Monday, June 28, 2010

Free Pattern: Fairy Lights

I love sudden flashes of inspiration. The type that makes you put down everything else and create this genius thing you've just dreamed up. This hat is one of those ideas. I'm not sure exactly where it came from, but last week a slouchy pixie hat seemed like the best idea in the world. Kind of wacky, yes, but also really cute. And since it wasn't too difficult to make, I'm sharing the pattern notes with you!

I'm calling it the Fairy Lights hat, but secretly I refer to it as 'slouchy in front, pixie in back'.

To make one, you'll need:
- 1 skein of Cascade 220 (220 yards, worsted weight)
- A set of US 7 / 4.5 mm double points
- 3 stitch markers

The finished hat measures 22 inches around with a gauge of 22 st/28 rows = 4 inches in stockinette.

CO 96 st. Join to knit in the round, being careful not to twist.

Mark the beginning of the round with a stitch marker

Hat Band:
Work in (K1, P1) for 1 inch.

Main Section:
Work (K2, M1) 18 times, then knit to end of round. 114 stitches total.

Knit even for 4 inches, or until the hat measures 5 inches from the brim.

(Knit 38, place marker) twice, knit to end of round.

Crown Decreases:
Row 1: (SSK, K to 2 st before next marker, K2tog) three times.
Row 2: Knit.

Repeat these two rows until there are 6 st left, ending with row 1.

K2tog until 1 stitch remains. Cut yarn and pull through the loop.

Weave in ends and pretend to be a pixie (or even a gnome)!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Isn't That A Little Big For A Baby Sweater?

Between my nerdy little spinning project and making more baby hats, I have plenty of things to make at the moment. But what am I really working on right now? Spinning and knitting a sweater for myself. So much for maintaining a reasonable number of works in progress.

At this point, I'm done spinning the yarn and have just started the sweater. The yarn is from 8 ounces of a wonderfully tweedy roving that I purchased at the Midwest Alpaca Festival, which I made into a slightly lumpy two-ply bulky-weight. I don't have a lot of this yarn, but it should be enough to make a small version of the Liesl sweater.

Maybe you won't be surprised that I could not wait to cast this sweater on when I tell you it was designed by Ysolda Teague. (All I can say is that there are worse things to obsess about that knitting every pattern in a particular designer's catalog.) But it really is a lovely design and very flexible when it comes to yardage. Which is good, because I don't have a lot of this yarn.

The one thing I'm already starting to regret about knitting this sweater is that, due to the shortage in yarn, I won't be able to make a version that is most flattering to my figure. I'll probably end up with a short-length, short-sleeve sweater, when I would really like a moderate-length, 3/4-sleeve sweater.

This is especially weighing on my mind after reading this wonderful Fit to Flatter series of tutorials. I highly recommend this tutorial and its guidance for choosing the right sweater design (or making the right modifications) for your body type. While I don't think I'll be using her advice for this particular sweater, I will definitely be keeping her extremely helpful tips in mind for the next sweater I make.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

She has a Plan

It's been one of those weeks. The type that is hard on my brain and my body, so all I want to do when I come home is lay on the sofa and stare into space. It's times like these, when I have no creative spark but a huge need to do something, that I am glad I made a plan. And that plan involves lots of baby knitting.

Baby knitting is great because it's instant gratification meets tiny cuteness. Plus, a lot of great baby patterns, like the Baby Surprise Jacket above and the Magic Slippers below, are really quite simple to knit. All of that garter stitch makes for perfect zombie knitting. And did I mention how cute everything is?

So thankfully, I need to crank out several more hat/bootie sets this summer because I have a feeling that trying to finish my PhD may just turn me into a full-time zombie. In the meantime, these little woolies are ready to be shipped off to new homes and tiny new owners! Yay, tiny brains... I mean... tiny babies!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

My Nerdy Spinning Project

I showed you two lovely blue/brown skeins of handspun a few weeks ago, but failed to tell you that they are actually part of a larger spinning project that I am currently working on. Let me take a moment now to fill you in on the entire project.

I have a total of four rovings that I am spinning and each roving represents a different Hogwarts house founder: (clockwise from the top left) Slytherin, Hufflepuff, Gryffindor, and Ravenclaw. Totally nerdy, I know, but a good excuse to get some spinning done and work with a variety of colors. The blue/brown yarn I showed off is obviously Ravenclaw and today I get to show off Gryffindor's yarn:

I am over the moon about this yarn, which I spun from a carded batt by Hobbledehoy. The silk noil makes the texture in these singles spectacular and crazy-fun to spin! I really need to exercise restraint and not buy more batts until I spin some of the roving I already own. Admittedly, this gives me even more motivation to get spinning!

Since I spun Ravenclaw as a Navajo-ply and Gryffindor as singles, I think that Slytherin needs to be a plain old two-ply. I still have no idea about Hufflepuff's roving. Maybe I'll throw a curveball and try out core spinning or coils. I guess you'll just have to wait and see!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

The Beauty of Cables

Maybe I should have titled this post 'The Beauty of Ysolda' because I just finished my ninth pattern by this designer, the Gretel hat. This pattern has been on my to-knit list for a long time and it lived up to all of my expectations for how great it would be. I love this hat so much that it is going to be hard to give it to the friend I made it for.

Knitting Gretel has done nothing to cure me of my Ysolda Fever. Besides designing such beautiful knitwear, Ysolda's abilities shine in all of the little details. Take the increases and decreases on this hat, for example. The pattern has you increase two stitches over two rows to the left of the each knit ridge of the hat band, making it look as if the cable section starts organically.

The decreases on the crown are just as seamless. You decrease two stitches over two rows so that your stitches miraculously disappear into the cable motif. I'm going to have to remember these two tricks for future cablework.

So now I'm down to only 11 Ysolda patterns on my to-knit list, which does not include knitting a second Gretel for myself. I keep thinking that I should be making more items of my own design, but that's probably too ambitious of a plan until I finish my PhD. So in the meantime, I'll be happy working my way through those 11 patterns.