Friday, December 16, 2011

One from the back catalogue: Santa Hat pattern

A free pattern for a Santa hat... (with US needle size conversion fixed). Neither of the yarns are available anymore, but you at this time of year you can easily find nice quick-knit yarns in the bulky section.  Lion Brand Wool Ease "Thick & Quick" would fit the bill very nicely and inexpensively.

The fur yarn used for the pattern was a good stable bulky yarn with extra fuzziness that made a good fabric on its own.  If you can't find something similar, use a nice chunky weight smooth white wool held together with a fuzzy/furry/eyelashy sort of thing.  Lion Brand's Festive Fur would work brilliantly.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Estonian Mitts

Our friend I. is Estonian... her parents came to Canada from Estonia in the 1950s, and although she was born and bred in Canada, I. is in many ways a true Estonian.

She and her partner made a trip to Estonia this summer, to tour the homeland together.

Naturally, as knitter, I asked them to bring me something back - something knitted.  I told them I didn't care what it was, or how much it cost, as long as it was handknit and local in origin.

Check out the thumb - the colorwork lines up perfectly.
And boy did they come through: they brought me back this tremendous pair of Estonian mitts.  They are the classic shape and style, with fabulous colorwork.  Although neither I. or her partner E. are knitters, they managed to ask a few key questions to get some info for me about the mitts they'd chosen.  They were definitely hand-knit (by someone's grandmother, naturally!), and the stitch pattern is apparently regional, associated with Tallinn, the city in which they were bought.

They bought the mitts at the city's Knit Market - known as the 'sweater wall'.  Fab picture here, on Flickr.

Let me say that again: In Tallinn, Estonia, there is a market area that specializes in hand knits. More info and droolworthy pictures here. Many of the vendors are locals, selling their own work and work of other locals.

The work of Ms. Viira.
In addition, they came upon and fell in love with the store NAiiV, run by the very talented knitwear designer Liina Viira.  Ms. Viira is of Estonian background, but was born and raised in Stockholm.  Her work combines both Scandinavian and Estonian techniques and patterns, but with a modern spin.  Beautiful, beautiful stuff.

Next time I'm going to give them a blank cheque and a empty suitcase so that they can bring me everything back.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

More Streetcar Knitting

As a follow-up to the article about me knitting on the streetcar, the Toronto Star has created this really great video...

Some great Toronto scenery, lots of gratuitous sock shots, and a bunch of knitting.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Karen's First Sweater

Image courtesy Karen Kwinter/Canadian Living
Over the late summer and early fall, I helped out the lovely Karen with a project.

We were introduced at the Purple Purl, and the girls there told me that Karen needed to knit a sweater.  We've all been there - we find a sweater pattern we just plain NEED to knit.

Karen's situation was a little different, however.  She's a very stylish style editor at Canadian Living, had been inspired by the amazing knitwear in the fall and winter lines of her favourite fashion designers, and she decided that she wanted to make herself a sweater. The thing was that she was a novice knitter, and she was working to a deadline.

Karen is a woman possessed of excellent focus and perseverance, and in less than 7 weeks from our first meeting, she had a most excellent alpaca sweater that looks great and fits her beautifully.  She blogs about the process here.

I'm incredibly proud of her.  Check out the pictures in the January issue of Canadian Living.

Monday, November 28, 2011

It's True, I Need No Excuse

Photo courtesy The Toronto Star/Matthew Sherwood.
Piece in The Toronto Star today about knitting socks in public.

Excellent quote given by my friends Mary Margaret, Jane and Robbie.

(I was working on the Tuffy socks, in case you're wondering.)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Procedural: Perfect Knitting Television

two separate
yet equally important
Like many serious knitters, I am an inveterate consumer of television.

(It's not just TV, for the record... am also a huge fan of intelligent radio documentaries, plays and readings.  BBC Radio 4 I'm looking at you.)

I joke sometimes that I'm not sure if I knit so that I can watch TV, or watch TV so that I can knit.

And my favourite kind of knitting TV is the procedural: the various Law & Orders, the CSIs and their ilk.  You name it: Homicide, Castle, Criminal Minds, Bones, The Mentalist, Spooks (MI-5), the original Prime Suspect, Cracker, The Wire in the Blood, and so on. The TV shows that feature detectives solving a crime.  (Any good recommendations?  Leave 'em in the comments!)

Hey, if someone dies before the opening credits, I'll watch it.

It doesn't have to be a murder - I enjoyed Law & Order: Criminal Intent during its run, and sometimes those stories were about fraud and robbery - but it most often is.

I find this kind of TV both engaging and satisfying - there's a puzzle, and there's a conclusion.  (Not to say I don't like TV without a conclusion; am currently totally obsessed with Fringe. Although on the surface it's also a procedural, there is a larger story arc that's fabulously complex and open-ended.)

And it's also very easy to watch while paying attention to something else. The point about the procedural is that they follow a procedure. The solving of the mystery follows a procedure; a set of rules the cops much (roughly) follow. The drama itself also follows a procedure. The procedural shows follow the same structure: a crime is committed, detectives are called. Evidence is collected. Suspects are interviewed. Someone is arrested. This person is proven to be innocent and released.  Evidence is reviewed. The right person is arrested. And then the cops go out for breakfast/coffee/beer.

This repetitive aspect is what makes them so very satisfying - but also very easy to watch while knitting.

If I miss a few key lines of dialogue because I'm counting stitches, I'm not going to get lost. If I need to leave the room to get a new ball of yarn, I know that the suspect they have in interrogation in the first 20 minutes is not guilty. If there's a particularly grisly crime scene (Criminal Minds, The Wire in the Blood) or autopsy (CSI), I've got something to distract myself with.

I can happily watch my "murders" all afternoon, knitting away. When I've got a knitting deadline, my TV supplier Norman knows he needs to ensure that I've got a bunch of DVDs or episodes stacked up on the DVR. It doesn't really matter if they are old or new, if they are set in the present day or the past, if it's a serial murder or a story about insurance fraud; if it's got a crime and detectives, I'll watch it.

Sure, if the detective is charming, funny and handsome (Castle), or the social analysis particularly intelligent and thought-provoking (Homicide), or the setting fabulously interesting (Wallander), even better.  But honestly, all I need is a crime and some cops.

The funny thing is that I've tried watching some of these without knitting in hand, and it's not nearly as much fun. The shows dealing with the more grisly or nasty crimes are difficult to watch and discomfiting. The lighter shows are often uninteresting or silly. The dated look or style of some of the older shows grates.

And I do enjoy other types of TV (Fringe, as mentioned above); and costume dramas like Downton Abbey, and of course, the single most engaging and intelligent piece of television ever made, The Wire.  And there's movies on DVD, too, of course.  (And I have pretty good access to those...)

But I watch at lot less of the "good stuff": the movies and high quality, intellectually challenging and visually engaging television.  Why? Because if I do miss a few key lines of dialogue, I could be in serious trouble.  And the engaging visuals demand to be looked at.  And foreign films require me to read the subtitles.

So it's not just that the procedural is good knitting television: I'd go so far as to say that knitting is really the best way to consume these shows, and these are really the best things to knit to.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Noro Kureyon 242: How I Love Thee

I know you know I love Noro.

And in particular, I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE this colourway, #242. It's got all my favourite colours in it: black, red, orange, green and a smattering of grey. There isn't a colour in it I don't like. Everything I make with it matches everything in my wardrobe, because these are the colours I wear. And it looks great with denim.

Just perfect.

I have so far made a Lanesplitter and a hat from the Lanesplitter leftovers; I've also made a crochet shawl in the Sock version of the yarn. Up next: fingerless mitts, and I'm hoping I can find the time to knit myself an Undercurrent cardi in the same colourway. How excellent would that look? (Not worn together, though... that's a little crazy even for me.)

The sad part is that the Kureyon Sock has been discontinued, so I've had to do some bartering for the yarn required for the fingerless mitts.... I made a trade for a different sock yarn...

 I'm also thinking I need to find another ball of the Sock so I can make an actual pair of socks with it. Anyone have another ball of it hiding in their stash?

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tuffy Socks: Free Pattern

I'm often asked, usually at this time of year, for a recommendation for a thick sock yarn.

There seem to be two common motivators: knitters are seeking a yarn that will make warm boot socks for the encroaching winter. And they are also seeking a yarn that will knit up quickly, for gift knitting.

My favouritest thick sock yarn is Briggs & Little Tuffy.  Briggs & Little, based in New Brunswick, is the oldest continuously operated wool mill in Canada.  Operating for over 150 years, they produce classic wool yarns and blankets woven from their wool.

Now, here's the thing about Tuffy: It's hard-wearing yarn spun tight and blended with nylon for long-lasting socks.  It's machine washable, and very easy-care.  And it comes in a wide range of classic colours. But soft it is not.  It's woolly.  Boot-sock woolly.

Also in its favour is the unbelievably low price: $5.99CDN for a skein, purchasable online from Ram Wools in Winnipeg.  1 skein will make a pair of women's medium socks; anything larger requires two skeins.  Still a bargain. And they will last you a lifetime, I guarantee it.

I'd heard rumours about the wonderfulness of this yarn, but was having trouble finding it in Toronto.  A couple of years ago a student found me a couple of skeins at Spun Fibre Arts in Burlington. I was easily able to get two pairs out of those two skeins, and wore them to death in my boots last winter. My feet were warm, well-protected and comfy.

Prompted by a student in a recent sock class, I've written up my pattern and made it available for free.  Download now, from Ravelry.  Naturally, there are multiple sizes: Women's S, M, L, covering US shoe sizes 5 to 10, and Men's S and L, covering US shoe sizes 6 to 12.

So whether you're in a rush to finish up a holiday gift, or just need a pair of socks for the oncoming snow, your needs are taken care of.

I do regularly rave about the yarn, and another student of mine was recently visiting family in New Brunswick, and she brought me three skeins back! These are screaming out to be made into a pair of striped socks, don't you think?

Socks Sized for Men: Basic Ribbed Sock with full range of sizes

I've gone on and on about this topic - sock patterns with multiple sizes.

I've had several knitters leaving comments on my blog looking for the multi-size version of my Basic Ribbed Sock.

The original pattern was published in a single size, but I resized it to include sizes for a full range of men's and women's sizes.

The multi-size pattern is available for download from Ravelry, here.  This link should work if you're not a Ravelry member.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Intrepid Knitter of the Week

I've been teaching my War & Peace socks class a fair bit recently. 

I love this class, as it's a great way for experienced sock knitters to test their skills, expand their knowledge and learn a new party trick. And it's an excellent way for me to meet intrepid sock knitters.  

On a recent weekend, an extra intrepid student made a long drive across southern Ontario to attend the class.  And she rocked it.

In the class we work my training sock - 24 sts in worsted weight yarn on 4.5mm needles.  Small enough that you can make decent progress in the class, and thick yarn so you can see what you're doing...

And this student, lovely Danielle, really got into it.  

After the class, she headed off to the curling rink to watch her boyfriend curl, and knitted....

Two socks, hiding:

Two socks, revealed:

Go Danielle!  She gets my Intrepid Knitter of the Week badge.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Resisting no more

Although I had a passing knowledge of spinning, I'd never formally taken the plunge into actually buying a spindle and fibre and creating my own yarn.

The idea that I would take time away from knitting to increase the size of my stash was a bit scary.

But I knew that I needed to tackle this, to expand my skills and knowledge of yarn.

So at Rhinebeck, I finally did it.  I spun! Read all about it on the Knittyblog...

Monday, October 31, 2011

Classes at Shall We Knit this coming weekend

This weekend I'm off to visit the lovely ladies of Shall We Knit, in their new location in Waterloo.

There are four classes on the calendar:

  • Continental Knitting - ideal for knitters of all levels, speed up your knitting and help ensure you don't injure yourself.  See Kate demonstrate the magical Norwegian purl!
  • Introduction to Lace - ideal for knitters with a little experience, I teach you to work lace stitches, I talk about how lace works, provide some tips for choosing easy lace patterns, and make sure you can read both written and charted lace patterns.  We'll get you started on your first lace project!
  • Lizard Ridge (the single most beautiful blanket project in the entire world; ok, I'm a huge Noro fanatic and I may be biased, but you gotta agree it's pretty spectacular)


  • War & Peace: 2 Socks in One  - for sock knitters with experience and a well-developed sense of adventure... two socks, one inside the other... 

There are a few spaces available in all the classes - call or visit the shop to register.

Monday, October 24, 2011

What I did last week: Rhinebeck!

Every year at this time, I used to read all the blogged recaps of the Rhinebeck wool festival with great envy.  It seemed like such an excellent way to spend an autumn weekend, and somehow, I never seemed to manage to go.

This year, I got organized and I actually went.

Holy sheep! What a weekend!

Pics and a recap on the Knittyblog.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Something for Mum to show off?....

Although popular, knitting is still, ultimately, a "fringe" activity.  Not everyone does it (although we're trying), and (despite our best efforts), it's not something that's mentioned everyday in popular broad-distribution media.

Sometimes I worry about my poor Mum, who for so many years has had to attempt to explain to her friends what it is I do for a living.  For a long time, it was obscure jobs within the tech industry, varying from things as exciting and commonplace as SGML editing software, to Document Management, to media streaming services.  (My brother Tony is a science teacher - that's much easier to explain to your friends.)

And then I chucked all that tech industry nonsense to knit for a living.  Although everyone knows what knitting is, unless you're an active crafter, chances are you won't come across evidence of my work.  And so there's poor Mum, stuck at the coffee shop, still trying to explain what it is I do.

But now, we have the answer: the November issue of Canadian Living magazine. Canadian Living is ubiquitous.  It's a terrific magazine, and it's been around for a long time.  Everyone has a copy somewhere in their house - often a back issue with one of their terrific recipes marked.  (I still regularly make a mushroom barley soup they published in their pages in the early 1990s.)

It's got food, lifestyle, style and craft features. And they publish knitting patterns.

And this month, it's my pattern!

I'm thrilled to appear within the pages, with a lace scarf design. It's intended to be an introduction to lace knitting for knitters of all levels - all you need to know how to do is cast on, cast off, and knit and purl.  My tutorial takes care of the rest.

And Mum can show it off to her heart's content!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

"Beyond Knit and Purl"

I'm very proud to announce that my book!!!!! is available for pre-order now...

"Beyond Knit and Purl" is designed to be the book that takes you from being confident about your needles to being confident about patterns.

I've been teaching knitting for nearly 10 years, and it's pretty clear to me that there's been a massive hole in the knitting literature and instruction... we teach you how to hold your yarn and needles, we show you how to knit and purl, and then we send you into a yarn shop and expect you to be able to choose a pattern and yarn and then successfully knit it.

My book is designed to help knitters grow from being confident with their needles to being confident with patterns. In it, key questions are answered, e.g.: "What's ease", "What does it mean when it says to decrease evenly across?", "What skills do I need to knit socks?", and "What's the big deal about not twisting the round?"

The first third of the book is all about working with and from patterns - how to choose a good pattern, how to know if a pattern is going to be easy or difficult.  How to choose the appropriate yarn and why and how to swatch (and when not to... ).  How to choose what size to knit. And I explain all that strange language you see in patterns... like "work even" and "every foll alt"; I teach you how to read charts.  I clearly explain what skills are needed for different types of projects and what the appropriate next steps are for newer knitters.

The rest of the book is all about specific techniques... Increasing & Decreasing, Working in the Round, Socks, Cables, Lace and Colorwork. Each chapter explains they key facts, stitches and techniques with lots of helpful photos and diagrams, and then provides four projects for knitters to practice.  There's a quick-hit mini project, one or two evening's worth of work, a great way to try out some skills and gain confidence, and then there are three other skill-builder projects, lots of quick and easy knits like hats and mitts and scarves and shawls.  Even a top-down one piece baby sweater, to learn all about this important and popular sweater knitting method.

Visit the Cooperative Press website for more info and to pre-order.

I'll be at Rhinebeck with the book, showing off some of the projects.  Come by to say hello!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Mittens for Very Cold Hands

I have a problem.  It's called Raynaud's phenomenon. When I experience cold weather, (or a rapid change in temperature), the blood vessels in my fingers contract and blood supply is decreased.  It's not dangerous, but it is unpleasant, and I therefore try very hard not to get my hands cold. (It's true for my toes, too, but the problem is generally easier to solve with 2 pairs of socks.) Combine this with naturally low blood pressure and not great circulation, and it's a recipe for needing mittens in October.

This means that I need a fairly extensive collection of warm hand-wear. It's October now, and I'm already wearing fingerless mitt to walk the dog in the morning  

Another couple of weeks, and it will be full-on Fair Isle mittens for the morning walks.  Stranded Fair Isle makes lovely warm mittens because the strands provide a lining that keeps the wind out, and keeps the warmth in.My Morse Code mittens are my latest Fair Isle mitten design.

Come the middle of November, the Fair Isle mittens will start to fail me.

At this point, I usually give up with the hand-knit mitts entirely, and switch over to my Everest-rated Expedition mittens from Mountain Equipment Co-op.  Come January, I'm wearing those with an additional layer underneath.  

As a knitter, I also feel slightly sad when I have to break out the store-bought mittens.  Surely I should be able to make something myself. Surely I should be able to keep myself warm with wool?

This year, I'm trying something new.

I'm making stranded Fair Isle mittens to be felted! So they're wool, stranded, and they will be felted. The felting will make them thicker, denser, more windproof. With any luck, these will keep me going until December...

The design is a very very loose interpretation of the Felted Fusion Mittens from Green Elf Designs, using Briggs & Little Heritage yarn.

Unfelted, they are comically large.  Being a household with only a front-loading washing machine, 'll be hitting up my friend with the top-loader again this weekend.

And there are rather a lot of ends to weave in.  It's a good thing I'm teaching a Finishing class tonight... I always need a good demo for weaving in ends...

Friday, September 30, 2011

The Barbie Surprise Jacket, in action

Barbie helps Wilma lay out the squares for her Noro blanket....

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

KAL: The Slipper Suite

I've had a great response to my Slipper Suite pattern from the July 2011 issue of Creative Knitting magazine.

I'm very excited to announce that the lovely people at Creative Knitting have started a KAL for the patttern on Ravelry.  Join us in the group.

If you don't have the magazine, you can get a digital copy here.

I'm actually working on a pair of these slippers myself, with leftovers from Project Black Sock... I got the first one done in the spring, and have been suffering from a fairly bad case of second slipper syndrome...

(On a different note, my friend Franklin is entirely correct - it's really tough to take a good photo of your own foot, isn't it?)

And so I will be knitting along.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

October & November Teaching Schedule

Wow!  A busy schedule.  I'm really excited about all my teaching engagements this fall.

I've got my regular teaching schedules at Lettuce Knit and The Purple Purl in Toronto.  All sorts of  fab classes - socks, both top-down and toe-up, the Baby (Barbie/Frankenstein) Surprise Jacket, Fixing Mistakes, Finishing, all sorts of things...

In addition, I'm teaching again at the Creativ Festival: Lace Knitting, my War & Peace socks, and my Expert Tips session. Details here.

I'm also teaching again at Shall We Knit at their fab new location in Waterloo. (They have a sock yarn ROOM.  A room for sock yarn. I feel faint just thinking about it.)

And I'm adding a new shop to my list: The Needle Emporium in Ancaster.  Very excited about this one - it's a great shop, and the people who run it are lovely.

Looking forward to meeting lots of new knitters!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sock Summit Feature in Knit Magazine Issue 42

My article about Sock Summit appears in the current issue of Knit Magazine, on the newsstand in the UK and North America.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Barbie Surprise Jacket?

In the near future, I'm teaching a couple of classes on the fun, fascinating and sometimes frustrating Elizabeth Zimmernmann "Baby Surprise Jacket". This pattern is a wonder, and remains incredibly popular. It's fun to knit, and the resulting garment is a clever little piece of knitterly origami that, once folded, becomes a sweater.
Others - including me - have blogged about the project, and there are over 15,000 projects on Ravelry for this pattern. I would be willing to bet that this is one of the most-knit projects in recent history.

 The challenge with it is that in classic EZ style, the pattern instructions as originally given in her newsletter and books were... shall we say... casual and minimal... EZ liked a knitter to think for her- (him-) self, and so wasn't much for row-by-row instructions.

 As such, the pattern can be somewhat intimidating to a newer knitter.

 As is my wont, I've developed a mini version, to allow knitters to work through the construction in a short amount of time, to help them figure it out, and to get all their mistakes out of their system.... It was dubbed by V. as the "Barbie Surprise Jacket".

 I had a few keen knitters test out the instructions for me. One intrepid knitter, the lovely Liz, tested it out for me, and sent me this picture...
So if you've got a desk toy that needs a cardigan, I have just the class for you!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sock Math: A Photo Essay

One skein of Wollmeise Twin weighs 150gm.

And I have small feet.

And one sock weighs 37 gm.

Therefore, one skein of Wollmeise Twin equals four socks.


Friday, September 09, 2011

Free Pattern: Worsted Weight Slouchy Hat

Worsted Weight Slouchy Hat
A simple construction to show off a gorgeous yarn.

Suitable as a first hat project, this is a quick and easy knit.

S: Fits teens and small women - 21 inch circumference and 9 inch length
M: Fits average women and small men - 22.5 inch circumference and 10 inch length
L: Fits average men - 24 inch circumference and 10.5 inch length
The hat should be a little loose - choose a size a little larger than your head size.

1 (2, 2) x 50gm balls Liberty Wool (100% washable wool, 122yds/ball)
-sample uses colour 7897
-substitute 120 (150, 200) yds of any worsted weight yarn (e.g. Galway)
4mm 16 inch/40 cm circular needle
4.5 mm 16 inch/40 cm circular needle
1 set 4.5mm double-pointed needles
a stitch marker

20 sts and 32 rounds = 4 ins by 4 ins/10 cm by 10 cm in stocking stitch
stitch gauge is very important, round gauge less so

M1: I prefer the backwards loop make 1: simply make a backwards loop and put it on the right-hand needle.
S2kpo: Slip 2 stitches together as if to knit. Knit 1, then pass 2 slipped stitches over the stitch just knit. This is a centered double decrease that creates a nice vertical line.

Lower Edge
With 4mm circular needle, cast on 92 (100, 108) sts. Join for working in the round and place a marker for start of round.

Ribbing round: (K1, p1) to end.
Repeat ribbing round until hat measures 2 inches from cast-on edge.
Change to 4.5mm circular needle.
Increase round, size S: (K8, m1, k8, m1, k7, m1) 4 times. 104 sts.
Increase round, size M: (K8, m1, k8, m1, k9, m1) 4 times. 112 sts.
Increase round, size L: (K9, m1) 12 times. 120 sts.

Work even in stocking stitch until hat measures 7.5 (8, 8.5) inches from cast-on edge.

Change to double-pointed needles when hat gets too small to work comfortably on circular needle.

Size L only:
(K6, s2kpo, k6) 8 times around. 104 sts.

Sizes S & L only:
(K5, s2kpo, k5) 8 times around. 88 sts.
(K4, s2kpo, k4) 8 times around. 72 sts.
(K3, s2kpo, k3) 8 times around. 56 sts.
(K2, s2kpo, k2) 8 times around. 40 sts.
(K1, s2kpo, k1) 8 times around. 24 sts.
S2kpo 8 times around. 8 sts.

Size M only:
(K5, s2kpo, k6) 8 times around. 96 sts.
(K4, s2kpo, k5) 8 times around. 80 sts.
(K3, s2kpo, k4) 8 times around. 64 sts.
(K2, s2kpo, k3) 8 times around. 48 sts.
(K1, s2kpo, k2) 8 times around. 32 sts.
(S2kpo, k1) 8 times around. 16 sts.
(S2kpo, k3) twice, s2kpo, k1. 10 sts.

Weave in ends, and wash.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Free Pattern: Nearly Instant Stripy Noro Hitsuji Hat

Just in time for cooler weather, a new hat. I don't need to tell you, my dear readers, how much I love Noro yarns.

The new Hitsuji bulky weight is an absolute hoot - all those amazing Noro colours, and it knits up absurdly quickly. It's ideal for winter accessories.

Less than two hours' knitting, I promise.

Nearly Instant Stripy Hat
Suitable as a first hat project, this is an easy & ridiculously quick knit. Excellent for last minute gift knitting!

S: Fits teens and small women - 21 inch circumference and 8.5 inch length
L: Fits average to large women's heads- 22.5 inch circumference and 9 inch length

1 x 100g ball Noro Hitsuji (100% wool, 100m/ball); sample uses colour 8
6.5mm 16 inch/40 cm circular needle
8 mm 16 inch/40 cm circular needle
1 set 8mm double-pointed needles
a stitch marker

12 sts and 16 rounds = 4 ins by 4 ins/10 cm by 10 cm in stocking stitch using 8mm needles
stitch gauge is important, round gauge less so

Kfb: Knit into the front and back of the stitch. 1 st increased.
K2tog: Knit 2 sts together.

Lower Edge
With 6.5mm circular needle, cast on 38 (42) sts. Join for working in the round and place a marker for start of round.

Ribbing round: (K1, p1) to end. At this point, check to make sure the round is not twisted.

Repeat ribbing round until hat measures 1.5 inch from cast-on edge.
Change to 8mm circular needle.

Increase round, size S: [(K1, kfb) 9 times, k1] twice. 56 sts.
Increase round, size L: (K1, kfb) around. 63 sts.

Body round: Knit.
Work in stocking stitch as set until piece measures 4 (4.5) inches from top of ribbing.

Note: As you decrease, change to double-pointed needles when hat gets too small to work comfortably on the circular needle.

Round 1: (K5, k2tog) around. 48 (54) sts.
Rounds 2, 4, 6, 8, 10: Knit.
Round 3: (K4, k2tog) around. 40 (45) sts.
Round 5: (K3, k2tog) around. 32 (36) sts.
Round 7: (K2, k2tog) around. 24 (27) sts.
Round 9: (K1, k2tog) around. 16 (18) sts.
Round 11: K2tog around. 8(9) sts.

Cut yarn, leaving a 6 inch tail. Pull through rem 8 (9) sts to close.

Weave in ends and handwash. Hat will relax a fair bit when washed, so don't be surprised if it looks a bit small when you're knitting it.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Kitchener-Waterloo Knitter's Fair: Official Start of the Sweater Season

The second Saturday of September is an important day on my calendar... it's the date of the Waterloo County Knitter's Fair, hosted by my friends of the wonderful Kitchener-Waterloo Knitter's Guild.

I've always considered this weekend the official start of the sweater season - the weather is often a little cooler, and everyone is wearing their hand-knit finest. And there's so many wonderful ideas for fall and winter knitting projects on display.

I love this event - over 60 vendors, many of them very small, selling all sorts of fabulous yarn and roving and wonderful knitting goodies. Gemini Fibres and Needle Arts Book Shop are always important stops for me for their fabulous selection of crafting books. And so much great yarn - lots of local sheep and alpaca farms showing their wares. I'm getting excited just thinking about it!

Even more exciting: this year I'm speaking.

My topic is...
The first time doesn’t have to be awful: your first sweater, your first socks, your first shawl & how to make them better.
Learning to knit and learning to knit a garment are completely different things, and yet this is rarely addressed in knitting books or classes. I’ve been teaching knitting for nearly 10 years, and every week I see knitters struggle with the same problem: how to get from knitting and purling to successfully executing patterns. I’ll explain why this evolution is so challenging ,and why the current knitting literature doesn’t help.I’ll talk about how knitters of all levels can avoid the “horrible first attempt” syndrome while improving their skills and taking on new challenges. I’ll share my “training sock” philosophy (and patterns), and I’ll provide a series of tips and techniques for ensuring that your first attempt at any new technique is always fun, easy and successful.
More details in the newsletter.

I hope to see you there! Say hello!

Denise Powell is also making a presentation about using quilting designs as inspiration for knitting. She wrote an article for A Needle Pulling Thread on this topic, and if you're a quilter (or just admire them from afar, as I do), it's very cool stuff.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Long-distance travel: all a girl needs

A travel pillow and a lace knitting project.

Of course, to add to the fun, I decided partway in that I wanted to change the lace pattern, and so I dug out my little graph paper notebook and recharted it.

But I'm not always in the mood for lace, so I've got some sock projects with me, too.

Two plain black socks (Project Black Sock is ongoing, in case you were wondering), and a cabled sock design idea in orange.

I am away for three days, after all. I would hate to run out.

So far, 32 or so hours into the trip, and I'm halfway through one of the black socks. No risk of me running out at this rate...

Friday, August 26, 2011

Fair Isle Fingerless Mitts, Or: Do UFOs get less finished over time?

Earlier this year (I know it was a long time ago because it was cold and snowy), I taught a workshop on designing your own Fair Isle fingerless mitts.

In preparation for the class, I worked up a design for a pair of sampler mitts, as examples. The two are deliberately different, both using a random assortment of classic Fair Isle peerie (small repeat) patterns. And I had some fun mixing up the colours, so that the ribbing is worked in different colours on the two mitts. (Yeah, yeah, I know: I love this sort of thing, even if it drives some of my... er... saner friends and students bonkers.)

I finished the first one before the class, but I never got around to completing the second. It's been sitting at the bottom of my to do list for months... I've been distracted with other work, and given that it requires a chart and three balls of yarn, it's not been a very good portable project.

So it's been gathering dust. I dug it out the other day, as I'm in need of a travel project for an upcoming flight, thinking that it would be perfect.

Well, it would be, if I had more than 20 rounds left to knit. I'd forgotten how far along I was... I'd separated off the thumb, and was already partway through the hand portion.

I never cease to amaze myself - honestly, there's less than 2 hours knitting left on this project. Why on earth did I put it down?

I know this is fairly common - knitters tell me all the time that they they're often surprised how little work remains when they dig up old UFOs. I suppose it's like the ironing - the pile gets bigger in my mind, the longer it sits. If you'd asked me to guess, I would have thought I had at least 10 hours of work left on this project. I bet this has happened to you, dear readers?

Still, I'll have a lovely new pair of fingerless mitts ready for the first cold snap.

Perhaps I should publish this pattern - that would encourage me to finish it!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Sock Yarn Leftovers

I've just finished a pair of Socks in Colinette Jitterbug, which I bought on a trip to the UK a few years ago. I love this yarn - thick and smooshy, with lovely vivid colours - I used it for the Vampire Boyfriend socks. I have found it's best handwashed - it seems to felt a little with machine washing.

And, once again, I'm confronted with the question of what to do with the leftovers. Having smaller-than-average feet, I always end up with a fair quantity leftover from a skein of sock yarn.

Inspired by recent conversations with my two crochet fairy godmothers, Jennifer and Tamara, and a long-ago conversation with Sarah, I have finally decided what to do with them... a giant crochet granny square blanket.

Sarah's (in the above picture) is seriously great...

This is mine so far... I've got a way to go....

But I've got the yarn all lined up and ready...