Christmas Surprises Revealed

I knit less and less for Christmas as the years go by.  While it was always hard to make it to the top of knit-worthy list, it’s become even more challenging!  Not only do you have to appreciate what I do with genuine enthusiasm but the spirits have to move me.  Still, it happens more often than planetary alignment.  There’s always hope.

I managed a few Christmas gifts this year.  It’s tough to have knitting secrets in the age of social media and Ravelry.  A good detective will find parts of this years gifts in my digital wake but still, a few surprises were had!  I’ll start with the easy one…

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First is BB-8.  You saw him a few weeks back but it turns out being a knit-worthy friend does not require one to read my blog!  I don’t think he’s changed much.  I added a few details.  Now that I’ve seen the movie, I think I’d add a few more details.  And I’d make his little eye blue.  Seeing him in action gave good insight into which features read and which don’t.   When he was zipping around and engaged, his little eye turned blue.  Making it blue would set it apart from the big eye and give the details around it more depth.   I have yarn for another.  I suspect this is going to be a one-of-a-kind though.

Next up, an alpaca cowl in Mom colors.  This was a travel project so you’ve seen this one before.  I tried to camouflage it.  You were supposed to be looking at the pagoda, not the knitting!

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I used the sequence knitting technique for this one.  I’m still a big fan of sequence knitting.  It was super easy.  I cast on ~150 and worked K5, P3 until I ran out of yarn.  Complete no brainer.  The real star here is the yarn.

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It’s from Skacel and called Concentric.  It’s a 4 ply yarn where the plies are just held together rather than plied.  The gradient effect comes from one ply changing color at a time.  4 plies of cream becomes 3 plies cream plus 1 ply of beige.  That become 2 plies of cream plus 2 plies of beige.  Etc, etc.  Super fun.

The other amazing thing about this yarn:  100% alpaca that did not shed all over my clothes!  I think alpaca is lovely but I never seek out it out.  Shedding stinks.  This yarn drew me in with it’s pretty cake.  I bought it without thinking of the consequences.  I’m happy to report…there were no consequences.  It was awesome.   And Mom liked it too. Everybody wins!

And now, for the real star of the FogKnits Christmas Collection…

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Mom is always asking for hats with big flowers.  I’ve tried to be accommodating.  It’s never enough.  Way back in 2016, I starting knitting flowers, with this hat in mind.

Things were going good.  I had a biologically accurate garden developing.  I started with a California poppy, an hibiscus, a daffodil and a Calla lily.

Then came the hat base.  It’s actually from yarn Mom dyed herself.  Nothing like making your own Christmas present!

Just a plain stockinette fabric for the hat and around the bottom brim, this funny marshmallow yarn from a yarn swap.  At the time, I thought I got the white elephant but it turned out to be the perfect cobblestone path into the garden.  With those parts assembled, it was time to sew flowers.

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I realized pretty quickly, I had no where near enough flowers.

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I started making more.  They became less likely to be found in nature though.  A blue pansy.  a fuschia water lily.  a blue cherry blossom.  a lavender rose.

and whatever this thing is…

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I made a few leaves and even started adding a bit of fauna to the garden…a hedgehog, a lady bug and a couple dragonflies all joined the party.

And now, Mom can never ask for another flower hat again.

I can’t imagine why she’d need another one!  This is, without a doubt, the warmest hat I’ve ever knit.  It’s a fun blast of spring for those extra cold snow days!  Mom is happy.

Tomorrow, I’ll share the hand dyed yarn she sent to me for Christmas.  In the meantime…I’ll be knitting!  The latest sweater is on the needles!!  I’ll share pics soon!


 

FO Saturday. I refuse to be rushed.

ice cream pile

I finished my latest shawl last week.  It’s a bit of sequence knitting that I designed myself.  I LOVE SEQUENCE KNITTING!  I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it.  I really want you to know how awesome it is.  It’s such a simple idea – pick a sequence and repeat it – and yet the possibilities are endless!  Anyone can become a designer with a basic understanding of sequence knitting.

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The thing about sequence knitting is amazing reversible textures that look complex but are easy to execute.  My sequence of choice was K5, P5.  With just a few little notes about how to create a shape, a triangle in my case, you’ve got the whole pattern already.

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Of course, I complicated matters by making two asymmetric triangles but taken individually, either half could be a stand alone design.

The first triangle, the green one, I started at the bottom edge on the right side.  I cast on 3 stitches and then worked every row the same:  KFB, (K5, P5) to the end.  If my row ended K5, P1 I just ignored those 4 purls necessary to complete the sequence.  Same thing each time, disregarding the portion of the sequence that was missing.

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To work the second triangle, I picked up stitches along the edge of the first triangle, casting on 6 stitches at the top.  I really wanted to accentuate the asymmetric shaping.

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I set my sequence as K5, P5 again but this time the triangle is shaped with decreases instead of increases.   I wanted the top edge to remain straight so I only decreased along the bottom edge.

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The result for the orange triangle is a two row repeat, starting from the top edge.

Row 1:  (K5, P5) to end.  Row 2:  K2Tog, (K5, P5) to end.

Last change:  For the second triangle, instead of ignoring unworked portions of my sequence, I carried them to the next row.  If Row 1 ended K5, P2, the next row began, K2Tog, P3, K5, P5…etc.

I know, it sounds complicated, but really, that’s just me doing me.   I like simplicity and complication all at once.  I added lots of little bits to customize it.   All that extra stuff is completely knitter’s choice!  That’s why sequence knitting is great!  Maybe you like lace, your sequences could include yarn overs & k2togs.  It could be a really long repeat, like K5, P1, K3, P2, K2, P1, K1.  If you can remember it, it’s your sequence.

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And we haven’t even mentioned the ridiculous color yet.  I dyed the base yarn for this project with my Mom.  It was Halloween.  Maybe I got carried away.  Maybe orange, green and purple yarn is a classic example of variegated clown barf.  So, maybe double stranding it with other orange and green yarn will tone down what could be variegated nightmare?

Hopefully?

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Ultimately, it all works.  I couldn’t be happier with how this knit-on-a-sequence-whim piece turned out.  The yarn, the crazy designing, the sequence knitting, all came together lovely!  I really like it.  I’ll definitely be wearing it lots!

(at least until my cat sweater is done…it’s on the needles!  Stay tuned for an update, it’s gonna be awesome!!)

 

Halfway

I like when projects have distinct points to reference progress!  In this case, I’m doing two halves so it’s pretty easy to tell.  The first half is done!

orange shawl

If I wanted a scarf, I could call it done.  I don’t want a scarf.  I like big shawls.  To grow this one, I’ve rotated it and picked up stitches along one side.  Like this…

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Of course, in classic kitchen sink fashion, I didn’t just pick up stitches.  I staggered the edge skipping the first bit and then casting on an equal bit at the far end of my pick up.

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I was aiming for colorful, asymmetric and funky.  It’s too soon for me to tell if I got there.  I really, really, really like the green side though.   The texture is so delightful to me!

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It’s Sequence Knitting.  I sing the praises of Sequence Knitting every chance I get.  The basic idea is, pick a sequence-any sequence of stitches-and repeat it within the frame of your garment.

For me to get a symmetric triangle that meant I KFB’d at the start of every row and then K5, P5 across.  That’s it.  It’s the least stressful knit ever.  Of course, I had no idea what sort of texture I was going to get until I knit it.  I’d say I got lucky except every sequence I’ve tried has been a textural sensation.

Add in the marled effect of double stranding a solid + a variegated yarn (because: kitchen sink again!) and it’s a really complex, interesting fabric that was completely stree free and fun to do!

I love it.

I don’t want to mess it up.

That orange is very loud.

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The variegated yarn has remained the same, only the solid changed but boy does that green disappear next to the intensity of the orange!

The texture hasn’t fully revealed itself either.  I’ve kept the same sequence *K5, P5*  but this time I’m knitting in a serpentine fashion.  Not every row is a multiple of 10 stitches (aka a full repeat).  If I had 7 stitches, I knit 5, purled 2 and then disregarded the last 3 purl stitches.  Each row, I started again with *K5, P5*.

This time, instead of disregarding an incomplete sequence, I’m carrying it forward to the next row.  If a row ends P2, I start the next row with P3 to complete the full sequence.  It’s creating a texture I can’t quite predict yet.

I predict it grows on me before the end.  There’s still time.


WIP Wednesday – Another New Cast On

Last month at Stitches West, my knitting group all drank the same kool-aid!  The Miss Babs’/Martina Behm kool-aid, Viajante.

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The mass cast on swept me up easily.  I picked yarn, a lace weight halloween themed number my mom and I dyed together.  I knew from the beginning it was destined to be a Martina Behm pattern, so the time was right.

Until Stephen West’s latest MKAL started.  I’m not doing it this go around but I’m watching the progress intently.  I got swept up with that energy too and promptly decided I’d rather work on some bias knit seed stitch, like the second section of the MKAL.

Until I swatched, that is.

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I tried the yarn held alone.  Then I tried introducing a second lace weight yarn (Malabrigo Lace that’s been hiding in the stash.  It’s Malabrigo March after all!)  I wasn’t loving it the way I wanted to though.

Before I could say ‘cast on’, I found myself sequence knitting.  And suddenly, a star was born!  I’m definitely loving it.

New Plan:  Avoid KALs of all types and make up my own shit.  As usual!

In theory, I’m going to knit a symmetric triangle, with the yarn held double, currently the halloween yarn and the green Malabrigo.  I’m doing a simple K5, P5 sequence with a KFB at the beginning of each row.  It’s developed into a lovely argyle/brocade sort of texture.  It’s amazing, reversible and super easy to knit!  Winning!

I can’t possibly knit a plain symmetric triangle though.  As a twist, I’m going to knit the first triangle, then pick up stitches along one edge for another triangle worked perpendicular.   Because one twist is never enough, I’m going to offset my triangles.

2017-03-18_09-10-23_580 Like this!

Of course, I’m not actually working out from the corner of the second triangle, I’ll be working along the entire edge, doing decreases this time.  At that point, I’ll switch from the green Malabrigo to the orange Malabrigo.  How convenient that I just happened to have the exact right colors in my stash!  More winning!

I haven’t decided on a sequence yet but I’d probably change my mind anyhow!   I’m sure I’ll get there soon enough.  This has been lots of fun so far!

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I would be working on it right now, if it weren’t for work.  C’est la vie!  Fingers crossed for a speedy hump day at work so I can get back to this tonight!!


FO Friday, now with more Cashmere

I have managed to squeak out the first FO of 2017!  No surprise, it’s a cashmere hat!

The yarn is from JoJoland.  They sell it as Sport Weight but it’s not.  I think they’ve labeled it that way to keep from scaring people off with the word ‘fingering’.

The pattern is a sequence knitting inspired design, so it’s more of a non-pattern.  I did a bit of 1×1 ribbing but after that it’s all knit 3, purl 2.   I would say it doesn’t get easier except I find asymmetric ribbing to be a challenge.  My brain knows what to do but my hands really want it to be K2, P2.   I picked an uneven sequence intentionally, to challenge my hands but also to up the texture.  K2, P2 has a certain predictability to it.   This particular texture appears a bit more random, even if it’s not.

I should call it my chaos theory hat.  A small  change — one stitch — has a bit effect and if you’re going to predict chaos, no better way to do it than knitting.  :)

There’s still 10 days until February but I feel a Finish It February coming on strong already!  I’m gonna try really hard to go all weekend without casting on!!  Wish me luck!

 

WIP Wednesday*

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*Turns out having a job has nothing to do with knowing what day of the week it is.  I went from having one day a week – always saturday, to having two days a week – workday or weekend – the calendar is still pretty irrelevant.  And work continues to occupy all the best hours of the day so knitting progress is slow.

I did find time to cast on the first hat of 2017 though.  While reading about the history of the bagel! I love the use of Yiddishists here.  What a great word!

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The yarn is cashmere and the pattern is a sequence inspired knit.  This yarn has lovely stitch definition so I knew I wanted to show off a texture.  It’s destined for a man’s head so I didn’t want to go overboard with something lacy.  Sequence knitting is exactly what the occasion calls for!  I cast on whatever amount of stitches (it happened to 114) and my sequence is a multiple of 5 (K3, P2).  It’s perfect for the amount of time I have to knit these days.  I can pick up & put it down with complete disregard of the pattern.  No need to say ‘just let me finish this row’.

I’ve made it through the toe increases of my next sock as well!  Another project that will satisfy my need to process knit for the next few days.

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I love the way the stripes are fading into each other!  The stitches are just so tiny.  I found an easy rhythm with the size 0 needles I used for my last socks so I’m hoping by the time I get to the heel turn I won’t be so fixated on how tiny these 00 needles are.  At this point, every stitch takes a bit of attention.  I’m looking forward to getting to those meditative qualities back.  My sock knitting career might be short lived if I don’t get there.

The countdown to the long weekend is on…I can’t wait!! So. Much. Knitting. Time!!!!

Weekend Round Up

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The yarn was flying this weekend…I finished 3 hats since we last spoke!  Everything lined up just right…a perfect trifecta of inspiration, determination and free time!  I finished up the first Phish hat,

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and cast on another hat, right away.  I didn’t really have a plan.  Plans never work out anyway.  I really don’t know what possessed me to do what I did next.

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With my hat nearing completion, I got out the graph paper and started tinkering with the Phish logo.  Why not?  I think I got pretty close.

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It’s another of the large designs, making it hard to photograph but I think the kids on the lot will approve.  As usual, I’d make some changes doing it a second time.  I’m optimistically calling this a prototype.  We’ll see if I ever get back around to it.  Because of course, I had the next hat cast on already.

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My hands wanted to keep going but my brain couldn’t possibly come up with a second non-plan that was so perfect.  Enter sequence knitting, this is exactly the scenario sequence knitting was made for.  Don’t have a plan?  That’s okay, don’t need one!  I grabbed the nearest yarn and off I went.  Turns out, not having a plan is a plan that works for me.  At least this weekend.

And now, my hands rest.  I might even go to the beach.  I did ‘work’ all weekend, after all!