New Favorites: Groovy crochet tunic

New Favorites: Groovy crochet tunic

I’m still thinking about my new year’s resolution to crochet something, and about the Kelbourne girls’ #crochetsummer14 campaign. It occurred to me I could use this Purl Bee potholder pattern to crochet that Shelter 7 blanket (rug?) I want. Which would probably take me a few summers. But then I came across this Marie Wallin tunic called Gozo that I want even more — in heather grey, of course. I’d seam the sides together, leaving just a long slit at the bottoms, to make it a little less poncho-ish. I don’t think I have anywhere near the crochet skills required to work it, but that’s how we learn, right? I might be crazy enough to try it.

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Hot Tip: Remember right- vs left-leaning stitches

Hot Tip: Remember right- vs left-leaning stitches

If you’ve been knitting for very long at all, you’ll have encountered multiple kinds of increase and decrease stitches. You may also have come to realize that each one has a lean to it. (For instance, your first hat may have used k2togs for all of the decreases, which creates a sort of swirling crown, since the k2togs all lean in one direction.) Perhaps you’ve even come to understand that for every right-leaning increase or decrease, there’s a corresponding left-leaning version. To prevent fabric that leans one direction or the other, increases and decreases are often deployed in mirrored pairs, such as a k2tog (right-leaning decrease) paired with an SSK (left-leaning decrease). Or m1L increases paired with m1R increases. The trouble many knitters have is remembering which stitches lean which direction. So here’s an invaluable tip I picked up from Barry Klein once upon a time:

A stitch will always lean in the direction the working needle is pointing when you work that stitch. Stop and repeat that to yourself a couple of times, and point with your index finger like it’s your needle. When you insert your working needle into the front of your stitch(es) — as with a k2tog or m1R — you insert it from left to right. The needle points to the right and the resulting stitch will lean to the right. Conversely, when you knit through the back of your stitch(es) — as with SSK or m1L — you insert the working needle from right to left. The needle points left, and the resulting stitch will lean left.

Once you have that lightbulb moment, reading charts becomes much simpler. For instance, the “\” symbol leans left (“my needle will be pointing left, so I’m working into the back of the stitches, which I do when I SSK!”) and the “/” symbol leans right (“my needle will be pointing right, so I’m working into the front of the stitches, which means a k2tog!”). With the m1′s, you do have to think a tiny bit harder: “If I want it to lean left, m1L, that means I’m knitting into the back, so I will have picked it up from the front.” And vice versa. But you’ll have it memorized in no time flat.

Hot Tip: Remember right- vs left-leaning stitches

Knit the Look: Vasilisa Pavlova’s waffle sweater

Knit the Look: Vasilisa Pavlova's waffle sweater

Knit the Look is hard in the summer, but we’re all ready to dream about “transitional looks” right about now, am I right? I love the simplicity of this outfit on Vasilisa Pavlova: a beautifully proportioned waffle-stitch sweater in ivory paired with a black mini. (For me, that would be shorts.) Tahki Stacy Charles has a free pattern that’s a good starting point here, the Biella Pullover. To make it look like Vasilisa’s, knit a size with 6 or 8 inches of positive ease. For the body, start with 6 or 7 inches of ribbing, then skip the waist shaping and knit another 7 or 8 inches in the waffle pattern (depending on how long you want the body of your sweater to be — the slightly short length is key here). Same thing for the sleeves — knit a nice long ribbed cuff before starting in on the waffle work. Wear with everything you own.

For the rest of the outfit, see Vanessa’s original post.

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Street style photo © Vanessa Jackman; used with permission

 

Fancy ladies in Estonia

Fancy ladies in Estonia

In the category of Instagram feeds I wish I could beam myself into, the most recent additions are those of @fancyjaime and @fancyamber, the co-owners of Denver’s Fancy Tiger Crafts. If you already follow them, you know they’re perpetually off on some yarn-related adventure or another, but this most recent one takes the cake. They popped into Iceland for a minute on their way to Estonia, where they attended the sort of craft camp where you learn to carve bone tools as well as knit intricately patterned mittens. The photos have been totally amazing, but they’ll be pushed down-feed by their next adventure soon, so go look right now: @fancyjaime and @fancyamber. And/or read all about it next Monday on their blog.

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Best. Swatch. Ever.

Best. Swatch. Ever.

You all know I’ve had Channel on the brain (and the approved knitting list!) since trying it on back in March, but my fever escalated around the time of Squam. I was packing for that trip, knowing it would be cool nights and mornings, and was shocked to have nothing suitable: no sweatshirt and only super wooly sweaters that I could not bring myself to put into a suitcase in June. What I wanted and needed was my Channel cardigan — the one I’m planning to knit in this fantastic O-Wool Balance, which is an organic, washable, cotton-wool blend that knits up into a light, airy, not-too-warm fabric. I.e., the perfect all-seasons cardigan. I have two more trips this summer that all but require this sweater, except of course the sweater does not yet exist. But behold my swatch! The best swatch of all time.

I wanted to practice the charted stitch pattern, and particularly the English Rib portion, which is a little conflictingly described in the pattern. The chart includes the two ribbed sections and the chevrons in between, and I added five stitches of moss stitch on each end, since that’s what happens in the sweater. However, gauge for the sweater is actually given over moss stitch, not the charted stitches, so after knitting a few repeats of the chart, I switched to moss for a couple of inches, which gave me the necessary four vertical inches of moss to measure my gauge. The swatch has since been machine washed (it came out practically dry! damn, I love this yarn) and measured, and I appear to be spot on pattern gauge. And the fabric couldn’t be better for what I’m wanting. I had a blast knitting this, so I’m as eager as can be to cast on.

Of those two upcoming trips I really want this sweater for, one of them is next week. And though it’s not an opportunity to wear it, I hope to do a meaningful amount of knitting on it. I’m traveling with my entire family (in celebration of my parents’ 50th anniversary) to a retreat place somewhere in the mountains of NC, where I’m told reception is spotty, at best. I’ve got blog posts queued up for you, but:

IMPORTANT SHOP NOTE: I’ll be packing orders this weekend and will drop them at the PO Monday morning on our way out of town. The rest of the orders from Sunday through Friday will ship during a special session on Saturday the 26th. So if you’ve got something you know you need next week, get your order in today!

New Favorites: Summertastic wash cloths

New Favorites: Summertastic wash cloths

Do you know I have never knitted a wash cloth? It’s such a classic thing to knit by the dozens — and such a common starter project — but I don’t really use wash cloths, so it’s never really interested me. But suddenly it’s on my mind. In part because of this great new Purl Bee pattern, Washcloths and scrubbing mitt, and in part because I’m having a “coming full circle” moment over here. Bob and I are currently staying with our dear friends in Nashville, the dynamic brother-sister duo of Meg and DG. Meg (of KnitKnotes fame*) is the one who taught me to knit when we were visiting them in 2011. When I went to see her at Haus of Yarn before flying home, I bought a booklet of wash cloth patterns, thinking that would be a good learning tool, but then there was that whole wash cloth disinterest thing, so I never did it. Now here we are again and Meg just recently taught DG to knit. And what is he knitting in front of me each night? Not just wash cloths, no. He started out knitting these 50 states wash cloths (he’s cuckoo for map stuff) and promptly decided to knit them into a blanket. Maybe it’s that, maybe it’s watching my friend Leigh knit so many Grandmother’s Favorites over the last couple of years; maybe it’s the inherent logic of knitting small, quick, cotton things in the summer heat. Whatever the reason, wash cloths (and their upsized friends, the dish towels) are feeling super appealing to me right now, so I consulted my favorite patterns and it turns out they’re all from my friends over at the Purl Bee — i.e., all of them free:

TOP LEFT: Soft Cotton Knit Dishtowels — mmmm, garter stripes

TOP RIGHT: Washcloths and Scrubbing Mitt — fantastic use of that crazy Habu yarn

BOTTOM LEFT: Slip Stitch Dishtowels — you know I’m intrigued by that slip-stitch colorwork action (see also)

BOTTOM RIGHT: New Log Cabin Washcloths — I’ve also never knitted a mitered square (quelle horreur!)

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*DG did the design work on the KnitKnotes, by the way. Told you they’re a dynamic duo.

Togue Stripes

Togue Stripes

Verdict on this tank sweater: BIG LOVE. So quick (actual combined knitting time), so simple, so useful here in the land of 90-something-degree days. Dress it up, dress it down. And it’s forever entwined in my memory with Squam — this yarn and the green needles and porch floor and weathered decking were just the most soothing and pleasing visual combination. I love love loved it.

Togue Stripes

As you know, I wanted a cross between Pam Allen’s two recent tank sweater patterns. I wanted the weight and gauge of Togue Pond with the look of Saco Stripes — specifically the A-line shape, plain lower edge, stripes (obviously) and wider “straps.” So here’s what I did:

— Knitted it in the Kestrel yarn (in Pebble and Senza) using the Togue Pond pattern (second size).

— Omitted the waist ribbing and short-row shaping — I simply did one purl round after the cast-on and then worked straight in stockinette.

— Cast on with US10 needles and worked the first couple of inches, then switched to US9′s, then to US8′s after the top stripe. When I do it again, I’ll just start on US9′s; it’s already getting to be a little more flouncy at the waist than I’d like.

— Anticipating that it would grow with blocking and over time, I knitted it shorter than I wanted it. Unfortunately, I didn’t write it down, but I think it was 13 or 13.5 inches before dividing for front and back. After blocking and a couple of wears, it’s now 15 inches (not including the ribbing).

— I worked the first stripe 3 inches (I think) from the cast-on edge. The Senza stripes are 2 rows each, with 6 rows of Pebble in between.

— I staggered my waist decreases a little differently (just keeping them in the grey), and did fewer of them. When it came time to divide for front and back and work the armhole shaping, I had eight more stitches than the pattern called for, which gave me two extra stitches in each “strap.”

— I did the 3-needle bind-off for the shoulders with wrong sides together, so the seam is exposed. I also have a bad habit of forgetting to bind-off when doing a 3-needle bind-off — I just do all the k2tog’s and wind up with a row of live stitches. So then I go back and pass the stitches over each other to bind them off. Which actually makes a nice substantial looking exposed seam.

— I had seen comments on Ravelry that people were picking up fewer stitches for the neck/arms than the pattern called for. I picked up 96 for the neck and the same number as the pattern for the armholes.

— To counteract the growth tendency, I deliberately did my bind-offs a little on the tight side.

— I did not do jogless stripes, and I did not carry the Senza yarn up the sides either, because I knew it would show through, given the loose-ish gauge and high contrast. So when weaving in each of those Senza ends, I did one duplicate stitch from the right side of the fabric to even out the jog, and I’m happy with how it turned out.

Our first evening in Nashville, we were over at our friend Jo’s for BLTs. I wove in the last of the ends on her deck and she threw it in her washing machine while we ate, then laid it out to air dry. I’m already in love with the fabric and know it will just get softer over time, so definitely put me down as a linen convert.

Togue Stripes