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.
There 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.
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.
I am really excited to introduce my latest pattern, MoonDance Cowl and Mitts!
This 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 (a name I came up with as a joke and lived to regret), 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.
The 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).
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.
However, 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.
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!
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.
First, 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.
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!!
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.
Oh good grief…another hat!! Again from my stash, again my own improvised design.
This 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!
I’ve been going a little bit hat crazy lately and making a number of knit caps for charity giving next winter. The watch cap pattern has gotten lots of use, and since I’ve already posted a couple of times with Watch Caps, I’ll refrain from boring you and doing it again.
Speaking of boring…those Watch Caps can get tedious to make. I HAD to try something new, and I wasn’t in the mood to forage through all of my patterns and find just the right hat for the yarn in my stash. Instead, I found some designs in one of my oh-so-valuable Vogue Knitting Stitchionaries, this one, Volume III, Color Knitting.
Of course there had to be the right number of stitches in the pattern repeat, and I struggled a little with that one. I finally ended up decreasing two stitches before working on the main design, which they’d named “Colorado” (hence the name of the hat).
(You may be thinking it would have been easier to find a pattern that was already written rather than doing all this calculating, but in this case, it was so much easier to pull that Stitchionary out and put it in my lap rather than search online or go through all my pattern books.)
There are 20 stitches in the pattern repeat, and I had cast on 102 (multiple of six). I did the border at the bottom in a multiple of six, kind of winging it as I went along, but I’m pleased with the results. After finishing that border, I decreased the extra two stitches.
Of course with stranded knitting you end up with a tighter weave than straight stockinette stitch, so the hat was a little on the small side, but still within the range for a woman’s hat. Hey, it fits me, and I usually need a larger hat size. Well, sort of fits me. An extra inch or two would fit better.
I used Ella Rae Classic Solids in a Worsted Weight (Red) as well as Cascade Yarns 220 Superwash (Off White), also in a worsted weight. Now, this was a stash project, and I didn’t have two superwash yarns to use, so this hat will have to be hand-washed. I hesitate to donate hand-wash items to charity since I don’t have care instructions on them, but if I do give this one away on our Giving Tree, I’m going to trust that most adults don’t need to wash their hats too often.
I didn’t use all of either skein, in fact, I would guess I used about ¾ of the red and less than half of the off-white.
The ribbing was 1 ½” of twisted rib. I love the look of twisted rib!! I also took a cue from my last sweater project and had a rolled border above the ribbing — since this was knit in the round, that would be Knit 2 rounds, Purl 2 rounds, Knit 2 rounds.
The hat was 7″ before I began the decreases, and generally I’m partial to working at least 8″. However, I’ve discovered a lot of hat patterns have you work only 7″, and I was able to pull this one down over my ears when it is was finished — my all-important test!!
Overall, I’m pleased with the results. This may go in my “gift” pile and not “charity giving” pile! I’m low on gift hats.
I’ve been wanting to make this vest since I first saw it in the Early Fall 2015 Vogue Knitting. I finally got my chance this spring, and I’m delighted with the finished result. I do plan to wear it as a vest and not a pullover (it easily could be worn as a sleeveless pullover) as age is betraying me and my pale arms are not shown to their best advantage in anything sleeveless.
It’s Pattern #18, Vine Lace Shell, and it was a fairly easy pattern to work up, with some nice detail at the ribbing. There’s a rolled edge there made with a reverse stockinette, and even though the pattern didn’t call for it, I added that edge to the sleeves. Debating now whether it was worth it, but I don’t plan to change anything.
The pattern instructions have you working the ribbing at the neck and the sleeves back-and-forth rather than in the round, but I chose to do it in the round, which meant I needed to alter the instructions for the rolled edge. It was easy enough, and if you choose to do the same thing, you’d knit one round, purl two rounds, then knit another two rounds. You’re starting on Row Two of the Rolled Edge pattern this way, as the first knit row would be the stitches you pick up around the edge.
Rather than have three reverse stockinette stitches on each side of the front and back — which makes for challenging finishing — I chose to add two stitches to each piece, one stitch on each side, and work it this way: K2, P2, then on to the 4th stitch of the pattern, ending P2, K2 (instead of P3 on each side). Of course I worked the wrong side P2, K2 and K2, P2 on the edges, in that order. That makes seaming a lot smoother!
I also made the body about an inch longer than the pattern calls for, and the pattern is fairly long to start with, but I thought the longer piece would be more in keeping with current styles. It’s also a little more flattering on me.
I made it with Rowan Baby Merino Silk DK in color 674, Shell Pink. I think I have enough pink in my wardrobe for awhile!! This yarn was wonderful to work with and I think worked well with this pattern.
It’s a very stretchy piece, and looks way too skinny when you first finish it. However, it pulls out quite a bit, so trust the finished sizes given. Just be sure to do a swatch!!
The owner of my local yarn store asked me to come up with some design ideas for a cowl. She’s interested in making a kit for some yarn that a local woman spins and dyes, particularly for a color she’s making exclusively for “our” shop.
Loralee, the store owner, showed me some ideas she liked, and based on that, I came up with two designs. Since she’s out of town until the end of the month, and I’m anxious to get some feedback on my design ideas, I thought I’d put them out here for feedback.
The bright colors in the first sample come from some variegated yarn by Lorna’s Laces. Their variegated yarns have nice, short blocks of color, so the colors repeat frequently, which I like for this pattern. It’s hard to see in this picture, but I also have a dropped stitch every fourth stitch in every other row, which (almost) makes for a stranded/fair isle effect.
Remember, these are just samples. The “real thing” would be knit in the round, with the pattern repeated all the way around.
The cable pattern on the red sample is a little difficult to see, but it’s a dropped stitch cable, which resulted in some holes after the twist. When I used a heavier gauge yarn, it had a much tighter result. I really liked the overall result with that yarn, but since I was using whatever I had leftover in my stash, I didn’t have enough of it to do a proper swatch.
So what do you think? Do you have a favorite? I’d love to hear your comments!!
My new grey curtains required a little more grey in the rest of the living room to balance the color, so I used one of my own knitting designs for this new throw. Combine that change with some art and throw pillow rearrangements, and I believe it did the job for which it was created!!
The pattern is Rolling Waves Throw, which is available as a free download here or on Ravelry. For this throw, I changed the needle size to 7mm and used two strands held together of Plymouth Yarn DK Merino Superwash in Light Grey. The yarn is a dream to work with, and the final product looks good, too.
It took 14 skeins, or 1,820 yards of the yarn. The gauge was four stitches and five rows to the inch, and I cast on 125 stitches. I completed five pattern repeats. The finished throw is 34″ by 40″, which may seem rather small, but is a great size for curling up under on a cold day. It’s also about the right size for someone in a wheelchair.
This pattern knits up quickly and is fairly easy to memorize, although it’s also easy to make a mistake by switching the yarn-overs and decreases, so you may want to keep the pattern nearby. I’ve written it in both graph and written instruction formats. The pattern as I wrote it calls for size 9 needle and a single strand of worsted weight yarn, but it’s very easy to make a change to suit your needs. Just do an 8″ swatch first for the most accurate gauge.
My cats tend to “knead” on the throws I have on the sofa, or even scratch on them as if they’re scratching posts, but I’m hoping to keep this one away from playful paws to preserve its looks and wearability. The last one is so pilled, I don’t even know what to do with it.
Some people have asked if it’s possible to use multiple colors for the different “waves,” and while I suppose you could do that intarsia-style (the throw is placed sideways on the sofa from the direction it was knit), I think that might be difficult. You’d be changing colors between a purl stitch and a yarn-over on half of the rows, and that would be a challenge to keep looking neat.
I’ve seen the pattern knit in variegated yarn, however, and the pattern is perfect for that style!
I love this pattern, both knitting it and the finished result.