Shrugs/Cardigans/Sweaters

From Japan, with love: Sagano

My latest release, Sagano, is the first of a series of Japan-inspired designs, which will be released throughout the year. It's a truly unisex, everyday sweater that looks great on babies and bigger kids alike. I've added a size to my usual range for this one, with sizes going from 3mo to 10yo.

Sagano sweater by Frogginette Knitting Patterns

The design:

The fit is comfy, slightly roomy, which is also a bit of a departure from the close-fitting silhouettes I usually favor. The pattern is worked top-down, seamlessly, and some short rows can be worked after the yoke increased are done, to raise the back neck and ensure a nicer fit. In the pattern, I suggest using German short rows with a variation on how to work the last double stitch when resuming work in the round. The unique textured bands that run down the shoulders and sleeves are very intuitive to work, although a chart and written instructions are provided.

My inspiration:

A so-called "third-culture kid," I lived in several different countries as a child, and Japan was one of them. I lived in Tokyo for a couple of years as a teenager and hadn't been back since I was 16 years old, so it was quite emotional to be back when my husband and I took a trip there last Fall. It was a great opportunity for me to rediscover not only my favorite hang outs (well, the ones that still exist... The house we lived in and my old school have both long been torn down) but also to explore places that I had always dreamed of seeing.

One of these was the Sagano bamboo forest:

Sagano Bamboo Forest

I had not expected my trip to Japan to yield so much design inspiration but it was truly magical. I had to quickly start sketching as every thing I saw evoked a texture, a silhouette, an emotion.

The Sagano sweater was the first design that I sketched in my notebook. My husband and I had just visited the beautiful Sagano Bamboo Forest near Kyoto. We were walking through a quiet residential area, with the feeling of awe still lingering after exiting the forest, when my eye was caught by this humble but beautiful woven fence:

Sagano woven fence

I loved how the strong horizontal lines of the large bamboo stalks helped bring out the woven texture, so I decided to translate that idea and came up with this variation on an existing stitch pattern that I had seen floating around on Pinterest, which I bordered with twisted stitch columns. I had to experiment quite a bit with it until it was just so, but I am SO happy with the result. It turned out exactly the way I wanted:

Sagano sweater texture

I used Leizu DK by Julie Asselin for the sample, which is a merino blend containing a small amount of silk, and the stitch definition really brings out the texture, and this gorgeous nuanced grey captured the moody vibe of the forest.

I hope you love this design as much as I do! You can purchase it here.

Entrechat hack: long sleeves

Entrechat is designed to have small cap sleeves, but I think an elbow or even full-length sleeve also works very well for this design. It could be great for chillier spring or fall days, or to use over a summer dress if it's a bit cooler in the evening (or if the A/C is blasting!).

Entrechat knitting pattern by Frogginette Knitting Patterns

Here are my notes about how I made this variation based on the main Entrechat knitting pattern, which is available here.

First a note about extra supplies: You will need a set of dpns of the same diameter as your main (circular) needle to work the sleeves in the round (unless you prefer to use the magic loop technique). You will also need a bit more yarn than indicated in the pattern since you are adding sleeve length. I would guesstimate that you will need anywhere from 50 to 150 yards extra depending on the size you are working and sleeve length you want to knit. 

The beginning of the pattern can be followed as written until Page 3 of the pattern, where it says "Repeat Rows 3 and 4 for the raglan increases until you have the following stitch count."

You simply ignore the stitch counts that are immediately following this statement, as well as the next two sentences, instead working rows 3 and 4 until you get the stitch counts given at the bottom of page 3 (they are bolded).

Then, on the next WS, instead of binding off the sleeve stitches as indicated, you place them on hold using two pieces of scrap yarn (so, purl to the end of that WS, then slip both sets of sleeve sts onto holders, removing markers).

Then, you can follow the pattern as written to finish the body of the shrug.

Once you are done with the body, it's time to work the sleeves. Place the held sleeve stitches onto your dpns, making sure they are evenly distributed.

Then, joining new yarn at the underarm (leave a yarn tail about 8" or 20cm, which you will later use to thread a needle to close up any holes/gaps), you pick up and knit two stitches from the edge of the underarm area. Place a marker between those two stitches and then knit all the sleeve stitches. Then, joining in the round, knit your sleeve stitches in the round for approximately 1" or 2.5cm. 

At that point, work a decrease round: Slm, k1, k2tog, knit until 3 sts remain, ssk, k1.

Continue working in the round in stockinette, working a decrease round every 2 inches or 5cm. When you are 1" shy of your desired sleeve length, alternate working a purled round and a knitted round to produce garter ridges. When you have three ridges, knit one more round and then bind off purlwise (this will produce your final garter ridge.)

Voila!! A sleeve!  Do the same to work the second sleeve and you're all done!

Note: Sleeve length can be easily customized depending on what you need: short sleeves, elbow length, long sleeves. Simply measure the child's arm from the underarm to where your want the sleeve cuff to be. As a reference you can also consult the standard sleeve lengths provided by the Craft Yarn Council for babies and children.

Entrechat knitting pattern (sleeve hack) by Frogginette Knitting Patterns
Entrechat knitting pattern (long sleeve hack) by Frogginette Knitting Patterns

By the way, I am running an Entrechat KAL in my Ravelry group from June 1 to June 30! Join us, it's going to be fun!

Plus, there's 30% off both my Entrechat and Madame Entrechat patterns using the code "ENTRECHATKAL"until June 10th so don't miss out! There will be TONS of prizes: yarn, notions, patterns from many indie designers... To see the entire sponsor list, check out the second post in the Club Frogginette KAL thread)

Don't forget to use the hashtag #EntrechatKAL on your Ravelry project or social media so we can all see your contribution!

Wearing your knits: 5 lessons I've learned

Every month of May for the past eight years, Me-Made-May has been a big movement in the crafting community. It's not really a make-a-long per se, it's more about actually wearing the things you've made.

 Tatie cardigan -- Pattern by  NCL Knits

Tatie cardigan -- Pattern by NCL Knits

I have to admit, I don't wear my knits consistently.

I have phases where I will wear something I've made over and over, like this Old Growth cardigan by Tin Can Knits. When my daughter was little and still nursing, I barely left home without it (and wore it around the house as well!)

 Old Growth cardigan by Tin Can Knits

Old Growth cardigan by Tin Can Knits

 Love that side buttoning!

Love that side buttoning!

I actually tested the pattern for them way back when, and I love how comfy and easy to wear it is. 

Meanwhile some other gorgeous hand-knits have been languishing for years at the back of my closet. Wondering why exactly that is, I studied them carefully and thought about each one's perceived shortcomings. And I had a few epiphanies:

Wearing Your Knits: 5 lessons I've learned by Frogginette Knitting Patterns
  • The sleeve shaping type: I've realized that raglan generally works well for my shape. I like set-in sleeves but I am very particular about the way they should fit on my body, and I'm often disappointed in the way my hand-knits sit in the shoulder area. Very often I feel like the top of the sleeve cap is too narrow, and the seam where the sleeve attaches to the body is placed too far on the outside, towards the very edge or the shoulder or even beyond. (I have pretty square shoulders, too!) This results in the garment constantly feeling like it's slipping, not sitting well, and just not comfortable to wear.
  • The sleeve ease and length: I've learned that I shouldn't just follow directions when I knit sleeves. Instead I should study the schematic a bit more carefully make sure the sleeve ease and length will work for me. I have yet to knit a sweater where the sleeve didn't turn out a bit too tight or a bit too wide. To be fair, I think I'm quite picky there as well. And perhaps I have non-standard arms :D
  • The color: Have you ever noticed that the colors you are attracted to at the yarn store are not necessarily the ones that look the best on you? I love very muted hues, greys, faded lilacs, soft blues... (I mean... just look at that pile of knits above!) Yet I notice that I look much better when I wear jewel tones, deep or bright greens or reds. 
  • The buttons: I have more than a few cardigans that just don't get worn because I made the wrong button choice. Annoyingly heavy buttons for a comparatively thinner yarn. Too-small buttons that slip through the buttonholes easily (this happens too if the yarn is slippery, for example if it has silk content). Cute or fancy buttons that end up distracting from the knit itself.
  • The choice of yarn: Selecting the right yarn for a sweater is no small feat. I've noticed that if the yarn is too precious and delicate, I will simply not wear the garment for fear of damaging it during my day-to-day activities (my kids LOVE to yank on my sleeves to get my attention and they routinely attack me with spiky toy dinosaurs. Ouch!). On the other hand, if I'm going to invest lots of time knitting a sweater for myself, I want the yarn to be special enough. So there has to be a balance. For me, that means using a relatively rugged yarn: Malabrigo Rios, which I used for my Old Growth above, or perhaps Madelinetosh Vintage or Cascade Eco... 

What about you? What are your tips for creating wearable knits?

Entrechat hack: two-colors

Over the years some of my favorite projects that knitters have made from my Entrechat pattern were ones involving two or more colors.

Two-color Entrechat by Frogginette Knitting Patterns #malabrigo

I think using two colors works so well for my Entrechat pattern: it underlines the unusual construction and makes the textured band really pop.

I decided to make a two-tone Entrechat using two Malabrigo Rios colorways: Water Green as the main color and Teal Feather as a contrasting color:

Here's a basic how-to:

First, a word of warning: you have to be willing to weave in a few ends! I made this using intarsia, which means that for the rows where I had contrasting color on both ends of my knitting, I used two separate balls of contrasting color yarn, one on each end, and the main color yarn for the middle.

- So before you start, wind up a small ball (about 1.5 to 2 inches - that's about 4-5 cm in diameter) from your main contrasting color (CC) yarn ball, which you'll use for the intarsia bits.

Two-color Entrechat shrug by Frogginette Knitting Patterns #malabrigo

- Cast on your project using the larger ball of CC yarn and follow instructions until you have your 4 garter ridges from the cast on edge. Cut CC yarn.

- On next RS row, switch to the main color yarn (MC) and follow the pattern until the sleeve stitches are bound off. Cut MC yarn.

- Join CC (larger ball) to pick up the stitches along the raglans and until you are ready to start the "Work Body" section.

- To work the textured band:

RS: K4 in CC (from the larger ball), join MC and work as explained in the pattern to 4 sts from end of row, leave MC hanging at the back of your work and join CC from the separate small ball, k4, (it will seem like you have a big gap where you joined the yarns but this will be fixed later when you weave in the ends).

WS: K4 using the smaller ball of CC, then leave CC hanging and pick up your MC (crossing/wrapping it around the CC to close the gap) and work to 4 sts from end of row, leave MC hanging and pick up CC from the larger ball (crossing/wrapping it around the MC) and k4.

- Keep working the textured band rows in this way -- you might need to untangle your three balls of yarns once in a while -- oh the joys of colorwork ;)

- When you reach the part in the pattern where you are given the length of the textured band, work the following RS in CC using the two balls of CC yarn and leaving the MC hanging (you can "carry it" at the back of your work, just twisting it with your working yarn as you encounter it).

- When you have worked the two garter ridges and you are ready to work the increase row, work the first 4 sts in CC using the larger ball of yarn, then pick up your MC to do the increases and switch to the CC from the smaller ball for the last 4 sts. Continue in this way using the three balls of yarn until you reach the given measurements, but instead of ending on a RS row as instructed, end on a WS row. Cut the MC yarn and the CC yarn from the smaller ball of yarn.

- On the next RS: using the CC from the larger ball of yarn, knit one row. Then work the ridges with the buttonhole according to the pattern.

- Last but not least: Weave in all those ends neatly.

TA-DA! A lovely two-color Entrechat!!

Two-color Entrechat shrug by Frogginette Knitting Patterns #malabrigo

By the way... I will be hosting an Entrechat KAL in June! I will announce the details soon.

Instagram photo-a-day: Yarnlovechallenge Day 22: Currently Wearing

Instagram photo-a-day: Yarnlovechallenge Day 7: Stripes

Round up of beautiful projects for babies and kids: Hyphen cardigan

When I released my Hyphen knitting pattern 9 months ago, I had no idea that it would quickly become one of my best-sellers. Many knitters have since then made adorable versions of this quick and practical cardigan for lucky babies and children.

I think there's something about the design that really allows knitters to make it their own. The textured yoke can be either a subtle, sophisticated touch that elevates a simple cardigan, or it can really make a statement. The whole cardigan can also serve as a great canvas for some serious creativity. These projects are a few of my favorites, made by very talented knitters (photos used with permission):

By the way, did you know that there is now a grown-up version now as well? It's called Em Dash, which, in case you are wondering, is a large hyphen... Get it? ;)

Did you make a Hyphen? What is your favorite thing about it? If you have a blog, please give us the link to your project so everybody can see!

 

 

 

Powder Blue: a squishy summer cardi for little girls

I am happy to present my latest design to you. I called it "Powder Blue" after the beautiful colorway of the Millamia naturally soft aran yarn I used for the sample.

Powder Blue by Frogginette Knitting Patterns

 

The yarn's perfect stitch definition really brings out the cable/seed stitch combination that is featured in this pattern. I wanted a short-sleeved cardigan with a sweet A-line swingy shape (my favorite, as you know!) that would really stand out. Cables and seed stitch add the perfect touch of chic, but since they are used sparingly, they keep things interesting without slowing you down too much.

Powder Blue by Frogginette Knitting Patterns

I also added a little seed stitch accent at the back to emphasize the empire waist.

Powder Blue by Frogginette Knitting Patterns

In spite of its name, I have used the Millamia aran as a worsted weight yarn, which is what I recommend for this pattern. A fun, seamless knit, Powder Blue is worked from the top down (without the need for circular needles by the way) and the result is a comfortable yet sophisticated summer cardigan for active little ladies or an extra layer for a new baby girl. Sizes available are 3mo to 8yo.

Powder Blue is available on Loveknitting, Ravelry and here on my website.

Hyphen

I am so grateful for the unbelievable response you guys have given my newest release, Hyphen!

As always I was trying to come up with an effective, practical, well-fitting design that was free of fiddly techniques and potential headaches. The circular yoke is worked seamlessly from the top down in worsted weight (I used Malabrigo Rios) so it's a breeze to complete. The button bands are worked as you go, too. The textured stitch is incredibly easy and fun to knit, and it make semi-solid colorways really shine:

The result is a very comfy everyday cardigan that works for babies as well as bigger kids. It's distinctive-looking in an understated way, and it's gender-neutral, too, so it's the perfect gift for any baby shower. The sizes go from 3mo to 8yo.

If you're thinking you'd like one in your size, you'll be pleased to know that I'm working on a grown-up version! If you'd like to make sure you don't miss its release (or any of my new pattern releases) you can sign up to my newsletter (the sign-up form is in the right sidebar) and you'll be notified right away.

I've decided to host a knitalong for it in my Ravelry group, Club Frogginette, as well as on Instagram. It's started already but feel free to join, there's still plenty of time until May 20th. To participate either join my group or follow me on Instagram (I'm Frogginette on there too) and make sure you use the tag or hashtag "HyphenKAL" so everybody can see your progress! I will select 5 winners from the pool of finished, tagged projects, and those winners will receive a prize!

 

Chuck

Love this little sweater, I’ve been wanting to use this motif for a long time to make a sophisticated “Charlie Brown” sweater, with a big zigzag feature. Of course the motif could be omitted and leave the knitter with a great crew neck sweater template that could be personalized.

I think this will be so adorable on little dudes, but would work for little girls too of course! 
The construction is a breeze, top-down and completely seamless with just a few short rows at the neckline for a more comfortable fit.

Chuck calls for worsted weight yarn like Malabrigo Rios and is available in sizes 3mo to 8yo. You can purchase the pattern here