Yes, it’s summer, but soon it will be bloody freezing again. Here’s a little something to whip up before the chill is back in the air…
Every fall, I go to Circle Craft Christmas Market in Vancouver specifically to buy yarn from one of my favourite hand-dyers in the world, Trish Moon from Indigo Moon Yarns. She is a master of colour (mistress of colour?) and has an uncanny ability to combine my favourite colours with the squishiest, most delicious yarn imaginable.
There it was on the table in her booth, a pile of yummy worsted weight Indigo Moon Studio Edition Merino in the most delicious saturated colours. The one that jumped out at me was in an exquisite colour called Solstice Moon. Five seconds later, money flew out of my wallet and two skeins were in my bag. Result!
This gorgeous yarn begs for cables and soon my brain sprouted an idea for a hat – a cabled beanie with a little bit of slouch. I swatched, I knit, I sketched, I sent it for testing and knit some more and, yada, yada, yada, Solstice Sky was born.
A quick-to-knit cable-panel beanie, it’s an adult size M-L knit in the round from the brim up and stretches easily to comfortably fit noggins from 19-23” (48-59 cm). The instructions for the cable are both written and charted and it uses approximately 150-165 yds (137-151 m).
The pattern is $5.00 – click the “Buy Now” button below to purchase it from my Ravelry store. (FYI, you do not have to be a member of Ravelry to purchase the pattern, but knitting is more fun if you’re a member – it’s free!)
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.)
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 Projectwill look like this*:
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)
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.
Carol Feller (aka Littlefellers of www.stolenstitches.com) is one of those designers whose work I just adore. She’s a master of textured fabric – I just love what she does with cables and YOs. I’ll never live long enough to make all of my favourite Stolen Stitches designs, but crossed off my bucket list this week: her Rose Song shawl. Not only is it probably the fastest shawl you’ll ever make (I zipped it off in less than 24 hours – you gotta love 8 mm needles), but it’s simply beautiful. And as always with Carol’s creations, the pattern is well-written and easy to follow.
Snowbird Rose Song – blocking
Carol Feller’s original Rose Song
I fell in love with the yummy fuschia yarn she used for the original, Fyberspates Chunky Scrumptious Solid, but knew I’d have to substitute something more affordable. Turns out I didn’t have to go shopping for yarn at all. After finishing my POP Blanket, I had heaps of cream Cascade Yarns Ecological Wool left over. I hadn’t envisioned my Rose Song in creamy winter white, but it works beautifully. Not only did it knit perfectly to gauge, but I think it’s gorgeous and who doesn’t love a white rose?
I’m especially happy with my Zen Cardigan. The yarn is perfect (it washes and machine dries very nicely) and it’s just adorable with the little shell buttons. I also whipped up a coordinating beret from Debbie Bliss’ Simply Baby. Just the thing for a well-dressed baby girl about town.
Une petite béret
Shit Knitters Say
I love this! I especially like the reference to sneaking yarn into the house. “My husband can’t know I’ve bought more yarn.”
Okay, enough pet-peeving. Let’s get back to what really matters: knitting and stuff I’ve been working on!
Now and Zen (Cardigan, that is)
When I first clapped eyes on al-abrigo‘s Zen Cardigan a few weeks ago, I knew I must make it. The pattern wasn’t available yet so I just added it to the favourites pile for future reference. Of course, I have no particular babies to knit for but if a certain someone’s next grandchild is a girl, this is for her. Otherwise, I’ll tuck it away in the gift stash. Anyhoo, I’m minding my own business trolling Ravelry as I’m wont to do when suddenly I see an opportunity to test knit Zen. Hmmm. Let me think it over. Not! No thinking required! Of course I volunteered immediately and, as soon as humanly possible, cast on for the 12-18 months size.
It calls for a sport weight yarn so straight away I think of Baby Cashmerino by Debbie Bliss in a deliciously delicate pale, pale lilac that I found at Urban Yarns in Edgemont Village. Here it is in progress. Ain’t it purdy?
Zen Cardigan in progress
Some people like to dis Debbie Bliss yarns but Baby Cashmerino really is lovely. Yes, it’s pricey but dammit, don’t all little babies need at least one expensive handknit woolie made with love? Besides, DB’s colours are scrumptious. And this yarn is good for gifting – no need for the harried new mom to worry too much about hand washing. I’ve got four skeins which is enough for the cardi and a wee matching Parisian beret, non?
Baby Cashmerino – pale lilac
FO Update – Willow Tweed Aranami Shawl
As a human magpie, if something isn’t shiny and right in front of my face, I forget about it and it falls off my radar. Anyway, I’m crawling on the floor of my knitting room the other day arranging the layout of the jolly squares for POP Blanket, and I see folded ever so neatly on the daybed my luscious Willow Tweed Aranami Shawl and it occurred to me that I have failed to share an FO photo of it with the world. Here it is, resplendent in my back garden:
Willow Tweed Aranami in my backyard
This is one of my very most favourite projects. It’s soooooo nice to touch, it’s soft and squishy and just warm enough to keep the chill off your neck when walking the dog late on a summer’s night. (Okay, if you live anywhere else but Vancouver, you’re thinking: what? Chilly on a summer night? WTF? But in Vancouver, nine times out of ten, it can get dang cold on July evenings.)
Yarn Harlot – Knitting for Speed and Efficiency
Thanks to Knit Social for a fun evening on July 12. Stephanie Pearl-McPhee was in town to teach the rabble how to knit faster in her class Knitting for Speed and Efficiency at the downtown branch of the Vancouver Public Library.
Lord knows I could stand to pick up the pace. If I want to use up even half of the yarn stored under the beds, in the closets and under the floorboards before my 100th birthday, I’m going to have to go into overdrive.
Of course, the number one way to knit faster is this: Stop knitting so bloody slow. Thankfully, Stephanie didn’t actually say that to us. Instead, she gave us a very entertaining talk about the history of knitting, why the modern knitter is so slow and gave us tips to increase our speed. We learned how the craft evolved from being a way for the great unwashed to earn a living while tromping across the moors (they enjoyed eating at least once a day and were therefore serious speed knitters) to a pleasant way for the great washed to while away empty afternoons in the drawing-room while Bates and Mrs. Hughes scurried about understairs decanting wine and admonishing scullery maids.
I often walk while knitting but usually look slightly less grim than our little Shetland friend here
With the advent of machine knitting, the uppercrusters took up the needles and “civilized” needlework by making it an idle pastime rather than a way to feed one’s family. In it’s newly respectable incarnation, knitting was no longer a race against time, but a way to squander your afternoons. Much like Pinterest and Ravelry are nowadays.
Our grandmothers learned the “slow” Victorian way to knit which they in turn taught us, rather than the super-speedy “lever” method of the peasantry that Stephanie then showed us. Check this video of Stephanie demonstrating the lever method using long straight needles, with the right one stuck under her arm. Very interesting, no?
It was definitely fun and eye-opening to learn a new method. I’ll likely not be switching to lever knitting any time soon, but I have refined my technique to make my “throwing” hand move more lever-like and have therefore definitely increased my speed. Also, by “spring-loading” the stitches on your left needle and consciously eliminating extraneous hand and finger movements (including stopping every row to admire one’s work), you experience less fatigue and can go faster than before. Plus, Stephanie is a very engaging speaker and we all had loads of fun learning from her. It was a great group of knitters.
Thanks again to Knit Social – by the way, can’t wait for Knit City this October!
A peevish or irritable mood; peevishness; a grumble. Also: a source of irritation or annoyance (freq. in pet peeve).
Section 4.3(ii) of the Shoe Criminal Code – the Scrape-Drag
Picture it. You’re minding your own business, walking down the street on your way somewhere. En route, you amuse yourself with your thoughts – perhaps thinking of your next knitting project or wondering what the characters from the book you’re currently reading are doing. (Yes, I already know how irrational that is, but sometimes I over-invest in fictional or other literary characters.) The sun is shining, the birds are chirping and you’re feeling fine.Your idyll is shattered when someone falls into step behind you on the sidewalk and they are committing one of civilized life’s greatest crimes:the dreaded heel Scrape-Drag.Perhaps their shoes are two sizes too big, or they are too lazy to pick up their feet when the walk or, worst of all, they think this ought-to-be-indictable offence is an adorable affectation. (“Look at how quirky and prehistoric I am!”) Either way, you want to swivel around and clock them upside the head with your purse and shout “Pick up your feet for chrissakes!”.Honestly, when did mothers stop teaching manners to their children?
Section 4.3(ii)(a) of the Shoe Criminal Code – the “Click/Scrape”
A variation on this offence, is the I’m-too-cheap-to-fix-my-high-heels syndrome. You know this one.Woman buys pair of high heels.Woman wears heels until the rubber thingy on the end of the heel wears off and exposes the nail.Woman waltzes around town oblivious to the nail clicking and scraping the ground as she walks.Woman is literally “down at the heel” and is commiting a class “A” felony: the Click/Scrape. You are possessed by the impulse to throttle the offender.Come ON! How do these people not know that it’s a RULE that you need to replace the rubber heel thingy before the nail comes through????Unless you’re a hobo, there’s no excuse for this.It costs maybe $8 to fix and is a small price to pay to preserve the sanity of those around you. One could say it’s a cost of doing business issue. Besides, all those former convicts who learned shoe repair in lock-up and now work at the cobblers exist for a reason.
I sat in the shade under the blossoming weigela tree, the birds were sing-songing and the sun shone relentlessly. A cool glass of lemonade within arm’s reach at all times, I knit away the hours. This is an accurate description of how I spent my entire weekend. No joke. It was heaven on earth. I prepared no meals, did no housework (except for unloading the dishwasher once and running a load of laundry on Sunday afternoon) and the only exertion my brain suffered was calculating how much more yarn I was going to need to finish my POP Blanket and wondering what DH was going to make me for dinner. (Don’t worry, I know exactly how lucky I am.)
POP is gorgeous and one of my very most favourite projects ever. I had never knit with Noro before so Kureyon was my baptism. I had always thought it just too scratchy for a delicate flower such as myself. But in fact, Kureyon is really quite lovely, especially after blocking. And the colours are a.maze.ing. Urban Yarns in Edgemont has a good selection of colours, by the way, along with lots of Cascade Ecological Wool in cream for the background colour. Even though it’s lovely and summery right now, part of me is looking forward to fall and my Sunday afternoon naps, snuggled under POP.
So far, I’ve completed almost 30 squares and they’re blocking out to be about 5¾” square. I’ll probably make at least 35 (5 squares x 7 squares). We’ll see how big it turns out.
Pop in progress – FYI blocking these squares uses a LOT of T-pins!
Yarn Harlot tonight
Knit Social is presenting Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (aka the Yarn Harlot) at the Vancouver Public Library downtown today – she’s given two classes (afternoon and evening) called Knitting for Speed and Efficiency. She also gave a talk last night called “This is Your Brain on Knitting” which, by all accounts was hugely entertaining. I’m not the slowest knitter in the world but will surely benefit from kicking it up a notch.
My queue and stash are expanding exponentially every year and unless I can speed up a little, I’ll never manage to finish everything on my list before I go to the big LYS in the sky. (Which is far from imminent, but still. Oh, can you imagine what the yarn store in heaven is like? My guess is there is a great deal of cashmere. Sigh. Assuming that’s where I’m going, of course.) I did a little calculating and even if I’m reincarnated three or four times, I’ll likely never live long enough to use up all my yarn or knit everything in my queue.
Which reminds me: Knit Social will be opening up class registration for this October’s Knit City at 8:00 a.m. on August 1. I’m thinking of registering for the Two Socks in One class. The idea of making two socks at the same time, one inside the other, is intriguing. And providing one doesn’t screw it up too much, could be faster than doing them one at a time. Click the poster below from the Knit Social website for info.
Hetty’s Sunday Cuffs – Thank you to Lady Alice
Another finished object for the pile: Hetty’s Sunday Cuffs, the cover project from the splendiferous Summer 2012 issue of Jane Austen Knits. The very thoughtful and fellow Queen-adoring Lady Alice brought me a tin of Fortnum & Mason’s special Jubilee tea from her recent trip to Ye Olde Londontown. She would brook no recompense so I was forced to knit her something in appreciation. Thus, Hetty’s Sunday Cuffs. In Spud & Chloë’s beautiful Fine yarn, they are just the thing for a card-carrying Jane Austen Society member to be worn when reading in bed on a winter’s eve. Nothing worse than having damned chilly wrists when one is trying to enjoy a little Sense and Sensibility.