In Progress: Ridiculously Big Cowl Neck Sweater

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I seldom post pictures of my craft projects in progress because I’m always afraid that I won’t finish them. I might mess them up royally and I have to frog them (which happens often), or I might just get bored (which happens often as well) and decide to put them away in a drawer where all my previous unfinished objects come to live, or die, permanently. Then what? It’s depressing.

Well, I’m currently nursing a sore right arm, an injury I incurred during nights of non-stop knitting, so I don’t have photos of finished projects to post. All I can do to at the moment to calm my knitting urges is talk about some projects in the works and pray that I’ll soon get to finish them all.

I have three sweaters in progress, including this simple, black sweater knit top down, in the round. I wanted something simple with no designs like cable, is oversized so I can layer, and with a ridiculously big cowl neck.

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I did manage to finish the piece and knit up the ridiculously big cowl neck one night but I think that re-aggravated the injury so the sleeves would have to wait for at least a few more weeks until I’m completely healed. The bright side is that this will give me some time to decide if I want the sleeves short, ¾ lengths, or full.  Any suggestions?

More Seed Stitch Cowls

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These are the Blue Sky Worsted Cotton yarns I purchased, with an intention to knit a baby blanket for a friend. The combination looked so lovely at first but it didn’t work for me when I actually knit them together. I think it’s because some of the colors are so similar (too similar, in fact) and the dark green skein stood out like a sore thumb. Whatever the reason, this combination just wasn’t meant to be.

Individually, however, they are stunning! It’s worsted cotton so it’s nice and slippery which makes knitting – especially with Turbo Addi needles – such ease. I’m so glad I decided to turn some of them into simple seed stitch cowl (others were knit into a pair of fingerless gloves). Of the three I knit so far (here’s the first one I knit and the pattern), the lavender one is probably my favorite.

I purchased a few more skeins of the same Blue Sky Worsted Cotton yarn to turn them into more cowls.  There goes my plan to reduce the yarn stash but it’s just too much fun to knit with them!  Maybe I’ll sell a few to justify the impulse purchase!

Let the holiday knitting commence!

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Blue Sky Worsted Cotton in Lavender (644)

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Blue Sky Worsted Cotton in Azul (628)

PATTERN: Seed Stitch Cowl

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Cats might have nine lives but this skein of yarn lived just about 10. I initially purchased this cozy Blue Sky Worsted Cotton (in Bone) yarn from Purl Soho, along with several other pastel colors, to knit a baby blanket for a friend who’s expecting her first baby in December. I actually finished the blanket but I didn’t like how it turned out (it was too narrow) so I frogged it and tried again with some necessary tweaks. But even after knitting six skeins of yarn twice (and blocking the blanket twice — eek), I still didn’t like it. I took that as a sign that these yarns were meant to become something else.

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I got the idea to knit a cowl after reading this post from Knit and Bake. It’s a very straightforward seed-stitch but its simplicity is so lovely it made me swoon. I love a seed stitch – it creates such wonderful texture and warmth. I can’t wait for the temperature to drop so I can adorn my neck with this cozy cowl. And a great part is that this knits up in no time.  I finished mine in about 4 hours, while watching the old Sex and the City episodes when the baby was a sleep at night.

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Seed Stitch Cowl
(This pattern was inspired by a cowl by Knit and Bake. I changed the needle size and the number of cast ons.)

Supplies:

Circular needle (20 inches or shorter) or four double-pointed needles in US size 10.5 mm
1 Skein of yarn (100 g).  I used Blue Sky Worsted Cotton in Bone (80).

Instruction:

Cast on 77 stitches. Knit in the round, while trying not to twist. K1, P1 all the way across the row, until you have just enough yarn to bind off. Bind off loosely.

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The finished cowl measured 24 in (circumference) x 8 in (length).

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Just a quick note: I like my cowl really loose. If you like yours a bit more snug around the neck, reduce the number of cast on stitches. As long as the cast on ends in an odd number, you’re good to go!

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Is it fall yet?

One Trick Pony

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I’m all about repurposing a pattern. I just change up a few things here (widen the width) and there (lengthen the length) and turn the same one pattern into several different garments – like converting a lace scarf into a poncho, shawl, cowl, shrug, blanket, or whatever. This is an infinity scarf I knit, using Debbie Bliss’ Lazy Scarf pattern. I mattress stitched the ends to make a one big loop.

I’m not only cheap financially, but I’m also stingy with exerting effort. Am I lazy? Yes. Am I a one trick pony? Perhaps. But who cares if the one trick I know is really really cute.

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Project Note Logo 3

Project: Lacy Poncho
Pattern: Inspired by Lacy Scarf by Debbie Bliss
Recipient: My sister for her birthday
Yarn: Cascade 200 Sport (3 skeins)
Color: Azure8892, purchased at WEBS Yarn

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Here’s the pony gallery! I’ve knit so many of the same thing in the last year. Most of them were gifted or sold to friends.

Lacy scarf collage

Oh, and this lap blanket.

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PATTERN: Easy Fingerless Fair Isle Mittens

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We’re still a good few months away from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season (and it’s still over 90-plus degrees outside — eek mad ), but I suppose it’s never too early to start getting ready for it!

Well, I’m not actually getting ready to make holiday gifts or anything just yet.  But I am getting ready for a major holiday / year-end cleanup I’m planning to do in the coming month. My plan is to further reduce the things that are taking up the precious real estate in our apartment (and wipe down every nook and cranny of the place), in an attempt to begin the new year with a fresh, minimalist mindset.

My immediate goal – use up the yarn stash (or at least assign a project to them) or donate them to charity. Since my inventory consists mostly of single skein, I decided to knit up some hats and gloves / mittens to reduce the load!

Enter — a pair of super easy fair isle fingerless mittens!

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Supplies:

A pair of knitting needles in size US 7
1/2 skein of yarn (Color A) — I used Blue Sky Worsted Cotton in Jasper
1/2 skein of yarn (Color B) — I used Blue Sky Worsted Cotton in Honeydew
Tapestry Needle

Instruction:

Note:  The measurements below are for relatively small hands.  Make sure to take a measurement of your wrist and hand circumferences to ensure that the mittens fit comfortably.  

Also, you can adjust the length of the mittens if you want something longer to cover your entire arms! 

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1. Cast on 44 stitches. Rib stitch (k1, p1), using Color A, until the panel measures about 2.5 inches.

2. Stockinette stitch (Row 1 k, Row 2 p, repeat), alternating between Colors A and B, until the panel measures about 4 inches.

Note:  Remember that when you’re doing a 1 x 1 fair isle, you pick up a stitch from the opposite color yarn.  So for example, if Color A is on your left needle ready to be knit or purl, make sure to pick up Color B from the strands.  I had to think about this for a moment because it’s the opposite of when you’re knitting fair isle in the round.

3. Cut Color B, leaving enough yarn to weave in the end. Rib stitch, using Color A, until the panel measures about an inch. Bind off loosely.

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4. Fold the panel into two, facing wrong sides together.  Using a tapestry needle, stitch two sides together until it reaches 3.5 inches.  Cut the yarn and weave in loose end.

5. Leave a 2-inch opening for the thumb.  Stitch two sides together, until you reach the end.  Cut the yarn and weave in loose end.  You’re done!

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This is probably the simplest way to make the fingerless mittens since it requires no shaping, and because there’s no shaping, it lacks a little bit of the sophistication that comes with a more complex pattern. I might try knitting the same pattern in the round next time to avoid sewing together the seams, and make a decrease from the top of the thumb hole so there will be a nice shape on top. But I’m very happy with the pair!

Half of two skeins down.  452,952,241 more to go (okay, I’m just kidding there — I don’t have that big of a stash)! lol

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Easy Bolero

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I often preface my knitting projects by calling them “easy.” The reason is because I usually select patterns that are truly simple to make. They usually require no intricate stitches and I seldom use patterns with complicated charts to read. If you know the knitting basics, any beginner knitter will agree with me. This goes for items I create on my own, like these baby hats and these lace ponchos.

I think my latest project earns the title of the easiest garment I’ve ever knit. It’s a bolero. And a cute and wearable one at that!

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I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a bigger “AHA” than when I figured out the construction for a bolero. What? All I do is knit one long piece, sew together the arms, and pick up the sides? That’s it? No seaming together pieces? How can something so cute be so simple?!?

Yep, that’s exactly how I knit this bolero: I knit a panel (that looks like a shorter but wider scarf) using a simple stockinette stitch; create sleeves by sewing two sides of the panel together; and pick up stitches around inside the panel using a rib stitch and knit 2 purl 2 all the way around.

It’s a little difficult to explain it without any visual aids but I’m sure I’ll knit another one of these little shrugs soon and I’ll post a tutorial then, for anyone interested.

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Boleros are so awesome because it’s light and perfect for breezy summer nights, just like ponchos. It’s also a great remedy for someone like me who loves summer dresses but don’t feel comfortable showing bare shoulders and arms.

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I used one skein of Cascade 220 Sport in Doeskin Heather.

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PATTERN: Easy Fair Isle Baby Hat

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My BFF Maya recently requested a custom knit bag with a 1 stitch x 1 stitch Fair Isle pattern, like the beautiful Arctic Wrap from The Purl Bee. She saw and felt the actual wrap on our recent trip to Purl Soho and fell in love with it. I think turning it into a bag is a marvelous idea and I’m delighted to make it for Maya, but I panicked a little because I’ve never knit a Fair Isle pattern before.  cry

Over the weekend, I dusted off a few skeins of leftover Amy Butler yarns and made itty bitty baby hats to practice the pattern. I didn’t want to commit to a large project so I settled on the hat … but I had so much fun with it that I ended up knitting three in two days. I knit as I went, with no pattern, which allowed me to make them very quickly.  I think I’m now ready to knit that custom bag for my BFF!

I’m no expert in pattern writing but if you would like to try making the hat, here it is! It’s a great solution to use up your yarn stash, especially if you have some half-used skeins you didn’t know what to do with!

Happy knitting!

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Supplies:

    • Circular needle in US size 7, in 16 inches (You can omit the circular needle if you’re just using the double pointed needles)
    • 4 double pointed needles in size 7
    • 2 different color yarns (about 25 grams each)
    • A pair of scissors to cut off yarns
    • Tapestry needle to bind off loose ends

Note: The first number in the pattern is for the small size (pink) with a 14 inch circumference; the larger size (gray and yellow ones are the same size), in parenthesis, is for a 16 inch circumference.

Direction:

Using circular needle US size 7 in 16 inches, cast on 80 (88) stitches with Color A (pink).

Knit 2, purl 2 in a round and repeat this rib stitch until it measures about 2 inches.

Now, add Color B (yellow) and knit, alternating colors at each stitch. You might need to M1 at the end of the first row to avoid repeating same color twice. Continue to knit until the entire hat measures around 4.5 (5) inches. Note:  Because you’re knitting in a round, you don’t have to worry about purling the alternate rows.  You can knit all the way around to create a stockinette stitch. 

Cut off Color B. Using Color A only, knit for 1 (2) inches. At this time, the hat should measure around 5.5 (7) inches.

Hat pattern

Begin decrease:

Row 1: k2tog, k2. Repeat this for the entire row.  Change the circular needle to double pointed needles. Note: If you are left with uneven number of stitches, simply stay as close to the pattern as possible. 

Row 2: K2tog, until you are left with one stitch.

Bind off lose ends.  Add a pom pom on top (optional).  I ran out of yarns but I would have loved to put it on the top!

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Amy Butler Rowan belle organic dk in Cilantro (016) and Tomato (012)

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Amy Butler Rowan belle organic dk in Cilantro (016) and Slate (015)

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Same as the hat above, in contrasting colors.

Knit Cable Bag

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One of the main reasons why I’m now a knitter is because I fell in love with Michael’s Fashion Cable Bag I saw on display, while on a non-knitting errand at the local craft store years ago. It was knit in white wool, with round bamboo handles, and had a brown ribbon around it. I had to have it but it was not on sale, so I picked up a pair of knitting needles instead and taught myself to knit. My first attempt was such an epic failure that I never went back to the pattern again (to my defense, the pattern is written very poorly) but my love for cable bags never faded.

Fast forward several years and I finally have my very own knit cable bag!

Many of the patterns I found online were beautiful but too intricate for my taste, so I made an original, super easy version. I made the bag panel using a pattern from The Yarn Girls Cables in Chamoix (see my previous post about the sweater here). The cable bag is virtually a sweater front folded in half, with handles on top.

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Pattern: Inspired by The Yarn Girls’ Cables in Chamoix
Yarn: Cascade 220 in Pacific (I knit with two strands to add durability. It’s sturdy without being bulky.)
Lining: Amy Butler in Belle French Wallpaper Spruce
Handles: 10” full ring bamboo handles, in natural color

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I’m currently contemplating if I should put a little embellishment, like a fabric flower or a bow, on the bag! I’m in love with the bag!

Lace Poncho

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I love ponchos. They’re an ideal accompaniment to any outfit and I just think they’re simply the perfect piece of clothing. There was one autumn / winter, around 2006, when I lived in a poncho. I purchased the said poncho for about $15 at a very unsexy shop (it might have been Target) and I wore it every. single. day, and didn’t take it off until spring. It was a perfect wrap to wear over whatever I was wearing that day to keep me warm and comfy at the office, but perhaps the main reason for my poncho obsession is that it covers my problem areas like my arms and stomach beautifully, without having to hide behind an oversize and often unflattering sweater.

I actually didn’t intend to knit a poncho when I first casted this project onto the knitting needles. I was going to make yet another lacy scarf but realized that I was over scarves. I wanted something different and decided to stitch the two sides together and make a poncho instead!

So here it is – my first project of the new year!

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pink lineHow to Knit a Lace Poncho

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This pattern was inspired by Debbie Bliss’ Lacy Scarf.  I doubled the number of stitches to make the piece wider and turned it into a poncho by sewing two sides together. 

Supplies needed:

  • A pair of size 6 (US) knitting needles. I used Addi Turbo circular needle in size 6.  I love Addi because it really helps speed up my knitting!
  • 3 skeins of yanrs, at 50 grams each. I used Cascade 200 Sport in Orange Sherbet (7825) that I purchased from WEBS yarns.  
  • Tapestry needle for binding and sewing two sides together

Techniques used:

I would say that the level of difficulty for this project is “easy,” but if you’re not sure of any of these techniques below, I recommend you checking out Youtube for wonderful tutorials.  I’m a self-taught knitter, and I could have never done it without the tutelage of amazing online teachers!  

  • Cast on
  • Knit
  • Purl
  • k2tog (knit 2 together)
  • YO (yarn over)
  • Bind off
  • Blocking
  • Mattress stitch seaming

Instruction:

Using size 6 (US) needles, cast on 76 stitches.

Row 1: Knit
Row 2: Purl
Row 3: * Knit (1 time), [k2tog] (3 times), [yo, k] (6 times), [k2tog] (6 times), [yo, k] (6 times), [k2tog] (3 times), knit (1 time). Repeat from * one time.
Row 4: Knit

stitchRepeat these 4 rows until it measures about 45 inches (three skeins of yarns). Bind off.

Note:  If you want a smaller poncho that doesn’t fall off your shoulders, simply make it shorter.  Try it on as you knit, so you can make a desired length / size.  Also note that the garment stretches significantly when you block so it’s important to take that into consideration.  One more thing — bind off very loosely; otherwise, it becomes hell when you try to mattress stitch a very tight piece. 

Block the piece, if using wool yarns.

Note:  I recommend that you don’t skip this step.  Blocking your finished project is not my favorite part of the process, but it makes all the difference in the finished product, especially in lace knitting.  Blocking will help define the intricacy of the lace and makes the piece look more sophisticated and professional.

Using the tapestry needle, mattress stitch the pieces as shown on right.

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I’m so in love with this poncho.  I can see myself wearing it all the time, both inside the house and when going out.  I’ve always liked orange and I especially love this hue. I like how the yarn drapes nicely on the back too!

I hope you give this pattern a try, and let me know how it turns out!

poncho 4Looking forward to crafting wonderful projects in 2014!

Updated: Another poncho in beautiful Cerise. smile

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A Love Affair with Scarves

I’ve been having a love affair with scarves lately.  I spend hours gazing through the Hermes website, drooling over its legendary collection of stunning (and expensive!) silk scarves, in hopes of one day be able to 1. afford them, and 2. become someone who can actually sport them without looking unmatched by their presence.  I was so close to purchasing one the other day but stopped, and decided to give myself time to grow into an Hermes-worthy person.

To me, a woman who is deserving of wrapping these silky luxury around her neck is someone who is poise, sophisticated, confident, and stylish, like many French women.  I’m not there yet – but hopeful that I’ll get there someday!

In the meantime, I’ll enjoy the hand-knit wool kind like this lacy scarf  (this is a same one that I made for Maya last year but in a deep red color called Ginger) and learn all the creative ways to tie them around my neck.  And the best part?  Because these Cascade 200 Superwash Sport yarns were on sale for $4.69 / skein at WEBS, I whipped this up for less than $20 — compared to Hermes’ $410 (for 36″ x 36″)!  lol

Simple Slip Knot:  Double up your scarf and wrap it around the back of your neck. Then, slip both ends of the scarf into the loop.

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Double Loop Wrap:  Start with the middle of your scarf on the back of yourneck. Loop the ends of the scarf around and back to the front. Tie the two ends together with a simple tie to make the second layer. 

(From The Fashion Spot, 15 Chic and Creative Ways to Tie a Scarf). 

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I absolutely love that this scarf doubles as a shawl!

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pink lineGreen Smoothie Updatepink line

Day 2 — success!

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Peach Green Smoothie
(2 servings)

2 cups fresh spinach
1 large fresh kale leaf
1 cup coconut water
2 cups frozen peach

This one tasted a tad more “leafy” than the pineapple version from yesterday but the subtle sweetness from frozen peaches made the drink very easy to drink.