Fourth birthday for my granddaughter

This is a child’s size 4 Jones by tincanknits. Stop. Don’t say it. I know. You like the buttons. That’s exactly what the little sweetie, my granddaughter, said when she opened the wrapping. She gets a pass on that comment. You don’t. You need to say: “Great cables. Classic yet modern design. Wonderful stitch definition in that Wollmeise Merino DK, an easy-care superwash. Heirloom quality!”

I think this sweater is just the cat’s meow. It was a bit of slog. That was mostly because I was afraid of the knit-on button band and shawl collar. The button band worked out just fine. I knit the body on a size 6 and the pattern says to drop down 3 sizes for all the ribbing. My only modification was that I knit the band and collar on size 4 US needles. I consulted my section of the knitting universe (thank you, Dot especially) and decided the band might pucker too much with a 3-size disparity on the needle size. That was my choice even though I followed the pattern and knit the bottom ribbing on the body and sleeves on size 3s.

Here’s a look at the back and then I’ll have more to say about that shawl collar.

Bottom up construction is old-school, but it makes for such a nice fit in this sweater. As all the project photos show, Jones is a snug-fit sweater, without much ease. It comes in a huge array of sizes–from 0-6 months to 4XL!

Now, about that short-row shawl collar. Bottom line? It benefited greatly by a somewhat aggressive wet blocking. As you  look closely at many of the Ravelry project pages, you will see that the left side of the collar, as worn, has the unkempt side of the short rows and pick-up the wraps showing on the public side. That bothered me enough to knit the button band and collar twice to try to remedy it. But I wasn’t clever enough to figure out a proper fix. Maybe it’s time to really learn the German short row technique.

There is a right side and a wrong side to the short row work. The directions have you pick up one side of the collar’s wraps on the right side and the other on the wrong side. I think that’s the rub. And the short rows only shorten by one stitch so the wraps are all tightly packed. I am dissatisfied with the collar. And it’s such a prominent feature in the otherwise beautiful sweater. But after I soaked the sweater in Eucalan and laid it flat to try, the stitches relaxed and even the collar looked much better.

No 4-yr old should only get clothes for her birthday. So I added in a Doll’s Moses Basket. Well, a sort of amazing technicolor Moses Basket because my granddaughter is sort of a technicolor kid.

Michelle Williams’s Doll’s Moses Basket is a great Ravelry freebie that deserves more attention than it gets. I’m actually the only project on Revelry. Yep. The only.  If you or yours have a doll in need of a comfy bed, please seriously consider giving this pattern a try. Williams’s pattern photo shows a beautiful all-off-white version. Mine. Well you see it.

Mine is knit in Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride worsted. And all of the natural color is frogged from a shawl I hadn’t worn much, which made it an economical knit even though the total yardage used was a little over 800 yards.

Here’s a view of the bottom-side, showing the cabled handle and its construction. Williams’s pattern calls for knitting the sides in two pieces and sewing them together. I decided to knit the sides as one piece and just knit a few rounds of garter stitch to create a somewhat natural folding point for the top. I thought about the fact that the sides would be floppy. I even tried putting a flexible plastic layer between the inner and outer parts of the sides, but decided it looked too stiff. I decided to declare the floppy sides a design feature. And when I saw my granddaughter tuck some stuffed buddies in the basket and easily sling the basket over her shoulder like a purse, I decided that I’d made the right choice. The handle is a double cable folded in half and sewn up lengthwise.

My 20 inch Ravatar tried the basket on for size before the basket was gifted. She daintily crossed her legs and declared the basket a perfect fit. She loudly demanded I knit one for her if I wasn’t going to let her keep it.

Stash Knit Down

Late last year I found my fade.  Such a beautiful shawl, in seven coordinating (and expensive) skeins of fingering weight.

Having invested in all that beautiful yarn, I set the task for myself to use up the remnants. What I call my Faded Ursula Sockhead Hat worked out well.

This is a total mashup, that doesn’t bear much resemblance to Wendy Ellis’s After Ursula. But it was the inspiration for my hat. I cast on the Ursula number of stitches.  After 5 inches of ribbing in Madelintosh Merino Light in the “gilded” colorway, I worked 4 rounds of gilded in stockinette, followed by pairs of that shade, faded in with a second color from the shawl.  I worked the fade section over 12 rounds. Then I knit 8 rounds of color 2. Next came a fade section, alternating pairs of rounds in color 3 with color 2 over 12 rounds, followed by 8 rounds of color 3. And so on. I worked almost 8 inches of stockinette, after the ribbing, and then started the decreases.

I used the decreases from Kelly McClure’s Sockhead Slouch Hat–decreasing 18 stitches every 3 rounds. So, this is a mash up of Sockhead Hat, Find your Fade and a bit of After Ursula. And I used 6 of my 7 colors from my Find Your Fade shawl.

But there was still a ton of yarn left.The remaining color with the most yardage was Malabrigo Mechita in the Sabiduria colorway. I decided to knit tincanknits light version of their much-loved “Barley.” Here’s my child-sized Barley Light.

Glasshead wanted to model it, but I didn’t want it all stretched out.

Hmm. What to do with short yardage? I decided to knit for baby feet even though I don’t presently have many babies in my world. These are Vauvan Sukka (roughly, train socks, in Finnish), knit in Alexandra’s Craft’s Diamond Lake and a bit of Bad Amy yellow-gold.

I like to make these socks in interesting and sometimes arresting color combinations.

The Train Socks story has been retold a good bit, including on my blog.  The pattern is attributed on Ravelry to Kerttu Latvala, and is posted by her daughter Terttu Latvala as a free pattern. The story of Vauvan Sukka is explained by Terttu, as translated into English at Teakat Translation, where the free pattern is also available. In 1939, with World War II already underway in Europe, mother and child were evacuating.There were delays because sections of railroad track had been bombed. Terttu was an infant. An infant with no socks. While they waited, a fellow passenger unraveled yarn from her white hand-knit sweater and knit Terttu a pair of socks. To pay forward that passenger’s kindness, first Kerttu and then Terttu have gifted hundreds of pairs of these baby socks to newborns.

I gifted my pair to Cecelia, who has lots of socks but now has one more pair. A pair with a story.

With one set of warm baby feet, I sort of couldn’t stop myself.

This is Frankie Brown’s free pattern, Baby Boots. One piece, worked flat, on size one needles. That Number 2 pencil eraser (remember pencils, people used to use them to write stuff) is included to show you the tiny scale of these booties.

Totally sweet, in Hedgehog Fibers Sock, in the Truffles colorway. I don’t associate gold and rose with truffles, but maybe. And it’s wonderful yarn. These were the only booties Isaac didn’t kick off.

Emboldened, it was time for a booties and hat set for the baby I’ve not yet met. This next knit is an old favorite. I’ve knit it many times.The pattern is from Homespun, Handknit, edited by Linda Ligon. It’s a wonderful Interweave Press book published in 1988 filled with patterns for hats, scarves, socks, mittens and gloves.

This is Bouncing Baby Set, by Jean Scorgie, minus its thumbless mittens. Babies look super cute in this head-hugger hat. And the kneesocks. Well they stay on a baby’s feet, unlike so much other stuff that we knitters knit for the wee ones’ feet.

There was still a bit more yarn left. So I knit a pair of my very own bears, Sunrise Side Bear. But instead of using worsted weight and size 5 US needles, I knit this set in fingering weight Malabrigo Mechita on size 1 needles.

These Sunrise Side Bears stand 5 and 1/2 inches tall, with a fist-to-fist span of 3 and 1/2 inches. To appreciate the scale, that mouse in the middle is holding a US penny.

They were bare. I had a little yarn left. It was enough for a vest for Boy Bear and a dress for Girl Bear. And with the last bits, came their tiny scarves.

I am feel quite proud of completing my de-stash challenge.

Boot cuffs

I’ve previously made known my low opinion about boot cuffs as a useful clothing accessory. To sum it up, I rank boot cuffs low. Very low. But one of my knitworthy nieces mentioned how much she liked boot cuffs and asked if I expected to be knitting any. I don’t need much more encouragement than that.

These are Jennifer Boot Cuffs, a Kate Bostwick pattern I’ve knit a number of times before. I worked these up in the yarn the pattern calls for, worsted weight Berroco Ultra Alpaca. Excellent pattern. Great yarn.

Here’s the same pattern knit in Brown Sheep’s Lamb’s Pride Superwash worsted. The yarn is a beefy superwash and stands up nicely to this pattern. The cables pop in both yarns.

One of the fun things about knitting this basically useless fashion accessory is that the knitting is completed in almost no time at all. I am comfortable on double points. In fact (shhhh) I’ve never learned to magic loop. Unlike hats, you don’t need to switch needles because there are no crown decreases. The only thing that needs a knitter’s special care is that the cast on and bind off need to be loose. Very loose. Some people will accept suffering in the name of fashion. But I don’t want my knitting to be the instrument that cuts off blood circulation in any major arteries.

Feel free to contradict me about the utility of boot cuffs. I accept that boot cuffs could keep snow out of a person’s boots. But my observation are that people wearing boot cuffs aren’t typically trudging through deep snow. And I know that boot cuffs can add to the feeling of overall warmth outdoors. Even though I’ve not personally noticed that the five inches above my boots are a particularly chilly spot, every body is different.

I enjoy knitting this pattern. What with the state of the Canadian dollar, you can purchase the pattern on Ravelry for $2.87 US. I’ve knit six pair already. Every pair has been gifted and gratefully received. And, admittedly, people look cute wearing boot cuffs.

This next pair is tincanknits’ major entry into the boot cuff category: Paved.

These are knit in Mountain Colors Mountain Goat, a 55% wool, 45% mohair blend. On my needles, Paved runs a bit large even knit to gauge. I do not have svelte calves and a medium fits.

The Tincans have come up with a stylish addition to the boot cuff universe. The pattern will set you back $5.00. But my prediction is that you will knit multiples. I am on my fourth pair.

This next Paved is knit in an old stand-by: Brown Sheep Nature Spun Worsted.

Such nice bouncy no-nonsense wool yarn.

So, if you haven’t tried knitting boot cuffs yet, I’d say have a go at it even if wearing them isn’t your cup of tea. Mine disappear like waffles doused in maple syrup on a wintery morning.

Winter’s last gasps

This is Aimie Alexander’s Antonia’s Scarf. In her Polka Dot Sheep Stumptown DK it looks very refined and totally sweet. Check it out here. In my version, knit in Noro Yuzon, it lost its sweet. It turned out definitely more savory. Yuzon is a 56% wool, 34% silk,10% mohair DK. And where that mohair is hidden, I surely don’t know. My version of Antonia’s Scarf is not next-to-skin soft, but I love the color-changing quality of this yarn. Softness can be overrated. I plan to recommend that the wearer keep it on the outside of her coat.

I cast on 35 stitches instead of 29. Without stretching at all, and with a light steaming, mine is 65 inches long. This thing grows on the needles faster than bamboo. The elongated stitch does wonders for the time it takes to knit a scarf.

Here’s another look.

Spring is finally arriving here in Michigan. We’ve got buds on the trees to prove it, though nighttime temps are in the mid-30’s. But I’m still working my way through a nice wintry mix of knitting.

Here’s a pair of Paved boot cuffs, by TinCanKnits.

I even polished my boots to show them off. Actually, I didn’t. These boots hurt my feet so I don’t wear them. They make a nice photo prop for showing off, well, boot cuffs. My cuffs are knit in Brown Sheep Nature Spun worsted.

Over the years I’ve had great success with TinCanKnit patterns. They are well-tested– before, not after– we knitters buy the pattern. The patterns are usually straightforward enough for newer knitters, but with interesting design features to keep more experienced knitters interested too.

I have never worn boot cuffs. To me, they seem an odd accessory. I gave this pair away. But maybe someday I’ll make a pair for me and see if I take a shine to them.

This next knit is Battlements by Karalee Harding. She describes it as a “slightly asymmetrical, virtually reversible, and completely cozy” unisex cowl in a texture combination “reminiscent of the notched parapet of a castle wall.”

I see the slight assymetry. The reversibility is very nice. And knit up in Blue Sky Extra, a 55% Alpaca, 45% merino Aran weight, it definitely is completely cozy. I knit the shorter version. In the longer version, you knit enough to make a double loop or a nice long dangle.

Glasshead isn’t exactly seeing the notched parapet. But no matter, because this is one excellent cowl.

Cooper’s Hats

So, there’s a little guy I’ve not met named Cooper. But I know his uncle. He’s six years old. Cooper, that is. Not his uncle. Cooper needed some hats pretty quick. Fun ones. Sporty ones. Ones to cover up some bad hair days his doctors have decided he needs. Cooper’s not an “off-the-rack” kid, so finding some not-off-the-rack hats seemed like a good idea.

This is Capitan Hat, a free pattern by Rosie Garmendia. Cooper’s is knit in Valley Yarns Superwash Bulky, the Webs house brand. It comes in 26 colorways and, unfortunately, what I had in my stash was not the most exciting of them. But I pressed “tan” into service anyway and I’m quite pleased with the results. I was concerned if the two-surface brim would hold up without stiffener inside. It does.

Here’s a view of the interesting crown decreases:

Just the thing for a baseball fan, I’d say.

This next one is an old stand-by. Cooper has a connection to Michigan State University so the Sparties were the inspiration.

This is a vintage (but still available) Fiber Trends pattern: “School Colors Hat, AC-53,” by Betsy Lee McCarthy. That’s a double roll brim. You start out with the green and do reverse stockinette. Then you do the white, in stockinette, then the green at the top. You sort of pull the white down and roll it back on itself, so the reverse side shows, and then the green from the first band of knitting falls in place.

Bottom line: follow this pattern exactly as it’s written and it will all work out. There are no errors.

I wanted something very comfy so I used Berrocco Comfort, worsted weight. No scratchiness.

Very well-behaved crown decreases.

Bet you can’t make just one!

This next hat is another Susan Villas Lewis’s “The Thinker.” I have knit so many Thinkers it’s getting kind of embarrassing to keep linking to them all. But search for Thinker here on my blog and up they’ll pop.

Cooper’s is knit in Plymouth Yarn Worsted Merino Superwash Solid. Soft. Easy care. Great stitch definition.

My trusty Clover pompom maker worked overtime on this batch of hats.

I know, The Thinker in this size doesn’t fit Glass Head really well. But Cooper’s a little guy.

Cooper like clowns. So I bought a skein of clownish-looking Plymouth Yarn Toybox Candy. It’s  an acrylic that can’t help but put a smile on someone’s face.

This is Purl Soho’s “Classic Cuffed Hat,” another freebie available on Ravelry and on the Purl Soho website. Everything this designer produces is classic. Sophisticated. So I gave in to the temptation to knit her design in a gaudy colorway. That’s because Purl Soho patterns go to art galleries. In New York City. They practice yoga. But Cooper’s Classic Cuffed Hat shouts.

And this last hat is Clayoquot Toque, a modern fair isle freebie from tincanknits that tincan says is a great blank canvas for testing yarns and color combinations. It really is. I wasn’t sure about whether these three colorways of Shalimar Yarns Breathless DK would play nice together.

But I think they did. And this 75% merino, 15% cashmere goat, 10% silk concoction is so soft it should keep a little guy’s head brightly covered but not overheated.