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

Ravelry Monday: Pareval, Anchor Bay Sunset, and Bella Rue

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

First pick: “Parseval” by Melissa Wehrle ($4.00)

This sweater is mostly-ribbed, with a bit of cabling towards the top with a big cowl neck.  This sweater made it into my (ever-growing) queue, because I think it has potential to look good on many body types.  The cabling will draw the eye upwards, and the ribbing will make the body and sleeves accommodating.  It’s worked mostly in the round — my favorite!  I don’t have a good, simple sweater right now … maybe I should start this one sooner rather than later?

Second Pick: “Anchor Bay Sunset” by Julia Duren (FREE!)

Simple, attractive, fingerless mitts — no fancy colorwork or cables, no girly lace.  Yet, with just a few purl rows in a contrasting color, these mitts look great!  Endless color possibilities — they could be a real stash-buster for sock yarn.  The pattern says they are designed to wear as-is, or over a wrist-brace for carpal tunnel or other RSI issues.

Third Pick: “Bella Rue” by Amanda Rios ($8.00)

Although I adore this sweater for many reasons — the top-down construction! the button detail on the sleeve! the awesome pleated panel on the back! — I have a sinking feeling that adorable as it is, it just wouldn’ t work with my body type. Alas!

FO Friday: Loopy the Sheep

1378 Loopy

My friend Donna took some glamor shots of the samples for my Aviator scarves (up for publication through Knit Picks IDP).  She is a professional photographer, specializing in dogs and dog sports, and I suspect she found the (inanimate) knitted items rather not a challenge in comparison.  I had asked her to do the shoot in exchange for “something knitted.” I offered her a choice of the two sample scarves, but she thought they were “too nice.”  Later on, she joked that I should knit her a new dog (her Border Collie is sometimes a bit naughty!), and it occurred to me that I could knit up a little sheep for her!

1382 Loopy

Pattern: Loopy the Sheep

Designer: Amanda Berry

Available: for $3.25 on Ravelry

Yarn: Knit Picks Swish Worsted (about half a ball each of black and white)

1377 Loopy

The pattern is easy to read and complete — I found no errors of any kind.  The designer did a great job with photos showing how the pieces go together.  The directions to make the loopy fleece were clear. I did modify the pattern to make almost all the parts in the round instead of flat, because I didn’t want to seam those little hands and feet.  Conversely, I chose not to seam the ears — I liked how the stockinette curled.

1376 Loopy (profile)

Ravelry Monday: Pansies, Alassë Míriel Hooded Cowl, and Grecian Goddess Socks

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

First pick: “Pansies” by Rebekkah Dickson (FREE!)

My favorite flowers are pansies, so I’m always on the lookout for good patterns (heck, good anything) that include pansies.  These are far and away the best knitted pansies I’ve seen — true to the flower, without being fussy.  The petals are knit flat, then sewn in place.  The pansy “monkey face” in added in post-production with duplicate stitch.  I can see myself adding pansies to a lot of upcoming projects … all I need is a little purple/blue/burgundy and yellow/white yarn, any weight will do.  Whee!

Second Pick: “Alassë Míriel Hooded Cowl” by The Jane Victoria ($5.00)

Can I just say, WOW, what an ingenious garment! Part cowl, part hood, part shoulder cozy… I’ve never seen anything quite like it, and I LOVE it already.

Third Pick: “Grecian Goddess Socks” by Katie Franceschi ($5.95)

I’m a sock lover, it’s true.  I just washed (nearly) all my hand-made socks, and stopped counting at pair 24.  I’m in the middle of a sock-a-long as we speak (where is clue #3, people?), and eagerly awaiting my first 2011 Rockin’ Sock Club shipment. But these socks call to me too! Alas, there are other things on my needles, so these faux lace-up socks will have to wait in my queue.

Alassë Míriel Hooded Cowl

Fantasy Queue: Winter 2011 Knitty

Every time a new book, magazine, or web-zine of knitting patterns comes out, I have this moment where I wish I had nothing at all on the needles or in my queue, and I could just cast on half a dozen new projects with no guilt and every hope of finishing them all.

The Winter 2011 Edition of Knitty is no exception — there are plenty of patterns that say, “Pick me, pick me! Start-itis be damned!”  This Wednesday at Remily Knits I will indulge this desire by creating my very own Fantasy Queue: all the patterns paired with yarn and who I’d make it for, if I were not constrained by time or money (or housework, or kids, or dogs, or …).

#1 – Palisander

This is the shot that did me in.  Reversible scarves are tricky.  All too often, the pattern isn’t truly reversible — one side is distinctly prettier than the other.  Other patterns are dull (too much knit and purl), or just not attractive in their attempt to be reversible.  This pattern on the other hand … is YUMMY. I love both sides. I know exactly what I’d use too — Knit Picks  City Tweed DK in Toad.  I’d probably use Morning Glory, except that I already have a cozy shawl in Morning Glory.

#2 – Cartouche

One of my complaints about many lace shawls is that they all too often seem more like samplers — two or three pretty motifs, in sequence, with a pretty edging, but lacking any flow from one element to the next.  With this pattern, you can see the thought that went into blending the different motifs, and the result is gorgeous.  I think I’d try Blue Moon Fiber Arts  Marine Silk Fingering in True Blood — not a fiber I’ve used before, but one that begs for a pattern just like this.

#3 – Constantine

This one will probably stay on my fantasy queue forever. Although I love the shape and can imagine wearing the finished cape every day from fall to spring, I know myself well — that much seed stitch would do me in.  In my dreams, I’d use a dark heathered yarn like Ella Rae Classes Superwash Chunky in Berry Heather.  (In real life, I’d get the back, front, and half of one sleeve done before I just couldn’t face it any more.)

#4 – Chrysanthemums

Oh my goodness, I am a sucker for colorwork mittens. Although I admire the subtlety of the sample pair … I think I would go bold with Knit Picks new Chroma Fingering in Smoothie for the main color (background), using Knit Picks Gloss Fingering in Black for the contrast color (flower).  The pinky-orange and yellow flowing colors of Smoothie scream Chrysanthemum to me!

#5 – Sweetheart Socks

I’ll admit, at first I didn’t see what was so special about this pattern … I’ve knit dozens of socks in the last ten years, and it takes a lot to make me excited about a sock pattern.  What drew me in for these sweetheart socks is the novelty of working in worsted-weight yarn (fast socks! my heart leaps!), and the prospect of trying out an afterthought heel. (I’ve done an afterthought thumb, but never an afterthought heel.) I think I’d try Valley Yarns Northampton in Lake Heather.

Ravelry Monday: Goldfish in a Bag Hat, Open Heart Sweater, and Lady Jessica

Happy Monday! Time to look back at the previous week’s recently added knitting patterns on Ravelry and pick a few favorites.  As many an avid knitter is aware, the Winter 2011 edition of Knitty was released last week.  As usual, it is chock-a-block full of great patterns and articles.  Rather than have Knitty dominate Ravelry Monday, I will instead devote Wednesday’s post solely to Knitty, and talk about some other patterns today.

First pick: “Goldfish in a Bag Hat” by Carol White ($4.00)

This hat charmed me right away: bold design, cute, and clever too.  Looks to me like it is a simple rolled-brim bag-top hat with a color change and a bit of intarsia and embroidery.  I especially love the bag-tie on the top.

Second Pick: “Open Heart Sweater” by Alice Tang ($3.99)

Let me begin by admitting bias — I tech-edited this sweater for Alice, and it was in fact my very first for-pay tech editing job.  (Alice and I had swapped tech-editing services in the past.)  Although I haven’t actually test-knit the pattern, I am very familiar with the pattern. It is simple/elegant, with a neat twist (literally!) up the front on a reverse-stockinette background.

Third Pick: “Lady Jessica” by Veronica O’Neil (FREE!)

This feminine cowl makes me think of a steampunk heroine, corseted and bedecked in ruffles and lace, and wielding a big brass laser gun :).  It looks like a fun, easy knit and the final product is sure to win compliments.

Ravelry Monday: Toorie, Castle on a Cloud, and DROPS 130-12 Jacket

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

First pick: “Toorie” by Carina Spencer ($5.00)

I absolutely adore the unusual shape of this hat.  The gathers, the close-yet-casual shape, the nifty decreases opposite mimicking (but not repeating) the gathers — it all works.  For those averse to pompoms, perhaps a crocheted flower or big dramatic button could substitute. This pattern looks like it would work with hand-painted yarn quite prettily.

Second Pick: “Castle on a Cloud” by Katia Smits (€3.50 EUR)

I was lured in for a closer look by the allusion to “Les Miserables” — I mean, who doesn’t love Cosette? These fingerless mitts have something interesting going on every few rows — exactly my kind of pattern.

Third Pick: “130-12 Jacket” by DROPS Design (FREE!)

I had a hard time settling on a “free” pattern this week — but this little cardi is just fine.  Looks like it has some interesting construction, with right and left front panels curving to meet at the neck and lower back, with the upper back panel bridging the gap.  I’ve heard about DROPS patterns being terse — this one is no exception! Definitely no hand-holding here.