Category Archives: hats and mittens

I may have to rethink my hard line on entrelac.

And now I bring you an episode of “Projects I have been hiding from the blog because progress pictures might be boring (look, another finger!).”

Pop Up Paw(s) I am bouncing back and forth between the Pop-Up Paw for the right hand (done, save for the Pop-Up) and the Paw for the left hand (at the ribbing for the cuff). As soon as I’m done with the ribbing, I can swap out my smaller needles for my larger ones on Pop-up #2 and finish Pop-up #1. See? Remarkably placid, tranquil knitting, unmarred by desperate “I had to frog it because it sucked” updates. I like many things about this project, including the pattern’s clear directions and teaching myself the suspended bindoff to ensure the fingers were loose enough around the knuckles for Knit One Purl Too’s Sunday Dinner Chef (aka my husband). He likes that this will be the second thing for him in 2007 – even though Cable and Rib waits, he is still getting the knitted goods.

I have been momentarily distracted, however, by the Step Above socks (from Knitter’s #75, Summer 2004) – those broken-rib entrelac squares are addictive. The entrelac is a great way to avoid the pooling I loathe and encounter so often in variegated yarns, and progress feels as fast as a plain old stockinette sock because each row is twelve freaking stitches long. Step Above Sock in progress Here, I have just finished the second full tier on the leg and started the third out of a total of five. I am following these suggested modifications for Step Above knitters who are knitting with less yardage per skein – I am also planning to decrease after the heel so that each square is just ten or eleven stitches wide; a looser leg is okay, but my foot needs less ease (and as we know, I make socks that fit, no matter what).

In other news, I had the opportunity to look at Knit 2 Together this weekend, and was pleasantly surprised – there were four projects I would make, which was four more than I was expecting (don’t hate me Tracey! I didn’t know!). The scarf/bonnet combo and the fitted jacket were especially nice [they remind me of the Turtleneck Shrug from Scarf Style and the Jess jacket, respectively, both patterns I like already], but I found myself inspecting the knitted jumper dress very closely – the lace panel at the waist would reduce bulk, provide some figure-flattering shaping and hide a multitude of minor flaws. Plus, I am a sucker for a turned hem.

But before I cast on for any dresses, I have several stashbusting projects in line: the Vertigo hat from Knitpicks, the Ribby Cardi from Bonne Marie Burns, Nezumi and the Santa Cruz Beanie from Magknits…and Lizzy from the Jane Ellison Naturally Noro book. Sharp-eyed readers will remember that I have loved this cardigan since I first saw it, and after a smashing swap thanks to the Knitter’s Review forums, I will be knitting Lizzy in the swoon-worthy shade of Silk Garden poetically known as 87, and Nina from San Francisco will be reknitting a vintage cardigan for her mom out of the finest La Gran Classic Elite has to offer. Stash knitting at its finest – it’s enough to make you plotz, really.

(Belated) knitted goods are the first sign of spring. Right?

As the flowerbasket hat approached six heartbreaking weeks overdue (and by “overdue” I mean “later than I had hoped it would be”) I realized it remained undone because I had some sort of finishing anxiety. I would have to get over it tout de suite. Either the hat and mittens fit, or they don’t, but as God is my witness, I have made a good faith effort to ensure they do, and knitting slower will not help (unless by “help” I mean “save me from being crushed under the weight of the guilt”).

Flower Basket Hat and Mittens So, my third finished object of 2007 is the flowerbasket hat and accompanying mittens for my friend Bran’s daughter in exchange for the recently unveiled redesign of this here site. This hat was loosely based on this baby hat pattern and sizing information from The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns; I later discovered (too late!) that TKHBP sometimes underestimates the amount of negative ease necessary, so I made a length of 2-stitch i-cord to thread through the brim to tighten the fit (and add to the cuteness). As I mentioned before, the flowers are from this pattern, and were not only easy but fun. If I were to do this over again, I’d cast on 88 stitches instead of 100 (or 352 rather than 400, because the brim ruffle involves a serious amount of decreasing). I’d also have the recipient’s mom trace her hands and mail the paper to me so I’d have the next best thing to an actual nine-year-old-girl as a reference point.

Whew! I’m glad that’s done, and I’m frankly shocked that it turned out just about as I envisioned it. Say it with me: is knitting cool, or what? Next up, Paws that pop, and maybe even some double-thick mittens made out of sock yarn. And there’s always good old Cable and Rib….

Thank goodness for small favors.

Happy belated New Year! January brought me a case of bronchitis followed by a cold, so I’ve spent most of the last three and a half weeks recuperating – with intermittent bouts of knitting. On the bright side, if only I’d known small projects went so quickly, I’d have started knitting them sooner.

Fig and Plum Hat First up, with my memory jogged by this discussion of decreasing for hats, I whipped out a Fig and Plum ribbed hat. I used 3/4 of a ball of Plymouth Encore Chunky in a nice oatmeal heather (color 240), sizing the stitch count down appropriately for a bulky yarn (I think I cast on 64), and the hat fits Knit One Purl Too’s Chief Snow Removal Expert (aka my husband) perfectly. I’d definitely make this pattern again, because the decrease pattern looks very sharp, yet it’s idiot-proof.

Second, my contribution to the Square-Along – very, very fun, and it went so quickly, it was over almost before I knew it. Vital stats: 1/3 of a ball of Plymouth Sockotta in oranges, greens, browns and yellows – this yarn was almost destined to be Evelyn Clark’s Go With the Flow Socks at one point – after seeing this, I’m glad I reconsidered (and I probably still have enough left for socks).Square-along FO

I’m not sure if I have any knitting resolutions for the new year – if I do, they can probably be summed up as follows: Use the patterns you have, and no saving yarn “for good” – use it, and love it. I’ve bookmarked hundreds of patterns and have hundreds more on my bookshelf – socks from Knitting on the Road, Knitting Vintage Socks, shawls and wraps from Wrap Style, hats and mittens from all over. It’s time to really make the effort to use them (in other words no plain vanilla socks until further notice).

I also have lots of single skeins of yarn, some of which I bought to swatch for future projects which may never get made (the cover aran from Men in Knits was the original designation for the Encore Chunky) – so it’s time to use those too. I have a friend who buys lovely clothes and then doesn’t wear them, saving them “for good.” I thought of her when I wound my most beautifully crafted skein of handspun yarn (the one on the right) to make the Malagaiter from MagKnits. I felt so bold, but think how much more I’ll get to enjoy this one-of-a-kind yarn when I’m wearing it!

Finally, my third project in January was converting this blog to WordPress and implementing the redesign my friend Bran made in exchange for the flowerbasket hat which I am still working on (sigh). If you’re reading this using Bloglines or another news reader, click through and enjoy her handiwork (that’s really me up there!). I’ve been looking forward to this redesign – what a treat, and the hat and mittens and accoutrements are thisclose to being done, so I felt like I could put the redesign together in good conscience.

Leena sleeping Thanks to everyone for your kind comments about Charlie;we miss him, but I know the catnip patch in the sky is treating him well. We were surprised to find right away that our house felt a little too empty without a cat, so I have a new knitting companion, Leena. She’s seven months old today, and just like me, she likes yarn. I think we’ll have a beautiful future together.

I love the smell of lanolin in the morning.

When I look at the Cable and Rib sweater, I will always remember that I was watching Apocalypse Now when I bound off the whopping 14 stitches for the armholes. Heh. What a milestone, reaching that bindoff after some two years of on and off knitting. As with another infamous sweater, I knit beyond the length called for in the pattern – luckily Favorite Knitting Recipient #1 (a.k.a. my husband) is supah-tall, so a half inch between friends is nothing but a design element.

I think it’s ironic that I knit my heart out on this sweater and there is still no FO to show for it; I am more than a little sad that my total for the year will be seven objets finis rather than the twelve I had hoped for – eight, if I’m lucky. The everlasting gobstopper of a sweater is nowhere near done, so if there is an eighth to be had, it will be this charming hat crafted out of Encore worsted goodness. The idea is based on this adorable hat, sized up for a larger wee head. You’ll notice that in my crazy inspired brain, I decided to drop in a little basketweave stitch, so the hat will look even more like a basket of flowers once the accoutrements are sewn on. I’d like to give a big shoutout to Knitswapper Heidi who dove into her stash to provide me with oddments of superwash perfect for flowers.It's a bird, it's a plane, it's a hat!

The holiday season has been all about ebb and flow for me this year – comings and goings and ups and downs of all sorts. Shortly after we last saw each other, Charlie my cat, recipient of my first knitting project was diagnosed with terminal cancer, and so the Knit One Purl Too household has been “all treats, all the time” for our feline member. We are taking such good care of him that he may live into the new year, but whatever happens, he is having a great last few weeks on his way to the big catnip patch in the sky [tm our neighbor; I love that expression so much – thank you, neighbor! – ed.].

And while there have been cookies, and cards and carols and menorah lightings and gelt and dreidels, there has not been very much knitting. Truth be told, though I’m reading about what all of you are knitting, I lost my mojo after Charlie got cancer, and am only now getting it back. One of the things that’s helping is Learn How To Knit, an offbeat Christmas carol from the awesome Canadian Hawksley Workman – is there nothing Canada can’t do? Additional mojo-enhancement came from the sole knitting-related present I received this year. I was deeply touched that the Knit One Purl Too in-laws, (after just one mention of the greatness of Alice Starmore, several years ago) gifted me with The Celtic Collection, so Cromarty will be mine, soon enough. They were so excited about finding any Starmore book at all that I felt I had to disclose that The Celtic Collection was a Starmore still in print. Nonetheless, they were excited at their find on my behalf, so I must be doing something right as daughter-in-law #1.

So, somewhat belated holiday greetings from the Knit One Purl Too family. Here’s hoping you find an extra ball of yarn under the couch to start the new year.

A hat in 36 hours.

When we last saw this hat (the Age of Aquarius Hat from Knitter’s Stash), it was September 30, and it was all brim. I had every intention of finishing it, but I wasn’t in a big hurry…until we were invited to a party at the recipient’s house last Sunday. So between Friday afternoon and Sunday afternoon, I knitted. A lot. And there you go, as easy as falling off a log (and knitting for ten hours, including in the car, on the way to the party). A hat in 36 hours. Who do I think I am, Stephanie? [another photo – sadly, the photo of the back, taken in a hurry was out of focus]. Everyone at the party tried on this hat, and they were impressed with the softness of the yarn and the pleasing shape – the crown is nice and round, avoiding the bullet-head look that many stocking caps give the wearer. I’d make this hat again – it was better than Cats.

So, in spite of my best efforts to stall and start multiple projects, I’m down to three projects on the needles – the Cabled Rib Cardigan, the second Cherry tree Hill sock, and the Lush sweater. More accurately, the Lush sweater is *off* the needles, but only temporarily – I frogged my one and a half pieces and am excited to start again. Taking a step backward was oddly liberating.

I urge you to take a look at the completed Man-Along sweaters; they’re so inspiring! I have not yet finished the Cabled Rib Cardigan, but these sweaters make me want to get knitting!

64 days isn’t that long.

ynbaluarie_1.jpg What would life be like if I bought no yarn, no patterns, no knitting books until February 1? Is there a hobby where you don’t spend your time overloading acquiring things for the hobby? If so, let me know, and the hobby better not be “the practice of Zen”.

It’s not like I would lack for things to read, or knit. I have four five six projects on the needles (the Cabled Rib cardigan, the Age of Aquarius hat, the Cherry Tree Hill socks…the Lush sweater and the multidirectional scarf. That’s kind of embarrassing. Without the distractions of new acquisitions, I might actually finish something. At least the multidirectional scarf has gotten significantly longer.

I’ve acquired a stack of knitting books recently, but I should go back and re-read my very first two: Knitting Without Tears, and The “I Hate to Finish Sweaters” Guide to Finishing Sweaters. That might help as I confront the fact that despite my best efforts, I’m actually making progress on the Cabled Rib Cardigan.

I am still struggling, however with the heel for Michelle’s Basic Socks. After deciding simply to forge ahead and do a “regular” short row heel, I was unsatisfied with the results. Sloppy wraps to the left in that photo, and a big lump at the base of the heel to the right. I could ignore it and continue with what I’m coming to suspect is a substandard sock, but no. First, the YNBA is a reflective thing, a period in which can consider my techniques and improve upon them with current projects, rather than starting something new to get away from a problem with something old. Two, and most important, I can already buy socks that don’t fit properly at any store on the planet except for AutoZone. I make socks that fit.

I returned to Simple Socks Plain and Fancy, and have re-read the short-row heel instructions. They are sinking in. I am prepared to have a growth experience with my knitting. I am prepared to learn and grow as a knitter rather than rush headlong into something unsatisfying. Either that, or I’ll do an afterthought heel.

An all-dessert knitting potluck.

Since we last saw each other, I’ve been a very persistent knitter. Here, at last, is a picture of the first finished RibTip sock with (of course), its mate well underway.

But the piece de resistance may well be the Age of Aquarius hat from Knitter’s Stash that I’ve been working on as a Christmas gift – it’s cleverly constructed (or perhaps this is just me because I’ve not knitted a hat like this before) so that you knit the brim and then after purling the turning row, you flip the hat inside out. . Then you knit the crown in a slightly different cable pattern, and when you’re done, flip the brim up for contrast. Just imagine the top of the hat here – even half done, isn’t the alpaca yummy? I normally don’t use words like that, but Classic Elite Montera is doing it for me. Plus, I’m going to finish a Christmas gift soon, and it’s not even close to Christmas.

The hat was my knitting on the way to A Wool Gathering, which was fun, but I was…whelmed. I came, I saw, I bought 2 ounces of roving for thrummed mittens, even though I am not thrumming along, petted some llamas and goats, ate the best peach danish of my life, and left. As Knit One Purl Too’s Yarn Acquisition Specialist (my husband) said, “It’s like a potluck where everyone brought dessert.” There was some beautiful handspun yarn, and more beautiful handspun yarn, and some alpaca, and more alpaca. And the hemp sock yarn lady Bonne Marie likes was not there after all, and there was very little sock yarn (even the vendor who carried Cherry Tree Hill had no SuperSock merino. I spent most of that weekend gripped by socknitting fever, not to be quenched with all this lovely handspun (and let’s be honest, some of it was not so lovely, it was just rustic). I did come away with an idea for a hat pattern; if I can reverse-engineer the hat I saw (and add my own twist to it), you might see a pattern here someday (If you wanted to design your own projects, you couldn’t do better than this notebook as a place to sketch them out, complete with a space for notes.). The hat idea is not just an excuse to buy the notebook.

What’s a girl to do when not quite satisfied with her first fiber festival? Why, make a detour to The Fifth Stitch, where Ellen hooked me up with some yummy (there’s that word again) sock yarn. I could easily have walked out of there with twice as much, because she had an amazing selection – Apple Laine in Dark Chocolate for a Jackie E-S lace sock pattern, Cherry Tree Hill in Peacock, some Lang Jawoll, and another skein of Mountain Colors Glacier Peak for the gift socks for the person with really big feet I mentioned in my last entry. At one point during my frustrated search for something, anything I really liked at A Wool Gathering, my husband whispered “Enhance your stash” in my ear. So I did, thanks to Ellen.

Speaking of socks, the next Six Sox knitalong socks are Fluted Bannister Socks – I happen to have some Sockotta, which is what Susan knit the model in, and I’m very suggestible when it comes to yarn. [FYI: Susan also has an excellent tip for improving the IK Flower Basket Shawl by using a symmetrical decrease – cool.]

Content unrelated to knitting, but I want one: sock dog instructions.

Content related to knitting, because Audrey is on my list of sweaters I should already be wearing: Audrey neckband instructions.

And also from the “sweaters I like more than I thought” department: Vivian Hoxbro’s Wine Leaves jacket (that’s actually the pullover – this is the jacket, but I like the pullover colorway. I am not normally swayed by the newfangled (even modular knitting, which is not really all that fangled), but that’s beautiful!

But in the end, it all comes back to socks: I like a tasteful sock just fine, but these Bib Overalls socks from Blackberry Ridge are so cute I may just have to make them.

The love affair continues.

My love affair with Lamb’s Pride Bulky Superwash continues; because my charity knitting group will meet next Sunday, I took this week to devote my spare moments to a hat and mittens much like the ones I worked on before the holidays. Or more accurately, those two hats would have been a hat and mitten set had my parents’ dog not snacked on hat #1.

Tra-la-la – unafraid of threats to my knitting, I knit on, and this is the result – a hat and half a mitten for some lucky little boy. I made this hat even more stylish by using markers to make the necessary crown decreases at regular intervals – et voila, decorative feature! I know, everyone plans their decreases, but I felt like I was splitting the atom.

You could call this hat and mitten “the outerwear of procrastination”, because I am interested in finishing the back of my Lush sweater…but I realized that there’s a row of twisted stitches a good ten inches below the ones I fixed in my last update. Do I leave the twisted stitches, or reknit the back? The deal I have made is that I must knit the front and the sleeves before I decide whether or not to frog the back back (ha!), so I think the plan is to put the back on a holder and on hold while I move on to the front. I am knitting faster these days, but I still can’quite face undoing a week and a half worth of work.

When I’m ready to sew everything together, here is Lucy Neatby’s excellent mattress stitch tutorial. The yarn diet continues: best explanation of yarn dieting philosophy ever. And, in the knitting from my stash department: Super Quick Reversible One Skein Wool-Ease Scarf – I will use up that Wool-Ease yet! Best for last, what looks like an incredibly easy way to start a toe-up sock with a square toe – you know it has to be good if some folks on the socknitters list called it the “cheater’s toe.” Hee.

The crabby knitter.

First of all, let me say that there should be no such thing as a crabby knitter – you should knit what you love and discard guilt faster than dirty socks. And yet?

Exhibit one: the Bucket-O-Chic. How excited I was to finish this – finally my sweet husband would have a hip, cool hat – we’re short on hip here, so we’ll take all we can get. The Pastaza felted quickly and beautifully, my husband tried the hat on and proclaimed it the right size, and yet…

When we started blocking it, it was clear that not all was right in hat-ville; per, the instructions, the brim felted less than the body of the hat, and it looked slightly too long to me. And the blocked hat has a distinct “I’m going on safari in the African bush” feeling to it. It is as un-buckety as a bucket hat can be. See? And let me be clear: as I said to Bonne Marie when I e-mailed her in a panic, the fault is all mine. She suggested another “bath” and re-blocking, which I am desperate to do – the hat currently mocks me from its perch in the kitchen…but, my husband loves it. It’s not clear to me whether he actualy loves it, or simply loves it because I made it, but the grief-stricken look in his eyes when I said I wanted to fix it told me I was facing an uphill battle on more than one front. The hat and my husband are in cahoots, but I’ll win, one way or another.

Exhibit B: My Cabled Rib swatch. Oh, the Blackwater Abbey yarn is so lovely, and I am cabling without a cable needle, and following my first tiny charted pattern, and it’s all good, except… My gauge is too loose, and I now require two new circular needles for the cabled cardigan instead of one. No, I do not have size 4 needles or size 3 and no, I do not have any discretionary cash until I get paid on January 31. Why? Well, well, I bought yarn. More Koigu, to be exact (close observers will note that I already own 2 skeins, stashed away. Yes, that’s right – sucked in by two skeins of Koigu KPPM in colorway 116. My heart is beginning to swell once again with thoughts of Latifa, and I simply could not leave Fine Points without this yarn. Whether I Latifa or sock with it, it belongs to me now. This is the yarn that almost put me on a yarn diet. There is such a thing as too much! Must. buy. yarn. with. project. in. mind. Though if you’re going to stash yarn, you could do worse than Koigu.

Exhibit C: My top-down raglan (pictures forthcoming, that’s how much I care). It languishes, and I regard it with mounting guilt as I consider starting the turtleneck in Lush; I haven’t even divided for the sleeves yet! I love the Ballybrae, but the gauge is tiny, and it feels a lot like the cabled rib yarn, and it’s going so slowly and… I’m babbling because I want to come up with a reason to set it aside, perhaps (gasp) even frog it and look for a more exciting pattern. The Lush is so soft, the color so bright, and I could wear a turtleneck right now because it’s so cold here!

That sounds like a blurb from a self-help book: “Knitters Who Love the Sweaters They Might Frog.”

Three needles, four needles…whatever it takes.

Progress is being made on the Bucket O’Chic – the three-needle bind off was helped mightily by these illustrated instructions from Sweaterscapes; it almost seemed easy. As did picking up stitches – I refined my “pick up and knit” technique and this looks much smoother than the stitches picked up for my felted bag. So pick up I did, and off I went on the bucket brim: 4…5…6 rows of 9. More than half done! And then I looked more closely at my seam. Don’t you think I should have put the seam on the inside? That sound you hear is me giving the big old Homer Simpson “D’OH!” A big dopeslap for me, and I’m sitting here right now trying to decide:

Do I rip out the brim and the bindoff, and correct the seam?

Why? What’s the point of trying to do “seamless” work if it looks like it’s a two-needle hat? It will felt down, but it will always look like a big old (ugly) seam. Say it with me: “D’OH!”

Why not? The hat’s recipient (my husband) does not care about the seam, and gallantly refers to it as a “design feature”. And, have I mentioned that I’m more than half done?

On the bright side, I have once again called on my good internet karma and scored some Classic Elite Lush to make the turtleneck from Family Circle Easy Knitting, Fall 2002 (inspired by Amy’s love for this sweater – look for “Lush Pullover”). Nearly half price, which makes angora even more lovely. I love EBay, in all it’s weirdness. I can’t wait for the yarn to get here.

While I’m deciding what to do about my seam, and waiting for my yarn, I think I’ll swatch for the Cabled Rib Cardigan from Men in Knits – I can’t overstate how much I like this book, really. And Blackwater Abbey’s Bluestack is beautiful, don’t you think?

Note: this entry title is a reference to a line from Mr. Mom with Michael Keaton: “Are you going to use a 220 connection on that?” “220, 221 – whatever it takes.”