Blue Harvest Finished

I finished Blue Harvest in time to wear them on a cold foggy day and they are satisfyingly toasty warm.  Now I have a matching set of hat (Esme), scarf (Tudora) and mittens in the same yarn and all in Aran style; I think this is my first ever set to own.  Now if it would just snow, I could really put them to use.  On second thought, I think I can do without the snow.

Pattern: Yellow Harvest Mittens (Ravelry link) by Mari Muinonen (designer’s blog), published in
Vogue Knitting, Fall 2008
Yarn: Manos del Uruguay in Cornflower (from my stash)
Needles: 6.0 mm/US 10


Tangled up in blue cables.

Blue Harvest: one down, one to go.

I was all set to post about starting Yellow Harvest Mittens (Ravelry link) from Vogue Knitting Fall 2008 while watching the presidential inauguration, and then the week got away from me, and now we have on hand, literally, one finished mitten. I’m using my stashed Manos del Uruguay in Cornflower, so I decided to call the project Blue Harvest. This Manos stuff is rather a handful to deal with, it’s so bulky and, lumpy, and the needles just slip out. I used two circular needles the first mitten (pictured below), and it made it just a bit confusing for me, so I’ve found my doublepointed needles and will use them for the second one.  The first mitten has gone quite well and using an I-cord as the foundation for the stitches makes it very intriguing, since I’d never done that before.  The pattern relies on charts and utilizes 8 different cables stitches (left- and right-orientated), so I took out the colored pencils and colored the chart to make it less confusing (it’s just me, I have a short attention span).

Mitton one: cuff

On Thursday, I popped into that old Seattle fiber arts institution, The Weaving Works (I’ve been going there since I was a kid tagging along with my mother—a long time ago), and visited with the all the lovelies, and met the new generation of Manos del Uruguay. Now I know that the Manos I have is the old generation stuff. As you may recall, I bought my Manos about 4 years ago, and that was when it was spun very unevenly, making it hard to get good gauge with. Well it seems that things have changed, and if only I’d bought new Manos, I probably wouldn’t get these spots of thin stitches where the fiber thins from bulky to fingering; makes for a drafty mitten. But then I wanted to use my stash, and well, there you go. So, I find myself fiddling with the stitches on the finished mitten to close the thin spots where the yarn is fingering weight.

I can see clearly now, the yarn is gone.

In looking around in Ravelry, I found out that the designer of Yellow Harvest Mittens, Mari Muinonen, is also the designer of the one and only Sylvi, which set many a knitter’s heart a flutter last fall, and which I still long for, and that she is also the same knitter whose modification of Tychus is something to be admired.  Now it all comes together: this woman is a powerhouse of creativity!  Such whimsy she incorporates into her designs.

I’ve also started started Shawl Neck Cardigan (Ravelry link) by Vladimir Teriokhin from Knit.1, Winter 2007. It was took a bit of hunting to find this issue, but I was able to track one down at Hilltop Yarn East at 50% off.  Shawl Neck Cardigan was something that I found while digging around Ravelry, and it looked like a fairly reasonable thing to make; not too involved, which is good, because these days knitting time has diminished further and I’m down to about an hour or two every day.  I’m using Elann Peruvian Quechua (65% Alpaca/ 35% Tencel) for this, which I’ve never used before, and it seems pretty nice stuff: it has a firmness to it, but it is soft and shiny.

Cornflower Tudora Epilogue

No sooner had I finished Tudora than I realized I didn’t quite like how it looked (perfectionism!), so I ripped out the seed stitch buttonhole band and got more creative.  According to the pattern, after knitting the bulk of Tudora, you add the buttonhole band just as you would for a cardigan by picking up stitches on a finished edge.  Then the band is made using garter stitch, which I had originally changed that to seed stitch, and you incorporate the buttonhole into as it is worked.  But for my Tudora there were a few things going on that I wanted to change:  I wanted the majority of the buttonhole band to match the rest of the cabling of Tudora and I wanted more over lap where the scarf is buttoned, as well as a looser fit.  I also didn’t care for the abrupt drop-off of the top edge of the buttonhole band (see top photo below).

Original buttonhole band.

New buttonhole band.

Not wanting to frog the whole scarf in order to make the buttonhole band match, I ended-up cutting off the existing band and casting on the desired number of stitches so as to create an extension piece.  This  meant working the buttonhole differently, especially because I wanted a verticle buttonhole as the pattern calls for, and which I think is best suited for the project.  So for the buttonhole, I k2tog at the desired location, added another piece of yarn so that for a few rows I was working both sides of the buttonhole with two different strands of yarn concurrently.  At the top of the buttonhole I made a new stitch and resumed using one strand of yarn.  Since Tudora has a sloped top edge, I worked the top edge so that it sloped and it didn’t have that abrupt drop-off look on the original band anymore.  I did end up putting a small amount of seed stitch for the end of the buttonhole band to give some stability and to minimize curling edges.  I had to sew the new buttonhole band on since I didn’t pick-up stitches for it, so the area where it’s sewed-on is somewhat visible, but it’s not too obvious.

I’m pleased with how it all ended, except that I don’t care for how the lumpy texture of Manos del Uruguay makes the edges of Tudora look so uneven, but I did want to use some of my stash yarn and Manos was calling to me. It’s okay, it doesn’t have to look machine-made. Right?

Cornflower Tudora

My first finished object of the new year is Tudora.

I like Tudora’s design because it provides good neck coverage and doesn’t have long, scarf ends getting in the way when bending over.  Bending over may not seem like a big deal, but when you’re in a public bathroom helping your young child do what he needs to do, bending over and having scarf ends dangling precariously over a toilet is something you just don’t want.  Am I right?

Tudora is an easy pattern, and I made it while watching, appropriately enough, the movie Elizabeth I starring the fabulous Dame Helen Mirren in installments.  Speaking of Helen Mirren, I hope I look that amazing in a bikini at 62.  Anyway, back to my knitting:  it’s a good thing that I made it in installments because it’s meant to be tightly knit, and using Manos del Uruguay probably made it even tighter, so I knit it in mostly 2-row increments at a time, and then gave my fingers, hands and wrists a good shake and stretch afterward. Manos is probably not the best-suited yarn for Tudora, perhaps just a tad too thick and lumpy.

Brass button from the collection of vintage buttons I inherited from my grandmother.

Pattern:  Tudora by Cheryl Marling, from Knitty, Winter 2007
Yarn: Manos del Uruguay in Cornflower (stash collection)
Needles: 2.75 mm / US 2 circular
Button: personal vintage button collection
Modification: instead of the garter stitch buttonhole band, I added one more stitch and made it a seed stitch buttonhole band.

The yarn, by the way, was another skein of the four skeins of stashed Manos from a few years ago, and that leaves me with enough to make mittens with. I’m thinking Yellow Harvest Mittens (Ravelry link) from Vogue Knitting, Fall 2008.  I’m a bit excited, because if I make the mittens out of the remaining Manos, then combined with the Esme hat I made at the end of December and Tudora, I’ll have a full matching set to wear for those rare times when it actually gets cold enough to wear a full set!  I know it sounds rather silly coming from a knitter, but I’ve never had a full matching set of hat, scarf and mittens, just bits and pieces, so whenever I needed to bundle up, I looked rather mismatched: red scarf, blue hat and dark brown driving gloves.  It’s the little things in life.  You know?

Along with my first finished object of the new year, and refusing to be out-done, Zephyr, went out and caught his first mouse of the new year, and delightfully decapitated it on the deck off of the dining room (at least he knows where to dine), leaving the body for our, er, enjoyment.  As much as I would love to share the object of my revulsion, I’ll spare you the picture.

Zephyr looking too logy to look up after his New Year kill.

Why they don’t make canned food for cats out of mice, rats and goldfish?  You laugh, I know you are, but I’m serious!  Okay, it wouldn’t be that bad, I mean they already kill something to make canned cat food.  Right?  So why not have a whole farm of these little rodents instead?  The kitties would thank us for it.  I really don’t think kitties have a taste for something out of their food chain.  Can you see a kitty taking down a cow?  Think about it:  Mouse & Oat Grass Buffet with Catnip Coulis in a can, coming to a pet grocer near you.

Welcoming a new year!

Written by Lydia

Today’s post opens with my latest finished object, Veste Croisée, which I finished knitting on December 31, but hadn’t been able to post about until now because my son and I celebrated the changing of the year with a good dose of stomach flu.  After days of laundry and sprinkling baking soda on the strategic smelly spots of carpeting throughout the house (anyone with children will understand this), we are doing well and I have just completed the final finishing touches to the sweater.  It has been blocked, and I have sewn on the button, added the button-loop and ties at key points according to pattern suggestions, and it is a done deal.

The sleeves took a lot longer to finish than I thought because they are longer than a typical sleeve:  most sleeves join at the top of the shoulder where they meet the joining of the front and back panels, but Veste Croisée sleeves extend up the shoulder and between the front and back panels to meet with the collar (also known as “saddle shoulder” sleeves), so they went on forever to knit.

It’s a very different style of sweater, but I like it for that. I am very happy with it, and like the look of it so much, I might just have to make another in a slightly heavier yarn. It’s interesting that the two consecutive sweater jackets I have made are both very similar in the front: both Cabled Coat and Veste Croisée have extra fabric that drapes down the front. Maybe I’m in a break-the-mold kind of mood these days in my knitting that I chose designs out of the ordinary.

It’s a very easy pattern, being about 80% stockinette, and with rest of it in garter stitch for the edging. The combined yarns used are of a very fine quality and are very comfortable to wear against the skin, lacking any itchiness whatsoever.

Pattern: Veste Croisée by La Droguerie (in French, and available only with purchase of relevant pattern yarn)
Yarns: Alpaga and Plumette, both from La Droguerie, Paris, Ile-de-France
Button source: La Droguerie
Needles: 4.5 mm/US 7

I’m looking forward to life as normal for while, since it was a crazy holiday season with the wild weather here, causing the repeated re-scheduling of the family Christmas dinner. No one could to get to our neighborhood until December 28 because the softening snow had made our driveway impassable to every vehicle (we just had more than 2-week’s worth of recycling removed). So instead of beef tenderloin that night, the three of us dined on shrimp fried rice, which I hadn’t made in many years. But we finally had our dinner on the 28th and it went very nicely, and maybe making us all wait so long for it made the beef tenderloin taste better than ever before.

Christmas dinner stand-in

Despite recent end-of-year rough spots, it was a good year especially given our trip to Europe that, if my sister hadn’t won it, we wouldn’t have made such a trip with our son for many years to come. But above all else, the best thing about 2008 was the recent unexpected news that our son, whom we adopted as an infant almost 4 years ago in South Korea, has an infant sister available for adoption. Suddenly, we find ourselves scrambling to get the necessary documentation in order so that we can hopefully be allowed to adopt her. We had often thought about adopting again, but never really moved on it. We’d also thought that maybe one child was a fair enough deal, and that we would raise our son as an only child, but when we found about his sister, we knew that we were meant to try our best to bring her home. If all goes in our favor, we look forward to bringing home a baby girl in 2009. Maybe there will be some knitting projects to do for her….hmmm.

Well, gotta go now, I have Christmas cards to send, since the long-awaited order of our picture-cards was delayed by ice, snow and slush, arriving on December 30th instead (it was due to arrive Dec. 19).