Christmas mittens

So I decided to knit a pair of mittens as a Christmas gift. First I picked out some nice yarn at the lovely new yarn store in Moscow (the Yarn Underground, definitely worth a visit). I went with Imperial Stock Ranch Tracie, a 2-ply sport weight yarn with a nice loft, in the aptly-named colorway “Spiced Poppy”.

Spiced poppy

It’s a “crunchy” kind of yarn, that is, it’s a little rustic, and softness is not it’s strong suit (though this particular yarn is a lot softer than some other crunchy yarns I’ve squeezed). But crunchy yarns tend to be some of my favorites; I like how they feel when I’m knitting with them, and I like how they result in a knitted fabric with good stitch definition.

Spiced poppy close-up

Once I’d settled on the yarn, I had to pick out a pattern. I decided to re-knit a pattern I designed last year, the Spruce Tree Mittens. Since the pattern calls for worsted weight yarn, I split the skein of Tracie in half and am holding the yarn double in order to get the correct gauge. I hadn’t thought about this pattern in a while, and it’s been fun to re-visit it and remember why I liked it enough to write it down in the first place.

One mitten down, one mitten to go!

First spiced poppy

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Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving

As you can see, winter has finally arrived in my corner of the world, just in time to make Thanksgiving look all pretty and festive.

And because it’s Thanksgiving, I’m in need of a good social knitting project; one that’s small and portable enough to travel with me, and also simple enough that I don’t have to keep referring to the pattern while I’m knitting it. So I decided to knit another autumn scarf, this time in a simple, natural alpaca yarn:

Alpaca from Ecuador

My girlfriend brought this back for me from a work-trip to Ecuador last summer. Wasn’t that nice of her? It’s a really lovely alpaca yarn, approximately sport-weight and in a nice natural tan-ish brown-ish color. I’ve got two skeins of it, so I think I’m just going to continue knitting the scarf until the yarn runs out, and however wide that makes the scarf, that’s how wide it’ll be.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

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Autumn scarf

Here it is, my autumn scarf!

Autumn scarf rocking

Autumn scarf up close

My inspiration for this project was the yarn I used (Noro Silk Garden Sock). Noro yarn is known for beautiful colorways that typically have long runs of colors; this particular ball of yarn had been in my stash for quite a while, and I was searching for a project that would take advantage of the long color runs. Thus, the autumn scarf was born! The scarf is knit lengthwise, so the stripes are long and narrow and run the horizontal length of the scarf. The pattern is very simple; it’s really just a garter stitch scarf, with a few eyelet rows thrown in there to keep it interesting. I can’t claim to have invented this pattern, as many, many knitters have made lengthwise garter stitch scarves in the past, but I’ll include the specs of mine here for the sake of those who are interested in the details.

Autumn scarf roll

Here’s how I did it:

Autumn Scarf

Yarn: Noro Silk Garden Sock Yarn, one skein Col. No. S245 (100 grams fingering weight yarn)

Needles: 24 inch (60 cm) or longer US size 5 (3.75 mm) circular needles (or size needed to obtain gauge)

Gauge (prior to blocking): 20 stitches, 28 rows for 4 inch (10 cm) x 4 inch (10 cm) block in garter stitch

Finished measurements (after blocking): 80 inches (203 cm) long, 5.25 inches (13 cm) wide

Definitions:

k: knit

k2tog tbl: knit two stitches together through back loops (results in a decrease of one stitch)

p: purl

p2tog: purl two stitches together (results in a decrease of one stitch)

st(s): stitch(es)

YO: yarn over: wrap yarn once around right-hand needle, from front to back (results in an increase of one stitch)

Instructions for scarf:

Loosely cast-on 315 sts using US size 5 (3.75 mm) circular needles, or size needed to obtain gauge

Row 1: k every st

Rows 2 – 6: repeat row 1

Row 7: p1, [YO, p2tog], repeat from [ to ] to end of row

Repeat rows 1 – 7 five times more

Repeat rows 1 – 5 one time more

Loosely bind-off all sts by [k2tog tbl, slip st back to left-hand needle], repeat from [ to ] to end of row

Cut yarn, leaving tail of about 6 inches (15 cm) in length; bring tail through final bind-off st and pull snug

Weave in ends using tapestry needle; block if desired.

There is one major caveat I have to mention: I intended to use as much of one ball of yarn as possible, in order to make the scarf as wide as I could (and I only had one ball of this yarn in my stash, so going over one ball wasn’t an option); and at the end, I had exactly SEVEN INCHES of yarn leftover! So if your gauge is any looser than mine, you’ll have to plan accordingly.

Have fun!

Autumn scarf fold

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Autumn is for scarves

Here’s a sneak-peak at what I’ve got blocking at the moment:

scarf blocking

Another scarf! I hope it dries quickly because it’s getting chilly here…

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Clapotis – finished!

Lately I seem to be working on a lot of scarves… maybe it’s because it’s full-on autumn now here in Idaho, and I want something warm to wear when I walk into town. Or maybe it’s because I’ve been working a lot lately, and all I can handle at the end of the day, knitting-wise, is something simple and quick.

Or not so quick; the scarf I finally finished this week had been on my needles for over two years!! (I blogged about it, my never-ending project, here).

Clapotis

This is my version of Kate Gilbert’s Clapotis. Despite what you may think based on how long it took me to finish this project, I really did enjoy working on it! Sometimes I just get distracted, that’s all.

I especially like how the stitch pattern really pops once you block the thing; all those dropped stitches need a stiff stretching to even them out. Compare this pre-blocked photo (squiggly dropped stitches!):

Clapotis close-up pre-blocking

To this post-blocked photo (smooth dropped stitches!):

Clapotis close-up

I’m really pleased with how this scarf turned out. This pattern is extremely popular (16,402 projects listed on ravelry as of today, whoa!), and in my opinion, this popularity is well-earned. Nice pattern, nice scarf. Lucky me!

Rocking clapotis

Rocking clapotis up close

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Knitting a sweater

Knitting a sweater can be hard. By which I mean, knitting a sweater that fits me exactly how I want it to is hard for me. I can whip out a sweater, if it doesn’t matter what size or shape it is, but if I want it to actually look nice while I’m wearing it, well, that takes some effort. Even with careful swatching, things don’t always work out the way I expect them to… a measuring error of a quarter of an inch in a swatch becomes an error of three inches when you size up to a sweater, and that can be the difference between a sweater that I want to wear and one that just sits in the closet.

So you can imagine how happy I was when I finished my Liesl sweater (blogged about here, raveled about here), and it actually fit!

Liesl under a tree

This is the first sweater I’ve knit that actually ended up being the size I intended it to be. I’ve worn it a few times since finishing it, and it really is a good sweater – warm (but not too warm) and soft, a good sweater for autumn.

I had planned to block it, but once I finished knitting it and sewing the buttons on, I just couldn’t wait to wear it. So I did… and I realized that it probably doesn’t need to be blocked. Because the sweater is so fitted, just wearing it really opens up the lace, and I’m happy with how it fits in the un-blocked state, so I’m going to leave it as it is.

Liesl from the back

(I don’t know what’s going on with my hair in that photo, but this is a blog about knitting, not hair, so just ignore that and look at the sweater. Nice sweater, huh?)

So in my previous post about this sweater, I wrote about how I had to rip it back and start over after getting down to the armpits and realizing that it really was huge. I think that’s one of the keys to knitting a well-fitting sweater; if you try it on part-way through, and avoid deceiving yourself as to whether or not it really is the size you intended, you can start over if necessary. And while that seems a bit counter-productive in the moment, in the long run you’ll get a sweater you actually want to wear rather than a blanket-sized sack that just sits in the closet (there are a few of those hiding in my closet right now, in fact!).

Fun during the photo shoot

(Thanks to E. for expert photography skills!)

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Knitting runs in the family

I’ve recently picked up a project that I started over two years ago (!), in April of 2008. It’s the Sonoma Mountain Wrap, pattern written by Carol Lapin and published in Simply Shetland 2: At Jack London Ranch (here’s mine, on Ravelry). The yarn is what the pattern calls for, Jamieson’s Shetland Double Knitting.

Sonoma Mountain Wrap

Wrap from the side

It’s a nice, easy pattern (the whole thing is done in linen stitch, with a crocheted-on border worked at the end), but the frequent and irregular color changes keep it interesting. Perfect movie-watching knitting, in other words. Here you can see what the back-side of linen stitch looks like (it’s got quite a nice texture to it):

Linen stitch

Knitting has been one of my favorite hobbies for a while, but I haven’t always been a knitter. I wasn’t born with knitting needles in my hands, I didn’t churn out mittens by the dozen in elementary school, and I wasn’t raised by sheep on a fiber farm somewhere in the mid-west. No, I learned how to knit when my mother taught me how. Many times. It didn’t stick the first few times she gave me needles and yarn, but eventually it did. So I owe most of my knitting skills and a lot of my knitting inspiration to my mom. She is, in fact, a New York State Fair blue-ribbon-winning knitter. A lot to live up to, right??

So this particular project, the Sonoma Mountain Wrap, is one that we’re working on together (or I should say, worked on together…). I don’t mean that we’re mailing it back and forth between her house in New York and mine in Idaho, each of us knitting  a row or two before we send it back (although that would be a fun project); I mean that one time when she and my dad visited me in Fairbanks (where I was living at the time), we went to the local yarn store, and we each left with enough yarn to knit this thing and the idea to each knit it at the same time, like our own personal knit-along.

What I failed to anticipate (though it’s obvious in retrospect, of course!), is that she would finish waaaaaaay before me… first of all, she’s a faster knitter than me (more practice… I’ll catch up eventually, I’m sure), and she has more knitting-project-faithfulness than me, too. In fact, her wrap has been done for over a year now, and, well, mine is still closer in size to a placemat than a wrap. But I’m back on a roll with mine, so I’m sure I’ll finish it… eventually!

Sonoma wrap close-up

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