Saturday, December 27, 2008

Anne's nose

Anne here - I just have to chime in about the last post. I'm the model and my nose TOTALLY doesn't look that big in real life. It's the angle at which the photo was taken. Really.

Also, the headband (which I received for Christmas) is even cuter in real life and is nice and soft.

Friday, December 26, 2008

the weaver: a free pattern

My instinct that the Diagonal Weave pattern (from The Learn to Knit Afghan book) would make a good headband was correct. I combined the third yarn of the Knit Picks alpaca sampler, Andean Treasure, with RYC Cashsoft DK to make this:
Here it is being modeled as a headband and also as a neckwarmer:

Cute, eh? Excuse me for talking northern, but despite my bias against sporty, skiing type headbands, I can't seem to escape the far north. It's probably the colors and the breezy pattern that give it a Nordic look.

In this case, the dropped stitches of the Diagonal Weave pattern and the alternating yarns have given the headband needed stability, so it doesn't flop around on your head, but hugs it nicely. The fact that it is only 18 inches long probably helps too. The other headbands were 20 inches, so I have learned something about negative ease from this experimental yarn testing - that is you probably can't have too much, within reason.

Andean Treasure, the Knit Picks yarn sample that inspired this design, is listed as sport weight at 6 stitches to the inch. It is a very soft, heathery baby alpaca yarn in a medium blue called Summer Sky. This yarn paired nicely with RYC Cashsoft in DK weight. Cashsoft, merino wool and acrylic with a little cashmere content, is nearly as soft and can also be easily knit up at 6 stitches per inch.

Here is the pattern for the headband that I call The Weaver.

Color A: Knit Picks Andean Treasure (100% baby alpaca) in Summer Sky - 1 skein (110 yards)
Color B: RYC Cashsoft DK (57% merino, 33% acrylic, 10% cashmere) in Cream - 1 skein (142 yards)
One set straight needles, # 5

6 stitches per inch in stockinette

Pattern Stitch
Diagonal Weave from the Learn to Knit Afghan Book
Multiple of 4 plus 3
Row 1 (right side) - with color B, knit 2, *slip 1 stitch purlwise with the yarn held in back of the work, k3; repeat from *, end k1.
Row 2 - with color B, purl 4, * slip 1 stitch purlwise with the yarn held in front of the work, p 3; repeat from *, end p2.
Row 3 - with color A, k2, *drop slipped stitch off the needle, k2, pick up dropped stitch, place on left hand needle, and knit it; k1; repeat from *, end K1.
Row 4 - with A, purl.
Row 5 - with B, K6, *slip 1 with yarn in back, K3; repeat from *, end k1.
Row 6 - with B, p4, *slip 1 with yarn in front, p3; repeat from *, end p3.
Row 7 - with A, K4, *slip 2 with yarn in back, drop previous slipped stitch off the needle, slip the same 2 stitches back to the left hand needle, pick up dropped stitch, place on left hand needle, and knit it; K3; repeat from *, end K3.
Row 8 - with A, purl.

With A, cast on 103 stitches (plus 2 selvedge stitches if desired). Leave tail long enough to sew ends together later.
Knit 5 rows.
Purl 6th row, increasing 12 stitches evenly across row - 115 stitches (plus slevedge).
Work 4 repeats of the 8 rows of the Diagonal Weave pattern. Repeat rows 1-4. Work should measure approximately 5 inches from cast on row. (Or work to desired length.)
With A, Knit one row, decreasing 12 stitches evenly across row - 103 stitches (plus selvedge).
Knit 5 more rows and bind off, knitting all stitches
Using steam, block to measurements - approximately 5" x 18".
With right sides up, set both edges to be sewn next to each other. Weave together with Mattress stitch. Steam seam.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

more adventures with knit picks

Knit Picks got me again. I thought I got away, but they keep pulling me back. This time it was an alpaca sampler. They offered four skeins of alpaca or alpaca blends in two different colorways-cool or warm. I chose cool and got:

Suri Dream in Gloxinia (deep purple)
Andean Silk in Merryweather (light teal)
Elegance in Aegean (dark teal)
Andean Treasure in Summer Sky (medium blue)

Enchanted as I have been by the large swatches offered by the Learn to Knit Afghan squares, and feeling like a project, I decided to make a headband/neck warmer from each skein and compare results.

I made each one 5 inches deep because I don't like narrow headbands. They look athletic, and I don't need skiing gear. I chose headbands because I figured that I'd have enough yarn for them, and also because I have finally come to the realization that I despise hats. The night look cute, but they make my head too hot, even in the winter, and they never stay on properly. Each headband is 20 inches wide to fit an average-sized 22 inch head (although mine might be smaller than average). I knit them flat, back and forth, in keeping with my hatred of circular needles. So here are the results.I think I might like the top one best. It is from Suri Dream, a bulky weight blend of suri alpaca (74%), wool (22%) and a little nylon. It is like mohair in that it is fuzzy, but it's totally non-itchy. I knit it in a simple 2x2 rib, and it took about five minutes to finish. I used a 10 1/2 US needle, which produced a gauge of 3.2 stitches per inch. I cast on 64 stitches and used about half the skein. It clings well to my head. This yarn would make a nice bathrobe type sweater for around the house or a cozy blanket. And again, it would take no time to knit. (band on top, stockinette swatch on bottom below)

The Andean Silk version is the only one I've worn. The yarn is a worsted weight of 55% alpaca, 23% silk, and 22% merino. It produced a gauge of 5 stitches to the inch in basket weave pattern on # 7 needles. I cast on 99 stitches and used the entire skein of 96 yards (a little skimpy there if you ask me).

Everything about this product is my favorite: favorite color, favorite stitch pattern (next to moss stitch), favorite yarn - so soft and luxurious. BUT. The basket weave shows up well in this yarn, but it is almost flat compared to the wool version I did for the Learn to Knit afghan. It needed no blocking. That is a clue, I think, that the yarn is stretchy. When I wore it, it was uncomfortable, tending to creep downward toward my face. Remember, I like head gear that doesn't move. I think it will make a nice neck warmer. What would I knit with this yarn? I'm not sure. I would be afraid to make a sweater that needs to hold its shape. I guess a scarf or blanket that doesn't need firm stitch definition.

Above, the unblocked stockinette swatch is on top, unblocked headband on the bottom. After Suri Dream, all of these yarns were a dream to knit in stockinette. The stitches are remarkably even without blocking. I didn't block any but one of the headbands, and I am a fanatical blocker.

To be continued....

Thanks to Anne for the last delightful post.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Anne on Things my Mother Made Me

Hi all, Anne here. I finished the manly scarf I mentioned in my last post; it's all wrapped up with a matching hat (which came out...just okay. I hate circular knitting.) and waiting for my father-in-law to open it on Christmas. The project got me thinking about knitting gifts. I never never never knit anything for myself; I'm just about exclusively a gift knitter. Consequently, the vast majority of hand-knitted items in my house were made by my mother as gifts for me.

She hasn't made me a sweater since the disaster of the yellow sweater. It really did look bad on me and I really do detest yellow. However, that was nearly 20 years ago, so maybe I'd be ready for her to try another sweater for me (hint, hint, mother). Lack of sweaters aside, she's made me a few great things, several of which have been featured right here on this blog.

I was the lucky recipient of the squatty purse. I love love love it. I'm a total purse whore, and this one was a winner. It's actually very functional, as the felting made nice strong material. I've gotten lots of compliments on it. I also received the Absolute Friends scarf which I'm pretty sure was a project that bored her to tears. She had no say in the design process - I dictated the exact color and yarn texture that I desired - and there was absolutely no challenge in the execution of the scarf, as I'm pretty sure it's just garter stitch.

She also made me a pair of adorable slippers:

Please excuse my pudgy white legs. These slippers are so great - felted, and she even put some kind of glue on the bottoms to make them slip-resistant. These were obviously made with me in mind - I love mary janes, and teal is my favorite color. I love them even though I don't wear slippers very often. When I first got them, I wasn't sure how they were made; I thought they might have been knit on circulars, but how the heck does one get an oblong shape on circulars? (Is that even possible?) Then I realized that they must have seams, I think on the heel and toe, but the felting mashed everything together so well that the seams are imperceptible. Neat-o.

The one gift that she made me that I use the most is my afghan. It's made out of my favorite yarn, Wool-Ease, and is nice and soft and drapes nicely to the body, which I think is so important in an afghan. There's nothing worse than a stiff, non-drapey afghan. How does that happen? Is it the yarn's fault? Did the knitter knit too tightly or use too small of a needle? Stiff afghans are a real travesty; fortunately, this one is perfect. Here is my husband enjoying it; doesn't he look warm and cosy?

In my next post: sticking with the theme of mothers knitting for daughters, I'll show some of the things that I made for my little girl. If you're lucky, I might even post pictures of The Cutest Baby in the World (TM).

Saturday, December 6, 2008


Here are photos of two more slip stitch squares from the Learn to Knit Afghan. I think I have two more to go in this section.

This top square looks nice, but it is that type of slip stitch that I don't like in reality. It has strands of yarn laying across a differently-colored surface. I think that if this were in a garment the loose strands would catch on things. I know they would if I wore it because I'm kind of clumsy. I even worry about it being in a blanket. To me, this design is just not practical.

The bottom square doesn't photograph well at all. It looks like the surface is choked with fiber here, and it looks worse in the black and white photo in the book. In person however, this has a surprising appeal to me. It has a jaunty look, especially viewed at an angle. I think it would make a nice hat or headband.

As always, I learn from the Learn to Knit Afghan book. Someone else may have learned from it as well. You might not remember that I loved this particular mosaic square:

Now imagine my delight when I visited Popknits and saw this sweater: It's perfect. It even gets around the wavy buttonhole issue by using a zipper, which fits the style of the jacket perfectly. What a great use of a great stitch pattern! Here is the link for Popknits if you haven't seen it. It is a free knitting web-zine featuring original, vintage-inspired knitwear, which is just the kind I like best.