I’m a copycat!

Maybe I’m now on team, “me too!” You see, I’ve been procrastinating on casting on another sock for about two months now due to indecision. Then, one day, the nothingbutknit2 blog, hosted by a very prolific writer and knitter, showed her progress on a sock I just had to start knitting right away. The best part? It turns out the pattern is a freebie, authored by a very generous person who shared her work on Ravelry. The pattern is called “Widsith,” and it features a very easy to knit slip-stitch cable and garter stitch pattern.

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So, you know, the usual: I took the cable pattern from the original and I’m slapping it onto my own vanilla sock formula. I chose this nice green color with a German sock yarn from my stash called “On line” from what they call the “trend collection.” Anyway, I don’t really care about the brand. I bought it because it was a cheap 75% wool sock yarn.

Another notable thing about this sock pattern and its ability to speak to me through nothingbutknit2’s blog is that I suggested using twisted 1×1 rib instead of regular 1×1 rib, because she was unhappy with how the 1×1 rib was coming out. I generally despise 1×1 ribbing as she does.

So, thanks, nothingbutknit2, for inspiring me to begin a sock. I’m having lots of fun with the pattern. Also, notice how I followed my advice: I’m also sporting a twisted 1×1 rib pattern on the cuff. 🙂

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Sweater #10 = Done

I cannot believe I’m posting about the tenth sweater I have finished in 2017. First of all, I cannot believe I had so much yarn in my stash. Second of all, in the past I’ve always made one or two sweaters a year. Since I’ve moved to Spain I’ve added 14 sweaters to my wardrobe and 3 to José’s. It may seem like I’m a totally selfish knitter, but José actually has in total eight sweaters I’ve made for him. When I lived in the US I didn’t knit any sweaters for myself and they were all his. Once, I tried to knit a sweater for myself when I was living in the US and José talked me into giving it to him when it was finished. Another good rationalization is that I am the person doing the knitting and buying the yarn, so my hard work and investment makes me deserving of having more sweaters. Zero guilt.

The other exciting thing is that this sweater-wearing season I am going to debut a lot of sweaters. I finished most of my stuff in the “off-season.” I’m totally going to slum the knitting club this year.

Anyway, about the purple cardigan.

I decided I wanted a ton of buttons so I made 18 button holes that would fit around medium-sized buttons. The reason for having so many buttons on this cardigan is so I can change its look depending on how big or small I get this winter. At the moment for some weird reason I’m actually getting smaller. For example, remember the “Up and Down Crunch Sweater” I crocheted and designed? It fit me with zero ease about a month ago. Now it would fit me with 2″ of ease. Anyway, I’ve digressed. The buttons were a totally lucky find at the Chinese bazaar (that’s like a dollar store). In total they cost me about €1.75. They’re just the right color and they’re plastic so they’ll survive the washing machine nicely. The yarn I used was the discontinued Cascade 220 Superwash Quatro I bought four years ago or so. The “pattern” I “followed” was for the top-down raglan sweater in The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters by Ann Budd. I actually didn’t follow the directions exactly. I included the button bands in with the body of the sweater and I increased at the neckline gradually rather than casting on stitches all at once. I put moss stitch on the yoke and did the rest of the body in stockinette, which was extremely boring. I don’t think I’ll knit stockinette stitch flat ever again unless I somehow make a bad decision a second time!

I still have yarn left over from this project. Two skeins to be exact. I’ll have to figure out what to do with them. I’m pondering the One-Skein Wonders books.

I’m still not wearing my handmade sweaters, unfortunately. It’s October and unusually hot. Every day this week and next it will be 80 degrees F.

Better late than never

It’s Thursday morning. I don’t think it’s too late to share a WIP. Wednesdays for me are not ideal for blogging because I have a lot to do at work.

I finished the knitting on my purple cardigan and I washed it. Now I’m very gradually sewing the buttons onto it. With any luck I’ll have an FO Friday post about it if I can manage to get motivated to sew more buttons.

While the cardigan was drying, on the weekend, I cast on “St. Enda,” a by now classic Alice Starmore design. It looks so complicated! Forgive the bad photo, please, I have to figure out what went wrong with my camera.

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The reality is: no, it isn’t as difficult to knit as it looks. First of all, you can mostly knit without a cable needle. The only place where you need a cable needle is when there’s a fancy maneuver to cross the stitches out of order. Second of all, the sand stitch on either end of the sweater is very basic and not at all difficult to execute from memory. The honeycomb panels are also easy to do from memory. I only look at the chart for the Celtic knot panels and by now only superficially. I just follow where the purl stitches wind up on every right-side row. That’s the nice thing about making traveling stitches that are almost always paired with purl stitches. You always know that the purls are the background so you can easily figure out where the knit stitches wind up. That’s why I only have to follow where the purls are shifted to on the chart.

My favorite thing about this pullover, besides the bold Celtic knot, is the ribbing. It’s all cabled. The same happens for the collar. It’s just refreshing to knit up a ribbing that isn’t 1 x 1 or 2 x 2. I’ve waited twenty years or so to knit something designed by Alice Starmore. It won’t be the last time, that’s for sure. I suspect that I’m going to get into an Alice Starmore “mode” of sorts. I have many of her books and there are quite a few sweaters – including a really nice gansey – that I want to make for myself. The only problem is that I need to be a little less selfish and knit at least one for José. I know he wants a light blue sweater, so I’m planning my next project with him in mind. I’m trying to decide between two sweaters, one of them by Starmore and another by a different designer. We shall see! First, I should probably get this sweater done, right?

Review: The Art of Slip-Stitch Knitting by Faina Goberstein and Simona Merchant-Dest

The Art of Slip-Stitch Knitting by Faina Goberstein and Simona Merchant-Deste, Interweave, 2015, 176 pages. Grade: B+. Digital formats available.

The Art of Slip-Stitch Knitting is a pretty good book. I must admit, though, that it disappointed me a little. I wanted more stitch patterns in the dictionary. I would say that a large number of stitch patterns have been documented in other books. On the other hand, the authors made up several of their own for this book, which is a positive note worth emphasizing and really makes this title worth having. I suppose someone in the future will need to write the definitive tome on slip-stitch knitting with every single thing ever invented in it. I would love to have a reference book on that. Anyway, here’s how this book is organized: Each chapter, following the first one about how to slip-stitch knit, covers a particular style of slip-stitch knitting, a dictionary of stitch patterns that fits in that category, and ends with some patterns for garments and accessories that use some of the documented stitches.

Chapter 1, as I’ve mentioned, outlines the techniques employed in slip-stitch knitting. It covers a lot of techniques of how to execute stitches with success, offering advice on tension and the different effects that can be achieved by slipping with the yarn in front versus back, etc. I’m pretty sure this is the most thorough explanation of every aspect of these techniques and the illustrations show what it describes very well. There is even advice on color choices, with photos of bad combinations. I think anyone who is new to slipping stitches would benefit tremendously from this chapter.

The second unit is when the stitches and patterns start appearing. This one, called “Traditional Slip-Stitch Patterns,” offers a dictionary of stitches that reiterate a lot of what Barbara G. Walker and others have documented. I think it’s good that the authors included a chapter like this, sampling some of the older and well-known stitches, so that knitters that are new to the technique can have a useful starter set. For someone like me, who has been slipping stitches since the age of the dinosaurs, this section would have stood out for the patterns. Unfortunately, I didn’t see anything I’d like to make. Maybe in the future I’ll change my mind, but for now, I don’t want to make anything here. If you’d like to see all the designs in this book you should go to its Ravelry page and see everything that this text has to offer. There is a whole lot more here for women. More than likely, very slender women, like all the models in the book. This, indeed, is another negative aspect. All the models are young and slender. I have no idea how the sweaters would look on someone with some more meat on their bones.

“Woven Slip-Stitch Patterns” is the title of Chapter 3. Don’t get confused about the word “woven.” There isn’t any weaving here. The word refers to how the stitches look, especially thanks to slipping with the yarn in front. I like a lot of the stitches and I think I’ll try some of them out in the future. Again, the patterns don’t appeal to me, but I’m a man looking for things to make for myself. Women will have better luck, I think, although I must admit I wouldn’t make any of the clothes for the women I know.

Chapter 4 is all about “Fancy Slip-Stitch Patterns” which involve interesting textures and colors. I like the dictionary quite a lot. Again, the garments and accessories are not speaking to me right now. I have to confess that sometimes I don’t like patterns at one point in time but then in the future I’m into them because something about my taste has changed or maybe I just look at the samples in a different way.

Finally, in Chapter 5 we have the long-awaited stitches created by the authors themselves. They are awesome. There’s even advice here on how to transform stitch patterns into something else more innovative. There are some patterns for clothes and accessories, here, to bring the total for the entire book to 16 patterns. Not bad, really, considering that there’s also a stitch dictionary.

I’ve given this book a B+ because I wanted it to be more than it is. I guess I just wanted more dictionary and fewer patterns for clothes and accessories. I have not given my B+ grade because of the patterns, however. I am capable of giving an A to a book with patterns I’ll never use because of the explanation of something new, or just good advice on techniques.  I wanted more stitches in one place. However, I’m really glad I got the book even though it doesn’t make me gush. I like the new inventions the authors included in the final chapter and I’m sure I’ll play with them in the future. I’m believe  I’ll at least change my mind about the scarves and cowls. I do not doubt that crafters new to slip-stitch knitting will benefit the most from this book. More experienced knitters might not need this, unless they’re willing to pay for having some new slip-stitch patterns that haven’t been published elsewhere.

Purple cardigan on a WIP Wednesday

I’ve been knitting away at my purple top-down cardigan. I’m almost done with the body and then I can get going on the sleeves.

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I haven’t knit stockinette stitch flat in years. Wow, is it boring! I really made a push on it over the weekend to try and get it all over with. I almost made it to the bottom, but not quite. I wanted a sort of plain cardigan and I’m getting one, it’s just I have to make a real effort not to yawn while knitting and purling back and forth.

Review: Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders

Sock Yarn One-Skein Wonders by Judith Durant. Storey Publishing, 2012. 288 pages. Digital formats also available. Grade: A

I am sock yarn’s number 1 fan. I think it’s fun to buy a random skein of it here and there. Obviously, I had to have this book. It has not disappointed me. Although it’s true that I have yet to make anything out of this book, the time when I will in fact knit up something featured in the collection is approaching. As a matter of fact, a long time ago I bought some orange Spud and Chloe 4-ply yarn with one pattern in mind, which is the “Candleglow Scarf.”

This book is different from others in the One-Skein Wonder series because all of the patterns call for the same type of yarn. So, instead of grouping the patterns by weight they are grouped by the usual categories: socks, scarves, shawls, mittens, etc. The knitting samples are all photographed well and the patterns are written clearly.

One of the refreshing things about this title is how, although focused on sock yarn, it does not overdo the variegated and self-striping material. I think there is a good balance between patterns that call for multi-colored yarn as well as solid colors.

Also, knitters who like making children’s clothes and accessories will be pleased to find a special section devoted to this category.

Even though I’m most eager to get going on the scarf pattern I mentioned above, my favorite section in this book is the one for gloves and mittens. The designers really outdid themselves with some very original and creative glove designs. There are a good number of mittens and gloves that go all the way up to the fingertips as well as some fingerless mitts. If you would like to see all the patterns in the collection, have a look at its Ravelry page.

This book will be handy for knitters like me who tend to accumulate skeins of sock yarn. Sometimes, it can be tough to decide what to do with these little treasures we keep in the stash and an arsenal of patterns like this can help in the decision-making process. As a matter of fact, I have more than one skein of sock yarn in my stash that will probably not be turned into socks thanks to this useful book.

Yet another sweater in progress

The year 2017 has proven me to be the sweater king. I have finished eight sweaters and I have now started number nine, a purple cardigan. The orange crochet sweater has been done since last week. I just need to take really nice photos of it to go with the pattern I’m writing up as well as to find a time to get the wearer of its brown cousin to model his sweater for me. You might recall that the brown one does not fit me in a flattering way.

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The purple cardigan looks like a crumpled blob right now because it’s yet another top-down raglan. I have been using the numbers from Ann Budd’s The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters as a guide, only modifying the button band, which I preferred to knit along with the body rather than as a final step. This has required some experimentation because I couldn’t cast on any extra stitches for the neckline as the instructions indicate. I decided to double increase along the neckline gradually. We shall see if my decision was a good one or a total fail soon enough! My plan is to knit the yoke in moss stitch and then the rest of the body in stockinette. We’ll see if I tire of purling when the yoke is finished, too.

I’ve dived deep into the depths of my stash for the yarn. It’s Cascade Quatro superwash, a discontinued item. I bought it five years ago (gasp!) and I forgot I even had it (double gasp!) As far as my stash goes, I am being a very good boy. I haven’t added any yarn to it for several months and I actually have an empty plastic container because I used all the yarn it was storing. It’s a good thing because I’ll need it to store the sweaters I’m finishing.

I’m also knitting on a Hitchhiker scarf, the now world-famous Martina Behm design. I’m using Malabrigo Sock in the Caribeño color way. This is my last skein of Malabrigo.

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I made this same exact scarf in the same color as a gift a couple of years ago. I liked how it looked so much I bought another skein to make one for myself some day. Some day is here.