Garter Stitch Squared

Since past is often prologue, you’re probably thinking that I’m up to my old tricks and have knit more dishcloths. Actually, I have been knitting dishcloths. But these are not dishcloths. And they aren’t potholders either. These are sized at 22 inches by 22 inches. Here’s a very big hint:

Yep, cat bed blankets!

Feisty is one of my brother Tom’s cats. This is day one with the new blankie and Feisty’s enjoying it already! Quite unexpected because, well, because cats don’t just do what you want them to. Pretty much only they know their own mind.

Here’s Halo, also enjoying the new nest.

 

I have a theory about what it is about these blankets that make them cat magnets. (And the theory has nothing to do with catnip.)

But first, I need to give credit where it’s due. With some modifications–more on that in a minute–this is Donna Druchunas’s Garter Stitch Cat Shelter Blanket, a freebie available through Ravelry. I knit mine in Brown Sheep’s Lamb’s Pride Worsted. That would not be a choice for a shelter, where acrylic is king. But for pampered kitties whose owners don’t mind dealing with wool, it’s a good choice. When it’s time to wash the blankets, my brother will put them inside a pillow case (pinned closed) and will wash them as roughly as possible. They will look different after washing, but they’ll still be attractive and adequately sized. After the first wash, they won’t need any special treatment. Methinks the cats will still recognize and enjoy them after they’ve felted, even though they’ll be pads more than blankets.

Here’s my modifications on the pattern.

  • Instead of working the blanket at a superbulky weight of 2 stitches to the inch, I used a worsted weight at 4 stitches (and 8 rows) to the inch.
  • For Square 1-3, I cast on (or picked up) 48 stitches and worked for 48 rows.
  • I worked a few random rows of color, not so much because I planned it as that I thought I would run out of yarn.
  • For the final square, I picked up (and knit) 48 stitches on the left side of Square 3 and 48 on the top of Square 1 and marked the middle stitch. Pick up the stitches looking at the right (the public) side. Work on circular needles on this square. Count that pick-up row as Row 1. Row 2, knit. Then every right-side row: knit to within 2 stitches of the center marker, K2 together. Slip the marker. Reverse the next stitch on the needle and then K2 together through the back loops (including the flipped stitch and the next one). Knit the remainder of the row. Decrease this way at the center of every right-side row. Knit every wrong-side row. When 2 stitches remain, knit them together. You end up with a square the same size as the other squares.
  • I worked an “applied I-cord” border.  Cast on 4 stitches on double points. Start working the I-cord at a corner. Slide the stitches and knit 3 stitches, slip the next stitch (purlwise), yarn over, pick up and knit 1 stitch from the edge. Pass the yarn-over over the picked-up stitch. Then pass the slipped stitch over the picked-up stitch. Repeat the bolded directions until you’ve knit the entire border. The yarn over covers any color blip that would otherwise appear. I picked up one stitch for every garter ridge, picking up the strand between the garter bumps. It will probably look best if you work it looking at the wrong (nonpublic) side. For the pink blanket I worked looking at the wrong side. For the green one, I worked looking at the right side. At the corners, I worked an extra pickup or two. Graft/sew the beginning of the I-cord to the end of it.

Oh. You might still be wondering about that theory of mine for why these turn out to be cat magnets. I think the cats like the yarn. Lamb’s Pride is seriously nice and scratchy. It’s 85% wool and 15% mohair. Maybe it’s the mohair that does it. My two cats, J. Eddie and Hoover, used to love their Lamb’s Pride blankets! I didn’t have the Druchunas pattern to work from then. I just knit them plain garter stitch pads. The cats snuggled on them contentedly.

Almost Ice-out!

This was Long Lake a few days ago. The weird snow-bridge is Steve’s path to an ice-fishing spot. When the ice melted more along the shore, with a light breeze blowing, the path moved about 30 feet north. The next day it blew back in front of our house.

Ice on the move is a definite “…almost there…almost there” sign of impending ice-out.

Yep. It’s melting.

This is April 20th. These two paddlers threaded their way around the remaining ice, enjoying  the 60 degree sunshine, while our Adirondacks stared.

Soon we’ll be in our kayaks, checking for any beaver damage in Ghost Bay. I’ll also be sitting in the narrows watching for the large-mouth bass schooling through.

Ribbed hats with pizzazz

It’s snowing like crazy this afternoon, April 11th. So that clearly means it’s time to write about …more hats. If this snow keeps up and foils our plan to not shovel again this season, since we assume that because it’s mid-April it will melt quickly, maybe we’ll still be wearing hats in May.

This is Rafa’s Hat, a freebie by Argentinian designer, Joji Locatelli. And, yes, if you’ve clicked on that link, maybe your man will end up looking like Locatelli’s model if you knit him this hat. Probably not, though. She sees it as a “manly” hat and it is. But it’s a perfectly proper womanly hat too. I knit mine in Plymouth Yarn Worsted Merino Superwash, one of my favorite worsted weight hat yarns. This knit looks best knit in a yarn with excellent stitch definition.

Here’s the well-behaved, attractive crown decrease section. I decided to work fewer rounds (only four) after the last pattern repeat that ends with the line “divider” because I thought that the hat was tall enough. This is a hat I’ll be returning to again. In fact, maybe sooner rather than later because snow always energizes my hat knitting.

This next hat is an Aimee Alexander (Polka Dot Knits) design: Boon Island. I knit mine in Berroco’s Ultra Wool, another excellent newer superwash worsted. The “cracked rib” a/k/a “broken rib” stitch is an easy two-round pattern that makes for excellent social knitting. I couldn’t quite get the gauge of 22 stitches and 34 rows to 4 inches in Ultra Wool. My gauge on size 7 US needles was 23 stitches to 4 inches. But the hat is very stretchy and gives a knitter a Get-Out-of-Jail Free Card on minor gauge problems.

The hat can be worn slouchy.

Or it can be worn cuffed.

Either way, every head, all sizes, will find that Boon Island suits. And the hat really flies off your needles because every other round of broken rib is a knit round.

Boon Island is a close cousin to Jennifer Adams’s Graham, a Ravelry freebie. Adams’s hat uses a traditional ribbing at the outset. This time I knit my Graham in Berroco Peruvia. Peruvia is considered an Aran weight, but the hat worked out just fine. Graham’s pattern calls for Berroco Ultra Alpaca, which is labeled a worsted but knits up (for me) a tad beefier.

Here’s Graham’s slouch look.

The crown treatment on the two hats is different, with Boon Island’s creating a more pronounced “x” of decreases as compared to Graham’s more traditional simple shaping.

And here’s Graham cuffed.

Both Boon Island and Graham are completely reversible. That’s a nice touch in any simple hat because the knit-clueless among us often seem to wear their hats inside out. With these hats, it won’t matter.

A number of knitters, myself included, have altered the Graham crown decreases thinking to eliminate any hint of a pointy top. For me, at round 19 I knit 2 together across the round. I worked K1, P1 across round 20. And for round 21, I k1, k2tog across the round. That left 14 stitches remaining to close the top.

Here’s the Graham I knit a few years ago, in Berroco Ultra Alpaca. I didn’t modify the crown and the off-head pointy crown totally disappears. My son prefers to wear his Graham cuffed.

Personally, I think “my” model rivals Locatelli’s. But I’m probably biased.

This next cracked/broken rib hat is Virginia Myers’s The Only Hat Your Teen Wants.

I knit mine in the lovely-to-look-at Brillo Pad competitor yarn, Caron Cupcakes. It’s a DK weight acrylic caked up in a really attractive run of five colors, complete with a pompom.

The look of this hat? Very, very nice in this yarn. The price point of this yarn? Excellent. The pattern? A really good one. It’s a DK take on mistake rib, with a twisted rib cuff. The feel of this yarn? Really, really rough with that unpleasant squeak-on-the-needles quality. That being said, after I washed the hat and put it in the dryer (before attaching the pompom), it softened nicely. There was no way this hat would do its slouch thing without a washing. First off the needles, the hat stood on its own.

If Cupcakes tempts, this pattern really shows off the yarn.

Haxann Evers’s Garter Rib Bliss is one last entry in the ribbed hat category. It’s another Ravelry freebie. I knit mine in Blue Sky Fibers Handspun Organic Cotton, a beefy worsted weight.

Check the other Ravelry projects for this hat to see its very different look knitted in soft acrylic or non-cotton natural yarn. The non-cottons bunch the yarn so that the ribbing looks more, well, ribbing-like. But I like the looks of mine.

I was prepared to not like the very abrupt K2 together all across the round crown decreases in this pattern. Instead, I’ve decided that I like the effect. Very nice ribbiness.

Often keeping it simple works really well.

Not just knitting this time

It’s been a L-O-O-O-N-G time since I wrote about what’s going on here that isn’t knitting. So, this isn’t knitting. This is blue ice and unless you aren’t from around these parts, you already know where this is. You’re looking at the Big Mac in the background. Mighty Mac.

One of the distinctive things about Michigan is that we’re two peninsulas linked, since 1957, by the Mackinac Bridge. So, we’re not all mitten. Our suspension bridge, nearly 5 miles long, links our upper and our lower peninsulas. Our state motto “Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice” (“if you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you”) should probably have been written in the plural.

Here’s a look at us in knitting:

This is Carolyn Watts’ freebie Michigan Dish Cloth, knit in Knitpicks Dishie. The key to these knitted picture cloths is to knit at a tighter gauge than usual. Mine were knit on size 6 US (the blue one) and size 5 US (the orange). You’ll just have to imagine Big Mac on the cloth, though. I was tempted to add it.

Anyway, what likely caught your eye in Steve’s photo isn’t so much the bridge but the ice in the foreground. Um, it’s blue. Especially at its base. Here’s a better look:

There’s no little gnome warming his toes at a blue hearth down under the ice shelf. Michigan ice (OK, ice elsewhere too) can be blue. At times. Some of our Great Lake ice forms slowly on calm clear water. It won’t have many air bubbles or a bunch of crud in it. So, Pure Michigan can indeed be pure. Ice formed slowly and purely will allow light to penetrate it more deeply. The result is that longer wavelength light is absorbed and shorter blue wavelengths pass through. And our eyes see the blue. Blue ice shows up, every once in a blue moon, mostly in February or March. This was March, 2018.

Spectacular!

Ice also had something to do with this: a 22 degree Sun Halo. It appeared over Long Lake in mid-February, 2019.

This is not some kind of lens flare. This is what eyeballs could clearly see. It’s an ice crystal halo that forms in a ring around the sun, with a radius of 22 degrees. The optics of it are beyond my understanding. The beauty of it, well I get that. Scientists say that these sun halos are an unreliable sign of bad weather to come. That, I take it, probably means that a lot of people think that these halos are a sign of bad weather to come. And that was true in our case. We had a weird week of weather that week. Snow, rain, wintry mix, sleet.

But it’s spring now in Michigan. That means we will have…snow, rain, wintry mix, sleet. But there will be some sun too.

Spring is bringing out the critters. This guy is digging for sunflower seeds under our bird feeder. Since some birds like to sit at the feeders and throw seeds to their brethren below, there will be seeds under the feeder. (Goldfinches you know I mean you.) Stay calm skunk. You are too close to the house to be startled. I didn’t even want Steve to take a photo of this one for fear skunkie would startle. I never got a close look at a skunk’s face before. And I hope never to see one again without the protection of double-pane glass.

Peace out–