Reverse Engineering a Scarf

An interesting project has come across my desk. Last week a charming fellow came into the yarn shop and showed me his scarf. It was a beautiful hand-knit cream coloured aran scarf, slightly discoloured with age and sporting a few holes. “I’m sure you could repair it,” he told me, “but it’s so thread-bare, I was wondering instead if there were anyone who might replicate it instead?”

You betcha, someone might. I might. (Pretty pretty please!)

I examined the scarf and decided it was probably done originally in aran-weight. I counted the # of stitches across (35), weighed it (94 grams), and measured it (precisely 100 cm by 15 cm, what a perfectly neat size!) all gave me a good starting place. He wanted to continue to wear his scarf until the replica could be made.”It’s cold. I need it,” he told me. “Can you work from a picture for me? You’ll know more than I how close a match it really is.” First of all, yes I can absolutely work from pictures, and second: it’s going to match exactly, have you met me? Of course he’d only met only just had five minute prior, but he learned quickly enough.

He selected the same cream colour in Borgo de Pazzi’s Cedro (a personal favourite of mine, but also by far the closest match to what had been used to knit his original piece.  Once he was sure I had everything I needed, he thanked me and tucked his scarf into his coat. It suited him perfectly – cheerful, polished, a little bit formal but not a bit stuffy. I’m very happy he’s going to soon have (I hope!) the joy of wearing his favourite scarf while being able to retire this well loved original.

Once home, I fired up StitchMastery and began fiddling with stitch combinations. I was very grateful I’d thought to photograph the back as well as the front, because it made the task considerably easier. Note to self EVERYONE: always photograph the back when reverse engineering. Because purl stitches, by their very nature, sit at the back of the fabric it can be hard to count them in a dense and busy fabric, but on the reverse side they stand out clearly as knit stitches. Always photograph the back. 

It took two test swatches to make sure gauge was bang on and yet another one to perfect the stitch pattern, but it’s smooth sailing now.

Have you ever reverse-engineered a knitting project? Drop me a line and let me know!

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Knitting A Sock Is Not Like Riding A Bicycle

If you haven’t done it in five years, it’s probably best look up some instructions. I needed a travel project so I cast on a pair of socks using this awesome German yarn by Schoppel-Wolle called Crazy Zauberball, which translates literally to “Crazy Magic Ball.” It’s two ply and each strand changes colour periodically. I know. I know. I’m over the moon.

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So over the moon in fact, that I was halfway down the cuff before I thought to myself:

“I have absolutely no idea what the next step is. At all.”

Fortunately the internet is full of basic sock tutorials (some good, some appallingly terrible. I could practically feel Kate Atherley facepalming at a few websites that do not deserve a single bit of traffic from me.) Away from home it was HGTV, of all places, that reminded me how to do a heel flap. I do love a good sturdy slipped stitch heel. Once I was back at home I had time to consult the expert herself:

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Custom Socks to Fit Your Feet by Kate Atherley

This book is GOLD. Every technique you could want, tips, patterns, math (the math is the best part for me, as usual), EVERYTHING. I may never pick up another sock book again, because I might never need to. Please don’t ask me about this book in public because I will gush to an embarrassing degree about it. It’s a book I can point to and say: I wish one day to write a resource for knitters that is as amazing as this.

You know, it also reminded me how to turn a heel properly and I’m grateful for that, too.

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There is something about the three-dimensional magic of a well executed sock heel that cannot be captured by a two-dimensional picture on my instagram, not matter which filter I use. I may be too sick to get out of bed, but darn it, I can make a sock.

See what I did there?

I’ll show myself out.

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Surprising Travel Knitting – my Regency Blouse

My latest knitting project is a new summer top: Regency Blouse from Jane Austen Knits 2014.

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Look at that photograph…I was helpless…

Honestly, I’d fallen in love with it from the minute I bought the magazine last year, and the NBK superwash merino fingering weight that I picked up recently was the perfect match for it. I wanted something with subtle colour variation, spring-like, but not too outside of my comfort zone. The yarn knit up beautifully (please ignore the wonky swatching…I’d never seen blocking pins before…) and I was smitten with the combo of pattern and yarn from the get-go.

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No photograph really does the colourway justice, but I tried.

I picked up 1400 yards, because the pattern called for 1200 and I didn’t want to be under and run out when there was no hope of getting more in the same colourway. Besides, what’s the worst that could happen? Extra yarn in this beautiful colour? Not exactly what I’d call a problem…

Despite being a top, it’s deceptively simple, and once I got past the shoulder increases it was straight stockinette stitch for several inches, making it perfect to take on the train.

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My life is a walking advertisement for VIA Rail Canada.

All it now takes it one single stitch maker to mark the beginning of each round. And wouldn’t you know it? The stitch marker is also…purple.

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“I heard you liked purple, so I put some purple with your purple so you can purple while you”…wow this meme is old…

Because I knit it so much on the train, or perhaps in front of the TV (go Blackhawks! Sorry Tampa Bay…) it’s working up surprisingly fast. When I look down at it after the credits of the movie roll and the lights come on I’ve always forgotten how much work can get done when I’m not looking at it. We’re almost past half way!

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Is that a little bit of lace I see at the bottom?! And yes, I’m definitely still rocking the handmade Sesame Street Project bag made for me by Rachel!

My goal is to have it finished by the time NBK comes to visit my LYS in Toronto so I can show them how much I love their yarn. It’s some of the nicest stuff I’ve ever worked with, so I’m hoping I can do it justice!

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April Showers Bring May Flowers

Yesterday I was taken up by a need to make a knitted flower. I had the scrap yarn (Knitpicks Palette – so many little balls of fingering weight…) and some pipe cleaners from the dollar store. So I set off on a hunt through Ravelry to find a few flower patterns and Bloem was the result.

The flower part was easy enough, and I figured out on my own that a 4 stitch icord would be too narrow for my pipe cleaner, so I switched to a six stitch one and thought myself very clever. (Red flag #1 right there.) Until I got to the end and it was time to put the pipe cleaner through the icord.

I’m going to save us a lot of time here and just say it was frustrating, ridiculous, impossible, and it ended up with tears (mine) as well as a very bend out of shape person pipe cleaner. This morning, I looked at the day and realized that my project was probably doomed on account of the date (and not my poor knitterly skills) hence the crying and the utter failure. Today is the first of May. And in May, I had the good sense to knit my icord around the pipe cleaner. wpid-img_20150501_170820.jpgMuch better. Spring may come yet…

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Look what’s fresh off the needles!

My antarktis shawl is ready for blocking!

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Modelled here in my living room by my stunning Ikea dining room chair…

It looks a little small right now, but I’m assured that this is the norm and the magic of blocking will make it large and slightly less…noodle-lookin’ (I do believe that is the technical term).

The yarn was so lovely that I improvised more of the pattern once I’d reached the last 16 border rows in order to use as much of it as possible. It ended up being a very easy pattern (I don’t know why I was so intimidated by shawls before…I became so comfortable with the rhythm of this one that I was able to knit it while simultaneously watching various Marvel movies.) Kudos to Janina Kallio for such a well designed and interesting pattern. I can’t wait to see what it looks like when it’s finally blocked and dried.

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The Coldest Capital in the World…

So, I’m taking a trip to Ottawa tomorrow to visit a friend, but the weather lately is not looking so friendly…

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Yesterday, Ottawa was officially the coldest capital city in the world.  Clearly this means one thing. Serious cold, needs seriously warm mittens.

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The first time I’ve ever made thrummed mittens…and I think it’s going fairly well. I’m sort of making up the pattern and trying it on as a go along, because most (all…) of the (free) patterns I found didn’t have a thumb gusset. My hands were not made for an afterthought thumb, so I’m creating my own as I go. 

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So far the spacing of the thrums has been going pretty well for being improvised on the go. I’m writing it down in hopes of making the second one resemble the first…

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I’m going to have to knit fast if I want to have a pair by tomorrow afternoon…but the forecast is providing PLENTY of motivation. Wish me luck!


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Happy Valentine’s Day

to meeeee. I have a beautiful ball of Biscotte & Cie Vintage in red that is starting to become a shawl…

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We are very, very snowed in – so after a short trip to get some sheep fleece for my first pair of thrummed mittens project (thank you, Rachel!) it’s nice to curl up with some tea and some soft, simple-but-not-remotely-boring knitting.

image1Stay warm, and Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!



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In which hospital lightening is inadequate

So, I’m currently in the hospital – but doing fine, not to worry. I’ve finished off the Christmas sweater for my cousin’s kiddo, but pictures and details are going to have to wait along with the rest of my post-Christmas round up.

My IV’s are gone, and my hands are functional again, so the first thing I did to cope with being here was knit knit knit. I picked up this magazine a few months ago after falling head of heels for some of the patterns in it.


I’ve a friend that enjoys all things Jane Austen and has a cold office, so I’ve started on a pair of fingerless gloves for her. It is truly impossible in this lighting (which makes everything a sickly green colour…) to capture what it looks like so far…but here it is.


I’ve never done a slipped stitch pattern before… it makes for a lovely texture. This is the “wrong” side of the gloves and eventually it will be flipped inside out, but I’ve a ways to go yet. I like the yarn – Knit Picks DK Swish in Indigo Heather. It’s quite pretty, and I like working with it so far.

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All Twisted Up

I’ve never had reason to use twisted stitches before, but the Kilbourne Hat by Cassie Castillo caught my eye, and it’s seems like a great way to learn them. The only draw back was that the hat featured in the photograph didn’t completely cover the ears. I knew that the recipient (because like everything I’m knitting, this is yet another Christmas present) would absolutely need full ear coverage – maybe even double – because this is going to have to stand up in -30 C weather.

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When interrogated about hat preference, I was told that colour wasn’t a huge issue, and that the current very-worn toque was royal blue, with a pom-pom and the brim rolled up. This sounds like potential. I could get a little creative with this hat, and a twisted stitch, negative ease hat seemed like a great way to do it.

I selected a nice steely grey, thinking the neutral colour might make up for the extra “pattern” ness of the thing. Rowan Pure Wool Superwash seems like a good solid choice and I cast on the larger size, ignoring the instructions to check gauge and to use a smaller sized needle for the ribbing portion. 3.75 mm needle? I don’t have any on hand. I’ll just knit the twisted rib very tight. It will all be fine.

Uh, probably.

So I modified it to have 22 rows of the twisted ribbing instead of the prescribed 7. Guaranteed ear coverage. However… might be a liiiiitttttlle big.


Pictured above: far too much ribbing. I may be knitting for a slightly larger head than my own, but this will definitely more than cover it. It’s not so big that it wouldn’t be fine with the brim folded over but I do fear running out of yarn…

Let’s just, um, ignore that for now…shall we? Though I did take careful note of the dye lot..

Moving on from the rather large brim… I am really enjoying the twisted cable pattern. It took me a few tries to get the hang of twisted stitches. Even though the pattern gives great instructions, I’m impatient (and wasn’t sure I was doing it correctly), so I turned to the videos by Knit Purl Hunter on Youtube which beautifully explain how to do a left and a right twist.

After one row, I was completely comfortable with the twisted stitches and they no longer slow my knitting down (much). They’re like playing a wonderful magic trick on myself…I know what’s happening, but it happens so fast I can’t see it. The pattern itself is very intuitive and interesting without being too difficult. My go to travel-knitting right now.


Now, I just need to avoid running out of yarn…

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Exponential Vest Growth

I had a couple of headache filled days this week. The kind when my head hurts so much that I don’t remember things and everything is a blurry mess. My family/boyfriend have been taking care of me on such days, and when asked about what I done the day before my Dad said this:

“Well, you sat on that couch and knit.”

Okay, anything else?

“I convinced you to eat a bagel at one point.”


Which explains how in one hazy day-and-a-half my vest went from this:


To this:


Without my noticing.

Fun fact: I can do a three needle bind off in a state of semi-consciousness. I have (apparently) picked up all the stitches up the front, and have started on the ribbing for the shawl collar.


I haven’t decided yet on how the vest should close, and if it’s going to be a button that button hole needs to be accounted for soon. I don’t think a button is the best idea with Gram’s arthritis. Some sort of toggle closure might be better. I think I’ll finish the ribbing, bind off, and then ask her before really deciding how to fasten it. Toggle closure(s) could easily be added after the fact, and once she’s tried it on, the best placement for them can be determined. Or it could simply be worn open, as I have a feeling she’s going to do most often anyways…

There is only one snag in my plan…it appears I am actually very allergic to this yarn. What started off as itchy hands, migrated to full blow itchy, sneezing, throat scratchy allergic. It must be the mohair, which is strange because I’ve used Gram’s mohair blankets for years without issue. But, as my mother pointed out, those blankets are about 70 years old plus, so maybe it’s not the same. I’m in too far to quit now, but I’m going to knit something ELSE for a little while…

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