Rows are Rambling Again

There hasn’t been much to brighten our days lately. I thought I’d knit something to keep my eyeballs entertained during this long winter of our discontent. Did I maybe go overboard?

This is enough yarn to knit a full-sized Rambling Rows blanket by Carol A. Anderson of Cottage Creations. It’s, she clears her throat, my 10th. Does a knitted item count if you don’t have a photo to prove it? If so, then this is my 11th.

Just about everyone who sees this, or who saw my color choices before those 22 skeins turned into this, asked me if this goes with my decor. No. Not one bit. I believe that everyone breathes a sigh of relief upon hearing my answer. Maybe they feel reassured that I don’t live in a Crayola Crayon box. Why do this? Why knit 4,144 yards of not-inexpensive Rowan Pure Wool Superwash worsted only to be left with something that matches nothing. I am not sure. I think it has something to do with COVID stresses, with feeling gloomy, with sunrise happening too late and sunset happening too soon.

Knitting this happy blanket was a salve for how the world is too much with us yet. Here it is laid out on my queen-sized bed.

I’ve knit Rambling Rows and written about it a number of times during the nearly 11 years I’ve been writing this blog. Check here for another knit in this same Rowan yarn, and here for one in Plymouth Yarns Encore, and here for one in Berroco Comfort, and here for four more including one on steroids, and here for one knit in 1995.

Rambling Rows has obviously become a major knitting stutter for me. I repeat it at least every few years. It’s knitting comfort food. I know it always works out. Maybe not always colorwise because this knitter sometimes has the color sensibilities of a 5 year old. But knitting 2.34 miles of garter stitch soothes me like not much else.

Most of the Cottage Creation booklets have been digitized and they’re available for purchase on Ravelry, including Rambling Rows. If you don’t yet own this classic knit I highly recommend you check it out. The booklet includes 3 sizes of blankets and lots of hand-holding for those who need it. Anymore I just turn to the center fold chart and cast-on.

Finishing your yarnie porridge

With a few modifications, this is the Ravelry freebie Braided Headband by Ashley Moore. I’d tried to knit something else to begin using up my 3 skeins of King Cole Timeless Chunky. It didn’t work out. Gauge would not happen.

Timeless Chunky is put up in 100 grams balls, 164 yards each. I purchased it on-line  at a hefty discount mostly because I liked the denim colorway and I was curious what 10% alpaca would do to acrylic. My curiosity is satisfied. Apparently it doesn’t do anything good. The yarn is very soft. That’s nice. But it’s splitty. It sheds like crazy. It made me sneeze. And it’s hard to work with every way you can imagine. Life is short and knitting with yarn I don’t love doesn’t seem what I owe myself.

But I decided not to waste this yarn. It’s quite nice once the yarn turns into an accessory.

And so it began. Moore’s headband calls for worsted and the recommended cast-on is 20 stitches. I cast on 26 and worked a 3-stitch I-cord at each each. I like the way the I-cord finishes off the edge. Here’s another look at the headband off-head.

Fifty-two grams (85 yards) of Timeless Chunky used up.

And so it continued. I’m a grown-up knitter. I can finish my yarnie equivalent of a detestable porridge. Maybe I could get some slippers out of this yarn. Mine is Faye Kennington’s very popular slipper pattern. The pattern calls for super bulky and a gauge of 12 stitches and 20 rows to 4 inches. I figured that if I doubled my Timeless Chunky I might be able to turn it into a Timeless Super Bulky. I tested the gauge and, to my surprise, it worked out on US size 10 needles.

Mine is a surprisingly fun and quick pattern. I chuckle some, though, at the fact that the cables reverse direction from foot to foot so supposedly they are left and right specific. I can’t tell which is which. But I dutifully knit a right and a left slipper. Then I quickly forgot which is which.

Here’s a look at them off-feet.

If knitting with Timeless Chunky was difficult, knitting with Timeless Chunky doubled was about thrice difficult. The double strands decided they needed to socially distance. It took extra care to be sure I was knitting the strands together. And just as often, they decided they wanted to infiltrate their neighbor’s bubble. It eventually worked out though. Cute slippers.

Knitting with this yarn doubled was very hard on my hands. Mine used up 126 grams, 207 yards.

Maybe the eating-your-porridge idea is getting old? How about eating liver and onions when you were a kid? You must sit at the table until you finish at least 2 bites more. I decided to Knit Pippi by Kelly Gubbles, another freebie offered on Ravelry.

This is such a nice hat. It would look even better knit in a different yarn. Check out the great crown decreases.

Pippi gobbled up 80 grams, 131 yards.  Lordy. Still 42 grams left. I turned extra stubborn at that point. What should I knit with my remaining 42 grams?

This is not a bikini. It’s Knitwise Design’s Earbuds. You put it over your ears.

Cute, right? Pop a pair in your coat pocket for times when a chill strikes unexpectedly. Earbuds used up 30 grams. That’s about 49 yards.

With only 12 grams of King Cole Timeless Chunky left I could rest comfortable in the knowledge that the debris littering my black fleece sweatshirt and all my sneezing and my sore hands had been worth it. I had four new accessories for my gift stash. And I tossed that last 12 grams.

Around the neck

This is Pathfinder, by Susan Mills. It’s one of her older Classic Elite patterns and calls for Classic Elite Chesapeake. As with all the Classic Elite yarns, Chesapeake’s dead now that the company died. They may have discontinued it even before the company fell off the edge of the yarny planet. But I had 4 balls in my stash. It’s a 50% merino 50% cotton worsted weight yarn. Very soft. Not a bit scratchy. And it’s an extravagantly cheerful color to wear on a dreary winter day.

The boxy construction combined with the scalloped edges creates such a graceful look. Sometimes you want a warm scarf. Sometimes I think you just want one that looks good. There’s only two Pathfinder projects posted on Ravelry. I find that surprising. It’s an excellent pattern that merits more attention than it’s getting. Fun to knit. Fun to wear. I give it a 10!

Here’s another boxy scarf: Knitwise Design’s Square Deal Scarf. I knit mine in Berroco Vintage again using a non-wintry colorway. Apricot certainly competes with lemon yellow in the non-wintry department.

Square Deal, quite in contrast to Pathfinder, is a warm scarf. It’s long and wide and can almost do double duty as a shawl.

Maybe, for some, scarves aren’t working as well as they used to. It’s true that the ends can get caught on the sticky half of Velcro tabs. For sure, I’ve combed out my share of yarn fuzz from those tabs. But there aren’t many cowls that can compete with scarves for keeping a person warm. Plus, if you’re climbing playground equipment there’s much less chance of getting hurt when a scarf gets snagged as compared with the risk of what can happen while wearing a cowl. Well, not to be too grim, there was that one incident with Isadora Duncan. But her very very long scarf got tangled in the rear hubcaps of her car.

On that unhappy note, I should change the focus.

This cool cowl is Amelia Lyon’s Willow Cowl. I knit mine in (my apologies) another discontinued Classic Elite yarn, Alpaca Sox. Knitting socks in mostly alpaca never seemed like a good idea to me. This yarn is 60% alpaca, 20% nylon, 20% merino. It is soft and lofty–perfect for Willow Cowl.

The cowl looks a bit odd folded in on itself.

It looks a lot odd and lampshade-like stretched out flat.

But on a neck, it stacks into well-behaved rolls. It’s wonderful!

You can check out another Willow Cowl version here.

More for feet

Think of these as my Orange Creamsicle socks. Orange on the outside with my icy ghostly pale feet on the inside. They are my version of Virginia Rose-Jeanes Vanilla Latte Socks. The Vanilla Latte pattern is wonderful, as is. I just made a few modifications.

If you haven’t already figured it out from my prattling on about knitting with discontinued yarns and unavailable patterns, I am no spring chicken. Some of my socks are almost assuredly older than you. I mostly enjoy wearing my handknit socks, not to my hot yoga classes, not to my children’s pre-COVID playdates, but in bed. A hot water bottle might do as well, I suppose. In fact, he-who-will-not-be-named bought me one for Christmas. No joke. He was sure I would like it. But I like to wear my socks in bed. This pair is totally warm and cozy.

The Vanilla Latte pattern is really not vanilla at all. It includes some items of knitter’s choice by supplying 3 toe shapes and 3 heel stitches. I chose the Eye of Partridge heel cuff and the round wedge toe. I modified the pattern to make a long cuff. And I worked a knit 3 purl 1 rib through the whole cuff and the top of the foot, not just for the initial 1 and 1/2 inches that the pattern calls for. I’d like to say that I planned out not shifting to the knit 6, purl 2 pattern the designer sets out for the rest of the cuff and the top of the foot. I just forgot to shift to it at the appropriate point. By the time I was a few inches beyond the shift, I was liking the look of knit 3 purl 1 and decided to simply continue on that path. Instead of fingering weight, I used my favorite sportweight sock yarn: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock Mediumweight.

My cold feet are enjoying these socks. A lot. If you’d like to see Vanilla Latte as the designer intended, check here.

These next foot warmers need to be modeled on feet first. Because when you first see them off-foot it doesn’t make you want to knit them.

These are Mone Drager’s Bea’s Slippers. I’ve been wanting to knit them for a number of years. I’d seen some project pages that made them look odd in an interesting way. I found the construction intriguing. And my busy beautiful skein of worsted weight Fynn, from The Yarns of Rhichard Devrieze, was looking for a home.

These were a total hoot to knit! After finishing one I was skeptical that feet would find them comfy. I was wrong.

These slippers start at the toe with “your favorite toe-up cast-on.” Personally, I don’t have a favorite. Judy’s Magic Cast-on is decidedly unmagical for me. I don’t exactly know what a “Figure 8” is except on ice. With help from Brown-Eyed Bab’s excellent photo tutorial I can manage a Turkish cast-on, so that’s what I used.

Knitting these socks produces some interesting stresses on the fabric as you knit. I’ll just leave it at that. Maybe that was a function of the fact that apparently I eschew all magic when it comes to knitting, including Magic Loop technique. Please ignore (I do) that laddering on the cuffs. I typically don’t get ladders in my 4-needle doublepoint work. I’m blaming those interesting stresses, even though by cuff time they’d faded. A bath in Eucalan helped some.

Here’s to warm feet and a happier New Year!

Christmas bookcase

Maybe I’ve grown a bit Christmas-lazy in the past few years since moving to the lake full-time. But my version of all-out was always a tad subdued anyway. No giant inflatables. No light shows on the front lawn. No setting out of any Elves on Shelves to terrorize, I mean incentivize, tots to behave. My version was mostly a tree with a lot of knitted ornaments, strung with popcorn and cranberry garlands that took hours to pull off. Now? Now I  enjoy my yarnie Christmas bookcase.

What are you looking at? That’s a handmade bookcase painted to look like a castle that my partner Steve’s dad built. Steve’s dad worked in the display department in the downtown Detroit Hudson’s for many years. He was a talented artist, woodworker, carver, stained glass window maker, model-maker, and needlepointer. On the top right shelf, in the corner, is the church busking-mouse he carved, You know, as in “poor as a churchmouse?” The mouse carries a 1901 farthing in his front paws.

Also on the top shelf is Cat Pillow, Katie Nagorney and Ann Swanson’s cute design. You may know them by their company name, Two Old Bags. There aren’t a lot of Cat Pillow projects on Ravelry and my version is the feature photo.

At the left on the top shelf are Susan Weir’s Elf & Elf Princess. I made dozens of these sets over the years for bazaars at my son’s younger-year schools. Moving up to the top of the highest tower is another Susan Weir creation, her Tomten Doll. And on the second shelf is Darrian Dragge’s Knitted Gnome. This was a kit, sold through the Waldorf-inspired Hearthsong catalog, circa 1990. These gnomes were gnomes in the before-times, before Sarah Schira almost single-handedly educated the knitting community that gnomes, gnaked or otherwise, are creatures we can knit.

Hopping to the left of my gnome, over the head-in-a-brick sculpture, dangles my grandmother’s crocheted green bookworm. Bookworm has two plastic stick-on eyes and a jingle bell on her butt. I treasure this goofy thing more than anything else that comes out at Christmas. I loved Gram, a lot, and she gave me my bookworm.

My guess is that the stockings caught your eye. I did not knit them. Lois, a good friend of my mom, knit them. She donated them to a charity auction at my workplace. Every year she sewed and knit several items for the auction. You may have experienced that the hand-crafted items folks admire all year (“you could sell those”) don’t typically fetch anything like what they’re worth. Every year I would annoy my co-workers by getting the bidding started and continuing to bid up the best of Lois’s donations. One year my bid snagged these amazing stockings.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all! 2021 has got to be a better year than 2020! Knit on!