Like learning to knit, all over again

Best friend sent me a message last week, asking if I could knit something for her daughter. The project request:

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Azul Pullover – photo © Heidi May

If you’ve spent any time on Ravelry recently, I’m sure the Azel Pullover by Velvet Acorn Designs is familiar as it spends a lot of time high up on the Hot Right Now pages.  Of course I would make this stylish sweater for one of my favourite mini-humans!

Demonstrating the popularity of this pattern, when I stopped in at one of my favourite LYSs, the owner said she couldn’t keep the recommended yarn on the shelves long enough!  I bought six lovely squishy balls of Bernat Softee Chunky, and knowing that I already had the required 9mm needle, I happily headed home to start this new project.

I cast on the required stitches and started with the pattern, and right away, it became painfully evident that I’m out of practice knitting with super bulky yarn! I was unsure of how I was holding the needles, the yarn feeling foreign wrapped around my index finger for tension.  Recently, the heaviest yarn I’m using is the worsted weight Cascade 220, and my usual travel projects are two pairs of socks.  Going from 2.5mm to 9mm, it’s no wonder why everything was feeling so unfamiliar!

One thing I will say about this project is that it is a very fast knit!  After a few dedicated evenings, my pullover is taking great shape:

The quarter gives you an idea of how big these stitches are! I’ll be sure to share pictures of this lovely pullover once it’s finished, and if I keep at the rate I’ve been going, it’ll be finished in less than a week’s time.

Cableship KAL, Part I

Have you participated in a Knit-A-Long (KAL) before? On Thanksgiving Monday, I began my first KAL – Cableship by KnitPurl Hunter.  Actually, back this story up. I tried to start my first KAL the Thursday before Thanksgiving, unsuccessfully so.  Here’s what happened.

When I saw the Cableship KAL pop up in the Ravelry ‘Hot Right Now’ patterns, I was rather excited to try it. I had no idea what the pattern was going to be, what the sock would look like, but I had the right yarn and thought it would be fun to participate in, to make this pair of socks along with hundreds of others from anywhere in the world.

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The first part of the pattern was released October 6.  Great! I downloaded the pattern and later that evening sat to cast on.  A toe-up sock! I’ve never made one before, so this was a great chance to try something new!  It called for Judy’s Magic Cast-On. Well, I thought, I’m loyal to the end to my long-tail method, I’ll just use that.  Cast on the prerequisite 24 stitches and immediately saw the problem.  Long tail and other standard cast ons are great for knitting something  open or flat, like a dishcloth or, say, the cuff of a sock.  Not so great when you’re knitting a toe, something that needs to be closed in. Well, that’s why they’re calling for this Judy’s Magic Cast-On, I thought as I ripped off my 24 cast on  stitches.

Open up Youtube, search Judy’s Magic Cast-On. Lots of videos available. Great! I start watching a few and after a while I get the hang of it. Each knitter in their videos have their own variations to JMCO, but they all have the same idea – you’re looping stitches onto two needles.  I have my 24 stitches on my faithful DNPs. Great! Time to knit the first row.  All of the top videos for JMCO use cable needles. Cables can’t be that different from DPNs, I thought. Wrong. Sigh.

New search: Judy’s Magic Cast On DPNs.  The first video was very helpful, but right at the outset, this knitter warns viewers that while it’s not impossible to do this cast on method on DPNs, it’s a harder way to do so. Trust me to try this new method on the more challenging tools. Of course.  The knitter must have apologized for how awkward her method looked at least a dozen times. After watching this video, I cast on my prerequisite stitches (yay!) and awkwardly knit the first round (yay!). Time to start the increase rounds. “K1 M1R.”  I look at my awkward tangle of stitches over four DPNs and I try to start. I knit 1 stitch… I look at my yarn… Make 1 Right… I look, I fumble, I try… I get frustrated, rip everything out and put it into a time out.

This is where I should add that not only am I trying the new method of JMCO, I’m doing it the more challenging way on DPNs, with black yarn. Seriously, what was I thinking?!

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This project stayed in time out for three days when I revisited it on the holiday Monday. I sat in my kitchen where I get very bright sunlight at all hours of the day, queued up the helpful JMCO DPNs video and cast on 24 stitches (yay!), knit the first round (yay!), and then successfully knit the increase round with the help of wonderful natural lighting (YAY!), and continued working around!   After three increases, this is how my toe was shaping up:

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Lessons learned in the first steps of my first KAL:

  • Follow instructions; if a pattern calls for a certain type of cast on, there’s probably a reason
  • Have patience (but really, this is an ongoing self-bettering challenge for me in all facets of my life)
  • Sometimes things look better in the light of a new day (rather poetic but really just a literal statement)
  • When you remember the above, you can succeed.

Oh Canada!

Happy 148th Birthday to my home and native land!  As has become my new Canada Day tradition, I will be working later this afternoon as our Museum participates in our City’s Canada Day Celebrations.

I am a few days late in writing a new post.  My routine is to write and publish a new post every Monday, but the new house has been keeping me both busy and off my routine.  I must also say, I was struggling for inspiration for a new post; Canada Day has, however, provided me with the inspiration I was seeking!  Here is a round up of some of my favourite Canadian-inspired knitting projects.

I’ll start with the project I’ve completed: a Maple Leaf Toque.  My dad requested a Canada toque, and I was happy to oblige. This quick project used intarsia to make the leaf, and the pom pom on top makes it complete!

The Maple Leaf Toque I made for my Dad earlier this year.
The Maple Leaf Toque I made for my Dad earlier this year.

The Maple Leaf is such an iconic symbol for Canada, which is why this shawl caught my eye.  Simply put, it is beautiful.  The Maple Leaf Shawl, by Natalia @ Elfmoda, is available on Ravelry.  It has been in my favourites for months, and one day I will buy the pattern and make this stunning wrap.

Maple Leaf Shawl, image from Ravelry (© Elfmoda)
Maple Leaf Shawl, image from Ravelry (© Elfmoda)

Another iconic symbol for Canada has its roots in our early history.  The Hudson’s Bay Company is the world’s second oldest company, and it was incorporated through a Royal Charter in 1670 as a fur trading organization. It has evolved throughout the centuries, and today it is one of the country’s largest retail business groups.  The Hudson’s Bay Point Blanket, and the colours that comprise the blanket, date to c. 1780 and are easily identifiable and iconic of this company.  The website hbcheritage.ca has a detailed summary of the history of the blanket, the colours, and the Point System that is referred to in the name of the blanket.

Any pattern that uses the green, red, yellow, and blue stripes are recognizable as HBC colours, but the following patterns truly caught my eye:

Hudson Bay Inspired Crib Blanket by Purl Soho

Hudson Bay Inspired Crib Blanket (© Purl Soho)
Hudson Bay Inspired Crib Blanket (© Purl Soho)

#20 Hudson’s Bay Pullover by Cathy Carron, published in Vogue Knitting – I simply love the wrap the model in the picture is wearing!

#20 Hudson's Bay Pullover (© Soho Publishing)
#20 Hudson’s Bay Pullover (© Soho Publishing)

If you type ‘Canada’ into the Ravelry pattern search, you will get 201 results, with red and white in abundance.  This last pattern caught my eye, as did it’s name.  Canadian Pride 2010 is a free pattern available by Briggs and Little.  Briggs and Little is a wool company based in New Brunswick, and I must say, I was rather impressed and surprised when I started looking into their history!  The woolen mill was first started in 1857 and has been operating under the name Briggs and Little since 1916!  This wool company is 10 years older than Canada has officially been a country.

Canada Pride 2010 lives up to its name, with this zippered sweater featuring deer, maple leaves, and Canada emblazoned on the back.  It literally screams ‘Canada.’ It looks warm and cozy, and I can picture someone wearing this while curled up by a fire.

Canadian Pride 2010 (© knitswiss)
Canadian Pride 2010 (© knitswiss)

Happy Canada Day!