The Knitted Frau

Adventures in knitting, and other things too.

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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It’s been too long… And so much has happened!

Well, it has absolutely been too long. A month since my last post? Ahhhh! I’m slacking. But I promise you, I have excuses.

What are they, you ask?

Mostly, I’ve been in a slow knitting phase. Although I did get my Etsy store up and running! (The Knitted Frau on Etsy) Although I don’t have any sales yet, I’m happy to have it up and running!

I also finished this hat, made out of a super soft merino/silk blend that I thought I would love. Turns out I’m not wild about the colors, but I got to do a little color experiment.

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And started this one:

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This is my first time concentrating on my stitch work rather than color. I just got a wonderful stitch reference book (400 Knitting Stitches, you can find it here) and the wonderful woman I am knitting it for picked out a nice X stitch. I am loving the white after so much color in my last project… and all of my projects.

Speaking of the wonderful woman who chose the stitch, she is my future MOTHER IN LAW! So, that happened while I was away!! My wonderful, bearded boyfriend and I have been talking about getting married for a while, and on my birthday last month he asked my dad for his blessing and BOOM! We’re getting hitched!! (I apologize in advance if this turns into a knitting/wedding blog.)

We are trying to plan our wedding as simply and cost effective as is humanly possible, and one thing that has come of that is a non-traditional engagement ring and wedding bands. We found a couple named Andre and Connie who makes gorgeous wooden and moose antler rings (as well as other lovely things) for their Etsy store, Wooden Things and Me. They are whipping up something extra special for us. (And it is SO much easier on our paychecks than a $4000 ring! Yikes!!!) They do such beautiful work and are trying a new technique on my engagement ring. I cannot wait to see it! I’ll post pictures when it arrives. Their shop is absolutely worth checking out… You can find it here. On top of making lovely things, they are lovely people. I strongly suggest you check out their shop.

Seriously, go do it.

I’ve done a million other things, including going to Purl SoHo (the shop that dreams are made of) and buying this dreamy bright green and yellow and gray merino wool…

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I’ll update you later if you really want.

In the mean time, does anyone have any tips for getting views on Etsy? Any places you’ve found cheap & pretty wedding dresses? And killer simple wedding/party planning tips? I’ve just got so much to think about!!!!


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A lazy Sunday, done right!

I know, I know. It’s been a while. But I’ve just had the most productive  lazy day I can imagine and it has been WONDERFUL.

This is the first day in a LONG time that I’ve had nothing to do and I took full advantage. For starters, I slept in til 10 after having dreams about being Jerry Garcia’s girlfriend and being in a weird German desert version of Conair. Hmmm. Then I got up and made bread dough which resulted  in this a few hours  later:

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I used King Arthur Flour’s 100% whole wheat bread recipe, modified a bit to make round loaves and I threw in a few chopped garlic cloves, sweet Spanish onions, and chopped spinach. My mom always tries to stick spinach in anything she can to get as much as possible in the family’s diet, and I do believe I inherited  that cooking trait. It has served me well! The bread was wonderful with my boyfriends mothers homemade sauce for dinner, and will be glorious with the roasted chicken I have planned for tomorrow!

While patiently waiting for the dough to rise and sitting firmly on my butt, I finished this roving wool ear warmer (these are so wonderful for winter walks!):

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Put the final touches on this wool fair isle hat for my sister:

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And started this manly alpaca hat:

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Not too shabby! I even got laundry done with some help from Callie:

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Three cheers for productive lazy Sundays! And now I need to keep knitting while waiting for Downton Abbey to come on.

Life is hard. Very, very hard.


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Work in Progress

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So, I’ve been working on making some mannequin heads for the past few days to photograph my hats on, and they are coming along! I’ve got the basic features on my lady, now I’ve got to work on a man while I wait for her to dry. The next layer will be small details, then she will be ready for paint. I’ve been photographing every step so I can write a tutorial when I am done.

Oh, and I finished my laurel hat!

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We had a snow day yesterday so I got EXTRA time to get crafty!


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Finished some mittens, now on to hats.

So, I’ve finally finished my purple dogwood mittens. There were a few stops and starts, some dumb mistakes made while knitting tired, and one frogging incident, but here they are!

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The pictures aren’t great but I don’t have them with me to rephotograph right now. The one on the right is blocked and the one on the left us not.

They came out a little bigger that I thought they would. I didn’t think the yarn I used was thicker than my previous mitten yarn, but apparently it was by a little bit. Oh well, someone with big hands will appreciate them I hope.

So, I’ve started my first hat of the series. I wanted to stay with the leaf theme and recreate the shape of a really great hat I made for my sister a while ago, so I took a look at the basic design I used for hers and thought about a leaf design that would look good in a circle. Vines? Repeated leaves? A leaf/flower design? LAURELS! Golden laurels, to be exact.

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I had a tiny ball of really pretty golden Madeline Tosh merino left over from a previous project that works perfectly as the leaf color. For the brown and white, I used some really wonderful alpaca I got from a local alpaca farm, Alpacalachin Farm. The yarn is dye-free and incredibly soft. Like, softer than I thought alpaca wool could be. Jen, the owner, knows her stuff. I love that she does not dye her wools. The natural alpaca colors are so wonderful. The white is creamy and radiant and the brown is so warm and inviting, like creamy coffee. I also have some darker brown and black yarn to work with from her farm and I can’t wait to use it. It just feels good to have between my fingers! It’s going to be unbelievable over your ears. Whoever buys these hats is going to be one lucky duck.

I realized with this hat how much I REALLY don’t like working with more that two colors. Messing around with three colors is just so slow and frustrating. I mean, look at the inside of this!

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Awful! But it does look so nice on the outside. I can’t wait to get it done and blocked.

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I have a really cool idea for mannequin heads to photograph my upcoming hats on, and if it works out I think I’ll post a tutorial on it. We shall see. Til then, happy knitting!

Second Fair Isle Pair DONE, Third on the Needles…

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So, I’ve designed, knit, and completed my second pair of fair isle mittens in preparation for opening my Etsy store. I’m very happy with the result, and here they are!

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I have been having a lot of fun designing these mittens. I have been looking at many traditional Nordic mittens and have been trying to get a touch of the traditional in my mittens, while taking motifs from local trees. My next pair will be dogwoods. I’ve just finished the first one:

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I’m excited to get the second one done and blocked! This is also the first three-color design. I think my next pair may be more complex color-wise. I have a little experience with three color knitting, and know what I’m in for. We shall see! I’ll keep you updated on this pair’s progress and the next design.

Cheers!

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