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.

I tamed the Oopado!

PicMonkey Collage

What’s the Oopado? The first question is what’s the Ravelry GAL. The GAL is the Ravelry Indie Design Gift-a-long, an annual event where knitters and crocheters prepare for the holidays as only fiber folks can. With support and encouragement from others on Ravelry, and with a beginning two weeks or so of discounted patterns, the GAL runs from the week before U.S. Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve. There are eight categories of paid patterns to choose from:

  • Hats & other head things
  • Cowls, scarves, & other neck things
  • Shawls & stoles
  • Sweaters & other garments
  • Hand & arm things
  • Kids & baby things (except toys)
  • Foot & leg things
  • Toys, home, & other miscellaneous things

And taming the oopado? It’s when a knitter knits at least one item from each of the 8 categories before the GAL closes.

The smaller items? Piece ‘o cake. But also finishing a shawl and a garment? I wasn’t sure I’d make it. Some forced idleness over the holidays was quite a boon to my knitting and I finished all I’d planned.

Starting with the small stuff, this is Coffee Klatch, by 10 Hours or Less. It’s a fun mosaic dishcloth, knit here in Knitpicks Dishie:

CoffeeKlatch

Regular readers know I’m a sucker for mosaic dishcloths and this one is definitely a keeper!  Actually, though, I gave it away. I’m quite sure another is in my near future.

This is Jennifer Boot Cuffs, by Kate Bostick of Cowtown Knits.

Jennifercuffs2

You can probably tell from the pristine condition of my boots, that we haven’t had much snow in Michigan yet this year. My cuffs are knit in humble, very serviceable Lion Brand Heartland. Actually, they aren’t my boot cuffs. They are now my niece Melanie’s boot cuffs. Here’s a closer look.

JenniferCuffs

My choice from the hand category is Aimee Alexander’s Farm to Market Mitts. Mine are knit in Stonehedge Fiber Shepherd’s Wool DK, a wonderful yarn that’s been discontinued.

Farm2Market

I’ve knit Farm to Market Mitts three times before and haven’t yet kept a pair for me. These are mine. They are tucked in my coat pocket. It’s very odd. I didn’t notice until just this very minute, that I’ve got a major goof on the first cable on the right mitt. That must be why I kept them for me.

My hat choice was another Susan Vilas Lewis (Stay Toasty) interesting knit: Vitruvian Man, again in Shepherd’s Wool DK.

vitruvian_hat

Here’s who inspired the hat’s main motif:

url

Honestly, I didn’t know his name. But I’ve certainly seen the image many times, the Leonardo da Vinci guy with the extra limbs, with his arms trapped in the square and his legs trapped in the circle. You can read all about Vitruvian Man here. For present purposes, he’s an excellent hat.

Here’s the top of his head.

vitruvian_hat_top

My neck category selection is Nocturne in M, by Simone Kereit of OwlCat Designs. It’s a one-skein, asymmetrical keyhole scarf. The “M” thing is because Kereit designed it for Malabrigo Rios. Rios is wonderfully soft. It’s one of those I can’t-say-enough-good-things-about-this-yarn yarns. Especially when yarns and necks will be rubbing elbows.

nocturne

I’m told that the Archangel colorway I used is very popular. I definitely like it. You can clearly see how the shades and colors evolved throughout the skein.

Next, in the baby & kids category, is Georgie Hallam’s Milo. There are 10,144 project pages on Milo. It’s an amazingly versatile little garment, sized from newborn to 6 years. Mine is knit in Debbie Bliss Rialto DK, sized for a nine month old.

milo

When the Masterpiece Theatre production of Jane Eyre came out in late 2007, Ravelry was abuzz with discussion of Jane’s rustic shawl. Carol Sunday came to the rescue and soon developed and released “To Eyre…,” complete with that great garter stitch ruffle.

eyre

eyre4

Keep in mind that what is itch to many people is cozy to me, but a rustic shawl needs a rustic yarn. Harrisville Design’s WATERshed fit the bill. This is the Mallard colorway. I really like this shawl. But as a friend commented, I won’t be mistaken for Kate Middleton when I wear it. To Eyre satisfied the shawl/stole GAL category.

This is my GAL selection in the garment category: another Georgie Hallam (TIKKIknits) design: Summer Carnival. It’s such a sweet and simple thing.

carnival4

There’s a lovely brooch pattern in the heart position. And another set of three medallions (carnival/ferris wheels) on the right front near the bottom ribbing.

carnival

My Summer Carnival is knit in Classic Elite Fresco, a 3-ply sportweight mix of 60% wool, 30% alpaca, 10% angora. The colorway is 5306, which isn’t showing on the current CE product page. They would usually mean it’s been discontinued. I hope not because straw is an interesting vintage shade.

Hallam’s pattern has a 1950’s sensibility to it. I can see Doris Day wearing this.

carnival3

Thanks to all the Indie Designers who worked so hard to make the third annual Ravelry GAL so much fun. They organized giveaways, gave away lots of encouragement, and gave gobs of discounts. They’re a talented and generous bunch and the knitting universe is fortunate to have them.

Opadoo2

Farm to Market Mitts times three

mitts_on

Ravelry Indie designers have been staging the second, hopefully annual, “Gift-A-Long” (GAL) since November. The event started off with zillions of patterns discounted. It’s meant to help knitters get their holiday knitting in high gear and, in the process, to learn about designs and designers we might miss in the highly competitive knitting pattern environment. It’s been lots of fun. And I’ve been especially productive, finishing 17 projects from ten different designers, including eight whose patterns I’ve not knit before.

These fingerless mitts are the Farm to Market Mitts by Aimee Alexander of Polka Dot Sheep. I’ve knit three pair during the GAL. The pattern is downloadable on Ravelry. These are worked up in Shalimar Yarns Breathless DK, a superwash blend of merino, cashmere and silk. The tamarillo colorway is beautiful and the 15% cashmere (10% silk) makes for a wonderfully soft fabric.

The cable, which needs to be knit with two cable needles, is the star of this mitt, for sure.

mitts_on2

I prefer mitts with a thumb gusset rather than just a hole, or even less attractive, a stovepipe thumb that juts out from the mitt with not a touch of grace.

Here another sample, this time in Classic Elite Chesapeake. Chesapeake is a lightweight worsted and I used the same size needle thoughout (a US 5) instead of the 5 and 6 I used on the DK weight ones. It’s 50% wool/ 50% cotton and has excellent stitch definition.

green_mitts

Yes, I know you see it. The beautiful chain cable is screwed up on the right mitt. I didn’t see it until I cast off and I was too lazy to rip back. They will not be less warm than if they were error-free. Hopefully a non-knitting recipient will not be as bothered by the botched cable and I am.

The next set was my first pair–before Aimee decided to increase the number of yards a typical knitter will need to 140. I had the bare minimum recommended in the original version of the pattern (130) and it was just barely…not enough.

So I decided to make this mismatched set, knit in wonderful Plymouth Yarns DK Merino Superwash Select DK. This yarn has amazingly great stitch definition.

farm_mitts2

It’s getting to be my new “go to” yarn. This is my first time using the DK, rather than the worsted. No knots. No slubs.

farm_mittsAlexander’s pattern is totally error free. It’s also very intelligently laid out, with both line-by-line and charted directions. The key abbreviations–for the cables–are repeated on the page with the chart. Such a good feature, because you don’t have to keep flipping pages. She even helps the knitter out by telling you exactly how many stitches you will have in the gusset increase rows and includes a table (on the same page as the chart) that shows the stitch count and what row of the chart you’re supposed to be for each of those rows. The gusset increases in alternate rows, and then changes to every third row, so she signals the increase rows with an asterisk. Much appreciated!