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In Other Stitches

Winter is a great time for us. Even though it has been unseasonably warm, there still isn’t enough daylight in a day to spend a lot of time outdoors.  So, we have been spending more time indoors, sitting by the fire, and playing games.  And I have been doing a fair amount of knitting.

Late Christmas present from hubby for an Owls sweater.  Looking forward to knitting a chunky sweater!  #knittersofinstagram #rowanyarn #ravelry

Last winter, I bought a sweater quantity of chunky Rowan wool to make an Owls sweater.  As this winter approached a few months ago, I decided I needed to have this sweater as soon as possible to help keep me warm.  The chunky yarn would not only be warmer, but it would also make the sweater a fast knit.  I started it way back in September, thinking it would be my Rhinebeck sweater, but then I got sidetracked.

Once all the Christmas knitting was finished and my projects re-prioritized, I picked Owls back up and charged ahead.

Well, it was more like start and stop because one thing I did not anticipate was how tired my hands would get from knitting with chunky yarn.  I could not do more than about an hour’s worth of knitting before I had to stop and take a break.

The only exception was the four hours I spent in a crowded, hot indoor pool building.  While I waited for my son to swim in 3 races that lasted about 30 seconds each, I was able to complete an entire sleeve.  I took lots of breaks, of course, but I think the heat and humidity did help keep my hands from getting as tired as they would in our 65 degree house.

Anyway, the original pattern is a pullover, but I decided a chunky sweater like this would be more wearable as a cardigan, so I modified the pattern a bit.  I’m not always super fastidious about taking notes when I alter a pattern, but I did make a few notes on my Ravelry project page.

Amazingly, this actually turns out to be one of the best fitting sweaters I think I have ever made.  The sleeves are just the right length, the collar is not too high for me, and it is not baggy at all.  The original sweater is meant to be close fitting.  I was worried that it might not translate to a cardigan well, but, happily, it is just right.  I’ll try to get some pictures of me actually wearing the sweater soon.  I just need to pick some buttons and find someone who is available and willing.

At the same time I was knitting Owls, I was also knitting Coastal Walk.  The dk weight Plucky Cozy yarn seemed tiny and light in comparison to the chunky Rowan wool.  This shawl practically flew off the needles.

This color, Strawberry wine, is impossible to capture accurately.  It’s a berry pinky purple and I love it.  What I did not love, however, is how much the dye bled when I soaked it for blocking.

This has happened to me before with red and pink yarn and it is also common with fabric in these colors as well.  I tried vinegar and that did not seem to do the trick, so I ended up changing the water probably about a dozen times before I gave up and went ahead and blocked it on a beach towel.  I’ll just have to try to remember not to wear it over a white shirt in the rain!

It was an interesting shawl to block as it had only two points and two curves.  I wasn’t sure my flexible wires would be strong enough or long enough here, so I opted to use just one pin at each point, and stretch it out with my hands as far as it would go. Then, I just let it dry overnight.

The result is an amazingly drapey and luxurious shawl/scarf thing that I want to wear all the time.  It must be the 10%  camel wool that did this because merino by itself is very bouncy.  The yarn stretched out quite a lot, which makes it just perfect for a shawl.

The dk weight will be extra warm, especially with the garter stitch border.  All in all, I think I am quite prepared for wintry weather now.  Perhaps winter has just been waiting for me to be properly attired before arriving to stay.

In the meantime, just in case those are not enough, I have picked up yet another sweater wip to try to finish this winter.

This is Chartreuse by Thea Colman in Brooklyn Tweed’s Shelter yarn, color Sweatshirt.  I’m working on the pockets right now.  This is a new process for putting in pockets for me, so I am looking forward to seeing how it turns out.  Stay tuned!  What are you working on?

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A Distraction

I took a little break from sock knitting last week to finish off a shawl.

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This is the Hap for Harriet pattern by Kate Davies. It’s an easy pattern and quite good for travel knitting or car knitting. It does require some good light when you get to the lace parts, so it is not good for knitting in the dark, but there really isn’t much call for that in my life lately. I used a new wool from Bare Naked Wools called Chebris. It’s a blend of wool and yearling mohair and it was lovely to knit with.

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As usual, the shawl was a bit scrunchy while I was knitting it, but it blocked beautifully. The stitch definition with this yarn is fantastic. I love how crisp it looks. It fluffed up a bit as well, and all those garter stitch ribs will trap lots of heat in the colder days to come.

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It was not too cold the day I finished and got these pictures taken, but I look forward to wearing it when the weather turns. Or, maybe I will give it away. I am not really sure yet. I do have one more skein of Chebris, so I could give this one away and make myself another one.

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But, I got a little distracted again and have already cast on another shawl in this super light and soft cashmere. Socks? What socks?

That Was Fast

Well, hello there! I hope all of you had a nice weekend and holiday, for those who live in the U.S. We had a great weekend, filled with lots of good food with dear friends, occasional walks, almost daily naps, and a tiny bit of Very Relaxed shopping (we did it on Wednesday and late Friday night). Like all good weekends, it went by really fast, even though it was twice as long as usual. We are slowly easing our way back into the swing of things and I am trying to figure out how much or little we will be doing in the next several weeks leading up to Christmas. But, we’ll talk about that later.

A holiday weekend wouldn’t be complete without any crafting, right? Well, there was a little bit of knitting this weekend, mostly done at night while watching whatever on TV while the husband was scanning the internet for shopping deals. As soon as I saw this new hat pattern by Kate Davies, I knew I just had to make it. Really, the time elapsed between me seeing the pictures on her blog and me starting the hat was less than 30 minutes.

Those who know me, know that I love snow. I love everything about snow; the way it looks when it is falling, the way it makes everything look new and beautiful, but most especially, I love how the whole world is hushed by the snow. I am a sucker for anything with a snowflake on it: decorations, wrapping paper, fabric, and, not lastly or leastly, knitting patterns.

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I have to say, this pattern is a winner. I especially love, love the crown design. It uses just two colors, so it is the easiest fair isle knitting a person could do. The pattern is easily recognizable once you’ve gotten through the first half of the first snowflake, so you are not likely to go very far without catching a mistake. There is one mistake that I didn’t catch until several rows later, but it isn’t likely to be one that anyone else notices, so it will stay. Now that it is done and blocked, I see that the yarn I used may not have been ideal. It’s a two ply Gotland yarn that I got from Blacker Yarns in the UK. A three ply yarn might have made the snowflakes stand out a bit more. Maybe, I’ll just have to make another one.

Initially, the weather gurus were predicting a fairly harsh winter for us with lots of snow, but they have since changed their minds. Well, whether it snows outside or not, there will be snowflakes on my head this winter. Let it snow!

Inevitable

It has been an unseasonably warm winter.  The boys are sad that we never got a snow day.  The snow pants and boots never got used and they really only wore their parkas two or three times.  Now, spring has come early.  Yesterday, we were all in shorts and t-shirts and this morning, I was awakened by a very loud bird singing outside our window.  Usually, I am really ready for spring after all the cold, but since we never had a winter to speak of, I feel sort of surprised by it.

Some things are inevitable in my life, though.  Just as the weather gets warm, I have a finished woolly project that won’t get use until the fall frosts come.

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This is the Sheep Heid hat by Kate Davies.  It’s made with undyed shetland wool from England.  This yarn is the real deal when it comes to sheepiness.  It’s perfect for fair isle, or in other words, really sticky, as in, when the strands touch each other, they stick together.  This yarn sticks together so well that some people don’t even weave the ends in.  I am not that person, but I am pretty confident that this hat will not come undone.

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I just love those fat sheep with their skinny legs, don’t you?  This hat was originally supposed to be a Christmas present for a friend.  Clearly, I missed that deadline, but since I did not tell her about it, I don’t think she’ll mind it being late.   Except that it’s about 75 degrees outside and a wool hat is probably not something she wants to wear right now.

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It is a funny fact that most knitters begin winter projects in the fall and summer projects in the spring.  If you are a really quick knitter, this is no problem.  You’ll probably have that sweater done and be able to use it for a few months before the next season starts.

Me?  It’s not that I am not a quick knitter.  It’s just that I have a Lot of different projects.  I will finish some within the season it is meant for, but others just miss it.  But, that’s ok.  This means I’ll always have something ready and new when the next season starts.  Like now.

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Last year, I spent the whole summer working on a nice lacey sweater to go over some sleeveless dresses I had bought.  I finished it in September, just when it was beginning to get chilly and the season for going sleeveless had passed.  Now, I can look forward to wearing it soon.

As soon as I lose a few pounds, that is.  It is also inevitable that once the winter is over and I start wearing warm weather clothes, I find that I have added a little insulation to myself over the winter.  Unfortunately, it is also inevitable that when the weather changes someone gets sick.  Right now, it’s the boys.  And I have a sinking feeling that I know who will be coming down with it next, probably the day before we leave on our cross-country vacation.  It is inevitable.

Fair Isle Addiction

Over the weekend, I realized that I’ve been posting mostly about kitchen topics.  It’s not that I have given up crafting.  It’s just that the things I have been doing are all rather in that limbo state–you know, the one in which you work for hours and hours and yet the thing doesn’t seem to change.  For example, I made it past the highly interesting and entertaining (albeit a little anxiety inducing) colorwork part of my sweater.

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That yoke seemed to fly by, even as I was increasing the stitch count to over 400.  Then, I divided for the bottom part where it is just 13 inches of straight knitting in one color, and progress seems to crawl by now.  Even though I can knit this part with my eyes closed, in the dark, or even upside down (actually, I haven’t tried this, but it might make the project more interesting), I do not seem to have made much more than a few inches progress over the course of the last few weeks.  To put this in perspective, it only took me a week and a half to do the colorwork yoke.  And now three weeks have passed and I only have 4 inches of the body.

Of course, this could have to do with the fact that once I finished that fascinating yoke, I immediately craved more fair isle.  It’s like an addiction, fair isle.  There is a mesmerizing quality to watching your knitting come alive with color.  Plus, once you start knitting with two hands and multiple balls of yarn, it’s hard to get up from your chair.  You become a kind of fair isle prisoner-captivated with your mind by the color and restrained physically by all the balls of yarn in your lap and the fear that if you get up, you’ll lose your place and have to rip back-horror!

But really, how can you say no to such a project as this?

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It is the pretty Peerie Flooers hat from Kate Davies and I just love it.   It’s a great pattern for using up leftover bits of sock yarn, though that might limit your color choices.  Also, in case you didn’t notice, a pumpkin makes an excellent approximation of a head for blocking a hat.  I tried taking photos of myself wearing the hat, but the camera kept getting in the way.  Here it is all flat.

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I think my fair isle could be more even, but overall, I am very happy with it.  Next, I think I might make the matching mittens.

The other day, the husband told me he wouldn’t say no to a fair isle sweater.  How is a knitter supposed to respond to this statement? Part of me got all excited and I actually started to go through all my yarn to see what I had that would be appropriately manly.  Then, I began to think of the scope of the project–a 44 inch fair isle sweater that was not for me.  hmmm…what’s a knitter to do?