Category Archives: accessories

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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Filed under accessories, cables, design

The advantage of being nonsensical

I don’t know about you, but around these parts in southern Ontario we are now reaching that time of the summer when temperatures reach approximately a billion and eleven degrees outside. (Approximately). It happens every July and we always like to hope that maybe this year will be the year it doesn’t happen (there was that time a couple of years ago when it didn’t happen and everyone complained about how cold it was. I loved it), but then the first 30C+ day hits. And then the first week of nothing but 30C+ days. And then just when we’re getting used to that, the weather amps it up and decides that 40C+ days will be in the offing, and where’s the fun in a mild 30% humidity index when 80% would be so much more tortuous?

So basically all you can hope to do is cling to cold beverages and air conditioning if you’ve got it, while slowly going a little bit batty wondering if you’re never going to get to wear socks or things with sleeves ever again. Last week I finished a project and as a palette cleanser, I cast on myself a hat (my Union Station beret pattern, almost done and waiting to be blocked and flattened into beret form, in Knit Picks Wool of the Andes worsted in Amethyst Heather), and something occurred to me.

Guys, July really is knitter’s time. No really, hear me out.

July3-Beret1

It’s stealth knitter’s time because nobody would expect you to be thinking about knitting right now. Any sensible person would be clutching a margarita on a shaded porch, not holding something made of wool and motion, surely? But even if you’re not feeling the pull towards the needles, the first thing you’ve got to consider about July is that, if your yarn stores are like mine, July is prime time for sales. It’s often when yarn stores make the transition from spring to fall inventory and have to make room for things, and don’t you want to help out your local yarn shop by giving them less to count? Of course you do. I can think of three Toronto stores off of the top of my head that like to plan sales for early July (or the whole month), and man, this is your time to shine. All those sweaters you were thinking about knitting last winter or spring but didn’t get the time for before you transitioned over to socks and lace? Stock up now. The yarn might well be on sale, and maybe even in the colour you couldn’t find last time you looked.

The other thing about being a knitter in the summer (and this can go hand in hand with the first thing, if you play your cards right and happen upon the right bargains), is that almost nobody is thinking about knitting winter projects. In the heat of July, there is really very little likelihood that there will be a run on the bulky alpaca or the Malabrigo chunky. All that bulky thick-and-thin stuff that you can whip off a gift cowl with in one or two skeins? Get it now. You could score a sweater’s worth or a few scarves’ worth of wintry wooly stuff right now pretty easily, then pull it out in October with a really smug expression when everybody else is trying to find it in the same colour that you already had stashed because you, the stealth summer knitter, were planning ahead.

While we’re thinking ahead to winter knitting projects, (and maybe taking a moment to imagine what it feels like to be standing in a snowbank – go ahead, I’ll wait, it’s highly recommendable) think back to last winter and the kinds of things you were furiously knitting around December. Were there things you were rapidly knocking off as gifts and needed more yarn for? Were you suddenly making hats for everyone in your family and found yourself short of 16″ circular needles for hats? I suddenly stopped and remembered that last winter when I was knitting hats, I was having the damndest time finding 16″ circulars in 4.5mm or 5.0mm, because everyone knits hats in December. You know when people are less likely to be buying up all those needles? July. My December self is going to thank me.

Stay cool and stealthy, knitting friends!

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Urban Collection: Queen St. Mitts

I think I’ve officially lost track of the weather around here. Afternoons are starting to get warm and sunny, but overnight the temperature still plunges towards freezing, which makes getting dressed in the morning a bit of a challenge. It occurred to me that, you know what? This is exactly the time of year that fingerless mitts are meant for. Some days you need that extra bit of insulation around your hands, only to tuck them away in your purse or pocket later on on the day.

On that note, I’m pleased to present the seventh pattern of eight in the Urban Collection (Ravelry link), the Queen St. Mitts.

Mitts1a

Since I wanted the pattern collection to be versatile both in garments and in yarn selection, I decided to use sock-weight yarn for something that wasn’t socks. After all, many of us are frequently tempted by that single skein of sock yarn purchase in a shop or at a knitter’s fair, and some times you want something to do with it that isn’t socks. At the same time, I was having a hard time putting away the aran-style cables that appear in several other pieces in the collection and thought, you know? Let’s just do that on a pair of mitts. Aran sweater styling in miniature, but with the chance to let loose with some crazy colour, too.

Mitts6a

These mitts are worked in Tanis Fiber Arts Blue Label fingering weight (superwash merino/nylon), in the bold ‘Lemongrass’ colour. I’ve been wanting to do something with this colour for so long, and decided to break it out for this project. You can get away with bright colours like this more easily with small accessories, since it’s less of a risk than something that might cover your whole upper body like a sweater. (But man, if any of you knit up a full sweater in Lemongrass, call me. I want to know what that looks like.)

The main pattern along the back of the hand is a spring-like combination of cables, bobbles, and texture, while the palms are more modest with a cable and rib combination. I’m quite pleased with how these turned out, and might have to go back for a second pair in another colour.

Mitts4a

I enjoy the way fingerless mitts offer a small and relatively quick canvas to explore various techniques – I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised how fast these will knit up – and am going to keep it in mind for future projects. More fingerless mitts, fewer cold hands!

Also, it’s fitting that I post about these today, since it’s Tanis‘ birthday, from whom the yarn comes. Have a great day, Tanis!

Happy knitting this weekend, everyone!

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Filed under accessories, cables, design

The Urban Collection: Armour Road Socks and Hunter Street Cowl

As March continues to, well, march on, it’s time to update you on the full complement of March patterns in the Urban Collection! (Ravelry link) the Water Street Cardigan got things off to a good start earlier in the month, and I’m pleased to add a couple of spring accessories to the mix as well. As always, these patterns take their names from cities I’ve spent time in as a knitter, and Peterborough, Ontario streets are up this month.

First, allow me to introduce the Armour Road socks (Ravelry link):

Socks5

I have a confession to make. When I first started planning this collection, I gave myself a rule: no socks. I figured, heck, I’ve done a lot of sock designs in the past, so why not push myself towards other ideas? But then I got to thinking and couldn’t resist a pair of quick ones. I’ve lately been enjoying reaching for the DK or sport-weight yarns for socks every so often, since they make for relatively quick and very comfortable socks indeed.

This pair uses 1-2 skeins of Tanis Fiber Arts Yellow Label DK (the line between 1 and 2 skeins is around a Size 10 Ladies’ foot, with ankle circumference of 9″ or less. Those knitting for a longer foot or wider foot/ankle circumference should grab a second skein for safety), and also shows off a lovely and simple twisted stitch pattern running down the instep and the back of the leg. They are shown here in the ‘Dove’ colourway, but would be beautiful in just about any colour you like, I think.

Socks3

These are worked in the round from the cuff down, on 3.25mm needles or your preferred needle size for 6 sts/inch. I quite like the way these show off the twisted stitch motifs, because they look sleek and elegant enough that you’d hardly know they are a slightly bulkier sock than normal. I could see these becoming an easy pair to reach for instead of slippers, on a chilly morning, or worn inside clogs or boots when out and about.

Socks2

One of my goals in for the Urban Collection was a set of garments that would give the knitter a diverse enough wardrobe of knitwear to dress for any occasion. I also wanted to use a variety of yarn weights, since Tanis has several beautiful yarn lines to choose from. (There are one or two yarns that haven’t popped up yet – you might take a guess from there as to what you’ll see in the April patterns! ;) ) So, this meant taking a crack at something using laceweight yarn.

Laceweight wool yarn is, no doubt about it, one of the best ‘bang for your buck’ yarns you can get. A skein of TFA Pink Label laceweight costs less than a skein of sock yarn and has yardage for days. On the other hand, I wanted to avoid using this for a shawl pattern, since I know laceweight shawls can often be intimidating, and since I’ve pulled out several cabled patterns already in this collection, I wanted to make sure I left one or two towards the simple end of the spectrum. And last year I remembered seeing all these girls on campus wearing these loose lacy cowl/scarf things, and thought heck, that’s what I want to do with this yarn.

HunterStCowl9b

Worn ‘single’, the Hunter Street Cowl (Ravelry link) has the appearance of a loose scarf, and worn ‘double’ wrapped around the neck it collapses and scrunches a bit into a comfier and easy accessory. Once again, this piece is shown in the ‘Dove’ colourway, but I could see it being pretty fantastic in a lot of colours. In fact, I might just snap up another skein of Pink Label for just this purpose when I cruise Tanis’ booth at the Knitter’s Frolic next month.

HunterStCowl4b

In thinking this pattern though, I played around for a bit with some all-over lace patterns, but in the end I decided to simplify it even further than that. What resulted was the light and lofty accessory you see here. Worked in the round with a few vertical lace panels placed on a field of stockinette, this is believe it or not a pretty speedy pattern. Completing this one (to a height of 8 inches) took me about a week, and before I’d cast it off I knew I was going to start a second one. It turned out about how I wanted, but I definitely had some leftover yarn. I thought to myself, “dude, why didn’t you just use the whole skein? So I’ve started another one (what with a fit of start-itis this past weekend), and man, this time I’m not stopping until that whole 1000-yd skein is used up. (And I include notes in the pattern about how you can do this to, and still make sure you’ve got enough to use in the final edge and bind-off.)

HunterStCowl5b

Thanks to Bridget for obliging me with cowl photos this past Saturday “on location” in Peterborough, and to Austen (model) and Jane (photographer) for photography help once more with the socks. Thanks also to Kate Atherley for technical editing and to Tanis once more for the collection yarn support.

And thank you, knitting friends, for your interest in these patterns! Working on this collection has been a great project and I will almost be sad to unveil the final 2 patterns in April. (Well, except I will also be happy to show them off, heh).

Happy knitting this fine Tuesday! I hope spring is treating you well so far.

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Lickety split

One thing that I learned last weekend during my stint at the yarn shop was how easily knitters reach for bulky wool this time of year. It seemed like every 2nd person was asking about what bulky yarn options were there, and more likely than not it was because they were knitting gifts and they wanted them to go quickly. (Who would have thought? Gifts that knit quickly? You mean not all gifts have to be on fingering weight? Dude, I’ve been going about this all wrong.) While I was there I also fondly petted my Frostbite hat and mitt samples, which currently reside at the Purple Purl along with several hard copy patterns.

And you know, darned if people weren’t knitting it. I mean, we always hope for this, as designers, but it was a new thing for me to watch it happen in real time. (Admittedly, it tickled me to no end. I kept my glee on the inside and attempted to remain professional.)  Over the course of the weekend a few folks purchased yarn to make Frostbites (some for themselves, though, of which I approve – knit yourself something over the holidays too, I always say), which tickled me to no end. And then after a weekend of watching people snap up the bulky yarn like crackers, and then after the beginning of a week week that saw me finishing a sizeable deadline project before carrying on to all the other many deadline projects on my list, and sometimes I just miss the knitted samples I have to part with, and I arrived at Wednesday and just wanted something that I could start and finish in less than a week and said “I WANT A QUICK HAT TOO. SO THERE, TO-DO LIST. I’LL DEAL WITH YOU LATER. Me and the bulky yarn, we have GOT THIS.”

Dec9-Frostbite

So this is all a long way of saying that I am knitting myself my own hat and mitt set. I cast on the hat on Wednesday night and by dinnertime on Thursday I was already ready to start the first mitten. Like, this thing practically blinks itself off the needles. (It’s in some stashed Wool of The Andes Bulky, from Knit Picks. Judging by how many colours they seem to need to re-stock, I’m guessing there are a few more bulky knitters out there.) I love it. Why have I neglected bulky yarn for so long? More bulky knits in 2012, I say.

A good thing I finally came to my senses on this, because it’s all in time for December to finally declare itself known. After November failed to make up its mind on what season it was in, we are going into the second weekend of December with a little bit of this on the ground:

Dec9-Snow

The weekend ahead is threatening a bit of Christmas-tree-getting, cookie baking, and yet more knitting. (Probably some adult beverages, too.) So all in all that’s a pretty good docket. I hope you’ve got a great weekend ahead of you as well, and that the knitting is under control! And you know, even if it isn’t under control, well, it’ll still be fine. Have a cookie anyway.

Catch you next week!

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[ETA] Jen, the multi-colour sock knitter from my previous post, reports that it was these socks (Ravelry link) that she was knitting. Free pattern, and easy with sock yarn leftovers. Very groovy.

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Chilly Podsters

[Note from the future: The most current pattern file version is as of February 28/2012. Please feel free to re-download as needed! Enjoy!]

Knitters, I promised you a free pattern this month, and since I am alarmed to discover that it is very soon going to be next month and not this month (ahahahahhaha let’s not even talk about how much I haven’t started planning for Christmas), I had better get cracking and do a proper introduction between you and these Chilly Podsters!

In the process of giving my regular Podster mitts a refresher earlier this fall, I said to myself, “self, these need to be warmer. These need a sister in worsted weight.” And my self agreed, and wouldn’t you know it, less than a week later I had a pair of these. I give you the Chilly Podsters, available for free in my Ravelry store, or here as a PDF download.

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This pattern is everything the original Podsters are – convertible, flip-top mitten/gloves, with a modified thumb that allows you to sneak your own thumb in and out, for access to your iPod or cell phone or camera buttons, or anything else you might want easier access to without having to rip the whole mitten off your hand to do it – but in worsted weight instead of fingering weight. True story. They also come in 2 sizes.

I used some of my remaining Ultra Alpaca to make mine, so that I’d have a matching pair of mitts to go with my Gateway Scarf, but these are essentially knittable in almost any worsted or DK yarn you’ve got stashed. They are knitted at a relatively snug 6 sts/inch, which means they will be nice and warm. The small size will use 1 skein of Ultra Alpaca or similar 100g worsteds like Cascade 220 or Plymouth Galway, and the larger skein uses just slightly more than 1 skein (I could tell you it’s a 1 skein project for both sizes, but your mileage may vary and it’s just too close to call. If you buy 2 skeins and don’t use most of the 2nd one…well, didn’t you need to make yourself a matching hat, anyway?)

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Enjoy, my knitter friends! I daresay these would make a practical knit for you and a few Christmas gift recipients. A word to the wise, though – take a pause between pairs. The only downside of knitting at a snug gauge is that it does add some strain to your hands, so be kind to them.

And happy knitting this fine (or rainy, if you’re where I am) Tuesday.

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Filed under accessories, design, free pattern