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.

FireFlower’s Trend Report for Fall (with Free Pattern Links)

I am the first to admit that I am not exactly a style maven. I am a stay-at-home mom of young children, I don’t read fashion magazines, and I choose my clothing in large part for its ability to survive frequent washing. However, I do have a long-standing interest in fashion as a cultural phenomenon, and I do my own particular brand of trend-watch each spring and fall. I canvass several of my favorite online stores, and come up with what I see as the trends for the season. This season, I decided to match these up with some free pattern links and post them for the benefit of my readers.

Here is what I am seeing:

  • elbow-length and 3/4 sleeves
  • empire-waisted and babydoll silhouettes
  • sweater coats
  • short sleeved pullovers and cardigans
  • cardigans cropped to level of natural waist or bottom of ribcage

Cari’s latest design, Trilce, gets special mention, even though it is not yet available for purchase. This is a fun design which is exactly on-trend for this season. How on-trend? Well, look at this one from Nordstrom. I bet you can knit your own wool version for less than it retails for. I’ll update with a link to the finished design once it’s up for sale.

Free Patterns

(and a few special designs available for sale online)

Sunkist Cardi— a great 3/4 sleeve raglan cardi, which you can customize to fit. (Scroll down to find a link to the PDF file in the sidebar).

Summer Sky— a short-sleeved cropped cardi, be sure to get the errata here.

Reversible Lace Rib Shrug— you can use this pattern from to make your own out of any yarn between dk and bulky weight.

Lara Pinwheel Sweater with Crocheted Edges–another sweater from Elann. You could easily modify it to be a twin for this one. If you don’t crochet, you can be like Wendy and knit on an edging. See her finished version in this post. Her original edging pattern is available on her free patterns page.

Circular Shrug–an innovatively constructed vest or cap-sleeved cardi similar to this one from Anthropologie.

Anthropologie-inspired Shrug–quick, versatile, customizable, and it’s back for spring.

Cloud Bolero–a lovely cropped cardigan, see a photo of a finished bolero here.

Vino Cardigan–a great sweater coat pattern available for sale from Laura Chau of Cosmic Pluto.

Brennan Cardigan–a great shawl-collared sweater coat design, and the pattern is available for free.

Serrano–a lovely lacy cardigan pattern made with sock yarn, also by Laura Chau.

Stardust–a lacy cropped cardigan with a tie closure.

Something Red–a charming short-sleeved cardigan pattern available for sale from Wendy Bernard of Knit and Tonic.

Starsky–a shawl-collared sweater coat with leaf-themed cable panels.

Brompton–free sweater coat pattern with neat reversible cuffs you can fold down to keep your hands warm or fold up to keep out of the way.

Just as a bonus, here’s a new men’s pullover pattern from Tiennie, the Fog Sweater.

How to Wash and Block a Circular Shawl

1. Weave in all the ends using duplicate stitch.
2. Fill washing machine with warm (not hot) water.
3. Dissolve a small amount of gentle shampoo (I just use what I use for my own hair) or wool wash (such as Eucalan or Soak) into the wash water.
4. After turning off the washing machine to prevent agitation, gently lower the shawl into the wash water, and allow to sit for 10 minutes or so.
5. Carefully set the washing machine to “Spin” and allow it to go through its spin cycle, stopping it when you stop hearing water draining from the machine.
6. If you have used shampoo and the shawl requires rinsing, lift the shawl carefully from the machine, refill the machine with warm water, turn it off to prevent agitation, and gently lower the shawl back into the clean warm water. Run the spin cycle again as in step 5.
7. Spread out a clean blanket on the carpet or a guest bed, and spread the clean, damp shawl over the top of it.
8. Place a single pin in the center of the shawl.
Shawl Center
9. Tie a loop in a piece of cotton thread or string, and measure out the desired shawl radius (this is half the desired circumference, in my case the radius was 30″). Mark this length with a knot in the opposite end of the string.
10. Place the loop around the center pin in the shawl.
11. Use the knotted cotton string to measure out the position for pinning each point or scallop of the shawl, starting with each of the four compass points. Placing each pin in the knit fabric adjacent to the yarn-over will make soft open eyelets and scallops instead of harsh points.
Edging being blocked
12. Continue pinning each point, placing pins at the 1/8 points, the 1/16 points, and so on, until all the points have been pinned out. Take breaks from time to time to prevent injuring your back or knees. (This process took me about 2 1/2 hours, so plan accordingly.) Now is a good time for taking pictures.
13. Leave to dry for several hours or over night, until shawl is completely dry.
Shawl blocking
14. Remove pins, careful to ensure that none are left in your carpet or bed to be found later by unsuspecting persons.
15. Admire your completed shawl. Happy twirling, and self-congratulatory remarks are acceptable, and, in fact, encouraged. Consider that it took you months (or possibly years) to reach this point, and enjoy your success. It will help you to have the motivation later to embark on another one.

Trendy Accessories (and Free Pattern Links) for Fall

My camera has gone sadly AWOL, so no picture today.  I have about half of the edging knitted onto the Pi Shawl.  it moves slowly because the edging has patterning on both sides, and also because my nearly one-year-old son doesn’t like to let me knit much these days.  Not to mention being busy getting ready for the move to Vancouver…

Anyway, I’ve been noticing a couple of trends in accessories in the stores and online, which I thought I’d share with you.  The first is newsboy caps.  I am seeing lots and lots of newsboy caps.  These are really cute for almost any age person who cares to wear one, and they would make good gifts as well.  I have found a number of patterns online, mostly crocheted, but a few knitted as well.

Also, pashmina-style shawls.  Pashminas are traditionally made from cashmere or a  blend of cashmere and silk, but any soft fiber would be nice.  They usually measure 12″ x 60″ (large ones measure 28″ x 80″).  Traditional pashminas are woven, but there is no reason you couldn’t knit one.  The size is very versatile, as it can be worn as a scarf, a shoulder wrap, or a head covering.  Many rectangular scarf or stole patterns would be adaptable to typical pashmina dimensions.  Ideally you want something ranging between laceweight and sport-weight yarn so that it drapes nicely and can be worn single or double thickness, depending on the weather.  Now, this might sound like a lot of knitting, but you could make something really beautiful out of a few ounces of lace or sportweight luxury fiber yarn on size 6 or 8 needles (4 or 5 mm) in plain garter stitch with a lace edging or a fringe at either end.  In garter stitch, it could make mindless knitting for watching TV, listening to a compelling audiobook, or even while reading or studying if you were to prop your book open on a table in front of you.  Of course, using one of the many gorgeous rectangular shawl patterns available, it could also be an interesting challenge.

Here are some pattern links: