Neon Diamond Cowl: A Free Pattern

Today’s post is a short one! I hope everyone has had a wonderful Easter long weekend. Despite it being rather hectic for me, I found the time to finish up a pattern design I’ve been working on.


Introducing the “Neon Diamond Cowl“. This is a DK weight textured colourwork cowl that is knit in the round, twisted, and then sewn together at the end. I hope you enjoy it. I have tried to ensure that the pattern is error-free, but if you notice any mistakes, or require assistance, feel free to message me on the blog, or on Ravelry. My username is Hoodedfang.



Knit Yourself a Vacation

Everyone looks forward to vacation. Whatever their occupation, people, myself included, measure time by the breaks and days off. “Only (insert length of time) until (insert chosen holiday/long weekend)!” is something I hear a lot. I also say it a lot. Probably too much, if I’m honest, but I know I am not alone in experiencing the pre-holiday “squirrelly-ness”, where in the days leading up to a vacation, all remaining days between where you are and where your upcoming break begins feel unbearably long. It is, in essence, a pre-vacation form of purgatory.

At this point a woman with short curly brown hair stands up and glares at me through her glasses. She looks suspiciously like my mother. “I love vacation as much as the next person, but you said this was a blog about knitting! How do your rather questionable sounding work habits relate to knitting?”

I sigh, seeing the validity of her interjection, although questioning her statement about vacations. (My mother is retired). “Okay,” I respond, “I’ll quit expounding on my love and longing for vacation, and enable your knitting addicted soul.” Don’t worry; little else consumes my own soul, it must be genetic.

The reason I am sharing this with you, is indeed knitting related. It was recently the March Break here, which meant that I didn’t have to drag my derrière across public transit to work in the morning. March Break is special for me for knitting related reasons. Through the rest of the year, I am predominantly trying to put a dent in what I like to call “need to knit” projects, those projects that have deadlines associated with them, like weddings, birthdays, births, etc., but I make the March Break “all about me” knitting. I usually try to pick a pattern at the beginning of the week, and aim to have most of it done, if not completely finished, by the time I return to work.

I started doing this when I first became seriously immersed in knitting. I knit my first sweater, Kate Davies “Owls” jumper, on a road trip to Deerborn, Michigan, when I was still in university. That particular project met an unfortunate end in my washing machine a few months later, but the trend of breaking from all other knitting projects to make something especially for me was born.

This year it was even more important for me to knit something for myself, as I have so many other “need to knit” projects going on, that I have got myself into the habit of starting things for myself, and feeling guilty about making them, so either stopping work on them, or I end up gifting them to other people.

This year’s pattern was Gudrun Johnson’s “Halligarth” from Brooklyn Tweed’s Wool People Vol. 7.

At this point the audience snickers, and there are a few women with pointy sticks in the back row that exchange knowing glances and roll their eyes at one another. They look exactly like the women from my knitting group. A few anonymous voices can be heard saying “Brooklyn Tweed, again? Does she knit anything else?”

I do, in fact, knit other things. But a predominant amount of my Ravelry queue and favorites are occupied by BT patterns, and I claim that it is a matter of aesthetics. Anyway, “Halligarth” is a Shetland style hap shawl, with a lovely tree motif done in lace work. I had attempted to start this pattern back in the summer, but couldn’t quite keep my attention on the lace chart long enough to stop messing up. But this past week, while helping my parents re-tile their kitchen, and traveling to Montreal to visit “S”, I managed to cast it on, and while not quite finishing within the confines of the March Break, I did bind-off on Tuesday this week.

On this attempt I made my life a little easier, by using a piece of washi tape to block off the lines on the chart, and I moved it up the rows every time I knit a wrong side row. They are pretty similar lace rows, so I think my main issue in the summer was that I kept losing track of which row I was on. I also used stitch markers – like the pattern suggests – keeping track of all the repeats. You actually have to reset them every time you start a new repeat of the pattern as it shifts half the motif, but other than that it is a total lifesaver.

I did have a problem with gauge. Here the women in the back row roll their eyes again. I know I have looser gauge than any of the BT patterns, but I had assumed that for a shawl, it wouldn’t matter. I had elected to make the smaller version, and decided to use the recommended 4.00mm needles, but chose to use my own hand-dyed yarn, which is a single spun fingering weight superwash merino. I had approximately 650 yards of it, so I had assumed that even if my gauge was a little off, I would have enough yardage given that the original pattern called for 590 yards. I was wrong, so I stash dove and decided on the leftover grey I had used for my housemate’s Christmas “Fiddlehead Mitts”.

I love it, even with the grey trim. I actually think I like it better than I would have if it were all the same color, and it is mine, all mine. Paws off, Mom. (I’m a jerk of a daughter. It is her birthday today.) The audience scowls at me incredulously, and then breaks into a rather rancorous rendition of happy birthday for my mother, gesturing wildly with their knitting needles. A few balls of wool roll away from their owners and under their neighbors’ chairs.

           My “Halligarth” wasn’t the only thing I worked on over the break. I have also been working on an interesting textured colourwork cowl pattern that I am hoping to release on the blog sometime in the first few weeks of April. It’s in the test knitting stages at the moment, but it should be fit for public knitting consumption soon. The mothers in the audience see through my attempt to distract them from my earlier evil daughter comment by enticing them with a free knitting pattern, so I resort to this: an image of a mop-topped alpaca from the cabane au sucre we visited outside of Montreal last week.


And here is an image of the “Birthday Girl” in an epic setting.


Happy Birthday to the most wonderful of mothers, knitters, and friends.


Covered in Cables

The sweater has finally found its way back to Quebec. It is most likely adding  cabled comfort to a very studious S. He told me he loved it, and I believe him, since he wore it pretty much everyday the week he was here. Although he also told me that it was a good thing it turned out so well, otherwise he would have had to wear an ugly sweater all the time. I think there’s a compliment in there somewhere.

Anyway, I made him model it like he promised, and after some silliness I managed to get this shot. I think it’s really handsome, although I’m certainly biased, both about the sweater and the man.

DSC_0016 1

Knitting Sisyphus and the Boyfriend Sweater Curse

As a knitter, you often hear tales of superstitions associated with knitted gifts. Or, if not, you have at the very least experienced the dread that the item you’ve dedicated countless hours of your life to, sacrificed your already dwindling sanity to, lovingly donated blood and tears to, might just be under appreciated by its intended recipient.

Back in September, I decided to knit a sweater for my boyfriend as a Christmas present. S is very deserving of a hand knit sweater. I figured that four months would be a fairly generous amount of time in which to complete the project, and since S lives in a different province, I didn’t worry that I would have to lose time “hiding” my knitting.

Now at this point, for those of you who are non-knitters, I will tell you that the “boyfriend sweater” is a cursed project. Knitting lore has it that knitting your boyfriend a sweater will bring about the dissolution of your relationship, and that somehow, the sweater itself will be instrumental in this dissolution. The only thing I found “cursed” about this sweater was the process. And all of the issues, every last little one of them, well now, they were my own fault (*grins sheepishly*).

I could have helped myself. I could have made it so this project didn’t turn me into Knitting Sisyphus winding a giant ball of yarn up a hill, just to have it unravel down the other side.

For starters, I could have helped myself by choosing a less complicated pattern, but I have yet to discover a Brooklyn Tweed Addicts Anonymous group out there to help address my addiction.

DSC_0001 6

The sweater pattern I chose was Jared Flood’s “Timberline” cardigan, from the BT Men collection. I really love how every pattern in the BT collection has little details that teach new skills, and make the finished products absolutely stellar. For “Timberline”, the tubular cast-on and I-cord edging make everything look so finished, but the complicated cable pattern does make it difficult to “mindlessly knit” the thing quickly.

My second issue was with my yarn choice. I selected Briggs & Little, and since I find that BT’s Shelter tends to be a bit thicker than most of the worsted I generally work with, I picked their Light Grey “Heritage” yarn, which is actually an aran-weight yarn.

I ordered it off the Internet, which meant I didn’t actually “feel” the yarn before a sweater’s worth ended up on my doorstep. When it arrived, it looked perfect, but was stiffer and scratchier than I imagined it would be. After washing, the wool will soften, but as I discovered while knitting the first sleeve, the stiffness and thickness of the wool, combined with the fact that my gauge required me to work on needles a half size smaller than the pattern recommends, means that the cables were incredibly difficult to work, and that my hands suffered painfully. I had to purchase replacement yarn.

The second yarn I selected was Cascade Yarn’s Eco +, in colour 8401, which is another light grey. The Eco + is also an aran-weight, but has more give, and is a lot softer than the Heritage. It made things much easier to work with, and in the end, probably stopped me from getting arthritis.

My next issue was actually the fact that I entirely lack the ability to say “no”, and tend to have a bit of knitting related ADHD. I want to knit all the things.

  • People having babies? – Must knit them sweaters and blankets.
  • People want help with their knitting? Hold on, don’t touch anything, I’ll be right over.
  • People want to give hand knit gifts as presents? Hold on, let me grab my needles.
  • New pretty projects on Ravelry? Oh, it’s only commuter knitting.

I am such a knitting pushover and self-enabler.

My last major issue was what I’m calling “the Cable Debacle of 2015”. After completing the body of the sweater, I noticed what I had failed to recognize as I was knitting. I had crossed a cable the wrong way in an early repeat of the pattern. Now, I’m fairly proficient at fixing things, but there were a number of factors that made it impossible to just drop back those six stitches. The only way I could see to fix it was to rip back to the error…40 hours of knitting ago. At this point S was texting K, my housemate, to physically restrain me from doing so.

DSC_0001 3

I felt the bitter taste of failure at that point. After putting so much time and effort into the sweater, knowing that that one cable was amiss was horribly disappointing, and I really didn’t think I could handle ripping back to fix it. I whined about it on Instagram, and then some other knitter – like an angel garbed in his very own “Timberline”– gave me the solution. He sent me a link to I need orange’s blog post on fixing incorrectly crossed cables by cutting them in the centre, and then kitchener stitching them back the correct way. New skill acquired, and thank you kind stranger wherever you are, you have saved my slightly deranged sanity.

DSC_0002 6

I did not finish S’s sweater in time for Christmas. Nor did I finish it in time for his birthday. It wasn’t even finished for Valentine’s Day when I went to visit him. (Instead he got a shirt, and his very own knitting lesson.) I finally sewed the buttons on at midnight on Friday. He is coming to visit next weekend, and will finally get his long overdo Christmas sweater. He’s promised to model it.

DSC_0007 4DSC_0004 4

In all, I can’t say that I believe in the “curse” so to speak. I certainly wouldn’t have knit a sweater; especially one that gave me so many difficulties, for someone I didn’t think would appreciate it. But I’ll let you know what he says when he gets it…or if he ever puts it in the dryer…DSC_0016 1


A Little Self Philo-sew-phy

I have always needed a creative outlet. I am not unique in this; I am sure many others also have reason to make this same claim. But I find that I need to be doing something tactile, whether it be knitting, painting, sewing, baking, etc., in order to keep me in what resembles a metaphoric balance, especially during some of life’s more trying times. I have always found myself to be in a minor state of trepidation when it comes to change, and when I find myself in states of change – I find myself getting increasingly crafty. Recently, with the change of term coming on, I avoided my blossoming anxiety by learning how to sew. You might remember my foray into project bags, and my Victory Pattern’s Madelaine. Well, I continued on the “skirt tails” of those projects by attempting Grainline Studio’s Alder Shirtdress. I had seen the pattern the last time I went to The Workroom, but hadn’t been completely confident in my “sewing prowess”, so I had chosen the Madeleine pattern I discussed in the last post. But once I was finished the skirt, finding it was easier than I remembered, I convinced myself that I was sewing “invincible” and returned to purchase the needed materials. The salesgirl smartly talked me out of attempting to do view B, the one with the gathered skirt attachment, and suggested that I would learn a lot from view A. I was convinced that I was going to do view B, up until the moment I Alderpatternstarted tracing out the pattern pieces. It was obvious to even over-confident little me, that the jump from a pattern consisting of 3 pieces, to one that had around 15 pieces, was going to be challenging enough without the additional skirt section. Jen from Grainline Studios has an amazing sew-along for the Alder Shirtdress pattern on her blog, which was invaluable. I didn’t actually read the instructions that were included in my pattern; I just followed along with the blog. I think, had I been left to my own devices, I would have screwed something up. The first thing I did was trace out the pattern. I had to make a full-bust-adjustment, which Jen explains in the sew along, because all of my body parts fall in the size 10 range, except for my bosom, which falls…well, a few sizes larger than that. So instead of settling for a dress that was mostly sizes too big everywhere else, I made the adjustments by tracing out the size 10, cutting my traced pattern to give the needed space in the bust, and then retracing it and narrowing out the body back to the correct size below.PatternTracing Fullbustadjustment Once I drew everything out, I cut out all the pieces and followed the very detailed and well written instructions on the sew-along. I only had a slight issue when sewing the AlderModelledsides together, but that was due to my own indecision as I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to serge them or work french seams. I opted for french seams, after having stitched the sides together, so I had to seam rip them both and rework them. Luckily, I had added a bit of extra room when doing the adjustment to the bust, so despite losing a little bit on the sides for the french seams, it still fits perfectly! I am incredibly happy with how it turned out, but I am really glad I opted for view A, instead of B, because it was quite a lot of work. I have future plans to make it again, but for now, I’ll be putting all my crafty efforts on the knitting of the boyfriend’s sweater, so that it may have the potential of being the “belated Christmas/Birthday present, and on-time Valentine’s present”. Wish me luck with that one.

It’s Not Knitting!

It seems like I’ve gone all sorts of crafty crazy this past week, and I’ve needed something a little different from my normal ‘knit-all-the-things’ therapy to fill the void. Don’t get me wrong, knitting is still the thing that I crave to be doing every waking moment when my hands aren’t otherwise engaged, but I think in the aftermath of Christmas knitting, and a brief bit of knitting for hire, even I, a self-diagnosed compulsive knitting addict, need a slight change.

It is important that I give myself a brief respite. It would be devastating to my sanity for my knitting to become chore-like, as it is my salvation from many worldly anxieties, tedious subway rides, and infrequent long waits in doctors’ offices. And I haven’t even given up knitting completely on this ‘break’ either; I’ve managed to add a few inches to the boyfriend’s “late and getting later” Christmas present, Jared Flood’s Timberline cardigan, and I’m also carrying around Alexis Winslow’s Arrowhead Mittens when commuting (knitting is magical; it makes public transit almost bearable). But over the past week, I have been rediscovering an old crafty love I had forgotten about, and that love is sewing.

What started off as a knitting related sewing experiment ( I was only attempting to make a cute project bag for the aforementioned Arrowhead Mittens) ended up allputtogetherbecoming a full scale garment construction project. I started off by following the Lined Drawstring Bag tutorial from Jeni Baker’s  In Colour Order, using three fat quarters to create two adorable project bags for small knitting projects. The pattern is incredibly easy to follow, and the bag is simple to put together. Inside

I resisted the urge to run out to the nearest fabric store and buy up as many fat quarters as I could lay my hands on, and instead decided that I might set the bar a little higher and attempt to make a skirt.

There is this little independent clothing shop near my apartment that sells wonderful vintage inspired clothing, and a few months ago they had this beautiful turquoise and black polka dotted full circle skirt with a shaped waistband. I seriously coveted it, but they only had one remaining and it was a size xs, so while covet it I might, wear it I could not. A few weeks ago, they moved the skirt to the front window of the shop, as if they were trying to taunt me with what I could not have. But this got me thinking, certainly if I could manage to make a bag, I could also make a skirt, right?

So on the weekend I headed down to The Workroom, and had the ladies in the store steer me towards some appropriate materials. There were a few options for patterns, but I ended up selecting Victory Patterns Madeleine for the skirt, and a nice chambray fabric to construct it out of. With all my bits and bobs paid for, I headed home for an afternoon of sewing. Pattern

The original Madeleine pattern is designed with exterior pockets, suspenders, and a straight waistband. I opted to forgo the pockets and suspenders, and changed the waistband to the shaped style I had been coveting. I wasn’t a hundred percent sure how to modify the waistband, and my Pinterest searches turned out to be fruitless, so I improvised by folding the waistband pattern blueprint for the size I wanted in half, and then added the shaped peaks to the centre in scrap pattern paper. Instead of cutting only one waist piece, I cut two, added interfacing to both, placed right sides together, and sewed them together along the shaped edge. I then followed the pattern as written for the remainder of the waistband. Finished Skirt

I am actually pretty pleased with how it turned out. I am not embarrassed to wear it out in public, which is more than I can say for some of the creations I sewed together in my high school days.


Babies Abound!

It seems like I’ve reached the time in my life where everyone around me is having babies. It signifies an important change in my life – I’m fully out of the “carefree” days of university and have been for over half a decade now. The realization does make me more than just a little apprehensive. But while I feel in my more terrified moments like attempting to claw my way back down the ageing process to twenty-five, it seems as if those around me are barrelling headlong into their married and maternal grown-up lives.

Featured imageI am happy for them, and I mean that in a way free of judgement. I have a strong belief that we all make the choices in life to do what makes us happy, and that those choices will be different for everyone, because happiness is so diverse. So I am not jealous or envious of my friends who are embarking on their parental journeys, I am just overjoyed for them. And…it is to my complete and utter satisfaction that I get an excuse to knit all manner of adorable baby things. *squee*

This past week I’ve been knitting Ysolda‘s Wee Chickadee cardigan for a coworker of mine who has just started her maternity leave. I found the pattern on Ravelry, and proceeded to dive through my ever growing stash (I can no longer sleep and store all my yarn in the same room, there just isn’t the space) to surface with a few skeins and some partial balls of Malabrigo Sock. I had a mild shock when I came to the realization that my stash has grown, seemingly without my knowledge, as I worked out more than six unique colour combinations in the correct yarn weight.

The pattern itself is easy to follow, and incredibly quick to knit up, as I cast on and bound off before the week was out. It is all buttoned and wrapped up and waiting to go out in the post tomorrow.

Featured image