Knitting without a pattern

I have to say, I’m rather proud of my latest project, not only with how fast I was able to get it finished – a cowl in less than a week – but also with the fact that I set out a challenge for myself and was successful.

There was a bandana cowl I favourited on Ravelry, a paid pattern, and I thought the general structure of this cowl could work well for my Leo and Roxy March Yarn Club.

Wait, let me back up. Have I showed how pretty this yarn is?

Leo and Roxy is a Canadian yarn company, and in December 2020, they announced the themes for their quarterly yarn club. March was Doctor Who themed, so of course I had to order myself a kit. Merry Christmas to me, amirite?

The main colour and its blues are very reminiscent of the TARDIS, although it has greens and greys as well. Those greens and greys, when paired with the purple and red mini skeins, are four of the colours in the Fourth Doctor’s scarf. Basically, I got the yarn and was in love.

So, back to the story of the cowl. I loved the way the cowl I favourited used a main colour and minis in different sections throughout. I set out to use this design as inspiration and simply make my own cowl in a similar manner. I had my pretty main colour, the two minis from the kit, and I had another mini from Leo and Roxy in a mustardy yellow/gold colour in my stash (and wouldn’t you know, that is ANOTHER colour in the Doctor’s scarf). I was ready to start forging my own path.

I’ve made countless bandana cowls. I don’t really need a pattern for these any more. They start just like triangular shawls, although, you get to a point where you want to stop knitting flat and start knitting in the round. Easy peasy.

I got to the sections for the contrast colours; the first section was simple to reverse engineer, and the second took some brain power, but again, a very simple stitch structure to replicate. I then got to a lace section and was CONVINCED this was the point where I would simply make it my own. A bit of time looking at lace patterns and plugging it into Stitch Fiddle later, and that section was reverse engineered as well. Now it was a challenge. There was one particularly tricky section of the cowl, but I have a stitch dictionary boasting a very similar pattern, so the differences are negligible. I was able to essentially recreate this beautiful pattern without a pattern. Me five years ago couldn’t do that. Heck, I wonder if pre-pandemic Me could have (because I’ve spent a LOT of time over these last however months knitting, honing my skills, if you will).

I do have some guilt, that I’ve made this designer’s lovely pattern without actually purchasing it. I have no intentions of recreating this cowl for anyone other than myself. I also read other knitters comparing patterns to recipes. If you want to make Chocolate Chip Cookies, would you need to pay money for a recipe if you have the ingredients and know how to make your own without it? I’ve bought patterns from this designer in the past and likely will again in the future. I will support them.

But this time, I didn’t need the recipe.

Knitspiration has returned

Over the last week, I’be been keeping busy by alternating between knitting, cross stitch, and reading when the weather is nice enough to enjoy my back yard. 

One of the projects I’ve been working on is a Mount Pleasant crop top. I LOVE this pattern and the simple lace detail it features along the bottom, but I’ve chosen to make it with two skeins of hand dyed yarn. The yarn is a local dyer called Lake Knit Yarns. Because my yarn is hand dyed, it means alternating the skeins, and knitting this project has become a bit of a slog. Nevertheless, I’ve already separated the front from the back, and it’s now a lot of stockinette until it’s finished.

I’ve also started a pair of socks for my sister – I’m glad she liked this yarn, another skein from Lake Knit, the colour way aptly named After the Storm. 

While this pandemic is helping me with my 2020 goal to knit down my stash, I took advantage of a promotion one of my LYSs is offering called ‘Quarenskein.’ You pick a price ($45, $65, or $95), and the shop picks out a package of yarn and notions for you. It was a lot of fun picking it up and being very happily surprised with two skies of Sweetgeorgia, two stitch markers, and a project bag from the shop. I THINK they yarn will be destined for a Waiting for Rain shawl, but I very well might change my mind by the time I’m ready to cast on.

As for cross stitch, my Fourth Doctor Scarf is coming along nicely, as is a small project I’ve started for my mum – more attention has been devoted to that pattern so to have it finished in tie for Mother’s Day. If I meet my goal, I’ll share a picture next week.

Stay well!

(Almost) Instant Projects, and How Wonderful They Truly Are

A short post this week, as I don’t have much new to report. But isn’t it wonderful and completely satisfying by how fast some projects come together? Sunday night, needing a change from the socks and sockhead hat I’m working on, I grabbed yarn from my stash, cast on and in a few short hours finished a fingerless glove.

Is there anything better than the fast yet fabulous projects?

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The pattern is one I improvised, based on the Fourth Doctor’s scarf.

Wibbly-Wobbly, Timey-Wimey Stuff For My New House

I must be crazy… absolutely insane… Why else would I decide it would be a good idea to make pillowcases in the style of the Fourth Doctor’s Scarf?!

Well, that’s not really being fair.  It’s a good idea because I love knitting, I have more than enough of this yarn in my stash, the pillow forms were only $3 each, and they will be my geeky homage in my living room.  But still… what have I got myself into!

I’ve started with the pillows.  As I said, they were only $3 each at the dollar store and at that price, how can I say no?  I bought two during my last shopping trip – one square, one rectangular.  The square one I have earmarked for another geeky pillowcase, that one in the style of the 3rd year Griffindor Scarf.  When I saw the rectangle pillow, I knew it would be perfect for Tom Baker’s scarf.

Swatching - cheater's style
Swatching – cheater’s style

My next step was swatching.  Like when I made the fingerless gloves, I’m following the basic colour structure and row counts of the scarf from doctorwhoscarf.com, but otherwise I’m winging this project.  The pillow’s measurements are 12×20.  If I was smart many months ago when I made the fingerless gloves, I would have written down what the stitch gauge was at the time.  Good ol’ hindsight.  So I made a ‘cheaters’ swatch – I knit only enough stitches and rows to get the rough estimate.  I know, I know, I’m so breaking all the rules!  Once I figured out how many stitches and rows to an inch, I cast on.

I chose to do a provisional cast on because I love the look of the kitchener stitch – once it’s finished, I’ll kitchener stitch it all together.

When I made The Scarf, I didn’t knit the full 12-14 foot length.  When the pattern called to knit, say 20 rows, I knit half that.  I’ve done the same for this pillowcase, it’s still consistent with the pattern, and you can see enough of the colour changes to get the impression of the scarf.  As well, while the scarf is knit as garter stitch, I’m knitting this stockinette – only the right side will ever be seen, so it made sense to knit in lovely stockinette.

Work in progress
Work in progress

It’s still a work in progress, and with 40 inches to knit, I’m sure this will keep me busy!  I’m excited to see it take shape, and the familiar colour palette and colour repetition simply makes me happy.

There’s no point being grown-up if you can’t be childish sometimes.” – The Doctor (Fourth)

So You’ve Knit the Doctor Who Scarf… Now What?

I before I cast on the Fourth Doctor’s Scarf for myself, I spent a lot of time thinking about the yarn.  If I was going to make the project, I was going to do it right!  The yarn and colour suggestions on doctorwhoscarf.com was very helpful for this, and over a week or so, I bought the seven colours that comprise the scarf.  I was lucky that I was able to get the majority from my local yarn shops and from Michaels, but I had to order the green colour online, and the red colour, Paprika from Red Heart, had been discontinued, but an outlet in Toronto had ONE ball left, so I drove 50 kilometres into the City to buy this yarn.  This was the only colour where I only bought one ball; the rest of the six colours, I purchased two balls, lest I run short!  I made my scarf, I love my scarf, but now… well, my stash now has a rather Whovian hue to it! I think I overbought.  I was left with the query of what to do with the remainder of the yarn.  Wristwarmers to the rescue!

My 'They're Warmer on the Inside' fingerless  gloves.  They live up to their name!
My ‘They’re Warmer on the Inside’ fingerless gloves. They live up to their name!

The logical part of my brain shouldn’t love fingerless gloves as much as I do.  After all, aren’t gloves supposed to keep your fingers warm, and fingerless gloves kinda defeat that purpose.  Despite this, I love fingerless gloves.  I have a few pairs of wristwarmers that I’ve made, and I think they are ideal for the Spring and Fall when it’s just starting to get cold, but not so cold that you’re cursing the winter Gods.  I don’t know what Elsa was singing about in Frozen, because the cold certainly bothers me!

Ultimately, my ‘They’re Warmer on the Inside’ fingerless gloves were a quick project and they keep my wrists rather toasty.  It’s also a very subtle Who reference: a fan will recognize the colour pattern and will thus recognize me for the geek that I am, and I’m okay with that.  It was a good way to use up a FRACTION of my now stashed scarf yarn, but perhaps my only complaint were all the ends that needed weaving in.  There were 14 colour changes, which resulted in, well, a lot of ends.

The project was largely improvised by me, but I used Kate Atherley’s Alcazar Mittens as my guide, and I followed a section of the Doctor Who Scarf colour pattern, but quartered it (if it said to knit 12 rows, I only knit 3).

Here’s what I did:

Worsted weight yarn, size 7 DPNs

Gauge = 5sts/inch

Cast on 32 stitches

rows 1-19: K1, P1, rep
row 20: knit
row 21: K18, place marker (pm), K1, pm, K13
row 22: K to marker, Make 1 Right (M1R), K to marker, Make 1 Left (M1L), knit to end
rows 23-24: knit
repeat rows 22-24 until 13 sts are between markers (should be row 39)
row 40: k to marker, slip 13 sts onto holder, make 1 over the gap, k to end
rows 41-60: knit
rows 61-64: K1, P1, rep

cast off in pattern

Thumb:
return 13 sts to needles, pick up st in thumb crook and join in the round (14 sts)
Knit 9 rows plain
rows 10-11: K1, P1, rep

cast off in pattern

Finish: weave in your ends (there’s a lot of them!), tighten any holes near yarn joins

 

Above is how the glove is constructed.  Here is the colour work:

Rows 1-3: beige
Rows 4-5: purple
Rows 6-10: brown
Rows 11-12: yellow
Rows 13-15: grey
Rows 16-19: red
Rows 20-33: green
Rows 34-37: yellow
Rows 38-39: beige
Rows 40-42: purple
Rows 43-44: red
Rows 45-50: grey
Rows 51-53: brown
Rows 54-64: beige

Thumb:
Rows 1-3: purple
Rows 4-5: red
Rows 6-11: grey