While I’m at my Desk This Morning

Let me update you on the week I’ve had. It was busy and full as usual but with a bit of an added twist … we think it was food poisoning!

This week on Messalonskee

Friday night I woke up with my heart beating (what I thought was) extra fast. Fast enough that I felt unsure of what was happening and a bit fearful, to be totally honest. I got up out of bed and got a glass of water, sat in the living room for a bit until I decided I needed to be close to my dear hubby in case something bad happened. My arms and legs and head felt “fuzzy” (tingly?) and I woke him up, asking him to call 911. Fortunately he waited a minute or two because I realized I was going to vomit … all the blood was going to my stomach! I have never realized how my body works so efficiently! (Ha!) Soon, I was feeling better and we went back to bed and to sleep, my heart returning to its normal rate. Yesterday I spent the day in my PJs. I was tired enough to take a nap and miss a call from my dear daughter. Napping is not something I do unless I’m not feeling well (needless to say, it doesn’t happen often!)

Today, I am feeling much better, thank goodness! I dare say, I feel “normal” again. I’ve been up at my desk playing catch-up. I needed to write a newsletter for work, add a bunch of new people to the store email list, writing a membership article for our lake association newsletter, etc. and I figured I’d let you know what’s happening in my knitting world.

#295 Bulky Baby Pullover

I finished the baby sweater, Diane Soucy’s Bulky Baby Pullover, for a special little baby. This completes the gift that will be sent off sometime soon. Baby isn’t due for a few more weeks but I want him to have it when he’s born. He’s moving from Florida to Colorado in January and he’ll need a bunch of warm clothes! I really enjoyed knitting with this chunky yarn and because it’s easy care, the new mom won’t have to stress about washing. Once the gift has been received, I’ll post pictures of the gift in its entirety.

Tin Can Knits The World’s Simplest Mittens

This is a custom order from a wonderful customer (and friend) for her grandsons. Mittens! Here in Maine we all need at least a pair of warm mittens in the winter (and sometimes in the fall, too.) These mittens are knit in Berroco’s Ultra Wool Chunky and, as such, they knit up really quickly. If my mind could concentrate, I’d have finished a pair in a day. I love the Ultra Wool yarns for their superwash ease and their heft. These will be warm mittens. The pattern, another free Tin Can Knits pattern on Ravelry, is really simple and is written for fingering, DK, worsted and chunky yarns (so, any gauge, really). If you don’t have my vintage mittens pattern, you need this one. And frankly, if you want to knit mittens in any gauge, this is a good pattern. Peruse the other free or paid Tin Can Knits patterns, they’re all pretty special!

Fingerless Mitts in purple

I have offered to make some fingerless mitts for the Maine Arts Academy to use to incentivize students at times. Or, frankly, to use in any manner that the administration sees fit. There may be a student who needs some love and that’s ok, too. So, I’ve knitted the mitts with some stashed Patons Classic Wool yarn in a deep purple colorway. My plan is to add some snowflakes to the back of the hands to make them a bit more interesting. This will be an ongoing opportunity for me to knit down some of my stash and to give back to the MeAA community. It’s a wonderful school of which I feel so privileged to be a part. (I know that’s grammatically correct, but gee, it sure sounds stuffy, doesn’t it?)

These mitts are based on the vintage pattern seen in the photograph. This is a classic mitten pattern that I knit to the knuckles or wherever I deem fit to stop knitting and add a few rows of ribbing. Simple, clear and include sizes for children and adults. I love this book and when I retire and have more time (does that ever happen?) I will knit all the things in the book. The mitten pattern itself is free on Ravelry but you can buy the whole book at Yardgoods Center in Waterville, Maine 207-872-2118 … we’ll send it out to you if you don’t live nearby! You might even talk to me!

I’ll post a few more pictures when I get the ends woven in and the snowflakes added.

Gone knitting …

Nearly Done

This is my Neck Down Summer Cardigan by Knitting Pure and Simple. It is nearly done! I’ll be excited to get it off the needles when I complete the button band and front band. Which I am determined to do today!

I am knitting this sweater with a stashed yarn. A deeply stashed yarn that I have been carrying around with me for almost ten years. It may, in truth, be more than ten years. I don’t really remember. Anyway … the yarn is Elsebeth Lavold’s Tweedy Wool. It’s a (light) worsted weight yarn in wool with a bit of acrylic and viscose (the flecks). I’ve liked knitting with this yarn and the sweater is ok … I’m not sure I love the color any more but I’ll wear it … I think. 🙂

My swatch came out a bit off from the gauge recommended for the pattern. I decided to make the x-large rather than the large to compensate for my swatch rather than to change the needle size because I liked the way the fabric was when I knitted it on a US 7 needle. I wouldn’t have liked the fabric had I knitted with a larger needle.

The front bands shouldn’t use any more than the rest of one ball of yarn so I’m going to go out on a limb and say I used seven balls (50g, 136 yards each) of yarn to finish this sweater. It’s really cute and I’ll make it again. Initially, I just needed a good travel project … now I have a spring sweater. I think it’d be a fun one to knit in a solid yarn and embellish with some embroidery.

Knitting tip: When knitting the sleeve of this sweater, I wanted it to be around elbow length or just a touch shorter. Touching the top of the elbow. I alternated decreases, knitting two rounds, decrease a round and then knitting one round until I had 80 stitches. I did six rounds of ribbing so it wouldn’t roll and then bound off … but I bound off with the larger needle so I had some stretch! I don’t like it one little bit when the edge of knitted garments aren’t stretchy! This worked like a charm. Typically, when I am knitting garments, socks, etc. I bind off with a needle that is one or, in this case, two sizes larger than the one I was knitting with. I used a US7 for the body of the sweater and a US5 for the ribbing. I bound off with the US7.

My new favorite needles are the Chaio Goo Red Lace needles. I have three circulars. I used them all for this sweater and they make me happy. The tips are wonderful but the best part is the cords that have no memory and don’t get all tangled up in themselves. I’ll be buying more!

Gone knitting!

Camden Hills Poncho

IMG_2486I have another finished object! My Camden Hills Poncho is done, done, done! It’s even blocked and ends woven in done!

I really enjoyed knitting this poncho. It’s a very simple design with just enough detail in the lace at the bottom front and the neck to make the knitting interesting and then a lot of stockinette stitches to finish it up.

The bottom front and back are knitted flat and then joined to knit in the round from the bottom to the top. No sleeves (sometimes it’s really nice to not have sleeves!) to worry about or attach at the end. This was a very satisfying knit and I’m thrilled to be able to wear it to work this week!

IMG_2487I knit mine in Berroco Ultra Wool in the Beetroot (33151) colorway. I used five balls nearly to the inch! I love this yarn. It’s a true worsted and it feels really nice while your knitting but it blooms really beautifully when it’s blocked. I also love the color of the beetroot. It’s a deep beet red. It seems to be the color of the year in my wardrobe!

Complete information is available on my Ravelry project page.

Gone knitting!

Girasol

Girasol by Jared F

Girasol by Jared Flood

I’m so in love with this project that I want to marry it!

Three of us in the Wednesday night knitting class (plus our teacher) decided to knit the Girasol Shawl in the worsted weight version which makes an afghan. I really (REALLY!) loved knitting this and it wasn’t difficult. I loved knitting it so much that I absolutely will knit another one.

Girasol by Jared Flood is written for fingering/lace weight or worsted weight yarns. I think you could knit it in any weight of your choosing with appropriately sized needles. And they will all be gorgeous! The pattern is available on Ravelry.

The pattern itself is clear and well written and a cinch to follow. The most “difficult” part, in my opinion, is the cast on which is Emily Ocker’s Circular Cast On. I’m sharing Jimmy Bean’s Wool’s tutorial with the ever delightful Jeanne. Watch it a couple of times before attempting this cast on. It’s a beauty – for starting any project in the middle of a circle (hats from the top down, lace shawls, etc.) Sheer genius and it sits flat when pulled closed.

This cast on is originally in Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Knitter’s Almanac (a wonderful book, by the way. EZ had a most unique and visionary knitting technique.) It’s available on Amazon.com … click on the image below and you’ll be magically transported! (You’re welcome, of course!)

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If you’re serious about knitting, you have to read EZ. Seriously! Anyway, back to Girasol …

I used Cascade 220 Superwash (because who wants a huge, wool-stinky, wet afghan to dry? Although, truth be told, I’m thinking of using wool for the next one. I may be crazy!) in a light grey tweed-y colorway. I love grey as a neutral and this will, theoretically, live in my atelier where I can throw it over my legs or fold it in half and wear it over my shoulders on a cold evening. Mine took nine balls (the pattern asks for eight and I may knit a bit loosely.) The edge stitches were (a little bit) boring – it’s knitted on the edge as you bind off and three stitches are “eaten up” when you knit six rows. There are 640 stitches. Got it? 🙂

The pattern calls for a US 9 circular needle and DPNs. I started with the DPN and then went to a 24 inch wire and then to a 32 inch wire and ended up with a sixty inch wire which was really a little bit too long. But it worked. I used my fabulous Dreamz interchangeable needles by Knitters Pride. I love them.

If you choose to knit this gloriously beautiful shawl/afghan, watch out and be aware when you start the edging. Just saying. I was in the car and everything was all bunched up and I started with the wrong side facing me and the edging on my blanket is “backward”. I think it’s very fitting, actually, and I chose to leave it that way.

Knit this pattern. I’m not kidding. You’ll love it. I can’t wait to see what mine looks like after it’s blocked … which will have to wait until our house is finished and furnished. Soon enough and I will be using it unblocked until that time. My knitting group is doing a Girasol for one of our members’ mother-in-law who recently lost her husband. I’m looking forward to my turn knitting!

Gone knitting.

Pouches Rock!

My second Wonderful Wallaby is off the needles. This one for my sister-in-law to give to a friend who is expecting a new baby in April. She requested it in pink … and since I was at the Black Sheep (teaching), I ran right back to the yarn room to see what was available in a baby-friendly pink that’s not too pink. (Because as much as I love pink for little girls, I also know that they get a lot … a LOT … of pink gifts.) And voila! I loved this one …

Ta-daaa! My yarn choice!

Ta-daaa! My yarn choice! Plymouth Yarn “Encore Tweed”

Knitting for babies and children really requires washable yarn. I sometimes break this rule … especially when I’m knitting for people who I know well. But when I am knitting for people I don’t know, I assume that they’ll want garments that are easy to care for. Thus, acrylic or blends are essential. The yarn I chose is Encore Tweed by Plymouth Yarn. It’s a worsted weight blend of 75% acrylic, 22% wool and 3% rayon. Stretchy, soft, washable … and a great price point at $7.50 a ball (I needed three. Color W464, Lot 67839.)

I decided to make the smallest size possible which is a 2T because if the baby is born in April, she will be 8 months old in December and with rolled up sleeves, this size will likely fit well with a little room for growth. I always put my children in sweaters that grew a little bit with them. Because I was knitting a gift, I did knit a swatch for gauge. If it was for me I might not have done that but I wanted it to be sized accurately. And away I went.

Bottom's UP!

Bottom’s UP!

This sweater is constructed from the bottom up and knit in the round. (Hear this, NO seams!) The instructions are very clear and easy to follow. Two needle sizes needed. Sleeves can be knit one- or two-at-a-time which is my preference so that they are sure to be the same size. I’m sorry that I didn’t take a photograph of my sleeves in process. On this particular pattern, I like using scraps of yarn to hold the few stitches for the underarms both on the body of the sweater and the sleeves. (Makes the “pits” very flexible.)

Here’s a great tip! If you start with the sleeves, you can consider them your swatch. For those who don’t like to swatch, you can start your project right off and if your gauge is off you have a lot fewer stitches to pull out.

Splitting up for the neckline

Splitting the stitches for the neckline … and then on to the collar and hood!

The sleeves are attached very simply by stitching them onto your needles along with the sweater body. Decreases all around for the shoulders and we’re getting closer and closer to a finished garment.

At the neckline, the stitches split and you knit back and forth for the neckline and hood (if you choose to add one … and I love children’s hats with hoods!) Again, very simple. The only “glitch” that I can see in the pattern is that there is a repeat of a few knitted stitches on the edge of the hood, which I am too much of a perfectionist to accept. So, I chose to knit all of the edge stitches on one side and purl all edge stitches on the other side. That way, I get a “perfect” edge. You’ll see what I mean when you knit this cutie!

At the end of the hood, you’ll graft all the stitches together with a Kitchener stitch and ta-daa!!! I added a tassel to the hood because I really liked the hassle that I added to the first WW that I knitted for my niece. All you have to do is graft the underarm stitches and all the seaming is done. Don’t you love that!? I sure do! Use a long piece of your seaming yarn to tighten up the “holes” at each side of the underarm. This is a trick you can use in lots of patterns.

IMG_0021

Just a few underarm stitches to graft … that’s it for seaming!

Underarm "holes" are easily tightened up!

Underarm “holes” are easily tightened up!

So, there you have it once again. The Wonderful Wallaby. I love this pattern so much that I am knitting one for myself in oatmeal-colored wool. You can be sure you’ll be seeing it when it’s on the needles!

Wonderful Wallaby in pink!

Wonderful Wallaby in pink!

Queen Bee Knits label is placed on the inside of the bottom … don't want it rubbing baby's neck!

Queen Bee Knits label is placed on the inside of the bottom … don’t want it rubbing baby’s neck!

Tassel … my addition

Tassel … my addition

Gone knitting.

Big Brother’s Slippers

When I was in Louisiana visiting my brother and sister-in-law (I really would rather call her my sister but then that would be confusing), I was asked to help with a knitting project. Kathy had tried to knit a pair of slip-on felted slippers for my brother and kept having a problem. With the cooler weather coming soon (all of us in the south can’t wait for cooler weather in the fall and we’re typically the last to get it!) she didn’t feel like she had the energy or inclination to attempt to learn it and so I picked up her yarn and needles and attacked the project.

Slippers in Process

I have to say, it was a very odd construction method but the finished slippers looked fantastic! The pattern is one that I’ve seen a million times but had never knitted before. It’s Fiber Trends Felt Clogs (designed by Bev Galeskas). It was knitted in a worsted weight wool (I can’t remember what brand it was) doubled throughout the pattern. Kathy had chosen black for the sole and a charcoal gray for the top of the clog. *If you’re a new knitter, this pattern is do-able BUT do not use black! It’s so hard to see the stitches! I’d suggest using two very contrast-y colors! At least the first time!

If you are careful to follow the pattern instructions as they are written, you’ll have a really lovely and warm pair of slippers after felting!

Felting tips –

Put the slippers into a zippered pillow case so that little bits of wool don’t gum up your washing machine. I say this from experience, folks! I’ve paid the repair man to come to fix my machine TWICE!

Washer setting should be hot water cycle. You can add extra hot water by boiling it on your stovetop and adding to the washer. The hotter the water, the quicker the felting will happen. That said, WATCH your slippers carefully … check every ten minutes! It would be very sad if you felted the slippers too much and they’re now too small! You can always felt slippers a bit more to make them smaller but you can’t make them bigger.

Put 3 or 4 pairs of old blue jeans into the washer with your slippers to help them felt better (more evenly and more quickly).

You can use rubber gloves to fish for the slippers in the hot water when you’re checking.

I would also suggest that you wring the slippers instead of letting them go through a spin cycle because sometimes felted garments keep their creases caused by spinning! I like to roll my wet wool items in a towel and step on them to get out the extra water. Then shape with my hands and sit on another towel to dry. If you’re lucky to live in a cool, dry, sunny place, put your wet slippers outside in the sun!

I did knit the double sole for my big brother’s slippers and Kathy is going to add a leather sole, too so that Rick can go outside with his slippers. They turned out really well and I am so happy that I could help my family stay warm this winter!

Finished!

I am looking forward to knitting these again! I have so much great yarn in my stash that will felt well … maybe Christmas gifts?

Gone knitting!

 

Maine Fiber Frolic 2012

It’s pouring and the brave souls who have fiber for sale in tents today … well, suffice it to say, I’m darned glad I went yesterday morning!

I was so engrossed with fibers and chatting with people (mostly vendors this year) that I neglected to take more than one photograph … silly me! Here is the one picture that I did take.

Beautiful critters!

I did happen to make a dent in my yarn budget, too. (The one that doesn’t exist!) Remember my former post where I said that I had brought up enough yarn from my stash in Florida (and patterns, too) to knit for the whole summer? I had promised myself that I wasn’t going to buy a lot of new yarn this summer. Fortunately it was a promise to myself and I’ve blown it!

I’m really excited about my purchases, though! I bought a couple of hanks of “Maine Lobstah” superwash sock yarn. (Clever Maine marketing!) I loved the color way and I have been wanting another sock project … now I have several! This yarn is super soft and I really hope it knits up as nicely as I think it will. Check out Maine Woods Yarn‘s Website!

Maine Woods Yarn & Fiber - Maine "Lobstah" superwash sock

I also splurged on six hanks of Seacolors yarns. These yarns are solar hand-dyed in seawater and it’s a pretty clean and cyclical process. They also happen to come from Washington, Maine where I went to summer camp (many moons ago). So check out Nanne’s site and see what a wonderful business and life she has created in Maine. And if you fall in love with her farm, you can even buy a “share” and spend a week (or more) there each year with Nanne and her precious pups.

I bought three colors: a salmon-y color, a green/salmon-y variegated and a blue. With my purchase I got a free pattern for a “Boxy Cardigan” which I plan to knit up. It will be salmon with some thin blue stripes and then variegated at the bottom. Sleeves will be as long as they decide to be but also likely in the salmon with blue stripes. This one will be unique and special. I just wish I had my winder and swift with me this summer!

Seacolors Yarn

We have the wood stove cranking today and it’s pouring and gray outside. It’s truly a stark difference (even) from yesterday. I’m so glad I chose to go to the Fiber Frolic yesterday … I was a happy camper!

I’m already looking forward to next year!

Gone knitting!