MYOKB: “Lacy Scarf” Finished!

"Lacy Scarf" Finished!
“Lacy Scarf” Finished!

I don’t have any “in progress” photos this week, but I have (somehow) managed to finish this week’s project, “Lacy Scarf” (page 62 of Debbie Bliss’s The Knitter’s Year), from My Year of Knitting Blissfully (MYOKB).

Although it came out quite well, in my humble opinion, I must admit that this was not my favorite project to work. In part, this was due to the repetitive nature of the pattern (the same four rows over and over again), but this was mostly due to interference from my new kitten, Tuppence, who decided to make this scarf her personal plaything. She chewed the heck out of my nice size 5 bamboo circulars, causing the yarn to snag repeatedly until I could find time to replace them. She also attacked the two balls of Classic Elite Silky Alpaca Lace (colors 2416, off-white, and 2420, aqua blue) I was knitting with.

Since I was using two strands of the Silky Alpaca Lace, I was using the “trick” of pulling one strand from the center of the skein and one from the outer edge.  I also trailed the alternating colors of yarn up the side and intertwined the resting yarn with the working yarn to “hook” it into place. All of this twisting of multiple strands of yarn, combined with kitten shenanigans, led to a very frustrating knitting experience.

"Lacy Scarf" Close-up
“Lacy Scarf” Close-up

And just how long is Debbie Bliss’s week anyway? I mean, I know she runs a worldwide knitting empire, but seriously, this scarf took awhile to knit (even taking into account the problems I mentioned above).

The pattern calls for working half the scarf in one direction, placing it on a stitch holder, and then working another half of the scarf and grafting the two halves together. Instead, I worked the entire scarf in one piece and one direction. This caused the two ends to look slightly different from each other, but I’m OK with that. You can judge for yourself from the photo at the top of this post.

All that said, the resulting scarf is quite nice and the chevron effect is beautiful.

MYOKB: “Striped Baby Hat” Finished!

Debbie Bliss "Striped Baby Hat" Finished
Debbie Bliss “Striped Baby Hat” Finished

After last week’s endless seed stitch adventure, this week’s foray into My Year of Knitting Blissfully (MYOKB) has been a piece of cake. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy, as they say.

This week’s project (finished in one evening, as predicted) is the “Striped Baby Hat” on page 68, which I worked using GGH Goa in white and Suss Snuggle in a lovely shade of French blue. Although the labels describe these yarns as having slightly different fiber contents (slightly different percentages of cotton and acrylic), I strongly suspect, actually, that these two yarns are identical to each other and are just marketed under different names and brands. This is a common practice in the yarn world. Anyway, they worked together swimmingly and the gauge match was perfect. Gauge isn’t super-important with a project like this one, of course. My philosophy is that, eventually, the baby’s head will fit the hat.

"Striped Baby Hat" with seam and jogless jog showing, sort of
“Striped Baby Hat” with seam and jogless jog showing, sort of

I’ve made many baby hats similar to this one in the past, so the only real trick I remastered was the “jogless jog,” a technique to help you avoid unsightly “hitches in your stitches” (which is waaaay better than hitches in your britches, trust me) when you work stripes in the round. Basically the technique involves knitting the first round of any new color change as usual, and then knitting the first stitch of the previous round together with the first stitch of the second round. You can see it more eloquently described by the inimitable Meg Swanson here.

And you can (kind of) see the “jogless jog” in action if you look at the right side of this second picture of the “Striped Baby Hat” ; follow the seam up from the little “bump” in the bottom hem on the far right. Apologies for not taking a better picture.

MYOKB: Baby Cardigan Finished!

Baby Cardigan finished!
Baby Cardigan finished!

A three-needle bind-off here. A chocolate grosgrain ribbon there. A little seaming. And the Baby Cardigan is finished at last! Phew! It looks beautiful and since my little niece, Lauren Amelia, was born the week before last, I’m glad that I will have an even more beautiful baby to give it to.

This bright fuchsia pink is not my usual color choice, but when I imagined this cardigan, the only ribbon choice I could envision was chocolate grosgrain (1/4″ wide). If I was one of those people who got paid to think of names for color combinations, I would call this one “Raspberry Truffle.”

"Baby Cardigan," Close up with Chocolate Grosgrain Ribbon
“Baby Cardigan,” Close up with Chocolate Grosgrain Ribbon

Since this project took me so long to finish, I’m glad that this week’s is a simple baby hat. I can probably knock that out in one night.

"Baby Cardigan" finished, with ribbon, and photographed at a rakish angle
“Baby Cardigan” finished, with ribbon, and photographed at a rakish angle

MYOKB: Baby Cardigan in (slightly faster) Progress

Debbie Bliss "Baby Cardigan," Back, Rakish Angle
Debbie Bliss “Baby Cardigan,” Back, Rakish Angle

After what seemed like several weeks but was only actually a few days, I’ve finished the back of the “Baby Cardigan.” As I’ve mentioned before, I love, love, love the look of seed stitch, but it takes me so long to work. I figure that this pattern would have taken me half as long to make if it were done in stockinette or garter stitch.

To help speed the process along, and in keeping with my goal of trying to expand my repertoire of knitting techniques throughout My Year of Knitting Blissfully, I researched some supposedly faster ways of working seed stitch. I knit in a style I laughingly call “modified-throw Continental” — in other words, I do hold the yarn in my left hand but I don’t use the right-hand needle to “pick” at the yarn, like most Continental knitters do, but instead I kind of “throw” the yarn over the needle, like most English-style knitters do. There’s no wrong way to knit, right? Just ask the divine Annie Modesitt.

The interwebs were all agog about the “Norwegian purl” which supposedly makes it faster for continental-style knitters to work “K1 P1” stitches like ribs and seed stitch. The advantage of this technique is that the yarn is always held at the back of the needles so there’s no need to move the yarn from the front to the back (and back again) after every stitch.

After viewing several videos and tutorials online, I tried several times to make the “Norwegian purl” work with my style of knitting, but no luck. Maybe it’s because of the way I knit, or maybe I didn’t give it enough of a chance.

Debbie Bliss "Baby Cardigan" Back, Photographed Straight-on
Debbie Bliss “Baby Cardigan” Back, Photographed Straight-on

There’s no way I will be finished with this project by the end of my allotted week (which ends today). My first missed deadline. Sigh.

MYOKB: Baby Cardigan in (slow) Progress

Front Half of Baby Cardigan in Progress
Front Half of Baby Cardigan in Progress

And here you have the first half of the front of the “Baby Cardigan” from p. 38 of Debbie Bliss’s A Knitter’s Year. And it’s taken me almost all week to complete. And this is only one-third of the final project… Yikes.

On the plus side — this is going to be GORGEOUS when it’s finished. This bright raspberry color (Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino color #340042, sadly discontinued now) is delicious, and it’s made even more delicious in my eyes by the fact that I got in on mega-sale at Little Knits so this whole project is costing my under $10. It’s also making a dent in my stash.

On the minus side — this project is taking me f-o-r-e-v-e-r. Just how long is Debbie Bliss’s week anyway? Basically, the problem is seed stitch itself. Even though it’s one of my favorite stitches in terms of the final result (and it’s reversible!), it’s a slow stitch to work since you have to move the yarn between the front and back of the needles with every stitch.

Maybe it’s time to investigate quicker ways to work seed stitch.

MYOKB: Clothespin Bag Finished! At very last minute!

Clothespin Bag Finished with Hanger

So, I finished the Clothespin bag at the very last minute last night with some generous help from my talented roommate whose sewing skills vastly out-strip mine. You can see some pictures of the Clothespin bag in its formative stages here and here.

I predicted that I would finish this project with time to spare, but I hadn’t taken into account the time required for finishing. I’m looking forward to the projects coming up since there’s no sewing involved.

The above picture is the completed version with the lining sewn in, the sides crocheted together, and the hanger placed inside. Crocheting the knitted edges together went quite quickly and, in my humble opinion, actually looks better than sewing the edges together on the machine. I also worked a single crochet stitch along the curved edges of the “envelope” (as Debbie Bliss describes it), which I think will give the edges a bit more strength.

With the hanger, I resorted to good old-fashioned elbow grease and a sharp aluminum knitting needle which I used to open up a hole in the fabric and force the hanger hook through. Bliss was (not atypically) maddeningly vague on how exactly to do this part of the finishing.

Sadly, since I live in an apartment, and have no backyard, I don’t have a clothesline from which to hang my new bag. I’ve decided to use it to hold my vast collection of plastic grocery bags awaiting recycling — not a very glamorous use for beautiful handmade bag, but it will look pretty hanging in my utility closet and maybe that will make recycling a happier chore.

MYOKB: Clothespin bag in progress

Clothespin Bag in progress
Clothespin Bag in progress

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

Here we have the “Clothespin Bag” in progress, from p. 48 of Debbie Bliss’s book The Knitter’s Year. The yarn I’ve chosen is Knit One Crochet Too Cotonade, color 832, “light moss.” It’s a sturdy, worsted-weight 100% cotton with a second, much thinner cotton thread intertwined with the main strand; this intertwining creates a kind of nubby “zig zag” effect that looks great with a simply textured stitch like this one.

By the way — just between you, me and the lamppost — Cotonade is exactly the same yarn as Cascade Luna and Suss Cotton. The latter is absolutely interchangeable with Cotonade; they even use some of the same color names. Off the record, on the QT, and very hush-hush…

The knitted pattern basically alternates between one row of seed stitch and one row of stockinette, so this is great, mindless zen knitting. There’s some minor shaping at the beginning and end of the piece to create the concave edges.

And here’s a close-up:

Clothespin Bag in progress, Close-up
Clothespin Bag in progress, Close-up

I’m making great progress and I expect to have this one done with time to spare.

MYOKB, Week One: “Booties Trio” Finished!

Booties Trio
My attempt at an “artistic” display of baby booties. I just love these little metal chairs from IKEA!

Again, at the very last minute, I have completed the “Booties Trio,” my first project in my series taken from Debbie Bliss’s A Knitter’s Year–“My Year of Knitting Blissfully” (from here on, referred to as MYOKB).

At first, I couldn’t decide if I was only “required” to do one pair of booties, or if I had to knit all three. Then I realized — duh! — I didn’t “have to” do anything. Like the line in Chariots of Fire says: “We are the committee.” In other words, I am in charge of deciding what counts, so I decided to go for it. And now that we’ve all got that theme song running through our heads…

Now to get these in the mail on the way to my sister-in-law who is expecting a little girl practically any day now. I’d personally like her to arrive on February 29th so she can be a leap-year baby, but my SIL is in the “dog days” of pregnancy and I think she’d like the baby to come as soon as possible. Either way, this will be one of the best-shod babies around town.

MYOKB: Booties Trio in Progress

The Knitter's Year Cover
Cover of Debbie Bliss’s The Knitter’s Year

Here’s my progress so far on the “Booties with Lacy Top” from the “Booties Trio” from Debbie Bliss’s The Knitter’s Year. This is my first project from my year-long project to knit all 52 projects in that book, a project otherwise known as “My Year of Knitting Blissfully” or “MYOKB” for short.

These are going to be a gift for my new niece who is expected to make her appearance at the end of this month. Personally, I’m hoping she’s born on February 29th so she will be a leap year baby. I’m just weird that way.

Basically, I’ve completed all the actual knitting (except for a small bit on the second “Bootie with Lacy Top”) and now I have to weave in all the ends and do the seaming and finishing:

Booties with Lacy Top
Booties with Lacy Top, in progress
Booties with Striped Instep
Booties with Striped Instep, in progress, cuff unfolded

And here are both of them, still unseamed, but with the cuffs folded down:

Booties with Striped Instep 002
Booties with Striped Instep, cuffs folded

And the final entry in the trio, “Booties with Striped Foot”:

Booties with Striped Foot
Booties with Striped Foot, in progress

Have I mentioned lately how much I hate seaming? Blurgh. And I have to make some “shoelaces” for the “Lacy Top” booties. Double blurgh.

The dark pink and light green are two different (discontinued) colors of Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino (340042 and 340018 respectively), and the white in the “Striped Inset” and “Striped Foot” versions is Karabella Aurora 4. The white in the “Lacy Top” version is Suss Love in ivory.