Darling set, in Knit Now Issue 31
Woodcutter set, in Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts 2013
Caldicott Scarf, $5.50 at Interweave Pysanka, in Knit Now Issue 24
Tracery, in The Unofficial Harry Potter Knits Juicy Fly, in The Unofficial Harry Potter Knits
Arguyle, FREE at knitty.com
Leaves and Lace Baby Blanket, in Creative Knitting Spring 2013 Bukhara, $2.99 at Knit Picks
Flutterby Tam, FREE at Petite Purls Stippling, in Knit Now Issue 17
Beloved, $5.50 at Interweave
Addis Abeba, $3.99 at Knit Picks
Celtic Knotwork Baby Blanket, $3.99
Hat Heel Sock, FREE at knitty.com Around the Block, $4.99
KWB/TSF Hat, $4.99 Sweetness, $2.99
Ilaisa's Loose Toque, FREE Child Legs, FREE
Leafy Baby Poncho, $3.99 Lacy Ribs Scarf, $2.99
Reversible Celtic Patterns Baby Blanket, FREE 'Honey, I lost my hat' Hat, FREE
Arabesque Baby Blanket, FREE Baby Argyle Cardigan, FREE
"Don't quibble with me,
I'm dreaming in technicolour.

--Arthur McLean

KEC>CmR+++>$ Exp+++ SPM++ Syn+ Nov- Cot Wool+ Lux+++ Stash+ Scale++ Fin Ent-- FI+ Int Tex++ Lace++ Felt Flat+ Circ++ DPN+ ML+ Swatch@ KIP+++ Blog++ FO++ WIP+++ AltX+SwSp-

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Let's talk Christmas

I'm scaling back this year. At this point, there are 15 people on my gift list: the four people (besides me) who live in my house; my close family (three people), DH's close family (three people), and various teachers and care providers for my kids (five people). I decided a number of months ago that I didn't think I would enjoy the stress that would come with committing to knit gifts for all of them. So I started to cull.

There are some people on my list that, to be honest, are always going to get knitted stuff. These are the people that are super-difficult to shop for but very easy to knit for, such as my dad and brother. Teachers almost always get knitted stuff because frankly, if I were a teacher getting about twenty new gifts every Christmas, either my house would be full of crap or I would have to figure out how to get rid of it. But knitted gifties - assuming I have accurately gauged the personal style of the recipient and chosen well with a pattern - are not crap. They are useful and helpful and will (I hope) be kept.

Then there are people on my list who get lots of knitted stuff throughout the year, so I can strike them off my knitting list with very little guilt, i.e. my husband and kids.

So when the dust cleared this year, I had whittled my knitted gift list down to eight people (possibly nine if I can get off my duff and finish the reknitting of one of my husband's sweaters in time). I've already posted about four of the gifties: my dad's socks, which I got started back in on (finally) and are (slowly) proceeding; my brother's fingerless mitts (done); my older BIL's socks (done), and my niece's socks (done). But there have also been:

DD1's teacher (done):

This is "Miss Jane's Hat", by Heide Petroski, and it's been on my queue ever since it came out in the summer 2012 issue of Jane Austen Knits (which, I'm just noticing now, has a 2014 issue out, so I will have to take a closer look at what's in that).

DD2's teacher (done and gifted):

This teacher was already in her third trimester by the beginning of the school year, so obviously I had to knit her something baby as her giftie. :) She's already gone on her maternity leave (baby will probably be arriving any day now) so it was gifted to her before she left. The pattern is "Seamless Yoked Baby Sweater" by Carole Barenys, something that's been in my queue for years. Very sweet.

DD1's gymnastics teacher (done):

The pattern is "Minty", by Erica Jackofsky, which has been in my queue ever since it came out in Knitty about four years ago. And may I just say that it is a fabulous pattern. First of all, the finished garment is super-cute, not to mention that its style is super-"in" at the moment. And it is a very quick and very fun knit. A real pleasure. I could easily go on a Minty jag and knit half a dozen of them before I knew what I was doing. Highly recommended.

DD2's art teacher (done):

I've really, really been trying to knit from the queue lately, and this pattern is no exception: it's "Citron", by Hilary Smith Callis.

To make it, I used almost a complete skein of Kidsilk Lace, by Hedgehog Fibres. It didn't allow me to do all five sections that the pattern called for, but I did four, and that gave me a very nice-sized piece so I've no complaints. And let me tell you something about this yarn - I myself could never wear it because my skin just doesn't get along with mohair even if you do put 30% silk into it, but at one point I had to frog back quite a bit of it and was delighted to find that it was not impossible. Sure, it got a bit sticky and difficult at points, but by and large, it frogged fairly easily and the yarn seemed none the worse for it. More amazement came when it was time to block the shawl. I gave it a full soak (warning, it looks gross, but I promise, it's just knitting, not animal flesh):

Naturally, I expected to be left with a vibrantly pink bowl of water when I took the shawl out, but NO. I swear to you, the water was clear as a bell. I looked very closely - the colour (which as you can see from the shots is quite intense) didn't seem to bleed AT ALL. I still don't really believe it. But you can bet that if anyone mentions to me that they want a laceweight mohair/silk blend, I will recommend this yarn until I'm blue in the face. It was a (very generous) Christmas gift last year from my older BIL, and he actually gave me two skeins of it, here's the other one:

(Ignore the cable needle; I have no idea why that's stuck in there, I never even use it.)

I suspect I'll be using that purple skein to make another Citron for DD2, whose favourite colour is purple (and for whom four sections of that shawl is exactly the right size to give her a very nice sized cape).

(Just not as a Christmas present!)

Finally, my cousin and his little family are visiting at the end of November. They live in Chicago and we rarely see them, and this will be their last visit before Christmas. So I made their little daughter a little something:

(It looks done, but I still have to wash and block it.)

The pattern is "Entrechat, by Lisa Chemery, and like pretty much everything else I've been making lately, it's been in my queue for a very long time. Look how adorable that thing is. It's a really lovely little pattern and I enjoyed making it. I also enjoyed that I got it on sale, thanks to the Indie Design Gift-A-Long. The sale is over by now, but the Gift-A-Long itself lasts for two months and runs until New Year's Eve, so it's not too late to get involved, if you're keen. After all, I'm sure I'm not the only person knitting holiday presents!

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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Many pairs of small things

(Almost done getting caught up on talking about my projects after months of blogless knitting)

So in my last catch-up post, I promised to talk this time about small projects I've been working on that come in pairs. There have been many of them!

For Mother's Day this year, I got two balls of "Darling" sock yarn, from Katia, in a really nice colourway:

I turned it into socks for me!

Pattern is "Viking Socks" by Karen S. Lauger, which has been in my queue for ages. Great socks.

Actually, I've been working from the queue quite a bit, because I also made some "Double Heelix" socks, by the lovely Jeny Staiman, for DD1:

DH got a pair of socks for his birthday, made from my ol' reliable Hat Heel pattern:

I used the same pattern in a smaller size for DD3, using the leftovers from my Viking Socks:

(She loves them.)

More queue-busting occurred when I made some more socks for me using the "Circinus" pattern, by Rich Ensor:

And the "Ornette" socks, by the ever-faboo Cookie A:

They were also for me. I adore them.

And the "Nemesis" socks by Susan Dittrich:

These are destined to be a Christmas present for my oldest BIL.

And the gorgeous "Jane Bennet Socks" by Rachel Coopey, for my niece's Christmas present:

And the amazing "Fightin' Words" by Annie Watts, for my brother's Christmas present:

At his request (he saw this pattern over my shoulder one day and went nuts for it), I recharted the right mitten so it would say "PLOW" instead of "POW". (He drives the zamboni at work, which is also referred to as "the plow".)

And for myself, I've almost finished "Water for the Elephants" by the very talented Rose Hiver - I just need to block them and weave in the ends:

And I got started on some "Stitch Surfer" socks by Louise Robert:

And I decided to make the "Naniboujou" socks by Chrissy Gardiner for my dad for Christmas:

Except it's just really tough mentally to wade through. Not the instructions, I mean; just the knitting of the sock itself. For some reason, for me personally, it just drags and I've been finding all kinds of excuses not to work on it. Sorry, socks. And sorry, Dad.

And (by golly I've been good about working from my queue, eh?), I got started on a pair of "Absinthe" socks by Sara Morris, for DD1:

(Sorry about hurting your eyes there.)

Michaels was having a sale on "Serenity Sock Weight Prints" by Premier Yarns, so I bought two balls and used my Hat Heel pattern again to make socks for my two oldest daughters. DD2 got a purple pair:

And DD1 got a cheerful multicoloured pair:

DD1 gives this yarn a big thumbs-up; she says it's not itchy at all, and she's quite sensitive to that sort of thing (I get complaints about the itchiness of her other socks a lot.)

DD2 needed a new pair of mittens this winter, so I sized down the needles on my own Minaret Mittens pattern and produced some:

In June, I started making another pair of Hat Heels for DD3 out of the leftovers from DD1's Double Heelixes:

...But I pretty much ran out of yarn after finishing the foot. I started using another yarn for the legs, but I ran out of that, too, so now I'm not sure what to do and it's been languishing for so long DD3's feet might be too big for it now! But every now and then she reminds me about them so I think I need to finish them soon or I'll be in trouble. :)

Wow...that's a lot, huh? Next post will hopefully be the last catchup one, and I'll talk about all the remaining projects I've been working on that are not small pairs of things!

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A hopefully helpful tutorial for chart beginners

My stitch night pal Arielle asked for help recently to "translate" a chart because she didn't know how to read them. I whipped up a tutorial and sent it over to her, but then figured I should put it on my blog in case it could help anybody else. So here it is.

The pattern she was making is the XOXO Headband by Amy O'Neill Houck. It's a free pattern, and I have rewritten the chart and chart-related instructions for this tutorial, so I'm neither undercutting her sales nor violating her copyright. (In case anyone was wondering. :) I do quote one small snippet of text from her pattern, but it's fair use for illustrative purposes.

So here we go!

What is a chart? And why should I care?

A chart is a way to communicate instructions to a knitter in a way that gives you a sort of visual “preview” of what the knitting is going to look like when it's viewed from the right side of the work. So let’s look at the specific chart we're dealing with:

visual of a chart

It's not as complicated as it initially seems if you break it down:

  1. Each "box' in that chart (whether square or rectangular) represents ONE set of knitted instructions that you have to perform. (Usually in charts, one box equals one stitch, but this is not always the case, which is why I say a set of knitting instructions.)


  2. Each row of boxes in that chart represents one ROW in your knitting. For instance, here’s the chart again, with three of the rows highlighted:


    visual of a chart


    The bit highlighted in green represents all the instructions for the first row.


    The bit highlighted in red represents all the instructions for the second row.


    The bit highlighted in blue represents all the instructions for the third row.


    And so-on.

You will notice that the rows are numbered, to help you keep track. You’ll also notice that odd-numbered rows have their numbers on the RIGHT side, whereas even-numbered rows have their numbers on the LEFT side. This is to help you remember which side to start reading your row from.

Say what?!?

Yep, when you’re working flat, you will need to read the chart starting from a different side depending on whether you’re working on the right side (RS) or the wrong side (WS). This is because when you start working a right side row, the first stitch you work is on the right. But when you start working a wrong side row, the first stitch you work is on the left, if you’re looking at the knitting from the right side. Therefore, since the chart is meant to represent the knitting as seen from the right side, you have to:

  • read the chart from right-to-left when you’re working a right side row, and
  • read the chart from left-to-right when you’re working a wrong side row.

So, you can appreciate that the placement of the row numbers on the chart is a good reminder of which direction to read in.

(Also in case you were wondering: Yes, if you're working in the round, that makes chart reading less complicated because in that case, you're only ever working with the RS facing you, which means you only ever have to read the chart rows from right-to-left.)

Let’s start working the pattern!

After the initial ribbed start-up, the pattern asks you to begin the chart work. Note that on each row of the headband, you’re supposed to do some knitting work before the chart and after the chart. (This makes sense, since the chart only contains instructions for 12 stitches and you’ve got 22 stitches on your needles. You’ve got to do something with those extra 10 stitches!)

The pattern itself says:

“On RS Rows knit 3 p 2, work chart, p 2, k 3; On WS Rows, p 3, k2, purl across, k2, p last 3. Repeat until headband measures 18 inches.”

This is a very comprehensible instruction for those knitters with lots of experience with patterns and charts, but to beginners it's probably pretty murky. Here are those same instructions, translated out with more step-by-step detail:

  • Row 1 (a RS row): Knit 3 stitches, then purl 2 stitches, then work the first row of the chart, then purl 2 stitches, then knit 3 stitches.
  • Row 2 (a WS row): Purl 3 stitches, then knit 2 stitches, then work the second row of the chart, then knit 2 stitches, then purl 3 stitches.
  • Row 3 (a RS row): Knit 3 stitches, then purl 2 stitches, then work the third row of the chart, then purl 2 stitches, then knit 3 stitches.
  • Row 4 (a WS row): Purl 3 stitches, then knit 2 stitches, then work the fourth row of the chart, then knit 2 stitches, then purl 3 stitches.
  • Row 5 (a RS row): Knit 3 stitches, then purl 2 stitches, then work the fifth row of the chart, then purl 2 stitches, then knit 3 stitches.
  • Row 6 (a WS row): Purl 3 stitches, then knit 2 stitches, then work the sixth row of the chart, then knit 2 stitches, then purl 3 stitches.
  • Row 7 (a RS row): Knit 3 stitches, then purl 2 stitches, then work the seventh row of the chart, then purl 2 stitches, then knit 3 stitches.
  • Row 8 (a WS row): Purl 3 stitches, then knit 2 stitches, then work the eighth row of the chart, then knit 2 stitches, then purl 3 stitches.
  • Row 9 (a RS row): Knit 3 stitches, then purl 2 stitches, then work the ninth row of the chart, then purl 2 stitches, then knit 3 stitches.
  • Row 10 (a WS row): Purl 3 stitches, then knit 2 stitches, then work the tenth row of the chart, then knit 2 stitches, then purl 3 stitches.
  • Row 11 (a RS row): Knit 3 stitches, then purl 2 stitches, then work the eleventh row of the chart, then purl 2 stitches, then knit 3 stitches.
  • Row 12 (a WS row): Purl 3 stitches, then knit 2 stitches, then work the twelfth row of the chart, then knit 2 stitches, then purl 3 stitches.
  • Row 13 (a RS row): Knit 3 stitches, then purl 2 stitches, then work the thirteenth row of the chart, then purl 2 stitches, then knit 3 stitches.
  • Row 14 (a WS row): Purl 3 stitches, then knit 2 stitches, then work the fourteenth row of the chart, then knit 2 stitches, then purl 3 stitches.
  • Row 15 (a RS row): Knit 3 stitches, then purl 2 stitches, then work the fifteenth row of the chart, then purl 2 stitches, then knit 3 stitches.
  • Row 16 (a WS row): Purl 3 stitches, then knit 2 stitches, then work the sixteenth row of the chart, then knit 2 stitches, then purl 3 stitches.
  • And then just keep repeating these 16 rows over and over again until the headband measures 18 inches.

The question now, of course, is how to follow that part of those instructions which says “work the Xth row of the chart”.

Here’s how, starting with row 1 of the chart. Let’s look at it:

visual of a chart row

Notice that the row number is on the right, so we know this means you have to read the row starting from the right. Therefore, here’s the order of the instructions you’re supposed to follow:

order to work in a chart row

  1. So the first instruction you need to follow is one of those plain white squares. The legend for that plain white square tells you:

    snippet from chart legend


    You’re currently working on a right side row, so you will knit one stitch.


  2. The second instruction you need to follow is another one of those plain white squares. So you will knit a second stitch.


  3. The third instruction you need to follow is this:


    snippet from chart legend


    It’s an instruction that will have you working a total of four stitches.


  4. The fourth instruction you need to follow is this:


    snippet from chart legend


    This instruction also has you working a total of four stitches all together, but NOTICE that in this case, you’re holding the cable needle at the front of the work while you knit the first two stitches, not the back like you did in the previous cable cross.


  5. The fifth instruction you need to follow is one of those plain white squares, and the sixth instruction you need to follow is another one of those plain white squares, so to follow the fifth and sixth instructions, you knit two stitches.

And that’s it for row 1 of the chart! This means that the instructions for the whole of row 1 over the entire headband (not just the chart) are:

Knit 3 stitches, purl 2 stitches, knit 2 stitches, work a right-leaning cable, work a left-leaning cable, knit 2 stitches, purl 2 stitches, and knit 3 stitches.

Now let’s look at the second row of the chart:

visual of a chart row

Notice that the row number is on the left, so we know this means you have to read the row starting from the LEFT. Therefore, here’s the order of instructions you’re supposed to follow:

order to work in a chart row

  1. So the first instruction you need to follow is one of those plain white squares. The legend for that plain white square tells you:


    snippet from chart legend


    You’re currently working on a wrong side row, so you will purl one stitch.


  2. The second instruction you need to follow is another one of those plain white squares. So you will purl a second stitch.


  3. The third instruction you need to follow is another one of those plain white squares. So you will purl a third stitch.


    And at this point, it should be pretty darn obvious that you need to purl all the chart stitches for this row, so do that. :)

And that’s it for row 2 of the chart! This means that the instructions for the whole of row 2 over the entire headband (not just the chart) are:

Purl 3 stitches, knit 2 stitches, purl 12 stitches, knit 2 stitches, and purl 3 stitches.

In fact, if you take a look at the chart, the instructions are the same for ALL even numbered rows, which means that the above (italicized) instructions for row 2 of the entire headband also apply to rows 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, and 16. So it’s really just the right-side (odd-numbered) rows which get a little tricky.

Let’s move on to another one of those right-side (odd-numbered) tricky rows, then!

Next up is the third row of the chart:

visual of chart row

Again, the row number is on the right, so we know this means you have to read the row starting from the right. Accordingly, here’s the order of the instructions you’re supposed to follow:

order to work in a chart row

  1. So the first instruction you need to follow is this:


    snippet from chart legend


    It’s an instruction that will have you working a total of four stitches.


  2. The second instruction you need to follow is one of those plain white squares. The legend for that plain white square tells you:


    snippet from chart legend


    You’re currently working on a right side row, so you will knit one stitch.


  3. The third, fourth and fifth instructions are also plain white squares, so you will knit three more stitches.


  4. The sixth instruction you need to follow is this:


    snippet from chart legend


    This instruction also has you working a total of four stitches, but NOTICE that in this case, you’re holding the cable needle at the front of the work while you knit the first two stitches, not the back like you did in the previous cable cross.

And that’s it for row 3 of the chart! This means that the instructions for the whole of row 1 over the entire headband (not just the chart) are:

Knit 3 stitches, purl 2 stitches, work a right-leaning cable, knit 4 stitches, work a left-leaning cable, purl 2 stitches, and knit 3 stitches.

Continuing on by yourself

I think from here you can see how you are supposed to move your way up the headband.

Be sure to pay very careful attention to the chart, because on chart row 9, you will start doing the LEFT-leaning cable first and the RIGHT-leaning cable second. (Whereas on chart rows 1, 3, 5 and 7, it was the right-leaning cable that came first.) Be sure to pay very careful attention again when you come back around to chart row 1, because you will switch again (i.e. it will no longer be the left-leaning cable being worked first but the right-leaning cable).

Once you’re finished the chart part of the headband, the pattern goes on to say how you’re supposed to finish it off

Hope this helps!

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