things i make for me: sculling cowl

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Wrapped three times. So light and warm. Very happy to add to my "neck adornment" collection, especially with this perfect deep pink color (the only pink I wear, but I wear a fair amount of it!)

Ravelry Project Page
Pattern: Sculling Cowl by Anne Hanson
Yarn: Fibre Company Meadow in “Cosmos”
Needles: Size 5 Knitpicks circulars
Time to knit: Not actually that long (a couple of weeks), but then I had to pick out the cast on AND the original bind off to bind both off more loosely and that took me nearly as long as knitting the cowl did!)

I’ve been on a bit of a mission to add to my collection of “neck adornment” pieces. I get cold easily, and I love being able to wrap a shawl or a cowl around my neck/shoulders for a bit of extra warmth and color in the cooler months. One color that I wear quite a bit as an accent color is deep, dark pink – I’m really not much of a pink person except for this particular pink (because as a pale strawberry-blondish person with pinkish skintones, “regular” pink is absolutely hideous looking on me)! I knew I wanted a cowl in this color, but it took me awhile to find the perfect yarn; everything was either too far into the purple (I mean, I like purple a lot, but it wasn’t what I was aiming for here!), or not deep enough pink, too harsh looking…just something. The Fibre Company Meadow yarn in “Cosmos” turned out to be perfect!

cowl-in-progress

I enjoyed knitting with it, though it was a bit “stiffer” than I’m accustomed to, given all of the plant fiber content. I don’t normally knit with plant fibers, as my hands get sore when I knit with yarn that has no bounce/elasticity (I’m a wool girl all the way!), but the Meadow blend was pretty nice, and at loose lace gauge, it wasn’t too bothersome for my hands. I did have one problem that I think was a direct result of the yarn, though, and that was my cast-on. I used a Twisted German Cast-On, which for me is normally quite stretchy, but it turns out that for me at least, doing a Twisted German Cast-On with fine, inelastic yarn being knit at a loose gauge resulted in a cast-on that was simply WAY too tight. You can kind of see how it pulled in on one side in this picture:

Cat meets Cowl.

Since there’s no point finishing a project if it’s not going to be wearable, I set about picking out that cast on stitch by stitch so that I could bind it off loosely. With over 300 sts, each with a twist around their base (because that’s how the Twisted German Cast-On works), this was…tedious. It took a very long time.

Picking out a Twisted German Cast-On stitch-by-stitch is...tedious. But I want this cowl to be wearable, so.

I then bound off incredibly loosely. And then realized that now my new, very flexible bound off edge was looser than the other bound-off edge. You can probably guess where I’m going, here…I picked out the old bind-off stitch by stitch (which was at least much easier than picking out the cast-on!), and re-bound off, very loosely, to get an edge that matched the one I’d just created. All told, I spent nearly as much time fixing the cast-on and bind-off edges of this cowl than I did knitting the whole thing! Oh well. It’s all worth it, for the finished project.

Finally finished and blocked! It's so light!

I think the Sculling Cowl pattern is great – very easy to memorize, and it looks quite pretty. But if you want to make one, I’d highly recommend doing some sort of provisional cast-on, so that you can do matching bind-offs on both edges of the cowl. It’s such a long cast-on/bind-off edge that you have to be very careful to keep your gauge loose. (This might not be such a problem with a bouncy wool blend, but I can’t say for sure!). I think that if I knit another infinity-scarf cowl, I’ll try one that’s knit long and then grafted together, just to get a break from the super-long cast-on/bind-off business…perhaps the Imogen Cowl would be a good one! We’ll see!

work-in-progress: M’s red stripe pullover

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One thing I’ve always liked to do on this blog is to share more of the “behind the scenes” work of creating knits. It’s maybe not the smartest thing to do if my desire is to publish patterns, because the more I say about how I’m putting things together here, the less likely it is that anyone will feel the need to actually BUY a pattern, but it’s just how I roll…I’m a teacher at heart. (And honestly, it’s a bit goofy of me to take pattern publication/designer status into account given that I’ve not managed to actually put out a pattern since M was born!)

So anyway, here’s the current work-in-progress: M’s red stripe pullover:

Makin' a set-in sleeve, top-down.

I was able to spend some time yesterday morning reading through the “Top Down” book, and then creating the sleeve cap of the first sleeve. I’m pretty tickled with how nice it looks! And I think it’s going to be a nice fit on M, though I need to get her to try it on for me to be sure of that.

Before the sleeve, I finished the body with a split garter hem, slightly longer in back than in front (much like the hem I put on M’s Cobbler vest, which she recently rediscovered and then wore for 4 straight days!). I edged the garter stitch with the contrast-color, which I think looks really neat:

Taking a work-break for some contrast-color i-cord bind-off action.

I also want to show off the pockets, which are knit-in; I knit 2 stockinette flaps (for two pockets), each with a purled stitch 1 stitch in from the edge on each side, in the contrast color, then cast on new stitches and continued the body in the round. I then used that purl stitch (which is a very easy-to-spot knit stitch on the wrong side!) as a guide for picking up and knitting together with the body stitches until I got to the bottom of the flap, which was knit into the body.

Peeking into the pocket.

It looks pretty spiffy from the wrong side, too:

Pocket wrong-side. It's a flap that's knit in along the edges.

While I was working on the body, the #Loop2Loop hashtag was going around Instagram, so I took a video of how I knit. (You’ll have to follow the link to see it – I can’t figure out how to embed it here – I think because my Instagram is private, it won’t actually do an embed? Maybe I should make a public Instagram account for my knit blog/design stuff anyway?) Anyway, here’s how I hold my yarn:

Since you can't really see this in the video due to the angle, here's how I hold the yarn in my left hand: tensioned over my ring finger, kinda hooked under my middle finger, then I use my pointer+thumb to guide the yarn around the needle.

It’s a goofy pseudo-lefty style, where I tension the yarn over my left ring finger, then kind of hook it with my left middle finger, then use my pointer and thumb to loop it over the needle. Sounds kind of inefficient, but if you watch the video, you’ll see that I’m actually pretty darned fast! The exception to that is colorwork. It’s not that I can’t do it, but it definitely kills my speed, because I *cannot* do two-handed knitting. My right hand is just like, “NOPE.” when it comes to doing any sort of yarn manipulation (and believe me, I have TRIED!). So instead I do the same basic technique, but end up basically carrying one yarn hooked with my pointer and the other hooked with my middle finger. I envy the folks I’ve seen who can carry one yarn in each hand and zip through colorwork that way, but despite lots of trying, I’m just not one. For an ostensibly right-handed person (in that I write with my write hand), my right hand is awfully useless. I don’t know if it’s all the violin training, or if I really truly am an unbalanced ambidextrous person (I suspect both, actually), but for fine-motor stuff, with the exception of writing, I’m lefty all the way.

top-down babyStripes!

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I mentioned this wee cardigan in my last post, but thought it deserved a post all to itself. Here’s the babyStripes! cardigan I knit for my UU minister’s new baby:

babyStripes!

Unlike the previous…3? 4?…babyStripes! cardigans, this one was knit top down. I’ve fallen madly in love with knitting sweaters from the top-down whenever possible, and it’s especially nice with the Stripes! sweaters, because you can control what colors end up near the face. For this one, I wanted the red to be the first color, because I wanted the full rainbow progression from top to bottom.

neckline

I just can’t get enough of the corrugated rib + vikkel braid combination! So nice. As with earlier versions of this design, the colorful stripes in the yoke are garter ridges rather than stockinette. It makes such a cool texture.

rainbow garter ridges in the yoke

Despite the tiny size of the sweater, I wanted to do add pockets to it – they’re totally useless for a newborn (or anyone else) but they look cute!

tiny pocket :)

They have an i-cord edge and I did the colorful stripes in garter just for the pocket to add a little texture. It makes me happy.

bottom hem closeup

The bottom hem took some math, because I didn’t want it to pull in at all, but the gauge for the sweater, the corrugated rib, and the i-cord bind off were all somewhat different. But hey, I like math, so that’s ok…and when I write up the pattern, I’ll do the math for everyone else :)

i'm madly in love with tubular bind-offs.

The sleeves are edged with a tubular bind-off, which looks very pretty and is also wonderfully stretchy:

stretchy tubular bind-off.

I’ll close with a picture of the inside of the sweater – I just love the way the rainbow stripes look from the wrong side (though I’m not 100% thrilled with the look of the knit-in pocket from the wrong side – I’ve improved my technique with that on M’s Red Stripe sweater, at least!)

inside the sweater

I was able to give Rev. Emily the sweater just before the start of the Solstice service, and got to see her wee one wearing it at the next service. It makes me so happy to be able to welcome babies into the world with happy rainbow sweaters! I just wish I had more hands/more time so that I could knit more of them. But perhaps if I actually finish writing up the pattern, I can at least help OTHER people knit more of them!

New Year, New Knitter!

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Long time, no post. The last couple of months of 2015 were filled with sickness and a whole lot of end-of-semester-crazytimes, but some good things, too. Like, for example, the fact that there are now TWO knitters in my household!

Costume girl knits. She's really quite good! (We helped clear out a room at her school this morning and she found this hat and got to keep it.)
(Look how she holds her yarn like a total pro!)

 

M has been asking me to teach her how to knit for almost as long as she’s been able to talk, and I’d been telling her, “maybe when you’re 4” all along. Well, guess who turned 4 on Thanksgiving Day this year? I made good on my promise, and for her birthday, I gave her a set of Madtosh Unicorn Tails in her favorite colors, along with a spool knitter:

She got a spool knitter and some unicorn tails from me. Wish me luck - she's been begging be to teach her about knitting for almost 2 years now, and I told her we could try when she was 4. I keep my promises! :)

 

She set about learning to make i-cord pretty quickly…

Spool-knitting! I practiced a bit and then gave her a lesson and she's doing pretty ok!

 

…but complained to me that it wasn’t “REAL” knitting. Kiddo wanted needles, not pegs! Grandma came through on that front, and gave her a set of size 10 needles for Solstice. I was a little skeptical that she’d be able to use them (I mean, she JUST turned 4 – that’s really early!), but she picked it up surprisingly quickly that very day:

She's knitting!!! She wants to knit a scarf for Grandma Barb. She can do about 7 stitches in a row before her hands get tired and she asks me to take over.

 

You know what the sweetest thing is, though? She decided that her first project would be a (garter stitch) scarf for Grandma! She helped me pick out some yarn from my stash (a dark green somewhat variegated Cascade Pastaza), and I cast on stitches for her, and have been helping her from time to time. The scarf is about 6″ long at this point, and probably about 80% my knitting and 20% M’s knitting, but she’s getting better at doing more and more stitches in a row before her hands get tired.

M has also helped me design a new pullover for her to wear (the yarn is Beaverslide’s 2-ply Sport/Sock weight, which I adore):

Maddy helped me design a sweater for her, and I cast on today! Top-down set-in sleeves, thick red/thin pink stripe body with pockets, pink sleeves with red elbow patches. This is gonna be AWESOME! Yarn is Beaverslide Sport/Sock.

 

I’m using Elizabeth Doherty’s Top-Down set-in sleeve approach, and the plan we drew up involves a striped (wide dark red stripes with thin pink heather stripes), slightly A-line body, with solid (pink heather) sleeves, contrasting (dark red) elbow-patches, and of course, POCKETS. I’d been wanting to try out the techniques in the Doherty book anyway, and top-down has the wonderful benefit of try-on-ability:

So far, so good! I'm kind of in love with top-down knitting for its try-on-ability.

 

I’m actually quite a bit further along than this at this point – I’ve already knit past the pockets and am almost ready to do the bottom hem. I came up with (I mean, I doubt it’s truly original, but I made it up as I went) a neat way of adding pockets when knitting top-down sweaters, which I used on a tiny top-down version of the babyStripes! cardigan that I knit for one of the ministers at my UU church (I should write up a post about that cardigan! And maybe actually finish the pattern so that other people can knit them too!). Anyway, I used that method on M’s new sweater and gave the pockets a pink lining and they’re awesome.

I think this sweater is going to be SO great, and I kinda want to make myself one. (M also wants me to make myself one, because she loves our matching sweaters – I wonder how long that will remain true?). I’d probably end up using Cascade 220, but I’m so madly in love with the fabric created by the Beaverslide yarn that I might even be willing to knit a me-sized sweater at 6sts/inch. But I’m very seriously trying to minimize yarn purchases and knit from stash as much as possible this year (this shouldn’t actually be HARD – I have a ridiculous stash!) and am not sure I actually have appropriate amounts of TWO colors of either of those two yarns, so we’ll just have to see. Though I suppose getting a couple of skeins of contrast color yarn with a known and soon-to-be-completed project in mind is not such a big stash-crime.

My other goal for the year, since I’m on that note, is to actually get my backlog of patterns written up/finalized/published. I’ve not been able to move as quickly on them as I’d’ve wanted to these past few years because, you know, parenting and finishing a Ph.D and starting a full-time faculty job and all that, but I really want them out there. I’m just a bit torn on how to do it, because I’m noticing that I basically have quite a few parent-child matching sets in mind (including, possibly, this pullover I’m currently knitting for M and the hypothetical one for me, but also the Stripes! cardigans, the garter rib cardigans, a kid’s version of Sullivan and also a tunic based on that same nupp pattern, that garter-yoked/kangaroo pocket pullover I knit for M awhile back plus a grown-up version, perhaps a re-release of Vahtralehed as a top-down cardigan with a matching kid’s one, the Curvilinear set of hat/mitten patterns for kids and adults, and a few other things that I have in my little design notebook) and it seems like they could be a book or collection or something but I have no idea how to make that actually happen, logistically. Basically, on the designing front, I’m great at coming up with stuff and figuring out how to knit it, and absolutely horrendous on the more entrepreneurial/self-promotion/logistical stuff. Oh, and also kinda horrible at the “knitting things up in a timely manner” front, because while I’m a pretty fast knitter, this ain’t my full time gig! I’m open to any and all advice on what to do with these design ideas my brain keeps generating.

things i make for maddy: octopus costume!

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Happy (now belated) Halloween from Octopus Girl!

Octopus girl wore her octopus-button sweater, too :)

We actually didn’t end up going trick-or-treating on ACTUAL Halloween, because I had a migraine that day and went to bed right after dinner (and then slept straight through until 7:30am the next morning, with a whole extra hour due to the time change – if ever there’s a time to rest off a migraine, the end of DST is it!). But the previous weekend, we took M (along with, it seemed, every other child between 1 and 12 in the entire greater ROC area) to the Genesee Country Village for an early “trick or treat” event, and she got to frolic about as her cephalopod alter-ego, “Octopus Girl”.

Octopus girl goes trick-or-treating at Genesee Country Village.

I couldn’t be any more thrilled with how well it turned out, especially since I was utterly flying by the seat of my pants, with a limited amount of fleece (the leftovers from M’s superhero cape, last year). It took an absolute marathon of sewing on a borrowed machine (hooray for neighbor-friends!), but it all worked out! It’s the first hood I’ve ever sewn, and I drafted the pattern for it myself (loosely using M’s hooded jacket as a guide). I googled “octopus eyes” to get a sense for what their eyes look like (the answer: really creepy!) and I’m just tickled with how well my fleece version of them came out. M insisted on having “sucker pads”, which I made by cutting out little circles (well, more accurately, “circle-ish shapes” – I was getting pretty tired of cutting fleece by that point!) of red fleece, the same color as the backs of the tentacles, and then sewed them on with zig-zag top-stitching. For how sloppy they are if you look closely, they work awfully well from a distance!

M had an absolute blast at the Genesee Country Village. She didn’t quite “get” trick-or-treating, but she had a lot of fun trying out mini-golf for the first time:

Octopus girl tries mini-golf.

You’ll of course notice that she wore her garter rib cardigan with the octopus buttons…the perfect completion to her “Octopus Girl” disguise :) I swear I’m planning to get that cardigan pattern out to test-knitters soon; this has just been such an intensely busy semester (especially now that M’s doing violin and swim) that I’ve not been able to find time.

One last photo to end this post…it turns out I made the hood oversized enough that *I* can be Octopus Girl, too!

Look who else can be an octopus! :)

Hope everyone’s November is off to a good start!

what i did on my way home from rhinebeck

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What I did on the way home from Rhinebeck. (A hat, from my soon-to-be-released pattern, for my friend's son. Just making chin ties, then I can mail it off!)

My dear friend Kris, without whom I don’t know how I would’ve survived those first few months after M was born, asked me if I could knit up a hat for her little boy J like the ones I’d knit for M and her cousins, so of course I said “yes!”. I had her send me J’s measurements (she gave me very helpful feedback on the draft of the pattern, whose instructions for measuring were a bit confusing!), and then pick out the color of Malabrigo Worsted that she wanted and have it sent to me. She chose “Glazed Carrot”, which is an incredibly rich shade of orange. (She also snuck in a skein of “Bobby Blue”, which is my favorite Malabrigo blue, as a “thank you” – K knows me well!). The way to Rhinebeck was consumed by sewing on buttons and sewing blanket squares together, but that left the return trip open for yarn-winding and hat-knitting, so I packed the skein in my car bag. M really enjoyed “helping” me wind the ball (mostly by insisting to “check” it and pet it every few minutes):

Quality control check from my backseat assistant :)

Once the yarn was all wound up, I cast on. The hat is knit top-down, so it looks like this after a few rows:

Hat beginnings.

By the time we made it home, the hat was almost finished! (There’s a reason my first name for the pattern was “car trip hat” – you can knit the whole hat in the time it takes to drive to Rhinebeck from Rochester, NY). Kris had requested i-cord chin ties, because J’s at the age where he likes to yank hats off his head, so once I’d finished the i-cord bind-off, I picked up 3 stitches from the back side of said bind-off, and created an i-cord from there:

Closeup of chin tie attachment.

It looks very nice from the right side:

Closeup of i-cord bindoff and chin tie

I can’t decide whether I should put instructions in the pattern for adding i-cord chin ties. It’s so easy to do that probably folks can figure it out themselves (after all, I just described how to do it here in this post – I’m not so good at the “keeping things under wraps” part of designing, eh?), and I’m trying to keep the hat and mitten patterns to one page each, though that may be pushing it.

i-cording away.

I’m always torn on what warrants a mention in a pattern (or even what merits a pattern at all), because I’m the sort of knitter who likes to figure stuff out and modify things (and is confident in doing so), and so sometimes I see patterns for things that I’m like “who needs a pattern for that??”, but then those patterns sell well, so what do I know? I just don’t know what people look for in patterns, since I’m not a big user of them, myself. My preference as a pattern writer is to be a teacher, and include information about “how to” and “why” whenever possible, but that leads to long patterns, which I know not everyone loves, and which definitely are a no-go when it comes to anything outside of self-publishing.

Anyway, the point of this rambling is to say that, assuming this hat fits little J, I’m just about ready to finalize the pattern for self-publishing. I think. There’s a teeny part of me that wants to knit one up in SHELTER and see if I could publish it through Brooklyn Tweed or something, but…I dunno. What say you all, dear readers?

Rhinebeck 2015

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She's teaching me how to dance like she does :)

It’s hard to believe that this was M’s FOURTH time coming with us to Rhinebeck, but it was! Oh, how she’s grown…from this:

madrigal: 47 weeks

to this:

Madrigal and her Monster

to this:

somebody didn't want to cooperate

to that dancin’ fool in the photo at the top of this post! While it is not very easy to “do Rhinebeck” with an often sleep-deprived and therefore grouchy (because hotel sleeps = hard!) kiddo in tow, I am so, so glad that I get to share this part of my life with my daughter.

Poor sleepy baby!

I don’t think I could ask for a more wool-loving child…

Happy kiddo with her pan flute.

…who sported no fewer than 5 different handknit items from mama (her hat and mittens, her cowl, and her new sweater and blanket, both of which I finished on the drive down from Rochester!) at Rhinebeck, where, just like last year, my girl was ROCKIN’ OUT to that pan-flute band! She was so, so happy to get her very own pan flute!

Maddy gets a pan-flute of her very own

She loved getting to frolic in the leaves under the “made-famous-by-the-internet” trees at the base of the hill at the festival.

Picking up leaves.

She’s her mama’s daughter, and LOVES fall, and picking up every pretty maple leaf she sees:

Showing off her leaves.

And sometimes she even gives them to me :)

My new Ravelry button, with a leaf from M.

We took advantage of those lovely benches on the hill to take FO photos of TWO new projects, both of which are for M and both of which I’d finished on the 5 hour drive down to Rhinebeck (the drive, by the way, is insanely gorgeous this time of year!). Here’s a closeup of the octopus buttons (picked out by M), which I sewed onto her cardigan in the car:

Octopus button closeup.

And the whole sweater, for good measure:

Showing off for the camera :) #rhinebeck2015 #latergram

I’m working on the pattern (for both the kid and grown-up versions) for that cardigan, and hope to send it off to test-knitters SOON! (I’m also finalizing the pattern for her hat & mitten set, and that also should be coming soon!). M loved being able to wear matching sweaters again – but as she noted, we weren’t TRULY matching, because I hadn’t knit her a rainbow shawl of her very own yet ;)

It was a bit too blustery to manage taking photos of the Mitered Crosses blanket all by myself:

A bit blustery for blanket photos!

But thankfully I had a helper, in the form of the blanket’s grateful recipient:

Much easier to show off the blanket with an assistant! M is pretty stoked about her blanket!

I didn’t do much shopping at Rhinebeck – that’s never really why I go, but it is especially hard when I have M with me, because staying too long in one place (unless it’s in front of the pan-flute band!) tends to trigger a meltdown. My one yarn purchase this year was a pair of Bartlettyarns Swirls packs, one in blues for me and one in purples for M. I didn’t take pictures of them (I’ll take some later), but I do have plans for them! Alas, that purchase resulted in a mega-meltdown outside Building B. My only other purchases were the pan-flute for M, and a t-shirt for her, too (I adored the design for this year, and next year’s looks neat, too). I think that some amount of shopping will be easier next year, when she is a little more mature and not using the stroller anymore (at least, I hope not – that poor thing is really wearing out from all the miles we’ve put on it!).

But what I really go to Rhinebeck for isn’t the shopping – it’s the people. I was so, so happy to get to meet up with my dear friend Mick!

Me and Mick! We've been blog buddies FOREVER (ok, since 2006, but that's almost the same thing!) but Saturday was the first time we've been able to meet up in person. I love this lady!

We’ve been blog-buddies FOREVER (ok, since 2006, but that’s almost the same thing!), and in her, I’ve found such a wonderful kindred spirit. These days, we probably chat more about teaching writing than about knitting! I’m just so glad to have Mick in my life. Our Rhinebeck hug was YEARS in the making! I saw so many other wonderful friends at Rhinebeck (though neglected to document any of those meetups with photos), and missed running into just as many…it’s hard to do meet-ups with the kiddo!

We end our Rhinebeck trip each year with a visit to the Walkway Over the Hudson…the view is just AMAZING!

Looking up the Hudson.

M wasn’t incredibly cooperative about taking pictures on the Walkway this year…

Someone (well, OK, three someones) didn't get enough sleep on this trip and needed LOTS of snuggles.

…so we didn’t really get to recreate the “mama holding M on the Walkway” shots of previous years; this is the best we got!

At least one of us is smiling at the camera!

At least one of us was smiling for the camera! Goodbye, Hudson River Valley – it’s a privilege to get to visit each year!

Saying goodbye to the Hudson River Valley.

I’ll be writing a guest post this week on Knittin’ Little about Rhinebeck with littles, and will have more photos of some of the kid-specific stuff we did while at the festival, so be on the lookout for that!