Category Archives: Knitting

A Quick F.O.

I finished the Tiers scarf in Shibui Twig a couple of weeks ago. I made ii right under the wire in time for the Shibui Knits KAL deadline. I didn’t win the random drawing, though. ūüė¶¬†¬† I enjoyed this quick and sophisticated knit. I made this in the Graphite color.

If there’s one thing I learned from knitting Tiers, it’s that I need to invest in a set of blocking wires.¬† Based on other knitters’ reports on Ravelry, some curling at the edges is unavoidable. The knitters who blocked the hell out of their scarf and used wires had much smoother edges. Sigh. So I placed another order with Jimmy Beans Wool. Any excuse, right?

I’m tempted to make another one in a lighter color, such as Apple. But there are other things already on my needles and in my queue. I’ll add another Tiers in there somewhere…


What’s On The Needles?

…I hear you ask. ¬†Lots of stuff, I reply. Plus two¬†projects that just came off the needles, finally. Today’s post is a hodge podge of projects in various stages of completion. I’m working with a lot of yarn lines that I’ve never tried before, and I’m having a great time using these new-to-me yarns. There are lots of photos ahead. Join me, won’t you?


Cable-Brim Hat.


I recently came across Malabrigo Rios worsted weight in my local shop, and I fell in love instantly. This is my first time using Rios, and it’s wonderful to work with. ¬†it’s lovely to handle, soft to the touch, and beautiful to look at. This hat is in the color Teal Feathers.


Each colorway is a subtle gradation of one shade, from light to dark and every shade in between. I’m doing a made-up pattern, just a cable brim and stockinette top. ¬†I knit the cable band with a 4-stitch front and back cable. ¬†I seamed it up, turned it on its side and picked up enough stitches to fit around my head. I will knit it a little longer than usual before decreasing near the top for a little bit of slouch.


I wanted to give this hat a name, so I decided to call it the Seafarer Slouch, because the cable reminds me of nautical braids that sailors make with rope. I think the electric blue will pop against my red hair.

Now that spring is here, my winter hat is almost finished. I bought 2 more skeins of Teal Feathers so I can make a matching pair of gloves. I might put them on hold once the weather gets hotter. I think I can safely say that we’ll have no more snow in New England for several months.

Firefly Socks

This pattern is by Jennifer Hagan, and comes from Clara Parke’s The Knitter’s Book of Socks.¬†I was happily zooming along on the first Firefly sock, when we had an unseasonably warm day last week. ¬†As I knit with fingering weight yarn, the yarn was sticking to the wooden needles I was using. I put it down when I started to feel warm. I’ll pick it up again after a quick break to knit with a linen and silk blend, though, because this sock is incredibly fun to knit. I’m eager to wear the finished pair.


I chose Knit Picks’ Palette yarn in Turmeric. I don’t gravitate towards yellow much, but I like the rich, warm mustard shade. Who else thinks this color could also be named Taco Shell?! In my opinion, these socks are best knit in a solid color, so the alternating cable pattern can stand out.


When it comes to understated yet elegant, Shibui’s beautifully organic designs are a pleasure to look at and to knit. I seem to gravitate towards their scarves and cowls rather than garments. During a trip to my local shop, I picked up some of Shibui’s newest yarn, Twig, which was recently introduced as part of the Spring 15 line. ¬†The Spring 15 collection¬†include Tiers, a drapey drop-stitch scarf. Shibui is hosting a spring KAL for Tiers until May 22nd. The pattern is free with purchase of the yarn during the KAL, no matter where you buy it. ¬†I bought my yarn locally and received my free pattern. Time’s almost out on this KAL, but there is a Shibui Knit-Along Ravelry group where knitters can join in Shibui’s seasonal knit-alongs. Participants are entered in a drawing for a complete Shibui project; the more photos you post in the forum, the greater your chances of winning.


Tiers can be knit in two different¬†lengths and in two different yarns, Twig or Cima. ¬†It takes two balls of Twig for the shorter length, which is over five feet long. ¬†I purchased two balls of Twig in the graphite color. This photo doesn’t do it justice; in real life it’s a deeper blue/gray color. Twig is a cool linen/recycled silk/wool blend. It’s a little coarse and a little stiff, and it’s slippery as hell on my wooden needles. I switched to metal but the yarn was still slippery. I have to knit a little more carefully than usual, but this project is simple and fast, and it’s working up beautifully. The fabric is light and airy. I love the color I chose, but once i saw the projects in the Ravelry group, I regretted using grey yarn, just a little bit. ¬†I’m tempted to make a second one in a brighter spring color. But I need to finish this one first!


Chevron Knit Throw

The pattern for this throw is available for free on Red Heart’s website. The instructions for Row 2 say to knit all stitches, but the throw is knit flat, so that should read purl instead of knit. I used Rowan Pure Wool 4-ply in four colors: Bottle (dark green), Oats (beige), Light Denim (light blue) and Soft Cream (off-white).


I wanted the colors to represent the seashore: the water, the sand, the sky and the clouds. The Pure Wool was a joy to work with, and after I blocked the throw, the yarn became even softer. I used Soak knit wash for the first time, and it really made a difference. The Fig scent is lovely, and my blanket smelled delicious. Until the wet wool smell took over. Blocking flattened my cast-on edge, which rolled a little bit.

I started the Chevron in October, put it down for a few months, and picked it up again with just a few inches to knit–200 stitches at a time–in April. I enjoyed making this so much, I’m going to knit another one as a Christmas gift for my brother. I have certain colors in mind, so I’ll take my time searching for the right yarn.

and finally…

Ying Yang Gauntlets

This is a Plymouth Yarn pattern that uses 2 colors of their Merino DK weight yarn. The shop didn’t have any colors I wanted in stock, so I bought 2 balls of Cascade Venezia Sport. One ball of Deep Sea and one ball of White Heaven.

Ying Yang Gauntlets are supposed to coordinate rather than match. Color A for the main color and color B for the wrists on one gauntlet, with the colors reversed on the second. I wanted them to match, though. The yarn I bought came in 100-gram balls, so I had enough yarn to do both mitts in the same style.

Once again, a winter project dominated once the weather turned warmer. And once again, New England weather decided to screw with all of us. I got in some outdoor knitting on a warm spring day…


…and wore them a week later on a blustery, fall-like day in late April.


The weather made fingerless mitts–and a mocha chai–absolutely essential that day.

But it was a beautiful day nonetheless.


Complete Guide To Modern Knitting And Crocheting

Whenever I visit Gloucester for the day, I spend a lot of time browsing among the shops on Main Street. ¬†Gloucester is well-known¬†for being an active fishing port, but there’s a vibrant art scene there and all throughout¬†Cape Ann. Main Street is an eclectic blend of seafood and Italian restaurants, art galleries, gift shops and antique stores, all just steps away from the working waterfront. Occasionally I come across a gem of a vintage knitting book in the antique store and used bookstore here, and last Saturday, I scored a real gem, indeed.¬†I assume there must have been a dust jacket at one point, but they don’t always survive. ūüė¶


Let me (re?)introduce you to the Complete Guide To Modern Knitting And Crocheting by Alice Carroll. Published in 1949, this book is a wealth of information aimed at beginner knitters and crocheters. The Guide is sensibly structured to ease new stitchers into the art of each craft, propelling them gently¬†from there into a variety of patterns and projects. ¬†¬†An introduction to tools and basic stitches starts the book off, followed by stitch patterns for knit and crochet projects. The projects then are grouped into children’s, women’s, men’s and home decor sections. ¬†In the spirit of make do and mend, there’s a section on how to reuse wool that’s already been knitted.

From there, garment structure and more technical work become the focus. There are chapters on the essentials of knitting a garment, then on assembling a garment. More advanced techniques such as fair isle, lace patterns, even knitting with ribbon, follow.


Ah, early printing methods: when charts were hand-drawn, and everything was in black and white.

Mrs. Carroll then guides the needlewoman through socks and stockings, mittens and gloves, and finishes up with a comprehensive section on designing your own garments.

This book is impressive¬†in its scope of information.¬†¬†The variety of garments is interesting, especially seeing the everyday items people made with wool–including swimsuits–before synthetic fabric was available. Some of the ladies one-piece dresses are breathtaking and diaphanous, while the baby and toddler clothes are endearing.


This pattern is for a “one-piece dress for the older woman.” The woman modeling it doesn’t look a day over thirty to me, but we won’t start any trouble over that. ūüėČ

The book is a fascinating glimpse into a bygone era. Many of the patterns are items that were essentials in their day no longer have a place in modern society. Ellbow-length evening gloves were once de rigeur¬†when in an evening gown, while “soakers”–knit panties for babies–have been made obsolete by modern absorbent disposable diapers. ¬†I won’t be knitting a snood to tuck my hair into, or an “automobile robe,” which is a lap blanket for traveling, any time soon, ¬†but there are two patterns that I wouldn’t mind, in all seriousness, giving a go.

The first is this Winter Hood, also called a Skating Hood. I think the Skating Hood should make a comeback, don’t you? ¬†I think if I were to knit this¬†in a neutral color, either white, black, or grey, I could pull it off with a simple black winter coat. The adorable peak on top is a cheeky retro touch, no?


The¬†second pattern is this gorgeous “Striped Slipover.” How stylish is that? Look at that fabulous woman wearing it. She’s fierce and she knows it. I suspect she might even be wearing slacks!!¬†(dungarees, even!)


Look at how great that top looks, even in black and white. Color theory recommends reducing the colors you want to use to black and white to look at the shade values anyway, so this is a great example of that.

I think this might be wearable today¬†without looking costumey…

…which brings me to the actual knitting of vintage patterns. There are a lot of problematic areas in this book when it comes to reinterpreting for the modern knitter. Clothes were sized differently back in the 1940s. Most of the ladies patterns state a size 16. That’s it, 16. There are no multiple sizes given. So do your own math. I don’t know what the modern equivalent is. The women in the pictures are more full-figured than the waifs that became popular in the 1960s through today, but I don’t think this 16 is today’s 16. So I will have to do my own math and measurement conversion. Which I hate. It’s going to be a fair amount¬†of research, trial and error and swatching, but hopefully it won’t be impossible. If I have to, my ultimate backup plan is to pay for private knitting lessons at my LYS to have someone more experienced in designing help me write up a pattern with the modern measurements.

The needle sizes and yarn requirements in this book are very different than today’s standards. The needle guide depicts (steel only) needles sized fro 20 (the thinnest) to 10 (the thickest). So great, more research will be involved. Yarn requirements are in ounces, not yards. I suppose I could do an ounce to gram conversion, since grams are listed on modern yarn labels. Yarn weights are very different as well. The Guide lists worsted and fingering, but after that, things get a little weird. There’s Saxony, which is finer than fingering, used for baby garments. After fingering, there’s Germantown which, if I were to hazard a guess, might be¬†DK Weight. Then there’s boucle, and angora, which need no interpretation. Finally, there’s Jiffy, which is “thick and bulky” so it’s safe to assume it means…bulky.


We need to bring back illustrations like this, too!

By far the weirdest piece of vintage knitting instruction comes in the section that talks about gauge. If you don’t get the correct gauge with the needle you’re using…eliminate the appropriate number of stitches in your row until you get the required gauge. Great, more math, which essentially means¬†you’re altering the written pattern. I’m so glad I live in the modern world where knitting instructors teach us to simply go up or down a needle size. I wonder when someone figured that out.

Glaring historical differences aside, this is a terrific book that’s full of practical advice and as much in-depth instruction as an¬†author can fit into one book. It can certainly be as helpful today as it was in 1949. Alice Carroll’s tone is in itself a lost art; she sounds like a ladies’ finishing school instructor who drinks tea with her pinky extended. She extols the virtues of living in an era in which knitting has surpassed mere function and warmth to take its place among fashion for fashion’s sake.

And on that note, check out this guy! He invented the male model pose!


Yarn Crawl Finished Objects

Back in March, I did the North Shore Yarn Crawl and came home with some yarn to make some small-scale projects. Unlike most years, I didn’t overdo it on the spending and I actually knit most of what I bought instead of letting it sit around the house. ¬†I bought two different yarns for two different¬†cowls, and yarn for one pair of socks. Out of the yarn I purchased, I only have one hank of yarn/1 unknitted project remaining. But I kind of cheated. I liked the yarn I used for the first¬†cowl so much I purchased another ball in a different color and made the same cowl all over again. I think the hank I didn’t use yet became angry with me, because when I went to untie it in order to unwind it, it became knotted up before I could put it on the swift. Now I have a tangled purple mess on my hands whose existence¬†I currently refuse to acknowledge. Two can play at that game.

The first cowl I completed was the Tangier¬†cowl, knit with Cascade’s Tangier yarn. ¬†I ¬†bought one ball of Tangier in Forest Glade in Gloucester, MA during the crawl.


I still call this yarn “green” even though, once knitted up, the gold totally dominates all the other colors.


This is a simple yet satisfying one-ball project using a mock cable, no cable needle required.

I meant to work on another cowl after this one, but after the yarn tangled, and because I enjoyed this quick knit so much, I bought another ball of Tangier in Denim Blues in Salem, MA a few days after the crawl.


I love the pale blues/almost greys and how the bright turquoise pops for a nice burst of color.



I knit both of these the week after the crawl. Once I was done, I moved on to the Mad Color Fiber Arts sock yarn I bought in Gloucester. The color is called Poison Apple.


I do love a good sock project.


About five weeks after the Yarn Crawl I received a phone call from Seed Stitch Fine Yarn in Salem. I won a door prize! It’s a pattern from Toil and Trouble for a lovely pair of fingerless mitts. This is the second year (in a row, no less) that I won a small door prize; last year I won a skein of orange Malabrigo. Hopefully my lucky streak will continue next year, so, you know, fingers crossed.

Now onto spinning for a while, even though my dog is waiting for his sweater and I’m still knitting one for me… *eyeroll*


North of Boston Red Sox–I Mean Socks.

I was reading through this¬†blog earlier today, going way back to the first post here on WordPress, and I’ve come to a sobering realization: I buy an awful lot of yarn and spinning fiber. I also lose¬†securely store an awful lot of yarn and spinning fiber. It’s so secure even i can’t find it, to the point where much of what I’ve bought over the past couple of years has still not been used. I reviewed¬†my posts about past yarn crawls and fiber festivals and saw photos of yarn¬†I totally forgot I own. ¬†I mentioned a lot of projects I planned to make but never did. ¬†Clearly a serious spring cleaning–and a call to A&E’s Hoarders–may be in order.

So the fact that I’m making good on my yarn crawl purchases of two weeks ago makes me happy, since I’ve completed two projects and I’m working on a third. Maybe I’m not such a lazy, lazy knitter after all. I’d like to take credit for being industrious, but the fact is, I’ve done so much knitting because I was home sick this week. ¬†There seems to be a new springtime tradition in my house: the Annual Spring Upper Respiratory Infection. This year’s was particularly hideous. Thankfully, I’ve improved greatly over the past couple of days, I won’t hit you with the details other than to say I’ll never take breathing for granted again. Much of my knitting was done late at night because I couldn’t sleep, and that became stressful. ¬†Forget about “I knit so I don’t kill people,” My slogan this week was, “I knit so I won’t go bat crap crazy!”

I finished the Tangier Cowl I was working on from¬†my previous post. Color #10, by the way, is called Forest Glade. I bought one ball of Cascade 220 Tangier during the crawl, but stopped in Seed Stitch Fine Yarn¬†a couple of days later waiting for Indian takeout to be ready and saw the yarn in a color called Denim Blues that I didn’t see at Coveted Yarn. I bought it to make yet another Tangier Cowl, so now I have two. The cowl was such an easy and fun pattern to knit, I cast on for the second one as soon as I cast off the first one. Knitting an easy pattern¬†took my mind off of how miserable I felt, so I plugged away at it while watching episodes of The Worst Cooks In America that I DVR’d (Go Jamie!). I need to press and block the cowls. ¬†They’ll be the stars of¬†my next post.

Once the blue cowl was off the needles, I pulled out the sock yarn I bought from Heather, the owner/dyer of Mad Color Fiber Arts. She’s always at Coveted Yarn during the Crawl, and she always brings a ton of wonderful goodies¬†with her.



This is¬†her Doolally fingering weight yarn in the Poison Apple colorway. It was originally a club exclusive¬†but she brought it back as a general color. It’s bright and dark red, with some black and grays running ¬†through it, you know, just to add¬†a touch of Evil Queen. I think Poison Apple is the perfect name for this color! The tiny tote bag is from a company called Rock Flower Paper.I love their bags and I have several of their totes and zip pouches. They’re handy and they use heavy cotton fabric that comes in many beautiful prints. ¬†I bought this bag¬†on the day of the crawl but not at a yarn shop; I found it at a stationary/toy shop in Rockport called The Paper Mermaid. It’s the perfect size for a sock project. If you’re a Bag Ho like me in the North Shore/Boston area you should make your way over to this shop. She carries a wonderful selection of purses, totes and bags of all sizes that make great project bags.



Here’s a closer look at the colors in there. The green in the yarn looks greener in the photo than in person. It looked browny-grey to me, kind of like when an apple is bruised or goes bad. Way to commit to the whole bad apple theme! I’m knitting plain stockinette socks with my all-time favorite basic sock pattern from The Yankee Knitter. A bold color such as this might cry out for a more daring sock pattern, but I enjoy the comfort and warmth of a simply knit sock, and I didn’t want to think too much this week, so I’ll let the color do all the talking. I’m sure these socks will stand out against¬†whatever I’m wearing them with.



I’m well on my way with sock #1. Since I have a doctor’s note excusing me from work until Monday, tomorrow will be another exciting¬†day of knitting and breathing.



Yay for breathing.

Fiber Revival 2013


Stitched By Jessalu bags on one side, Mad Color spinning fiber on the other.

Part One: The Purchases.

What more do you need to hear? There was a fiber festival, there was shopping. We all love reading about others’ expeditions and what they came back with, so here’s my annual Fiber Revival post. ¬†This yearly event takes place on the serene Spencer-Pierce-Little farm in Newbury, MA, in the beautiful Merrimack Valley. It’s a comparatively small event sponsored by the Newburyport Spinners. ¬†Every year vendors and fiber enthusiasts spread out over the farm’s grounds with their wares and their chairs; it’s a BYOC (Bring your Own Chair) event! People fan out in groups under the trees with their projects, enjoying the scenery and the company while waiting for the Ipswich Ale truck to roll in. ¬†I love being exposed to so many knitting and spinning products, wandering around the farm, peeking in on the people who brought their spinning wheels and seeing what’s on the bobbins. Oh yeah, and the farm animals–I love visiting the farm animals. I started going in 2009, and so far the weather cooperated with us–each year the day of the festival has been sunny and beautiful.

I got an early start because I desperately wanted to stalk shop at two tents in particular: Stitched By Jessalu and The Woolen Rabbit. I love Jessalu’s fun and funky project bags, and I was on the hunt for one in particular. ¬†As for the Woolen Rabbit, I’ve purchased spinning fiber from her, but I’ve never bought any of her hand-dyed yarn. I wanted to buy some of her yarn and one of the cute hat patterns featured on her blog, to cast on later that night.

My project-bag problem has been well documented on this blog, and I’m afraid it’s not disappearing any time soon. ¬†I discovered Jessalu’s bags a couple of years ago at Spunky Eclectic’s tent, and I’ve noticed them popping up around me ever since. In particular I noticed a couple of people at the North Shore Yarn Crawl last March carrying around small box bags with the Tardis from Doctor Who on it, and man, did I ever want one. They never seemed to be in stock whenever I went on to her website, so on Saturday I planned on arriving at the festival when it opened at 9:00 AM. in hopes of scoring a Tardis bag. My early start paid off.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATraffic was light (well, it’s pretty light anyway once you hit the country) and I got there a little earlier than expected. People were already inside the gate when I arrived at 8:55 AM. The vendors had set up so I walked over to Jessalu’s stall.¬†Success! There was one bag with the Tardis fabric that I wanted. The little Dalek notions bag was a delightful find and the perfect compliment. ¬†There were a lot of bags with cartoon renditions of popular sci-fi characters such as Doctor Who and Star Trek, (OS and NextGen). There may have been some superheroes or Avengers fabric, and believe it or not, BBC’s Sherlock has its own fabric pattern. ¬†You gotta love a woman who has a healthy respect for all the fandoms.¬†I was happy that I found what I wanted, but were two bags enough for me? No. Because then I saw this:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m a sucker for kawaii sushi. I don’t know why. I hate seafood, cooked or raw. But there’s something about cute food with little happy faces on it that melts my heart every time. I should take a photo of the interior fabric because it’s even more adorable–smiling shrimps! This bag is quite a bit bigger than the small box bag and can fit a mid-sized project like a hat or scarf or small shawlette, perhaps.

I was Jessalu’s first customer of the day. You won’t hear me admit this again, but I may have come off as a bit of a stalk-y weirdo.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn to The Woolen Rabbit. This is her Kashmir yarn in the colorway Clara Bow. Clara Bow was a 1920s movie star, for you youngsters out there. ūüôā I bought one hank of this and the pattern for Amy Herzog’s Fellowes Cloche, an adorable ’20s style hat. This is the color shown in the patterns photos, and I think the deep red is deliciously perfect for a hat that’s both ladylike and a little jaunty at the same time. The other colors of Kashmir were beautiful, but I couldn’t picture the hat in grey or OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAdark green, so red it shall be. Who doesn’t want to be a lady in red sometimes?¬†I also bought two braids of merino and tussah silk spinning fiber. I adore a wool and silk blend. I’m the type of spinner who buys fiber because it’s pretty without knowing what to make with it or how much yardage I’ll end up with once it’s spun. I love the delicate variegated shades of pink, mauve and chocolate. I’m not even going to think about what this will be once it’s plied, I’ll let the yarn tell me when it’s ready.

I took a workshop on Russian spindle spinning from Linda Scharf of Stone Leaf Moon. It was a wonderful and eye-opening introduction to the world of supported spindles. More of that in Part Two. For now, please enjoy some more photos.