FO Friday: Howl Cowl

I put this pattern in my queue some time ago, and I bought yarn for it in early September.  My goal was to finish it by Halloween …

IMG_3092(rev 1)

Project: Howl Cowl

Pattern: Hocus Pocus Cowl

Designer: Thea Eschliman

Available: $7 on Ravelry (includes alternate pattern for tote bag)

Yarn: Knit Picks Gloss Fingering in Black and Stroll Tonal in Foliage

I had a great time making this cowl.  It begins and ends with a turned hem.  Even the “baubles” are adorable — and I’m often not a fan of bobble-knitting.  I think the colorwork is exceptionally clever — very evocative cats, owl, and pumpkins, with subtle vines to fill in the empty spaces. I especially like the skull at the foot of the cats — fantastic!

What with camping in the snow (unintentionally) and a days-long power outage, I wasn’t able to finish before Oct 31st.  Lucky for me, the power outage forced the town to delay Halloween by a week, so by some measures I did get to finish on “Halloween night.”

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New Pattern Release: Marilla’s Very Practical Shawl

Introducing my latest pattern: Marilla’s Very Practical Shawl! This Danish-style tie shawl is worked from the bottom up in worsted-weight yarn.

2644 Marilla shawl

Pattern: Marilla’s Very Practical Shawl

Designer: Rachel Henry (that’s me!)

Available: for $1.99 through Knit Picks IDP

Yarn: Knit Picks Swish Tonal

2637 marilla shawl

Inspiration: I read the Anne of Green Gables series several times over while I was growing up (and at least once as an adult).  It’s easy to like Anne—we’re meant to like her–but I always had a soft spot for Marilla Cuthbert. Prickly, practical, and tough, she protected a tender heart with a convincing façade. I like to think Marilla would have liked this shawl. It’s warm, knits up quickly, and the long Danish-style ties allow you to wrap and secure the shawl around your shoulders and waist. But, there’s just enough lace to make it pretty, too.

I made a shawl in this style a couple years ago, and I wore it all the time last winter. I loved how the ties held it in place, and allowed several different ways to wear it.  For cool days, I wore the shawl over my shoulders with the ties going directly under my arms and tied behind — like a shrug.  On frigid days, I crossed the shawl over my chest, wrapping the ties around myself before tying them behind. Both ways allowed great freedom of movement while staying warm, and pretty too!  I even wore this shawl to dog agility events.

My interpretation of this type of shawl is larger overall, with longer ties. I used worsted-weight yarn to make it warmer and faster to knit. I tried to streamline the construction to eliminate as many loose ends as possible.

2645 Marilla shawl

Design/Skills Needed: The shawl begins with the bottom edging, worked from right tip to left tip, with a short-row corner halfway through. Stitches are picked up along this bottom edge, leaving 8 repeats at both tips to form the ties. The body is worked from the bottom edge, with decreases to form the spine and top edge. After the body is completed, the neck edging is worked from right tip to left tip and joined to the body as you go.

It’s worth noting that the bottom edging uses about 40% of the yarn … so even though it takes a long time, you are nearly halfway done when you finish it! The pattern includes some charts; however, all charts are also completely written-out, for knitters who prefer to work from written directions.

Yarn: Almost any worsted-weight yarn will work with this pattern.

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

2639 Marilla shawl

2640 Marilla shawl (corner)

FO Friday: Diplodocus Sweater

I recently had the good fortune to test knit this adorable sweater for Kate Oates (of Tot Toppers). If you like this pattern, think about joining her KAL (starting August 1st).  If you buy the pattern before the KAL starts, you’ll get it for a mere $4!

2453 J's dino sweater

2451 J's dino sweater

Project: Dino Sweater Test Knit

Pattern: Diplodocus

Designer: Kate Oates

Available: discounted to $4 until August 1st, buy now and save! 🙂

Yarn: Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Tonal in Blue Yonder, Deep Waters, and Springtime

2450 J's dino sweater

Like every single other thing I’ve test knit for Kate, this pattern is well-written and thoughtfully designed.  Simple things like adding a button to the neck on the smallest size (baby heads are big!) make all the difference.  The sweater begins with the neck, and short rows are worked across the back to make the neck scoop down in front.  The colorwork dinosaurs are worked without increases (thank goodness).  After the dino yoke is complete, the sleeve stitches are held while the body is worked in stripey rounds.  Although Kate provides a gorgeous striping chart (I followed it exactly), she also encourages the knitter to be inventive — stripe as you like! 🙂

2449 J's dino sweater

You can see how much my 6yo son likes his new sweater … he wore it in June, in Massachusetts, for several days in a row.  The size 6 did come out a tiny bit big for him — but then again, he is a smallish 6yo, so please blame the knitter (not the pattern).

2448 J's dino sweater

Back:

2447 dino sweater

Closeup:

2446 dino sweater (closeup)

Front:

2444 dino sweater

Cast-On Monday

This week I added two new projects to my needles.  One is a design project that was accepted for publication through Knit Picks IDP, and the other is a test knit for one of my favorite designers.

The new project of mine is a “practical” shawl — worked mostly in garter stitch with superwash worsted-weight yarn, it should be warm and cozy, and knit up quickly, too.  I’m using the Danish wrap-style shawl as a basis for the shape.  To make it pretty and fun to knit, I’m adding a bit of lace here and there — but not so much as to make it un-practical, or slow down a knitter too much.  Knit Picks granted my every wish when they accepted the pattern, and then gave me Swish Worsted in Blue Violet:

2389 KP Swish Worsted in Blue Violet
I’m lucky enough to be on Kate Oates (of Tot Toppers) test-knitter list.  Periodically she puts  out photos and descriptions of patterns she needs tested, and it is a tribute to her and her designs how quickly the tests fill up!  Lately I’ve been too slow to respond, and have missed out on testing a number of great patterns, but this time I got lucky! If you read Kate’s group on Ravelry, you already know about her knitpon — a chance to pre-order her fall collection for only $33.  Today (Mon 13th) is the absolute last chance to take advantage of this deal — check out the awesome patterns:

See that stripey boy’s sweater in the top row?  That’s the pattern I’m test knitting. I ordered some great Wool of the Andes in the new Tonal colorways,  and I’m already halfway through the body.  It looks great on my youngest boy, who is very into dinosaurs.  Here’s my pretty yarn, in Blue Yonder, Springtime, and Deep Waters.

2385 Dino Sweater Test Knit

Fantasy Queue: Knitty Spring+Summer 2011

Oh pretty-shiny! The latest issue of Knitty came out a week or so ago, and as usual there are far too many lovely patterns for me to ever actually knit.  For the duration of this post, I will suspend disbelief and indulge in a fantasy queue.  If I had unlimited time and money, what would I knit, and with what yarn?

#1: Corinne

This is a pretty little swingy cardigan knit side-to-side in garter stitch with short rows for shaping. I love the belled half-length sleeves.  It seems like the perfect throw-on cardi, and good “mindless” knitting too.  To help it stand up daily use, I’d use a superwash yarn.  I think it would show off variegated colorways nicely, so perhaps some Happy Feet DK? Colorway #59, “Gems,” is awfully pretty.

#2: Verdant

I’m drawn to this more for the interesting modified intarsia technique than anything else.  I think I’d be happiest with some gorgeous fall colors, even though this is the “spring” knitty. My favorite go-to lace yarn is Alpaca Cloud, but Knit Picks hasn’t released their 2011 colorways yet, so right now it’s slim pickings. I think I MIGHT make this wrap out of Palette … which would certainly provide a multitude of colors to choose from!

Main Color: Camel Heather

Leaves: Merlot Heather, Salsa Heather, Kumquat Heather, Autumn Heather,

 

#3: Susanna

I love complex cabled and/or lacy socks, and I also love crazy sock colorways.  It’s been a hard lesson, but I have learned over the last half-dozen years that these two loves rarely mix well.  For intricate socks like “Susanna” I will have to stay true to the design and choose a plain colorway that allows the pattern to come to the forefront.  Even a tonal colorway would be too much, but I think I could get away with a heathered color like Basalt Heather (Stroll).

#4: Rivercat

This sock, in contrast, can totally handle a tonal colorway.  I love the big jive-y lines and bold pattern. Since I am in love with Knit Picks Stroll Tonal, I’d pick up some Deep Waters and make this socks in a jiffy.

What’s On My Needles: Knitters Brewing Co. Mystery Socks III

A few weeks ago, I heard about a free mystery sock knit-a-long being hosted by the Knitters Brewing Company. This was just the kick in the pants I needed to get my Firecracker socks finished and off the needles. It was hard to wait for the KAL to start! Although I was tempted (as I always am) to buy their kit for the KAL, I controlled my desire to own every ball of sock yarn in the world, and instead selected a pretty little colorway from my stash:  Knit Picks Stroll Tonal in “Queen Anne.”

0701 KP Stroll in Queen Anne Tonal

I made a shawl out of Shadow Tonal in  “Queen Anne,” so I knew I loved the color already.  (Actually, that was a mystery KAL project too!  Interesting….)

0175 completed Mandala II (edge)

Anyway, back to the mystery socks.  Clue #1 came out right on time, and everyone dove in.  The socks are toe-up, so I used Judy’s magic cast-on and magic-looped through the nifty twisted-stitch toe pattern with stately aplomb.  I finished one toe, and decided that I really needed to do two-at-a-time with this pattern.  Usually I hate having two socks on my ML at a time, because the “extra” sock drags at my needles.  That’s because socks are often my “take-a-long” project, and I sometimes knit standing up or even walking!  But, since these socks will be worked on in quick weekly bursts, it seemed like that wouldn’t be a problem. Also, I really wanted to have them DONE and wearable when the last clue came — and not have a whole second sock staring me in the face.  So, a rare bird in my knitting life: two at a time socks:

1347 queen anne mystery socks (clue 1)

Impatiently I waited for the next clue …. and waited … and waited … until Clue #2 was released a whole day early! Yippee!  I got right to work.  A few rows in, I decided I just couldn’t handle the written instructions.  I’m more of a “chart girl” you see — I like to see where I am in the pattern, and written instructions just can’t do that.  So, I stopped and made my own chart. After that I flew along at warp speed.  The twisty stitches are fun and pretty too, and even though my yarn choice is colorful, the tonal nature allows the stitch pattern to shine through:

1364 mystery sock (clue 2)

Now I’m waiting again — browsing the KBC forum, which has multiple threads devoted to this KAL. I always love the community aspects of participating in a knit-a-long, and this time is no exception.

Speaking of which … it’s not too late to join in!  Grab some sock yarn, print out the first two clues, and catch up before Friday’s Clue#3 (or maybe Wednesday? Pppppplllllease?).