Charlotte’s Web Finished!

Today’s Fibre Friday post is a little late, because I needed to wait for some light to take pictures. We had snow, so that made a good backdrop, but it wasn’t sunny yet so the colours are a bit dull compared to real life.

I talked about this shawl last week, and here’s the picture of it in progress with the skeins again:

Charlotte's Web shawl, knit by Deborah Cooke in Koigu

I did use the progression at the lower right corner, as planned. You can see that the lace pattern is bunched up. I knew it would blossom when it was blocked, and wow, I was right.

Charlotte's Web knit in Koigu KPPPM by Deborah Cooke

The blocked shawl is over a meter deep. I really like the colour gradation in it. I was worried about the fifth colour, that it might be too inky, but IRL it picks up the rosy and inky tones of #4.

As mentioned before, I decided against the fringed edge and tried to use up all the yarn instead in the shawl. I knit the last four rows with the first colour, then did an I-cord bind-off with it.

Here’s a close-up of that lace pattern:

Charlotte's Web, detail, knit in Koigu KPPPM by Deborah Cooke

What do you think?

Making Stripes

It’s time to talk about knitting again!

I finished my Earth Stripe Shawl and immediately started on another famous knit – Charlotte’s Web. This is a design from Koigu that requires 5 skeins of their KPPPM. (Koigu Painters Palette Premium Merino). You change colours gradually as you knit the shawl, so there’s a gradation thing going on. The original pattern shows a heavy fringe, but I don’t like fringes. I decided to just use up all five skeins and make the shawl bigger.

I bought a bundle of ten skeins in shades of purple at the Koigu tent sale last summer (with a pattern book) and had a lot of fun this fall switching them around in various combinations. (These ten-skein Paint Packs are illustrated on the KPPPM page. Scroll down to see them all. Mine is the Royal Purple – you’ll be able to see why I had a hard time choosing one!) The first three in my shawl were the ones at the top left that obviously went together to me. The others, hmm, required some consideration.

Koigu KPPPM pruples

Here’s the shawl so far. This is about 2.5 skeins in, a little less because I kept a good chunk of the first skein to knit a contrast hem at the end. Charlotte's Web shawl, knit by Deborah Cooke in Koigu

The two caked up skeins at the bottom right will be my next two colours, then I’ll do a hem of some kind in the first colour. I’m using the two of the skeins at the top right of the first picture – the middle one in that picture is #4 and the inky one below it will be #5. The other five skeins are for another shawl, in the order of the second photo. Maybe I’ll start with the pinky one at the right and just make another Charlotte’s Web. We’ll see.

This shawl is a really lovely knit. The lace repeat is easy to memorize, so it’s my tv knit. There are a lot of comments on Ravelry about the instructions being confusing, but I haven’t found that – maybe because I just used the chart for the lace. Since taking this picture, I’ve almost finished with the fourth colour. This one is really going to bloom when it’s blocked!

What do you think?

Koigu Fingerless Gloves

I work in Mr. Math’s office when I format book interiors and upload content to the retail portals. It’s colder in there than in my office, and my hands get chilled. Recently, I decided to solve that. I dove into the stash and found two colours of Koigu, then knit myself a pair of fingerless gloves.

Fingerless gloves knit in Koigu by Deborah Cooke

The two colourways coordinate so well that it’s hard to see that there are two colours. The second one had that darker aubergine in it and a brighter chartreuse.


I knit the cuff in the first colour, striped them through the hand, then did the fingers in the first colour again. This is a pattern that I just made up as I went. The directions are below, mostly in case I need them again to knit another pair. 🙂

I do like the thumb gusset.Fingerless gloves knit in Koigu by Deborah Cooke

• Wool: 55g of sock yarn in one colour, or 30g colour A and 25g colour B for stripes
• 2.75mm needles. (I used DPN’s but a pair of short circulars would also work)
• markers
• stitch holders

• Cast on 60 stitches in A and join in round. PM at beginning of round.
• Work 2/2 rib for 24 rows.
This is the cuff.
• For the hand, if making stripes, work 6 rows of B, 2 rows of A, 6 rows B. If not making stripes, work 14 rows.

Begin thumb gusset, continuing in stripe pattern:
• work to first knit ridge. M1 before the knit ridge, PM, K2, M1, then finish the round. Work 1 round, knitting the new stitches.
You now have a 4-stitch knit ridge. The outside stitches (which you just made) will be the outer boundary of the gusset and new stitches will be made on either side of that same central knit ridge. The marker will stay before the two central knit stitches and indicates the place for the first increase.

• Next row,  work to the 4-stitch knit ridge. K1, M1, keep marker here, K2, M1, K1, continue to end of round. Work one row, knitting the new stitches.

• On R13, work to the 6-stitch knit ridge. K1, M1, K1, keep marker here, K2, M1, K2, continue to end of round. Work one row, purling the new stitches.

• Continue, increasing 1 stitch before and 1 stitch after the central 2 knit stitches to 84 stitches. You will have increased twelve times for a total of 24 new stitches, and the 2/2 rib will be complete all the way around.

• Keep the 26 stitches of the thumb gusset on your needles and place the stitches for the rest of the hand on a stitch holder. Work once around in A in 2/2 rib, making two new stitches in the gap that will be the base of the thumb. On the second row, purl these stitches. Work 3 more rows and cast off thumb.

• Put the remaining stitches back on your needles. Work 1 round, picking up two stitches at the base of the thumb from those two cast-on stitches. They’ll be knit stitches on the next round. Work 6 more rounds in B, finishing the last stripe, and break B.

• For index finger, put 16 stitches on your needles (8 on either side of the thumb), make two stitches on the side opposite the thumb, join in round and work 8R in A, then cast off.

• For middle finger, put the next 8 stitches from the back of the glove on the needles, using A, pick up two stitches from the two created on the side of the index finger, knit the next 8 stitches from the front of the glove, make two more stitches in the space that will be between the middle and the ring finger, join in round. Work 8 rows, then cast off.

• For the ring finger, repeat, picking up 8 stitches from the front and back, and two on each side.

• For the small finger, work on the remaining 12 stitches, picking up two between the small finger and ring finger. You might want to only knit 6 rows before casting off.

Sew in the ends and be warm!

Project Bags

Today’s Fibre Friday post is a bit late because I had to wait for some sunshine to take my pix. It’s a beautiful day here, so I finally managed to get those pix to share these projects with you.

I’ve been sewing some project bags for my knitting.

First, let’s talk about the little ones. These are great for small projects, like socks. There’s a tutorial at Very Shannon Knits, and I mostly followed the plan. My big change for these first two was to add a loop, so the project bag could hang on my wrist or the arm of a chair. Also, instead of twill tape, I used grossgrain ribbon for the drawstrings. There’s another change that I’ll explain later on.

Of course, I had plenty of fabric in my stash.

Knitting Project Bags made by Deborah Cooke

The first one I made is in black and pink at the top left. This one (ahem) has a mistake. I used 5/8″ seam allowances instead of 1/4″ and so it’s a bit smaller than it should be. The interfacing I used on this one is pretty sturdy, too, so it’s more like a box than a bag. The design is reversible, so I put a loop on the inside, but I won’t turn it around with that interfacing.

To add a loop – like the one you can see clearly on the blue bag at the top right – cut a piece of fabric 12″ x 1.75″. Press in 1/4″ on each long edge, then press it in half. Edge-stitch down both long edges. Fold it in half, so the raw edges are together. I wanted mine to be at one of the corners of the bag, so I tucked the raw edges into the seam between the top and bottom exterior pieces about 3″ from the edge. Since I pressed the seam allowances down, the loop goes up.

A second modification: when sewing one side seam of the exterior, I left a gap in the sewing near the top. (Stitch half an inch, backstitch, then start stitching again an inch below the backstitching.) That left an opening for the ribbon to be fished through the casing. When the seam is pressed open, it looks almost like a buttonhole.

Part of the reason that this one has bigger seam allowances is that I didn’t read the pattern all the way through. (Oops.) I just did my usual bag-making thing once the shapes were cut out. So, I turned the bag through an opening in the bottom seam in the lining, which I then sewed up by hand – as soon as I’d done that, I realized there was an easier way that would require no handstitching.Knitting Project Bags made by Deborah Cooke

For the second one, in blue at the top right, I got the seam allowances right and used a softer interfacing. I also used my no-handstitching method. I made the bag exterior and the lining, then pressed down the seam allowance on the top edge on both pieces. I put them together, wrong sides together, just as they would be in the finished bag. I edge-stitched all the way around the top, sewing them together, then stitched again 1″ away. That made the casing for the ribbon and finishing the bag. (Ha.)

Once I had the hang of things, I made the bigger bag in turquoise at the bottom. (I tend to knit sweaters, not socks.) I sized up from a 12″ square to a 15″ square and made the cut-out corners bigger. I used the softer interfacing on this one and I like how it turned out. I think I might make an even bigger one next, just for fun – it will have zippered pockets.

And the final project for today is an up-cycled bag. One of the frustrating things about handknit socks is that I always walk a hole in the bottom of each sock. The foot wears out when the leg part is still fine. 😦 All that knitting! Some yarns wear out faster than others, too. When I really like the yarn, I’m not good at tossing out these socks. I wash them in hot water so they felt a bit, then I add them to my stash.

I’ve cut pieces from these felted socks for the pockets on other felted bags, but decided to make a bag from those socks. Here it is:

Upcycled Noro Tote Bag by Deborah Cooke Most of these socks were knit in Noro Kureyon Sock. (Who can throw out Noro? Not me.) I dug some coordinating pairs out of my dead sock stash. This took six pair. I cut off each sock at the start of the heel, then sliced open the leg to make a square. Those were about 8″ by 8″ each. I cut some of them smaller to make a pattern I liked. I sewed the squares together so I had a piece big enough for a tote bag and added a bottom in fabric.

Upcycled Noro Tote Bag by Deborah CookeI reinforced the bottom and added feet. One of my favorite reinforcements for the bottom of a tote bag is a piece cut from these plastic cutting boards from Ikea. I always buy another package when I’m there. The colours change all the time, but it doesn’t matter when it’s inside the bag. (It ends up between the bag and the lining, so isn’t visible.) You can cut these to size with a utility knife, then make holes with an awl for the feet. Round the corners, too, so it doesn’t poke through the bag.

I lined the bag – adding a zippered pocket, of course – put some piping in the seam between the bag and the lining, and added a drawstring top. It even has a dragon charm. 🙂 I sewed leather handles on it (reinforcing them with canvas on the inside) and ta da! The socks live on!Upcycled Noro Tote Bag by Deborah Cooke

It needs just one last step – a line of top-stitching below the piping to keep the drawstring part from puffing out. I’m pleased with it though and certainly have enough felted socks to make another.

What have you been sewing lately?

Tink, Knit, Tink

To tink is to knit backwards, that is, to un-knit or rip back. Another word for the same process is frog – as in “rip it, rip it”.

I’ve been tinking in 2018 and thought we’d talk about that today. Tinking my knitting is a lot like revising my books: I think of it as an editorial process, and a means of getting the project right.

First up in Tinkland was my Fire Dance shawl. (That’s a Ravelry link.) This one is knit in a silk laceweight yarn, in a gradient dye from The Unique Sheep. It’s the same yarn, but a different colour and pattern, as I used in my Urdr shawl three years ago. I like to knit lace in the winter, and Fire Dance has a lot of beads, which is awesome, too – plus the colourway is called Dragon Fire. How could I resist that? Well, I was about 80 rows in and realized I’d dropped a stitch waaaaaaay back around R25. Ugh. I can’t imagine how I’d be able to pick up the stitches, so I just frogged it all the way back and started over again.

Here’s my progress now:Fire Dance shawl, cast on AGAIN by Deborah Cooke

This next tink project is a strange one. Several years ago, Rowan published a pattern for a sweater which I loved on sight. Here’s another Ravelry link – the pattern is Amour and it was published in Rowan 50. The yarn used is Rowan Silk Twist, which was discontinued soon after that and very quickly disappeared from the world. (Maybe there wasn’t very much of it around by the time it was discontinued.) I periodically looked on eBay to see if anyone wants to be rid of some, because you never know. Lo and behold, in January, a listing popped up – not for the yarn per se, but for sample sweaters knit of the yarn for Rowan. Even more strange, they were $15US each. I looked up the pattern and it used at least 8 skeins depending on the size. So, each sweater was available for just a little more than the price of a single skein, when it had been available, but included the same amount as 8 skeins. Even better, the sweaters were the luscious purple colour of Silk Twist. I bought two of them, specifically to tink them and knit Amour.

Silk Twist sample sweaters bought by Deborah CookeThey arrived this week and are just as pretty as expected. They’re far too small for me to ever wear, so I’ll start tinking them this weekend.

What’s on your needles? Have you tinked anything lately?

The Hunt for the Perfect Hat

I’m trying to finish up some knitting projects, which means I have bits and ends to show you this Friday.

Scarf knit in Kidsilk Haze Stripe by Deborah cookeFirst up, a scarf in Kidsilk Haze Stripe that has been waiting to be finished for a very long time. I cast it on (ahem) in July 2013, according to Ravelry, to knit on the plane on the way to and from RWA National convention in Atlanta. I used bamboo needles as they were allowed on flights then. I didn’t finish it on the flight so it waited – because I don’t particularly like knitting KSH on bamboo needles. The pattern is one of my own, called Calienté, which I unpublished because I found mistakes in the chart.

This yarn is discountinued, which is a shame because I really like it. The first thing I knit in it was another scarf following the same pattern – you can see it here. I’ve also knit two cardigans in this yarn: here’s one and here’s the other.

I’ve also knit a couple more hats. This isn’t because I like hats. I don’t like hats, but when it gets cold, I end up knitting a bunch of different ones. It’s the hunt for the perfect hat, and it keeps going on because I haven’t found the ideal hat yet. Does it exist? This might be my version of the hunt for the Holy Grail. (Maybe I should move somewhere warmer.)

Slouchy hat in Premier yarns Appalachia knit by Deborah CookeThis week’s candidates include a slouchy hat in Premier Yarns Appalachia. It took one ball. The pattern was from Patons website, Knitspirations, and is a free download. It’s called Polka Dot Knit Hat. I don’t love it, so this one might be given away. A slouchy hat might look good, but a good wind will snatch it away. It’s not just cold here in winter; it’s windy, too.

Hat in bulky marl knit by Deborah CookeI also knit this hat in a bulky red/grey marl. I don’t know what this yarn is. It reminds me of Patons Classic Wool Bulky and I did get it in the mill ends at Spinrite. They don’t distribute a red/grey marl, though, so maybe it’s something else.

The pattern is called In An Evening Toque from Fleece Artist and is a free download. This yarn is obviously much thicker. I knit the hat on 6mm needles so I cast on 6 stitches more than the pattern called for (because it’s knit on 7mm needles). The hat is big enough that it doesn’t flatten my hair and the stitches are really dense. I don’t love it, though.

The hunt goes on! What have you been knitting lately?

Finishing Up

I’m finishing up my Earth Stripe Wrap – finally! I took a picture of it yesterday, because it was so sunny. I knew the colours would show up well in the snow. Here’s the length of it:

Earth Stripe Wrap knit by Deborah Cooke

I had wanted to knit three full repeats of the colour sequence, but I’m running out of Majestic (as anticipated). So, I’ll knit a few more rows then bind it off in the same Trance and Majestic as the cast-on edge, and with the same beads. It’s 82″ long right now so will probably finish out around 85″ before it’s blocked.

Here’s a close-up of the cast-on edge. Because it’s not blocked yet, the edge wants to curl under, but you can see the beads. The colours in this photograph are pretty true to life. Earth Stripe Wrap knit by Deborah Cooke

It’s soft and light and so very pretty. I’m really happy with this wrap, and I’m also glad to be so close to finishing it. It’s been a big project but one that I’ve almost knitted right through without interruption. I started August 15 and took a break when it was too hot in September to have a mound of KSH in my lap.

Next up, I’m going to finish my Audrey cardigan, designed by Martin Storey. (This is the Ravelry link.) This one has been set aside for a while. It’s knitted in Rowan Angora Haze in the colourway Love, which is deep purple. There are lots of cables on this one. I originally cast on this project in march 2016, but stopped working on it when the weather warmed up. Here’s my first blog post. I’ve finished the back and left front, and am halfway up the right front. Maybe I’ll get it done by the second anniversary of the cast-on!

Building a Book Tree

Deborah Cooke's Book TreeA couple of years ago, I built a book tree for Christmas in our dining room and decorated it for the holidays. There were some questions about how to do it, so this year, I took pictures of the tree in progress.

You can read that old post right here.

That’s the tree from two years ago on the right. I built the new one in the same spot.

Book Tree Base, built by Deborah Cooke 2017

I started with eight books in a circle on the floor. Because book trees tend to be a little tippy near the top, you want the base to be as stable as possible. (A book tree might not be a good plan if you have acrobatic cats.) Choose books of similar or even the same thickness, and start with big books at the bottom.

I apologize for the picture quality. I started to build the book tree at night and the lighting in the dining room was…atmospheric.

We have a lot of coffee table books, and they found their way into the tree this year. These two cookbooks are exactly the same format as well as large, heavy books. The circle is about three and a half feet wide at the outside edges and I built it on a piece of carpeting. (The rug we used last year is now at a window where the New Girl keeps an eye on the world.) The red books are Sir Walter Scott’s Minstrelsy of the Scottish Borders, which is a good foundation for many things. 🙂

The book tree built by Deborah Cooke 2017Then you start building. Angle the next layer over the gaps, so each book on round two rests halfway on one book in the first level and halfway on the adjacent one. Again, keep an eye on the book thickness and use hard covers for best results.

Here’s the tree after about four rounds. Inevitably, books end up being of differing thicknesses and sizes, so it all starts to get less mathematical. Angle the books over the gaps, stack books to make up the thickness of their neighbors—and when you do stack books, twist them at slightly different angles.

After four or five layers, it’s good to check that things are lining up. Get down on the floor so the base of the tree is at eye level. Check that things are lining up vertically. You don’t want to be drifting to one side or the other!

Book Tree built by Deborah Cooke 2017In this shot, you can see that the tree is rising vertically on each side and just starting to cant inward a little bit. This is a good point to start making the diameter of the tree smaller. You can also see where I’ve stacked three books to make up the height of a big fat one, the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. I also checked this from the other side to make sure those sides were rising vertically. If you don’t build yours against a wall like mine, walk around it. When I get about this far, and have books stacked all over the dining room table to sort them, Mr. Math usually shows up and starts reading. 🙂

Completed book tree built by Deborah Cooke 2017From this point, there’s just a lot of stacking to be done. Gradually, change to smaller books because that will make it easier to taper the tree to a point. I always top my tree with some small leatherbound editions of classics (Dickens is there) and a leatherbound copy of Grimms Fairy Tales at the summit. On top is the little tree my SIL made for my husband’s apartment many years ago.

Here’s my finished book tree for this year. Just a little picture because it’s not as sharp as would be ideal—plus you really want to see it tarted up. I think it’s about a foot taller than last year’s version.

To decorate it, I used two strands of Ikea LED snowflake lights again. The lights are easy to add: you just push the wire between two books to hold it in place. Round and round, from bottom to top. It works out perfectly each time.

Once the lights were in place, I added lot of ribbons, berries and flowers in red and gold. (My book tree has a palette. Ha.) Maybe you’re like me and have a box of shiny trinkets from Christmas packages or floral arrangements that are shiny and festive so you save them, but you aren’t quite sure what to do with them. (I even have three glittery pomegranates, although I’m not sure why.) The book tree is a great destination. Tuck those ribbons and berries into the gaps between the books. There’s some gold bead garland in my box of tricks, too, and it goes on this tree.

Here’s this year’s finished book tree:
Book Tree built by Deborah Cooke 2017It looks even more sparkly and festive in real life. I’m pleased with it. 🙂

Have you built a book tree yet? Are you going to?

A Thousand Miles of Stockinette

I’ve been knitting on my Earth Stripe Wrap, which feels like it’s at least a thousand miles of stockinette.

In reality, it’s a lot less than that.

Let’s do some knitter geek math. According to Ravelry, the completed wrap takes about 3206 yards of Kidsilk Haze. There are 1760 yards in a mile, so that’s 1.82 miles BUT the yarn is used double. It’s not even one mile of stockinette stitch. It sounds a little better in metric—2932m is almost three kilometers. Divided in half for the doubled yarn, that’s 1.5 klicks. That seems to diminish what might be an endless project. Let’s try this: there are 115 stitches in each row and 186 rows in the stripe repeat. I’ve knit two repeats, for a grand total of 42,780 stitches. That sounds impressive!

Here’s what the wrap looks like now:

Earth Stripe Wrap knit by Deborah Cooke

It was just shy of finishing the second repeat yesterday when I took the picture. I finished that repeat last night. Right now, it’s not quite 60″ long. (148cm) I’m hoping to knit a third repeat—depending on how far my yarn goes. Ha. That’ll be another 21,390 stitches if I make it. I know I’ll run out of Majestic very close to the end of the repeat, but one of the other colours might run out sooner. We’ll see.

It’s quite a pile of fuzzy warmth to have in my lap when I knit. I stopped working on it in September when we had a warm spell, but now it’s perfectly cozy.

Whenever I knit a bit project like this, I need a little interim encouragement and usually take breaks to knit some quick projects. Quick projects are all about instant gratification. They usually take only one ball of yarn, and they knit up in an evening or two. Here are some of my recent ones:

Two Mobius cowls knit by Deborah Cooke

These two mobius cowls each used a single ball of Isaac Mizrahi Sutton. I liked the colors and the feel of it, so bought a couple of balls when they were on sale. The pattern is a free one: Bulky Mobius Cowl.  It’s easy, but I always have to watch the Cat Bordhi video to cast on a moebius. (There’s a link in the pattern.) I wanted to use a smaller needle, 8mm instead of 10, so I cast on 50 stitches. For the yellow and brown one, I followed the pattern until I ran out of yarn. For the purple one, I alternated two rows knit and two rows purl until I ran out of yarn. They fit snugly around my throat, which was exactly what I wanted.

Serpentine Hat knit by Deborah Cooke

I saw the yarn for this hat on sale and liked it. (It has alpaca fibre. How could this be bad? It’s purple. Likewise.) There was a picture of this hat with a cowl on the label, but the pattern wasn’t on the label. I had to go to their website to download it when I got home. (It’s here.) This was a little irksome because, in the store, I wasn’t sure how many balls of yarn I needed and had to guess. (No, I don’t shop with my phone in hand.) I bought three and only needed two for the hat and cowl. I could make mitts with the third, but that seems a bit matchy-matchy to me. I’ll make a second hat and give it away.

What have you been creating lately?


Socks and a Scarf

I’ve been travelling a bit lately so we haven’t had a Fibre Friday. Today’s the day!

First up, I finished a pair of very bright socks, knit in Patons Kroy Stripes. The colourway is Sunburst Stripes. I used two balls and just barely got the pair out of that – I thought I’d have to buy a third ball for the toes!
Socks knit by Deborah Cooke in Patons Kroy Stripes

They’re brighter than what I usually wear, but they’re socks – and they’ll be cheerful in the winter.

I’ve also finished a scarf knit without a pattern. I had this thick-and-thin yarn in my stash – I found it in the mill ends at Spinrite, which means there’s no label. I liked the colours, though, and thought there was enough for a scarf. It’s more like a cowl, but I really like how it knit up in garter stitch.

Scarf knit in mystery thick-and-thin yarn by Deborah Cooke

I knit it diagonally. Where you can see the end at the bottom, I cast on three stitches. I increased once stitch at each edge on every right side row (and knit every wrong side row) until I thought the point was wide enough. After that, I increased on the lead edge of every right side row, and finished each right side row with K2tog, K1. I continued to knit the wrong side rows. In this picture, I’m just at the point of starting the decreases for the other end.

In this picture, I’m just at the point of starting the decreases for the other end.  (Yes, I weighed the first point, then knit until the remaining wool weighed just a few grams more than that.) From here, I decrease at both ends of each right side row until there are just three stitches left, then cast off. I haven’t decided whether to leave it as a short scarf that I can wrap across the front of my throat, or I should join it into a cowl – either by grafting the ends together or adding some loops and buttons. What do you think?