Monday Make Update

I think we can definitely say that we've become acclimatized to the UK weather as last week's freezing temperatures and snow with the "Beast from the East" was horribly frigid! While the snow was piling up outside (and then melting on Sunday as quickly as it came) it was the perfect excuse to cosy up inside with my knitting and just plug away at getting a few things further along.

  New winter mitts for Mr. H. Just in time for, er, spring?

New winter mitts for Mr. H. Just in time for, er, spring?

First up - a finish! Mr. H has been nagging me about finishing these fingerless mittens for him that were originally meant to be a Christmas present. Not nagging per se, but very pointed questions when I'm heading off to knit night as to which project I'm planning to work on and are the mittens included. The cheek!

These are a test knit for Kate Bostwick of Cowtown Knits and a really clever design. There is also the option to make them full mittens, or a combination flip top, or even warmer with thrums. I fell in love with the cable pattern when Kate was working on them at knit night before she moved back to Calgary and agreed to test knit them. The yarn is Tanis Fiber Arts Green Label Aran Weight in Lemongrass from deep stash - leftovers from a hat I knit Harrison when he was a toddler which he and his dad lost one day on the bus. Sigh. Happily, the colour is a perfect match to his winter jacket.

I opted to make the fingerless mitts for H as he was given a phone for Christmas and I thought it would make it easier for using the phone. He's starting to do little errands for us to the shops and go to and from school on his own in preparation for next year at the upper school so it's nice to have him call when he's on his way somewhere. Update: he just came home from school and told me he liked them so much that he wore them all day in class. Is this one knit-worthy kid or what?!

  Working on Winter Dawn is like creating a giant watercolour gradient. Am loving the meditative quality of this project!

Working on Winter Dawn is like creating a giant watercolour gradient. Am loving the meditative quality of this project!

This weekend I also make some excellent progress on Winter Dawn by Tabetha Hedrick. This is the project from the SweetGeorgia Yarns Advent Calendar from this past December. I wish I'd thought to get some pictures of it in the snow last week but I was ill with a migraine on Friday and those plans ended up right out the window.

Just like working with stripes or colourwork this project has been addictive! There's that internal hustle of "just one more colour" urging me on. The different textures are keeping things interesting too. I'm curious what will happen when I get to the end as I didn't pay close attention to the pattern at the beginning so cut my first colour yarn early and joined the next one and slowly my rows have been increasing in how much they are off, to the point where I'm doing one pattern section now in a completely different colour. Oh well, it's a lovely gradient and I'm sure it will look gorgeous no matter what at the end. Fingers crossed I can finish it in time to use as a sample at the H+H trade show coming up later this month in Germany!

  Will I look as easy-breezy in the same sweater when mine is finished? Probably not!

Will I look as easy-breezy in the same sweater when mine is finished? Probably not!

Finally - I decided I was done knitting the swatch for a sweater I'm planning to do on the knitting machine. I'm swatching to see if I'm happy with the fabric that the sweater is meant to have, and then I can try to approximate it for the project. I still need to figure out how my ribber works though so fingers crossed I can make some time for that later this week too.

How are your own makes coming along? Any progress during the Beast from the East?

Just a hat

I've been thinking about this post for a few weeks now following a teeny tiny finish that I had recently.

The project was a simple modification to a store-bought hat. In 100% acrylic. Eep! I can hear you all cringing now (I'll tackle my belief that sometimes even acrylic has it's place - but another day!). Certainly, that was the reaction of a friend who saw me carefully unpicking the hat for it's modification: "but WHY would you do that to yourself?!"

  The original hat in question. See how bulky that brim is?

The original hat in question. See how bulky that brim is?

Backing up a bit: I was approached by a non-knitting friend who received the high street hat for Christmas from her sister. She loved it, but not the bulky turned up ribbing. The hat was uncomfortably bulky when she wore it, and far too long to get away with being a slouchy beanie if she turned the ribbing down.

Remembering that I was a knitter, she pinged me on Facebook to see if I could do an easy mod to remove the ribbing entirely or make it smaller, so that she could actually enjoy this hat. It seemed really straight forward and I said sure. Otherwise it would be just a waste if she never got to wear the hat and enjoy it, right?

  Hat after the brim was unravelled. Cute, but a little unfinished looking now. And man photographing black yarn is hard!

Hat after the brim was unravelled. Cute, but a little unfinished looking now. And man photographing black yarn is hard!

While unravelling the brim ended up being more of a pain than I anticipated, it did cast some insight into a machine knit garment knit flat. Not sure how the yarn ended up getting so looped up around itself but I was able to get there in the end. The yarn was also held double to make it even bulkier. After inserting a short 6mm needle through the live stitches I knit the brim back down a modest few rows and cast off. And then did it again with a stretchier bind off when I couldn't get the hat on myself!

  A tiny about of ribbing just finishes things off nicely.

A tiny about of ribbing just finishes things off nicely.

As I worked on the hat I had the time to reflect on my friend's reaction, and that I was taking time away from my own projects too. The space my thoughts ended up in is that for me, knitting is knitting. The rhythm, the gentle click of the needles, the pleasure of making something with my own hands. And the pleasure in having that skill recognized and that a friend would ask for help when they need it.

  And voila! The finished hat ready to keep it's owner toasty warm!

And voila! The finished hat ready to keep it's owner toasty warm!

I'm pretty pleased with the results, and my friend was well chuffed too that she had it back in time for a snowboarding adventure. Comfort and joy comes in many forms in my making and I'm thrilled to have found it in this project too. 

Even if it's just a hat.

FO Friday: Kettle Yarn Co. Islington edition

Linda from Kettle Yarn Co. has an amazing eye for colour and design and I've felt invested in watching her grow since she first started her company a few short years ago. She was one of our first volunteers that we recruited for the inaugural Great London Yarn Crawl and launched her yarn company around the same time. Linda is also a Canadian transplant to the UK so I feel a special kinship as our businesses have grown up side by side.

  The skein of Islington in Gold Dust from Linda's shop update that incited longing. Photo courtesy of Kettle Yarn Co.

The skein of Islington in Gold Dust from Linda's shop update that incited longing. Photo courtesy of Kettle Yarn Co.

About two years ago during one of Linda's first shop updates, she featured a new yarn - Islington - a yummy mix of superwash BFL and silk. And the skein that caught my eye was a beautiful, burnished, vintage gold. I was filled an unreasonable lust for this yarn, even though I had no immediate plans for it or thought as to what I would do with it, but I tucked it away in my stash like a dragon hoarding it's gold.

  The Pebble Beach Shawlette by Helen Stewart of Curious Handmade. Photo courtesy of Kettle Yarn Co.

The Pebble Beach Shawlette by Helen Stewart of Curious Handmade. Photo courtesy of Kettle Yarn Co.

Flash forward a year later and Helen of Curious Handmade's gorgeous Pebble Beach Shawlette was the winner of the Unwind Brighton design competition. It was knit up in another of Linda's luscious bases, Westminster - this time in camel and silk. And another equally beautiful gold colourway that just shimmered from the silk content in the yarn.

  Vintage fabric for a vintage dress? Yes please!

Vintage fabric for a vintage dress? Yes please!

This past June, when I really had absolutely no business casting on something new (which of course is always when I'm most strongly struck with a case of start-itis), I got the idea in my head that I was going to knit this shawl to match the antique yellow in the vintage Liberty print fabric that I was sewing into a dress for myself. A quick stash dive later and I'd cast on for the shawl. The easy-to-follow instructions and percentage completion chart kept me highly motivated and sneaking away to knit "just one more row".

  Okay, not styled quite as prettily as the original, but close enough!

Okay, not styled quite as prettily as the original, but close enough!

The results were every bit as pleasing as all the Pebble Beach FOs that I saw at Unwind - although I'm now seriously tempted to knit it again in one of the new, larger sizes that are now available.

The funny thing about this project, is that it was actually Linda's newest base - a DK version of Islington - that I knit with first while test knitting the Bagatelle Cowl for Rachel. Clearly I was trying to trying to prolong the experience of working with this yummy yarn!

  The eye-searing colour Padparadscha was unexpected and yet I'm totally in love!

The eye-searing colour Padparadscha was unexpected and yet I'm totally in love!

Interestingly, while both versions of Islington are equally lovely, I think my preference tips lightly in favour of the DK. Perhaps it's because that weight has always been a favourite of mine but I kind of feel like the added weight of the fabric makes the finished object just that much more luxe.

  Now I just need a convertible and my look will be complete!

Now I just need a convertible and my look will be complete!

And the pattern! Even though it was a kind of sample/test knit, I'm excited to be ahead of the popularity wave. Bagatelle is one of the six patterns in Linda's first collection - The Boardwalk Collection - that she's pulled together for Kettle Yarn Co. (click that link to see the lookbook for the whole collection!). Since it's release, The Boardwalk Collection has been making the rounds with a blog tour (full disclosure: organised by yours truly) and I've seen more than a few comments where people have picked out the pattern as their fave!

  I love the versatility of a long cowl - in the summer, it becomes a cosy shrug!

I love the versatility of a long cowl - in the summer, it becomes a cosy shrug!

As much as I might have teased Rachel about casting on a crap-ton of stitches and the seed stitch border, it's a truly gorgeous design. There's a soothing rhythm to the lace too and I love how it evokes the huge supporting columns of a seaside pier.

Just like it was cotton all the time with my knitting a few months ago, now I seem to be in a wool and silk phase. Can't say I'm complaining, but I do wonder what's next on the knitting front. Maybe alpaca and silk? I still need to cast on for my Yarn in the City GLYC2015 KAL after all!