Whitecap Socks

These socks should have been completed ages ago, but many factors blocked them from coming to fruition. The first being I could not find a yarn that I liked. As you can see the Whitecap pattern has a raised texture pattern that goes around the leg and over the top of the foot. All the yarns I was choosing were too fuzzy or lacked stitch definition. I wanted the texture to pop and I wasn’t getting that. Despite how much I wanted the other yarns to work I ended up frogging them and putting the pattern away for another day. Finally, I found Cascade Heritage Sock yarn on China’s Amazon equivalent and knew I could rely on it to achieve the definition I desired.

This was the first Kniterations pattern I have ever knit. The pattern was well formatted and included written instructions as well as charts. However, once you went through about two rounds of the pattern it was super easy to memorize. The only modification I made was to the heel flap. I changed the stitch pattern as I like the appearance of this texture more. I believe I now own a hand-knit pair of socks in every color of the rainbow. Too bad I live in a hot climate and can only wear them 2 months out of the year. Socks with sandals anyone? 😁

Until Next Time,

-Whit-

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Huatau Cardigan

It has been a long while since I have posted, but I am back and ready to continue sharing my knits and adventures.

For the last few months, I have been working on trying to build up my knitwear basics. Guangzhou, China is incredibly hot (think 30 degrees C/ 90 degrees+ F) for 9 months out of the year. I mostly wear tank dresses, but often need a light layer when I am sitting in the office. My preference is a short sleeve cardigan that is easy to throw on or off. I also like a solid color so I can wear it with a variety of outfits.

Enter the Huatau Cardigan. My initial thoughts were that I loved the basic construction of the piece and the added detail along the spine of the cardigan. It looked like the perfect piece to wear with casual wear as well as something to go with professional wear.

The Huatau pattern recommends using wool, but that would be waaaaaaay too hot. So I decided to take a chance and use a new to me cotton blend called Drops Belle in Valkoinen (or white). This yarn is cotton mixed with rayon and linen. Drops Belle was not my favorite. It had good stitch definition; however, when working with the yarn it shed a lot. While knitting, if I was wearing any dark colored clothing I would have to lint roll myself if I planned on going out afterward. I am hoping that since I have blocked the sweater there won’t be anymore shedding going on.

I am 90% happy with my final garment. Things I love about it:

  1. The yarn is light to wear and I since I choose white I can wear it with basically anything in my wardrobe.
  2. The pattern was well-written and easy to follow.
  3. The cardigan fits me well lengthwise.

Not my favorite:

  1. The cardigan is too loose in the shoulder and neckline area. Therefore, the back of the neck begins to pucker as I wear it because the shoulder area slides around a bit.

I am going to attribute this issue to the fact that I used a cotton blend of yarn, which is prone to not hold its shape as well as wool. If I were to make this cardigan in cotton again I would make the small size to get a closer fit in the shoulder area.

I continue to be a fan of Francoise Danoy over at Arohaknits. Her patterns are well-written, keep any level of knitter interested, and I just really enjoy how she incorporates texture into her patterns.

What are some of your favorite knitwear basics to knit?

Until Next Time,

Yarn Shopping in Melbourne

Last week, I headed to Melbourne for a professional development course. I have to say I waited too long to purchase my flight tickets so I ended up taking some really crummy timed flights. I took a red eye to Melbourne (with a stop over in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) and got to the city around 10 AM. I was exhausted, but I trooped on and saw the sights. Melbourne is a really cool city. It is well known for its street art alleys as well as its friendly people. Personally, it reminded me a lot of San Francisco… and so I loved it.

I also “needed” to get some yarn shopping in.  My goal was to make it to the yarn shop Yarn +Co before closing time (Sunday hours are 12-4). I entered the Fitzroy neighborhood  and was instantly charmed. Smith Street is just so cute. There are fun little boutiques (e.g., A Harry Potter merchandise shop!) and restaurants to explore. Yarn +Co is a really nice yarn shop. They stock mostly moderate to high priced brands- Cascade, Brooklyn Tweed, Quince and Co- but did have a few brands I had not seen before. The store had a range in yarn weights and everything was out to touch! The needle selection was okay, and the store stocked tons of patterns and books to choose from. The sales associate (who I suspect was the owner) was very friendly and knew when to help me locate things and when to just let me enjoy all the yarn goodies in peace.

I ended up purchasing 2 skeins of sock yarn, 4 balls of cotton yarn, and a set of US size 2 double pointed needles. I got the Rainbow sock yarn wound up right away as I wanted to start a pair of socks. My total came out to be about $100 (Australian Dollars).IMG_3434

Overall, my yarn shopping experience was awesome! If I lived in Melbourne this would certainly be a place I would shop at. The combination of staff, space, and yarn was a win win for me!

Until Next Time,

-Whit-

Side Note: Check out this awesome yarn creation! The school my course was being held at had a giant crochet/knitting display of the Very Hungry Caterpillar. How cute it this!?!

IMG_3437

Vita de Vie Sweater

Vita de Vie is the latest sweater I have finished from Pom Pom Magazine (Issue 24). This sweater was very interesting to make. You begin at the cuff of one sleeve and then move toward the midline. I will say that this type of construction is not for you out there who hate seaming and the kitchener’s stitch. There is A LOT of it.

Vita de Vie is a well written pattern. I like how there are 6 sizes available and the model’s dimensions are included. Sometimes it is hard for me to picture how the sweater will look on me so it is nice to know approximately how similar (or different) the model’s body is to mine. The pattern is super clear and the lace section is charted and written out. I much prefer written directions when executing a pattern. All of those symbols just add a layer of complexity that I would rather avoid.

I used some yarn I purchased in Beijing. It is a Chinese brand that is a wool combination. The yarn was a little rough when working with it. It also felt like the material was really dense and weighty. However, after a wash my new sweater is feeling oh so soft and quite a bit lighter. The negative of the yarn was that in the wash the yarn shed quite a bit. I had a sizable scattering of yarn fibers left in my sink. I am hoping that this sweater doesn’t shed while wearing it.

Okay so let’s talk about the seaming on this sweater. I highly suggest if you are “allergic” to hand seaming than this is not the sweater for you. After knitting both sides, it took me about a week to seam the sleeves, sides of the body, as well as graft the front and back seams. I am not the best at hand seaming therefore, my grafting down the center seam  is not as invisible as the sample pictures. This is something that I can over look as I put a lot of effort into this sweater’s construction. Besides, who will notice but me?

Considering that it is over 30+ degrees Celcius here in Guangzhou I don’t predict I will not be needing this sweater for a long time.  However, I do have a trip planned to Melbourne in 4 weeks so I am hoping that it is still pretty chilly there so I can debute it.

Until Next Time,

-Whit-

Growing Yarn Stash

Is it me or is a large portion of the knitting community working on something with amazing colorwork? All over Instagram and the blogs I keep seeing a rainbow of color in everyone’s knitwear. It got me thinking it has been a hot minute since I have knit anything that wasn’t a solid color.

What to make? What to make? Well the first thing that popped into my mind was the Blue Snowdrop Sweater by Life is Cozy. The yoke looked challenging enough, but not too tough and I loved that the sweater fits snugly through the torso. So I headed to my LYS to procure some wool goodies.

From Life is Cozy website

One of the LYS I go to in Guangzhou is a little hole in the wall shop inside of a fabrics market (Highsun (Haiyin) Fabrics Market- Donghu stop Exit D). They sell mainly Chinese brands and are pretty affordable. My biggest qualm with going to this store is all of the yarn is in plastic and stacked from floor to ceiling. However, the sales lady is really nice and tries to be as helpful as possible considering she speaks very little English.

So what did I get? Well too much really. My colorwork sweater will be grey (main color) with navy, hunter green, and white. I can’t decide on the fourth color. I am between the fuchsia and the pink. I also found this lovely cotton yarn (green and white yarn) that I think I will use to make another Edie top. I also found bulky yarn! This can be pretty rare in China. I don’t know what I will do with it but I just loved the color so I had to have it.

All and all I am happy with my purchases. I spent 410RMB or $61USD. All of the yarn is predominantly wool. Not bad right? I CANNOT buy yarn for the rest of the year. I am not one to keep a lot in her stash and I have about 4 sweaters worth of yarn in addition to other random yarn that I need to handle. I better get knitting!

Until Next Time,

-Whit-

Yarn Shopping in Katoomba, Australia

Katoomba, Australia is about 2 hours by train from downtown Sydney. As you saw in my last post we visited the Blue Mountains and Katoomba is one of the easiest ways to get access to the mountains. Since our adventures in Sydney have kept us busy I hadn’t been able go to a yarn shop. On a whim, I googled ‘yarn shops in Katoomba’ and to my luck one popped up! The yarn gods were smiling upon me.

The Granny Square is a cute shop about 400m from the Katoomba Train Station. It is situated right across from the Street Art Walk. When I entered the shop I noted that there was a winter sale! Woot woot! My goal was to find either some cotton yarn (for a future top) or some great sock yarn.

The sales associate was friendly and she let you do your shopping independently. Several customers had questions and she was more than happy to help. The store stocked mostly Morris and Co Yarns. This is a company that started in Sydney as a needlework business and then in the 2000s added yarn sales. The Granny Square also stocked quite a bit of Manos de Uruguay as well as Rowan yarn. The sock yarn selection was decent (German wools), but to my surprise the husband turned down picking out yarn for a hand knit pair! 😱 No worries! More yarn for me! The cotton selection was pretty limited, but I did manage to score 4 of these pretties.

They are 100% Pima Cotton and feel oh so soft. Plus they were really affordable ($27AUD for 4 skeins). A tank top or short sleeve top is in the foreseeable future.

The Granny Square was a cute shop. They stocked basic accessories, pattern books, and lots of wool to keep you happy. The sales associate was friendly and accessible. The shop prices were overall affordable, but the selection was a bit limited. If you are ever in Katoomba or the surrounding area I suggest you stop by for a peek in the shop!

Until Next Time,

-Whit-

Blue Mountain Cowl

Recently, I picked up my yarn and needles and let my hands dictate the design that unfolded. This process knit resulted in a gorgeous cowl.

I decided on the name Blue Mountain Cowl as it got some use on the trails of the Blue Mountains outside of Sydney, Australia. Australia is in the middle of winter right now so the temps in the mountain were a bit chilly. We started the day with it being 1°C and I think it got up to 13°C in direct sun with no wind. The cozy Merino/cashmere blend felt like a little piece of heaven.Originally, I had socks in mind, however, the yarn didn’t have enough nylon content for me. I kept ending up with really baggy socks, which were a no go. I have suffered too many years with baggy sock. The curse of tiny feet! 😫

The yarn is String Theory Caper Sock in Stella Blue (merino wool/cashmere/nylon), which I purchased in Burlington, Vermont last summer. I love the subtle color variegation in this yarn. The yarn was also soooooo soft to work with. To be honest, I was a little sad for the project to end.

The Blue Mountain Cowl was worked over 4 DPNs. I wanted a texture panel, so I worked a modified seed stitch over the first needle. The remaining stitches were purely stockinette. I was aiming for one big tube, but then I remembered this cowl from PurlSoho. I loved how the front panel draped lower than the back. What a great idea! Don’t you hate tugging your neckwear down to seal the cold out of the front of your jacket? Inspired, I added about 1.5″ to the front section only.

Well here I am in my Blue Mountain Cowl in the Blue Mountains! It was a pretty spectacular day. The sun was shining and the cool air kept us somewhat temperature controlled during our 8 miles of hiking. It was good to be out in some crisp. I think my body is happiest in cooler weather.

Until Next Time,

-Whit-