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!


I bought these 6 skeins of worsted weight Stonehedge Fiber Shepherd’s Wool at a local yarn shop on October 6, 2012. How do I know? I record purchase dates in my Ravelry stash. I paid full price for the yarn, $10.40 for each 250 yard skein. If you’re keeping track of yarn inflation, more than nine years later Michigan shops sell the same yarn for $14.00 a skein.

I even remember what I planned to knit with those 1500 yards: Pamela Wynne’s February Lady’s sweater. The sweater is a Ravelry freebie that has 13,856 project pages. It’s modeled after Elizabeth Zimmermann’s classic “Baby Sweater on Two Needles” from her “Knitter’s Almanac.” I don’t know why I never knitted it.1500 yards is enough yarn to complete the adult version of the sweater. And it’s a great pattern. But the yarn just sat. It was long beyond time to turn that pile of purple into something even prettier.

I decided to make Elizabeth Smith’s Brookdale Vest. Such an easy knit and such an unfussy look. Here’s me wearing my vest.

I reckon’ I’m a tad overly casual for a proper model. What’s with the way-too-long sleeves on that old black fleece?  It’s warm that way. Am I really wearing a t-shirt under that old black thing? Yes. It’s warm that way. And straighten the collar on it, woman! It will be even warmer if you stand that collar up properly on both sides. But if you can look beyond all that, isn’t it a comfy vest? Lately, I use a shawl pin to close it up. It’s extra warm that way.

Brookdale Vest even has a small back detail that’s kind of cute.

800 yards in the 4th-from-the-largest size and I had a vest, with 700 yards of Shepherd’s Wool left.

The twofer part of this post is that I decided I’d knit up the rest of the yarn ASAP. I selected Emily Bolduan’s freebie Honeycomb Scarf. It’s a simple slip-stitch pattern with a faux I-Cord edge.

Here’s a better look at that nicely behaved edge.

Honeycomb is a plump stitch that’s perfect for a very cozy scarf. 10 inches wide. 70 inches long. NIce and warm that way.

It’s been 8 below zero Fahrenheit here lately. All I can think about is keeping warm.

More doubles

My knitting’s been on a bit of a stutter. Building on my last post, today’s features a few more doubles. This no-nonsense accessory is Elizabeth Smith’s Low-Key Cowl. It’s just a simple combination of knits and purls, worked in the round. But what a nice “just” that turns out to be. Totally wearable. I knit mine in the Sunset colorway of worsted weight Malabrigo Rios.

The twist that make Low-Key so wearable? That two-sided split garter stitch edging. Instead of bunching up and crowding the chin like so many other one-skein cowls, this one sits neatly on the broader parts of you.

And, of course, you can situate that split wherever you decide it does the most good. Smith’s directions on the simple maneuver that creates the split are spot on. This cowl is totally doable even for a beginning knitter.

My apologies for the photo that looks like I slept in my shirt. Steve took a series of photos. This was the only one where I wore a sort-of-smile that didn’t look: (1) like a smirk, (2) like I was crooked, or (3) funereal. It’s true, though, that I’d just gotten up from a nice long nap exactly as the shirt suggests.

I’d no sooner finished my first Low-Key that I wanted to knit another.

I knit this second one in Cascade Wave, another worsted-weight superwash. I’ve enjoyed knitting with Wave before, just not in this kind of drab colorway, inaptly name “Camo.” Camo, to me, implies there would be some green in it. But this is all shades of brown.

In this view you can see the construction of the two overlapping side slits. A most serviceable unisex cowl.

If my requests are any indication, this might be dubbed the year of the headband. People are asking for headbands. I prefer to think good thoughts about headband popularity rather than that people aren’t liking my hat offerings. This next set of doubles is Lisa McFetridge’s Grindelwald Earband. You’ve seen it here before.

Felt Head is showing this one off, knit in Berroco Ultra Wool. And the second one is knit in Cascade 220 Elysian. Both are worsted weights.

If you have a spare 90 yards or so and are looking for a project, I definitely recommend this one. The cable is very fun to knit. The modifications I made were set up to make the ending graft easier to work.  I used a crochet provisional cast-on instead of the “open” one recommended in the pattern. Then I knit the first row (to avoid the mess that a mix of purls and knits makes when you try to unravel it). Instead of working a kitchener graft with a mix of knits and purls, I worked a 3-needle bind-off. Easy peasy. It’s slightly visible, but so would my kitchener effort have been. And teaching an old dog a new cast-on trick just wasn’t working for me.

Next up is one of my major stutters: Calorimetry.  This is my Number 26 Calorimetry, worked in Lamb’s Pride Worsted.

Such an excellent headband, earband, headwarmer, whatever’s your word for it. It’s totally ponytail friendly, though Glass Head has nothing but disdain for such a notion.

If you’re still keeping track, here’s Number 25 knit in a riotous colorway of Noro Kureyon.

Speaking of keeping track of stuff. The current count of the number of Calorimetry Ravelry project pages is 19,484. It’s the 15th of the Top 15 Ravelry project pages. What’s Number 1? It’s another freebie, Erica Lueder’s Hermione’s Everyday Socks. That one is 35,526 project pages. No. 35,527. I guess I better close this post quickly.

The new(ish) Germantown

This is Elizabeth Smith’s Layla, knit in Kelbourne Woolens Germantown.  I don’t knit many sweaters for grown folks. But this one caught my eye. Oversized. Boxy, Great for layering. I figured it would work for winter and do double duty on cool evenings the rest of the year. Plus (don’t laugh…too hard) I don’t like to sew buttons on and a sweater that looks good without buttons is a plus. You don’t even have to have someone’s first remark on your hand knit be….all together now…”I really like the buttons.”

The pattern is simple, but with some excellent detailing. I like the subtle garter stitch panel that runs down the sides. When picking up the bands, Smith doesn’t provide an exact number of stitches. I mean, does anyone ever get exactly that number? Instead, she says to pick up 3 for every 4 edge stitches. So, no pressure, just well-behaved bands. There’s even some easy short row shaping on the shoulders.

The pattern teaches a fun little “trick” for knitting one-row alternating stripes while knitting stockinette flat. You knit two rows and then purl two rows. The color you need for the next stripe is in the correct place because after you knit (or purl) the first in the pair of rows, you slide all the stitches forward on your circular needles to knit (or purl) another row in the other color.  And because of how you handle the yarn, you are working stockinette despite the knitting two rows and then purling two rows. Here’s Smith’s brief photo tutorial on the technique. Easy peasy. And such a nice effect.

I am very pleased with the result.

The pattern calls for 11 inches of positive ease and, in my size, presents the yarn requirements as 1066 yards of the main color and 464 yards of the contrasting color. That would be 8 skeins plus 4 skeins of the recommended yarn, Quince and Company Lark because Lark is put up in 134 yard skeins. I decided to give the new incarnation of an old fav, Germantown, a try. Smith’s pattern doesn’t tell a knitter how many yards are actually needed, just how many skeins. One of the ways Ravelry can be very helpful is when knitters report their actual yardage used. But I didn’t find enlightenment in the project pages on this point.

Germantown is put up in 220 yards skeins. The only safe choice was for me to buy at least as many yards of each color as the Lark skeins would have provided. So I bought 5 skeins of the main color (220 times 5 is 1100) and 3 of the contrasting color (660 yards). That was a bit of a gulp pricewise. When I last met Germantown it was many years ago in Woolworth’s “dime” store, I believe. The shop where I purchased Germantown sells a skein for $15.50. Let’s just leave it at I couldn’t have spent $15.50 even for a sweater quantity of Germantown in my dime store days.

I had 1760 yards of Germantown. I used less than 1250 for the sweater.

What to do with the remaining 500 plus yards?

These are Saffiyah Talley’s Heartland Marsh mittens, included in Kate Davies Warm Hands book. Good pattern, from a new-to-me (and newish) designer. What I take to be a tree motif appears on both sides of the mitts. And the mittens both fit each hand.

They fit very nicely.

The fair isle work has some very long floats. Especially with mittens, where fingers are apt to get caught in floats, I decided to catch them at least every 3 stitches. More often I caught them–loosely–every two stitches. The mittens definitely needed blocking. Hmm. No dedicated mitten blockers in this household.

I used a piece of stiff plastic I had on hand, and this Asa Tricosa tutorial, to make a pair of mitten blockers.

I modified Tricosa’s directions some to allow for the pointier tops of my mitts. It worked out just right. I traced the top of the mitten shape from the toe of my wooden sock blockers.

And still my Germantown wasn’t exhausted. Next I knit Kate Davies Design’s Haresd, from the same Warm Hands book.

Those honey gold bumps strike me as a bit odd, but they do make for a warm mitten. They are two-stitch, two-round, purl stitches knit onto a stockinette background. The first round of the purl stitch set end up half ’n half—so, in two colors. If it weren’t such a prominent design feature, we’d call it a mistake.

So, I’m done with Germantown, right? No. I have 3/4 of a skein of yardage left. I began to think some fairy was secretly spinning more yarn almost as fast as I was knitting it up. I’ve relegated the rest to my oddments bin. I’m quite sure that someday a honey colored pony with a purple-maroon mane will gallop out.

What about the yarn? Do I like it? Yes. It’s a very nice workhorse type yarn. In most skeins there would be one or two rough, stiff joins that I needed to cut out and spit-splice. That’s not too bad for a 220 yard skein. Kelbourne says that it’s “100% US grown wool.” I know that needs to make it more expensive than imported wool. Drat.

Coffee Bean Cardigan

This sweet tiny thing is Elizabeth Smith’s “Little Coffee Bean Cardigan.” It’s a free pattern on her blog and is also available on Ravelry.  Don’t stress too much about the coffee and bean stuff. I think the name comes from the fact that Smith’s version is knitted in dark brown and cream stripes. Maybe I should call my version “Little Cotton Candy Cardigan.”

The pattern knits up very quickly in worsted weight. It’s sized for 3, 6 and 12 month babies. Mine is knitted in Plymouth Encore for very easy care.