Tag Archive | knitwear

Day of Knitting

We have had a lot of germs in our house already this year. The kids have been taking turns being sick, back and forth, and the husband took a turn once, and all along I managed to stay (mostly) healthy. But for most of last week, I could feel something creeping up, and I kept the symptoms mostly at bay out of stubbornness. But the germs are fighting hard this time, and yesterday my body told me I needed some time to just chill out and let my mind and body rest. So with the exception of a needed grocery run, I rested. I sat outside in the gorgeous weather to let the dogs run around. Then when they made too much progress on their tunnel to China, we went inside and hung out on the couch, watching Mean Girls and Property Brothers. I finished one book and started another, and I did some knitting. Of course some knitting!

I started by officially casting on for my Harvest cardigan. I pulled out one of my favorite sweaters to measure so I could choose a size. Based on the chest measurement, I could go down an inch or up three. Because I like my sweaters loose and oversize, I chose the bigger size, especially since the upper arm measurement was better on that one. Then I gathered up all the tools I’d need for the project, and cast on. So far, so good!

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Of course, it’s just a straight row of garter stitch so it doesn’t get much easier! The only trick is making sure I keep track of how many rows I’ve done.

Then I set that aside to save the easy knitting for a concert I’m going to today, and revisited Miss Winkle. This one is a slow knit for me for some reason. Maybe it’s that so much of it involves knitting those 4-stitch loops. I do love how it looks but this isn’t my favorite thing to knit.

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After yesterday’s talk about gauge, I decided to check my gauge on Miss Winkle, and sure enough I have more stitches per inch than called for. But my skein has 120+ more yards than hers, and the pattern is designed to be knit until your yarn runs out, so I feel confident that this one will end well. I just don’t feel confident that it will end anytime soon!

I also took a quick trip to my LYS in hopes of getting the yarn I needed to finish my Hitchhiker Beyond, and got kind of lucky. They did have the right yarn in the right colorway, but as with most Malabrigo, there’s a lot of variation between dye lots. I bought my original skein while on vacation, plus I’d thrown away the tag (rookie mistake) so the odds of getting the same dye lot were slim to none. I decided I was okay with that if I could get the project done soon. So yes, my latest Hitchiker is complete, just not perfect.

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Yep, if you’re looking for it, the color difference is noticeable. But I certainly won’t notice it while I’m wearing it. I love the shape of it, long and more narrow than the original Hitchhiker, but after this and now with Miss Winkle, I might take a break from garter stitch shawls for a little while!

Other than that, my day was mostly like this:

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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:

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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!

Socks and a Sweater

The socks are done! I have my first pair of handknit socks!

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The second sock was a breeze, came off the needles quickly and without a hitch. I’m eager to do a pair in sock yarn now that I’ve got the gist. I’ve already chosen the pattern (Hermione’s Everyday Socks) and the yarn (Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock Multi in a purple/gray color). My only little hiccup was that it’s a little loose where I picked up the stitches on the side of the heel flap. Any tips on preventing that?

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And now that I’ve conquered my fear of socks, I’m moving on to my next knitting hurdle: a sweater! This hurdle has more to do with attention span than knitting. I have crocheted a cardigan, and I’ve begun a sweater in the past, so I feel confident that I CAN knit a sweater; I’m just afraid I’ll get bored with it halfway through and never finish it. But, like the socks, I’m ready to challenge myself. Plus I want more ways to wear my yarn. Plus I just want more sweaters.

First came the yarn. For Christmas, my mom gave me a cabled sweater from the Aran Sweater Market in Killarney, Ireland. It’s beautiful and so warm! With it I got a $20 coupon, so I browsed the sweaters but couldn’t commit. Then it hit me: Yarn! Yes, they sell yarn! I picked Charcoal and ordered 5 skeins.

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Next came the pattern. I had some in my library but they were either DK or bulky. After much searching, I found Harvest by TinCan Knits, one of my favorite designers. It’s top-down, no seaming, appropriate yardage, and has enough interesting bits to keep me from getting terribly bored with it. (I hope.)

Now I’ve got all my tools assembled and I just need to get going. My first gauge swatch (YES. I’m even making a gauge swatch!) showed that my gauge was too loose, even unblocked, so I reknit it in smaller needles. I think it’s still a bit loose but I’ve washed it and will measure again once it’s dry.

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I’m also hoping the Eucalan will soften it a bit. The yarn is…rustic, we’ll say, and not terribly soft. If Eucalan doesn’t help, I might try some hair conditioner. But even if it doesn’t soften as much as I’d like, it’s a cardigan and I’ll always be wearing something underneath it. It just remains to be seen whether that something will always have to be long-sleeved. And now, while I wait for my swatch to dry, I’m off to cast on a new project or two! Happy knitting, friends!

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!

Weekend Adventure, With Yarn

We took a baby road trip this weekend. We’re gearing up to start painting our house this summer and found some used scaffolding on Craigslist. The listings nearby kept getting snatched up quickly, so we drove about three hours to the southwest part of Missouri, near Springfield. It was gorgeous, green and hilly and lush. I do love it down there. Our destination was pretty rural, and I was delighted to find they had a nice menagerie for me to play with while the guys messed with the scaffolding. They had four dogs, three cats (that I saw; he said there were around 18), a bunch of chickens, a horse, and five goats. Molly, a “smaller” Great Pyrenees, was my favorite. She was so sweet and mellow, and I ended up sitting on the ground cuddling with her for much of the time. IMG_5851I really wish I could have taken her home with me, and they would have let me too! They said they got her to be a guard dog but she ended up being the runt of the litter. But for some reason my hubby thinks two dogs is enough. I know, what’s wrong with him, right? I did get him to agree that once he retires, if we move out to the country with a bit of land, I could have more puppies. Hooray! I might actually like that. I mean, I’m not very social and don’t like many people. I spend most of my time in silence and love it. I love the wide expanse of open land. Would I like it long-term? Not sure. I’d definitely have to be relatively close to civilization. So yeah, we have that to ponder for the next several years. Think about it: more puppies! Yay!

Okay, enough about puppies. How about kitties? We stopped at a few antique malls and one of them had this little beauty. She was a miniature version of a cat I used to have.IMG_5859Bonus: the hubby agreed that IF we moved to a country-ish location, I could have outdoor cats! (He claims to be “allergic”. Whatever.)

Of course I also found a yarn store while we were out and about, though we had to drive a bit out of our way to get there. It’s in Rogersville, MO, near Springfield, and it’s called One City Market. It’s in a cute little house and I walked in and there was a small room full of gorgeous worsted and bulky wools, like Lorna’s Laces and Vice Yarns and Baah! and Malabrigo and so much more. It connected to another room which had the wool fingering/DK weights, also yummy colors and brands, including some small indie dyers. I picked out two skeins, only two skeins, trying to be very very good and went to the counter…then I spotted another room. Oh, yes, she said, that’s the cotton blends, and some closeout yarns. Oh well. Crap. I descended into the rabbit hole of her closeouts. I mean, good grief, it was crazy good. Brands like Rowan and Cascade, and wool and cotton and more and more. It was all packaged together in ziplock bags, some with multiple skeins of one yarn, some with multiple skeins of the same yarn in different colors. And the prices? 65% off retail! So much for being good!

What did I bring home? Well, let me show you some pictures! And I’ll preface it by saying I’ve been playing with a new technique called the flatlay. I got the idea from Jem Arrowsmith Knits, who has been taking an Instagram photography course with Makelight and producing truly gorgeous photos. I’d love to do the course at some point but right now the budget says I can just play with a few of the ideas. I have TONS of scrapbooking paper for interesting backgrounds, and like Jem, I had a marvelous time collecting trinkets to jazz up my photos. Unfortunately, when I actually had time to take photos, it was so stinking dark from a severe thunderstorm that I had no natural light. So these are very rough beginning-stage photos.

I started with some Dream in Color Classy in Cashmere in color Charged Cherry, and it’s the hottest hot pink you ever saw. And soft, so soft and squishy. IMG_5871I got some Manos del Uruguay Alegria, a merino blend in a vivid neon rainbow. Yes, it’s fingering, but it will make a stunning Hitchhiker. IMG_5889It really is much brighter than it looks here. I kept this photo because I like the pieces together, but I’d love to re-take it in natural light.

Now for my clearance finds. I got six skeins of Cascade Sierra, a bouncy blend of cotton and merino, three pink and three orange. I can’t wait to knit the two colors together; I just haven’t decided whether they want to be a shawl or a lightweight scarf. IMG_5893

Pink is my color right now, apparently, because I also got a bag of SMC Select Juliette, six skeins in a dark raspberry hue. It’s 100% cotton and labeled bulky but looks more like Aran weight. IMG_5894

My favorite deal was a bag of 9 balls of Rowan RYC Cashsoft Aran. It’s mostly merino with a bit of microfiber and 10% cashmere. Soft? You betcha! And it’s a gorgeous red that will be fantastic for holiday knitting. I got all of it, 855 yards, for $28! WHEE! I mean, that could be a really sweater vest…if I had the patience to knit a sweater. (Spoiler: I don’t.) IMG_5895

I could have bought so much more but managed to stop the damage at that, and even that was more than I should have bought. Still, I’m delighted with my finds and can’t wait to cast on with all of it. And speaking of actually knitting, I did some of that too, and I bound off the Citron shawl last night! IMG_5888I was all “Meh” about it until it came off the needles, and then I realized how lovely it actually is! I love the ruffled edge, even if it is shorter than it’s supposed to be because I ran out of yarn. Again, the color isn’t true but I had to share it. Once I get the ends woven in and a day that’s not so gray, I’ll post a better photo.

Whew, this was a big post, wasn’t it? That’s what happens when I save it all up instead of doling it out in small daily doses. If you’re still reading, thanks for sticking around!

KC Royals Knitwear

If you remember, I recently received a request for some KC Royals-themed knitwear. The mitts were finished first, and yesterday I whipped through the four ear warmers. I have to say, they drove me bonkers at first. I’d made one for my friend as a gift, just improvised, and I needed to replicate hers. Well, I hadn’t taken any notes, and all I had was this photo. IMG_5817

I assumed it was 2×2 rib so that’s what I did, but for one thing, it came out WAY too big and the ribbing didn’t look like it matched. I set the first one aside and started over with fewer stitches and 4×2 rib. Still didn’t match, still too big. Frog, start over with fewer stitches. Finally, I found a recipe that pleased me: I cast on 65 stitches on size 9 needles and knit 3×2 rib with the yarn held double for a nice warm fabric. Six rows blue, two rows white, six rows blue. For the first one, I used Jeny’s stretchy bind off but that made it way too stretchy, so for the rest I just did a normal bind off and that worked just fine. After that, it was smooth sailing. For the last one, I did frog the first sad too-big attempt to reuse the yarn. Waste not, want not! IMG_5823IMG_5824I think they’re pretty cute! I’ve got about a skein and a half of the blue left, so I’m going to make some more fingerless gloves for my inventory. We’ll need them when the Royals get back to October baseball!

Happy Friday!

Forever Royal

Busy day means quick post this morning. Thanks to a friend wearing some fingerless gloves I gave her, I now have some orders for KC Royals-themed items! I need to make two pairs of gloves and four ear warmers in a week. No problem, right? Right! I got the yarn yesterday and got to work. IMG_5783Sat outside with the hubby and the puppies for much of the day. It was just a bit cool, but perfect with a hoodie. IMG_5785This nifty pail came with my Easter flowers. It had a glass vase inside which of course I removed so I could use it as an unusual yarn bowl. I love the handle! IMG_5791I needed to refresh my memory on the stretchy bind-off, but soon this glove was set aside and I started glove #2. IMG_5793I got through the thumb gusset before quitting for the night. I know, I need to do the thumb on the first one still. I’m going to pick up some 5″ DPNs while I’m out today which should make the thumbs much easier. Currently I’m using 7″ metal DPNs and they’re all right, but I think the right tools will make the knitting that much easier.

Gotta dash! Happy  Monday, friends!

Shoes, Shawls, and Cowls

Do you know that old song, Three Coins in the Fountain? For some reason I thought of that this morning, only my version would be Two Shoes in the Trashcan. (I really hope you sang that in your head.) Yes, Grace is feeling some serious spring fever or something, and has returned to shoe theft with a vengeance. She got one of mine yesterday (my fault: I left them downstairs, went to put them on, and only found one. The second? Outside in the backyard.) This morning the girl came down with a destroyed black flat. For the record, this is the THIRD black flat the dog has eaten, and this one was actually MINE. The girl and I wear the same size shoes and she loved these flats too and borrowed them often. She kept them under her bed, and it worked for quite a while. But apparently Grace figured it out. Oy. This dog. I’d let her run away but she’s chipped and they’d find us. (KIDDING. I wouldn’t really do that, as tempting as it is on some days.) Maybe she needs a new toy to distract her for a while.

Let’s move on to more fun stuff, shall we? After finishing the Hitchhiker, I needed a new project. Not content with just one, I decided to cast on two new projects yesterday. One is a shawl that’s been in my Ravelry queue for ages, the Citron. I saw one on Instagram the other day and it reminded me of it, and the grass green yarn I have is perfect for spring. It’s going pretty quickly so far. IMG_5747I’m using DK weight instead of lace, so it’s definitely going to be a full shawl rather than a shawlette. The yarn is Lachiwa by Mirasol Yarn, a 60/40 cotton linen blend. I think it will become a fabulous spring shawl. So far the pattern is fun, with just the right mix of plain stockinette and increase/decrease rows. I don’t think this one will take long to finish.

Second is the Kerr Diamond Cowl with some of my yarn from Knitting in the Heartland. The yarn is from Show Me Yarn, the booth that talked me into three skeins, and it’s the Cyclone base in a gorgeous purple called All Dressed Up. I got the pattern, which is a paid pattern, free with the purchase of the yarn. It was written specifically for this yarn; I don’t think I’ve ever made a pattern with the original yarn! I have to confess, I was a tiny bit disappointed when I opened the pattern and saw that it was knit flat and seamed. One of my favorite things about cowls is that I get to knit in the round. BUT. I love the look of the pattern, and it’s got a neat ribbed section that intrigues me, so I’m giving it a go. IMG_5746The turquoise is for the provisional cast on, not part of the finished piece. I guess it’s good I got to practice that. It’ll give me good practice on my Kitchener stitch too. I mean, it’s fine. I’m not afraid of it. I guess I’m just a lazy knitter who would rather knit in the round than seam things!

One more knitting thing: Stephanie Pearl-McPhee posted a blog entry about her time at Knitting in the Heartland, and at the top she included two photos of the audience at her keynote. Well, if you look at the first photo, in the second row on the left, right next to the wall, you’ll see me! I couldn’t figure out how to share her photo, and honestly I didn’t think it was a good idea anyway, so here’s a link to the post. There you have it, I made it to the Yarn Harlot’s blog.

And with that, I’m off to enjoy a second cup of tea, last night’s Grey’s Anatomy, some knitting, and a couple of puppies that aren’t really puppies anymore but will always be puppies. IMG_5742Happy Friday, friends!

Hitchhiker Done

I did it! I finished the fingering weight Hitchhiker! I only made it to 36 teeth, instead of 42, but it’s definitely a wearable length. Toward the end, I checked my yarn at the end of each row, but I used as much yarn as possible with maybe one yard left over. IMG_5721IMG_5725IMG_5726IMG_5727IMG_5730This is a gift for a good friend (she provided the yarn, I provided the labor) and I hope she enjoys wearing it! And honestly, once I got back into the groove, I enjoyed knitting it again. It really is a brilliant pattern.

Details: Pattern is the classic Hitchhiker by Martina Behm. One of these days I’ll get around to knitting on of her other awesome patterns. Yarn is Araucania Huasco, 450 yards of fingering weight merino. It’s lovely to knit with, and the muted rainbow is gorgeous. I used 24″ size 3 circs.

Happy Thursday, friends! Tune in tomorrow to see what’s next on my needles!

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Four New WIPs

I kind of went crazy this weekend and started some new projects. Not just one, a few. The first is my fourth Hitchhiker. This one is for a former co-worker and a good friend, someone who was kind enough to read my manuscript and give me some feedback. She picked the yarn and I’m providing the manual labor. Fortunately, she has very good taste. IMG_5404The yarn is Araucania Huasco, a lovely crispy Merino. It’ll be my first fingering weight Hitchhiker but it’s going quickly enough. Still, I got a bit tired of the skinny yarn and tiny needles and needed a bulky fix. So I started this. IMG_5548Simple beanie in super-bulky wool on size 15s. This was so super fast to knit…but the sad part is that I got to the decreases and realized I have no size 15 DPNs and couldn’t finish. Joann doesn’t carry them in the store, but thankfully we’re testing Amazon Prime so I’ve got a set ordered that should arrive tomorrow. But just that hat wasn’t a long enough break from the Hitchhiker, so I *finally* cast on for my Color Block Bias Wrap in Chateau. IMG_5547Um, this yarn is AMAZING. It’s a bulky blend of 70% alpaca, 30% bamboo, and it’s a chainette yarn so it’s incredibly light and fluffy. I don’t even care that it’s spring and I’m knitting with alpaca. I might in a couple of weeks, but for now, this will be fantastic evening knitting.

Finally, this morning the girl had an early morning orthodontist appointment to have her braces removed (hooray!). Early, like 7:30. On spring break. Ugh. Anyway, I had a bag ready to go, and in my bag I had yarn and needles to start a new hat. I’m thinking it will be for me but I always think that and I never keep it. Still, I’ll pretend. IMG_5549I’m doing another Violet Waffles hat and using HiKoo Simpliworsted, a bouncy squishy merino/acrylic/nylon blend. It’s one of my favorite yarns, and I think it will make a great lightweight hat. But seriously, hot pink is a really hard color to photograph.

I managed to almost double my WIPs in two days, but I’m okay with it. I now have a nice mix of projects to meet almost any need. I’m not sure how much knitting I’ll get done this week, having both kids home all week for spring break, but it will surely be more than the writing/revising I’ll get done (which will be none, I’m guessing). And maybe that’s just as well. I’m up to three rejections, and each one stings a little more. So it might be best for me to take a break and not think about it for a while. Today, I’ll do that by taking the girl on a belated birthday-shopping trip. Maybe I’ll take the hat knitting with me!