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Dear Kay,

I kept knitting last week, though the only thing on my mind really was the school shooting two miles down the road, across the street from our graphic designer Hannah’s house. Here in Nashville, we’re all furious and heartbroken and motivated to get folks registered to vote and to get those voters to the polls on election day.

Meanwhile . . .

This Valdres Pullover is really working for me.

You cannot knit this thing without feeling a boost in your mood. It’s superzingy, colorful, and excellently Norwegian. Every time I look at this Valdres Pullover, it makes me smile. There’s such humor and wit in it—it combines a number of traditional Norwegian sweater design elements, but it’s its own thing. Slightly bonkers, actually. Arne & Carlos really know how to engineer a handknit.

My Latest Tips

Tip No. 1: Colorwork Chart Top Tips. Kate Atherley’s post here offers superb advice on working with colorwork charts. She is amazing, and this new post is a 100% confidence builder even if you already knit from charts.

Tip No. 2: Check your gauge. Pattern calls for a size 4; I’m using a size 6. In other words, Your Mileage May Vary when it comes to stranded knitting.

Tip No. 3: Turn your work inside out. This is such a helper if you’re worried about sleeves knitting up too tightly.

When you turn your work inside out, the floats have a slightly longer path to follow, and they won’t short-cut across the interior as they can if you knit with the outside facing out. When it’s inside out, you still see the front side as you go.

Tip No. 4: Use magic loop technique. I’m using magic loop for these sleeves rather than double-pointed needles. Highly recommended for minimizing laddering, lost DPNs, general misery. Here’s Jen Arnall-Culliford’s brilliant video tutorial on using a long single circular needle for small-circumference knitting in the round.

Tip No. 5: Sticky notes. Seriously, use sticky notes when following the chart. This chart has certain symmetries and certain subtle non-symmetries—just enough to throw me off while trying to watch Episode Nine of Daisy Jones and the Six. Maybe the tip here is actually: don’t watch Daisy Jones and the Six while doing this colorwork.

Tip No. 6: Remember to increase. Doing increases in a sleeve that has stranded colorwork requires a certain focus. It’s not hard, but it’s not nothing either. I write out a set of numbers for the increases, and cross each one off when I finish it. Low tech! I think I’ve done the added stitches in the way that best fits them into the stitch pattern. But I didn’t fuss about it too much because they’re all on the underside of the sleeve and only when waving along to Daisy Jones and the Six will anybody see how those increases turned out.

This top motif is where I really got my groove on—there’s a mental mindset that comes with this sort of knitting, and I’ve got it now!



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  • Your Valdres looks so lovely!! Thanks for the great tips!!
    I was wondering how close you all were to the shooting. How horrible at any distance but right in your lap ? My heart goes out to everyone…
    My anger builds with each one. There is NO REASON WHY we can’t stop this…if we have the courage to say no more in great numbers, loudly, publicly, and with our votes.

  • Beautiful Valdres…this one is high in my queue. I have so many friends in your area and fear hit me as one of them is a teacher in a private school. WHY-WHY-WHY? is the constant question with very simple answers of how to fix it. VOTE PEOPLE–let your voice be heard. I know people say they are tired of hearing this but my thoughts and prayers are with everyone. This is how I was raised. Be safe y’all…

  • What a great tip- inside out knitting. Now to complicate it even more – knit those sleeves 2 at a time!
    As a retired teacher and a never to be retired mother and grandmother, I too am devastated by the school shootings. WHY indeed? Wake up, you legislators. Help our children-our future.

  • I am drowning in work now. I can’t knit! Your column that I read religiously keeps me going. So thank you! Thank you also for speaking out on shootings. Please speak out, get out the vote…talk about it here! The violence your community experienced is horrific. It is like the year DC experienced the random sniper, as we never know where the next mass shooting may happen…and in such unlikely places, like your community. Thank you for the knitting and the outrage. We must all keep vigilant and voting!!!!

    • The only “unlikely” place for a mass shooting is where the real “weapons of mass destruction” are not readily available for purchase. Which is currently nowhere in the US. And to the comment below from Nat in the UK: yes, it’s horrifically traumatic every single time. The rest of the world must look at us in bewilderment: why continue to make choices/allow our government to make choices that are literally self-sabotaging? For me here in the states, it’s like watching an addict spiral out of control. Except we as a culture are the addicts: to the war mentality that anyone anytime anywhere should be able to have a machine gun. Not least: I’m sorry Ann, that your community is going through this particular modern grief & trauma. The school shooting in my community a few decades ago was shocking & also disturbing in its “more of the same insanity” feeling.

  • Here in UK, I have been waiting and hoping for you to speak out on the school shooting in Nashville. I cannot imagine how terrible it must be to live with the constant threat of such shootings let alone the trauma suffered by all involved.

  • Ann it looks so lovely!

  • I, too, was sitting on the front porch about 2 miles from the shooting and am shocked and dismayed. Those poor children and loved ones.

  • Thank you for your candor and fir the great knitting tips. This sweater is so exciting! What colors!

  • This is what happens to me all the time with MDK. I say nah I won’t make that from the guide and then you highlight it and make it look fun! Yes I am now going to make this amazing sweater and enjoy it just like Ann!

    Our hearts are broken for Nashville. And the other 100+ towns this year.

  • That’s a happy looking project!

    Thanks Ann. “we’re all furious and heartbroken and motivated to get folks registered to vote and to get those voters to the polls on election day.”

    • Wow, you should have given a Kleenex needed warning for that song! How beautiful!!

  • I think turning your work inside out for colorwork is a great tip. I am also saying to myself, “Why didn’t I think of that!

  • Speaking of charts: you could absolutely use Arne & Carlos’ styrofoam trick and then track your colorwork with pins – it doesn’t have to be only for embroidery:

  • Somehow knitting is usually my response to (yet another) tragedy. It just helps. And of course, Post-it’s always help knitting.

    • I don’t understand how to turn work inside out and knit it.

  • Protasiewicz just won today in WI! Yes! Voting does matter. Thank you for doing what you can to ensure change happens in TN. Tell us how we can help. I feel like I gave up hope after Sandy Hook but we cannot afford to give up.

    I’ve done a fair amount of colorwork but this inside our technique is new to me! Thanks for the tip.

  • Great tips! they will help give me courage to try color work and help with all my other knitting. Inside out!, Stickies! Great ideas.

  • I have been thinking of everyone in Nashville after the shooting. I hope you all lean on each other and get out the vote!
    Thanks for the great tips, Ann.

  • Ann, you make every piece of knitting no matter how problem-likely sound like so much fun! In that spirit (and Kay’s principle about nothing is impossible if you want the finished product bad enough) I am working on a plain sweater right now to which I have inexplicably (no one is making me) added a small feature which requires the tiniest amount of stranded knitting. I can do it! Previously my technique, although overseen by a PAID teacher, offering several alternatives, was physically Impossible for me to execute and I had given up on Fair Isle. Luckily, I happened on a very specific video on this feature where the precise positioning of the instructor’s index finger was key to the leverage I needed to execute two-color knitting. So don’t give up folks! Keep asking, keep looking. And maybe one of A + C’s smaller projects may be in your (and my!) future. Or maybe only just a smidgen of it to use on a cuff. That alone would be a life-achievement.

  • Inside out! What a great tip.

    Remember Mother’s Day, May 14, 2000 – never give up…

  • Thank you for sharing your feelings about the Nashville shootings. In addition to voting in every election, all of us, all the time, we need to overturn the Citizens United decision and get dark money (like NRA funds) out of politics. The proposed 28th amendment, with growing bipartisan support, does just that. If you don’t know about it, I hope you’ll read more here:

  • Using the KnitCompanion App is a game changer and does all this – well except turning your work inside out. strongly recommended.

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