Vanishing Weeks

Time, time, time. Gone, gone, gone. I suppose I should resign myself to once-a-month posts and not expect anything different for a while. My apologies, friends, I do miss sharing in this space and reading all your blogs. I will have to work on a different system now that my leisure/computer time is more limited due to this sweet 8.5 month old.

Despite the presence of a distractingly cute young fella, I have managed to finish a couple of things since the last time we spoke (6 weeks ago!). First, my fabulously simple Wine Toasts:

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The Verdent Gryphon Zaftig, colorways Kiss of Cabernet and Russian Sage.

I played a game of yarn chicken with these suckers, and I actually won! Yay for using up leftovers. I linked them to the Toast pattern but these are literally just a stockinette tube with rolled edges. I lengthened and gradually tapered them to accommodate my larger forearms so they’d be the perfect thing to wear with elbow-length sleeve sweaters that are flattering on me but not ideal for my chilly office.

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Stripey goodness.

I love their size, and they are knit with one of my all-time favorite yarns (VG Zaftig = worsted weight superwash Merino / chashmere / nylon). Next time, I’d skip the rolled hem and just do some ribbing. This project confirmed that rolled hems annoy the crap out of me when worn, even though they look fun.

The second thing I’ve finished lately was knit for a friend’s bridal shower: Jola Smittens.

Her sister was organizing a “seasons of love” gift basket idea so I chose the winter basket specifically so I would have an excuse to make these ridiculous and adorable conjoined mittens. (Plus, I got to fill the basket with lots of fun coffe/tea/cookies/mugs/blankets/etc. which was oh-so-cozy.) I knit this using KnitPicks Brava bulky (an acrylic yarn) held double. The yarn is quite soft and was surprisingly pleasant to knit with, except for the fact that it tangled like crazy as I worked with it. Apparently, acrylic really likes to stick to itself, especially when it’s wound too loosely. Nevertheless, they came out well and were fairly simple. The Fiasco has declared he wants a pair for us.

Now that those are finished, I don’t have much on the needles that I’m actively working on. I’ve started another Pussyhat because rage, rage forever but otherwise… I’m in project limbo. I took a Webs trip recently (details of recent yarn acquisitions forthcoming) so I have lots of ideas, and just need to pick one to commit to. (Hahahaha, one.)

I hope you’ve all had lovely Februaries and Marches thus far!

 

FOFri #46: All I Finish Are Hats

I seem to have finished knitting hats, and only hats (ok, except for one pair of gift socks), since November. Eight hats in five months, two of which you can find here, one here (which I knit twice), one more here, and the remaining three in this post.

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Speckles for baby and me.

Happily, all the plain stockinette that’s involved in knitting a Sockhead Slouch Hat (designed by Kelly McClure) is totally worth it, because I adore the finished product. The colors are my favorite, the speckles make me happy, the ribbing is super cozy, and the length is just right for a good amount of slouch. I modified a few things in my version: I used a sport-weight yarn (BMFA Socks That Rock Mediumweight), cast on fewer stitches (136), and knit to a shorter length (10.5″ total) before the crown  decreases. This removed some slouch and is just right for my head. I will update my project page with measurements later, as I did not get a chance to do so yet.

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For the wee one.

Because I COULD NOT RESIST, I knit a wee baby hat for Hatchling so that we could be all matchy-matchy. I really should have done longer ribbing for the rolled-up brim, but alas I did not. I used the same yarn and needles (2.75 mm) and cast on 88 stitches in a gauge of 7 sts/inch, for a hat that should be approximately 12.5″ around after blocking, unstretched. Newborn heads are typically 13″ or so, but with the stretchiness of the fabric and the fact that I can roll the brim down as the kid grows, I’m hoping the hat will continue to fit for a while, because that little i-cord loop at the top is just too damn precious.

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Frida for a friend.

I had intended to make this hat (Fidra, designed by Gudrun Johnston) for my friend’s December birthday. However, it’s March, and it’s still sitting in my house. It went through a failed iteration with inappropriate yarn, and then waited weeks for a pom-pom, and now I just haven’t gotten around to mailing it. Despite that, the finished product is pretty fabulous. Knit with the called-for yarn (BT Quarry) and needles, it’s actually a little snug, so I hope she likes it as I know she likes her hats on the bigger side. If you’re finding the Quarry yarn difficult to work with (it’s basically unplied pencil roving) I’d recommend going up a needle size or using metal instead of bamboo. Going up a size would give everything a bit more room to move around and the size would probably still work out fine.

So there are my hats! Sorry none of them are modeled, I haven’t had time for proper photoshoots lately. When the kiddo arrives I’ll be sure to take a mommy-and-me shot in matching hats, middle-of-summer heat waves be damned. 😉

FOFri #45: This Did Not Take 2 Weeks

Friends, I have been in a knitting-blogging-creative rut. I finished the hat I will show you below over 2 weeks ago, and am just now getting a chance to blog about it. All my other knitting feels ‘stuck’ for one reason or another. I seem to have lost my crafting mojo and so have been majorly procrastinating the following:

  • making the pom-pom for my Fidra hat,
  • knitting my current socks because I lost the index card on which I drew the chart and I can’t be bothered to draw another,
  • knitting my sockhead hat because I need to look up how long to make it before decreasing and I feel like I’m almost there,
  • knitting my baby sweater because I need to wind yarn for the trim color
  • winding yarn because I lost an integral piece of my swift when I moved a couple of moths ago and have yet to locate it,
  • organizing my yarn bins, in hopes of finding that piece of my swift, which would also clean up my room, and
  • spinning, because I’m too lazy to not sit on the couch in the evenings.

There are things I want to do, and the impulses to do them are there, but by the time I get home from work, I would just rather curl up on the couch and read or watch TV or sleep. This is not normal for me. Prior to pregnancy, that sort of blatant inactivity wouldn’t happen before 10 pm, and TV-watching was ALWAYS accompanied by crafting. Now it’s happening at 7 pm and I’m feeling too physically tired to do anything crafty, so I’m losing all of my productive evening hours, and going to bed early to boot. I’m just going to go ahead and blame the fetus, but still. I feel like I’m wasting away my last few child-free months of crafting time!

Anywho, onto the hat.

 

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Malabrigo Mecha in Vaa, click for project page.

I started this simple, waffle-stitch hat when my coworker announced that he was moving on to bigger and better things. And since he was my science buddy at work, he got a hat. I used Malabrigo Mecha in Vaa, one of my favorite thicker-weight yarns for gift knitting (the other is Malabrigo Chunky). Mecha is a single-ply, superwash Merino wool that is (in my opinion) thinner than the bulky weight  at which it’s listed (and definitely thinner than Mal Chunky). I cast on 72 stitches and used size 9 needles, which gave me a nice tension and a perfect size, and the hat took me about .

I’m particularly enamored with the way the decreases worked out. Since I couldn’t be bothered to write down what I did, I will probably never be able to replicate it, but I know that I decreased later than I typically would and more often per round in order to get a very fast, concentric-looking decrease.

And that’s all I’ve accomplished lately! My Fidra hat is nearly there, though (just one pom-pom away…) and I’m hoping I can find that swift piece soon so I can wind yarn more easily and get moving on some other projects I have in mind.

What do you do when you’ve lost your crafting mojo? How do you get your groove back?

 

FOFri #44: Two Hats, Plus Tassels

Two FO Friday posts in a row?! I think it’s fair to say that I’m on a roll, especially because this post contains two FOs. The speediness of hat knitting is one of my favorite things.

Antlers for Dad:

I busted this project out in just 5 days. FIVE DAYS, WOOT! Then it took forever to dry, so it arrived well past my Dad’s birthday, but still… I made the effort? The pattern is the free Antler Hat by TinCanKnits and it’s a really fun, zippy little project. I knit it in the Madelinetosh Vintage called for and absolutely, 100% love that yarn. It’s a dense, tightly-twisted worsted weight superwash Merino with a nice, smooth hand that is perfect for cables (though it takes a while to dry).

FOFri #43: Two Hats | Woolen Diversions

Tidy hat crowns make me unabashedly happy, blurriness and all.

I knit the adult small, but be warned that the cables make the hat quite snug. Anyone with a head bigger than my 20.5″ one will likely prefer the large. Also, if you’re aiming to wear it slouchy style, you’ll want a larger size and to knit an extra couple of repeats. This size only looks good worn as a beanie with a folded brim, otherwise it’s an awkward length. Knit as written, highly recommended.

Norby & Pease:

And next, I finished my Norby hat, designed by Gudrun Johnston. I’m really pleased with the way the colors worked out, despite my prior indecision. I think repeating the final gradient color throughout the crown of the hat was the most harmonious way to go, and I really love how well this hat coordinates with my Kelp-y Kelpie shawl. In order to add the colorful garter ridges, I had to add a plain knit row into each pattern repeat before the first purl row. This allowed the contrast color to show up properly. This probably lengthened my hat a bit. I had also modified the width to remove one pattern repeat, as it was far too big for my head otherwise. As it is, it’s so lightweight in the woolen-spun Loft yarn that it feels like it could slip right off my head, so I’m glad I made it more snug.

FOFri #43: Two Hats | Woolen Diversions

Tassels!

I wasn’t sure I would add the tassels, a friend of mine basically said they make the hat look like a sleeping cap, but I admit I’m rather fond of them. They were pretty easy/fun to make, too. There is a decent photo tutorial in the pattern, but I took some pics of my own, as well.

  1. Wind yarn around two pieces of cardboard separated by a pen. Thread additional yarn onto a needle, looped on itself twice. Tie a knot.
  2. Secure knotted end of yarn to something sturdy and twist, twist, twist.
  3. Thread twisted yarn through the cardboard under the wrapped yarn, being careful to hold on to both ends of the twisted pieces of yarn so you don’t lose the twist (this is the tricksy bit, especially while attempting to take a photo).
  4. Allow the twisted pieces to twist back on themselves, forming the tassel strand. Then carefully cut the end of the wrapped pieces of yarn that’s furthest from the tassel strand. Use another piece of yarn to wrap around the top of the tassel.

Securing the tassels to the inside of the hat was a bit of a crapshoot, I’m not sure there’s an easy way to explain what I did but it was basically something like “thread the multiple ends of each tassel strand into the fabric of the hat on the inside, then knot them together”. Not neat or tidy, but it did the trick.

I love these hats, tassels and all. Have you made any tasseled accessories?

FOFri #43: Kelp-y Kelpie Shawl

I am finally getting around to posting FO pics for this project, begun at the beginning of 2014.

FOFri #43: Kelp-y Kelpie Shawl

Gotta love the bikes in the background… Click for project page.

I’m a huge fan of Jared Flood’s Brooklyn Tweed designs, and this Kelpie Shawl was no exception. As soon as a I saw it, I wanted to knit it, and I knew I wanted to use the BT Loft yarn called for (in Sweatshirt). I agonized over color choices for the contrasting stripes, but in the end decided to use a gradient set I had just received as a gift (Black Trillium Fibre Pebble Sock in Pease). The shawl is constructed in a Shetland style, with the center garter stitch triangle knit first and YO holes along the edges picked up to knit the border afterwards.

Because this is a BT pattern and they love their finishing, there’s also a bit of picking up stitches and adding a garter stitch border to the top of the shawl once complete. This is fiddly but not difficult (although it did prevent me from finishing in time for Rhinebeck). The pattern is well-written and easy to follow. My shawl stalled out for so many months because I used the wrong color to pick up the 180+ edge stitches the first time (I used a contrast color when you were supposed to continue with the main color) and just severely procrastinated ripping out and starting again. The only complaint I have about the pattern is that all that garter stitch in the edging is made by PURLING EVERY STITCH instead of knitting. WTF, Jared? Whatever possessed you to think that was a good idea? By the time I realized what was happening, I was too far in. If I make this again, I’ll throw in a plain knit row somewhere to get on a ‘knit every row’ pattern for the garter stitch ridges.

FOFri #43: Kelp-y Kelpie Shawl | Woolen Diversions

Blocking took all my pins!

The yarn is… different. It is very high on the fluff and squish factor, and very low on the drape and smooth factor, because it is a woolen-spun yarn. Woolen yarns are spun with fibers going every-which-way so that they trap more air and provide more warmth. This also makes them slightly less strong and slightly more prone to pilling than worsted-spun yarns, where the fibers are aligned in the same direction. The Loft is very elastic and has lots of bounce, so the finished garment sort of perches around my neck, rather than drapes. And to be honest, purling hundreds of stitches of this fuzzy yarn with point needles was a tad torturous. It makes a shawl I associate with words like “workhorse” and “cozy” rather than “elegant” and “dressy”. The triangular shawl shape makes it a tad less easy to wear kerchief-style than if it were crescent-shaped due to the shorter wingspan, but it’s still a generous enough size to wrap around my large frame.

All told, I’m glad I knit with Loft, I love the gradient in the stripes, and I’m happily working away on a coordinating hat, so I’m sure this shawl will get a lot of use. Have you knit with a woolen spun yarn before? How did you like the results?

FOFri #41 : Socks & Swatches

After a couple of busy weeks, I’ve finally had time to sit down and wrap up the toes of not one but TWO pairs of socks!

FOFri #41: Socks & Swatches | Woolen Diversions

We sort of match, and it’s adorable.

I think it’s safe to say that my sock mojo is officially back. I’ve finished 6 pairs of socks thus far this year! That’s almost a pair a month, which is way faster than my sock finishing rate of the last few years. Plus, I knit the exact same pattern, twice, simultaneously. If that’s not fortitude, I don’t know what is. It probably helps that I adore both of the colorways and the slipped stitch patterning feels like it flies by.

My Favorite Socks Ever:

These are, indeed, my favorite socks ever. The pattern is Dalekanium by Dena Stelly. In truth, I didn’t actually follow the pattern (which is toe-up). I just borrowed the stitch pattern and stuck it on my typical 64-stitch cuff-down sock and tapered away the slipped stitch patterning just before I began the toe decreases. The yarn is Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks That Rock Lightweight (my faaaaaaaavorite) in the club colorway Gran’s Kitchen.

Stealth Socks:

And while I got brand new socks, the Fiasco did, too (so he can’t complain of neglect). His birthday socks were just about a week late, which isn’t too bad by my standards. The nice thing about his is that they went just as quickly as mine, despite his larger feet. That’s because I used BMFA Socks That Rock Heavyweight on size 2.75 mm needles to size up the socks instead of casting on more stitches. (Good thing he likes his socks cushy!) This is the Grimm colorway, and it’s fabulous.

Now that those socks are off the needles and I have a few trips in the near future, I’m itching to cast on some small, quick-but-interesting, portable projects. Which to me, means HATS.

FOFri #41: Socks & Swatches | Woolen Diversions

Swatches, all wet and wonky.

I’ve had two skeins of yarn begging to become hats that I want in my wardrobe like right now since mid-winter, but I just didn’t get a chance to knit them last season. Knitting them in August should give me a solid jump-start on accessories for fall, though!

Black Tea:

Photo copyright BabyCocktails. Click for pattern page.

I’ve been completely in love with this slouchy Black Tea hat pattern since I handled the sample during a class with the designer, Thea Colman, at a knitting event in January. I loved the sample so much that I even hunted down the exact yarn used in the pattern through a destash because I want to replicate the look and feel of the luxurious fabric. The yarn is Bello fingering by the Plucky Knitter (55% Merino wool, 45% cashmere), held double while knitting. Once dry, the swatch will help me determine if I want to use 6’s or 7’s for the main body of the hat. While I could’ve just followed the pattern, my head is a little smaller than most and I’ve never worked with this yarn before so I wanted to get a feel for it and my gauge before I jumped right in.

Paravel Hat:

Photo copyright Megan Goodacre. Click for pattern page.

The other hat will be made with a skein of BMFA BFL Superwash in their fun Sadie Sue Tipsy colorway. The blue in that colorway is the exact same shade of blue as my jacket (and my glasses, and my lampshade, and my wristwarmers…) which makes the color-coordination-lover in me very happy. I knew it wanted to become a hat, but I was debating between the Norby and Sockhead patterns until last night, when I found Paravel (designed by Megan Goodacre) and thought that the simple texture with the interesting lace panel would work well with the specks of color and keep my interest while knitting. Plus, I love the tidy decreases at the top of the hat and appreciate that kind of attention to detail in the patterns I buy.

Photo copyright Megan Goodacre.

So that’s my trip knitting all sorted out! Two hats (and let’s be honest, probably a new pair of socks) should hold me over for a 3-day Cape Cod trip and a week-long conference, right?

(And in case you missed it, check out my Indie Business Interview on the Knitted Bliss blog! There you’ll find a coupon code for free shipping on all domestic AND international Sweet Sheep orders over $10 through August 7th.)

FOFri #40: Malabrigo Nube Chain-Py Yarn

We’re going to go ahead and forget the fact that I was aiming to finish this skein for Malabrigo March because it’s finally done now (yay!) and it’s lovely (double yay!).

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MalMarch Nube, click for handspun page.

This skein began life as 100% Merino top from Malabrigo, colorway Persia. The fiber is gorgeously soft but often a wee bit compacted, so I chose to card my fiber into rolags and spin them with a long-draw draft for a nice fluffy single (S twist). I then filled two bobbins with 2-ply yarn (Z-twist) and ran the them through my wheel again in the same direction to add some extra twist before the last step. Finally, I plied the two 2-ply yarns together to create a 4-ply cabled yarn (S twist, click the photos below to enlarge).

Cabled yarns do interesting things with variegated colorways, and if plied tightly have lots of spring. My skein is a bit loosely plied so it’s fairly relaxed, but it’s pretty nonetheless. I ended up with 236 yards of approx. DK weight yarn (923 ypp, 12-14 wpi). It should be the perfect amount to make a nice pair of mitts for the Fiasco next fall.

Final cabled yarn

Final cabled yarn

Have you ever tried a cabled yarn? What other fancy plying techniques have you experimented with?