Wednesday, January 23, 2013

WIP Wednesday: My Fair Isle Sweater

 Once I got the holidays behind me and all its gift knitting, I couldn't wait to get back to work on my Bauhaus Fair Isle sweater, designed by Mary Jane Mucklestone. You'll remember that I previously blogged about it here and here.

I had to leave the project somewhere in the middle of the upper body where I had discovered my mistake in misaligning the color pattern when setting up the sleeves and V-neck. Thanks to the subtleness of the colors, you can't really see it here. However, if I were to run into Mary Jane while wearing it she might say, "Oh, dear, you stacked your lozenges right on top of one another!" And she wouldn't be talking about sore throat medicine, either. 

I won't go into detail about that, but you can see another of my mistakes in this picture--that bright whitish line just above the hem ribbing. That was me trying to use what yarn I had instead of sticking to the yarn suggestions. After getting way up from it and seeing the problem, I just could not rip. I decided that this was a learning piece and did not need to be perfect.  I found some of the correct yarn (Dale Heilo) and things went much better from there...until the lozenge misalignment, that is.  After a little holiday hiatus, I accepted the mistake and decided to keep going. 

The picture at top shows a little pooch in the middle front of the upper body. That's the V-neck steek! I was a little skeptical about this until I worked it for myself. Folks, it's like a little miracle. By working the steek where the V-neck goes and decreasing just as you normally would for a V-neck, once you reinforce the middle of the steek with single crochet (this is optional, but I wanted to be safe)...
 Warning: Avert your eyes or scroll past the next picture if you are squeamish!
Then you can cut it!

And ta-da! You have a V-neck!

Then you set up the armhole steeks the same way and cut them the same way...

...right up the middle of those two rows of single crochet.

Then the body will be ready, with armholes and neck holes and everything, just like it should.

You graft the shoulder seams together with Kitchener...

...and then work the collar. 

I chose to work the collar before the sleeves. Things seem all secure for the most part, but I wanted to get this out of the way. I can happily tell you that I have started the first sleeve and it's going well. I'll be back next week, I hope, to show you at least one sleeve completed. Who knows? If I get lucky maybe I'll have two!

See you soon!

Friday, January 18, 2013


You all know that I have been trying to learn Fair Isle for a little while now. Well, back when it was still so freshy-new to me, I put together a little hat design for Ravenwood Cashmere and this week it went live on my Mirth site!

It's called the Grethryn Hat and it's a super easy Fair Isle beanie. Since it only uses two colors and has such a simple pattern, it's a perfect beginner project for new Fair Islers.

This is one of my very favorite hats because it is so lightweight that I almost forget it's on my head, but is very warm because of the cashmere. Did you know that cashmere is 30% lighter than wool, yet eight times warmer than wool? It's true. Clara says.

Grethryn was also fun to knit up in two of the natural cashmere colors that Ravenwood offers. You might think that a soft, smooth yarn would not be good for two-color knitting, but sometimes it works. As you can see by comparing the two hats above, when fresh off the needles (as in the reverse sample on the left) it can be a little crinkly. Once you block the hat, however (as in the larger sample on the right) things settle out nicely. This picture also illustrates that the pattern includes sizes from newborn all the way up to adult large. It also includes measurements for a deep hat, like I choose to wear (completely covering the ear), and a slightly less deep hat, which comes mid-ear.

If you are new to two-color knitting or even if you've never tried, you will love the Grethryn Hat project. The colorwork is only on the sides of the hat, keeping it away from the shaping at the crown. This keeps things beginner friendly. 
As with all our collaborative patterns with Ravenwood Cashmere, you may either buy the kit* from Ravenwood, which includes yarn and pattern, or simply buy the PDF download from Mirth.

Happy Hat Knitting and Toasty Noggins to You! 

*ETA: Ravenwood is no longer selling the kits, but you can still buy yarn from them here.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Velutina Scarf

Here's one of our newest Mirth patterns, the Velutina Scarf!

This design came about because Delia at Ravenwood Cashmere requested a nice men's scarf and she wanted to give one to her husband Reed for Christmas. I had already fallen in deep, deep love for a rib pattern that wound about in a seemingly random manner and an accompanying rib cable. I put the two together in a design submission to Interweave Knits for a men's vest a couple of years ago, but they didn't need it, so it sat waiting for another opportunity to be useful. I had an inkling its time had come when I decided to see how it would look when knit up in this fluffy cashmere. 

It worked! 
Here is another sample I have going in the same 3-ply fingering weight Ravenwood Cashmere. Keep in mind that it isn't blocked, as in Betsy's sample in the top picture, and so it looks a little more squinched. 

And here is the reverse side. 
Because the stitch pattern is made from twisted rib, it looks pretty cool on the back as well. 

reverse side gets its extreme closeup shot

I connived this stitch pattern out of the existing ones by randomly plopping down cables here and there, and the more I worked with it, the more I saw tree bark. When it came to thinking up a name, I researched images of all kinds of tree bark and narrowed it down to oak. From there, I decided that it looked most like the bark of the Black Oak tree, the scientific name being Quercus Velutina, and I had my scarf's name.

The pattern is charted and written out and is actually a fun knit. I think it looks its best in this Ravenwood Cashmere, and if you do, too, you can order a kit with yarn and pattern from them. If you'd like to try it in another yarn, you can buy it straight from us!

We hope you'll try the Velutina Scarf!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Constructing Ingelill

 I recently finished a couple of Ingelills for Grandtwins Malcolm and Lucy and I thought I would show you a couple of shots of finishing tips.

This time I used some non-pill microfleece in a medium grey that I got on sale at Hancock Fabrics. Folks, this was my favorite lining yet (except for the bunny felt, and I can't use that for every hat, wish as I may). It stitched up so neatly and perfectly. I know it will be hard-wearing and warm and that's great for kids.

I also stopped long enough in the process to show how I pick up stitches along the side of the band for the earflaps. First, I count the required number of stitches to the left of the center back for working the left ear flap, as stated in the pattern. Then I pick up the stitches and work the flap. Then when it is time for the right ear flap, I hold the two sides together and pick up the corresponding flap at the same place as the other, using  the cable on the band as my guide. Let's get a closer view of how to pick up these stitches.

Usually when picking up stitches along the side of knitted fabric, you do not pick up a stitch from the side of every row. Knitted fabric is usually wider than it is tall, so you will skip stitches at a certain rate. Since this is a sport weight*, I pick up three stitches out of every four. In the picture you can see more clearly that there are three stitches picked up, and then the fourth is skipped, and then you repeat for as many stitches as needed on the needle. The gaps will disappear as you work the stitch pattern. Also notice that I have picked up the stitches consistently by making sure to keep the pickups along the same line of stitches at the side of the fabric, making a clear, straight line for the new stitches to be created. This is easy when there are at least two knit stitches at the edges of the band--one for picking the stitches through and one for remaining intact and forming an edge. 

Other tips common to both this hat and the Ingefred Hat appear in this post.

* For fingering, DK or light worsted, you would use the same pickup rate. For Aran and bulky, you would need to pick up two stitches for every three.

I hope Mal and Lu like their new hats!
Made with Cascade 220 Sport in Mystic Purple and Turtle.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Let's Get Organized!

Hello Friends! Happy 2013!
Sorry to be away, but I've been mostly offline for most of this first week of the new year. Some of it was self-imposed and some could not be helped. Either way, I'm glad to be back. Let's tackle the first major project of the year: Getting all my supplies in order so this year can be more productive!
Like WEBS is doing over on their blog, I want to spend at least part of this month rearranging my knitting and crochet supplies. 

I actually started the last week of 2012 pulling out all my yarn to organize it differently. I used to store it according to yarn company, but this year I want to try storing it according to weight. Hey, anything to give me more knitting and crocheting time, right? Here's what I found.

I could use more in this category. It's the tiniest group, and some of this is going to be used pretty soon. It's time for some spring/summer lacy shawls, scarves, and stoles!

I need to stop adding to this one--I'll never be able to knit or crochet this all up! But it's so fun to collect, isn't it?

Once I got this one grouped, I noticed that with the exception of the Dale Heilo and the one skein of Brown Sheep, these were all farm yarns and hand-dyed. Interesting. One of my Instagram contacts says it's because the big yarn companies don't offer as much sport weight. Do you find this to be true, too?

This where we begin to see more sweater amounts--multiples instead of onesies. There is also more cotton in this category for some reason.

I was happily able to store all four of these yarn categories in the sweater hangers in one of my studio closets. And look, there's room to spare! Not going to fill those empty spaces, though. Nope.

By far my biggest stash section, I had to flash it in my closet cubbies--no way I could lay it all out for one group shot like the others. The bins you see in the lower left corner are filled with one-skein wonders--one for cotton, one for various wools and wool blends, and one for Cascade 220 alone. The basket and the green bag middle left are filled with all the yarn needed for two sweater projects I've been trying to get to for years--one will be a slipped-stitch cardigan and the other a pretty stripey one. One day!

I love working with bulky because it's so squishy and fast, but it is one of the most underused weights in my stash. I love the aforementioned qualities, but prefer the fabric created by lighter-weight yarns for most things. I do, however, have a cable blanket going in bulky--it has its uses.

There ya go! And in all the yarn handling, I even found my little stash of novelty yarn.
I hardly ever use these, but they are fun to have. Who knows when I might need something blingy, hairy, or suedey?

Of course, in digging out my yarn, I also had to face the over three dozen WIP's hanging around. I pulled them all out and reassessed them and placed most of them carefully around the onesie bins. Maybe that'll keep me from rummaging through the bins for more yarn for (what?) more WIP's. You know as well as I do how we "just have to make that cute little hat." No. Finish what you started.

And now that I'm more organized, I have the full steam to do just that!