Another Kauni Cardigan

the Elrond Sweater, knit by Deborah Cooke in Kauni EffektgarnKauni Effektgarn is a self-striping yarn with long gradations of color which I like a lot. It feels kind of rough when you knit it but you wash it after knitting, and hey presto, it fulls and becomes amazingly soft. Plus the colours rock.

Years ago, I knit a sweater out of this yarn for Mr. Math that I called the Elrond Sweater. (That link will take you to my blog post about it.) I used the colorway that is all blues for the background and the rainbow colorway for the second color. I had to break the blue section out of the rainbow because it disappeared against the background. I also broke out the lime to knit the I-cord all around the edges. (It still irks me that the zipper is slightly offset.) Mr. Math wears this all the time.

Hippocampus Mittens in Kauni EffektgarnLater I used up the bits in two pairs of Hippocamus mittens. That’s the Ravelry link to the pattern. They don’t quite match, but they’re close enough.

Ever since I finished the sweater for the mister, I’ve wanted to make one for myself. I started one before, but stalled after knitting the back (because it’s a kimono style and hmm.)

This year I started another cardigan.

The pattern is The Oa by Kate Davies, which is written for a much thicker yarn. It’s also a pullover with raglan sleeves, but I want a cardigan with regular sleeves. So, the pattern is more of an inspiration than a set of instructions.

I’m using solid black as the contrast to the rainbow colorway. (I’m not sure Kauni was making the solid colors when I knit Mr. Math’s sweater.)

Here’s the back of my sweater:
Back of sweater in Kauni Effektgarn knit by Deborah Cooke

It’s huge because I’ll toss the finished sweater into the washing machine when it’s done. This will full and soften the yarn and will also shrink the sweater. (I’m really hoping I made my calculations correctly!)

Here’s a detail shot of the hem. My idea is that there’s a border with the colorways reversed, along the hem and up the front on either side of the opening.
hem of sweater knit in Kauni Effektgarn by Deborah Cooke

Now, I’ve started the front. I’m knitting the two fronts in one piece to keep the rate of the color changes roughly the same as the back. I’ll steek the fronts when they’re done. (It’s possible that I didn’t continue with the Kauni Roan because there was steeking to be done. I’ve never done a steek. This sweater will probably be the first steek for me.) The rate of the color change will be slightly different because 1/ there are 7 stitches more on each row, because there are 7 stitches between the two fronts for the steek and 2/ the inverted bands of color running up each side of the center front will mean that the rainbow is used at a quicker rate than on the back. I’m curious to see how much different the color comes out. This is still the best way I can think of to have them as close as possible to being the same.

The only way to make the fronts and the back exactly the same is to knit the sweater in the round, as I did with Mr. Math’s sweater. I wanted the blocks of each color to be wider on this one though, so compromises must be made. 🙂

I can’t even think about the sleeves. I knit Mr. Math’s top-down to make sure they matched. I’ll cross that proverbial bridge when I get to it. 🙂

What do you think?

A Tale of Two Skeins

It’s Fibre Friday and today’s post could have been called Second Sock Syndrome. Second sock syndrome refers to the a knitter’s tendency to make the first sock then not quite get around to making the other. It’s a lot like Second Book Syndrome, which writers are said to experience – the first book is written in a glorious rush, making the process look so easy, then the second one is fraught with problems, and sometimes doesn’t get completed.

I’m having an issue with a pair of socks.

They’re knee socks, or they will be when they’re done. I’m not sure why I’m fascinated by knee socks and always want to knit them. I don’t ever wear them when they’re finished. I just like the idea of knee socks, the funkier the better. Here’s a pair I knit in Noro Kureyon a few years ago.

Ha! I just looked at my Ravelry project page. I finished these in 2009!!! And they’ve yet to be worn. They sleep, neatly folded, in my sock drawer. This isn’t because I don’t like them. I love them! I just never wear them. And I loved knitting them, too, which maybe is why I cast on another pair.

This newest pair of knee socks are knit from handpainted yarn, so they’re making a kind of a spiral stripe on their own. It’s actually the pooling of the colourway, not a stripe, per se. The yarn is Fleece Artist Trail Socks, a yummy scrummy yarn in beautiful colors, and the colorway is Hercules. I bought two skeins, because well, knee socks. One skein contains 305 yards, which is enough for a pair of regular socks but not enough for knee socks.

My Ravelry project page says I started these in 2015. The first one was knit quickly, then things went awry. Here’s why:

Fleece Artist knee socks knit by Deborah Cooke

It doesn’t even look like I’ve used the same colourway for the second sock, does it? I thought the issue was where I started in the cast-on, but I’ve done it again and it’s still not right. The second sock has languished, because I’ve been perplexed. Then last week, I wondered if the YARN was different between the skeins. I know that Fleece Artist doesn’t have dye lots and that each skein is unique, but I’ve never had two that were so very different.

I decided to have a closer look. Here, I’ve laid out a single colour repeat from one skein beside that of the second skein.

Fleece Artist skeins

So, there’s a little bit of difference but not that much. It must be where I cast on.

I was thinking I would live with this and had kept knitting, but it’s driving me crazy. I’m going to frog both socks and make two pairs of regular socks instead, one pair from each skein. Then, they’ll match each other and I’ll be happier.

Have you had any projects you needed to restart lately?

A New Hat

I haven’t shown you any knitting lately because I haven’t finished many projects. I have a number of bigger ones on my needles and they just go on and on.

BUT, I did finish this hat. It’s very fuzzy and soft. The best way to block a beret is on a dinner plate, which is where it is here:
Selbu Modern knit by Deborah Cooke in Misti Alpaca Sport and Rowan Mohair HazeThe pattern is Selbu Modern, which is a free download. I’ve knit this pattern before, but I gave the hat away without taking a picture. It’s an easy pattern to follow. I used stash yarn for it – Misti Alpaca Sport in dark purple (this yarn is discontinued) and Rowan Mohair Haze in bright pink.

The combination is fun and bright for those winter days. I realized as I was knitting that I’ve worked in this colour combination before – I made a pair of gloves in two shades of Kidsilk Haze (more fuzzy mohair!) but seldom wear them because they don’t go with anything else. That’s solved now! Here they are:

Striped Glvoes in Rowan Kidsilk Haze knit by Deborah Cooke

What have you been knitting 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!

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?

Time for Chaos

I told you a while back that we’d be having renovations done at the house this year, and they’ve started today. This means noise and dust, at least in the short term. It means worker guys in the house, too, and the Queen Bee getting miffed about them coming in and out without ringing the doorbell. She’s set them straight a couple of times already today as to how we do things around here. This morning, she and I stayed in my office with the stereo on, but as the demolition got rolling, we chose to take refuge in the kitchen. Since she’s snoring, I’ll guess she’s not policing entrances and exits for the afternoon. I can smell plaster dust, because they’re ripping out the plaster and lathe. I’m just glad to not be doing that job myself. Mr. Math is changing out the bag on his ShopVac and is determined to go after the dust tonight and every night. All of this works for me.

I’m busy writing! Despite the disruption, Alexander’s story is coming along well. It’s kind of fun to write about reunited lovers instead of couples meeting for the first time – Alexander, as you might remember, was forced to leave his wife to do his duty and serve with the force that became known as the Dragon’s Teeth Warriors. Many things have changed, but not the power of the love these two have for each other. As usual, I’m wondering whether I’ll manage to bring in the story at novella length of 25,000 to 30,000 words. I’m determined to do it, though, because I don’t want to be late on this one.

Also, the newsletter is ready to go out on Thursday, so if you haven’t signed up, you might want to do that. (There’s a link at the top left.) There will be two new excerpts posted for subscribers to read – one from THE HIGHLANDER’S CURSE and one from KISS OF DANGER.

I’ve also seen the newly formatted file for the Jewels of Kinfairlie Boxed Set and it looks wonderful. That was the first file that the formatter worked on, and I’ll update you when each new edition gets uploaded and published on the various portals. I’m excited that my books will have such pretty new digital editions.

In terms of my knitting, I’ve just survived the tedious job of unwinding all of the remaining yarn in the ball to find out exactly how much is left. I’m finishing a shawl and want to make sure that I don’t run out before the hem is finished. Maybe I’ll get that project done this week, as well.

And now, back to our regularly scheduled renovation chaos.

Visit from Shelly Thacker

I’m very excited today to have a guest blog post from Shelly Thacker. Shelly was writing for Dell when I sold to them in 1997 or so, and I always enjoyed her comments and company. As you’ll see, we have a bit in common. I’d lost track of her over the past few years, so was very excited to find her on Ravelry. (And really, why did that surprise me? I KNEW Shelly was a knitter.) Like me, Shelly is making a lot of her backlist titles available in digital editions. Like me, she knits and has stash. Unlike me, she’s publishing a new title herself, too.

So, please welcome Shelly Thacker to Alive & Knitting!

Deb, thanks for the opportunity to visit today! One of my favorite parts of the indie ebook revolution has been the chance to reconnect with friends from my New York publishing days. You and I have always had so much in common: knitting, writing, and medieval history — three of my lifelong passions.

I’ve actually been knitting even longer than I’ve been writing professionally. I learned in college, when I spent a semester abroad in Grenoble, France. Living in the French Alps was an unforgettable experience — and it later inspired the setting for my first ebook release, HIS FORBIDDEN TOUCH, a medieval romance about a mercenary who’s assigned to protect a princess during a dangerous journey through a snowy mountain realm.

Before I arrived in France, I had never been all that interested in knitting. At the time, knitting was still viewed as a hobby for grandmothers in rocking chairs. But in Europe, all the girls my age were knitting — on trains, in buses, during class. It was everywhere. And the sweaters they were knitting were so stunning! Chic and colorful and contemporary. Those fashionable French yarnistas turned all the “grandma” cliches upside down and inside-out. I just had to try it.

So I asked the mom in my French host family to teach me — and as soon as she put yarn and needles in my hands for the first time, I was a goner. I’ve been knitting non-stop ever since. My ever-expanding yarn stash, much to my husband’s chagrin, now fills an entire closet here in my home office.

The funny thing is, even though I was already a fairly confident knitter by the time I came home from France, I had to take a beginning knitting class — because I couldn’t read American patterns. I had learned everything in French, and the U.S. knitting terminology and abbreviations made no sense to me.

Today, I’m a mom of two young daughters, so I tend to focus on quick projects like scarves, hats, and mittens. My knitting resolution for 2011 was to make more sweaters, like the Idlewood that I’m wearing in my author photo. I also dabble a bit in design, and I thought I’d share a favorite pattern that’s perfect for a quick holiday gift:

Lazy River Scarf
by Shelly Thacker (aka ShellyMN on Ravelry)

This scarf is so easy, I almost named it the Lazy Knitter. It’s just alternating bands of K1P1 ribbing and garter stitch, two of the most basic stitches in every knitter’s repertoire. Use them alone and they might put you to sleep – but when you use them together, they effortlessly create this wavy fabric with rippled edges. This scarf is completely reversible (identical on both sides), and would look lovely at just about any gauge. So grab a skein or two from your stash and knit yourself a river!

Sizes
One size fits all (sample shown is 5.5” X 57”)

Materials
About 200 yards worsted-weight wool (sample was knit in Berroco’s Bluefaced Leicester, now discontinued)
Size U.S. #8 needles

Gauge
Completely up to you!

Instructions
Cast on 33 stitches (be sure to CO an odd number of sts if you make your scarf wider or skinnier)
Rows 1-4: *K1P1* ribbing
Rows 5-8: Knit every row (garter stitch)
Repeat these 8 rows until scarf is desired length. End with 4 rws K1P1 ribbing and BO in pattern. Weave in ends.

Shelly Thacker’s bestselling romances have won praise from Publishers Weekly, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Locus, and The Oakland Press, who have called her novels “innovative,” “addictive,” “memorable” and “powerful.” After ten years, two New York publishers, and more than 1 million copies in print, she recently joined the digital revolution as an indie author. Look for her Stolen Brides series of medieval romances at your favorite e-bookstore. She invites readers to visit her at http://www.shellythacker.com and friend her on Ravelry, where she’s ShellyMN.

You can find Shelly in all these places:

Shelly’s Website
Shelly’s Blog
On Twitter
On Facebook