Sontag 2 – The Return of the Bosom Friend

Remember that time I knit a wrap from an 1860s pattern? It was called a Sontag. Sontag, you say? What a strange name! Well, I looked into the history of this garment here.  And this is my finished Sontag:

Well, my needles have been busy for the past few weeks, making a Sontag for a co-worker. The beauty of making a project a second time, especially if that second time is a commission, is that you have the chance to improve upon what you did the first time around. I’m very happy with my Sontag and it has kept me warm when I’ve needed a few extra layers with my costume for work, but I also knew there were things I would change if I was to ever make it again. This is my chance.

Firstly, the basket weave.  The Sontag’s fabric is a 5×5 basket weave made up of alternating knits and purls, increasing one stitch at the beginning of each row, or, as Godey directs:

Cast on thirty-five stitches, knit five stitches forwards and five backwards, thus forming the blocks; knit five lines in this way, widening one stitch at the commencement of each line. Knit the second row of blocks alternate with the first.

Don’t you love 19th century patterns.

When I knit this the first time, I worked my increases the same as the stitches before it, like so:

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The basket weave looks off by the sides of the wrap. Only when you’re really looking at it can you see, and perhaps it’s me being picky, but this has always been something I would change about my Sontag. For Sontag 2, I did.

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Look at those new stitches, worked opposite to the ones beside them, continuing with the established basket weave pattern. Much happier.

When making the Sontag, the back is made first, and then the fronts, one side at a time. Again, the pattern wasn’t overly clear on how to go about the decreases:

…Knit up one front, narrowing one stitch on the inside every fourth line for six blocks; narrow every other line for the next six blocks; then narrow every line till you come to a point.

Clear as mud, right.

When I made my the first time, I narrowed every fourth line for 200 rows.  I kept measuring the length of the front against myself, and once I determined it was long enough to wrap around me, I narrowed every other row until 4 stitches remained, using those 4 stitches to make an i-cord 20″ long. The fronts are certainly long enough, wrapping all the way around to the middle of my back. The way I worked the decreases was another thing I would change if I was to make another Sontag, so change I did.

This time, I decreased every 4 row for 120 rows, then decreased every other row until only 4 stitches remain, and again made a 20″ i-cord using those stitches.  Measuring against myself again, this time the fronts come to their ‘point’ around my sides, which I think will make a more attractive wrap.

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My first Sontag, underneath, and the new Sontag on top; note the length difference and shape difference because of the different decreases. Also note the prominence of the coffee mug. Important stuff when knitting.

Front number 1 is done, and I’m 5 rows into the second front. I’ll have this completed in the next few weeks, and I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to revisit this pattern and improve upon what I’ve done.

Want to make your own Sontag? Awesome! Check out the pattern on Ravelry! Or, here’s a copy of the pattern from the January 1860 Godey’s Ladies Book.

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Originally from Godey’s; image from http://katedaviesdesigns.com/2013/06/28/sontag/

Row by Row, the Rose Garden (Shawl) Grows

I am not known for my patience. I don’t like waiting, and I love working on short, simple projects because of the immediate satisfaction that comes from finishing the THING. I also love simple knit, purl, garter or stockinette projects because you can turn the brain off and just knit. This is not to say though that I dislike lace, cables, large projects, or complicated patterns – there is a different satisfaction that comes from completing the TRICKY THING. Oh, how wonderful it is to cast off and block that tricky, challenging, and consuming project. I’ve been knitting like a fiend to get to that point with my latest project.

Blogging world: meet the (in progress) Rose Garden Shawl.

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I bought this beautiful cotton yarn at the 2016 Knitter’s Frolic from the Mississauga dyer Dye Version, and it is giving a lovely weight to this project.

But, oh, how it has tried my patience.

Fifteen lace panels; five lace pattern repeats.

A good deal of my long weekend was spent on this shawl. I’m now at the point of knitting the top garter ridge short rows, and it should HOPEFULLY be ready for casting off later this evening. Once it’s finished, I’ll share a picture.

Stash Busters

How do you use up your left overs? You know what I’m talking about: those little part balls, left over from that pair of socks or sweater you finished months ago.

I’m very much a Type A personality (or as a friend says, Type A++), and I’m super organized, so having these odds and ends kicking about my very precious yarn storage space drives me nuts.  When you have a quarter of a skein left, what do you do? It’s not enough to make anything of true substance… but sometimes it’s just enough.

I’ve been on a stash busting kick, trying to clear away those part skeins and odds and ends.

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A few odd balls of DK acrylic are quickly becoming a simple triangle shawl. I may need to buy one more ball to make it a good, proper shawl length.

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The left over Diamond Tradition from the Soper Creek Yarn Challenge are becoming a quick seed stitch cowl.

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Finally, those odd sock ends are becoming squares for a sock yarn blanket. I am ultimately pondering if I make it a true sock yarn memory blanket and only make one square with the yarn, or do I keep busting that stash and just make as many little squares with the yarn that I can. Decisions, decisions.

Happy knitting!

In The Works, Knit-Wise and Blog-Wise

I’m being a bad blogger.  I have two posts – TWO – that are in the works, and I’m plain dragging my feet on researching and writing them.  I’m super excited to share them once they’re ready because they are both related to my latest historical knit. But, laying it out there, I’ve been hit with a bad case of procrastination.  They’re on their way readers!

In the mean time, my laziness is prevailing over this post as well. As uninspired as I’m feeling right now to write a proper post, I’ve been itching to cast on as many projects as I can.  This isn’t my style. I’m more of a ‘knit one or two things at a time’ kind of knitter, but right now, this is me:

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I finished a lovely pair of mitten for my sister:

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I finished my Weasley Rib Socks:

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I finished a simple shawl using the yarn I hand-dyed:

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I’m also knitting up a storm for a friend who’s expecting, making a hat which will match sister’s mittens, the aforementioned historical pattern, a pair of socks for my mother, and I’m itching to make a big old slouchy hat for myself (I think the sockhead pattern will do the trick for this).

Perhaps I’m having too much fun knitting my fingers off to sit and properly write the historic posts!

They are on their way…

Christmas Round-Up #3 – 504 King West

I love this project as much as I love the story behind it.

My sister has recently moved back to the suburbs after living in Toronto for two years, not a decision made lightly. She loved her neighbourhood, from the convenient location to transit, to the quirky little shops located a few blocks away, her favourite coffee shop, and her favourite bar.

For Christmas, I knew I wanted to make her a shawl. I bought a stunning skein of Manos del Uruguay Alegría; I grappled back and forth with the choice to be selfish and keep this beautiful yarn all to myself, or do I use it and make something just as stunning for someone else. Gifting won out, and I’m so glad it did.

I spent some time perusing on Ravelry for just the right pattern. I wanted a pattern with fingering weight, that was asymetrical, and one that was ideally free. And then I saw 504 King West.

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Being honest, it wasn’t the pattern that sucked me in but rather the name. 504 King West is the name of a streetcar route in Toronto, one that I have taken a handful of times with my sister, a streetcar route that ends around the corner from her place in TO.  This pattern was designed by the Knit Cafe, a LYS in Toronto that I’ve visited with KT. It’s the same LYS she texted me about after exploring her neighbourhood and finding it. As a non-knitter, KT has as little interest in yarn shops as all non-knitters do, but she found this shop, texted me about it, and we visited it on one of my weekend visits.

With this connection to her neighbourhood and its name rooted in Torontonia, I knew immediately this was the shawl for my sister. (Yes, I just made up that word, Torontonia, but if Canadiana and Americana exist as words meaning concerning or characteristic of the country, its civilization, or its culture, then Torontonia can totally be used in the same manner!)

I started 504 King West and worked a few rows while on my cruise. One beautiful thing about this shawl is that it is made with several complementary colours, and I made this one the same way. The variegated Manos is colourful and bright, and it pops against the black Cascade Heritage I bought for contrast. For edging, I was able to use what I have in my sock yarn stash, and I used a self striping yarn; I love that this is the same self stripping yarn that I bought months before at the Knit Cafe.

This shawl was a part of her gift, which also included craft beer from the brewery in her neighbourhood, as well as a photo collage of her neighbourhood favourites and the stunning street art found on Dupont. She might not be physically in her neighbourhood anymore, but now she has a piece of her neighbourhood with her.

Thank you Knit Cafe for publishing such a great pattern with a fantastic Toronto-centric name. It’s a wonderful pattern if you’re looking for a shawl, easily memorized, and very transportable.  Please visit their blog post to check out the pattern and to read the story behind the inspiration for 504 King West.

On Losing at Yarn Chicken, Frogging, and the Benefits of Lifelines

I lost my game of yarn chicken.  Have you ever played this game before? You know the fun game where you continue knitting, unsure if you have enough yarn to actually complete what you’re intending to. Well, I played and lost.

The pattern was Braidsmaid by Martina Behm, and the aforementioned yarn was my hand-dyed DK weight cashmere and merino.  This lovely pattern is knit as one but contains several sections. After some dodgy math on my part and consultation with a friend, I opted to add an additional 16 rows of section 2 before moving onto section 3.  I’ll have enough yarn, I smugly thought to myself.  Foolish, but not entirely, for I had enough sense to thread a lifeline before knitting those fateful 16 rows.

Lifelines are fantastic and as their name suggests, they are a lovely re-assurance. They are AMAZING when you’re making a complicated lace pattern, because heaven forbid you have to rip back and try to pick up yarn overs and k2togs. They are dead simple to do too, simply thread waste yarn through your live stitches on your needle, and once it’s thread through all stitches, knit as normal.  Your lifeline will stay put, holding your stitches and if you have to rip back, your stitches are saved and easily picked up again.

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Demonstrating the lifeline – the white yarn is being thread through the green live stitches while on the needle. Once thread through all the way, the white yarn will ‘hold your place’ if you have to frog your work.,

Side story – we talked about lifelines at the Wednesday knitting circle I attend this past summer.  Bev, who has been knitting for decades, had never heard of this technique before, and she still talks about it!  If I am half as awesome as Bev is when I’m an octogenarian, it’ll be a win. She’s great.

After knitting 50 rows of section 3, and with 30% of my yarn remaining, I removed the needle and re-wound my yarn.  It’s both amazing and heartbreaking to see how quickly the yarn is re-wound.  Hours of work gone in less than three minutes.

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Left: Before frogging; right: after frogging. Thank you lifeline!

Stitches are picked up, but the lifeline is still in place. You never know.