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Posts Tagged ‘Ravelry’

It’s no secret I’ve been fighting the midwinter blues lately. Although we’ve had mild temps and hardly any snow (so far) this winter, this is still the time when tights and scarves and sweaters start to pall a bit. I’ve worn all my cute winter outfits (and mixed the pieces around to create new ones), drunk copious amounts of tea, and had my fill of hearty soups featuring winter produce. Something in me is longing for spring, for stalks of shocking-pink rhubarb and softer breezes, for flowers (in the park and on my clothes), for the reappearance of light jackets and farmer’s markets and ballet flats. (I’ve seen hardy Northeasterners in lighter layers and even shoes with no socks lately – but for me it’s all boots, all the time, till the mercury rises higher.)

However, I did finally finish a knitting project – a sumptuous, soft, squishy cowl, as green as Ireland, with the two skeins of Manos del Uruguay Maxima I bought at Purl Soho in January. (The first time I visited Allison in New York, we misjudged our travel time and arrived at Purl twenty minutes after it closed – so we made it a priority to get there this last time.)

My new Millwater cowl isn’t curing my winter blues entirely, but it’s a shot of joyous color, a cozy hug around my neck, and a reminder that eventually, this shade of green will return to the parks in Boston, though they’re currently hovering between faded brown and gray.

What colors keep your outlook bright in the middle of 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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There was Christmas knitting this year, folks. Oh my, was there Christmas knitting. (I did start early – for once – so I didn’t get panicky about finishing everything in time. A novel approach – I think I’ll try it again next year.)

First, there was a blue Cloudy Day beret for my blue-eyed sister:

And then a red Rustling Leaves beret for Abi, my friend who believes with me that red is best. (I knitted myself an identical one.)

Then a pair of red mittens for Roxanne, which traveled across the world and (thank heaven) reached her just in time for Christmas. The right one has a wee hole so she can stick her index finger out to take photos. (I used the Evangeline cable pattern and followed a fellow Raveler’s helpful notes to turn them into mittens.)

There was a similar pair of red Evangeline fingerless mitts for my mom (my third time using this pattern):

And finally, there were a pair of wee Ugg-like booties for that nephew I’ll have in May. They are too big for a newborn, but I figure he’ll grow into them by next fall, when it’ll be Ugg-season anyway.

I’ve been working on a commissioned hat for a friend, and that big, cozy red cowl I promised myself. What are you knitting – or 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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I didn’t do a whole lot of Christmas knitting this year – just a pair of mitts for Abi, a matching cowl-and-hat set for my J (finished after Christmas), and a pink cowl for my Lizzie (also finished after Christmas, due to deadlines and projects beyond my control).

However, I still love the idea of January as Selfish Knitting Month, and I’d been eyeing a couple of me-projects for a while now. So here they are:

I’d knitted a pink Thermis cowl in a waffle stitch for Lizzie, and I decided I wanted one too – so here it is, made of yummy soft Malabrigo worsted:

(Buttons and yarn from the fabulous Windsor Button, my main source for yarn and sewing notions these days. Ravelled here.)

Next up: a new pair of fingerless mitts, since I needed a backup for my beloved black Princess Mitts. These Snapdragons (Rav link), knit in lovely madelinetosh dk, fit the bill. (The color is Composition Book Grey – perfect for a writer!)

I also squeezed in a baby gift set for a friend, and a black lacy beret for my sister. Still working on another cowl for me – I’m going to need warm handknits for a while yet. I think selfish knitting is definitely allowed when it’s this cold.

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Many of you know I’m a knitter – and that I’ve become more and more addicted to knitting over the last few years. Since my friend Joy taught me to knit in college, I’ve knitted dozens of scarves and hats, a few cowls/neckwarmers, a few pairs of fingerless gloves, some baby items and some novelty items such as Jo’s Welsh tea cozy and a handbag for myself. But until this year, I had never attempted a sweater.

I’m an avid user of Ravelry, so I joined their “Ravelympics” challenge during the 2010 Winter Olympics, knitting a whole sweater (an open-front cardigan) out of soft, bulky yarn in just under a week. It came out looking like a sweater, and fit OK, but honestly, it’s a bit small and hangs a bit funny, and I haven’t worn it much. So at the end of March, I started another sweater.

After THREE MONTHS of knitting, measuring, counting stitches, working shaping along with a lace motif (which translates to lots of counting, pulling your hair out, ripping back and counting again), then LOTS of seaming and weaving in ends and I don’t know what all, I have a new cardigan. And, I might add, it fits perfectly.

Here I am wearing it – and below is the sweater itself, complete with handmade pewter buttons from Roosterick.

This was such a satisfying project to finish – so much fun to see it all come together. What projects are you working on this summer?

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fingerless frenzy

I’m on a serious fingerless glove kick.

After losing one of a beloved pair given to me by two friends in Oxford last year, I embarked on a journey I’d tried and aborted twice before: making my own. I have small hands, and that combined with the vagaries of needles, yarns and patterns (most of which are made for people with normal-sized hands) had produced two spectacularly failed gloves in the past.

However, I tried again, knitting a pair of Dashing in a lovely deep teal yarn, and am happy to report they turned out beautifully. Amanda had asked if I’d knit her some, so I knit her a pair of Dashing also, in chunky black and brown stripes.

This proved to be dangerous, though. Now that I’ve started, I can’t stop.

I made a pair of Leslie’s Toast out of a gorgeous silver-gray bamboo-blend yarn, and just this afternoon I cast on a pair of Fetching.

I think I may have a problem.

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I’m newly addicted to knitting lovely things, having knitted a scarf (for the lovely Lizzie) and a hat (for Dad) in time for Christmas. Both gifts were received with joy, and then I knitted myself a little choker in a cool diamond stitch last week. And I just joined Ravelry – the site for anyone who is completely obsessed with knitting, i.e. is hungry for free patterns, photos of luscious yarns, and projects to ooh and aah over.

Since I’ve lost one of my beloved fingerless gloves (BOO!), I’m hoping to knit myself some new ones soon. And then I found this thought-provoking set of five questions about knitting on the Culture Making website: apparently it’s the cultural artifact of the week.

The questions are as follows:

1. What does knitting assume about the way the world is?

2. What does knitting assume about the way the world should be?

3. What does knitting make possible?

4. What does knitting make impossible (or at least a lot more difficult)?

5. What new culture is created in response?

I’ll be thinking about these as I start my new gloves. Happy midweek, everyone!

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