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!

Cadfael Shawlette

I did a lot of crochet in August, mostly amigrumi for ABQ Maker Faire, but there was also this pretty little thing for myself:

Cadfael Shawl

Pattern: Cadfael Shawlette by Kat Strieby

I really loved the Rimsky-Korsakoffee-Cake Shawl that was the crochet mystery-a-long for the Rose City Yarn Crawl 2016. I’d only chosen to do that one because I met Kat at my local yarn shop, but I particularly like Kat’s crochet charts, which are exceptionally pleasant to use, and will rave about them to anyone who asks.

I don’t know if I ever posted pictures of me in that shawl here, so here’s one:

Rose City Yarn Crawl - Day 3 - Mystery Crochet-a-Long

That shawl remains one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever made, as well as a great experience to make. So when my friend M suggested that we do another of her patterns and a knit-a-long together, I took her up on it. It became an excuse to send her ridiculous photos of the shawl in progress for a while:

img_20160905_192934

The new shawl isn’t quite as striking as the coloured layers of my old one, but it’s certainly going to become a favourite piece for me to wear:

Cadfael Shawl

Yarn: Teresa Ruch Designs Tencel 5/2. I don’t know the name of the colourway (It had just come in the day I bought it and I’m not sure any name had stuck yet at the time that I bought it), but it’s a special shop colour exclusive to Black Sheep at Orenco, so you should order from them if you love it.

Cadfael Shawl

This tencel is quickly becoming my favourite thing to crochet with, especially for shawls, because it’s light and drapey and the colours come through as saturated and shiny. Since it’s a very smooth synthetic, it doesn’t stick to itself which means you can slide things around easily during blocking. It’s also quite nice for beads. I’d guess you could even string them on in advance since this yarn doesn’t felt, but I used a Bead Aid because it’s so much easier.

This shawl is a somewhat unusual shape, which becomes more striking during blocking.

Before blocking:
Cadfael Shawl (pre blocking)

During blocking:

Cadfael Shawl (during blocking)

Although to be honest, you don’t see it much the way I’ve been wearing it as a scarf lately:

Cadfael Shawl

It’s a really lovely piece and I’m glad M convinced me it was time to try this pattern!

My project on Ravelry in case you want to see more pictures or queue it up yourself.

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.

Pi day t-shirt (free silhouette cut file)

I designed this shirt for my sister as part of a belated pi day present:

Pi day shirt

This was done using my Roboknife (also known as a Silhouette Portrait Craft Cutter, but that’s way too much of a mouthful to talk about my robotic knife. Well, okay, it’s more of a scalpel, but whatever.) and two colours of heat transfer vinyl (HTV). This is surprisingly nice stuff to work with, once you get the cut settings right on your roboknife.

Here’s the pi day t-shirt .studio3 file. There’s been updates to the silhouette cutting software since this was created, but hopefully it’ll still work.

When you open it up, you should see two pieces in there, reversed because of the way HTV is applied:

View of the pi day shirt pattern in silhouette studio: on the left is digits of pi with a pi-symbol hole in the centre.  On the right is the corresponding pi symbol as a separate piece.  Both are reversed because they are intended for heat transfer vinyl, which applies backwards.

View of the pi day shirt pattern in silhouette studio: on the left is digits of pi with a pi-symbol hole in the centre. On the right is the corresponding pi symbol as a separate piece. Both are reversed because they are intended for heat transfer vinyl, which applies backwards.

I basically grabbed the first hundred digits of pi, made a nice block out of them, then used the pi symbol to cut a hole so that I wouldn’t be layering things that wouldn’t be seen in the final design. (This tutorial on layering HTV is very helpful if you don’t know what I’m talking about.) If I were going to make this design, I would use a thicker font for the background part, and one that was easier to weed. This looks lovely but it was a pain to pull out the little centres, especially those 0’s with the dots that had to be left behind!

3am math art. Really wishing I'd thought of using a stencil font for this. So much weeding.

A photo posted by Terri Oda (@drterriko) on

Plus, after all that work I’m worried that eventually the lettering will come off in the dryer. My sister says she’s been a bit afraid to wear it and decided to save it for when it would be seen by people who’d appreciate it, and I can’t blame her!

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!

Jimmy Beans Wool Beanie Bags, January 2016

Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags, January 2016

January 2016’s Beanie Bag was all about yarn construction. I got the purple version, which was really quite nice! This month’s notion was a shawl pin from Knitter’s Pride (I was so glad mine arrived intact — apparently a few got broken in transit!), there was the usual little package of wool wash from soak, a pattern coupon (I forget if I used this one or not), and of course the 4 balls of yarn.

Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags, January 2016

I just want to give a quick shout-out to January 2016’s bag: The snowflakes are so cute, and I was initially disappointed that the new zipper didn’t look as pretty until I realized that it also doesn’t seem to catch the yarn as much as the chunkier old ones. So score one for improved functional design!

Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags, January 2016

There are 4 samples. You can read about them on the Beanie Bags website for Jan 2016, but in short they were:
20 yds of Alpaca Lana D’Oro
20 yds of Highland Duo
20 yds of Cloud
20 yds of El Cielo

The last one is exactly the same, including the colour, as a sample I’d tried from YOTM, so that was amusing. I used it very differently in this project, though.

Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags, January 2016

The pattern was a simple kerchief, like a big chunk of granny square since I did the crochet version because I like crochet colour changes better. I’m not sure what I’ll use it for, but that super-soft edge is really nice. I’d never really worked on a project with 4 completely different types of yarn before. Kind of fun, and something I would totally do again.

20160115-IMG_9662.jpg

Just to do a quick compare/contrast, here’s the Beanie Bag yarns beside my Yarn of The Month yarns. The YOTM sample (on the left) has a broader variety of unusual yarns to try (a single ply with bright colours, raffia, and a gradient linen-cotton mix), while the Beanie Bag yarns although different are intended to go together. It’s kind of interesting how the strategy is different. Also, in case anyone’s curious, I weighed the yarns and the Beanie Bags samples came in a bit heavier than YOTM in January, but it’s pretty close.

Also, I had forgotten that Jimmy Beans does a 5% cashback on yarn, and that this applies to the Beanie Bags and was auto-applied to this bag because I’d gotten to the threshold of $1, so I got this bag for $9 instead of $10. It might have been fun to build up a larger discount over time and then treat myself, but this is so much more convenient and practical and I never forget to use it. Handy! Between this and the fact that YOTM has had to raise their prices a bit to $9.50 (from $9.25), the prices are even more close than ever for people who keep a continuous Beanie Bags subscription.

Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags, January 2016

Overall, I don’t think I learned as much from this Beanie Bag as I have from others, but it’s still a very nice bag! I got a usable project (although I don’t know how much I *will* use the kerchief as it’s started to become itchy as I wear it to write this… and I’m not sure which yarn I’m reacting to!), a nice shawl stick, a great bag, and a convenient travel size of wool wash.

Rose City Yarn Crawl – Mystery Crochet-a-long (Clue 3 and 4)

Crawl starts soon, and of course I’m last-minute blocking!

Here’s clue 3:

Rose City Yarn Crawl Mystery Crochet-a-long Clue 3

And the final clue, clue 4, unblocked. I actually missed the final colour change, those last points are supposed to be cake-coloured. But honestly, I’m so in love with the yellow/orange yarn that I’m kind of glad I made the mistake. Plus it looks better with the beads I wanted to use.

Rose City Yarn Crawl Mystery Crochet-a-long Clue 4

Soaking so you can see that I did actually add beads:
Rose City Yarn Crawl Mystery Crochet-a-long Clue 4

Or maybe I should call them sprinkles, given the cake theme?

Blocking:
Rose City Yarn Crawl Mystery Crochet-a-long Clue 4

Great pattern, but now I’m going to bed to get some sleep for tomorrow’s crawl!

Rose City Yarn Crawl Mystery Crochet-a-long (Clue 1 and 2)

I’d planned to just do the knit-a-long for the Rose City Yarn Crawl, but then I went out to a knitting group and saw what the pattern for the crochet-a-long looked like… Not only does it look lovely all crocheted up, but the pattern itself has the most gorgeous crochet charts I’ve ever seen. Colours to distinguish rows! Highlighting to show you where pieces should line up with rows below! Careful layouts to make everything easy to read! One of the reasons I learned to knit (besides needing something to do on the 3hr long car ride to the Very Large Array) is that there are so few good crochet patterns and learning a similar craft was the easiest way to expand the range of patterns I could do. So it would be a shame to know of such a nice pattern and not try it out!

The Yarn

Rose City Yarn Crawl - Mystery Crochet-a-Long

I’d been so good about using stash yarn for the MKAL that I decided to treat myself to something at Black Sheep for this one. These are both from Teresa Ruch, a local dyer who works with synthetic fibers and uses amazingly saturated beautiful dyes. The yellow-orange ball is Tencel, the grey is bamboo rayon. It’s a neat combo because the tencel is much shinier than the rayon, so there’s a serious contrast between my two colours. And it’s a nice excuse to try some different synthetics, since I’m always on the lookouts for allergy-friendly options.

The pattern

Here’s a teensy peek at those charts I’ve been raving about:

mcal-chart

Not only are the charts clear, well-written, and easy to follow, but the “flavour” of this pattern is cake, so it’s described in layers of cake and icing. People in the thread have been naming off cakes to go with their colours, and it’s awesome. I’m calling mine creamsicle mousse.

This pattern is named after Rimsky-Korsacoffee house, one of the local places that takes “keep Portland weird” as a personal mission. Also, it has great cake.

Clue 1

Clue one included a layer of cake and the first layer of icing:
Rose City Yarn Crawl - Mystery Crochet-a-Long Clue 1

It’s approximately kerchief-sized at this point, and a bit to fit into my photo lightbox unfolded, so I kind of need natural light to take pictures of it (my flash is somewhere in a box from the move).
Rose City Yarn Crawl - Mystery Crochet-a-Long Clue 1

Clue 2

Clue two, also included a layer of cake and layer of icing. The icing is pretty similar, but the cake is quite a different stitch pattern! At this point, it’s starting to really look like a shawl:

Rose City Yarn Crawl MCAL - Rimsky-Korsacoffee-Cake Shawl Clue 2

And a close up:
Rose City Yarn Crawl MCAL - Rimsky-Korsacoffee-Cake Shawl Clue 2 detail

This is the first larger, non-amigurumi crochet project I’ve done since I got some “ergonomic” crochet hooks, and I’ve got to say that it makes a difference. My right hand doesn’t get tired nearly as quickly. In fact, it’s usually my left that gets tired first now! If you crochet at all, I highly recommend investing in a set. It doesn’t even have a very expensive investment: They are cropping up at absurdly cheap prices on amazon and elsewhere, maybe $10-15 for a set of hooks with a case and sometimes with some stitch markers or other notions thrown in. I have a set from clover that has a significantly more expensive list price (I got it on sale) but I honestly can’t tell the difference between it and the cheaper sets. I do admit I haven’t tried crochet with the cheaper ones for any length of time, though.

The only weird thing about these hooks that they don’t match up with the sizing of the other hooks I own, so my new G hook is a bit smaller than my old one (4mm vs 4.25mm). Thankfully, it seems to be working out fine on this shawl.

Doing both the MKAL and the MCAL was probably a bit too much, since it’s meant that I haven’t even touched my January Beanie Bags or YOTM samples, let alone the February ones, but I’m really excited about the final piece taking shape, and it’s kind of neat to be doing the less-common one. The last clues came out this past Wednesday and my deadline for the shawl is when the Crawl starts in two weeks, so it’s looking like I’ll be able to finish both without much trouble!

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!

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!

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!

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!

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

A simple hat in progress

Most of my energies have gone into the new house lately, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been making things too, just that I haven’t had as much time for writing up of late. So here’s what’s currently on the needles while I start sorting through the backlog of photos and creations:

A simple hat in progress

This is from a little ball of Misti Alpaca that I picked up on the last day of my tatting class (more on that later!) as a treat. And it *is* a treat. I wish I could justify the cost and time of a sweater made out of this stuff — its light, soft, and seems pretty warm. Maybe someday.

The plan, half-executed, is to make a little tiny soft hat that can be stuffed in a jacket pocket. A thin tuque, I guess. Since it’s dark, it currently reminds me of what my sister and I called “crime hats” on Buffy (due to her penchant for putting on a tuque before doing anything vaguely criminal in a several episodes).

Pattern so far:

Yarn? Misti Tui from Misti Alpaca. Sport weight, chains of thin alpaca.
What’s the gauge? 6 st/inch on US 7 (4.5mm)
What’s my head circumference? Around 21 inches
Since I didn’t want much negative ease (i.e. stretch), that meant 21×6 = cast on 126 stitches

Brim ribbing: {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

My plan is to continue the stockinette without decreases to make slight kitty ears. We’ll see how it works out!

Definitely a right-brained brain hat

I actually did complete this hat before giving it to M for Christmas 2013, but apparently I can’t find pictures of it (or the kraken hat I made for S the same year), so instead you get this one photo of it with only one side completed:

Definitely right-brained

BTW, I chose the title for this post because of my half-finished picture. But for those of you who don’t know, the whole “right brained / left brained” thing is kind of BS and you might want to read up on it. The myth comes from some research on epileptic patients where the two halves of the brain were severed and they don’t seem to generalize to humans with normally connected brains.

From the article linked above (because I’m not looking up pubmed for a knitting post):

There is a misconception that everything to do with being analytical is confined to one side of the brain, and everything to do with being creative is confined to the opposite side, Anderson said. In fact, it is the connections among all brain regions that enable humans to engage in both creativity and analytical thinking.

“It is not the case that the left hemisphere is associated with logic or reasoning more than the right,” Anderson told LiveScience. “Also, creativity is no more processed in the right hemisphere than the left.”

Anderson’s team examined brain scans of participants ages 7 to 29 while they were resting. They looked at activity in 7,000 brain regions, and examined neural connections within and between these regions. Although they saw pockets of heavy neural traffic in certain key regions, on average, both sides of the brain were essentially equal in their neural networks and connectivity.

(tl;dr: Brains are much more versatile than pop culture might have you believe.)

So there’s your science tidbit for the day. Let’s go back to talking about knitting.

The pattern

Brain Hat (KNITTING PATTERN, not actual hat)
by Alana Noritake
($5 on Ravelry)

This is a pretty simple pattern: make a skullcap, put a lot of i-cord on it. But it’s worth buying yourself a copy of the pattern because it includes a bunch of pictures of the hat in progress and finished, as well as photos of brains and insight on how to make it look good. I definitely felt like I got my $5 worth and had a much better hat for it!

My notes

I made the brain hat for M, who’s allergic to animal fibers, so I was somewhat limited in my choices of yarn. I think I used knitpicks comfy, which is a cotton-acrylic blend that’s quite nice to work with (soft and a little more stretchy than straight cotton). This worked pretty well, to be honest, but doesn’t make for the warmest of hats. This makes it not so great as an all-winter Canada hat, but ok for warmer climates or indoor costume use.

If I did this again again, I’d probably make 50% more brain icord and take more time pinning it to be absolutely perfect. I just didn’t allot quite as much time as I should have before xmas so I was frantically making this on the plane to Ottawa and at my parents’ house before it got packaged up as a present.

Overall, though, a fun pattern and one I’d be happy to make again, given a lot more time or a knitting machine that produced icord.

February 2015 Knit-a-long: A very belated part 2

You might remember that I posted week 1 and 2 photos from this KAL, but forgot to post the other two weeks of photos and finished object photos here. I finished this back in March at the end of the KAL, so it’s a bit late!

Pattern: Fern Lace Shawlette

Fern Lace Shawlette by Michele Bernstein ($6 on Ravelry)

Michele is also known as PDXKnitterati. This is the first pattern of hers that I tried, but definitely not the last!

Week 3 photos

February 2015 KAL (Week 3))

I don’t normally block as I go like this, but the KAL had prizes for folks who posted photos every week (I even won one early on!), so I wanted them to be beautiful. I actually sort of think I should do this “block at the end of each week” thing a bit more often, since I was forever pulling out the lightly blocked end to admire it or show it off.

February 2015 KAL (Week 3))

The teacup pincushion was made by a friend of mine, isn’t it adorable? She sells them online if you want your own! Just check out Flying Corgi Studio on Etsy.

February 2015 KAL (Week 3)

Week 4 photos

I love those beads! I wasn’t too sure if I’d like having a mix of colours like this, but I really really do.

February 2015 KAL (Week 4)

Look at this week 4 photo… it’s hard to believe I finished in time, but it went so fast once I started decreasing!

February 2015 KAL (Week 4)

Week 5 photos… with the designer!

The designer who created this absolutely lovely pattern was doing a trunk show at Twisted during the Rose City Yarn Crawl, so I scheduled our shop visits so that I’d get to meet her.

February 2015 KAL (Week 5)

She’s a super talented designer, and I highly recommend you check out her other patterns on Ravelry. Her patterns are really well-described, she always has great photos, and good tech editing. And of course, they’re utterly beautiful! She had a few on sale earlier in the year and I bought a few and picked up yarn during the yarn crawl to make them, so expect to see a few more of her designs featured here!

February 2015 KAL (Week 5)

Also, I’ve got to say that I think her knit-a-longs are really fun and well-run. She’s got a great crew of people who participate and I found it super motivational to see everyone’s photos and comments. Plus she keeps the momentum up with weekly prizes and always has good advice if you need it, including for ways to modify and adapt a pattern to suit you better. I haven’t done a lot of knit-a-longs so I can’t really compare, but I can definitely recommend joining one of hers.

Finished Object!

February 2015 KAL (Week 5)

I am so pleased with myself for finishing! I’m not a fast knitter, so I was worried I’d never keep up with the KAL.

February 2015 KAL (Week 5)

And finally, a wingspan shot:

February 2015 KAL (Week 5)

Thanks to my friend M (the same friend who made the teacup pincushion!) for taking the photos with me in them! She’s the best friend: she flew all the way from Ottawa to come to the yarn crawl with me.

Conclusion

Great pattern, great KAL, and I love my finished shawllette. I wasn’t too sure how much I’d wear it, but it turns out that the weather (and sometimes the excessive air conditioning) is surprisingly conducive to shawl-wearing. I got a shawl pin to go with it so I can wrap it around my shoulders and not think about it, so it’s just like having a slightly lighter cardigan.

I think I’ll be making some more shawlettes in the future now that I know how much I like them!

Small Starry Sweater / Baby Astronomy Sweater

My friends are having their 2nd child, and since I actually kind of love making baby sweaters (so small! so cute!) I decided to prepare something to welcome her into the world.

Baby Astronomy Sweater

The Yarn

This sweater is actually the first thing I’ve made from my Rose City Yarn Crawl haul. The yarn crawl is a whirlwind weekend++ of yarn shopping. This year (2015) there were 15 shops in the Portland area participating. Believe it or not, that’s not even all the yarn shops in this area! I convinced a friend of mine to come out to Oregon for a visit just to do the crawl and have an excuse to see parts of the area I hadn’t visited yet.

I went a little overboard with the buying, since you got a free pattern (sometimes two!) in each store with purchase. But they had so many neat special “trunk shows” on and so many lovely yarns I’d never tried before, so I kind of bought a year’s worth of fun new experiences for myself, and I don’t regret that at all. Can you spot the yarn I used in the photo of my whole Rose City Yarn haul?

Rose City Yarn Haul

The yarn is Cascade Sunseeker, a 47% cotton/48% acrylic/5% metallic yarn blend. Colourway is “Nautical Blue” (22). The blend is a bit less stiff than many cottons, and less scratchy than many sparkly yarns. It’s not the softest thing I’ve ever worked with, but it’s got a nice balance of feel, look, and easy-care. And strangely, although Cascade is a very popular yarn mill, and I’ve made at least one pattern from their popular books, I think this may be the first thing I’ve made with their yarn! (but not the last: I even have another project completed from another blend of theirs, but it’s a christmas present so you won’t be seeing it for a while!)

I knew at the time of the crawl that I’d be making a baby sweater, but I hadn’t decided what it was going to look like exactly, despite having queued up a bunch of patterns so I’d have some idea of what yarn requirements I had for each. But when I saw the blue sparkly cotton yarn, I knew I wanted to try it for the baby sweater. Starry sweater!

Starry Sweater Sleeve

(I might just love stars. Hey, that second photo was taken on a trip with dad K!)

The dad of the incoming baby once said he’d like me to be a force for science in his kids’ lives. I don’t get to see the family much since I don’t live in the same country any more, but I try to think about that when I prepare gifts for his family. This has been awesome because it gives me an excuse to look at science toys everywhere and claim it’s research for the kids. (Most recently at the big Maker Faire in San Mateo!) My gifts haven’t been all that science-oriented yet since even the eldest is a bit young for some of the building toys that I’d like to get her. But that blue yarn said space, and astronomy is science, so thus the sweater was born!

The Pattern: Offest Wraplan

Offest Wraplan pattern link on ravelry

This pattern has a big warning saying it’s not tech edited, but lots of people have figured it out and I didn’t have too much trouble with it. I do remember there being something a bit weird about the way they handled the ribbing: I think the pattern was done where the ribbing is written with the right side flipping, so in one section you’re purling where you knit in another section, and it seems confusing or wrong until you sit down and work it through.

I made some changes to do a more mistake-rib style ribbing on it in the end, because I liked the way it looked in that yarn in my test swatch. That change was a bit annoying to translate because of the way the pattern reverses things so I had to flip where my twisted stitches were, but I figured it out.

The one thing I should say is that you should pay attention to the number of stitches you pick up for the front panel. When I picked up every one, I got this:

Slightly lopsided starry sweater

So I had to rip that back and try again, skipping a few stitches when I picked up to make it straight.

The details: Buttons!

I had originally planned for there to be a big star on the side of this sweater and then regular buttons, but when I saw the star buttons in the store I changed my plans:

Baby Astronomy Sweater

How cute are those?

I do feel a teensy bit guilty, though, as they’re a bit annoying to use in conjunction with the ribbing I chose. If I’d planned in advance, I could have chosen an edging that was smoother. But they’re so cute, and even after I realized the flaw I figured the cuteness was worth it. At least my friend’s a photographer and he’ll likely get a chance to admire the cuteness in family photos long after the experience of actually using the buttons has faded? (Dear K – I will not be offended if you use this as a pullover after trying to use the buttons once, and I’m sorry I sacrificed function for form. But they’re so cute!)

The details: Appliqué

But now I had a problem. If I put a shooting star on the side as I’d originally intended, would it be just too repetitive? Would I have to futz over making the star exactly match the buttons or it would drive me crazy?

I could have just left it as an offset sweater without appliqué, but that’s such a big space on the side there…

Baby Astronomy Sweater

I’m not the one who hit on the solution. I think it was either my friend M or my sister when we were on Teamspeak playing diablo/knitting/gossiping who suggested the crescent moon:

Baby Astronomy Sweater

And that’s at the point where it went from “Small Starry Sweater” to “Baby Astronomy Sweater.”

I was reminded that it’s a bit annoying to sew something perfectly smoothly onto unfelted knitting because the stitches provide texture that doesn’t line up with your appliqué, but I decided to go for “look handmade” with chunky embroidery stitches. It’s baby clothes, so it’s bound to get messed up anyhow! I do hope this one get re-purposed to doll clothing or something, though, it’s so cute and it’s a shame that at that size, it may only get worn once or twice before it’s outgrown. Ah well, that’s the risks of making baby clothes!

The details: fait avec amour

I’ve never really added clothing labels to the things I make, but I saw these cute “fait avec amour” labels on Knitpicks and thought they were too cute to pass up. I always am pleased when I see French down in the US at all, and the baby this is for has lots of francophones in her family tree!

And while I was at it, I figured I might as well add a washing instruction label. Never hurts to be sure of how you should care for a handknitted piece, although knowing her dad it was bound to be machine washed and dried no matter what!

Baby Astronomy Sweater

Conclusions

Yarn

The sparkles in this are absolutely amazing in person, and the yarn was easy to work with. I love how it holds crisp corners, so I think it was a good fit for this pattern even though there exist softer cottons I could have tried.

Pattern

Despite the dire warnings about tech editing, it’s not bad. Not entirely beginner-friendly, in my opinion, but fine if you don’t mind thinking your way through it and have enough experience reading patterns to do so. I love the shape of the final project with the wide neckline, and I liked the way it left space for my own themeing. You could make hundreds of these and not feel like any of them were really the same.

Overall

When I gave this to the family, big sis was kind of upset that this sweater wasn’t for her. (I wonder if I could scale up this sweater to her size and do it in some other pretty yarn…) It may be just the grabbiness of a (then) almost-two year old, but I take it to mean that the baby astronomy sweater is an object of desire. That’s good, right?

Whims of almost-two-year-olds aside, I liked this and will almost certainly make this pattern again!

Summer Sweater for S (Bell-sleeved version of The Cherry Variations)

One of my personal goals for 2015 was to try knitting an adult-sized sweater. And I’m happy to say that I’ve managed it, although I admit I cheated a bit in making it for my sister rather than for myself, as she’s a few sizes smaller than I am.

S's Cotton Sweater

[Summer Sweater for S on Ravelry]

The Yarn

The yarn is KnitPicks Billow, which I picked up because my sister prefers things without animal fibers so that they won’t be bad for her boyfriend, who is allergic. It’s soft yarn and lovely feeling, but it’s a bit weird to work with because it has variable thickness. After a few test swatches, I decided it would be nicest in a simple stockinette that showcased the homespun feel of the yarn, since the other things I tried seemed to be fighting it.

The pattern

This is based off The Cherry Variations [ravelry link], a most excellent free pattern from Knitty’s Spring 2003 edition. (I didn’t even know how to knit back then!)

However, if you go look at that pattern, you’ll notice mine’s a fair bit different from the original…

Untitled

So what happened?

1. Stripes. These are simple, 8 rows wide, 3 colours.

2. I decided to add some sleeves. I actually didn’t plan to do this, but when it got done the sleeveless version I decided it would be nicer with some sleeves. So I picked up stitches around the arm opening and did them seamless-style. I think there were 35 stitches the way I picked ’em up. I knit the sleeves straight at the top, with stripes to match the body. (My stripes are 8 rows wide.)

When I got down to a bit before wrist length, I decided belled sleeves would be hilarious in this yarn because of the way it drapes. To do this, I divided the stitches into 3 (it wasn’t quite even but close), placed markers (since I was using 2 circulars at this point) and increased at the stitch markers every 3rd row, approximately, for the last two stripes (so last 16 rows).

I cast off using some ludicrously stretchy bind-off from this page comparing bind-off methods. I think it was Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off.

S's Cotton Sweater

3. The thing you might not notice immediately is that I decided to add a crochet border along the neckline. I found that the sweater as was tended to be a little too off-the-shoulder on me, and since my sister has much less wide shoulders, I figured that would be annoying and would eventually stretch it out to the point of uselessness. So I looked up stabilizing methods online and settled on a simple single crochet.

S's Cotton Sweater

I didn’t think to take a picture of myself wearing it, so no modeled shot. It would have just looked ill-fitted anyhow, as the shaping around the bust line was made with my sister’s approximate measurements in mind, so it was quite tight on my rib cage, let alone my bust.

I don’t know how much she likes it, but it does fit, at least!

20150323-IMG_7200.jpg

I kind of fell in love with the yarn as I was knitting it, and I like the pattern enough that I’m strongly considering making one for myself, even though it’s cotton and not exactly the most suitable for the Pacific Northwest’s soggy weather!

February 2015 Knit-a-long: week 1 and 2

A local designer (PDXKnitterati) started advertising her February Knit-a-long (KAL) and I thought I’d give it a try. It’s an excuse to try out one of her lovely patterns, to take more pictures for sharing (I definitely need more practice photographing my knitting projects to best effect) and there are even prizes, which is fun. This one came at just the right time for me, since those rainbow socks (see previous post) had been almost ready to come off the needles and I needed a push to get them done.

I’ve never tried a KAL before, although I guess I did have a mutual “create as many crocheted angry birds as possible before PAX East” pact with my friend M one year, which I guess is sort of similar, maybe?

Feb 1st, I gathered up my ingredients… The pattern I’m using comes out of the Knitpicks “under 100” (as in under 100g of yarn).

February 2015 KAL prep

The yarn is Knitpicks Gloss fingerling in the Kennai colourway. (Two 50g hanks, you see?)

February 2015 KAL prep

I had 3 bead options, all of which I liked. At a suggestion, I tried a swatch with them all to see which ones worked best for me:

February 2015 KAL

The silver and gold were clearly better than the blue/greens (which barely showed up) but what really decided me was thinking of ferns and what the fruiting bodies look like:

Fern fruiting bodies (pairs of them running along the underside of the frond) from  A Digital Flora of Newfoundland and Labrador Vascular Plants

Fern fruiting bodies (pairs of them running along the underside of the frond) from A Digital Flora
of Newfoundland and Labrador
Vascular Plants

The pattern beads are designed to go in the center, but I liked the idea of brown to remind me of real ferns anyhow. Perhaps someday I’ll work on some fern lace with pairs of beads, though!

Here’s what it looks like in the shawl:
February 2015 KAL

After a few false starts and times where I had to rip back to where I went wrong, I finally made it through a few repeats of the pattern. Here’s how far I was near the end of the first week:

February 2015 KAL

I guess I must have been tired since I blocked it upside-down. Thankfully, that doesn’t matter!

Now that we’re at the end of week 2, I’ve gotten much further! Here’s one to show the current length.
February 2015 KAL (Week 2)

I was actually the lucky recipient of the week 1 prize, which was a pair of bead aids. This has made it way easier to put on the beads, as previously I was using a teensy crochet hook that didn’t quite grab all the yarn, so sometimes it would take me 2 (or more!) tries to get the bead on. The bead aids are much easier to get right, so that’s helped a lot. Here’s a wingpsan-y view to show the beads and the detail of that blocked tip while it’s rightside up!

February 2015 KAL (Week 2)

And finally, here’s a photo with real live ferns!
February 2015 KAL (Week 2)

Those last photos were taken along the Columbia River Gorge, since we have an out-of-town friend visiting and since she’s a photographer and it’s been a gorgeous weekend, we’ve been trying to hit some prime photo spots. So to round this out, here’s a picture of the famous Multnomah Falls:

Multnomah Falls

It’s a bit of a unusual photo because the falls are usually photographed vertically to show off how tall they are. I was showing off my new very wide lens to my boyfriend, which is why I took this one, but I kind of like it because it’s not a shot you see that much! (Sadly, I didn’t get it perfectly horizontal, so clearly I’ll have to try this again another day…)

Want more KAL photos? I have an album for them which has a few that I didn’t put here. More waterfalls will probably show up in my flickr photostream shortly as I process the weekend’s photos.

Rainbow Socks

When I started knitting, I promised myself I wouldn’t bother making socks. It’s just too much work for something that wears right out, I told myself. But gradually, I’ve started to notice that sock patterns have a lot of technique in them that I wanted to learn, and they’re much smaller and more manageable than a sweater.

So here’s my first adult-sized socks:

Rainbow Socks

The pattern is “ballet socks” from Melissa Morgan-Oakes’ book “Toe-Up 2-at-a-Time Socks” (yes, I bought a sock book in a sale). I wanted to get some more complex cable practice, learn how to turn a heel, and make use of the lovely chroma yarn.

Rainbow Sock

It was slow to start and I kind of put these away in September when I started a big Christmas project (which I’ll show when I organize the photos!)

But I’m almost done. I was going to cast off a bit back, but the colour lengths aren’t *exactly* identical in the two balls of yarn and I knew it would drive me nuts if one side hit the green and the other hadn’t, so I’m doing another repeat so they’ll both be in green.

Rainbow Socks

The plan is to finish them tonight so I can start the next project today. But it’ll be dark by the time I finish, so you get pictures now. 🙂

The WTF necklace

This one barely counts as a maker-y thing, in that all I really did was string some letters onto a faux-leather strap, but I think it’s hilarious and needed to be shared:

Necklace with the letters WTF on it.

WTF Necklace

Actually, this was much harder than it should have been. The necklace strap came pre-assembled and had to be disassembled so I could thread the letters on, which normally wouldn’t be too hard but I can’t find the relevant jewelry pliers so I wound up using these round ones which were totally unsuited. And then once I got it off, it turns out the darned letters have holes that aren’t quite big enough to easily thread the pleather through (or equally, the pleather was a bit too sticky for the length of threading required), so then I had to MacGyver this threading implement with a piece of wire that had been originally used to hold the bead in the package. My original plan of wrapping the wire around the pleather didn’t work because the wire was too thick, and then I wound up accidentally stripping half the wire inside the bead when I tried, and finally I had to find a needle and poke a hole in the end of the pleather and convince the wire to get into this much smaller hole so that I could hook it around and finally get the darned beads on the strap.

So, um, yeah. Totally easy, of course!

I can’t really take credit for the idea exactly: I saw a gal at defcon with a beautiful monogrammed purse that said WTF all classy-like (in as much as one can) and then beads were on sale when I went in to get stuff at the craft store and I was going to get my initials (which are funny enough in and of themselves) but then I decided I needed this too, because I am such a classy individual.

The instagram-clone filters prove it:

Necklace with the letters WTF on it.

WTF Necklace

The thing that bugs me about this is that the holes in the beads aren’t exactly at the same height, so my necklace has a kerning problem. Can you see it? I really can, but I suppose I don’t actually have to look at my own necklace all day, and everyone at work is much too polite to stare randomly at someone else’s chest, so I figure it’s only the font geeks who’ll catch it.

Three generations of women, one hat

Here’s a project that’s been sitting in my queue of things-to-post for a while!

Cabled Hat

This is a hat I made for my grandmother. It was a post-Christmas present, a project that I brought up so I’d have something to do over the holidays.

Pattern

The pattern is the Cup of Tea Cabled Touque by Jessica Dekker. It’s a pretty neat little pattern with a bunch of different types of cables. You can see the cables in slightly more detail here:

Cable Knit Hat

Incidentally, SLR selfies are silly, as you can see.

I adjusted the pattern to add a crocheted faux-fur edging, in part because I thought it would look cute, and in part because I’d made my grandmother a scarf with the same yarn and thought they’d make a pretty matching set that way. I believe my pattern for that went something like this:

0: Take finished hat brim and fluffy eyelash yarn, sc around picking up stitches as you go.
1: triple-crochet around to make something very fluffy.
2: wrap the crocheted brim up on the front of the hat, and single crochet around pausing every few stichtes to crochet through the hat so that the brim will stay up.

Cable Knit Hat and with fluffy crochet edging

More Photos

So you’ve seen me wearing the hat… what about the other two generations of women?

Here’s my mom, who graciously agreed to pose since I wasn’t sure I’d be able to convince my grandmother to do so:
Cable Knit Hat and with fluffy crochet edging

And my grandmother, who was kind enough to pose with the hat and scarf:
Cable Knit Hat and Scarf

She loves the colour purple, and it certainly complements her nicely! I kind of wish I’d inherited or learned her apparently innate sense of colour and style; she often finds these beautiful jewel-toned jackets and things that are amazing.

And here’s one more photo:
Cable Knit Hat and Scarf

I’m not great with flash photography, but I like how the flash picked up the shininess of the scarf!

While I may not have my grandmother’s sense of style, one thing we do have in common is a penchant for altering existing patterns and creating new ones. She used to make so many stuffed animals for me, including ones based on characters in shows that I loved as a kid (Muffy the mouse!). I grew up wearing winter tuques and scarves she crocheted for us grandkids every winter to match the snowsuit we fit into that year, so it’s been fun to return the favour with knitted gifts myself!