Winter blues

Blues. It’s too soon for the real wintry blues, since winter is only just getting revved up here in Michigan. But blue hats. Well, blue hats seem to be leaping off my needles. This one is Dani Sunshine’s Rockhound. One of her free patterns. Anything feathery and fanny is fun for me. This is knit up in Plymouth Yarn’s Worsted Merino Superwash Solid. Excellent stitch definition. Glass head likes how well it works with her blue vintage mohair cheekbone.

Here’s a look at the nicely rounded crown.

This next bit of blue is Speargrass, in another shade of the same Plymouth worsted superwash I used for Rockhound. It’s another free pattern, this time by Susie Gourlay.

How cool is that? Possibly, very cool. “Holey hats, Batman!” But not every hat has to be super-warm. This one is a lot of fun to knit. And the pattern is easily memorized.

At first I thought that I didn’t care for the way the ribbing transitioned into the body of the hat. And next time I might try knitting a round to make the transition to the body a little more defined. But the more I look at it, I sort of like the added texture.

Here’s another view, this time off-the-head.

The crown decreases lay nice and flat and maintain the pattern well. In those last few rounds, that’s not easily done. But it looks neat. And anyway, the very tops of hats aren’t visible. Well, unless they suffer from PHS (Pointy Hat Syndrome) and this hat doesn’t.

Next up is another freebie, “Jaye a Copy of CC,” by Elaine Long. I had no idea who or what CC referred too. About the only thing I know about current popular culture is what can be gleaned from HGTV. (What waterfall islands are, that everyone wants “open floor plans,”  and that for some reason parents now want to be able to see their kids all the time when kids are playing in the house.)  But, the internet teaches that the CC Beanie is Colorado Chick‘s. Hopefully imitation, especially with attribution, remains a sincere form of flattery.

My Jaye is knit in, you guessed it, Plymouth Yarn Worsted Merino Superwash, this time in one of their hand-dyed hanks. The rim is doubled, which will definitely help eliminate cold ears.

The crown decreases work well. My only modification was to continue the decreases a few extra rounds so that there would be fewer stitches to gather at the top.

Here’s my favorite hat of this style: Aimee Alexander’s Central Ave. It’s not a freebie, but the few extra touches make it worth the purchase.

Alexander’s pattern uses an easy “trick” to get the reverse stockinette ridges to pop nicely. Same for the twisted rib. Great pop factor. And the crown decreases are well-organized too.

Even though I knit this one in Brown Sheep worsted, which made it a bit stiff, I am very pleased with how it worked out. It disappeared quickly from my holiday pick-your-gifts stash.

In fact, as soon as I finished my Central Ave in Brown Sheep, I cast on for another. This time in Swans Island Natural Colors Merino Worsted. I can be forgiven for that purchase because I bought the skein at half price, which made it only twice more expensive than seems right. Not so. Organic. I get it.

Oops. Not blue. So not blue. The colorway is Bittersweet. By now, I figure we’re sick of the blues anyway. Central Ave is an especially satisfying easy knit.

And reports are that people who don’t tend to look good in hats, look good in Central Ave.

Small stuff

Let me try that again. Stuff for small ones.

This is another Welcome Home Blanket by Kirsten Hipsky. It’s such a simple classic design. A very easily memorized feather and fan motif. The first time I made it, I basically used the color scheme the designer intended. Actually I did it in 5 of the 7 recommended colors. This time I worked for a match to the baby’s bedroom, done mostly in spring green and gray. I really like the way it came out. More importantly, so did Cecelia’s mom and dad. They even honored the work by using the blanket to bring this late December baby home from the hospital.

As before, I used the yarn called for in the pattern: the Webs “house” yarn, Valley Yarn Superwash Bulky.

Here’s another look.

Toss in the wash and toss in the dryer. Easy care’s a must.

This next one really is a small stuff.

It’s Sleepy Sunday Hat, a pattern by Aimee Alexander. I knit it in Michigan’s own, Stonehedge Fiber’s Shepherd Wool DK. Such a nice weight for a little one. Warm enough without being weighty. Alexander’s pattern is very clear and easy to work up. In case you’re liking this one and thinking it would be great for larger heads, the pattern includes 5 sizes: baby, toddler, child, adult small, and adult large.

But it’s winter around here (even though it reached 58 degrees yesterday!) So little ones might need to be bundled a bit more. This next hat is the The Thinker, by Susan Villas Lewis.

This version is knit in Plymouth Yarns Worsted Merino Superwash Solid. I made the toddler size, in terms of number of stitches. But I worked at a slightly smaller gauge. This isn’t the first time I’ve knit a Thinker. These two and these two (at the end of this post) also worked out really well. This is a Tony Tiger “GRRRRREAT!” pattern, for sure.

Salty dishcloths

saltsetfull

I know. I know. Pretty soon I’ll have to change the name of this blog to longlakedishcloths.com. I couldn’t resist Aimee Alexander’s Ravelry invitation to test knit her collection of cloths: “Salt.” “Salt” is an ebook of 4 cloths, 3 worsted weight and one DK weight. But I wanted to see a few in different yarns so I ended up knitting some of the patterns more than once.

First, is Himalayan Salt, knit here in Knitpicks Dishie.salt2

Such a nice easy lace. And it knits up quicker than two shakes of a lamb’s tail which is the equivalent of about two shakes of a salt shaker. Well, not that fast. But if a knitter can’t complete this in two hours, she’s taken a little nap between casting on and casting off.

This next one is Sea Salt. The green one is Lily’s Sugar ‘n Cream and the pink one is Knit Picks Dishie.

seasalt_both

I’ve never done this tucked stitch before. Alexander’s instructions are spot on. The only thing that seems to confound people is they aren’t sure whether they should photograph their cloths so that the stitch looks like “v’s” or like arrows pointing upward. Not that it matters, but it develops like arrows on your needles, so I figure that’s the way to go.

Here’s another look at Sea Salt, so you can get a closer look at the tucked stitch.

newgreensalt

Alexander has worked up a series of other patterns in this same stitch. It’s fun to do.

Finally, here’s two versions of Infused Salt.

infusedsaltpair

This is the easiest of the bunch, as I see it. It’s a slipped stitch (mosaic) pattern, worked up in a DK weight. What was fun to see, and quite unexpected–at least to me–was how different the two cloths are when you simply swap Color A and Color B. These cloths are both knit in the same two shades of DROPS Muskat. These two skeedattled out of my house almost as quickly as they popped off my needles. When it comes to dishcloths, it’s ask and ye shall receive.

I tamed the Oopado!

PicMonkey Collage

What’s the Oopado? The first question is what’s the Ravelry GAL. The GAL is the Ravelry Indie Design Gift-a-long, an annual event where knitters and crocheters prepare for the holidays as only fiber folks can. With support and encouragement from others on Ravelry, and with a beginning two weeks or so of discounted patterns, the GAL runs from the week before U.S. Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve. There are eight categories of paid patterns to choose from:

  • Hats & other head things
  • Cowls, scarves, & other neck things
  • Shawls & stoles
  • Sweaters & other garments
  • Hand & arm things
  • Kids & baby things (except toys)
  • Foot & leg things
  • Toys, home, & other miscellaneous things

And taming the oopado? It’s when a knitter knits at least one item from each of the 8 categories before the GAL closes.

The smaller items? Piece ‘o cake. But also finishing a shawl and a garment? I wasn’t sure I’d make it. Some forced idleness over the holidays was quite a boon to my knitting and I finished all I’d planned.

Starting with the small stuff, this is Coffee Klatch, by 10 Hours or Less. It’s a fun mosaic dishcloth, knit here in Knitpicks Dishie:

CoffeeKlatch

Regular readers know I’m a sucker for mosaic dishcloths and this one is definitely a keeper!  Actually, though, I gave it away. I’m quite sure another is in my near future.

This is Jennifer Boot Cuffs, by Kate Bostick of Cowtown Knits.

Jennifercuffs2

You can probably tell from the pristine condition of my boots, that we haven’t had much snow in Michigan yet this year. My cuffs are knit in humble, very serviceable Lion Brand Heartland. Actually, they aren’t my boot cuffs. They are now my niece Melanie’s boot cuffs. Here’s a closer look.

JenniferCuffs

My choice from the hand category is Aimee Alexander’s Farm to Market Mitts. Mine are knit in Stonehedge Fiber Shepherd’s Wool DK, a wonderful yarn that’s been discontinued.

Farm2Market

I’ve knit Farm to Market Mitts three times before and haven’t yet kept a pair for me. These are mine. They are tucked in my coat pocket. It’s very odd. I didn’t notice until just this very minute, that I’ve got a major goof on the first cable on the right mitt. That must be why I kept them for me.

My hat choice was another Susan Vilas Lewis (Stay Toasty) interesting knit: Vitruvian Man, again in Shepherd’s Wool DK.

vitruvian_hat

Here’s who inspired the hat’s main motif:

url

Honestly, I didn’t know his name. But I’ve certainly seen the image many times, the Leonardo da Vinci guy with the extra limbs, with his arms trapped in the square and his legs trapped in the circle. You can read all about Vitruvian Man here. For present purposes, he’s an excellent hat.

Here’s the top of his head.

vitruvian_hat_top

My neck category selection is Nocturne in M, by Simone Kereit of OwlCat Designs. It’s a one-skein, asymmetrical keyhole scarf. The “M” thing is because Kereit designed it for Malabrigo Rios. Rios is wonderfully soft. It’s one of those I can’t-say-enough-good-things-about-this-yarn yarns. Especially when yarns and necks will be rubbing elbows.

nocturne

I’m told that the Archangel colorway I used is very popular. I definitely like it. You can clearly see how the shades and colors evolved throughout the skein.

Next, in the baby & kids category, is Georgie Hallam’s Milo. There are 10,144 project pages on Milo. It’s an amazingly versatile little garment, sized from newborn to 6 years. Mine is knit in Debbie Bliss Rialto DK, sized for a nine month old.

milo

When the Masterpiece Theatre production of Jane Eyre came out in late 2007, Ravelry was abuzz with discussion of Jane’s rustic shawl. Carol Sunday came to the rescue and soon developed and released “To Eyre…,” complete with that great garter stitch ruffle.

eyre

eyre4

Keep in mind that what is itch to many people is cozy to me, but a rustic shawl needs a rustic yarn. Harrisville Design’s WATERshed fit the bill. This is the Mallard colorway. I really like this shawl. But as a friend commented, I won’t be mistaken for Kate Middleton when I wear it. To Eyre satisfied the shawl/stole GAL category.

This is my GAL selection in the garment category: another Georgie Hallam (TIKKIknits) design: Summer Carnival. It’s such a sweet and simple thing.

carnival4

There’s a lovely brooch pattern in the heart position. And another set of three medallions (carnival/ferris wheels) on the right front near the bottom ribbing.

carnival

My Summer Carnival is knit in Classic Elite Fresco, a 3-ply sportweight mix of 60% wool, 30% alpaca, 10% angora. The colorway is 5306, which isn’t showing on the current CE product page. They would usually mean it’s been discontinued. I hope not because straw is an interesting vintage shade.

Hallam’s pattern has a 1950’s sensibility to it. I can see Doris Day wearing this.

carnival3

Thanks to all the Indie Designers who worked so hard to make the third annual Ravelry GAL so much fun. They organized giveaways, gave away lots of encouragement, and gave gobs of discounts. They’re a talented and generous bunch and the knitting universe is fortunate to have them.

Opadoo2

Polka Dot Sheep hats

polarsun_1

This is Polka Dot Sheep designer Aimee Anderson’s newest hat pattern: Maeve’s Hat. I was part of Alexander’s test knit on Ravelry. The pattern hasn’t yet been added to her website, but it’s available for download on Ravelry.

When you check out the pattern you’ll notice I modified it some. Everywhere there’s one of those beefy bobbles, Anderson’s pattern has a bead. In the test-knit phase, bobbles were an alternative in the pattern. The beaded version is elegant. My version is, well, not elegant. Mine is funky and fun.

This is a fingering weight pattern. I didn’t want puny bobbles, so I knit one, purled one, three times into the stitch, to create six from one. Then I turned and knit back on those six stitches, turned and purled those six stitches, then passed each of the 5 stitches, in turn, over the one nearest the right needle tip. In the body of the hat, I placed a bobble at each spot where the pattern called for a bead. In that first set of bobbles near that sweet picot edge, I spaced the bobbles four stitches apart.

Here’s another view, with a bit of the pentagon-shaped crown showing.

polar_sun2

Ah, what’s that yarn? It’s Wollmeise Sockenwolle 80/20 Twin (80% merino, 20% nylon) left over from my kayak shrug I knit a few years back. I was saving it for a special project and decided the time had come.

This next hat is Evelyn’s. The pattern, though, is Margot’s Hat. And again it’s a Polka Dot Sheep pattern by Alexander.

margo_hat2

The pattern calls for DK weight, but the DK I had on hand didn’t want to get to gauge. So I knit it instead in Malabrigo Rios, a worsted weight.

Margo_hat

Alexander’s patterns are very attentive to small details. In this hat, it’s the way the picot edge is created and how the earflaps are tucked in place. My only modification was to use I-cord ties instead of twisty cord ties.

Of course, little ones look very sweet in pastels. But, I enjoy seeing them in earth tones.

Alexander’s two daughters are Maeve and Margot. Now they each have a hat pattern named after them. Both my creations will end up in Evelyn’s collection.