This Is What Happens…

Okay, so I want to knit something spectacular, maybe a big lace shawl or a fancy sweater. But I just can’t figure out which pattern, what yarn. So instead, I have a zillion small projects OTN.

I am knitting this Skyp Rib Hat based on the Skyp Rib Socks pattern to match a pair of mitts I knitted as part of my participation in the 16-Point Club in the Ravelry group Fingerless Glove Fanatics.

These are the Skyp Rib Mitts which I knitted for the 16-Point Club. I converted the Skyp Rib Socks pattern into a pattern for fingerless mitts. They yarn is an Opal handpainted sock yarn (color #17, Multi), and it probably wasn’t the best choice for the pattern, but the pattern was a good choice for the yarn. Capisce?

More fingerless mitts, these doing double duty for both the FGF 16-Point Club and the April 2016 MKAL (Mystery Knit-A-Long). This is clue #1 of the pattern, which is called Shadowplay. It’s corrugated ribbing, not my favorite thing to knit, but it looks great. I’m using complementary colors, which is one of the challenged of the 16-Point Club. The yarn is some Sisu sock yarn I had in my stash. It’s a nice, soft yarn, but it is splitty, so I don’t recommend it.

Yes, another pair of fingerless mitts, and yes, these are part of the 16-Poin Club. The stitch pattern is a waffle stitch, and I designed the mitts myself. I call them the Orange You Glad Waffle Mitts because they are mitts in a waffle pattern knitted in stash yarn, a ball of Brown Sheep Naturespun Worsted in the color Orange You Glad. Clever, aren’t I?

This is what happens when I cannot decided what to knit next. ::SIGH::

 

 

 

 

 

 

Woo-Hoo! FO Friday!

I actually have some knitting FOs to share today. All are knitted from my very own handspun. Here are pictures and descriptions.

Two hats knitted from the Andraste color way from Into The Whirled.

Two hats knitted from the Andraste color way from Into The Whirled.

On the left is the Andraste Turns A Square hat, which is Jared Flood’s Turn a Square pattern, a simple but fun beanie that I enjoy knitting. The pattern is written for using two colors of yarn, but it works really well with self-striping yarn, and you don’t end up with color jogs.

On the right is my A Head for Andraste hat, which is the Barley Hat from Tin Can Knits. It was a lot of fun to knit. I understand why it is such a popular pattern.

The hat and mitts below were knitted from yarn I spun using Bee Mice Elf fiber in the Fall 2014 Club colorway, which I call Rustle.

DSC06209_2

Rustling Leaves Slouchy Hat and Braided Cable Mitts were made to go together.

I didn’t use a pattern for the hat, and the pattern for the mitts is one of my own devising.

I had a lot of the “Rustle” yarn, about 8 ounces total, so I made this set of matching mitts and hat, too.

The mitts are the Braided Mitts by Tara Johnson (free download on Ravelry) which I modified for a better look and fit. I then “designed” the hat myself using the same cable as in the Braided Mitts pattern.

There are also two pairs of mitts knitted from Andraste, but I’m not quite ready to share those with you yet.

I have gotten a lot of pleasure out of Andraste and “Rustle.” First, I spun them up into beautiful yarn, then I knitted that yarn into lovely and useful articles of clothing. What comes next is the pleasure of wearing and/or gifting these handspun handknits.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

👻🎃💀👻🎃💀👻🎃💀👻🎃💀👻🎃💀👻🎃💀👻🎃💀👻🎃💀👻🎃💀👻🎃💀👻🎃💀

Best Birthday Ever

I recently turned 60. 60? Really? How did that happen?

I happen to have an excellent husband; he’s loving, kind, generous, and thoughtful. He set out to make my 60th birthday the best birthday ever.

<Begin historic present tense>

It all starts a few weeks before the big day. The DH asks me if I’d like to go to a Pittsburgh Penguins game for my birthday.  The only NHL game I’ve ever seen in person was a preseason game–the Pens vs the Washington Capitals in the Giant Center in Hershey, PA–in which none of the “star” players participated. So, DUH!!! Of course I’d like to go to a hockey game in Pittsburgh for my birthday. He gets on the Internet and finds four seats together in the lower level of the Consol Energy Center for the night of October 15. The Pens vs the Buffalo Sabres. I like the Sabres. I love the Pens. Four tickets so we could bring the boy and his sock-worthy GF along. The excitement is building!

Next, the DH says to me, Let’s go to Bleacher Bums and I’ll buy you a hockey sweater for your birthday.

What? say I. You already bought tickets for a hockey game.

That’s as much for me as for you, says he. Let me buy you a hockey sweater to wear to the game.

Okay, say I.

I mean, it’s a no-brainer, right? So, we go to bleacher bums, and as soon as we walk in the door, I spy the hockey sweater I want.

Yep, a #87 Sidney Crosby dark blue alternate jersey, aka a Winter Classic jersey. Best birthday ever. But, believe it or not, it gets even better.

Gameday arrives. We leave Carlisle in the morning and hit the PA Turnpike headed west. It’s a glorious, sunny day, and the autumn leaves have set the hillsides ablaze. I have my knitting along and work on another Winter’s Coming hat, this one in two shades of pink, one of which is very purplish. The yarn is Brown Sheep Nature Spun worsted weight wool in Peruvian Pink and Victorian Pink.

Winter's Coming Again Hat

Knitting in the car makes trips go much faster. We have an uneventful trip and arrive safely at our hotel in Monroeville. We couldn’t get a room in the city; the hotels are filled because both the Pens and the Steelers have home games. After checking in and getting everything stowed away, we drive to the GF’s place in Shadyside where we visit, watch college football, and eat Chinese take-out until it is time to leave for the game.

We leave the house and walk to the corner to catch the bus that will take us to the CEC. It’s been along time since I’ve ridden public transportation, so I’m enjoying myself immensely. I have a lot of really good memories growing up of riding the bus with my Grandma B, and this bus ride is bringing them back. The bus stops right smack in front of the CEC, which is an amazingly beautiful building. We walk around to the other side because that is where the will-call window is, and we have to pick up our tickets at will-call.

The will-call entrance is across the street from The Igloo, aka Mellon Arena, but for me it will forever be the Civic Arena. The old arena is in the process of being demolished, but the demolition is barely underway, so there it stands in all its glory. I never attended a hockey game in the Civic Arena, but I have been there for a political rally, dog shows, and a jazz festival. It’s kind of sad to see it go because it is definitely a Pittsburgh landmark, but the building has outlived its usefulness.

We enter the CEC, pick up our tickets, go to our seats, and soak up the atmosphere. The CEC was built to be a hockey arena.

It is very well designed. When you sit down in your seat, you realize that you are seated high enough that you can easily see over the heads of the folks in the row in front of you. You can look to the sides and see the action on the ice without having to lean forward and obstruct the view of the people beside you. The seats themselves are wide and well-padded and surprisingly comfortable. And there is plenty of leg room, even for the 6’4″ DS.

Our seats have a perfect view of the face-off circle and goal net in what will be the Pens offensive zone in Periods 1 and 3. That means that during the warm ups, I get some really good looks at the Sabres goalie, Ryan Miller, who is one of my favorite hockey players.

You may remember him as the USA goalie in the last Winter Olympics. He looked so sad after the OT loss. If you don’t remember him from the Olympics, you might recognize him from the Comcast  Xfinity commercials where he’s playing air hockey with Shaquille O’Neal and says to Shaq, “You’re in MY world now.” I love that commercial. Miller isn’t in goal this game, but I have a nice unobstructed view of him in the goalie’s corner of the Sabres bench.

The hockey game is really exciting.

It’s a little disappointing that the Pens fall behind, but they keep scrapping and get within one point of the Sabres in the third period when Jordan Staal scores a goal in the net right in front of us. The ending of the game is very exciting, but the Pens fall short and lose 3-2.

Under normal circumstances I might be a little disappointed because the Pens lost, but nothing could put a damper on this day.

Greg and me enjoying the game.

On a day when I get to spend the day with my husband, son, and son’s GF; when I get to eat Chinese take-out; when I get to see an NHL game live and in person; when I get to wear my #87 hockey sweater to the game; on a day when I get to do so many wonderful things, something even better happened. I got to meet, live and in person, Michelle The Knitting Lady and her DH Mike. I have followed Michelle and Mike’s Pittsburgh Penguinss hockey adventures on Ravelry and Mike’s blog for a while now, and finally meeting them in person was a real thrill. I actually had a pretty nice view of Mike and Michelle from my seat at the opposite end of the arena thanks to the telephoto lens on my camera.

Knitting Lady Says Do It!

Yep, Michelle is knitting! She’s able to knit and watch hockey at the same time because she can knit without looking at her knitting. I can knit when I watch hockey on TV, but not when I’m at an actual game, so I didn’t bring my knitting to the game.

The day finally has to come to an end. We hop on the bus and make our way back to Shadyside. We look at our pictures, finish our Chinese take-out, drink a little coffee, watch a little college football, and do a lot of chatting. And the icing on the top of the cake? Alma the Cat makes up with me. Perfect ending to a perfect day. We drive back to Monroeville, get a good night’s sleep, and hit the road headed east. When we arrive home and walk in the door, we are greeted by a couple of kitties who are very happy to see us. You’re in MY world now. ☺

Best. Birthday. Ever.

Where To Begin?

Time has a way of getting away from me. I cannot believe that so much time has passed since my last blog entry. And now I have so much to report that one entry simply won’t do. If I report everything that has happened since my last entry in just one post, you will quickly become bored with reading me yammering on about hockey, knitting, birthdays, etc., etc., etc. So I shall break it down into smaller parts in order to keep your interest, dear reader of mine.

In answer to the title question, I think I will begin with my nemesis, Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Adult Surprise Jacket, or ASJ for short. The ASJ is back in time-out. It has been behaving very badly and doesn’t deserve my attention. I have tried to seam up the sleeves and shoulders using umpteen different methods, and everything I have tried comes out looking like hell. I hate this project more than any other knitting project I have ever done. I’d rather knit a 4ft x 7ft afghan with Red Heart yarn than make an ASJ with pure cashmere. As much as I love EZ, I have to say that this design is a big stinker.

Warning! Hockey Metaphor Ahead!

I consider the Adult Surpise Jacket to be the Alexander Ovechkin of knitting.

Ugly and obnoxious, it plays dirty. People talk like it’s the greatest player in the world of knitting projects, but when you shine the light of day on it, not only are you dumbstruck by how ugly it is, you realize that it is little more than an attention whore disguised as a knitting project.

I haven’t packed the ASJ away, yet, but I think I will do so soon because just looking at it lying on top of my knitting pile makes me queasy, kind of like seeing Alexander Ovechkin’s ugly mug.

End of hockey metaphor.

Sorry about that.☺

I bet you are asking yourself, Well, if Pinko Knitter isn’t working on her ASJ any more, just how is she spending her knitting time? I’m so glad you asked. I’ve worked some on my reworked Froot Loop Socks. Sock #1 is close to completion.

This is a fun pattern to work on, but it doesn’t go well with watching hockey on TV. Hockey takes a lot of concentration, so my hockey knitting must be totally mindless.

Mindless Knitting Project 1

Mindless Knitting Project 2

No, your eyes are not deceiving you. I made two, count ’em, two hats in “Blaze Orange,” also known as hunter safety orange. I supposed it isn’t surprising that one can purchase hand knitting wool yarn in such a bright orange. After all, hunters need to keep their heads warm just like everyone else. My older sister hunts deer and she subtly hinted that she would like a hat in orange. I Googled to find a source for blaze orange yarn and, violá! Bartlett Yarns in Harmony, Maine, offers a nice worsted-weight, woolen-spun, 2-ply wool in “bright orange.” Bright orange? That’s something of an understatement. I swear this yarn glows in the dark☺.

The Bartlett yarn is similar to Briggs and Little Regal, with lots of VM (vegetable matter, that is, vegetation that got caught in the sheep’s wool as it was out grazing and doing whatever it is that sheep do) that I picked out as I knit. I don’t mind VM in yarn because it is an indication that the wool has not be over-processed. The yarn from Bartlett is pretty scratchy before it is washed, but it softens a lot after washing. It also blooms a lot when washed. The beanie I knitted on 3.5mm needles looks almost felted since it was washed. I’m glad I used 4.0mm needles for the ribbed hat.

Preview of upcoming features: another hat, another sweater, more hockey, and a very special birthday. Stay tuned. You don’t want to miss a single episode.

In The Pink

I had an urge to knit some girly-girl hats, and there’s nothing more girly-girl than pink. I had Knit Picks Wool of the Andes on hand in two shades of pink, Rouge and Blossom Heather, as well as some WotA in White, so I went to work.

The Candy Stripes Rolled Brim Hat is my own design, which you can download by clicking here or clicking the Patterns link. It’s worked in Blossom Heather and White.

Next came the Sixteen Hearts Hat. This hat was inspired by the Loving Hearts Hat , but I completely redesigned the hat, changing even the colorwork chart. While the Loving Hearts Hat is knitted from the top down, I knitted my hat from the bottom up. I changed the heart pattern from a 12-stitch repeat to a 14-stitch repeat. This gave the hearts a little more space so they don’t look so jammed together. I used K-P WotA in Rouge and White, and to great effect, if I do say so myself.

If you like this hat, the pattern can be found here, or click on the Patterns link.

While I was working on these two hats, I couldn’t help but think about making a hat that used both shades of pink. The design that kept calling to me was Winter’s Coming (http://kalmanac.wordpress.com/2010/08/03/winters-coming/), which I had knitted in red and white a while back. I thought it would look lovely in Rouge with Blossom Heather as the contrasting color. I have named it Double Pink Diamonds Hat and here’s a picture of it for your viewing pleasure so that you, dear reader, can judge the result for yourself.

Which Came First, The Button Or The Hat?

I have fallen hard for button-tab hats. Buttons are a great way to embellish knitted hats, and the variety of buttons that are available is astounding. One can spend hours looking through buttons at the local fabric shop, not to mention spending lots of money. Buttons come in myriad designs, sizes, and materials, and the selection seems almost endless. So what comes first, the button or the hat?

Sometimes it’s the button that serves as inspiration. I made a trip to JoAnn Fabrics one day for the sole purpose of buying buttons to use as hat embellishments. I saw this big gold button and thought, Wow! That button would look great on a hat. But the hat would have to be all about the button; the button had to be the star. I had to select just the right yarn to show off this button, and I had to come up with a brim pattern that was proportional to the button.

I used Nature Spun worsted-weight wool in Navy Nite, which is a dark blue that is slightly purplish. This jewel-tone color provides a really nice backdrop for the big gold button, don’t you think?

I cast on 110 stitches on 3.75mm needles and because the button is 1-5/8s inches, I worked a 2-inch band using the garter rib pattern: row 1 (WS) k2, p2; row 2 (RS) k across. Then I bound off the first 10 stitches purl-wise and purled across, joined the knitting and knit the body of the hat in stocking stitch in the round. I did my standard crown decreases starting with k8, k2tog. After weaving in all the ends, I attached the button. I had my sister-in-law in mind when I made this hat, and when I showed it to her, sure enough, she loved it! The winters are cold where she lives, and the Big Gold Button Hat is sure to get a good work-out this winter.

Sometimes button-tab hats are built around a button, but sometimes the inspiration comes from elsewhere.

I joined Facebook a while back at the urging of my younger sister. I’ve reconnected with some childhood friends, and it has been fun catching up. I’ve been posting pictures of my knitting to Facebook and have gotten some very nice comments from my old friends. One of them, who now lives in Florida, rides a motorcycle. A burnt-orange colored motocycle. She admired my hats and jokingly said that I should knit her one in burnt orange to match her bike. I have a lot of good memories of this friend and have thought of her often through the years. I remember how much fun we had dancing in the old gym. Certain songs always bring her to mind. I can picture her so clearly in my mind’s eye dancing to those tunes.

Well, I just happened to have a ball of burnt-orange wool in my stash (Lion Brand Lion Wool in Pumpkin). So I thought about what sort of hat would suit this fun-loving and adventurous old friend who rides a burnt-orange motorcycle. What popped into my head was a button-tab hat, but I had to find the perfect button. I went through my stash of “extra buttons” and found a heart-shaped button that was exactly what this hat was calling for. And that’s how Button-Down Heart Hat was born.

I started with 3.5mm needles and a cast-on of 120 stitches. The rest is the same as the Big Gold Button Hat. After the hat had been washed and had dried thoroughly, I packed it up and sent it on its way to Florida. It arrived safely and now has a happy home with its new owner.

Who’da thunk buttons could do so much?

No Baby Knitting


Many years ago, when my older sister was expecting her third child, I knitted a couple of baby layettes–hat, sweater, and matching blanket. I still have the pattern book somewhere. The next time I run across it, I’ll set it aside so I can post pictures of the patterns I made. I know yinz are just dying to see them. 🙂

One of the sets was in a lace pattern, but at the time I didn’t know it was “lace,” and I certainly didn’t know that knitting lace is “supposed” to be hard. (It isn’t, but that’s an argument for another day.) I just followed the directions. Anyway, the layettes turned out well, although to this day I don’t know whether my sister ever got any use out of them. I lived far away from her at the time and didn’t get to see her and the kiddos very often.

Since that time, I haven’t done any baby knitting to speak of. I didn’t knit anything for my son when he was a baby, although I’ve knitted quite a lot for him as an adult. I did start a baby sweater for him, but I never finished it because he grew at a pace that far outstripped my knitting speed. I’ve knitted a few baby afghans over the years, but otherwise, there’s been no baby knitting in my life since the mid-1970s.

Then in early June, my younger sister asked a favor of me. A co-worker of hers had just had his first child, a boy, and because she thinks very highly of him, she wanted to give him something special to commemorate the event. She asked me to knit a baby hat as a gift for her co-worker. OMG! What a compliment! She thought that one of my hats would be a really special gift! How could I refuse.

The first step was choosing the right color. Her co-worker lives in India and is Hindu, and we wanted to make certain that we were using an appropriate color. We settled on blue, which is associated with manliness and courage and thus is a good color for a boy. 🙂 I had a lot of blue sock yarn in my stash, so I dug through it until I found just the right shade, Gjestal Silja Sock Yarn in color 307.

I had the perfect pattern, too, a spiral pattern used in Cathi’s Coast Cap. But because it has been so many years since I knit anything baby-sized except blankets, I had no idea about how many stitches to cast on or how big or small to make the hat. Google to the rescue! I found a pattern for baby hats that included multiple sizes, picked an appropriate size, and went to work. I had the hat finished in no time and sent it on its way to my sister so that she could mail it to her co-worker.

I don’t know how useful a wool hat is in India, but I’m certain that my sister’s co-worker appreciates so unique a gift. And I appreciate my sister’s high opinion of my hand-knitted hat.