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The Drama of The Kauni Cardigan

In 2007 when I was a beginning knitter I got ambitious after reading the Yarn Harlot’s blog about the Kauni cardigan. I was on fire, I *had* to make it, it looked so cool!

Photo:  Ruth Sorensen's pattern

Photo: Ruth Sorensen’s pattern

Knitters from all over the world, were making this cardigan and the color variations were fascinating.

If somehow you missed hearing about it, the Kauni cardigan is a geometric patterned 2 color stranded fair isle style cardigan knit in the round and steeked, using 2 balls of Kauni fingering wool 8/2 Effektgarn EQ yarn – or the rainbow yarn – at a time, a gorgeous and modern pattern by Ruth Sorensen. According to Ravelry there are 383 cardigans in progress out there and I bet there are even more because in 2006/2007 Ravely was still in beta mode with a long waiting list for membership.

The Kauni yarn was not easy to get. I found a Danish website and ordered from there and it took several months to arrive. The lady was so sweet though and gave me two skeins of Kauni sock yarn in bright red as a thank you and for apologies for the VAT and export taxes I had to pay.
Kauni yarn!

My first order of Kauni yarn

I had never knit in the round before and made many mistakes. I remember it was in August in 2007 and I was sitting by the pool in the shade at my late beau’s home, in my damp swimsuit and wet hair, trying to cast on in the 90+ F heat, counting the hundreds of stitches and joining in the round until I got it right, I think it took several weekends to get going properly but I was determined and excited. Then I ran into trouble.

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Interesting color combinations but you have to go with the flow

I made an error with the pattern and had to start over. Then I joined a KAL (Knit A Long) and learned about the different techniques for the bottom hem and decided I wanted to do a folded hem without a ribbed band, so I started again. Then my gauge was off because I was a new (and very loose) knitter and after knitting a good third of the sweater body in the the XL size the darned thing was over 70″ in circumference! This was a major ooops, I could have fit two of me in there.
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My circus tent Kauni, even Pogo was amazed. Miss that cat.

So I started again, and tried the Large pattern this time and things went swimmingly. I finished the yarn body and it was the right size and looked nice! But I ran out of yarn.

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Finished sweater body, ready for steeking. Love the color combinations here.

Another order was placed to Denmark and I ordered a boat load, literally, thinking I would make an identical, as much as one can with the variables with the yarn, for my sister.

A few months hiatus occurred until the yarn was delivered and then I cut my first steek. It was tremendously exciting. I did well, steady hands and heart. This was somewhere in the spring of 2008. I picked up the stitches for my first sleeve and breezed through it. I have a vague recollection that I did some modifications to the sleeve but who knows, I kept going. Why did this matter anyway, I thought.

Then life intervened, I left my job under traumatic circumstances and severe illness, I was on a medical leave and simultaneously unemployed. It was so nice to be “fired” while on medical leave, never mind the legality of this, and so it wasn’t until the fall of 2008 that I tried to knit Sleeve #2. Things were not going well. I was still very stressed and traumatized and not quite well yet, I was tense and my gauge wasn’t matching the gauge of the sweater body. I looked as if two different people had worked on the project. I breathed deeply, frogged the sleeve and started over. And again. And again.

When I got the gauge right I realized the two sleeves didn’t look the same in the colors. How could this be? After frogging Sleeve #2 a total of nine times I made a martini, looked at the pattern and my knitted work and it hit me. I did not follow the pattern correctly on Sleeve #1. The words written on Ruth’s pattern mocked me.

God fornøjelse/
Good luck

In my glee and haste and stress I really messed up and there was only one thing to do – frog Sleeve #1 and do both sleeves exactly as written in the pattern.

Meanwhile I was feeling better and formally on unemployment and looking for work. It was 2009, the worst recession in recent memory hit the United States. Even temporary agencies were not hiring. I had a temp job for a total of 8 days. I was frantic. In 2010 finally I found work after I my unemployment was “adjusted” to reflect the income I earned in 2009 – a whopping $40 a week. But my new job was lovely. The bag containing the Kauni cardigan mocked me from my knitting corner. I knew I needed to work on it but I just lost the heart to rip my hard won work back to balls of yarn. I know it’s only a sleeve but still it felt like utter destruction.

Fast forward two years….

Last night that I had a really harrowing experience trying to meet friends for drinks after work. I injured my ankle that is healing from surgery and got on the wrong bus because I wasn’t paying attention and I am taking pain medication and the stupid MUNI busses all have signs on the front that say GO NINERS or GO GIANTS and not the actual bus numbers and I missed that I got on an Express instead of the regular bus.

Don’t mistake me, I love our sports teams but these “team spirit” signs are really irritating when you are trying to figure out what bus is coming. Anyway, the bus driver finally relented and stopped in the middle of a block in a very bad part of town South of Market Street. I couldn’t walk, let alone, run away from the two different fights that broke out on that block or the man with the hypodermic syringe who was waving it in a stabby fashion at everyone near him, or the thuggish guy who asked me if I had a cell phone and then kept hanging around me. I walked a block with my cane looking as pissed off as I could and called an Uber to come and get me. It took 10 minutes, by then I was about ready to fall apart. I went home instead of meeting my friends, sobbed in the Uber while the driver handed me tissues and water, and took more pain medication and flopped on the bed with my TENS unit and ice packs until I calmed down.

To re-establish normalcy I looked at what was in my knitting corner and lace was out of the question. Then I saw the Kauni cardigan and thought, “F*** it, I’m going to do it.” And I did, I unravelled the entire Sleeve #1, it took several hours to do and by 9:30 pm I was done.

Since tonight was a disaster, I'm frogging this sleeve

Starting to unravel Sleeve #1. Isn’t it gorgeous though?

Looking at the cardigan I fell in love with it all over again. Sleeve #2 awaits me this weekend. I made a vow to my dear knitting buddy E___ that I would not start a new project until I finished this cardigan, and I will finish it before the end of the year.

Please wish me God fornøjelse.

Knitting on a Deadline

I volunteered to work on a secret project, a commission for a knitting sample and I am excited about how it is coming out.

I am not excited, however, about the feeling of knitting on a deadline. Time is running out! I am making good progress but I feel the pressure and the strain of it all. This is not what knitting should be, for me, nerve-making.

I realized that I have quite a few unfinished objects that I would like to work on, but lack the time/focus/energy.  To keep myself honest and to out myself for my Unfinished Objects (UFO’s), here is my list:

  • Weaving in the ends of the Craftsman Afghan, a very late Christmas present.  This has been gathering dust on the back of my settee, so I will probably have to wash and reblock it. 
  • Finishing the final 1/4 of the back of the Sea Tangles sweater, a gift that is a surprise.
  • Seaming the Sublime Sweetheart sweater
  • Blocking the Sublime Ruffled Edge sweater (I would really like to be wearing this now, it’s cold out!)
  • Knitting the collar for the Fog Chaser jacket, another late Christmas gift
  • Another commissioned project, the Brain Hat. I bet my friend thinks I totally failed on this request.
  • I should start up the Foggy SF Sky Scarf too, since I bungled it last year.
  • Then there is my albatross, the sleeves for the Kauni Rainbow Cardigan by Ruth Sorensen, from 2007!
  • I would also really like to knit socks with my new bacon sock yarn, I think the Skew pattern will be perfect for this yarn.
  • Socks needing darning. Would you believe I have six pairs of socks that need darning, and one that needs a moccasin sole created? I only have 3 pairs of socks to wear and we are in the thick of winter.

I am ashamed these projects have lingered so long, but this year has been an unusual year for me with the ankle surgery and the accompanying brain fog and lack of interest in doing anything.  Last year’s shoulder repair also hampered me greatly, I am so glad it is better now.

Struggling with fatigue and burnout from the persistent SSS (stiffness, soreness and stabby pain) of my healing ankle is not helping my knitting time.

Meanwhile I look at the clock and watch it tick, tick, tick, and worry that I won’t make my upcoming deadline.

Worrying about knitting, no bueno.   Sigh.

Finished Objects: The Oakland Shawl

Before I finished my medical leave I finished my gorgeous Oakland Shawl.  I love this shawl so much!!

Something I do on the weekends

The Oakland Shawl lounges on my antique rocking chair when I am not wearing it, and it is keeping yet another pair of Turkish Bed Socks company.

The Kauni yarn really is perfect for this pattern.  It’s made from one ball of the EQ or rainbow colorway, and one ball of the EC or gradations of grey yarn and is just garter stitch with a yarnover and added stitch at each end to make the triangle shape, easy enough to do while healing mind and body.  I was quite pleased that the color combinations of the last rows were orange and black (almost black), the colors of our San Francisco Giants!!  They won the World Series this year too, perhaps good yarn juju had a part?

I cozy up in it on cool days, drape it over a coat or wear it like a scarf.  On cool weekend days you might find me propped up in bed with tons of pillows and a flask of hot Earl Grey tea and this shawl draped over my feet while I read magazines or knit something delicious.

I have encouraged my friend A___ to try her hand at this one because I think this shawl in a combination of browns and other mushroomy shaded yarn would look divine on her.

It’s tempting to knit another one, perhaps in a blue? What colors do you think?  Here’s a link to where I buy this gorgeous yarn, and all the colors they have available.

More Mini Sweaters and Learning Lessons on Adaptations

I spent a few days with my dearest friend from childhood and her darling parents. It was much needed during a time of travail and stress.

For this little break I brought with me the möbius cowl I was living in Malabrigo merino, Arroyo in the colorway Glitter. To me the colors remind me of the falling mulberry leaves that litter the city right now.

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The original pattern from Cat Bordhi for “Your First Möbius Cowl” uses a heavier weight yarn so my first attempt I tripled the stitches but it was yards too long. My second attempt, photographed above, I doubled the stitches, but when I got near the end of the yarn I realized it too would also be entirely way too long. So next to a cozy fire, listening to the rain pounding on the roof, I unwound the entire thing and I’m ready to start again. Lessons learned when adapting yarn to a pattern: do better math.

Meantime, to distract myself from stress, I knitted my hostess several mini sweaters just for the whimsy factor. She was so delighted, the whole family just giggled as we perched my mini sweaters on our evening’s bottle of wine.

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This little mini was knit using remnants of Kauni yarn for Laura’s “Rainbow Bridge” Wingspan shawl. She wears it like a hug that I intended for her, and collects many compliments from people who see it on her. It’s quite lovely and suits her to a T.

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(my pal, her Kauni Wingspan and a guide dog puppy!)

I spent some time with my friend’s mom, going over the joys of Ravelry and looking over a knitting projects she started years ago that had a bit of a problem. She’s excited to be knitting again and I was encouraging her by describing the mental and well-being benefits of knitting.

Last night, while the rain continued to bucket down, I finished yet another mini sweater – this time using a bit of leftover Freia yarn – for her white wines.

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Over dinner of picked cracked crab, Caesar salad and sourdough bread we laughed over the lavender mini sweater and how perfectly it fit the slender neck of the Navarro Pinot Grigio.

I also started a sock for me in the Crazy Zauberball, just a plain two-by-two rib, that I stashed in my beautiful knitting bag from Nathan of Knit1Eat1.

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Nathan also made a perfectly designed messenger bag for me in the same fabric with accents of cream and dove grey. I haven’t stopped wearing it since it arrived, and I’m sad that the rainy season has started and I’ll have to put it away for just a little while.

I’m also working on a sample pattern for a wonderfully talented designer, but I won’t be posting pictures until I’m given the okay from her. But I can say that the design is beautiful and I am thrilled to death every time I pick up this project. The yarn for the project is from A Verb For Keeping Warm in Oakland in a beautiful silk butter hued lightweight yarn.

As I’ve mentioned before, knitting has provided me with comfort and solace when I’m stressed or upset, provided amusement in the whimsical little gifts that I give my friends, and it gives me great pleasure in being able to make something beautiful for myself such as this möbius cowl and cute, crazy socks.

What also helps me feel better are puppies, lots and lots of darling Labrador puppies! Don’t you think they’re enough to make anyone smile?

Enjoy!

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(If you think these puppies are cute, you should make a donation to Guide Dogs for the Blind or make a visit to their lovely visitor center. It’s a wonderful project and they really could use your help. I was so impressed that they provide over 800 guide dogs each year for visually impaired people at no charge!)

Mini Sweaters

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At Christmas we love decorating our tree with ornaments that were purchased from our local church craft fair and throughout the years one dear lady has been gifting my family with miniature sweaters as ornaments.

I found a little book about how to make miniature sweaters in a yarn shop in Pt. Reyes Station and was so tickled to be able to knit them myself. They are adorable little things to give away any time of the year.

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My miniature socks, hats, and sweaters have become quite the collectible items in my circle of friends. Sometimes it’s really funny when they open up the tiny package and find the miniature whatever, the puzzled looks on their faces crack me up. They say politely, “Oh it’s a tiny sweater, what do I do with it?” I just laugh and recommend they put it on a bottle of whiskey, to keep it warm naturally. They also make great drip catchers for wine, no more dirty tablecloths!

With the yarn left over from my Oakland Shawl I made a few sweaters. First I knitted the sweater body.

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I divided the stitches to make the sweater back.

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On the other needle I knitted the sweater front and the soldiers.

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I sewed together the shoulders using the three needle bindoff.

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Making the neckline is next, knitting the stitches left on the two needles plus picking up four on each shoulder.

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It’s kind of messy looking at this point with all of the loose threads hanging about, but I just ignore this and begin to sew up the sides of the sweater. Everything at this point is done with the miniature sweater inside out.

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When I divided the sweater for the front and back in natural armhole is created. In order to match the armhole on the other side I use my finger as a guide.

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With the sweater body done I weave in the loose threads to tidy up the sweater,

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The tiny sleeves are fun to make, just twelve stitches!

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To sew the sleeves on the sweater body again I use my finger to hold the sleeve in place while I seam up the edges.

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Ta da! A darling miniature sweater is done, perfect for any occasion. If only knitting a person-sized sweater was this easy.

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The Kauni yarn gradually shifts colors going from orange to red, and I like the color variations in the miniature sweaters. I used a little bit of leftover sock yarn to make the third sweater.

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Making these tiny things really cheers me up and so do the colors. I will probably be making more over the next few weeks.

On To New Things – The Oakland Shawl

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The rainbow Bridge scarf in memory of Pogo is now done and it is time for me to try to move onto new things.

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I went on to Ravelry to look at patterns that people used with the beautiful Kauni yarn from Denmark and found the beautiful Oakland Shawl by Sally Brandl.

Happily, the pattern is one that I can do while I am in the healing process, when my brain is fuzzy and my mental acuity is not so great. The Oakland Shawl is perfect as it is mainly garter stitch with a yarn over here and there along each edge and along the spine.

I do love working with this yarn despite it being sticky and sheepy, but the color changes are so lovely and it’s fun to keep going to see the colors change in your hands.

It is worked with two balls of the Kauni yarn, one in the rainbow and one that morphs between light gray to dark gray.

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After just a few days of easy knitting, the shawl began to take shape and I’m thrilled with the results. This will be quite a large shawl that I can wrap around me like a big hug.

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Sometimes, while knitting this shawl, I fall asleep holding the yarn in my hands. This is the purpose of why I knit, it calms and relaxes me and soothes my frazzled nerves. It keeps my hands busy when my mind is restless and makes me happy knowing I’m going to have something beautiful to wear very soon.

Rainbow Bridge Scarf Update

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I am cranking along on my rainbow Kauni Wingspan scarf!

Just a few days ago it was just a mere baby with a few rows cast on.

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The next day, a nap-free day mind you, it had quickly grown in my hands with barely any effort. The changing colors are such a pleasure to watch from shade to shade.

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Today I am working on the 7th triangle in the pattern and I have gone through the entire spectrum.

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I hope to finish this tonight or tomorrow but I am watching Gene Wilder’s “Haunted Honeymoon” and it’s so funny I keep forgetting what I’m doing!

In other happy news my extra ball of Kauni yarn arrived in the grey/black colorway and I have an exciting yet simple (brainfree) shawl I am going to start next. I am very pleased to be able to find knitting projects that can keep me occupied while I am healing and in the “bear of very small brain” phase.

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