cascading scarf

When it comes to men’s scarves, I have an exceedingly simple recipe which gives a beautiful result. The only issue is – it is exceedingly boring to knit. Three-by-three rib for hours and hours (and hours) on end, anyone? The solution – add a small and subtle design element which will barely show in the finished product (to make it man-wearable) but will make the knitting process a bit more interesting.

Enter my idea of a “cascading scarf”. Now, this has probably been done before. It’s not exactly rocket science. But I had honestly not seen it anywhere, and came up with the idea on my own: interrupt the endless ribbing with a series of staggered cables, to give a sort of waterfall effect.

Here’s how it turned out.

I have to say, it looks exactly as I had envisioned it in my head, which is exceedingly pleasing! I couldn’t be happier with it!

The wrong side doesn’t look bad either.

And the best part? When worn, no one can even guess that this is anything other than the simplest of man scarves. Mischief managed!

If you would like to replicate it, my adjusted recipe is on Ravelry.

Millwater

Time to reveal some Xmas knits! Yay! :)

Well, there is not much to say about this one, except that it’s awesome. Millwater was fun, easy, addictive (and consequently – fast). The pattern is lovely and I recommend it very highly! I especially love the bouncy luscious cable…

Even though I finished it in the first half of December, of course I put off the weaving in of the ends all the way to Christmas Eve. So in the end the cowl joined its new owner unblocked. I just stretched it forcefully a few times, to even out the stitches, and I think it worked ok.

The recipient was thrilled! Thrilled I tell you! It was all I had been hoping for. This was a total win! :)

feel free to stop calling me fridica…

…and address me instead as The Little Xmas Knitting Factory.

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This year at least I started earlier. Though I’m not any more organised than I was last year. I am casting things on impulsively and haphazardly – but surprisingly it is working for now. It is making me realize that I have indeed matured as a knitter: two or three years ago, it would have terrified me to cast on for an Xmas gift on the 30th of November as it would have seemed an impossible task to finish on time! Now I am confident that there are a few projects I can finish in that time.

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At the moment I am working feverishly on this. One of my family members last year said that she would like “just a scarf”. “Just a scarf” is fine with me, but a bit boring (especially since I had to stick with gray as I’m really not confident about her colour tastes), and Millwater by Beth Kling seemed like the perfect solution. The knitting is still simple and fast (and highly pleasurable, I might add!), and the result will be more or less “just a scarf”, but with a little twist or two to make it more special.

After just a few days, I’m already more than halfway done. Which is good because I have loads of other Xmas projects waiting to be cast on impulsively!

wham – bam – done

Today, I took an exam and whammed one gigantic rock off my chest. I won’t know the results for a few months, but honestly I don’t care. All I care about right now is that it is DONE. Ever since August, it had been taking up every single moment of my free time, and when I say every single moment, I include in that lunch breaks, evenings and weekends. Every single day. But it’s finally finished, and today, I revel the time regained.

And you can bet I’ll use loads of that time for knitting! So you’ll be seeing more FOs in the near future. For now, here’s the last one in the series of old FOs finally photographed…

The wham bam thank you lamb neckwarmer had been on my list since the earliest days of my knitting career (and how wouldn’t it be, with such an adorable name?). Last year, when I started exploring cowls, it finally got its turn. It is a free and easy pattern which knits up in no time at all. The way you sew it up yields an asymmetrical shape, so depending on how you wear it, it can look like a bandana or a doubled-up cowl (see the pattern photos for a better illustration, mine are more on the artsy side ;).

Unfortunately it did not manage to convert me to cowls (hehe, see my diatribe on that here), but if you’re a Cowl Person, I do recommend it (and it would be a great pattern for beginners as well).

Off to enjoy my first evening off in months now… Ta-ta! ;)

(s)cowl

Cowls and I, we just don’t get along. I know they’re fashionable and cool. Heavens know they’re in all the shops. And I have tried to get on the bandwagon. I have tried on countless ones in shops, and I have knitted a few. But I still don’t get it. As far as I’m concerned, they mess up your hair when you’re putting them on, they never fit close enough to the neck to prevent the cold wind from creeping in there (naturally, as otherwise you couldn’t get them over your head), and if you double them over they create a big weird lump in the back, making you look like the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Case in point: look at the big gap between Maja’s neck and the cowl. And now imagine an icy cold wind resting on her exposed neck instead of the sunshine.

But anyway, I keep trying. And sometimes the patterns just look too damn cool to miss out on. And I always think: this might just be the one to finally reveal to me what all the fuss is about…

My latest attempt was the Serafina Cowl, from the well-established team of Carrie Bostick Hoge and Quince & Co. The pattern attracted me immediately with its interesting and original combination of garter stitch and cables. Nobody can deny that it looks lovely!

The pattern as written seems to be too big for most knitters, though, so following their advice I took out one pattern repeat (CO 140 st instead of 168) and went down a needle size. In retrospect I could have cast on even much less and still would have had plenty of width.

The execution itself was not particularly enjoyable. For some reason knitting this caused me physical discomfort. It wasn’t pain, but it wasn’t happy relaxed knitting either. It was probably the combination of endless rounds of knits/purls and a not-so-elastic yarn (Spud & Chloë Sweater, 55% Wool, 45% Cotton) that caused it.

In conclusion, the final result is beautiful and lush, but in my view still not very practical. So for now, my reaction to cowls still remains – a scowl.

Mago

In Croatian, Mago is a short, pet name for a donkey. Not that I would ever consider a donkey an animal deserving a pet name, just to be clear. In fact, when I was a little kid, the Mago was my personal boogie man. Whenever I would resist eating something, or going to sleep, or disobey my parents in any other way, all they would have to say was “If you don’t do it, Mago is gonna come and get you” and I would instantly be eating twice as much as I had been told to, putting my pyjamas on all by myself, or asking how else I could help them… What had inspired this incredible fear of donkeys, I cannot tell. But having met some recently, I can imagine it had something to do with the sounds they make. If you’ve never heard a donkey’s call up close and personal, well, all I can say is consider yourself lucky.

Having said all that, let’s mark today as the official end of my Mago dread. I am reclaiming the donkey, and you get a cute little scarf recipe along the way.

Before all, I have to say that the idea for the scarf was not my own. I found this cute little donkey scarf on Pinterest and, since it was no longer available for purchase on the original website, I thought that I would try making it myself. Eventually I did so, and made notes along the way. I am now sharing those notes with you, since they are there anyway. I do not intend to claim this as my pattern in any way. I will not sell the scarf nor the instructions on how to make it, nor will I make profit from it in any other way. If you chose to use it, you should probably stick to the same principles.

I hope you like it!

Materials
95 grams of a bulky weight yarn (I used Cascade Yarns Eco+), mostly in MC. You’ll need a tiny bit of yarn in CC for the hoofs, snout and hair.
2 buttons for eyes.

Needles
5.5mm straight or circular (whichever you prefer for knitting back and forth) and same size dpns or circular (whichever you prefere for knitting small circumferences in the round).
Tapestry needle for weaving in ends, sewing in the ears and making the hair.

Finished size
150 cm in length and 11 cm in width

Instructions
Everything is knit in garter stitch (knitting every row).

Legs
CO 6sts in CC. Knit 6 rows in CC. Break CC yarn and knit 22 rows in MC. Break yarn but leave stitches on needle.
Repeat for second leg but at the end do not break yarn.

Body
Make sure both legs are on the same needle and the right sides facing the same way. Using the yarn attached to the second leg (MC), knit the next row as follows: k6 (second leg), CO 20sts, k6 (first leg). Now your two legs and body are connected and you have a total of 32 stitches.
Knit 300 rows in MC. If you want to make the scarf longer or shorter, adjust the number of rows you knit here.

Snout
Still using MC, on the next 4 rows:
k to 2 stitches before end of row, k2tog. (28 sts)
Switch to CC, and on the next 10 rows:
k to 2 stitches before end of row, k2tog. (18 sts)
BO all stitches.

Ears
Ears are knit in the round. I used double pointed needles.
Using MC, CO 12sts and join for knitting in the round. Knit 20 rounds.
Next round: kfb first 6sts, k to end. (18 sts)
Knit 8 rounds.
Next two rounds: k2tog to end. After the two rounds you will end up with 5sts. Cut the yarn and thread it through the remaining stitches with a tapestry needle. Pull tight.
Repeat for second ear.

Sew the ears on between the 23rd and 25th garter ridge counting from the bind-off end.

Hair 
Thread a tapestry needle with CC. Make a bunch of 2-3cm loops on the right side of the scarf by pulling the yarn through individual stitches just under the level of the ears. When you’ve finished looping through, cut open the loops at the opposite end. Don’t worry too much about making the length even, it looks better when a bit messy. Secure with running stitch at the bottom end, going over several times. I improvised this bit and it seemed to have worked. :) Using a 100% wool yarn will also help as the yarn will stick to itself a bit, especially after you wash the scarf, thus making unravelling of the hair less likely.

Eyes
Use buttons of your choice. Sew them on the third garter ridge counting from the ears down.

Et voila! Your Mago is finished. Give it a gentle wash and a blocking, and find a happy recipient. If you have any questions, feel free to ask!

finishitis

Yes, there is such a thing too (in addition to startitis)! I, for one, have been experiencing one in the last few days… I guess it came together with the urge to declutter my apartment… So I finally took a needle, thread and some water and added the final finishing touches to a few items that have been languishing at the 95% completeness for several months… It led to some lovely sights, like for example this little guy, currently drying on my couch.

More details on him soon… :)

 

 

 

reflections of a shawl knitter

My Whippoorwill has been finished for a while now (almost two months actually!). I am counting it as my first official shawl, and as such, I can say that it has illuminated me greatly on many things.

The knitting

The knitting itself was quite easy. Let’s face it, as shawl patterns go, this one is pretty much as simple as they get. But what worried me more than potential complexity was the fear of boredom. You often hear shawl knitters complain about those endless rows of several hundred stitches, about how they lose interest on purl rows, and also about how easy it is to lose track of where you are and mess up a pattern. I can happily report that I experienced none of that. I completely breezed through this pattern, at remarkable speed. I did mess up a few times, coming to the end of a row and realizing that my stitch count was a bit off, but I was equally remarkably unconcerned about that. I just picked up an extra stitch here and there, and things worked out on their own. I challenge you to locate the mistakes in my FO!

Ha!

The fabric

I usually consider myself quite a big fan of densely knit fabric. My ideal gauge is that thin line between a fabric that is compact, yet still soft. If pressed to choose among the alternative extremes, though, I would go towards the stiffer, tighter knit fabrics, much sooner than towards loose, open gauge. Whippoorwill taught me, however, that I may have underestimated what loose gauge can do to a knitted item’s softness. Whoa! This baby is so soft that I feel like I have to whisper the word soft when talking about it. (And frankly, while Malabrigo is amazingly soft, I think the gauge gets all the credit here.)

And the lightness, oh my, the lightness! To have something so soft, so light, yet so warm, now this is a completely new experience to me.

The size

I knit the size small (that’s how much yarn I had), and I was convinced the finished object would be the size ‘too small’. Again, underestimating the gauge.

When something is knitted so loosely, it becomes stretchy, and this small little thing wraps around my neck, twists itself into a nice knot and even leaves some ends hanging out of it prettily without any effort.

The rolling

Anyone who’s ever knit a shawl knows that they are ugly ducklings in the process and only turn into beautiful swans after you stretch them out like crazy, pin them out like a voodoo doll and block even the thought of scrunchupedness out of them. So I trusted my shawl while it looked all old-lady-skin on me, and waited patiently for the blocking to do its magic. Needless to say – it did. Wonderfully. However, after wearing the thing on and off for about a month, I can report that the edges are now rolling in again. I have to say I expected greater durability…

Am I going to have to keep blocking this every two or three weeks?

The wearing

Actually, the main part of my skepticism towards shawls comes from the fact that they simply do not fit into my wardrobe. When it comes to neckwear, I’m more of a chunky, elongated kinda gal (as opposed to the light, triangular kind). In this section, I have several things to report. One, this shawl is not too triangular for me. It might even be a good stepping stone towards more properly triangulary things. Two, it’s the perfect thing to have on your neck in these transitional autumn days. Not too warm, not too cold. Three, the shawl cuts into my neck. Now here we have a problem. The upper edge (longest edge if you think of the shape as a triangle) is the least elastic one. That is because of the construction of the shawl, from the centre of that side outwards, so that edge is formed by the stitches you keep casting on in each row.

That is also normally the edge that is in most contact with the neck and I would want it most stretchy. I find this quite discouraging since most shawls I’ve seen have the same method of construction, which means that they’ll all have this unelastic edge? As it is I end up wearing my shawl “upside-down” (with the unelastic edge towards the bottom and the decorative edge towards my face), to prevent it from cutting into my neck.

I hope you guys have some advice for avoiding this!

So there you have it! I am really happy with all the lessons learned from this experience and I think it has expanded my horizons as a knitter. I look forward trying out new shawls, and maybe even discovering constructions that suit me better… Do you have any additional reflections on shawl-knitting? I’d love to hear!

p.s. Have a great weekend everyone! :)

beyond beginnings

The shawl has been going much faster than expected! Here’s how things looked this afternoon. You’re getting a photo with our garden table and chairs to give you an idea of the size.

(And also, yes, the house I’ve moved in to has a lush green private garden, which is absolutely awesome, even if it starts raining every time the minute I decide to go sit in it.)

Actually, the shawl is probably even bigger than the photo has you believe. The problem is that it’s one big blob at the moment.

All the stitches still fit on my needle, but there’s way too many of them to be able to spread the thing out properly. So I guess we’ll only know how big it is when I’m done. Since this was a sort of test, to see if I am even capable of knitting a shawl, I am making the small size of the pattern, but I think it’ll still be big enough to drape lightly around the neck.

As for the colour, I love it, but I’m not sure it fits into my wardrobe at all… So I might have to think of someone to gift this to. Shouldn’t be too hard to find some willing candidates. :)

Pattern: Whippoorwill by Carina Spencer

Yarn: Malabrigo Yarn Sock in colourway Impressionist Sky (806)

beginnings

There’s been a lot of beginnings here at fridica house lately… Beginning life in a new country, beginning a new job, beginning learning a language… I could name a few more. So I think it’s only appropriate that I have a completely new and exciting knitterly beginning to show you as well!

The beginning of a shawl! It’s teeny and frail faced with this big world, a bit intimidating at times but challenging in a good way. To be honest I’m still not sure I’m going to keep going with it, but it’s looking more optimistic by the minute. :)

There’s also been a wholuvalotof crap photos and poorly written posts at fridica house lately. Sorry for that, all the new beginnings, as exciting as they are, can also be a bit exhausting. I’m working on locating my balance. ;)