Halloween: A knitting odyssey

Yesterday at lunch, we were talking about how cold it was going to be for trick-or-treating (much colder than usual), and Mr Snips said we’d need to take a hat for BK. A hat. And I thought, why didn’t I think of that? Because BK was going as a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle and I have a fabulous skein of Cowabunga from BAH Yarns in the stash… and she NEEDS THAT HAT IMMEDIATELY for trick-or-treating. I felt like this was a major oversight for a knitter. I also loved the idea of the challenge.

So I zoomed home after work and cast on.

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I did as much knitting as possible while trying to eat a quick dinner and putting several layers of clothes on my kid. I took any chance I could to knit even a stitch. I knew I couldn’t get it done before trick-or-treating started, but I thought maybe I could get it finished before dark. So I packed everything I needed, including a Knit Kit and DPNs, threw it in my cute Telephone Box bag, and started walking and knitting as we began trick-or-treating. (Mitts are October Leaves Fingerless Mitts)

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Eventually, my fingertips started going numb and I decided to pack it away. I was sad to admit defeat.

I picked it up again after we were very snugly back in our warm house. By bedtime, I had done the first row of decreases.

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My hope is to finish it up today! Even though it’s too late for trick-or-treating, she still loves TMNT, and she will need it for all of the chilly days ahead. It was good motivation to knock out so much of it in one go, and it’s all decreases from here.

I hope you all had a fabulous Halloween! I’ll leave you with a spooky moon shot from last night!

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Knits I haven’t blogged

When we lived in England many moons ago, we used to frequently go on country walks at the weekend. It was a cheap way to have some fun and explore some new areas. Sometimes your path got blocked by cows and you had to turn around (true story), and sometimes it was fairly uneventful, but it was always nice to get out.

We haven’t really done as much walking since we’ve been back in America. There isn’t a whole Peak District in our backyard anymore, and we are in general much more dependent on the car.

But yesterday, we went back to our roots and drove to a state park for a walk to enjoy the last of fall. Normally, I would not say that the end of October is the end of fall here, but it has gotten very cold about 2-3 weeks earlier than usual. And the sun also seems to have deserted us.

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The colors were beautiful, and we really enjoyed our walk.

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Can you spot the ducks in the pond?

Since it’s chilly, I bundled up BK in a couple of knits that I haven’t blogged about yet.

The first is Little Honey. My lovely friend Kara gave me some leftover KnitPicks Comfy Fingering Weight from a dress she made her daughter. I had Little Honey on my favorites list already, and when I saw this yarn, I knew this was the pattern for that. I knit it pretty quickly because I was enjoying it so much. It’s also incredibly soft.

Little-Honey

My only regret on this is that I made the pockets very shallow. I kept lengthening it when I made it, so she would get more wear out of it, and then panicked at the end that it was too long, and truncated the pockets. It’s not a big deal, because she doesn’t actually want to use them for her hands.

And, the longevity plan worked, because I finished knitting this last year – and she wore it then, and it still fits this year!

The second is a “Top This” kit with a butterfly on top. I struggle with some of these kits because I don’t like the ones that only have a head on top – it really bothers me to see a bodiless dog or cat on top of a child. But once I saw my LYS had this sweet butterfly one – with a whole body – and it was pink and purple, I thought it was worth knitting BK one, since they’re cheap, quick and cheerful.

As she was wearing this, I was thinking that my main complaint with this is that the butterfly only attaches at the very bottom of his body, and it’s too floppy. It’s hard to keep laying just right. But then, BK started running and it was flapping and it looked like a butterfly trying to take off from her head. That made me laugh, so I forgave it.

The other thing I’m not super in love with this is how rough the metallic portion of the yarn is. However, the way it knit up, it’s above her ears, so she can’t really feel the scratchy bit on bare skin. But if you make one, I’d be mindful about which end you start from, because this could be an issue. I started from the opposite end of the skein at first, and it was going to make the ribbing itchy, so I ripped it out and went from the other end.

Our handwear on the walk was also worth mentioning. Mine because I still love these after knitting them 4 years ago (and the color looked great against the apple green of BK’s stroller), and BK’s because they are truly awesome. Nothing I knit will top these Turtle gloves, so I’m not going to try.

And, since it’s almost Halloween (hooray!!!), I’ll leave you with this creepy skull we passed on our walk. It thoroughly weirded me out, because it’s the only Halloween thing we saw, and it was covered in fake (I hope) blood.

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FO: Baby Pirate Hat

My cousin is expecting her first baby in June, and though I don’t think she’s super familiar with handknit gifts, I couldn’t resist the urge to make her something.

And then, I was flipping through 60 Quick Knits for Babies and saw the Pirate Hat. I knew right away that it was perfect. For one, it had skulls on it (she has a chair with skulls on it in her house!). I knew it would look nice in black and grey, which aside from having Cascade 220 Superwash in those colors in my stash, also matches the baby’s nursery colors. There was also the added bonus that a hat was small enough to be manageable for me, and something the baby is less likely to be sick on (though nothing is impossible!), which means little handknit care required from a tired new momma.

So I cast on!

Shortly after taking this Instagram photo of my knitting, I realized that my hat did not look like the picture. Why is that? Because the picture is seed stitch and my hat is 1×1 ribbing! Imagine that. IMG_2951

So anyway… I thought about leaving it and moving on, but then I realized that the ear flaps had a seed stitch border… so tinking it was. I tinked back 5 rows and picked up the seed stitch, and we were off to the races again!

I have to say that I’ve pretty much decided colorwork is my jam. I love it so much! I love working from the charts, I love working in the round, I love watching the pattern develop… it is just crazy addictive for me. Every time I do a colorwork project, I think that everything I knit should be like this. I JUST LOVE IT.

So this tiny hat (sized for 6 months only in the pattern) almost flew off my needles. I could not get enough of it. I took lots of pictures of it and put it on Instagram. I was so pleased with myself and my hat that I could not get over it.

Then, I made pom poms. That wasn’t so bad, but I really winged it and just wrapped the yarn around my fingers and sort of improvised it. It worked well enough. I thought a lot about the Mason Dixon post about pom poms and trimmed more than I thought I should. It was good advice.

And then it was over. And I was a little sad. Such a fun, addictive, bite-sized project. It was SO MUCH FUN to make. I hope the baby can feel my good vibes every time he wears it. I know BK was feeling the good vibes when she (sort of – while continuing to try to play) modeled it for me. Look at those curls!!!

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FO: Reindeer wish you a happy new year!

I LOVE reindeer. Just love them. They are the main theme of my holiday decor, to be honest. I think it stems from my obsession with the 1964 Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer movie. It is tied for my favorite Christmas movie (original Miracle on 34th Street is the other). And nothing says Christmas quite like Santa’s support staff. 🙂

So even though I had a couple of projects on the needles that I planned to take to England when we went in mid-December (a Playful Stripes cardigan and Adrift fingerless mitts), my plans changed rapidly the day before we left when Ravelry displayed Donder and Blitzen in my pattern highlights. Reindeer, hearts, colorwork – I was already on board. I knew immediately that I had just what I wanted in my stash already, and it happened to be very similar to an already completed project. I had grey left over from my somewhat ill-fated Wildflower cardigan in Cascade Venezia, and some pink that I had been hoarding dyed by my good friend Mary Ann from A Good Yarn a few years ago.

I cast on in JFK airport during our layover, and powered through the ribbing. Then I attempted (and failed miserably) to sleep on the plane. Once I hit the colorwork at my in-laws house, I thought I was going so fast, I should have packed a few other projects. That progress slowed down significantly during the week, as we had activities of some sort nearly all day. So on the plane ride home, I didn’t watch any movies and just buckled down on this sucker. I wanted it done before Christmas, and we were flying on December 21. And I finished it! Boom!

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Then we got home, and it was nearly tropical. I didn’t even get to wear it before Christmas. 😦

But I’ve worn it once since then. Even though I would normally celebrate this strangely warm weather, having a lovely finished hat I can’t wear is making me a bit irritated. I guess you can’t have it all!

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These are unblocked shots, because honestly, if I wait to block it before taking pictures, the pictures will never get done! So here it is. I LOVE IT.

I love it so much I’ve started another one for BK. Though I’ve made so many foolish errors on the colorwork it’s unbelievable, so progress has been slow. I would like to blame it on the few mods I’ve made to the chart to make the hat more shallow for her little head, but that’s not been the real issue. I just need to focus! Hopefully, I’ll be back soon with a wee coordinating one!

And happy new year! Wishing everyone a fantastic 2016, filled with joy and fun!

 

FO: Ahoy Princess Beret

I don’t really do Christmas knitting. After the Dishcloth Debacle of 2010, I don’t really do Christmas knitting.

Well, I say that, but I do some. Last year, I made Mr Snips a Penguin Pillow (totally charming, but BORING to knit), and a year or two before that, I made my Mom and Dad a throw blanket for their new home, and once I made my Mom a shawl… I guess it happens sometimes.

But it has to be a special person and a special project to get me to commit to deadline knitting.

My niece has had a very rough year. And the only way I can think to show her that I think about her every day, and that I am proud of her, and that I am always rooting for her, is to knit her something.

She’s still in college and has a lot of long walks to class, so I thought a hat may be the most useful for the winter months.

I picked out this hot pint/reddish color for her for two reasons: 1) her school color is red and 2) I thought it would look amazing against her very dark brown hair. I had admired this Ahoy Princess pattern for some time, and thought it was the right time to finally knit it.

I hemmed and hawed quite a bit on what version to knit, since the pattern gives you a choice of intricate or simple cables and a choice to add some more repeats to make a slouchy hat. I was really thinking I wanted intricate and slouchy, but I did not trust I’d have enough yarn. I only had 200 yards, and the pattern called for 190 for the regular adult non-slouchy version. I told myself that I’m always a yardage coward, that I always have tons left over because I make a conservative choice out of fear that I’ll run out of yarn. Be bold, I told myself. Go slouchy! But I couldn’t muster up the courage and stuck to my cowardly ways and THANK GOODNESS. Do you see how much yarn I have left?! Hardly any.

yarn leftover from my Ahoy Princess beret

This color is so hard to capture – both red and pink. This is probably the best picture for being true to color.

 

And really, I think it has enough slouch in it as it is. I think any more may have been too much. But hey, I’m not really down with the kids any more (I’m a mom! I’m in my thirties! When did this happen?!?!) so maybe extra slouchy would have been cool, too.

So… final result was intricate cables and the regular non-slouchy version. I really love it a WHOLE LOT.

Finished Ahoy Princess beret

This was my first time using Madelinetosh yarn. It was crazy soft and lush to knit. However, when I gave it a Soak, all of my water instantly went hot pink, and it also dyed the towel I dried it in. I’ve had other yarns bleed before, but I’ve never had them permanently stain my towel before. I’m not sure if that’s because it’s such a vivid red, and I don’t do much vivid red, or if it’s something specific to MadTosh. Regardless, the final product still looks and feels amazing, so I guess I’ll give it a pass.

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TFA Year in Colour Club

As a little treat to myself, I joined the Tanis Fiber Arts Year in Colour Club.

I have only joined one yarn club before, and that was when my parents generously gifted me a Three Irish Girls subscription. I asked for the superwash worsted weight option (you can see one of those here). And while I loved the yarn, I’ve struggled a bit with what to make with one skein of worsted.

So I was excited to find the TFA club, since they also provide you a one-skein pattern that specifically goes with the yarn you receive. I received my first shipment two weeks ago (or maybe three?), since I signed up too late for the initial January shipment. Here are my beautiful Orchid and Fiesta yarns!

My first shipment of TFA club yarnI am ridiculously excited about both colors – they are even more stunning in person than they are in this photo. The January skein is destined to be these gorgeous Cavalcade Socks. The March shipment came with the Causerie Hatt and Mitts pattern. I don’t know if I’m totally sold on the cable cuff yet, but I’m willing to try!

I’m dreaming of winding up that Orchid yarn and casting on for the Cavalcade Socks, but I’m forcing myself to finish up my Hermione’s Everyday Socks first. I’m very close to finishing, but my lukewarm attitude towards them is slowing me down. The benefit to my new job is that Mr Snips and I can carpool about half the time, and that equals knitting time! I’m only averaging about 4 rows per way (which is kind of sad), but I can’t help running my mouth while we are in the car, too! Maybe I can hunker down and crank those out so I can get started on this brighter, fresher, spring-ier pair.

FO: Hermione’s Godric’s Hollow Hat

This hat. Oh my. This was perhaps the irritating/frustrating hat project ever.

When I saw this hat in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part I, I adored it. I wanted one. I don’t know how the costume people did it, but every Harry Potter movie has made me covet at least one knitted item. And this was it for 7.1.

Hermione's hat from the movie

I scoured Ravelry for someone who had figured it out. There are a few patterns, but I wasn’t convinced that any of them were really right. The one that seemed the most right out of all the wrongs was this one. I started it.

I hated the suggested Alternate Cable Cast-On. I’m pretty sure I screwed it up in several places, because the knit/purl match-up wasn’t really right once I started knitting.

Then I hated the Daisy Stitch. I had chosen a really luxurious yarn, Scrumptious DK/Worsted, that is 55% merino and 45% silk. It was the right color and had a bit of a soft halo like Hermione’s appears to have. But what felt like butter in the skein turned into a very split-tastic knitting experience. I was knitting on nice metal needles, but they were really not pointy enough for the numerous k3tog and such. If I had the right cable length, I think the stiletto Signature needles may have helped a little, but I wasn’t going to purchase some just for this hat. My hands had horrible cramps after working just one or two rows from the effort of forcing so many k3tog. I had little yarn pieces sticking out from where the yarn had split and I hadn’t quite caught it all in the stitch.

I got so angry with it all, that I put the hat away for several months (I started in August!). I flirted with the idea of making my own pattern based on a stitch pattern I had used before. I even cast on a swatch to see how it would go, but got frightened of having to figure out an elegant way to decrease it all at the top and scrapped that too. (I’ve never designed any knitting patterns before!)

I pulled the 2″ or so of hat I had done out of the bottom of my knitting bag in the new year with the intention of ripping it back and maybe starting a different version of the Hermione hat. I thought I should try a sample row or two to see if I hated it as much as I remembered. And even though the daisy stitch was still difficult with the needle/yarn/pattern combo, I could do it without the cramps. I decided to soldier on. So, very slowly, I put on a row or two at a time.

I paused again before the decreases, wondering if I should make it longer than the suggested 6″ before decreasing. I went to 6.5″ and then started decreasing. I finally finished it in early March.

I put it on, and it is tight. Not too tight to wear, but there is certainly no give to it. And it doesn’t fit like Hermione’s. I’m a little disappointed in it, I must confess. The yarn is lush and nice to wear. The hat looks fine on. My husband says it’s a nice hat and looks good on me and that there is nothing wrong with it. But my inner voice says, “This is not really the Hermione hat.”

Hermione's Godric's Hollow Hat

I am glad I did 6.5″ before decreasing, or it would not fit on my head. And while I did block it, I blocked it flat – not over a plate as the pattern suggested, saying it would make it more Hermione-esque. I don’t think it would have helped much.

I will wear this hat, and maybe even like it if I can put aside the memories of knitting it. But I will continue my search for the perfect Hermione hat. So if you happen to be a gifted hat designer, please create a pattern and let me know!