FO: Midnight Slouching hat

It’s not often I make two of the same thing so close together. This hat has squishy earflaps because of the 1×1 cabling, which is quite tedious to do. I really should learn to do those without a cable needle. Perhaps on hat #3.

Midnight Slouching hat

Pattern: Ekaterin Slouch Hat by Running Jack Knits

Yarn: String Theory Merino DK in Viola

Needles: US6 (ChiaGoo circular)

Duration: 17th September to 25th September

Love this yarn, the feel and especially the colour. It looks like it was dyed blue then overdyed in dark purple. I made this hat a little more slouchy than the last, went up a needle size, and eliminated the ring of cables above the earflaps.

Any future circular needle purchases will be the ChiaGoo range, the red cabled cord was great to work with, and the steel needles felt nicer than my usual Addi circulars.

FO: Flutter Scarf mkII

It still needs blocking, but the Flutter scarf is done:

Flutter Scarf.

Pattern: Flutter by Mimknits

Yarn: Classic Elite Yarns Silky Alpaca Lace

Needles: US3 (my Blackthorn needles)

Duration: 21 July to 1st September

This is my second Flutter scarf, and this time I did it right. I put in four rows of stocking stitch after the provisional cast-on and before starting the pattern. When I came back for those stitches to start the second half, I was surprised how little those four rows showed. If you know what you’re looking for you can see it, there’s a hitch sideways in the spine stitches and one pattern diamond is a little thick in the middle, but it’s subtle and I think blocking will hide it even more.

Flutter Scarf.

Got the yarn when Leah came up to visit from San Antonio because I love the acid apple green colour. I took her to the Weaving Department in Hazelwood, my favourite yarn store. It occupies the upper floor of an 1880s house, the stairs creak when you go up them and it’s a little stuffy in the summer heat, but I love the place. I learned to spin there and I’ve been in and out for years.

The only bad part of this scarf is the grinding tedium of doing 50 repeats of a four-row lace pattern before you get to the fun part. Once those repeats are done, the final two charts go quickly, even if you do more than triple the number of working stitches to make it ruffle. The drug dealer’s scale said I had enough yarn to make the second side with over 3g to spare, but I put in a lifeline at 47 repeats just in case.

I suffered several lace-wrecks in this project, the worst being where the stitches slipped off the needles and all sorts of badness happened. I lost half of chart #3, all of chart #2 and a half-repeat of chart #1 before everything got sorted out. Thank goodness for all-purl rest rows!

Sheep sampling

I’ve started making a Deco cardigan, from Scottish pattern designer Kate Davies, and I’ll be working on it for a while. A long while. The rows for my size are 241 stitches long, and that takes some time to knit. There’s no side seam so I’m working on the back and both fronts all together. I’m knitting sportweight yarn on a US4 needle. Had to go up one needle size but I got both stitch and row gauge. I got gauge on the Toasty Cardigan on the specified needles and it’s an English pattern, then I almost got gauge on Deco on the specified needle. Britons are definitely more uptight in their knitting!

The yarn is one I’ve been planning to use for a while, it’s a CVM/mohair blend sportweight yarn from Winterwind Farm. CVM stands for California Variegated Mutant, a subtype of the Romeldale sheep (which is a cross of Romney and Rambouillet, developed in the US in the early 1900s). It’s undyed and a nice grey colour, a little unevenly spun but I think this will be a hard-wearing fabric.

Deco Cardigan - Swatch.

The next project after Deco is another large endeavour, the Topiary wrap. Got the yarn for this in Portland OR earlier this year, Brooklyn Tweed Shelter, a Targhee/Columbia wool blend. I’ve used Columbia wool before, in Imperial Stock Ranch yarn, and I wasn’t impressed with finding 3 knots in the first half-skein of yarn. Hopefully Shelter will be better yarn, though I’m expecting some vegetable matter. I liked the spongy feel of the wool, but not that yarn.

I’ve also knit with handspun Gotland, Polwarth, Wensleydale, Finn, and Jacob wools, and commercial BFL sock yarn. The BFL tends to be thinner than regular sock yarn and wears well, though the dye may not last as well as the yarn. It amazes me how different the sheep breeds are.

FO: Trenton’s Beanie

Some people have never owned a handknitted object. Trenton was one of them and he asked for a hat, brown or off-white. The Halfdome is my go-to beanie pattern, though I do mine in the round because hats done flat is just unnecessary seaming.

Trenton's hat.

Pattern: Halfdome with modifications

Yarn: Zealana Rimu Special Edition Fingering

Needles: US3 circular

Duration:20th August to 2nd September

Halfdome is for worsted weight yarn, I’m using heavy fingering weight. I got gauge, but the large hat grew while I was working on it so I restarted and the medium size fit well. The fabric has a halo of possum hairs that make it look like it’s been home to a shedding cat. It feels silky and very warm on my hands as I work. Trenton works outside and this will keep him toasty in the autumn.

Tools at hand

It’s not often I get someone ask me to knit for them. At Sunday brunch, Trenton asked for a beanie in brown or off-white. I happened to have a tape measure with me to measure his head, and I picked up some yarn I’ve been wanting to play with for a while, Zealana Rimu fingering weight (though I’d call it a heavy fingering/light sport). It’s 60% merino, 40% NZ brushtailed possum fur. The more invasive brushtailed possums get culled in New Zealand, the better it is for the native wildlife, so, save a kiwi, knit a hat!

I don’t usually have the tape measure with me. Part of my Everyday Carry in my handbag is a safety pin and a couple of stitch markers. If I have my project bag I also have a crochet hook, scrap yarn, stitch holders, pen, double pointed needles in size US00 and US3, and a spare lip balm or four, along with the project bag tape measure. In both the handbag and work bag I have some basic makeup, hair bands (kept in a zippered pocket to keep Quantum the cat from stealing them), nail file and clippers, and a small pot of headache pills. There is always at least one notebook in the car, along with a tire pressure gauge, an LED flashlight, a pen, and some quarters for parking meters.

Hubby has a small Benchmade knife in his, we both have a Leatherman multi-tool, which gives us a good sharp blade. Car, workbag, and handbag also have some travel tissues, the car also has emergency gloves, scarf and hat (my prototype for the Landguard hat).

What do you consider essential equipment? What should a knitter have in their Everyday Carry?

FO: Toasty Cardigan

After a lot of seaming work and sewing in countless ends, I have a completed cardigan, slightly cropped in length. The sleeves are a bit tighter than I’d like but it fits well.

Toasty Cardigan.

Pattern: Rowan’s Toasty Cardigan (no longer a free pattern)

Yarn: DZined Wool/Hemp Sportweight and Peace Fleece DK Sport

Needles: US6 and US3

Duration: October 2nd 2011 to August 2012

I’ve never got gauge on the needles specified in the pattern before, and it happened on an English pattern. This was a Rowan freebie pattern but they’ve since taken it back and it’s only available in book form now. The main yarn is special because I got it during my only trip to Maryland for the Sheep and Wool Festival. The yarn company, DZined, is gone now, and I wasn’t sure I had enough to get things done, so the ribbing is in Peace Fleece Kamchatka Sea Moss.

Seaming took forever. I did the shoulders twice because the first time looked bad, then there was the button band and buttonhole band to attach, then attaching the sleeves to the body, then doing the side seams, and finally sewing on the buttons. I love how the shoulders turned out. This shoulder style suits me much better than raglan sleeves so I’ll be picking future tops to avoid the raglans. Amelia is off my queue, and Deco is my next big project.

Part of the reason I delayed the seaming was because I was worried the sleeves wouldn’t fit me. I don’t have twig-thin arms, I have the arms you get from being a bit overweight and then doing three years of weekly punching drills. It turned out the ribbing on the sleeves was a little tight, so I left that part unsewn and it worked out OK. It loosened up a little when I washed it, because it was blocked in a most unusual (and non-washed) way.

This is the first piece I’ve made where the pattern told me to press the pieces before sewing. That’s press as in steam iron. And it worked, I was shocked how well it worked and I’m wondering about steam-pressing a lace scarf. I happen to have a lace scarf in progress too, Flutter in an alpaca/silk 70/30 blend laceweight.

FO: Fartlek hat

This is another hat from stashed yarn, another knitspot pattern, and I have to say, I’m not impressed with the pattern. The hat came out fine after some blocking but I never thought I’d need to block a hat. I mean, it’s a hat, what’s to block? Follow the pattern and you’ll find out.

Fartlek hat.

Pattern: Fartlek from knitspot

Yarn: Grignasco Merino Gold DK

Needles: US4 and US5

Duration:9th July to 19th July

It’s a hat with a folded-back brim, which should be simple. But once you’ve completed the patterned brim, the pattern has you do 12 rows in purl. Then either continue in purl, or change to knit. But if you do change to knit, those purl rows rows bunch up and curl and have to be blocked out. On a HAT. If I knit this again I’d switch to knit after two purl rows, like my Landguard Hat pattern, because that makes the brim turn in the right place and stay there, and doesn’t bunch up and look ugly and have to get blocked out. Have I mentioned I hate blocking?

The yarn is one of those blue/purple colours that’s impossible to photograph accurately, but it looks nice. I didn’t have any plan in mind when I bought it and I seem to buy random yarn in hat amounts. I’ve knit seven hats this year so far.

FO: Mink Earflap hat

Started on Saturday at knitgroup and finished on Monday, this was a fast knit but the 1×1 cables were wearisome.

Mink earflap hat.

Pattern: Ekaterin Slouch hat

Yarn: Great Northern Yarns 70% mink 30% cashmere DK in Terracotta

Needles: US5

Duration:July 7th to July 9th

If I did this again I’d go up a needle size because it’s snug on my head, I think it’ll be fine on its recipient this Christmas. The yarn produces a fabric that’s soft and airy with a lot of halo, and warm to wear. I loved watching the short-row earflaps emerge. The pattern was clear and well-written, I had plenty of leftover yarn from my 230yd skein. This is the fourth stashbusting hat I’ve knit this year and I’m not a natural hat-wearing person.

(I dropped out of the Tour de Fleece this year, but I’m still hoping to finish my camel/silk yarn soon.)

Plans and Previews

I’m currently reading (and annotating the glitches in) my 2011 NaNoWriMo novel with a view to finishing the story. The last three chapters are missing and I need to tidy things up and put a pretty bow on them so I can put this project to bed. It’s odd to read something I wrote but have no memory of the specifics. There’s a third book to be written which will finish off the story arc and I’m planning that for my 2013 novel, because I’ve got a shiny new plotbunny for this year’s NaNoWriMo with an all-new story to write.

Finally got the second bobbin of baby camel/silk blend on the spinning wheel. The fibre is from Corgi Hill Farm, I’m hoping it turns out to be a nice light fingering weight yarn I can use for a lace scarf. The fibre is very drapey and the silk gives it shine.

My Etsy store, Albion’s Forge has gained a few new items for sale and I’m working on a second design to put up for sale. I lost the prototype to someone that was playing with it, so I’m counting that a success. Pink rubber rings should be in my hands in July so I’ll make something pink. But what colour to put with it? Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, black, white?

It feels like I’ve been knitting the Rill Scarf forever, and the yarn just keeps on coming. In reality I’m nearing the halfway point in the pattern (15 of 36 central repeats completed), I have 20yds more yarn than I need, and I’m convinced the yarn ball is growing when I put it back in the project bag. My plan is to finish the first ball of yarn and put the scarf aside until I finish my cropped cardigan. I like Rill, and I’m making it with a long-discontinued yarn made from mink, milk, and merino, which is amazingly soft when knitted up. Great Northern Yarns is the only yarn producer I know that uses mink fur from sheared mink (that image makes me smile every time) and the company experiments with new fibre blends. This one was sold for a while but didn’t make it into the long-term stable of yarns.

FO: Primrose Bamboo

Let’s just say I had issues with this project. With the yarn, with the pattern, even with the fibre the yarn was spun from.

I’ve been annoyed at this fibre since I got it, because I ordered the Sunrise colour from Susan’s Spinning Bunny, which is this lovely orange colour, and I got pink, labelled as Sunrise. I maintain it was mislabelled and I’ve always resented this fibre for not being orange. I should have said something at the time but that was years ago now.

I spun the yarn for Tour de Fleece 2009 and got what I thought was 198yds of sport weight yarn. In reality, after winding it into a ball, then re-skeining it and re-winding it, I had 370yds of fingering weight yarn. It’s not one of my best yarns for consistency because it varies from sportweight to thin laceweight, and did I mention it’s also pink instead of orange?

And then there was the pattern. It’s short-row lace designed to make the scarf stay on, a nice diamond pattern, it should have been a breeze. The pattern specified yardage (350yds), but not how many repeats to knit, which bugged me. I was about to resort to math (weigh scarf, knit one repeat, weigh again, weigh remaining yarn, calculate available repeats still to knit) when the designer popped into the Ravelry thread where I was complaining about this and said it was 20 repeats and she would update the pattern. I did the math anyway and came up with 23 repeats given my yardage. As yet, there’s been no sign of that pattern update. The pattern also omitted when to slip the markers.

Evening Primrose scarf.

Pattern: Evening Primrose

Yarn: my handspun merino/bamboo/nylon from Tour de Fleece 2009

Needles: US5

Duration: 23rd April to 22nd May

I couldn’t read the lace pattern while I was knitting, and that was unusual for me. My lifeline moved every pattern repeat because I never felt comfortable enough to do without it. I also think the decrease end doesn’t look right, I believe the pattern is off slightly in the middle part of the decreases. I ripped it out and redid the end and got the same result while counting carefully, so I don’t think it was me. I’m glad this is finished, and I don’t intend to make another one.