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.

Knits for feet

We’re all looking for something homey and comfy to help sooth that savage beast who wants to yell “enough already.”  Knitting stuff for feet, actually knitting anything, will help us knitters stay grounded in trying times.

This is a pair of socks I knit from one skein of Schachenmayr Regia Arne & Carlos Pairfect. There’s a pattern inside the ball band. It’s printed so tiny I had to get out the magnifying glass that I use to read the warnings on pharmacy products. Once I read it I saw it was just your basic sock pattern, so I decided to rely on a pattern that I could read easily: Vanilla Latte socks by Virginia Rose-Jeanes.

Vanilla Latte is a Ravelry freebie that over 14,400 Ravelers have knit and posted on their project pages. It’s a bit of a sock recipe, where you pick your heel style and your toe style. I picked an eye of partridge stitch for the heel and what the designer calls a “rounded toe wedge.” This pre-dyed yarn isn’t going to show up properly without stockinette. So I worked the rest of the sock plainly, instead of relying on the pattern stitch that is the signature of Vanilla Latte. I guess I made a very plain Vanilla Latte.

Perfect fit!

When I saw the pattern for Katerina Mushyn’s Two Needle Socks appear on Ravelry I quickly acquired some bulky yarn and set to work. The pattern calls for Aran weight, but I figured I’d be using these as slippers or boot socks and I wanted to knit a tight gauge. So I tried a new (to me) bulky yarn, Sirdar’s Harrad Tweed Chunky. It was ridiculously discounted and I figured I’d give it a go. The yarn is very messy to work with, because slubs fly all over the place, so I can’t recommend the yarn. But the socks? Well check them out.

First, let me show you my feet wearing my new socks. I’m doing this to convince you, from the outset, that this pattern really does work.

This pattern results in a sock that is a good fit for human feet. But here’s what you have when you complete your knitting.

I just had to knit them to see how that turned into this:

As you can tell, there’s a fair bit of sewing to pull this off. It’s nothing challenging though. They aren’t going to win any beauty contests, but they were a hoot to knit! And the pattern is a Ravelry freebie.

The Russian designer’s English version of the pattern is easy to work with. But if you have any trouble, I very much enjoyed her video on how to knit the pattern. From watching the designer’s video and examining her sample before it’s sewn together, it’s clear that the designer slipped the first stitch of each garter stitch row (purlwise) and purled the last stitch of each garter stitch row. That’s what the English pattern is referring to as the “edge stitch” in the decrease and increase sections (the toe and the heel). The instructions for sewing the socks up are especially useful and that starts about 19:45 minutes into the video. Knitting hands speak a language we all understand.

These past few months have also found me replenishing the big guys’ bootie supply. That doesn’t sound right. I’ve been knitting Kris Basta’s freebie Better Dorm Boots. Versions of these dorm boots have been kicking around the internet from the early days of the old Knitlist. I like Basta’s version. My only modifications are that I use a chunky weight yarn rather than two strands of worsted. And I knit the ribbing through 60 rows rather than 45 because I like them cuffed.

My favorite yarn for these best dorm boots is Plymouth Encore Chunky. The 75% acrylic 25% wool makes for easy care.

Patons Shetland Chunky works well too:

I knit mine using size 10 US needles and they fit a size 10-11 manfoot. Be sure to bind off loosely on the cuff so you don’t cut off a fellow’s circulation!

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.

No cold feet here

gal_slippers2

These are the super-cozy “Toba Slippers,” designed by Jane Richmond. I knit mine in the now-discontinued Knit Picks Full Circle, a bulky weight wool. This was a stash-busting project. Since I didn’t have enough dark brown, I changed colors at the cuff. That worked out fairly well, but knitting it all in one color would have eliminated the need to tame the color-changing row.

I believe that one time, eons ago, I used a Turkish cast-on for a pair of toe-up socks. Richmond’s directions on that cast-on are clear, complete with a video link if a knitter needs it. It worked out very well.

Except for the first round after the cast-on, the directions assume you’re using magic loop instead of double-points. It isn’t hard to figure out what’s up, but there are directions for placement of 4 stitch markers that don’t work for double-points. And some of the directions are in relation to those markers. I just put a pin each place where a marker was meant to indicate a decrease. That worked.

These next slippers are an old favorite: Nola’s Slippers. This free pattern is available through Ravelry and direct from the Seaman’s Church Institute’s Christmas at Sea site.

nola_sets

This is just such an excellent easy pattern. I often make a few modifications, including lengthening the ribbing section so it can be cuffed back. The pattern calls for using a worsted weight doubled. That works well. But I had some skeins of Jamieson’s Shetland Marl, a bulky weight, and so I didn’t need to double the yarn.

Here’s a close look.

purple_nolas

nola_brown2

These are knit flat on circular needles to make it easier to pick up the stitches. The pattern calls for binding off and then sewing a seam along the sole, heel and cuff. I prefer to work a three needle bind-off on the sole. It does add a bit of bulk on the inside seam. So if yours will be worn by tenderfoots, best just to sew the seam.

In case you think the only colors I’ve been knitting lately are earthy ones, these next slippers could not be accused of being earthy-toned.

slipppers

Continuing the stash-busting effort, these are Kris Basta’s Better Dorm Boots. Basta has a whole series of Better Dorm Boots. These are the most plain version, with simple ribbing.

Mine are knit in left-over bits of Plymouth Encore. My plan was to make one pair with a contrasting cuff and another pair with a contrasting sole.

slippers2

Well. It turned out to be one of those best-laid plans gone adrift things. I even managed to get my half-and-half row on the outside instead of on the inside of the slipper. I was positive I had enough green for those soles.

There is something very satisfying in using up left-overs.

My family will be visiting over the holidays and these will all be added to my “pick-your-knitted gifts” library ladder. This year the ladder is spilling over to just about every flat surface in the living room. There are hats, scarves, hats, mittens, hats, slippers, hats, washcloths and hats to choose from.