American Wool Series

Friday, October 9, 2015

Fall Faves: G&T

I love gin. During the summer months I usually stick to hard cider and wheat beers but when the weather starts to grow chill I crave something a little stronger. My preferred combination is Bombay Sapphire Gin with lots of ice and extra lime to go with a bit of tonic. There's something about being bundled up and cozy while drinking a refreshing gin & tonic that does wonders for my outlook on life. Do you have a favorite cold weather cocktail?

Friday, October 2, 2015

Fall Favorites: Color

Welcome to October! This is absolutely my favorite time of year and every year I use the month of October to think about the things I love and am grateful for. It's my birthday month so I find that it's a good time to reflect on the past year and what I've accomplished. It's sometimes difficult to give yourself a nice pat on the back and recognize that you've done a pretty darn good job at whatever it is you do - whether it's work or family or knitting or all of the above. The past few months have felt particularly difficult to me so I'm starting off with a kicker! This video is one I shared last year and it's a goody. I can, and have, watched it over and over and over. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

WIP: Vanilla Commuter Socks

Well, that was an unexpected break. I looked down for a few minutes and it turned into a month; where does the time go? Honestly, there has been a ton of knitting happening but I can't share some of it year-ish. That's not at all fun for you all so I do have a project I can share with you - more stripey socks! 

I cast on my usual 64-stitch vanilla socks on a US #1 (2.25 mm) hiya hiya needle and knit about an inch of 2x2 ribbing. I'm using waste yarn to mark my afterthought heel placement and I'm using my Zombie Hello Kitty socks as my guide since I'm using the same yarn. 

The yarn is Canon Hand Dyes Charles Self-Striping Sock in "I am all astonishment", a  Pride & Prejudice colorway that Jessica picked up for me at Madrona this spring. I love this yarn base and Amy's colors are totally great. Early in the summer I decided to knit up the self-striping yarns from my stash by the end of the year and this is the second of those pairs. I'm fairly certain I have three (maybe four) more skeins of self-striping yarn so I'm not sure I'll get them all done by the end of the year but I'm going to try!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Start to Finish: Channel Cardigan

The Channel Cardigan begins with casting on stitches for the entire body of the sweater; for my size that is over two hundred stitches to cast on. Rather than trying to estimate the amount of yarn needed to long-tail cast on that many stitches I used both ends of my wound yarn to cast on. 

However, if you've wound your yarn into balls, or can't find both ends, you can generally estimate one inch of yarn per cast on stitch for worsted weight yarn. To test how much tail you need, you can cast on a stitch, mark the beginning and end of the yarn you just used, pull out the cast on stitch to see the length of yarn you used and multiply that length by the number of stitches you need to cast on. I like using the two-end method because I don't need to estimate anything and that's worth having an extra tail of yarn to weave in at the end. 

Since I took this project on vacation with me I was able to get quite a bit done. Unfortunately, I was having such a nice time that I didn't realize that I neglected to  change the needle size after the ribbing and had to rip out about 8 inches of knitting. After throwing a little tantrum I ripped out the necessary length and got the sweater back on the correct needle size. 

There is a lot of texture knit into this cardigan and it's slow going at first but once the stitch patterns are established it's quite easy to keep track of where you are in the pattern.  

I'm just past the waist decreases and, as I mentioned in my previous post, I'm skipping the belt so I omitted the eyelets used to make the belt loops. The next section of the pattern includes waist increases and front shaping decreases for that large shawl collar. As soon as I reach the part of the pattern where the fronts and back are divided for the raglan sleeves I'm going to stop knitting and figure out the math for converting this to a set-in sleeve cardigan.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


Last Thursday I left on an almost week long vacation to the Oregon Coast for a family reunion. Mr. B's family lives in Seattle so I see them very often but it has been at least three years since my side of the family has gotten together. They all drove up from California and we drove down from Washington and had a rollicking good time on the Oregon Coast. 

We stopped on the Washington side of the Columbia River to stretch our legs at a spot called Dismal Nitch where the Lewis and Clark expedition was stuck for six days during a storm before sighting the Pacific Ocean. I thought it was rather lovely but I had the benefit of a car and a trunk full of snacks. 

We camped the first night and got rained out but pulled through the next morning for a visit to Tillamook before driving the rest of the way down to our beach house.

This is where I spent a good portion of my vacation while the kids built sandcastles and layered themselves in sand and ocean water, or flew kites, depending on the kid. I had a good book in my tote bag and some knitting needles close at hand and was generally in a state of happy relaxation. 

Each night the family gathered on the sand dunes to watch the sun go down over the Pacific before trundling inside for board games and general hilarity. I laughed so hard I cried, made fun of my siblings (and my mom), hung out with my nieces and nephew, and went to bed each night with my hair full of sand. It was glorious.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Start to Finish: Channel Cardigan

Last year I did a series called Start to Finish with my Pomme de Pin Cardigan that went through my decision making and knitting process and I've decided to repeat the process for my next sweater project.  I belong to a wonderful group on Ravelry, My Sister's Knitter, and the current KAL is Brooklyn Tweed patterns. Sounds like fun, right? After a whole lot of back and forth - should I join? should I not? - I decided to knit Channel Cardigan. 

The cardigan calls for Brooklyn Tweed Shelter, a worsted weight yarn that is woolen spun and therefore very light and lofty. I've knit with Shelter in the past and liked it but I didn't want to break the bank since my size calls for 14 skeins, so I went to Ravelry and looked at what other knitters used for their cardigans. Cascade 220 is a top yarn in that list so I decided then and there that I would use Cascade 220; a yarn with a ton of color options, great stitch definition, and is a reasonable price. The downside to using Cascade 220 is that the finished sweater will be heavier since it isn't woolen spun, but I'm okay with that. There are already several modifications that I want to make: removing the belt, making sure the shawl collar is big enough to snuggle into, and possibly adding another button hole. I'm also contemplating changing the raglan seamed sleeves to set in sleeves since raglan cardigans always slide off my shoulders. I knit my swatch at knit night on Monday.

Guess what? Perfect stitch and row gauge on the recommended needles. It's a knitting miracle! I used a US #7 (4.5 mm) needle and knit my swatch in moss stitch as listed in the pattern and it's approximately 5 inches by 6 inches. A good general rule is to knit a swatch big enough that when you measure over four inches you don't run into selvedge stitches; your stitch count will be more accurate since those selvedge stitches sometimes behave a little wonky. This project is now ready to cast on!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

OAL 2015: Finished Outfit

I finished my Outfit-along outfit before the deadline! Hooray! I'm super happy with the results and I've gotten so much wear out of my dress that the pattern is going to be a sewing staple. I sewed New Look 6223 and knit Tambourine by Julia Farwell-Clay.

Let's talk about the dress first, shall we? 

I chose a dark blue eyelet cotton blend and lined it with a light blue daphne - the eyelet is a mid-weight cotton and the daphne is very lightweight so between the two I get a dress with nice weight and drape that feels very summery but won't blow up around my head at every breeze. I did my first ever full bust adjustment following this tutorial and love the result. 

This dress has pockets, soft pleats at the waist, and comes to just above my knee. I can see myself making a ton of dresses from this pattern in various fabrics - I might even try one in wool! 

 On to the knitting! Tambourine is a pattern by Julia Farwell-Clay from the Spring 2015 issue of Pom Pom Magazine. I loved this sweater at first sight and knew that it would be perfect in orange. Earlier this year I frogged a sweater that never fit quite right and while the color was perfect, French Marigold by Miss Babs, the gauge was all wrong.

I took my gauge swatch and plugged the numbers into the schematic numbers to see if I could follow another size to get the fit I wanted with my yarn. I followed the size 43, which is my full bust measurement, with my smaller DK gauge to get a nice fit through the shoulders and added extra increases for my bust. The other thing I had to factor into the row gauge was the stitch pattern along the front of the sweater but this ended up working out with my gauge - six repeats of the pattern fit perfectly into the front of the sweater without having to adjust anything. 

I knit the entire sweater on US #5 (3.75mm) needles. Besides the gauge modification, my biggest change to the pattern was to knit the sleeves from the top down following Barbara Walker's method in Knitting from the Top. You may have noticed that my sweater doesn't have buttons and that's because: 1) I haven't found the perfect match and 2) I almost never button my cardigans. As soon as the weather cools down a bit I'll be sporting my new outfit pieces together, for now I'm settling on wearing my awesome new dress.