Posts tagged ‘wool’
I am thrilled with this project.
One of the things I strive for the most in design is to create projects that are fun for knitters to make AND really, really look like you picked it up at a boutique hipster clothing store. And while I seem to see beautiful knitwear from these stores all the time, the challenge to design something in the same vein is usually much harder than I expect when I begin a project.
This time around I had extra inspiration. I teamed up with Chandi over at Expression Fiber Arts. If you’ve never taken a look at her yarn, you must! Her colors are amazingly beautiful and cutting edge. And I love following her blog and Facebook page, she’s a wonderfully sweet and encouraging person.
This cowl was designed with her brand new line of Spectrum Color Shift yarns. A single ply wool yarn with long color changes. When she sent me a photo of the different colorways, it was all I could do to choose just one!
My fashionable sister agreed to model for me. I don’t what I’d do without her. She loves playing with my twins, she weighs in when my fashion sense is completely off base, and she even likes modeling the final project. Isn’t she beautiful?
Here’s to one or two more cuddly, wool projects before spring is here!
This fashionably funky cowl is a breeze to knit up, and with a simple twist you’ll take your knitted work from warm and pretty to downright adorable. It’s designed so that there is lots of thick warm fabric right around your neck for you to snuggle your chin down into without adding any bulk to your coat. The sample in the photography is knit up in Spectrum Color Shift by Expression Fiber Arts, a single ply worsted yarn with long color changes. The color changes paired with the textured stitch pattern add depth and interest to an otherwise simple accessory.
Size: One Size Fits All
Dimensions: 25 inches/63.5cm around x 8 inches/ 20.5cm wide
Gauge: 20 stitches = 4 inches/10cm
-2 skeins of Expression Fiber Arts Spectrum Color Shift (100g, 175 yds/skein), Coffee and Cream colorway.
-Size 6 US/4.0mm needles
-8 removable stitch markers (at least three need to be a different color from the others)
Purchase the pattern over at Ravelry, http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/puckery-posy-cowl.
I started to write this “quick” blog post on Saturday, and it just kept going… and going… and going… Apparently I had a lot on my mind.
It’s like a million degrees outside. We’re totally paying for the glorious lack of nasty winter by getting one heck of a summer. I’m pretty sure we just broke the all-time record yesterday. So as I brew some sweet tea for my husband who’s a glutton for punishment and is mowing, weed-eating and doing all sort of other things that a sane person would not do on a day like today, I almost picked up one of my wool projects. What has been keeping me from doing so is actually not the insane temperature. It’s actually more about the knitting that’s making me stand-offish when I look at them sitting there in their unfinished state, begging to be the subject of my unwind in silence time.
Right now I’m actively working on two projects. One for the kids and one for me. For the kids, you may recall, I’m trying to tackle the question of wool cloth diapering. My first attempt was a success with a few reservations and I’m tackling the improvements by way of double knitting. Problem. I’ve never done any double knitting. And while this has never posed much of a problem to me in the past when picking up a new technique, it’s become a problem now. Usually, if I hear a podcast or read a blog on the topic, I can pick up a new technique in a matter of minutes. I may need a youtube or two to help me perfect my execution of it, but generally, I just learn it and quickly and easily incorporate it into whatever I’m working on at the time. Double knitting has not worked out like that. I honestly feel like I’m learning to knit all over again. I hold the yarn so awkwardly, I’m constantly trying to figure out if my yarn should be in front or in back. I can barely figure out if I’m on a knit or a purl stitch. After working on my diaper cover for over two hours, I have like 4-5 rows to show for it.
Part of my problem.. Did I knit a little practice swatch to teach me the basics before casting on a whole project? Of course not! Why would I do a sensible thing like that? Oh no, I decided to jump right in on my next cover with a new cast on, double-knit ribbing, and of course double-knit stockinette. What can I say? I love a challenge. I actually have figured out a bit of a rhythm, and while I’m unconvinced about the success of the project, I am learning a new technique which is never a waste of time.
In all my clumsy fiddling with the ribbed section of this cover, I must say I loved learning the cast-on. Turns out it’s actually not that hard if you’re already a fan of the long-tail cast-on, which I am. It also has one big advantage, you don’t just have to use it for double knitting. When you’re double knitting, you’re constructing two separate pieces of stockinette knitted fabric simultaneously Usually they are connected, but don’t have to be. Some knitters actually work two socks or sleeves at the same time with this technique. Cool? Yes! Awkward to work when first learning? Very! But since usually those two pieces of fabric have the wrong side of both facing “in”, so that you have a piece of double sided stockinette, you are essentially working a 1×1 ribbed pattern, working all the purls with one yarn and all the knits with another. All that means that while yes, you could just use your normal long-tail cast on, it really isn’t very elegant and doesn’t integrate with the fabric well. A ribbed two color cast on of some kind is required. Enter that tutorial on Twist Collective I linked to the other day. When I watched the little video, I had a eureka moment. Why hadn’t I figured this out before? It’s so simple! I’d heard rumors that the long-tail cast on is reversible, but I never figured it out, I probably just wasn’t trying, and was a little to lazy to care. With this cast on, you take your two strands, make a slip knot as usual and place it on the needle. Then you use the two strands as if one was your working yarn and one was the long tail. Brilliant! I’ve used this cast-on before for stranded knitting and it looks great. But this little cast on went the extra mile and incorporated the reversed long-tail cast on for the purl stitches. Something I really wish I had picked up a long time ago.
This is all very cool, but let’s just say that the awkwardness just makes it not much of a relaxing project right now. So what about the project for me?
Well, as you may recall from a month ago. I’m working on this cute little black cardi for the fall. It’s actually going really well, except for my indecisiveness. There are a couple design elements that I just keep second guessing, so I hate keep working on it when there is a possibility that I’m just going to have to rip things out again. There’s this waist band that I can’t decide if I should keep or not. I think I’ve finally decided that the answer is “no”. It looks pretty cool, but if there’s anything I can’t stand it’s an overworked knitwear design. (Ascending soap box now). We know the story… you go to the store and see all these cute sweaters, they’re super simple from a knitting technique perspective, but oh, so fashionable, and you go “wow, I could totally make that and it would look 10 times cuter”, and you’d be right. So you go home, sketch out a simple raglan sweater, or whatever it was, do a bit of math and before you know it, you’re really close to reproducing that cute sweater. But then you go… “hmm, I’d love to add a lace motif”, or “it could really use some cables” and before you know it, your design is way overworked. If you do happen to finish it, the final product is a fine tribute to your knitting skills and a bit of a detractor to your fashion sense. Knitters (me included) have this irritating habit of putting their knitting before their fashion. And that my friends, should not be. It really takes away from our skill if the final product is beautiful only to the eye of it’s creator, and seen by others as at best eccentric, and at worst downright ugly. (Ok, soapbox rant over). So all that to say, I really felt like the waist band was going up the overworked knitwear path a bit too much. I did a quick mental survey of the cute layering cardigans I’ve owned or admired, and none of them had the contemplated waistband, so that makes it a no go. So now that that’s decided I think I have some knitting to rip out.
Break out the sweet tea.
I think the diaper cover was a success. Little Elsie looks darling, and I can’t help but think she looks a bit more comfortable than when she’s wearing the PUL covers.
It fits great around the legs, yet doesn’t restrict her leg movement at all.
As I mentioned yesterday, I really prefer fingering and sport weight yarn and their associated gauges on babies. It just looks more in scale with their small bodies.
You can see the shaping I did around the leg. And I got much better at picking up stitches around edges. This “seam” looks really good compared with others I’ve done in the past.
Here’s a picture of Chad wearing the cover yesterday. I actually feel like they’re more comfortable when I prop them up into a sitting position.
Here’s another shot of the leg, but I think it shows off the shaping better.
Overall, I’m declaring the project a success, with two reservations.
1) I hate the color. I used some knit picks palette I got years ago and I still have no idea why I picked out the color. But I didn’t want to waste my cute colors if the project was a failure. To be clear, the yarn worked great, and is at the perfect price point at $3.39/50g, but the color was just not my favorite.
2) The fabric is just not quite thick enough. Chad wore the diaper for about 2 hours, and even though he had wet the prefold under the cover, the cover was dry. Then at about 3 hours, it started to seep everywhere, it was actually kinda gross. So I think thicker fabric is in order.
However as I discussed earlier, I really like the scale of this fabric, so I’d rather not go up to a DK or worsted yarn. So I’m thinking I might play around with double knitting and see how that works. I’ve wanted to learn this technique for quite a while. I understand how it works conceptually but I’ve never actually tried it, as far as I can remember. After a bit of internet research I found some helpful resources to get me started:
Twist Collective Article “Introduction to Double Knitting: The four winds hat” by Alasdair Post-Quinn
We’ll see how this goes, but for now, enough blogging, time for some lunch, a quick tidy up, and some knitting.
Wool is awesome.
Well, yes, we all knew that or else you probably wouldn’t be reading this. Knitters love wool. We go to stores just to pet it. We spend hours relaxing to it’s wonderful squishiness. And yet so often we find ourselves defending our wool fetish. Until now.
I’ve started to explore wool diaper covers. And in the cloth diapering, hippy, all-natural world I find myself in way too often, wool is the coveted cloth diapering solution. Wool is an awesome all-natural waterproofing material, and it’s actually way cooler for babies than the synthetic stuff that the normal diaper covers are made out of, making them great for summer. (If your interested to see how it actually works, take a look at this article). After seeing the adorable wool covers commercially available, the i-could-make-that-for a tenth-of-the-cost bug bit pretty hard. Seriously, they charge like $40 for something that costs me about $4 and a few hours to make. They were so cute and they looked like such fun, instant gratification, save money while being eco-friendly knitting, that i just couldn’t resist the challenge.
I started trolling ravelry for a pattern but none of them were quite what I was looking for. Most of the patterns out there were more just cute little rompers to throw over a disposable diaper. Cute, but didn’t strike me as being totally functional for my cloth diapering needs. The ones that did seem designed for cloth diaper use seemed super functional almost all called for worsted yarn. Not a huge problem, but aesthetically speaking, I feel like fingering or sport weight yarn and their related gauges are just more in-scale with a baby’s size. So I think that narrowed it down to one pattern, but it was knit flat, and I really, really prefer my projects in the round if at all possible. So I pulled out my sketchbook and calculator.
It turned out to be just enough math to provide a delightful little bit of intellectual stimulation, and enough ribbing and stockinette to give me some “zen” knitting when I had 15 minutes of quiet and really needed to unwind a bit. I also feel like I beefed up my technique toolbox a bit while working on this. The legs required a bind off after about an inch of ribbing. Since I knit my socks top down instead of toe up, I’ve never really had to perfect my ribbed bind-off. So I poked around the internet and found Jeny’s Suprisingly Stretchy Bind-off on Knitty. I’m in love, this is a technique I wish I had known years ago!
Since this photo, I finished the other leg. In spite of a bit of a bad mood, I immediately tried it on Chad and it fit really well! Time to go get him up from his nap and see if he’s actually dry! FO pics tomorrow. 🙂
So I guess I sorta left the topic hanging yesterday. I gave all these criteria for my favorite yarns, now lets discuss what those favorites are!
Classic Elite Liberty Wool – $7.50/50g – 100% Superwash Merino Wool – Worsted
Ever since I first used this yarn about a year and a half ago this has been my favorite yarn to work with for any project requiring a smooth worsted wool. It has phenomenal stitch definition, is wonderfully soft, and has great memory. It was originally released in a pretty broad spectrum of colors, but it wasn’t until this year that they added some beautiful neutrals, thus solidifying it as my top favorite yarn.
Knit Picks Swish – $4.69/50g – 100% Superwash Wool – Worsted
Swish comes in at a close second. It has all the same features as Liberty Wool, but doesn’t seem to have quite the same quality. Which, as you can see, is reflected in the price. However, since it is cheaper, I do frequently consider it if I’m working with a smaller budget than usual.
Knit Picks Stroll – $4.69/50g – 25% Nylon, 75% Superwash Wool – Fingering
I haven’t found even a close competitor for this yarn. While there are other yarns that give stroll a run for its money either in the quality or luxurious feel of the yarn, none of them come close to the price. Every other sock yarn I’ve been tempted by is at least twice the price, and I really have a hard time spending $25 for a pair of socks on a regular basis. It does seem like there’s room in the market for a medium priced sock yarn. Knit picks will set you back around $10/100g, while every other brand costs $20-$25. I’d love to find some reasonably high quality sock yarn for around $15. If you know of any I missed, please let me know!
Knit Picks Gloss – $5.99/50g – 70% Wool, 30% Silk – Fingering
I love, love this yarn with no complaints. well, maybe one. It really should be made available in the stroll tonal colorways.
Knit Picks Wool of the Andes – $2.69/50g – 100% Peruvian Wool – Worsted
My favorite for any felting project. I haven’t tried Cascade 220 yet, so I can’t offer a good comparison. Anyone want to jump in on this one?
Berroco Lustra – $12/100g – 50% Wool, 50% Tencel – Single Ply – Worsted
This one is a bit different, but a lot of fun to work with. It has great stitch definition and the Tencel gives it a wonderful sheen.
Spud and Chloe Sweater – $15/100g – 50% Cotton, 50% Wool – Worsted
I like this one for baby knits that are intended to be a bit more heirloom quality. it’s incredibly soft, spun to be a bit hardwearing, and is thoroughly washable.
Berroco Remix – $10/100g – 30% Nylon, 27% Cotton, 24% Acrylic, 10% Silk, 9% Linen – Worsted
I was really surprised that I liked this one as much as I did. But I’ve now used it in three projects, and I always love the result!
I got a comment yesterday, but I’d love some other folks to jump in too. What are you favorite yarns? Why?
When I first started designing, I swore I’d never design socks. No particular reason, other than I felt like there were lots of other designers that were doing a phenomenal job in that section of the pattern industry, and I didn’t feel like I had anything interesting or exciting to add.
Well this winter found me with like two pair of hand knit socks and they didn’t even fit very well. I had a mountain of baby knitting to work on and I wanted these socks fast. You may also remember my eureka moment with the centered increase in December. That little discovery has oppened the door to a lot of creative stitch patterns that I was just aching to try. So inspiration met practicality and the result was these amazing socks, that were fun and interesting to knit, and were finished in two days.
If your interested in knitting them too, here are the details.
Sizes – Designed to fit a foot measuring 8.5” (21.5cm) around the ball. Size can be slightly adjusted by going up or down a needle size or two.
• 1 skein of Plymouth Galway Worsted (100% Wool) – 210 yds. / 100g. Colorway: 722
• Size US 6/4.00mm circular needle(s) or DPNs depending on your preferred method of knitting socks.
• Stitch markers (A minimum of 1 is required as well as any others you prefer to keep track of the stitch pattern)
• Tapestry Needle