Shoes & Swatches

I have always loved shoes.  My shoe collection is probably not massive by anyone’s standards, but it is carefully chosen – there are few pairs that I don’t care for.  In the winter I tend to wear high heeled boots most of the time – they are warm, and that way I can wear heels in the winter without freezing.  But when I do buy another pair, I find that a new variable has entered into my considerations – “How will they look with handknit socks?”

Luckily, they look very nice.

I bought these at the same time as a new pair of boots (it was a buy one, get 1/2 off sale.)  I wanted a pair of flat soled boots, for those times when heels aren’t what I want.  I confess, although I love these I am totally at a loss for how to wear them.

They are a little too big in the calf for me, but so are all boots… I have something like the world’s skinniest legs, and the world does not make them small enough for me.  I always have to buy them too big and deal.  They aren’t as big as they look here though… they are unzipped.  Do I wear them over pants?  Because I tried that, and I thought I looked strange, but that may just be holdover from the last time I work pants tucked into boots in the 80s.    I got these because I don’t care for the clunkier riding boot styles of flat boot, and I liked the retro 60s aesthetic.  I have worn them, so they aren’t returnable… any advice on how to make them work?

I have been swatching a little, to no one’s surprise.  For my fellow soft tweed lovers I thought I would share a new find.

It isn’t labeled a tweed, but it has different colored flecks, making it tweedy in my book, if not a traditional tweed.  This is Beaverslide worsted, a blend of merino and mohair.  The mohair makes the yarn soft, but is not apparent in the skein.  The yarn is somewhat minimally processed – it contains lanolin still, but it does not smell sheepy to me (this is a big deal to me; I hate strong sheep smells.)

The yarn has a sturdy, dense feel, but it is not in the least scratchy or hard to knit with.  I would call this a softer version of Peace Fleece (I can’t knit with peace fleece, but this was lovely on my hands.)  It is easier to knit with than Kathmandu Aran, and if you like that yarn I think you would love this.  It knit to 4.5 st/in on US 7s before washing, and blocked to 4.25 st/in.  There is a tiny bit of vegetable matter, but not nearly as much as could be found in, for example, noro.  I’m planning to use this for Vivian by Ysolda from the twist collective.  I was worried that it was too thin, but having knit with it I can see where it will be nice and dense for cables (it looks nice in cabled garments on Ravelry.)  It was a bargain I thought as well.  I’d recomend checking out their website, they have many lovely colors.  I’ve also heard good things about the McTaggart tweed, though I have not tried it.

I also swatched my nature wool for Wisteria.  I got 5.5 st/in on US 6 needles – so seriously not a worsted weight yarn.  I love the slight variegation.  I’m hoping this will be my next sweater after Vaila.

I am nearly finished with the first lace repeat on vaila.  I can’t say that the sweater is super fast – the lace pattern is on every row.  I made one error already, but I’m hoping it isn’t noticeable.  I should also mention that I did not do the special cast on.  Since I’m changing the shaping it didn’t seem important, and to be honest I almost never do special cast ons (don’t even get me started on tubular cast ons!)  Thanks for the suggestion to knit the sleeves inside out – what a great idea!  I will certainly try it.

Purple period continues

I ripped the embossed leaves socks I had started with my Malabrigo sock, and started a pair of Twisted Tweed socks instead.

I really love the way this pattern looks in the yarn, and in general it’s an easy, approachable pattern.  I cast on 66 stitches (the pattern calls for 72) because I have thin ankles..  Hopefully they will fit and not be too big or small.  The yarn is not at all bouncy, but it is wonderfully soft.

I also started Vaila, from the Twist Collective.

Does anyone else have a hard time telling purple from blue?  I always seem to call things purple that other people insist are blue.. maybe it’s just that I’m unwilling to accept purpley blues.  So anyway, I think this is blue, but I could be wrong.  Nice yarn either way – I’m alternating skeins to avoid pooling, and it’s super easy in the round.

I’m doing some alterations to this pattern.  I cast on for the smallest size, because it has a 32″ hip measurement (the next largest is something like 37″.)  But I want the 2nd size bust measurement (also 32) because I don’t like A shaped pullovers on me (cardigans yes, pullovers no.)  I will add some waist shaping so that it isn’t boxy, and then knit the top and sleeves in the 2nd size.  So overall the same sweater, just with some shaping.  I may also knit the sleeves flat and seam them – I would rather seam than purl in the round for that long (they are reverse stockinette.)

Finally, I got my yarn for Wisteria.

I adore this color.  This yarn (Araucania nature wool) is kettle dyed, so I will also alternate skeins on this knit.  I have knit with this yarn before (a scarf for Marc, which he promptly lost… not the yarn’s fault I suppose.)  It’s not the softest – I would compare it to cascade 220.  It’s also not a true worsted weight, more of a light worsted or dk.  I’m hoping I bought enough yarn to make up for the gauge change!

FO: Polly

Pattern: Polly, from Thrown Together by Kim Hargreaves

Yarn: Elann Superwash Chunky

Needles: US 10.5

Notes: Polly is a raglan, knit flat (fine by me) and seamed together at the end.  I reduced the number of buttons by one (I forgot to make the first buttonhole, but I think I like it better with fewer anyway.)  My sweater stretched by 3-4 inches measured flat (so 6-8 inches total) after blocking.   I think that’s because the pattern stitch is a form of ribbing, although it was probably helped along by the superwash yarn.

The yarn was nice enough, if basic, although it did have a tendency to split.  It is very soft, and compared to the other Elann chunky yarn (peruvian chunky) it feels like it will wear well.  It’s very economical for a chunky yarn, and I would recommend it in a heartbeat.

I wasn’t sure about the sweater when it was finished, but what it needed was the right shirt under.  I paired it with this turtleneck, and now I love it!  I never wore this shirt much before – it’s too plain on its own, but I didn’t have anything else it went with.  Polly was an easy knit, and it could have knit up even faster if I hadn’t been focusing on my socks.  I do like the mod of having fewer buttons – I think it makes the sweater more swingy rather than boxy.  Plus I got to use up the extra buttons from my Central Park hoodie!  My only complaint about this sweater is that the back rides up a bit (a common raglan issue) but since it is loose this isn’t so noticeable.

FO: Little pumpkin socks

Pattern: Little Pumpkin socks

Yarn: Wollmeise 80/20 in Kurbis

Needles: US 0 DPNs

Notes: Favorite socks ever.  No joke.  The pattern was super easy to memorize, but has such a pretty result (this is my ideal in sock patterns – I get bored easily, but I’m not staring at a chart.)  I did have some trouble with the cables the first time, but then it was easy.  I knit on 4 rather than 5 DPNs, and that was no problem.   I knit them exactly to specs, and they are perfect on my size 8, slightly narrow feet.

The Wollmeise took some getting used to – it is strangely dry and unyielding.  By the end I was used to it, and I would use it again, should the insane demand ever die down. The resulting socks are sturdy and will wear well I think.  The yarn is slightly thicker than some, which I actually prefer (I am not a fan of, for instance, Shepherd Sock… too skinny.)  I used my regular doubled cast on (cast on with 2 strands of yarn, makes a stretchy top) and they are easy to put on, but they don’t fall down.  The color is gorgeous, simply one of my favorites!

My next socks will use Malabrigo sock.  Last night I cast on for a pair of Embossed Leaves, but I think the yarn is too dark for that… I will try twisted tweed instead (picked out by my husband, who thinks spiraling patterns are nifty.)

Color periods

Does anyone else find that they go through color phases with their knitting?  I definitely do.  I tend to buy yarn in clumps, with the result that I frequently end up with multiple sweaters of yarn in nearly the same color.  This past summer it was kelly green.  Early this fall it was muted aqua.  And now that winter is approaching, I find myself obsessed with deep purples and wine colors.  Recognizing the problem, I have managed to limit myself to one sweater’s worth of wine colored yarn  – Araucania nature wool for Wisteria.  I have wanted to make Wisteria for awhile, but it doesn’t come small enough for me.  Nature Wool is really a light worsted/dk yarn, no matter what the label says, so hopefully it will allow me to make a smaller size (5″ of ease is not going to be working out.)  I also got some Beaverslide worsted to try out in a purple shade, but this is a lighter shade (or so I tell myself.)  I haven’t received it yet, but I really hope I like it – the colors are so pretty, and it is so economical.  I want to make Vivian from the new Twist, but I’m not sure it will work.  If not, I will be making something else pretty and tweedy!

Sock yarn though… that doesn’t count, right?  Sock yarn never counts, or so I hear.

This is the new Malabrigo Sock yarn in Abril.  When I heard about this yarn I had to get some.  It came untied in shipping, so I went ahead and wound it up – it was a nightmare to wind, with sections doubling back on one another.  I had to wind it by hand, which I never do, and it took well over an hour.  I’m not sure what pattern to use – I’m thinking of something from Knitting on the Road or Knitting Vintage socks – I haven’t done a Nancy bush pattern in awhile, and they are so wonderful.  This will become my next socks, because I don’t like to leave things wound into this sort of ball – it stretches the yarn.

I also convinced myself that yarn for a shawl would not count as part of my purple obsession.

This is Colourscape Chunky by Rowan in Northern lights.  The pictures truly do not do it justice, it is gorgeous!  I’m going to make Skye from this – it is shown in the Ghost colorway, but I fell in love with the deep colors here.  I think I will need to get my purple coat drycleaned so I can wear it with this!  One thing that is odd about this yarn is that the colorways look different in the same dyelot.  For instance, there is a lot of pink in that middle skein, but almost none in the one to the right.  Doesn’t matter in this sort of yarn.  I cannot wait to get started on this – it will be happening soon because I fear it will take ages!

I bought some more Malabrigo as well recently (it is a sickness I tell you… I love that yarn so much.)

On the left is Buscando Azul, which I have decided to use to make Vaila.  I tell myself that it is not purple, but I may be kidding myself.  This is a candidate for starting soon – it is snowing today, and I want a snuggley turtleneck!  I may redo the shaping to make the sweater more shaped – I think the A line shape might not be great on me, and I am a bit worried about reverse stockinette in the round.

But the pearl malabrigo is definitely not purple!  I will use it for the Just Enough Ruffles scarf.  Thank goodness Laura didn’t make this in purple, because I love it so much that I want mine to look like the original!

Finally, yarn that is in no way purple.

Dream in Color Classy in Chinatown Apple (+ 1 cat hair already… my house is cursed.)  I was not the biggest fan of this yarn when I made my February Lady, but I must confess that the colors will make me overlook the squeaky superwash yarn.  This colorway is amazing – it looks like Autumn to me!  I’m thinking of using this for the Climbing Vines Pullover, my favorite from the new IK.  I really like the idea of autumn colors with the leaves, but I’m not sure if it might overwhelm the pattern, or if indeed I will care with this pretty yarn.  I might need to make something simpler from this, but either way it’s gorgeous!

I finished Polly (pics soon!) and cast on for Baby Cables.  I was going to show you my progress, but it would appear I have been knitting a moebius, for the first time in at least a year.  I can’t figure out how I managed, but I did.  I think the pattern is cursed for me, and I’m planning to start something else instead – I will return to the sweater when the memory of having to start it twice already has faded.

Finally FO pics!

I was finally able to take modeled photos of Petersburg – at 7 am, so they are a little dark.

A few random notes after wearing it several times:  I have given up on the belt holes – I don’t like how using them makes the sweater stand out from my waist.  I would make belt loops if I did it again, but as it is I’m just doing without, and it seems to be working fine.

It’s very warm and cozy, but perhaps could be a little smaller in the shoulders (this is my primary problem with sweaters with ease – my shoulders are so narrow that the sweater will fall off if they are too big.)  I love it anyway, especially with this shirt, but I’m still not sure that belted knits are my thing (I don’t like messing with the tie, and I am very short waisted.)

I have finished knitting the pieces to Polly, and it will be done soon – I can’t wait to wear it!  Today in the mail I got the yarn to restarts Baby Cables, Jaeger Extra fine merino DK.

This is such a nice yarn… I cannot understand why it was discontinued.  Nice basic yarns that don’t cost a fortune are rare.

The new issue of Knotions is out, and I really love Swing Swing – I have the exact yarn used in the pattern already!  I will probably knit it to a slightly tighter gauge – Colrain does pill a bit, and I like to minimize that.  I’m also making the Magic Mirror mittens, Vortical socks, and Isotope hat… it’s a great issue!

New Twist and Interweave!

I totally admit that I’m a terrible pattern collector.  I will buy any book or magazine that I think I might want to make something out of someday (you know, just in case.)  Nothing makes me happier that a month with lots of new patterns!  I’ve already shown you Amber and the new Knotions (not out yet, but probably next week – I’m making those mittens out of bright red baby cashmerino.)  This week we got the new issue of the twist collective, and a preview for the winter IK.

Of course, I’m kind of picky too… I know what kinds of things will look good on me, as well as what I’m actually likely to knit (I’m a fan of worsted weight yarns, unlikely to knit sport and smaller.)  I thought that Twist, overall, was very good quality.  There were several designs that were just lovely.  I’m likely to knit KingScot, Vivian, and Garbo (below.)

Vivian is my favorite.. isn’t it gorgeous?  The cables remind me of my Honey sweater, and who doesn’t love a hoodie?  Garbo I would probably not have looked at, except the shape is similar to my minimalist cardigan, which I have been wearing constantly  Apparently I like this sort of jacket.  And Kingscot… well, I know I said no more Norah Gaughan, but I just love that front design so much!  Of course, the back has something weird going on.

It’s not ribbing exactly, it looks like some sort of cable (I haven’t bought the pattern yet to confirm.)  I would make this with a plain back, because I think the front already has enough going on.  Probably the stitch count would need adjusting, but it doesn’t look too bad.

There are two other sweaters in the issue that I think are lovely, Sylvi and Valia.

I have a pretty firm “No knit coats” policy, because I have more regular coats that anyone should ever need (it’s my other sickness) and because I don’t like knitting things that big.  On the other hand, this is bulky yarn, and that flower motif is some serious loveliness.  I may yet make this one!  Valia is knit in Malabrigo, which of course I love.  I think it’s a little big on the model there – it’s modeled with something like 3″ of ease.   I would make negative ease (either the 29 or 32″ size,) which would totally change the look of the sweater.  Love the long cuffs and the neck!

There are several other lovely patterns – a pretty cowl by Pam Allen, and some lovely colorwork mittens (colorwork and I are in a fight… I cannot knit with my right hand without pain, and it’s too slow the other way.)

Since when it rains it pours, and a whole host of other cliches, we also got the new Interweave preview this morning.  I’ll tell you right off the bat that I have been displeased with the last two issues of interweave (three if you include the Gifts issue.)  This one is better, but it’s still missing something for me.  My favorites below.

Out of these I am likely to make the Climbing vines pullover (because it looks like a Phildar pattern I own, but without the reverse stockinette… and again, it would look better with negative ease, and possibly more shaping?  I would need to see the pattern.)  I like the welt and rib sweater and Elaine’s Blouse (without the buttons on the back.)  Welt and Rib is knit in a lovey yarn (Manos silk blend) and would look nicer in a less boring color, but that’s true for lots in this issue (see all the pinky lavender?  I hate pinky lavender.)  I have to admit that I am drawn to bright colors, and in this way the Twist Collective really spoke to me, while this does not (I know you can change the colors of course, and I would, but my initial impression includes the sample color.)  On the other hand, I am probably attracted to the Blooming Cardigan (the first sweater above) because of the color – I am not a huge fan of belted cardis, and I already have a similar one by Kim Hargreaves in my queue.)  Same with the vest, although I might think it was lovely anyway – I would like to see it styled with pants, because I would never wear it the way it is modeled in the magazine.

I will await the galleries, which have frequently changed my opinion on sweaters.  I would like to see Interweave do something like vogue is doing now – a video of the clothes being modeled, which shows movement and all angles.  Twist is doing a fashion show with their sweaters, and there will be a video posted.

Now that most of the winter patterns are out, I can finally make that WEBs order I have been plotting.  I do love shopping for yarn on the net… I can take all the time I want, and I am a slow shopper by nature.

I am 3/4 finished with Polly (I love chunky yarn!)  I have a quick comment for anyone knitting this – keep in mind that it will relax a lot with blocking, since it is a sort of ribbed fabric.  My back grew from 14″ to 19″, and only shrank back to 18″ when dry (I did expect this, I wasn’t hoping for a 14″ back – in fact, I was praying for some serious stretch the whole time I was knitting!)

On giving up…

Does anyone else find it hard to admit that a project is just not working out for some reason?  I’m trying really hard to get better, but I must confess that I feel guilty when I lay something down for good.  So what I said Sunday, about how I was going to make it through the Silken Scabbard?  Yeah, forget that.  I just really hate the way the pattern is written, I didn’t like the yarn I was using, and knitting an entire tunic from DK weight yarn in one piece just makes me feel like I’m not getting anywhere.

Guilt free, right?  Maybe not, but I will try to move on!  I started a new sweater instead, as the yarn for my baby cables sweater is not here yet (I chose the brown, thanks for your votes!)  This is Polly, from Thrown Together by Kim Hargreaves (I swear, I should get paid for knitting so many of her designs!)

Unnecessary belting aside, it’s a cute basic sweater, and it’s going to knit up super fast.  Gauge is hard to measure because the textured stitch is so stretchy.  Mine measures small, but stretches easily, and this is superwash yarn (Elann superwash chunky) so I expect some stretching, especially from a heavy sweater.  Kim seems to use this stitch a lot (it was featured heavily in Honey, and the Skye wrap in her new book (the one I’m planning on making, now possibly from the called for yarn) also uses it.  I can see why she’s a huge fan – the resulting fabric is stretchy, and there are no purl rows.

I’m also making great progress on the “Simple yet effective” shawl, although I do have this to say: Dear Mr. Noro – what’s up with the one random bright color in the middle of every nice colorway?

I like the bright blue, but I am far less enamoured of that minty green.  It would seem that although I love greens, I really hate anything minty… reminds me of the color half the walls in my house were before we painted them.  I’m kind of wishing I had bought a different colorway, but I will withhold judgement for awhile… maybe it will get better, and maybe I’m being picky.

Stir Crazy

My Silken Scabbard is separated under the sleeves now, and I have merged the cables to the sides.  It feels like progress is glacial… I don’t like the way the pattern is written at all, and to be honest I might have given it up, except my husband, who rarely notices sweaters, loved it when I tried it on.  So I’m still going, but I think I might work on a sleeve for awhile, to get some actual progress.  My socks are nearly done, so I cast on for a shawl with some Kureyon Sock, bought in a moment of insanity when the yarn first came out.

This is the “Simple Yet Effective Shawl” from Cosmicpluto Knits.  The pattern is super easy, and I love the way the sock yarn looks knit up – after swatching I realized this was not going to be socks, but it’s very nice here.  The hardest part was winding the skein into two balls – the yarn is some of the stickiest I have seen!

One sock…

I don’t generally suffer from second sock syndrome.  If I can make it through the first one, I must like the pattern enough to finish.  Right now I am suffering from a bit of “second mitten syndrome,” but that’s because knitting fair isle with my right hand is kind of painful for me, so I’m not in a hurry.  Also, the weather keeps hovering around 70, which doesn’t inspire thoughts of mittens.  Where are you Autumn?  Oh well… at least my socks are autumn-y!

Tomorrow night I’m having two friends over for a first knitting lesson.  Any advice to give me on the best way to teach?  Things to start with?  I’m super excited about it… I must spread the knitting love around!  They both already crochet, so I’m teaching continental (I crocheted first, and continental was much easier for me to grasp.)

I got my copy of Amber this week, and right now I’m engaged in finding a sub for this wrap:

It calls for Rowan Colourscape chunky, which I think it overpriced.  There are lots of yarns with long color changes now, so I will look around (none of them are as nice as Noro for the colors, IMO, but they are all nicer in feel.)  Also, I would lose the belt.  I can’t think of a time when I really wanted to belt my shawl.  Any suggestions for a chunky yarn with color changes?

I’m also thinking of making this cardigan:

I have some Kid Classic that I was saving for a vest, but I now think I wouldn’t wear it, whereas this could be a wardrobe staple, especially in the nice gray I have (and I would have enough left over to make Soul, the lovely hat from the same book.)

Finally, I’m looking at getting some yarn to start “Baby Cables and Big ones too” over.  I decided I wanted nicer stitch definition than I was getting with the sylvan spirit, so I’m going with the yarn used in the pattern sample, which is discontinued and cheap.  The question is, which color?  I’m torn between the two below.  I love the pink because it looks similar to my favorite store bought sweater, which is in danger of wearing out.  Pink makes me nervous as a redhead, but I can usually wear brown based pinks.  The brown color is pretty too, very sophisticated but not gray (I have too  much gray yarn for some reason.)  What do you think?