Last fall I started something new-to-me: sample knitting for another designer. Since then I’ve completed perhaps half a dozen projects for a staff designer at Plymouth Yarns. I really enjoy the challenge of knitting from a new pattern and working on a time table, even though sometimes the deadlines can be a little stressful. Working closely with an experienced knitwear designer has been educational and fun too. Best of all, this is paid work — the rate varies depending on the complexity of the pattern, but it is enough to make it worth my time.
The hard part, like anything associated with designing, is waiting to talk about it! Today I can share photos of my 2nd project with Plymouth: the Vita Vest.
Project: Vita Vest
Pattern: Vest 2045
Designer: Plymouth Yarn Design Stuido
Available: ask your LYS
Yarn: Plymouth Yarn Vita (color 751)
This was a cute little project — a simple pieced vest with all-over moss stitch. I liked the interesting shape as the hem curved up to mean the V-neck at a single button. The Vita yarn was a pleasure to work with: soft and drapey.
For Christmas this year, I gave seven gift certificates to close family members for a “Knit 4 U x Me” gift: they can choose from several suggestions, or ask for something else completely. It’s a clever trick, because my giftees get exactly what they want, and I’m not swamped by Christmas knitting.
My Grandpa Bob made this request:
Commercial hat size is “large.” Measure is 22 1/2″.
Summer I’m a bill cap or straw, so best use a wool or such yarn.
Color wise? Hey, I’m color blind, an old dog, what-do-I-know dog.
This left a lot up to me! I wanted to use a pattern that was interesting without being too outlandish, but that my Grandpa could still appreciate. I chose colors he could see, too. Superwash wool is a must for gifts, unless I’m sure the giftee knows how to care for wool and wants to do it. Swish DK is exactly the right yarn for this present.
Project: Arbuckle Christmas Hat
Pattern: Arbuckle Hat
Designer: Alexis Winslow
Available: on Ravelry for just $2.00
Yarn: Knit Picks Swish DK in Marble Heather and Delft Heather (1 ball each)
I usually knit a bit larger than gauge, so I used the given needles in order to make a slightly larger-than-pattern hat. Then I threw it in the washer and dryer, to make sure it could handle any rough care it might receive at it’s new home. (If something will be ruined, I would rather do it myself and then try again.) It felted just a tiny bit, and the garter edge wants to flip when it’s not on a head, but it survived admirably other than that. I deem it “good enough” to go to my Grandpa Bob.
This was the first of six shipments in the 2011 Rockin’ Sock Club. This is my second year as a Notorious Sock Knitter. I really enjoy the “surprise” aspect of being in a sock club, but even more, I love the challenge of being open to new colors and (this year especially!) new color combinations. Left to my own devices, I would likely knit lovely things in shades of green/blue/purple for the rest of time. Sometimes it’s good to knit outside my normal color scheme, and a sock club is the perfect way to do this. The January shipment (above) had two skeins, and two colorwork patterns to go with them. At first glance, it was “interesting” but certainly not within my usual corner of the color wheel!
I chose a pattern and got to work. They have been my “steady in the background” project for a while. Because the yarn is mediumweight, they worked up quickly, even with very little concentrated knitting time. I finished second sock the same day that the March 2011 shipment arrived … I can’t WAIT until it’s cool to share photos! Talk about colorful. (The club has rules to protect overseas subscribers from being spoiled.)
Project: Jan 2011 RSC Socks
Pattern: Social Network
Designer: Lucy Neatby
Available: to club members now (join up! it’s fun!) and to the general public in 2012
Yarn: BMFA Socks That Rock Mediumweight in Aubergenius and Pinkie Swear
These are socks for lounging, not for shoes. Cushy garter-stitch heels and toes, plus the sturdy two-color cable-net pattern, and the slipped-stitch cuff, all mean these socks practically stand up on their own! I’m reminded of Dr. Seuss’s story with the “pair of pale green pants with nobody inside them.”
That story scared the bejesus out of me as a kid, even though the whole point was that you needn’t be scared. Frankly, I thought that story was terrifying, and the pictures only made it worse. Somehow my stand-up-alone socks don’t rate as scary though.
This week, I don’t have (*gasp!*) a finished object I can share with you. Lucky for us, I have made a lot of things over the years, so I will go back a few months and …. tada! Butterfly mittens. (By total coincidence, but in a neat way, the designer of this pattern recently gifted all her previous customers with a free copy of her latest fingerless mitt pattern: Dextrous Mitts. Awesome little pattern! Thank you, Eskimimi Knits!)
Pattern: Flutter Butterfly Mittens
Designer: Mimi Hill
Available: $4.50 on ravelry
Yarn: Stroll Tonal in Deep Waters, Stroll in Cocoa
This was a great pattern — well worth the purchase price. Clear, correct directions and easy-to-read charts, and a design to envy. I chose “Deep Waters” and “Cocoa” because this was a gift project, and the mittens were meant to match the recipients winter jacket. The tonal blue colors made for gorgeous butterflies, don’t you think?
Alas, I was nearly done with the first mitten when I had to admit the truth: my loose-knitter ways had created a mitten that was going to be … not enormous exactly, but certainly larger than was proper. I could have ripped it out and done everything on a size smaller needle, but instead I decided to finish the tip a bit early (the original pattern has a third row of “big” butterflies, and use the extra space as a “design feature.” Using fluffy & warm Suri Dream, I improvised a pair of thumb-less mitten liners that fit inside the slightly-too-large shell, filling it out admirably.
Other mods: I changed the cuff a bit, because I like a tubular cast on, two-color ribbing, and a longer cuff than the pattern called for. I also changed the thumb a bit, making it longer and continuing the gusset pattern rather than switching it up. I think I also did the thumb tip decreases a little more quickly than called for — I like a rounded tip.
Every Friday I will feature one of my own finished objects. This year I joined the group “52 Projects in 52 Weeks” on Ravelry, and I’ve found it’s a great way to get motivated to finish up languishing projects. These monster pants weren’t exactly UFO’s, but I’d stalled out on the legs a couple of weeks ago. This week I bumped them to the top of my knitting priority pile, and soon enough I finished them, lickety split.
Pattern: Grumpybum Monster Longies
Designer: Wandering Lady
Available: FREE! at thewanderinglady (also available in the original Norwegian)
Yarn: Knit Picks Swish DK in Eggplant, Beach Glass, Tidepool, Hollyberry, Black, and White
I found the pattern easy to use and follow. I made a few modifications, include a hemmed top edge. (I put in elastic, in lieu of an i-cord tie.) Instead of using duplicate stitch (as described in the pattern), I knit the eyes and fangs directly on the pants, using skills I’ve learned from making amigurumi. For each eye I picked up about 34 stitches, purled one round, decreased to 28, decreased to 21, switched to green, knit one round even, decreased to 14, switched to black, knit one round even, decreased to 7, pulled yarn through rem sts. For the fangs I picked up 5 stitches and made icord, decreasing on the inside edge every other round.
These pants are for my friend’s little girl, and I simply cannot wait to pop them on her and watch her monster bum toddle around the room.