Monday, December 31, 2007

blue shoes for the new year

Happy New Year! As a gift for the new year I have a free scarf pattern to give you. It is not ready yet, but here is a preview of the finished item in a poor photo that doesn't show the true attractiveness of this scarf, mainly due to the crummy background of a faded, bleached towel.

I have briefly blogged about this scarf in previous posts about the Christmas scarves I knit for friends in 2006. This was my absolute favorite out of 15 scarves. I named it Blue Shoes and Happiness (Blue Shoes for short) after the book I listened to as I knit it. Blue Shoes and Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith is the 7th of the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency Series featuring South African sleuth and font of wisdom, Precious Ramotswe. I like to think that the charm of this gentle mystery (barely a mystery novel) and its narration by Lisette Lecat was communicated to the scarf.

Appropriately, as McCall Smith is a Scotsman, the design, to me, has a Scottish feel. I think it is partly in the stitch pattern, which suggests plaid, and partly in the short sideways fringe, which suggests a kilt. I gave the scarf away without writing down the pattern. But the pattern is simple enough, and the item is small enough for me to reproduce it by knitting it again (for myself of course).

Part of the reason for the Christmas scarf project was to give myself the chance to experiment with yarns that might be too expensive to risk on a whole project. A silk/wool/cashmere Japanese import, Noro Cash Iroha, is in this category. It currently retails for about $12. per 100 yd., 50 gram skein at local yarn stores, making a basic sweater cost $120, never mind cables. That is a lot for me to spend.

This yarn seduced me though. The yarn is part of the reason why this is my favorite scarf. It has a beautiful soft shine and is smooth and soft to the touch and looks luxuriously heavy, like thick silk fabric. But it is light because of its wool and nylon content. Its only drawback for this project is its thick and thinness. This feature would add a lot of interest to a plain stockinette pattern, but is not perfect for this plaid-like basket weave. Never mind. Although if you want to knit the scarf, plain Cascade 220 or Lamb's Pride worsted, or Paton's Classic Merino would work well. I hope to have the pattern ready next time. Meanwhile, here is a new photo of the work in progress.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


I have been wanting to blog about Amanda's Squatty Sidekick for the past month or so because I had some adventures in knitting it. But it was a Christmas gift for someone who might see the blog, so I had to keep it a secret. The pattern for this little felted cutie is on the Interweave Press "Knitting Daily" website and can be accessed through the link in the first sentence.

The pattern calls for about 200 yards of a feltable (wool) worsted weight yarn, so it's great for using project leftovers. It is knit on large needles, so it takes no time at all to make.

I used a few different shades of dark red in Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride Worsted, a good felting yarn, although it takes longer to felt than some. My finished bag showed subtle striping, obscured by the felting for a subtly variegated effect. The problem? The bag was way too floppy and kind of small even though it measures 11 1/2" wide and 6" high after felting, larger than the finished measurements given in the pattern.

My little squatty was so cute that I kept it, but I had to do better. I doubled the yarn (I still had enough reds left over), used larger needles (size 13 US rather than 10 1/2) and decided to widen and lengthen the bag's proportions to make it more usable. This should be a piece of cake. After all, I blog about knitting so I must be very good at it, right?

Wrong. My next attempt was so misshapen that I had to frog it immediately or die of embarrassment. I had added stitches in what I thought was a simple continuation of the increase/ decrease sequence of the pattern, but no. It didn't work.

My last and most successful attempt at Squatty is pictured on top. Here is a comparison of the first (single strand) and last (double strand) squatties:

Yes, the size of the final version makes it more usable, but it is the firmness of the thicker fabric that really does the trick. Here are the final Squatty stats:

Prefelted measurements: 19" wide; 13 1/2" tall; 21" long strap

Measured after 2 long washer cycles to felt: 12 1/2" wide; 6 1/2" tall; 15" strap

The construction of the Squatty is so clever. The bottom of the bag is made first as a back and forth-knitted rectangle on a circular needle. The live stitches along one side of the rectangle are kept on the needle and stitches are picked up along the other three sides to start the body. The body (with its careful sequence of increases and decreases) is knit in the round in one piece. At the top of the body, some stitches are bound off and some are kept on a holder for the flap. Others are kept on another holder for the base of the handle. A group of stitches on one side is worked on for the handle. When the handle is long enough, the handle stitches are grafted to the reserved stitches on the other side of the bag. In other words, the bag is made in all one piece. Much more elegant to knit than to describe.

Monday, December 24, 2007

rowan fits

A recent thread in the Ravelry 'Rowan Love' forum reminded me of a sweater I made this past Summer. It is a menswear pattern called Mason from the exquisite Rowan Vintage Knits book. Besides the fact that I already had the yarn (Rowan Yorkshire Tweed Chunky in Coast, a greyish blue tweed) and wasn't sure what to do with it, I don't know why I decided to knit a man's pattern for myself. The photo in the book was kind of macho looking. One feature of the sweater was the description which suggested that it would be good for winter gardening. That is probably what sold me.

Here is the finished product:

Pretty Cute, yes? I knit this sweater in a man's small which was meant to fit a 38" chest. As you can see from the photo, I am pretty chunky (though NOT as chunky as the photo makes me look). My chest is more than 38" and I usually wear a store-bought women's large, which would translate to a man's medium.

Now maybe my gauge was off, but not that off. I chose the size small based on the finished measurement which was 45" around. That is pretty big for a small, and 3-5 inches bigger than I usually knit for myself. The only modifications I made were to shorten the body a little and the sleeves a lot. I also narrowed the sleeve because I hate floppy sleeves. And I left off the huge cable that is supposed to run down the arm, thinking it would broaden my already broad figure.

Here is what is really odd about this sweater:

It fits my husband, who usually wears a man's large. And he likes it. He has never liked a sweater that I've made for him. He actually asked to try it on when he saw it. So now I know that if I ever knit him a Rowan design I will probably chose the size small. Never in a million years would I have thought to do that if I hadn't seen him in this sweater.

Anyway, I like the sweater too. It is comfortable to wear and move in; the largeness is not too floppy. I can see myself doing my winter pruning in it, but I guess I will have to share.

Best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

sweater design by the book

Ann Budd is an editor of Interweave Knits who has published a number of designs and several books focusing on knitwear design. So last month, when I started a sweater of my own design, I turned to my own library and the Internet for help with the trickiest parts - neck, shoulders, armscye, and sleeve cap. For me, the most difficult calculations are for the sleeve cap.

The Knitters Handy Book of Sweater Patterns by Ann Budd has a section on sweaters with set-in sleeves. But I found little guidance here on sweater design. Budd works with a variety of sweater styles such as drop shoulder, seamless yoke, or raglan; sets of sizes ranging from 26" to 54" inches around; and gauges from 3 to 7 stitches per inch. Within these parameters, you can fit your own sweater design, but you are bound to the conventions of fit and proportion established by the author. Each sweater type has a long series of charts that you can follow like a recipe to know how much to cast on, where to increase and decrease, when to bind off, etc. Here is a section of the chart for sleeves. You can see that you don't get the principles of design from this. No doubt you can knit a sweater, but you wouldn't understand how to draft the measurements that would fit the sweater together and to your body.

In my library however, I found this treasured classic of sweater design:

Sweater Design in Plain English was published in 1990. In it, Maggie Righetti uses examples and simple formulas to help you calculate the measurements you need to make your set in sleeves fit, as well as calculations for chest width, length, shoulder slope, neckline, etc. In short, everything you need to design a sweater to your own specifications.

As given in her examples, Righetti's ideas of design and fit don't jibe with mine. Her design aesthetic seems dated. But that doesn't matter. With this book you get the tools you need to do it your own way.

So I designed my armscye and sleeves based on Righetti's advice. I haven't finished the sweater yet. I'll let you know how it comes out. But along the way I found two incredible Internet resources. Lucia, the Knitting Fiend, on whom I have a knitter's crush, has made a sleeve cap calculator. Check it out. And while you are there check out the endless number of calculators, tips, techniques, patterns, and how to's that Lucia provides out of the kindness of her heart.

The invaluable Jenna Wilson, through the wonder of Knitty, has also published a series called "Ravellings on the Knitted Sleeve" which includes a wonderful article on sleeve types, and a fabulous primer on creating a set in sleeve.

Monday, December 17, 2007

afghans for babies

Continuing with the theme of afghans, I want to show some afghans I made for baby gifts. And speaking of Doctor Who, this afghan that I made in 2005 best represents the colors of the Doctor Who scarves. I must not have been able to fit all of these colors into the afghan I made for our living room.

Unfortunately, I do not have a photo of this creation. It is based on a picture I saw in one of the Vogue Knitting on the Go baby books. Below is a photo of the notes I made for it. You can see that is was square, 35" x 35". The outside was 2 rows of squares with a square of contrasting color in the center. The inside portion was 12 row stripes. I knit it in one piece in stockinette stitch. There was a garter stitch border around the outside.

The good thing about this afghan was the richness and sophistication of the colors for a baby afghan. The bad thing was the blocking, or lack thereof. It would have worked better in wool. As it was, I was not able to get it to lay perfectly square and flat. Also, I picked up the garter stitch border after the main portion was knitted, and I did not pick up the correct number of stitches. It tended to flare. I think that means I picked up too many stitches. I am embarrassed to admit that I did not redo it, as the baby shower was upon me.

The next afghan, actually made 6 months earlier than the one above, was not finished in time for the shower, but I was able to show off the pieces. It is the fish afghan from Knitters magazine, Summer 1998 issue. It also appears in Baby and Toddlers: A Knitters Dozen. There are many examples of the finished afghan in Ravelry.

I also failed to take a photo of this finished project. I guess I did not have a digital camera yet. Here is the afghan as it appeared in the magazine:
It was particularly apt for my pregnant friend, because she loves fishies. Note that the designer of this piece chose to make it in 2 colors. I chose to make in 4 related colors in my favorite color combination of blue and green, using Lion Brand Wool Ease. Here is a photo of the yarn I used and some notes showing how I alternated the colors in rows. My daughter, who is good at math, helped me to work out the color sequence.
If you check out the photos in Ravelry, you will see that this afghan is considered to be a good scrap afghan, because so many people who made it used a variety of colors, a different color for each fish. I like the results better in the restricted sequence of colors I used. I think it looks more harmonious. With many blocks of unrelated colors, it is hard to know where to rest your eye. The Wool Ease yarn also worked well for this project. It is soft, and while not entirely blockable, it blocked some. Sewing the fish together (I think I used matress stitch, not crochet) put them under a tension that made them hold their shape.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

afghans I have known

On Monday of this week I blogged about my beloved Doctor Who afghan. It got me to thinking about other afghans in my life. Here is the swatch from the one I made for my daughter and son-in-law when they moved into their new house.The pattern I used is the bottom stripes of the scanned swatch (above). I used the Garter Stitch Chevron pattern from the Harmony Guide. Isn't this a crummy-looking looking scan? You may or may not be able to read my notes indicating that I cast 232 stitches onto a #8 (US) circular needle. I knit the afghan back and forth horizontially over a finished width of 48" and to a finished length of 60". For myself, I would have made a bigger afghan, but my daughter wanted it fairly wide, but not too long.

As the swatch scan indicates, the stitch pattern made a lovely sawtooth border for itself, so an edging was not required. The finished afghan is pretty - kind of girly in its wavy pattern, but manly in its coloring.

The tan and brown shades of the Lion Brand Wool Ease I used coordinate with the caramel walls and darkish green upholstery in the family room with its big-screen tv. The room is much-used but chilly, so the afghan has come in handy. I used Wool Ease because of its washability, but it worked well for this in general. It is very soft.

I love chevron and ripple patterns. I have the Jan Eaton Ripple Patterns book, but what else can you do with ripple paterns besides afghans? I would love to hear some other ideas from you.

Monday, December 10, 2007

doctor who revisited

In 2002 or 2003, to please a new boyfriend, my daughter made three massively huge Doctor Who scarves. She carefully chose the colors of acrylic yarn (two were similarly muted and one was all reds and purples) and got very busy, working on the scarves while watching TV at night. I was jealous that she had a project to work on so I took up knitting again and became Obsessed With Knitting. The rest is history.

Anyway, I got tired of having the acrylic leftovers in my natural-fibered knitting room, so I took them up and made an afghan out of them. I used a tweed stitch from one of the Harmony Guides . It goes K1, slip1 with yarn in front as if to purl. Even numbered rows are all purl. The knits and slips are offset: the 2nd right side row goes K2, slip 1. I changed colors every 2 rows, so I could use up the Doctor Whos.

It took a long time to make with worsted weight yarn and #7 (US) circular needles. It wasn't finished until 2006. I was thrilled with the result, and it was machine washable:

After seeing this afghan for a while, I began to think that I was a genius at combining colors. A color combination I like is green and blue, so I thought to use more leftovers and make a green and blue afghan. Since finishing the first afghan I had learned to crochet, so I decided to crochet this one in a ripple stitch. I used all sorts of greens and blues with purples for contrast. The result was garish and wrong:

What happened to my color combining genius? Out the window. I did learn something from this fiasco, however. One, do not use the ripple stitch in crochet, especially in stripes. I had made a section like this where the colors were good together by accident and made it into a scarf, but that was a fluke. Two, in combining blues and greens, severely edit the colors.

In my next attempt at the blue and green afghan, I plan to use the richer, deeper colors on the top and eliminate the lighter, muddier colors on the bottom. I'll also go back to my trusty tweed stitch, which I seem to be using for everything lately.

I just finished a scarf in this stitch pattern, and last year I made two men's sweaters in it. Today in Ravelry I spotted a fabulous Jean Frost jacket in a three color version of it that I immediately put into my queue. So more on the tweed stitch in the future.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

outerwear: outings with rebecca

Rebecca, the German knitting magazine, offers free patterns online. This is great because Rebecca, while available, is not common. In order to carry the magazine, yarn stores have to stock the yarn they specify, the German brand GGH. It is also great because I need to be saved from myself. I am a little frightened at the thought of adding more patterns to my collection that includes every Vogue Knitting since its premiere as a periodical in 1987, every Knitters since issue 28, and almost every Interweave Knits since Fall 1996. Not to mention over 100 books. Yes, I have an entire room in my house devoted to knitting.

I love jacket patterns. I think warm coats and jackets are one of the most useful things you can knit. So I was pleased to find this pattern on the Rebecca site. I also found some vintage yarn online called Reynolds Jarelle, a thick boucle blend of wool and nylon. I got an acceptable gauge of 3.25 stitches to the inch, but I had to use relatively small needles, #6 U.S. The resulting jacket is warm and cozy.

Because I think that button holes can distort the smooth line of a knitted garment, I skipped the buttons and used snap fasteners. But I bravely sliced and embroidered one buttonhole at the neck and put on a big beautiful button for decoration. I love, love, love the finished product.

In a few recent posts I have been bitching and moaning about the design flaws of some knitting patterns. Well, I found no flaws here. I would need to knit more Rebecca patterns to confirm this, but I suspect the fit of European patterns to be more precise than that of American designs. That is certainly the case with their ready made clothes. They tend to run small compared with their American counterparts. That is a good thing in a knitting pattern where there is a lot of give. This way you don't end up with swimming arm holes or flapping sleeves. I am beginning to pay more attention to the significance of finished measurements.

I knit Jarelle in the Spring of 2006. A year later I saw the yarn that had been specified for the pattern on sale at Jimmy Beans Wool. It is Relax by GGH, a boucle blend of alpaca, wool, nylon, and acrylic, knit on a #10 needle. (They still have 3 colors left at $4.99, marked down from $10.50.) This yarn is very soft and thinner than the Reynolds Jarelle, so the resulting jacket is suitable for wearing outdoors in not- too- cold weather and can also be used indoors.

I used navy blue, and to make it different from Jarelle, I used a grey crochet trim and grey buttons. I love this sweater as well, but I find it hard to mix navy into my wardrobe which is mostly black and brown. I like black and navy together, but it is not my first choice combination, and navies vary so much that they don't mix well in my opinion. Plus the style of this sweater is too cutsey to look good with black.

All in all, very happy with this sweater design except I am afraid to wash them because they are knit in all garter stitch. What do you think? Should I dry clean?

Monday, December 3, 2007

outerwear: hey, einstein

Someone gave me the yarn. It was Reynolds Lopi in the undyed shade. It is a greyish, beigeish color and looked truly ugly in the skein. But I had seen this pattern in Sally Melville's book, The Knitting Experience 1: The Knit Stitch, an outstanding book. And I wanted to try it.

I guess the Einstein Sweater is famous by now. I made mine in December of 2005. The yarn looked much better knit up. It doesn't look good in the photo at all, but it had a bit of 1950s sporty car-coat style that I liked. I wore it that winter and and the following year, spring, fall, and winter again.

Then I washed it. It grew about five inches in length and some in width. Now I know why some knitting experts warn against garter stitch. Despite its oddness, I loved this coat and wanted to save it. So I felted it. A little. It seems like the same size now as originally, but I don't like it as much any more.

The wonder of Sally Melville's pattern is that it can be successfully made by a rank beginner, and it knits up fast for quick gratification. Besides the use of all garter stitch though, another problem with it is, obviously, those underarm wings. I know that many knitters have cleverly corrected the underarm bulk, but I didn't. I like to knit patterns as they are written, thinking I can make a corrected version later, if need be. But I rarely do.

I did make a baby version, though. Actually I made several, but I didn't have a camera for the first two. I worked on this one while flying to Berlin and bought the buttons (which are little whales and elephants) at a store in the Kreutzburg neighborhood that sells buttons and only buttons. How cute is that?

What do you think of my Einstein and Albert? Have you made one too? Did yours grow? Please add your comments and let me know. Thanks!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

the trouble with kelly (the cardi)

This design, from Erika Knight's Classic Knits , is everything I love in a sweater: retro-cute, cropped, simple, soft yarn, 3/4 sleeves. It almost reaches Rowan-style. But why is the neckline so awkward?

It isn't just me. I saw many beautiful Kelly Cardigans on Ravelry and most, if not all, had necklines that hit the model in the wrong spot. I thought the best photo was one where the neck of the sweater was covered by the collar of the dress underneath. Why didn't Erik Knight lower the neckline in front? It would have looked so much better.

Of course, if I make it again (and I might), I will attempt to make this adjustment myself. But I am not too sure of myself in neckline alterations.

Another alteration I am unsure of is arm hole/sleeve cap. And again, why did the designer make the arm hole so billowy? This shows in the book photo, where there appears to be too much fabric at the sides. My version of the sweater repeats the same flaw even though I am a totally different size and shape from the model in the picture.

Despite these problems, I love the sweater. It is incredibly soft and comfortable. One feature that some might see as an additional flaw doesn't bother me. That is the lack of buttonholes. Rather than use snap fasteners as the designer suggested, I just left the front open. Buttonholes in handknit sweaters can be difficult to manage and sometimes ruin the line of the design. I did not want to risk that with this (near) perfect sweater.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

twisted sisters unwound: a book review

Twisted Sisters Knit Sweaters: A Knit to Fit Workshop
Vogel, Lynne
Interweave Press 2007

The Twisted Sisters have outdone themselves in providing clear and detailed directions for constructing a sweater. They have developed a system (explained in chapter 2) for capturing and mapping every possible measurement that you would need to design a sweater down to the half cuff circumference of a sleeve, and, step by step, they help you go from measurements to gauge to sweater parts to finished garment. The Sisters take this information in every possible direction too, including up, down, and side to side construction. They also include some wonderful charts and tips like suggested guages for various purposes.

If, like me, you want to design your own sweaters and are good at following written directions (which most of us knitters are) you should condsider buying this book.

I borrowed my copy from the library, and I am not going to buy it, and here's why: the Twisted Sisters designs make my eyes hurt. As hand spinners and dyers, I guess the Sisters are more interested in surface design of knitted fabric than they are in fashion and shape. But all of their designs have drop shoulders. They don't explain how to shape a sleeve cap or set in a sleeve. They have never heard of waist shaping. I may not be the most fashionable or shapely knitter out there (I'm not), but I try. I don't want to knit bag-like sweaters (on purpose).

I think the colors and neckline of the sweater in the lower photo are pretty, but check out those droopy shoulders and sleeves. In the upper photo, the Twisted Sisters love of surface design has spiraled out of control.

This is the first Twisted Sisters book I have ever looked at. I think I might be more intereested in what they have to say about fiber and socks than I am in their design aesthetic.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

deep thoughts about clapotis

In case you have been knitting under a rock, Clapotis is an enormously popular internet-based pattern - a scarf/shawl created in a genius way by designer Kate Gilbert. When I first saw this pattern in Knitty I confess to being unimpressed. I don't exactly take to variegated yarn (Kate used Lorna's Laces Lion and Lamb for her prototype), nor to drop stitch patterns, which strike me as a cheap version of lace. There was really nothing I liked about this pattern except the look of the photo with the Frenchified model enjoying un cafe at an outdoor cafe.
But fifty million knitters can't be wrong. When I noticed how everyone aclaimed the wonderfulness of this pattern, I took another look. I found myself liking the way the garment could be either a shawl or a scarf, and the offhand way that Kate showed the wrong (purl) side of the fabric. Naturellement, I wound up making one. For my trial I used an inexpensive but nice yarn: Paton's Classic Merino in a peachy variegated colorway called Regency.

I discovered that unlike many patterns, Clapotis is the perfect medium for variegated yarn. This yarn striped diagonally, so the striped and sometimes pooling effect is nicely broken up by the design. Then I discovered that Clapotis is so cleverly shaped and is such easy, soothing knitting. Then I found that Clapotis is wonderful to wear, warm, cozy, and clinging. Like Kate, I prefer Clap unblocked and scrunchy. It also clings better with the purl side up. I actually wear this every day. And of course, the first time I wore it in public I got more than one enthusiastic compliment. It is a pretty color. So guess what? I am a Clap convert.
And I made another one! For mom. Same yarn in the pink and brown colorway called Rosewood. Now the only issue I have left with Clapotis is its chunkiness in worsted weight wool. As is, I love it as a shawl, but as a scarf not so much. That is why I have plans for a third Clapotis in a thinner, slinkier yarn to be more scarfy. I am thinking Knitpicks Shimmer, a laceweight used double. Thank you Knitty and Kate Gilbert.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

the year of the scarf, part 4

13) The Virgin Suicides made September 2006

used mixed yarn (cotton and synthetics) on #8 (US) needles

finished size 5.5" X 58" not including 8" fringe

A gruesome name (from the novel by Jeffrey Eugenides) for a pretty scarf. This was a simple design (cast on 190 stitches and work approximately 46 rows), but it took a long time to get a pleasing sequence of colors. In some ways, this was the most challenging of all in terms of design, although it doesn't look it. Note that the 12 rows on each edge are mirror images. This is one of my favorite scarfs, perhaps second favorite to Blue Shoes and Happiness in part 1.

14) Accidental Scarfmade November 2006
mixture of blue, green, and purple mixed synthetic fibers, worsted weight

This scarf is not named for a book. It is crocheted, and as may be obvious, started out as an afghan. I liked this strip of afghan so much I decided to fringe it and it became a scarf. Much of the fiber is leftover acrylics from a series of Doctor Who scarves my daughter made several years ago with some additions. I was very tempted to keep this scarf, but I ended up giving it as a belated Christmas gift in early 2007.

15) Suzanne's Scarf

started October 2006; finished August 2007
used 300 yards Jamieson's 2 ply Shetland Spindrift on #4 (US) needle
pattern in Interweave Knits booklet, sent with magazine subscription. It was published in the Spring 2000 issue.

This scarf is named for the recipient. It was my first knitted lace project and with thin yarn on small needles, it took forever. The leaf-shaped lace was easy and the pattern made it's own scallops on the edges. The repeated lace motifs were 11 stitches wide (I forget how many there were - Maybe 10?) and I separated them with markers. The scarf was knit in two parts and grafted together in the center. This was also my first attempt at Kitchener Stitch, and I found it surprisingly easy.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

the year of the scarf, part 3

9) Absolute Friendsmade in August 2006
used 100 yards Modea Dea fur and 100 yards Lion Brand fur held together on #11 (US) neeedle
blocked to 7" x 68"

This is an extreme example of the yarn doing all the work. It is all garter stitch. The two yarns are a lighter and darker version of the same color which together made a medium. I knew in advance that the recipient strongly favored this color and texture.

10) Xenocide

made in August 2006
used 250 yards Southwest Trading Bamboo on size G (US) hook
blocked to 5" x 55"
Stitch adapted from Seaman's Scarf pattern in Vogue Knitting to Go Crochet Scarves

My first crochet project, featuring an easy lace stitch. The result was good partly because the yarn was soft and pliable and the stitch was open work. For the most part though, crochet is not as good as knitting for garments, leading to a fabric that is stiff and bulky. I learned crochet so that I could add edging to knitted garments. The scarf is small, and so is the recipient. This is a good color for her.

11) Ender 2
made in August 2006
used 200 yards each Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran in light blue and white on # 8 (US) needles
blocked to 6.5" x 63"

The intent of this scarf was to have a friendly and folksy feeling as fitting the personality of the recipient. I don't know why exactly, but this design, especially in these soft colors, seemed to work.

12) Every Mother is a Daughter

made August 2006

mixed yarn on #8 (US) needle

finished size 5" x 84"

pattern Yarn Mix Scarf from Vogue Knitting on the Go Scarves 2

This scarf was made for someone who loves bright colors. It took a litte while to get the right color mix. It was knit longways with about 250 stitches cast onto circular needles and then finished in just a few rows. The pattern mixed knit and purl rows so that the color changes were visible on both sides, resulting in a reversible scarf.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

the year of the scarf, part 2

Here are three more scarves from the 2006 Christmas project:

6) Ender's Scarf

Made July 2006
used 465 yards of Jo Sharp Silkroad Aran on #9(US) needle
blocked to 7" x 63"
Cabled Cashmere Scarf from Vogue Knitting on the Go Scarves

Why is this yarn grey when all the scarves for this project are supposed to be blue? The yarn came from Oze Yarn in Australia and of course the color on the monitor looked blue. The color is called Opal, which suggested blue to me. Be that as it may, the color, while a definite grey, does have a bluish cast and it is a very nice color. This scarf would suit a woman or a man.

7) Rococo

made July 2006

used 300 yards of Cascade Sierra (blue) and 100 yards of Cascade Pima Silk (white) on #7 (US needle

Blocked to 5.5" x 71"

The pattern is called Multidirectional Diagonal Scarf

This Cascade cotton blend yarn is excellent. Sierra is a cotton/merino blend (80/20). The wool adds bounce to the cotton so it is not so stretchy or heavy as pure cotton would be. Pima Silk is 85/15 cotton to silk and is very soft and silky. I have some stashed in a light pea green for a simple sweater which I want to reproduce from the shape and measurements of a store-bought one.

8) Abarat

Made July 2006
used 328 yards of Noro Silk Garden on #8 (US) needle
blocked to 5.5" x 70"
same multidirectional scarf as above

This is the most spectacular of the scarves due to the spectacular Silk Garden yarn. Note also the cute corkscrew fringe from Nicky Epstein's Knitting on the Edge. The scarf pattern is very cute and clever as well. In the case of Abarat, the yarn does all in work. In the scarf above (Rococo) I tried to get the effect by changing yarns. While not bad, the effect is more subdued and a little rustic looking. I downloaded Photoshop Elements to help with the pictures. I think it did a good job on this one. It is especially good for color correction. Note the black cat tail in the upper right hand corner of the photo.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

the year of the scarf, part 1

Last year (2006) I made 15 scarves to give as Christmas presents. I got the idea when I bought a red chenille scarf on sale at Marshalls in the new year. I thought two things: 1) this scarf would be so easy to make make; and 2) this would look good on Peggy.

Yes, Peggy would have looked great in a red scarf, but as it happened I decided to make scarves for everyone I knew, each one different, and to simplify the choices I went with the color blue. I figured that everyone looks good in and likes one or another shade of blue.

This project turned out to be a fantastic creative jolt for me. I wanted to make each person a scarf that I thought would especially suit her - looks, style, and personality. (The recipients were all women; men don't wear scarves.) This got me into designing a bit. And because the scarves were relatively small, I was able to try all sorts of wonderful yarn that I had thought too expensive to buy for a large project. (The sad result is that I now use more expensive yarn for all of my projects.)

I apologize for the quality of my photos. I can see that I'll have to learn to take better photos in order to effectively blog knitting. I would appreciate any advice you may have about this.

Here are the scarves, in order of creation (by the way, each is named for the book I listened to as I knit it) :

1) The Love Wife

made in April 2006
used 300 yards of hand-dyed mohair and silk, about sport or dk weight, on #8 (US) needle

blocked size: 7" x 55"
adapted garter stitch chevron from Harmony stitch guide

This was my first use of hand-dyed yarn. I got it online from an eBay seller named kimiK who sells a lot of beautiful sock yarn at reasonable prices. I loved the yarn even though it pooled in the knitting. That didn't bother me. It also bled and smelled. The smell was pretty, but it creeped me out a little.

2) Blue Shoes and Happiness

Pattern for this scarf here.

  • made in April 2006
  • used 300 yards of Noro Cash Iroha (worsted weight) on #9 (US) needle
  • blocked size 6.5" x 52"
  • adapted basket weave stitch from Mon Tricot with blue and green trim (garter stitch) with green being a few yards of Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride.

This was my absolute favorite of all the scarves. First, the Cash Iroha was so beautiful: glossy and heavy in a good way, smooth and soft. This picture really does not do it justice. It had a little Scottish look about it with the blue and green colors and the short fringe along one long side. In fact, I ordered yarn to knit it again for myself, which I will do someday. The original yarn came from Woolneedlework in Canada; the second from Janette's Rare Yarns, an eBay store in the UK.

3) The Curious Incident of the Dog at Night Time

  • Made in May 2006
  • used 320 yards of Cascade 128 (bulky) tweed on # 11 (US) needle
  • blocked size 7" x 63"

  • pattern modified from "Cabled Cashmere Scarf" from Vogue Knitting on the Go Scarves

This was for the lady who would have looked good in red chenille. A far cry from red, but the blue is much brighter and prettier than it looks here. The yarn came from a local yarn store.

4) Marilyn's Scarf (named for the main character in The Interruption of Everything)

  • Made in June 2006

  • Used 350 yards of Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk (aran weight) on #9 (US) needle

  • blocked size 6" x 55"

This yarn was from (I think) Woolneedlework. I used my favorite basket weave pattern with a long-side fringe idea taken from Nickie Epstein's Knitting on the Edge, Saxon Braid Scarf. The fringe consists of a plain stockinette border at the edge of the pattern work. The stitches of the border are unraveled to make a fringe loop, It didn't make sense to me until I did it. The Saxon braid itself is spectacular and I might knit it sometime.

The yarn color is actually a soft duck egg blue, and it is a soft, soft yarn. It was actually a color mistake purchased for a different scarf to use with a chocolate brown of the same yarn. They did not look as good together as I expected them to, at least in the design I used. Marilyn, however, turned out to be a glamorous scarf.

5) The Historian

  • made in June 2006
  • used 340 yards divided between teal and brown of Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk (aran weight) on # 8 (US) needle
  • blocked to 6.75" x 58"
  • adapted Speckled Rib, a slip stitch pattern from Harmony Guide

At first I was least happy with this scarf, but that may have been because I hated the book I was listening to. The design alternated blocks of the slip stitch pattern, which looks polka dotty,
with smaller stockinette sections and a garter edge. I made a row of five knitted bobbles to finish each end. This design is one of the most original. However, it is heavy and tends to curl. I grew to like it.


I am starting this blog because I am obsessed with knitting. I have enjoyed seeing other people's knitting on various blogs and so wanted to contribute. I have begun to post projects on Ravelry; that inspired me to blog about my projects so I could record and say more about them. I hope you will find this useful.

I have been knitting since I was about 12. My left-handed aunt (a legendary knitter) taught me to knit, so as a result I, a right-hander, throw the yarn with my left hand. This is not the way most people knit. In my turn, I have taught this method to my daughter, so we both knit strangely- but effectively. For us, this style results in loose knitting, although I have begun to tighten up by consciously tightening my purl stitches. So I no longer always have to go down one or two needle sizes to get gauge.