Hah! You thought I was gone for good, didn’t you?

Here I am, back again after a really long break.  There has been knitting.  There has been moving to a small town in the Cascade Mountains.  Now, there is extremely cold weather with snow.  My little weather gadget places current conditions at 11 degrees F (that’s -12 Celsius).  This has me thinking about covering all available people in warm wooly things.  Over the summer I made a gift for a very small person who I hope is now warm and cozy.  Here it is:

Baby Surprise Jacket

A Baby Surprise Jacket knitted in oddballs of worsted weight wool on 4mm needles (US 6).   It came out charming and about 6 months to 1 year size, which is what I was going for. Of course the pattern is from Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Knitting Workshop.  I knitted a collar and longer sleeves, and its been a long time so I don’t remember exactly how I did it, but you can find the relevant information for the collar at the KnitWiki’s BSJ page. I think for the sleeves I started out with a provisional cast-on at the start of the pattern (which is knitted all in one piece), then at the end knitted down until the sleeve length matched the length of the sleeves on one of Little Fox’s baby sweaters. You can find information about obtaining the pattern and how it goes together on the KnitWiki page I linked to above.

The recipients are fiber people (Baby R’s mama knits and spins), and are gung-ho for wool, so I knew this would be well received.  They live on a farm in an old farmhouse in Multnomah County which is frequently damp and chilly, so I thought the little one should have something warm and cozy.  This fit the bill nicely and was great fun to knit.  I am looking forward to another opportunity to knit a BSJ as soon as someone has a baby and I have some notice. Every time you knit one there’s a chance to play around with it and do something new and different.  Next time I think I’ll play with stripes some more.  On this one the stripes came out a bit more subtle than I had envisioned.

Bear has asked me to knit something for a couple of his colleagues with new babies, but there’s no time for two BSJs in the next month, so I’m planning to do a couple of cute baby hats.  Ravelry keeps me up to my eyeballs in interesting patterns.  I’ll post some more finished projects from the break soon.


Progress on wavy rib socks and some free sock pattern links

Progress on Wavy Rib Socks

It’s been an age since I posted about my wavy rib socks. They had a little adventure on their own when I left them behind the couch at Bear’s parents’ place on a visit a couple of months ago. Recently my MIL found them and sweetly mailed them back to me. A weekend trip allowed me some rare uninterrupted knitting time and I’m back in the groove of working on them.

For those who’d enjoy some free pattern links, here are some I’ve found recently:

Magic Mirror Socks by Jeannie Cartmel
This is a really intriguing toe-up sock pattern with a great stitch pattern.

Slippin’ Stripin’ Socks by Tina Lorin
Here’s a pattern that features really appealing color-blended stripes using slip-stitch patterns and two colors of laceweight.  Available for download on Ravelry.

Fluke by Laurie Lee
This is a really lovely sock pattern using an unusual lace motif I haven’t seen before.

Franklin of The Panopticon had something really good to say in this post.  I encourage you to read his latest essay if you haven’t already.

Great knitting books that don’t cost a fortune

Some favorite knitting books

There are some great out-of-print knitting books out there, especially in the area of colorwork. Many of them are still available from your local library, or you can pay shocking prices on Amazon or Ebay. But I wanted to highlight some great books that are still in print and don’t cost a fortune.

Sheila McGregor’s Traditional Fair Isle Knitting and Traditional Scandinavian Knitting are both excellent books. They are full of colorwork charts and information about how the traditional sweaters (as well as hats, mittens, and gloves) were constructed. They do not feature lots of glamorous photographs, and they do not contain any line-by-line patterns.  They are not coffee table books showing professionally modeled high-fashion knitwear in spectacular settings.   Rather, they are fairly highly technical and mostly in black and white, the photographs appear rather dated, and the writing is rather dry.  What I love about them is that they give me tools I can use to create my own works of knitting art.  They include enough charts to keep me busy for a lifetime, alongside a wealth of information about traditional construction techniques.  They leave me free to sort out details of yarn choice and color, to design something that uniquely expresses my own aesthetic, while making use of time-tested techniques and taking inspiration from the wealth of creativity and experience in the Fair Isle and Scandinavian knitting traditions.  If you are looking to explore knitting stranded colorwork, these are both books I would recommend.

Cheetah Couture

Cheetah Couture

A cheetah sweater. Isn’t it cute? What? You don’t knit sweaters for your children’s toys? Whyever not? Makes the kid happy, and if you’re inventive, replaces a gauge swatch for something else. Quick, easy, and if the fit is not terribly precise, who’s to care? Also, the cheetah will never outgrow this sweater, will not decide that it’s too itchy to wear, and will not develop a sudden aversion to the color. I think I might do some more of these as gauge swatches or to test out pattern stitches in a super small project. I’m pleased that, unlike socks or mittens, I only have to knit one.

A little progress, and some great tutorials to explore

Japanese Feather Scarf progress

As you can see in the above picture, there has been some knitting. The scarf is now about halfway done, despite a significant mishap involving Little Fox and both cats that required ripping out several rows, picking up dropped stitches, and splicing the yarn in three places. It’s lucky for me that the Malabrigo Laceweight is super easy to splice since it’s a softly spun single. It’s also really lovely. This is my favorite laceweight I have worked with thus far. It is soft, fuzzy, subtly variegated, and I am completely charmed with it. Little Fox and Willow have colds, so there has been sniffly, achy, miserableness that has needed extra mothering. Since reading is one of the few activities readily compatible with comforting a sick toddler, there has been a plunge into knitting books, a whole bunch of knitting books. I’m thinking a series of book reviews would be appropriate blog fodder for sometime soon. At this point, suffice it to say that I love my public library system. I’m still fantasizing about colorwork, and also about spinning. I’ve been playing around with charting using Excel, thanks to Marnie’s fabulous tutorial. Marnie’s tutorial series is really amazing, and if you are doing some designing, whether for some form of publication or just for yourself, I bet you’d learn something new from these. For me, there’s probably enough material there to keep me playing around for a year or two.

Knitting Daydreams

There has not been much knitting.  Little Fox loves is intrigued by my knitting and loves to come and pull on it, and so unless he is asleep or otherwise occupied, I can’t make progress.  I have to hide it somewhere out of reach or he pulls it out of the bag and plays with it, sometimes collaborating with the cats, resulting in tangles,  dropped stitches, and yarn strewn across the whole apartment.  The Japanese Feather Lace scarf is about twice as long as it was the last time I posted, but it is my only active project and looks about the same as it did in the last picture.  To console myself and you, I will post some links to things I have been fantasizing about while occupied with the little guy.

First, Kauni sweaters have been going around the knitting blogs, but I was never much taken with the original blocky pattern.  I’ve been seeing some really gorgeous ones on Ravelry over the last few weeks in other patterns.  For example this one from Freddy and this one from laknitgirl.  This brings me to Jessica Tromp, whose website has lots of great stuff including a ton of knitting charts.  Be sure to browse around the site, as many of these would be suitable for this sort of project.  The Kauni cardigan from laknitgirl makes use of one of Jessica’s charts, as does this one from Knitternutter.  I like some of the alternate colorways people are using, especially Babbz’ which combines pinks and purples to lovely effect. (I’m using links to people’s flickr pages instead of Ravelry links so everyone can access them easily, but please let me know if Ravelry links would be preferable.)

In the colorwork fantasy vein, I’ve been flipping through my copy of Traditional Fair Isle Knitting, which is a great source for charts and information about how the traditional Fair Isle sweaters are designed and constructed.  (It is also in print and quite reasonably priced.)  I was intrigued to notice that most of the traditional sweaters seem to use only between 5 and 8 colors, with the simplest designs using only 4 colors.  Most of them use between 1 and 3 light colors for the ground and between 3 and 5 darker colors for the patterning.  This really has me thinking, because it opens up a lot of possibilities.  Not every yarn will allow for 18 or 20 (or more) coordinated color selections, but most provide enough color options to allow for a colorway of 5 or 6 colors.  Also, this would considerably simplify the process over knitting up a Starmore or Fassett design.

Sadly, at the moment, colorwork like this is just not doable for me.  Even the simple Japanese lace scarf is probably more complicated than would be ideal.  I shudder to think of the sort of tangles I would wind up with if Little Fox got into a colorwork project of any size or complexity.  Ah well, he won’t be at this age for very long, so I’m just going to try to enjoy it and stick to simpler knitting.  Maybe I can satisfy my urge for color knitting with something like a hat or fingerless mitts in just two colors.

A new lace scarf and some pattern links

Lace scarf in progress

I’ve been working on a new scarf in some Malabrigo laceweight.  The yarn is lovely stuff.  The pattern is Japanese Feather Lace from Barbara Walker’s first treasury, and it’s much simpler than you would think for a 28-row repeat.  There are really only 5 pattern rows.  The wrong-side rows are not plain purl, but they are nearly that simple, a k1 p10 rib across the back.  I made my own chart using Jacquie’s KnitChart applet and my computer’s screen capture program.  The lace pattern has an alternating bias which makes pretty wavy edges without requiring extra work.  It’s always gratifying to find a pattern that looks more complicated than it really is.

I haven’t been doing much blogging these past few weeks, because there hasn’t been much opportunity for knitting.  Little Fox is going through one of those toddler phases where he’s not leaving me much in the way of time to sit and knit.  I’m hoping to go through soon and fix some of the links to patterns from the now-defunct MagKnits archives.  In the meantime, here’s a collection of links to patterns from my Ravelry favorites.

Free Patterns:

A Better Bucket (pdf download)

Feather Stole (crochet)

Inca Alpaca Fair Isle Mitts

Frothy Gothy Wristwarmers

Retro Wedge Felted Bag

Lace Ribbon Scarf

Tipsy Rib Scarf

Ballband Dishcloth Reusable Swiffer Cover

For Sale:

Solstice Bag

Granny Smith Cardigan

Lucy in the Sky Cardigan

Flutter Scarf

Scheherazade Lace Stole

Rivendell Sock