Monday, January 15, 2007

Knucks for me

John and I now have matching pairs of Knucks (although mine doesn't say LOVE and HATE).

Here's an almost-done in-progress shot:

Originally I tried the textured cuff suggested in the pattern, but I didn't like the way it came out, and it wasn't stretchy at all. (I did it in the car at night so it's possible I just messed it up.) I ripped out the cuff and re-knitted it in K2P2 ribbing. So much better!

They fit me better than any gloves have ever fit me. I love having my fingers free to operate my iPod or fish my Metrocard out of my pocket. My hands are still surprisingly warm due to the alpaca, especially with the unseasonably warm weather we've been having.

I learned a few lessons from John's Knucks that I was able to apply to mine. The pattern says "less is more" when it comes to stitching up the holes between the fingers. I followed that advice on John's, but the holes next to the thumbs opened up after some time and I had to mend them. On mine, I was extra careful in closing up the holes. So far, so good.

I also made the fingers much tighter on mine, since the alpaca has a tendency to stretch out, and John's Knucks are no longer snug on his fingers. Making the fingers tighter may have also helped prevent curling. Only one thumb on mine is starting to curl. I haven't tried blocking them yet -- maybe that could also help keep the curling in check.

The cuffs on John's Knucks ended up being too short to go under his coat sleeves. I made my cuffs just under 2" long, which is proving to be a perfect length.

Knucks for me
Started: Oct. 24, 2006
Finished: Dec. 30, 2006
Pattern: Knucks from Knitty
Yarn: Frog Tree Alpaca Sport, color #0010, 1 skein (130 yds.)
Needles: US 2 dpns


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Irish Hiking Wrist Warmers pattern

This is the first pattern I'm posting. I did my best to write it up accurately and clearly based on my notes, but I can't promise it's error-free. Please leave a comment if you have any questions, suggestions, corrections, etc.

These wrist warmers should fit most people, as the cables and ribs make them both clingy and stretchy. You can try them on as you go, and make them as long or as short as you want.

This pattern was inspired by the Irish Hiking Scarf pattern from Hello Yarn, and by the Uneven Cable pattern from Barbara Walker's Treasury of Knitting Patterns.

- Less than 166 yards of worsted weight yarn (I used Bernat Satin)
- 5 double-pointed needles, size 8 US
- Cable needle

In stockinette, 18 sts and 25 rows = 4"

C6B = Slip 2 sts onto a cable needle and hold to back of work. K4, then K the 2 sts off cable needle.
M1K = Make one knit stitch using the increase of your choice (I used lifted increases: first right-slant, then left-slant)
M1P = Make one purl stitch using the increase of your choice (I used lifted increases: first right-slant, then left-slant)

Cast on 36 stitches and join for knitting in the round, being careful not to twist. Place marker at beginning of round.

Stitch Pattern:
Rounds 1, 2, 4, 5, 6: * K2, P2, K6, P2, repeat from * to end of round
Round 3: * K2, P2, C6B, P2, repeat from * to end of round

Repeat these 6 rounds, continuing in pattern until the wrist warmer is about 3 1/2" from the cast-on (or where ever you want the thumb gusset to start).

On the next round: slip marker, M1K, K2, M1K, pM, then complete the round in pattern.

Knit a round even in pattern. (Starting with K4 now that there are 2 extra stitches)
Continue in pattern, increasing by M1P after the first marker and M1P before the second marker. (These added stitches will be purled in future rounds.)

Repeat these last 2 rounds. There should now be 42 stitches.

Continue in pattern until wrist warmer is 5 1/2" (or desired length) from cast-on.

Bind off the 8 stitches between the markers, remove the second marker, and complete the round in pattern.
At the beginning of the next round, slip marker, cast on 2 stitches using the backward loop cast on, and complete the round in pattern. (These new stitches will be knitted in future rounds.)

Continue in pattern until wrist warmer is 7 1/2" long, or desired length.
Bind off loosely in pattern.

Make another wrist warmer just like this one!

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Happy 2007!

All in all, 2006 was a good year for me, full of knitting firsts. Here are some of the highlights:

- First lace project
- First fair isle
- First pair of socks
- First 3 sweaters
- First baby booties
- First baby blanket
- First wrist warmers and fingerless gloves
- First beaded project
- First attempts to modify and improvise patterns
- First trip to Rhinebeck

I don't have any specific knitting goals for 2007, but I would like to try and keep my stash under control and get braver about modifying patterns and making up my own.


Knitting for the kitchen

Here's what I did on the ride back from Pittsburgh:

It's the ballband dishcloth from Mason-Dixon Knitting!

It was a fun pattern to knit, even though cotton isn't my favorite fiber to work with. We've already started using it to wash dishes, and it works very well for certain things. I'm used to sponges, so I ended up spritzing myself with dishwater a few times as the cloth flopped around in my hand. Bits of food get caught in it easily. But it's very absorbent and can cover a large surface area at once. And it's pretty!

Ballband Dishcloth
Started: Dec. 27
Finished: Dec. 27
Pattern: From Mason-Dixon Knitting
Yarn: Sugar 'n Cream, 1 skein Bright Navy, 1 skein Midnight Magic
Needles: US 7 Denises


Gimli on steroids

I finally added a lining to my Gimli hat, something I had been meaning to do since last winter. I used the Morehouse Farm Merino I bought at Brooklyn General.

Here's what I did:

Lining the earflaps

I picked up 25 stitches along the earflap seam and repeated the following two rows:
1) ssk, knit to last 2 stitches, k2tog
2) sl 1, purl to last stitch, sl 1
...until there were only 2 stitches left, which I knitted together. I sewed down the other 2 sides of the triangle to the earflap, and repeated for the other side.

Lining the rest of the hat
I picked up 110 stitches along the inside edge, joined, knitted until the lining was about 2.5 inches long, then began the decrease rounds because I had too many stitches on there. I placed markers every 10 stitches and knitted together the 2 stitches before each stitch marker. I repeated this decrease round every third round (maybe 5 times) and finally every other round, until I had 10 stitches left. I cut the yarn and pulled it through the 10 stitches and weaved in the end.

I didn't swatch or do any math, and it definitely was not a scientific process, but I'm pleased with how it turned out. Basically there is a second hat inside the original hat. And it is super warm and very soft inside! And the hat is ridiculously thick! If it sort of resembled armor before, now it practically is!

It hasn't been cold enough yet to really try it out. In fact, I'm not sure it will get cold enough in NYC this winter! But if we do get a blizzard this year, I'm prepared.

Gimli Lining
Started: Dec. 24
Finished: Dec. 26
Pattern: None
Yarn: Morehouse Farm Merino worsted, 1 skein
Needles: US 8 Denises and dpns, I think...

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I generally refrain from buying things for myself before the holidays, but immediately afterwards I tend to go on a bit of a shopping spree.

This snail-like contraption is a needle threader. Until now, I've been using the kind of needle threader that has a wire loop. Those work very well with sewing needles and thread, but they are pretty delicate and have a tendency to break when used with thick yarn. I suspected there must be a device better tailored to threading yarn, and the other day when I was in Daytona Trimmings, I happened upon this cute little item. Unfortunately it has some rough edges from when the metal was stamped out, but it works pretty well and I'm not afraid it's going to break.

One of the Christmas gifts we bought for a friend this year was from the Bust Boobtique, and in order to, um, make the shipping cost worthwhile, I ordered a copy of Stitch 'n' Bitch Nation for myself. I had taken it out of the library a while back, copied a few pages, and made the Fairly Easy Fair Isle cardigan from it. The book contains many good patterns and lots of useful information about modifying patterns, adding waist shaping, etc., so I wanted a copy of my own.

The gizmo above is an "ear light." I have to thank Christine from the Pointy Sticks podcast for sharing her three favorite knitting things: her ear light, highlighter tape, and dpn protectors! Shortly after hearing that podcast, I went to the Discovery Store at Grand Central and picked up an ear light. It enabled me to knit Courtney's tassel hat in the car the night we drove to Pittsburgh. I found it to be more comfortable than my head lamp which I have used for the same purpose.

I also ordered a pair of handmade dpn stitch protectors from Three Owls Knitting on Etsy! She has instructions on her blog on how to make them, but I really like the ones she's selling, and they're reasonably priced. This was my first Etsy purchase!

Tracking down highlighter tape was a little tricky. Staples didn't have it, and I thought Christine said it was made by 3M, but I couldn't find it on their web site. Eventually I found (they also have an eBay store) and ordered the one-line (1/6") tape. This should be very helpful with knitting charts. I'm currently knitting Shedir and wishing I already had my highlighter tape!

Also for Shedir, I picked up a US 3 circular needle (my first bamboo circ) and dpns (by KA, a brand I haven't tried before).

And...I bought more yarn! I ordered a couple skeins from Lisa Souza. One is a skein of superwash sport merino in the "Violet's Pink Ribbon" colorway. The proceeds from that yarn will go towards medical bills for Violet from the Lime and Violet podcast, who recently found a lump in her breast. The yarn is pink, which isn't a favorite color of mine, but I'll probably use it to make something for a baby. It was a great excuse to try out Lisa's handpainted yarn, about which I've heard wonderful things. While I was at it, I also purchased a skein of merino sock yarn in the "Earth Birth" colorway.

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Odessa II

John got his hat in time for Christmas!

John's Odessa
Started: Dec. 23
Finished: Dec. 24
Pattern: Odessa by Grumperina (sans beads)
Yarn: RYC CashSoft DK, 1 skein
Needles: US 4 plastic circ, US 6 Addi Turbos, US 6 dpns

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Monday, January 01, 2007

Cute as a button

On the way to Pittsburgh I knitted a hat to match Courtney's placket sweater. I casted on 80 stitches, joined for knitting in the round, did k2p2 ribbing for about an inch, then placed markers every 20 stitches and alternated stockinette for 20 stitches, then seed stitch for 20 stitches, etc. I continued this until the hat was about 6 inches long, and then I bound off. I turned the hat inside out, laid it flat so that the seed stitch was in the middle and the stockinette was on the edges, and backstitched the top together. Then I made 2 tassels and attached them at the corners. Very simple, but it turned out pretty cute!

The sweater fits better than I could have hoped -- the sleeves and body are the right length, and there's a bit of growing room. She seemed to enjoy wearing both the hat and the sweater, to the extent that she repeatedly put them on herself throughout our visit!

Courtney's tassel hat
Started: Dec. 22
Finished: Dec. 24
Pattern: Inspired by "Fat Hats" pattern in Hip to Knit, also page 111 in Knitting Rules! (Scarf Rescue Hat section)
Yarn: Tess' Designer Yarns Superwash Merino, leftovers from placket sweater (with still more remaining)
Needles: US 8 Addi Turbos

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Knitting-related gifts!

I was very lucky this holiday season to receive 5 gifts overflowing with knitting wisdom!
  • Amy and Derek gave me the fabulous 'Knitting to go' patterns, by Kris Percival, which come on individual cards for extra portability. There are some great patterns in there, lots of classic designs plus ideas on improvising. I especially love the men's V-neck sweater and the soft baby blocks.

  • Mom and Dad gave me the 'Stitch 'n' Bitch Knitter's Calendar,' by Debbie Stoller. I'm very strict with myself about page-a-day calendars (no peeking ahead!), so this morning I woke up eager to open it up and look at the first page. Mondays are "Fave Fiber" writeups, and I learned about a yarn I hadn't heard of before. I'm looking forward to Tuesday tips, Wednesday Web Sightings, Knitting History on Thursdays, and Grab-and-Go Patterns on Fridays!

  • Elizabeth Zimmerman's 'Knitting Workshop' is also from Mom and Dad. I'm about halfway through it, and I'm learning a lot about sweater construction. I can't wait to try out some of the techniques! EDITED TO ADD: In this book, Elizabeth Zimmerman describes how to add short row shaping to the neck of a sweater in the back to make it fit better. This would have been a big improvement to John's zip raglan cardigan! His main complaint about that sweater is that the collar is too short in the back and won't turn down. Now I'll know for the next sweater!

  • Andrew gave me Barbara Walker's 'Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns,' which is even thicker than the First! It contains pages and pages of cable, lace, and color patterns that I'm itching to try out.

  • Rounding out my library of knitting essentials is 'Knitting From the Top,' also by Barbara Walker (another gift from Mom and Dad). I've started flipping through and it looks amazing. This book, along with the EZ books, should help me go farther in deviating from patterns.
Thanks Amy, Derek, Mom, Dad, and Andrew, for these fantastic additions to my knitting library!

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