Baby Hats Project WIP

'Making hats this weekend to compliment the latest little Tomten. The first one is "Troll" by Gabriela Widmer-Hanke.

Remember what I said about putting that Rowan purelife Wool together with white...check out this pairing in worsted Berroco Ultra Alpaca "Winter White"...

Or a blue dk version in Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino...

Then there's this one using a vintage Patons pattern from a collection called "Baby's Very First Woolies". Its in remnant fingering weight Viola sock "Blossom".
'Love my jerry-rigged tiny "straights" using dpn's and rubber stitch holders!

Tonight's efforts will be put against another vintage design, again in fingering weight, this time Koigu KPM in the evocatively named colourway "1010".  (Kind of matches the name of the collection from which this pattern comes - its called "Layette".

Hope you're having a good weekend - obviously I am! Thanks for dropping by!


Tomten Coat/Yarn Love

First of all - this Yarn! Fantastic!  Big! Round! "Meaty" and with bona fide sheepiness scent too yet easy on the hands to knit.

There are 5 undyed colourways available in this yarn - my choice this time being "Steel Grey Suffolk 954" and as you can see it looks so rich against brown but then look at it on a cream background and the white in it pops calling the Grey in there to the forefront along with it.

Knit up in garter stitch there's no stiffness, it feels substantial but also light and easy on the hands. It will be cozy and easy to wrap around a new baby despite the thickness of the garter fabric.

Its still in need of buttons - I'm hoping whatever I get will be able to infer gender while also being of a naturally occurring material (Mother of Pearl, Wood, Horn?) to best compliment the wool yarn.

Of course the pattern is genius - I'll likely gush further on that aspect in my FO post once the buttons are on and I'm ready to wrap it up and send it off to the new parents.  Baby is still almost a month from due date so I've got time to also toy with lining it in flannel - maybe something with a cute print if I can find some.

This being the third Tomten I've worked up and modified I'm amazed I'm still intrigued by the pattern's possibilitites. 'Not sure how much of that is prompted by how this particular yarn/pattern combination has come together. There is such satisfaction when all the elements "click" isn't there?

Meanwhile I've been working on little hats to include in this new baby package - more on that tomorrow!


Gus in his Doghouse FO by Susan B. Anderson

Pattern: Dog in the Doghouse by Susan B. Anderson
Source: Topsy Turvy Inside Out Knit Toys (from Local Library)
Yarn: Mondial Merino Special and Remnants On Hand
Needles: 3.75
Start: January 19 Finish: January 22, 2015
Modifications: Changed the Dog's Face and Used His Name Over the Doghouse Door

First a small disclaimer - I am not in love with how the doggie's face looks. The one in the pattern is much cuter but I'm going for something that looks like their dog "Gus" rather than a generic doggie face. Their pooch is a beagle/pug cross that has a very "puggish" puss. Much like this. So that is what I tried to replicate.
The instructions in the pattern stipulate that the head of the dog should be placed forward of the top of the body - likely to ensure it fits inside the doghouse so I did that but again, it creates something less than appealing to my eye at least.
I added this embroidered tail after the fact - again attempting to make it as "Gus-like" as possible.

The house has a kind of sloppy look about it - I think the designer's idea was to invoke something knocked together by a kid for his dog rather than a pristine puppy palace so I went with that too - right down to a kind of scrawled lettering over the door.

Whatever the details, the idea is super cute and making it look like their dog was fun to do and will no doubt be a great hit when its opened but also, I hope as baby grows.
I haven't made a toy in ages. I do enjoy all the quick shaping instructions and seeing how the designer uses them to invoke the image of something or someone. Fun! Just like knitting should be. Thanks for dropping by!


Fancy Flat Cables and the Dutch Masters

The pattern for Hawser promises...
"striking over sized cables on a ground of double moss visually lengthen(ing) the torso and a yarn over technique allow(ing) them to lie flatter than usual."
The modelled shots Darling Daughter helped me with last weekend illustrated for me that Hawser is visually lengthening me too much. (It looks a bit long!) So I'm going to re-block it and take new photos this weekend. (A real side-benefit of blogging, taking photos shows me how a garment really looks on me rather than just how I choose to "see" it. The camera doesn't lie.)

As for the "special technique" used in the cables, its fantastic.

As pre-blocking photos attest, the 10 stitch cables are round and perky-cable-puckery...

Each cable cross includes a yarn over prior to working each half of the cable. These are dropped on the next row, give a bit of ease but then make a big impact as they relax after being wet.

Look at them here along the folded side! And yet it works without making the cables look pressed into featureless flatness.
Quite amazing.

Beyond making a visual impression the cable treatment also allows the piece to drape unlike any cabled sweater I've made and worn. There isn't the slightest hint of stiffness or bulk about wearing it despite the fact it has ten inches of positive ease around the hips.

Basking in the glow of how happy I am with this third BT sweater I've made in recent months I was just tickled to sit down last evening with my tea and laptop to find the latest BT Look Book was up.

Once again there's a video documenting the development of the collection - or rather the "History of Art" designs. Deep, rich colours in a surprisingly darker-than-usual setting Jared explains he's seeking to present pieces to...
"...Inspire knitters...to delight and surprise people who are going to be knitting the patterns."
I don't yet know if any of the pieces will find their way onto my needles, there's too much to take in all at once, but I'm already inspired both by the new collection and my happiness with how pieces from past collections are working for me, my knitting and my wardrobe right now.

Meanwhile I've been a busy knitter on other fronts beyond Hawser.  More on that tomorrow. Thanks for dropping by today!


Three Sleeved Sweater?

Three sleeves, that's what Hawser required of me over the weekend. (And a good deal of fortitude not to start something new despite Hawser's persistent presence in the WIP column!)

I finished the first early Saturday afternoon after working collar and shoulder seams Saturday morning. The sleeve was correct in every pattern-related measure but looked tight when compared with the modelled shots in the BT Look Book.

So 'started sleeve two with six more stitches cast on and a re-jigged rate of increase. Much better. Sleeve one then became a ball of yarn/the beginnings of sleeve three Saturday night.

This sweater should have been done before Christmas, that sleeve should have been done yesterday.

I've managed to hold off starting anything in those weak moments as the last bits of a lingering project drag on but I want tomorrow's post here to be about a newly cast on project that I want to start tonight.  I haven't even decided what it will be other than "new".

So I better squeeze out some time to finish a sleeve today!



Everything Old is New Again

This is the first sweater I ever knit...
                                       ...30 years ago this month.

Its the only sweater from that first venture into knitting still in my possession.

Last month I saw a cropped, bulky sweater just like this one, in this same bottle green colour, in the window of a trendy shop. Now the sweater still fits and when I sought their counsel both kids gave the "look" their blessing for someone of my vintage. So why not wear it again here at home this winter instead of only "anonymously" at the cottage early spring and late fall? Its not a bad knitting job for the first time out of the gate and on an improvised pattern and its been around such a long time it feels like an old friend......in need of a bit of sprucing up.

Not knowing any better I did a terrible job putting the thing together.

It has a way-too-tight cast off atop the collar. (Actually hurts a bit to pull it past my face!)

I've already spent about an hour shaving off pills and lightly brushing it to minimize its Acrylic "vibe". I did, after all, get the yarn for this in the 80's. (Pingouin Knit Shops anybody?!)

What's really required though is to take it apart and reassemble it properly.

I'll also remove, then rework, the collar to make it into that "mock neck" from the shop window and one that fits better without a tightly bound off edge.

First though - I've a pretty good feeling about finishing Hawser this weekend! Its blocked, I've picked up for the collar ready for knitting and sorted a new rate of increase for the sleeves. I've also got some pay-per-view plans given the Academy Award Nominations that will be just perfect for the simple knitting that remains and NO OTHER COMMITMENTS before next week! I'm kind of giddy at the prospect!

Have a great weekend! Thanks for dropping by!


I Forgot to Show You This!

My Aunt made me this adorable hat last month!

We had such fun, she dropped in with the finished hat and a fresh ball of Malabrigo Rasta for working up a huge pompom. (Love how the dye doesn't penetrate the dense single ply yarn all the way to the centre of the strand so when you cut the ends of the pompom you get a mottled look keeping the hat from feeling too precious.

Its no exaggeration to say we were in a frenzy from the moment she took off her coat to get a great, dense 5" beast of a pompom whipped up and sewn on so we could see how it looked. (Like I said, I think it looks adorable and boy is it warm too!)

Then, as quickly as she arrived she was off again - part of the twirling whirl that was early December around here.

Thank you Aunt P!


A Subconscious Knitter?

Hawser has oh-so-trendy dropped shoulders structured in an oh-so-clever way so as to avoid bunching under the arms.

When you divide front from back in this knit-in-the-round pullover and would normally be decreasing stitches away, to create armhole shaping you instead add stitches, making a bit of a capped sleeve carrying the pattern from the sweater body over and down past the shoulder.

Then when you separate the sides of the front to begin shaping the neck you keep on adding at that armhole edge.

You cast off a bunch at the neck but your stitch count doesn't change or, in fact it increases because of those little caps right when you typically enjoy a shorter and shorter row on a bottom up sweater.

I had to force myself not to automatically think "decreasing now" because just having that idea in my brain somehow magically moved from there to my hands and the needles in them. It was an effort to read what was there and not subconsciously substitute a decrease of, say 2 sts where an increase of 2 sts was actually indicated.

The weirdness is over now, the sweater body is done with lessons learned and insights gained. Wet blocking is underway.

Sleeve One was done, and quickly too before Christmas. The mindless stockinette rounds flew off the circ. with perfect stitch gauge.
Not so perfect row gauge though. 'Tried it on last night to find it's waaaaaay too long.

Not a "weird" error, this. More just a stupid one!

(Yesterday Brenda observed in the comments that my Romni trip hadn't featured a purchase in my go-to "neutral" Red. After putting this post together today I think its possible the "Red-loving" centre in my brain may be currently satiated given the 4+ solid weeks of knitting I've put into this oh-so-red piece since casting on in November.)


A Colour Vacation in January!

Yarn shopping last weekend was for a list of projects, none of which were particularly tied to gauge or fibre content. So I shopped colour!

I wove my way through Romni's aisles thinking of one project at a time and when I saw a colour that appealed to me I put in my basket. I worked out what I would keep versus discard for that project then I did it again for the next planned knit.

It was a thoroughly engrossing creative exercise rather than a mathematical hunt for gauge. Fun! I came out of the shop feeling like I'd been on a little yarn vacation, complete with "souvenirs" to bring home!

Here's what I got...

Rowan Pure Life British Sheep Breeds Chunky - 'Plan to try this out on a Tomten jacket. Its a bit of an odd choice for a baby but my hope is to produce something more sleeping bag than garment. Then as baby grows towards the spring and even fall it might work as a sweater-coat.

Drops Lima Alpaca/Wool DK -  a hat to go with the TomTen - again a heavy weight for such a task. We'll see how it goes but I cannot stand how fantastic the colour of this stuff is with the Pure Life yarn!

(I pulled out a couple of options for straight up blue or pink hats from my remnants in case the wheels fall of this idea.)

El Cheapo Acrylic/Wool blend from Romni's basement - A toy for said baby. This one to be precise. The dog looks just like theirs!

Rowan Kid Classic Mohair/Wool Aran - A hat for me. This one. It will be either fabulous (because the yarn is!) or awful (If the hat doesn't suit me). I'll keep you posted.

Once home I set about nailing down the patterns, making copies where necessary and collecting needles and project bags for each. Honestly it took hours but again, fully engaged in the process it was entirely enjoyable.

Now all I have to do is finish Hawser which, in reality is coming along nicely but in my head, with all these fun new projects ready to go, feels like its crawling along.

I know you know what I mean!


2014 Year End Roundup

Wow, 'can't believe how much work there is in putting one of these posts together - its going to feel so great to hit "publish" and feel free to really jump off into the new knitting year with the old one finally put to bed.

2014 saw me finish 20 pieces in 15 Projects...

...A surprising number of them rectangles...
EZ Double Knit Mat from Knitter's Almanac
Improvised Cowls in Rowan Brushed Fleece
Bee Stitch Washcloths in Rowan All Season Cotton
Using up Mom's stashed Baby yarn Receiving Blanket

A surprisingly low number of them socks...
Men's Basic Ribbed Socks

...A surprisingly high number of Mitts...
(4 out of remnants)
EZ Mitered, Faux Thrummed, Fingerless, EZ Mitered, Maplewood and Sweet Fern Mittens

Hindsight is revealing knitting up remnants seemed to be another unconcious theme...
EZ Nethergarments from Remants

Sweater output was pretty good at (almost) 4 ("Hawser" should have and could have been done before Christmas - instead it shuffles off to become an early 2015 FO.)

"Devlan" was the most gratifying of these. I'm wearing it often and can hardly believe I managed to squeak it out of Remnants too!

"Deco" utilized fabulous wooly wool, "statement" buttons and a flashy ribbon-backed button band. While the colourway stubbournly resists being captured in a photo it brings energy and fun to navy, black and grey and the cropped shape works surprisingly well both in terms of the line it gives to other clothes and how easy it is to wear for warmth without getting in the way of anything.

"Tinder", a looooooong time getting started but a quick, straightforward knit after more than a couple of years searching out a pattern and yarn combo for a "purpose built" garment. To my great satisfaction its become a go-to cardi in my summer-at-the-cottage, fall and now even winter wardrobe.
I had fun with new yarns last  year - "Rowan Brushed Fleece "most recently but their "All Seasons Cotton" was a fantastic discovery as was working with Sandnes Garn "Tove" for the first (definitely not the last) time too.

So now what for 2015? I don't think I'll be focused on technique this year as much as yarn and wardrobe - both mine and My Beloved's.

There'll be a flurry of small knits in coming weeks with knitting some baby gifts as soon as Hawser becomes an FO.

The cold weather, a new Mitten Pattern Book in my library and the shocking surprise of wearing the above hat a lot - another 2014 FO has also prompted interest in knitting more outwear accessories. (I know it totally suits Hudson but he was good about sharing!)
Sockhead Hat in Tanis Blue Label Sock
Stephen's blog has me thinking much more about knitting for My Beloved. Stephen's Seamless Hybrid in particular got me thinking men's sweaters and seeing The Imitation Game over the holidays has me also thinking vests like this one and I'm eagerly anticipating the next BT Look Book which should be a collection of patterns for men.

I'm feeling drawn to natural, undyed, rustic/muted yarns. I'm curious to work with wool from specific breeds of sheep too and to work up some wardrobe basics for myself.

These are my impressions at the moment but summing them up here doesn't mean I see them as a to do list. What I want in my knitting basket in 2015 over all else is open mindedness, a willingness to be inspired and great yarn.

If I'm being honest, I'll admit I get a great kick out of finishing things, having them done and dusted and in use gives me great satisfaction. I remember in the final days of Eunny Jang's knit blog she cited the fact she only ever worked on a single project at a time. That has always stuck with me - more as an idea than a practice but still...maybe I should give that approach a whirl.  No promises though!

Thanks for dropping by last year. I love blogging and the connection the resulting comments and correspondence facilitates with knitting friends all over the world and with knitters close to home.


New Years. New Projects. New Yarn!

'Scrambling to get all caught up here and can't believe I've yet to get through Christmas or touch on New Years, both of which featured knitting-related stuff! 

Over the course of Christmas morning my knitting library expanded to include a much coveted copy of "Ultimate Mittens" by Robin Hansen...

And two balls of Scottish Angora/Merino DK from the Orkney Islands in a tote bag from Loop of London!

While I looked forward to diving into both those treasures in 2015 the days between Christmas and New Years were full of comings and goings, fun outings in our fabulous city and fantastic eating thanks to 2 new cook books from Darling Daughter. January days lay ahead that would perfectly suit hunkering down to enjoy my knitting to the fullest.

New Years Eve itself was a grand example. I made a big, delicious dinner that the four of us sat and enjoyed with a gorgeous bottle of wine then the kids set off to celebrate while My Beloved and I retired to the fire and a movie and I hauled out my mending basket full of hand knits! That's right, As 2014 came to a close I was darning! I fixed more than a dozen pairs of socks, a pair of hand knit gloves and a cardigan with a small moth hole in one sleeve.
By the time of our gourmet brunch on the morning of January 1st the darning was done and my rather depleted sock drawer looked positively crammed. 
Nice to have a full complement of socks again but also nice to get them without dedicating knitting time to making more. I've a list of other things I'm keen to get onto my needles in the coming weeks so it was great to have the decks almost cleared as the New Year began.

"Almost" because Hawser's status is still "in progress".

This past week I was happy to get back to working on it because its pleasant knitting but also because I want to be wearing it on these chilly January days!

As January days go, yesterday was a fantastically "chilly" one. Bright sunshine with cold temperatures and a biting wind it was ripe with need to layer on the knits. Which is what I did as I headed downtown bright and early for a hair cut followed by 2 fantastic hours wandering around Romni Wools. I was through the doors moments after they opened with a list of projects to shop for and no need to rush or worry about anyone else but this knitter. Ahhhhhh!

Still I was home in time for lunch with new hair and yarn. With My Beloved away I spent the afternoon and evening alone (with a poodle) playing with my new treasures, filing patterns and needles and knitting-related stuff pulled out over the holidays and assembling project bags for the first of my 2015 knitting.

Back in my "bad old" pre-poodle days that would have been the totality of my activity. With my "personal trainer" Hudson, however, the yarn play was necessarily punctuated by a very brisk hour's walk down into a nearby ravine (warmer down there out of the wind but we won't speak about walking back up the hill towards home into the gusts!) That exercise then demands eating a proper dinner even if I am on my own but then all of it together means I have more energy to work longer into the evening to a degree that more than makes up for the time they demanded away from tinkering with yarn and patterns in the first place.

I'd love to post about my new yarn but I'm determined to do my 2014 Roundup before indulging in writing on plans for 2015. I never got a summary organized for 2013 and I miss not having that kind of a reference point.

Fingers crossed I nail that one tomorrow! Meanwhile happy Sunday everybody!


2 Fleece-like Improvised Cowl FO's

Pattern: 2 Improvised Men's Cowls
Yarn: Rowan Brushed Fleece (one ball per cowl)
Source: Eweknit Toronto
Colour: Peat
Needles: 6mm circular
Start: December 12 Finish: December 21, 2014

Before he left for London last Spring Number One Son grabbed a couple of basic black fleece cowls from the "just in case" collection at the bottom of our familial ski bag and took them to wear under a light jacket against the British chill.

I'm sure I don't need to tell you, how painful it is, to see a loved one wearing fleece where some wonderful knitted item could be doing the job so much better and more beautifully!

Nonetheless I knew making something he'd like as a substitute meant I'd best respect the fleece aesthetic and minimize knitterly flourishes. So I picked up a wonderful (new?) yarn called Brushed Fleece by Rowan.

I've likened this yarn to knitting with warm air. Soooo light and soft and once knitted up, soooo warm! I've many an idea floating around in my brain for future projects with this lovely stuff.

As you can clearly see just above, the yarn deadens the affect of knitted detail, without obscuring it with fuzziness - especially so in this darkest grey colour. Knitted flat, as the name implies, it handily conveys a look similar to polyester fleece. One ball yielded a stockinette tube 8" high.

I used a provisional cast on in case he favoured a double layer cowl planning to graft tube end to tube end but it was big enough to alternatively go over his head as knit should he prefer a single layer. I put the live stitches at the top on a string and had My Beloved try it on  to see how it fit before our traveller returned. The trick was though, I wrapped it up for My Beloved and put it under the tree with his name on it.

Next I wrapped a second ball of Brushed Fleece, labelling it for Number One Son and looked forward to Christmas morning with something for him to try on (Beloved's finished cowl) and hearing what he might want while My Beloved would be surprised at finding the first knit cowl was actually for him!

My Beloved wasn't the only one who got a surprise though. Number One Son surprised me with a request for Braided Cables on his cowl. He wanted them closely spaced all the way around and he'd like 1x1 ribbing top and bottom please.

I didn't explain the yarn wouldn't give him the crisp kind of cabled look I think he imagined. I've learned non knitters rarely care to hear such granular detail.

Instead I got to work seeing just what the yarn could handle. Tight, 6 stitch braids crossing every three rounds came out looking like weird puckers. Loose, widely spaced braids of the same size had the appearance of stubborn wrinkles. Between these extremes I found a nice middle ground. I knit the ball up using that approach, pirating a couple of rounds worth of yarn from the first cowl to make the ribbing symmetrical after working my little improvised chart 3 times.

He's very pleased with the result, as am I. Interesting to see, if you look at the first photo above, how much smaller the cabled cowl is than the stockinette version while taking a bit more yarn to complete.
And check out the finished ensemble of finger less "Charcoal" mitts and "Peat" cowl together! (Try to ignore the crazily short rolled pant legs - I'm told its part of the "look" in London - it'll probably be a while before it makes it across the Atlantic but when it does remember you saw it here first!)