January? I hardly knew ya and now in marches February, all brash and bold and blizzard-brained. Good thing I was well-stocked with yarn and Diet Coke because knitting definitely took place even though there’s no bloggish evidence.
Exhibit One: Leah’s Baby Jumper. Seven pound Leah was born December 31st. Leah is my friend Stacy’s first child and I just had to make sure she started the New Year right with her very first hand knit.
Yarn: Rowan Polar (discontinued) in pale blue; used a skosh over 1 skein
Needles: Size 13 US
Notions: One yard of .5 inch velvet ribbon in French blue from M&J Trimming I love this store for buttons, trims – almost any embellishment.
Since Polar is not quite as bulky as the Blue Sky Alpacas yarn called for in the pattern, I made up the difference by using smaller needles (size 13 instead of 17) and casting on more stitches for the size 1 jumper (66 stitches instead of 60).
Exhibits Two and Three: Tweed Houndstooth Mittens and Seedy Alpaca Mittens. I jumped-started my January knitting by signing up for a Mitten Knit-along on Ravelry. I wanted to do at least one pair and decided to challenge myself by creating mittens I’d only seen in my imagination.
Yarn: Rowan Felted Tweed in Rage, less than 1 skein; Beaverslide 1-ply light sport weight in Mountain Midnight.
Needles: Size 3US Addi circulars
Pattern: My own
This was a fun one – a bit frustrating at first but ultimately a real learning experience. Some time ago, I’d done a swatch of houndstooth from Book One of Barbara Walker’s stitch dictionaries. The problem with this fantastic resource is that the stitch patterns are not written with circular knitting in mind. My first lesson from this project was to convert one of the simpler stitch patterns. I chose “Houndstooth Check” on page 90 . For me, the key to successful conversion lies in 1) picking a pattern that doesn’t require more than one type of wrong-side stitch and 2) being able to “read the knitting” and chart it. Others say that you merely knit the purls and purl the knits to replicate the wrong-side with only right-side knitting.
Circular version: D = dark color. L = light color.
Row 1 D1, L1, D2
Row 2 D1, L3
Row 3 L3, D1
Row 4 D2, L1, D1
I also learned how to do an afterthought thumb (check out KnitPicks YouTube tutorials), as well as the rudiments of Continental (picking) instead of English (throwing) my knitting. I found it so much easier to manage two-color knitting this way. I was able to maintain tension and keep the floats tangle free. Like I said, a fun project that added to my knitting repertoire – and to my collection of mittens. They fit snuggly and have a rustic feel to them. Tweed is good.
I really wanted to do a second pair of mittens, what with the Houndstooth mittens taking so long. Darn that lightweight yarn. Enter 2 hanks of long-ago stashed Catalina Chunky Baby Alpaca (also discontinued).
I started someone else’s pattern using size 10US needles but didn’t like the results. When you get handed lemons, wing it! I had to work my way down to size 8’s to get a decent enough tension to keep the soft (but no memory) ribbing relatively secure. I decided to do the palm in stockinette and the back of the hand in seed stitch. You’ve gotta feel these mittens. Delightful!
Somebody stop me! Seed stitch (or cousin Moss Stitch) has cut a wide swath through me at the moment. I’m working on a scarf for my next door neighbor’s 3 year old. He’s just too adorable and his mom says he needs a new scarf. This is an offer I cannot refuse, especially if I get some Bulgogi as a reward (smacks lips expectantly).
Food, glorious food. It becomes a bit difficult to reconcile a 1500 calorie per day diet with anything even vaguely delicious, but the doctors say I must. I’ve started keeping a food journal that tracks not only calories but percentages of fat, sodium, carbs and the like. I’m also on the look-out for simple, healthy recipes like the turkey meatloaf and herb roasted potatoes I made recently. I’m even learning how to make brown rice which, for me, is still very much a work in progress. Any suggestions for entrees?
While you mull that over, take a look at my latest documentary, “Catnip Wars.”