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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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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What Do You Want To Be?

I was stash diving about little while ago (it’s a small stash, relatively speaking, there isn’t much to go through…) and I came across a yarn I didn’t recognize.

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Apparently Ravelry didn’t recognize it either, because it wasn’t in their yarn database. I have no recollection of buying it and there is only one hank, so I suppose it must have been a gift. There was a tag (with the price obviously torn off…).

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The company is based out in PEI and, from what I can tell, doesn’t produce massive quantities of yarn. It’s certainly wool, two-ply, very bulky and far too scratchy to wear next to the skin. And for the last few weeks it’s been practically jumping out of my stash saying “knit me!”

So, my little friend, tell me: what do you want to be?

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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.

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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.

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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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“Merry Christmas, Knitter Girl”

Turns out I’m on the nice list… Santa left me a notions box, proper tapestry needles, stitch markers (no more fraying slip knots marking my work!) and a beautiful Socks that Rock skein, in “Supercolourfragilistic” as well as a bonus pattern from Lettuce Knit.

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Happy Christmas, everyone!

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You can take the knitting away from the knitter…

…but you can’t take the knitter away from her obsession.

So, several weeks ago, I hit (what my Reverend so graciously referred to as) “a bit of a set-back” with my mental health that required me to be, well, hospitalized. A fact I’ve been very open about with my friends and family, and something I don’t feel the need to keep hidden from anyone who is taking the time to read my blog. (Including potential future employers. Are you out there? I sincerely hope so. I do not plan on being sick for the rest of my life.)

It’s no secret that I’ve been suffering from depression for a little while, and when it became rather severe at the end of November I decided to seek help. The staff at the hospital were wonderful, and I was able to be in a safe place while they sorted out my medications (vastly improved) and learn better coping strategies, (all the rhetoric my mother has been spewing for years about the benefits of mindfulness and meditation? Turns out it is shockingly helpful. She has kindly kept her “I told you so’s” to a minimum…) But one very big draw back to living in a psychiatric hospital is …. no knitting. No yarn, no needles, for obvious safety reasons.

What’s a knitter to do?

I did have a notebook full of graph paper at my disposal, and a vast variety of very dull pencil crayons. So, instead of knitting I wrote patterns instead. Let me tell you this – trying to design patterns without the use of anything to measure gauge is a real shot in the dark. I have pages of designs – some complete and some just little doodles of an idea – and all of them might be rubbish.

It started in a fairly straight forward fashion – I wanted a hat to match my previously published pattern Snowfall Mittens.

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Following that, I had a picture of a pair of mittens on my Ravelry page that I had made over five years ago for a friend.

3180662484_992aa681af_zThe design was my own improvisation, but the pattern notes are long gone, so from the picture I recreated the charts:

IMG_20141219_161511With any luck – and a little test knitting – perhaps I’ll be able to publish this pattern, too.

From there I started improvising with flowers and roses…

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Some days it was too difficult to draw anything. On those days all I could do was lie in bed, cry, and attempt some semblance of prayer that God would help me. Eventually that idea channeled itself into a mitten design of an angel praying, based on a crochet pattern I’d found via Pintrest. Copying out the praying angel was almost like the act of praying itself, and it refocused my mind onto something other than how miserable I was.

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When I was feeling a little bit more hopeful I started looking forward in my life, which in an of itself was a big milestone and indication of improvement. I thought about New Years, about Valentines Day and began messing with ideas for Valentines Day themed mittens.

V-Day collage 2The best pattern however was based on a request from Cassie. Peter Pan-themed mittens were not something I’d ever heard of, and they proved to be by far the most challenging thing I tried to design during my stay. There are countless iterations of children flying, and Peter Pan’s profile that were absolute rubbish…and after many hours of “wasted” time, I finally come up with these:

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Do you recognize Peter and Wendy? The decreases along the top feature an acorn (for Peter) and a thimble (for Wendy)

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And of course for the palm design I wanted the second star to the right…

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This pattern is actually almost entirely written, and Cassie was delighted with the design so (unlike a lot of things I doodled) these might actually get made.

I’m at home now, feeling much better, and finally back in possession of my yarn and my needles. It doesn’t seem possible that there are so few days left until Christmas…fortunately for me, my Christmas knitting was mostly finished before life went to hell in a hand basket. I just have two baby sweaters to work on, so they are currently what’s occupying my needles. It seems I’ve under-estimated the size of a two year old, so my hands are happily (and rather quickly) working away at a Christmas sweater for him…

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FO: Gram’s Dawyck Purple Vest

I finally finished knitting up Gram’s vest, and let me tell you…this thing is HUGE.

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So huge, I could barely get it all in one shot. I’m a big fan of the shawl collar – the end product, not the knitting 30 rows of 4×4 rib with yarn that was giving me an allergy attack. This vest was truly a labour of love by the end, seeing as every time I picked it up it felt like it was trying to kill me. No more mohair, not even 10% ever again, let alone in gigantic vest form.

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I’m really impressed with how the yarn never pooled or striped awkwardly. I thought I might have to work from two balls to avoid too much dark or light in one area but it did really well. I don’t think I’d recommend the yarn to anyone for anything (speaking of which, would anyone like two left over skeins of Patons Misty in Purple Fog…?? Anyone?), but for this project it was pretty stellar.

The pictures make it seem more blue than it really is – there’s more purple to it, but we’ve had nothing except fog and cloud cover here for days, so this is all the light I really have to work with in my apartment. More pictures to come after Christmas when she receives it. In the mean-*achoo*-time, I’m going to go spend some time with some nice 100% merino wool.

Final Specs: 

Yarn: Patons North America Misty, in Purple Fog.  715 yards. 

Pattern: Sequoia by Alegria DaSilva

Needles: 6 mm circulars with 32″ and 60″ cable, worked flat.

Skills Required: 3 needle-bind-off, picking up stitches, cables. Low difficulty and a very well written pattern.

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