FO Friday: First Finish of 2014

When I was putting together the collage of all my finishes in 2013 I realised I'd never posted about the awesome Take Heart toque I knit from Issue 7 of Pom Pom Quarterly. Perhaps another time? I'm too excited with the fact that I already have a project hot off the needles in 2014, what I'm calling a Boyish Toque:

Pattern: Phildar Issue No. 60 (all men's patterns - French magazine purchased on my last visit to Paris) Yarn: Debbie Bliss Paloma in charcoal and ruby Yardage: Approximately 75 yards Click the photo to go to my Ravelry project notes.

Pattern: Phildar Issue No. 60 (all men's patterns - French magazine purchased on my last visit to Paris)
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Paloma in charcoal and ruby
Yardage: Approximately 75 yards
Click the photo to go to my Ravelry project notes.

The toque was originally meant for my DH for Christmas, but as you can see, there's no way it's going to fit an adult! In fact, a little blocking will be in order to see if I can't get this stretched out a little bigger for Mr. H. And in retrospect, I'm not sure what Jordan would have thought of the little elfin point to the top of the hat anyway!

Boyish toque - rear view.jpg

The Debbie Bliss Paloma yarn is a 60% alpaca, 40% merino mix and spun and processed to a light, airy, super bulky chainette. It was lovely to work with, but even with 6mm and 7mm needles, I'm surprised it came out so tiny - especially as the pattern called for bulky, not super bulky yarn.

I love the way Mr. H's ears stick out from under this hat - such an imp!

I love the way Mr. H's ears stick out from under this hat - such an imp!

The only modification I made to the pattern was to cut out two stitches and knit it in the round. Yes, weirdly the pattern was written for the hat to be knit flat and then seamed. Is this a French colourwork thing? Maybe someone can let me know in the comments.

Ready to take on 2014!

Ready to take on 2014!

I enjoyed the colourwork though - it's been a while! But it's now making me think I need to make a colourwork hat for myself. I happen to have something in the stash that would be perfect. Uh-oh. New Year and start-itis already seems to have me in it's grip...

Monkey see monkey do

What is it that attracts us to a particular knitting project? That makes a project trend in the top 20 on Ravelry, or has thousands of favourites and just as many folks who have not only added it to their queue but actually knit the project?

I'm not talking just about adding a project to our favourites because we like it, or think it's cute, or it might be flattering on us. But that feeling that grabs us until it is overwhelming and there's nothing we can do but cast on and work our way through to completion.

Or is that just me? Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying I feel like that with every single project I knit. But there are some projects that definitely push the envelope, challenge me, and mean more to me as a result. 

Like my latest finish. I know you're only here for the photos so let's just get to it, shall we?

Pattern:  Sleepy Monkey Blanket  by Mary Ann Stephens Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash Yardage (for the Pre-Process Stashdown 2013): approximately 1,445 yards   Click the photo to go to my Ravelry project notes

Pattern: Sleepy Monkey Blanket by Mary Ann Stephens
Yarn: Cascade 220 Superwash
Yardage (for the Pre-Process Stashdown 2013): approximately 1,445 yards

Click the photo to go to my Ravelry project notes

Most of these photos were taken around Carnaby Street earlier this week. I love the cobblestones and brightly painted buildings and the quiet expectation in the air as the street was slowly coming to life before the shops were due to open.

See what I mean about the colours of Carnaby Street?

See what I mean about the colours of Carnaby Street?

I first saw the Sleepy Monkey Blanket at a book reading by the Yarn Harlot and was captivated by the monkeys and the colourwork - something I hadn't really done a lot of up until then although I'd learned the basics with a Fiddleheads Mittens class (really must finish those!).

After obsessing over finding the pattern,  stalking projects on Ravelry until I was pretty sure I'd found the knitter of the blanket and her colour combo, and then reading the pattern instructions, I recognised that this was going to be an opportunity to learn a few new skills: stranded colourwork, and steeks. (Which were no big deal, btw. Glenna C does an excellent class at The Purple Purl.).

It's kind of funny, but I've come to realise that the projects where I learn something new, that are crazy and challenging and push me as a knitter are the ones that I enjoy the most. There's so much to learn as a knitter and I constantly feel like I'm just scratching the surface.

Thoughtful details make for a perfect finish.

Thoughtful details make for a perfect finish.

The details on this project are fantastic. Designer Mary Ann Stephens is clearly a genius (with patience bordering on masochism) for the amount of planning and thought that has gone into the construction of this blanket. The front and back panels are worked separately and then joined for the border. Not only is this practical for keeping little fingers and toes from getting tangled in the colourwork floats, but it adds more cushiness and warmth to the blanket. Ditto for the border, although with each side picked up and knit separately before joining both sides again and finishing with the garter ridge outer border, it did become a bit of a marathon knitting at the end.

Couldn't resist using this festive red door as a backdrop for the blankie!

Couldn't resist using this festive red door as a backdrop for the blankie!

Now it's time to pack it up, get it in the mail, and hope it makes it across the pond in time for the baby shower. While I'm doing that I'll be thinking about what new challenges I can take on next. More colourwork? Cables? I'm open to suggestions!