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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mitts And More Mitts (And An Ear Warmer, Too)

I have been trying to knit up some of my handspun. I have accumulated a lot of it since I started spinning five years ago, and with another Tour de Fleece under my belt, and my second Spinzilla looming, the handspun is really piling up. But lo and behold! I have made a tiny dent in the stash. None of these items has been washed yet; heck, not all the ends have been woven in yet. But the knitting is finished, so I count these as FOs that qualify for the Happy Dance.

When I finished these mitts, I still had a fair amount of yarn left, so I knitted a matching ear warmer. The stitch pattern was borrowed from Claire Devine’s Everyday Brew Hat. The yarn is my handspun from 2012. It’s some of my earliest wheel-spun yarn using Corriedale pin-drafted roving from Sunset Fibers. It was the October 2012 selection from the Fiber-of-the-Month Club.

As you can see, these mitts weren’t quite finished when I photographed them. One of them still needed a thumb. They are completely finished now, but I’m too lazy to take another picture. I call these the Pittsburgh Skyline mitts, so named because the colors remind me of the colors you can see in the Pittsburgh skyline as viewed from PNC Park as day changes to night. The handspun is Falkland from Into The Whirled in the color way 24-1/2th Century. The pattern is just a 1 x 1 ribbing using my standard worsted-weight yarn mitts template.

I started with a tubular cast on, which works very well for 1 x 1 ribbing. I think it looks fantastic, and it is very stretchy.

This is the bound-off edge. I’m not very good at doing a tubular bind off because for some reason, I always get the edge too tight. But a search of YouTube turned up an invisible 1 x 1 bind off that looks just like the tubular bind off but without the double knitted part. It’s easy to do, and I can do it without making the edge too tight.

At the moment, I have yet another pair of mitts OTN, also in handspun, but this time the yarn is fingering weight and the pattern is a wee bit fancy. But you will have to wait a few days before you get to see them. 🙂

A Long Time Coming

So, I am finally getting around to posting pictures of some of the knitting I have been doing. These pictures are a shawl I knitted from handspun. The fiber is Wensleydale from Spunky Eclectic in the color way Island Dreams that I spun into a 2-ply laceweight yarn; the shawl was knitted from two strand of the yarn held together. The pattern is the Campside Shawl by Alicia Plummer and was started a little over a year ago as part of a KAL in the Spunky group on Ravelry. The shawl knitting was interrupted by some baby blanket knitting, and it took me a while to get back to it. All the pictures of the shawl are before blocking, so you really cannot get a good idea of how lovely this pattern is.

A close-up picture of the upper edge of the shawl. I spun each bump of the yarn from end to end and somehow all the colors lined up in a way that resulted in some very nice, subtle striping.

The colors in this picture are more saturated than in real life. The first picture is closer to the actual colors. But in this picture you can see the center “spine” of the triangular shawl. The bottom edge of the shawl is a few rows of garter stitch. When I block the shawl, the edge will no longer roll. Fingers crossed.

Once again, the color is off, but you can see the shape of the shawl. It looks like the tips are going to curve, so the shawl should fit very nicely.

Once I have blocked the shawl, I will post more pictures of it. I don’t know how much use it will get because Wensleydale is a bit on the scratchy side, and since I doubled the yarn, it’s going to be a very warm shawl. But even if I don’t wear it much, it was a lot of fun to knit.

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!

👻🎃💀👻🎃💀👻🎃💀👻🎃💀👻🎃💀👻🎃💀👻🎃💀👻🎃💀👻🎃💀👻🎃💀👻🎃💀

Knitapalooza

Football season has started, which for me means lots of knitting because I watch lots of football. And I cannot sit in front of the TV for long without either knitting or spinning.

First things first, I finished the Gray Vanilla Socks I was knitting for my DH.

I know, the picture is crappy. What can I say? I’m a lousy photographer, and I’m too lazy to try again. I’d probably just end up with more lousy pictures.

I had 3 50-gram balls of Socka, but I managed to knit these socks with only one ball per sock and even had a few yards left over. Usually 100 grams of sock yarn isn’t quite enough to knit a pair of socks for the DH. He likes the cuff to be a little on the long side–about two inches longer than what I knit for myself–and the foot is about an inch longer than mine, and I usually cast on 8 more stitches than I do for my own socks. So whereas 100 grams of sock yarn is plenty for knitting a pair of socks for myself (and for the other sock-worthy women in my life), it’s usually not sufficient for a pair of socks for my DH.

These socks are just plain, old 2 x 2 rib with a Fish Lips Kiss Heel and a round toe, utilitarian rather than decorative, so I’ll have to dig around in my sock yarn stash and find something a little more splashy for the next pair I knit for him. He rather likes socks with a bit of flair.

Socks are just the beginning of my knitapalooza. For me, football season and hockey season are knitting season. September 5th was the first Saturday of the college football season, and although it wasn’t as productive as it normally would have been because we had a wedding to attend and didn’t get back home until mid-afternoon, I did get a good start on a pair of fingerless mitts knitted with Cascade 220. I used the Center Ice Mitts pattern, a free download on Ravelry, but with Steelers colors. I really like this particular pattern. It’s well written and includes options for using either two or three colors, so it can be adapted to just about any team in just about any sport. I prefer Brown Sheep Nature Spun to Cascade 220 for knitting hats and mitts, but I had Cascade 220 in white and yellow in my stash already, and only had to buy one skein of  black.

Unfortunately, after knitting about half of the first mitt, I tried it on and decided it was a little too tight. I ripped it out and started over with a needle one size larger. Don’t tell me that I should have swatched first; in the time it would take to knit a swatch, I can knit half a fingerless mitt, so the mitt is my swatch. Anyway, during football weekend #1, I finished the first mitt sans thumb and got a good start on the second mitt.

Steelers on Ice Mitts without thumbs

The second Saturday of college football was shaping up to be a very productive knitting day, but we ended up having the DS and DIL here to watch football, and the DIL and I decided to walk up to the boulevard to get tacos, and then we got caught in the rain and thought we’d wait it out in the library. But after about 10 minutes in the library, we realized the rain wasn’t going to let up any time soon, so we walked back in the rain, the whole time kicking ourselves for not bringing an umbrella. But I still got Steelers mitt #2 completely done, and got the thumb knitted on mitt #1.

Steelers on Ice with thumbs. This pattern is quick and easy. The most difficult and time-consuming part is weaving in all the ends.

These mitts should be nice and warm.

But that wasn’t the end of my Saturday football knitting. I also got a skein of my handspun wound into a cake…

A lovely cake of handspun yarn made from Bee Mice Elf “Rustle” BFL

and I cast on for another pair of fingerless mitts.

Mitt #1 early on

I love the pretty autumnal colors of the yarn, so I am calling them Autumn Leaves Mitts. I got the first mitt sans thumb finished on Sunday while watching NFL games, and even got a good start on the second mitt.

Mitt #1 just needs a thumb, and mitt #2 is off to a good start.

I’m trying to get the mitts as close to matching as I can. With handspun yarn, the color repeats are not as precise as they would be with mill spun, commercially dyed yarn, or even with mill spun, hand dyed yarn. I don’t expect total matchy-matchy identical twins, but I would like to end up with obvious siblings.

The pattern I’m using for the Autumn Leaves Mitts is Braided Mitts by Tera Johnson, and it’s a free Ravelry download. The pattern as written makes a mitt that is too small for my hand (and I have fairly small hands), so I had to make a couple of modifications to the pattern. I knitted a 2 x 2 wrist cuff for 24 rounds instead of 12, and I did the thumb gusset repeats at a rate of every 4th round instead of every 3rd round because otherwise, the thumb gusset would be too short. I could have just knitted a bunch of plain rounds after completing the increases before putting the thumb stitches on waste yarn, but I like the look of the diagonal lines the increases create, so I changed the rate of the increases.

One of my favorite things about this pattern is that the designer took great care to place the beautiful braided cable so that it is in the center of the back of the hand when the mitts are worn. All to often, a cable will be placed so that it is in the middle of the mitt when the mitt is not being worn, but when you put the mitt on your, the cable will be off center.

I’ll work the thumbs when I have both mitts finished. I want to try to use a piece of yarn for the thumbs that will match the hand. I will probably have enough yarn left from this skein to make another pair of mitts. And I have a whole other skein, so I could knit a hat to go with the mitts. Or I might use the leftover from skein #1 along with skein #2 and knit a scarf using Yarn Harlot’s pattern for a scarf knit from handspun. This yarn is BFL, and it is incredibly soft and would feel wonderful around my neck.

I’m happy to be knitting again, and it will only get better because in just a few short weeks, hockey season starts. And hockey means more knitting!

Ravellenic Games 2014

Yes, it’s the Winter Olympics, and that means the Ravellenic Games are in full swing. For those of you who are not knitters, and I sure do feel sorry for you, the Ravellenic Games coincide with every Olympic Games and are held on Ravelry, an on-line knitting/crocheting/spinning community. There are teams to join, events to enter, medals to be won, and sometimes there are prizes.

I am participating this year on Team Let’s Go Pens, and I have entered Event Lace, Event Scarf, and Event Single Skein. My project, The Age of Steam And Brass scarf, was knitted from this fiber–

Spinneretta's Studio Polwarth dyed in a gradient colorway called Monochrome

Spinneretta’s Studio Polwarth dyed in a gradient colorway called Monochrome

which I spun up last year into this yarn–

A handspun chain-plied yarn

which I knitted into this scarf.

My Ravellenic Games 2014 project, Age of Steam and Brass

My competition knitting may be done, but I still have lots more knitting to do and lots of Olympic competition to watch. So far the Games have been amazing. I really enjoyed the Slopestyle Snowboarding event, and I’m looking forward to watching the same even done on skis. The USA women’s hockey team has been dominant in their bracket so far, but they face a big test when they meet Team Canada tomorrow. And soon the men’s competition will begin. Olympic hockey is awesome. If you haven’t watched the women play, you should. The women play at the highest skill level. They skate fast, pass well, and shoot hard.

NBCs coverage of the Olympic Games leaves a lot to be desired, as usual, but there are some bright spots. CNBC shows curling, lots and lots of curling, and not just the Americans. I love watching curling. It’s a sport that requires a lot of strategy and finesse as well as athleticism and teamwork.

I hope you are enjoying the Winter Games as much as I am.

What’s On My Needles

The Winter Olympic Games are fast approaching, which means the Ravellenic Games will soon begin, which means that I need to finish up all the projects I currently have on my needles, excluding those projects that are in long-term hibernation. Sorry, Stonington Shawl and St. Moritz sweater. You must remain in deep sleep for a while longer because I fell out of love with you. I’m sorry if that hurts your feelings, but we knitters can be a fickle lot.

Anyway, once the Ravellenic Games begin, I need to be able to concentrate on my Ravellenic project. I mean, there may be prizes involved. PRIZES!!

So, just what IS on my needles? Well, I’ve been working on a Downtown Cowl (free Ravelry download) using my very own handspun yarn

Vintage Roses Downtown Cowl in the midst of casting off

The knitting is done, but the casting off is still in progress. I’m using EZ’s sewn cast off, which is super easy to do, but because there are about a million stitches to cast off, it is taking forever. I cannot stand to cast off more than a couple dozen stitches at a time, then I have to set the cowl aside for a while. It’s like eating an elephant–you do it one bite at a time. 🙂

This pattern is very easy and makes great hockey knitting. I enjoyed every part of knitting it except casting off. If I had it to do over again, I would use the traditional cast off where you knit a stitch and pass the previous stitch over it, but I thought the stretchier edge of the sewn cast off would be better. Well, it’s only better if it actually gets done, and even then, it’s only marginally better. Live and learn. I’m so used to using the sewn cast off on socks where there are only 72 stitches to cast off that I just didn’t think about how tedious it would be to cast off 350 stitches that way. One. Bite. At. A. Time.

Speaking of cowls and handspun, I cast on another infinity scarf using the Graham-finity pattern by Carol Quilici, another free Ravelry download.

My Fancy Pants Infinity scarf is under way.

The yarn is spun from fiber I “won” during the Tour de Fleece last July. It’s a 50/50 Merino/Silk from Woolgatherings’ Fancy Pants fiber club, and I had a blast spinning it. I think this pattern is perfect for the color changes, texture, and barber-poling of this handspun. The yarn is so soft and silky, it will feel heavenly around the wearer’s neck.

I started Fancy Pants on my Denise Interchangeable needles, and after knitting six or seven rounds, I managed to break the cable by snapping the plastic part that locks into the needle off the part that is inside the cable. I am hard on interchangeable needles, I guess. Anyway, I don’t have any fixed circulars in the size I need (5 mm), so I got out the Boye interchangeables. They are working quite nicely. The yarn moves over the join smoothly and easily, but I really don’t enjoy the stiff cable. I guess it’s time to buy some more circular needles in some larger sizes. I’ve given up on interchangeables. They just don’t like me. 😦

But as much as interchangeable needles and I don’t get along, DPNs are my bestest friends. I have started a lovely pair of fingerless mitts, yet another free Ravelry download, using stash yarn that is left over from a sweater I knitted many years ago.

My Lush Fingerless Mitts are not very far along.

I don’t think this yarn is even available any more. It’s Emerald Aran wool from the Blarney Woollen Mills in Blarney, Co. Cork, Ireland. I bought it on-line as a kit that contained the wool, a pattern for 3 different Aran sweaters, and knitting needles. I knitted one of the sweaters, this beautiful Aran lumber (which folks in the US would call a cardigan) with raglan sleeves,

I knitted the lovely Aran sweater on the right years ago.

I knitted the lovely Aran sweater on the right years ago.

for my older sister in the smallest size, so I had quite a bit of the wool left, 5 or 6 50g-balls at least. I can knit lots of fingerless mitts with the yarn left over from this sweater. 🙂

The cable and lace pattern used for the Lush mitts is very simple and easy to memorize. It took me about three seconds to know the pattern by heart. I haven’t assigned these mitts a recipient yet. They might be keepers. They will tell me where they belong when they are finished. Yes, my knitting speaks to me. 🙂