Montreal in Kidsilk Haze

Kidsilk Haze--I try to never been without a Kidsilk Haze work-in-progress in my work basket; I love knitting with it and wearing it. This project, Montreal by Lisa Richardson, was made with leftovers from some of my other projects.

To a newcomer, knitting with Kidsilk Haze can seem daunting. I remember my first experience with KSH and wondered what I had gotten myself into.  The yarn is wispy, flyaway, as thin as a spider's web, and appears that it can never be tamed. But it can be tamed and here's how: She's needle fussy so play around with a few needles to find what works best for you.  I find blunt bamboos give me more control by slowing it down; if KSH is rushed and you make a mistake, it's notoriously difficult to frog. If you do find yourself having to rip out a few stitches or even a few rows, go ahead and give it a good tug, then tug again, because it's super strong and resists breaking. I know from unfortunate experience that KSH can be frogged and re-frogged and even re-re-frogged and will hold up beautifully, but just keep your eye on your project and you'll be fine.  I guarantee you are in for a first-rate knitting experience that will produce the most heavenly fabric that rivals anything you'll see in the finest bespoke shops. Also, be prepared to like your garment for more than a few years as it holds up well. My first KSH sweaters made over a decade ago are still much loved and in sweater rotation in the Knitionary wardrobe

The pattern is a snap to make, but I feel it's very oversized. I made the XS size, but ripped it out and cast on again with much fewer stitches. I didn't keep notes, but I recommend making a size or even two sizes down. The original pattern calls for Rowan Mohair Haze, now discontinued, and KSH is a fair sub as the gauge and fabric feel is similar, just fiddle with needle sizes while you swatch to get gauge.

The first two pictures above are me of course, and the last three are of my darling teenage neighbor who will often model for me when she's in town.

Montreal pattern by Lisa Richardson

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Cotton Cashmere

I always love to have an opportunity to share a new yarn with you. Rowan's new spring/summer yarn, Cotton Cashmere, is 85% cotton and 15% cashmere in a worsted weight.  It has a lightweight handle on the needles and even with the predominance of cotton it has a nicely wooly and lanolin feel to it. I agonized over what color to choose, but landed on this shade of linen because I knew it would be pretty this summer with my white linen pants. The fabric is a bit rustic, very soft and drapey and I think it would make a beautiful tank or an open, swingy cardigan. It was very easy to knit with a soft handle and not needle fussy at all. Still, it's good to remember that plant fibers knit up differently than wool. If you've had one bad experience with stringy cotton yarn, allow me to give you a sales pitch to give it another chance. Plant fibers don't have as much bounce as wool but a good cotton yarn will never feel stringy or difficult. The stitches of a hand knitted cotton or linen fabric typically aren't as even as wool, but to me it's part of the charm. The fabric is soft, strong, and breathable. And summer begs for cotton!  I've always said that Rowan does cotton better than anyone else and this yarn does not disappoint. This summer I'll be knitting with Cotton Cashmere again and also have a few sweaters planned with Rowan Handknit Cotton, another wonderful summer cotton I become obsessed with every time spring is in the air. I hope you'll give cotton a chance this spring!  If you've had a cheap cotton yarn experience, come back and try it again!

The pattern is Cool from Kim Hargreaves' Spirit book. It is out of print, but still available to purchase. I'm crazy about this ribbed boatneck design and Kim likes it too as she seems to use it a lot. Pattern changes were to eliminate the stripes and lengthen the sleeves. For them I used the top-down set-in sleeve technique. When you pick up stitches from the armhole and knit them down with short rows, it's easy to stop when you have the length you want. I almost stopped at just below the elbow, but I felt this would be a summer evening sweater and I do like to be warm. Our summer evenings are chilly enough for longer sleeves.

There are a dozen support patterns for Cotton Cashmere, but you can also look for any pattern that uses Rowan's Creative Linen (which what my pattern was meant to be knit with). The gauge was spot on. I think a Kid Classic pattern would work too although the row gauge is different, still, I think it could work. The bonus is that there are a ton of gorgeous Kid Classic and Creative Linen patterns in print. 

Cotton Cashmere should be at your local yarn store by now, but if not, my local yarn store, Uncommon Threads, has it for purchase online:

Here I go again making another very plain stockinette sweater. But I know what looks best on me, and I know what I'll get the most use from: a plain sweater in a gorgeous fabric with a great fit. For this sweater I wanted a relaxed fit--not too tight, and not oversized. The ball band says this yarn can go in the washing machine, but I'm not so certain if I will do that. I don't anticipate any problems machine washing it, it's just that the fabric feels so lux I feel like I want to baby it. Either way I decide to wash it, I'll pat it to shape to dry in the shade, then give it a quick fluff in the dryer while it's still damp. I like my cotton sweaters to take about 10 minutes in a warm dryer to fluff them up.

Here's how to knit a top-down, set-in sleeve with short rows. It's easy!

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Acharn Romper pattern discount

Hello! Today I have a new pattern to share with you from Rainer & Bear. The Acharn Romper was part of a hand knitted collection designed exclusively for Fortnum & Mason, and now you can knit it too! Rainer & Bear patterns are beautifully produced with instructions that are easy to follow with a style that is vintage inspired and classic baby. Isn't this romper just precious with the cable detail down the sides and on the straps? The designers have kindly offered my readers a 30% discount on the pattern until the end of February using the coupon code: knitionary. I've got my yarn chosen and my pattern printed and I'm ready to knit this for my beautiful seven month old grandson.

The Acharn Romper by Rainer & Bear

It's super easy to use a coupon code, but if you've never used one, here's how it's done:

How to use a coupon code:

Click the pattern link above.
Select "add to cart", then select "checkout" on the pop-up window.
Hit the "add a coupon" button and type in knitionary.
Hit the "apply now" button.
The adjusted price will reflect the 30% discount.
Ater purchase, your pattern will be available to download and print.

It is a fact that all babies look scrumptious in hand knits. I've knit baby garments for years and feel so lucky that I now have a baby model right in my own family!

I make sure that all my baby knits are made with soft, machine washable fibers (I use mostly wool, cotton, or a blend of both). The Acharn Romper calls for DK weight yarn and I have chosen the soft and machine-washable Rowan Softyak DK for my new project. I love this yarn. It is predominately cotton with 15% yak and a dash of nylon. It knits up easily and beautifully, with a bit of sheen, and soft enough to go next to anyone's skin. It has a chain construction and therefore has a bit of bounce that helps to make the stitches line up evenly. Definitely not your everyday cotton. Below is a list of my favorite knitting yarns for baby; all are machine wash, super soft, easy to knit, and readily available:

Three Irish Girls Springvale DK--100% wool
Rowan Summerlite 100% cotton in either DK weight or fingering weight
I also love the Debbie Bliss Cashmerinos in sport weight or aran weight,
a blend of wool, acrylic, and cashmere.

This winter our little guy is wearing the knits I made for him before he was born. Likely he won't fit into any of these next winter, but we love them so much I'm planning to knit them again using the same patterns and the same yarn but knitting a size or two larger. The first one below is the Alaskan Pullover by Ainur Berkim. My son wants it again exactly the way it is--same colors, same yarn, and in fact is obsessed with it and wants one for himself! The designer says her husband wants one too so she is working on adult sizing. When I hear it's available, I'll make sure to let you know.

Stitches West is next weekend and I'm heading straight to the Three Irish Girls booth to get some Springvale DK again to remake this darling Silver Birch from Sarah Cooke below in the next size up. Won't this be too cute in red? Or a bright blue? I'm open to anything, including this pretty sea glass color again.

He has his learner's permit already! 

The Jump For Joy hoodie uses aran weight yarn. The machine wash Rowan yarn I used was discontinued so I'm bringing the pattern with me to Stitches to see what I can find. I'm open to any color but the kids do like this gray with the yellow and red touches. The pictures above and below are of our backyard explorations. He sits low in his little push car and we circle the garden a few times to pick flowers, swat oranges, pat moss, pick up sticks, that sort of thing. It takes a good half hour to do all this and when I have him for the day, we explore once in the morning and again in the afternoon. It's so sweet to see him concentrate on some tiny thing, but I wish I had a nickel for every time I've asked him not to put something in his mouth.

My little explorer has found something he likes! 

It looks tasty!

He's very good at stopping when I ask him to not put something in his mouth.

 But seconds later he tries again.

The stick was a terrific find. He held on to it for ages.
My little darling. I love him so much.

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Valentine blooms, baking, and knitting

Happy Valentine's Day!
To celebrate the day I have quite a lot of pink I can bring in from the garden.
The tulip magnolia is blooming at the top, just out of reach.
It takes another week before the lower branches bloom and I can bring them in. 

But I can reach the camellias. Such hard workers. Bless them.

The flowering quince hedge in the front yard has the sharpest and longest thorns.
I hold my breath and reach deep inside to snip a few branches.

A friend brought us a treat--some crazy Oreo stuffed chocolate chip cookies from a local bakery. My husband was in love with them so a few days later I went to the same bakery to get some more but they were closed. I heard him whimper a bit when I broke the bad news, and because he is bravely recovering from foot surgery and also because he is my favorite Valentine, I went to the store to get the ingredients and made them myself. See inside that yummy cookie? There is an Oreo cookie baked right in the middle surrounded by chocolate chip cookie. Delicious. And so very decadent. I followed this recipe but mine came out huge, plus they are super rich, so I cut them into pie wedges after they cooled. (Full disclosure--I did not make my own dough but instead used prepared refrigerated Nestle Toll House cookie dough and it worked great!) I love serving cookies at dinner parties and this recipe is going into the cookie rotation for sure.  As for knitting, I've got a few things on the needles as usual. I'm testing a lovely pullover from Fallsmache, and gosh she is a lovely woman. I'm also focussed on finishing the last sleeve of a Kim Hargreaves pattern using the new and lovely Cotton Cashmere from Rowan (see first three pictures below). Can't wait to share that with you. Even though I had those two going, I always cast on a new project during the opening ceremonies--this time the free Sarah Hatton pattern called Sutton using some vintage Calmer. Remember that lovely stuff? I'm glad I hoarded some when I could. The cable pattern is intuitive and easily memorized, plus it's pretty.  What are you knitting to the Olympics?

There is not a whole lot going on here except for watching massive amounts of TV while my husband rests his foot. Just three more weeks and he can start to be more active with a walking boot and some PT. It's a good thing we both love watching the Olympic games; him with his foot up and me with my needles. I've got a few more finished knits that I have to photograph modeled. I think that makes six to do. Dreading that little thing but I know I must. As a knitter, I much prefer seeing modeled sweaters over un-modeled sweaters and I assume everyone else does too!

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