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Baby Blue Vest

18 Aug

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My nephew will be born in the next couple of weeks. Even though babies can’t comprehend the time and effort that goes into hand-knit items, I hope all the affection I poured into these stitches will sink into his soft little body and help him know he is loved.

The pattern, Viggo, is for a little striped vest, but I love this so much more. The main yarn is Araucania Lontue, a thick/thin light fingering weight cotton/linen blend. It’s not as soft as most baby yarns due to the linen content, but it will get softer with wear and washing, and as a vest it will be worn over shirts or onesies. Check out more technical details on my Ravelry page.

I got this yarn on closeout when one of my local yarn shops decided to shut down, and I used about half of one skein for this vest. I will definitely use the remaining yarn to make another baby vest or sweater, because I think this is too cute.

It’s not often that I don’t want to let go of a knitted item, but I’m sorry to see this leave. I won’t be around to see my nephew while he’s a little babe (they live several states away) so I won’t even get to enjoy cuddling him while he wears this. But I guess that’s what you get when you live away from your family.

This also makes a great companion for the striped bonnet I knit this spring.

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The Reveal

30 Jul

My parents visited this past weekend, and I was finally able to give them their birthday gifts. Allow me to present Quill for my mom, and Caldwell for my dad.

Quill, designed by Jared Flood, was published in the 2011 Brooklyn Tweed Spring Thaw collection.

Caldwell, designed by Stephen West, was published in Brooklyn Tweed Wool People Volume 1.

Both of these projects were knit with Knit Picks simply organic cotton – Quill in sport weight, and Caldwell in worsted weight. The colors suit my parents’ wardrobes and personalities, and I feel the patterns complement each other well. I hope they have wonderful knitwear date nights when the weather gets chilly.

Both of these projects were challenging for me in their own ways. Quill is a simple pattern, but it’s huge and requires a lot of time, patience, and blocking with wires. Caldwell is seamed and finished with an i-cord bind off all around. This was a new technique for me and took a lot of time.

I was so pleased that my parents loved their gifts. Their reaction made all of the hard work and long nights worth it. I unfortunately forgot to pull the beautiful photo of both of them wearing their gifts off my mom’s camera before they left, but perhaps I can get it on the blog later.

Additionally, my dad added a wonderful treat to my mom’s gift and bought her a silver shawl pin that features oak leaves, one of my mom’s favorite motifs. All in all, I think she had a beautiful 50th birthday, and my dad will have a great 62nd next weekend.

But you know, my parents weren’t the only ones who received gifts this weekend. I got some new toys, too! Most notably, my mom brought me some gorgeous rosewood Knitter’s Pride Cubic DPNs. These square needles are ergonomic, strong, and create more uniform stitches.

The GNP socks are still in progress. I’ve missed the deadline for the competition, but hopefully they can still make it up to Whitefish in time for the auction.

Because I just started a new job (which I love!) and had family visit, my lofty goals of completing my GNP socks and competing in the Ravellenic Games (formerly the Ravelympics) were not realized. I did, however, cast on a sweater with the yarn I had set aside for the competition.

Great things start with small beginnings. That’s what I’m going to keep telling myself.

This little sleeve will eventually be the Agnes Pullover from the latest issue of Knitscene. I don’t normally purchase that magazine, but just about every pattern in the fall issue is gorgeous, especially Agnes.

I had hoped to have some more impressive in-progress projects to share right now, but I am so happy I took time to relax and enjoy my family’s visit. My parents and aunt don’t get to come out here often, and the Ravellenic Games aren’t a good reason to ignore my family.

Notes

  • Quill is a traditional Shetland hap shawl.
  • The buttons featured on the Caldwell vest are apple wood and purchased from Woods of Narnia on Etsy.

5 projects from this knitter’s queue

27 Apr

Like many knitters, my eyes are often bigger than my stash. I have a huge collection of patterns – downloaded online and purchased in magazines and books – that I desperately want to knit for myself, but I just don’t have the time/yarn/money. Here are five of my favorite queued items just waiting for me to get my stuff together. I’ll start with the head and work my way down:

#1 Year of the Rabbit Hat, Betsy Farquhar


As the proud adopted mother of a house rabbit, I love all things bunny-related. This hat pattern came out in 2011 (the Chinese year of the rabbit) and has been in my queue ever since. It would only cost $16 for the yarn, but the problem here is that I need two sets of needles I don’t have, which would cost an additional $16. That makes this a $32 hat, which is just a bit steep for one small project. As I gradually acquire the right needles, this will move from my queue to my current projects. Link to pattern.

#2 Stripe Study Shawl, Veera Välimäki


Here’s another project that wouldn’t cost too much to make. I already have the needles and the yarn would only run me about $12. The problem here is time and commitment. Shawls are beautiful and cushy, and I love nothing more than having something to snuggle with, but they require A LOT of knitting. It’s a big undertaking to start a shawl, especially one that is entirely garter stitch. This beauty is 63″ across at it’s longest point, and with fingering-weight yarn those rows are a bit longer than I can bring myself to think about right now. I will definitely make this shawl, but I need to work up to it and come to terms with the idea that it may be a long-term project. Link to pattern.

#3 Larch Cardigan, Amy Christoffers


Isn’t it beautiful? I adore cardigans, and the simple design and structure of this pattern gets me daydreaming about crisp fall afternoons with crunchy leaves under my feet and a warm chai in my hand. Perfection. The only problem is I have a 40″ chest circumference, and that lovely drapey design of the cardigan doesn’t transfer so well onto my busty frame. Years of experience have taught me to be wary of anything with a roomy look, because I’ll fill that extra space out and be miserable. Since I’ve started running again I hope I can slim down a little and maybe lose a couple of inches around my bust line, which would make this cardigan a more realistic design for my frame. Here’s to hoping. Link to pattern.

#4 Dimorphous Mittens, Miriam L. Felton


These neat little mittens actually have two parts: The inner mitten, knit in fingering-weight yarn, and the outer, button-on mitten, knit in sport or DK-weight yarn. This means I could knit a single inner mitten and several outer mittens to change the color combinations and overall look. I don’t have a good reason to explain why I haven’t knit these yet. They’ve been in my queue forever, I don’t really want any mittens more than I want these, and they wouldn’t be expensive to make. This project just keeps taking the back burner to my other knitting whimsies. Poor mittens. I’ll make them someday. Maybe. Link to pattern.

#5 Ellington Socks, Cookie A


The Ellington Socks is one of the first sock patterns I bought after I knit my very first pair of socks last year. I quickly realized I had bit off more than I could chew. Cookie A is a sock genius, and just like you need to know more than basic addition to understand what Einstein was talking about, I needed to log several more hours learning how to knit socks before I could understand Cookie A’s charts. The thing about Cookie A is that there are several things going on all at once with her patterns, so you really need to be vigilant and have a firm grasp of basic sock construction to identify if you’ve taken a wrong step somewhere. Now that I have developed those skills and even knit another of her patterns (Cusp), I’m just waiting for the perfect yarn for these Ellington Socks. I want something with that hand-dyed look in a brilliant raspberry (like pictured), peacock blue, or grass-green color. The selection of vegan sock yarns is pretty dismal, so I’ll continue to keep my eyes peeled. I know I wouldn’t be satisfied with anything less than spectacular yarn for this spectacular pattern. I’ve definitely held it on a pedestal for that past year, and I’m not ready to pull it down just yet. Link to pattern.

What patterns are in your queue? I’m always looking to get distracted from my plans.

Little Coffee Bean Cardigan

14 Apr

Grosgrain ribbon reinforces the back of the button band, keeping the fabric from puckering.

This week I continued my baby-knitting fever and made Elizabeth Smith’s Little Coffee Bean Cardigan. This sweater is meant to feature stripes, but I love the look of the simple brown cardigan with classic buttons.

The sweater is sized for a 6-month old, and is very soft and cushy, knit with about 300 yards of Berroco Comfort Worsted in Coffeeberry.

The buttons are plastic and machine washable, just like the sweater, but look like traditional leather buttons. The button band is reinforced on the back with 7/8″ grograin ribbon to keep the fabric from puckering due to pulling on the button shanks.

This was a fun, sweet project to work on all week. Every day I had another big chunk of it done (the joy of baby knitting!) and it’s so exciting to see a sweater bloom from a pattern that quickly.

The pattern is free and I’ll definitely keep it in mind for future projects. You can easily experiment with stripes and colorwork on the blank-slate stockinette of the body and sleeves.

I purchased the yarn on clearance months ago at Loopy Knit/Crochet in Missoula and the ribbon and buttons were less than $5 at my local Jo-Ann Fabrics.

I think I’m officially over my baby craze (for awhile) and I’m back to working on my stripy socks – a project that was delayed by misplaced Addi Turbos.

The yarn is Berroco Comfort Sock in the Dunedin colorway. This yarn is only $8 per skein, and each skein is 447 yards. It's an amazing deal for soft, durable yarn.

I have some yarn coming in the mail this week for a gift. Yes, we’re entering that long birthday season in my family, so many of my big projects can’t be revealed on this blog until after they are gifted. I will try to keep up some little projects and write about knitting-related topics during this time, and I definitely won’t let the blog go dormant this year!

Right now, though, I’m headed outside because it is GORGEOUS and I have a vintage Schwinn cruiser with my name on it.

New Additions

30 Dec

This strawberry yarn bowl was made by a local artist and purchased at Loopy Knit/Crochet.

This Christmas some new knitting materials came into our house. Firstly, my mom (knowing that I love to shop local) contacted the owner of Loopy Knit/Crochet in Missoula and purchased this locally made yarn bowl and some yarn for me.

I’ve been wanting a yarn bowl for about a year now. That special cutout in the side helps me pull up my yarn from its ball, while the bowl keeps the yarn from rolling around the floor and getting covered in bunny fur … or attacked by the bunny.

This bowl is a great size. The yarn is a skein of Blue Sky Alpaca Worsted Cotton in the “True Red” colorway. The skein is 150 yards, a common size for a single skein of yarn, so this bowl should hold any yarn I’m working with perfectly.

The design of the bowl itself also couldn’t be more perfect for me. I love strawberries, and when I was a little girl, my favorite time of year was the summer Strawberry Festival. One year my mom even made me a strawberry dress especially for the festival. Moms remember this kind of stuff, and it made this great Christmas present even better.

This hand-dyed vegan sock yarn is based on the colors of "The Castle in the Sky".

My youngest brother-in-law also hit a homerun with my Christmas gift this year. I’m always drooling over the beautiful, hand-dyed yarns created by Quo Vadis Handspun. Much of this yarn is dyed in colorways based on the palettes of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli animated films. This yarn is based on the colors of Laputa, the hidden flying city in my favorite Miyazaki film: The Castle in the Sky.

This skein of yarn will make one pair of socks, but I’m still undecided on which pattern I’ll use. The yarn itself is 75% bamboo/25% nylon, so it will be shiny, light and stretch back into shape. I’m going to look for a pattern using lace or cables to highlight the gorgeous colors.

New England Knits is a great book published by Interweave Press.

The final addition to my knitting collection this Christmas was a large stocking stuffer picked out by my husband. New England Knits by Cecily Glowik MacDonald and Melissa LaBarre has great patterns for pullover and cardigan sweaters, as well as some really cute hats.

Many of my knitting books are focused on socks (unsurprisingly) but it will be nice to have this beautiful collection of patterns to pull from for larger projects.

I’m still knitting away on Ismael’s Stepping Stones socks, which are working up beautifully. Hopefully I’ll have finished project photos for your on Monday.

Happy weekend, and Happy New Year to all my readers!

Christmas comes but once a year

26 Dec

And thank god for that.

I love my family very much. I was excited to give them handknits this Christmas and know that my gifts would not only wrap them in warmth, but love. However, If I had to constantly knit at such a fever pitch with a bright shiny deadline looming ahead, my nerves would be absolutely shot.

Now, you could contend that I knew Christmas was coming. In fact, it’s the same day every year. There’s no way I could have been blindsided by a holiday with unavoidable reminders from October on. That’s true. I knew it was coming. I even had a plan in place to not get down to the wire with my gift knitting. To prove I was committed to this plan, I even knit a sock this summer. One sock.

This is when the trouble began. As I’m sure all you knitters are aware, not only is one sock NOT a pair, but it’s a dangerous presumption of a pair of socks. You say to yourself, “Look how quickly I knit that one sock. And Christmas is months away. I have so much time to knit the other one, why don’t I knit myself a sweater right now instead? I can always come back to that other little sock.”

Then, BAM, the next thing you know it’s November. Not only is that other sock not knit, but the sweater you’ve decided to knit for your dad also needs finishing, and you never knew how slowly stockinette stitch could come together into a men’s size large sweater. (Side note: You know what knits up quickly? Lace. Why don’t men wear more lace?)

So there I was, mid-November, hastily trying to finish up a sweater for dad and that other sock for mom, and then even another project for mom! I was doomed. I really was. I had to make some tough choices. Other gift socks for extended family members – and even for my husband – had to take the back burner and be abandoned as Christmas gifts.

I knuckled down and knit until my little fingers cramped and couldn’t move any more. And you know what? I won. Just in the knick of time to get my gifts wrapped and in the mail in time to arrive for Christmas, I was finally finished.

Hand-painted yarn and a simple pattern knit up quickly into mom's socks.

Dad's Cobblestone Sweater took up the bulk of my Christmas knitting time.

Despite my ill-fated attempts at creating a “plan” to avoid that last-minute rush, I really did come in just under the wire. But it wouldn’t be Christmas without panic, would it? And it all worked out in the end. Mom loves her green and gold socks, knit with sport-weight Blue Moon Fiber Arts Handpainted Sock Candy (96% cotton, 4% elite elastic).

Dad’ sweater – Cobblestone by the talented Jared Flood – is knit with warm, soft Berroco Comfort Heathers in the Honeyberry colorway. Dad has socks knit from the fingering weight version of this yarn and he really loves them, so the yarn choice was a no-brainer.

My only issue with dad’s sweater, despite the long stretches of stockinette stitch, is how the decreases in the yolk pull two purl stitches together to make a little bump. However, when the yarn is stretched during wear, this issue pretty much disappears.

Mom loves her socks, and unsurprisingly, she also loves the label they came in.

This simple label was made using Apple Pages and printed on cardstock paper.

I had seen a simple printable sock label on the Knitmore Girls website awhile ago, and I stored the idea away for Christmas. This label was easy to make and you get a lot of bang for your buck. It really makes the presentation of handknit socks a treat for the receiver. For this label, I found the Christmas image online and using Apple Pages (like Microsoft Word) I added the text on top. The label is designed longways down letter-sized, cardstock paper, and taped together at the back. I also included the name of the yarn, fiber content, and washing instructions on the back.

I still owe my husband a hat, and I have some socks on my needles for an aunt, but Christmas has passed, and it amazes me that after all that, all I really want to do right now is sit down and knit.