mod bkgd

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

yarn along + ashton shawlette

yarn along with Ginny today, from my front porch:

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry and Granny's Favourite cardigan are underway, and both receive two thumbs up. As the NPR review mentions, A. J. Fikry is a love letter to reading and the power of books, and I'm enjoying it immensely. Tugs at your heartstrings. A widower runs a bookshop on a remote island, and he's struggling with the death of his wife and his own curmudgeonly ways. When something special is left in his store, his life changes completely. A little cliched, but I recommend it.

The little cardigan is fun to knit, and the pattern is written for a huge range of sizes, which is spectacular. I rummaged around in the yarn bins and found some deep stash to use -- Brooklyn Handspun Instant Gratification. Lovely stuff!
A dreadful cold struck our household just in time for the long holiday weekend (ugh). While it wasn't the relaxing weekend I envisioned, we managed to do a lot despite feeling cruddy. We started Saturday off right with a trip to the Evanston farmers market (rhubarb! Bennison Bakery's rhubarb cream cheese danish!). I tried two new recipes, both from Smitten Kitchen: ramp pizza turned out awesome, and rhubarb snacking cake is delicious (snacking cake? how's that for a concept? I love it!).
I didn't sew any buttons onto the baby sweaters I'd already knit, but I did block a shawlette that had been languishing.

pattern: ashton shawlette, by dee o'keefe (free!)
yarn: orange flower twist | sock, santa fe, less than 1 (600-yd) skein
needles: u.s. 5 (3.75 mm) bamboo circs

I enjoyed knitting this, but I'm not sold on the tight twist of the yarn. It doesn't help that while the colors are beautiful, they're not very "me." It didn't use very much of this mega-skein of yarn (600 yds), which is a shame!

Nice free pattern. I'd recommend blocking the edging a little more severely than I did to get pretty points.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

yarn along

Finally participating in Ginny's Yarn Along:
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes can be rather gruesome and overly descriptive at times, but it's interesting and thought-provoking nonetheless. I find myself skimming over certain parts when my stomach starts to give out. Good choice not to enter the mortuary sciences on my part, I suppose. I'm copying Ginny by knitting an Antarktis. Nice pattern -- repetitive, but the texture is lovely, and the end result is a shawlette that is lacy, but not frilly. Quite wearable. I adore the yarn, Malabrigo Finito. Deliciously squishable, and the colors (Jupiter) are gorgeous.
What I should be doing is sewing buttons on four wee baby cardigans, but I never seem to find the gumption. Perhaps over the long weekend? The patterns are Lottie, Yoked Cardigan, one of my own design, and Seamless Yoked Baby Sweater. More on these to come, I promise.

Monday, May 11, 2015

five hours?!?

Those "five hour" baby sweater patterns are really something -- five hours for Elizabeth Zimmermann maybe, but not for me. Knitting the sweater took less than a week, but getting up the gumption to do the finishing work took a couple of months! This cardigan is destined for Paul's cousin's sweet new baby boy.

pattern: baby boy 5 hour sweater, by gail bable
yarn: rowan ryc cashsoft aran, ~ 2 balls
needles: us 9 (5.0) mm

The pattern doesn’t include buttonholes in the instructions! I added a buttonhole at the beginning of row 4 (K2, YO, k2tog, then follow pattern as written), and repeated every 10 rows.

RYC Cashsoft just doesn’t do it for me. It’s similar to Cashmerino, but not nearly as nice. It has kind of a mushy feel or something? Oh well, the new mom's not a knitter, so I wanted something machine washable.

The precious embroidered, cloth-covered sheep buttons had been hoarded in my stash for years -- I'm happy to use them at last. I'm trying to get over the idea of saving the "good" things for later.

Monday, April 27, 2015

strikes and gutters

The morning after I last posted we woke up to a light dusting of snow. The winter that never ends! The sun is shining again, my spring flowers survived the frost, and 70-degree temperatures are in the forecast, so things are looking up. Catching up with my knitting...

pattern: northern loop, by tante ehm
yarn: bernat roving, gardenia, 3 skeins
needles: clover US 10.5 (6.5 mm) bamboo straights

A few bad choices from the get-go on this one. The yarn is deep stash -- it's super bulky, almost too warm to be worn doubled, plus I didn't really have enough yarn to make it long enough to double comfortably. I should have used larger needles, as the resulting fabric is pretty stiff and doesn't have much drape. I did my 3-needle bind-off on the wrong side, to boot. Ugh! Well, you win some, you lose some. At least it didn't take long to knit, and the colors are pretty -- reminiscent of jelly beans.
handknits in action:
 Here's Erik keeping busy at the park in his little coffee bean cardigan.
When I knit this (way back before he was born), I thought that the proportions seemed a little off, though I hadn't swatched for it, so it may be entirely my fault!
I knit the 3 month size, and here he is still wearing it at 18 months. It's pretty wide on him, and it’s sort of a crop-top look, with sleeves on the short side, too. On the plus side, the yarn (Lion Brand Cotton Ease) is holding up very nicely, and I love the color combination (lake + almond).

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

springtime in the Upper Midwest

Spring's arrival has been hard-fought in the Upper Midwest this year. Brrr... Today's another hustery, blustery, chilly day, but at least the tulips and hyacinths' much-anticipated blooms make it look like spring around here.

I knit something spring-y during the doldrums of March and April, and the cheery color makes me think of baby chicks and daffodils and other lovely things:

pattern: in threes, by kelly herdrich
yarn: three irish girls springvale dk, creamsicle
needles: clover us 5 (3.75 mm) bamboo circs
size: 0-6 months

Quick, easy pattern! I'll definitely revisit it. I cast on for the smallest size, but made it even smaller by using DK yarn and size 5 needles. Jennie the Potter made the whimsical bicycle buttons, which I found at the Wisconsin Sheep & Wool Festival last fall. Happy to find a good use for them!
I've seen that some parts of the country are reveling in rhubarb already, and I'm envious! Yesterday I tried Leslie Land's easy fruit and jam crostata recipe. Pretty much amazing. Even better than my usual jam tart recipe. Leslie gives all kinds of suggestions for fruit and jam pairings -- the perfect way to clean out your freezer (I used rhubarb, blackberries, and strawberries, with raspberry jam). 
Other signs of spring in our backyard:

Monday, March 09, 2015


I'm months late in posting this, but Erik's gnome Christmas stocking is one of my favorite knitting projects to date. I started it on a whim one night so that I'd have something to knit while watching Guardians of the Galaxy (so funny and cute), and ended up totally addicted to the colorwork and wee gnomes.
yarn: Patons Classic Wool Worsted
needles: US 7 (4.5 mm) 16" circs and PNS


I tweaked the Drops sock pattern to make a Christmas stocking. Love the little gnomes! I used worsted weight yarn and loosely followed the directions for the largest size. CO 60, 2x2 ribbing, didn’t decrease after the ribbing.

The heel and toe are from Bernat's Jolly Stockings pattern. I think they look more Christmas stocking-y than the regular ol' heel and toe from the Drops pattern.

This was a joy to knit, and I was so happy to hang this by the chimney with care! Now to knit two more with different colorwork designs for Paul and me by the time Christmas 2015 rolls around. Paul has requested candy canes and I'm inclined toward a sheep stocking.

Friday, February 06, 2015

a snowy day

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 lots of snow (19" in one day!), not much knitting

Guess who's enjoying the snow the most?

At least Erik's sheep hat is getting a workout!