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Puttin' on the Fitz

John Putting on His Fitz

Is this boy cute, or what? He cooks, too. And keeps my computer happy. A girl can't get much better than that.*

And he's wearing Fitzgerald. Is there any sight more fabulous than one's handsome husband dressed in a handmade sweater? A handmade striped sweater with more than two colors? (Okay, okay... he looks great in a tuxedo as well, but I have a much better chance of seeing him in a sweater on a semi-regular basis than I do of seeing him in a tux.) It was in this picture that I realize that a very magical knitting event had occurred with the sleeves and the front -- across the middle, the stripes actually match! Not sure how that happened, good karma perhaps, but I'm very pleased. (And no, this picture wasn't taken around Christmas, we just haven't taken down our tree yet... it's such a lovely tree and I'm not quite ready to part with it yet).

Fitzgerald from Another Angle

I hope this picture conveys one very important thing about this sweater -- it's a big sweater. This sweater is a medium and it is 50" around (supposedly for a guy with 40" shoulders). John's big in the shoulders, but not so big at the waist. I think the picture in the book is a little deceiving... I suspect that the sweater is clipped on the model see this post for a picture to make it seem a little more form fitting because even if the model is wearing a small, there's no way he's anywhere near 49" around. If John could change anything about he sweater, it would be to make it a little narrower around the middle. And to have each side of the neck opening match. (If you want to see a full on back perspective, click here for Fitzgerald from the Back).

From a pattern perspective, I didn't run into any problems at all from a technical perspective. But this is a pretty straight-foward drop-sleeve sweater. And I didn't need more than the specified amount of yarn. The thing that makes it special is the yarn (Noro Shinano, colorway #9) and the nice wide ribbed collar and neck opening. And the fact that a man will wear it.

I don't have much of a "what did I learn" for Fitzgerald, but here's what I did get out of this project:

  • If you're going to knit a sweater for a guy, let him pick out the pattern and the yarn. Listen to him about what he wants. If he wants the stripes on the sleeves to match, make sure they do. Don't expect him to go beyond the color palette he's comfortable with. If it isn't a positive experience for him, he won't wear it. And worse, he probably won't want you to knit him another sweater ever again.
  • Don't fuss over him too much and tell him how great it looks. Recognize that as the sweater maker your opinion doesn't count. The real test is the guys at work. The last thing he wants to hear from them is "Hey, did your wife make you that?" accompanied by that "you poor bastard" look. He just wants the sweater to pass for a normal (store bought) sweater.
  • I have a lovely and patient husband.
  • Shinano, like a lot of Noro yarns, does better after a bit of soaking. In this case, just cold blocking. It softened the pieces up a great deal. I like this yarn a lot more now that I am finished with the project than I did when I started with it.
  • The edges of ribbed collars need to be blocked, otherwise they want to curve a little bit.

Like Butterfly, this is another great sweater if you're early on in your knitting career. Lots of stockinette, the collar is simple to pick up and knit and the assembly process is straightforward. This sweater could be made in almost any worsted weight yarn.

I have to leave you with one last picture of John and his sweater. Click here for a little different perspective on John. They just all like to be tough guys.

Now if only I could get him into multi-colored striped socks....

* it should also be noted that John is incredibly smart, funny, caring and good with people and animals, just so you don't all think I like him only for his superficial attributes. He's the real deal all around.

Fitz-y Details


Thank you to everyone for your kind words yesterday. I'm trying to respond to everyone who left a comment personally, but it's taking me a little while. Thank you to everyone for your thoughts.

I'm trying to bring a couple of my bigger projects to completion. The first being Fitzgerald.

The Front of Fitzgerald Finished

Yeah, I know, just another big piece of fabric. But when it comes to man sweaters, that seems to be how they run. I've also finished some of the assembly and knitted on the collar.

The Collar and Neckline Detail

Unfortunately, the little garter stitch edging doesn't show up very well, but it does make for a nice, masculine neckline. I'm going to have to block the edges to be a bit straighter, just to make the finished product look a little more sophisticated.

Tomorrow... the finished piece.

Bridging the Gap

She's Going the Distance

Ah, the man sweater. Man sweaters are such a bittersweet experience. On one hand, I look forward, with great longing, to the day when I will finish a sweater for John that he will wear more than once a year. On the other hand, even plentiful stripey-ness that does not involve the weaving in of many little ends has a hard time making up for seemingly endless miles of stockinette. But I'm closing in on a sweater, my friends. I'm about 14 inches up the front of Fitzgerald -- only a little more than 2 inches before I get to start the armhole shaping and move onto the exciting V-neck part.

I think it was a stroke of genius on my part to finish the sleeves before working on the front piece. Now, even though it is a huge piece of fabric, I don't have the daunting thought of two identical large pieces of fabric to construct. Just the front and a collar, which, fortunately, is not of Butterfly-esque proportions.

Good thing for me there are whole bunch of "What Not to Wear"s (both TLC and BBC... I find myself strangely fascinated by this show -- it's something about the crossing of a train wreck with a Cinderella story that keeps me coming back, especially with the guys they find) recorded on my genuine imitation Comcast Tivo -- 'cause I'm really beginning to look foward to seeing my sweetie in his finished sweater. Which, hopefully, will not require any magic spells to bring it to a most fabulous and functional state.

A Second Set of Sleeves


Shhhh! Be very quiet... I'm trying to quietly sneak away from Sleeve Island. I've packed my knitting bag and have slipped it into the little boat that I tied up under the dock. As soon as it gets dark I'm planning to make my escape.

I'm making my get away with not one, but two, whole pairs of sleeves tucked into my knitting bag. Margot and Fitzgerald are ready to meet me on the mainland.

Almost Perfect Fitzgerald Sleeve

I just gotta say, I am truly impresed with how the striping matched up. I spent about 15 minutes pain-stakingly picking out just the right skeins to do the sleeves with so they would match up just right and be oerfect for my stripe-perfection demanding husband.

Everytime he sat down next to me as I was working on the second sleeve I would line the two pieces up and say "See? See how incredibly matched up and beautiful those are? This, my friend, is true love!"

John responded by telling me, with a sneaky little grin, "Yeah, they look great -- people might even think that I bought it at the store."

Yes, he did duck and move quickly after he said that.

That said, I do have some concern about the length of these sleeves, but since the sweater has a dropped shoulder, I'm probably getting concerned over nothing (I'm not concerned about not having enough yarn, so I have to worry about something).

What next? Not sure. It has just occurred to me that I have a few Christmas presents that need to be attended to, given that there's really only 18 knitting days until the big holiday arrives...

Paddling Out to Sleeve Island


I'm afraid I don't have much to show for myself this evening. Work kept me away from KIP-ing and a husband who wanted to actually turn out the lights while we watched some of our favorite TV shows kept me from seaming up the capelet. To be fair, watching TV does involve his home theatre, a projector and a very nice screen, and he has installed some smaller lights so that I can knit and watch while he enjoys his audio-visual experience to the fullest. But it does limit what I can get done.

Fortunately, the sleeves of Fitzgerald (actually, any part of Fitzgerald) don't require much light or much thought and are a good project for a darkened room.

Fitzgerald Sleeve #1

Gotta love sleeves for a manly sweater. You can knit and knit and knit and knit and still feel like you will be knitting sleeves forever. Fortunately, I've only got three or four inches to go on this one. A good thing, since there are only very few days of the year that it gets cold enough for John to actually want to wear a sweater, so I need to get cracking if I want to see him in it once or twice before spring.

Besides... John is telling me that he wants a pair of socks out of some very interesting yarn he was reading about. Who needs a bulletproof vest when you can have bulletproof foot protection!

It Doesn't Seem Like Much....


This picture is really going to seem like a cheat. It looks almost the same as the last picture of Fitzgerald. In fact, it is almost the same, except for the inch at the top and the bind off. But it was such a large expanse of knitting, I just have to document meeting the back completion milestone.

Finished Back of Fitzgerald

Will I set sail for Sleeve Island next? Maybe. It depends on how many kir royale are waiting for me when I get there with Butterfly.

I seem to be in one of those moods where I just can't keep myself from starting new projects. As a gesture of appreciation to all those who understand my strange need to show that I got that extra inch of Fitzgerald finished, I thought I would show off the other projects that I've been working on.

Clapotis in Tahoe and a Multidirectional Scarf in Diadomina

I've been in a scarfy mood lately. I'm about 6 rows away from letting those stitches drop in my Clapotis. Knitting with the Lion and Lamb really does make me a happy knitting camper. So incredibly soft. And no unpleasant color pooling yet. It's a little disturbing how much I am looking forward to letting those stitches drop out. The acts of both creation and destruction in one garment.

I think the Diadomina is going to give some of my Noro yarn a run for its money. It is so incredibly soft and I love the subtle sparkly shimmer in the yarn. It wasn't until I put it next to Clapotis that I realized that I have an unnatural attraction to purple, blue and green lately.

Today is the last day to send me answers to my "Where in the World..." contest. Don't miss out on your chance to snag some fun sock yarn!

Fitzgerald Almost Backed Up

An Inch and A Half From Completion

I've said it before and I'll say it again -- Men are big and man sweaters are bigger. The back of Fitzgerald may not look that large, but what you see there represents about 4 skeins of Shinano. I stopped short of completion tonight so that I could give my arms a rest -- the Shinano is not only a little rough, but it also doesn't have much give, and I find my wrists getting a little sore after I knit with it for a while.

Not spending all evening on Fitzgerald also gave me a chance to keep working on the first of my Butterfly fronts and on Clapotis. Knitting Clapotis is surprisingly addictive. And I'm only two repeat intervals away from the fun part that involves dropping all those stitches.

I crossed the border from yesterday's location and stepped into a country of panoramic vistas. Panoramic vistas and cows just about everywhere I looked. You just don't expect to be in a modern city and find cows grazing near a gas station. This picture was stolen from a tourist website for the area (when the contest is over it will be properly cited).

Monday Afternoon's Destination

The city is known for a variety of things, but also happens to be the home of the International Olympic Committee. It's about 180 miles from my previous stop. If you can't figure out the name of the city, at least tell me what significant geographic feature(s) are in view in the photograph and what country I was travelling in.

I managed to finish my second skein of Shinano this evening. All I can say at this point is that men are large. I feel like I've been knitting on this piece for quite some time without making much progress.

Up the Back of Fitzgerald

I think my chair is doing a lovely job of modeling -- and the colors are actually pretty true to real life. Not colors I'd choose for myself, but I think they do have an harmonious earthy quality.

Now I have to decide whether to switch back to Butterfly or keep going another skein on Fitzgerald. Decisions... decisions...

After a nice weekend enjoying my own home and some beautiful fall Chicago weather, I am all ready to start my little trip contest. I'll post a new photo or set of photos each day this week and try to provide a few useful clues. Everyone will have until October 15th (a week from this coming Friday) to send me an email with all your guesses. The person with the most correct answers will win. In the event of a tie, I will have a random drawing. You don't have to be in the US to play along. What can you win?

Contest Prizes

Since it's fall, and my thoughts are turning to Christmas gifts and thinking about how to keep warm, I thought I would reach into my sock yarn stash. The yarn on the left is Meilenweit Cotton Fantasy, a wool/cotton blend that makes for lovely socks (check my gallery for an example). The yarn on the right is a no longer available Opal colorway. Opal is a wool blend yarn that makes fabulously durable socks and comes with great yardage. These skeins look a little bright. They are a little more subtle in person.

The First Stop

Where Was I on Sunday? Click on the Picture for Another Clue

Hint: According to my frequent flier report, I flew 4342 miles from Chicago to get to this place.

Some Actual Knitting

When I got back from my trip this weekend, guess what was waiting on my doorstep?

Noro Shinano #9

John's manly colored Shinano has finally arrived. I need to start another project like I need a hole in the head, but since I don't really have a mindless stockinette project, I decided that it wouldn't hurt to swatch and get started with Fitzgerald.

A Swatch and A Ribby Section
Click for Swatch Closeup

So far, so good. The Shinano is a little rough to knit with, but it feels better when knit up and softens up nicely when soaked. The colors are still man-approved (shhh! no one tell him about that little bit of greyish purple that snuck in there) and I think they will be wonderful for fall. I like the rustic quality of the yarn a great deal. It adds a lot of texture, and creates visual interest even beyond the stripes.

Almost Audrey


Tonight we celebrated one whole year of Knitting in Public in Chicago with cake and other goodies at Letizia's. Three cheers for Bonne Marie who played hostess to our feast and made sure that there were door prizes to share. She even made sure that I took home some cheesecake for John. Cheesecake for dinner in our house? You bet!

I also got to finish off and bind off the second back/front piece for Audrey. I would have gotten started on the sleeve as well, except I forgot to bring the smaller needles that I needed to cast onto. Ah well, that just gave me more time to chat and catch up as our fun little group isn't so little any more.

And for anyone else who is thinking about knitting Fitzgerald, Pixie is holding a knitalong. I obviously won't be starting until my yarn arrives, but I'll definitely be joining her.


Gina suggested a "Man A-long" -- and I'd love to start one, but there is already one of these going on. Check out the goings on at knit-o-rama for more info.

Man Acceptable Stripes


A very short while ago, I showed you all this sweater:

Fitzgerald in Silk Garden

I was pleasantly shocked at the time because John actually expressed an interest in it and suggested that he might actually like the whole stripe concept. For anyone just tuning in, I should remind you that John has an issue with stripes. Actually he usually has an issue with more than one color in any garment, and multicolor stripes usually send him off in the other direction shaking his head.

I really want to knit my boy a sweater that he likes, but to maintain my sanity during a man-sized mostly stockinette sweater knitting experience I also need to have a certain amount of entertainment. (John also has no itnerest in Arans or Ganseys).

Initially, I thought he liked the color way in the picture.

Well, Treese, it would be perfect, except for the blue stripes

John, I really just can't get rid of the blue stripes. Besides, the blue stripes are what make the rest of the sweater interesting.

That's fine, but I don't like them.

I thought you told me you liked the stripes.'

I do, just not the blue ones.

Sulk. Pout. Surf.

This launched me off into a weekend of scouring the Internet for any Noro colorway that might meet his needs. A number of Kureyon colorways were considered:

kyn_051.jpg  kyn_055.jpg  kyn_116.jpg
Kureyon 51 (too much white), 55 (too brown, too white and too blue) and 116 (also too white)

And a few Silk Garden as well:

skg_047.jpg  skg_086.jpg
Silk Garden 47 (definitely too brown), 86 (blue stripes -- this is the model color)

All were rejected. And I was feeling pretty dejected until I started browsing through Debbie Bliss Noro #2 and came across a sweater in Noro Shinano #9

Just Perfect

I feel like I found this yarn just in the nick of time. I don't see it listed on Knitting Fever's site in the Noro section. Has Shinano been discontinued? Apparently it has the right balance of light and dark and lacks any colors that make statements on their own. It had the extra added benefit of being available on Wool NeedleWork. Even if it hadn't I would have tracked some down somewhere else -- I love him enough to seek out yarn for him from the farthest reaches of the planet or stalking Ebay for months. But getting a good deal makes the sweater just that much sweeter for John, my king of bargain shopping.

It's going to be a Noro kind of fall!