flowergirl knits

flowers, cats and knitting

Itsy Bitsy Teensy Weensy Yellow Baby Sweater


There's nothing like a tiny baby sweater to give a knitter a little ego boost – oohs and aahs are pretty much guaranteed.

Pattern: In Threes Baby Cardigan by Kelly Herdrich

Yarn: madelintosh worsted, “Butter” colorway

Notes: A simple pattern with some nice details that make it special. I love the smocking effect around the garter stitch yoke created by the increases. This is knit from the top down in one piece which means minimal finishing (meaning you can whip one up at the eleventh hour in case it, um, slips your mind until a week before the shower….)

What really made this particular little cardigan special, though, is the yarn. Madelintosh is kitten soft, the colors are beautiful and complex and it's washable to boot. It's practical luxury. I had this stray skein in my stash (leftover from my Low Tide Ripples sweater) and it worked perfectly – just enough for the smallest size – so yay for successful knitting from the stash (smug).

The intended recipient arrived about a week after the shower; baby and parents are doing well.


Mittens Are the New Socks

Another mitten.

hope these are done before the "End of May"! haha!

Mittens! Suddenly all I want to knit is mittens! Much like socks they are small and portable and are the perfect platform for your current knitting technique obsession. All variety of yarns can be used, from rustic and tweedy to smooth and elegant, sturdy worsteds to finest fingering weight. Except for those sometimes pesky thumbs, they are generally simpler to knit than socks and quicker too.

Of course, socks have not lost their appeal. In my opinion, turning the heel of a sock is one of the great thrills of knitting (turning a cable is a close second), a I-can’t-believe-I-just-did-that-and-I’m-still-not-sure-how-it-works-but-it-does! moment. Mittens just don’t have any moments like that, except for the thrill of a completed project (also always a good moment)

Emboldened by the success of my Fiddleheads, I’ve gone Mitten Crazy, scouring Ravelry for patterns, weighing the qualities of yarn as mitten-knitting candidates, even thinking about buying a “mitten tree” (a contraption that holds mittens individually to dry, usually set next to a fireplace or heater) to display them (I’ve decided that’s going a bit far – at least for now) The excellent Help for Haiti pattern selling program on Ravelry has been a great excuse to pick up some new patterns – End of May by Mandy Powers, Squirrel Sampler by Adrian Bizillia (who also designed the Fiddlehead pattern) and Northman Mittens by David Schulz. I’m also planning on knitting more Fiddleheads as gifts (but only for knit-worthy people!)

Of course, I don’t really need all those mittens, and style snobs frown on them. What I know is that they’re challenging yet fun to knit, that they keep my perpetually cold hands warm and that, as the snow flies (again) and the temperatures drop (again), there’s nothing quite as cozy and satisfying as handknit mittens.

Fabulous-ness Alert!

Brace yourself – fabulous-ness ahead!

Pattern: Fiddlehead Mittens by Adrian Bizilia of Hello Yarn

Yarn: Tanis Fiber Arts Fiddlehead Mitten Kit, Yellow label yarn, “Jewel” colorway

Notes: I’m so very happy with how these turned out, but most of the credit needs to go to the beautifully written pattern by Adrian Bizilia of Hello Yarn and the gorgeous, hand-dyed yarn from Tanis of Tanis Fiber Arts. It was a match made in heaven; I just was the happy recipient of their talents.

The pattern stretched my skills to learn new techniques (I-cord cast-on, lining a mitten) and practice my stranding. The I-cord cast-on takes a little extra time but the result creates a lovely, tidy edge and also makes picking up stitches for the lining a breeze. Lining a mitten is such a clever yet practical idea, making them super warm and cozy – I plan to line future mittens whether it’s in the pattern or not! And oh yeah, the design itself – who doesn’t love swirls, especially swirls as charming and lovely as these?

The yarn (which is soft and springy) was a bit of a splurge, purchased as a kit from Tanis Fiber Arts, but was worth every penny. People literally gasp when they see the colors. The slight variations of the hand-dyed yarns compliment the design perfectly, never detracting from the fiddleheads. “Jewel” describes these colors perfectly – the contrast colors are vibrant and rich with the main color setting the stage beautifully. Some things are best left to the professionals; color co-ordinating is one of these.

Knitting these was a joy – I will definitely be knitting more Fiddleheads! They became that project you always hope for – a fun knit that you’re always anxious to get back to, a beautiful finished product. I should have made the lining just a teeny bit narrower and my stranding continues to be a work-in-progress, but essentially they’re perfect.

I just may sleep with them under my pillow tonight.

Late to the Party

One last FO from 2009 – a Noro Striped Scarf, made popular last year by the ever-ispiring Jared Flood of Brooklyn Tweed.

Pattern: Noro Striped Scarf

Yarn: Noro Silk Garden, no. 272 and 292

Notes: Why do people tell new knitters to knit scarves? Yes, there’s little/no fussing with gauge and fit and they’re good for practicing, but they’re so loooooonnng. Bor. ing. It takes a special kind of perserverance to finish one. Even with the amazing color changes that Noro is so famous for, this wasn’t the most exciting project ever. I actually started it nearly a year ago; it did not take me a year to knit. It just kept getting set aside for other projects, rather too easily and quickly. I finally decided that it needed to get off the needles once and for all and powered through.

Picking the colors for this scarf was probably the hardest part of the project and I’m not sure I made the best choice. I’m not always particularly crazy about how the color changes worked – in places it’s beautiful and vibrant, in other places the contrasts are muddy or indistinct. Silk Garden is an interesting study in contrasts – thick/thin, rustic/sophisticated – and always unpredictable.

Although I don’t have a huge number of WIPs lurking in the closet, it feels good to have this one finished and off the needles. I’m not sure I’ll use it for myself – maybe I’ll set it aside and give it as a gift someday – it’d be nice to have a small stash of finished gifts!

Back to mittens and sweaters! I just started some Fiddleheads and I believe it may be True Love! More next time.

New Year, New Mittens

New mittens for the New Year! I call them Pussywillow Mittens because the grey color and kitten-softness of the yarn and the knot/bobble shapes of the pattern are all a bit reminiscent of pussywillow catkins.

Pattern: Merion Mittens by MintyFresh

Yarn: Madelinetosh Tosh Merino, colorway “Silver Fox”

Notes: I’m very pleased with this project. The pattern was detailed and clearly written. The actual knitting was tons of fun and surprisingly quick. There is a lot going on (knots, seed stitch on the palm, through-the-back-loop ribbing, branches-and-knots pattern on the back) which keeps things interesting, but it all works together for a clean and sophisticated design.

I’m not 100% sure that I did all of the decreases correctly (decreasing in seed stitch can be frustrating), and this was the first time I’d done knots like this, so some are smoother than others, but overall I think the mittens turned out looking pretty good. They also fit really well!

The yarn is heavenly – super-soft and a bit silky and easy to work with. As far as my uneducated yarn eye can tell, it is a dead ringer for Malabrigo Worsted. This colorway is mostly solid, but with lots of depth. It does have a slight vinegar odor (which I believe has something to do with setting the dye) but it isn’t overwhelming and disappears with a sudsy bath.

Because they’ve been knit with the same yarn as my Thermis cowl, they make a nice set that “goes together” but isn’t “matchy-matchy”.  And there’s enough yarn leftover from these two projects that I might even attempt to squeeze out a hat.

Wishing everyone a very Happy New Year – hope it’s full of fun and successful knitting!

Yadda yadda yadda

Lorem ipsum dolor sit again, consectetur adipiscing elit. Morbi tristique, velit id vestibulum pulvinar, ipsum orci congue lorem, a eleifend!

Pattern: Thermis by Kris Knits

Yarn: Madelinetosh Tosh Merino, colorway “Silver Fox”

Notes: Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Sed porttitor varius erat, vel iaculis nulla imperdiet et. Sed vehicula odio id felis sodales in accumsan augue vulputate. Suspendisse vehicula odio at sapien accumsan rutrum.

Cras pulvinar dignissim similar to Malabrigo tellus ut elementum. Etiam ac sapien at sem viverra ultrices nec nec odio. Cras molestie pulvinar erat id vestibulum. In hendrerit scelerisque very soft mattis. Proin viverra leo sed felis feugiat vel amazing color risus cursus. Proin eu ornare nunc? Morbi gravida turpis ut sem lacinia placerat. Mauris turpis mi, elementum a ullamcorper nec, commodo sit amet velit!

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut eu.

(In other words, you’ve already heard about this pattern many times from me! More info – in English – on the yarn next post!)

Hope everyone had a lovely holiday!

Happy 2nd Blog-o-versary

Another year has slipped by, another knitting year filled with ups and downs.

The year included:

  • 11 pairs of socks
  • 3 sweaters
  • 5 cowls
  • 2 hats
  • 2 pairs of mittens
  • 4 fingerless mitts
  • 1 blanket
  • and 2 lace shawls

Whew! Well, that’s what happens when you embrace the hermit lifestyle! Some goals for next year include knitting down the stash (probably good for several years!), finishing more sweaters and improving my rudimentary color-work skills. No doubt I will be tempted by many gorgeous yarns and beautiful patterns that I can’t even imagine yet – the craft of knitting seems to be constantly renewing itself and yet remains grounded in basic principles that have stood the test of time.

It’s an exciting time to be a knitter – I can’t wait to start the next year!

Mystery Solved

I have – at last – finished the Through the Loops Mystery Sock, 2009. The only real mystery left at this point is, why did it take me so long to knit?

Pattern: Mystery Sock ’09 by Kirstin Kapur

Yarn: ShiBui Sock, colorway “Rapids”

Notes: For the second year, Kirstin Kapur of Through the Loops fame has offered a free mystery sock pattern for Socktoberfest. Each week through October, she posts on Ravelry and on her website one more section of the sock – cuff, leg, heel, foot, toe. The pattern emerges as you knit and Kirstin usually throws in a twist or two to keep you guessing (for instance, this years pattern is on each side of the leg through the heel, then shifts to the top for the foot) Fun! Last year I was able to keep up and finish both socks by the end of the month, but this year I got a late start and then other things kept popping up and – well, that’s just the way it goes sometimes.

This is a wonderful pattern – interesting but not difficult, with lots of nice details such as the way the pattern continues down the heel. And I love the toes – the repeat continues as you decrease, getting gradually smaller as if it were fading away. Lovely.

As expected, I loved the ShiBui sock yarn. The “Rapids” colorway looks a bit like faded denim and the light color really lets the pattern pop. Always a pleasure to knit with.

Next on the agenda – another Thermis! Shocking. And maybe a return to Nectarine. And some mittens. And more sweaters. Endless fun.

Scrooge Knits a Christmas Present

I have lately made it a policy to knit mostly for myself. There are some notable exceptions – my Mom, a couple good friends, etc – but mostly I am a hard-core, self-centered, it’s-all-for-me-me-me kind of knitter. Mostly I get away with this but on occasion I’ve been bamboozled into knitting for someone not on my very short list. <sigh>

Pattern: Thermis by Kris Knits

Yarn: Malabrigo worsted, colorway “Buscando Azul”, leftover from my Tang sweater

Notes: Why yes, that’s right – this is the fourth time I’ve knit this pattern and I can tell you right now, it’s not going to be the last (boy, did I get my money’s worth out of that $2.49 pattern!) I think it is a nearly perfect combination of style, sophistication, practicality and fun; the pattern is easy to follow, it knits up in a few days, it looks great on anyone and one-size-fits all (perfect for gift knitting) The Malabrigo yarn ensures that it will be kitten-soft, light and lofty, and glow with incredible color. I also love that it has buttons which can give each cowl it’s own personality – rustic, demure, funky, classic. Plus, half the fun is finding the perfect buttons!

I do have to admit to also being a bit of a Scrooge about the yarn – I did not go out and buy a new and special skein, but instead used up some of the bits and pieces in the stash. But hello?! It’s Malabrigo! Any Malabrigo is glorious and fabulous.

I hope the recipient likes her cowl – I’m pretty sure she will. I just hope she doesn’t think this is going to happen regularly – but I’m pretty sure she will <sigh>

Toasty Toes

My feet were cold.

After a very chilly October, we’ve been enjoying some Indian summer weather with quite reasonable November temperatures. However, winter is looming and my feet are already cold when relaxing at home. Time for some house socks!

Pattern: Log Cabin socks

Yarn: Dream in Color Classy “Ruby River”

Notes: I love these socks – it’s the second time I’ve knit this pattern. The worsted weight yarn really zips things along and the ribs and cables keep things interesting. I made it last year, but the yarn I used (Berroco Ultra Alpaca), while beautiful and soft, didn’t hold up well to the abuse that comes with being a sock. Darning them only delayed the inevitable. Time for a new pair.

This time I choose DIC Classy which, although not specifically a sock yarn, appears to be sturdier than the Ultra Alpaca. For one thing, it’s machine washable, an excellent advantage considering the – ahem – less than pristine state of my floors. It also has a tighter twist and knits up to a nice firm fabric when knit in a tight gauge.

This is the first time I’ve knit with Classy, which had been languishing in my stash. I love the Dream in Color sock yarns, so I wasn’t surprised that I also enjoyed the worsted. As with the sock yarns, the colors are amazing. I love this colorway of saturated raspberry pink and jewel purples – a combination I also use in the garden as often as possible.

Looks like I got these done just in time – the five-day forecast is promising lots of cold temps and possibly even some snow. Thanks to my new house socks though, my feet have a good chance of staying nice and toasty.