Botanical dishcloths

This is not a gold Christmas tree. I mean, it could be a gold Christmas tree but this is mid-April, and even though it’s been below freezing at night, this is actually and merely a gold fir tree. It’s Amy Marie Vold’s Fir Sprucing Up cloth. I knit mine in Paintbox Yarn’s Cotton Aran. 18 grams of the main color and 16 of the contrast is all the yarn you need.

Here’s another version, knit in the same yarn. This time it’s a fir tree standing in the sunshine.  Ok. I guess it has some snow on its branches.

Sticking to a botanical theme, here’s Vold’s Sunflower at the Sink. Again, this is knit in Paintbox Cotton Aran. What tickles me most about this cloth is that the sunflower’s petals are irregular. Too many knitted sunflowers suffer from perfectly-uniform-petal syndrome.

In the real world sunflowers are messy whirls of yellow petals. In the real world sunflowers are wild things. Comparing one to another is a bit like comparing snowflake shapes. This is easily seen in Steve’s 2009 photo of a field of sunflowers near us.

Vold’s design captures another feature sometimes missed: the seed pod in the middle is huge and dwarfs the petals. This cloth is such a fun knit. Consider giving it try.

Next up is another design of Vold’s: Sunny Dish Position. This time I knit the pair in Drops Paris, another workhorse “kitchen” cotton:

The pattern is designed for DK weight. But Aran weight and US size 6 needles worked great.

If you haven’t yet dipped your knitting toes into mosaic a/k/a slip stitch knitting, trying out the easy colorwork technique with a dishcloth pattern should tempt. Vold’s patterns are presented both charted and line-by-line. Her patterns are tested. And they are clear. You alternate two rows in one color yarn and two rows in the other color, being sure that your yarn is on the non-public side of the work when you slip stitches. That’s about all there is to remember. Easy peasy.

Fingerless mitts

This was a totally fun knit. Brigit Grunwald’s Norwand. I knit it a pricey yarn that I do not enjoy working with: Kate Davies’ Milarrochy Tweed fingering weight. Apparently it’s high on the fair isle authenticity rating but to me it just makes the work look indistinct. Not a look I like for fair isle. Compare Grunwald’s sample and I know who wins.

But. The point of this knit was to give this unusual fingerless mitt pattern a try. What’s so unusual?

You start with the thumb. If you haven’t knit fingerless mitts before, just trust me that you never knit the thumb first. You’d no sooner knit the thumb first than that you’d knit a butttonhole before you knit the sweater, or frost a cake before you bake it. Here, you knit the thumb. Then you increase and knit the mitt to any size you like and the slightly sloped edge ends up covering your fingers. I was skeptical it would really work. But it does.

Here’s another look. I decided that mine depicts nightfall.

I used a three needle bindoff for the final (and only) seam. And to keep the bind-off comfortably stretchy, JSSBO (Jenny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off) worked well.

Next up is, “…yes Virginia, there really is …” another pair of Fetching mitts that snuck its way onto this blog.

Most of the time a skein of Noro Silk Garden doesn’t do this weird of a color changing trick. Not sure what happened to Noro. But I have a high tolerance for its color quirks.

Such an excellent pattern. This is Fetching #11 for me!

Two color-full scarves

I’m quite fond of this scarf. I guess other people like this style too because you’re looking at the 12th Jared Flood Noro Striped Scarf I’ve knit and I don’t own any of the other 11. Flood is the first to say that he didn’t invent this scarf. But, as his blog post containing the pattern shows, he did refine it. This is just a one-by-one ribbed scarf. But I believe Flood came up with alternating two skeins of Noro Silk Garden every two rows. That’s the magic ticket on this one. Color changing yarn makes a wearer smile and keeps a knitter interested in what is otherwise a totally mindless knit.

And Flood also recommended that you slip (purlwise) the first and last stitch of every second row in the pair. It creates a great edge and also hides your colorway changes. The only modification I make is casting on 45 stitches instead of the 39 stitches the pattern calls for.  Mine come out about 6.25 inches wide and 66 inches long. A bit more width than the original is what I prefer.

Of course, you can knit the pattern with any yarns you choose. They don’t have to be color-changing. And they certainly don’t have to be Noro. Noro can be an exasperating yarn, with its embedded debris, and occasional knots that totally disrupt the flow of the colors. Plus it’s more rustic than some people like. I think of working with Noro as increasing my tolerance for imperfection. As you’ll see from the next knit in this post, I’m making progress on that goal.

Noro always surprises. I’ve knit this a dozen times and never been disappointed that my two colorways didn’t play well together. I do try to look for two skeins that don’t repeat (or at least don’t repeat very many of) the same colors. Because alternating colors is the plan, not a glob of the same color spread over several rows. If you get a glob, you can just cut out a section of color from one skein and work it in later if you need the yardage.

These were my two skeins:

The blue-toned skein is colorway 475. And the brown-toned one is colorway 467. Here’s a closer look at how that slip stitch edge works out. And, if you want to see my other versions of this scarf check here for most of them.

This next full-of-color scarf was was was–just spit it out knitter–a real slog. For me, it wasn’t a fun knit. I still rate the pattern very highly, though. It’s a beautiful design. It just required both too little and too much of my attention. I started with 430 yards of Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock Multi. I found LL on a sale rack back in 1492 or thereabouts. My eyeballs fell in love and I didn’t give much thought to what I’d knit with it.

I eventually decided to knit Christy Kamm’s very popular Ravelry freebie ZickZack Scarf. For that, I needed a basically equal amount of another color yarn to pair with Lorna. I decided on this copper-colored Loopy Ewe fingering weight from their Solid Series.

Light fingering weight yarn on size 3 needles in a stitch that moves along at a typical fine gauge garter stitch snail’s pace. Well, of course it’s a zig zag pattern. But that’s just garter stitch with a few properly placed decreases and increases.

Here’s the result. I had to knit it over the course of a little more than two months, breaking up its knit with other projects. I’d knit 6 inches or so and then go off and knit some instant gratification project.

I’m OK with what LL did to my ZickZack, though it’s certainly not what I planned. Have you seen it yet? About one-half of the first skein pooled in a way I didn’t especially like. But I decided I could live with it. The reds lined up with the blues and the yellows with the orange and green, so there were blobs of color. I hoped for something different and less pooled. I continued to knit and at about 24 inches I suddenly realized my yarns had started behaving very differently and just as I’d hoped. No more weird pooling. This photo shows the issue more clearly.

About a third of my 64-inch ZickZack has the blobby pooling and the rest just looks intensely colorful.

I debated with myself and even consulted one of the Ravelry forums about whether I should start over and try to fix this. Somehow. I didn’t alternate skeins, and I probably should have. But I’m not sure the dye placement on the one skein would have fared much better if I had. Or should I give up and start over without Lorna.

Some knitters liked the interesting difference. Most figured it would bother them and I shouldn’t continue. I eventually sided with the first group. This effect makes it clear that hands knit this and not some machine. I’m OK with that, though it did take some convincing. And, honestly, having knit 24 inches, I just didn’t want to start over. Maybe sometimes a knitter needs to go easy and not obsess that the work isn’t as perfect as in our imaginings.

Lovies are masking up

My 5-year old granddaughter asked for masks for her lovies.

They are certainly easy to make. And lovey respiratory droplets are hardly contagious at all so you don’t have to knit N95 quality gear.

Before sending them off to Evelyn, my gang decided they wanted to try them on.

That’s my Ravatar in the gray bonnet. And ceramic Lambie is to her right, decked out in a pink mohair sweater and stylish handbag. Acorn Hill Pony, to Ravie’s left, is sporting a green mask. He’s ancient, nearly 30 years old, and we let him pick his before everyone else. He really wants to be first in line to be vaccinated, and that won’t be happening, so we made this concession to his seniority.  Long-legged Bunny Named Quwi nabbed the red mask. She wanted something that clashed with her skin tones as much as possible. Red’s about the only color not in her skin. And, behind pony, is puppet Grogu a/k/a Baby Yoda. He didn’t explain his choice, just waved a finger and summoned the one he wanted.

You can just wing it on making these masks. I cast on, sometimes 22 sometimes 32, using Chinese Waitress caston. After about 4 garter stitch ridges, I retained 4 garter stitches on each edge and worked stockinette in the center section. I worked about 4 rows (sometimes 6), then I worked short rows through the center section. On the small ones I worked 4 short rows, on the larger 6. I worked 2 more rows, picking up the wraps. And I finished off with 4 garter ridges.

For the ties, on all but the red one I crocheted a chain from the length of yarn I left at the beginning and the end. Then I crocheted a chain from each of the other 2 corners. On the red one, I cast on 30 stitches extra on each side of the mask. And I immediately worked back, casting off (using a double chain cast-off). Then, on the last row, I cast on 30 stitches at each edge and again immediately cast off.

The children who are close to me are doing OK with this past year of COVID. But I have to think it is a very big deal in their lives. My granddaughter has spent about 20% of her life dealing with this mess. Her parents are taking very good care of her and of her brother. And she is taking very good care of her lovies.

More headbands

This is Ashley Moore’s Braided Headband. Well, you know what I mean. It’s actually totally my Braided Headband. As in, I like this one so much I wore it straight away and put it in my jacket pocket so I couldn’t change my mind and give it to someone who wanted it. You’ve seen this pattern knit here once before. This time I used a total splurge yarn: Lana Grossa’s Fusione. I used a bit of the skein in my Grogu puppet (where it made a great collar) and had about 100 yards left. The yarn is 30% cotton, 26% alpaca, 25% wool, and 19% nylon. It’s an incredibly soft Aran weight.

I modified the pattern only minimally. Moore suggests a US size 10 needle and worsted weight. I thought the cables looked less beefy at that gauge and bumped it up to an Aran weight and down to a US size 9 needle. I also added the 3-stitch applied I-cord edges by increasing the cast on by 6 stitches, to 26. Instead of kitchenering the provisional cast-on stitches to the final row of stitches, I used a 3-needle bind-off. To be more transparent about that, I first tried to work a proper graft from the mix of knit and purl stitches. When that looked horrible I knit one row of stockinette to try a regular stockinette-to-stockinette graft. That created an odd furrow of smooth across the headband. A 3-needle bind-off left a nice straight seam and I’m totally OK with that.

This is another Ravelry freebie, Kelly Klem’s Simply Soft Ear Warmers. I knit mine in a really nice gold brown shade of Berroco’s Ultra Wool, a worsted weight. I know. You’re looking at this dead shade in my photos and thinking I’m out-to-lunch. The yarn refuses to show its true colors in my photos.

The modification I made on this one was to add a 4th cable. I thought the width of the 3 cables wouldn’t give quite the amount of head and ear warming I was after. I cast on 27 stitches and, using a US size 8 needle, my headband is about 4 inches wide.

I’ll be. It must be the headband (or Glasshead) who’s shy and doesn’t want to show off its color. Here’s a photo of the skein that gives a better sense of how lively this shade really is.

Next is my zillionth Calorimetry. I’ve posted them all at some point in the 11-year history of this blog, so I’ll not link to the others. Kathryn Schoendorf’s free pattern is one of the most-knit patterns on Ravelry: 19,353 project pages with nearly 8000 Ravelers having the pattern waiting in their queues. If you haven’t knit it yet, think of the highest star rating you give a pattern and add one. This is the 24th time I’ve knit this.

I know that it looks like a pair of lips knit in this Noro Silk Garden. I like it like that! You’re sort of planting a kiss on someone’s head and they don’t even notice it.

I decided to close with a recent headband-knit of mine, featured in my Valentine’s Day post, in case you missed it. This next one is the Grindelwald Earband designed by Lisa McFetridge. The pattern deserves more love! There are currently only 10 Ravelry project pages. It’s an excellent pattern and a real buy at just $2.50. I knit mine in Malabrigo Rios.

Sometimes a headband is just what’s needed on a chilly or even downright cold day, especially if you have lots of hair that you don’t want to have beanie-blasted. It takes up almost no space in a pocket. When you take it off, your hair won’t look like you combed it with an eggbeater. And your ears will not be cold.