December 03, 2005

Lace Leaf Pullover: Pattern Notes

Lest you think the days of imitating haute couture knitwear are past, I present you with my version of Teva Durham's Lace Leaf Pullover, complete with styling:

LaceLeafDurham3769.JPG I am a pouty wood nymph in a fabulous sweater. Envy me my indulgently sour expression.

Lace Leaf Pullover
Loop-D-Loop or Interweave Knits, Summer 05, designed by Teva Durham
Knit with 10 skeins - and not a pinch left! - (53 yards/50 meters/skein) of Twilley's Freedom Wool (100% Wool - not merino!) in Moorland (408) on Inox 29" circulars and Addi Turbo 24" circulars in size US13! (9.0mm), in a guage of 10 sts and 14 rows per inch in Stst.

Size: smallest.

The Pattern:
This is a wonderful and well-written pattern!!! It justifies several exclamation points!!! I don't usually knit on big needles - this is the first time I've ever gone past a size US11 - but when I saw this yarn on my trip to Cleveland, I just had to have some, and I knew that this was the one chunky sweater I had seen that I really wanted to make. I wasn't disappointed.

The construction of the Lace Leaf Pullover is pretty unique. It's knit from the bottom up to the center, and then from the top down to the center, so that the leaves can point in opposing directions - very clever. You will notice that my version does not have leaves on the body, though Teva's does. (That's because Teva knows that to really show off the design you should knit it in a solid color. Julia knows this, too, but she never buys chunky yarn, so she made some modifications to make it work.) I actually knit this as designed the first time, despite some reservations, but during one of my myriad "fitting" sessions Moxie noted that keeping the leaves in that position made it "look like I fucked up". He was right. We can't have that!

RooseveltFar3777.JPG This is Roosevelt Island where we took the shot above. You can read about it below.

In addition to "having that shit at the bottom where it looked like I fucked up," the sweater body was a little short when I kitchenered it the first time, so I set out to knit the sleeves with the goal of having a little yarn left over so that I could not only rip out the lace leaves at the bottom, but also lengthen as much as possible when I got back to that section. All this was necessitated by the fact that I had less yardage than called for in the pattern, since all the Cleveland yarn store had was 10 skeins. In case anyone else is this cavalier or cheap, the sweater can be done in the smallest size with a total of 530 yards or 500 meters of yarn in the correct guage, if you shorten the sleeves by an inch, and the body by a smidge. Just be sure to make guage and knit the sleeves first, so that you can use every bit of the yarn. This is not a feat for the faint of heart.

Originally I planned to rip back the section of the body that flashes really obviously. That was before I realized that the lightening bolts of color would be swathed across my not so voluptuous bossom. As soon as I realized what this particular anamoly did for my figure, it was transformed into a "feature". Victoria's Secret has nothing on variegated yarn.

Back to my praise of the pattern, however. This is a very fun knit. You get to use a lot of techniques, including grafting (kitchener stitch), lace knitting, circular knitting, knitting through the back loop, top-down and bottom up construction, etc. I particularly like the ribbing at the bottom, neck and cuffs. At first it is a little irksome to purl through the back loop, but the effect is a lacy ribbing which nicely mirrors the rest of the design. It's a very thoughtful detail. The work moves quickly, and the result is stunning. You're left with a lovely, unique piece that is extremely wearable. That's a lot to ask from a single knit.

I think I covered these in the last section - I tend to digress.

Impressions of Twilley's Freedom Wool:
Freedom wool is gooooood stuff. It's very old school in feel - like Lamb's Pride - and it knits in a very even, satisfying manner. The colors are just lovely, and the wool itself is very soft, despite not being merino. I will have to investigate its provenance. It's a fine fiber. I recommend it to anyone who wants to knit chunky. I may even get more! Also, it's dirt cheap. I bought mine for $4.50 a skein. It's hard to get anything for that price, let alone a yarn this nice. I'd be willing to pay twice that price for it.

Possible substitute yarns:
I don't really do chunky yarns, so I'm not much help here. Something Rowan might be nice. Perhaps Lamb's Pride Bulky? (though that might be finer.)

Tips for Making the Lace Leaf Pullover:
If you have the requisite skillz, you'll be okay. If not, it could be a fun way to learn them!

About Our Photoshoot:
The photo above was not obtained by any small outpouring of energy, but it was taken in a beautiful setting which somewhat eased the pain. Moxie got up this morning, having clearly not checked the weather (26 degrees - has DC become part of the Tundra?), with an itching to go to Roosevelt Island. I immediately thought "Great! Lace Leaf Pullover shoot! I'm on it!" So we bundled up, got Caia into the car, and set out for the Island.

Roosevelt Island, for those who are too lazy to click the link, is a monument to Teddy Roosevelt, great conservationist and President of the United States (I know, I bet you thought that was an oxymoron). It's a beautiful wooded island on the Virginia side of the Potomac, that can be reached by a footbridge. RI is a wonderful oasis for runners, dog lovers and others in the know. It's scenic, quiet, and has many serpentine paths that all lead to a spectactular monument in the center. It's our favorite monument in DC to date - and this city has some good ones. If you want to see more pictures of it, click here for a little tour. If you're a history buff, there are even more interesting sites on Roosevelt Island here and here.

Once there, Moxie assisted me in getting all braided up and set for the shot. This consisted of many fine hair adjustments, and several minute adjustments of position and expression on my part. Moxie did bobby-pin detail and was patient enough to take 30 shots in order to produce the one that you see. Despite the fact that we were both friggin' freezin' to death. Afterwards we shot our hands into our gloves and ran down the closest shortcut path to the monument to snap a few pics before returning home to hot chocolate. All in all, a fun, if brief, outing.

Posted by Julia at December 3, 2005 12:13 PM
In just plain silly | lace leaf pullover | main | pattern notes | places we love


Aha, I suspected that the temperature was not terribly kind to wood nymphs, judging by the way that your hands are clenched inside the sleeves! but it's obviously easy to retain the pout in low temps. Fabulous sweater!

Posted by: Jeanne at December 11, 2005 06:50 PM

Hi Julia,

Still love my honeymoon cami. I may even wear it to an impending Christmas party. The sweater looks great, and congratulations on managing a lovely photo that also manages to be ironic in a much needed way. The presentation in the book itself is a wee bit too much. I actually just got the book as a very late birthday present, and your sweater inspires me to give it a go!

Posted by: Carla at December 9, 2005 07:13 PM

I think you need wings and a flower you pouty little wood nymph. Now I know Moxie's nickname for you ;D
Your sweater is lovely and the backdrop too --Roosevelt Island looks lovely!!

Posted by: Tiffany at December 6, 2005 02:10 PM

It's so cute that Moxie helps with the photo shoot! I love the sweater mods, the variegation, the whole thing. If I could only wear bulky yarn as elegantly as you do! Grr!

Posted by: MJ at December 5, 2005 01:16 PM

You look ALMOST as grumpy as Teva's model. And now I'm thinking, maybe there is something about that hairdo that makes you want to knit a pattern?

Beautiful colorway. I'd never knit a sweater in Lamb's Pride bulky, personally, not just because of my wool allergy, but even for somebody else, because it's so loosely spun that it pills while you're knitting it. Great felting yarn, great colors, I'm just saying.

I didn't know about Roosevelt Island! I heart TR!

xoxo Kay

Posted by: Kay at December 5, 2005 01:16 PM

Thanks for the tip on flashing and small bustlines!

Posted by: jpt at December 5, 2005 11:31 AM

What a fabulous result! I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical when you showed your pooling-across-the-bust picture a while back. But Lace Leaf looks fantastic with that yummy variegated wool! Yippee! And you definitely get bonus points for the photo styling. That must've been fun. :)

Posted by: Karma at December 5, 2005 11:12 AM

Oh, Julia, that's just terrific -- LOVE your hair (nice touch!). I always enjoy your posts about the making and/or modifying of a garment -- so informative. It looks great on you!

Posted by: Vicki at December 5, 2005 09:43 AM

LOVE your Loop-D-Loop pose...very authentic! ;) The sweater turned out amazing! I am still pining away over that yarn- I really need to get me some!

Posted by: Nonnahs at December 5, 2005 09:39 AM

I think this might be the first time I've posted, but I come to your blog often. I wanted to post this time because I am getting the yarn for Christmas to make this sweater and I'm really excited about it. I'm even more excited now that you've knit it and have such good things to say about it. I am using Rowan Cork in "Bug" doubled up as I am cheap too and I was able to get 20 skeins of this discontinued yarn for $40.00. I did a gauge and if I knit the largest size, I will end up between the smallest and medium size and still have about some left for maybe a matching hat, skarf or something. It should work...we shall see though. LOL. Anywho, loved your version and can't wait to get started. Although I won't be wearing it till next winter as I'm five months preggers (mixed emotions - love being pregnant, but can't even try on anything I'm knitting on.)

Posted by: Cathy at December 5, 2005 07:26 AM

wow! beautiful sweater and beautiful picture! i am trying very, very hard not to cast on for this one immediately but there are so many gorgeous versions popping up these days. love your variegated version.

Posted by: kris at December 5, 2005 06:26 AM

I am reminded why I love this blog! Excellent knitwear and a mini-vacation to chilly D.C.!!
Wait though, I thought you were in CA? Or are you back in D.C.? Please update us in your next post!!

Posted by: Kyla at December 4, 2005 03:32 PM

I love it! It came out so great (and so did the picture :-). That yarn is a definitely a must try for everyone. Take care.

Posted by: Disentangled at December 4, 2005 02:20 PM

Looks great! I especially like the sleeves, and your indulgently sour expression. ;-) The colors are wonderful. Thanks for sharing!

Posted by: Cara at December 3, 2005 07:37 PM

Griffith Park, here I come!!! (And the beach too.)

Posted by: Caia at December 3, 2005 05:10 PM

Roosevelt island was great!!!

Posted by: Caia at December 3, 2005 05:06 PM

Julia! Great sweater! Well worth the foray into big huge needles. It looks great on you- so cozy, and I love the colors.

Now come back to LA already!!!

Posted by: Mary-Heather at December 3, 2005 04:54 PM

Lovely! I'm definitely going to have to give the hair a try. The sweater...well, that's definitely on my list.

Posted by: sharlyn at December 3, 2005 04:44 PM

What we don't do to show off our knitting. You, the sweater (and hair) look marvelous. It would be worth doing a sweater on large needles if it looked that good.

Posted by: margene at December 3, 2005 04:20 PM

It looks fabulous! And so do you in your Loop-d-Loop pose. ;0) I've been thinking about this pattern for a long time and I think you just sold me. Especially now that I've got all the inside tips on yardage, etc. Thanks for being so thorough with the pattern details (as always!).

Congrats! What a beautiful early holiday gift to yourself.

Posted by: alison at December 3, 2005 03:23 PM

along with the hair too!

Posted by: froggy at December 3, 2005 03:11 PM

gorgeous sweater, brilliant photo...that is one great photographer you've got there. i didn't realize all of the techniques. that is so cool! i'll have to try that one.

Posted by: froggy at December 3, 2005 03:08 PM

is it 10sts over 4"? Cuz 10sts/in does not sound chunky to me!!
Looks great!

Posted by: Ingrid at December 3, 2005 02:36 PM

It's fab ! So few chunky sweaters look really good,but this does. You wear it well.

Posted by: Emma at December 3, 2005 01:57 PM

hi julia, you look fabulous in teva's sweater. love the photos, too.

Posted by: blossom at December 3, 2005 01:19 PM

Gorgeous! Braving the cold was worth it for such a great photo! You have completely sold me on this sweater now, I was sold before but it sounds so fun to knit! I will have to look into the twilley's yarn too.

Posted by: Jo at December 3, 2005 01:13 PM

I didn't realize all of the interesting techniques used in this pattern. It is worth knitting for those reasons alone. Not to mention the fact that yours turned out beautifully.


Posted by: Amy at December 3, 2005 12:38 PM

Ok, you are making me feel like I may need to knit this piece, it came out beautifully and the variegated yarn is really working for me. I'm usually not a variegated yarn girl, but it's gorgous the way you've worked it up. If I curse you a little it's only because I don't need yet-another project to work on, but, well, I think this is now on my list.
Oh and Moxie is an excellent photographer.

Posted by: marnie at December 3, 2005 12:35 PM

I love your evocative expression. It says, "Take the damn picture, already. It's freakin' cold out here." And then, it also makes fun. Good stuff.

Beautiful sweater. I love the length of the sleeves and yet was surprised to learn everything was shortened a smidge.


Posted by: Rachel at December 3, 2005 12:33 PM