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!

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!

Edie spring t-shit sweater

Hi! Happy New Year!

I know we’re a few days in already but I’ve been slow to start this year. Something about the first just didn’t feel like New Years. After a quite few days that “new beginnings” feeling is starting to sink in and I feel like trying to clean house (metaphorically!)

I spent a day doing my traditional new years stash toss. Going through what I have to make sure nothing crawly has gotten to it in the last year, but also to remember and re-feel everything.

I also updated my Ravelry account with some things I’ve been lax in getting posted. 2015 wasn’t the most productive knitting or blogging year for me, but I did finish a few things I have yet to show you.

Edie

That is the Edie sweater by Michele Wang. Yarn recommended was the 100% wool Brooklyn Tweed LOFT. I’m sure that would make a great layering piece for fall and winter, but I wanted a summer tee. I substituted Rowan Panama for the LOFT.  Panama is 12% linen, 33% cotton, and 55% viscose. Perfect for spring!

I started knitting this because I was asked to teach the pattern as a class. As it turned out, not enough people signed up for the class so it didn’t end up happening. After that I put the project away for a long time. I found it this spring and thought it would be a good wardrobe addition so I set to work. Mostly I knit for the process and don’t generally care when things get finished. (If you’ve read any of this blog and can feel you rolling your eyes and signing “I know!”) This time though, I wanted the sweater.

The yarn is so comfy to wear. It feels nice and cool and soft. It’s not so comfy to knit with. Cotton and linen doing have the spriong that wool does and the lack of give is just murder on my hands. Especially on those cable rows.

Edie

The end result was totally worth it though. The viscose in the yarn is a bit shiny. The cotton and linen are not shiny at all so the knit fabric has a subtle depth of color.

I pretty much followed the pattern. My gauge with the Panema was a bit bigger than the pattern gauge. It worked out pretty easily that I could just follow directions for the size smaller and end up with the right size for me. The only “alteration” i made was to make the waist 3 inches longer. since I’m not wearing this as a layering piece I didn’t want it cropped.

Edie

I did cast on a New Year’s day project (I wasn’t that off my game.) It’s Fractal Danger by Martina Behm. I have the first 10 rows done!

Elektra off the needles and blocked

Somehow I managed to go five months without a post even though I actually have been knitting and have a few things to show off. I could resolve to do better, but you know how effective that’s been in the past… This July I finally cast off the Elektra I’ve been working on since October of 2012.

Elekra

This Romi Hill pattern is from her 7 Small Shawls Year One collection. I started it, like so many other projects, because it was part of a knit-a-long that I joined. The knit-a-long only lasted one month and when it was ended I didn’t really continue to give the project any attention. My finishing kick this year made me pull it out and finally get it off the needles.

Elektra

The pattern is beaded down each of the “spines” and around the lace motifs. I used cheap size 6 seed beads from Michaels. The match the yarn color I used very well so they blend in and just add a bit of sparkle. The yarn is Dream in Color Baby which is unfortunately discontinued. The yarn is 100% merino lace weight and has an interesting “crunch” in the texture. It’s still quite soft but also somehow a little rustic. The colorway is called Aqua Jet and has an overdyed kettle quality to it.

Elektra

I used the crochet method to attach my beads, and while it definitely makes the project go slower than normal but it was much more manageable than stringing hundreds of beads in advance. Like all of Romi’s patterns this one was very well written and easy to follow and I had no troubles with it at all. Now I just have to wait for fall scarf weather to reach us. We’re having a long summer here in Portland and even though it’s October its still reaching the 80s here on the regular. Soon enough.

Market Jacket just in time for spring

The yarn store I used to work at hosts a monthly knit-a-long. Back in 2013, the January KAL was the Market Jacket by Tanis Gray from the book November Knits. The book has several sweaters that I plan to make eventually, including this one and this one.

I started the KAL as a way of hanging out with the knitters, but once the month ended I didn’t do much work on the sweater because I had other things going and it wasn’t a “priority” project. You’re thinking… Do you have an excuse for why every project takes you two years to finish?… The answer is yes, yes I do.

Market Jacket

 

Unfortunately crappy indoor light is all I have for you. This is a top-down raglan style sweater. There are cable panels down each front, each sleeve, and one down the back. Otherwise the sweater is stockinette with garter stitch borders. It’s a nice combination of mostly-mindless with some fun when you get to the cable panels.

Market Jacket

 

 

That sort of shows the detail of the cable panels. It’s hard to take a picture of a sweater you are wearing. Inside the cable panel is a bit of lace, just to make it that much more interesting.

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That’s not intended to be a picture of my breast… just another good shot of the cable/lace. The color of the yarn is just dark enough to make taking photos a pain. In real life the detail is actually quite easy to see. The yarn is Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Worsted in colorway Waistcoat.

Market Jacket

 

The only modification I made to the patter was to make the body of the sweater longer by 3 inches and to make the sleeves full length. To make the sleeves longer I continued the decrease row as established until the sleeves were wrist-length then I added the cuff. Because the torso was longer I had to add a few more button holes, keeping the same pattern as established to add the buttonholes required by the project.

Market Jacket

 

If I made this again, the only other thing I would change would be not to use YOs to make the raglan increases. I think they are pretty, but they make for not very stable shoulders. By the end of the day my sleeves have grown about 3 more inches in length and I have to shove them up behind my elbows. I think using a stronger increase, like a M1, would help combat the droop. There’s just too much stretch with a YO.

Market Jacket

 

This, plus the Wildflower Cardigan I finished in February make two new sweaters for the year so far. Of course, now it’s too warm for a wool sweater, so they’ll both have to get put away, nearly unworn, until next season. My train knitting right now is a lovely cotton, rayon, linen summer tee. Given my trend, I’ll probably get it finished just as summer is ending…

Wildflower Cardigan off the needs and blocked!

I really think my blogging frequency would improve substantially if I had a personal photographer. Sweater pictures are just impossible on your own. You either get crappy mirror selfies like so:

IMG_1400

 

Or, if you go outside to try to get some good light, you get the weird-angle mostly-boob shots like so:

WildflowerWildflowerWildflower

Color accurate, but not exactly great for showing off the new sweater. Putting the sweater on a hanger makes it look like a shapeless bag. I need to either get a dress form or blackmail a photographer to do my bidding…

wildflower

 

My current solution is to pack my sweaters around until I visit a friend I can beg to take some pictures. Meet the completed Wildflower Cardigan by Alana Dakos. The pattern is available individually through Ravelry, but it’s also part of the book Costal Knits which is full of gorgeous patterns. This is the first sweater from the book I have knit, but I could see myself wearing all of them!

Wildflower

I think the pockets are so darling! They’re not going to be much use for actually storing anything, but I love the little flower. The detail along the hem is pretty sweet also. It does curl the tiniest bit though, so if you are the type of person who is bothered by things like that, think twice. Watching it curl while I was knitting, I was worried it would be really bad, but it’s just the slight curl you see in the corner of that photo.

Wildflower

The yarn I used is Cascade 220 Superwash Sport and the color is Wisteria. I bought 12 skeins, but only ended up using a tiny tiny bit of the 9th. Like, all I needed from the 9th skein was a few yards to finish the side seams. I was pretty loose with my ends because I knew I had extra, so if I had been more conservative, I’m sure I could have squeaked it out with just 8 skeins.

Wildflower

The gauge listed for this pattern is very tight for a sport weight yarn (28 stitches to 4 inches.) To get that gauge, my fabric would have been bullet proof. I liked the fabric I got with size 5 needles, so I basically followed the instructions for the 36″ bust knowing that because my gauge was bigger I would end up with about a 40″ bust. It came out pretty much perfect.

When I showed the sweater to Bob he said: “You would think that it would look frumpy, but it doesn’t.” I think that’s a good note to end the post on.

Rock Island Glamour Shots

Two weeks ago I showed you pre- and mid-blocking shots of my Rock Island shawl but it hadn’t dried so I didn’t get to show you any “glamour shots.” Now its off the blocking mats and looking gorgeous.

Rock Island

 

This Jared Flood pattern was first released in April 2011 and I first cast it on in May 2011. Yes, that’s right, it was on the needles for 3 years and 8 months… It’s not that slow it knit, I promise. You knit the lace edge first as a long strip then pick up stitches along a long edge and knit the body of the shawl up to the center back incorporating decreases up the center “spine” and at the edges to form the triangle.

Rock Island

It’s 72 repeats of the edging before you get to pick up the body of the shawl. I knit about 20 and then the shawl sat for quite a while. I finally picked it up and decided to finish November of 2014. It didn’t get continuous attention because it’s intricate lace (patterned on both right and wrong sides) and needed lots of focused attention until getting to the garter stitch body.

Obligatory shawl-on-bush shot

Once I got through the lace and into the garter stitch, this turned into my commuting project and took about 3 weeks of train rides to wrap up. On Ravelry I’ve titled my project “El Diablo” which is what some of the other knitters started lovingly half-lovingly referring to this pattern as. With the lace patterning being executed on both sides a dropped stitch is basically a sanity killer. I used lifelines for every 10 repeats on the edging and had to use them more than once. I used them every 4 rows on the body lace because the rows were so long. Luckily I never had to use one of those.

Rock Island

This is definitely in the running for most difficult pattern I’ve ever completed. This aran sweater might be the only other thing that comes close. I’ve mentioned a few times that I’m trying to whittle down my old languishing projects. Putting this one to bed leaves 7 more projects that were cast on pre-2014. Hopefully I can keep up the momentum. Don’t ask about the crochet blanket.

The lace debate

I tend to think of myself as a process knitter. I generally pick projects that I want to make, not necessarily projects that I want to have in the end. The one weird exception to this is lace. I covet finish lace objects. Love the intricate feather-light airiness. I just don’t love knitting it. I know exactly why. Lace looks like this before you block it.

Rock Island

 

That border is very intricate lace. There are no “rest” rows there are yarn overs and decreases on every row. Drop a stitch in that, and you’re screwed. And yet, it looks incredibly unimpressive. There’s just nothing fun about unblocked lace.

Rock Island

 

I love to stop mid-kint and take a look at what I’ve produced every so often, and with lace, it just never looks like you’re producing something worth all the effort you’ve put in. It’s not until you are completely finished and get a chance to aggressively block your project that you finally see the fruit of your work.

Rock Island

 

I don’t like waiting that long to finally see what I’m getting. I mean, blocking improves everything, but lace doesn’t look like anything before it’s blocked. I need more encouragement than that. And yet, I still find myself casting on lace projects. It generally leads to extremely enthusiastic beginnings when I’m all excited by gorgeous pattern pictures and a freshly wound ball of buttery lace yarn. I also get pretty enthusiastic about the end because I can taste the lovely lace I’m about to see bloom into life with a good block. The middle, frankly, is a slog. Every time I think about a new lace project I go through the same internal debate–do I want to start a project I know will feel like a toil through the long middle? Is the FO worth it, when the process is really what I love about knitting. The answer is generally yes. Life is a mystery. But seriously, look at the blocking photo!

Rock Island

 

How’s the progress on the crochet blanket you ask? Shut up.