summer knitting

queue check: july


  1. Fleurette by Melissa Dominguez
  2. Equatorial Nights by Audry Nicklin
  3. Vasa by Dianna Walla (Maybe)
  4. Bohus sweater from Keito Dama 2013 by Noguchi Hikaru

Think I’m set for the rest of summer, and most of fall to be honest. The cardigan, I’m already working on, and I decided on the cowl for the blue yarn I mentioned earlier. The Vasa is probably not going to happen for now, unless I blow through the cowl quickly and want another simple project. And I’d like to start the Bohus sweater while it’s still summer, because I think it will take a while and I want it in time for late fall.

In between I might knit some quick projects like some hats or socks. But this feels good, to have a schedule of sorts. After these are done I’ll have burned through a lot of my stash too! I think having any more than four is a fool’s game though. For a time I had tens of patterns in the queue in my head, but knitting takes so much time. By the time I got to their position in the queue I was kind of over a lot of the patterns! So many new patterns get released every day; fashions evolve and change. I’ll never get through everything that I’ll want to knit. So I pick the pattern that sparks that feeling of desire in me, at that time and place and particular moment, and just hope for the best.

It’s also kind of exciting, in that I have no big plans for winter knitting yet. I was looking forward to summer knitting since January of this year – planning and plotting and researching yarn. I’m not ready to think about winter yet,  but maybe in humid August I’ll be dying for cold weather. I think the Bohus sweater represents a big thing for me – a stranded color sweater – that I’m not quite ready to think about what I could want after that.

Maybe a heavy cardigan, or a cable sweater, or…

summer knitting

my favorite type of colorwork


Here is the last swatch I made with the cotton slub yarn. Made with size 4’s along with some extra Hamanaka Flax C yarn. This is my idea for my next Vasa that I’ve had for a while. A grey top section, with grey and orange stripes on a white bottom. Basically, it will use up the white yarn that I’m hoping will be left over after my Fleurette. I knitted with size 4’s on purpose: I decided I want an airy fabric and to knit with a needle larger than 2.25mm, hah! I think the slubs give it a really interesting appearance.

striped-vasaGod, I just love stripes. If you’ve got stripes on your pattern, that’s a guarantee it’s going to catch my eye. Here I am with the Vasa I knit last year, knit with Hamanaka Flax C in navy and grey. Such a cute little shirt. I know it’s just two rectangles sewn together but that just means there’s lots of room for creativity! I had been looking at other shirts, but many other cute shirts have lots of design details that stripes would distract from. With a shape like this, I’d love to have dark grey with yellow, peach and white stripes, and a classic white with blue. You could knit even larger blocks of color. Some intarsia might work well?!

(If you’re knitting Vasa, make sure you knit with plenty of ease and an airy gauge. You can sew the neckline larger or smaller to play with the fit up top – but I think in general it looks best as a roomy top over a tight tank top. Though you could give it waist shaping if you wanted to!)

I love brightly colored yarn like any hot-blooded knitters, but I feel like stuff that looks enticing in the skein often comes out as too garish when knitted up. Adding the color as a stripe pattern on a neutral base can cut down the garish factor. It’s also a great way to get rid of leftovers. I bought a skein of pink/orange Tosh Merino Light from Purl Soho when I was last in New York, and then panicked because I had no idea what to do with it. I don’t need a solid neon peach scarf. So I used it in a stripey shawl pattern with white and grey (It’s Drachenfels by Melanie Berg). It really neutralized the color:


The white and grey are alpaca (Hamanaka’s Alpaca Villa) and are so fuzzy and soft. I LOVE this thing. It works well with both my winter coat and a light spring jacket. And I still have leftover pink yarn to stripe something else!

(and it was knit with, you guessed it: size 1 needles!!)

summer knitting

decision: fleurette


I’ve decided on the pattern for the cropped cardigan I have planned, and it’s the one I actually had written off at first! When I looked at the model of the Fleurette by Melissa Dominguez, I thought it would be a bit too “high school fashion” for me. The sea foam color and cropped length on the young model just looked wrong for me. But after I looked through other’s and their projects, I saw it in a new light. With enough ease, and the right color, I think it will be an absolutely adorable cardigan.

What really clinched it was knitting a swatch of the lace pattern with the Trad Cotton I picked up the other day. I think the lace pattern, the ivory color, the softness, and the texture of the slubs all works together to make it a perfect match. It’s like looking at a fluffy cloud. I can’t stop thinking about it. When I was knitting it, it seemed like it would be way too big, but the cotton shrunk a bit when I blocked it, actually. Or maybe, the slubs bloomed and the fabric got a little too stiff to stretch out. Very technical, I know. But in any case, I think this is the kind of fabric I want.

Swatched with Flax C (navy) but I like Trad Cotton better
Swatched with Flax C (navy) but I like Trad Cotton better

My swatch is still about a 1cm bigger than the gauge of the pattern (what else is new), and that’s on size 0s, so I can’t go any smaller. But I think I want some ease, especially around the chest area. I’ll have to work out the numbers. I just want to avoid the dreaded cardigan flyopen, which is what I call when the fronts of a cardigan are pushed back to the armpits by the boobs. Basically, I hate when the cardigan fronts are not big enough to rest comfortable over the chest. This is a reason I love crew neck cardigans, by the way, because I think they counteract that tendency. But I also want negative ease in the shoulder and armpit area. So I might have to mix the sizes together.

The dreaded flyopen
The dreaded flyopen

But I can’t decide on a color. Navy, or white? I’m leaning towards the white, because you can see all the stitches and it looks so cute. But is it too cute? Is white TOO twee? Also, white’s not going to last as long, because of, you know, the color. This is meant for summer after all. How pretty is this white going to be after I sweat all over it? Navy is a bit drab, but it’s so versatile.

Fleurette by (c) mvolk and (c) statler
Fleurette by (c) mvolk and (c) statler

But my heart is yearning for the white…

summer knitting

cotton slub, and a daruma

tradcottonI’m like less than a week into my Smocked top and I’m already taking a break. It’s an oversized blouse knit in fingering weight stockinette, so maybe my fingers are itching for a more complicated project to switch off with. The other day I passed by Izumiya, a yarn shop in the local shopping district, and they had some yarn out on clearance. Usually I don’t find anything I like in clearance, but who can resist browsing the cheap stuff? You don’t need any more yarn right now, I said to myself, but I do have that lace cardigan planned after this top. I’ve been keeping my eyes open for suitable cotton or linen yarn.

To be honest, I think I’ll be tired of Hamanaka’s Flax yarn after the smocked top, and linen in general for a while. I love linen, but I’d love to knit with some soft cotton. Hamanaka’s Paume line is soft and organic but to be honest I’m not feeling their colors at the moment. They’re dyed with natural dyes, so they’re full of muted gorgeous colors, but I want something brighter for this cardigan. I’m envisioning marine style stuff: a nice white, or a navy or grey, or just the right shade of coral. Paume is like beige mint. Oh, I realize they came out with some new bright colors this year, but none of those work.

Look at this WONDERFUL logo. Yokota Daruma Yarn.
Look at this WONDERFUL logo. Yokota Daruma Yarn.

Anyway, so I was pawing through the clearance yarn, and noticed a cotton slub by a company I’d not seen before. Trad Cotton Slub, by Daruma, in the prettiest ivory color. I’ve never knitted with a slub yarn, but something about the ball spoke to me. I picked up one ball to play with.


At first I thought I’d swatch for the Effervescence Cardigan, and I did. I got gauge with the stockinette swatch, which made me happy, but I wasn’t sure I liked the fabric it was making. The slubs are very noticeable, and while it was soft as a baby’s bottom, I wasn’t sure if it fit the pattern. Effervescence is quite sleek, after all. And once I tried to swatch the cabled lace, I knew it was all wrong. Trad Cotton is pretty, but it doesn’t have the body for these cables. It just came out limp. Frogged.

It was too thin for the Miette cardigan, and I’m not sure I’m so into the From Way Back cardigan anymore. So I swatched for the Fleurette cardigan. And… oh my god. It was so perfect. I can’t stop touching this swatch*. More about Fleurette on Wednesday, but suffice it to say, when you just know when you perfectly match a yarn and a pattern together.


*And I’ll keep touching this swatch, to try to rough it up and stretch it out, so I have more of an idea of what kind of stretching out this thing’ll do. I’m not going to have another item turn out too big for me!

Oh yeah, and I’m the only one who, when she has an idea in her head for swatching, can’t get back to her other projects until she gets those ideas out? I mean, I kept daydreaming about which pattern and which yarn and which color I was going to use all week. In a way, I wish I had just concentrated on my Smocked Top because I get so antsy when I’m thinking about a new project.

summer knitting

the dreaded growth

At Shabon Coin Laundry, Morioka

It happened. My notched tank top was the perfect size – and then it grew the first time I wore it.

The thing, at first I thought I wanted it to grow, just because I imagined it with more ease than it ended up having. But when I tried it on, I knew it was perfect the way it was…until it grew. It’s not by too much – maybe about an inch both lengthwise and widthwise. But still. Ugh, ugh, ugh. It must be the way I knit. I look at the recommended needles for a project, drop down by 3 or 4 sizes. My swatches do eventually reach gauge, and sometimes I still drop down a needle size just in case. But still things end up growing out of shape.

The top is completely fine – maybe a tiny bit longer than I wanted but the larger size still ends up draping well against my body. But it’s the principle of the thing. I’m frustrated. Why do I have to be such a loose knitter? I read somewhere to try knitting stitches bunched up on the tips of the needle, as this will prevent the bar between stitches from getting too long. But doing that hurts my hands.

I know, I know: I was knitting with:
metal needles
・plant fiber
a dense, heavy gauge
・continental style

None of those contribute to tight knitting! I’m lucky it was only an inch! But still, I thought I had compensated enough by knitting a size down. I should have nixed another inch of length. Well, I guess I know for next time! I’m going to knit my next top like to a cropped top length, and it’ll probably stretch out to my crotch!

Sticking it in the dryer only ended up snapping it back about a centimeter or two*. It did soften up a lot, just like they said linen would. I hadn’t tried it before, because I don’t actually own a dryer. People hang up their clothes to dry in Japan, so it’s just not a common appliance. It’s just as well that frying it a bit didn’t change the length, because a) I feel like using the dryer will shorten the life of the fabric, and b) I’d need to bike about 15 minutes to the nearest laundromat every time I wanted to use it. I’ll probably stop caring after wearing it a couple times, as it really is fine the way it is. Does anyone else obsess about tiny details once they finish knitting a garment? Maybe it’s just a part of my process.

*Sorry, I know it’s weird to switch between metric and imperial, but I’m an American living in Japan so sometimes one makes more sense to me than the other!

summer knitting

smocked swatch


Swatched up the tween linen yarn for my smocked top. I did get the pattern gauge, except it was on size 1’s, AGAIN. I like how light the fabric is though. It’s floaty and the perfect shade of pale slate. The embroidery is a bit shabby, but I guess not so bad for a practice run. I have a dark blue sock yarn that I might use instead because I think the wool might be a bit more forgiving, but I’ll experiment!

I’m knitting this up quite a bit differently than the pattern says, mostly to control the length. The original is basically two rectangles knitted from the bottom up, sewn together. I don’t hate seams (in fact, I love them and really love the structure they give to a garment), but I want to be able to try this one on as I’m knitting. The pattern is for a tunic, but I want a hip-length t-shirt and I don’t have the skills yet to eyeball just how long I have to knit to have it the perfect length.

While I could just knit it from the top-down, I’m not sure if that would effect the top design in any way, so I decided to do the following:

smockedtop-designI’ll cast on provisionally, and knit the back and top (in three pieces) from the sleeves portion upward. Then I’ll 3-needle bind off the top seams, do the smocking, etc. Then I’ll unzip the crochet cast on, join everything together, and knit in the round until I have the right length. The piece is actually quite huge to account for the smocking, so I might try shaping it a bit as well.

I powered through the notched tank top partly because I had ten days off for Golden Week, so this shirt should take a little longer. I’m excited though! It’s my first time trying embroidery (or shishuu 刺繍 in Japanese), and I think it’s so adorable. The small touch of it at the neckline elevates this piece into something really special. The popular summer knit tops out there are pretty much all stockinette and beautiful lace*, and while I love how pretty and feminine they are, it’s nice to see a design that’s so unusual.

(I love the idea of lace, but it’s been a real chore everytime I’ve done it. It’s just kind of stressful! You can never quite tell if you missed a yarn over until it’s too late, and I’m NOT going to count my stitches every single row..)

finished objects · summer knitting

shimmering garnet


I’ve finished my Notched Hem Tank Top by Purl Soho! I love how the fit of this one came out. I was undecided between sizes, and decided to go with the smaller size even though I wanted ease on this one. It’s just that every time I’ve picked the bigger size, I’ve been a bit disappointed at the end because the garment always ends up growing. I remembered some advice Amy Herzog gave on the podcast regarding sizes: always go for the size that fits you in the shoulders, because that’s where fit is the most crucial. After all, knitting is made to stretch, so it’s fine if it stretches a bit in the boob area.


I think my issue is that I’ve hesitated knitting anything with negative ease, because I don’t want anything clinging to my midsection. But I’ve overcompensated and everything has ended up just a bit too big. I really succeeded with the fit this time, so I might go for a size smaller now when I pick sizes. (Well, it doesn’t matter too much since I mostly knit Japanese patterns, which are basically One Size Fits All)

The finishing on this tank was a royal pain in the ass though. The pattern is fine, it’s just that I was working with two tiny strands of unforgiving linen yarn, so it was slippery and hard to bind off the neckline in a neat way. I must have tried the arm hole finishing about 4 times before I got it. First I binded off too tightly, then too tightly again, and then I just basically bounded off as loosey goosey as I could, and it feels mostly right. It’s a little sloppy looking though. If it bothers me I might pick it out and crochet a finishing or something.


summer knitting

plans for summer knitting

Smocked tunic by Michiyo

My Purl Soho tank is coming along very quickly, so I’m trying to figure out my next project. I figure another summer-y linen top will be nice, though I never would have guessed when I started knitting that I’d be so in to linen. Knitting a linen top last year really got me into the fiber – and who couldn’t love a fiber that keeps you knitting in the sticky summer months?

Recently, I bought シンプルなのに仕掛けが光るニットのふだん着 (“Simple and ingenious knit daywear” on Ravelry) by michiyo. I don’t normally pick her books up, because her designs are not really my style, but there are a couple of tops in this book that are just out of these world. Number one being the picture up top. I LOVE the smocked details, especially the tiny braid that lines the neck. The tweedy linen-cotton stockinette (from Hamanaka’s new Flax Tweed line) is also very nice. I would cut off the extra length and make it a more normal shirt, but keep the extra ease.

Just bought the tweed linen at Himawari today!
Just bought the Flax Tweed at Himawari today!

The best part? I already have plenty of navy linen yarn leftover from the Vasa I knit last year, so the smocking part will officially use up part of my stash! I’m actually very neurotic about stash, as I live in a Japanese apartment and have limited myself to two baskets and no more. I really try to limit my buying to stuff I know I have a project for…and still I always have leftover from projects that I don’t know what to do with. Lately I’ve been knitting stuffed animals, but I don’t have any more room for stuffed animals than for yarn, so.

My other idea would be a grey, white, and orangey striped Vasa by Dianna Walla. I have some Hamanaka Flax C in a number of colors that I played with to get this combination of stripes, which I quite adore. The C is for crochet, meaning it’s fingering weight. K would be knit, in DK weight, and I just can’t decide which weight to knit with. Fingering would be so light and breathable…and then I’d have to wear a tank underneath, defeating the purpose. I could knit it with size 0 needles, but my fingers can’t really tolerate size 0 for more than socks. So I’m leaning toward the Flax K weight. But then I start waffling on the colors… They have some pretty new colors this year, with sunflower yellow and coral and a wealth of greys. Ackkk…

Color line for Hamanaka’s Flax C/K (not shown: their Lamé line with the orange I’ll be using)

Well, I should count myself lucky that Quince & Co and some of the other yarn companies with huge color selections are all hard to find here. I’ve become a Hamanaka queen, which is nice because my choices are limited. Like, 75% of their yarn is variegated fingering weight for classic 70s crochet vests.

You know, every time I go into a yarn store here, the staff is always surprised by how “young” I am? (I’m almost 30…) I think because knitting hasn’t caught on with young people in Japan like it has in the west. There are of course places in Tokyo and Osaka to get fancy foreign brands of yarn, from MadTosh to Malabrigo to Quince, and there are a ton of online stores. But I try to support the places in Morioka, and what they carry is Hamanaka, Diakeito, and other Japanese brands. I really appreciate being able to walk into a physical location and touch the yarn. Because that’s the best part of being the knitter, isn’t it?