archives: knitting

macro mitts for emily

I knit my first pair of Macro Mitts by Lauren Osborne years ago, and they are my most-worn mittens every winter. Every time my friend Emily saw them, she’d make it very clear how much she wanted her own pair. It’s not as if she couldn’t just knit them herself, but I’d always said that I would make her a pair, though I never got around to it.

But just a week ago, Emily announced she’s moving across the country, from Queens to San Diego. And even though she will have limited times to wear them in San Diego, I knew I had to knit her a pair as a going away present. Of course, we were having dinner on Saturday night and I had this brilliant idea Friday afternoon. But we had nothing but a marathon of Justified Season 4 on the docket so I managed it!

macro mitts | pepperknit

I even knit all 4 Latvian Braids. (I omitted the top ones on my own pair, because I detest knitting those braids!) If that doesn’t show how important this gift was, I don’t know what does.

wee envelope for william

wee envelope | pepperknit

Another cousin is expecting a baby! This time, I decided I’d do something other than the basic Child’s Placket-Neck Pullover that I like so much. But when you research baby sweaters on Ravelry they’re just all so much the same. I favorited several but ultimately I chose Ysolda’s Wee Envelope precisely because it’s completely different from all the others.

For this you start with one sleeve, work across the front yoke, then knit the back yoke, then the other sleeve. At the end you pick up stitches and work the body. It just seemed so much more interesting to knit. I had a decent amount of Malabrigo Arroyo from my Spinster Slouch leftover, and I was able to get close to gauge and a nice fabric on size 6 needles. (I swear I’m not a tight knitter, despite the drastic difference in needle size from the pattern!) I debated what size to knit, since the little one is due in November—and he’ll live in Georgia—so I had to match up my best guess on the kid’s size (his parents are both very tall) with what the weather will be like plus how warm this sweater would actually be . . . so I knit the 3-6 month size. It looks impossibly tiny to me, but I don’t know babies, so I figure he’ll fit into it at some time.

wee envelope | pepperknit

As I’d hoped, this was an interesting knit. It’s not mindless like the Placket Neck would be, and there was some weirdness (you need to pick up across the front yoke, but there’s an I-cord edge there! How do you pick up for that?! The blog post to explain doesn’t address this at all, so I just fudged it, which I have to remind myself is totally the point of being the boss of your knitting), but there were nice long stretches where you didn’t have to think at all. I suspected I wasn’t really going to want/need 2 buttons on each side  (I basically hate dealing with buttons) but since I didn’t know the pattern—and there’s no actual schematic included—I just followed the directions rather than try to make modifications on the fly. In the end, though, the whole thing seemed so small that I just seamed the buttonholes shut. I am not sure that the parents would’ve even noticed the holes, but just in case, I made them go away. If I made the sweater in a bigger size I might include them, but future wee Wee Envelopes are more than likely going to be buttonless from me.

This definitely won’t be the last Wee Envelope I make: cute, fast (knit it in just 2 days), and the pattern includes a huge range of sizes. Yay for a new go-to pattern!

the spinster slouch

pepperknit | spinster slouch

Andy Goldsworthy’s art piece Wood Line inspired me to post a picture to Instagram with the caption “sinuous.” The Spinster Slouch by my friend Val is also most aptly described with that word. I love the way the ribbing seems to dart this way and that on the hat—achieved by crossing 9 stitches at a time.

pepperknit | spinster slouch

I grabbed this yarn—Malabrigo Arroyo in Regatta Blue—and cast on for the hat when I was on my way to the movies one Saturday. I worked on the ribbing on the subway and before the movie started, and then it was my go-to project for the week. The following Saturday I cast off, a finished hat in hand. I worked the cable crossings 4 times because I didn’t read the pattern closely enough and worked the first crossing too soon, and then I wanted the ribbing to be back to normal before I decreased for the crown (this would make sense if you were knitting it). Also with this yarn and needle combo (size 5 needles), it needed that extra length. I wanted a toque more than a slouch in any case, and my yarn was not nearly as drapey as the luxury blend of silk and yak that Val used in the original.

pepperknit | spinster slouch

The hat proved quite useful on a trip to San Francisco, where despite the May date it was frigid at times (note my wool coat!), and particularly on this morning at the Presidio to visit Goldsworthy’s art pieces. (He has 3 others in the park; one was closed to the public because it was a weekday and we hadn’t called ahead, but the other two were easy to see.) Photos were taken by my old friend and professional photographer Andrea Ismert, who I got to spend the day with!

put a bird on it!

pepperknit | knit bird mobile -- group projectWhen we found out that one of our own was pregnant, the members of KBC started discussions of what kind of group gift to give. A quilt, sure, but not everyone sews. So we brainstormed an additional knit idea, and we eventually decided a mobile of knit birds would be cute and kind of funny—the parents, recently relocated to the East Coast after years in Portland, would be no strangers to the concept of putting a bird on it.

Finding a bird pattern led to much snickering when we settled on a free Blue Tit bird pattern from Lion Brand. Be warned: It is a finicky knit, and there was much swearing by all involved. The pattern is clear, it’s just a pain to knit. My bad; I am the one who found the pattern and decided it was the one! Ultimately one of us decided to knit the branches instead of wrestling the yarn into a bird (fine by me–finding random branches and ensuring they were bug-free was kind of stressing me out). Another took on the task of quilting and binding the group quilt (more on that separately), so in the end we had 7 unique birds!

pepperknit | knit bird mobile

Here’s my bird—knit using a random assortment of Cascade 220 from my stash. When I perched it on the branch I made it more “squished” than its natural state, so it got a little chubby. And maybe cuter than it originally was!

I set to perching them either in flight or on the branches so that they made a balanced mobile and oh boy was that a challenge. I used to make mobiles a lot in high school, so I thought it would be sooo easy. But hello, that was 20+ years ago, my skills were rusty, and most of those mobiles involved PAPER ORIGAMI. Not heavy, various-weighted knit birds! I did learn a fishing lure knot tying technique that I think is pretty sturdy and is good to use with filament thread (though I never really succeeded in making it look as taut and neat as in the video), and I feel really good about the finished mobile. I so badly wanted some birds to sit atop branches, but they were so heavy they’d flip right over; thinking to string the vertical supports through the birds was an inspired bit of genius, I thought!

pepperknit | knit bird mobile -- group project

We finally gave the mobile to the family at Maryland Sheep & Wool yesterday. And cutiepie Hazel, knowing it was her flock of birds, set to claiming it immediately—nomming on one right away!

pepperknit | knit bird mobile -- group project

when everything goes right

The last sweater I knit, back in the fall, was less than a success. I didn’t like the final shape, and the fit wasn’t flattering. I still wanted my envisioned boxy, oversized winter sweater, though, and when Michele Wang’s Cordova came out I knew it would be just the thing.

Oh boy was I right.

pepperknit | brooklyn tweed cordova

I slightly exaggerated the oversize: I made the body longer by a few inches (3) and the sleeves, too. I picked the size that would give 4 inches of ease. The yarn, Imperial Yarn Erin, was a dream to work with: woolly but soft, in a perfect heathered gray. Plus how could I resist a yarn with my name! I debated between it and their Columbia 2-Ply, and Jeanne at Imperial described the differences as coming down to Erin being softer and Columbia 3-ply having more color options. Because I wanted gray, which was available in both yarns, Erin was the clear choice. Because I spit-spliced all the joins, I really had relatively few ends to weave in once it was all seamed up.

pepperknit | brooklyn tweed cordova

This was my first time blocking using blocking wires, and that was really satisfying, too–the wires were even probably too flexible for this sturdy sweater, but they worked great for getting the boxy shape set out.

I love so much about this sweater. This was the first time I knit a sweater with a saddle shoulder, and I love the way the big cable goes up all the way to the neck. The trinity stitch on the sides wasn’t the most fun, I’ll admit (k1, p1, k1 in a stitch, followed by p3togging it? slightly tedious), but the cable was easy and looks so impressive. In fact, on my subway right the day we took these photos, a woman came up to ask if I’d knit the sweater (I was knitting a sock at the time, so I suppose that was a tip-off). She told me the cables were just “stunning.” If only she knew how easy they are! 2×2 crossings only, and a mere 6-row repeat.

pepperknit | brooklyn tweed cordova

Of course, I finished it just as the weather started to turn to spring. Luckily we’ve had some pretty frigid days still, and wearing it without a coat is the perfect thing when the temp is in the 50s. And when I work from home, I get SO COLD—throwing this on was just the thing. I’ve already worn it three times in the week since I finished seaming it!