Christmas Cables

Along with the yarn for my mother’s sweater, I bought some yarn for a classic Aran sweater at the Southern Adirondack Fiber Fest. Like every other knitter on the planet, I’ve got a slow burn for a heavily cabled, cream colored sweater.

 I’ve had Stonecutter by Michelle Wang in my queue forever, and Snoqualmie (also by Michelle) made it to the top of my queue when it came out. 

Stonecutter sweater
Stonecutter, copyright Brooklyn Tweed
Snoqualmie sweater
Snoqualmie, copyright Brooklyn Tweed

I’ve got a desperate need to make Snoqualmie, but I want to make it in the yarn it’s intended to be made with and it may take me a good decade to be able to buy that much Brooklyn Tweed at once. So on the back burner that one sits. 

The chart for Stonecutter has got to be a work of art in itself, but it’s not really a classic Aran sweater. I would still love to knit it, but my yarn doesn’t seem like a perfect fit. 

Oh yes, the yarn. I was on a wild goose chase for the perfect wooly rustic yarn to knit my sweater with and I found it at the booth of a yarn store in Greenwich, NY –called Yarn (they don’t have a website?). It’s Adirondack DK, grown and spun right in the Adks. So obviously I was pretty smitten with it. Yarn was having a sale on it which was excellent because I watched a sweater’s worth slide in under my budget with the same apprehension that you watched your Aunt Ethel shimmy under the limbo stick at your wedding. Relief all around.

Lots of yarn

So I hunted for a pattern and looked mainly at Brooklyn Tweed, who I’ve been showering with my love and appreciation for years. I found Bronwyn by Melissa Wehrle which is written for worsted weight, but decided to do the math to make it work with my yarn. 

Bronwyn sweater
Bronwyn, copyright Brooklyn Tweed

I typically knit a 34-37 inch bust for myself depending on what I want in fit. the sweater is written for 4 to 5 inches of ease for an oversized fit. I was having a hard time choosing between 37.75 and 40.5 for a size and decided to swatch. I started with one needle size down because of my yarn weight and didn’t love the cables, so I sized down another needle and the fabric was perfect, but the gauge was way off. I decided to use those Math Skills I taught the Youth of America and found that if I knit the 44.5 inch size, I would end up with a sweater between the 37 and the 40 inch sizes.

Since that sounded too good to be true I knit a sleeve as a test for my theory and holy smokes it worked! I’m casting on for the body today. I don’t think Christmas knitting can get any more perfect than white cables, do you? 


Sweater Update/Sleeve Rant

I have made quite a bit of progress on The Sweater. During the last few weeks, I finished the front and back, and am trudging along on a sleeve right now. In my sleeve cast on frenzy, I forgot that sleeves are easy to knit two at a time. I don’t enjoy knitting socks that way, but sleeves are decidedly less fussy than socks, especially when they’re knit flat. But I forgot. I’m one-sleeving it for the time being and willing it to grow faster than fingering weight garter stitch apparently wants to grow. I cast on for another sweater while I was still in New York, and began with the sleeve. I’m thinking that finishing the sleeves first on that one will be a good move for my overall morale. What is it about sleeves that invokes such quiet rage?

While casting on the back, I realized I’ve only knit a few other sweaters in pieces. You would think my aversion to sleeves would correspond with a hatred for seaming, but for some reason I seem (ha) to enjoy it. In a totally garter stitch sweater, I think seams are a smart bet to maintain its overall structure. I am oddly eager to sew this whole thing up.

I have made one boo boo (that I know of) so far, and I’m waiting to see if it actually needs to be fixed before I rip it out. Jut as I was finishing the front I realized I misunderstood the armpit shaping and decreased in the wrong spot, which made a more gradual slope than it should be. It’s unclear right now if there will be added bulk at the armpit as a result. Once I finish the sleeves and begin to assemble it I should be able to see whether or not I need to knit that spot again.

If you need me, I’ll be swearing at some sleeves.



The Sweater Dreams Are Made Of

There is a sweater. A sweater with a history. A sweater that was bought at a thrift store perhaps as far back as the 80’s. A sweater made of some sort of scary synthetic material that doesn’t seem to age. A sweater that might simply melt if it were to catch on fire (which parts of it probably have).   A sweater of confusing size. Is it a small? An extra large? Who can say? A sweater that is, and has always has been, brandless. A sweater that perhaps should not be worn in public anymore. But, a sweater that has not only been loved, but coveted, and repeatedly stolen by the women of the Burns house.  I’m talking about that legendary, light blue, confusingly nubby, mindbogglingly loose gauge, single cable, sweater of my dreams. That sweater originally resided with my mother, but seems to hop closets on a semi-regular basis. It’s witnessed Disney movies, poor decisions at college, European monuments, and currently it’s cruising around South America because my sister Emily swiped it. It’s the sort of sweater that endures.

Whenever I’ve asked my mother what type of sweater she would want me to knit for her she always asks for one just like her blue sweater. I’ve attempted in the past, but alas, did not understand gauge so well. I seem to have a much better handle on it now, and before we went to the Southern Adk Fiber Festival we talked again about what makes that sweater so perfect. We determined it’s the combination of a loosish gauge, a simple design, a somewhat oversize feeling, and a fabric that is warm but not overbearing. Before we went we decided it should be a cotton/wool blend. Other than the yarn blend and general size idea, we had no pattern or other thoughts. When we got to the festival, one of the first booths we got to caught my eye right away.


This and That Farm in VT had a cotton/cormo blend spun at Green Mountain Spinnery and I was pretty much hooked from the first squeeze. We wandered around to see other options, but both really wanted to buy directly from the woman who owns the farm. It was the most incredible yarn I saw at the whole fest. So we went back to buy it, and tried to figure out how much to buy. I was in a math frenzy on my phone, and the woman at the booth mentioned someone had knit a great Brooklyn Tweed pattern out of that yarn. Brooklyn Tweed’s patterns make me salivate openly, so I asked her which one and she pointed me toward Nord by Veronique Avery.

Copyright Brooklyn Tweed


IT’S THE SWEATER. But a grownup, public appropriate, hand knit version. I literally could have kissed her but decided  she probably just wanted to sell me some yarn and that’s it. I cast it on right away and have been knitting it on and off for a month or so. I just finished the front and it is such a clever construction. The yarn is perfectly light but has much more energy than I would think a cotton blend would. I seriously want every garment from here on out knit in this stuff. The finished sweater is going to be so lovely I just might steal it.

Just kidding, Mom.

Summer Musings And A New Sweater

I’ve been a neglectful blog owner these last few months, but I’m here to remedy that. Our summer of rafting and general outdoor guided adventuring has finally wound down. We still have a few more trips to go, but the energy is slower and more manageable. I knit throughout the summer, and tried in earnest to do at least a row or two every day, but there were quite a few days where it was all I could do to get home and collapse into bed. I truly enjoy the adrenaline that accompanies a busy summer. I like the logistical challenge each day brings, and working outdoors in a physical capacity is something I really enjoy. It was a tough summer for me physically, however. Guiding is a difficult job in that regard. I’m closing in on 27 but using my body for work in such a strenuous way each day makes me feel a lot creakier than what I assume is normal for a Millennial . There’s a whole lot of knee and back cracking going on at the end of the day. It’s incredibly demanding work but it always has an expiration date. I push my body to it’s physical exhaustion limit understanding that once Labor Day hits there will be rest.

This summer I added a wrench into the mix and sprained my knee early on. It took about six weeks of time to be able to walk on it, during which I wasn’t guiding. I still worked full time, but I did a lot of office work and directed traffic. My knee still isn’t 100%, but it is certainly better. I tried very hard to be patient, but it’s difficult for me not to view my body as my greatest asset–especially when it also is my main means of making money. I’ve always valued my own personal strength and physical ability as much as (sometimes if not more than)  my mental ability. I like being physically independent and capable–which may or may not have something to do with working primarily with men but that’s a whoooooolllllleeeee different story for another time.  I had a really hard time being less mobile and less able. Luckily, my sisters were around to keep me giggling despite my grumpy “woe is me” attitude. It was a great summer, but it was also long and pretty challenging for me in a lot of regards. Fall feels like a  fresh start and a (very literal) step forward. I’ve been able to settle down a bit, take a breath, make some plans, and of course, get friendly with some wool. I don’t feel fully rested yet, but like I’m plugged in and my batteries are currently in recharge mode. And knitting is certainly helping facilitate that.

If you follow me on Instagram, I’ve posted about my Improv sweater from the Fringe and Friends Knit Along that Karen of Fringe Association is running.   My sister, Emily, brought me yarn from Chile when she returned, the first time she went. She’s since gone back and forth twice, and is currently living there. On her second return she brought me some more yarn. I struggled to decide what to make and left the yarn alone for years, which is not something I typically do. I’m not a big stasher. I knew I wanted to make sweaters, but would have to stripe it with something else (or use some other concoction) to have enough yardage. Then I got the crazy idea of striping them together. It looked pretty rustic, but it worked and I was gung-ho to give it a whirl.


If you’re not aware of this particular knit along  (or knit alongs in general) the basic idea behind it is that a whole bunch of knitters knit the same thing and support each other virtually (or in person if you’re lucky). The pattern for this one is no pattern at all! Karen posted a tutorial and kind words of encouragement that helps knitters understand they already have the tools necessary to make themselves a sweater, and that they don’t need a pattern. She gave some super helpful construction and math guidelines, and then set a whole army of knitters to their own devices. I actually used her tutorial once before while Aaron and I were in Guatemala, but it was so damn hot I abandoned the whole thing. I decided on a super basic striped sweater that would have a small amount of positive ease and would ideally use all the yarn I had. Here’s the breakdown:

Yarn–Marled Aran-ish weight 183 grams

Cream Aran-ish (handspun?) 252 grams


Gauge–3.25 stitches per inch

Target size–37 inch bust (actual size 35 still confused about that, gauge is spot on)

Target armhole depth–9 inches (actual is 8)

Target back of neck width–9 inches (actual is 6 after neck treatment)

Target neck depth–3.25 inches (actual is 3.25)

Body length–18 (no target)

Cuffs and hem–Twisted 1×1 ribbing

Body– Stockinette

All my target measurements were based off my Sunny Side Up top because it’s my best fitting garment. I was pretty content using them as basic measurements and seeing where the wind took me. My ultimate goal was to have a wearable sweater that used all the yarn I could, and would ideally be sized well enough to actually wear (i.e. not a crop top). I knew I would be cutting it close yarn wise, so I came to terms with short sleeves if necessary. I increased my neck raglans every second row to end up with a shallow scoop neck, which worked out well. If I did this again, I think I would look at doing short rows in order to shape the neckline.  I like a wide, shallow scoop (almost boat neck) neckline and when I’ve used short rows in patterns, I’ve really liked the look of it. It seems to have a little more subtlety to it than the raglan increase/cast on combo does.


I couldn’t decide what to do at the neckline and tried a garter neck on for size. I used wool that I dyed with achiote but really didn’t love the look of it. I ended up ripping it out and just doing a super simple rolled neck. I picked up 2/3 of the stitches around the neck and knit one round, then cast off.


I did end up having to make short sleeves but I actually really love them. I don’t have anything with this silhouette in my wardrobe, and I’ve already worn it twice, which I think speaks to its realized usefulness.




I really love the sweater, but here’s the thing. True to form, once I noticed the jog in the stripes I trudged ahead with blinders on telling myself I could duplicate stitch it out. Well I’ve duplicate stitched the hell outta this thing and that jog ain’t going anywhere. So if anyone has ANY tips for how to eliminate a jog in stripes after the fact, please give this impatient gal some advice. It’s bothering me for sure, but not yet to the point of ripping back. That’s not to say I won’t, but the day of ripping is not in the imminent future. My heart just can’t take it at the moment.


I took it out for a test drive, jogs and all,  to the Southern Adirondack Fiber Festival  and it was the perfect sweater for the in-between weather day. It was coincidentally also the perfect sweater to buy yarn and eat donuts in. More on that next time.