Inside the Knitting Bag

My current knitting bag has a few projects happening, incidentally they’re all hat-related. After having finished a few larger projects following patterns, I was in the mood for something quicker. Then I decided to create my own patterns… so there went the quickness. I’m really happy with the directions of all these projects.

Viking Helmet Hat – Toddler size

I’ve started the Christmas knitting early. Our nephews are close in age, so I thought it would be fun to knit them some superhero-themed hats this year. I couldn’t find any patterns online, so I decided to create my own.

For the first hat, I’m working on one inspired by the character Loki. I’m using a basic trapper-style cap design to create the helmet shape, with the intention of picking up the stitches from the brim to create the ear flaps. The initial cast-on for the brim also includes a little dip to indicate the front of the helmet.

Bear Cub Hat – Baby size

I finished this cute little baby hat, and since it’s the second hat like this that I’ve made, I want to write the pattern down. It’s a hat I enjoy making, but it would be much easier to have my notes consolidated rather than to have to recreate the pattern each time.

Jayne Cobb Inspired Hat – Adult Size

Very early stages. I’ve sketched out the design and drafted the pattern for the hat. Now I need to find the yarn for it. This will be another Christmas gift this year….

This hat is also a trapper-style hat. It will feature a basic cap: knit-in-the round in stockinette stitch with a brim done in ribbing. There will be a pom-pom on top and the stitches for the ear flaps will be picked up from the brim and knit down.

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Sawyer Complete

I’ve gushed about the latest pattern book on my bookshelf, Plum Dandi Knits: Simple Designs for Luxurious Yarns by Alicia Plummer & Melissa Schaschwary, and that’s where I found this lovely pattern, Sawyer.

Coffee break

Pausing for a coffee break in Portsmouth, Sawyer kept me warm on a chilly, windy day.

For this pattern, I used one and a half skeins of Berroco Vintage in black currant, a yarn that I received as a Christmas gift this year. I love how soft this yarn is.

This was one of those patterns that I wore as soon as I finished it. Spring has been unusually cold this year, which has given me more opportunities to wear this item. There’s two ways to wear it, depending on the look you’re going for. I tend to gravitate toward the Cowl option.

I completed the majority of the knitting for this project during my commute. The lace pattern repeats were the perfect balance for challenging my concentration and allowing me to get lost in the knitting.

All in all, I loved this pattern; and it’s so easy to wear that it makes the delay of nice spring weather not so hard.

Quick Knit Hat

This hat, Pebble by Sylvia McFadden of Softsweater Knits, is probably the fastest hat I’ve ever knit. Granted, I was participating in the Ravellenic Winter Games, so I had a self-imposed two-week deadline. I was really proud of myself for finishing a hat in two weeks and finishing my first hat that involved lace work.

Pebble Hat side view

I’m wearing the hat very slouchy, but since it’s a beanie you can wear it close to the forehead too. It’s a good length for a hat.

I used exactly one skein of Paton’s Kroy Socks FX Yarn in Cascade Colors (and I mean exactly one, after bind-off I had six inches of yarn remaining). The pattern calls for the size 1 yarn to be “held double”, but this is a four-ply yarn, so even though it’s a size 1 it knits like a size 3. I took a gamble and went with it. I also didn’t knit a gauge swatch – horrible I know!! But when the gauge is twenty rows knit in the round in the lace pattern – at that point I just took a second gamble that my gauge would be close enough. Worst that could happen I would need to undo the hat. Luckily that didn’t happen, my gauge was close enough to the pattern that even with my two little tweaks it worked out okay.

Pebble Hat

I love the color of the yarn against the snow!

The most challenging part about this pattern is that I needed to check the pattern constantly. There were times when I’d finish a row, only to then have to un-knit the entire row because I missed a stitch at the beginning of the row that would throw off the entire pattern. Sometimes I hide my mistakes when knitting, but this hat doesn’t seem like the type of pattern that would hide mistakes well. I’m happy I was a perfectionist about completing this pattern, because the end result is beautiful!

Overall, I’m pleased as punch with how it turned out. I love the gradient color of yarn, it knit up beautifully and really showcases the stitches well. I’m saving the hat for my mom for mother’s day, even though it won’t quite be winter weather by then.

New favorites on my bookshelf

Recently I’ve added three new books to my bookshelf that I’ve been loving so much I wanted to share them.

The Knitter’s Book of Knowledge:
A Complete Guide to Essential Knitting Techniques

by Debbie Bliss

I took this book out of the library maybe four or five times before my hubby got it for me for Christmas (with new knitting needles – what a guy!)  The step-by-step instructions are sketched and fully-in color. The book explains techniques in a simple manner, so the instructions are easy to understand.

The book is very comprehensive, and reads as if you’re sitting down with your knitting teacher. I’ve found the sections on cast-on methods and shaping (increases and decreases), very useful in the past few months when I couldn’t quite grasp certain stitches and methods in a pattern.

Because of the structure of the book, it’ll be a good resource as I progress through more projects in the future, such as: reading charted patterns (one of the patterns I bought recently has only charted instructions, which I didn’t realize), knitting with color (something I want to try), and designing to fit (the hubby said the one thing he would love knitted most of all is a sweater, so I want to be sure it fits).

Plum Dandi Knits: Simple Designs for Luxury Yarns
by Alicia Plummer & Melissa Schaschwary

The pictures in this book are what first caught my eye. Beautifully photographed, the knitting patterns in here are streamlined, modern designs. All the patterns have a classic timelessness to them, stylish without being too trendy. The influence of New England is apparent in the styles and the names of the patterns, many of which are local towns.

I also appreciate the simplicity in some of the patterns, by which I can lose myself in the pattern. It’s very meditative when I’m commuting; I can be surrounded by other commuters but remain alone in my thoughts and my stitches. Conversely, when I want to be social I can knit and carry on a conversation easily.

This is currently my favorite pattern book on my shelf. All of the patterns are for items that would seamlessly blend into everyday life. Though the book calls for luxury yarns, I don’t think that would be a requirement. For the first pattern I knitted, Exeter, I used leftover stash yarn to make the fingerless gloves.

There are so many patterns in here I’m anxious to try.  Next up on my list will probably be a sweater, I love Keene and Genesee.  Currently I’m working on the cowl/capelet Sawyer, and I’m totally in love with it.

Vogue Knitting The Ultimate Knitting Book
2018 Edition by the Editors of Vogue Knitting Magazine

Wow. When they say the ultimate knitting book, they really do mean it. Glossy pages, full color pictures and sketches, and it spans the gamut of all things related to knitting. The edges of the pages feature a color-coded index, which makes it super easy to locate sections within the book. This book is a comprehensive guide to techniques, methods, tools, and pattern designing and sizing.

Beyond just structure and sizing of sweaters, this book delves into hats, gloves, mittens, socks and shawls. For a christmas hat project I have in mind, this will be very useful; since I haven’t been able to find a pattern that achieves what I want, I will probably design my own.

This is another great resource book that will be used over and over again. The book is very detailed on pattern designing and the back of the book features knitter’s graph paper (which is sized differently from regular graph paper) in several sizing gauges depending on the type of paper.

Those are the three books I’ve been enjoying; I hope you like them as much as I do!
Happy knitting and reading!

Reading and Knitting (and watching the games)

Last weekend while browsing the shelves of Barnes and Noble, I came across a new book: Plum Dandi Knits by Alicia Plummer and Melissa Schaschwary. The photographs really drew me in, the designs are simple, stylish, and wearable. Ultimately, the deciding factor was my favorite yarn brand was the yarn used in one of patterns I liked best. I took that as a sign, and brought the book home.

Eager to try one of the patterns, I started with Exeter, a fingerless gloves pattern that seemed fairly straightforward. After all, there was a large sporting event on February 4th that I intended to knit while watching; I couldn’t start anything too complex!

Exeter mitts by Plum Dandi

Love these simple mitts, in a neutral color like this they’ll be good transitional gloves for New England weather.

Since the pattern doesn’t call for much yarn, it was a perfect project to use stash yarn. I went with Paton’s Kroy Sock yarn in Flax, working through the leftover skein and a smidgen from a sock project last year.

Between the Puppy Bowl, Superbowl, and Beanpot Hockey Game (BU v. Harvard), I finished the first mitt. The games weren’t too distracting – although I did accidentally knit the thumb inside-out and needed to redo that. The second mitt took the remainder of the week to finish, since I primarily worked on it during my commute.

The trickiest part was repeating an error I made in the rows switching from the smaller needles to the larger. Instead of ending on row 1 I ended on row 2 in the two-row pattern repeat; which resulted in a noticeable knit row line at the cuff. I didn’t catch the error until almost bind-off, and didn’t think it was worth the effort to undo so much work. Hence, while working on the second knit, I needed to repeat the error to make it look intentional!

DSC_0813

Warm and cozy!!

In the end, I’m happy with the finished mitt project and I’m totally in love with this book. I’m really excited to try out more of the patterns in here!

Rolling on with River

My latest work in progress is the shawl pattern, River, by Softsweater Knits, Sylvia McFadden. I love her work; pretty much my entire Ravelry queue right now is made up of her patterns.

River Shawl

Weaving in the ends as I go was a smart idea

I’m working this shawl in Berocco’s Folio yarn in green and blue, two of my favorite colors. This yarn is so soft, easy to knit with, and affordable without feeling like I’m compromising quality. I’ve been very happy with Folio yarn in the past; I used it to make my wedding shawl.

What I love about this pattern is the repetition. It’s repetitive enough that I can watch a show or knit on the bus during my commute, without needing to check the pattern every few stitches. However, there’s enough variation that I don’t totally zone out either. It’s a good balance.

River shawl

The colors match well with my yarn bowl

I find the simplicity in this pattern very soothing and meditative. That’s one of the reasons I am so drawn to knitting: it’s a very relaxing hobby. I’m the type of person who needs to be productive. It’s hard for me to “turn off”, but with knitting, I can relax but still feel as if I’m accomplishing something. It’s great way of satisfying that need in my personality, while also taking time to recharge.

Cowl Complete!

It always feels great to complete a project. This one was especially fun, because B and I kept pace knitting together. The past few times we got together, we sat and chatted for hours knitting along on our project. I made the majority of my progress on this project while hanging out with her.

The yarn is so soft, which is needed since this project rests so close to the skin around the neck. I especially love the soft gradients in the yarn; it shows off the stitches beautifully. This is the first time I’ve knit with a hand-dyed yarn of this quality, and it was such a treat!

Cowl

Is this the top or the bottom?

I haven’t quite figured out which way is the top, so I’ve experimented wearing it both ways. It’s great to wear on cold days in place of a scarf, which sometimes get blown out of position in the wind, giving the face and neck a blast of icy air. My hair also doesn’t get as tangled, because the cowl doesn’t shift as much as a scarf does. Downside, because the neck is narrow, it’s not ideal for nice-hair events and will create static.

Cowl close up

Love the way the yarn makes this pattern pop!

I loved learning new stitches during this project. My favorite segment was the alternating small holes. It knit up quick and the pattern was very sweet. The mock cable section was also beautiful, but I prefer standard cables because they’re honestly easier for me to conceptualize.

Overall, I’m happy with how the cowl turned out, and I’m happy that I’ve completed another project on my Ravelry Goals!

Project Details:

Sunny Yellow Hat for Winter

The first completed project of 2018! This hat, made of super bulky yarn, is heavy and intensely warm, making it a great hat for cold winter days.

Free rapunzel hat

This hat is so warm!! Perfect for spending a lot of time outside on a cold day.

The pattern I used for this hat is called Free Rapunzel by Tiny Owl Knits.  For Christmas last year my friend B gave me the pattern book, Woodland Knits by Tiny Owl Knits in which this pattern is featured. The book has a lot of cute, whimsical designs.

I had two skeins in my yarn stash of Bernat’s size six bulky yarn in a gorgeous yellow color that I used for the hat. It was great to use up stash yarn, but there’s always the risk of running out and being unable to replace in that dye lot. I came close enough to the end of the second skein to be nervous.

Cables Free Rapunzel Hat

Still in awe of how pretty these cables are, and how hard they were to knit!

First, the cable brim is knit flat. The bulky yarn made the brim very thick. It shows off the cables stitches beautifully, but knitting cables in such a thick yarn is difficult. I needed to take frequent breaks because it would hurt my hands trying to shift the stitches across the needles.

When the brim was completed, the two ends are seamed together. Then stitches are picked up from the side to create the crown of the hat. The crown is knit in the round; I started with a circular needle and later switched to double pointed needles. I needed to modify the pattern at this point for two reasons: 1.) I’m petite and the hat may not have fit me if I didn’t hasten the decrease rows and 2.) I was running low on yarn.

free rapunzel hat

Love this pom pom!

The pattern calls for two earflaps with long braids, but I didn’t make these. The brim covers my ears quite well, and I didn’t have enough yarn. Instead I used the small amount of excess to make a fluffy pom pom for the top. The pom pom is so cute, I’m really happy with it.

This was a fun project to start off the new year, and perfect for winter. Stay warm and happy knitting!

Knit-Along Kit – Festival Cowl Update

Our cowls are coming along nicely, other than a slight snafu around the holidays in which B and I mixed up our knitting bags and each took home part of each other’s project. That caused about a two-week delay until we saw each other again for New Year’s. Now we’re back at it!

I discovered more about this pattern since I last wrote. It’s called Scaldacollo Todi by Carla Positano Designs. The pattern is available for free on Ravelry if you want to check it out.

Cowl

A benefit to this project is that mistakes are easily hidden.  Good luck trying to find them!

The garter stitch section came out gorgeous, although I think I prefer knitting garter stitch flat than in the round. In order to achieve that look knitting in the round it requires alternating rows of knit and purl, and I’m slower at purl stitches.

Purl rows also require more focus from me, and I had a minor crisis when I dropped a stitch that then dropped about three rows. Mild panic ensued, but I was able to mostly fix it with a crochet hook. The error is more noticeable than the perfectionist in me would like, but I didn’t want to undo 4-6 rows in two colors of yarn to fix it. I figured that when the cowl is worn, it won’t be noticeable so I’m not going to worry about it.

Cowl close up

Love the way the green yarn (Malachite) knits up. It adds such dimension to the stitches.

The next section was a mock cable. I love cables, but this one was not my cup of tea. The cable row was a twist stitch, and maybe I was doing it incorrectly, but it took about as long to do that one row of twist right every three stitches as it did to do the other four rows of p1 k2. The mock cable was only for four repeats, so I was able to get through it and it looks fantastic, which makes the effort worth it, but I probably wouldn’t want to do this cable repeat on a larger project.

After another sequence of garter stitch, I’m on to the last large section of this pattern: alternating small holes. I’ll let you know how it goes! Happy knitting!

2018 Ravelry Project Challenge

The start of the New Year is perfect for goal setting, and Ravelry’s Project Challenge helps users keep track of their knitting and crochet goals.

Ravelry has a new tab in the notebook, called Challenge, which allows users to track project goals for the year. First set an overall project completion goal for 2018. Next plan out the year’s projects by using the Queue feature. Patterns in the queue are displayed here with completion deadlines (if you choose to set them). Completed projects are displayed right under the goal number. The Challenge tab measures progress in percentages as projects are completed.

Since it’s the start of a new year, I thought it would be fun to try. Last year, I completed six projects: the wedding shawl, two pairs of socks, and three christmas ornaments. To push myself, I set my project completion goal to seven this year.

First up on my list are the three current projects from yesterday’s post. The other patterns currently in my queue are by Softsweater Knit’s Sylvia McFadden. I bought a bunch of her patterns during her after-holiday sale in December. I chose two hats (Pebble and Anchor) and two shawl patterns (The Sun and The Elder Tree Shawl).

I love knitting hats, they’re quick and fun to make. These hats are both published in Stone and Sea and feature lace detailing which I haven’t tried in a hat before. Two shawls may be a bit ambitious, but I already have the yarn for these projects and I’m anxious to use it.

I don’t usually plan out my projects for the year like this, and as a result I may need to adjust my project queue if it becomes a little unrealistic or I’m inspired by another pattern as the year goes on. I’m excited for this Ravelry challenge and a year of fun knitting in 2018! Happy New Year!