Category Archives: hats and mittens

You would be wrong.

Punctuated Ribs Sock Top You might think, after working a month and a half on preparing a sock knitting presentation for my spinning guild, I’d be sick of sock knitting – almost, but you would be wrong. I promised mom a pair of birthday socks, and before I headed off into the wild blue knitting yonder to cast on hats and sweater and non-socks, I needed to finish a labor of love. These are the Punctuated Rib Socks from Knitting Socks with Handpainted Yarn, a book I’ve now knit two patterns from (a record!). The yarn is Aslan Trends Santa Fe, a soft, economical sock yarn that I would call the “poor man’s Koigu” if I were feeling snarky, but I’m not. Nice to knit with, my only complaint is that I needed to swipe my one and only Addi size 1 out of the Fionn sweater I’m working on. Added incentive to finish the socks, since I found out after just a few rows of the sweater on straights that I am no longer a lover of straight needles unless they are DPNs. See the pair here. I feel like I’m definitely going through a dark yarn phase, which is inconvenient when your knit night is in a bar.

For the opposite of dark yarn, I present these Maine Morning Mitts Maine Morning Mitts, knit out of long-stashed Kureyon intended for a Lizard Ridge afghan. I think I held off making these because I was concerned I couldn’t get two mitts out of one skein – I am here to tell the Internet you can make two Maine Morning Mitts with just 100 yards of worsted weight yarn (I did shorten the cuffs a bit, but I’m confident even the originals are one-skeiners). These were quick and fun and they knit up in a week, satisfying my raging case of startitis. They also served as a convenient distraction from the hooligans who shot my new car with a BB gun while the Knit One Purl Too crew was out to dinner in a perfectly nice Cleveland suburb. At least the insurance adjuster thought the mitts were nice, and everything’s back to normal now. Frankly I cannot believe that I drove my new car to Chicago and all over the Windy City without a scratch (the Dan Ryan! the Ike!), then I come home and some loser tries to make my Honda Fit into a hoopty.

Quincy Quade Quentin In my righteous indignation over HooptyGate I have not one, not two, but three finished objects for you – this weekend, I stuffed and sewed a Quincy Quade Quentin monster, and I have to say that while it was a lot of work because I am not a sewer, I am charmed. I’m also pretty proud that he looks suitably monster-y (with the help of Knit One Purl Too’s monster engineering staff, aka my husband, who suggested teasing the stuffing to make it less lumpy, installed the safety eyes and cut the teeth for me). I loved making him, and even though the finishing was more involved than I expected, it reinforced my love of getting details right on knitted objects. Finishing work is actually fun for me.

But if I love finishing, why do I have so many things started? I have 9 things on the needles right now, which seems ridiculous. I’ve started things I haven’t even logged as projects on Ravelry, like a Cassidy cardigan (I met Bonne Marie Burns in Chicago last month at YarnCon and yes, I was a total fangirl: “I love your patterns!”) and the Desdemona shawl in Lorna’s Laces Helen’s Lace (I may have gushed a little at the Lorna’s studio sale: “I love your yarn!” – that’s what happens when you buy yarn once a year; you get excited), and a pair of Roger socks for a dear friend. You would think all of these works in progress would have me a little overwhelmed and maybe a little guilty – but so far it just feels like really good knitting. In other words, you would be wrong.

Notes from the Tour de Fleece

California variegated mutant (CVM) 2-ply Though the last week of the Tour was filled with travel and a visit from my parents, I was still a productive spinner – this is 8 ounces of California Variegated Mutant spun up into about 175 yards of sportweight 2-ply. Of course, I thought this yarn was worsted weight, and I ended up using a size 8 needle, three sizes larger than my typical worsted yarn choice. So it’s probably more accurate to say some parts of it were worsted weight. The skein on the bottom was spun and plied during an incredibly fruitful spinning workshop I took with my guild in March, then I finished the skein on top (notably less overspun) during the Tour. I loved working with the CVM, and it softened right up after a bath, so it’s perfection in a skein as far as I’m concerned. I’m hoping to make the Sweet Fern Mitts with this yarn from the Knitters Book of Wool. Mitts of some kind, at least.

Handspun Hat Even though the Tour was for spinning, I also finished my first handspun, handknit item: a hat. This is the clever Top Down Ribbed Beanie from Charisa Martin-Cairn with the addition of a stripe of luxury yarn I carded, spun and Navajo-plied myself during the aforementioned workshop in March. There’s a little bit of sable, a little denim waste – surely the most experimental thing I’ve knitted with in quite awhile, wooly girl that I am. The luxury yarn has too much twist, since I am still a Navajo-plying novice – but I did it, and that’s what counts.

Laila Socks, Cast OnAnother thing I did recently (not related to the Tour de Fleece) was cast on for my first pair of colorwork socks, from stash, from a pattern I’ve had waiting for at least four years. These are of course, the estimable Laila’s Socks from the frankly awesome Nancy Bush – as you can see, this is a popular pattern, and it’s hard to make it look bad; I myself went with the “if girly is good, girly with bling is better” combination of Lorna’s Laces in Tickled Pink and white sock yarn with sparkles in it. Let me tell you a secret, which when I say it will be just as annoying as hearing “I lost the weight and I ate whatever I wanted.” Colorwork is easy.

I hold the contrast color in my dominant hand to make it pop, I hold the main color in my secondary hand, and I never vary that pattern. That one piece of information (plus a sock needle two sizes larger than usual to help ensure looser even tension) is all I needed to feel like I cracked the mysteries of colorwork and make myself into a two-handed knitter. I’m at the heel of sock one, trying to finish these for the Sock Knitters Anonymous colorwork challenge which ends August 31, so the odds are in my favor. I’m just putting this sock-related promise here in writing, because I may have cast on not one but two knitted toys this weekend – wait until you see the cuteness to come.

The most wonderful time of the year.

I can say this to you because we’re friends: I love Thanksgiving with the fire of a thousand suns, and Christmas floats my boat, because who doesn’t love a thoughtful gift? But this time? After Christmas and before I return to work, when it’s okay for me to sit in my pajamas and a handknitted sweater looking at knitting on the internet and thinking about spending the day knitting? That might be my favorite time of all.

Noro Striped Scarf, finished I have rallied from baby knitting disasters and am prepared to finish 2009 in a big way, so I have a few things to show you. First up, perhaps my favorite FO of 2009, my Noro Striped Scarf. Tubular cast on, sewn bind off, about 3/4 of two different balls (S245 and S87; details here) of Noro Silk Garden sock yarn gave me a scarf that was 74 inches long. Honestly, I love Noro yarns (so all you haters of Noro can stuff it), but I think making socks out of Noro Silk Garden Sock is a fool’s errand; they would last about 5 minutes, because it’s not exactly a hard-wearing yarn, you know? So a scarf is perfect.

Next up in the “parade of FOs in delicate yarn” is a pair of plain vanilla socks in Handmaiden Casbah, colorway Ruby. I was not Casbah Socks completely swayed by the lure of a merino/cashmere blend, because it’s kind of splitty and slightly tempermental, like it will pill or fuzz if you look at it funny. But these were for my mom, because you do not turn 70 every day, and even though she’s a knitter, she is not a sock knitter. I originally started these as a pair of Wendy Johnson’s Trilobites in Arucania Ranco Multi (or Multy). I was not a happy knitter; this was the last skein of yarn I bought before embarking on 9 months of Cold Sheeping, and it was knitting up suspiciously like kitchen cotton: not soft, not mom-worthy. So I gave it away, and broke my Cold Sheep streak after 290 days (I checked) with Handmaiden Casbah, the yarn equivalent of dating a supermodel. They fit beautifully, and Mom is happy – this is a craft project that’s way better than a macaroni necklace. As an aside, this was the first pair of socks I did two-at-a-time on one needle, and after completing my Nancy Bush mystery socks two-at-a-time on separate needles, I am completely in love with knitting two socks at once – that is perhaps 2009′s biggest discovery: the banishment of second sock syndrome (except for one tiny exception – I’ll definitely take care of that).

Newfoundland Mitt minus Thumb My final project for 2009 might give you a clue as to what 2010 holds: this is the Newfoundland mittens, queued in Ravelry October 7, 2007; one skein of Brown Sheep Shepherd’s Shades and one skein of Noro Kureyon (color 170, still a favorite). I have 280 things in my Ravelry queue, and it’s time to knit some of them up. I mentioned here that I’d like to try 10 new techniques in 2010, including installing a zipper in a knitted garment (#32 in my queue) and thrumming (#4 in my queue, and I have a pile of thrums waiting). I might even finish a pair of baby booties before my littlest cousin’s arrival. So happy new year to you and your needles – here’s to knitting on with confidence in 2010, just like Elizabeth recommends.

25,354

Haven’t you always wanted to be one of those cool knitters who ends up as “and friend” in a picture next to Stephanie Pearl-McPhee at the Madrona Fiber Arts Festival? Or with book publishers plying you with free swag? Or as someone with a super-secret knitting project for a shop, or even better, a book?

Secret Project, closeup I am gobsmacked to find myself doing some super-secret knitting See? that’s some RYC Wool Silk DK, right there my friends: 700 yards of Rowan-y goodness, due to be completed mid-March. First project with Rowan yarns, but it won’t be the last – I am believing the hype about how great Rowan yarns are. I can’t wait to tell you more about this – it will be worth the wait, I promise.

Other things are on hold right now: my Jaywalkers, last seen here, await a second heel and foot; the Lizzy cardigan’s last piece awaits waist shaping – but I do have two FOs completed before SecretMania 09 began, both chips off what feels like a huge stash of Classic Elite Lush.

Primordial Hat, Done This is Roxanne Wood’s Primordial Hat – the pattern is a fun mix of garter and ribbing which I thoroughly enjoyed, though I unexpectedly ended up with a huge hat. Huge! I’m guessing that I’ll need to go down 2 maybe 3 needle sizes to make this the proper size for version two, but it will be worth it, because I think it’s a totally fun pattern.

Because my cousin still needed a hat to match her Basketweave Scarf, I cast on right away for Thea Coleman’s Stashy Hat – ahh. Regular readers will know how I am a fan of the broken rib, and the shot of added texture did not disappoint me. I received word yesterday that the hat fits, and we have a little cold weather for my cousin to get some use out of it, so yay.

Stashy HatLet’s be honest here: as soon as I got the hang of the super-secret project and realized I had a lot (a lot!) of knitting to go before I was finished, I wanted to cast on for something new badly enough that it took my breath away. (Noro stripey socks, anyone?). I am resisting, because it’s hard to call RYC Silk Wool a second choice, but I have an ulterior motive.

How am I doing on the “20,000 yards project”? Right now I have (you guessed it) 25,354 yards of yarn stashed away. Last year I knitted about 4100 yards’ worth, but don’t forget, I lost a fair amount of true knitting time to the seaming of the Greensburg afghan. I have swapped, Koigu for Fearless Fibers [see?], and a completed Banff for a sweater’s worth of Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool – but I have not purchased. [For the judgey who think I have thrown my first sweater under the bus, consider that the recipient loves it, and while I couldn’t bring myself to frog and reknit it, I can think of three things I could start today with the Silky Wool. Er, after I finish the super-secret knitting. – ed]

The size of my stash concerns me enough that I am seriously considering having someone else make the plain socks I would make for myself. Hey, that’s 400 yards on my feet instead of in a box – I think it’s a win-win. *wink*

The Marge (or, “at least it’s not pink”).

Honeycomb Cabled Hat, cables This is the reversible cabled hat from Dove Knits; she’s knocked out a number of shockingly beautiful FOs since this pattern was posted just three weeks ago – this little number is the tip of the iceberg. Plus, it has the added bonus of looking just like Marge Simpson’s beehive while under construction.

I made just one change to the pattern – I added a cable repeat to provide a better fit for my husband’s taller/larger head. I also used a provisional cast to begin so that I could start the second hat using live stitches, rather than stitches picked up from the cast on edge. Take note: this is an excellent first cable project, and a terrific item to practice cabling without a needle, which is the way I roll. I was so tickled that the cables actually twisted both ways that it almost reignited my Cable and Rib fire – almost. Honeycomb Cabled Hat, ribs

In other knitting news, I’ve been knitting a pair of Tidepool socks for my mom for what feels like forever. About a month ago, I discovered to my horror that I was going to run out of yarn, and spent hours scouring the Internet for a suitable heel and toe substitute – I looked that thousands of skeins of yarn. Apparently, I am the only person in the Western world who thinks that “hot pink” means this color – everyone else thinks that’s “shocking pink.” This is why I now have four newly-acquired skeins of Koigu in my stash – say hot pink, get some other pink. I love these socks, but I’m honestly a little bit sick of looking at pink Koigu. I know, cry me a river.

The return of Captain BigHead.

Malagaiter I’ve heard it said that every time a knitter weaves in an end on an FO, an angel gets his wings. Four pairs of wings later, I have the first FO of 2008, Mary Lou Egan‘s terrific Malagaiter from the December 2006 Magknits – an issue I thought was so good, I wrote a fan letter to Kerrie telling her so.

So here are the details: I changed everything. Instead of Malabrigo, I used rare and beautiful handspun gifted to me by a knitting friend, about 200 yards worth. To get gauge appropriate for my big head and light worsted yarn, I changed the cast on number to 100 stitches (I probably could have gotten away with 90). Instead of brioche stitch, I used mistake rib stitch in the round. I also made a three-stitch i-cord (rather than two), because that’s the way I roll. And voila, I ended up with a hat long on cute and warm, short on boring. Malagaiter on

Next up: a desperate attempt to actually finish a perfectly nice pair of pink Koigu socks for which I have tragically run short on yarn, and I break my vow to knit old patterns with old yarn for this clever honeycomb reversible cabled hat at the request of Knit One Purl Too’s chief early morning dogwalker (my husband). The idea of four warm layers of merino over his ears made him swoon, and who am I to say no to a handknit he really, really wants (unlike the fliptop mittens I really, really wanted to make, now sitting on his desk because they are “too nice” to wear)? Hats for everyone – at this rate, the dog will get one too.

The guy next to the guy in the daisy hat.

I’m Knitting Five for Dulaan Red Ribbed Dulaan Hat #4 This was the easy hat – after knitting three of these babies, the fourth was like falling off a log. Poof! Before I knew it, I was casting off.

It was the fifth hat that took a few days. I think this may be the first time I’ve ever knit a pattern more than once. The fifth hat was a little like that moment when you’re swimming, and your body is protesting that it’s too hard, it’s too far – and then your muscles realize you are not going to stop swimming just because they’re complaining – and they stop complaining quite as much so you can keep going in relative peace. I knit the fifth hat even though I would have preferred to put the size 15 needles down, because someone like this guy (in the daisy hat) is waiting. The guy next to him needs one, so I made one more. A Fifth Dulaan Hat The hidden fun factor in these is the opportunity to knit once more with scraps of yarn from favorite projects – the grey hat here contains a little DZined worsted weight hemp yarn from my Multidirectional Scarf and some Pastaza from the bucket hat that wasn’t so bucket-y after all.

The project that served as a temporary distraction for me between hats 4 and 5 was a garter stitch square for the Rebuilding Greensburg Block by Block afghan project. Laura is receiving squares by the boatload now (seriously, 54 squares? That’s some crazy amount of knitting; I’m impressed!) And I’m adding my one square, from a lone skein of Silk Garden and some Cascade 220 that might look familiar Rebuilding Greensburg Afghan Block There was serious appreciation for Silk Garden in my house while this square was in production, so I’m glad Lizzy is in the queue. I’ve had an opportunity to think carefully about what I plan to knit as I build my project queue at Ravelry; for those of you still waiting for an invite, it’s worth it. I like the look and features of Ravelry very much; it doesn’t replace good old-fashioned noodling around on the Internet for me, but it has a lot of potential, simply because good visuals play a large part in how the site displays information. Thank you to all of the knitters who’ve taken such nice photos of your work! After all, isn’t a project so much more enticing to you when you see someone’s pretty FO photo? Perhaps that’s why I have more than 50 projects in my queue [I’m knitonepurltoo there, so feel free to peek in and friend me — ed.].

I read an article not too long ago that suggested bands become more popular as people figure out they’re popular already: in other words, people like what’s liked. I worry that Ravelry’s social network will encourage popular patterns to grow even more so, and it will require (more) work to unearth the new and unusual – but it takes work to discover new and different things now, so I think I should wait and see what happens instead of knitting myself a Chicken Little hat. Although I could totally add that hat to my queue….

The quick, on the head.

Or, Dulaan-a-than, Midwest-style, in 17 easy steps.

1. Cast on at 7 a.m., June 3, following the excellent Ken’s Dulaan Hat pattern. Use size 15 needles for first time in forever, and three strands of worsted yarn. Red Dulaan Hat
2. Knit.
3. De-tangle balls of yarn.
4. Knit.
5. De-tangle balls of yarn.
6. Repeat until first hat is done. Total time: 2 1/2 hours, or thereabouts (de-tangling created drag on knitting process).
7. Eat breakfast; send husband out to grocery shop and retrieve “40-Year-Old Virgin” from video store.
8. Admit first hat is small; hope there is someone small on the other end waiting for a hat. Second hat sized up to 44 stitch cast on.
9. Knit.
10. De-tangle balls of yarn.
11. Repeat steps 9 and 10 until second hat is complete.
Brown and Blue Dulaan Hat 12. Second hat is freaking work of art, combining partial balls from several favorite projects as well as a lovely skein of Silk Garden that has stymied me (too dark for original plans). Feel pang of sadness that hat will spend its life where I cannot admire it.
13. Eat lunch.
14. Cast on third hat, 42 stitches for variety. An understated study in tweed avec seed stitch border (rather than 2×2 ribbing, because apparently I cannot divide by 4). Grey Tweed Dulaan Hat
15. Consider writing letter to Stephanie: “This hat is not really a good destashing project; these balls of yarn are not really getting any smaller.” Consider writing Plymouth Yarn Co.: “Thought you might want to know of misprint on ball band. Am almost positive yardage is 2000 instead of 200.”
16. Realize huge needles are causing hand cramps; break to swim for 45 minutes.
17. Pop in “40-Year Old Virgin” DVD. Repeat steps 9 and 10 until hat is finished. Cast off about 6 p.m.

And just like that, I knitted three things in one day. I know, no one else in my house can believe it either, including me.

I am not a knitting quitter, but…

I am not a knitting quitter. I’m not really a quitter, period; I think persistence is a virtue that serves knitters well (e.g. the SlogalongCable and Rib and I are proud members). I have abandoned just one project in my years of knitting, and I was happy to do it, because no one reknits a sweater three times, right? Right?

But here, my friends, is the bitter truth: I am frogging Meadow Flowers.

I really don’t think I have enough yarn, and the fear of running out is outweighing the love for a great pattern. I have ~500 yards (probably less) of small-batch hand-dyed yarn, and the pattern takes 500 yards. Even I admit this is the knitting equivalent of stuffing ten pounds of sugar in a five pound bag. So, so often, I choose the hard thing. I go the long way. I pick the complicated option. I was all set to swap yarn samples with Cassie to see if the extra yarn she had matched mine…Then it occurred to me: I could simply pick a new shawl pattern which requires less yarn. Brilliant! And also, easier!

This handy list, complete with yardage makes the picking of a new pattern fun, in a scientific, research-y kind of way: Shetland Triangle? No – not enough yarn. Flower Basket Shawl? Yes – er, in fact, I already have yarn stashed for this, so planning on knitting two of them might not be the best choice. This PDF featuring arrowhead lace staff projects from Interweave Knits contains the Arrowhead Lace stole (technically more yarn than I have, but it’s an “end-it-whenever” project) and the Little Arrowhead Shawl, a Pam Allen joint that takes just 280 yards of yarn. I could just about make two of them – but then I’d end up with the same nailbiting “will she or won’t she have enough yarn” situation. I can’t tell which shawl I should cast on for quite yet, but I do know it’s time to restash the Twinkletoes sock yarn Au revoir, Meadow Flowers!

PopUp Paws, completed In happier news, even though it is clearly not mitten weather, I have finished the Pop Up Paws, so that’s one project down. Vital stats: 2.375 balls of Bergere Irland yarn to make the largest size in a tweedy brown purchased from toadal discount yarn. Size 3 and 5 needles, with the rounded mitten top option (mitten cuff changed to 2×2 ribbing from garter because I wanted to). I liked this pattern a lot, and would recommend it for the sheer volume of detailed information within, plus the fine fit of the finished product. Thumbs (and fingers) up!

In even happier news, I was the lucky winner of Bonne Marie’s “spring fling” contest, and I am now the proud recipient of the Ariann pattern and seven beautiful blue skeins of Cotton-Ease. If you know of my general ambivalence toward cotton, you might have asked why I would risk winning a yarn with cotton in the name? One word: color. It’s so, so pretty, and I think it will be beautiful as a summer cardigan – one cannot live by wool alone. Swatching has commenced, eagerly. Thank you, Bonne Marie!

Stay tuned for our next episode in which I extol the virtues of Combination Knitting (and the charming Annie Modesitt), and the entrelac sock goes on a road trip to meet Lucy Neatby.