Welcome to my new home!

So, how do you like the new digs? Please forgive any mess as I’m absolutely not at all sure of what I’m doing. I was sitting at home thinking… I’ve never really loved the way my blogger blog looked or functioned, so I messaged my best friend who just happens to be a computer wizard (minus the pointy hat with stars on it, but plus html skills.) About 25 minutes and $15 later all that you see before you was mine. (Really just the domaine name, the building of the site took significantly longer.)

If you’re a feed reader type of blog reader (the only way to keep up with so many awesome knitting blogs) I’d love it if you’d update your reader with the new info here so you don’t miss any posts. (See how I pretend I have readers… fake it till you make it baby.)
Now that that is out of the way, I’ll talk about what you are here for: the knitting. To go with the launch of the new blog I have for you…. Some very easy leg warmers. I would have loved to have something super impressive, but not today.
Leg Warmers
These little babies were requested specifically by my 88 year old grandma. She’s 5’0″ which is why they look a little short on my legs. She wanted something to wear around the house because she is always cold. Here requirements were soft, thick, machine washable, and not “too fancy.”
I think I did a good job keeping the fancy to a minimum. The pattern is of my own devising, but its so terribly simple I can’t justify calling it a “pattern” and writing it up. Still want it? Ok. Get some chunky wool (180 yards or so) and a US 10 16″ circular needle. Cast on 48 sts. Join in the round. K2 P2 endlessly around until they are as tall as you want. Bind off.
The yarn is cheap Patons Shetland Chunky. It is 75% Acrylic and 25% wool making it fit the “machine washable” and “thick” criteria. The acrylic they use is higher quality than many and the yarn is spun more loosely than most pure acrylics are so it’s reasonably soft as well.  Also, it didn’t squeak on the needles which is good because I didn’t have to claw my eyes out working with it.
I’m almost entirely out of projects with good photos to show you… I know. Yes. I do call that a “good” photo. Baby steps. Bear with me as things (hopefully) improve even more around here.

A long time coming

I recently cast off a project that has been on the needles since June of 2010. I think anyone who has been knitting for a while (almost 10 years for me) has these linger projects. Ones that get picked up, a few rows added, then put back down over and over. Mine is Scarf with the No. 20 Edging from “The knitted Lace Pattern Book,” 1850 from the book Victorian Lace Today by Jane Sowerby. It’s a book with extremely beautiful lace based on traditional Victorian patterns.


I started this project right after I started working at Yarnia and made my first custom yarn blend.  I used one strand of silk, one strand of cashmere, and two strands of bamboo. Each strand was very fine, so the overall weight is probably a light fingering.
The construction of this stole is quite unusual. The first scalloped edge is knit from bottom up like a skinny scarf. Then, stitches are picked up along the long non-scalloped edge and the middle panel is knit at a 90 degree angle from the edge. Next, the second scalloped edge is knit down the length of the scarf like a kitted on border working it together with the live stitches from the center panel.
If you’ve ever used Yarnia yarn, you know it’s not actually plied, each of the strands sit next to each other on the cone and the knitting experiences is like holding several strands of yarn together. This makes the risk of splitting higher than usual and and in a lace project where you’re using larger-than-recommended needles it makes for slow going. I’m guessing that’s part of why this kept getting set down–it took a lot of focus, and I just don’t have as much time to dedicate to projects that need constant attention.
In the end, it turned out beautiful. My mom claimed it the last time she was up, and it’s a little fancy for my wardrobe so I didn’t object. Every project in this book is gorgeous, so I will probably cast on another soon… and hopefully get it finished with less delay.

Saroyan

I took a major hiatus from blogging for almost a year. While I’ve been at it (more or less) since January I’ve mainly been relying on my backlog of knits from 2013 to fuel the posts. However, I’ve hit the point where I only have 4 well photographed finished projects left to show you. (Keep your comments about whether some of the other projects I’ve shown you have been “well photographed” to yourself.)

Finished in July of this year is my Saroyan by Liz Abinante. I’ve also made Liz’s Traveling Woman shawl in 2009 and both patterns are great. I started it because I was going to be teaching a class on shawls knit side-to-side but it was a summer class and filling them is hit or miss. There weren’t enough takers, so we had to cancel. I got 3-4 repeats in to learn the pattern, but stalled to work on other projects once the class got canceled.


It languished for over a year until I finished the last commute project I was working on and went rummaging for something that would be commute appropriate. I found the old Saroyan and after a few weeks on the train I had a new scarf.
The fun thing about this pattern is that you get to choose the depth based on how many increase repeats you do. and because it’s knit side to side if you weight your yarn along the way, you can use up all your yarn. My version is 6 increase repeats deep, and 8 straight repeats in the center making 20 leaves total (counting the 6 decrease repeats on the other side.)
The yarn I used is Plymouth Yarn Suri Merino in the aptly named colorway 687. It’s a blend of 55% alpaca and 45% merino and it’s got lovely drape. My best guess is that it took just over 300 yards. I’ve already warn it a few times because fall is definitely in the air here. I’m one of those perpetually cold people, so a new wooly scarf is just exactly what I need.

February Baby

As I mentioned in my last post, there were a few new babies born to my coworkers this summer. In addition to the little Harvest I knit for Megan’s baby, I also knit a little sweater for Jason’s brand new baby girl. Baby girls are such a delight to knit for because all of adorable details you can choose from–lace patterns, pico edges, bows, there’s just so much. I decided on the classic Baby Sweater on Two Needles (February) by Elizabeth Zimmerman. The pattern is from The Knitters Almanac and is only about a paragraph long.

Zimmerman seems to be a lover-her or hate-her figure in the knitting world for her casual writing style and her “recipe” style instructions. Her patters do assume that you’re bringing a lot of knitting knowledge to the table and she doesn’t spare many words for the “how”–her patterns are all about the “what.”


Unfortunately, this was the only picture I remembered to snap just before I gave it to the dad-to-be. It’s on my messy desk under fluorescent lights. Lots of people were saying that using the recommended fingering weight yarn resulted in a newborn sized sweater. I wanted a 6mo size so I followed the same instructions but bumped up to a DK weight yarn. I used Socks That Rock Heavyweight. Color is unique. It was a mill end skein. The colors range from a medium gray to a magenta. I love the way it knit up. Girly without being overpoweringly pink.
I did not add any buttons. I think open cardis look adorable on babies over a onesie, no potential choking hazard if they fall off, and (lets be honest) I hate sewing them on in the first place.

Baby Harvest

This summer we had two babies due around the office. Luckily I have an hour long commute each way on the train, so I was able to whip up a little sweater for each of them. The first was for a baby boy due at the end of May. Can I just say, there are way fewer adorable knitting options for baby boys. You’re basically stuck with either super plain, or heavily cabled. I decided to go the plain route and chose Harvest by tincanknits. I chose the 6-12 month size hoping it would be big enough to fit when winter rolled around.


I used some old Knit Picks Swish left over from a different sweater project. Obviously machine washable is a must for baby things. The colorway is called Jade. It only took 2.5 skeins to nock this little guy out. A very fast and gratifying knit. The pattern is extremely well written for a free pattern. I would absolutely recommend it. It would also be a great first sweater pattern for someone hesitant to jump into the garment world. It’s top down knit in the round so you can try it on as you go. Shaping is minimal and you end up with a classic goes-with-everything cardigan.

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.

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.

Calystegia

I spend a lot of time on Ravelry.  Less than I use to, but I still keep it up in the background on my laptop at home and usually check in on the new “hot” patterns several times a week. I frequently find myself wondering about why some patterns become runaway hits and other seemingly equally-wonderful patterns don’t really get off the ground. Calystegia Cowl by Lankakomero is a pattern that doesn’t have a lot of love on Ravelry, despite being pretty wonderful.


This pattern is well written and an extremely fun knit. At $4.50 it’s reasonably priced. I don’t know why thousands haven’t been made. It’s a pattern I would seriously consider knitting again and I almost never re-knit patterns unless I’m making a gift that has been specifically requested.
My mom asked me to knit her a cowl for Christmas 2012. I ran out of time, so she got a box with a lovely skein of Handmaiden Casbah Sock in colorway Saltspray and a promise that a cowl would soon follow. Soon was not exactly accurate, as I boxed up the finished cowl just in time for Christmas 2013.
It’s tall enough to fully cover your neck and just loose enough not to make your feel like you’re being choked. The Casbah is 80% merino, 10% cashmere, and 10% nylon so it’s amazingly soft and perfect for having right up next to your face.
On of my favorite aspects of this cowl are the wrapped stitches that form the bottom of each shell. I’d never done anything like these wraps before and I really like the effect it gave this pattern.
I used about 60% of my skein of yarn, so unfortunately I won’t be able to get a second cowl from one skein, but I may have enough left over for some coordinating fingerless mitts. Maybe I can get a jump on Mom’s Christmas 2014 present…
Don’t let the fact that this hasn’t been made many times (according to Ravelry) fool you. This pattern is really wonderful! I don’t know this designer or anything about her and I didn’t get anything for this post, I just really like the pattern.

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.

 

Dashing

This knitting year doesn’t seen to be off to any better of a start than last year. It’s already May and I’ve completed 2 projects so far this year. Granted, one was a blanket, but that is still a woefully small number of projects for me. Sometimes I’m able to knit on the trail while I commute, but often in the morning I’m too exhausted and at the end of the day the train is packed and I have to stand… lame-o!

Luckily (?) I was terrible at blogging last year (not that I’ve done great this year…) so I still have a back log of projects from last year that you all haven’t seen yet. Almost a year ago now, I finished a pair of fingerless mitts for my best friend Bob. Because, you know, July is when you have a serious need for gloves… See.


They are Dashing by Cheryl Niamath from the Spring 2007 Knitty. I’ve intended to make them since the pattern was published but I never really had a push to cast it on. Until 6 years later when Bob said something like “I think those gloves that let you still use your fingers are cool” and WHAMO time for some knitting.

I made a few adjustments to the pattern. I only knit 10 rounds before the first cable and 9 rounds after the last cable to shorten them a bit. Also, I used the Jenny’s Stretchy Bind Off around the fingers and thumb to make sure it would not be too tight. Other than  that I followed the pattern as written.
I used the absolutely amazing Dream in Color Classy with Cashmere to knit these. The colorway is Grey Tabby. It is so fantastically soft. It’s also spun nice and tight so I don’t think it will pill much even though it’s a merino-cashmere blend. In my mind that makes it a pretty heavenly yarn.
While they didn’t get much use in July, I did see them in the wild several times over the winter. I suppose I can’t rule out that they were being worn for my benefit, but it seemed genuine. Every knitter knows that’s a win.