FO Friday: Tappan Zee Pulled Taffy

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

IMG_3482

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!

IMG_3485

FO Friday: Minotaur Obsession

This week, I offer you another “finished it a while ago” project.  I am wearing it right now, so I thought — hey, I haven’t show this to anyone yet! Better take care of it.  In contrast to last week’s epic blanket, this cowl only took 5 days from CO to BO.  Whee! Quick projects are awesome.

IMG_3302

Project: Minotaur Obsession

Pattern: Minotaur Cowl

Designer: Rachel Henry

Available: FREE! on Ravelry

Yarn: CEY Obsession

I had exactly one ball of this interesting (but discontinued) yarn.  It’s a bulky-weight cashmere, made up of 8 different skinny strands, each a different color.  I was a pleasure to work with — I mean, cashmere, right?  I made a tight-fitting mobius cowl using my own design.  Minotaur starts with a foundation strip (knit flat in garter stitch) that is twisted and seamed to form the base of the mobius.  From there stitches are picked up along the single mobius edge, and the remainder of the cowl is knit mobiusly.

This construction allowed me to get exactly the right fit, because the foundation strip is easy to measure as it is knit.  It also allowed me to use up every last scrap of this extra-luxurious fiber, because I just kept knitting in pattern until it was all gone.

IMG_3301

FO Friday: Yggdrasil in Blue

I finished this about a month ago, but I think it slid directly off my needles onto my lap. My Yggrasil lap blanket is so warm and cozy!

IMG_3303

Project: Yggrasil in Blue

Pattern: Yggdrasil Afghan

Designer: Lisa Jacobs

Available: FREE! at Interweave Knits

Yarn: Knit Picks  City Tweed HW in Dungarees

You might remember this blanket from my “Finish it or Frog it!” post back in January. I’d already made some progress then, because it was my “neglected project KAL” target for January.  I won’t say it was “easy” to finish, not exactly, but I did eventually get into the rhythm of the border cables.  I do not think I will ever do this pattern again, and although I admire the finished full-size Yggdrasil Afghans out there, I have reason to doubt the sanity of those who accomplish such a gargantuan knitting feat.

The pattern itself is well-written and clear. Plenty of good charts.  I think this might have been my first knitted-on border, back in the day.  I also have a niggling feeling I may have grabbed the wrong size needle when I re-booted this project … the “old” border (right edge, upper right corner) looks a wee bit tighter than the rest.  However, this is invisible when I’m using it, so I am doing my best to let the slight difference go. I am definitely not going back and fixing it, ooooh no.

I continue to love, love, love City Tweed.  What a wonderful soft yarn with gorgeous colors, and it shows cabling so nicely! And it’s so warm and cozy!

IMG_3309

Cast-On Monday: C-ATCH William

On Friday night, I realized I really, really wanted to make my friend Julie an itty bitty knitted Scottie dog from “Knit Your Own Dog.”  Her (real) Scottie, William, was up for a big agility title this weekend.  I cast on late Friday, and after a busy day at agility on Saturday I knit for about 8 hours to finish.  William earned his C-ATCH on Sunday — hooray! — and I was able to give Julie a mini-Scottie to celebrate the accomplishment.  I’ll give more details in another post, but here’s a little preview:

IMG_3380

IMG_3425

Get Thee Some Organizers

Ever since we moved into our house over a decade ago, I have used the “back counter” in our dining room/kitchen for crafts.  For a long time, it was all-scrapbooking, all the time.  Having everything “out” but also “out of the way” made all the difference with toddlers in the house — I could do a page or two, when I had time, and not have to constantly put things away.  But, as the kids got older, and I got busy with dogs and knitting … I didn’t scrapbook nearly as much.  I accumulated a pile of knitting by the living room couch.  By then, my kids and the dogs knew better than to touch my stuff! But, last winter as we decided to get a new puppy … I knew the knitting had to move, or risk becoming puppy chew toys.

At that point I had to admit realized my scrapbooking had been gathering dust for the better part of a year.  As much as it pained me, I packed it all up and put it away in my bedroom.  I transferred all the yarn and knitting to the empty counter … where it has been growing and breeding for the last year.  I tidied up a bit for Christmas, but it was still a mess — anytime I wanted to poke through “yarn assigned to projects” I had to dig through baskets of loose balls and some Ziploc-ed yarn + patterns.  I wanted to be able to see everything that was downstairs, without such a struggle.

I’d been doing some online browsing, and I looked at some things while out for Christmas shopping, but nothing really screamed “ME” until I was out late last night to pick up “5 lbs of dirt and 5 lbs of sand, and also pans to put it in” for a school project. At Wal*Mart I found cheap turkey pans (yay!), but I saw something I hadn’t seen before, and decided to take it home.  Then, at Home Depot I saw Martha Stewart’s take on fabric cubes & cubbies, and was smitten.  I took those home too.  Then I stayed up until after midnight, putting together the two shelves and putting everything away.  I really like my new knitting area though, so it was worth it!

IMG_3293

As far as I can tell, the Canopy Shoe Organizer is available only at Wal*Mart, and only in stores (which explains why I hadn’t seen it before).  It is LOVELY.  The canvas boxes are held taut over a metal frame — only 8 screws to put it together.  It protects my yarn** from dust and light, yet I can still see it all! Bonus points for not being made of plastic or cardboard.

IMG_3295

The Martha Stewart Living Stackable 6-Cube Organizer seems much more readily available.  I’d seen items like it (by Closetmaid, etc.) but the details on this were just a tiny bit nicer.  I also liked the colors the fabric cubes came in. It took a lot longer to put together, but luckily I enjoy IKEA-style directions.  I put it together while listening to This American Life, which was talking about a reporter who visited factories in China where little girls (12 years old, and younger) lived and worked in conditions not dissimilar to 1900-ish New York City, except on a much grander scale.

I put sweater-quantities of yarn in the fabric cubes.  I know what they are, and I don’t need to see them all the time.  For now I’m using the empty shelves for other stuff that was cluttering up the counter (empty project backs, my bag of swatches, yarn that needs to go back upstairs, etc.).

IMG_3294

 

**Here is where I say, this is not (nearly) all of my yarn — this is just yarn that has been assigned to upcoming projects, and needs to hang out downstairs.  There is more yarn upstairs.

New Pattern Release: Flurry Sweater

Introducing my latest pattern: the Flurry Sweater! This two-color pullover features a band of colorwork snowflakes at the waist and elbow, waist-shaping, flared sleeves and hem, and i-cord finish on all edges.

IMG_2880(rev 1)

6209704046_1b8364d3f8_b(rev 1)

Pattern: Flurry Sweater

Designer: Rachel Henry (that’s me!)

Available: for $3.99 through Knit Picks IDP

Yarn: Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Tweed

6209692034_93fe4a23b6_b(rev 1)

IMG_2897-1(rev 1)

Inspiration: I have this old sweater, a favorite that I’ve had a long time.  It’s pilled and felted from incautious laundering, but I still love to wear it. I picked the things I liked best about it (grey on top, blue on the bottom, colorwork band) and improved it a bit too (more fitted waist, set-in sleeves).

6209686204_90c0a5c1d8_b__1_(rev 1)

6209184273_4449d1f849_b(rev 1)

Design/Skills Needed: The body is knit in-the-round until the armholes, after which the front and back are worked flat, separately. The sleeves are also knit in the round until the sleeve cap, which is worked flat. Knitters may select their preferred in-the-round method (DPNs, one circ, magic loop, two circs, etc.) throughout.

For the colorwork section, I recommend going down one needle size, as many knitters find their colorwork to be looser than their stockinette. However, it’s possible that you may need to stay with the same needle, or even go up a size, to maintain consistent gauge between the stockinette and colorwork portions. Please work a gauge swatch in both stockinette and the colorwork pattern to determine the best needle size for you, for each section.

When working stranded colorwork, take care to keep the floats loose behind the work. When gaps larger than 5 sts must be bridged, catch the float halfway through the gap to keep things tidy. The colorwork sections are charted.

Yarn: Almost any worsted-weight yarn will work with this pattern. I recommend the darkest color for the bottom, a medium value for the top, and the lightest for the snowflakes.

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

New Pattern Release: Cadet Cropped Cardigan

Introducing my latest pattern: the Cadet Cropped Cardigan!

_DAN0024_01(rev 1)

This stylish little cardi is my first sweater design project, so I am especially pleased that it has been released into the world.  The pattern is available through your local yarn store as part of Plymouth Yarn’s new fall pattern line: ask for Pamphlet #2325.  Photo credit for the modeled shots in this post all go to Plymouth Yarns — thank you for letting me blog with these awesome pix!

_DAN0034_01(rev 1)

Pattern: Cadet Cropped Cardigan

Designer: Rachel Henry (that’s me!)

Available: in Pamphlet #2325 at your local yarn shop

Yarn: Plymouth Yarns Worsted Merino Superwash Solids

_DAN0032_01(rev 1)

Inspiration: This is one of the first projects I did after deciding to carry around a small sketchpad, everywhere.  I saw a commercial on TV for an adorable fabric jacket that I thought would translate well to knitwear, and starting drawing little ideas madly. That’s as far as it went, until one of the designers at Plymouth (for whom I had been doing a lot of sample knitting) asked if I had any designs that might suit their fall line.  I worked up a proposal and it was accepted — I was thrilled!

_DAN0023_01__2_(rev 1)

Design/Skills Needed: This cardi is worked flat, in pieces.  The all-over diagonal lines are formed by knits and purls; the vertical lines on the front, center back, and sleeves are right twists and left twists. The sleeves begin wide deep turned-hem cuffs, and have set-in sleeve caps. The center plackets are worked from picked-up stitches and are also deep turned hems.  The cardi is finished with i-cord at the neck and bottom edge.  The button loops and faux epaulets are also made with i-cord, then sewn in place.  It’s worth noting that there is a lot of “finishing” work on this cardi — some of my test knitters found it a bit daunting to complete the basic pieces, and then still have so much work to do.

Speaking of test knitters … check out this AWESOME use of the Cadet Cropped Cardi as part of a steampunk costume!

2130 cropped cardi

2126 cropped cardi

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

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)

Fantasy Queue: Fall 2011 Interweave Knits

I received my Fall 2011 issue of Interweave Knits over a month ago, and although I read it right away, I’m only just now getting around to making up my fantasy queue.  Let’s make this interactive though — tell me true, dear reader, which pattern would you make from this issue, and out of what yarn?

Things I want to try (from articles and ads):

#1 — Strobilus Pullover (p.31)

Mostly I’m intrigued by the construction on this top — biased lace, knit in the round for the body, then split into shoulders that go up and around. I’m not sure if I could pull it off — big chested and all — but I do really like it, at least in theory.   I’d be sorely tempted to try it in KnitPicks Chroma … I guess after my Zaubershawl, I’m on a color-crazy mood.  Maybe Galapagos, or Fossil? Failing that, I might go with the suggested Classic Eliete Ariosa in gorgeous Balsam.

 

 

 

#2 — Dahlia Cardigan (p.76)

I think I’m in love! What a neat way to include lace in a garment! I love the pattern, the construction, the color — everything. This one made it into my for-real queue, and I’ve been right on the edge of buying yarn for it several times. The main thing that’s held me back is the recommended yarn — Serena is an alpaca/cotton blend, something that’s a bit hard to come by. There’s some shops near-ish that may or may not have it, but no indication of what I might have to pay.  I like to peruse online before showing up in a shop and getting hit hard by sticker shock. Provided I could convince myself that all-alpaca yarn would work, I might go with Knit Picks Andean Treasure in their new Royal Heather colorway.

 

#3 — Wheeled Lace Shawl (p.81)

This looks like it would be a fun lace pattern to knit. The edging is put on after blocking … intriguing! I think it would be extra-dramatic in a bold colorway, like Eggplant Aloft (from Knit Picks).

 

#4 — True North Mittens (p.98)

This mittens just want to be made in Knit Picks new WotA Tweed! Colorwork mittens are fast and easy in worsted-weight yarn, and I love the reindeer. I think I’d follow the “customize it” suggestion and swap plum out for deep red.  My palette choices: Down Heather, Rabbit Heather, and Barn Door Heather.

Cast-On Monday: Maluka, Steek This, and Kumara Two-Color Cowl

I weathered a bout of castonitis this week, starting three new projects.  Fortunately for my WIP list, they are all smallish projects. In fact, one of them is already done, and another is an i-cord bind-off away from completion.

Last week Monday I cast on for my Maluka, the August KAL in the Lace Knitters group.  This pattern falls directly into my current favorite category: one-skein fingering-weight lace shawlettes.  This one begins with a sideways-knit lace edging, with the body picked up along the full length.  The gently curve is achieved with short-rows.  I used a skein of Three Irish Girls McClellan Fingering that I had left-over from a design project.  I am in love with the pattern AND the yarn for this project, so it’s no surprise that I’m almost done.  I started binding off this morning, and plan to finish tonight.

2682 Maluka in progress

I also cast on for a new design project: Steek This, a colorwork coffee-cup cozy for a steeking class I’ll be teaching in the fall.  My idea is that it will be less scary to cut a teeny-tiny colorwork project like a coffee-cup cozy, instead of making a whole colorwork cardigan and then taking scissors to it.  I used Palette held double to simulate worsted-weight yarn, and a classic Fair Isle pattern from a stitch dictionary.  I finished the knitting, steeked, and put on the button bands in a single evening.  Alas, the prototype is a smidge too small, and the button band flares.  I’ll fix both those problems in the next prototype.

2680 Steek This (v1)

2683 Steek This (inside)

My third new project this week is another design project: Kumara Two-Color Cowl. I’m upgrading my son’s Two-Color Cowl to adult size, using gorgeous soft Kumara from Classic Elite.  This pattern is destined for the CEY Web-letter — look for it in the fall.  I’ll be looking for test knitters in a week or two.  If you want to learn how to knit flat in the round with cables …. post below!

2681 Kumara Two-Color Cowl