Boot cuffs

I’ve previously made known my low opinion about boot cuffs as a useful clothing accessory. To sum it up, I rank boot cuffs low. Very low. But one of my knitworthy nieces mentioned how much she liked boot cuffs and asked if I expected to be knitting any. I don’t need much more encouragement than that.

These are Jennifer Boot Cuffs, a Kate Bostwick pattern I’ve knit a number of times before. I worked these up in the yarn the pattern calls for, worsted weight Berroco Ultra Alpaca. Excellent pattern. Great yarn.

Here’s the same pattern knit in Brown Sheep’s Lamb’s Pride Superwash worsted. The yarn is a beefy superwash and stands up nicely to this pattern. The cables pop in both yarns.

One of the fun things about knitting this basically useless fashion accessory is that the knitting is completed in almost no time at all. I am comfortable on double points. In fact (shhhh) I’ve never learned to magic loop. Unlike hats, you don’t need to switch needles because there are no crown decreases. The only thing that needs a knitter’s special care is that the cast on and bind off need to be loose. Very loose. Some people will accept suffering in the name of fashion. But I don’t want my knitting to be the instrument that cuts off blood circulation in any major arteries.

Feel free to contradict me about the utility of boot cuffs. I accept that boot cuffs could keep snow out of a person’s boots. But my observation are that people wearing boot cuffs aren’t typically trudging through deep snow. And I know that boot cuffs can add to the feeling of overall warmth outdoors. Even though I’ve not personally noticed that the five inches above my boots are a particularly chilly spot, every body is different.

I enjoy knitting this pattern. What with the state of the Canadian dollar, you can purchase the pattern on Ravelry for $2.87 US. I’ve knit six pair already. Every pair has been gifted and gratefully received. And, admittedly, people look cute wearing boot cuffs.

This next pair is tincanknits’ major entry into the boot cuff category: Paved.

These are knit in Mountain Colors Mountain Goat, a 55% wool, 45% mohair blend. On my needles, Paved runs a bit large even knit to gauge. I do not have svelte calves and a medium fits.

The Tincans have come up with a stylish addition to the boot cuff universe. The pattern will set you back $5.00. But my prediction is that you will knit multiples. I am on my fourth pair.

This next Paved is knit in an old stand-by: Brown Sheep Nature Spun Worsted.

Such nice bouncy no-nonsense wool yarn.

So, if you haven’t tried knitting boot cuffs yet, I’d say have a go at it even if wearing them isn’t your cup of tea. Mine disappear like waffles doused in maple syrup on a wintery morning.

Green hats

Apparently, as judged by my recent hat production, it’s pretty easy being green.

This lovely is Kaarre, a free pattern designed by Maria Kostamovaarra. It’s available on Ravelry in Finnish and English. I chose to work from the English pattern. And I would love to hear Maria pronounce her last name. Ravelry has a feature that permits designers to record how their name is pronounced, but Kostamovaarra hasn’t recorded hers yet.

I pronounce Kaarre really beautiful! Here’s its nicely behaved top.I knit my Kaarre in Classic Elite Chesapeake, a lightweight worsted, even though the pattern calls for a DK weight. The cast-on is only 102 stitches, worked in twisted one-one ribbing. I was concerned that would make for a smallish sized hat. And my head, along with many in my neck of the woods, is pumpkin-sized.

This hat was a bunch of fun to knit. Sometimes translated-into-English patterns can create some headscratching. This one? Only a bit. The designer calls stitch markers “pattern markers” and refers to rows rather than rounds. No problems there. That marker moves one stitch forward in the round every other row of the body, creating the interesting spiral.

I had some trouble interpreting the crown decrease instructions. The hat is so cute, it’s totally worth pressing on. The first round of the crown decrease counts out as if there were 104 stitches instead of 102. I worked it as K24, K2 together, K50, K2 together, K24.

And after round 5 of the crown decreases, the English directions say: “Continue repeating decreases at the same place 11 more times (total 13 decrease rows).” To that point you’ve been decreasing in one round and not decreasing in the next one. I continued to alternate a non-decrease round and a decrease round even after round 5. In the last two rounds, I decreased both rounds. But I’m not sure if that’s what the designer had in mind. A total of 13 decrease rounds doesn’t seem correct either. So, bottom line, just wing the decreases a bit. In my version, it is a rather tall/slouchy hat. It was an early “snatch” from my holiday gift basket.

This next greenie is Weather the Weather Hat by Megan Williams. It’s another freebie on Ravelry. Williams says she was inspired by unseasonable weather, storm fronts, and a poem that includes the line, “Whether the skies in your life be foul or be fair, we’ll weather the weather together because we care.”

Probably a better hat than a poem (methinks). A nice sentiment, though. My Weather the Weather is knit in Steady by Why Not Fibers. This is their wasabi colorway. Why Not Fibers is a smallish hand-dyed yarn company working in Traverse City, Michigan.

Here’s a look at the interesting crown decreases.

Pretty cool! And Why Not’s Steady was a great worsted to work with.

This next hat is Beloved Aran, another Ravelry freebie. Solenn Couix-Loarer designed the hat. If you want to brush up on your French, the pattern is available in French and English. My knowledge of French doesn’t extend beyond croissants and baguettes so I worked from the English version.

The pattern calls for an Aran weight yarn. I reached deep into the stash for my last skein of Martha Stewart Crafts Extra Soft Wool Blend–ever the mouthful–but good yarn.

I am very happy with the results, including the x-marks-the-spot crown decreases.

For this last green hat, a return to another beloved yarn, Classic Elite’s Chesapeake. This is Morgan Capestrain’s Oak Leaf Beanie. It’s another Ravelry freebie. Really, where would we knitters be, much poorer at a minimum, without the generosity of these talented knitwear designers?

Simply put, this hat is a stunner. I had some difficulty working it, which was totally my fault and not the designer’s. I was listening, again, to Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and at a few points my knitting concentration waned. But it all worked out. For my knitting and for Harry and the wizarding gang.

I made a few on-purpose modifications, including using a larger needle on the garter stitch section, a size 8. Even with the stretchiness of garter stitch, I didn’t think that 82 stitches and size 6 needles would work well size-wise. And I also decreased the number of garter ridges to 11.

The left twist was difficult for me–mostly because my size 9 sixteen-inch circulars are old Addi Turbos. Lace points would have been much better. When I switched to sharp Karbonz double points for the crown decreases, the left twist was very easy.

Placing stitch markers every 13 stitches in the body of the hat was a big help.

This hat has a beautiful crown decrease section.
Wow. Just wow!

Head bands

This is Knitwise Designs “Triple Crowner” headband. Linda Courtney, the designer behind Knitwise, explains that her models (and inspiration) for this design, are both “Triple Crowners.” That means they’ve thru-hiked all three of America’s long distance trails: The Appalachian Trail, The Pacific Crest Trail, and The Continental Divide Trail. In case you’re too tired to even think about how much hiking that is, it’s 7,900 miles!

Here’s Linda’s models, the Triple Crowners themselves, showing off how this design suits both men and women.

Even if you’re no hiker, but just a person with cold ears, this design works well. Glasshead looks good in it and she never even gets out of the house.

I knit mine in Stonehedge Fiber Shepherd’s Wool worsted. Here’s a closer look.

Those with a sharp cable eye will see that the design includes triple crossed cables. They are worked with two cable needles and are great fun to knit.

Keeping a headband in a coat pocket can be just the ticket to stay toasty when chilly winds catch you unawares.

These next headbands arose out of my interest in trying Plymouth Yarn’s Stained Glazz. It’s an Aran weight, put up in 99 yard skeins. That’s perfect for a headband. It’s 51% wool, 49% acrylic. Vanessa Ewing’s freebie pattern, delightfully named the “F621 Headband,” was designed for Stained Glazz.

The yarn worked up well.

I’m not sure why Glasshead insists on wearing her headbands so that her ear lobes hang out. Maybe she expects to sport a pair of earrings someday and doesn’t want them to catch?  Anyway, these wide headbands will keep heads cozy. And if the heads have ponytails, the ponytails can fly free.

Here’s another look.

F621 is an excellent easy lace, easy cable handband. The ribbons of color distract from the  patterning, but I still like the final products.

Baah Savannah

This is Baah Savannah. It’s an interesting hand-dyed yarn that forced itself upon me while I was shopping for some knitting needles at Have You Any Wool?, one of my local yarn shops.

In fact, two Savannahs eventually forced themselves upon me, Venom (above) and Tuxedo (below).

The space-dyed and speckled version of Savannah isn’t the easiest Savannah to find. All Savannah is a next-to-skln blend of 80% merino wool, 10% nylon, and 10% goat cashmere. The hank is pricey, but it’s also 400 yards of fingering-weight luxury.

This is the yarn’s special planned pooling trick, worked up in the one-row “Diamond in the Rough” pattern presently available only where the yarn is sold:

Kind of amazing don’t you think?

The trick is hardly a trick at all. You take out a mortgage and buy the skein of yarn. Well, a refinance will be enough. Actually, in my judgment the yarn is completely worth the $32-35 you’ll pay for it. Once you’ve got the yarn in hand, and the “Diamond in the Rough” scarf pattern, you use a long-tail cast on starting the slip knot where a color change occurs. Easy peasy.

Then sit back and watch the yarn do its thing.

I worked on my scarves while passengering on a few long car rides. A one-row pattern, a mistake-rib stitch, could get a little boring. But a knitters’ eyeballs are being entertained by the pooling, so a knitters’ brain stays relatively alert to the task. One skein ended up 5.5 inches wide and 66 inches long.

Here’s how my Tuxedo colorway worked up. We photographed it hot off the needles after I completed it on Christmas Day and gifted it immediately (and unwrapped).

Now I’m daydreaming about whether I may have some non-Savannah space-dyed yarn that would pool in an interesting way, using this same pattern.

Big-box store yarns

The cowl is Tin Can Knits’ Oats, a unisex freebie from this most generous duo of designers, Alexa Ludeman  and Emily Wessel. It’s part of their Simple Collection. And the hat is Elena Nodel’s Cherry on Top. Elena lost her battle with cancer in June of 2017. She left behind her loving husband and a young daughter. She made her mark in the knitting universe.

Maybe neither Nodel nor the Tincans would think it’s cool that I knit their patterns in 100% acrylic, Deborah Norville Everyday Soft Worsted Solid, by Premier Yarns. But my niece, an avid (and successful) young hunter needed blaze orange. When you need that color there aren’t too many Indie dyers who want to touch it. So, not carrot. Not apricot meringue. Blaze Orange. In Michigan, you can buy it at Meijer’s. And lots of other big box stores.

My niece is now visible in the woods from far off. That’s the important point. Visible to other hunters, that is. Deer are missing the long cones of the eye that allow eyeballs to see blaze orange. Basically, deer are red-green color blind.  So, blaze orange is a good color to hide yourself from them.

Cherry on Top has really  wonderful crown decreases. It is stunning in what the pattern calls for–Malabrigo Rios.

Here’s a closer look at Oats. It’s an easy, quick knit. This cowl is especially perfect for new knitters looking to knit their first cowl. It’s also perfect for mature (ahem) knitters looking for an easy knit.

Big Box acrylics are also great for preemie knits. Our guild donated half-a-bazillion of these little guys to a local hospital this year. Here’s mine, knit from an unidentified easy-care acrylic.

My Black Sheep Knitting Guild distributed the preemie hat cap pattern. If you search around on Ravelry you’ll find all sorts of easy caps like this one. Look for “preemie caps” or “fruit caps.”

And then there are the various Caron Cakes. I wasn’t especially drawn to the Caron Cakes in worsted. I thought the color changes a bit clunky. And I don’t like the feel of the yarn. But I fell for the DK weight Cupcakes:

Two cupcakes made their way into my basket at Michael’s.

The rainbow-like cupcake is still waiting to decide what it wants to be when it grows up. But the pink/gray cupcake turned into this:

It’s Victoria Myers’ “The Only Hat Your Teen Wants.”  I don’t know if it it will be the only hat your teen wants, but one of my 30-something stylish nieces liked this hat and chose it in an early “round” of my holiday pick-your-gift.

I was surprised by this yarn. I’ve knit with acrylic quite a bit. Knitting with this felt like knitting with yarn infused with sections of Brillo Pad. I found it shockingly rough. It also worked up ridiculously stiff. This was not initially a slouch. Initially, the hat was fully able to stand upright and at attention on its own–even with the weight of the pompom. After completing the hat, I threw it in the washing machine and then in the dryer. It softened up quite nicely with rough treatment! (I did have to rake the pills off the hat though.)

The second surprise was that, looking at the cupcake unknit, I didn’t notice that there were speckles of the red throughout the skein. I actually think that was a nice touch.

The hat pattern is a winner. An obviously simple knit, but a nice slouchy hat. I especially like the way the cupcake worked up with the bands of color.

So, though I don’t often knit with big box store yarns, to all yarns there is a season. All these projects worked out well. I still need to plan a project for my second cupcake.