Category Archives: accessories

Hold that thought

Back in September at the Kitchener-Waterloo Knitter’s Fair, I stopped by the Purple Purl booth and had a small falling down in front of the Twinkle Soft Chunky that they had on sale to clear. I had always looked at it longingly in the shop, thinking that “one day” I would just buy a mess of it and whip off a few quick knits for instant gratification. But then I saw I might lose the chance, so I bought five skeins. As one does.

I figured that the time would come when I would want to knit a few chunky things. It turns out that time is now, when the cold has speedily reached negative double digits and already my Berocco Ultra Alpaca beret is just not quite cutting it any more. (Clearly, this winter is not fooling around. Must be making up for last year’s mediocre effort.) I first knitted up a Speedy Cabled Beret, which is now blocking out, and moved on next to a large-ish cowl of generic quality. (I cast on about 76 sts, and am working the whole thing in mistake rib.)

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The vast majority of my projects are knit on either fingering weight (socks, gloves, shawls, you know) or worsted weight (sweaters, or hats, or just about anything really), so it’s a rare day when I have to pull out 10mm needles. This is quite a trip. On the one hand, the stitches are huge which means I am making quick progress without even trying, but on the other hand they are clunky and a bit unwieldy in your hands when you’re not used to anything larger than 4.5mm on a normal basis.

So it’s a change of pace if nothing else, which is also what I was going for. In the midst of all my other ongoing projects it feels good to say “STOP. KNIT A HAT. OKAY, CARRY ON. AS YOU WERE.” And winter is most definitely here, so hats and cowls R Us.

Baby, it’s cold outside. Thank you, yarn. I’m glad I have you in my life.

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New Pattern: Nouveau gloves

It can be pretty agonizing sometimes, having new designs in the works and holding off talking about them until the final reveal, but then when I do get to reveal them it feels so, so satisfying. The pattern I have to show you this week is one of two that I’ve been working on for Spring 2010 for Tanis Fiber Arts. Tanis will have this pattern in hard copy debut at her booth at Toronto’s Knitter’s Frolic this coming May. These are the ‘Nouveau’ gloves (available here on Ravelry, and here on Patternfish):

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I tell you, I was just going to do “a nice little glove pattern” for Tanis. Just something that would use a single skein of her DK weight. Famous last words, right? Well, it does only take a single skein of the Yellow Label DK, but it is certainly one or two steps up from simple. It took me a few months to really nail this down, partly because I had thought at first this was going to be a colour-work pattern. As it turned out, once my brain switched to twisted cables, all I needed was a sketch and a bit of Art Nouveau and Art Deco inspiration, and I was off and running.

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What can I say about these gloves? Well, I love them, that’s the first thing. The second thing I can say is that, while I was carrying around the first finished glove in my bag (as one does), I passed it around to everyone who was around to try it on, and it fit everyone. Several people tried it on and said “oooh…” I really like the way these fit. The skeleton of the twisted stitch pattern and twisted stitch ribbing is a “k1tbl, p2″ combination, which means that the reverse side of a lot of purl stitches are on the inside of the glove, and it feels very smooth. The effect of the twisted stitches means that it slips on nice and snugly, but also has a good amount of stretch. These are what the gloves look like off of my hand, by way of example:

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The pattern is fully charted from cuff all the way through the hand, and is worked in the round. The most challenging part for most people is likely going to be the fingers (I try to walk you through this in the pattern instructions as much as possible though – I’m here for you), as glove fingers can be a bit fiddly at the best of times when you’re not also trying to continue a twisted stitch motif from the hands all the way through to the fingertips.

I hope this pattern will be a fun and exciting challenge. Because it is worked on DK weight and not fingering weight, you’ll find it goes a bit more quickly than a comparably challenging pair of socks, and you’ll get to practice your twisted stitches and cables on a relatively small canvas. (Um. I might have twisted stitches and cables coming up on a larger canvas some time in the future. Just saying. ::whistles::)

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The pattern instructions are worked at a gauge of 26 sts/4 inches over 3.25mm needles, decreasing one needle size at the cuff. I am confident that this provides a good fit for most women’s hands, from about 7.0-8.5 inches in circumference. For a more snug fit, decrease all needles by one size. For a larger/looser fit, increase by one size.

I’m glad these babies are out in the world now. If you knit them I hope you will enjoy the process and the result! And as always, please contact me (crazy.knitting.lady[at]gmail.com) if you have pattern-related questions that I can help with.

Happy Wednesday!

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As it turns out

I am entering the New Year with one active project on the needles. (I am not counting that sock that I sort of started as a last-ditch gift effort because it only has two rows on it. That is not a WIP, it is a first draft.) This striped scarf is in two colours of Noro Silk Garden, after the ubiquitous inspiration of Brooklyn Tweed’s Jared Flood. I accomplished about half the scarf through subway and airplane knitting.

I’ve had half the yarn for this scarf since the summer (the black/blue #272 skeins), but then decided I wanted a different pair of skeins to partner with it, and found the #243 pink/blue/green ones at the Romni sale. It’s a more moderate contrast but combines tones and colours that I like, so there are some places that are much less visibly contrasted than others. I like how it’s turning out so far.

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Since a few of you were wondering – yes indeed, I knitted in airports and airplanes, on both the Toronto and the New York (Newark) ends of my trip. I was reminded alternately to remove my earphones and to place my coat/bag in the overhead bin, but no one ever said boo about my knitting. This allowed me to finish a glove on the way there and knit away on my scarf on the way back.

Although I realize that knitting needles may be perceived differently to different air carriers and security checkpoints in different parts of the world (and WOW believe me am I not interested in pulling at that discussion thread here and now), I have not yet (touch wood and turn three times and spit) had any problems taking knitting with me on a plane in North America. I fly a few times a year in Canada and the United States, and my general approach is to bring knitting with me with needles that, if necessary, I could stand to part with. I check the Addis in my suitcase if I need to bring them. Most of the time I am travelling to destinations that would allow me to purchase replacement needles in a jiffy anyhow, and I would rather err on the side of “take knitting and assume it will be fine”, because that way I get to have knitting with me. To err on the side of “don’t take knitting because something bad might happen” is also reasonable, but that way means I don’t get to have my knitting with me. ;)

I have, in this manner, successfully travelled with bamboo straights, metal circulars, metal DPNs, and wood DPNs. So far so good. (I will say however, that this approach doesn’t stop me from fretting. I still fret a little bit. But wouldn’t you rather fret with the chance of still having knitting with you? I would.)

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And while we’re on inquiries – the afternoon tea I had in New York was at Alice’s Tea Cup. It is pretty much always busy, so a person is wise to go in, anticipate having to put in one’s name and cell phone number and come back when a table frees up, but it is worth it for a decadent lunch or treat. The scones are delicious. I strongly recommend visiting the Upper West Side location, because then you are walking distance from Knitty City, but then, you were going to visit Knitty City anyway, right?

Also, the red cabled/bobbled beret in the previous post was my incarnation of Jared Flood’s Laurel beret, and I owe it (and my Tibetan Clouds stole) a proper photo post. Soon.

I hope your last gasps of weekend/holiday are enjoyable. I’m going back to the real world kicking and screaming and don’t care who knows it. Knitting, I’m so glad you’re with me.

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You and me could write a bad romance

Over the last couple of weeks I have had time to come to a few conclusions.

1. When a single human being is required to shoulder all course teaching and grading responsibilities all by her lonesome, it is impossible to be pedagogically sound and temporally efficient all at the same time. Next term, my exams and assignments are going to be reduced by at least 25% in length. I can’t do it all, man, not if it means practically absenting myself from the rest of the world for weeks at a time.

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2. Matching your winter scarf to your winter coat is pretty damned satisfying.

3. I am helpless in the face of pop music earworms. (Latest evidence procured after succumbing once again to Lady Gaga’s latest.)

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4. I don’t know why I never wore slouchy berets before. Now that I have one I am wearing it all the time, and wonder if it may actually be the secret lynchpin of the fashionable handknits wardrobe, in manner of skinny jeans/tall boots combo for the stylish urban woman or similar.

5. In fact, if you combine #3 and #4 and walk down the street in your co-ordinating possibly more stylish than you stylish hand-knits, you can come pretty darned close to feeling like you are strutting a runway, instead of walking down your regular sidewalk past the blue bins that just got emptied by the trash collectors.

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6. To arrive at December 21st and have no baked cookies in the house is practically a crime against the season. I am going to rectify this shortly.

7. It comforts me to no end to know, after my last post, that many of you are also in the gift knitting denial and/or grieving phases. It means I am in good company. But then, you knew that, right?

I thought so.

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Knitting right along

Allow me to say how wonderful it was to read all of your comments on the Mulled Wine Mitts post from a few days ago. I’ve never received so many on a single post before and I am greatly touched and flattered.

And, just as important, I am pleased to announce the three winners of the Canadian Living December issue! I pulled 3 numbers from a Random Number Generator online and those corresponded to comments made (after I indicated the drawing on Wednesday’s post) by Susan from North Carolina, Marianne from Oklahoma, and Ali from Perthshire, Scotland. All 3 lucky knitters have been contacted for their addresses and I’ll be putting the mags in the mail some time next week. For everyone else not in Canada, I will definitely let you know asap if/when the pattern becomes available in any other format. Thank you so much again for your response to the pattern!

I hope your weekend is enjoyable. I’ve got a bit of knitting planned for mine, of course. This week I started two new projects, both interestingly enough in the green-blue-purple spectrum. Clearly my colour jag tendencies have circled back around to the wintery tones, as this Ultra Alpaca scarf can testify.

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I’m working with the simplicity of stripes on this one, having cast on 80 sts in the round, and alternating colours every 3-7 rounds as I please. I’m using 5 different shades in the hopes of getting a finished scarf that looks polished and slightly colourful, but also versatile enough to match different hats and mittens. And I want it to be long enough to wrap around my neck and shoulders and head approximately 3 zillion times, so we’ll see how that goes.

Happy Saturday!

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Knitting Season

[EDITED to add a Note From The Future: Comment here to win a copy of the December 2009 Canadian Living issue mentioned here! All you have to do is Comment and tell me where you’re from and what your favourite thing to knit for winter is. 3 winners will be chosen. That’s right, 3! Share the warmth, baby. Comments accepted until Saturday morning at 10 am EST.]

I don’t know about you people, but something in my knitting impulse had a major shift this past weekend. Maybe it’s my rebound from the knitting ennui talking, but suddenly a few days ago I started looking at my yarn stash, and all of a sudden, knitting socks (as I’ve been doing a lot of lately) was not good enough.  We’re talking mitts, gloves, sweaters, scarves, here. Anything and everything to add layers of warmth because, um…winter is going to be here soon.

Around here we’ve been granted a reprieve this week and the temps are still several degrees above zero, which means this is the perfect time to put in some time on the cold weather knits because I always end up in the trap of only knitting these things when I actually NEED them, which is of course far too late to start.

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So it’s darned good timing for me to be able to announce my latest design, a jenn-you-wine published pattern for the December 2009 issue of Canadian Living magazine. Yesterday’s twisted stitch tutorial goes hand in hand with this pattern, as the ‘k1tbl, p1′ ribbing is exactly what starts off this pair of mitts. I present the ‘Mulled Wine Mitts’, available now in print, in the issue which hits newsstands today. (The only downside is that you can only get the pattern at the moment if you are in Canada, or have a subscription to Canadian Living, or can bribe someone to buy you a copy and send it to you. The upside is that because it’s Canadian Living, you also get whackloads of recipes and home tips and all sorts of useful things along with my wee pattern.)

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Now, I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there are one or two fingerless mitt patterns already out there. You may have already even knitted a pair or twelve as gifts, oh, right about this time of year in knitting seasons past. So when I got hooked up to design a pair for Canadian Living I said “Sure! Super fun challenge, I’d love to!” And then, I quietly panicked. “It’s all been done before,” I moaned to myself.

So I went and got some Malabrigo (like you do, when you want something warm and cozy on your hands), and started playing around with it, and got a first version. And then I made it less complicated and knitted it again. And then I changed one or two other things and knitted it again. And then the thumb wasn’t how I wanted it to look, so I knitted it again, and you know, now that they’re done, I rather like the result.

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These mitts are simple enough to not require more than a week or two of off-and-on knitting (or a weekend for the speedy types), but interesting enough to keep you paying attention. There is a full thumb gusset – because I like thumb gussets – but the actual thumb itself is quite minimal which means that once you’ve cast off the palm, you’re practically done. They’re knitted in Malabrigo Silky Merino which is super soft and lofty, but because the double-moss stitch panels are done in twisted stitch, they will be a touch more snug and durable than if done in plain stockinette. And they are long enough to fit under the cuff of your sweater or jacket, which means they can keep that chill from going up your sleeve while you sit in your cold office or dash out to grab that newspaper maybe with your coat thrown over your pyjamas and clogs not that I would ever do that, though or whenever you find yourself needing a bit of insulation.

And, most importantly, because they only require a single skein of that delicious, delicious Malabrigo Silky Merino, they will let you splurge on some of that luxury yarn without having to break the bank. Of course, because they’re so soft and quick, you may need to either guard yours carefully or be prepared to make more for gifts. They may be hard to take off.

Also, may I say how pleased I am to be in the Canadian Living December issue, which always has whackloads of holiday recipes in it…this one, I have noticed, includes a holiday brunch menu offering recipes for not one, not two, but three different vodka/juice cocktails. Canadian Living food editors, I like your style.

In case that’s not enough reading for you today, Austen, the CL crafts point-woman was nice enough to do a little blog-style interview with me, and you can find further Ramblings Of Mine over on her post from today.

Enjoy, my friends! Stay tuned later, when I may just have to go off in search of extra newsstand copies for a blog giveaway. And, as always, may your Monday be as painless as possible, and may your knitting be waiting for you at home.

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Four months later

Back in January, as I embarked on the busiest and arguably my most stressful semester thus far, I started a pair of Sanquhar gloves. Because naturally, when you have lots of stress, the best response is to add a comparable amount of stress to your knitting. As it happens, I got about 75% through them in January but then set them aside for more portable projects, and they sat long enough by the wayside that I became worried they would enter the eternally despondent land of Unfinished Objects, never again to return to the friendly grove of Works in Progress.

Thankfully, this was not their fate. I picked them up again last week and finished the rest of the second glove, and lo, they are beautiful.

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Pattern: Sanquhar Gloves, instructions by Tata & Tatao, largely composed of a set of charts and a few English translations from Japanese. (You have got to love the modern knitting world wherein a centuries-old traditional Scottish knitted garment is re-interpreted through pattern instructions in Japanese, then re-fashioned into English translation.
Yarn: A Touch of Twist light fingering weight (270yds per 50g), in dark purple and pale teal, purchased at Rhinebeck 2008.
Needles: 2.0mm steel DPNs.

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The pattern actually directs you to use laceweight and 1.5mm needles – and don’t get me wrong I’d still love to try that – but this would have resulted in gloves too small for my own hands, and in any case I was looking for an excuse to use this bit of my Rhinebeck purchases. (I still have 2 balls of the same yarn remaining, in a pale purple and dark red. Hmmm). Overall it worked quite well, though somewhere between January and May I must have had a gauge shift, because the fingers on the 2nd glove turned out slightly bigger than the first. Happily, this is not very noticeable when they are worn, and in general the pair fit, well, like a glove. (Ho ho ho, I kill me).

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This is, to say the least, an adventurous pattern. One of the main challenges is that because the instructions are English translations from Japanese, they are relatively sparse. However, the charts are quite clear, and the Sanquhar knitting format leaves little room for maneuverability, which is good for interpretation – the ‘blocks’ format of the motif are all the same size and as long as you can keep this consistent, and work at a gauge that will produce a glove of the correct size for you, the pattern will work. Although this is my first time knitting colourwork at such a tiny gauge, once you get the hang of it it is easy to develop a sort of rhythm to it, as is often the case with stranded colourwork.

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The only thing I didn’t quite do properly were the finger gussets – I fully admit that I pretty well fudged those. I would like to try another pair of these sometime in order to give it my 100% and do better. But you know? These still kick ass. I’ll take ‘em. The overall result is an incredibly intricate, light yet warm pair of gloves that nobody else on Earth has. I am actually debating whether to put them into regular Winter rotation come November – they are gorgeous and I would love to show them off, but on the other hand I don’t think I would recover if I lost one, or both.

Thankfully I have the summer to ponder that. Onwards, yes? Yes.

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