Category Archives: Berocco

The Touch Of The Irish Sweater

It’s the strangest thing, but when I told people I was going to Ireland many of them asked if I was visiting family. It’s not that it would be weird for me to visit family, though I don’t have any in Ireland whatsoever, I don’t know what the Russian Jewish or Puerto Rican populations of Ireland are but I can’t imagine they are bounteous. Perhaps I’m being dreadfully unfair here, and if so I’m awfully sorry, and there is an Irish Jewish Museum here, as a quick google search reveled to my mother and I, but the point is, no, I have no family in Ireland. But it’s not the implication that I would or wouldn’t have family here that surprised me, it’s that people asked. On few other trips I’ve been on has anyone asked me if I was visiting family, which makes me think that’s a thing, many Irish people must come back here to see family or their home town or where their ancestors ate potatoes stuffed inside potatoes on top of potatoes. I’m kidding, the food has been lovely, actually. But the point is, I just think that’s sort of funny that people seem to immediately ask that question about Ireland. Because my family is many things, but Irish isn’t one of them.

That being said, my mom used to get asked if she was Irish all the time. She had sort of auburn hair when she was younger, and she has pale skin and freckles, so I guess she looked the part, and besides, she looks amazing in many shades of green (She’s an autumn). So when I told her I would make her a sweater this year for a (very) belated Hanukkah present, I thought I could make something that would both fit the woman and this trip, as I had a suspicion I might be furiously knitting as we drove across hill and dale. And as it turns out, I know myself very well, because I ended up finishing this sweater literally as we drove about the Ring of Kerry on the 31st of December! So I got it in just under the wire for 2013, that’s something, at least. My mother was amazed, she was sure she would get it for NEXT Hanukkah. Oh ye Deborah of little faith…It’s not that my mom doesn’t think I’m a fast knitter, it’s just that she KNOWS sweaters take forever, and I think she felt guilty about me making her a gift that takes so much time and effort. But if she could gestate me for 9 months and then push me through her body and out into the world, I can make her a damn sweater or five, am I right?

At any rate, the sweater was one thing, convincing my mom to allow me to photograph it was another. So many battles, so little time. But I did it! I made a sweater AND I got my gorgeous mom to pose for me! Victory lap! So let’s see this 6 week long endevor, shall we?

TOTI 1The pattern is a free pattern (FREE PATTERN!) from Berocco, Avocet B, a really nice simple well designed open cardigan. I ended up changing the garter stitch to stockinette stitch, but making no other changes, except, well, I guess because I didn’t use the recommended yarn I just ended up with TWICE as much yarn as I needed by buying the number of skeins suggested. So that was…odd, and I’m not sure what to do with the 5 extra skeins of Berroco Vintage Yarn I now have in this color, Douglas Fir. It’s not a great one for me, sigh, so…

TOTI 3My mom is the cutest. We took these photos on a woodland walk through the grounds of Ashford Castle, a really lovely place.

TOTI 7She loves this cardigan, she was very happy to have it and even happier that I finished it in such (for me) record time. The sleeves ended up a bit long, but otherwise the fit is perfect for her, by her own admission.

TOTI 5She grumbled a bit that I made her take off her coat in the middle of the woods, and what you can’t see from these photos is that my dad is nearby holding all our stuff. Thanks, Papi.

TOTI 8

See? Awesome color for her.

TOTI 9I like this collar detail a lot. You knit these extensions in the side pieces and seam them together into a collar that kind of rolls away from the neck. Simple yet very pretty, I think. In general I found this pattern totally easy to follow and clear, and I’m pretty pleased that a free pattern was this well made and transparent. Why can’t sewing patterns be more like that? I’m looking at you, BurdaStyle!

TOTI 10A little close up of the yarn for you. It’s actually a bit darker than this, but here you can see the gold in the green. It was actually pretty nice to knit with, the acrylic/wool blend is really nice and soft.

TOTI 2As reluctant as she initially was, my mom really got into the posing by the end. She would be the best model. Call Gucci, he should know about this!

The woodland walk was just beautiful, want to see?

TOTI 11 TOTI 12 TOTI 13 TOTI 15 TOTI 16And I knew the whole time that my mom was nice and warm and cozy in her new sweater! She might not have a touch of the Irish in her blood, but at least now she has it in her wardrobe. Not too shabby, right?

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Filed under Berocco, Clothing, knit, Knitting, Travel

The Vying for the Viaduct Sweater

Stop everything you are doing and pay attention to me. I made a sweater. A real, honest to God, knit by hand sweater. A WHOLE DAMN SWEATER. I, Leah Franqui, struggle extraordinaire, 4 month knitter, completed a sweater. And it’s awesome. Right?

Yeah. It’s awesome. And I made it. WITH MY HANDS. Bam. The sweater is the Berocco FREE PATTERN the Aidez. Over 1500 Ravelry knitters have made this beautiful open cardigan, and they are chalk full of advice and modifications and ideas. Did I take any of them into account? Of course not. That would be madness.

No, I’m just kidding. I actually took a class at Loop to make this sweater. I was a bit concerned that despite my mad knitting skills honed over the course of several scarves and snoods, I wouldn’t be able to master the art of sweatery (it’s my new word, deal with it) all by my lonesome. And I’m glad I took the class, because a lot of learning anything new is vocabulary, and it’s nice to be able to look at my lovely instructor and be like, YTTB, WTF? And she could be like, that’s actually a simple concept you know intuitively and here’s how to do it. And I could be like, JK! TY! So all my thanks to my instructor and the wonderful ladies in my class (no gentleman, sadly, step up, boys, join the world of knitting!) for getting me through to the other side and helping me make this masterpiece.

I love it. I LOVE IT. There are a few little mistakes which I wont bore you with/want you to be impressed with me so I don’t want to point out my silly errors. But this is a really nice pattern, and though it looks really complex, it’s actually pretty simple once you memorize the pattern, but not at all boring, at least, not for me as a beginner! There are four kinds of cable on this puppy, which make it look amazing.

I knitted up a small, which worked perfectly for me. This yarn really does bloom (expand after washing, for you non-knitters out there, look at me, picking up the lingo!) and it blocks beautifully. I used the recommended yarn, Berocco Peruvia, because I honestly didn’t know you could deviate from the recommendation. Now that I do, consider my mind BLOWN.

I really liked knitting with this yarn, though, it’s chunky and knits up really quickly. This sweater took me about 5 weeks, or in TV terms, 5 episodes of Downton Abby, Season 2, 3 Miss Marples, 2 Poroits, countless 30 Rocks and Parks and Recreations, 2 Midsummer Murders, and a lot of things I’m ashamed to list here (cough, Hart of Dixie, cough). But I made it through and got all my pieces knit and blocked by the final class, where I learned that seaming is just like sewing. Which is nice, because I totally know how to do that.

This is the face I make when I have completed an insanely cool sweater WITH MY HANDS. Yeah. Expect to see that one more often, people. Thought honestly, not THAT often, because knitting takes FOREVER.

Now, you may at this point be wondering, what the hell is a Viaduct? Well, it’s actually really cool. My friend Ben took these photos (thanks, Ben!) yesterday when we, along with my mother and father and a group of about 35 other people, participated in this walk along the three mile stretch of what was the first railway line into Philadelphia, the path of the famous Pennsylvania Railroad! The track went dead in 1991, I believe, and since then has been a three mile expanse of nothing, without use or really much public knowledge of its existance. But that all might, hopefully, change soon, because there are two organizations pushing to repurpose and reclaim the now abandoned tracks to create a Viaduct, much like the wildly successful New York High Line! This would be an amazing boon for the city, and really revitalize a few areas that currently act as urban no-mans lands.

The issue is now that part of the Viaduct, the part known as the 9th street viaduct or the Reading Viaduct, is more likely to be made into a pocket park in the next few (I hope just a few) years, while the underground cross-city tunnel part seems less likely, at least, right now. So while one organization, The Reading Viaduct, its focused on transforming the above-ground elevated 9th Street portion of the 4 track wide (that’s pretty wide) space into a park, the Viaduct GreeneĀ OrganizationĀ wants the whole 3 miles reclaimed, and wont take anything less. So there is some conflict there, a bit of vying, if you will. Personally, I hope the 9th Street Viaduct becomes the first phase in a multistage project that eventually spans all three miles of railroad track and revitalizes those areas of this delightful but really strugglesome city. And I know that wont happen any time soon. But, hey, I got some good pictures, at least:

How cute is my mamala?

And there's my papa.

And Ben, my fearless photographer.

With the view of Philadelphia behind me, aglow with the warmth of my sweater. Can you imagine anything better?

Anyway, that’s what I’ve got going on lately. What about you? Big projects? New strides? Reclaimed spaces? Any trespassing (which is totally what we were doing, shhhh, don’t tell the Mayor!)? Or maybe just learned a cool new thing? Let me know!

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Filed under Berocco, Knitting