Archive for the ‘FOs’ Category

Moody House

I don’t know about you, but this time of year makes me only want to knit hats and mittens. I have four sweaters, all nearly completed, stewing in my progress basket for now, having been utterly and completely abandoned for hats and mittens. Looking back through my archive, it appears I write this same thing year after year. Now that my mind has been thoroughly overrun with medical facts, jargon, and clinical vignettes, perhaps this year’s accessory fever post will read somewhat differently.

The patient, a knitter of 11 years, presents today with a chief complaint of knitted accessory fever of four weeks’ duration. Physical exam is significant for a high grade fever related to stashbusting hats and mittens, general malaise regarding non-accessory knits, and deep somnolence with respect to hand knitted sweaters.  The patient reports experiencing similar episodes annually beginning in mid-November, lasting approximately nine weeks, and breaking by late January.  Symptoms are exacerbated by Ravelry, pinterest, and Twitter; ameliorated by complete disconnection from the internet. Patient experiences grave lack of focus, and is unable to concentrate on work. She denies fatigue, reports boundless energy, dreams of wool, and urgent desire to knit all the things.

While I come to terms with my mitten frenzy, have a look at my newest accessory designs, the Moody House set. Knitted in The Plucky Knitter’s Primo! Worsted, these are a dream to both knit and wear. Sarah’s dyes are stunning, both in depth and saturation. I cannot wait to plan some more projects with her yarns!

The Moody House hat and mitten patterns are each available on Ravelry for $6.00, the set containing both patterns is available for $9.00.

Until this fever breaks, stay tuned for more obsessively knitted winter accessories!

Soleus

Hey! Are you still there? Well, so am I. Do you still knit? What do you know? Me too! My first year of medical school took me away from this space too much; I hope things will be different this next year. Nevertheless, would you believe I knitted 12 sweaters, 5 pairs of socks, 4 pairs of mittens, 2 hats, 3 lace stoles, and a blanket since we last spoke? I just haven’t had much time to post about them. All in time, of course.

I thought my first post back should reflect how I’ve spent my time lately, so I’d like to share a sock pattern I worked up while studying.

Named for the calf muscle, Soleus is the first in a series of patterns with an anatomical theme. The pattern is available for free on Ravelry.

In addition to playing around with a new naming scheme, I’ve had the pleasure to collaborate with two fabulous designers on a collection coming out this fall. Amy Herzog and Kirsten Kapur, and I have joined forces as the BHK Cooperative. Our first project, the Charles Collection, will be appearing in a few weeks. Inspired by and set in the knitterly city of Boston, the collection features flattering sweaters and accessories in classic styles, all photographed by the talented Caro Sheridan. Here is a little preview!

Forest Mushroom Mittens

All of my favorite knitting books follow the people’s history of the craft. Michael Pearson’s Traditional Knitting is, as far as I’m concerned, the best social history of knitting ever written. Nearly all the others on my list of top knitting books are primarily concerned with mittens: Latvian Mittens by Lizbeth Upitis, Folk Knitting in Estonia by Nancy Bush, Selbuvotter by Terri Shea, Mostly Mittens by Charlene Schurch, Folk Mittens by Marcia Lewandowski, Magnificent Mittens & Socks by Anna Zilboorg, Favorite Mittens by Robin Hansen. And what about the Ukrainian folk story, The Mitten?

I love mittens with a story, don’t you? Mittens are the most fascinating article of knitted apparel because no matter where they come from, they always seem to reflect the cultural and religious values of those who wore them. As contemporary knitters, we have lost track of the tradition of our craft. We knit for enjoyment, for fashion, to make gifts for friends and family; we drift from stockinette to cables to fair isle and back again, dabbling in all sorts of styles and techniques along the way with little regard to those who came before us. People like Lizbeth Upitis and Nancy Bush bring us back to the roots of our craft with their research in the folk art of the humble mitten.

Last winter, while rereading Lizbeth Upitis’ book, I followed a footnote to the text Latviesu cimdu raksti. Ornaments in Latvian gloves and mittens, by Irma Lesina, a text Upitis noted had many wonderful plates of mitten designs. Published by a small Nebraskan press in 1969, the book was long out-of-print. In fact, there were so few copies left in circulation that it took my university’s inter-library loan service a month to track down a Canadian copy for me; needless to say, it was most certainly worth the wait!

I pored over hundreds of traditional designs from Kurzeme, Latgale, Vidzeme, and Zemgale, recharting many stitch patterns that interested me. I created a large Excel file of stitch patterns, mixing and matching different ones as I went along. I remained faithful to regional distinctions, trying only to pair up patterns originating in the same region.

Copyright Jane Heller

Copyright Jane Heller

My Forest Mushroom design in Twist Collective Winter 2010 (Ravelry link) is one of the fruits of this lovely labor, combining several different motifs from the Kurzeme region of Latvia to be knitted with more contemporary colors at modern gauges.

Copyright Jane Heller

Copyright Jane Heller

The cuff is elaborately detailed and includes three distinctive brown and white braids before breaking into the mushroom-like pattern of the upper mitten. Unlike a traditional Latvian mitten, the top rounds off instead of coming to a hard point.

The peasant thumb is placed with waste yarn and knitted in the mushroom pattern to blend in with the mitten body.

Some designs you love more than others and these are one of my favorites; they combine everything I love about knitting: gorgeous colors, Latvian braids, long mitten cuffs, and old, complex, crafting traditions. Every knitter needs to make a pair of Latvian mittens in his or her knitting life, perhaps these will be yours!

The pattern is available at Twist Collective for $6.00.

Exercise Before Knitting Gifts

Exercise Before Knitting Gifts? Yes, go out for a little jog before committing to that queen-sized afghan for your cousin’s child’s girlfriend’s dorm room! Or, use the coupon code EXERCISEBEFOREKNITTINGGIFTS in my Ravelry pattern shop to buy 2 patterns and receive the 3rd free! The promotion will end 12/31/2010.

Otherwise, check out the Holiday and Winter issues of Interweave Knits for some new Exercise Before Knitting designs. These two colorwork patterns for Interweave Knits Holiday were inspired by that old Latvian mitten book I found last year.

Copyright Interweave Knits

Copyright Interweave Knits

Slanted Peerie Mittens feature a more unusual stranded pattern, one that moves diagonally across the fabric. The design reminded me of ribbons and wrapping paper, a good motif for the holidays. Although these have three different colors of yarn, the little bits of red are actually duplicate stitched on once the knitting is completed.

Copyright Interweave Knits

Copyright Interweave Knits

Parallax Hat came about as I went looking for an easy stranded pattern to work at worsted weight into a pointy little elf-like cap. I am mad for the spiral top on hats in general, and I think it looks even better in colorwork. Consequently, I made the two-color spiral the heart of the design, then worked out the rest from there.

Tuckernuck Cardigan, a baby/child (3 mos – 5 yrs) pattern appearing in Interweave Knits Winter 2010, comes with a bit of history.

Copyright Interweave Knits

Copyright Interweave Knits

While we impatiently awaited the arrival of baby #2 this time last fall, I thought I would pass the time in part by knitting Beatrix a big sister sweater with lots of lovely cables. Intending to self-publish the finished product, I sketched out the design, set up a spreadsheet, planned a list of sizes, and then powered through the knitting. Baby Odysseus interrupted my seaming, so this sat untouched for a few months. I finished it just as I was packing away our winter woolens. When someone from Interweave asked if I had any children’s patterns for Winter 2010, I sent off my sketches.

Normally, I dread selecting buttons because I have an incredible knack for making extremely poor button choices. One of my coping strategies is to ask other shoppers in the store what they think of my button choice. Did you know most knitters and sewers love choosing buttons? They do. AND they’re usually quite good at it, don’t you think? These particular buttons pleased me very much. They look great with the gray yarn, and don’t detract from the cables at all.

I realize many people do not want to think about baby or kids’ patterns, but I maintain the set-in sleeve is worth the (small) trouble. Well fitting knits look great on children, don’t you think?

Stay tuned for some more gift ideas, namely a pair of Latvian-inspired mittens from Twist Collective!

Striping my stash

I love to knit from my stash, and not just from any part of it: I love knitting from the littlest bits and bobs kicking around in the corners. The partial skeins, the lone discontinued yarns and colors. Better yet, I love using up all those scraps to produce a piece for which I might have easily bought yarn, not just one which provides good way to use up old yarn. You could say I can get a bit obsessive about making sure my stashbusters can stand on their own merits. Remember the Ultimate Stashbuster Vest?

Ah, yes, that was a fun one! Although I would love nothing more than to dive into an all-consuming fair isle garment right now, I’ll save that for winter break. Until then, I’m happily knitting along, striping my way through life. Inspired by these lovely socks, I’m calling this pair “Never Enough Chocolate” because they remind me of Neapolitan ice cream, which always seemed to me to have far too much vanilla and strawberry. I had lots of pink and white yarn going into this, but not much brown. To completely use up three colors required some weighing and a lovely little bit of algebra (of which the striping pattern is the result), but it worked! I have absolutely nothing left.

Next, as I mentioned this summer, I needed a good baby sweater for my new (and first!) niece, Amelia. What better than to knit up a Budgie, since O wears his – the one grumperina sent him – all the time? He wears his Budgie with the balaclava osloann sent him in part for warmth, and in part so general public will know he is loved by knitterly peoples. Can you tell?

I had to change the striping pattern on Amelia’s Budgie because I had unequal amounts of yarn, and I substituted buttons for the zipper because Amelia will outgrow this long before she identifies buttons as potential food. Otherwise, as always, I did everything grumperina told me to do, and it’s perfect! Of course! Several years ago, Maritza and I joked about having, “What Would grumperina Do?” t-shirts made. It is a question that runs through my mind when I’m unsure about a project. The answer, of course, is to rip. Always. I wonder from how many hours of unhappy knitting she’s saved me???

Finally, in the last bit of striping, I slowly eked out another pair of socks, combining leftovers from my Mill Creek Cowl together with Drunken Bee Sock scraps. I thought this color pairing would be rather unsightly, but they look much nicer than I had expected; I like this mix a lot!

With these two pairs of socks, I scraped the bottom of the barrel of my sock yarn stash. All that remains is a Koigu partial and a darning’s worth in other colors. I once had sock yarn enough for 21 pairs, and now I have nothing but a lot of finished socks! What a great feeling!

I’m a bit behind here, so expect to see something soon about some of my newest works in Interweave Knits Holiday and Winter, as well as Twist Collective Winter. In the meantime, here is a preview of a new design I’m just finishing up: