More mosaic dishcloths

So. I was working on a rather major project. It wasn’t totally holding my attention. I was wooed away from it by Amy Marie Vold’s newest dishcloth pattern: Balloon Rides.  The pattern includes the balloon and six center motifs to decorate the balloon. My red and white set is knit in Sugar ‘n Cream, the workhorse of dishcloth yarn. First, my white balloon. And now my red one.

For me, these are top drawer, the cat’s meow, the creme de la creme of dishcloths. Great fun to knit. And they are cheerful and useful.

I knit two and then immediately decided to knit another pair, this time in Knitpicks’ Dishie. And this time in two different motifs.

Some knitting is downright addictive. Vold’s mosaic cloths are that for me. She comes out with a new design and I “run, don’t walk” to Ravelry to download the pattern. I know that all the worsted weight ones work for me on size six needles (US). No need for gauge swatches. I just choose two contrasting colorways and set to knitting.

This next cloth is another of Vold’s newer ones: tOwl. I also knit this pair in Dishie.

I’ve never seen an owl in the wild. Hopefully that day will come and that will be a thrill. For now, I can knit their likeness.

Once I took my 4 balloon rides, I was ready to tackle that big project again: a wedding present throw. More on that, soon.

Kingbirds in the Cupholder

Once again this year, as in the last two, an Eastern Kingbird couple decided that the cupholder in one arm of our dock bench would make a nifty home for their brood. Out in the baking sun. No shade. In a black plastic cupholder about 5 inches deep and 4 inches across. Good idea. Eventually, there were 4 eggs in the nest.

Eastern Kingbirds’ scientific name is “tyrannus tyrannus.” That tells you all you really need to know about what happens when the birds hatch. The parents both become fierce tyrants. We let the growing family have the dock and dock bench all to themselves except when we wanted to come and go from our pontoon boat moored about 8 feet away from the nest.

There was hell to pay for our passage to and fro. This first photo shows the kingbirds’ otherwise hidden red patch flared, about to bounce off Steve’s behatted head.

We’ve both had our heads and torsos bumped and wingslapped. They even took to flying under the pontoon canopy to go after us once we were underway.  Here’s sort of the gestalt of the experience.

I tried not to think about the Alfred Hitchcock film The Birds.

The parents had four growing babies to feed and they did not look kindly on intrusions. (These photos, of course, were taken at considerable distance.) And their definition of intrusion is born of a tyrannus tyrannus approach to the world around them. An osprey flying overhead? One parent, sometimes two, would mob it. They bounced off the osprey with the same abandon as they bounced off our hats. Their aggression bears no relationship to the threat, since osprey only eat fish and we don’t eat baby birds. Cornell reports that Kingbirds will defend their nest by attacking crows, hawks, squirrels and “have been known to knock unsuspecting Blue Jays out of trees.”

We let the tyrants rule the dock and only ran the gauntlet to get our pontoon boat out into the lake.

This next photo shows the scene on a nearly 100 degree afternoon. The parent, beak agape, seemed a bit stressed. The two parents rotated responsibilities. One would stand guard while perched on the back of the bench while the other hunted for dragonflies and other tasty morsels to feed the hungry babies.

The babies unstuffed themselves from the cupholder the day before they fledged. We think they fledged early. We’re imagining it was just way too hot out there to do otherwise. Anyway, we wish them lots of Long Lake buggy meals. We especially hope they are fond of mosquitos and deer flies.

Hundred degree hats

This week is not the week to tuck your sweaty head into one of these hats. Weather predictions say that in a few days it will be 101 degrees Fahrenheit in our neck of the woods. And daytime high temps are supposed to be in the nineties for about ten days. We hope the four Eastern Kingbird chicks who haven’t yet fledged from the cupholder in our dock-chair in the full sun will be able to make it through.

For some reason really hot weather always makes me think of the fun of knitting wool hats. So I’m featuring some here that I’ve knit recently that haven’t made it into the blog, including Suvi Simola’s great beanie “Bobbles & Cables Cap.” Mine is knit in Sugar Bush Yarns Rapture, a 50/50 llama/merino worsted weight that is next-to-the-skin soft. This is a product of Canada, Michigan’s (mostly) to the north great neighbor. The company says that “Sugar Bush Yarn is a tribute to a Canadian inclination to embrace its northern temperament.” Right now I’m working to embrace a southern temperament and not doing too well.

This pattern is included in one of the 60 Quick Knit Books whose errata typically span many pages. You won’t get bobbles like mine following the directions in the book. Simola has put out an errata, available on Ravelry as a note on the pattern page. But I decided to knit a still beefier one: knit one, purl one, knit one, purl one into one stitch. Turn and knit four. Turn and purl four. Pass the stitches over the one closest to the tip. This is the first time I’ve used a Sugar Bush yarn and I’m really liking this one.

What? Crochet? Crochet from this notorious non-hookerr?

Nope. It’s Wooly Wormhead’s 100% knitted Waffle Slouch. I was drawn to it partly because, except for the ribbing, it was knit masquerading as crochet. At least that’s what my eyes see.

My Waffle Slouch is worked up in Fibre Company’s Cumbria, 60% merino wool, 30% masham wool, and 10% mohair. I never heard of a Masham sheep and suspected it was somehow a mashup of more than one breed. That’s what it is. A crossbreed between either a Teeswater or Wensleydale ram with a Dalesbred or Swaydale Ewe. The result is a long lustrous fiber.

As always with a Wooly Wormhead beanie or slouch, she manages a disciplined, non-pointy crown.

I had a bit of difficulty with what should have been some pretty simple lacework in this next hat. Totally user error. It’s Tracey Lambert’s free pattern: Pennyroyal. It’s a keeper for sure.

I knitted mine in Anzula’s For Better or Worsted. It’s 80% merino, 10% cashmere goat, and 10% nylon. Great yarn. Great hat. I followed Lambert’s lead and added an extravagant pompom and the light highlights in the yarn really make the pompom pom.

If you try Pennyroyal, and please do, take note of the instructions on how to slip stitches. Slip the stitches knitwise. Ask me how I know that the more common purlwise just didn’t cut it.

This next hat is another Wooly Wormhead pattern: Tebe Slouch. I knit mine in Madelintosh DK in their beautiful nighthawk colorway.

Here’s another look at Tebe:

Great hat pattern and I will make it again. But one design feature doesn’t sit too well with me. You knit the caston together with the live stitches to form the picot edge with a purl row. The ridges just after the join don’t look right to me. I think I’d make the join with a knit row next time.

Liberty Wool

This is Helene Rush’s Bowties Scarf, knit in Classic Elite’s multi-colored Liberty Wool. It’s a superwash worsted. Two skeins of two separate colorways create this interesting piece. In fact, if you knit a third section in another colorway, you’d end up able to mix-and-match for additional looks. That’s what a new knitting friend of mine is planning after meeting my Bowties in person.

This photo explains.

These aren’t knitted centipedes having a rumble. These are the individual halves of the scarf. Here are the halves curled up into flower blooms.

Set out in these photos my guess is that you’ve figured out just how easy a knit this garter stitch cutie is.

Let’s put it back together, matching up each tab in one strip with its twin tab in the other strip. I’ve found that a square knot works best.

Here’s one I made in two different colorways about five years ago. It’s such a good knitting idea, don’t you think? And Liberty Wool really makes it pop. But you could knit it out of any interesting color-changing yarn. Or even out of two (or one) solid colors. Or try a color-changing yarn on one side and a solid on the other. Check out the Ravelry project pages to see what the knitting universe has come up with.

I recently came into a cache of Liberty Wool multi when a favorite shop closed. So unfortunate. But the shop’s owner deeply discounted her yarns and I drank deeply at the well.

Meet Molly.

You’ve met Good Golly Miss Molly on my blog once before. We marveled at how the heck this four-row pattern ends up looking so cool. Some have likely felt a bit miffed at paying six dollars for a four-row pattern. (Actually, I have the Classic Elite booklet that includes Molly so my investment was much less per pattern-row.) But, really, could any of us have figured out how to make this happen out of a piece of what’s basically colorful fat string? Susan Mills is the knitting world genius who figured it out.

I enjoy the way the ruffles can be wound up. In fact, it’s a great way to store Molly.

Molly’s two halves on either side of the center ridges are not the same. One side is squared up near the ridge and the other one is pointy. If the scarf is folded along its top spine, the flopped-over (then-public) side will match the bottom half. It’s hard to explain but very easy to knit. And by the time you’re done with this scarf you will be a short-row wiz.

Here’s my best hint to free yourself from consulting the pattern except for a few repeats. It works as long as you can easily count ridges to be sure you don’t end up with a fat (or skinny) ruffle.  Knit a row 1 if you see two ridges as you start the row. Knit a row 3 if you see 4 ridges. Others have also emphasized that it’s important to mark the “right hand side” of the work. By that, they mean, the right (as you look at your work) rather than the left side. I did that. But it’s not needed if you just count the ridges as you start a row.

We knitters owe so much to Classic Elite for its great yarns and wonderful patterns. I am already mourning that it “will be closing its doors in the very near future.” “Say it ain’t so, Joe.” But it’s so.

Wrap-me-ups

These are, you must admit, the cutest thing since sliced bread. Wait, no. Don’t admit that. That’s supposed to be the greatest thing since sliced bread. They are as cute as a bug in a rug. No. That’s not right either. That’s supposed to be as snug as a bug in a rug. But that expression always sounds rather ominous. Especially to yarnies whose fear of bugs in rugs and other woolens is legendary.

They are as cute as a bug’s ear. There. That’s at least a proper homely expression. But what on earth does it mean? Apparently, the origins of the expression should have us saying that something is as “acute” as a bug’s ear. Ok. That at least makes a kind of sense even though I’ve not really met a bug with ears, not exactly anyway. And whatever they have that passes for ears is not something that’s at all cute but possibly bug hearing is still acute. There’s nothing acute about these little critters though.

This knitter is digressing. Again. These are “wrap-me-up toys” by Susan B. Anderson and I couldn’t be more pleased about how they worked out. Evelyn, just turned three, likes them. Here’s a closer look at the individual wrap-me-ups. They are knitted in my favorite go-to toy yarn, Brown Sheep’s Lamb’s Pride Worsted.

Here’s the kitten, up close wrapped and then unwrapped.

Here’s the puppy. I’ve named him Clifford, given the red yarn I used. I didn’t have a full stash of Lamb’s Pride colors and sort of just found colors that worked OK together.

The body and legs of each of the animals are knit the same. What distinguishes one from the other are the tails and ears, the facial features, and in the case of the pig the nose.

The animals are knit in the round, on needles a few sizes smaller than what you’d normally use for the weight of the yarn. Once the critters are stuffed, it’s hard not to have some of the “ladders” show between the needles and some of the increases and decreses. You’ll see that more in the next two animals, who posed for you with their construction details showing. Here’s the lamb, first wrapped and then not.

 

All of the animals are meant to have eyes that look sleepy (or asleep). The yarn button in the blanket is just a bobble added on after the blanket is complete. I made an I-cord loop on one corner that fastens over the bobble when the animals are in wrap-up-mode.

And here is the pig.

I was running low on some of the four colors I used, so I went off the reservation on a few of the blankets. But mostly I was still true to Anderson’s pattern.

Admittedly, these were a tad fiddly to knit. The good thing? There are no separate pieces to sew together. The legs, ear, and tails are all knitted onto the stuffed animal body. That’s good for the sewing impaired, but it also contributes to the fiddly quotient.

Evelyn loves to cover up her stuffed buddies, so I figured she’d like these guys. But I also know that she sometimes likes to tote her toys around, so I decided to keep on knitting. I knit a fairly large (13″ by 18″) blanket that the whole bunch could gather on. I used some Sirdar Bigga, a discontinued super-bulky superwash wool, and size 17 neeedles. The largest size double points I have are size 11, so I worked up the applied-I-cord border on 11s.

As I approached each corner of applied I-cord, I knit 10 rounds of unattached 4-stitch I cord. That gives Evelyn a nice finger hold as she carries the blanket around.

Here’s how I I worked the applied I-cord. First, I picked up an entire side of stitches on a spare circular needle. I cast on 4 stitches on the doublepoints. Knit 3 stitches on the doublepoints. Slip the 4th stitch purlwise. Bring the yarn forward in a yarn over. Knit the first picked up stitch from the circular needle. Pass the yarn over “stitch” and the slipped stitch over the picked-up stitch. Then slide the stitches on the double point and repeat. The slipped stitch and yarn over work together to hide the white color-blip (from the main section) that would otherwise appear when applied I-cord is worked in a contrasting color.

Next, I found a perfect basket and lined it with the Bigga blanket.

Totally toteable.