So Behind! And an FO Spotlight!

Oh blog, I’ve missed you! It’s been a busy couple of weeks and I’ve been stretched a little thin. I went back to work (after nearly a year on leave) and whew! It’s been challenging, and it hasn’t left me with a lot of free emotional energy for blogging. I am hoping that as I adjust to being back, things will settle and I’ll get into more of a routine, and that there will be space in that routine for regular blogging again.

As you might expect, my knitting time has been affected as well. I have been able to get some things done, though! I ended up with two projects entered into the Ravellenic Games, one WIP and one baby blanket (which I finished with mere minutes to spare). I have yet to get prettified photos of either, so I will wait to share them for a bit.

Earlier this month, Ambah O’Brien posted a testing call for a new cowl pattern.
You might remember I tested her Merinda Shawl pattern a while back:

Well, I love that shawl. It was a lovely pattern and a joy to knit, and I admire many of her other patterns (someday I’ll make a Lilli Pilli). She’s posted a number of testing calls since then, but they’ve mostly been shawls and I just haven’t had the time to squeeze any in. Since this one was a cowl, I just couldn’t resist. I ended up racing a little to get it done, but I did it! It was blocked, dried and photographed by the due date. So, I give you my Mendia Cowl!

The rundown

Pattern: Mendia Cowl by Ambah O’Brien. Not published yet.

Yarn: 308 yards of Noro Silk Garden Lite. I had this in my stash. I have no memory of where it came from!

Size made: One. Finished dimensions are about 29″ in circumference by 13″ tall.

Needles: US6s.

Techniques used: Longtail cast on and a modified stretchy cast off that Ambah developed.

Modifications: None.

Difficulty: I think this pattern is intermediate. The stitch pattern is a little complicated at first blush, but it makes sense once you get into it. The tricky part is making sure you can read your knitting very well as fixing mistakes is challenging.

Ravelled: here.

The Pretty

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I ran into a few knots in the yarn (as seems to happen a lot with Noro). I chose to just carry on with whatever color was there and not worry about keeping the color sequence uninterrupted. I like the slightly more random outcome that gave me. As I was knitting, I kept thinking the colors looked like a southwestern sunset.

Since the yarn I chose is a loosely spun single with some variability in its thickness, the stitch definition isn’t very high. So, the chevron pattern doesn’t pop as much as it could. Other than that, I really like this yarn for the pattern. I like the color gradations, the drape and the texture. Here are some closer pics:

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It ended up with an unexpected rainbow pattern! That’s fine, though–I can rock some rainbows:

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Enjoy this rare sighting of me.

I couldn’t get any better pics because, even in the air conditioning, I couldn’t stand to have it on more than a few seconds! It has been very hot here this month. I am looking forward to fall, and to bringing out my wraps and shawls again!

In all, this ended up being a quick knit, even with lots of twisted stitches and a somewhat fiddly stitch pattern. I think it would look great in a variety of different yarns. In a high-twist merino semisolid, it would have great depth of color and a lot more drape. In this more rustic single, it has a lot of structure which helps it sit well. I’m very happy with it! I have almost two skeins of yarn left, so I might make a hat or mitts to match. I foresee this getting a lot of use this winter!

Happy knitting!

Pre-Gaming

The Ravellenic Games start in just a couple of days. This doesn’t mesh up very well with my knitting timetable. I don’t want to cast on for a big project because I’d have to put it aside shortly. I don’t really want to cast on for little projects, because I could just wait and do them during the Games. But, since I have to knit, I went ahead and did it anyway.

My potholder is about halfway done. I haven’t decided yet what color to make the other side, but I’ve narrowed it down to three choices:

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I think I’m leaning toward the yellow, but I’m not sure yet. Thoughts? Opinions?

Another quick project I started is Belle’s Spa Cloth, another test knit for Carol. This has been something of a comedy of errors. I would have started sooner but I needed help winding the skein into a ball. I drafted someone at my knitting group last night to help me*. While sitting at my LYS today, I looked around for my needles so I could cast on. Nope, couldn’t find them. I grabbed an extra pair of US4s lying around and got started. Before I left, I transferred it onto a spare circ I had in my bag. I got home, found the right needles, and started to knit. Well, I knit the next row with the US4s, but forgot to put the extra circ down. I knit several rows alternating between the 4s and the extra, which was US2. I eventually realized it when I looked down and noticed I was still holding both needles. Whoops! It made the tension really weird, so I pulled it out and started over. Now, I think I’m good to go. It doesn’t look like much yet, but here’s what I have so far:

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I think those two projects will tide me over until Friday. If I finish them both and need something else, I’ll just start another potholder. Or some socks. There’s always socks!

Happy knitting!

*Last time, I asked the wifey to help me. She did, but she complained the whole time 🙂 So, I figured I’d lean on a fellow knitter instead!

FO Spotlight: Cinderella’s Spa Cloth

I jut finished up* my second spa cloth test knit for Carol at knit equals joy! Rumor has it she will be releasing them as an e-book, so stay tuned!

The rundown

Pattern: Cinderella’s Spa Cloth (not yet published) by Carol E. Herman. This pattern will be part of her spa cloth series. The two published patterns in the series are Fairy Godmother’s Spa Cloth and Castle Beach Spa Cloth. I also tested Queen’s Spa Cloth.

Yarn: 65 yards of Cascade Yarns Ultra Pima Fine, same as for the Queen’s Cloth. This one used just shy of a half of a skein, so you could probably squeeze two in for optimum yarn usage! Also, this pattern is very flexible–you could just knit the second one until you had just enough yarn to cast off.

Size made: Per pattern. You can do more or fewer rows to customize the size.

Needles: US4s.

Techniques used: Nothing crazy. I used longtail cast on and standard bind off.

Modifications: None.

Difficulty: Easy. This could be a great first or second project for a new knitter.

Ravelled: here.

The Pretty

First off, I need to share my starting pic. For whatever reason, I just love it!

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I estimated the yarn length for my longtail cast on just right, on the first try! It’s the small joys in life, right? I think the other reason I love this pic is that you can see a hint of my lovely yarn bowl. I don’t use it all that often because I usually work from center pull cakes, but it came in handy for this project.

Okay, enough teasing. Here are the finished pics!

A lot of my comments on the Queen’s Cloth apply to this one, as well. It’s basically the same design, just without the loopy scalloped border. It’s a quick and easy knit that produces a polished, lovely cloth. What more can I say?

I can say at least one more thing: even for a simple project like this, Carol’s pattern is lovely. Everything is clearly and concisely written, and her attention to detail shows. This is the kind of pattern that takes knitting from “home made” to “hand made”.

Happy knitting!

*Full disclosure: It’s not actually technically finished yet. I didn’t weave in the ends! I was in a hurry to get pictures earlier, so I cut corners, so to speak. I’m going to do it at my knitting group tonight 🙂

FO Spotlight: Queen’s Spa Cloth

I did this quick little test knit for Carol of knit equals joy. I’ve got at least one more in the works, so stay tuned for more to come!

The rundown

Pattern: Queen’s Spa Cloth (not yet published) by Carol E. Herman. This pattern is a continuation of her spa cloth series, which so far includes Fairy Godmother’s Spa Cloth and Castle Beach Spa Cloth.

Yarn: 76 yards of Cascade Yarns Ultra Pima Fine. It’s a 100% cotton sport weight yarn. It’s very soft and has a nice, subtle shine.

Size made: Per pattern. You can do more or fewer repeats to customize the size.

Needles: US4s.

Techniques used: Nothing that’s not well described in the pattern. The loopy scalloped stitch on the bottom (well, really the side edge) was new to me, but once I’d given it a try, it was very easy.

Modifications: None.

Difficulty: Somewhere between easy and intermediate. This would not be a good choice for someone’s first project, but would be fine for someone comfortable with yos, slipped stitches and “reading” their knitting.

Ravelled: here.

The Pretty

Here’s a closer look at the bottom edge:

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This was a quick and fun knit. As usual, Carol’s pattern was extremely well written and easy to follow. I enjoyed learning some new things! One thing I particularly love about this pattern is the attention to detail. The “top” edge uses a different slipped stitch technique than I’ve used before, and it makes a very clean and neat edge:

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Also, the slipped stitch details in the interior look almost like piping. They add a nice, finished touch to the cloth. This project was pretty and fun. I think it would make a lovely gift paired with a bar of fancy soap.

Thanks again to Carol for letting me test another pattern for her! I’m looking forward to casting on for the next one.

Happy knitting!

FO Spotlight: Zagzig Hat

I’m continuing to get old WIPs finished. Here’s my latest!

The rundown

Pattern: Zagzig Hat by Taiga Hilliard Designs. This pattern is in the same series as the Zagzig skirt I posted about yesterday. This was also a test knit.

Yarn: 108 yards of Alpaca Lana D’Oro by Cascade Yarns. It’s a worsted weight blend of 50% wool and 50% alpaca.

Size made: Teen. Unfortunately, I don’t have a teen-sized model handy, but it looks to be about right!.

Needles: US5s and 7s.

Techniques used: Tillybuddy’s very stretchy cast on. The zigzag pattern is both written out and charted and includes left twists and right twists.

Modifications: None.

Difficulty: Easy. This would be appropriate for an advanced beginner. The left and right twists in the zigzag pattern might be new to a beginner, but they’re not hard once you get the hang of them.

Ravelled: here.

The Pretty

As I don’t have a model for this FO, I don’t have a ton of pictures to show you. Here’s what I’ve got!

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The color is most accurate in the first pic, but it has some weird ripples so I included the second pic as well.

This was a quick and easy knit. The zigzag pattern added just enough interest to keep it from getting too boring. The pattern is sized from newborn to large adult, so there are lots of options.

I like the yarn I made this in. It seems more like alpaca than wool, even though it’s an even blend of both. It’s very soft and the color has a pretty heathered look to it. I got two skeins of it from the freecycle haul, so I have plenty left over to make something else!

Happy knitting!

FO Spotlight: Zagzig Skirt

This project was another test knit for cashmerejunkie, aka Taiga Hilliard Designs. The knitting has been done for a while, and I even wove in the ends as I went! However, it needed elastic in the waistband to be really finished. I finally got that done the other day!

The rundown

Pattern: Zagzig Skirt by Taiga Hilliard Designs.

Yarn: A total of 205 yards of four different colors of Vanna’s Choice Solids. It’s an aran weight, 100% acrylic yarn. I think I got it all at the thrift store at one time or another! The pattern can be made in stripes, colorblock or solid.

Size made: 4T. The model is 3.5 yo.

Needles: US7s.

Techniques used: I used TECHknitter’s traveling jogless stripe technique for the stripes, but it wasn’t perfect. The zigzag pattern is both written out and charted and includes left twists and right twists.

Modifications: None except doing the colorblock/stripes.

Difficulty: Easy. This would be appropriate for an advanced beginner. The left and right twists in the zigzag pattern might be new to a beginner, but they’re not hard once you get the hang of them.

Ravelled: here.

The Pretty

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This pic is after elastic but before washing. I didn’t bother blocking it exactly; since it’s acrylic it wouldn’t do much anyway. I did hang it to dry so that maybe the weight of it would pull the flared edge down a bit. It actually worked! It’s like that because I often am so focused on not binding off too tightly that I end up binding off way too loosely. If I made this again, I would try to avoid that.

She really didn’t want to pose or hold still for pictures, as usual. She mostly just wanted to twirl! But at least you get the basic idea of how the skirt looks and fits. It’s a little on the large side, but I think it will fit her just right in the fall/winter this year. Since it’s aran weight acrylic it’s on the warm side anyway, so that will probably be just right.

This was a quick and easy knit. My favorite part of this design is the waistband. The clever construction means you don’t have to do any sewing, and it’s very easy to execute. Also, it lies nicely and is very neat. The pattern is sized from newborn up to 10 years, so is very versatile. I don’t love the yarn I chose, but I had it on hand and it was right for the job. I like the colors and I like that it’s machine washable. Also, skirts can get some heavy wear and tear. With this one, I won’t be upset if (when) she decides to sit down on the sidewalk or brick, or otherwise put it through the normal small child wringer.

Some tips if you are thinking of making this: always slip stitches with the yarn in back. Also, if you’re doing any stripes, I would recommend not changing colors right before the zigzag pattern–do it at least three rows before as the twists pull on the fabric a bit and will otherwise give the color change row an uneven look. Overall, this was a fun knit and I could see myself making it again.

Happy knitting!

The State of the Knitting Union or My First Blogiversary!

WordPress will likely not recognize my blogiversary until tomorrow. The reason for that is that, one year ago today, I posted my first post…just on a different platform (blogHer, specifically). While that’s an awesome platform, it wasn’t quite what I was looking for. So, one day later I moved that post to WordPress: And So It Begins.

Rereading that post now, I’m struck by a couple of things. First, why are the pics so small? Second, my year did not consist of nearly as much stashbusting as I had anticipated. Everything else seems pretty much on point!

I thought it would be nice to start something of a tradition for this day. However, since I like to keep my options open, I’m going to go on record and say that I reserve the right to change my own traditions based on my own whims, so who knows what I will post on July 4, 2017! What I do know is that for the past year, this blog has been very important to me. I’ve used it to build new community, talk (and talk, and talk, and talk) about all the nerdy little knitting details I want to discuss, and to channel my knitting mojo. By that I mean I’ve been able to gather up all the great energy and inspiration I’ve gotten from my interactions with people here and on their own blogs, and shunt it into my own knitting and back into my blogging. The knitting karma just keeps coming ’round!

So, let’s do a round up of sorts! In the past year, I have finished 68 projects. I did my first test knitting and completed 20 test projects. I knit with all different yarn weights and fibers, and made a ton of different types of things: my first knits for my daughter, my first shawls, my first socks, lots of hats, mitts and mittens, baby clothes, dresses, a few cowls…basically the kitchen sink. I did my second ever intarsia project and my first ever stranded colorwork projects. I even got almost all the way through my first original design. I grew so much as a knitter and, I think, as a blogger. None of this was based on goals or intentions as much as it was fueled by a drive to just keep knitting. Along the way, I felt compelled to talk about it, too.

Because of that, I hesitate to set hard and fast goals for my next year of knitting (and blogging). I value the rather organic nature that my drive to knit has: I do it because I feel compelled to, not because I have specific things that I want to accomplish. Even when I’m starting a new project I often find I end up casting on for something completely different than I anticipated, and I like allowing myself that flexibility. It does mean that sometimes things happen on a different timeline, but I’m okay with that. For instance, I’ve been thinking for a few months now about opening an Etsy shop. I have a list of things I intend to stock, an idea for a name and a banner, and a general idea of pricing and turnaround time. If I applied myself more to making the shop a reality, I could probably have it up and running by now. As it is, I haven’t made any of the stock for it yet!

So while I’m not setting specific goals, there are things I am interested in trying out sometime soon! Those things include (more) brioche and double knitting, for starters. I’m planning on continuing to learn more about sock knitting. I want to try TAAT and toe-up socks, and learn some more heel and toe constructions. Also, there are approximately 15 million shawls I would like to make. I think I need at least one for every day of the week, if not month! Lastly, I have plans to make my first adult-sized sweaters and vests. Things I want to continue to do are to knit from stash, knit for family and friends, and continue to connect with other knitters through this blog, ravelry and my LYS/local community.

I won’t bore you too much with blog stats. While every single like, comment and follower makes me (very) happy, it’s never been about the numbers for me. I appreciate it so much that people read and respond and that I have a handful of knitters I consider friends that I’ve just never actually met. That community was really what I was going for when I started this a year ago, and I haven’t been disappointed! I have some blog plans for the upcoming year, but I don’t think I’ll get into them yet…we’ll just see how things work out!

I will leave you with a brief update on my knitting progress at the moment: I’m almost done knitting my sword! At some point I will write up the pattern and publish it on ravelry, but for now I’m celebrating the fact that the darn thing is almost out of my hair!

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I’ve decided to call it Baby Broadsword

Hopefully I will have an FO Spotlight post up about it soon! Happy 4th of July to my US readers, and happy knitting! I will end with some joint Independence Day and 1st Blogiversary fireworks:

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FO Spotlight: Wee la Nina

The rundown

Pattern: Wee la Nina by cashmerejunkie of Taiga Hilliard Designs.

Yarn: A total of 232 yards of Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece, a worsted weight blend of 80% cotton and 20% merino. I used 181 yards of the main color and anywhere from 6 to 22 yards of the four contrast colors. It could be done in as few as two colors or as many as ten, or more for bigger sizes.

Size made: 12-18 months. The model is 12 months.

Needles: US8s. With this yarn, I would probably use US7s next time and just add a few more rows. The gauge is just a touch loose on the 8s.

Techniques used: Nothing too crazy, and nothing that wasn’t described in the pattern.

Modifications: None.

Difficulty: Easy. This would be appropriate for an advanced beginner.

Ravelled: here.

The Pretty

Man, was it tough to get pictures! This child is in constant motion. As cute as the top looks on her, the pictures just don’t do it justice. It really was just stupid cute on her.

Despite the fact that it took me over three months to do the finishing bits on this one, it was a very quick knit. Like many of Taiga’s patterns, it’s designed to be able to be worn long for a while and then shorter as the child grows. Also, the high cotton content means that it will grow in length if it’s hung to dry instead of being laid flat, so she will hopefully get a couple of years of wear out of it.

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Please enjoy this rare, blurry glimpse of me. The child wanted to take a selfie. How could I refuse??

Honeymoon’s Over

For the past couple of days, I’ve had the luxury of lots of knitting time. As I’ve been stressed out about a variety of things (read: job), I took Paula’s sage advice and worked on things that made me happy. I made some serious progress on my Miller’s Daughter:

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I might have mentioned this before, but I am completely smitten with these colors and how they work together. I wasn’t sure initially about including the lighter blue (Cherry Tree Hill Superlace Ragg), but now? I’m completely sold. One ply of it is grey, which adds interesting texture to the mix. Occasionally, the color edges toward green, which mirrors the Edison Bulb well. As for the darker blue shade (The Fibre Company Road to China Lace), what’s not to love about an alpaca, silk, camel and cashmere blend? Well? Bueller? Yeah, that’s right–nothing. That just leaves the Edison Bulb (madelinetosh tosh lace), and for that, you either love it or you hate it. As for me, you guessed it! I love it.

I love how the texture of lace weight yarn worked on US4 needles is light and airy while still being delightfully squooshy. The shawl is just begging me to scrunch it up around my neck and wear the bejeesus out of it. I can’t wait.

If you are working a Miller’s Daughter, or any other Melanie Berg shawl, you might consider joining her 2nd Annual Any Shawl KAL. There’s still plenty of time left to finish one up by June 12, and there are several really lovely prizes to be had. Check out the thread on ravelry here.

Other projects I worked on this week include one that I will discuss tomorrow and another test knit for Taiga Hilliard. This one is called Twinberry and it’s a raglan tunic-style pullover. It can have either short or long sleeves and the length is adjustable (well, this is knitting…everything’s adjustable). There’s not a ton of it to see yet, but I’ve got a start on it:

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I’m using Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece for this as I’ve found it’s a good yarn for kids clothes. It has good stitch definition, great colors, and should wear well. My only quibble with it is that it’s not machine washable or dryable, although I’ve a mind to give it a try sometime and see how it goes. It’s 80% cotton and 20% merino, so it shouldn’t felt. I suspect the worst that could happen is it might shrink some and the color might run. I’ve actually used the same yarn on three other kids test knits already! I got several more skeins of it from my giant freecycle yarn score, so I’ve got lots to work with.

I’m glad I had some time to work on these projects, as tomorrow I’m heading into crunch time. I have two commission jobs to work on, and I’m officially getting started on them tomorrow. The first is a knight’s helmet hat with matching diaper cover (and knitted sword!) for a one year old’s birthday party. I’m planning on using this Sir Knight Helmet pattern by Martina Gardner:

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Photo copyright MAGKnits. Obtained from ravelry.

I will also be making this Easy Folded Poncho by Churchmouse Yarns and Teas:

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Photo copyright Churchmouse Yarns & Teas. Obtained from ravelry.

I got the yarn for this, Berroco Ultra Alpaca, yesterday and I’m getting the pattern tomorrow. Both projects should be reasonably fun and go quickly, but it will be nice to get back to knitting for me and mine afterward.

I’ll be back tomorrow with a juicy post full of socks and socky plans. Until then, happy knitting!

FO Spotlight: Little Jill Test Knit

I finished this dress some time ago, but ran into trouble when I blocked it. It grew in length so much that it was longer than the recipient is tall! I wet it down again, threw it in the dryer, and crossed my fingers that it wouldn’t be ruined. Well, it wasn’t! So, at long last, here’s my review.

The rundown

Pattern: Little Jill by Taiga Hilliard aka cashmerejunkie

Yarn: Sawya by Mirasol Yarn. I got this off the sale rack at Kitschy Stitch last summer. The project used 3 skeins plus a yard or two (I lost at yarn chicken–I ran out while binding off). That comes to just over 276 yards. It’s listed as a worsted weight yarn but I think it’s closer to aran.

Size made: 18 mo. Model is 11 mo but wears 12-18 mo clothes.

Needles: US6s for the yoke, 7s for the body and 10s for the bind off.

Modifications: I worked M1R and M1L the standard way (it’s listed differently in the pattern).

Difficulty: Easy, but not beginner-easy. Read the instructions carefully to be sure you know when to work flat vs. in the round, how to work the armholes, etc.

Ravelled: here.

The Pretty

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The model tends to be in constant motion, so getting clear pics was a little tricky! It looks super cute, but it’s too long for her right now. There’s room in the body for her to grow into, so I think it will fit her better next fall or spring. If I made it again, I would shorten it quite a bit.

The yarn was lovely to work with. It’s a cotton, alpaca and silk blend. It’s very soft and silky but the cotton gives it a good bit of structure. I love the color and it survived the dryer looking no worse for wear. The buttons I dug out of the button hoard are awesome! You can kind of see them in the first pic. They are orange with white polka dots.

Overall, this was a nice pattern to knit. I could see myself making it again, just shorter. It would be a great summer dress for a little babe as it’s easy to get on and off. I like how it looks in the solid color, but I think it would work well with a semisolid or tonal yarn, too.

Happy knitting!