Archive for the ‘stranded’ 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!

AccessoryFest 2010: Helping Hands Mittens

1960s Wool Plaid Mittens

These started as a stashbuster but at the urging of several friends, I wrote up the pattern to contribute to the Help for Haiti effort on Ravelry. I will donate all proceeds of the mitten sales to Haitian relief efforts for as long as the pattern is available. To be honest, I feel conflicted about urging people to buy things because portions of pattern sales will go to charity. If the cause is compelling, we should not be goaded into supporting it with cheap or free items. Perhaps I sound cynical; I do not mean to be. All I’m saying is that the best way for any of us to help in the earthquake relief and rebuilding efforts in Haiti is to give directly to reputable aid organizations doing good work. Buy my mitten pattern if you like the mittens, but if you really want to help, bypass me and give directly to aid organizations now. And, perhaps more importantly, give again in March. And in July. And in September. And in 2011 and 2012.

And of course, enjoy the mittens!

This pattern is available as a Ravelry download for $6.00. For the lifetime of the pattern, all proceeds will be donated monthly to Partners in Health’s Stand With Haiti campaign.

1960s Wool Plaid Mittens

Difficulty

Intermediate

Skills used

Reading a chart, knitting in the round, knitting with two colors, increasing, decreasing, picking up stitches.

Sizes

S (M, L)

Model shown in size S.

Finished measurements

Circumference: 7.25 (8.5, 9.75)”
Length: 8.5 (9.5, 10.5)”
Thumb top length: 2 (2.5, 3)”

Gauge

26 stitches and 28 rounds = 4″ in stranded stitch pattern on US 6 (4 mm) needles

1960s Wool Plaid Mittens

Yarn

Berroco Ultra Alpaca [50% alpaca, 50% wool; 215 yd (197 m); 100 g skein]; color: #6289 Charcoal Mix (MC), #6201 Winter White (CC1), #6234 Cardinal (CC2), #6294 Turquoise Mix (CC3), 1 skein each.

Needles

US 6 (4 mm) circular needle, 32″ long or 1 set US 6 (4 mm) DPNs

Notions

Stitch markers
Waste yarn
Tapestry needle

1960s Wool Plaid Mittens