Wednesday, November 30, 2016

June Cashmere // Beeswax Mitts

Over the Thanksgiving holiday break, I really wanted a quick, small knit (the Star Wars sweater is at an unwieldy intarsia part and all of my design work is at the "big decision time" part), so I used a skein of June Cashmere DK in Mulberry to make a pair of Beeswax Mitts. I've been moderately obsessed with this pattern since it was released (along with what feels like most of the rest of the knitting world), but I don't often have DK on hand, and I'm almost always short on non-design knitting time. The stars aligned over Thanksgiving and now I have either a beautiful little luxury Christmas gift or a new pair of mitts for me. Not sure which yet.

The June Cashmere is lovely. It's quite soft, as you'd expect from a 100% cashmere yarn. Love the color selection- great jewel tones + neutrals. Perfect for colorwork projects, perhaps? The skein is half size (50 grams, 150 yards), so that's definitely something to keep in mind if you plan to knit with it. I used nearly all of the skein (40 grams) to make these (short-ish) mitts. I don't think I would have had enough to do mittens. 

I like that this yarn is responsibly sourced in Kyrgyzstan and is transparent about where it's processed. Ever since I saw this John Oliver segment about sweatshops I've been trying hard to know where my clothes (and clothes-making materials) come from. The more free time I have, the better I feel about it, because more free time = more time to make my own clothes. Since we had to move into this apartment after the house flooded, I've sewn one single garment. There is simply nowhere to sew, and no place to store sewing stuff. I hate that. I've made a bunch of knitted stuff, so at least that's something, but I hate not being able to sew. I just want to move back into my house, please. 

Anyway. Back to the yarn. The yarn is made up of many, many tiny plies, which means that it does split easily. Once it splits, it's a bit hard to make the stitch look pretty again, so it's best to try hard to not split the yarn. I find that paying slightly more attention and using sharper needle tips helps me not split stitches, but I know other knitters swear by blunt tips. As always, you do you. 

Full disclosure: I was given this skein of June Cashmere in exchange for a review. I bought the mitts pattern because it's important to support indie designers like myself.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Finished: Marylebone Cardigan

I love this sweater. I debated knitting it or not, because it's bulky weight and I don't get to wear sweaters nearly as often as I'd like, but I decided to do it and I'm glad I did.

The pattern is Marylebone by Bristol Ivy. I used Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Bulky in Seaglass, a nice blue-green. I really like this yarn- I've used it for a few sweaters over the years. It's a teensy bit scratchy where it touches my skin, like at the back of my neck, but honestly I find most wools at least a little scratchy.

I knitted this sweater with no modifications, because I find that Brisol Ivy patterns (at least the ones I've made) are not really modify-able. It ended up a bit long- pretty much covers my butt- but I think that's ok, since I mostly made this cardigan to take on my Christmas trip to the Dakotas, where the temperature will likely be about -20 F and I will freeze to death unless I'm covered in wool. Also, the longer length means I can use it as a jacket here in Baton Rouge.

Parts of this pattern are pure genius. The back decreases are inside the antler cable. The back cable splits at the top, turns a corner, becomes the saddle, then merges with the front cable and becomes the sleeve cable. Who thinks of these things?? Knitting short-row cables was a wild ride, let me tell you. More details here on Ravelry.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Finished: Mielie Vest

I finished my Mielie Vest! Ravelry details here.

This was a lovely quick palate-cleansing sort of knit after the turmoil of my recent life. Also all of my recent magazine samples have been sport weight or thinner yarn (the last one was a DK linen/cotton that really hurt my hands), and sort of tricky to knit, so what I really needed was some super soft wool, size 9 needles, and stockinette. It was excellent. (I admit to getting just a little bored right at the end, but who doesn't with a project?)

Fits perfectly. I ordered these from Pacific Trimming and I love them. I pretty much just followed the directions on this knit. I did modify the pockets slightly after reading other people's notes on Ravelry. As written, the pocket doesn't extend all the way to the button band, and you seam it to the body fabric. A) that's silly, and b) it would result in a pocket that's not quite big enough. There is almost nothing worse than too-small pockets. So I did what a lot of other people have done and just worked the pocket from the side (eliminated the purl "faux seam", didn't want to interrupt my stockinette flow) to the edge where the button band would be. Then it was easy to just pick up stitches through both the pocket and the body fabric for the button band. Note: there is a LOT of picking up stitches to do throughout this knit. I got sick of it. I don't really like to pick up stitches.

The vest weighs 353 grams, which means I used about 3.5 skeins of the Malabrigo. I had a tiny little ball of yarn left over- 10 grams. I'd say that's cutting it pretty close. I had the original sweater that I frogged and talked about in this post (which must have only taken 2.5 skeins- doesn't seem like enough but ok) plus one random skein of this yarn. The random skein was clearly not the same dye lot, so I used it for the pockets and the collar only. In hindsight I should have alternated it into the body fabric, but I didn't actually think I'd need it, so it was sort of an "oops I need more yarn oh look I have this skein!" sort of thing, and also I don't think anyone will notice except me.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Nazareth Yarns // Spicule Hat

 I recently received a skein of a new-to-me yarn: Kraemer Yarns Naturally Nazareth. It's a worsted-weight merino blend, and I'd compare it to a good, solid workhorse yarn like Cascade 220. I got the Breeze colorway, which is entirely un-descriptive of the pretty purple-red heather, but hey, they get to name their yarns whatever they want. I really love the color. It's probably the best heather I've ever seen in person. Terrific color. I do love reddish purples.

The best part of this yarn, in my opinion, is that it's entirely US made. The sheep live in the US, and they spin the yarn in Pennsylvania. As someone who cares about where her clothes come from, this is important. As sewers and knitters, it's easy to feel all high and mighty because we know where these jeans came from (I made them in my sewing room), but it's easy to overlook the materials- I admit that I have no idea where the denim came from. That bothers me a little bit, because who's to say that the denim wasn't made in a sweatshop overseas, which is the exact thing I'm trying to avoid by sewing my own jeans? No one, that's right. If you're also concerned about these things, well then here you go. A wool that's grown and processed in this country, comes in pretty colors and good yardage, and knits up well. Done, and done.

I decided to make this yarn into a hat, for reasons that I'm still not clear on. Possibly I will give this as a Christmas gift. Or I'll add it to my hat collection. Don't know. I just wanted to knit something fairly quick after the dumpster fire of a week it's been for this country and for human rights. And I like twisted stitches.

I picked Hunter Hammerson's Spicule pattern. It's a great pattern because you actually get three different hat patterns in one, PLUS patterns for miniature (Christmas ornament) sized versions of each hat. AND she gives you a chart of three different gauge/cast-on combos for each hat, so there are tons and tons of options for sizing. A bargain for sure.

I made the Frazil version. If you like twisted knit stitches, and luckily I do, this is the hat for you. The cables are twisted as well which is totally neat. If you do want to make a hat from this pattern, I'd highly, highly recommend learning to cable without a cable needle if you don't already know how to do that. I think I would have been terribly annoyed if I had to use a cable needle while knitting.

Anyway. The yarn. The longer I knitted with this yarn, the more I liked it. At first I thought maybe it wouldn't be soft enough for next-to-skin wear, but somehow it seemed to soften up as I was knitting. It's a good solid yarn- like what I would want to knit a sweater for my husband. A perfectly wooly wool. And the color! I can't get over the perfect heather. I do love a good heather.

Full disclosure: I received this yarn for free in exchange for a review. I bought the pattern because it's so important to support indie designers.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Gift-A-Long 2016

It's that time of year again- the Gift-A-Long 2016 is about to start. In case you didn't participate last year, it's basically a giant enabling session on Ravelry that starts with a week-long 25% off sale and morphs into a virtual knitting party where everyone tries to get one million things knitted before Christmas. I think that last year 300 designers participated, and I suspect that this year it's more, but I'm not sure. Each designer has between 5 and 20 patterns on sale during the sale week (November 22nd to 30th). Here are mine:

Use coupon code giftalong2016 to get 25% off these patterns Nov 22nd to 30th. 

I'm planning to pick up a few patterns during the sale. I definitely want to make these amazing earmuffs that I honestly can't believe haven't been made a few hundred times. I've got some leftover Malabrigo, and I just ordered some purple-y roving from the Knit Picks Cyber Monday sale to use as the thrums... earmuffs for everyone!

photo borrowed from Faye Kennington

Once the Gift-A-Long actually starts all of the sale patterns will be browesable on Pinterest, so I'll likely find a few more patterns that I must make. 

If you've been thinking about making any of those 20 patterns of mine, now's a good time! Happy gifting!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

New Patterns Out Lately

I've published a few things lately and though it would be easier to just lump them together in one post.

I've got two self-publications, and one with a digital magazine. Magazine first!

This is the Arctic Cardigan from the December Issue of I Like Knitting, an online-only magazine.

It's an open-front cardigan with pockets, drop sleeves, and a big cozy shawl collar. It's knitted in Cascade 220 Superwash Aran, which I LOVED working with. So squishy, great stitch definition. love. 

Next: Fionn Mitts. This was my dipping-my-toe-back-into-designing pattern after getting my head back on straight from the flood. I used a new Knit Picks yarn, Wonderfluff. If I could knit my life out of Wonderfluff, I would. It's like knitting with baby kittens wrapped up in cashmere blankets on a bed of clouds. 

The Fionn Mitts are an easy pair of long fingerless mitts with a knot stitch pattern on the backs. The mitts are shaped through the wrists for a close fit, and they have a thumb gusset. While Wonderfluff is considered a bulky weight yarn, it works at a lot of different gauges, so I recommend a worsted, aran, or bulky for this pattern, depending on how YOU knit. Anything that knits to gauge is fine. I know some of my testers used Malabrigo Worsted and it was perfect. 

You can get this pattern for half price- just $2- until November 22nd. No coupon code needed.

Lastly, the Maurepas Sweater. I call this my flood sweater because I was working on it when the house flooded, and I saved it from ruin by simply moving my WIP box up higher before we had to evacuate.

I knitted the sample in Cascade Longwood, an aran-weight wool that's made up of lots of plies so it looks like it has a tighter twist. Maurepas is knitted from the bottom up in pieces, with a slightly longer back than front. The front and back are seamed, and stitches are picked up around the armholes for top-down drop-shoulder sleeves. The body has an all-over cable pattern where the cables get longer the closer you get to the top. The sleeves have a little cable panel right at the top. I made my sample to have be off-the-shoulder, but there are instructions for a "normal" neckline included as well, if the 80s aren't your thing.

This one is 40% off until November 22nd with coupon code Maurepas.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Knit Picks Cyber Monday Sale!!

Eeeeee, it's getting to be that time of year- cyber Monday sales on yarn and fabric! Knit Picks always has a really good sale, and the best (worst) part is that it lasts like a week, so once you place your initial order you can really think about everything you didn't buy the first time, and you can place your second (third) order(s) before the sale is over. In 2013, I admit to placing three different orders, two of which showed up in the mail on the same day. I was slightly embarrassed about that, but not enough to not do it again. :)

The sale starts Monday, November 14th at 6 am PST, so 8 am my time. I made a shopping list already, even though we don't know what, specifically, will be on sale. It's just so that I don't panic and either buy everything or nothing, both of which I've done before.

I'd love to make the Channel Cardigan in WofA Tweed in Brass Heather, or, if City Tweed is 50% off, I might go with that instead. So pretty. Maybe, if I knit fast, I can finish this one while it's still "winter" here in Louisiana.

I'm also thinking I'd like to make a baby blanket version of Umaro in a machine-washable yarn like Brava Bulky, maybe in Seraphim or Tranquil? Since the baby's room doesn't have things like walls yet, I haven't painted or bought anything, so my baby color palette is wide open. We're thinking of going with a nature theme for the nursery, and I think this blue-green would work well. 

I've got a bunch of other stuff on my shopping list, too, but those are the two big ones. I'm so excited! Because just what I need is a big box of yarn that I a) have no place to store in my tiny temporary apartment, and b) won't have time to knit once the baby is born, but I don't really care. It's been a YEAR and if doing a little yarn shopping will help make me feel better about life, then I'm all for it. I'd highly recommend checking out that sale! 

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Getting things knitted

The flood totally messed with my design-submission schedule, so after completing those five designs I was under contract for, I've got a couple self-pubs in progress but that's it- no other magazine designs in progress. I'm using this opportunity to knit a couple things I've been wanting to, but haven't had time for. I figure that now, before the baby's born, this is the time to knit the octopus sweater, even though I won't be able to wear it this year, right?

Number one on my self-indulgent knit list was Marylebone by Bristol Ivy. I started knitting about two weeks ago and holy moly is it quick. I want to have this done so I can wear it at Christmas in the Dakotas, where it actually is cold and I might legitimately freeze to death. I've got the body and one sleeve done. Should be able to finish in a week or two. I do love bulky weight yarn and size 10 needles.

This is probably the cleverest, most interesting construction I've ever seen. The above photo is the saddle of the sleeve, traveling down the sleeve. The cables of the back and front merge to form the saddle. It's wild. I felt like a straight up magician knitting those cable turns. 

Along with Marylebone I'm working on the Star Wars Christmas sweater from my previous post. I switch off between the two based on my feelings. Colorwork and cables have pretty different mindsets. Both are coming along really well, I have to say, and I'm pleased that we'll each have a new sweater for our Christmas trip.

Before Christmas, I also really want to make Kevin's hat from Home Alone. I've had yarn for it for like a year, and it didn't get ruined in the flood- score.

To sum up.
Goals before the baby is born (or really, before Christmas):
Finish Marylebone
Finish the Fair Isle Star Wars Christmas sweater
Knit Octopus sweater
Knit the Home Alone Christmas hat

Let's do this!! I am nothing if not eternally optimistic.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Star Wars Christmas Sweater

Someone please tell me what I was thinking.

I've agreed to knit my husband a Fair Isle Star Wars Christmas sweater, with no pattern. He wants X-wings, Stormtroopers, lightsabers, and the Death Star. Must look like a tacky Christmas sweater. I'm not totally sure what I was doing when I agreed to this- I can't even drink because I'm pregnant, so we can't blame the wine.

Weird judgement aside, I think it will be pretty cool. I normally HATE bottom-up sweaters where you knit body and sleeves, then join them, but that's what I'm doing in this case. I thought about it a lot and it seemed like the best way. I'm doing a circular-yoke pullover, in keeping with the classic Fair Isle theme. I started with a sleeve because I didn't feel like swatching, and a sleeve is basically a big swatch. I'm getting 5 sts/inch, which is a nice, quick gauge, but it doesn't allow for too much detail in the motifs. I wish I could have gotten just a bit more detail in the Stormtroopers, but honestly, they look like what they are, he likes them, moving on.

Pretty desperately needs a blocking.

The body is going to be slightly trickier than the sleeves. He wants a big panel over the chest that has a fight scene with the Death Star and various space ships. There's no way to do it except with intarsia. I'm thinking that I'm going to work in the round up to the panel, split the body into front and back, cast on an extra stitch at each side for seaming, then work back and forth in intarsia. Once the panels are done, I'll seam them together, continue in the round for an inch or so, pretending the seams never happened, then join body and sleeves for the yoke. The yoke will have rebel alliance symbols along with classic Fair Isle motifs.

I'm using Cascade 220 for the main color and the light blue. The white, two grays, red, and green (for lightsabers) are Knit Picks WotA Worsted. I'm planning to duplicate stitch the lightsaber blades in afterwards because I might be nuts, but I'm not crazy. Didn't want to do any three-color rounds. I tried that with the Stormtroopers, but my gauge went all over the place, each round took for-e-ver, and it looked pretty terrible. Ripped it back and did the whole helmet in white, then duplicate stitched the gray over the top. So much faster, so much better.

Stay tuned for progress.