Saturday, December 18, 2010

Interesting Construction

I love projects that have interesting construction. Things knit on the bias like the Delancey Cardigan; things folded origami-style to get the finished object like the Baby Surprise Jacket; Things knit sideways like the spread spectrum socks... Coming up with a cool new colorwork or cable pattern is awesome, but coming up with a whole new way to make something is particularly amazing to me. That's why I loved knitting up the Kinetic Cowl over the past week.

Photo on 2010-12-14 at 22.30

The pattern is by Amy Polcyn and it's in the Winter 2010 Interweave Knits.This has a very fun construction. It's knit in one 116 inch strip and then the strip is seamed together in a big coil to make the cowl. The strip is only 8 stitches wide (and knit on the bias!), so I found that I could knit about a foot while watching a 1-hour TV show. Knitting this was great for working on at Yarnia because it was easy to pick up and put down as customers needed help.

Photo on 2010-12-14 at 22.31

The yarn is Coos Bay from Yarnia 72% Bamboo/Nylon 28% Wool. The bamboo/nylon has really long color repeats, making it a great choice for this project. My cowl ended up a lot drapier than one pictured because of the bamboo. It makes a nice fall/spring cowl, but it wouldn't be good for the really cold temps. Also, if you make this pattern, be sure to crochet very very loosely when you do the seams, otherwise you'll never get it over your head. I thought I was being very loose, but it was still a tight squeeze until I steamed it.

Happy Holidays!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Adam's Christmas present

My brother Adam does not read my blog, so it's totally safe to show you this. My brother is 20 and loves ridiculous hats. I've made him some pretty great ones over the years. This is the progress on the one I'm working up for Christmas this year.

Into the Woods

This came as a kit called "In to the Woods" from Knit Picks. The kit creates a Elmer Fudd type hunting hat with brim and ear flaps as well as a matching pair of convertible mittens. The kit comes with 4 balls of Wool of the Andes (100% Peruvian Wool) in Red, 2 balls of Wool of the Andes in Bittersweet Heather, 1 ball of Wool of the Andes in Oyster Heather, and 1 ball of Suri Dream (74% Alpaca, 22% Wool, 4% Nylon) in Natural. The Suri Dream is a halo-y yarn that is super soft and it is carried along with a strand of the Wool of the Andes to line the earflap of the hat and the hoods of the mittens.

I don't think this kit sold very well (I got it on sale) because I can't see many people wearing this in any serious fashion-y sort of way. It works really well for my silly hat needs though, so I'm glad it was offered. I'll make sure to post a pic of it being modeled after Christmas.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Away from home project

This spindling was started some time ago, but until now I haven't had a chance to show it to you because it lives at Ryan's house.


It's amazing fiber. It's from Abstract Fibers and it's 50% Merino 50% Yak. It's super super super (did I say super) extra soft. The colorway is "solid green" though I'm sure you can tell from the picture that it's beautifully kettle-dyed and anything but solid.

This lives at Ryan's (in my cupboard, I have a cupboard, I can keep anything I want in it, so naturally... fiber) so that I always have something to do when those inevitable timing snafus pop up. I'm a much more patient loving forgiving girlfriend if I can sit and spin while waiting for something. Especially if I'm hungry, if I'm waiting and I'm hungry, fibery things are the best way to stave off the Grumpasaurous Rex I can become (i think that might translate to "grumpy king of the lizards" which makes me smile.)

This fiber blend has been difficult for me. It does not have a long staple at all so I've had to try to adjust to shorter drafting, but there have been many dropped spindles in the process. You probably can't tell from the photo, but the spinning is actually pretty consistent despite my challenges. As you can see from the picture, I have quite a lot of fiber left to practice with.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


I finally cast off a project that has been on the needles for almost 18 months last night. I started my Mojo socks (pattern by Donyale Grant) when I fist moved into my apartment in August 2009. I got past the heel (they're knit toe-up) of the first one and it sat forever. Then I decided to buckle down and finish them in the spring. I made pretty good progress, got through the first sock and most of the way through the second. Then, for no reason, I stopped working on them.


This is how they sat for almost six months. They're so close to done! Usually when I get so close to the end of a project I get caught up in cast-off excitement and plow through to the end but not this time. They just sat. Finally, I pulled them out yesterday and knit the last 30-ish rows that were left.


The yarn I used was Regia Silk 4-Ply, which is 55% wool, 25% nylon, and 20% silk. They're black so as to be manly and also function as dress socks. The yarn is buttery soft to the touch, but it pills like crazy. It started pilling on the ball just from being taken in and out of my knitting bag. I probably won't use it again. Most pilling doesn't bother me, and I'm quite comfortable using my sweater stone, but this was truly excessive.

The bind off on the first sock seemed tight (Ryan was able to get it over his foot but he did comment on its tightness) so I bound off the second one useing Jenny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off which is exceptionally stretchy, but that's why the two cuffs look different. JSSBO has sort of a ruffly look to it... Ryan didn't seem to notice at all so maybe it's just something only detectable to the knitterly eye.


I made these complete opposites. One toe is knit side out, the other is purl side out. The sock with the knit toe has a purl heel and the one with the purl toe has a knit heel. This means not only can each sock be worn on either foot, they can also be warn inside out. I'm hoping this will make them last longer since the wear will be distributed differently depending on how they are worn.

Happy 5th night of Hanukkah.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

3.5 hour hat

Recently, Ryan misplaced his Cousteau hat that I made him last winter. He felt very bad and was very grumpy when he realized it had gone missing. I maintain that it is somewhere hiding in my tremendously messy apartment (no time for cleaning until after finals) but he's convinced that it's gone for good. Since we've been having sub-freezing temperatures on a regular basis here, I decided that until it turns up, he needed a replacement to keep his ears warm.

Photo on 2010-11-23 at 22.21

This is Close Knit Waffle Hat by by Leah Bandstra. The pattern is free and can be found by following that link. The pattern calls for bulky yarn and size 10 needles so it knits up very quickly, 3.5 hours in one night for me (while carrying on conversation and watching TV.) The pattern has a short and long option, and I chose to make the long because I prefer hats that completely cover my ears (probably should have consulted Ryan's preferences rather than my own, but he hasn't said anything about it's length and this way I can borrow it if need be...)

Photo on 2010-11-23 at 22.21 #2

The yarn is Knit Picks Swish Bulky in the color Hawk which was leftover from the blanket I'm making for Ryan. It is a 100% superwash wool. I love this yarn, it's so soft and squooshy. It does have ugly matted joins maybe once a hank though... I wish they would just tie knots instead of trying to do felted joins on superwash yarn, but at least they can be easily cut out and there's never more than one per hank.

Photo on 2010-11-23 at 22.23

Ryan does wear this, but he did inform me that it's "borderline girly." I never would have thought that a gray beanie would seem particularly girly, but I've been told that the texture of the hat seems to make it less manly... I showed him a picture of a cabled hat and he told me that it was "girly" as well, so I think he's adverse to pretty much all texture other than plain ribbing. If the Cousteau hat doesn't turn up in the post finals cleaning I'll cast on a new one (in gray again...) so that Ryan can have a hat he's truly happy with rather than one that just meets the minimum requirements of being warm (and gray.)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pushing boundaries

Generally, I would say that I'm not a superstitious person. I have, on occasion, been accused of treating the scientific method as a religion in itself. However, there is one superstition that I absolutely do believe in: the sweater curse. For those of you not familiar with the sweater curse, the basic premise is that if you knit a sweater for a man (or woman) you are not currently engaged to/married the relationship will end shortly thereafter. A couple of years ago, foolish young me knit a sweater, and a couple of months after it was finished, relationship over. I'm a believer.

So far, in my experience, it's only sweaters that are cursed. I've had no problems with socks, mittens, hats, scarves... They don't seem to have any relationship ending potential. So now I'm taking it to the next level.


That is the beginning of a blanket for Ryan. If it looks like the Golden Ratio rectangle, that's because it is. (Or at least it's supposed to be... I did the math myself.) Ryan is a huge math nerd and requested this blanket. I'm hoping that means it's safe to knit. Each new square is picked up from the squares before log-cabin style. I will surface crochet the spiral on at the end when I have finished.

The yarn is Swish Bulky from Knit Picks. It is 100% superwash wool. It was the only yarn line I could find with 4 shades of gray/black (Ryan's favorite color for knits apparently... everything I have made him so far has been gray or black.) Since this is basically a 4'x6' rectangle of garter stitch it is fantastically boring to knit, but I can work on it while I study/watch TV. Right now it's just under a third done, we'll see if I can finish before Christmas.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


In September I finished test-knitting Whirligig Shrug for Stephanie Japel. The pattern originally appeared in Interweave Knits Weekend 2009 but was only sized for babies. Stephanie decided to up-size it for children, and eventually plans to release an adult version as well. I volunteered to test the Child size 6 (in the hopes of getting a free copy of the adult sized pattern once it is released.) I have no idea about children's clothes sizing so have no idea what age of child a size 6 would fit. It's pretty cute though.


I used a DK weight yarn called Soft Sea Wool from Reynolds. It's 100% wool, so it may have been an impractical choice for a child's garment since it's not machine washable... Also, it's a 2-ply yarn so it's a bit nubbley and doesn't show off the seed stitch or the cables as well as it could. If I knit it again I will be sure to use a more balanced 3- or 4-ply yarn for smooth stitch definition.

I couldn't get a good picture of the front because I couldn't hang it and get a picture, but here it is flat against a dark background. (I figured kidnapping a child just to model handknits for me might be more trouble than it's worth, so you're stuck with this mediocre picture of the front.)


I can absolutely vouch for the pattern and say that it is error free (at least as to size 6) and very quick to knit. I found working the small circumference of the arms a bit tedious, but I assume it would be that way for any child-sized garment with arms. Probably this will end up donated to the charity that provides clothes to the homeless here in Portland.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Long term project

Compared to knitting, crochet is easily a "less-favorite" craft. It can be fun for making amigurumi which are usually pot-bellied and adorable, and I did make a pretty cute summer dress, but it's not my go-to craft by any means.

However, there is one thing that crocheters can make that knitters can't really replicate. Granny Squares.


I know some people think granny squares are tacky (and they kind of are) but I love the way they look. Recently I picked up 200 Crochet Blocks and started picking out blocks just to experiment/brush up on my skills. The yarn is cheap-o Red Heart mostly because it's cheap and machine washable so cat-hair accumulation won't be difficult to deal with. I'm using a pretty big hook (size K) so my blocks are coming out about a foot square. I bought 4 skeins, the three colors you see above plus a burnt orange. I'll make blocks until I feel I have a sufficient number for a good cozy blanket or I run out of yarn.

My holiday knitting has put this on the back burner for a bit (probably until after new year) then I will pick up the hook again. I really enjoy making these since each one is like a mini project in itself and brings its own feeling of accomplishment when finished.

Monday, November 22, 2010

One Christmas gift down

Last year I didn't do any Christmas anything until about December 20th because I was so busy with school. This year, finals go all the way until December 23rd (yeah! I know!) so I'll have to cram in cleaning, celebrating, and gift making/buying alongside my finals preparation. While working at Yarnia, I managed to whip up my dad's Christmas present in about 4 days.


This is the Windschief hat by Stephen West. This is my third Stephen West knit, and like the other two, the instructions were well written and the finished product looks great.

I used a pre-made Yarnia yarn called Santos which is which is mostly rayon and acrylic with a tiny bit of cotton. I wanted to go for machine washability since my dad is a runner and will like get this all sweaty and gross on a regular basis.


I love the color of this yarn. "Oatmeal" would be a good word to describe it, with just a hint of sheen from the rayon. I asked Ryan and he assured me that it counts as a "manly" color, so dad should like it.

I only used about 25% of the cone on the hat, so I'm thinking about whipping up some convertible mittens to go with it. One of the benefits of buying yarn by the half-pound cone.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Recently, I cast off another store sample for Yarnia. I made Akimbo since we carry most of Stephen West's patterns in our shop. All of his patterns are fabulous. This is the second one I've made (the first was Botanic) and it is well written and well charted.


The pattern calls for a fingering weight yarn, but I made mine is a DK to give it some more weight/size. I created the yarn at Yarnia. The main color is one strand of spice colored silk, two strands of pumpkin colored wool, and one strand of variegated cotton that changes from Dijon yellow to spice to rust to brown. The contrasting color is one strand warm brown alpaca, one strand reddish brown wool, one strand cold brown rayon, one strand warm brown rayon, and one strand cold brown silk.


I used size 6 needles instead of size 4 because of the heavier yarn I chose. The shawl grew about 20% after blocking which was surprising, I didn't expect plain garter stitch to grow so much.


This was a really fast knit, it only took me so long because I was mostly working on it in Yarnia when things were slow. Right now it's on display there to help give people some fall/winter knitting inspiration. It will come back to live with me in the Spring.


I would definitely recommend this pattern to anyone who wants to try a basic triangular shawl without also having to keep track of a lace pattern, or someone who likes to be warm, but doesn't like the look of lace at all. I am anticipating knitting many more of Stephen West's great patterns.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Another hat

Back in September I got my hair cut, and got bangs for the first time since the 3rd grade. I love them, I think they look great, they totally suit me. However, they do take a modicum of styling attention... not much, but some. However, as finals creep closer and closer, I'm finding the need to roll out of bed and get out the door quickly more and more pressing. Since I usually shower at night sometimes my bangs can end up drying in some pretty weird bed-head type positions, e.g. 90 degrees from my forehead. This has made me come to appreciate knit hats in an all new way. It doesn't matter what my bangs look like if I shove them under a hat and leave them there all day.

I've been wearing the Bashful that I made in August quite a bit, but as the temps have dropped, the drappy lacy open nature of the hat isn't keeping me warm in the same way it use to. Also, I just have the one, so it limits my clothing choices on bad-hair days to things that go with purple. So I decided to make another warmer hat so that I could have more all around fashion choices.


A quick Ravelry search led me to Slouchy Hat with Pico Edge by Jan Wise which is a free pattern. The first 25 rows are knit on size 4 needles, the rest of the hat on size 8s. This makes the part around your ears nice and snug but still lets you have the wonderful slouchy hat look. Other than a row of eyelets around the brim, it's mostly stockinette with purl rounds every so often to add a bit of texture.


On the day I took these pictures my bangs were mostly behaving, so I let them be in the picture. It is nearly impossible to take a picture of yourself that is both flattering, and shows off knitwear well.

The yarn I used was leftover from a pair of convertible mittens I made over a year ago. The yarn is Cascade Rustic 79% wool 21% linen single-ply. It's medium-soft to work with, but after you wash it, it softens up much much more. This hat took less than a single skein. I wouldn't use this yarn for anything other than "plain" projects though because I think the yarn would hide any texture/pattern pretty completely.


When I showed the finished hat to Ryan he said, "It looks Slavic." I would have preferred, "It looks pretty," or "Wow, you're a talented knitter," but I'll take Slavic. At least they know how to get through some cold-ass winters...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Another satisfied knitter

Back in August, out of pure curiosity, I cast on Elizabeth Zimmerman's infamous Baby Surprise Jacket. According to Ravelry there have been over 13,000 of these little baby sweaters knit. I'm sure the reason why is the interesting construction. The little sweater is knit flat in garter stitch (no purling!) and then two little shoulder seams are sewn, buttons are attached, and a sweater magically appears. Here is what it looks like just after cast off (the red stripe is the cast on edge the yellow strip is the bind off edge.)


The weird ruffled shape comes from what, as you're knitting, feels like completely incomprehensibly placed increases and decreases. Then the folding happens. Magically you have something that looks like a sweater.


The seaming didn't take long at all. The seams are sewn from the neck to the end of the sleeve on the top of the shoulders. Buttons took me a little longer. I ordered some great polymer clay buttons from Orly Rabinowitz on etsy. The buttons took a while to get here since Orly is in Israel, but they're so cute and work so well that it was totally worth the wait. Also, I got to procrastinate on finishing without feeling guilty.


The variegated yarn comes from a Knit Picks Sock Blank that was dyed for me by schknitz on Ravelry for a swap. I used two strands together, so it was basically a worsted weight. The contrasting yellow was added as an afterthought when I did the math a realized that I was certainly going to run out of the main color. It's leftover Encore Worsted from way back when I knit a baby sweater for a boss who is a huge Green Bay Packers fan. Here is what the Sock Blank looked like before it was knit.


Now that it's done I have no idea what to do with it... I don't have a baby. I don't know anyone who has a baby. I don't know anyone who is in the process of making a baby. I think I might donate it to one of the charities to support the homeless in Portland. It's starting to get pretty cold here. If Bear can be this cute in the sweater, imagine how adorable it will be when it actually gets wrapped around a baby.


Sunday, November 7, 2010


I'm so proud of this little project. It's made from my very first skein of handspun yarn.



The pattern is Cherry Garcia by Adrian Bizilia and it's free through ravelry. The second picture shows the color better, but the first shows the cable pattern. I only had enough yarn to make it two cables tall instead of three, but the yarn is so bulky it is the right height anyway.


I'm guessing my handsupn was only about 80 yards because some of it was so bulky. Here is what it looked like in the skein.


It's very hard to take pictures of yourself without making weird faces...



Also, with my face shape, a cowl might not be the most flattering winter garment... it sort of gives me that "fatface" look since it doesn't hug my neck. Fatface aside, I love this project and will be wearing a lot this winter as the temps dip lower.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Great hat pattern

Hi friends, I'm so excited that I can finally share this project with you. It's been done since August, but I'd been sworn to secrecy until the pattern was publish! (Well not really sworn, but asked politely.) This is Bashful, a new hat pattern by Marlaina Bird. I was lucky enough to be a test knitter for the pattern.


It took me about 3 days of mild knitting to finish this hat and it took just one skein of Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool (though I only had about 1.5 feet of yarn left). The yarn is 45% wool, 35% silk, and 20% nylon. It's nubby and squishy and wonderful. The nubbyness gives the hat a softer look. If you look through the patterns, the lace on some peoples' hats has a much more crisp defined look.


The yarn already has a lot of drape, but when knit on size 8 needles (larger than recommended for DK weight) the result is a very slouchy hat.

I'm always so surprised when I see what my nose looks like in profile!

This is my go-to hat when I'm having a bad hair day, which now that I have bangs seems to be way more frequent... I will probably end up making more in other colors because as it is I have to plan my bad hair days for when the shirts that match this hat are clean. DK is not the most common yarn weight it my stash, so I may have to go yarn shopping... Damn...


By the way, this is the 2nd FO from the challenge I presented myself with back in August... Clearly that didn't motivate me at all... Mostly because I've pretty much decided to buy yarn when I feel like it (without putting myself in the poor house). I live alone, I have 3 jobs, I answer to no one financially, and I can have a closet full of yarn if I want to!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Fiber Adventures

Way back when Sock Summit came to Portland I decided that I wanted to learn to spin. Student loan budgets being what they are, I decided to learn on a drop spindle. I bought the spindle and some fiber that looked pretty.


I didn't get to far with it though... I had a hard time getting a hang of drafting while the spindle was spinning and was getting frustrated. I later learned that Targhee (that's what the fiber was) is knowing for being trickier to draft and isn't the best "learning" fiber. I set it aside for a long time and pretty much gave up on spinning.

Then in August I got the idea into my head that I would tie up all my loose end projects. I got the spinning back out to finish it. Something clicked this time, and I blew through all the fiber and wanted more.

The end result is certainly not perfect, but it was quite fun to make.


This is 3 0z. (I used one oz to make thrummed mittens) of 100% Targhee wool. It ranges it weight from super bulky in places down to light fingering in others.


The color is much more like the top photos, a happy pink rather than the muted coral of the last picture.

At that point I pretty much decided that I was hooked on spinning and I jumped into the deep end and bought this:


That is a Babe Fiber Arts Fiber Starter Double Treadle Spinning Wheel. I bought it on eBay. It is made of PVC pipe and a wheelchair wheel. It is perfect for me. Cheap, easy to use and maintain, and pretty near indestructible. The cats have not been able to do any perceptible damage even though they are completely obsessed with the wheel. The wheel came with 8 oz of mystery wool fiber which I promptly spun up. It's way over-spun in some places and pretty thick and thin but it was great fun to make. I'm sure I'll just knit something to felt that way it won't show. I've been stashing fiber ever since.

Last weekend was the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival and I somehow managed to convince Ryan that it would be a good idea to take time away from our law school studies to drive an hour over to Canby and spend the whole afternoon looking at yarn and fiber. I think Ryan was expecting a few tables with a few piles of yarn on them since he still has a hard time believed that there are actually people in this world that get super excited over yarn and fiber. It was glorious. Every building of the Canby fairgrounds was packed with booths and the entire lawn/picnic area was covered with outside booths as well. There was easily 250 vendors present. I walked away with a fantastic new fiber stash and, this is the most amazing part, I only spent $75! Yeah for local products!



These are each 4 oz of 70% Merino and 30% Tussah Silk. The top picture is colorway Sea Mist and the bottom picture is colorway Red. This fiber is fantastic. I've heard the phrase "drafts like butter" bandied about on the Ravelry forums but with my Targhee experience I never really believed it... until now.


This is only my second wheel-spun project and it's so even. It's drafting down to almost lace weight. I don't know if I'll ply it or just work with it as a single, it's spinning so evenly it would work well as a single and I would have more yardage. I love the subtlety of this color. "Mist" is the perfect word for it.


This is 4 oz of 70% Merino 30% Tencel blend. The picture makes it look like its silver and that's because it is. Yeah, that's right, SILVER yarn. I don't know how the dye looks so metallic, but it's wonderful.


This is dyed by the same woman. It's 4 oz of 70% Merino 30% Yak. That's right, Yak. It's wonderful. It's harder to draft than the Merino/Silk but easier than the Targhee was. It's on my spindle now. I don't have a picture of it because it lives at Ryan's house so that I have a project to work on when I'm there. Ryan seems to understand that having something for me to work on at his place is necessary for keeping me sane.


This is 8 oz of 60% alpaca 40% wool. It's super soft and I love the earthy colors. This will be interesting to spin since I've never spun from a bat before, only roving.



These are 4 oz each of Blue Faced Leicester. They were $5 each. Amazing deal. I love the colors. They will make something fun to wear during the bleak Portland winters


This is so shiny it's impossible to get a picture of it. It's the softest thing I've ever felt in my life. It's 2 oz of pure silk. I don't think I'll be able to get any real yardage out of it, so I don't know what I'll do with it, but it's worth it just to feel the fiber.

I haven't really don't much knitting. I've finished one project since my last post... (and I can't even show it to you since it was a test knit and the pattern hasn't been released yet.) I have several projects that will only take an hour or two to finish but I can't bring myself to do the boring bits like weaving in ends, sewing on buttons, ribbing, etc. Hopefully, I'll get something off the needles this week that I can show you.