like Lobo in Bride of the Monster.

I'll probably cast-on Zena in the next day or two. I'll be going out on a limb since I don't have enough of the green silk mohair on hand, but keeping in the spirit of SKIF, I'm not going to worry about that.

(Cross-posted on Knitopolis)

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Neptune and Zena are here!

Ooooh--the SKIF patterns have arrived! They're a fun read, I won't spoil it everyone by posting too much information.

And what are those envelopes?

The Neptune pattern includes three industrial-style metal buttons, a tiny metal SKIF tag, and some stiff waxed cord for making the button closures. The pattern is started at the bottom front edge and worked to the bottom back (sleeves are worked separately).

The Zena pattern includes the SKIF tag and an industrial found object that you can flip over and attach to your finished sweater. Zena is worked similarly to Neptune, from the bottom front to the bottom of the back (although not continuously).

The patterns are very graphic; simple, but with a twist. They are designed for a worsted gauge (US8 needles), however, the knitter is encouraged to get the gauge by combining multiple strands of linen, silk, cotton, or merino. The ethos of SKIF appears to encompass playfulness, discovery, and utility.

Now, I want to see the other two patterns.
On to the swatches!

(Cross-posted at Knitopolis)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Welcome to the SKIF KAL

Do you love the free form sweater designs of SKIF International? Well, SKIF has published 4 new patterns for knitters that utilize the same urban minimalist sensibilities as their ready made lines.

These patterns have a raw, organic quality that calls out for textured, natural fibers, such as those produced by Habu Textiles. Edit: Or how about "found" or recycled fibers?

Let's consider this a proving ground for these SKIF designs and see where we can go.