Recently in Finished Projects 2010 Category

Super Cupcake Cowl

Pattern: ChicKnits Super Cupcake Cowl
Yarn: The Fiber Company, Terra

I've been wandering through my favorite retail stores looking for winter gear and come across so many cowls.  Even though I've been sorely tempted, the knitter in me refuses to let my material girl just pull one off the rack and take it home, especially since the ones that I have liked best have been simple ribbed rings and I have no end of yarn that would be perfect companions for a cowl scarf.

After a bit of looking, I decided it was hard to go wrong with Bonne Marie's Super Cupcake pattern. I liked that the brioche stitch created a ribbed look but was a bit more interesting and a bit more slouchy than simple K1P1 ribbing.  I combined her pattern with the left over Terra yarn that I had from John's Aspinwall sweater (sadly, still waiting for me to find some maroon thread to sew the zipper in with) to create my first cowl of the season.  It's super simple to knit and super soft and super slouchy and I couldn't be happier with the result. 

20101219_SuperCupcakeCowlUp.jpgI decided to skip the gauge swatch for this project, which probably was a no no, because I believe the cowl is supposed to be a bit more fitted.  However, I like that in cold weather this cowl can be pulled up over my head to keep my ears warm.  Terra is a silk/wool blend, making it soft and warm and not too heavy (I love silk for winter garments -- it's an excellent insulator that doesn't have the weight of wool).  And there's nothing like stash diving and using oddments of yarn to create something  fun and unique to ward off the winter chill.

This was such a quick knit that I'm considering another cowl project.  There's plenty of winter ahead and a Chicago girl can never have too many winter neck warmers!

Stained Glass Scarf

Project: Stained Glass Scarf from Handknit Holidays
Yarn: Artyarns Ultramerino

I started this project sometime before I got pregnant with Z.  Probably not too long after the book came out in 2005.  At the time, I had to source some of the yarn with the help of a Canadian blog friend.  John liked the scarf exactly. as. pictured -- so I mounted a search for exactly those yarns.  It is not easy to get my engineer to admit to liking something handknit.

Five years later, he finally has a scarf.  While I love the texture, pattern and design of this scarf, double knitting on small needles is a time consuming process.  I got very little done on it until 2007 when I had Z and would work on the scarf while she was nursing.  It kept me sane through some long nursing sessions.  Then the project came out here and there when we traveled in the car.  Finally, it landed on my list of projects that MUST BE FINISHED THIS YEAR!  And while John played Half Life 2 and Fallout 3 I worked and worked and worked on this scarf. 

20101212_StainedGlassScarf.jpgI think he looks quite dashing in it and with all that thick squooshy double knit fabric, I know it will be both soft and warm.  He is vaguely skeptical of the red in the scarf (he calls it pink, I call it "light red"), but it goes well with the brown and the green, and since one side is more brown, he's willing to live with it.

This pattern is easy to follow and execute, but it's definitely not something you're going to knit in a weekend -- unless you can knit with both hands and can knit with one and purl with the other.  It's also a little pricey since it takes two skeins of each yarn color.  That said, the result is wonderful and the scarf would be a special gift for any special person on your list.


Pattern: Skew (Knitty, Winter 2009)
Yarn: A Zauberball... Not sure of colorway
Needles: AddiTurbo, 2.25 mm

Every now and again I get the bug to try out a new sock construction.  That bug gets stronger when I see a lot of folks trying it out and vouching for it's interestingness.  And so it was with these socks.  This pattern has a huge following (over 1800 pairs of socks in Ravely!) of enthusiastic knitters.

This pattern is well written and clearly there is no way not to be impressed with the effort and engineering that went into designing them.  I never, in a million years, would have come up with these socks on my own. The angle of the stockinette does neat things for many many yarns.   I really really wanted to like these socks. But you know what? Even when I finished this pair of socks, all I was left with was a "meh". 


First off, bad yarn choice for the pattern.  This pattern clearly does better with yarns that feature regular narrower stripes of color, at least to my eye.  The wide stripes don't show off the angled stockinette very well, and really do nothing to demonstrate the cool thing you did at the heel.  So after all the complicated sock knitting gymnastics, you can't really even look at this pair and really see it in a way that stands out.

Secondly... well, it's all about me and why/how I knit socks.  I used to knit them for the challenge, I used to be in search of my perfect sock construction.  The perfect heel, the perfect toe, the perfect direction for knitting, the perfect cast on, the perfect cast off -- the perfect elements that made knitting socks a smooth, streamlined relaxed experience for me.  The right combination of process I enjoyed and fast production.  And I've found those things... my ideal sock is a toe up sock that uses a magic cast on, features a short row heel, and is bound off using a lovely stretchy bind-off published by Grumperina.  I know it so well I can incorporate patterns without thinking, can knit in the dark or while watching a movie, know exactly what needles, what size, etc.  There's no Kitchenering, and when I'm done with the sock, I weave in two ends and try it on.

Which is a long winded way of saying that while these socks were interesting, I had to pay too much attention to them.  I had to carry the instructions around with me, I had to go back at the end to seal up a hole (which is an expected thing).  They weren't something I could enjoy on autopilot.  I think it took me so long to get the second one done because I just didn't want to have to focus that much on a sock. 

This pattern does get a big thumbs up for cool construction described in a very accessible way.   But if you tackle it, be sure to browse through Ravelry and make sure that the yarn you picked for it gives you a look that you really like.

Making Progress: Finished Francie Socks

Pattern: Francie from Bowerbird Knits
Yarn: Dream in Color Smooshy, Some Summer Sky

I won't dwell too long on how long this pair of socks has been lingering with the first sock completed and the second sock awaiting arrival.  I finished the first one in October, 2008.  Cast on for the second right away.  I think I got thrown off track when a number of my 100% merino socks started to show wear so quickly after their first outings and I got discouraged about finishing this pair because it didn't seem like they would last long enough to be worth the effort.  I still have reservations, but I'll be making an effort to be gentle with this pair.

20101129_FranciePatternDeta.jpgMy tardiness might also have had to do with the fact that the socks were both top down and flap heel -- both of which feel a bit alien to me and so take extra effort to push through.  The finished product is lovely, though.  The pattern is meant to evoke tree bark and organic lines, and the Dream in Color Smooshy was the kind of yarn you just don't want to stop knitting with.

20101129_FrancieSole.jpgThe Francie pattern also features very unique instep shaping.  The socks are very dramatic looking from the bottom and make you want to take them out walking on a sandy beach just so that you can see what kind of imprint they would leave. 

The fit on the socks is nice and snug -- just what you would expect from a sock that is fundamentally K2P2 rib.  If you were looking for an interesting gift sock and had somewhat indeterminate measurements, these socks would fill the bill (a note: they are a little homely when not worn because of the ribbing pulling in).  The pattern is well written and provides both written instructions and charts that are easy to follow.  The author suggests that it is for the adventurous, but I'd suggest it really just requires careful reading and following of instructions.

Another mark ticked off my knitting to do/get finished list!  Always a bonus when it means new warms socks in my drawer as the weather gets colder.

High Line Highlighted

I had every intention of finishing High Line on Molokai and taking some victory pictures on the beach on Molokai, like I did for Lotus last year.  After all, a great sweater deserves a great photo location.  And High Line is a lovely sweater.  But I forgot one key element: the single button that holds the sweater closed in the front.  And it didn't seem right to take the completion pictures without and actually completed sweater, especially since the button closure in the front is a fairly important element when it comes to bringing the look together.

So this weekend I dug through my small button stash, discovered I had the perfect button and put it where it belonged.   Et voila!  Completed High Line.

Project: High Line Cardigan, size Medium
Source: Tahki Yarns Urban Organics Leaflet
Yarn: Tahki Yarns Good Earth Cotton in "Adobe"
Needles: US 10.5

You can guess from the size of the needles that this cotton tape yarn knits up with a bulky profile.  The fabric is soft, elastic and squishy and luxurious without feeling overly heavy.  I used almost one more ball than suggested.  My stitch gauge was on target, but my row gauge was a bit compressed compared to the suggested.  

This piece is simple to knit, but requires care on the finishing to get a nice final result. Since the pieces are all worked in K1P1 ribbing, I cast on for each piece using a tubular cast on.  To create a smooth edge for the sleeve edges that make up the neck line, I also used a tubular cast off.  Both took longer, but created beautiful finished edges.  Since the neckline is such an important feature of the sweater, I'm happy I took the extra time to make it come out smoothly.

I also spent extra time on the seaming (I used the cotton tape yarn to mattress stitch everything together) to make it work out well, in particular that little seam in the back.  When the stitches are so big, it's easier to pick out flubs with the seaming.  Fortunately, it's easy to be relaxed when you're seaming when you're listening to the waves lap on the beach and relaxing in the island breezes (if only I hadn't gotten so focused that I forgot to move when it started to get too sunny... I wouldn't have those funny racer back tan lines).

The only thing in the instructions that I decided against was rolling up the sleeves.  When I tried the sweater on, rolling it up put too much bulk in a strange place, and i liked the 3/4 length.  

This sweater is simple and I love it. I'm sure it's going to be one of my go-to garments for the fall. The more experienced knitter I become, the more I find that there's a lot to be said for simple lines, colors and stitch patterns.   I've also become a good deal better at understanding what shapes flatter my proportions.   This sweater looks like a cropped sweater on the model.  On me, it's the perfect length since I'm so short waisted.   The neckline is dramatic and pulls your eyes up. While there's no real shaping, per se, the natural behavior of K1P1 ribbing helps it draw in where it needs to, but the open front keeps it from stretching and pooching over tummy area.  And it got two thumbs up from the husband, who I always can trust to be honest with me about my knitwear.

I'm looking forward to wearing it over tank tops with jeans, but it also looks pretty good over a turtleneck -- so it will also likely get a little bit of early winter wear as well.  

I've also been thinking about whether it would be possible to create a miniature one using smaller yarn and smaller proportions.  A certain little blond person saw me wearing it...

That sweater looks great mama, can you make one for me?  

I have some strawberry pink CottonEase that's been waiting for a project, so we wouldn't be all mother-daughter matchy-matchy -- and she's due for a new sweater.  Maybe I'll swatch and see if I can come up with something for Ms. Z

Little Socks and Big Blankets

Today there will be pictures.  First, the little socks that Z has been asking to wear all week:

Every time I knit these days, Ms. Z asks me if what I am knitting is for her.  She also grabs random bits of string, hair or anything she can find that remotely looks like yarn and tells me that she's knitting socks for me.  I picked up several balls of Patton's Kroy sock yarn and decided that with the cold weather coming, it was time to make her a few new pairs of socks.  

These socks are delightfully fraternal.  In a totally unplanned bit of good luck, they are very much the same, except the positions of the lime green and bright orange stripes are switched. 

Today she came home from shopping with her dad, noticed me wearing a pair of handknit socks, told me she needed to wear socks like mine (I thought she wanted me to make socks with the same yarn) and then ran upstairs and came down wearing these socks -- she'd put them on all by herself.  That might not seem like much, but she's just beginning to be able to put her own clothes on, so I was impressed!   

There are more little socks on the way.  Little socks may be the theme of my knitting when we head for Hawaii.

I also finished the weaving on my big purple blanket(s).

The fabric is approximately 40" wide by about 12' long.  After I got the loom warped, the weaving really flashed by on the AVL dobby loom I was working on.  The production crafter in me loves that kind of loom..  After bringing it home and looking at it, I'm pretty impressed with myself for making such a huge piece of cloth.  After I get the ends woven in, I'll put it in the wash and divide it in half to make the two throws I envision.  The pooling that occurred from using the variegated yarn is pretty neat.  I'll try to get good photos of it after it's been through the laundry.  In the meantime, a close up of the lace detail:

The same huck lace pattern as Z's color gamp blanket.  I love how in this project the texture is much more subtle but definitely still there.  It gives the blanket extra depth without screaming about it.  I think it also plays nice with the variegation.  It's visible, but subtle.

The next big challenge: deciding what crafting will come with me to Hawaii.  Next time you hear from me, I will be enjoying the ocean breezes of the Hawaiian Island of Molokai.

Nicole Buttoned Up


Yarn: Rowan PureLife Organic Cotton DK in Quebracho and Cuba

Nicole, she is finished.  We will not speak of how long she has been complete, with the exception of the purchase and attachment of buttons.  And the losing of 5 lbs.  

I love the design, but after finishing it, it was clear that if the closure was not done well, I would not achieve the lacy, classy top layer look that I was shooting for.  Especially since I probably should have been a little more thoughtful about measuring my bust line, instead of assuming old measurements would work.

I think it was that concern that found me putting off the purchase of buttons.    Now that the buttons are in place and I've been able to try it on, I'm pleased with the result.  It makes all the time I've spent on my elliptical this summer also feel worth it.    

Taking a look at the garment from all angles helped me come to appreciate Bonne Marie's shaping skills.  The sides lay well and there isn't that extra flare at the hip that sometimes appears in knitwear that's been nipped in at the waist.

I know many have opted to lengthen this vest before the waistline, but for short-waisted me, I think that would have put too much knit fabric flare over the hips.  

I made very few modifications to Bonne Marie's original design.  I did center the outer lace motifs over the shoulder straps, which involved juggling the locations of the decreases just a bit. I also opted for 8 1/2" inch buttons instead of 7 3/8" buttons, but that's about it.  I found the pattern to be easy to follow, and thought it would be a nice introduction to simple lace motifs.  I'm looking forward to being able to wear Nicole for both more casual and more dressed up events, depending on what garments are worn underneath her, and I think she'll work well for at least three seasons of the year.

The Rowan PureLife Organic Cotton was a lovely yarn to knit with.  The stitch definition is beautiful after blocking and, contrary to what you might expect from cotton, it didn't put any strain on my hands, nor was it overly splitty.  

I'm pleased with this project and happy to be adding another neutral garment to my collection.  The only real question now is what ChicKnits project will I tackle for my next layering piece.  Both Aleita and the Mondo Cable would make great wardrobe additions, I think! 

Fiber Optic Photo Essay, Day 5

Happy squooshy relaxed yarn.  Clearly I'm being drawn to particular color themes lately.

Fiber Optic Yarns, Foot Notes Unspun Pencil Roving
80% Superwash Merino, 20% Nylon
Colorway: Honeysuckle Rose

Amount spun: 4 of 4 ounces
Amount plied: 4 of 4 ounces
Total Yards: 420
2 Ply Fingering Weight
Yarn Still Seeking Destiny

A brief review: this pencil roving was great to spin.  Easy on my hands and almost no nepps or anything else that slowed me down. I couldn't really tell that the nylon was there  This roving was unique in that the pencil roving was already split in 2 lengthwise, making it very easy to separate, though, clearly, I did not spin evenly enough to get exact matching and discrete color regions. 

The colorway, spun up, makes me think of faded deep pink roses, the end of life browning seeping through the petals.  Very vintage-y.  Very warm. 

Color Gamp Blanket Makes a Friend

20100510_ColorGamp.jpgProof of weaving!  This blanket is roughly 3' wide by 3.5' long.  The warp and weft are 3/2 perle cotton and the warp sett was 14 end per inch (epi).  The pattern is a huck lace pattern that came directly from the pattern suggestions that were sent along with the gamp kit.  I find it fascinating how color works in different media.  This blanket is meant to demonstrate color blending across a rainbow of colors.  Each color was used once in the warp and once in the weft.

20100510_ColorGampLaceBlock.jpg Not my favorite color combinations (I guess I'm outing myself as not being either a fan of the Green Bay Packers or John Deere Tractor), but the weave definition is clear.  Each lace block was separated by a nice region of solid plain weave. 

But the best part of this blanket was giving it to it's recipient.

20100510_ColorGampLaceZ1.jpgShe is now old enough to both appreciate a special blanket made for her (my second ny ny*, momma!) and to want to take pictures with it. 

20100510_ColorGampLaceZ2.jpgRight now it's pretty much perfect snuggle size for a not-quite-3 year old girl -- and it was a required bed fellow tonight (along with about 400 other things that absolutely positively must be in her crib for her to consider sleeping).

This project was so simple it pretty much makes me want to warp up that loom again and make bigger (longer) versions for some special adults I know -- but most likely I will select one warp and one weft color just to make my life easier.  Now, if only I could figure out which colors I really like together!

* ny ny is Polish for "blankie"

Blooming 9 Patch Quilted

Well, if my neighbors were harboring any small hope that the lady next door might be normal, those hopes were sorely dashed as I searched for ways to take picture of my finished Blooming 9 Patch.  Do you know how hard it is to find a place to photograph a queen-sized  (almost king sized) quilt in good light when you don't have a wide house or a big back yard?

20100502_Blooming9Back.jpgFirst, the easy photo.  I chose a dark blue batik (it looks a little "overexposed" in this picture) for the back and a modern geometric design for the quilting pattern.  The quilting was done with a red thread, and it looks pretty sharp.  The binding was a colorful batik print that picked up colors in both the backing and the dark border prints.  Instead of a standard cotton batting, I opted for a superwash wool batting, since the destination room for this quilt can get a little chilly. 

20100502_Blooming9KingBed.jpgHere is my first attempt at a picture -- on my own bed.  I made this quilt with the queen-sized bed in my guest bedroom in mind, but it almost covers my king-sized bed (it need about 6" on either edge t make it workable).  I was hoping to be able to get a good picture to give some scale, but I just couldn't get far enough away.  

20100502_Blooming9FrontYard.jpgThe next photo attempt was in my front yard.  I think I was actually standing on top of a wall to take this photo (doing the sort of thing that I would tell my kid she couldn't do).  The overcast day made it a good day for taking pictures to help show what the colors look like in natural light.  But I still wasn't able to get a good top down perspective.  Made me think I needed to have a picnic -- on the most over the top picnic blanket I could ever imagine.

20100502_Blooming9Deck.jpgThis final photo was taken from the balcony above my deck, standing on a chair so I could get just enough height to get (almost) the whole quilt in frame (the bottom horizontal edge is a bit clipped).   Unfortunately, I didn't include anything that would help create a sense of scale, but at least the color flow is clear.  I'm rather pleased with the color flow, though I do wish I'd gotten a bit more of that dark batik on the edge and had a more solid dark border to finish it off.   

I'm going to call this one a happy success.  I think it will be a great addition to my guest room -- if I let it live down there.  Part of me wants to find a way to have it in a place where it would be more prominently displayed. 

After the kiddo saw the pictures, she asked me if she could sleep with it.  So I guess that means I better get a move on and get some more effort in on the twin-sized quilt I have planned for her for when she graduates to a "big girl" bed.

Gift Socks

Pattern: Basic Toe Up Socks a la Me
Yarn: Trekking XXL, Colorway 110
Needles: 2.25 mm DP

A basic pair of socks.  Even though my basic sock pattern is the same every time, doesn't involve complicated construction or stitchwork, doesn't involve anything fancy at all, completing, it doesn't make the act of completing a project feel any less satisfying.  In fact, I love that I can knit my basic pattern almost on autopilot with only the occasional need to grab a tape measure. 

I am a bit of a selfish sock knitter.  Most of the socks I knit are for me.  These socks are not only not for me, they're also not for a family member.  I just got the sudden urge to knit these guys for someone I know and value who has never really had the benefit of a pair of wool socks before, let alone hand knit wool socks (never fear, she is the kind of person who values hand work).  They were mostly knit while watching John play Mass Effect or just watching TV (they got a little work in DC, too).  I didn't really have a time line for them.  I just knit on them when I felt like it.  And with all the other things I was working on, I felt like knitting something simple a lot.

On Thursday they will head off to their new home, with hopefully just enough chill left to the spring that their owner to be will get a chance to enjoy them.

Fingerless Farinelli

This project knit up so quickly I didn't even have time to post a progress shot.

20100228_FarinelliFingerles.jpgThese are the fingerless version of the Farinelli gloves by Ysolda Teague, published in the Twist Collective.  I loved them when I saw them, but wasn't sure I'd get much use out of over the elbow opera gloves.  Ysolda then published the modifications for a shortened, fingerless version on her blog -- and that was all the remaining convincing that I needed to purchase the pattern. 

I have been wanting a pair of fingerless gauntlets for a long time.  Sitting in my home office in the winter can get quite chilly, and my mouse hand, in particular, starts to ice up.  I bought the Dream in Color "Smooshy" in the color you see above (I just can't remember the name, and the ball band is long gone) for the specific purpose of knitting myself some fingerless goodness, and, then, true to my usual pattern, took two years getting around to finding the right design and getting them knit up.  I wash about to design something myself when I found Ysolda's pattern and realized that it had all the elements that I wanted.

20100228_FarinelliModeled.jpgAs with other patterns of Ysolda's that I've worked, I was impressed with the easy to follow instructions.  I love that the pattern is mirrored on each glove.  Besides the modifications she suggested for shortening them and making them fingerless, I made only a few small changes to suit my own needs.  I chose a 2.5 mm needle instead of a 2.75 mm needle (I have pretty narrow forearms and wrists and didn't want the gauntlets to be too loose) and added a couple extra rounds around the knuckles.  They were a little stiff pre-blocking, but after a soak, they softened up and have a very lovely drape without being too loose.  Smooshy seems to come with pretty generous yardage, because I used right around half a skein for this pair of gauntlets.

These gloves are a little present to myself.  They celebrate an earlier in the month birthday as well as a career transition not to mention finding my crafty mojo again.  And they are pretty much the first knitted hand gear that I have ever made for myself.  They came together so fast that I might have to treat myself to another pair, though perhaps the second pair will have a flip top -- one of the things that any northern climate iPhone user needs in the winter is a nice pair of gloves that supports the occasional exposed fingertip!

And Then There Were Walnut Socks

The gambling paid off.  There are now socks:

20100223_WalnutSocks.jpgThe Specs:
Garter Rib Socks,
Man's US Size 11
Knit on US size 1 Needles
Sophie's Toes Cashmere Blend in "Walnut"

I had vanishingly little yarn left over, which actually makes me pretty happy because I always feel like I've done a good job when I maximize yarn usage in a sock project.  John has found them to be quite satisfactory... since he's worn them three days in a row.  I'll take that as an endorsement.  And the wear on them doesn't look to bad, either, which makes me feel good about this yarn and definitely increases the likelihood that there will be more of this yarn (Sophie's Toes Cashmere Blend) in his future.

I like this pattern stitch so much, I'm almost tempted to turn the Sophie's Toes that I got for myself into the same thing. 

But the best thing about these socks?  The model:

20100223_WalnutSockModel.jpgThis is what I got when I said "hold Daddy's socks while I take your picture".  Not the best picture of the socks but a pretty good picture of the kid.  She's now beginning to understand what I want when I give her knitwear and ask her to hold it while I take a picture.  And she was very excited afterward when it was time to give Daddy the socks.

P.S.  Thank you to everyone who commented on my quilt top.  Y'all made my day and just added to the warm fuzzy happy feeling I have from getting that completed.  Fear not that this will be the last showing of the quilt on the blog.  When the quilting is done and the weather is better and better pictures are possible, all will be provided.  


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