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.



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.

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.


Before, on US9s


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


“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.*


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.


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:


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


Save My WIP!

Okay knitters, I’ve got a problem. Crowd sourcing is the thing now, right? So here goes. Can you help me save my WIP?

Project Objective: Make a shawl for my mother in law. It should be reasonably large but in a functional way (in other words, no crazy elongated asymmetrical triangles).

Yarn: I chose Ella Rae Classic Sand Art because the colors looked like something she’d like and, well, it was a really good sale. It’s worsted weight. I have four skeins of it for a total of about 875 yards.

Pattern: I searched long and hard for something that would work well. I decided a deep crescent or half circle shape would work best. I didn’t want anything too lacy because she mentioned she wanted something on the warmer side. I didn’t want something with a ton of texture because the colorway is reasonably intense on its own. I eventually settled on Betsey by Amy Miller. It’s a crescent with a 60″ wingspan and a depth of 26″. It’s all garter stitch. It has a series of scalloped stripes that give it visual interest without being busy. The catch? It calls for aran weight and I had worsted. I figured that was no big deal as they’re pretty close. Also, the pattern calls for 720 yards and I have 875, so I’d just keep knitting and make it bigger and everything would work out fine.

So, I got started. The pattern calls for US11s. I have a lot of needles, but virtually nothing in 11s. I don’t have anything longer than 24″ in US10s or US10.5s–not going to work. I figured since I was using a lighter weight yarn anyway, it would be reasonable to use US9s. I got out my 40″ circ and got going.

It worked up fast. I cruised through the first 219 yard skein in one day. I got close to the end of the second on the second day. It was looking awesome, to boot. The long and random color changes really do resemble sand art and I was getting the interesting contoured random striping effect I was hoping for. Win! My mother in law came over today (well, yesterday seeing as I’m up late) and I casually started working on it in front of her. She commented on it favorably. Double win! I started the third skein and then quickly ran out of pattern. For anyone counting, that’s something like 450 yards for a pattern that calls for 720. Hmmm.


About one skein in

I’m up to 368 sts at this point. Between that and the scallops, the shawl was bunched up on the needles so tightly that there was no telling how it was really shaping up. I considered just forging ahead and continuing in the same vein, but it was just looking a little…flouncy. Again I thought about just keeping on going–after all, it’ll block out, right?–but I just wasn’t sure. Nursing and knitting have both taught me to listen to that little voice in the back of my head. So, I put it on waste yarn so I could really stretch it out and see where I was.

Well, it’s on the small side. And looks a little ruffly. It’s about 15″ deep. The second skein added about 4.5″. Without increases, it would only get to about 24″. With increases? I’m guessing a lot less. Remember my project objective? Reasonably large. I want it to be able to cover most of her arms when she wears it. As it is now, if I put it on it doesn’t quite cover the sleeves of my short sleeve t shirt. Not good. Also, “ruffly” isn’t mentioned anywhere in my project objective.

As I see it, I have some options. I could:

a) Continue knitting on my merry way and trust in the miracles of aggressive blocking. Ruffles are totally in, right?

b) Pause and block it while it’s on waste yarn. Maybe it can be saved!

c) Let ‘er rrrrrrriiiip. Start over on US13s. I’m a tight knitter! Or just buy some freaking US11s for crying out loud.

d) Send it to the frog pond and start from scratch.

Well, lovely knitters…what do you think? One of the above, or a different route entirely? Full disclosure: writing this post has me leaning pretty heavily toward one of the above options. However, I’m not completely sold yet and there’s a chance I might listen to reason.


Stripey kitteh included for size reference.


Clearing Out the WIPs

Holiday knitting wrap up coincided with the end of a number of test knitting projects. Also, hopes that the weather might actually turn colder soon prompted me to finish up a project or two that had been languishing. So, my WIPs and UFFOs are dwindling! More on that later as stuff is blocking. I will tell you that I spent a long time making two very awesome pompoms.

In the meantime, I actually ran out of stuff to knit. So, to ignore the huge number of ends I need to weave in on a couple of projects, I started a new project. I’m making a Betsey shawl using one colorway of Ella Rae Classic Sand Art. I have four skeins of it and have knitted through one already. I’m planning to just keep going until I run out of yarn. So far, I like how it’s turning out:


I have several projects on the horizon, of course. I’m doing a stranded colorwork raglan sweater test knit (for the kiddo), a shawl test knit out of some gorgeous madelinetosh tosh merino light in beautiful filigree, and three (yes, I know) other tests that aren’t due until March. Plus, a few random things for a few random people, some projects I’m interested in for their own sake, and who knows what else?


Happy knitting!