Backpack project

I like to keep a very simple project in my backpack all the time.  That way if I have a weird half hour block of time that’s not really good for working, I can pull it out and get some knitting done.  (Or if I’m really stressed, I can blow off steam knitting in lieu of studying, which strangely enough does reduce the stress.)  These backpack projects take a long time to complete because they only get a little work done on them at a time, they usually only get worked on on school days, and I don’t have spare time every school day.  My last backpack project was Ryan’s blue beanie and it took about a month and a half to finish.  Here is my new backpack project:


Please ignore the chipped toenail polish, it has not been sandal weather and so I have not been vigilant.  It’s a plain sock in a Yarnia house blend called Boylston.  This is an extremely popular house blend.  It’s one strand of navy bamboo (50%), one strand of navy merino and one strand of bright blue merino (27%), and one strand of gray alpaca (23%).  As you can see it makes a great dark heathered blue and is a color that could totally be used to make man things.  (I usually tag plain socks with the Yarn Harlot’s Sock Recipe pattern, even though I don’t really “follow” it, I just make a sock.  Cast on a number of stitches that seems reasonable, knit some ribbing, knit until I think the leg is long enough, flap heel, gusset, knit until 2″ before toes, shape toes.  Since this is basically what the Yarn Harlot pattern is, I tag it for convenience.)

I have several requirements for backpack projects.
1) It must be small enough to fit in the front pouch of my backpack.
2) It must not require me to look at a pattern, read a chart, or count rows/stitches.
3) It must be a pattern I can knit without looking; this includes garter stitch, stockinette stitch, ribbing,   and things like seed/moss stitch which are basically just ribbing so long as you know where to start.
4) There can’t be any shaping, and I should not have to pay attention to what row I’m on.

Given these criteria some projects can go from being backpack projects to not at various stages.  A project may start out small enough to be a backpack project then grow too big.  Ryan’s blanket was once a backpack project, now it takes up my whole living room floor.  A project may have a pattern or shaping only a certain times.  This project was in my backpack for the whole leg, but had to come out until the heel and gusset were finished because that involved counting rows and paying attention to decrease placement.  Now they’ll stay in the backpack until it’s time to shape the toe.  Do you have a take-everywhere project?

Quickie (HA!) scarf

This scarf is supposed to be really quick to crochet.  I think for a normal crocheter it would be pretty quick… I’m on the slow side.  I also think that for a slowish crocheter who practices some degree of project monogamy it would be quick.  Monogamy (toward fiber projects) is impossible not my strong suit.  So here is my quickie scarf, completed in just under three months.


The patter, which is super easy, is here on the Yarnia blog.  I used on cone of a Yarnia house blend called Union.  It is comprised of one strand of honey brown plushy rayon chenille, one strand of shimmery gold rayon, and two strands of honey brown wool.  I just worked until I didn’t have enough yarn to do another full repeat.  (I know it’s the kind of pattern that you can stop in the middle of a repeat, but that just feels weird.)


This give a pretty accurate picture of the depth of color the three different materials/colorways give the finished project.  This scarf is super plushy due to the combination of the chenille and the natural plumpness of crochet.  Sadly, while just a few weeks ago we had freezing temps, the weather has warmed here (of course it got warm, I just finished a scarf) and I don’t know if I will get to wear this before next winter…  I’m always finishing projects such that I get to wear them the season after I finish them, never right away.  Sigh.


This project was very nearly frogged back into a pile of kinky and forlorn yarn. Not because it’s not pretty. Look at it!


This is Damson by Ysolda Teague. Her patterns are so adorable. I’ve also made her Ishbel shawl (who hasn’t.) The yarn is String Theory Caper Sock in colorway Didgeridoo. This yarn is a luscious 80% merino, 10% cashmere, 10% nylon blend. And the colors, as you can see, are amazingly deep and complex.


Why then, you ask, would I come so close to frogging this? Because I ran out of yarn on the second to last row. You see, the patterns calls for one skein of Malabrigo sock yarn. I took this to mean that any 100g of fingering weight sock yarn should be sufficient. WRONG. Malabrigo Sock has 440 yards per skein. Caper Sock has 400 yards per skein. Those 40 yards matter. Don’t be arrogant! If you are making this pattern, make sure you have all yardage required.


How is it that I managed to finish, you ask. Did I lay down $25 for another skein? No. That would, in effect, make this a $50 scarf, and I’m not OK with that. I went on ravelry and looked at all the projects that had been made with this yarn. Then I narrowed the search to just this colorway. Then I contacted people who had recently completely projects with this colorway and begged for their yarn scraps. CraftyPancakes totally came through for me. She made these super cute socks and had some leftovers, which she kindly sent me. It was just enough to get me to the end. I love her this week.


Here it is all pinned out. I mostly wear it like in the second picture–wide part in front, tails pulled around the back and hanging down the front. It’s so soft and squooshy that I love having it up against my neck/face. It even smells good (that may be the SOAK.)


I just think this picture’s pretty.

Test Knit Mitts

In February I was given the great privilege of being able to test-knit Anna Sudo’s new pattern Spiral Staircase Mitts. The pattern is exceptionally well written. Even though the pattern is intuitive after the first few rounds, Anna has each round carefully written out so that if you think you might be lost (or if you are constantly picking up and setting down projects like I am) you can easily find exactly where you are. Here are the palms of the mitts.


As you can see, these are long mitts, that go about halfway up the forearm. The 1×1 twisted ribbing is slowly replaced with stockinette in a spiral created with simple YOs and decreases. (As usual, the Portland spring has supplied no sunshine for picture taking so you get nasty inside fluorescent light photos.) The spiral continues around to the back of the hand and stops under your pinkie finger.


One of the things I really like about these mitts is how far up your fingers they go (especially for me since I have small fingers.) It provides maximum warmth while still allowing your fingers to be free. I did find that it was hard to type while wearing them because they don’t allow your fingers to spread out far enough, but my solution to this was to simply fold the top down while typing.


One of the things I don’t really like about these mitts is that the YOs on the left mitt make very large holes, whereas the YOs on the right mitt make very small almost invisible holes. I think this is because on one mitt they are placed before the decrease and on one mitt they are placed after the decrease. I don’t really like holes in my mitts (seems impractical to me) so If I made these again, I would probably correct this by doing all the increases with a backward-loop M1 which would produce no holes at all.

My mitts are made from Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in colorway Bittersweet Heather which looks black in some lights and brown in others. It’s leftover from the Into the Woods kit. I decided that I’m not making the mitts that came with the kit, so the extra yarn will be cannibalized as attractive projects present themselves. I used 1.5 skeins for these mitts.

New Beanie

Not too long ago I ordered a skein of hand-painted sock yarn that I thought looked pretty awesome online. When I got it, it was much less impressive in person than it had looked online. Ravelry to the rescue, I just went to the Knit Picks board (it was one of the Knit Picks handpainted colorways) and offered up my skein for a comparable amount of sock yarn in a different color. I was offered one of the discontinued kettle-dyed colors and made the swap.

Ryan was around when the new skein arrived and fell instantly in love with the color. Basically as soon as it was out of the envelope he was asking me if I could make a beanie for him using it. This is the result.


Ryan is blog-shy so only his forehead is appearing today. The pattern is Ski Beanie by Terra Jamieson and it’s in the Son of Stitch ‘n Bitch book. The yarn is Knit Picks Essential Kettle-Dyed (discontinued) in color Jay.

Ryan flips the bottom of the hat up to have a folded brim. I would wear this type of hat like this to get maximum ear coverage:

Photo on 2011-02-21 at 00.59 #2

Please excuse the crappy webcam photo, the angle makes my head look huge, and the lighting is terrible, but the point is, the hat also works as a no-brim beanie as well.

I altered the patter quite a bit since it’s written to be knit flat and in DK weight and I wanted it to be knit in the round in fingering weight. I cast on enough stitches for 5 extra pattern repeats (as the hat is decreased in 5 sections) and dropped my needle down to a size 1 for the 1×1 ribbing and 1.5 for the body of the hat. (Side note: it takes FOREVER to knit a hat out of fingering weight yarn on size 1 needles. At least it feels like forever when you’re used to the speed of a worsted weight beanie that can be worked up in an evening.)

Since this is a super simple two-row pattern is was easy to change the rows that originally would have been wrong-side rows into right-side rows for knitting in the round. I followed the decrease directions as written except that I had one extra pattern repeat between each marker so I had to do more decrease rounds.


This in-progress picture really shows off the kettle-dyed nature of the yarn. I was worried at first because it looked like I hadn’t made it wide enough, but I blocked it over a balloon (the BEST way to block hats!) and it loosened up nicely and fits wonderfully now. Ryan has confessed that on the 1-10 scale of warmness it’s only about a 3 (um yeah, it’s fingering weight) but on the 1-10 scale of looking-good it’s an 8. I know most of the credit goes to the awesome color of the yarn, but as the knitter I’m claiming that 8 for myself.

Hardly worth mentioning

Today I am sick. Apparently a super nasty flu has been floating around Portland. Right now, I just feel like I have a head cold, but I have been feeling increasingly worse as the day goes on… let’s hope that now that I am in bed with some good tea that this is as bad as it gets and it doesn’t escalate into the death-bug that so many others have had this winter.

That is why this will be a quick post to show you a little project that doesn’t need much explanation (or deserve much praise).


It’s a crocheted pot holder. It’s made from di. Ve Fiamma which is a super bulky think-thin wool. I didn’t use a pattern, just the instructions for crocheting in the round from the Stitch n’ Bitch Happy Hooker book. It’s felted a bit. I put it through one wash cycle which shrunk it about 15%, though most of the stitch definition is still there. Now it is slightly firmer making it more suitable for it’s purpose. Here it is before felting/shrinking… Can you see the difference?


My brother has been using an old t-shirt as a pot holder/oven mitt for a while, so I gave this to him when he moved to his new apartment as a housewarming gift. He said the blue made it a sufficiently masculine pot holder to warrant a place in his kitchen, though he expressed his desire that if I make another it incorporate dinosaurs in some way. If I didn’t have so many other projects on the needles right now, I might step up to the challenge.

Warm hands, warm heart

My grandma always says “warm hands, warm heart” which I think means that having warm hands is proof that you are a “warm-hearted” person. This does not bode well for me because my fingers are always cold. Recently I’ve been craving a pair of fingerless gloves to keep my hands warm and still allow me to use my computer (my school says they’re being “green” by keeping the classrooms freezing cold, but I suspect is has more to do with being cheap…) I was in my LYS, and they had a sample of this simple pattern, and it stole my heart.


This pattern is Brushed Suri Mitts by Merri Fromm. I used the exact yarn called for Blue Sky Alpacas Brushed Suri. The yarn is 67% baby Suri alpaca, 22% merino, and 11% bamboo. It’s a halo yarn like Kid Silk Haze from Rowan or Suri Dream from Knit Picks. There is a “core” to the yarn that fuzzy alpaca fluffs out from. The pattern only takes about 75% of a skein.


It’s not super clear from my bad photos (we had a week of gloom w/ no natural light at all when I took them, now that the sun has returned I should go outside and take some more) but one mitt is actually about an inch shorter than the other. That is because after you knit the thumb gusset you are supposed to knit straight for 10 rounds before actually separating the thumb… I forgot to do this on the second mitt. I love this bunches, so I bought another skein and I will make one long (correct) mitt and one short (leaving out the 10 rows) then then have a pair for myself and a pair that I can give away (or a backup).


This photo is blurry, but it shows the halo coming off the gloves well. I was worried that I would find them itchy because of the high alpaca content and because of the halo, but they’re pretty much the softest most comfortable thing ever and I wear them all the time.

Adam’s Hat, part 2

Before Christmas, I showed you the hat that I was working on to give to my brother Adam, but it wasn’t very far along. I managed to finish it, even with law school finals happening all the way up until December 23rd and my family arriving and needing entertainment on the 23rd… (that is a rant in itself that you’re likely uninterested in.) The 24th I finished the last of the seaming, and voila:


One silly hat for Adam. The hat was a kit from Knit Picks called “Into the Woods” and it’s still available as of this post, but is “last chance.” The yarn used is Red and Bittersweet Heather Wool of the Andes for the main colors and Oyster Heather Wool of the Andes and Natural Suri Dream for the inner ear flap. The Suri Dream is carried along with the Wool of the Andes to make the ear flap fuzzy and soft.


Like most of the Knit Picks patterns I’ve encountered this one has, what I would consider, too many spelling, grammar, and technical errors for a pattern that is paid for. Also, for the earflap, the pattern is completely unhelpful. The ear flap has to be knit back and fourth. Rather than cutting the yarn and moving it I just used it from where it was. Sometimes this meant knitting a row with the red, then needing to do a bittersweet heather row but the yarn wasn’t on the end of the fabric to set up a purl row… in these cases I just went back to where I started (you must have a circular needle to do this) and knit a second row rather than cutting the yarn and moving it to the other side to do a purl row.


The pattern makes a huge hat (I knit to pattern gauge) that sits up really high, sort of like Elmer Fudd’s hat. I could never see wearing this hat for anything other than using it as some sort of prop, or trying to win a silly hat contest… Adam is all dressed up in these pictures because they were taken Christmas day and we’re about to go to a dinner party. He wore the hat through most of the party.


Interesting Construction

I love projects that have interesting construction. Things knit on the bias like the Delancey Cardigan; things folded origami-style to get the finished object like the Baby Surprise Jacket; Things knit sideways like the spread spectrum socks… Coming up with a cool new colorwork or cable pattern is awesome, but coming up with a whole new way to make something is particularly amazing to me. That’s why I loved knitting up the Kinetic Cowl over the past week.

Photo on 2010-12-14 at 22.30

The pattern is by Amy Polcyn and it’s in the Winter 2010 Interweave Knits.This has a very fun construction. It’s knit in one 116 inch strip and then the strip is seamed together in a big coil to make the cowl. The strip is only 8 stitches wide (and knit on the bias!), so I found that I could knit about a foot while watching a 1-hour TV show. Knitting this was great for working on at Yarnia because it was easy to pick up and put down as customers needed help.

Photo on 2010-12-14 at 22.31

The yarn is Coos Bay from Yarnia 72% Bamboo/Nylon 28% Wool. The bamboo/nylon has really long color repeats, making it a great choice for this project. My cowl ended up a lot drapier than one pictured because of the bamboo. It makes a nice fall/spring cowl, but it wouldn’t be good for the really cold temps. Also, if you make this pattern, be sure to crochet very very loosely when you do the seams, otherwise you’ll never get it over your head. I thought I was being very loose, but it was still a tight squeeze until I steamed it.

Happy Holidays!


I finally cast off a project that has been on the needles for almost 18 months last night. I started my Mojo socks (pattern by Donyale Grant) when I fist moved into my apartment in August 2009. I got past the heel (they’re knit toe-up) of the first one and it sat forever. Then I decided to buckle down and finish them in the spring. I made pretty good progress, got through the first sock and most of the way through the second. Then, for no reason, I stopped working on them.


This is how they sat for almost six months. They’re so close to done! Usually when I get so close to the end of a project I get caught up in cast-off excitement and plow through to the end but not this time. They just sat. Finally, I pulled them out yesterday and knit the last 30-ish rows that were left.


The yarn I used was Regia Silk 4-Ply, which is 55% wool, 25% nylon, and 20% silk. They’re black so as to be manly and also function as dress socks. The yarn is buttery soft to the touch, but it pills like crazy. It started pilling on the ball just from being taken in and out of my knitting bag. I probably won’t use it again. Most pilling doesn’t bother me, and I’m quite comfortable using my sweater stone, but this was truly excessive.

The bind off on the first sock seemed tight (Ryan was able to get it over his foot but he did comment on its tightness) so I bound off the second one using Jenny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off which is exceptionally stretchy, but that’s why the two cuffs look different. JSSBO has sort of a ruffly look to it… Ryan didn’t seem to notice at all so maybe it’s just something only detectable to the knitterly eye.


I made these complete opposites. One toe is knit side out, the other is purl side out. The sock with the knit toe has a purl heel and the one with the purl toe has a knit heel. This means not only can each sock be worn on either foot, they can also be worn inside out. I’m hoping this will make them last longer since the wear will be distributed differently depending on how they are worn.

Happy 5th night of Hanukkah.