Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Winter is coming.

Last week, the temperatures dipped to the low-60s with some rain and it felt like perfect weather to start a pair of mittens for myself. This week’s weather is a completely different story; temperatures are back in the mid-80s with sunshine. Regardless of the weather right now, winter is coming and I’m going to be happy to have these mittens when it does!

One completed colorful hand knit mitten below a mitten in progress on bamboo double point knitting needles next to a ball of wool yarn on a white background.

The yarn is Madelinetosh Tosh Merino DK in the colorway Electric Rainbow, which I bought at a local yarn shop a couple weeks ago. The pattern is North Iceland Mittens by Marcia Lewandowski in the book “Folk Mittens.”

The pattern was written for stranded colorwork, but I’m knitting it in only the one yarn. I like the shape of the mittens and think the simple two-by-one rib and stockinette stitch highlight the variety of colors within the yarn. This simplified version of the pattern is easy to follow and has worked up quickly. It would be fun to make the intended colorwork version, even using this same colorful yarn again along with some solid colors.

A hand wearing a completed colorful hand knit mitten in the foreground, in front of a mitten in progress on bamboo double point knitting needles next to a ball of wool yarn on a white background.

The only other change I made to the pattern was to move the base of the thumb up by nine rows. I was concerned that the top of the ribbing and the base of the thumb might be a little too close for the way I like to wear my mittens. I like them loose and a little big! As I look at them now, I could have cut that increase down to four or five rows and still ended up with a comfortable mitten, but I don’t dislike them the way they are.

Before I started knitting the mittens, I was unsure whether the colors would pool. On the first mitten there is some pooling but it’s not too obvious. On the second mitten, using the same skein of yarn, the pooling is much more noticeable. I think my gauge changed just enough to make a visual difference.

One completed colorful hand knit mitten under a ball of wool yarn and next to a mitten in progress on bamboo double point knitting needles on a white background.

Overall, both mittens remind me of impressionist paintings and I’m really happy with the results. The fabric is so soft and cozy! They’re going to make me smile when I wear them.

Now, as I’m completing the second mitten, I’m thinking ahead to what I can do with the leftovers from the second skein. I could make a coordinating project such as a hat, or pick up some yarn in solid colors to make another pair of mittens using the original colorwork pattern. I may not need the second skein to finish this pair of mittens, and in that case I’ll need to decide whether to keep it, return it, or maybe exchange it for another colorway. So many choices!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

It's that time of year again.

It’s time to create something to donate to a fundraising event at my children’s school. This year they are having their usual auction but they are also having a wine event for parents and adult friends of the school. With this in mind, I set out to choose a pattern.

Pair of hand knit colorwork Drinkers Mitts in blue with details in white, yellow, purple, brown and orange on a white background.

On Ravelry, I found a great free pattern: Drinker’s Mitts by Jaime Kulick. They’re fun and practical at the same time, and will work well for either fundraiser.

I had a lot of fun knitting the mitts. I chose Cascade Yarns Cascade 220® Fingering yarn. I like the Cascade 220® line because it offers a good, basic wool at a reasonable price and comes in a wide range of colors. (No, I’m not affiliated with them.) It was fun to browse through the colors online while I was having a sick day at home.

Hand knit blue cuff and beginnings of colorwork on Drinkers Mitts using bamboo double point knitting needles next to balls of blue, orange and white yarn on a white background.

The school’s main color is navy blue, so I kept that as the background color just as in the pattern’s photos. I made a point of using yellow and white, which are two of the school’s accent colors. The colors for the main local university are navy blue, orange, and white, and that helped me choose the orange for the bottom row of drinks. From there, it was a matter of choosing other colors that coordinated well while making sense for the drinks they represent: brown and purple.

Palm side of hand wearing knit colorwork Drinkers Mitt in blue with details in white, yellow, purple, brown and orange on a white background.

The pattern was easy to follow, and it was fun to say things like “It’s time for another round of beer!” (Get it? Round of knitting, not round of drinks! Ha!) The biggest change I made was to add three rounds of stockinette stitch in the background color after the last beer stein round; I didn’t want the foam on the top row to get lost in the ribbing. To make up for the extra length, I then knit only eight rounds of ribbing at the top instead of ten. The only other change was to switch the direction of the beer stein handles on the second mitt so the mitts are symmetrical.

Back of hand wearing knit colorwork Drinkers Mitt in blue with details in white, yellow, purple, brown and orange with second mitt out of focus on a white background.

I went through about half a skein of the navy blue background yarn, but only small amounts of yardage for the accent colors. This would be a great project for scrap yarn.

I’ve been asked if I’ll make a pair for myself, and I don’t think I will. They’re not really “me,” although I’ll keep the pattern in mind for gift knitting because I know a lot of people who would love them. In the meantime, I have a pair of mittens in the works that are more my style — blog post coming soon!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

No Rest for the Resting

After my success sewing a sundress last week, I was excited to sew another piece of clothing this week. Unfortunately, life had other plans. I caught a back-to-school bug from my youngest and it knocked me down for a few days. Yet as I look back at the week, it’s surprising to realize that I managed to do quite a bit.

I worked on the red socks some more. The first sock is done, and I’m about to start the heel flap on the second sock. I’m also one block closer to completing my hand-quilted quilt.

I decided what I’m going to make as a donation for my children’s school auction this year. The knitting pattern has been downloaded and the yarn has been ordered, so I’ll have more information about that coming soon!

I mentioned not long ago that two local shops moved recently. The fabric store re-opened relatively quickly, but the yarn shop has been closed for most of the summer as they renovated their new building. I finally managed to stop by both stores in their new locations.

Two skeins of Madelinetosh Tosh Merino DK wool yarn on a white background.

From the yarn shop, I picked up this Madelinetosh Tosh Merino DK Hand Dyed Yarn in the colorway Electric Rainbow (no affiliation). It was a definite splurge for me, but I think I’m still ahead of where I would be if they had been open for the past few months! I typically wear black coats, and I think this yarn with its black flecks will make a fun pair of mittens to go with many of my coat and scarf combinations.

Colorful floral jersey knit fabric arranged in a swirl.

And I found this colorful floral jersey knit in the fabric store. I’m still a novice at sewing with stretch fabrics, but I have a handful of patterns to try and very little corresponding fabric. One pattern in particular is standing out in my mind already and I’m excited to get started on it soon!

For now, I’m still taking it easy with plenty of rest and juice.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

A Sundress in September

Earlier this summer, I bought three yards of a silky fabric with the thought that it would be fabulous as a dress for a wedding I was going to attend. I forgot to write down any information about the fabric, unfortunately, but here it is. Isn’t it gorgeous?

Colorful fabric arranged in a swirl.

And then life got busy so the fabric sat, which wasn’t entirely a bad thing because I didn’t have a pattern in mind initially. I wanted something with large pattern pieces to show off the color changes, which run selvage to selvage, and I wanted something that would look less structured and more flowing.

I bought a pattern, then once I had a better look at the construction I decided against it. That pattern, which shall remain unnamed for now, called for up to three layers of fabric across the front, which is completely impractical for an outdoor event in July.

Then, after the wedding had come and gone, I picked up McCall’s M7405. I thought the combination of the draping in the pattern and the large pattern pieces would work well with the fabric. I chose View B, with the long-and-short hemline.

According to my measurements I needed to make a Large, but the pattern I had purchased only went up to Medium — of course! I double and triple checked measurements on both my body and the pattern pieces, worried that the dress wouldn’t fit correctly across my bust; I knew the dress was loose enough that it would be fine elsewhere. I ended up adding about an inch to the total circumference just to be safe, but I needn’t have bothered. Here’s the dress:

Woman outside wearing brightly colored sundress made from McCall's M7405 View B.

I cut the pattern pieces across the grain in order to accentuate the color changes. The dark blue is at the top because it goes better with my complexion than the yellow does. In addition, the color difference between the right side and the wrong side of the yellow isn’t as noticeable as that of the dark blue, which was a consideration with the hemline.

It billowed more than I expected, and had a bit of a nightgown vibe. A few days later, I decided to adjust it. I took in the side seams enough to bring it back to a true Medium, and shortened the hem to make it like View A.

Woman outside wearing brightly colored sundress made from McCall's M7405 View A.

The difference is amazing! Taking off the extra length gave the dress a lot more swing, which in turn made it lose the balloon effect. At first, I was disappointed to lose so much of the yellow, but I think narrowing the color palette really adds to the dress. I’m really excited to wear it now! Maybe the summer weather will come back for one last hurrah before fall truly sets in.