Ravelry Monday: Wren’s Trio of Properties, Dog Tea Cozy

First Pick: Wren’s Trio of Properties, by Faye Kennington ($4.95)

At first glance, I thought this was a pattern for eyeball ornaments — maybe something Cthulu-esque?  But instead, they are felted birdhouses: at once more mundane and much more interesting. The designer based them on something she’d seen in a garden magazine, and that birds actually like them — so they are useful and decorative.

Second Pick: Dog Tea Cozy, by Rian Anderson ($4.00)

He may call this a “dog” tea cozy, but we all know which wonderful claymation dog he means: Gromit!!

I named my Border Collie “Gromit” because I love the show so much.  If only I drank tea out of pots, I would be making up this tea cozy in a heartbeat!  Maybe I will get the pattern anyway, and see if I can transform it into a soft toy …

Third Pick: Persinette, by Erica Lynne ($1.50)

Two clever headband patterns, knit icord-style over elastic! The flower is a perfect place to show off a beloved singleton button, too.

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Ravelry Monday: Mitts, Mitts, Mitts

Happy Monday! Time to look back at the previous week’s recently added knitting patterns on Ravelry and pick a few favorites.

First Pick: Gotland, by Marias Garn (SEK 40, appx $6.25)

What really, really gets me is this combination of robot-trendy purl ringlets, and Victorian-ish colorwork roses. Love it, times a million. Great, now I sound like the judges on American Idol!! I could see these looking great in a number of palettes … how about pinky roses with grey-green leaves on a rusty-brown background, and creamy rings?

 

Second Pick: Argyle Wrist Warmers, by Emily Snyder ($2.50, available in mid-March)

Really charming two-color mitts that look like they have a lot more going on than they do.  I really love the clever increasing-diamond clocks on the thumb gussets. Clever! I would of course make them in deep purple and light teal blue.

 

Third Pick: Butterflies on the Lattice, by Melissa Walshe (FREE! at Melissa’s Blog)

What is not to love? Simple, stylish, elegant … and in worsted, a crazy-fast knit.  Is it too early to think Christmas??

Book Review: Knit Your Own Dog by Sally Muir & Joanna Osborne

This book caught my eye a few weeks ago, when patterns and projects from the UK edition started popping up on Ravelry. A quick perusal revealed that there was in fact a Border Collie pattern included in the book, and it was charming! I pre-ordered the US edition on Amazon and was delighted when it arrived this week.

Of course, I immediately cast on for my very own Border Collie, using left-over Palette (a heathered dark brown, and cream) and Size 1 Addi Turbos.  In one evening, I was able to finish all four legs, both halves of the body, and begin on the neck and head.  As you can surmise from this list of parts, the Border Collie (and is worked in a series of bitty parts, worked flat. Some intarsia work creates the classic Border Collie markings — as with all amigurumi knitting, it is vital to knit tightly to ensure the finished toy keeps it shape and does not reveal too much of the stuffing.

The listing for this book on Ravelry is incomplete.  For this reason, I’ll provide a comprehensive list of the breed patterns here.

Hounds: Afghan Hound, Whippet, Dachshund, Basset Hound

Terriers: Wire-haired Fox Terrier, Jack Russell, Scottish Terrier, West Highland Terrier, English Bull Terrier

Sporting: Cocker Spaniel, Red Setter, Labrador, Portuguese Water Dog

Non-sporting: Dalmatian, Poodle, Miniature Schnauzer, French Bulldog, English Bulldog, Pug

Working: Rough Collie, Border Collie, German Shepherd, Old English Sheepdog, Corgi, Siberian Husky

I’m especially impressed with the clever shaping at the beginning of each leg to create a proper foot.  I’ve only just begun the head, and already I can tell some thoughtful shaping will make a very pretty head there as well. The selection of breeds is fantastic — a smattering from across the spectrum, including many of my personal favorites. The details that make each breed unique are fantastic: the Afghan’s flowing coat, the Basset’s floppy garter-stitch ears and jowls, the Scotty’s fringe and beard, the upright stance of the Poodle, the smooshed face of the Bulldog, the Collie’s exuberant mane … all will ring true to lovers of each breed. The authors provide helpful tips in selecting yarns that will best create the coat of each breed (boucle for the Porty! genious!), in addition to all the detailed shaping and design.

I do have a few minor quibbles.  Because the directions are written line-by-line, the knitter must follow along and trust that the color changes and shaping will lead them to the finished product.  It reminds me a bit of the first time I made a Baby Surprise Jacket — take a deep breath, dive in, be precise in following directions, and it will all turn out all right in the end.  That said, I find myself wanting to make charts, especially with the color changes, so I can more easily adapt the pattern to match my own dog. It would have been lovely to have a bit more explanation about the purpose of each shaping section, and charts to make customization easier.

1151 Gromit CL3After I make a toy Gromit, I’ll probably make toy versions of some of my agility-friends’ dogs.  I’m thinking a Scottie or two would be well-received, and I think I could adapt the Dalmatian pattern to make a big brown-spotted Pointer mix. After that … we shall see.

Ravelry Monday: Shoggoth, Reversible Tiara Hat, Sho-sho

Happy Monday! Time to look back at the previous week’s recently added knitting patterns on Ravelry and pick a few favorites.

First pick: “Shoggoth” by Lee Meredith (part of an e-book, sold at $5.00)

It was a terrible, indescribable thing vaster than any subway train — a shapeless congerie of protoplasmic bubbles, faintly self-luminous, and with myriads of temporary eyes forming and un-forming as pustules of greenish light all over the tunnel-filling front that bore down upon us, crushing the frantic penguins and slithering over the glistening floor that it and its kind had swept so evilly free of all litter… — “At The Mountains of Madness” (H. P. Lovecraft)

I’ve played enough Arkham Horror to know that a Shoggoth isn’t something you want to meet ever, let alone have in your home — but this mini Shoggoth-pincushion is welcome to take up residence on my knitting table.  The designer captures the fluid asymmetry this particular monster should possess, while simultaneously making it cute.  A great first amigurumi project — you  can mess up a bit, and it would still be right! — and a perfect home for those odd buttons I’ve been saving up.

Second pick: “Reversible Tiara Hat” by Kristina Schling (part of a book, sold at $15.00)

This pattern makes clever use of the reversible nature of double-knitting to make a charming and warm beanie worthy of a princess. Although I love the popsicle colors of the sample hat, I think I might have to use golden yellow and princess pink — don’t you think?

Third pick: “Sho-sho” by Nokko Asano (FREE!)

I’m intrigued by this drapey shrug… I’ve been wanting to make one of these “rectangle with sleeves items for a while, because they look so comfy and wonderful.  I have put it off though, because it involves knitting a giant rectangle (just the kind of knitting I abhore).  This pattern, with large needles and a silk/linen yarn, may be enough to put me over the edge.  There isn’t any sizing on the pattern, which means I’d have to guess how much bigger to make it for myself.  (I’m not really “tiny Japanese” shape, more like “European peasant stock.”)  Still, it’s pretty and should knit up reasonably quickly. Pretty!

FO Friday: Queen Anne Mystery Socks

1481 Family Jewels Mystery Socks

Yay, my socks are done! I have really enjoyed this mystery sock-a-long sponsored by the Knitters Brewing Company.  I talked about yarn selection and knitting style already, so instead of repeating myself, I will instead say how much I have been looking forward to having these socks done and on my feet. So pretty! I can hardly stand it. Easily my favorite detail: the heart cuff.  How charming is this?

1484 Family Jewels Mystery Socks (heart cuff)

Pattern: Mystery Socks III: the Family Jewels

Designer: Wendy Gaal

Available: free! on ravelry (kits are available with matching yarn and beads)

Yarn: Stroll Tonal in Queen Anne

1483 Family Jewels Mystery Socks (bead motif)

This pattern has a number of “new to me” features.  One of the big reasons I signed on was the opportunity to try a big bead on a sock.  When the time came, I ran off to Legacy Beads to find a 15mm-ish flat bead that worked with my yarn — no clashing colors, not so matchy as to fade into the yarn, but not too contrasty either. I settled on a “twist” Swarovski crystal bead in “Golden Shadow.”  My mad beading friend inspected the bead and determined that it had an “AB” finish on the back, but not the front, which helped it keep it’s own color while still reflecting some of the yarn color.  This makes sense to me — I had tried a clear crystal version, and it completely disappeared into the yarn.

1485 Family Jewels Mystery Socks (fleegle heel)

Another cool new-to-me thing is the Fleegle Heel. I didn’t know this was in the pattern when I signed on, so it’s pure bonus! I found it easy to do, and a nice fit.  I enjoyed it way more than a toe-up heel flap (those joins! ugh!), and it fits way better than a traditional short-row heel.  You can see a small err in my photo — the racing stripes on the gusset were supposed to blend into the leg, but I failed my “read the directions” roll and started the racing stripes one stitch too soon.  Oh well — only the designer and the 200 other people in the knit-a-long will even notice.

In general I found the pattern to be extremely well-written and mistake-free.  I prefer a charted pattern to words, but I understand the designer’s desire to “surprise” — and how a chart could potentially ruin the surprise.  I believe a complete version of the pattern will be released with full charts and so on, so chart lovers need not despair (or resort to home charting, as I did).  All unusual techniques were well-explained and/or had links to good videos.  Great fun, great community of KAL-ers!

1482 Family Jewels Mystery Socks (front and back)

Ravelry Monday: DeeVine, Jaiozi (Dumplings), Lobster Beanie Hat

Happy Monday! Time to look back at the previous week’s recently added knitting patterns on Ravelry and pick a few favorites.

First pick: “DeeVine” by DeeTara ($3.99)

This hat is pure loveliness — beautiful swoopy leaves in an overlapping pattern that pleases me.  Slouchy hats keep me warm without crushing my hair, which puts them high on my “to-knit” list.

Second Pick: “Jaiozi (Dumplings)” by Dale Hwang (FREE!)

Mmmmmm, Peking Ravioli! Pan-fried, please.  Cannot resist this knitted dumpling pattern.

Third Pick: “Lobster Beanie Hat” by Christine Grant ($4.25)

Since I am a New-Englander, I had to include this hat on my Ravelry Monday list.  What’s not to love about a bright red beanie with a lobster on top?

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