Yukon ho!

It’s the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and although my office is closed, daycare is not…at least not until 1pm. I dropped off baby L and am enjoying some coffee-and-computer-in-pajamas time. Using the laptop anywhere near baby is impossible right now as it leads to shrieking, grabbing, pressing of all the keys, and tantrums. So I’m really basking in the luxury here.

I finished up edits on the pattern, which I’m calling Yukon ho! in honor of my favorite cartoon strip, Calvin & Hobbes.

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Baby L loves the outdoors, but after a year in Mexico we’re coming up on her first real winter. Most of the baby mittens I’ve seen in stores are cute but sorta flimsy, so I designed a pair that were truly adventure-worthy. The extra long cuff ensures they stay put. Every time I take them off after a long stroller ride, her hands are super toasty.

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From now until the end of Thanksgiving weekend, Yukon ho! is 50% in the ravelry shop. It comes in three sizes – newborn, baby, and toddler – and is a great way to use up partial skeins you’ve stashed.

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Learning to knit without the garter-stitch scarf

Four years ago I made my first design contribution to ravelry – a free hat pattern called Kami. Almost 600 of them have been knit!

Someone commented that she used the pattern to teach a friend to knit:Screen shot 2015-10-17 at 9.18.33 AM

Hats aren’t often used to teach people to knit, but I think they should be. That’s because a hat is – most importantly – not a scarf. Ugh. It is unclear to me how garter-stitch scarves earned their spot as the ubiquitous learn-to-knit project. In my experience, here’s what’s wrong with them:

1. They completely ignoring purling, inevitably leading to another generation of knitters who claim that “knitting is way easier than purling.” It is, if knitting is all a beginner practices for an entire scarf.

2. They are usually knit on straight needles. I prefer teaching on circular needles, which are easier to hold and maneuver. The weight of the piece is evenly distributed on the needle, which puts less of a strain on the wrists.

3. They take forever. I warn beginners that knitting has a pretty long improvement curve. That means that you have to suffer through it feeling awkward and slow for quite a while. I know people who have been “working on their first scarf” for multiple years, or who just never finish. It’s too much work for too long without having a finished object to show for it.

i plan to half knit quite a bit this winter

4. They announce, “I knit this.” Which is alright, but most people get into knitting to make things that look handmade, not homemade.

5. They don’t require a pattern or a gauge swatch. This seems like a plus, since it takes some of the fussiness out of the process. But if someone’s goal is to eventually move out of scarf-land (i.e. sweaters, mittens, hats), they’ll need to learn gauge and pattern-reading eventually, and I’ve found that beginners are okay with both as long as it’s not complicated. Plus, knitting a gauge swatch is the perfect practice run before launching into the project.

Wow. I just hated on garter-stitch scarves a LOT. I owe them something of a thank-you, to be fair, since that’s exactly what my first project was. But I also clearly remember the first FO that I was proud of, and it was not a scarf. It was a pair of fingerless mitts that used short rows, which I spent days attempting and ripping out. In the end my pride was misplaced, since I hadn’t realized that 100% cotton would lack the sort of stretch you’d want in fingerless mitts.

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Am I the only one with a strong hatred for garter-stitch scarves? What pattern did you learn to knit with? What pattern(s) do you use to teach others?

Here are a few patterns that I’ve used when teaching:

Wurm Hat (photo (c) verabee)

Drop-Stitch Cowl – © Abi Gregorio

Calorimetry ear-warmer – © Kathryn Schoendorf

Amecameca infinity scarf pattern

This pattern has been in the works for a while. I sketched out a few motifs after visiting a Latin American textiles exhibit two winters ago, then I played with the lines until there was a nice little tightrope dance between the positive and negative spaces.

At first I tried making a big squishy worsted-weight cowl, which was meh. After a few other stop/starts, I tried laceweight knit up in a slightly looser gauge than what’s typical for stranded work. Ahhh…a delicate and beautiful sheet of patterned fluff started to emerge from the needles. I had a winner.
Amecameca infinity scarf

Now I’ll be honest – this is no kami hat. It doesn’t knit up in one evening of binge television. But my thinking is that after all the holiday knitting you’ve done for others it might be nice to stretch out with a longer, more luxurious pattern. Especially one that practically makes you buy some new yarn, because if you’re going to do a long stranded project there’s no sense in using anything but the prettiest. Right?
Amecameca infinity scarf

The pattern is all set up in the shop, and from now through Christmas Day I’m offering it at 50% off. It includes charts for the main motif as well as its photo negative – depending on your particular yarn colors you can choose which will look best.

Amecameca infinity scarf pattern

Amecameca infinity scarf

Lining a knit blanket with fleece

We’re seeing less of the horrendous Laura-Ashley-esque flowered cushions on our two rental couches. One has been wearing the mini-quilt and the second is now draped with this big squishy knit blanket. Both irrefutable improvements to the look of the living room.
Big knit blanketI started with Purl Soho’s pattern for Fluffy Brioche Baby Blanket and a bag of closeout Yearling by Juniper Moon Farms. The pattern was easy and mindless, a welcome respite after the cables upon cables in Stonecutter.

Big knit blanketI added a 7-stitch icord border with some stashed thick/thin cotton, which  helped hold the blanket’s shape and provided nice contrast.

Then I blocked the blanket and was surprised at how much it grew. And draped. And became something not nearly as thick and squishy, which was the original appeal of the project. So I decided to attach a fleece backing. If there’s one thing you can find oodles of at Mexican fabric stores it’s fleece, so I had my pick of about 99 different colors and patterns. Bears? Roses? Apples? Bears holding roses and eating apples? Good or bad, I ended up with just a nice deep blue.

TECHknitting provides (no surprise) a great post on how to attach fleece to knits, complete with illustrations of the right type of hand-stitch to use. The only change I made was to fold the fleece under 1/2″, since I mistakenly chose a type that, while soft as a baby bunny, was prone to fraying along the cut edge (don’t make the same mistake…one of the biggest benefits to lining a blanket with fleece is that you shouldn’t have to treat the edges like you do with woven fabric).

Big knit blanketI sewed the fleece not to the blanket, but to the i-cord (see below). Once the thread was pulled snug, the lining tucked right against the i-cord edge. It looks very nice and the fleece layer definitely replaces whatever “big and squishy” properties were lost in blocking.

Big knit blanket
Big knit blanket

Stonecutters Cardigan

Stonecutters cardigan

LOVE this cardigan. I can’t button it over my big belly, but I think it will fit my non-pregnant self quite well. My parents visited Mexico a couple of weeks ago and my mom modeled for these photos before trying to steal the cardigan. While home in Ohio my Grandma tried to steal it too…so its appeal is at least universal with the women in my family.
Stonecutters cardigan
Stonecutters cardiganI bought two big hanks of undyed 100% merino yarn at Reinbeck years ago because it was soft and extremely affordable ($13.50 for 1322 yards). It sat undyed for a long while until skeinnydipping turned it into a gorgeous green/gray/blue.
Stonecutters cardigan
Here’s the link to its ravelry page
and below are some notes on construction:

Needle, Gauge, and Sizing: The yarn was thinner than that suggested by the pattern, so I used sz. 6 & 4 needles instead of 7 & 5. After checking gauge and doing the math, it looked like I should knit a Large to get something more like a finished Small. However, I noticed that most of the FOs in the photos were on the fitted side. Some users commented on how their FO turned out smaller than expected, and I wanted more of a menswear fit, so I ended up knitting the XL.

Shaping: My (nonpregnant) hips and waist sizes are about the same, so I omitted the waist shaping entirely.

Pockets: I thought the pocket size was a little tiny, especially with my smaller needle size. I wanted something functional, not just decorative, so mine are 28 sts wide (not 19) and 24 rows tall.

Collar: The pattern calls for attaching the front button bands and then knitting the collar. This creates a visible seam if your collar is lying open. I chose to knit the button bands with a provisional cast-on, attach them to the front, and then integrate their cast-on stitches into the picked-up collar stitches. You can see in the photos that this results in an invisible seam…definitely worth the effort I think.

Sleeves: Before knitting your sleeves, run the numbers and compare against your own measurements. Several other knitters have said their sleeves were too snug, and when I did the calculations I could see that they would’ve been too small for me too (I’d say my arms are normal size). For my reworked sleeves:
CO 48 sts
increased 2 sts every 12 rows until 56 total sts
increased 2 sts every 6 rows until 72 total sts
increased 2 sts every 12 rows until 78 total sts
BO 13 each side
decrease each side of every RS row until 33 sts
decrease every row until 13 total sts
BO remaining
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Teddywidder

Teddywidder - knitting pattern

The Teddywidder pattern is for sale now in ravelry!

I learned so much from the test-knitters. They did a phenomenal job. The pattern includes written instructions and a schematic and all measurements are given in both cm and in.

My next pattern is drying over the air vent. More on that soon…

Kami Hat: the first foxflat knitting pattern

Yup – my first contribution to ravelry! It was halfway for my own good, as every time I want to make this hat I have to refigure the numbers, casting on and frogging several times before getting it right. Rather than scribble the instructions in shorthand on the back of a receipt (only to stare at them confusedly in three years), I transcribed them properly so that anyone could make my FAVORITE HAT. A hyperbolic use of ALLCAPS? Nope. This hat is stellar because it’s:

– a one-skein wonder.
– a quick knit.
– a versatile gift…unisex, reversible, adjustable slouch.
– designed to hold in warmth without smushing your hair.
– a great 2nd project when teaching someone how to knit. Most folks start with something flat and rectangular but the key is to not get stuck there. This hat builds confidence without freaking out novice knitters.

Yak yarn by Lang Yarns

This summer Tami asked me to knit one of these for her birthday and she picked a deep eggplant skein of Yak by Lang Yarns. It knit up beautifully and is so soft against the skin. I chose “Kami” for the hat’s name because it’s the Japanese word for hair, something this hat is very kind to. Now I realize Kami could also be the celebrity couple nickname for Katie+Tami…fitting since I wrote the pattern and Tami found its perfect yarn pairing.

A hat is a relatively small publishing contribution to ravelry. A baby step. But one I’m excited to make!

KAMI HAT

Gauge
 16 stitches and 24 rows, after blocking = 4 inch over st st

Materials
1 skein (142 yards or 130 meters) Yak by Lang Yarns, or 140 yds. of another Aran weight yarn
US sz. 8 (5.0mm) – 16” circular and dpns, or size to obtain gauge

Measurements
Finished hat measures 20” in circumference, but has several inches of “give”. My own head is 23″ around and this hat is loose-ish.

The pattern pdf is available here: Kami Hat: printable pattern and here’s the link to its ravelry page.