Tag Archives: sweater

The Cabernet All Day Sweater

I like my clothing to match my life, the events of my days, the trips that I take, the events that I celebrate. Who doesn’t? Surely that is part and parcel of conscious consumption, a topic close to many of our minds. Thoughtful understanding of our objects fit into our lives, and how new objects ought to meet needs, right?

And part of the joy of making is that we makers have the ability to integrate our creations into our lives, or for them to serve our lives, as directly as possible. We can craft for weddings and beach vacations and divorce parties and hiking trips, theme parties and themed lives. We can even make to match our beverages, and that’s exactly what I have done with my most recent knitted project. After all, sweater weather means red wine, does it not? And now I can look the way my glass does in the cold, ready for some red.

Ah, knitting, you saucy minx. You seduce me with your tactility and infuriate me with your pace. Sewing is a puzzle, and knitting is a labyrinth, and I get lost sometimes. You keep me warm with your fuzzy fibers, but in the sticky heat of Mumbai, what need have I of such warmth? And yet I enjoy you, I do. I bring you to movie theaters and on planes, to places beyond the reach of my sewing machine (for Heaven forbid I not be crafting; if I am not making, what am I?). You are a mobile art, if an expensive one (I maintain this thought: sewing can be thrifty, knitting cannot). You challenge me, you force patience, and I cannot quit you, although we do take breaks. You take forever, and yet I keep taking on projects with thinner yarn, which must mean I like your challenge. For example, this Brooklyn Tweed Arabella which I finished right in time for my lightening round trip to Vienna, and then threw into my suitcase to take to Philadelphia, where it kept me very warm, and I had a chance to force my mother to take these photos.

I realized looking at these photos that the nature of the yarn, a glorious variegated Tosh Merino Light in Tart, completely obscures the Quaker Ridging of this project in images. SIGHHHHHHHH.

See, the sweater looks like this:

But of course you can’t see any of those painstakingly worked ridges in my photos because the changing color of the yarn subtly moving from lighter to darker and back again is much more visible than the texture of the ridges. OH well. You will just have to trust me, I ridged them all.

Let me tell you something that knitters already know and people who don’t knit have no context for/way to understand: A fingering weight sweater takes FOREVER. This represents at least 9 months of my time. Of course, I wasn’t working on it constantly, but, like, STILL. That’s a lot of months.

This was my first Brooklyn Tweed sweater experience and based on this, I think I need to go down a size or two. I am still not great with negative ease in knitting, I realize, and I tend to knit big. This sweater turned out huge, and really long, and while I love it, I sort of also resent it because…it took so much time! It could have taken ever so slightly less time!

The sleeves are long, so I tend to cuff them, and the hem is long, but I enjoy that. I love the swingy feel of this design. I made many mistakes (which I can live with), but no, shall we say, deliberate changes, because…I would have no idea how to do that. And I really admire people who do! But I don’t, not with knitting, not yet. Maybe not ever? I don’t know, as I said, we share a deep but problematic love.

Fun side not, those pants which you can barely see are my first round of Palisade Pants from Papercut patterns, discussed in my last post!

I enjoyed the pattern, and might try it again (someday, I’m back to a worsted weight wool, a Malabrigo, for my new sweater, the Rowan Land Girl’s sweater, and feeling fine) in a solid wool next time so the pattern detailing is clearer. It was fun to knit, gripes aside, and I made it over many a glass of wine, red and otherwise. But now that it’s in the world as a whole thing, I’m guessing it’s going to be a red wine kind of garment, which is wonderful, as I said, who doesn’t want their makes to match their life?

This selfie was the best image I could get that showed the true color of the sweater, which has been rendered brighter in these photos by the gorgeous afternoon light my parents’ green roof receives (as a fun bonus, it really captures the frizz of my hair!). It also has the clearest image of the ridges, so forgive the selfie, it has a use!

Do you like your creations to match your bodily consumption, or anything else in your life? Do you find knitting to be a fling, a casual date, a committed partnership, a toxic ex? Do tell!


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Filed under Brooklyn Tweed, Knitting

The Oh Noble Sheep Outfit


In the photos you are about to see, I am wearing two self-knitted garments. One of them took me a week. One of them took me 5 months.

Guys. Knitting. It’s a whole damn thing.

I do actually really like knitting. But since we moved to Mumbai, my knitting game has taken a strong hit. This is 100% because it is so damn hot and humid here, and the idea of handling a ton of wool is just painful. I am not a fast knitter, one-week skirt aside, so I end up spending a long time with a knitting project, most of the time. The idea of covering my lap with wool is so so appealing in a crisp fall, cold winter, or damp spring. Not so much in this tedious land of constant summer.

But I do spend time in the States, in Philadelphia and New York, and they are cold in the winter! Which, I know that that is a bummer but honestly, I just can’t even with this monotonous weather, I had a total temper tantrum the other day with What’s-his-face about the sameness of the weather, I’m a mess. So I was really excited to finish this sweater, FINALLY, and wear it in America. And then I thought, let me get this party really started! On a two week trip to the States, I ordered wool and bought a pattern and decided to challenge myself to knit a wool skirt in 7 days. And I did!

Chunky knits, man. They just HAPPEN.

In other news, I’m going to attempt my first fingering weight sweater while on an upcoming writer’s residency in Italy. I might be knitting that for a year. Wish me well.

But first, a word from our sponsors:



To the outfit!

I do feel that all these knits make ME look a little chunky, but ah well. They also keep me warm! And it was cold, as I wanted it to be. And I was happy!

The sweater is the Purl Soho Folded Squares Cardigan.  I made one for my mother in Manos del Uruguay, so then I had to do the same for myself….

The shape is lovely, and drapes well, and the Manos yarn in Clasica is SO warm and cozy. I made one change to the pattern, lengthening the sleeves. This was the same alteration I made for my mom, and we both are big fans!

A bit windy up there….

The sweater is an easy knit, but  time consuming. I started it in July, and I finished it in February, just to give you a sense of how slow I am. Row after row after row, it’s a little monotonous, but it’s fun the way it all fits together!

The skirt, on the other hand, is super easy and and very fast. It’s the Bryn Mawr skirt, which, given my own origins in Philadelphia, is very appropriate! (Bryn Mawr is a suburb of Philadelphia, and a great college! Midge went there!)

I read a lot of Ravelry reviews of this pattern and all of them said it knitted up big, so I opted for a size 28 waist, figuring that would be comfortable, but it’s enormous! It was slipping off during these photos and literally slide off of my body about thirty minutes after we took these, which was about an hour after I wore the skirt for the first time. So I’m going to insert elastic, because otherwise I can’t wear this, and it’s so cosy and cute, I want to!

It’s SO warm. This yarn is from a company called Valley Yarns, and it’s the Berkshire Bulky, and it’s a dream.

Okay, so that’s about it. Busty photos of me in chunky knits on a rooftop. But let me tell you, I was WARM!


Filed under knit, Knitting

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.


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?


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 Greene Organization 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!


Filed under Berocco, Knitting

Lions and Birdies and Babushkas, oh my!

I have to tell you a secret, I  really enjoy embroidery. It’s not something I do as much as, say, sewing, but it’s a very relaxing thing to do and adds such a great detail to objects and garments. I know it’s weird and deeply Regency England of me, and in point of fact it used to be required behavior for all “gently brought up young women” (you never hear about the roughly brought up young women, now, do you? Well, not outside of Moll Flanders). But I’ve always loved the look of embroidery, so when Spool (that place is my crack den, I swear) had these adorable little embroidery kits with animals bleating their respective calls, I was helpless in the face of such cuteness. So I got one. And then I discovered the wonder that is Sublime Stitching, and, through Casey over at Elegant Musings, found all these free embroidery transfers, and, what can I say, sign me up for the Marriage Mart and advertise about my dowry because I’m hooked.

This all does bring up an interesting issue, and that is, crafting and creating and gender roles. All joking aside, just to be clear, I don’t craft and make things because I think that as a woman it’s something I ought to do. A friend and I were having this long discussion the other day and I mentioned that I do a lot of things (cook, sew, craft, etc.) that would seem to subscribe to traditional gender roles, i.e. Donna Reed would be so proud of me. But I also do lots of other things like write and work at my day job and make theater and drink whiskey and I enjoy doing all of these things. And ultimately it all comes down to choices, and whether or not it’s my choice to sew and make candles and bake cakes and embroider birds on sweaters, or whether I’m doing it because it’s expected of me, because it’s “what I should do”, because it’s “what’s done” (such an achingly WASPy phrase, don’t you think?). There is this amazing new generation of people discovering these crafts and art forms and exploring them and I think that’s fantastic and admirable, and I think, or I hope, it has nothing to do with what genital organs you have.  In the classic words of Miss Pigglewiggle vs. The Little Girl Who Talked Back “I’ll do it because I want to, not because you told me to.” Preach.

Okay, jumping off my soapbox now, onto the photos!

A pillow of Babushkas! Or more correctly, Matrushka dolls. The pattern is from Sublime Stitching. Love!

The biggest one. CUTE!

This is a cashmere cardigan my mother gave me. It was hers, but it was too big, so I took it in on the sides and gave it a bluebird!


This was my first Embroidery project.

I added a border. I love how the lion is so stoic. It reminds me of someone else I know:

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Filed under Embellish, Embroidery, Sewing