New (Free) Pattern: The Windbreaker Hat

The Windbreaker hat is a ridiculously stretchy cabled hat. Quick and easy to knit, the free pattern uses less than 1 skein of worsted weight yarn and is a great gift. #knitting | withwool.com

The Windbreaker hat got the chance to live up to it’s name this weekend. The Bearded One and I trekked through the falling snow, wind, and 19 degree temps to run errands and grab lunch. Every minute outside, the hat kept his head warm and the wind out. No cold ears here.
 
Windbreaker is a ridiculously stretchy cabled hat. Seriously. It fits both me (22") and the Bearded One’s 24” noggin. The secret to this stretch is that the hat, even the cables, are based in 2x2 rib. This has the added bonus of making the hat an easy knit while the cables keep things interesting. And thanks to the long brim, Windbreaker can be worn as a slouchy hat or with the brim folded for an extra layer against the cold.

The Windbreaker hat is a ridiculously stretchy cabled hat. Quick and easy to knit, the free pattern uses less than 1 skein of worsted weight yarn and is a great gift. #knitting | withwool.com
The Windbreaker hat is a ridiculously stretchy cabled hat. Quick and easy to knit, the free pattern uses less than 1 skein of worsted weight yarn and is a great gift. #knitting | withwool.com

The pattern uses worsted weight yarn, and this hat is made with less than one skein of Berroco Ultra Alpaca (Oceanic Mix). Both written and charted instructions are included for the cables and crown decreases. The pattern includes two sizes, medium and large, and an option to work a longer section of cables and a shorter brim.

Add it to your queue and favorites on Ravelry!

Sizes: Medium (Large) - Shown in size Large which fits a head circumference up to 24" (61 cm)

Needles: US 7 (4.5 mm) 40" circular needle (for magic loop) OR 16" circular needle and DPN's

Gauge: 13 sts and 13 rows = 2" (5 cm) in 2x2 rib, unstretched

Yarn: 130 (145) yds / 119 (133) m worsted weight yarn. Shown in Berroco Ultra Alpaca - Oceanic Mix.

Notions: Cable Needle, Tapestry Needle

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6 Tips for Finishing Last Minute Gift Knitting

Whether you’re just casting on or have a long knit list, follow these tips to get your #knitting wrapped and under the tree. | withwool.com   

There’s no denying it. We are smack dab in the middle of the holiday season. There’s not much time left to get those knitted gifts bound off and wrapped. Whether you’re just casting on or started early and still have a chunk of stuff to stitch, follow these tips to get that stuff under the tree.

Make a list, and check it twice.
I know it’s tempting to just get started, but a list of what you’re making and for whom is your best friend. The “knit this” list might not seem that long in your head, but could be a bit more daunting on paper. Trim as needed to save your sanity and make sure you get a few hours of sleep here and there. Plus, you’ll be able to make sure you have all your supplies ahead of time and skip late night trips to the store.

If you’ve got a lot of people to knit for, stick to small projects.
Hats, fingerless mitts, small toys, ornaments, washcloths, slippers/chunky socks are all fair game. T-minus twenty days and counting is not the best time to cast on for that heirloom lace weight shawl with patterning on every row.

Go big.
Thicker weight yarn, worsted and up, works up way faster than fingering weight. A cabled hat knit in worsted weight yarn can be quick project with big impact.

Give yourself some wiggle room.
That color work stocking might take more time than you think. Or you could run out of yarn and have to make a late night shopping trip. Or you want to enjoy the holiday season and parties without furiously stitching through every one of them. And you can take well needed breaks. Your wrists will thank you when they’re not sore and stiff on December 26th.

Monogamous knitting works.
Hear me out. Knitting one project all the way through goes so much faster than splitting your knitting time between 5 different WIPs. I stuck with monogamous knitting in November 2017 and rocketed through a scarf, two hats, the 2nd half of a shawl, and a bundle of ornaments.  If you really can’t stand the thought of one project at a time or need some out and about knitting, focus on just two projects. One can be simple and the other complex. A little variety can help get you over the “don’t want to work on this” hump.

You can quit.
Seriously, you can quit. Maybe there’s a point where you look at your knit list and know that there’s no way it’ll be finished, late nights or not. I’ve been there. It’s frustrating. The upside is that you’re in control of your knitting, goals, and plans which means you can decide what’s right for you and your time. And if you don’t tell people what you’re making them, they can’t be disappointed it’s not done. So get some sleep, go to that party, and ditch the added stress.

Monogamous Knitting For The Win

A little bit of monogamous #knitting works! I knit a scarf and hat in 2.5 weeks.  | withwool.com   

I did it! Two and a half weeks of monogamous dedicated knitting turned into cabled scarf and a matching hat. It’s nice to know I can still speed my way through a project or two every now and then. Why the rush? The scarf and hat were gifts for a friend visiting over Thanksgiving and I wanted to give them to him in person. Nothing like a hard deadline to light a fire under under your butt.

A little bit of monogamous #knitting works! I knit a scarf and hat in 2.5 weeks.  | withwool.com

I spent way too long trying to pick out a pattern which is part of why I cast on at the last minute. Nothing seemed quite right, and I was just about to give up and design something myself when the Palindrome scarf popped up. Easy reversible cables? Yes, please. I knit this pattern way back when as a newish knitter and was pleased with the results then. And I’m pleased again with this latest version. The only difference this time is that I made a few mods. The scarf started and ended with 2.25” of ribbing. I added an extra cable repeat for width. Plus, cable twists happened every 8 rows for a looser cable.

I can’t leave out the yarn’s wonderful contribution either. Normally, I wouldn’t choose Ultra Alpaca for a cabled project because the alpaca/wool blend wouldn’t have the same crisp texture as a 100% wool yarn. I wasn’t worried about that in this case since the purls would be “hiding” and not acting a background for the cables. The blend created a beautiful textured fabric that is perfect. And warm. Did I mention warm? The main reason I picked a wool/alpaca blend was that it’d be worn through winters with regular snow, wind, and freezing temps.

A little bit of monogamous #knitting works! I knit a scarf and hat in 2.5 weeks.  | withwool.com

And because the weather required it, I made a matching hat. I did end up coming up with a pattern for this beauty at the last minute. My original plan was to have both the scarf and hat finished before he arrived. That didn’t quite happen. In fact, I knit most of the hat in front of him and figured out the crown decreases on a drive through the mountains.  Then I gave it to him mere moments after weaving in the ends. The look on his face was totally worth it.

I am absolutely smitten with this hat pattern. So much so that I’m writing it up with a few more sizes so I can knit at least one more for myself or as gifts. I’m all for versatility. In the meantime I’m getting on with the rest of my gift knitting and making. Since monogamous knitting has been working for me, I’m going to keep it up. Thankfully, the rest of my projects are on the small side so I won’t get bored and can power through.

The Pattern: Palindrome Scarf and a hat pattern I’m writing up
Yarn: 3 skeins Berroco Ultra Alpaca
Needles: US 7 (4.5 mm) circulars
Dates: November 5 - 24, 2017
Scarf details @Ravelry
Hat details @Ravelry

 

A Knitting Conundrum

I can’t settle on a stitch pattern for this sock. Cables? Texture? Ribbing? 

This is a sock toe, and the first of a pair that I’m making for the Bearded One. It also happens to be one of my most confounding pieces of knitting I’ve got going right now. Not because it took frequent try-on’s to make sure the stitch count is correct. Not because of its 76 stitch circumference. Not because I’m knitting the sock inside out so I can skip purling a princess sole. Nope, all of that stuff is stuff I’m used too - even knitting a pair of socks inside out.  The problem is that I can’t decide what stitch pattern to use over the top of the foot and up the cuff.  

My original back of the envelope plan was to work an alternating 2x2 rib for the entire sock. For example, *k2,p2* for 8 rounds, and switch to *p2, k2* for another 8 rounds. Repeat until bind off.  Now I’m not sure. 38 stitches for half the sock is a lot of space to cover, and I wanted to add some interest both for the eye and my fingers. And of course I want the Bearded One to like them too. Does that mean cables? A simple texture pattern? Some sort of edge detail going up the side of the foot? I have no idea. Good thing the yarn is pretty and nice to look at while I ponder my choices.

Any tips to help me solve this knitting conundrum? 

The Inseparable Duo

Rebecca Danger’s patterns never let me down with I need a cute gift. Say hello to Beatrice and Bernard! | withwool.com

I knew I was going to have leftover yarn. Not a tiny little ball I could put in my hand and post to Instagram tagged #socute. Nope. After binding off the February Baby Sweater, I had about 125 yards to work with and I want to make something cute to match. I thought about booties and hats but shelved the idea. I wanted something that could be used and enjoyed for more than a few minutes before being tucked away in a drawer to keep safe for later. A cute, soft toy seemed like just the thing.

Rebecca Danger’s patterns never let me down with I need a cute gift. Say hello to Beatrice and Bernard! | withwool.com

Every toy I’ve made from a Rebecca Danger pattern has been a big hit. Like this cat that’s now a favorite. And this tiger. I picked The Inseparable Beatrice and Bernard this time because they’re adorable and not too big. The fact that the duo is a relatively quick and easy project might have had something to do with it too. Didn’t hurt that I already had the right safety eyes too. 

I knit the arms and tail first just to get the fiddly bits out of the way. Knitting the bodies went fast once I actually sat down to do it. I followed all my usual mods, which I’ve listed on the Ravelry project page, and ended up with 2 adorable buddies. And who could resist that cute bunny tail!

A post shared by April Klich (@aprilklich) on

Pattern: The Inseparable Beatrice and Bernard by Rebecca Danger

Yarn: 57 yds Cascade 220 Superwash - Lake Chelan Heather

Needles: US 4 (3.5 mm)

Dates: March 28 - April 28, 2017

All mods listed on Ravelry

The Famous February Baby Sweater

Pithy instructions, a little garter stitch, and a bunch of lace make up the famous February Baby Sweater. It’s a good test of knitting skill too. |    withwool.com

I spent the first few months of 2017 working on secret knitting. It was a baby gift for a good friend of mine, and now that the sweater is at it’s new home, I can share it with you too. When I first heard that my friend was having a baby, I thought about making a blanket. She had plenty of those coming in though so I decided to make a cute sweater instead. After scrolling through page after page of baby sweaters on Ravelry I picked Elizabeth Zimmerman’s February Baby Sweater. The pattern has been in my queue for awhile but that’s not why I picked it. It looked cute and I wanted to make something with lace for a dedicated lace knitter.  

I went into this project knowing EZ’s patterns have a reputation of being, as she calls them, “pithy”. Concise, terse, succinct, condensed… Having made a Pi Shawl a few years ago, I thought I knew what I was getting into. I was mistaken. 

Pithy instructions, a little garter stitch, and a bunch of lace make up the famous February Baby Sweater. It’s a good test of knitting skill too. |    withwool.com

After years of knitting from (and writing) more detailed row-by-row instructions, the 3 paragraph pattern took some getting used to. It wasn’t that the pattern was hard to understand - the gist of it was definitely there - I just had a lot of questions about specific details. So I had to answer them for myself. Thankfully, lots of other people have knit this sweater and I found helpful mods and size charts to make a 9-month sized sweater. Swatching was definitely a requirement. 

Pithy instructions, a little garter stitch, and a bunch of lace make up the famous February Baby Sweater. It’s a good test of knitting skill too. |    withwool.com

Since I was writing more detailed instructions to work from, I made a few of my own modifications to knit the sweater to my own preferences. You can find the full details on the project page.

  • Cast on more stitches and worked fewer rows before starting the first yoke increase row to get a wider neck opening.
  • Switched out the "M1" for "kfb" because it looked neater. 
  • Worked the button band over more stitches and made larger button holes.
  • I knit the body of the sweater flat, but worked the sleeves in the round. After reaching the spot to set up for the sleeves, I knit those stitches with waste yarn and decreased to get the stitch count of the sleeves. Then I came back, picked out the waste yarn, and put the live stitches on the needles to knit the sleeves just like an afterthought heel. Finicky? A little, but I got a neat, seamless join that didn’t break the lace pattern. Totally worth it in my book. 
Pithy instructions, a little garter stitch, and a bunch of lace make up the famous February Baby Sweater. It’s a good test of knitting skill too. |    withwool.com

The February Baby Sweater is definitely worth the effort, and I encourage you to make one yourself. I say this counting the time that I frogged the sweater back to the cast on because I had to re-do the yoke increases. Figuring out how to get exactly what you want out of this pattern is a good test of skill that will up your knitting game. Plus, the lace and garter stitch are an absolutely beautiful combination. I am proud to give this sweater to a good friend who is also an amazing knitter. 

P.S. Since this post has gotten on the long side, I’ll show you what I did with the leftovers next. 

Pattern: Baby Sweater on Two Needles (February) by Elizabeth Zimmerman

Yarn: 317 yds Cascade 220 Superwash - Lake Chelan Heather

Needles: US 6 (4 mm)

Dates: January 18 - April 28, 2017

@Ravelry

FO: Shawls for Two

I made an Elder Tree Shawl and a Myndie Shawl as gifts for two excellent friends. | withwool.com

An Elder Tree Shawl and a Myndie Shawl. These were the 2 big projects I made for the holiday gift knitting rush. I was definitely rushing and around to finish things at the last minute, but these two were first on the list so I wouldn’t stress over them. Staying up late, counting, beads, and an impending sense of doom are not a good mix for me. So, once I’d finalized the knitting gift list and pulled the needed yarn from stash, I started on the Elder Tree Shawl. It was the most complicated project on the list and I didn’t want to rush it. 

I made an Elder Tree Shawl and a Myndie Shawl as gifts for two excellent friends. | withwool.com

Elder Tree turned out to be a fairly easy knit once I got the pattern straight in my head. Except for this one repeat. It was almost finished and I was all too happy to mark my progress. Then I got to the far edge of the pattern and noticed my stitch count wasn’t quite right. My first inclination was to fudge it and keep going, but no such luck. The leaves were mashed together and I had no choice but to rip back. Still, I didn’t want to lose a night’s progress and tried ripping just that one portion. Probably would have worked too if there’d been enough yarn to work all the stitches. I ripped and reknit that one section 2 or 3 times and it never looked right. So, out came the needles, all of those rows turned into yarn again, and I spent the rest of the night making sure the yarn overs didn’t run away. Worth it. 

I made an Elder Tree Shawl and a Myndie Shawl as gifts for two excellent friends. | withwool.com

The yarn, Jojoland Melody Superwash, and the lace worked so well together. I happened to have purple beads from a previous project and they were the perfect added touch to the last repeat. This was the first time I’ve knit a beaded shawl and I love the look. Definitely need to add a few to the queue for myself. 

I made an Elder Tree Shawl and a Myndie Shawl as gifts for two excellent friends. | withwool.com

And now the Myndie Shawl. This pattern is also on the list of things I want to knit for myself this year. Once I figured out how to work the pattern in a heaver yarn, it was smooth sailing. I ended up using way less yardage than the pattern called for, but you wouldn’t be able to tell. Thanks to a firm blocking, this shawl grew from a sad looking lump to beautiful 80” long wrap. 

Knitting a shawl or anything else as a gift can be a stressful and time consuming endeavor, but I’m happy to do it for good friends and family. It’s not something I do lightly either, because every stitch is a declaration of how much I care for and appreciate the recipient. I’m not a human knitting machine after all. 

I made an Elder Tree Shawl and a Myndie Shawl as gifts for two excellent friends. | withwool.com
I made an Elder Tree Shawl and a Myndie Shawl as gifts for two excellent friends. | withwool.com

Pattern: The Elder Tree Shawl by Sylvia McFadden

Yarn: 431 yds Jojoland Melody Superwash - ms08

Needles: US 4 (3.5mm) circulars

Dates: September 21 - October 9, 2016

@Ravelry

Pattern: Myndie by Ambah O’Brien

Yarn: 358 yds Araucania Nature Wool - 07

Needles: US 8 (5 mm) circulars

Dates: October 10 - 16, 2016

@Ravelry  

Aubie The Captivating Tiger

Say hello to Aubie the Captivating Tiger! | withwool.com

Say hello to Aubie the Captivating Tiger! He was one of the last projects I made for the 2016 gift knitting rush, and definitely the cutest of the bunch.  At first Aubie was going to be a cat knit in a bright, unnatural color like this one, but then a few thoughts came at me all at once. One, said cat is going to be knit for the daughter of one of my best friends from college. Two, said college mascot is a tiger (War Eagle!) and there’s no lack of school spirit in their house. Three, I had yarn in perfect Auburn colors. There was no way I couldn’t knit Aubie.

Say hello to Aubie the Captivating Tiger! | withwool.com

I made the arms and tail first so I could sew them on as soon as the body was finished. I also spent a good chunk of time embroidering the face and getting the expression just so. He was technically done, but looked naked. So he got a bandana. I used my Show Off Boomerang shawl pattern as a base. When it was wide enough to cover the front half of the body, I cast on more stitches to wrap around the rest of the neck. Then I knit a few more rows, bound off, and added a button. Aubie was ready to hit the road.             

Say hello to Aubie the Captivating Tiger! | withwool.com

Since I’ve made several of Rebecca Danger’s toys, I have a few mods that I make every time. You can see the full list on the Ravelry project page. For Aubie, I also tried something new. I’ve always had a hard time sewing arms on toys with a nice looking seam. Were the arms on there? Sure, but it wasn’t always pretty. This time I used duplicate stitch, making sure to go through both layers of arm every time I made a new stitch. The seam is both sturdy and near invisible. This kind of seaming does make the arms stick up a little, but that only adds to the charm. 

The pattern base I used, Greta the Captivating Cat by Rebecca Danger, has never let me down. It’s cute in any yarn, a quick & easy project, and is a great canvas for special added touches. Plus, kids and adults love it. I was so tempted to keep this one for myself because it was too cute. I’ve got plenty of yarn to make a twin though and I’m sure I will.

Say hello to Aubie the Captivating Tiger! | withwool.com

Pattern: Greta The Captivating Cat by Rebecca Danger

Yarn: 93 yds Knit Picks Telemark, Tangelo and Skyline, and 17 yds Wool of the Andes Sport, White

Needles: US 3 (3.25 mm) circulars

Date: December 3 - 11, 2016

@Ravelry

2016 Gift Tag Round-Up

It's almost time to put all those knitted, crocheted, and handmade goodies under the tree. So, I'm rounding up a few of my favorite printable gift tags to make wrapping faster and easier. Anything to get a few more minutes of knitting time is a good thing!   

And here's the last gift tag round up with even more goodies!

Lovely, and simple gift tags for puresweetjoy.com

I love the simplicity of this lovely gift tags from puresweetjoy.com.

Enjoy these cute fox and reindeer gift tags with Scandinavian flair from  foxandhazel.com

Looking for something cute and colorful? foxandhazel.com has beautiful gift tag printables with a Scandinavian twist. 

Gift tags with just the right amount of snark from  smallfriendly.com

Need a little snark to go with your handmade gift? smallfriendly.com has you covered. 

Printable gift tags with vintage flair from  Sew DIY .

Want a vintage touch to your tags? Here are some simple, cuties from Sew DIY

Sweet and straight to the point gift tags from  masondixonknitting.com

Simple and straight to the point gift tags are great too. Get this free tag from masondixonknitting.com.

Free Pattern: Waffle Time Washcloth

The Waffle Time Washcloth is just the right size with a stitch pattern that looks great on both sides. | withwool.com

After knitting more washcloths and kitchen towels than I care to count, I have some very definite opinions about washcloths. The stitch pattern doesn’t have to be reversible, but it should look good on both sides. Garter stitch borders are a plus. Cloths with a bit of texture are perfect for scrubbing. And any washcloth much larger than a 7” square is unwieldy and too big. 

The Waffle Time Washcloth is just the right size with a stitch pattern that looks great on both sides. | withwool.com
The Waffle Time Washcloth is just the right size with a stitch pattern that looks great on both sides. | withwool.com

I wanted to make a few washcloths as gifts and couldn’t find a pattern that I matched all my criteria. So I picked a scrubby stitch pattern and went from there. The cloths were quick to knit, and they’ll be sweet gifts with some lotion and a nice bar of soap.

If you share any of my opinions on washcloths, you can get the pattern below. Happy knitting! 

The Waffle Time Washcloth is just the right size with a stitch pattern that looks great on both sides. | withwool.com

Still Gift Knitting

Just need to finish this tiger and I’ll be so close to finishing 2016’s gift knitting. | withwool.com

I’m knitting a tiger. Well, a cat with orange and blue stripes. The pattern, Greta the Captivating Cat by Rebecca Danger, is one I’ve knit before with great results. It’s cute, cuddly, and sweet too. Once you cast on, it’s also a fast and simple knit though it doesn’t seem that way if you knit the body and then the arms, tail, and ears. To speed things along and get a finished tiger sooner, or at least make it seem that way, I knit the arms and the tail first. Then I don’t have to wait to sew them on. Anything to make holiday gift knitting in December a smoother process is fine by me. 

As for the rest of this year’s gift knitting, I’m calling it. All the big stuff I wanted to do, is done aside from a good soak and blocking. It’s all the little things that I kept adding to the list that I’m skipping. The endless variations of ornaments and “wouldn’t this be neat” things were stressing me out. So they’re gone. I’m going to knit a few ornaments, finish that pair of handspun socks, and call it good. Besides, I’d much rather stay up late playing Final Fantasy XV than worry over my knitting. My wrists and shoulders are already thanking me. 

Knitting Handspun Socks Part 2

I’m knitting a sock inside out! | withwool.com

I’m still knitting my first pair of socks from handspun (you can read part 1 of the tale here). It’s also the first time I’ve tried adding a princess sole - the smooth side of stockinette stitch is against the sole of the foot instead of the bumps - to a pair of socks. The socks have been great purse knitting, but the making the first sock was slow going because off all the purling on the sole and gusset increases. 

I’m knitting a sock inside out! | withwool.com

Why is so easy to overlook the simplest solution to a problem and instead go with a more complicated fix? After I turned the heel and knit the heel flap, a light bulb went off in my head. I could knit the second sock inside out! The only purling I’d have to do would be for the top half of the toe and the ribbing. I used the same cast on at the toe and the same increases. Instead of purling the sole, I purled the top half of the toe. I reversed the rib pattern from *k2, p2* to *p2, k2*. I’m glad I went with a simple stitch pattern over the foot otherwise knitting the sock inside out would be a little more complicated. 

I’m knitting a sock inside out! | withwool.com

The little bit of effort I put in upfront has been worth it because the second sock is zooming along. It’s almost time to knit the gusset which will actually be easier to work inside out. The combination of purled increases and marled yarn made it really hard to tell if I’d correctly worked an increase row on the first sock. Or if I was even on an increase row. Happy to have solved that problem this time around.

Okay, now it’s time to double check my gusset math and get back to the gift knitting. 

FO: Gramps Cardigan

Adorable baby sweaters and adorable! I made the Gramps Cardigan as a gift and am absolutely thrilled with how it turned out. FO: Gramps Cardigan | withwool.com

My secret knitting is no longer secret! The sweater can get its time in the spotlight now that it’s arrived at its new home. If I hadn’t been keeping this a surprise, it would have shown up several times and probably with a poem titled ‘An Ode To Ripping’. I haven’t written said poem but could have thanks to all the inspiration knitting the sweater gave me. All the frogging aside, the Gramps cardigan turned out to be a lovely sweater that I was proud to give to a very good friend and her new baby.

Adorable baby sweaters and adorable! I made the Gramps Cardigan as a gift and am absolutely thrilled with how it turned out. FO: Gramps Cardigan | withwool.com

When I was trying to decide what to make, I had to cross blankets off the list because I didn’t have the time. A hat or booties didn’t seem like enough, but a sweater seemed just right. After a couple hours looking through baby sweater patterns on Ravelry, I picked the Gramps Cardigan by Kate Oates. The finished sweaters all looked really cute. Plus, I like the idea of dressing up babies in vintage “old-man” style sweaters. Sold. I ordered the yarn, knit a swatch, and cast on. 

The knitting was pretty easy and the cables were fun to work once I got the pattern in my head. All the times I had to rip were my own fault for not reading ahead. I ripped because I didn’t like how I’d handled the cable pattern next to the neck decreases. I ripped again because I knit the first sleeve before knowing where I’d have to match up the cable patterns and said sleeve turned out way too long. I ripped a third and forth time because I kept messing up the short row shawl collar. Tinking short rows worked in 2x2 rib is not my jam, but binge watching Haven helped get me through it. 

Adorable baby sweaters and adorable! I made the Gramps Cardigan as a gift and am absolutely thrilled with how it turned out. FO: Gramps Cardigan | withwool.com
Adorable baby sweaters and adorable! I made the Gramps Cardigan as a gift and am absolutely thrilled with how it turned out. FO: Gramps Cardigan | withwool.com

It’s been awhile since I’ve blocked a sweater and it wasn’t as complicated as this one. The cables definitely needed some tidying up and the shawl collar needed a little preening too. It got a good bath with a capful of Eucalan before I squeezed all the water out that I could. I was holding my breath when I unrolled it and did my initial measurements so I could block it to size. It hadn’t grown, or shrunk, and the sleeves hadn’t added any extra inches. Whew. I used my blocking wires and this tutorial from Tin Can Knits to get the cables looking crisp and even. The wires also added just the right amount of structure to support the shawl collar while it dried. 

Adorable baby sweaters and adorable! I made the Gramps Cardigan as a gift and am absolutely thrilled with how it turned out. FO: Gramps Cardigan | withwool.com

The last step was sewing on the buttons which I did after the sweater had dried. Then I just had to mail it and it got there just in time. Now, I’m not saying this sweater has baby summoning powers but I’m not going to explicitly deny it either. 

The Specs

Pattern: Gramps Cardigan by Kate Oates 

Yarn: 363 yds Cascade 220 Superwash - Citron

Needles: US 6 (4mm) Circulars

Date: April 12 - May 12, 2016

@Ravelry

FO: Precipitous Cuffs

The kind of yarn you use matters! I used 2 different yarns to make 2 pairs of Precipitous cuffs on the same needles, and got two wildly different finished projects. -  FO: Precipitous Cuffs  |  withwool.com

I’ve been a little lazy updating Ravelry with project details and recent stash enhancements. Part of the plan for this week is to photograph fiber and update my stash catalog. I’m bribing myself into doing the work with knitting on a fun new project which is working pretty well.  As I was scrolling through my project page, I realized that I’ve never talked about the last few things I made as gifts in 2015. That’s the problem with secret knitting - sometimes it easy to forget to talk about it after it’s been given away and the festivities are over. Fixing that right now. So, here’s the Precipitous Cuffs I knit for my Mom and a friend.  

The kind of yarn you use matters! I used 2 different yarns to make 2 pairs of Precipitous cuffs on the same needles, and got two wildly different finished projects. -  FO: Precipitous Cuffs  |  withwool.com

I had some difficult criteria to match while picking out stuff to knit for gifts. The pattern had to be relatively quick to knit ( I was on a holiday gift knitting deadline); use yarn I already had; and be small enough to pack in a suitcase for the flight to visit my folks. Plus, the recipients had to like it too. Enter Precipitous by Hunter Hammersen. I had a dark charcoal yarn which would be perfect. Partway through this first pair, I realized my Mom would like a pair too. While these weren’t the hardest things to knit from almost black yarn, I was glad to make the second pair in golden yellow. They were both pretty quick to knit too even with all the twisted stitches.

The kind of yarn you use matters! I used 2 different yarns to make 2 pairs of Precipitous cuffs on the same needles, and got two wildly different finished projects. -  FO: Precipitous Cuffs  |  withwool.com
My thanks to @HunterHammersen for sharing this blocking trick. Instead of graph paper, I made a template to get the 5 points evenly spaced and sized. -  FO: Precipitous Cuffs  |  withwool.com

After I’d bound off, I knew blocking was a necessity. There was no way the points would be distinct or that the twisted stitches would pop otherwise. Plus it would help even out the stitches on the increase rows and ribbing. I wasn’t sure how I was going to block these until I saw this neat trick using bottles and graph paper on Violently Domestic. Finding the bottles was the easy part. The hard part printing the 5 pointed star template so I could block both mitts of a pair to the same size and angles. Thankfully, the ink didn’t bleed onto the yarn during the whole process. 

The kind of yarn you use matters! I used 2 different yarns to make 2 pairs of Precipitous cuffs on the same needles, and got two wildly different finished projects. -  FO: Precipitous Cuffs  |  withwool.com

It is so easy to see the difference yarn choice can make on a project after both pairs were dry. The gold pair is made from Knit Picks Gloss, a merino/silk blend, and the charcoal pair is made form Knitted Wit Gumballs Fingering which is 100% merino. I knit both pairs on the same needles and, aside from a few extra rows on the cuffs of the gold pair, the two pairs are the same. Row gauge and stitch gauge are definitely different. The gold cuffs have a lot more drape because of both the looser gauge and blend of fibers. The charcoal pair has body and memory because they were made from a firmly spun wool yarn at a tighter gauge. When I took the pair off the blocking rig it held it’s shape, and I didn’t knit bullet-proof fabric.

The kind of yarn you use matters! I used 2 different yarns to make 2 pairs of Precipitous cuffs on the same needles, and got two wildly different finished projects. -  FO: Precipitous Cuffs  |  withwool.com
The kind of yarn you use matters! I used 2 different yarns to make 2 pairs of Precipitous cuffs on the same needles, and got two wildly different finished projects. -  FO: Precipitous Cuffs  |  withwool.com

Of course I had to try them to make sure they would fit. They both passed with flying colors, and now I’m tempted to make myself a pair. Not sure if I want drapey cuffs or a no nonsense kind of pair. Either way, the pattern doesn’t use much yardage and I’ve got plenty of sock yarn leftovers. Just need to pick out the right needle size and get to knitting. 

The Specs

Pattern: Precipitous by Hunter Hammersen 

Yarn: Knit Picks Gloss - Honey and Knitted Wit Gumballs Fingering - Carbon

Needles: 2.75 mm and 3.25 mm circulars

Dates: November 15 - December 3, 2015

@Ravelry 

Notes About Spinning Cashmere

My first handspun skeins of cashmere! Cashmere is as soft as everyone says it is, and here's how I turned 2 oz of it into yarn. | Notes About Spinning Cashmere - withwool.com

Brave readers, it’s time for the next installment of adventures in spinning cashmere. In the first entry, I wrote about my attempt at drafting the singles and overcoming the idea that spinning cashmere would be as hard as everyone made it sound. At the time, I was working on the second single with the idea that the true test of whether or not I could spin cashmere would be in the plying. If the singles fell apart every couple of feet, then I’d failed. If the singles stayed together, then I could actually spin cashmere without screwing it up. 

One mama skein and one baby skein of plied cashmere ready to come off the bobbins. Cashmere is as soft as everyone says it is, and here's how I turned 2 oz of it into yarn. | Notes About Spinning Cashmere - withwool.com

Did the singles pass the plying test? If you haven’t already guessed from all the pictures, yes! Seeing all the plied yarn on the bobbins was a relief because I wasn’t sure I was going to pull it off until they were done. There were a few times with the singles pulled apart on me, but I didn’t need all the fingers on one hand to count them. Whew. 

A little uneven and limp, the yarn is ready to be finished with a good soak. Cashmere is as soft as everyone says it is, and here's how I turned 2 oz of it into yarn. | Notes About Spinning Cashmere - withwool.com

The final test came with the finishing. Would the skeins be the lofty, airy yarn I set out to spin? Before the skeins went into the bath, they looked a little limp - plenty of plying twist in them, but limp all the same. Finishing the skeins with a soak and a gentle thwack changed them for the better. The yarn plumped up to a beautiful, airy body and texture. Soft too. Oh, so soft. Of everything I’ve spun, this was the hardest to let go of. If the fiber hadn’t been sent to me to spin and then send back, I probably would have kept the yarn as a pet. Have I mentioned how soft it was? Mmmm…

My first handspun skeins of cashmere! The mama skein is about 240 yrds and mini is about 25 yrds. Cashmere is as soft as everyone says it is, and here's how I turned 2 oz of it into yarn. | Notes About Spinning Cashmere - withwool.com

Enough with the daydreaming, onto the technical details. Now that I know that what I did to spin this cashmere actually works, I can share my notes in good conscience. They still come with the disclaimer that I’m still a newb when it comes to working with this luscious stuff though. 

I didn’t actually read up on how to spin cashmere before I started the singles. My idea to spin cashmere woolen came from a cotton spinning demo with Stephanie Gaustad when she visited the Greater Los Angeles Spinning Guild. (Side note: Fiber guilds are great resources and worth joining.) My biggest takeaway was Gaustad’s comment that people thought spinning cotton, a short staple fiber, was hard was because they tried to spin it the same they they spun grabby, long-stapled fibers. Instead, she recommended woolen spinning because the twist would move into the fiber supply and keep things from falling apart during drafting. 

My first handspun skeins of cashmere! Cashmere is as soft as everyone says it is, and here's how I turned 2 oz of it into yarn. | Notes About Spinning Cashmere - withwool.com

I decided to try this idea with the short, slippery cashmere. So, I used a woolen drafting style and let the twist come into the fiber supply. To keep the twist from locking up the fibers, I set the take up low and used a larger whorl. There’s usually at least good foot and a half between my hands and the wheel’s orifice, so this distance let more twist enter the single before it went on the bobbin. As for plying, I didn’t do anything beyond the ordinary tensioning andbalance checks. 

I did do some research on how to finish cashmere but didn’t turn up much in my cursory internet search. I was working on a deadline, remember. Ended up following my usual steps for finishing a woolen yarn. First, the skeins soaked in cool water with a little Eucalan for about 20 minutes. After the yarn came out of the bath, and I squeezed out as much water as possible first with my hands and then by rolling the yarn up in a towel. I evened out the twist with a few good snaps around my hands before giving the yarn a few gentle thwacks against the shower wall. Gentle is key here since I wanted the plies to open up but not develop a halo. Then I hung them up to dry, and the wait proved to be the hardest part of finishing. The last step, which I heartily recommend, is petting the yarn like it’s an adorable kitten. So soft... 

Made sure to send off the handspun with a tag detailing the weight, WPI, and construction. Cashmere is as soft as everyone says it is, and here's how I turned 2 oz of it into yarn. | Notes About Spinning Cashmere - withwool.com

Fiber: 2 oz cashmere top

Yardage: Mama ~240 yds and Mini ~25 yds

Plies & Weight: 2-ply Sport; Mini skein plied on itself

Start & Finish: November 28 - December 15, 2015

@Ravelry

Two Bears And A Bunny

Beatrice and Bernard are an inseparable pair that make for quick knit gifts! Cute too. :) | Two Bears And A Bunny - withwool.com

Beatrice and Bernard are an inseparable pair that make for quick knit gifts! Cute too. :) | Two Bears And A Bunny - withwool.com

What do you make for a cute 1-year-old kiddo? A cute bunny and bear, of course. 

Once I decided to make Beatrice and Bernard, they almost seemed to knit themselves. I’ve made the pair before and used a few mods to make them even faster to put together: stuffing them as a go, knitting the arms from the paw up, and grafting the head closed. The only hard part was the making the grafting look nice. Scratch that, I lied. The hard part is sewing on the arms at the same height on both sides. I thought the bunny was almost finished until I got a good look at the arms after sewing them on. One of them was definitely higher than the other which meant I had to unpick the seam and do it again. The second time was the charm fortunately. 

After the pair had arrived in their new home, I got a text that they’d each gotten a kiss when they were unwrapped. Pretty sure that means I won Christmas knitting. :)

Beatrice and Bernard are an inseparable pair that make for quick knit gifts! Cute too. :) | Two Bears And A Bunny - withwool.com

Pattern: Beatrice and Bernard The Inseparable Bunny and Bear by Rebecca Danger

Yarn: 65 yds Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Superwash Bulky

Needles: US 5 (3.75 mm) circulars

Dates: November 24 - 26, 2015

@Ravelry

One adorably Christmas ornament coming up! | Two Bears And A Bunny - withwool.com

I slacked off in 2014, but I have a yearly tradition to make a new ornament for the tree every Christmas. The first ornaments were just an excuse to make cute things to go on the tree, but they’ve grown to tell a story over the years. That’s how I ended up making a stocking covered in palm trees and knitting a color work house among other things. When it came time to make an ornament for 2014, I never really figured out what I wanted to make or how to make it. The idea to knit the extinct California grizzly bear didn’t occur to me until 2015 gift knitting time. Thankfully, making it didn’t take anywhere near as long as it took for me to have the idea. 

Making the bear went quickly even though I essentially knit the pattern twice with the second attempt worked in the round. Then I couldn’t decide on the design for the embroidery. The bear sat to the side while I worked on other Christmas knits and ordered the yarn I wanted to use for the embroidery. Once I had the design sketched out, the final stitching went reasonably quickly even though I redid it a few times to make it neat. So, 2014 finally got its ornament.

As for the 2015 ornament, I have the yarn and an idea. I still have to work out the charts, but it’ll be a nice project for February even if it is a few months late. 

One adorably Christmas ornament coming up! | Two Bears And A Bunny - withwool.com

Pattern: Grizzly Bear Toy by Linda Dawkins

Yarn: 64 yds Knit Picks Gloss Fingering - Doe for the body and Honey for the embroidery

Needles: 2.75 circulars

Dates: November 13 - December 5, 2015

@Ravelry

One knit bear checking out the view. | Two Bears And A Bunny - withwool.com

FO: Crescent Over Lothlorien and The Dewberry Cowl

The Crescent Over Lothlorien Shawl was the first thing I knit from my 2015 holiday gift list. So pleased with how it turned out.   FO: Crescent Over Lothlorien and Dewberry Cowl  - withwool.com

I decided to go all out with my gift knitting for Christmas 2015. The list started out small - less than 5 pieces - before growing and growing and growing just a little bit more. When all was said and done, I had knit a shawl, a cowl, a hat, 4 washcloths, a pair of slippers, 2 pairs of wrist cuffs, a bear & bunny duo, and one golden bear. Plus, there was that skein of handspun. This was a pretty ambitious list considering that I skipped holiday gift knitting the previous years. I’m pretty sure the only reason I was able to get everything done was because I’d committed to #yearofmaking, and had built a habit of making something every day. Even a few stitches a day can add up to something really big.

The Crescent Over Lothlorien Shawl was the first thing I knit from my 2015 holiday gift list. So pleased with how it turned out.   FO: Crescent Over Lothlorien and Dewberry Cowl  - withwool.com
The Crescent Over Lothlorien Shawl was the first thing I knit from my 2015 holiday gift list. So pleased with how it turned out.   FO: Crescent Over Lothlorien and Dewberry Cowl  - withwool.com

What do you knit for the lace knitter that loves fantasy and general geekery? Fantasy themed lace, of course! The Crescent Over Lothlorien Shawl fit the bill, and had the added bonus of a reversible stitch pattern. 

I had a few hiccups reading the pattern and had to rip out a few times - once all the way back to the beginning - but the knitting was fairly easy once I figured out the rhythm and quirks of the design. It was also my first time using Dream in Color Smooshy which was lovely. The shawl was also great tv knitting aside from that one time I really messed up the lace pattern. (Note to self: Don’t stay up to 2AM knitting lace. You’re just going to give yourself a headache and a giant time suck the next morning.)

The Crescent Over Lothlorien Shawl was the first thing I knit from my 2015 holiday gift list. So pleased with how it turned out.   FO: Crescent Over Lothlorien and Dewberry Cowl  - withwool.com

I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again, blocking is magic. Once the shawl was bound off with a ridiculously stretchy decrease bind off, it looked small and crumpled. Even knowing how blocking can transform a piece, I was still nervous that the finished shawl wouldn’t be a worthy gift. I needn't have worried. 

The shawl got a nice long soak before I stretched and pinned it to an inch of its life. Flexible blocking wires made shaping and pulling out the points so much simpler and quicker then working with only pins. Inserting the wires and shaping the shawl still took at least 30 minutes though. When that work was done, instead of a small and crumpled shawl, the crescent was long and delicate. The yarn overs had popped open, the columns were visible, and every leaf was distinct. Whew…

The Crescent Over Lothlorien Shawl was the first thing I knit from my 2015 holiday gift list. So pleased with how it turned out.   FO: Crescent Over Lothlorien and Dewberry Cowl  - withwool.com

Pattern: Crescent Over Lothlorien by Cordula Surmann-Schmitt 

Yarn: Dream in Color Smooshy - Icy Reception

Needles: US 4 (3.5mm) circulars

Date: September 12 - October 23, 2015

@Ravelry 

I've wanted to knit the Dewberry Cowl since I first saw it, and it was a perfect pattern for gift knitting.  FO: Crescent Over Lothlorien and Dewberry Cowl  - withwool.com

The second gift knit was the Dewberry Cowl which I've wanted to make since I first saw it. I like the combination of lace and garter stitch. I like the shape and how it’s worn. I liked how it could be a showcase for lots of different yarn. Plus, I thought the recipient would like it too which is always an important thing to consider when making gifts. Can’t just make stuff you like after all.

It was a pretty quick knit even considering that I had to rip it out - totally my own fault - and make it bigger. The pattern calls for an aran weight yarn, but I mistakenly picked out a DK weight instead. Mrs Crosby Carpet Bag is a beautiful silk wool single and I don’t regret picking it at all. 

I've wanted to knit the Dewberry Cowl since I first saw it, and it was a perfect pattern for gift knitting.  FO: Crescent Over Lothlorien and Dewberry Cowl  - withwool.com
I've wanted to knit the Dewberry Cowl since I first saw it, and it was a perfect pattern for gift knitting.  FO: Crescent Over Lothlorien and Dewberry Cowl  - withwool.com

Mailing these goodies off was hard but, I’ve got the patterns and plenty of worthy yarn. I already have the perfect skein picked out for my Dewberry.

Pattern: Dewberry by Hillary Smith Callis 

Yarn: 1 skein Mrs Crosby Carpet Bag - Hollywood Cerise

Needles: US 6 (4mm) circulars

Date: October 26 - November 4, 2015

@Ravelry

Smokestack Socks

I’m pretty sure that hidden away in all the math that is knitting there’s a simple equation which reads: give hand knit socks = get hand knit socks. I’ve gotten a few pairs of comfy, well-fitting socks as gifts from one particular knitting friend, and it was past time I equalized the equation. 

Step 1: Buy sock yarn in her favorite colors. I took a chance on Knit Picks Hawthorne and picked up a skein of the Fingering Multi in the Vancouver colorway.

Step 2: Snoop through her Ravelry queue to find out what she likes in a sock. Cables popped up quite a bit which lead me to pick the Smokestack Socks by Tanis Lavallee. The pattern has been in my queue to knit for myself for awhile but I also picked it because of the cables and how easy it looked to modify the stitch count. Just as important was how the pattern looked with variegated yarn which, thanks to Ravelry, was quick to see.

Step 3: Wind the yarn.

Step 4: Actually knit the socks. This is easier written than it was done because of how many times I ripped out. Not the patterns fault at all; it was all me. The Smokestack Socks are written to be knit from the cuff down, but I worked them toe-up as I knit all of my socks. The first ripping came when I found out how small knitting friend’s feet are. The rest of the sock was smooth sailing asides from the moments I tinked back to add the purl ridges or cross a missed cable. 

The second sock was not as forgiving. I cast on, knit the toe, worked the foot, increased for the gusset, turned the heel, and was working the heel flap when I noticed that it was too long. By almost an inch and there’s no fudging that. I measured and my gauge had increased by 1 row/inch; nothing else changed except the speed I was knitting. That’s what I get for rushing. At least I had the company and sympathy of a few knitting buddies when I ripped all the way back to the toe. Thankfully, my gauge cooperated for the second attempt. 

Step 5: Wash the socks. No problems here.

Step 6: Mail the socks. The package arrived over the weekend and I got a photo of the socks on her feet. Social media is pretty awesome like that. All the ripping and re-knitting was worth it because they’re a perfect fit. #knittingwin The equation is equal, and now I get to knit a pair for myself in green. 

The Specs

Pattern: Smokestack Socks by Tanis Lavallee

Yarn: 204 yds Knit Picks Hawthrone - Vancouver (204 yds)

Needles: 2.25 mm circulars

Dates: April 3 - 21, 2015

Full modificaitons listed @Ravelry

Pattern: Cuddly Chevron Baby Blanket

Cuddly-Chevron3.jpg

Early last year I found out that a good friend of mine was having her first child. Since she’s on my knit-worthy list, my mind started churning with all sorts of ideas. I considered sweaters, hats, toys, and baby tube socks. All of those things are still an option now but what what I really wanted to make was a blanket. Sure, it’s more knitting, yarn, and time than the other ideas but a blanket has staying power. It can’t be outgrown like a sweater or a hat or adorable baby tube socks. A blanket is more useful than a toy and, maybe, not as easy to misplace. Plus, if you pardon the cliche, a great way to wrap someone up in love.

Cuddly-Chevron4.jpg

Those thoughts were the start of the Cuddly Chevron Baby Blanket. I swatched my way through several different and complicated ideas, none of which panned out, before coming back around to the simple chevron. Soft, cushy, colorful garter stitch chevrons, in fact. After tracking down a machine washable cotton/acrylic yarn that actually had all the colors I needed, a task that proved much harder than I thought, I cast on. Then I ripped out because I wanted the blanket to be bigger. After that, the knitting was smooth sailing. I didn’t finish the blanket in time to send it off before the kid was born but it did arrive before winter turned really cold. 

My original plan was to publish the pattern before Christmas. Obviously that didn’t happen but I’m so happy that Cuddly Chevron is the first pattern of 2015. The first of many! Another first and something I’m really excited about is that I’m going to be releasing a tutorial series detailing the techniques in this blanket! I’ve never released tutorials revolving around a specific pattern before and can’t figure out why I haven’t. The tutorials will focus on several key techniques that will help with both with the blanket and future projects. The series starts next week and will cover weaving in ends as you go (without a tapestry needle), working lifted increases in garter stitch, and uses for stitch markers. If you’re wondering how to work another technique, let me know. 

Happy Knitting! 

Cuddly Chevron Baby Blanket

Simple, classic, and warm, the Cuddly Chevron Baby Blanket is easy to make and a great gift for any baby or yourself. Worked in garter stitch, the blanket knits up quickly to create a cushy fabric. 

Stick with three colors of worsted weight yarn, just use two, or go wild and use up all those leftover yarns in your stash.

Want to make it bigger or smaller? The pattern includes notes to help you out. 

Size: 30” x 30”

Needle: US 7 (4.5 mm) 36” circular needle

Yarn: Cascade Yarns Avalon - 2 skeins (350 yds) of each color

C1: 10 - Artisan's Gold

C2: 02 - Silver

C3: 17 - Enamel Blue

Notions: Tapestry Needle, Stitch Markers (Optional)

Check it out on Ravelry!

11 Wonderful Gift Tags For Your Wonderful Hand Knits

Christmas is just 5 days away! If you’re still stitching away, I hope all your patterns are error free, you’ve got plenty of yarn, you’re binding off before 1 AM on Christmas morning. To wrap all that wonderful knitted and crafted goodness up right, here are 10 printable and DIY tags. 

And may all your gifts be met with just the right OOH’s and AAH’s!

Labels for Handmade Items from Little Monkey Crochet

knit-tags-first-pancake-studio.jpg

Colorful Gift and Care Tags from First Pancake Studio

Fair Isle Bookmark Tags from Eat Drink Chic

Minimalist Typographic Gift Tags from Montgomery Fest 

hats-and-mittens-wallpaper.jpg

12 Days of Christmas Gift Tags from Year of Creative Habits

’Tis the Season Gift Tags from Abigail Halpin

Warm Wishes Knit Tags from 100% Rain

Up for a little cross stitch? Make these cross-stitch mitten tags from Design*Sponge.

Ugly Sweater Gift Tags from Love vs. Design

Keep it simple with my own Make A Bow Gift Tags

P.S. If you don’t want to stay up till the wee hours of Christmas morning binding off, here are some IOU tags to put under the tree instead.