Even more doubles

I’m in some sort of belated Groundhog Day loop. And I didn’t even like that movie. Because I’m still having a good time knitting stuff more than once. This nifty cowl is Elizabeth Smith’s Soundtrack Cowl. I knit this first one in Malabrigo Rios and used the Frank Ochre (the gold) and Tormenta (the gray) colorways. 160 yards (76 grams) of each color completed the cowl. It’s been one of my go-to accessories this winter. The Rios is next-to-the-neck soft superwash merino. The easy slip stitch pattern worked out perfectly.

To make the cowl a bit wider in circumference, I cast on 136 instead of the 116 stitches the pattern called for. Unblocked the cowl was 12.75 tall by 26.5 inches in circumference. Steam-blocked gently, my cowl is 13″ tall and 28″ in circumference.

Here’s the designer’s Soundtrack Tips page, including how to carry the non-dominant color over the stockinette section without having it show through at the round change. See 6:25-8:50 into the video for that tidbit. Essentially, Smith recommends gently twisting the yarns only after round 4 of the pattern. That worked well.

Next I tried the Soundtrack Cowl in Plymouth Yarns Worsted Merino Superwash, in Cream and Caraway Heather. It used exactly the same amount of yarn as my first Soundtrack. I handled the finished cowl exactly the same, a light steaming. But the yarn didn’t relax into the pattern to the same extent as the Rios did. I like this version, quite a bit actually. But I’m not as satisfied that the yarn was best for the pattern. The single slipped stitches, especially in the creamy top section, seem a tad too dominant. The Plymouth yarn has great stitch definition, maybe a bit too great? It’s a nicely rounded bouncy yarn. It doesn’t want to chill out to the same extent as Rios.

Here’s a look at how nicely Soundtrack sits at the neck. And as a bonus you can choose what colorway you want to have next to your face.

Next comes a blog mainstay: Chris Basta’s great freebie pattern Better Dorm Books for Men. I’d link to all my various versions of these, but we’d all find that tedious. I make a few easy modifications. Instead of knitting with two strands of worsted weight, I use a bulky weight. And I lengthen the cuff so it can be folded over.

This pair is knit in King Cole Chunky Tweed in the Orkney colorway. They’re knit flat, on US size 10 needles, and can be completed before the fourth episode of The Great British Baking Show names the Star Baker. Truly a pattern to be trusted. When binding off at the cuff, I use a size 11 and a very relaxed grip. That’s because cutting off circulation at the ankles isn’t a good plan for feet.

As slippers, the soles aren’t grippy enough unless you apply some of that plastic goop or make another plan for safety on hard surfaces. But as bed socks they are the best! They kick off easily once feet warm. But they stay in place even for restless sleepers.

Here’s the same pattern in Plymouth Yarn Encore Chunky. I especially like this Garnet Mix colorway.

Better Dorm Boots for Men work equally well for women’s feet, of course. But if you’re looking for a more decorative cuff try Basta’s Better Dorm Boots Deluxe. Again, I use a bulky or chunky weight instead of doubling worsted. Why? To me, the resulting socks are more cozy and less stiff feeling. Plus, I’ve never really taken to doubling yarn and yardage if I can manage the pattern with one strand.

This first “deluxe” pair is knit in King Cole Shadow Chunky, in Black Currant.

If you’ve wondered what these dorm boots look like before being stitched up, here’s a look. You’re seeing the reverse side of the cuff. Be sure to shift the right side to the wrong side as you work the cuff so the lacy detail will end up on the public/right side of the slipper.

And here’s Better Dorm Boots Deluxe worked in strong solid shade (Burgundy) of Plymouth Yarn Encore Chunky. When I knit the largest size, on size 10 US needles, the bedsocks easily fit a woman’s foot from size 8-10. And they’d easily stretch to fit larger feet.

This is the first time I’ve knit the XL largest size. I’m pretty sure that there’s an error on the XL directions at row 54. Row 51 confirms there should be 34 stitches after the one-stitch decrease in that row. No other stitch count change comes in for the XL size until Row 54. There are 4 YO’s on Row 54, and the stitch count is said to be 37 after that row. Obviously 34 plus 4 is 38. You need 37 stitches to make the lacework on the cuff work out correctly. So on row 54 for the XL size I made 3 YOs instead of 4. That worked.

It’s getting to be a bit of long, cold, windy winter “up north” in Michigan. This pair of Rachel Borello Carrol’s Little Kindness Monsters brought some February sunshine. I knit my set in Novita 7 Veljesta Solids. Please forgive that I don’t know how to type the two-dot umlaut in the yarn name that belongs above the “a” and my hopeless provincialism.

This freebie is totally cute just as the designer wrote the pattern. But I decided to shorten the hats some, knitting 12 rounds of ribbing instead of what the pattern called for. And I knit one round in between each of the k2 together rounds in the crown decreases. On round 15 of the head, I knit 8 stitches and then “planted” a purl stitch on either side of those 8 to mark where I’d attach the safety eyes. I added a nose because I thought it would help distract some from the still wide-set eyes.

The designer suggests we duplicate stitch a heart on the monster’s left side, below the mouth. They are super cute that way. But I stink at duplicate stitch. My monsters are heartless. But my granddaughter loves them!

Putting leftovers to use

This is Aimee Alexander’s Kicking Horse cowl, knit in DK-weight Malabrigo Silky Merino. Excellent yarn. Excellent pattern. The pattern is easy to work and clearly written. Just be careful not to forget a yarn over in the mesh sections. And be sure to not add a yarn over at the end of the right-leaning mesh section. ‘Cuz if you do that the diagonal leaning mesh gets scrambled and you’re toast. You probably already guessed how I know that.

I made the largest circumference cowl. Blocked it’s 9 inches by 52 inches. I soaked it, blotted out the excess water in a towel, and then dried it flat without pinning it.

Our beloved Malabrigo, with its frequent color differences between skeins, can bedevil us knitters. The gnashing of teeth here resulted from shopping online, though truthfully it often simply can’t be prevented. Here’s what arrived from Lovecrafts.

It was immediately obvious, upon unpacking my yarn, that one skein had much more blue in it than the other two.

Kicking Horse didn’t need much yardage from a third skein. And like Gaul (which would have been a better name for this cowl) it’s divided into three parts. Once I realized that I didn’t need much of the 3rd skein, I figured that the solution was to knit the center left-leaning mesh section (only) in the more-blue skein. That worked nicely.

Sometimes I work hard to figure out what’s to be done with leftover yarn from a project. I work even harder if the yarn is something I especially like. Malabrigo Silky Merino qualifies on that score. Sue Brady’s freebie pattern, Basic Fingerless Mitts, was perfect for my leftover Silky Merino. These mitts took just under 90 yards, even with a few modifications that increased the yardage.

I worked 8 extra rounds before starting the thumb gusset. I also lengthened the mitt beyond the gusset stitches by 4 rounds. And I decided to pick up 4 rather than 2 stitches for the thumb to better close the gap. Plus I lengthened the thumb by 2 rounds. It’s a great fit, both for my hands and the yarn.

Next up is yet another pair of Kris Basta’s excellent freebie slippers Better Dorm Boots for Men. This is the 6th pair I’ve knit in the last few years. Of course there’s nothing that says these need to be for men, though it’s true that Steve’s feet already claimed this pair. I always make two modifications. I knit them in chunky or bulky yarn, rather than worsted weight doubled. This time I used King Cole Shadow Chunky. And I add a generous cuff.

I had two skeins. The slippers used only 1.3 of the 166 yard skeins. What to do with the rest was a bit of a challenge. The new Ravelry freebie by Svart Lamb, Little Fisherman’s Beanie, worked out well. I didn’t want to knit this hat with 3 strands of yarn as the pattern calls for– fingering plus fingering plus Aran–so I simply used a chunky weight. The hat is knit on only 60 stitches. Even though it’s mostly all rib and very stretchy, my modification means that it will have to be a little fisherman who wears this. It’s basically an adult small which, in my experience means that kids can wear it just fine.

When I joined the caston round with the working round to create that distinctive edge ridge, I goofed.  I missed the import of the designer’s instructions at the join stage to “fold these 8 rows so purl stitches would stay inside.” I didn’t have any purl stitches, just ribbing, so I didn’t understand that. What I did to create the error, which would have ended up with the ragged side facing outward when the cuff was folded, is I joined a stitch from the live stitches with the caston edge by reaching inside to pick up the stitch-to-be-joined. That put the smoother edge on the outside of the tube–which isn’t where you want it. What I should have done was folded the work so that the caston edge was on the outside of the tube, picked up a caston stitch first, and then joined those stitches to the working stitches. To fix my mistake, in case others make it too, I turned my work at the first stockinette round and then pushed the work through the center to switch the direction of the knitting. This maneuver created a bit of a hole. But that filled in as I continued to knit.

For a chunky-weight hat, the crown decreases worked out well. 

This is yet another free Ravelry pattern: Finlandia, designed by Paige Buursma. I had one skein of Malabrigo Rios left in a favorite colorway: Archangel. As it turned out, Finlandia is a very dainty hat when it comes to yarn-eating. It used only 50 grams, 105 yards.

I thought I might not be up to knitting a lacy hat. It required a bit of concentration. But this is very easy lace so I gave it a go. I’m so glad I did. It’s an excellent hat.

Finlandia even has a nice set of pinwheel crown decreases.

So, 50 grams of beautiful Rios left. Jessica Ays Narragansett Fingerless Mitts fit my yarn and my yardage perfectly. My friend Harriet has knit 6 pair of these mitts in recent weeks. I decided to join in on the fun.

I confess I almost decided against giving them a try after I purchased the pattern and learned that the beautifully textured top of the mitt is created by knitting in the round below. I last knit in the round below on a small sweater for my baby son. My baby son turned 35 in June. I’d worked the sweater in what I now (think) I know as a form of brioche ribbing. When I made a mistake I couldn’t figure out how to fix it. I must have restarted that little sweater a million times.

But it turns out that knitting in the round below is easy peasy because, in this pattern, every other round is all purl stitches on the tops of the mitts. So if you do goof, all it takes is ripping out one round to get back to what amounts to a lifeline of well-behaving purl stitches. Whether just knowing a fix would be easy relaxed me, who knows, but I made no mistakes and the knitting was easy.

These mitts proved the perfect way to use up my Rios skein. I knit the mitts with no modifications and used only 48 grams (101 yards).

It’s a fun challenge to try to keep smallish amounts of yarn out of my leftovers bag.

The remedy for cold feet

We all get cold feet. Literally and emotionally. But let’s just examine the literal side of this.

Knitters for many decades have knit something we’ve called “Dorm Boots.” The original circulated pattern may have been Amy Detjen’s “Aunt Alm’s Dorm Boots.” Veterans of knitting on the web will remember the camaraderie of the old knitlist. It was in the knitlist days that I knit my first pair of Aunt Alm’s Dorm Boots. Brenda Zuk modified the pattern a tad and came up with a good comfy pair of Dorm Boots. Garter stitch soles for a bit of traction. A nice cuff so they don’t slip off. And an excellent spine up the top of the slipper for a bit of style.

Ditching the center spine, Kris Basta has been working up variations of the so-called “dorm” boots for quite a few years now. The boots in the top photo are her Better Dorm Boots Deluxe. By now, college students with ties to the knitting universe must have a lot of warm feet. Basta’s patterns are free, which is incredibly generous.

I knit my Better Dorm Boots Deluxe in King Cole Comfort Chunky, on US size 9 needles. They fit a women’s size foot from about 8-10 (US sizing). Basta’s pattern calls for worsted weight yarn, doubled. I have an aversion to knitting with doubled yarn because, for me–especially in an acrylic yarn–using doubled worsted yarn makes my hands hurt. But you of the nimble-handed world may prefer doubling worsted weight to wrestling with chunky.

Basta calls these next ones her Better Dorm Boots for Men. Again, I like to knit them in a chunky/bulky weight. And I prefer lengthening the cuffs. So far, no men I know say they want a shorter variety.

This pair is knit in King Cole Shadow Chunky on US size 10 needles. I’ve not used King Cole yarn in a month of Sundays. Let’s see, you ask exactly how long is a month of Sundays.

Thirty or thirty one Sundays would pass in 30/31 weeks. I last used King Cole when I was a teenager, more than half a century ago. Wow. OK I’ve not used King Cole yarn in way way longer than a month of Sundays. I should stop this before I depress myself. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first printed use of the phrase is from 1759 when someone named Hamilton Murray was writing his “Life & Real Adventures.” He reported that his commander swore he would dance to a particular part of a tune “for a month of Sundays.” At least I don’t personally remember 1759. Just take my word for it that a month of Sundays is a very long time.

The point is that I like the yarn. It’s excellent 100% acrylic yarn, if that’s what you need. And this Black Currant colorway is wonderful. Manly even, in a womanly way. Again, I used a chunky weight rather than doubling the yarn. Mine fit a man’s size 10 foot nicely and will easily stretch to fit a larger foot. You’ve seen me working this pattern before, within posts here and here and here.

Basta has even more dorm boot variations. I decided to try Crocodilly Mocs for Women. Same basic construction. These have a fun crocodile stitch on the cuff. Basta provides a video link that clearly instructs on how the stitch is worked.

These mocs look sweet on feet. I especially like the mismatched result when knit in this Adriafil Mistero, a 47% acrylic 53% wool mix.

Cozies for feet (and legs)

Mighty handsome legs, don’t you think? These tiny tiny leg warmers, baby sized, are tincanknits tic tac toes. Try to say that tongue twister fast three times. Tincanknit tic tac toes. Tincanknit tic tac toes. Tincanknit tic tac toes. Actually, not as difficult as I thought.

Here’s a closer look, off leg. As with the rest of tincanknit’s patterns, the pattern is sized from baby to adult. What an excellent idea. Newborn Georgia’s leg warmers–which could also serve as arm warmers–are knit in Kollage Yarns Sock-a-licious. It is, or rather was since it’s been discontinued, 70% merino wool, 20% nylon, and 10% silk.

I’ve never worn leg warmers. And I’ve never been a ballerina either. But I gather that ballerina status is not required to wear leg warmers.

Now we move to a cozy that’s less cute but more useful. These are Kris Basta’s Better Dorm Boots for Men.  This Ravelry freebie is meant to be knit in bulky weight (or worsted weight doubled) and results in a workhorse of a foot cozy.

My version of Better Dorm Boots is knit in Plymouth Yarn Chunky to assure that they are machine washable and dryable. The 25% wool helps warm the feet and the 75% acrylic makes sure they’re easy care. 120 grams of chunky is all it took to knit the largest size.

Bob’s feet are enjoying them.

These next handsome socks are knit from Churchmouse Yarn and Teas’ Basic Sock pattern. If you’ve not knit socks before, this pattern–in all its delightful wordiness–is an excellent place to start. I knit mine, well Steve’s, in a yarn he really likes: Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock Mediumweight. This is a sport weight, which make for a firm warm sock when knit on a size 1.5 US needle.

Here are Steve’s feet enjoying a nice nap. The true shades of this colorway are the deep purple and blue shown above on my white backdrop. But I couldn’t resist showing off what a nice fit they turned out to be.

I didn’t want to forget about kids’ feet. These are Mine. They’re actually Isaac’s. But the pattern is Mine by Faye Kennington.

Mine are meant to be knit in a super bulky weight. I tried knitting them in Sirdar Bigga, a super bulky, but my gauge was way off. The slippers would had to have been donated to a basketball player. I downsized to a bulky weight and then my gauge was way off in the other direction. These turned out to be 8 inches long. I knit them in Valley Yarns’ Berkshire Bulky. 85% wool and 15% alpaca so, once they’re washed and thrown in the dryer, they’ll be looking for something closer to a toddler’s feet.

But they were a fun knit. It would have been better, I think, if I’d started my two-color look at the start of the garter stitch rather than just after the cable section. The pick up of stitches isn’t as neat as it should be (and would have been) if I’d changed the color just on the sole section.

Would you possibly like another look at those tincanknits’ leg warmers? My Ravatar insisted on trying on the leg warmers and she’s asking to be featured on the blog in full-body view. She’s also been begging me to knit a pair of tic tac toes just for her. She says her spot on top of my knitting corner bookcase next to glass head gets really chilly sometimes.