New (FREE!) Pattern: Braided Cable Vest

 

Today’s Classic Elite Web-Letter features a pattern by me!

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PatternBraided Cable Vest

DesignerRachel Henry

Available:  FREE from Classic Elite in Web-Letter #316

Yarn: CEY Chalet (or Chateau!) — 8 to 10 skeins, depending on size

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This is a super boxy vest — no shaping of any kind. All the drama is in the cables. The real secret is the amazing yarn though.  Chalet is to DIE for. So lofty, so soft, so LIGHT for such a bulky yarn!

From the pattern description:

This super-cozy vest, shown in Chalet, can also be knit in Chateau, Chalet’s colorful counterpart. A great layering piece, the vest is worked
flat, beginning with the cable in back. The cable turns the corner at the front and stitches are picked up from along the side of the cable band and the body is worked in one piece to the armhole. The vest is not intended to meet in the front and can be worn belted or open at the front.

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New Pattern Release: Canobie Cable Socks

Introducing my latest pattern: Canobie Cable Socks!

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PatternCanobie Cable Socks

DesignerRachel Henry (that’s me!)

Available: $2.99 at Knit Picks / $3.50 on Ravelry

Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll Tonal in Springtime

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Design/Skills Needed: The sinuous twisted-stitch cables that undulate around the leg and instep of these socks evoke the roller coasters at my favorite family amusement park: Canobie Lake Park. They are top-down socks with a traditional heel-flap and gusset. The cable pattern is unbroken around the leg and continues seamlessly into a ribbed heel and twines over the instep to the toe.

Because of the complex cables, this sock is not easily re-sized by changing the stitch count. Rather, the knitter is advised to go up or down a needle size to achieve a different leg circumference.

The cable pattern is charted, but full written directions are also provided for the knitter who prefers to knit from words. The pattern is technique-neutral — I hold no religious preference regarding DPNs, two circs, Magic Loop, tiny circs, etc. when I write patterns.

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Many thanks to my friend’s little girl, Sara, who modeled the socks for me.  I have extra-large, square-toed feet (thank you, Dutch ancestors) — not exactly the prettiest things to be shoving into socks for show. She had the perfect shoes to go with them, and as soon as the sample socks are back from Knit Picks, they will go home with Sara.

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Inspiration: An age and an eon ago, I spotted a cool sweater while standing in line at Canobie Lake Park.  I took a surreptitious photo of the woman’s sweater … I hope she didn’t think I was stalking her.  But the cables were neat! 🙂 They reminded me of the roller coasters.   I swatched and swatched and eventually tamed the pattern to the much-smaller canvas of socks.

2257 cool cabled sweater spotted at Canobie

Here is my first draft:

2349 Canobie sock (front view)2347 Canobie sock (side view)

 

I think the final version is more refined and lively! 🙂

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FO Friday: Coats for Gizmo and Golly

1153 Golly and Gizmo coats

One of my agility friends asked me to knit custom coats for her charming mini poodles, Gizmo (left) and Golly (right).  She wanted durable, washable yarn that was also soft and cozy, and came in her dogs’ signature colors. In terms of structure, the coats needed to have turtlenecks, front leg sleeves, and a high belly cut to allow pottying without soiling the coats.  We looked at a couple different patterns before settling on the attractive and versatile “Biscuits & Bones” pattern, sized from XS to XL. The modified “X’s and O’s” cable pattern resembles circular biscuits and long bones–very clever!

(This week’s FO is a re-wind — I’ve been working like mad all week on a design sample that I can’t share just yet.)

1122 Golly's Purple Coat

Project: Gizmo’s Red Coat and Golly’s Purple Coat

Pattern: Biscuits & Bones Dog Coat

Designer: Patons

Available: FREE! at patonsyarns.com

Yarn: Knit Picks Swish Worsted in Eggplant and Red (3 balls per coat)

1157 Golly's coat

Don’t you just love Golly’s grin??

I made Golly’s coat first (purple!) and made very few modifications.  The neck to tail is worked flat to the leg holes, where the work is split into three parts and worked separately for a few rows.  Then flat work across the entire piece resumes, continuing through the butt decreases.  Ribbing is picked up and knit in the round for the leg holes and around the belly/back (after the chest is seamed). My only serious modification was to keep edge stitches in stockinette, to make the picking up and seaming easier.

1159 Gizmo's coat

Gizmo is such a handsome fellow!

With Gizmo’s coat, I wanted to try knitting the chest in the round, to avoid seaming later on.  At the leg holes I worked just two sections (back and belly) flat, then rejoined for more work in the round, then worked flat for the back after casting off for the belly. This ended up being trickier than I anticipated … if I ever make another coat from this pattern, I will probably just make it flat and deal with the seam.

1152 Golly and Gizmo coats

Overall, the pattern is clear and well-written.  The cable patterns were written, so of course I charted them to avoid going insane.  (I work much better from a visual representation of a pattern.) I really appreciate that it came in so many sizes, and also that it accounted for the real chest shape of a dog (many dog sweater patterns seem to think dogs are shaped like humans, oops).  Swish Worsted was, as expected, perfect for the job at hand. The boys look great and are cozy too!

New Pattern Release: Rapunzel

Introducing my latest pattern: Rapunzel! This simple girl’s top is designing with color-changing or self-striping yarn in mind, but will work with both plain and variegated colorways. It can be worn alone, or layered over a shirt in cooler weather.

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Pattern: Rapunzel

Designer: Rachel Henry (that’s me!)

Available: for $1.99 at Knit Picks

Yarn: Knit Picks Chroma Fingering

1553 S in Rapunzel top

Inspiration: I swatched for this pattern using Felici Sport, a great self-striping yarn.  I wanted to show off the striping with a wide horizontal band, then work downwards.  When KP accepted the pattern, they offered me the new Chroma yarn … I could NOT resist. I just love how it turned out.  I used mostly-stockinette throughout, to highlight the color changes, with an itty bitty braid to add interest.  As I worked, I was reminded of Rapunzel letting down her braid … just like the off-center braid on the top, hence the name.

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Design/Skills Needed: Rapunzel is worked top-down, beginning with a large cabled bandeau that is worked sideways from a provisional cast-on and then joined in a circle. Stitches are picked up from the bottom edge of the cable, and the rest of the body is worked in the round. The bottom edge is finished with a simple ruffle. The straps are also mini versions of the main braid, with ruffled outer edges.

I would be delighted to answer any questions or help any knitters working on this project.

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/remcat/5536426944/&#8221; title=”1549 Rapunzel top by WoofBC, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5051/5536426944_a6234321f0.jpg&#8221; width=”375″ height=”500″ alt=”1549 Rapunzel top” /></a>

Yarn Review: Knit Picks Chroma Fingering

This week I’ve been knitting with Knit Picks Chroma Fingering, their brand-spanking-new, slow-color-changing yarn (also available in worsted weight). As far as I know, this was a top-secret project, and Knit Picks kept it quiet for over a year until it arrived just before Christmas with many fireworks and much ado, at least on the Ravelry boards.  There are already over 100 projects listed in Ravelry using Chroma, which is pretty amazing considering it was released just over a month ago.  If you’re curious about the process of creating a brand-new yarn line, check out Knit Picks Podcast #151.

I’m working on a new pattern for Knit Picks IDP.  I’d worked up a sample swatch in Felici Sport in the now-unavailable “Picnic” colorway, and submitted it to a magazine … after the usual epic wait for a decision (knitting magazines have a Very Long Time Horizon), they decided not to use it.  Ever the optimist, I re-did the submission and turned it right around to Knit Picks. It is incredibly reinforcing to submit to KP, because they decide so quickly! I heard back that the proposal was accepted within a week. Of course, nothing is final until they have the sample and finished pattern in hand, but they did agree to give me yarn support.  I was sad to hear that Felici wasn’t an option, but delighted when they agreed to send me some of the new Chroma! Yay!

Yarn: Knit Picks Chroma Fingering

Fiber: 70% wool, 30% nylon

Price: $8.99 for each 100-gram ball (396 yards)

Care: hand-wash

Colorway: U-Pick

1404 Chroma (glamour)

First Impressions:gorgeous, soft, fluffy, awesome

I pulled it out of the envelope and ooohed and ahhed out loud.  The balls are squishy round things that show all the gradual color changes. I cast on the same day, starting work on the sample for my pattern.  It begins with a simple braided cable on a garter-stitch background.  This strip is narrow (23 sts), so each color lasts several repeats.  When the cable was long enough, I joined it in a circle and picked up stitches all the way around, just over 100.  At this circumference, each color runs for about an inch. I was a little afraid that the repeats would be too short and make the fabric stripey, but instead I got exactly what I hoped for: slow, beautiful, easy gradations from one color to the next.

1403 Chroma Top

The yarn is spun as a single, and is similar to Malabrigo in texture (though Malabrigo, the king of softness, is perhaps a smidge softer than Chroma). Like every single-spun yarn I’ve ever used, it can be a bit cantankerous: it is splitty, dropped stitches are tricky to retrieve intact, and I had to use a cable needle on my big 5×5 cable crosses. However, once knit, the fabric is soft and smooth, with just a bit of variation (see the slightly bigger stitches in only one row? the yarn was a bit fatter there).

1405 Chroma (stockinette)

The finished fabric has a slight halo, even without being washed and blocked.  I expected it will bloom significantly after washing, and I suppose it would happily felt if mistreated. Even with the softness and halo, I found it had great stitch definition.

1406 Chroma (halo)

Now it’s obvious to me that Chroma is meant to compete with the biggies in slow-color-changing yarn: Noro, Mochi, and the like. I’ve knit one thing, once, with Noro Silk Garden … let us just say, I encountered every problem that Noro haters complain about: knots that interrupted the color changes, harsh yarn that hurt my hands, grass and other prickly junk in the yarn, yarn that pulled apart with very little provocation, and more. I’ve been sad not to knit with Noro, because I love the colors … I just can’t stand working with the yarn.  I am thoroughly delighted to have Chroma, which is such a pleasure to work with.

Rating: 5 of 5 DPNs

Tips and Tricks: Interchangeable Cables as Blocking Wires

Early this week I finished work on a lace scarf — it’s a sample knit that I need to photograph and send off to Knit Picks for their Independent Designer Program.  Assuming all goes well, the pattern for my “Aviator Scarf” will be live later this month.  The pattern has two versions: one for lace-weight yarn, and another for fingering-weight yarn.  I made the lace-weight sample first, out of Alpaca Cloud in Oyster Heather.  It’s lovely, but I got lazy in the blocking and didn’t use enough pins, which created an unintentional “scalloped” edge, as you can see in this photo:

1306 aviator scarf (lace weight)

If that’s what I were going for, all would be fine and good.  However, I really wanted the scarf to have a smooth, straight edge.  I was able to fix the “scallops” with a little judicious steam blocking, but when I finished the fingering-weight sample scarf (Gloss Fingering in Robot — how cool a colorway name is that?), I wanted to block it right the first time. Now, of course this would all be easier if I owned some proper blocking wires, but I don’t.  However, I did listen attentively when my friend Heather talked about her plan to block her recently completed pi shawl using the cables from her interchangeable needle set.  Brilliant, I thought!

(Let us pause for a moment to admire her gorgeous shawl!)

Without any further information, I decided to give it a go with my scarf.  I had two 40-inch cables available, which was enough for one side.  My other 40-inch cables were in use (ahem, WIPs, ahem), so I had to make do with four 24-inch cables on the other side.  I put my smallest needle tip (US 4) on one of the cable, and threaded it through each purl bump on the garter-stitch edge.  After this, I put cable end-caps on for safety, although I don’t think I’ll bother to do that in the future.

1326 blocking with KP cables

Pinning out the cables was a breeze:

1325 blocking with KP Cables

Here’s the whole thing, all pinned out:

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The results were fantastic — the cables came out smooth and easy.  The edge was great — just as smooth and straight as I could wish.  I was a little worried about some of the places where two cables met, but it turned out better than I expected. I still need to get pattern-quality photos taken of both versions of the scarf.  I’m hoping to steal away my photographer friend at this weekend’s agility trial for a few outdoor photos.  Failing that, I can take reasonably good photos on my own.  One way or another, the samples and the pattern PDF will be headed for Knit Picks early next week.