What my young granddaughter likes

My granddaughter is a modern girl, about to turn 7. She plays with Legos. She would like to be a MineCraft gamer when she grows up. She watches football and roots for her home team. But she also likes her frills. She asked me to knit her another sundress to replace one that she outgrew.

This sundress is Jenny Snedeker’s Ruffled Sundress. I knit mine in Berroco Comfort. It’s a worsted weight, as I see it. 50% nylon, 50% acrylic. I wanted this dress to be easy-care—in the wash and then in the dryer.

My granddaughter really likes her sundress. She’s worn it a lot. And it’s been washed and dried many times. Unfortunately, the purple colorway didn’t sustain its vibrancy. So, although Comfort is pretty good to knit with, I’ve learned a lesson here.

Here’s my granddaughter, in her faded sundress, next to a chalk drawing of herself in her faded sundress. She likes it. That’s all that matters to me. And the pattern is an excellent one.

Next up is another knit upon request: “Grandma, can you knit me a new purse?” This one has really tickled my knitting fancy: Kristiina Temon’s spectacular (and free) Purse with Leaves.

First off, though it’s a minor point, I love the name of the pattern. Nothing pretentious. Not “Ode to Spring,” just plain “Purse with Leaves.”

The directions for knitting the purse and leaves that frame that gorgeous Chinese Knot formed from I-Cord are spot on. OK, a few things at the final stage of the purse bear correction or clarification. Knit an extra knit round before you start the bottom decreases or the garter ridges will be funky. Decrease one stitch less each round of decrease. Use a provisional cast-on to start the I-Cord because you’ll be adding a leaf later and live stitches are useful for that. And make a 4 stitch I-Cord because that’s what you need to start the leaves. You’d have likely figured all that out pretty easily. That’s only a few corrections for a pattern that comes from a land far far away (from the United States).

That this is clearly not a pattern originally written in English isn’t a problem until you get to the very end and try to work with the knot and the I-Cord. And by that point you’re totally committed to making it work. But reading stuff like “superfluous has been dissolved after tying knots” and “That the knot had been turned out on that party where it is necessary, we look how the bag and a cord should lie at knot setting. This position a miscellaneous at performance of the first and second step” is a big distraction. And also a big hoot. But you’ll get the gist of it. I’m thinking that Google Translate or its human equivalent is the culprit here because, quite clearly, Tenens is a talent and her design is clever and cool.

Check out the purse bottom. Minus the Chinese Knot, and the I-Cord strands, with minor modifications, this purse could even make an interesting beanie or beret.

Purse with Leaves is definitely worth your knitting time. I knit mine in HiKoo by skacel Simplicity Solid, a DK merino/acrylic/nylon mix.

The young ones are so much fun to knit for. And I really appreciate it when my granddaughter tells me what she’d especially like.

Just for fun, I knit and added a few hearts to one of my granddaughter’s recent care packages. Long distance grandparenting can definitely tug at our hearts at times. These hearts are Jackie Ziegler’s Love Hearts, knit in assorted worsted weight oddments (laying atop my Fichu Bleu shawl).

Becoming the right stuff

So pretty. Kaloula Yarn. Hand-dyed by “up north” (Michigan’s) own, Karen Bradley. 560 yards of a beefy DK weight. I knit it up, well at first, during Bradley’s Ravelry 2013-2014 mystery knit-a-long. The mystery unfolded to be her Cascading Leaf Shawl. The recipe is still available on Ravelry, clue-by-clue. I blogged about my shawl here. And I kind of wowed myself with how excellent it turned out.  A real showstopper.

But at some point, the showstopper lost its appeal. This yarn is so cool and the pattern is so sweet that might seem like blasphemy. I don’t know exactly why but it just felt too colorful. I think. Or too eye-catching. It turned out I wasn’t wearing my beautiful shawl.

One evening, not long ago, I put the shawl on one last time. I looked at myself wearing it and, per Marie Kondo, I (sort of) thanked it for its service. Then I set to looking for my woven-in end and started unraveling. As I frogged, I wound the yarn back into a ball. Then I wound it onto my swift. I gave the yarn a good steaming, which successfully worked out a lot of the kinks and…have a look.

This might be some kind of ultimate Marie Kondo experience.

I took a long time finding a pattern that I expected would work well with these long runs of color. To my long-ago discontinued yarn I added a long-ago discontinued Classic Elite pattern: Lavish Rib Cable Scarf.

I’d knit the scarf once before and this is how it ended up in Paton’s Decor, a 25% wool 75% acrylic workhorse of a yarn.

I made some modifications to the pattern, described near the end of this post. I thought it a fine scarf, including because of this nifty trick you can do with it. It ended up being a successful charity silent auction item.

I decided my Petite Rayure was just the ticket for this lengthwise knitted scarf. And this time, except for increasing the cast on to lengthen the scarf, I followed the pattern exactly and made one cable twist along the center spine.

Here’s the result.

I cast on 352 stitches instead of 250. That worked out fairly well. I simply centered the two-stitch decrease (and later the two-stitch increase) that frame the central cable row. The ribbing worked out correctly with 352 stitches, both the k2 p2 and the k4 p2 sections. But the number of stitches was off (minus 2) for the cable row to work perfectly. I just left 4 stitches in ribbing at one end. If I’d been a tad smarter, or a tad less knit-lazy, I’d have frogged that cable row and started (and ended) with two “extra” stitches.

I decided to use a somewhat decorative cast on and bind off, thinking that a bit of stiffening to keep the ribbing from bunching at the edges would work well. I used the Chinese Waitress Cast on and the matching Double Chain Cast off.

Once the knitting was complete, I soaked the scarf in a tepid Eucalan bath. That both washed the yarn and took the last of the kinks out.

Sixty-one inches long, 7.25 inches wide. Perfect for 5’2″ me.

I tried, unsuccessfully, to help out all you “please I need this pattern” folks by looking for Classic Elite’s Lavish Rib Cable Scarf pattern on the Wayback Machine. I got close, but sorry no cigar. 682 billion web pages saved on one site defeated me. If you’re Mr. Peabody or Sherman and can locate the pattern via the Wayback Machine, please leave a comment and I’ll add the link to my post.

I am so so liking this scarf!

Red hat days

Recently I noticed that I’ve been knitting a lot of red hats. Not that it’s been red red red all in a row. But I looked over my “knits4blog” file and found an abundance of red hats that I’d not yet featured.

This first one is the great Wooly Wormhead’s freebie, Meret, left free to be a beanie instead of a beret. That’s just a matter of not blocking it as a beret. My Meret is knit in Malabrigo Rios in the Cereza colorway. It’s a rich red with undertones of almost black. My apologies if that sounds wine-connoisseur-silly (“woody, with a hint of apricot and mushrooms”). But then lots of us are yarn connoisseurs in this robust knitting universe.

I was a smidge disappointed that the crown decreases turned out rather porous. It’s not beyond the pale though that sometimes we might need an air conditioned beanie.

Next up is yet another version of Jesie Ostermiller’s Portsmouth Beanie. This is such an excellent unisex hat pattern. This time I knit it in Anzula’s For Better or Worsted. 80% merino, 10% nylon, and 10% cashmere. This is the Watermelon colorway. I’m pretty sure it’s the 10% cashmere that keeps me reaching for this hat when I’m looking for cozy.

I’m frugal enough that I very much enjoy knitting multiples of purchased patterns. Six dollars for three hats–with likely more in the future–would please even my rubber-band-saving grandmother.

What would especially tickle Gram is that I knit this version in yarn I frogged from a prior, less successful, hat. I unraveled the hat, wound the yarn onto my swift, tied it in a few places, and then steamed it. That did an excellent job of unkinking the yarn and saved me the trouble of washing and reskeining it.

Here’s another version of Galina Shemchuk’s excellent freebie, Just a Hat. It’s a somewhat new hat pattern that’s drawn a lot of attention with 450 project pages in just a few years. There’s a lot to like about the pattern. Unisex. Very forgiving size-wise. Tidy crown decreases. And free.

 

I knit my Just a Hat in Malabrigo Rios using the Desert Rose colorway. This hat seems to look especially nice knit in a yarn, like Rios, with shading and depth to make the hat’s furrows furrow just right.

This next hat is Hill Country Hat by Clara Parks, the only bulky weight in this post. It’s part of her “Knitters’ Book of Wool” but the pattern’s been released as a freebie.

I’ve knit Hill Country (ahem) eight times and already posted this hat’s predecessors. If you search on this blog you’ll find them all and be able to see the interesting stitch choices that make this bulky-weight a standout. What makes my latest version different is my unusual yarn choice: Lana Grossa’s Fusione. If you want to give it a try in this yarn, I’ll just wish you luck because it’s discontinued. Personally, I liked its 30% cotton, 26% alpaca, 25% wool, 19% nylon mix, for some purposes anyway. Very cozy. But I didn’t like it’s-time-to-take-out-a-mortgage price. And then I bumped into a huge markdown on the stuff and I was all in. This Hill Country wiped out my stash though.

Admittedly, not the best choice if you’re looking for stitch definition. But it will keep some head totally warm.

Last up is another Maria Socha beauty: Rioska. Mine is knit in Sugar Bush Yarn’s Bold, unfortunately another discontinued yarn. It’s a worsted weight with excellent stitch definition. I’ve often knit with solid shades of Bold. This was the first time I used a variegated shade: Rose Garden. I was concerned that the mock cable details would be overwhelmed by a too busy yarn. But I’ve decided that the result is excellent.

So pretty, including Socha’s trademark well-planned crown decreases.

Second chances

This is my Swarf, half scarf half cowl. It’s an interesting Cecelia Compochiaro design included in Modern Daily Knitters Field Guide#19.  A lot of knitters–possibly recalling the “dickies” of yesteryear–have enjoyed the knitting and the wearing of Swarf. Swarf is sort of a dickie on steroids.

Swarf was my first formal venture into marling, the technique where a knitter combines two strands of different colors that evolve in sequence as the garment evolves.

That’s ribbing on Swarf’s back including where it looks like a mixture of Kraft Spaghettios and Kraft Macaroni. Compochiaro gives lots of hints about how to decide what colors will look good marled together. I guess I fell asleep during that part. That dark gray and yellow wasn’t helping out the overall look either.

I was disappointed. My beautiful Camp Colors Fingering Weight yarn set had turned into a mess. More of a Scowl (half scarf half cowl) than a Swarf.

Before:

After:

Except for the Spagettios section, it didn’t look too bad worn. But the wearing of Swarf was a pain. I had a lot of trouble getting the back to lay flat and unruffled and to stay that way. I’m sure the rounding of my upper back wasn’t helping. It also moved around some in the front. And anyway, I was mourning for my beautiful yarn and those deep saturated colors.

Time to frog. Even though the yarn spent only a few days in my Swarf, it was tightly kinked. I was defeated by the thought of soaking the yarn to relax the kinks and daunted by the thought of drying it. Ernestine, one of my guildmates, suggested that I wind the yarn onto my swift, tie it in a few places, and steam it. That turned out to be an excellent idea. It didn’t release every stinkin’ kink, mostly because I was concerned that too much steam might damage the yarn. But the technique worked really well. I could watch the yarn relax as I steamed.

My yarn was ready for its second chance. Samantha West’s excellent freebie, Diagonal Lines Hat, looked like a good candidate.

Pretty nifty. And a fun knit. The diagonal lines section is easy peasy stranded work, with no long floats to catch. The only modification I made was in the ribbing section. I separated the ribbed stripes by one round of all knitted stitches. That eliminated those half-one-color-half-the -other purl stitches and kept the stripes crisply defined.

Nicely behaved crown decreases. No pointy hat syndrome.

While knitting Diagonal Lines, I discovered that the almost-black dark gray was bleeding like crazy. It dyed my stitch markers and my white Bryspun needles. And my hands and fingers, of course. Unfortunate. I decided to steam the hat rather than do a wet block. Dollars to donuts the dark dye will bleed all over the other colors at the first washing. “Color Catcher” will hopefully come to the rescue.

I’ll need to not give this hat to Steve. Sweating might make it look like he’s tattooed a skullcap on his bald head. With that, I decided that my 50 grams of black (yet unused) and the remaining dark gray would be relegated to my stash for sewing facial feature on stuffies.

The remaining colors, light gray, medium gray, yellow, and burnt orange, were still looking to claim their second chance.

Next up is another Samantha West freebie: A Little Alien Hat.

Steve is my test for whether non-knitters will be able to make out a knitted motif. He earned that role after I asked him whether he could see what picture was knitted (at a very tight gauge) into a hat. He looked and said he saw skeletons dancing on gravestones. It was actually a castle with pennants flying from turrets. Steve looked at my completed hat and quickly said it was the Roswell Alien.

Success!

I added stripes to the ribbing and changed colors about an inch before the crown decreases started just because, well, because I had lots of colors. I planned to knit the aliens in yellow rather than burnt orange but there wasn’t enough contrast between the yellow and the gray to make the motif pop. I added one extra round of salt ‘n pepper bands to frame the alien section. I also shortened the hat to eliminate the folded ribbing, starting the crown decreases 6.5 inches from the cast-on edge (as in Diagonal Lines).

West uses the same crown decreases here as in Diagonal Lines.

I had smallish amounts of yellow and orange left in my Camp Colors’ stash and the medium gray. I’ve knit Melinda Vermeer’s Bayfront Cap nine times before and thought it would be a good choice for the yarn.

Bayfront didn’t disappoint. At first it just looks like an interesting take on a ribbed hat, with 3 by 3 ribbing that widens out to 3 by 9 in the body of the hat. Then you get to the crown decrease section.

Gulp. Every time I knit this very organic-looking crown I’m reminded again about how much I love to knit hats.

Dish towels

These are not dishcloths. These are… dishtowels so stop your tsk tsking.  More uses for kitchen cotton. More uses for slip stitch/mosaic knitting. More patterns by Amy Marie Vold.

This is Cannery Rows. It’s part of Vold’s Pickling, Canning, Preserving e-book or can be purchased separately. I knit mine in Paintbox Yarns Cotton Aran. My sense is that Cotton Aran is an almost middle ground between Lily’s Sugar ‘n Creme’s rustic feel and the more refined KnitPicks Dishie. But Dishcloth cotton all.

My younger brother and one of his daughters requested these. Here’s the these.

And a closer look at the big-red-jar one:

Great pattern.

Some of my kin have sworn off automatic dishwashers. Well, maybe one of us doesn’t have one. And the other prefers not to use theirs. All those tussels as kids about who was going to wash and who was going to dry, and now this. Life is long. Truth be told, the absorbency of kitchen cotton–even after multiple trips through the washer and the dryer–isn’t the best for drying dishes. So my family doesn’t actually use these as dishtowels. These heavy cloths make excellent (and stylish) landing pads for freshly washed draining/drying dishes.

There’s another of my Cannery Rows to check out here, late in my post on red knits.

These next two DK weight towels are an experiment. I’d never knit in hemp or in flax and I wanted to give both a try.

This is Vold’s Tumbling Blocks Cowl. It’s available separately or as part of a Cleaning Blocks e-book. I knit my Tumbling Blocks in Elsebeth Lavold’s Hempathy. Hempathy is 41% cotton, 34% hemp, 25% rayon.

Here’s how it looked just off the needles, before I tossed it in the washer and then threw it in the dryer:

Nice. A little floppy feeling. 12 inches wide by 17 inches long, worked exactly the number of repeats the pattern called for. I was satisfied with the blocks but was underwhelmed by Hempathy. It was easy to knit with. But it seemed too loosey goosey. And that reminds me of the unfortunate news that very untidy Canada Geese pairs are, even as I write this, stomping around on the lake ice demanding spring.

Before I frolic off to plan my goose defenses, here’s a look at my Tumbling Blocks after washing and drying.

It bloomed! And the feel of the fabric is wonderful. Not floppy. Not scratchy. The final dimensions of the towel are 11 inches by 15 inches. So washing and drying caused the yarn to pull in 1 inch in width and 2 in length. I knew something would happen. But still this surprised me. Not only did the dimensions change, the block pattern crisped up.

Next up, same pattern different yarn. This is FibraNatura DK Flax. The ball band said “100% linen/flax.” Flax is the name of the plant and linen is the name of the fabric produced by the plant, so says this informative Noble Knits article. As compared to my Hempathy version, this Tumbling Blocks was a disappointment just off the needles.

The pattern was indistinct. The fabric was more floppy and undisciplined as compared to Hempathy. Unwashed and undried the towel was 13 inches by 16 inches.

But check out the “after” photo:

The fabric bloomed in a way that really made the blocks pop. The final dimensions of the towel are 12 inches by 18 inches.

FibraNatura Flax was quite different from working with Hempathy. Even less yielding. A little harder on the hands. As I knit, some fluff was fluffing off and I found myself sneezing sometimes. It had looked pretty sad coming of the washing machine and I was impatient to see what was happening. So I checked on the towel after about 5 minutes of drying. Shed fiber filled the lint collector. I emptied the collector three times before the drying was complete.

I was happy that I thought to wash and dry the towel only with blue jeans. Mark this down as a most prodigious shedder. I’m thinking that will calm down a lot with subsequent washing and drying. I hope so. Otherwise one day I’ll put it in the dryer and it will have disappeared like the Cheshire Cat.

‘All right,’ said the Cat; and this time it vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone. Alice In Wonderland.