Functional Friday: Gradient Scarf by Shibui Knits

Here is the review of the pattern for Shubui Knits Gradient scarf. As you can see in the photo it ranges from colour A to B to C to D. That is not actually how the pattern is written. I like to take my own initiative with patterns, but I did knit it true the first time.

The cowl I made for myself was a chocolate brown, flax, gold and a deep purple. I decided to follow the pattern and do the brown twice, so it goes from grounds to camel, to flaxen then Velvet It is quite subtle. Normally I don’t do subtle but I wanted the gradient to be as inconspicuous as possible. It worked out quite well, for the most part.

Shibui Scarf

The pattern itself it not very difficult; this cowl is worked with a seed stitch while holding three strands of the mohair yarn. The first thing you do it make a provisional cast on, the instructions plainly say to use your favourite provisional cast on and cast on X amount of stitches. I personally do have a favourite provisional cast on, but I think I would have outlined one for those who are not as experienced with more advanced techniques. Aside from the beginning the pattern is really clear about which colour to sub in next and which one to take out. It really into too hard to figure out if you use your head.

Shibui Scarf 2

One thing that is very good to know about this pattern and yarn is, once you have completed it and wear it a bit, the yarn stretches. If it looks a bit small I wouldn’t worry about it because I made mine a little smaller than I would have liked but once the yarn got really comfy in this new position, it relaxed. I know it might have been short sighted for me not to realize this, but the thought never struck me. Partly, I think, because I don’t really knit too many things that are in danger of stretching. The yarn I usually use is much more springy and robust.

Shibui Scarf 3

The needle size also goes onto the long list of things I like about this pattern. So many people look at the think mohair and go ‘you’re knitting a scarf… with that?’ The assumption that it is going to take the rest of my natural life is misplaced. This pattern is knit on 5.5mm or US 9 so it knits up really REALLY quick. Mind you, this is not a heavy winter garment that is going to protect you from the ravages of winter, it is a fashion piece. It is incredibly soft and beautifully coloured, perfect to be worn next to the skin for a warm summer night out.

Happy Birthday Alanna

Okay, so it isn’t today but yesterday was Alanna’s birthday! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! Now I can finally reveal the super sneaky project I have been working on! I was able to hand over the cowl this weekend; there wasn’t too much time to spare as I finished it on Saturday, but so help me, it was complete.

Alanna's Scarf

This was knit in Shibui Silk Cloud, in the colours suit, graphite, raspberry and caffine.Alanna had mentioned that she really liked my version of the scarf when I first finished it last year and wondered if I would commission one for her. I questioned her about the colours she would want, when she was ready of course. Just throwing around ideas she liked these colours, I think the only colour I substituted was caffeine because the original colour she liked was sold out.

This is what I have been working on for the past couple weeks and I am really glad to have it finally finished!

Scarf Collage

I managed to get it to Alanna before we went to the Blue Jays baseball game on Saturday and she really LOVED it! I shouldn’t talk though, I had a good time knitting the cowl and it is hard to hate something that is made of silk and kid mohair.

At the baseball game I got to work on my Ombre Cardigan, which I thought was very enthusiastic of me since it had the Blue Jays colours in it! The rest of the sporty people were shaking their heads at me and asking if I was bored with the game. It isn’t so much I was bored with the game as I can’t sit still at all… ever. Even when I was watching an absolutely riveting tv show… I am knitting.

Baseball Knitting

Aside from the cowl and sweater, I really haven’t worked on too much. I had to get some of the things for the wedding done up. The stag and doe is this weekend as well so I have been slacking off on my knitting in order to get some of these things done too. I’ve been calling people into service all over the place so watch out! You never know who I will assign a wedding duty to next!

 

Stitches be Droppin’

Okay, I know everyone who read the title of this post just recoiled in fear and horror. Dropping a stitch is an annoying and terrible experience that we all have or will encounter. The first video you see will be how to fix an accidentally dropped stitch so everyone can have peace of mind! The true topic of today’s post is how to drop a stitch, on purpose, and follow it down to fix a mistake.

Now that everyone has seen how to pick up a dropped stitch I hope you will be more comfortable trying out the techniques outlined in this post.
I love dropping a stitch to fix mistakes because that means I don’t have to rip out several inches of work to fix something small and relatively insignificant. I most commonly use this technique when I am doing colour-work and have made a stitch of the wrong colour within the pattern. The fiddlehead mittens for example, if I messed up the pattern I will usually find out along the next row. In this case, I carefully drop the stitch with the wrong colour and pick up the yarn of the right colour. Usually the yarn is just carried behind so it is very easy to pick it up. If you weave in the back of your colour work as you go, you can usually get away with one or two stitches of changed colour.

You can also drop a stitch down to take out an accidental increase that the accursed knitting pixies put into your knitting; because we all know it was definitely not us. If you missed an increase or added one too many you can fix it by dropping down a stitch; the same thing goes for decreases.
If you are doing a particular stitch, such as a textured stitch and you went off your pattern, you can drop the stitch down and fix it. It is much easier to drop the stitch down and move a purl bump over one row rather than rip out two inches of knitting. The same rules apply if you shift the stitches on a seed stitch or a rib pattern.

As with fixing any mistake, catching it early is really REALLY helpful. Once I had dropped a stitch in my stockinet stitch and I had continued knitting for about six more inches. Needless to say that if I picked up this stitch it would have looked like a run in the fabric of my scarf. I ended up fudging it and threaded yarn through the live stitch and wove it into the fabric so you could not really see where it was dropped. It looked like a very subtle increase, but I am crazy enough with my knitting that I always noticed it. I finally had to give the scarf away before it drove me insane!
The moral of the story is, watch your knitting. Make sure you don’t drop a stitch on accident or go completely off the reservation with your pattern. There is safety in numbers stay on the reservation!

Monday Mishaps: Swiftly

The dyeing I have been doing for the show, is getting behind, right now I think I stand to be three weeks behind. It really doesn’t sound like a lot, but it translates to a whole lotta yarn that needs to be dyed. The dyeing isn’t what is on my mind today though; it is the reskeining. Whenever I dye anything, I reskein it so those who purchase it won’t have to fight with it… well that AND it looks much prettier after it has been reskeined.

Swift 2

First, I was having issues with the swifts. I had two plastic adjustable swifts, which are like magic when you go from a swift to baller, however, they were not pleased to be helping out with the reskeining. When you reskein yarn from one swift to the other, a certain amount of tension begins to accumulate. The plastic swift was being squeezed in the middle to the point where I was very afraid it was going to break.

Swift 3

I had finally decided to get a wooden swift that would stand up to the amount of tension I needed. Looking online, they ranged anywhere from $50 up to $200. That is not even including the really ornate ones. I didn’t need something ornate, I needed functional. Even the absolute cheapest versions I could find were not worth it because the shipping cost as much as the swift itself.
I resorted to looking up DIY swift instructions online. I will take this opportunity to explain how Paul and I are NOT handy at all. We have only lived in our house a year and thank heaven nothing serious has broken because I would have to call my father, who lives three hours away. Aside from not being able to fix a leaking tap, I wasn’t sure how we were going to make this swift, we really don’t have many power tools to speak of and buying them JUST for this project seemed absurd.
I ended up mentioning this to Liane and she volunteered her fiancé Richard for the job. He has the tools and the experience to finish this project. I sent him over one of the DIY websites and pretty much told him I wanted two and he could bill me. As impressed as he was with my request he took on the job with good grace.

Swift 1

The first swift was built to the specifications within the website and christened ‘The Prototype’. It wasn’t very stable though and after explaining why the person who wrote the instructions was a quack, Richard modified it a little bit.
I am pleased to say with all the hard work Liane and Richard put in, I now have two very stable and functional swifts! Liane volunteered to help me skein a little bit and I showed her the fine details within the mechanics of a swift. Not that it is rocket science. We quickly termed the second attempt at the swift as ‘Ankle Crusher’. The arms of the swift were a little long so you could use them to turn the swift itself, unfortunately this had the side effect of smashing your ankles, thighs, forearms or anything else that got too close. You also had to lean waaaaaaay over to use it. I was clearly headed to ergonomic hell.
Luckily Liane was having none of this and we took said ‘Ankle Crushers’ to her place where she promptly removed the extra length of wood. I am in awe and slightly jealous of the way she wields a skill saw.

Lucky seemed like she liked the look of this yarn cake!

Lucky seemed like she liked the look of this yarn cake!

With that modification we are onto version 2.1 and I think it is a winner. There is some catching of the forearms on the pegs that hold the yarn, but I will see what feedback Paul has for me. He is, after all, the head skeiner of Stitch Please.

Linen Stitch Scarf

The Koigu linen stitch scarf I completed last summer was one of my favourites! As per usual with my favourite things, it looks much more difficult than it is. This is the only pattern I have had a chance to complete from Church Mouse Yarns and Teas, but I have heard excellent things about their patterns!

I really like knitting things that are unique. It really sets them apart from all the other scarf or sweater patterns. Keeping things interesting is one of the best ways to learn new things and stay engrossed.  I particularly like this scarf because it is knit lengthwise instead of width wise.

Linen Stitch Scarf

Whenever I knit scarves, I am constantly checking the length to see if it is finally long enough. I subscribe to the school of thought that it is better to have a scarf too long than too short, but I always get impatient to be finished and cast off a little earlier than I would like. With this scarf, you cast on the entire length all at once. If you have completed your gauge swatch, you will know exactly how long it is going to end up. Oddly enough I didn’t get impatient and make it really skinny, I kept going until the scarf was a very decent thickness.

Within the pattern there are a couple modifications to make the scarf very different. One of these are to use all your leftover sock yarn in one scarf. Every different colour of the rain bow yet, they all seem to flow together. Instead of turning your work and going the other way, you cut the yarn and leave it long. These random strands form tassels! I am not a tassel person myself, so I turned my work and went back the other way; I was also using only three colours. I’ve seen this scarf started and it looks beautiful!

Linen Stitch

I find when people make socks; there is an average colour palette. My socks are generally cooler colours running along green, blue and purple lines. There is a little bit of red thrown in, but overall, those colours are predominating. You could even separate your yarn into warm and cool colours, if you have the shocking amount of leftover yarn that graces most stashes.

The pattern itself is easy to follow, I had never done the linen stitch before starting this scarf. The pattern was clear enough that I didn’t have to youtube instructions on how to knit the linen stitch. Aside from that it was really quite easy. I did not check my gauge because… well… it’s a scarf and I didn’t really care how big it was going to be. It ended up being around 8 feet long, because the pattern was written for sock yarn and the kit I was knitting it from included worsted weight yarn.

Linen Stitch 2

To date, this has been the comfiest scarf I have ever knit. It was so essential this winter when everything was frozen and we thought summer would never be here.

Bridal Shower Number One

I feel slightly embarrassed whenever I tell people I have two bridal showers. I kind of feel like they think I am just trying to get more stuff or something. I had one for my family this weekend, they live around Sarnia and that is a three hour drive from my house. I didn’t want my family to have to drive three hours to come to a shower here and I didn’t want my friends to drive three hours for a shower there. I ended up just splitting the difference and having two.

Shower Sign

This weekend was for my family and there was a turnout of about 15-20 people. My friend from Burlington, Liane, volunteered to make the drive with me so I had good company. I went early in order to help out a bit, from what I gathered, things had been pretty hectic the couple days before. However, I was told I was not allowed to help with my own shower and ended up playing with my nephew for a little bit.

 

 

Shower Table 2

Then I realized, I had forgotten the one thing I was supposed to bring; thank you cards. We were going to put them on a table and have people address them as they came in. This way I could write out the cards, put them in the corresponding envelope and send them off. I made a quick trip to Walmart to pick up some different ones, but they didn’t have a box of thank you cards, only individual ones.

Shower People

Since I had little thank you cards at home, I just found a box of small envelopes and brought them back. People would be able to fill them out and my little cards would definitely fit in them. Back at the house, everything was coming together and as soon as 2pm hit everyone arrived. It was like someone had planned it; three cars pulled in one after the other.

Shower People 2

It was really nice to see everyone again; I don’t get an opportunity to see my Dad’s side of the family very often so it was nice to catch up with my cousins. One of my high school friends was able to make it out as well, which was really nice.
There were some word scramble games, and get to know the bride and groom. Since most of that side of the family has only met Paul once or twice, there were some humourous guesses as to what super hero he would like to be and if he could live anywhere where would he live. There were a surprising amount of right guesses for my side. Cousins and aunts who hadn’t seen me in over a year were able to guess things like my favourite colour and food.
After the games, there was a game for me to play. Everyone had brought a pair on panties and I had to guess who brought which pair. I was extremely bad at this game and I just tried to stare down people till the person who brought it cracked a smile. This technique was more effective than my guessing.

Shower Table

After this I opened presents; everyone was very generous and I got a great deal of things to replace my student kitchen ware. After living together for five years, we have accumulated quite a few things. Paul and I registered for kitchen ware to replace those that were reaching the end of their natural life span.
After gifts we ate! The shower theme was strawberry, so there were strawberry mimosas, chocolate covered strawberries, strawberry cake, strawberry cheesecake and any other way you could conceive to work a strawberry into food. The favours were small jars of homemade strawberry jam, everyone LOVED the jam favours.
Now I have been brain storming a little bit to come up with interesting favours for the next bridal shower and the wedding. What is the best favour you have taken from a wedding or shower?

Who Needs Socks in Cuba?

The short answer to the title of this post is NO ONE! It was very very warm and I only got as much sock done as I did, because I had to keep coming into the air conditioned room and out of the hot Cuban summer weather.

Sock Folded

Before we left for Cuba I checked the weather, just as an anticipatory “Ohhh man, it is going to be really hot and beautiful weather!” When I actually checked it, there was a forecast for rain every day. I didn’t really mention this to Paul because I didn’t want him to be disappointed, but I packed a whole lot of knitting. I wasn’t sure why it said rain every single day, but I was going to be prepared.
As it turns out, summer in Cuba is the wet season, so it does rain, but not like it does here. It rained almost every day, for an hour or two; either overnight or in the evening. It was the time when you would be getting ready to go to dinner or going to bed (if you are 85-years-old inside like Paul and I).

Sock Heel

Since I had to keep coming into the air conditioned room I managed to knit in the afternoon and evenings so I finished the first sock and got very close to finishing the second one.

Sock Cuff

While Paul and I were in Cuba my order from Knit Circus arrived! I haven’t casted on yet because I have been working like a fiend to get my super sneaky secret project done! There will be the big reveal for that next Wednesday!
I have been trying to organize my plan of action for knitting a little bit. For the future I am going to need to have samples of knitted garments in my own yarn. The Ombre cardigan is a good start, but I will need a lot more than that. I feel like I will have an abundance of socks, so I’ll have to focus on other garments such as shawls and more sweaters. Any pattern suggestions?

Technical Tuesday: Kitchener Stitch

Today’s post is brought to you by the Kitchener Stitch! A lot of people absolutely hate doing the Kitchener stitch because they don’t really understand how to do it. It can be confusing when you only do it once in a blue moon, but I think it is really amazing . The very first time I did this stitch right, I was amazed! You can’t even tell where it was grafted together!

Sock Toe

The very first time I attempted the Kitchener stitch, I was knitting Elizabeth Zimmerman’s seamless hybrid sweater. There was a short description about how to complete this stitch and I followed it to the best of my abilities. Considering that I had only been knitting for a few months, I doubt I would have understood.
I use the Kitchener stitch most commonly on sock toes. By grafting the ends together you cannot tell where they were separated. It looks like solid knitting the whole time. I feel very sad when people don’t knit a pattern specifically because they have to graft something. Here is the video I found most helpful when I was learning.

Once you get the hang of it, I always say out loud “Knit-wise, purl-wise; purl-wise, knit-wise.” When I was first starting out, saying the directions out loud helped me to keep track of the stitches in my head. Now it is more of a nostalgic comforting thing; if I start to annoy people I turn my volume down quite a bit. Here is another video that I found decent.

The above two videos are more of a basic understanding of Kitchener stitch, so for the more advanced knitter, here is a video showing how to Kitchener stitch without a darning needle. I could have used this on my trip to Cuba, I didn’t think to bring a needle with me.

I really hope this has shed some light on the Kitchener stitch and made people a little braver to try it. When others talk of grafting, they usually mean the Kitchener stitch, it is just another way to describe it. As always, if anyone has any questions or comments please don’t hesitate to comment below or email me. I am always happy to help!

Monday Mishaps: Dyeing is Killing me

As you have read I have been doing a lot of dyeing and as you can probably imagine, the more you do something, the more you can mess it up. I have managed to find a few little things to make it easier, but I have had my fair share of screw ups lately.

First of all, with all the dyeing I am going to be doing, I made a schedule with what colours I was going to dye in what weeks. In order to make sure I didn’t run out of yarn completely, I also created a schedule on when I should order more yarn for the weeks ahead. I started by writing out all the yarn I was going to be using for the future and put room for a dye order once a week. Using excel I managed to figure out when I should be ordering what.

Dyeing 1

With my math skills I thought this was a particularly fine achievement. Now that I am more than a week behind, I have to shift everything in my book. Luckily I planned on getting behind; with everything going on with the wedding and having been unwell for the last little while, I figured I would not be at the top of my game.

Dye Explosion 1

Along with the schedule for dyeing, the job itself is extremely messy. I remember writing that it was much easier to dye one colour and multiple bases a while ago, but this means I have to make the dye solution several times in one session. This leads to a lot of colours on my kitchen island. I am glad I have the thick plastic covering it or else all the rubbing alcohol in the world wouldn’t be able to help me.

Dye Pot

I am going to have to look for more pots and pans in hopes that this will speed me up even more! Every time I dye a whole bunch of yarn, I don’t go slow and steady, I marathon through it. I don’t start unless I have time to do a lot. By the end, my back and feet are killing me; I’ve already cut the amount of time spent dyeing in half, lets hope I can cut it down again!