Archive for the ‘Mitts’ Category

Jolie with Pointy Sticks

August 18, 2012

Well! It only took me AGES, but I finally have a little collection of accessory patterns available, just in time for autumn.

I’ve talked a little about the philosophy behind this collection as I’ve worked on it, but I’m going to mention it again. The idea behind this collection was to create a somewhat cohesive set of accessories that could be mixed and matched to offset a fall and winter wardrobe. Like most knitters, I have an absolute ton of hats and cowls and mitts and such, but they’re often knit in isolation from one another and can’t really be worn together without making me look a little crazy. Watching old movies, one of the things that struck me about the curated wardrobes of the actresses was how well the accessories worked together. I wanted to create small patterns using minimal amounts of luxury yarn that would create a set of accessories that could be worn as part of a well matched wardrobe.

Myrna 3

Myrna cowl and mitts

I’ve listed two sets as individual patterns, meaning that while there are six patterns listed for the collection, there are actually instructions for eight different accessories: two hats, two cowls, two shawls, one set of mitts, and a cravat.

So let’s talk a little about the patterns! You’ve seen Rosa and Dorothy before.

Rosa and Dorothy

Rosa has been updated to include a second, larger size, and a second suggested yarn. Both suggested yarns are from Rocky Mountain Dyeworks. I love the rich colors that Hasmi, the creative force behind Rocky Mountain Dyeworks, teases out of fibers. The original red Rosa was knit in Bow Falls Fingering, a tight BFL. The new version is knit in Kicking Horse Sock, a merino/bamboo blend with a soft hand and oodles of drape. I asked Hasmi if she had any colors suggestive of a yellow rose, and she dyed me THREE absolutely gorgeous shades, which I alternated to create a subtle gradient from light to dark. I absolutely love the result. If you previously purchased Rosa, you should have received an update to the pattern, and if you wish to purchase the whole collection, the price of Rosa will be automatically discounted at purchase.

Dorothy is included in this collection as well, the only way to purchase the pattern through Knitting Kninja. Unlike my other shawl patterns, Dorothy is a raglan shawl, which makes it easy to drape over the shoulders and wear. It’s also easy to wrap around as a scarf. I used Knit Picks Imagination sock yarn for this version, an alpaca blend that adds a fuzzy halo to your knitting. Each section is fast and fun to knit, with a great deal of texture.

Clara

Clara is a bobble and lace hat. I don’t always love bobbles, but there’s something about a bobble hat that I adore. I have a saved picture in my files from ages ago of a bobble hat with diamond lace and I knew I wanted to make something similar one day. Clara is that something similar. It’s a one size hat, because the lace makes it very stretchy in order to fit a wide range of head sizes. Clara’s lace comes together in the decreases to make a star shaped top that just added to the fun little details. Knit in Sanguine Gryphon Traveller, it’s a warm hat despite the holes. I suggest substituting Cephalopod Yarns or Verdant Gryphon Traveller. Each skein is enough to make at least two hats.

Edith

Edith is a beret and cravat set knit in A Verb for Keeping Warm Metamorphosis. Metamorphosis is a gorgeous silk/merino blend with a somewhat rustic hand. The beret is covered in little twisted stitch cables that interlock and wind up the hat. They are echoed slightly in the ruffle cravat. The hat comes in two styles, a shallow beret (shown) and a slouchier version for those who want a little more substance. You can make a shallow beret and a cravat in any size from just one skein of yarn, which makes this a good value for an expensive and luxurious yarn.

Ida

Ida is a colorwork cowl knit in the inevitable Malabrigo yarns. Inevitable, because, let’s face it, I love Malabrigo. I am not the best at colorwork, so the thick Malabrigo Worsted made this a breeze, since it knits up fast and limits the amount of colorwork you actually need to do. Stranded colorwork meant a lot of loose strands inside the cowl and I was worried about snagging, so I used some Malabrigo Lace to knit a lining. If you haven’t knit with Lace, it’s kitten soft and just a delight against the skin, which means that my cowl is unbelievably warm and soft. I made it a bit oversized to compensate for the extreme warmth of a stranded, lined merino cowl.

Myrna

Finally, Myrna. Myrna hasn’t gotten a lot of attention on Ravelry since I added it, but in some ways, it’s my favorite pattern in the lot. Knit in Sanguine Gryphon Bugga!, I wanted to utilize what I think is the absolutely perfect stitch quality of the yarn. It knits up more neatly than almost any other yarn I’ve worked with, and I wanted to show off the color and quality of the yarn. Myrna is knit on small needles to create a neat, stretchy set of mitts with negative ease. There is nothing fancy about these mitts other than the yarn and the button tab. They’re simple as can be, but perhaps because of that, they’re my favorite to wear. The matching cowl uses stripes of stockinette and a textured slip stitch lace pattern that creates little half moons all around. Another button tab pulls the cowl down in front and turns the stripes into a gentle accordion shape.

The whole collection is available for US $16.00.

Understory

April 11, 2011

This is one of the secret projects I’ve been diligently working on behind the scenes. As you may know, this year Malabrigo started a new program called the Malabrigo Freelance Pattern Project. Each month, an independent designer will release an ebook of Malabrigo patterns. I’m Miss April!

Understory is a collection of six accessory patterns with a woodsy theme. They are available individually, or all together in ebook form. (If you purchase the ebook, you will get an ebook and each of the individual files as well.) All patterns were test knit by a pool of knitters and tech edited by Lauren Cross.

Lichen Beret

Lichens and mosses are so miniscule and usual that they can easily be overlooked, but these tiny not-quite-plants are truly beautiful and fascinating. The Lichen Beret celebrates these Lilliputian wonders in larger form with a simple lace faggoting pattern that mimics some of the patterns of lichen fronds. Knit either in smooth Malabrigo Twist, or luxuriously fluffy Malabrigo Angora, very different looks can be achieved with the same easy pattern. Top with a fluffy pom pom for an especially cute look.

SIZE
One size fits most adult heads
18 inches in circumference at brim

MATERIALS

  • 1 skein Malabrigo Twist 100% Merino; 150 yds per 100g skein – shown in Olive OR
  • 2 skeins Malabrigo Angora 100% Angora; 50 yds per 60g skein – shown in Primavera
  • U.S. size 7 (4.5 mm) 16” circular needle
  • U.S. size 10 (6 mm) 16”circular needle
  • U.S. size 10 (6 mm) dpns or long circular needle for Magic Loop
  • tapestry needle
  • scrap yarn for optional pom pom (Shown in Malabrigo Merino Worsted in Dove)

GAUGE
16 sts/25 rows = 4 inches in stockinette stitch on size 7 needles
13 sts/20 rows = 4 inches in stockinette stitch on size 10 needles

Buy it now for U.S. $5.00

Laetiporus

Laetiporus is a genus of edible mushrooms that grow in brackets from living trees. The shelf like construction and bright yellow color make for a spectacular sight in the damp woods. The Laetiporus scarf mimics, with a wide and gentle garter ruffle, the broad ripples of Laetiporus mushrooms. Although the scarf pictured here is extremely long, the simple lace and short row ruffle pattern can be made to any desired length for an unsual and wearable scarf that will stand out and keep your neck toasty warm. Refer to the chart or the written pattern to meet your comfort level.

SIZE
8 inches wide by 100 inches long

MATERIALS

  • 3 skeins Malabrigo Merino Worsted 100% Merino wool; 210 yds per 100g skein – shown in Frank Ochre
  • U.S. size 10 (6 mm) needles
  • tapestry needle

GAUGE
15 sts/20 rows = 4 inches in stockinette stitch on size 10 needles

Buy it now for U.S. $5.00

Amanita Muscaria

The Amanita Muscaria mushroom is one of the most iconic fungi around. The cheery red cap with the white spots disguises the fact that the mushroom is actually quite poisonous. These happy mitts have all the geniality of the Amanita Muscaria mushroom with none of the danger. The simple stranded colorwork pattern makes an easy introduction to stranded colorwork or a relaxing interlude for those already familiar with the technique. Change the colors around for a fun polka dot look. In lightweight Malabrigo Sock, these mitts are perfect for nippy spring weather.

SIZE
one size fits most adult hands

MATERIALS

  • 1 skein Malabrigo Sock 100% Superwash Merino; 440 yds per 100g skein in MC – shown in Natural
  • 1 skein Malabrigo Sock 100% Superwash Merino; 440 yds per 100g skein in CC – shown in Ravelry Red
  • U.S. size 1 (2.25 mm) dpns or long circular needle for Magic Loop
  • U.S. size 2.5 (3 mm) dpns or long circular needle for Magic Loop
  • tapestry needle
  • waste yarn

GAUGE
30 sts/32 rows = 4 inches in colorwork pattern in larger needles

Buy it now for U.S. $5.00

Verdure

April’s lush new growth fills the woodland floors in a riot of bright young greens and fast growing leafy plants reaching for the light before the canopy fills in entirely. This shawl, composed of different leaf shapes and Faroese construction, is inspired by the verdant hues and herbage of spring. Both sizes result in a true shawl rather than a shawlette, good for wrapping around a short sleeved top or light dress on a cool evening. Both samples were knit in spring greens, but it would be easy to change the season by changing the colors. Greys or whites for frosty winter, oranges, reds, or golds for autumn, deep greens for summer.

NOTE: There are two PDFs, one labeled charts, one labeled written. These are identical in content, but have different layouts to more easily facilitate chart users or those who rely on the written pattern. Both have the charts and the written pattern.

SIZES
Small: 60 inches wide, 24 inches long
Large: 85 inches wide, 34 inches long

MATERIALS

  • 2 skeins Malabrigo Sock for size Small 100% Superwash Merino; 440 yds per 100g skein – shown in Lettuce
  • 4 skeins Malabrigo Silky Merino for size Large 51% Silk, 49% Merino; 150 yds per 50g skein – shown in Manzanilla Olive
  • U.S. size 6 (4 mm) 24” or longer circular needle for size Small
  • U.S. size 8 (5 mm) 24” or longer circular needle for size Large
  • tapestry needle

GAUGE
Small: 26 sts/34 rows = 4 inches in stockinette stitch on size 6 needles
Large: 19 sts/24 rows = 4 inches in stockinette stitch on size 8 needle

Buy now for U.S. $6.50

Light and Shade

Variegated yarns frequently call my name, but I often have trouble knitting them up. Patterns that looked beautiful in theory can look messy in reality. Light and Shade is a simple cowl designed for use with those tough but beautiful Malabrigo variegateds. The slip stitch honeycomb pattern breaks up the colors and gives a look of dappled light rather than pooling or messiness. An attached i-cord edging makes a neat, tailored edge that looks great without much effort. The button placket is a great opportunity to use some pretty buttons and the cowl sits differently depending on how many holes you button.

SIZE
Small: 7 inches high, 20 inches wide.
Large: 7 inches high, 24 inches wide.

MATERIALS

  • 1 skein Malabrigo Merino Worsted 100% Merino; 210 yds per 100g skein – shown in Jaen (Small) and Mariposa (Large)
  • 1 set U.S. size 6 (4 mm) needles
  • 1 set U.S. size 10 (6 mm) needles
  • 3 buttons (19 mm)
  • tapestry needle

GAUGE
15 sts/20 rows = 4 inches in stockinette stitch on size 10 needles

Buy it now for U.S. $4.00

Woodpigeon Mitts

Spring brings a host of avian life to the woods, and the sounds and sights of birds fill the usually quiet groves and thickets. The Woodpigeon Mitts take a simple feathered lace pattern inspired by some of the feathered occupants of the forest, and create a dramatic and dashing fitted mitt that is light and warm. The elbow length mitts can easily be shortened for a more everyday look, while the longer version hints at old movie star glamour and sophistication.

SIZE
Small, Large

MATERIALS

  • 2 skeins Malabrigo Silky Merino 51% Silk, 49% Merino; 150 yds per 50g skein – shown in Cape Cod Gray
  • 1 set U.S. size 5 (3.75 mm) dpns OR long circular needle for Magic Loop
  • tapestry needle

GAUGE
22 sts/30 rows = 4 inches in stockinette stitch

Buy it now for U.S. $5.00

Or buy the whole collection at a discount of almost 50% for U.S. $16.00

A little something

July 29, 2010

Two little somethings, really!  I have been meaning to make mitts for all my kids for ages now, but somehow it always gets put off.  Come autumn and winter, our walks to school involve nippy weather and little hands feel pinched.  Pockets help, of course, but mitts would be even better.  And of course, the poor kiddos with the knitting mother don’t have any.  I had some leftover Sanguine Gryphon Bugga! from a test knit for Westknits that I can’t yet show you, and the color is Liam’s favorite, so it seemed like fate to whip him up a pair of little mitts.

The yardage on the Bugga! must be very generous, because I still have a fair quantity left over when I’d expected to use it all up in the test knit!  It is such a pleasure to knit with this yarn.  It’s unusual for yarn this soft to feel so sturdy, and of course, the color is amazing.  This is Beyer’s Jewel Scarab, and it looks like a solid, but there are little variations in the color that are just beautiful – barely there blues and yellows that give the color depth and beauty.  I could squish these all day.  There’s a decent chance that they’ll be lost early in the school year, of course, but with so little yarn and time spent, I think it’s worth it!  Now I just need to make mitts for the other two.

Plain and simple

May 3, 2010

Oh my gourd, you guys.  I am so tired.  I don’t know what’s going on, but I’ve been falling asleep in the middle of the day lately.  I’ve got a huge list of things I want to get done and only so much energy to do them.  However, I’m proud of the fact that I’m sorta keeping up despite the tiredness.

As a result of the tiredness, I’m on the lookout for simple, relaxing projects I can pick up when I have some down time.  I keep finding things that are perfect, just perfect, and then realizing that the needles I need are in use, or that I don’t have needles in the right size.  So annoying.  However, in a little spot of just right, I made these plain fingerless mitts.

They’re almost aggressively plain knitting wise, but that’s just what I needed.  Garter rib and stockinette.  The yarn is some Patons Classic Wool that I got in a trade and then had trouble making use of.  It’s so pretty in color, but it does tend to pool and when it does, it is not attractive.  These little mitts are just the right size to break up the colors in the skein, and I think they’re pretty cute.  They’re for my aunt, who has worn out the first fingerless mitts I made her.

Thanks for all the thoughtful responses to my last post.  Every time someone responded, I’d think, “Yeah, that!  And I forgot to mention that, too!”  I may not have the largest readership, but I think I’ve got one of the most interesting readerships.  I love what you all have to say.  Thanks for forcing me to think again and again!  I will address some of the responses more specifically, but that whole tiredness thing is overwhelming right now.  My brain, it cannot keep up!

Veyla

March 26, 2010

And they only took me 25 days!  I knit like the wind, baby.  I’m just going to give the straight up stats here.  Liam’s been sick this week, and has been waking in the night and we’re all like zombies, as a result and I’m afraid actual paragraphs are beyond me.

Pattern: Veyla, from Whimsical Little Knits 2
Yarn: Malabrigo Sock, in color Ochre
Yardage: using my awesome new scale, I can assure you that they used 132 yards of yarn.
Needles: Knit Picks fixed circulars, U.S, size 3
Modifications: None at all.  This is a very well written, fun pattern, and the only thing I did to change it in any way was to bind off fairly tightly.  I find that mitts often tell me to bind off loosely, and I regret it if I do.

These are so pretty and comfy.  I love the yarn and pattern both, and I’m so glad I made them!

Round up

March 24, 2010

There’s been some secret knitting in the past few days.  I’m trying to rearrange my schedule around the fact that I won’t have Sunniva out when I’d planned, and I thought I’d work on getting some smaller projects done quickly, so as to be able to release a pattern sometime in the spring, whether Sunniva is done or not.  So that’s quietly underway, and I’m getting a little excited about the possibilities.

There’s been some less secretive knitting as well.  I finished up my Milkweed Shawl, and that was a nice, fast, mojo-returning project.   I stuck it on a chair in the backyard and took some underwhelming pictures today, but rest assured, it’s super pretty and snuggly in real life.  The pattern is fun to knit, and the fact that it’s all garter is kept from becoming boring by the fact that there are those columns of lace to deal with throughout.

The yarn makes me ridiculously happy.  It’s so cheerful and fun to work with.  It’s squishy and soft and the colors are beautiful.

I also finished (well, except for sewing in the ends) one of my Veyla mitts.  This pattern goes quite fast when you sit down and work on it for more than a few minutes at a time!

I cannot tell you how much I love this pattern.  For serious and for true.  It’s ridiculously clever, with every little detail well thought out and considered in order to give you the prettiest possible result.  These are not going to be the most practical mitts I’ve made, but they will, no doubt, be the prettiest.

Speaking of mitts, my aunt was in town recently and mentioned (and proved) that she’s worn some mitts I made ages ago until they are quite literally falling apart!  She really could use some more mitts, so that’s on my to-do list now.  The mitts I made for her were based on the simple Fingerless Garter Mitts in One Skein, but knit in worsted yarn rather than fingering weight yarn.  I’m thinking something similarly simple, but slightly different this time round.  Maybe Susie’s Reading Mitts, or Ysolda’s Garter Stitch Mitts.  Heck, maybe both!

Also in mitt news, the Dos Emerald Mitts I made that were confiscated by Mr. Kninja continued their Yankee Swap existence when a visiting friend tried them on and didn’t want to take them off.  We gave them to him and now he will not have to freeze his hands when painting out of doors.  Win!  I’ve had people ask me if fingerless mitts actually make sense as a garment, and my answer is a resounding yes.  They’re fabulous for when you still need your fingers free, but your hands are a little cold.  And they look so cool.

In between

March 11, 2010

In between the big projects, I like to work on a lot of little projects to keep me from running mad.  Most of my knitting time at the moment is devoted to Sunniva, but when I can say, “I’ve made some real progress today and now I need to set this down because my mind is starting to wander,” that’s when I can pick up one of the little projects.

The main little project right now is Veyla.  I loved the pattern as soon as it came out, and since I have far more Ochre Sock than I need for Sunniva, I’m using a small amount of my spare skein to make a pair of lacy and lovely little mitts.  This is actually a fast, well written project, but I’m inching along ever so slowly, primarily because I only knit a few rows at a go, between long bouts with Sunniva.

That was my only little project for a while.  I finished a little birthday surprise (sort of surprise, anyway) for my mom, but it was just Veyla and Sunniva, Sunniva and Veyla, until I realized that Liam doesn’t have a cowl and doesn’t wear his scarf.  All of my kids are asthmatic, and it’s essential to keep the neck well wrapped in cold weather.  I had a coupon to my local yarn store, so I used it to get a skein of Malabrigo Worsted in a color of Liam’s choice, and then I was all set to make him a Windschief cowl, just like his brother’s, but it turned out Liam had other ideas.  Yeah.  He wanted a cowl with a rocket on it.  So I thought, “Fine.  There are all these cool dishcloth patterns with pretty pictures on them, and surely someone has come up with a rocket chart.”

Not so much.  There is a cute rocket dishcloth, but it appears to be written rather than charted, and what I really wanted was a chart.  So I made one.  And now I’m spending my spare time whipping up a rocket cowl.

My chart is cute, but unfortunately, Liam did not choose a solid colored skein of Malabrigo.  It’s not wildly variegated, but it is variegated, and that is obscuring the rocket a bit.  But, on the other hand, it’s a rocket cowl!  In Emerald Blue!

The big project of the last week was painting our living room wall.  That took a lot more work than I’d imagined.  But now we have a green wall!

This picture was taken before I’d finished putting things back on the bookshelves, but I’m very happy with the color, and it just makes the room feel so much warmer and less sterile.

Splayed on the back of the couch, and somewhat visible, is the Kaffe Fassett fabric I used to make throw pillows for the couch.  I have a good deal of it left, and was trying to figure out other ways to use it in the room.  I think it really ties all the colors together.

So that’s what I’m up to lately apart from the new pattern!  It’s nice to have small, relaxing projects as well as the big hairy ones.

Lifesplosion!

March 4, 2010

So behind!  Stitches and the end of Ravelympics came in quick succession, and I met up with a bunch of wonderful people and now I’m leading a Malabrigo March KAL (join us!) and working hard on a new pattern.  And I’ve blogged about none of it.  Because I’m sporadic that way.  Now I just need to work on convincing people that sporadic is a synonym of wonderful.

Right!  First things first.  I finished my second Ravelympics project, the blue fingerless mitts mentioned last time, and they were promptly claimed by Mr. Kninja, who loves them and squeezes them and calls them George.  He has worn them a lot since I finished them and it is because they are squishy and warm and utterly fantastic.  Malabrigo, dahlinks, please, please, please release Dos next? Please?  It’s such a nice yarn to use.  I suspect that it will ultimately pill, but the ply makes it sturdier than the Worsted, and oh my goodness, it is plump and wonderful.  Also, it has not grown the way my Worsted sometimes does.

Let us speak of M1 for a moment.  There are, of course, many ways to make one in a knitting pattern.  I have a favorite way, and I used it on these mitts.  I’m very happy with how the increases look around the thumb, so let me see if I have a picture that better displays these increases.

There we go.  OK, the increase I like to use is one mentioned by Elizabeth Zimmermann in one of her books, possibly more than one, but I definitely learned it from EZ.  As far as I know, it does not have a mirror increase, so there’s a small disadvantage there, but I think it’s neat and clean enough that it looks good in all situations.  Using the right hand needle, you pick up a stitch below the next stitch on your left hand needle and knit into the back of this stitch.  It’s very similar to a M1L increase, but it’s slightly neater, and results in an almost invisible, tight increase.

Yeah, yeah, mitts, you’re thinking.  Fine.  But where are the pictures of yarn??  You are so impatient.  Here they are!

I realize that compared to some other folks, this is a pretty modest haul, but other than in buying sweater quantities of yarn, I have never bought so much yarn at one time, ever, in my whole life.  It was largely thanks to the generosity of some of my favorite knitting buddies that I was able to get this yarn, so I am very, very grateful.

I shopped with a purpose.  There were a few projects I was looking forward to and I wanted to get yarn for them.

The above is Becoming Art Cielo Fingering in New Moon (Light).  Isn’t is gorgeous?  I’m not usually very good at working with yarns that have a lot of colors in them.  I like tone on tone variegation.  But Becoming Art yarns make me so so happy!  Lisa, the talented dyer, manages to work colors that are very different into a harmonious whole, and her yarns knit up beautifully.  I made a Clothilde for my mother in law some months back in this same base, and the bright purples and browns and pinks just sang.  I got to meet Lisa, and she’s as nice as her yarns.  At the time that I made my Clothilde, I thought that the yarn would work really well for a Milkweed Shawl.  This yarn is for a bright autumnal Milkweed for me.  I don’t know when I’ll have time to knit it up, but I cannot wait.  The colors mean that every stitch is going to be a pleasure.  The Fiber Fix has a lovely selection of Becoming Art yarns, too, and I’m really coveting the Outlaw and Wicked shades for future projects.

This is Little Red Bicycle Snowflake Sock in Cthulu.  Yes, it really does look iridescent in real life.  It reminds me of fly eyes.  I almost didn’t see this gorgeous skein when I was in the Femme Fatale/Little Red Bicycle booth, but luckily my eye fell on it before I headed out with the wrong color in hand.  One of my big goals for the year is to knit a pair of fingering weight socks and finish both of them.  With that goal in mind, I was looking for a wool/nylon blend sock yarn in a color so inspiring, I’d have to finish my socks because I’d be so eager to work with the yarn.  This is my sock yarn.  I am in love with it.  And Didi of Little Red Bicycle is awesome!  I’ve actually been following her on Ravelry for a while without connecting her to her yarn, so it was really cool to meet her and to see the gorgeous stuff she’s been making.

Which brings us on to Femme Fatale, in the same booth!  Liz of Femme Fatale is also the designer of the Traveling Woman and Saroyan shawls (and other pretty things), so you may be familiar with her work.  The above is some lovely Lilith Sport in Poison Sleep.  I was blown away by the blues and reds of the Femme Fatale yarns.  This skein is for an exchange.  It’s a full 400 yards, which I thought was pretty darn awesome!  I was lucky enough to go into the booth in a slightly slower time, so I could stop and chat a bit.  It’s going to get a bit repetitive as I keep saying how nice people were, but yeah, everyone I met was really freaking nice, and Liz was no exception.  Perhaps next time, yarnies, one of you should punch me in the face to stand out in the later blog entry.  😉

Miss Babs Yummy Toes in Violet and maybe Peony, maybe Dahlia? shown with Malabrigo Sock in Violeta Africana, not purchased at Stitches.   These little skeins are for the colorwork in Eleanor’s Paper Dolls Sweater.  I’ve had the main purple color for a while and known that she wanted pink dolls and white or pale purple flowers, but I was reluctant to purchase whole skeins of sock yarn in pale purple or pink.  I just don’t think I’d use them up.  Now Nora gets her PonyPrincessGirlyGirlyGirly sweater and I don’t have to try to find a use for yards and yards of princess pony colored yarn.

Toots LeBlanc Jacob/Alpaca 50/50 Blend–Worsted in White.  I have already used half this skein to make a hat, to be shown in a coming post.  It’s so scrummy.  In the skein and knit up, it’s very soft.  Oddly, while knitting it, it felt very hard on my fingers, but because of the lanolin content, my fingers actually softened while I was working with it.  The resulting fabric is strong and warm, but also very soft.  I love it.  It’s a sheepy wool, very satisfying to use.  And I love my hat.

Malabrigo Twist, in Paris Night and Sealing Wax, for a hat for Mr. Kninja and a chance for me to try Twist and see whether I think it will work well for a sweater.  Not much to be said.  My love of Malabrigo is well known and this looks to be a very nice yarn, very squishy and soft.  I am hoping it will not pill as much as Worsted, since it’s plied.  We shall see.

I have more I want to write, but this is getting crazy long!  I’ll conclude in a second post!

Birthday knit, mitts, and Stitches

February 25, 2010

Say that three times fast!

My little sister’s birthday was yesterday.  I had previewed her birthday present on here, but hadn’t dared show a finished picture in case she happened along and I ruined the surprise!  (Which is my wont, anyway.  I get so excited about gifts that I bubble and giggle and give everything away right then and there.)  The present was, of course, a Liesl, and seriously, women in my life, look out, because this is just such a fun, fast pattern that I think it’s going to be my go-to gift for a while.

Erin wears a lot of black, which looks great with her coloring, and I wanted to make her a fun and bright spring cardigan to wear over her black wardrobe.  I knew it had to be bright magenta, but bright magenta turns out not to be that easily come by.  Apparently the world is not clamoring for crazyhappyfuntimes yarn of wackiness.   Happy for me, I stumbled along the Blue Moon website and found the Backstabber colorway.  The photos on the Blue Moon site are a little washed out, but Flickr is a great resource in this respect.  Backstabber it was.

The pattern is fast and easy and awesome, and I’ve already talked about that here, so I want to talk a little about the yarn.  The yarn is Luscious Single Silk (LSS), and it’s a single ply silk/merino blend.  It’s very, very soft, and you get 500 yards to a skein, which makes it a great deal.  I hate to look a gift horse in the mouth, and I think I’ll use it again, but I think it’s worth noting that there are some problems with this yarn. Or rather, not so much problems as potentially problematic characteristics.

The Sundara Aran Silky Merino (ASM) I used for my own Liesl was also a worsted weight silk/merino blend.  Since I used both these yarns for the same pattern in quick succession, it was difficult not to compare them, although the Sundara costs more than twice as much.  It’s like comparing apples to apples that were grown by monks and lovingly sprinkled with the tears of orphans each morning so that they can charge you $5 an apple at the store.  Or something.  But the first difference I noticed was the color.  Although the LSS is bright and beautiful, it is not as saturated as the ASM.  There’s a different dye process, of course, and they’re not meant to look alike, but I had expected the yarn to look more saturated with color than it was.  (This doesn’t show up in the finished photos, really.  Check the side by side comparison shot below to see what I mean.  The colors are very different, but the LSS looks softer.)

Second, the yarn itself is different.  I don’t know how well it shows in the above photos, but the ASM is spun more tightly than the LSS.  I think this is pretty important with a single ply.  When I was knitting with the ASM, it felt pretty strong to me, and I never felt too worried that it was going to break, or that I was mistreating it.  The LSS, on the other hand, untwisted very easily, and as I was sewing in the ends, it actually separated and came apart.  I think the knit item is strong enough that it’s not a worry there, but it does look like it will show wear more quickly.  I think Liesl’s not likely to be worn in any harsh ways, so I’d use it again for another Liesl, but for a pullover or a mitt or anything that will undergo a lot of friction, this is a serious consideration.

I don’t know if this is the yarn or my skills and equipment, but in the winding there was an unusual amount of tangling.  I rewound from the cake, which is my usual solution when the first winding doesn’t go well, but even then it twisted and snaked and knotted and tangled, and there was a lot of rewinding by hand.  I am not sure why this happened, but it may be worth a mention.

With all of that, it’s a nice yarn, and I liked working with it!  I sound like I disliked it, but really, it’s gorgeous, inexpensive, and luxurious, and I’m glad it’s out there.  I do think, though, that it’s helpful to note potential problems for other knitters.  One more shot!

I’m almost done with my Azul mitts.  The pattern’s fast and easy and pretty, and while I thought of it as rather feminine, Mr. Kninja is angling to get the mitts for himself, so it may suit dudes as well as ladies.  (It may just be the color, though.  The Azul Profundo looks a lot like this color we both favor for vintage cars.)  It’s not an especially fleshed out pattern, so I wouldn’t recommend it to a knitter making mitts for the first time, but it’s a free pattern and it’s not going to be difficult to follow for anyone familiar with the process of knitting mitts.

Finally, my schedule for Stitches!  I’ll be there most of the day on Friday, wandering around the market, looking tall and probably bewildered.  If you see me, come over and say hi!  I may be there Saturday morning as well, depending on how my back feels after Friday.  So, so excited!

One last thing.  I’ll do a separate post on this shortly, and add a button to the sidebar, but if you like both Arabella and Clothilde, you can now purchase them together for a more than 20% discount.  Both shawls are available for $10 on Ravelry, under the name Two Ladies.  As I say, I’ll make them available here, too, shortly.

Springing up

February 22, 2010

It’s not here yet, not quite, but spring is coming, and I can feel it!  Today is a rare sunny day in a long span of El Niño related bluster and rain.  Don’t get me wrong: I’m thrilled about the rain.   California’s been in drought long enough that rain is always welcome.  But long rainy days one on the other do make a person a little claustrophobic and gloomy, and that golden sun today is like a shot of adrenaline!

My argula knows that spring is coming.  It’s all bolted and sent out funny lopsided four petaled flowers.  The winter garden has been a bit of flop, with illness keeping me from tending it and the plants have not done all that well with the neglect, but I hope to get things back in order for spring.

Nora’s been on a sewing kick ever since our Valentine’s kitty project.  Of her own volition, she traced a magnet shaped like a raygun onto felt and asked for help in cutting it out.  Then she seamed the pieces together and stuffed it and sewed it up and tied it off.  The only thing I helped with was the cutting and threading the needle!  Unfortunately, the raygun, named Boa, was quickly misplaced, but today she made a heart shaped pillow for her mouse puppet, Anatole.

I’m working on some Emerald Fingerless Mitts from a black pepper for another Ravelympics project.  Mine aren’t Emerald, but are rather a lovely blue: Azul Profundo.  I frogged the March mitts I’d started in my Malabrigo Dos last year, and I’m making these instead.  I loved the yarn, but the stitch definition wasn’t right for the pattern as I was knitting it.  These seem like a much better match.  Whether I’ll give them away or keep them for myself isn’t yet clear to me.  I love the color and the yarn, but I already have a number of fingerless mitts, and yet more planned, so giving them away seems logical and kind, especially as the yarn was a free gift from Malabrigo.  Pass it on and all that!  But it’s hard to determine on good deeds when temptation in the form of soft, springy blue yarn is ever present.  We shall see.

The new sweater project is whipping right along.  I bought some buttons earlier in the month for the newbie, and that made me realize that I’ve never really taken pictures of my button collection.  Here are a few of my favorites, including the new buttons for the sweaters-in-waiting.  Most of my buttons are old (new to me, but old) and obtained through inheritance, garage sales, Ebay, Etsy, and thrifting.  I cut the buttons off old garments before I make rags, and I hoard them all in my little button drawer, which is a terrible mess.

I have strong opinions about buttons.  I’m not terribly sentimental, and while I enjoy history, I don’t have any nostalgia for bygone days of yore.  I’m very happy to have been born in 1979, thankyouverymuch, and I have no desire to time travel or to find myself back in Regency days being wooed by Mr. Darcy or some such nonsense.  However.  I do believe very strongly that the necessity of craft having declined, we’ve left some of our best techniques behind us.  Buttons are a prime example.  My vintage buttons are better made, more interesting, and longer lasting than the buttons I find even at specialty craft stores these days.  The cost of new buttons is horrifying to me, considering that they are usually mass produced, made of cheap plastic, and might not last all that long.  I do occasionally buy new buttons, but it’s not something I enjoy doing.  Old buttons, however, offer a world of excitement.  I have in the past often bought large mixed bags of buttons obtained at estate sales and then offered on Ebay.  For ten or fifteen dollars, I get a picture of someone else’s crafting life, along with buttons of character and interest.

There’s also something to be said for using buttons that have been worn and used before.  I don’t just mean in terms of recycling.  Of course, that’s an added bonus, but I think there’s a lot of scope for imagination in someone else’s clothes.  My new sweaters will be made by me.  I drew the sketch, I bought the (new) yarn, I’m knitting them up with my own two hands.  The buttons attached to them will be Victorian or Edwardian glass buttons, buttons that once adorned another woman in some other time and place on some very different garment.  Buttons were never cheap, even when people made most of their own clothes, and there was a fad in the mid to late 19th century, immortalized in Caddy Woodlawn, for clothing with as many buttons as possible, just to show off the wealth and skill of the seamstress.  I can’t sew buttonholes very well, and the thought of sewing forty tiny buttonholes by hand down a long fitted dress gives me shivers.  Perhaps my lovely little buttons were once the pride of someone else’s wardrobe.

Yes, buttons are a joy forever.

Other news: I’m going to Stitches West this weekend, thanks largely to the generosity of others (there are some lovely, lovely people out there in the online knitting world, let me tell you!) and I’d love to see any of you who plan on being there!  I’m going only to the market, and I’ll have the day settled later today when I hear from my husband about his weekend plans.  I’ll post again shortly with a more specific date, but in the meantime, let me know if you’re going to be there!  My apologies if I don’t email back right away.  I’m still working out the kinks here so that my emails don’t post to the blog automatically, and it’s making me gunshy of sending off a reply.