I’m just that much of a help

A few months ago when I was in Vancouver at Knit Social – I staggered up to the Gauge Dye works booth and gave Catherine all my money. You know. As one does.  As I did so, I remarked that she always gets my sock yarn money and my shawl yarn money (yes I have an itemized yarn budget and you should too) and thank goodness that’s where it stops. Her colourways together with the cleverness of self- striping yarn that works for shawls? It might as well be my personal version of knitter kryptonite. As I walked away, I reflected that it’s a good deal that she doesn’t have sweater yarn or I’d pretty much give her all my yarn money, and then a lightbulb went off, and I just about walked backwards to her booth and then I told her.

“If you think about how a shawl works, and whatever magic you run to make the stripes the same length as the rows grow longer – isn’t that” (I said to her, trying not to look as excited as I felt because it’s slightly uncool, while simultaneously pretending I know what math she does)  “Isn’t that the same math as a top down raglan sweater? If you have self striping sock yarn, and shawl yarn, and sweater yarn…” (here I paused for dramatic effect) “…you’d get all my yarn money.”

Catherine looked at me. I looked at her. Then I saw the tumblers start to turn in her mind, and I knew my work was done.  “Make me that” I said.  “I’ll try” Catherine said. “There’s going to be a problem with sizes.” She said that, and I swear I saw here reach for a mental calculator.  “Give it to me in Whistler.” I said. “We’ll see.” She said.

Now, this isn’t the most positive response I’ve had to a yarn demand.  I felt like probably eventually it might happen, but that I shouldn’t get married to it, so I didn’t.  I thought about how clever an idea it was sometimes, and I felt good about telling a really clever person who could actually make it happen, but since I had no idea what had to happen for this yarn to happen, I just thought about it a little bit, like I do other things that I really like the idea of but never happen, like only having one kind of screwdriver.

I got on with my life – until I was at Catherine’s booth at the event in Whistler, and I was giving her all of my sock and shawl money, and she said WAIT, and with a perfect air of brilliance mingled with appealing confidence, she pulled this skein out from behind the booth.

sweateryarn 2017-11-30

I started to say something like “Oh isn’t that pretty” or some other standard yarn thing, when I saw her eyes twinkle, and it hit me.

bettersweateryarn 2017-11-30

Self striping sweater yarn.  She’d actually done it. Designed to work with Flax Light (though it would work with any sweater with standard top down construction) in the 1-2 size, you can cast on at the neck and have stripes of the same size appear all the way to the divide for the arms and body. The rest of the skein is blue- for the rest of the sweater, with the exception of the last little chunk, which is green, so you can have a little green at the cuffs, or the bottom band, or the button bands, or the (yeah here it comes) baby pockets.  This is the prototype, but she says she can make more – and I feel like she’s going to need to do that.

bettersweateryarnworked 2017-11-30

Soon. So, so smart.  Here. Take my sweater money.


*PPS. I’m going to need a small loan.

*PPPS No, it’s cool, I’ll just re-finance the house. Never mind.

177 thoughts on “I’m just that much of a help

  1. Oh No! Oh No! Oh Noooooo you did’nt!

    “Catherine looked at me. I looked at her. Then I saw the tumblers start to turn in her mind, and I knew my work was done. “Make me that” I said. “I’ll try” Catherine said”

    Oh Yes, Oh Yes, Oh Yeeeeeesssssss you did. I am in so very much trouble right now….

  2. You are both geniuses/geniusii(?) It looks simply amazing!

    I guess for larger sizes, you’d just calculate a self striping yoke area and then choose any colour for the main body?

  3. That might have to be one of the most fantastic things I have ever seen. Yes, she needs more colourways. I I need to live in a country where winter drops below 20C so I actually need to wear wool sweaters.

  4. Oh that’s wonderful! I sooo want to try some of their yarn it’s all gorgeous. When I first saw the Concrete and Tulips shawl on your blog I went straight to their site and would have given them all my money even though it was Christmas and I didn’t have any. Thank goodness they were all sold out. I have to say you have very good taste Stephanie because I look at what you’ve made and said to myself “Oooh I like that” and bookmarked at least half the patterns and yarn sites. Sigh.I’m a stitcher too so I have two stashes to support. Sigh again.

    PS I had to click on the house which I’m also going to have to re-mortgage.

  5. That’s brilliant! I love her yarns and knit a fantastic brioche cowl from one the Blue Light colorway. I would give her all my money too.

  6. How the hell do you do this? Mind fog here. You have to get row gauge and stitch gauge…then you can knit your sweater….mind blown, and not just because I have had the mother of head colds for two weeks!

  7. Oh no. No. I have no money! Not even fair, because I have a baby and that would be awesome and she’s taken my money before and that yarn is sooo goood and….. who needs two kidneys, anyway?

  8. Oh my! I can’t knit fast enough to even complete a pair of mittens in time for Christmas, what am I supposed to do now? I have no words.

  9. Wow, that is so cool and so beautiful!! I was excited to finally buy some of her yarn in person at Vogue Knitting Live in Seattle!

  10. It’s like you have a personal yarn fairy! It’s kind of you to share with the rest of us– at least I hope you’ll be sharing Catherine with the rest of us? Pretty please with a cherry on top?

  11. I just went to her website and I want to scream, “Shut up and take my money!” So many beautiful yarns. Sadly I’m running out of places to hide … I mean store my stash.

  12. No, I don’t think you are going to need to finance the house, because all the rest of us are going to buy up all that yarn. Maybe she should offer you a commission for coming up with the concept? That is absolutely beautiful

  13. Does Joe know he’ll have to turn the entire backyard into a vegetable garden (and maybe get a dairy cow or three) so you can divert more of the grocery budget to self-striping yarn???

  14. Whhhhhhaaaaaaaat?! That is SO FANTASTIC. I’m not a sock knitter, nor am I much for shawls, but sweaters are like, my thing. Thankyouthankyouthankyou for giving her this idea.
    (This news made me squeal in delight to an extent that my husband, across the room, asked in concern, “What?”)

    • Yep, I did a big gasp at the photo and my hubby and kids became alarmed. They’re getting pretty accustomed to “it’s a knitting thing” as an explanation by now, though.

      Steph, Catherine, that totally rocks. It goes without saying that I want some.

  15. Wait…whaaaatttt?!!! ….it now exists OUTSIDE MY MIND? This.is.the.Twilight.Zone.
    Ok.Seriously.Truly.How does one budget for yarn? How do you know what skeins/hank/ball/cake/number of whole live musk ox of your very own you will need/desire/covet/die unless you have it?

  16. I may have gasped and squealed when I read this. I am simultaneously marveling at the math and worrying about my bank account.

  17. Having made a shawl with one of her brilliant yarns, I knew exactly what you were using, said to myself, “She makes sweater yarn?!” and RAN over to her website. Sad face. Thanks for clearing this up and can’t wait til it’s offered!,

  18. Seriously I already own more of Catherine’s wool than I will probably ever use. If she makes self-striping jumper wool I will be OVERRUN!

  19. Re-quoting this comment, above, by esta…for its sheer brilliance: “I guess for larger sizes, you’d just calculate a self striping yoke area and then choose any colour for the main body?”

    I would buy the snot out of this sweater yarn duo….one skein self-stripes, one skein to coordinate. Size 5-6x, please, if I can get it within the next six months. For every six months after that, please add a size.

  20. If you got two balls, (or 4) and alternated them as you go, couldn’t you extend the size all the way up to adult sizes? Would the stripes stay together? I’m willing to do the work on this one, and find out. Just send me 4 of those balls of yarn, and I’ll take the hit on this one…

  21. I’m over here in absolute awe – I cannot knit a sweater (yet) but the mathematical genius is impressive in the extreme! Well done, Madam Catherine. Well done!!

    • If you’ve done a hat, you could do a sweater. Do try a Flax in worsted, it is so easy, the online instructions are well written and a child/baby sweater works up easily. And if you have no baby in the family it can be donated to a good cause…

  22. OMG I NEED THIS! My heart just about stopped thinking about my toddler grand daughter arrayed in these stripes…in all colors!

  23. Yarn budget? What is this budget of which you speak? I don’t have one of those…any disposable income I have is for potential stash enhancement…(for knitting/spinning/weaving/bobbinlace…) LOL

  24. Oh no! I just found Gauge last week and managed to score some of her sock yarn, everything else was sold out….now it will be next to impossible to get anything from her…..
    Selfish response! I’m actually happy for her success and for your collaboration with her. Brilliant idea and even more brilliant execution!!

  25. It’s only an addiction if you spend the grocery money … or sell your first-born child … or first-born grandchild …

    You are in SO much trouble, young lady!

  26. When I saw that sweater in progress, I KNEW it had to be Gauge Dye Works. However, I thought that you were working from 2skeins in order to get wider stripes. Love it!

  27. I LOVE Catherine’s yarn. I’ve only tried her sock yarn but the second that sweater yarn comes out I’m buying it. I have a new niece or nephew on the way and it looks so beautiful on the Flax Light pattern.

    ( I wonder how much I could sell my cats for to buy this yarn?) (I would never do that) (Probably not)

  28. Oh, but surely your children have some younger friends, or cousins, or something… My youngest is four, but her cousin is two.
    (I know I’m doomed, so I want to drag as many of you down with me as possible.)

  29. Yep, saw the pink and thought you might be saved. Of course not — but boy, if she sees any ’80s appliances there will be a mortagage in your future.

  30. I just finished the Tulips Cardigan using Jill Draper’s yarn. It turned out beautifully, but all those stripes were a PAIN. And the ends!! This is brilliant.

  31. I”m getting a new niece in January. This is perfectly brilliant. She can have all my yarn money too. (I’m not smart enough to sort it out by type).

  32. I just can’t stand how much I love this! You should definitely get an agent’s fee or something for the brilliant idea. Love her yarn SO much. Now sweaters. YIKES!

  33. By Grapthar’s Hammer – my eyes popped when I saw that sweater. How utterly delicious. She will have my money as well.

    Good job you two – great meeting of the minds.


  35. I once was whining to a knitting friend that I wished I could knit FASTER. She couldn’t understand that; why would you want to hurry a relaxing task? I pointed out that there were SO MANY YARNS I wanted to make something with…I’d never get to them all if I kept knitting at my slow pace! This lady’s yarn is a prime example of why I NEED the SPEED 😀

  36. There must be something in the air! Stephanie Lotven has just released “Sock Arms” a slightly different take on the self-striping sweater idea (and adaptable for regular self-stripers), launching with a fun kit collaboration with Must Stash: https://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/sock-arms

    I applaud all this activity! I’ve spent quite a while puzzling over ways to manipulate my self-stripers for sweater usage, especially baby sweaters. Definitely an idea whose time has come! I’m on a yarn diet, but exceptions will be made if I am so lucky as to snag one of the Gauge sweater stripers upon release! (Expecting these to be a BIG hit)

  37. For such a nice friendly Canadian lady, you can sure pull out the evil when you want too! Now I must go itemize my yarn budget. For reasons…

  38. I read this, then scrolled to the photo of the sweater and made a sound that had my husband calling to see if A) I had suffered a stroke or B) was in the bedroom with another man. Holy Mother of Moth!!

  39. That looks amazing! Next project for sure. I’m making Flax Lite for my new baby but I can’t figure out which cast on to use. This is only my third sweater and first that’s not a cardigan. What would you recommend?

  40. She is nothing short of a colour wizard. My head is hurting comprehending that for socks … never mind shawls … and baby jumpers …
    Hope she’s able to work out how many skeins she’s going to need to dye! Yay her and you!!

  41. Now why didn’t I think of that??? I have a feeling that this is the beginning of something big… no never mind big… GINORMOUS!!!

  42. Hmm, I love her yarn, and I have this baby niece whose mom doesn’t like her to wear pink, and I love the Flax pattern….. AND that yarn!
    I think I’m sunk.

  43. I have not been knitting much lately but I’d buy a lot of this yarn and make sweaters the grandchildren I don’t even have yet. This is genius and an amazing example of why math is important.

  44. Re your tweet with the names we must remember this should never have happened and should never happeb agaib. A twisted tormented man and a group of promising young women. Tragedy all around because of a gun

    • I’m a Canadian. I thank the lord often for the fact that we have strict gun control. The twisted and criminal person will find a gun, but at least they are not in many homes.

  45. Thank You Stef ! I love you! You have made me smile and feel good when for days I’ve been worrying a problem like a bone. My mom, one son, one dau. a friend, my husband and myself see my other daughter engaged to a man who we all think, for some different reasons and some the same, that he is a bad choice, or perhaps a good first husband. I see a tragedy in the making and so good to have something fun to smile about. Thank you again. Oh and perhaps next time someone tries to instruct you on knitting, when they never have, you might pull out your phone and say, I do love sweaters, look at this one I made last year, and this one I made etc. and sweetly share your pictures, now isn’t that a nice way to handle it?!?!

  46. You know, I read your blog for your insight, talented writing, and to get a boost in my flagging knit mojo by viewing your beautiful projects. Believe me, after six months of crazy work hours in the ER, and studying for my clinical counselior national boards (that I passed, praise to the fiber gods!), my mojo has been non-existent. And here you are (once again) creating a lust in me for yarn that will be of no use to me (I don’t knit adult size sweaters. Don’t ask. It’s a thing with me.), but oh, the baby sweaters. I can’t wait to see what other yarn colors are produced!

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