FO Friday: Button Mitts

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Project: Button Mitts

Pattern: All of ‘er Buttons Mitts

Designer: Lorilee Beltman

Available: sometime in Jan 2013

Yarn: Socks That Rock Lightweight in HRH Crown Princess of Purple, Violetta

This is the Jan 2012 Rockin’ Sock Club yarn, in the “not a sock” pattern.  I am thoroughly in love!  The cinched cable is delightful, and I love the buttons-as-seam closure (they are just sewn in place — the mitts do not unbutton, they just slide on). Nicely shaped wrist and thumb, high marks all around.

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CO Monday: Purple Hedgehog Hat, Berringbone Patch Socks, Bam Boo Branches Store Sample, Silver Ribband

Welcome to CO Monday, or (as it shall be known this week) “Have I Lost My Mind?”  I started four new projects this week, even though I already have multiple projects already actively in progress.  Perhaps I am crazy, and believe I have grown extra arms, and need even more projects to keep my extra arms busy.  I hope those extra arms already know how to knit.

I think the cause is simple: I’m getting near the end of many of those WIPs, and I’m anticipating the lull that follows — the panic that sets in when I don’t have enough projects! Eek!

So, here are the four newbies:

Purple Hedgehog Hat — I bought a skein of Mushishi as a courtesy purchase when I checked out Aunt Margaret’s Yarn Shop in Chelmsford, MA.  The main draw of this shop (for me) is that they carry a full line of Knit Picks needles, including interchangeable tips and cables! But, I didn’t need any needles on this visit, so I chose a big cushy skein of purpley yarn.  It has long color repeats, but they aren’t that different from each other.  I’m taking full advantage of the color repeats with the short-row bumps in this hat. I have two bumps done so far :).

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Next up: Berringbone Patch Socks.  I haven’t made a pair of socks in quite a while.  It was time.  I’ve had this skein of Stroll Hand-painted around for a while, earmarked for socks … I did change my mind about the socks I was going to make, though.  I’ve decided I really don’t like lacy sock patterns, because they don’t wear as well as more solid patterns. I’ve finish the cuff and gotten about four rows into the herringbone pattern.

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I also cast on for a store sample for Hub Mills of my upcoming CEY design, tentatively called Branches.  The pattern sample is in cranberry, but the store sample will be this gorgeous purple:

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I cast on for this project, because I had finished the cape I was making as a store sample.  The pattern book won’t be out until June, so I have plenty of time to work on it.  But, when I work in the shop, I can only knit on projects for the store — I wanted to make sure I had something to do with my hands if it turned out to be a slow day.  As it happened, it WAS a slow day … but I didn’t work on the purple project at all.  Instead, I cast on (and then finished) a Sliver Ribband for the store.  We recently got in several kits by Laura Nelkin, and I got to make this one:

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I stranded the beads and knit it up in a single day — the kit comes complete with the yarn, beads, clasp, pattern, and even a little threader to help put beads on the yarn. I give it high marks!

FO Friday: Tappan Zee Pulled Taffy

I finished a sweater for me!  This is not something that happens every day.

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Project: Tappan Zee Pulled Taffy

Pattern: Tappan Zee Cardigan

Designer: Amy King

Available: FREE! on Knitty.com

Yarn: Decadent Fibers Pulled Taffy in Red Hot Pepper

I bought this yarn on spec back in June, at the 20th (and final) Granite State Knit-In.  I’m sorry to say that a LYS had brought all their merchandise and were selling it off at 2-for-1 because they were closing their doors.  I’m glad to say I found two skeins of this astonishing fiber, each normally $35.  I decided to take a leap of faith and buy both — almost-a-sweater for $35 was too good a deal to pass up.

2384 Decadent Fibers Pulled Taffy in Red Hot Pepper

Once I had it home, it proved to be a bit of a challenge.  First of all, though it claims to be DK, it really feels and knits up closer to worsted.  Also, it turns out that 980 yards is not quite enough to make most things, at least not in size large-enough-to-fit-me.  I finally settled on Tappan Zee — a pattern I queued in large part because I love the eponymous bridge!  I used to drive back and forth from DC to Boston fairly frequently, and every time I saw signs for Tappan Zee it made me happy.  Try saying it aloud — you’ll be happy too!

Swatching told me three things: first, I should expect worsted-ish gauge.  I decided to follow the pattern for a proportionately smaller size, which ended up working great.  Second, blocking the swatch told me that this yarn would bleed dye something awful.  This turned out to be a good thing, because the fully saturated color was a bit much — I prefer the toned-down color after blocking.  Third, the fabric is also appreciably softer after a good wash-and-block, which reassured me while I was knitting — the WIP sometimes felt a bit crunchy and oh-my-god bright red and orange.  Thank goodness for swatching to tell me the truth.

One thing I changed in the pattern was the armholes.  I really hate tight, binding armholes, so instead of casting off for the arms, then bridging the gap directly, I chose to cast on a handful of stitches under each arm.  I must have goofed the math a bit, because my sleeves ended up a little ruffled — too much fabric up there.  It bothered me at first, but my knit group claims they like it, so I’m slowly coming around.

I was about two dozen rows shy of the official “start the edging” point, when I noticed that the yarn ball hand dwindled to an ominously small size.  I got out my new and wonderful super-accurate digital scale and weighed the ball before and after the next two rows … and discovered I had barely enough to finish the edging, but only if I started it RIGHT THEN.  As it was, I had to rip out the swatch in order to bind off the last few inches.  I think the finished cardi is long enough — any longer would have been odd, actually, which implies I shouldn’t have been doing quite so many rows in the first place.

The luckiest part of this project was that I found the perfect buttons. They seem as if they were dyed-to-match — and they were cheap, and they were the first ones I saw at the shop, and they came in a set of three!

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FO Friday: Ruched Yoke Tee

Back in June I bought some pretty pale violet Cascade Ultra Pima at Unforgettable Yarns in Andover….

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A mere three months later, and I have a new summer top!

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Project: Purple Ruched Yoke Tee

Pattern: Ruched Yoke Tee

Designer: AnneLena Madison

Available: Interweave Knits, Spring 2011

Yarn: Cascade Yarns Ultra Pima

In general, a great pattern.  Easy to follow, no errors (that I noticed, anyway), etc.  I like the simplicity of the design.  I found it to be great “travel knitting” because of the large swathes of uninterrupted stockinette. Like many other knitters of this pattern, I found the keyhole a bit too large for my taste.   When I put the i-cord edge on the keyhole, I just skipped every third stitch to make it a bit smaller.

I wore it as written for a single evening … and the neckline stretched from “daringly revealing” to “downright scandalous.”  I solved this by adding an applied i-cord edge (matching the keyhole edging nicely), and the top is now quite wearable. One other minor quibble — for me, the CO stitches under the arms weren’t quite enough — I should have added more.  As it is, the fabric stretches a bit too much there (oh well). I also stopped about 10 rows early with the body — it was long enough already.

I really love this top! Comfy and cute. The Ultra Pima has been a dream to work with — soft, pliant, and not at all like most cottons I’ve worked with. Definitely going to use it again!

FO Friday: Shiny Purple Maluka

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Maluka is the August KAL in the Beginner Lace Knitters group on Ravelry. It was one of my nominations, so I was extra excited to cast on! I rummaged through my stash and found the perfect hank of too-pretty-for-feet sock yarn: a gorgeous purple wool-bamboo blend with a lot of shine and personality.

This shawlette is almost a scarf — very petite! But, quick to work up.  You work the garter border first. The cool 3-over-3 bundle that makes a chain of circles that is very pretty. After the border is complete, you pick up stitches all along the edge, and work the body in a series of short rows to create a graceful crescent shape.

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Project: Shiny Purple Maluka

Pattern: Maluka

Designer: Bea Schmidt

Available: FREE! on Ravelry

Yarn: Three Irish Girls McClellan Fingering

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I’ve been wearing my Maluka constantly — even with grubby shorts and a T-shirt :). (I never said personal style was my forte!) I love how it drapes.  The designer is German, so it’s not too surprising that the edging chart follows the convention of showing what you actually knit, rather than the right side of the work.  I know there are knitters out there who prefer this style of chart, but I much, much prefer a chart that shows what the right side of the work looks like.  I have no problem understanding “knit on RS, purl on WS” etc.  For my own sanity, I did make up a “right side” version of the Maluka edging chart, which I have made available at Google docs for knitters who think like me.  (You will still need the original pattern to make a Maluka, as this is only the edging chart.)

I modified the pattern just a smidge, nothing major.  I used wrap&turn short rows, rather than the decrease/slip short rows called for.  I found that the decrease was making a big lump in my fabric.  I also wanted to use a little more yarn and have a slightly bigger finished object.  For the neck edge, I decided to use an i-cord bind off, which I extended over the cast-on and bind-off ends of the edging.  I am a bit of an i-cord fanatic! 🙂

In sum: great pattern, love my FO, another great KAL!

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FO Friday: Coats for Gizmo and Golly

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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.)

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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!