A few weeks ago I found this adorable purse (read knitting project bag) tutorial on Pinterest. Last weekend I gathered materials and started cutting up fabric. It was fabulous… until I realized that there is a limit to my success when I ‘wing it’ :
It did look similar to the panels in the tutorial… but there was just something about it that I couldn’t put my finger on. So, I took a little break.
Once I cooled off (and knit half a mitten) I realized that there is nothing wrong with making a pattern (even though I reeeeaaaaalllly didn’t want to) and finally, two days later, I was ready to make the effort.
And what a difference!
The second one worked out so well that I made two more, quilted them, bound them, installed a zipper and sewed them together, all in two days!
The final product is super cute, and just the right size; fits my yarn ball and mits quite perfectly!
If you want to make one too, I’ve spared you the trouble of making your own pattern – voila, my pattern in pdf. Cut pieces include 1/4″ seam allowance. Don’t forget to send me pictures if you decide to tackle it too!
As I mentioned, I chose the Snowflake Pixie Bonnet because I was looking for a quick and easy knit, which it is. But, off course, I couldn’t simply leave it as it was…
Original Pattern calls for 137 – 229 metres of Classic Elite Yarns Pirouette knit with 4 and 5.5 mm needles at 15 stitches and 16 rows to 5cm. I ended up using metres of Diamond Earth Collection Ecco Cashmere (the ball that wouldn’t end) with 2.75 and 3.25 mm needles at gauge.
- I used a cashmere yarn because it still has a bit of a halo, but is less sticky than the Pirouette, plus I had it on hand.
- I modified the lace pattern to make it even easier (by repeating the first snowflake pattern (rows 1 – 7) to create sort of a stacking yarn-over ribbed lace)
- I added icord ties, which took longer but will be more durable than the loose strands of yarn used in the original pattern (as cashmere is a shorter staple than the original yarn).
I always learn something with every pattern, and this tiny bonnet was no different!
- Simple doesn’t always mean boring (think Baby Surprise Sweater), but this time, it did. I really had to push myself to finish – if it wasn’t for babies growing so fast, I can see this hat reaching heirloom status on my needles in my knitting chest! But, if you like the simplicity and meditation of stockinette in a plain colour… this might just be the pattern for you!
- I had never done a 3 needle bind off (I typically avoid any sort of seems and bind offs if possible) and it was AMAZING! it makes me want to bind of my work – so stretchy, tidy and even. Delicious!
- Icords. I’ve only done them a few times, and since learning from videos annoys me most of the time, I had only really looked at photos. Well. It turns out that if you knit the icord with dpns you don’t have to worry about slipping the stitches back and forth, you just sliiiide the needle and go! Slow on the uptake, I know.
This weekend I finished the Cowl Sweater! As I mentioned before, this wool has been through the gauntlet, and after 5 years on the needles it is finally a sweater. The Cowl Sweater is a blend of Kate Gilbert’s Wisteria and Cecily Glowik MacDonald’s Idlewood, more heavy on the Idlewood. I was looking for something long, warm and cozy, so I took the basic top-down, cowl tunic structure of Idewood and then added the cables used in Wisteria to give it a little bit of visual interest.
For the wool I used 18.69 balls (I just got a digital scale. Believe it or not, this pullover weighs in at 934 g. Nearly a kg… and for you imperialists out there, 2.2lbs.) of Berroco Blackstone Tweed Chunky yarn in 6602 colourway, which is sort of a tan tinted, grey tweed.
I’ll give you my thoughts from top to bottom, keeping in mind that I have been knitting this sweater for 4 or more years and am rather sick of it:
- Hood: If I had to do it again, I would make it longer, I wouldn’t make it a straight forward cowl, and I wouldn’t make it seamless. There is not enough structure in the neck, and the front of the cowl is a little too high when the hood is up for it to show off the cabling. As you can see in the photos, it looks a little jowly in the front. If I could go back, I would have short rowed the whole hood, making the front only long enough for the cabling and the back much more bulky. Probably would have saved on yarn and weight also. In the end, I used a crochet chain along the inside of the neckline picking up the first, second and fourth stitches, then repeating (as I wanted the neck gathered slightly – every other purl bump was too tight).
- Hood Strings: I also set in hood strings (which have no function other than beauty as they are set in with a few crochet stitches on the front of the neck.) They visually balance out the cables with the plain-ness of the long torso. Also, if you are going to do this, remember to place the strings so they drape over the breast, rather than close to the middle (I had to undo one because it looks very silly coming from the middle.)
- Sleeves: The sleeves are raglan, and in the Idlewood pattern are short, and those in Wisteria are long. I tried the short sleeve look, but with the bulk and the cable of the sweater, it looked unfinished (plus, my arms would be cold.) So, I made a 3/4 length sleeve, hoping to make some cute arm warmers to finish the look… but without arm warmers, the arms just looked too short. Long sleeves it is! Spent waaaay too much time ripping out and rekniting. Also, I knit the sleeve cables according to the ‘bottom cable’ chart in the sweater. This makes a natural flared sleeve, and I just kept on going with the cable until the cables came together at the back of the sleeve. (I had originally started knitting the cable up higher to continue with the cable for a longer period of time, but I couldn’t make the stitch count work, and that meant that the flare would end with a few inches of straight knitting).
- Under Arms: the underarms are a little loose, especially if I’m not wearing a bra. This is in part because of the structureless neckline, and once I realized I needed to give it some support it was too late to lengthen the sleeves (meaning I had already bound them off, and I wasn’t going to rip the goddamn things out again!) If I could go back, I would lengthen the sleeves just a touch… but wrist warmers help.
- Torso: If I had this to do over, I wouldn’t make it quite so long, as the finished length is more like a dress, which stands out a little too much in an outfit. I do like the waist shaping supplied by Idlewood.
- Cables: I finished all of the edges with a 3 stitch icord embellishment except for the hood because it didn’t really need it since it was the cast on edge … and I didn’t feel like picking up. We’ll see if I change my mind once everything is finished. (… I changed my mind. It looks much better with the icord bind off)
For its maiden voyage and photoshoot I wore a tank top beneath, skin hugging Volcom jeans and tall, chunky, brown boots. I am curious about wearing it like a dress, but that will take a bit of shopping for the right tights, and perhaps knitting some boot liners to go with. It was warm enough for this (West Coast) February day as long as I was moving about. The yarn was soft enough on my skin to wear indoors (usually I find wool kind of itchy when I’m warm). I was a little surprised that, despite being out in the park and in several stores, nobody commented on it.
Part of that might have been my own confidence in the thing. Over the length of time I knitted with this yarn I realized that the colour of the yarn isn’t perfect for my skin tone. In the future I would ask to see the yarn in natural light, and maybe bring a small mirror for a purchase this big. I’m also not sure the pattern is really my style anymore, but I guess that’s what I get for parking a project in my basket for so many years!
Overall, it is an incredibly functional sweater, but it would be a better fit for someone who is a little shorter, bustier and wider than me. Looking at the pictures, I do really like it! So, maybe with a little time-out in my cupboard (till next winter?!) I’ll be more enthusiastic.
My LYS has two knitting circles per week, one on Monday and one on Wednesday. I usually go to Wednesday because I never have my self together enough to go on Monday. But today, today by 10 am I had eaten, did my hairs and dressed myself in not one but two knitted garments… only to find that Mad About Ewe has a soul; they are closed for Family day (which I clearly forgot about).
And so, it’s just me and you today. A circle of two! Maybe that’s more of a row? Anyway, here’s what I have on the needles today:
This is the beginnings of the simple pattern, Snowflake Pixie Bonnet, that I’m knitting for baby Emma out of some cashmere I had left over from Pretty Thing. I picked a simple pattern because I thought it would be quick to knit up. That was 6 days ago. Turns out simple patterns aren’t sparkly enough to keep this bird engaged!
But this! The Folkloric Tunic I started in 2012 is soooo fun to knit. I’m almost done the front and back panels (short rows, slipped stitches and two yarns, YUM!) and will be picking up for the woven bits on the bottom next.
Soooo, that’s what I’ll be doing this morning What’s on your needles?
Hi. I’m a little ashamed at my erratic posting behaviour over the years. I have this dream that I’m very consistent: I’m knitting up a storm, posting all the time, wearing sumptuous, complement worthy, hand knitted gear daily. But I’m not. In fact, for now, I’m just aiming not to be ashamed. I’m here. Good enough!
Over the past couple of weeks, I have been knitting up a storm. I’ll spare you the play by play, but in short, I had gone back to music school, finished semester one and at my return to semester two, had a wee bit of a breakdown. The breakdown showed me that I want to go about life differently, which has resulted (so far) in a lot less doing, a lot more being, and thus a glorious reunion with knitting.
I always seem to come back to knitting…
The first project I picked up was the tunic (well, maybe I knit a few rows on the armwarmers). I had one sleeve to finish, and it was nice to just knit. But then as I neared the end of the knitting part, I got a little restless. This ‘sweater’ has been ongoing for… 4? maybe 5 years? I bought the yarn in 2011? It was going to be this: Mahonia by Marie Wallin (Rowan) (photo credit Marie Wallin / Rowan because I erased mine in a fit of photo tidying one day):
I got just past the pouch (it’s knit from the bottom up) and realized the poncho would weigh a thousand pounds and probably fall right off my body. So, I tried this:
In 2014. And I’ve been knitting it ever since. So, I feel restless. I’m skeptical of something good coming good coming out of the yarn. Also, I’m not sure that the whole thing is really my style anymore (classic, right?!) I’ve tried it on… and it doesn’t exactly spark joy. Ugh. It makes it such a slog to finish! Today, it’s not done-done, but it’s at the blocking stage. So, voila:
So I’m hoping that the sleeves block a touch longer, and the hood a little bigger. And maybe with the right jeans, and the right boots… we’ll see!
Back so soon? I know. I made a huge deal out of this sweater. Honestly, I don’t even know why I was so worried. It knit up like it should be and it looks just about right. I put it on and it was way to big. Perfect. He might pass out from heat exhaustion… but he’ll have a sweater. Perhaps I will bestow upon him some belated (or early, depending on your perspective) Christmas cheer when we head on our camping trip to Tofino.
Et voila. My mostly symmetrical Seamless Saddle-Shouldered Sweater, by Elizabeth Zimmermann (pattern from Knitting Without Tears). Inner sweater ends to be sewn in after it’s dry, hole patched in sleeve, and more pics to come when it’s had its first wear.
What to choose next… maybe my tunic, then we can be wool buddies
PS: I have also come to notice that most of my photos are missing from the blog. They used to be on flickr, I guess (don’t know what I was thinking really) and I have since deleted a lot of my knitting photos, thinking they were safe on the blog. Wrong. And so, I’m beginning the slow process of finding the photos I’m talking about and putting them in, or commenting them out. I’m so irritated.
Yup, it’s been a while, blah, blah, blah, I made work my life, blah, blah, I was blind and now I see, blah, blah. Let’s focus on the important: I have a lot of projects sitting on my shelves, all at various states of difficult and I’ve decided to finish them all.
This sweater, for example, was a christmas present for Jeff last year. I am at the point where I have to decrease for the shoulders, but I don’t know how fast to decrease and I risk knitting a bunch of sweater that I will have to rip out. And, this sweater has a hole in it. A HOLE. As in, a knitters nightmare kind of hole.
Then there’s this sweater, who is a blend of Wisteria and Idlewood. She has been on the needles for so long it has suffered previous incarnations. I am not sure if she’s too long or not – I am strongly against sweaters that bunch around my middle – and I have no idea what to do with the arms.
And, while we’re on the sweater train, I might as well introduce this guy, who’s been struggling into existence for… a year and a half maybe? Mmmm. He’s a weird pattern I found in Vogue, and I have a fear that I won’t ever wear him. Also, the construction is strange and scary.
So instead of working on any of those, I started a handspun blanket – an adult sized Tweed Baby Blanket – that should take just about forever. I’m enjoying the process of combing out and blending different fibers then knitting it. Very satisfying. However, I feel guilty when I work on an easy project when there are so many hard things rotting on the shelf.
Another cheater project is this scarf, which I justified starting due to the age of the sock yarn that never got made into these mitts because I’m impatient with my ability to carry two colours at a time.
And of course knitting isn’t all that I use to spread myself so thin! Voila, my first quilt. I have been working on it a little over the last month, but it’s hard. I made the pattern myself, and it’s impossible to piece without bunching up the corners.
Finally, allow me to introduce my needlefelted dragon. The problem here is that his neck isn’t very strong, because I didn’t felt the inside densely enough, so now I’m having to refelt it… which is boring and not pretty. The dragon is an attempt to use up all sorts of fiber I had on hand so that the thing-we-shall-not-name has less stuff to carve holes in.
Which brings me to the motivation behind all of this productivity: if I can’t have the yarn, nothing can. Not even little flying destroyers of dreams. Not to mention that I’ve sort of grown out of the stash phase… I know, it sounds a bit crazy, but I am not mobile when my craftroom is this full….
And I’d like to be a little more mobile. So clean though, right!? Let project Finish All Projects begin!
In short, yes. I have knit… have I finished any knitting? Yes. I finished one scarf. Do I have a picture of it? No. Have I started any new projects? Yes. A sweater for Jeff. Do I have any pictures of that? No. And I think there were a pair of socks from the winter as well. And no, no picture of those either. So um… what exactly have I been doing?
Well, working. I started a business is January of 2012 and it kind of… took over my life! Not in a bad way, just in the sort of way that when they say it takes about 5 years to get a business off the ground, they aren’t kidding. I’m on year three now, and while the traction is consistent, it still takes almost all of my attention!
So, onto today. Today I finished winding on some handspun so that I can finish the centre of that blanket I started in 2012! I also started combing the contrast colour (Silver Silk, Silver Blueface Lester & Black Shetland). It’s a lot more work than buying the roving pre-combed, but it is sooooo much easier on my hands when I’m spinning! I’ll post some photos of the contrasting colour when I get a spool or two. For now, here’s the handspun and I’m off to knit away at the centre…
Have you ever felt like you had a lot of loose ends? I’m not just talking about yarn… like loose ends in your life? Old bank accounts with $2.45 cents in them, piles of filing dating back two years, divorce papers to sign, student loans to pay?
I felt this in 2011 when Justin and I separated and decided to divorce; I just wanted everything to be squared away for my new life. What I discovered was not only a bunch of physical loose ends, but that the internet provides an endless supply of even more – old email accounts, random emails from old newsletter subscriptions and software from ancient website builds, multiple amazon accounts, and in my case a bunch of things in my married name. Once I started shutting down accounts and deleting my name off of newsletter subscriptions, I just couldn’t stop!
Which lead to the great Flickr F*ck up of 2011. I don’t remember what happened very clearly… but I decided that since I didn’t want to pay for a flickr account, and flickr wasn’t letting me see all of my photos, I would just close my account. This was secretly disastrous, because many of the photos on my blog were linked to from flickr, but since I wasn’t really posting that often, I completely forgot.
Then, Justin wanted a copy of the photos I had on my computer (since I was mostly the picture taker), so I went through and copied photos, taking the time to purge extraneous photos of everything else, including random (but pertinent for a blog post) knitting photos, thinking that they were on the blog. Well. Wasn’t I surprised when I started tidying up the blog only to find a bunch of posts… like nearly all of them… with broken flickr links for photos.
Oops… didn’t think that out very well! So, I have been making my way through posts, replacing the photos I do have (either with those I did keep, or new ones I took) and unfortunately replacing the irreplaceable with this…
It’s kind of sad… but makes for an interesting story! Please feel free to comment if you find another post with broken image links.
When I first started knitting these socks, I hated them. I hated the pattern and the colour and the stiffness of the yarn. But now… now that I have one on my foot, I love them (it). I love the pattern, and the colour… and it really hugs my ankle and instep. What if… what if I like knitting lace socks that take me twice as long to knit up?