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.

Two-color hats

Whereas Marty a/k/a JustMarty is a fellow Michigander who regularly reads my blog and often leaves comments, whereas Marty is an avid and talented knitter, and whereas Marty has asked me to feature green knits on my blog… Wait, this post honoring a loyal follower’s request isn’t going to work because apparently green doesn’t often grace my needles. I find that a few two-color hats is as green as it gets for me lately. I tried, Marty. I tried.

This DK-weight, slip-stitch knit is Jodi Brown’s Higgins Lake. I knit mine in Plymouth Yarn’s DK Merino Superwash in Copper Heather and Celtic Heather.

Time to digress. This is the real Higgins Lake.

Higgins Lake is almost a Sixth Great Lake. It’s a 9900 acre twin-lobed lake with very clear very clean water and 21 miles of shoreline.

Jodie Brown’s Higgins Lake makes clever use of two colorways and slipped stitches. A knitter won’t have to use more than one color yarn at a time. No Fair Isle here. The single Higgins Lake pattern is available on Ravelry. It’s also included in Nomadic Knits: Issue Seven, Michigan, an ebook available on Ravelry that is also a “real” book available in shops. The book even has a code to add the patterns to your Ravelry library.

Here’s a look at the well-behaved crown decreases in this GREEN and brown hat,

Next up is a Steven West creation, Botanic Hat. I’d had West’s hat in my queue for years. It kept looking to me like more than I felt like tackling. But my partial skeins of Berroco Ultra Wool called out for combining in an interesting hat. And this one qualifies. First, for the spectacular crown decreases.

Botanic Hat also relies on slipped stitches to do most of the heavy lifting on design. It’s such an interesting pattern I figure it merits a few extra photos.

 

My guess is that someone you gift hats to can’t tell the right side from the wrong side? I won’t name names here. But I can’t be the only knitter so afflicted. Botanic Hat has a surprise.

It won’t be an embarrassment to the knitter if its wearer can’t tell right from wrong because it’s basically reversible.

Even the crown decreases look good worn so the world can’t see any of the fancy stuff going on.

And, with the Botanic Hat, I find I must leave green behind for now.

Next up is another big-name designer’s hat. Turn a Square is Jared Flood’s perennially popular Ravelry freebie. It has nearly 20,000 project pages of knits. That makes it the 13th most popular knit on Ravelry. No mean feat.

I knit my Turn a Square in Plymouth Yarn Worsted Merino Superwash Solid. I knit hats with this yarn with such frequency I should probably just start abbreviating it. PYWMSS. Jenny gets away with it after all, as in Jenny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off–JSSBO. Anyway, it’s a good yarn for hats.

And this is a good hat, with one but. Flood recommends a version of a so-called jogless jog to avoid that little line of jogs where the stripes spiral and overlap at the round change. I tried it. Many have tried it. For some it works (a little) better than it did for me. My jog doesn’t jog it just looks like a jogless mess.

Flood writes that “As you begin Round 2 of the new color, with your right needle tip, pick up the right leg of the stitch just below the first stitch of the round and place it on the left needle. (The stitch you are picking up is the first stitch of the last round worked with the previous color.) Now, knit both the first stitch of the new color and the lifted stitch of the old color together (as for a standard k2tog).” I will admit that there’s no jog with this technique. But obviously this won’t do. I prefer to live with the jog. It’s never bothered me much. I don’t like featuring my failures on the blog. But maybe the public service is worth it. Your mileage may vary. In fact, I’ll be the first to admit that I must have done something wrong. I thought maybe it would block out some. And it did. A wee bit.

So far, none of my two-color hats have been subtle. This last two-color hat is a Blue Sky Fibers’ kit for Jane Veitenheimer’s Quintessential Slouch, with a few modifications. The tan colorway is Blue Sky Skinny, an organic cotton. The natural white textural contrasts are mini hanks of Blue Sky’s Suri Merino, Brushed Suri, Extra and Alpaca Silk. When you complete the hat you’ve worked with what the company sees as their 5 quintessential fibers. It’s an excellent kit, with plenty of yarn to complete even the largest sized hat.

So, confession time. I missed the direction to continue to alternate knit and purl rows for the body of the hat and instead I changed to stockinette. By the time I realized my mistake I decided I liked it better than the garter stitch alternative. Stockinette created a less beefy hat. And it dramatically affected the row gauge. I eliminated about 15 rounds and it remains an extravagant slouch.

The crown decreases called for in the pattern are incredibly abrupt: from 80 stitches to 5 stitches in 4 rounds. I interspersed knit rounds and feel that worked out better.

So, not much green. But these two-color hats were great fun to knit.

Joji Locatelli and Madelintosh


This is Joji Locatelli’s Suburban Wrap, knit in Madelintosh Tosh Merino Light. I was gifted three skeins of this yarn. Gulp! I wanted to find a pattern that would do it justice and I believe I succeeded.

This wrap was a little hard to photograph. But it will be very easy to wear.

I thought the lace would be a challenge for me, but it worked out well.

Following the lead of a few others on Ravelry, I  knit the first stitch of each row instead of slipped it–mostly to help neaten the striped section edges. For me, that slip stitch as the yarn colors change ends up looking sloppy. Others manage it just fine. But I must not quite have the knack. Ok. It doesn’t help that occasionally I forget to slip and then you get that galumph on the edge.

As is true of others, I substituted a CDD (slip 2 together knitwise, knit one, pass the slipped stitches over) for the sk2p (slip 1, k2 together, pass slipped stitch over) that the lace section called for.

Thanks so much, good friend. The yarn was a joy to work with. Here’s my yarnie bouquet as it arrived from Jimmy Beans:

The yarn was so lovely to work with that I didn’t want any to languish in my oddments bin. Since I was on a Joji Locatelli roll, I decided to work up the rest of the yarn by knitting her long, tall Three-Color Cashmere Cowl with the remainder. Well, I needed to add one other yarn to get the required length. And Tosh Merino light is obviously not cashmere. So let’s just call this my More-Than-3-Color-Not Cashmere Cowl.

You know from my recent posts that orange and I are having a good run. I think my partial skein of Classic Elite Yuri was just the thing to make this cowl pop.

 

Yep, that does nicely.

Orange are the new cowls

This is Taiga Hilliard’s Alana cowl. It’s a very different knit for me. Way more fashion-forward that I’d usually mess with. This is not going to be a warm cowl and I am typically a utilitarian knitter. Oh, I suppose it could take the edge off office air conditioning. But I left the office behind more than 4 years ago. Even though I like this, it’s just not me and I’ll be gifting it to someone. But I haven’t yet figured out who. This was a quick, fun knit.

Another reason why this knit is different for me is that I knit Alana in Anzula Vera, a sport weight fiber mix I’ve never worked with before. It’s 65% silk with the remaining 35% described as “linen/flax.” I’ve never knit with an Anzula yarn that wasn’t a satisfying experience. Vera was deeply discounted. I gave it a try. My reaction to all silks is that it’s a very dry yarn to work with. Borrowing an expression I heard recently from the young plumber who worked on my water softener system, “dry as a popcorn fart.” That’s not a feel my hands like. As I knit I feel as if the yarn’s sucking out all the moisture from my hands. Still, the yarn was uniform, with no knots.

You may be wondering about this stitch pattern. That was a first for me and it’s what drew me to the pattern. I figured it was a dropped stitch pattern, but I had no idea how it was formed. I won’t spill all the beans. It combines an elongated stitch with a dropped stitch. You knit tightly compacted cables all across the rounds of the cowl. Then, on the last round–as you bind off– comes all the magic. With apologies for the color disconnect, that’s when this:

changes into this:

Next up is yet another Wolkig, this time in Sun Valley Fiber, an 80% merino, 10% cashmere goat, 10% nylon fingering weight.  It’s Martina Behm’s freebie pattern, available on Ravelry. I’ve knit it seven times and only have one Wolkig in my personal collection. When it comes to my holiday-pick-your-gift gathering this year, I’ll wager that this orange one won’t last long.

I am always pleased with the organic look that the super-simple Wolkig pattern produces. Check here for other Wolkigs I’ve knit.