FO Spotlight: Pinecrest Hat

This hat has been done for a little while now. However, I didn’t have the opportunity to get a modeled pic until yesterday. This was a quick little test knit for Taiga Hilliard aka cashmerejunkie.

The rundown

Pattern: Pinecrest Hat (not yet published)

Yarn: 75 yards of Mary by Goddess Yarns, aran weight, 50% wool, 50% viscose.

Size made: Baby

Needles: US6s for the body and 5s to cast on.

Techniques used: Longtail cast on, cabling

Modifications: None

Ravelled: here

The Pretty

It was hard to get decent pics of this project. My phone likes to remove yellow shades so the teal looks a little bluer than it actually is. Also, due to the viscose content in the yarn, there’s a bit of shine to it that works really nicely with the cables. I love the clean lines of this design. The twisted rib cables look very svelte and precise and the leaf detail adds just enough curve to the look for interest. The yarn I used is very splitty and at first it was challenging. However, once I got going it was fine. It ended up being a good choice.

I don’t think I’d do anything differently if I made this again. It would work with many different kinds of yarn. Anything with a fairly consistent weight (i.e., not thick and thin) that shows stitch definition well would work. The pattern includes sizes newborn through large adult, so this would be a good hat for just about anybody!

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FO Spotlight: Boot Cuffs for V Day

Okay, folks, I’m not big on Valentine’s Day. I’m not trying to be a scrooge or to rain on anyone’s love parade or anything. I’m pro-love and pro-expression-of-said-love. I’m just not on board with a more or less commercially born holiday that dictates when I must do this. However, I do live in this world and I am married to someone more fond of Valentine’s Day than I am*. So, since I love the wifey, I mustered up a little participation this year. She asked for some boot cuffs so I found a couple of patterns I thought looked good, matched up some yarn possibilities, and put my test knitting on a brief hold and made the woman some boot cuffs.

The rundown

Pattern: UGG HUG Boot Toppers by Alexandra Davidoff

Yarn: Just under one skein of Cascade 220. This particular color reeeeeally looks like Quatro, but isn’t. The label doesn’t say one thing about Quatro, just 220. I half wonder if it predates Quatro as the label looks like one of the old ones. The yarn came to me as part of my recent freecycle haul.

Size made: One (adult)

Needles: US8s for the body and 11s for the bind off

Techniques used: Longtail cast on, standard cast off, cabling

Modifications: Omitted one row in the initial ribbing (by mistake on the first one, noticed it on the second) and omitted one row in the final ribbing (on purpose to come in under 220 yards).

Ravelled: here

The Pretty

The close up pic shows the colors more accurately. I do like how these turned out, however they are a little on the loose side. I didn’t check gauge as I figured there’d be enough stretch to the pattern that it wouldn’t matter a ton if it wasn’t exactly right. There is stretch to it, but not a ton of recoil. The ribbing/cable pattern is 4×4 so there’s not as much recoil as there would be with a 1×1 or 2×2 rib and I didn’t take that into account. I will try to block them again and see if I can scrunch the ends up a bit and convince them to be a little stretchier.

Otherwise, I really like how the yarn and the pattern work together. It’s one of those situations where you don’t know how it’s going to turn out until you try it. The cables look much more complicated than they are. This would be a great first cable project! If I used this pattern again, I would probably omit one of the cable repeats for a slightly snugger fit.

When I asked the wifey what color she wanted, she gave me two answers. So, I decided that meant two pairs of boot cuffs. I was hoping to have the second pair done sometime on the 14th but I didn’t quite make it (haha…get it? Didn’t quite make it?). I did, however, manage to get one cast off so maybe tomorrow (technically today as it’s past midnight here) sometime I’ll get the second one done. Here’s Sammy helping to display the first one:

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This one is a heavily modified version of Helmikuu Boot Toppers. I’m not as happy with this pattern but I’m happy with what I came up with. If I had looked ahead a little more thoroughly, I would have done some things differently from the start. The pattern produces a cuff that is about 5″ tall, which I don’t think is long enough to be able to fold over and have stay in place reliably. I’ll go into more detail on the changes I made when I get this pair finished.

Other updates: I gave Betsey to my MIL. I think she liked it, but it’s hard to tell. I’m still working on the current test knit (Lancashire Dream) but since I’m just knocking out what seems like miles of stockinette for the body, there’s not a ton to report there. What I was thinking when I signed up to knit a cardigan (read: lots more purling than I really want to do) out of fingering weight yarn on US2s, I will never really know. At least it’s cute. I ordered the one skein I could find of madelinetosh tosh merino light in Filigree so that I can finish up my Athena shawl. And, I may or may not have two incorrectly sized attempts at a hat for Z on the needles. In two different yarns. I can neither confirm nor deny.**

Happy knitting!

*For the record, she had some very nice things for me, too.

**Well, I could…but I won’t.

 

It’s Knitting That Makes the World Go Round

I have a heartwarming knitting vignette to share, as well as updates on what’s on the needles currently and what’s barreling down the pike. So far I’m keeping up with my crazy test knitting commitments using a method somewhat foreign to me: organization.

But, first things first. My mom is also a knitter (hi, Mom!). She shared a story with me that made me feel all warm and fuzzy. For many years, she has made handknit prayer shawls. She puts a lot of thought and love into them. She makes them in different colors and different patterns so that there will always be something for everyone. She then donates them to a ministry at her church. Then, they are given to people who are going through rough times and need a little extra love and care. Most of the time, she never knows who they go to.

Well, the other day she got this email:

Just found out yesterday afternoon that your shawl has inspired someone in New Orleans to start a ministry in her Presbyterian church there!  My neighbor sent shawl to her step mother in NewOrleans. Her best friend saw it and got my phone number and called to get information on how to start a group! She said the recipient was so touched she cried when she saw the shawl,and that touched her to want to start a group!

Wow! Your shawl not only blessed that lady but because of it others will also be blessed!

This, dear readers, brings the joy of knitting full circle. It made my mother happy to knit the shawl and it made someone else happy to receive it. The recipient’s friend will no doubt get a sense of fulfillment from starting a new prayer shawl ministry. Then, the cycle starts all over again with new knitters and new prayer shawls.

I love that both the process of knitting and the finished results are able to have such a positive impact on people. I made a connection the other day when someone at my LYS was discussing this NYT article about the benefits of knitting: knitting, for me, helps with pain relief. It helps take my mind off it and also gives me an emotional boost. Knitting endorphins? I totally buy it. The act of giving someone else a knitted item has its own sense of reward, as well. Hopefully the item itself brings the recipient joy and, if that person is really knitworthy, it makes them feel loved and cared for because they understand the love that went into making it.

So, some of the knitted joy occupying my time (now that I have two shawls done) is the Lancashire Dream test knit. It’s a top down raglan cardigan that will be for my daughter. It’s going to be really hard to photograph until it’s off the needles and blocked, but here’s a glimpse at my progress:

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It rolls and curls every which way because of all the stockinette and reverse stockinette fighting each other. But, it’s going to be very cute once I get it all flattened out!

I interrupted my test knitting mania to knock out a pair of boot cuffs for the wifey for V Day. I’ve got one done and the second well under way. I’m using the skein of Cascade 220 I got in my giant yarn score last week. It’s turning out to be a great yarn for this pattern. It’s soft but has a rustic look to it and, despite the tweediness, is working well for the cables.

The pattern I’m using is UGG HUG Boot Toppers and is a free ravelry download. If I have enough time, I’m going to make a second pair using this Helmikuu Boot Toppers pattern.

I’ve got a few more updates but I think that’s enough for one evening! So, happy knitting and I leave you with some cuddling kitties:IMG_5215IMG_5219IMG_5223

FO Spotlight: Betsey

The rundown

Pattern: Betsey by Amy Miller

Yarn: Ella Rae Classic Sand Art, 4 skeins

Size made: Added extra rows to make it longer and use up yarn

Needles: US11s for the body and 17s for the bind off

Techniques used: Russian join

Modifications: Added rows, as noted above

Ravelled: here

The Pretty

As hoped, the ruffle factor was tamed by blocking. I like that it’s a deep crescent shape as I think it will be good for wrapping up in. I love how the yarn meshed with the pattern. I prefer the random and variable color changes to the orderly appearance of the stripes the pattern calls for.

I knew I wanted it to be a big shawl, so I just kept working in pattern after I reached the end. I ended up doing almost two full extra “stripes” which comes to about thirteen extra rows, I believe. The edge is finished with an I cord bind off which I did very, very loosely as I wanted the edge to block well. I planned well as I had about 6.5 yards left after binding off!

I didn’t block it super aggressively. I just washed it, let it soak for a bit, squeezed all the water out that I possibly could, and laid it out without pinning it. I just sort of patted it into shape. The fabric already had a good deal of drape as I was working with worsted yarn on US11s so I didn’t need to stretch it much. I think it worked out perfectly. It flattened out without getting overly lacy.

I would definitely recommend this pattern. It’s a quick and mostly easy knit with a few tricks thrown in to keep it interesting. However, the pattern is easy to memorize and, being completely in garter stitch, works up fast.

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Smaller and rufflier pre-blocking

I hope my mother in law likes it! I will see her this weekend and will give it to her then.

I Like Big SHAWLS and I Cannot Lie

AKA FO Spotlight: Merinda test knit

I wrapped up my Merinda shawl today. As per usual, I finished the knitting some time ago but dragged my feet on weaving in the ends and blocking it. I hunkered down yesterday and just wove ends in every spare moment I had. I blocked it overnight and voila! Done.

The rundown

Pattern: Merinda by Ambah O’Brien, not yet published.

Yarn: madelinetosh Twist Light in Big Sur (420 yds) and Fathom (355 yds). Koigu KPM in Spring Green 2334 (445 yds).

Size made: One size. Mine ended up being about 120″ long and 40″ deep.

Needles: US5s for the body and 9s for the bind off

Techniques used: Wove in ends using a knit picker a la TECHknitter.

Modifications: None for the actual knitting. I did block it a touch larger (okay, a lot larger) than the pattern called for. More on that below.

Ravelled: Here.

The pretty

It’s a little tricky to tell from the pics, but the colors work together in a very interesting way. I used the Big Sur and the KPM for the stripe sections and the Fathom for the eyelet bands. The Big Sur and the KPM interact in a subtle but very interesting way. The bold graphic effect of the Fathom against the lighter blue greens is dramatic but not garish (IMNSHO). I love how it turned out and it was a joy to knit.

The shape is unique, as far as I can tell. It blocks into a triangle but right off the needles it’s a wonky quadrangle. It ends up being quite long and just slightly asymetrical. It was a bit of a challenge to block as I really don’t have the proper equipment or space. I pinned it to foam mats and/or the mattress on our queen size guest bed. Even laying it out diagonally, I still had to pin the tips to the side of the mattress. The dimensions given in the pattern are 98″ by 29″ but mine is 120″ by 40″!

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Couldn’t even get it all in the picture!

I blocked it larger for a few reasons. First, I like a big shawl. I wear them kind of like scarves so it’s nice to have some length to wrap up in. Especially when it’s mostly lovely, silky soft madelinetosh! Second, the yarn just seemed to want to be bigger. I’m glad I listened as I love the resulting drape the fabric has.

The pattern isn’t released quite yet as Ambah wanted to fine tune a few things. I would highly recommend it once it’s published. It’s not a technically challenging knit and the design elements give you a lot of bang for your buck. It is miles of garter stitch but at least it works up fairly quickly. There are so many options for color combinations. I think it would look great with a gradient thrown in there, or a long color repeat yarn like Noro. You could opt for a high contrast pair for the stripes, or use a speckled yarn paired with a solid, and get really neat results. The possibilities are, as they say, endless!

And, because everyone loves a random and gratuitous cat pic or two, here are the latest stripey antics:

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Oliver, aka “Kitten Man”, fishing for kibbles under the dishwasher

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Sammy trying to retrieve his “fuzzy chicken” toy from under the china cabinet

A Knitter With a Plan

I’m organized! Totally together! I’m planning ahead, and starting earl(ier than I usually do)! I’m SUPER KNITTER!!!! Well, okay, I won’t go overboard. But, I did add all my test knits to my queue and matched almost all of them up with yarn. I dug the needles out for the first few and put them with the yarn. I’m going to knit like the wind, weave in my ends as I go, and block stuff as soon as it’s off the needles. I’m going to sew on buttons, dang it! I’m going to channel some of OrangeSmoothie’s speed knitting mojo and get the proverbial ‘er done!

Check out my queue. If you dare. No, don’t–I’m embarrassed. Okay, do it, but don’t look at any of the due dates.

I cast on for one yesterday. It’s the Lancashire Dream cardigan by Gabrielle Danskknit. Being a test, it’s not published yet, but I will share a teaser pic! I’m making the 4 yo size for the little. I decided to use the same yarns I used to make the wifey’s Quicksilver so that they can coordinate. It’s going to be really stinking cute. It’s going to have stripes in reverse stockinette on the top and non-reversed solid color stockinette on the bottom. It’s a top down raglan design.

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Click to see it on ravelry

 

You can tell I like that sort of color combination as it’s pretty similar to the mason jar cozy I made, also in the picture, at least 10+ years ago.

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Quicksilver

So far, I’m very happy with how the sweater is turning out.

In other news, I stumbled into quite the yarn haul a few days ago! I happened to see a freecycle email come through from a person who was giving away three garbage bags full of yarn. Well, if you know me at all, you know I can’t resist a bargain. What better bargain is there than free? So I sent her a response throwing my hat in the ring right away. We emailed back and forth for a bit and eventually agreed I could pick it up the next afternoon. The next afternoon, I already had plans to knit with a new friend I met on ravelry, so I took her along with me to pick up the yarn. We had a lovely conversation with the woman giving the yarn away–turns out she’s moving in a few months and is downsizing–and then took it all back to my friend’s house. We spread it all out on the floor and sorted through it. It was the most yarny fun I’ve had since the legendary Goodwill windfall of 2015! There was sock yarn, worsted yarn, bulky Lopi yarn, wool, alpaca, cotton, silk, blends…in short, a little bit of everything except straight up acrylic. It ran the gamut from very old stuff to new and nice stuff. I’ve started logging it in ravelry but it’s going to be a long job. Much of it is unlabeled so I need to make some guesses about what it might be, weight, yardage, etc. At least I don’t need to do any burn tests as the yarn giver (I think that should be her official title) didn’t include anything 100% acrylic.

It dawns on me now that I should have taken pictures of it spread out on the floor in all its glory, but I didn’t. You’ll have to make do with a smattering of stash pics! Here are some of the highlights so far:

And much, much, MUCH more! She also included several WIPs, many of which were socks. I ripped some of them out but saved a few. There’s a pair of sock toes started that I really like, so I’ll pick up the stitches on them and see if I can finish them up!

I think it’s safe to say that I have my work cut out for me. First, finish all these damn test knits! Second, find something to do with all this yarn! Happy knitting!

V-Day Swap Update

I mentioned I was participating in a mini swap for Valentine’s Day over at Carol E. Herman Designs, right? Well, now that I got my package and my swap partner got hers, I can share details about them here!

The swap guidelines were to include a small handmade item, a card and a treat ($5 or less). I love that we kept it small. I think that keeps it from crossing the line between fun and stressful. Plus, I haven’t been working for the past several months, so any disposable income has already been disposed of! For my package, I sent two knitted earbud (or whatever) pouches, a card, a small chocolate bar and a packet of Fringe Supply Co stitch markers:

For the pouches, I used madelinetosh tosh dk in Cousteau, which is the yarn I used to test knit the Wayfarer Hat for Carol. I thought that was fitting since it was from the same group. Also, I knew that my swap partner likes blues and greens so I made the other one out of madelinetosh twist light in Fathom. That is one of the yarns I used for my Merinda shawl test knit.

The package I got in the mail a couple of days ago was awesome! It had a card, some cool monkey stickers, some Dove chocolate truffles and…get this…a handknit dragon!

In the card, Heather (the sender) wrote that she thought my daughter might enjoy the dragon and the stickers, as well. Well, she was right about that one! As soon as Z saw the dragon, her eyes lit up and her hand reached for him automatically. She did pause to ask if I had knitted him for her. She was happy to hear that my knitting friend had made him for me to share with her. She promptly picked him up and hugged him and kissed him. She named him “Pony Dragon”. She was in constant motion so it was hard to get a good pic, but I think this series captures the moment well:

It’s been really fun watching the pictures of other peoples’ swap packages come in. It’s a creative bunch of people!

Testing All the Things

One of my recent posts included some nonsense about not doing any more test knits for a while. My intentions were good. I keep finding myself up against knitting deadlines and I wanted to be a little more relaxed about it for a while. Also, the test knitting has limited my time to work on other projects. I had this whole plan. I haven’t even been looking at the Testing Pool forum (much).

However. Two of the designers I’ve worked with several times both earburned* me with some new patterns. I held out for a couple of days on the first one, and a couple of seconds on the next batch. I don’t even want to admit how many tests I’ve signed up to do between now and May because it’s a little more than was probably all that smart. They are all really cute designs, though! At least they’re all baby or kid sized, so they should work up pretty quickly.

In the meantime, my Merinda shawl just needs the ends woven in and blocking. My Athena shawl is waiting on more yarn (I decided to buy the skein available fsot on rav, but haven’t heard back from the seller yet). I cast off on Betsey last night, so that one just needs ends woven and blocking. The only thing actually on the needles right now is the Feathery Lace Stole. I am making progress on it…two rows at a time!

I got a massive haul of yarn yesterday (more on that later) so am trying to get all that organized. Once I get things sorted and stored I’ll be able to pull out some of the yarns I need for tests. Then, I will just knit like the wind! Good thing my kid likes the stuff I make for her!

 

*Ravelry’s equivalent of a page. Yes, it’s a verb now. Sort of.

Back to Betsey

I got my US11 40″ cable Addi Rockets yesterday so was able to go back to Betsey and start working on it again (remember?). I’ve gotten through a little more than one skein so far, and it’s working out much better. The actual gauge probably isn’t all that different but it has so much more vertical stretch now. I think the finished dimensions will be much, much better. Even on the needles, you can tell how much less rippling there is now.

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Before, on US9s

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After, on US11s

The second picture was taken a little farther along in the pattern than the first, but not by much. I think I made the right choice. Thanks to everyone for all the guidance!

In regards to my other WIP crisis (catch up here), I am 90% decided on what I’m going to do. I’m going to wait a little longer before going to 100% in order to give it more time to settle first.

In the meantime, I’m doing two or three rows at a time on my Feathery Lace Stole and then working on Betsey. I can’t stand to do much more than that as it’s such slow going. It really does look and feel nice, though. It’ll get done eventually, Mom! I have some other things in mind that I want to get going on soon. Here they are, in no specific order:

  1. Finish weaving in ends on Merinda.
  2. Start working on my six test knits due in March (they should all be fairly quick knits…three of them are hats).
  3. Start a pair of socks. I want to get going on the Thursday sock series again. I’m thinking I might start with a pair for my daughter. They’ll get done faster and it won’t bother me if they’re less than perfect. She’ll grow out of them pretty quickly anyway!
  4. Start my Miller’s Daughter.
  5. Make a poncho for the little.

I mailed my Valentine’s Day swap package a few days ago so I should be able to blog about it soon!

Here are some gratuitous toddler and kitty pics. Happy knitting!

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My stripey boys

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“Look! We’re getting along!” Photo copyright Callandra S. Cook.