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.

 

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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.

Decision Making Time

First, an update on my recent “Save My WIP” post from a couple of weeks ago about my Betsey shawl. I ended up ripping the whole thing out. But, before I did, I checked my gauge and it was actually okay. Well, the stitch gauge was right…there was no good way to check row gauge as the whole pattern is curved. It’s a little surprising my stitch gauge was right since I hadn’t blocked the piece. In any case, gauge isn’t all that critical for this. It’s all about the relative stretch between sections. I think a tighter gauge leads to the (unwanted) ruffling effect I was getting. I did swatch on a few different needle sizes but the resulting information wasn’t that helpful.

I decided that the drape of the fabric on US11s promised to be the best option. Since I don’t have a set of circulars in that size with a long enough cable, I ordered some. They will take a while to arrive (cheap price, long shipping) so that project is temporarily on hold.*

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Betsey, pre-frogging

On to the next WIP dilemma! I am currently working on a test knit for Marion Crivelli, the Athena Shawl. The prototype took 800 yards of fingering weight yarn. I chose to use madelintosh tosh merino light, of which I had 880 yards in my stash. Ten percent is an adequate margin, right? Well, I got started and have been cruising along. It’s an interesting but ultimately simple construction. There are five sections, knitted vertically and added on one by one as you knit. The whole thing ends up being on the bias. After gradually increasing to the the full width of all five sections, you bind off a few stitches on each WS row until you’re out of stitches. Then you pick up stitches along the long edge and work an I cord border. It ends up being a triangle with one elongated tip. In other words, an asymmetrical shape that makes it very hard to determine where you are in terms of yardage!

I got to a handful of rows away from starting the decreases when my first skein (440 yards) ran out. For a symmetrical triangle, that would have meant I definitely wouldn’t have had enough yarn to finish it out as written. Since the decreases happen a lot faster than the increases, I thought maybe I’d be okay. The designer’s shawl had used 800 yards! I checked out the other testers’ projects and found a lot of variation on yardage used, but some of them had made some modifications and it just wasn’t clear what the implications were for my situation. So, I forged ahead, knowing there was at least a decent chance I would ultimately lose a game of yarn chicken.

I kept on knitting. I finished the increases and got about halfway through the decrease rows…and got down to about 2 gm of yarn. That equates to approximately 8.5 yards, which equates to approximately nowhere near enough to finish out the shawl. I’ve got something like 90 or 100 stitches still on the needles so I’ve got a good…40 rows left, maybe? They will take less and less yardage as I go on as each row will be shorter than the last, but that’s still not going to make it.

Let me talk a little about the yarn I’m using. MT tosh merino light is a single ply fingering weight yarn. As with all MT yarns, it’s hand dyed in a complex colorway that may or may not be matched to other skeins in the same dye batch, much less skeins dyed at different times. There’s typically a ton of variation between dye batches. In other words, there’s no way that I can match this colorway. To take it a step further, I got this yarn from dbny. That means there’s no telling how old it is or where it came from. The two skeins I have are each 440 yards which means they’re from January 2011 at the latest. After that, MT adjusted the yardage to 420. After doing a little more research, I learned that the Filigree colorway is discontinued. Which is a shame as it is really luscious to work with.

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Athena Shawl WIP in Filigree

This doesn’t mean I’m completely without options, though! There’s one skein in the same colorway and yardage fsot** on ravelry. I could buy that and just not worry about any subtle variations in the colorway. From the pics, it looks pretty much the same. I could get a whole skein in a different, but complementary color. Or, I could get a couple of Unicorn Tails, which are 52 yard mini skeins of the same type of yarn. I can’t get them in Filigree but again could get a complementary color.

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Lovely, lovely tosh merino light

It’s a little tricky to tell from the pics, but this colorway incorporates a wide range of shades. Olive green, forest green and amber are punctuated by a brilliant copper and occasional hints of robin’s egg blue. This at least gives me a lot of options when choosing a complementary color. Part of me is tempted to use a light blue shade, as I like bold (!) color combinations. However, even I think that might be too garish! Here are the color options I’ve narrowed it down to:

All three above images are from Hill Country Weavers.

And, if I’m really daring, I could use one UT I already have. I don’t know if just one would have enough yardage, though. I could be stuck binding off early, or I could run out halfway through the I cord. This color is sold out everywhere I looked, so I probably can’t get another one:

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Button Jar Blue

So, dear readers, what do you think I should do?

Poll expires in one week. I’m looking forward to the results!

 

*After writing but before publishing, the new needles showed up in the mail!

**fsot=for sale or trade

 

“Hearts, Mr. Collins…Hearts!”

I’m guessing at least one or two people will get the movie reference from the title. It’s one of my very favorites–plenty of interesting historical textiles to look at, great one liners, an abundance of proper English restraint, and it’s long enough to accomplish some serious knitting while watching. In any case, I quoted it because my knitting endeavors over the past couple of days have revolved around hearts and love.

First off, I cast on for a project I’ve been planning for a little while. To be exact, since the last time my mom was in town. We were discussing a certain thrift store yarn find we had made together and I realized that I had a pattern that would suit it. The yarn is Rowan Kidsilk Haze, of which I found over two and a half skeins in a brilliant purple shade named “splendour”.

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The pattern is Feathery Lace Stole from a book I’ve had for years and used many times: Exquisite Little Knits: Knitting with Luxurious Specialty Yarns by Iris Schreier and Laurie J. Kimmelstiel. Now, I have no memory of when or where I acquired this book. I don’t really tend to knit with many of the yarns featured in the book, which tend to be high end novelty yarns. I probably got it on sale somewhere otherwise I honestly don’t think I would have picked it up. However, I’ve knit several patterns from it and one in particular several times (Flying V Scarf). I think the reason I’ve found it so useful is that, being for novelty yarns, the patterns tend to be understated and designed to let the yarn’s texture make the piece. So, there’s a lot of garter and stockinette with simple but effective shaping and not a lot of “extra”. This means that it’s easy to substitute other yarns and have it turn out well.

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Back to the Stole. The pattern is actually written for kidsilk haze and I actually have just a little more than enough. I wondered out loud who would possibly want a stole in that shade (not judging–it was an honest question). My mom spoke up. So, onto the queue it went until I had a moment not consumed with deadline-driven test knitting. For the last several days I’ve been knitting away at my Athena shawl (more on that in a later post) and I ran into a snag. I didn’t have anything else on the needles so, while I was waiting for the designer to get back to me, I cast on for the stole.

What exactly does this have to do with hearts and love, you ask? Well, you can be sure that I wouldn’t knit this for anyone that I didn’t really and truly love. Casting on and getting going was a royal pain. The yarn is slippery and impossible to see. By sheer chance I cast on the right number of stitches, although I don’t think anyone would ever be able to tell if I hadn’t. The lace pattern is an easy two row repeat. But, for the first several rows, I questioned my sanity as I yarned over and skp’ed my way through a slippery, hairy mess. It really seemed like I was knitting with something I might have pulled out of the shower drain in my younger Manic Panic infused days. Then, the pattern was established and it got to be a little easier. So far, I’m pleased with the results!

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My other heart and love related story has to stay under wraps for a few more days. I am participating in a Valentine mini swap over at Carol E. Herman Designs. This one involves a small gift, a small handmade item and a card. I will say that this project has made me realize I need better size US1 dpns as the ones I have are, shall we say, sub-par. I am late sending my package off (thank you, record snowfall) but am planning to send it tomorrow. I’m finishing up the last bit of the handmade portion, and I’m really excited! I hope the recipient likes it. I will post pictures here once it’s been received and no longer needs to be kept secret!

The Knitter’s Curse

Someday soon, when I finish the knitting for two more tests and the weaving in and blocking for two more, this blog will return to its regularly scheduled programming. In the interim, please enjoy this anecdote of an experience I recently had.

Sometime over the holidays (Christmas? Thanksgiving?) I was browsing a certain discount yarn website and saw they had a promo going. If you spent $x you could get a surprise goodie bag worth at least $20 for free. Well, their stuff is typically on the cheap side anyway and I’m a sucker for a good deal, so I decided to go for it. I placed my order and promptly forgot about it.

A couple of weeks later, my package arrived. The goodie bag contained:

-one skein of blue Zumrut Bamboo (I have a couple of skeins of this already, but they are pink. I still have to find something to do with it)
-one skein of Berroco Lacey in a cranberry red (maybe I’ll use it someday)
-one size E crochet hook, NIP (maybe I’ll use it someday)
-one Berroco pattern pamphlet (maybe I’ll…you get the point)
-one yarn requirements reference pamphlet from Interweave. This I could see being useful.

And, cue dramatic music:

-one knitter’s curse

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In case you can’t tell what that is, it’s a giant WIP. It’s approximately five million mitered squares made from beautiful fingering weight yarn. Each is made by picking up stitches on the last one so, being a WIP, the shape and edges are very irregular. I’d like to state for the record that it is downright gorgeous. Someone worked a long time (and used a lot of very nice yarn) to make this. I will probably never know where it came from. This particular yarn seller liquidates estates and closed yarn stores and the like and sells the wares at a significant discount. This was probably part of someone’s personal oeuvre.

The problem, of course, with such a WIP is what on earth am I supposed to do with it? I reviewed my options.

  1. I could finish it. Except that I don’t have any chance of matching any of the colorways. Less importantly, I’ve never done mitered squares so it would have taken a bit to get the hang of it and get my gauge to match close enough.
  2. I could cut it up and use it for something else. My only idea on this front was to make pillows out of it. They would have been beautiful but I wasn’t sure exactly when I would get to making them (i.e., probably never) and it just might have killed me to cut into such beautiful knitting.
  3. I could use it as-is. Except it is a sort of weird giant V shape with irregular borders. I can’t think of any use for it.
  4. I could put it in my box of snoozing WIPs and get around to doing something with it someday (i.e., probably never).

I dismissed all these ideas. Someone worked very hard on it and it deserves better than to be stashed away and forgotten. It is about 435 gm, which means it could well be over 1700 yards’ worth of gorgeous. l didn’t want it to go to waste, but I also didn’t want the burden of someone else’s WIP hanging over my head. I’ve got enough of those of my own! So I decided to post about it on the yarn seller’s ravelry group. I asked if anyone had any ideas for what to do with it.

I got a couple of responses, but nothing particularly useful. Then, someone responded that the “curse” was right up her alley and that she would love to take it off my hands! We emailed a bit and decided to do a swap. I gave her general ideas about what kinds of yarn I like and she agreed to send me about $20 worth (the stated value of the freebie). I packed up the curse and shipped it to her. When she got it, she emailed me the link to the pattern the original knitter was probably working from: Oriental Jacket. She said it looked to her like it was about halfway done. I would highly recommending clicking through and looking at the pictures as it’s quite an impressive project. She also let me know she was adding more yarn to her swap as the curse was much bigger and nicer than she expected!

A few days later I got a package from her with a skein of Noro Kureyon Sock, two different colorways of Cascade Casablanca and a skein of handpainted Opal sock yarn in return. Sweet! The curse is removed and two knitters are happy! I am excited to see what she does with her new treasure!

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