Thursday, February 6, 2014

It's National Sweater Day

How lucky are we in Canada that we actually get an whole day devoted to the sweater? The World Wildlife Fund invites us today to help to lower carbon dioxide emissions by lowering our thermostats 2 degrees (celsius) and throw on a sweater instead.  I love this initiative.  My father was always a big proponent of bundling up in the winter, instead of trying to heat our home to tropical standards.  Though as a teenager I complained (sometimes bitterly) I've come to love being able to bundle up in a big sweater, sipping a big glass of wine cup of tea, especially if that's accompanied by some knitting.  (Some trashy tv and chocolate are often in the mix as well.)  There's something comforting in putting on layers and keeping cozy while the winds blow outside.  

As an aside, if I could choose to snap my fingers and have a handknit ready for me to put on in honour of NSD today, this is the pattern I'd choose: 

What would yours be?  I'd love to hear which is your go-to sweater, handknit or no, for the serious cold.  And now I encourage you to throw on that favourite cold-weather-busting item, turn down the heat and take up the challenge. The planet will thank you.  

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Easy As Pie Cowl

My friend Heather is a great dresser.  It's not so much that every time I see her I think "I wish I was wearing that" but that she has a great sense of style and that she knows what looks good on her.  I like to think that throughout my adult life, I've been taking baby steps toward my own happy place with what I wear.  (I'm a really visual person, so Pinterest has been a god-send for me for this kind of thing.)  This winter, several times I've had knitter's envy when Heather has worn a particular accessory: a rolled-edge charcoal cowl.  It looks so cozy, sits with perfect drape, and looks totally hand knit.  Not so, she told me when I asked, she picked it up somewhere.  Naturally, my first thought was "I could knit that."

Knowing well that I am an obsessive knitter, Heather wasn't terribly surprised when I asked if I could take a look at the item.  I measured, counted stitches and took some photos.  

Later that evening, I'd come up with my own version, which I've just realized can actually qualify as my VERY FIRST KNIT DESIGN---woot!  I've dubbed it the Easy As Pie Cowl, and it absolutely is.  I'm happy to share it here, in case anyone else would like to copy Heather's look:

Easy As Pie Cowl

one size
Yarn: Super Bulky weight yarn (I used the always affordable and sturdy Lion Brand Thick & Quick, 6 oz and 108 yds per ball, but you can use whatever you like)
Needles: 10mm circulars, 16 inches
Gauge: Okay I haven't quick calculated gauge yet for this project, but it's not too important for this one. 
Notions: Stitch marker if desired, to mark beginning of row.

Cast on 72 stitches and join in the round being careful not to twist your stitches at the join.  Continue in stocking stitch until you have approximately enough yarn remaining for a bind off row.  (You'll have to eyeball this...) 

Bind off loosely.  Sew in ends.  Enjoy.

I wore mine right away but feel free to block it if you like.  


This is the first pattern I've ever actually written up.  It's a simple one, but please let me know if there is a problem with it, and please, if you do decide to make the EAP cowl, send me a pic of your finished object.  :)


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Out For a Rip

Hello again and happy new year.  :)

Every January I breathe a sigh of relief.  As much as I enjoy the holidays (and I really do!) it always feels great to get the tree down, the decorations put away, and to get rid of all the lists (groceries, gifts, to-do, etc) that I frenetically wrote and tried to complete throughout December.  Inevitably, one of those lists is "Things I must finish knitting."  Like most of the knitting ilk, I had quite a few hand-knits on my list this year to be given.  Thankfully, they were all for my immediate family, who are extremely forgiving when it comes to belated Christmas knits.  

The title of this post refers to the recurring theme in my knitting over the last month: ripping back.  (Ugh.)  I had been going great guns, completing a turban-style headwrap, 2 chunky cowls, an enormous chunky-knit infinity scarf for my middle daughter, a cute little sweater for my nephew and 3 little christmas ornaments for my girls when things began to get ugly.  

The first incident was pretty minor.  I was a couple of feet into the Meringue Cowl when I noticed an error in the brioche stitch a few inches back.  For whatever reason, rather than just looking up "How to correct an error in brioche stitch" I decided it would be simpler just to knit backwards for a few inches.  Simpler? Maybe.  More tedious? Definitely.  But job done, it was fixed and on I went.

Then, after feeling quite smug about having quickly knitted up a size 4 top-down Caelum sweater for my little nephew, I got started on the size 8 version for his sister.  I was blazing along, making great progress and closing in on the waistband ribbing when I spotted what I quickly realized was a fatal error in the collar.  When I'd joined in the round, I'd over-lapped the shawl collar backwards so that the button holes were on the bottom.  I know, I could have just used smaller buttons, and squeezed them through makeshift holes that I'd stretched out, but it irked me so much I decided to tear the whole darn thing out.  There were still 5 days left before the gift had to be given---I could still finish right? Of course I had to fit in all the other last-minute Christmas stuff and work too, among other things, so alas, my little niece got an "IOU one sweater" note with the rest of her gift.  

On Christmas morning my daughter Bronwyn opened her infinity scarf, and she loved it.  Like the Meringue cowl, it was also done in a lofty, squeezable brioche stitch and was particularly soft and cozy.  I was pleased she was pleased.  But a couple of days later, she came to me with a small concern---when she doubled up the scarf to wear it close to her neck, she felt a little as though she was in a neck brace.  The scarf was just a little too wide to be able to be worn comfortably.  She showed me and I agreed.  

The scarf had knitted up very quickly on super-bulky yarn, so I offered to just make it over again, at about half the width.  I'd planned to tear out the entire thing and make the world's biggest ball of yarn, but rather than ripping the entire thing back, I quickly realized that I can just knit right off the old scarf as I make the new one.  

Fortunately, I've never been one to get too worked up about having to rip things back.  I like knowing that I can fix errors, and that I'll be satisfied with the end product.  Besides, I try to remind myself, I like to knit.  What's a little more of it?  

I'll throw the question out there though: how comfortable are you ripping out a project once it's under way? Do you see it as a complete fail, a do-over, or is the whole notion too frustrating to imagine---once you've started there's no going back?  I'm curious.

Though this has nothing to do with needles and yarn, given the topic and the temperature, I'll close with this link which has been making the rounds on Youtube in Canada (especially down Ontario-way).  For you non-Canadians, here's a little peek into a pocket of beloved Canadian subculture.  Virtually everyone I know who has seen this says "I went to school with a bunch of guys who were EXACTLY like that," or "OMG that's like everyone from Renfrew!" (or insert of pretty much any small rural Canadian town).  Apologies in advance for the language (or if you're from Renfrew).

   P.S. The video doesn't seem to want to show up on phones and tablets, so here's the link instead: