Tuesday, November 25, 2014

My Petawawa Toque

What's the deal with all of the hats?  I have all of these winter sweater-y plans, with yarn ready in "yarn corner", but I keep side-tracking into hats.  Several were as gifts, and a few were to use up stash.  But I think I must've needed a break from knits I have to stare down at and these hats were the perfect thing.

I knit my first Petawawa for a friend, then immediately cast on one for myself.  It's been finished for some time, but I just didn't get around to photos until I'd finished a third one as a gift for my son's band secret pal.

This is the Petawawa Toque from Good Night Day and, like the others, I used needles sized 4 and 6, working in magic loop.  Magic Loop is definitely the easiest way to keep a project in your purse.  I'd pull it out and work in quick snatches of time.

Obviously, I like the pattern.  I especially like it in tonal yarn.  This Gynx merino worsted in the Spanish Roof colorway is so lovely.  I admired the color shifts all the way through the project.  My other post on this hat is here.

(more on my ravelry, kollabora, flickr)

Monday, November 24, 2014

One Step Closer to the Apocalypse

I have a new survival skill to add to my "In case of Apocalypse" repertoire.  I have memorized an easy, fast hat that can be made with only half a skein of bulky yarn and sticks.  It's Jane Richmond's Autumn and by using bulky, instead of super bulky, I made two hats in the time it takes to watch two movies.  That means I could easily keep two souls warm through a nuclear winter with one ball of lion brand and The Hunger Games on Netflix.

Also on my survival skills list are my abilities to switch from eating whole, raw foods to vienna sausages on a dime,
to live without sugar and caffeine,
to spend lots of time alone without going all "cast away"
and, recently, to outfit my whole family with just a few quick measurements and yarn.
I am so ready for impending chaos.

I used size 4 and 6 needles with Wool Ease Chunky.  The pattern calls for Thick and Quick, but I just made it work by knitting the seed stitch a little loose.  Have I told you how much I love seed stitch, especially chunky seed stitch?  Well I do, so they were very satisfying to make.

Though I didn't use it for these, I do have plenty of Thick and Quick I could try this pattern on.  You see, I'm all about using the yarn stash I have to create what I need.  At least I keep telling myself that.
In survivalist fashion, I was using the stashed Wool Ease from yesteryear, to suit my needs today.  Now, the burning question is- what end-times solution could I MacGyver from Fun Fur?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Gifts Happen

So my only planned Christmas knit is finished.  However, I've sort of started two more since then with a possible third in the wings.   I realize this was going to be the year of easy, whatever Christmas vacation knitting, but these were all easy and spontaneous.  

Spontaneous.  That is the key to knitting a stress free gift at Christmas-time.  I like free license to do what I want.  So I spontaneously joined the Little Bobbins Knits Mitten-along and started these.  Dani has such a sweet, friendly presence on her podcast.  It always feels like knitting along with a friend.  Plus, her dog's head peeping into the video frame, listening to her as though she were talking to him is really cute.   
The mitts are also doubling as one of my projects for the Christmas Movie Knitalong on the Very Shannon ravelry group.  I have yet to watch one Christmas movie, though. 

I have watched quite a few episodes of Supernatural. (It must be influencing my knits, as seen above.)  Otherwise, it's just been China Beach.  Did I mention I finally... twenty years after stupidly throwing away all of my episodes on vhs tapes because I thought surely they'd be released soon on dvd.. finally own it on dvd?  Oh my gosh this deserves it's own post.  If you never watched it back in the late 80s/ early 90s you may say, "What's the big deal?"  But if you did, you'll get it.  Many, many people have been waiting a long time for these to be remastered and released.  So, I may consider it my Christmas movie marathon.  Early Christmas for me, huh?

I 'm glad I decided to try and squeeze another pair of Linden mittens out of my felici leftovers from my pair.  And, thankfully, it was just enough.  They even match!  That took a bit of spit splicing.  I told my daughter blood, sweet, tears, and spit went into these.  But I'm keeping them until Christmas, so I can wrap them.  The key to easy matching mitts for both pairs was buying two balls instead of one.  It's easy to find the same starting place on separate balls, not to mention working two-at-a-time.   

Guys, I've been so busy with some family matters (good things, but still busy things) I've finished four or five things I haven't even posted about.  I have all kinds of things I want to talk about: Jessica Fletcher, shawl knitting, indie dyers, 1980's aerobics- the usual, but I just haven't had the chance.  So, hopefully, this is the first post in a continuous stream of rambling and knitting photos.

My other post on this particular set of mittens is here

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

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Bus Stop Pullover

On paper, I loved it.  They looked like perfect little totoros holding umbrellas.  After knitting body and sleeves up to the yoke and seeing that the variegated yarn wasn't working at all, I decided I hated it.
As a last ditch effort, I switched yarns and decided it would be okay.  I tolerated it until halfway through the yoke.  No amount of ironing could make this look right.  It looked like R2D2s or Daleks-  hated it again.
I was in too deep to quit, so I changed the chart again, feeling blech about the whole thing up until the moment I bound off and steam blocked it a final time.  Today I put it on and loved it again.

Fickleness, thy name is knitter.

The actual pattern, Eliazabeth Zimmerman's classic Seamless Yoke Percentage Sweater,  was awesome.   But getting the yoke charted, ripping back to change yarns, then compensating for a gauge change at the end, kind of kicked me.

Honestly, I'd never have done a totoro yoke if I'd known I couldn't use my yarn inspired by My Neighbor Totoro (above) for this.  I like the orange and brown together, but I'd rather have a different color work pattern.  I'd originally thought the variegated yarn might give a similar effect in the foreground as the Noro yarn did in my Selbu Modern.  But it was just too variegated and too close in shade to the brown to clearly depict anything.  What was I thinking?  So, I switched to some persimmon Andes del Campo I had in my stash.

I felt a need to get this knit finished, so I didn't want to try and chart out another pattern to fit within the allotted stitch count.  I considered trying the yoke from The Killing sweater, but my stitch count was off and I was kind of "over" this sweater at that point.  I also realized that, due to knitting fair isle, my row count was less than it should be, so I needed to make my decreases sooner.

My solution was to re-chart the top half of my yoke  (ripping back a third and fourth time), making my decreases sooner and omitting the umbrellas to have a clearer image of a totoro, while allowing my neckline to be lower.  Too bad I'd already added umbrellas to the cuffs when I did this.  Now, that makes no sense... sheesh.

Here's said chart in case you'd like your own totoro/bunny thingy:

My feelings on my color work: I was able to knit both continental and English for this at the same time.  My fore color was in my right hand, background color in left.  In order to not have tight floats, on my fair isle, I always knit sloppy.  I may've gotten carried away with it, though, since my row count changed on the yoke.  It looked horrific before I pressed it.  See for yourself:

It's amazing what a quick steam block can do.  I really like the orange and brown combo, I just don't prefer it as totoros.  If I'd known I would be leaving out the umbrellas, I might have used this very large, clear chart.  Oh well, it's done and now I have a very autumn colored sweater people can see me in and say, "Are those bunnies or owls?" and  "Why are there umbrellas at the cuffs?"  I can live with that.

My thoughts about Elizabeth Zimmerman's recipe:  It's fantastic and empowering!  I feel confident that I could knit one of these to perfectly fit every member of my family if I wanted to.  (I don't want to.)  My sweater's fit turned out to be exactly what I wanted.  If I hadn't done color work, this would have flown off the needles.

The one thing I didn't enjoy about this design was the whole bottom up thing.  I find the gaps where the armpits are Kitchenered together to be more difficult to hide than with top-down.  But that may just be me.  It's been a long time since I knit that style of pattern.

This percentage system sweater is in Elizabeth's book Knitting Without Tears.  Now that I've tried at least one design in it, I feel like I can continue reading it to the end.  It's about time, too, because the Canary Knits' Knitting Book Read-a-Long is about to move on to a new book.

About the fit:  Keep in mind that I wanted 3 or 4 inches of positive ease.  I needed comfort.  When I put it on this afternoon to take quick FO photos, I realized just how comfortable it was: straight bodied, a bit oversized, grazing the top of my jeans, and not itchy at all to me.  I may be wearing it more than I first thought.  The pattern is so customizable, though, that you could easily make a more fitted version and/or add waist shaping.

My details, mostly for my benefit in the future:

I used size 3 wooden circulars to get gauge, though once I started the fair isle, it enlarged my gauge some.  My wool was Wool of the Andes in Briar Heather and, eventually, Andes del Campo in persimmon.  I cast on 162 stitches for a 37" size, then added 4 stitches evenly after finishing the ribbing.

I knit the body straight, holding 13 stitches for each armpit.
I started sleeves with the proper 34 stitches, but ended up ripping them back from the cast on edge to omit 3 decreases.  So in the future, I would cast on 40 stitches and omit the first three decreases.
When I joined body and sleeves, with reserve stitches for under arms on yarn holders, I had 226 stitches.  I decreased one stitch at a shoulder, as I worked the first inch straight, so that I'd have 225 for my chart to work out.

For the fair isle yoke: I followed my own chart for ten 15 stitch repeats.   I decreases the first time at row 20, the second at row 29, and the third time at row 34 (sooner than recommended).  I did this because my row gauge was longer than my swatch on the fair isle,  and I wanted a lower neckline.  It worked out fine.  I finished off with 5 rows of 1x1 rib and bound off.

So, if you haven't seen My Neighbor Totoro, you should.  It holds a special place in my heart as I first saw it with a friend when I was 17, then shared it with my children when they were little.  It's something I don't have to have a child present to watch.

As for my poor, bedraggled Totoro 2 yarn, it will soon be a giant pom pom hat, receiving all of the attention it missed while hiding in my stash.

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

I almost ripped back my cuffs again to get rid of the umbrellas.  My husband says I should keep them. What do you think, should I keep them for an odd folky feel or nix them?

My other post on this knit is here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Antipodes Shawl Giveaway Winner

The winner of the Antipodes shawl pattern, by Libby Jonson, is Jez, or Jezren on Ravelry with her comment: 

Such a lovely colour and really suits you! I would love to knit this shawl in a similiar colour for my mother in law who loves red. I'm also planning to knit Libby's Settler Shawl too once I find the right yarn. Jezren on Ravelry

(more of Antipodes on my ravelry, kollabora, flickr)

I'll contact Libby, Jezren, and she'll be adding it to your Ravelry library sometime today.

Thanks everyone for participating and for all of the sweet comments about my shawl.  And thank you, Libby, for the opportunity to stretch my knitting repertoire and give away fun stuff!

Friday, November 7, 2014


I made a Grinchy kind of commitment this year.  No hand knit Christmas gifts unless they happen to get finished in time for Christmas Day.  Things have been a little different for me in the last year.  I've been tackling some health issues and trying to be there for my grandparents.  So, my goal is for us to have as much of a "no pressure" Christmas as we can.  

Then Dani, of Little Bobbins, hosted a Mitt-a-Long and so you know the rest.  I joined to make one, teeny, tiny gift.  My daughter liked my Linden Mitts after I made them last year, but I wasn't sure I had enough yarn, Journey had just been released and I wanted to make it all, there were KALs... Basically, a million other knitty things happened and I forgot all about them.  Plus, we had like 10 cold days last year.

A couple of weeks ago, I pulled out my leftover Felici yarn in Kingpin (It's the awesome color Jane used in her sample) and thought I'd shorten the cuff a tiny bit and see what happened.  If I run short of yarn I can do one of two things:  make them fingerless or rip back and reduce cast on stitches, in the hopes that blocking out will compensate for a more slender mitten.  Then, my gift knitting is done.

Truly, if I just worked through my stash I think my husband would find that gift enough, but I may happen to finish a pair of cabin socks for him to wear around the house.  Our house is on piers and we have wooden floors, so he'd like a gift like that.  But, I'll get there when I get there!  No pressure, right?

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Liaison Tee

So this is the Liaison Tee by Allyson Dykhuizen.  It's November and I was quite comfortable in this top for these photos.   I know I'll wear it a ton.

I decided to join The Sweatshop of Love KAL at the last minute because, though I really needed to finish my EZ Pullover and Aidez, I had the Cotlin for this and Allyson always hosts a good KAL.  It was a nice break from cables and worked up quickly.  The little lace detail was easy to memorize and kept me motivated to work "just one more row."  I spread the work out over a couple of weeks, but this thing could easily be knit in a few days.

There are no mods to tell.  This was super straightforward knitting.  I used a size US 4 needle for all ribbing and a US 5 for the body.   The yarn is Cotlin by KnitPicks in the Sprout color.  I really like Cotlin.  I've knit at least one other summer tee in it.  I think it was Nachtfalter.  I have more in my queue for this tee when summer nears.

Ah, I remember that day when my Cotlin went on a bike ride...

Sometimes I talk to my sweaters...

... with much animation.

(more on ravelry, kollabora, flickr)

Allyson is one of my favorite designers.  She's always got something good cooking.  Most recently, it was the Holla Knits Accessories collection, and it's killing me.  I want a Woolly Mammoth hat, Cedar Glen Mitts, and Pom-o-rama Slippers so bad!  But I have to get those two brown sweaters off the needles first.  Back to work.

My other post on Liaison is here.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Antipodes Shawl and a Giveaway

I'm a shawl knitting noob.  I love the way they look, but was intimidated by the fine lace.  I just always seemed to have a sweater on the needles.  You can only save so many beautiful skeins of indie-dyer yarn until you realize enough is enough, it's time to try a shawl.  So when Libby asked if I'd like to test knit Antipodes, I felt like it was a sign.  

Now, I'm a total convert.  I can't say how giddy it made me to test knit for one ravelry friend, 
Libby of TrulyMyrtle, using yarn dyed by another, Sandra of Duck Duck Wool, won in a giveaway hosted by another, Evelyn of Project: Stash.  I'm sentimental that way.

Shawls make sense in a warmer climate.  It would easily get more wear than a knitted garment through our winters.  They're lightweight, take only one skein, usually, and let me show off a really beautiful yarn without having to invest quite as much.  I've already got a lovely skein waiting to be the Settler Shawl, another of Libby's designs.

So, this was my first test knit.  Test knitting always looked like such fun, but I thought my erratic gauge would make me a poor candidate.  Who wants to re-do a test knit twice before the deadline?

For this project, I absolutely washed and blocked my swatch to be sure.  It seemed tiny as I knit, but I trusted the pattern that it would block out a bunch.  Honestly, I could've blocked it a lot more aggressively.  I just had to get a feel for blocking lace.  You have to be fearless as you stretch that thing all over the place.  I also lack a good blocking set-up.  It was camping mats with towels on top and straight pins.  

I was so proud when it was dry that I grabbed my husband on his off day to help me take some photos.  We were like teenagers again, sneaking off after church, onto private property to... take photos of knitwear.  

After looking at these pics, I think I'll block again- this time ensuring I get the length specified in the pattern.  That will open my lace a bit more.  But, hey.... first shawl!!   

The details: I chose a skein of Duck Duck Wool fingering weight yarn in the color Spellbreaker that I won in a Project: Stash giveaway too long ago.  Could there be a more beautiful and striking color for an accessory?  

I used bamboo needles in size US 3 to get gauge and started clicking along with the charts.  They were really easy to follow, giving me just enough lace to stay interested, while also providing a good bit of garter stitch for tv watching.  I was in a Supernatural kind of mood (even though I only like the first few seasons, and even that is only in a silly tv-as-junk-food kind of way)

You're not going to believe this, but there was an alligator about 20 feet away from me as we took the photos by the water.  We heard him crawl through the tall grass and saw him swimming away.  Oh, the things I'll do for a decent FO photo.

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

The Giveaway:

Oh yeah... Libby has generously offered a free Antipodes pattern for one of you, dear friends.  Just leave a comment on this post, including your Ravelry name, between now and next Monday Nov. 10 at 5pm CST and I'll announce the winner Tuesday.

Edit: This giveaway is now closed.  Thanks to all who participated!  The winner will be announced Tuesday, November 11.