Sunday, September 25, 2011

Pattern: Deep Creek cowl

Last time I gave you a sneak peak of what I said was my new design--and it is!--but what I didn't tell you is that I have another new design as well! And I'm going to release this one first while the other finishes making the rounds through pattern testing.

Pattern details:

Yarn: approx 150 yds aran or bulky weight
Needles: US size 10, 24" circular or DPNs
Gauge: Irrelevant!

This is a quick-to-knit cowl perfect for a skein of extra-squooshy, chunky yarn--I used madelinetosh tosh chunky (colorway: Olivia). The stitch pattern is simple and easy to memorize, and creates a snuggly, unisex cowl. Check out my handsome model:


The ribbing in the design pulls the fabric in toward your neck (be sure not to block the cowl aggressively, just a light spritz with some water to even out stitches should suffice), and it's got plenty of stretch to accommodate various noggin sizes. 

This one isn't lightweight, it's designed to keep you warm through fall and winter. Use an extra-soft yarn and you'll never want to take it off!

Download this cowl pattern here.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

When autumn leaves start to fall

I'm thrilled to report that it's FINALLY starting to feel like fall around here. The air is cooler, the leaves are starting to turn, I made my first butternut squash lasagna this weekend, and put out all of my fall decorations (which consist of 2 pumpkin candle holders, a pumpkin-shaped candle, and a mini scarecrow . . . I think I need to do some shopping). True, highs this week will be stuck in the 70s, which is a smidge too warm for fall, but since I'm stuck in the over-air conditioned office 8.5 hours each day, I'll hardly notice.

Fall weather makes it seem a lot less silly to be parked on the couch with a lap full of wool. I'm determined to get two sweaters done before the cold weather really kicks in, so I've been knitting away as I watch the Orioles' miserable last stand.

In the midst of sweater knitting, I have managed to fit in a few smaller projects, like this:


Pattern: Bramble Beret, from Vintage Modern Knits
Yarn: Malabrigo Rios, in Azul Profundo, 2/3 skein
Needles: szs 5 and 7
Rav link

I love the classic-with-a-modern-twist vibe of Vintage Modern Knits (check out all the patterns here). This hat has a modern fit and styling, but the bobbles and moss stitch give it a rustic look as well. Sadly, I'm not keeping it, but I'm going to model it for you anyway:

You absolutely have to have a good handle on chart reading for this pattern--no written directions. Add to that one of those tricky traveling start-of-round markers, and this one is a bit of a challenge. The moving marker is explained fairly well for the main body of the hat, moving 1 stitch right or left, but for the top, it moves 2 stitches, and that wasn't as clear. Still, it was fairly quick to puzzle out. And I love how the cables intersect and entangle at the crown.


The Rios is not as soft as Malabrigo Worsted, of course, but is a bit sturdier, giving you better stitch definition. The very subtle color variation in this colorway is perfect for this hat, too.

As usual, I'm very happy with this project, and sad to be giving it away. But here's something that cheers me up--a little sneak peak of my new design!


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Dyeing to Knit

Thus far in my knitting "career," I've carefully avoided going beyond knitting. There are so many add-on crafts--dyeing, spinning, raising sheep--and it wasn't really that I thought I wouldn't enjoy them (especially raising sheep), but rather that knitting takes up quite enough of my time and eats more than enough of my paycheck. So I abstained.

It seems though, that my resolve is showing some cracks. A few months back, I received a "learn to dye" swap kit. I tucked it away with my crafts supplies, and then moved apartments and misplaced it for a few decades. I rediscovered it earlier this month, and decided I shouldn't let it go to waste.

I wasn't going to start Dyeing Yarn, really, I just needed to use up those gifts! That's all! It's not a new hobby!

And so began the great Dyeing Experiment.

I started with this bare silk/merino blend:


And this bulky KnitPicks wool in a light shade of gray:


My kit had a variety of dyes, but didn't want to try anything too complicated, so I opted for the Kool Aid as the dye least likely to stain parts of my kitchen and person permanently.


I had forgotten how stinky Kool Aid is.

Now, most people starting a new hobby pasttime adventure in dyeing might do some research on color theory, take some time to ponder how the colors will mix, and what effect the fiber content of the yarn might have on the outcome.

They might try to remember something learned in their (rather expensive) high school art classes about primary and secondary colors so they don't wind up with brown sludge-looking mixtures.

I just sort of winged it.

For the bare merino, I mixed black cherry and pineapple, hoping for an reddish orange.


And for the other, I stirred up some grape, pineapple and lemonade--I don't really know what I was going for . . . a warm purple? I got something with a greenish tinge:



But I soldiered on.



And given the completely uninformed manner in which I went about this whole project, I don't think things turned out too badly:



Other than not really giving any consideration to how to mix colors, my primary mistake was tying the skeins too tightly--the red yarn has white bands all around it where the dye didn't reach the yarn. Oops.

I don't think this will become a regular hobby, but it's definitely something I'm going to keep in mind when I find yarn in hiding in my stash that could use a fresh look.

And you know what else I have hiding my craft bin?

A drop spindle.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Here are the last stoma covers received in the drive, courtesy of Carrie, Pauline and Betty!







Big, huge, enormous and unending thanks to everyone who sent a cover, I'm amazed by your generosity, and mom is so thrilled with her cover wardrobe--especially now that the weather is cooling off and she'll be able to wear them! (Even cotton is uncomfortable during a hot, humid Baltimore summer)

And now, prizes!



I have 4 of them to give away, so let's get started.

Betty was kind enough to donate a prize, this gorgeous skein of Stonehedge Fiber Mill Shepherd's Wool, 250yds worsted weight , in the Blue Spruce colorway:


And this is going to LINDA!

Leann at Forbidden Woolery also donated a prize, a skein of her aptly named Gluttony sportweight yarn, in the Forever in Blue Jeans colorway:


(Leann actually sent me 2 skeins of this yarn, 1 for me to use in a project, and one to give away; it was really hard to choose which to keep!)

This gorgeous skein is going to none other than BETTY!

Deirdre from the Confessions of a Clumsy Knitter blog donated a prize as well, a kit from A Verb for Keeping Warm. This kit includes the High Road pattern, and a beautiful skein of yarn to complete it.


The lucky winner of this kit is CARRIE!

And finally.

The moment you've all been waiting for.

The Wollmeise.

Cue chorus of angels

This skein comes with a sock pattern of the winner's choosing (provided I can gift it to you through Ravelry!).

And that winner is . . . .


And that's it! Thanks again to everyone who participated, donated prizes and generally thought good thoughts for my mom. Winners, please contact me through Ravelry (mediaperuana) or send me an email at kristen.jancuk at gmail so I can get your addresses and send out your prizes.

Now we'll be back to our regularly scheduled blogging--I dyed yarn this weekend, and I can't wait to tell you all about it!

Friday, September 2, 2011


Last night I visited the butcher shop hair salon, and a super hipster named Kody hacked off trimmed a smidge too much hair. About 3 inches shorter than I requested. Or thought I requested.

My hair was nearly at my waist. And now it's . . . not:

Kody was adorable and reminded me quite a bit of my dear friend Gerard, so it's hard to be mad at him--my hair doesn't look bad. There's just not enough of it.

(Washed out iPhone photo made extra hispter-y with Instagram)

On the plus side, my head feels a lot lighter. I bet I lost 2 pounds of hair. Maybe it'll even stop getting caught in my knitting. Must look at the bright side.

And what could be brighter than a sweet shawlette in a vibrant green? Um . . . well, probably lots of stuff, but we're going to focus on the shawlette.


Pattern: Batik, by Kitman Figueroa, size small
Yarn: Forbidden Woolery Twinkle fingering weight (65% merino, 35% bamboo) in Emerald City
Needles: Knit Picks something or other. Whatever size the pattern calls for.
Rav link

Have you guys checked out Leann's shop, Forbidden Woolery? It's full of gorgeous yarn (and roving, if you're into that kind of thing) inspired by legends, stories, and fairy tales. In fact, this yarn is so awesome, Leann's going to be showing off her wares at several shows this fall!

I think Leann was the first knitter I "met" on the Internets--she found my blog when I just started, and still couldn't believe anyone would want to read endless rambling about yarn. So a few months ago when she put out a call for some sample knits to take on tour with her, I jumped right up and said, "Uh, I could probably knit . . . something?" Eventually I managed to cough out the more fully-formed shawl idea, and we decided on the Twinkle yarn, a merino/bamboo mix with drape and sheen perfect for a shawl.


I really enjoyed knitting Kitman Figueroa's Damask shawl, so I decided I would try another of her patterns this time. Everything is perfectly charted, and she includes written instructions as well, so whether you're a chart lover or hater, you'll be happy with her designs. I've never seen mixing of cables and lace in a shawl before, this was a fun pattern to work up. 

As always, judicious use of stitch markers is recommended.


This is the small, which is closer to "shawlette" than shawl sized, but still large enough to drape around your shoulders (although maybe your photographer will actually tell you the shawl is bunched up at the back of the neck, and offer to fix it for you. Hmph.)

And the yarn was, of course, a dream to work with--no splitting, no itching. And I want to add, when I went to wind the skein, it did not turn into a snarled spiderweb of riotous wool. I don't know why some yarn purveyors think it's funny to wrap up their skeins in such a way that the strands instantly tangle when you bring them in the vicinity of your swift, but it happens far too often for my taste and drives me into a murderous rage.
(Or, almost-murderous; no one's died. Yet.)

Batik has now made its way to Leann, so mission accomplished, I'm on to another project. Or three. 
(Actually, I have 5 projects currently on the needles. At least.)