Sneak Peek :: Spy vs. Spy, a reversible infinity loop

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Made with 8 ounces, 437 ounces handspun worsted chain-ply. Fully reversible (from stockinette to reverse stockinette). More details coming soon!

 

designed :: Whitefish Point Armwarmers

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I don’t know about y’all, but I’ve realized I’m not going to get it all done.

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I still have lots to do before Christmas, as I’m sure you do, too.
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But if making one more handknit gift is still on your list, here’s a quick one for you.

Whitefish Point Armwarmers

Whitefish Point Armwarmers

Knit in the round with fat yarn on big needles and with no thumbhole, these armwarmers are about as quick a knit as there is. I made mine out of just half a skein of Cascade Magnum (if you order it from Angelika’s today, you’ll likely have it in your hot little hands by Wednesday!) on size 15 needles.

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If you drive ten miles north of Paradise, Michigan, the road will end at Whitefish Point, a narrow peninsula that stretches several miles into Lake Superior toward Canada, in an area known as Shipwreck Coast. A concentration point for migrating birds (and one of the best places in the nation for viewing owls in the spring), Whitefish Point is remote, beautiful, wild – and cold (it is generally ten degrees colder than the rest of the eastern Upper Peninsula, due to its location jutting out into Lake Superior).
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You, however, do not have to be cold. Whether watching birds, studying shipwrecks, climbing lighthouses, or simply sipping cocoa by the fire, you can stay toasty warm in these chunky cabled armwarmers. Named for one of my favorite spots for viewing my favorite Great Lake, these mitts can be pulled up over your hands to keep out the chill or pushed up so that they simply peek out of your sleeves. They make a great first cable project. Whip up a pair tonight for a holiday gift or a treat for yourself; tomorrow night, make a matching pair of boot toppers (pattern coming soon!).
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The pattern is for sale for $3 in my pattern store on Ravelry – or you can click the “buy now” button right here and get your copy immediately.

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Craft Friday

After three days of a house full, including 11 people for Thanksgiving dinner (and for dinner the night before), the house now feels strangely empty and quiet (even though there are still four of us here). As I mentioned earlier this week, I do not participate in the madness of Black Friday. I am fully onboard with PoMoGoLightly’s call for today to be Craft Friday. I have a ton of craft plans for December (natch) and the list has suddenly gotten much longer, with several family members requesting special handknit Christmas gifts. I’m happy that people want handknits and I’m going to do my best, but my first order of business is to finish a pair of sweaters for my kiddos.

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This one is for Tiny Dancer and I’m pleased with how it’s turning out. I’m devoting Craft Friday to this (plus a little spinning), and I hope to finish it soon. What are the chances I can knit one for Little Buddha and still get all my Christmas knitting done?

And how about you? What are your Craft Friday plans?

Butterfly Hat, Mackinac Mitts, and Craft Friday

Here is something I didn’t really appreciate until I became a knitter. Crafters love to see their creations in use. I wish I could rewind about nine years, to when my kids were wee. So many wonderful people gave us handmade baby gifts, and most of those people never got to see the gifts actually in use. In retrospect, I wish that I had snapped pics of the babes on their various knitted, crocheted, and quilted blankets, and sent those along with my thank you notes. I was a frazzled new mom of twins, though, and I was barely managing to keep everyone fed, clean, and dry (including myself!). Also, I just didn’t realize how much it might mean to the makers/givers.

But now I know – there is a particular joy that comes from knowing something you’ve made with your own hands is being both loved and used. So my heart is super warm and fuzzy looking at this picture:

my beautiful niece and great-nephew

my beautiful niece and great-nephew

That is the Butterfly Hat I made for my niece (previously shown to you on my stepson; he’s good-looking, but for some reason the pink butterfly hat didn’t seem to suit him), along with the Mackinac Mitts I designed and knit. My niece rocks pink like no one else I know. (It doesn’t hurt that she’s pretty much super-gorgeous in whatever she wears.) And her sweet five year-old is just killing me with the cute. It actually makes my heart hurt to see this picture because we live so far from each other and see each other so rarely.

By the way, if you’re knitting either the Butterfly Hat or the Mackinac Mitts, Tumped Duck just posted a tutorial last week on how to knit lifted strands with slipped stitches. It’s a great how-to, especially if you are a visual learner.

In other crafting news, have you read about Craft Friday? I am in total solidarity with this and I will NOT be doing any shopping on Black Friday. Here in Ann Arbor, lots of shops (including most of the mall) are opening on Thanksgiving Day, as well. I worked retail in high school and college, and working Black Friday filled me with a special kind of anxiety and dread; I can’t imagine how I would have handled leaving my family, including out-of-town guests we only saw once a year, before Thanksgiving dinner was even done. I guess there is no way now to turn back this tide, but I won’t participate in it. I’ll be having brunch with out-of-town family on Friday morning and then settling in for some craft time later in the day.

I hope you find some craft time, too, in the midst of these busy days!

More Mackinac Mitts (say that 10 times fast)

Thank you so much for the Mackinac Mitt love. It still surprises me how much work goes into preparing and releasing even a relatively simple pattern, and it also always feels a bit vulnerable to actually put it out there – what if people hate this thing? So, thank you so much for your nice words and your support!

I was so grateful to Jessie and Eunice for test knitting this pattern for me, (and they were both super-fast!) and I wanted you to see their gorgeous mitts, too. Jessie made hers out of Cascade 220:
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Aren’t they lovely? I adore how those butterflies pop. She stopped after 2 1/2 repeats of the butterfly pattern, for a shorter fit on smaller hands.

Eunice shows us how the ribbed option looks (for the top of the hand and thumb):
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Hers are made in Malabrigo Worsted (Malabrigo Mackinac Mitts, now that is a mouthful!). They look so cozy!

I loved making mine out of Stonehedge Fiber Mills Shepherd Worsted, but as you can see, any worsted or light worsted yarn will work. You probably have just the right yarn in your stash, begging to be made into butterflies and given as a holiday gift.

Remember that blog readers receive a 20% discount on this pattern through this Friday, by using the code MACKMITTS.

The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough. – Tagore

designed :: Mackinac Mitts

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Just in time for holiday gift-making, a pair of fast, fun, and cozy fingerless mitts, decorated with a tiny butterfly motif.

Mackinac Mitts

Mackinac Mitts

These mitts are named for Mackinac (pronounced “Mackinaw”) Island, one of the many treasures of Michigan; Mackinac Island is a National Historic Landmark and a beautiful and popular destination for summer travel. This pattern was inspired by my trip there this summer, and specifically my visit to the Original Mackinac Island Butterfly House. I’ve always loved butterflies and butterfly houses, and my time at the Mackinac Island Butterfly House with my family felt magical. Butterflies there will come and land on your hand; with these mitts you can replicate the experience! Well, not really. But isn’t it fun to wear butterflies? Yes, yes it is.

The pattern knits up quickly in just half a skein of Stonehedge Fiber Mills Shepherd’s Wool Worsted (a Michigan yarn!). A skein of Shepherd’s Wool comes in a generous 250 yards – plenty for a pair of mitts and a hat.

I made a pair in pink to go with the pink Butterfly Hat I knit for my niece.
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The motif on the mitts is tinier and subtler than the one on the hat, but it makes a great little set.

The mitts are designed with a rolled edge, which is one of my favorite finishes for mitts:
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I just love how a rolled edge, well, rolls:

rolled edge

rolled edge

little butterflies in my hand

little butterflies in my hand

The rolled edge is more obvious in the blue mitts because I didn’t block them before photographing (sometimes I walk on the wild side that way). But the pattern also includes directions for finishing with a ribbed edge, if you prefer.

These mitts knit up unbelievably quickly and will make a great last-minute gift for a teacher, a friend, a niece – or yourself! The pattern comes in three sizes and is available for immediate download at my shop on Ravelry. For blog readers, I’m offering a special discount code through Friday, November 22. Type in MACKMITTS when you check out, and you will receive 20% off the cost of the pattern.

A huge thank you to Jessie and Eunice for test knitting, and to Sashka for tech editing.
Look! Here are the mitts with a variety of the standard props.

mug! leaf! book!

mug! leaf! book!

I hope you like the mitts. They were very fun to make, and even more fun to wear.

designed :: Corktown Slouch

Earlier this year, one of my most-loved handspun hats met with a sad demise. So when Sweet Sheep sent me some of her gorgeous handspun as part of a 13 in 2013 Tour de Fleece giveaway, I knew exactly what I wanted to make with it.

boom, a hat

boom, a hat

Inspired by the hat I was replacing (Felicity), I wanted to create a simple slouch with bulky yarn and an intentionally-loose fit, even at the brim, in order to accommodate maximum hair volume and corkscrew curls. This hat stays on your without squashing down your mane. (If you prefer a tighter fit, go down two needle sizes for the first two inches of the hat.)

a hat for big-haired people

a hat for big-haired people

I made this hat right after returning home from a week spent doing volunteer work in the neighborhoods of Detroit. I’ve lived 45 minutes from the D for more than a decade, but I’ve never spent much time there. The week I spent there this summer introduced me to the city in a new way, and I totally fell in love with it.

Detroit Hustles Harder

Detroit Hustles Harder

I named this design for the oldest neighborhood in Detroit – Corktown, home to Slow’s Bar B Q, urban farms, the historic (and abandoned) Michigan Central Station, and, formerly, Tiger Stadium. Founded by Irish immigrants after the potato famine, Corktown is considered by many to be one of the most up-and-coming neighborhoods in the country, a charming community with a vibrant scene for food, culture, and entertainment.
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The Corktown Slouch is a simple design with a laid-back feel; it would be equally at home in the barbecue kitchen, on the urban farm, or out on the streets of Motor City.
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Though I first designed the hat with handspun, I also whipped up one in some Plucky Knitter Plucky Rustic in a particularly luscious fall gold. It took less than a skein (roughly 125 yards).

in Plucky Rustic, "Princess Phone"

in Plucky Rustic, “Princess Phone”

Though this one is made at the same bulky gauge (3.5sts/inch), it has a looser feel overall (the yarn is aran weight, whereas the handspun I used was a true bulky). I like both fits.

perfect amount of slouch

perfect amount of slouch

I’m keeping the purple one for myself (are you surprised? I mean, it’s purple), but I have other plans for the gold (more on that in another post).

front view

front view

Now that the days have turned cool, I’ve been getting lots of wear out of my new favorite hat. I seriously love how the handspun (made from Funky Carolina BFL in “LaStrange”) striped out.

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(nothing beats a handspun hat, am I right?)

This is such a fast and easy knit, perfect to kickstart your holiday gift-knitting. It truly could not be simpler to knit. There’s almost nothing to it (except for a little shaping) which is why I’m offering it for free.

fall is for handknits

fall is for handknits

Download the pattern on Ravelry, and don’t hesitate to contact me with questions.

designed :: Cut & Paste Socks

Handspun Cut & Paste Kneesocks

Handspun Cut & Paste Kneesocks

Just in time for Socktober, a fun, free, and fully-customizable sock worksheet for you. Make your feet happy!

ready for fall!

ready for fall!

So about three years ago, I spun up this yummy autumnal yarn:
spun :: Hello Yarn August Fiber
Hello Yarn Wensleydale in “Heirloom” (August 2010 Fiber Club)
4 oz., 184 yards light worsted 2-ply

My hope at the time had been kneesocks, but I figured with the little yardage I got, I would need to spin another 4 oz., which I never did.

The thing about handspun yarn is, I always want to use every last precious ounce of it – I don’t want any of it to go to waste – and that can be difficult to manage when knitting socks. If you overestimate your yardage for the first sock, you end up not having enough yarn to finish the second; if you play it safe, you can end up having yarn left over. Which, like I said, I like not to do.

So I had this idea. Why not just knit all the yarn? Just knit it ALL UP till I’m done, and then make it socks? Find some yarn that would make nice contrast heels and toes, and knit a cuff out of it. Then start knitting with the handspun and just keep knitting till done. Then knit another cuff. That should work, right? So that’s what I did.

one loooong tube sock

one loooong tube sock

All 184 yards of handspun are there, along with cuffs made from Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sport (held double) in “Chocolate.”

a very long sock

that’s a long sock, yo

The afterthought heels I made last January (my first) went so successfully, why not try it again? Only this time, I would do afterthought toes, too. So I got out my scissors and went to work.

measure twice, cut once

measure twice, cut once

And I unraveled the tube until I had two tubes.

Tube socks! Only not.

Tube socks! Only not.

I put the live stitches on dpns and knit a pair of toes.

two toes, no heels

two toes, no heels

And then I got out the scissors again and cut a place to add the heels, added them, did a little weaving in of ends, blocked the socks, and then BLAMMO! Handspun socks. And not only that, turned out I had enough for kneesocks after all!
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Yeah, they’re fraternal:

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That’s part of the fun of handspun!

I’ve written all the details, including tutorial pictures, and made it into a free downloadable pdf on Ravelry, just in time for Socktober. It’s more of a worksheet than a pattern – fully customizable, you just take your own measurements, fill in your numbers, and get to it! I’ve also made a video tutorial to walk you through the process. It really is as easy as it sounds, but sometimes it helps to see these things in action.

happy feet!

I swear these socks took less time to make than an ordinary pair, though perhaps it only seems that way because they were so darn fun and easy.

Socks for fall

Happy Socktober, y’all!

Find the free worksheet here. As always, I’m happy to answer any questions.