Tea Leaves Cardigan

My version of the Tea Leaves Cardigan, pattern by Melissa LaBarre. This is another old project.

It’s also another pattern that got a lot of attention when it was released. Rightly so, I think. One of the samples was knit out of Madelinetosh Tosh Merino, if I remember correctly. It’s this single-ply merino wool in worsted weight, so it has a soft-focus quality, and the colorway used in the sample was gorgeous. It was catnip to knitters, and it seemed like nearly everyone who posted on the knitting forum I used to frequent was making one. It’s really fun when everyone is excited about something.

I didn’t buy The Color, or even The Yarn. I was too late for that, being a person who contemplates projects for a long time before deciding what I want to do.

I used, instead, Madelinetosh Vintage in a shade called Fig. I love this color. I did my best to capture it on camera, but I still think it’s better in person.

The pattern is easy and fun. My gauge was off, so my sweater turned out a little larger than I intended. I don’t think it’s too large, though, just cozy. It’s very warm.

Below, you can see the edge of the sleeve. Mine kind of bell out a little, which I don’t mind.

Also, on this project I learned about doing a row or two of single crochet around the neckline if it’s stretching too much when you wear it. That helped it fit better.

Looking at it now, I wish we would have just a little longer with chilly weather so I could wear it more.

Prairie Shawl

Continuing with older projects, here is my Prairie shawl. It’s a pattern by Juju Vail and Susan Cropper, and it’s from here:

I love this book. I’ve done eight of the eleven projects in it, a lot for me.

The shawl was fun to knit, and it’s one of my favorite things I’ve made. I really want a snuggly, chunky version, so I need to get on that.

I used Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light yarn in the shade Candlewick. It’s still available! How did that happen? Ha.

Simmer Dim

Simmer Dim, one of my older projects.

Simmer Dim is a pattern by Gudrun Johnston/The Shetland Trader. It’s fairly simple, and I overlooked it at first, but then I saw Loop’s pretty version in green, and had to have one.

I made mine in Madelinetosh’s Tosh Merino Light yarn. The shade is called Celadon, and it’s a color which has proven to be more versatile in my wardrobe than I anticipated.

How I Learned to Knit:

Books.

As far as I know, I didn’t have anyone in my life who knitted until after I learned to knit. This means that, although I wanted to learn, I had no one to teach me.

I’d sit and look at pattern books in the store, and I couldn’t imagine what it must be like to be able to make things like that.

I finally decided I needed to try. I figured I could probably make something happen, even if it was wasn’t elaborate or, well, very nice. I asked for some books for Christmas, ones that had projects I wanted to try. Then, I went to the craft store and got this:

It felt like the right vibe.

I knitted a rectangle. It was crooked. So was the next one. I kept knitting rectangles. Eventually they were not crooked.

I tried something in the round, knitting in circles until my arms were sore. I learned to increase and decrease the number of stitches on my needle intentionally, rather than by accident. I learned how doing this could make pretty patterns in the work.

I bought this set of pattern cards:

You can see how relatively simple the lace patterns are, but effective, and, I thought, pretty. I still think so. I knitted lace rectangles.

I got these classics:

I began to try the patterns for textures, lace, ribbing, etc. on…well, rectangles. I had so many rectangles.

I learned good, practical advice from this book:

It was indispensable to me for quite some time.

I looked at my inspiring pattern books, and bought more. If anything caught my eye, I tried it. A wonderful thing began to happen, which was that I could do whatever I tried. If there was an unfamiliar technique or stitch, I looked it up…in a book, in a forum, an online video, an online video from a different angle or which was slower or faster, whatever it took. I could always find what I needed, someone helpful had always gone before and left a trail for me and others. People are great that way.

So, nothing was out of reach. Nothing. As long as I tried hard enough or for long enough, it happened. Some things took a very long time to get straight, trying, ripping back, trying again, over and over and over. So many hours. But, it always worked out in the end.

One happy day I discovered Ravelry. Suddenly there were more patterns than I could ever even see, just there at my fingertips. I tried so much. Again, whatever caught my eye, no matter how elaborate or difficult-looking. I learned technique after technique from Ravelry. I also learned the absolute necessity of counting, ha.

And, of perfection. Every stitch wasn’t executed perfectly every time, aesthetically speaking, but each kind of stitch needed to be accurately done, at least, and in its place, or it must all be ripped out and redone. If counts are off, if angles are off, the piece will not be end up looking like it should. The way to learn is to do it correctly, even if it’s a huge pain. At least, that’s what I think.

As I said before, it’s a luxury to have the time and resources for learning to do things with your hands, but it’s worth it. It feels like alchemy when you get it right, and having something to lose yourself in is a good and necessary thing. A necessary thing shouldn’t be a luxury, but that’s where we are, I guess. I hope you’ll have time to work on your stuff, whatever it is.

Massive binders of knitting patterns, perhaps?

Creature Comforts Cardi

It wasn’t that I forgot about my intention to catalog older projects here, it was that I lost motivation. It happens. So, a small interlude, books will wait while I clear a post from my drafts.

This is the Creature Comforts Cardi, offered by Madelinetosh yarns. It’s not a new pattern, still, it’s one I’d consider making again. It was simple to make, and the end product is unique without being weird. It’s the kind of garment you can just throw on easily, and it upgrades something casual. I get compliments on this one.

I used Madelinetosh Vintage yarn in the shade Antler for my sweater. It’s a wool that feels, to my hands, like cotton in softness, but with the wonderful elasticity and warmth you get from merino wool. It stands up to wear very well. In general, I tend to prefer the soft, fragile, single-ply yarns, but, let’s face it, the finished garments require lots of TLC, and they aren’t as durable, no matter how carefully they’re treated. If I’m looking for a workhorse, this is what I choose.

The pattern was released in 2010, and I had recently learned to knit. Oh, it blew my mind. Those leaves. Could I own and wear something so nice? Yes, I could!

It’s a luxury to have the time and resources to learn to make things, and I’m grateful I had both at that period in my life. I can’t speak encouragingly enough about learning to make something with your own hands, if you are able. It’s worth the investment. And, this pattern works as an early-stages garment a relatively new knitter can complete.

Candle Light Shawl

This is the Candle Light Shawl, pattern written by Lucy Robson. It was one of my very first small shawl projects. I still think it’s pretty. I have such happy memories of the first time I wore it. It was a cold day in very late fall, and I visited a beautiful garden.

I think a lot of knitters go through an intense small shawl phase. It’s very tempting. Many of the shawls take only one skein of yarn, so you can buy some of your very first fancy yarn and learn which ones you like best. You’re learning new techniques, watching lace or interesting textures form in your hands, and it’s done in a relatively short amount of time. I had to stop, I had so many shawls, but now that I’m talking about it, I want to make some more.

How in the world do you wear a shawl in 2020? I’ve always used them as scarves in cold weather, with the point in front and tucked into my coat. I like how there’s volume in the front so I can be extra cozy.

I caught my first whiff of fall outside yesterday, so I’m thinking about these things.

I knitted this shawl in Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light, the shade is called Dusk. I think this color is discontinued, but there are some current options which are peachy-pinky-beige and would make great substitutes.

Swallowtail Shawl

The Swallowtail Shawl pattern, written by Evelyn A. Clark, has been a favorite of mine to knit. I find it particularly soothing and meditative. The bonus is that it has nupps, which I love everything about: knitting them, looking at them from a distance, inspecting them up close where I can see the subtle variations of color in each component strand of yarn, and feeling the texture when the piece is finished. I’ve made three of these shawls so far, maybe more? I’m not entirely sure, because I give things away.

This is the version I kept. I wanted it to be more cozy and homey, so I knitted the pattern differently in a way I saw some people on Ravelry doing it, with a stockinette top portion, rather than the lace as written. I used a heavier weight of yarn, and didn’t pull the points out when I blocked it, so edges are more rounded, less defined. One of the other versions I made was in a silver-colored pure silk laceweight yarn, with the lacy top as written. That was gorgeous. It’s just a great pattern.

I knitted my shawl in Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light, one of my very favorite yarns. It’s a fingering-weight hand-dyed merino wool, single-ply, which is always my preference. It only took one skein, and the shade is called Vintage Frame. I think this color is discontinued now, which is a pity. They have so many other colors, though, that it’s almost maddening to try to choose one. I guess that explains all the shawls.

Featherweight Cardigan

I’m still going through my older finished projects and posting photos. This one is the Featherweight Cardigan, pattern written by Hannah Fettig. It’s a classic for a reason.

This cardigan was one of my very first knitted garment projects. I was so excited to be making it, and so nervous about whether it would turn out to be wearable!

It is very wearable. It’s a light but warm wooly layer for transitional weather. I’m thinking of making another, and it’s not often I knit a pattern twice. There are so many great designs, and I feel I could keep trying new patterns infinitely and never make all the everything I’d like to. I think this one is worth it though. It’s versatile and easy to wear.

And, it’s an easy and well-written pattern. I love the concept of knitting a sweater in laceweight yarn for a couple reasons. Firstly, the garment is delicate. Secondly, when you buy laceweight yarn, you get more yardage for your money. It just makes sense. The required gauge for this sweater is not terribly small, which means I only needed one skein of yarn for the whole thing. I got an entire cardigan made of great quality hand-dyed merino wool for a materials cost of $24. I think that’s a great deal! Since the garment is basic and not oversized, I didn’t find it took long to make, even in laceweight.

If you have a look at the finished projects on Ravelry, you’ll see some people have made the sweater in heavier weights of yarn, which I wouldn’t mind trying. Also, it’s so plain and basic it would be fun to add interest to the hem or neckline, as you can see some people have done, and it’s easy to vary the sleeve length or the length of the entire garment.

I knitted my sweater in Madelinetosh Tosh Lace, which has been discontinued. Don’t worry, Prairie is still available, and that’s a beautiful yarn. I always prefer single-ply anyway, which I didn’t learn until I had been knitting for a while. I used the shade Kale, which may also be discontinued. It was this funny-sounding combination of a purple-maroon color and pale green. I don’t think it looks funny, though. I love it, although I can’t seem to get the camera to pick up the color very well.

Knotty but Nice Ugh

I didn’t even want to tell you the name of the pattern because I hate puns just that much, but it didn’t seem fair to the designer. Plus, it wouldn’t be consistent with my usual style of post, which would drive me nuts.

More nuts than a pun? I couldn’t decide with certainty. Provisionally, yes, so I have told you the name.

Here’s the link: click here

I found it difficult to get a good photo. Here are my two best efforts, one lit by a lamp, and one lit by the sun:

The pattern was well-written, the result is exactly as advertised, and I hate the fit. I can kind of make it look okay if I turn the front up and wear it a bit like a cloche. And, yes, I know it’s a men’s hat, which may well be why it doesn’t fit my non-man-sized head, but I didn’t originally make it for myself so I’m doing the best I can with what I’ve got. None of the men in the house wanted it, you see. It’s not a bad hat, just not their style.

Anyway, there it is, and it’s done in Madelinetosh Tosh DK. The shade is Thunderstorm.

Oak Knot

Here’s another hat I finished a while ago. I know I posted it before, but I must have removed the post, so here it is again.

Oak Knot, by Juju Vail and Susan Cropper, originally published in Juju’s Loops, one of my very favorite knitting books.

I love this hat. I made it from Cascade 220. The shade is called Galaxy. I want to make at least one more in a softer yarn, but even this slightly itchy version is the hat I wear most often.