Spring knits..sublime to silly

So…spring! This is Dream in Color Designs’ Field of Violets. I knit mine in the yarn called for, a specially-dyed version of 100% merino Dream in Color Smooshy. Knitting this was a total hoot. The trick that produces the violets? Every time you get to the bright purple yarn you knit the special flower stitch that forms the violets.

Here’s what the yarn looks like skeined:

And here’s a closer look at my field of violets:

After a few false starts, I realized it would be helpful if I cast on as far away as possible from the purple contrasting color. The cast-on is only 4 stitches and increases only 1 stitch every 6 rows. Waiting to start a flower until several rows in gives a knitter room for the special stitch without distorting the structure of the start of the scarf.

I already spilled the beans about the trick to this design. You begin the flower stitch when your working yarn changes to the contrast color. At first, I misunderstood and thought you worked the flowers when you came to the contrast color stitches already on your needle. Nope. Watch for the purple coming up in your working yarn.

The flower stitch is worked over 3 rows. The pattern includes directions for how to work a flower when you encounter the contrast color on a right-side row and slightly different (but important) directions for when you encounter the contrast color while you’re working on a wrong-side row. The first 2 rows of the stitch are set out in the directions. The 3rd row is that you knit the stitches that have been bundled up. At first, I thought you put these bundled stitches back on the left hand needle at the end of the 2nd row manipulations and knit the bundle right away. Nope. Wrong again. Wait for the 3rd row. This video helped me understand what’s up with this flower stitch.

Another tip is that it’s perfectly OK to make different sized flowers. I fairly regularly encountered lengths of contrast color where I decided to work 6 stitches into the flower. Sometimes I knit teeny ones in only 3 stitches. And if you try to space the flowers in some way…well, best to give up at that. Flowers grow and scatter as they will. Let them do that in this scarf too, unless you want to drive yourself crazy.

Quite a few Ravelers report blocking their scarf. Not me. I like mine unblocked. More texture!

The instructions say that the midpoint of the scarf should be 38-40 inches from the cast-on and that you should increase to a set number of stitches before beginning the short “knit even” part of the scarf that forms the middle section. Despite my knitting on gauge with the yarn the pattern calls for, I didn’t get to 38 inches until I had 10 stitches more than the pattern called for. Other Ravelers reported that as well. I increased at the called-for interval until I got to 38 inches. Next I worked the straight section for the number of rows called for. And finally I began the decreases.

When I weighed my yarn at the midpoint I thought that it would be no problem to decrease, at the rate the pattern directs, all the way to the bind-off and not run out of yarn. But I was wrong. So for the last 6 inches or so of the pattern I decreased every 4 rows. That worked. My scarf is a somewhat different shape from what the designers planned. I’m fine with that!

I picked up this next skein at a yarn stall within an outdoor market. It was spun and dyed by southwest Michigan’s Shady Side Farm. I honestly don’t know what drew me to this particular skein. I’d not been even been overcome by Barbie fever.

I seem to recall that I thought it would make a nice accessory for my granddaughter. That pink has her name written all over it. But the yarn is definitely “rustic” in feel and my grand and rustic feel don’t really work. Eventually all I could see were piglets.

Piggies cavorting. I’ve called my Ravelry project Muddy Pigs Pigmania.

This beginner-friendly pattern is from Freya Jaffe’s wonderful classic book Toymaking with Children. I was introduced to the book when my son was in pre-school. His children are now well beyond their pre-school years and I’m still knitting simple toys from it. In the last 35 years I’ve made a million of these oinkers!

Sheep flock and some double-knit

These dainty-sized sheep are a hoot to make. An hour of knitting. Two hours if you fall asleep while you’re knitting. Half an hour of sewing up and stuffing. And you have yourself a sheep.

They make great donations for bazaars and fundraising shops. I confess that mine haven’t exactly jumped off Hillman’s Brush Creek Mill┬áRiver’s Edge gift shop shelf. But a number have sold. And I’m good with that.

This easy sheep pattern is available in two books inspired by the Waldorf Schools: “A First Book of Knitting For Children” by Bonnie Gosse and Jill Allerton and “Toymaking With Children” by Freya Jaffke. There is much to learn about the Waldorf Schools. And they made a long-lasting impact on my family. Knitting (and crochet) are part of the curriculum from the youngest grades. The toys in the books can all be knit by children. On some days that’s just what this adult wants.

Sometimes I knit these sheep and tuck them into a knitted shoulder bag. Depending on the age, sensibilities, or gender of the child, the sheep might be gifted in what I dub an “explorer” bag or “trapper keeper” or purse.

The bag is an easy double-knit rough creation befitting a critter of the barnyard. My apologies that I’ve never worked out a true pattern for them.

I cast on an even number of stitches in the thickest yarn I have on hand, using needles somewhat smaller than typical for the thickness of the yarn. I use the double-knit technique, where you work two layers of fabric at the same time with one pair of needles. If you’ve not tried this fun technique before, it’s basically a combination of knit one stitch, move the yarn forward and slip one stitch, move the yarn back and knit one stitch, across the row. The public sides of each layer face out and the non-public sides face in and what you end up with is a pouch with stockinette on each of the sides. Don’t forget to move the yarn or what you’ll end up with is an almost-pouch sewn together at the point where you goofed. Here’s a great Purl Soho video showing the technique worked in two colors of yarn.

I work double-knit to the depth of pouch I want and then bind off all but 3 stitches on each edge. I work a flap and a buttonhole, back and forth (no double-knitting). Then I put one set of the three stitches on double-point needles and work I-cord to the length strap I want. Repeat for the other strap and just knot the two straps together.

Sometimes these pouches carry a sheep. But not always.

They can be a bit habit-forming for this knitter.

Returning to the sheep I started with, they’ve been known to hang out in some unlikely places. These put in an appearance at a charity auction circa 1990.