Glitz Shawl

It’s February, so clearly it’s time to start breaking out the posts about Christmas gifts that I made. I always think I’m going to prep the posts in advance so they run in January, but then life happens. This year it was a trip to India that took prep time in January and then a big chuck out of February!

So here’s the first of my holiday gift items: a Glitz shawl made for my sister!

Pattern: Glitz Shawl by Kelli Slack

Kelli is a designer with exceptional taste who does a lot of patterns for my local yarn store. I am always admiring her designs in store, but I think this might be the first one I’ve knit up! It definitely won’t be my last. This is a really nicely written pattern with clear charts and good written instructions. I might have marked a few more things as repeats because of the algorithmic way I think about patterns (and the way my eyes skip over the written instructions when I’m tired), but a bit of highlighting and the chart kept me on track without much trouble.

I did this one exactly as written, which means it was actually the easiest of the gifts I made this year, since I made the rest of them up (and tried valiantly to keep notes on what I did).

I particularly love the little dangle bead detail on in this design. I may have to use the same idea in other projects I do!

Yarn: Teresa Ruch Tencel 5/2

I am so obsessed with this yarn that the folk at my local yarn store tease me about how I have to oggle the new stock all the time, but the colours are just that great, and the yarn itself blocks like a dream and has this perfect drape and sheen. Especially with crochet, it just ups the elegance of pretty much every project I’ve tried it on, since it’s such a light fingering weight and it practically glows with colour.

I have used it for a few projects now (most recently completed: Cadfael), but this was first time knitting with it. The yarn really helps make the “Glitz” that the shawl’s named for stand out, although I opted to go with a blue rather than the metallic tones it was designed for. The blue makes it a bit more like something you might have in an Elsa from Frozen cosplay, but since my sister and I have spent years cosplaying together, I didn’t think she’d mind. And besides, she looks good in blue. (Okay, she looks good in pretty much anything, even when we intentionally do thrift store finds that we can’t imagine looking good on anyone!)

It’s definitely more of a decorative piece than a warm one, so I imagine it’ll be some months before my sister can make good use of it, but hopefully it’ll be a fun wardrobe addition when the weather warms up! It was certainly a fun thing to make.

Complete Cardigan!

Remember this cardigan I started back in March? I almost made the Cardipalooza deadline in May, but abandoned it a bit shy of the deadline when I ran into problems and decided it would be better to take a break than to try to push for a deadline. I picked it up again now that it’s finally getting cool again, and I finally finished it last weekend.

Acorn Trail Sweater

Acorn Trail Sweater

The pattern is Acorn Trail. It’s a beautiful sweater, and I’ve found Amy Herzog’s sweater fitting books really interesting, so I was eager to try one of her patterns. With judicious use of a highlighter I didn’t even find the pattern too hard to follow despite the many possible adjustments. I did somehow make the body section longer than I intended and had to do a run for more yarn, but to be honest it’s a nice length and while you can spot that the last skein is slightly more grey if you look a the sleeve joins at the shoulder or in the button band, it’s not as bad as I first feared.

Acorn Trail Sweater

I thought I would prefer to do a pieced sweater because most of my knitting is on the go, and doing pieces meant I could still easily carry it around. But it turns out I’m not great at seaming and I don’t much enjoy it, and even while I was knitting I spent time wondering why I was making seams when I could just put things together in 3d in the first place. In the end, I *did* convert the sleeves to be knit in the round rather than flat because I couldn’t honestly think of any reason not to do so, but I did the rest of the pattern as written. Still, I found I was constantly sad I couldn’t try it on as I went and adjust it all more precisely, so I think next sweater I try may be a more seamless affair and probably top-down. The current leading candidate is Lush, but something else may well catch my eye before I get to making it. I’m guessing right now it’ll be after the 2017 Rose City Yarn Crawl before I’ll have time for a sweater again.

Acorn Trail Sweater

The yarn is Malabrigo Rios in Bobby Blue, which I picked up from For Yarn’s Sake. That was the first yarn store I visited when I moved here, I think! It’s very conveniently located next to the woodworking store in the same mall as the chocolate shop.

The yarn is soft and lovely and washable. I would totally use this again, although maybe not for a sweater since getting enough in one dye lot was hard even with For Yarn’s Sake’s fairly large collection. I did stripe it to even out the dye lots, but that last skein is still noticeable to my eye. The colour did bleed a bit when I washed and blocked it, but nothing dramatic, just enough that I’ll be careful if I decide to use the remainder in some colourwork.

Acorn Trail sweater detail

The buttons I picked up at Black Sheep at Orenco, and aren’t they cute? They’re probably a bit impractical since star buttons can be kind of finicky in knitting, but I liked the look of them and honestly, I mostly wear my cardigans open since work is pretty warm for sweaters. Although it did snow this week, so it’s cool outside!

Acorn Trail Sweater

Many of my knitwear photos are self portraits since my husband’s photographic passions are more about architecture and landscape than people. (I on the other hand, am mostly about people and flowers.) But he was kind enough to help with these and as always, the two of us working together results in much funnier expressions. He did a really nice job, although I cheated and gave him a 50mm prime lens so he had no choice but to be a bit more close up than he normally would be.

Acorn Trail Sweater

So that’s it! I’d guess that the sweater was under 2 months of work in total, but with a 6 month gap in the middle. Honestly, I thought it would take me longer! I’m pretty proud of my first me-sized sweater, and I’m sure it’ll be the first of many.

Acorn Trail Sweater

Triangle Hat

I bought some mini skeins from Knitted Wit to make a hat, but then the pattern that I was sure I had didn’t seem to exist in my pattern collection, so I made it up as I went and this is the result. (I suspect in hindsight that I might have been thinking of the triangle mitts from the Knitpicks 2015 spring accessories and not a hat at all.)

Edit: Someone on Ravelry pointed out to me that this is eerily close to a pattern from Twisted, which I almost certainly saw when I bought my yarn. This is a made-from-scratch hat with different triangle sizes and fewer colours and probably wildly different math since it was sized from my swatch and my head, so I’m quite sure that it’s legally fine, but I feel uncomfortable about it looking so much like someone else’s paid pattern, so I’ll be reworking the colourwork before re-releasing it. (It seems a shame to lose all that work I did on figuring out the crown-shaping decreases and all for myself, so the new chart will be around the same size as the old one.) I’ve taken it off ravelry but will leave it up here for my own convenience while I knit a new sample. I’m sorry!

Triangle hat

I’m calling this Triangle Hat, but you have to think of this song when you say it to get the full effect of what’s inside my head. Or perhaps you’d rather not.

If you prefer, there is also a printable Triangle Hat pdf, and it’s on ravelry as well.

Triangle hat

Needle size: 6
Yarn: Knitted Wit Superwash Worsted. I am utterly in love with this yarn and immediately made two more hats after this one and will likely buy more at the next available opportunity.
1 ball main colour, 3 “gobstoppers” in contrasting colours
(This gets you two hats with leftovers)
Gauge: 21 sts per 4 inches
Sizing:
This pattern was designed to fit my head, which measures just under 24 inches. If you need something larger or smaller, the pattern happens in groups of 8, and you can scale up or down to fit your needs. For example, for a 1 year old child with a head circumference of 18 inches, you’d want 6 inches less, and the closest multiple of 8 would be 32, so you should cast on 80 stitches.

Not sure how big your intended recipient’s head might be? Here’s a head size chart. I am amused to discover that I have a “large” head as I know quite a few people with heads much larger than mine!

Brim

For “one size fits most” adult hat: CO 112 in the round.
The brim is around 1 inch of ribbing. I did the k2 through the back loop to make the stitches pop a bit more.

Rows 1-13: {k2 through the back loop, p2} repeat around

Pattern

trianglehat-chart

Apologies for the chart having been done in a spreadsheet program so the numbers don’t match, but start at the bottom (with the two main colour rows) and work your way up (or make your triangles upside-down relative to mine, that’s cool too).

Row 14-15: knit all stitches in main colour
First triangle section:
16: {k7 in colour1, k1 in main colour} repeat around
17: {k1 in main colour, k5 in colour1, k2 in main colour} repeat around
18: {k2 in main colour, k3 in colour1, k3 in main colour} repeat around
19: {k3 in main colour, k1 in colour1, k4 in main colour} repeat around
Second triangle section:
20: {k3 in colour2, k1 in main colour, k4 in colour2} repeat around
21: {k2 in colour2, k3 in main colour, k3 in colour2} repeat around
22: {k1 in colour2, k5 in main colour, k2 in colour2} repeat around
23: {k7 in main colour, k1 in colour2} repeat around
Third triangle section:
24-27: repeat first triangle section but using 3rd colour instead of first

Rows 28-37: Continue to knit all stitches in main colour for another 9 rows (or desired height)

Decreasing

38: {k14, k2tog} repeat around
39: k around
40: {k13, k2tog} repeat around
41: k around
42: {k12, k2tog} repeat around
43: k around
44: {k11, k2tog} repeat around
45: k around
46: {k10, k2tog} repeat around
47: {k9, k2tog} repeat around
48: {k8, k2tog} repeat around
49: {k7, k2tog} repeat around
50: {k6, k2tog} repeat around
51: {k5, k2tog} repeat around
52: {k4, k2tog} repeat around
53: {k3, k2tog} repeat around
54: {k2, k2tog} repeat around
55: {k1, k2tog} repeat around
56: {k2tog} repeat around.
Cut yarn and thread through remaining stitches to close the top of the hat then tie off.

Triangle hat

Triangle hat

Neapolitan Scarflette – Jimmy Beans Big Beanie Bag: August 2016

I’ve been really enjoying Jimmy Beans Big Beanie Bags, but I haven’t been so good about photographing my projects for both happy and sad reasons I won’t go into right now. But despite my lack of documentation, these are great! These are like the grown-up cousin to their little yarn sample bags: more yarn, projects that are more wearable (think shawls, hats, cowls) and less trinket-like (think coasters, finger puppets). What really seals it for me is that these are a perfect “fits in the purse and keeps me entertained for hours” project when I’m running off in a hurry and need something that doesn’t require planning or fancy swatches and already has yarn measured out so I’m not carrying multiple full-sized balls in my bag. I had no idea I needed grab and go kits until I had a little stash of them!

Jimmy Beans Big Beanie Bag: August 2016

There’s the August kit: nice drawstring bag, glossy printed pattern, 4 balls of yarn, a packet of hand lotion (sometimes it’s wool wash, which I prefer), and a little notions box. The notion changes every month, and sometimes the yarn isn’t 4 balls, but it’s similar most months.

I like the little notions box, although I haven’t quite figured out what to put in all its little teensy compartments, and I should have taken a picture with it open for you to see them all!

If you’re curious, here’s the Jimmy Beans (small) beanie bag and the Yarn of the Month bag for August 2016, since this was an overlap month before I decided to drop the smaller subscriptions.

Jimmy Beans Big Beanie Bag: August 2016

August’s yarn came from Koigu, a brand I’d heard of but didn’t realize they were from Ontario. So I learned something new! The yarn very easy to knit with, maybe a bit less fuzzy/haloed than I like for my shawls, but that makes it easier to wear when it’s not really *that* cold in the office.

Jimmy Beans Big Beanie Bag: August 2016

The pattern for August is Neapolitan Scarflette by Rachel Roden. I think she’s RachelUnraveled on Ravelry, but this design doesn’t seem to be up so it might be someone else. This is a pattern that is simple to knit but annoying to count, since there’s a lot of sections that are almost but not quite the same. I assume a lot of this was just in trying to make good use of the 4 same-sized balls of yarn, but it did have me thinking a lot about how to optimize pattern writing to make the changed sections easier to notice. I suspect my next more complicated patterns are going to have a lot of colours or something as a result of this. Or possibly just be more simplified in memory of all the times I’ve cruised past the directions because I’m in a rhythm.

One thing I really liked about this pattern was the fact that it calls out a useful skill to learn: knitting the ends in as you go. Definitely this shawl encourages you to learn that one with all the colour changes! Knitting in ends as I go is not something I did all the time before and I think I’ll find myself doing it automatically now after all that practice, so I’m pretty pleased that they put that in. I’m leveling up in fibercraft in leaps and bounds lately!

Jimmy Beans Big Beanie Bag: August 2016

Here it is all balled up more like I’d wear it as a scarf, and you can see that there’s still some yarn leftover! I love the colours, so hopefully I’ll find a nice time to use these in a spot of colourwork. Doing colourwork remains one of the reasons I was willing to get so many small balls of yarn after all!

Jimmy Beans Big Beanie Bag: August 2016

Overall I was very pleased with this kit. I actually started my subscription up again right after the initial 3 months finished because I heard they had a few of these left and I could get one, and I’m pretty pleased that I did.

Starry Stole

Starry Stole

This was actually my first beaded knitting project, and it’s a miracle it wasn’t my last, as it called for threading hundreds of beads (700 the pattern said!) on beautiful laceweight wool.

It took me 5 years to finish.

Well, okay, I can’t be sure it was 5 years, because I didn’t actually put this project in Ravelry with a start date, but it was pretty early on in my knitting career, and was started when I lived in Albuquerque, so that only really gives me a possible 2 year window. It’s at least 4 years, anyhow. It felt like forever. I’ve probably finished another half dozen beaded projects before I came back to this one and finally finished it off.

Pattern: Starry Stole
Yarn: I believe it was the discontinued Knitpicks Shimmer Hand Dyed Lace
Ravelry Link: My Starry Stole

I can definitely tell you that I wouldn’t try to string beads on that yarn again — it felted little rings as you slid the beads along, the beads wrapped around each other making terrible almost-knots. I’m more experienced now, and I know that fighting with yarn and beads like this is unnecessary now thanks to nice tools like my bead-aid. Stringing them on meant I could slip-stitch them to float on one side, though, and that is actually pretty nice in the final feel of the piece.

Starry Stole

Despite many frustrating moments and the huge number of times I set it down in favour of some less irritating project, the final piece is beautiful. The soft lace yarn floats over my skin with the beads providing sparkle and just enough weight. I wish the yarn wasn’t discontinued! It feels like something out of a fairy tale, and it looks like it too.

Starry Stole

Because this was a very early project for me, it’s pretty easy for me to spot the mistakes: here’s where I had too heavy a stitch marker and it pulled on the yarn, here’s a place where I botched the lace edging and guessed at a fix, here’s a section where the tension isn’t quite even. But blocking smoothed most of that out and the result is beautiful even with some signs of my inexperience knit in to the piece. Maybe that tangible record of how far I’ve come is part of the magic of this shawl.

Starry Stole

I learned a lot from this one, and I’m glad I finally finished it, because it really is lovely.

Starry Stole

Craftsman Shawl

This shawl is another part of my fall finishing spree, which was inspired by someone in one of my online groups asking how many WIPs I had. I took stock, then finished this one before posting my answer (which is probably cheating) and then started in on the gloves and another one I’ll post soon.

Craftsman Shawl

I saw this in the shop at Twisted and it’s very striking with those square holes, and I love the inspiration from Craftsman homes. Combine that with a local yarn, and you get a pleasantly local pattern. I suspect those are always an easier sell around here, since “buy local” is something that people really commit to in the PNW. I know I’m quickly becoming a sucker for pacific-northwest themed stuff, and I’ve only lived here 3 years. (But oh, when I step out into that misty fall rain, sometimes it feels like my heart’s been here forever.)

Craftsman Shawl

Pattern: Craftsman Shawl. While this pattern looks pretty ornate, it’s surprisingly simple, and has lots of straight-up knit rows which were very pleasant while I was on conference calls or watching videos or whatever. I don’t think it’d be a great beginner project, but it’s probably only a few steps up from beginner level.

Craftsman Shawl

I love the aesthetics of the pattern, but once I got it finished, I was surprised to find that it wasn’t nearly as warm as I expected because the blocking opened up those big holes so it no longer trapped air as well as it did while I was knitting it. So don’t plan for this to be a great warmth piece. But it’s actually kind of nice as a mid-weight piece, and it’s more or less earned a place on my favourite chair for when the sun goes down and the living room starts to cool off.

Craftsman Shawl

Yarn: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Silky Victoria. I picked this up also at Twisted, I think maybe using a coupon intended to get people to come back after the Rose City Yarn Crawl. Smart marketing, although the store is kind of picked over at that point. Twisted is one of the first shops I visited in Portland, and it’s still one I take yarn-loving visitors to because it’s got a nice selection of local dyers for your tourist yarn needs and gives me an excuse to drive across the city.

Craftsman Shawl

This was a *giant* ball of yarn. It’s soft, but still wooly, and doesn’t feel super silky to me (compared to my fancier blends) but it shines with that silky almost-sparkle. that’s really highlighted by the tonal reds. I’m a big fan of the Blue Moon colourways, and this is a pleasant base that really shows the rich colours at their best. It’s not one of those yarns that makes me immediately want to run out and buy more just because it feels so amazing, but their colours (and their hilarious names) always tempt me.

Craftsman Shawl

My project on ravelry, in case you want to queue up your own.

How am I doing on that finishing spree? I had 8 works in progress if you count this one, 4 are done, and I started and finished a 5th that’s currently blocking.

Two WIPs you know about are the abandoned cardipalooza cardigan and the dreaded second glove from the catch a falling star MKAL. I’ve got two more WIPs that I don’t intend to finish right now because there’s pattern rework to be done.

But then I started a hat this morning because I needed a purse-sized project that wouldn’t poke holes in things (the needles for those fingerless gloves are deadly) and the new yarn from the flock and fiber festival was calling to me. So I’m currently at 3 in progress, two stalled. Good thing I’m not *too* worried about having a few things on the needles at once!

Grey gloves (Phase 1)

Grey gloves for J

I’ve been on a bit of a finishing spree, pulling out older projects. This one technically isn’t finished yet, since I’ll be putting a finger cover to make them convertible gloves, but since I gave them to J to try out in case it’s cool while he’s traveling east I figure they’re finished for now!

These were started in the spring, but abandoned when it got too warm for them to be useful. It’s still too warm, but I wanted to make sure they were done before it actually got cold.

Pattern: Line by Line mittens. This is a bit of a silly pattern to use with a solid grey yarn, but I had a copy (I think maybe it was a giveaway once?) and it has a size that’s suitable for J. Since this wasn’t a surprise, I got J to choose how long to make the fingers, so it’s not exactly to pattern.

Yarn: Misti Tui from Misti Alpaca. Sport weight, chains of thin alpaca. This is the same type of yarn I used for my Easy Kitty Hat. It’s probably not ideal for gloves, but it’s so soft and easy to stuff in a pocket that I thought J might enjoy some gloves out of it and offered to make them.

I don’t know if I’d recommend it for gloves in general because I doubt it’s super hardy, but so soft, and if they got worn out it’s not too hard to patch them up or make more.

Yarn of the Month Club, July 2015

Hello my poor neglected maker blog, long time no see! It’s been a busy few months, in good ways, in bad ways, in sad ways. But I have been making things, and maybe I’ll eventually take pictures of my wedding dress and maybe I’ll eventually frog that section of the cardi that wasn’t right and maybe I’ll take some better photos of the pokéball and get some cards printed to hand out. Or maybe I’ll get caught up in the new things I want to make for maker faire and disappear again. Such is life.

What I will do today is document July’s YOTM shipment, since I finished those swatches and finally got around to taking some photos of them.

Debbi Bliss yarn samples (YOTM)

These two yarns are pretty similar, with the black Cleo slightly thicker than the pink Loli, but both with a similar icord type structure.

Cleo by Debbi Bliss

4.75 sts/inch on US 8
62% cotton, 38% polyester
98 yards. Color: 60001

Front of swatch:
20160812-IMG_0865.jpg

Back of swatch:
20160812-IMG_0866.jpg

I really love this swatch: it’s pleasantly sproingy and black, which means it would make a lovely face scrubby for makeup removal. I may just adopt it for that rather than saving it for the swatch blanket.

Loli by Debbi Bliss

6 sts/inch on US 6
80% cotton, 20% polyester
120 yards. color: 61006

Loli by Debbi Bliss (YOTM Sample)
The colour pops are actually looser than the main yarn, which was a surprise!

Front of swatch:
20160812-IMG_0867.jpg

That’s definitely not the promised 5″ square, but I decided I wasn’t in the mood to re-knit it at the time because the needles I was using tended to snag.

Back of swatch:
20160812-IMG_0868.jpg

This blend is much more cotton-like than the Cleo, feeling more like a more stretchy cotton rather than like a lofty polyester.

Both of these yarns were pretty similar to knit: springy, liable to catch on the lousy needles I was using but no problem with good needles. I liked the swatch patterns (thankfully no mistakes in the swatch this time!) I gather from a bit of searching that they’re meant to be beginner-friendly yarns, which makes some sense.

They knit up quickly once I switched needles. I’d definitely consider using these yarns for kids toys or anything else where washability and durability was a priority. They’d probably be good for summer stuff or folk avoiding animal fibers, although they don’t feel particularly luxurious to me so I don’t think I’d make big projects out of them. Still, fun to try!

The continuing cardi story…

The cardipalooza cardi is still coming! It’s been a month and I’ve been knitting it while reading weird gardening texts:

#gardeningproblems

A photo posted by Terri Oda (@drterriko) on

While enjoying my actual garden:

Late afternoon knitting and tea time ☕ Glad to be done work before the sun is gone!

A photo posted by Terri Oda (@drterriko) on

But mostly I’ve been knitting it in lengthy, upset work phone calls as everyone got stressed out about the pending release. (That’s not as photogenic, though it *did* help keep me a bit more even-keeled through the process.)

And my Acorn Trail cardi has been slowly getting bigger:
Cardipalooza proto-cardigan (Acorn Trail pattern)

And bigger:
Cardipalooza proto-cardigan (Acorn Trail pattern)

And bigger (Don’t worry, the shaping isn’t that intense, it’s just rolled over a bit and unblocked):
Cardipalooza proto-cardigan (Acorn Trail pattern)

And soon it will have sleeves:
Cardigan sleeve selfie for cardipalooza

It’s been a learning process. I’ve had to rip back this and that as I did too much knitting while distracted. I’ve had to learn how to alternate balls of hand-dyed yarns. I decided not to knit the sleeve flat and instead do that in the round, which took a few tries before the “seam” of switched yarns looked right to me. I’m terrified that the math won’t work out and my sleeves won’t fit right into the body, because I’ve mostly done top-down seamless baby sweaters and I’ve never had to think about this before, let alone for such a big project. I’m trying to trust in the pattern, but then I mess something up and don’t go back or make a tweak here and a tweak there to make it fit me better and… it’s scary!

But despite the worries and despite the learning process, it’s coming together. I’ve reached the ennui stage of things as I finish off the first sleeve, so I’m eager to be done (and yet, there’s still button bands and sewing to go — next time, more seamless!) but I’m on track to hit the finish line this month!

Strawberry gloves

My other goal for 2015 was to try some more stranded colourwork that wasn’t double-knitting. I had intended to do more simple stuff, but I fell in love with this pattern and you know how it goes from there.

Strawberry Fields gloves

The pattern is Strawberry Fields by Jami Brynildson. It was one of the shop patterns offered by Knitting Bee during the 2015 yarn crawl (shops offer one or two patterns free with purchase during the crawl and they’re available for sale after the event). I got the kit at Knitting Bee during the crawl since it was one of the patterns I knew I wanted to make.

The yarn is Black Trillium pebble sock yarn, which is amazing and I would totally work with again. The kit was more than enough to do the pattern, so I’ve got some nice little balls left over for a dash of colour in some future project.

Watermelon helmet, Strawberry gloves

These gloves have actually been done since sometime in 2015, and I wear them around town all the time because they’re among the smallest warm gloves I have. I particularly like that the colours go with my watermelon bike helmet, which is from the delightful Nutcase Helmets. I also like to think that their name is a statement on my mental state, which I assume is why they put it on the front of the helmet. I saw someone with one of these out on the road by the grocery store and knew I wanted one when my helmet was due for upgrading.

The gloves a little more beat up than they were fresh off the needles (you can see a yarn tail that’s come unwoven in the photos) but I hadn’t shared them when they were finished so now’s as good a time as any!

I did modify the thumb a little bit, as the original one felt too tight for my comfort. I don’t like having my motion restricted, and being able to spread my hands wide is kind of important when braking on the bicycle!

Strawberry Fields gloves

Things I learned from doing this:

  1. Working with wool for colourwork is much easier than acrylic or cotton. My other tests had been with cheaper yarn, and it turns out I wasn’t doing myself any favours. The wool is much more forgiving, blocks better, sticks to itself better, and is just all ’round easier.
  2. Don’t pull anything tight. Those floats behind need to be longer than you think, and I can still see places where I pulled a bit too tight to fully block out.
  3. I need more practice doing colourwork while using magic loop (I did two gloves at a time on a single long circular needle).
  4. Blocking is magic. These looked ok on the needles, but they look beautiful after blocking.
  5. I want to do more colourwork!

As to the last, I’ve already started on more experimentation with colours thanks to my yarn sampler subscriptions, but expect more projects in 2016!

A sweater for me (just started!)

One of my goals for 2015 was to knit an adult-sized sweater, but I cheated a bit and made one for my sister (who’s smaller than I and one of the smaller adults I know).

So I revised my goal for 2016 and here’s the start of something cool, I hope:

Cardipalooza swatch

That’s the swatch for my very first sweater for myself!

I’m participating in Cardipalooza (Ravelry Link) in hopes that having a group to post pictures to will help me stay on track. It’d be better if there were weekly checkpoints or something, but I guess I can make my own.

The yarn is Malabrigo Rio, a beautiful 100% merino wool superwash that comes in the most lovely colours. I wanted to treat myself but still have something that wouldn’t be so hard to care for that I’d never want to wear it.

Proto-cardigan

I’m trying Acorn Trail, which might be a bit of a challenging pattern for me because of all the many many fit options, plus all the seaming. But I like the way it looks, and it’s not like anything else I have, so that’s what I’m starting with. Probably not the most scientific way to choose, but honestly, I think most yarn projects are just “I want” and anything else is just justification anyhow.

The photo is from earlier in the week — despite having to tear back twice due to messing up the decreases, it’s bigger now!

Yarn of the Month Club, January 2015

Yarn of the Month, January 2016

January’s Yarn of the Month package has some serious variety in it! Raffia, cotton-linen gradient, and a single ply acrylic-wool super-saturated gradient. These were all super fun, but I was most taken with learning to block raffia. So flexible and shape-able when damp!

Classic Shadow

Yarn of the Month, January 2016

Classic Shadow
“This yarn has such beautiful colourways – it would be perfect at jazzing up a simple project”
4.5 sts/inch on US 8
70% Acrylic, 30% wool

Single ply, acrylic-wool, super-saturated colour goodness. I love the swatch pattern!

Front unblocked and blocked:
Yarn of the Month, January 2016
Yarn of the Month, January 2016

Back unblocked and blocked:
Yarn of the Month, January 2016
Yarn of the Month, January 2016

Those colours are great, although I will caution that they bled a little upon blocking. After a wash or two, though, I could totally see using this in a brilliant “screw all those pastels” baby project.

Good Earth Adorn

Yarn of the Month, January 2016

Good Earth Adorn
“This yarn is perfect for lacy spring knitting”
4 sts/inch on us 8
47% linen 53% cotton

This is a really nice linen-cotton blend. I could actually see making a garment out of this one, even though I’m not the hugest fan of working with linen (the “so soft after many washings” is too long a pay-off for me).

I think the stitch pattern might make a nice dishcloth, though, and those things get washed a lot more than garments:

Yarn of the Month, January 2016

It wasn’t evident to me that it would be a gradient from the ball, so that was a neat treat. Here it is blocked:

Yarn of the Month, January 2016

And in kite form! 😉

Yarn of the Month, January 2016

Yashi

Yarn of the Month, January 2016

Yashi by Universal Yarn
“This yarn is challenging to knit and creates beautiful and sturdy projects”
3.75 sts/in on US 9
100% Raffia!

I’d been curious about raffia but I couldn’t bring myself to buy a whole ball to try it out. Thankfully, this is exactly the sort of reason I subscribed to Yarn of the Month so I was quite pleased to get such an unusual yarn! It feels weird to be knitting something that feels like paper, but I got used to it quickly. I honestly didn’t think it was that hard to knit after you got into the swing of things: the raffia is much more flexible than I’d have expected.

I didn’t like the seed stitch swatch recommendation because it didn’t really show off the neat flatness possible with this fiber, so I switched mine up with some bands of stockinette to show the difference:

Yarn of the Month, January 2016

The biggest surprise of using the raffia was learning that it can be blocked. (Thanks to the fine folk at Black Sheep at Orenco for telling me that!) It was super satisfying to block, as the damp raffia becomes flexible and soft.

Yarn of the Month, January 2016

I was surprised by how taken I was with the Raffia. I might have to see about making myself a hat or something!

Conclusion

An interesting batch of yarns, but the real winner for me was getting to try out the raffia. Who knew I’d like it so much? I should see if there’s still some in the sale bin at Black Sheep at Orenco…

Jimmy Beans Wool Beanie Bags, December 2015

Beanie Bags, December 2015

December’s theme was “superwash” and it included 5 samples in worsted weight. This seemed like a perfect time for me to practice my colourwork, since “do a small fair isle project” is on my craft goal list for this year, and I need practice with colourwork.

Beanie Bags, December 2015

In addition to the yarns, there’s some pom-pom makers, patterns for wine bottle cozies, a packet of Soak wool wash, and a coupon for a discounted pattern (which I forgot about before it expired, alas!)

I took quite a few photos of this bag, but honestly when I’m looking for info on a bag I often wish there were more pictures rather than less, so if you’re curious, I put even more pictures up in my curiousity.ca/things I’ve made album on flickr.

Here’s some photo spam of the yarns:

Plymouth Worsted Merino Superwash

Beanie Bags, December 2015

This was the softest yarn of the bunch!

Beanie Bags, December 2015 - Plymouth Worsted Merino Superwash

Madeleinetosh Tosh Vintage

This has the subtle colour changes that Madeleinetosh is known for, although they aren’t super obvious in my photos of the little ball.

Beanie Bags, December 2015 - Madeleinetosh Tosh Vintage

Lorna's Laces Shepherd

Beanie Bags, December 2015

This is a nice woodsy variegated with a looser, squishy ply.

Beanie Bags, December 2015 - Lorna's Laces Shepherd

Rowan Pure Wool Worsted

Beanie Bags, December 2015 - Rowan Pure Wool Worsted

A pleasant heathered yarn. I particularly liked working with this one.

Beanie Bags, December 2015 - Rowan Pure Wool Worsted

Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted

Beanie Bags, December 2015

Another pleasant heathered yarn which was a great match for the Rowan.

Beanie Bags, December 2015 - Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted

My Fair Isle sampler

Overall, they all felt pretty similar, and it’s possible that difference in softness was a function of the dyes more than the yarn itself (although the different plying does make some difference). This was great for my purposes, since it meant they worked okay together!

Beanie Bags, December 2015

This detail shot shows you two important things: #1, the variation in colour in the madeleinetosh sample. #2, the lesson I learned about fair isle samplers, which is that you *really* need to work in some sort of border to anchor the colour changes. I’ll keep this in mind for the next time I do a colourwork sampler!

Here’s the whole piece:

Beanie Bags, December 2015

The patterns were taken from “Mastering Colour Knitting

I’m not sure how I’ll fit this long sampler into my blanket made of samples yet, but I think I’m at the point where I should start putting it together rather than filing all my samples in a binder!

Yarn Subscription preview, February 2016 (Yarn of the Month and Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags)

One more preview photo for today!

Yarn Subscription preview, February 2016 (Yarn of the Month and Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags)

These yarns have been sadly neglected in favour of Rose City Yarn Crawl stuff, but they’ll be coming up soon! I’m very much looking forwards to more teensy tiny sample knits.

Yarn of the Month is on the left, with that tempting stained glass pattern that might have me ditch the usual swatch patterns in favour of trying a two-colour affair. Jimmy Beans is on the right with the Eddie the Eagle-themed package. Apparently they yarnbombed the Sundance film festival in celebration!

Yarn Subscription preview, January 2016 (Yarn of the Month and Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags)

I took this picture back in January but apparently never actually shared it, so here’s a belated preview, if that makes any sense:

Yarn Subscription preview, January 2016 (Yarn of the Month and Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags)

Yarn of the Month is on the left, Beanie Bags on the right. Since I’m planning to block the YOTM samples tonight and nearly done with the project for the Beanie Bags, I’ll leave further discussion of the contents until the full reviews.

I had not taken a picture for February because the Beanie Bags package was delayed to the point where I was completely entrenched in Rose City Yarn Crawl knitting when it arrived, but I’ve taken a quick snap today that I’ll put up shortly!

Rose City Yarn Crawl Mystery Knit-a-longs (Clue 1 and 2)

As I mentioned in my post about knit-a-longs, the Rose City Yarn Crawl runs both a knit and crochet a long in the month leading up to the yarn crawl. It’s a real treat seeing people wear their creations out on the crawl, and I wanted to be one of those gals sporting a new finished object on the crawl this year.

I decided that enough of my yarn was unpacked that I should be able to find some stuff out of my stash. This is actually hard, since I mostly buy yarn for specific projects and this is my first cowl, so I haven’t really shopped with that in mind. Since it’s Presidents day down here in the US, I’ll show you the red-white-and-blue yarns that became my short list before I decided on my two required colours:

Rose City Yarn Crawl - Mystery Knit-a-Long

Okay, so it’s actually blue-white-red like the French flag, but I am Canadian after all! This is KnitPicks Diadem yarn, bought during the big yarn sale in November two years ago on spec, because it sounded lovely and I wanted to try it. It’s a super fluffy alpaca-silk single ply that *feels* like heaven, but it’s kind of hard to work with because it sheds fluff, splits, and the fluff felts into little loops around the yarn that I have to cut off pretty frequently plus it sometimes loops around to make knots. And it’s hard to photograph because of the halo of fluff.

I was initially pretty disappointed by the yarn, but as I’ve gotten used to it, the luxurious feel balances out the finicky nature of the yarn. This is going to be one luxurious cowl, although I’m going to have to work for it!

I really wanted to do red & silver but once I saw the first clue, I decided silver & blue would suit it better:

Rose City Yarn Crawl - Mystery Knit-a-Long

Clue 1 is supposed to remind you of bike treads. I think it does!

Rose City Yarn Crawl MKAL - Velo Cowl Clue 1 detail

The whole pattern is written like a story about a bike ride, with twists and turns. Clue 2 involves some scenery and then some winding roads.

Rose City Yarn Crawl MKAL - Velo Cowl Clue 2 detail

It was at this point that realized that I’d somehow chosen my high school colours, silver and blue, because it reminded me of an old high school shirt when I started to get into the “scenery” part. Oh well, they’re great colours even if it is a bit funny.

Now let’s zoom out and see clue 1 and most of clue 2. I needed to take the picture while I still had nice light and figured you’ll see the last part next time. Clue 3 has been out since Wednesday so I’m a bit behind!

Rose City Yarn Crawl MKAL - Velo Cowl Clue 1 & 2

That… does not look like a cowl at all, to be honest. What a strange beast! I look forwards to seeing how this construction is going to work in the end.

Overall, the story of this cowl kind of makes it fun, and I’m loving how it feels even if the knitting process can be a tad annoying thanks to finicky yarn. I do think I’m done with mystery knits for a while after this, though… after seeing how beautiful other people’s cowls look with colour two as a variegated, I have a deeper understanding of how much I like selecting colours with advance knowledge of how they’re going to work together. But I did choose something high-contrast which looks pretty good, so I can’t be too sad!

Catch a Falling Star MKAL Clue 3

I’ve paused on this knit-a-long since the Rose City Yarn Crawl ones have started and I foolishly have tried to do both, but here’s what it looked like at clue 3:

Catch a falling star MKAL (Clue 3)

I really liked the bind-off in this. You can’t tell from the in progress photo, but it’s designed so that the bind off is thicker in places to follow the curve, so I plan to block it curvy. Overall, this was a very technically interesting pattern! And very nice for a free KAL to start the year, although not the easiest one on my hands. I really need less slippy small double pointed needles, I think, but my knitpicks laminate ones broke while I was using them. (They replaced them, but I’ve been too nervous to try the replacement.) Anyone got any recommendations?

I’ve actually finished this one glove, since as you can probably guess there’s just a few thumb stitches left. I haven’t finished the second glove because I’m on to the next project, but it’s cast on and waiting for me when I’m done and ready to come back to it!

Jimmy Beans Wool Beanie Bags, November 2015

I finally sat down and made a decision about what to make with my Beanie Bags yarn. So freeing!

First, let’s look at the package. The mailing envelope contained a single bag filled with stuff:
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The packaged contained 4 balls of yarn in the same shade of grey (although the light catches them differently in the photo below, they’re clearly the same shade in person), a plastic yarn needle, and a packet of soak fabric wash.
Jimmy Beans Beanie Bag, November 2015

Here it is all together with the card and packaged-by note so you can see the other side of the bag, which is fun too:
Jimmy Beans Beanie Bag, November 2015

Very cute! You can read about the yarns on the Jimmy Beans Wool website. The “learn a thing about yarn” theme here is blending. I’m familiar with doing custom yarns in this way since here in Portland we have Yarnia, an entire store dedicated to custom yarn blends. I visited Yarnia as a stop on the Rose City Yarn Crawl and while I wasn’t willing to wait for winding something custom, I was impressed by the huge selection of options.

As I said in my previous post, it took me a while to sit down and decide what to do with these yarns, since there were a bunch of possible combinations. I finally settled on a pair of two-yarn blends.

Shibui Pebble and Cima

I just want you all to admire how black and white the yarn ball photos look. I had a momentary freak-out when they downloaded from the camera because I thought something had gone wrong and I was getting a greyscale photo instead of the original, but no, I just took very monochrome pictures.

Shibui Cima and Pebble
Shibui CimaShibui Pebble

Cima is super soft, Pebble has nice texture. The combo gives you the best of both worlds! I grabbed a stitch dictionary and tried out a kind of leafy swatch. Here it is unblocked:

Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags, November 2015

This is “lace ribbons” on page 63 of Melissa Leapman’s “The Knit Stitch Handbook” if you’re trying to duplicate it.

Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags, November 2015

The end result is soft, flexible, and has that texture. Very nice! The swatch stretches out and looks a bit more angular when blocked, but the flexibility and softness of the yarn remain.

Shibui Maai and Staccato

Maai is pretty similar to the chained alpaca yarn I used for my kitty hat (it’s Misti Tui) and my one complaint with that yarn is that it’s too soft and fuzzy show much stitch definition.

Shibui Maai and Staccato
Shibui MaaiShibui Staccato

This blend, however, is all “by our powers combined!” and it’s got reasonable stitch definition with a bit of a sheen, but it’s still soft and plush with a halo of fuzz.

Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags, November 2015

The swatch is “tumbling blocks” from page 46 of Melissa Leapman’s “The Knit Stitch Handbook.” Chosen because it’s a knit/purl only texture so there isn’t too much help if the yarn can’t carry on its own. The photo is unblocked and only one side, but it basically looks the same blocked and on the reverse side.

Conclusion

Once I got around to using it, I really loved this Beanie Bag. I got to try a new technique and honestly, once I sat down with the stitch dictionary I didn’t have any trouble figuring out what to do. Just needed to get over the hump of indecision, I guess, and decide that swatches were the plan for this bunch. I loved the Shibui yarns and could see myself buying more of any of these, and it’s nice that I can turn around and just get them from the Jimmy Beans Wool website..

I’m not sure I can see myself doing a whole lot of yarn blending in this way, mostly because I can’t see myself building up a stash with appropriately matching colours for that. It seems to me that it would make more sense to take advantage of local store Yarnia if I wanted a blend, since they have a huge range of yarns and colours right there.

But I *could* see myself going out of my way to blend a yarn that wasn’t working for me, and now I’ve got a better sense of how a couple of blends work, so I feel like I learned a useful technique. Thanks JBW!

Yarn of the Month Club, December 2015

Astute readers may note that I’m doing the December YOTM review but still haven’t done the Beanie Bag full review. That’s because even though it’s January I still haven’t knit up anything with any of my Beanie Bag yarns. How embarrassing. Now, I could blame a busy holiday, but I the answer is much simpler than that: I don’t know what to knit. Without a recommended swatch just sitting there in the bag, and a combo of yarns to choose (remember, this was the “try two held together of different types!” package), the barrier to just sitting down and doing it is a lot harder. What needle size should I use? What should I knit? Which combo of yarns? Should I try the included headband pattern even though I barely ever wear headbands? This isn’t a “grab all the supplies and throw in purse” kind of project and apparently that’s a barrier.

This isn’t an unsolvable problem, of course, but since the idea behind doing tiny yarn samples was that I wouldn’t have a huge backlog of unused yarn, it’s a bit distressing to realise that not having swatch patterns in the bag makes such a difference. I’m approaching the end of my self-imposed “I’ll try this in 3 months and then decide” and I’m torn. I love the packages, they feel like a serious treat and I like the way each one has a theme that involves teaching you about fiber, and I like taking pictures of them, but if I’m not using them, I should probably give up and move on.

So expect some experimentation on that front soon! I’ve grabbed some stitch dictionaries and a set of interchangable needles and queued up an episode of Dr. Who, but there’s a percent chance that what you’re going to see next is a bunch of tiny octopi.

Anyhow, in the meantime, here’s the easy-to-use Yarn of the Month for December!

Yarn of the Month Club, December 2015

This month’s yarn was *super* posh. The black is fuzzy and soft, and the red is one of the nicest silk blends I’ve ever used. It was a huge contrast to the pleasant-but-unexciting superwash in my other yarn bag, which isn’t to say that the other was bad at all but wow did I ever want to play with these first!

The pattern

Yarn of the Month Club, December 2015

It’s a Santa hat! I think I might stop mentioning the patterns; I hardly ever use them.

Soavia

Yarn of the Month Club, December 2015

Soavia
“Really soft and smooshy with a beautiful sheen”
5.5 sts/inch on US 7
65% Wool 20% Kid Mohair 15% Silk
164 yds Color: 60

This yarn is plush and soft. You can’t tell too much from the photo, but it’s got a really pleasant halo and somehow manages a teensy sheen as well in person. It would make a positively lovely scarf or cowl, or anything worn close to the skin. It’s the sort of yarn you just want to sink your fingers into.

Yarn of the Month Club, December 2015

Given the halo, it’s pretty surprising how easy this is to work with (sometimes fuzzy yarns can be pretty temperamental). The stitch pattern with the long criss-cross thing really shows off the yarn. It’s soft even knit into tiny stitches, but those long ones are especially easy on the fingers. So very soft. It makes me want to do a bigger project with fuzzy yarns, even though it’s getting warmer and warmer here.

Roslyn

Yarn of the Month Club, December 2015

Roslyn
“Colourful and subtle and a workhorse yarn with great texture”
5.25 sts/inch on US 6
65% Wool 35% Silk
382.76 yds color: 06

This is one of the nicest silk blends I’ve ever worked with. It’s flexible, soft, and feels like it would make amazing clothes because it’s a bit lighter than many wools. It somehow feels silky without feeling too slick. The heathering and colour is fun too.

Yarn of the Month Club, December 2015

The stitch pattern is a pretty neat cable. Although I don’t think I got the sides quite even! Yarn was very easy to work with, the slight side-to-side difference is a me problem, not a yarn problem, and it might even block out.

Yarn of the Month Club, December 2015

I was surprised to see that this yarn’s regular price is $15/100g because it feels like a much fancier and more expensive blend. Thank you Cascade for producing such nice luxury yarns!

Summary

December’s YOTM was a real treat, even in the face of me working with the super nice yarns I was using for presents in December. I’d definitely use either of these yarns again, and Cascade at least should be a thing I can find around here so I can check out the other colours. Guess I’ll keep an eye out during the yarn crawl!

Catch a Falling Star MKAL week 2

The week 3 clue came out on Friday, so I’m a bit behind still. But Clue 2 was much easier than clue 1, at least! Here’s what clue 2 looks like for me and my dino buddy:

Catch a falling star MKAL (Clue 2)

Still loving that thick cuff, but not so much loving the transition at the wrist bead line — it feels and looks a bit lumpy around my wrist, and the beads make strange cool spots. Of course, this is also the part of the pattern that cramped up my hand. Bah!

Catch a falling star MKAL (Clue 2)

This is where the mystery is a bit of a disadvantage: if I’d seen the finished product, I might have done something about that transition line. Or maybe I just have absurdly dainty wrists? Either way, I’m not willing to rip back now, though I’m debating a little bit of elastic thread or ribbon to deal with the issue, or maybe it will block a bit flatter. I will ponder it. In the meantime, on to the next clue!

Catch a Falling Star MKAL

I did manage to cast on one of those knit-a-longs: the fingerless mitt “Catch a Falling Star” MKAL. since clue 2 has now been released (as I write this — I think clue 3 might be released by the time this posts), here’s my pictures from casting on and clue 1!

Catch a falling star MKAL

I’m using Knitpicks Capretta in the Admiral colourway. This is super lush:

Fiber Content: 80% Fine Merino Wool, 10% Cashmere, 10% Nylon
Weight: Fingering Weight
Knitting Gauge: 7-8 sts = 1 on #1-3 needles (2.25mm – 3.25mm)
Crochet Gauge: 21 – 32 sc = 4” on B – E hooks (2.25mm-3.5mm)
Yards: 230
Grams: 50
Put Up: ball
Care: Hand Wash/Dry Flat

I decided after taking this photo to go with the green beads, since I like how they catch the light.

Catch a falling star MKAL (Clue 1)

This is not an easy pattern to do: the beaded section made my hand cramp up so badly that I had to take painkillers and rest, and I haven’t had sore wrists with any regularity since high school. I had to switch needles to metal ones to handle the purl-yo-purl that makes the texture there. And you knit part of it inside out and have to do a stitch swap… it’s definitely a challenging pattern.

Catch a falling star MKAL (Clue 1)

But it’s so pretty! And it is super soft with the cashmere blend yarn and those plush bobble-like POP sections.

Catch a falling star MKAL (Clue 1)

I haven’t done the second cuff because I’m not feeling like pulling yarn out of the middle of the ball *and* I’m not feeling like cramping up my hand again, but I think I will move on to clue 2 now that I’ve documented clue 1!

Yarn of the Month Club, November 2015

Not sure what I’d say what November’s theme was, but it certainly resulted in some pretty yarns arriving on my doorstep!

20151110-IMG_9143.jpg

The Pattern

A drop stitch shawl. Probably won’t make it into my repertoire because there are just so many shawl patterns in the world, but who knows, maybe it’ll be perfect for some specific ball of yarn?

El Cielo by Cascades Yarns

20151110-IMG_9144.jpg

El Cielo by Cascades Yarns
“This warm and ethereal yarn is excellent for large lace patterns.”
4 sts/in on US 8
89% superfine alpaca 11% Nylon
579.6 yds color 04

This is so soft and light! I always love alpaca, but this turns alpaca into something like mohair, and it’s amazing. It’s also teensy-tiny if you don’t count the fluff — it took me way longer than I expected to knit that tiny swatch!

20151214-IMG_9608.jpg

The stitch pattern gets a bit lost in the halo of this yarn, but with a bit of light or white behind it, it becomes a subtler, fuzzier version of lacework that I quite enjoy.

20151214-IMG_9607.jpg

Artliea by Borgo De’Pazzi

20151110-IMG_9146.jpg

Artliea by Borgo De’Pazzi
“This superwash yarn is soft and snazzy and super fun to knit up”
3.25 sts/inch on US 11
69% superwash 30% polyamide 1% polyester
79 yds color 89

This is basically two yarns sewn together: a slow variegated superwash and a shiny metallic ribbon:
20151110-IMG_9148.jpg

The ribbon works really well to add a bit of sparkle. This is thick and pretty easy to work with because the two pieces are sewn together rather than just plied. My only complaint is that it isn’t quite as soft as my alpaca, but I understand that I am getting ridiculously spoiled.

Yarn of the Month Club, November 2015

I think this one would probably be a really fun treat for a new knitter, since it’s not to hard to work with and the slow colour change and sparkle ribbon really add a lot to even pretty basic stitches. Even basic garter stitch would be pretty neat because the yarn showcases the up-down of the knit stitches and the horizontal nature of the purls.

Summary

Really great yarns for November! Although I liked the Artliea I don’t see myself buying more because I’ve been doing a lot of texturework that needs solids and tonals to really shine, but I could definitely see picking it up as a gift. El Cielo is one I’ll remember as a beautiful fuzzy lace option — I’d actually love to do a sweater from this but I think I’d start with something easier for myself before I could tackle this. Maybe a huge fuzzy shawl for my grandmother, though?

Alpaca Pome Hat for Mom

This one was always intended to be a Christmas gift to my Mom, but I finished it in May. That might be the earliest I’ve ever started or finished a present.

Alpaca Hat for Mom

(whoops, sorry about the cleavage. SLR selfies are hard.)

Pattern: Pome by Agata Smektala
Yarn: I think it was Cascades Eco Alpaca or something. Super soft, pretty natural colours. My enthusiasm for the yarn might be why this got started so early!

Alpaca Hat for Mom

(No, really, SLR selfies are hard…)

Hat selfies are hard with an SLR.

Anyhow, I think the hat worked out! It’s a bit smaller than her favourite blue one, but the alpaca is definitely soft and hopefully warm enough for her daily walks. At this point, J would remind me to tell you all that alpaca is also also fire resistant. (He had an amusing chat with the alpaca rancher at the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival once.)

Alpaca hat detail

I would definitely use this yarn again, and probably do the pattern again, although with so many neat cabled hat patterns out there, it’s hard to resist the lure of the new!

Why are there so many knit-a-longs starting in January?

January is apparently the month to start knit-a-longs! I guess it makes some sense, since many people are done with holiday gift knitting, and maybe have made new years craft resolutions to try new things where a KAL would be a good way to get help and tips as they go. But oh my goodness, I’ve seen so many of them that I feel rather overwhelmed. Normally I see a KAL once every few months, not a pile of them stacked into the new year! Even though I’m totally excited to try some of these, I just *barely* finished a Christmas present shawl to give it to M before I left Ottawa and I’m torn between taking time off and jumping in to these!

Here’s the three KALs that I’m seriously considering, of the very very many that I’ve seen:

2016 Rose City Yarn Crawl Mystery Knit Along : This is one of two mystery patterns associated with the RCYC, a big event in March where you visit some of the many yarn stores in the Portland area over the course of the weekend. This year it’s 14 stores, and that’s not even all the stores in the area! I’m tempted to do this one because it’s so neat seeing so many people making and wearing the same pattern, and I kind of want to have my own plumage for the event this year! There’s actually two Rose City Yarn Crawl mystery alongs, one for knit and one for crochet. I’m gravitating towards the knitted one because I love the description they used to help you choose your yarn. First clue comes Jan 27, so I still have some time to decide.

Catch a Falling Star MKAL: This is the January Mystery Mitt KAL for the Fingerless Glove Fanatics Group on Ravelry. I honestly don’t remember buying the pattern, so I think maybe it was free for a bit in December and I clicked the link on spec. But the designer has nice stuff and I’ve found fingerless mitts incredibly useful in the Portland weather, so I’ll probably be digging through my stash for a skein this week. First clue is already out, next due on Friday! (The Ravelry notification is the only way I remembered that I had this pattern.)

Twin Leaf Crescent KAL: This was designed by a local designer who creates beautiful patterns that are clear and easy to understand, and I’ve loved doing KALs with her in the past. The gradient kit for this is from Black Trillium, a local dyer whose yarn I’ve loved working with, and the colours are beautiful. But it’s a big shawl to add to my KAL list, overlapping directly time-wise with the RCYC cowl, and it requires a yarn purchase.

Since it seems weird to have a post on this blog without a photo, here a quick cell phone snap of what’s currently on my needles that I want to finish as well as these potential KALs:

Hobo Mitts in Progress

Hobo Mitts in Progress

This will be a set of convertible mitts for J, who says his old ones are getting pretty beat up. (I think maybe I bought them for him when we were first dating and he didn’t have enough cool-weather gear for regular visits to Ottawa?) They look super tiny on the needles, but they’re *really* stretchy and I didn’t want them to be too loose, so that’s the way they’re going to be… assuming they feel right to J when he tries them on a second time later in the process. They’ll fit more easily in a pocket this way, right?

That picture represents only a couple of days of kniting (I cast on two days ago and barely knit anything today), so they’re going fast enough that I’m hoping I’ll get these done well before the RCYC MKAL starts up! We’ll see if it gets messy when I get to the fingers!

Yarn Subscription preview, December 2015 (Yarn of the Month and Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags)

Quick peek at my yarn subscriptions for December 2015:

Yarn subscriptions December 2015

On the left is Yarn of the Month Club, on the right is Jimmy Beans’ Beanie Bags.

As with last month, Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags really wins on presentation. The bag is cute and just packed with pretty cards and offers and patterns. I think they win on sheer amount of yarn this time, too! Those circular things are pom-pom makers. This wasn’t obvious to me until I read their info page, but I’m kind of excited ’cause I was just thinking that my current system of cardboard tends to make kind of messy pompoms and that I could probably do better.

This month, Yarn of the Month Club wins on having the more luxe yarn with their theme of silk/wool blends (one’s silk/wool, one’s silk/wool/mohair). As you know if you’ve read my reviews, YOTM isn’t always so fancy, so it’s a particularly nice treat this month that it’s so different from my other samples! It’s hard to tell from the photo, but these are super soft.

Excited to try both of my subscription bags, but with the holidays and my holiday knitting, it might be a little while before I get to them! Although they are small enough to fit in my suitcase…

Yarn of the Month Club, October 2015

It’s Dec 13, which means I’m a little overdue for my October YOTM review. I did the swatches and I’ve had the pictures ready to go for a while, though, so it’s time to write!

Yarn of the Month Club, October 2015

October 2015’s yarns have a autumn colour scheme: brown and orange. The swatch descriptions this month also included the maker of the yarn, which I’d been looking up/guessing before. Hurray!

Pattern

Fall vines tablet cover. Simple and cute! The paper was so messed up that I don’t really feel like it’s worth photographing the picture, though.

Classica

Yarn of the Month Club, October 2015

Classica by Silvia
“This washable yarn is soft and shows strong stitch definition”
4.5 sts on US 8
100% Acrylic
229 yds colour: 121

Yarn of the Month Club, October 2015

This is a pleasant to work with, a workhorse acrylic yarn. Comparing with the acrylics I use for amigrumi, it’s a bit softer than Red Heart but not as soft (or splitty) as Caron super soft.

Yarn of the Month Club, October 2015

My experience with the swatch was ok as far as knitting went, but blocking had no effect on this yarn, so what you see when you knit it what you get with little flexibility. That’s ok for some applications, but as a recent convert to blocking, I have to admit I was pretty disappointed for it to have no effect.

Yarn of the Month Club, October 2015

Honestly, even though I liked the yarn, I’m not sure I’d buy it since it’s more expensive has harder care instructions than my cheap craft store yarns. That isn’t to say that it’s a bad yarn! It’s quite pleasant to use, it’s just a hard category to get a win in.

Yarn of the Month Club, October 2015

Big Hug

Yarn of the Month Club, October 2015

Big Hug by Euro Yarns
“This superwash jumbo yarn is squooshy and an easy knit”
1.25 sts/inch on US 17
50% Wool 50% Acrylic
40 yds color: 111

This yarn sample is *huge*. I took a bunch of photos trying to show how big it is, but I’m not sure I found the right comparison. The sample bag was probably more than double the size of a regular one, though!

Yarn of the Month Club, October 2015Yarn of the Month Club, October 2015

Yarn of the Month Club, October 2015Yarn of the Month Club, October 2015

This was super nice to work with: soft, fluffy, huge and quick. I actually wound up starting the swatch recommendation then ripping it out to create something I liked better, so I can tell you that it unknits pretty nicely.

Yarn of the Month Club, October 2015

My knit up sample could probably be used as a potholder, it’s so thick. I’m guessing it’s going to wind up as a heat pad for my teapot because we finally found the oven mitts and after months of having nothing but crummy potholders for taking cookies and cakes out of the oven, I kind of never want to use one again.

Yarn of the Month Club, October 2015

I’ve been busy doing gifts in fingering weight yarn since before this sample arrived, so the sheer size of it was a real treat. It has definitely rekindled my interest in working with some bigger chunky yarns!

Yarn of the Month Club, October 2015

Summary

Pleasant yarns to try, and I loved Big Hug enough that it got me excited about doing some more stuff with giant fluffy yarns!

Easy Kitty Hat

Remember my simple hat post? It’s been done for a while now. The cloud helpfully made a collage out of my selfie attempts showcasing the finished object:

Easy Kitty Hat Collage

Easy Kitty Hat Collage

What’s fun about this hat is that it’s actually just a rectangular bag that you wear on your head. the “ears” aren’t built in at all, they’re an artifact of your head filling out everything except the corners of the bag, leaving you with “ears” made out of the corners. Here is it looking flat and hanging out on a tree in my backyard:

Kitty hat in flat, rectagular mode.

I put the pattern in the last post, but here it is a bit more fleshed out.

Pattern

Link to this pattern on Ravelry in case you want to add it to your queue!

Super short version of the pattern
1. Cast on 126 stitches and join in the round
2. { k2 p2 } repeat until you have around 1″ of brim
3. knit in stockinette for another 6″
4. Divide stitches evenly on two needles, (63 stitches on each) and graft closed with kitchener stitch.

That will get you a 21″ hat assuming a gauge of 6 sts/inch in your yarn. But if you want to use different yarn or have a different sized head, read on for more detailed instructions!

Yarn: Misti Tui from Misti Alpaca. Sport weight, chains of thin alpaca.
Any yarn would do, though, just do the calculation for your head circumference.
What’s the gauge? 6 st/inch on US 7 (4.5mm)
What’s my head circumference? Around 21 inches
Calculating…
Since I didn’t want much negative ease (i.e. stretch), that meant 21 inches x 6 stitches/inch = cast on 126 stitches

Brim ribbing (1 inch/2.5 cm): Cast on 126 stitches and join for knitting in the round
{k3, p1, k1, p1} repeat 21 times (or as many times as you have inches of head circumference)
Repeat brim rows until you reach an inch or so then switch to stockinette

Main hat (6 inches/15 cm): knit in stockinette (e.g. knit all stitches in the round) until hat measures a total of 7 inches (17.5cm), including the brim.

Finishing:
Arrange on two needles with equal numbers of stitches (63 for my hat) and graft using kitchener stitch.

Notes

This can be done with any yarn, although the ears may not look as ear-like in a really bulky one. Just do the calculations for your head circumference!

If I were doing this again, I’d do a simpler brim ribbing. You can’t really tell this from a k2p2 ribbing unless you’re looking for it.

I went the knit in the round + kitchener route because I like knitting in the round and having a seamless hat. If knitting in the round or kitchener stitch is not for you, you could knit flat and sew up the sides.

If you want, you could also put a few sewed stitches in to keep the ears in place. I actually like them as they are because they’re a bit moldable for expressiveness if I want to be more sad kitty. Or I can tuck them in so they don’t lay weirdly under my bike helmet.

Kitty Hat

Kitty Hat

Also, just for fun, here’s a picture of what the path down the side of my house looked like around when this hat was finished:

Maple path

We’re a bit past fall and it’s now freezing every night and thawing every day. That hat still meets my needs! I *really* love this hat: it fits in my pocket or under my bike helmet. I’ve already bought myself yarn to make a backup copy because it’s so handy that I’m afraid I’ll misplace it!

Yarn of the Month Club, September 2015

September was blue for Yarn of the Month.

Yarn of the Month Club, September 2015

The Pattern

This month’s pattern is “UTurn Scarf” which is a fun mitered knitting scarf, good for self-striping yarns. I don’t know if I’ll try it or not!

Amitola Grande

Yarn of the Month Club, September 2015

Louisa Harding Amitola Grande
“This single ply yarn is subtle and soft”
4.5 sts on US 10
80% Wool 20% Silk
273 yds Color: 516

I love single ply yarn because it can be so soft and you don’t have to worry about it untwisting or catching threads in the same way. This is soft, squishy and quick to knit up.

Yarn of the Month Club, September 2015

The standout part of it is the nice slow tonal gradient. I really love these colours and they look great knit up in the swatch too. The swatch is an odd little “knit into the stitch a few rows back and drop” stitch ribbed thing that I wasn’t too sure about when I was doing it, but it looks ok when complete and the loosened stitches go nicely with the squooshy yarn.

Front:
Yarn of the Month Club, September 2015

Back:
Yarn of the Month Club, September 2015

I can really see using this for quick knits and with the pretty colours, it’d be great for scarves. Maybe a really nice present for a beginner knitter? I can see keeping some on hand for last-minute gifts, too.

Sisa

Yarn of the Month Club, September 2015

Sisa
“Squishy, braided yarn feels oh so delicious”
5 sts/inch on US 6
60% wool 40% Alpaca
137 yds Color: 09

This is soft, dense and seems warm. I do so love alpaca! I didn’t have much trouble with the smaller threads in the braid coming loose, so it was nice to work with.

Yarn of the Month Club, September 2015, Sisa yarn

You can’t always see it because the yarn it overall so dark, but it does have some very nice heathering in there with glints of purple.

The swatch pattern is cute, if a bit hard to see because of the darkness. Really shows off that stitch definition as a texture, but the dark makes it not show up so much in photos.

Here it is front-lit:
Yarn of the Month Club, September 2015

And back-lit so you can see the holes:

Yarn of the Month Club, September 2015

This screams sweater yarn to me, since it holds up for interesting stitch patterns but is still soft against the skin. It’d probably be nice for colourwork, although it’s hard to tell without trying. I could see it making a nice hat too, but it doesn’t have nearly the thickness I want for my scarves unless it was double-knit. Still, very nice and something I wouldn’t mind using in larger quantities! Maybe this would be good for the next baby sweater I do?

Summary

Two great yarns this time! I could see buying both of these myself for specific projects, and Amitola Grande especially as a gift because of the colours. Definitely happy with my subscription for September!

Clapotis Wrap for S

I was visiting So Much Yarn in Seattle and looking for possible presents for folk with September birthdays. When I saw this beautiful rayon yarn with a thread of gold in it knit up in the store, though, I knew I had a winner for my sister.

Shawl for S

The Pattern

Clapotis on Ravelry (so you can add it to your queue and see other people’s versions)
Clapotis on Knitty (so you can actually see the pattern)

Shawl for S

I love the description of French women and their scarves, which actually kind of reminds me of my sister (although she’s best known for her hats).

French women are known for wearing scarves. Starting in September and until summer arrives, this is a most important accessory. The scarf may be striped or patterned, colorful, wrinkled and is much bigger than the scarves you probably have. Women just wrap the scarf around their neck in a “Je suis belle et ça ne demande aucun effort*” sort of way and off they go.

Since I have lived in Paris, I have realized that these ladies are on to something. I find I am much warmer wearing a scarf, even if I’m not wearing a jacket, so here is my knit version of the French scarf.

Shawl for S

This is a very popular pattern on Ravelry (over 20k projects!) and you can see there that it looks pretty different depending on the yarn.

Shawl for S

The construction of this one is a bit unusual. Can you tell that the early pictures are of the same shawl?

Shawl for S

You knit clapotis as stockinette with some twisted stitches for stability, and then drop the stitches later on and unravel. It’s kind of fun, although it feels weird to do it since normally you’re trying to avoid dropped stitches when you knit!

Shawl for S

The Yarn

Shawl for S

This particular yarn was very silky and it’s got lovely drape. Just look at it knit up!

Shawl for S

This is Blue Heron Yarns Rayon Metallic, and loved it so much that I may well buy more if I can figure out which colours I actually like. (Sadly, some of the colour ways *really* didn’t do it for me in the store, so I’m hesistent to buy more online!)

Shawl for SShawl for S

One skein made a nearly full-sized Clapotis (I had to leave off the last repeat, but honestly it was big enough!).

Shawl for S

Conclusions

While knitting stockinette is “boring” to many, I kind of like it because it means I can concentrate on other things and multitask. Plus, the yarn itself really made this a treat to make.

Shawl for S

I may have to make one of these for myself!

Shawl for S

Also, next time I ask J to take photos of me, I will skip reminding him that I want photos of the project, not the background, and I will remind him not to cut off my head. He really needs to up his portrait photography game!

Shawl for S

Camp Erin Teddy Bear Cardigan Variation

I’m not big on charity knitting because often it’s much more sensible to donate money that can be used to support more tangible aid (witness the story of the penguin sweaters). But Knitting Bee, one of my local yarn shops (there are so many in the Portland area!) was doing a drive for teddy bear sweaters at the same time that a friend of mine was trying to get rid of a bag of free wool, so I decided I’d participate!

Here’s the finished sweater on the bear who went to Camp Erin, on display in the shop:

Camp Erin Bear

About this pattern

This is a variation on Mr. Bear’s Top Down Cardigan, Hat & Scarf from Knitting Bee (Mr Bear’s Cardigan on Ravelry). I just made the modifications as I was knitting a sweater for Knitting Bee’s charity drive. The variation is nothing too fancy, but I thought I’d write it down in case I ever want to duplicate it.

Teddy Bear Sweater for Camp Erin

I’m happy to have you use this variant sweater in any way you want, but do note that the original has a line at the bottom saying it was made to support Camp Erin, not for commercial purposes, so you go according to your feelings on the matter.

Yarn

I used 4 colours, two blues, one grey and one black.
I’ll call the light blue one the edge colour or EC in the pattern below.

Teddy Bear Sweater for Camp Erin

Teddy Bear Cardigan

Cast on 58 sts in EC to begin neckband.
Row 1: (k1, p1) repeat.
Rows 2-5: continue in seed stitch

Now we’ll be begin the first stripe.
I used 3 strands of yarn, two in the edge colour and one for the stripe colour, twisting them together where the colour changes but not breaking the yarn until the stripe colour change.

Row 6 (Right side): In edge colour (K1, P1) twice (to continue neckband)
Change to stripe color, K5, place marker, K11, pm, K18, pm, K11, pm, K5
Switch back to edge colour and (K1, P1) twice.

Row 7 (wrong side): (P1, K1) twice for edge in EC then switch to stripe colour
In stripe colour, purl, slipping markers, until the last 4 stitches.
Switch back to MC for other edge then (p1, k1) twice

Row 8 (Right Side): (k1, p1) twice, then K to one stitch before marker. Increase by knitting front and back in stitches before and after each marker, knit other stitches up until last 4, (k1, p1) twice. (increase by 8 stitches)

repeat rows 7-8, changing colour every 5 rows, until you have 5 stripes.
(Work should measure around 4.5″)

Slip sleeve stitches onto holders or waste yarn. (Those are the stitches between the 1st and 2nd markers, then the ones between the 3rd and 4th markers.)

Continue to knit body as established only without increasing. I added two more stripes (~1.5″). Shorter bears probably only need one.

Switch entirely to edge colour for final edge.
k across for one row.
Last 5 rows: (K1, P1) repeat (or vice versa) for seed stitch. If you missed an increase somewhere, you may need to k2tog so that the front bands line up with the bottom seed stitches.

Bind off loosely. I use the following bind off, but any loose one would do:
k2tog, slip bound stitch back to 1st needle, repeat until all stitches are bound off then pull through the last one.

Transfer held sleeve sts to double pointed needles or magic loop. Attach yarn and knit all sts; join for knitting in the round.
I knit two more stripes at this point, but a shorter teddy probably only needs one.

Switch to edging colour and work edge in seed stitch:
k around once
then (k1, p1) around until you have 5 more rows. You’ll need to k2tog at the end of the first round to make the seed spiral around nicely.

Bind off loosely.

Weave in all ends.

Teddy Bear Sweater for Camp Erin

The Hat

Same deal with the stripes applied to the original hat pattern. (I didn’t take detailed notes, but you can probably figure it out from the pictures. If you’re trying to duplicate this and need help, please feel free to ask!)

Some more pictures

Here’s a few more snaps of the sweater, modeled by one of J’s stuffed toys:

Teddy Bear Sweater for Camp Erin
Teddy Bear Sweater for Camp Erin
Teddy Bear Sweater for Camp Erin
Teddy Bear Sweater for Camp Erin