Around the neck

This is Pathfinder, by Susan Mills. It’s one of her older Classic Elite patterns and calls for Classic Elite Chesapeake. As with all the Classic Elite yarns, Chesapeake’s dead now that the company died. They may have discontinued it even before the company fell off the edge of the yarny planet. But I had 4 balls in my stash. It’s a 50% merino 50% cotton worsted weight yarn. Very soft. Not a bit scratchy. And it’s an extravagantly cheerful color to wear on a dreary winter day.

The boxy construction combined with the scalloped edges creates such a graceful look. Sometimes you want a warm scarf. Sometimes I think you just want one that looks good. There’s only two Pathfinder projects posted on Ravelry. I find that surprising. It’s an excellent pattern that merits more attention than it’s getting. Fun to knit. Fun to wear. I give it a 10!

Here’s another boxy scarf: Knitwise Design’s Square Deal Scarf. I knit mine in Berroco Vintage again using a non-wintry colorway. Apricot certainly competes with lemon yellow in the non-wintry department.

Square Deal, quite in contrast to Pathfinder, is a warm scarf. It’s long and wide and can almost do double duty as a shawl.

Maybe, for some, scarves aren’t working as well as they used to. It’s true that the ends can get caught on the sticky half of Velcro tabs. For sure, I’ve combed out my share of yarn fuzz from those tabs. But there aren’t many cowls that can compete with scarves for keeping a person warm. Plus, if you’re climbing playground equipment there’s much less chance of getting hurt when a scarf gets snagged as compared with the risk of what can happen while wearing a cowl. Well, not to be too grim, there was that one incident with Isadora Duncan. But her very very long scarf got tangled in the rear hubcaps of her car.

On that unhappy note, I should change the focus.

This cool cowl is Amelia Lyon’s Willow Cowl. I knit mine in (my apologies) another discontinued Classic Elite yarn, Alpaca Sox. Knitting socks in mostly alpaca never seemed like a good idea to me. This yarn is 60% alpaca, 20% nylon, 20% merino. It is soft and lofty–perfect for Willow Cowl.

The cowl looks a bit odd folded in on itself.

It looks a lot odd and lampshade-like stretched out flat.

But on a neck, it stacks into well-behaved rolls. It’s wonderful!

You can check out another Willow Cowl version here.

Frogging your knitting

This beautiful yarn is Karen Bradley’s hand-dyed Kaloula Yarn in her Grand Merino worsted weight. I found it once, late in 2012, at Knit Michigan. That’s a cancer benefit smallish yarn meet-up in the Detroit area. My eyeballs were dazzled by this yarn. But later it was hard for me to find a pattern that would suit. Even though these three skeins are all one colorway, the colors aren’t evenly disbursed or even all represented in each skein.

I searched Ravelry’s database and decided I’d knit a rustic shawl with an unusual construction: the Portuguese Fisherwomans shawl. It’s a Vermont Designs by Shelagh pattern. At that point, Shelagh Smith’s pattern was still downloadable from vtyarnco.com. (The pattern isn’t available anymore and, of course, I have no permission to share it or copy it and since I want to keep it in my library I can’t give it to anyone either.)

It’s a pretty thing, hanging there on the hanger. And I feel as if I did the yarn justice with my pattern choice.

The lengths of color worked out nicely.

Knitting that long garter stitch band and sewing it on wasn’t easy for me. I wore the shawl, a bit. Around the house. Where no one could see me in it. Knowing where all the mirrors in my house are located, I could easily avoid them. Steve knew his job was to answer the doorbell while I scampered out of my fisherwoman’s costume. Taking nothing away from Portuguese fisherwomen, they must go for warmth rather than style. Or else their body type isn’t portly (being charitable to myself) or buxom.

In 2018, I decided the shawl needed to be frogged. (“Rip it…rip it.) The yarn was just too special to see light of day so seldom. I ended up with about 1100 yards of yarn. Just for the fun of it, I wound it up all in one ball. It was so big it wouldn’t fit in my yarn bowl. It was as big as a small watermelon.

Then I went shawl/wrap pattern shopping and came up with a new Susan Mills pattern: Licola. You might want to click away to Ravelry now and take a look at Licola as Mills envisioned it. It’s supposed to be knit in 4 colorways of worsted and to end up in alternating striped rows. That would have been lovely. But, well…I had my Kaloula Yarn.

I just couldn’t be happier with how this turned out! Without any planning at all on my part, the bobble bind off even turned out to be mostly in shades that stand out from the rest of the shawl. Some who’ve knit Licola don’t care for the rustic knitted fringe. It’s created by casting on stitches at the start of a row and immediately binding them off. It’s one of my favorite features of this wrap.

Here’s another look at Licola.

I know I will wear this wrap. It used up a bit under 900 yards.

I had enough left to knit a new Sunrise Side Bear. This bear is my freebie donation to the knitting universe. So far ten knitters have posted their projects on Ravelry and about 1200 people have downloaded the pattern. I’m pretty geeked about that. You can read more about my one-seam, knit flat bear pattern here.

This guy is my Kaloula Sunrise Side Bear.

My Ex-Portuguese Fisherwoman’s Shawl was the gift that kept on giving. I even had enough left to complete my 5th pair of Fetching mitts, by Cheryl Niamath.

Ok. So you doubt my decision to frog the Portuguese Fisherwoman’s Shawl? Here’s me wearing it. And since then I’ve gained weight–which wasn’t enhancing the look. The ends of that long garter stitch band criss-cross your back and then pull forward to tie at belly button height. I hid the knot under the top flap.

Licolo works so much better for me. Here’s another view of it

More Doubles

Recently I’ve been fascinated with knitting doubles. I’m enjoying how the same pattern works up in different colorways or in different yarns. You’re looking at Alex Tinsley’s Fructose. I’ve knit both my Fructoses in Malabrigo Rios. These two colorways are big favorites of mine. The green one is lettuce. OK, you’d have figured out that’s the green one. And the purple/orange/red is Archangel. Beats me why. But it’s a wonderful colorway, especially for one-skein projects. That’s because there seem to be very big differences between skeins. But every skein I’ve seen is wonderful.

The strong vertical lines combine with strong horizontal ones to give the hat wonderful structure. And the sweet bonnet-like slit in the back leaves room for a pony tail or allows the hat to be worn low on the back of the neck to keep out winter’s chill.

Each Fructose took 52 grams. I should have had 48 grams left. But both my skeins were “light.” I’ve read that a skein with 10% more or 10% less is considered acceptable. I suppose I should be magnanimous and accept that if sometimes I get more I shouldn’t grouse about getting less. Maybe I would if I ever got more than a dollop of yarn beyond the ballband amount.   Both these skeins were shy about 8 grams.

With my mission of not wasting yarn or leaving it to languish in my oddments bags, I decided to knit up a pair of toddler-sized The Thinker hats.

Susan Villas Lewis has come up with such an excellent all-sized pattern. These are the 8th and 9th Thinkers I’ve knitted. In the toddler size, there are three lines of easy cable that ring this hat.

It’s a seriously excellent use of yarn.

That’s also true of Clara Parkes Hill Country Hat. Hill Country is a bulky-weight freebie available on Ravelry. It’s also included in Parkes’ excellent book The Knitter’s Book of Wool. Hill Country is another pattern I return to whenever I have about 110 yards of bulky asking to be knit up. This brown one is knit of Brown Sheep’s Lamb’s Pride Bulky.

One of the strengths of the hat is that, depending on the yarn and sometimes the colorway, it’s a definite unisex design. This white one is knit in Valley Yarn’s Berkshire Bulky.


As ever, hats don’t get beyond first base with me if they don’t have well-behaved crowns. Plus they get extra points if, like Hill Country, they have something interesting going on in the crown section. I think this swirl works well.

I knit this next pair quite awhile ago and didn’t get around to showing them off. This is Elena Nodel’s bulky-weight freebie, Tega. An excellent pattern. It’s only available in one size, adult, but that’s easily adjustable by using a less beefy yarn weight and smaller needles.

My first Tega is knit in Reynold’s Lopi Bulky. I used size 6 for the ribbing (that was pushing it) and size 9 for the body of the hat. Those extravagant cables are wonderful. And the thoughtfully planned crown is a winner for sure.

As for what head will wear a bulky-weight Lopi hat, it needs to be a very cold one. And a head with a very high “but it’s scratchy” threshold. I washed it in Eucalan to try to tame the itch factor, but not with much success. It’s much softer but still scratchy as heck. And I actually have a high tolerance for such rustic yarn.

If you decide to knit Tega in a good superwash bulky, like this Valley Yarns Superwash, there won’t be any complaints about itchy heads. The yarn also has great stitch definition for a bulky, which is a big plus for this pattern.

At some point, I promise, I’ll stop concentrating so much on heads and will let your eyeballs feast on something else. Not today though. I recently hatched plans for how my knit hats can tempt teens to put something on their heads and, with that, my hat knitting went into high gear. Even Glasshead is beginning to voice boredom with all these hats.

This one is Agnes Kutas-Keresztes’s freebie, Christian. My gray Christian is knit in about 130 yards of Berroco UltraWool.

And this pink one is knit in Plymouth Encore.

Crowns can make or break a hat. Check out this wonderfully organic one. If you’re up for an easy, rewarding (and free) pattern, definitely consider Christian.


Just when you think I can’t possibly be assaulting you with any more hat twins, I’ve still got more. This set is Susan Mills Harriet. Quite uncharacteristically, I knit my Harriets in exactly the yarn the pattern calls for: Classic Elite’s Liberty Wool.

The multi-color Liberty Wool means that every Harriet will be unique. My 50 gram balls weighed closer to 40 grams, which was a disappointment. But two balls still ended up with two Harriets, just one large and one medium.

The hat is meant to be a beret. But I think most heads would want to wear it as a beanie.

I made some sizing modifications on this next pair of hats, but I am totally liking the look. It’s Benjamin Matthew’s On the Grid Beanie. I was lucky enough to secure a copy of the pattern during its few days when Matthew released it free. But this hat pattern is totally worth the 6 dollars he’s charging for it now. By the way, to keep an eye on designer short-term freebies, join the Free Stuff Rocks (f/k/a Lovin’ the Freebies) group on Ravelry. The group forum will also alert you to new forever free patterns and to discounts that are available from designers.

Back to On the Grid. Both mine are knit in Plymouth Encore. The pattern calls for a more lightweight worsted and 19 stitches to 4 inches using garter stitch as the gauge. Encore required some sizing mods.

I knit 10 rows of ribbing. In Encore, needle size 6, that was about 1.5 inches. I knit 4 repeats of the triangle pattern instead of 5, which gave me a bit over 6 inches of triangles. From the start of the decreases to the top added about 2.75 inches. So, even modified, this is quite a long beanie–9.25 inches. But I can already tell that this quick knit is a pattern I’ll return to regularly.

You know that means it’s got an interesting crown.

GlassHead is weeping. Maybe you can hear her? Both Fructose have already been given away and she wanted to hang on to the Lettuce one and keep wearing it for awhile. I’m consoling her at present with the Encore Sour Apple On the Grid, a similar colored hat.

 

Liberty Wool

This is Helene Rush’s Bowties Scarf, knit in Classic Elite’s multi-colored Liberty Wool. It’s a superwash worsted. Two skeins of two separate colorways create this interesting piece. In fact, if you knit a third section in another colorway, you’d end up able to mix-and-match for additional looks. That’s what a new knitting friend of mine is planning after meeting my Bowties in person.

This photo explains.

These aren’t knitted centipedes having a rumble. These are the individual halves of the scarf. Here are the halves curled up into flower blooms.

Set out in these photos my guess is that you’ve figured out just how easy a knit this garter stitch cutie is.

Let’s put it back together, matching up each tab in one strip with its twin tab in the other strip. I’ve found that a square knot works best.

Here’s one I made in two different colorways about five years ago. It’s such a good knitting idea, don’t you think? And Liberty Wool really makes it pop. But you could knit it out of any interesting color-changing yarn. Or even out of two (or one) solid colors. Or try a color-changing yarn on one side and a solid on the other. Check out the Ravelry project pages to see what the knitting universe has come up with.

I recently came into a cache of Liberty Wool multi when a favorite shop closed. So unfortunate. But the shop’s owner deeply discounted her yarns and I drank deeply at the well.

Meet Molly.

You’ve met Good Golly Miss Molly on my blog once before. We marveled at how the heck this four-row pattern ends up looking so cool. Some have likely felt a bit miffed at paying six dollars for a four-row pattern. (Actually, I have the Classic Elite booklet that includes Molly so my investment was much less per pattern-row.) But, really, could any of us have figured out how to make this happen out of a piece of what’s basically colorful fat string? Susan Mills is the knitting world genius who figured it out.

I enjoy the way the ruffles can be wound up. In fact, it’s a great way to store Molly.

Molly’s two halves on either side of the center ridges are not the same. One side is squared up near the ridge and the other one is pointy. If the scarf is folded along its top spine, the flopped-over (then-public) side will match the bottom half. It’s hard to explain but very easy to knit. And by the time you’re done with this scarf you will be a short-row wiz.

Here’s my best hint to free yourself from consulting the pattern except for a few repeats. It works as long as you can easily count ridges to be sure you don’t end up with a fat (or skinny) ruffle.  Knit a row 1 if you see two ridges as you start the row. Knit a row 3 if you see 4 ridges. Others have also emphasized that it’s important to mark the “right hand side” of the work. By that, they mean, the right (as you look at your work) rather than the left side. I did that. But it’s not needed if you just count the ridges as you start a row.

We knitters owe so much to Classic Elite for its great yarns and wonderful patterns. I am already mourning that it “will be closing its doors in the very near future.” “Say it ain’t so, Joe.” But it’s so.

Colonel Talbot and Wellington

wellington3This is Wellington. Not Colonel Wellington. Just Wellington. A Susan Mills Classic Elite pattern. My version, worked up in the yarn the pattern calls for (4 skeins of Classic Elite Camelot), is the first finished project on Ravelry at the moment.

It was fun to knit. And I definitely like reversible patterned scarves. Especially if you gift a scarf, if it’s not reversible you’ll see it worn backwards every time you see it worn. Same goes for hats with seams–they’ll always be worn by the giftee with the seam smack dab in front. And, though I try to gently educate the recipients of afghans that they are warmer public side up, they’re almost sure to be folded backward on the couch. (But at least that means they’re being used.)

Just under 400 yards of Aran weight. It needed a rather aggressive block to open up those middle ribs a tad.

Wellington

I enjoyed knitting it. The color-shifting yarn holds a knitter’s interest even when the billionth jigsaw puzzle piece starts wearing thin.

So, that’s Wellington. And this next scarf really is Colonel Talbot.

colonel_scarf

Colonel Talbot, in the library, with a candlestick. Oh, no. That would be Colonel Mustard. This is an excellent unisex scarf pattern by Joan Janes of Littleredmitten. I knit mine in String Theory Hand Dyed Yarn’s Caper Aran. I’m not sure if Caper Aran is currently available. But it’s 80% merino,10% nylon, and (ahem) 10% cashmere. Quite special.

colonel_scarf3

It’s a simple pattern, for sure, but with some excellent design features, including I-cord knitted-on edging and an interesting bunch of raindrips to break up the garter stitch.

Sometimes I have trouble wearing scarves. They dangle into the velcro flap patches on my coats and get stuck. But I definitely enjoy knitting them.