Category Archives: Yarn

Gauge wins again

I should have seen it sooner; that my poor sweater back was falling victim to that old baddie GAUGE. The classic symptoms of denial were present: tugging at the length, stretching out the bottom edge and telling myself it would relax with a good blocking. Then I woke up and decided to face the truth.

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First I laid it out and gave it a steamy once over to relax it just a bit. Then I grabbed my measuring tape and assessed the damage. My sweater back was measuring 14″ wide and the schematic was telling me it should be more like 20″.

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In my defense, I did do a gauge swatch. But it was pretty teensy, and it was in stockinette, which is how the pattern gauge was given. I think I would have been better off swatching in the cable pattern so I could account for how much the cables pull in on the overall fabric. I think the only positive I can pull outta this one is that now I have a really big gauge swatch. Off I go to start over again and mark this one a big fail.

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Aidez Check In

One of my favorite things about knitting cabled pieces is that you soon find a rhythm to the cable patterns.  Now that I’ve gotten two and a half repeats into the trellis chart of my Aidez cardigan, part of the #fringeandfriendsknitalong,  I can knit through most rows without checking the chart.  (Though I make sure to double check each time I’m doing a cable cross just to make sure I’m doing the right one!)  I modified the two rope cables that are alongside the center trellis pattern, as the pattern calls for double wrapping the purls on the row before you complete the cable cross so that the stitches are elongated.  I felt like mine were coming out kind of sloppy and so I just switched to a simple 2/2 left/right cross which doesn’t change the look all that much.

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I think as soon as I get tired of working these particular cables on the back piece, it will be time to start the fronts and sleeves, which are comprised of entirely new cable patterns.  Score another one for Team Seam because if I was working this as one seamless piece, I would probably be getting tired of all of the cables about now and still have a LOT of sweater left to knit.

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A Knitalong

I’ve decided to hop on the #fringeandfriendsknitalong train.  If you haven’t heard about it, the details can be found on the Fringe Association blog. In short, it is a knitalong for the Amanda cardigan or other similar fisherman style cardigan.  The knitalong includes a panel of experts who will be posting weekly on Karen’s blog with topics ranging from tips on yarn selection and swatching to seaming the finished piece.

I have decided to knit the Aidez pattern by Cirilia Rose and will be knitting it in Cascade Eco Wool.

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Summer Knittng: 3 Essential Project Requirements

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I’ve been knitting at a snail’s pace lately. Lots of knitters blame summer for the natural slowdown of knitting that happens this time of year, and I’m generally in agreement with that line of thinking. Especially here in Texas, where its already hot as heck and the thermometers are inching nearer and nearer to that triple digit marker as each blazing afternoon passes by. Warm fuzzy wool and sweaty sticky hands do not make a good combination and fun summer outdoor activities don’t leave a lot of free time for your latest knitting project. I could blame summer for the approximately two and a half rounds of knitting that have commenced here as of late, but I won’t. I blame the knitting.

I know, I know. How on earth could it be the knitting’s fault? Well, my friends, I am knitting a hat, a very basic hat that is 1×1 ribbing throughout, and it is an absolute bore to work on. When faced with options on how to spend my spare time: knitting 1×1 ribbing in the round or going to the beach for the day, it’s really a tough sell to choose the knitting.

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I think I have devised a plan to combat the summer knitting slump and it all boils down to this: pick your project wisely. Admittedly, I decided upon the 1×1 ribbed bore of a hat way back in March, so it wasn’t technically my pick for “summer” knitting, but it turned out that I was so not interested in working on it, that it’s still languishing on my needles now that summer is in full swing. I think the 3 essentials for a summer project are that they have to be:

Something SMALL. You really don’t need heavy blankets or bulky sweaters overheating your lap. You want something light and portable, so you can even bring it along for that beach day on the off chance that you do spend more than 5 minutes outside of the water.

Something INTERESTING. Your project should be fun enough that it lures you to it despite summer’s distractions. It needs to be able to hold its own in the war between an evening picnic in the park or a few hours spent on an intriguing cable and lace project with a nice gin and tonic.

Something COTTON or LINEN. I usually don’t enjoy working with cotton because it doesn’t have any “give”, but it has to be said that something with a summery fiber content is much more appropriate for the season than trying to slog through a project with that alpaca or angora blend that keeps sending up downy fluffs that get stuck to your face. I’ve been seeing some very nice patterns out lately from Quince & Co., heralding their new Kestrel linen yarn. It is spun in a way so that the yarn has some sproingy-ness to it, which may be enough to rectify my misgivings towards the usually non-giving fiber.

So what will you be knitting this summer? I will be continuing on with the 1×1 bore, but only because it is small and dangit, I just want it finished. I do have plans for something less boring next- something small and portable and with lots of interesting cables.

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It Fits!

The baby sweater I knit not too long ago finally arrived in Switzerland and my friend Tim posted the cutest pic of baby Johann wearing it:

Baby Johann

He looks so adorable in it, and his jaunty little hat is the perfect accessory.

Big/Little

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Ever since learning that my friend Tim and his wife Liis were expecting, I knew I would be knitting a sweater for their little one.
We met Tim when we were living in NYC; he’s an amazing photographer and one of those people that feels like family after you’ve only known them a short while. Tim and Liis moved to California while we were still in NY, and then we moved to Texas and Tim and Liis moved to Switzerland. Their beautiful baby boy Johannes was born in December and Auntie Kim is a bit late in getting a sweater to this little guy. I knit him the Storytime Scholar Cardigan by Lisa Chemery in the 9-12 month size, and I think it will easily fit him well into his first year. You can’t go wrong with a grandpa sweater for a little boy, and the garter stitch elbow patches really sold me on this pattern. The yarn I used is quickly becoming an easy go-to yarn for baby sweaters: Berocco Vintage. I like it because its soft, wooly and heathered, but with an acrylic content so its washable and no-fuss for the parents. I think it resulted in a sweet little sweater and I hope it keeps baby Johann warm and stylish in Switzerland.

I also wanted to share the sweetest thing Tim said when I was asking him how he was enjoying life with a new son. “Johann is my little and I am his big/ the cosmos just paired us up is all.”

Hill Country Sessions

I’m excited to finally share the article I wrote for the Spring 2013 issue of Pom Pom Quarterly!  I’d like to add a note that the album that the article discusses, Israel Nash’s Rain Plans is now out via Loose Music in Europe. 

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Hill Country Sessions

As a knitter married to a touring musician, I try to join my husband on his travels as often as my schedule will allow and I always bring my knitting along for the journey. This particular trip finds us down in Texas Hill Country about an hour’s drive outside of Austin, Texas. We are here for two weeks while Joey records guitar for the upcoming Israel Nash album with some of our closest friends.

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photo by Tim Underwood

The setting is perfect for recording an album: there are nine of us holed up in a big ranch house that is surrounded on all sides by tree and cactus-covered hills. The closest neighbor is over a mile away; too far away to be disturbed by any music that goes late into the night. The cathedral-ceilinged living room has been transformed into a recording studio; the cowhide rug on the floor is crisscrossed with cables running from the many guitars and amps to the mixing board and analog tape machine.

Joey guitars

Photo by Tim Underwood

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As the band sets up their gear, my friend Laura and I set up our gear. We are staking our claim to the two lounge chairs on the back patio that overlook the valley that provides a stunning view at sunset. It is an idyllic setup for us: the guys will record their album while we lounge within earshot of the music, knitting away and enjoying each other’s company. I’ve brought along a ball of tweedy yarn and some circular needles and a vague idea for a slouchy hat that I want to make.

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The day fades quickly into night and I find myself knitting stitch after soothing stitch as I listen to the sounds of a song coming to life. The song they are working on has a dark and beautiful sound, and has most definitely been inspired by our isolated surroundings. It is the ideal soundtrack for knitting and watching the moon rise above the hills.

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One afternoon we decide to go on a walkabout to tour the natural springs that are in the area. We hike down into the valley, careful of our footing as we walk over chalky white rocks and through dry branches and thorny grasses. There is an artist living nearby that creates intricate sculptures out of the flat rocks that are abundant in the area and we happen upon a few of her works and study them with appreciation. As I survey the many precisely-placed layers of rocks, I am reminded that much like recording an album or knitting, some of the best creations are made slowly by building layer upon layer, stitch upon stitch.

sculpture

photo by Tim Underwood

As the days pass by, my hat is taking shape at a leisurely pace. I’m picking it up and putting it down often between dips in the swimming pool, walks to pick wildflowers or trips into town to refresh our stores of food. I’ll knit a few rounds as we’re all sitting around in the evenings, listening to the day’s work and discussing the songs left to be recorded. Just as I’m not in a rush to finish my hat, I’m not in a rush for my time here to be over, but before I know it I am binding off and weaving in the ends and packing my bags into the car to head home.

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Our trip has been full of so many fun memories that are forever linked in my mind with the songs that were recorded while we were here. And when the album is released and I hear the songs again, you can bet I will also be listening closely to see if I can hear sound of my knitting needles clicking away in the background.

Free Pattern: Hill Country Hat

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Originally published in Pom Pom Quarterly 4: Verdant Stitches, I’m happy to now offer the Hill Country Hat knitting pattern as a free Ravelry Download. The Hill Country hat knits up quickly in a bulky weight yarn and has a good amount of slouch. The finished size is 20.5 inches in circumference by 9.25 inches long, brim to crown.

Materials

Bulky weight yarn- approximately 142 yards/130 meters

Sample shown in Queensland Collection Kathmandu Chunky Tweed (85% merino, 10% silk, 5% cashmere; 142 yards/130 meters/100 g) in the colorway Oatmeal (108)

US 10.5/6.5 mm 16”/40 cm circular needles

US 10.5/6.5 mm double pointed needles (DPNs) or size needed to obtain gauge below

Tapestry needle for weaving ends

Stitch marker

Gauge

14 stitches and 20 rounds = 4”/10 cm in stockinette stitch, after blocking

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New Knitting Pattern: Wayfinder Mitts

photo by Nikki Mann

photo by Nikki Mann

I’m excited to announce that my Wayfinder Mitts knitting pattern is now available as a Ravelry download. Worked in Madelinetosh DK, each Wayfinder Mitt is cast on at the bottom edge and knit in the round. The top and bottom cuffs are worked in 2×2 rib, which stretches nicely to fit the wearer. The directional cables flow out of the ribbed cuff and are mirrored on the back of each hand. Thumb gussets are created by increases placed at the side of each mitt; after increasing, thumb stitches are placed on waste yarn and later picked up and worked in the round. Instructions are provided as both charted and written.

photo by Nikki Mann

photo by Nikki Mann

MATERIALS

DK weight wool yarn – approximately 115 yards/106 meters

Sample shown in Madelinetosh Tosh DK (100% superwash merino wool; 225 yards/206 meters/100 g) in the Antique Lace colorway on hands measuring 7.5″/19 cm in circumference.

US 6/4.0 mm (or size needed to obtain gauge) dpns, two circulars, or long circular for magic loop

Cable needle

3 Stitch markers

Tapestry needle for weaving ends

Waste yarn

GAUGE

22 sts by 30 rounds = 4”/10 cm in stockinette stitch

FINISHED SIZE

8”/20.5 cm long by 7”/17.75 cm in circumference (unstretched) to fit hands measuring 6.5″/16.5 cm to 8″/20.25 cm in circumference.

Visit the Ravelry pattern page here or buy now.

photo by Nikki Mann

photo by Nikki Mann

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Grey Day

When Joey and I were first dating, he told me his favorite color was grey and I thought he was mad.  (My favorite color at the time was cobalt blue).  “How can your favorite color be grey?  Grey isn’t really even a color.”

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Fast forward 17 (!!) years later and things have changed yet not changed.  Joey’s wardrobe consists of mostly greys, with some black and navy thrown in for good measure.  If you ask him his favorite color I am positive he would still answer with grey.  Me, I have nary a bit of cobalt blue around anymore, save for a set of baking dishes that were a wedding gift; a throwback to our early days.  Over the years I’ve most certainly come around to grey as a color.  Without even knowing it was happening, it might have just become my favorite color too.  I was yarn shopping with a friend the other day and she commented that when it comes to yarn, I almost always go for greys and I realized she was absolutely right.

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Today the sky is grey as grey can be and although I am a bit tired of cold grey weather, I’m not tired of grey the color.  Not even a little bit.

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