Totoro Mittens!

I made these Totoro mittens for Mr. A earlier this winter, and am just getting around to posting about them now. I’m not thrilled with these photos of the mits, since I don’t think they do them justice. I recall taking them at night, on my desk, because Mr. A wanted to wear the mits the next day. I should have tried for some better daytime photos, but when the sun rises and sets while you’re still at work, you do the best you can.

Anyhow, this pattern is based on the characters from My Neighbor Totoro, a really charming Japanese Anime film from 1988. It’s one of Mr. A’s favourites, so he got pretty excited about the idea of Totoro mittens. I had made him a scarf a long time ago, but nothing much else, so it was fun to knit for my “significant other”.

The pattern is called Norwegian Totoro Mittens, by brella (ravelry link). It was the first time I’d done colourwork in a few years, so it took me a while to get used to it. Bit of cussing involved, but it wasn’t the pattern’s fault. The only adjustment to the pattern that I made was knitting a liner for the mits, which made them super-warm and took care of the yarn carry-overs on the back of the knitting.

I used some good old Lion Brand Wool-Ease, so we could wash them if necessary. Colourways Oxford Grey (#152, darker shade) and Grey Heather (#151). Even with the liners, I don’t think I used more than one ball of each colour. I really like how they turned out. Mr. A does too, and that’s all that really counts.

Knitting to-do list

I found a cool idea on another knitting blog and decided to try it out here.

It’s a “to-do list” of knitting techniques and items, and I’m going to cross them off as I do them. Pretty straight forward. I added a few items of my own that I’d like to try too.

It will be found in my sidebar menu, over there →

Or, just click here!

Peterborough Yarn shops

On the weekend, as I mentioned in my previous post, I hit up some of the local yarn stores while I was in Peterborough. My first “local yarn shop” in Peterborough has now shut down. Apparently, it shut down over 3 years ago… suspiciously coinciding with my own departure from Peterborough. I hope the chunk of revenue they lost when I left didn’t put them over the edge…. Anyway, I’ll miss Yarn Ewetopia. Luckily some great independent stores have taken its place.

The first one we went to was called Crop Circles, and it was more of a crafting store than a yarn store. I wasn’t too optimistic at first, but they did  have a nice little selection of yarn. The staff were attentive and friendly. I was helped by “The Yarn Whisperer” (Kathi) while I was there. She showed me this neat ribbon yarn that knits up into a wavy fishnet-ish scarf, and I ended up getting two balls of it. It’s called “Ondas” by Katia. I bought it in black, of course.

It knits up pretty strangely, but the end product is a lovely lush scarf, so I will likely stick with this one.

Then we went over to Needles in the Hay. They call it “a lovely little yarn shop” and boy, they aren’t kidding! Such a great little store. It’s in one of the historic downtown buildings, with hardwood floors, old brick walls and high ceilings. Beautiful. I wish I had taken more pictures in the store. The owner, Bridget, politely kept her distance as we “ooohed” and “awwwed” and fondled different hanks of yarn, but she was helpful whenever we needed her. We browsed the books (lots of independent and Canadian designers) and contemplated purchasing some pretty scarf kits. I definitely could have stayed for a while, but Mr. A was out wandering around Peterborough and I had to think of him.

I easily could have spent a few hundred dollars at Needles, but I tried to keep things under control. I ended up buying a skein of Misti Alpaca Hand Paint Sock Yarn in “Northern Lights”. That’s it getting wound into a ball on the swift in the last picture. Bridget was nice enough to give it a whirl before we left. Balls are so much easier than skeins.

I also got a ball of Schoppel Wolle’s Zauberball. I couldn’t resist. The colours are too amazing. I’m probably going to make a little scarf out of this one. Seriously, take a look at these colours…

Amazing! Photos don’t do it justice.
So, check out these great places if you’re in town. It’s little places like these that make Peterborough a fun place to explore and come back to.

Purely utilitarian neckwarmer

Since I haven’t blogged about my knitting projects in weeks, I’ve got a bit of a backlog of projects to tell you about.

I made this thing after Christmas. It’s my own pattern, if you could even call it a pattern. It’s a tube of 2 x 2 ribbing. About 70 stitches, knit in the round on 4mm needles. It worked out pretty well, after some minor adjustments.

The yarn, dug out from my stash, was perfect for this project. I used two balls of Regia Softy (in colourway 430, 39% superwash wool, 61% Polyamide). Regia Softy is intended for socks, so I used two strands held together. It worked out wonderfully. The wool and ribbed pattern make it stretchy enough to go over my head easily, but also tight enough around my neck to keep me warm. I wear this thing whenever I go out, since my current winter coat is a bit loose around the neck. It fits nicely under my coat without being bulky, and it is small enough to shove in my bag if I don’t need it.

Here’s a close up of the fuzzzzzzies. Fuzzy enough to be warm, but not fuzzy enough to look like tacky novelty yarn. Clazzy Fuzzy.

Some Christmas knitting

Hope your holidays are going well so far! My holidays start tomorrow at noon and I can hardly wait.

Here’s some knitting I’ve been doing! These are going to be little party favours for my family this year. I started this Knitpicks.com kit last year and had tons of yarn left over, so I kept going with it this year. I still seem to have tons left. I guess these little ornaments don’t take up much yarn.

Clockwise from the yellow & red ball at the top – we have a little brown & red sweater, then a blue & yellow mitten, some holly, a scarf, a candy cane, a blue & white striped bon-bon, a sock, a purple ball, and a red & white sweater.

And Christmas lights – remember these? I started a string of them last year but never finished them. They are kind of fiddly and it is definitely annoying to weave in all the ends, but the end result is cool, no? I have about 18 more lights to knit on this i-cord string before it is finished. Hopefully I’ll be able to whip them off over the holidays.

Right now I’m just working on one last ornament from the kit. It’s going to be a little box present, once assembled.

Just in case I don’t pop on here over the next few days – Merry Christmas!

Knitted Monkey

Now, if you know me, you’ve probably learned I’m not a huge fan of monkeys. No idea why, they just kinda bug me. However, through this knitting project I’ve earned a new appreciation for the little guys. Still not my favourite animal, but now at least I know I can knit a cute one.

Why knit a monkey? It is a present for my boss’ new child. I know the boss loves monkeys, so it was an easy choice. I looked high and low for a nice pattern, through my toy books and online, and I eventually found this great free pattern by Sarah Keen. Click to enlarge all photos.

Here he is from the side. He’s got a little bit of junk in the trunk so he’ll sit upright. As you can see, he’s been knit in pieces and seamed, which was the only fiddly part of the pattern. He wasn’t too difficult otherwise. Assembling the monkey, especially the face, was a bit tricky, as the instructions weren’t too specific on the placement of pieces. I had to take a look at other peoples’ monkeys to see if I was on the right track. In the end, I think it worked out fairly nicely.

He is made out of Knitpicks Swish DK, in Nutmeg (light brown) and Cinnamon (darker brown). I used about 1.5 balls of Cinnamon for the body, and maybe half a ball of Nutmeg for the hands, feet, ears, and face. I really overshot the yardage necessary and bought enough yarn to make about 3 more monkeys. With Knitpicks’ prices, the yarn was under $10. The stuffing was a few bucks, and I used some leftover sock yarn to sew on a face and make his spiffy little scarf. Not bad! Hopefully he’ll be a hit with the new kiddo.

Poppy wars

There was some controversy earlier this week when a group promoting peace started distributing white poppies in Ottawa. While I can see why some people would be upset about it, it doesn’t bother me very much. The politics of the Ottawa White Poppy Coalition might not be perfect, but the Canadian Legion’s politics aren’t great either. I choose to recognize Remembrance Day by remembering the contributions my friends and family have made. I often don’t wear a poppy (of either colour) simply because they never stay on. I’ll donate some change to a Legion member if I see one with a donation box, but I don’t bother with poppies anymore.

However, this year I knit one. I found a super-easy pattern from cosmicpluto knits! (Laura Chau) and whipped one off last night with some scrap yarn. The black yarn I used for the centre was a bit thick, so the centre part is a bit bulgy. Other than that, I’m pretty happy with it. I’m going to sew a safety pin onto the back of it, and maybe it will stick around longer than the regular poppies.

New Knitty!

Call me LAME, but I get excited when new issues of Knitty.com come out. The Deep Fall 2010 issue is awesome!

Usually I find one or two things that I want to make, but this time there are several…

Beatnik sweater. Pretty cute. I love the length of the sleeves and the boatneck collar. Man, I love boatnecks. Nice cables that won’t make you look 900lbs heavier than you are. Or maybe that just happens to me.

Eleanor cowl. Very pretty. I love cowls more than I love scarves. Scarves can be a pain in the ass because I never seem to find a length I like. This cowl is lacy but still looks warm. Definitely making this.

Cadence pullover. Another nice sweater. I like the simplicity of this one. The pattern draws attention to where I like it… or rather, where it should be – from the top of the boobs & up.

Brambles hat. I love these beret/beanie/slouch things. Also excellent – it comes in a 24″ size for giant-headed people like myself.

I’ll stop there, before I repost the whole issue. I also like the Canarby skirt, the Riff socks, and the Vines cardigan. I love Knitty and their great free patterns.

Stripe Socks

I have finally finished these socks!
You know it’s a bad sign when you can’t even remember starting a project. It’s been over a year. I know I started them while I was living in the other apartment, and we moved in February. I’m not even sure why it took so long. I just kept finding other things to knit, and the socks just became a back-burner project. Mind you, I like having at least one pair of socks on the go, since they’re good for knitting in front of the tv, or in the car, or wherever. I just kept these on the go for a while.

Anyhow.

They turned out pretty nice. I got the size almost perfect, somehow. The stripes don’t match, as I’m not that anal. They were knit on circular needles, using the magic loop method.

Pattern: my own toe-up try-on-as-you-go pattern

Yarn/Needles: Felici “Clay” from Knitpicks.com, 2 balls. On 2mm needles.

Started/Finished: doh? / September 5, 2010.

Citron Shawl

This shawl was a birthday gift to my sister-in-law, Yaz. I started it well before her birthday (in April) but ran into problems with the original yarn I was using, so I ended up abandoning it. I started it again in this yarn, Stroll Kettle Dyed in “Ivy” from Knitpicks.com. It’s 75% Superwash Merino Wool, 25% Nylon, fingering weight yarn. I think it’s pretty much discontinued now, at least that colourway. No idea why. I thought it was OK yarn.

kiki blocker

Here’s Kiki helping the shawl block (and providing scale!) I’m pretty sure she was good enough to wait until it dried before she parked on it, but she clearly couldn’t pass up the opportunity to lie on this nice shawl.

citron shawl

The pattern itself, free from Knitty.com, was pretty simple. You just need to keep track of stuff on the increase rows, but other than that, it’s kind of a mindless knit. Good for tv or movie knitting. It gets kinda tedious near the end when you’ve got a ton of stitches on your needles, but even that wasn’t too bad. I think I added at least two extra sections before the bottom ruffle,  since I had the yarn and figured I might as well use it up. It added about 4″ to the original pattern.

canon 1947

All in all, I ended up quite pleased with it. Yaz says she loves it too. I’ve even started knitting another one for myself right now.