It’s a Cocoknits Thing

When I went to Vogue Knitting LIVE Los Angeles last September, among my purchases from LIVE Marketplace was Cocoknits pattern Gisela (apologies that there are no posts about my Vogue Knitting LIVE LA adventure…yet). I was in the Habu Textiles booth and there was a sample of Gisela knit-up, so I bought the pattern and some Habu yarn on the spot. And then the whole thing cooled its heels in my closet until June, when I decided I’d like to have it to wear this summer.

Meanwhile, in listening to a Stash & Burn podcast this summer, hosts Jenny and Nicole talked about going to Stitches West and visiting the Cocoknits booth and trying on some really fun samples. I was intrigued, so I looked-up on Ravelry some of the things they saw in the Cocoknits booth at Stitches and made the connection that my Gisela and the stuff they saw were all part of Cocoknits (my mind is just too filled with daily life to make connections quickly these days). In looking on Ravelry I particularly liked Maude, but was hesitant to buy it because I wasn’t sure it would look all that good on me, so I added it to my Ravelry Favorites and thought nothing more about it.

At about the same I started Gisela, I looked at the Churchmouse Yarns & Teas class catalog for this summer and discovered that one of the same classes I’d tried to sign-up for at Vogue LIVE, but had been unable to get into was being offered: Julie Weisenberger’s European Finishing Techniques. So I signed-up. It would be perfect timing, I thought, since since I’d dropped the ball last spring and hadn’t signed my kids up for enough summer camps, taking a summer class might break things up for me a bit, and all the better that it would be in August, the month in which it hits every mom that, no matter how much you love your kids, school can’t start soon enough. I was ecstatic, both at being able to take this class, and at having the chance to take a little break to Bainbridge Island, where Churchmouse is located, even if only for a few hours. I set my sights on August.

So, I continued knitting along on Gisela, and all the while, it had still not occurred to me that I was knitting a Julie Weisenberger design. Yes, yes, even though it clearly said Julie Weisenberger and Cocoknits on the pattern: I tell you, I am just too preoccupied with nonsense these days! Not until the beginning of August rolled around, when I was beginning to wonder if I would get Gisela finished in time to wear this summer, was it that I looked at the pattern made the connection between Gisela, the patterns discussed on Stash & Burn, and the Julie Weisenberger class I’d registered for. That realization was like the heavens opening up and and hearing angels singing. I also wondered if I should have my head examined for not making the connection sooner. Suddenly I realized it would be great fun to wear my Gisela to class, and really set about knitting it in earnest.

Fast forward to two nights before the class: at about midnight I finished seaming Gisela, washed and blocked it. The next morning I put it on to wear to my husband’s boss’s family day at his beach house, and discovered that one sleeve was about 5 cm (2″) shorter than the other! So I spent to the whole ride to the beach house, missing the scenery on the way, picking-out the seams of the short sleeve, ripping-out the cap and knitting up the length. Midnight before the class, I finished re-seaming the sleeve, washed and blocked it again.

The morning of the class was no picnic, as it involved taking my kids to a birthday party in Bellevue on the Eastside, leaving them there with my husband and dashing off to the ferry in downtown Seattle. This would have been easily accomplished if not for the fact that the everything was against me that day. On State Route 520, the Evergreen Green Point Floating Bridge (yes, we really do have bridges that float here, maybe because it rains so much here—I’m kidding) was closed that weekend, so what would have been a quick hop across Lake Washington by toll bridge to Seattle to catch the ferry became a detour by way of the other floating bridge, the Murrow Floating Bridge (this is the bridge that infamously sank in 1990). Once in Seattle, and not living in Seattle proper anymore, I’d forgotten that Seattle is in the midst of its very own traffic nightmare at the waterfront where the ferry dock is because the decaying Alaskan Way Viaduct is being replaced with a tunnel, got caught-up in the mess and missed the last ferry to get to Bainbridge Island in time for class (I thought I’d be at the dock 45 minutes ahead of departure). By the time I was parked in line at the dock I still had a good hour before I could catch the next ferry and stew in my frustration knowing that I would now be an hour late for Julie’s class.  My mood was not much alleviated with a brisk walk through downtown while the car sat parked in line, however I made my way to Watson Kennedy Fine Home and bought some locally made JonBoy Absinth & Black Salt Caramels, and I ate these back at the car with the gluten-free peach hand pie from Maninis I’d brought with me.  Not healthy eating, but when you miss a ferry for a knitting class, who cares about healthy.

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Maninis’ peach hand pie

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Seattle

Having caught a later ferry, I arrived one hour late for a 3-hour class, but Julie graciously caught me up during break, and all was good.  I’m really glad I didn’t give up just because I arrived late, as Julie is one of those rare people who not only enjoys her craft, but is an enthusiastic and generous instructor, and she had lots to share with us to help us improve our craft.  Among the things she covered in the class was: long-tail cast on without running out of yarn, invisible seaming, decreasing and increasing without gaping stitches or stitches that stand-out or detract from the garment, a call for the end of “pick-up and knit x-number of sts” and replacing it with a simple, more realistic pick-up method.

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invisible seaming

After class, I tried on probably half of her samples, and realized this woman is gifted with a creativity for designs that are often unique and yet feminine. In the end I bought the patterns for Maude and Veronika.

As for Gisela: I am surprised how much I like wearing it. I knew I’d like it, but I wasn’t too sure about wearing something with such an open stitch gauge, but I like the way it dresses-up a t-shirt on a summer day and gives a hint of warmth when in an air-conditioned environment. I’ve read that one or two people on Ravelry don’t like the way the collar doesn’t lie flat, but it doesn’t bother me, since I like the way it is, with it’s own character. It’s perfect for me.

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Details
Pattern: Gisela, by Julie Weisenberger
Yarn: Habu Textiles, N-80 (silk-wrapped merino), colorway 3 (green merino with black silk thread)
Needles: 5.0 mm (US 8)

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Confessions of a missing bloggist

I confess, that despite my absence from blogging I have been knitting, and therefore, I also confess that I have not been blogging about it. Having said that, I think it’s time to do some catching-up.

From the depths of my knitting projects languishing in neglect, I present Bird’s Eye Shawl. Never reaching it’s originally intended size, and having become bored at the one-third point, I decided to call it “finished” and began casting-off last fall. The cast-off was so laborious, I didn’t finish it until April. Actually, I’m now glad that I didn’t make it bigger, because the rate of increases would have made the ends so long that I would not be able to wear it much. As it is, the ends are so long and tapering that I don’t know what to do with the ends; they get caught on things, trapped in car doors, pulled by small children. The resulting fabric is beautiful, and so soft, but I find I don’t wear it much because of the long ends. If I were to do it differently, I’d forgo the increases and make it into a rectangular wrap. Finished size: 200 cm (78 in.) x 85 cm (33 in.), blocked.

Details
Project: Bird’s Eye Shawl, by Sharon Miller
Yarn: Heirloom Knitting Merino Lace
Needles: 3.00 mm/US 2.5

Next to finish was Langston, in response to my daughter’s request, “Please knit me a sweater.” I added a few more rows to the bottom and cuffs, and a crocheted a little reinforcement to inside of the collar, to keep it slipping off of my 4-year old’s shoulders. Of course, by the time I finished it, she wasn’t able to wear it because the weather had turned too warm for wool sweaters on an active and vivacious 4-year old, but it should fit her fine this fall because it’s pretty roomy.

Details
Project: Langston, by Teresa Cole
Yarn: Knit Picks Gloss DK
Needles:
3.25 mm/US 3 & 3.75 mm/US 5

Then came Chinook Scarf, an end-of-the-year gift for my son’s first grade teacher. Fortunately, I started Chinook in April, and by most accounts of others on Ravelry who had knitted it before me, there was a good chance it would be done in less than a month, and it was. It is a narrow crescent-shaped scarf that started-out kind of fun and by about the middle began to drag on. The only thing that kept me going was that looming deadline of the last day of school in June, and still, it is a fun scarf, and I am toying with idea of making another one. It was tricky to get the I-cord edging just right because of it’s tendency to curl, and I found that if I kept the three stitches that comprise the I-cord quite loose, the curling wouldn’t be as pronounced. The other thing I realized, which is hard to see in many of the finished photos on Ravelry, is that the scarf is and arced crescent, and therefore to some degree the curling of the edge creates the arc.

Details
Project: Chinook Scarf, by Ali Green
Yarn:
Claudia Hand Painted Yarns Fingering
Needles:
3.5 mm/US 4

For fun and relief after Chinook, I went onto Twig. I had this ball of fingering weight Shetland wool yarn loitering around in my stash, begging for a chance on stage, and I could leave it standing in the wings anymore, and I needed something fun and quick. I have no idea what brand it is nor could I trace it to any project I’d ever made, but I loved it’s peaty green color and was desirous of making a neck wrap of it. Based on the yarn weight, I approximated that I had about 150 yards of it, which gave me very few options, and then I saw Twig, and I knew that that was the one. Twig was fun to knit and, as you can tell from the pictures, very unusual to make. Great fun and I look forward to wearing it under a coat or sweater this fall.

Details
Project: Twig, by Grace Mcewen
Yarn: stashed fingering weight Shetland yarn

Elm Row came out of buying a skein of Cascade Yarns Alpaca Lace for a specific project and then deciding to use something else, so into the stash this went. I found Elm Row while sifting through Ravelry using the Advanced Pattern search (my favorite method of finding patterns) and knew that this would be perfect for Alpaca Lace. I loved knitting this, although I had to keep back-tracking and fixing mistakes because I was trying to knit it while watching movies. I fell in love with the yarn, and it’s so indescribably soft, I would love to have a whole bed made of it. I think this will probably be my new go-to scarf this fall and winter.

Details
Project:
Elm Row, by Anne Hanson
Yarn:
Cascade Yarns Alpaca Lace
Needles: 3.25 mm/US 3

Since I didn’t use all of the skein of the Alpaca Lace for Elm Row, I just had to do something with as much of the remainder as I could. So I decided to look at Anne Hanson’s patterns and found Hellebores, which consists of a beret and wristlets, so I chose the wristlets. I like these wristlets! Just enough lace where it counts and ribbing where the cuffs are hidden by a coat sleeve. This pattern was easier to knit while watching movies, and it went along quite smoothly. I have to say that I am impressed with Anne Hanson’s patterns; she has such a sizable collection to choose from and they are well-written and interesting to knit.

Details
Project: Hellebores Wristlets, by Anne Hanson
Yarn: Cascade Yarns Alpaca Lace
Needles: 3.25 mm/US 3

Jacob’s Delight

The one and only, Jacob’s Delight is done. What a fish tale it was!  There were some ups and downs and Jacob’s Delight sometimes seemed like a soap opera, but it’s done and I can no longer refer to it as the fish that got away, and no longer is it relegated to that sector in my mind where it once inhabited, the What Could Have Been sector.  I am really happy that this pattern, that which I first saw in the first ever knitting book I bought in 1984, the very same book from which I made my very first knitted item, has become a dream realized.  Not only that, but something I can actually wear, knowing it turned-out quite well, unlike that other ill-fated sweater I made from the same book which turned-out pretty poorly.

I managed to work around the pattern error indicating the wrong amount of purple yarn (too little), and all visible areas requiring purple are purple, and in the end I was able to make the picot edging for the pockets in purple without shortening the edging afterall, even though I’d done that in my previous post. The only place where I had to do something different to make up for the shortage of purple was the insides of the pockets, which I made in brown, instead, using a bit of purple for the insides where it would be visible from the opening. By the way, I can’t let it go and just have to say that there’s some kind of irony in the fact that purple was the color I ran low on, since isn’t the only place in the bible that my name (Lydia) occurs is where it says she was a merchant of purple fabric? I don’t know why that seems ironic to me, but it does. I mean what are the chances in a biblically-titled pattern involving 8 colors that purple would be the one I’d have to scramble for? I’m just sayin’….

Picot Pockets

Details
Pattern: Jacob’s Delight by Pip Hues from The Sweater Book by Amy Carroll (Copyright 1983)
Yarn: Brown Sheep Lamb’s Pride Worsted
Needles: US 10/6.0 mm, US 9/5.5 mm, US 7/4.5 mm

While shooting pictures of the coat, the first bee of the season stopped by and tapped on my window. I was so happy to see her I had to take a picture of her, as well.

Close Shave

Jacob’s Delight is close to completion and it should be done this week. I had a close shave with Project Disaster Syndrome* when I faced the reality of not having enough purple. About halfway through the coat I started to get the funny feeling this might happen, but I kept telling myself all would be fine.  When I’d completed 80% of the coat things started looking really bleak on the purple supply and I began digging around all of the places where my yarn lives in hopes of finding a swatch or two of it.  After days of frantic searches and digging around the clutter at the bottom of two closets I miraculously came up with a swatch of purple weighing 1.2 ounces/34 grams (57 yards/52 meters) from a previous uncompleted project (the felted diaper bag I never made (6 years ago).  With the additional purple yarn, I was able to finish almost all of the areas of the coat needing purple, with the exception of the pocket edging and seaming; for the pockets, I had to make the picot edging more narrow and for the seaming I’ve found some other wool yarn in my stash with a purple hue.

The catastrophe I’ve managed to avert is the result of an error in the pattern, one of many, I’ve been discovering.  Although many of the errors have been rather small, this one, as any knitter would agree, is a big deal.  The pattern calls for 3 ounces (85 grams) of purple, and I had about 6 ounces (170 grams) on hand in my stash when I started the project, with one of the skeins weighing-in at its purchased weight of 4 ounces (113 grams), and therefore I thought I had more than a sufficient amount of that colorway.  As a I worked through the first half of the coat, taking-in just how much purple the garment is comprised of, I began to think 3 ounces sounded rather optimistic.  The odd thing is, in contrast the pattern calls for 8 ounces of the main color (gray), yet anyone looking at the coat can see the amount of gray is very little, whereas it can also be seen that purple is by far the dominant or main color of the coat, something that I kind of noticed but chose to follow the pattern as written in faith.  I guess I won’t know for sure how much gray is actually required until I finish the gray collar and gray hem.

*Project Disaster Syndrome (PDS) – A severe case of panic brought on by the situation of working on a project and progressing so far (having completed at least 50% of it) that there’s no going back, no ripping it all out, accompanied by thoughts of “I’m in too deep” and “I’ve spent too much time and/or money” racing through one’s head, but realizing that you’ve really, truly messed-up to either through one’s own idiocy or inaccuracies in the pattern, and that one may have to trash the whole project, at which point one big UGH! is uttered from one’s mouth, along with the requisite profanity of one’s choosing.

Wild Ride

If Jacob’s Delight were a novel, it would be an epic. Such twists and turns, such drama, such joy. Maybe that’s overstatement. You see, I’ve made cardigans and sweaters using top-down, sleeve-to-sleeve, and bottom-up methods, but never anything like that of Jacob’s Delight and it makes for a wild ride. Overall, the coat is knit cuff-to-cuff, but it’s not that simple. It starts at the left cuff, works up the left sleeve, then divides the stitches with half to a stitch holder and the other half worked and added onto to make the front left panel, binding-off after the buttonband. Then we go back to the saved stitches at middle upper arm and cast-on additional stitches to work on the left back, and from there to complete the back all the way to the right side, and then down the length of the right sleeve, pick up saved right upper arm stitches and complete the right front, ending at the right buttonband. Got that? Oh, and the pockets are cast on as you go around the sweater, with the cast-ons put on stitch holders to be worked at the end. There will be seams of about 8″ long running lengthwise from the middle upper arm to the shoulder to sew-up later, and the collar and the hem border along the bottom will be pick-up and added on at the end.

Completed left front, left sleeve, and beginning of left back.

I tried reading ahead before I started, but just couldn’t grasp how it was supposed to go, and now that I’m almost done with the left side, I am amazed that anyone could come up with such configuration. It has to be just about the most entertainment I’ve had in a long time, and it’s entirely doable, but just very, very different. It certainly dusts the cobwebs off my brain. I just can’t imagine how anyone would come up with such a configuration, but then that’s probably why I don’t design sweater patterns.

To top off last week’s mayhem in my life, I ended-up with a nasty case of Pink Eye in both eyes. I’d never had it before and it never occurred to me that that’s what I had, so I went most of last week with my eyes in a miserable state until a friend who works for an opthamologist told me I had pinkeye. I learned a few things about this highly contagious ailment: that you don’t just catch it from other people, but you can also develop it from being sick (as I did), that high doses of vitamin C (2,000-4,000 mg) throughout the day reduce the intensity and aid with healing, and that very warm compresses also alleviate the symptoms (thanks to my ever so handy Prescription for Nutritional Healing book for these at-home solutions). That Thursday night after my friend’s observations, I had 1,000 mg. vitamin C (Emergen-C), and put very warm compresses on each eye; these two things reduced the pain and blurriness sufficiently. I finished-off sleeping with a wet compress on my eyes that night to keep my eyes from pasting shut, which wasn’t easy because I that compress got cold at night, but I just couldn’t stand my eyes being crusty one more morning.  I was glad to get started on optical antibiotics the next day.

The sun came out today…

And suddenly, everything seemed more doable.  I feel like I’ve been living in a cave for the past few weeks.  Normally, January doesn’t hit me like that since the days start getting longer; rather it’s December that affects me that way.  Even Zephyr was happier and today seemed a good day to post.

Feeling good, despite the beginnings of what may be the flu, it just seemed like a good time to throw my knitting down on the floor and take a picture.

I dropped a teaser in my last post, way back on December 25th (sorry!), saying that I’d begun work on something that isn’t another My So-Called Scarf (which I personally find borders on addictive) and is from the first knitting book I bought in 1984. I have long categorized it as one of my dream projects, you know “the one that got away”, or almost got away. When I first saw it in the pages of Amy Carroll’s The Sweater Book (Copyright 1983), I said, “Wow! That would be nice to make. If only…” But being new to knitting and living on a college student budget at the time, it was not the time to delve into such a project. Happily, now is the time.

Photo Copyright Amy Carroll (1983)

The kick-off was not without its set-backs. There were four re-dos of the first cuff (it’s knit vertically from cuff to cuff) alone because I couldn’t decide if I liked close-fitting cuffs for a coat (decided to leave the pattern alone), especially since the edging for the rest of the coat isn’t fitted, and then I totally messed-up on the original yarn selection and was way, way off on the gauge.  So I ended-up with good ole’ Lamb’s Pride.

I present the team for my dream coat:

Lamb's Pride Worsted by Brown Sheep

Then I discovered a typo, in which the pattern calls for no more than two colors per row in the Fair Isle tradition, and suddenly there was the odd appearance of a third color at the seam ends of the row.  Caught that before I was too far along.

And then there is the inconsistency (or is it another typo?) of one of the striping sequences that doesn’t match-up with the photo in the book.  Both striping sequences call for white/natural but in the photo one of the sequences shows brown where white is indicated, so I caught that one too.

Despite these little speed bumps, the project is now under way and I hope to see it done before it gets too warm to wear it.

So that’s what I’ve been doing, knit wise.  In between waiting for yarn orders (I tried to buy locally, but the yarn selection wasn’t good for a project like this), picked-up Birds Eye Shawl and finally made it to the end of the first skein.  Almost 4 years after I started it.

Kokopelli

Kokopelli is finished and I’m excited to have a new mild-weather jacket on hand, so much so that I haven’t blocked it yet.

I’m normally a bit wary of rolled edges, because they just bug me, but it works well for the design of this jacket, so I left them alone.

Maybe a bit too roll-y in the collar for me.

I’ve had the yarn for 7 years but, never having found a suitable pattern, hadn’t used it until now (why does that sound familiar?). Kokopelli turned out to be a good choice for it and they suit eachother well. Unfortunately, it wasn’t until I’d finished the whole thing and sewed it together that I noticed that the yarn on the outside of a couple of skeins had faded a bit, and so I have some rather curious banding on the sleeves.

faded areas

Of course, I could rip-out the sleeves and re-work them with skeins that didn’t fade, but that would mean repeat work, and I don’t like that. I’m going to be stubborn about this and let it go. It’s a hand knit sweater, and I’ll have to live with it.  I can’t imagine how this fading happened because to the best of my knowledge the yarn has been stored away from the light. I suppose this means that over time, the whole sweater will fade where it’s exposed to light, and that the inside of the rolled edges won’t. So I’ll have a nice sweater that will look crappy in the near future.

Details
Pattern: Kokopelli Jacket by Margaret Hubert, published in Simple Style by Ann Budd
Yarn: Mission Falls 1824 Cotton
Needles: 4.5 mm/U.S. 7 and 5.0 mm/U.S. 8