Rockies Adventures

How was your week?

It was our fifth wedding anniversary last week, so we celebrated with a camping trip to Jasper National Park in Alberta and a backcountry trip to Berg Lake, which is in Mount Robson Provincial Park, in BC.  Pretty amazing sights!  We saw so many beautiful glacial streams and waterfalls in the valley on the walk in to Berg Lake:


It was very smoky most of the days we were there, because of the forest fires in BC, but we managed to get a peek at Mount Robson one evening:


We took a dayhike from our campsite, and gained 500 m in elevation while hiking through a loop trail that crossed from BC back to Alberta.  There was a cairn at one of the crossing points:


And after the backcountry trip, we went back to Jasper and played a bit in Lake Annette, with H:


We had our wedding ceremony at Lake Annette, right on the walking path.  It was raining that day, but the visibility was still better than this year (due to the smoke). 

I got a bit of knitting done, mostly in the car; I put a quite a few more inches on Schnee (I'm done the second skein now), and I finished the front of True Friend and started on the back.  I love the ingenious shaping on this pattern!  So fun to knit.

Take a Break

I will be off camping this week in Jasper National Park and Mt. Robson Provincial Park, and back next Monday 8/21 with new pictures and stories and knits (I am taking two knitting projects with me, and maybe even carrying a sock project into the backcountry).

Here are some links to keep you busy:

Have you ever considered a lopapeysa knit in fingering-weight yarn?

I love the leaf motif and am really curious about the construction of this shawl

Are you participating in the Summer of Basics?  I decided not to, as my year-long project is already difficult to sustain, but Karen Templer has an update here

If you're in the Edmonton area, Makers and Mentors has lots of cool classes coming up, including crochet and knitting ones. 

Have a good week!


Free patterns: Little Church Knits

How have I only discovered this website a couple of weeks ago?  Cheryl, who is based in Prince Edward County, Ontario, was publishing free patterns on a weekly basis for a while there.  She still has some of the older ones available for free, and the newer ones are also free on a limited basis.  You can read about it here.

Among the older patterns, there's some beautiful stuff:  Big Island Wrapper (below left), Hay Bay Hat (below right), Tooty Mitts (I still love colourblocking!) and Hill Island Wrap.  And in the spirit of knitterly sharing and education, she's got some helpful knitting technique video tutorials.

Images from Little Church Knits

Fall Knitting

Do you buy many knitting magazines?  I used to subscribe to Interweave Knits, but then I realized I didn't actually use the warm-weather patterns much, and I'd be better off just buying the issues I liked at the bookstore or online.  I do end up picking up the fall issue of IK every year, and the winter issue nearly every year.

The Fall 2017 issues of Interweave Knits and Knitscene are on sale now, and IK is a little bit underwhelming: the colour stories aren't that inspiring, though some of the sweater patterns are pretty sharp:

Images via

Knitscene, on the other hand, has a blockbuster set of cardigan patterns!  I love them all, and want to knit every one.  Maybe I'm just really into basics or really into sweaters (or both!) right now, but the patterns are covering all the bases for me. That red/white marled one looks so cozy, and many of the others are a great combination of a simple background stitch with one or two nice details.

Images via

Sweater Two, Installment Four: Montview

So close to the finish on this one!  Seaming is done, weaving in is done, sweater is blocked, buttons and snaps are purchased.

I had actually never seamed reverse stockinette stitch before this sweater.  I was reading a book of Deborah Newton's and she said that as seaming reverse stockinette often produces an unattractive "gutter" at the seam, she will do a stitch or two in stockinette at the edge, in order to have neater seams.  I did only read this after I'd finished all the knitting for Montview, but am keeping it in mind for my next non-stockinette sweater.

Since I didn't do any stockinette edge stitches, I had to seam reverse stockinette.  I found some excellent tips from Twist Collective (article in PDF format here) and in Arenda Holladay's article here.  The latter article instructs you to seam every row (unlike when you're mattress-stitching stockinette stitch and can seam two rows at a time), so that all the rows align correctly, while the Twist Collective article says to seam two rows at a time.  I ended up cheating a little bit, especially when easing the sleeves into the armholes (where the rows don't line up exactly because of the curves), but it looks good, overall.  Nothing anyone would notice anyway, wink wink. 

Weaving in the ends was pretty straightforward but it was strange sensation to be weaving ends into stockinette (as reverse stockinette is the public side of this sweater's fabric).  I always felt like I was wrongly weaving ends into the "right" side of the sweater, funnily enough.

I then wet-blocked.  The yarn I used on the collar was unwound from another sweater, and as I failed to wash it before knitting, it was pretty kinky and the knit fabric rumply.  So I wet-blocked by soaking (in warm water and wool wash), rolling between two towels to press out all the water, and then drying it on foam mats for, like, a week.  I'm not even joking; it took that many days to dry completely and my craft room smelled like a wet sheep for that long.  I think I have to change up my blocking method a bit, maybe press out a water a second time, with a dry towel, or maybe try steam-blocking.  I do like how crisply it dries with wet-blocking, though, and it's so easy to reshape when it's wet.

I do have to put in a set of snaps, and then a set of non-functional.  I think I'll do the snaps first, then the buttons over the snaps.  If you can believe it, I put buttons on my first couple of finished baby sweaters (lo these many years ago) with the yarn I knitted with.  I laugh now at how naive I was, struggling to pull thick yarn through the tiny holes of buttons!  I use sewing thread now, tying off with as many knots as I can manage, and the sewing goes much more smoothly.  I can't say I always do the neatest job, but the sewing is usually concealed under the button anyway.

Free Pattern: Ten-Stitch Blanket and Sister KAL

My sister Julia (yamwam on Ravelry) showed me her finished Ten-Stitch Twist blanket, and it's so beautiful.  One side ends up with ridges, as you can see below, because of the way the stitches are joined, and it's really pretty.  I think she used about 1000 yards of a worsted weight yarn and hers came out baby-blanket-sized.

Frankie Brown first developed her Ten-Stitch Blanket, then published a plethora of adaptations:  Twist, Zigzag, Triangle, Corner, Wave, Cable, and Double.  The patterns are all free on Ravelry, and she has so far raised £15,941.90 for the Children’s Liver Disease Foundation with these and other free patterns.  These are all really cool patterns, because they're joined as you go, and so at the end you don't have a lot of seaming.

My sister's gorgeous blanket made me want to knit one too; it would be good to knit while watching TV or reading, and would also let me clear out a bit of the stash.  I had a bad habit, previously, of buying strange quantities of yarn: way too much for a hat or mitts, and not quite enough for a sweater.  A blanket project where I can stop whenever I run out of yarn is a fabulous way to get some of that yarn out of the stash, and the yarn I have in mind will knit up quickly and look good in this type of pattern. 

Julia has some stash yarn she wants to use to make another ten-stitch project, so we decided to make this a sister KAL.  Now we just have to agree on which ten-stitch pattern to do!

Sweater Nine, Installment Two: Toddler Surprise Jacket

I've given this sweater a promotion to Toddler Surprise Jacket, given how big it turned out.  It's not overly proportional (the sleeves seem a bit short and wide) but it will work as a jacket over a long-sleeve tee, in the spring and fall.  It somehow feels appropriate, since the weather's been a bit gloomy and cool for the last couple of days.

I had a big burst of productivity the last couple of days, and I finished seaming (fun!), weaving in (super fun!) and sewing on the buttons (funnest of all!).  Check out that beautiful shoulder seam (in the third picture above), which is the only seam in the sweater.  It's a bit tricky to seam the side of a garter stitch piece to a cast-on edge, but I think it came out looking and sitting well.

I think the colour scheme came together nicely, and H seems to like it.  Ah, toddler models: she gave me a wealth of wonderful poses to choose from, ranging from tongue out to get-me-out-of-here face, LOL. 

Best thing of all, one more sweater finished! 

Year of Sweaters Tally:  6

Year of Twelve Sweaters Update

And I have four works in progress that I've discussed:




Toddler Surprise Jacket

As well as one more still in progress , which I haven't blogged about because it's a design I'm working on.

Of the four still in progress, Montview, Killybegs, and the Toddler Surprise Jacket should be relatively quick to finish, while I may be reknitting Alafoss entirely.  I am challenging myself to completely finish those three sweaters before I can start a new one.  If I finish them by the end of August, that will put me 2/3 of the way to my goal of knitting twelve sweaters , which puts me right on track (assuming one sweater per month). 

I'm thinking I will knit Schnee and finish up a Tomten.  Along with the design I'm working on, that will take me to twelve.

And when this is all over, I will have to pick a new project for 2018.  Year of Sock Yarn, anyone?  I was thinking I could aim for twelve projects with sock yarn.  Likely mostly shawls and socks (which is all I seem to want to knit now that I've committed to finishing twelve sweaters this year!), assuming my hands don't cramp up and fall off in 2017.  I've got so many ideas for yearly projects, I could keep going for a while.  A year of Elizabeth Zimmermann (twelve EZ projects), a year of new techniques (twelve projects, each incorporating a technique I've never done before), a year of shawls, a year of socks, a year of hats (hats are so fast that I would have to make at least 24 hats in a year), a year of cables...I'm drooling just thinking about so much knitting!

Sweater Nine, Installment One: Baby Surprise Jacket

I started this a couple of weeks ago, to have something to knit while travelling and visiting, and also to use up some scraps.  It's progressed so quickly that I have hardly had time to blog about it, and now here I am about to weave in the ends and seam up.  It's just that fast! 

First, the pattern:  this is Elizabeth Zimmermann's classic Baby Surprise Jacket knitted in aran weight yarns.  I can't say enough good things about this pattern, though this is surprisingly my first time knitting it in garter stitch, the way it was written.  I've tried the stockinette version before (some Ravelers have kindly posted their modifications) but it's just not the same.  I'm knitting from the version in The Opinionated Knitter  (a delightful book, by the way; it makes you feel like EZ is right there, knitting without looking at her work.  It is funny how much a pattern written in the '60s elides, though: no notes about methods for casting on,  binding off, or picking up stitches, few about increases and decreases, not a lot of detail about row counting (only "ridge" counting) and finishing.  One can figure it out, and it always turns out fine, but going from knitting with contemporary sweater patterns that number in the tens of pages to an older pattern on a single page is a bit jarring.

Second, the yarns:  I am combining Brown Sheep's Lamb's Pride Worsted (a nice solid single, in turquoise and brown) and Stitch Nation's Full O' Sheep (a fuzzier, less compact single, in pink).  The colours don't go too badly together, right?  I was just going to do the turquoise and brown at first, but then I was running out so I added in the pink to make up the yardage. 

The ends from stripes before weaving in -- like fringe, no?

The ends from stripes before weaving in -- like fringe, no?

Third, the size:  I think because this pattern is written in garter stitch, and because it's so square, it (roughly) works to upsize by changing to thicker yarn and appropriately thicker needles.  I ended up with a pretty large gauge, and I think the resulting sweater will fit H (a newly minted three-year-old, thank you very much).  It's definitely not a baby size, which is fine, because H has already claimed it, tried it on, and told everyone in the vicinity that I'm knitting her a sweater.

Isn't the "wrong" side as pretty as the public one?

Isn't the "wrong" side as pretty as the public one?

Fourth, modifications:  I did a lot of guessing and adding my own ideas only because the pattern isn't too specific.  I used a long-tail cast-on (my usual) and a suspended bind-off from the right side (this looks neat and holds the garter stitch well).  I mirrored my increases and decreases around a center stitch, and I'm planning to use mattress stitch for the shoulder seams.   I put the buttonholes on the right side and made six (instead of five, as the pattern says), and H will get to pick out some buttons pretty soon.  I'm not sure how I'll finish the neckline yet; it looks pretty rough so I think I'll have to do something. 

Mitered gloriousness

Mitered gloriousness

Fifth, knitting this pattern again: I would absolutely knit this again; it's quick and satisfying.  And such a good way to use scraps!  It's also a bit boxy, so I'm brainstorming ways to make the increases a little less brutal.  I also like the ribbed cuff I saw on some Rav versions.  I really like the look of applied i-cord that I saw on Ravelry, so I might do that on my next one (an applied i-cord neckline edging with an i-cord bind-off along the front and bottom edges.  I am also thinking about knitting an adult-size one for myself, but it is really boxy, especially in the sleeves, and I'm not sure it will get a lot of wear.

Sweater Eight, Installment Two: Hawkherst

From a non-wearable object to a finished object in just a few days!  Actually it took longer, because according to my notes, I finished this sweater last August.  It wasn't until this week that I tinked back the sleeves and made a decision. 

It turned out that ripping back and moving the colourwork band at the wrists higher up (toward the shoulders) would leave like two inches between the colourwork bands on the sleeves; in short, they would look strangely close together, and the spacing wouldn't even come close to mimicking the spacing of the bands on the body.  So my reknitting job became even faster: all I had to do was rip back and finish the sleeves with a ribbing band.  It actually took longer to rip out than it did to finish the knitting, as I had already woven in (but not cut, crucially!) all the ends, but in the end I finished it in a few evenings.  And....voila: my finished, wearable, perfect-sleeve-length Hawkherst!

Isn't the inside pretty too?

Isn't the inside pretty too?

Year of Sweaters Tally:  5 (a little behind schedule, but I'm not worried)

Time to Get Cozy?

I should explain my spontaneous hiatus last week:  my brother and sister were visiting from Toronto and Ottawa, respectively, for H's birthday.  We spent the week wandering around town and eating (a lot!) and time just got away from me. 

I know it's July, and we've had a bit of a heat wave lately so heavy knitted blankets are probably not top of mind right now, but how beautiful is this afghan?

The website is selling a pattern or kit (I assume, from the pictures; I can't read it) but this would be easy enough to figure out either with crochet, or knitting, or both.  All you would need is a consistent square size and a stitch dictionary, and the will to devote six months of your life to seaming (rough estimate).  It would be worth it for the pretty, right?  I've seen other knitted and crocheted patchwork-type afghans, but I love the harmonious mix of bright colours and the executive-level pattern mixing:  it's particularly eye-catching.  

Image via

Knitting Habits

I was going through some old papers in my crafting room, getting rid of old printed patterns that I know I'll never use, and it really struck me how much my knitting preferences have changed over the years.  I used to really want to make knitted toys -- so irresistibly adorable! -- until I found out how fiddly it is to make two tiny little ears or feet and to stuff knitted toys.  Really not my style, though I know others love it and do it well.  I also went through quite a phase of Nordic-style colourwork mittens, a phase of complicated, fine-gauge lacy shawls, and a phase of short-sleeved cotton sweaters. 

I feel like I'm a lot more practical now; I look for knits that don't require a lot of charts and/or aren't too fiddly.  I can still do stitches that are complicated, but I prefer if it only relies on one relatively simple chart at a time (for lace, cables, or colourwork, for instance).  I still do small-gauge knits, like socks or mittens with fingering-weight yarns, but I've moved away from using laceweight for shawls.   I'm also more brutally realistic in thinking about whether a garment will really suit me and therefore will get used; there's no point spending hours and hours knitting something that will sit pathetically in a drawer, not getting worn, because it's not really me.  It's very hard to judge sometimes, because pictures will make a garment look really good on the model, but it's not necessarily something that will look good on me. 

I also look for different qualities in the patterns themselves, like is there a new technique I can learn, or an interesting construction method?  As my knitting skills have improved, I'm more willing to move beyond the basics and try new ways of knitting and building knitted items. 

Below you can see a smattering of recent projects of mine.

So basically, I think a lot more carefully now about both product and process when I'm choosing a knitting project.  Have your knitting habits changed since you started knitting?

Free Pattern: Shot Through the Heart

At first glance, this looks like a work in progress, but look closer and you see that what appeared at first to be knitting needles are actually arrows. 

Image via

Image via

Heidi Gustad's neat pattern for her Shot Through the Heart wall hanging hits a lot of bright points: it's worked in a bulky-weight wool, so it would be a quick knit; it's worked in veil stitch, which yields a drapey, open fabric that still holds its shape due to the twisted stitches; a heart shape emerges from just a bit of interesting shaping; it creatively repurposes vintage items; it's punctuated with a tassel at the bottom; it references a Bon Jovi song. 

What an imaginative way to incorporate knitting into decor!  This calls back to those fringey wall hangings that have become so popular lately, and to macrame ones, which seems to be coming back into style (or maybe it was never out of style?), but produces something fresh and new.  And I think even if you didn't have a couple of vintage arrows sitting around, you could use vintage straight knitting needles, or make some arrow-looking things out of dowels, or even just use plain dowels in your wall hanging.

Bewitching Stitch

I spotted this dishcloth pattern (free, by the way) and was mesmerized by the stitch.  I don't have a lot of use for knitted dishcloths (no knock on that, I know some people really like them) but I could imagine this stitch made into a stole or shawl or cowl.

I love how I've been knitting forever but I still see stuff that piques my curiosity and makes me think about how it was constructed.  The possibilities with knitting are so endless! 

Sweater Eight, Installment One: Hawkherst

I finished this sweater last August, according to my notes, but when I tried to wear my Hawkherst sweater last winter the sleeves are too long.  I'm going to have to modify them, and I just need to figure out the best way to do it.  The body was knit and the shoulders seamed, and then the sleeve stitches were picked up and knit in the round down to the wrists.  I can't decide if I should just rip back past the first colourwork band, or if I should rip back past the second colourwork band; the first option has the advantage of being faster, because it will take less work, but the second is, more "proper" in that I think the end product will look better.  If I know my habits, though, and I think I do, the colourwork bands were so fiddly and annoying that if I rip back all the way to the pick-up row at the shoulders, I am very unlikely to ever re-knit the sleeves again.

So my options are a sweater that is not perfect but is wearable with less work, or a sweater that will be perfect and wearable in the end but that I may never end up finishing.  What would you choose?

Summer Knitting, Having a Blast

I've heard other people complain that in the summer, they have to change their knitting habits; maybe it's too hot to have a whole sweater or blanket in your lap, or it's too humid to have wool on the needles.  I'm pretty lucky in that respect: we have fairly mild, pleasant, dry summers here in Edmonton.  We do get very hot days, above 30 Celsius, for about a week or two a year, and the rest of the time the summer days are between 20 and 25 Celsius, with nice breezes, no rain, and low humidity.  This means that I can knit whatever I want pretty comfortably year-round.  I tend to knit more with wool and wool blends, just because warm and fuzzy fibres are the best suited to the climate here, but my knitting habits are essentially seasonless.   So bring on the heavy sweaters and wool socks in July! 

Check out my summer so far: checking out Churchill Square, knitting a basic sock (basically, everywhere) from my FLK-heel-based recipe (I'm going to call it my Elemental Sock recipe; what do you think?), raiding our strawberry patch (sweet sweet sweet) and pepper plant (hot hot hot!), and appropriating some peonies from the neighbour's plant. 


FLK Socks Are Done!

How was your long weekend? 

I finished the FLK socks on the July long weekend and O has been wearing them.  I can't recommend the pattern enough:  the heel itself is fun and easy to knit, and not fiddly at all, and the designer, Patty, includes a great guide for sizing socks.  There is also not a single gap or hole around the heel!  This was also my first pair of socks using Judy Becker's Magic Cast-On (funny enough, I haven't been able to make Judy's version work for me, so I use Andrea Rangel's slightly different version), which creates a seamless, graftless, provisional-cast-on-less toe that fits very well.  I'm so happy with how these socks turned out and they were very easy and fun to knit (because I love doing tons of stockinette -- no, really!).

O gamely modeled the socks for me out at his parents' farm.  He says they fit "like a glove," which I hope is a compliment (given that they're socks),  and I've started on a second pair for him, using the same pattern. 

Happy Canada Day! Patterns From the Land of Coffee Crisp

Am I very behind because that I just found out that Coffee Crisp is made and only sold in Canada?  Having our very own chocolate bars makes me strangely proud.  If you've never had Coffee Crisp, then you'd better take a trip over here to get yourself some :)

As well as homegrown chocolate bars, we also have a lot of homegrown knitting talent.  In honour of Canada Day, which was July 1st, I bring you some patterns from Canadian designers (clockwise from top left):

Lots of free patterns from the Montreal yarn shop Espace Tricot (I need to make that Escargot Shawl!)  

Edmonton's Jessie McKitrick's Canucklehead Hat

Jane Richmond's West Coast Cardigan

Knox Mountain Knit Co's Kasugai

Millimeter by millimeter toward the end of the second sock

A mini-update on the FLK socks: I'm nearing the cuff on the second sock, which makes me very happy.  I don't really get that second sock syndrome a lot of people talk about.  My sister has switched to doing socks two-at-a-time on two circulars for that very reason, but I prefer to knit my socks on DPNs.  The way I see it is that doing two at a time means twice as much to rip out when you make a mistake in the pattern or in the sizing -- having to rip out happens to me a lot, sadly.  I think that when I see the first sock is finished, I get really excited because that' s more than half the work done: exactly half the knitting, and all of the figuring out, all the ripping and re-knitting, all the measuring.  All that's left is a bunch of easy knitting, because you're just copying the first sock.  I hope to finish the second sock this week, and I've already got plans to cast on for my next pair (of course):  it will be another in the same pattern, which is a wonderful project for travel/car/visiting/catching up on Orange is the New Black because it's so rhythmic.  And my husband needs more socks, as I'm trying to build up his hand-knitted sock collection.

Although I've spent my share of time getting sucked into the black hole of clickbait articles on the Internet, I'm not normally into reposting listicles.  This one really struck a nerve, though -- it's extra funny because it's true!  I'm so obsessed with knitting I try to keep knitting while I make dinner, and I find that I can't leave the house without at least one project, if not two, in my purse.  Even if it's just to go to the park...where I won't have a chance to sit down and knit anyway.

All but two really apply to me, which I guess puts me in the deep end of the knitting pond.  How many apply to you?

Sweater Seven, Installment Four: Alafoss

To add to the story from the last post about Alafoss, I discovered after I had crunched all the numbers that the pattern repeat for the second colourwork band in the yoke wouldn't fit neatly into the number of stitches I was told to decrease to!  I would have had a fraction of a snowflake at the end of the round, which would be really obvious and which I knew would annoy me. 

So, I had to first figure out the correct number of stitches I needed to have to fit a whole number of pattern repeats around the yoke, and then I had to figure out the new "decrease evenly across rnd" scheme based on the new number of stitches.  Luckily, it worked out to something nice and easy, but man, did I ever do a ton of math on this yoke.   I also ended up reknittingthe first few rows of the snowflake band a few times, which was a bit annoying.  I still really like the pattern, but I am definitely going to document this on Ravelry so that others won't have the same troubles.  Note to self: consult Ravelry before you start a pattern, not after you're having troubles.   

The body and sleeves turned out a bit long because the yoke ended up long as well, so I devised a way to shorten them without reknitting:  I unjoined the sleeves and body from the yoke, ripped out the extra rows, and then grafted them back with Kitchener stitch.  I thought I was being sooooo clever, and I even neatly took apart the sweater and put each piece on a different needle.

This turned out to be, like, the worst idea ever.  I am still trying to figure out where I went wrong and how I should have done it, but in grafting, I am at the end of the yoke and sleeve stitches and have 24 extra stitches on the body!  If it were two or three extra stitches, I could probably find a place to hide them, but twenty.  Freaking.  Four!!  So frustrating.  So now Alafoss is cowering in the corner while I try to figure out what to do: unpick all the grafting (which took me three hours), of course, and either re-knit everything from the top down, or rejig the grafting and see if I can somehow get the stitch count to match.  And, as a very last resort, I could always convince O to grow a hump on his back, kind of under his left armpit, where the lump in the sweater would be.

Is it killing you how there are so many more stitches on the bottom needle than on the top needle?  Gives me the sads...

Is it killing you how there are so many more stitches on the bottom needle than on the top needle?  Gives me the sads...

Sigh...the things I go through in the name of good knitting.  Sad days for Alafoss,  you guys, but I'll sort it out eventually.