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.

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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.

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(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.

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.

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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.
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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?)
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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.
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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.

Lucy

Were you bitten by the Lucy bug? When the Winter 2012 issue of Knitscene magazine came out this year everyone I know went absolutely gaga over the Lucy Hat by Carina Spencer. We had people calling the shop for months to order the two colors of Madelinetosh Vintage that the hat is pictured in. I succumbed and knit one straight away.

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Pretty darn cute eh? A few notes about the pattern. I knit the small size and it fits the circumference of my 21″ head perfectly. However, for the small size the pattern says to knit until it is 5″ deep. I found this to be too shallow. I think 5.5″ is much better since I like hats that cover my ears, not brush the top of them.
Also, the directions for the short rows are written confusingly. The patterns says “Knit to two stitches past the last wrapped stitch, wrap the next stitch.” The designer has since made it clear that when she says “Knit to two stitches past” she doesn’t intend you to knit the second stitch, you are just knitting up to it. This means you are wrapping the second stitch after your last wrapped stitch. Many people misunderstood and wrapped the third stitch. (The designer’s clarification on this point was really snarky. It totally had the tone of “If you were stupid enough to misunderstand, I’ll spell it out for you.” That pretty much ensures I’ll never pay for one of her individually downloadable patterns.)
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I knit this one out of the new and absolutely luscious Madelinetosh Pashmina Worsted. It’s 75% merino, 15% silk, and 10% cashmere. Because of the silk and cashmere it takes the dye a bit more muted than their pure merino lines. I used the colorway Hickory for the body of the hat and Betty Drapper’s Blues for the band.
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This one was knit up as a sample for For Yarn’s Sake to show off the pattern and the new yarn line. At least once a day someone takes it off the shelf and asks about the pattern or the yarn. Can you blame them? A hat this cute is pretty eye-catching.
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Molly

Hello all. Are you just now coming out of your turkey-induced food haze? I ate so much on Thanksgiving (at about 4:00) that I wasn’t even hungry until about 2:00 the next day. Delicious.

My dad came up from southern Oregon and he, my brother, and I went to the house of some family friends. There were 28 people and a 30 pound turkey.

I also got almost all of my gift shopping taken care of. Dad and I went the day BEFORE Thanksgiving and the mall was deserted. Perfect. I don’t care if I overpaid. There were no lines, no crazy people, no disgruntled employees. Perfect.

In knitting news, I still have a lot to show you to catch up. At the beginning of the month I taught a class called “It’s Hot!: Hats.” Our store does a whole “It’s Hot” series where we base classes around patterns that are “Hot right now” on Ravelry (it’s one of the search filters, check it out.) The hat I chose for the class was Molly by Erin Ruth. Here’s my sample:

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Just the right amount of simple but textural with a fun drape. My class focused on how to read a pattern where there is more than one thing going on at once. In this pattern the cable repeats every 8 rows, and the background texture repeats every 3 rows. It also was a nice refresher on cables since most of my students had done them in the past, but not recently.
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I knit my sample from a hearty wool yarn from Knitted Wit. The yarn line is called Cypress Hollow, it’s 100% Rambouillet wool and all of the colors are named for the characters from the Cypress Hollow novels by Rachel Herron. The color I used was called Cade. (I have never read her novels, but I have read her book of short stories and they were cute and entertaining.)
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This one was made as a store sample so it lives at the shop now. I get many requests to model it so that customers can evaluate the amount of drape. Some people are very picky about wanting a hat that is “drape-y but not too drape-y.”

Once I pull myself out from under the holiday knitting avalanche, I think I will make one for myself.

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It’s so fluffy!

First, if you haven’t seen Despicable Me do so now. I’ll wait. Your appreciation for fluffy things will be increased 10 fold.

Yesterday at the shop, the owner remarked that we could really use a sample for the store knit in a new Rowan yarn called Tumble. I jumped at the chance because I have been wanting to try this yarn since it arrived at the shop. It’s 90% alpaca, 10% cotton, and 100% FLUFFY.

Sadly, all I have right now is a crappy late-night iPad photo since my camera seems to be playing a one-sided game of hide and seek.

I’m knitting this on size 15 needles. They feel like giant sticks and I can only knit on it for about 45 minutes before my wrist starts to hurt because of the giant gauge.

It’s so soft and going very quick. I may have a hat to show you on Friday. All camera-finding vibes are much appreciated.