Monday, December 22, 2014

The Chastain Park Shawl

In late August, some of my Ladies with Balls and  I spent an evening at  Orillia's newest yarn store, Purl 3.  The store was hosting a trunk show  with Deb Gemmell.  The show was fun, Deb's speech enlightening, but it was really the shopping that satisfied. 

On display, in the store, was the Chastain Park Shawl.  Knit in - well that is the question.  I have done what I caution knitters never to do - thrown out the ball band.   I think it was Universal Yarns, Classic Shades.

The pattern said to cast on 3 stitches then work a stockinet section, increasing at the centre and side edges only on right side rows, until 77 stitches had been achieved.  Follow that with  12 rows of lace.  At 77 stitches, my shawl would have fit Tiny Tim.  Ravelry showed that  several others seemed to  have incurred the same dilemma. There were many shawls with variations of when and where to do the lace section Encouraged to know there were no knitting police,  I improvised.  After my 77 stitches, I knit a small section of  lace, some more stockinet, a little more  lace, more stockinet and finally a bigger expanse of lace to finish off.

This is a simple triangular shawl.  Not my favourite because there is no curve at the neck. Pure triangular shawls require folding over at the neck line in order to be worn comfortably. 

Especially small shawls like Chastain Park.

If I were to do it a second time, I would increase at the side edges on every row, while maintaining the right side only increases at the centre line.  That would give longer and somewhat curved arms.  Those longer arms help the shawl to stay put on the shoulders, without the folded over neck line. Like my Talbot Trail Shawl.

 But I do love the colours.  It was a very quick knit and I  think it will make a perfect accessory to the little black top I intend to wear on Christmas Day.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

What Happened To Hippie Blue?

Saturday past, Hippie Blue was given to my niece.  It was her first glimpse of the sweater.  She was even afraid to try it on in case it didn't fit.  With one arm in the sweater, she said  " Oh Wow!  This sleeve  is  the perfect length."  Off to a good start.

In the end, everything fit. The bust, the waist,  the length, and most importantly - the hips. (Blog details explaining the tailoring to create the perfect fit are here. )

She loved it.  And I loved that she loved it.  Maybe she'll ask for another.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Morgan, Meet Peter

The day after the great hat give-away where the young ones scrambled for their favourite H 2-0 Hat, Fred and I visited son #2 at his big city condo.   I presented him with his 'Morgan.'

 He liked it  and it fit.  Can't ask for more than that.  Lady of Spain liked it as well - always a good thing  -  and even recognized that it was not your ordinary knit.  "That must have been very complicated to knit," she said in her beautiful Spanish accent, which gives the word complicated an exotic rendering by placing a  strong emphasis on the middle syllable. Lovely to listen to.
Very stylish you look, Peter.  Wear it in good health.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Great Hat Give-Away

Saturday.  The great hat give-away was sure fun.  In all, I knit nine of the H2-0 Hats and three cowls. All except two hats were taken.  I addition, I almost lost my Talbot Trail Shawl. 
I had to jump in quickly to retrieve it from the pile. 

Here is the fun.
 Niece Christie, with boyfriend Noah in the background.  Sister Katie with her back to the camera.

 Nieces Andrea - she's wearing Hippie Blue -  and her sister Kim.

 Noah being funny. Wearing a cowl and  the pink hat  that Christie chose. 

 Christie with her pink hat.

 Friend Molly chose the light coloured hat.

Noah's head is a big bigger than the H2-0 pattern allows for, it would seem.

  Guess he'll get a specially fit knit soon.

It was great fun to see them all so appreciative about getting a hand-knit hat.  I was a double winner - triple actually.  I used up tons of stash yarn, had the enjoyment  of knitting the hats, and the great fun of giving them away. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Meet Morgan

What is this?  A plate? 
No, This is Morgan.  A 'newsboy' style hat from

Taking a chance that my blog is not high on the daily, must- read list of son #2, I am unveiling  Morgan before giving it to him  on Sunday.  Son #2,  Peter, was given a lovely, new winter coat for his November birthday by his Lady Of Spain.  It is a light, grey tweed.  Immediately, the knitter in me recognized that his current stash of  hand-knit, head gear wouldn't match his new coat. 

Over the years, I have knit Peter several 'togue' style hats.  Thinking about a new hat for his new coat, I wanted it to be more stylish than toque-like and thought a 'newsboy' hat would be great.  Most 'newsboy' style hand-knit hats though, are nothing more than a toque with a brim.  I wanted the real thing.  My ravelry search took me to and there was Morgan

The  pattern was  perfect.  Mine,  made   even more so because it finished  perfectly.  Like Elizabeth Zimmermann's Baby Surprise Jacket, until close to the finish line, Morgan is a shape-less blob.  There is tons of counting,  much short-rowing and head scratching, wondering what I was accomplishing with the fiddly nature of the knit. 

And for me there were also some gauge issues.  I  did not have the pattern with me when I stopped into Riverside Yarns in Owen Sound to purchase the yarn.  But how wrong could I be with Knitting Worsted for a hat?  Well, wrong enough to require a couple of rip backs to get Morgan to be the right size.  (The pattern calls for DK weight.  Always take the pattern)

Having finished one Morgan, repeat Morgans should be easier.
 I will know where I am in the hat and what I am doing to shape that particular  portion on future Morgans.  At least I should hope so.

I appreciate the way the designer thought through the pattern to create a fit with options. It can be worn  with the back in 'up' position, as above, for warmer days.  But with back down and ears covered, as below, for those colder, windier, winter days. 

And if it is really cold, the front can be unsnapped from the plastic-lined brim to come down lower over the face.  

I love it.  I think it will fit Peter and if it either matches or enhances the new coat, I will be satisfied.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Hippie Blue

 Hippie Blue is finished and ready for delivery this coming Saturday.  It is gorgeous, if I do say so myself and I am very pleased with it.

Pattern:  A Cabin Fever compilation.  I used three CF books.  Button Up Your Top Down

Needles:  4mm circular.  I was supposed to use a slightly smaller size for the neck ribbing.  When the sweater was complete, that ribbing seemed quite loosey goosey.  I think I used the 4mm on it too.  A bit of black elastic thread and all was well.

Yarn:  Cabin Fever Cotton Tweed.  Walnut brown for the body, Denim Blue for the trim.  An excellent choice for a new Mom who will most likely often have 'spit up' on the sweater  and who demanded  most emphatically that the sweater not be 'itchy'. Cotton Tweed can be thrown in with the regular wash and also into the dryer and still look good for years to come. 

There are many.  Starting at the top on this top down raglan, I'll explain them all.

Cast On and Neck Line:  The cast on number came from Button Up Your Top Down.   I like the way top downs from this book begin.  Most top down raglans begin with fewer than required stitches. Then, as one knits back and forth raising the back neck and increasing at the raglan lines,stitches are added one at a time to the centre front. This works, but I find those stitches added at centre front every right-side row are often sloppy.

The technique used in BUYTDown, approaches the neck shaping from the other way around.  All required stitches are cast on. Then,  while working back and forth raising the back neck and increasing at each raglan line, a decrease is worked at centre front. The edge-line decreases -at least when they come off my needles - are much neater than my edge-line increases sometimes are.
Once done, the back neck is higher than the front, allowing space for your chin (or chins as the case may be)  and the centre front line is neat and tidy.

Armhole Depth and Underarms: Moving down the sweater, I took my next set of numbers from the Need A Circular Yoke ? book. This is a more recent  publication and because of that (at least I think because of that) the armholes are shorter, providing a more fitted fit. A look I feel is more current and suitable for a young woman.

Before reaching the underarm and separating body from sleeves,  I added in a couple of short rows across the back. Maybe an old lady thing , thinking of a dowager's hump, but I put them in nonetheless. 

At the underarm, on both body and sleeve, I added stitches. These added stitches keep the underarm from binding - especially when the armholes are not overly deep. The number of stitches to add was taken  from the NaCYoke? book and double checked against Elizabeth Zimmermann's rule of 8% of body stitches. 

Bust Shaping:  I have knit a few sweaters now with bust darts.  The Need a Plus Size Cardigan? book was where I first learned of the advantage of bust darts.  For my niece's sweater,  through the use of bust darts, I wanted  the front of the sweater two inches wider than the back.  After knitting the neck ribbing, I switched to stockinet,  increasing  along the raglan lines until I was two inches shy of desired circumference.  I separated the sleeves from the body as mentioned above.  Then, knowing that my gauge was 5point5 sts per inch, I decided to put 6 extra stitches at each front side.  I placed a marker and made the increases at those markers on both the left and right sides.  Doing this on the right sides only meant it took 12 rows to achieve these 6 increases.

Waist Shaping: Knitting south towards the waist, I added some shaping. My niece is a new Mom and from the front it might be argued that no shaping is required. But at one of Deb Gemmell's recent seminars  I learned that while our front waists might disappear through child birth or age, the back waist often remains. For the knitter,  this means that while  shaping might not be needed  at the front, shaping should still be done at the back. 

Some designers have  knitters shape at the side seamlines. NACYoke? has the waist shaping done on either side of the 8% stitches that were added under the arms. While these separated decrease lines are  improved styling, I  think,  I nonetheless took it one step further. One quarter of the way into the back from each side,  I placed a marker and did all decreases at the markers. This created a  vertical dart that while  on this dark brown sweater is  too dark to be seen on camera, trust me in knowing that those lines are very slimming.

Hip Increases:  Once at the waist, the decreases became increases. Most were done along the same vertical dart lines as the above-waist decreases. But, because I wanted to give my niece some extra hip room in the sweater, there had to be lots of increases  -  more  than could be accommodated  on those two vertical lines alone. 

So,  while on most right side rows, there were only two increases - at those two vertical lines - on other increase rows, there were 4 increases and on still others,   6 increases. Two at the back dart lines, two more at the back underarm markers and still two more at the front underarm markers. Six increases in total on occasional rows. This allowed the hip area  to grow quickly enough to be at the required measurement  before time to do the ribbing.

Ribbing:  Speaking of ribbing,  I realized my work to provide room for the hips would be  for naught if I knit regular 2x2 ribbing. Ribbing pulls in. That would definitely work against the roomy hip style I had worked for my niece.

Instead I worked  garter ribbing. K2,  P2 on the front. Purl across the row on the wrong side.  It was a good match for the button bands. Taken from the BUYTDown book, the button bands  are knit at the same time as the sweater. Although they look like  regular ribbing, they are in fact a type of garter ribbing.
Sleeves:  Sleeves were quite normally knit.  I did them on a circular needle using the 'loop' method when the circumference became too small for the cable. They too were finished off with the garter ribbing, which when done in the round is K2, P2 on Round 1, then Knit all stitches on Round 2. Easy.

My Opinion:  The sweater fits beautifully. I do not mean that it fits me, but in trying it on, I can see that the extra  tailoring features I  incorporated  give it a custom look.  It is not an 'off the rack' sweater for sure.  I gave the tailoring of this sweater much thought and if it fits my niece it will be a great coup for knitters everywhere.  

My one last step before giving the sweater to my niece is to approximate  the number of stitches in the garment. I know the number of stitches per inch, I know the number of rows per inch and I know the sweater dimensions. With those numbers, I should be able to approximate the total number of stitches in the sweater.  (Grade three math - if there are two apples in each basket, how many apples are there in all ten baskets?)
Then, as yarnharlot once advised knitters to do,  in the accompanying card, I  will write - "All xxx number of stitches in this sweater were knit with loving thoughts of you". 

Monday, December 8, 2014


My family  Christmas get-together takes place this coming Saturday.  The   My plan is to take a box of hats and let the young ladies - and men  - or old folks -  go at it.

This is the pile so far.  All the same pattern - the H2O Hat from Chicknits.  A great little pattern with only 40 stitches and about 23 rows. 

 Some of mine are knit with bulky yarn and some with three strands of knitting worsted weight held together.  I am aiming for a variety of colours - something to please everyone.

And here is me wearing one.
Vera commented, when I last posted about these little hats, asking  to see one modelled.  She wondered about the fit.  Here you are, Vera.

There is also one cowl in the mix.  The cowl yarn was a gift from Bag Lady Sue and I thought - not hat material.   But perfect for a cowl.  This one has 80 stitches joined in the round.  I worked  one round knit, one round purl, one round knit, all in the fuzzy yarn.  Switching to the main yarn I  knit stockinet until running  out of yarn.  The other side ends with the same three row pattern knit with the fuzzy yarn, then the cast off. 

Seeing all these non Hippie Blue knits, must have you asking  " Is Hippie Blue finished?"  Why yes it is, thanks for asking. 

Tomorrow I will give you all the details and mods of that knit.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Thursdays Are For Knit Group

'Tis the season.  Its December and knitters' needles are furiously  clacking on Christmas gifts. 

Wilma has 4 hats ready for her two Grand daughters. 
Aren't they the cutest hats?  Great decorations really make them special.

Two, special little girls  have come into Sharon's  life this year and she has knit them hats.
Sparkly, purple hats with sequins.  Won't they love those?

Nicki has some American in-laws.  She thought  hand-knit beavers would make great gift tags.

Look at those teeth.   Look at that tail.  Aren't they just the cutest? 

Sharon sported her new bulky-knit  cowl.  Shades of purple.  
 A great accessory.  And a great gift to yourself, Sharon.

Gail was wearing her latest top-down sweater.  A Cabin Fever pattern from Button Up Your Top Down, knit with self striping yarn.  Warm and cozy by the looks of it, Gail.  Perfect for our snowy weather. 

 Two more knit group Thursdays this year.  Where has the year gone?

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Montreal - A Non-Knitting Experience

Montreal is many wonderful things - cafes,  restaurants,  the climb up Mt Royale,  the Habs, Musees , shopping on Rue Ste Catharine, brunch in a little place where everything on the menu either has chocolate  in it or accompanying it.  But Montreal is not a town with time for knitting. 

I did knit on the train going to Montreal, so sleeve number two of The Blue Hippie is a bit further along than before I left. 

Coming home, we were clever enough to drop our bags off at the train station a few hours before departure.  They were sent on ahead  - on an earlier train.  Thinking only of the ease of getting around town without bags, I sent both my bags.  Luggage and knitting bag.  That meant no knitting on the ride home.

I did stop at Fabricland in Orillia on the way home though to pick up the buttons for Blue Hippie.  Remembering that my niece had favoured pictures of sweaters with buttons that contrasted rather than blended in, I chose brown buttons for the blue trim.  Still attached to their card, I have buttoned a few here to get a feel for the look. I like it.

Luckily for me, the yarn store in Orillia is next door to Fabricland.  I made a last minute decision to run into the yarn store to buy another ball of the brown yarn.  My plans now are to knit a matching sweater for baby Jack  -  before our family get together on December 13.  Crazy I know.  But we all need something to look forward to.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Not Your Normal Thursday

My apologies for not sharing Knit Group stories with you today.   Mind you,  I was MIA last week too so this makes two weeks in a row.  I sense withdrawal symptoms amongst my readers.   Last week  it was the weather/flu combo that  kept me away.  This week, my absence  is for more exciting reasons.   I am off to Montreal for a weekend.

Sis, I and Baby Sis are going to hop on a train and head to Montreal to visit Baby Sis's daughter, my niece.   Last January, she took a job transfer to Montreal and is now a proud and happy  Montrealer with a horrific accent to her French. 

Month's end is Sunday.  I will still be in Montreal.  I know you are wondering if my goal of having Hippie Blue finished has been  accomplished.  Bets anyone? 

The answer is almost.  Although  tradition  has it that close only counts in horseshoes and  hand grenades, I am  happy with my progress.  The trip  to sleeve island was done on a speed boat this time.  I knit sleeve number one on a circular needle, simply pulling out the excess cable as the sleeve narrowed.  Much faster than knitting it with double points.  Sleeve number one is done
 and number two has been started.
This sweater looks lovely.  I am very happy with it.  With bust darts, waist shaping and hip room, it has a beautiful shape.  Let's hope it is the correct fit.  I see this niece on December 13 for our family Christmas get together and the sweater will be presented then.  Fingers crossed.  Unless knitting of course.  

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Storm Productivity

It has been a long time since I have had  as high a knitting productivity level as I had last week.  It seems that stormy weather can greatly heighten my  knitting output.  In addition to the two and a half hats I mentioned in yesterday 's post, I also knit two scarves.
Washed out colour due to no flash.
Machine knit them,  mind you.  But machine knitting, for me at least, happens so infrequently that I begin from the beginning each time I use the machine.  Remind me again how  I cast on/ short row/ create lace.
 Last week, I decided to resurrect my machine and spend a couple of stormy afternoons using  some stash yarn and knitting  a few scarves. I had managed to acquire several patterns for machine knit scarves and wanted to try them out. In the end, I discarded all the new patterns as being too much work. I can't see the point of fussing for hours/days with a machine knit piece.    Isn't it the object of machine knitting  to be able to complete pieces faster  and with less frustration than hand knitting? 

Instead I returned to a lace, scarf pattern that I have knit previously.
 It is easy and fast.  I knit two of them last week with each one taking  about an hour to knit.  I made one slightly wider and experimented with a different bind off.  That new bind off  isn't as nice as it could be,  so that one is mine.  The other one, narrower but more perfectly knit,  will be gifted.  I know just the red head to wear this colour. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Fun For $2.

A knitter can only stand so much  same same.  Last week during the storm and the flu, I took a break from knitting  the Blue Hippie and turned my attention instead to hats. Inspiration for this switch, came from its usual source - ravelry  - where I came across this $2.00 pattern  from CHICknits. 

Why it is called the H2O Hat, I do not know.  I think I would have called it the One Hour hat.  Or the Pie Hat, as in easy-as-pie.  Knit with either bulky yarn or three stands of KW held together and only 23 rows,  it knits up fast!  

Waiting for the storm to pass and the headache to subside, I knit two hats and started a third.

The first two are knit with three stands of bits & bobs of stash stuff  held together while the one on the needles is Knitca Wool Slub.  Such fun.  While the pattern calls for knitting this flat and sewing a seam up the back, I couldn't  see the point of that.  Mine are knit in the round.  Even more fun.

My goal now is to have a box full of these in various colour combinations to take to the family Chirstmas get together and let the young ladies go at it.

Monday, November 24, 2014

What A Week

Last week was one not to be soon forgotten.  Our area was slammed for three days by high winds and snow, leaving many roads and schools closed.   I was housebound.  Normally not a bad thing in winter as it means more knitting time.  But last week, while bad weather ruled the outdoors, I was indoors and  under the weather.  My first - and hopefully last -  flu-like illness of the season.  Too snowy to go outside and too headachy to knit.

I did manage to finish the body of my niece's sweater

and get started on sleeve number one.
 I need 18 inches total, so a bit of knitting yet.    The end of the month fast approaches.

That second marker you see holds a dropped stitch.  I noticed it  when showing off my  bust darts to another knitter.  It would have been better to notice it when it first dropped,  but better now than after the sweater is gifted.

Thanks for your suggestions for a name for this sweater.  One reader suggested The Hippie Sweater after reading my remarks about  widening  the sweater to cover the wider hips of a young mother.   Thanks, Marie.  Another suggested  Hint or Touch Of Blue. Thanks, Deb .  So -  maybe Hippie Blue.

Monday, November 17, 2014

This Sweater Needs A Name

I keep referring to this current sweater

as 'My Niece's Sweater'.  Which of course it is.  But that is not a particularly catchy name.  The sweater  needs a better name.  Somehow, it reminds me of a Teddy Bear and  I need to come up with a  name that suits the look.  Any suggestions?

Will I get it finished in time for my  self-imposed,  end-of-November  deadline?  I'm still hoping.  The sweater needs to be 25 inches long and right now it is closing in on 21.  Another inch or so and I will start the trim.  I don't want the trim to  pull the sweater in over the hips at all.  My niece had her first baby last November.  They call him Jack.  Her post-childbirth hips might be called  - the hips that Jack built.

To accommodate  - and camouflage  - the hips, I am increasing the hip area by two inches more than  the bust area.  And I will finish off with a trim that doesn't pull in.  I am thinking garter rib.  That will mimic the button bands, and doesn't have the pull in effect of normal ribbing.

The next question is - should there be some blue at the bottom?  I think not.  That would have the effect of bringing the eye to the hip area.  After I've worked so hard to hide the bulge, I wouldn't want to have the eye drawn towards it.  Maybe some blue on the sleeve cuffs to tie it all together while having the eye focus on a prettier body part.  That's my plan at the moment. 

And the other part of my plan is to knit for extra time each day to be able to present this sweater at month's end.  And - to come up with a good name.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Thursdays Are For Knit Group

The first snow squalls of the year happened minutes after we settled down to knit today. A few minutes sooner and many of us might have decided to stay home.  Now, what fun would that have been!

Jean was back today after her vacation to Utah.  Yep that's right.  The third knitter from our group to vacation in Utah this year.  She was wearing the wonderfully complicated vest she knit last year.  And she wasn't too happy with the fit.  Too large through the waist, Jean said.  Especially noticable through the back.
 Jean  had two solutions in mind.  Rip it and start again. Or knit a tab and button it to the back at the waist to draw in the excessive fabric..  Osa, our resident, retired seamstress said 'No.'  Osa suggested that a side seam, hand or machine sewn, would be must less intrusive on the design and so a better solution. To show Jean, she basted it in for her.   (See Nicki spin.)

Jean liked the new and improved look.  (See Nicki spin.)

 Sharon R was in a ripping mood today, too. This is last year's hat.  
Too small, says Sharon.  Given the price of the Manos with which she knit this hat,  Sharon has decided to rip and re-do.  I would do the same, Sharon.

Wilma crocheted two slouchy,  capped hats this week.

Wilma plans to give them both away.  But just in case she changes her mind, we decided she looks better in the plum one.    It is much more flattering on her than the grey.

Angela, our only 'working girl' doesn't get Thursdays off often enough.  But we enjoy her company when she does manage to knit with us.  She struck this glam pose to show me the infinity scarf she is knitting for an elderly  customer who is now, too arthritic to knit.

Gail showed off the diagonal scarf she knit last year.  Still looks good, Gail.

See Nicki spin.  Still.  Wrapped in  fleece she kept her drop spindle turning  all afternoon.  

Fortunately, by the time I drove home the squalls were minimal.   Perfect timing, 'old man winter.'