Saturday, November 29, 2014

I'm a little teapot . . .

Lately I did a little knitting for the birthday of a tea-loving friend.

This is the Sheep Carousel tea cosy by Kate Davies. 
I ordered it from Kate as a kit, so I received a wonderful package with the pattern, 2 skeins of Jamieson & Smith Shetland Supreme jumper weight, and a small project bag (which I used to "gift wrap" my finished cosy).

I loved knitting this - it's a project full of fun techniques, in small doses.  None were actually new to me, but if they are to you, this is a good introduction.  If you want to practice stranded colorwork, steeks, provisional cast-on, i-cord (and i-cord bind-off), and the vikkel braid, it's all here.  It's an adorable thing to knit, and the instructions (or links to instructions) are very good.  My favorite bit is the vikkel braid, which I think I first learned from Anna Zilboorg's wonderful book, Magnificent Mittens.

It looks like there's enough yarn to make another cozy (she says switching to the American spelling) if I reverse the colors.  If I were to make this again, I'd make both slits (the handle and spout ones) the same size. Luckily, this fits my friend's pot (the first photo) just fine, but would fit mine better if the spout slit were longer, or at least placed differently.

Project on Ravelry here

Sheep Carousel

  • designed by Kate Davies
  • Jamieson & Smith Shetland Supreme Jumper Weight, 100%  undyed shetland wool, 188 yards 1 Ball Moorit (2004) , 1 ball white (2001)
  • size 2 US needles - 16 inch circular and double point, also US size 4 needles for the bottom edging.  

Monday, October 06, 2014

Wee Chickadee

Possibly the cutest thing I've ever knit.

Unfortunately, I miscalculated my gauge, so I'm nervous that it will be too small on the not quite so wee little chick it is meant for.  It turned out a bit long and narrow.  But SO cute.

Wee Chickadee

  • Wee Chickadee pattern by Ysolde Teague
  • Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light - 1 skein Happiness (color exclusive to Happy Knits in Portland, OR), and small Unicorn Tails (mini-skeins of tosh merino light) in Cousteau, Antique Lace, and Whiskey Barrel
  • size 1 US needles
  • intended size:  9-12 months.  In reality, much smaller
  • Buttons from Hancock Fabrics, Lauren Hancock
  • on Ravelry
I especially love how the birds, in the Cousteau blue, look solidly blue from a distance, but glow with variegation up close. 

The pattern calls for the trim around the neck, front bands, and bottom of the body to be knit all at once, with mitered corners.  I thought the neckline, in the pictures on Ravelry, looked too open, and the miters didn't look quite tidy.  Instead, I knit the bottom on as I went, then did the neckline in a knit purl ribbing, and then did the front bands.  Neater, mostly, but there were a lot of ends to weave in, from the contrast colored tipping.  If I'd kept all bands the same color as the body, I wouldn't have had that problem.   Also, I didn't pick up EVERY stitch around the neckline -- if I had to do it again, I would, trusting the ribbing to pull the neck edge in a bit. 

    The only thing cuter than this sweater might be the little girl who it was made for.  If her parents are up for it, maybe you'll see a picture in the future.  In any case, as the color name says, I hope she'll be wrapped in happiness. 

    Monday, September 15, 2014

    Good gifts . . .

    I have to admit that my favorite kind of gifts are the kind I got not long ago -- two great gifts in one weekend.  First of all, they were totally unexpected - it wasn't my birthday, or Christmas, or Mother's day, or, well anything.  And though I appreciate the generosity of any gift, they were not embarrassingly extravagant.  What they were was perfect.  Really perfect for ME. 
    The first gift was the box of card catalog note cards.  It was a gift from someone who knows me very well, and it really is exactly right.  The box looks like a little card catalog drawer, and contains replicas of catalog cards from the Library of Congress.  They're all of cards from classic books.  On the back, there's room to write a short note, and there are little envelopes to mail them in that look like the ones that held the date due cards in library books in the olden days.  (You know, the olden days, before libraries used barcodes and scanners.) Eventually I will use them to write notes, but right now, the box is just sitting on a table in my living room, because I can't bear to part with any of them yet. 

    The book journal was from someone who probably doesn't know me all that well, but who works in a bookstore.  And it too is just the thing for me.  For quite a few years, I have been keeping a list of the books I read and listen to.  My not very impressive reason for doing this is so that I can remember whether or not I've read a book (or just read about it), and to recall titles of books I'd like to recommend to one person or another.  The flaw in my plan is that I write down books as I read them, so there's no easy way to find a particular book except to skim the list, which by now is quite long. 

    This journal is designed like an address book, with alphabetical tabs on the side and a page for each book.  When I counted the pages and looked them over, I realized first of all that there aren't enough pages to last very long, and that I probably didn't want to reflect quite so much on each book I read as to take a whole page.  So, I'm using the alpha tabs (by author) but not using the whole page, just a paragraph or so, and a star rating for each book.  Also, I'm using some blank tabs at the back to STILL keep a chronological list of the books I'm reading, because sometimes I need to be reminded of the title (or author) of a book I just finished. My mind really is a sieve like that, I'm afraid.  And so far,  this journal is working out great!

    How about you?  Have you ever received a perfect gift, just because? 

    Friday, September 12, 2014

    One Last Summer Sweater

      Cascade, by Marie Wallin

    • made of Rowan Silkystones yarn, 52% silk, 48% linen, color Grassland, 10 skeins used though the pattern asked for 9 (more about this later)
    • US size 5 needle (pattern calls for a 6)
    • Size M (designed for 36-38 bust, for a 46" garment (!!)
    • On Ravelry
     I actually fell in love with this yarn first, when I saw this picture in a magazine:
    But this sweater is crocheted, and I don't crochet (much), and didn't think this much crochet, with such a textured yarn (and oh, I did love the color and texture of that yarn) was a good idea for my first project.

    But when I looked at the Silkstones pattern book on the Rowan site,  I decided it would be worth a try to make Cascade, a lacy KNIT sweater with a similar shape.

    Working with this crunchy (it washes out to a softer, drapier garment, but the knitting was definitely crunchy) yarn wasn't too difficult, but estimating size and gauge was tricky.  I did wash and dry my swatch, and used those measurements to knit to a certain number of rows, rather than the centimeters specified in the pattern.  It was a good that I did, or my very oversized sweater would have been HUGE!

    Before blocking
    And after -- just smoothed, not stretched.

    The first time I tried on the sweater, it looked like this:

    Too oversized!

    I didn't really want to reknit - so I did some pulling and pinning and finally decided to take about an inch and half off the top of the sweater -- this lifted the neckline, and made the sleeves smaller.  Still perhaps not ideal, but certainly an improvement. (Compare with the photo at top.)  And as to needing the extra skein of yarn,  maybe with tighter gauge or a smaller size, 9 would have been fine.  The next smaller size called for 8 skeins, I think. 

    This sweater illustrates a problem we knitters (and seamstresses too) can have - we (usually) don't get to try on garments for size and style before we put hours into making them.  I knew at the outset that this might be an iffy style for me.  I am not a waif-like 19 year old model for Rowan, who wanders listlessly on the Spanish coast.  So, time will tell if this sweater really works in my wardrobe, for my body.

    But in the meantime, there's this rustic lace.

    Which I know I love. 

    Monday, July 21, 2014

    Never EVER too many black sweaters. . .

    Once the weather got warm this spring, I really missed my black cardigan.  Last year I made Miriam, and I find myself wearing it at least once a week when the weather is cool.  But I really can't wear wool once it warms up.   Though Miriam isn't a big bulky sweater, it is a warm one.

    So, I interrupted my regularly scheduled knitting (Breckon, you are who I am thinking of) to make a black sweater I can wear in the spring and summer.  I chose Bonne Marie Burns' Abria sweater, because I have enjoyed knitting her patterns in the past, and it's similar to Miriam, but not the same.
    I think it's going to be just the thing.
    It's made of Juniper Moon Farm Zooey yarn, a linen/cotton blend.  As you can see, it's kind of a thick and thin yarn.  I think it's nice to have some texture in this simple design, although it may not be the optimal way to show off the lace detail.  Also, it came in black, which turned out not to be so easy to find in a dk yarn that blended cotton with silk or linen.  I hoped the linen would enhance the drape and body of the cotton yarn, and it seems fine.  Also, it's not too warm.  Really, though I might appreciate those sleeves after dark or when I'm somewhere with too cool air conditioning, what I really wanted was the look a cardigan can give to finish an outfit.  Warm wasn't wanted.

    The construction of this sweater was really fun.  It was the first time I have knitted a sweater from the top down.  First, I knit the back of the neckband, then picked up stitches for the back and sleeves.  Then, stitches are picked up for the front.  There are short rows and some nice shaping.  I made it as written, except to add some rows of length at the end -- two extra 8-row repeats of the short row shaping, without the decreases (though I did the decreases as written up to that point).  I don't know if my row gauge was off, or if my torso is long, but when I tried on the sweater before the ribbing, it wasn't long enough.  So, I got to see for myself one of the advantages of knitting from the top down.  I also used one size smaller needle for the bottom ribbing, and two sizes smaller for the sleeve ribbing.

    Initially, I used the same size as the rest of the sweater for the sleeve ribbing, as directed.  I think I was afraid after the slightly too-tight sleeves of Miriam (which do stretch on wearing, by the way).  But the sleeves on this sweater are fairly generous, and cotton and linen are inelastic.  So, the first time I wore the sweater, the sleeves stretched unattractively at the elbows.  It was but the work of a couple of TV viewings to unravel and reknit them, and totally worth it.  Here's the "before" picture of the sleeves:


    • Chic Knits Abria, knit to size 38
    • Juniper Moon Farms Zooey, 60% cotton, 40% linen, 284 yards in 100 grams, color 10 (Anise) 3 skeins (from Webs)
    • size 4 (US) needles for the body,  size 3 for the bottom ribbing, and size 2 for sleeve ribbing
    • knit as written except for two extra repeats without decreasing of the front (wrap) shaping rows, and using smaller needles for ribbing.
    • On Ravelry here

    Monday, June 30, 2014

    Special delivery

    Sometimes, the biggest gift is received by the giver - and this was one of those times.  This past spring, we joined my daughter, for a couple of weeks, in Italy, where she was studying.  We had the privilege of meeting the woman who hosted her homestay.  I had made the Alby scarf for her, and it was such a treat to present it in person. 

    My daughter helped me (by phone and LONG distance) to choose colors, and I was so happy that they looked so pretty with her eyes. 

    What a blessing this lady was -- of course room and board had been paid, but she gave my daughter so many things money can't pay for -- kindness, care and concern when she was sick, friendship, good advice, and so much more.  She even invited us for a meal in her lovely home.  It's hard to out-give a generous soul, and so my knitting was only a token.  So glad we got to meet face to face.  Ciao!

    Monday, February 17, 2014

    Giving away what you'd like to keep

    I've always thought that wishing you could keep something for yourself that you bought (or made) for a gift is a good sign you've chosen well.  A couple of weeks ago, I finished this little scarf I intend for a gift.  And I think it's turned out rather well.

    I won't get to give it to its recipient for a while, so thus this picture of me.
    • Alby, by Bonne Marie Burns. 
    • Dream in Color Smooshy with Cashmere (70% superwash merino wool, 20% Cashmere, 10% nylon), colors Dark Current and Scorched Lime
    • bought at Yarn Folk in Ellensburg 
    • on Ravelry here
    I think there's enough of the yarn left to knit another scarf if I reverse the colors.  Maybe that one can be mine, or maybe it'll be another gift.  By the way, if you're reading this, the scarf pictured isn't for you -- sorry.   The colors are prettier in person, and the yarn is altogether fabulous.  The pattern is just interesting enough, and well written.  Maybe I'll get better pictures, in better light, when I give it to its intended wearer.  What do you think?  A good gift?