Monday, June 25, 2007

I Like Hats

Another pregnant friend, another umbilical cord hat. I whipped this one out in two days, which including frogging a whole section.

(I should also mention that said hat knitting happened after making my yarn orders and while lusting after various lace shawl patterns, so perhaps I wasn't quite as desperate as I let on. Then again, it was a quick knit.)

Pattern: Umbilical Cord Hat by Jennifer L. Jones in Debbie Stoller's Stitch and Bitch.
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino, held doubled.
Needles: Clover Bamboo, US size 9

I had this idea for the stripe section that I would make it variegated: I'd drop one strand of green and pick up one strand of purple, then go to two purple, then back to one each, then back to two green. I did in fact do this, but it looked terrible. So I yanked that out and made two purple stripes instead. I like the sportiness of the way it turned out.

I gifted the hat on Saturday for a baby due in August.

First Hat Mojo

The Yarn Harlot likes to talk about First Sock Mojo. I haven't knit socks yet, but I think first hat mojo must be something pretty special too.

After I knit all those bibs, I had a tidy little pile of leftover yarns.

So, I sat down, and knit a hat in the round.

Pattern: Umbilical Cord Hat by Jennifer L. Jones in Debbie Stoller's Stitch and Bitch.
Yarn: Crystal Palace Yarns "Bunny Hop" - 50% microacrylic, 42% micronylon, 8% rabbit angora
Needles: Clover Bamboo US size 7

This hat also went to the baby boy who is due in two to three weeks.

I have to confess that I got a bit tired of it as I knit. The yarn I chose was a little finer than the recommended yarn, which meant more stitches. Plus all those DPNs going every which way! But, as soon as it was finished, I was so delighted that I immediately cast on one for my sweetie. I think I'm sold on the beauty of hats now.

Baby Bibs

I knit these back in March, April, May - but only this last weekend did they go to the happy mamas-to-be, so only now do I feel free to post the pictures. This post is going to be on the picture-heavy side, since I'm terribly proud of them.

After killing my arm with the last baby blanket I made, I decided I needed to knit something easier and quicker for my other pregnant friends. I considered sweaters and various toys, but finally decided on bibs.

I looked and looked for a pattern for bibs that I liked, but couldn't find one. I didn't want something in garter stitch, and the flower petal bib, while lovely, was more complicated than I wanted. I finally decided to make my own pattern, so this is also my first design.

It's a pretty simple stockinette with a garter edge pattern, with I-cord ties. I traced a real baby bib on a piece of paper and knit more or less to those dimensions.

The yarn is Crystal Palace Yarns "Bunny Hop" - 50% microacrylic, 42% micronylon, 8% rabbit angora
The needles I used are Clover Bamboo, US size 6

These two went to a baby girl who was due last Wednesday ... haven't heard yet if she's made it into the world.

These two went to a baby boy who is due in two to three weeks.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Lace Shawls: Inspiration

While waiting for my yarn delivery, I thought I would pull together a list of all the shawls I want to knit. And then I got inspired by all the lovely mosaics that cosymakes makes, and decided to make a mosiac of those shawls that I lust after:

Mmm, pretty.

I must confess to filling a little weird about using other people's pictures ('cause I do a lot of photography, and despite the fact that I put my pics on the web, I feel pretty strongly about retaining my copyrights to them), so I've been very diligent about saying exactly where they are from so you can check out all the rest of their lovely work:

1. Kimono Shawl by Cheryl Oberle in her book Folk Shawls, pic from *Lia*.
2. Birch Shawl by Sharon Miller from Rowan Magazine 34, pic from guessica.
3. Shetland Triangle by Evelyn A. Clark from Wrap Style, pic from Brooklyn Tweed.
4. Flower Basket Shawl by Evelyn A. Clark from Fiber Trends, pic from iSeL Knits.
5. Sarcelle from Knitters Anonymous, pic from Kelp!.
6. Leaf Lace Shawl by Evelyn A. Clark from Fiber Trends, pic from cgespino.
7. Feather and Fan Comfort Shawl by Sarah Bradberry, pic by hello yarn. (It's her own handspun too. This pic just makes me swoon.)
8. Zephyr Shawl by JC Briar, pic from her website. The lace pattern looks the same as the Kimono Shawl, but is finely shaped to hang on the shoulders well.
9. Tuscany Shawl by Amy R. Singer from her book No Sheep for You, pic from Scoutj.

I also picked up Lace Style today and fell in love with the Lily of the Valley Shawl. And I realized that I missed including the Icarus Shawl and the Candleflame Shawl in my mosaic. So there are three more in my wish-to-knit list.

Well, I have the patterns for 1, 3, 4, 6, 7, and 8, and the patterns for 2 and 9 have been ordered. #1 is the next project to go on my needles!

And, speaking of which, the Knit Picks fingering weight Gloss yarn in Burgandy which is destined to be the Kimono shawl arrived today. (Along with the Options needle set and three skeins of lace yarn.)

As did the four skeins of Socks that Rock for Chevron Scarves.

Yarn love, indeed.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


It's possible that project-deprivation, that fear of having nothing on the needles, made me order too much yarn. I was also able to justify it because I am getting ready to do some travel knitting, and it's important not to run out while far from my familiar LYSes.

Anticipation part the first:

Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock destined to be two Chevron Scarves. (I'm going for more tone-on-tone than contrasty).

1. Nodding Violet 2. Thistle 3. Lagoon 4. Rolling Stone

Anticipation part the second:

1. STR Nodding Violet 2. STR Thistle 3. STR Lagoon 4. STR Rolling Stone 5. Berroco Ultra Alpaca (alpaca/wool) in Oceanic Mix 6. Swift and Ball Winder combo 7. KnitPicks Options Knitting Needle Set 8. Gloss (merino and silk) Fingering Weight in Burgundy 9. Alpaca Cloud Lace Weight in Iris Heather 10. Shadow Merino Lace Weight in Grapevine Heather 11. Shadow Merino Lace Weight in Sunset Heather 12. Elizabeth I Lace Scarves Pattern

1-4: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock destined to be two Chevron Scarves, as I mention above.
5: For a Clapotis. I'm listening to old episodes of Cast On, and her description of how much she loved her Clapotis (before it felted) convinced me that I needed to make one.
6-7: Simply because I need them.
8: Knitpick's wool/silk fingering blend in enough yardage to actually make the Kimono Shawl.
9-11: Three single skeins of Knitpicks' lace weight yarns to give them a try. I'm planning on knitting the lace scarves seen in #12.

All now winging their way to me in the mail! I don't think I'll be project-less for quite some time. Hoo-ray!

My Stash

I don't have a big stash. I buy yarn with projects in mind - there's only been one exception to that, when I purchased a skein of camel yarn less than a month ago, because I would be crazy to pass up 100% camel wool yarn, wouldn't I?

And I do generally use the yarn for the intended project, although two skeins (Tahki Donegal Tweed and Noro Korchoran) were not right for their intended projects. They are now orphaned, and I'm not sure what they'll end up becoming.

I have received some gifts of yarn from my knitting mentor - some handspun wool in a warm chocolate color, the gray baby alpaca that has graced these pages before, and a cashmere/Persian angora lace weight:

Add to the yarns I mention above the eight+ skeins of Plymouth Yarn's Encore 25% wool 75% acrylic that I'm using on my sampler blanket, and you have pretty much my entire stash.

(See more of my yarn portraits, and in bigger sizes, on my Flickr.)

So, three single skeins of worsted/bulky yarn that are orphaned. Worsted brown wool that would make a nice sweater, but I'm not ready to make a sweater. Cobweb black thread that is best saved for when I have a few lace projects under my belt. I tried, oh so valiantly, to use the alpaca, but when I noticed that the pattern called for two 1000 yard hanks, I realized my 650 yards of DK/sport weight was only going to give me a scarf. A lovely scarf, to be sure, but what I want is a lace shawl.

Suddenly I had nothing on the needles. I was even forced to pull out the Encore and cast on a new blanket square. I didn't like this being project-less thing. There was only one possible solution: buying new yarn.

Stay tuned. (Not for very long, I promise).

Monday, June 18, 2007

Umbilical Cord Hat

Pattern: Umbilical Cord Hat from Debbie Stoller's Stitch n' Bitch, adjusted for adult head
Yarn: Patons Decor 75% acrylic and 25% wool
Needles: Clover Bamboo US size 7 circular and DPNs

As I noted in the previous post, despite the lovely colors, I would not recommend this yarn, as it bled onto my hands and needles. I'm also a terrible yarn snob who prefers natural fibers, so I wouldn't recommend it for the acrylic content either, but my sweetie picked out the yarn, and the hat is for her.

Knitting the crown gave me a bit of trouble. I had cast on 100 stitches, and right before I started the crown, reduced it down to 96 so I could divide by 8. I was trying to decrease every other row (as all the patterns for adult hats I could find instructed), but the hat was just too tall and too pointy for my sweetie's head. The third time, when I just decreased every row, was the charm.

I was a little nervous about what would happen with the pooling after I started the decreases, but it's a small enough section that it looks fine.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Simple Hat WIP

This is my second hat, but I don't have pictures of the first hat uploaded yet, so I'll save the first hat mojo for a future post. I mention this now because, although I was a bit annoyed by the first I hat I knit (I don't care so much for DPNs), when I finished it I was so delighted that I pulled a skein of yarn (Patons Decor 75% acrylic and 25% wool) out of my partner's stash and immediately cast this on for her.

I was good and knit a swatch. I calculated how many stitches to cast on for her 21" head and proceeded to carry the project around with me and spend a good day knitting. I do like how portable hats are, especially since many of the projects I work on (cables and lace) require charts.

The first issue I encountered was the yarn. I like the colorway a lot and how it knit up (no pooling at all) but it bled up a storm, dying my hands and my bamboo needles purple. Lovely. Then I measured it ... and discovered that I had done a very gross mathematical error when figuring the number of stitches to cast on, and it was 7 inches too big. Yes, seven.

Frog, recalculate, cast on again, knit, and make my partner try it on repeatedly as I progressed.

This time there was pooling, but in an interesting lazy spiral pattern. My partner liked it, so I kept going.

It took three tries to finish off the crown, but is now done and just requires the good washing to rinse away any remaining dye before my partner can wear it. A picture of the finished hat to come.

Aran-style bag

I bought the yarn for this baby over a year ago.

Tahki Donegal Tweed, 100 % wool

I really love the color, the tweediness, and the slubiness of this yarn.

I really like to knit cables, and the more they look like old Celtic or Viking knotwork, the better. I love Aran sweaters, but I live in the Pacific Northwest, where sweaters are not really needed, and well, I don't feel ready to knit a sweater yet. So I decided I would make a bag in the Aran style, something big enough to carry a book and a wallet for when I wanted to take a walk or go read in a coffee shop for a little while.

I tried out many different cable patterns (see how handy that sampler blanket project is?) and settled on the patterns I would use. Swatching commenced. I first tried US size 7 needles, a little smaller than the recommended 8s because I want a tight fabric, but found the cabling too hard to work. I frogged the swatch and tried again in 8s.

I found the yarn a little hard to work with. It's fairly scratchy and the homespun style means it's one ply, without the sproinginess of plied yarn. The yarn itself tends to curl up in corkscrews as I pull it out of the wound ball, which is a bit annoying. The kicker, though, is that I can't get all the stitches I want in the pattern I've designed and keep it to the 16 inch circumference I'm headed for. The swatch pictured above is 17 inches, but I don't have quite all the elements I want in the piece.

I'm afraid this yarn may be destined to become something else. Any suggestions for 100 g of worsted weight 100% wool? It's 183 yards...

Monday, June 11, 2007

Swatching the Kimono Shawl

A few months back, my knitting mentor gave me a wonderful gift:

ten 20g balls of Schewe 100% Baby Alpaca yarn (which I understand has been long discontinued), about 650 yards

I've been dreaming of knitting a lace shawl. The yardage of this alpaca may only be enough for a stole, but is so soft that I'd love to have it in something I drape around me and my neck. After much looking around at various lace shawl patterns, I settled on the Kimono Shawl from Cheryl Oberle's Folk Shawls. (Which, incidently, is the first knitting book I bought, after my learn to knit book, because I'm ambitious like that.) I've knit a swatch:

The top half of the swatch was knit in US size 5 needles, the bottom half in size 6. I prefer the size 6 and am really liking the Addi Lace circular needles that I'm using. I'm really pleased with my swatch, because this is the first lace work I've done (although not the first openwork I've done.)

My gauge is pretty close to what is called for in the pattern, but I've only got 650 yards of yarn, not the 1000 called for in the pattern. My yarn is DK/sport weight, not lace weight. I'm trying to figure out how many stitches to cast on to make a final piece that is a good size to wear - not too short, not too narrow.

Book Review

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee Casts Off: the Yarn Harlot's Guide to the Land of Knitting
by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

The Yarn Harlot is my favorite knitting author. Everything she writes is so damn funny.

This book has the premise that Knitting is a destination, so it's written as a travel guide. There are sections like Consulates and Embassies (local yarn shops), History, Politics (circular vs. straight, natural vs. acrylic), Knitting Sports (marathon, time trial, synchronized sock making), Religion, and Extending Your Stay. I thought it was a fun and light-hearted book, but it's only for those who, well, really like to knit.

There are also some very good tips for how much knitting to pack for a trip: at least three projects (a small one for the carry-on, one for being out and about, and one for hanging out indoors). For road trips, she recommends projects on different size needles to give the hands a break, and notes that some folks can get carsick if reading patterns and knitting while in the car - pick easy projects that don't require charts. For the plane, you can carry on yarn, needles (preferably circular and bamboo), patterns, and a cloth tape measure, but needles, scissors, and metal tape measures must be in the checked luggage.

A few quotes I thought worth saving:

From time to time, non-knitters who don't understand that some upset and frustration are part of the process of knitting have accused me of not really liking knitting as much as I think I do. (I can sort of understand how they might think that I'm not enjoying knitting when I've just whipped a half-knit sock at the wall while letting fly a string of filthy language.) When I get over my initial shock and their statement, I realize the truth: I don't like knitting. I love it ... and when you love something, you don't just give up on it the minute it stops being fun. (Most of us wouldn't still have our kids if that were the case.) You keep pursuing passions such as parenting, marriage, and knitting even when they aren't fun because they somehow fuel the human soul. Simply having a passion is a deep payoff, offering something more ... and knitting is like that. (pgs 12-14).

From instructions on how to weed a stash, step 6 is:
If at any point you falter, feel dizzy, find yourself panicking, or discover that you are taking items back out of the [give-away] bag, repeat your stash weeder's mantra: I am a knitter of discerning taste. Yarn is meant to have a future, and yarn I don't love won't ever be knit. I am not getting rid of yarn; I am liberating it that it may achieve its full potential with another knitter. (pg 101).

This last one is the quote that inspired the name for this blog.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


Let me wax poetic about the skein of Noro Kochoran, color #1, that I purchased:

50% Wool, 20% Silk, 30% Angora

soft and gorgeous

look at all those lovely fibers

I was actually trying to get something more colorful than my usual neutral grays and browns... and somehow, I ended up with what it quite possibly the most neutral colored skein of Noro in the world. Still, pretty.

I bought it intending to make an Fan and Feather (Old Shale) scarf. I wound up a ball and cast on and knit several rows. It would be a dream to have around the neck, but the yarn is bulky enough that the scarf was too wide. I also realized that I'd probably seriously underestimated the amount of yarn I'd need too - one skein for a whole scarf? So I frogged it.

What would you do with one skein of Noro Kochoran? (Note: buying more yarn in a similar or different color is an option, but I'm not wanting to make a sweater or other large or fitted garment.)

Friday, June 8, 2007

Four More Squares

Remember this project?

After having put aside the sampler blanket for several months, I finally pulled it out again. I couldn't quite make myself knit the same square four times in the four different colors of yarn, but I did enjoy challenging myself with new cable patterns:

Cable pattern from St. Brigid sweater in Alice Starmore's Aran Knitting.

Bjars Hitches Cables pattern from Elsebeth Lavold's Viking Patterns for Knitting.

"Interlaced Twisted Rings" and "Twisted Linked Rings" cable patterns from Elsebeth Lavold's Viking Patterns for Knitting.

Book Review

Aran Knitting
by Alice Starmore

This lovely book is out of print, and is a hot (and expensive!) commodity amongst knitters, so it was difficult to get a hold of. My library doesn't have a copy, so it took some work to get a copy I could borrow through another library system. After finally getting a hold of it, I discovered one page (with charts!) was missing. Oh, the woe! What knitter would do this to another knitter?

The book begins with historical research into the origins of "Aran knitting." Starmore analyzes the Aran sweaters held in the National Museum in Dublin, and through that, is able to prove that Aran knitting developed on the Aran Islands of Ireland in the mid-20th century as a commodity to sell off-island for money. (Legends have held that it is an ancient practice, with family patterns, and that the patterns of the sweaters were used to identify the bodies of sailors who died at sea. This was blarney, but apparently good for sales).

Starmore was one of the first (if not the first) to develop methods for Celtic knotwork-style cabling (as opposed to just diamond-patterns and simple twisted cables), which she outlines in this book. The book then contains a a number of beautiful patterns for cabled sweaters and hats, with gorgeous photography taken on location in Ireland (see pics from the book here).

I find it a great shame that it is out of print, and I understand that copyright disputes will probably keep it that way, as I'd really like to own a copy. But I did copy the charts and am now swatching some of them for an Aran-style bag I intend to make. Out of tweeded blue Donegal wool, natch!

Some other knitting books that I'm enjoying and would happily recommend:

For cabling:
220 Aran Stitches and Patterns by Harmony Guide Staff, Collins, and Brown
Inspired Cable Knits by by Fiona Ellis
Cables Untangled by by Melissa Leapman

For lace (my new passion):
Folk Shawls by Cheryl Oberle
Traditional Knitted Lace Shawls by Martha Waterman

Knitting for Baby

You may recall the diaper bag I knit for my friend Mama J in the fall. After I had that project out of the way and still several months to go before the birth, I wanted to knit something for the bebe. So, a little teddy bear. I actually finished it while waiting in the hospital during the birth.

(Cashmere Teddy Bear from Simple Knits for Cherished Children by Erika Knight, Debbie Bliss baby cashmerino yarn).

And, since she's such a cutie:

My beautiful nieceling* is 16 hours old in this picture, 3/16/2007. My partner knit her this lovely blanket (garter stitch in an amazingly soft, plush nylon yarn) and is holding her in this picture.

* a word I made up to mean "the daughter of close friends"

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Celtic Plait Scarf

In March, I finished knitting the Celtic Plait scarf I started back in November - just in time for spring. It looks very good, and is very warm.

The yarn (Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran Tweed in Dusk) is 85% wool, 10% silk, 5% cashmere and has lovely slubs of cream, green, blue, and maroon. It's a little scratchy around the neck but was very nice yarn to work with. I knit until three balls of yarn were used up.

The pattern for the cabled Celtic plait is from the Harmony Guide's 220 Aran Stitches and Patterns. I added two stitches of reverse stockinette on each side of the cable. It curls slightly, but I'm a garter stitch snob, and didn't want a border. Knit in US Size 8 needles.

When I finished this, I wondered, What to do next? I really want to try my hand at lace knitting, but that's a serious investment of time in one piece. Then again, I've been fingering some lovely alpaca yarn at the LYS recently and I could make a lace shawl made of clouds, it's so soft. But this I've got some other fantastic Celtic knotwork cable patterns that I want to give a try ...


In February/March, I attempted another baby blanket for another pregnant friend, but my attempts ended in defeat. I just couldn't knit with that stiff cotton, it made my tendinitis so bad. In fact, I had to lay off the needles for several days to give my arm/shoulder/back time to heal. Which is a shame, because the blue/purple/lavender heather is so pretty.

Two more pics on my Flickr.

Three purpl-y strands of 3/2 mercerized cotton, (140 stitches, a 2 inch garter stitch border, three C3F cables up the center on a reverse stockinette background.) I think it looks pretty good, and I love the way the mix of colors heathers, but I just couldn't take the pain. I gave the cones of yarn to my partner, and after I worked up the courage, frogged it - but saved the used yarn just in case I could pick it up and work with it again at some point.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Baby Blanket

The baby blanket I knit for pregnant friend number 2 is probably my favorite project that I've knit so far - but the stiffness of the cotton yarn did a number on my tendinitis, so I'd never attempt it again. Well, at least not in that yarn.

It took me 5-6 weeks to knit. The yarn is three strands of 3/2 mercerized cotton. I switched out one strand more than once for the color striping. I pieced the pattern together - a 2" garter stitch border, my beloved leaf vine pattern (from Barbara G. Walker's Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns), and the rest is stockinette. I cast on 100 stitches, which wasn't enough for the yard width I was going for - it's close to 24 inches, not 36. Still, I'm pretty damn happy with it.

There are two more pics on my Flickr. I love the leaf vine pattern, and do intend to make some blanket squares in it at some point.