Knitting With Purpose

Thinking about my forthcoming trip, it didn’t take me long to realize that there were some rather definite empty spots in my wardrobe. I’m fine without them in my everyday life, but I would not be so fine without them in Alaska. Some are needs, and some are closer to wants, and I have no idea how much of either I’ll be able to finish before the big event, but I’m giving it a go, starting with the smallest projects of the most importance and working up to larger and down to least importance (in my perfect plan, of course) the best I can manage. Believe it or not, I didn’t even have a proper coat, but I decided to forgo knitting that, and bought a really cool one at the Eddie Bauer outlet. I absolutely could not bring myself to buy a hat and mitts, though. 😉

My first project was the one I deemed most important – a hat. I’d been eying the Thorpe pattern for a long time, but I knew in my heart of hearts that it would look absolutely silly on me. Still, it drew me… So when I decided I needed a hat with ear coverage, I bought myself some chunky Misti Alpaca and spent two evenings knitting one up – sans braids, mind you. I did the crocheted edge that the pattern calls for, but I just didn’t like the way it looked, so I ripped it out and changed to an I-cord edge in a color I didn’t expect to use. The finished hat fits close, and the I-cord holds it cupped around my ears – after a couple failed tries. It’s going to be perfect, and as a bonus, it is incredibly touchable! I used one ball of the main color and just a bit of the contrast. Woolma condescended to model for me. Her head is a bit smaller than mine, and I think she’s a lot cuter in it, but…

Next project was a pair of mitts, knit from my own design, Sightseer Mitts, which I hope to share here sometime in the relatively near future. Although I wanted to make a pair of mittens, I started thinking about taking pix with mittens or gloves on, and knew that wouldn’t work. Then I thought about taking gloves off and sticking them in my pocket and taking a picture and getting the gloves out and putting them back on… Not going to happen! Mitts on the other hand…

These are made with most of the remaining ball of contrast I used on the hat, so both items can be made with just the two balls, and there’s still a bit left over for my Odd Balls Tub. 🙂

The third project I have finished is a vest I’ve wanted to make for years – the Taos Bolero Vest. I loved it the moment I saw it, but haven’t been making myself any clothing, as that would curtail my desire to be slimmer. However… well, I knit this a bit smaller than I’d have done for my size and blocked it under a bit of duress, so it should have some long term potential. I also used Wisdom Yarns’ Poems, which is very affordable, so no guilt. Added benefit is that I found I really love this yarn, so it wasn’t even a sacrifice to use it! And just look how pretty! I couldn’t get the camera to see the colors entirely accurately, but you can get the idea, at least. The area that looks sort of light slate blue is actually a lovely medium teal.

I did learn a few things doing this vest. First, I looked carefully at the balls for the ones that matched color repeat all the way to the center. If they have a twin, there is almost guaranteed to be no knots. (I’m now using this trick when I buy Noro off the shelf, too.) These single strand yarns with long repeats are prone to knots, so it’s worth the time to shop them carefully. I picked two balls that were twins and did my fronts from them, two at a time, so I could be sure they retained some balance, which was important to me. I know a lot of people love the mismatched sides on sweaters and vests, but they leave me feeling edgy. I didn’t obsess over making them absolutely identical, but I did watch to be sure they didn’t get very far off. No problems with these two balls, and I didn’t even have to make any adjustments!

I also chose to lengthen the body below the armhole quite a bit – a good inch and a half. I wanted my vest to end about the same place or a little lower than the waistline on my dresses. I like where it ended up, and to my surprise, I didn’t need any of the spare balls of yarn I bought. (This means I have enough yarn to make the vest two more times – or make something else wonderful from it… blush!)

And the final thing I changed is that I didn’t like the single crochet edge called for around the armholes in the pattern, so I changed it to ribbing. I worked the ribbing with one extra row around the outside edge, and I worked the armholes to match, picking up 85 stitches around each on the size XL. I’m not happy with the ribbing on the edge. The instructions didn’t say to size down needles, and it’s a 3×2 ribbing, so it doesn’t draw up much. Since she says to add a stitch in one spot during binding off, I was given to believe this would be a rather close fit, but instead, I found the number of picked up stitches to be far too generous for the length of the edge, even with my extra 3 inches of edge length from lengthening the vest. Next time around, I’m going to size down my needles, use a different ribbing, or pick up fewer stitches. Also, because of the way this is worked – all stockinette until adding the ribbing after seaming, it curls like mad! If you hate blocking garments each time you wash them, think before you knit this one! Personally, I love my final vest enough to put up with the inconvenience. 🙂

And this is what I’m working on next – The Hexagon Shrug by Elizabeth Lovick – Northern Lace. I’m just going to leave you with a teaser now, but I have to say that although this is far from an overnight project, it’s a great pattern for someone who wants a simple lace project with a lot of wow to it. The Kraemer Silk and Silver yarn doesn’t hurt a bit, either! Can’t wait to see this one finished!

And that’s all you get for now. My list of things to knit for the trip is still pretty long. I’m relatively sure I won’t get entirely through it, but I’m not going to give up trying! Wonder how many other things I have on that list that people could guess… Hmmm…

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