Smokestack – My first design

I’m a published designer!

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top row: Slouch style, bottom row: Beanie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My first design, Smokestack, is a lacy “faux cable” beanie or slouch hat. Its mirror-image lace “cables” are reminiscent of smoke plumes wafting from a chimneystack on a chilly winter’s day.  With two crown options, the easy-to-memorize lace pattern flows from a ribbed brim and works up quickly – using less than one skein of DK or Worsted yarn – and no cable needle required!  Instructions are both fully written and charted.  Worked seamlessly in the round from the brim up, this is ideal for lace newbies or advanced knitters.

It’s a super-quick knit so it’s perfect for holiday gifting – in a couple of evenings you’ll have a super-cute hat.  I’m warning you though, it’s so cute you won’t want to give it away!

Wanna buy it?  It’s only $5.00 – click the “Buy Now” button below to purchase the pattern from my Ravelry store.  (FYI, you don’t need to be a member of Ravelry to purchase the pattern, but if you want to have more fun with your knitting, you should join – it’s free.)

Nevermind what those PayPal charges are for!

Au contraire, Ricky.  I don’t have a lot of a-splainin’ to do. 

I have reached a point where I can no longer make a credible argument for buying more yarn or patterns or books. Just so you know, I don’t have this argument with myself – it’s with DH of course.

He seems to forget that I NEVER ask him what he spends on beer, gas for his giant pickup truck, shoes or jackets (he’s a bit of a clotheshorse) or wagering occasionally at the racetrack. But for some reason he keeps asking me “Don’t you have enough yarn yet?”, “How much did that latest shipment of yarn cost?”, “What’s this PayPal charge for?”

In the last few months, I’ve bought several beautiful books and patterns and a ton of yarn. So I’ve made a resolution that I will not make any more knitting-related purchases until I’ve knit one item from at least three of those books using only yarn from my stash. To be clear, I have made this decision not because I am letting my husband decide what I spend my hard-earned money on. No, I’m doing this for two reasons – as a personal challenge and because I’m running out of space in my yarn room. The other day I was searching for something and couldn’t find it because there’s just so much stuff in there! The fact that DH will stop needling me is just icing on the cake. 

After careful consideration, my Knit Things From the New Books and/or Stash Project will look like this*:

New Book projects:

Entangled Vines by Alana Dakos from her gorgeous book, Botanical Knits: Twelve Designs Inspired by Trees and Foliage. I’ve got a pile of Cascade Yarns 220 in Smoke Blue that is perfect for this.

Entangled Vines (photo Carlee Tatum)

Antler Cardigan (in a baby size for the gift pile) by Tin Can Knits from their Pacific Knits book (bought at Knit City 2012). Must dig around in my stash for a suitable worsted weight – I’m pretty sure I’ve got a bunch of Patons Class Wool Worsted or Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in there somewhere.

Antler Cardigan (photo Alexa Ludeman)

Liathite from Carol Feller’s gorgeous collection, Among Stones. I don’t have a lot of bulky weight in the stash but I do have some lovely Cascade Yarns Eco+ in Lilac that would be perfect for this cabled hoodie. Is there anything better than a purple cabled sweater?

Liathite Hoodie (photo Joseph Feller)

Stash-Down Projects:

Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Sport – I just ordered this so won’t have it in hand for a couple more weeks. The colours are Blackberry and Dove Gray and it’s for a test knit for Sweaterfreak of her beautiful and flattering My Inner Viking sweater (a fitted seamless, top-down pullover with a stranded colourwork yoke). Because one can never have too many purple sweaters.

Classic Elite Ariosa with Cashmere (Bulky) in Slate Gray (a closeout purchase from The Backwards Loop) is perfect for Crocodrile, a lovely cable-y hooded cowl by Carmen Garcia de Mora. a Spanish designer.

Crocodrile Hooded Cowl (photo Carmen Garcia de Mora)

Rowan Rowanspun 4 Ply – in a delicious tweedy pale pink. I’m thinking Jane Richmond’s lace-yoked Grace cardigan from her beautiful Island book (also bought at Knit City 2012) would be just the ticket.

Grace Cardigan (photo Nicholas Kupiak and Jane Richmond)

Classic Elite Yarns Fresco (sport weight) – another closeout buy from The Backwards Loop. Five skeins in Peacock Greens is perfect for Caireen, a deliciously cabled wrap from Susanna IC from Knitty, Deep Fall 2010. I also have five skeins in pale blue which would be perfect for the hat and mittens set, Loch, from Handmade in the UK, another genius move from Tin Can Knits.

Loch (photo Emily Wessel and Alexa Ludeman)

Jojoland Rhythm (worsted, 1,100 yds) in purply-pink Bumble Berry for bargain-basement price at Elann. This is earmarked for a teeny-sized Thirsty Rose cardigan for the gift stash. I’ll decide what to make with the leftovers some other time.

Thirsty Rose (photo Joseph Feller)

*Naturally, all of these plans are subject to change without notice with no accountability to anyone but myself. So there.

 

It’s never a bad time to order yarn

Sometimes life is no fun at all and you have to decide to either curl up in the fetal position or crack on with things. Frankly, I often chose the fetal position since I know from experience that it can be very effective, especially when combined with sleeping under a big fluffy duvet. Besides, there are just some situations where cracking on is a waste of time and energy and the only solution to a problem is to lie down and close your eyes. If I could only figure out how to knit while sleeping, I’d have it made!

Occasionally, I’ve ordered yarn during a time when I’m feeling really good, when optimism is my watchword, and then when the box arrives, I can barely bring myself to open it because I’m feeling too low. But when I do, it always cheers me. Best of all, I’ve ordered yarn when I’m on the downswing and by the time the package arrives, I’m feeling better and it’s like Christmas all over again. The bottom line is, there really is no bad time to order yarn.

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Jojoland Rhythm – Bumble Berry

 

 

 

 

 

Last week, I was feeling a little blah when I saw that Elann was having a Full Bag Blowout on something I’ve always wanted to try: Jojoland Rhythm in Bumble Berry at 10 balls for U$20. (You can also order individual balls at $2.85/each.) Say what?! Three seconds later, my order was submitted. To round it up so I could apply a $2.50 voucher, I also ordered single skeins of Manos del Uruguay Wool Classica for a mere $7.88 in a pale grey and Patons Classic Wool DK Superwash in a lovely brownish Heath Heather for $2.48. The box came today (Elann has the best service!) and when I saw it perched on my desk at work, my heart skipped a little and I felt pure delight.

wool classicaClassic WoolDon’t frickin’ ask me what I’m going to make with this yarn, at least not yet. Somewhere in my brain I’m thinking maybe a Mitered Crosses or Log Cabin Blanket for the Jojoland Rythym. I love the thick-and-thin Manos and might make myself a Felicity hat for fall (I had a very hard time giving away the lime green one I made for Alexis!) For now, though, I’m just going to enjoy looking at and playing with my squishy new stash additions and revel in this happy moment.

Thank you knitting, once again, for making my day better.

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Lime Green Felicity

 

 

Book Review – Botanical Knits: Twelve Designs Inspired by Trees and Foliage

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Big love for Alana Dakos

Alana Dakos is the super-talent behind the Never Not Knitting blog and podcast. I’ve been a fan of hers forever (who doesn’t love Coastal Knits, the legendary Cedar Leaf Shawlette and zillions of her other pretty things?) but I went into immediate obsessive-adoration mode when I saw the previews for her amazing new book: Botanical Knits.

Inspired partly by the plants and forests of California, every single one of the 12 gorgeous designs cries out to be made. Immediately. Colour-work like Fair Isle and stranding are very beautiful but in my heart, I am a texture knitter.  There is just something about the way cables weave together impossibly to make a squishy delicious fabric that really makes me happy.  And this book makes me very, very happy.  A quick read of various comments on Ravelry will tell you I’m not alone in wanting to make every leafy, twiggy thing in the book.

Here are some of my very most favourites from the book:

Entangled Vines cardigan
Entangled Vines cardigan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Forest Floor beanie

Forest Floor beanie

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wrapped in Leaves

Wrapped in Leaves

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ivy Trellis Socks (also available as mittens)

Ivy Trellis Socks (also available as mittens)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twigs and Willows cardigan

Twigs and Willows cardigan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instant Gratification – buy it now!

Purchase this beauty now at www.botanicalknits.com. The “real” book is available for pre-order (it ships in May 2013) and the price includes a free ebook that you can download today and start drooling over immediately. You can also buy the ebook only if that’s what you prefer. But after listening to Alana’s podcast on the subject (episode 69), the book is a piece of art in itself and while ebooks are awesome for pattern portability (especially when you can mark them up on GoodReader on your iPad), I love holding a real book in my hands.

N.B. all photos in this post are from the book and are by Carlee Tatum (prettyminded.com)

 

Update – Reindeer Games, Sweet Fiber and some FOs

Living the dream

I’ve got a week off from work and have naturally spent it in a knitting frenzy.  In fact, I’ve spent so much time knitting that feel a little guilty (okay, not really) that I’ve neglected some other things I’m supposed to be doing.  For instance, my Sunday vacuuming and dusting didn’t get done until yesterday and, what’s more reprehensible, bookclub is tomorrow and I’ve only read the back cover of the book.

Here’s what’s been distracting me this week:

Reindeer Games

The Girl has been begging me for a Vintage Reindeer Cardigan (to match her Dad’s) and I’ve finally cast on using Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Bulky. The first picture illustrates what I love about colour-work, i.e. watching a motif appear, row by row.  In this case, reindeer footprints above the ribbing then two reindeer frolicking in the forest.  Then, the second picture shows what I absolutely LOATHE about colour-work, i.e. all the frickin’ tangle-y bobbins and countless ends to weave in. Sometimes it gets so convolutedly messy that I have to just put down the mangled mess and take a break.  :)  The good news is that this bulky yarn knits up pretty quickly on 6.0 mm needles.

The back in progress

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yargh!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More yarn! – Sweet Fiber Yarns

Yeah, yeah, I’m supposedly on a yarn diet (whatever!), but I really, really needed some of Sweet Fiber Yarn’s special Super Sweet Sock yarn (80% Merino, 20% nylon, 415 yds, $25) It’s an exclusive colourway created especially for Knit City 2012.  It’s also available in Cashmerino Worsted (80% Merino, 10% cashmere, 10% nylon, 200 yds, $28).  Go immediately to the Knit Social Shop to order some.  While you’re there, check out their other special Knit City merch.

Super Sweet Sock Yarn, in Knit City 2012

Hats off!

As for Finished Objects, in addition to the Celestial Cowl mentioned in my previous post, I banged out a couple of hats for Christmas gifts.  The Husband works outdoors so I made him a cozy toque with Spud & Chloe Fine yarn in two manly shades of grey (insert joke here), Hippo and Sidewalk.  It’s a free pattern on Ravelry, Susan B. Anderson’s Chili Pepper Hat. I looks great as a hipster slouch and also as a watch cap with the striped cuff turned up.

Chili Pepper Hat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then, I whipped up a Felicity hat (another free pattern).  This more than slightly crappy picture doesn’t show how pretty this colour is.  This pattern is perfect for the rustic thick-and-thin Manos del Uruguay Wool Classica in Lime.

Felicity hat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miscellaneous ongoing WIPs

I’m continuing to work on my Cashmere Chili Pepper – holy doodle, is this Handmaiden Cashmere ever soft!  (Attention anyone who might be hoping this is a gift: sorry, this one’s mos def for me.)

Cashmere Chili Pepper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As well, I’m forging on with my Snowbird Cardigan. After completing the yoke, I’m now about a quarter of the way through the first sleeve, which I’m working on DPNs because I hate seaming with a passion (although not as much as I hate using bobbins).  Can’t wait to wear this.  It’s a quintessential cozy cardi.

Next – I love you Twist Collective!

Up next, I’ll weigh in on my favourites from the Winter 2012 issue of Twist Collective.  (There are so many that it needs a separate post!)

 

Report from Circle Craft 2012: Indigo Moon Yarns

I’m over the moon about Indigo Moon Yarns

Last Friday, after a busy day at the sausage factory, I nipped over to the Circle Craft Christmas Market at the Convention Centre in Vancouver.  Yes, there were galloons of very talented artisans on hand with their beautiful wares, but my main purpose of going was to see my lovely friend Trish Moon and to moon over her ridiculously stunning hand-dyed Indigo Moon yarns.  Circle Craft was her last show of 2012 so it was my last chance to see her until next year.  I’m so supposed to be on a yarn diet (these two words should never appear together) so I had pre-limited myself to buying only two skeins of yarn.

I don’t like the pics my BlackBerry takes – so blurry!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In particular, I couldn’t wait to see her 100% Merino Wool Worsted in the lovely colourway, Celestial Blue.  A cowl made with the yarn was on display in her booth and, believe me, neither the yarn or the cowl disappointed.  I’ve discovered that, at least with technology available to me, it is practically impossible to take a photo that even remotely does this yarn justice.  There is such depth and richness of colour and the stitch definition is just plain ridiculous that you have to see it with your own eyes to believe it.  The pic below comes very close to capturing the shimmering night-sky blues in this yarn. Trish is a true master dyer – her work is simply magical.

Pure gorgeousness!

A Noble Cowl

As soon as I got home that night, I cast on the same lacy cowl that was on display in Trish’s booth, A Noble Cowl (bonus: it’s a free pattern on Ravelry!).  It required only a single skein of yarn (185 m/200 yds), however, if you use a slightly bigger needle than called for, knit a little loose or use a bind-off that uses a lot of yarn (I used Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-off which famously sucks up yarn but is perfect for edges that need a lot of give), you may run out of yarn, like I did.  To avoid that and the weeping that may ensue, you might want to work a lifeline towards the end of the pattern, just in case.  I ended up unpicking the last couple of rows of the pattern and as you can tell from the pic, no harm was done, and I used all but about 30 cm of the yarn.  The pic below was taken in sunlight, which brings out the turquoise undertones.

A Noble Cowl in Celestial Blue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wild Berries Sock Yarn

I was also eager to see Trish’s deliciously squishy Blue-Faced Leiscester sock yarn in the juicy Wild Berries colourway.  A sample shawl was on display in her booth (you can see it in the pic at the top of this post) and as predicted, I was unable to resist this yarn either.  Think fuchsia-purple-raspberry and you’ll get the picture.  I have to meditate on what to make with this yarn – it’s so touchable and beautiful to gaze upon that I will likely make a cowl, scarf or shawl – something that will show it off.  While it would make spectacular socks, it seems a shame to hide this yarn under pant legs or tucked into shoes.

BFL sock in Wild Berries

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you to the woolly BFL sheep for this lovely yarn

More than just yarn – weaving too!

Trish Moon is famous for her beautiful hand-dyed yarn, but you may not be aware that she is also a master weaver.  On the Weavings page of her site, you’ll find luxurious silk and wool shawls, wraps, scarves and blankets, all drapey and soft and made with her gorgeous hand-dyed yarns.  Delightfully, she also makes the loveliest hand-woven 100% cotton tea towels, again in billions of yummy colours – so pretty you’ll actually want to dry the dishes!  Look what I came home with (thanks again, Trish – you’re the best!)

Hand-woven 100% cotton tea towel – pure luxury!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fingers crossed that Indigo Moon Yarns will be at Knit City again next year (I know where I’ll be on October 26-27, 2013).

Me with the hugely talented and very lovely Trish Moon at Circle Craft (note to self: never take pictures with a BlackBerry!)

 

Forgive me, for I am a selfish knitter…

I try to be a good person, but…

I am actually a terrible person. I have all these plans to knit Christmas gifts for other people (e.g. a vintage Mary Maxim reindeer sweater for The Girl, cowls and fingerless mitts for various and sundry friends and/or relatives, a hat and socks for my husband, etc. etc.), but I keep getting distracted by stuff for me. Plus, I’m having trouble using my copious stash for these urgently required items so I keep buying things.  For instance, this Spud & Chloe Fine that I just bought for the husband’s Chili Pepper Hat, which I’m almost finished:

Spud & Chloe Fine in Hippo and Pavement

In fact, I was recently busted by the aforementioned spouse when he asked me “Hey, I once heard you say that you have more yarn than you’ll ever use in your lifetime, so why did you just buy more?” Naturally, I had no answer for this so pretended I hadn’t heard the question. How can I possibly make him understand that, yes, I have a veritable mountain of perfectly good fingering weight yarn stored under every bed and in every closet in the house, but none in the exact colour needed for the hat I’m making you with all the love in my heart.

Um, yeah…. I’m keeping that

An example of an object tricot initially meant for someone else that I have subsequently selfishly appropriated is Jane Richmond‘s Rae, which I made using SweetGeorgia’s Tough Love Sock in a custom colourway from Knit City. I think you’ll agree that the pattern and the yarn were born for each other. Just look how stripey it is without being pool-y:

Rae Scarf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, my idea was that this will be a gift for someone as-yet-undetermined, but the more I look at it and wrap it around my neck, the more I realize that I need to just accept that the only way someone else will have this is if it’s pried from my cold dead hands.

Also, I just finished Veronik Avery’s beautiful Lace Weekend Socks, which I cast on with every intention to gift them, but once finished, I put them on and, Bingo!, suddenly they were mine. Veronik’s (very sadly discontinued) St-Denis Boreale yarn is absolutely divine for socks. So woolly and cozy, it’s impossible to imagine giving them away. In fact, just the thought of parting with them made me a little weepy. (BTW, go to stdenisyarns.com now - all the yarn (Boreale, Nordique and Sommet) plus her lovely patterns are on clearance.)

Lace Weekend Socks

 

More distraction

And now, after digesting Jane’s exquisite new book Island and favouriting every single pattern, I’ve just placed an order from Quince & Co. for two skeins of their Sparrow linen yarn in Juniper to make her Strathcona scarf. (Update: I just received notification that it has shipped. Wheee!!)  And this time, I’m not even bothering to pretend that it’s for anyone but me. I mean seriously, this colour has me written all over it.

Sparrow in “Juniper” (photo from Quince & Co.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The good news as far as my Christmas knitting goes is that the aforementioned Sparrow won’t arrive for a few weeks (shipping from Maine) so I’ll have plenty of time to cast on the reindeer sweater and maybe even get most of it finished before the end of November.  Providing, of course, that my inner magpie can resist becoming distracted by other shiny projects in the meantime. (Yarn gods give me strength!)

Something I plan to focus on after my Christmas work is done is plowing through Pacific Knits, the other book I bought at Knit City. I love every single pattern in it. My niece is expecting again in a few months and I’ll need some wee woolies for him/her and a tiny-sized Antler Cardigan would be a perfect.. Happily, I may have stash yarn for this – which of course pretty much cancels out the cost of the Quince & Co purchase. It’s like getting free yarn! Right? Right? (Just nod in agreement.) That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.  :)

Antler Cardigan (photo by Tin Can Knits)

Happy knitting y’all!