Too Much Thinking Cap

Knit-Alongs (KALs) are a frequent event on Ravelry. A group of knitters will decide to knit the same project at the same time.  The benefits are obvious. Camaraderie. Allowing your fellows to encourage completion of the project. Knitters can decide to stretch their skills some and try a pattern that promises to be difficult. If they get stuck, there will be a boatload of knitters ready to bail them out.

My first ever KAL is Mindy Vasil’s Thinking Cap. Mindy’s pattern is available to download on Ravelry and Knitpicks for $1.99. She generously offered her pattern for free in August and it looks like about 55 Ravelers completed it. We used all sorts of yarns, but mine is Cascade 220 wool. Mindy calls it the Thinking Cap because “with the cog lace pattern, [you] put the wheels of your mind in motion.”

Some of us knitted it easily and quickly. We had stragglers and strugglers and I put me in the strugglers catagory. I made mistake after mistake, which is why mine is the Too Much Thinking Cap. The pattern is 100% correctly written, but apparently “cog lace” and I were not meant to have an easy relationship. Finally, I put in lifelines and matters smoothed out considerably. I knit one less row of cogs, which gives my cap quite a bit less slouch than the one Mindy designed.

A lifeline, for those who haven’t knit enough lace yet to know the term, involves threading a thin strand of floss of some sort through the stitches. Not through the stitch markers though, or else you anchor them permanently in that row. If you goof, you can rip back to the lifeline and still keep all your yarn overs intact. Clever. Knitters often use dental floss for their lifelines. That’s what I used. I’m going to have to buy some that isn’t mint flavored, though, and keep it in my knitting bag. My Too Much Thinking Cap still bears the scent of the dental floss. So does my knitting bag.

Scarf Times Three

More knits from “60 Quick Knits: 20 Hats, 20 Scarves, 20 Mittens in Cascade 220.”  I know, that title is quite a mouthful.

This is Ruffled Scarf, designed by Cathy Carron. It’s knit in hurdle stitch, something I haven’t seen used in many patterns.This oldie but goodie is a 4 row repeat, on an even number of stitches. The first two rows are knitted and the next two rows are knit 1, purl 1 across the entire row. Obviously, the ruffles are knit in garter stitch. Best of all? You end up with a totally reversible scarf that looks different (but nice) on both sides. Worst of all? It gets boring after awhile. I knit mine in Paton’s Classic Wool. The pattern calls for a 48 inch scarf. With about 470 yards of wool, mine ended up at 56 inches, which I think is a better length for a scarf. The ruffle  is a sweet, retro touch.  I think Mary Tyler Moore would like it.  Or at least Laura Petrie.

This one is the sensibly-named Eyelet Scarf, designed by Lisa Bucellato. It’s knit in Cascade 220 wool. I usually knit little pigs out of this yarn, but a little scarf is OK for a change. The scarf is about 5 inches wide and 40 inches long. A one skein project. Looks nice on both sides.  Meant for an adult, but my sense is it’s not quite long enough and it would be great for a kid. As the book title says, definitely a quick knit.

This is the Wave Scarf. It took about 430 yards of Kramer Naturally Nazareth. (That’s Nazareth, Pennsylvania). It was not a particularly quick knit.  Knit 1, purl 1 rib never is.  The design is Debbie O’Neill’s. It was a bit troublesome to knit. At the beginning, the increases and decreases held my interest. Then I got cocky and made mistakes. Then I got bored and made even more mistakes. Then I got miffed with the ripping back. But, persistence paid off and the finished scarf is worth the effort. This is a very long wave. The designer suggests 68 inches. For me, that was mid-wave, so mine ended up about 72 inches long. There is one error in the chart: the stitch count is not going to come out correct unless you skip rows 83 and 84. With that correction, it worked well.

And, in case you are wondering why I decided to knit three wool scarves during a summer of mostly hot sticky weather, it is a mystery to me too.

Winter Hats, Summer Knits

It’s been very hot in Michigan lately. Even at the lake, temperatures reached into the 90’s. This is perfect weather for small projects. 60 Quick Knits is a great new book that features all Cascade 220 yarns. 20 hats, 20 scarves, and 20 mittens. This one is Bobbles and Cables designed by Suvi Simola. A fun, quick knit, worked up in Cascade 220 wool.

Starfish Hat, by Anne Farnham, worked up quite nicely. I moved the needle size up one beyond gauge, to get a bit more slouch in the main section. The bit of lace and bobble mix is easy peasy and adds a nice touch. And at the crown, the decreases form a starfish shape. This electric green will brighten up a wintry day. Cascade 220 wool has such a wonderful selection of colors.

This one, knit in Cascade Quatro, is “Tasseled Topper” by Linda Medina. That must make mine: No-Tasseled Topper” and I think it works nicely.  Not a fan of tassels, but I like this hat.

Cascade’s new book is great for knitters looking for small projects in worsted weight yarns. In the last few weeks, I’ve knit these three hats and have already started my second scarf from the book.

Yarns To Go: Alpena, Michigan

Durenda Pake’s “Yarns To Go” shop  is located at 127 Second Street, in the heart of downtown Alpena. She has a wonderful selection of natural fiber yarns, as well as acrylics. I’ve never knit with Plymouth Yarn‘s Galway and so I selected these two shades for a pair of fair isle mittens. It’s a yarn that looks quite comparable to Cascade 220–maybe a  bit more “refined” and a bit tighter twist. On US size 8’s it should knit up at 5 stitches to the inch. So says the ball band. The yarn is spun for Plymouth Yarns in Peru.

Naturally Nazareth is a “100 percent domestic wool” that I am not familiar with. Yarns To Go has a small selection of what the ball band describes as Aran weight (4.5 stitches to the inch on US size 8 needles). The yarn is produced by Kraemer Yarns. I puzzled over the “Naturally Nazareth” yarn name–until I saw that the yarn is spun in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. I plan a scarf for the variegated yarn and a pair of mittens for the black and natural.

Locally, Cascade 220 is getting to be hard to find. Maybe the shops have mostly abandoned the yarn to the internet sellers.  The shops nearer to home have started stocking Ella Rae, instead. Good yarn, but not Cascade 220. I like the somewhat more rough look of Cascade 220 better. Plus Ella Rae is more expensive.

So, if you are in Northeast Michigan looking for yarn shops, be sure to check out Yarns To Go. Nice people. Helpful. Lots of yarn. And a surprisingly complete and up-to-date selection of books.