Monthly Archives: December 2011

A Year in Knitting Review, Part 3

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To make up for missing a day earlier in the week, I thought I would finish up my knitting review today! To round it all out, I wanted to show off my four designs, which all came out towards the end of this year.

Slightly Skewed Hat

First to come out was the Slightly Skewed Hat and Scarf Set. This pattern originated from a gift of 2 skins of Araucania Panguipulli. The aran yarn was totally unique, especially in respect to the variegated color, and I couldn’t quite find a pattern that would show it off perfectly…at least not one that would use up my two skeins. The Slightly Skewed patterns use a chevron stitch to break up the monotony and add a little texture. The hat is uniquely knitted as a flat strip, the ends are sewn together, and stitches are picked up from the top for the crown. If you’re intrigued by trying a new hat construction or are looking for a way to use up some unique yarn, I highly suggest trying Slightly Skewed out! It’s available for purchase on ravelry for $2.50, and you can buy it now here.

Top-Down Hat made from about 1/2 of a 50g skein of Valley Yarns Stockbridge, and another 1/2 of a 50g skein of Cascade Dolce

My next pattern to come out was the Top-Down Hat Recipe. I trying to make a last-minute Christmas present for some friends at school before I finished up my semester, and came up with this. The novelty is that I was able to use up yarn leftovers with minimal ripping- no worries about estimating how much yarn you’ll need to finish your decreases here! You can basically sub any worsted or aran weight yarns, and the pattern itself is infinitely customizable. You can download the pdf for free here.

Happy Feet on the left, Frog Tree Alpaca on the right

Next, we have the sentimental project. I designed the Flying Home Scarf for my mother’s Hanukah present. Another perpetually free pattern, Flying Home is a textured, lacy confection made from either 50g or 100g of sport weight or heavy fingering yarn. I worked my mom’s sample in 50g of Plymouth Yarn Happy Feet, so it’s just big enough for her to tie it around her neck. The other sample was knitted in 100g of Frog Tree Alpaca Sportweight, and it’s definitely full scarf-length. You can download the pdf for free here.

Leafy Tops Hat

Lastly, we have one of my favorite patterns, the Leafy Tops Hat. After playing around with hat decreases for a while, I turned mine into  a cute leaf pattern. Coupled with the luscious Knit One, Crochet Two Brae Tweed (60% Merino, 20% Llama, 10% Wool, 10% Bamboo), this hat turned out pretty awesome, if I do say so myself. In fact, my sister liked it so much when I asked her to model it that I just had to give it to her for Hanukah! It would work well in any other worsted or aran weight, too, although I highly recommend the Brae Tweed. For a limited time, this pattern will be available for free (you can download the pdf here), but eventually I plan on turning it into a paid pattern!

Closing up the year, I have a couple of knitting resolutions for the next one. First of all, I really want to develop as a designer. I love making hats, and like to think I have a pretty good understanding of their construction. I would love to develop some more of the ideas ruminating in my head, and one of my goals is to get published…somewhere! Hopefully, I can make it happen.

Secondly, as I looked back at many of my projects, I realized how little I utilize my stash of knitting books (besides Socks from the Toe Up, which I pull down every time I make a toe-up sock!). I have already re-browsed through a bunch of my books and picked out several patterns I didn’t even know I had. Hopefully, I won’t get sidetracked by too many new things I see online and will actually make a few!

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A Year in Knitting Review, Part 2

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Summer

Summer was definitely my season of shawls. They make the perfect light-weight project, and I think I needed a break from socks after my spring sock spree.

Summer Mystery Shawl in Malabrigo Sock

First, I participated in Wendy Knit’s Summer Mystery Shawl KAL. It was one of those KAL’s where every week you get the next part of the pattern, so it’s a complete mystery what it would come out as. I started using some Malabrigo Sock (yummy!) in Candombe, which alternates between a rich purple and a striking lime green (yummy-er!). The shawl pattern was actually what I call a ‘reverse triangle,’ so you cast on for the long sides and then decrease the whole shawl. It’s pretty fun because your rows are actually getting shorter, not longer, so it’s the fun beginning where it seems like every row takes forever, not the end. Unfortunately, this means you can’t just keep knitting until you run out of yarn. For some reason, this made my shawl much more shawlette-like, which was totally fine with me. My style doesn’t really fit with big shawls, but I can incorporate smaller ones pretty easily. Plus, I had enough yarn left for a pair of socks (nutkins, see below).

Second Shawl, from Misti Alpaca Sock

The second shawl was pretty much my own creation. I wanted something for my sick aunt that was special and unique. First, I picked up a skein of Misti Alpaca Hand Paint Sock Yarn (50% Alpaca, 30% Merino, 10% Silk, 10% Nylon). The halo from the alpaca content would ensure a beautiful, warm shawl, and the colors (the colorway is called Blues in the Night, so it’s a bunch of shades of blue) really fit her style palette (is that the right way to describe it???). I picked out two stitch patterns from one of my stitch dictionaries and followed a basic shawl recipe: yo’s on the spine and at the sides. After some heavy blocking, I think it comes out great. And judging by the fact that whenever I see her she’s wearing it, I think my aunt enjoys it, too!

Fall

Lolita Hat, from Alpaca with a Twist Temptation

As you may remember, I spent lots of time this fall making hats. Well, not lots of time, but I did make lots of quick hats! My favorite is probably my Lolita hat, made from Alpaca with a Twist Temptation (80% Alpaca 20% Silk) in a grey color, using the Lotus Hat pattern from Uptown Purl. Even though I added extra pattern repeats to make it bigger, it’s still on the small side, making it a more fashionable than practical accessory. Still, I wear it a lot more than I would have expected, even considering the dropped stitch that I found on the ribbing!

Nutkin Socks, from Malabrigo Sock

The other accessory that happened A LOT this fall was socks. I think I probably had two favorite fall socks. First, my nutkins. I used my leftover Malabrigo Sock from the shawl and the Nutkin Pattern on these anklets. They’re just a tad small, and the folded over hem on the top doesn’t do much as far as stretch. Still, I love the fake cable stitch pattern. It was a pretty addictive knit and looks really great on!

Diamond Gansey Socks, from Spud and Chloe Fine

No recap of my year would be complete without my Gansey Socks. I love these socks so much that I am actually wearing them right now! First, I want to talk about the yarn- Spud and Chloe Fine (80% Wool, 20% Silk) in a light green color. The silk content gives it a definite sheen, and something about it makes it very, very hardy. As I wash it, it does the opposite of felting and seems to get tougher. While I might not enjoy that quality in, say, mittens, its definitely a plus with my heavily used socks. The definition really shows off the Diamond Gansey Pattern (from Wendy Knit’s Socks from the Toe Up), and the fact that it came in a 60g skein (instead of the normal 50g) means that I can make a pretty substantial pair using one skein without a contrasting color on the toes and heels. Sometimes having midget feet really comes in handy!

Tune in Sunday for the rest of my knitting review and some goals for the new year!

A Year in Knitting Review, Part 1

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As the year comes to a close, I thought it would be nice to go through some of my favorite projects from the past year. Looking back, I’ve noticed that there are some major trends seasonally. As a result, I’m going to go give summaries of about a dozen of my favorite projects, organized by season.

Winter

Almost exclusively, winter was my season of socks. I vaguely remember doing a lot of Christmas knitting in 2010, and I was probably exhausted out of my mind. I ended up putting in a big order at Knit Picks (free shipping!) and enjoying the spoils: some funky sock yarns.

Trilo Socks- sorry about the bad picture! I couldn't find my old sock ones, and it is rainy and grey outside today (rhyme!)

First up, we have my Trilo Socks. Using my ever-favorite Socks from the Toe Up, I picked out the Trilobite Socks to match with some Knit Picks Stroll Multi in the Aloha colorway. I did toes and heels in a contrasting leftover navy blue, and these babies came out pretty quickly. The little bits of lace gave the pattern something extra, and the ribbing ensures that these will pretty much always fit, no matter how many times they run through the wash.

plain vanilla socks. again, I apologize for the crappy pictures!

Continuing my sock knitting trend, I knit up two pairs of socks from some more Knit Picks yarn, this time Stroll Hand-Painted. The first pair were plain vanilla socks from Socks from the Toe Up. I used the last little bits of the Aloha from the last pair for toes and heels. They came out simple and cool, exactly what I wanted. You can really see every different shade of blue and brown, and I think they have every different shade that Knit Picks makes in them. In the other pair, I added a little bit of patterning. I used the stitch pattern from the Copper Penny Socks by Nancy Bush from Knitting Socks with Handpainted Yarn to give them a little extra va-va-voom. The lacey rib breaks up the colorway a little bit, contrasting nicely with the other pair.

Copper Penny Socks

Spring

In Spring, I think I switched tracks a little bit. School picked up a lot, leaving less time for knitting. As a result, I definitely got fewer projects finished, leaving me with only one project to showcase.

Sunrise Scarf

Here is the Sunrise Scarf. A precursor to my Flying Home Scarf pattern, I used the Sunrise stitch pattern from Vogue Knitting Volume 1 with no modifications. I only added a garter stitch border to the sides, and a couple of rows of garter on each end to keep it from curling up. I used some Newbury Yarns Handpainted, which was really really beautiful. It actually came as a souvenir from my mother’s trip to Boston, and she could not have picked something better!

Fingerless Mitts!

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Most people guessed from the last picture that I was working on socks, but, no! I’ve decided to make myself (first project for me in AGES!) a pair of fingerless mitts. I haven’t made a pair in years, and I don’t even know where my last set is… I figured that, since I’ll probably be using them mainly while fiddling around on the computer when it is decidedly colder in the house than I’d like, I should probably choose some light weight wool and a cute pattern to show it off.

Chevron Lace Fingerless Mitts

Enter the Chevron Lace Fingerless Mitts pattern from Sock Yarn One Skein Wonders. Have I ever told you guys that I have all four one-skein wonder books, and I don’t think I’ve knit more than a pattern or two out of any of them? Not anymore! I definitely want to start taking more advantage of the books and magazines that I already own next year, instead of trolling the patterns on ravelry whenever I need some inspiration. I went through several of my books, stickying patterns that I like to favorite on ravelry. I had an eye out for fingerless mitts, and finally settled on this pattern for a couple of reasons. First, the fingering weight yarn would create a fabric that wouldn’t be too thick that it would get in the way of typing, but would still be plenty warm. Secondly, the lace pattern is pretty simple, and would work well with some of the leftover hand-painted sock yarns ruminating in my stash.

Northern Lights Fiber Company Sock Yarn in Colby: baby blue, yellow, and hints of brown and teal

Thus, I chose this beauty. I got it as a present years ago from a close friend who went to Alaska and bought it for me as a souvenir. I know that the company is Northern Lights Fiber Co., but I’m pretty sure it’s 100% wool, without any nylon. It doesn’t have the hardiness that nylon usually adds to sock yarn, despite what the ravelry page might say. I also know that the colorway is called colby. It’s baby blues, yellows, with hints of brown and teal. Very bright, and something that I probably wouldn’t wear to match with anything. Thus, fingerless mitts make the perfect project! They won’t put the stress on the yarn the way socks would, and I don’t really plan on wearing them out and about very often.

first mitt- aka gigantor

Yesterday I cast off the first mitt, only to discover that it is way, way too big. Like an inch or two beyond what I would like it to be. I even swatched…but my swatch was too tight, so I went up a needle size. I didn’t measure my hand. For some reason, I vaguely remember measuring it at 7″, which the book says is a size small. Still, the pattern looks great, so I think I’m just going to frog that one and try again. I’ve already cast on another one with needles two sizes down, which will hopefully fit. The first mitt will be frogged as soon as I can bring myself to do it…

trying again, go me!

To all those who celebrate it, Merry Christmas! And to all those who don’t, happy three day weekend!

FO Friday

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I finally finished something in time to do a FO Friday! Yeah!

Nantes Hat, a late X-Mas/B-day gift for a friend

For those of you who haven’t guessed, I finally finished my Nantes Hat from the last issue of Interweave Knits. I used cheap-o Patons Classic Wool (100% Wool) in a light green color from my stash, which, although it is slightly scratchy, really showed off the intense cable and lace patterning. I’m happy to report that, despite what the weather channel said, today is sunny and is in the low 60’s. Therefore, good pictures! The color is pretty much dead on. Enjoy!

close-up on the detailing

Although I’m pretty happy with this project, there are a couple of things I might do a little differently if I do it again. First, does anyone remember how excited I was that the decreases continued the pattern? Yeah, well it turns out that there are about 5 rounds way at the top of the hat that need to be cabled, where she didn’t add any decreases. As you can probably tell, it looks pretty ridiculous when flat. You pretty much can’t tell at all when it’s on, but if I made the pattern again I would probably do something about it. Also, I’m not quite sure what the switching from size 6’s to 8’s after a couple of inches of the pattern did. I’m sure it didn’t hurt the hat, but I didn’t have a good size 6 circular needle around, so I was using one where the cable part just didn’t want to loop correctly, so it took FOREVER…and I now realize it was pretty unnecessary. Oh, well.

In other news, I turned this…

slouch-rib cardigan

Into this…

I was going to take them outside to get some good pictures, but then you lose the perspective of how many little balls of yarn there are...

That was my Slouch Rib Cardigan out of Cascade Eco. I talked all about how it didn’t fit a couple of weeks ago. Now its about a dozen balls of differing sizes of solid brown wool. I’m looking forward to making the Livingstone Cardigan, a cozy, cabled sweater again out of the last issue of Interweave Knits, sometime soon from it. Hopefully I won’t run out. It’s a pretty popular yarn, so I’ll probably be able to find some in a pretty close colorway somewhere if I do. I can always use that for the collar/button band and call it a contrasting color!

But before I do that, I’ve cast on something new. Can you guess what it is? Here’s a hint: I’m trying to use the Knitting Pattern books I own more…I’m not sure if that is going to help you very much, but good luck guessing. I wish I could give out a prize, but as a poor college student (who hand-made most of her Christmas Gifts) all I can give out is kudos!

something new...

For my christian readers, have a Merry Christmas, may my Jewish friends have a Happy Hanukah, and let whoever I’ve forgotten have a happy holiday season!

WIP Wed.

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I’m currently working on putting together an awesome end of the year post, so I thought I would give you a quick WIP Wed. to tide you over until that comes out.

It's super-rainy, so the color is WAY off. It's much more green!

I’ve been humming along on my Nantes Hat, from the last issue of Interweave Knits. It’s a pretty intense knit, and I need the pattern with me at all times, so I haven’t been dragging it around the house with me like I sometimes do. Still,  the ever-chaging pattern is pretty addictive. It’s been working up pretty quickly in worsted Patons Classic Wool, so I’ve already hit the decreases. She’s cleverly worked them into the pattern, which actually continues with the decreases. I always enjoy seeing that in a pattern- its very professionally done. The wool is making the stitch pattern very crisp, and I think I”ll have plenty of stretch with the ribbing, which is good, because I never got around to measuring the intended recipient’s head. Bad Michelle!

details of the stitch pattern. Again, it is so much more green that you wouldn't recognize it if you saw it in person or, you know, better lighting

In other news, I’ve been working on my application for my summer internship. I’m applying to the same program I worked at last summer, so I get the ‘returning teacher’ essay questions. The ‘what were your struggles last summer and how do you plan on moving on from them’ question was pretty easy. The one about next summer’s struggles was much much harder. Honestly, I’m not psychic. I don’t KNOW what I’m going to struggle with next summer. Also, can I just say how much I hate writing 500 word essays? I’m mostly finished, thank god, it just needs a hard edit. I’m not anticipating it being very had for me to get the job again, too. I think I did a great job last summer (and I learned a lot and had a blast!), and I’ve heard they take back most of the teachers who re-apply. Here’s hoping!

For more WIP Wed posts, check out Tami’s Amis, where she links to WIP’s all over the web!

WIP Monday?

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Today I want to finally get back to talk about what I’m knitting RIGHT NOW, instead of introducing patterns that I actually knitted DAYS, if not WEEKS ago. So, let’s get started! I ended up marathon knitting my second slanted sock. It’s not that I wanted to work on it. In fact, I had a little but of second sock syndrome. Shhhh. Don’t tell. I just wouldn’t let myself work on anything else until I finished the socks. Couple that with a “How I Met Your Mother” Marathon on netflix, and by the time I was halfway up the foot I was feeling the pattern again.

the first sock, completed a couple of days ago- of all of the pictures of this sock, this one is closest to the actual colorway. It just needs a bit more green.

Of course, this was only the second time I’ve used Judy’s Magic Cast On for toe up socks (and the first time was the first sock in this pair!). I somehow managed to turn the sock inside out on the first row, giving it a single purl ridge right at the tip of the toe. Honestly, it doesn’t look that bad. I was so happy that I had finally gotten the right number of stitches without flip-flopping the direction of the yarn that I didn’t rip it out right at the beginning, and I’m certainly not ripping it now. And if I was doing a more textured sock, I might even purposefully do it!

purl ridge toe

In summary, these socks are made out of Knit One, Crochet Two Croc-O-Dye in a light blue/light green/white colorway. I used the Basic Slip Stitch Heel sock pattern from Wendy Johnson’s Socks from the Toe Up with just a couple of mods. Taking into account my super-tight sock knitting tendencies, I made up a size between the Med. and Large, changing the stitch count. To get the slant waves, I used a yo, k2, ssk, k5 stitch pattern on one sock (alternating with knit rows), and a k2tog, k2, yo, k5 knit pattern on the other sock (also alternating with knit rows), making two socks that go in opposite directions. It ended up being a fun little knit. The stitch pattern was simple enough to do while watching TV, and the yarn was a great colorway. It did get a little splitty at times, but that might have been my unreasonably tight/OCD guage.

second sock- goes in the opposite direction from the first one!

In other news, after talking about it for what seems like FOREVER, I’ve finally cast on the Nantes Hat, the lacey/cabley confection from the last issue of Interweave Knits. I’m just making it out of Patons Classic Wool (100% wool) from my stash in a slightly darker than lime green colorway. The yarn isn’t anything special (in fact, I think I originally bought it for felting but never actually did anything with it), but it will show off the crazy awesomeness of the pattern pretty well. Here’s the ravelry link to my project page. Still, in the end, I think I’m going to give it away. As much as I think I’ll love it, I just have too many hats, and I do have a recipient in mind. My friend has an early January Birthday, so I was going to ship her a double Christmas/Bday present sometime soon. She’s already getting my green sample Flying Home Scarf (new pattern!) in Frog Tree Alpaca sportweight, so adding a hat will really make it a nice, round double present!

Nantes Hat