Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Completing The Trio

Hat number three,  off the needles. 
This is so much fun.  I'm sure I will get bored with it eventually - completing a FO every few days, frequently  having to search for new pattern, new yarn. Sigh!  But for now, after a season of several sweaters,  these quick and easy knits are so  much fun.

Today I have the 1898 Hat.  This one has often caught my eye on ravelry for its seemingly great fit.  And it did not disappoint. Although not as quick a knit as the 1920 Stripes, and not, perhaps, as stylish as either the Downton or the 1920s, it is nonetheless an excellent, warm hat that exudes pioneer practicality.

The unique construction begins with a garter stitch headband with built-in ear flaps.
 This piece is knit twice as wide as needed and folded in half to provide  double thickness over the ears.  The fold occurs along  a three-stitch, slip-stitch, line of stockinet stitches in the centre of the garter-stitch width.  Those three stitches, knit on the right side, slipped on the wrong side, form a  fold line  that is a bit tighter than the rest of the head band and therefore  rolls  inwards to hug the head when worn.  Great design.

Once the headband portion is complete, stitches are picked up around the edge and knit upwards to form the crown. Mine was knit with  Patons Classic Wool, left over from My Valentine and with 4.5mm needles.

It might not be the most fashionable but I love its no-nonsense, hats-are-meant- to- keep-your- head-warm style. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

1920 Stripes

Wow.  This   'year of the small'   is certainly motivating with its several-per-week FOs.

Sticking  with the same era as the Downtown Hat   I knit a 1920 Stripes.
A fairly new, Cabin Fever pattern, that  was such fun to knit.  Knit with chunky yarn on size 6mm needles, it flew by.  For me, fast almost always  equals  fun.

I used stash yarn for the entire hat.  The white for the stripes was leftover from my Moose Eh? sweater.  (You never saw that sweater as I ruined it so completely by thinking  I could design it better than the designer that I tossed it upon completion.) The yarn was a lovely, soft, chunky weight and its leftovers look great in this hat.  For the main colour, I used a doubled strand of Shelridge Yarns DK in blue.

With most Cabin Fever  designs, at first glance, a knitter might think - 'Oh yea.  Another sweater/hat/mitten pattern.'  Often though, there is  a technique or two of technical genius that makes the design a teaching tool within a pattern.  1920s Stripes is no exception.  Basically a toque it seems.  There are  some reverse stockinet ribs and short rows that create a longer-in-front-than-back style.
Reverse stockinet?? Short rows?? Been there done that, one might say.

BUT - the short rows are done with CF's latest, easy-peasy method - the Twinned Stitch Short Row.  Such an improvement  - easier to do and better results - than the wrap&turn type.Then there is the crown of this hat.  Four decrease points, two at the centre front and two at the centre back. When the stitches are decreased by 50% the opening is closed with a three needle bind off.  It looks like this.

 How cool is that?

Again, I say, Wow!   A big WOW! for the pattern - thanks, Deb.  And a lesser Wow! for my already growning list of FOs.  As of January 8, I have three pieces, all started and finished in the new year.  At this rate, I should see the end of my stash in 2016. Not many knitters can say that.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Fast Finish

Wow.  What a difference size makes.  Knitting small means finishing fast.  My second small project of the new year is finished.

This is Downtown Hat.

Knit with Shelridge Yarn DK weight for the body and a no-name bit of mohair grabbed at one of Sandy's Sister Sue's Great Yarn Give-Aways. All done on 3.25 mm needles.

This hat has been in my queue since one of my Ladies With Balls knit one for the 2014 Olympic Challenge.
You can see her in the photo above - well, not really. You can see the hat but not her as her hat turned out way too big. 

Knowing that,  I chose the teen size and it fits just right.  Also, seeing the droopy brim, which even the designer comments on, I tacked my folded brim to the hat to avoid the droops.

 I found the pattern a bit lacking.  The knitting starts with a top rectangle.  Stitches are then picked up around the edges of the rectangle and knit down forming the sides of the hat.  The patterns calls for a gauge of 40 rows to 4 inches.  OR 10 rows to the inch.  When the sides are started the pattern states to continue until 24 rows have been knit but gives no measurement for cross referencing.  At 24 rows, the hat would be less than two and a half inches deep.  Nowhere close to covering my ears.  SO I just kept knitting until the hat was about 5 - 5 1/2 inches.  It fits perfectly.

I like a hat that has form to it, as mine appears  to have when photographed atop my hat box.  Sitting there, mine  looks like the one in the pattern.  But on the head, the form is lost.  It sits like a fancy toque.  Like  this one.   Nonetheless, with its doubled mohair brim covering the ears, it is very warm and cozy and would have been a great hat for the winter of 2014 or 2015.  This year, not so much.  But this is Canada.  Cold will come again.

I feel very au courant with my year of small.  Across the nation, tiny houses are replacing the McMansions.  Here at the Harris household, tiny knits are replacing full size pieces.  Cheaper, faster, funner.   My motto for 2016.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Thursdays Are For Knit Group

First knit group meet-up of 2016.  Well, first, official knit group meet-up.  A few of us gathered at the LYS last  week for some knitting.  But back at the library, back into routine?  Today was the first of 2016.

And it was special.  Marilyn, who calls herself a lazy knitter, realized that her favourite cast on for toe-up socks would also work for  Izzy Dolls, eliminating the need to sew up the bottom.  Marilyn's dolls will never have rough bottoms like a couple of mine.  Marilyn offered to teach us how to do Judy's Magic Cast On and like a new-age teacher, she broke us into small groups to do the teaching.


Wilma and Sharon mastered  this new skill much more quickly than I did, for sure. I need practise otherwise my bottoms will still be rough.

Wilma,  spent several knitting nights searching both  the Internet and ravelry for the perfect pullover pattern. Over the holidays, she finally found what she wanted.   Martie  from JoJo Knits is top down with a bit of cable. And it looks as if it is a speedy knit.  Just look what she got done between holiday activities.

Ingrid arrived today  in a 'years old' piece.  I loved it.  Shorter length than  most she wears and with a beaded bottom.
 She has a similarly shaped piece on the go at the moment.  This one, though, is knit in Ingrid's more customary and I'd say, favourite, construction method - strips. 
 After knitting, the strips are crocheted together and while my photo doesn't show it clearly, each line of crochet is done in a different, but similarly toned colour. 

The library  received a donation of knitting magazines and left them on the table for us to peruse and take home if we wanted.  Bonnie was deep into them.

Back to routine.  Knit Group on Thursday afternoons.  But for me, my last meet-up for awhile. Fred and I have decided, this winter,  to try something different.  We are going south for a few months.  By next Thursday we'll be on the road.  There will be knitting for me, both in the car and in Florida.  But, I'll miss my Thursday afternoons. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

It's All About Small

In the wardrobe switchover this past fall,  when I switch out the fading season's clothing to make room for the upcoming season's duds, I realized I had lots of sweaters.  Some might say too many sweaters.  I said , 'enough!'

2016, then, will be a year of small knits.  Hats, cowls, slippers, shawls,  mittens and the like.  Which will give me a chance to use up more stash yarn. Those bits and bobs that are difficult to find a place for in sweater knitting.

First up, is another  Elizabeth McCarten pattern.  Elizabeth does great designing and pattern writing.  Last year, three times, I knit her patterns.  One   My Valentine and two Glenoras.  Now, I start 2016 with another McCarten. This one, Elizabeth offers for free and calls  the Neck Thingum.  My French grand children would call it  -  the 'Cache Cou.'  Literally - hide neck - how accurate is that?

A quick and easy knit, it is simply a turtle neck with a bottom flare that spreads out to cover the upper chest area inside a coat.   A very manly cowl, I'd say.  Mine is knit with Cascade 220 leftover from My Circular Yoke sweater.

Elizabeth calls her 'thingum' boring and unglamorous.  I call mine - a gift waiting to happen.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

First Up For 2016

First up, for this year, was meant to be my final finish for last year. But it didn't happen.  I started it mid-December and tried, really tried, to finish it before the 25th.  I thought it would be so special to be able to deliver it in time for Christmas.  But it didn't happen.  Instead it became my first  new year finish.

This is the article in question.

A lovely, pale pink, weightless, bed throw.    It has a history.

Near Remembrance Day, our branch of the Royal Canadian Legion hosts a dinner for veterans and their families.  Fred always goes to the local Retirement Home and brings over any veterans able to attend.  Over the years we have gotten to know these fine people and they us.  This November, when Fred brought them into the hall, one of the female veterans came over to me and gave me a bag of yarn.
"I know you knit and I don't anymore, so I'd like you to have this," she said.

It was a bag, containing 12 balls, of this Italian loveliness.

You can see that even though each ball contains only 20 grams, there were nonetheless 200 metres per ball.  Fine, fine yarn.  Fine in quality too.  80 % Kid mohair and 20% Nylon.

What wonderous opportunities did this yarn hold for me?  What  should  I  knit with this?  Extremely fine mohair in a pastel pink.    An afghan, shawl or throw of sorts was the best use for it, I felt.  And who needs that more than someone in a retirement home.  I decided to knit a throw and gift it to the veteran who gave me the yarn. A win-win.  I would have the enjoyment of the knitting, she would have the enjoyment of the finished throw.

With the yarn held double, a simple garter stitch piece, I felt would be the best  to highlight the yarn.  I wasn't long into it though when I realized I had made a purl, turn-around row after the first 6 garter ridges and ended up with  4 rows of stockinet between garter ridges.  Change of plans.  I repeated my mistake to end up with a piece  even more interesting than planned.

Nearing the end,  I thought it needed something along the edges.  Trim of some sort.  I laid the throw down to wait for inspiration.  When next I walked by, I realized it was speaking to me. The lines that  changing from garter to stockinet had created looked much better turned on the vertical. I had knit them on the  horizontal and envisioned the throw laid out that way.  But the vertical look was much more interesting.   A trim on the vertical ends alone would do the trick.

But what kind of trim. Nothing that elderly fingers could get tangled in.  A ruffle, I decided.  So I picked up the stitches across each end, knit one row then purled back.  The next row, I doubled the stitches by a Kf&b in each stitch, purled back, and   knit a purl row for turning.  I then reversed the process back down to the original number of stitches.  After casting off, I  stitched the trim down to the cast on/cast off stitches of the throw.

It is  light and airy, yet warm and cozy.  Perfect for someone in a retirement home.  Delivered on Saturday, it was a big hit. For both the knitter and the veteran.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Where Are They Now?

2015 was a busy year in my knitting world. I was quite pleased and surprised when I did a count of the FOs for 2015.  Several sweaters, two vests and five cowls.  Pleased indeed, until I read Tanisfibrearts blog.  She knit 25 sweaters in 2015.  All the while, mothering a toddler and a baby and running a wool-dyeing business.   Way to go Tanis.

Since I often close my FOs posts by saying - 'of course, the proof is in the wearing'  I thought I'd start the new year by telling you how my 2015 FOs have fared in that department .  A  'where are they now' sort of year in review.

First up - Cowls, scarves, and other neck thingums:

 The above two items went to my friend Margaret.  They were a donation to Purple Day  - an annual,  March fund raiser for Epilepsy.   Margaret lives with her son and his family and is involved with Purple Day because her grand daughter has epilepsy.

The two cowls below were the extent of what I got finished in time for my Great Christmas Give-away.  They went to two of my nieces.   

This cutey was my first attempt at a necklace.  A few strands of I Cord tied together and  strung through some beads for closure and I had a one-of-a-kind colourful necklace to brighten up a white summer tee.

And this lovely green thing -
was an abysmal failure.  I got caught up in a yarn shopping expedition that saw several of my yarn- buying buddies scooping up balls of Opium.  A cotton/acrylic, thick and thin yarn that I though would make a nice summer wrap.  I used a free (sometimes worth what you pay for them) online pattern.  Never worn.  Sitting forlornly on the bench in my yarn room.

Vests:  I made two of them in 2015.  I love both of them and wear them  often.
 The lovely  salmon-coloured one above was one of my own design, inspired by this one I saw on a blog. Knit in Lett Lopi it is warm but light and a nice bright colour for grey winter days.

Below is the vest that I knit with Shelridge Yarns wonderfully soft, washable wool.  I love the colours and the style.  The pattern, Serendipity Vest  (available on Patternfish) drove me nuts.  The tri-coloured, slip-stitch pattern was easy to figure out and to do.  Understanding the designers description of the unique, mitered construction and shaping was near impossible

First up for 2015 was Patchwork. Started while in Florida last January and knit with double stranded Knit Picks Palette, a gift from Nicki.  I love this sweater.  Colours suit me well.  It is warm and a lovely thing to wear.

This poncho, a combo of two patterns - yarnharlot's Very Easy Poncho and Cabin Fever's Fern Scarf,  used stash yarn in a flattering-to-me, copper-coloured cotton.  Very fashionable and trendy, it saw lots of wear this summer and fall.

My version of this Vogue, sleeveless top was another success that saw lots of summer wear.

Below you see my white, summer,  A-line tee with my I Cord necklace.  The tee was a pattern purchased in Florida with very confusing lace work on the sleeves.  Thanks to Sigrun for deciphering it for me.  The yarn was a gift from a fellow knitter.  Ten balls of white cotton which she said she would never use.

This beauty was my Christmas sweater.  No ugly CS for me, this one, Snowflake by Tincanknits, received compliments whenever I wore it.  And wear it I did this season.  The fit is lovely and the sparkly brown yarn gave it just enough seasonal glitter to be tasteful but special.

Both my niece and I love our Glenoras. A quick and easy knit designed by Elizabeth McCarten.  My niece's, immediately below, was knit with the recommended Cascade Eco yarn.

Mine, I knit with stash yarn - Sable, an acrylic/wool mix.
 Since the photo, I have put three, great, wooden buttons on mine as well.  It was worn almost daily as a light  jacket through our unseasonabley long and warm 2015 autumn.

Below is My Valentine.  Knit with Patons Classic scooped up at  a 75% discount at the Listowel Tent  Sale a few summers ago, it is another Elizabeth McCarten pattern.  With our long, warm fall,   some of my sweaters - including this one - haven't seen as much wear as they would have most years by January first.  I am wearing it today, though.

The teal sweater, below, was my first pattern from the Cabin Fever Need A Circular Yoke? book.  The colours of Cascade 220 were chosen specifically to match a Scottish, pleated skirt gifted to me by a friend who had 'outgrown' it. I wore them both yesterday.  The sweater has a wonderful fit and a Mandarin neckline that draws interested comments  from everyone and 'how-did-you-do-that' queries from knitters.

That's it, I think.  Only one real dud - the green wrap - from a years worth of knitting.  Not bad.  Tomorrow -  what's up for 2016.