Monthly Archives

October 2015

Samoa Hat

A beautifully simple hat with a clean, I-cord cast on.

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better in the Hat Department, it did. At last, the knitting universe is on my side. For the time being. Fingers crossed.

I am so pleased to share another new hat pattern with you today. It’s called Samoa.

Samoa is a clean, stylish hat featuring an I-cord cast on for a finished, tidy brim. Step by step instructions are provided if you are new to I-cord cast-ons.  They are more work up front, but it’s entirely worth it. I-cord cast-ons aren’t as scary as they sound. You can totally do this!

I loath stockinette brims that roll, and sometimes I just get sick of ribbing. It’s nice to change things up now and again. Keep it fresh.

The textured band, a simple combination of knit and slipped stitches, is divided from the brim and clean upper stockinette section with rounds of knitted chain stitch. Step by step written instructions are also included.

I used Madelinetosh Tosh DK in Great Grey Owl (I have been so into greys lately!) on size 6 (4 mm) needles, but the pattern is flexible and can be knitted with similar needles and yarn types.

This hat is sized to fit an adult woman but can easily be adjusted for a smaller or larger circumference by casting on fewer or more stitches in multiples of ten.

All instructions are provided in both English and metric units in a professional, sleek pattern.

Pretty pattern = pretty hat.

Samoa is just challenging enough not to bore you to tears with a few fancy but completely achievable details to keep things spicy in the knitting department.

Looking for holiday knitting gift ideas but you want something a little different from the ordinary hum drum? This hat is for you! Impress your friends and family or knit one up for yourself. Less than two months of holiday knitting time remain!

{Pause while I recover from brief panic attack…}

Samoa is available on Ravelry for $3.00 USD. Enjoy and happy knitting!

Joining Ginny’s lovely Yarn Along and reading How to Knit a Love Song. Completely cheesy and predictable, but I truly can’t put it down. Sigh.

Life Dispatch, Vol. 3

We are thick in the heart of Fall. Here it’s the Final Days. The decent weather is coming to an end. Daylight savings is next week. It’s time. Time to take down the summer garden after picking the last handfuls of tomatoes. Plant garlic. Chop back the asparagus patch. Acknowledge there are flower beds in need of care before the Dark Days arrive any moment now.

So much to do.

This whole business about gardening being a summer project is a big myth. It just never ends. I am not even going to pretend I might get to it all.

Instead I am going to carve our home-grown jack-o-lanterns, roast pumpkin seeds, pick our persimmons, take note of the changing leaves, and call it good.

Or at least something like that.
Last year I dried the persimmons. We have so many. Too many for baking. But the dried persimmons weren’t a big hit. I think the chickens were treated to half of them.

I have a new strategy this year:  cocktails.

Persimmon mojitos. Persimmon margaritas. Persimmon moscow mules. Persimmon sangria.

I can’t wait.

Thank you to everyone and your kind words last week. My latest pattern release was such positive experience. Truly, as a whole, knitters are such lovely people. I believe I have remarked before in this space that we knitters should band together, pick a pretty spot somewhere on this vast planet (I vote for somewhere warm and tropical), and start our own nation of knitters.

I already know just how our flag might look–a ball of yarn crisscrossed with knitting needles. And it would be knitted. Of course. Waving in the wind on a bamboo pole, flitted with light through the shade of a palm frond.

I can see it now.

The Best Hat Ever

The name speaks for itself.

I am so incredibly excited to be releasing my most recent pattern: the Best Hat Ever.

The name speaks for itself.

The name says it all.

 

This hat has it all. Simple. Fun. Stylish. Just different enough to be exciting. Not so difficult as to cause undue stress, misery, or tears.

A perfect Just Because knit. A timely only-two-months-left-of-holiday-knitting-holly-crap!!! knit. Or, my-best-girlfriend-deserves-something-special knit.

Whatever your fancy, this hat is a winner.

Scout’s honor.

Choose to embellish the Best Hat Ever with a knitted flower or forego the accessory to the accessory. The hat works either way. It’s like deciding between merlot and pinot noir. You simply can’t go wrong.

The textured brim, a simple combination of knit and slipped stitches, is divided from the clean, upper stockinette section with a single round of knitted chain stitch. Step by step written instructions are included in the pattern.

Of course.

This hat is sized to fit an adult woman but can easily be adjusted by changing the cast on in multiples of ten. Easy peasy.

Big head? No problem.

Want to knit one for your young daughter? Don’t sweat.

For pattern development, I used Madelinetosh Tosh DK in Fallencloud on size 6 (4 mm) needles, but the pattern is flexible and can be knitted with other yarns.

All instructions are provided in both English and metric units. This is the first time I have offered a pattern that actually looks sharp and professional. Hello, graphic design! Works wonders. I can’t wait to reformat my earlier patterns. Even a knitting pattern needs a little spruce up now and then.

You can find the Best Hat Ever on Ravelry for $3.00 USD.

Enjoy!

Joining Ginny.

Blueberry Waffle Socks

  1. Despite flurry of high priority, IMPORTANT knitting odds and ends that must be finished to complete various designs that have been in the works for way too long, you decide to cast on Blueberry Waffle socks with the Malabrigo sock yarn that has been eating at you for over a month now. You have resisted long enough.
  2. Note the pattern calls for a heavier weight yarn but also the casting on of 52 stitches. This just happens to be your Magic Number from your first pair of socks which irritably required you do to all kinds of math to adjust from a 64 stitch cast on. Rejoice in knowing you won’t have to do math. And, the first pair of socks fit perfectly. The soothing sound of angels harking in the background calms you soul. All is right in the world.
  3. Cast on using size 2 double pointed needles even though your gut is telling you to do the magic loop. Sure, many other (lovely, talented, amazing) knitters noted they actually preferred double pointed over magic loop when you drug everyone along for the ride on your last sock drama, but your instincts say magic loop all the way. You hate (okay, dislike) double pointeds.
  4. Decide to ignore instincts, be open minded, and listen to the masses. Hey, maybe you will learn something. Cast on with double pointeds.
  5. After 15 rounds, it is obvious Blueberry Waffles are much smaller than the last pair of socks you knit with a 52 stitch cast on. Hhhmmm. Apparently Malabrigo sock is not identical in gauge to Madelinetosh Sock. This must be why Knitting Gods invented swatching. Well, you always were a heathen.
  6. Fret a bit. Decide socks will surely stretch with blocking in a worst case scenario. Continue a few more rounds.
  7. Can’t stop fretting. Transfer to magic loop just to be able to try on the in-progress sock…Yep. They are tight. But they will probably work.
  8. Knit another hour. Then realize you have someone managed to mess up the simple pattern of Row 1 and Row 2: K*, Row 3 and Row 4: (K2, P2)*  by switching Row 2 and Row 3. You are totally sober, mind you. Not a good sign. You consider checking into in-patient mental health, then decide that might be a bit too drastic. What if they take away your knitting needles under the guise of personal safety?
  9. Frog project and rewind yarn.
  10. Cast on again, this time on size 3 double pointeds because you don’t have a size 3 circular long enough for magic loop. You figure if you are starting over, you might as well go up a needle size for a slightly larger sock.
  11. Spend the next four inches regretting changing needle sizes and wishing you had just stuck with size 2 after all for a tighter stitch, desirable with socks. But you are committed. There is no going back now.
  12. Hope for the best.

 

How I Survived My Little Sewing Project

If you are anything at all like me–a knitter who absolutely sucks at sewing and possesses not a single lick of aspiration to become an accomplished seamstress anytime soon–there is only one possible solution.

Get someone else to do it.

Should you ever find yourself in a position like I did, having searched Etsy and Amazon for oilcloth pennant flagging (how can someone not be making and selling these things on Etsy?!?), and subsequently convinced by your girlfriends to just make your own.

They say: it’s easy.

Sadly, you are gullible and easily convinced.

You proceed to search the three fabric shops in driving distance (an hour’s drive, mind you), to find they don’t even carry oilcloth. At least not what you had in mind.

This only means one thing: order online.

Before you know it, you’ve ordered five yards of oilcloth (1/2 yard minimum). This is enough oilcloth to make a pennant flag from California to the Statue of Liberty.

That’s when it hits you: you are screwed.

So when you are at the weekly playgroup, pretending not to notice all the little, adorable children flinging sand and playing sword fighting with over sized bubble wands, of course you mention in passing your inspired project to add decor to your son’s under-construction fort to another mom. (Your son’s fort was inspired by her daughter’s fort, so the sharing was innocent. Truly.)

Then it happens. The clouds part. The sun shines down. Come on by. We can work on it together.

Oh. By the way. This mom just happens to be a professional seamstress? Yep. She sews. For a living. Complete with an entire studio full of sewing machines.

All your nightmares of dragging the sewing machine down from the top shelf in the garage and the inevitable hours you would have spent cussing and crying just trying to remember how to thread the darn bobbin disappeared. Just like that.


You make a date.  You cut together. She sews (alone). And the flags are made. Some for your son’s fort. And some for her daughter’s fort. You have a hero for the day (week/year/decade).

Everyone is happy. The flags come out wonderfully. There are no tears.

The knitter can stick to knitting. Without the distraction of other hobbies and crafts.

Focus must be maintained. At all times.

 

On Straight Knitting Needles

I am now 100% certain that the Yarn Harlot can see into my soul. She KNOWS me. Like no one else does.

For real.

At least that is what I have concluded after raiding my local library for all of her books and ravishing the pages with great delight. (If only there were audio versions so I could listen AND knit.) Never have I felt so understood by another human being. Now I know it’s not just a knitting obsession that I face each day. It’s a Knitting Lifestyle.

So there, World.

In other news, I have spent the entirety of the past year knitting on circular needles of various sizes and brands. Even for swatching.

As luck would have it, my inventory of knitting needles (or the ones I could find) lead me to swatch with my size 7 rosewood straight knitting needles over the weekend. It had been a long time since I had picked up some straight needles.

It was glorious.

The feel in my hand. The weight. The length (they were on the shorter side…a perfect length for a knitting a scarf). The material (I probably wouldn’t have been so overjoyed if they were cold, metal cheapies).

A divine tactile experience.

In my early knitting days, I used almost entirely straight needles. Circulars scared me. I mostly knit scarfs. When I branched out to hats, I used double pointed needles (which I will never learn to love). Some years ago, I began to knit larger garments and shawls, bravely discovering the more flexible universe of circulars. The straight needles were left abandoned.

Tragedy.

I was so mesmerized by the joy of rediscovering straight needles that I was tempted to knit my fingerless mitts (Madelinetosh Pashmina Worsted in Well Water) on them, which would have required seaming. I hate seaming, so the idea didn’t fly for long.

Soon, though. I just might have to knit a scarf. Or perhaps a cowl with grafted ends. It simply must be.

Joining Ginny’s Yarn Along. 

 

Best Fall TV for Knitting

Need something new to watch while you knit (craft, crochet, sew...)?

I have been watching so much fall TV while knitting lately. After months of nothing to watch, I simply can’t keep up on all my shows during stolen hours while Reed sleeps. Plus a I have been catching up on Netflix’s latest release of Homeland (finished two hats!), which I watch a season behind because I refuse to pay for Showtime or HBO.

I stayed up way too late last night finishing a binge of Empire Season 1. Now I am all set to continue with Season 2 alongside the rest of the world. And I almost have an entire fingerless mitt to show for it.

I haven’t been able to sleep past 5:00 or 6:00 each morning despite my late hours of tv consumption. Reed wakes me up with his foot jabs (yes, we still sleep together). Before I know it, my brain has turned on, fretting about this or that, and I can’t fall back asleep. Most tragic.

What am I watching while I knit, you wonder?

My favorite new show is Blindspot, although I am still a devoted Blacklist fan. Nashville. Of course. On Tuesdays when I have access to video streaming, I like to keep up with The Mindy Project on Hulu. Half hour comedies have never been my thing (apparently I have no sense of humor), but that particular show hooked me from the beginning. The other new show I am hooked on is Quantico, which among other things, makes me want better hair.

I also have a separate subset of shows I will watch with my husband, particularly The Voice and Hawaii 5-0. I will never tire of shows in tropical settings…I know I am seriously missing my calling to move to Hawaii!

I still record Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away Murder out of habit. Although I watch them last, if ever…not minding if I skip an episode here or there.

Too much tv! Gah!

Meanwhile, mornings here are nice and crisp, so I have been wearing this scarf. An oldy but goody knit a decade or more ago when Debbie Bliss was more en vogue. Back then, my knitting bravery and skill set was poor, and I pretty much just knit scarves. I remember making this one up on the fly. A simple ribbed pattern that happened to pair perfectly with the fabric and color blocking. It has held up pretty well over the years, considering the wear.

If only all my projects could turn out so well.

Grey Matters


A little off topic, but my washing machine flipped into the air mid cycle, end for end.

Yep. Completely airborne.

The top blew off too. The bottom was nowhere to be found. Water everywhere. Bits and pieces of washing machine all over the garage.

Appliance mayhem.

The noise was so overwhelmingly cacophonous that I thought a dump truck had crashed into the back yard.

Nope. Just the washing machine leaping into the air like an Olympic high diver, landing with a big cement splash/clang. You can check out the aftermath on You Tube here.

I was only washing a queen sized sheet and mattress cover. No bricks or dead bodies. No dynamite. And thankfully, no knits.

I spent two hours on the phone with Sears. No luck. They played dumb. Unwilling to help or replace because we don’t have a warranty even though this is surely an issue become the normal hum drum of typical malfunction and aging. The Kenmore was four years old.

Stupid Sears.

Meanwhile…

My love affair with Madelinetosh continues. This time with DK. It’s all about grey for me this season. A couple of skeins of Fallencloud (right) have become hats.

Great Grey Owl (left) is on the needles at present, also in the form of a hat design. It’s all about experimenting with an i-cord cast on for a brim. I was about to rip the whole thing, quit hats, and move onto fingerless gloves until I tried on the first few inches once the would-be hat was off the needles. I decided it wasn’t so bad after all. Back on the needles it went. This serves as further evidence that I am a glass half full kind of person.

The fingerless mitts will have to wait. Even though a design came to me in my sleep last night. Good thing I wrote it down.

Joining Ginny and reading Who Do You Love by Jennifer Weiner.

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Meet the Neighborhood Alpacas

Meet the neighborhood alpacas: Nicoli, Jedidiah, and Don Peru. Those are the males, anyway. The females are in the neighboring field. Sadly they can’t reach us to enjoy the tasty alpaca pellets we share with our furry friends that live a few houses down. There’s a silly fence in the way. Apparently fences are the secret to alpaca family planning.

As a knitter, I love sharing the hood with alpacas. Almost as nice as having a resident flock of sheep. Plus, it’s perfect for a toddler. We have our very own nearby animal menagerie to entertain us on slow afternoons. First we feed the alpacas. Then the horses in next field down (one officially named George and the other unofficially named Cheeser by Reed). We wrap up the petting zoo with a herd of goats at the very end of our driveway.

We enjoy all the benefits of farm animals without having to care for them. It’s perfect in my book.

Visiting the animals has been a routine of ours since Reed could barely walk. When he was really little, I would load him up in his wagon and haul him down the drive. Back then, he was too timid to reach his own tiny hand through the fence to offer up snacks to the alpacas. He’s braver now. And a Big Boy. The wagon stays behind as his sneaker-clad feet zip down to the alpacas, eager to say hello.

And the alpacas? Well, they are adorable. Each of them have their own personality.  Don Peru (center) is my favorite. He’s the shy guy. The other two boss him around a bit. I have a soft spot for the underdog. All three are glad for the treats but timid to pet. Every now and again, one will be distracted enough that I can get in a quick pet between the ears. So soft!

How I Rescued My Hand Knit Accessories

It's not too late. Rescue your hand knits today.

Until last week, my hand knit accessories lived in a tangled, disorganized pile in a dirty storage bin in the bottom of the bedroom closet, chaotically disorganized amidst the non-knitted accessories. Plus a few old cottons tees.

I will pause while you gasp and then regain your composure.

It is criminal, I know.

A hand knit shawl should not smell musty. It simply cannot be.

Sadly our house is tight on storage space. The fact that we are minimalists doesn’t seem to comepensate.

The gravity of the situation hit me. Hard. I quickly freed up a basket and rolled the scarves, shawls, and hats just so. Tidy. Safe. Easy to find.

If only I can find a situable place to store the basket.

What struck me the most was this: after a near two decades of knitting, mostly accessories at that, this is all that remains. Of the zillions of mittens, scarves, shawls, and hats that I have created (some prettier than others), all I have kept for myself are the knits in this basket. Nothing more.

Except for the pair of fingerless gloves stashed in my purse for cold driving mornings.

And the hat knit in 1999 that resides in my car for emergencies. (Best not to be car-stranded without a good hat in the event Pure Survival is an issue. Be prepared for emergencies. Knitting just might save your life.)

Otherwise, it has all been gifted. Holidays. Birthdays. Babies. Just because. Such is the way of the knitter. And rightly so. How many scarves does one person actually need? Five? Less? More?

All this leads me to think of the hand knits that have been passed on to friends and family over the years. I cringe a bit to think of the particularly ugly ones…the leg warmers knit in too heavy a wool, gifted to the yoga teacher who surely buried them in the bottom of her own closet. At best. Some friends were luckier. They received nicer knitted gifts. Soft. Lacy. Pretty.

I hope they are well loved.

A knitter wishes the best for knitted gifts as they make their way to a new home, just as a mother frets and hopes for her children, even after they are grown.

Now, where should I put that basket?

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