Tag Archive | handmade

Wood Sorrel Cowl

My latest FO happens to be a project I test-knit for a new pattern designer, Laura Cameron. I don’t volunteer for a lot of test-knitting because I just don’t have a ton of time, but I was really glad I made the time for this one. I ended up with a gorgeous new cowl!

IMG_3572

Laura’s pattern is called Wood Sorrel and is available on Ravelry now. It calls for 450-500 yards of DK or light worsted weight. She used a beautiful hand-dyed merino in a shade of green that perfectly complements the leafy lace pattern. Since I’m trying to curtail my yarn-buying, I shopped from my stash and came up with two skeins of Berroco Fiora in Tybee (aka gray).

IMG_3571

It’s a long cast-on but once I got that done and joined, it was smooth sailing. The lace pattern was complex enough to keep it interesting through four repeats, but not so complicated that I got confused or frustrated. As long as I mostly paid attention, I was fine. I did watch TV through a lot of it, and that worked out well enough — just don’t pick something you have to actually watch most of the time!

The pattern was attractively laid-out, well-written and clear, very easy to follow. I love that she included the written instructions as well as the chart, since I’m not a huge fan of charts.

IMG_3569

I followed the pattern exactly as written and used 430 yards, and my cowl is a big, wonderfully wearable double-loop scarf. I think it’ll be great for cooler spring and fall days, since the Fiora has a good amount of cotton. But I wish I’d done like Laura and chosen a pretty squishy merino in green or brown. And wool seems to have better stitch definition than this cotton blend, although I do think it turned out lovely. Don’t be surprised if you see this pattern show up again in an earthy-colored wool!

IMG_3573

You can see Laura’s other patterns on her Ravelry page, check out her blog here, or see what handspun yarn she’s got for sale in her Etsy shop here.

Socks and Scarves

Time to show off the FOs from our road trip last weekend! The first I actually finished on the way to Colorado, which was perfect because then I could wear it! Apparently Colorado weather is just as unpredictable as Missouri weather, and as we drove into Denver we saw signs warning us of an impending bout of heavy snow. Swell! Thankfully we avoided all the snow, but we did have strong, cold winds to contend with and we all forgot our coats. I couldn’t believe it: here I was with the perfect opportunity to put all my handknits to good use, and I’d left them all at home! But at least I  had my new little Copper Boom, lightweight and airy though it was, and that provided a bit of comfort.

fullsizeoutput_aa5fullsizeoutput_aa7fullsizeoutput_aa6The yarn is Madelinetosh Tosh Sock in colorway Night Hawk, and it’s the best Madtosh yarn I’ve used. I find their yarns splitty, but didn’t have that issue with this yarn. I love all the colors; they’re all colors I wear frequently so I think I’ll get a lot of use out of it. The pattern is Copper Boom and it comes in two versions, the eyelet one that I made, and a solid pattern. It’s very simple but not boring, and my only minor caveat is that one edge comes out a bit tight so the ends curl even after blocking. Still, I love it!

My other FO is my first pair of sock yarn socks! Yes, I finished my Hermione’s Everyday Socks and they are perfect!

IMG_3337

Okay, not really perfect because they’re a tad too big, but they’re wearable and now I know to make the foot portion shorter. I love the feel of the fabric, the density of the tiny stitches, and the magic of turning the heel. So, FINE, yes, I agree: making socks is fun. In fact, I’ve already got a new pair on my needles.

fullsizeoutput_aa9

This time I’m using Kate Atherley’s Basic Ribbed Socks because I love ribbing and I love snug socks. And ribbed socks out of rainbow yarn are extra perfect. I just wish the yarn had kept up with the striping instead of starting to pool.

The socks are my lunch break knitting at work; my new at-home knitting is a scarf in yarn from my stash. (Gasp! I’m using stash yarn, not new? Crazy, I know!) I wanted a versatile ivory scarf and this more than fits the bill. It’s Manos del Uruguay Fino, which is a merino/silk blend that is just delicious to knit with. It feels good in my hands while I knit with it, and it feels good in the scarf. Every day, I look forward to going home so I can knit with this yarn. I’m going to want more Fino for sure.

fullsizeoutput_aa8

The pattern is Frisson and I love how it’s knitting up. But I’m not crazy about the way it’s written. My main peeve is that each section has several lines like “knit to 8 stitches before YO in previous RS row”. I mean, I understand the directions, but it’s just kind of a pain to have to watch for that YO two rows below each time. A stitch marker would probably help, and this far into it, I’ve gotten pretty good at spotting it quickly, but it’s still a bit annoying. Maybe I’ve gotten spoiled by patterns that tell me when to place/slip a marker, or how many stitches to knit before doing something different, so that now when I pay $4 for a pattern, I expect that kind of work to already be done for me. What can I say, I’m a lazy knitter, I guess! Anyway, like I said, it’s turning out beautifully and I imagine I’ll wear the heck out of it.

That’s my week of knitting; hope you all got plenty of knitting time too!

Birthday, Sweater, Sock

Last weekend was just too busy for blogging. The girl, MY girl, keeps growing up: we had a party to celebrate her 17th birthday!

fullsizeoutput_a39

The weekend was full of grocery shopping, baking, cleaning, partying–and then recovering! So there was knitting, but no blogging. I don’t have any FOs to share, so it may not seem like I was productive, but I did make good progress on two big WIPs.

Let’s look at the sweater first. I’m done with all the increases in the body, so that’s great. It’s even better when you consider that I had to frog around four inches last weekend. See, after I did my last post, I saw a line in the sweater:

fullsizeoutput_a26

It was subtle but undeniable: a lighter stripe right there in the middle, and once I saw it I couldn’t unsee it. I checked the dye lots on all my skeins and the skein that produced the lighter stripe was the only one like it. The rest were more purple. Stripe aside, I worried about what the sleeves would look like when I picked up the stitches with the other shade of yarn. I knew I needed another three skeins to finish the sweater, so I ordered those knowing the dye lots would be different, and set the sweater aside. (Obviously this is why one plans ahead and checks dye lots and buys sweater quantities all at once.)

When the yarn arrived, I was kind of relieved to see that it was more of the lighter version, because that would help me blend the shoulders into the sleeves. I couldn’t bring myself to frog the whole thing, but I also couldn’t live with the big stripe, so I frogged back to where I split for the sleeves and reknit, this time alternating the two shades every two rows. I still have a stripe but it’s smaller and mostly on the back, and the following section is nicely blended. I think I can live with it.

fullsizeoutput_a38

It’s smooth sailing from here on out, I think. The biggest hurdle will be combating the boredom of 12 more inches of stockinette!

The sock reappeared while the sweater was in time-out. I’d gotten bored with the leg so I’d do a few rows and then set it aside.

IMG_3218

I finally got to the heel a few days ago and that really amped up my interest. The heel flap was fine — I was helped a lot by the notes on cstein’s project on Ravelry — but then came the heel turn. I knit the first six rows, then it said “Continue in this manner.” To me, that meant to repeat that section. I tried that three times, and the stitch count didn’t work, and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. Thankfully, my Knitting SIL has made these before so I texted her, and it turns out that “Continue in this manner” meant to progress with the increasing number of stitches you knit/purl in each row before the decrease and turn. I mean, yeah, okay, that’s not hard…but that’s not what the pattern said! Grr. Okay, with that information, the heel turned quickly and looked great.

IMG_3254

After that, foot went quickly and this morning I was doing Kitchener to close up the toe, and BAM I have a finished sock!

IMG_3263Grace is unimpressed.

IMG_3265Pretty little rounded Kitchener toe! I love it!

IMG_3264

Despite my frustration with some of the pattern (or may because of that?), this was a great learning project. The foot is just a hair too long, so I know to make that a little shorter in the future. And the leg feels too tall, so I’ll shorten that in future socks. Plus I learned a new heel, the Eye of Partridge heel, and got to practice my Kitchener. Now, how long will it take me to knit the second sock??

 

Wonder Woman cowl

I finished this cowl several days ago, and actually blocked it last weekend, but I didn’t get around to taking photos until today. It started with one of those skeins that seem almost too special to use, you know, the kind that need the “perfect pattern” before you can knit with it. But it also kept calling my name, and finally I gave in.

I wanted a long cowl, an infinity scarf I could wear doubled. At first I thought I’d just use the one variegated yarn, but I saw it on the shelf next to a solid red, which gave me ideas.

img_3151

I looked at so many patterns trying to decide on one, and finally chose the Hogan Infinity Scarf, which I’ve made before.

img_3152

It was faster to knit than the last time I made it, which was two years ago, so that makes me feel like I’m a better knitter than I used to be, and that’s a good feeling!

img_3154

I modified the pattern by doing garter stitch edges instead of stockinette, and by added two extra repeats of the lace pattern in the middle. I wanted to use as much of the Wonder Woman yarn as possible, but in hindsight I think it might have been a more wearable width had I just done one extra repeat. I don’t know how often I’ll wear it, since they aren’t colors I wear often, but I love how it came out, and I really enjoyed making it.

Since I finished that, I’ve mostly been working on my cardigan. It’s going well, very smoothly. I counted my stitches before I put the sleeves on waste yarn and was quite pleased that I had the right number! Now I’m increasing the fronts and then I’ll just have to knit it as long as I want it, and then do the sleeves.

fullsizeoutput_a26

I’m looking forward to the sleeves, honestly. I love knitting in the round! So far this has been a good experience for my first sweater, but I foresee getting a little bored. My next sweater might have to have a little more detail to it.

My little sock is coming along, too, though I haven’t paid it much attention in the last week or so.

img_3149

You’ll notice it’s still on DPNs. I tried my tiny circs and didn’t care for that at all. It surprised me, because I’ve used them for baby hats before and didn’t mind them. Part of the problem is that it seemed like there were too few stitches for the needles (64) and the stitches were stretched out too much. But mostly it just felt awkward. So I’m back to DPNs, my short DPNs this time, and it’s fine.

Hopefully you all are enjoying weather as beautiful as we are, sunny and 60s! Happy knitting, friends!

Two New Cowls

Today’s a holiday = I have the day off = you get a bonus blog post! I finished a cowl last night and I’m kind of proud of this one. I’m very much a pattern knitter. I pick out a pattern and I make that pattern. I rarely make modifications, but I had to this time. I knew I wanted a long gray cowl, one I could wear doubled. I picked yarn from my stash (Berroco Lustra in a dark silvery gray) but couldn’t find a pattern I liked. Nothing matched what the yarn wanted to be. Finally I found this Lush-ious Swirl Cowl pattern, which kind of looked like scales to me. But it was a short cowl, and I wanted a long cowl. I went through all the cowls I’d made in the past, trying to figure out a good stitch count to cast on, and I cast on and ripped out two attempts before settling on 200. I also didn’t want the wavy edge that looked like it might roll a lot, so I added ribbing on either edge. Then I was off to the races!

fullsizeoutput_a1dimg_3108img_3109

This was a really fun, quick knit for me, and so satisfying to have it turn out just like I wanted! I’m not sure it needs to be blocked, because I don’t want to lose the texture of the swirly scales, but I’m a little worried that the Lustra might be kind of itchy and am wondering if a Eucalan bath might help? I’m pondering that. I’ll probably do a test-run first and see how it feels. I liked the pattern enough that I could definitely see myself making one per the pattern as well.

That’s not my only new cowl, though. I finally got around to blocking my Simply Tonks cowl and I like this one too.

img_3105

Aren’t the colors gorgeous?? The yarn is a color called Don’t Call Me Nymphadora in Supernatural Yarns’ Harpy DK. I loved knitting with it: it’s a firm yarn (if that makes sense), not limp or droopy. Great stitch definition. And did I mention the colors? She also makes fantastic project bags (I have two) so you should definitely check out her Etsy shop! Oh, and the pattern is Simple Yet Effective by Tin Can Knits. This was perfect mindless knitting.

Finally, here’s one last photo of my Hitchhiker Beyond so you can see more than just the tails. Between the colors and the shape, I’m guessing I’ll wear this one a lot.

img_3104

I seem to have entered a phase of Finish-itis, so it’ll be interesting to see which of my five WIPs will get done next: socks (I’m on the first sock), two shawls, a cardigan, and a blanket. Hm. I might need to add something simpler to the mix!

Adventures in Gauge

Gauge is dumb. Okay, no, I know it’s not. I know it’s very important for some things. For things where fit is critical, making sure your gauge matches the pattern is kind of a big deal. Because my brain struggles to understand gauge (do I go up a needle size or down? If I’m off by one stitch, do I need to adjust my stitch count? Will it be bigger or smaller?) I typically avoid projects where matching gauge is critical. Hats? They’ll fit somebody. Cowls, scarves, shawls…those are forgiving projects, and as long as you like the drape of the fabric you’re making, you’re fine.

EXCEPT. If your gauge is off, you will use a different amount of yarn than the designer. Sometimes it’s not enough to matter, and sometimes you have plenty of yarn so maybe you don’t notice. And then sometimes, you don’t. And that sucks. I’ve always been fine not worrying about gauge. The times I did check it, 99% of the time my gauge matched the designer’s with the recommended needles and yarn weight. But lately, I’ve had problems with several projects and I think gauge is to blame. Remember my Black Diamond cowl? How I ran out of the Anzula even though I should have had plenty? I’m guessing that was a gauge issue.

Now, I’ve got my Hitchhiker Beyond on the needles, and the pattern calls for 350-383 yards, and I figured my 420 yards of Malabrigo Mechita would be more than enough. I used the recommended needle size and happily knit away. Then I got about six inches from the end and ran out of yarn.

img_3076

What the heck? I checked my gauge and instead of the recommended 22 st/4″, I have 25! This is where I struggle with gauge, because even though I know I should have gone up at least one needle size, I don’t really understand why this used up my yarn faster. But clearly, it did. So now I’m stuck with a few options that all kind of suck: frog and reknit, bind off with a stupid blunt edge, or buy another $20 skein of yarn. Because I am too lazy to frog and reknit like my garter stitch dense and squishy, I’m going to buy more yarn to finish on these needles.

Learning about my gauge is important, because I’m still committed to making my first cardigan. I ordered some black Irish wool and had to go down two needle sizes to get gauge, and I was mildly panicked to think that my gauge had loosened up that much and it would affect every project I would ever do in the future. (I know, it’s really not a big deal, but I got really spoiled getting gauge easily in the past.) Now I know that’s not the case, partly because with the Malabrigo fingering, I was knitting more tightly. But I also know because I did another swatch for my cardigan today.

You see, even though I matched gauge over a week ago, I still haven’t cast on for the cardigan. I kept telling myself it was because I didn’t have the time to focus on it. Finally I realized I was putting it off because I didn’t like knitting with the yarn, especially on the size 6 needles. The yarn is so rough and scratchy, and I can’t imagine knitting with it long enough to make a whole sweater. If I’m going to commit to something like a sweater, it’s only going to happen if the knitting is pleasurable. So, with relief, I gave up on the scratchy Irish wool. At some point I will use bigger needles and make some felted totes or something, so it won’t go to waste.

In the meantime, I picked some purple cotton out of my stash for my Harvest Attempt #2. I have six skeins, the result of a failed cardigan attempt a couple of years ago. It’s not enough yarn; I’ll have to buy more eventually. But it’s enough to get a really good start. Thinking I probably do knit looser than I used to, I started with size 7 (instead of the recommended 8s) and made a small swatch: 20 stitches/4″ instead of 18. Made another one with 8s and this time I got 17 stitches. That’s pretty darn close, and I’m going to stick with it.

img_3085

So, FINE. I give in. You swatchers win this round: I concede that doing swatches is important. BUT: I’m still only going to do it for garments and when I have a limited amount of expensive yarn and I’m not sure I have enough. (And honestly, in those instances, I’ll probably just start knitting the project and check my gauge partway in. That’s gonna have to be close enough sometimes.)

What about you? Do you always check gauge? Never?

WIP Assessment

Whew, there are a lot of projects floating around my living room right now! I’ve cast on several new things lately and now the WIPs are in abundance. Here’s a peek:

img_3061

And this isn’t all of them: I’ve got another shawl and a blanket that aren’t shown. Miss Winkle, the pink/black one at the top, hasn’t grown at all in the last few weeks. She’s a little fiddly so I haven’t been in the mood for her. The purple/teal/black cowl looks finished, I know, but it’s really not. I bound off and it squished down shorter than I expected, and since I have yarn left over I’m going to try picking up stitches to add another section. The big shawl is the Hitchhiker Beyond and I’ve been working on that one a lot. It’s good TV knitting and I’m getting close enough to the end that I’m motivated to work on it. There’s a ribbed edge for a long gray cowl on the left side there, something I’m modifying from another pattern, so that’s been an adventure trying to figure out the right number to cast on. The purple hat just needs the top closed and furry pompom added. The little cuff is the start of my Hermione’s Everyday Socks, and the hot pink is another cat hat, requested by a friend.

So you can see, even though I have no finished projects to share, I have been doing much knitting, and will continue to do so as life allows! Oh, and after three swatches, I did finally match gauge for my first sweater, but haven’t cast on yet. I know that will be a more involved process, so I’ve been waiting for a time when I have enough mental energy. Happy knitting, friends!