Wednesday, February 29, 2012


A big pile of secret knitting descended on me, so all has been quiet concentration around here for the last few days. Knit, knit, knit.

My partner is job-seeking for his small field, which means we may not have much say in where we live unless he becomes a bigwig or gets a mega-grant or something. This week the list of hopeful potential places to live expanded to include small-town New Brunswick, Montreal, and Vancouver. My stress-knitting was scrappy, worsted-weight socks with improvisationally-coloured stripes: tall enough that they took a few hours each to make, thick enough that I got the thrill of accomplishment pretty quickly.

Scrappy worsted socks

The weather is frightfully cold today so I haven't even blocked them yet, just clipped off the woven-in ends and pulled them on.

Still life with scrappy worsted socks and Karl Barth

I also rescued my miscalculation from the other week from the radiator where it was drying.

Thick mitts

As I've said before, I love the three-dimensional quality of lace knitting in heavy, crisp yarn at a dense gauge. This very plain edging turns into curvy petal shapes knitted this way.


Belled cuff edges on fingerless mitts look kind of silly, but let me tell you: this fabric is so immovably thick that it really is easier to tuck sleeve cuffs underneath it. I think that might be my opinion on all mitten and glove cuffs, but it is particularly my opinion in this case.

The last nonsecret is this excellent yarn.


I have cardigan ambitions—don't worry, I haven't abandoned these other cardigan ambitions; the body of the blue one is finished and it only needs its sleeves added—that may end up looking a lot like this. The fabulous yarn was designed for outerwear; I'm riding a thick-and-dense-lace high from the mitts above and want to see it in a bigger garment. Anyway, TANGERINE!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wednesday challenge

Things that are difficult to do: take a picture of your own collarbone without accidentally taking a picture down the front of your shirt.

Gathered neckline

I like the gathers and bias trim at the neckline of this shirt, though (and the fact that I have lipstick the same colour as the shirt).

The pattern is modified from Dress O in the Stylish Dress Book, Vol. 1—minimally modified, though: I widened the back piece by an inch and a half so that my stripes could match at the shoulder seams, gathering the difference at the back neck; I lengthened the sleeves a bit so that they hit my wrist instead of finishing mid-forearm; and I was having a good time applying bias tape to the neck and the armhole seam allowances, so I also finished the sleeves at the cuff edge that way, rather than hemming them in the usual fashion. I guess I am just that reluctant to get out the sewing machine lately.

The fabric is one of Anna Maria Horner's voiles and it is just to die for. It is flowy and silky without feeling insubstantial, and it has a hand that's almost... buttery? Anyway. I would like one bolt of each solid and stripe to make five hundred shirts and dresses please.

Saturday, February 18, 2012


I reknit my false start from the other day out of a different crisp wool, and am very happy with the result, and will even show you once they're dry—the drawback to dense garter stitch out of worsted-weight-or-heavier wool is that it takes a while to dry even sitting on top of a radiator. The fabric is fully 1/4" thick.

In other news, one of my best friends is getting married in a few months and we have been talking cardigans. (Did you know that if you google image search for bride cardigan the results are pretty awesome? It's true.) I also think cardigans are the greatest but am mysteriously short on ones I've made myself that are light enough to wear on a June evening. Clearly this cannot stand.


Contender #1 is a cashmere/merino/polyamide/viscose blend, very soft but sleek yarn. I don't see a ton of love for it on ravelry so I want to vouch for its character here—man, I could live in this yarn and no other.


Contender #2 is a cashmere/merino blend, quite puffy and spongy. It's just as soft as the other but in a fascinatingly different way that's difficult to describe.

I'll probably knit a few more with each yarn before I really-truly-finally-for-real make up my mind. Call me a weirdo with skewed priorities, but swatching is one of my favourite parts of knitting a garment.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Woeful Wednesday

I wanted some high-quality sick person comfort knitting, so I picked out some Shetland Aran in an oatmealy sheep colour and got going on some sideways garter stitch mitts.

Cuff edge

I trimmed the cuff with the easiest of easy lace edgings, which looks fascinating and sculptural in a sturdy yarn at this gauge.

Thumb gusset

I short-rowed a thumb gusset that closely resembles my regular in-the-round one, only sideways.


It wasn't until I had already started the second mitt that I realized I'd used just over three-quarters of my available yarn to finish just over one-half of the total knitting.

If anyone needs me, I'll be unknitting in the corner. Heh.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Happy Valentine's Day, internet! I am writing to you from beneath a pile of blankets. No interesting celebration for me today thanks to the cold I picked up over the weekend.


No real piecing progress to report, either. Over the last few days I sewed a grand total of about 24" in (coughing) fits and starts. I did drink about two gallons of tea, though.


And I slowly finished a few mittens. These are their cuffs (the central one is unblocked as it awaits its mate). I was moved to knit mittens by a fabulous book that Kate Davies reviewed a few weeks ago, which is full of the most incredible knitted and embroidered and crocheted patterns—there are intricate geometric ones and swirly floral ones and stylized animal ones and they're all worked in the most brilliant colours. I suspect it is the kind of book where I'll be struck by something different every time I pick it up, but the first time I read through I was struck by the arrangement of some geometric patterns into checkerboard grids. So I picked a (rather sedate) palette and went to town.

Negative mittens

(The purled colourwork above that resembles zipper teeth is a new-to-me pattern from the book. I think in the future I might work this type of pattern in the mosaic style rather than carry both yarns in the patterned rounds, but that's only because of my laziness. It's a fantastic unobtrusive way to make a non-curling edge that reminds me in its appearance of Meg Swanson's purl-when-you-can technique.)

The book is lavishly illustrated with photographs of textiles and charted versions of the designs, in a way that encourages experiment and remixing and pastiche. So none of the above are jacked directly from the book, they're just loose adaptations roughly-in-the-style-of. I think I have a couple other pairs in me before I run out of checkerboard steam.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Sampling for a dreary Friday

Luscious, lustrous locks for fine crisp yarn:


And springy churn dashes to help counteract the gloom:

Churn dash beginnings

There's a lot of snow and "Arctic chill" in the forecast for this weekend, so maybe I'll have more to show by Monday!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

After 400m

This shawl-to-be is a shapeless grey blob right now, but I like the little scallops along the hypotenuse.

Tiny scallops

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Glovely thoughts

I celebrated my birthday week the other week by eating an enormous amount of cake, watching all of Arrested Development again, and knitting with some decadent yarn.

Backs of hands

It's Camelspin by Handmaiden, 70% silk and 30% camel. In the skein it feels heavy and sumptuous and it has some of that distinctive silky scroop. The camel portion of the yarn fuzzes up subtly with handling and is a different colour from the silk, so the finished fabric has a soft iridescence to it and changes colours at different angles.


What the yarn doesn't have is any memory or stretch whatsoever. Normally my feeling would be that it's inappropriate glove yarn for this reason; gloves tend to sag unless there's some built-in negative ease, and a resolutely unstretchy yarn won't give and bounce back the way a springy wool will. And if you favour non-ribbed cuffs like I do then unstretchy silk gloves are definitely going to bunch and sag on the palm side of the wrist, where the forearm narrows just below the base of the hand.

I won't claim that these are totally perfect despite all the reasons they shouldn't be, but I will show you the countermeasures I took to mitigate the yarn's natural tendency to make terrible gloves.

Palm and back

The very edge of the cuff has some bands of reverse stockinette because I was thinking about ganseys. The reverse stockinette bands want to pull in lengthwise even though the yarn would prefer to stretch out and never come back, so I added two more bands on the palm side at the wrist to delineate the palm from the cuff. When I wear them and bend at the wrist, the bands take up the slack created and absorb the bunching. (Score.)

The other countermeasure is that I picked a stitch pattern with a lot of squish and stretch. Each zigzagging purled stripe does the same thing as the reverse stockinette bands on a smaller scale, so the fabric ended up feeling supple and stretchy after all. The plain stockinette palms feel in danger of sagging when I wear the gloves, but the sagging is held in check by the clinginess of the backs of the hands and the bands at the wrists.

The fingers took a few tries to get right. Even an eighth of an inch too short felt constricting and awful, so I erred on the side of making them slightly too long. (Too short means that I couldn't ball my hands into fists; too long means freer motion!) I put little finger stitches on hold about three eighths of an inch below where I began the rest of the fingers, again to mitigate sagginess in the palm.

Anyway, the subtle fit problems and measures to counteract them flee my mind as soon as I put them on, because the fabric feels beautiful against my skin. I would never want to knit anything not meant to be worn against the skin out of this yarn; what a waste of that downy halo it would be. I do want to knit another pair in a tightly-spun and bouncy wool yarn, though.