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FO: Counting Sheep

Welcome to the first day of Spring! It’s raining buckets here, and has been pronounced a jammie day in this household.

I eventually got to weaving in ends and sewing buttons onto Counting Sheep, a heavily modified version of the Sheep Yoke Baby Cardigan by Looking Glass Knits. It started out of necessity, as I was using a heavier yarn. Then I read through the pattern and saw there were no details about increasing in the yoke, and I found the chart hard to read. These are observations, not complaints, as this is a gratis pattern. But it started me thinking about making other mods, and at some point I realized it would be easier to figure it out from scratch than cobble from a existing pattern. And that’s what I did! It was quite a learning experience.

This was my knitting station when I sat down to figure out the yoke, the only part that required serious thought. The reference books on the floor are Knitting from the Top (Barbara Walker), Knitting Without Tears (EZ), and A Treasury of Knitting Patterns (Barbara Walker again) – all available at Schoolhouse Press and all invaluable.
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I can’t believe there’s not a cup of tea somewhere in this picture. At any rate, I kept detailed notes, in the event anyone should want to follow my mods. This is what I ended up with:
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And, for a sense of the cardi without colors:
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Pattern: Counting Sheep, based on Sheep Yoke Baby Cardigan and Baby Sheep Hat (PDF) patterns
Yarn: Berroco Vintage, Chocolate (1.1 skeins, 238 yds), Fennel (.4 skeins, 87 yds), Tidepool (.3 skeins, 65 yds), Mochi (.1 skeins, 22 yards, and Louisa Harding Kashmir Aran, black (.1 skeins, 8 yds)**
**Note that all yarn amounts (but brown) reflect knitting both the cardigan and a matching Baby Sheep Hat
Needles: US 8
Size: 22″ chest circumference
Mods/Pattern Notes:

The following “pattern” is based on a gauge of 4 sts / 6 rows per inch.

Quatrefoil Eyelet stitch pattern (derived from A Treasury of Knitting Patterns) – multiple of 8 stitches

  • Row 1 (WS) and all WS rows – Purl
  • Row 2 – K3, *yo, ssk, k6*, repeat from * to *, end last repeat K3 instead of K6
  • Row 4 – K1, *k2tog, yo, k1, yo, ssk, k3*, repeat from * to *, end last repeat K2 instead of K3
  • Row 6 – Repeat Row 2
  • Row 8 – K
  • Row 10 – K7, *yo, ssk, k6*, repeat from * to *, end K1
  • Row 12 – K5, *k2tog, yo, k1, yo, ssk, k3*, repeat from * to *, end K3
  • Row 14 – Repeat Row 10

The yoke is generated with 5 increase rows on the RS, increasing 18 sts evenly across each row. I used the “practically invisible increase” described on page 27 of Knitting Without Tears, which “is formed by knitting into the stitch of the row below from the back, not from the front”. This twists the stitch, which is a form of a right lifted increase. And it indeed practically invisible!

Because 18 does not divide evenly into the stitch count on the increase rows, a little fudging is in order, and is perfectly OK! For instance, for the first increase row, 62/18 = 3.4. Hmmm. I worked most of the increases every 4th stitch (3 sts in between) with an increase every 5th stitch thrown in periodically. Just eyeball it as you work the row to keep it semi-even and ensure you work 18 increases.

The stitch counts at the cast on and after each increase row, and the number of stitches between increases, is as follows:

1st increase row: 62 sts (CO) (3.4)

2nd: 80 sts (4.4)

3rd: 98 sts (5.4)

4th: 116 sts (6.4)

5th: 134 sts (7.4)

152 sts (total for yoke)

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CO 62 with MC (in this case brown).

Work 5 rows 2X2 ribbing, beginning and ending with a K2, ending on a RS row.

K 3 rows w/ MC, ending on WS.

Switch to blue and work 13 rows in stockinette and AT THE SAME TIME work an increase row on the 1st, 5th, and 11th rows.

The chart will start on the next row (RS) with 1 row in blue followed by 7 rows in green, and there are no increase rows over the 8 rows of the chart. I used the sheep chart from Melissa Burt’s Baby Sheep Hat (link to PDF above). Remember to work the chart form the top down instead of bottom up – simply flip the chart upside down!

I worked a total of 7 sheep motifs as follows: starting on a RS row I worked three of the leftmost sheep (right facing), one middle sheep (front facing in the back center), and three of the rightmost sheep (left facing). On the first row (RS) on the chart, space the motifs as follows: work 8 stitches between each end of the row and the first/last stitch of the first row of the sheep, 7 stitches between the right- and left-facing sheet, and 15 stitches between the center (front facing) sheep and the next sheep.

I used a combination of stranding and intarsia. The sheep are small enough the strand the background color (blue or green), and use intarsia for the black and cream bits.

The chart should end on a WS row. Continue in green in stockinette, working the 4th increase row on the first row after the chart, followed by the 5th (and last) increase row on the following 7th row, to end on a RS.

K 3 rows w/ MC, ending on a WS.

Split the sleeves from the body as follows: K 22 (right front), place next 32 sts on a holder), K 44 (back), place next 32 sts on holder), K22 (left front).

Work 14 rows of Quatrefoil Eyelet, beginning on WS.

Work in stockinette for about 2.5 inches, or approximately 2.5 inches from desired length.

Work Rows 1 through 9 of Quatrefoil Eyelet, beginning on WS.

K 2 rows.

K 1 row, increasing 2 sts (1 sts at each side)

Work 5 rows 2X2 ribbing, beginning and ending with a K2, ending on a WS row.

Bind off loosely in pattern.

Work arms as follows: place held stitches on needle and pick up 4 stitches under the arm (36 sts).

Work in stockinette in the round (K all rows) and decrease 2 stitches on the 5th and 10th rows as follows: K1, ssk, k to 3 stitches from the end, k2tog, k1 (32 stitches).

Knit until approximately 2.5 inches from desired length.

Work Rows 1 through 9 of Quatrefoil Eyelet, beginning on WS, but knit all WS rows.

K 1 row, P 1 row, K 1 row.

Work 5 rows 2X2 ribbing.

Bind off loosely in pattern.

Work the bands as follows: with MC, pick up and knit 58 stitches.

Work 6 rows 2X2 ribbing, beginning and ending with K2. On left band, work five evenly spaces buttonholes on Row 3 , using your desired method. You could more or less buttons, or none at all!

Bind off in pattern.

Weave in all ends, attach buttons. Block as desired. Dress infant!

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Even though I took alot of notes, I found I needed to fill in a few blanks. If you find errors, please let me know!

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Finishes and fixes, finally

I’m going to be doing some sample knitting for a friend this year, so I decided that I needed to clear my knitting plate a bit. I finished a couple of chunky-weight sweaters, and fixed a couple of existing FOs that needed just a little more work. These were the projects of mine, the ones we all have, that didn’t necessarily takes mountains of time, they just needed to be knocked out.

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First up, a Nati, by Lucy Hulett, in GGH Aspen. Details on Ravelry. I’ve wanted to make this pattern for the longest time, in part because I had a perfect stash yarn. Plus, getting a whole sweater out of 440 yards of yarn is nifty! This feels like the softest sweatshirt ever, and it’s quite warm to boot. The only mod I made was to make the neckline smaller by casting off 4 fewer stitches (2 less on each side).

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Second, a Go Vest, by Pickles, in SWTC Optim DK. Details on Ravelry. I started this project because I had a perfect stash yarn, and I thought it would quick and result in a versatile little sweater. It didn’t turn out quite like I expected, but I do like it. The brioche stitch used in this pattern is interesting, though not intuitive at first, at least to me. I could see using this stitch in a scarf or wrap for interesting texture. A few inches into the body I realized that my gauge was a bit too large, so I decreased 1 stitch at each side just inside the front bands twice, spaces about four inches apart.

On to the fixes!

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Before After

I decided to go ahead and sew down the back pleat on the Lena I finished near the beginning of this year. In addition to making the back look neater, I was surprised by how much this change helped the size and drape of the body! I realized belatedly that this was just like taking in an inch on each side. It is smaller all over, and hugs my back more. It’s not a perfect sewing job by any stretch, but I am happy enough with it and the improved fit that resulted.

For the other fix, we need to jump in the way back machine. Way back to January 2007.

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Before After

I finished this Wicked pullover with nary an inch of yarn to spare, and I ended up never wearing it because it was just a bit too short. Fast forward to January 2011, I’m in my LYS and I spy a single lonely skein of Supermerino in the same colorway, or as same as it could be. I could not believe it!

I snapped it up and sure enough, it was a close match. I picked out the bind off at the hem, and added 3-ish more inches, using about half the skein. It’s now the perfect length, is much more flattering (if I do say so), and I’ve worn it with a long sleeve tissue t-shirt underneath three times in two weeks. It was meant to be. I’m over the moon at having what is essentially a new sweater with this little fix, because now I will actually wear it. It’s ultra soft, very warm and so comfy.

In other crafty endeavors, I helped a friend recover some cushions for a nursery glider yesterday. We skipped off to Michael Levine’s to be overwhelmed with fabric choices, but did finally settle on something perfect. We sized, cut, interfaced, pinned and sewed all in one day! It really got my latent sewing bug going again. I must get my machine working! Plus there are couple more smallish knitting projects I’d like to finish up, and I’ve been working lately on a sample knit too. Ahhh, never enough hours.

Here in SoCal we are getting a taste of real winter – it snowed down to 500 feet, even accumulating in Burbank yesterday, and this morning the water in my bird bath was frozen solid. Thank goodness for all these woolens!

Wee FOs

It’s a time of wee-sized FOs around here. After a string of cardigan knitting, it’s been refreshing to work on smaller projects. Although I am hearing the siren call of sweater knitting once again!

First, for a colleague that has just added a baby boy to his family…

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Pattern: Get Ziggy by Anny Purls (Raveled)

Yarn: Elsebeth Lavold Cable Cotton, ~ 3.6 skeins or 335 yds

Needles: US6 and US7

Size: Followed pattern for 18 mos at a smaller gauge (~20 sts/4 in) to achieve about a 12 mos size

I love the thought of baby boys in denim blue. I had originally purchased this yarn with my great-nephew in mind. That was over four years ago. Ahem. When I learned of this baby boy and rifled through my patterns, I realized this was a perfect match.

Actually, the plied cotton yarn structure was a bit splitty for the serious cable action. But other than that, it worked like a champ and blocked well too. My ratio of stitch and row gauge was a little off compared to the pattern, and I had to fudge the sleeve seaming here and there, in part by seaming the sides up another 1/2 inch or so. In the end it all came together, though, and I love the way it turned out.

Second, for my sis L’s beau…

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This project was tumbling around in the back of my head when I was working on the sheepy cardigan below. I ended up using far less of the brown-colored Berroco Vintage than I anticipated, and had essentially a full skein remaining. At almost the same time, I received an email from ChicKnits announcing the new He Said, She Said hat/cowl pattern. I soon realized that the skein of Vintage, doubled, would be just right for a men’s hat in this pattern. And sure enough, a couple evenings of knitting and I had a soft, cushy, unique, and man-appropriate hat!

Pattern: He Said, She Said hat by ChicKnits (Raveled)

Yarn: Berroco Vintage, Chocolate, ~185 yds

Needles: US 8 and 10.5

Size: 21″-22″ (smaller) at a slightly larger gauge

Also wee, but not yet done, the sheepy cardigan

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There are alot of ends hiding in there! This new arrival is not due until April though, so I’m not feeling too rushed.

I’ve been spending the weekend since Friday nursing a cold. You’d think I’d have lots of knitting time, but it hasn’t turned out that way. You know you are sick when knitting takes too much concentration and energy. I did read a whole novel and start another, though! Last weekend, N and I drove into the Angeles National Forest, to over 7,000 feet, and spent a couple hours hiking and picnicking here (as always, click for bigger):

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Just remembering this view makes me feel better. We crossed an ice-cold trickling stream, spied a group of mountain chickadees, smelled the pine and manzanita, and sunned ourselves like lizards on a rock outcropping, much needed as it was about 45F up there. Hope you all are well and warm!

FO: Merope

A shawl made not just of yarn, but of caring thoughts, and a bright something to hold when the world seems dark. For Kat, a little fluff of shawl as a measure of condolence.

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Pattern: Merope by Romi Hill from 7 Small Shawls to Knit

Yarn: Brooks Farm Primero, colorway SW 18, half a skein (~250 yards)

Needles: US7 needles

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My mods were minimal, beyond subbing a light worsted/dk weight yarn. I followed the directions for the stockinette version of the pattern, a made only two repeats of Chart B (instead of four).

This booklet, and this pattern, are just lovely. This booklet provides gorgeous patterns and large, clear charts in addition to written directions. Highly recommended!

New, new, new

New projects, new patterns, New Year!

Over my much-enjoyed end-of-year break, I cast on several new projects. Some were so quick, they are already FOs, and a few remain on the needles.

For a colleague’s new baby boy, a Get Ziggy in Elsebeth Lavold Cable Cotton. I love the idea of denim blue on a baby boy! I have now finished the front and the neckline, and have only the arms and finishing.

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For a friend’s new baby girl, a heavily modified version of the Sheep Yoke Baby Cardigan in Berroco Vintage. I am subbing a worsted yarn, instead of dk, and I based the yoke pattern on the hat pattern that was based on the cardigan pattern. I am now through the body and have one sleeve done. Baby knits are so quick!

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I have loved working with the Vintage! Yes, it’s soft. But more than that, it has a slight sheen without being shiny and has just enough “squoosh” while still having a great drape. This will certainly be a go-to yarn for me for many uses, and there’s a Vintage Chunky too! I admit I was an utter yarn snob about acrylic, that is, before Berroco introduced Comfort and other lines blended with acrylic that are simply fabulous.

The last new project on the needles is for moi, a Nati in GGH Aspen. I have been waning to make this sweater, in this stash yarn, for the longest time. It’s like the coziest sweatshirt ever! I had the toughest time with color in this picture, though.

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And finally, as promised, a loooong list o’patterns. I don’t know if there have been more releases and if I’ve just been paying more attention, but I’ve accumulated so many in the last couple months or so I can hardly keep up. Some are new, some are just new to me. All links are just the pattern name and are to Ravelry, for simplicity’s sake. I warn you, though, I think you’re going to need a pot of tea for this πŸ™‚ And possibly a pizza delivery. There are over 100 patterns linked here. And these do not include pattern releases from books or print/online magazines!

Sweaters

Greta, Every Last Yard, Asteria, Lima Shrug, Milkweed, Seamair, Dark and Stormy, Cassis, Shiraz, White Russian, Calvados, Collins, 45 RPM Shrug, Tortoise and Hare, Concetta, Freeport, Solstice Cardigan, Wave Hello Cardigan, Bella, Among the Birches, Best Friend, Ribbon Candy Cardigan, November10, White Pine, Scouting Jacket, Trail Jacket, Larch Cardigan, Contended Cardi, Emilien, Atelier, Pole, Mado Cherie, Mead, Drift, and Dunedin Vest.

Hats and Mitts

Gray Dawn fingerless mitts, Chinese Waves fingerless mitts, Sofie’s Slouch, Fletcher Mittens, Lovisa Armwarmers, Strago, Tortoise and Hare Gauntlets, Lofty Wool Cable mittens, Autumn Vines beret, Quinault fingerless gloves, Winter Wonder Mittens, Orla hat, Sprouting Cloche, Blubberblasen hat, Eugenia’s Mittens, Stray beret, Noro Spiral Hat, Autumn, Fenimore beret, Skinner Hat, Welted fingerless mitts, Malabrigo Hand Thingies, Little Things hat, Acorns hat, Nathair Mitts, Castiel hat, Sidecar Mittens, Crossings fingerless mitts, Harvestwood fingerless mitts, Emphemera Mittens, Lettuce Knit Armwarmers, and Oak Grove fingerless mitts.

Shawls, Scarves and Cowls

Frosted Glow cowl, Moody Kerchief, Seaweed shawlette, Stockholm cowl, Shaelyn shawl, Cedar Wrap, Cabled Keyhole Scarf, A Little Ruffle, Fable capelet, Cowichan Jackalope Cowl, Over the Helix Cowl, Cilantro shawl, Easy Missoni Style Mobius Cowl, GAP-tastic Cowl, Winter Bud scarf, Nepal Wrap, and Pavement scarf,

Baby

Retro Baby Smock, Korrigan, Lovebug Booties, Sun Hat, Maile Sweater, Owlie Sleep Sack, Sweet Oak Hooded Cardigan, Iceling, Sprout hat, Stormy Jacket & Bark Cap, Baby Moccasins, Easy Baby Cardigan,  Shipley Baby Carriage Blanket, and Inky Dinky cardi and hat.

Other

Vaguely Reminiscent sleep shorts, Greenway blanket (crochet), Sea Lace necklace, Umaro blanket, Deck the Balls, Soxie’s, Last Minute Stockings, DK Delights Socks, and Nola’s Slipper Pattern.

I clearly have an addiction to cardigans and fingerless mitts. Have fun!

Last FO’s of 2010

First I want to say Happy New Year!! to all of you – I hope you rung in the new year doing exactly what you wanted, whatever it was. N and I alternate years going out and staying in. This was a staying in year, which is just as well because it was darn chilly outside. We made hot chocolate with Bailey’s and didn’t manage to stay up until midnight. C’est la vie.

I, for one, am happy to see 2010 pass. It was a bumpy year as I spent much of it plagued with panic attacks, chronic anxiety, and mild depression. In the midst of this, I spent about two months having one of the worst fibromyalgia flares since my diagnosis in 2005. However, except for this load of crap, it was a pretty good year! These kinds of problems make one appreciate the basic, but important, things in life. I have been so fortunate with my job throughout the recession, something I am continually thankful for, N and I have a cozy home in a wonderful neighborhood, we always have enough to eat, and our family and pets (which are like family in my family) are all with us. Perhaps the most important thing to happen to me this year was beginning treatment for the mood issues in July, which has been quite successful. Compared to this time last year, I am remarkably improved. But there is still improvement to be made, and I feel optimistic about it looking towards the new year.

In terms of knitting, I had 23 FOs. This is far less than in previous years, and I am not surprised. I was apathetic about many former interests. Depression will do that to you. I was also reading much more, and was visiting the library on a near-weekly basis. I found that reading worked well for managing anxiety, by giving my mind an escape. Since the Fall, though, knitting has picked up and I am again excited about the whole shebang. Eyeballing new patterns, getting new projects on the needles, and of course, making FOs. I have spent much of my end-of-year break knitting madly, as a matter of fact. I continued in 2010 to focus on knitting from the stash, and do find myself with a net stash reduction! I started 2010 with 722 skeins, and ended with 673. Yay!

So that’s the year in review for me. If you are still with me, as promised, I have a few last FOs from 2010 to share.

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den Arend by Mary Joy Gumayagay, ~140 yds Cascade 220 and s smidge of charcoal Araucania Nature Wool on US7 needles. Raveled here. My nephew has a very large noggin, and as this pattern was written for a size up to 23”, I subbed a worsted yarn to make it larger. I worked through row 22, instead of 30, of the straight portion and otherwise followed the pattern as written.

Loved this pattern, and the left lifted increases are very clean and easy to do. I think lifted increases are my new favorites. It was even more ginormous than I needed, and so I threw it in the dryer on high for about 30 minutes after wet blocking. It should fit a bit rasta style (not tight), just like M likes his hats.

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Wool Leaves by Jared Flood, 10 skeins (810 yds) Valley Yarns Sugarloaf on US13 needles. Raveled here. I made no mods, except for the yarn sub. I ended up using about 160 yards more yarn than called for in the pattern. I think this is because my subbed yarn is heavier by weight than the pattern yarn, and I could easily have knit this on 15s, but I liked the fabric with 13s and so stayed with that.

I love the way this turned out. It’s super quick, beautiful and would make a wonderful lap blanket for an adult as much a a baby blanket.

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Baby Sheet Hat by Melissa Burt, small amounts of Berroco Vintage in Mochi, Tide Pool and Fennel and a bit of Louisa Harding Kashmir Aran in black on US8 needles. Raveled here. I upsized this from 12” to about 16” by subbing a worsted yarn at a gauge of about 4sts/inch. Love the sheepies! I’m also working on a matching cardigan based on this pattern, but with several modifications. I am taking copious notes, and it will be a post unto itself!

I have a couple other new items on the needles, but this is more than enough for one day, I think. I will blog these and a list of links next time, to help fluff out your queue for 2011!

Mittens Galore

Well, just two. Does two make galore?

I did skip knitting holiday presents this year, but did decide to knit for birthday presents! It was a good compromise for me.

This summer, my sister L mentioned that her hands are never, ever warm in the winter when outside, even wearing mittens. I immediately thought of thrummed mittens – if ever there was a knitting solution, this was it! I googled around and sent off for a thrummed mitten kit from Camilla Valley Farm, and ended up only using the skein of Peace Fleece from it. It’s a bit of a tale, for something as simple as mittens.

First, the fleece in the kit was not great stuff, certainly functional, but not good enough for a gift. There was more vegetable matter than I expected, and it was scratchy and minimally combed. I am going to put it outside in the spring for the birds to use as nesting material πŸ™‚ I eventually went to Wildfiber and got some incredibly soft and fluffy teal-colored fleece to use instead.

As to the pattern, I got through the cuff and all was well, and once I got into the body I knew there was a problem. The pattern instructed to keep knitting the body on US6 (with an aran/worsted yarn) and to place the thrums in every third row and lined up on top of each other, which resulted in an impossibly thick and dense mitten that was tortuous to knit.

Ravelry to the rescue! I searched for thrummed mitten patterns, and lo there was a pattern using worsted yarn in IK. An issue of IK that I already owned! Not only that, but it called for the same cast on number and cuff treatment. I could hardly believe my luck. In the end, I followed the IK pattern and finished a very snuggly pair of mittens.

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Pattern: Thrummed Mittens by Jennifer Appleby from Winter 2006 IK or available for download (Raveled)

Yarn/Materials: Peace Fleece Worsted in Zarya Fog, ~140 yds and about 1.5 ounces of carded roving

Needles: US6 and US7

The ultimate test is whether these would actually keep my sister’s hands warm, and I am pleased to say that they do. She says they are the only mittens that have ever kept her hands warm, as well as dry, in cold weather. And she reports their insulating properties continue to improve as the yarn and roving become slightly felted with use and form to her hands. Although making and inserting the thrums literally doubles the project time, it was completely worth to know that I helped to warm L’s hands!

The other pair of mittens I made was for me – all mine! It’s been an unusually wet and chilly fall and winter this year here in SoCal, and my neighborhood walks were being plagued with cold fingers. I have several pair of fingerless mittens, you see, and that normally cuts it in this neck of the woods. Not this year. I dove into the stash for some bulky yarn, the better to immediately have a new pair of mittens, and landed on a single skein of Dream in Color Groovy in Happy Forest. Ravelry came to the rescue again, as I searched for a good mitten pattern using just 120 yards of bulky yarn and I found a perfect match!

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Pattern: Snow Chains Mittens by Starryknit (Raveled)

Yarn/Materials: Dream in Color Groovy, Happy Forest, 1 skein (120 yds)

I think this may be my favorite name for a colorway, ever. And indeed the colors are gleefully green, and if a forest had emotions, these colors would be happy.

Needles: US9

Mods: I made a couple small mods. First, I eliminated one 4-row repeat at the cuff, to ensure I had enough yarn. As it turned out, I would not have had enough! Second, I did not continue the cable over the tops of the thumbs as written. Instead of the decrease rounds as written, I decreased around, including the cables, and cinched the thumb. I didn’t want the bulk on the thumbs.

Verdict – I love them! Cozy, warm, and already well used. They are a tad big on me, but not too much so. The pattern is well written, and I thought the method used to continue to cable over the hand was really clever.

I should mention that the pictures above also feature the ever-present Fylingdales, which I have positively worn to death! Almost every day since I made it. It’s my house sweater of choice, as well as being worn out and about. And yarn, Elann Peruvian Sierra Aran, has held up extraordinarily well. Better than I ever could have hoped for. There is some pilling, but they are occasional big pills that are very easy to pull off. I think in the last year plus, I sat down and quickly de-pilled this sweater twice. In about 10 minutes. Can’t beat it!

I promised some FOs, and believe it or not there are a few more to blog. I also have several items on the needles, and that huge list of patterns to share. Hope you are all enjoying end-of-year festivities, and are safe, warm and happy! I think it’s time for hot chocolate πŸ™‚