Ondawa Sweater!

Hi, guys! Hope your weeks are all off to a great start! And I hope you had wonderful Easter and/or Passover celebrations, if you celebrate!

Michele Wang Ondawa | Ginger Makes

Today I’m ushering in spring with, well, a sweater! OK, OK, so this isn’t really spring apparel, but I should still be able to wear this for a few weeks before the summer heat sets in. :)

Ondawa | Ginger Makes

The pattern I used is Ondawa by Michele Wang. I’m a huge fan of her designs– they’re complex, unique, and absolutely beautiful. Obviously, Ondawa is no exception! I love cables, all cables, but these are extraordinarily pretty!

Ondawa | Ginger Makes

The construction of this sweater is a bit unusual. The front and back are knitted as flat panels and are identical. Once you’ve knit the first panel, the second goes by in a flash because you’ve already got the stitch patterns memorized! The sleeves are also knitted flat and set in after the sides are seamed up. The front and back are seamed at the shoulders so you can decide how wide you want the boatneck to be, which is nice. Now that I’ve worn this a bit, I think I may bring in the neckline a touch more… it’s cool that I can easily do that!

Ondawa | Ginger Makes

The pattern is fun to knit and kept me interested without being too complicated. I got confused a few times with the direction of the smaller cables and had to rip them back, but it wasn’t the end of the world. I also made a silly math mistake and knit an extra 12 rows on the first panel, so I repeated that on the second. As a result, the sweater is a few inches longer than the pattern intended, but I actually prefer it to be a bit longer (I just didn’t intentionally lengthen it because I was worried about running out of yarn). So I’m really happy with the finished length! I knit the second smallest size, which should have given me about 13″ of ease, in case that’s helpful to anyone.

Ondawa | Ginger Makes

I tried a new yarn for this, O-Wool Balance in graphite. It’s a 50/50 blend of organic cotton and merino, which makes for a really soft and wearable yarn. I love 100% wool yarns, but I’m hoping that the cotton content will make the sweater a bit cooler for spring and fall so I can wear it to death! I really like this yarn and will definitely use it again. I’m so happy to use a brand that carefully sources its fibers so you can be sure that it’s cruelty-free. The price point is higher than what I usually pay for yarn, but it’s worth it (to me) for an organic, animal-friendly yarn that’s produced here on the east coast.

Ondawa | Ginger Makes

Now, the sweater is really boxy, so it may not be the most attractive garment I’ve ever worn, but I really like it and feel quite cozy in it. I’m not in love with the back view (the fabric sort of flaps out a bit, like a built-in cape!) but I don’t have to see myself from the back, so that’s fine! Overall I’m seriously into this sweater and am so pleased that I was able to finish it up in time to get some wear out of it! Now tell me, are you knitting anything right now? Are you into fitted sweaters, or are you a “wearable blanket” gal like me???

Ginger Made: Hestapeysa (Sweater with Horses)

Guys! Look at my ridiculous sweater!!!!!

Hestapeysa | Ginger Makes

It’s huge and puffy, it’s totally shapeless, fits kinda weird and is overall pretty ridiculous, but I love it! But wait, let me give you the back story!

Hestapeysa | Ginger Makes

This sweater’s story starts back in July, when Man Friend and I spent a week in Iceland. You guys. Iceland. It’s amazing- absolutely beautiful, unique, and just… amazing. All the people we met were warm and kind, and to top it all off, they wore incredible hand-knitted sweaters! I was sorely tempted to buy a sweater at the Handknitting Association of Iceland, and while the price was great for something handmade (about 115USD with the exchange rate while we were there), it was just a bit more than I wanted to spend. SO, I decided to take a stab at knitting one myself, even though I hadn’t been knitting much at the time and had never tried colorwork. Now, the one major downside of visiting Iceland is that it’s EXPENSIVE (to Americans, anyway… maybe costs don’t seem as high tof European visitors). Food, lodging, clothing, everything was really costly… except for yarn! I purchased the yarn and two patterns for about 30USD… cheaper than I could possibly source 100% wool yarn anywhere in the States! You can also find knitted items and yarn for sale everywhere- gift shops, drugstores, grocery stores! Crazy!

There were quite a few patterns to choose from, but I knew I wanted this one: Hestapeysa (sweater with horses). It’s available as a free download, in English, if you want one of your own! Dudes, I was one of those little kids obsessed with horses for as long as I can remember. I actually got a pony when I was maybe 7 (long story short, my dad found an ad in the paper for a $75 pony… the only catch was that it had never been touched by a human hand!) and the highlight of my childhood was pretending like I was winning the Kentucky Derby or riding for the Pony Express. So when we spent a morning riding horseback in the Icelandic hills and valleys, I was on cloud nine! I wanted to make a horse sweater to commemorate what was, honestly, one of the happiest days of my life!

Fun fact: when the folks at the horse farm found out I’d grown up riding a pony, they got really excited to find me a horse that would be “really fun”. I’m missing the fear normal people have around large animals, but even I got nervous when they told me that the horse’s name, Rody, was an old Viking word that meant “blood smear”. They insisted that the name referred to his color rather than any murderous tendencies, but still! Rody was a bit crazy, but awesome, and we had a great time together- he was a lot like a NYC driver in that he loved tailgating and wanted to pass every other horse in order to go faster!

OK, OK, I could go on about horses for hours, but I’ll get back to the sweater! The yarn is Ístex Létt-Lopi, which is aran weight, so it knits up pretty quickly. I knew I wanted to use kinda natural colors for the sweater, so I chose acorn heather and light beige heather. But I liked the idea of using an unnatural color (for horses), so I picked blue for them. The blue horses really make me smile! The yarn is really warm and is a bit itchy, so I’ll always wear this with something underneath it. There’s just one women’s size, meant to be about 43″ at the chest, but my gauge was a bit tighter, and I calculated that I would end up with about 40″, giving me 6″ of ease, which seemed right (you can see my Ravelry project here, if you like those sort of details).

Hestapeysa | Ginger Makes

I had no idea how to get started with stranded knitting, so I reached out to Sarah from Knit York City, one of the most skilled knitters that I know. She pointed me in the direction of this post from Ysolda Teague explaining color dominance. I was still confused about how to hold yarn when you have more than one color, but I found this totally helpful post from Tasha at By Gum By Golly and it gave me the confidence to dive in. I decided to hold one color in each hand, knitting continental (like I usually do) with the left-hand yarn and English-style with the right. It was a little tricky at first, but got easier quickly. This Knitty post by Theresa Vinson Stenerson really helped me sort out the floats. I definitely didn’t keep my tension even throughout the yoke- I was worried after I’d knit the horses that they were too tight, so I really loosened up my floats above them and those stitches look a bit wonky and loose. But oh well! I’ll have a better idea next time!

I started knitting this in October and was pretty slow. I picked it back up over New Year’s, joined the sleeves to the body mid-month, and then sped through the colorwork in a week. It’s just so fun to see the pattern develop- I stayed up past my bedtime nearly every night because I just wanted to do a few more rows! Colorwork looks really complicated, but once you’ve figured out how to hold the yarn, it’s easy to keep track of where you are in the chart and you’re just knitting stockinette in the round, so it’s really pretty quick compared to anything cabled.

Hestapeysa | Ginger Makes

The sweater is a little crazy, and dude, it is WARM. My face and hands were cold when I was taking these photos, but I was otherwise completely comfortable (and it was about 20F!). If you’re not familiar with this kind of knitting, the color you’re not knitting with gets carried behind your stitches, so the yoke is a double thickness of yarn. Also, the sweater is so bulky that I’m wearing a flannel buttondown underneath it in these photos and you can’t even tell! Oh, I should probably mention the hat, which is also handmade. This was a quick knit with a single skein of Cascade Eco Cloud I’ve had in my stash for a long time- I thought the color would go nicely with my furry Gerard. You guys, Eco Cloud is SO soft and nice! It’s a chainette yarn made of merino & alpaca, so it looks really cool knit up and is really springy and squishy. Plus, the colorway is named “Bunny”! I used another free download, the Mock Rib Watch Cap. It’s very, very easy and would be a great first hat project!

Hestapeysa | Ginger Makes

OK, tell me- do you knit? What’s on your needles? Any favorite patterns or recent projects? Were you a horse-crazy kid like me? Would you get on a horse named “Bloodsmear”?

Ginger Made: Honey Cardigan

Here’s something you don’t see very often around here: a knitted garment! It’s also something else that you don’t see here very often: a made-by-me garment that I hate!

Things went wrong with this sweater from the very beginning. You see, I made the rookie mistake of choosing a pattern because I thought the stitch pattern was really pretty without even considering the fact that this isn’t a style that I like to wear. I don’t like cardigans and I really don’t like fitted sweaters. But when I started knitting this nearly 2.5 years ago (!), I didn’t have as firm of a grasp on my personal style and couldn’t have articulated exactly what I like to wear. That may sound funny, but it’s only very recently that I’ve really felt like I dress the way I like to. I’ve always hated shopping, have lived in big cities since I was 18 where shopping is chaotic and unpleasant, and was always on a tight budget, so I sort of grabbed whatever was cheap and quick instead of thinking about what I feel good wearing. Silly, I know!

The pattern is the Honey Cardigan by Veera Valimaki (Ravelry link here). When I first began knitting, I was really attracted to Veera’s designs. They are lovely, modern designs that are fun to knit and always look so cool. My original plan was to make this in a great gold color, so I bought Quince & Co. Lark in “honey”. But when I swatched for the sweater, I didn’t like how the fabric looked when I knit to gauge, so I discarded that plan (the yarn eventually turned into my Bough hat and Guernsey wrap, so it didn’t go to waste, luckily). I had enough Cascade 220 in “charcoal” to make the sweater (according to Ravelry, I bought this yarn in 2010, yikes!), so I cast on in that, finished all but one sleeve, and then let it sit for two years.

After finishing my Ginger jeans, I started to feel guilty about my stack of unfinished projects, so I pulled out this sweater and decided to finish it. I didn’t like the way the first sleeve looked, so I unraveled it and started over, following the instructions for the sleeve from the Effortless cardigan (here’s my finished sweater). I’d felt that the sleeves were a little short when I made that sweater, so I lengthened them by 1″, but they still feel too short.

At the end of the day, I’m just not into this sweater. I love the way the cables pop out of the reverse stockinette, but otherwise I’m just not feeling it! I don’t like the way the i-cord edging looks, although I suspect I may have screwed it up as it rolls under on the center front edges and out on the hem edges (huh?). And I don’t like that it only buttons at the top. And I don’t like how tight it is at the upper chest. And I really, really don’t like that I had to use such huge buttons. The buttonholes are made by knitting unattached i-cord, and then reattaching, so it forms loops. Buttons that look proportional slip through the loops, even with a substantial yarn shank, so I dug these huge buttons out of my stash (pretty sure I cut them off my thoroughly-trashed peacoat after it bit the dust), and I think they look crafty and cheap. Yuck!

This isn’t a failure of the pattern or even of the (admittedly boring) yarn… I just totally failed to think this through before starting in on it. Luckily, I’ve gotten much better about understanding what I like when it comes to sewing, so I very, very rarely have finished garments that I don’t like. Hopefully I’ll get a little bit smarter about choosing the right knitting projects in the future! But at least I finished this and got it out of my UFO pile, and it will be finding a new home with my mom or sister soon!

Before I go, I need to announce the winner of the Fabric for Fashion: The Swatch Book giveaway! There were 258 responses, and the winner, chosen by Random.org, was Kristin Bard. Congrats, Kristin! I’m emailing you now. :)

Alright, guys, ‘fess up. What was the last thing you made that you don’t really like? Have you ever been silly enough to make something that’s not your style at all?


Ginger Made: Effortless Cardigan, or, the Cozy Grandpa

OH, HEY, LOOK, IT’S SNOWING AGAIN! YAYYYYYY UGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH…..  Guys.  Enough with this winter.  ENOUGH.  I’m standing on a two-foot snowbank here, or at least, what I’m hoping is a two-foot snowbank and not a pile of trash covered in snow.  (Fun fact: in NYC, at least in the outer boroughs, garbage trucks are used as snowplows, so it’s been weeks [WEEKS!] since the garbage has been picked up.  Luckily you and your neighbors get to eyeball everyone’s leavings and speculate about their Coke/beer/gallon-jug-of-olive-oil consumption.  Seriously, how do those people down the block have MULTIPLE gallon drums of olive oil in their trash?  Do they drink it instead of morning coffee?) Effortless Cardigan by Ginger Makes If there’s a silver bullet for lousy weather, it’s knitwear!  There’s something so comforting about a hand-knitted sweater, isn’t there?  It’s the perfect antidote for February sadness.  I’m not a very fast knitter, but it’s fun to do during long evenings (and means that all the hours I’ve spent watching Torchwood this winter aren’t a total waste). Effortless Cardigan by Ginger Makes First things first, this squishy Berroco Vintage was a gift from the lovely and talented Stephanie at Makes the Things!  She offered to send me some goodies that she was destashing, and I gratefully snapped them up!  It’s not a color that I would have chosen myself, but I thought it would look great with my ever-present blue jeans.  Now that it’s done, I really like the color!  As an added bonus, it looks nice with my Bough hat!  Thank you SO MUCH, Steph! Effortless Cardigan by Ginger Makes I’d never used Vintage, which is a blend of wool, acrylic, and nylon, and I wasn’t sure how well it would react to blocking (since natural fibers block happily, but man-mades generally don’t), so I wanted to avoid a project with cables or lace.  Hannah Fettig’s Effortless Cardigan is a super popular pattern, but I wasn’t the least bit interested in it until I saw Ping’s oh-so-gorgeous version.  She described her sweater as a “wearable blanket”… ummmmm, yes, please!  I knew immediately after seeing her cardigan that this yarn would become one. Effortless Cardigan by Ginger Makes It’s a top-down raglan cardigan with acres of stockinette, so it was pretty straightforward knitting.  It came together quickly- I knit the majority of it over my Christmas vacation, and finished the rest in spare moments here and there.  It actually blocked nicely, which was a pleasant surprise.  I HATED how it looked when I finished knitting it- the ribbing looked so gross- but everything smoothed out after a serious wet blocking.  I lengthened the body by 1″ and the sleeves by 0.5″, but I wish I’d lengthened the sleeves more.  It’s not the end of the world, though.  Those were the only alterations I made. Effortless Cardigan by Ginger Makes I asked Man Friend if I looked like someone’s grandpa when I was wearing this, and he replied, “A little bit… but, a cozy grandpa”.  I guess I don’t mind looking like a cozy grandpa! Effortless Cardigan by Ginger Makes What are you guys up to lately?  Friends in the Northern Hemisphere, are you busy knitting?  What are the rest of you up to?  I’ve been sewing and sewing and sewing lately, but between secret pattern testing, sewing for a friend, a future Mood Sewing Network project, and a slew of started-but-not-finished projects, I don’t have anything sew-y to show you.  Hopefully I’ll have some finished garments (and some organization in my sewing space) coming up soon! Effortless Cardigan by Ginger Makes

Ginger Made: Bough Hat + Guernsey Wrap!

What’s up, party dudes?!  This post is a bit out of the ordinary for me– finished knitted garments, what?!  I haven’t done much knitting in the last couple of years, but when I started taking the subway to work a few months ago, I had an itch to pick it up again!

Bough Hat + Guernsey Wrap-- Ginger Makes

A long time ago, I started up a sweater in Quince & Co.’s Lark in “Honey”.  I didn’t really like how it was turning out, so I frogged it and let it sit.  In my haste to start knitting again, I grabbed this yarn and cast on for Brooklyn Tweed‘s Guernsey Wrap without checking the gauge or anything (bad girl!).  As it turns out, I was knitting at about 20.5 stitches/4″ (instead of the recommended 14 stitches/4″), so my finished width is only 13″ after a serious blocking.  Since it was immediately clear that this would be more of a scarf than a wrap, I added an extra repeat of chart A and chart C for some additional length, making my final scarf 77″ long.  I toyed with the idea of seaming the ends to make a cowl, but it’s nice to be able to wear this as a scarf so I can wrap it tighter or looser depending on my mood (and the weather).  Maybe someday I’ll knit another one to the correct proportions, but I’m not at all disappointed in the outcome with this one.  I was just so excited to start knitting and didn’t want to waste any time with math and calculations!

Bough Hat + Guernsey Wrap-- Ginger Makes

The yarn was an internet purchase, and I was a little disappointed in the color when it arrived.  That was the main reason I frogged the sweater– I thought the olive-y color looked gross next to my skin tone.  So here I am, two years later, making a hat and scarf to wear right next to my face… go figure!  The only thing I can think of is that maybe it looks better on me now that I’ve started working indoors– I’m much paler than I used to be, and less green! It’s not the most flattering color in the world, but it looks nice with both my grey and my navy coats.  For more inspiration in this color, check out Gail‘s gorgeous sweater here!

Bough Hat + Guernsey Wrap-- Ginger Makes

Guernsey Wrap is a really nice pattern and was a great one for jumping back into knitting.  It’s a charted pattern, but it’s easy to follow.  It looks really lovely and complicated, but the stitch patterns consist of only knit and purl stitches (great for commuter knitting– no pesky cable needles to deal with!).  I didn’t realize it was so simple when I downloaded it, but I’m so glad I did.  It’s really pretty!

Brooklyn Tweed Guernsey Wrap-- Ginger Makes

After I finished the wrap, I wanted a matching hat, so I knit up Brooklyn Tweed‘s gorgeous Bough pattern.  This pattern is so cute and was really fun to make, so much so that I made a second version for my sister in Malabrigo worsted for a Christmas gift (forgot to take a picture of it on her, but it’s really nice in soft, fuzzy Malabrigo!).  I didn’t make any changes to the pattern at all and I really like it (although I might cast on fewer stitches for the ribbing next time around… it’s a tiny bit loose…).  The tree of life pattern is really cool– I’m hoping to make the matching cowl at some point.  I finished off both hats with pompoms made using a large Clover Pom Pom Maker.  I’d never made them before and heard that the pom pom maker was really fast and easy, so I picked one up.  I made huge, fluffy pom poms in just a couple of minutes!  So fun!  I kind of want to make 100 of them and tie them to the pugs!

Bough Hat + Guernsey Wrap-- Ginger Makes

Gah! Look at that bobble! I love it!

Now that I’ve started knitting again, I’m totally hooked!  I’m midway through a sweater and can’t stop thinking about future knitting projects!  What about you?  Knitting anything things days?  Want to learn, but not sure where to start?  If so, I recommend (again!) checking out Gail’s blog– she did a great series walking you through the (FREE!) Miette cardigan pattern from start to finish.

Bough Hat + Guernsey Wrap-- Ginger Makes

Major benefit of a 6.5′ scarf– you can go full ninja on the coldest days!

Ginger Made: Chunky Monkey Vest

Hold the phone… I finally FINISHED something???  I’m seriously in the middle of about five projects right now (sewing ADHD much?!?!), so with a little encouragement from Man Friend (“Um, wouldn’t it be nice to be done with one project?”), I got my act together and finished up this little vest (pardon the terrible picture– it’s been dark and disgusting the last couple of days).

This is the Chunky Monkey Baby/Toddler Vest from The Brown Stitch, and it’s a lovely little knit for the (tiny) men in your life.  It’s FAST– I knitted the thing in about two afternoons (the only holdup was buying and sewing on the buttons), so it makes a perfect last-minute gift.  I used the recommended yarn, Cascade 128 superwash chunky, which is reallly soft as well as machine-washable, so it’s ideal for baby garments.

I’m a bit late with this gift– the baby was actually born in January (oops!), but better late than never, right?  But his family is very near and dear to us– his dad is one of our oldest childhood friends, and I actually introduced this friend to his wife, so we’re extra fond of this little guy and his big brother.  His dad is a big fan of the Chicago Bears, as are Man Friend and I, so I sort of slyly inserted the Bears’ navy and orange into the color scheme.  He’ll be the dressiest little dude on game day!

What are you guys up to?  Did you have good weekends?  I had back-to-back parties Thursday and Friday nights, plus a friend’s concert Saturday night (he put together a band to play all of T. Rex’s Electric Warrior live… it was RAD).  I have one last crazy week at work before we wrap, so I probably won’t have as much time to sew as I’d like, but I’m really excited to dive into my projects next week!  I’m a bit behind on my blogroll lately, so please forgive my lack of commenting.  I’m looking forward to catching up soon!

I’m Baaaaack + Dwarf Fortress Hat

Hi, guys!  Thank you all for your advice and kind words after I posted about feeling exhausted— I took some time for myself and am feeling much more relaxed and rejuvenated now.  I even took a long weekend away!  I went to Utah this past weekend to do a little skiing with the Man Friend, his brother, his best friend, and some old friends of the Family Man Friend (yes, as usual, it was me surrounded by a thundering herd of bros… sigh…).  Dude overdose aside, we had a great time, and enjoyed the heaps and heaps of powder snow that fell from the heavens without ceasing the whole time we were there!

I’m a bit of a newbie when it comes to skiing (learned a couple of years ago?), but the boys are old pros and I HATE to lag behind, so I fall.  A LOT.  Like this:

Wait, I'm supposed to remain upright on the skis at ALL times?

Or like this:

Hooray for helmets!

Wait a minute… after reviewing the photos from the weekend, there isn’t a single one of me actually SKIING!  Don’t worry– there’s a large collection of me collapsed in various sad poses.  Thanks a lot, husbie [SHAKES FIST AT THE SKY]!

Because I’m a good sister-in-law, I made a little gift for my bro-in-law.  His obsession over the last year or so has been a game called Dwarf Fortress.  Don’t ask me to explain what it is or how you play it– I’m not THAT good of a sister-in-law (and I black out when people explain things for longer than, oh, 9 seconds?).  All I know is that there is a little dwarf-y guy that’s a big deal, and b-i-l loves to use it as his avatar for stuff, so I decided to make him a little hat with the design.

Look out, there are dwarves! Right there! On your head!!

It looks a little crummy here, but it’s a bit nicer in person.  I used Cascade 220, my old stand-by, and just did the dwarf design in duplicate stitch.  If anyone wants the pattern, I’d be happy to write it up.

And yes, ladies, he's single. With a motorcycle.

So yeah… a nice and easy, dumb project… it felt good to make something silly!

What are you guys up to this weekend?  Any fun plans or projects?  I finally caught up with my bursting-at-the-seams blogroll today– you guys have been BUSY!  And have been cranking out some cool stuff!  It’s been really fun checking in with everybody to see what you’ve been up to!


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