Double Espresso

Double knitting has been on my to-do list since ages. The fact that it produces reversible fabric with reversed colors on either side intrigued me. I knew how it works theoretically, but wanted to try my hands at it. I finished working on Annis and wanted something quick and easy as a filler, so I decided to knit this pretty hotpad.

I had some NaturallyCaron’s Country yarn in two shades of brown, which was perfect for this coffee hotpad.  I looked at videos explaining how to cast on with two colors alternately. After going cross-eyed watching those videos, I decided to cast on with two strands held together. Clever, eh? On the next row, I treated each strand as a separate stitch, so I had the required stitch count for both colors.

It took me some time to get used to holding a strand in both the hands, but once I got the hang of it, it was a smooth sail. Working the chart was very addictive. After completing one row, I would be so eager to work on the next row and the just-one-more-row syndrome made this hotpad a very quick knit. Before I knew it, I was casting it off. To match the cast on edge, I cast off treating two strands as one stitch and knitting with both strands together. The small loop is an i-cord knit using two strands held together and attached to the hotpad later on.

The yarn is splitty and was a pain to work with. It was a wrong choice for the hotpad, I wish I had used some sturdy cotton instead. Well, lesson learnt.

My Ravelry Project Page
Pattern:  Coffee and TeaPot Holders
Yarn: NaturallyCaron.com Country
Needle: US 7 4.5mm

New Pattern: Just Hatched

When I made a baby blanket for my newest nephew, Atharv, his mother immediately asked me if I can make a newborn sized sweater to go with the blanket. Finding newborn size clothes that fit is hard enough and dear Atharv was a bit underweight at birth, so finding a good fitting cardigan for him was even more difficult. Atharv’s mother liked the soft green color and wanted a sweater in the same one.

I had this idea for a baby cardigan from a long time and realized if I don’t get around to making it now, then it will never get done. I like the simplicity and usefulness of raglan cardigans: top-down, seamless construction, try it on as you go, easy to modify length if need be. I added a wide border of ringlet stitch, a stitch pattern from Barbara Walker’s Treasury, to compliment the plain stockinette body. And that is how Just Hatched came into existence.

Ravelry Pattern: Just Hatched by Anjali M.
Yarn Suggested: Plymouth Yarn Encore Colorspun Worsted
Needle Size: US #9 5.5 mm

Name it and Win it: Pattern Giveaway

I have a new design for a woman’s spring cardigan coming out in the next couple of days. While zeroing in on the yarn, colorway and the lace pattern was easy and even though knitting the prototype and grading was relatively difficult, what has me flummoxed is what to call this design. I had a lot of help from you guys the last time around when I couldn’t find a suitable name for my summer tee design, so I am turning to you all again for help.

This spring cardigan is intended to be worn open, though the lace is so stretchy, you could shut the cardigan close and fix it with a pin. It has a very different construction and a very delicate ribbing to complement the lace. See the pictures for inspiration and let me know your suggestions. There will be two winners this time. Read on for details.

Here are the rules:

1. Leave a comment on this post with your suggestions.
2. No limit on the number of names you can suggest
3. If I decide to use the name you suggested, you will win a copy of the pattern, sent to you as Ravelry gift or PDF e-mailed to you. You will also be credited on the Ravelry pattern page.
4. Contest ends on March 25 2011.
5. Winner will be announced once the pattern goes live.
6. As a thank you to the other participants, I will draw a name randomly who will win a copy of this pattern.

Wonderful Wallaby

Some patterns get very popular in the knitting world and before you know it, every knitter you know is working on that pattern. EZ’s Ferbruary Baby Sweater and her Baby Surprise Jacket are some of the evergreen projects which find new admirers everyday and the project count just keeps going up. I never felt any special pull towards these two patterns, but what did catch my eye was the Wonderful Wallaby. The cheerful and chubby model might have had some hand in pulling at my heart strings, but the pattern itself is neat.

Even though the Ravelry pattern page says this is available for US $7, there is no way you can buy it online, even if you are willing to shell out that money. The pattern is carried only by LYSs, so there was no way I could get a copy. I had lost my heart completely for this pattern, so I had to have it no matter what. RAK group on Ravelry came to the rescue and a wonderful knitter sent me the scanned pattern.

The pattern is nothing like the ones I have seen before. It does not follow a format and does not have sections like ‘Gauge’, ‘Materials’, ‘Yoke’ etc. It is written in conversational style as if the pattern creator is chatting with you over a cup of tea. There are hand drawn pictures of kangaroos knitting which adds to the pattern’s charm.

The pullover is knit from bottom up. Body is knit upto yoke, sleeves are knit separately and then joined and decreased to form the yoke. There is a group dedicated to this pattern, Wonderful Wallaby KAL, where there is an ongoing KAL and people can join whenever they want. This group has a wealth of knowledge on Wallaby. People have pooled in their modifications, tips, errata they found in the pattern and are always eager to help a newbie out. Some veterans on that group have made multiple Wallabys and are experts on this pattern.

I used the group as a resource and made a lot of modifications myself. I used seed stitch border instead of garter stitch. There is a kangaroo pouch (hence the name Wallaby) which I knit seamlessly, following a fellow knitter’s helpful instructions. My pullover turned out big (I started this in that ancient era where I used to be a bad girl and did not swatch, ha!), in fact so big, that even though it is a year since I knit this, it still does not fit N. I am hoping it will atleast be useful come next winter.

N is thrilled that it has a pouch and that too, an open one in which his hands meet. He is making plans on what to hide in his secret pocket.

Ravelry Project Page
Pattern: Wonderful Wallaby by Carol A. Anderson
Yarn: Acrylic, Worsted Weight
Needles: US 5 3.75 mm

A prayer for a baby

The last couple of weeks have been crazy, to say the least. A dear one is fighting a medical problem and there is nothing the rest of us can do, but stand and watch. It sucks to be helpless, right? While this loved one is fighting for life, a cousin of mine is due to give birth to a whole new life. It is great news that she is still carrying the baby inside her at 38 weeks, considering she had a premature birth scare two months back. She has been going through a lot of bad times on the personal front and it was saddening to see her face yet another emotional issue. Thank the almighty, it turned out to be just a scare and things are fine now, but when I heard the news, my decision on the spur was to cast on for a baby blanket with a prayer weaved in every stitch for the baby.

I wanted something mindless, so the focus is on the prayer rather than to keep track of what row I am on. Garter Rib Baby Blanket fit the bill perfectly. I wanted a bigger blanket than I usually make (so the baby can use it in its toddler years too) and hence cast on a larger number. A larger garter border was added to go with the larger blanket. Once the first few rows are done, then it is just one long, mindless knitting. The K3P3 ribbing could have gone faster if I knit continental style, but I was happy with the progress.

I used a new yarn this time. I was told by the Our Own Store guy it is Vardhaman, but our well trusted Rav knitters choose to differ. It is is acrylic, fingering weight for sure, so let’s live with that. I used this yarn held double and with 4.5mm needles, it gives a nice, airy, drapey blanket which is light enough to wrap swathe the baby, but thick enough to keep it warm.

I tried steam blocking acrylic for the first time and I am amazed by the result. I used my Philips Steam Iron which has the ability to give out constant steam. Though it was a slow and tedious process to steam block a big, bad blanket with a measly steam iron, it was all worth it. The uneven stitches evened out, the blanket became drapier and softer. I am wondering why I never treated my previous FOs with a dose of steam.


Ravelry Project Page
Pattern: Garter Rib Baby Blanket
Yarn: Acrylic, fingering weight, held double
Needles: US 7 4.5 mm

 

Pingu

My little one was never much of a TV watcher. We had to work on his TV watching skills until he started enjoying a bit of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Chhota Bheem and Bugs Bunny. I am a cartoon lover myself and used to love watching Pingu when I was a kid. I later introduced this to my husband and it was only natural N became a part of our gang. It was love at first sight for N and boy, is he hooked. He needs a daily dose of Pingu to complete his day. While watching one of the episodes, he casually mentioned if we can buy a stuffed Penguin for him. A mother would have replied, ‘Sure, we will buy one’. A knitter’s reply is of course, ‘Why buy? I will make you one.’ So, here is Pingu.

 

Pattern: Pasha by Alexandra Virgiel
Project Page

I used our standard 4-ply acrylic yarn, held double. The pattern is simple and easy to follow. It uses short rows to shape the back and the tummy. The back and the front are knit separately and then seamed together. Wings and feet are attached to the finished body. I hate seaming and am not very good at it, which shows in this project. I don’t think the little guy minds. Pingu has received a lot of hugs already.

Set-in Sleeves: How to

I had been hearing great things about set-in sleeves for sweaters. They say it fits really well and gives more room for movement and so on, but when I heard it uses short rows to shape the sleeve cap, I was hesitant to give it a try. Definitely not an adult sweater because if I goofed up, it would mean redoing all the work and my knitting time is already at a premium. So I decided to give it a try with a child’s pullover. I made a pullover for N and made set-in sleeves and I really love the look of it. The shoulders do not droop like in raglan, and neither do they look puffed up like drop shoulders. This is a neat technique to avoid sewing them in (which I hate).

Here is the sleeve in all its glory. Can you see the wraps which I left unpicked? I actually like that look.

Now that I tried it, it turned out to be simple. You pick up X number of stitches around the armhole. Divide that by 3. Place one marker after x/3 stitches and another one after x/3 stitches, so you basically divide your sleeve into three parts. On the right side, knit to the second marker, wrap and turn the next stitch and knit back to the first marker and wrap and turn the next stitch. Continue doing this until you work all the unworked stitches and reach the beginning of the round. Then on, knit around and do the standard decreases. It may sound complicated, but trust me, it is very simple. Once you visualize how this is done, it is a piece of cake. Also, I was advised not to pick up the wraps and I am glad I followed this advice. The wraps make such a nice ‘lining’ around the armhole edge and does not alter the look of the pullover.

Here are some diagrams I made when I was learning this technique. I included an example to make it easy to understand.

 

Let us say you picked up 51 stitches around the armhole. It need not be a multiple of 3, but you can always go up/down a stitch or two without compromising on the fit, so let us assume you have a multiple of 3. Divide that by 3. 51/3 will give me 17. Place a marker (red) after 17 stitches from the underarm. Place antoher marker (blue) after 17 sts from the red marker.

 

After you pick up all the stitches, you will be back at the beginning of the round. Now, you will be knitting your first RS row. Knit till the blue marker. Remove the marker, wrap  the next stitch, place the blue marker (so that it is placed after the wrapped stitch) and turn the work. The marker’s position is changed so that you always turn the stitch after the marker. If you are experienced enough to know a wrapped stitch when you see one, then you don’t need to reposition your markers. You can as well remove the markers after your first wrap.

 

 

All WS rows will be the same. Knit till the red marker. Remove the marker, wrap the next stitch, place the  marker and turn the work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All subsequent RS rows follow the same pattern. Knit till the blue marker. Remove the marker, wrap the next stitch, place the marker and turn the work.

 

 

 

 

You continue doing this until you have reached the beginning of the round by wrapping all the remaining stitches. At this point, you should have a neat sleeve cap and you are ready to begin knitting the sleeve in round. Follow your standard decrease methods and in the end, you should have one well-fitting sleeve. Admire your work and the fit.

I am glad I mastered another skill in the knitting world. I know, there are many more to go.

Yellow, yellow…

Looks like test knitting is the only kind of knitting I am involved in. I recently finished test knitting the Wheatspikes Vest for Sole and before I knew it, I had signed up for another test knit. I am expecting a few additions in my cousins’ families, so want to knit something warm for the expected babies. I love knitting things for infants because they knit up so fast that they are done before you realize it and kid knits are so cute, aren’t they?

Inge Sandholt’s cardigan is a cute, little cardigan, knit flat, bottom-up using sock weight yarn. I had bought some 2-ply acrylic yarn from Surya Emporium intending to use it for an intarsia-cum-fair isle pullover for my husband, but that never worked out. I started off with the main color but had a fear that I might run out of  yarn, so added a few stripes of a contrast color. It turned out to be a wise decision because I did run out of yarn and I had to knit the sleeves in contrast color.

The pattern is well written and is sized from 0-3 to 24 months. It is ideal for someone who is a newbie knitter and wants to try simple lace which involves slipped stitches and yarn overs. The back was the most boring part to knit. The front parts keep you engaged with the 4-row mock cable pattern. Sleeves, of course, get done in a jiffy. It helped that I made them in stripes so I looked forward to the next color change.

The cardigan is generously sized – even though I knit this one in 0-3 months size, it should easily fit a 6 months old baby. I think it will look great on a baby girl. It does have a feminine look to it.

Pattern: Frank & Mathilda by Inge Sandholt
Yarn: 100 gms. of main color and ~50 gms of contrast color
Needles: US 2 2.75mm straights
Ravelry Project Page

Wheatspikes Vest

When I saw this vest offered for test knit, I decided to volunteer. Not that I have a girl to knit for, but the vest was too cute. I don’t have many girly colors in my stash and I had been wanting to use Phildar Copacabana which Preeti had sent me sometime back. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to use this yarn and so I did.

The vest is knit bottom up in pieces, but can be easily adapted to knit in round, which is what another test knitter did. The pattern is well written and I, for once, did not find any errors in the pattern. Unambiguous and easy to follow instructions and the pattern comes in sizes from 0-3 months to 24 months. It knits up quickly and is perfect for that last minute gift or to use up a lone skein or two. I used around 1.5 skeins and still have half of it left. Wondering if I can make a couple of coasters with it – I just love the fresh, bright colors of this yarn.

I didn’t make buttonholes on the sides thinking the neck ribbing will be stretchy and can stretch over a kid’s head, but when I tried this on my son, there is hardly any elasticity in the ribbed neckband. It could be the yarn’s characteristic or it could be because I knit on a tight gauge. I did go down a couple of needle sizes than the recommended one to get the required gauge, so it could be that! I need to rip the shoulder seam apart and make some buttonholes now.

This goes into my gift stash waiting for a lovely girl to come and claim it.

 

Pattern: Wheatspikes Baby Vest by Sole Pitencil
Yarn: 1.5 skeins of Phildar Copacabana
Needles: US 5 3.75mm straights
Ravelry Project Page

Mrs. Redjeans

I am very lucky to have a supportive family. Be it my decision to work after having a kid, or taking up a new exercise regimen or my hobby – my family is very supportive. My mother-in-law especially loves the fact that I knit. She does a bit of crochet here and there, but she thinks my knitting skills are really good. She hasn’t seen any projects from other knitters who are far more better than me, so she is blissfully ignorant and I don’t want to correct her. When my biggest admirer requested for a sweater, I just had to do it.

I looked through a lot of patterns and finally decided on Mr GreenJeans by Amy Swenson (ravelry link). I liked the way cables add shaping to the cardigan. I thought this will be flattering on a typical Indian woman (read pear shaped). A very well written pattern, seamless (yay!!!) and is generous on the different sizes. For those with little girls, the same pattern is available for little girls too.

 

I have knit raglan cardigans before for babies, but was not sure how it will look for an older woman. When my mom tried this on, all my doubts vanished – it looked great on my mom. The neck is too deep for my taste, but looks good. I added buttons all the way down to make the cardigan more practical. The only problem I had with this cardigan is the button band. The bands are knit after picking up stitches along the edges of the body and are worked in 2 x 2 rib.  Since this rib is stretchy, it pulled the body stitches along with it and the cardigan looks like it is crunching up its nose and making faces at me. The buttons try to keep the ribbing in place, but it doesn’t help the look.

Yarn is from Surya Emporium, Commercial Street. It’s a 4-ply Vardhaman acrylic yarn. I held double to get the gauge. The yarn is soft and squishy and has great stitch definition. I had bought this yarn to make a baby blanket and chose this color because it was neutral, yet cheerful. I have been using this yarn over and over again, but it still doesn’t get over. I have another 100 gms of yarn left! Buttons are from Pydal. I think the yellow ones add a bit of variety to the monotonous red color.

The sweater was a Diwali gift to my mother-in-law and she loved it. Mumbai has been especially cold this winter and she is making a good use of her gift.

Pattern: Mr. Greenjeans by Amy Swenson (Rav Link)
Yarn: 4-ply Acrylic in Red bought at Surya Emporium
Needles: US 5 3.5mm. Straights for the body and DPNs for sleeves
Buttons: 4 numbers from Pydal
Ravelry Project Page