Proof of Life

There have been a few comments over the last little bit that have implied that some readers may think that perhaps the pictures of last years Rhinebeck sweater (that wasn’t quite a Rhinebeck sweater) are overdue enough that it is time to become suspicious.

These comments have implied that maybe I did not actually finish that sweater at all, or maybe the fact that it was singed, knit wrong, had surgery on it’s cables and was late was a little bit much for it – perhaps it is an ugly sweater, overwhelmed by its flaws.  Other comments have said that it would be normal for me to have hardened my heart to the sweater, what with all we went through, and said that maybe I hate it,  or maybe it fits funny,  because why else on earth wouldn’t there have been a photo shoot, because it’s been almost a year…  RIGHT?!

Apparently these commenters underestimate my powers of procrastination.  Gwendolyn is indeed finished, well, happy and being worn.

Sweater: Gwendolyn, by Fiona Ellis.  Yarn: Shelter: in Embers.
Modifications? You bet. I cardiganized it, and left off the hood.

Somehow I never got around to taking many pictures of her – at least not formal ones.  Instead, there are many pictures of Gwen in use, over the last year,  because this has become one of my favourite sweaters.

I travel with Gwen, and it’s been hung on countless chairs,

Used as a pillow or blanket on about 20 flights:

Been hung on lots of restroom doors.

She hangs on a hook by my front door most days, so Gwen appears often in photos when I do.



I almost always grab this sweater as I head out into the autumn air, whether I’m shopping in the village,

Or just running to the corner.

It’s a great sweater, despite the scorching, the cable problems, the mis-knit and all that… Maybe even because of it.  After all we were through together? How can I not love this sweater? (Don’t answer that. I like to pretend that I never consign knits to the abyss.)  I’m going to pack Gwen for Rhinebeck this year, so at least this sweater’s destiny will be fulfilled.

(PS: I am 28cm up the back of Miss BB, which is almost halfway. So far, so good, but I don’t want to jinx it.)

100 thoughts on “Proof of Life

  1. I’m often bad about photographing my finished knits, so it didn’t occur to me that you might not have finished the sweater. I just figured that you finished it and then started using it and felt like it was too late or something to take pictures. It is beautiful and such a good color for you.

  2. Now you’ve really asked for it! Posting “so far, so good” is like saying “hey look we haven’t hit any traffic”. It’s a great way to suddenly come to a screeching stop!!! And saying you don’t want to jinx it after you’ve already said it only makes the universe laugh.

  3. Thanks, with all the gorgeous photos of you in the lovely cables (just look how it makes a old pair of jeans look fab) I now feel compelled to knit my own Gwendolyn. Now to go find some yarn. Any suggestions? I tend to default to using Cascade (which is nice workhorse of a yarn) but would really like to consider something a little more luxe. Amy

  4. Lovely sweater! Now I want to knit one of my own… And I’ve already got other knits in line after the shawl-that’s-taking-forever.

  5. I guess what astonishes me is that you have so, so many photos of yourself and your clothing in oh so many places. Fortunately, both you and your clothes are quite photogenic. (I’m saying all this to avoid thinking about the fact that you knitted that gorgeous sweater in a couple of weeks. And toasted it. And did surgery on it. Seriously. You are a rock star.)

  6. To the Judy Garland Trolly Song tune:
    “Click click click went the needles
    Frrt frrt went the yarn.
    Sigh sigh sigh went the knitter,
    and we knew
    it would come
    just in time…”
    Not crafted, literally spontaneous filched song, common in my head, and rarely sung aloud except to my tot. She loves it.

  7. Lovely. Makes me want to finally learn to cable AND knit a sweater for myself instead of just churning out small ones for my kids.

  8. First of all…lovely sweater. SO glad you two are happy together.
    Second…public restroom photo? It’s edgy, you run the risk of some sort of Larry Craig-esque scandal, and the sweater is so obviously worth it.

  9. I can testify that I saw Steph wearing it IN PERSON not long after Rhinebeck, at the Powell’s in Portland, OR, and it did, indeed, look amazing. Whole roomful of knitters went Ohhhh…..

  10. It is indeed a beautiful and worthy sweater. So now that you’ve come through on the sweater, when do we get to see the completed baby dress?

  11. I’m glad to finally see old Gwen. I started her not long after you did, and I only have the two sleeves done at this point…but I know she will be my new go to sweater, if I can ever get back to her!!

  12. Beautiful fall color! And you look beautiful in it. 🙂 (I feel creepy saying that, but I so appreciate you standing up for true, natural beauty.)

  13. The sweater is beautiful but I cringed when I saw her HANGING off of hooks and chair backs! After all the hard work of making her wouldn’t you want to treat her more gently? The hook really got to me! LOL! You do beautiful work!

  14. What a lovely sweater, and the best part is that she’s so well-loved she’s a constant companion (especially as it was SNOWING here this morning, just north of you). I have faith in the newest sweater as well.

  15. I love this sweater. Your knitting is so impeccable! I’ve been putting off knitting this and now it will be next in line. Thanks for the inspiration.

  16. Such a gorgeous sweater. Really love the yarn! Funny, I didn’t know I needed one like it until just now… I agree, much nicer without the hood and with buttons.

  17. Hey, I really liked that sweater when I saw it on you that day at Nathan Philips Square. And now my knitty friend Jennifer tells me I’m quasi famous because I’m in one of those pics (crocheting a tea cosy)
    (but then, many many many knitters have appeared on this blog…)

  18. When I saw the picture, before reading the text, I gasped thinking that you were already done the sweater! I knew you could knit fast, but that would have been legendary.
    That’s a great sweater. So glad it’s been so loved.

  19. That is one gorgeous sweater.
    I’m covering my kids’ ears thought about hanging it on a hook–I’ve taught them not to stretch out their knits, and they wouldn’t know one that could take it from one that can’t.

  20. Lovely sweater. It’s a good thing you’re so short, you have a chance of finishing this year! I, on the other hand, am nearly six foot, and 21″ sweater bodies do not knit themselves, you know.

  21. I love your mods to Gwen. Are they posted anywhere? I would love to knit your version.
    ps I love the way your Miss BB is knitting up. That yarn looks yummy and that is one of my favorite colors. The subtleness of the semi-solid variegation is perfect too.

  22. pss BTW, I did see your post on Ravelry, and I understand your changes. So no other mods right (to neckline decreases, etc)? Really came out gorgeous!

  23. you know, it looked run of the mill when it’s by itself, but in your life, and on your frame? Lovely and perfect.
    Last Christmas,you blogged about using your Ipad for knitting. Some people chimed in mentioning using their nooks. Could those people somehow explain how they use a nook to store, markup and view patterns? The spouse bought a very nice nook for me. I am entirely untechnical, so I cannot for the life of me figure out how to use it for patterns.
    and now back to your regularly well deserved praise for elegant knitting!

  24. Gorgeous. I’d a thunk you’d a wanted to brag about it sooner – it’s so pretty……

  25. I have to tell you….I am extremely jealous of the infinite shades of orange and rust you are able to wear. I adore those colors, but they do not compliment my fair, rosy coloring. My mother on the other hand can wear them beautifully. So I doff my hat to you and your orange knitwear. (Also the shades of green you choose, again not in my color palette.)

  26. Cables, cables! I’m obsessed already, so you show me more! But I’m glad to know I’m not the only one wondering about that gansey. And I’d rather not think about what changes the world must go thru for me to knit a sweater in ten days…

  27. I loved this sweater when I first saw the pattern. Unfortunately, I don’t wear hoodies and was wondering how difficult it would be to convert to a cardigan…I wonder if Ms. Ellis has ever published directions on how to do it. I will do some investigation. If not, I think that I may have to see if I have enough experience to do that myself. Absoloutely beautiful, Stephanie! The color and design look great on you. No wonder it is your “go to” sweater…

  28. YIPEE!! Finally I get to see you wearing your Gwendolyn- just wish it was in person….ooh that’s right I’ll have to wait until another Blue Moon occurs for us to hook up Canada. Actually I will hunt you down later this month at VKL.
    You look amazing in it!
    And for those of you asking the pattern does come with instructions for a cardigan as well as a sweater.

  29. Love Gwendolyn – so happy to finally see pics of this sweater finished after everything that went wrong with it! I don’t generally have the patience for cables, so I don’t knit them for myself, but I do like to see them on other people.
    I’m also wondering about your more recent attempt at a second Flow?

  30. Gwendolyn is a fine sweater in a lovely color with marvelous cables. Not a sweater that I would try to knit in 30 days never mind 10!

  31. Yes, you can knit a sweater in 10 days. I have done it several times, because someone told me I couldn’t!! Love your blog, and the food looked good several days ago. Keep writing. Hope to meet you someday. Saralee

  32. Honestly, this is NOT just to make you hyperventilate… but have you started your Christmas knitting yet? I know you’ve had a lot of trouble in past years, and maaaybe giving yourself a little more leeway might help.
    (And okay, watching you hyperventilate is funny too.)

  33. I am a cable addict. I want to knit your sweater and own it, but it may take me a whole year to knit…
    But if you ever come to Halifax (hint hint!) And I see that sweater I will snatch it and runaway with it.

  34. It’s really really gorgeous and I feel the need to make one too. I wasn’t sure if you steeked it or knit the front in separate pieces so I went back and re-read the whole traumatic history of the poor sweater. I wonder if it is hilarious to you yet (or is it too soon), because it really is quite hilaarious. Poor harlot.

  35. So glad to finally see great photos of Gwendolyn. I started my Gwendolyn A YEAR AGO when you first started yours and now.. I just might finish it this weekend. I’m also glad to hear it’s become a favourite because I adore my Gwendoly pieces and am hoping it will be my favourite too. Cable-y goodness.

  36. You know, whether you post pics soon after a knit is finished, or months later; whether you knit a sweater in 10 days or not; the fact is all of your pictures and knits are so inspirational to those like me who are stuck knitting socks and shawls.
    Thanks you so much for all your inspiration.
    Gene

  37. That is a beautiful sweater, love the yarn color and seeing if knit as a cardigan. Good luck on this years sweater.

  38. Ohhh! I got to see Gwen up close in Pasadena, CA last year. She’s even prettier than I remember.

  39. Didn’t even realise there were no finished photos until now! Well worth the wait though, it’s stunning!

  40. thats a lovely sweater and you look great in it. At first I though “she’s done already??” but then came to my senses. Happy knitting!

  41. I really love your Gwendolyn, but I was wondering why you have your buttons on the right side instead of on the left side. I am totaly loving Miss BB. So much i am already going through my stash to find enough yarn in the right colour. Now starting over my current project (a little vest)which I had to rip back due to yarn shortage. Can’t have that again.

  42. I’ve got to go with the ironic nature of the “Embers” for a name. LOL
    Apart from that, totally amazing and beautiful, oh and inspirational.
    I can’t wait to see the next one.
    And I don’t comment very often so I’ll say now how very much I appreciate all your blog entries and your knitting. They really help, inspire, drive me a little batty, leave me green with envy, help me become a better knitter and more. many thanks to you and to all your family for sharing.

  43. Ohhh…love Gwen. All due respect to Fiona Ellis, I like Gwen better hoodless and cardiganized (soon to be included in OED).

  44. Knitting deities, please be merciful on Steph because she has clearly lost her mind. . . .!
    Gwen is lovely. But she is not Miss BB.
    And where the h-e-double-hockey-sticks are the photos of Joe’s Gansey? We know you can’t post photos of Hank’s and Lou’s sweaters yet, but! For sheep’s sake, how many years have you been holding back on that gansey??? Will Joe freeze his nipples off for lack of a gansey AGAIN this winter????

  45. P.S. Gwendolyn is a really, really pretty sweater.
    Especially the arms – the cables on the arms on Gwendolyn are incredible – they just knock me sideways every time I see them.
    Fiona Ellis is a genius.

  46. I saw it a few weeks ago in Oakland! I was so relieved that it turned out so beautifully. I wanted to ask for a quick lesson in cable surgery — I still don’t really get it — but I figured that did not have much to do with mawata, so I kept my mouth shut.
    Didn’t you love the Shelter yarn??? My next cable project will be made out of it. Looks like it can take a beating, too!

  47. Love Gwen, and love the fact that she goes everywhere with you. We all need a go to knit that we wear over and over. Mine is a very loved and abused baggy jumper from Stitch n Bitch that was my first knitted top for myself, about 6 years ago. Unlike Alison H being shocked that you hang yours from a peg, I love the fact you do that. Gwen is obviously well loved and looks fantastic!

  48. Is is horribly sad that I’m reassured that your Gwen sleeves do the same thing mine do, with that little bit of belling? I’ve given up trying to re-block that out and just come to embrace them. Mine’s from a Berocco wool and perfect for England’s autumn! Yours looks classy in that cool Toronto way!

  49. The sweater is perfect and fits you beautifully. Makes me want to cast it on immediately. You are my knitting muse.

  50. Thanks (sincerely) for reminding me how much I like that sweater… it made picking my winter knit much easier. After reading comments here and on Rav, I think the arms will be fine on me. Thanks, friends!

  51. Steph!
    I have a raging case of “knitting a sweater phobia”. I have had this alergy all of my knitting life and have decided this year to overcome it. I am even gather yarn for a sweater. But as I look at your Gwen and read your descriptions of how much of a friend she has become…it just makes me want to knit a friend like Gwen. I have a sweater that I take places and have had it sence my kids were….kids. One is now 24 and the other 26 years old.
    I want a new friend. One of my own making. As I have not knit a sweater before..do you have any suggestions for a first friend?
    Barb R.

  52. Hello Stephanie! I fell in love with your books, about three weeks ago, i know where have I been? I’ve been a knitter since I was about 8 years old and love the calm knitting brings me. The Rhinebeck sweater looks a bit daunting for me though. I only have one problem. I bought all your books(thank you amazon!) and now i really have no time to knit because i am enraptured with your books. I’ve finished 4 books so far and seeing how its mid October i better finish quick to get going on my Christmas Knit list. Thank you for your writing and all your inspiration.

  53. Don’t forget to check the sleeve length as you knit along. I seem to recall that like myself, your arms aren’t quite as long as the patterns usually specify and that will result in less knitting to do on the sleeves! Best wishes!

  54. Maybe it would be better to hang it on a hanger instead of a hook. Otherwise, gorgeous!!!

  55. Love last year’s Rhinebeck sweater! And I can’t wait to see this year’s. I’d like to have any cozy sweater about now, as it is getting colder and I have not rurned on the furnace in the main part of the house. Does it count if I did for our bedroom over the garage, when the temp dipped to 56 degrees Thursday night when we had a frost warning?

  56. I love how the cables on this are complex without being even the teeniest bit fussy. Also it is feeding my Shelter obsession. Eventually I’m going to break down and buy some..

  57. Can’t believe people would have the nerve to get nitpicky about whether you finish your projects. Straw in other people’s eyes is what this is about.
    And envy too, as this is just fabulous.. I can’t decide whether the color or the cables are more stunning..

  58. Gorgeous! Fits perfectly with your hair style!
    Looking forward to seeing the green sweater for nephew 😉

  59. I love Gwen. I really love cables. Very rewarding type of knit.
    Just finished “Free Range Knitter” and, as always, a great read! The chapter “Annabelle” was especially of interest. I have one of those types (tigger like) living within my home. He is my grandson and he is 6 going on 7. Let us just say he is a handful but with a heart as big as all of out doors. As a veteran mom of 6 and being the oldest of 7, it must be said I’ve never seen the like of it. I am now seriously considering teaching him to knit. (Wonder if that is an okay thing to do to a boy.) But really that chapter was an inspiration. Helps me feel like I can do this mothering thing. Again! #)

  60. I have the wool picked out and bought for 2 of these sweaters, one for myself and one for my mother, but do you think for the life of me i’ll ever finish them both lol, I’m lucky i can finish a pair of socks in 3 months let alone 2 sweaters….oh and i’ve never done cables…this should be interesting lol Wish i had more time to knit…. every spare minute i have ( bus/traveling) i try to get even a few rows in. Here goes nothing……:D

  61. Gorgeous sweater/cardigan! I am currently ripping back an aran cardigan, and I think you have just given me the courage to try again! Thank you!

  62. I don’t comment here often, but I have to let you know that you have inspired me to dig out a heart-breaking and scary UFO that has been in time out since last Christmas.
    For years, as autumn came around the bend, I have wished for a sturdy, cabled, brown cardigan that could be my go-to sweater as I head out the door. I am a SAHM to a four year old and I have visions of me wearing this mythical sweater to the playground or walking to the library. It will be the kind of sweater that goes with 90% of my wardrobe. I live in Texas…I can wear this as outerwear for months on end.
    Last year I decided that this mythical sweater of my dreams was not going to knit itself, so I went deep into the stash and pulled out the Cascade I had earmarked for this long ago. It is a beautiful medium brown heathered with green and orange. Gorgeous. So I quickly knit up the back of Twist. Then I did one front. It was thrilling. It was flying along until I got about three inches into the armhole of the second front. At which point I held it up against the first front and came to the rather stunning realization that my gauge had changed. I counted rows and pattern repeats over and over. My two fronts just were not matching up. They weren’t even close. Apparently early December had been VERY stressful. On Christmas day last year, in a room full of about ten people, I sat and quietly frogged that cabled front. Nobody in the room appreciated the carnage that was happening right in front of them. Knowing the peril of waiting, I immediately cast-on again for the same front and knit almost to the armhole again. Then fear overtook me and I put the sweater in time out, afraid to deal with potential heartbreak again.
    It’s been a while since I put it aside and my gauge can be less than reliable, but I’m pulling Twist out again today and starting back up. If Gwendolyn can be such an awesome go-to sweater for you after all your perseverance, after all the trials and tribulations…then surely I can manage Twist with just one little (okay, for me it was big) hiccup.
    So this is my long-winded thanks for reminding us that such a difficult journey resulted in an awesome go-to sweater. I may never own a unicorn, but I CAN have the mythical sturdy, cabled, brown sweater of my dreams.

  63. I’m knitting a Miss BB, too! Or rather, I did knit a Miss BB, but she had some problems and needs surgery… For that I cast her into the knitting abyss, I confess. Since I need some motivation to revisit my Miss BB attempt, I’m going to race you, Stephanie! I’ll try to fix and blog my Miss BB by the time you finish yours. 🙂 Thanks for all the knitting inspiration!

  64. I like your version of the sweater much more than the original. The color is awesome, BTW.
    Good luck with BB. You can do it.

  65. LOVE YOUR BLOG, I always read it for years now. and finally retired and homebound — what books should i use to help me with my knitting– my sight is going due to glaucoma-did not know u were to be in Mn i would have had someone bring me what an extraordinary gentlemen — should i start with your books or zimmerman’s? Linda

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