Knitting: September 2010 Archives
Fall has arrived and with it brisk air, longer sleeves and an urge for apple cider and all things comfy. The days have not quite decided to be cool but in the early morning and evening there is a chill. A light shawl is needed to add the right amount of coziness and warmth for that stroll around the block, concert in the park or watching the leaves change color. I designed the September Shawl with fall in mind. I knew that some days I would need something to nestle around my shoulders (if I wore a shirt too light) or to wrap around my neck to just ease the nippiness. The September Shawl is also well sized for small children to wear if they forgot their coat, can't be wiggled into one or won't stand still long enough for you to wrestle them into it. With eyelet rows begging for light ribbons or icord to be woven through, you can coordinate the September Shawl with your outfit or change it up with some sparkle for date night. This is a perfect fast knit for Christmas presents too.
The September Shawl is knit with Filatura Di Crosa Zara, a DK weight super wash merino wool. It is soft and cozy with great stitch definition. Some techniques you need to be familiar with for this project are: increases and decreases, and reading charts. The September Shawl will also look great in a silk, cashmere or cotton. This shawl needs about 250-275 yds of DK yarn. The eyelet pattern coupled with the ruffle make for a feminine shawl that is both simple and elegant. Made in a glittery yarn or with some sheen the September Shawl is perfect for holiday parties.
This is a story about Kidsilk Haze.
I have worked with a fair share of mohair in my day. (To me) it is the bad boy of yarn, I love it, oh I really do, but once you have it you start to question yourself. However, like a true bad boy you never regret your time and look back fondly. It is the fight you love, the challenge that keeps you coming back for more.
What I truly, madly, deeply love about mohair is the delicacy. It floats on air. It seems to be there yet not. It is fluffy and simple. The colors are so bright and vibrant yet because of the slightness of the yarn, the color can be just a hint or in your face; your choice. It is ridiculously soft. The softness blows me away each time I touch, yet I reach out again thinking that I was mistaken previously. Kidsilk Haze lends itself to lace in a way no other yarn can. It adds another layer to the lace, a layer of subtlety. The mohair diffuses the structure of the lace, giving it a softer appearance. Lace with its hair down, if you will. Kidsilk haze is an untamed beauty that you must muster your courage to ride. It is not wool, that you can knit with your eyes half on the TV. Mohair is like that famous Roman joke:
An American couple sits down to their first Roman meal in the heart of the city itself. Their waiter comes and greets them. The couple excited tells him it is their first day and they want the real Roman experience. Their waiter smiles. The couple then proceeds to tell the waiter that they hope to catch a show after and ask him his favorite. The waiter smiles again and states "This is Rome, tonight you eat. Tomorrow you will see your show".
Now praise for Kidsilk Haze aside (and I could go all day), you must be prepared. Like the wild house alluded to above, you can't show up to ride without preparations. Tools are needed. 1) Stitch markers: not everyone will work. I used a size 11 needle with the LaLa scarf so my locking markers didn't fit my needles and I used small black rubber bands. The rubber kept them from sliding. The black stood out. Do not use jump rings or anything with a gap. The Kidsilk Haze will wiggle itself through and mess up your count. 2) Needles: mohair is no time for your fastest needles. You do not want to go fast, trust me. This baby is slick enough without those needles. Pair the Kidsilk Haze with your slowest, most trusty needles. 3) Keep calm and carry on. Not only a good rule to live by in WWII but also with this yarn. Mistakes will happen; you will get frustrated. But your project will turn out lovely. Mohair is tricky for everyone. But it will work out. Be patient and keep at it. You cannot sail big ships unless you go in deep waters.
My colloquial sayings article is at an end (man, I love those metaphors!)
LaLa Scarf: pattern found in Greetings from Knit cafe
I truly hate to write reviews of this nature: the love/hate variety. If I love something, words flow from my fingers with a vengeance and the same can be said for hate. It is when I both love and dislike something that my mind gets muddled and I can't decide which way to go and which characteristics to give precedence to. Arranging your compliments and complaints in a certain order can sway a reader as much as your words. Let's go with stream of consciousness with this and see how we do.
First, I want to clear and air. Love/hate is a saying that easily comes to mind but I feel that my relationship with the LaLa Scarf is LOVE (note the capitals)/ Grrr. I love the finished product. I love the color combinations and possibilities. I love the delicate and small nature of the scarf and I love the look of mohair and the ruffle specifically in mohair. The Grrr comes in because I found this pattern frustrating and not all was due to the pattern but also to my own hang-ups. First, I was confused by the pattern in places. The eyelet row instructs you to do a double YO first and then each eyelet following you should wrap the yarn 3 times. I found this ambiguous. I did as instructed but the eyelets were too big, looked sloppy and floppy and not quite right. The following eyelet rows I just did the double YO all the way across and it looks MUCH better and appropriate. If this is correct, what does the wrap 3 times allude to? I also had a really tough time on the picot loops. I followed the instructions for about 4-5 picot loops but found that my loops looked like rats nests and proceeded to carefully and awkwardly frog back and try again. I went slower this time but with the same result. I decided to leave off the loops and bind-off with the light green yarn to add a whisper of color at the bottom of the ruffle. I used Rowan Kid Silk Haze in Garden and Jelly.
The finished scarf is deliciously soft, flowy and delicate. I can imagine wearing this with a light t-shirt, jeans and tall boots to add color to an outfit and to take it from casual to luxurious. LaLa would also brighten a holiday dress or keep your neck warm on a stroll to take in the holiday lights. This pattern could accommodate other lightweight yarns for a sleeker look should you have a friend who is less mohair and more cashmere. Or a combination there of. Due to my hang-ups with mohair (it is so thin that it floats on air and glides so quickly across your needle that control is difficult) I would knit the bulk of the scarf in cashmere or alpaca and the ruffle in mohair (the ruffle looks amazing in mohair).
It is no secret that Halloween is my favorite holiday. I have always loved planning, designing and creating Halloween throughout the house, whether that be costumes or (my favorite) decorations. Costumes are one day of fun but decorations are a whole month long! It is this time of year that I am especially glad to be crafty. While I love shopping for Halloween goodies, I know my neighbors do too and at all the same places. It is no fun for every house to be the same so making my decorations if doubly fun. Here are some of my favorite patterns around Ravelry that I am planning on making this year to spook up my house and give that extra ghoulish factor!
Felted Pumpkin: I have made several of these over the years because they are so fun. They are also (say it with me) a quick knit, so when I get in the Halloween spirit I also run to my wool and make another. It is a yearly tradition. You can change the size to be as BIG as you want or as teeny as you want. It is knit in pieces so it is another great project to knit in the car on your way to the Apple Pickin' Jubilee. You might want to add some opposing increase/decrease to help your stem bendy and not look so excited, as mine does. Yarn Recommended: Berocco Ultra Alpaca light (plently of pumpkin colors to choose from)
Spider- Hey- let it not be said that I do not love our Crochet friends, I am just not a crocheter (YET). I love, love, love this spider. He is creepy and cute at the same time- very difficult to pull off. I suspect he is also quick to whip up and also the legs are flexible so the kids will love playing with him and bending him to their will. Yarn Recommended: Gedifra Angora Merino (this will give a good fuzzy spidery feel)
Scream felt Wreath- I almost died of Halloween excitement when I beheld this wreath. I am already a big proponent of wreaths and wreath-like crafts so this was right up my alley. It screams perfect for Halloween in every way. It is felted so it will last and mistakes are allowed. It is creepy. You can choose your own colors! What fun. Yarn Recommended: Rowan Cocoon (lots of Halloween colors)
Halloween Softies- Just plain cute and perfect for the kids. They can decorate their room with Halloween goodness that won't leave them with nightmares or wondering if that knitted/crocheted ghost comes alive at night and waits in their closets. They softies will bring some whimsy to those who prefer a cuter Halloween sans gore, demons and blood oozing down walls. Yarn Recommended: Lion Brand Wool Ease
Corn Hat- This is perfect for adults
forced lovingly walking their
children from house to house All Hallow's Eve. No need to dress up, one hat is
your costume. Plus you won't disappoint the kids with the lack of enthusiasm.
You can deliver the message of "don't worry; I won't be feeding all the candy to
my kids. At least half goes to me". Additionally, should it be cold where you
and your family will be haunting the streets, your ears will thank you for your
sweet, Halloween Spirit. Yarn
Of all the knitting bags I have made (it might be JUST short of 100), Amy Butler's Stash N Dash is one of the top 3. It is perfect for knitting on the go (which I do a lot), small projects (my current obsession), socks and gifts. I made the biggest, Toiletry Bag, and it is perfect. I have decided I can use it as a project bag- in which I only have to pull out my needle, zip it and knit. It holds my yarn, tangle free and keeps it from rolling all over. This is also perfect when just knitting on the couch (keeps my yarn from little fingers) or at the Doctor's office. The strap hangs from your wrist so you can wear your yarn and quickly stash it away. The toiletry bag is also great for notions, wristlet for quick shopping trips, or a treasure bag for a little lady or man to tote their polished rocks, shiny coins or red marbles around. Oh and the bag is more spacious inside than it looks on the outside.
The Stash N Dash is quick to cut and sew up. I used a combo of quilting cotton (strap and top of bag) and home dec (lining and bottom of the bag) so I just interfaced the quilting cotton. Some more bags are definitely coming up and I am thinking of adding the straps or a little loop to hook a strap onto the smaller bags. These bags are a great option for Christmas presents because you can create a set in any fabric to match the recipient: dupioni silk for my sister in law, funky cotton for my mom and solids for my mother-in-law. These are also great teacher gifts, neighbors and the friend who has everything.
You are finally done knitting that project (sweater,
blanket, shawl, etc) and you can't wait to wear it or use it in some fashion
but you still need to weave in all your ends. "I can just tuck them in here or
just take the needle and real fast slide them here", you say as you try to
justify cutting corners. Trust me; this is another place where you want to run
the straight and narrow. Just like Swatching is so very important, so too is weaving in your
ends. Think of it this way: You see a super awesome dress. It is in a cut you
know will make you look HOT, the color is just right to set off your ________,
and it will go perfect with your favorite shoes. You, of course purchase it and head home but traffic is tough all the way. It is bumper to bumper and it takes you
hours to get home. But you have your HOT new dress, so you are still feeling
great once you get home. The only thing you want to do when you walk in the
door is put on your new dress so you can see how HOT it is. But once you try it
on you can see there are threads hanging out everywhere; they tickle you as you
wear your dress, they hang out past the hem, out the sleeves and neckline. You
take off your dress and turn it inside out to get a good look and your HOT
dress is a hot mess of threads, seams and doesn't look finished at all.
Disappointed you throw your
HOT dress in the closet; you know you can't
take it back (traffic was terrible) and even though it did make you look
amazing, you can't get past the tickling ends and sloppy inside. You never wear
your dress again.
Now, the same can be said of knitting. You don't want to put all those hours in only to be left with a piece that looks unfinished, especially if it is a gift. Weaving in is easy and fast compared to knitting a whole project and can leave a sense of satisfaction that only a well made project can leave. Doing it well is the culmination of saving up for the yarn, making time to knit, ripping back on a tricky part and finally, finally casting off. You can't go through all that only to skimp on the finishing.
Weaving in is just imitating stitches with your tail ends. If you take a close look at your project you can follow the yarn and mimic your stitch for any pattern and make your ends disappear. This is easily demonstrated with Stockinette. On the knit side you want to follow your knit Vs and on the purl side you want to blend in with the purl bumps. Since all stitches are combo of knitting and purling, for any other stitch it is just as easy as imitating that combo of knit Vs and purl bumps. Take your time on the trickier stitches. If it helps, take a piece of contrasting yarn and follow your Vs and bumps and once you are sure you have got it, go over the contrasting yarn with your tail ends and then remove the contrast. Think of it as your trail of bread crumbs.
I have my own theories on why socks are so mesmerizing. Let me regal you.
1) Socks are quick
2) There are a gazillion patterns so there is something for everyone
3) Everyone wears/loves socks so you have a go-to knitted present
4) You can be secretly wild with socks and no one will know but you.
There as many ways to knit socks as there are sock patterns. You can be traditional and use DPNs (Double Pointed Needles), Magic Loop (that's me), 2 circulars, 2 socks at a time, Toe Up (Also my preferred) and Cuff Down, etc. The easiest way to figure out your prefect combo of techniques it to try them all. I only recently (this year) knit my first, second and third pair of socks. This is because I was trying out all the different methods. I found what works for me and now I enjoy socks and have found the addiction. Also once you figure out which sock knitter you are you can purchase your needles. Since I am a magic looper, I bought all my sock needle sizes (00, 0, 1, 2, & 3, and every size in between) in 40-60 in. length cables.
There are some key techniques that every sock knitters needs in his or her bag. The first is a good cast-on (even if you prefer toe-up you might find a pattern you MUST make that is cuff down) that is stretchy and easy. The second if a good stretchy bind-off (Super stretchy bind-off). Three is practice with short rows (toe box and heel). Another good piece of info to know: needle size 00 through 4 have sizes in between in millimeters. Get familiar with them; they can help you obtain the correct gauge. Lastly, I know that store bought socks are cheap and easy but a handmade sock is a luxury few but knitters know. You can give that luxury to those you love and customize it to them. A hand knit sock fits perfectly and feels so lovely (better than a really great cup of coffee or big glass of wine).
P.s: The red sock is knit in Regia Kaffe Fassett in Mirage Fire,a toe-up pattern is coming up in October! The other sock is knit in a sock yarn purchased years ago with a lost ball band (Don't ya hate that), the pattern is cuff-down, Jaywalker.
Check out our great selection of Sock Yarn- Super Yummy!