Jutta and Olivier

I am totally tickled with MY Jutta. Yep, I’ve decided I’m keeping her for me. My plan is to fill my new craft room with creations that make me smile. Jutta, another Annita Wilschut design, definitely fits that bill.

I knit Jutta in a mix of yarns, maybe the most prominent being Plymouth Yarn Worsted Merino Superwash Solid in the creme shade I used to knit Jutta’s body. I likely shouldn’t have used such “soft” superwash for the body though. A more rustic or at least a non-superwash would have been better. Despite being knit at a tight gauge the stuffing emphasizes all the increases and decreases and even made the head a little too heart-shaped. She’s still super-cute though. And her clothes cover a multitude of knitting sins.

Now that I think more about it, possibly Jutta’s most prominent yarn is the Adriafil KnitCol that I used for the more colorful strands of her hair. The hair is a mix of KnitCol and Schachenmayr Merino Extrafine 120 (the brown strands).

The directions for how to knit the I-cord hair strands are excellent, complete with photos. It’s quite an unusual technique that allows you to knit multiple I-cord strands direct to Jutta’s scalp. No sewing. If you’re still puzzling over the technique, maybe this will help:

The scalp is covered with rounds of staggered sets of 3 purls and 1 knit stitches. You take a small sized double-pointed needle and pick up a stitch in each of the 3 purl bumps, say for about 8 sets of bumps, all at the same “level” in the scalp rounds. Cut a length of yarn about 10 feet long (or longer). Fold the yarn in half.

Knit the first stitch at that half-way-point in the yarn. For the 2nd and 3rd stitch, knit them with BOTH strands of the yarn. For the 4th-6th stitches, do the same as 1-3 BUT with only one of the strands of the length of yarn you folded in half. You need one (folded) strand for each set of 6 stitches. Each half-strand is going to make a single 3-stitch I-cord. After you knit a row of as many pairs of 3-stitches as you can manage on your double-pointed needles, slide all the stitches to the ‘other’ end of the needle—like you would for any I-cord—and knit the next row on each cord, using the yarn that’s dangling from every third stitch to knit the first stitch of each set. Keep that up until you exhaust your length of yarn. Then start a new set of Icords. Very clever technique.

I couldn’t leave Jutta without embarrassing her with another naked shot. Love the butt! And here she is again, just to leave her looking more put together. I’ve knit Jutta once before.

Next up is Wilschut’s Olivier. I knit him in leftover oddballs of Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Worsted. I knit Olivier once before and used a mix of worsted weight yarns, with the result that some of the limbs “took” the stuffing differently that resulted in some limbs not quite matching size-wise. Using all the same yarn solved that.

Olivier is such an endearing pup! I’ve seen versions of Olivier on Ravelry where folks knitted him in very dignified all-grays or all-browns. Totally sweet and maybe someday I’ll knit a 3rd Olivier and work him up that way. But I’m feeling very buoyant just now and I wanted a multi-colored Olivier.

Such a fun knit!

The tail is the cutest thing since…sliced bread? A bug’s ear?

I decided I’d show you how Annita Wilschut patterns work up, all in one piece, with no sewing.

I know. A bit scary. If Olivier could speak to you he’d be saying “No, don’t show me that way.” But, pre-stuffing, is a great way to see why Annita Wilschut patterns deserve your full attention, knitters!

Wilschut’s patterns make you smile even before you complete them.

Olivier is demanding I show you him put back together. He’s eagerly awaiting being on display in my new craft room. And, in case you wonder, any visiting children will be welcome to play with him.

The magnificent and the valiant

This is designer Annie Watts’s Sputnik the Magnificent, a “floppy huggable” cat. Pleasantly floppy. Huggable for sure. And endearingly cartoonish.

I knit my Sputnik in a light fingering weight (Purl Soho Line Weight) left over from my Library Blanket. This character’s colorwork is obviously what convinced me to break my (new) rule about not knitting critters that turn into sewing projects. The sewing was all easy stuff though. The head and body is all one piece knit in the round. The ears and limbs are also knit in the round so it’s just a matter of sewing the end of the “tubes” to the body. The pattern is spot-on correct and clear.

Sputnik even looks magnificent from behind. To create a pelt that won’t show the stuffing, I knit Sputnik on US size 1 needles.

Sputnik definitely needed a companion. Strelka the Valiant fit the bill. Watts writes that Strelka “may be small but he’s brave and scrappy.” Brave and scrappy helps Sputnik feel more confident. In fact, the two have become constant companions.

Strelka is also knit in Purl Soho Line Weight. The construction is exactly the same as Sputnik’s. Strelka is just a bit thicker through the body and shorter.

The back sides of these critters are totally well thought out and totally cute.

You probably want to see them together.

Ta da!

More hats

All together now, you non-toy knitters: “Hurrah, I thought she’d never go back to not-toys.” Actually, I’m still knitting toys like crazy but I thought I’d give you some relief from the onslaught of cute.

This is Wooly Wormhead’s Kikanna. Great hat with a bit of a bonus. It’s free on Wormhead’s (or should I say Wooly’s) website. I knit my Kikanna in Schachenmayr Merino Extrafine 120. Ignore that “extrafine” because, though it is of extrafine quality, it’s actually a DK weight.

That wonderful swirly crown is seriously perfect.

Based on notes from others who’ve knit this hat, most prefer greater depth before the crown decreases start. I knit my large size to 6 inches (instead of 5.25 inches) from the cast-on before starting the crown decreases. That worked well.

The “yarn over, knit 2 together” stitch pattern in the body of the hat is devilishly difficult to fix if you make a mistake. It’s super easy to work and very rhythmic. You get to thinking you don’t need to pay attention. Um. Pay attention anyway. That’s my sense of it. The result of a bit of concentration is one beautiful hat.

Next up is Anne Mizoguchi’s Ravelry: Herringbone Hat, in defunct Classic Elite’s Arietta. This DK weight freebie is an easy fun knit with lots of bang for not much effort. Totally easy colorwork with a well-behaved attractive crown.

There’s a minor error in the pattern on the length of the herringbone section supposedly being measured from the cast-on edge. The designer must have meant us to measure that length from the end of the ribbing section. I worked 2 inches of ribbing, followed by 7 herringbone pattern repeats. Following the length directions as written and you end up with a good hat for a big shallow-headed toadstool.

Next: I’ve loved Erica Heusser’s fingering weight Passerine Hat from the moment I spotted it on Ravelry. I was an early purchaser of the pattern. But once I spotted the projects appearing–and there now are more than 1200 project pages–I spotted the challenge of this hat and was discouraged from knitting it. Do you see it immediately?

To me, the birds and the background need to be high-contrast to work well. But those long floats are going to “want” to creep through the fabric and make a mess of it. My Passerine is a nice try but, I think, it’s finally an unsuccessful hat.

Some on Ravelry report success using ladder back jacquard technique to solve the issue created by long floats “caught” on the inside of the hat. Alexis Winslow, among many others, have excellent video tutorials on the technique. Let’s just say that I saw the problem before I began knitting. I watched videos clearly explaining a possible solution. But I was too chicken to try it. Old dog just wasn’t in the mood for learning a new trick. Blocking the hat helped some with hiding the float “catches.” But not much.

Very nice crown though!

The next hat is Thermal Hat. It’s Green Mountain Spinnery’s Kate Salomon’s light fingering weight creation. It’s such a simple creature. And I absolutely love it! I’ve worn the living daylights out of it this winter. What on earth are “living daylights” anyway? “Daylights” are eyes! Wikipedia says the earliest recorded use of the term in a threatening way is in Henry Fielding’s 1752 novel “Amelia.” One character says he’s ready to thrash a woman whose words offended him and says if she says it again he’ll “darken her daylights.”

Back to the hat. I knit mine in Fiber Isle-Buff in their lavender colorway. I purchased the yarn at a deeply discounted price back in 2014. How time passes! I didn’t realize it was light fingering weight and I had some difficulty figuring out what to knit with it. Plus my delay in using it was encouraged by the fact that it was (initially) one of those yarns so expensive you might want a loan to purchase it. My skein said it was “25% minimum bison/cashmere” and “made once a month from fibers left over from our blends. Never the same twice but always nice.” Not sure what “bison/cashmere” is but it’s super-soft. 40 grams of yarn, 175 yards, and I had myself a very special hat.

If you decide to knit this be alert for one bit of pattern-writing that I initially misread. At round 3 of the crown decreases (and round 7 too) the designer uses parentheses and one asterisk to denote what is to be repeated. Round 3 directions start out with a “K4” (and round 7 with a “K3”). You do that once at the start of the round and then repeat only what’s in the parenthesis. With that, the crown decreases work out perfectly, keeping the slipped stitches nicely stacked.

So tidy. So pretty.