FO: Tokyo Cowl

Note: I have had this project done since October and this is the only photo I have of it, from Instagram and from the fall.  The post has been written since late last year, but I needed to get it out of my drafts folder.

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This was a spontaneous project, I saw a cowl Carla had made and I figured it would be a good use for the skein of Groovy that had been sitting in my stash for far too long.  When I had originally ordered the yarn (we don’t have a decent LYS less than 2 hrs from where I live, so I order 99% of my yarn online) it came a different color that I had expected.  It is a very nice color, but it was basically the color of my peachy skin rather than the nice cream I had been expecting.

After having it live in my stash for nearly 2 years it was time for it to be made into a gift, and I still haven’t found the right buttons or the right person for it, it will find its way to the right person eventually.

– Details –

Project Name: Tokyo Cowl

Pattern: Begbie Cowl by Jane Richmond

Recipient: The Box/Not Sure Yet

Yarn: Dream in Color Groovy in Tokyo Cream

Modifications: None

New Skills: None

Feedback: Easy pattern, nice yarn, but not my colors.

Re-Knit?: Only if I have a single skein of bulky yarns I don’t know what to do with.

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Day 1: A Tale of Two Yarns — 2kcbwday1

Part of any fibre enthusiast’s hobby is an appreciation of yarn. Choose two yarns that you have either used, are in your stash or which you yearn after and capture what it is you love or loathe about them.

 

 

 

 

 

My Two Yarns

 

 

 

 

 

For me the tale of two yarns is in fact the tale of one pair of mittens.  Like many out there I am an avid Knitty reader and when the Winter 2011 edition came out with the Shelburne Mittens in it, I knew I had to make a pair. Due to living in Northern Ontario, and mitten weather lasting from October to April, I have a bit of a mitten obsession. I want to have a pair for just about every day of the winter (and for every possible weather condition).

Source: Knitty.com

So when I found this pattern I was well into my yarn diet and went diving into my stash (which you will see on Day 3) to find something that would work. I came out with this fantastic Dream in Color Groovy yarn I had ordered to make Bella’s Mittens.

Wonderful, sunny, groovy yarn

After swatching and finding that I had to use a needle about 3 sizes larger than recommended (for a yarn that was seemingly the same weight, and had the same ypp), I should have been reconsidering the yarn substitution but I blazed onward.  After a day of knitting I had this …

Long, skinny, scary mitten

My sister said it looked like something from a Dr. Seuss book

Needless to say, something was terribly wrong.

After doing some research and a trip to my local LYS (which is 130km away) I found the yarn called for in the pattern, Rowan Felted Tweed Bulky and the difference between the yarns explained everything.

Rowan Felted Tweed Bulky

The DIC yarn was everything that the Rowan was not.  The DIC was a worsted spun superwash merino while the Rowan was a woolen spun merino/alpaca.  Now when I say worsted, I don’t mean the weight of the wool, but rather how it was spun.  If you aren’t familiar with the characteristics of sheep breeds and how yarns are spun I would suggest checking out Clara Parkes “The Knitters Book of Wool”.  The book, which includes some beautiful patterns by amazing designers, includes a large section on the characteristics of different types of fibers and how preperation changes how the yarns feel and knit up.

The short form is that worsted spun doesn’t allow twist in the pre-drafted fibers and is harder, firmer and not as warm (because there is less air trapped between the fibers), while woolen spun allows twist into the source fiber and it is fluffier, ligher and much warmer.  However, woolen fibers are much less abrasion resistant, think about a Malabrigo (woolen spun) sweater versus Wool of the Andes (worsted spun) sweater, which one is soft as all get out but gets holes and pills sooner (hint: Malabrigo) and which one is a bit picky and hard but wears like iron and after years of hard work it hardly shows any wear (hint: Wool of the Andes).

Woolen Mal and Worsted WotA (Both at a Worsted Weight)

So to add to the issues of woolen vs. worsted spun I was having with my mittens, the amount of twist in the yarn was totally different. The DIC was plyed tightly, giving it an almost spring-like appearance. The Rowan by contrast was much more loosely plyed.  (If you read The Intentional Spinner by Judith MacKenzie McCuin, you will see this is in contrast to how most yarns are plyed).  This made the DIC more like a piece of spaghetti (perfectly round) while the Rowan is a bit more like linguine (with a bit more spread in the middle).

Springy DIC and Relaxed Rowan

So for me the moral of this story is, there is more too choosing the right yarn than having a similar YPP and getting gauge, and that sometimes frogging and reknitting is the right thing.

For the Dream in Color Groovy I found the perfect pattern, the Fried Chicken Mittens.

Right Pattern, Right Yarn

This pattern was quite the adventure for me, and you can read more about these mitts here. I haven’t started the Shelburne Mittens yet, the snow has been melting and my thoughts are on spring shawls and felted bags, but I know that the Rowan will look great and that the DIC found itself an amazing pattern.

P.S. It’s not to late to participate in Knit and Crochet Blog Week, check out Eskmimimiknits for more info.

FO: Winter Sunshine Mittens

These mittens were incidentally called the Redemption Mittens because it was an attempt for the yarn, Dream in Color Groovy to redeem itself after being wholly inappropriate to make the awesome Shelburne Mittens.  The DIC yarn was too worsted (spinning type not yarn weight) and too highly twisted to work for those mittens, but they are perfect for a tight gauge, non cabled mitten.  The pattern, the Fried Chicken Mitten, is a great execution of a great idea, basically that our thumbs aren’t the shape of most thumb gussets, but rather pieces of fried chicken.

The pattern has some rather amusing drawings to this effect, I suggest checking it out!

In addition, the texture pattern, found in one of my stitch guides, provides an amazing texture both to the look and feel of the mittens.  With the hand-dyed yarn, I find the mittens to seem almost woven.

Project Name:  Winter Sunshine Mittens

Pattern: Fried Chicken Mittens by Ellen Mason (Ravelry Only Link)

Recipient: Me

Yarn: Groovy by Dream in Color in Gold Experience

Modifications:  Lots!

  • I did the cuff out of only 2×2 rib, which meant that I didn’t do the beginning stockinette rounds or the purl ridge before the thumb gusset
  • I shortened the mitten and used the top shaping from Ann Budd’s Knitters Handy Book of Patterns.
  • However I modified this top by pairing the decreases (making the top flatter) and grafting across the top when there were 16 stitches remaining.
  • I followed the thumb gusset pattern for the right mitten and then modified the left so that it was a mirror image and in both cases the “seam” (or the invisible line formed by the start of the rounds) runs up the pinkies.
  • I used a texture pattern, Twisted Stockinette, to the whole mitten.  I got the pattern from The Harmony Guides: Knit & Purl page 132.  This pattern called for Ktbl in every stitch every second round.  To make this work with the pattern I knit an additional plain row before starting the thumb gusset so that I was increasing on a standard knit row, not a twisted row.  This helped make the increases simpler.

New Skills:

  • Grafting – I think … I don’t know another project that I have used grafting on, although I have practiced it before.  I don’t know why people are so afraid of it, watching the videos over at Knitting Help are invaluable for all things and particularly for reminding me that I start the first stitch as a purl and then from there I am good to go.
  • Post Incident Life Lines – That is putting in a life line long after the row had been knitted.  In this case, I didn’t like the top shaping in the original pattern so I had to go back and pick up the right side of the stitches in the round and insert a life line so I could from back and reshape the top.  That process is a hassle, and I while I am unlikely to use pre-emptive lifelines, it is good to know how to save oneself from a disastrous frogging session, that ends with the decision to re-knit the whole item.
  • Major Reworking – I haven’t changed a pattern so much before. In this case I switched out the mitten top, the texture and fully reversed the thumb gusset on the second mitten. The success of these mittens have given me confidence to play around with some other patterns a bit more.

Feedback:

  • What an amazing thumb gusset. Not only is the name great, who can really resist comparing their thumb to fried chicken, but it fits wonderfully.  I think that this my go-to thumb gusset until further notice.  I love mittens and this makes me love them more.
  • It is great to know that I can modify patterns to fit me perfectly, I need to do it more.
  • Dream in Color Groovy is amazing. The whole time I was knitting, the amazing color made me smile.  The fact that it is superwash means that these are going to be perfect for the hard abuse that mittens get during an Ontario winter. There is a bit of a halo, but that just makes them look as fuzzy as they feel.

Re-Knit?: Yes, yes a thousand times yes.  I will probably make modifications each time, but my mother has already asked for a pair for next winter, and as I am living in her house I will probably make her a pair, because she is totally knitworthy (uses but doesn’t abuse items, doesn’t see me as a free knitwear dispensing machine, and is trying to get back into fibercrafts herself).