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Posts Tagged ‘accessories’

The days were growing longer, but the cold was more intense. Father said: “When the days begin to lengthen / The cold begins to strengthen.”

Farmer Boy, Laura Ingalls Wilder

Brrr. That’s me shivering, because I’m well into my second Northeastern winter, and while it began mildly (thank heaven!), the lows have started dipping into the teens with alarming regularity. Which means two things: 1) I’m loving that electric blanket J gave me for Christmas (though he uses it too – sneaky!), and 2) I’m relying heavily on my winter accessories. Down and wool coats are vital, of course, but my extremities would still be frozen (particularly on the morning commute) without the help of the following:

Scarves. The back of our front door sports a hanging rack full of coats and scarves – and the latter hang so thickly you can hardly see the door. My collection of fringed pashminas, chunky knit scarves, my new big red cowl and one thin-but-warm stripey wool scarf have earned me J’s nickname of “Scarf Queen.” It’s astonishing how a scarf or cowl can warm up my whole body by protecting that vital neck area (and preventing the cold air from snaking down into my coat).


(Bundled up in my red wool coat, wool scarf and new Crooked Paths beret)

Gloves. I love my knitted fingerless gloves (I have three pairs), but it’s too cold for bare fingers in the mornings now – and I lost one of my suede gloves recently. Which meant I was thrilled to find leather gloves at Marshalls (for $7!). They’re black with a chic bow at the cuff, and so warm.

Boots. When it rains, I wear my red wellies (they’re lined for extra warmth, and I’ve just discovered fleecy boot liners). But I also have suede boots lined with faux fur, and my chunky-but-weatherproof snow boots, lined with fleece. Warm feet=happy girl.

Hats. I knit my own, mostly – from a chunky cabled red Habitat to some thinner berets made out of Madelinetosh DK. With some worsted-weight beanies and berets in between. I have short, fine hair, and it needs help keeping my ears warm in this weather. (I also own a cloche or two, a la Maisie Dobbs, but I’m always afraid they’re going to blow off when the wind whips down the Common.)

Tights. I never saw the need for sweater tights till last year – and now I have three pairs. I’ve also stocked up on “regular” tights, mostly plain or textured ones in black and gray. When it’s cold and/or wet I prefer skirts with boots and tights – no damp and draggled pant hems to worry about. And that one thin layer does wonders to keep my legs warm.

What are the vital accessories you reach for every winter?

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Big and cozy. And RED.

A few weeks ago, I queried the Twitter community: “Dying to knit myself a big cozy cowl. Stymied on color choice.” I have one down coat (black) and two wool coats (one red, one black-and-white plaid), so I was debating: black or red?

The responses from several friends confirmed what I wanted (I love it when that happens) – so I bought size 13 needles, two skeins of squishy soft wool (Cascade 128 Superwash Chunky, for those who will wonder), and went with red.

This was the perfect knit for lots of football- and movie-watching over Christmas – quick, easy, nearly mindless, and so satisfying. I pulled it out last week when the temps dipped way down, and I love it. So warm, whether doubled (above) or worn in a single loop:

The pattern is based on a cowl from the Gap – the designer saw it in the store and wanted to make her own. And yes, I suppose I could have bought mine. But where’s the fun in that?

It’s the time of year when I stare at people’s knitwear on the subway and on the street, wondering: store-bought or handmade? What kind of fiber? And most importantly: could I make that? The answer this time, obviously, was yes.

What’s the last utterly satisfying project you completed (knitting, crafting or otherwise)?

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‘Tis the season to knit accessories – well, for some people it’s always that season. But for me, knitting tends to ebb and flow with the temperatures, and after my summer binge of hats for Sanctuary Home (total: 10), I took a break. And then I started my Christmas knitting in October. (I know. But since I usually get all kinds of great ideas at the last minute and have no time to knit them, this was a step in the right direction.)

Anyway. I’ve knit three Christmas gifts and a baby gift, which I can’t show you yet, but I did finally do some knitting for me – a Rustling Leaves Beret (Ravelry link), from the gorgeous new book Coastal Knits:

It came in handy when our Veterans’ Day excursion to Amherst proved a bit windy:

Handknits and apple cider. Mmmm.

Jane Richmond came out with a cute new cowl pattern, chunky and cozy and quite satisfying. It’s not meant for frigid weather, as it lets the breezes in, but it’s a fun fall accessory and I love these big braided cables:

Then my hubs asked for a long black scarf – not too exciting, but I’m always thrilled when he asks me to knit for him. So I’ve been working on that as we watch Castle (and on the T, when I can get a seat). I love the squooshy Mistake Rib pattern, and it’ll keep him warm this winter. (I also knit him a pair of ribbed charcoal mitts, since he lost one of the black ones I knit him last year.)

And – since my sister announced her pregnancy about a month ago – I am drooling over baby knits and wondering: what shall I knit the little one first? (She’s not due until spring, but of COURSE I need to start knitting!)

What are you making these days?

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So far in my knitting career, I’ve stuck mostly to accessories – first scarves (because they were easy), then hats (because they’re a lot more fun), then fingerless gloves (because I finally could), then felted slippers, cowls, etc. I attempted my first sweater for the 2010 Ravelympics. It was a success in that it looked like a sweater, but it never fit quite right. I was elated to knit a wearable short-sleeve cardi this summer, but it didn’t get a lot of wear before fall.

Since I now live in an area where sweater weather lasts for months, I decided to attempt a Vine Yoke Cardigan this winter. I splurged on Madelinetosh DK yarn in a gorgeous raspberry color (Tart). I loved knitting the vine lace pattern and was so excited to make a sweater I’d actually wear.

Well…I finished it and tried it on. And it flared out oddly at the sides, and felt too short in the sleeves and body. I blocked it aggressively (read: tried to stretch it out); it grew a lot, but I still didn’t like the way it looked when I put it on. However, it was a pretty sweater and I hated the idea of ripping it out, undoing all that work.

Until a couple of weeks ago, when I realized that if I frogged it, I could use that three skeins’ worth of scrumptious Tart yarn for something else. So I snipped off the buttons, painstakingly undid the underarm seams, and ripped. And cut and ripped, and cut and ripped, again and again. I had about ten balls of yarn, of varying sizes, when I was done.

Then Jill (Knitterella) released her first pattern – the adorable Smocked Slouch. And a couple of weeks later, about a skein’s worth of that frogged, rewound Tart yarn became this:

Ahhhh. Much better. (It’s already getting lots of wear on these changeable spring days, with my new plaid coat, also pictured.)

Anyone else have ripping/undoing/reclaiming stories to share, knitting-related or otherwise? (It’s so satisfying to turn a failure into a fabulous new project, isn’t it?)

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Since the weather turned chilly in, oh, November or so, I’ve been obsessed with knitwear. Mostly hats and snuggly cardigans and big, cozy cowls and scarves. I find myself staring at people on the T because of what they’re wearing on their heads or wrapped around their necks. If it’s an unusual stitch pattern or a lovely cabled beret, I try to figure out how it’s constructed. I’ve even recognized a couple of Ravelry patterns, knitting nerd that I am, and my wish list for accessories has grown and grown.

As much as I’ve complained about winter, it is a knitter’s dream – the perfect season to knit and wear tons of cozy accessories. (As Abi points out, we actually have time to wear all our cold-weather clothes up here.) And since I now commute on the T (along with half of Boston), my favorite knitted hats are getting even more play.

Slouchy (though not too slouchy) berets are my style of choice, and I have several favorites. So I thought I’d model them for you today.

First up is the Snapdragon Tam – complicated, but oh-so-lovely in Madelinetosh DK (colorway Cedar):

I fell in love last year with a Malabrigo colorway called Paris Night – smoky and velvety and rich. Here’s my Star Crossed Slouchy Beret (Rav link), which works just as well for Boston nights:

And finally, my third-time’s-a-charm attempt to knit myself a black beret. This pattern is called Double Crossed (Rav link), designed by another Katie (an English Katie). A triumph, and so warm.

It’s still chilly/wet/nasty here (Mother Nature is playing an April Fool’s joke on us poor Northeasterners today). I may end up with another hat or two before the winter’s truly out. Any favorite patterns to share?

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