Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Dresden Beret

The Dresden Beret, from Tara-Lynn of Good Night, Day is destined to be my favorite winter hat.  I have a lot of hats, so that's saying something.

I loved working up a no-frills, clean beret.  It's a type of hat I have never knit before.  I can see making one or two of these as gifts because they don't require the same amount of fabric that slouchy beanies of years past have.  This is a one evening knit, and that's very satisfying.

I actually scored a skein of Junkyarn for this.  I think the only reason I got it was because it is dk.  These days, shopping for sock yarn from indie dyers is like shopping the yearly Victoria's Secret clearance sale.  When I walk past that store and see all of those little pink bins on tables, I steer clear.  It's crowded, hands are grabbing and rifling through $5 bins, women muscling each other out of the way, underwear flying about.  I don't go for that kind of thing, so I was shocked to find this still in stock well after the update.

This skein of Diana had very few hints of the turquoise that most skeins seemed to have plenty of.   I was disappointed at first, but it worked out since I was aiming for simplicity.  It is more versatile this way.

Details:  I used needle sizes US 3 and 7 for this hat, with Junkyarn dk yarn in Diana.  I have very real issues with ribbing, so I go down a lot on needle size for that portion.  The bulk of the hat was knit on the 7s.  I also knit maybe a half an inch more than the pattern suggested before starting my decreases because I wanted a lots of "flop" to my hat.

It's beautiful.   My family members even looked up from their device voids to compliment it.  Now, please lets have that super cold winter that everyone talks about but never actually happens.

Monday, June 20, 2016


You know how I said I've been learning things as I knit socks?  Well, I've discovered something that has brought me to my knees- 9 inch circulars.  It's not a happy tale.

But, first, I'll tell you about the pretty yarn I'm using.  I don't know if I've posted any of the new yarn line I have been hoarding.  When Regina mentioned she'd be dying yarn on her podcast, I was excited for her, but I thought it might be out of my budget to order from Germany.

Then she announced her Vikings Colorway collection and I had to order.  Yes, I'm one of those people who buy yarn because it's inspired by something I like.  I was pleased to see that her yarn was actually very reasonably priced and ships faster than most yarns I buy in the states.  So I got some more.  And then some more.  Anyway, this is her Hydrangea Garden colorway, which has nothing to do with raiding and pillaging, but I had to have it.  Did my little phone pick up how beautiful these colors look together?  It's like summer, slightly faded by the sun.

That's not why I cried, "Uncle!"  That was a win.  My knitting stint with 9" circulars, however, was not.  It just didn't work for me.  Maybe it was the fact that I was beginning my sock in a dark theatre.

They showed The Godfather at the Jefferson Theatre for classic movie night and, since I'm having my own little vacation, I had to go.  It was the perfect experience for this movie.  It was packed and everyone laughed at the right parts- offers that can't be refused... horse heads- and it was as if I was seeing it for the first time.

The tiny circular did make it easier to transport and not lose stitches.  But, I kept knitting on them until the cuff was finished, well after the movie, and I was still having flow problems.

I think it's because I need the leverage of longer needle tips to flick in English style and get a tight gauge without hurting my wrists.  My wrists have been aching a little for a couple of days and I think it's from the tiny circs.

So, when I got to the heel flap, I switched to my long magic looper and am finishing with it.   I have successfully knit all of my socks this year on 0s and 1s without RSI, I don't want to muck with that now.

Maybe I'll try again one day.  But this is Staycation Week for me, so I'm doing only stuff I like, the way I like.  Here's a peek at one of my packages from Herbstblatt Regina.  There's a Hydrangea mini skein, which is what hooked me, a colorway inspired by Floki from Vikings (which is totally how I look if I wear makeup to knit outside in summer), and Vanilla Cupcake.

(ravelry, kollabora, instagram, and flickr)


Friday, June 17, 2016

Things I'm Learning About My Sock Knitting

I'm a little behind on my Year of the Sock goal.  This test knit for Vanessa of the Kill to Craft Podcast, is only my fourth pair.  I guess I shouldn't count the house slippers as pairs five and six.  Only, in my mind, they do count.

After knitting four more pairs of socks than usual, I wouldn't go so far as to say I have my "personal recipe" down, but I have learned a few things about what I like as I knit more socks.

Less is More: As in- less needle diameter equals less sock diameter, equals less floppiness, equals more likey.  I think I'm finally getting an even tension for my knitting and find I do better with size US 0 needles.  My gauge has been consistent on the last three pairs I have knit, thanks to my Karbonz and cheap bamboo.  I think my days of accidentally knitting floppy house socks are over.

Sock blockers give me confidence:  If the sock is a little tight before blocking, I know I've got it right.  After a soak and block, they fit perfectly.  So, I finally broke down and ordered some Bryson sock blockers in the small size.  I am so much more confident about the size I'm knitting if I can barely stretch the WIP over the blockers, but once wet, they fit well.  It also makes capturing the stitch pattern way easier than having to find a bright patch of sunlight on an area of floor that isn't covered in pet hair for a photo-op of a crumpled mess.  Now I just need to find a place to hang them where the kitten can't reach them. It is eery how well I know what things she will go for.  I knew she would covet them.  Right now, my method is to put the socks on the blockers and hang them over the top hinge of different doors, sticking out into  various rooms.  My son-in-law gave it a puzzled look, but it is the only safe place.  For the moment.

Cuff-down, toe-up... tomāto- tomäto: I also find that I don't really care whether I'm knitting cuff-down or toe-up.  It's all the same.  I've got a measurement for foot length that works for me and it can be plugged into any pattern.  It's now just a matter of convenience.  For instance, I'll probably start a cuff-down pattern at the movie theatre tonight so I don't have to think about decreases for the length of the show.

I don't want my family to shun me on movie night:  Once I thought I'd do all of my vanilla socks two-at-a-time, but I'm changing my mind.  It's not as portable as the lone sock and ball of yarn.  It's okay if I know I'll be knitting on my couch, which truly becomes my couch when I'm knitting.  I have room to let project bags, my iPad, and yarn, spread out.  Even the dog can run, jump, and slide across knitting books to find a little corner to sleep in.  But, no one is appreciating it in restaurants or during movies.  And guys, I thought I would lose my mind in that last X-Men Babies movie without something to knit on.  Let's face it, one of the reasons I started knitting was to avoid feeling a little bitter about the time suck of tv and movies that I didn't enjoy.  (The fact that I now watch plenty of tv of my own volition for the convenience of busying my mind while knitting, is beside the point.)   I need my hands working during a movie that is not wonderful.

Below, it happened to be an all day music fest where I was only interested in a handful of the bands.

So, Vanessa will probably release the sock pattern you see here by the end of this month.  I'll get some nice, blocked photos up around that time.

I need to knit up a couple of pairs of socks quickly to get back on track with the Box o Sox Knit-along.  Next up, I think I will join the Floralong with the Herbstblatt Regina group on Ravelry.  This KAL goes thru August, so I know I can finish a pair of easy vanilla socks, even when trying 9 inch circulars for the first time.

Are you doing any sock challenges this year, friends?  And how is it going?

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

May Cardigan

I almost didn't finish this on time for the Tops, Tanks, and Tees Knit-along.  To be honest, it wasn't blocked and ends weren't woven by midnight, but as far as I'm concerned it is finished.

Meet May, everyone.  It's that Bristol Ivy design I was telling you about, and like so many of her patterns, it has an interesting fit and construction.

Details: I used US needles sizes 2 and 4 to knit the second size.  The cartridge stitch took some concentration at first, but eventually became second nature.  Have I mentioned how much I love the look of it?  It's like ribbing on crack.

I used two skeins of Nice and Knit fingering weight yarn in the Nantucket colorway.  It is gorgeous.  I'd been wanting to try this yarn, so when I saw they were having a sale on this colorway, I jumped at the chance.  So I got the two skeins for this and I had plenty, with a little left over to knit into my sock scrap blanket.  I've been working on this for about a month, but I am so not sick of this color.  Luckily, I got a skein of worsted in the same colorway sale.  It is taking much willpower to keep from casting on the worsted skein for a hat.  I keep reminding myself of how good I've been at whittling down my WIPs.  (I only have 5 at the moment, and 1 is a repeat knit, just for the heck of it.)

This was a straight forward knit so I can't think of anything else to say about it.  I suppose I should mention that a couple of us who knit it in the TTTKAL thought the fronts seemed too long to connect to the back at the dimensions given, but blocking worked it's magic and they seamed up nicely.

On the subject of blocking, this is pretty flexible.  One lovely knitter knit with little ease, whereas mine has some.  I actually like lots of ease and wouldn't have minded more, but I could block this out further if I really wanted to.  It is flexible that way.

Every time I planted seeds this spring, we had torrential rains start the next day.  This cycle repeated itself three times.  Now it's so incredibly hot a lot of things just won't work from seed.

(more on ravelrykollabora, flickr, and instagram)

At least the zinnias have taken off, which I'm making use of by posing so naturally here.   Can't you  hear me saying, "Ah, let me just spread this ribbing out and check something.  Hmm, I see... yes, I do feel like a dork standing in the mud and staring at my sweater."

Check out the rest of the Tops, Tanks, and Tees KAL finished tops, here.  And I think there are even more on instagram, here

Thursday, June 2, 2016

I Haven't Had a Beret Since High School

Another test knit I'm working on for Tara-Lynn is this stockinette beret.  I was excited when she mentioned she'd be releasing it soon on instagram.  I used to love wearing a beret, but I haven't owned one since high school.  In fact, I didn't even own one then.                                                                                                                                                            

I think the one I had belonged to a boy I dated.  I stuck several pins in it (the flair kind, not the voodoo kind) and wore it awhile before giving it back or chunking it when we broke up.  Anyway, I loved the idea of making my own.  So, I was pretty happy to be asked to test knit this one.

I had this great skein of Dk from Junkyarn, in the Diana colorway, that I was actually saving for this design.  How unique will this be?  It totally beats the army surplus beret of my youth.

(ravelry, kollabora, instagram, and flickr)

What you see here knit up pretty quickly, but I did have to rip back because I didn't make it long (or tall) enough.  No worries, I plan to sit down and finish it tonight.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Napanee Halter, a Sneaky Little Tank

I wasn't sure if I'd have anything to show for this year's Tops, Tanks, and Tees Knit-along.  It's been crazy time around here, so I haven't had as much knitting time as usual.  But, I did sneak in at least one finished tank with this very summery test knit for Tara-Lynn Morrison of Good Night, Day.  It is her Napanee Halter Top and it's a must knit for warm weather.

Doesn't it epitomize summer?  I used size US 5 circular needles and Plymouth Jeannee yarn in
Faded Red.  I have to say that this yarn, though partly acrylic, was buttery smooth.  It has a durable feel to it, too.   My Jeannee was Dk weight, but I linked to the worsted because that's the recommended yarn weight, and what I would've preferred using.   Regardless, look at that color!

I think the ties at the shoulder not only give some flexibility in fit, but are also a nice design feature.  There is little as satisfying to me as knitting I-cord ties.  I don't know what it is about them, but I really like it.  Kind of like popping your knuckles or licking a beater after making pudding.  

Now I want one in a denim yarn I have stashed, and my daughter wants one in this color, too.  Since it worked up so quickly, it's an easy knit to gift without getting bogged down and having the WIPs pile up.

Napanee had been released now and is on Ravelry.  If you're not the knitting type, you can find one hand knit by Tara-Lynn in her shop.  

Oh, and the crazy time has hopefully come to a close, as my grandmother's home is officially sold and our responsibilities have been cut to a more manageable size.  She and I sighed in relief over ice cream after leaving the title company.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


Glorious, isn't it?  This shawl design was so interesting to me that I signed on to test it, even though I had told myself no more testing and such until all of my works-in-progress were finished.   Well, they're not, but Zelda is.  It's by Libby Jonson, of Truly and the Truly Myrtle Podcast.

I took FO photos on a day where I had on makeup and was sort of dressed up, but it was extremely dark and rainy day and I was in a hurry to eat.  So I'm not trying for artsy blur here, they're just sort of fuzzy, making my Instagram pics the best- mismatched stripes and all.  Sheesh, I really need to slow down and make nice, clear photos a priority again.  Oh, just go look at Libby's photos, they're so, so beautiful.

Ah, Libby, you've done it again.  Another design with graphic appeal.  I do like lace, really I do.  But I lean towards the un-frilly, and I think this is one of those universally appealing shawls that knitters who like either, or both, would enjoy.

I love her play with geometric lines through both color and texture.  Remember Rattan and Industry?  So this is my sixth Truly Myrtle pattern to knit, but it won't be my last.  I have some Knit Pick's Stroll in Cork and Midnight Heather just waiting to become Joss.  Seriously, click the link because Joss is awesome.

It drew "Ooohs" and "Ahhhs" from my husband and son.  When I wasn't even fishing for compliments.  These guys see my knitting as an extension of my arms.  They could care less what's in my hands, yet they noticed this shawl.  

I think the reason for their awe was how super complex it looks.  In reality, you could totally catch up on your favorite show while knitting it, but no one has to know that.  It is just the right amount of engaging to keep you knitting quickly.  I think I made this, working off and on, in about 20 days.

Now for the details, because I want to show off this yarn:

That's not a bad time commitment.  I used size US 4 Karbonz and a combo of Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Sport in Thirst Heather and Madelinetosh Dk in Earl Grey.

No offense Knit Picks, I will always love you, but the Earl Grey totally stole the show in this one.  I mean look at that subtle semi-solid.  I don't know what color to say it is.  Except that it's one of my favorite Madtosh colorways.  At the time I bought this, when there was still a Madtosh store-front, it was impossible to get anywhere online.  So I used my trip spending money to splurge on only two skeins. Then I held them for eternity in a dark box in my room.  (It's not easy to find the right project to use up, but not exceed two skeins of Dk.)

Libby's shawl gave me an excuse to resurrect and use them in a project that would display the little flecks of blue that make Earl Grey so special.   One thing I love about Knit Picks is that their colors via the computer screen are completely accurate.   So, I felt confident holding my Earl Grey up to my iPad and choosing the main color.

Here's what I wish I had done:  I wish that I'd made the Early Grey the main color because I think the tonal shifts would have shone through even better if it was in the forefront of the design.  You can see how awesome it looks toward the edge of the shawl, right?  Anyway, I wasn't about to rip back and start over.  This was too perfect.  Plus, it was a test knit and I needed to finish.

So what will be next on my needles from Libby?  It's got to be Joss.  It's weird how often I think of that shawl.  At the moment I'm finishing up two Tops, Tanks, and Tees projects and starting a few test knits.  Don't know what happened to the "finishing all my WIPs, first" thing, but when I get caught up on all of that... Joss.

(more on ravelry, kollabora, instagram, and flickr)