Knitting

Grey Shawl for Mom

Finally finished this grey shawl for my mom — took me a little longer since knitting is more difficult for me these days.  It also had one very tedious stretch in the pattern, but the finished result is very pretty, suitable for the purpose for which I intended it — my mom’s comfort.

The pattern is from Interweave Knits Fall 2016, the Edmonia Shawl by Anne Hanson. It’s meant to be assymetrical, and she did a nice job of balancing the unbalanced. The original pattern called for a nubbier yarn in a lighter weight, which would create a very different look, but the pattern is suitable for various types of yarns, and I think worked well with the Plymouth DK Merino Superwash.

(If you read my blog at all, you’ll notice I’ve used that yarn with a couple of other recent projects. It’s very easy to knit with, machine washable and comfortable.)

Grey Shawl for Mom without Walter KittyThe pattern is easy, although I found it easy to make mistakes with the second half, where the lace pattern is “yo, ssk” all the way across. Frankly, ripping it out seemed like a great way to create more problems, so I did the best I could to corrrect the mistakes and went forward.

I ended up with more stitches than I was supposed to have, so in the final section I k2tog at even points along the way to correct that error. It worked well enough. This is a shawl that will be used to wrap in at home, so the mistakes were acceptable.

That’s one thing I’ve learned over the years with knitting. You have to assess how much the mistakes are going to bother you. I had one cable-knit sweater in which I miscounted the rows, but the thought of ripping it out was overwhelming to me. I left it, and today I can’t figure out which cable has the error,

Other times I figure the mistake is going to drive me crazy, so I do rip out as much as I need to and re-knit the affected portion. I’ve never regretted doing that.

Anyway, this is a pretty shawl with lots of possibilities, depending on your choice of yarn.

Grey Shawl
While in progress — Walter loves this shawl.

 

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Knitting

Pink Lace Collar

Quick and satisfying project — an accessory I didn’t yet have, but think I can make good use of in the coming months!

The pattern for this lace collar is from the Spring/Summer 2013 issue of Vogue Knitting. There are six collars to choose from, and each one is just as pretty as this.

It knit up quickly, but I will caution anyone making the same pattern to measure first so you know how long to make your collar. Everyone is different and what fit the swan necks of the models may not fit you.

I used Rowan Baby Merino Silk DK in Shell Pink, and it took less than a whole skein — I would estimate 70-80 yards. Once I got going, it knit up very quickly — all in one evening. The lace pattern is easy to follow and the pattern was well written.

Pink Collar 2I tried this collar with several sweaters and blouses, as well as the t-shirt I’m wearing here. It looked great with all of them! The only odd thing is the collar is not exactly symmetrical. Almost, but not quite. It’s not immediately noticeable, but might bother some of the more compulsive of us.

I used a button instead of the ribbon the pattern called for, and had to make a button hole at the end of the piece. To do so, I bound off to the last four stitches, knit those stitches, turned, knit one, bound off two, knit one. Turn, knit one, cast on two stitches, knit one. Knit the next row, turn, and bind off.

I think there are probably some really pretty buttons out there that would make a great accent for this piece, and I’m going to keep my eyes open for one. A white porcelain button with some flowers painted on it, maybe? Or a pewter button of some sort.

Overall, this was a quick, fun project, one I would recommend to others.

Pink Collar

Knitting

Pink Mock Tee

If you want to sell me a sweater (or a sweater pattern), it’s best if it’s a turtleneck or mock tee. This pattern is from the Spring/Summer 1996 issue of Vogue Knitting, and its basic styling has timeless appeal for me.

Pink Mock TIt is a little short, and that’s after I lengthened it an inch and a half more than the pattern called for.  Pants ride a little lower these days, and this sweater is now just the right length.

I used four skeins of Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece in Provincial Rose (that’s the other trick to selling me a sweater — make it pink, rose, red or black). That’s a 80 cotton/20 merino wool combination, which makes it perfect for a transition sweater (if this coming winter is anything like last winter, however, I’ll be wearing it well into February).

I do fully expect the sweater to stretch out with wear. That’s okay with me, and I know this yarn will shrink back to shape after washing. It doesn’t claim to be washable, but I’ve made plenty of sweaters and slippers with it and it’s never failed to come through the wash just fine.

Disclaimer here: While that’s been my experience, I can’t promise yours will be the same, so wash with caution.

Pink Mock TeeIt was knit on size 6 (4mm) needles, with size 4 (3.5mm) used for the ribbing and the neck. I particularly like the ribbing on this sweater; it’s narrow and stylish. The sleeves also appeal to me. They’re somewhere between a standard short sleeve and a 3/4 length, and again, stylish.

This is a basic pattern, with some nice shaping in the body and a simple neckline. It’s easy to knit and looks great in a multitude of yarns. The original pattern was knit in stripes, which would make knitting it more interesting, but as you can see, I stayed with a solid color.

Knitting

Pink Poof Dress for Barbie

Barbie needed a new outfit — and I needed a sense of accomplishment, so I set out to make this dress for her this evening.

Barbie Pink Poof DressIt was easy enough to make, and I’ll probably (maybe) make a pattern for it soon, but in the meantime, here are the basics:

The pleats are made by alternating panels of stockinette and reverse stockinette stitch, which I decrease by one stitch on either side of each panel at regular intervals.

The bodice is cut straight across, and the sleeves are attached to the sides of the bodice, with the seam completed to the end from the bodice. If I do make a pattern out of this, I probably will place the sleeves further in, toward the middle of the bodice.

I made this from my stash, and it took less than 50 yards of yarn. I knit it straight across, with a seam in the back and a snap (or two) to hold it together (I’ve discovered there’s no need for a lot of snaps — the little ones playing with the dolls don’t care, and it takes a lot of time to sew them on, not to mention snapping and unsnapping them as you dress the doll.)

Even if I never do make a pattern, and frankly, I don’t sell that many, so it’s a lot of effort for minimal return, it’s nice to have these Barbie clothes lying around. The last time I gave some away, it was to a little girl whose family lived in an abandoned storefront. The child was going through counseling for sexual abuse, and had nothing to call her own but a few dolls her mom bought at Goodwill. She was thrilled with the new clothes.

If you think you have nothing, there’s always someone worse off.

Knitting

Heritage, Tradition, and a Little Scandal

Knitting has been an economic resource for numerous nations or regions over the centuries in one way or the other. The British Isles, northern European and eastern European countries all have their distinct and beautiful styles that tell a story as well as provide a living for many people.

So when I set out to research knitting traditions in Poland, I was saddened to learn there isn’t anything of note. Like so much of my ancestral country’s heritage, knitting was part of a day-to-day struggle to survive. The yarns were coarse and would rub the skin raw as the women would make the sweaters (and later rip them out to make something else).

Even today, with budgets tight, there’s apparently a prevailing attitude of practicality: why knit a sweater when you can buy one for so much less? While Poland does have numerous wonderful craft traditions, somehow knitting never became one, despite a wealth of such in the nations surrounding them.

Koniakow LaceThere is Koniaków lace, however. It’s small crocheted pieces that are later crocheted together to make say, a tablecloth. Much of this is heirloom quality material, purchased by European royalty yet, and in years past provided a living income for its makers.

Not so much today, however. So it’s taken some ingenuity to keep traditions alive.

In recent years some enterprising Polish youth have scandalized society by using these designs for lingerie.

lace-top-t-shirt-400x600
Photo courtesy of Koniaków Lingerie, Poland

Actually, I don’t know that it’s Polish youth who’ve done this. It could be some bored and broke old ladies. The collection of lingerie includes items such as this tank top and panties.

So yes, saddened to learn there isn’t much, if any, of a knitting tradition in Poland. Yet heartened to discover the Poles will persevere to keep their craft traditions alive…well, okay, they found a great way to make a lot of money.

Knitting

MoonDance Cowl and Mitts

I am really excited to introduce my latest pattern, MoonDance Cowl and Mitts!

Cowl2This is the final result of my design efforts for my local yarn store, Mockingbird Moon. The name of the pattern originally was To Knit a Mockingbird, but because that was sort of an inside joke for those who shop at my LYS, I opted to change it to MoonDance for the Ravelry listing.

It uses SpinCycle Dyed in the Wool yarn and another fingering/sport weight yarn of your choice (for the sample I used Alegria by Manos del Uruguay). I strongly suggest the second yarn have a good contrast to the SpinCycle yarn to bring out the best in the design elements, particularly the Slip Stitch Stripe.

The pattern starts out with a row of bobbles, then goes into a lace edging. From there you would work the slip stitch stripe, which has a stranded-knitting look but you only use one color, or strand of yarn, in each row.

CowlThe third section is a dropped stitch cable, which is created by wrapping twice around the needle for each knit stitch on the row before you create the cables. You then drop the extra loop as you work each stitch. If the second yarn you use is a fingering weight, this can create a lace effect (depending on the yarn and how loosely you knit).

The pattern, which includes directions for both the cowl and the fingerless mitts, is available for purchase on Ravelry.

Special thanks go out to my friend Yvonne and her granddaughter Kaylan, the lovely model you see in these pictures.

 

Knitting

Colorful Cowl

Another variation on the design I’ve been working on (I actually have that design about ready to publish, but I still mess around with variations). This one is using the brightly colored yarn I had available — the solid red is WollMeise, and the multi-colored is Lorna’s Laces Rainbow in a fingering weight.

I didn’t do the cables on this design, in part because, frankly, I was running out of the WollMeise (this was from my stash; that yarn has fantastic yardage). However, the length of it — about 9″ — is still right for a cowl.

ColorCowlHowever, the fingering weight yarn isn’t ideal for this pattern. Unlike the design from a couple of posts back, which used Malabrigo Rios, the lace points don’t naturally lie flat. In fact, they tend to curl up. After blocking, that problem was minimized enough to make this wearable, but I suspect they’ll turn up again.

And of course, the lightweight yarns aren’t as practical for protection from the cold. I’m considering trying this with the sportweight Lorna’s Laces. I like the short repeats of color for the design, so I believe it would be worth the effort.

In case you didn’t see my samples a couple of months ago, this design is not a stranded or Fair Isle pattern. I slipped stitches to obtain that look, and the multi-colors help with the effect. You’re only using one strand of yarn each row. I did do three rows of the mult-colored, then three rows of the solid instead of alternating two rows of each yarn like I did in the sample.

ColorCowl2

I consider this cowl a “learning” piece since I wouldn’t suggest this pattern in a fingering weight yarn. However, it will still be wearable, and no doubt I’ll find the right day to wear it!

Knitting

Black and White Cotton Cardigan

A few months ago, I decided I wanted a black-and-white cardigan with some sort of graphic element to add to my “transition” wardrobe. I envisioned wearing it with a white t-shirt or blouse and a pair of ankle-length jeans, with some black flats.

I had all the pieces except the sweater, and I finally found a pattern I thought would work. It’s a cardigan designed by Jeannie Chin from the Spring/Summer 2013 issue of Vogue Knitting. It needed a few revisions to meet my requirements, however.

B&W CardiganFirst, I reversed the colorway, so white is the dominant color and the black is the accent. Not a big deal there. Knitters do it all the time. The second change was a little more significant and affected a few other elements of the design. As designed, the sweater is cropped (and adorable), a style that didn’t suit my needs — or figure.

So instead of knitting 8 inches to the sleeve opening, I knit 12 ½ inches. I also lengthened the ribbing from 1 ¼ inches to 1 ¾ inches, or 14 rows, on everything. This made the styling a little more traditional, but the zippy feeling of the sweater wasn’t compromised.

The original design had six rows of stockinette stitch between each band of four rows of garter stitch (that band also has the dropped stitches). I changed that to eight rows of stockinette stitch, maintaining the garter stitch band as the pattern was written. It seemed to better suit the black-on-white “light” feeling.

The dropped stitches, by the way, were a piece of cake. It did take a little maneuvering to keep the yarn from pulling behind the dropped stitches, and I accomplished this by placing my finger over those stitches and knitting over my finger. It still pulled back some, but it worked out when I blocked it.

I also carried the alternating colors up the side when I switched colors rather than break and join the yarn each section. That would have been way too much weaving in.

The original pattern had you knit the button and buttonhole band as you made the front pieces, and included the stripes in those bands. I debated about keeping that element for a long time, and finally decided to place the five stitches for each band on a safety pin and pick up the stitches later to knit the band all in the main color.

I increased one stitch on each band on the sweater side for seaming and knit that piece one needle size up from the ribbing. So I used a size 5 needle, or 3.75mm, for the band instead of the size 4, or 3.5mm, that I used for the ribbing.

The sleeves proved to be a bit problematic. Even though the suggested needle size for the body of the sweater worked (size 6, or 4mm), I had to go up one size from the suggested size for the sleeves.  (The suggested size for the sleeves is smaller than the body, by the way — size 4.) That wasn’t the problem; that’s just good knitting practice — follow your swatch, which led me to size 5 needles.

B&W Cardigan sleeve
The sleeve before I blocked it (and before I re-did the cap). I wet-blocked it and adjusted it to the correct proportions.

What was a problem was the top of the sleeve. When I set it in the armhole, it was way too short. I ended up ripping out the top of the sleeve and reknitting it by decreasing stitches every other row all the way up, and every fourth row for the last two decreases, ending with the same number of stitches to bind off as the pattern required. Even then, it was difficult to set the sleeve.

The sleeve also needed some good blocking. The lace pattern caused it to slant somewhat. That was fairly easy to accomplish, thank goodness.

And lest I forget, I used Cascade Yarns Ultra Pima. It took five skeins of the white — although I grimaced at how little of the fifth skein I needed — and one skein of the black.

Overall, I’m happy with the sweater, but I’ve been a bit sedentary lately and need to lose about five pounds to make it fit right!! So damn the heat — it’s time to walk!!

Knitting

Cowl Design Complete

A few weeks ago I posted a couple of samples of cowl designs, asking for feedback. Well, one of them is on its way to being my local yarn store’s fall design, while the other one — the one I’m featuring here — I worked up for myself.

The yarn is Malabrigo Rios, and it’s perfect for this design. It’s shaded rather than variegated, and the shades of color add depth and interest to this rather simple pattern. (By the way, I haven’t yet written up the pattern.)

This is a close-fitting cowl, about 21″ around and 8″ in height. As you can see, it drapes nicely around the neck, and while you could wear the lace points on either bottom or top, I demonstrated it wearing them on the bottom. They lay there nicely, and I didn’t even have to arrange them for the picture. That’s just how they fell naturally.

The Rios yarn made knitting it quick and simple, although I did find that when I needed to wrap the yarn for the dropped stitches it tended to pull tightly on the needle, making it difficult to knit the next row. I’ve worked that same stitch with a variety of yarns lately when testing this pattern, and the Rios was the only one with which I had a problem.

So now I have a decision to make. Does this go in the potential gift pile, or do I keep it for myself? Since it’s the same yarn I used to make a shawl earlier this year, I’m leaning toward keeping it. Time will tell.

Malabrigo cowl2

Knitting

Striped Hat

Oh good grief…another hat!! Again from my stash, again my own improvised design.

Striped HatThis was a mix of worsted weight yarns, and frankly, I’m not sure of the brand for most of them. I am quite sure only one of them is superwash, and that is the red, which is Rowan Pure Wool Superwash. The rest, well, the labels were long ago lost. The perils of stash yarn!!

For this hat, I once again did a 1×1 twisted rib, followed by the rolled border (knit 2 rounds, purl 2 rounds, knit 2 rounds). I also added the rolled border at the top right before I started the decreases.

The stripes were fun. On the first row of each new color, I would knit 3, slip 1 (or on alternate stripes, knit 1, slip 1, knit 2), giving almost a stranded knitting look to the stripes. It added a little interest to the overall design.

Confession here — on the first stripe, with the blue, I forgot to slip the stitches, so I went back and duplicate stitched the “dropped” stitch. Better option than ripping any part of it out.

I wish I could say the circle of blue at the top was planned, but I ran out of the orange yarn. I considered doing some more stripes, but decided I didn’t want to weave in all those additional ends. So much for purity in designing a piece.

I noticed that in the picture one of the red/blue rows with the slipped stitch looks like those accent stitches don’t show up in the finished project. In reality, they do, the hat just rolled a bit at that point when I took the picture.

I have a bucketful of hats these days, ready for gift or charitable giving!

Blue striped hat
One more hat, made following the same basic pattern I wrote about here. I think I’m done with hats for the time being!!

 


Image Credit: Winter Sky Background courtesy of Pixabay.