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.

For the feet

These are Susan B. Anderson’s top-down Smooth Operator Socks. Actually they are my socks, but you know the drill. Anderson designed them. I knit them. And, in this case, Bad Amy is the yarnie whose work gave these socks their pizzazz.

I’d used the gold of the Bad Amy yarn set on another project and wanted to find a pattern that would make the self-striping yarn look its best, even without a gold toe and heel. Smooth Operators fit the bill perfectly. The design is meant to help self-striping yarn do its striping best. The pattern helps you to plan for two identical socks. I succeeded, except for the heels. And, more important than two perfectly matched socks, the afterthought heel assures that the striping isn’t interfered with on the front of the sock while a knitter is busy knitting the heel.

Honestly, I am concerned that these heels won’t hold up well. I prefer a heel with slipped stitches to help durability. But, for looks, this pair gets high marks. I am planning to wear them with sandals to try to avoid having to darn the heels. Hmm. That would be a neat trick. Darning, that is. I’ve never darned socks. I’ve watched videos on how it’s done. That’s as close as I’ve come.

My Smooth Operators followed on the heels of another recent sock escapade. My escapade started with this beautiful skein of Socks That Rock.

I go limp in the face of pink and spring green. And those blue splotches looked so good in the skein.

Well. That’s a fine howdy-do. I nominate these for the worst-pooling-ever award. I can’t and won’t fault the pattern, which is Churchmouse Yarns & Teas’ Basic Socks. It’s an excellent basic sock pattern. In fact, if you’ve not knit socks before and one to try sock-knitting, this is an excellent pattern because the directions are extremely detailed. Don’t hold these socks against that pattern.

Maybe if I scrunch them up a bit they’ll become less awful.

No. I will still wear these socks. It’s great yarn. If we meet up at Freddy’s you will know me by my socks. There won’t be another pair of these anywhere else except on my feet.

This next bit of footgear worked out much better. A different variegated yarn stood up well to a different Churchmouse pattern, Turkish Bed Socks. Mine are knit in Yarn Hollow Squish, an interesting fingering weight in 60% Wool, 30% Rayon from Bamboo, and 10% Nylon. I don’t know what Rayon from Bamboo is all about, but Squish is excellent yarn. I had a partial skein from a cowl kit that didn’t work out for me, so I repurposed it for these bed socks.

I’ve knit these before. They do not disappoint and look great in self-striping yarn.

Hats for a cold spring

Looks like spring. But this fingering weight hat will keep the wintery weather at bay. That’s been handy this April. Good news, though. Ice-out a few days ago on Long Lake! We’ve already been in our kayaks. The beaver were kind to our Ghost Bay trees and didn’t even munch the birch trees. The small-mouth bass are moving throughout the lake. Our dock went in today. Nick’s been wake-boarding this past weekend. So, we rush the season a bit, even while I cling to winter knits. There’s no time when I don’t knit wool hats. Even in the summer, hats keep popping off my needles.

This beauty is Joan Sheridan’s Hearts and Flowers Fair Isle Cap. Sheridan kits this up in seven shades of Jamieson’s Spindrift and and sells the kit at her shop. As always with her kits, there was plenty of leftover yarn–even though I knit the largest size. The pattern is also downloadable on Ravelry.

Here’s a look at the great crown decrease section.

Such fun to knit! And so much bang for your knitting bucks.

I think I feel a red(dish) hat blog post coming on. This next one is Dawnlight Slouchy Hat by Jo-Anne Klim.

I knit mine in String Theory’s Hand-dyed Merino DK, in the Rose Madder colorway. It’s a delicious shade of reddish-orange. I knit this hat over the winter and got tons of use out of it. The texture and slouch work well for me. I’ve learned, only lately actually, that head-hugger beanies aren’t the right look for me anymore. (That doesn’t stop me from wearing plenty of beanies anyway, though.)

This is one major beanie. It’s Dan the Plug’Ole, by Nathan Taylor. A little research and I learned the apparent origin of the pattern name: “Your hoglet has gawn dan the plug’ole”  is a line from an old Cockney dialect poem. I was drawn to the pattern exactly because of that spiralling ribbing and stockinette. It’s a fairly easy knit. You have to stay awake to make it work. But the effect is worth the effort. And that wide brim really keeps ears warm. Mine is knit in Cascade 220 Superwash Effects. Good hat. Good yarn.

Here’s a look at that spiraling top as it goes down the plug hole.

Honestly, I had a little trouble with the spiral. Snooze, you lose (a stitch or two). But it worked out well. Eventually.

This next hat, a freebie by Jan Wise, also has a great name: F309 Slouchy Hat with Picot Edge. This name tells a knitter all that needs to be known. I knit mine in a great yarn, now discontinued, Harrisviille Designs’ Orchid with Cashmere:

My top ended up a tad unruly. Here it is, unblocked. I kind of like it this way.

This next hat is Brick Sidewalk Beanie, an Ann Weaver design, free on Ravelry. I knit mine in String Theory Hand-Dyed Merino DK, in wisteria. Ok, not a red like the rest of the post’s hats. But sort of a pink. Sort of a lavender pink. Close enough.

It’s an interesting knit. The ribbing is unusual. And I really like the way the three columns of ribbing continue up the hat and taper gently through the crown decrease section.

I knit the largest size and mine turned out a bit long at the back of the neck. That’s easily remedied by shortening the body of the hat about an inch. Or it could be worn with a bit of slouch and a bit of attitude.

You only have to make one hat, so there’s no such thing as second hat syndrome to deal with. You don’t have to obsess much about gauge, because heads come in such a variety of sizes you’ll always find a head to fit. And knitting hats is the perfect portable project for all those waiting rooms we need to frequent. Go forth and knit hats! All. Year. Long.

Cowl and Howl

Nice hat. There’d be room for a pony tail to hang free if you loosen the ties. And if you loosen the ties all the way, there’s room for a neck. Hat plus cowl equals Howl.

Howl, by Kimmy Zalec, is a free Ravlery download designed for exactly the yarn I used: Noro Silk Garden. Silk Garden is 45% mohair, 45% silk, 10% wool and charts out as an Aran weight. Two 50-gram skeins will do the trick and leave you with about 16 grams to spare.

Very cozy and very fun to knit. My Howl was gifted almost as soon as it left my needles. Here’s another look.

It needed blocking to make that unusual picot bind-off behave and to tame its curling. I’m planning to knit another of these soon.

Glass head is wearing Bobble Cowl by Joji Locatelli.

It’s an easy, rhythmic knit, filled with every knitter’s first stitch (garter), but with interesting details. The pattern is 48 rows, to be repeated a dozen times. I had to count rows. And a few times I lost count. But fortunately it’s easy to figure out where you are.

I decided not to block the cowl. I’m satisfied with the yarn-overs not opened up wide. I didn’t want to kill the cushiness of the garter stitch. I prefer a closer fitting cowl rather than one that drapes long.

Bobble cowl is knit flat. I used a crochet provisional cast-on and then grafted the beginning to the end. A three-needle bind off would have worked well too.

This is a new yarn to me. I’m a fan: Dark Side of the Moon by Alexandra’s Crafts in the Twilight colorway. It’s 80% Merino and 20% Tussah Silk. Bobble Cowl is a garter-stitch yarn-eater. So this cowl took nearly every yard of the 434 yard skein.

April 16th? Snow Central (Ave)

This Dark-Eyed Junco looks as if he’s dipped in snow. That’s actually the color of his belly feathers. He’s sitting atop a snow mound on our deck table.

We’d just started to see some grass, once the 10-12 inches of snow that fell a week earlier melted away. Then, this. It’s hard to tell, because the drifts are so high, but we estimate we’ve got about 15 inches of new snow. And the drifts, the drifts are thigh-high on my 5 foot three inch self.

Here’s a look at the deck table without the Junco.

And I’m jumping the gun a bit on this post because predictions are for another 3-5 inches today. It’s been snowing all morning.

This has to go down as one-to-remember. “Up north” Michigan is thinking more about wrestling with snow than tax forms today. Snowmobiles are reporting they’re getting stuck. Some of this snow is the gooey, water-laden kind that sticks to shovels, snowblowers, and snowmobiles.

That’s Steve with a big two-stage snowblower, trying to tame the first wave. We ended up hauling out the little guy for me to work on the cement pad during the third effort to get this under control.

You might be wondering how our snow-fencing effort fared. Good news!  This year it didn’t fall over. It stood there all winter, deep into this difficult early spring. But it hasn’t really done anything to significantly keep the snow off the parking pad. It does add a nice splash of orange though, don’t you think?

We aren’t even thinking about ice-out yet. Last year the last bits of ice were sent packing on April 25th into the 26th. So we have about ten days to go. I don’t think we’ll make it. At this rate we’ll still have snow on Memorial Day!

That’s the lake on the morning of April 16th. It’s been windy enough that the sunflower seeds that are whipping the finch flock into a feeding frenzy at our feeders have scattered around. Those finches who can’t command a perch at the feeders are picking at the snow crust searching for food. Every once in awhile the flock spooks and vanishes for half a minute or so, giving the chickadees, nuthatches, juncos, woodpeckers, and tufted titmice time to feed.

We’re worried about the trees on the property. We’ve been losing branches from some of the tall pines. So far, nothing has landed on the house. And nothing so major has fallen that we think the trees won’t pull through. But spring cleanup is going to be a major event. That’s assuming spring is eventually going to put in an appearance.

Here’s me, in my snow-covered Central Ave hat by Aimee Alexander. “Cheese.” We’d gone out for a second time to knock snow off the low-lying pine branches. Such a great hat. Knit in Swans Island Merino Worsted in the bittersweet colorway, it even matches the snow fence. I strive to be color-coordinated at all times.