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Although baby knits always seem fun and satisfying to me in theory, in practice I haven’t had great success. I tend to worry a lot about the quality and/or practicality of the baby duds I knit. Will mom like the sweater, or will it be placed in the back of a drawer and forgotten? Or the superwash debate: will the item be worn on the baby’s body in a place that it will easily become encrusted with drool/spit-up/mashed carrots, requiring frequent spins in the wash? Or can I risk using that beautiful alpaca and wool blend that needs to be handwashed? But sizing is the worst.

Babies are so uncooperative, often doubling in size between breakfast and lunch. My estimates of baby size are usually pretty inaccurate, especially if the garment is only really practical to wear two or three seasons from now. I thought I would go with a hat this time and knit it in superwash wool. Pretty simple. It’s not luxurious cashmere booties to be sure, but it’ll keep a baby head warm in October…if her head is 41cm circumference by then…

Pattern: DROPS b16-13 Hat (ravelry link here)
Yarn: Spud & Chloe Fine (80% superwash wool, 20% silk)

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I’ve been wanting to show you this, my reindeer sweater, ever since I finished it last week.

I’m so happy with this sweater – the fit and the style. In fact, and this is a first for any article of clothing I’ve ever worn, within 5 minutes of leaving my house on the first day I wore the reindeer sweater, a complete stranger passed me on the skytrain platform and yelled out “That’s an awesome sweater!” I agree.

The reindeer sweater, let’s be honest, is really an imitation Cowichan sweater. As such, I felt that the body should be knit in one piece as is traditional for Cowichan sweaters. It was a bit more pattern revisions than I realized, because of course I wanted the XO panels to be symmetrical and match up. In fact, by the time I got to knitting the sleeves, I couldn’t face the mental acrobatics of making the charts match up, and I knit them flat. I think a better pattern would have had the charts match up for all sizes, and ideally have the body knit in one piece and the arms knit in the round.

What’s more, I knew right away that I didn’t want a muffin-top sweater. You know, the kind that rides up around the waist as soon as you move. Even though I’m a small person, I have a bigger *ahem* bottom area, so I actually knit a large bottom and then added decreases to change it to the medium size somewhere after the first XO panel. Definitely a good move.

A note on zippers – this is the first one I’ve ever inserted into a handknit, and I have a few tips if you’re interested:

1. Baste the fronts together first! A crooked zipper looks pretty trashy.

2. Probably most importantly, choose a zipper that’s a bit shorter than the actual fronts. I know, it doesn’t seem to make sense. But you know the big wavy beer gut your zippered sweater gets when you sit down? A shorter zipper will help fix this problem. Not too short, though; mine was about 5cm (6%) shorter than the sweater (but placed evenly between the neck and bottom).

3. Hand sew the zipper in place – it’s not worth messing with the tension on your sewing machine to accommodate heavy yarn.

My original post generates more views than almost any other topic I’ve blogged about – clearly you people love your Cowichan-style sweaters! If you remember, I was concerned about ripping off real Cowichan sweaters. But I really do love this sweater so much that I hope it can be taken as a tribute to the original style. And it’s a much nicer tribute than the ubiquitous (at least in Vancouver) TNA sweaters everyone’s been wearing, don’t you think?

Pattern: Reindeer Jacket from Canadian Living (ravelry link here)
Yarn: Cascade Ecological Wool (100% wool)

Mmmmm…mittens!

As many of you know, I stop by Urban Yarns once a week to do some knitting, hang out, and fondle lovely yarns. For the last, I don’t know, 4 or 6 weeks, every time I went I would try on the store sample Bella’s mittens. I was quite smitten. So of course the logical next step was to make my own.

The Bella in question is of Twilight fame, and while I refuse to get sucked in to the saga, I have no problem wearing said mittens. And these were so easy and quick to knit! I estimate each mitten took 5 or 6 hours and the horseshoe cables were easy as pie.

The length is a bit of an issue; very stylish with some sweaters, but difficult with most jackets. Yet I still really like them. I might even make a second, shorter pair. The yarn itself is soft but sheds a bit too much for my liking.

Pattern: Bella’s Mittens by Marielle Henault (ravelry link here)
Yarn: Cascade Pastaza (50% llama, 50% wool)

Now that all recipients have received their gifts, I feel it’s safe to post some photos of the project that has occupied a significant amount of my knitting time over the last month. Last year, when I saw Melynda’s French Press Felted Slippers, it was too late for me to whip up a few pairs as holiday gifts. But I didn’t forget, and managed to knit up several pairs for some deserving recipients this Christmas. Of course, I needed to knit a test pair for myself as well.

Melynda’s suggestion is to use puff paint to paint grippy lines on the bottoms for traction. Man, there’s a blast from the 80s…I used some leather scraps instead, applied to the points where your foot contacts the floor: success!

They’re cozy and cute for sure; my only complaint is they generate a wee bit of static. Seriously, I feel like Peter from the Family Guy shuffling around in his staticky pyjamas and giving people shocks. Apart from this, I think they’re pretty cool and I hope those who received them as gifts do, too.

Happy Holidays, everyone! I’m off to eat more than my fair share of Ferrero Rochers, stuffing, and Japanese oranges. See you in the new year.

The Christmas knits are waiting to be wrapped, the last chocolates and goodies will be purchased today, and I only need to get a bit more wrapping paper. I’m almost ready for Christmas!

One of the Christmas knits was finished in November, and gifted early because, well, it was freezing cold here. So cold that not even his great head of curly hair could keep him warm: Camilo needed his hat in a bad way. We managed to snap some photos during some afternoon sunshine on Sunday.

Pattern: Koolhaas by Jared Flood
Yarn: Mission Falls 1824 Wool

And the really good news is that I can now proceed with holiday knitting of the relaxing kind – my reindeer sweater only needs a few more days of attention, and Bella’s Mitts are pretty high in the queue…

Here’s the little hat I finished a few weeks ago for Jenn’s birthday. It was fairly quick to knit, although I modified the pattern to lose the buttons that ran all up the side in favour of just the two on the brim. I then fought with the question: to bobble, or not to bobble? Not sure I’m a big fan of the bobble; they remind me of too-bulky sweaters with fancy cables that, as children, we were sometimes required to wear to Christmas parties…anyway, I bobbled. It’s ok.

Argyle Lace Hat by Laura Irwin
Blue Sky Alpacas Alpaca & Silk

The rest of the hat, though, was fun to knit. I can, so far, whole-heartedly endorse Blue Sky Alpacas. It’s so soft, easy to knit, has a subtle halo, and these guys have some of the most attractive colourways around. I know this because I’ve walked a dozen circles around Urban Yarns, and I always end up standing in front of the Blue Sky wall.

It might be apparent that I’m struggling with the weaving lately. This is true. Knitting makes way more sense to me than weaving, so while I’ve been wrestling with the loom I’ve had some knitting going on the side. These gloves are the result: I love love love them. They fit. They’re chocolate-coloured. They’re soft and squishy and warm.

I especially appreciate the lace pattern (very easy) and the nice long cuffs. They’re knit with Koigu yarn, which I’ve long admired but never purchased. Sadly, the gloves are pilling quite a bit even though I’ve been wearing them for less than a week. I specifically bought sock yarn to avoid this problem, so Koigu’s in my bad books for now.

Thank you, Heather, for the photos (and the berries!).

I finished weaving this green and grey scarf two weeks ago, but I’ve had trouble taking photos of it. The alpaca has given the scarf a bit of a grey halo that looks fine in person but somewhat dull in photos.

It’s amazing how much the scarf plumped up with fulling (although Irene, my weaving teacher, cautions me that it may be dangerously close to being felted). The difference between the piece on the loom and the piece you see above is amazing – it’s still very hard for me to predict what my pieces will look like after they’ve been washed and transformed.

A few technical notes: This scarf was woven at 10 epi, 2/2 twill, from a combination of wool and alpaca yarns. The weft is a fine merino weaving yarn that I dyed. The alpaca, predictably, adds a lot of softness; unpredictably, it went really squirrelly with fulling. The fringes are a loopy, knotted mess because of it – not sure if tighter fringe would prevent this on future projects, but I can’t say I wasn’t warned about mixing fibres in the warp. Otherwise, it’s a nice, soft fabric.

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