Of Silk and Wool

Here we have a birthday gift knit with some yarn I once received as birthday gift.  I call this good knitting karma!

For my sister V, a simple yet lush and lacy neckwarmer:

  • Yarn: Malabrigo Silky Merino in Archangel, less than one skein
  • Pattern: Fern Neckwarmer by Sue Granfield (free pattern download, Ravelled here)
  • Needles: US 8 & 9
  • Mods: None.

This is a nice little knit, simple yet satisfying.  I did have a knitter-error with a coupe of rogue yarn overs, but they fit right in and were not noticeable in the finished project.  This would be an equally good choice for someone wanting to try out a little lace or for a knitter with a bit more experience.  There’s an interesting bind off that I had never tried before call the suspended cast off.  It was fun and stretchy, as promised.  I really like how this starts out as a close-fitting cowl, then bells out a bit at the base; it’s perfect for wearing under a coat to keep the chill out.

The real excitement in this story is the yarn, Malabrigo silky merino.  I have been lusting after it ever since it came to live with me in my stash.  This was “special” yarn, something that was a gift from a good friend that I kept saving for just the right project.  I always envisioned something pretty and lacy, just never committed to anything.  So when my sister V admired it, I began thinking about knitting her something for her birthday.  It knits up light and lofty, and has this beautiful sheen; the colors range from a frosty pink to deep amethyst.  This pattern used maybe half a skein, so I have 1.5 skeins left to knit something lovely for myself.  Have you knit with silky merino?  Have any pattern suggestions?

 

S and V, ages 9 and 3

Happy Birthday.  I love you, sister!

 

On The Needles: An Update

A shift has occurred in my knitting this week.  I went from unsure about what to knit next to over-concerned about completing a few Christmas gifts.  This is why I didn’t want to knit for anyone this year!  I will admit that it feels very nice to have my knits requested by people, it also puts a certain amount of pressure on me to deliver.

So I have tried to set myself up for success by choosing projects that are achievable in the mere 20 days before Christmas.

Project #1

ankle-socks1

I am knitting these ankle socks with some Knit Picks Felici in Atmosphere from my stash.  You may remember that about this time last year I was attempting to knit the same yarn into a pair of Jaywalkers.  You can see how that ended up.

So far the pattern is clear and simple, with instant gratification from the beginning when you turn the heel.  It felt like I was halfway finished when in fact I was just starting!

Project #2

We will call this “Project V” for my sister Veronica.  She reads this blog and so I cannot post any pictures of her mysterious and wonderful gift.  I was told to not even post a picture of the yarn because she wants to be completely surprised!  But between you and me: if you want to see what it is, you can check out my Ravelry projects.

Project #3

bramble-neckwarmer

  • Pattern: Bramble by me.  Free pattern coming soon!

  • Yarn: Malabrigo Merino Worsted in Bobby Blue, 110 yards

  • Needles: US size 8

This was a leftover neckwarmer from October’s craft fair.  When my sister in law requested something handknit, this immediately popped into my head.  It is super soft, a little bit funky, and a beautiful shade of tealy blue that should match the Fetching wrist-warmers I gave her last Christmas.

fetching-2

Project #4

This probably won’t be finished in time for Christmas, but it is a gift so I thought I would include it.  If all goes well with the aforementioned projects, these could have a chance.  Fingers crossed!

undulating-rib-sock-progress

  • Pattern: Undulating Rib socks in STR lightweight, Pebble Beach

These socks have been resting comfortably in my knitting bag for a couple of weeks while I worked on my sweater.  I’m not happy with the stitch pattern, so with my mom’s permission I am going to rip back to the cuff and try something a little more flattering to the yarn.  You don’t mind, do you mom?

Project #5

garter-washcloth

Pattern: Improvised garter stitch border with stockinette stitch.

Simple, comforting, and satisfying, this has been my “knit in the dark at a musical performance when you think you;ll fall asleep otherwise” project.  I’m not proud of it.  But something happens to me when I hear some music performed live.  Broadway tunes, specifically.  I get indefensibly sleepy and yawn incessantly while trying to stay awake.

I know Sweetie will never forgive me for the time she took me to see Phantom of the Opera on Broadway and I fell asleep.  You may not either.  But let me tell you this: if I knew how to knit back then, and was permitted to bring a small, discreet project to occupy my hands and brain during interminable musical numbers, I may have stayed more alert.  Just saying.

Anyway, this isn’t intended as a gift, but it’s officially on the needles and this post is all about airing out what’s in my knitting bag.  So there you have it.

With any luck things will start flying off the needles.  Maybe I could catch a performance of Phantom this weekend and secure some additional knitting time.

P.S. I just scrolled through the post to change the font and noticed that all of these projects have blue in them.  I appear to be in a blue phase, and I suddenly want to cast on another project in hot pink just to combat the blues.  Who knows: after this weekend I may have another project to add to the list!

Have a good one.

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.

Anything but Knitting…

In a strange turn of events, I find myself in the unusual position of procrastinating working on my craft fair knitting.  It’s 9:30 in the morning and I have been baking, cleaning, and doing laundry.  Not knitting.  Anything but the knitting for just another hour or two, please!  So here I am, blogging.  Thing is, I’m not really feeling the urge to delve into a detailed post.  That means I’m also procrastinating writing about knitting.  This is bad.

Some interesting things I did this weekend instead of knitting:

  • Went on a double-decker bus tour in Manhattan. Didn’t knit for the 4 hours we were trapped.

  • Operated a spotlight for a musical performance at a local theater. Couldn’t knit: too dark.

  • Ate fast food in my car while listening to NPR’s ‘Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me’. No knitting while eating!

  • Saw a hot air balloon yesterday morning while walking the dog.  Wished I was in it not knitting.

I guess this means perhaps knitting shouldn’t be my full time job.  Something about having a deadline and selling my wares for money has me in a twist.  This activity that I turn to for relaxation, metal stimulation, and escape has become something I am doing for Others.  And that changes things.  Maybe it’s the rebellious black sheep in me.  Maybe I don’t like putting constraints on my knitting.  Perhaps it’s just wanting to remain selfish with this one activity in my life. But I just want to knit my way, dammit!

This is similar to how I felt during the Ravelympics in August; after about a week, I wanted to knit anything BUT the socks I had committed to working on.  Now I find myself making lists of the things I dream of knitting when this is finished. A Hanami Stole, a sweater, new socks, something lacy with that ball of Kidsilk Haze I have lying around…

Don’t get me wrong: I am thrilled to be participating in the craft fair.  It has been a fun learning experience, to be sure, and I am so glad I decided to go through with it.  But the last week or so has presented me with these new feelings, and I am really looking forward to this whole thing being in my rear-view mirror.

The above photos were of my hand-stamped tags I will be attaching to each piece.  The knit is a garter stitch neckwarmer I made out of a skein of handspun yarn from fuzzyfibers1960 and half a skein of Cascade Tuscany Grande.  With a vintage button, of course!

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?

It’s Raining Yarn

It’s a darn good thing I took the photos for this post a couple of days ago.  When I took them, the weather was that perfect autumnal combination of sunny and crisp, with a slight breeze sending the scent of dry leaves through the air.  Today, on the other hand, is a grim, soggy mess.  I came home from my morning yoga class to find that the power was out, and one of my cats had been stranded outside in the rain.  The poor guy is a longhair cat, and I have never seen him looking so simultaneously angry and pathetic!

A day like today takes a little of the enchantment out of the changing seasons and reminds me that fall and the coming winter will often be wet, dreary, and dull.  On a day like today it is reassuring to know that I have plenty of warm, colorful wool to keep me company.

  • Pattern: Grapevine Cowl, by me!

  • Yarn: Naturally Me DK (merino & cashmere) in shade 800, 1 skein

  • Needles: US size 9 16-inch circulars

  • Notes: This is the double eyelet stitch modified to knit in the round.

I had exactly one ball of this yarn in my stash, just 110 yards to work with.  It’s been sitting there in the yarn cupboard, patiently waiting for its turn to be knit up into something warm and luxurious.  And what could embody those two things more than a lacey neck sock? I only had a couple of yards leftover, so it was meant to be.

Instead of posting the pattern here as I had originally intended, I am going to hold it back while I work on a new addition to this blog.  Soon there will be a tab at the top of the page where you will be able to find all of my original designs.  This means that I have to take some time to re-knit from my notes, write out the patterns in knit-speak, and figure out how to best format them for use on this blog.  And then maybe I’ll even find the tech-savvy knitter within me and get them uploaded into Ravelry…wouldn’t that be cool?!

This weekend means new movies, time to knit, and a trip to the local fair.  I really hope the weather cooperates so that we don’t have to eat our corndogs in the rain!

Have a wonderful weekend, finding time for all your favorite things.

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.

The Comforts of a Warm Neck

Put me in Alaska with nothing but yarn, needles, a stitch dictionary and time, and this is what I come up with.

  • Pattern: Klawock Neckwarmer

  • Yarn: Malabrigo Worsted Merino, mystery color (does anyone know what this is? I love it!)

  • Needles: US size 8, straight or circular

This is the double Eyelet Rib stitch from the Harmony Guides Knit and Purl book.  It looked more twisted in the book photo, but in my version the eyelets are more apparent.  This was unintentional, and probably a result of my complete disregard for gauge.  But, I decided to use this as a feature: the eyelets are just the right size and stretchiness to double as buttonholes!  I love things with multiple purposes.

If you’ve been here before, you’ve probably noticed I am in a Neckwarmer Phase.  This is in part because I am trying to produce enough pieces to sell at a craft show later this fall.  But it’s more than that. The idea was born out of a desire to play with new stitch patterns, try my hand at design, and use up some of my stash yarn.  I also have a need to use buttons lately, and what better way that to button something warm and comforting around your chilly neck?

As that unmistakable chill of fall creeps its way into the air, I find myself longing for the little luxuries that are so necessary during the colder months.  Hot tea.  Slippers.  Soup & warm bread.  A jacket in the morning.  And of course, comfortable, warm, snuggly handknits.  It is my hope that others will find these neckwarmers not only warm and functional, but interesting accessories to brighten up a dark winter day.

This brings me to a question I have been pondering as I put my wool to the needles: what is my knitting worth?  This is not a new question, but one that must come up for each knitter, designer, and crocheter at one point or another.  Whether you engage in these activities for pleasure or profit, your precious time, creative energy, and yarn stash are going into an item that has value.  This value may be purely emotional; there is immense satisfaction in the process and completion of creating something handmade.  But when one contemplates putting her knitting out there for others to see and hopefully purchase…yikes!  What is my time worth?  How do I put a dollar value on this neckwarmer?

Wildlife, Wild Knitting

My recent trip to Southeast Alaska was a success in many ways.  This is a place I hold dear in my heart, a place that has retained its wonder and beauty for me throughout a lifetime of visits.  I have been fortunate enough to be a regular visitor since I was a child, spending summers on the water and in the woods. Going to such a wild place as a child jump-started my imagination, cemented a love for animals, and ignited my curiosity for nature.  This trip was no exception.

There was plenty of wildlife to keep me entertained when I wasn’t knitting or visiting with family.

The salmon were running, which had all the carnivores riveted, from eagles and fishermen to bears.

As far as knitting goes, I was able to get quite a bit done, both in transit and during my time there.  My sister and her hubby were kind enough to model these pieces:

  • Pattern: My own.  Details at another time…
  • Yarn: Malabrigo worsted weight, 2 strands held together, 1 skein of each color for hat
  • Needles: US size 8 circular
  • Notes: These were done with 2 strands of Malabrigo worsted held together.  I ran out of blue in the blue/pink one, so had to rip back to the ribbing, add a few rows, and readjust to calling it an earwarmer.  People wear these, right?!

My sister was a superstar knitter, finishing a hat and her first ever fingerless glove.  I didn’t get a chance to take a photo, but trust me: they were fantastic.  She is such a different knitter than I was starting out.  She doesn’t want a pattern to follow; instead, she lets the yarn tell her what to do, occasionally asking me “How many more rows should I do?”.  A fiercely independent and fearless knitter that inspires me to no end!

On the plane ride home I completed another neckwarmer.  I still need to block it and sew some buttons on, but here’s a sneak preview:

To my surpise and delight, I found 3 yarn stores during my travels.  More on that later…