Three Finished Shawls

I decided to wear my Rock Island Shawl to church this last Sunday, and when the girls saw me wearing it they clamored to wear their shawls as well.

When we returned home from church and I watched them prance through the front yard in all their finery, I realized that I never posted “Finished Project” posts here on the blog about their shawls, so I ran inside to grab the camera and what follows is the result of our impromptu modelling session:

Junebug’s Shawl
PatternSezession II, by Rodger Murry
Yarn:  Odds & Ends from the stash
Hook:  5.0 mm (H)
Modifications:  I added a crochet shell border, the name of which escapes me at the moment.
Oi.  There are a lot of colors in this shawl.  Junebug wanted a purple shawl like her purple blankie, which is a granny square afghan, so when I saw this pattern I knew we had a winner.  I let her pick whatever yarns she felt like choosing to go in it, and when I’d get to a point when I wanted to change colors, I’d have her decide which color was next.  Her favorite color is yellow, which is why it’s edged in such a happy shade.

Penguin’s Shawl
PatternCitron, by Hillary Smith Callis
Yarn:  Noro Sekku, colorway 1 (discontinued)
Needles:  3.75 mm (US 5)
Modifications:  None
This shawl originally started out as a shawl for me, but I bumped the needle size down and ended up with a pretty small garment.  Penguin had admired it from the beginning, so I randomly gifted it to her after she walked by for the hundredth time with it on her shoulders.
This is a great beginner pattern, not hard at all.  Penguin tells me that it reminds her of candy corn and Halloween.
Bluebird’s Shawl
(Also known as “Fantastically Rainbow-y Shawl for Bluebird“)

PatternFan Pattern Shawl
Yarn:  Knit Picks’ Chroma Fingering, “Lollipop” colorway
Hook:  3.5 mm (E)
Modifications:  None.

This shawl is so Bluebird.  It’s bright and colorful, just like her personality.  She picked out the pattern after I offered to make her a shawl, and she chose the yarn out of my stash.  (The yarn was originally intended for making her some mittens, but the yarn didn’t want to be mittens.)

The pattern is pretty easy, just a simple repeat over and over again.  I like to just look at it when it’s hanging from the hook next to Bluebird’s bed.  She’s inordinately fond of this shawl, which makes me smile.


So there they are, three cute shawls for three cute girls!  (Penguin insists that I still owe her a shawl “made especially for her” because “her” shawl was actually meant for me in the beginning.  We’ll see how that pans out.)

The Story of the "He Loves Me" Yarn

As mentioned earlier this week, Michael had to go on a last-minute business trip to Hawaii.  For a week.  Before he left, he asked if I wanted any souvenirs and I answered with my all-time favorite answer:  “Yarn.”

I didn’t expect anything to come of it.  It’s Hawaii; and yarn…well, that’s kind of a colder climate commodity.  I put the notion out of my head and tended to the joyous week of single parenting.

When he returned (with an arrival time of 7:15 AM at the airport one hour away and on a Sunday when I was scheduled to hold a choir practice and also sing a duet in church…) and got to unpacking his suitcase, he presented me with a skein of yarn.  And an apology for it not being the kind of yarn I usually like.

He then proceeded to tell me the story of how he came to possess that skein of yarn:

He arrived in Hawaii on Saturday.  On Tuesday he decided to google for the location of the nearest yarn shop.  He left his hotel room at 4pm to go to said yarn shop and, after navigating the chaotic streets of Honolulu, arrived at the shop at precisely 6:05pm.  The shop closed at 6:00pm.

He pushed back his Wednesday morning meeting and set out for the yarn shop in order to be there when it opened at 10am.  He arrived at 10:00 on the dot, but the shop wasn’t open.  Figuring there was some sort of Hawaiian laid-back attitude in regards to opening on time, he decided to wait for the shop owner to show up.  One and a half hours later, he was still waiting.  It was then that he noticed that the store hours listed were for Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  The shop was closed on Wednesdays.

He walked in on Thursday at 10am and informed the shop owner that he wanted locally-dyed or spun yarn that was impossible for his wife to get in the State of Utah.  She said that a lot of people wanted that kind of stuff and that she tried to keep lots of it in stock, but he had happened to come to her store at a time when she had none of it in stock.  I’m not sure what kind of conversation and/or awkward silence followed that statement, but Michael’s telling goes on to say that at point she exclaimed that she might have one skein of something in the back.  “I’ll take it.”
When he presented me with the skein of yarn and apologized for it not being quite the right color, I silently agreed with him.  The turquoise was pretty and I thought the purple was sort of nice, but the blue-ink color was definitely not my style.  However, upon hearing his tale of his quest to acquire the yarn, my heart softened considerably and I pledged to make myself a hat from it and wear that hat until it died.
And so I proudly present the “He Loves Me” Hat:
Pattern:  Turn a Square, by Jared Flood

YarnNadezhda’s Crayon Box, colorway “Kahana Bay.”  (67% Cotton, 25% Wool, 8% Silk) and Berrocco’s Ultra Alpaca in “Lavender Mix” #6283 (50% Alpaca, 50% Wool) leftover from my mother’s Christmas Hat.

Needles:  US 8

Modifications:  I made the hat about 1.5 inches longer than called for so it could definitely cover the tops of my ears, and also have a little bit of extra space to accomodate any sort of pulled-up hairstyle.

Thank you Michael!
You are all sorts of persistent awesomeness!


Gingerbread Leg Warmers

PatternLegwarmies, by Alana Dakos

Yarn:  Knit Pick’s Imagination Handpainted Sock Yarn in “Gingerbread House” colorway, 50% Merino, 25% Alpace, 25% Nylon.

Needles:  US 3/3.25 mm.

Modifications:  I used Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off rather than Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Sewn Cast Off.  I also held the yarn double, as the pattern called for sport-weight yarn and this is fingering-weight.

Oh the cuteness!  Junebug loves gingerbread men.  She has a gingerbread man apron, gingerbread men thrown pillows on her bed, a gingerbread man stuffie and a creepy little gingerbread man stuffie as well.  When I received the shipment of yarn that these particular skeins belonged to, Junebug was mildly interested–until she found out that the name of the color of this yarn was “Gingerbread House.”

As soon as she learned that vital bit of information, she snatched the hanks right out of the box and clutched them close and declared that they were hers.  Being a complete softie, I didn’t put up much of a fight.  (I had actually ordered them because I thought the color would please her when she found out the name.)

We searched and searched for a pattern befitting the magically-colored yarn, and finally happened upon this cute (free!) pattern for little leg warmers.  Junebug gasped and her eyes lit up, and I knew we’d found this yarn’s calling.

It’s an easy pattern and I knocked these off the needles quickly.  I finished up the first legwarmer and presented it for her inspection, and she immediately put it on under the pants she was wearing that day and has not taken it off since.  She also took to coming up to me and reminding about just how cold her other leg was since it didn’t have a legwarmer to keep it toasty.  I finished the second legwarmer in record time and she has happily taken to showing the full pair to whomever will let her chatter to them about her clothes.

It’s an easy, quick pattern.  Should I make them again I would either just use some sport-weight yarn or bump up a needle size or two, as doubled fingering-weight yarn on size US 3 needles produces a very dense fabric that doesn’t really want to stretch. 

Warm Sweater for a Cold Schoolroom

Continuing with the “Hey, I can make clothes!” theme, here is Bluebird’s new sweater for the winter.  She picked out the colors and requested the hearts along the bottom.

PatternKnitting Pure & Simple #293 Child’s V Neck Down Pullover, by Diane Soucy.
YarnPlymouth Yarn Galway Worsted, Colors #135, #127 & #8.
Needles:  US 6 & US 4.
Modifications:  When picking up the stitches for the armholes, I did a K2tog at the beginning.

I knit up the gauge swatch during the last little bit of our trip home from Alberta and have since been steadily working on this sweater and only the sweater.  I stalled out when it came to knitting up the sleeves, but that’s just something I always do when making anything with sleeves.  I have to waste a week worrying about making the sleeves before going forward.  Every.  single.  time.

I ran into a problem with knitting monogamy about a week ago and seriously considered putting the sweater in the back of the closet and casting on for something quicker and more fun, but after two days of not being able to settle on a new “quick and fun” project, I hunkered down and knit on through the finish.  I’m glad I persevered.

Bluebird, who has a reputation for being a tad lackluster in her reception of handmade goodies, has surprised me with her adoration of her new sweater.  We’re experiencing 80 degree (F) weather here, and when I presented her with the sweater she threw it on and wore it for the rest of the day, despite repeated inquiries about whether or not she was getting too warm.  After today’s photo shoot, she refused to take off her sweater until I noticed that she was sweating, after which I demanded she take the thing off.

I’ve had a bit of mental anguish over the creation of this sweater.  Wool ain’t cheap and knitting ain’t quick.  I’m a homeschooling mother of four, and you can imagine how much excess money and time I (do not) possess. 

However, I really wanted to make this sweater for my girl.  I’ve spent the past seven years honing this skill and all I have to show for it are hats and scarves and a few shawls.  I was ready to venture into the land of sweater knitting and use my creativity to bless my family in practical ways.  Penguin and Junebug jumped on the “Knit Me a Sweater” bandwagon when they saw I was making one for Bluebird, so I have two more sweaters to make before winter sets in…and I’m obnoxiously excited about knitting them.

When I am knitting, I sometimes feel a little guilty for embarking on projects that take up so much of my time.  Really, I could go to a clothing store and buy a sweater, which would take tons less of my time and cost me about the same amount of money.  But there’s something about making something rather than buying it that fills me with a deep sense of satisfaction.

I figure that anything that helps to make me feel good about myself is definitely worth pursuing, so swathing my family is handknits isn’t a waste but an investment.  Each day Bluebird wears this sweater I will feel proud of myself and she will feel loved because I let her pick the colors and then spent all that time making something for her.  If it was a sweater from the store, that positive emotional boost would not happen.

This sweater is meant for wearing throughout the coming winter as we embark upon our first year of homeschooling in our new schoolroom in the basement.  The coolness of the basement has been a blessing throughout this summer quarter, but will soon become a point of complaint as we move into the autumn and winter months.  It is my hope that Bluebird will feel warmed by my efforts to craft this sweater for her, just as I hope someday that her heart will be warmed by my efforts to craft her education.

Pembroke Sweater Vest for Monkeyboy

Wow, look at that, I can knit actual clothes!

PatternPembroke Vest, by Kirsten Kapur (free!)
YarnCascade Yarns 220 Superwash Paints in colorway #9997 “Juniper Berries.”
Needles:  US 3 & 5
Modifications:  I mirrored the cables instead of having them all twist the same way as written in the pattern.

When I gave birth to Monkeyboy and found out he was a boy, this pattern (along with Roar!) went into my queue as soon as I got home from the hospital.

It has been sitting in the queue for over a year, mostly because I was a little afraid to take on something of this magnitude.  (In case you haven’t noticed, I’m more of an “accessory knitter.”  I haven’t had much luck with my attempts to create actual clothing.)

Michael even encouraged me not to give this a go, stating that it was a whole lot of work for something that our boy would only wear for a short time.  I agreed with the logic of his observation and pushed aside all thoughts of casting on for the vest.

However, the vest kept taunting me.  I’d see other people finish their own vests for special boy tots in their lives and I loved each new creation!  I remained firm in my resolve, no matter how many cute Pembrokes popped up on Ravelry, I was going to be smart and not put my time into something that would be used for such a short amount of time.

My resolve dissolved completely during my second class for the Rock Island Shawl at Blazing Needles.  I saw the most beautiful variegated colorway of yarn and it screamed at me: “Make me into a Pembroke Vest for your son!”  I immediately purchased three skeins of the magical color and dashed away from the shop amidst “colorway coveting” from fellow shawl class participants.  We knitters are such enablers!

And once Rock Island was finished, I wound up those three skeins and went to town.  The majority of this was knit on our trip to Alberta.  I had only finished a few rows before starting the trip, and had completed everything except the last few rows of the neckline ribbing by the time we returned home. 

I enjoyed knitting this up very much.  I love to cable!  It’s so simple to do and produces such complex-looking results.  I feel like a knitting genius each time I cross stitches against each other.  The entertainment value of cabling is high for me.

This vest was originally slated to be one of Monkeyboy’s church outfits for the winter, but I’m loving it so much that I may just deem it an everyday outfit because he’ll get a lot more wear out of it in the weekly “everyday clothing” rotation rather than the twice-monthly “church outfit” rotation.  (I’ll just buy him another dress shirt and he’ll be fine in the church clothes category.)

So pleased!  🙂

Rock Island Shawl

Pattern:  Rock Island Shawl by Jared Flood
Yarn:  KnitPick’s Shadow Kettle-Dyed in “Jay” colorway  (a birthday gift from the lovely Kirstin)
Needles:  US 6–29″ circular

This week in Utah we celebrated Pioneer Day, a state-wide holiday that commemorates the anniversary of Brigham Young and the first wagonload of Latter-day Saints entering the Salt Lake Valley after their long journey across the American Plains.  We didn’t have any school that day in observance of the holiday, and I figured that it was probably going to be my only chance at getting this shawl blocked.  After getting all the munchkins fed and dressed and starting up the ravenous washing machine, I soaked this puppy up and pinned the life out of it on my mattress.

This is a rather new pattern, only coming out this spring.  I saw it within the first few days of its release and I could not stop talking about it afterwards.  I had to have it.  However, I was heavily-entrenched in the creation of The Wedding Honeymoon Shawl, and could not squeeze this fabulous make into my queue.  Fortune smiled her loving gaze upon me and inspired the folks at Blazing Needles to offer a class on this very pattern, for which Kit and I signed up to attend.

I’m quite pleased with it!  Jared Flood loves knitters, the design of this is just lovely!  This was the first time I’ve ever attached an edging and it was super simple, given the YO edges on the entire length of the edging.  And it’s all done in garter stitch, no purling whatsoever!  AND it’s worked from the bottom up–that’s right, it gets smaller as you go!

The parts that were not my favorites:

  1. Edgings are nice and all, but this one took forever to make.  Since I had to have the edging done within two weeks before the start of my next class, it was very stressful for me to knit like a maniac for that entire two weeks.  Had I done this at my own pace, I don’t think the edging would have bothered me as much.  (But, hey, I finished the edging in two weeks!  Who can hold a grudge against that?)
  2. Garter stitch is easy, but also pretty boring.  There’s a lot of garter stitch at the end and it drove me a little bonkers, but it blocked out prettily and I’m over the negativity now.

This shawl was originally “ordered” in white.  It was supposed to be the replacement Wedding Shawl for Carly after she picked out a new wedding dress.  However, I couldn’t find any white lace-weight locally (and still haven’t found any since!) and so I went ahead and made this in its originally-intended color.

When and where am I going to wear this?  I dunno.  I’m sure I’ll think of something.  It would be criminal to just let this beauty sit around in my closet!

First Pair of Knitted Socks Ever.

Pattern#216 Beginner’s Lightweight Socks, by Diane Soucy
YarnMisti Alpaca’s Hand Paint Sock Yarn, Colorway #08 “Marino.”
Needles:  US 2 DPN

Oh, the high of finishing your first pair of hand-knit socks!

In Knitter World, socks seem to be one of those projects that you have to try.  A true knitter doesn’t NOT knit socks.  But all that jargon–gussets, heel flaps, insteps–has intimidated me for years and I have only looked on wistfully at other knitters’ beautifully-crafted foot encasements.

“Someday,” I would say, “after I’m finished with my current project, I’m going to give socks a go.”

But “Someday” kept getting pushed back in favor of projects that had to be finished immediately.

I bought the yarn for these socks in September of 2009, after lamenting about my sock fears to an understanding yarn shop owner.  She placed a beginner’s sock pattern in my hands and inflated my knitting confidences with assurances of socks “being super easy” and sent me on my merry way, only pausing to swipe the ol’ debit card to pay her for her enabling guidance.

The yarn is lovely.  It’s alpaca, merino and silk, with a little nylon thrown in for strength.  Wearing these socks is like walking on kitten tummies.  Oh, the deliciousness of the feel!

I should have knit these on US 1 sized needles.  They’re a touch baggy.  (That’s what you get for not doing a gauge swatch!)  But I love them anyway.  I’m now on the hunt for some sort of shoe that will frame my beautiful socks this autumn.  And I’m always on the hunt for some more gorgeous sock yarn!  (Curse you, Budget!)

A pair of handknit dress socks will soon be in-the-works for Michael.  Yay for socks!

Finished: The Wedding Shawl

PatternEcho Flower Shawl, by Jenny Johnson Johnen

Yarn:  JaggerSpun Zephyr Wool-Silk 2/18, less than one skein

Needles: AddiTurbo Lace US 4 (3.5 mm) 24″

Oh, the magic of blocking.  In the previous post I showed how teeny tiny this was when it came off the needles…it barely covered Bluebird’s shoulders.  But, after blocking, it easily covers her armspan.  Lace is so weird that way.

So now I will wrap this little beauty up and send it on its merry way up north to the bride-to-be.  (This seems rather anti-climatic, given the amount of energy and thought that has been wrapped up in this project over the past few months!)

I’m so badly bitten by the lace bug.  Nothing else seems remotely interesting besides lace!  I like knitting nupps (the little balls) a lot…I think they’re rather pretty in the design.

I’m very happy with how this turned out!  I hope Carly is pleased with it as well and that, should the weather require its use, it looks beautiful with her wedding dress.  It makes me so happy to have rendered this little bit of knitting service to my future sister-in-law!  Wear it often, wear it boldly!

There were requests for a post about blocking…I don’t know when I’ll have time for that, so here’s a post from the Yarn Harlot that covers blocking in-depth.  (She used string for the straight edge, I used blocking wires.)

Little Monkey Baby Hat for my Little Monkeyboy

Oh, the cuteness is almost overwhelming!

PatternLittle Monkey Baby Hat by Irina Poludnenko

YarnKnit Picks Swish DK in Bark, Doe, Charcoal Heather & Coal

Needles:  US 6 DPN

Modifications:  Braided earflap tassels instead of I-Cord.

Many months ago, I became aware of this pattern after mentioning at Knit Nite that I wanted to make a monkey hat for my baby boy.  Kit found this pattern on Ravelry and showed it me, and I knew I had to make it someday.

I then got the idea into my head that it would make a great Christmas present and strived to make it work, but I ran out of the dark brown color a few days before the holiday and had to wait for it arrive later.  (If I had been a little more frugal in my tail ends and done I-cord tassels instead of braided tassels, I’m pretty sure I could have completed this with just one skein of the dark brown…)

Monkeyboy seems to like it.  He likes to hold a tassel in each of his chubby little hands and then chew on the yarn.

The pattern is a little crazy; I don’t think I’ll make this again because it drove me nuts.  It seemed as though the designer was trying really hard to make the pattern fit onto one page of instructions, and so she’d leave out minor details or type multiple rows’ worth of instructions onto one line.  Yeah, you’re still technically able to create the hat, but it takes more mental energy, which isn’t something I’m in excess possession of when I sit down to knit.  Things like that in pattern are the little things…and the little things matter!

Liking the yarn.  Haven’t done anything with DK weight before, but I really liked how baby-perfect it seemed…sometimes worsted seems just a little too heavy for babies, but this weight is just one step lighter, so it feels like “baby-worsted.”  I basically have full skeins left of the Bark, Charcoal Heather and Coal colors and I’d estimate I’ve got half a skein of the Doe/Light Brown color left.  And it’s superwash merino!  I don’t know why, but I am feeling pretty proud that my little bitty boy has a nice, warm, wool cap for his head.  It just feels like I’m taking especially good care of him by clothing him in wool against the bitter cold that’s outside right now.  Mommy Success!

Gotta keep those chubby little cheeks warm & toasty too!

Sweet Pea Hat for a Little Princess

My cousin and his lovely wife just became the proud parents of an adorable little girl in November, so I made an adorable little hat for her first Christmas.  I made a unisex version before the birth of Monkeyboy (which he wore proudly), but I was really looking forward to making it in a definitive gender color scheme.

PatternSweet Pea, by Susan B. Anderson
YarnTahki Cotton Classic (#3446-Pink, and I couldn’t read the color number for the green…)
Needles:  US 5 & 7

Needless to say, I think this is an adorable little hat.  This was the first time I was able to use the Cotton Classic yarn, and I don’t think I’m a big fan of it.  It’s too…crisp.  Which seems like a weird thing to dislike, but dislike it I do.  The colors are beautiful and I love the sheen of the yarn…but it’s too crisp for me.  I don’t know how to describe it any other way.

It’s so much fun now that my family members are starting to reproduce!  I won’t commit to making something for every new soul, but I’m definitely going to try to fit in some crafting for wee ones when they come about into the world.

When I logged into my Facebook account this afternoon, I saw that there were new pictures of the wee little and I happily discovered that two of those pictures featured her modelling this very hat.  This marks the infant’s parents as knitworthy, which may benefit her in the way of knitted goods in the future.  She looked so stinkin’ cute and so very tiny.  Sweet baby girl.  Oh, bitty babies are just so precious.

Merry Christmas!

Posts might resume in this next week, but I reserve the right to continue enjoying a low-stress vacation.