New Knitting Project: Tipperary

I liked my last Norah Gaughan project, this capelet, so much, that I decided to try another.  This one, straight off of her beautiful new website in her Volume 15 pattern book.  It's called Tipperary.


In a mere five more repeats, this small start will grow into a beautiful, full shawl, that I intend to wrap around my neck like a large bulky scarf — there seems to be a lot of that going on in my life this winter, proportionate to the amount of time I'm spending up north this year.

The yarn is my new and continuing favorite, Plucky Snug.  Swoon.

This is in the Steel Cut colorway, and it is still like knitting with butter.  I really adore the merino/alpaca blend with just enough cashmere to make it perfect.  Alpaca sometimes makes me sneezy, but in this blend, I have no trouble with it at all, and none of the hairy halo that I have found annoying in other Alpaca yarns. Five skeins of snug, or roughly 550 yards of this yarn, should do it.

I'm doing something new with this one, and using an app on my IPad called Knit Companion, which makes dealing with patterns a snap.  Although I'm just learning to use it, it lets you blow up those tiny lace (or cable) charts so you can actually see them, and keep your place in the pattern with a row marker.  Some kind Ravelry knitters pointed me towards Knit Companion and I'm really glad I tried it.  You can download a free version and do a couple of tutorials to see if it's something that might work for you.  I'm really glad I found it!



My Cables & Lace Capelet: Not A Success Story, At Least, Not Yet

Cables and Lace Capelet was a pattern I wanted to knit as soon as I saw it.  It had this Outlander/Scottish Highlands vibe and looked like it would be great to throw on as I walked out the door for yoga or coffee with friends.  The pattern photo looked great.

image from images4.ravelrycache.com
(c) Berroco

I walked into this one with my eyes wide open.  There were a couple of red flags: The pattern was an older freebie and of the 15 finished projects besides the sample, virtually everyone commented on size problems, as in the finished project was way too small. One commenter said it fit her 10-year old.

When my gauge swatch, properly blocked and all, revealed that I was going to have an extra 10" or so around, I figured that would make the fit just right.  And, of course, I was wrong.

It looked good finished and blocking. (Blocking tip: I no longer weave and clip my loose ends before blocking, they will stay in place more firmly and look neater if you wait until after you block.  So you can see my tails hanging in various places).


I was still a bit worried about the length, but I was delighted by how the lacework opened up and how good the stitch definition on the cables was.  The biggest worry, though, was the collars.  I had carefully knit them to pattern legnth, but upon wet blocking, the weight of the yarn seemed to urge them onward into expansion. They looked huge. I carefully patted them back into shape, but they insisted upon growing, no matter what I did.


As it turns out, they're at least twice as long as they should be.  And the shoulders too are overlarge.  As you can see below, they slip off, instead of giving a nice snug fit.


And I mentioned that the collar had grown ridiculously long, right?  It's a horror show.


Despite these flaws, I love the capelet and I love the yarn (Madeline Tosh).  And, I'm incredibly glad I didn't do the finishing work on the collar before blocking so that I can try to fix it.

My dilemna is choosing among the two potential solutions I see.  The yarn is superwash, so I could just pop it in the dryer and hope for the best.  I've never done this before, but I know that it works in theory.  My biggest concern doing this is that I'll lose length, which is perfect right now, as opposed to circumference, which is the problem.  And, really, does anyone think that donkey ear collar is going to shrink enough?  I should have known that a yarn this bulky would expand beyond what the swatch predicted.

My Second option is ripping back to before the start of the collar, faking another lace repeat with reduced stitch count to give me a better fit in the shoulders, and then knitting a collar that is about half what the pattern calls for, knowing it will block out.  This is probably the safer option and I'm leaning that direction.

So what would you do, gentle knitters?  Any advice about superwash yarns and the folly of knitters who don't trust the pattern and listen to what their gauge is telling them?  At least future knitters for this pattern will know that in my case, the pattern was written perfectly and the proper gauge, properly blocked in the small size would have produced a perfect fit for my size medium body.


What Did You Knit This Year?



[Click on the photo collage to see the larger version]

This is my knitting year in review, or at least most of it.

2014 was a really good year for knitting in my house, likely because our Iceland trip spawned the need for lots of warm things early on and once my hat and cowl mojo got into gear, it never left me.  It was also the year I conquered lace, starting with Pale Pink Shells, knit during the Olympics, and continuing onto Rainbow Fish and Lida.  I started Lida during a trip to South Carolina in May and didn't finish her until September.  She became my constant companion, knitting a row here and there in the carpool line or the doctor's office, and I love wearing her as much as I loved knitting her.  I also knit a Citron, the oldest unknit pattern in my queue, from my favorite yarn of all time, Elliebelly Moth and Goat, a silk/cashmere blend that I dyed into a sunshine-y color, just when I needed some sunshine in my life.

Speaking of favorite yarns, late in the year I discovered The Plucky Knitter's yarns and fell in love.  Some people got up early to shop on Black Friday.  I sat in front of my computer and bought Plucky.  Lots of it. My first project was a Nevermind hat in the Plucky bulky cashmere blend called Snug.  My second project, which I only speak of with great difficulty, was a pair of beautiful merino mitts that were almost done when I stupidly left them in the Atlanta airport, never to be seen again.  I've got an Olivia shawl in the works in a worsted Plucky yarn and plan to cast on several more projects this week to get me through January and February in Plucky yarn.  Because I am in love.  Plucky has great yarn, beautiful colors and the most incredible customer service.

2014 has been a great knitting year.  Looking at my collage, I've decided I need to up my photography game in 2015, so my poor knitting models darling children can all have that to look forward to.  2015 will be a year filled with cashmere, sweaters, happy knitting, and it will, of course, be the year I start my Christmas knitting early.  I'm starting in January this year.  Really.



Finished: Little Copernicus. Started: Dream in Color

Large finished

Little Copernicus is finished.  Down to the sweet little Mother of Pearl buttons.  Very cute.  All it needs now is a baby!

I have knitting work to do.  I'm about three skeins away from finishing the endless black hole afghan.  And, I should be knitting it over the weekend as it's so big it can only be worked on at home.

But no.  Write it off to knitter's ADHD or spring fever, but I put the afghan down for the weekend.  I also bypassed two charming projects I've purchased pattern and yarn for, Norie and Laar by Gudrun Johnston, but not yet started.  And I even let the hat I'm knitting for my snowbound eldest child in some incredibly soft Eco Alpaca from Cascade Yarns sit swatched, but not started.


Instead I picked up the shrug I've been meaning to knit for my Mom for quite some time.  I have four luscious skeins of Jade Sapphire 6-ply Cashmere in the Blackberry Fudge colorway and I had selected the Dream in Color Shrug Pattern.  I selected that pattern after seeing this Shrug knit up last fall — one of the dancers at my daughter's ballet school was wearing it, and it was beyond-words-amazing.  I always have lace anxiety (really, you keep count with kids chirping about homework, the Judge whining about "where's my dinner," and a Blackberry that goes off incessantly with work) but decided to tackle it and see what happened.

Big bw

Things are always much more manageable after you start, right?  The 30 rows of ribbing zipped by in the dentist's chair (the pattern is knit from cuff to cuff).  The yarn is just fabulous.  It's soft, the knitted fabric is squishy, it's everything I like best in Cashmere.  And the lace is a simple 11 stitch 20 row repeat.  With only five sets of 11 stitches and a few extra on each end to the row, this pattern is very do-able, even for someone tackling their first lace project.  So much for the anxiety!

I'm midway through the second lace repeat and finding this to be lots of fun to knit.  But, I'm going to set it aside to pick up the afghan for the next few evenings.  It now has the benefit of being large enough to snuggle under while knitting.  And it's so soft and inviting that the time has come for me to finish it off and make it available to the whole family.


Hermione Loves Ron

This might be the cleverest pattern ever for a knit hat.  It's a simple ribbed watch cap, but the knit rows are cabled and the purl rows contain a simple lace pattern.


The pattern is available as a free download on Ravelry and its called Hermione loves Ron because it was inspired by the hat Hermione wore in the Half Blood Prince movie in the Harry Potter series.

The yarn I'm using is Classic Elite's Princess, a blend of 40% Wool, 28% Rayon, 15% Nylon, 10% Cashmere and 7% Angora.  I was intrigued by that blend when I saw the yarn on sale at my LYS.  It has been really nice to knit with, although it is not as soft as I would have expected with the Cashmere and Angora content.  I'll be interested to see how it feels after it washes up.

Partway ellie

I've completed three of the four and one-half repeats the pattern calls for before going to decreases.  Although this is meant for my oldest child, it looks like he is going to have to fight off his younger sister to get it, and really, it is a bit more of a "girl pattern" than I anticipated when I began it.  I'm starting to think about a more teenage boy friendly version that omits the lace pattern on the purl portion of the rib.



The Big Lace Shawlette — A Very Quick Knit


I have been obsessively occupied with the idea of knitting "Big Lace" for quite some time now.  I date it pretty much to the time I discovered Malabrigo's Rasta, a bulky and extraorinarily soft Merino yarn.  It's a pleasure to knit with, and very pretty in a simple cabled scarf.  But I was longing to see it knit up as big, chunky lace.

Although I couldn't find a pattern that was exactly as I envisioned, there were a few brave big lace knitters on Ravelry.  Armed with their wisdom, I cast on and knit me some B.I.G. L.A.C.E.  And, it was big and quick, because about 24 rows into it, I was done. 


Although I want to play around with the shape a little bit, I love the idea, and I love how this gently variegated yarn looks knit up in this way.  This one needs a good blocking before you get a final show and tell, but I think I'm ready to call it a success.