The heat isn’t keeping me down

Here in Spain we’re experiencing a heat wave. It gets up to the 100s in the afternoon. It hasn’t stopped me from knitting the heck out of my gansey. You know, that Arguyle I never stop blogging about because I AM STILL KNITTING IT. Yes, ganseys take lots of time. I’m on the final sleeve and I haven’t let the hot weather keep me away from it.

This is what I get for parking it for about two months or so after I finished the first sleeve. I don’t know where it came from, but suddenly I have the determination to finish this darn sweater ASAP.

Oh, yeah, I bought a new sweater’s worth of yarn. Maybe that’s why…

I like summer for knitting sweaters. I have lots more free time to knit and if I finish them in the summer, they’re blocked and ready to wear when the colder weather comes. Here in Valladolid, we have lots more cold weather than warm weather, actually.

Anyway, if you’re having a hot summer, here’s my advice to keep on knitting some wool sweaters:

If you live alone or if you can get away with it, get used to let’s say, wearing almost nothing at all. Underwear will do.

Position yourself so that the sweater touches you as little as possible. I position myself on the sofa cross-legged, leaning my back against the arm of the sofa, sweater to the left side, knitting in front of me (this only works for sleeves attached to in-the-round sweaters, by the way). If you’re knitting the front or back of a sweater, sit up properly in your furniture and let the fabric drape to your left or right side, not on your lap. This requires knitting with your torso turned. It’s not ergonomic, but if you’re in good health, have no back or joint issues, you can do it, just as long as you take a break from doing this every 20 minutes or so. If you lose track of time when you knit, set an egg timer or an alarm on your phone to remember to take a break.

If it’s a rainy, unusually cold day, use that time to focus on your sweater, not some piddly little project like socks or something, which are really ideal for hot days.

That’s my take on summer knitting with wool.

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Can you believe I’ve never knitted socks with rainbow yarn?

Knitting some socks with rainbow yarn is a first for me. I have no idea why, really. All these years I’ve been knitting (lots of socks) and it never occurred to me to do it. A while ago, perhaps thinking about this (I can’t remember) I bought some Regia sock yarn that is rainbow and I also bought some sock yarn from the Danish chain store Tiger with the same color theme. When I casted on my vanilla socks, I chose the Tiger yarn and also decided to start them from the toe.

A long time ago, my go-to vanilla sock pattern was always Kate Atherley’s Basic Ribbed Socks. It is, as the designer says in her pattern, interesting enough to knit but not so hard you have to pay attention to it all the time. Since I’ve always had to alter that pattern to make bigger socks for my wider feet, a couple of years ago I just gave up all together on using her pattern and went with my own vanilla sock design, which very happily lives in my brain. That vanilla sock formula in my brain is leg down, though. So, now I’m working out my own toe-up vanilla formula. I’ve decided to do this because sometimes it’s useful to knit toe-up, especially if you’re not sure if you have enough yarn to finish a pair: make the legs slightly shorter and suddenly, you have enough yarn, anyway.

The Tiger sock yarn, which leans towards the “too much polyamide” end of the spectrum for me (25%), is beautifully colorful nonetheless, and, actually, you don’t even notice the synthetic portion. Another thing I like about this yarn is that it’s made of wool that we really all SHOULD be knitting socks with. It’s sturdy.

Here’s the beginning of my toe:

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Happy rainbow colors, just in time for summer.

I finished another Spare Pocket, this time I customized it

I’ve made my pattern Spare Pocket customizable for people who want to knit something other than stripes. I put a mathematical formula to use for customized bags in the pattern at the very end, in an appendix. I’m a very big fan of mosaic patterns and I really like mosaic designs in garter stitch. My customized bag is slightly bigger than the original striped pattern, big enough to carry my iPad. I used Barbara Walker’s “Trend” mosaic pattern for this one.

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That’s about all the bag knitting I’m going to do for a while. I’ve already casted on a vanilla sock.

That’

Summah knitting mojo

That’s how we Mainahs say “summer.” It’s SUMMAH. In Spain we say verano.

My “summah” or “verano” knitting mojo is starting to kick in. It’s beautiful weather, I’ve got some steaks marinating, I’m wearing shorts, and I’m motivated to knit. This afternoon I’ve been working on my mosaic Spare Pocket. I’ve got to the shoulder strap so I expect this bag to be done soon. Then I will add the appendix to the pattern so that any mosaic pattern can be used instead of the stripes. The stitch pattern I chose, from Barbara Walker’s Third Treasury of Knitting Patterns, is called “trend.” I really like how the bag is knitting up with the Katia New Cancun yarn:

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I’ve said that my knitting mojo is “kicking” in because it’s not back in full swing just yet. When I’m knitting the way I usually do, I have one of each of the following projects in progress at the same time:

1) garment (usually a sweater)

2) sock

3) accessory (bag, scarf, shawl)

4) crochet project

I don’t have any socks in progress and no crochet going. My mosaic blanket has been put in time out for about 8 months and so I don’t think it counts as a project in progress. I think scrap yarn is even holding the live stitches for it.

This weekend I want to get going on the final sleeve of Arguyle. I’ve left it untouched for quite a few weeks.

Time to grill some steaks.

13 June was World Wide Knit in Public Day and…

Finally I got to participate with my knitting group, La Quedada Puce-lana.  This year, our group leader and owner of the tiradelovillo online yarn shop (check out her shop if you live in Spain, it’s awesome) decided to organize an event in Renedo de Esgueva, a small town just outside the city of Valladolid.

We spent the afternoon with music, lots of knitting, a yarn bombing, Mickey and Minnie Mouse entertaining the children, and lots of laughs. There was a craft market. I of course bought some yarn from tiradelovillo. I got some Opal self-striping sock yarn (2 skeins) and some more DMC Natura Just Cotton, because I can’t get enough of the colors.

When it was time to knit together, I whipped out my rainbow stripy Hitchhiker. Everyone else was crocheting. Crochet is indeed a good thing to do when the weather is warm.

I made lots of progress on my Hitchhiker.

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Spare Pocket, my new pattern

I haven’t blogged in a while because I haven’t had much to say since the last time I posted. Also, I’ve been very busy working on some projects. One of them is done and can be found in my Ravelry Pattern Store. The pattern is called “Spare Pocket,” and I think a lot of knitters will love it. For starters, it is knit flat in garter stitch (99.9% knit stitches, .1% purl stitches). People who hate sewing knitted pieces together will like how there’s no sewing assembly for the knitted parts. I have found it truly convenient to just knit the bag together. The only sewing is for the button and the fabric liner. Both sewing tasks, if desired, are very simple and don’t take up much time. For the liner all one needs is some cotton fabric, which is very easy to sew by hand if a sewing machine isn’t available. I most certainly don’t have a sewing machine, so I can attest to how relatively quick the liner goes in when sewing it by hand.

Here’s what Spare Pocket looks like:

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Both blue and green bags are made with about two balls of DMC Natura Just Cotton. I chose this yarn because I — like everyone else that has seen it — adore the colors. In reality, any yarn can be used, depending on the bag’s desired size. A yarn with a weight similar to the DMC Natura Just Cotton’s will give the gauge and dimensions called for in the pattern. A heavier yarn knit up at a bigger gauge will produce a larger bag. Of course, if you use a cotton yarn, it’s truly ideal for knitting in the summer heat. Minimal sweat on the hands.

Usually when I decide to write up a pattern it’s because I came up with the design out of practical reasons. In the summer I can be seen walking around town with a small or medium-sized bag because I often don’t have enough pocket space on my summer clothing. Pretty much every summer I buy a new one of these bags in one of my favorite stores. I have quite the collection. This year I wanted to knit one, but I didn’t want to sew it together and I knew I wanted it to be fairly simple and easy to make. I think this is the best thing I could have ever come up with for myself. My bag collection is now infinitely proportional to my yarn and fabric purchases.

Of course, I call my new creation “Spare Pocket” because that’s exactly how I view its role in my daily life: a substitute for the pockets I usually have available in autumn and winter — on my pants, on my coat, etc.

I love knitting this bag so much that I’ve actually casted on another one. This time, instead of making stripes, I’m using a mosaic knitting pattern from one of Barbara Walker’s stitch dictionaries. When I’m finished making this Spare Pocket I’m going to update the pattern so that it includes a formula for customization and personalization. This way, any knitter can use different mosaic patterns and whatever number of casted on stitches. Also, instead of DMC Natura Just Cotton, I’m using Katia New Cancun, a wonderful cotton blend that also has a delightful and varied color palette. Its weight is similar to the DMC cotton and it knits up at the same gauge for me. It’s also cheaper by volume but I think that’s beside the point. DMC isn’t all that expensive to begin with.

I can’t really think of any unpleasant step in the process of making this bag. For me, it’s all fun from start to finish. First, I went to my local yarn shop to pick out my colors and spent about twenty minutes holding different balls of the stuff next to each other to see how I wanted to combine them. Seriously, with a color palette like DMC’s, it’s very entertaining. Then, when I finished knitting the bag, I spent some time at the fabric shop to pick out what I wanted for the liner. At the sewing shop I sifted through thousands of cool buttons searching for the special ones I wanted to use on the bags. Just in case you don’t believe me when I say that sewing in a fabric liner is easy, here’s a preview of one of the photos I included in the pattern to help people with this optional step:

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As can be seen in the photo above, I’ve designed the bag so that there is a visible purl bump ridge just below the bind off edge all around the bag. This makes it very simple to whip stitch the liner to the inside top.

I hope that others have as much fun with knitting this project as me. The customization and personalization options are endless. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of making Spare Pockets for myself and other knit-worthy people.

When I update the pattern I’ll be sure to post again. I’ll also be sure to report on when I get it translated to Spanish. I just need to sit down for a few hours to go through the process of translating it, those few hours I don’t have just yet. I will soon, though, I promise. 🙂

If you’ve already bought a copy of the pattern, don’t worry, when I update it you get the changes with no additional cost. 🙂