Sunday, January 01, 2017

A new year

I took a look at last year's knitting resolutions, and I think I actually achieved them, more or less. Let's examine the intention and the results more closely.

Quality over quantity. While I don't have any hard data to back up this assertion, I feel like I knit less this year but tinked more, if that makes any sense. With the exception of dishcloths and hats, I didn't complete very many projects compared to other years. And that's okay. I am still struggling with appropriate yarn selection, though. I will definitely continue this resolution into 2017.

Let's be practical. This fall, when I hit upon the idea of knitting *everyone* hats in 'Blaze' (hunter orange), I quickly realized that some people would not want a hat in that color. So I asked before I knit. My daughter said yes, but she wanted a particular pattern. My SO said yes. Son and son-in-law were definitely NO. So now everyone has a new hat in a color/style they will wear. This resolution is a winner.

Break away from patterns. This resolution may be the primary reason I have fewer completed projects this year. I'm not an experienced designer, so have to adapt my ideas along the way, which invariably leads to more knitting but less finishing. When I look at patterns, I may see a design element I might want to steal incorporate into my own style, but otherwise, almost everything leaves me feeling meh. Unless I find a pattern that is utterly intriguing, I anticipate sticking with this resolution as well.

Is there anything new I would like to resolve to do this year? Why, yes, thank you for asking.

Whip those WIPs. I have probably made this resolution before, but this year I feel particularly driven to finish some big projects that are hanging over my head as well as frog some others that are obviously not doing it for me anymore.

Fix what's broken. When the cold weather finally rolled around, I discovered that I HATE most of my handknit sweaters. One has sleeves that are too big, another is in a color I loved at the time and now do not, a third is knit from expensive yarn that pills like the dickens. I think I can reknit the big sleeves, either overdye or bleach the blech color, and maybe felt the pilly one just enough to settle its hash. Fixing existing sweaters is preferable to knitting whole new ones, right? And these exercises will be fun learning experiences (she said hopefully).

What about you? Any new knitting goals this year?

Monday, December 26, 2016


I finished these socks yesterday, gave them a good soak, and dried them over a floor register so I could wear them sooner rather than later. Aaaand they are too long for me. I don't know what happened, but somehow I knit an inch too far. Were these knit top-down, I would just tear out the toes and shorten them. But they are toe-up and I don't feel like messing with them and hey, my SO needs a new pair of socks, right? At least, he does now.

Pattern: Short-row toe and heel basic socks, by Wendy D. Johnson
Yarn: Simply Socks Yarn Co Poste Yarn Striping (Seattle Coffee Blues) and Simply Sock Yarn (Natural)
Needles: US1
Modifications: Contrasting toe, heel, and cuff

I have a habit of picking colors, be they paint chips or yarn, by their names, as I am a word person, so I couldn't resist this self-striping yarn. My SO is a visual person, and he has been admiring these. We basically wear the same size sock, except his feet are a bit longer. These should be a perfect fit.

I noticed the pair he wore yesterday are getting thin in the toes. Knit in 2011, I think they are holding up remarkably well. I knit them top-down and still have some leftover yarn, so I can fix them up without too much angst. Meanwhile, this pair will make a nice replacement (for a nice man!)

Sunday, December 25, 2016

We now return you to our regularly scheduled knitting

While cleaning up the fiber studio (for the umpteenth time), I not only discovered I have TWO paper grocery bags of fingering weight yarn (enough for a lifetime of sock knitting), I also found a project bag containing a skein of yarn and a pattern for a hat. I had tackled this project once before, but was flummoxed by the title of the pattern - Corkscrew Hat - and the fact it did not actually form a corkscrew. I decided to give it another go, using US7 needles, but the yarn, a blend of wool, silk, and mohair, kept breaking. So I switched to US8 needles and gently knit myself a scarf.

Pattern: Mistake Rib scarf
Yarn: Cascade Casablanca, colorway 12
Needles: US8
Modifications: See below

Since I had only one skein, I kept the scarf narrow, casting on just 39 stitches (Old Norwegian). Then it was sl1 k1 *p2 k2 repeat from * to last stitch, p1, ad infinitum. Suspended cast off.

It's too bad this yarn misbehaves (and has been discontinued) as the colors are lovely. Russian joins rescued the breaks. I gave it a good soak - no bleeding - but did not really block it. Instead I folded it over a floor register so it would dry quickly and I could wear it sooner. It is just barely long enough.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Only one day until xmas

This hat has been done since Monday as well. I started with one pattern in mind, then began experimenting: knit from the bottom up instead of top down, provisional cast on, added Fair Isle, knit ear flaps like short row sock toes, etc. I'm amazed it's finished AND I am pleased with the result (although, like some of my other Fair Isle hats, this one is a bit snug).

Pattern: Based on Amelia E., by Amy Miller
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash, colorways 816 (Gray), 854 (Navy), 253 (Desert Sun)
Needles: US7
Modifications: A LOT!

Amelia E. is knit top down, but I didn't like trying to knit 8 cast-on stitches in the round. I didn't want to pick up stitches for the ear flaps, though, so I provisionally cast on 100 stitches. Then I embellished the plain stockinette with Fair Isle designs. At the crown, I decreased four stitches evenly, then started each section with a k1, ssk and ended each section with a k2tog, with a round of plain knit between decrease rounds.

Back at the lower edge, I picked up and purled a round so I could hem the bottom. And then I get confused. Somehow I ended up with a hem (good) while maintaining 26 or so stitches for each ear flap (also good, but I had to change the purl stitches to knit to eliminate an unsightly ridge). I tried knitting the ear flaps like sock toes, but there were major gaps between the fronts and backs of each one. So I reknit them, like short row sock toes, with the tip being 4 stitches wide. Then I sewed down the hem.

Instead of my usual i-cord tassels, I braided like I braided 4-strand lanyards at summer camp: wrap rightmost strand under two and over one, wrap leftmost strand under two and over one, repeat ad infinitum (or 12", whichever comes first). Each "strand" was actually two strands of yarn, with half in gray, a quarter in navy, the rest in orange.

I knit this hat before discovering this KnitPicks tutorial. Some of the floats are a bit longish. Since the yarn is superwash, no felting is going to help anchor them. Hope the recipient treats this hat gently.

And now I am DONE with xmas knitting!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Only two days until xmas

This hat has actually been done for a while, except for the pompom, which I added last Monday. And then my laptop went to Windows 10 update hell FOR DAYS. I was on the verge of taking the damn thing to Best Buy and reverting to Windows 7 when something resurrected it. I wish one of those so-called Microsoft techs (IT'S A SCAM, PEOPLE!) would call me now so I could give them an earful, just for fun.

Pattern: Based on Little Rabbits Hat, by Michael Storey, published in Easy Fair Isle Knitting (currently no Ravelry link)
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash, in colorways 901 (Cotton Candy) and 871 (White)
Needles: US6 (for ribbing) and US7
Modifications: Knit in the round (who knits Fair Isle flat?!?), substituted cat motif (from same book) for rabbit

The pattern calls for DK yarn, but since I used worsted, I cast on 84 stitches. BUT it is still too snug, as demonstrated by the photo below - the cats are all stretched out. Someday I will knit Fair Isle hats that fit.

My countdown to xmas may seem off to you, but my family celebrated on xmas eve (a Danish custom, I believe), so to me, xmas is on the 24th.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Only 12 days til xmas

I made a rookie mistake with this pattern: substituted worsted weight yarn for the DK called for by the pattern. But there was a reason behind my goof-up. I had been working on other Fair Isle hats and they were turning out too snug, so OF COURSE casting on 136 stitches did not raise any red flags.

Pattern: Plaid and Diamond Fair Isle Beanie, by Martin Storey
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash, in colorways 854 (navy), 816 (gray), 253 (desert sun)
Needles: US7
Modifications: used worsted weight yarn instead of DK; knit in the round instead of flat

After blocking, the hat became YUUUGE. Not wanting to waste an otherwise perfectly good hat, I resoaked it and threw it in the dryer with the rest of my laundry. It is still a bit loose, but bound to fit somebody with a big head.

I haven't done much colorwork, and due to the fit problem I was experiencing, I turned to this tutorial on KnitPicks. Not only does their technique anchor floats, it evens out the knitting. I highly recommend it.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Only 13 days until xmas

This version of this pattern is actually the first one I started and was somewhat experimental, so it is for me and my hunting season hiking. I added a white crocheted border, to soften the orange, but didn't like it. I don't look good in hats to begin with, and the front flap was doing me no favors, so I removed that as well. As knit, the hat is a bit too deep for my head, so someday I may rip back the i-cord strings and flaps and about an inch of hat. Someday. Maybe.

Pattern: Amelia E. by Amy Miller
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash, in colorway 1952 'Blaze'
Needles: US7
Modifications: removed the front flap; i-cord strings

Trying to start it from the top down using metal DPNs was IMPOSSIBLE. The needles kept slipping out of the initial eight stitches. Consequently, the crown looks a bit wonky. I broke down and purchased some bamboo DPNs, so I wouldn't have this problem going forward.