December 28, 2015

A Simple Beanie for Dad

After 11 years of knitting, it's about time that I knit something for my dad. It's amazing it took this long, but between his affinity for neutral (i.e. boring) colors, larger sizes and therefore longer time needed to finish a project, and his tendency to not get cold in the bay area's very mild climate, I have not deemed it worthwhile to expend the effort required to make him a sweater or scarf he would never wear. However, this fall he did express an interest in a beanie, so I jumped at the chance to knit him a Christmas gift I knew he'd appreciate.

Instead of running to Jo-Ann or Michaels for yarn like I usually do, I opted for the high quality yarn the first time. My source of choice is DROPS yarn sold by Nordic Mart. Thanks to a multiple-email discussion with my mother and sister on yarn choices, I decided on DROPS Lima, a wool-alpaca blend, in the colorway Petrol, No. 0701. Since this project was so small and simple, I was thrilled that my entire order, including shipping and tax, was less than $10!

Even though the yarn called for US 6, I instead opted for US 5 to make the knitting a little tighter to make the cap even warmer. I made up the pattern to copy another Patagonia hat he really likes but has a tassel that he can't stand, so I had to rip it out and restart a couple times to make it right. The great feature of this hat is that I knitted twice the length of the brim and doubled it under for extra warmth and for it to stay on his head better! And all my efforts at the last minute totally worked out, for he likes it a lot! 

Soooo, if you're looking for a solid beanie pattern for your local dad or father figure in need of a new hat, I've featured this free Simple Beanie for Dad pattern below! 

This pattern is a available as a free PDF here. You can also find the pattern for free on Ravelry here.

Have a great holiday season and happy winter! Stay warm :)

Simple Beanie for Dad

Difficulty: beginner
Yarn: 1.5 skeins (150 m) DROPS Lima, Color 0701 “Petrol”
Gauge: 20 stitches and 28 rows = 4 in (10 cm)
Finished Size: fits large head of adult, diameter 10 in (25.5 cm), height 8.5 in (21.5 cm).
Needles: US 5 (3.75 mm) circular needles
Other Materials Needed: 9 stitch markers, one of an alternative size or color; yarn needle; ruler

CO 108 sts, leaving a tail about 24 in (60 cm) long.
Connect in the round and leave a stitch marker to mark the beginning and end of the row. Work K2, P2 ribbing for 3 in (7.5 cm).

Work in St st for 4.25 in (11 cm).

Place stitch marker every 12 sts. Work following decreases:
Row 1: *K 2 tog, K 10, sl marker*, repeat from * to * = 99 sts
Row 2 and all even rows: K whole round.
Row 3: *K 2 tog, K 9, sl marker*, repeat from * to * = 90 sts
Row 5: *K 2 tog, K 8, sl marker*, repeat from * to * = 81 sts
Row 7: *K 2 tog, K 7, sl marker*, repeat from * to * = 72 sts
Row 9: *K 2 tog, K 6, sl marker*, repeat from * to * = 63 sts
Row 11: *K 2 tog, K 5, sl marker*, repeat from * to * = 54 sts
Row 13: *K 2 tog, K 4, sl marker*, repeat from * to * = 45 sts
Row 15: *K 2 tog, K 3, sl marker*, repeat from * to * = 36 sts
Row 17: *K 2 tog, K 2, sl marker*, repeat from * to * = 27 sts
Row 19: *K 2 tog, K 1, sl marker*, repeat from * to * = 18 sts                                
Row 21: *K 2 tog, sl marker*, repeat from * to * = 9 sts. Do not K even next round.

Cut yarn, leaving tail at least 5 in (13 cm). Thread yarn needle and pass through remaining live sts to end.

To finish the brim, fold in half to inside of hat. Thread yarn needle through tail left when casting on (or just a new length of yarn) and stitch the first row of ribbing to the first row of St st around the inside of the hat.

Weave in the yarn ends. Block if desired, and enjoy! 

COcast on
St st – stockinette stitch (knit right side of work, purl wrong side of work)
K 2 togknit two sts together in the back loops
sl – slip stitch

Happy Crafting!!

November 30, 2015

Gridiron Thermal Headband

Though the crafting hasn't stopped, the month of November has consisted of proportionally more homework than crafting. And the projects that I have worked on are either still unfinished, gifts that can not yet be exposed, or both. Lots of both.

One thing I can share, however, is the project I made for me! I found this great Gridiron Hat pattern on Ravelry and I thought it could translate well to a thermal headband. Since the yarn from my Blustery headband was scraggly and itchy, I decided a new, wider, warmer one was overdue and jumped on it! The pattern was fast and simple so I made it in just one sitting. I used leftover yarn (about a third of a skein of Loops and Threads Charisma in Dark Purple) from my Cables and Lace infinity scarf and Kinsey's beanie projects from early 2014. Gotta love scrap-buster projects!

The headband was perfect and kept my ears nice and toasty during my family trip to Pinnacles National Park last weekend! My sister is wearing the Braided Cable thermal headband I made her last year, the first thermal headband I ever made.

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and November. Bring it on, December! 

Stay warm and keep crafting!

Happy Crafting!!

October 22, 2015

Bordeaux Wine Cozy

You know you've reached adulthood when you're asked to donate something for the local silent auction fundraiser. This year, I sewed two wine bags and knitted one wine cozy for my college sorority's philanthropy "Red Dress Gala" benefit for women's heart health research. After making so many wine accessories for my dad over the years, I knew I could produce quality handmade items for this event.

I started this wine cozy after an ah-hah! moment when I was daydreaming during class- a combination of my Beatity beanie and standard wine cozy patterns. I think the scalloped cable is an easy-yet-elegant detail that makes the cozy pop. Together with the fine knitting in the entire piece that took far more hours than I was anticipating (like always), I hope the draw of these wine bags bring in that much more money to support heart health. 

I'm calling this a "Bordeaux Wine Cozy" not because of the color of the yarn, but because my sorority's colors are silver and bordeaux. And it was for this reason that I chose this Loops and Threads Woolike yarn in the "Mauve" colorway. I wanted to call this pattern "Α wine cΦzy" --I'm sure you could never guess what sorority I'm in from that title-- but I wanted to make the pattern accessible for the entire knitting community, not just the college-aged sorority girl knitters (of which there is more than just me, I promise). 

So in the name of heart health, fine knitting, autumn, birthdays, and whatever other occasion suits your fancy, enjoy this free wine cozy pattern! 

Bordeaux Wine Cozy Pattern

Difficulty: Intermediate
Yarn:  Loops and Threads Woolike in Mauve – about ½ skein (300 m)
Gauge: 28 stitches and 34 rows = 4 inches in stockinette stitch with two strands of yarn
Finished Size: Fits around standard wine bottle, 14 in (35 cm) tall
Needles: US 4 (3.5 mm), at least four double-pointed needles
Other materials needed: Cable needle, stitch marker, yarn needle, ruler

CO 9 sts onto 3 dp needles.
The Base:
Row 1: K round. Place stitch marker at beginning of round.
Row 2: Kfb all sts = 18 sts.
Rows 3 & 4: K round.
Row 5: K 2, kfb across = 24 sts.
Row 6: K round.
Row 7: K 2, kfb across = 32 sts.
Rows 8 & 9: K round.
Row 10: K 1, kfb across = 48 sts.
Rows 11 & 12: K round.
Row 13: K 1, kfb across = 72 sts.
Rows 14 & 15: K round.
Row 16: P round.

Stitch Pattern for the Body:
Rows 1, 2, & 4: P 2, K 9, P 2, K rest of round
Row 3: P 2, sl 3 sts to cn and hold in back, K 1, K 3 sts from cn, K 1, sl 1 st to cn and hold in front, K 3, K 1 st from cn, P 2, K rest of round

Repeat rows 1-4 until piece measures 8.5 in (21 cm).

Next round: P 2, K 9, P 2, K 2 * K 2 tog, K 3, yo, K 2 tog, * repeat * to *, end K 1 = 61 sts.
Next three rounds: K rows 2-4 in stich pattern.

Rows 1, 2, & 4: P 2, K 9, P 2, * k 3, p 3 * repeat * to *.
Row 3: P 2, K 9, P 2, * P 2, sl 3 sts to cn and hold in back, K 1, K 3 sts from cn, K 1, sl 1 st to cn and hold in front, K 3, K 1 st from cn, P 2, * repeat * to *.

Repeat rows 1-4 until piece measures 14 in (35 cm).

Cast off and weave in yarn ends.

Then CO 3 sts and make I-cord until it measures 12-15 in (30-38 cm). Weave through yarn ends.

k – knit
p – purl
yo – yarn over
k 2 tog – knit two sts together in the back loops
kfb  – knit through front and back of stitch (increase)
st(s) – stich(es)
cn – cable needle
sl – slip indicated number of stiches knit-wise
dp – double-pointed
CO – cast on

You can find this pattern on Ravelry here.

You can find a free PDF of this pattern here. 


Happy Crafting!!

September 13, 2015

Teamwork Scrappy Quilt

Over two years ago, I made a baby quilt from blocks made by my grandmother. I used only six of the eighty blocks she made from the scraps of the clothes she made in the 1970's. Ever since I inherited the blocks, I had raked my brain for an idea of how to use them-- by themselves, the blocks aren't stunning. But when put all together, it's a whole different look altogether.

During this past summer, I was working on my own quilt for my dorm room bed but lost momentum after I finished the quilt top; I hadn't gotten good enough at free motion quilting to do the quilt top justice. (Also, white fabric and dorm rooms don't go well together.) I then turned to the remaining 74 blocks and thought the busy scrappy look would work well for a college quilt for all the reasons that white doesn't.

So I began a new project when I was still midway through the other one (sigh). Since I've started following a bunch of quilt bloggers, I've been itching to make a "scrappy vortex" quilt but have been intimidated by the massive amount of work such a project would entail (I still am...) So this is the cheater version, since my grandmother already took care of the meticulous cutting and piecing of the blocks. I used 63 of the remaining 74 blocks to make this twin-sized quilt. It took me about ten days from start-to-finish: 
  • 1 day to arrange the blocks,
  • 2 days to piece the blocks into the top quilt,
  • 1 day to buy and pre-wash the backing and binding fabric,
  • 1/2 day to baste the 'quilt sandwich,'
  • 3 days to quilt the blocks in a 3-inch grid,
  • 2 days to free-motion quilt the border pattern, &
  • 1/2 day to do the binding.
The process was quite fun but concentrated into only a few days. I went to work, ate dinner, and immediately went to work in my "sweat shop" (bedroom) to get the quilt done.

 (left) The backing material, a  blue marble. During the quilting process, I discovered that it looked really cool when the light was shining through.

(right) My sewing setup with my Bernina QPE 170 and walking foot to quilt blocks.

After finishing the quilt top and adding a 3" red solid fabric (from stash!), like always, I think the project is nearly done. But the quilting process for this project has been more involved for me than ever, and thus, I had only reached the optimistic halfway mark.

I quilted the body of the quilt with in a three-inch grid, aligning exactly with the natural squares emerging from the top. And for the border, I used my newly purchased darning foot to free-motion quilt a paisley pattern (pretty much the simplest free-motion pattern in existence, but still not that easy). I'm pretty proud of the border's quilting for a first effort; it adds so much more movement to the quilt!

Some quilt stats for my "Teamwork Scrappy Quilt":

  • 65 nine-patch blocks with 27 fabrics each, in 3 x 1" rectangles (not including seam allowances)
  • Approx. 75 fabrics, mostly cotton solids, ginghams, and prints, also some synthetic and flannel fabrics
  • Twin sized, measures 67" x 84" 

All attempts of procrastination aside, I managed to finish it early enough for my dad to take it "on tour" to Los Angeles to show my grandfather and other family. I thought it would be fun for them to see some of the fabrics they grew up with a generation ago turned into a quilt by a millennial. (For example, a common scrap in this quilt is an orange, white, blue, and turquoise striped fabric that my dad says was his childhood bed duster--see three scraps of this fabric above.)

And now, the quilt is on my bed--in the house just past this bridge on campus--to keep me warm, thanks to a multi-generational passion for quilting warm memories together. For this, I am proud to present my "Teamwork Scrappy Quilt."

Have a happy school year! On that note, I need to attack that mountain of homework...

Happy Crafting!!

August 24, 2015

Stitched Paradise (Tropical Wall Hanging)

I cannot claim to be a traditional artist. I do not paint, draw, song-write, dance, etc. But what I do is research, pick a melody I like, and produce a harmony that may not be fully original but is still a unique conglomeration of the many parts available, creating something unique and settling--art.

Though this concept rings true for most of my crafty and artistic endeavors, this is explains exactly my relationship with embroidery. To be frank, I print out coloring book drawings, car decals, and whatever outlines Google Images can give me for my embroidery patterns. But the embroidery choices I make--the stitches, the colors, the textures--that is the part that is my own, that is the part that is art. And this is what I am so excited to show you, one of my most advanced projects to date.

I could gush on and on about this piece of Stitched Paradise, my new Tropical Wall Hanging. But first, the context...

The motivation for starting this project was none other than that I felt my freshman dorm room lacked sufficient wall decor. As the crafting person I am, I value the handmade variety of wall hangings most, so off I go to make one good enough for the likes of my sophomore year dorm room

Although my attempt to produce a wall hanging my freshman year fell through, sophomore year is a whole new cannoli. What better time to indulge (read: talk more about it)?

Embroidery generally isn't a medium that I excel at. Make no mistake--I am most excellent at coloring between the lines with thread, which is exactly what embroidery is. However, it takes a while and is much less exciting than knitting for me. Yet in summer, when knitting is wholly impractical in my mind, embroidery is perfect when traveling for a month straight. It's portable, it's compact, and it's highly conducive to TV sports-related multitasking (Women's World Cup and embroidery? Oh yeah!) And that's exactly how 90% of this embroidery was completed, for when I got home, the remaining 10% took as many days to get around to as the 90% of it done in Canada and Hawaii.  

Beach Sunset completed in Montreal and Quebec City
Moorish Idol Fish completed in Honolulu and Palo Alto
Honu completed in Quebec City, Vancouver, and several airplane rides
The Hawaii-esque embroidery is an homage to my "second home" that is closing up shop. I'll return once more later this year and then that may be the final goodbye :( I have so many fond memories of watching sunsets on the beach, sneaking peaks of moorish idol fish while snorkeling, and observing the Outrigger Canoe Club honu live their lives. 

I compiled the embroidered pieces together with a turquoise marble stash fabric and a solid unifying yellow as the binding (also stash). Another new part of this project for me is the quilt sleeve that I added. The sewing part always seems to take longer than I expect, but I'm very happy with the result! Stay tuned for the image of it hanging in my dorm room--I'm going back to school in less than a week!

Happy Crafting!!

July 23, 2015

Honu Napkins

I'd like to introduce you to a new beloved friend that has moved to my craft studio, err bedroom. Meet Doonie, Grandma's serger that I inherited last year and now finally know how to use! 

I finally learned how to use this beauty during a three-day serger class at Eddie's Quilting Bee with sewing expert Sue Green-Baker. Sue's the real deal. I even found one of Grandma's old books on serging that featured Sue as a main consulted expert! Although much of the motivation of offering the class was to get customers to upgrade from their $2500 Evolution (what I have) to the $4500 Ovation, I made it quite clear that I was there only to learn how to use my special toy, not to break the bank. And since I was the only person at the class under the age of 40 and not financially established, I felt liberated to refuse all of the salesman's schemings. I exited the class with my tab at only $2.50, so I consider that a success for my minimally-consumerist strivings.  

The class was fantastic, by the way.

So now that I know how to do everything from jeans hems to cording to gathers, what do I race home to make? Rolled-hem napkins, of course, the simplest serger project in existence.

Between the serger class and these napkins, however, was a month-long adventure out of town featuring FIFA Women's World Cup soccer games in Montreal and Vancouver, whale watching in Tadoussac, hippie living in the Sunshine Coast, and an emergency trip to Hawaii for my grandmother's funeral, packing up her apartment, and saying good-bye to Hawaii. 

All unfortunate happenings aside, you can be sure that I brought a craft project with me on this trip, and this time it was embroidery (to be shared upon its completion!) I made more progress than I was anticipating, however, and I needed just a wee bit of white muslin to continue my project and make good use of my idle time. So off I go to one of my favorite places in the sewing world, the Hawaiian fabric store, home of the world's largest batik fabric collections. Even though I have terrific self-restraint with the greatest of temptations--I am focused on the fact that I am trying to shrink the great collection Grandma's fabric waiting for me at home, not add to it--my mother is all too tempted to tap into her friendly free source of napkin-making labor: me. After four one-yard cuts of different honu (sea turtle) fabrics from Kaimuki Dry Goods and a few hours with my friend Doonie the serger, voilà, sixteen new dinner napkins for the family. Needless to say, we all love them!

Only 12 napkins pictured. The other four were already dirty!
This summer has been very productive in the craft realm. Much more soon!

Happy Crafting!!

June 11, 2015

Perched Owl Pillow

There's a saying in the crafting world of 'Christmas in July,' meaning we have to start shopping and planning our gifts six months early if we're actually going them done on time. Well, I should have done that with this gift for my sister, because I started it on December 22 and didn't finish it until May 30, more than five months overdue.

Sure, I knew ahead of time that this project would be ambitious and that it wouldn't be finished on time, considering that I was starting out with only parts of three days to work on it. With semester finals encroaching on prime holiday preparation time, I was ready to give out IOUs in order to maintain my standard of homemade gifts. But five months?! I guess this should be the feedback I need to tell me I should lay off on the embroidery projects for awhile. (But I just started a new one...)

This owl pillow was a gift for my sister. Owls are a very trendy animal right now in teen fashion, and are consequently Ruth's favorite animal. With an owl clock, owl purse, owl necklaces, and owls adorning goodness-knows-what-else, I figured another owl decoration in her room couldn't hurt.

I traced the embroidery pattern from a children's coloring book picture, found on Pinterest here. The embroidery took me about three months, off and on, about 25 hours in all. I brought the project to school with me, and it was an excellent project to work on during those long evening meetings--I actually felt like I was getting something done! Once I got home, I bought the 12" form pillow, selected the fabric (with Ruth's approval, of course), and whipped out the pillow in a short, quick hour. And when it greeted her atop her papasan chair, her immediate squeal signified the work was well worthwhile. :)

So, Merry Christmas, Ruth, even if it is 80F and sunny today! And happy graduation, while we're at it--high school, here you come!

Happy summer to you all! I'll be back after I return from a bout in the sunshine.

Happy Crafting!!

May 7, 2015

Twin Halifax Beanies

Knitting hats can be a thirty-five minute task, three hour project, or a an endeavor large enough that you don't even want to think about how long it took. And when they fall into the third category, it's always better when you make two of them. Duh.

Let me go back. I saw this DROPS pattern on Ravelry some time ago and added it to my to-do list, after Aidez, Hela, and the Greenfield Cardigan, too. The Halifax hat was beautiful, sure to enhance my fair isle color knitting skills, and encompassed the potential to be a hat that I would actually wear. (Gotta love navy on auburn hair.) So after loving the yarn that went into my Wine Cozy, I took a large gulp and decided to cast on this bad boy. And sure enough, it was done about a month, six hours of yarn untangles, and three states later--yarn purchased and untangled in California, the bulk of the knitting done in Washington, the finishing touches done in Oregon.

Let's get down to the knitty-gritty. The yarn is Loops and Threads Woolike in Navy and Charcoal, and I doubled both of them up to get the yarn to the proper thickness. The knitting is with circular needles size US 2 and  US 4. I used less than half of one ball of both colors per hat. I made both hats in size medium. I also got to the point with the fair isle in that I could have the blue in my right hand and gray in my left and knit accordingly, without having to switch yarns every few stitches. This is a major time-saver. :)

After I finished the first one, I learned Varinia will be going off on her mission for the next year and a half, which warrants a bon voyage/I'll-miss-you-so-much gift. So I cast on the hat one more time, only days after finishing the first one. In order to get it done in time and in conjunction with a very busy semester, I assigned myself the task of completing three rows a day, which worked out better than I would have expected--I finished it with almost a month to spare! (If only I could get these kinds of results with all my other assignments...) 

I gave Varinia her hat just last weekend on a marvelous group camping trip. A perfect opportunity to be #twinning when it's genuinely cold outside--not super common in your average Walla Walla May.

Photo credit to Mary Tabb.
As the semester is already winding down, I'm excited for new adventures this summer and next year.  Also, best of luck to Varinia on her mission--there is no doubt your contributions will be monumental.

Three cheers to all of you finishing up your final papers, projects, and study sessions for finals. We're almost there! And then it's just work, travel, craft, repeat. 

Happy Crafting!!

April 2, 2015

Beatity Beanie

When you knit and have a younger sister, you will inevitably receive some requests for knitwear. Over the years, I have knitted her several hats, scarves, a thermal headband, cell phone case, and goodness knows what else, and she still asks for more! It may have something to do with my promises to her, the need to give make her something for every birthday and holiday season, or my sheer generosity. Whatever it is, she's getting the better end of the deal. But really, I'm not complaining; I like making her stuff :)

Several months ago, she issued a request for a red hat that had some slouch to it, which is a hat characteristic that I've never tried. I had creative freedom as towards its design, and thus I came up with this Beatity Beanie thanks to my ever-useful stitch dictionary. I also got to try out my brand new circular knitting needles set, which just increases the fun. The knitting went very quickly; if I remember correctly, the hat was done in under a week!

Since starting college, I've learned how special care packages are, especially when they come without warning. My sister sent me some snickerdoodles last semester and I decided to return the favor. She texted me immediately after she received it with thanks and a positive review--phew. Mom's call three days later that she hadn't taken the darn thing off since she got was the real confirmation of approval. I hope the pictures show the same joy!

This hat is the perfect blend of fashionable yet subtle, and snuggly warm the whole time. It's a quick knit with no major holdups--the cable segment just keeps things interesting! Definitely a fun addition to a spring, winter, and fall wardrobe.

Beatity Beanie Pattern
Adapted from Big Book of Knitting "Claw Cable"

Difficulty: Intermediate
Yarn: Approx. 170 yds Paton's Classic Wool Worsted, color 230 "Bright Red"
Gauge: 18 stitches and 26 rows = 4 in (10 cm) in stockinette stich)
Finished Size: 11 in (28 cm) long, fits adult head with extra room for slouch
Needles: US 6 (4 mm) & US 7 (4.5 mm), circular or double-pointed needles
Other Materials Needed: cable needle, 1 stitch marker, yarn needle, ruler

With US 6, cast on 90 sts. Place stitch marker to indicate beginning/end of row.

Work *K3, P3* repeat * to * until piece measures 3 in (7.5 cm).

Switch to US 7 and work following stitch pattern:

Rows 1, 2, & 4: P2, K9, P2, K77 (rest of row)
Row 3: P2, sl 3 sts to cn and hold in back, K1, K 3 sts from cn, K1, sl 1 st to cn and hold in front, K3, K 1 st from cn, P2, K77

Repeat stitch pattern until piece measures 9 in (23 cm). 

Then work decreases:

Row 1: follow cable pattern, *K9, K 2 tog* repeat * to * = 83 sts.
Row 2: follow cable pattern, *K8, K 2 tog* repeat * to * = 76 sts.
Row 3: follow cable pattern, *K7, K 2 tog* repeat * to * = 69 sts.
Row 4: follow cable pattern, *K6, K 2 tog* repeat * to * = 62 sts.
Row 5: follow cable pattern, *K5, K 2 tog* repeat * to * = 55 sts.
Row 6: follow cable pattern, *K4, K 2 tog* repeat * to * = 48 sts.
Row 7: follow cable pattern, *K3, K 2 tog* repeat * to * = 41 sts.
Row 8: follow cable pattern, *K2, K 2 tog* repeat * to * = 34 sts.
Row 9: follow cable pattern, *K1, K 2 tog* repeat * to * = 27 sts.

Row 10: follow cable pattern, *K 2 tog* repeat * to * = 20 sts.
Row 11: *K 2 tog* repeat * to * = 10 sts.

Cut yarn, leaving a tail at least 8 inches long. Thread a yarn needle and pull through remaining stitches. Then weave yarn ends and enjoy!

You can find this pattern on Ravelry here.

You can view this on a free PDF here.

Happy Spring! Spend some time adventuring outside--it's beautiful out here!

Happy Crafting!!

March 5, 2015

Hela Sweater

After knitting my first sweater in only eight days and having very sore hands as a consequence, I told myself I would never try to beat my time record. But just how I swore I would never beat my record of 8 hats in one day and then promptly beat it two years later on a very long transcontinental plane flight (the record is now 14 hats), oops, I broke my sweater record over winter break this year. 

This is the right sweater to hold the new record, though. The bulky yarn and size 10 needles get the job done lickety-split. 

Just like the Greenfield Cardigan, it was a random knitter's image on Pinterest that made the pattern appeal to me. The pattern is from an Icelandic yarn company called Lopi. Icelandic wool yarns are legendary, not to mention the gorgeous indigenous fair-isle colorwork as well. And as an extra bonus, the pattern is free!

I waited several months to make the sweater once I found the pattern. I assumed that I would be using quality yarn to make this, but when I was at Michaels right before Christmas to buy yarn for the wine cozy, there were over a dozen colors of Lion Brand's Lion Pride Woolspun on sale that I simply could not resist. I justified the mediocre quality by confirming that there is some wool in the acrylic blend--the wool would allow the sweater to block, and the acrylic guarantees that it won't be excessively itchy to my wool-sensitive skin.

I kept basic color theory principles in mind to make sure the different colors together would not be "muddy." It is important for the colors to be distinct both in hue (color) and value (darkness). Clearly, the colors I chose differ in hue, but to verify contrast in value, I took a picture of the yarns together in black and white. It is clear that the grey has a lower value than the mahogany, which has a lower value than the navy. After this verification, I knew the colorwork would stand out.

Now that I had all my supplies together, all I needed was a nice long road trip where I could nest in the backseat and knit away. Luckily enough, the annual New Years LA road trip to catch up with family catered to my every desire and that, my friends, is how I knit this sweater up in four days flat.

The only other challenge was the zipper--and my, that was a challenge. The process for inserting the zipper is to literally cut through the knitted fabric and then sew the zipper in. Although I heavily reinforced the sides of where I cut with my sewing machine, there was still a very real risk for the entire thing to unravel and progress was slow. Another challenge is that knitted fabric is inherently stretchy and therefore difficult to line both sides up exactly. I ended up offsetting the yoke pattern by about a centimeter, but imperfections are just a part of the process. The zipper also puckers a bit, which is probably a consequence of not lining up the two sides perfectly together. 

Zipper challenges aside, the sweater was a fast knit and an appreciated addition to my winter wardrobe. I could easily see myself making this again for someone else.

For more details on this project, check out my Ravelry project page.

Happy Crafting!!