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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Hibernate

A ver long time ago I bought enough Rowan Purelife British Sheep Breeds Chunky to make the Rosamund's Cardigan from the Fall 2009 Interweave Knits. I couldn't get gauge. Even though the pattern calls for chunky yarn, it's knit at more of a aran gauge, and my fabric was practically bullet proof. So the yarn went back in the stash to wait.

I decided I really did want a sweater/jacket from this lovely rustic wool so I went to Ravelry to hunt up a pattern. I settled on Hibernate by Christina Harris. It's certainly not the most popular pattern on Ravelry (there are only 4 projects) but it had exactly what I wanted. Oversized, styled more like a jacket than a sweater, and in the proper gauge.


At least I thought it was the proper gauge. I was a very irresponsible knitter and did not knit my swatch. The yarn relaxed quite a bit width wise, so my sweater that was supposed to have 4" of positive ease ended up with 8" which turned it from cutely "oversized" to "sack." It's being modeled by my mother in these pictures, and it lives with her now. 

I cut it extremely close on yardage. I knew it would be close and figured I would do the sleeves last and make them 3/4 if I had to (how I thought I would live with a jacket with 3/4 sleeves I don't know...) Luckily, I had just enough to make the sleeves full so crisis averted. This is how much yarn was left over. 


The Rowan yarn is extremely "rustic" there is no way it could be warn next to the skin, which is why I think it's great for this pattern. It has lots of little bits of vegetable matter that was spun into the yarn and, while I didn't notice while I was knitting with it, the yarn is filthy. I washed it after I was done in my laundry machine (didn't use the machine, just filled it up with water and let the sweater soak) and the water was GROSS after the 30 minute soak. See.


The pattern has a few small typos, but overall was very easy to follow and I would recommend it for anyone who already has a little sweater experience under their belt. It's not quite as comprehensive as an absolute sweater beginner might need, but if you were adventurous and willing to look up a technique or two it'd be doable as a first sweater. 


I love the pockets. This particular construction was extremely easy and it would be a fun way to work in a pop of color, because you could do the pocket lining in a fun contrast color. I chose to do mine in some similarly colored Cascade 220 because that was the best option I could find in my stash, but if you planned ahead you could have some fun with it.


I know I say this about every project lately, but despite what my Ravelry account will tell you, this was actually an extremely quick knit. The problem was I just kept getting distracted. I knit big chunks of this in single sessions, but put it on hold over and over. This easily could have been done in two weeks with focus. I'm just really short on focus lately. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A long time coming

I recently cast off a project that has been on the needles since June of 2010. I think anyone who has been knitting for a while (almost 10 years for me) has these linger projects. Ones that get picked up, a few rows added, then put back down over and over. Mine is Scarf with the No. 20 Edging from "The knitted Lace Pattern Book," 1850 from the book Victorian Lace Today by Jane Sowerby. It's a book with extremely beautiful lace based on traditional Victorian patterns. 


I started this project right after I started working at Yarnia and made my first custom yarn blend.  I used one strand of silk, one strand of cashmere, and two strands of bamboo. Each strand was very fine, so the overall weight is probably a light fingering. 


The construction of this stole is quite unusual. The first scalloped edge is knit from bottom up like a skinny scarf. Then, stitches are picked up along the long non-scalloped edge and the middle panel is knit at a 90 degree angle from the edge. Next, the second scalloped edge is knit down the length of the scarf like a kitted on border working it together with the live stitches from the center panel. 


If you've ever used Yarnia yarn, you know it's not actually plied, each of the strands sit next to each other on the cone and the knitting experiences is like holding several strands of yarn together. This makes the risk of splitting higher than usual and and in a lace project where you're using larger-than-recommended needles it makes for slow going. I'm guessing that's part of why this kept getting set down--it took a lot of focus, and I just don't have as much time to dedicate to projects that need constant attention. 


In the end, it turned out beautiful. My mom claimed it the last time she was up, and it's a little fancy for my wardrobe so I didn't object. Every project in this book is gorgeous, so I will probably cast on another soon... and hopefully get it finished with less delay.  

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Saroyan

I took a major hiatus from blogging for almost a year. While I've been at it (more or less) since January I've mainly been relying on my backlog of knits from 2013 to fuel the posts. However, I've hit the point where I only have 4 well photographed finished projects left to show you. (Keep your comments about whether some of the other projects I've shown you have been "well photographed" to yourself.)

Finished in July of this year is my Saroyan by Liz Abinante. I've also made Liz's Traveling Woman shawl in 2009 and both patterns are great. I started it because I was going to be teaching a class on shawls knit side-to-side but it was a summer class and filling them is hit or miss. There weren't enough takers, so we had to cancel. I got 3-4 repeats in to learn the pattern, but stalled to work on other projects once the class got canceled.


It languished for over a year until I finished the last commute project I was working on and went rummaging for something that would be commute appropriate. I found the old Saroyan and after a few weeks on the train I had a new scarf.


The fun thing about this pattern is that you get to choose the depth based on how many increase repeats you do. and because it's knit side to side if you weight your yarn along the way, you can use up all your yarn. My version is 6 increase repeats deep, and 8 straight repeats in the center making 20 leaves total (counting the 6 decrease repeats on the other side.)


The yarn I used is Plymouth Yarn Suri Merino in the aptly named colorway 687. It's a blend of 55% alpaca and 45% merino and it's got lovely drape. My best guess is that it took just over 300 yards. I've already warn it a few times because fall is definitely in the air here. I'm one of those perpetually cold people, so a new wooly scarf is just exactly what I need. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Prototype

One of the designs that's been kicking around my head for some time is a pair of convertible mittens in fingering weight yarn so that they're not super warm and so that your fingers have maximum dexterity. I know I want them to be textured, but I can't decide if I want to do cables or a simple knit purl design. While I still have to figure out the details of the design, I think I've got the gauge and sizing figured out.


I love convertible mittens. You get the best of both worlds--the warmth of mittens, the dexterity of gloves--and free fingers for texting and turning doorknobs. I also put a "hood" on the thumb so that when you are in mitten mode you get maximum warmness.


I sort of used Ann Budd's glove template from the Knitter's Handy Book of Patterns, but made lots of mods (obviously.) Now that I've got the basic shape down, I can start playing with finding the perfect texture.


The yarn I used was Knit Picks Stroll in colorway Saphire Heather. It took just barely more than a single ball. I ran out of my first ball just as I was finishing up the hood of the second glove. I had to use maybe 20 yards from the second ball. 


I still need to figure out what texture I'm going to use and then who knows when I'll have time to write it up... I guess what I'm trying to say is there is no time horizon for the pattern release yet, but I'm one step closer now.    

Sunday, October 19, 2014

February Baby

As I mentioned in my last post, there were a few new babies born to my coworkers this summer. In addition to the little Harvest I knit for Megan's baby, I also knit a little sweater for Jason's brand new baby girl. Baby girls are such a delight to knit for because all of adorable details you can choose from--lace patterns, pico edges, bows, there's just so much. I decided on the classic Baby Sweater on Two Needles (February) by Elizabeth Zimmerman. The pattern is from The Knitters Almanac and is only about a paragraph long.

Zimmerman seems to be a lover-her or hate-her figure in the knitting world for her casual writing style and her "recipe" style instructions. Her patters do assume that you're bringing a lot of knitting knowledge to the table and she doesn't spare many words for the "how"--her patterns are all about the "what."


Unfortunately, this was the only picture I remembered to snap just before I gave it to the dad-to-be. It's on my messy desk under fluorescent lights. Lots of people were saying that using the recommended fingering weight yarn resulted in a newborn sized sweater. I wanted a 6mo size so I followed the same instructions but bumped up to a DK weight yarn. I used Socks That Rock Heavyweight. Color is unique. It was a mill end skein. The colors range from a medium gray to a magenta. I love the way it knit up. Girly without being overpoweringly pink. 

I did not add any buttons. I think open cardis look adorable on babies over a onesie, no potential choking hazard if they fall off, and (lets be honest) I hate sewing them on in the first place.      

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Baby Harvest

This summer we had two babies due around the office. Luckily I have an hour long commute each way on the train, so I was able to whip up a little sweater for each of them. The first was for a baby boy due at the end of May. Can I just say, there are way fewer adorable knitting options for baby boys. You're basically stuck with either super plain, or heavily cabled. I decided to go the plain route and chose Harvest by tincanknits. I chose the 6-12 month size hoping it would be big enough to fit when winter rolled around.


I used some old Knit Picks Swish left over from a different sweater project. Obviously machine washable is a must for baby things. The colorway is called Jade. It only took 2.5 skeins to nock this little guy out. A very fast and gratifying knit. The pattern is extremely well written for a free pattern. I would absolutely recommend it. It would also be a great first sweater pattern for someone hesitant to jump into the garment world. It's top down knit in the round so you can try it on as you go. Shaping is minimal and you end up with a classic goes-with-everything cardigan.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Warmish Release

It's been a long time since I published a pattern on Ravelry. I have lots of lovely ideas, just can't seem to find the time to work things out properly and make sure I write a good pattern. About a month ago I finally settled in and got one of my ideas down on paper. Warmish is now available for sale.


It's a beret-shaped hat that sits loosely around the ears and a simple dimple-texture pattern. It doesn't get that cold in Portland in the winter, so I don't like hats that are very tight against my ears and forehead. This is fitted enough to not fall off in a gust of wind, but not snug. However, for those who do prefer a snug brim, I've included instructions for using a smaller needle size on the brim to give a tighter fit. 


I knit my sample with one ball of Rowan Lima Colour in the creatively named colorway 711. I love the way the fiber blend (84% alpaca, 8% wool, 8% nylon) allowed for a lot of relaxation in blocking and really let the beret shape come out. 


To achieve the beret shape, blocking is absolutely necessary. The circular decreases happen quickly and the finished hat will look a little "lumpy" until it is blocked. I used a 12" dinner plate and got just the right amount of slouch. Some of my test knitters commented that the hat looked small when it came off the needles but after they blocked it, it grew to the right size. 

I always love to hear feedback (and constructive criticism) about my patterns. If you happen to knit this one you can leave me a message here or on Ravelry and I'll get back to you right away.