Purple Gray Rose

Hats are my favorite type of project to make. They’re quick. They’re useful. You can try new techniques. You can use bold colors. They’re just the perfect fast-satisfaction project.

I finished Thea Colman‘s lovely stranded hat Gray Rose in two days. It’s the magic of hats. The big flower petals are fun to make, there are some very long floats though. To avoid a sloppy inside and avoid snags I trapped the float every 5 stitches. I duplicate stitches the yellow centers on after I was done making the hat.

I used Bumblebirch yarn Quill DK for the two main colors. The purple is “Blackberry” and the off-white is “Fog.” I really love the depth of color that Bumblebirch achieves with her kettle dyes. All of her yarns have a nice tight twist while still being uber soft.

I use one of these pom-pom makers to make all my pom-poms. The hat decreases very quickly and I think the pom-pom brings the top together nicely. These faux fur pom-poms have been all over lately and I’ve been considering changing to one of them. What do you think?

Scrappy Baa-ble

One of the benefits of being a Compulsive End Hoarder is that sometimes (very occasionally) you have exactly what you need to make a hot new pattern from stash.

You know when you come across a pattern that you MUST drop everything and make? For me, they are usually small things; hats, mittens, etc. The heavier the yarn weight, the more likely I am to cast on, no matter what’s already on the needles. When I saw Donna Smith‘s playful sheepy hat Baa-Ble, I wanted to cast on that moment.

I don’t know what you do with your partial half-balls (or quarter-balls, or eighth-balls) when you finish a project, but I save mine. I have all kinds of rationalizations.

  • The finished item may need to be repaired at some future date, and I will have the ends on hand. Never mind that I have mountains of leftovers from projects that are long gone.
  • I tell myself I may want to make a “matching” something in the future and I will have exactly the right color.
  • I dream some other project will come along and it will only call for a small amount of yarn, and this will be exactly the right color for the job. I will be saving money in the future because I won’t need to buy new yarn. I tell myself.

The result is, we have enough yarn in the house that we should be getting a tax rebate for having Green insulation. But, in this case, the result was also that I had exactly what I needed. I was able to case on the moment I stumbled across the pattern. A sweater from 2008, slippers from 2010, and two different hats from 2010 and 2011 left behind enough yarn for me to knit one Baa-ble in 2015. It took three years to take photos–aside from a few awkward selfies that were a “placeholder” on Ravelry for far too long.

This super cute hat whipped up in no time. The sheep were so fun that I just couldn’t stop until they were done. Once I finished the sheep, I was basically at the crown, then poof, done. This was an extremely satisfying snap of a pattern. It’s drawn a fair handful of “cute hat” comments from random strangers–ok, yes, usually older women, but sometimes creepy men. Public Transportation ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. My version is quite slouchy. I guess I could’ve gone down a needle size to tighten the gauge up slightly, but it drapes nicely.

What was the last pattern you just had to cast on?

Text Me Mittens Pattern

If you don’t start off by commenting on how long it’s been since your last post, are you even blogging? According to the blog, 2018 didn’t happen. But, of course, 2018 did happen. I even managed to publish a pattern! I couldn’t believe when I checked Ravelry and it informed me that I actually published it in JANUARY 2018–a year ago!

These are my Text Me Mittens, pattern “now” available on Ravelry. After the pattern was test knit, I just went ahead and activated the pattern on Ravelry, fully meaning to announce it on the blog. But, life being what it is, and excuses being what they are, I never got around to posting that the pattern was available. Never gave it a proper spotlight.

The entire body of the mitten is knit in eye-of-partridge stitch, which is a very easy to memorize slip stitch pattern. The slip stitches make the pattern extra dense because each row has both knit stitches AND the floats from the slip stitches making a double layer of yarn. That means you can get super warm mittens with DK or worsted weight. The slip stitch pattern also looks amazing with hand-dyed yarn. I made these in a semi-solid kettle-dye colorway (the always amazing Bumblebirch Forage in “truffle”) and the effect is subtle. One of my testers made hers with a more variegated colorway and you can see how well the pattern breaks up pooling.

These mitts have a long history. Originally designed in late 2015, these grew from Bob’s request for mittens that would still allow him to use his phone. As I was asking him which combination of fingers he would need free for maximum utility, he considered for a moment and decided he would really just need his thumbs. From there, I designed these squishy mittens with little thumb-hoods that can be flipped on and off for a quick message. They also do wonders for gripping a doorknob. Have you ever tried turning a doorknob with mittens on? These give just the traction you need to get that sucker to turn.

At the end of 2017 (yes, that’s two years later) I finally sat down with the chicken-scratch notes I kept as I was knitting. Partially looking at my notes, and partially looking at the knitting itself I was able to get the pattern out on paper. Then, because I can’t leave well-enough alone, I created two more sizes–They come in Women’s Small, Women’s Large, and Men’s Medium which corresponds to 7.25″; 8″; and 8.75″ around the palm. I had the pattern test knit and it’s been up for sale since just after the New Year (2018).

There’s no real great reason why 2018 completely fell off the map. Honestly, the change from the blogger platform to wordpress really intimidated me and prevented me from “just going for it” like I did when I first launched the blog… I’ve enlisted some help and I’m going to try and put my fear (and frustration!) aside in 2019 and make the blog a thing again. Highlights of 2018 that likely would have made the blog if I’d been on my game: Memorial Day Weekend concerts in the Columbia River Gorge, whitewater rafting on the Dechutes River, buying a house, painting in the new house, installing light fixtures in the new house, closet upgrade in the new house, first Christmas in the new house, etc.

Have you made the switch from blogger to wordpress? Tell me how it went for you.

Sometimes It’s the Simple Things

I consider myself a pretty experience knitter. I have tackled most techniques and, while some are not my favorite, I would say that I can execute all of them fairly successfully. But that doesn’t mean I don’t still love to grab a completely simple mindless project from time to time. For example, dishcloths.

Each spring in Portland, a lot of the local yarn shops (we’ve got a lot of yarn shops in Portland) get together and throw a “Yarn Crawl”–it’s like a pub crawl, but instead of stopping at a bunch of pubs for a drink, you stop at 13 yarn shops to ooogle yarn. There are delightful trunk shows and demonstrations and lots of knitterly camaraderie. I’ve yet to get through a crawl on budget (my personal budget) but I always end up with some fabulous stash additions.

During the 2015 crawl, Yarnia had these delightful Dishcloth Kits made from 100% cotton yarn strands. The kit had enough yarn for 3 small dishcloths or one small dishcloth and one larger hand cloth. I was very drawn to this pink-black combo and snapped it up. The pattern for the dishcloths is a very simple knit purl pattern that I memorized quickly after only one or two repeats.

Yarnia is quite unique for a yarn store. They sell yarn by weight. They have many very fine strands of yarn/thread. You can choose up to six in various fibers and colors and then Yarnia uses a special machine to cone all of the strands together so that you can knit with them as one single “yarn” strand. There’s a video of the process here. It’s fun! I may be slightly biased since its the first yarn store I ever worked in, but it gives you a lot of creativity in creating a special yarn for a project. This particular kit had 5 strands of cotton in different thicknesses–equaling a worsted weight when held together. There is two black strands and three different shades of pink.

I made the three small cloths a gave one dishcloth and some homemade sugar scrub to each of my admin staff for Christmas. (Yes, Christmas 2015. I’m a wee bit behind on posts.) I really love sugar scrub for taking dry skin off my hands, legs, and face. After buying quite a few scrubs for $15-20 a pop I realized that I could easily make my own. The recipe I use is very simple:

  • 1 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 Cup Olive Oil (can substitute coconut oil or almond oil if preferred)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 tsp Honey

Mix all ingredients and store in an air-tight container. That’s all! Use it like you would any other exfoliator. You’ll be baby smooth and smell like vanilla to boot. I have always used olive oil and never tried the suggested substitutes (only because of cost) so I can’t speak to how they might change the formula, but I’m sure it’s still amazing. I’ve been told it can keep for up to three months, but I’ve never had a batch last that long. Its the perfect last-minute gift.

 

1 Hour Herringbone Cowl

Be forewarned, the 1 Hour Herringbone Cowl takes significantly longer than an hour to knit up. I used this pattern in a 2 hour knitting class and most students had about two inches of fabric after two hours. That being said, that’s still some pretty quick knitting!

 

I used slightly more than one skein of Malabrigo Chunky that I’ve had in my stash since college. Stefanie Japel‘s pattern is very easy to follow. There are just two rows that you alternate to make the herringbone pattern. The chunky yarn paired with the stiff stitch makes a fabric that is very warm and plush.

 

The colorway of this yarn is Violetas, but my skein was much more purple than the ones I have seen on the shelves lately–they seem to have made the color much more blue over the years. The slight variations in this skein look really great in the herringbone pattern.

I stuck this away and used it as a Christmas gift this year. I frequently make projects because I want to knit them, not because I actually need them. Those go in the closet for when I need a last minute gift. These days, so many people are having babies that I should probably throw some baby things into the emergency box. I’ve knit 3 projects on pretty quick deadlines recently. And I’ve got 2 more to plan.

I wanted to knit this to try out the herringbone stitch, but I knew it would be going in the box. I like long cowls that can be doubled up. Maybe someday I’ll double the number of stitches and make myself an extra cozy version.

Resistance is… Essential

I was not able to attend the Woman’s March on Washington (Portland edition) because I was lending support to someone going through some family health issues. All day my facebook feed was packed with photos from friends around the country at various marches. Plus there were photos all over the news of huge crowds around the country. It was very powerful and reassuring to see so many women gather and raise their voices. And of course, as a knitter, the prominence of the Pussy Hat as a symbol for the March made my heart happy.

 

The idea of thousands of knitters clicking away counting down the days until the revolution is so very Madame Defarge, I can’t help but want to overthrow the patriarchy. I’ve had this skein of Madelinetosh A.S.A.P. in my stash for about 2 years… basically since it first came out. When I placed my order, this skein of the color “Coquette” was one of the few left in stock. I never really had a plan for it, but as soon as I saw a post about the Pussy Hat, I knew I had the perfect skein.

There are a number of different patterns for Pussy Hats on Ravelry. The particular one I chose was Brooklyn Purl Alley Cat Hat by Claudette Brady. The pattern is free on Ravelry. My one slight critique is that the pattern uses “left twisted stitch” and “right twisted stitch” without explaining them. For the left twisted stitch, you just knit into the back of the second stitch on the left needle, then knit into the front of the first stitch on the left needle and take both the first and second stitches off the left needle together. The right twisted stitch is even easier. You knit into the second stitch on the left need, then into the first stitch on the left needle, then take both stitches off the left needle together.

I really like the way the twisted stitches paired with the purls were used to set off the “ears” of the hat. The super bulky yarn really lets the ears stand up a little bit too. And the coquette is the perfect shade of aggressive pink. Viva la revolución!

Miracle

So, I’m pretty sure that I performed a miracle the other day. I didn’t turn water into wine or anything that awesome, more like a light miracle. I found buttons for a sweater in under 10 minutes at the craft store.


I know. I’ll give you a few minutes to pick yourself up off the floor. It’s true. Here I am sheepishly entering the craft store sweater in-hand only 30 minutes before closing. Oh, and it was raining like crazy, contributing to the stress of the moment.

I was fully prepared to beg and plead with the staff for just-five-more-minutes to find the perfect buttons for this darling little Gramps Cardigan I knit for Bob’s new baby nephew. As it turns out the perfect buttons found me almost the minute I walked into the button aisle. If you have ever tried to buy buttons for a sweater, you know the painstaking process it can be… Too blue. Not blue enough. Too small for the button hole. Too big for the button hole. Perhaps worst of all, exactly perfect, but the store only has 3 buttons and I need 7. We’ve all been there.


Not this time. These weren’t even in the actual button aisle. They were on the end cap. I looked at them and though “wow, that looks like it might be close” but almost immediately dismissed them as too good to be true. Surely, they must be flawed in some way. I’ll find out when I hold them to the sweater that they’re actually chartreuse and it was a trick of the light making them look blue. They were perfect.


This darling pattern by Kate Oats knit up in no time at all. I made the smallest size (6 mo.) and felt like the second I cast on, I was casting off again.

The patten calls for dk weight yarn which makes adorably plump cables. I used some yarn that’s been in the stash for ages. I originally bought this Cottonwood by FibraNatura to make a summer shrug but never got around to making it and just lost passion for the pattern. When I was stash diving to look for something to make this baby sweater with, this jumped out. It’s 100% organic cotton and incredibly soft. It’s still cotton though so working the cables did make my hands sore because the cotton just doesn’t have the same stretch and give as animal fibers. For a small project, totally worth it.


I was rewarded for my hard work with this picture. Looks like it will be keeping him warm for the rest of the winter. (Possibly he is the real miracle part of this story… but my trip to the button store is an easy second.)

Bright Orange Honey Cowl

Continuing my breakneck catch up of things left unblogged, I give you… my November 2015 Honey Cowl. It’s made of the tragically-discontinued Cascade Souk.

Honey Cowl

I managed to snag two of the last skeins from my LYS after the discontinuing became official. The yarn is deceptive in that it has a rustic scratchy look to it, but it’s actually very soft to the touch. With the yarn in hand I went looking for a pattern that would work with the bold colors. I settled on this lovely but simple pattern by Antonia Shankland.

Honey Cowl

She has several really great cowl patterns, this being one of the easiest. I also really like Bubble Wrap Cowl and Tempo. This was a perfect brainless project for pulling out on my commute or in a spare minute. After reading the pattern once you never need to look at it again.

Honey Cowl

Orange is one of my all-time favorite colors and you just really don’t see very much good orange yarn at all. What is “good” orange yarn you ask? Basically anything that not hunting blaze colored. For some reason, most companies come up with one very bright orange and nothing in the red or yellow end of the spectrum. This lovely gradient hits all the high points.

I knit every last scrap of my two skeins and I spit-spliced the join between the two skeins so there was no waste. I followed the cast-on directions for the large size, and I do wish I had had a third skein to make my cowl extra-wide. With two skeins, it’s about 7 inches tall. A third skein would have brought it to 10 inches which would be super cozy. As it is, it still keeps my shoulders nice and warm when it’s tucked into my coat.

Tensfield

Please do not let the snow on the ground in these photos fool you. There is no snow in Portland, only cold, dreary, rain. We are just wrapping up one of the wettest Thanksgiving weekends in as long as I can remember.

Tensfield

This snow is actually from January… that’s how long it’s been since the photos were taken for the blog to the actual writing of the blog post. What is life if not a constant struggle to do better…

This is the Tensfield I knit last winter for Bob. The pattern comes paired with another version called Langfield, which is essentially the same hat but slouchy. Both patterns are by Martina Behm. I’ve knit several of her shawls patterns and this was equally well written.

Tensfield

Of course, the fact that it is a well-written pattern doesn’t mean that I didn’t manage to screw it up. At one point the instructions clearly tell you to knit “until 20 stitch before marker.” Well, I just knit 20 stitches and continued on to the next part of the pattern… which was much too soon. Once I realized my mistake (after rereading about 100x before I realized my error) it was easy enough to get back on track.

The yarn is Araucania Huasco DK. It’s super tightly spun so the yarn has a lot of “sproingy” bounce to it. It was fun to work with.

Tensfield

(I like that action shot of rummaging in the trunk.) The variegated yarn really makes it easy to see the unique construction and the different directions you work to all meet together at the crown.

I never much like to remake patterns. Too many good ones not to try something new. But since this pattern is written so that you can use any yarn and needle size that you want I could see re-doing it again in different weights to get a different effect. A super chunky one would be really cute and cozy!

Tannenbaum

I have not had a Christmas tree since I stopped living with parents at 18. I always traveled home to spend actual Christmas day with my family, so there always was a tree on Christmas day, but I haven’t lived with a tree in… a number… of years. Until now!


We put up a tree on Saturday. I’ve been so busy (at least in my mind) for the past so many years that it’s been a really long time since I felt like I had a Christmas season. Recently, Christmas has been a long weekend at best–a quick exchange of presents, one delicious dinner, some hugs and kisses, and back to work. Having a tree at home really makes it feel like I’m getting into the holiday.


This is also the first year that I’ve actually cut down a tree. Well, I didn’t cut it down, Bob did the actual cutting, but I was there and I held the top of the tree while the cutting occurred, so basically, I cut down the tree. We went to a tree farm about 30 minutes from where we live. One of the things I love about the area is how quickly you can go from city to country. The farm gave us everything that we needed–saw, piece of tarp to lay down in the mud so you don’t have to kneel in the mud, then they shook the tree and bound it up so we could throw it on top of the car. They even gave us the twine to tie it to the car.


That’s the tree shaker… It’s harder to see what’s going on in a still photo. Once we got the tree home there was a small amount of grief over getting it not to lean in the stand, but we got it.


Then we got the lights and star on.


Then the ornaments. My mom started a tradition the year I was born (I’m the oldest) of giving Christmas ornaments as a gift. He favorite ones to give are Hallmark keepsake ornaments. She sent mine to me this year. I had enough to cover the whole tree!


What a nostalgia trip. Also, when I was a kid my favorite movie was Wizard of Oz, so about 75% of those ornaments are Oz themed. I’m going to pretend that it’s not weird to have 9 wicked witches on your Christmas tree… Do you have a Christmas theme? (Intentional or not…)