Knitting Has Occurred

Yes, people, I have been knitting, and what follows is a round-up of my most recent FOs and WiP.

A hat I knitted to match a pair of fingerless mitts I made last fall. The picture captures the color of the yarn pretty closely. Yes, the yarn is my very own handspun, the fiber being Falkland dyed by Dana of Unwind Yarn in the coloway Flirt.

Here’s that hat along side the mitts. The yarn is more reddish than pink. The pattern is Woodside Mitts by Paula McKeever. It’s a lot of fun to knit and is very stretchy.

I started the hat not knowing whether I had enough yarn left to finish it. I just kept knitting until I was out of yarn. I had a little mini-skein set aside for the pompon. Originally I was going to just graft the ends together, but I decided when I was nearly finished to do a few rounds of crown decreases. Unfortunately, I didn’t write down how I did the decreases, but it turned out way better than I was expecting.

Another project knitted from Unwind Yarns fiber, Falkland in the colorway Viola, that I spun. These are the Nalu Mitts, and I made them for one of my nieces. I need to get them in the mail. I came down with the crud shortly after I finished them and am only just now starting to feel human again.

This is closer to the real-life color, but still not quite there. The pattern looks complicated, but it really isn’t. The only tricky part is working the seed stitch on the outside “curve” but in all honesty, even that isn’t particularly tricky. I love this pattern, but since the mitt is mostly stocking stitch, which isn’t very stretchy, it’s best to make these just a little on the snug side so that they don’t droop and bunch up.

Here’s a close-up shot of a strand of the yarn on top of the knitted fabric. This yarn is a 2×2 cabled yarn which, when unknitted, looks like a chain. But when it is knitted up, it looks like the 4-ply yarn it is. The color in this picture is pretty close to the RL color, too. If you can picture something in between this picture and the one above it, you’ve got it.

For those not in the know, a cabled yarn is a yarn that consists of two or more plied yarns that have been plied together. A 2×2 cabled yarn is made by plying 2 singles together to make a 2-ply yarn, then plying two strands of the 2-ply yarn together to make a cabled 4-ply yarn. For this yarn, I spun the singles Z-twist (clockwise), plied them together S-twist (counter-clockwise), then plied the 2-ply together Z-twist (clockwise). This makes a very round yarn that has great stitch definition and is a lot of fun to knit.

I currently have only one project OTN and I plan to stay monogamous until this project is completed because it’s a baby blanket for a baby who has already made her appearance. I was a little late getting this project started, so I would like to get it done as quickly as I can.

The baby blanket, which is being knitted in the round using Knit Picks Bare Stroll Fingering Sock yarn. The turquoise bit is the Rosemarie’s Belly Button Start. (I linked to the URL for the BBS, but I don’t think the link works anymore.)

The pattern is a MMario design called Templeton, and I plan to finished the blanket with a knitted-on edging from a baby blanket pattern called Star Light Star Bright by Anna Dillenberg Rachap. I got the inspiration for combining these two patterns from a fellow Raveler, suespins. I love to peruse the finished projects of patterns I plan to knit.

I have been practicing a left-handed knitting technique commonly referred to as Portuguese-style knitting on the baby blanket, and I have rapidly become very comfortable with this style of knitting. It is especially handy for doing stranded colorwork which is why I wanted to learn to do it. I currently do stranded colorwork two-handed, throwing with my right hand (English/American) and picking with my left (Continental). This works well and is comfortable for me, but I have tension issues because my tensioning when knitting Continental is rubbish. With Portuguese-style knitting, my tension is remarkably even and consistent, and because you can purl rather than knit (and the purl side is the side that faces the knitter), there’s far less chance of having floats that are too tight or too loose. I wish I had known about this technique for colorwork a long time ago.

I’ve been doing some spinning, and even a little experimenting with different drive systems, but I haven’t been keeping very good records. I haven’t even recorded my last couple of projects on Ravelry. Bad spinner. Bad! But I will do my best to reconstruct what I did and I’ll share my finished skeins soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Woo-Hoo! FO Friday!

I actually have some knitting FOs to share today. All are knitted from my very own handspun. Here are pictures and descriptions.

Two hats knitted from the Andraste color way from Into The Whirled.

Two hats knitted from the Andraste color way from Into The Whirled.

On the left is the Andraste Turns A Square hat, which is Jared Flood’s Turn a Square pattern, a simple but fun beanie that I enjoy knitting. The pattern is written for using two colors of yarn, but it works really well with self-striping yarn, and you don’t end up with color jogs.

On the right is my A Head for Andraste hat, which is the Barley Hat from Tin Can Knits. It was a lot of fun to knit. I understand why it is such a popular pattern.

The hat and mitts below were knitted from yarn I spun using Bee Mice Elf fiber in the Fall 2014 Club colorway, which I call Rustle.

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Rustling Leaves Slouchy Hat and Braided Cable Mitts were made to go together.

I didn’t use a pattern for the hat, and the pattern for the mitts is one of my own devising.

I had a lot of the “Rustle” yarn, about 8 ounces total, so I made this set of matching mitts and hat, too.

The mitts are the Braided Mitts by Tara Johnson (free download on Ravelry) which I modified for a better look and fit. I then “designed” the hat myself using the same cable as in the Braided Mitts pattern.

There are also two pairs of mitts knitted from Andraste, but I’m not quite ready to share those with you yet.

I have gotten a lot of pleasure out of Andraste and “Rustle.” First, I spun them up into beautiful yarn, then I knitted that yarn into lovely and useful articles of clothing. What comes next is the pleasure of wearing and/or gifting these handspun handknits.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

👻🎃💀👻🎃💀👻🎃💀👻🎃💀👻🎃💀👻🎃💀👻🎃💀👻🎃💀👻🎃💀👻🎃💀👻🎃💀

What’s Off My Needles

Finishing a project is one of the most joyful events in a knitter’s life, especially when the project turns out as planned. It’s been a while since I’ve had a major knitting disaster, and I hope to keep it that way. Of course, I’ve been knitting a lot of fingerless mitts lately, but even when a project that small is a total fail, it can never qualify as a major knitting disaster. A fingerless mitt, after all, is little more than a swatch. So if you need to rip the darned thing out and start over, it’s no big deal. When that happens with, say, a sweater, well, that’s a big deal.

The previous paragraph may lead you, dear reader, to conclude that I have recently had a fingerless mitts fail of some sort. If so, I apologize for misleading you. My fingerless mitts have been humming along like a well-oiled spinning wheel. Two pairs have recently left my needles, and both turned out quite well, if I do say so myself.

I’ll start with Anne’s Little Twist Mitts. They are finished, and I’m very happy with how they turned out.

If I could play the bodhrán, I could play it wearing these mitts. 🙂

Although I prefer to have some ribbing in the hand of fingerless mitts because I think it gives a better fit, these mitts don’t bag and sag excessively.

No bagging or sagging, just a nice, snug fit

The yarn I used for these mitts is Brown Sheep Nature Spun worsted weight. It’s my favorite everyday  workhorse yarn because it comes in a wide range of colors, knits up nicely, softens a lot once it’s washed, wears well, is made in the USA of American wool, and is well priced. A lot of knitters are in love with Cascade 220, but in my opinion, Cascade 220 pales in comparison with Brown Sheep Nature Spun.

But that being said, Cascade 220 is a good, solid everyday yarn, and I do sometimes knit with it even though I’m not overly fond of either the twist or the feel of it. In fact, I just recently completed these fingerless mitts using Cascade 220 that I had in my stash.

 

Mr. Pittsburgh Penguins Gnome approves of my Let’s Go Pens Mitts.

The pattern is Center Ice Hockey Mitts, which is a free download on Ravelry. These mitts are intended as a prize for one of the members of the Let’s Go Pens Ravellenic Games team.

It’s very difficult to find a yarn in a color that matches the Las Vegas gold that is worn by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Cascade 220 comes the closest with the color they call “Pear.” I wish Brown Sheep had a comparable color, but they don’t. If they did, Cascade 220 would probably be banished from my stash.

 

Yarn Cakes

Lately I’ve been knitting nothing but fingerless mitts. I love knitting fingerless mitts and plan to continue knitting them for the foreseeable future. But my handspun is calling to me. So I got my wooden swift out of the closet,

Wooden swift, ready for action!

Wooden swift, ready for action!

 

and pulled the “mashed potato” stool into place.

My ball winder is at home atop the "mashed potato" stool.

My ball winder is at home atop the “mashed potato” stool.

This wooden step stool belonged to my MIL. She kept it in the kitchen behind the door that led to a small hallway to the back door. Her house was old and so was her kitchen. There wasn’t a lot of counter space, so when she made mashed potatoes, she pulled this stool out and sat the hot pan of potatoes on the top of the stool while she mashed them. I never saw her use the stool for anything except mashing potatoes, so I have always called it the mashed potato stool. The stool now sits in my dining room/office next to my computer desk and is the permanent home of my ball winder. My MIL would be pleased to know her mashed potato stool is now an integral part of my yarn-winding “station.” 🙂

After getting the swift set up and the ball winder in place, I wound some of my handspun yarn into yarn cakes.

A basket of yarn cakes. Yum!

A basket of yarn cakes. Yum!

Each yarn now has a designated knitting project assigned to it.

Roses in Her Eyes, a 2-ply spun from a batt from Bohoknitterchic,

Yarn cake on a plate

is designated to become a pair of fingerless mitts. I haven’t decided for certain, but I’ll probably use a simple 2 x 1 or 3 x 1 ribbing and keep it very plain so that the beauty of the yarn will shine through.  The yarn has a lot of shine, sparkle, color, and texture. It’s a bit thick and thin, and a little slubby, so I plan to keep it simple. I hope it’s as much fun to knit as it was to spin.

Vintage Roses from Corgi Hill Farm will become a Downtown Cowl.

A Polwarth and silk blend

And finally, the pièce de résistance is this beautiful monochrome gradient from Spinneretta’s Studio

A lovely monochrome gradient of Polwarth top

that I spun and chain-plied to get a beautiful skein

Just look at the beautiful color transitions

that is now this beautiful yarn cake.

So lovely all wound up

This yarn needs a pattern that is suitable for a gradient yarn, and I think The Age of Steam and Brass is perfect.

I haven’t decided which handspun project to cast on first, but in the meanwhile, I will finish Anne’s Little Twist Mitts

Mitt #2 is well underway.

and probably cast on yet another pair of fingerless mitts. They are so quick and easy, and very satisfying to knit. And even better, they are wonderful to wear. If you’ve never worn a pair, give them a try. I think you will love them as much as I do. And if you have never knitted a pair… Do. It. NOW.

And be sure to visit Tami’s WIP Wednesday to see lots of other hand-crafted goodies.

 

At Last, FO Friday!

It’s been a while since I posted a Finished Object Friday entry. It’s not for a lack of FOs. It’s more because I’ve been busy with preparing for and cleaning up after Thanksgiving. And watching a lot of hockey games. And doing a lot of knitting. And doing some reading, too.

Unfortunately, when it comes to blogging, I’ve been a bit of a slacker. I’m determined to change that and get back to posting more regularly. Only time will tell whether I succeed. 🙂

Fingerless mitts. What more can I say? They are all the rage now, and for very good reason. Fingerless mitts help keep your hands warm while leaving your fingers free to operate the touch screen on your portable device–smart phone, tablet, iPod touch, etc. They are also wonderful for people like me who don’t like to wear gloves when they drive. And they are an excellent way to add an extra layer of warmth to the hands on a frigid day by slipping them over a pair of gloves. It doesn’t hurt that they look pretty, too.

For a knitter, fingerless mitts are a dream project. They can be knitted in any thickness of yarn, from lace weight (doubled) to bulky, but fingering, sport, and worsted weight seem to work best. There are tons of fingerless mitts patterns, both free and paid, available on Ravelry, but once you know the basic construction, it’s simple enough to design your own. They take only a small amount of yarn, usually less than 100 grams, and very little time. Depending on the pattern, a single mitt can be completed in an evening’s worth of knitting. And it’s pretty easy to guesstimate size by trying the mitts on. Ribbed patterns are very forgiving. 🙂

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve finished three pairs of fingerless mitts, two of which are my own design. Aren’t I clever?

clockwise from lower left: Maureen’s Zig Zag Mitts, Midwinter Staghorn Mitts, and Twisted Fold Over Mitts

The Staghorn Mitts are knitted from one ball of Knit Picks Chroma worsted weight, which is a singles yarn that is incredibly soft, using  4.25mm dpns. I don’t know how well it will hold up with wearing, but the mitts are luscious freshly knitted.

Midwinter Staghorn Mitts, front and back

I used this pattern from Tera Johnson that is available free on Ravelry. I made only a handful of modifications to the pattern. I added some extra rounds of 2 x 2 ribbing to the cuffs, and I did an extra gusset increase.

Don’t look too closely at my fingernails. It isn’t a pretty sight. 🙂

But otherwise, I knitted the pattern as written. And, as you can see, I was able to match the color repeats almost perfectly, in spite of there being a knot in the ball of Chroma.

The blue heather mitts, knitted from one skein of Cascade 220 on 4.25mm dpns, have fold over cuffs both at the wrist and at the fingers.

One mitt with the cuffs folded, the other with the cuffs unfolded

The double fabric gives extra warmth and adds versatility. On very cold days, the cuff at the fingers can be unfolded to cover the fingers, almost like mittens, and the cuff at the wrist can be unfolded under the sleeve of the coat but over the sleeve of the inner garment to keep out the wind. Clever, eh?

I admit to stealing this idea. When pattern surfing on Ravelry, I saw a pair of mitts that had a fold over cuff at the fingers and thought it was a great idea. So I stole it. 🙂

Anyway, the Twisted Fold Over Mitts are a simple 2 x 2 rib with 3 columns of RT (right twist-knit into the second stitch on the left-hand needle, then knit into the first stitch and drop both stitches from the left-hand needle) pseudo cables on the back of the hand to gussy them up a bit.

Don’t they look warm and cozy?

If you knit them in just 2 x 2 rib, the mitts will be reversible, that is, each mitt will fit both the left and the right hand.

The red mitts, Maureen’s Zig Zag Mitts, are also my own design. They are the same basic mitts as the Twisted Fold Over Mitts, but only the wrist has a fold over cuff, and the RTs have been replaced with alternating C2B and C2F to create a zig-zag cable that looks a lot like rick rack. (Do young people today even know what rick rack is? LOL)

You can see both the palm side and the back-of-the-hand side in this picture. I apologize for how crappy the picture is. My camera doesn’t do red for some reason.

The yarn is Lion Brand Wool, which is Aran weight (a heavy worsted weight) in scarlet, and it is a lovely wool to knit with. It’s one of the few worthwhile yarns you can purchase in big box craft stores like Michaels.

I have a large storage container filled with single balls of worsted weight yarn, so expect a lot more fingerless mitts this winter.

 

 

 

Oh, No You Didn’t!

Oh, yes I did. On Wednesday, I decided that Emily’s Electric Blue Cassidy hoodie needed a pair of matching mitts, and the mitts had to be done (including washing and blocking) by Saturday morning so that they could be delivered along with Cassidy by my DH Saturday evening.

So, I sat down and did a rough design. I started with 4 mm dpns and 40 stitches. I knitted the first mitt through the thumb gusset, tried it on, and decided it was a little too tight.

I went to the frog pond (rip-it, rip-it) and started over with a cast-on of 44 stitches. Much better.

So, without further ado, I present for your viewing pleasure, Emily’s Electric Blue Cassidy Mitts.

The mitts in the hood.

The mitts are pictured before washing and blocking.

As you can see, I decided to use the 3 x 1 rib pattern on the cuff and palm, and the sleeve/hood/center back pattern on the back of the hand. I think the mitts would look lovely using the cable pattern from cast on to cast off, but I wanted to repeat the ribbing of the sweater. Just because.

Here’s how I knitted the mitts:

On 4mm dpns,  cast on 44 stitches

Knit 24 rounds of K3, P1 ribbing

Begin cable pattern and thumb gusset increases:

For left mitt, K1, pm, m1R, K1, m1L, pm, K1, P1, K3, work Cassidy Chart C, (K3, P1) x 5

For the right mitt, K3, work Cassidy Chart C, K3, P1, K1, pm, m1R, K1, m1L, pm, K1, P1, (K3, P1) x 4

Knit one round in pattern (knit the knit stitches, purl the purl stitches, cross cables on cable rounds).

Continue increasing every other round. I worked the K3, P1 ribbing into the thumb gusset as the stitches allowed. Note that the number of stitches between the m1R and m1L will increase by 2 after each increase round. Keep increasing until you have 21 stitches between the markers.

Knit one more plain round, and place the gusset stitches on waste yarn.

Join to continue knitting the hand in the round, adding one stitch where that first thumb gusset stitch would have been, and knit in pattern until the mitt is the length you desire. I knitted 7 full Chart C repeats and 3 rows of an 8th repeat (8 cable crossing total), then cast off using the sewn cast off.

Put the gusset stitches on dpns and pick up 5 stitches along the thumb hole. (I knit the picked-up stitches through the back loop to close up any holes.) Move the first 2 knit stitches and the last two knit stitches of the gusset onto the needle with the picked-up stitches.  The last to knit stitches that you move to the “picked-up” needle will become the beginning of the round.

Work thumb decreases as follows:

Rnd 1: SSK, K2, P1, K2, K2tog, work needles 2 and 3 in pattern

Rnd 2: SSK, K1, P1, K1, K2tog, work needles 2 and 3 in pattern

Rnd 3: Knit the knits, purl the purls

Rnd 4: SSK, P1, K2tog, work needles 2 and 3 in pattern

Rnd 4: Knit the knits, purl the purls

Rnd 5: P3tog, work needles 2 and 3 in pattern

Rnd 6: Knit the knits, purl the purls

Cast off. Weave in ends.

K = knit

P = purl

pm = place marker

SSK= slip, slip, knit (slip one stitch knit-wise, slip the next stitch knit-wise, put the stitches back on the left-hand needle and knit them together through the back loop)

K2tog = knit two stitches together as one

P3tog = purl three stitches together as one

m1R = pick up the working thread between the stitch on the right-hand needle and the stitch on the left-hand needle from back to front and knit through the front of the loop. This makes a right-leaning increase.

m1L = pick up the working thread between the stitch on the right-hand needle and the stitch on the left-hand needle from front to back and knit through the back of the loop. This makes a left-leaning increase.

A Quick Knit

After knitting a gorgeous pair of knee socks for the boy’s sock-worthy GF in a gorgeous Knit Picks Stroll tonal colorway called Blue Yonder, I found myself with to little left-over yarn to knit a pair of regular socks for myself, but plenty of yarn to knit a pair of fingerless mitts for the boy’s GF. So off I went on a Ravelry search to find just the right pattern for this yarn.

I found several attractive patterns, but I settled on Mitt Envy, a free download on Ravelry, because I thought the cable would show up well on the tonal yarn.

The pattern may be free, but the designer went out of her way to write the pattern out in great detail. The instructions are all in written form–there is no chart for the cable–but they are clear and detailed, and there are three pictures that show the mitts to great advantage.

I have completed the left mitt and will be casting on the right mitt later today.

Back of the left Blue Yonder fingerless mitt

Back of the left Blue Yonder fingerless mitt

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Palm of the left Blue Yonder fingerless mitt

These mitts are a quick and easy knit, but I did have to make several modifications to the pattern to get a mitt that fits well. The pattern calls for a gauge of 7 stitches per inch and 11 rows per inch in stocking stitch. I cast on using 2.75 mm double-pointed needles and knit to about half-way through the thumb gusset increases, then put the mitt on a circular needle and tried it on. It was too small because my gauge was 8 stitches per inch. So I ripped it out and started over, this time using 3 mm double-pointed needles. I completed all the thumb gusset increases and knitted a few rounds beyond that before putting the stitches on a circular needle and trying the mitt on. On the second try the circumference of the mitt was perfect. My gauge was 7 stitches per inch, and the fit was snug without being tight, just the way it should be. But the ribbed cuff of the mitt barely reached my wrist even though my row gauge was 10 rows per inch. I decided to knit another cable pattern repeat before starting the thumb gusset, so I ripped back to round 7 of the first pattern repeat, knitted round 8 without doing the M1 increase, knitted rounds 1-7 again, then made the increase on round 8.

The pattern calls for using a M1 increase for all the gusset increases, but I’m just a little anal about things like increases and decreases and wanted the paired decreases to mirror each other, so I worked a M1R at the beginning of the gusset and a M1L at the end of the gusset. (M1R–lift the thread between the stitches from back to front and knit through the front of the stitch to twist it. This stitch will lean toward the right. M1L–life the thread between the stitches from front to back and knit through the back of the stitch to twist it. This stitch will lean toward the left.)

I continued with the pattern until I had completed all the cable repeats, then tried the mitt on. It didn’t quite cover the palm of my hand, so I knew that even after knitting the 7 rounds of ribbing for the top cuff the mitt would be too short. So I knitted one more repeat of the cable pattern before knitting the ribbing, and as you can see from the picture, I hit the Goldilocks zone. The mitt is just right. Whereas the pattern has 5 total repeats of the cable stitch, I ended up with 7 total repeats.

Because everything I had knitted according to the instructions up to this point had been too short, when I knitted the thumb, I first knitted two plain rounds, then did the 7 rounds of 2 x 2 ribbing. I think the results are awesome. I wanted the top part of the mitt to be a little longer than she made hers. Hers appear to extend to the bottom of the second knuckle of the index finger, and I prefer mitts to extend to the bottom of the second knuckle of the middle finger. With the adjustments I made to add length before the thumb gussets and before the top cuff, I ended up with a mitt that is 7 inches long cuff to cuff instead of the 5.5 inches of the original model.

All things considered, I think this is a brilliant pattern for fingerless mitts and I would definitely recommend it to other knitters, but with the caveat that you might need to make a few adjustments to get a good fit for your hand.