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, 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: 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!

Ginger Made: Aidez (seriously, aidez-moi, s’il vous plait!)

I give up.  Here’s my Aidez sweater.  I started this thing last May, and finally finished it at the end of January.  In the land of perpetual darkness, I just couldn’t find the time to take pictures, and I wasn’t that happy with it, so that’s why you’re only seeing it now.  I’m kind of sad, because I loved this pattern when it came out, and it seemed like the perfect thing for me to throw on in the winter, but alas, it’s only so-so.

Maybe if I just casually stretch this thing all the time, it'll fit eventually!

It’s too small, even though I sized up (this is supposed to fit a 36″ bust, which I have…  in my dreams!!) to make sure that this would be nice and slouchy.  The armpits are too snug, which is really annoying.  It’s stretched a little bit since I started wearing it, but the armpit thing is pretty noticeable. Also, the arms run WAY small in this pattern– I had read that they are small, but I ignored this because I have skinny arms (I should probably buy a set of dumb bells before I turn into one of those noodle-armed old ladies that has to call a neighbor to open a jar of pickles for her).  They were SKIN TIGHT.  I can’t imagine how tight these would be if you actually worked out and had a little muscle tone!  Gals, what’s cozier than skin-tight scratchy wool?  AMIRITE???  I made them wearable by un-seaming the sleeves (harder than you would think) and picking up 8 stitches at the underarm.  I knit those 8 stitches into a panel the length of the sleeve and seamed either side of it to the existing sleeve to add some width.  That was time-consuming, but at least now they’re wearable.

What's that? You want to see photos of the back? Oh, we took them, and somehow they disappeared from the camera/computer, and I was too annoyed to do another photo shoot, so here's a second photo of me awkwardly trying to hold the sweater closed. Yay!

I knit this from the bottom up in one piece, then had to divide it when I got to the armpits.  The seaming actually wasn’t too bad– I generally avoid anything that needs seaming because I find it a bit tedious, but I could deal with this alright.  I used Cascade Eco Wool, which I’m finding too scratchy to wear next to my skin, so I can’t wear this with just a t-shirt underneath (which is how I would actually get use out of it).  I probably won’t get much wear out of this since I only have two long-sleeved t-shirts, and you can only wear a long sleeve tee AND a wool sweater on the coldest of days.  So yeah.  This project gets a “whatever” in my book… it’s not an abject failure, but it’s far from a win, which is sad.  I was really excited about this project!  If it wasn’t so irritating to re-knit something, I might make this again sometime in a larger size with modified sleeves in a softer yarn.  If it wasn’t so irritating.

How do you guys deal with frustrations when you’re making things?  Do you cut out a new size and start from scratch?  Do you try to salvage the project?  Or set it aside?  Give it away?  I’m interested to hear!  Sadly, my Honey cardigan isn’t turning out well, either– it looks way too small!  I can’t decide if I should block what I already have (it’s about halfway done) to see if it grows a ton, or if I should just go ahead and frog it and start over.  😦  I don’t know what I’m doing wrong!  I always swatch, and up until now, everything I’ve made has fit perfectly (even for other people!).  I noticed with the Honey cardigan that my gauge is tighter than it was in my swatch (and I do oversized swatches to make sure they’re pretty accurate!)… what’s going on with that?  UGH!!

Ginger Made: Super Cupcake Hat & Cowl

Hi, friend-os!   It’s a cold day in NYC and we’ve got lots of snow headed our way, so I hope if you, too, are hunkered down in snow that you’ve got lots of fun projects to keep you company (but if you’re in the southern hemisphere and it’s summer, I hate you and I don’t want to hear about sunshine, sundresses, sunscreen, or anything else of the sort!!)!

This is the Super Cupcake pattern by Bonnie Marie Burns.  This set is a gift for a dear family friend who’s going through chemotherapy and the resulting hair loss.  My mother-in-law and I thought our friend might be cheered up a little by a fancy new hat, and we really wanted to pick out something special for her (she’s rather chic!).  We visited the local yarn store in my hometown, Sheep’s Clothing, found a sample of this pattern made up in Rowan Lima, and were immediately hooked!  My original thought was to make a cabled beret in a fun color, but the sample hat was so soft, cozy, and comforting that neither of us could stop touching it and decided that this would make a nice gift.

Man Friend dubbed this pose "adorkable" because he is a bad person. Sadly, this was the best photo.

Rowan Lima is amazing– it’s a blend of baby alpaca, merino, and nylon, so it’s simultaneously soft and strong, and it’s spun in a sort of chain-like pattern that knits up incredibly squishy and light.  I highly recommend it!

The pattern is easy as pie– it’s a super basic Shaker rib pattern that makes for a very warm hat with a thick wrong side.  I wouldn’t have even bothered with a pattern if this wasn’t a gift (OK, and if it wasn’t wrong to steal the designer’s idea without contributing some cash).

Cowls look super weird when you wear them with a t-shirt.

I’d like to think of this as a sort of “good vibes” hat– I’m hoping that our friend feels loved and cheered every time she wears it!  And if you’d like to pass along the good vibes, please keep her in your thoughts and prayers.  Thanks, friends!

What are your weekend plans?  Are you going to party hearty or work like busy bees?  I was planning on doing a lot of sewing and knitting, but it’s been a really long week and now I kinda feel like this:

Ennui encapsulated.

Ginger Made: Textured Shawl

Hi, everyone!  I wanted to share with you this shawl that I made for my mother-in-law for Christmas.  I’m really excited about this one– if you knit, you should really consider this pattern!  It’s very simple and easy to do, but yields lovely results (in my humble opinion).  It’s one of those things that looks way more complicated than it really is (or maybe I’m just easily impressed by simple, simple things… sigh)!

So soft and glorious!

This is the textured shawl recipe from orlane– it’s another free Ravelry download (love ’em!)!  The photo above is an accurate representation of the color– it was kinda tough to photograph!  It’s folded a bit here… how do you guys usually photograph shawls?

As the author states, this isn’t really a pattern, so to speak, but a set of notes about how she made her scarf.  If you’re new to knitting, you may want to read over a few of the other users’ project notes for clarification.  I had never knit a shawl before (or anything else triangular), so I was a bit confused about how to start off (the notes just instruct you to use your favorite set-up for a triangular shawl).  I referenced yorkiegirl’s notes— she just tells you to CO 7 stitches and then increase as instructed on every RS row.  So yeah, not complicated at all… I just get nervous that I’m going to screw something up!

I used the Blue Sky Alpacas Suri Merino yarn, just like the example (I even used the same colorway, the sort of smoky lavender color).  An unimaginative choice, I know, but it was just too pretty to pass up and that color is perfect for my m-i-l.  It’s soft as can be and really looks up lovely, but it is a bit sheddy (I kept finding purple fuzz on everything– yuck!).

What’s on your to-make list these days?  I was a little bit bad and used Sunni’s 15% discount code at Victory Patterns to buy the Chloe dress (I know, I don’t have any willpower!  Although I really wanted them ALL, so maybe I have a LITTLE willpower).  It’s so cute!  I really want to make it, but I don’t have any fabric that works in my stash, so I’ll have to hold off.  There was a little issue with the code not working at the pattern website, but the owner, Kristiann, couldn’t have been nicer or more accommodating.  Yay indie pattern designers!  [edit: The discount code is valid through Jan. 19th!  Get it here!]

I'm not hoarding patterns-- I'm supporting small businesses! (The Chloe dress; image courtesy of Victory Patterns)

In other blogiverse news, I found this great 7-part series, Never Fear Knits, on Dixie DIY– check it out!  It’s so nice to read advice for working with stretch fabrics from a fellow sewist.  Thanks, Dixie!  And if you’re looking for inspiration, check out this gorgeous red jacket on sallieoh!  She has been working on this for quite a while and it’s truly amazing!  That girl’s got what we call in the business world “mad skillz”!

How about you guys?  What’s inspiring you these days?

Ginger Made: Vancouver Fog Scarf

Hi, friends!  Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!  I hope you have a moment today to reflect on Dr. King’s life and legacy… I’m so glad we have a day designated to do just that.  Sadly, I’m not just celebrating today– I headed back to work for the first time in over two weeks (I can’t complain… but I really want to).  So, to brighten up my day, I’ll share another me-made Christmas gift!

Here’s the backstory for this guy– I gave my mom a ball of yarn for Christmas (the insanely soft and lovely Madelinetosh Tosh Merino in Cove) with the idea that she could choose an accessory for me to make her.  She asked for a narrow scarf that she could wear inside and out, and liked the idea of cables.  So I decided to use the cable pattern from the Vancouver Fog Mitts on Ravelry (a free download, btw!) and sandwich it between garter edges to make a cute little scarf!

I cast on 20 stitches and knit 4 rows of garter stitch, then I knit a 3-stitch garter tab, worked the 14-stitch cable pattern, and knit another 3 stitches in garter.  I basically knit until I ran out of yarn, knit another 4 rows of garter, and cast off.  Easy as could be!  It was super satisfying to knit, because with only 20 stitches in a row, it seems to leap magically off your needles!

Look at her-- she can't hide her dark side! You know she'd cut a man for lookin' at her cross-eyed!

I blocked this the night before I had to drive back to NYC, so snapped these pics of my poor ma modelling it at 6:30am (hence the awesome purple bathrobe).  She wanted to model, though, and was a good sport about it.  I should have shot some closeups, but it was dark and we were running around packing the car like lunatics and just couldn’t spare the time.

What are you guys up to today/this week?  Anything fun on the horizon?  I finally got all my fabric prewashed, rolled, and organized– whew!  I feel SO MUCH BETTER!  I’ll share some photos with you guys when I finally get everything taken care of.

Ginger Made: Camp Out Mitts

Hi, guys!  I hope you’re well!  I’m really glad that you guys are interested in the stuff I’m giving away– I can’t wait to draw names!

OK, so I want to show you a couple of the Christmas gifts I made!  These are Camp Out Fingerless Mitts, and they’re super fun (and a free download, to boot!)!  I made this pair for my sister:

And this one for my brother’s girlfriend:

I used Noro Kureyon, and each pair takes just under one skein.  That makes for a pretty affordable gift!  This was the first time that I’ve used Noro, and I like the vibrant colors, although it’s a little stiffer and scratchier than the yarn I usually use.  It’s also a little uneven to knit with– it would suddenly get thicker or thinner, which was a little annoying.

These are really quick to knit– just a few hours for each mitt!  Construction is super simple– the top of the mitt is knit in garter stitch and seamed to form a tube (I used a provisional cast on so I could just use a three-needle bind-off to join the tube), then you pick up stitches for the stockinette lower portion.  Easy as pie! I used Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off for the first time, and I really liked it!

Is all this knitting talk boring you guys??  What are you up to these days?  Working on anything fun this weekend?