Monday, October 29, 2007


Remember this?
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It is now this!
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The Chevron Scarf from Last Minute Knitted Gifts, with the properly All HAllow's Eve name of Exsanguinate... because of the Ruby River (of blood) yarn and the way this variation on the traditional "Feather and Fan" stitch mimic a slow flow of human lava.... "oooo...eeeee...oooooo"

Its amazing how a certain pattern can make a yarn sing, while another is just destined to end up in the thrift store or charity shop. Matching the yarn to a pattern that marries well is one of the most fun things about knitting.

When I first started a scarf with this sock yarn (Mountain Colours Bearfoot), I knew I wanted a feather and fan stitch but in an effort to work it quickly, I wound the two skeins double and used the traditional YO method. The result was a chunky, awkwardly thick and formless stretch of muddled fiber. Nothing like what this yarn with its deep dark heartbeat was capable of.

It was only after viewing several bright, harmonious examples of the Chevron Scarf that I began to think that a solid feather and fan stitch might work with this yarn, used singly as it was meant to be, giving it a perfect rhythmicly draping structure. I think it worked.

Only 24 inches to go!

My next delightful challenge will be finding the perfect patterns for these beauties, gifts from my friend in Germany:
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The one on the left is Neptune and the one on the right is Purple Bell, named for a beautiful German flower. Our autumn is turning cold now, and I'll need all the handmade socks I can make!

On another note, I checked the stats for this site and my photos here get almost 60 hits per month! Soooo, If you visit, please leave a comment...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Grackle, Grackle

I made a hat for a writer friend of mine, Brodie. He likes orange (and the word "Grackle"). So now I have a new stash of orange-themed yarns with plans for more Brodie knits!

This hat is the fabulous ZeeBee, which is short for [Elizabeth] Zimmerman Beanie. Schmeebot has kindly robotized her pattern so that all you have to do is enter the head measurements and all your knitting schematics are magically generated! It's a short-row crown that creates a gentle curve up from the brim. I love its simplicity. It makes a short sharp statement of the yarn colour itself. It was extremely fast and only tricky when doing the garter-stich graft. It's lovely when done! And... a perfect October pumpkin-substitute, don't you think?

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I knit this with one skein of Reynolds Whiskey yarn on size 6 circular Addi Turbos. That yarn has the most interesting colours. (I've just bought a robin's egg blue for,... well,... robin's eggs! More on this later...)

Next to the Grackle Hat, you can see an auntumn gourd-y coloured yarn that I thought would make the perfect winter scarf to go with it....

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Gothic Lolitas

Just in time for Halloween, I've finally written up my pattern for the Gothic Lolita Elbow-length gloves. Although I don't have a good picture of these in the true Japanese Gothic Lolita style, they do fit well over layers of cute sweaters and blouses, because they're gently belled...
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They're also a good beginning pattern, because they're knitted flat on straight needles without a thumb gusset and then seamed up the side.

Beware the disappearing skull! It looks so cute and toothlessly smiling in the pattern, but when you print it out, it disappears! Don't ask. I have no idea....

[EDIT: I fixed the chart. It should now print out with the correct spaces marked for the little skull...]

I do think that these gloves would look lovely in a Halloween costume that also included Knitty's Hallowig in the same bright salmon pink!

Friday, October 12, 2007

rainy, whiney Friday and vintage blouses

Break time has finally come around here at this ancient brick educational edifice, and break time means Tea! and Knit Blogs! and even Ravelry! It is a dark and cold rain day here. Before the bright autumn leaves have even had a chance to flaunt their colour, this rain will have them down to wash away in puddles...But the colours of dyed yarns on knit blogs are even brighter than maple leaves, so that has cheered me up.

I've been wrestling with a few vintage patterns that I want to make up. Charming as they are, it does take some time and thought to gauge them with modern yarns and update the sillouettes. I like my sweaters long and slightly fitted, with longer, 3/4 length sleeves. Puff sleeves are not for me (unless they are on Dotted Swiss blouses). Soon I'll have this sweater in good shape:
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketI want to make this in Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Baby. The vintage sweater yarns were often fingering weight and that means that we now can use almost any sock yarn for these patterns from the early 1900's - if we're willing to do all that knitting on small needles! This particular pattern takes a US size 5.

Another one in this same 1937 vintage booklet might lend itself charmingly to some updating:
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Its made with a bulky yarn - and my current favorite is the Plymouth Alpaca Grande. This would work up into a very soft, drapey, quickly knit winter sweater.

The next old booklet to get some re-design attention will be the 1920 one with the four vintage knitted bras in it!

and here it is!

The Daliet Blouse from Jack Frost Sweaters - pattern 75 years old

directions from


“Feel correctly dressed for any occasion!”

Size 14 (32 bust)


Straight needles US 2, 14” long and Straight needles US 5, 14” long

8 oz Fingering wool

[Grams to ounces conversion chart here: ]

Pattern: A multiple of 7

Row 1 - *K5, K2tog, YO, repeat from *, ending K7

Row 2 – P5, P2tog, YO, repeat from *, ending P7


With No. 2 needles, CO 102 sts. K2, P2 for 4 in. Change to No. 5 needles, increasing to 112 stitches at even intervals across the row. Work in pattern for 7.5 inches from ribbing. Keeping pattern, bind of 7 sts at the beginning of each of the next 2 rows, then K2 sts tog at each end of every other row 7 times. Work 7.5 inches even. Bind off.


With No. 2 needles CO 102 stitches. K2, P2 for 4 in. Change to No. 5 needles, increasing to 105 stitches at even intervals across row. Work to correspond with front. Bind off for underarm same as front. Work armhole same as front. Bind off.

Sew shoulder seams.


With No. 5 needles, on right side of blouse, pick up 35 sts across shoulder. Work back, increasing to 70 stitches. Pick up 7 sts. Continue working back and forth in Pattern, picking up 7 stitches at end of each row until 126 stitches have been picked up from end to end of armhole. Work 5 inches even. Change to No. 2 needles, decreasing to 62 sts. K2, P2, for 2 inches. Bind off.

Sew underarm and sleeve seams.


Updated (modern) Instructions:

There’s no reason why you couldn’t knit this blouse on a circular needle in the round and avoid a lot of seaming. This is how I plan to do it, eliminating the tight waist and the puffed sleeves and making the blouse long and slim but still form-fitting. I may lengthen the sleeves, too.

Size 32 bust

Note: This pattern could be altered for larger sizes with a few changes:

Add 14 stitches per bust size to the cast on (this assumes a 7 st per inch gauge) . Add length by knitting extra rows in the body of the sweater. Increase the depth of the armhole scythe by working additions rows with K2tog every other row.

If you prefer a looser waist silhouette, add stitches to the cast on, in multiples of 7 per inch to be increased, and gradually decrease as you move towards the bustline.


Circular needles US 5, 14” long and 16” long. Size 2 circular 16” for sleeve cuff (optional).

Stitch holders

5 balls (for the smallest size) Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Baby 55% merino wool, 33% Microfibre, 12% Cashmere approx. 137 yards/ 125m per 50g

Pattern: A multiple of 7

Row 1 - *K5, K2tog, YO, repeat from *, ending K7

Row 2 – Repeat

Front and Back:

With No. 5 needles, CO 224 sts. Join in round. K2, P2 for 4 in. Work in pattern for 7.5 inches from ribbing. Slip half of the stitches onto a stitch-holder. On live stitches, and keeping in pattern, bind off 7 sts at the beginning of each of the next 2 rows, then K2 sts tog at each end of every other row 7 times. Work 7.5 inches even. Bind off. [I think binding off is the best way to go to get the neck to look the way it does in the original picture]. Slip circular needle through the held stitches of the back. Repeat the instruction for the front.

Shoulder seams: seam shoulders using a fairly loose whip stitch.


With 16” No. 5 circular needles, on right side of blouse, pick up 35 sts around shoulder (this should be a complete circle after seaming the shoulders). Work around even for 5 rows, establishing pattern as in front and back. Increase slightly by adding 1 stitch at beginning of pattern on 6th row, as in: K6, K2tog, YO, repeat from *, ending K7.

Work 5 inches even for short sleeves. For ¾ length sleeves, Knit until sleeve measures approximately 12 inches from shoulder.

Cuff: Change to No. 2 needles. K2, P2, for 2 inches. Bind off in rib pattern or use sewn bind-off.

© 2007 Unraveling Sophia for Silver-Apples Designs; all rights retained by author. This pattern may not be duplicated in any form, including electronic, and may not be re-posted on the internet, without express permission from the author. Links to this original pattern may be posted. It may not be included in any collection of patterns, for sale, without individual and written permission from the author. One hard copy may be retained for personal, non-commercial use. For use in charity or teaching purposes, please contact the author.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Noro sea urchin

I promised photos of the Hats I made for the local elementary schools, and here are the ones I've completed so far:

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Starting clockwise at 3 o'clock (which is, in fact, the order in which I made them) is the top-down pattern of my own design (pattern in sidebar at left) except that I used a very thin DK weight, Reynolds Whiskey, on a size 7 needle. This yarn has a raspy, substantial feel, so even though it's finer in weight, it will be warm. And the colour is exceptional! The little stripe is from some leftover sock yarn, which was sadly orphaned and anonymous...

This next one at 6 o'clock is my personal favorite. I made it up as I went along from a vague memory of a hat in the last Harry Potter movie (there were a lot of wonderful knits in that movie!). I knit it bottom up, 68 CO, size 8 needles, Noro Kureyon. K2 P2 for approx 7.5 inches and then began decreasing. I decreased every 4th and then every 3rd and then every 2nd row in the Purl stitches only until all the purl stitches were gone, then decreased in Knit stitches every other row for 4 rows, then in every row until I had four stitches left on the DPNs. You can see this last section of Knit-only decreases in the vibrant blue part at the top of the hat. I then knit all around the four stitches, over and over, until I had a cord long enought to make a nice knot at top. I threaded the tail through the stitches, pulled it tight and secured it, weaving in the end, then tied my top-knot. I love it, if I do say so myself!

The third one is another that I'm really pleased with! It's the ZeeBee from Schmeebot and what an accomplishment to master this seamless beanie technique!! It's a take-off on Elizabeth Zimmerman's brilliant techniques and is truly fast, fun, and easy!. I used the rest of the one skein of the Reynold's Whiskey and size 7 and 6 straight needles. The top yarny-ball is more of the orphaned sock yarn. It looks quite jaunty! The ZeeBee is knit side to side in garter stitch, with short row shaping to form the crown.

My final hat is a bottom-up free-style hat, Noro Kureyon again. This colourway had a brilliant peacock blue and green strand in it, but when I got to those colours, I skipped them so I'd have a repeat of the more muted browns, greys, blacks, and dark greens. It is K2P2 for 7.5 inches on size 8 circular and DPN needles and then I decreased in pattern (very tricksy for me) so that the ribbing continues to the very top of the hat, where the tail is threaded through the remaining stitches and pulled tight. This made the top of the hat look like cable stitching. All it really was, was decreasing the Purl stitches purlwise, and decreasing the Knit stitches knitwise so that a demarcation between knit and purl was visible all the way up. As you go along, you come to places where you are decreasing a knit and purl stitch together, and I always did this by favoring the first stitch on the decrease, i.e., if I decreased P1K1, I decreased purlwise. If I decreased K1P1, I decreased knitwise. At the end Knit stitches predominated and the very top is an interesting delta of knitwise ribs... It looks like the top of a sea urchin shell:
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket(sorry for the blur, it was the best I could get in my my be-fuddled post-midnight-knitting brain fog)

and Finally - a photo of my Black Rose yarn from Tausendschon in Germany!
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Here it is resting gently amidst my vintage knitting needles, waiting patiently for its transformation in to Rose Socks! You can see that the colours Nadine chose for me are so perfectly dark rose colours, with none of the blue or orange that other skeins in this colourway show! I love it so much. My idea for this yarn includes a pattern of roses. I can't wait to finally get to this design!

Sunday, October 7, 2007

inspired by Anthropology...

First up, a wonderful addition to the stash from Japan!
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My friend Julie in Seattle sent this (along with some fantastic Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab oils) yesterday. I can't read the Japanese on the label, but it is definitely sock yarn DongBao colour 286, and feels like superwash merino, incredibly soft. Interestingly, the symbols on the side say it is 100% something and 10% something else! So it is 110% something. The universal washing symbols indicate that its superwash. The colour, that ocean teal, will be perfect for the socks I have in mind, with a wave's crest of white around the edge using the handspun she sent...

Also in the mail was the latest Anthropology catalogue. I make no apology for being inspired by Anthropology...many and better knitters have gone before me, adapting these imaginative but horribly expensive knits (some of them are almost $400) for general consumption (just Google "Anthropology-inspired capelet" to see what I mean!)...

There are several sweaters in the new catalogue that make my knitting needles itch:

This one seems fairly easy to adapt; a V-neck empire-waist cardigan with a ribbed high waist. Kfb every other stitch after the ribbing to create the slightly gathered peplum. Add ribbing on the 3/4 length sleeves... 100% alpaca for that soft glow. I'd use A Touch of Twist natural alpaca.

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This one is also a pretty straightforward cardigan with a low scooped neckline and elbow-length sleeves. I'd lose the ruffles on neck and sleeves, and substitute a simple, loose K2P2 ribbing. It looks like it would work up well in Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran....

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And finally, my favorite, a bed-jackety-looking sweater, almost like a shrug/capelet thingy... very vintage-looking. This one would take a bit of time to work out the construction: perhaps start with the circular yoke/collar, top-down, and then add the lace bodice, increasing stitches for an A-line and keeping the sleeve stitches on holders. Then go back to those sleeves, those wonderful bell sleeves, picking up the stitches seamlessly and creating the lace pattern while increasing frequntly enough to make the big bell. The picot edge I might crochet on afterwards around the whole sweater and sleeve edges.... Rowan Soft Baby for this one - I think they even make this very vintage powder blue!

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{{sigh}} So many ideas, so little time...

Friday, October 5, 2007

I have no spindle, but…..

Today, my AOL news told me that the Leonardo da Vinci painting, Madonna with the Yarnwinder, which was stolen several years ago, was recovered in Glasgow.

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The oil-on-wood painting, which shows the Virgin Mary with the baby Jesus on her lap holding a cross-shaped spindle for yarn, is one of several versions of the same scene painted between 1500 and 1510”, they said. I thought the yarnwinder looked a bit like a drop-spindle, but with only one spoke. I suppose it could be something similar to a niddy-noddy but without both ends. And we all know that the Madonna was often portrayed as a knitter, with various knitting implements, including double-pointed needles. Her Son’s seamless garment is even mentioned in the gospel, isn’t it, when it talks about the events leading up to crucifixion, and the Roman guards casting lots for his robe, which was especially prized because it was a seamless garment – something that can only be produced through circular knitting….

So, we’re in good company – spiritually speaking – as knitters and spinners. It’s interesting to think of Mary, at home, in the evening, with her feet up, knitting away on a little shirt using DPNs and saying “Oh Christ! I just dropped another stitch!” just like I do.

Okay, that last part was totally tongue-in-cheek and probably sacrilegious, but…well… I have no excuse.

It is really and truly Autumn now.... those warm, summery days and those cool, shivery nights. You know, I'm an old-fashioned type of girl, and I like Edwardian bedsocks and sleeping caps, warming the sheets before I get in, but sleeping with the window open. I chalk it up to visiting my great aunt who was in her 90's when I was 10 and the only heat in her house came from a combined wood and oil stove in the kitchen, with vents in the ceiling above it to warm the upstairs.... So, this kind of weather is in many ways comforting weather for me...and knitting weather, too – second only to deep winter snow-days when you can’t go out.

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Here I am on the road to the apple orchard, in my funny handmade, flannel jumper-dress, knitted vest, and silk scarf around my head. I think I look quite Russian! (my true heritage on my father's side). This is a digital photo of a regular photo that my sweetheart took, so its kind of grainy-looking... and the shadows make my nose look hooked, but I can assure you, that is not the case! Its appropriate for October though, coming on to Halloween...

Every summer at work I organize a Hat and Mitten Knit-out, where we all make items for the elementary schools. In mid-October (coming right up), I give them to the school nurses and they hand them out through the winter to kids who need them. Its subtler that way. Last year we made 80 hats. This year I have only about 20 – and I made four of those! I don’t know why people were less knitty this year. Its really too bad, though. I’ll post pictures and design notes on the ones I made soon: two from one skein of Reynolds Whiskey DK and two in Noro Kureyon.

I finally got the yarn for the Fall IK Duster: Sublime’s extra fine merino:
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Now, if I can just get my sock-knitting obession under control, I can cast on!