Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A tale of three hats

I've recently rediscovered the joys of travel knitting. Small projects in just one color work particularly well (the mittens I'm working on here and there are a perfect size to stick in my bag but the two colors are too diddly for wrangling on the train). I've got a lovely little baby sweater to share once I get around to taking FO shots. And I'm currently working on a cowl during my train rides to and from work - a great way to start the day. Did I mention I'm using quiviut? Enough said. 

But before that, I knit three hats. The same hat, in fact, three times in a row. It's a good thing I like Jared Flood's Habitat pattern, because three iterations of anything is one and a half times too many, in my book. 

First, Mr. Tinks and Frogs got a much needed new hat for the season. 

Knit out of one skein of Shelter on size 7 and 8 needles (7s for the ribbing, 8s for the body). A quick aside: did you know that Amazon sells addi lace needles? They even qualify for Amazon Prime, which means if you're in a bind and really want to start the hat while on a trip but can't, for the life of you, find the 16" needles you could have sworn you had, you can ship the needles to youself overnight for a very reasonable price. Don't ask how I know that ...

Miss Tadpole needed a new hat, too, and the yellow she picked out at our LYS seemed perfect for Habitat. 

So I knit another one. Version 2 is in String Theory dk weight, a superwash merino. It's lovely stuff but a bit splitty and I had much more fun knitting the cables with a very pointy needle than with the more blunt bamboo circular I started with. 

The main cables on Habitat are a bit uninteresting for me but I absolutely adore the cables on the crown. 

There was just one little problem with this yellow hat (you've probably already noticed it): it's a bit too small. The first yellow hat was knit on 4s and 5s, with the charts for the shorter version. I'm not going to say that my girl has a big head, but it's certainly bigger than I had guesstimated. Maybe next time I'll actually measure. 

So I knit version three on 5s and 6s, with the chart for the longer version and it's a great fit. 

(That's still version two in the picture. I just love this "daddy, let me fix that for you" shot.)

Now that my current travel project (the cowl) is almost done, I'm trying to figure out what next to take on the train. There are a couple of WIPs from the bottom of the knitting basket in the running. Tadpole has voted for the blue socks (Cookie A's Kai-Mei pattern, a perennial favorite of mine) while I'm leaning towards a silver colored scarf (Anne Hanson's fernfrost). We'll see what I feel like knitting next week. Thoughts?

Monday, October 28, 2013

This and that

What kind of knitter lets her two-year-old commandeer a shoulder shawl knit out of malabrigo lace? This one apparently. A dear friend came to visit this past weekend and was kind enough to take several hand knits back with her to find new homes. (I'd much rather see the pieces worn and loved than sit unused in a bin with me). We were going through the collection I had set aside and, somehow, Simmer Dim made its way around my shoulders. Tadpole snuggled herself in my lap to help look over the knits and promptly plucked the shawl from my shoulders, calling it "her green blanket." This would be green blanket #2, a very special thing in her world. How could I deny that? Especially to this kid:

Who helped me with a photo shoot the other day.  I snapped a few pics of my current WIPs:

Snowfling mittens (the kit from Tanis Fibre Arts), front and back. 

Another baby sweater in the works.

And one already finished.  If you haven't already done so, you really should try the Pomander baby sweater. All the details are just right in this pattern - and I have no higher praise than that. 

She got a few of her stuffed companions:

Oh, and I may have a use for those baby knits after the new year rolls around. 

If I do this a third time, could someone please remind me to knit more cardigans? I seem to have outgrown my favorite pullovers. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

It's been a while

Hello, there. It's been a little while, hasn't it? We've had lots of exciting things going on. We went on vacation on a "big white boat" as Tadpole puts it. Then we came back and moved into our new house a couple of weeks later. Yes, the pictures will look a little different - we've left our city apartment and moved to a house in the 'burbs. We're all enjoying the extra space. There's been plenty of knitting, too, on all sorts of things. But I've only got one FO to show, and I think it is worth the wait.

It took over a year to finish my Rams and Yowes blanket but this project was well worth the time and effort.

And I'm not the only one who wanted to photograph the finished product.

Blocking gave the fabric a beautiful drape that I did not expect from the work in progress. I decided not to work the applied i-cord edging around the outside of the border. In retrospect, it might have made blocking a bit cleaner (but not so much that I'd want to go back and add it now). But tacking down the underside of the border took so long that I just didn't have the heart to work several yards of i-cord after that.

Now for the money shots:

This one's a keeper. Who gets to keep it is still TBD.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

About that stash diet ...

I really wasn't planning on buying new yarn. Especially after that skein of lace weight that I picked up when my mother was visiting last weekend - when you hear your grandmother would like a lace shawl (and you don't have anything in the stash in the appropriate color family) that's a special dispensation from any yarn diet in my book.

And then this happened later in the week:

That's right - I ran out of yarn on the last round of the fifth color from the end of the garter striped edging on my Rams and Yowes blanket. And not just on the last round, a third of the way from the end-of-round marker (the dark green clip below):

I knew it was going to be close. After all, I had finished the previous color with about two yards to spare. So at around 10:30 on Wednesday night (always a time for clear-headed thinking), I started frantically searching for more yarn to finish the last set of stripes. I'm low on the remaining colors, too, and didn't want to chance it now that I'd run out of one color.

Luckily, I found two options: order more from Jamieson & Smith on Shetland and know that I probably won't be able to pick up this project until after we get back from our vacation, which starts next week, or cross my fingers and see if the Chicago shop listed on ravelry as a potential supplier has the colors I need in stock. (Normally I'd be a dye lot purist but this is for the underside of the blanket border and slight color variances really won't bother me there.)

Success! Windy Knitty responded to my email shortly after they opened the next morning with the terrific news that they did in fact have exactly what I needed, and would be kind enough to set the skeins aside until the weekend so that I could come pick them up.

In the meantime, I've had fun working on Mr. Tinks and Frogs' birthday sweater, which now looks much less like a shrug than when he tried it on a week or two ago.

We took a family excursion up to Andersonville this morning (Tadpole LOVES the train) and I am now the happy owner of enough yarn to finish my blanket.

But I couldn't come away from such a lovely shop (and it is lovely, perhaps my favorite shop in the city now) with just the J&S shetland, not when they had a fantastic selection of indie dyers in gorgeous semi-solids - my favorites.

This Fleur de Fiber (a Chicago dyer I'd never seen before) in a fingering weight merino/seacell blend will be a something for me.

And Tadpole suggested that she should have a green sweater. We decided on this worsted weight from Neighborhood Fiber Company:

A girl after her mama's heart, don't you think? Now I've just got to come up with a sweater pattern that will work with only 400 yards. This one is definitely going to be top-down!

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Popping in

I was all set to post about my latest FO - the first in my latest destashing operation - when I realized that I had probably better save the full write-up for after the recipient actually received it (which, in turn, requires that I get the package out the door). So I'll just give a little sneak peek for now:

Boy, did I find a nice new baby knit. I will definitely be making more of these!

I'm the meantime, I've been plugging away happily on a longer-term project. 

I'm a few rows farther along on the edging than you can see in this picture - I'm on the last color before turning the edge and working the back side of the double- sided edging! This one is taking a little while. If I remember correctly, the rows are several hundred stitches long at this point (closer to 1000 than 500). I'm certainly not going to check that number right now! But I did work out that each row takes about 40 minutes (10 minutes per side isn't bad). Multiply that by four rows for each of the nine colors, plus a couple extra rows for the turn, and you get a number I don't want to think about. All I know is that I'm almost halfway!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Miss Marple

Several months ago, when I was knitting her a purple cabled jumper, Tadpole informed me that she would like a yellow sweater. Happy to oblige, I picked out some buttercup colored Cascade 220 from my local yarn shop and cast on for Miss Marple

I don't always have the most cooperative knitwear model but she was thrilled to do a photo shoot for this one. 

I can't speak to the other sizes but the sleeve caps and armscyes still seem too big to me on the 4T size. Perhaps it was a gauge issue - I might have knit more loosely on the short row sleeve caps than elsewhere. But if I were to knit this again (and I very we'll might), I'd make the armsceye smaller and reduce the number of sleeve stitches at the upper arm accordingly. 

Otherwise, this was a great pattern. The lace was simple but just enough to keep things interesting. I always like short row sleeve caps. And there was minimal finishing (especially because I worked the neck and button bands at the same time, rather than doing the neck band first as the pattern suggested). 

I'm calling this one a winner!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Operation stash down - the baby knits edition

I have another trip coming up on Monday so it's time to start thinking about baby knits again. Quite a few of my friends either just had babies or are busily growing new ones, so I think my new de-stashing effort here will be baby knits. They're fun, quick, and make great travel projects!

While I'm at it, I figured it would be a good idea to capture all of my favorite baby patterns all in one place (hopefully one that is quicker to find than going through my haphazard ravelry tags).


Sweaters are perhaps my favorite item to knit for babies. They're such a fun way to try new techniques and styles without putting in the time necessary for an adult sweater. Think of them as mini swatches.

Coastal Kids has some great selections. My little oak was a huge hit at the shower last weekend. (Sorry, I forgot to take any measurements before wrapping it up. Call it "baby sized" - it'll fit the baby at some point). And Wee Wildflower has been on my list for some time. Other favorite sweater patterns include (in no particular order):

Good for Girls
February Baby Sweater (EZ),  Marguerite (short sleeved with a lacy bodice), Half Past (cables and a bit of lace), Entrechat (short sleeved, nice texture, and a peplum hem), Lilleput (garter stripes, 'nuff said), (Petit) Artichaut (textured shrug), Korrigan (cabled yoke), Goldilocks (dress with mock cable bodice), and Maile Sweater (botanical lace).

Good for Boys
All in a nutshell (squirrels!), McDreamy Jumper (textured raglan), Oscar (great shawl collar and textured body), and Cervide (sideways cabled yoke).

Gender Neutral
Baby Surprise Jacket (EZ), Babe in the woods (pine lace and garter on the yoke), Pomander (interesting cabled yoke), Bilbo Cardigan (big cables and a cute tasseled hood), Latte Baby Coat (nice textured panels), Little Fisher Pullover (LOVE the honeycomb cables), Temari Kimono Jacket (great cables on the body), Livingston (subtle cables on the body), Tadpole's Purple Sweater (shamelessly pushing my pattern here - textured asymmetrical cardigan), and Sunnyside (cabled cardigan).

Or you could adapt an adult sweater for baby (often just by changing to a smaller yarn, although there is still a bit of number crunching involved.

Tea leaves looks great tiny.

And so does Leaflet

Vests are also a great choice when you're worried about yardage. These patterns all look tempting: Anemone (lace and garter stitch), Louise (more lace), and Little Pearl Vest (garter yoke). Of course, you can turn almost any sweater pattern into a vest if you're running short of yarn.

Dresses are lovely, too. I can't wait to try these: Paulette (subtle texture and pleating), Sproutlette Dress (leaf lace detail), and Muti Dress (lace yoke).

Hats are great quick baby knits. I've knit Aviatrix Baby Hat several times now and highly recommend it!

Pikku-Pete is next on my hat list.

And if you're feeling truly ambitious, you could always do a blanket. Some blankets are made to be used and actively loved.

While others are heirlooms - fun to knit, great to look at, and too delicate for day to day wear.

Patterns I'd like to try include Olympic Forest Baby Blanket (tree cables), Orion's Belt (stranded colorwork!), Reversible Celtic Patterns Baby Blanket (double knitting - not for the faint of heart), Twinkle Twinkle Blanket (subtle texture), Norma (lace square), Undercover (pine cone lace square), Baby Blanket Latvian Garden (more stranded colorwork!).

Hopefully this list sparks your interest as much as it does mine. It's time for me to go dig through my stash and see what I should start next (just as soon as I finish sewing the buttons onto Miss Marple).

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Practicing my frogging

Has it really been two months? I know "write blog post" has been on my mental to-do list for several weekends in a row now but I hadn't realized quite how long it had been until Blogger informed me that I've ben derelict in my blogging duties. Remember my other goal for the year - figure out a better work-life balance? You can guess how well that has gone.

Actually, that's not quite true. I've been better about spending time with family, reading a book here and there, and taking a bit of downtime to knit. I just haven't blogged about any of it. But I have plenty to share and, if I can swing it, maybe I'll even have an FO or two after this weekend.

I feel like I've been living up to the name of this blog recently. There's been a lot of frogging. And tinking. And dropping down several rows to fix something. Let's just say that I've refreshed my skills at fixing mistakes. Yes, I probably could have avoided quite a few of those had I slowed down to think things through and plan out what I was doing (life lesson there?) but who wants to plan when you only have a few minutes to knit?

First up: Miss Marple, a lovely little girls' cardigan with lace detailing at the front edges.

Apparently I was half asleep when I did the neckline shaping on the right side front and had to rip it back and rework. But that was fairly straightforward. And the back neck shaping only took two or three attempts to get just right. (I subbed out short row shaping for the stepped bind offs in the pattern and it always helps when you start that in the right place - note to self for next time). All in all, it didn't take too long to get to this:

I'm using a Cascade 220 solid for this one (Tadpole had requested a yellow sweater). It's a great workhorse yarn but I keep daydreaming about how this would look in Quince & Co. yarns. I think it's fair to say that I'm suffering from "grass is greener syndrome." The sleeve cap looks a bit big to me but I've learned that I should not trust my instincts when it comes to toddler sizing (at least for my toddler). I'll keep you posted on the sizing once the sweater is done and I've convinced Tadpole to try it on.

Next up: Little Oak was an accident. J and I were up in the burbs last month when he said, "hey, isn't that a yarn store?" (Good husband, right?) 20 minutes later we walked out with this lovely skein of Dream in Color Everlasting DK. It's splitty as heck but takes color gloriously. With no babies in mind, I cast on for Little Oak within a day or so (almost unheard of for me). Luckily for me, one of my work friends is having a girl and the shower is next week so I have both a deadline and a recipient.

The cables are fun to work. Much more fun if you count your stitches accurately when setting them up and you don't have to frog the beginning of the yoke three times before you can get to the good parts. Ask me how I know.

I definitely don't have enough yardage to work full sleeves for this one so I provisionally cast on at the yoke join and I'll work short sleeves (just a couple rows of stockinette before a shot bit of ribbing) to finish the piece off.

I seem to be having a bit of trouble with yarn shops in the burbs. We've been house hunting. Unsuccessfully. And I've comfort shopped. Can you blame me?

These (the result of another trek to see houses in the burbs) will turn into a striped version of Wee Wildflower for Tadpole. But I'd better do a solid one first to make sure I know how the pockets work. I'll likely do intarsia pockets but want to have a better handle on how they are constructed before I jump into the striped version.

And what about J's sweater? A few weeks ago it looked like this:

It's a bit longer now but not by much. I haven't touched it in the last couple of weeks (sweaters for small people are distracting). It's a lovely color, more like this:

This weekend I'm hoping to make some time to sit down and figure out how to make forward progress on Armas again. I'm getting close to splitting the yoke into body and sleeves and I'd better remember to have J try it on first to make sure I've accurately calculated the yoke depth. 

But for now, I need to go see if I can convince Tadpole to come look at buttons with me at our local yarn shop. That's her favorite part of the store so I think my odds are pretty good.

Sunday, March 17, 2013


If I could get pictures from the good camera straight into twitter, I would have been tempted to tweet these musings over the last couple of weeks. In no particular order, here's a bit of catch-up:

First up, my travel knitting of choice: Dovetail Cowl by Carina Spencer. It's a lovely little piece that I would definitely knit again (the larger version the second time).

LOVE the yarn! I used Swans Island merino/alpaca blend in oatmeal. It feels like butter. Remember when we all thought malabrigo worsted was the softest merino you could find? Try the Swans Island. Trust me.

There was not quite enough of it for my mod to extend the pattern chart. So I stole from the rolled stockinette edge at the bottom to finish the upper ribbing. I wasn't that fond of the rolled edge anyway. Maybe on the bigger cowl.

My one-week trip for work got extended to two. That's a long time. So I did what any respectable knitter with available funds would do: I bought yarn. Rocky Coast will be mine!

I may have also bought a mitten kit from Tanis Fiber Arts. In my defense, the last time I saw a mitten kit that I liked from Tanis, I told myself to be good and wait until I was ready to knit the pattern. But when I was finally ready, the kit had been discontinued. Lesson learned: just buy it.

These are for summer. Because I just can't knit mittens in winter. Mittens are the epitome of delayed gratification and when I'm walking home from work and the wind is in my face, I want the new mittens now

Shoot, I saw this while grabbing the link for the mitten kit. It's really tempting. Please remind me that I do not need more yarn now. 

Last weekend I took scissors to my rams and yowes. It went from this

to this:

I'm now three colors into the garter stitch edging. That's a lot of garter stitch. This may take a little while.

(And note to self: the next time you do a steeking project, re-read Eunny's Steek Chronicles before starting. I used a checkerboard steek where vertical lines would have been easier to see when doing the crochet reinforcement. And I really should have spit spliced at the color changes rather than just leaving the ends to be cut with the steek. There are a few little hanging floats that got inadvertently snipped. I don't think they'll be a problem. I hope.)

Finally, my two favorite people have new handknits. Or rather, the smaller one has a finished handknit jumper that she didn't want to wear this morning (but it's done!). And the larger one has another promise of a sweater as one of his b-day gifts. But this is better than my promise-of-a-sweater from two years ago: this time I have the yarn and I even swatched!

That's it, the new sign of true love: swatching. I don't do it for just anyone.