Yarn of the Month Club review, April 2015

This is my third yarn of the month club envelope, which is significant because I only paid for 3 months up-front and promised myself I’d make a decision thereafter. Only two samples once again, but I liked them!

The samples for April 2015:
Yarn of the Month Club, April 2015

Pattern: Spring Showers Hood

Yarn of the Month Club, April 2015

This is a cute little pattern that I’m tempted to make just to see if I’d use it. I’m not much for cowls, but I like hats, so maybe? No author given, no reference to it in ravelry, so I guess it’s just a YOTM special.

Tenzing

Yarn of the Month Club, April 2015

Tenzing
“This is a great blend. The merino gives it bounce and the yak adds just a little haze.”
6.25 sts/inch on US 3-4
85% Merino Wool 15% Yak
153 yds Color: 13

I love this yarn. Soft but shows off the stitch pattern nicely. I’ve definitely pet yak-blend yarns before, since J has a particular fondness for Blue Moon Fiber Arts’ YAKSI Fingering in Tardis Blue, but I hadn’t knit anything with yak in it myself. This was definitely a treat!

Look at it, even before it was blocked:
Yarn of the Month Club, April 2015Yarn of the Month Club, April 2015

I liked this stitch motif for the swatch, which makes a nice zigzaggy cable across the top of each rib. It’s nice and stretchy, but a little more solid than a regular rib because of the teensy zig-zag cables. I may have to find a way to use this in a pattern!

And here it is blocked:
Yarn of the Month Club, April 2015
Yarn of the Month Club, April 2015

I wouldn’t mind picking up some more of this, and I’m definitely interested in trying some more yak blends now, even if they are pricey!

Azalea

Yarn of the Month Club, April 2015

Azalea
“Soft and strong cotton”
5.5 sts/inch on US 6
100% Printed Cotton
262 yds Color: 207 Monet

This is a really nice soft cotton. Not fuzzy the way the yak yarn is, but easy to bend and knit. It tends to unwind a bit; the loose twist that helps with the softness doesn’t do you favours in the “staying together” department, but I think the balance in that tradeoff was ok.

What I don’t like about this yarn is the way the colourway looks when it’s knit up. It looks ok in the ball. Interesting, at least. But put it together into a stitch pattern and it seriously makes this look like a grimy paint rag:

Yarn of the Month Club, April 2015
Yarn of the Month Club, April 2015

I’m not a huge fan of the “bluebell rib” swatch pattern provided, as it once again looks like a bunch of nostrils to me, and I think I probably should have flipped my yarn overs so that both holes worked out to be the same size, but I decided to just run with it rather than re-knit.

I don’t think this colourway does any favours the bluebell rib, unless you figure providing camouflage so you can’t see stacks of noses in photo is good. It’s a bit easier to see the shapes in person than in the blocked photos below, but it’s still not great.

Yarn of the Month Club, April 2015
Yarn of the Month Club, April 2015

I think I actually like the reverse side better in this case! But I did enjoy the yarn even if I think the colourway is too much and the stitch pattern is too nasal. I would consider buying this in another colour if I had a project that could use a soft cotton.

Conclusion

Even though there were only two samples this month, these two were both really fun yarns to try out and they weren’t very much like other yarns I already have, so I’m pretty pleased! I definitely feel like I got more bang for my buck than last month.

So in the end, I’ve decided to continue the subscription. It’s $9.25/month for a fun little surprise in the mail, and I’m not having trouble making sure I knit the samples every month at least so far. I was worried these might pile up with all the travel I do, but in practice I really like having quick knit projects when I want a break from my bigger works in progress, or as a palette cleanser while I decide what to work on next. It’s actually kind of changed my attitude towards swatching, too, since I can just add my other swatches into the pile I’m building up from yarn of the month samples.

All my samples are going to make one *very* strange blanket, though.

Yarn of the Month Club, April 2015

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!

Yarn of the Month Club review, March 2015

Well, no one’s come after me for spilling the secrets of the Yarn of the Month Club, so I guess it’s time to post another review. This is for March, so I guess I’m not surprised that there’s some green yarn.

Here’s the two samples:

Yarn of the Month Club, March 2015

With this came a Beanie Cap pattern and instructions for two squares using the yarn.

Pattern: Beanie Cap

No author given for this, probably because it’s too simple to claim ownership of it. It’s a basic toque with a k2p2 ribbed edge and stockinette body, a nice staple to have in one’s collection but probably not something I’ll be knitting up immediately.

Here’s the yarn in their baggies, so you have the names:

Yarn of the Month Club, March 2015

Let’s talk about the white one first…

Moments

Yarn of the Month Club, March 2015

Moments
“Fun and funky fur”
7 sts/in on US 5
100% Polyester
98 yds Color 471 or 470

This is a pretty typical fur/eyelash yarn. I’ve done enough variants of fluffy yarn that I’m pretty comfortable with it, and it was nice that this wasn’t of the sort that sheds. I’d be kind of disappointed in getting this since it wasn’t exactly a new fiber experience for me, but I did learn something due to the swatch pattern:

Yarn of the Month Club, March 2015

The swatch has every 4th row as a sl1 p3 pattern, and it *really* tightens up the piece (which is otherwise garter stitch). That’s a good technique to know if I ever do a scarf out of an eyelash yarn again!

The swatch pattern leaves faint lines across the piece. I couldn’t seem to get them to show up in my photos, since the light characteristics of the yarn mean I’d have had to be more selective about my lighting, but you can feel them under the fuzz and I kind of like the effect.

Rübezahl

Yarn of the Month Club, March 2015

Rübezahl
“Soft and superwash – a workhorse of a yarn”
4.25 sts/inch on US 7
20% Wool and 80% Acrylic
447 yds Color 57 or 73

This is a wool/acrylic blend that didn’t really work for me. It’s got too much acrylic to block very well, and the “leaf” pattern of the swatch suffers for it, although it does result in the back looking especially like nostrils to me:

Yarn of the Month Club, March 2015

(Sorry about the excessively small depth of field; I forgot to switch camera settings)

Frankly, I think it does better as a nostril pattern than it does as a leaf, with them all running together like that, but it’s an old standard, I guess.

Pattern aside, I’m not sure what niche the Rübezahl yarn fills: it’s got too much wool to be useful for folks who can’t handle animal fibers, and too much acrylic for you to experience the greater flexibility in a wool fiber. I guess at least it has nice stitch definition, and it seems like it might be warm and hard-wearing for stuff like slippers?

I am, however, very pleased that I remembered how to do an umlaut on my mac, so there’s that. 😉

Yarn of the Month Club, March 2015

Here’s the finished piece being held down by pins for blocking, but frankly it rebounded back to look almost like it did unblocked.

Yarn of the Month Club, March 2015

And here’s both of them so you can see it unblocked:
Yarn of the Month Club, March 2015

You can also see there that the white swatch is really not square. Oh well, it’s going to be hilarious when I put these squares together in a blanket because of the density, so why not the shape as well?

Conclusion

I’m not going to lie, with only two samples and one of them pretty meh, I’m not very impressed with this month’s offerings. But I still enjoyed knitting up the samples for the purpose of trying new stitch patterns, and I learned a useful thing about making eyelash yarn knit up more densely, something that I think will be useful for scarves and hats in the future.

If this had been my first sample, I’d probably be on the verge of giving up, but since I enjoyed the first one, I’m willing to be optimistic. I only bought a 3-month subscription, so after next month I’ll have to decide if I want to renew!

Yarn of the Month Club review, February 2015

This month, I joined a yarn subscription club that No One Talks About on the Internet. So of course, I’m going to talk about it on the internet. I hope I’m not breaking some unspoken rule by telling you about it. Oh heck, who am I kidding? I’ll probably be pleased if I broke some rule. Knowledge for all!

Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015

First, though, let’s back up to how I wound up joining this club. I’ve been intrigued for a while by the idea of yarn subscriptions.

On the plus side:
+ Surprise yarn!
+ Trying new things!
+ Learning about new dyers and mills and whatever!
+ Getting some patterns to inspire me!
+ And having enough yarn to complete the projects!

But on the down side:
– Most of the boxes are moderately expensive. Around $40/month is pretty normal, and you can pay much more.
– … so if you hate what you get, you’re going feel like you’ve wasted a lot of money
– I don’t think I actually use 2+ skeins of yarn every month, so it’s going to start to pile up

Some pricing:
Knitcrate has 6 subscription types, ranging from $22.50 for 5 minis/month to $65/month for indie yarns. Likely subscription for me would have been $55 for an intermediate/advanced box.
Yarnbox: $35.95/month, more for the luxe version (presumably)
There are lots of others, but those were the two that came up the most.

In the course of doing some research about options, I encountered Yarn of the Month, which sends out little teensy yarn samples instead of full skeins. Because it’s only a taste of yarn rather than a full meal, it rings in as a $9.25/month subscription (less if you get a few months at once). That hits that sweet spot on subscription boxes for me, where it’s easy to write off a bad month and won’t result in rapidly growing pile of stuff in my life. I’d miss out on some of the advantages, in exchange I’d basically wipe out all the disadvantages I listed, and instead miss out on extras that fancier boxes throw in. (That’s actually kind of a shame because I haven’t been knitting long enough to acquire a lot of the small tools that show up as extras!)

What finally pushed me to the decision brink was the assertion that you’d be able to do little 5 inch swatches from your teeny yarn balls, and put them together to have a blanket at the end of the year. So it wouldn’t even be a pile of craft clutter when I was done admiring them, and I’d be motivated to actually *use* the yarn. Awesome!

The problem is, I couldn’t find pictures of the yarn, the swatches, or even many people talking about this club. It was a giant social media void. I could find pictures for yarnbox, pictures for knitcrate, pictures for random yarn of the month clubs on etsy… but only a few forum stale threads for Yarn of the Month.

What to do? I contemplated for a bit, then figured I could afford to try it out and see what happened. But in the interest of helping others, I was darned well going to post some pictures when (if?) I actually got a shipment!

So here’s a review. Hopefully the lack of posts about the yarn is a lack of social media marketing rather than a sign that I have paid money into some sort of mysterious yarn cult that will be upset at this breach of unspoken social etiquette.

First, let me show you the yarn again on a different background to give you a sense of colour:
Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015

I guess February was kind of red themed for valentine’s day.

Not pictured: the February Socks pattern from Birgitte Zeuner and instructions for 3 square swatches. Frankly, they’re printed on thin US letter paper and just not that attractive as a photography subject after being mooshed through the mail. Totally legible, but I might have invested in stiffer paper if I were running YOTM.

February Socks by Birgitte Zeuner

The February Socks pattern looks cute enough. I would have liked better pictures, but obviously I can find them on Ravelry so that works out.

Unfortunately, having just finished my first pair of adult socks, I’m not actually that excited about starting another one, so I think this is getting shelved indefinitely. I’m going to have to find a binder I can put these in! Maybe I’ll find a friend who’s super excited about this and I can pass it on, though.

Angora Lace

Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015

Angora Lace
“Luxurious with a delicate bloom”
6.5 sts/inch on US 2
50% Merino Superwash 20% Angora 30% Nylon
462 yds Color: 102

This is soft and lovely in the ball as one would expect for Angora, and quite pleasant to knit with. It’s not fluffy and doesn’t seem to shed (ask me about my experience knitting pure angora bunny fur sometime) but instead just results in beautifully soft yarn. It’s tightly wound enough that it doesn’t split on those little size 2 needles, and it held up to some unknitting as I tried to end my swatch as close to the end of the ball as possible and mis-calculated.

Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015

It’s not the easiest thing to photograph since it is subtly fluffy and catches the light a lot, but that’s only annoying for the purposes of this post and not in general. (Actually, I’d totally be into anti-photography yarn… I should work on that with some retroreflective stuff.)

The swatch pattern provided uses double-wrapped knitting stitches, a technique I hadn’t tried but a video tutorial wasn’t too hard to find. I actually usually prefer non-video tutorials, but this one is short and clear. You put the needle through as if to knit then wrap the yarn twice instead of once around and knit those, leaving two loops on. then when you come across it in the next few rows, you don’t bother trying to keep those doubled but instead slip stitch through them, leaving you with one longer stitch floating over the fabric.

Here’s one regular vs one weirdly processed photo to show you the floating stitches:
Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015

The finished piece is super soft and pretty light. I suspect it’d be pretty warm, but it’s hard to tell with just a swatch!

Saki Bamboo

Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015

Saki Bamboo
“Soft and yummy with great stitch definition”
7 sts/inch on US 0
50% Merino Superwash 25% Nylon 25% Rayon from Bamboo
230 yds Color: 203

This one feels great in the ball, all silky smooth, but I found it actually a bit odd to work with. While I’m knitting it, it has that sort of squeaky/roughish feel that I associate with some acrylics, even though the finished piece feels nice.

I was so pleased when I figured out the swatch pattern:
Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015

I’m thinking that I might see if I can incorporate this into the hem of a baby sweater in the near future. I’m not sure I’d buy this yarn, though. It wasn’t hard to work with and it does as promised have great stitch definition, but with so many yarns in the world “feels a little weird to knit” is enough to drop it off my personal to-buy list. I’ve never knit with bamboo before so I don’t know if that’s a function of the fiber or if I just didn’t love this particular blend, but I suspect the latter so maybe I’ll try some other bamboo blends out.

Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015

And finally here is is, blocking on my chair, so you can see the repeats better:

Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015

The finished, blocked piece is smooth and very light, so it might be a great for summer knits. To be honest, I like the stitch pattern best when it’s a single row, but the swatch was still fun to do!

Saki Silk

Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015

Saki Silk
“Beautiful, subtle sheen and drape”
7 sts/inch on US 2
55% Fine Merino 25% Nylon 20% Silk
440 yds Color: 305

Silk blend yarn is one of my favourite treats for myself. I’m not sure that the stitch pattern really showed off the drape at all, though:

Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015

It’s kind of a bumpy rib pattern with twisted stitches. It’s quite dense and doesn’t drape at all! What’s neat about this pattern is that it’s very reversible and feels completely different on both sides.

The bumpy rib side:
Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015

Much smoother back:
Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015

The smooth side is where this yarn really appeals, since it’s got that little bit of silky slippery-ness.

I would strongly consider using this to replace ribbing on worn items like sweaters and mitts, since I like the look of the one side and the feel of the other.

The one thing that this pattern does show off is the yarn’s stitch definition:

Yarn of the Month Club, February 2015

Overall, I liked working with this yarn a fair bit: it’s soft, easy to work with, doesn’t snag too much, and the results are reasonably striking. I do wish I had a way to see if I actually like the drape, but I enjoyed the swatch pattern so much that it’s hard to really mind.


So in conclusion…

Do I still want a fancier, more expensive, larger yarn subscription?

Heck yeah, they sound lovely. But while I can afford more, this seems like a good balance of price and quantity for me. I think I’ll aim to spend money in my local yarn stores (there are so many here!) rather than risking it on a larger subscription at the moment.

Am I happy with this month’s box?

Heck yeah! I *loved* making the swatches. I’d never done any of those stitch patterns before, and I’m glad to add to my repertoire. And I’m glad to have tried all the yarns, although I’m not sure I’d run out and buy more of any of them unless I had a specific project in mind. But I really like having samples of them all so I can tell if they *would* fit a given project.

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.

Making my own yarn swift

A yarn swift is something that holds a hank of yarn so you can wind it into a ball or skein. Here’s a useful link on the typical ways to package yarn, in case you’re not familiar.

Yarn swift

When I was mostly buying relatively inexpensive yarn at the craft store for amigurumi, I’d get it in skein form and be ready to go. Which is awesome! But those ultra-washable bright coloured acrylics that I enjoy for crochet don’t work as well for some of the fancier knitting patterns and colour work I want to do now — it really helps to have some forgiving natural fiber that can be wetted and reshaped to look just so.

(Yarn snobs here might give me a hard time over the synthetic yarns, but they still have a place in my repertoire!)

So the end result is that I get a lot more yarn in “hank” form, and while I find winding balls to be pretty relaxing, I don’t love trying to wrap the yarn around my knees and keep it from getting tangled as I do it.

February 2015 KAL

Thankfully, the internet knows how to make a yarn swift. I modified this a bit, because I didn’t care as much about portability and I wanted something a bit smoother with some real ball bearings in there, so when John and I were wandering around the hardware store finding parts, he came up with the idea of using a Lazy Susan bearing.

This one was a joint effort between me and John, with him doing a lot of the heavy work and me doing more of the detailing. I feel a bit silly about this, as I’d intended to do it myself, but he’s got much steadier hands and greater strength so it’s probably safer to have him to it. He did teach me to use the router, though, which is one of the few pieces of woodworking equipment we own that I’d never used!

Routing!

But mostly I took photos and measured and turned things over to John for drilling or cutting:
Measure twice...John at the drill press

I also cleaned the garage workspace, vacuumed, and at least tried to keep him company. I also did some sanding and hand filing for things that didn’t quite match up. As you may have noticed in that earlier picture, neither of us is super precise at the routing.
Doesn't quite fitThe base

I asked John to round the ends so they wouldn’t catch on the yarn, and he did a lovely job, then I stained the whole thing up, let it dry, and reassembled it… only to find that the pegs for holding the yarn no longer fit in the holes due to expansion. Oops. A bit of drilling later, though, and we got it up and running.

Stained pieces:
Stained yarn swift piecesStained yarn swift pieces

First test with yarn!
Yarn SwiftYarn swift with wool!

You might recognize the stain as the same one I used on Puppy K-9, as this is the only stain we own.

Here’s the final product:
XOXO

I’m pretty happy with it! I wish I’d looked for a smaller bearing than the lazy Susan as I found out that it’s possible to fit a yarn tail into the bearings where it gets all slimy from the lubricant. But that’s what the store had, and it does make this a pretty solid device. And I only got the yarn tail caught once out of the 5 balls I’ve done on it so far, so it’s reasonably avoidable if you know you need to wind up the tail on a pole.

I do like how it looks so fancy all stained up. I was worried that I’d find it too bulky and be sad I hadn’t gone with the collapsible version, but I’m actually kind of tempted to try sticking it to the wall with that 3m wall hook stuff and seeing if I can use it as functional art!

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. 🙂

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!

Butterfly Baby Sweater (simplified top-down one piece cardigan for self-striping sock yarn)

Remember my post about pictures of knitting in sunlight? I think it’s about time I post a few finished photos to go with that, isn’t it?

The project was a baby sweater, again for baby V, who probably qualifies as a toddler now that she’s, well, toddling!

Pretty Purple Baby Cardigan

My pattern is based off Eyelet Baby Cardigan pattern from Looking Glass Knits.

Which was in turn based off this baby cardigan pattern from DROPS Design

I’d originally intended to just do the Eyelet Baby Cardigan pattern as written, but I thought it was too busy to have the eyelets with the self-striping yarn, and then on top of that I found the way the pattern was written had me doing too much math as I knit which broke my flow of creating. I must have knit and unknit this 3 times before I gave up and just wrote out my own pattern:

Pattern

Size: 9 months
Gauge: 8 st = 1 inch

inc – k front and back?

In my case, that was knitpicks felici and size 3 needles.

Yarn:

Main colour: One ball of knitpicks felici (sock yarn). If I’d had more, though, I would have used one-and-a-bit-more.
Edging colour: some fluffy baby yarn that I’ve long since lost the label for. It is probably sport weight, not sock yarn weight.

0: CO 84 st.
1-3: k across (garter stitch)
4: make buttonhole (k2, yo, k2tog), k to end
5-8: k across (garter stitch)
9: k4, p to last 4 stitches, then k4
(We’ll do this for all odd rows, really)
10: k, increasing by EIGHT spaced evenly [92]
eg: k4 (border), k3, inc (k10, inc) * 7, k3, k4 (border)
12: k, increasing by EIGHT spaced evenly [100]
eg: k4 (border), k4, inc (k11, inc) * 7, k3, k4 (border)
14: k, increasing by SEVEN spaced evenly [107]
eg: k4, k1, inc (k15, inc) * 6, k1, k4
** In original, pattern row was here **
(See “additional lace details” below if you want to know my embellishments)
16: k
**
18: buttonhole, increasing by SIXTEEN spaced evenly [123]
eg: (k2, yo, k2tog), k5, inc (k6, inc) * 15, k4, k4
20: k, increasing by EIGHT spaced evenly [131]
eg: k4, k1, inc, (k16, inc) * 7, k2, k4
22: k, increasing by EIGHT spaced evenly [139]
eg: k4, k2, inc, (k17, inc) * 7, k2, k4
24: k, increasing by EIGHT spaced evenly [147]
eg: k4, k3, inc (k18, inc) *7, k2 k4
26: k, increasing by EIGHT spaced evenly [155]
eg: k4, k4, inc (k19, inc) * 7, k2, k4
**
28: k
30: k
32: buttonhole (k2, yo, k2tog), k
***
34:k increasing by SIXTEEN spaced evenly [171]
eg k4, k6, inc, (k9, inc) * 15, k6, k4
36: k4, k increasing by SIXTEEN spaced evenly [187]
eg k4, k7, inc, (k10, inc) * 15, k6, k4
38: k4, k increasing by EIGHT spaced evenly [195]
eg k4, k2, inc, (k25, inc) * 7 , k2, k4
40: k4, k increasing by EIGHT spaced evenly [203]
eg k4, k3, inc, (k26, inc) * 7 , k2, k4
42: k4, k increasing by EIGHT spaced evenly [211]
eg k4, k4, inc, (k27, inc) * 7 , k2, k4
**
44: k
**
46: buttonhole, k increasing by TWENTY FOUR spaced evenly [235]
eg (k2, yo, k2tog), k10, inc, (k8, inc) * 23 , k9, k4
48: k4, k increasing by NINE spaced evenly [244]
eg k4, k1, inc, (k28, inc) * 8, k2, k4
50: k4, k increasing by NINE spaced evenly [253]
eg k4, k2, inc, (k29, inc) * 8, k2, k4

Buttonholes: continue every 14 rows (at 60, 74, 88, 102…)

Divide stitches for arms:
Row 52: k39, slip 51 st to holder, k 73 [back], slip 51 st to holder, k39.

Work body (151 st):

Work in stockinette until… well, in my case it was until I was almost out of yarn, but in theory the original pattern said 10″.

Work edging:

Swap to edging yarn. In my case, this was a white baby yarn that was actually a bit thicker than the sock yarn used for the main body.

Work feather and fan as per original pattern, repeating this three times:
Row 1: knit.
Row 2: k4, p to last 4 stitches, k4.
Row 3: k5, (yo, k1) three times, (k2tog 6 times), *(yo, k1) six times, (k2tog 6 times); rep from * until last 7 stitches, (yo, k1) three times, k4.
Row 4: knit.

Work two rows of garter stitch and bind off.

Work sleeves:

Pretty Purple Baby Cardigan: sleeve detail

Put 51 arm stitches on a needle.

Knit in stockinette until desired length is reach. I wanted short sleeves, so that was 4 rows for me. Note that this will make intentionally wide sleeves. I hear dressing babies is hard.

Swap to edging colour, and add an eyelet edging to suggest the lace of the feather and fan in the bottom:

1 (RS): k all the way across
2-3: k across
4: repeat (p2tog, yo)
5-7: k across
bind off

Additional lace details

And one final photo:
Pretty Purple Baby Cardigan

As you can see, I actually didn’t use the most basic pattern. I added in lace details in the sections marked with ** above.

In the two one-row sections (rows 18, 44), this was

repeat: (k2 tog, y0)

And in the larger section, I used the following pattern, with appropriate padding to make it line up nicely (i.e. a few extra k stitches at beginning/end).

28: repeat (k1, yo, sl1 k1 psso, k3, k2tog, yo)
30: repeat (k2, yo, sl1 k1 psso, k1, k2tog, yo, k1)
32: repeat (k3, yo, sl1, k2tog, psso, yo k2)

(purl on the odd rows as per rest of pattern).

To be honest, I wasn’t sure if the lace details were necessary on this particular self-striping yarn, but they do look cute enough.

Wrap-up

This one actually lasted for a couple of wearings, helped along no doubt by the fact that I chose colours that matched better with baby V’s existing wardrobe. (A lesson learned about trying for subversively non-pink clothes in the past… alas!) I even managed to see her wearing it when I was in town after PyCon!

I used one ball of felici because that’s what I had (I’d bought it when she was much tinier!) but I probably could have used a little bit more so it wouldn’t be so short. Even with the fluffier, larger lace edging, it was still a bit short. Not so bad since it wound up being a spring sweater, but not ideal!

Sheep Hat

Another baby gift! This one I made just because I thought the pattern was adorable:

Sheep Hat

My picture isn’t great, but…
1. Little sheep feet in the grass!
2. Adorable sheepy texture!
3. 3-D sheep head!
4. Perky sheep ears!

And my favourite:
5. Puffy little tail!

Sheep Hat

Pattern

This one came from a book called 60 Quick Baby Knits put out to show the glory of Cascade Yarns 220 Superwash. Alas, I didn’t have any on hand, so I used Caron Simply Soft. I don’t really recommend acrylic for this project since it made the stranded colourwork for the feet a bit harder to do. However, I like the yarn for amigurumi (it’s cheap, soft, washable, comes in many colours, and can withstand babies), so that’s why I have it on hand.

60 Quick Baby Knits: Blankets, Booties,…
60 Quick Baby Knits: Blankets, Booties, Sweaters & More in Cascade…
by Sixth&Spring Books

Ravelry Pattern Link:
Sheep Hat by Renee Lorion

“Best” baby sock?

"best" baby socks

This is a baby gift that got photographed and then I forgot to blog about it once the gift was received.

Unfortunately, I’ve also forgotten the pattern!

I think it was called “best baby sock” and touted how it was the one that would stay on the most determined of babies. I don’t suppose that rings a bell?

To be honest, I think those little ankles might be a bit squished in these. I had fun making them, but I don’t know if they ever got worn!

Most amusingly, searching for “best baby sock” on Ravelry somehow turned up a pineapple lace bikini. What?

Pi Baby Sweater

My first degree is in mathematics, so MathSoc wound up being the focus of my university social life and an important sanity outlet valve for the duration of my undergrad. A couple of the lovely friends I met through Mathsoc announced they were expecting a child, and I knew immediately what I wanted to send to the shower. I mean, these are the friends who mounted their framed diplomas at right angles to each other due to mis-adjusted frames and laughed when we made mathy jokes about it looking perfectly normal.

Since math nerd baby clothes aren’t exactly the sort of thing one picks up at toys-r-us, I spent a lot of time at PyCon knitting up a gift. After not too long, the theme of I was making started to get obvious to the people around me…

Pi baby sweater (half complete front)

I found the idea of knitting a pi sweater at pycon pretty funny. Alas, since PyCon was later this year, it was not also pi day!

Here’s the sweater front and the back design viewed together before it was finished in case your imagination hasn’t already done the rest:

Pi Baby Sweater (front and back viewed together)

The pattern for the sweater comes from a book called Style Your Own Kids’ Knits by Kate Buller, which gives you basic sweater patterns in a variety of sizes with a huge number of options. I used her font for the numbers on the bottom and my own hand-drawn pi symbol for the chest motif.

Style Your Own Kids' Knits: Simply…
Style Your Own Kids’ Knits: Simply Choose a Pattern and Select a…
by Kate Buller

I also made up a simple ribbing variation for the hem and cuffs that went something like this:

1-3: k stockinette with purl facing RS
4-6: 2×2 rib (k2, p2 on RS; p2, k2 on WS)
1-3: k stockinette with purl facing RS

I’m not going to write out all of the sweater instructions in here since I imagine the author would rather you buy her book if you want more details about sleeve variations and edgings and whatnot, but I do want to provide my charts for the front and back in case any other math nerds need a baby sweater!

Back chart:
Pi Baby Sweater: back chart

And unblocked back piece:
Pi Baby Sweater

Front chart:
Pi Baby Sweater: front chart

And unblocked front piece:
Pi Baby Sweater: front, unblocked

Note that it’s all rumply because it hasn’t been blocked. While the mercerized cotton I chose was lovely to knit with and had great bright colours, it does look a bit lumpy in part due to my lack of experience with stranded knitting and in part due to the lack of blocking to set the stitches straighter.

I don’t have post-blocking pictures because I actually didn’t do the blocking, because I ran out of time before my flight home and I left the sweater in Ottawa with my sister so that she could bring it to the baby shower. She (apparently with some instructional help from my grandmother) did the blocking and sewed the buttons on, and was kind enough to send me a picture of the mom-to-be holding the finished sweater:

M-with-babysweater

I amused myself greatly with this project, and I hope it’ll amuse my math friends and their new baby.

Obligatory Circular Ravelry link

Link to My Pi Baby Sweater pattern on Ravelry, in case you want to queue it up there. (Of course, it just links back here…).

Pictures of knitting in sunlight (a work in progress)

I don’t tend to share work-in-progress shots for a few reasons:

1. I knit a lot on the go, where it’s not too convenient to take pictures.
2. I am really really bad at processing all my photos, and more of them just adds to the laod.
3. I just don’t think of it.

But I did think of it today, and it’s gotten me thinking a bit about useful general photography tips I need to remember when knitting:

Knit photography #1: Be careful of focus and depth of field

I love small depths of field in general photography and beautiful bokeh (aka the blurry bits) and all, but when taking pictures of my knitting, I need to make sure that the focus is where I want to be, and covers enough of the area around where I’m trying to draw the eye:

My very sparkly stitch marker

So here, I’m taking a picture of my pretty little stitch marker, and I’ve only left a small row of knitting in focus.

Since this is a maker blog, I’ll say that I made the stitch marker myself, for values of “made” that include “I bought a bunch of beads that had rings through them and separated them then re-closed the circles.” My project *sparkles* in the sun right now thanks to the beads, which is fun when I’m actually knitting in the sunbeam.

The narrow depth of field actually works well for something that small, but when I’m showing a series of stitches, I have to remember to adjust my photography style so that people can see the stitches well.

That can mean making sure the section is really flat:

Triangle lace stitch thing

Or it can mean just making sure the depth of field is big enough for the area in question:

Sweater Neckline with simple lace holes

Knit photography #2: Yarn has weird light properties

Colour Whorl

When you look up close at yarn, you can usually see that it’s at least a little bit fuzzy. This helps make it warm and soft, but also means it has some weird light properties where it will seriously glow given enough light. This can be awesome, or it can be really irritating, but the important thing to remember is that photographing knit/crocheted fabrics in bright light can be challenging in different ways, and each yarn is going to be a little different.

The extreme contrast isn’t always a bad thing: it can help you showcase lace. In theory. In reality, I always seem to end up with hyper-real photos, or ones with huge dark patches that just don’t look right:

Trying (and failing) to showcase some lace

And the sun is pretty bright already, so even if the yarn didn’t pick up the light so well, it could be a mess:
Demonstration of knitting photography in the sun and why it can be challenging

You can fix these things, of course, with some messing around in lightroom/photoshop, but then you lose out using the extreme contrast to show stitch definition, and you can make the project look a little dull:

Demonstration of knitting photography in the sun and why it can be challenging (2)

I suspect it’s going to take a lot more experimentation before I can quickly snap off a few photos in sunlight! But for now, I’ll be thinking critically about what I do and practicing doing it until I feel like I’ve got the kind of photos I want for matching with my patterns.

And with that, I give you one more photo where I’m proud of the light. This one showcases the rainbow nature of my stitch markers:

Rainbow stitch marker

So pretty!

Vampire Sleeves (sort of a shrug?)

I was out shopping one day with a friend and saw this book:

Vampire Knits: Projects to Keep You Knitting…
Vampire Knits: Projects to Keep You Knitting from Twilight to Dawn
by Genevieve Miller

I didn’t buy it right then, because I didn’t know how to knit and wasn’t sure what I’d do with it, but apparently it stuck with me because I picked it up later thinking I’d give it as a present or something… but then I learned to knit. So now it’s mine, all mine!

I’m not much for making full sweaters yet, because I’ve learned that projects that don’t fit in my purse never get finished. But I figured a pair of sleeves wouldn’t be too bad… but it still took me a year to finish them because I kept getting sidetracked by other things I had to try.

I just call mine vampire sleeves because of the book they came from, even though they don’t look very vampire-y in the colour I chose!

Here I am, smugly showing them off:
Vampire sleeves

One of my pet peeves in clothes is having them too snug across the shoulders, so I’m pleased to report that the lace here is pleasantly stretchy:

Vampire sleeves

The only problem with them is that the lovely autumn browns I chose don’t really match a whole lot of my clothing. They look good with the dark blues and blacks, but not so much with the reds I don’t think and definitely not with anything that has pink tones. When I was looking for something to wear with them for these photos, I was amused to discover that they mostly matched my ereader cover:

Vampire sleeves

My favourite part is the yarn. It was Shimmer hand-dyed lace yarn from Knitpicks, which I’ve only just found out was discontinued. Sadness! It was such a joy to knit with.

The pattern is relatively simple, well-written, and the photography is lovely. It really is just a pair of sleeves, opened up at the back and grafted together. I do like that the lace pattern causes the ends of the sleeves to be a little wavy:

Vampire sleeves

Pattern: Sidhe Shrug by Ashley Fay.

Warthog9’s blue gloves

John and I have been playing an augmented reality game called Ingress for some time. The reason this is relevant to this post is twofold:

1. We spend a lot of time walking around outside in the cold using our smart phones
2. We’re on the blue team.

I have some lovely purple gloves I made myself ages ago that I use for being out and about, but John couldn’t find his “hobo gloves” (aka smoker’s gloves, aka convertible mitt-glove things) in the chaos of our move, so I set about making him some new ones. Of course, he totally found the hobo gloves before I finished (by *hours* I might add. I was so close!) but in the rainy northwest, I expect having more than one set of gloves is advised.

John's blue gloves

The pattern is Twisty Sister Cabled Handwarmers
by Kate Gondwana
. I was drawn to the nice cable pattern on the back:

John's blue gloves

Since John has wide but not very long hands and likely would just be annoyed by longer gloves going well under his long coat sleeves, I used the “large” size guidelines but took out a repeat so that they’re a bit shorter, as recommended in the pattern as a way to adjust. Horray for well-written patterns! I particularly liked that this one had both charts *and* written instructions, as while I prefer charts sometimes I find it easier to understand the written if I’m not sure where something should start.

John's blue gloves

And finally, since someone complained that I didn’t have any pictures of people wearing the fox hat of my last post, here’s a few more pictures of John:

In this one, he is telling me that I need to photoshop in some Wolverine claws for appropriate effect. I leave this as an exercise to the reader.
John's blue gloves

And in this one, I think he looks amazed that he has fingers. Let it never be said that he’s too jaded to enjoy the mysteries of the universe!
John's blue gloves

PS – In case you were also wondering about the dearth of baby photos in the last post (a) the hat was waaaaay too big so I don’t think she’ll be trying it on for a while yet unless daddy decides hilarious oversized hat would make for adorable photos (b) baby V’s parents have been sharing photos of her with select family and friends, not the entire internet, so there may not be photos of her available to the rest of you even when she grows into it, unless she grows up to want to share them herself much much later. Sorry! My sister put on the hat (to see if it really fit a small adult) and says if we find that photo I can put that up instead.

Little Fox Tail

When my friend K announced that he and his wife were expecting their first child, I threatened to make an inordinate number of animal hats for the kid. The first of these turned out to be a Failynn Fox Cowl, which while adorable, is also much too big for a newborn no matter what the pattern said. See the picture? Those are my full-sized adult glasses. In a pinch, I could wear this hat, and while I’m a smaller adult, I’m not that tiny.

Failynn Fox Cowl + Fox Tail

In for a penny in for a pound: I figured if it wasn’t going to be a newborn sized present, I should make it more toddler-friendly an add a tail so it could be more of a costume. Unfortunately, there weren’t any tail patterns around that matched what I wanted, so I had to make my own.

Toddler Friendly Tail

Little Fox Tail

– Extra Bulky Yarn in two colours (I used orange and white)
– 9mm needles, either two circulars or a set of DPNs

Row 0: Cast on 16 and join ends, being careful not to twist
(I cast 8 on each circular, but whatever works for you.)
Row 1-2: k16 (all the way around)
3: {k1, increase, k3} 4 times (20)
4: k20 (all the way around)
5: {k1, increase, k2} 6 times, k2 (26)
6-11: k26 (all the way around)
12: {k2tog, k3} 6 times, k2 (22)
13: k26 (all the way around)
14: {k2tog, k9} 2 times (20)
15: k20 (all the way around)
16 {k2tog, k4} 4 times (16)
17: Change to second colour (white in my case), k16
18: {k2tog, k3} 4 times (12)
19: k12
20: {k2tog, k2} 4 times (8)
21: k8
22: {k2tog, k1} 4 times (4)
tie off to make a nice little point on the tail

I also made a seed stitch belt to attach the tail to, but for some reason I never took a picture of that. It’ll be a while before baby V gets big enough to want to play with this, but hopefully it’ll be fun when she grows into it!

Failynn Fox Cowl + Toddler Tail

Leafy sweater for Baby O’Byrne

This little leafy sweater is a present for Baby O’Byrne, whose name is a secret until she makes it out into the world. She was due a few days ago as I’m writing this; I’m just waiting for the announcement of her arrival! I’ve scheduled this post to go up on May 31st, and we’ll see if she comes out before it does.

IMG_9431

I’ve been friends with Baby O’Byrne’s dad for a long time, so this sweater was made with him in mind. Ken and I have spent a great many hours hiking and camping together, so I had bought some variagated green yarn and when I saw this pattern in a book at the library, I figured I had a match.

IMG_9430

The little details of the pattern are what drew me in. I really like the leafy motif and the little seed-stitch edging is not only cute, but keeps the piece from curling up too much at the edges. Clever! And speaking of details, aren’t those buttons adorable? I bought them originally for a project of my own and had enough left over for the sweater. Here’s a close up:

IMG_9433

This isn’t the only piece I’ve made for her, but I forgot to take photos before packaging the rest up in time for the baby shower. (This one wasn’t ready in time so got sent later.) Oops! Her dad has a new camera, though, so maybe he’ll have time to take pictures of her wearing the two hats and two sets of booties I sent along before this sweater was finished. We’ll see how co-operative she is, though!

The Pattern:

Autumn Leaves by Nikki Van De Car from “What to Knit When You’re Expecting.” I really liked the book and will probably be buying my own copy rather than monopolize the library one again!

Knitted Finger Moustache

Today’s project does double-duty as both a knitting project and a photo assignment: a knitted finger moustache and a self portrait for Active Assignment Weekly.

Knitted Finger Moustache Triptych

Taken for AAW: 20 – 27 May: You look Marvelous (and Ravelry)

I found this project on Ravelry late one evening when I was trying to find errata for another pattern which was totally not working for me, and this seemed like the perfect antidote to the frustration. I was debating doing some photos with some inanimate objects like the link above shows, but I happened to check AAW and noticed today’s deadline on the self-portrait assignment for this week hadn’t hit yet, so… self-portrait time!

This being a self portrait assignment that I had an hour and a half to shoot, process and submit, it’s sans-makeup or even a hairbrush. That’s pretty much me on a lazy holiday Monday anyhow — silly knitting project, a camera, a book, and a computer.

What it took (photo-wise):

These are pretty much straight out of camera aside from stitching them together for a triptych, although I admit to photoshopping the scratch on my forehead and removing a stray hair that looked weird. I didn’t plan for a triptych or the eye thing, these just happened to be among the best of my “let’s goof off with my silly knitting project in front of my camera with a remote” shots.

Things I learned:

– Putting all the photos on one layer, moving them around, then doing image->reveal all in photoshop makes triptyches *waaaay* easier. No more figuring out canvas size!
– you can resize just one layer by using ^T in photoshop, just don’t forget to tell it when you’re done or it acts all locked.

The knitting pattern:

It’s a moustache, for your fingers! by Megan Death (It’s free!)