The Knitted Frau

Adventures in knitting, and other things too.


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The Adelisa Earflap Hat (and my very first original pattern!)

Whoops… Haven’t posted since November. Time flies!

Since then, I have (obviously) been knitting up a storm. I made some really nice Christmas presents, followed those up with some very nice birthday presents, then dove head first into baby presents. Times like these make me SO happy for my giant, growing family! I’ll never run out of people I love to knit for.

A few weeks ago, I was showing my grandmother a knitted hat that I designed for my brother. She is a fantastic knitter who knit every one of her grandkids a Christmas stocking (there are a lot of us), not to mention all of the sweaters, blankets, socks, and who-knows-what-else she knit over her lifetime for her kids and grandkids. Needless to say, I respect her opinion as a knitter. She is amazed that I can write my own patterns and make things up as I go along, which I do for the majority of my projects. After showing her the hat I designed, as well as some Christmas stockings I had designed for my newlywed sister and her husband, she encouraged me to start writing down my designs and publishing them.

I’ve been thinking lately that I should start writing my patterns down in a usable form, and her telling me to was the kick in the pants I needed. I had a few little ones lined up to knit hats for, so I looked back on some past baby hat notes, opened up Excel, got out my yarn stash and got writing. The result is the Adelisa Earflap Hat, which I absolutely adore. I’m lucky enough to have a 6 month old nephew, an 18 month old cousin, and a friends newborn on the way, so I could write all three sizes at once and have presents ready for all of them! Here are my three sizes:

Toddler

Toddler

Baby

Baby

Newborn

Newborn

I love how it came out, and had so much fun writing the pattern. The attached i-cord was time consuming, but I am so happy with the end result. I did not have a chance to take good pictures of the toddler wearing hers, but here is Del sporting the baby size.

Delly Bean

Delly Bean

If you, too, would like to knit the Adelisa, here is a PDF of the pattern!

The Adelisa Earflap Hat

This is my first time writing a pattern, and I was my own test knitter, so PLEASE let me know if you find any errors or if I have been unclear at all, anywhere. I would really appreciate the feedback.

Happy knitting!

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Busy Hands

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Ahhh… so, since my last post I got married, went to Maine on my honeymoon and am currently settling into married life! It’s pretty fun. And it’s so nice that things are settling down… turns out planning a wedding is a lot of work that cuts into my knitting time. But it’s all over now (did I dream it?!), I have a lot of time on my hands and a lot of work to do, so back to blogging!

It seems like every year about this time my hands get extra busy… It is, after all, Christmas knitting season! Time to buckle down and make my needles fly.

I have, however, been pretty busy before today. 

One of my brothers (the middle one) has never gotten a hat from me. If you asked him, it’s because he’s the middle child and no one ever does anything for the middle child. Everyone ALWAYS forgets the middle child. Boo hoo. Very sad.
So, for my poor neglected brother, I designed the very first ReagaNation hat. (FYI When you come from a family of nine kids which came from two families of 9 and 6, you basically are your own nation.)

Here is is, in all it’s glory:

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And on the inside of the brim, there is this surprise!

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I had a lot of fun designing and knitting this one… all those color knitting books I have on my bookshelf paid off! I looked through a bunch of them for pattern inspiration.

The yarn I used was Berroco Vintage Chunky in Oats, Chana Dal and Pumpkin. It is a super soft & squishy wool blend that can go in the washing machine, which is great since he is currently going to ranger school. I have a feeling that thing is going to need a serious washing in about 3 weeks. I had enough yarn left over to make him a quick neck warmer, too! Ranger school gets cold, I hear.

Even before I started designing that hat, I finished my new brother-in-laws wedding stocking! The two of them turned out great. I used the same pattern that I created in Excel but switched the colors. All the yarn was Cascade 220 colors, with a few random yarns thrown in from my left-overs from different projects. Image

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Here is both of them together:

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I have two other stockings to knit for Christmas presents, and I can’t wait to start designing them!

I just got started on a pair of mittens for a Christmas present, which are coming out great! I designed the pattern for my meditation teacher. One of his oft-used sayings is “you can’t fight the waves, but you can learn to surf them.” It rings pretty darn true in life, so I used that as my inspiration for the mittens. I’m using (again) Cascade 220 colors. That yarn is perfect for fair isle with size 5 & 7 needles. I keep trying different yarns thinking they won’t be that different, but (shocker) they are. The Cascade yarns make such a light, soft, and flexible fabric. Good thing they are everywhere. But I digress. here is the first mitten:

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It’s not blocked yet, so forgive my dimpled fabric.  I just cast on for the second mitten today and can’t wait to get those puppies blocked and send them on their way! (Do I really have to wait til Christmas?)

Oh, and did I mention that somewhere in all of that flurry of knitting I knit MYSELF a hat?! It’s crazy, I know. For all the things I make, I have nothing nice for myself. Every time I start making myself something, I get the idea that it’s time to experiment on the fly. This, inevitably, means that the final product is oddly shaped, a weird size, or generally less desirable than what I give away. (Does anyone else do the same thing?) It’s all very depressing for me. Until a few days ago!

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I indulged on the Maine honeymoon and went to Halcyon Yarn in Bath, ME. My honey-buns helped me pick out some Peace Fleece yarn for myself, which was so much fun! I’m so used to shopping for other people. The next day, we were aimlessly driving around Norway, ME and stumbled upon Fiber & Vine. It is a little yarn shop that also sells really good wine. No, I didn’t make that up. Yarn AND wine in that same shop. WHAT! I was in heaven. HEAVEN.

We ended up taking home a bottle of mead, The hubbster picked out a delightful bottle of hopped mead from Maine Mead Works and some yarn for a future pair of mittens for him. I found some really cool yarn on the (really great) sale shelf by Jojoland Yarns. It is a “Rhythm” colorway in Red Blue Berry, and it matched my Peace Fleece perfectly! I used it in the pattern above the brim and love how it turned out. Luckily I bought 2 skeins so I can play with it some more!

So, yeah, I’ve been productive lately. And it feels so good! Soon I’ll have 2 stockings, at least 1 pair of mittens, and who knows what else to show you. Til then, happy knitting! And I’ll leave you with this face, from my tiny awesome nephew:Image

 

Lovies!

 

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So fall is officially here… it’s the end of September, leaves are just starting to turn, and we’ve gotten our first frost.

Which means, I’m back on my needles. And I couldn’t be happier! (To the new mothers whose tiny baby sweaters sat sad, lonely, and unfinished all summer inside of my knitting bag, I am sorry. They are finally done now. And you will have them soon!)

I am lucky enough to have a job where sometimes I get to knit for a good chunk of the day. It’s pretty great. Last week, I started designing a project and today I took it off my needles! I have also just gotten a few folk mitten knitting books and a few books on the history of knitting, and seeing all of the wonderful patterns and reading all the history inside of those pages has really inspired me. My sister had asked if I could make her and her new husband Christmas stockings for their wedding present, which I am more than happy to do. After I finished up those poor, lonely baby sweaters I started to design a pattern for the stockings. I LOVE all the old Scandinavian two-color knitting and had found the geese-and-foxes pattern that is traditionally used up in Maine in one of my mitten books, so I used that as a jumping off point for the design. Here is my graph, in case you want to make one yourself!:

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I used a fair isle stocking pattern by Lisabee Designs as my base pattern (available for free here on Ravelry), but made my own chart and did a short-row heel and rounded toe rather than the heel and toe she uses in her stocking. I loved the idea of using two shades of the same color for the main pattern. It really helps it to not look too busy.

For my brother-in-law, I’m going to use the same design with different colors… I can’t wait to get it cast on! But first, here is the finished product (I haven’t added a loop for hanging yet, nor have I blocked it. Forgive me.):

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I don’t know about you fellow knitters, but knitting gives me such a sense of pride. I love to see my own designs come off my needles, stitch by stitch, and I love giving my projects that I love so much to people that I love so much! There is so much of YOU put into your projects… they are the perfect way, I think, to tell people you love them.

Besides all of the personal enjoyment I get out of designing and knitting my projects, I feel so connected to the women of the past who spent so much of their time and energy knitting… the history of the craft is fascinating and I am loving reading about it. Seeing all of the beautiful and wonderful traditional patterns is amazing. Twisted-stitch socks from Austria, Sanquhar patterns from Scotland, ornate gloves from Spain, mittens from Maine,  socks from ancient Egypt… it has been a global craft for so, so long. Being inspired by these crafts from long ago and being conscious of all the mothers, artisans, fishermen, and craftspeople who did what I am doing today hundreds and thousands of years ago is an amazing feeling. It is history looped around my needles, taught to me by my mother and being continued by my hands.

It truly is an amazing craft, and it is really amazing today that we can share our own personal passions and patterns with each other all over the world through the magic of the internet.

And so, today, thank whoever taught you this amazing skill! They brought you into the wide, wonderful world of knitting!


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Knitting Without Tears and Knitter’s Humor

As it has been summertime, I haven’t knit a stitch in months.

I should have been knitting. I really should have. There are babies on the way! There are weddings coming up! Winter is coming!

So, finally, just as August arrives, I have decided to get my ass back in gear. I just returned from the library, hoping to have found a book with a basic stocking pattern. What I came out with instead was “Knitting Without Tears” by Elizabeth Zimmerman (August 9, 1910 – November 30, 1999).

I have heard or read many knitters referencing Ms. Zimmerman’s book, and it is considered one of the classics of knitting literature (despite mysteriously not having a Wikipedia page). It is one of the first books that handled knitting in an informal, free-form way, teaching the basics while encouraging experimentation and the development of your own patterns and ideas.

Even though I am already fairly well-versed in knitting techniques, I figured it couldn’t hurt to read it and brush up on my terms before jumping back into my projects with rusty needles. And I am SO glad I’m reading it. Ms. Zimmerman is funny. Really funny. I laughed aloud, in the library, reading a knitting book.  If that doesn’t prove how funny she is, I don’t know what will. If Amy Sedaris wrote a knitting book in the 70’s, this is what it would be. (If you haven’t experienced Simple Times; Crafts for Poor People or I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence I strongly recommend reading them. Amy is a crafting humor genius.)

Here are some choice excerpts from her chapter one, “The Opinionated Knitter.”

 

On double-pointed needle guards in an emergency:

“Emergency knobs for double-pointed needles can be made from tightly-wound rubber bands, or from those rubber needle guards which are never to be found when wanted. Dorothy Case links her needle guards with wool; then they can both get lost together.”

 

On what you need to knit:

“Really, all you need to become a good knitter are wool, needles, hands, and slightly below-average intelligence. Of course superior intelligence, such as yours and mine, is an advantage.”

 

On the ingenuity of knitters:

“We could, if he desired them, make long-johns for an octopus.”

 

On tight vs. loose knitting:

“Tight knitters lead a hard and anxious life… If you are a tight knitter by chance instead of by choice, practice knitting loosely, and it may change your life.”

 

I am really enjoying reading this, and I’m only halfway through the very slim volume. If any of you knitters have not read Knitting Without Tears, I strongly suggest it. It’s funny, informative, and written by a woman whose influence on modern knitting is huge. She probably invented at least one technique that you use. The #1 cardigan pattern and the #1 baby sweater pattern on Ravelry.com right now are her patterns. She, a humble knitter, got a full-article obituary in the New York Times entitled “E. Zimmermann Is Dead at 89; Revolutionized Art of Knitting.” How many knitters can boast that??

Now, I just need to track down her other books and my life will be complete. After I buy copies of them for my ever-growing personal knitting library.

In any case, I am full of renewed vigor and motivation to continue my projects that I abandoned back in March and get some new ones started! Christmas stockings, here I come!

 

And now, in closing, the personal motto of Elizabeth Zimmerman;

“Knit on with confidence and hope, through all crises.”

Hey! I’m Still Kicking!

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Hello everybody! It’s been a while… a LONG while. Sorry… I’m not sorry.

In truth, I haven’t posted lately because it’s summer time. It’s hot and sunny and beautiful. Who wants to knit?!

Not me.

But, at the prompting of my friend Aimee over at www.notoriousanc.blogspot.comI am taking her advice and updating my blog.

I have been doing quite a few craftsy things lately. I am going the DIY route for my upcoming wedding, which has me YIPEing a little bit. I made my invitations, but still need to make the RSVPs (sorry friends and family… they will be in the mail soon!). They are coming out very nicely, though. For under $100 and with many A.C. Moore coupons, I got cardstock, envelopes, custom stamps from www.simonstamps.com (they are awesome and FAST! order from them!), and stamp pads to make most of the parts of the invitations. The hubby is insisting on hand-writing the RSVP cards, so those are slowing us down. The final product will be really pretty and personal and completely us, however. Hopefully it is worth it.

The hand-made invitations were just the warm-up for the party favors, though. They are going to be a huge project. We are painting each guests name on a mason jar mug with dishwasher-safe glass paints. Their mug will be the place card, beer/soda mug and party favor. Triple whammy!

It sounds great, right? RIGHT?!

Whats not so great (which I realized while packing my car with case after case of mugs) is the prospect of painting & baking 225 mugs. This is what 225 mugs looks like:

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Well, 224 now. I had to make a tester mug, which coincided nicely with my future brother-in-laws birthday. It turned out pretty sweet:

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The wedding mugs will absolutely involve simple stamping to decorate around the names, so they will be a lot less time-consuming and not as intricate. The colors will be similar, however. I have a feeling I might have to use some of the extras for sweet patterned mugs, though.

Luckily, I have some very wonderful women helping me with other projects and offering cool party decorations they have lying around from previous parties. It’s a team DIY effort, and I am really excited for the day to get here so we can all drink beer, eat food and celebrate each other!

Any how, I suggest thinking twice before ordering & paying for hundreds of mugs that you have lofty dreams of painting. Luckily, I thought enough ahead to get them now instead of in September. Wish me luck!!


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Dreams & Reality

I just awoke from a dream in which I was intensely longing to be at a certain pool fed by the Saranac River that I had stumbled upon during my days in Plattsburgh. The pool was tucked into the woods, had no path leading to it.

Someone had told me there was something interesting in that certain patch of forest, and one day I went walking alone. Following their general directions, I came upon a beautiful cerulean pool carved by a small stream out of white rocks. There was a small outcropping of the white rock on the southerly side. Everything was dappled by the sun, the forest around it an amazing green. I was in awe. I could not believe my luck at finding such a beautiful and quiet place.

I sat by its waters and eventually swam. The water was perfectly clear and blue and cool. I could see the rounded white rocks, blue on the pool floor.

I do not know how long I stayed. I do not remember leaving.

When this pool has crossed my mind since it’s discovery all those years ago, It never occurred to me to question it’s existence. It was there. I saw it’s unfathomably blue surface and slipped in. I sat on it’s white, sun-bleached rocks in that cool green forest and felt blessed to be there with my thoughts. I deeply loved that secluded and peaceful place. It made my aloneness at the time something right and beautiful rather than painful and lonely. It restored me.

When I woke today, I realized the truth.

This pool exists only in my dreams, only in my mythology. When I had remembered it in the past, I was remembering a strong and beautiful memory.

If it was there, why did I never find my way back? Why did I not show a friend who would have loved it’s waters as much as I? I walked the banks of the Saranac many times, with many people. Surely we would have found it again. We were not ones to always stay on the paths.

I have often felt a longing for the pool and gone back in my memory. It must have begun as a lovely and necessary dream that has never left me. A dream so real and immediate that it’s existence does not depend on topography. It depends on love and memory, for by loving it’s sweet blue waters and remembering the warmth of the sun on it’s rocks I call it to existence when I am in need of a restorative bath.

I believe that we all have our pool, our place of peace and restoration and maybe loneliness, hidden in the forests of our personal and mythological topography.

Cool and sun dappled, it quietly awaits our next visit. Perhaps God is there waiting to cleanse and restore you, perhaps the waters are all you need. But it is there, and it is very real. We only need to love and to remember… there is no path, but we will find it.