Saturday, April 12, 2008

cloudy thoughts

MagKnits is gone. (MagKnits: formerly an online knitting magazine.) Gone. GONE. Poof, in the blink of a monitor, no more. Some designers didn't even have backup copies of their patterns and it's too late now.

I just finished reading The Solace of Leaving Early by Haven Kimmel. It has given me much to consider. Is leaving early cowardice or courage? Is it a good thing to leave before the second act, before the plot gets too messy, before things start to unravel? Is there really solace in that? Or is one cheating oneself (who says "oneself"?) by trying to avoid the sticky tangled consequences of the first act?

I stay up too late at night by myself. For the sake of a few hours of my own thoughts, I handicap the next day with inadequate rest. Is that my way of leaving early? Am I trying to give myself an excuse for not being fully present in the daytime? Is this pathological avoidance or laziness? Am I thinking too much about this? (Finally a question with a clear answer!) Yes. Go to bed.

But first, how about a picture to liven things up? Remember those Miranda Mitts from the last post? When I was experimenting with the mitered rib, the first yarn that I tried was a beautiful cream wool/silk/angora handspun. After I knit and ripped back 3 or 4 times, I decided that maybe angora wasn't the best fiber to experiment with--but here is a picture of it. Note the kiwi fruit. I was feeling poetic.

Tina, you said "Blog more" but this probably isn't what you had in mind.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Miranda Mitts (no early bird here)

***I keep editing this post to fix little errors in the pattern. Sorry.***
***Edited a link due to the demise of MagKnits...Sorry again.***

I'm on a bit of a roll today, this being my second post in one day. Nevertheless, I'm bummed. I wrote a pattern last fall for some mitts knit from my handspun. I intended to submit it to Knitty or Magknits or somebody, but I suffered a crisis of confidence and did nothing. After my last post, I was messing around with Ravelry's pattern linking and I thought I'd post my mitts so I could link to them on my designer page. Then I had a bright idea: I decided to check out MagKnits deadlines and maybe submit the pattern. I clicked over to MagKnits, glanced at their current patterns page and saw (dun dun duhhhh) a pattern for mitts that have the SAME styling, though a rather more refined version (skinny yarn, more complicated construction). D'oh!

I've decided to stop dithering and post this pattern. I swear to you all that I did not copy Sarah Wilson and her lovely Angularities; I knit these during the 2007 Little League baseball season. I have witnesses.

Here is the pattern, which I suppose should be announced with a flourish, but instead it's getting more of a dismissive wave...

Miranda Mitts
by Valerie Wallis

One evening while folding laundry by the oh-so-romantic flickering glow of the television, I wrapped a knitted washcloth around my wrist, curious to see how the diagonally-knit ribs would look as a sleeve. My sweetie looked over and said, “Ooo, that’s sexy.” That’s pretty much all the motivation I needed to figure out this pattern.

There was never any question of what yarn to use; since learning to spin last winter, I’ve been trying to find ways to wear my handspun on a daily basis. This 2-ply merino was my first wheel-spun yarn and the fiber was handpainted by etsy-seller Nettie and Tuddy ( The ribbing makes for a very accommodating and stretchy fabric. The centered double decrease creates a crisp line that stands in contrast to the nubbly, rustic handspun. A finger loop keeps the point in place on the back of the hand and I find it rather evocative. Perhaps Miranda on her island would have made herself something similar.

One size

Wrist, with ribbing unstretched: 6.5 inches
Length, point to point: 9.5 inches

70 yards of fluffy aran weight yarn; 8 WPI
Fiber used in sample mitts was spun from 1.6 oz of Merino wool

1 set of five US #10/6mm double-point needles
1 size H crochet hook

3 sts = 1 inch in stockinette stitch

Centered Double Decrease (CDD): Slip 2 stitches at once as to knit. Knit the next stitch; pass the 2 slipped stitches over the knit stitch.

Cast on 36 stitches. Divide stitches between 4 DPNs with 10 stitches on 1st needle, 8 on the 2nd, 10 on the 3rd, and 8 on the 4th needle. Join, being careful to keep stitches untwisted, and work in the round.

ROW 1: *YO, (k1, p1) 3 times, k1, CDD; (k1, p1) 3 times, k1, YO, k1. Repeat from *.
ROW 2: *(P1, k1) 4 times, k1; (k1, p1) 4 times, k1. Repeat from *. (As you knit this round, knit the 1st stitch from needles 2 and 4 onto the ends of needles 1 and 3 so as to position the stitches for the CDD on the next round.)
Row 3: *YO, (p1, k1) 3 times, p1, CDD; (p1, k1) 3 times, k1, YO, k1. Repeat from *.
Row 4: *(K1, p1) 4 times, k1; (p1, k1) 4 times, p1. Repeat from *. (Again, as you knit this round, knit the 1st stitch from needles 2 and 4 onto the ends of needles 1 and 3 to position the stitches for the CDD on the next round.)

Repeat these 4 rows until work is 6 inches long, ending with row 2 on needles 1 and 2, and casting off in pattern the 17 stitches on needles 3 and 4. The last stitch of the round (the side rib) shifts to the front of needle 1 to become the first stitch of the next row (19 sts remaining).

Begin working back and forth, creating the top point of the mitt. (Be sure to stop making yarn-overs unless you want a square-edged mitt rather than a pointy one, which actually could be interesting…but would probably just look floppy.)

Row 1 of Point (RS): Slip 1st stitch as to purl, *(p1, k1) until 2 sts from center st, p1, CDD, (p1, k1) to end.
Row 2 (WS): Slip 1st stitch as to purl, follow rib pattern across row, accommodating center stitch whether it should be k or p.
Row 3: Slip 1st stitch as to purl, *(p1, k1) until 2 sts from center st, k1, CDD, k1, (p1, k1) to end.
Row 4: Repeat row 2.

Repeat these 4 rows until only 3 sts remain. Work a CDD on the RS to decrease to 1 stitch. Using a crochet hook, chain 10 and join with a slip st to the back of the point. Draw yarn through loop to fasten off. Now make another.

Weave in ends. Block if desired.

Copyright 2007 Valerie Wallis. This pattern is provided free for personal, non-commercial use. Stores may not sell this pattern or give it away to customers. This pattern may not be redistributed in any way without permission of the designer.

All text and images on this site is copyright the author, Valerie Wallis. Images and text may not be used on other sites without permission of the author.

embossed daisies

Marly (Hiya Miss Marly!) called me a couple of days ago from her location at a magazine rack about 800 miles away from me. Why? Why indeed. Because she's a sweetie. Because she was looking at the latest (May 2008) issue of Creative Knitting Magazing. Because she saw my name. Wheeeeeeeeeee! (Little plug for Creative Knitting: Its niche is accessible knitting. If sometimes the challenging designs of those other wonderful knitting magazines makes you heave a big sigh, check out CK. I think this latest issue has a particularly nice balance of simple yet charming designs. ) (And I'm talking about the other designs, because I'm trying desperately to keep from pointing out all the flaws in mine. Relax, Valerie.)

I haven't received my copy yet, but the magazine has pictures of the current issue's projects on its website. I found this link: Embossed Daisies. It features a drastically cropped photo of the sweater which serves to show off the model's sparkling white smile and a glimpse of the sweater's collar. Oh yes, and the sweater drooping a bit from her elegant, narrow shoulders. It looks to me like they steamed the stuffing out of that cotton yarn, because if you click over to the magazine photo, you will note a vast difference in the appearance of the knitted fabric versus that shown in my photo...

The day I took that photo, I vowed to my friend Jenny (who graciously modeled the sweater for me) that I would never knit for pay again. Well. Somehow, as in childbirth, the pain of that endeavor has faded and I'm ready to have another (sweater) baby. I'll be doing a tweed jacket for CK's January '09 issue. This one should be much better--after all, I've done this before...heh heh. Wish me luck.