Hurricane Florence & Working with Yarn Again

IMG_3598We have had the most glorious weather here in Maine in the last few weeks. It’s hard to believe that at the same time we were having beautiful sunrises, a few hundred miles south, a hurricane has soaked several states!

My heart goes out to those who have been affected by Hurricane Florence. I have one friend and customer who was in harm’s way and was evacuated and I have a few family members down south who certainly will see a lot of rain. It has to be frightening and even heartbreaking to have your home flooded. While the stuff can be replaced and life is the most important thing, it’s still a lot of loss to bear. It sure seems that we have been seeing more huge storms over the last decade or so.

I’m so grateful for my dry, safe home and I’m so glad that I have been able to do some knitting again. Short sessions of knitting and crochet helps my elbow/arm to continue to heal without hurting. I’m thrilled to have yarn in my hands!

IMG_3623On my crochet hook, the Virus Shawl. This is a free pattern on Ravelry. It’s really just a crochet chart but there is a series of several very good tutorials that help you get started if you’re a beginner like me. Initially, I was going to use some stashed Noro Kureon Sock  (above) to make this shawl but it was so sticky that I had trouble working with it. It might be something I go back to because I love the colors! I practiced the first few sets on it and ultimately I chose some Malabrigo Sock in the Kandombe colorway to make my (first) Virus Shawl.

img_3621.jpg

I’ve been slowly making progress on my Sleeping Cedars baby sleeper sacque. This is a gift for a new baby who is arriving in late fall. I am knitting with Universal Yarn’s Adore (machine wash and dry but still mostly merino wool) in a the Cloud Gray colorway (color #105). I really like working with this yarn.

I am fairly certain that the gauge was spot on but this garment looks a little bit on the large size for a newborn. It might be more a 3-6 months size. I guess time will tell.

This is a fun knit. The body of this garment is knit in one piece from the bottom to the underarms and then split for the front and back. The lace detail on the front is just perfect. I love it. I finished the body by seaming the shoulders and then picked up the stitches for the sleeves. I’ve completed one sleeve and started the second and my working yarn is looking like it’ll be a good game of yarn chicken. I think finishing the collar will be nearly impossible. (Emphasis on THINK!) Fortunately I have an extra ball on layaway at my LYS (where I work!)

IMG_3594

Last but not least, I am very slowly working on my Frosting Shawl in Manos’ Alegria yarn. (Click through to the Ravelry pattern page and you’ll see why!) This shawl is super simple with a reversible cable on the edge of rows and rows of garter stitch. What appealed to me about this shawl was first, the yarn and then the tassels!!! When I saw it on (I think) Facebook, I recognized the colorway and I knew that I was going to buy that yarn and knit this shawl! I would have been so upset had it been sold on my day off! I have an extra hank on layaway at work just in case I want to make it larger than the pattern suggests. I love Alegria! It has a wonderfully soft hand and I love the colors. I have several other hanks that will one day be socks … they’re going to be the best socks! The winding job that I did was less than satisfactory and I had to undo a huge knotty mess in the middle of my knitting so I will have a few extra ends to weave in! I’ll be happy to wear this shawl when it’s finally done.

This “not knitting a lot” stuff really is a challenge for me! I really am grateful that I am able to knit at all and I really want to heal completely! I find I am reading a lot more and I have been doing a bit of sewing, too. My Christmas gifts for all of our kids are going to be sewn this year. Not knitted! But I can’t tell you anything more about this for now. I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag!

I hope we will all be kind to each other while we clean up and recover from Hurricane Florence. So many people are going to need every kindness we can muster. Our country is experiencing some of the nastiest times I’ve seen in my sixty years. It bothers me that the people we’ve elected to lead us are behaving like children and that they seem unable to work together for the benefit of those who they serve. I hope you’ll consider calling your elected officials and let them know how you feel about their behavior.

Gone (not) knitting!

 

 

UFOs Finished!

Like any “good” knitter, I tend to put off finishing projects that I don’t really want to do “right now”. I have a complete sweater sitting in time out waiting for me to seam it. A full sweater. One that I would like to wear but I really don’t love finishing sweaters. This one will take maybe 2 hours to finish … after many more hours than that of knitting it. Regardless, while the sweater sits in time out, I have begun and finished several projects.

Pussy Cat Hats in Pink and Gray … my pattern

Two Pussy Cat hats or Kit Kat hats. One is bright pink for those days when I feel like taking a stand and the other is grey for those days when I want to stand firm but not bring attention to myself. I like they way these worked out. I used Plymouth Yarns Encore Chunky yarn for both hats. Normally, I’d rather knit with natural fibers but these hats are soft and chunky and they knit up super quickly. I also can wash and dry them in my machine. I sent my original hat that I knit in Malabrigo Rios worsted yarn to my future son-in-law. He wanted a hat and I was happy to send mine and knit another for myself.

The pattern is mine.

Queen Bee Knits Pussy Hat

 

With bulky yarn and US 10 16″ circular needle, cast on 72 stitches. K2, P2 ribbing for 12 rounds. Knit around until hat is 9″ from cast on edge. Use a 3-needle bind off to cast off all stitches. Weave in ends. 

 

Feel free to use the pattern for personal use. If you want to give away hats, that’s fine. Please don’t sell these hats. Thank you.

A cowl for a customer. I have a customer who loves my knitted accessories. I’ve knitted her three or four tams in different weights and now a cabled cowl. The latest is a Bandana Cowl from Purl Soho which is a free pattern on Revelry or the Purl Soho website. She didn’t understand that the picture of the cabled cowl wasn’t really how a cowl worked. She was wanting a “dickey” that will sit down on her chest and around her neck rather than a cowl that solely goes around the neck. I’ve finished this one is Cascade 128 Superwash in a lovely teal colorway. It will match the hat that I just made her. She still wants another pair of hats. One in a yellow Cascade 128 and another in a Noro yarn.

I also finished the first block of my Cascade Knitterati Afghan MKAL. I love doing things that are a little bit different. I am not knitting with the same colors that the KAL is recommending (why would I do that?) but have picked one colorway so far that is a dark Granny Smith apple green. I’ve loved the color from afar for a long time and it’s high time to use it somewhere. Squares two and three have been released. I’ll likely knit square three before two because it’s a single color square and I have a single color yarn.

I have been knitting dish cloths for the daughters. It all started with sending three to my children at Christmas time. Daughter #1 asked for more so that they aren’t using paper towels any longer. They’ve been sent. In the meantime, I’ve knitted a few more for Daughter #2. And then I’ve knitted three tiny ones for the little California nieces. I’ve got to mail them away soon. The pattern is Grandma’s Favorite Dish Cloth and it’s a free Rarely pattern. These are all Lily Sugar and Cream yarns one is a pink camouflage colorway and the other simply made me think “Valentines Day”!

Fornicating Deer Hat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speaking of Valentine’s Day, I made my handsome and bald hubby a hat for Valentine’s Day this year. I used a navy and a gray worsted wool by Lamb’s Pride. A long time ago, I saw a chart on Pinterest and I saved it. It made me laugh and it is totally my husband’s sense of humor. It’s called the Fornicating Deer chart by Ann Rutten. It’s on Ravelry. Needless to say, I didn’t have a pattern to go with the chart but I looked at my expected gauge and decided to knit three repeats of the chart. I also decided that once the deer were finished that I would do my decreases and not finish the entire chart. He likes caps that fit tightly but cover his ears. When he came home after work the first day he wore it, he said, “hey hon, now I really have sex on the brain!” Yup. I think he loves his hat.

Oh, I need a better camera. The color is way off!

I do love to finish projects! Today I hope to finish a pair of bright orange work socks (the picture doesn’t come close to the bright “hunting orange” color) for my husband. He loves to wear the thick, warm Raggi yarn socks to work. He works outside in Maine in the winter. Enough said?

Gone knitting!

Laughing All the Way

I have had a wonderful experience teaching three wonderful students a stranded knitting class. We made “my” Four Needle Snowflake Mittens. These are my favorite mittens to date. I love knitting them. The pattern came from my colleague and teacher, Bette. It’s an old and often-copied pattern but it’s a great one!

At our last class, I was explaining the difference between mittens that are the same (can be worn on either hand) and mittens that are knitted specifically for either the left or right hand. I pulled out my finished pair of mittens to show the ladies what I was talking about  and …img_7658

Do you see the problem?

How about now?

img_7657

Ha! Ha! Ha! It’s so good that I have learned how to laugh at myself! I realized that I had knitted TWO LEFT MITTENS!!! What a teachable moment! Even the teacher can make mistakes!

I’ve shared this story with everyone at work, my other classes and just about everyone that I have spoken to and every single time I laugh. Out loud! I still find it hilarious!

Since these were to be a Christmas gift for a very special person who happens to have a left and a right hand, I have had to finish a third mitten … this one is for the other hand! LOL. My students continue to teach me as much as I teach them!

Now, I’ve got them fixed – and the fourth mitten will be finished after I complete another pair. Wait until you see them!

img_7681

Today’s lesson learned – never take yourself too seriously!

Gone knitting.

I Heart Aran – Nearing the Finish Line

img_7413

I Heart Aran by Tanis Fiber Arts – blocking!

I started knitting the I Heart Aran sweater by Tanis Fiber Arts in early September. It’s a 32nd birthday gift for my eldest daughter. I’m not sure how she got to be so old when I remain young and nearly the same age as she! Kate chose the sweater pattern from Ravelry and this was the one she loved the most. This morning I finished the knitting and it’s blocked. Woo! Hoo!

I was gifted the yarn by my sister-in-law, Annie, who found it and some purple at an estate or garage sale several years ago. For ten dollars! She’s a very thoughtful person and I’m delighted to be able to make a sweater with five of the ten skeins of ivory/aran color that she gave me which leaves several skeins for me to make something for Annie! It’s Shetland by Jaeger (80% wool, 20% alpaca 100 g/166m). The hand on this yarn is wonderfully soft thanks to the alpaca. It was great to knit with – not splitty and no little bits of wool all over my dark jeans. Because it’s an Aran weight yarn and the sweater was rather small, it knit up in no time at all. It helped, too, because the sleeves and back are all a very simple, almost boring, stockinette. If I were going to knit this sweater again, I’d consider adding a cable up the sleeves or on the back or both. The stitch definition is amazing and there is enough wool so that the sweater shouldn’t stretch out (or grow!)

Superior Stitch Definition

Superior Stitch Definition

I used my good old Hiya Hiya Interchangeable needles with the US6 and US8 tips. I used the US6 tips only for the sleeve ribbing and chose to use the US8 (not the US6 as written in the pattern) because I don’t love sweaters with very tight ribbing at the waist. Hiya Hiya Interchangeables are decent needles. The join is mostly smooth. The tips could be pointier.  They were ok for this project because the yarn is heavy enough and the cables weren’t too tight. I chose to knit flat on my circular needles. You could also have knitted this on straight needles.

A good set of schematics make blocking so much simpler!

A good set of schematics make blocking so much simpler!

One of the things I liked about this pattern is that it had a perfect schematic so that when I was blocking (and knitting) I knew exactly what the measurements were to be. This makes my life as a pattern-follower so much easier than when I have to go back into the pattern to decide what the measurements are – and Tanis even added the measurement that is supposed to be across the neck (3″) to eliminate any guesswork. Thank you! The directions were clear and concise.

There was only one place where I was unsure of the directions and I think it was the knitter not the instructions after a quick discussion with knitwear designer Lori Versaci of VersaciKnits.

If it says, “Dec every 8 rows”, you should make the first decrease after 8 rows. If the designers means for you to make the first dec on the next row then start every 8 rows, the directions should say, “Dec on next and then every 8 rows” or something like that!

– Lori Versaci, VersaciKnits

Fortunately, I had figured it out because the decrease instructions all happened on the RS (right side) rows which meant that it was going to have to happen on rows 1 and 9 not on row 8. Being thoughtful, taking a pause to think about my knitting answered the question for me. A life lesson put to use in my knitting yet again.

I block everything on my guest room bed. Today I have two projects blocking – a hat for a customer and the sweater. I can’t wait until it’s dry and can be assembled and I can knit the collar. Then we can choose a button on Tuesday when I’m at the yarn shop and send it off to Kate who is in rehearsal for Carousel which will open later this month at the Arena Stage in Washington, DC. I know it’s sweater weather in Maine (at least in the morning and afternoon) but I’m not sure about the Washington area.

I’ll show you the finished garment in a day or two!

Gone knitting.

Mukluks

imageI bought a pattern earlier this summer to make a pair of slipper socks for a former student to whom I had become very attached. I knitted them up and sent them off to Florida. A few days later I got a picture on Facebook with her wearing them. Mom reports that she loves them. I’m so glad. Recently I made a pair of baby booties for my new niece Lilah Wise and I wanted to make something for my niece Faye Carleton, the big sister. When her mom told me that her feet were pretty big, I decided that these mukluks were a good idea. And I had the yarn in my stash in the cabin. (I totally miss my yarn stash that is in storage and I can’t wait to get it back and organized in my new studio in our new house. But I digress.)

The Childrens Mukluks pattern by Diane Soucy are really cute, quick to knit up in a bulky yarn, and I think they’re a.so super toasty. The pattern is a classic with clear directions to follow. Starting in the center of the sole, the foot is knitted first from the sole and then the toe with a seam sewn at the very end. The first part is done on US 7 straight needles. Once the foot is finished, the cuffs are knitted in the round on DPNs. Several rounds of knit and purl make up a cuff that looks like Alaskan mukluks; a little bit poofy as if they were made of animal hides in the good old days. I think I’m good with knitting mine!

There is a similar pimageattern for adults and I would suggest that if you want to knit a simple and warm winter gift for someone else or for you, pick this one. It’s quite remarkable. I plan to buy and knit the adult slippers for at least one adult this Christmas!

The colors of the yarn don’t really show up as they really are but as I was knitting the tiny ones for Faye, I realized they were in “Frozen” colors (think Elsa and Anna) and these have started a very dangerous Frozen-themed gift buying spree. I am heading to California on Thursday to meet my nieces for the first time. I’m so excited!!!

Gone knitting!

Needles, Needles, Needles

I’m working a lot knitting socks. Trying some new patterns and trying different needles, too.

Knitter's Pride Dreamz DPN

Knitter’s Pride Dreamz DPN

I have a set of new Knitter’s Pride “dreamz” 6-inch double pointed needles in US1 (2.25mm) needles and they’re going to help me knit up some wonderful socks using  Susan B. Anderson’s “How I Make My Socks” pattern and Patons Kroy Socks in Spring Leaf Stripes colorway (that I’ve had in my stash for a few months.) I am really liking these needles. They are smooth but not slippery. The tips are pointy enough but I’d like to have a little more tip … they are almost rounded off at the tip rather than pointy and pointy is better when you’re using fine yarns. At this price point, however, they are very reasonable and they are nice to work with.

Signature Needle Arts DPN

Signature Needle Arts DPN

My other socks are on my Signature Needle Arts 6-inch US1 DPNs. (One of which I seem to have lost already. I am hoping that I left it at the office on Friday and that I will find it when I return tomorrow. You’ll understand why one would worry about the loss of one needle when you are told that I paid $48 for a set of four needles. Thus, one needle is valued at $12 which, by the way, is more than a set of 5 Dreamz needles.) The yarn that I am using is Gale’s Art Wonder Sock in the Graffiti colorway. I love this yarn’s color and it was one that I fell in love with and went to buy immediately after casting my eyes upon it. That doesn’t happen often. The Signature needles, while pricey, are worth every cent. I love the stiletto points and the yarn slips easily over them without slipping off them. I’d say that these are my favorites and I will collect more as my pocketbook allows.

I’ve had many (many!) sets of needles over the course of my knitting career. From the “cheap-o” needles that you can buy on sale at the big box craft stores to my pricey Signatures. I bought my first boxed set of needles at a half-price going out of business sale in Cincinnati, Ohio. I thought spending $50 for a set of Denise Interchangeable Needles was a huge expense. And I loved the needles. Until I discovered Addis! Addi cords were so much more flexible and they’ve been through several iterations since my first circular needles. One summer I bought a set of HIya Hiya needles (around $70- $80?) and I fell in love again. The transition between the needles and cords were much smoother than the Denise needles and the single circs that I bought here and there. No matter what brand of bamboo circular needle I seemed to buy, the transitions were often rough.

And then one  year I took some classes with Annie Modesitt and discovered Signatures. I’ve often asked for them for my birthday and Christmas and mother’s day, too. I tend to buy 40″ circulars because I can use them in magic loop in so many applications. I have one pair of straights and one pair of their DPNs. They are all magnificent and the tips are nice and pointy.

Limited Edition Knitter's Pride Dreamz (well worn!)

Limited Edition Knitter’s Pride Dreamz (well worn!)

I was gifted one more lovely set of needles a couple of Christmases ago. They are a limited edition set of Knitter’s Pride Dreams interchangeable circular needles. They have been so well used for so often (and taken with me when I travel or teach) that the box is starting to show some wear. I love the needles. The cords are nice and flexible and the transitions are mostly smooth. I have a couple of needles that are not as smooth as others. But, over all, this set is a decent price point and they are pretty colors and they are great to knit with.

Needles, like friends, are a personal choice. We all have our favorites or besties. None are “bad”, some are better for different projects. Have you ever travelled with a friend who you can only take in small doses or one who snores? It makes travel a challenge! Needles are the same! When you have the wrong needles, your project will be a challenge. I like to use bamboo with “slippery” yarn (like mohair). I use circulars for almost everything these days but I still like to knit socks on DPNs, too.

Variety is the spice of life, right?

Gone knitting.

A Hare Pair (Rabbit Hat by Jane Terrza)

IMG_4456I have had this ball of white-ish yarn (Oasis Farm Fiber Mill “Bunny Yarn”) in my stash for years. It’s tried to be a scarf a couple of times and, subsequently, frogged. I had set it aside because I didn’t know what it wanted to be. Until I saw the Rabbit Hat by Jane Terrza on Facebook one morning a couple of weeks ago.

I have two adorable nieces in northern California and I just HAD to make the Rabbit Hats for them for Easter!

I used the following yarns from my stash for the hats: Oasis Farm Fiber Mill Classic Bunny in white. I had two skeins that I wound into one huge cake. I used about half of the two skein cake for both hats. (Don’t you love knitting for children and babies?) I needed something pink for the inside of the ears in a similar weight. I had a skein of Lorna’s Laces Sportweight wool in a very pale pink (pale pink colorway, I think) that I won in a contest for a soapbox package. It was perfect!

First Hat

First Hat

The first hat was the larger of the two and I made it as the pattern was written with a kitchener stitch graft at the top of the hat and reverse stockinette on the inside of the ears (the pink part).

Reverse stockinette inside the ears

Reverse stockinette inside the ears

The pattern was easy to follow and the hat is adorable. The hat is knit in the round and the ears are knit in two pieces each from stitches placed on stitch holders. Once knitted, the ears are seamed. Easy enough.

What I found “awkward” was that all of the decreases for the ears were all done as K2tog. It seemed to me that the top of the hat could be more easily seamed with a 3 needle bind off rather than kitchener stitch and be nearly as pretty (and take a lot less time to seam). I guess it will be up to you to decide what you want to do but I wanted to share with you what I did with the second little hat for the baby sister!

Hat 2

Hat 2

I knit the hat just as the pattern was written. (I happen to love a little rolled brim on a hat!)

The changes that I made came in the top seam and the ears.

For the top of the hat, I did a 3 needle bind off. Next time I would turn the hat inside out first but I am not unhappy with the little seam on the top of the hat. I took a bit of time to adjust the stitches onto holders … I had to knit the first six stitches to get the yarn into the right place to bind off the top of the hat but otherwise, it was a cinch!

I knit the ears with a K2tog (knit two together) decrease for a right-leaning decrease on the left sides of the ear pieces and a SSK (slip slip knit) decrease for a left-leaning decrease on the right sides of the ear pieces rather than always using a K2tog decrease as written in the pattern. I think this looks a little bit prettier.  I also was thinking about treating the ear as one piece circularly and carrying the contrasting yarn across. I decided to seam them instead to save the yarn. (Hey! I am a Yankee at heart!)

Stockinette inside the ears … by mistake but it still looks cute.

Stockinette inside the ears … by mistake but it still looks cute.

Because it was the second hat, I wasn’t paying attention to the pattern directions and totally forgot about the reverse stockinette on the inside of the ears. As a result, they are stockinette stitch. And it’s fine. Bonus! I find the seaming easier this way.

Since I was using natural fibers, I steam blocked both hats and made sure the pink insides of the ears were “hugged” by the creamy white backs of the ears all around. I think they are adorable and can’t wait to see my little nieces wearing them!

A Pair of Hare Hats … blocked and heading to California!

A Pair of Hare Hats … blocked and heading to California!

Which one do you like best? The pattern can be found on Ravelry and is a minimal charge … buy the pattern and support the designer!

Gone knitting!