Knitting with mismatched Malabrigo

This Malabrigo Finito is a trickster. First  of all, it snuck into my stash in a most surprising way. Knitting Union is a collaboration of three great designers: Tonia Barry, Susan Mills, and Kim Barnette. In 2019, Knitting Union sponsored a summer-long knit-a-long. You got one entry for the prize basket for each Knitting Union item you knit during the KAL. Well, I can be a bit prolific. Plus three months is a long time. I ended up inadvertently stuffing the prize box because I really do like a lot of their patterns. It turned out that I won the basket. It was filled with a wonderful assortment of yarn and knit-related goodies, including just over 1000 yards of Malabrigo Finito, a fingering weight merino.

Malabrigo does not come in dye lots. I am not meaning to look a gift horse in the mouth, but the photo above is true to the color of my Glitter colorway–at least on my screen. You can probably spot the problem. The bottom three skeins are a fairly close match. The 4th skein from the bottom is a good bit darker than the bottom three. And the top skein is in between. Conventional knitting wisdom says I should have alternated the skeins. Oh please. I just hate doing that! The few times I’ve tried it, it turned out to be an unpleasant tangle and an unpleasant knit. I had the idea, undoubtedly not a new one, that the right pattern could hide the differences between the skein somewhat effectively.

I have to apologize that the color of the Glitter colorway is going to bounce around in this post. It simply refused to cooperate in consistently photographing the way the eye sees the colors. I tried it outside. I tried it inside. I tried it on a cloudy day. I tried it on a sunny day. Same for natural light and artificial. So prepare for the color of this yarn bouncing around through this post. The yarn is the brown shade you see above. It is not as gold as my finished shawl photos make it appear. And, despite its name, there are no sparkles in Glitter.

This is Helen Stewart’s Floating Shawl. She’s Hells Bells on Ravelry. Stewart is a very prolific Australian designer who I did not know until Floating Shawl made its way into my queue. It has all the traits I look for in a good shawl pattern. It is generously sized. After blocking, mine is 24 inches at its deepest point and measures 56 inches across the top. It is a mix of an easy relaxing knit with slightly more challenging sections. And the crescent shape assures that I don’t have the point of a triangle aimed right at my butt. Perfect.

Floating Shawl gave me some good ways to hide the fact that my Malabrigo skeins didn’t match.  Here’s what worked well for me and involved almost none of the dreaded alternating skeins. I started at the neck edge with the lighter two skeins. Moving from light to dark helped make the color changes look like a planned progression. I started a third skein in just after an eyelet row, a sort of natural divide. Then, over 6 garter ridges, I alternated that 3rd skein with one of the lighter ones. I started a 4th skein at the lace section, another natural divide where the eye can be tricked into seeing the new pattern rather than the new shade.  And then I used the final skein at the start of the last garter stitch section all the way to the end of the picot bind-off. This was only possible because (as reported by a few other Ravelers) this shawl took closer to 800 yards than the 950 the pattern called for. And I had 1000 yards in my 5 skeins.

Floating Shawl turned out to be a calm, relaxing knit. I thought that the lace section, with more than 500 stitches, would be difficult. It wasn’t. Every wrong side row was the same easy repeat. In the first lace row I set markers every 16-stitch repeat. That worked out well.

What did I do with my extra Finito? These fingerless mitts are Melanie Berg’s fingering weight freebie: Rainy Day Mitts.

I used 48 grams of yarn for this pair, including the weight of 8 rounds of the blue star stitch detailing.

My only modifications were that I added 2 rounds to the hand area just below the top ribbing. I’d have added a few more rounds but I wasn’t sure of my yardage. And I picked up 7 stitches in the gap area of the thumb, rather than the 5 that the pattern called for.  My gap just wanted more stitches picked up. In the 6th round of the thumb, just before beginning the ribbing, I decreased 2 stitches on the gap side so that the 2 by 2 ribbing before the cast-off would line up properly.

Now, how did I hide the differences in the colorway? I didn’t. Not one bit. If anyone decides to point that out while I’m wearing them my fingers will be free to tweak their upturned nose.

I was prepared to not be pleased with these mitts. The pattern just looked a little long in the wrist and plain in the design.  But, just the opposite, it turns out that I really like this pair. I’m happily keeping them for me. And the sweet star detailing is just enough to dress these up.

Classic Honey Cowl

Meet Honey Cowl. It’s Antonia Shankland’s incredibly popular cowl. A freebie on Ravelry.  OK, you probably already met Honey Cowl if you’ve been hanging around in knitting circles in the last decade or so. It’s another goodie though oldie. In fact, it’s such a goodie I’m featuring it all by itself in this post.

I knit mine in Madelinetosh Tosh Sport in the Dried Rose colorway. I’ve had two skeins in my stash since November 30, 2013. Hmmm. I was saving them for something special. More and more I find I have difficulty deciding what to knit with sportweight yarn. Honey Cowl is designed for DK weight yarn. It dawned on me that the cowl would look great in any weight, so long as you’re not fussy about gauge or the size of the eventual loop. That’s true if you reckon you’ve enough yarn to complete the cowl.

Glass Head thinks this two-round slip stitch pattern ends up as a stunning and cozy cowl. So do I.

This is sportweight yarn, but it feels more like a DK. I knit the largest size (220 stitches) on a US size 7 needle. I ended up with 28 grams of yarn left from the 540 yards that I started with.

I used the Chinese Waitress cast-on, so called because Cap Sease learned it from a Chinese waitress she met in a restaurant. It creates a well-behaved, almost crochet chain look at the start. And at the end the double chain cast-off matches the Chinese Waitress cast-on very nicely.

The edges curl on purpose since the piece starts and ends with a few rows of stockinette.The slightly more decorative edges looks quite nice. I gave the cowl a light blocking to tame the roll and make it a tad more uniform. This one’s for me!

I knit my first Honey Cowl way back in September of 2011. I used Madelinetosh Tosh Merino DK in the Grasshopper colorway. My current plan is to knit Honey Cowl more often than once a decade.

More than 27,000 Ravelers have Honey Cowl project pages. And it’s in nearly 14,000 queues. It’s definitely a knitworthy pattern.

Thinking cool thoughts

Here are some knits from months ago that never made it into the blog. Now that we’re in the dog days of summer, and with so much of the US (and the world) struggling with heat and fire, featuring some winter knits and even a few snow scenes sounded like fun. Ok. Maybe my idea of fun isn’t as well-developed as a lot of folks.

Glass Head, gazing out at the snow scene, is decked out in The Capitol, by Hinterm Stein. It’s one of the hats in Stein’s Domes Around the World series. A lot of us were prompted to knit this hat soon after January 6, 2021. I cast on in February, after purchasing a skein of Cascade 220 Superwash in the perfect color matching my nation’s Capitol Dome.

It is a beautiful dome in the real world and January 6th was a sobering day. It proved a somewhat sobering knit.

I made a very few modifications. Even though I used a lightweight worsted instead of sportweight, my row/round gauge was off. By a lot. I repeated rounds 49 and 50 six times, adding 12 rounds. And it’s still a bit shorter than ideal. But you can only monkey around with the Capitol’s dome a smidge before it isn’t the Capitol dome anymore. The crown decreases did not add what the pattern said would be about 2 inches of height. My crown flattened quickly and added only about an inch of height.

I wrapped the stitches that form the columns in rounds 31 and 33 three times instead of two. I just wanted them to be more pronounced.

Wonderful pattern, though. I like that the written-out, round-by-round directions are set out on the same line of the corresponding round in the chart. Working from the chart, it’s nice to also have the written directions handy.

This next hat is another Chameleon, Nicky Epstein’s wonderfully versatile hat. You can wear it cuffed.

Or with a rolled brim or as a slouchy or even Robin Hood style with the brim folded deeper on one side of the hat. Here’s its crown.

This Chameleon is knit in Rowan Pure Wool Worsted. I finished it as the lake thawed and winter was moving on. This post has links to my gobs of other Chameleon versions.

Sticking to today’s theme of “Baby it’s hot outside,” here’s a polar bear. It’s Denise Powell’s Little Bear. What I especially like about this polar bear is that it’s not cute. It’s more lifelike than typical for a knitted critter. It’s got that lumbering look to its legs. And the bit of a hump in its back.

Looks a bit menacing. Not particularly snuggly.

More like the real creature.

 

Sheep flock and some double-knit

These dainty-sized sheep are a hoot to make. An hour of knitting. Two hours if you fall asleep while you’re knitting. Half an hour of sewing up and stuffing. And you have yourself a sheep.

They make great donations for bazaars and fundraising shops. I confess that mine haven’t exactly jumped off Hillman’s Brush Creek Mill River’s Edge gift shop shelf. But a number have sold. And I’m good with that.

This easy sheep pattern is available in two books inspired by the Waldorf Schools: “A First Book of Knitting For Children” by Bonnie Gosse and Jill Allerton and “Toymaking With Children” by Freya Jaffke. There is much to learn about the Waldorf Schools. And they made a long-lasting impact on my family. Knitting (and crochet) are part of the curriculum from the youngest grades. The toys in the books can all be knit by children. On some days that’s just what this adult wants.

Sometimes I knit these sheep and tuck them into a knitted shoulder bag. Depending on the age, sensibilities, or gender of the child, the sheep might be gifted in what I dub an “explorer” bag or “trapper keeper” or purse.

The bag is an easy double-knit rough creation befitting a critter of the barnyard. My apologies that I’ve never worked out a true pattern for them.

I cast on an even number of stitches in the thickest yarn I have on hand, using needles somewhat smaller than typical for the thickness of the yarn. I use the double-knit technique, where you work two layers of fabric at the same time with one pair of needles. If you’ve not tried this fun technique before, it’s basically a combination of knit one stitch, move the yarn forward and slip one stitch, move the yarn back and knit one stitch, across the row. The public sides of each layer face out and the non-public sides face in and what you end up with is a pouch with stockinette on each of the sides. Don’t forget to move the yarn or what you’ll end up with is an almost-pouch sewn together at the point where you goofed. Here’s a great Purl Soho video showing the technique worked in two colors of yarn.

I work double-knit to the depth of pouch I want and then bind off all but 3 stitches on each edge. I work a flap and a buttonhole, back and forth (no double-knitting). Then I put one set of the three stitches on double-point needles and work I-cord to the length strap I want. Repeat for the other strap and just knot the two straps together.

Sometimes these pouches carry a sheep. But not always.

They can be a bit habit-forming for this knitter.

Returning to the sheep I started with, they’ve been known to hang out in some unlikely places. These put in an appearance at a charity auction circa 1990.

Sport team hats

There are sports fans galore lingering near or in the knitting universe. I’ve got some young Buffalo Bills fans who asked for hats. This one is an easy peasy freebie: Beka Inman’s “Go Steelers.” Clearly Steeler black and gold was not going to cut any mustard. I searched around on the Bills’ website and found quite a collection of high-priced knit hats. I felt pretty smug that I could knit at least a pair, with yarn to spare, from a few skeins of Plymouth Encore.

To help match the team’s color, I downloaded this from its website:

Those Pantone colors sure get around. Too bad the yarn manufacturers don’t do Pantone even on their solids. I got a great match on the blue. The red? Not so much. But the Bills fan kids are still well satisfied with their “Go Bills!” beanie.

All together now: That is a really great pompom. The trick, which isn’t much a trick, is using the Clover Pompom maker and winding it very full with yarn. You should barely be able to swing its arms to the closed position before you stop winding. And to get multi color poms, you simply cut off one color and start winding with another. I like to have the colors end up in blocks so I group the colors together on the winding arms.

A good serviceable hat. And knit in Encore it’s easy care, though the pompom always presents a care challenge.

This next sports helmet is Carol A. Anderson’s pattern from pages 6-7 of Cottage Creations booklet R18, “More Projects for the Community and Family.” The entire booklet is downloadable via Ravelry. Or you can be old school and buy the pattern booklet direct from Cottage Creations or from the many local yarn shops that stock the booklets.

At the color change rounds, I first knit a full round in the new color. Even though the helmet is K2, P2 ribs, knitting (with no purling) the first round of the color change works just fine. The knit round nicely melts into the ribbing and you avoid any of the dreaded half-one-color, half-another-color purl stitches. The stripes are 3 rounds white, 3 rounds red (or the reverse)–including the first round in all knit–with 8 rounds of blue (again, with the first round in all knit).

This one is warm for sure. If the wearer needs to accommodate glasses or ski goggles, just work a few extra rounds after the mid-round bind-off before casting on again for the home stretch.

It’s getting close to the main US sport team seasons. Plus the kiddos are headed back to real school, COVID permitting. Time to get your needles clicking.