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?

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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!

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

Gone knitting.

On the Needles

I finished my taxes so I treated myself to a new  project!

The Atchafalaya Swamp

The Atchafalaya Swamp

When I was in Louisiana for Spring Break, I taught a couple of classes at the Yarn Nook. It’s a really wonderful shop in Lafayette, LA and it just so happens that my sister-in-love works there. When she knew I was coming for a visit she told the owners and they invited me to teach a class. It is humbling to have them ask me back and I was thrilled to accept.

Teaching aside, Wednesday was a work day for my sister-in-law, Kathy. And of course I went along! Who wouldn’t want to spend the day in a yarn shop?

While I was there, I wandered the shop to check out the yarn, bags, and all the good stuff. I happened to notice a Churchmouse Yarns pattern for a mohair striped wrap. I loved the colors, the feel of the yarn and, the fact is, I’m moving to Maine from Florida and I’m going to need warm clothes. So, all my teaching money (and then some) went to new yarn and pattern rather than gas! I purchased four balls of Rowan Kidsilk Haze Stripe in four different colorways. I’m knitting it with my Knitters Pride Dreams circular needle (US 7) because the yarn is very slippery and it would slip right off my Signature needles!

"Graffiti" Sock #1

“Graffiti” Sock #1

I have a pair of socks that I’m knitting from Susan B. Anderson’s “How I Make my Socks” pattern. The yarn is one that I saw on Susan’s Instagram feed and went immediately to buy from Gale’s Art on Etsy in the Graffiti colorway. I am loving the way the yarn is knitting up and I love the sock pattern. The first sock fits like a glove. (Well, not really, it fits like a sock. And it fits perfectly!) The pattern is super easy to follow and the socks are knitting up in a jiffy!

Frontenac

Frontenac

My Frontenac vest is knitting up bee-utifully and very quickly due to the bulkier weight yarn that I bought. The yarn is Berroco’s Inca Tweed in two colorways: 8901 Playa and 8934 Noche. One is a beige or camel color and the other is a slate gray. The front and over the shoulders will be beige and the back, gray with a turtle neck. It’s a quick and simple knit thus far and I am looking forward to wearing it over a turtleneck shirt with long sleeves when we get up to Maine! Inca Tweed is a yummy soft yarn with just enough tweedy flecks in it to make it interesting. It’s got a little bit of thick and thin going on and it’s not split-y or annoying to knit with. I’m loving this project!

Still in time out is the Lobster Hat that I started up in Maine last summer. It’s a testament to the fact that I don’t like color work and, particularly, I don’t care for carrying the yarns behind the work. I find it tedious. Maybe because I’ve not done enough of it and my tension is sometimes inconsistent but I will finish it one of these days (or years).

I frogged the Olivia Cowl that I started. I was knitting it with some bee-utiful light blue worsted-weight yarn from Swans Island Yarn Company. The yarn is too pretty to be knit into something that I don’t love. Olivia is frogged. The yarn is waiting for my calling.

On my queue are a few other projects … worsted-weight “hiking” socks for my sweetie, a sock-weight hat for him, too. I have a dress that I want to knit, too. And a “boxy” sweater, probably a cardigan, to knit for me. Of course, when I finish my second graffiti sock, I’ll have to start another pair!

Gone knitting!

 

Just So Bag by Andrea Babb

Lace Panel in ProcessLast summer I bought the yarn and pattern to make a Just So Bag. The bag was published in Interweave Knits, Winter 2012. (Back copies can be purchased on Ravelry.)

My knitting “teacher” in Maine had one in a light gray and it was very, very pretty. I wanted to make one for me. They didn’t have the yarn called for in the pattern in a dark gray (Rowan Pure Wool Aran) so we substituted Lambs Pride Worsted. Mine is in the Charcoal Heather color way. Theoretically, a good call. Practically, however, the mohair content … at least in my skeins … was very “fuzzy” and the beautiful stitches in the lace panels are somewhat lost.

If I were to make this pattern again, and I think I probably will, I would be very certain to use a yarn that was NOT fuzzy and in a lighter color. Both will show off the lovely lace in the end panels. And if you’re going to do all the work, you want to choose yarn that accentuates your stitches.

The pattern itself is very straight forward and, done with yarn held doubled, it’s a quick knit. My friend said it was difficult on her hands. It’s a very dense fabric that is constructed on relatively small needles. I had no trouble but someone who has arthritis may find this difficult to knit. One knitter on Ravelry was wise enough to do the body in one piece. Starting with a crochet cast on, she knitted the “front”, picked up the live stitches, knitted a row of reverse stockinette, the base of the bag, another row of reverse stockinette and finally the “back”. Smart thinking! I still don’t love seaming … do you? I’ll try this next time.

The lace panels on each end are gorgeous. They’re (thankfully) knit with a single yarn and much easier on your hands. I struggled with the chart, as did several of the others who have knitted the bag. If you’re not comfortable with carts, take the time to write out the entire chart. Save yourself! I chose not to. I battled the chart … it was a valiant effort and I won in the end.

The first time, I was working with dark gray yarn and dark gray needles. Not a good start. But like any good knitter, after several false starts (and frogging yarn with a lot of mohair “fuzz”), I tossed all the parts in the “naughty” closet and left it for almost a year while I worked on other projects. I wanted to finish it this summer and at the start I found it challenging but as soon as I changed my needles, I got it. I had to be mindful and watch the right side and wrong side of the panel. (I worked at home, alone, in a bubble and did a lot of talking to myself.) Once I got the rhythm of the lace chart, I was fine … except when I got to socializing and I consistently forgot the last yarn over. Oops!

I’ll post a picture of my bag when it’s completed. I still have to purchase supplies and manufacture my handles (or ask my better half to do so) but I’m eager to use the bag and I may even have my friend help me figure out how to sew pockets into it. Her bag, knitted with the same yarn, turned out beautifully and it’s not as fuzzy as mine. Go figure! I think the double-stranded sides will be stiff enough to give it some structure. One Raveler said she added a hard plastic bottom on her bag. That’s also a good idea. Once filled, the bottom sags a lot.

Gone knitting.

Foiled … or Frogged Again!

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One side in process … double strand worsted weight yarn on size 6 US needles!

This summer I started knitting the most wonderful bag. My Friday Knitting teacher had one that I absolutely loved and, of course, I needed one, too! So, I bought the yarn they suggested and started knitting.

The pattern is called the “Just So Bag” by Andrea Babb and calls for Rowan Pure Wool Aran (Superwash). It was suggested to me that we could use Lambs Pride Worsted in its place. I wish I had been thinking about that – because the mohair in the Lambs Pride yarn makes it fuzzy. Duh! (And the worsted is a little bit heavier weight than the aran.)

The first parts to be knitted are knit with double strands of worsted weight wool. On fairly small needles. Hard on your hands! But I got them all done. And they look good!

But the lace ends of the bag (one needs to knit two) … another story all together! Ugh!

The lace end ... 2nd or 3rd attempt!

The lace end … 2nd or 3rd attempt! See the fuzz?

Today I frogged the lace end (I’ve only started one … and started and started again) for the third or fourth time. Ugh! I really need a bigger chart and I really need less fuzzy yarn. When you’re knitting lace (even if it’s worsted weight yarn) it really needs to be smooth so that the stitches are visible. These are somewhat blurred (and I helped by dropping a stitch that I could not recover.) Because of the mohair blended in, it’s very difficult to read my stitches and makes repairing a dropped stitch, or any other mistake (yes, I do make mistakes!) much more complicated than if it were plain wool. (Which is why the pattern calls for wool, BTW, and not a wool blend.)

So, I will start again but not until I have knitted something cute that I want to knit  … something relatively simple. Maybe the cute pair of striped fingerless mitts that I’ve been seeing. Or the felted slippers (I only bought the pattern ages ago!) Or the little sweater for Faye for Christmas. Or the headband for Libet. So many choices that I may have to just go have an adult beverage and a swim and call it a day! Tomorrow is Monday after all and I am back to work! This job has sure cut into my knitting time! 🙂

Gone …. well, maybe I’ll be knitting.

Knitting on the Bias

Three Shades Cowl … knitted on the bias and wrapped twice around

I’ve knitted two mohair cowls in the last month. I pondered (ever so briefly) just knitting straight but figured I’d be bored after the first few dozen rows. So, I decided to knit it on the bias which, in the knitting world, simply means you increase a stitch at one side and then decrease a stitch on the other side.

This cowl can be worn hanging long, wrapped twice around your neck, over your head like a hood or even around your shoulders. And despite it’s light weight, it’s quite warm. The fibers from mohair are really “fuzzy” and that creates a fiber that closes over the “holes” in the garment and make it super warm.

Three Shades Cowl in One Shade … once around the neck

This is a super easy pattern and I love making these cowls. God willing, I’ll post a pattern one of these days! For now, though, they’re even too warm to try on and photograph in Florida!

Gone knitting!

Transition – Ombre

I have a new garment, that I’m calling a Three Shades Cowl. I’m making it for a customer in New York State. She wanted a cowl similar to the silver one that I knitted up but we decided to knit it in three colors. You saw the three colors in the last post that I wrote (here.)

Thanks to Trebellaevents (dot) com for the photographic example of ombre!

All over the Internet, I’ve been seeing these ombre color transitions on garments and I wanted to try it on a knitted garment. Ombre, is a dip-dyed technique for garments, traditionally used with silks and other fine fabrics. It’s often called “ethereal” and today it’s also filtering into hair coloring and makeup. Google it … you’ll see what I’m talking about if you aren’t familiar with it. Suffice it to say, it’s a great color transition technique that I really like and could be awesome in knitting!

I started knitting the cowl a couple of days ago and got to the transition between the charcoal and denim colors and the transition is even more subtle than it appeared it would be. And I am loving it! The colors are very similar in shade, deep and gray in the case of the charcoal colored yarn. The denim is also a deep shade of blue but it has the tiniest bit of a silvery bit in the fiber. It’s a gorgeous color. And if I really think about the next transition to a silver, it’s going to be a really pretty cowl.

Subtle transitions are sometimes difficult to notice but the gradual changes are very interesting and I am looking forward to seeing how this cowl looks when it’s all “sewn” up! I love knitting and the little pleasures and surprises that I am given as garments develop. Sometimes the surprises are a bummer … and, like tonight, they are exciting.

Gone knitting!

Provisional Cast-On … Easy Method

Three Shades Mohair Cowl – Color Choices

Years ago, when I entered what we were allowed to call the Ravelympics, I had decided to  try to make my first lace scarf. I hit a road block when I read the patter for the first time and saw that there was a provisional cast on required. Since this was before the Internet really took off in my house, it was really difficult to find instructions that were clear and well-written (and illustrated) for this very visual knitter. Needless to say, I fell on my needles and was injured enough to totally back out of the challenge. (I also had kids at home and was working … not a lot of time to spend on doing something for myself back then!)

Fast forward a few years and I have learned how to do a couple of provisional cast ons. One with a crocheted chain that you then pick up stitches in the little bumps on the back (do not try this with black “waste” yarn) and another where you use an extra needle and let it hang at the bottom of your piece. Since I’m not an adept crocheter, my bumps are never consistent. The extra needle hanging at the bottom is a little bit cumbersome. So, I was looking for another option and this morning I found it!

Wendy Bernard over at Knit and Tonic has a great illustrative article on this long-tail provisional cast on where, in essence, you make a slip knot with your working yarn and your “waste” yarn (preferably something that is slippery) and then with your waste yarn over your thumb (toward you) and your working yarn over your index finger/pointer finger (away from you) you cast on just as you would normally. When you’ve gotten to your desired number of stitches (don’t count the slip knot/first stitch) cut your waste yarn and start your project.

The waste yarn is sitting nice and neatly down at the bottom of your work and can be easily unwound when you need to put your stitches back on your needles at the end of the project. Cool, yes?

I’ve just cast on 80 stitches in no time! Thanks, Wendy! I love it when you can learn something new and apply it to your day to cut off a few hours of tedious work!

My new project is another mohair cowl. It’s knitted a bit on the bias which makes it a little bit more interesting. This one is a custom order from a client in New York. After I made the first one, I thought about making one in three shades and she liked the idea, too. So we’re using a silver, a charcoal and a denim color – I think it’s going to be lovely! Kind of like the ombre garments and home furnishings that you’re seeing everywhere! The yarn that I’m using is called DK weight (but I’d say it’s more a fingering weight) and it’s Rowan’s kidsilk haze in charcoal #639, Debbie Bliss Angel in denim #15008 and kid seta Madil in a silver (#408) colorway. I will start with the charcoal, then head into denim and last, add the silver. I’m pretty excited to see what it looks like – I’m sure we’ll all be delighted at the results!

So, there you go! Learn something new today!

Gone knitting!