Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Heathered Bella Mittens

After I made a pair of Bella mittens (as seen in the movie Twilight- but I just liked the pattern), my friend Heather saw them and immediately asked for a pair. It's been awhile since her request, and during my before-Christmas knitting frenzy I churned out a pair of them in a week for her Christmas present.
Specs: Pattern is Bella's Mittens, found on Marielle's blog. Knit with Cascade 220 in gray (I'd say more "heathered gray" for my friend Heather- aaaahaha).
Modifications- instead of knitting them in the bulky weight that they ask for, I use two strands of worsted weight in the Cascade. This results in a nice thick mitten that is very warm and on the most part wind-resistant. I use mine when bike commuting in the spring and fall, because they keep my hands warm from the chilly wind but let in enough air that I'm not sweltering.
Best part of the pattern: Can you guess? Definitely the cable pattern. I also like how fast they knit up once you get going on them.
Worst part: For some reason, the top closed weird on one of the mittens. I didn't even notice that it was weird until I was playing in the snow and noticed that it looked odder than it normally should. It's fine, but it bugs me that it's not perfectly what I want. Also, if these mittens were going to be made for someone with bigger hands, they might need to be stretched as they're snug when first knit. Mine broke in pretty fast though. :)
Heather really liked them, and because I knit them during my family's Christmas I already have another request from a small cousin for a pair. Easy to make for presents...
Hope everyone is having a fantastic Holiday break; I know I'm enjoying it! :)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Burnt Knotts

I've finally been able to sit back and relax for a couple of days after a crazy end of the semester, followed by an even crazier family Christmas. I still have grading to finish up, but it's not as formidable as it seemed at the end of the semester in the middle of all the end-of-semester craziness.
I also knit like mad starting the last week of the semester in order to get ready for Christmas. One of those projects was a hat for Tyler- both yarn and pattern picked out by him a bit ago. I was able to finish it pretty quickly, and I really enjoy the look of the finished product!
Pattern was Knotty but Nice from Knitty's winter catalogue, knit in a skein of good ol' Cascade 220 in a pretty burnt orange color. Modifications include adding enough ribbing at the bottom of the hat for a brim. The pattern calls for 1.25'' of ribbing before starting the cable work, and instead I knit 2.75''- enough for a nice big brim.
Best part of knitting the hat: My soft spot with all cable work- seeing the cables take shape under my fingers. There's something magical about watching the yarn twist and twine every single row, forming really pretty patterns. And the orange color gives the cables really good definition.
Worst part of the hat: When it was done, I wasn't a huge fan of how much room was created in the top of the hat due to the decreases. Tyler really liked it, so since he's the recipient I suppose it didn't really matter what I like in my own hats. :) If I made another one for me, I'd probably muddle with the decreases not to have that peak in the hat, but he likes it so... there it is.
He's headed to Ouray, Colorado for ice climbing next week while I work on my thesis paper and start studying for my final exams. I'm a little jealous, but it'll save my sanity later this semester. I may have a very large trip in the planning stages for after graduation, but I'm not going to announce anything until it's solidified. ;)
Off to get more coffee and finish grading papers. I'm really excited to just be done with them... uff-da...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Almost Here...

The semester is almost over for me at school. I have one last round of grading to finish and I can close the books on classes for the semester. That doesn't mean I have lots of down time during break- I'll be hitting the books hard to begin to prepare for my spring MA exams. But I do plan on taking a couple of days here to just sit back, watch some movies, do some crafts, make christmas cookies, and maybe even read a book for fun. :)
Today was a great day to stay in and grade, because starting last night Duluth got dumped on- a foot of snow by morning and it just kept coming!
I went out to go climbing mid-afternoon, and spent a futile twenty minutes digging out my car from the abyss it was hiding under before taking a ride from a friend with a truck sporting 4-wheel drive. Probably a better idea than attempting to drive in this crazy weather.
Hopefully by this time tomorrow night I'll be celebrating the end of the semester, but until then, I'm going to make some hot apple cider, throw in a stick of cinnamon, and hunker down with papers as the snow continues to pile up outside my window.

...oh, and first one to mention how many knitting projects I have to finish before Christmas in four days gets their nose bopped in.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Colorblind Thorpe

The temperature up here in Duluth rocketed below zero this weekend, bringing cold winds and freezing your eyelashes together when your eyes watered too much. It was a good thing I finished a hat for my friend!
The giganto-stretch block that I did fit him perfectly with the lining sewn in, which will help keep those sub-zero winds away on his walk to school. He cooperated in a photo shoot this afternoon despite the single digit temperatures.
Specs on the hat: Made it with the Thorpe pattern (Ravelry link- this is becoming a favorite pattern for gifting!) using Reynolds Lopi wool- discontinued now, though super warm. Knit in size large, then blocked to make it XL. I lined the inside and the earflaps with some regular black fleece to keep it wind-proof.
I'm really enjoying doing the garter stitch on the bottom half of the hat- it balances it out. Modifications for me include making long I-cords for the ties using three of the live stitches from each of the earflaps instead of picking up stitches or braiding or whatever the original called for. Keeps the hat in balance.
I managed to hold back from embroidering a number in the side of the hat in green or red- my friend is colorblind, so I don't think he would have noticed. It would have been a fun experiment, though... ;)
I really can't show much else that I've been working on because of their Christmas-y statuses, but I can share my new project for myself- a simple vest to wear in these chilly months of the year that can go over a button up shirt and still be teacher-like.
I knit a gauge swatch (gasp!) for it yesterday in a pretty light purple (Cascade 220) and I'm working on it here and there in between grading, creating two exams, studying for my own exam, and all the other things going on. It's good to have a little thing like that to work on, though. Plus it'll work great as my bus/watching presentations/movie watching knitting.
Off to make some hot cocoa to combat the cold raging outside.
Stay warm, everyone. :)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

First for Everything

I finished the Thorpe hat for my colorblind friend, excited to get another hat out as Christmas closes in on me. I stopped by his house yesterday to have him try it on, just to be sure it was a good fit before I lined it with fleece to block wind.
Now, know that he told me to make the biggest size possible because he had a large head. I laughed it off, believing that he was probably exaggerating. When he reiterated that I shouldn't underestimate the sheer size of his cranium, I decided just for kicks to make his hat in the size I made for my friend Pete- a guy with a large head and had a full head of dreadlocks that fit easily in the absolute biggest size hat when I made him his own Thorpe. I figured I would make the same hat- same huge size- then have to shrink this new hat to make my point: do not second guess the knitter.
Well, he tried it on- and it was snug. Bah!
Without the lining, it (barely) fit perfectly. I couldn't believe it- his head really was massive! He wasn't exaggerating! I shouldn't have second guessed him!
So now, for the first time ever...
I'm blocking a hat.
Who knew it would come to this?
While this one dries, I've already started on the next hat and a secret project or two as Christmas creeps steadily closer. I've been in denial how fast time is going, which is proving to be inconvenient as the 2-weeks-to-xmas deadline looms ever closer. Luckily, I started this hat yesterday:
and it's already proving to be a fast knit.
I'm hoping that the rest of my knitting presents magically appear this fast. :)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


The last few weeks since Thanksgiving have been very chaotic. Between finishing up classes, grading up the wazoo, dance classes and attempting to wrap my mind around a family tragedy, I have barely been able to keep myself fed properly, much less get along with my crafty projects. I was able to find time to finish up a pair of mittens for a close friend in need.
My buddy works at a school that's only a couple miles from his house, so he walks every single day there. Problem is, he hasn't owned a good pair of mittens or gloves to keep him warm on his hike. When I found out he was using a cheap $2 pair of cotton gloves from Target, I immediately pulled out the pattern for my double-layer mittens and got to work.
These knit up quickly with the hard-working Cascade 220 as the outside layer in a heather gray, and the Classic Elite Yarns Fresco (60% wool, 30% alpaca and 10% angora) as the warm fuzzy layer on the inside in forest green. He's reported great success, and immediately was able to put them to the test in the cold Minnesota weather in fixing a flat tire!
I'm knitting him a Thorpe hat that's almost done out of warm Icelandic wool before I feel like my knitterly duties are done. More details on that soon.
For now, back to grading, attempting to stay healthy, and thinking about family stuff. My aunt passed away this past weekend from ovarian cancer, so any thoughts or prayers for her family would be appreciated. Funeral's this weekend, so I'm going to be a bit preoccupied. I'm probably going to distract myself with finishing the yolk on my Vivian sweater- I tend to take things out on my knitting.
Until later...