I want to thank you all so much for your kind words about Flight! What a delicious few weeks it’s been. I’ve so appreciated old friends and acquaintances reconnecting after seeing my name in the Wool People 8 collection and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed chatting with knitters who want to make this design their own. I had the pleasure of doing an interview about Flight for the Brooklyn Tweed blog, which gave me an opportunity to tell this sweater’s story (and mine). Even more fun is seeing the first projects take shape on Ravelry. There’s a blue one, a lilac one… so many possibilities. My own first idea was to transition from browns through blues to white, but I really love the subtle play of the warm and cool browns we finally settled on. I can’t tell you how long I sat on the window seat with my whole collection of Brooklyn Tweed neutrals, squinting at one bunch after another. I knew the body of the sweater would be Pumpernickel, but there are so many ways you can proceed from there within the BT palette! Just for fun, here’s a not-quite-right version I knit up back in March to test a possible gradient:

Flight Swatchcap (2 of 2)

This hat used Truffle Hunt, Stormcloud, Barn Owl, and Woodsmoke as the contrast colors, which wasn’t a smooth shift in value and also seemed a little cool. So we took Stormcloud out of the mix, swapped Barn Owl for Nest, and brought Fossil in as the palest shade, and that grouping made the cut for the final design. A word on hats as swatches—Elizabeth Zimmermann was the first to propose this idea, as far as I know, making the argument that a circular garment ought to be swatched circularly, and why not end up with a useful accessory in the end? It was good advice. I don’t always follow it—I’ll often make a quick circular swatch for a colorwork project and then just cut it open to see how it’s going to look—but Flight’s long carries would be maddening to attempt on a small circumference. The pattern includes enough padding in the yardage requirements to knit an adult size hat like this one while you’re perfecting your three-color technique and making sure you love your chosen hues. My hat used 14 repetitions of the chart (fudged with more decreases toward the top to achieve a hat crown rather than a neck opening).

Melissa asked in the comments whether I’d suggest alternate yarns for those who can’t easily lay hands on Loft. (And sorry, Melissa, that I didn’t see your comment before you went shopping! I’m afraid I only just freed a bunch of lovely comments from filter purgatory last evening.) The answer is that it will work in anything fingering weight that isn’t too slippery. (I think superwash sock yarn might be unforgiving to carry evenly across long floats and you could end up with sloppy colorwork. But I haven’t tried it. It might be just fine, but definitely make a swatch cap to be sure!) The closest substitutes will be woolen-spun yarns like Jamieson & Smith’s Shetland offerings. I see European knitters using Holst Garn’s fingering weight in place of Loft pretty regularly. Both of those companies have a deep palette of color choices to give you just the gradient you want. A test knitter for my Winter Garden jumper introduced me to a Vermont-made yarn called Blackberry Ridge 100% Wool Fingering, which comes in shorter put-ups so you won’t be left with huge amounts of the contrast colors unused—an attractive option for knitters on a budget. If you’ve got a stash of Rowan Yorkshire Tweed from before it was discontinued—don’t tell me, because I might come rob your house—that could be glorious for a version with bolder chevrons. And of course, if you want to go luxe, a yarn with angora or cashmere content would give you a beautiful halo that would blend the colors even further, as in the fabulous Bohus Stickning sweaters. Toots LeBlanc’s natural shades of merino-angora, for instance… swoon.

I’m off to ScanFair, because I need to admit it’s December, and nothing gets the holiday engines revving like hand-carved wooden horses and little felt woodspeople and Scandinavian pastries. I’ll find a little something beautiful the Tomten can slip into the children’s Advent stockings, because that seems to be the quirky holiday tradition I’ve invented for my kids. Last evening he left a little sack of peppermint tea, and before that a miniature harmonica that one of my great-aunts Priscilla meant to give someone for Christmas in 1974. Santa can come to the grandparents’ houses, and I’ve quite enjoyed knitting stockings for the purpose, but he’s rather too commercial for me. I like the watchful mystery of Advent, I like the stable full of animals and the humble birth of a great ethicist, I like Saint Nicholas who looks out for the children and leaves treats in their shoes, I like the daily small magic of the winter world. But I’ll dodge all the over-the-toppery while I can, thank you. Tonight it’s Lesson & Carols at the cathedral. I love this service, despite a niggling worry that I’ll set fire to my music with the candle one of these years. Wishing you hope and light and calm in these short days.



Photograph copyright Jared Flood 2014

Whee! I can’t quite tell you how thrilled I am to have a design in the Wool People 8 collection without grabbing your hands and jumping up and down… you’ll have to imagine that part. Oh, my brown sweater. Drab as it sounds, that’s how I refer to it amongst the few friends and family who saw it take shape last summer. My knitting sisters, Katrin and Martha, who each put a few long rounds into the body for me while I drove the car to Bainbridge Island and back on a girls’ weekend. (Seriously, we humans can land a probe on a comet somewhere off Jupiter but we don’t have self-driving cars commercially available yet? How is this possible?) My family, who watched the sleeves grow as we all huddled around the television watching World Cup fútbol. My husband, who fielded texts full of unladylike language when I realized I’d made the ultimate careless error, setting aside the wrong number of underarm stitches on one side, a mistake that meant there was nothing for it but to rip 14,000 yoke stitches less than a week before the deadline. (He had no visceral understanding of the tragedy, but knew enough, stout fellow, to be sympathetic whilst volunteering to pick the kids up from school and feed everybody for a couple of days.)

This sweater is born of a decade’s learning and inspiration. Elizabeth Zimmermann is here in the seamless yoke construction. The contrast cuffs and hem are especially for her. The brilliant mid-century Bohus Stickning designers get all the credit for the techniques that make the colorwork sing. I turned to Amy Herzog and Ysolda Teague for guidance on flattering, contemporary shaping of the torso. Jared Flood saw promise in the design and helped me bring it to maturity, choosing the final color palette himself. I’m grateful all around and feel just plain blessed to be alive in the wonderful worldwide community of knitters at this remarkable moment in the craft. Thank you all so very much for the warm reception you’ve given this design.

Now my little brown sweater is out there in the big leagues, in extraordinarily fine company. (I mean, look at this. And this. And I’m totally planning to knit one of these and one of these for myself. Pretty sure Ada and I need matching cabled berets, too.) Treat yourself to a pot of tea and the whole Wool People 8 lookbook if you haven’t already.