Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Lillehammer Cardigan, all done, and some Deep Thoughts


Naturally, the minute I start mooning about winter, the sun comes out and it turns as balmy as May outside.  Well, I wore this sweater anyway.  It will be winter soon enough, and I will be skiing around town wearing this and other woolies, with snowflakes staying on my nose and eyelashes, so I am not complaining about a nice day, not a bit. 


The dressmaker’s dummy has much narrower shoulders than I do, although they are weirdly wide going front to back, which I don’t understand and can’t adjust, so she doesn’t show off the yoke to its best advantage.  She also lists to the side like a drunk, which makes me laugh a little every time.  But without her, you get this:


(This is the latest in a photographic series featuring my chest, all part of an effort to immortalize my impeccable collarbones, which is, of course, the first thing one notices.  Right?) 


When you are reduced to bragging about your collarbones, you know there’s not much left to brag about.  At least this one has my face in it, looking severe as a mean old auntie as usual, but it does not actually show you the sweater…


This pattern is The Charlemont Cardigan [Ravelry link] by Elizabeth Parker from the Fall 2011 issue of Knitscene.  I don’t know what “charlemont” means, so I’ll probably call it something else.  This was a speedy knit, and the result is very cozy.


I’m often asked how I manage to finish things so quickly, and I was as interested as you in knowing the answer, so I pondered it for awhile, and I think I’ve figured it out.  It was not always thus—back in the 1990’s when all I was knitting was men’s XXXL sweaters (for myself!  I know!) I hardly ever finished anything before I got bored and just gave up.  I once spent a whole year making a supremely hideous brown pullover that never even saw the light of day—the sleeves were something like two feet wide, and I just got so sick of working on it.  I don’t know what on earth moves a fashion trend toward something that insane, but it seemed at the time like you just couldn’t have a big enough sweater.  They seemed snuggly and cozy, and since wearing them was like walking around in a sleeping bag, they sure were cozy, you bet.  But not very practical, and also difficult to finish.  (I do sympathize with those of you out there who must knit for a very large husband.  My husband is nicely mid-sized, and he doesn’t actually want me to knit for him anyway, so that works out pretty well.)  Anyway, so part of the reason I get stuff done fast is that I almost always make the XS or Small size.  I like a sweater with very little ease, so there’s less knitting to do. 


Also, I have learned to knit without looking.  This only works with plain stockinette or garter stitch, but there is often quite a lot of that in a sweater or scarf (or blanket or sock) and it is probably the cleverest trick in my arsenal.  It was well worth the effort, let me tell you.  I can work on a project and do other things, too, like read or pay attention to a movie with subtitles or look someone in the eye while we talk.  That helps me get a lot done. 


The last reason, also the biggest, is that I am a very fast knitter.  I’ve been knitting for more than thirty years, and as I go, my hands are a blur.  That’s just me reaping the benefits of a LOT of practice, and the fact that I am always, always doing it.  (Hmmm, I also begin to wonder whether knitting has become a compulsive habit—must look into some therapy.)  Then there’s the fact that since I’ve made so many sweaters and socks and hats and stuff that I am pretty well acquainted at this point with how they go together, and so don’t have to spend too much time squinting at the pattern.  I just grab the needles and go.  It’s taken a lot of time spent with yarn to get to this point, but there you go.

So there’s that answered, and I’m glad you asked, since I wondered, too. 


  1. Kristen, your sweater is gorgeous, and you do not look stern at all. I can knit when I am not looking at it if it is an easy pattern, my friends think I have a fabulous talent. You do get a ton of very lovely thing completed in a quick time, congrats.

  2. Geeze what took you so long? It's been like two whole days since you started that sweater! Hee ha you are a speed demon with the sticks! That color is really nice and I love your short hair. I'm going in Thursday for a cut and seriously considering cutting mine off again (always been a short hair girl myself, but after hitting 50 it feels like I have one last chance at longer hair). Anyway great sweater, I'm living vicariously through your knitted wardrobe, since I only use knitting needles to turn my sewing inside out. Cheers.

  3. What a brilliant post! I adore your cardi - and I am in awe at the speed you can produce such fabulous things. It will be absolutely perfect for winter. I had to laugh about your collarbones! Crazy woman - I was too busy looking at your gorgeous specs and fab hair cut). And as for knitting for over 30 years - you must have started in the womb!!!

    Have a fab week - enjoy your cardi!

  4. Ooh that sweater came out nice!I'd still be stuck on the ribbing after two days :-)
    Love love the cabinet in photo 4...

  5. Beautiful! You have done a fab job. Will get round to learning to knit one day!

  6. Looks wonderful. I wish I had the patience to knit like that oh and the collarbone lol!! X

  7. Lovely sweater on an even lovely lady. =) I think you rock short-short hair and wish I had the guts to chop all mine off.

    I see some Patons in the background of the 4th picture ... what are you planning on making with that?

  8. I love that cardi ... really suits you!

  9. Wow girl you are my hero! The cardi is beautiful! I love your pics. I also wondered about your speed knitting. I am probaby the opposite. I crochet very quickly and have only taken up serious knitting the past few years. I knit throw. I wonder if you do. I am patiently trying to knit continental it looks easier. Wondering about the pile of yarn in the backround. Whats that going to be? Looks enough for a blanket. Enjoyed your post so very much.

  10. Lovely cardigan. I get the collar bone thing...as I've watched mine disappear over the last year or two, or three, I tend to notice them on other people! Envious of your speedy knitting ways, too!

  11. Looks wonderful. Lovely cardigan.

  12. Beautiful sweater Kristen. I too having been knitting for 30 years plus and people are often amazed when they see me knitting so quickly! My only problem is now that at times (particularly in Winter) my fingers and knuckles ache a bit when I've done a mega knitting session. Old age creeping up I guess .... lol x