More for your neck

This pretty is Betangled Cowl by Jennifer Weissman. It’s designed for an Aran weight yarn. But I decided to knit it in Stonehedge Fiber Shepherd’s wool, a worsted. It was mid-December during a dreary stretch of days. I succumbed to the lemon yellow colorway. And that luxurious 24-stitch cable. Yep. 24-stitch. I was finally able to use a gigantic j-hook cable needle that I’ve never used before to hold those 12 stitches.

I obviously knew that I was under gauge. This wool, in these stitches, wasn’t happy until I moved down to a size 8 (and 7) US-sized needle. Since it was going to be lemon yellow come hell or high water, I decided I’d accept a narrower version and just add some pattern repeats. My gauge was 20 stitches to 4 inches (not the 17 the pattern calls for) and 34 rows to 4 inches (not 26).  I knit the medium size and ended up knitting 10 pattern repeats (rather than the 8 that the pattern called for). Mine is 9.5 inches tall and 36.5 inches edge-to-edge.

I like this one. A lot. The pattern is available for purchase here on Ravelry.

I thought I’d sworn off buttoned cowls. Generally, even lightweight buttons add more weight to a cowl than I prefer. And then the cowl sags along the button-band line. But Betangled bewitched me. If I make this again, I believe I’ll do a provisional cast-on, ditch the buttons, and graft the ends together. I’m not sure how I’d manage the ribbing sections though.

This looks and wears much better on my glass head than it does on me. It seems to take more precise wearing skills than I possess. But I’ve been advised “Just put it on and ignore it because it’s beautiful.”

I sewed a button on both sides of the top buttonhole so that when the cowl flips forward, there will be a button.

This is Ann Budd’s Crimson Leaves Cowl. Mine is knit in Sun Valley Farms MCN fingering weight. The yarn is a great mix of 80% merino, 10% cashmere goat, and 10% nylon,

This cowl was a lot of work. 252 stitches and size 2 US needles. There are no resting rows in the 4-round, 18-stitch repeat lace pattern. But the pattern is not complicated. To the awake and alert, anyway. I am not a skilled lace knitter and I was able to manage it without lifelines, just using stitch markers to frame the pattern repeats.

I’ve not knit many fingering weight cowls. Glass head is able to keep it from flopping over at the neck and showing its reverse side. I’m not so successful with that because, well, because I move. Despite it’s floppiness I like this cowl and have already gotten a good deal of wear out of it.

I used Elizabeth Zimmerman’s sewn bind-off, as the pattern suggests. It’s very elastic, which assures that the bind-off won’t bind. And it does leave the fabric somewhat wavy. But it’s not much of an echo of the waviness of the cast-on edge. Sort of the nature of the beast, I guess. This cowl needed a rather stern wet block to open up the pattern. I wasn’t successful, though, in matching the bind-off edge to the handsome cast-on edge.

This next pattern is Martina Behm’s great freebie, Wolkig. It’s another fingering-weight cowl. But this one-row pattern (that’s not a misprint) is incredibly easy to knit.

Behm explains: “The Wolkig cowl is twisted and has extra volume due to strategically worked decreases and increases, so it can be stretched a little to fit comfortably over your head when putting it on. Stretched in the other direction (lengthwise), it will fit snugly around your neck without leaving any gaps where the cold wind might sneak in.” Here’s a look at it off-neck.

Wolkig, which means “cloud” in German, is even interesting on its non-public side, as this next photo shows. That’s especially true worked in a variegated yarn like my Zauberball by Schoppel-Wolle. Zauberball is a sportweight, though maybe a lightweight sportweight. It still worked out well.

This is my fourth Wolkig. You might want to check out the rest. I measure the success of this pattern partly by the fact that every Wolkig I’ve knit is sprucing up somebody else’s neck. My knitworthy folks like this pattern a lot. I really should knit one for me.

Steve’s Tyrolean socks

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Here, with apologies, is the somewhat-too-long story of this pair of socks. They are Ann Budd’s “Basic Sock Pattern” from her “The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns: Basic Designs in Multiple Sizes and Gauges.” It is an entire book of no nonsense patterns with absolutely no goofy names. Basic Sock is an excellent pattern and it fits Steve’s boxy foot exceptionally well.

This yarn is Opal Antonia aus Tirol, by Zweger Garn. It’s a discontinued yarn. It was inspired by a Tyrolean pop singer by the name of Antonia. Here’s one of her YouTube videos. I think she must be the one in the sort of hula-inspired skirt.

Um. It’s hard to know quite what to say about that. It’s been on YouTube for a year and half and it’s had 13 views. Actually, I was the 14th. Antonia is a knitter. And Zweger Garn named a line of sock yarns after her. I found the yarn marked way down when Sweet Peas closed in St. Clair, Michigan. I think the self-striping didn’t quite work out as intended. Those green globby sections don’t look quite right.

Steve really likes hand knit socks. Mostly he wears them in winter around the house.

So, the story of these socks. The yarn, which is 75% wool/25% nylon, is skeined with 465 yards. That should be enough even for a man’s pair of socks. But after approaching the heel on the first one, I convinced myself there was no way I would have enough yarn. So I took my heavily discounted yarn and partly finished sock to a local yarn shop, intent on adding another color to the heels and toes. Easy. Right? I couldn’t find a good match and ended up buying this pricy skein of Spud and Chloe fingering weight.

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You may have noticed something. But you probably figured that it it didn’t “go” well with my Tyrolean pop singer colorway because there’s something off about your monitor. Your monitor tells no lie. It looked terrible.

I used to make a lot of socks, but I haven’t made any recently. Apparently I’ve lost some sock IQ points, because I forgot where the color change should go for the heel. I did the heel in the main colorway. So I decided I’d just put a color block in the foot part of the sock. Exquisitely bad idea. And then I returned to Antonia for the toe. Another bad idea.

I finished the sock and then stared at it for weeks. And I stared at my remaining Antonia and decided I might have enough yarn of that colorway after all.

So, I eventually knit the second sock entirely in Antonia. Then I frogged the first sock back to where Spud and Chloe made their appearance. And, just to make it special, before I was done I managed to convince myself that I really was going to run out of yarn after all. But, no, I’d weighed the yarn correctly. I had a very small amount of yarn left. Just enough for darning if it’s ever needed. But, actually, I don’t do darn. Darn and I don’t play well together.

In the end, this is a nice basic pair of socks that fits Steve’s feet just the way hand-knit socks should: perfectly, with no irritating seams.

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Cold feet fixes

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Michigan, like the rest of the Midwest, has been trapped in the polar vortex for weeks. When it hasn’t been below zero it’s been snowing like crazy. We’re bracing for something like 8 inches of snow tonight. So, it’s been a good winter for warming up cold feet. But you can only stay by the fireside for so long and then you have to venture under the chilly bedsheets. These are a modification of Jo Sharp’s “Bed Socks” from the Vogue Knitting On the Go series.

The pattern calls for a DK weight, but I wanted something beefier. These are knit from Plymouth Yarns Encore, a workhorse, easy-care, 75% acrylic/25% wool mix. I decided that laces would be superfluous and just knit them a tad long. They stay put nicely. The plan wasn’t to have them be mismatched, but this pair was a real yarn-eater and I was running out of the green. These are knit flat and seamed. Being seriously crochet-impaired, I seamed by picking up the stitches on both sides and then doing a 3-needle bind off. I thought the resulting raised ridge would resemble a crocheted chain. Resemble is the key word there. Not an elegant solution, as the seamed side shows. But great for keeping feet nice and cozy.

bedsocksThis next lovely is Ann Budd’s “First Time Tube Socks,” a pattern from Interweave Knits Holiday 2009 magazine. I should apologize to Ann and her fine pattern for my choice of yarn. But every yarn, on sale or not, deserves being knit up into into something or other. This is my “on sale” Berrocco Comfort something or other. These tube socks are very comfortable in bed. But they are also very ugly.

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Worked up in a nice calm brown, these would have been comforting to the eyes as well as to the feet. Let’s just say no more and change the subject.

Yuko Nakamura’s “Non-Felted Slippers” have been in my queue for more than two years. I hesitated to knit them because I was unsure if slippers knit on two needles in a bulky weight yarn would work out well. Plenty of Ravelers have modified the pattern to work in the round, but I decided not to monkey with it. I just trusted the thousands who have knit this free pattern “as is.” The pattern doesn’t disappoint.

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I honored the length of time the pattern spent in my queue by knitting it up in some of the oldest yarn in my stash, Aberdare Yarn’s 100% two-ply bulky mohair. I purchased it about 20 years ago, intending it for doll hair that never got knit. The yarn was spun in Kenya.

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Lovely fuzzy yarn, but difficult to find a proper project for it. I think these slipper socks put this special yarn to good use.

I decided to try the pattern again, in a worsted weight, with an added cuff. When friends, even kids, come over and take their wintry boots off at the door, I’d like to have an assortment of slippers for them to wear if they want to. These were knit in a beefy worsted weight yarn, Blackberry Ridge Color Flow, from one of the browner sections of the Autumn colorway. For the cuff, I just continued to knit instead of bind off, decreasing one stitch, and working a knit 2, purl 2 ribbing for 25 rows.

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Encouraged by the results, and pleased to be using up so many oddments, I worked up one more pair. This time I used a partial skein of Old Sage Brown Sheep Bulky for the soles and leftover Berroco Vintage Chunky in Breezeway for the cuffs.

Blue_slippersI’m looking forward to tackling next winter’s cold with a basket of comfy slipper socks kept by the door.