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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


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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

Joni

And like a creature from the black lagoon I have found my way back to the bog…I mean…blog, with really bad puns.

I get those from my father.

I get a lot of stuff from my father. Genetics, migraines, a love of history, a hard time…and a love of music.

My father tends to like what we now call “classic rock” although I guess he may have just called it “rock” in the past…him being…classic and all.

He has always introduced me to classic rock, which led me to my own discovery of music and my metaphoric introduction to Joni Mitchell somewhere along the way. I think she is fabulous and her lyrics can make me cry. (I’d say they speak to my soul, if I didn’t think you’d classify me as melodramatic.)

Anyways, I’ve got a nifty little Joni Mitchell inspired headband pattern to share with Y’all! (I’m wearing my cowboy boots at the moment so I feel entitled to pretend to be western although the closest I’ve come to a cow or a horse in the last decade would be the commute down Highway 11 from work to home or the cottage.)

Joni :  JoniPattern

Happy Knitting!

Leigh

The Guelph Vacation

Oh my goodness! I have a lot of things to talk about this week.

*Let’s get this out of the way first, because it’s depressing me: the cable cowl pattern I mentioned working on has gone completely awry and I’ve discarded the project in favor of more pleasant pursuits. If you were holding out for it, I am sorry, but (hopefully) I will have a very cute cable braided headband pattern to share with you soon.*

Now…I have had the most fantastic weekend that I need to tell you about. (It is relevant to knitting, I promise.)

This weekend I traveled to Guelph, Ontario, for a friend’s birthday. Of course, I don’t enjoy going to birthdays empty handed, especially as a knitter, so on Wednesday night, I broke out my circs and dove into the leftover half skeins from the “Christmas Hat Collection” and cast on Jared Flood’s Turn A Square. It was a quick knit; I had it done in the morning on Friday. I didn’t have any “boy” colored self striping yarn, so I just used the ends of three different colored alpaca tweed yarns I had, and I think it turned out fabulously. If you’re looking for a quick, stash busting knit, I highly recommend that one. I’ve posted some photos, as I remembered to take them before I gave it away.

On Friday night we went to the Wellington Brewery for a tour. They had these cute quarter-pint sized glasses to taste all the different drafts. I’m not really a huge beer expert, but I really enjoyed their Arkell Best Bitter. I also have to point out that I was a huge fan of their draft taps, all of the Wellington beers have British “Wellies,” for handles, the bar had cute miniature rain boots along it. (I guess the fact that I was amused by the décor and cuteness factor will tell you about my interest in different types of beer.)

On Saturday morning we went to the Guelph Farmers’ Market. My friends that live in Guelph were a little disappointed with it. It was in a new building, and the layout and lack of amenities made it difficult for people to get around, or for past vendors to sell some of their things because they didn’t have the right cooling or cooking equipment there. I, on the other hand, was in heaven…because…well…I found an Alpaca farm booth, and had a good chat with Kristi who ran both the booth and the Harmony Meadows Alpaca farm. Of course once I get my hands on anything alpaca I’m loath to part from it…so I walked away with 50gm of lovely Natural Dark Fawn Alpaca Roving for my drop spindle, and a skein of 2ply lace weight alpaca yarn dyed the color of “Rust.” I saw the color on the table, and its sort of a dark orangey-red color, and thought to myself, “Self, that would look really nice as some sort of lace shawl,” I’m thinking probably the Echo Flower Shawl if I can manage it.

My Saturday was very “yarnful.” After we visited a cute coffee shop, we made our way to my friend’s LYS, All Strung Out. That’s the name of the store…not our mind frame, for the record. I got to do some “Knit Geeking,” as I like to call it, and talked to one of the instructors. My friend (pictured below in the really cute coffee shop) had asked me to knit her a cabled headband, so I had her pick out the yarn for it. She chose Cascade Yarns Eco Duo; it is nice and super soft, made from baby alpaca and merino wool in different shades of gray. I’m working on the pattern now, and will post it when I’ve finished.

Well that was a long one, hope you made it through…here are some apples for your staying power…I hear they keep the doctor away.

Leigh