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.)

Malabrigo cowlThis 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.
Knitting

Design Ideas

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.

Cowl Sample 3

So what do you think? Do you have a favorite? I’d love to hear your comments!!

Knitting

Red and Grey Vest

Well, I finally finished it! Here it is — the vest I’ve been promising my mom for several years now.

vkf11_topper-06_medium2
The pattern I started with, from Vogue Knitting Fall 2011.

Truth to tell, this isn’t the original design. That was from Vogue Knitting, Fall 2011, and required some yarn I wasn’t able to find. I not only couldn’t find the original recommended yarn, I couldn’t find a substitute at the appropriate gauge. So I pulled out the calculator and measuring tape, and re-wrote that pattern to fit the new yarn.

I also had to adjust the size, since my mom didn’t want the sweater to be as big around as the finished size for the original pattern. Plus, she wanted it longer, with some adjustments to the sleeves. So I factored all of that in, and carefully wrote out each and every change.

Then I started knitting. Talk about tedious. The back was 24″ wide and 27″ long, and except for the two inches of ribbing at the bottom, entirely stockinette stitch. When I got to the front, I couldn’t stand the boredom any longer, and got started on the inserts before I finished the “boring” part. I realized that was also the best way to make sure the two pieces would fit together.

The inserts were two pieces of Shaker-style ribbing that would create a diamond shape set in the upper half of the front, with a buttonband down the middle. That’s where the math failed me. I could not get the pieces to knit up to the right size and shape, and eventually lost all motivation to keep trying.

So I told my mom, sorry, it’s not going to be that sweater you first wanted. Just isn’t going to happen. She was disappointed, but accepted it.

red-and-grey-vest
The finished result.

Instead I found a houndstooth check pattern and knit up the two pieces you see in the finished sweater. They had to be knit up separately from the bottom half since the stranded knitting made for a much tighter gauge, but fortunately the required size and the check pattern I found meshed together perfectly.

I used Rowan Pure Wool Worsted, a superwash wool that I think will wear well and be very comfortable for my mom. The last sweater I made for her wasn’t a superwash, and even though I warned her not to throw it in the dryer, she did — and it came out felted and considerably smaller.

The buttons came from Needlework Unlimited in Minneapolis. My friend Karen owns that store, and it’s one of the few yarn stores I know of that carries a decent selection of buttons. I’m told they’re a big investment for stores and don’t sell very quickly, so it’s just not possible for everyone to stock buttons.

In the middle of my work on this vest, I found a yarn store in Rochester, Minn. that carries the original recommended yarn for that pattern from Vogue Knitting. Someday, maybe I’ll actually make it. In the meantime, I think this will look really cute on my mom and will serve her well!

Knitting

Storytelling through Design

One of my favorite fellow knitters, Rita, uses her art & design training in the pieces she knits. She’s only been knitting for two or three years, yet the projects she’s designed are advanced beyond what you see in many magazines.

Rita's penguin outfit III thought my favorite was the little penguin-themed snow outfit she made for a friend’s baby until I saw her phenomenal fair-isle scarf. Each section has meaning for her. It may be the pattern, such as a symbol celebrating her daughter’s marriage, or the colors, personal choices that reflect moments in her life.

It’s knit entirely in sock yarn and took her some time to finish, in part because she had to research the designs, and in part because it was knit with such lightweight yarn & small needles. She took it section by section, never really knowing what she’d be doing a few rows down the line. It’s incredible.

The only “problem” with a project like that, to me, would be the fear of losing it.

Rita knit two hats last year with Blue Sky Alpaca, taking the same care in color and design choices she always does, and they were lost in the mail during the Christmas season. You so rarely hear of that these days. She had them tracked and insured, but it didn’t matter. They were lost.

That hasn’t stopped her, though. She continues to design and knit, every piece more stunning than the one before.

I can’t wait to see what she does next.