She Knits: Soli Deo Gloria Shawl

This is a beaded shawl I knit for my sister-in-law’s birthday. I believe she is the sort of person to wear something like this. Also, she is likely familiar with blocking, or at least, it won’t be completely foreign to her. I hope she enjoys this because I certainly had fun knitting it!

Progression Info
Started – January 11
Completed – April 11
Duration – 90 days = 12.9 weeks

This SIL has a birthday in July, but counting potential mailing time, I gave myself an end-of-June deadline. I expected this would take many months, so started it right away when the yarn came in the mail.

I think I could have knit it in a month, if I did not have children. 🙂 I couldn’t knit much on it when they were around because it is a more complicated lace design that I could not easily put aside and pick back up in the middle of a row. So I mostly knit on it during nap times and after their bedtime. But even still, I finished it surprisingly fast. Some say I am a fast knitter, and after this project, I finally started to believe them!

Pattern Info
Soli Deo Gloria Lace Shawl by Anna Victoria
Ravelry

This is a wonderful shawl design. I found it difficult in that I could not see a rhyme or reason to the lace. Each right side row required my full attention. I made several mistakes in the beginning (trying to knit it with kids around), which were difficult to correct.

The entire shawl is designed to be beaded. I didn’t want to bead the whole thing, though, so I only used beads on the last 2 charts (near the bottom edge). I ended up using roughly 30 grams of Miyuki 6/0 seed beads. I used crystal beads that are lined with pewter inside. I love how they look against the red yarn. I put them on with a small steel crochet hook. It was tedious, but enjoyable to me.

The knitting actually became easier at the point I started beading because the beads made it really easy to “read” my knitting. I made fewer mistakes at that point, so I don’t think the beading slowed me down at all.

Yarn Info
Cascade Yarns 220 Fingering
100% wool
Colorway: burgundy
2 skeins = 546.8 yds used

I used about every inch of this yarn; only a  tiny ball left. I like it — it is comparable, in my opinion, to the Knit Picks Palette I frequently use. It is a light fingering weight, which is thicker than I have ever used for lace shawls (I have only used lace weight).

Photos

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She Knits: ‘First Snow’ Baby Set

This was a fun project — I enjoyed every stage. Choosing the pattern, yarn, and colors. The plain, quick knitting. The more challenging, tedious colorwork. Even the sewing up/finishing. I was a little sad to be finished, actually. It is not often I enjoy a project so much.

This set is for a new nephew due in May.

Progression Info
Started – January 17
Completed – February 1
Duration – 15 days = 2.1 weeks

I knitted on the sweater from January 17 – 23 (just 6 days!). Then the socks for 3 days (Jan 27 – 30). And the hat for 2 days (Jan 30 – Feb 1). So fast! And I was sad it went so quickly.

Funny story — I actually knit this hat twice. The first time, I used the size in the pattern I had used for the other two pieces. I knit the entire hat, had woven in all those tails/ends, and finally realized… it was way too small. I think I knew this as I was working on it, but foolishly hoped my mind was tricking me. Anyway, I measured it, and it measured closer to a preemie size than a 6/9 month! I was frustrated, so I put it aside and made the socks. Then began the hat again before ripping out the first too-small one. I ran out of green yarn with just a few rounds of the top crown to go on the new hat. So I had to rip out the too-small one, which took about an hour, just for maybe a half-dozen yards of yarn to finish the new hat! Lesson learned: check gauge and sizing throughout the project, not just at the end!

Pattern Info
B19-2 First Snow by DROPS design

I knew I wanted to do something “fancier” than a plain baby sweater, so I searched specifically for ones incorporating stranded colorwork. I loved this one the moment I saw it. It is simple, yet charming, and so cute.

Many people don’t care for DROPS design patterns, but I keep returning to them. I guess I am a fan, now, having knit 6 of their patterns. They are challenging because the instructions are not line-by-line, they are concise. There is a lot of instruction that happens “AT THE SAME TIME”, decreasing/increasing is not spelled out (the pattern may say “decrease 14 stitches evenly across the row” instead of “K2,*K2tog, K7* repeat * to * 13 more times, K2”, for example), and there are no (or few) row numbers given (everything is worked to some given measurement, like 2 inches from the cast-on edge, for example). The patterns are written in paragraph form, instead of list-form as is more common, and so the knitter is faced with a huge block of text with lots of numbers and words and CAPITAL LETTERS and — whew! it is daunting.

However, these are the reasons I like these patterns! Concise instruction, no hand-holding, and lovely finished garments.

do find their sizing labels to be somewhat off from what I would expect. And it is is crucial to check gauge. The needle size is always far off from what I need to use to make gauge (which just means the designer knits with a different tension than me). Also, matching yarns can be difficult — the patterns are designed to use DROPS brand yarns and it is sometimes a challenge to find a similar weight of yarn that knits to the same gauge and gives a similar-looking fabric. Sorry if that sounds like gibberish. 🙂

This pattern, however, was very good. I think anyone familiar with knitting and stranded colorwork could easily knit this pattern. Some of the stranding does happen on the purl side because the sweater is knit flat. That may be new even for experienced stranded knitters because most stranded knitting is done in-the-round so that the right side is always facing the knitter and no purl stitches have to be worked in the contrasting color.

I used my finger yarn guide (for keeping the colors evenly tensioned on my left hand) while working the right side rows, but I could not purl with it on. So for the wrong side rows (all purl stitches), I used a two-handed colorwork technique. I purled the main color with my left hand (Continental/picking style; this is how I usually knit) and the contrasting color with my right (English/throwing style). It was awkward at first, and more difficult to achieve even tension across the row (my floats were tighter on wrong side rows), but it did work. I should work more flat stranded colorwork so I can practice the two-handed technique more. 🙂

Sweater Notes

  • I omitted the shawl collar (most babies don’t have enough room between chin and chest for a shawl collar!) by working the ribbing decreases, then binding off.
  • I didn’t think to do it this time, but if I knit this again, I would add 2-4 stitches to the cast-on in order to have a main color “buffer” of 1-2 stitches on each side of the button band. The colorwork butts right up against the band and those edge stitches are tricky to tension properly. I think it would be even better to omit the button band stitches from the cast-on, but add 4 stitches, so that there are 2 “edge” stitches on each end of the work. When the knitting is done, I would pick up and knit the button bands, which would use up one of those edge stitches per side, and would leave a one-stitch “buffer” between the colorwork and the button bands. You know, if I ever knit this again… 😉
  • I used this website for calculating how to decrease evenly across the row. It is excellent, and I can’t believe I didn’t look for something like that before!

Sock Notes

  • When knitting the heel flap, I slipped the first stitch of each row to create a slipped-stitch selvedge for easier picking up later on.
  • On the second sock, I moved the heel stitches to the last 17 stitches of the round to make them symmetrical. There is a slight jog in the colorwork at the start of the round, so I wanted those round beginnings to be able to go “inside” the leg.
  • I wish the leg were shorter. If I knit this again, I would only knit one repeat of the diamond “snow” colorwork design on the cuff and would omit the few plain stockinette rounds between the colorwork and the start of the heel flap.

Hat Notes

  • The shape of the hat is a little weird when laid flat, as in the pictures. The decreases are broken up by the colorwork. But I expect it will look fine on a baby’s head. 🙂
  • I didn’t knit as long a cuff of ribbing as the pattern indicated. It asked for 2″ and I only knit 1″. I was trying to conserve the green yarn to avoid having to rip out the too-small hat… but my efforts were futile. I think it looks OK with a shorter rib, though.

I made the “6/9 months” size, but my gauge was slightly tighter, so I think it came out to be closer to a 6 month size. I was aiming for having it fit next winter, but with all the sizes babies come in, who knows. 😀

Yarn Info
Knit Picks Swish DK
100% superwash merino wool
Colorway – Marble Heather (gray)
2.4 skeins = 295.2 yds used
Colorway – Marine Heather (blue)
0.68 skeins = 83.6 yds used
Colorway – Green Tea Heather
0.4 skeins = 49.2 yds used
Colorway – White
0.08 skeins = 9.84 yds used
Total yards used = 437.8

This yarn is wonderful. It is very, very soft and vibrantly colored. It is superwash wool, meaning it can be run through the delicate cycle of the washing machine and even machine dried on low heat. I have heard some horror stories of projects made with superwash wool yarns needing to be machine-dried, otherwise they stretch terribly out of shape and grow several inches, if air-dried. I “tested” these items by running them through the washing machine on a cold delicates cycle in garment bags, then laying flat to dry on a towel. They did not become at all misshapen or over-stretched. I am very pleased about this and would use this yarn again, especially for baby items.

I enjoyed the process of choosing the colors for these projects. I only bought yarn for the sweater, but had enough of the contrasting colors to also do the hat and socks, provided I used a CC for the main color of the accessories. I think it makes the set very fun, with the different colors emphasized in the accessories. I chose these colors based on a board from the expectant mother’s Pinterest page. 🙂 I love Pinterest. I did not find exact matches to the paint swatches she had pinned there, but the overall scheme is very similar. I hope she likes it.

Photos

She Knits: Julius’ Booties

My sister mentioned that my nephew could probably use some booties. Can’t leave a knitter’s nephew hangin’ like that! I knit this for his birthday, which is coming up soon.

Progression Info
Started – February 1
Completed – February 5
Duration – 4 days = 0.6 weeks

Pattern Info
B25-25 First Impression Booties by DROPS design

DROPS design again… 🙂 Simple, sweet booties. I found them to have an interesting construction — they are knit flat and seamed. The only modification I made was to use Kitchener stitch to seam the soles, instead of binding off and using mattress stitch. I did have to use mattress stitch to seam the backs of the cuffs.

My gauge was likely off because I think they came out a bit large. But that just means they will fit longer. Thankfully, baby feet grow instead of shrink! If I knit this again, I would be more careful about gauge.

Yarn Info
Knit Picks Brava Sport
100% acrylic
Colorway – 25670 Umber Heather

0.37 skeins = 101.2 yds used 

I am not a fan of this yarn. It was scratchy and rough out of the skein. It softened slightly with the first wash — I hope it continues to soften with repeated washing. The quality appears on par with any sport weight (typically labeled “baby” on big brand names) available at big-box stores. In fact, I think the brand Bernat Baby Sport is actually softer than this yarn. I will use that next time I want sport weight acrylic!

Photo

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She Knits: Cotton Candy Mitts

Someone requested mitts like the ones I made my niece for Christmas.

Progression Info
Started – January 12
Completed – January 17
Duration – 5 days = 0.7 weeks

Pattern Info
Irish Hiking Mitts by Karin Michele
Ravelry

As with the last mitts, I crossed the cables the other direction on the second mitt. I knit these two-at-a-time (TAAT) on one circular needle. It was fiddly, but I wanted the practice.

Yarn Info
Knit Picks Mighty Stitch
80% acrylic, 20% wool
Colorway – 26823 Cotton Candy
0.41 skeins = 85.3 yds used

This yarn is OK. It doesn’t seem to be any better quality than the wool/acrylic blends found in big-box craft stores. And it has an odd sheen to it, which reminds me of the acrylic yarn Simply Soft by Caron. It is not *bad*, but not something I like very much.

Photos


She Knits: Fancy Legwarmies

I knit a pair of legwarmers for my nephew for Christmas. I had planned to knit two pair, but wanted to be sure they would fit. So this is the second pair I “owed” him. 🙂 I made these fancy, with a simple cable design.

Progression Info
Started – January 3
Completed – January 8
Duration – 5 days = 0.7 weeks

Pattern Info
Legwarmies by Alana Dakos
Ravelry

I made them a smaller diameter by casting on 40 stitches, then I knit 10 rounds in 1×1 ribbing.

The cable design is made of two rounds, plain and cabled.

Plain round: *K2, P1, K4, P1, K2* repeat round 4 times
Cable round: *K2, P1, C2F, P1, K2* repeat around 4 times

After the ribbing, I knit 2 plain rounds, then a cable round. Then 9 plain rounds, then 1 cable round; repeat.

Yarn Info
Scheepjes Stone Washed
Colorway – 805 Blue Apatite
1 skein = 142.2 yds used

Photos

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