One yarn, two projects

Isn’t it a beauty? It’s Tonia Barry’s Underhill wrap. I knit mine in the now-discontinued Classic Elite Legend, an 80% merino, 20% silk Aran weight. To me it feels like a worsted weight. The gauge for the project is 18 stitches and 29 rows in garter stitch to 4 inches.

Barry has designed extensively for Classic Elite. She, joined by Susan Mills and Kim Barnette, now release patterns under the umbrella of the Knitting Union. The trio was Classic Elite’s main design team and released more than 1200 patterns for the  company before it shuttered its doors.

“I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.”―Obi-Wan Kenobi, sensing the destruction of Alderaa.

Classic Elite collapsing was a very big deal. But Knitting Union is now a pretty big deal too. They are hosting a knit-along on Ravelry that started June 15th and won’t end until September 15th if you want to join us. Pick any of their many patterns and just set to knitting and chatting.

Underhill was a fun, quick knit. That very lush spine of cable through the garter stitch background is the best! Here’s another look at Underhill. It’s been such a chilly spring that I’ve already been able to wear it.

And next check out Lalibela from Kino Knits. It’s a cute hat knit in the same Legend chartreuse colorway. It even somewhat echoes Underhill in its cable and garter stitch sections.

It’s apparently meant to be worn cables-forward, But with that little dip in the ribbing caused by the tug of the cables, I rather like letting the garter stitch sections frame the ears.

It even has a cool crown decrease:

Lalibela. I figured the hat’s name was yet another in a series of oddly named patterns. Live and learn. Lalibela is actually a town in the highlands of Ethiopia. It’s a heritage pilgrimage site, primarily for Ethiopian Orthodox Christians. Some of the churches date to the 12th century and many of them feature small arched stone windows that inspired the design of this hat.

So, from the sublime to the mundane. Dishcloths. “Yes, she still knits them but worsted weight cotton kills her hands now.” Both of these next cloths are knit in Knitpicks Dishie, a kitchen cotton that’s a tag less rustic and less hard on the hands than Sugar ‘n Creme, the dishcloth workhorse. This one is Louise Sarrzin’s Sunflower Basket Dishcloth.

Ok. So you don’t like to knit dishcloths and you think they are a waste of yarn and a bacteria haven. (Hint, zap the dishcloth in the microwave while it’s wet to kill any beasties.) But admit it. This basket of sunflowers will put a smile on your face and help you whistle while you work.

This next Dishie cloth, also knit in the Creme Brulee colorway, is Aimee Alexander’s Himalayan Salt.

It’s a very fast knit. And your dishcloth gets to pretend it’s sophisticated because of the simple lace pattern.

Bankhead is Susie Gourlay’s free hat pattern that’s been knit and posted on 6773 (and still counting) Ravelry project pages. You don’t get those kind of numbers without being one good hat. You can knit and wear it slouchy.

Or you can go more traditional and just cuff it.

The top is ruly. That’s not a word but it should be. Think of it as the opposite of unruly.

I knit Bankhead in leftover Paton’s Decor. It was leftover from a scarf I wanted to knit: Classic Elite’s Lavish Rib Cable Scarf.  I needed about 400 yards, 405.2 to be exact, of worsted weight and I was just off my yarn diet and didn’t want to splurge yet. The local yarn shop I went to was very low on stock, waiting for news of how much the new landlord would be raising rent. I liked the shade of navy (“rich country blue”) and figured Decor would work fine. It 25% wool, 75% acrylic and will be easy care.

This scarf is an older Classic Elilte pattern, available for download on Patternfish–until they folded on June 16, 2019. As with Underhill, it was that central cable that intrigued me enough to buy the pattern while Patternfish was doing its last gasp thing.

Obviously, this scarf’s knit lengthwise and that cable is manipulated across the middle row. The only modifications I made were to make it longer by casting on 328 stitches rather than 250. That increased stitch count worked for another Raveler, but my mileage varied. To keep the rib pattern going, I needed to decrease 4 stitches (instead of two) as the pattern changed to 2 by 2 rib to work the cable. So, in the section after the cable, I also increased 4 rather than 2. And I  decided I wanted to try to emphasize the cable row more, so I added 2 rows of 2 by 2 cable, both before and after the cable row.

I like this scarf pattern, a lot, including because of this nifty trick it can do.

About the yarn shop? She lives! Spruce Shadow Farms in Alpena!

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.

For your hands

This knit started back in 2014 when one of my knitworthy nieces traveled to Iceland. She had a great vacation and brought me back Léttlopii by Istex. The real Lopi. The Lopi skeins that have Icelandic labels. Spring Green and Black Heather:

Yes, I know that Reynolds Lite Lopi is essentially the same yarn. But these skeins had traveled far and they needed to be knit into something that honored their Icelandic roots. I wasn’t sure what I’d make of it. Mittens, I figured. But I couldn’t initially find a two-color pattern that I liked. And so the yarn made its way deeper into my stash. Then came my current stash down effort. I found Hlekkir by Hildur Ýr Ísberg and decided it was perfect for my Lopi. It’s a freebie on Ravelry. The pattern is available in Icelandic and in English. I chose the English version.

Nice “afterthought” thumbs blend perfectly into the patterning. Hlekkir is an Icelandic word that means “links on a chain.” That perfectly captures it!

My niece and I had an interesting long distance text session on the fit. I had a very difficult time explaining what measurements I needed. She sent me this to help out:

It didn’t help much. The distance from the base of the thumb to the top of the middle finger–in the normal world–is measured this way. But a diagonal measure doesn’t work in the knitting world. I had Steve trace my hand and then I measured his tracing. I thought the man was a bit too much of a detail guy, as he traced every gnarly bump. And he seems to have been a tad more adept on the thumb as compared with the rest of my digits. I assure you that I have all my fingers and that they’re approximately normal looking. But, from this sketch, my niece understood what I needed.

I got back the best reply possible. My niece told me our hand sizes are the same. “O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”

I thought about adapting Hlekkir’s chain link pattern to knit a hat. You’d think I’d have made enough hats to make that easy. But my design skills failed me and, instead, I made Bethany Hill’s Drips, another Ravelry freebie. So, meet Lopi Drips.

OK, I snuck in yet another hat. I wasn’t supposed to do that. But this is an extra-excellent hat. It’s meant to resemble the drips on the outside of a paint can. Think this:

Reimagined as this:

Very cool!

And, after that digression, back to stuff for hands. These are Aimee Alexander’s Farm to Market Mitts. Mine are knit in Plymouth Yarn’s DK Merino Superwash.

That interwoven cable is a big favorite of mine. This is the 5th pair I’ve knit!

I’ve been known to goof and get one of those twists wrong. But, in this pair, I didn’t fall asleep at the switch. This pair? This pair is finally one for me.

The next pair of mitts is Ann Budd’s In-A-Pinch Fingerless Mitts. Mine are knit in Lion Brand LB Collection Merino Yak Alpaca, an Aran weight. One ball, 126 yards/60 grams, was enough for the pair. Budd herself gave me that skein of yarn and the pattern at a knitting retreat last year. I weighed out the yarn, as Budd recommended, and separated the skein into two equal balls to knit the mitts. And it almost worked! I just had to shorten the mitts by a few rounds.

The mitt pattern has a few difficulties. I’ve added the clarifications that one Raveler says came right from the horse’s mouth/pen (Budd) to my Rav project page. That should help if you’re of a mind to give these a try.

These next mitts are Amanda Scheuzger’s Mt. Battie Mitts. Mine are knit in Stonehedge Fiber’s Shepherd’s Wool Worsted. I thought possibly the cabling would drive me batty, but the cable work was actually a lot of fun.

Did you notice that the twists reverse from one hand to the other? Nice touch. You only need two cable needles on one of the rounds. The palms of the mitt are knit plain. That works well. The only minor revision I’d make next time is I’d put the 15 thumb stitches on a waste yarn and come back later and knit taller thumbs (in the round). That’s because my thumbs would welcome a bit more coverage.

These fit well and will serve well.

Speaking of hands…

I found this sorting through my box of childhood sentimental stuff. This is my hand back in 1957. I was five. My kindergarten teacher was Mrs. Gale. I didn’t like her. Not one bit. I also didn’t like kindergarten. Less than not one bit. One day we were commanded to put our hand in–whatever this is, possibly Plaster of Paris. My mom kept my hand mold in her stash of sentimental stuff and eventually she gave it it to me. I recently photographed the mold and then pitched it. My mom didn’t know what to do with it, so she gave it to me. I decided I’d relieve the next generation of trying to figure out what to do with it. There’s a photo if I want to see it again.

I am satisfied with how my hands grew up. They know how to work. They know how to  play. And they learned how to knit. Good hands.

Cold weather scarves

I’m at it again. Posting about recent scarves I’ve completed when summer is still upon us. This one is an old favorite–Jared Flood’s free pattern, Noro Striped Scarf. It’s more a recipe than a pattern. Select two colorways of a color-changing yarn. Alternate colorways every 2 rows. Slip the first and the last stitch of the second of each set of rows, purlwise. And if you choose Noro Silk Garden, the conventional wisdom is that it’s very difficult to find two colorways that fail to play nice.

I had need of a totally mindless knit. This was definitely it! And the color changing Noro Silk Garden keeps the knitting from becoming tedious. I widened the scarf and cast on 45 stitches. Four skeins of Silk Garden and I ended up with just under 70 inches of scarf.

Such a pretty thing. I’ve been a bit obsessive about knitting this scarf. Here are others I’ve knit since my first one in 2011.

Hmm. As I said, obsessed. In fact, seeing them all again makes me feel like I’d like to cast on for a new one.

Here’s another repeat performer. Antonia’s Scarf, by Aimee Alexander. This is another Noro knit, this time in Yuzen.

Yuzen is a DK weight spun of 56% wool, 34% silk,10% mohair. Honestly, it’s not a yarn with much of a cozy feel. But the colors are rich. And it softened in a Eucalan bath.

I modified the pattern some by casting on 35 stitches. Three skeins of Yuzon is about 350 yards. My scarf ate up that yardage and ended up 7.5 inches wide and 64 inches long.

So far, it’s been all about color. “Now for something completely different…”

This is 100% alpaca. It is soft, light, and will be incredibly warm. It is Jake Canton’s Two-Tone Mistake Rib Scarf, a free pattern offered through Purl Soho. This scarf took me weeks to make. I knit fairly quickly and I knit for many hours every day. I started on New Year’s Eve and didn’t complete this until early April. For sure, I knit a lot of other projects while this scarf was on my needles. I had to. It was almost as boring as knitting Origami, another ribbing purgatory knit. I exacerbated the boredom by using a very light weight sport yarn. To widen the scarf a tad, I cast on 75 (instead of 67) stitches.

But it’s such a classic and will be so comfortable to wear, that the boredom was totally worth it. In fact, I’m petting it at this very minute and I’ve totally forgotten that it was a real slog to complete.

My yarn is YarnDreamer, which is alpaca from Christa Newhouse‘s Michigan flock. Her yarn is beautiful. Her Bois Blanc Insel Haus bed & breakfast is beautiful. And so is Christa.

April 16th? Snow Central (Ave)

This Dark-Eyed Junco looks as if he’s dipped in snow. That’s actually the color of his belly feathers. He’s sitting atop a snow mound on our deck table.

We’d just started to see some grass, once the 10-12 inches of snow that fell a week earlier melted away. Then, this. It’s hard to tell, because the drifts are so high, but we estimate we’ve got about 15 inches of new snow. And the drifts, the drifts are thigh-high on my 5 foot three inch self.

Here’s a look at the deck table without the Junco.

And I’m jumping the gun a bit on this post because predictions are for another 3-5 inches today. It’s been snowing all morning.

This has to go down as one-to-remember. “Up north” Michigan is thinking more about wrestling with snow than tax forms today. Snowmobiles are reporting they’re getting stuck. Some of this snow is the gooey, water-laden kind that sticks to shovels, snowblowers, and snowmobiles.

That’s Steve with a big two-stage snowblower, trying to tame the first wave. We ended up hauling out the little guy for me to work on the cement pad during the third effort to get this under control.

You might be wondering how our snow-fencing effort fared. Good news!  This year it didn’t fall over. It stood there all winter, deep into this difficult early spring. But it hasn’t really done anything to significantly keep the snow off the parking pad. It does add a nice splash of orange though, don’t you think?

We aren’t even thinking about ice-out yet. Last year the last bits of ice were sent packing on April 25th into the 26th. So we have about ten days to go. I don’t think we’ll make it. At this rate we’ll still have snow on Memorial Day!

That’s the lake on the morning of April 16th. It’s been windy enough that the sunflower seeds that are whipping the finch flock into a feeding frenzy at our feeders have scattered around. Those finches who can’t command a perch at the feeders are picking at the snow crust searching for food. Every once in awhile the flock spooks and vanishes for half a minute or so, giving the chickadees, nuthatches, juncos, woodpeckers, and tufted titmice time to feed.

We’re worried about the trees on the property. We’ve been losing branches from some of the tall pines. So far, nothing has landed on the house. And nothing so major has fallen that we think the trees won’t pull through. But spring cleanup is going to be a major event. That’s assuming spring is eventually going to put in an appearance.

Here’s me, in my snow-covered Central Ave hat by Aimee Alexander. “Cheese.” We’d gone out for a second time to knock snow off the low-lying pine branches. Such a great hat. Knit in Swans Island Merino Worsted in the bittersweet colorway, it even matches the snow fence. I strive to be color-coordinated at all times.