When will I Learn?

Seems there’s this thing that happens when you’ve been knitting for, well, ever – you start to believe that the rules don’t apply to you.

The latest issue of Knitscene has a most charming polarbearsnowflake hat. 

All the cute, right? 

I showed the pattern to my knitting group at work yesterday and they challenged me to have it knit (and a poncho pattern also in the mag) before next week’s class. Not one to back down from a knitting challenge, I happily accepted. I knew I had the yarn at hand and that it was just a relatively simple hat, in a bulky yarn, with a bit of stranded colorwork. Easy peasy. In fact, I found appropriate yarns for two lovely colorways – I could really show off and knit them both! I cast on with great gusto, assuming I’d have both hats done by the end of the following day.

Round 1: Cast on with cable method, as instructed and whipped through the 1″ of ribbing. Did an increase round and the started the bear chart. At the end of the first chart round, I realized that I had failed to read the instructions correctly and found myself two stitches short. Ripped back and did the second increase round.

Round 2: Got halfway up the bear chart and didn’t like the way my stranding looked. A lot of the carries were showing through to the front. I tried to evaluate what the issue was and decided that I must be catching the floats too frequently. Looked at the instructions, and sure enough they said to catch the floats every 4 stitches (I was doing every 2). Ripped back to the start of the chart and tried again.

Round 3: Got to the top of the chart where the crown decreases begin. Realized that the body of the hat seemed awfully shallow. Noticed a tiny chart for a checker pattern, just about the bear chart on the page I had copied for notes and markups. Flipped back a page in the magazine and realized that I had completely missed knitting the checker pattern before starting the bear chart. Ripped back to the first increase round above the ribbing.

Round 4: Success! Along with paying better attention to all those other issues, I also switched from magic loop to regular circular knitting. My tension improved immensely.  Still love magic loop, but interesting to know that going full circ could solve tension issues. 


It’s  a really cute hat, as you can see, but it is truly aptly named at Bearly There – it’s very small. I think it would suit someone with a petite head. I felt a bit like I was wearing a kid’s hat when I tried it on. 

I’m going to try the pattern again in a super bulky (Knitpicks Biggo), on a larger needle (8mm) and expect to get a larger, more substantial hat without having to do any changes to the pattern. Here’s the yarns:


I love the idea of the sky blue and fuzzy white. So wintery pretty.

Stay tuned and READ YOUR PATTERN and PAY ATTENTION. (Sorry, felt like I needed to be firm about this – mostly yelling at myself)

Knit well,

Knicoleknits

Urges and Acquisitions 

This is kinda sorta-ish the second part of summer vacation post.

So, while we were travelling by map around BC and Alberta this summer, we happened upon (okay, deliberately sought out) some retail establishments that carried my favorite products, yarn, and yarn related stuff. I also scooped a few choice items at Vancouver’s Knit City in early October…aaaaaaand, I succumbed to Craftsy’s clever marketing and did some damage there as well.

Starting with the road trip acquisitions…

In Dawson Creek, British Columbia, there is the most charming of multipurpose type stores called Faking Sanity. It’s the kind of place you could stay in all day, if you were the variety of human who likes cheap (used, inexpensive, perfectly readable) books, deliciously fresh baked food, yarn and yarny-related things, and a few special jeweleries. It was at this very location that I stumbled upon a brand of yarn that I had been drooling over on the Interweb, but hadn’t seen in person. Here is their fab blog: faking sanity

If you’re a Canadian knitter, you need to know about this. Fleece Artist has created a series of yarns and colorways based on Canada’s national parks. It is, surprise surprise, called the National Parks Collection. Faking Sanity didn’t have a sample of every available colorway, but they did have enough to hurt my brain in the process of narrowing down my selection.

Here’s what I settled on:


Fundy, New Brunswick and Kluane, Yukon. The Kluane one is dyed to represent the “rippling curtains of the Aurora Borealis.” I only bought one skein of each, but they have a decent 400 meters per, so there are many possibilities…of course shawls or cowls, but I’m also intrigued by the idea of using them as cardigan fronts or wide bands on a solid base. I’m sure you’ll see these pop up again in a later post, as I contemplate their respective fates.

The Fundy one is fairly close to a limited edition Zen Yarn Garden ART WALK series colorway called Tree in Autumn, based on an Emily Carr painting. I’ve been coveting this yarn since I first laid eyes on it, but hesitated to purchase it right away – GIANT mistake. It’s sold out everywhere. Sad sad me. Here’s what it looked like:


It’s soooooo dreamy. I reallyreallyreally want some. Sigh. Anywhoo…I digress.

I also couldn’t leave Faking sanity without this:

They told me to put potpourri in it, but come on – the instructions are right there on the fronnt, so my favorite color of linen blend yarn resides therein. It’s like a whaddayacallit – a knitting talisman.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After Dawson Creek, we rolled east to Edmonton. Now, Edmonton is a lovely city with many appealing attributes, but the best….BY FAR…is River City Yarns.

I positively loooooove this store. The very helpful, talented, and patient staff endulged me as I asked a million questions and wanted to see EVERY sample in the store.

Two samples in particular captured my imagination and I immediately popped the exact yarns and colors in my basket. This is what I saw: Tin Can Knits Wenlock and Gramps in a work sock colorway:

I’ve already whipped up the little red top:

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It was a dream to knit. I took it to work to show it off and absolutely everyone asked me to make them one in their size. I swear I could have a second career just knitting this sweater in all sizes for the whole world. The little gramps will be coming up shortly for my now 2-year-old grandson. He’s going to rock that sweater.

Of course, many other things had a party in my shopping basket at River City, but at some point, this blog post has to end.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

Every year, Vancouver’s Knit City grows into a more and more exciting knitty place to be.  I attended the most enlightening and educational 3 hour lecture from Stephanie Pearl MacPhee. Seriously, she is my knitting hero. Every time I think I’m starting to know a lot about knitting, I think about her and realize I’m still a student with a lot to learn. Which is good, because learning new stuff, especially new knitting stuff, is super exciting.

I didn’t have a lot of time to scope out the market place, so I had to make every purchase count. This amazing colorway that I bought at Valley Yarn’s booth (my fav LYS) is definitely the highlight:

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The pic of the chickens is the inspiration for the colorway – it’s called Kim’s Barn. The yarn is Killarney Sock by The Blue Brick. Gorgeous, right? Worth every penny. I just want to carry it around with me and stare at it. Yarn infatuation…who knew?

Finally, I recently bought a couple of sweater kits from Craftsy (crazy good sales lately). They have really upped their game in the packaging department. Check this out:

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Nice, eh? Printed pattern, quality wrapping. Very appealing. They used to just send you the yarn randomly stuffed in a box, and you had to print the electronic pattern yourself. I found that by the time the yarn showed up, I had completely forgotten what pattern it was for. Didn’t have much “kit” vibe, more like you were just buying stuff to make a project. This new put up is a big improvement.

Okay then, that should be more than enough to make for my conspicuous absence lately. Next week, I’ll tell you all about my shiny new project rotation system.

Keep your needles tuned and polished!

Knicoleknits

Knit-Ventures from First Vacation

I love a good road trip. The scenery, the tunes and audiobooks, the snacking and stops for ice cream…all good stuff. But the very, very best part of road-surfing one’s way through a vacation? The primo knitting time. Hours and hours of uninterrupted, guilt-free knitting. Pure bliss.

This year, our main vacation ended up split into two segments – First Vacation and Second Vacation – with two working days dividing them. As I write this, we’re a few days into Second Vacation, but this post is all about First Vacation knit-ventures.

Over a 12 day trip, the wheels of our car rotated their way over 4,000 kilometers of highway. As you can imagine, I got a fair bit of sh- I mean, stuff done. I packed several projects for the 12 days away, at least 5 of which were spent mainly holed up in the car.

On our first leg, from Vancouver up to the Okanagan, I whipped up two terribly cute hats for the tiny grand-type people who were on the agenda to visit during the trip. Well over a year ago, I bought these DMC Top This! kits, which have been languishing in a cupboard waiting patiently for the right timing. Lucky for them, I recognized their car-knitting potential and tossed them in the bag.

Super adorable, yes? And are they soft? Oh, yes siree, Bob, they are. And are they quick? Soooo quick, they would make your head spin – less than two hours a pop. Pretty big bang for one’s buck. In fact, such a big bang that I’ve ordered 9 more kits from Amazon. Nope, not a typo – NINE more: bunny, kitty, giraffe, monkey, owl, bear, frog, penguin, and butterfly.

One tip, in the event my enthusiasm is contagious…they fit small. Little giraffe-head over there is wearing the adult small (two sizes provided in the ball band pattern – toddler and adult small) and it barely fits him – he’ll be two in a couple weeks. The baby (she’s almost a year) is wearing the toddler size. Hopefully, it fits her for the coming winter.

Next in the cruising queue was getting caught up on my Cascade Knitterati KAL afghan blocks. I’ll give the whole run down of this KAL experience in a future post, but for now I’ll just say that I whipped through blocks 17 and 18 and got a good start on block 19. No pics for these because they’re not blocked yet, but here’s a teaser sampling of my completed blocks so far:

Pretty cool, right? Anyway, more on this year-long monster project anon…

Also in the travel mix was a determined effort to finish this “summer” sweater that I started, like, back in May or something  – ha! I’ll be lucky if I get two weeks of summer wear out of it. It’s a nifty little pattern that I snagged out of one of those British knitting mags (can’t recall which one at the moment – I’ve been knitting from photos of the pattern pages).

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The yarns are Katia Cotton Comfort (white) and Schoppel Wolle Zauberball (green/gray gradient). I’m really loving how it’s coming together and the stretch in the Cotton Comfort means that it will hold its shape well. I should have finished this on the last trip, but I failed to bring extra yarn and ran out before I could finish the sleeves. Sigh. So, here I am on second vacation, still plugging away at the sleeves. I’ll give you more deets on the process and such when I post the finished object.

There was one more gem I tucked into the bag, for insurance in case I blew through all the other knitting. I’ve been craving another shawl knit after my New York Shawl turned out so deliciously. I never posted the finished work, did I? This be it, in all its magnificent glory:

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I’m madly in love with it. I drag it everywhere with me. It’s my desk cozy, when the A/C gets to be a bit overzealous.

At any rate, one good shawl deserves another, so here’s what I have planned for my new love:IMG_3085

Two gorgeous fingerings from my stash plus a garter/mosaic/lace design = a thing of beauty – at least, that’s what the swatch is suggesting. Perhaps I’ll get to this later in Second Vacation, while we are languishing at a lush B&B on Vancouver Island.

Of course, I have much more “catch-up” knitting to share since I last posted back in April, which I intend to do over the next week or so, while I’m still a free agent.

In the meantime, knit well and often, and let me know about your vacation knit-ventures.

Cheers,

Knicoleknits

Mr. Q meets Ms. Stash

I think we can all agree that Ravelry is a handy-dandy tool for managing our knitterly holdings (yarn) and desires (queue and favorites). So handy, in fact, that I can tell you with absolute accuracy that I have 127 musthaveknitwantnow projects in my queue and 175 yarnalicious entries in my stash.

Surely I need not more yarn or patterns or projects added to said lists. But I do need, I do, I do, I do (and stop calling me Shirley).

Like many other knitters (c’mon, fess up – I know you’re out there), I continue to add to my yarn stash aka curated collection on a regular basis. And preeeeety much every day, I see more projects I want to knit. Just this morning I downloaded the VK Early Spring 2017 edition to my iPad – this baby is so fresh, it’s not even up on the VK website OR Ravelry yet. There are two patterns there that I. Want. To. Knit…NOW. See how it happens? In a needle-click, 127 becomes 129.

I want to use up my stash…I really do…at least some of it…before I buy more…well, before I buy much more.

So, with all those dreamy projects in my queue and all those scrumptious yarns in my stash, this should be a piece of red velvet cake, right? Yeah, riiiiight.

Examples, anyone? Of course.

Here’s #1 in my Rav queue: Amy Herzog’s Cable Front Pullover from VK’s Late Winter 2017.

Herzog - cable front pullover Get this – I HAD the yarn for this. I had the exact yarn the pattern called for. I even made a note in that notey space when I added the project telling myself that I had the exact yarn in my stash.

I used it. I’m knitting with it right now. Am I knitting this? Nope. Am I knitting anything in my queue with it? Nope. I’m knitting Harvest Cardigan by Tin Can Knits. (I’ll show it off when it’s done.)

But never minding that bit of foolishness, among those 175 yarns, there must be something else that would do the job. Something the right weight (aran), right color (flattering for me), and right amount (approx 1600 meters).

No dice. Not enough yardage in anything either aran or worsted weight.

Next!

#3 in queue is a pretty open weavey summer-type shawl: Stella by Janina Kallio

Specs: Fingering, 343 meters of main color, 217 meters of contrast color. My notes say I was gonna frog my Penrose Tile shawl for this, which is weird because I really like that shawl, especially after I re-worked the cast off edge so it’s nice and stretchy. So, back to shopping in the ole stash-a-roni…

Now, I have alotalotalot of fingering yarn (53 stash entries). Mostly single skeins, but that’s cool because fingering usually has good yardage and so one skein of each color would almost certainly suffice. Buuuuuutttttt…I had a b*tch of a time finding a combo I liked. Here’s what I came up with that maybe possibly might be inspiring:

The blue Rustic Fingering for the main and the grey Spud & Chloe for the contrast. It’s a smidge dark, but with all the open mesh work, I don’t think it would end up looking too heavy.

So, okay, but I’m not jumping up and down.

After scouring my queue for an inspiring pairing, I came across this little number (specifically #81 in my queue), which I am pretty keen to crack open – and it’s even seasonal (unlike the aran sweater I’m smack in the middle of…in April).

This is Sel Gris by Claudia Eisenkolb.

Sel Gris

It’s a simple silhouette, with a bit of interesting detail, but I wanted a nice clean palette on which to paint with a blend of Shi Bui Linen and Schachenmayr Tahiti gradient:

The Tahiti knits up like this:

Before and After Scarf

 

So I expect it to be spectacularly fresh and summery blended with the white linen.

(P.S. – this is my Before and After Scarf)

I could carry on with this exercise for hours, but it’s my bedtime now (seriously, it is).

How would you pair up your stash and queue?

 

I hope your weekend is full of chocolate eggs, fuzzy bunnies, and lots and lots of knitting!

I’ll have a little Easter treat for you (calorie-free) by the end of the weekend.

Knit well,

Knicoleknits

The Unbearable Cuteness of Baby Knits

Tiny shawl collar cardigans, wee work socks, miniature sweater vests. Yup – super cutey cute cuteness. There’s no denying it. I’m as guilty as anyone of scrolling through a highway of Pinterest posts, saving, queuing, liking, and cooing over dozens and dozens of sweet little baby knitted stuffs.

AND I now have two, not one, but TWO, precious little grandchildren…cute as bugs in a rug, tugging at my heart strings (especially the ones attached to my internal knitting needles).

So why oh why do I hesitate to knit baby stuff?

I know. You are at this very moment emphatically telling my blog post that I HAVE knit baby things. In fact, more than a few. But really, the honest truth is that I could have knit waaaaaay more than I have. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay more.

Despite all the purchased and queued patterns, despite the pretty stacks of woolly skeins, something thwarts my motivation to actually cast on and knit. However, after writing and rewriting this post, and a smidge of self analysis, I may have sussed it out. I think, maybe, possibly, perhaps, I don’t, way down deep in my heart, believe that knitting baby things is really worthy of my time. There, I said it. (I’m going to get mail over this)

Here’s my (admittedly lame) argument. While baby things are cute, take small amounts of yarn, and are mostly reasonably quick knits, how practical are they really?

Babies grow fast. Unfreakingbelieveably fast.  Even if I make stuff a size or two bigger than the current size of the baby, realistically the baby will only wear the item a handful of times before it can’t anymore. And, I also have a sneaking suspicion that the adult recipients of the baby knits I gift are reluctant to even let the little drooly, spit-uppy nibbling wear the semi-precious hand knit – despite my insistence that it’s at least, in part, machine washable.

I don’t know. My pragmatic side just can’t get onside with using up all that precious knitting time for something that, while appreciated, is so briefly useful. Ya hear me?

However, having said all that, there is the unbearable cuteness factor. Watch how perfectly decent knitting is transformed when wrapped around a bouncing bundle of joy:

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Purl Soho’s Clean + Simple Baby Dress and the Meredith Baby Cardigan. Nice, yes?

Now, hold my martini and watch this:

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Infinitely more cute, right? And besides, so maybe it only gets worn once or twice…

I’ll have these photos forever.

Cheers,

Knicoleknits

Steek Learning Curve

I am such a smarty-pants-know-it-all. Patterns, shmatterns – when you really know what you’re doing, they are just guidelines, right? Sometimes, even the smarty-pantsest of us need to follow direction and take advice. Especially when doing something we haven’t done before…

Steeks.

That sounds a lot like EEEEEK for a reason.

In case you’ve never encountered this term before, allow me to enlighten you. A steek is a panel of extra stitches added to the center front of a cardigan, which allows knitting the body in the round from hem to neckline. Then, when you’re done knitting, you cut up the center of the steek panel to turn what looks like a pullover into a cardigan.

Did you catch that? You CUT through your knitting. Scary scary deal, even when you know what you’re doing.

The pattern is The Little Dude, and I knit it for my super sweet first cousin-once-removed. His mom and her sister are a generation younger than I am and have been more like my nieces than my cousins. They rock and I love them and their off-spring and they deserve nice things.

Here’s what the knitting looked like before and after cutting the steek open:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yup. I cut right up the middle of that steek – and it didn’t go as well as it should have. Despite my prudent reinforcement by machine sewing through the stitches on each side of the center steek stitch, stuff unraveled way more quickly than I expected. In the end, I made it work and I learned some things, but there was much sweating and grumbling under my breath in the process.

There are two things I could have done to make my life, and this steek, easier to handle. The first one is that I should have followed the pattern designer’s oh so wise advice to NOT USE SUPERWASH WOOL when you’re going to cut through a steek. You see, there’s a reason those wooly fuzzy Fair Isle sweater are fuzzy and wooly. That fluffy halo you see on Shetland-type yarns is what gives the yarn a natural tendency to felt (which is why tossing your wooly knits into the washer and dryer will turn them into tiny, cardboard-like versions of themselves). That felting helps the stitches stay put and not want to slither out of formation the minute you turn your back. Superwash wool, however, has had the feltiness treated right out of it, so you CAN toss it in the washer with (sort of) wild abandon.

All that makes good sense, right? So surely I stepped away from my superwash stash and invested in some nice, fuzzy Shetlandy wool for this project…

Nope. I used superwash. I had it right there in my stash…all the right colors…and it’s for a baby, so it needs to be soft and washable…and besides, I wanted to start knitting RIGHT NOW! You know how that goes.

Now, having said all that, I now know that there’s something I could have done that would have made my bold yarn subbery more viable: more stitches in the steek. This pattern only called for 5 steek stitches. That’s one in the middle (that will end up cut in half), and two measly guards on each side. That may be plenty, if your yarn is sticky and fuzzy and won’t slither, but, as I discovered, it’s not enough for uncooperative yarn types. If I knit this again (and I might, cuz it’s cute), I would add at least two more stitches to the steek, probably three. This would allow a much bigger buffer on each side of the cut edge, and it would allow more fabric to roll under and stitch in place on the wrong side, which is very messy and upsetting when all the knitting is falling to pieces under your fingers.

So, there you have it. I made some mistakes, but they weren’t deadly. The sweater turned out quite nicely in the end…

And my cousin-once-removed looks pretty darn cute in it…

 

Next time, I might possibly maybe consider considering paying attention to pattern advice. Perhaps.

Knit well!

Knicoleknits

Shawl We or Shawln’t We? That is the Question…

Sorry about my absence (again) last week, but I was sick. Crazy sick. Stupid sick. I had the wickedmeankiller cold that ate Manhattan. This wasn’t just a cold, it was a Cold…dripping with icicles, frostbite, and phlegm. I do not exaggerate. I could breathe not – not through my sinuses filled with cement – not through my lungs filled lined with whatever blackish evil crud clogs bathtub drains. There was no relief, no cure. It was bad.

But I’m mostly better now, so yay! Let’s move on…

Shawls. Lacy, colorful, intricate, webby, wrappy, knitted masterpieces of loveliness. Ravelry, Instagram, and Pinterest abound with spectacular examples of prideful knitting prowess. They are a sight to behold.

Meh. Who cares?

That, folks, has been my prevailing attitude, since, well…forever. I have always eschewed shawl knitting. After all, I’m not a lacy, frilly romantic type. Nor am I an 80-year-old grandmother in a rocking chair, or a granola-munching earth-mother. Why oh why of why would I waste valuable sweater knitting time on something, although gorgeous and challenging, I would nevereverneverever be caught dead or alive wearing? Sense it made not to me (or Yoda).

HOWever…I am changing my tune. After all, there are shawls and there are shawls, yes? I can still admire the lacy, earth-mother, rocking chair-esque designs from afar and choose to knit brilliant, sophisticated, charming, wrappy accessories that flatter and speak to me. Allow me to demonstrate…

About two years ago, I broke my shawl embargo (all due to the persistent genius of Carol Feller) and knit this baby:

This is Carol Feller’s Penrose Tile. It’s a beauty, I’ll admit.

I wore it to work once or twice and received praise and admiration. I wore it to an event recently and received praise and admiration. Still, I felt mildly uncomfortable, because I was wearing, well, a shawl.

I know, I need help. Don’t fret, it’s coming.

 

 

As you know, I recently travelled to New York City for Vogue Knitting Live (oh yeah, and sightseeing and whatnot). Naturally, I needed something smallish and easy to knit on the plane. I was in a scramble in the few weeks before the trip to finish a test knit I had committed to in mid-December – a DK weight pullover with a hood (I know, I need to be certified. I’m not going to argue). I wrapped up the test knit the day before our flight and had to choose a travel project under IMMENSE pressure.

Back in November sometime, Interweave had kits for the Beacon Shawl on sale. I had admired the Beacon Shawl since its appearance in Knitscene Accessories 2015. I really liked the teal, and was feeling brave about breaking out of my comfort zone and knitting with yellow for the first time ever in my wholeentirelife, so I bought the kit. It’s modular garter stitch, and on the small side for a shawl, so it seemed like the right choice for my bring-with project. I’ve noticed that I’m often most attracted to shawls that are mostly or all garter stitch, so there was a good chance that I would at least…not…hate it.

I worked on it to and fro New York, and made myself finish it within a few days of our return. I slung it around my boring teal top, popped a snazzy shawl pin into place and… Wow! It looked great. Queue my shawl epiphany.

 

How about that? Not lacy, not grandma, not earth mother…all deco-esque me. Love.

I’m starting to see the light.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, as you may recall from my last post, while at VK Live, I became enamoured with Amor Esperanza’s CoLab Shawl, and I bought pattern and yarns and all things required to knit said project. The very minute the Beacon Shawl was off my needles, I got busy:

To say I am thrilled with its progress is an underunderunderstatment. I am fully infatuated. I stare and stare and stare at it and think of all the magnificent buildings I stared and stared and stared at in New York City. It’s genius. It’s sublime. It’s my New York shawl.

Congratulate me: I am officially cured of my shawl-a-phobia.

 

In case you want to, as my friend Kim would say, “creep” my project pages, here are my Ravelry links:

Penrose Tile

Beacon Shawl

Colab Shawl

In other news, I have started an uber-adorable toddler sweater for my cousin, once-removed (apparently I can also refer to him correctly as my nephew…go figure). This is a teaser:

Crazy cute, right? Should be well into it by next post, so stay tuned.
Have a great, knitful week!

Cheers,

Knicoleknits