Archive | January 2017

Back to the Blanket

I picked up my blanket WIP again this weekend! I needed something completely mindless while I watched the finals of the Australian Open, and knitting on my sock was hurting hand. So I pulled out the blanket and decided to switch out the needles. I’d been using my Knitter’s Pride Spectra Acrylic tips, but they didn’t slide well against the cotton yarn. I put on my Knitter’s Pride Nova tips instead (nope, not getting paid for this, they’re just my favorite needles) and discovered it was indeed speedier knitting! I know there might be a difference in gauge, but it’s worth it if it means I can finish the blanket sooner. I really do want to see the finished project! It’s going to be quite large, I believe.

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Now, I have a question: I will be needing a special baby gift this year, and I think this blanket would be a lovely option…but I don’t know the sex of the baby yet. Think this is unisex enough?

Is that…a SOCK?

I’m doing something new, something I said I didn’t want to do: I’m knitting socks! All along, I’ve resisted for a number of reasons: you have to make two of them, turning a heel sounded hard, you put them on your feet so they get dirty and sweaty, and they’ll wear out. Why spend ours on something just so you can wear holes in it?

But. I’ve been knitting longer now. I’m more willing and eager to learn new skills and techniques. Making one of a pair doesn’t take so long that a second one is discouraging. Turning a heel doesn’t scare me. I still don’t think I’ll want to spend hours making things to wear on my feet that might require mending, but who knows? So far this has been fun.

What brought this on? A couple of ladies in my knitting group at work have been wanting to learn to make socks, and we have a master knitter to be our sock guide. I resisted at first but finally gave in — I didn’t want to be the party pooper. Our guide suggested a pattern, a simple worsted weight top-down sock, and I sent out notes and tips for choosing the right yarn and needles and checking gauge. I happened to have just the right yarn in my stash: two skeins of Artyarns Supermerino in variegated pinks and purples. It’s listed as Aran but feels more like worsted to me.

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The beginning was easy, no different than starting a fingerless glove. It’s always fun for me to do ribbing and stockinette in the round, so I had my tube done quickly. It looked pretty but awfully small. Still, it had plenty of stretch and my gauge was right, so I trusted the pattern and kept knitting. (Confession time: I didn’t make a gauge swatch. Well, I used the sock as the swatch. I’m lucky enough to get gauge with the recommended yarn weight and needles 99% of the time, so I typically just go with it. I knew if my gauge was off I’d have to rip out and start over, but I was okay with it. And it worked out!)

Making the heel flap was simple too, just back and forth on one needle.

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Then with a few rows with well-placed SSKs and P2togs, I had turned my heel! I could see a hint of a sock!

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After that it was just a matter of picking up stitches along the sides of the heel flap and then I was knitting in the round again!

At that point I measured my foot: it was 10 1/4″ long, so I knit until the foot of the sock was 8 1/4″ (it was a little hard to measure that precisely but I think I got pretty close) and then I started shaping the toe with decreases. And then suddenly I had a finished sock! With a bit of trepidation I slipped it on…and it fit! And it was beautiful!

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I wore my new sock the rest of the evening, and here’s what I think so far: it wasn’t as snug as I like my socks. I like my socks to hug my feet (probably because that’s what I’ve gotten used to with store-bought socks) so these felt kind of loose. They stretched as I wore them, not so much as to be baggy, just…not tight. I’m sure they’ll go back when I wash them, but I think my next sock will be with sock yarn, negative ease, and more ribbing. Still, I had so much fun making this sock and watching it appear on my needles almost as if by magic, and I’ve already got the second started. In fact, I might even work on it today while I catch up on the Australian Open tennis finals!

Two Button Cowls

I have two finished cowls to share today, both with fun buttons. I like them both and am disappointed with both. Let’s start with the older one.

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I finished knitting this last weekend but just sewed on the buttons today. The pattern called for 60 yards and some of the project pages mentioned it was a little small, so I added in a second color to hopefully stretch my 60 yards. However, I didn’t do it logically or scientifically, so it still came out smaller than I wanted and I had more yarn left over than I wanted. I should have cast on a couple more stitches and weighed the black yarn after doing the first three rows so that I’d know how much I could knit in the center black section. Instead I winged it. I mean, it’s fine. I do like the buttons I chose for it, but they’re a tiny bit too small for the buttonhole so they’re more likely to come out. But it’s cute, it’s wearable, and it was a good choice for the one 60-yard ball of bulky yarn I had in my stash. Pattern is Mochi Neck Cozy.

Okay, so the second cowl I finished knitting last night at the girl’s choir concert. This morning I sewed it together and added buttons. The yarn is Malabrigo Rasta and is GORGEOUS. Love love love these colors. It knit up quickly, it’s soft and will be super warm, and I really like the matte pewter buttons I chose.

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So what’s the problem with this one? It’s taller and snugger than I was expecting, so it’s a bit harder to wear. It’s a tight enough gauge that it doesn’t drape very much. I think at this point I’m going to give it a bath in some Eucalan and see if I can loosen it up. Still, that’s a pretty small problem. This pattern is Comfy Cowl. I love how you can sew it together however you want; off-kilter like the designer did, or with the edges matched up evenly.

The weather here has been cool and gray and rainy lately and I’m afraid it’s affecting my mood. Hope things are brighter where you are!

Madelia Photos

I unpinned my Madelia shawl this morning and started taking photos as soon as I got enough daylight. I just love lace, don’t you?

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The only modification to the pattern was to use DK instead of sport weight. My edge didn’t come out quite as pointy as hers, but close enough. If you don’t set it aside for two months as I did, it’s a relatively quick knit. The pattern was well-written and easy to follow (except for one bit where it says to use the right needle tip to lift a stitch over, and I think it should maybe be the left needle that’s doing the lifting). Plus it’s super easy to modify; it’s written for three colors but obviously I only did two. It would also be lovely in a solid color. And if you made it in a fingering weight, I think it would be a good size for more of a scarf look.

This morning I came to the determination that I am inspired more by yarn than by patterns. I wanted to cast on some new projects so I had more variety, and went to my stash and picked out five yarns that were calling my name. Thanks to Ravelry, a short while later I had patterns picked out for all of them and have big plans for today! … Except I just realized that none of them are a hat, and I need a hat in the mix, so I’ll be revisiting the stash in a bit. Yeah, I’ll be doubling my WIP count today. Right now I’m okay with it. We’ll see how long it lasts before I’m hit with a bout of finish-itis!

Madelia Shawl

I started and finished a shawl yesterday. Haha, NO! Not that same shawl! First, I cast on the Chevrione shawl with high hopes of making good progress this weekend. I made it through the first two sections, but it was tricky! Not that it’s really that difficult, but the lace is intricate and a little complicated and I kept making mistakes. I had to focus all my attention on it, no movies or TV, and after a couple of hours, I needed a mental break. But here’s what I’ve got so far:

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It’s really pretty and I like it and I can’t wait to get to the next color. I think it’ll go more smoothly now that I’ve gone through the chart once.

When I set aside the Chevrione, the girl and I decided to watch a movie, so I pulled out another old WIP, one that’s not mindless but is easier to follow with distractions. It’s the Madelia Shawlette by Picnic Knits that I started in September. As I finished the section I was on, I realized I only had three sections left, and each one was 12 rows or fewer. So close to the end! Suddenly my goal was to finish this project.

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I knit my way through West Side Story, Moulin Rouge, and the evening news, and at 10:30 I finally set aside the completed shawl. And this morning I got up, wove in the ends, and blocked the sucker.

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Here’s a close-up of the lace. I think blocking is going to make a huge difference in this one. When I was done binding off, I wasn’t sure I liked it, but it’s growing on me now.

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So with that done, I had 4 WIPs: three shawls and a blanket. Well, that wasn’t going to work for me. I need more variety in my knitting life. Fortunately, I was saved by a friend’s request for two pussyhats. I did a bit of stash-diving and came up with an assortment of pink yarn, and had a nearly finished hat after a viewing of The Time Traveler’s Wife.

Now I’ve had a workout and a snack break, and I’m ready to dive back in. The goal is to have two completed pussyhats by the end of the day. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can!

Two Pink Hats

These are the only finished objects I have to show you this week, two pink kitty hats. They are cute. I like them.

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They were supposed to be for me and my daughter, but then a friend of a friend needed two hats for the March on Washington, and I was more than happy to send these her way and make more for us. I used AndreSue Knits’ pattern for the KitKat hat and KnitPicks Preciosa Tonal in Pokeberry. I was able to get two hats and another brim out of one skein, and I’ve got more on the way. (And if you don’t know anything about what these hats mean, check out www.pussyhatproject.com)

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Wow. That’s a very large photo of my face. Second guessing that selection now.

I did find and attach buttons for my Gothic Lace cowl, and I’m delighted with how that turned out. I’ve already worn it to work and gotten several compliments on it.

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My only (very small) regret is that the silver buttons I chose, which I adore, are a bit heavy for the cowl, so it’s a little hard to wear. I very much want to make another one of these with lighter buttons.

Anyway, while I wait for my pink yarn to arrive, I needed something new and exciting for my weekend of knitting. Not only do I get Monday off for the Martin Luther King, Jr. day, but we also have an ice storm warning, so yay for three days of solid knitting! Last night I wound my Frolicking Feet gradient set and cast on for the Chevrione shawl.

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I didn’t get far because we started watching a movie and this is not movie-watching knitting. But I’m hoping to make good progress today! My only question is whether I should have started with the darkest teal instead of the lightest…hmm. What do you think?

Two Cowls

Of course the projects I actually finished were newer ones, started after Christmas with new yarn. Of course I couldn’t bring myself to finish a poor old WIP. Well. Maybe that’ll be next.

Yesterday the girl had a District Orchestra performance so I had driving time knitting and concert time knitting, and I was able to bind off the Hill & Dale cowl on the drive home. I don’t think it even needs to be blocked.

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I do love the drape and the colors but it’s kind of hard to wear. Every time I put it on the mannequin, it looked kind of dumb, like this:

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Finally, I got this, which isn’t as lovely as it looks in the pattern photos, but still wearable.

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Pattern is Hill & Dale Cowl, yarn is Malabrigo Rios in Archangel. I used almost all of two skeins.

Then last night, the girl, who is fighting a cold, wanted a movie night, so we settled in for The Sound of Music and I pulled out my Gothic Lace cowl. By the time the credits rolled, I was weaving in ends. I love this cowl!

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Those are crochet button holes. I need to get buttons for the other side so I can show how pretty it will be all buttoned up! I’m thinking silver buttons with a vintage look. I used all the yarn and wish I’d had more to make it a bit longer, but it will be fabulous as is too. But first I do actually need to block this one to open up the lace and just get it all evened out and straight. That’s on my list today. This pattern is Gothic Lace Cowl by Tin Can Knits (don’t you just love their designs??) and the yarn is Madelinetosh Tosh Vintage, which is my favorite Madtosh yarn so far. I kind of find Madtosh to be a bit splitty. So even though I love this cowl with this yarn, I still love Malabrigo more. I can’t help it. Malabrigo is my favorite. What’s your favorite yarn?