Sweetness All the Way ‘Round

Sweetness All the Way ‘Round


Elf

Really?

And because Elf is reminding us,  I bring to you a gift idea that I think is as yummy in its cuteness as it is in its practicality. The fact that the hat is knitted up in worsted weight (ok, the little cherry is in DK), it can easily be made on any on of those Fridays!  Cutie Patooties‘ Cupcake Hat is not only as cute as the designer’s name but is a quick knit that can use up your leftovers.  All I did was go to my leftover yarn stash and in no time had the lush light pink merino for the ribbed brim, otherwise to look like cake, the frosting in a more rugged fiber, and small amounts for the cherry and stem that you stuff with a little fiberfill.  Choose a size (the pattern is written for 3 different sizes) and in no time at all you have a hand made gift that will delight!

Here is my version, a recent little gift I gave to my granddaughter at a family reunion.  Knitted in size 1 – 3, you see the ribbing folded back, a lovely alternate way to fit and wear for now while offering expansion opportunities for later.

Cupcake Hat Project as seen on Ravelry

Laurel

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Skills:  the stuffed cherry needs some skill in magic loop or double-pointed needles and the icing dribbling from the frosting is a bit of crochet.  The hat is knitted flat, sewn together, ribbing is added by picking up stitches along one side, a deft darning needle gathers the top allowing you to then, decorate to your heart’s content.   Possibilities:  sprinkles, multiple cherries, leaves… use your imagination!

A Guide on Gauge

I am not sure if this post ought to be called A Guide on Gauge or Gauge Guiding.  In either case, I have become a huge fan of knitting up gauges!   To the uninformed, the process of taking time to work up a gauge might seem like an unnecessary and/or optional step in working up a hand knit.

There is one reliable way to get that hand knitted garment that you’ve been slaving over or about to slave over to fit the way you want each and every time.  And, that way is to TAKE TIME TO WORK UP A GAUGE.   I know of no other way to gain knowledge in how your garment is going to fit except for this.  Gauge simply means to knit up a swatch or a little square knitted piece of fabric in the stitch or color work that consumes most of your sweater.  Seems simple enough and the directions always state that a knitter ought to start with this step, first!   However, and under very understandable circumstances, you are so excited to begin the project itself, this task seems tedious.  Let me tell you, it becomes a whole lot MORE tedious when you knit that swatch and it does not measure what it should.  Normally a swatch measures 4 in. x 4 in. (10cm. x 10cm.) with the specific number of stitches and specific number of rows given in the directions.

I remember in the early years of knitting, I would read that step, even though in every pattern it is written in capital  letters (as above), I would ignore.  And, I can sit here and remember exactly how many sweaters fit exactly the way I wanted back in the day.  Very few to none.  Many mistakes later, I now am fully committed to this step.

So, I’m currently working up gauges (notice the plural form) for this lovely project I call March of the Elephants designed by Martin Storey for hubby, photographer who is long overdue for a hand knit.  Isn’t he gorgeous…. yes, I am meaning the sweater!  Can you imagine taking the time to knit this beauty only to give it away and that person saying “hmmm… love it but…”Noah's ArkSomehow, when I knit for another, I am even MORE committed in making sure the finished project fits as I am fully aware of  the excitement any beautiful, new garment is in a wardrobe and the anticipation and imagination of when and where it might be worn.

TIPS ON KNITTING GAUGE(S):

1.  ACCURACY :  Knitting a larger swatch gives you more accuracy.  Many knitting experts say the gauge ought to measure 8in. x 8in. (20cm. x 20cm.)  Finishing School a Master Class for Knitters by Deborah Newton speaks to this end.  Rule of thumb is for more stitches to the inch, choose a smaller needle size than required.  For fewer stitches to the inch, choose a larger one.

2.  ORGANIZATION:  Starting with the recommended needle size, keep the completed gauge on the needle.  That way you will be able to remember which gauge was done with what size needle and can continue to knit onto it if needed.

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3.  WASTE NOT:  Do not worry about the yarn amounts you might use up in gauge work as they can easy be ripped out and the yarn and can  be used in your project.

4.   AWARENESS:  Think about what you’re knitting!  Remember, you are in full control and literally creating the fabric for your garment.  Compare those finished gauges because you might like the tightness or looseness of one gauge over the other.  The ‘math’ or number of stitches per inch/number of rows per inch can always be altered if you prefer a gauge that is of a different needle size than what was recommended.  This is the beautiful part of creating from scratch.  You are the master of your own creation!

5.  CONFIDENCE BUILDING:  I feel much more confident and fully in command of my project when I know exactly how many stitches and rows to the inch I am getting.  I will know exactly the length and width of every section of my project.   Then, I am confident that the time I am taking to knit this masterpiece will fit the recipient the way he/she wants.

6.  PREPAREDNESS:  My tape measure is by my side at all times.  I check my gauge regularly throughout the knitting process.

Please keep in mind there is a certain science on the topic of gauge.  This is simply a plea for the reader to understand the importance of realizing taking time to check YOUR gauge will indeed make the difference between fit success and fit failure of your project.

 

 

Unlikely Knitting Collectible

Unlikely knitting collectible

two become one

in pursuit of an image

planning, traveling, reflecting

enjoying the experience

without whom

are separate.

 

Unlikely knitting collectible

dear friends

reunite

after many years

sharing in fashion

once again

they may look like twins

 

Unlikely knitting collectible

suggestion made

professional

keynote speaker

was that my name?

in time of comfort and sorrow

and she doesn’t even know.

‘Plan, Make, Finish, Wear’ and then …

‘Plan, Make, Finish, Wear’ and then …

Now, the question becomes who thought of this motto first, VK or me?  The motto I am now seeing heading the instruction pages in recent issues of Vogue Knitting:  plan, make, finish, wear has been my mantra for the last 35 years or so whether it be in knitting or sewing (my personal predecessor to hand knitting).  I have always aimed to wear what I make and I do!

It oftentimes becomes more than that because when I have worn my hand knits, I notice whether they are ‘wearing’ the way that I want.  Odd to say that if some aspect of a hand knit is noticed (by me) in the wearing, it oftentimes means there is some kind of issue with it.  I know, you are thinking that I would want to notice a hand knit, however, as the wearer, it normally means there is a pull or a snag or a tightness/looseness somewhere that is not comfortable or is in the way and then I fuss with it or even worse, will not wear it, again.  It is the same with ready wear so I am sure all of you can attest to this in some sort or another.  So, it is always my goal to NOT notice the garment that I am wearing and then I realize how great it is  and know that I will choose to wear it, again.  Likely, I’ve talked about this before however, it was to this end that the project I call “Rust” came to be.

I recently decided that it was time to stop and take inventory of the current collection of my hand knits to tidy up projects that had little nuances or bothers to them that, if fixed or altered, would be more comfortable to me in the next wearing.  In some cases it was simply changing the buttons as the original buttons were too heavy or threading elastic into ribbing as the ribbing was stretched or sewing seam binding into a seam that was pulling.   You can see and read about these alterations in a recent blog entry called “Snaps and Cackle May Put a Little Pop into your Knits”.   Well, on this journey of ‘fix-its’, I came across the below project, a lovely hand knit designed by Norah Gaughan and knitted with Pure Merino DK by Berroco.  I love this cardigan for its luxurious fabric and collar and cuff detail.

Details of ‘Chocolate” As Seen in Ravelry

Chocolate Cardi with Detachable Wrap 217664_1840835033506_7508011_n

However, I stopped and told myself to stop lying about this gorgeous piece as truthfully, this sweater feels very tight, especially in the armholes, so tight that as much as I love it, it was not being worn.  Now, how to fix THIS, I thought? And, slowly I confronted my reality and told myself I really needed to reknit the entire project for a fit that would be more comfortable for me if indeed I was to get proper enjoyment.  After all, is that not why I knit… to enjoy what I wear.

So, the commitment was made to deal with this and the search and questions began.  New yarn or rip apart the sweater?  If I kept the sweater in tact, what would I do with it?  Same or similar pattern?  When would I be willing to spend time on this?  Somehow, the questions did not linger for long as the pieces of the plan fairly fell into place.  The good and only good news about redoing a project is you are so familiar with it that you can keep what went right and easily change what went wrong.

Utilizing Facebook as my avenue for a possible ‘giveaway’, my gently worn sweater was advertised and quickly swept up by a friend.  That meant new yarn for my replacement.   I loved the yarn of the old, so I went on a quest to find more of the same.  Discontinued.  Yes, of course.  Ebay however had a lovely color with the EXACT number of skeins I needed.  Perfect… in rust, much like my hair color or the beautiful oriental area rug that is the focal point of  our living room.   So happy to receive the yarn I did not notice immediately its shortcomings.   However, it did not take long…  damaged…not one ball, but several.   In researching to keep the yarn or not, I learned of its plight having been bounced from one ‘yarnee to another’ much like unwanted pets.  I fell in love with it in its sad condition and felt I needed to do something great with it thinking of the effort that went into producing such a wonderfully soft fiber, not to mention the seller was so darn reasonable.  Unwinding each ball and cutting out damaged yardage here and there, I came to realize there would not be enough yarn to work up the original pattern to replicate.  However, a similar pattern caught my eye… “Assemblage” by the same designer, Norah Gaughan and I felt I had enough yarn for it.  I could NOT let this yarn sit any longer on anyone’s shelf so I knew the time to knit this was immediate.  Alterations to the body of the sweater making it longer and narrower as opposed to A-line shape were configured, mix and match buttons from my button collection were chosen, and one row buttonholes, a MUST to actually function properly were put into the plans all the way down for the elongation effect I always desire.  Keeping the beautiful sculpture of the collar and sleeve cuff were, of course, a must as they were  the link that reminded me of the original.

More Pattern Details of ‘Rust’ in Ravelry

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I cannot say rust is the most thrilling color to knit with or that endless stockinette stitch is interesting and highly engaging and keeps the attention, however what you see here is exactly what I planned and is the best of everything new and has answered for the shortcomings of the original.

And, the best part is that now I have a sweater that I easily wear with its comfy fit and roomy layering possibilities AND a dear friend of mine will be sporting around enjoying hers.

 

A Fashionable Fishing Hole

A Fashionable Fishing Hole

It began with the yarn this time, which for me, is very unusual;  beautiful Rowan Felted Tweed DK mostly in navy and a variety of other colors that were in my stash.  I have quite a collection of this yarn due to sales, left over from projects, and some from projects that have been reconsidered.  And recently, I’ve made a concerted effort to deal with some of these balls of yarn that have been hanging around now for some time.  So, I set out looking for a pattern that involved multiple colors and, of course, would work up to gauge.  Figuring it was Rowan yarn, I set upon looking for a Rowan pattern predicting I would have quite the choice.  And, I suppose stripes were on my mind as I have been noticing an abundance of striped projects recently flowing through on Ravelry.  Of course, fair isle lurked as a possibility, as well.  When I saw Julia Frank‘s short row pullover with a 70’s graphic theme, I knew that my search was over.

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So, began the fun part, the choosing of the four colors.  I love red and thought that the red would  brighten up the color scheme beautifully and so I purposely set out to place that red in the most conspicuous stripes.

redWell, I was so excited, changing the needle size and stitch count a gazillion times to get the right gauge and was off and running.  I completed the back, blocked it, and left it to dry.  Upon returning home after work ready to begin the front, I stopped short.  It looked exactly like:Mably cardiThree of the four colors were in my lovely British Flag sweater and somehow, the striping (at least the way I had worked it up) looked identical to the above.  As much as I love my “Jack and Me” jacket, I did not want another so I ripped the entire back out and set out again to configure my color scheme.  Hubby to the rescue with his amazing sense of color, and we came up with the below replacing the red only with a teal green:

blue greenSo soft in hue, I thought the colors were really pretty together.  And, admittedly, the redo also gave me more practice at getting the short row skill down to a science.  Back redone, front knitted, sleeves solid, I felt I now had a beautiful work of art with its own identity.

I will admit I again stopped short upon getting to the front neckline.  There was no shaping to it!  Shape the front neckline, not shape the front neckline, that was the choice.  I read what others had done at this conjuncture and most had done some kind of improvising.  I chose to make it like it was figuring  I  like boatneck style and could see how the boat neckline did compliment the swirl-like nature of the pattern.  I am pleased with the effect.

The pattern itself is written clearly enough with some differences in terminology from American published knitting magazine(s) but those differences can easily be interpreted.  However, I never realized how much I have come to rely on the schematic of a design until I saw this:

IMG_3590Well, first off, how wide was the armhole and how wide were the shoulder seams?  How wide was the neckline and how wide were the cuff of the sleeves?   For such a gorgeous book, such magnificent photography, highly respected designers, and  lovely patterns, I was sorely disappointed.  Yes, I was able to complete the schematic by hand writing the measurements by utilizing the gauge and stitch count given within the directions.  It was just the fact that I had to.  Check out a schematic below from Vogue Knitting of a similar shaped garment and you will clearly see the difference.  Such a time savings having all the measurements at a glance!

schmatic VKWhat can I say, I’m just spoiled knitting mostly from those Vogue Knitting patterns.   With no other hardship, this project moved full throttle and here I am at one of my hubby’s fishing holes with a work of art I will have for many years to come.

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‘Keeping Site’ for Knit Wear

‘Keeping Site’ for Knit Wear

This could easily be a three part series:  storage of yarn as part one, the management of the process of work(s) in progress, and the final ‘keeping site’ of finished projects.  And, for me it is that final step in this series that is capturing my attention as the number of successful finished projects continues to grow.

How is it that an over abundance of a good thing could possibly cause a problem in my life?  Or, maybe all obsessions come with challenges.  Well, the challenge I confronted this last weekend had to do with my ever growing collection of hand knits and space in which to store them.  Possibly, it was Spring cleaning that was the motivator.  Whatever the inspiration, I do feel like I may have come up with a solution that meets my happiness in not only the keeping of the sweaters neat and orderly but also, in keeping with minimal clutter.  And, I will admit it was with a bit of good fortune and a creative scrounging around the house whereby I was able to come up with such a solution.  First, my criteria:

  •  one room in which to store
  •  the room itself be neat and functional for overnight guests
  • as much light and space as possible to stay in that room aka minimal clutter and piles
  • easy, quick accessibility of those garments
  • loft or air for sweaters; not piled heavily on top of one another
  • expense free plan

Now, I don’t know about you but “expense free” shopping heads me into the basement.  Now, you would think I would know what was already down there but in a thirty plus year marriage and lots of furniture exchange from one room to the other, children living here and moving, inheriting pieces of furniture from relatives, and/or furniture that hasn’t been moved in ages that becomes part of the scenery over time, one just forgets or doesn’t “see”  exactly what is down there until one starts hunting.  And, sure enough, lo and behold a stroke of amazing luck!  A cedar chest… yes, a cedar chest we bought years, ago for a different house that was holding linens might just be the perfect thing to bring up to the spare bedroom, the chosen room, to begin the process of storage.  After some serious scrubbing, she looked like this.  And, if you get close enough, you can get a waft of that glorious cedar scent.

storage

I was amazed at just how many of my most precious hand knits could fit without stuffing!  Light weight pieces fit on top with my beloved suits and dresses laying perfectly underneath.

IMG_3506Now, I am noticing this room has an especially deep corner behind the entry door.  Hmm… maybe the covered shelf that is in the other room would fit neatly, there I thought.  Perfect!  Here you see the shelving unit covered and further below, you can see how the flap in front can be rolled up attractively.

IMG_3524And, keeping just the seasonal sweaters, rather than focusing on the entire catch, could  provide easy accessibility.

IMG_3509Yup, the seasonal sweaters fit perfectly; easy access and plenty of space for loft and care of each one…

Now, I thought, if I could take over the closet, that would keep the rest of the room free of clutter.   Off to do some negotiating with the hubby.  Deal made, and fabric boxes purchased awhile back, fit perfectly into the back spaces on the existing shelves.  This met the criteria of holding the sweaters that are out of season as the boxes have plenty of room to pack lightly,  keep the projects dust free, the boxes themselves can stack on top of one another and I think are very attractive.   They easily collapse when not in use.  And, did I mention they have little pockets on the outside able to hold labels?

IMG_3512 IMG_3511 IMG_3521Close the closet door, and the out-of-season beauties are out of sight.

A possible alternative could be to place the decorative fabric boxes  on top or under the shelving unit as such:

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In evaluating the plan, I went back to my criteria and I do believe I may have found a system that just may work for me.

And, the lovely cedar chest works perfectly for suitcases and other such purposes for overnight travelers.

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Confirmed

So as not to linger with thoughts of neglect towards poor hubby for too long, THIS gorgeous eye-catching cardigan will be draped over my husband’s back, front, shoulders, opened, closed, in wetness and in dry, in the morning, at noon, and throughout the evenings when next the snow doth fall…

Designed by Martin Storey as seen in The Knitter, Issue 67

Noah's Ark

and the yarn was just ordered!

ITEM: ROWANTWEED OPTIONS: Buckden

ITEM: COLOURSPUN OPTIONS: Winterburn

A Knitter’s Reality Check

A Knitter’s Reality Check

Once upon a time, I knitted an argyle vest for hubby, photographer.  Possibly some fifteen or so years, ago.  We went to a local yarn shop, he chose the yarn, beautiful Donegal Wool, and I knitted him this argyle vest from Vogue Knitting, Fall 1995.  Argyle was “in”, then.  And, he hasn’t taken the vest off, since.  I mean he wears it like a bathrobe in the mornings, as a sweater vest in the afternoons, and as a jacket for errand running in the evenings.  The vest does not come off.  And, with every wearing he comments on his love of it.

Argyle Vest as seen in Ravelry

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I do not think there is one single item of clothing in either one of our wardrobes that gets more wear than this garment.  So, it is no surprise that it has stretched, pilled, misshapen, is stained, and has  yarn literally worn away around the neck’s edge.   Now, a knitted garment can handle some abuse, but when the yarn becomes nonexistent as in no longer there, it is time to step in for the rescue.

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So, after digging down deep into my stash of left over yarns,  I found the remnants from this project.   Tip number one:  Always save a bit of yarn from all of your projects for potential fix-its down the road.  Tip number two:  Using that new yarn and a crochet hook (medium sized), start somewhere.   For me I started at a button.  Pick up a stitch along the edge and crochet a chain stitch into it.  With each stitch, crochet a chain stitch.  For me, I went all the way around and ended up at the buttonhole.  That way, it gave a very nice new edge completely around and you can barely see where the threadbare spot even was.

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Now, this will keep the man happy and he was thrilled with the result.  However,  what this is really telling me is how long it has been since I’ve knitted for my hubby  and how much the man needs a new updated project given to him from me.

 

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