Monthly Archives: December 2012

Pause button

The holidays definitely have a lot going for them, I’ll say that much. Lots of eating and visiting and sitting around, and then more eating, and I am left with the strange combination of feeling fatigued but rested at the same time. I quite like the between-time of after Christmas and before New Year’s day, in some ways even more so than Christmas itself, because the pace is still slow and you can let the real-world regular routine crawl back slowly.

As for my knitting this week, well. I did manage one or two things. I finished a Squall Hat for my sister, because she wanted a hat (It took just over 1 skein of Berrocco Peruvia Quick):

Dec25-MarthaHat

And I finished the first sock of a pair I’ve had waiting in my handbag for quite a while (languishing since I’ve made sleeves my portable knitting lately, rather than socks). It turns out you can knit the entire foot of a sock during The Hobbit (Socks That Rock lightweight, in ‘Tlingit’):

Dec28-RibbedSocks

And let me tell you, dear knitters, it is a good thing I knitted those things, because it turns out that all of the other knitting I spent the last three days on turned out to be ill-fated. I sat down this afternoon to finish the second sleeve on the Bonnie sweater I started a couple of weeks ago, because I was pretty close to finished, and noticed a problem.

Dec28-BonnieRip2

Knitting in the relatively darker television room in the basement for most of the last few days, I completely failed to notice that ever time I reached for a new ball of yarn, I was reaching for one of a different dye lot. It wasn’t just one sleeve, either – both sleeves had strong horizontal dye-lot-change lines across them screaming “LOOK AT ME, DUMMY. I’M HERE TO RUIN YOUR DAY.”

I took a closer look at my yarn supplies and discovered that I had enough of one dye lot (I think, at least) to knit the whole body, and enough of the other to knit the sleeves. However, neither sleeve was started with the “sleeve quantity” dye lot.

I have ripped them both out.

Dec28-BonnieRip

I’m not re-casting on immediately, strong though the temptation may be. At the moment I’m just going to let the yarn sit in its bag and think about its crimes, and maybe start an internet-wide search for more Mission Falls 1824 in deep purple #024. (If you’ve got any stashed at home, seriously, we can make a deal.) I shall proceed for the rest of the afternoon with a different project and, soon, a cocktail.

I hope your holiday knitting time has gone well this week! What neglected projects have you been able to rediscover?

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And to all a good knit

It’s about to be a busy place around these parts pretty soon, with some holiday eating, drinking, and general festivity rolling out from Christmas Eve onward. Possibly there will even be some knitting in the quiet moments!

In any case, dear blog readers and knitting friends, I wish you Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and most importantly, happy knitting.

Dec24-Corks

(The pattern for these sweet corks is here, should you be left with post-festive-cheer cork supply, restless knitting hands, and an appreciation of utterly cute nonsensical objects.)

Make sure you get some restful knitting time in this week. I’ll catch you on the flip side in a few days!

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The things we do with yarn

It’s been one of those weeks where it feels like the only accomplishments I have to show for it are a project that I’ve ripped out and cast on now for the third time (all since Monday), and that I’ve managed to fight off a cold (I am ready to extoll the virtues of hot lemon with honey). So as I contemplated my cast-on-for-the-third-time project (I think this will be the right one now), I decided to pause and knit some little cozies for gift cards.

Why yes, yes I did.

I’m no stranger to cute tiny knitted things around the holidays, and a couple of weeks ago I came across this little free pattern by Julie Tarsha over at Simply Notable, and could not let go of it.

Dec21-GiftCardigans2

I started to do Julie’s pattern (which is 100% delightful) which is worked as a long flat strip, and then realized I just wanted to work in the round because it seemed mentally easier at the time, and then said oh heck, I’ll just do plain ribbing. That’ll be fine.

And you know, it really WAS fine. These are adorable. Each one took maybe an hour, possibly less.

Dec21-GiftCardigans

I mean, they’re also entirely non-sensical, let’s get that straight too. It’s a knitted cozy for a gift card, which is itself already a fully-formed gift. The card does not need wool to keep it warm. At this point you’re essentially putting it in hand-knit wrapping paper. But I just love the whole idea of adding the handmade touch because it still conveys the “I got this just for you, I hope you like it” sensibility. I actually don’t mind gift cards because then you get the excuse to go buy something fun, but the actual packaging does feel a bit impersonal. But grab some leftover wool and sha-zam! Personalized touch.

I hope you’re all doing well with your holiday plans or prep or whatever may be keeping you busy this week! I am looking forward to getting in the knitting time when I can, and some cookies on the side for sure.

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How I made my gift card cozies, in case you want to do the same thing:

Cast on 28 sts with worsted weight wool, in 3.75mm DPNs or closest similar needle size to hand. Work in the round in k2, p2 ribbing to length of gift card (3.5 ins or so). BO and graft bottom closed, or use kitchener stitch to close bottom of tube. Sew button to one side of top, work short single-chain crochet closure to finish.

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Stash diving

This afternoon I found myself in the rare and coveted (and usually very brief) situation of having finished all the active knitting projects I’ve had on the go for the last few weeks – including the Noro striped scarf, which has been duly deployed into service. Often I’ll just start a new project one at a time, when one gets finished, so that the number of projects I have going maintains a fairly consistent level, but this time I just had to get to the point of starting fresh. (Well, relatively speaking. There are a couple of other projects on the needles that are unfinished, but more on the sidelines than active works in progress). It’s just nice to have that feeling of a blank slate every so often.

I’ve had several things waiting in the wings to get onto the needles for quite a while, and today I took a couch-and-knitting day in an attempt to fend off some oncoming congestion (possibly a losing battle, but one does need to try, of course), and so NEW PROJECTS AHOY.

First I started the quickest thing I’ve been wanting to do – a big cozy seed stitch cowl (just like all the cool kids have been making these days) with some Malabrigo Rasta I bought this past summer. (The colour is ‘Solis’, since I know some folks will want to know – it’s wonderful).

Dec14-MalabrigoCowlSince starting with a quick project like this that is bound to be over almost as soon as it’s started – honestly, I can’t imagine I’ll still be knitting it on Monday, this yarn is super bulky and anything on 12mm needles can’t possibly be slow – is basically like stacking the deck in my favour, I also started in on a sweater. I’m pretty cool with the sweater not having a finite deadline in mind and it’s nice to start a sweater in December because even if you still take three or four months to finish it, you still stand a chance of getting to wear it before spring comes. (At least if you live in Ontario).

Nov16-BonnieStash

About a month ago I joked with Fiona that she should just tell me what to knit, since I was pretty sure whatever sweater I made for myself this winter was going to be one of her designs. And lo and behold I remembered then that I had long ago purchased her Bonnie pattern, and was pretty sure I had even put it away with the yarn to knit it with. So I went stash diving (always an enlightening experience if you have several years’ worth of yarn-stashing under your belt and haven’t had a full look-through in a while), and discovered that yes, in fact, I still had 20 skeins of Mission Falls 1824 wool. It’s in a deep dark purple which I sort of love for these cables. Even though they won’t stand out as much, they will be that much dressier and subtle, which is a nice combination to have in one’s knitted wardrobe.

This should be no problem at all. The size I want to make calls for 18 skeins, so I should have plenty, but there is a degree of difficulty here from the fact that this wool has been discontinued for about two years now. This means that if I get halfway through the button-band and run out of yarn, there is no more yarn. HAH HAH. I’m also planning a couple of pattern modifications (adding waist shaping, for one, cardigan-izing it for another), which shouldn’t necessarily add yardage to it so much as alter it, but again, you never know.

Dec14-BonnieSleeve

So, I’m starting with a sleeve. I think I’m good to go with gauge but just in case, I’m starting with a sleeve. If it works out I’ll knit the second sleeve before starting the body, and if it doesn’t work, then at least I’ll only have to rip out a sleeve before starting over again.

Also, it’s deeply satisfying to be knitting with yarn that has been stashed for so long – I’ve got to try this more often.

I hope you have a great weekend ahead, with some knitting time included! Happy Friday.

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Monday knitting report – outlook good

1. So, while I didn’t finish two sweaters and a scarf last week, as was my original plan/fantasy, I did finish one sweater and seventy-five percent of a scarf.

Dec10-NoroScarf

2. I would still really rather be wearing the scarf than knitting the scarf, but I persevere.

3. The Noro striped scarves always turn out so nicely that I can forgive the gods of random-Noro-stripe-combinations for tossing out the occasional bit of olive green sludge. The bright red and blue stripes will look yet awesomer in contrast.

Dec10-NoroScarf2

4. The second sweater is done enough that I have very high hopes for it and my three hours of transit knitting time later today, when I shall be whisked away to sunny exotic Peterborough for some visiting with knitting friends and general pre-holiday relaxation. (There is talk of a ‘Love Actually’ viewing and eating of cheese, both of which I can get on board with).

5. The sweater that I did finish, got finished with the help of some steek reinforcement, cutting, and finishing, which I haven’t done in a while and every time I do it I remember how much fun it is.

Dec7-Steek1

6. It’s especially fun to do the reinforcing and finishing in a fabulously outlandish contrasting colour that nobody in the outside world will ever see.

Dec10-SteekReinforcement

7. This in combination with the colour-work class I taught yesterday makes me want to knit all the colour-work things, and then steek all the things.

8. Clearly the knitter in my head has ambitious plans for the week to come – I sure hope I catch up to her!

Happy knitting this Monday!

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New Pattern(s): Squall Set

So, winter’s coming on, and it’s about this time that I tend to take a little mental inventory of the items in the accessory basket (usually there’s something that went astray last year, never to return), and immediately wish I had about twelve more things to choose from. This is, let’s face it, at least partly due to vanity (who doesn’t want glove options in every possible colour?), but also partly because it’s just plain nice to have something new. And the only issue with that sensibility is that by the time I cast on for a new hat or pair of mittens, I already wish I was wearing them. Accessories are the fastest possible garments a knitter can make, and yet when it’s cold outside and you want that hat right now right now please, almost nothing can be knitted fast enough to satisfy the preening impatient knitter in your head. (Or, maybe it’s just my head. It’s entirely possible this is just me.)

Dec1-SquallHat4

In any event, I decided that this would be the winter that I fully embraced the bulky knits. You just cannot beat the chunky yarn for speed, so all I wanted was something that would be both quick to knit and satisfying to wear. The hat(s) you see here is the result of a few different attempts, where I just kept streamlining further and further and finally took the “just do more with garter stitch” admonishments of fellow knitter friend Jane under advisement, paired it up with a few awesome big cables, and ta-da. This hat is pretty much my new favourite thing ever.

Dec1-SquallHat2

The Squall hat (available on Ravelry and Patternfish) uses a single skein of Sweet Georgia Superwash Chunky, or the equivalent yardage of chunky weight wool (we’re talking in the neighbourhood of 100-120 yds per 100g skein), and is genuinely so fast that by the time you start to maybe possibly think about how long it’s taking you to knit it…you’re already knitting your second one. And the garter stitch panels are just squishy enough to feel not just warm but comforting when you put it on your head, and excuse me I think I might feel a garter stitch jag coming on. There’s nothing quite like it for winter.

Dec2-SquallHat1b

Dec2-Mittens3b

Of course, once I got the hat in order I couldn’t help but want mittens to go with it, so the matching Squall Mittens (on Ravelry, and on Patternfish) were not far behind. These take 2 skeins of Sweet Georgia chunky, or about 150-175 yards of your preferred chunky yarn, and I love them too. They use the same combination of big cable and garter stitch, which makes for a pretty sturdy mitten when worked at a slightly snug needle size (these are on 5.5mm needles for the mitten, while the hat uses 6.5mm).

(Colours: the top purple one is ‘blackberry’, and the other green hat and mitts are in ‘spruce’.)

Dec1-Mitten2

Basically, winter can come now. I’ve got the knits and I’m ready to go.

I hope you enjoy the patterns, and that your own winter knitting is well in hand!

Many thanks to Maeve for tech editing, Austen, Fiona, and Gwen for test-knitting, and Anastasia and Jane for patiently modelling. Thank you ladies!

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Sometimes the knitting is motivation for the other knitting

1. So now that it’s a couple of days into December, I had fully planned on having cast on at least one new sweater by now, because I was going to have the two other sweaters I was working on finished by the end of November.

2. Of course, this means that both of these sweaters are still on the needles. They are both more than half done, and the burgundy-purple-Cascade-cabley one in fact only needs half a sleeve and some finishing before it’s done. It just needs that final push, and it’s going to be awesome when it’s done, but I am dragging my heels on it like it’s an essay I’m not going to write until the night before it’s due.

Dec3-Duchess1

3. I think this is what my friend Lisa refers to as “observing Novecember,” wherein one finishes one’s November sweaters a little bit behind schedule. I can live with that.

4. It is perhaps not a coincidence that last week, when I should have been motoring along on the final sweater stages, I was instead knitting up a bunch of bulky wool accessories. Because it turns out that a chunky hat that you can knit in half a day is exactly the kind of thrill knitting can buy you, and I am totally on board.

Dec3-BulkyKnits

5. There are patterns forthcoming for said bulky things, in case more of you want that same quick thrill. (And a warm head. If you can get both, why not, I say.)

6. I also cast on a new Noro striped scarf with some Silk Garden from the stash (because I figure you get bonus points from knitting with stash, always). I knitted one a few years ago back when everyone else was knitting them, then lost it two winters ago and my winter scarf selection still hasn’t recovered.

Dec3-NoroScarf

7. I’m not sure how this is going to get my finished sweaters done any quicker, but I think it’s going to work out somehow.

8. Even if it doesn’t work out for the sweaters this week, at least I’ll have a new scarf.

Happy knitting this week, knitter friends!

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