Two weeks ago today, I started off on a week of vacation, with high hopes for accomplishments in knitting and having fun.  Alas, it was not to be.  Instead, I had most of a week of sickness followed by most of a week of medicatedness.  So I have accomplished very little knitting recently.  I’m doing better now, so I’ll show you what I have, which is some swatches for Meg.

First is this one, which I finished before I got sick, but have not shown till now because it is part of Meg’s current club.  It has been distributed, though, so I can show it.  This colorway is called Dusk, and I love it.  I haven’t decided what to make in it, but I will be putting in a request when Meg’s ready to dye it again at the end of the club.  Here it is:

The stitch is a simple basketweave variant – one of those “just start knitting and see how it comes out” stitches I’ve been swatching a lot lately.  Not the best, but sufficient to show the beauty of the colors (though, as usual, my camera does not do it justice).

Next comes one that I finished in the early days of my sickness.  This is the second colorway of the month for Meg’s club, and my husband really loves it.  It’s called Hijinx.

This simple pattern stitch seems to me to show off the colors really well.  I love simple texture stitches, and this is a beauty.  Every other row knit, the others P3, K1, staggered.  Very little thought, but a lovely dense result.

This week as I emerged from my stupor, I started work on some of the samples Meg gave me of current colorways.  First is Zoinks, a fascinating colorway that looks totally different depending on the base yarn.  (They all vary, but this one is an extreme case.)

I was looking for a stitch that wouldn’t cause the back of the tube (the stockinette side) to buckle.  Slipped stitches tend to do that.  I suddenly thought that maybe if I did multiple wraps on the slipped stitch, it would work out well.  I experimented with variants of that thought – reverse stockinette with the double wraps on the first reverse stockinette row then with the double wraps on the knit row, garter, eyelets.  There are three stripes of each of those, starting at the right.  I like the second one, probably the simplest, which is in purple to green in the sample.  That version might be worth trying on a sock or fingerless glove.

Next came a Ravelry sample.  (These are the colors used on the Ravelry site, and Meg has had this colorway available for several years.)

Sorry for the extra-bad photo.  This one is the same idea as the previous swatch, but scaled up.  One variant in this stands out for me, the one with Irish knots.  Here’s a closeup.

I think Irish knots are a really useful stitch maneuver – you knit and purl multiple times in the same stitch, then pass all loops but one over the last.  It’s way simpler to execute than a bobble and often gives a look I prefer.  And I think they did kind of nicely as emphasis for the center of a five by five square of stitches.

For the last few days, I’ve progressed enough in energy to work quite a bit on my Herbivore.  It’s looking gorgeous.  It takes a lot of time but very little thought, so it’s perfect for someone with reduced energy reserves.  Which is still me.  So I’m knitting mostly on it for the time being.  Hope you all are doing well!

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Ziprelaxagons with a little Herbivore

I’ll start by showing you what I worked on all week at work last week – my Herbivore.  When I last showed it, there was quite a lot of the central ribbed triangle, but just the very beginning of the ribbed triangles at the center front.  And the color was just about solid.  What I knit last week mostly was in a new shade – the original (in real life) is a gorgeous coral, and it’s now gently transitioning to a bright scarlet.  I wish I could capture the colors!  In this picture you can see that some kind of color change is taking place, and you can see that the outer triangles are well under way.  And the rows are getting quite long already.  Looking forward to the result.

From Thursday evening to last night (Monday) I’ve been working on knit samples for Meg’s club yarns that will be going out very shortly.  Two colorways I’m looking forward to knitting!  But today (I’m on vacation this week, by the way) I had the time to get back to my Ziprelaxagons.  What a fun pattern!  This morning I finished tier 3 and got my husband to take a few shots of the sock on my foot, because it fits my foot much better than the foot dummy.  Here is one of those:

This view shows the two kinds of hexagons.  The flat ones (at the toe) are the same ones as on the sole, but the three at the top here are the stretchy kind, with ridges.  Love them, and love the marvelous details on this pattern.  Kristen has given lots of ways to get the size right – I think these are going to work fine, but if they don’t it will be my fault, not hers!  The tricks she uses to knit the whole foot without cutting the yarn are really ingenious and should be useful in all kinds of modular knitting.   That’s one of the reasons I’m awfully glad I’m knitting this pattern.  I also like how the colors are coming out.  In this view, you can see that the early hexagons are mostly either orange or green, but this pattern is changing so that there are more of the combination type.  (I think the stretchy kind of hexagon, which we’re working with from now on, because it has more rows is more likely to be a combo type.)  I like them both ways.

So this afternoon, I went ahead and put in the heel.  There’s one hex that goes under the heel and two that cover the back of the heel.  What a difference it makes to the fit!  I decided to just go ahead and get some photos at this stage on the sock dummy.  Here’s the bottom of the foot:

Doesn’t that fit beautifully?  And here is one of the sides:

Stretched out, this even fits the foot dummy pretty well.  A highly entertaining knit, and I think I’m really going to like the socks, too!  And it’s inspiring me to think about designing some more complex shapes.  For some reason, I find myself wanting to knit a doll with quite a bit of shaping and minimal seaming.  Don’t know that I will, but I think it would be fun.

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What I’m Knitting Now

I’m not a monogamous knitter (no surprise to anyone who’s read this blog for a while) but I’m really having a hard time sticking to one thing just now.  I have four projects that are truly active at the moment, and I thought it would be a good time to show you what they are.

The one of these that has been going on the longest is the socks I’m making for Meg out of Intrigue, a lovely colorway from the last club.  This is the one where I’m doing moss stitch in one color and sand stitch in the other.  I do like how they look, and so does Meg, so I really should work on them more.  I just finished the first one and immediately cast on for the second.  (This not only helps guard against second-sock syndrome for me, but also ensures that I get the same needles for the second sock.)  Here is the first sock:

I must say that I think the gusset shaping on this one is cool.  It’s really just about invisible.  I also had recorded on Ravelry the idea that I might switch patterns between the colors in the second sock.  I have the feeling, though, that there is more purple than blue, and I like sand stitch better than moss, so maybe I won’t.  Meg actively likes differences in the two socks of a pair, though, so maybe I will.  Hmmm.

The next oldest project that’s still going is my Boomerang in Tasty, in the Juliet colorway from last club.  I love the colorway, love the shaping of the pattern, but I think I may have gotten carried away with the patterning.  Here’s an overall view of the piece:

It’s already about 18″ long, and I’ve used about 20 grams, with about 85 remaining.  So there is quite a bit more length to come before I hit the halfway mark.  I think it may be a very nice size when it gets done (or if).  Here’s a closeup of the part where I threw in the garter panel in the center.

I’m not sure whether I like the effect or not, and it is a bit of a nuisance to keep track of.  So should I go back to the start of the garter part and switch to all sand?  Or kill the whole thing?  Or just keep going?  More questions.

I’ve got an Evolution in Arial in a colorway called Dazzle that I’ve been struggling over what to do with.  I’ve tried about four things and didn’t like anything much at all until my latest try.  I decided to try Herbivore.  This is a pattern that I knit a doll-sized sample of and really liked the shape of.  It’s easy knitting (good work knitting).  It’s going to be pretty big, I think – a double evolution in Arial has a lot of yards.  But it’s looking elegant even in the starting color (which is pretty close to solid for Meg, and pretty long) and I suspect the later changes will be gorgeous.  I think this is probably a good fit with this yarn.  At any rate, I think I will keep going on this one.

And lastly, I’m working on the Ziprelaxagon Socks by Kirsten Hall.  One of my most loyal commenters, Sarah of Live and Let Knit and Craft test knit these socks and I knew I wanted to try them.  The pattern came out last week and I snapped it up.  I started by trying out the Tasty in Juliet that I’m using for Boomerang (other end of the ball) and the sample hexagons knit up beautifully and lay nice and flat – but were much too big.  And the color change is just a bit too slow also.

So I decided to try the other end of my ball of Marigold on Arial which was currently in use for Betiko.  These are much lumpier at this point, but I love the colors, and the sample hexagons measured just right.  I’ve finished the first two tiers of hexagons, and have tried them on.  And I can’t tell much at all.  So I’m going to keep going.  Here is how the start looks at the moment, on one of my sock dummies.  (And my foot is definitely fatter than that dummy’s.)

Do you see that the hexagon at the center top of that photo is different from the others?  This is typical of the attention to detail on this pattern.  And I’ve always loved modular knits, which these socks definitely are – but with a twist or several.  Fun all the way!

I’m also busy gearing up for the second Knit and Crochet Blogging week, organized by the gracious Eskimimi.

Further details on this event can be found here.  For anyone who doesn’t know, this is an event where anyone can sign up to join lots of other bloggers in posting every day (or as desired) for the week.  There is a topic for each day, as well as a wildcard topic in case one of the daily topics just doesn’t resonate with you.  I had lots of fun with this last year and will definitely be joining in again.  I’m busy getting ready for Day 5 now – this is a really interesting one.

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Completed Cowl

Last night I finished my cowl.  As always, the end took longer than I thought.  I knit until I got towards the end of my yarn, then started weighing my yarn after every round.  It was the first time I’ve done that, and I really did like knowing when I was going to be running low and needed to start binding off.

I had been adding stitches between the cables regularly as the cowl grew to fit over my shoulders.  I put those stitches into a combination of knits and purls.  Early on, I added a three-stitch cable, and right towards the end, I threw in two more of them.  I decided that the main section of the cowl should end after round 1 of the smaller cable, where the cross was.  So when I had finished that, I converted most of the stitches to seed stitch, leaving all the three-stitch cables in place.  I’m not sure that the effect is great, but I like it quite a bit and I didn’t have any better ideas, so that’s what will stay.

Here is a photo of the finished cowl, showing the details pretty well.

I’ve had it on all day, and it feels lovely and warm.   Here’s a side view to show you how it works on.

I love how the dark color on the edge looks!

I also want to show you a picture of Tobias modeling the gauntlets.  I must say they aren’t as long as I was thinking they were – they come a lot closer to my elbows, for some reason.  Perhaps because he’s already a couple of inches over 6 feet and has arms that are long for his height?

Tobias has a more serious approach to modeling than his sister or grandfather.  But he was totally willing and gracious about it.  I will be very glad to make a few more pairs of fingerless mitts for various family members.  They aren’t as useful as socks (to my way of thinking) but they are nonetheless well worth having around.  I need to design a few more!

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Progress and some Modeling

Today I finished the Gillaspie Gothic Gauntlets for Tobias.  I really want to get some pictures of them on him, but until he drops by I will substitute a couple of other shots that demonstrate that there are now two gauntlets.  With thumbs, no less.

First is this shot of the back of both gauntlets:

I discovered when I went to finish the second gauntlet that I had failed to follow a nice detail of the pattern. The stitch that’s repeated vertically a few times on the back of the hand is supposed to be reversed on the very top, and I just repeated it instead. (I don’t know what it is about knitters that makes us so inclined to deliberately point out mistakes we’ve made. But I know I’m not alone in doing so!)

And here is a shot designed to emphasize that these gauntlets are actually based on armor. We happen to have a shield in the house – left over from Halloween or some such – and I thought I’d really like to combine the gauntlets with the shield. This is what I came up with. (There’s also a shot that shows the whole shield, but you can’t see the gauntlets very well and this is a knitting blog, after all.)  This shot shows the two sides of the gauntlets, which are very different, as well as a better view of a thumb.

Gauntlets and Shield 1

The pair weighs 105 grams out of my 100 gram skein – there’s only a little bit left. Good thing Meg is generous with her skein sizes! It didn’t occur to me to consider whether there was enough yarn until I was about halfway through the second mitt, and my scale led me to believe that all was well. That was a comfort!  The pattern was very entertaining to knit even for a second time, and I just love how they feel on.

In between the two gauntlets, while I was waiting to confirm the size, I worked on my Cabled Maple Cowl.  (I got right back on the gauntlet once Tobias tried on the first one – proof that I love both him and those gauntlets, because I am really enjoying that cowl!)  I took a couple of pictures of the cowl just before resuming work on the gauntlets.  Hazel was over, and I wanted to see how it would work on her.  At that point, it was still quite a good fit for her:
Cabled Maple - Hazel 1

(That shot was taken in front of Franklin’s dresser. It belonged to my grandmother, who got it from an old friend of hers, Mrs. Strawbridge of the family that founded the Strawbridge’s Department Store in Philadelphia. That’s a picture of his Aunt Minnie, who was born sometime around 1905. And the eggs are pysanky-style eggs made by Meg. You can see that he loves color in things other than knitting!)

The cowl not much further along now – maybe an inch longer. The deep burgundy color is starting to show. And I’m trying to figure out what to do with the shaping since I’ve reached the tips of my shoulders now. I’m still increasing at the moment – a garment that binds around the shoulders is not good. But I think it’s almost time to cut back on the increases – I can’t possibly stop now. I still have some gorgeous color to add!

Hazel was wearing the pretty hat that I gave her for Christmas, with the little flowers on it, so I finally got some shots of her wearing that. This one shows the hat pretty well and shows Hazel even better. You can see that Franklin’s skill at modeling has been inherited by at least one grandchild!

Hazel's Xmas Hat Ohh

I’m progressing with the cowl (at least when I’m not doing something like blogging!) Hopefully I will have more of it to show you soon.   And then I hope to proceed with some of my other WIPs before I head on to pastures new.  We’ll see how that goes.

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Cabled Maple

Knitting Toby’s first gauntlet taught me quite a bit about Meg’s Yummy yarn base.  It’s around DK weight – that is thickness.  It feels absolutely superb to the touch, and it also has some real heft to it.  I have a cake of Meg’s Maple colorway (from the last club) in Yummy, and I’d been vaguely thinking of knitting a shawl from it.  But after using Yummy in a project, I decided that for my taste, I would prefer a cowl.  But not a tube-shaped cowl.  My neck is too short to make that practical.  Instead, I wanted one of the cowls that spreads out over the shoulders.  And I wanted something that would hug the neck.

I decided to try out some of the fascinating cables in Annie Maloney’s Aran Lace.  I picked out three and tried them out and selected two to use in my cowl.  They are number 12 – six stitches and six rows per repeat.  I like it a lot.  And number 44, which is 17 stitches by 12 rows.  I did a little math and found that p1, k1, p1, cable 12, p1, k1, p1, cable 44  (29 stitches) would make a nice quarter of the width at the start of the pattern.  I then arranged the stitches and figured out where I’d like to do increases after some ribbing and cut down to 104 stitches to start.  So I cast on and knit for around 4 inches in K1, P1 ribbing, then started my pattern.  I’ve been charting as I go in Excel, and am currently adding 4 stitches to each repeat every 6 rows, which is working out to be a nice smooth fit over the shoulders.  I’ve currently knit about 65 grams with about 85 grams left.

My pictures are really bad, I’m sorry to say, but I’m going to post them anyway.  Here’s how it looks with the ribbing spread out.  I won’t wear it that way, but if I were really cold I could spread it over my mouth.  This photo also shows the rest of my yarn.  You can see the color change is pretty dramatic!

Here is how it looks with the green end of the ribbing tucked inside.  I have tried it on that way, and it’s very comfortable, so I think I will wear it that way sometimes.

And here is a partial picture (I just couldn’t stand how I looked in this one) that I’ve captured so I can show people how it would look knit with various lengths of yarn.  Because I think this would be a lovely little cowl if worked a couple more rows (to the end of two vertical repeats of the 12-row pattern) and bound off.  But that’s not what I’m doing!

This is an absolutely lovely knit to work on.  I’m enjoying it so much I can scarcely bring myself to stop working on it long enough to make this post!  Back to knitting right now.


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The Gauntlet that Ate My Weekend

As I mentioned before, I promised my grandson Tobias (I keep slipping and calling him Toby, but I’m trying to learn) that I would make him a pair of the Gillaspie Gothic Gauntlets I found on Ravelry.  I’ve been wanting to make them, and on Friday I got the yarn from Meg.  It’s a nearly-solid gray coordinate to her new colorway Crush.

I got it in the last base yarn in the photo – Yummy.  And it is!  It’s Merino / Cashmere / Nylon (80/10/10).   And it’s a very round and smooth yarn.  It’s delightful to knit with, and it makes a marvelous-feeling fabric.

I started the gauntlet on Saturday morning.  And I worked on it for most of the day.  I kept telling myself I was going to do something else, and I kept not stopping.  I finally stopped this morning (after three more hours of knitting) once the body of the first mitt was done.  It was such fun!  I really like the pattern.  The amount of variation is amazing.  I love making things that aren’t monotonous, and this really wasn’t.  The pattern is not perfect, but it’s easy enough to figure out what’s wrong.  I love how it looks, mostly.  Here’s the back:

I haven’t added the thumb yet – I want Tobias to try it on first.  And you can see that the top of the cuff is definitely too large.  That’s mostly my fault.  I was using size 4 (3.5 mm) needles when I began.  I worked about 6 rows that way and decided it was too big.  I went to size 2 (2.75) thinking I’d try them and see how it went.  And I couldn’t stop, so I never corrected the beginning.  Oh, well, the metal gauntlets often seem to look quite flared at that point.  But look at all the action that’s going on in that pattern!  It was such fun to make, and I think it really does give an “armor” appearance.  Here’s the palm side:

Look at the detail on that side.  And you can see that the thumb has its own pattern.  Totally entertaining to knit.

And how it feels?  Wow, this yarn is just incredibly smooth on the skin.  Hazel was over this afternoon and I showed this to her.  She said it looked very nice, but she obviously wasn’t thrilled with it.  Then she tried it on.  “I want it!”  she said.  And that’s kind of how I feel.  I need a pair of long mitts in this yarn.  And so does Hazel.  She wants one in colors – Crush (see above) is a colorway she really likes, so that may be what she gets.

I also have 350 yards of this yarn in a colorway called Maple from the last club, which is absolutely gorgeous.  And now I know I don’t want a shawl out of this.  I want something cabled.  I think a big cowl, to cover the neck and shoulders.  I’m swatching for it now.  But once the size of this gauntlet is confirmed, the second one will be knit soon.  I’m looking forward to it!

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After One comes …

You guessed it!  There are now two fingerless mitts.  I spent most of yesterday working on it, but it was worth it.  Franklin has been wearing them quite a bit – I’m hoping he will actually end up finding them useful.  Here is an action shot – showing fingerless mitts as they’re meant to be used:

Franklin's Purple Mitts in ActionAnd here’s another shot of the mitts, if you can even notice them with Franklin mugging it up as he’s inclined to do!

Franklin and his Purple MittsOn the whole, I’m quite pleased with how they came out. I think the central cable is truly elegant. I enjoy how it grows out of the wrist pattern. And I also think the top effect (almost circular) came out surprisingly well. I didn’t use any tricky techniques, just plain cables with one P2 tog in the ribbing above the cable. But I don’t think the miniature cable on the sides really worked out – it just won’t fit on the back of the wrist.  So, not bad but not a triumph either.

I also discovered a pattern by MMario called Boomerang.  I really like this shape!  The key here is that you increase every other row on one side while you’re decreasing every fourth row on the other side.  I thought that shape wouldn’t work with an Evolution but might look great with a striping yarn.  I had a skein of Juliet in Tasty, so I had to try it out.  Here’s how it looks at this point:

Boomerang 1I’ve varied from the pattern in several ways.  First of all, I changed the increases from K1f&b at the edge to YOs inside the three garter stitch border.  I also switched from stockinette with random garter ridges to sand stitch first.  I then decided (just a few rows ago) that I would throw in an inner panel of purl garter stitch.  We’ll see how that works out.  But so far, I’m loving the shape of this.

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A Great Shawl Design

One of the blogs that I read is called “do stuff!” which is a great name for it.  This is the blog of the very talented young Lee Meredith aka Leethal.  She has come up with some really interesting knitting designs – though that is by no means all the craftiness she is up to!  A couple of months ago her blog featured a new shawl design by her called Betiko.  This is a very versatile (and thorough) pattern.  Here are a couple of the shawls Lee made with the pattern.  The first one has stripes that help elucidate the unusual architecture of the shawl.

This second one shows the insertion of some serious patterning into the shawl.

I immediately wanted that pattern and bought it right away.  And cast on immediately.  And knit some of the very interesting first section.  Here’s what it looks like.

This shows the end I’m currently knitting and also displays the row of neat little stitches waiting to start the next section.  I love the pattern, and I think it will be fascinating in this striped yarn.  So what’s stopping me from proceeding?  Well, it’s a little matter of needles.  The one I’m knitting it on is not long enough, and I don’t have another that is.  Mind you, that needle is a very special one – the Signature circular that I asked for for Christmas.  It’s a marvelous needle.  I want more.  And I need to get more needles in size 6 (4 mm).  That turns out to be one of the sizes I have very few of.  Unlike size 4 (3.5 mm) of which I have at least 10 circulars not currently in use.  It seems to me that usually when I’ve bought needles recently I’ve got two each of size 1 through 3 (2.25 mm through 3.25 mm) but you couldn’t prove it by looking at my needle collection.  I’ve got lots of 0 (2 mm), a significant collection of 2.25 and 2.5 mm, then almost none in 2.75, 3 or 3.25 mm.  At least not in my needle holder.  And I can’t find many in WIPs.  So either I just don’t buy the way I think I do, or I lose needles a lot.

At any rate, I really do need to get some more in the 2.75 through 3.25 range, plus some more 4 mm.  I really do want to continue with Betiko sometime soon.  And free up the Signature needle for something that it can comfortably hold.  Better just put in another knitpicks order, I guess.  Soon.

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First Mitt; Sock Progress

I’ve been working mostly on Franklin’s fingerless mitts lately, since I really want him to have a chance to try them out while it’s still cold.  So the first one is done.  I haven’t got modeled photos yet; will hopefully have some for the next post.  Here is a flat picture that gives the overall feel and the color pretty well:

And this picture gives a much better feel for the cable.  In real life, the cable stands out beautifully, much closer to this detail picture than to the one above.  (And of course, real life is much less blurry.)  I love the way this cable has three twisted ribs which merge into and then regrow out of a large braided cable.  Annie Maloney has such fun cables!  I wasn’t sure how to end the mitt, so I decided to turn the top of the cable into a simple and not very elegant circle style.  I rather like how it came out for just decreasing, no fancy maneuvers.

I’m pleased to say that I’m about an inch into the second one.  For me second sock, mitt, etc. syndrome seems to be preventable if I get started on the second right away.  Usually, anyhow.

In between bits of progress on the mitts, partly at work, I’ve made some more progress on Meg’s Moss and Sand socks.  These are the ones I’m doing in her Intrigue colorway with bands of Moss Stitch wherever the prevailing color is blue and Sand Stitch for the pink.  I decided to try one of my integral gussets.  Usually I follow the inspiration I got from the Tongue River Farm Sock Collection and make these gussets in a complementary pattern.  This time, I decided to just work increases into the pattern stitch.  The result is the least conspicuous gusset I’ve ever made.  Here’s a photo of it:

(The funny bump on the right side of the picture is the tip of the yarn end showing.)  I’ve already turned the heel in this shot.  I’ve ended up with not quite as many stitches as I would have expected for the sole.  Also, the heel part is shorter than usual.  And I’m a bit nervous that the cast on isn’t loose enough.  So I’ll have to get Meg to try this on to see whether or not to keep going.  Even if I do decide to frog and start again, I think I’ll start this sock again, just with some details changed.  I love this sock, and it suits Meg’s tastes very well.


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