Works-in-progress Review

The airing of the stash also resulted in an inadvertant airing of the unfinished objects.  I only had 2 forgotten projects lurking in the dark corners of my craft room: the Hemlock Ring Blanket and Juliet.

I started the blanket in the spring of 09, intending it to be a wedding gift for my friend that June.  The knitting was going smoothly, quickly even, until I got off track int he feather and fan section.  Somehow the stitch count was off and the motif wasn’t looking right so I set it aside.  I think I tried picking it up last fall when I was attempting to clear the decks before PB was born.  But the problem wasn’t resolved, and so it got shoved away again.  This is a lovely pattern, and I was knitting it in a luscious turquoise blue Malabrigo worsted.  I am again trying to clear the decks of all ufo’s before we move, and so I am faced with a decision: finish or frog?

The next project up for judgement is my Juliet.  I started this more recently in November of 2009.  The pattern calls for a bulky yarn, but I thought I would knit up a lighter-weight version for myself out of Berrocco vintage wool.  I did a couple of calculations, and got started knitting, figuring I could block the garter stitch yoke to gain some length.  Then, partway through, I noticed that this yarn is not entirely wool; in fact, it is 50% acrylic, 40% wool, and 10% nylon.  It’s not even mostly wool.  I don’t know how I missed that in the store!  To me, the name implied pure oldey-timey wooly goodness.  I don’t think I even looked at the label for the yarn’s contents, although I do remember thinking it was very soft.

Once the yarn’s true ingredients were discovered, I set the sweater aside, worried it would be too small if the yarn wasn’t blockable.  I was also knitting it on plastic needles because my size 8 Addis were otherwise occupied at the time.  When I pulled this sweater out and tried it on, I was pleased to see it wasn’t so small after all.  Granted, my bust line has increased since I started the project (thank you, breastfeeding), but I figure it’s meant to be worn open anyways.  I switched out the needles and have been knitting on it monogamously all week.  We are back on track!

I have also been plodding away on my Hamamelis shawl.  This is a lovely pattern, and I am thrilled with how it is turning out, especially in the lovely Madelinetosh sock yarn.  I’m getting hang of the lace patterning, and soon hope to not be so reliant on the chart.  Of course, I may be moving on to the next chart by the time that happens as I can be a little slow to memorize!

And lastly, I have some vacation sock knitting plans on my mind.  This BMFA Pond Scum will become Lenore socks if all goes well.  I’m choosing it for travel based on the fact that my friend Nutmeg Knitter knit her pair in something wild like 4 days, and that once I get past the cuff it’s a simple repeat all the way down.  Perfect for travelling, and the stop and go knitting that tends to take place while on the road.

Day 21

I am still in a baby-knitting, baby-making phase, wildly casting on new projects for little heads, feet, hands and bodies.  As a knitter I have this fantastic skill that must be put to use when trying to keep my babe warm this winter, don’t you think?  And because I have access to all this soft wool, Angora, cotton and such, it is my obligation and pleasure to knit up a winter wardrobe to warm the extremities of all who live here.  So in between baby projects (or every two or three) I plan to keep making hats and such for the grown ups.  Maybe it’s the impending cold weather, or the uncertainty as to exactly how much time I’ll have to knit in a couple months, but I’m sure trying to fit in as much knitting as I can right now.

In that spirit, I whipped up this little hat.  It sort of looks like a curled up armadillo, or a wee woolen helmet; picture a cute baby face in there, with the strap going under the chin.

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Pattern: Aviatrix by Justine Turner (free Ravelry download) 0-6 month size

Yarn: Malabrigo Merino Worsted in Pollen, about 25 grams or 55 yards

Needles: US 7/4.5mm

Mods: I did a few extra decreases to make a point at the end of the strap.

This pattern challenged my ability to trust the instructions and just knit along.  I wasn’t sure how it was going ot turn into a hat, nor was I sure about the whole “wrap and turn” business.  After getting started and being inexplicably confused, I pulled the thing out at knitting night and lamented. Phrases like “Why exactly do you have to bring the yarn to the front and then turn?” and “But it leaves a strand across the stockinette stitches and that looks weird!” left my mouth more than once.  I was reassured and encouraged to just keep going.

Of course, when I got home I stalked every finished Aviatrix hat on Ravelry to see if they had the same lumps, bumps and holes I did.  I could definitely tell on other hats where the wraps happened, but they are more camouflaged in tweedy or semisolid yarns.  Here’s mine up close and dirty.  Any suggestions?

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This is the most accurate photo for color

Aside from what may only be a cosmetic imperfection, I am really pleased with how this hat turned out.  It seems impossibly small, and I find myself wondering if a baby so tiny needs a hat with a chin strap.  Seems more useful when they get bigger and want to rip the knits off their heads!  It’s really a great excuse to use a button, and I am always looking for such an opportunity!

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What’s your favorite baby knit?

Day 10

This is a pattern I acquired somewhere along the way in my knitting life.  I think I got the printout in a stash swap last winter, but I can’t be sure.  Regardless of where it came from, I’m glad that it made it into my queue of projects.  As a quick, stash-busting accessory, these handwarmers can’t be beat.  I knit these up in an hour or so each.

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  • Pattern: Waffle Stitch Fingerless Gloves by Jill Toporkiewicz (Ravelled here)
  • Yarn: Malabrigo Merino Worsted in Amaroso, about 50 yards
  • Needles: US Size 7/4.5mm
  • Mods: None.  Next time I might try knitting them in the round so that I can make a thumb and avoid seaming!

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This yarn had already been knit into a finished object once.  Then, after I had never worn the neckwarmer, I decided to frog it for the yarn.  Malabrigo is too lovely a yarn to let sit in a stagnant finished object!  I think I’ll get much more use out of these handwarmers, and I still have plenty of yarn left to see about a matching hat.

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Why is it that when I use the self timer on my camera, it insists on focusing on the background instead of the lovely knitting?!

Day 5

I had the good fortune to make a trip to Webs over the weekend with Nutmeg Knitter.  We had been invited for a small Ravelry/Malabrigo Junkies meetup, and decided to go for it!

MalGal Meetup 09

MalGal Meetup 09

Back row from left: Jettachicky, Nina’s daughter, NinaKnits, NutmegKnitter, PeacefulKnitter

In front from leftMarymealittle, and rchrispy

Unfortunately for me, I had two things working against me: pregnancy brain, which limits one’s ability to retain details and make decisions; and no clear idea of what I wanted to buy.  Usually I go on outings to Webs with a list of projects that I am looking to make and the potential yarns to knit them with.  I have been trying somewhat unsuccessfully to come up with a color combination I like for the Ulmus shawl, so I thought I”d scope out some other options.  Sadly, I stood in front of the display of Malabrigo sock yarn, a yarn I just knit Ishbel with and loved, and felt underwhelmed.  Individual skeins looked beautiful, but my mushy mind wouldn’t allow me to see any real potential combinations.

I did not come out of there empty-handed, of course.  There was a book that caught my eye, so I bought the yarn to make one of the patterns.  Then I just sort of stashed a couple of basics that I figured I would have a use for somewhere down the line.

Malabrigo Sock in Ochre

Malabrigo Sock in Ochre

Rowan Purelife in Ecru & Brown Undyed BFL

Rowan Purelife in Ecru & Brown Undyed BFL

Misti Int'l Baby Alpaca in color 815

Misti Int'l Baby Alpaca in color 815

Berroco Vintage Wool in color 5103

Berroco Vintage Wool in color 5103

Looks like I didn’t have any problem buying stuff, especially since I had a store credit (frogging Coraline literally paid off in unused yarn)!

By the way, today is pajama, laundry and knitting day.  Tomorrow I’ll have a finished object to share!

Weekend Knitting Progress

It was a good weekend for starting and making good progress on new projects.  I love the feeling of excitement when I get interested in a new pattern.  I start dreaming about knitting it, stalking finished objects on Ravelry, imagining what yarns I could make it in…

Sometimes this process is satisfying enough that I already feel like I have knit the pattern.  More often than not, however, it only creates a need to knit it immediately, no matter what else I already have on the needles.

Such was the case for the past week with Ishbel, the lovely new shawl from Ysolda Teague.  I love much of her work, but have never actually knit one of her designs.  Yesterday, after days of dreaming and planning, I finally purchased the pattern (okay, I got the ebook and the hard copy…Easter present?).  I immediately wound up a skein of Madelinetosh sock yarn in Lettuce Leaf, a bright acidic green perfect for spring knitting.

I thought I could wait to cast on, but decided about to do so about 1/2 an hour before going to my Sunday afternoon knitting group.  And after a few hours of knitting, I have finished the stockinette section:

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Ishbel is my first shawl, so it’s fun to watch it grow from a tiny 3-stitch cast on to something resembling a shawl.  Now I’m gathering my wits to get started with the charted lace pattern.  I’m not exactly a novice in this department, but still green enough to have some reservations.  Thank goodness for the help of those who have gone before me!

On Saturday (pre-Ishbel frenzy) I sat down with my Hemlock Ring blanket.  I started this a week or two ago, but didn’t get very far.  It requires a bit of focus, and I just wasn’t in that sort of mood.  I knit a stockinette sock instead, much more my speed at the time.  But on Saturday the mood struck, and I made a few inches of progress.  It’s so fun!

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This should be an interesting project to watch change and grow. I have 4 balls of Malabrigo yarn to devote to it, and will cast off when I’m about out of yarn.  It’s only once the whole thing is off the needles that I will know exactly how big it has gotten.

So, that’s what I’ve got on the needles at this moment.  Something about the sunshine, blooming flowers, and feeling like a fresh start has me wanting to cast on about 87,000 new projects!

Sister Knits

A trip to Idaho also meant that I got to exchange holiday gifts with my family.  My sister and I each knit something for the other, and now that she has received her gift I can write openly about what a pain in the neck it was.  But first, her gift to me:

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Remember when V was first learning to knit?  She was immediately a fearless knitter, and her transition into knitting in the round without a pattern has impressed me to no end.  I am proud to be the recipient of such fine handiwork, and have been wearing this hat daily.  It’s doing a fine job of keeping the wind out of my ears on my daily dog walks.  Did you know hand knit hats were so effective at that?  Really, I should knit some more.

Before Christmas, I decided that I wanted to knit V a garment of some sort.  Time was running short by the time I was actually ready to get started, so I decided to knit something based on what I already had in my stash.  This may have been my first mistake.  You see, I do not really keep large quantities of a single color or type of yarn in my stash.  So you would think that if I were intending to make a garment, I would have considered that fact and gone yarn shopping.  But no.  I thought I knew better.

When contemplating what to knit, I thought back to the summer when I knit up a little shrug for myself.  I remembered my sister admiring it.  I had a skein of Malabrigo in Cuarzo, a lovely variegated purple, one of her favorite colors.  That’s it: knit her a shrug like mine!

vers-shrug

I loosely of followed the pattern for the Cropped Raglan Sweater (available free here), casting on 90 stitches on size 9 needles.  I followed the recipe for the increases, knitting until the sleeves seemed “long enough”.  Very precise, I know.  Then I put them on waste yarn and started knitting the body of the shrug.  This went along fine for a bit, until I noticed that my ball of yarn had diminished significantly.

Uh-oh.

The sweater was only about 2 inches long from the underarm, and I knew I wanted it to have a little more substance than that.  I Estimated the amount of yarn I had left, leaving me with the certain knowledge that I would not have enough to make this a reasonable shrug.  Remaining stubborn about buying yarn, I searched the stash for a comparable yarn that I could use to accent the ribbing on the hem and cuffs.  After trying different color combinations, I decided to go with some Paton’s Jet in color 203, a close match to the pink hues in the Malabrigo.

I knit on the body until I was very nearly out of yarn.  Then I switched to the contrasting color and knit a ribbed band.  The colors seem to work well together, but where the real rub comes is the difference in texture between Malabrigo and the Jet.  One is like marshmallows, the other granola.  Both are good individually, but together they only seem to take away from each other.  In any case, it was still a wee shrug.

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So I blocked the hell out of it!  It only grew about an inch at most in any one direction.  And when I tried it on, my denial was no longer able to convince me of success.  Sure, I had a finished object, but at what cost?

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I like to wear a funky piece of clothing now and then, but I just couldn’t see how this was going to fit into my sister’s wardrobe.  I decided to give it to her anyway, letting her decide what to do with it.  Perhaps there’s a small child she knows.  Or, if she loved the yarn, I could help her take it apart and rewind it into a ball.  Anything to have it off my hands.

V received the shrug-ette with grace and said she liked it.  Of course, she never tried it on in front of a camera…

These disappointments are bound to happen from time to time.  They occur as a way of challenging us to listen to our knitter’s intuition.  There were several points where I knew I was not going to be satisfied with the end result, and yet I knit on.  I spent time knitting something I wasn’t proud of, time I could have put to better use.  How often do we do this in other aspects of our lives, I wonder?

Owl Cowl & Neckwarmer

Introducing 2 free patterns!  And it’s already on Ravelry, so queue it up!

This simple stitch pattern can be worked flat or in the round to create 2 different pieces.  It uses less than one skein of Malabrigo and knits up fast.

grapevine-cowl3 (yarn shown: Naturally Handknit Me by Nashua)

Materials:
Malabrigo Merino Worsted, 1 skein or 110 yards of any worsted weight yarn
Size 8 needles (16-inch circular for cowl pattern)
1 stitch marker
Tapestry needle
3 buttons no more than 1-inch in diameter for neckwarmer pattern

Finished Measurements:
Neckwarmer:  5 inches wide 26 inches long after blocking
Cowl:  5 ½ inches tall, 24 inch circumference after blocking

Abbreviations:
CO—Cast on
K—knit
P—purl
Sts—stitches
Yo—yarn over; bring yarn to the front of your work
Sl1—slip one stitch as if to knit
Psso—pass slipped stitch over the knit stitch
BO—bind off

Notes:
This stitch pattern is a simple 4-row repeat.  You can easily adjust the circumference or height of your piece by adding or subtracting stitches as stated for each pattern.  Similarly, these patterns can be adjusted to work with just about any yarn by changing needle sizes and amount of stitches cast on.  Use your favorite yarn and have fun!

Neckwarmer
Multiple of 7 + 2 stitches

orange-owl (Malabrigo merino worsted)

Using the Long Tail cast on, CO 135 stitches.

Row 1:  K2 * P5, K2 * repeat from * to last 2 sts, K2
Row 2: P2 * K2tog, yo, K1, yo, sl1, K1, psso, P2 * repeat from * to last 2 sts, P2
Row 3: same as row 1
Row 4: P2 * K5, P2 * repeat from * to last 2 sts, P2

Repeat rows 1 thru 4 until piece measures 4 ½ inches from CO edge, or until desired width, ending with row 4.  Bind off loosely in pattern.  Weave in ends.  Gently block to open up the eyelet details.  Position buttons vertically on the right side of the fabric in the purl fields, every other eyelet hole.  The eyelets will become the buttonholes; place the buttons so the neckwarmer will fit you as snugly or loosely as you care for.

owl-cowl-buttons

Cowl
Multiple of 7 stitches

owl-cowl (Valley Yarns Sugarloaf)

Using the Long tail cast on and circular needles, CO 126 stitches.

Join to knit in the round, being careful not to twist your stitches.  Place a stitch marker here to indicate the beginning of the round.

Row 1: P2 * K5, P2 * repeat from * to last 5 stitches, K5
Row 2: same as row 1
Row 3: P2 * K2tog, yo, K1, yo, sl1, K1, psso* rep to marker
Row 4: same as row 1

Repeat rows 1 thru 4 until piece measures 4 inches from CO edge, or until desired width, ending with row 4.  Bind off loosely in pattern.  Weave in ends.  Gently block to open up the eyelet details.

***

I hope you enjoy these patterns.  As always, please let me know if you come across anything that is unclear and I will correct it as soon as possible.

Ribbed for Your Warmth

I am still hard at work on my collection of neckwarmers, neck socks, cowls, and little scarf thingies for the upcoming craft fair.  Only 10 days to go–yikes!  This is one of my new designs, born out of a desire to knit something simple and quick but with some visual interest.  Inspired by the subtle beauty of this sage green yarn, I cast on a simple rib pattern, staggering the ribs as it grew.

  • Pattern: Ribbed for Your Warmth, now available on Ravelry!

  • Yarn: Malabrigo worsted merino in Vetiver, approx 100 yards

  • Needles: US size 8 16-inch circulars

Ribbed for Your Warmth

Materials:

Approximately 100 yards of the softest worsted weight yarn you can find.

US Size 8 16-inch circular needles, or size needed to get a cozy gauge.

1 stitch marker & a tapestry needle

  • Cast on 120 stitches.

  • Join stitches to knit in the round, placing a marker to indicate the beginning of the round.

  • K2 P2 to marker.  Repeat for a total of 10 rows in pattern.

  • P2 K2 to marker.  Repeat for a total of 10 rows in pattern.

  • Repeat these 2 instructions twice (for a total of 40 rows) and bind off loosely.

  • Use tapestry needle to weave in ends.

If you want your cowl to be a little larger, repeat pattern until desired length.  I made mine with 50 rows and it is long enough to tuck into your coat and still have plenty of warmth around the neck.  To adjust the circumference, simply add or subtract stitches in multiples of 4.

Knitters love our cats, don’t we?

Garter Stitch Neck Sock

I have been working feverishly on new neck warmer and cowl designs.  A few have turned out great, others have been frogged, and still more are in my head waiting to be knit.  Last week I was frustrated when, after what seemed like endless hours of knitting, I had no finished objects.  So I decided to cast on this instant gratification cowl, er neck sock, to help boost my knitting confidence.

This pattern is easy, satisfying, and a great way to show off the texture and color of this bulky yarn.  What better way to use a single skein of yarn to create a new accessory to help take the chill out of fall?

  • Pattern: Garter Stitch Neck Sock, by me!

  • Yarn: Malabrigo Bulky, in Charruro, 1 skein

  • Needles: US size 9 16-inch circular

  • Notes: This pattern can be adapted to use just about any yarn or needle size.  Simply increase or decrease the number of stitches you cast on.  Mine measures just under 6 inches wide, and 22 inches around before blocking.  It stretches easily over my head and sits away from my neck slightly.  Modify number of cast on stitches if you would like yours closer or farther away from the neck.

Garter Stitch Neck Sock by Peaceful Knitter

Using size 9 16-inch circular needles and a bulky yarn:

Cast on 82 stitches.

Join to work in the round, placing a marker to indicate the beginning of the round.

K2, P2 to marker

P2, K2 to marker

Repeat these 2 rows once more, or until piece measures 1 inch long.

Knit to marker.

Purl to marker.

Repeat these 2 rows until piece measures 4.5 inches from cast on edge.

K2, P2 to marker.

P2, K2 to marker.

Repeat these 2 rows twice more, or for 1 inch (match the first band of double moss stitch)

Bind off loosely.  Weave in ends.  Block if desired.  Wear it to keep warm and stylish!

And, for those of you who have been wondering about my fish babies, here’s an action shot:

They are fast, tiny, and very difficult to photograph.  I am happy to report that I have only had one casualty, and am raising a healthy dozen or so Goldust Mollies.

Friendship

I have been thinking a lot about friendship this week.  Since college I have moved several times, leaving friends behind each time.  These people are very important to me, yet as time passes and the miles apart seem to grow, it gets harder and harder to maintain close relationships.  I tend to put a lot of energy into my local friends, as they are the ones I can see face to face on a regular basis.  But lately, I have found myself struggling to find a balance.  The balance between old and new, giving and receiving, supporting and receiving support…  I feel as if I have been letting people down lately; I also feel let down by others.  This leaves me feeling stranded, unsure of how to mend these relationships.

How do you nurture your friendships?  Old friends, new friends, acquaintances and family: where do they fit into your life?  How do you let your friends know you value their friendship?  How much do you share of yourself and your time?  Do you expect reciprocity in actions or concern?

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say on the matter:

Friendship is “…a relationship which involves mutual knowledge, esteem, and affection and respect along with a degree of rendering service to friends in times of need or crisis. Friends will welcome each other’s company and exhibit loyalty towards each other, often to the point of altruism. Their tastes will usually be similar and may converge, and they will share enjoyable activities. They will also engage in mutually helping behavior, such as exchange of advice and the sharing of hardship.”

We went to our local cineplex’s $5 movie night last night to see The Women.  If friendship was on my mind before, it is at the forefront after seeing this movie!

This is my latest neckwarmer design.  It is based on the centipede stitch in the Harmony Guide’s Knit and Purl book.  The alternating columns of knit and garter stitch give it structure and symmetry, two things that really appeal to my sensibilities, especially in a time of uncertainty.

  • Pattern: Centipede Stitch Neckwarmer

  • Yarn: Malabrigo Worsted merino, mystery color, about 3/4 a skein

  • Needles: US six 6 straight or circular

  • Notes: This measures about 25 inches long and 7 inches wide.  I created two sets of button holes, the first is 1.5″ from the edge, the second is 7″ from the edge.  They are all 3 stitches wide each on alternating knit columns.  This way the neckwarmer can be worn snugly around the neck or more loosely.

Call a friend today and let her know how important she is to you.