6/8/2014 – Sail Away Project Particulars from Knits That Breathe

The shrug is one of knitting’s most versatile projects. Yet there are many who assume it’s necessary to be thin, or young, or flat-chested to wear one. I might even have thought that myself, once upon a time.

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Now that I’ve been taking advantage of every possible opportunity to wear my Sail Away shrug, though, I’m newly converted to its charms. Sail Away takes its name from the wavelike all-over lace design I chose for the project – it was perfect. There are only two short seams to create the sleeves. And, you have the option either to leave the sleeves wide, kimono-style, or to knit Garter stitch cuffs for a bit more structure, as shown here.

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When would you want to wear a shrug? you ask. Maybe the better question is when wouldn’t you want to wear a shrug?

Movie theater feels like a walk-in freezer? Unfold it from your purse and wrap up in it.

Office ventilation system making you shiver? Pull it out of your desk drawer and put it on.

An unexpected chill in the air on your early morning power walk? Thank goodness you had the presence of mind to bring it along!

As one of the few wool-blend projects in Knits That Breathe, the Sail Away shrug is an anomaly. But Sportmate yarn from Lorna’s Laces was too good to pass up. That Superwash merino wool is blended with Outlast™, a high-tech fiber used in the aerospace industry to regulate body temperature. That means if you’re feeling a chill, the Outlast helps retain body heat. And if you’re running hot, it helps cool you down.

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As Lorna’s Laces puts it:

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6/3/2014 – Splash Cardigan Project Particulars (Knits That Breathe)

Long overdue for a new post here at Julie Turjoman Design. Chalk it up to house guests and the need to finish up edits and proofing of my next book.

Let’s talk about the Splash Cardigan from Knits That Breathe, shown below fastened asymmetrically with a shawl pin.

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Here are the characteristics I invariably look for in a cardigan, and was happy to incorporate into Splash:

  • Lace or openwork design for air flow
  • Short or elbow-length sleeves (so I don’t have to keep pushing up longer ones, which drives me crazy)
  • Breathable fabric that allows me to wear the cardi all day (cotton and bamboo blend here)
  • Drape-y, body-skimming design because that swishy style makes me feel instantly cooler

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Designing Splash as a top-down cardigan was another deliberate choice, leaving only short underarm seams to complete before blocking. If you’re going to make a hip-length cardigan, after all, do you really want to have to sew lots of long seams when the knitting is done?

I didn’t think so!

Let’s take a look at a few more details:

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The lace design repeats in a simple border toward the end of the sleeves. Lest you get tired of all that lace on the fronts, I kept the back side plain Stockinette.

The top-down shoulders also include simple yarn overs, adding to its cool feel and appearance.

I included faux side seams, made by carrying a slipped stitch up into the next row before knitting it to give the appearance of seams. It’s the kind of design element I like to use – another detail that makes the finished garment just a little more special.

And the yarn… oh, yes – the yarn. Can I tell you how much I enjoyed working with Valley Yarns’ Southwick? The 52% pima cotton and 48% bamboo fiber blend is absorbent and drapes beautifully. Minimal blocking was required. Despite the fact that it’s a swanky Italian import, this yarn is well-priced (and on sale right now at WEBS for only $5.39/ball) and available in a veritable rainbow of 26 colors. Although it was a little splitty on the needles, I found that a minor inconvenience once I saw how beautifully it knits up.3669.24YELLOW.detail.2

As far as Splash is concerned, the overlapping lace fronts mean that you can wear it either open or fastened with a shawl pin as demonstrated above. I like the added versatility… this allows for changing up the look of the cardigan just enough to keep it interesting.

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I wish I was on that San Francisco beach right now, toes in the sand, bracing tang of salt in the air. But if I can’t be there, Splash at least allows me to pretend!

5/21/2014 – Breezy Project Particulars, Knits That Breathe

Worked in two pieces – front and back – Breezy is one of those summer projects that works up quickly but looks like you slaved over it. Its A-line shaping means that it epitomizes comfort, but those deep lace borders mean it looks smashing over a skirt as well as with jeans.

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Picot cast-on and the extravagant lace pattern are the special details that take a bit of time and thought, but give you the satisfaction of knowing you’ve earned those rows of easy Stockinette for the upper body. A centered chest pocket features the same lace motif as the deep borders, and adds interest to the swathe of Stockinette from the waist up.

On cooler days, pop this tunic over a lightweight tee shirt and you’ll be happily comfortable. On hot days, I’m happy to confirm that the absorbent organic cotton and sleeveless design combine forces to keep you cool.

And because the top is not at all sheer you needn’t worry about modesty. In fact, you won’t need to wear even a camisole underneath when a glance at the thermometer tells you it’s tropical outside.

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And maybe it’s just me, but one of the things I love about those deep lace panels is that I can reach my jeans pockets easily by sliding a hand in from the side.

Classic Elite Yarns Verde Collection is the company’s range of environmentally conscious fibers, which are all about natural comfort. Seedling is the smiling poster child for organic cotton; robust yet surprisingly lightweight, machine washable, and available in a lovely color palette. For our purposes, it’s important to note that it’s also highly absorbent, blissfully soft, wonderfully textured, and well-priced.

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Knits That Breathe – Sirena Tunic Project Particulars

Silk, lace, and beading… a combination that automatically says “dressy” to me. As embodied in the Sirena tunic, this happy blend of elements results in a flowing top that thrills with understated elegance and special details.

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Hand Maiden Yarn’s Flaxen, a marriage of 65% silk and 35% linen, offers the knitter the delicious softness and color saturation of silk as well as the crisp stitch definition and subtle texture of linen, resulting in a yarn that glides dreamily through the fingers. The two fibers absorb dye differently, giving Flaxen a lovely semi-solid appearance with depth and quiet variegation. The tunic’s beautiful drape grows softer and more luscious with each washing, making Sirena a classic design that only gets better with time and wear.

The scoop neck and open sleeves (seamed only at the shoulders and at the edges) add as much to its cool appearance as the vertical allover lace.

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A lovely little vintage mother-of-pearl button closes the keyhole back at the neck.

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The beaded detail at the hem subtly accentuates the lace border. And if the beads seem like too much of a good thing, knitters should feel free to omit them – the lace points have sufficient appeal to stand on their own.

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Easing over the hips, Sirena can be worn a multitude of ways; belted or not, over a long floating skirt or sleek silk pants. With simple construction and just enough shaping to make the most of your assets, I hope this tunic will quickly become a staple in your wardrobe.

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