Monthly Archives: February 2015

The Kelly Cardigan

The Kelly Cardigan, pattern by Erika Knight

The Kelly Cardigan, pattern by Erika Knight

Finally, the cardigan of my dreams!

A few months ago, I started thinking about how much I wanted a cardigan sweater that had a dressier look. Most of my handknit cardigans are knit from practical, sturdy heavy-duty wool and, paired with jeans, look fine. But I could never wear them with a wool skirt or trousers and look, well, polished.

Now I have a sweater I can swan around town in.

This was my first experience knitting with two strands of laceweight mohair/silk held together, and I have to say it was a complete joy. Any fears I had about knitting with this feathery substance were quickly forgotten, especially after I got past knitting onto the cast-on row, the only really tricky part for me. I used KnitPicks Aloft in the color Carbon. My only “complaint” was knitting such a dark color in the dead of winter wasn’t always easy, especially with my poor eyesight at night … but otherwise I loved every minute knitting this sweater. Wearing it is even better. It’s like wearing a cloud. So soft and warm!

Even seaming it was fun! A few months ago, I had purchased a Craftsy course on seaming, which was very helpful since it’s one of those knitting tasks I tend to avoid at all costs. The instructor, Chris Bylsma, is very good: calm, competent, reassuring. I highly recommend this course to novice or nervous seamsters. I prefer the look of a seamed sweater and now that I know I can do a competent job, I won’t avoid seamed patterns any longer!

One note: I put the buttons on the right button band for the simple fact that snaps are used for fastening. The buttons are purely decorative when the cardigan is “buttoned up.”

If you want to read more details about the cardigan, they’re on my Ravelry page.

I plan to knit two more Kelly Cardigans: a red one and a cream one. I’m going to lower the neckband on these next versions, as well as add some torso length to accommodate my long waist.

Utilitarian, fashionable … or both?

Heart Pops Hat

Heart Pops Hat

Kelly Cardigan

Adding moisture to the air

New hygrometer

2015-02-11_09-32-52

Back garage, winter 2015

 

Greetings from snowy eastern Massachusetts!

I’ve been trying to up my game with my knitting this winter, although I was thinking about it this morning and wondering why. You see, I tend to knit a lot of utilitarian items: wooly socks, felted mittens, hats that can be easily spotted by drivers on the road, thick wooly sweaters…these are the types of garments I wear 95 percent of the time. However, I long for a wardrobe that’s stylish — I look at knitters like Leslie and the Rainey Sisters and think, “If only I thought a little more about fashion!” (Haa, just noticed that the Rainey Sisters knit the Heart Pops hat I talk about further on … guess I’m on the right trail!)

As I left the house this a.m., bundled up in simple wool socks, a reflective knit hat, and my bright red mittens–my first ham-handed attempt at felting, complete with wonky acrylic cuffs!–I came to the conclusion that it’s okay to be more of a utilitarian knitter. I’m happy with these items. They work for me and the life I lead here in New England. I’m just never going to be a wearer of delicate lace shawls or high-style cardigans. By the way, the hats above are from a free pattern I downloaded at WEBS called Heart Pops. I’ve been knitting these up in stray balls of yarn I’ve found around the house. I’m not a pink girl, but I’m really loving the pink and white version — so cute!

So all this thinking about fashion is why I chose to knit the Kelly Cardigan from Erica Knight in an effort to look a little bit more, in the words of Project Runway, “fashion forward.” It’s a simple cardigan design, but knitted in mohair/silk yarn, it’s luxurious … and warm! The yarn is Aloft from KnitPicks in the color “carbon.” I would have liked to knit this in Rowan Kidsilk Haze, but I’m sticking to my Yarn Diet in 2015 like white on rice. I’m happy with Aloft … the only part that’s fiddly with laceweight silk/mohair yarn held double is knitting the first row on the cast-on stitches. After that, it’s smooth sailing, unless one has to tink back or rip out stitches. Luckily that hasn’t been an issue for me as this pattern is simple and smooth sailing. You don’t even have to knit buttonholes (snaps are used), although I am going to sew on some jet and crystal ones for some additional pizzazz. I think I could get addicted to knitting with mohair/silk yarn — it’s like knitting a cloud!

The air here has been so dry. A couple weeks ago I was at my doctor getting an asthma check and she told me our interior humidity should be around 40%. We have a large humidifier upstairs, but nothing downstairs, where I spend most of my day. My husband bought a hygrometer, and yikes! Our humidity level was around 20%. So I borrowed a trick from my mother-in-law … when we used to ski out west where the air is even drier than it is here back east, she would fill pots with water and boil them on the stove to add moisture to the air. I go one step further and add cinnamon sticks, cloves, and leftover Meyer lemons. Mmm, our house smells so good! We all notice a big difference with the additional moisture. My skin isn’t as dry and flaky, and none of us have had any nosebleeds this winter. (I also leave bowls of water around the house near our heating vents … not sure if this helps but the water does seem to evaporate fairly quickly.)

Lastly, some photos of the snow in our side and backyards. We’re supposed to get 3 to 6 inches more this Friday. My son has not had a full week of school since the holidays. He may be making up time until July at the rate we’re going with this weather! The snow has not kept the cardinals away this winter … I’m seeing more of them at the feeders. They’re so pretty, but boy! they’re bossy! It’s hard to believe that in a little over a month it’ll be time to plant my peas. Will the snow be melted enough to do so?

The waffle iron

Last night before bed, O asked me if I’d get up early and make waffles before school. Waffles are a weekend ritual around here; I have made them so many times that I don’t need a recipe and can pretty much eyeball the ingredients without measuring tools. O was giving me his Big Blue Eyes look when he asked, so of course I said I’d jump out of my warm bed a little early so he could be sent off to school with Mom’s good cooking in his tummy.

I go to bed before anyone else around here. As I was saying my goodnights last night, I noticed the smell of meat coming from our kitchen. Not surprising since my husband likes to eat late. What was a surprising was that he was cooking hamburger in our waffle iron. Or, I should say, he’d attempted to cook hamburger in our waffle iron. I say “our” waffle iron because it was a wedding gift we received from our friends Chris and Melanie seventeen years ago, a gift that we’ve often remarked has been the most-used wedding gift in our household.

I bit my tongue as I watched my husband (sheepish expression on his face) chisel bits of burger out of the iron. Then I said goodnight, too tired to observe his cooking escapades any longer.

So…I get up this morning, eager to make my son happy, and bounce into the kitchen. The waffle iron is still out and looks surprisingly clean. I plug the appliance in to heat up while I gather ingredients, and that’s when I smell … meat. Then I hear sizzling coming from the iron, which I can only assume is sizzling meat.

Undaunted, I smooth waffle batter over the heated iron and tell myself I’ll do what Julia Child used to do with her first crêpe of her batch … toss it out. I’m confident this first waffle will absorb any beefy flavor leftover on the iron, and the remaining waffles will be fine.

Except, as you can see, they weren’t.

The timer went off and as I lifted the top of the iron up, the waffle pulled in half. Normally the waffles just slip out of the iron as easily as silk slips across skin. But not this morning. I reached for silicone tongs, hoping that a little force would help the remnants un-adhere. No dice.

My son walks out into the kitchen, takes one look at the mess, and says, “Oh, Dad was trying to get the hamburger out with steel wool last night.”

As my friend Gwen said after seeing the picture above and hearing how my husband attempted to clean the iron, “Well, who doesn’t like waffles with old hamburger, bits of steel wool, and Teflon dust in them? Maple syrup is for the weak.”

I’ve left the waffle iron on the counter, waffle still adhered, with a note that says, “Please order a new waffle maker AND a George Foreman Grill.”

I’m beginning to think there’s something to this whole “Mercury is in retrograde” business everyone’s talking about.