Monday, January 18, 2016

Sub-Zero Temperatures - Brioche to the Rescue

Winter has settled in with a vengeance here in the Midwest.  Time to pull out all those accessories worked up in glorious, squishy, double-sided brioche stitches.   I'm particularly loving my scarf adapted from the Brioche Nine-Patch Blanket pattern.   As I was working the first strip of a scrappy version of the blanket, it dawned on me that the super soft baby alpaca I was using was just begging to be a scarf.  So when I got to the end of the first strip of the blanket, I just added on the next block of the second strip.  The resulting scarf is about 8 feet long and 10 inches wide.  So warm and luxurious! 

The stitches that are used in the pattern are:

2-color brioche rib
Cascade stitch
Honeycomb brioche

And here's the pattern worked up as a blanket - using Cascade 220 superwash.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

2016 Special Olympics Scarf Project - Pattern Ideas

I know, I know, I've been a very bad nonexistent blogger.  Sometimes life just gets in the way, and we have to prioritize.  And sometimes it just takes a while to figure out how to get back on the horse, so to speak. 

Nothing like a fantastic knitting effort to inspire me to get back in the game - and the Special Olympic Scarf project is just such an effort.

It's time again to gear up for the Special Olympics Scarf Project 2016.  This link provides the general information about the scarf criteria and the specific information for the participating states.

In general, the scarves should be about 6" wide and somewhere between 54 to 60" wide (including fringe!).  And other winter accessories, such as headbands, hats, and mittens are welcomed by many states.

Many of my complimentary scarf patterns, which were designed for the Indianapolis Super Scarves Project would be perfect for these two color Special Olympic scarves. These patterns were all designed for the beginning knitter, or someone who just wants a fun, easy knit.  All the patterns are available for download on the right hand side of the blog.

Fluted Rib Scarf

Faux Mitered Squares Scarf

Zig to Zag Scarf

Football Mosaic Scarf

Dash to the Finish Scarf

Block and Tackle

Blitz Scarf

Special Play

Nothing would make me happier than to see a few of these patterns worked up into 2016 Special Olympic Scarves.  I know I'll be working up a couple for Indiana.  Our color scheme is cherry red and white, which will really pop.   

Don't have time to knit a scarf?  How about working up a version of the Quick Cross Head Band in two colors.  Work up to the cable cross in one color and then switch to the second color.  Or work a band of the second color for a few rows before and after the cable cross.  This headband can be worked in less than two hours. 

Happy knitting for a great cause!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

"Lace One-Skein Wonders"

Well, it was a long time in the making, but I am so happy to announce that one of my designs, "Lake Effect" has been published in the just released book "Lace One-Skein Wonders - 101 Projects Celebrating the Possibilities of Lace" by Storey Publishing. 

 Yep, right there on page 148.  

If you get the chance, check this book out.  It's chock full of amazing projects, just perfect for that one skein of very special yarn.

Photo Credits - Copyright Geneve Hoffmann, from Lace One-Skein Wonders, used with permission from Storey Publishing

The Lake Effect Scarf pattern is still available for free over on the right hand side of the blog, in the complementary patterns section. I've updated the pattern to include instructions for adding beads, and there is a video available as well on the Brioche Tutorials tab.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Bump and Run - New Complimentary Mosaic Scarf Pattern

Easy, quick, unisex - the Bump and Run Scarf Pattern is a great first knitting project, or relaxing project for more experienced knitters.  Choose two colors (solids, tonals, or go wild with a variegated or two) and jump in.

You can make a 6' long scarf using about 220 yards of ecah color.  You'll need a little more yarn if you want to add fringe.

 Hope you give it a try.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

New Video - Long Tail Cast On Tips

 I love learning and using different cast ons, but the long tail cast on more times than not is my go-to standard.  I know most of you are probably old pros at the long tail cast on.  But when I teach new or returning knitters, and I suggest this cast on, I often see scrunched up faces and deer in the headlight looks.  Comments like these are not uncommon:
  • I tried it and I hate it cause it's too hard, or
  • I couldn't understand the directions in the book, or
  • I know one cast on (usually the backward loop method, which while it does have its uses, is really not a great cast on for new or nervous knitters, but I digress) and that's all I need.
So I developed a method of teaching the long tail cast on that is a little bit fun, and maybe a little bit easier to remember.   The devil is in the hand hold and the stitch tensioning so I try to focus on those two issues in a video (posted on the Plain Ole Knitting Tips Page - see tab at top of page).

 Another thing that I hear a lot or see in the forums, is that the best way to make sure your long tail cast on is loose and stretchy is to cast on over 2 needles.  My own Mom taught me to cast on this way, although I'm not sure she knew why she was doing it, only that it was the way she was taught.   In my experience, casting on over 2 needles just causes the stitches in the first row of your work to be bigger that the stitches on the next row.  While it may be easier to work that first row, it will generally end up being a bit sloppy, and not stretchy.

The secret to a stretchy long tail cast on, is to leave a space between your stitches when you cast them on.  I use the tip of my index finger on my right hand to measure the space so that the stitches end up as even as possible.  Tip number 2 is to make sure that the newly cast on stitch isn't strangling the needle, it should be able to slide on the needle easily.  Think of it as a hug, not a death grip.

I hope the video helps illustrate these points.  I love learning and using different cast ons, but the long tail cast on more times than not is my go-to standard. 

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Built-In I-Cord - Perfect Edges Everytime

I spend way too much time on the Ravelry forums.  I know I do.  I justify this time sink by telling myself (and Mr. Verdigris Knits) that I am doing "market research."   Through such research, I've determined that one area where knitters are often challenged is creating scarves with nicely finished edges. 

Daily, there is at least one thread about the effects of slipping edge stitches.  The degree in variation of opinions and directions about just this one tiny aspect of knitting is overwhelming.  Too bad, I'm going to put yet another variation out there.

The built-in I-cord edge. 

To me, this is just about perfection on a scarf edge, or any exposed edge for that matter.  And the results are perfect every time.  No need to worry about loose stitches, or the edges being too tight.  It simply works, and it looks like a couture finish.  And that little column of stitches makes the perfect hiding place for yarn tails.  Your tails will never be exposed again. 

Here's the I-cord edge worked on the Stripe it Rich Scarf - a new design that will be published in the near future.  If your project involves color changes every 2 or 4 rows, I-cord edges can completely hide yarn carried up one side of the scarf.  Completely.  Isn't that wonderful.  I won't make another 2-color slip stitch scarf without this edge treatment, EVER. 

And its as easy as adding 3 stitches to each edge of the scarf pattern and work as follows:  Knit the first 3 stitches of every row and slip the last 3 stitches of every row purlwise with yarn in front.  That's it.  Amazingly simple and beautiful. 

If you are changing colors every other row (as is typical for many slipped stitch patterns) just make sure the new color is picked up from underneath the old color and the yarns will be carried up practically invisibly. 

I've posted a video of the technique on the knitting videos tab.  I hope you give it a try and let me know how you've used it.

What if you want a solid color I-cord edge on your 2-color scarf?  I'll cover that in the next post. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Chicken and Waffles Cowl - New Pattern

Since November, I've been working up a cowl pattern based on the Gap's wildly popular two-toned waffle cowlneck.  By reverse engineering from the photos, I was able to recreate the stitch pattern, which not surprisingly, is a variation of a tuck stitch that in turn is a variation on brioche.  I say not surprisingly because a commercially available cowl is going to be made by machine, and many decorative machine knit stitches involve tuck stitches. 
My initial swatches  were ok, but I didn't really love the resulting fabrics; things were a bit droopy after blocking. I was disappointed. Then, I had the chance to inspect the actual cowl and I didn't feel quite so bad.  You see, the actual cowl is worked up flat and seamed. The materials are definitely acrylic because the fabric has been steam blocked and actually pressed beyond an inch of its life.  There is absolutely no "sprong" left to the rib stitch pattern - none, nada, zip.  The knit "waffles" are flat as pancakes.  The irony that  this is called a waffle cowl does not escape me.

Turns out the commercially available version is as flat and lifeless as my swatch.  So I set about developing my own variation  rather than just duplicate the commercially available one.  And the result is the Chicken and Waffles Cowl.

So named because side one has the waffle look, and side two has the look of bird feet (at least to me).  My version is worked up in the round (no seaming) using a bulky weight and a worsted weight yarn in contrasting colors.  I used one skein of Patons Classic Wool Roving (and I used just about the whole skein) in Dark Grey as the main color, and less than one skein of Patons Classic Wool (worsted weight) in Lemongrass for the contrast color.  The finished dimensions are about 15" high and 40" around, blocked lightly.

Side 1

Side 2

The Chicken and Waffles Cowl pattern  is available for immediate pdf download for $3 US.  I hope you give it a try, and let me know how you like it.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Wishing All A Restful Holiday

Can you spot the beagle?

My parents brought their little dog to visit us and our house full of people in the throws of holiday preparation.  Within a few hours she had disappeared.  We all stopped everything to search for her, fearing that she had somehow managed to sneak out of the house.  Finally, she was spotted in a nest made in the middle of my yarn stash - I could so totally relate!
I am sure many of you, like me, are in the throws of last minute holiday creativity - be it knitting, crocheting, sewing, decorating, or food preparation - these last few days can be full of stress.  Here's a gentle reminder to take a moment and find some quiet space if you need to just catch your breath.

Wishing all a joyous and restful holiday season and thanking you for all the support this past year.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Riveted Cowl - What to do with 1 Skein Malabrigo Rasta

Malabrigo Rasta is my kryptonite.   The amazing colors, the super bulky roving construction, the luxurious softness....I don't know what attracts me most, but like a moth to a flame I am usually powerless to resist purchasing a skein when I visit any LYS. 

But there's the rub.  One skein of Rasta contains about 90 yards.  And due to the lovey variation in the colorways (which is one of the main attractions), I haven't had much luck in combining skeins in a project.  Plus, did I mention SUPER BULKY?   A bit tricky to work into garments.
But Rasta is perfect for cold weather accessories - like the Riveted Cowl.  The pattern is available for  instand download - Just $2 US

Riveted is a quick, wonderfully textured, and oh so warm cowl that uses just 1 skein of a super bulky yarn, like Malabrigo Rasta.  The cowl is worked flat using a provisional cast on.  The ends are grafted together with a half twist, resulting in a neck-hugging, moebius shape.  
Measurements: approximately 6” (15cm) wide with 28” (71 cm) circumference

1, 150 g skein Malabrigo Rasta (90 yds/82 m).  Example worked in color 863 Zarzamora.
US size 11 (8.0mm) needles, or size to achieve gauge
Yarn needle to graft sts together and weave in ends 

Gauge:  12 sts and 18 rows = 4” (10cm) in pattern stitch     

I hope you consider giving this pattern and this wonderful yarn a try.