Posts Tagged ‘knitspot’


November 2, 2012

At the end of most projects, I am left with a small ball of yarn.  Sometimes there’s enough left to be seriously useful.  Other times, it’s hard to tell.  That’s why I was intrigued by the Knitspot pattern Plain Jhaynes, part of a generous birthday present from KnittingKittens.  Anne Hanson wrote the pattern for some light fingerless mitts made from a tiny bit of laceweight yarn.  I saw major possibilities for using up the remnants left from all of those shawls.

But first, I’d need to see just how much little yarn I needed to make a pair.  I had 41 grams of Spirit Trail Fiberworks Nona in

Looking plain … for now

Seaweed from making the Phoenix Rising shawl.  Conveniently, it was already divided into two pretty-much equal balls.  I would have been comfortable working from both ends of the same yarn cake if that were not the case.   As you can see, I worked them up two-at-a-time on a US 1 circular using the magic loop method, as I do anytime I am making “two of a kind.”

Nona in Seaweed with beads

Of course, not being content to leave well enough alone, I couldn’t really leave them to be “plain.”  Since there were extra beads from the  shawl, I wanted to use those, too.  I decided to apply them to the pattern after each of the “crossed” stitches was worked.

Then Owl’s little disaster struck and every subsequent piece of knitting I picked up went to hell for weeks.

Harrumph.  Lest you think me a human knitting machine, somehow, I simultaneously picked up an errant stitch on one side of the left mitt, then on the right one I made the beaded pattern go wonky.  Seriously and undeniably OFF.  RIP-it.  RIP-it. RIP-it.  Back about 12 rounds.

Photography requiring contortions and a timer

I know Anne Hanson had a reason for making the two lace panels different on the two hands ~ presumably for mirroring.  However, for beading purposes, the beads just sit better on the right-hand panel (Panel B if you are keeping score at home), which features crossed stitches.  The beads lean nicely and pick up the light.

Ergo, with mistakes to fix anyway, I seized the opportunity to rip all the way back to the beginning of the lace panel on the left hand and use the Panel B chart for both.  I don’t think it makes one whit of difference whether they are “mirrored.”  What they are is soft, lightweight and oh-so-cozy.  Cashmere, silk and merino will do that.

Project marriage score:  9.5  (Nona is a recommended yarn for the pattern.)

Needles:  US 1 Addi Turbo, .5mm crochet hook for beading


  • Used Panel B chart for both hands
  • Placed each 8/0 bead after working the “crossing over” stitch of the sequence
  • Worked 9 1/2 repeats of Panel B chart, then added an extra .75 inches to length at top before ribbing
  • On thumbs, worked 10 rounds stockinette before ribbing

Total yarn usage:  31 grams

Nice little thumb gussets

Of course, you need not bead yours.  You don’t even have to bother with a patterned panel.  Just go round and round with that stockinette and some luscious laceweight leftovers.

I am toying with bringing the needle size down one more because the Nona really relaxed after a bath.  I think it would be very easy to tweak these for fingering/sock yarn, too.  Finally, a way to use up all of those little balls of laceweight I am too stingy to get rid of.

Nothing plain about these Jhaynes.




July 10, 2012

I know I’m not the only daft knitter who does this.

Can’t be.

Upcoming: 72 hours of travel through two time zones to attend a meeting in the desert, then turn around and fly back East.

What will I obsess over most before I leave?

What knitting to take, of course.

With my current project too close to completion, it’s a recurrence of startitis.

Key considerations:  A one-skein project that involves minimal tools, little swatching and nearly mindless instructions.  Because I have some sense, a pattern that I already own.  And a combo I can package easily this evening while packing the other stuff.  You know, clothes, makeup ~ things muggles consider necessities … before my wake-up in the owl-hours to catch my flight.

Sometimes I will spend days thinking this over.

I don’t have the luxury of time now.

But the answer is incredibly simple:  Knitspot’s Plain Jhaynes mitts with Spirit Trail Fiberworks Nona in Seaweed left over from my Phoenix Rising.  It’s a perfect use for laceweight remnants, and since the yarn just happens to be (ahem) in a basket on the coffee table, we can check that off.  Oh – and I have a skein of BrooklynTweed Loft and Pei within easy reach, too, so I can finally write some kind of a review.  Loft in the colorway Barn Owl, to boot. Or hoot.

Check and check.

Season 2 of Downton Abbey is loaded on the iPad.  A defensive measure for the one (long) flight where I appear to be stuck in a middle seat (gulp!).

Now to the rest of that packing list …

Baby, it’s cowl’d outside

December 8, 2010

I went nearly six days without knitting.


Certainly not by choice.

I am trying to get some life-mojo back, and to recover the illusion that I am in any way organized.  Working 70 hours in a week does not help this effort.

So it’s time to clear the decks with a couple of recent projects.  They have something in common, other than the obvious … both are examples of ways to incorporate shaping into accessories to achieve a better fit.

We’re talking about cowls.

Knitspot - Spiraluscious

I will be the first to tell you that there is nothing remotely swan-like about my neck.  Stubby as it is, it does get cold.  Cowls are the single best way to feel toasty warm without putting on the bulk.

You may remember this project from the first post about project marriage, Spiraluscious by Knitspot.

The yarn is Sundara Sock in my favorite colorway, Hot Chilies.

This cowl differs in construction from many others, in that it is knitted from the top down.  I used that for some shaping flexibility.

In flat view, shaping is apparent

Mods: I started at the top on US 4, at the appropriate gauge.  I wanted this not to crush down on itself into a smoosh on my squat neck.  After 2 repeats of the spiral pattern, I bumped up to a US 5.  I added no pattern repeats, but when it came time to knit on the edging, I went up again to a US 6.

Edging detail

The pattern instructs the knitter to not pin it out while blocking.  I went a different route — as evidenced in the first photo, using a vase to give it a little structure, which allowed me to open up the edging a little bit.  Ultimately, this means no breezeway where the cowl ends, which would defeat the purpose of the cowl entirely.

It being a gifting time of year, I also did a test-drive of AslanTrends Guanaco in colorway Blue Jeans on the Ridged Lace Cowl for a dear co-worker who likes to walk at lunchtime.

Ridged lace cowl

Again, I incorporated some shaping, though it’s a little hard to see in this shot. This one is knitted in the more traditional bottom-up construction.

Mods: Cast-on using US 9, through first repeat of pattern.  Changed to US 8 to purl ridge of 3rd repeat; changed to US 7 for 1.5 repeats and top edge.  I had less yarn than the pattern called for, so I knitted a total of 4.5 pattern repeats before the top edge.

I found this bulky merino-alpaca blend to be a little bit hairy ~ more than I would have liked.  It did soften up with a soak, and I know that subsequent wearing will make the finished piece softer.   (I knitted at slightly tighter gauge than I would have on a different project, knowing that the alpaca would relax with a bath.)

Grace notes

July 5, 2010

When you have a toddler, it’s hard to reconcile the fact of middle age.  I’m just not ready to be middle-aged when I still change diapers.  Period.  But reality and the morning obituaries remind me that as I get more grown-up, the adults who have helped me along the way are moving down the far side of the hill.  This makes me sad.  And serves as a reminder how precious time is.

Case in point: Jeanne. Jeanne was my piano teacher from 7th grade through college.  In those days, I practiced several hours a day and played in master classes, among other places.  Piano was serious.  I spent countless hours at her Steinway with the weighted keys.  I love Jeanne dearly.

I see her too rarely, though, with most of our communication via Christmas cards.  Last fall, I made a point of taking Darling Bebe to meet her.  We had a too-brief visit, which included the following exchange.

“… I don’t have a lot of time to myself, but I do teach knitting on the side.”

Eyebrow arches. “Knitting?”

“Yes, knitting. pause Probably not the kind you’re thinking of.”

Tudor Grace

Read in that exchange, a challenge.  Or at least I did.  So on my return home, I pulled out a skein of Handmaiden SeaSilk in the jewel tones Jeanne favors and cast on Knitspot’s Tudor Grace.  Since Jeanne is petite, usually chilly, and favors scarves, I cast on for a narrower scarf than the pattern calls for.   With just three repeats across, the darn thing almost went too fast to keep up with.  I didn’t rush this one – it was one of those grab-and-go projects when heading out the door.  “Just-in-case” knitting, as it were.  But I did have it finished and blocked in time to leave at my mom’s house for delivery.

Tudor Grace detail

The specs: 30 st cast-on for a total of 3 pattern repeats across.

Unblocked length: 60 inches.  Yarn used: 54 grams.

Blocked length: 67 inches.  The yarn bled a significant amount in its soak, as I’ve found SeaSilk to be prone to.  The result is slightly less heavy variegation between the greens and blues.

Yes, Jeanne, knitting.


June 22, 2010

A shady table outside a busy bakery on a sweet little street in Providence, RI.  Time for knitting talk and mommy-talk and girl-friending: YarnoraMama II.

OTN Squared: Tudor Grace

By now, I’m beyond being surprised to find that my cybersister Luann and I have the same project on the needles ~ Knitspot’s Tudor Grace.  Hers is a test-knit for Spirit Trail Fiberworks.  Mine is the second go-round, this time for Mom.  (My first, like so many projects, is waiting balefully for blocking but needs to be gifted later this week.)  It’s just one of those connections we seem to have.

fresh purls

And that’s what our YarnoraMamas are about: connecting in person when we can, since so much of our relationship is by necessity online.

Of course, we plan our destinations by yarn shop.  I mean, we have to have a destination and it might as well be about the thing that brought us together.

We could not have received a warmer welcome from Helen and Karen at fresh purls.  If coldness spells death for a LYS, it is

Mountain Colors River Twist

friendliness that builds a business.  I had sent an email to the shop in advance of our visit to ask some scouting questions about the neighborhood.  They went so far as to offer us their own parking spaces, and even a most kind discount during our visit.

So it’s no stretch that some yarn came home with us.  Mine is Mountain Colors River Twist, a yarn I’ve been looking at for a good while.  The upper colorway is Hot Springs ~ certainly Owl-appropriate.  The lower just sings mittens for Darling Bebe.  It’s so happy and handspun-looking.  I’ll let Luann tell you ’bout hers on her own.

Vases at Kreatelier

The whole Hope Street neighborhood was a “find” in itself, a place for artisans and one-of-a-kind treasures.  (In the karmic realm, I used to live on Hope Street in a different city.)  There was Kreatelier, a place where needle and thread create such beautiful things … their spare buttons, scraps and spools were lovely by

L'hibou kit for Darling Bebe


Owl is remedial, to put it kindly, when it comes to anything sewing-related. I attribute part of this to education on computers instead of anything approaching a “home ec” class that might have taught me how to backstitch properly.  However, I am optimistic that by the time Darling Bebe is old enough to work this kit with me, we will be able to follow the pre-stamped dotted lines to sew and stuff a pair of owls.  Material, needle, thread, scissors and stuffing all included.  Failure is not an option.  And I have a few years, right?

From Frog & Toad

Across the street was one of those sorts of shops that carries every clever, eclectic, often-green and usually handmade thing you’ve ever seen in one place.  Frog and Toad supplied me with a few more of my favorite headbands – the kind that are wide and look like scarves without actually being scarves.  They disguise many a bad-hair day to be sure.

The retail sales were but a backdrop for a much-needed visit; these, I can write about here.

And after a little lunch with the drone of vuvuzelas and soccer in the background, the unforgiving clock said it was time to head back to our respective states to avoid being fined for late daycare pick-up.

So off we went in different directions, the reprise no less sweet than the original YarnoraMama.

Project marriage

May 20, 2010

I am often asked, “How do you make yarn and pattern choices?”

It’s pretty simple.  Some projects are pattern-driven:  I want to knit the pattern, so do I have yarn that is appropriate?  On the flip side, others are yarn-driven:  I have this yarn, what should I knit with it?

When you get it right, it’s a marriage.  When you don’t, it’s more of a fling.  Or a one-nighter you’d rather forget.  One of my favorite things about knitting is do-overs.  We don’t get too many do-overs in grown-up life, so I’m especially appreciative of them in knitting.  Call it fearless frogging.

Pattern-driven projects

Just because a yarn can achieve the desired gauge does not guarantee it is right for a given project.  Gauge is a starting point, and even that can be fudged.  Is the final product supposed to be drapey?  Bouncy?  Textured or cabled?  Earthy/crunchy or smooth and sophisticated?  Season-specific?

While there is always some variability, there are some fibers that are not suitable for certain things.  For example, silk, alpaca and cotton have no natural elasticity.  Over time they will stretch.  They may not be appropriate for garments that gravity will play havoc with.  But blends involving these fibers will help compensate for this, and may result in a really pleasing garment.  Entire books have been written on this subject – and one in particular merits attention – The Knitter’s Book of Yarn. More musings from me on this another day.

Yarn-driven projects

As a yarn lover, finding just the right pattern for that special skein (or bag) is a big part of the fun, and for me, the most important part of the creative process when it comes to my knitting.  You have the yarn in hand, so what to do with it?  What does it want to be?

Sundara Sock - Hot Chilies

Here is my single skein of Sundara Sock in Hot Chilies.  I favor tonal and semi-solid colorways over true variegateds.   This one has many of my favorite hues, from russet through copper through nutmeg.  It’s a fingering weight, and definitely has “sproing.”   Having never knitted with it before, I first chose to make an Ishbel Beret by Ysolda Teague.

Ishbel Beret

Part of the reason I chose this pattern is because the strong pattern in the top section would show well even with the tonal color changes of the yarn.  IRL, there is real depth to the color that gives it almost a 3-D effect.  (Gratuitous hoot here: The beret is now featured on the Sundara Stitches blog!)

Now, what to do with the remainder – at least half of the original 370-yard skein?  Short answer:  Swatch and frog as needed.

Abstract Leaves Cowl

Here is what it looked like a good part of the way through the Abstract Leaves Cowl. (Free ravelry download)  You may recall, this was one of my, “In case of knitting emergency, break glass and knit” projects.  Granted, this photo wasn’t pinned out or anything.  That notwithstanding, what do you see?  Not much.  The yarn performs fine, but the pattern is really obscured – there’s just not enough definition.

To the frog pond it went.

Spiraluscious in progress

This is much better.  Spiraluscious from Knitspot.  It has a strong pattern that when blocked, will open up more.  This won’t be the yarn screaming out instead of the pattern.  The colors will move much in the same way that the pattern stitches move.  Yes, this works for me.

Hope something here works for you, too.


April 16, 2010

My name is NutmegOwl and I used to be a knitter. Until vitas interruptus and its virulent cousin, workus interruptus struck with a vengeance.  It’s too painful to try to count the number of days I went without so much as touching my needles.

The tsunami now over, there was one thing I was  pining for the other night after Darling Bebe’s bedtime: to sit in my chair and knit.

Somehow, that turned out to be a lot harder than it sounds.

I first picked up the almost-finished Ritzy Mitts made with the Glory Days Skein That Will Not End (so dubbed for having produced a cowl, a cable-intensive tam and now mitts with no sign of being near finished).  Now that it’s the ides of April, I should finish the March BFL-along.  Two problems with that plan:  1)  I was not in the mood to make thumbs; and 2) With almost all the knitting complete and ends woven in — it struck me that I have to frog them entirely and knit them all over again.  The gauge is just too tight.  I over-thought and over-compensated and did the worst knitting of my knitting life, with ladders a firefighter could climb.  O-kay.

Tudor Grace

Let’s pick up the Tudor Grace scarf in jewel-toned SeaSilk.  Oh, that’s right, from measuring it with petite Mom, we determined that once blocked, it’s long enough.  No knitting to do there.*

There’s Darling Bebe’s little Action sweater from Kim Hargreaves’ Pipsqueaks (my favorite kid book).  All that’s left there is finishing work.

I do not have enough brain cells for finishing work.

Could it be even remotely possible that with all of the WIPs in my house, I don’t have anything to actually KNIT on demand?

Ummmm.  Almost.

Sundara Sock - Hot Chilies

Apparently, in one of my last somewhat sane hours, my subconscious must have known what was coming.  Because right there in a tidy ziplock bag, was the remainder of my gorgeous Sundara Sock skein in Hot Chilies and the printed pattern for Abstract Leaves Cowl (free ravelry download) to go with the Ishbel Beret.  Instant gratification: Cowls to the rescue!  Lace on board!

Whew. That was scary.

* In case you are wondering, for any mostly-silk yarn, I use a ball-winder, then place the yarncake on a CD spindle and pull from the outside.  Your cake stays tidy; you recycle; everyone wins.  I accept NO credit for this idea – it’s from brilliant Melissa Morgan-Oakes, and I use the same technique when working 2-at-a-time from a single cake of yarn.

Spring solstice

April 6, 2010

… or something like that.

Regular readers will remember that KnittingKittens and I have two grand girlfriend outings a year.  Both take place in parked cars in the semi-darkness of a parking lot at a religious institution.  (See December post, Rites of Friendship.) While ostensibly that sounds a bit Dan Brown, it’s really just an excuse to have a quiet hour together sipping coffee and catching up in our quest for the most light-as-air pierogies you’ll ever find – and the week before Easter, butter lambs!

Butter lamb

Or rather, butter llamas.

These are hand-carved and there is a limited number for sale at 8 a.m.  KnittingKittens and I are usually the first crazies there.  Not this year.  She pulled in about 42 seconds after me.  Two women instantly jumped out of their cars and scurried up to the doors.

Hey, if you want to stand outside for better than an hour when it’s a windy 30 degrees at 6:30 a.m., have at it.  As long as we’re early enough in the line to get lambs before they sell out, that’s just fine with us.

What a face!

We wait until there are about 15 people in line before decamping.  Unknown to us, this year, they have enacted a three-lamb limit per customer.  Seriously.  The funny part, though, is that the sale runs from 8 until 1.  The pierogies, golubki and babka are gone by 10, so I don’t know what they actually sell until 1.

It’s enough to have some quiet time together – and KnittingKittens brings the coffee.  (KnittingKittens always brings the coffee.  When she’s my roommate, she even brings coffee to the room for me.  And you wonder why she’s my BFF?)  This morning, she surprises me with presents!

Araucania Ranco

Two skeins of Araucania Ranco in shades of cinnamon and nutmeg.  But there’s MORE: a hefty gift certificate to knitspot, purveyor of perfectly written patterns.  I see a cowl, shawl and sweater in my future …

What a great start to another yarny year!

Dratted pearls

April 5, 2010

Dratted Pearls

NOTE:  Readers should see comment post below from the designer on 6/22/10.  Sometimes projects don’t work for a host of reasons.  In this instance, it was a combination of factors – including the yarn itself.  The pattern is quite pretty, and has been popular among many knitters I know who are not counted among the 88 others who posted the project on ravelry.  It did not work for me.  I do regret any personal hurt that may have been caused by my feedback.  Such was not intended.

~ NutmegOwl

What kind of knitter fails to find joy in a project that involves aran-weight cashmere in a gorgeous color?

That would be me.

But Drifted Pearls is finished (and gifted to Mom).  And I’m. Finished. With. It.

I’ve said it before, but I need to vent say it again: today, anyone can self-publish a pattern.  That’s great.  But the usability of that pattern matters.  If you’re going to use a chart with non-standard symbols and expect knitters to embrace it, take a lesson from the unrivaled Anne Hanson of Knitspot.  Put the symbol key and stitch glossary on the same pageDon’t ask me to turn your pattern into an arts-and-crafts project to make it usable.

Put a different way – I shouldn’t have to spread three pages out across my lap to knit a neckwarmer.  And I shouldn’t have to do it so you could put waaaaaaay too much space on a page in a transparent effort to look oh-so-clean-and-fresh.

Dratted Pearls and pleats

It’s official: said project shall henceforth be referred to as Dratted Pearls.  It has been found guilty, and receives my personal F-word:  Fiddly. I shall not count the ways.

Want more heresy?  Yes, this is cashmere we’re talking about.  Plymouth Yarns Royal Cashmere to be precise.  It was dying to split; only my Addi Lace needles and sharp tips prevented it.  Sure, it got softer with wet-blocking.  But this yarn does not  leave room for anything but absolute precision in a field of stockinette.  Not at all.

As for the other colorway that I had set aside to make one for me, there’s a world of other patterns out there that deserves my limited knitting time a whole lot more.  And plenty of wonderful cashmere from School Products marinating in my stash just waiting for some attention and a warm bath to banish its spinning oil.  I’ll happily knit with that any day of the week.  Royal cashmere my foot.

Hope and glory

March 17, 2010

Hope sprouts eternal!

Following the weekend’s torrential rains, Darling Bebe and I found these yesterday!  New word of the day:  Crocus.  I remember stealing an October naptime to drop 100 bulbs from White Flower Farm in the ground, knowing how just-plain HAPPY crocus make me.  It was a most worthwhile investment of mommy time.

And another cause for hope, joy and celebration:  I am one week away from YarnoraMama! This holiday is neither state nor federal, but better than either one because daycare is open.  More on that forthcoming, but you’re welcome to take your guesses.

And here’s the glory part:

Glorious Vines

Glorious Vines, properly named Knitspot’s Ivy Vines cowl made from Briar Rose Fiber’s Glory Days, as my first completed object for this month’s BFL-along.  (Blue Faced Leicester, for muggles.)  This one’s just for me.  (I gifted away all but one cowl.)

Lest I fail to mention the particulars:  US 3 and US 4 Addi Turbo needles, using magic loop technique.

Modification: Knitted the bottom section in the Large size, then decreased to the Small for the neck to keep it close and prevent flopping.

This yarn is a simple pleasure to knit with.  While Clara has a range of lovely terms for evaluating wool, mine are a little less descriptive – but certainly rapturous to compensate.  It’s wonderful workhorse wool. Not too sticky, plied well so it does now split, softens and blocks beautifully.

Upper "vine" detail

I’m one of the lucky people who can wear pretty much any wool next-to-skin (I love the feel of Shetland on skin …), and while I know there can be significant variation in the softness of any yarns of the same breed owing to the spinning and dyeing process, this qualifies as softer than many commercially available comparable yarns, like Jaeger Merino DK or Louet Gems – both of which are staples in my “workhorse wool” category.

Glorious Vines - bottom detail

I’d have to call the unnamed colorway, “Ocean.”  It is the same ever-changing deep blue-green.  Also, IRL, as opposed to the photo, the color is more cohesive and significantly less stripey.  As I’ve discovered with its companion piece (more to come), it also withstands a horrific amount of frogging and reknitting without showing evidence.  And with each 500-yard skein running about $30, it is affordable hand-dyed luxury – without a single knot.  I probably embarrassed myself squeezing and sniffing the skein when I bought it and summarily enabled convinced Luann that she needed to have some, too.  No apologies for that now!

Friends don’t let friends miss out on special yarn.

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