The weather never gets truly cold in Cape Town, but with poor insulation and no central heating in the houses, winter in South Africa can be very cold when you’re inside. It’s often warmer outside (in the sunshine) than in my house, which never really gets warm in winter, no matter how many portable heaters I turn on.
If you peeked through my window right now, you’d see me sitting at my desk, bundled up in multiple sweaters, two pairs of socks, a shawl, a blanket, a scarf and wristwarmers. I’m glad that I get to use all the accessories I’ve crocheted, but it does get a bit frustrating when my layers make me as bulky as the Michelin Man…
What I really needed was a warm sweater without bulk, so I ordered some beautiful fluffy dark teal alpaca yarn (KnitPicks Reverie) for my next knitting project – the shawl-collar pullover I made looks warm, but it’s not enough for the cold days here. I used the basic size template I designed for that sweater, and made a few refinements, to produce this:
Changes from my last sweater:
I made a more subtle rib at the collar and cuffs, and made the collar into a simple v-neck with a neat overlap at the point of the V.
I added interior waist shaping (instead of the side shaping I used before) that I learnt from Amy Herzog (Knitscene magazine, Fall 2011).
And I bought two Craftsy online classes (which I’ll review properly at a later date once I’ve had a chance to finish them) which taught me how to design and knit fitted set-in sleeves – a revelation!
I intentionally made the neckline very wide and open, as I wasn’t sure how the alpaca would feel next to my newly-sensitive eczema-prone skin, and I wanted to be able to avoid direct skin contact if necessary. I also added extra ease to this sweater from my last one, so I could wear a long-sleeved t-shirt underneath if my wrists were irritated without making the sweater look too tight.
What I didn’t take into account – I am still a novice knitter! – was that the finer yarn, knit more loosely, would already add ease, even if the finished measurements are the same. Thanks to this, the finished sweater fits more loosely than I’d imagined it would, and the neck opening is even wider than I’d planned. But, although the waist shaping I added isn’t at all obvious, imagine if the waist had an extra 3″ of fabric: waist shaping does make a difference, even in a garment that isn’t closely fitted. Note: the bunching in the photo above is just drape due to how I was standing (oops!), not voluminous folds of extra fabric.
The verdict: I really love this sweater – it’s probably the warmest garment I own, even though it’s very thin and not at all bulky. The yarn is ultra soft and luxurious, and it doesn’t irritate my skin at all, and the colour is truly gorgeous. I do wish I’d made it slightly narrower, and less open at the neck, but those are things I can change next time – I’ve already ordered more Reverie yarn so I can make another one to keep me warm next winter 🙂
I can’t even begin to estimate how long it took me to knit this sweater, but it was worth every moment – it helped me get through some very stressful times, and I have a snuggly warm sweater to show for it! Unfortunately, I have no time to design my next knit piece at the moment, but I’ll definitely be adding to my handknit wardrobe once I’ve finished writing my book. Making garments and accessories that fit well enough to actually wear without being embarrassed is so rewarding – don’t you think?
Wow, things are very quiet around here, aren’t they? It’s strange that I’m busily working on exciting things and yet have nothing I can talk about… But, while you’ll have to wait for my next crochet book to see my secret projects, I do have some news to share about the patterns in my first crochet book!
The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Amigurumi was first published in 2010, in two versions: the print paperback and the Kindle format ebook. In case you aren’t familiar with the book, here’s the little stop motion-animation video trailer I made, to give you an idea of what it’s about:
Although this book is primarily a reference guide to amigurumi techniques, not a pattern book, all the amigurumi you see in the video are made from the patterns in the book. (These are exclusive patterns that I created for the book – you won’t find them anywhere else.)
The Kindle Problem
I proofed the paperback before it went to print, but I never got to see the Kindle version (in fact, I’ve still never seen it!) and I was horrified when I discovered from my readers that the Kindle version doesn’t include any of the photos from the 8-page colour insert (not even converted to black and white) – those pages are completely omitted!
Those photos are an essential part of the book, as they include all the photos and detail shots of the patterns in the book, so people can’t even see what they are trying to make without them. I think the missing colour pages must be a Kindle format limitation, but I had no idea this was going to happen, and I’m really sorry if you’ve bought the Kindle version and been frustrated by the lack of these photos.
As soon as I discovered this problem, I contacted my publisher to try to fix it, and we’ve worked together to come up with a solution. It’s taken some time (publishers’ schedules are long-term, so nothing happens quickly), but I can now offer you a free PDF of the missing pages, to accompany the Kindle version of my book.
If you’ve bought the Kindle version, please download the file and use it as reference when you make the patterns from my book 🙂 (The file is probably of limited use to anyone else, as it just shows details of the patterns included in the book, and an Ideas Gallery showing some of my other amigurumi designs, but you’re welcome to download the PDF too, if you want!)
If you’d like more information about the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Amigurumi (what it’s about, where to buy it, and how to get your free signed bookmark), please see my CIG to Amigurumi information page 🙂
I have someone who’d like to say hello: it’s my newest commissioned design, the Sloth!
He’s fully poseable with his jointed limbs and feet that can be clipped together, and I had a very fun photoshoot setting him up in different positions in the tree in my garden 😀
Sloths are very popular in internet culture at the moment, and my sloth wanted to get in on the action by replicating some famous slothmemes…
You can see that his poseability makes him extra-fun – he can hang by all 4 legs, dangle by his front or back legs, hug and hold onto things, and more! (A special thanks goes to Maui for tolerating being draped with a sloth for long enough for me to take the top right photo…)
Sloth Fun Facts
Sloths live in the rainforests of Central and South America.
They live, move and eat very slowly, and spend almost all their time hanging from branches by their specially-adapted hands and feet.
Sloths have special slow digestive processes that let them get maximum nutrition from the tough leaves they eat.
Sloths’ arboreal adaptations (long limbs and claws and weak hind legs) mean they are unable to walk on the ground and have to drag themselves along by their front feet, but they can swim!
Algae grows on their fur, so sloths often appear green-tinged – this makes excellent camouflage in the trees.
Sloths are Strange!
As part of my research, I always take a look at the soft toys that already exist for the animal, and this time I found that all the manufactured sloth toys look very unexpected: even respected toy companies like Hansa and Folkmanis, who usually do a good job with realistic animals, seem to think a sloth is a bear with elongated limbs and no ears:
Two stretched earless bears from Hansa and what appears to be an earless panda from Folkmanis – these are all sold as sloths, but I don’t see it…
Sloths are bizarre-looking and unlike any other animal on earth! These qualities also make them extremely difficult to replicate, as you can see from the toys pictured above. Coming up with my design hasn’t been easy – real sloths look different in every photo I see – but I’m very happy with my result and I think I’ve captured that indefinable slothiness…
About my Sloth design:
My sloth has a pale face with distinctive slanted eye stripes and that never-ending enigmatic sloth smile.
His long legs have crocheted-in knee shaping so they don’t just look like tubes.
His shoulders and hips are jointed (I’ve also provided instructions for a non-jointed version) and he can hang around like a real sloth thanks to almost invisible hook-and-eye fasteners on his feet (optional, and I’ve also suggested alternative fasteners).
Note: You could brush your sloth to give him a shaggier look that would be even more realistic, but I opted to leave mine with clean lines so you can see him more clearly.
Want a Two-Toed Sloth? I based my design on the more popular Three-Toed Sloth (those eye stripes were irresistible). If you’d like to make a Two-Toed Sloth (like the photobomb sloth pictured above), do let me know – I’ve done my research and made sketches for both sloth types, so if I get enough requests I can easily design a Two-Toed Sloth Expansion Pack for you 🙂
So now the question is: can you resist making a sloth right now?! You can pick up the Sloth amigurumi crochet pattern from my shop and get started this minute! Or, if you’re not quite ready to buy, why not favourite/queue it on Ravelry so you don’t forget about it?