Pretty in Pink

My lace cardigan…it’s done, it’s blocked, it’s been modelled and photographed. Proper FO post to come when the pattern is launched, but for now just a sneak peek of it on the blocking board…

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The weather is finally turned nice and spring like, so there has been an explosion of pink in Toronto – mostly thanks to the cherry blossoms.

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My walks around the city now include a pretty excellent impromptu flower show, so while I wait for the official release of the pattern (hint: it may or may not be May 25th) to show you the cardigan in all it’s pink glory, have a picture of the bleeding hearts growing near Casa Loma:

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When I start to see flowers like these, I’m sure the snow is gone for good. While I enjoy a good cold winter, there is something absolutely glorious about the spring that comes after.

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Rip rip “fix” rip again

Sometimes you think a mistake doesn’t bother you…until eight rows later when it really really starts to bother you. That was the case in my current lace cardigan which I’m testing. There was a YO several rows back that just wasn’t right and seems to be stretching out larger and larger by the row.

Having already gone through and bound off the sleeves, ripping the whole thing back wasn’t really what I wanted to do if I could avoid it. It was very visible (to me) right on the front panel. It’s such a nice lace pattern all the way down and this eye sore was going to bother me for eternity. Time to fix it.

I thought I could be clever. I’d just drop down to the mistake, reknit it properly and knit back up to where I was. What I failed to consider was that the lace in this pattern is on both sides. WS rows are knit in a lace pattern just as RS rows are, and YO’s end up knit/purled and then knit/purled together on the flip side.

What I’m trying to say, is that dropping down to the mistake and trying to figure out how to fix it was only making it worse…and worse…and worse…

So, in the interest of my sanity, I eventually I ripped out the entire row to the edge of the front for six rows.

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You end up with little loops of yarn that correspond to the RS and the WS as you go back and forth. Using these, a spare cable needle, and a considerable dose of patience, I tried to knit it back up. I failed the first time because apparently I had not ripped back far enough and apparently the mistake started SEVEN rows back, not six.

Rip rip rip.

After that it was fairly straight forward to work it back up into something that I was finally happy with, and perhaps it was good that I messed it up once because it was good practice at working with the little loops to turn them back into row of (somewhat even looking…) knitting.

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Now I’m back on track, carrying on to the body portion and I have one change in mind as I keep working the pattern…lifelines. A lifeline would have made all the difference.

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The First Rule of Cotton

Okay. I confess. I’m not a big cotton knitter. Usually in the summer my knitting lapses because wool is too warm to knit when it’s 25 C and I could be swimming…

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But this year I’ve become enamoured with spring/summery patterns and they cannot be knit with my classic 100% worsted weight Cascade Eco Wool (even if I have several pounds of it in my stash…). So I dived into test knitting and with that came a delightful summer cardigan and an introduction to Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece.

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Looks pretty innocent, doesn’t it?

Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece is an 80/20 cotton/wool blend and what I chose to use for my Lace Cardigan test knit. It’s nice, but I am not used to how little give cotton has. I also favour my very sharp Hiya Hiya needles above all else, which tends to split the stitches if you’re not very very careful.

First rule of cotton? Do NOT split the stitch. It will never be the same again. You can take it off and put it back on the needles properly, but it is always a little bit wonky and it drives me up the wall. If I simply used a blunter wooden needle it would probably be fine, but I am stubborn and I like my sharp pointy metal ones. So my only solution is simply: just don’t ever split the stitch.

It means I knit even slower, and the cotton is slowing me down as well because it doesn’t slide quite so easily (and apparently I’ve adapted my knitting style for yarn that slides a lot…) but I’m really enjoying the pattern, so that’s all right. Slow, for once in my life, is fine. It makes for nice, peaceful, park bench knitting…

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Slow and steady, doesn’t mess up the lace. That’s how the rhyme goes, doesn’t it?

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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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Testing 1, 2, 3…

I’ve had a few personal designs simmering on the back-burner for a little while (and a desperate desire to re-issue my existing snowfall mittens pattern after giving it a good going-over, because it was written before I spent five years in engineering learning how to do proper technical writing…) With that in mind, I decided to look into test knitting and all it entailed. It took about two hours for me to find and fall IN LOVE with a pattern that I figure I can actually do well, and am really keen on making. So, a few things have been set aside in favour of experimenting with a new cropped cardigan. (What? It’s spring. A little startistis is part of the season. At least this has a deadline.)

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Photo courtesy of Mary Kate Long, who has been kind enough to let me test her pattern.

Unfortunately my stash was entirely composed of wool and alpaca (please pay no heed to the acrylic shoved in the back of the closet…) They don’t make for really great “summer-y” knits, especially at worsted weight. Looked like a trip to yarn store was in order. Ah, shucks. 😉

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Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece in Tea Rose. Can you tell I’m excited to get going?!

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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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FO: Jane Barathea Mitts

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted about these fingerless gloves! They spent a while waiting for me to get out of the hospital, then the blocking/drying/mailing process took considerable time, too (for no particular reason), but they’ve finally arrived at their intended destination!

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The pattern is Jane’s Barathea Mitts by Angela Hahn from the Interweave Jane Austen Knits 2014. I really love the texture on these guys. The slip-stitch pattern makes them a little denser than usual and they’re actually worked wrong-side-out, and then reversed when you reach the lace portion. Meaning you spend most of the pattern with them looking like this:

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Until, in a moment of magical knitting trickery, they get flipped inside-out! (Photo taken pre-blocking. Note: block these like your life depends on it.)

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I really love the pebbled effect on the cuff from the slipped stitch pattern. The texture is supposed to be reminiscent of barathea fabric, which is a woven fabric with a twill weave.

The yarn is Knit Picks DK Superwash in Indigo Heather, which was lovely to work with and there is more red and blue hints in the yarn than the above pictures might suggest. The best representation of the colour variation is probably shown in this picture I took on Instagram:

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I added an additional 20 or so rounds before starting the lace portion for extra length because it looked like they were going to come out too short. Seems to have been the right call! Each glove was just under 50 g even with the extra pattern repeats. They are by far my favourite fingerless gloves that I’ve ever knit, (Nicole, they’re the only fingerless gloves you’ve ever– shhhhhhhh) and I would definitely recommend the pattern to anyone looking for a little Regency era style that’s still wearable today.

Or for any Austen fans with cold hands. 🙂

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Tale of a Toddler Sweater

My parents are a great number of wonderful things. They’re kind, caring, and funny people (at least, they seem to think they’re funny…) They make excellent food, wine and company. They both have great ideas, debates, and life perspectives.

But darn it, if they don’t make dreadful delivery people. (Hi, Mom! *waves*)

I went to visit my parents recently, only to discover that the (somewhat late Christmas) sweater for Jack, the very same sweater we’d sewn buttons on over a month was still sitting in the back seat of the van. Waiting. Patiently, in it’s little plastic bag. That kid is not getting any smaller, so I decided to take it with me, and mail it to them directly.

The pattern is a slight modification of Go Buffalo! by Terri Kruse. It’s my first “baby” sweater – though at 4T it’s seemed enormous. Of course anything would seem enormous if you elected to knit it in three coloured stripe. (WHY? I thought it would be cute. I was not wrong, but it was almost not worth it…) I was also in the hospital and had a semi-busted wrist at the time…

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Picking up the button band…slowly…

It was finished while I was still in the ICU of the hospital early this year and my memory from that time is kind of fuzzy. I kind of expected it to have some ridiculous flaw I hadn’t noticed…but it’s actually turned out okay:

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Once finished, I take back everything I ever said about hating the three colour stripe decision. It looks like a little Christmas elf sweater, and that was absolutely the goal. (I maintain every cuss word I ever uttered about decided to do it in acrylic yarn however. That stands.)

Now that I’m in possession of the sweater it’s being shipped off to Jack, who will hopefully not have grown out of it yet. Stay tuned…

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Gram and Her Vest

I’ve posted previously about my Dawyck Purple Vest but consider this an update on how Gram feels about it. My grandmother has become more…blunt in her old age and I don’t think she would mind me saying so. If she didn’t like it, I was probably going to hear about it. Fortunately she loves it.

She just won’t pose for photographs.

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“Can’t you see I’m drinking, dear?”

She likes her purple, my Gram. I’m told she wears it over white tops as well and all the ladies at her retirement facility fawn over it. Basically a dream come true for the little knitter in me.

I did manage a sneaky shot from the back.

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And I did finally get her to stop eating cheese and smile for me.

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But really – supper is far more important than knitting photos. 🙂

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A toast to my Gram – who has proven herself to be very very knit-worthy indeed!

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Post Christmas Round Up: Burberry Inspired Cowl

After my own Burberry Inspired Cowl, my mother not so subtly suggested that she would like one for Christmas. I stuck with the same yarn – Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Bulky, but a different colourway – one because I thought the blue would suit her better, and two: so we don’t get ours mixed up!

This cowl is a marvel to me, because half way through I just DON’T GET IT. It looks like a lumpy, bunched up bit of nothing. After two pattern repeats, it reminds me of a scrunched napkin and the first time I made one, I almost gave up on it at this point.

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Look at that. What on earth is THAT supposed to be?!

Luckily I knit on and after four pattern repeats and a little blocking, it’s clear that this pattern is actually gorgeous. It sits so nicely, either down around the neck or bunched up to cover noses and ears depending on the weather.

Finished well in time for Christmas, gifted, and she loves it (she better, she practically gave me the specifications…)

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The photos above really doesn’t do the yarn justice. This would be more accurate:

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I think it’s the perfect colour for Mum, because it goes so nicely with her eyes. It’s already gotten a LOT of wear this winter – and now we sort of match!

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I feel like that image needs a #AwkwardMotherDaughterSelfies….clearly we need to up our game…

Final Specs:

PatternBurberry Inspired Cowl Neck Scarf by Julianne Smith

YarnKnit Picks Wool of the Andes Superwash Bulky, in Delft Heather. ~ 70 yards.

Needles: 6 mm circulars, knit flat.

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