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!

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!

Dustland for Christmas and 2014 Review

I really only knit one gift for Christmas 2014 and it wasn’t that involved at all. That’s really the case for most of my 2014 knitting. I only completed 13 projects for the year,  and 8 of those had been on the needs from 2013 or earlier. It was a slog of a year, but I managed to squeak this last project in just before the year end.

 

Dustland

 

 

 

I’d been wanting to make Stephen West’s Dustland since Book 2 originally came out. When thinking about what I could whip up for Bob for Christmas, this hat popped into my mind. Two days later, I had a hat.

 

I used Malabrigo Worsted in colorway Cypress. I made the large size, which, in hindsight is was probably overkill. It’s quite big. I used the full skein of yarn and actually ran out before the last 5 rows were finished. I had to use a little gray yarn to finish because I didn’t have any matching green. You can see the little gray patch in this photo.

 

Dustland

 

 

These a very well lit photos, but in most indoor light the hat looks almost black, so the gray is not really distinct most of the time. The changing textures make the knitting go by so fast since you don’t have time to get board with pattern before it changes to something else.

 

Dustland

 

 

And so ends 2014. I must admit, it was not the best year. Life challenges. Career challenges. Health challenges. Nothing devastating, just relentless. Setting goals and resolutions for 2015 feels like a surefire way to feeling disappointed in myself. Instead this year needs to be about focusing on the process. Anxiety has even been spilling over into my knitting when I think about all the yarn I have, all the patterns I want to make, and how slowly projects have been coming off the needles lately. I need to get back in touch with how much I love the process of knitting and love my yarn. Finishing is not my 2015 goal.

Warmish Release

It’s been a long time since I published a pattern on Ravelry. I have lots of lovely ideas, just can’t seem to find the time to work things out properly and make sure I write a good pattern. About a month ago I finally settled in and got one of my ideas down on paper. Warmish is now available for sale.


It’s a beret-shaped hat that sits loosely around the ears and a simple dimple-texture pattern. It doesn’t get that cold in Portland in the winter, so I don’t like hats that are very tight against my ears and forehead. This is fitted enough to not fall off in a gust of wind, but not snug. However, for those who do prefer a snug brim, I’ve included instructions for using a smaller needle size on the brim to give a tighter fit.
I knit my sample with one ball of Rowan Lima Colour in the creatively named colorway 711. I love the way the fiber blend (84% alpaca, 8% wool, 8% nylon) allowed for a lot of relaxation in blocking and really let the beret shape come out.
To achieve the beret shape, blocking is absolutely necessary. The circular decreases happen quickly and the finished hat will look a little “lumpy” until it is blocked. I used a 12″ dinner plate and got just the right amount of slouch. Some of my test knitters commented that the hat looked small when it came off the needles but after they blocked it, it grew to the right size.
I always love to hear feedback (and constructive criticism) about my patterns. If you happen to knit this one you can leave me a message here or on Ravelry and I’ll get back to you right away.

Bad pictures of a simple hat

Last fall, Bob asked me if I could knit a hat. I tried really hard not to get all ego-y, and I wanted to say “yes” but I may have scoffed a little and said that “hats are super easy.” I’m like that. So Bob asked for a hat “with a band that folds.”

I found some yarn in a suitable guy color (Madelinetosh Tosh DK in Graphite) and cast on for Jared Flood’s Turn a Square. Except I sort of made my own version of the pattern. I did not do the tubular cast on, because that’s a lot of work for what I feel like is a very minimal effect.  Also, I didn’t do the stripes, because Bob wanted solid. Finally, I made the ribbing longer (4 inches) so that the brim could be flipped up.I don’t have any good pictures of this hat, but I have some bad ones. Here is a picture that does not show either the hat or the color to its best advantage.


Here is another bad picture where you can barely see the hat. It does prove that the hat has been worn out in the wild.

Overall, there wasn’t a lot that went into this hat in terms of skill or complexity, but Bob seems to like it, so we’ll call it a win. Sorry for the crummy pictures.

 

Not exactly a mystery

I really love mystery knit-a-longs. For the uninitiated, a mystery knit-a-long is when a designer releases a pattern is stages (called “clues”) and you don’t get any pictures of the pattern in advance so you don’t know what it looks like until you finish knitting all the clues. Usually you know the general type of item you are making–socks, shawl, hat, etc.–but nothing more.

I totally understand how many people HATE mystery patterns. Knitting takes time. Lots and lots (and lots) of time. Why would you devote a large portion of your free crafty time making something that might be completely not to your liking. I get that. I have nothing against people who refuse to participate in mystery patterns. I love them. I think it’s because I am not necessarily after a finished item. I like to knit for the process of knitting. Getting a finished project at the end is almost like a bonus–I get the magic of knitting and happen to also end up with a hat. I don’t have a strong emotional attachment to the object when I’m done with the knitting. I’ve given lots of things away that I wanted to knit, but knew I’d never wear. When I can’t find a good home for something that I know I’m not going to wear, it goes to the Good Will. All of this is really just to say that I love mystery knits and don’t mind if when I’m done it’s not something I love.

Of course, if I do end up with something I love, all the better. The 2012 mystery hat pattern by Wolly Wormhead was amazingly fun to knit and also turned out to be a hat I love to wear.


Usually mystery patterns don’t have a name until after the full pattern is released. This pattern got the name Encircle after they mystery ended. Sadly, I didn’t knit this as a mystery. I bought the pattern, but I had just gotten my law license and was frantic with job searching, working as a contract drafter of legal documents, and had a full teaching schedule at the yarn shop I was working at. I watched the clues come and go without casting on. It was fun to watch the ladies in my knitting group progress through the mystery. I wish I had gotten the fun of wondering “what next.” So it goes.
The first clue was the brim, which is actually a tube that you knit in the round and sew together when it is long enough to go around your head. Because you knit it as a tube, when then ends of the tube are sewn together it makes a double thick layer of fabric–perfect for keeping ears extra warm. I’ve also found that I love the smoothness of the stockinette brim as opposed to a traditional ribbed brim.
The rest of the hat is a background of purls dotted with fun little cabled circles. The band fits nice and snug, but the body of the hat has a nice slouch to it. The decreases at the top happen really rapidly giving the hat the nice little puff ball look. The cables are small and I had no problem working them without a cable needle so I found that the project went very quick.
The yarn I used is Knitted Wit Sport Superwash Falkland in the colorway Bobbin’s Blue. I love how bright the color is. Perfect for the grey drizzly days we get so often during the Portland winter. It’s also nice and soft. I was worried that it might feel a bit scratchy as falkland is a longer fiber and longer fibers tend to be “itchier.” It’s not. It’s perfectly comfortable on my ears and forehead. The dyer for Knitted Wit actually lives in Portland and sells at many of the local shops. Her colors over the last two season have been amazingly rich and I would say that her color saturation rivals some of the big shots like Madelinetosh and Sweet Georgia (don’t worry, my devotion to MT is still strong as ever, but it’s nice to have options.)
I’m hoping that as we head into summer (summer is just starting here in Portland) I’ll be able to find a mystery knit-a-long or two that I can actually commit to knitting as the clues are published. Commuting for 1.75 hours each day on the train will help considerably if I can find one that doesn’t involve lots of colors or a complicated chart. Know of any that are coming up?

Urchin

The last of the projects that I finished early last year, before I even moved, was Urchin by Ysolda Teague. This is one of Ysolda’s very early patterns from the 2007 Fall Knitty. The reason I chose to make it is the unique construction. It’s knit vertically around your head and joined when you have the needed circumferences, rather than starting circularly and knitting from the brim to the top.


I HATE that the brim is folded under in all my pictures. I think it looks crazy. One of the problems with getting a non-knitter without much enthusiasm for hand-mades to take your photos… They’re more concerned with snapping the shots and getting out of the cold than with making sure you have awesome photos for Ravelry. Some people’s priorities are so out of whack.
(I also wish I had been told about that one straggly strand of hair, it would have been so easy to tuck into the hat. Sigh. First world problems.) I knit the smallest size which makes a much more beanie style hat than the beret shape that the larger sizes tend to form. All in all it took two days of knitting to make this (and I probably only spent 2-3 hours each day.) Nevermind that Ravelry says it took me a week to make. That’s just a product of the fact that last year was so bad for me knitting-wise.
I used a fun yarn by Colinette called Calligraphy. The colorway is call Gaughin.  It’s a loosely spun thick-thin yarn that’s a bulky 100% wool. It wasn’t bad to work with and the project came out nice, but I don’t feel anything more than “meh” for the yarn. Cute, serviceable, but I’m not losing my mind over it. I would use it again if I found a pattern I thought it would compliment, but I’m not going out of my way to stash it (unlike Madelinetosh which I aggressively horde incase of an unexpected sheep apocalypse.)
Honestly, I can’t tell you how this has held up over the past year because… I don’t know where it is! I know, I know. Losing hand knits sucks. All that work, the expense of the yarn, the memories of what was going on in my life as I was making it. It sucks. I’m a serial hand-knit loser though… mittens, hats, scarves, I just can’t seem to hold on to woolies. I’m going to have to either get my sh*t together and keep track of my things, or adopt a more zen mentality about losing them. Le sigh.

Oh Hai

Ah hem hem… So hey… How’s it going? Been a while… Almost a year you say? My how time flies. I feel like I should say I’m sorry, but really I’m not. The last year has brought a lot of changes to my life. I don’t even think I mentioned it in my last post, but when I wrote it (February of 2013, I know…) I had just gotten my first job as an attorney 5 days before the post. I was commuting a long way to work every day and felt just exhausted by the end of the day. It’s hard to even imagine, but really I stopped knitting from pretty much February through July. Dark days.

Ryan and I stopped being a couple in May, and that was sad. In July I moved closer to work. Sadly, closer to work meant further from a lot of other things, including my knitting group. While I had my suspicions early on, by July I was feeling like my job was not a great fit for me (that’s the extremely reserved, internet appropriate, way to describe how I was feeling anyway…) By late October I decided a new job needed to be at the top of my priority list and by the end of November I had an offer on the table. Mid-December I started my new job (still attorney work, just a much different office atmosphere) and it’s been fabulous so far.

The new job came with the caveat that I would have to take the Washington state Bar exam. Portland being so close to Washington, my new office does a lot of work in both states so I need to be dual licensed. If you’re thinking now that my miraculous return to blogging may have something to do with procrastinating studying for a test that is one month away… Shut up.

Look. Knitting.


That is the extremely popular Selbu Modern hat by Kate Gagnon Osborne. It is available for free on Ravelry. I had wanted to make it for a very long time. When I started teaching a series of hat classes at my LYS focusing on different techniques, I chose this hat as the colorwork-focused class project.
The yarn I used was Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in Antique Lace and Clematis. Antique Lace has got to be one of my favorite Madelinetosh colors. It’s sort of a boring neutral, but something about it is so enticing to me. Of course, I love pretty much everything Madelinetosh so maybe it’s not very surprising that this was so enjoyable for me. Even being knit on tiny needles (US 0 and US 2) this was a very fast knit for me.
Sadly, that hat was knit last January, and I’m just now getting around to showing it to you. It’s kept me nice and warm for two winters now and it’s the hat I grab above my others if I can find it… I am not high-functioning in the morning, so it’s good I have so many hats–there’s usually one that’s within grabbing range as I’m leaving the house. On the other hand, it’s probably good I have a few projects back-logged, since it will give me things to show you on a semi-regular basis as I get back into my knitting groove. Feels good to be back.

Iced Hat

I couldn’t quite muster the oomph to blog yesterday. I was doing too much actual knitting. I have four sweaters at various stages in progress right now and I’m trying to bust out the bulky one. It grew by 5 inches yesterday.  Bulky yarn is my friend.

But that’s not what I’m here to tell you about. Five inches of stockinette is not that interesting. Cables are interesting and boy do I have some cables for you.

Untitled
That, my friends, is Iced Hat by Irina Dmitrieva. I bought her whole Cabled Hats 3 collection the minute I saw it. They are all lovely cable-y  masterpieces. So many cables, some rounds have as many as 36 cables per round.
Untitled
I’m teaching a whole series of classes at For Yarn’s Sake about hats that feature different techniques. This was the project for Hats: Cables. There will also be Hats: Color, Hats: Short Rows, and Hats: Lace. (Can you tell I like hats?)
Untitled
I made mine out of Rowan Felted Tweed in the color “150”. Felted Tweed is 50% merino, 25% alpaca, and 25% vsicose. It’s a little crunchy when you’re knitting with it, but it softens up SO much when you wash it. It also weighs next to nothing. Each 50g ball has 198 yards! I got the whole hat out of one ball.  It’s light and airy to wear but still nice and warm because of the merino and alpaca.
Untitled
I blocked mine around an 11″ dinner plate to get a nice beret shape. Looking at the projects on Ravelry, it looks like quite a few people have left it in more of a beanie shape. It looks cute both ways. I’ve had it done for about 3 weeks and I’ve worn it about 15 times.
I am still dutifully reading Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell but I’ve thrown in an audiobook of Black Sun Rising by C. S. Friedman to give myself something a little more exciting. It’s the perfect sort of blend between Science Fiction and Fantasy, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Scared?

Every year I try to knit something ridiculous for my brother. There has been the enigmatic Jayne Cobb Hat, the bearded hat with interchangeable moustaches, a demon balaclava, a cthulu balaclava, an Elmer Fudd style deerstalker, and good old Zoidberg.

Thankfully, Ravelry keeps me supplied with endless inspiration for weird stuff to knit. This year, when I saw the SkullKerchief pattern by Knitty or Nice, I knew it had to be for Adam.

Untitled
I do harbor a slight fear that he will one day take all these masks and pull some sort of super heist and I’ll be taken down as his accomplice because no one will believe that you would knit these just for fun…
The knitting on this only took the better part of one day. It’s a 40 row chart and you are decreasing to make the kerchief shape as you go, so it’s VERY fast. I do remember finding a few typos in the pattern, but can’t remember what they were. (The result of waiting to bolg… sorry!) I do know that the context around them made it really easy to see that there was a typo and the “solution” was obvious. It’s hard to hold it against a pattern that is free.
Untitled
The yarn is Patons Classic Wool Merino in Black and Aran. I do not splurge on nice wool for Adam since the chance of him taking good care of this are about 0 to 0.001.  Usually he doesn’t even get wool, it’s acrylic all the way, but I had this in my stash already with no designated project so that is what he got.
Untitled
I apologize for the picture quality. In Portland this time of year there’s really no such thing as “natural light.” Expect the photo quality around here to remain low until… oh I’d say April.