Patterns, revisited

I’m getting back at it by revisiting some old designs. First up on my to-do list is No Capes!

No Capes! was originally published in Petite Purls, which is no longer online. As the rights have returned to me, I’ve decided this is a good time to fix a few things with the original design that I didn’t like, and to expand the sizes a bit. The original yarn has been discontinued, so I’ve decided to work it up in two new options: Berroco Weekend and Universal Yarn Cotton Supreme. And for fun, I’m going to add a few more charted words that can replace the original “Super.”

Bowling Shirt Polo is next.

Like No Capes!, I’d like to rework the design a bit, and I’ll probably expand the size range here too. But again, like with No Capes!, the biggest issue is the original yarn being discontinued. This will also get worked up in two new yarns: O-Wool Balance and Berroco Remix, which I think is a really fun yarn with great colors.

I also need to re-release (or not) two patterns that were originally published by Three Irish Girls, where the rights have reverted back to me. Diamond in the Sky was the very first design I ever wrote.

Diamond in the Sky (1) watermark

Lexie's Lacy Cardigan Skirted Version (12) watermark

I’d need to reknit the samples anyway as the picture rights aren’t mine (these pictures were the quick and dirty ones I took for my project page, and not good enough for publishing a pattern with), and Lexie has long outgrown both (even if I had them both; the skirted version went to my niece). I’m not in love with the lace pattern I used anymore, so I swatched up some options until I found one liked.

Diamond in the Sky swatch (1) watermark

And, in a familiar refrain, I’m switching up the yarn. Diamond in the Sky was meant for mixing up semi-solids and variegated yarns, and I looked for pairings that were both subtle and vibrant, and that showed that the yarns didn’t have to be originally dyed as part of a set in order to work. I chose Malabrigo Rios and Dream in Color Classy.

Yarn for Diamond in the Sky watermark

No, not all of those yarns will become a Diamond in the Sky; I spent a lot of time playing with combinations (and disregarding Lexie’s demands that I pair just the semi-solid purple and pink) and will be using the other yarns in later designs.

As for the other former Three Irish Girls design, I haven’t yet decided what I’m going to do with Twisted Diagonals Jacket.

Twisted Diagonals Cardigan (4) watermark

I loved the look of the stitch pattern but it was problematic due to the compressed row gauge. The smaller sizes were fine, but when I actually started knitting up a larger size I really didn’t like it. Nor was I a fan of the yarn I chose. I’m going to have to do a lot of playing with the stitch pattern before I decide whether that design will be re-released.

Two other designs are eventually going to get quick make-overs: Little Miss Mopsey needs new yarns (the original is discontinued) and I’m planning to add a “winter” version; and Mossy Bells just needs a new yarn. I’ve had requests to size Mossy Bells up to adult sizes, which is something I’d like to do at some point – but there’s more than enough on my plate for now!

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Letting go

Once upon a time, Lexie had a best friend. His name was Bunny.

Bunny before

If Bunny looks a bit well-loved in that picture, it’s because he was. No number of trips through the washing machine would make him look clean again, there were various spots of rough stitching due to surgery by Mom, and his stuffing was squished flat in places. Didn’t matter to Lexie; Bunny was always beautiful. I got Bunny for Lexie for her first Easter basket when she was only a few months old, and he was a constant companion for years.

Lexie, who firmly believed at the time that Mommy can do anything, asked me to make Bunny a sweater. It eventually became a sweater-dress-raincoat-hoodie, but it made Lexie happy, which was all that mattered.

Bunny after

One day, we realized Bunny was missing.

Lexie had mostly moved on; she was no longer sleeping with Bunny every night, and through first pre-school and then kindergarten had gained new best friends. I think she’d probably left Bunny behind at pre-school on her last day, but by the time we realized he was really gone and not just hiding somewhere in her room, there was no Bunny at their lost and found.

All we had left was Bunny’s sweater.

Bunny's Sweater Dress Raincoat Hoodie (2)

The sweater got moved around from basket to basket in Lexie’s room, and I never considered suggesting we get rid of it. My kids tend to get especially attached to things I make them, and this was the last tangible reminder of a good friend. It really only came out at the times Lexie left it within reach of our yarn-obsessed cats, who love to drag things I’ve knit around the house. This morning, I happened on Bunny’s sweater in the kitchen, and picked it up to hand Lexie, telling her to go put it in one of her baskets.

She reached out for it and then paused, looking at the sweater thoughtfully. “Mommy…it doesn’t really fit any of my dolls now.”

“Ok,” I said. “What would you like to do with it?”

“I’d like to donate it,” she said. “Not everyone has a Mommy who can make them things like you can.”

Bunny's Sweater Dress Raincoat Hoodie (4)

I had to fight not to cry a bit as I carefully placed the sweater in our donation bin. Time to let go.

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The curse of the wee

Baby sweaters are awesome. Really, they are. In about a tenth of the time it would take to knit me a sweater (ok, that’s a generous estimate), I can have a finished project. Plus, baby sweaters get a lot more “ooooohs” and “aaaaaahs” than a sweater for me has ever gotten.

So when friends announced they were expecting their first, naturally I started paging through my pattern library on Ravelry. This was going to require some careful selection, because dad-to-be is a knitter himself, which means the parents will be harder to impress. Fortunately, not long ago a friend shared pictures of the wee Envelope, by Ysolda Teague, that she had knit up, and it was adorable. I liked the unusual construction and the look of the finished item, so I decided to go for it. I had a single skein of Three Irish Girls Kells Sport in Rhys in my stash, which according to the pattern was more than enough. Rhys is a beautiful shade of blue, and although the parents aren’t finding out the gender yet, I think any baby can wear blue, boy or girl (I try to get Lexie into it whenever I can since it really brings out her beautiful blue eyes). Besides, this baby’s parents are both Navy, and if a Navy baby can’t wear blue, who can?

3IG Kells Sport Rhys

So I wound the yarn, picked up the needles, cast on…and realized I’d been cursed.

The pattern, at least, wasn’t cursed. Well-written, as I expected, and really only one spot where I read the directions a few times and said, “Huh?” A quick trip to Ysolda’s Ravelry group got me enough of an answer that I was able to move on, and that was it for pattern issues. The yarn was mildly cursed, as some of my later purchases of Three Irish Girls yarn (pre-change in ownership) have been – multiple breaks in one ply throughout the skein (no, it’s not bugs, unless I’ve been blessed with moths talented enough to tie the plies back together in small knots). I did end with an ungodly number of ends to weave in as a result…but that was at the end.

The curse during the knitting was all on me.

I decided to make a change to the pattern from the very beginning. I don’t like knitting garter in the round, and I don’t like knitting very small circumferences in the round with magic loop, at least not the first few rows. I decided to solve two problems in one fell swoop and knit the cuff (you start at the end of one cuff and knit across to the other) flat, with two extra stitches for seaming. So I happily knit the cuff then seamed it and happily continued with stockinette in the round for the rest of the sleeve. Once I reached the shoulder I counted my stitches, and…oops. Remember those two extra stitches? I was supposed to decrease them when I started knitting in the round. Of course, my count was still off by a lot more than two stitches. So the whole sleeve was frogged. At least it was a baby sleeve.

wee envelope sleeve

On try two for the sleeve, things went crazy wrong after the cuff and it was frogged again. Try three, I discovered I was again off by several stitches halfway through. I mean, we’re talking well less than 50 stitches here; why can’t I count them? It wasn’t until I ripped back to just after the cuff (where I had correctly decreased those two extra stitches) that I realized the problem wasn’t my stitch count: it was my reading skills. I was looking at the numbers for the wrong size. I took a quick break to highlight all the numbers for the size I was knitting (which was the entire reason I’d gotten that PDF editing app on my phone in the first place) and started again.

This time I made it to the garter stitch yoke. This was where I had my one, easily cleared up, bit of confusion, but for the most part the pattern was quite clear once I figured out what I was making (I’d never done an edging like this pattern uses before). It should have been smooth sailing…and would have been if I hadn’t kept dropping a stitch. The same stitch, just three stitches in from the end. I’d be knitting merrily along, and suddenly realize there was a cheeky little loop waving at me from several rows down below the needle. I’d pick up my crochet hook, ladder it back up, keep working, and several rows later, there the cheeky bastard was again.

Eventually, I made it to the end of the yoke, and the second sleeve proved anticlimactic. I even remembered to add in the extra two stitches for the seam of the cuff, since I wanted both cuffs to match.

wee envelope (1)

On to the body! And that’s when an earlier mistake bit me in the rear. I’d knit a stitch that was supposed to be purled on the bottom of the back yoke at one point, and didn’t realize it until several rows later. Because it was an edge stitch, dropping back to fix it would have been a nightmare, and I’d already ripped back so many times I decided to leave it. After all, that’s where I’d be picking up stitches on the body, so that one wrong stitch would be hidden…

wee envelope (2)

…except that the stitches are picked up in such a way that those stitches all show. Oops. Fortunately, it’s on the back. And not smack dab in the middle. The rest of the body was easily knit, other than it being a race between the end of the sweater and the end of the skein. Remember when I said I had more than enough yarn to knit this? I finished up with a tiny little walnut-sized ball. Whew. Anyway, I absolutely love how Rhys knit up – it looks like water ripples.

wee envelope (3)

All it needed to finish it off were buttons, and I was originally planning until we knew the gender to pick them. That way if I needed to girly it up some, I could. But I can’t resist a chance to play with all my buttons, and I started by pulling out my favorites from Tessa Ann Designs…and I found these – an awesome rainbow set with plenty of options in the size I needed (and plenty left over, since it’s such a large set). I chose the two buttons with the rainbow striping across and the two buttons with the full rainbow arching over green grass.

wee envelope buttons

I wanted to show off the sweater at the Prince William Purlers guild meeting that night, so I packed the buttons and thread in my bag to sew on during our social knitting time before the meeting starts. I was pretty sure I’d chosen the right buttons, but as I left my house and started driving, I saw a sign that those buttons were meant to be.

rainbow

Yup. Perfect.

wee envelope (4) a

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Torpedoes and yarn chicken

I recently knit myself a top.

loopy lace tee

I’ve knit myself sweaters before, but this was my first top. I’m extremely proud of it, especially because I added short rows to accommodate my huge tracts of land for the first time, and they came out pretty well. I also made some other modifications, including adding the lace to just the very bottom of the sleeves and the body. And I love the yarn: madelinetosh tosh vintage in Logwood. It is such a luscious yarn, and the colorway is beautiful.

Once I’d finished (um…almost 2 years after starting), I found I had a skein and a half left over. It wasn’t enough to do much of anything for me, but I felt it really should be a garment of some kind. And then, during a random conversation, one of my friends pointed out that I could probably whip up another Open Weave Short Sweater in a matter of minutes, and it seemed like serendipity. Lexie could use another sweater, she loves the pattern, I love how quickly it works up, and she adored the color.

The only potential problem was how much yarn I had left. Previous iterations of the sweater took me nearly 2 skeins of a lighter weight yarn; I was crocheting this with worsted weight, but in a larger size. But I’m a “damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead” yarn crafter, so I dove in.

And got torpedoed.

Lexie's Leftovers Sweater

The downside to playing yarn chicken is that sometimes, you have to flinch first. I went ahead and seamed the fronts to the back and added the edging on the body in the hopes that I’d have enough yarn left for sleeves, but that little yarn walnut was no where near enough. I turned to Ravelry for salvation.

What I was hoping to find was someone with about a quarter to a half a skein of the Logwood – still more than I needed, but plenty to finish the sleeves and their edging, without being so much that I was tempted to try to find another project for those leftovers…and then run out of yarn…and then have to find more leftovers…and continue the vicious cycle of stashing. Unfortunately, there was only one destash listed, and it was for a full skein. I posted in the ISO/Destash group, and that’s when I got the break I was looking for – 2 people sent me messages suggesting I post in the madtosh lovers group.

I took their advice, and ended up with not one but 2 offers of partial skeins. Neither Raveler would take money for their yarn or shipping, but instead asked for patterns off their wish lists. Ravelers can really be some of the most generous people.

The yarn arrived, and both partial skeins were the Logwood colorway (one of the Ravelers wasn’t sure if hers was)…but they were both definitely more red than my original yarn. That wasn’t a surprise – it’s a known hazard of working with hand-dyed yarn, and it was a risk I ran whether I got a full skein from a yarn store or partial skeins from a destash. I just had to figure out how to make it work.

I opted to remove the edging on the body, and used that yarn to make the sleeves. Then I chose the closest match and used that to do all the edging.

Luscious Leftovers for Lexie (1)

The difference in color is visible, but not very obvious, and it actually ended up blending pretty well. I’ve decided to consider it a design feature. Of course, it’s not really my opinion that matters.

Luscious Leftovers for Lexie (2)

Even though she was in the first day of a nasty cold, Lexie was still able to smile over her new sweater, which she took from me the minute I showed it to her, and didn’t take off until bed.

Which leaves just one last question: what do I do with the leftovers…?

more luscious leftovers

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Much loved knitting

Three years ago, I knit Lexie a washcloth.

Lexie's pink washcloth

It was love at first sight…for her. Her brother, who at that time really wasn’t interested in my knitting for him, immediately gave me sad eyes and asked where his washcloth was. Uh…I’m working on it, buddy! I quickly sat down and whipped up another one – easy with a simple pattern – and Jeffrey took such immediate possession that I never got a project page up.

A few nights ago, I was folding laundry, and came across his washcloth, which was clearly much loved.

Jeffrey's washcloth

The big hole caught my attention first, and I started poking around to see how repairable it was. There wasn’t a lot of viable yarn left to work with. As I stretched it a bit to see what I was working with, another strand of yarn (which had been literally hanging by a thread) snapped, leading to a second hole. There were half a dozen other holes-in-waiting, so I decided it was time to send this washcloth to an honorable retirement.

I didn’t account for Jeffrey.

“I’ve got some bad news,” I started.

“Is there any good news?” he interrupted.

“Uh…I’ll make you another one right away.”

“Another what?”

I pointed out the washcloth lying next to me. “Noooooo!” he howled, snatching the washcloth up and hugging it to his chest.

It took some negotiation, but eventually he agreed to hand it back after I promised to replace it. And one more thing.

“Can you frame it?”

It’s good to be loved.

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