Rose Verde

There has been knitting going on around here, in small amounts here and there.  I have to admit, I’m a bit surprised I’ve been able to get any in at all. My hands are very full, but there is some down time while PB sleeps, or someone else is entertaining her.  I’ve also mastered knitting, computing, and moving around while she’s in a sling, which is very nice indeed.

In the last week of my pregnancy, I went on a cast-on spree.  I started some fingerless mitts, a beret, a baby hat.  You’ve seen the hat, and I just realized I haven’t taken photos of the mitts, but I can show you the beret:

Knitting this felt somewhat like a race against time.  I wanted to finish it before the baby came, or at least get through the meatier bits of the pattern. Fortunately, I was able to finish the cable charts before going into labor, which meant I only had the band to finish up later.

  • Pattern: Rose Red by Ysolda Teague (Ravelled here)
  • Yarn: Misti Alpaca Worsted Solids in C815, about 165 yards
  • Needles:  US 6/4 mm  and US 4/3.5 mm
  • Mods:  I wanted a more snug looking band, so I knit pattern as written thru row 64. Then I switched to smaller needles and did the following: row 65: k2, p1, p2tog* ; row 66: k2, p2* ; continued in k2 p2 ribbing for one inch, then bound off with larger needles.

Once again, I am pleased and impressed with Ysolda’s impeccible design.  This looked very complicated to me in the beginning, but she walks you through every step in the pattern, offering up both charts and written instructions.  The lace inside the cables was highly entertaining, and I loved working toward the next change to see how it would all come together.  It is also knit from the top down, which is quickly becoming my favorite way to knit a hat; not only does the pattern slowly reveal itself from a new perspective, it allowed me to customize the band at the last minute.

This yarn was also a delight to work with.  The alpaca is light as air, softly haloed, and the color…  Well, the color is a saturated grassy green, with a hint of gold spun in for depth.  While it did like to split on the needles every once in a while, it was great to work with over all.  It knits up into a light yet very warm and effective fabric.  I originally bought 2 skeins of this yarn, so now I feel challenged to use the other skein to make something warm and matchy to go with the hat.  Snapdragon or Veyla mitts, perhaps?

Day 19

I’m feeling a bit speechless about my Rhinebeck 09 experience this morning.  All I can really come up with are snippets, moments, and snapshots from the weekend to share.

  • It was cold, but not as cold or wet as we were all expecting.
  • It was crowded, and I had to shield the belly from a few eager festival-goers as they hurried toward the goodies.
  • Standing in line for the fried artichokes was totally worth it.  I got the “French” preparation.

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  • I saw a couple of bloggers I like but didn’t introduce myself.
  • Had a great time walking around with my friend Striped Socks and her mom.  They are excellent shoppers, and I had to restrain myself from sneaking a few of their skeins into my bag when they weren’t looking!

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  • We had our Verity hats photographed by Pinneguri.  She put together a gorgeous mosaic of Rhinebeck hats here.
  • Enjoyed seeing the multiple layers of knits most people had on.  I noticed a lot of vibrant colorwork projects this year and am now thinking of making Selbu Modern.
  • Met Ysolda Teague.  She reached out and petted my Ishbel, so I took that as an invitation to talk!
Ysolda as Bob.  She knit that in a week!

Ysolda as Bob. She knit that in a week!

  • Ate my first pumpkin pie of the season.
  • Only bought 3 skeins of yarn as a result of being indecisive and overwhelmed by the throngs of people.

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  • Met some great people at the Ravelry party, and saw some old friends there as well.  Got a goody bag!

It’s always exciting and comforting to be surround by your People, people who get what you like to do and understand what it’s like to be a part of that unique little world.  In my experience, Rhinebeck is the ultimate gathering place for these People who like yarn and wool, spinning, crochet, and knitting, sheep, alpaca, and Border collies…  No one asks why you knit, or judges how you buy your fiber.  We’re all there to revel in the goodness together, connect with other people who like the same things as us, and be inspired by it all.  Anytime I get to spend like that is a good time.

Verity, Verily

The smell of damp wool hangs in the air around me, a direct result of my impatience and excitement.

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  • Pattern: Verity by Ysolda Teague (Ravelled here)

  • Yarn: Valley Yarns Stockbridge in Light Grey, approx 165 yards to knit Medium size

  • Needles: US size 7/4.5mm circulars and double points

  • Mods: None!

I finished this gorgeous beret last night, washing and stretching it out over a dinner plate to block.  It’s been cool and breezy here, so I thought that it would be dry when I got up this morning.  Wrong!  So I moved it to a room where I could open all the windows and crank up the ceiling fan.  A few short hours later, and the body of the hat is dry, but the band is still a little damp.  That turns out to be a bit of a blessing in disguise.

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The blocking process stretched out the body in such a way that I think it has the perfect amount of slouch without being too baggy or droopy.  The dinner plate trick does little to stretch out the band, however.  So I stretched and pulled things into place before stitching down the tab and sewing on the button.  Now I’m wearing it so that it will stretch to be a custom fit over my own head.

The yarn was a good match here.  I wanted something versatile in color so I could get a lot of use out of the hat, and knew I had some of this yarn leftover from my Baby Cables and Big Ones Too sweater.  It’s a 50/50 wool alpaca blend in varying shades of pewter and silver.  The slight fuzziness of the yarn works with the charm of this design to make a really special hat.  In fact, I still have yarn left over.  Gloves, perhaps?

The entire time I was knitting this hat, I was picturing a fun, contrasting colored button.  Purple, teal, red, or black had all crossed my mind. When I started pulling button options from my ever-growing button collection, however, I was taken with this shimmery platinum button.  It’s a perfect match!

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I have nothing but good things to say about this pattern.  Right off the bat it’s stylish and easy without being too boring.  The knitting begins at the top of the hat, with just enough going on with increases and yarn overs to keep you entertained over the few hours it takes to knit.  And that band is a work of genius.  Bet you thought is was simple seed stitch, right?  I did too!  Turns out it’s a slip stitch pattern knit width-wise onto the live stitches of the hat.  This keeps the band stretchy yet firm, with a beautiful finished edge.

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I’ve never really worn a beret before; I was skeptical that I could pull it off.  I’m still not too sure, but this hat is so cute that it doesn’t really matter!  I’m off to see what other beret I might make…

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Moving On

In a flash I had finished another bib and realized that I had three bibs that needed buttons, ends woven in, and embellishments.  And once I had taken care of those details, the fever to knit cotton baby bibs was…gone!  And it’s a good thing, too, because I have a lot of other knitting and sewing I’d like to get done!

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  • Pattern: Baby Bib ‘o Love from Mason-Dixon Knitting (Ravelled here)

  • Yarn: Various remnants of Sugar ‘n Cream and Peaches ‘n Cream kitchen cotton

  • Needles: US size 7/4.5mm

  • Mods: Slipped the first stitch of ever row to neaten the edging, changed colors when the previous yarn ran out.

Once I got all of that out of my system, I was free to revisit the Tiny Shoes booties.  You may remember I knit a pair in leftover pink sock yarn, but they came out very differently and were not a matching set.  I put the whole project in time out, and after thinking it over decided to give it another try.

The right bootie had come out perfectly, so I set about knitting a 2nd left bootie.  The construction of these wee shoes is interesting yet fiddly.  Most importantly, the construction of the front of the shoe is slightly different from shoe to shoe as you are working in opposite directions.  So where the right bootie has a neat purl ridge above the yarn overs at the front of the shoe, the left is a new cast on that got a little bit stretched out.  While these two shoes are now the same size, the details are not exactly perfect.  Oh well, I’m sending them off to my expectant friend anyway. After all,

Handmade=imperfectly beautiful.

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  • Pattern: Tiny Shoes by Ysolda Teague from Whimsical Little Knits (Ravelled here)

  • Yarn: Holiday Yarns Flock Sock Yarn in Bubblegum, leftovers

  • Needles: US size 2/2.75mm

  • Mods: None.

Aren’t those little bunny buttons swell?  I have some angora yarn I’d like to make some booties out of, using these buttons as well.  Get it?! Fiber nerds we are…

Now I’m planning on finishing my Ishbel shawl and perhaps casting on some other single skein accessories.  I’ve been wanting to knit some new fingerless gloves, and I just bought the pattern for the Verity hat…Looks like I better get off the computer and start knitting!

Slow and Steady

As it happens, avoiding knitting the Coraline sweater has been good for my productivity!

This weekend I cast-on and finished one small project, and rescued a long-languishing work in progress from the pile and finished it too.

To be fair, I did take Coraline along to a cookout where she got to be with other knitting.

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Then I ignored her for the rest of the weekend!  As some of you suggested, a time-out for knitting can be a worthwhile exercise.  We both got some time apart to think about what we’d done, and in the end came back together amicably.  I have decided not to rip her out, favoring instead the “slow and steady wins the race” approach.  I will knit steadily on this sweater, when I feel like it, and not worry when my attentions inevitably stray to other projects.

Yesterday I pulled out a project that I started back in May with the intention of making it as a gift for an expectant friend.  The pattern is Tiny Shoes, another pattern from Ysolda Teague.  They are precious, fiddly, and somewhat quick to knit.  Who knows why, after knitting the first bootie successfully, it took me 3 months to knit the second?

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Sadly, one bootie turned out as expected: tiny, perky, and positively perfect.  The other one is more like the ugly step-sister of the first: loose, lopsided, and much larger.  A cute pair of booties this is not.

Sigh.

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On right: offensive bootie

So now I have to ask myself: is this a forlorn finished object, with one bootie destined for the compost pile, the other to dangle from my rear-view mirror as a reminder of what could have been?  Or should I wait another 3 months and knit a third bootie, hoping it will be of the tiny and perfect variety?  Either way, I’m lacking a knit gift for my friend, and if I’m honest I never want to knit this pattern again.

Coraline’s looking pretty appealing right about now.

For the Love of Ishbel

Ishbel turned out to be one of those projects that was impossible to put down.  Once I cast on last Sunday, I was a knitting fiend, putting in some time on a row or pattern repeat whenever possible.  It must have been the perfect storm of yarn and pattern, because both were equally pleasing to work with.  Ysolda writes a wicked clear pattern that was a joy to follow, and the Madelinetosh sock yarn kept me smiling throughout.

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  • Pattern:  Ishbel by Ysolda Teague

  • Yarn: Madelinetosh sock yarn in Lettuce Leaf, approximately 300 yards

  • Needles: US size 6/4mm Addi Turbo Lace

  • Mods: None.  I knit the size small as written.  See my notes on Ravelry.

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When I finished binding off it seemed small.  I knew that it would grow during blocking, but I wasn’t sure it would be big enough to wind around and wear like a scarf.  The pre-blocking measurements were 13 x 35 inches (depth x wingspan).  I soaked it for a few minutes, then pressed it in a towel and pinned it out on my yoga mat.  The dimensions grew to 18.5 x 38.5 inches.  It’s still a bit skimpy as a scarf, but I am really enjoying it as my new spring accessory!

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If I were to knit this again (as I am feeling wont to do) I would probably knit the large stockinette pattern with the small lace section, or vice versa.  First, I only used about 3/4 of the skein, and I loathe having that much yarn left over.  Secondly, it is just a little bit shy of wrapping around so that the ends dangle without sliding off over my shoulder.

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I love this scarf and would totally marry it if I weren’t already spoken for!

This was my first lace shawl, and I couldn’t be happier with the experience.  In the past when I saw lace charts I would instantly feel intimidated.  But there was just something about this pattern that spoke to me and said: “Don’t be afraid.  You can do this!”.  Maybe it was that the pattern called for sock yarn and started out in stockinette.  Or that I knew what all the symbols meant and simply needed to pay a little bit of attention every other row.  Most likely I’m just a more experienced and less fearful knitter than I once was, especially when it comes to lace.  Now I’m looking at some of my sock yarn with a certain lace lust that wasn’t there before…

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Now that it’s off the needles I can admit this out loud without ramifications: when it came to the lace section, I didn’t count stitches or use life lines!!!  ‘Cause I like to live on the edge like that.

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!