There is nothing as much fun as realizing, the morning of Christmas Eve Day as you're getting up to cook dinner for 15 of your most cherished family members and friends, that you are sick.  The denial of the past few days hasn't worked and you have that I-Really-Shouldn't-Be-Out-Of-Bed sick feeling.  But there's nothing to be done for it, and because of a wonderful doctor who was open that morning and kind enough to provide me with shots and antibiotics for the mush that had become of my head and chest, we managed to have a lovely dinner.  I won't bemoan the fact that I didn't individually wrap all of the kids presents, because that just wasn't happening, but my lovely family graciously made me cup after cup of tea with honey in it yesterday, and didn't so much as utter a word of discouragement as I spent the day on the couch, sleeping and knitting.

I did manage two feats of very simple knitting over the last few days, finishing the Forest Park Cowl that has been languishing in my WIP pile for several months and coming up with a way to resolve the Moto Vest issue.  Because I'm sick, you get the worst of all possible finished object photos: indoor, late-night selfies.


The Forest Park Cowl (left) was a lovely, straightforward knit in a very pleasant cabled pattern.  I started this cowl so I would have it ready and waiting for airplane knitting months ago, but after doing the set up, never picked it back up until earlier this month.  When I started it, I was still using a cable needle for cables, but by the time I got back to it, I had learned to cable without a needle.  So I'll just repeat, as a friendly reminder here, don't be afraid to lose the cable needle.  Do use the wonderful video Jody (Grannyknits4U on Ravelry) put together on learning to do this, which will make you a master of this fine skill in under five minutes.  Go forth and conquer!

The Moto Vest (right) was a completely different story.  It's knit as a scarf, with stitches picked up center back and used to form the vest part.  Although my gauge was spot on, the finished vest looked nothing like the photos on the pattern layout.  It was skimpy and awkward, and I had one of those moments last weekend where I realized I was never going to wear it.  So I sat down and frogged it back to the scarf.


After a brief moment of panic where I thought the stitches across the middle that had been picked up to add on the vest were so stretched out of shape that I would have to frog the whole thing, I reminded myself that blocking worked miracles, and carefully, so as not to get the needles wet, engaged in some strategic blocking.  It took a bit of care, but by yesterday afternoon, everything was dry and ready to go.  I took out the cast off edge and added another 24" to the length of the scarf portion and then mattress stitched the whole into a large, bulky, infinity scarf.  The result is infinitely more pleasing than the vest and ever so lovely and squishable.  This may be my favorite color of all time from the Plucky Knitter, Bohemian Blue.  I'm glad I took the plunge on this one — I'll wear it over and over again, if only I can keep it out of greedy teenage hands.


Those greedy teenage hands are likely to get whatever handknits they want at the moment, though because I got tons of uncomplaining (despite the fact that she didn't want to be photographed) help with Christmas Eve dinner and set up.  She makes the most incredible homemade mac and cheese too!  Whatever holiday you celebrate at this time of the year, I hope you've had a happy week.  I'm looking forward to knitting into the new year with you!



Last Minute Gifts: The Conversationalist Hat

Here's a quick last minute gift from a brand  new free pattern from the Plucky Knitter, The Conversationalist Hat.

image from images4-b.ravelrycache.com

I took a few liberties with the pattern, doing a bit of random "pixelating" (stranding the yarn) at the change between the colors, rather than having a firm demarcation, as the pattern dictates.  A fun, quick knit with great gifting potential.  I'm still deciding between a traditional yarn pom pom and one made of Alpaca.

image from images4-d.ravelrycache.com

All told, this took me less than half a skein of each color in snug worsted (pink a boo and twill) and only a few hours to knit.  And, you can literally knit this one while carrying on a conversation once you get the tubular cast on done.  It's a fun pattern.  This one is a gift, but I'm tempted to do another for myself.


Merry {Knitting} Christmas To Me!

I bought my self a few Christmas presents.


We can debate endlessly whether I've been naughty or nice, deserving or not, but there you have it.  I've thoroughly spoiled myself for Christmas.


I'm obsessed with Kate Davies new Buachaille Yarn.  The yarn, which is locally sourced in Scotland where Kate lives, is lovely — soft and rustic at the same time.  We honeymooned in Scotland and a little piece of my heart still lives there.  This yarn brings me closer.  I adored knitting Kate's amazing fairisle Peerie Flooers hat earlier this year and am going to use this yarn to knit her new Kokkeluri mittens.

Katebettersweater Collage

The stitch markers on the left — you've already guessed it, are cut outs from the Harry Potter series.  I'm geeky enough that I NEEDED them.  They come from Calefroadcrafts on Etsy.  On the right, the colorful fairisle sweater stitch markers are from Needleclicksetc on Etsy.  Run, don't walk!  They are cheerfully charming, well made, and snag free.  They are truly the cutest stitch markers I've purchased in a long time.  I like them so much that I've purchased a second set so I can use them to mark off repeats on cabled sweaters.

Finally, I splurged on Marie Wallin's Autumn Collection Five book. (Her Twitter feed is full of particularly lovely photos).  I've got a long term plan and yarn collection going on to knit her many- colored Sage sweater.  I thought one of the lovely fairisle scarves in this new book of hers would be good practice before I attempt the insanity of Sage.  Here is a gorgeous versions of Sage from Raveler Ingstitch.

Katesage© ingstitch

Marie Wallin's collections are always worth it for eye candy and inspiration, even when I have no plans to knit them, but Sage has stayed with me ever since it came out, and I've been slowly putting together skeins for it in the Plucky Knitter's Oxford yarn.  All of the patterns in this book and charming.  One can imagine a knitter's version of the book/move Julie and Julia, in which you would spend your days working through each of Wallin's patterns.

Hope your holidays are full of family and fun, with a side order of knitting inspiration!




Tubular Cast On For A Hat – Made Easy

IMG_8347 (1)

This morning I started the Conversationalist Hat, which calls for a tubular cast on in 1×1 rib.  I've done this successfully several times, but I always have to look it up.  So I started with the two links to the technique that are suggested in the pattern, neither of which worked for me.  I need video, not text when it comes to something like this. 

My preference is to use Judy's Magic Cast On (JMCO) to create the tubular bind on, so after deciding the pattern directions wouldn't work for me, that's where I turned.  This is a two step video watching process for me.  I strongly suggest that you take time to watch each video through before attempting the cast on.  My usual style is to watch about 30 seconds of video and dive right in, but these videos are so good that the 20 minutes you invest in watching will pay off big time in a lack of frustrating mis-attempts to create your tubular cast on.

Start with the basic video on how to do JMCO, done by none other than THE Judy herself.  (How did she figure this out?  I heard it happened while she was home sick and playing around one day. It's amazing, I don't believe I could have figured this out with decades on my hands).


Once you have these simple basics mastered, switch over to Lorilee Beltman's video on using JMCO to create a tubular 1×1 rib.


The logical question at this point is, why would you want to go to all of the bother?  And the answer is a simple one.  A traditional cast on, like my favorite, the long tail cast on, will leave you with a tight, non-stretchy line of stitches at the point of the cast on.  It won't be horrible, and I have perfectly lovely hats that I've knit this way.  But a tubular cast on permits you to create a rolled edge of seamless knit stitches.  When you use this method for tubular cast on, you will, after casting on, have your knit stitches on the front needle and your purls on the back, and when you begin to work them onto one needle follow a K1 P1 patterning, the bottom, instead of that tight cast on line, will be a sprongy, stretchy, seamless part of the knit fabric.

Cast on edge


Give it a try, as Lorilee does in the video, with a smaller number of stitches to get the hang of it.  You'll be really proud of yourself when you accomplish this cast on and very happy with the result.