Prototype

One of the designs that’s been kicking around my head for some time is a pair of convertible mittens in fingering weight yarn so that they’re not super warm and so that your fingers have maximum dexterity. I know I want them to be textured, but I can’t decide if I want to do cables or a simple knit purl design. While I still have to figure out the details of the design, I think I’ve got the gauge and sizing figured out.

I love convertible mittens. You get the best of both worlds–the warmth of mittens, the dexterity of gloves–and free fingers for texting and turning doorknobs. I also put a “hood” on the thumb so that when you are in mitten mode you get maximum warmness.
I sort of used Ann Budd’s glove template from the Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns, but made lots of mods (obviously.) Now that I’ve got the basic shape down, I can start playing with finding the perfect texture.
The yarn I used was Knit Picks Stroll in colorway Saphire Heather. It took just barely more than a single ball. I ran out of my first ball just as I was finishing up the hood of the second glove. I had to use maybe 20 yards from the second ball.
I still need to figure out what texture I’m going to use and then who knows when I’ll have time to write it up… I guess what I’m trying to say is there is no time horizon for the pattern release yet, but I’m one step closer now.

Countess Mitts XL

Christmas 2012 I wanted to knit a gift for the woman who always hosts our family for dinner and makes amazing delicious food and really just goes all out. Don’t believe me? This is how she sets the table:


Unfortunately, and I say this with love, she has giant hands for a woman. The mitts I made were way too small. They were knit in fingering weight yarn on size 1.5 needles and they were lovely (see them here) but way too small.
Christmas 2013 I was determined to get it right. I used the same pattern and the same stitch counts, but used a worsted weight yarn and size 6 needles. They came out just right.
The pattern is Countess Mitts by Colleen Powley and I got it in a kit with the yarn to make the original pair of mitts, though it looks like you can also download it separately on Ravelry. These are very big on me, but they fit the recipient perfectly. They look a bit less delicate than the original, but I think it’s more fitting to her style anyway.
The yarn is Knit Picks Sugarbunny in colorway Peacock. It’s 80% merino and 20% angora so it has a lovely little halo and the mitts are incredibly soft. They advertise it as a worsted weight but I would say it’s a bit lighter than traditional. I’m guessing they suggest knitting it at a worsted gauge to give the angora halo room between the stitches to bloom.
I didn’t get much knit this month because 1) it’s been hot, and 2) I moved again and my yarn was all packed. I’m all unpacked now (except I can’t find my Kindle and it’s making me crazy!) and I’ve really been feeling the knitting bug lately. I’ve got a lot of projects that went on hold when I went through my knitting funk, and I’ve been pulling them all out and remembering why I cast them on and all the good things about them and wondering why I ever put them down. Time for a good knit I think.

Cabled Scarf: a history

Have you ever looked down at your knitting project and thought: why am I knitting this?  I don’t remember ever wanting to knit this.  I don’t know how this ever made it on the needles.  I was thinking that this evening as I was working on my creatively named #08 Cabled Scarf.  I started wondering how I ever came to be knitting it in the first place.  As far as I remember, this is what happened.

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A long long time ago (December 2008) I got my hands on the Holiday issue of Vogue Knitting and must have added the pattern to my Ravelry queue.  I must not have loved it too much, because it stayed in my queue mostly forgotten until late 2010.  At that point, Knit Picks decided to close out the Robot color of it’s Gloss DK yarn.  I decided that I had to have some of it before it disappeared, but felt like I needed a “reason” to buy it.
Turning to my Ravelry Queue, I discovered this scarf pattern which would “allow” me to buy six balls. Into the cart went the yarn.  When it arrived, I oohed and ahhed and squished and squooshed and then put the balls in the stash where they marinated for almost another year.
Then, this last December, I decided that the one type of project I wasn’t currently working on was a cabled project (never mind the 12 others I had going at the time.)  Deciding I had to have a cable pattern on top of all my others, I turned to my queue for inspiration.  Imagine my surprised delight when I realized that I had both the pattern and the yarn to make this scarf.
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It curls like mad right now, hopefully blocking will straighten that out a bit.
I cast on immediately after the discovery and happily knit half the scarf very quickly feeling extremely satisfied working the 32-row cable chart.  After about 30 inches, the charm wore off.  In my excitement over the cables, I must have forgotten that I actually hate knitting scarves.  Scarves are basically never ending swatches.  They get boring.  This project went in a bin, and was pretty much ignored from January until now.
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Now that I’m trying to whittle down the number of WIPs I’ve got going, it’s come out of the bin and progress is being made once again.  Next time I get the urge to use a particular technique, remind me to do it on a project with some shaping, will ya?
Check out the other projects over at Tami’s.

Handles

It is all gift knitting all the time in my apartment.  I’ve decided that while I’m at home I should be working on my gift knitting exclusively so that I don’t have to give too many gifts on the needles this year.

My mom is getting a set of BYOBs for her birthday this year (December 21) and as I’ve been working on them, I’ve come to appreciate the construction of the handles immensely.  They are so cleaver and so utilitarian.

First, you cast on the number of stitches your handle is going to be and you knit a little strip of stockinette four rows tall.

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Next you fold the strip horizontally with the purl sides together so you have a double-thick strip of stockinette only two rows tall.  knit across the row knitting each live stitch together with one of the cast on stitches (which, since you’ve folded your fabric is up near your needles.  (The pattern has you cast on using a provisional cast on so that you are knitting two sets of live stitches together.  This is totally acceptable, but I find a provisional cast on slow and my way gives the exact same result.)  Here is my handle strip half knit so you can see what I’m talking about.

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The stitches on the right have been folded and knit together with the cast on row, the stitches on the left haven’t been worked yet.  Here it is from the back.

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(Stitches on the left have been worked together, stitches on the right are waiting to be worked)

Once you’ve finished folding and working all your stitches across you have a double-thick round uber-squishy handle pad.   (From the front then the back)

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Once you’ve made your handle pads set them aside until you’re ready to knit your handles.  Bind off the  number of stitches your handles call for.  Then on the next round, instead of casting on over the gap as most patterns have you do, simply knit the stitches from your handle pad.  The rolled double-thick cushion really makes a difference if you’re carrying a loaded bag.  It really cuts down on the way that handles can sometimes dig into your hands and makes the handle feel more substantial and less “fragile” than some bag handles feel.

The BYOBs come out huge, and I think a smaller size would really be more practical as a shopping bag, but even if I don’t make the pattern again, I will definitely use this handle trick on future bags.  Genius.

Just my luck

Recently, I’ve been cruising right along on several projects.  I’ve got… eleven… current projects and over the past weekend I think I managed to work on 7 of them.  Part of the reason I was able to work on so many was that I kept running out of ^*$# yarn.  First, I decided to work on the market bag I’m making for my mom.

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That’s BYOB by Moria Ravenscroft from the Summer 2008 Knitty.  I’m making it with Knit Picks new cotton yarn Dishie.  It feels like a great yarn for market bags, dish towels, scrubbies, etc. but I would never make something like a garment with it–too stiff, it would never drape.  Soft, but stiff.  The pattern calls for two balls of a yarn that is 207 yards per ball for the main color.  Dishie comes in balls of 190 yards.  As you can see, those extra 34 yards are critical.  All I have left to knit are the handles.  An emergency ball is on the way and hopefully I’ll have the bag done soon.

After that disappointment, I picked up a project I haven’t worked on in quite a while and got pretty close to finishing.

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That’s the Op Art blanket by Melissa Dominguez from the fall 2008 Knitty.  (Clearly 2008 was a good year for Knitty).  I started this when I first moved to Oregon way back in July 2009.  Mostly, I started it as a way to use up the two huge skeins of Carron One Pound I was given by a well meaning family friend.  I figured two POUNDS of yarn would be enough to finish a moderate-sized blanket.  Imagine my extreme frustration when I ran out of yarn 9 rows from the end.  Since the size of the stripes matters, I can’t just stop where I am and bind off.  I could go back to the last whole stripe, but I really wanted it to end on a white stripe… My own weird aesthetic.  That would mean going back a whole strip and a half and would leave me with quite a lot of left over yarn, thus defeating my plan to use up all the yarn with this blanket.

Ravelry to the rescue.  Another kind knitter used this yarn for a project and had about 4 ounces left over.  The yarn is coming to me as we speak.  I love living in the digital age.  I could not function in a world without “the cloud”….. mmm instant gratification, instant information, instant organization.

Had I not run out of yarn on these two projects I probably would have given them each some serious dedicated work and maybe had a few FOs to show for my weekend, but as it is, it was nice to revisit so many of my current projects and get back in touch with why I love them.