Samurai Cowl

Thank goodness for the finished result.

Samurai cowl

This was one of the most challenging pieces I’ve made in a long time, and I’ve been knitting 39 years. It wasn’t the pattern. I’m an accomplished knitter. However, this lace weight mohair, as beautiful as it, nearly did me in.

The biggest problem (I believe it must be this) is that two strands of this yarn can slide together and look remarkably like one strand. So you knit the two together having no intention of doing so, and you’re left with with either ripping the row out (a challenge with lace patterns, especially in a lace weight) or trying your best to adjust on the next row.

I did both multiple times and began to believe this project would never end. The lace pattern is very pretty, and the cowl pattern is well-written. It wasn’t the pattern that challenged me — if you’ve done lace knitting before and feel good about it, this would be a good project — but I can’t say it often enough: I did not do well with the lace weight mohair.

Let me be clear, that was nowhere near the suggested yarn. I take full responsibility.

I’m wishing I’d gone up a needle size when I bound it off, because despite my best efforts, it wasn’t loose enough, so I wouldn’t be able to wear this fully draped down (I’m telling you, that lace weight mohair takes special care). However, it is pretty as is.

With the right yarn I have no doubt this would be a pleasure to knit and wear. The pattern is the Samurai Cowl in the Fall 2017 issue of Knitting Traditions. I want to give the designer, Emma Welford, credit for her careful and pretty design.

The pattern is first knit back and forth, the the piece is joined together and knit in the round. There are graphs for both the straight knitting and the circular knitting, and although multiple stitches are used (three ways to decrease two), none of them would be unfamiliar to most knitters with at least intermediate experience (and many beginners would recognize them, too — some beginners amaze me!).

I have a lot of the lace mohair yarn left over — yikes. Next pattern I use with it wlll be simpler to accomodate my own lack of skill with this yarn. Which, by the way, is Malabrigo Lace in Emerald Blue.


Top Three Projects in 2017

Admittedly, this last year hasn’t been my most productive, knitting-wise. I’ve had ongoing problems with my hands and wrists, and a few other personal issues have gotten in the way. But I still managed to make things I’m proud of, and here are the top three:

Moondance Cowl and Mitts

Designed for my local yarn store, Mockingbird Moon, and modeled by the lovely granddaughter of my friend Yvonne, I’m proud of the design I developed and how well it shows off the featured yarn, Dyed in the Wool by SpinCycle Yarns. The pattern did well at our statewide yarn crawl (I can’t imagine having the time and inclination to travel my state for all the yarn stores, but many people did). By the way, it also used Alegria by Manos del Uruguay, a particularly lovely yarn.

Basketweave Sweater

This turned into my go-to sweater for the better part of the year. It’s comfortable and fits well, and goes well with both jeans and slacks. I used Rowan Wool Cotton, which sadly has been discontinued, but it would work well with so many DK yarns. You hold two strands together and use size 11 needles, so it knits up so quickly. The pattern is from Vogue Knitting, Spring/Summer 2012. Lucky for us sweaters don’t typically go out of style too easily (and tend to cycle around if they are dated), so a five-year-old pattern? Natch. Still cute.

Ruffle-Cuffed Gloves

Admittedly less practical, I made these to go with a Vicuña coat given to me by a friend (she was going to give it to Goodwill!). The coat had bracelet-length sleeves, so this style was perfect. The ruffle as shown in the pattern is twice as long as this one, but that would have a been a little too much for me. The gloves were knit out of Blue Sky Fibers Baby Alpaca, and while I made one mistake you can’t see in this picture, I love them. The ruffle was made with Shibui Silk Cloud, a dreamy lace-weight mohair. If you’re planning to make an heirloom shawl, consider this yarn. Expensive, but there’s good reason for that.

In 2018, I hope to be a little more productive, but who knows what the future holds? Despite having fewer projects than usual, I still had a hard time choosing. The Black-and-White Cotton Cardigan and of course, the Top Hat for one of my favorite cats, Jake, were in the running. But these won out.

I wrote this post in response to a knitting bloggin buddy’s post, My Top 3 Knits of 2017, by Shirley C Yeung. Do you have any favorite projects from 2017? Feel free to share them — and any links — in the comment section below.

Happy Knitting in 2018!!


The Giving Tree

From one of my other blogs. Some of these hats have shown up on this site before! Sorry the caption for the giving tree isn’t under the picture. I don’t know why. The theme for my other blog has its quirks and I suspect this is another of them.

My World With Words

I’ve found a way to keep the Christmas spirit all year around — even though the best evidence of that comes in December.

As many of you know, I’m an avid knitter. So avid, in fact, it caused tendonitis a year ago. I’ve been knitting since I was 19, and there are countless pieces out there I’ve created. Some I’ve even designed myself.

Giving Tree sm The Giving Tree

Over the years I’ve used this gift  (and I truly consider knitting to be a gift) from time to time to make items for charitable giving. My current endeavor is hats for those who come to my church’s food bank. Every year we have the Giving Tree, and people hang cold weather items such as hats, scarves, mittens on it during December.

Those items are available for a group of people in need, some homeless, some struggling to keep a roof over their heads…

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Gloves with Golden Ruffle

The last time I made a pair of gloves I swore would be the last time I made a pair of gloves. Working those fingers is just too exacting, and how many pairs of gloves would I ever need?

I changed my mind when a friend gave me the wonderful gift of her vintage Vicuña coat. It’s bracelet length, perfect for showing off these ruffled gloves.

The pattern is #27 from Vogue Kniting, Winter 2011-12 (so glad I hang on to those back issues of VK!) and is cleverly called “Gloves.” The simplicity of the name belies their fancy nature. The pattern calls for a much longer ruffle — about twice as long — with a looped, crocheted bind-off. Now that’s fancy.

I knit the body from Blue Sky sport weight, 100 percent baby alpaca — a fitting match for a vicuña coat. The yarn for the ruffle is the fantastic Silk Cloud by Shibui Knits. That is the most gorgeous lace mohair I have ever seen. It puts the rest to shame, and the cost reflects it.

Because I made a smaller ruffle, I didn’t need as much of the Silk Cloud as the pattern calls for (it actually calls for Douceur et Soie, another wonderful yarn). One 330-yard skein was plenty, although I would have been short if I’d gone with the original ruffle.

brown gloves
I much prefer the shorter ruffle.

I used three skeins — almost all of it — of the Blue Sky. After I finished the first glove, I weighed the yarn I had left, and it was 25 grams. Exactly half of the second skein. So instead of playing yarn chicken, I bought another skein, which I can’t return because I had them wind it. Looks like I’ll be buying even more and making a hat or a scarf.

The fingers on this glove aren’t too difficult, because you’re not knitting a stitch pattern. Still, it can be tricky picking up and casting on those stitches for each finger. If you haven’t done it before, I’d suggest practicing with a shetland yarn or something as stable. The alpaca slides like butter, generally a good thing but a bit of a challenge when knitting gloves.

I wear my other pairs of knitted gloves all the time in winter. Of course the last few winters have been so mild (global warming?) that the number of months that constitute “all the time” is shorter.

Looking forward to the first time I can wear these — and my wonderful vicuña coat!


Top Hat & Tails

In case you’re wondering how to make the top hat (the full picture is below), this isn’t exactly a pattern, but a guide…

I used half of a toilet paper roll as an insert. To figure out how big to make it, I measured the diameter of the roll, knit a swatch with my chosen yarn and used that to calculate how big of a tube to make. (For example, with diameter of 5″, at 6 stitches to an inch I would have cast on 30 st.)

I knit in the round for about 1 ½”, then decreased three stitches each round until I had 6 stitches left on the needle. I cut the yarn and pulled it through the six remaining stitches. This was the trickiest part, and getting it just right so it lies flat may take some experimentation.

See how the brim turns up on a “real” top hat?

Then I knit a 5 st band in seed st until, with slight stretching, I could place it around the bottom of the hat. I slip stitched that on. To complete the top hat look, I pulled up the edge of the rim on each side and “pinned” it to the side, so the brim curled up.

I then crocheted four chain st ties and attached them to the sides of the hat so they’ll go around the ears. You can see I made mine a little too long. Use your best judgment.

The bow tie I didn’t make, but I do know Asia, Jake the Cat’s mama, put the bow tie she has on a flea collar.

I know these aren’t great directions, and for the record, my patterns are much better written! But if you want to make a top hat for your cat and have enough experience to decipher what I’ve written, you should end up with the cutest little accessories for your beloved feline.

Is this not crazy cute???



Giving in to Cute — Crazy Cute

This was a simple project…with adorable results.

My World With Words

Aw, da kittums.

Not long ago I re-blogged a post about a book with knitting and crochet patterns for cats, Cats in Hats. I bemoaned the idea of dressing one’s cat up in costumes of any sort, but was wise enough to leave the door open for the possibility I might give in to those really cute hats.

Wise, because, predictably I’ve bonded with a co-worker, Asia, over our love of cats. So much so that when I found out her kitty Jake will wear bow ties, I told her about Cats in Hats, knowing full well I was about to knit a hat for a cat. Not because she would ask me to do so, but because I couldn’t resist crazy cute.

And if I wasn’t hooked by the idea of her big orange cat wearing a knit hat, this dinosaur cap completely did me in.


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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.



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


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.