Freja

I had been eyeing the Freja mittens by Emmy Petersson ever since they were released in the Winter 2011 Knitty. When I decided to teach a stranded knitting class at For Yarn’s Sake, I chose it as one of the patterns my students could pick from. Naturally, I had to make up a sample.

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Notice how I’m strategically hiding my other hand? That’s because I only made the one mitten. It’s going to live at the shop and the sad truth is that if we make pairs of things they tend to get stolen. (Let me know if you want to hear my some-people-are-jerks rant.) Single mittens, socks, slippers, etc. have a much longer shelf life.
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The yarn is Spud & Chloe Fine 80% wool 20% silk in colorways anemone and lipstick. If you’re thinking you’ve maybe heard me mention the yarn before it’s because you have. I love it. It’s soft, got great sheen, comes in some amazing solid colors, and is hands down the sturdiest fingering weight yarn I’ve come across yet.
This single mitten whipped up in about 6 days of off and on work. If I had been dedicated I could have easily finished the pair in one week.
I’m trying to put some love into a lace project that has been languishing on my needles for far too long. Hopefully I will be able to show it to you soon.  In the meantime I have several more one-offs for the shop I can show you to make it look like I’m being productive.

Douglas Mittens

When it comes to knitting I have a serious “Ooooo Shiny” problem. By which I mean I a easily distracted from my current projects by the newest coolest thing leading me to drop everything currently in progress to start something new.

Such was the fate of my Douglass Mittens by emilyelizabeth. I cast them on in March when I had a strong urge for some color work. Then something (I’m not sure what) distracted me for about 5 months. When I finally got back to them, they only took about 2 weeks to finish. I have no idea why I abandon things that are so close to completion. (See the above mentioned “oooo shiny” problem.) Have a look.

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I love them! I knit them in an aran weight yarn on size 5 needles as called for in the pattern and they came out too big for me. (This is not surprising because I have VERY small hands.) They fit my mother perfectly and she has already claimed them as her birthday present this December.
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The pattern is well written and easy to follow. It even comes with directions for how to knit a lining for your mittens. I think in theory linings are a great idea because they protect your colorwork strands from getting pulled and allow you to knit the colorwork in a “hearty” yarn like a traditional shetland but still have super soft comfy mittens by picking a soft yarn for the lining. That being said, I didn’t do the lining. It’s just not cold enough in Oregon to need mittens that warm.
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I used Madeline Tosh Vintage 100% Superwash Merino in colorways Antique Lace and Cloak. Even though the yarn is merino, it’s spun very tightly, so it shouldn’t have the problems with fuzzing and pilling that many merino yarns have. I have yet to meet a Madeline Tosh yarn that I didn’t love, and this is no exception.
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I find colorwork to be very addicting, and easily get into the “just one more row” mindset. In fact, I think I will cast on another pair of mittens this week. More on that later.

Douglas Mittens

For the last few weeks at knit night I’ve been working on a pair of Douglas Mittens by emilyelizabeth.  They are fun and since they are done in worsted weight they are super fast.  I’m already this far after just a few hours of work.

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They’re sized pretty big, so if you have small hands I’d suggest going down to a DK weight and a smaller needle.  These are for my dad… or maybe my uncle… some man I know with big hands anyway… they’ll sit in the Christmas box until December 20th when I finally will decide who gets them.  That’s how I roll.
I’m loving the big fat worsted weight colorwork stitches.  Tami’s blog has more great WIPs.

Most of a mitt

My Winter Twilight Mitts have been trucking along nicely.  All that is missing from the first one is the ribbing at the top of the thumb.

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My Christmas gift to myself this year was an iPad.  One of the best apps I’ve found so far is GoodReader.  It is a PFD reader and editor and it is great for knitting patterns.  I can “mark up” a PDF of a pattern, highlight the size I’m making, or follow along in my chart.  I can draw a line on the chart and move it as needed when I complete a row.  It’s been so helpful for keeping my place as I pick up and put down this project.
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Since I can’t really watch TV while I work on these, I’ve been taking them to knit-chat or working on them while listening to an audio book.  I just finished listening to the Hunger Games and loved it.  It’s very similar to Battle Royale (which I also loved) plot-wise–bunch of kids forced to fight to the death by a ruthless government.  If you don’t like violence/are squeamish I’d advise against picking this one up.  Otherwise it’s totally enthralling from about 20 minutes (couldn’t tell you in pages) onward.  I really want to start the next one, but it’s only available in hardcover (don’t like buying hardcover books) and I don’t get my next audible credit until the 22nd.  Resisting the urge to just buy it anyway.  I got the book per a recommendation on the Yarn Harlot’s blog then 2 days later learned they are making it into a movie.  I can’t wait to see how true they stay to the book.  They did a great job with Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, so I have a bit of faith in Hollywood right now.

Jumping around

I feel a mad case of startitis brewing.  The burning desire to cast on every wonderful pattern in sight until I completely run out of knitting needles.  (Hint: I have a ton of knitting needles.)  I think I start to feel this way when all of my projects feel like they are “long term” projects (meaning more than one week to complete.)  When I start to feel like there is no end in sight, my logical (totally and completely logical, don’t laugh) reaction is to cast on another project that will be so fun and enjoyable that I will speed to the end and feel the sweet sweet gratification of having a finished object.

So far, I’ve been resisting the urge and haven’t cast on anything new since the new year.  To satisfy my lack of ability to focus on any one project, I’ve been jumping around putting a little bit of attention into one or two of my WIPs each day.  On the one hand, this satisfies my desire to constantly be working on something different, on the other hand, it also ensures that I continue to feel like “nothing will ever get done” which tends to bring on startitis in the first place.
Today, the project du jure was a fingreless mitt I’ve been working on, which will (hopefully) be part of a pair someday.
So far these have done a pretty good job of keeping me interested–they have that colorwork “just one more row” magic–but I suspect that as soon as it comes time to make the second one, working the pattern a second time will seem less charming.  I will resist casting one 15 new things.  I will!

Does this mean it’s Spring?

Several weeks ago, yarndude posted that he had finished a pair of mittens and that the finishing seemed to bring spring to Pennsylvania.  This makes sense since by the time you actually finish knitting something, it’s no longer the season you need it in.  There’s no combating this unless you want to do your summer knitting in the winter and be working with wool in the summer.  Since it seemed to work for him, I decided it would be worth a try.

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These are the NHM #14 mittens from the book Selbuvotter by Terri Shea.  I started these about a year ago then lost steam.  Recently I dug them out again to start taking them to the knit chat at my LYS.  After 10 months of not working on them, it only took about 5 knit chats to finish the first and knit the second.

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My gauge was a bit looser on the second one.  I think I relaxed a bit as I got used to holding one color in each hand.  This made one mitten about 1/4 inch longer than the other, but it doesn’t show when they’re worn.

The yarn is the wonderfully rustic Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift.  It’s woolen spun which makes it lofty, gives it a nubbly texture, makes it a little thick-n-thin, and makes it wonderfully warm.  The colors are yellow ochre and grouse.  I love these colors together so much.  They scream fall to me.  This is good because fall is the perfect season for fingering weight mittens.

These run quite small.  I have small hands and usually have to buy gloves made for kids and these fit me pretty well.  If you were thinking of making these and you have larger hands, I would seriously consider using sport or dk weight yarn and bigger needles.

On a side note, the semester is over!!!!  Now I have two glorious weeks to do whatever I want (you know like laundry, clean my apartment, take the cats to the vet, get my eyes checked…things there was no time to do during the semester.)  Ryan and I are going camping on Thursday and to a play at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.  Then it’s off to work for the rest of the summer.

The estimation game

OK friends I have come up with a crazy game to play with myself to hopefully help me get some of those WIPs off the needs. Here is my plan: I am going to estimate how many days of knitting it will take to finish each of my WIPs. I will try to pick something that is a bit challenging but (hopefully) reasonable. For each WIP that I finish within the allotted amount of time I can spend $15 on yarn. That is a potential of $165 I would allow myself to splurge!

The rules:

1) I must knit some each day. If I don’t knit one day one of my projects will still have to take a strike.

2) Each day will be allocated to one project. If I knit on more than one project I will have to choose which one takes the day.

3) Any new cast-ons (with the one exception I will explain later) will not count. If I waste days playing with new projects I may have to give up getting some new yarn.

4) Finished means completely finished. As in off the needles, blocked, seamed, buttons applied, etc. Ready to be worn/used.

5) No money can be spent on yarn, needles, notions, ect. until this challenge is over, i.e. all the days have been used up.

My predictions:

1) First spinning attempt. I bought a drop spindle and some Targhee wool at sock summit last August and started spinning away. I actually got to the point where my spinning was pretty even but then I got distracted with school and didn’t pick it up for 11 months. Now I am at it again and am getting somewhat even results… For a first attempt I’m pretty happy. Anyway, about 1 oz. of the 3.8 oz braid was used in my thrummed mittens. The rest is on it’s way to becoming yarn. According to my Knit Picks yarn scale (so wonderful to have!) I have 0.78 oz left. I’m going to be a little generous with this one and give myself 5 days to finish since I’m so new to spinning. I think two days for spinning, two days for plying, and one day for washing, drying and skeining.

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2) Op Art. I have four stripes left on this blanket. That sounds pretty manageable, until I think about how each stripe contains both more rows that the stripe before and more stitches per row. I’m going to push myself and give myself 20 days here. right now it’s taking me about 35 minutes to do one row. I’m guessing I have 60 hours left on this puppy so I’m going to have to give it 3 hours each of it’s days. This is going to be my biggest challenge.

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3) Hope for Change socks. My oldest WIP to date. I love the way this pattern looks, it’s just not my favorite to knit. One sock is complete the other sock is about 2/3 up my instep (knit from toe up). I’m only giving myself 3 days to finish these babies. One day to get past the heel, two days for the leg and cuff.

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4) Mojo socks. These are so close to being done I can taste it. I have 45 rows left. These get one day.

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5) Yeah for Fall (Green Gable sweater). This went so quickly when I was working on it. I knit the whole body in about a week. I’m going to give it one more week. 3 days to finish the sleeves, 3 days to finish the yoke and hood, and 1 day for blocking.

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5) Birthday socks (Air Raid socks). The first sock is finished. The second sock has one repeat of 6 done on the leg (knit from the top down). The first sock went very fast. There is no real reason these have taken so long other than they are my “purse” project and I haven’t had to wait very often (knock on wood). I will give these 5 days.

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6) Selbu Mittens. One mitten is half done. These take complete attention because I have to follow the colorwork chart carefully. With school starting on the 30th complete attention is going to be hard to give. I’m going to be a bit lax with these and give them 14 days since full devotion will be hard to muster.

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7) Baby Surprise Jacket. This will go quickly once I turn my attention to it, I have just been focusing on other things recently. I am giving this 3 days.

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8) Victorian Scarf. Lace, like colorwork takes a lot of attention. Also, this project is pretty huge. I have 3 repeats of 42 done, plus the center panel, which is skinny but looooooong. I am going to give this project 18 days. That is 3 repeats a day for 14 days then 3 days for the center panel and 1 for blocking.

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9) Pomatomous Socks. These are fun to knit but all of the twisted stitches are slow going for me. I am 1/3 through the leg (knit top down) on the first sock. I’m going to say 10 days for these socks.

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10) Test Knit – Bashful. I can’t show you a picture of this one, but I’m test knitting a hat for Marly Bird aka Yarnthing on Ravelry. The hat is slouchy and DK weight but I can’t tell you anything about it until the pattern is released. So far all I have knit is the ribbing. I’m giving it 2 days since it’s a hat and hats are smallish quickish projects.

11) Test Knit – Whirligig bolero. This is a test knit for Stephanie Japel to help her up-size a pattern that was originally only in baby/toddler sizes. She is going to re-release it with bigger child and adult sizes. I’m testing one of the child sizes. It will either go to one of my cousins’ kids or to charity, but when the pattern is release I will have the adult sizes muahahaha. I haven’t actually gotten the pattern yet or my assigned size (supposed to come out today) but it has to be done within 3 weeks so I’m going to give myself 21 days.

That is 108 days to finish all my projects. That means on November 25 I will be done with this little adventure. That gives me one month to do any Christmas knitting I need… More than enough right…

WIPs march of shame (part six, second to last post of shame!)

Alright, we’re moving [moderately] swiftly through my embarrassingly long list of WIPs and we come now to the penultimate project of shame.

These mittens were started at the end of April right as finals-studying was getting interesting (the complexity of the project shows the depth of my denial.)

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This pattern is NHM #14 by Terri Shea from the book Selbuvotter: Biography of a Knitting Tradition. I love the colorwork mittens in this book and how they’re all tied to history. The yarn I’m using is Jamieson’s Shetland Spindrift in Yellow Ochre and Grouse. This yarn is splendidly rustic and though it is not at all soft, I love the texture of it so much I don’t think I will be bothered having it’s “scratch” on my hands.

I’m slightly worried that these will come out very small. Even though my gauge is correct, they look tiny even for my small hands. The last colorwork mittens I made grew a ton after being washed, so I’m just assuming it’s a weird consequence of colorwork in general.