Joining the long list of items no longer relegated to gender: the cowl. A long-standing favorite of the knitting community for it's brevity and practicality, my boyfriend, impressed by the cowl's simple elegance, requested a Good Wool version of his own. 

Pretty handsome, no? What's that? Did you just say, "That's not Mr. Good Wool, you common trollop!"

True. You caught me. This is actually my Ashley Madison thing on the side. 

Just kidding! Come one, I'm not on Ashley Madison, I'm not even married! This is my Tender thing on the side. 

I got you again!!!

No really. This guy is actually a client of my other side-gig: Professional Photographer Person (that's not actually on my business cards but I'm now seriously considering it.) This is local KC musician Doby Watson, who needed a photograph for a release and was kind enough to let me use him as a scarf model since Mr. Good Wool said, "I'm tired of being beautiful all the time, I don't want to be a model anymore. No one understands my art!"  

Here's the real Mr. Good Wool.


Just kidding. This is just some handsome rando (that's what she said) from Pinterest that Mr. Good Wool aka Rob picked out as the inspiration for his cowl.

Whilst visiting a friend in Lawrence KS last month, I let Rob run amuck in The Yarn Barn for his wool selection. He, once again, went with a Donegal Tweed (gotta love a man who loves scratchy wool aka isn't a little bitch.) This one is a homespun from Tahki. He picked it because he wanted a grey cowl, and the little red-orange tweed flecks match his new Canada Goose parka. On the outside, this may seem adorable, but I'm pretty sure Rob has an undiagnosed clinical case of Obsessive Compulsive Matching Disorder [OCMD]. Rob famously "likes his shit matchin'." I could get into it but let's just say if Rob doesn't seek treatment for his OCMD soon, within 20 years he could end up like the notorious Green Lady of Brooklyn.

But I digress. I must say, I'm a little disappointed in the final cowl outcome. It turned out larger that I hoped because I eyeballed my gauge LIKE AN IDIOT. Also, to make my cowl like the inspo, I cleverly thought (again without the assistance of gauge): "That thing is standing high. I'm going to need a pretty stiff gauge to pull this off. One size down from the suggested needle size on the band outta do it." LIKE AN IDIOT. So the result is not only bigger but also floppier than I'd hoped for. Sometimes bigger and floppier is better, like in the case of pancakes or Basset Hounds. Here, not my fav. Although Rob assures me he loves it. Suck up. 

What has 16 years of knitting taught me? Nothing. It's taught me nothing. 

Oh, hey, there's Mr. Good Wool! This is a photo from our recent vacay in Seattle. What does this photo have to do with this post? Nothing really other than I was starting to forget what he looked like. That's right, I remember now. 

Getting Down to Basics

I’ve been knitting for about 16 years, and knitting sweaters for probably about 10 of those years. So, naturally, I’ve spent quite a lot of time honing what it is that I look for in the perfect, hand-knit sweater. It’s taken about a decade but I think I’ve finally figured it out: I’m happiest in stockinette sweaters. 

I struggled with this for a while. I kind of thought if I didn’t knit fair isle sweaters with 20 colors and 50 stitch pattens on the reg that other knitters would think I was no good. Well, fuck that. That was stupid. I know I’m a kick-ass knitter and I don’t need to prove it with sweaters I’ll never wear. Don’t get me wrong: I drool at the site of Irish cable knit sweaters (and have made a few) and whatever crazy genius Stephen West is dreaming up (yet to tackle that one) but when it comes to what I grab to actually wear, it’s your basic stockinette sweater. In addition to basic stitch work, I also go for neutrals. Are neutral sweaters the most interesting to knit? No. But they get the most mileage in my wardrobe because I wear them ALL the time and I do really enjoy the meditative repetition that comes with simple knitting (plus I can crank those babies out pretty fast.) 

My knitting philosophy: I save my challenging, colorful projects for accessories and gifts but when it comes to my hand-knit sweaters, I let the pieces in my wardrobe that I haven’t spent 80 hours on do the crazy talk. Call me boring but I think this is the recipe for a wardrobe that will be with you for decades (waistline allowing!)

Now, this doesn’t mean I’ll never knit a crazy sweater (did you guys SEE my sheep sweater???) but generally speaking, when it comes to sweaters, I’m a plain Jane and there’s nothing wrong with that. 

I finished this sweater in August but just got around to photographing it (thanks Mr. Good Wool!) a couple of weeks ago. This is Ladies Classic Raglan Pullover by Jane Richmond, mostly. I say mostly because I had to change a lot due to my silly row gauge. I used Elsa Wool for this which is an AMAZING Cormo wool grown in Colorado but when I swatched, my row gauge was off by what would equate to 2 inches too shallow of a raglan depth. Not willing to change yarns, I decided to forgo the kfb increases and increase every 2nd round then every 3rd round: cue m1 increases. M1 increases are far less superior in a raglan sweater to kfb increases as far as design lines go but, alas, this was the simplest solution, apart from spacing out increases every 2nd round then every 4th round which looks wonky in a raglan sweater IMHO. 

Also, I had to change the neck line a bit because of this row gauge dilemma but I won’t go into that. It’s essentially the same sweater as the OG pattern, or any fitted top down raglan pullover. I guess no one can really patent the top down raglan pullover but if you wanted to make a sweater like mine, I’d start with that pattern. Though, in all honesty, if I had to start over I’d probably just draft a pattern myself rather than to keep figuring ways around my shortie row gauge. Actually, I’d probably just take the lazy route and cough up $10 for a CustomFit pattern (I’m all about transparency here on The Good Wool.)

Anyone else a plain Jane sweater fan? We should start a club or something. 

P.S. - Have you guys ever seen a Cormo sheep? They're pretty adorbs and produce some kick-ass, long staple, wool. Definitely Good Wool approved:

photo cred: Juniper Moon Farm

Tweed on

Somehow I convinced Rob to let me take about a thousand photos of him in his new sweater. This is Ranger by Jared Flood

This is the second sweater I’ve knit for Rob and, man, does he look handsome or what? My overwhelming attraction to him is evidenced by the fact that I only seemed to get pictures of his beautiful face. Trust me, this sweater does have a back but… it’s just not as handsome. 

This is just about the last of that tweed my friend Tim brought back from his travels in Ireland (also blogged here.) I probably have enough left for a pair mittens but I’m pretty sick of looking at it at this point so it may have to hibernate for a while. 

Speaking of which…

Let’s talk about yarn storage. I’m thinking about upgrading my yarn storage from this situation:

Little known fact: So I Married an Axe-Murderer is one of my favorite movies of all time. What happened to you Mike Myers?

..too something more like this from IKEA:

But which one you guys? Is this yellow too cray?? Is the white too conservative?? IDK. I’m more of a curbside furniture shopper so this decision is too much for me. 

Sheep Love

And now for something crazy...

I knit a sweater and put a sheep on it.

Yes, a sheep.

In fact, I'm starting a new hashtag...'s called...


Here's me fluffing the sheep...

...and here's me pointing to the sheep.

And lastly, an obligatory shot of my adorable dogs. 

This sweater is from Magpies, Homebodies, and Nomads by Cirilia Rose. Cirilia made hers with a woolen heart motif as an homage to her love of wool, so I made mine with a sheep as a tribute to my borderline unhealthy sheep obsession. 

What brought me to make such a ridiculous project you ask??

Nothing in particular, really, other than that I wanted to have at least one art piece in my knitwear-wardrobe worthy of the jealous on-looks of fellow crazy sheep ladies at any given yarn-store/wool-fest/old-folks-home. 

The yarn is HiKoo Kenzie, a super soft wool blend. The sheep’s locks are from a black Wensleydale sheep because: A. Wensleydales are incredible and have some of longest and most lustrous wool of any sheep breed and B. I obvi had to have a black sheep because of my brooding soul. Also I just love black sheep and their sun-bleached tips. They’re single handedly bringing 90’s hair back. 

Here's a Wensleydale sheep in the flesh/wool for your reference. 

What also attracted me to this pattern was the message behind it. I kind of just picked up this book on a whim because I loved the styling, I really didn’t have any plans to make anything from it. Then, I read Cirilia’s story behind her design: 

Perhaps more than any other item in this book, saddle-shouldered Studio embodies my approach to design. It started with an irreverent slogan pulled from Kanye West’s prolific and utterly entertaining Twitter feed. When he would make a mistake he would quickly correct himself, adding the hashtag #ITSAPROCESS. I loved the sentiment, and the indignant mood of the runon, all-caps delivery. It became a mantra for me as I swatched, sketched, and ultimately rejected a whole book’s worth of ideas before arriving at the keepers.

This struggle is necessary, and it reminds me of another quote I hold dear, this time from Pablo Picasso: “That inspiration comes, does not depend on me; the only thing I can do is make sure it catches me working.” Studio Pullover went through many permutations, all of them serving as sketches for a moment in time—a design thought that I needed to explore. The first was a literal duplicate-stitch replica of the Kanye hashtag, but I found myself wishing for the flatter appearance of intarsia.

I painstakingly removed the lettering and grabbed a bag of vibrantly dyed curly locks, oddments from an Etsy seller comprised of the leftovers from other orders. Using the same fiber-hooking technique I chose for the Marion Collar I covered each saddle shoulder with the locks. The effect was incredibly cool, but perhaps a bit too couture for everyday wear. I landed on a heart motif as an homage to my love for wool, something I knew most knitters would readily identify with. Before hooking the heart, I used a strand of yarn to roughly outline where I wanted the motif.

This spare, geometric heart with two dangling tails at the bottom formed a third, wholly unexpected incarnation, one that I plan to replicate in another sweater, perhaps with lightweight chain. Studio ended up taking many more hours than it should have, but it felt like tending a bonsai. Each variation bent my will in a new way, forcing a thorough exploration of my goals and my perception of the audience. As ever, it’s a process…
— Cilia Rose: Magpies, Homebodies, and Nomads

Everyone who reads this blog (all 5 of you) knows how much I love Kanye. I was sold. 

2000 yards of tweed

Oh hello again. 

It's been all tweed all the time over here at Casa de Good Wool lately.

My friend who was expecting a gender-unknown baby went to Ireland on vacay and brought back almost 2000 yards of Irish tweed for me with the caveat that I would make him a little Irish sweater for his new baby. The rest would go into sweater for Mr. Good Wool. 

So, I chose this pattern from Knitty because it was about the smallest size I could find that called for Aran wool. It came out approx 20" in circumference, so verging on 3 month size, which is what I wanted. I find little objects to be kind of a crap shoot because there's a smaller margin of error not only in the sizing of the garment but in the window that this garment will get worn in the proper season at the proper size. And all babies grow kind of differently. That's one of the reasons I hate knitting baby stuff (I HATE knitting uncertainty) but there is a certain satisfaction in microscopic clothing. It's so cute! And I don't love children all that much so that's really saying something. 

When I found out the baby was going to be a girl, I was almost done knitting. Fearing that it looked to masculine, I lined it with a birdie fabric (chicks love birds) and stuck on some frilly clasps. And, yes, I know we live in a day and age of caution towards "gendering" kids too early but this was a present so I'm not trying to get all political. For the record, I definitely think it's totes fine if your little boy wants to dress up as Elsa from Frozen for Halloween. YOLO. 

And here's the big ole pile o' Rob's sweater. It's all complete sans for the last fitting, the buttons, and some other finishing stuff (the bright orange yarn is holding soon-to-be-kitchenered underarm stitches.) I wanted to finish this sweater during the World Series so it would be a future good luck charm. For those not in the know, the KC Royals haven't won a World Series in 30 years, so KC is super pumped right now with only a few games to go. What happens if they lose you say? I guess that means this will be a bad luck sweater, or maybe just stop being superstitious jerks. You really think the Cubs haven't won a World Series in 100+ years because of a goat or something? Come on. 

In case you're wondering what pattern this is, it's Ranger from Brooklyn Tweed

I just purchased these bad boys on the right from Fringe Supply Co. for this sweater. I've never used horn buttons before so I'm pretty stoked. I like Fringe Supply Co.'s guiding principle of really nice tools/accessories for makers. They're right: nothing ruins a sweater you spent 100 hours on quite like cheap buttons. Go big or go home and... GO ROYALS.