Category Archives: finished object: accessories

A Tale of Two Scarves

It would appear that my cold symptoms are continuing apace, though in a milder form than they could be, in which case I will renew efforts with vitamins and rest and tylenol and tea. And a bit of knitting on the side of my stack of grading.

But this blog is long overdue for a project update, and I’m finally able to take a moment to tell you about the two scarves I’ve made since mid-October. These, a slouchy beret, and a pair of plain stockinette gloves have all been made with Berroco Ultra Alpaca, and are all part of my Operation: Don’t Freeze My Ass Off plan for this winter. (Always a good plan, I feel).

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The first of these scarves was a plain triangular shawl/scarf that I started on the plane to Rhinebeck in October. I finished it while I was there and it has proven a wonderful bit of emergency insulation, and since our November temperatures were stupidly unseasonably mild (o hai global warming nice to see you), I got more wear out of it than I might have expected.

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It’s fairly plain, easy to execute over a couple of days (say, on bleary plane and train rides), and I hadn’t thought much of it but every time I go out amongst knitters, someone comments on it and asks what the pattern is. Well, it’s pretty darned simple is what it is. If you want to make one of these too, here’s what you do:

So Easy I Can’t Even Stand it Triangular Scarf

1. Pick your yarn, any yarn (did I mention I love Ultra Alpaca?), and use an appropriate needle size. I went up to a 6mm for the worsted Ultra Alpaca because since it is 50% alpaca it can handle a bit of loose drapey-ness and still be warm.

2. Cast on 7 sts. [Note from the future: For extra stability, knit back and forth for a couple of rows of garter stitch before proceeding.]

and proceed as you would for a regular triangular shawl (increasing 1 st at each end, and 1 st each side of centre stitch, every RS row), something like this:

(RS) K2, yo, k to centre stitch, yo, k1, yo, k to 2 sts before end of row, yo, k2.
(WS) K2, p to 2 sts before end of row, k2.

Work these two rows for a while.

3. Whenever you feel like it, say, every 10-12 rows or so, insert one of the following beginning on the WS of work, while still maintaining the k2 at each end of each row, and yo increases on each RS row:

Paired garter ridges:
(WS) K all sts
(RS) K all sts
(WS) K all sts

Garter eyelet rib:
(WS) K all sts
(RS) [k2tog, yo] repeat
(WS) K all sts

4. Keep going in this combination of stockinette, garter ridges, and eyelet rib until you get the length you want, you run out of yarn, or until you just can’t stand it any more. Work another few garter ridges or a repeat of eyelet rib, and BO all sts. Block if you wish. (I used about 1.5 skeins of Ultra Alpaca for mine, it goes pretty far.)

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The second scarf requires a bit more commitment, but pays off big time in the warmth area. Let me tell you, this is going to get me through the cold days like nothing else and I am looking forward to wrapping it around me a few times. This is a fairly classic striped tube scarf, that you can do in whatever combination of worsted weight yarn you please, and change up the stripe pattern however you wish. The only disadvantage is that when you are working with so many colours at once, it doesn’t make for a very portable project, but if you put in an hour or so every evening, the length will start to add up nicely.

Warmest Striped Scarf Ever

1. Pick your worsted weight yarn, any worsted weight, in a few colours and a 16-inch circular needle in 4.5mm or so. (whatever you need for 18-20 sts over 4 inches).

2. Cast on 80 sts. Join to work in the round, pm at beg of round, and knit all sts on every round.

3. Proceed by changing colours every 3-7 rounds, as desired. Keep going until the entire scarf measures 6 feet, or until you can’t stand it any more. BO all sts.

4. Lay out the scarf lengthwise and flatten it. Work a fringed edging: First cut many many lengths of yarn in 8-10 inch lengths (hint: wind the yarn around a DVD case and cut along one side); take 3 of these lengths at a time and fold them in half, then take a crochet hook to pull the loop through both sides of the scarf edge, and pull the ends through the loop. Do this along the entire edge. (This creates a fringe AND closes the ends of the scarf).

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And then you have a very warm scarf. Ta da! (Caution: be careful about promising to gift people with these. I knitted 4 tube scarves one year as gifts and it just about did me in.)

Since I know someone will ask about how to handle the yarn for stripes, all I did was simply to carry the dormant colours up the inside of the work so that they rest against the inside of the jog. When you flatten the scarf at the end, you can do so so that the jog moves to the side of the work like a seam, and no one will notice. I am pretty blase about my striping jogs. Just be sure that the yarn actually lies flat on the inside of the work, and that you don’t pull it too tight so that it bunches up.

Happy knitting this Thursday, and stay warm, won’t you? Keep the knitting close by!

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Filed under finished object: accessories, free pattern

Stranded again

On Saturday afternoon I was merrily engaged in another Advanced Level Knitting Technique: In-Transit Stranded Colour-work. (Because really, if you’re not working up a colour-work hat while crammed onto a commuter bus sailing down the highway towards the big city, I just don’t think you’re as committed to this whole “knitting” thing as you should be.)

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I please myself to say I executed most of the crown shaping on that bus ride without any dropped stitches (though sadly my cute dragonfly stitch marker was the casualty…It was clearly the sacrifice the knitting fates were looking for and I had lost it by the end of the ride). But of course, this being colour-work and all, my eyes were pretty well glued to the knitting and I totally missed out on the degree of weirded-out glances I undoubtedly received.

This is the Beaumont tam, from Jared Flood’s recently released Made in Brooklyn booklet. It is a beautiful pattern and relatively quick to execute as colour-work projects go. And though this was the first time I’d worked with the project-specified yarn, Classic Elite Fresco, I doubt it will be the last. It’s soft, the colour selection is great, and it’s got bunny in it (10% angora/30% baby alpaca/60% wool), and I will definitely need one of these hats for myself somewhere down the road.

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Because yes, this hat is no longer in my hands but lives with the fabulous ladies of the Purple Purl. The last time I was in the shop, Miko somehow managed to walk me over to the Fresco and hold me in thrall long enough to convince me to knit them up a Beaumont, and I left the shop with the ribbing already on the needles and a vague sense that I had somehow gotten myself hosed.

But naturally, I say this with love, because sample knitting is a very rare thing for me (aka “what do you mean I have to do all this knitting and time and don’t even get to KEEP IT FOR ME ME ME ALL ME” sort of knitting), but it’s very easy to do when you love the home that the knitting is going to. I’m just so super happy that the Purple Purl is about to turn Two Years Old. It feels like they’ve been around a whole lot longer than that, and I hope they never leave. Even though it takes me an hour and a half to get there, they are the store that feels most like my Local Yarn Shop.

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Do you have a beloved Local Yarn Shop? What fabulous things have happened at your LYS lately?

Have a fantabulous Sunday evening, and hopefully a manageable Monday ahead!

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Filed under fair isle, finished object: accessories, knitting in public, yarn stores

Hello, People of the Pod

Pattern download link for most recent version, Dec 15th 2013: Podster mitts PDF

For months now I’ve had this pattern brewing up in the back of my brain, just waiting for the opportune moment for me to cast on and write it out. After a while I started to think, “surely, someone else has done this already.” And it’s entirely possible that someone has, but if that’s true I haven’t managed to encounter it yet. This is a fingering-weight glove pattern, but more than that it is a flip-top, convertible glove/mitt pattern (glitten? mlove?). “But Glenna,” you are saying, “that’s nothing new, psh, I’ve seen that before.” Well, this is a convertible glove with the addition of one wee little modification: an i-Pod thumb:

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This modified thumb is intended to solve the extremely decadent and modern problem (because really, as problems go this is about eleven millionth down on the list of things that need fixing) of wanting to use your digital music player in cold weather, without having to remove your whole mitten and get cold fingers in the process. Digital music players come in lots of different styles these days, and they all have buttons and switches to press, but the unique thing about the i-Pod is that the little dial relies on the touch of your actual skin. You can pound away at it with your gloved fingers as much as you want, but after a certain point it won’t work unless you expose your actual thumb and fingertips, which means ripping your glove off of your hand in order to change tunes or podcasts.

And so I finally said, “heck with this, I am a knitter, I can solve this problem.” So a couple of weeks ago I marched right over to my stash and pulled out a skein of Dream in Color Smooshy (you know, as you do), and started knitting away. Getting the little peekaboo thumb just as I wanted it took a couple of attempts, but I’m pretty pleased with this particular result. Time will tell once the real fall cool weather starts to sink in, but by Jove I think we’ve got it.

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This is, at first blush, a flip-top glove/mitt pattern. At the end of the instructions are three potential modifications to this, the first of which is the ‘podster’ peekaboo thumb, which fashions a ribbing-covered gap over the inside stitches of the thumb. This means that it is snug enough to still fit to your thumb, but loose enough for you to peek the tip of your thumb through and expose it for helpful music player control. The other two modifications are quite logical and not terribly unusual in the slightest, and explain how you could work this alternately as a pair of plain gloves, or plain mittens. So, these instructions are essentially 4-patterns-in-1. (Note: I only worked the modified thumb on one glove. You may choose to do either one, or both, and choose whichever thumb suits you best. Or just screw the fancy thumb and make normal gloves, that’s cool too.)

With the sample shown here I’ve used Dream in Color Smooshy, which is a multi-ply fingering weight yarn with a bit of squish to it. At the pattern gauge of 32 sts/44 rows over 4 inches, it produces a moderately snug gauge (in other words: not loose or drapey, but not so thick that it stands on its own), so if substituting yarns, try to choose something that behaves similarly. Regarding sizing, I have written the pattern instructions for two sizes, loosely intended for a Women’s Small and a Women’s Large/Men’s small. I made the larger size (shown here) and they fit my 7.75-ins hand circumference quite well. If in doubt, measure your hand circumference (or the hand of whoever is receiving these), and if it is 7 ins or bigger I recommend going with the larger size.

One thing to keep in mind for these instructions is that, while I direct you to work in the round and tell you what needle size/gauge to use, I do not tell you what specific method to use. I am assuming that if you are knitting this pattern that you have done at least one project’s worth of knitting in the round, that you know what method you used to do so, and that you are comfortable using this method again. You can execute this on Double Pointed Needles (DPN)s, Magic Loop, or knitting on 2 circulars – it is entirely up to you. (For the record, I worked this sample up using Magic Loop. These days I slide back and forth from DPNs to Magic Loop pretty fluidly.)

Sept27-PodsterGloves4c

The other thing you’ll notice is that I don’t provide any finishing instructions for things like buttons, snaps, velcro, or other means of fastening the mitten top in the “down” position. This is, I will admit, partly out of sheer laziness, but also because I have to say that when I wear flip-top mitts like this, they spend about 90% of the time in the “up” or closed position, and I can deal with a little bit of flopping around when they’re not. You’re more than welcome to take this step, however, and it would be fairly easy to add a fastening of some kind to the back of each wrist.

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You may download the pattern instructions for free here from my blog, or here in my Ravelry store if you are a Ravelry member, which will also allow you to store in your Ravelry library.

If you find value in this pattern, I would humbly suggest taking the dollar amount that you think it is worth, and donating that amount to your preferred charitable organization (who are, most likely, trying to solve problems that are a little higher on the list than cold podster fingers). I hope that you will enjoy knitting these, and that the gloves keep your hands (or those of a few gift recipients, perhaps?) toasty warm and technologically savvy all season long.

Well, at least until the super cold weather hits, at which time I will be running screaming back to the thrummed mittens and praying for thaw. But these can still live happily in my coat pocket for when I need them – and hopefully, yours too.

 

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Filed under design, finished object: accessories, free pattern, knitting addiction, mittens

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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Filed under accessories, fair isle, fearless knitting, finished object: accessories

Mmmph.

This is about exactly my state of mind this week. I have remembered that the only problem with having a break is that the re-entry to the real world is more of a crash-landing than a gentle refresher. I’ve been going pretty well straight since Sunday, and next week I get to be rewarded with – wait for it! – more of the same! Oie vey, how many more weeks until the end of term? How many more lectures to write and assignments to grade? Let’s hope I make it.

All of this makes knitting ever so much more appealing, and I keep trying to remind myself not to forget about the Small Projects. I love sweaters (and am admittedly mentally admonishing myself for getting to the end of February with only one completed sweater…there are currently at least 5 in my head and I’d figured I’d at least have started one of them by now past the swatching stage), but the small stuff really does have the instant gratification going for it.

On my weekend in DC (now so distant at almost 2 weeks away…::sob::), I started and finished a Koolhaas hat, with the Tanis Fiber Arts ‘Green Label’ aran weight purchased a few weeks ago, and lo, it is good. There’s a sister skein of this deliciously bright, stubbornly cheerful, pink ‘Royal Flush’ colour that only needs me to turn it into mittens and I’ll have a nice set to round out the end of winter.

Either the bright shade is resisting photographic stability, or it’s mimicking my general state of mind, because out of two photo sessions half the pictures came out a bit fuzzy.

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Hmmm, well that’s not quite right. Perhaps from the top…

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Almost but not quite. Perhaps an outdoors shot from the side?

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That’s a bit better. I have to give my props to Jared Flood for a brilliant pattern. I worked all the cable twists without a cable needle which made everything quite speedy, and completed most of it while sacked out on Liz‘s couch watching DVDs and gearing up for sightseeing, so you know that means it’s a good pattern if I could do it on minimal brain cells. (Mental note: good current criteria for knitting. Hmm…)

The yarn itself is lovely, quite sturdy, superwash, and beautifully dyed. If I could manage the cash I’d stock up a sweater’s worth, but I think the standout Tanis Fiber Arts colours make it a great candidate for small accessories. Next step…mittens? Time will tell.

Here’s looking forward to the weekend for some quality yarn time and battery-recharging. I do have to get buttons on the Blooming Cardigan (attempt #1 has turned out not quite up to snuff. I can do better!), and I am inching towards finishing up a sock design project that I’ve had under wraps for far too long and I am just twitching, waiting to share it with all of you.

Weekend soon. Soooooon….

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Filed under finished object: accessories

I have a white balance?

So Jacquie sauntered by my blog yesterday and said, “hey man, groovy mitts. But your pictures are all blueish, check your white balance, dumbass.”

(Okay so she didn’t say dumbass, she was actually very nice, but even extremely friendly camera tips always remind me that I treat my perfectly serviceable digital camera like a point-and-shoot 35mm and maybe I should actually read a friggin’ manual one of these days. Or maybe I should have taken Jacquie and Michelle’s awesome knitting photography class when they ran it last year in Toronto. So many shoulds, so little time.)

But anyway, who knew? There’s a white balance, right there in the Menu settings. Mine is always set to ‘auto’, but I looked at the options, sure enough there is a ‘daylight’ setting. And my photos tend to be taken in daylight since the big windows by my desk have the best natural light going. So I clicked that little ‘daylight’ setting and lo and behold went from this:

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To this:

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Same glove, same spot, same time of day, but noticeably less blue. Neato. White balance, you and me, we’re gonna be pals.

Now you could say, “But isn’t this also just an excuse for you to photograph that same finished glove that you already showed us yesterday?” And to that I would say…yes. Yes it is. What can I say, I love my little Sanquhar Glove #1. It just needs its mate and then all will be right with the world.

Happy knitting on this Tuesday!

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Now I can be in 2009

It gives me a great deal of reassurance to know that Kelly is still obsessively knitting Christmas gnomes, because I only just finished the last of my Christmas gift-knitting. Le-voila, a finished pair of Cat Mittens, the first FO of 2009 and the second-last thing I cast on in 2008:

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Pattern: Cat Mittens (scroll down)
Yarn: Drops Alpaca in black and pale blue
Needles: 2.75mm Clover bamboo DPNs
Modifications: None.

Notes: The concept itself is brilliant, and it should come as no surprise these are headed towards P, aka Miss Beatrice the Cat’s mummy. You’ve got to be a cat lover to love these, and I think they will be well-receved.

This pattern is extremely well charted, so all you really have to do is cast on the required sts and then follow it along. I think one of the reasons I dragged my heels on finishing this is because of the need to follow the chart, though – it wasn’t something I could just memorize and take with me in my head, and that’s something I’ve gotten used to doing. But it is quite clearly written, and if you’ve gotten the hang of basic stranded colour-work, you should be fine. Just 2 colours needed, and you could probably grab some solid colour sock yarn sitting around and make these up nicely.

My only real concern with this pattern is that there is no explicit gauge measurement listed. The designer does tell you the anticipated mitten circumference for a certain needle size, but a stitch/row gauge would be helpful. After finishing these I found them running on the small side (bad for me but fine for the intended recipient, her hands are smaller), and after perusing Ravelry I found the same thing was true for many others who had done the pattern. So, if I were to do these again I would definitely go up a needle size and use a slightly squishier, floofy sock yarn like Dream in Color or STR. I see many on Ravelry have used Shi Bui Sock which seems about right. Or perhaps even a DK or sport-weight for extra sturdiness. The Drops Alpaca worked all right for this size but I think is ultimately too thin for anything larger, given how fiddly parts of the mitten are.

I’ve got about 22g of each colour left now, so perhaps there will be some alpaca Endpaper Mitts or similar in my future. In any case I’m just glad to have these done so I can move on to something new! I have just been itching to cast on a sweater after doing nothing but mitts and socks and bitty things for the last month and a half.

Finally, on the crazy update – the Sanqhuar gloves are still awesome, and Glove #1 is completely finished. I love it. Finishing it has given me renewed momentum and I have cast on for #2 immediately.

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Bring on the cold. Knitters can take it.

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Filed under accessories, fair isle, fearless knitting, finished object: accessories