What is it exactly…?

I’ve been looking for easy patterns that I can make fairly quickly and that won’t be ruined (or overwhelmingly frustrating) by my hand tremors or the odd bit of involuntary arm jerking. The solution seems to be (a) large needles, (b) bulky yarn and (c) very simple patterns, because if I drop stitches sometimes they might be gone forever. I found one that bowled me over with it’s simplicity. One of those: that is so simple it’s brilliant moments. I had friends guess what it was as I was making as I went, much to my amusement.

A scarf? A bib?

It grew bigger…

…and the guesses became outlandish. A ski mask? Ear muffs? A shawl?

And then all of a sudden it was finished. Ta-DA!

It is a rectangle.

Garter stitch. I-cord edging. 16 inches in length. Kind of wonky lookin’ At this point still nobody could figure out what it was. Also where I changed balls of yarn is rather noticeable…

Okay, what if I fold it in half?

So it’s like some kind of headband or something…

And starting sewing it up…

Pictured above: “Sewing”


Sewn. Okay so it’s the lamest headband in existence. Congradulations…wait…wait a second.

Now the actual fun part: PULL!

“Cinching” according to the pattern, or as I like to call it: “bad sewing be gone”

Then you wrap the yarn around.

I actually needed extra yarn for this. And bonus – no weaving in ends!

Now it’s a headband. And a kind of cute one at that.

Modelled by Pia – thanks Pia!

Apparently it can also be worn as a collar, but I like it much better as a headband.

Yarn: 100% wool, Patons worsted weight, about 100 yards…give or take.

Pattern: It’s a Cinch Headwrap and Collar by Elisa McLaughlin, available on Ravelry.

I only modified the pattern by adding the i-cord edging, which adds three extra stitches on each side. To do this: slip the first stitch of every round and then on every odd round purl the last three stitches. Easy as pumpkin pie.

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Accidental Hat Design

I pulled some unfinished projects out of my knitting basket, thinking I could either rip back the yarn and make something new or maybe finish up something old. I came across a half knit cabled hat – two strands of worsted weight held double. I couldn’t find any record of it in my Ravelry…odd…

Turns out, after much sleuthing, I seem to have invented it. It’s simple enough, cast on 80 stitches, 2×2 ribbing, a few cables that I know I’m familiar with (I finally placed them. They’re the same two from the nakiska headband from knitty that I’d knit years previous).

Happily, I added to the cables and because it’s so bulky it knits up very quickly. Then I was faced with the conundrum of decreasing in a way that made sense…which in turn lead to some rather accidental late-night pattern design….

When I turn to pen and paper to work something out, that’s when you know it’s serious business.

Eventually I figured out a way to decrease so it looks like all the cables converge in nicely on each other.

This blurry photo, brought to you by my mother who has not yet mastered the phone camera…but you get the idea.

Post blocking, it’s looking a LOT better and is toasty warm. It’s been affectionately nicknamed “Cassie’s Cap” seeing as she will be the eventual recipient. It’s getting cold on the East Coast and this is just the thing to keep her ears covered as she darts between classes. Plus she’s always looked much more becoming in pink than I. 😉

Cassie’s Cap, with the brim rolled up. I always forget how much more stitch definition (and stretch!) wool gets after a little cold water.

The pattern is already written up, and should be posted as soon as I get some more professional looking pictures to go along with it.

I wonder what else is lying around my knitting basket….


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Burberry Inspired Cowl in Mineral Heather

Oh hello, blog I have neglected for four years (whose password I’d long forgotten…).

University kind of took it’s toll on my knitting time/life in general. But now I’m graduated and I’m back! And what better way to be back that with a brand new finished project. My Burberry Inspired Cowl in Mineral Heather:


YarnKnit Picks Wool of the Andes Superwash Bulky, in Mineral Heather. Approximately 1.2 skeins, so now I have a fair bit left over. The yarn was much more blue/purple than the grey I expected, but I liked it all the same. Very soft and the finished product has a nice feel to it.


PatternBurberry Inspired Cowl Neck Scarf by Julianne Smith. Brilliant pattern. I skipped the kitchener stitch at the end and substituted for a three needle bind off, because I didn’t mind the seam. Took me about two weeks, but I have hand tremors and spontaneous myoclonic jerking in my shoulders, which necessitated a lot of slow knitting, and a lot of re-knitting. For an experienced knitter, I think it could be done in a day or two.


While I was knitting it, I totally didn’t see the potential of the finished project. An eight stitch cable ever 14 rows? It just looked like a mess! And then when it was seamed together it dawned on me that it’s actually gorgeous.



And just in time, because it’s dropped below freezing here and scarves/cowls are certainly needed. I’m already getting lots of use out of it. It even covers my nose! (And remarkably, doesn’t fall down…)


All the benefits of a cozy scarf, none of the self strangulation. It’s especially good because when I take it off and tuck it beside me, it doesn’t have the potential to get caught in the wheels of my wheelchair. It’s warm, squishy and a pretty easy knit. I highly recommend.

And before I forget: Happy (Canadian) Thanksgiving!

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Tale of a Scarf

So a few months ago I stumbled across Laura Chau’s Dipped Infinity Scarf and was immediately totally smitten. It jumped to the top of my Ravelry queue and I started poking around Knitpicks for possible colour combination’s in my lunch break (and when I should have been writing code for my programing class. I know, I’m devestatingly cool.)

I picked their fingering weight Palette yarn and asked my engineering buddies to help me choose the colours that would blend nicely together. With some many colour options the choice was pretty daunting. After much convincing Nicole C. finally gave up on insisting that it should be pink. I concede that it would be gorgeous in pink and I would never ever ever ever ever ever wear it.

At 1.99 a ball I was able to buy the 8 different colours called for and not break my itsy-bits yarn budget. In order they were: Asphalt Heather, Eggplant, Blue Note Heather, Whirlpool, Tidepool Heather, Celadon Heather, Custard and White.

4 1/2 colours in and it looks like this:

Just over 1/2 way finished!

I still love it. The pattern is simple enough that I don’t even have to look at my hands anymore but the colour changes keep it very exciting. The pattern is worked holding two different coloured strands of fingering weight yarn so each colour overlaps with it’s neighbours to create the ombre effect.

I love the diagonal scallop stitch/ stockinette stitch pattern with the yarn held double.

A close-up of the stitch pattern.

I’m on the greens now which means that I’m over half way finished! It’s going much more quickly now that exams are finished. In no time I’ll have a nice thick wool scarf, just in time for sunny 25 degree C weather… oh well 🙂

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FO: The Auction Hat!

Thanks to Nicole C. for modeling

This hat has been a long time in the making. It started back in the summer at the campership auction when I auctioned off 1 pair of hand knit arm warmers. For those of you unfamiliar with a campership auction the staff put up various items and services up for auction and the staff bid on them. All of the money raised goes to the campership fund that helps send kids to camp. This year it went for $56 and because it sold for so much I decided that Jess (the winner of said lot) could pick whatever knitting item she wanted. A hat is was to be!

I started knitting selbu modern on circular needles with a funny blue acrylic and some white sock yarn held double. I only had one ball of the white sock yarn so I worked the outside and in the inside string at the same time. You see where this is going.

It was TERRIBLE. I hated it. But I had to make it so I kept at it long after I should have quit. The pattern itself is fantastic and with the right yarn and needles I hope to make it one day. Might be a little while- it’s going to take some time for me to be able to look at the chart without feeling the need to curse and/or throw something.

Eventually I had the sense to rip it out and start again fresh. I picked another one of Kate Gagnon Osborn’s patterns- Opus Spicatum. I found 100% wool in white and light blue and started again.

You may have noticed that my finished object is a hat and not the beret in Kate’s pattern. I decided against going up a needle sizes after the ribbing thinking that I would just knit at a little bit looser gauge. I overlooked the fact that “looser gauge” and “starting fair isle” really don’t belong in the same sentence for me and it resulted in a hat. I like it anyways so I left it.

It’s off to it’s intended recipient- several months late mind- but at least done properly with my sanity still intact.

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A stash enhancement of the very best kind

Near the end of the holidays my mum mentioned Grams old knitting box to me. My grandmother hasn’t knit for many years and assured me that she was not about to take it up again. She couldn’t remember what might be in her knitting stash other that “yarn and needles, probably.” but I was welcome to it. So up to the attic I went to discover this:

Norah's Knitting '97 This box has been packed away for more than 12 years

That is everything that was left of my grandmothers knitting when she moved out of her house in ’97 and into her apartment. It hasn’t been opened since.

First peek inside

The first thing on the top was a canvas knitting bag with “I <3 to knit” on it. I can’t imagine Gram carrying this around but it looks  pretty used. It’s wearing through on the bottom, especially where the needle pockets were.

The "I love to knit bag"

Moving right along there was what appeared to be an unfinished adult sweater in green. Based on the unused yarn around it, the yarn is Patons Beehive Shetland Chunky in a forest green colour.

The sweater- if you look closely you can see the cables down the center.

At this point I decided my attic was too dusty to be unpacking knitting not to mention complete lack of light for pictures so I hauled it all down to my bedroom to get a better look. Next out came a bunch of needles…

There were remarkably few mismatched pairs of straights, just one extra 4mm and one 3.5mm.

The scissors had a intricate flower pattern on the handle and appear (to my most untrained eye) to be silver. Mum took them and is trying to trace where (or who) they came from.

Next, and most interesting for me were the patterns and pattern books. Most of them were in pretty good shape dating from the 60’s to the early 80’s This makes sense as my mother and her siblings were born in the 60’s and Gram likely knit for them when they were kids. It would explain the baby/children patterns:

Baby Patterns!

There also were some “how to knit/crochet” books and a fantastic stitch dictionary:

Crochet Stitches, Knitting Techniques, Knitting Stitches and a How to Knit book from Patons
There were many other patterns and pattern booklets as well. From mittens, hats and gloves to sweaters, baby caps and knitted toys. The only type of pattern I couldn’t find was sock patterns. Interesting. I’ll have to ask Gram about that.
All the patterns and books.
There was also an almost completely knit kids sweater!
The only thing left to do is graft together the second sleeve and possibly knit up a collar.

I wondered why it was not finished… until I turned it over.


That explains it. Fifty odd ends to weave in? No thanks! Maybe one day I will work up some insanity ambition and finish it.

And last but certainly not least there was yarn.

81.75 balls (50g/ball) of yarn. That's approximately 6090.375 meters of yarn!

Most of it is acrylic which I usually dislike but it’s not terrible, particularly for from acrylic 20+ years ago. I’m going to test some of it out as blanket squares and see if I can comfortably work with it. If all that fails there are a lot of people at my old high schools knitting club that would love it.

Well I’ve given the contents of the box a more pleasant home in my closet. It didn’t belong in a dusty box in the attic. I think it’s really really neat that I will knit things with the same needles and the same patterns that belonged to my Gram. Thanks Gram!

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Skittle Socks

Ladies and gentlemen I have finished my skittle socks. See?

The Skittle Socks

Yarn: Kroy Sock Yarn, dyed by Cassie and I with Kool Aid and food colouring. In the colour of classic skittles of course: grape, strawberry, watermelon, orange, lemon, kiwi-lime and blue raspberry.

Pattern: Grumperina’s Jaywalker pattern which I modified to be toe up instead of cuff down. Not very eloquently  either I just threw in my own toe, heel and cuff.

These socks were over 2 years in the making. In my defense. somewhere between the acquiring the white sock yarn and these finished rainbow-y goodness I was distracted. I put the socks down and knit other things, a sweater, some mittens, an entire dress. The first one was exciting and between the zigzag-iness and the colour changes I will admit, I was quite amused. And then it was finished and I was most delighted. I took a picture of it and gleefully showed it to all my friends.

The lone sock

And then I stopped.

I always told myself that I was just taking a little break, that I would finish them up right away just one more project….just one more…

From then on the new sock was cast on but not worked on. Only when complete frustration at other projects had set in did I go back and knit a few more rounds. It was boring I thought, just the same two rows over and over. And besides, I reasoned, I already know what it should look like. And so the sock was abandoned. It was always there waiting. Waiting for me to decided that lace was too complicated to knit in front of the TV or that my thumb gusset shaping on the latest mitten was too aggravating. Very slowly the second sock grew until I came to the heel and realized that the orange was going to come mid-heel turning and not after like it’s mate.


Rip rip rip.

It took 5 tries before I got the colours to work out. I have no one to blame but myself seeing as I dyed the yarn and I was so very imprecise with the measuring. From there I continued knitting it much as it had before. Intermittently and at a painfully slow pace.

But soon the new year came and I had just a few dozen rounds left. There was no reason not to finish them now and so I finally completely overcame my massive case of second sock syndrome. Or at least massive second sock resentment.

Now that they are finished I see why I cast them on in the first place. Those are the brightest, happiest, spring-i-est socks I could make. I love ’em. I get a kick out of them every time I see them now.  Which is weird because for so long I always was a process knitter and this project brought out the product knitter. Perhaps a little balance is a good thing. The point is they delight me and when the temperature is stubbornly below freezing this time of year, bright wool rainbow socks are pretty much pure happiness.

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Happy New Year!

Happy 2010 everyone!

My new year started off with a pleasant surprise, Anne featured me and my mitten pattern in Wool-Tyme’s January newsletter. It’s a really nice piece and it features Rachel (Swatchless.com) and her Olympic mittens to! Link to that newsletter can be found here. If you are new to my blog because of that newsletter (I know many of you are, my blog hits went nuts today) I say welcome!

Did you make any new year’s resolutions? I don’t tend to make resolutions on new year’s but I do like to make plans. Plans and lists are dear friends of mine so here is my list o’ knittin’ plans for 2010.

Nicole’s List o’ Knittin’ Plans for 2010

Finish up the Skittle Socks (This should be easy- I just have to cast the 2nd one off!!!)

Re-knit the hat my friend won in the Staff auction last summer. The first one was dreadful to knit- circular needles, fair isle using a terrible blue acrylic and white sock yarn held double, wait for it, one strand from the center and one from the outside. It was Tangle Central. I hate it. So I will stop fighting with it and whip up a better one.

Finish up my Ice Queen Cowl (sensing a trend here anyone?) it’s only good 4 rounds to go! Then the it will get the decent photo shoot it deserves.

Ice Queen

Knit red Olympic Mitts! Preferably before the Games begin. I’m going to use Rachel Bearse’s Olympic Red Mittens seen below.

Red Olympic Mittens! Photo by Rachel Bearse from Swatchless.com

Proceeds of the pattern sales go to Penguins Can Fly to which makes it even more awesome.

Speaking of the Olympics- I’m going to participate in the Ravelympics this year. According to the site the goal is “2 weeks of focused, intense personal & team challenges to tackle while watching the actual Olympics unfold before our eyes.” I like knitting, the Olympics and intense personal challenges… sounds like fun to me! I’m not sure what my project will be quite yet- I have just over a month to figure it out.

Publish more patterns, particularly my super secret sock pattern. More on that later.

I learned to spin on a drop spindle yesterday. I don’t where this is going but oh boy am I excited about it. More spinning is defiantly in order. (That spelling mistake is here to stay. It is too funny.)

Finally I’d like to update this blog more frequently. I’m aiming for once a week but we’ll see how it goes when school starts up.

That’s all for now- Happy New Year everyone!

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Snowfall Mittens Pattern

I have written up my Snowfall Mitten pattern! It’s my first published pattern and I could not be more excited. 🙂 The pattern as a pdf can be download from my patterns page or from Ravelry here.

Snowfall Mittens

Mittens are my favourite thing to knit in the fall because they seem like the perfect way to prepare for the winter. Thereʼs nothing like having warm mittens to slip your hands in when the snow begins to fly. These mittens were inspired by that first winter snow. The braid on the cuff helps the cuff to lie flat and the two colour fair isle pattern makes them thicker than a single colour mitten.

Quick Specs:

Yarn: 2 contrasting colours of Lambs Pride Super Wash (Worsted), about 50g per colour

Needles: 4mm dpns or whatever gets you the gauge.

Other Materials: waste yarn or a stitch holder

Skills Required: Casting on, knitting in the round, increasing, decreasing, and two colour stranded knitting*

*This project is straight forward enough that it is appropriate for knitters new to working with two colours simultaneously.

These mittens were partially inspired by a pair I knit last year for Cassie, creatively titled “Cassie’s Mittens II”

Cassie's Mittens II

The picture is a bit sketchy but you get the idea. I’m contemplating writing up this pattern as well if there’s any interest. It also may depend on if I can dig up the charts I made and figure out the specifics. Hope you enjoy the pattern and if there are any questions or need of clarification please let me know. I’m new to this whole “design” thing so if  you have any constructive criticisms for my pattern writing I would love to hear it. Happy Knitting!

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Santa Claus Parade with the Bnad!

Last Sunday was the 2009 Toronto Santa Claus Parade. This post comes a little late as a result of some sickness but now I have more photos of my adventure to compensate! For those of you that don’t know the Lady Godiva Memorial Bnad (LGMB) is a student run group that promotes Skule (U of T engineering school) spirit. It has a open member policy which means every U of T engineer can (and is) a member. No talent is required (nor greatly encouraged either.) The LGMB was invited to play in the Parade this year so we gathered Sunday morning in the basement of SF to …. “practice” This was made necessary because mostly the band plays/sings engineering songs which are rarely child appropriate. We needed to learn some new holiday material.

First however we needed coffee!

Nicole C. with her morning muffin and coffee.

In the basement of SF we donned our jerseys and practiced our holiday tunes.

"Hey! This year the band can actually play music...?"

After our rehearsal we took the subway (politely) by storm and headed down to the intersection of Bloor St. W and Christie St.

Receiving our instructions from a parade coordinator. "It says I need to talk to Kevin or anyone sober."

While we were waiting to be put in line the band amused themselves. Nicole and I practiced our flag waving…

Nicole^2 with their flags.

The band also took some time to practice…

And also to play!

We played the "everyone dive toward the middle at once and it will spin faster" game.

And we got to be on TV:

Our leedur Kevin explaining the bnad to reporters.

Also we took many many group photos:

The whole group together.

All this before the Parade even started. Next we were placed into a big line with all the other marching bands. We stuck out a little….

See the difference?

After all our waiting we were finally off on our way!

Proudly leading the way.

We marched down Bloor to Avenue and then through Queens Park blasting our version of Jingle Bells, Good King Wenceslas and Jolly Old St. Nick. We also threw in some Sesame Street and a song about a rubber ducky which the crowds seemed to like. We walked down University to Dundas and then east to Yonge St. All the while playing, singing, dancing, hopping and generally being ridiculous.

We gave out stickers to kids as we went:

And there were some adorable moments…

Just too cute.

It was a blast and so cool to see the smiles on faces of the kids- and the parents! I went home completely exhausted but it was so very very worth it. Thank you LGMB!!

Bnad go home.
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