Some New Mittens for Fall

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After I finished my summer fair knitting, I had nearly a whole ball of left-over Debbie Stoller Alpaca Love yarn in a pretty, ruby red color left just sitting on the table next to my favorite chair.  For a commercially produced yarn, I actually really like the way it looks and feels.

I have a mini-stash of Debbie Stoller (of Stitch N’ Bitch fame) yarns, including Washable Ewe, Alpaca Love and Bamboo Ewe.  I tend to pick these up when odd balls go on clearance at the big chain craft stores in the area.  Since this one was the only ball of this yarn that I had, I wanted to make something nice for myself with it, both to have the satisfaction of using up all of the yarn, and to have something made from it close to me so that I could continue to enjoy it.

  I decided to make myself a new pair of fingerless mitts for my early morning drives into work.  It is always chilly in the Midwest in the early mornings during fall, and my hands are often cold when I’m driving.  I have an old, go-to pair that someone from knitting group made for me several years ago, but they are well-worn, and thought I could use new ones to add to the mix.

I wanted something simple, so after perusing patterns on Ravelry, I decided on the Peekaboo Mitts pattern as a template.  I wouldn’t have enough yarn to make the pattern as written, so I made a smaller version, and I added a little heart motif to the back of each hand by strategically placing purl stitches within the stockinette stitch.

 

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Top and bottom surface of each mitt.

I more or less just improvised the placement of the little heart motif, and I thought it turned out well.

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As you can see, I often block my mitts on the ankle area of some sock blockers.  The ones used here are a set from my vintage collection.  When they are not in use, they are displayed on the wall of my office at home.

So much basil in my garden this year!

So much basil in my garden this year!

I’ve actually gotten some use out of these mitts already this season.

Nearly fall and my tomatoes are still green...

Nearly fall and my tomatoes are still green…

I knit these on size 8, double pointed needles.  I decreased a few cast-on stitches to make the mitts narrower (since I have small hands and I wanted the mitts to be snug). 

I have also since finished my Skyp socks, and cast on (and nearly finished as of this post) a new, fall hat.  Details are coming soon…

~Happy knitting!

 

The Making of Decisions & The Making of Socks

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I’ve been contemplating the best way to post about this year’s Lake County Fair.  It’s already over a month behind me, and I don’t want to end up posting about it a year later like I did with last year’s post.  The challenge is that I generally like to post about the making of my projects, but many of the items I entered this year were made and entered before I could get any photos and post about them.  So do I post about the fair, and then write about how I made the projects later, or do I wait until I can post about each project’s creation individually, and then post about the fair?

You might have noticed from the conveyor line of posts in the last few weeks that I have mostly been trying to do the latter:  show you all of the projects I made (there’s a ton to catch up on, but we’re almost there) so that I can post about the fair and show you how I did. 

So the fair post (well, probably posts actually….I took lots of photos this year) is coming soon.  Some time well before August 2015 – I swear!

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Hand knits being unpacked all over my easy chair.

This past weekend was a three day weekend from work for me (due to Monday being Labor Day), so on Saturday morning I finally had a chance to go through my fair stuff to organize everything and get some photos. 

It is just my general personality to be a total stress-case, but lately I have noticed that I am beginning to enjoy my Saturday mornings a little bit.  Saturday morning is the perfect time, being right at the end of the previous work week, but still as far away as possible from the next one that my brain will allow me to let down my guard the teeniest bit so that I can feel something resembling a state of being relaxed.  It’s brief and it’s fleeting, but that almost makes it seem sweeter, and anyway, I’ll take what I can get.

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So Saturday morning I had my coffee, and my yarn, and my ribbons and my knits and I just went with it.  Half of the living room looked like the Arts building at the fair exploded. 

In a previous post, I mentioned that I won eight ribbons at the more recent Will County Fair.  Well this year at Lake County, I won four:

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Blue ribbons are hard to come by at the Lake County Fair, so I am always extra happy to win one.  The ribbons never have the year on them (why IS that?) so I generally write the year, and which project the ribbon was awarded to on the backs of them so that years (weeks?) from now, I can remember.

In other news, I continued work on the newest project to hit my needles:

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This Simple Skyp Socks pattern is one of the most popular free sock patterns on Ravelry at the moment, so I thought I should get in on the action.  The pattern is actually really cute and clever. 

I just love the colorway of this yarn I chose from Ellen’s 1/2 Pint Farm but holy cow, I didn’t notice how fine the weight of this yarn is until I started making my socks!  It is a really light fingering weight – almost approaching lace weight.  I ended up knitting my socks with size 0, bamboo, double points but have since switched over to my beloved Kollage Square double points in size 1 because I was having pain in my hands and fingers.  Bamboo needles in size 0 tend to bend, and the constant fiddling of them into position was taxing my hands.

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I’ve been enjoying this book by Betsy Lee McCarthy, and recently read through the section on all of the options available for approaching the knitting of socks:  use of double points, one circular needle, two circular needles, magic loop etc… 

I am an old school purist when it comes to knitting my socks:  I’m pretty sure I’ll always be a double point girl.  I found it interesting that in the book Betsy suggests knitting both socks at the same time on side-by-side DPNs in order to keep the socks identical and to avoid the “second sock syndrome”.  I have considered doing this before, but never committed to it.  I was inspired enough by Betsy’s argument that I actually decided to knit my Skyps on side by side DPNs.

At this point, I am all of the way through the cuff and leg on sock one, and I am now about 1/3 of the way through the cuff and leg on sock number two.  Then I’ll go back and do the heel of the first, and then the heel of the second sock.  Then gusset, then instep, foot and toe until both socks are complete.  It might be nice to actually finish both socks at roughly the same time.  It will definitely be a different feeling.  I guess I’ll see if it catches on with me.

~Happy knitting!

FO: Fisherman’s Mittens

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I mentioned in a previous post that my sister requested Angora mittens for her birthday this past July.  I have told the story before of her beloved, Angora, childhood mittens (read about it HERE).  Even though I knit her what I thought was a nice homage to those mittens in some lavender/gray alpaca yarn a few years back, she has still been thinking about those childhood mittens, and asked again for a pair in Angora.

I was surprised that it was as tough as it was to get Angora yarn.  I eventually found some in the form of Kollage Yarns Scrumptious, which is 70% Angora and 30% silk.  I believe the yarn is no longer being made, so it was on closeout at Web’s online.  Not only did I get a good deal, but my sister was able to choose her color.  She likes jewel tones (it seems), and she picked out the colorway Key Lime, which is actually a really deep hunter green with maybe a touch of greyish blue in it.

The yarn is listed as worsted weight, but let me tell you that it is not.  I would describe it as a light sport weight at best, so I needed to find a pattern with some texture to thicken up the mittens. 

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I really dislike knitting the same pattern twice.  (It’s a conquest thing.  Once I’ve conquered a pattern, I’m done.)  This meant I needed to find a new pattern that I wanted to make, that would work with the yarn.  I had a really hard time doing that, but eventually settled on this pattern:  Mittens for the Fisherman by Erica Lueder.  (It’s free, people!!!)

If you are a Ravelry member, here is the link to the pattern there:  Mittens for the Fisherman pattern on Ravelry.

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The pattern is both written and charted, and each mitten is knit identically (there is no official front or back side of each mitten).  I adjusted the pattern a bit for my sister’s small hands, and also for the light weight of the yarn.  I shortened the thumb gusset but had to lengthen the hand by adding another pattern repeat of squares/boxes.

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My sister was kind enough to let me enter the mittens into the fairs this summer since she wouldn’t be needing them until after August.  They ribboned twice:  second place in one fair and third place in another.  So now, as she says, she has award-winning birthday mittens.

 

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~Happy knitting!

 

 

Second Scrollwork

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Now that I’ve got all of my projects back from the county fairs, I can show you my second attempt at Scrollwork.  If you recall, I knit up the first version using Sincere Sheep Equity Sport, and the hat turned out really cute, but smallish and thinner than I had expected.  You can read about it HERE.

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My first attempt at the Scrollwork hat pattern from Brooklyn Tweed.

 

I decided to give the pattern another shot, and this time I used some Plymouth Tweed yarn (which is Aran weight), that I had in my stash.  The colorway is Ecru.  This time I used size 7 needles instead of the size 6’s that I used on the first version.

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Using stitch markers to mark off the pattern repeats helped the project go faster, but did get a little tricky on the rows where the end of round marker must be moved.

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My new ChiaGoo stitch markers.

 

I do like my second version of the hat, but not necessarily better than the first one.  This one is definitely more functional as a warm winter hat, and would be more likely to fit the average person’s head.

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The stitch definition on each hat is different (in a good way) which I find really neat.  Neither looks as nice (in my opinion) as the apparent stitch definition achieved by using the recommended yarn for the pattern which is Brooklyn Tweed Shelter.  I linked to the pattern in my previous post, but here it is again, complete with photos of the hat done in the suggested yarn for comparison, if you are interested:  Scrollwork Hat from Brooklyn Tweed (designer Irina Dmitrieva)When you purchase the pattern, you actually get instructions for the hat as well as a coordinating cowl.

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As mentioned in a previous post, this hat actually won second place in knit hats at the Will County (IL) Fair this year:

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~Happy cabling!

 

 

A Farewell Cowl

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A few weeks ago, one of my favorite coworkers announced that she would be leaving for another job.  Today was our farewell party at work to see her off.  There was lots of food and balloons and presents – she is well loved.  I knew when she told me that she was leaving that I would knit her something as a going away gift.

I decided to knit her a herringbone cowl.  I used Plucky Knitter Primo yarn in a sport weight in the colorway Gray Goose. 

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Plucky Knitter yarn is hard to get.  I acquired this yarn on the Ravelry group’s destash page.  Primo is merino, cashmere and nylon.

I used this pattern:  Herringbone Cowl by Lauren Osborne.  It is free on Ravelry and it’s a great pattern.  I enjoyed knitting this cowl, and I want to make another in a heavier weight yarn. 

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I thought the cowl turned out great, and as far as I can tell, my coworker appreciated it.  I cast on several extra stitches than the pattern called for in order to make it long enough that it could be doubled around the neck if desired.

I love the look and texture of the stitch.

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With that finished, tonight I cast on for a new pair of socks.  I am using some yarn I purchased at Stitches a few weeks ago. 

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I’ve been itching to knit another pair of socks – I just needed to wait until fair season ended and my gift knitting died down.  And speaking of sock knitting, I want to mention this:

I am SOOO excited about this book!  Print copies will be available at the end of September.  I’m a total nerd when it comes to the history of sock knitting and the making of socks.  This book includes both topics.  My birthday is coming up, and though I usually get myself an antique sock blocker/stretcher to add to my collection, I think this book will actually be my pick this year.

If you want to learn more about the book, you can click the photo above to go to the publisher’s page, but you can also click HERE to read all about it on Ravelry if you are a Ravelry member.

 

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~Happy knitting!

Even More Will County Fair!

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Yesterday I posted about my participation in the knit and crochet categories in the Illinois Will County Fair.  Today, I want to share some photos of my favorite things that other people made.

But first I have to tell you that my friend Dawn is adored by all goats.

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It’s true.  When she approaches, they all come running.  This little white one wouldn’t let her leave.  If you look closely, I swear the goat is smiling.

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I also have to tell you that I convinced my friend Kim to enter the fair this year.  Kim likes to crochet, and she’s very artistic.  She came up with bunches of entries.  Here are two of her stuffed toys that won ribbons:

The two toys on the left were crocheted by Kim.

The two toys on the left were crocheted by Kim.

 

Speaking of crochet, I love this basket of flowers that someone entered.  Isn’t it great?  It is so well done.

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And since we all know I’m partial to the knitters, I have to show off this fine, knit centerpiece on display.

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And how about a Rubik’s Cube cake?  It just cracked me up!

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Speaking of food, my favorite (and the judge’s favorite) crocheted pot holders this year:

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I speak from experience when I say that it is tough to keep finding new, fair-worthy pot holders to enter.  I love the toast and eggs! 

 

Lastly, I just get a huge kick out of this entry in photography:  it’s someone’s open-mouthed cat wearing a Snuggy.  From the look of that blue ribbon there, the judges appreciated it too.

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I had fun seeing all of the exhibits.  As you know, I look forward to the summer fairs every year, and this one did not disappoint.

 

 

All smiles on the day of judging.  [From left to right:  me, Dawn, Kim and Chester (Kim's dad)].

All smiles on the day of judging. [From left to right: me, Dawn, Kim and Chester (Kim’s dad)].

~Happy knitting!

 

Will County Fair – 2014

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The Illinois Will County Fair is going on this week, and I entered nine items this year:  eight were knitted and one was crocheted.

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What’s a knitting blog without some sheep photos?!

I’ve been out to the fair three times already this week.  The day after judging for the Arts entries was apparently the day before the scheduled judging of the sheep, so they were looking extra snazzy.

I did fairly well in the fair this year.  I ribboned in all but one of my entries (my crochet hat did not place).  I won eight ribbons and $40 in premium money.  Oddly, there were very few entries in the knitting division this year, and I felt like I won nearly half of my ribbons by default. 

There were only two knit shawls entered this year, one of them being mine, and my On The Road Shawl ended up taking second place.  See what I mean about winning some ribbons by default?

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I have to admit that at first I was a little disappointed not to have taken first when there was only one entry to compete with, but once I got a good look at the shawl that won, I got over it.  Isn’t it pretty? 

The first place knit shawl (not made my me).

The first place knit shawl (not made my me).

It has a lace bottom and if you look closely, it’s also lightly beaded.  It might be my favorite knit entry in the fair this year.  I love the yarn.

I entered my Radiating Star blanket, and again I took second place by default.

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Only two entries (my blanket and one other) were made in the knit afghan (any pattern) category, and the first place blanket also took Best of Show for the whole division, so it’s hard to feel bad about that!

I did get a legitimate first place ribbon for my knit scarf!  I entered my Leaf Scarf just to see how it would do, and it was the winner.

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I entered my beloved Rayures cowl as well, and it took third:

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The knit hat category was one of the only ones with several entries, so I was really glad that I knit that second (improved) Scrollwork hat.  It took second place.

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My sister’s mittens took third place of only three entries.

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And my Snowflower socks were the only knit socks entered this year!  Where did all of the knitters go?!

First place ribbon by default.  Kind of a buzz-kill.

First place ribbon by default. Kind of a buzz-kill.

 

The night before the fair, I realized that I had entered my set of kitchen towels into the wrong category (hand towels), so I was not expecting to have any luck there.  I was surprised to find that I took second place!  It appeared from the tags that they had combined the two groups, which was a good thing for me.

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If you haven’t been out to the Will County Fair this year, it will be going on through Sunday (8/24).  Go check it out!  And if you can, knit up some entries and participate next year! 

Tomorrow I will post more about the fair, including my favorite things entered by others.  It’s always so much fun to see what other people create and come up with!

~Happy knitting!

“Relaxing” on Saturday

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This past weekend, I found myself preparing for yet another fair – this time, the Will county (IL) fair.  I will have nine entries this year if everything goes as planned.  So I spent my weekend knitting, and stressing about the knitting, and stressing about the things I should be doing instead of the knitting. 

Since Saturday was a cool, overcast, nearly fall-like day, I decided (after hours of knitting feverishly indoors) that I should go out and finish my knitting while enjoying the day on my deck.  Since the dogs spend most of the week stuck indoors while I’m at work, I thought this would benefit them as well.

So I gathered my knitting, and my dogs, and my coffee, and my cell phone, and a bed for the dogs, and the citronella candles and headed out to the deck.  After cleaning off the deck chairs, lighting candles, placing dog beds, and filling water bowls, I realized that I probably would already have been done with my knitting had I just stayed inside….

In any case, I tried to take the opportunity to let got of some stress and enjoy the weather and enjoy my knitting.  I’m really bad at relaxing. 

As you can see, I was still sporting Peanuts PJs.

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I was finishing a cotton, kitchen towel for a fun category in the fair called “Three towels, all different, any type”.  The category is not just for knitting, so anyone making any kind of towels can enter, and we all get judged against each other.  It’s way fun (for nerds like me).

 

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One of my dogs settled into his place under my seat, and we all did our best to relax like normal people (eh hem) on a Saturday.

I eventually finished the towel, and I absolutely love it.  It is knit from Bernat kitchen cotton which usually costs more than I am willing to pay, but I got this ball on clearance (I’m guessing due to the color).  It is so soft with great stitch definition.  This towel will definitely get use in my kitchen after it has its big day at the fair.

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In other news, look what also found its way onto my needles over the weekend:

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Yep, I decided to reknit Scrollwork in a different yarn.  (Darn it!  I was so excited about that Rambouillet…).  This time, I used some wool tweed as the pattern called for.  I actually forgot that I had this Plymouth Tweed.  It was also bought on clearance several years ago.  It gave me an opportunity to use my new ChiaGoo stitch markers that I just got at Stitches.  They look like candy:

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I finished Scrollwork #2 Sunday night, and it does appear that it will be my knitted hat entry in the upcoming fair. 

~Happy knitting!

Stitches Midwest 2014

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Stitches is a nation wide fiber arts convention that travels the country during the year, making stops in four different regions of the United States, one of which is the Midwest.

Last year I missed Stitches when it came to the Midwest.  By the time I thought to look into attending, it had already come and gone.  If you remember, I made a trip to the Stitches Marketplace for the very first time in 2012.  You can read about it by clicking HERE

If it’s possible that ‘too much yarn’ can actually exist, it would exist at the Stitches Marketplace.  Outside of being totally overwhelmed by the size of the marketplace in 2012, I had a great time, and had intentions to go again in the future – next time with a plan in place.

Stitches was in town again this past week, and since I work full time, I couldn’t attend the conference, but I did make it to the marketplace this past Saturday.  Due to my busy schedule, I did not have time to form a very good plan of attack, but at least I went in knowing that the market would be way too big for me to even consider seeing and digesting everything in it. 

The conference was held at the Renaissance Hotel in Schaumburg, IL.  It’s a bit over an hour drive from the town where I live in Indiana.  Unfortunately, I forgot my camera, so I don’t have any ‘inside Stitches’ pics like I did from my 2012 trip, but I did take some photos once I got home so that I could show off some of my awesome finds.

I’m on a bit of a serious budget these days after deciding to refinance my student loans, and putting a closed gutter system on my house (no more ladders!  Whoot!).  I wasn’t planning on buying much in the way of yarn unless I found a deal I couldn’t pass up.  If I did buy yarn, it needed to be blue since I noticed I have nearly no choices within that color palette in my current yarn stash.  And it couldn’t be cashmere.  Somehow there is more cashmere than I ever intended to acquire in my stash, and cashmere is not practical for everything.

I did need some more stitch markers since mine always seem to mysteriously go missing as time goes on.  I was also excited about the prospect of seeing some actual books with paper and pages!  Here in Indiana, ALL of the book stores have gone out of business.  So I have no way to preview new knitting pattern books as they come out.  I love book stores, and I think it’s ridiculous that we have none left in Northwest IN as of about two or three years ago. 

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I did get some ‘freebies’ from the market.  A nice lady from the Windy City Knitting Guild gave me this cute book mark that has both a ruler and the steps to complete the Kitchener Stitch on the back!  Love it!  The button was also free (with a purchase) from Knerd knitting shop.  Check out her stuff on Etsy by clicking HERE.  She has some of the best gift tags for hand-made items I have ever seen (they are SO funny). 

I also got a free pattern for the Sweetly Zig Zag Cowl from the owner of Fiberstory (with the purchase of some gorgeous yarn).  I love the pattern and I will likely knit it up at some point.

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Here are the stitch markers I picked up.  The metal ones are from Knerd, and the plastic are from ChiaGoo.  I love them all!

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Here is the lovely yarn from Fiberstory.  I literally couldn’t resist.  This yarn was so beautiful, and the samples on display were so amazing.  In spite of my plan not to buy yarn, I was sold (obviously).  At least I remembered to pick blue…

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This is Fave Sock.  I SOOO wanted another set in a gray and a burgundy tone, but I was able to exercise at least a teenie bit of self control…

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Even though my plan was not to bring home more yarn, I felt I HAD to when I found this super-cute Angora blend yarn (remember my sister’s fixation with Angora….?) marked down to $5 per 100 yard hank.  It is Lush from Classic Elite yarns.  Even in the photo, you can see how fuzzy and soft it is.  It is actually 50% Angora in a nice worsted weight.

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These are SO going to be more mittens.  I’m thinking I can make matching mittens for my sister and me.  Mine will be the orange and hers will be the blue.  She likes blue.

 

I bought some Malabrigo since it is always so lovely and so reasonably priced.  I figured it would save me in the long run on shipping since I’d have to buy it online if I needed it for a project.  I also bought the multi-color twisted BFL wool seen here in the center of the pile.  It was a total impulse buy that I couldn’t afford and I still don’t regret it.

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Soooo, you might be starting to realize that I failed at my ‘don’t buy any yarn’ goal because I actually bought MORE yarn…. BUT it was a good deal.  Here’s the justification for this one.  Ready? 

I have plans to knit Wendy Johnson’s Nordic Cowl pattern.  I have adored it ever since she came up with it this past March.  You can read about it HERE on her blog.  Once I decided that I would like to knit this, I realized that I have literally no blue fingering weight yarn in my stash.  I really wanted to make my cowl in colors similar to those that she chose.  So I was on the lookout for an economical option for this cowl.  Here’s what I came up with:

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I found these Louet Gems in a discount bin at the Yarn Barn booth.  They were $6 and some change each, and the colors are so pretty.  Washable wool.  We’ll see how it goes….   If I don’t like it, my FiberStory purchase shown above would probably look fantastic as a Nordic Cowl.

 

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I was bummed to discover that none of the book sellers had a ‘show special’ or multi-book discount in place for the conference.  I ended up choosing two sock knitting titles.  The socks on the cover of the Knitter’s Curiosity Cabinet have been in my queue for a while now, and now I own the pattern along with several others that I love.

 

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And lastly, I got these adorable, hand-made mugs.  I am a complete sucker for hand-made pottery.  These are dishwasher and microwave safe. 

In other news, here’s a peek at what’s on my needles right now, actually purchased at Stitches Midwest 2012:  Rambouillet wool!

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~Happy knitting!

Knitting Pattern: Linen Stitch Dish Cloth

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I have had some requests for my linen stitch dish cloth pattern, so I thought it would be nice to share it.  It really is just a square of linen stitch, but I certainly can share specifically how I make mine.

 

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For functional dish cloths, it is generally best to use cotton yarn, but you could use cotton blends like cotton/acrylic, cotton/bamboo or cotton/linen.  If you want the look that I get with my cloths, choose a variegated yarn (a yarn with a combination of mixed colors).  This is the easiest way to achieve a confetti-like, multicolored cloth.  The pattern will distribute the colors throughout the cloth, preventing pooling of color which often has a splotchy appearance.

If you like working with colors, you can alternate three solid colors while following the pattern.  This will be a little more work since you will need to carry your yarns neatly up one side, and keep track of your colors, but it will also give a multicolored, confetti-like appearance to the cloth.

If you wish to get even more creative, you can try a self-striping yarn with this pattern, or knit yourself or a new neighbor a lovely set in a single, solid color, or coordinating solid colors.  The pattern is very versatile.

I use worsted weight cotton for my cloths.  Examples you might choose include:

  • Peaches and Creme cotton yarn
  • Bernat Handicrafter cotton
  • Lion Brand Kitchen Cotton
  • Knit Picks Dishie
  • Sugar ‘n Cream cotton

It’s also worth noting that Knit Picks CotLin is a cotton/linen blend that makes great dish cloths and towels, but it is DK weight (a lighter weight than worsted) so you will need to adjust your needle size.  Knit Picks recommends knitting needle size #5 or #6 for CotLin.

 

The pattern:  Linen Stitch Dish Cloth

Dimensions:  Approximately 9 by 10 inches

Yarn:  Worsted weight cotton

Needles:  Straight knitting needles, size #7

 

Cast on 40 stitches.  I use a long tail cast on.

Row 1:  *knit 1, slip 1 stitch with yarn held in front;  repeat from *        (row ends with a slipped stitch)

Row 2:  *purl 1, slip 1 stitch with yarn held in back;  repeat from *        (row ends with a slipped stitch)

For all slipped stitches, always slip purlwise (slip as if to purl).

Repeat rows 1 and 2 for a total of 100 rows.  Ending with row 2, bind off knitwise.  Block lightly.

 

The linen stitch is knit over any even number of stitches, so you can adjust the pattern for size/dimensions if you prefer a larger or smaller cloth, or you want to make towels. 

If you are a tight knitter, you might consider using size #8 needles to avoid a stiff and curly cloth.  If you knit very loosely, try needle size #6.  Gauge doesn’t matter so much with this pattern, but making your stitches too loose or too tight will affect the quality of your cloth.

 

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There you have it:  linen stitch dish cloths the Kristenisms way!  I’m happy to answer questions if anything is unclear.

~Happy knitting!

 

 

 

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