Yowza and one thing leading to another

I’ve only rarely knit with Miss Babs. It always seemed like a lot of buck for the bang. But this set of 100% merino DK weight Yowza really captured me. And so did Boxes and Towers by Kirsten Kapur.

I am basically speechless, OK wordless, about how much I like this wrap.

I can’t get enough of looking at it and petting it.

I made very few modifications to the pattern. It calls for the knitter to cut the yarn and reattach the next color on each piece of the towers and boxes. Speaking of “yowza,” why would I do that and be left with all those ends to weave in? I didn’t cut the yarn except where new colors were needed in a new section. I carried the unused yarn up the side of the piece. It worked fine, including when I needed to pick up stitches along the side where the yarns twisted. When picking up stitches, I made sure to catch the float between the stitches, not merely the yarn being twisted along the edge. I was also careful to twist the yarn the same way each time, bringing the yarn I was using under the yarn I wasn’t using. I don’t know how necessary that was in this piece but I’m obsessive about such things. And I kept it loose and didn’t tighten up the yarn being carried.

The only other modification I made to the pattern was to increase the width of the edging a bit. I purled one round, knit one round, purled one round, and then worked the Icelandic bind-off–instead of picking up the stitches and immediately binding off. I did a yarn over at each side of the corner stitch on each of the three edge rounds.

Here’s another look at Boxes and Towers.

Yowza was wonderful to work with. No knots. No globby sections. The dye creates some heathering in the colorways, but there were no white blotches of undyed yarn. I’d use it again in a heartbeat. I liked working with it so much that I was determined to knit up every yard of it I could. Boxes and Towers required me to purchase six skeins of 200 yards each. The wrap used up about 800 yards. I needed to put that last 400 yards or so to good use. I had 28 grams left of Oakmoss (the green), Haydrick (the gold), Earthenware (the light burnt orange), and Slot Canyon (the light rosy shade). I had 20 grams left of Polished Stone (the gray), and 32 left of Sealpoint (the beige)–so, a total of 164 grams, about 400 yards.

I am really liking how my leftovers turned out.

Both the hat and the cowl are tincanknits knits from their “Mad Colours” book. The patterns are also downloadable on Ravelry. I just wanted to mention the book because I love to spell colors the wrong way, just like the Canadians and Brits. Just kidding. Live and let spell. The cowl is Undertone and the hat is the triangle version of their Prism hat.

I bet you spotted my little cheat–that spicey orange in the ribbing and alternating rows of the cowl. Yep, that’s not Yowza. It’s another oddment from my stash. It’s String Theory merino DK in the Rose Madder colorway. It really anchored the pieces, I think. It also left me enough Yowza to make an extravagant pompom.

Here’s another angle on the pompom, since knitters know that we knit in an era when you can work up some pretty elaborate hats and the first thing people say is…all together now…”I love the pompom.” Here’s another look at the pompom. It is a pretty good one.

Here’s a closer look at Undertone. It’s a quick, fun knit, with lots of potential for interesting color play.

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.

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.