Free Pattern Friday: Tea Cozies

I spotted this beauty and was seized by a strange desire to knit a tea cozy.  Even though I basically never use a tea pot (I make a single cup at a time).  Chalk it up to the cuteness of what is essentially a sweater for something that doesn't normally wear a sweater, and the impeccable colourwork on that particular tea cozy, I guess.  Or maybe it's the hunkering-down-in-February mood?

 Image by Slate Falls Press

Image by Slate Falls Press

Lucky for me, there are a loooooot of options for free tea cozy patterns on Ravelry:

Top row, left to right:  Pink (image by Knit Shear Bliss), Smocked (Patons), Beehive (Patons), Ice Cream (Handy Little Me)

Bottom row, left to right:  Candy (DaftThoughts), Basket Weave (Tea For Ewe), Stripes and Dots (Allison Griffith), Pineapple (Tanya Today)

That retro pineapple one is AMAZING, guys!  And it comes in a knit or a crocheted version, so anyone can do it.  And I like the way the Stripes and Dots one includes shaping for the spout -- not entirely necessary, but it sure makes your teapot look even comfier.  The thing that I think would be the biggest headache is if you have an oddly-sized teapot and have to adjust the pattern to fit. 

And if you're more into coffee, how about a French press cozy, or one for your takeout coffee cup?

Left image by Knit Culture Studio, right image by Sabrina Thompson

Free Pattern Friday: Olympic Knits!

Some people are obviously much, much better planners than I.  I found no fewer than three (free!) hat (top row and bottom row) and one cowl pattern featuring some colourwork reverse-engineered from pictures of the hats Team USA wore at the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. 

Pictures by (clockwise from top left) Aimee Pelletier and Carly Stipe, The Wool & Cotton Co., Tanis Gray, Susan Rainey   

I didn't find any patterns replicating the hats for Team Canada, but they don't look very difficult to reverse-engineer:

 Image byfrom Metro News

Image byfrom Metro News

I bet if you zoomed in you could even count the rows and the stitches!

If you need a bit more of a challenge, there's this curling-inspired beauty:

 Image by STASH Lounge

Image by STASH Lounge

I did just watch mixed-doubles curling (waaay more entertaining than regular curling, for my money) for the first time, so I know am all ready for a rock-festooned hat.

And you could always knit your family this matching set! Hee!

 Image by Patons

Image by Patons

Free Pattern Friday: Valentine's Knitting

It's almost Valentine's Day!  Does anyone celebrate this holiday?  As the parent of a preschooler, I find myself celebrating every little holiday, largely with themed crafts and candy.  Always candy. 

Sometimes with knitting too, though!  I found some nice small projects that you could probably finish in time for Valentine's Day, if you start right away and give up sleeping for the next little while.  Ha!

Seriously, hats with hearts are so cute!  Clockwise from top left:  Heart Pops Hat, Hearts on Repeat Hat, Heart Emoji Beanie, Love the Winter Hat

Pictures by (clockwise from top left) Valley Yarns, Juliana Lustenader, Sheepy Shenanigans, Emily Dormier

And what about socks with hearts?  From left to right, Keep Me Searching For a Heart of Gold, Love Socks, Hearts Afire Socks 

Pictures by strickprinzessin, Devon Clement, Miss Babs

And you can't leave out mittens (Freja mitts) and cowls (Choose Love Cowl), can you?

Pictures by Fredrik Ulinder (left) and Kelsey Stephens (right)

And though I am mostly into wearable projects, this crochet-bedecked Reasons I Love You Jar is too adorable, and I love the crocheted interpretation of Danish hearts (which I've only seen done with paper before):

Pictures by Nicole Hedrick (left) and alipyper (right)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See and Knit: Vogue Knitting Winter 2017/18

I apologize for a) the missing post last Friday (silly me, I set it to come out on March, not February, 2nd, by mistake; it will be coming out this Friday instead) and b) the lateness of this post.  I won't bore you with the details, but LIFE, you know.

I am not the biggest fan of Vogue Knitting magazine (just not my style, I guess) but I am loving the yoke patterns in the Winter 2017/2018 issue.  Maybe not that cold-shoulder one, but nearly all the rest of them.  Sweaters with colourwork yokes aren't new, of course, but I like what Vogue has done with the colours (bright colours in a knitting magazine, finally!) and the patterns are so eye-catching.  Plus there's a little bit of wrong-side-of colourwork pattern in the rightmost sweater in the top row.

All images by Vogue Knitting

Check out pictures of all the patterns in the issue here.

 

Camouflage Knitting

I cannot even think how much patience it takes to execute a project like this.  A collaboration between photographer Joseph Ford and knitter Nina Dodd, camouflage knitting features some gorgeous knitted garments that fit perfectly into their surroundings.  Kudos to anyone detail-oriented enough to do this!   Spending the time knitting (apparently Dodd says she could spend up to 40 hours on a single garment in this collection) is something I could do, but the painstaking arrangement for the photograph is another kettle of fish.

All photos by Joseph Ford

Five Children's Books That Feature Knitting

So much do I love knitting that I take my ardour into other areas that aren't usually knitting-related, like children's books.  Whenever I'm at the library with my daughter and spot a book that features knitting, I take it home, and my daughter is kind enough to put up with my obsession. 

When I say books that feature knitting, I tend to really like ones where the act of knitting, or an explicitly hand-knitted item, is a central part of the story.  And I really, really like ones where I can tell whether the author is a knitter (or knows knitting well).   These are five of my favourite ones:

Freddie's Blanket by Joanna Johnson

I know she's written more books, but this is the one I've read the most.  Have you ever noticed how three-year-olds fall totally in love with certain books, and make you read them until you've memorized them?  Yeah, we've done that with Freddie's Blanket, most recently.  In addition to a charming story about a lovingly hand-knitted blanket, there are knitting patterns at the end, for the blanket and swaddle illustrated in the story, as well as a stuffie of Freddie and his sister.  Very appealing for knitty families like mine!  Johnson has also designed many other knits; you can check them out here.

Milo Armadillo by Jan Fearnley

Super cute story about a homely and lovable armadillo knitted from scraps, and as a bonus knitted and crocheted fabric makes up

Knit Together by Angela Dominguez

As a mother, I very much look forward to the day when my daughter will be ready to learn to knit.  She really wants to learn, but she doesn't quite have the attention span required.  She will soon, I think, and the fact that she keeps asking me to teach her, and grabs my yarn and pretends to knit, just warms my heart.  In this book, a mother and daughter collaborate on a knitting project because as much as the daughter wants to knit, she isn't finding success.  The daughter draws and the mother knits and together, they make something beautiful.  Not the most knitterly of books, but it has a special sentimental meaning for me.

Don't Slam The Door by Dori Chaconas

A knotty pair of socks is in the process of being knitted in this story, and Chaconas has a wonderfully poetic ear.  It usually takes me a few reads of her books before I feel I can really do justice to the rhythms in her stories -- they're that sophisticated.

Annie Hoot and the Knitting Extravaganza by Holly Clifton-Brown

The bright, cheery illustrations really make this story about an owl that knits and knits and knits, including some very unorthodox things (hot-air balloon, sailboat, parachute...).  And I found myself trying to figure out whether I can turn some of Annie Hoot's many colourwork patterns into real stitches.

Sweater Twelve, Installment One: Lizzie

1.  What's the pattern?

Lizzie, by Julie Weisenberger (from Cocoknits Sweater Workshop).  You can follow along with my progress here.

2.  Which yarn did you choose?

I'm destashing!  Four skeins of Cascade 220 Paints in Red Mix.  It's not quite enough yardage for a full sweater in my size, but with a top-down pattern, I can stop the sleeves whenever I run out.

3.  What size are you making?

I'm making the second size, which is a medium, and supposedly will fit me with a tiny bit of negative ease.

4.  Any modifications?

My gauge is slightly off, but I'm waiting to try on the sweater and see if it will matter.

5.  Would you knit this again?

Yes, definitely!  In fact, I did the yoke twice (my gauge was off and it was too tight the first time), and the second time was much easier going, as I'd already learned the techniques and figured out how the pieces were going to come together to make a sweater.  Also easier because the gauge wasn't as tight, and so things like picking up stitches became easier.

 You can see the clips holding the collar to the back neck, and the pick-up line for the shoulder, as well as the top of the sleeve cap (over on the left side)

You can see the clips holding the collar to the back neck, and the pick-up line for the shoulder, as well as the top of the sleeve cap (over on the left side)

Free Pattern Friday: Pine Sway Cowl

The Pine Sway Cowl (on Rav), designed by Juju Vail, is a great way to add some colour to your wardrobe, and the yarn choice is perfect (a woolly, slightly hairy yarn that has good stitch definition).  Lovely!  And I think that herringbone pattern would make a great bottom hem for a sweater, BTW.  Or on a hat! 

Photos by Juju Vail

Taking Stock, November 2017

Making: Lizzie sweater from Cocoknits Sweater Workshop
Cooking:  paneer, butternut squash, and chickpea curry with naan
Drinking: hot apple cider, stirred with a cinnamon stick
Wanting:  to keep the sweetness and wonder of a three-year-old in a bottle forever (last week she told me I was a landlubber because I don't live on the sea)

Looking: at the poor little snowshoe hare in the front yard, bedding down in the snow and huddling against the wind
Playing: a lot of indoor games!  Duplo/Lego is such a good toy for everyone
Deciding: that what other nuts, fruits, and seeds (and secretly, candy) I can make into these
Wishing: it would warm up just a little; -20 Celsius in November is a bridge too far for this Ontarian

Enjoying: pasta with red sauce and a fried egg on top...try it!
Waiting: for Christmas...normally I'm not too eager, but the snow has me planning out holiday baking and mocking up our holiday card
Liking: Ann Leary, an author I've only recently discovered (The Good House is where I started -- man, do I like New England novels)
Wondering: how I can fit more cakes into my life!  I've made two for birthdays this month:

Loving: my new Japanese Stitch Dictionary, which is so inspiring and makes me want to pick up the needles
Pondering: exercise physiology...studying for AFLCA exam, which is in less than three weeks!
Considering: whether it's too early to put up the Christmas decorations!
Buying: Flipside leggings from Encircled -- reversible and made in Canada!

Watching: The Big Fat Quiz on Youtube...my sister got me onto these and I cannot stop laughing
Marvelling: at how stubborn a three-year-old can be
Cringing: over how difficult it is to dance and yell at the same time...but I'm learning!
Needing: a vacation!  Christmas can't come too soon.

Questioning: which Christmas cookies to make this year.  I usually try to have a variety (one bar, one drop, one rolled, one molded, etc.) and to try new ones every year, and there are just too many to choose from. 
Smelling: coffee; always coffee
Wearing: cozy wool knits, like my True Friend, Icelandic Star, and Hawkherst sweaters
Noticing: Bristol Ivy's new book is out...have you picked it up? Some of the patterns look incredible

Knowing: that I spent too much on Black Friday sales...I shopped online and in person!
Thinking: about picking up the Winter 2018 issue of Interweave Knits (a ton of colourwork yokes)
Admiring: The Wailin' Jennys http://www.thewailinjennys.com/...no new album or anything, just diving back through my iTunes playlist
Sorting: all sorts of stuff to donate to charity...yay, decluttering!

Getting: apprehensive that I won't be able to achieve my twelve sweaters project!  Ack
Bookmarking: Ulla, a magazine of free knitting patterns in Finnish (some of the patterns are in English, and there's always Google Translate)
Coveting: a velvet holiday dress
Disliking: how housework is never, ever done...once you "finish," you just have to start back at the beginning

Opening: my new wireless headset microphone, for teaching fitness classes
Giggling: over how my three-year-old recognizes logos already.  She recognized the PC logo on the bottom of some silicone cupcake liners yesterday, and said she'd seen it when we did groceries.
Feeling: good about getting all my Christmas shopping done early
Snacking: on roasted pumpkin seeds!  Halloween bonus:  we always carve the pumpkin on the 31st, display it for the night, then cut it up, roast it, and puree it on November 1st.  It lasts for months in the freezer.
Hearing: podcasts (Call Your Girlfriend, Reply All, Double X, and Because News)

Thanks to Pip Lincolne of Meet Me At Mike's for the inspiration!

I Could Knit That!: Andreas Throw Blanket

There isn't a pattern for this blanket but you could certainly hack it!  The dimensions are given as 60"x50", there's a garter stitch border (six or eight stitches wide, by my count) and a seed stitch middle -- super easy, especially because you can zoom in on the product photo and literally count how many stitches there are.  And then you just have to make a bunch of pompoms so giant they're verging on mop territory (I love that you don't even need a pompom maker, because you just use an entire skein!), and four enormous tassels for the corners. 

  Image by Anthropologie

Image by Anthropologie

I know the yarn would likely cost more than buying this blanket, even including shipping, but the advantage in knitting your own is that you could choose the colour and the fibre content (wool or a wool blend, that would be my choice).  Also you would increase your upper body strength while knitting, just because of the weight of the thing.

When you're done the blanket, you can start tasselling and pompoming everything, Anthro-style.  Is it just me, or do some things need just a *teeny* bit of editing?

Free Pattern Friday: Fox Grape mittens

I finished a hat a little while ago, and so mittens are natural follow-up.  The Fox Grape mittens (by Amy Christoffers) from Berroco are beautiful; I love the way the colour scheme is reversed on the top and bottom halves of the mittens.  The only thing I might change is to figure out a tighter cuff; I think it won't look as nice but loose, garter-stitch cuffs let in a surprising amount of wind and snow.  Maybe they would just have to be shoulder-season mitts...

Images by Berroco

Free Pattern Friday: Knotions November 2017

Knotions magazine is coming out with a new issue, and there's a preview http://knotions.com/newsletter/preview-november-2017/ here.  You won't have to wait long to access the whole thing, though -- it will be released tomorrow (Saturday, November 18th).  I count 11 free patterns!

KnotionsNov17.jpg

The Autumn Cornucopia shawl looks really neat; it looks like it's shaped with short rows.  The detail on the Center Street pullover is beautiful, and I like that there are a couple of crochet projects too (the Snowcapped Cowl and Hat). 

As always, there are couple of articles on knitting techniques, and Knotions also has an extensive archive of patterns and articles, if tomorrow just seems too far away.

Knitscene Winter 2017

The Winter 2017 issue of Knitscene is out already.  A lot of white and light grey knits, predictably, with Heather Zoppetti's cowl being the only stand-out for me.  The issue does also have an article on stranded colourwork, which seems appropriate since at least a third of the patterns in the issue employ this technique.

I'm finding it hard to get excited about winter knitting now, probably because winter has already hit here!  That is, if you don't have something to wear now, you won't be able to leave the house until you do (because it's just too cold; highs this week are around -10 Celsius.  That's actually a warm-up, because last week the highs were more like -20 Celsius).  Then again, we can always use a new, beautiful winter accessory, right?  It always feels so much better to me to wear natural fibres like wool (unless you're allergic, I guess, though there are always alternatives) than the pilly, scratchy acrylics that ready-made knit sweaters and accessories are composed of.

Images by Interweave Knits

FO: Hot Mess Headband

After digging in on so many sweater projects this year, I'd really forgotten how nice it is to have smaller, instant-gratification project finished.  So little knitting, so little finishing; a quick knit.

When I was knitting this, I thought the "hot mess" part referred to the way the headband looks right after you finish the cable in the middle.  Mine kept wanting to twist back to its original orientation, essentially looking like the backside of a cable with no stitches on either side to keep it in place.  In fact, and I don't know what came over me, I had to take three runs at the cable before I managed to get it right -- chalk it up to the sheer size (I've never done a 12x12 cable before) and the fact that it's an isolated twist, with nothing to hold it in place immediately.  So if at first you don't succeed, curse and rip out and try again.

Other than a few cable troubles, this was a very quick (two-evening) project.  I used needles one size smaller than recommended, and I made mine 2 stitches wider to try to compensate.  I also, if I weren't so excited to just get started, I would have realized that I should have done a provisional CO so I could do a three-needle bind-off at the end (easy peasy and clean-looking!).  Instead, I did a long-tail CO at the beginning, a suspended BO at the end, and then a neat-o crochet slip chain to seam it at the end.  Relatively painless, but a bit bulkier than I'd like.  Also for next time, I think the band could be 1 inch smaller in circumference, to better fit my head.  Overall, though, I'm very happy with my new headband.  When are you going to start yours?

Free Pattern Friday: Hot Mess Headband

This early winter weather has been a bit hard to work around, as my hair is so long and I sometimes have it in a bun or a ponytail, and then a hat doesn't fit over it.  The Hot Mess Headband by Heather Walpole is the perfect solution for keeping my ears warm, and it's so cute!  I love the turban-like twist, and it's not that bulky because the twist is made by cabling.

 Image by Ewe Ewe Yarns

Image by Ewe Ewe Yarns

I've got mine done already, and I'll show it to you on Monday.

 

FO: Pixie Hat

My coordinating set is finally complete!  I made two hats for myself and O last year, using up scraps of yarn (I mean, colourblocking), and I did the Adult Small size of PurlBee's Garter Stitch Hat for both.  I did also make one for H with leftover Madeline Tosh yarn, but it was too small (I think it was the baby size?).  So, because she really wanted in on the pokey-uppy hat (LOL, you have to love three-year-olds!) game, I made her one in the Kid size, in (what else?) pink and purple (sorry, Mallow and Rhubarb).  I'm still working and working on my sweaters, but I realized I need to have a small project going at all times so I can knit in the tiniest moments. 

PixieHat3.jpg

The yarn was leftovers in my stash, of the dearly defunct Mission Falls 1824 Wool variety.  I don't think I realize before how lovely this yarn is!  I had knitted and frogged it a couple of times, and it still knitted up beautifully; it was springy and lofty, with a smooth hand.  A couple of evenings of visiting with the in-laws and boom!  One new hat, one happy girl (though I can't say the candy had nothing to do with it):

Have you started your Christmas knitting yet?

Or maybe you're finished...!!

I was looking at this listicle the other day and a couple of the items really struck me:

17. Everyone wants you to knit them something for Christmas, and it seems like a great idea. Until you remember how time consuming and expensive two jumpers, three pairs of socks and six scarves will be.

18. So this year you promise yourself you’re going to start in July. And you’re still in a panicked rush at the start of Advent.

Yeah, that's usually where I am through most of the fall, actually.  I have, in the past, started my Christmas knitting on December 23rd, which is a terrible idea.  People, other than H, mostly don't ask me to knit stuff for them, but I really like giving hand-knit items to the ones I love (and the ones I can trust to take care of hand-knits).  Every year, I make an overly ambitious list of handmade gifts to make (in that it has more than zero items on it), and every year, I fail at it. There just isn't enough time in the world to get everything I want done.  So I'm declaring myself free this year: free of obligation to a list, and free of guilt.  If I get handmade gifts done, all the better; if I don't, then I will buy some chocolates and let it go.

 Image by Julie Williams at  Little Cotton Rabbits

Image by Julie Williams at Little Cotton Rabbits

Designing Fair Isle Yokes: Tin Can Knits

Those ladies at Tin Can Knits are just a factory for knitting patterns!  They've recently released a pattern -- maybe more like a recipe -- for a customizable fair-isle-yoke sweater pattern, called Strange Brew (is it bad that I've never seen that movie?)  It is not easy to design a fair isle yoke, because the stitch count in the rows or rounds changes throughout the yoke, but you still have to achieve the correct shape in the yoke.  A recipe like this would be really handy for plugging in the patterns and colours that you like.

TCKStrangeBrew.jpg

And if you don't feel like designing your own, they have some great patterns with fair isle yokes already; Tenderheart (left) and Clayoquot (middle) have been out for a while, and Dogstar (right) is a new one.

I have quite a few patterns from Tin Can Knits in my stash, and they're all very clear and come in a huge range of sizes (I'm not kidding; they size from infant to plus-size-adult, which is pretty rare in knitting patterns), so you do get a lot in a single pattern. 

All images by Tin Can Knits

Slip Sliding Away: Slippery Yarns

I am currently knitting True Friend with some incredibly slippery yarn.  Allegedly wool, though I can't be sure as I can't read the labels (in Chinese) and the slipperiness is really making me doubt my original judgment on the wool content (which, admittedly, was just guesswork to begin with). 

I got myself into a bit of a pickle when I was dragging the project around, not being careful enough.  I had the working end coming from the center, and the outside of the slippery, slippery skein started unravelling.  The two ends tangled, and I spent precious knitting time picking the ends apart and winding them back up.

 The offending ball...

The offending ball...

So that got me thinking about ways to hold together a center-pull ball made of slippery yarn.  Someone makes mesh "yarn bras" (I don't know why that term makes me shudder so much) which are basically like the mesh that fruits and vegetables come in.  I've done a DIY yarn bra; I find the one from a three-packof garlic is the right size for a typical yarn ball.  It worked well but the mesh started getting holes after a while (for what it's worth, the ones that you can buy look more robust than my DIY ones) and also the plastic mesh is slippery and can let the yarn free.  I've also seen people use old pantyhose -- you could just cut the foot off an old pair with runs (as an aside, is there anything you can't do with old pantyhose? https://thesecretyumiverse.wonderhowto.com/how-to/18-awesome-ways-reuse-old-pantyhose-0138241/ https://www.rd.com/home/cleaning-organizing/pantyhose-uses/ http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/20-interesting-household-uses-for-old-nylon-hose-stockings-212234).  And my last idea was a zip-top bag, with the zip unzipped just enough to let the working end of the yarn through.  And the ball inside the bag could twist and turn as much as it wants.  So far I've settled for winding the outside end very firmly around the middle of the center-pull ball, tucking it in tightly, and being very careful when I manipulate the ball.

Sweater Eleven, Installment Two: True Friend

I've accomplished the collar (easy peasy, and the twisted stitches look sharp) and the front and back panels (super-fun short rows followed by very tedious back-and-forth on a smallish number of stitches).  Then I spent an hour and a half last night picking up a total of 320 stitches, along the sides of the flat pieces, and now I'm on my fourth round with a total of 460 stitches.  Each round is taking forever, and there are so many stitches it's not "flowing" around the needles very well.  I've already joined the shortest and the longest cables from my interchangeable needle set to make an extra-long circular, and it's not enough.  The stitches bunch up in one place, so I have to stop periodically and move them around the needle. 

Despite all this, it's really fun to watch the sweater come together, especially now that I'm in the striped portion.  So...progress is happening, about as fast as a glacier creates a new valley.

TrueFriend2.jpg

It's a bit inscrutable in the imageabove, but the open part in the middle is in the neckhole, then there are two panels (front and back) in red, and then the striped portion is started by picking up stitches around the two panels.  The striped part is shaped with decreases at the shoulder seams and increases at the four corners of the panels (shown in the two images below).