Monday, December 29, 2014

stranded in stockholm

Finally a pair of gloves that I didn't give up on! I thought I had a jinx when it came to me and knitting hand wear. This pattern came along, and I enjoyed working these from start to finish. Similar to the experience I had with the other pattern I've made from Ysolda's Knitworthy collection, Mitbringsel results in a lovely pair of fingerless gloves that I am loathe to give away.

One of the things I've found I like best about these patterns (besides the smashing designs) is that I learn something new with each one. These gloves start out with a really intriguing i-cord technique that makes stitching up four fingers at once a breeze. Unrelated to the pattern, but due to the fact that I don't have dpns in a size 8, I also taught myself how to work in the round using the magic loop technique. It really is magic! Once you get the hang of wrangling the tangle of cord it is actually very easy. I also watched a nice video (from, love those) that helped me avoid ladders at the gap before they were ever a problem. 

The other big thing I learned that I've been wanting to try out is stranded colorwork. It has always seemed a bit intimidating and for super advanced folks, but this small project with aran weight yarn made it very approachable and easy. As if magic loop and i-cord fingers weren't enough. Before I knew it I had breezed through the first chart and was well into the second. 

And then it just kept on growing! With each row being different and the pattern showing through as I went the inches went by and I was quickly down to the garter stitch cuff on the first glove. I changed one thing about this design, and that is simply the specifics of where the colors were used. I wanted to use up some leftovers that I had limited yardage of so I switched the color of the finger section to match the cuff to avoid running out of the dark brown. 

All three yarns are single ply fluffy wool so they ended up playing together very well. The gloves are thick and warm due to the floats behind the stitching which make it basically double thick. They will be very warm, I'm sure! I made these for a friend who is moving to Stockholm in January, so I am hoping they will be effective and useful. She is originally from Sweden but has been living here in California for a few years. If I learned anything from my first few visits back to Chicago after moving here, it is that it definitely doesn't take long to lose our immunity to cold!

I finished these on Christmas Eve. I think they will be my last finish of the year. I'm looking forward to more knitting and crocheting next year and also working my way back to sewing and quilting. Now for the pattern basics (more details on my Ravelry page):

Pattern: Mitbringsel, by Ysolda Teague (Knitworthy Collection)
Needle: size 8, 29" metal
Yarn: Manos del Uruguay wool clasica in "flame" and "coffee", Stitch Nation in "mediterranean"

Monday, December 22, 2014


Having finished the last stitch of Cambria the day before flying back to California from my stay in Chicago, I of course had to spend the morning both packing AND starting a new project for the plane. As I'm sure I've said before, I can't stand not having something yarny to do on planes. It relaxes me in an otherwise stressful and unpleasant situation. 

Luckily, on a lark I took along one skein of Prairie on the off chance that I finished "that huge shawl project". Needless to say, I thanked my past self for the forethought even if it was done with kind of a "yeah right that's not gonna happen" sort of attitude. Take that, past self. 

A long, long time ago (in a galaxy far, far away) I bought this yarn from Knit, Purl in Portland to make a shawl from one of my books, but the collective wisdom on Ravelry had very few good things to say about the pattern when I got around to looking it up. I started a section and didn't love it, either. Not wanting to waste this yarn on a project I didn't think I would end up using, stitching stopped and it sat around waiting for quite a while until I found a suitable pattern to try next. This is now going to turn into a crocheted shawl pattern out of an Interweave Crochet magazine. While endeavoring to make from my stash this year I decided I should try to use my printed resources, too, so I get to feel good about two things. 

I'd been hankering for a single stick project to go along with all of those I have going with two sticks, so I wanted to find a good crochet pattern. Also, just look at the way those colors look! I'm not sure that just knitting it up would have the same lovely effect. Because of the way the yarn gets used up with each double or triple crochet stitch, the short and subtle color changes wrap over and under each other really giving the whole thing depth. If I'm not mistaken, fomhar is Gaelic for autumn/harvest. When this yarn is worked up it looks to me like a dappled autumn day. The color way is 'filigree'.

I finished a couple of rows of shells which doesn't look like much, but it's lace weight yarn! That actually is a lot of stitches. I haven't made much progress on this since that flight, but I was really trying to be good and get Dad's scarf made before I went back to it. This will be a project that moseys along at its own pace with no particular rush. I'd like to be able to wear it by next fall, so y'know that's time.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Tweed, completed

I finished Dad's scarf in time for the holidays! I'm feeling pretty accomplished. That's a lot of knitting, folks. I don't really want to think about how many episodes of Arrow led to the finishing of this scarf. Let's just say I'm feeling pretty caught up!

Scarves are actually pretty hard for me because they are so long. I lose attention about 1/3 of the way through and just have to power through the rest. (The last scarf I started ended up as a collar!) Thankfully the stripes kept it interesting. "Just a few more rows until I get to switch colors!" was said many times. Hey, whatever works. Plus, the motivation to finish it in time to ship it for Christmas was pretty strong. Also, Arrow. I love me some super hero serials. But that's another story. 

I started out doing large blocks of color and then remembered Dad wanted kind of random stripes, so I ended up with three sections: large blocks, thin stripes, medium stripes. It's not quite a Dr. Who scarf, but something approximating what I think he really meant by "knit me a Dr. Who scarf". It has stripes, many colors, and is quite long, but not too many colors, a little bit of order to the stripes, and not so long as to be absurd.

As a reminder, this is Purl Bee's Mini Herringbone Scarf pattern and is knitted in acrylic Lion Brand Heartland yarn. I knit it on size 10 bamboo straight needles (more details on my Ravelry page). The herringbone texture is lovely and the fabric is nice and thick which makes for a warm cozy scarf. It's not really what I would call a true reversible pattern, but the back has nice even purl bumps that look quite neat and tidy with the exception of the inevitable color change strip. 

I got the ends woven in with a little effort (allll the ends!) and kind of stretch-fluffed it out in lieu of blocking. Unlike some folks who had written comments about their efforts on Ravelry I didn't have any issue with the shape distorting into a parallelogram so I didn't feel the need to further mess with it. Plus Dave said so. I listen to the husband's advice when he offers it! 

I actually really like when he chimes in, especially when it's comments like "wow that's really nice" or "you're so darn good at knitting things" as I got during the process on this one. Maybe he's fishing for one of his own?? I've got some gloves in the works for him whenever I get around to winding the yarn so hopefully he likes those just as well. As for this bad boy, he's all packed up and shipped off to go under the tree in Chicago! I hope it likes cold weather. One should think so, it is a long and fluffy scarf after all. 

Friday, December 19, 2014

Cambria, knitted

I finished this just before Thanksgiving, while hanging out on the couch at my parents' place in Chicago. The following is a photographic ode to what I think is a stunning shawl that I enjoyed working on enough to make another one some day. 

I haven't blocked it yet (shock and surprise) but already the wingspan is gargantuan. It ate up just about all of the two skeins of 400+ yards that I had and a good chunk of my leftover La Jolla for those little contrasting stripes. I ran out of the variegated color most of the way through the third stripe so that one is two rows shorter and I simply used the brown for the rest of the way. It's no big deal, I like the way the whole thing turned out and I won't notice two fewer rows in one of the sections. I will note that although it doesn't look like it, this is total potato chip knitting. Not only do the stripes keep you knitting, but the rhythm of the short row pattern also makes the rows fly by. Very addicting!

I had a lot of fun photographing this one. The visual texture of the pattern and the way it plays with the variations in yarn color even with the solid is really pleasing to the eye. Plus, obviously my stitch markers had to come along to play. The little bumble bees are nestled in a pretty glass dish I got in Half Moon Bay with my mom on one of her visits. I love me some purple, and it happens to go perfectly with the purple tones in this yarn.

Although I haven't blocked it yet, I can see that it is going to drape very nicely. Using a larger needle with a lighter weight yarn gives this fabric a light and floaty texture. I am imagining being wrapped up in this on a breezy day at the beach or an evening gazing into a campfire. An outdoorsy kind of piece, that's for sure. 

Also, a unicorn. Because, why not? More information can be found on my Ravelry project page and I'll post something after blocking, but here are the basic bits for now because we all know the blocking could be a while:

Pattern: Litchfield Shawl (by Laura Aylor)
Yarn: Manos del Uruguay Alegria in 'malvin', Anzula Squishy in 'sexy', and Baah La Jolla in 'maldives', about 950 yards total
Needles: size 6 to cast on and size 8 to knit the body

This was my first bottom-up shawl and I must say, I think I prefer it. The cast off at the top tab is much less cumbersome, and the bottom edge is a neater cast on row. Neater for me, anyway -- my cast offs are never as nice. Another plus in my mind is that the longest rows are out of the way while I'm still really excited about the newly started project. By the time I'm in the middle and wanting to cast on something new, the rows go by so fast it really motivates the finishing. So, bottom's up! 

Monday, December 8, 2014

evening knitting

My dad actually asked for something specific for Christmas this year, which is basically unheard of. I'm really tickled that what he wanted was a hand knit scarf. "Long, with stripes, in Dad colors" was the request, so I got to indulge in a little bit of yarn shopping when I returned from my trip.

I knew I wanted to work with at least worsted weight yarn both to make the fabric a little hefty and to make the inches go by at a good clip. I also wanted the yarn to be soft and have great stitch definition but be reasonably priced so I could get 5 different colors. I remembered that I've been wanting to try out Heartland yarn from Lion Brand and there were some great "Dad colors" so I went that route. 

Aside: I spent a lot of vacation in stores perusing wearables and touching lovely knitted things. So many of the knits you can get in stores are made with acrylic yarns that manage to be soft and really appealing (a la the Anhild cowl at Anthropologie). With the exception of a few of the bulkier Lion Brand yarns, I haven't really seen anything similar in either the small local yarn stores or the larger craft stores. Where do we home knitters get to find these mythical creatures? And in all the great colors?

After browsing on Ravelry for a while looking at patterns, I discovered two things. First, it's really difficult to find unique but classic patterns for men. There are a lot of patterns with elaborate lace (too girly), lots of cables (probably not great with stripes), or just plain garter or stockinette stitch (kind of boring). I wanted something a little different to both hold my attention while knitting and strike that elusive balance between simple and eye catching. This leads me to my second discovery, the mini herringbone scarf from Purl Bee.  

I started but stopped an effort at the big herringbone cowl from the same site a while back. I'm not sure why, but the stitches seemed very foreign and complicated to me at the time so I decided no more. This version is not exactly the same, but very close and I've had no trouble getting started and memorizing the pattern. I'm a few stripes in and enjoying this as a way to feel like watching Arrow on Netflix isn't an idle evening activity. :)

I can already tell I'm going to like how this turns out. The fabric is sturdy but still springy, and the yarn shows off the herringbone stitch beautifully. I wasn't totally sure about the stripes not competing with the stitch pattern since I only saw one other project use multiple colors, but based on what I have right now I am pretty sure it won't be a problem! One foot down, several more to go….