Same Encore, different stuff

It’s back. If you’re a regular reader and you’re surprised, I am too. I thought I was done with “same yarn different stuff” posts. Turns out I was wrong.

I bought four skeins of Plymouth Yarns worsted weight Encore in Winter White and four skeins in Lagoon for a baby blanket I planned to knit. I thought I’d have one extra skein but I hadn’t yet decided which color would be my main color and which would be the contrast. Turns out I that after knitting the blanket I had enough left over for 2 accessory knits. So I thought I’d return to my past “theme” and write about how my Encore worked out in three different knits.

The hat is a fairly new pattern from Shelby Nichols, the Sava Springs Cap. That pair of mittens tucked around Glass Head’s neck is Sophie McKane’s Coin Slot Mittens. And the star of the show, that slip stitch/mosaic baby blanket, is Amy Marie Vold’s Sleeping Under the Stars.

Here’s a view of the entire blanket. I rate it a spectacular design for a wee one.

I knit the stars in the contrast-color (white) and the background in the main-color (teal). My blanket is 33.5 wide and 35.5 long (so almost square). Encore kept those dimensions even after machine washing (on delicate) and machine drying (on a low temperature). As I knit the blanket I was concerned that the mosaic stitch was creating too firm a fabric. I was knitting basically at gauge on US size 8 needles and I was concerned that if I moved up to a size 9 I’d run out of yarn. I want the blanket to nestle nicely around the new babe and not just sit atop him like a stiff paper bag. So I was concerned about the firmness of the fabric. But Encore saved the day, relaxed nicely into the stitch, and softened in the washer and dryer. I’m completely satisfied.

I took the designer’s advice and used the Chinese Waitress Cast-on with a matching Double Chain Cast-off. If you haven’t tried these techniques yet, consider taking them for a test drive. Admittedly the cast-on is a little fiddly at first. But you’ll pick up speed in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. The cast-off is super easy. The result is that your knitting will begin and end with a neatly chained row of stitches. Quite spiffy.

With some of the remaining Encore I decided to knit the Coin Slot Mittens. While shopping at Country Needleworks recently I made myself comfortable and browsed through their crates of discounted patterns. This one commanded my attention and my frugal bone. 99 cents for what looked like an excellent pattern.

I wasn’t wrong. The fair isle in this mitten is easy and well planned. The directions are error-free. And I was super pleased to see that the charts were super-sized so I wouldn’t need to test my computer skills to try to enlarge them. My new personal wimpy-knitter whine is charted patterns so small you need magnifying glasses to read them.

The coin-slot top pattern integrates well with the palm and thumb patterns. I followed the instructions exactly and it worked out perfectly. The mittens did need an extra amount of sewing repair at the base of the thumb though. The pattern calls for placing the thumb gusset stitches on a holder and then casting on a bunch of stitches using the backward loop method. Next time I knit these I’ll likely substitute an afterthought thumb.

The mittens needed a good soak to relax the stitches and let the coin slots emerge. Next time I will try to be more aware that I need to loosen my tensioning over the slot section.

After knitting the mittens I had an entire skein of white left and a tad more than a half-skein of teal. I had the Sava Springs Cap in my queue and decided it would be a good fit for the yarn.

I wasn’t wrong. This beefy worsted, sometimes identified as an Aran weight, worked out well.

The pattern provides alternatives for the cuff. You can work a short section of ribbing, a traditional longer folded rib cuff, or a doubled cuff. I decided the doubled cuff would be totally cozy. I started with a crochet provisional cast-on. Be sure to follow the pattern directions and knit (no purls) one round after the cast-on or you’ll have a royal mess to untangle when you try to unravel the cast-on. After knitting the proper length of cuff you unravel the cast-on and place those stitches on a circular needle. Tucking that extra needle of stitches inside the cuff creates the folded cuff. Then continue with your working needle, knitting one stitch from the working needle with one stitch from the needle containing the stitches that emerged once you unravelled the cast-on. Once you complete the round you’ll have a permanently folded cuff.

The crown decreases create an attractive well-behaved top. If you gift the non-pompomed hat to a kid you can look down at their head and congratulate yourself. They won’t look like their head comes to a point.

I decided a colorful pompom would work well with this hat. I use a Clover pompom maker to make my pompoms. The not-so-secret to using that tool to achieve a very full pompom is to stuff it so full of wound yarn that it will barely close.

I abhor wobbly pompoms so I sew them on very firmly, going back and forth through the core of the pompom 2-3 times. That makes them very difficult to remove when washing the hat though. And pompoms do not weather machine washing very well. So pick your poison I guess. A wobbling pompom or one that matts somewhat after washing. Sewing a snap onto the bottom of the pompom and the top of the hat can work. But my sewing skills aren’t quite up to the task.

I’m so pleased with how my Sleeping With The Stars worked out that I thought I’d give you another look.

Happy Halloween

My grandchildren have collected quite a few in-house nicknames for themselves. One of the sweet ones for my granddaughter is a fairly common one: Pumpkin. Maybe it derives from a toddler-era pumpkin Halloween costume that once came down to her to ankles. Many years later it’s still occasionally worn when only a silly shirt will do.

As relayed through her mom, my granddaughter wondered if I could knit her a pumpkin. Can do. Currently there are 30 knitted pumpkin patterns on Ravelry. Sixteen of them are free. I decided to knit the free pumpkin pattern with the most projects: 01-1170 The Patch. It’s, drum roll please, a DROPS pattern.

I’ve never knit a DROPS pattern. I’ve heard, and seen myself, that they are–let’s see–they are…succinct. Many of them are super interesting and thousands of them are free.

This pattern was very accessible, though personally I’ve never seen charted-out, knit-flat, short rows. Once you get the hang of the chart and the rhythm of the turning, it’s not a problem. In case you want to give this pumpkin a try, on Row 3, the row with the gobs of yarn-overs, you need 16 yarn-overs. So I interpreted the chart as directing a knitter to knit the first two stitches. And when the directions said to “twist” the yarn-over on the row following, I knit into the back of the yarn-over.

On the stem, once I got down to 6 stitches, knitting all the stitches “from the right side” wasn’t clicking with me until I realized I was supposed to knit an attached I-cord.  I switched to double-pointed needles and worked a 6-stitch I-Cord.

I used Knit Picks Dishie for my pumpkin. It’s a fun pattern, with almost no stitching up. It would make quite a Halloween centerpiece. I believe mine’s being used as an indoor football though.

Next up, a new shawl that reminds me of Halloween including because of the colors I chose: Lisa Mutch’s Coax.

Beyond the colors, my version has a bit of a bat-vibe going. Maybe even a spidey-web feel.

This was an easy soothing knit. I used Classic Elite Yuri. Yuri was discontinued even before Classic Elite died. And, for some reason, the 4 skeins I bought and knit into multiple projects before this one just refused to be used up. Coax about did it though.

Yuri must be a lighter weight fingering than the fingering weight Mutch used. I wasn’t able to get gauge. I decided to knit my shawl on the largest needles that produced a decent fabric. That turned out to be a size 7 US. I used 100 yards less than what the pattern called for. And still my shawl has a 59-inch wingspan measured across the top edge and it’s 27 inches deep. That’s after a fairly aggressive blocking. The pattern calls for a shawl that’s 66 inches in wingspan and 32 inches deep. I’m completely satisfied.

This will only make sense if you decide to knit Coax, but in section seven I changed to Color B for the first set of rows 3 and 4 even though the pattern doesn’t say to do that. I looked at the pattern photos closely and don’t see a divider of 4 rows of Color A at that point.

Now, what you’ve been waiting for: more dishcloths!

“Creepy, crawly, creepy, crawly, creepy creepy…”. This is Amy Marie Vold’s Along Came a Spider. Just the thing to send along to your local arachnophobe who’s decided they want to try exposure therapy. I shouldn’t joke. It’s a real thing afflicting 3-15% of the population and is more likely to occur in women than in men.

I knit my pair of spideys in Knit Picks Dishie, using the Conch and Mulberry colors.

I hope your Trick or Treaters, or in my rural area your Trunk or Treaters, come in droves this year. And I also hope that you haven’t had to make a special trip to the ATM to fund the kids’ treats in this inflationary year.

Humble house stuff

If you visit this blog more often than every few months chances are you’ll see that I frequently knit dishcloths. Yep. I like to knit one of the most often poke-funable knits out there: dishcloths. Maybe second only to toilet paper roll covers. But those are more often crocheted. For me dishcloths are a ton ‘o fun. Quick gratification. And I have people around me who love to receive these things. Plus we use them a lot in our kitchen.

You’re probably wondering about these humble houses. They’re a new pattern from Amy Marie Vold: Cape Cottage. This slip-stitch (mosaic) pattern is available as one pattern download. But it’s also included as one of the six patterns in her New England Village ebook.

I knit my Cape Cods in Knit Picks Dishie. Dishie isn’t as rustic a yarn as Lily’s Sugar ‘n Cream, the dishcloth yarn that’s many knitters’ first choice. But I like its slightly more refined appearance.

And, just for the fun of it, I often knit these mosaic cloths in pairs, switching out the main and contrasting color.

Speaking of colors, I like to keep a good supply of Dishie colors in my stash.

I can admittedly go a tad overboard. I buy only the Dishie sales and make my yarn bucks stretch. It’s good stuff put up in 100 gram balls.

This Jalepeno/Creme Brulee Dishie creation is another in Vold’s New England Village Ebook: Cozy Saltbox. It’s a quick fun knit and you end up with something useful.

What New England village would be complete without an Old School?

Now, for a spelling rant. I know that extra e’s are often used for…for…for some reason. The name of this pattern is actually “Olde” with a superfluous Middle English “e.” I think it’s supposed to flag something that’s quaint. Comfortably old-fashioned as in Ye Olde Cheese Shoppe. It mostly makes my inner editor curdle though.

Olde School Dishcloth is a wonderful, rhythmic knit. I used Queensland Collection’s Coastal Cotton. My sense of it is it’s a tad beefier than Dishie but a tad less rustic as compared to Sugar ‘n Cream.

I’ve stocked a nice selection of Coastal Cotton too.

Here’s another fun set, knit in Coastal Cotton:

I can’t resist calling this pair my Knittany Lions because their muzzles make them look like a Nittany Lion. Yes, the Penn State team mascot. But also the mountain lion that apparently once lived on Pennsylvania’s Mount Nittany. Anyway, the pattern’s name is Tame the Dishes. That works.

Next up is a set of dishcloths, freebies, designed by Joan Janes. I knit her trio of cloths, Three Dishcloths, in Coastal Cotton.

Janes designed the patterns to use only one skein of Sugar ‘n Cream. I prefer less dainty sized cloths than a 30-stitch cast-on will produce, as in the Waffle pattern in the foreground. That pattern works with any multiple of 4, plus 2. So I cast on 42 and ended up with about a 7 inch square, using only 24 grams of yarn. The Garter Basketweave pattern in the middle works with a multiple of 4, plus 3. I cast on 43 and ended up with a cloth about 7.5 inches square. That one took 32 grams of yarn. The Ridge & Rib pattern in the back works with an odd number of stitches. I cast on 37 and 26 grams left me with a square of about 7 inches.

Sometimes a dishcloth knitter wants a basically mindless pattern. Janes’s trio of cloths is great for such times.

Louise Sarazzin’s Sunflower Basket is not challenging but it’s also not mindless. Goldilocks might say it’s “just right.”

That’s Dishie on the left in Creme Brulee and Coastal Cotton on the right in Goldenrod.

Until working this pattern I’d never worked the vertical wrap stitch that appears throughout the flower basket. It’s easy. On a wrong-side row you work a yarn over, slip one stitch purlwise with yarn in the back, knit one across the length of the basket. You’re creating an extra stitch with each yarn over. Then, in the next row, once you get to the basket, you knit 2 together through the back loops to return to the proper stitch count. Easy peasy.

If you’re bobble allergic this cloth could be the cure because there are quite a few bobbles. Rx: Knit 30 teeny 3-row bobbles and get plenty of rest.

Dish towels

These are not dishcloths. These are… dishtowels so stop your tsk tsking.  More uses for kitchen cotton. More uses for slip stitch/mosaic knitting. More patterns by Amy Marie Vold.

This is Cannery Rows. It’s part of Vold’s Pickling, Canning, Preserving e-book or can be purchased separately. I knit mine in Paintbox Yarns Cotton Aran. My sense is that Cotton Aran is an almost middle ground between Lily’s Sugar ‘n Creme’s rustic feel and the more refined KnitPicks Dishie. But Dishcloth cotton all.

My younger brother and one of his daughters requested these. Here’s the these.

And a closer look at the big-red-jar one:

Great pattern.

Some of my kin have sworn off automatic dishwashers. Well, maybe one of us doesn’t have one. And the other prefers not to use theirs. All those tussels as kids about who was going to wash and who was going to dry, and now this. Life is long. Truth be told, the absorbency of kitchen cotton–even after multiple trips through the washer and the dryer–isn’t the best for drying dishes. So my family doesn’t actually use these as dishtowels. These heavy cloths make excellent (and stylish) landing pads for freshly washed draining/drying dishes.

There’s another of my Cannery Rows to check out here, late in my post on red knits.

These next two DK weight towels are an experiment. I’d never knit in hemp or in flax and I wanted to give both a try.

This is Vold’s Tumbling Blocks Cowl. It’s available separately or as part of a Cleaning Blocks e-book. I knit my Tumbling Blocks in Elsebeth Lavold’s Hempathy. Hempathy is 41% cotton, 34% hemp, 25% rayon.

Here’s how it looked just off the needles, before I tossed it in the washer and then threw it in the dryer:

Nice. A little floppy feeling. 12 inches wide by 17 inches long, worked exactly the number of repeats the pattern called for. I was satisfied with the blocks but was underwhelmed by Hempathy. It was easy to knit with. But it seemed too loosey goosey. And that reminds me of the unfortunate news that very untidy Canada Geese pairs are, even as I write this, stomping around on the lake ice demanding spring.

Before I frolic off to plan my goose defenses, here’s a look at my Tumbling Blocks after washing and drying.

It bloomed! And the feel of the fabric is wonderful. Not floppy. Not scratchy. The final dimensions of the towel are 11 inches by 15 inches. So washing and drying caused the yarn to pull in 1 inch in width and 2 in length. I knew something would happen. But still this surprised me. Not only did the dimensions change, the block pattern crisped up.

Next up, same pattern different yarn. This is FibraNatura DK Flax. The ball band said “100% linen/flax.” Flax is the name of the plant and linen is the name of the fabric produced by the plant, so says this informative Noble Knits article. As compared to my Hempathy version, this Tumbling Blocks was a disappointment just off the needles.

The pattern was indistinct. The fabric was more floppy and undisciplined as compared to Hempathy. Unwashed and undried the towel was 13 inches by 16 inches.

But check out the “after” photo:

The fabric bloomed in a way that really made the blocks pop. The final dimensions of the towel are 12 inches by 18 inches.

FibraNatura Flax was quite different from working with Hempathy. Even less yielding. A little harder on the hands. As I knit, some fluff was fluffing off and I found myself sneezing sometimes. It had looked pretty sad coming of the washing machine and I was impatient to see what was happening. So I checked on the towel after about 5 minutes of drying. Shed fiber filled the lint collector. I emptied the collector three times before the drying was complete.

I was happy that I thought to wash and dry the towel only with blue jeans. Mark this down as a most prodigious shedder. I’m thinking that will calm down a lot with subsequent washing and drying. I hope so. Otherwise one day I’ll put it in the dryer and it will have disappeared like the Cheshire Cat.

‘All right,’ said the Cat; and this time it vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone. Alice In Wonderland.

Dishcloth doubles

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all who observe it participate in it or whatever is the right verb for the day’s events.

Some knitters are obsessed with very talented mostly garment designers like Isabell Kraemer or Andrea Mowry. They dutifully “Find [Their] Fades.” Then they “Free [Their] Fades.” They “Don’t Ask” and then they “Don’t Ask Again.” I knit my share of shawls and even the occasional sweater. I knit garments and accessories by both these designers, who I admire. But I knit more of Vold’s designs than anyone else. Slip stitch/mosaic dishcloths and I are a thing.

I know. All together now: “More dishcloths? How many dishes does this knitter wash?” It will come as no surprise that I don’t use all the dishcloths I knit. Most are gifted. All the cloths in this post are patterns by Amy Marie Vold. This first one is Cloverleaf Cloth knit in Knitpicks Dishie.

Next up is Shore Lunch Cloth. I’ve dubbed it my Fishcloth.

This set is knit in Paintbox Cotton Aran. I really enjoy seeing how these work out when I knit a pair reversing the main color and the contrast color.

Here’s Squirrel Away the Dishes. Knitpicks Dishie looks great in this set. I used the linen and coffee colorways.

One of my brothers is a big fan of my dishcloths. I decided to knit him, well, a bunch. And I aimed to cover all the seasons and holidays. Here’s part of his summer set. Though, actually, ice cream and I are a season all year long. This is How Many Scoops. Seventy grams, two cloths. Again, Dishie.

The next Dishie knit is from the Flock of Sheep eBook Vold recently released. It’s Washstand Sheep. This time I departed from simply flipping the colors. I’d started with the white sheep in the green field. Then I realized that green sheep standing on a cloud would look a little too weird even for me. So, instead, I made the sheep brown.

Next up is an early Vold pattern calling for DK weight. I used Paintbox Cotton DK. It’s Dishscraper that Never Sleeps. This one’s especially fun to knit. If you’re wondering that some of my cloths, including this one, have rather wavy edges and sides, that’s because I don’t steam my cloths before photographing (or gifting) them. I try to never lose sight of the fact that these are dishcloths. Dishcloths. Humble dishcloths. They will lead a hard life and they might as well get used to it right off the bat and not try to rise above their station.

I feel like reversing the colors in Dishscraper is especially sweet–depicting the daytime and nighttime skyline.

Covering all the holiday bases, I needed to include some wintry scenes. The first of these last two Dishie sets is Fir Sprucing Up, followed by  Chameleon Snowflake Poinsettia.


I know that some knitters think knitting dishcloths is, well, a silly waste of time. I think it’s a wonderfully useful diversion.