Archives for posts with tag: berroco

It only took me a year and a half, but I have completed an actual pair of socks. Yes, two of them! One for each foot!

I only have a picture of the first one, which I completed back in February 2009, but use your imagination and pretend that there is a second one as well. (Actually, I realized to my horror after finishing Sock #2 that I did not have Sock #1 in that knitting bag as I’d originally thought, so let’s hope I can find it at home and don’t have to take another year to make a Sock #3.)

Pattern: Interlocking Leaves, by Kelly Porpiglia, from Knitty Fall 2008

Size made: Small

Yarn used: Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine in Redwood Mix, less than 1 skein. I liked this yarn–it’s apparently machine washable (haven’t tried it yet) but doesn’t have the weirdly plasticky hand of some superwash wools. The color, like for most of Berroco’s yarns, is fantastic–a deep red heather, warmer than what I’d call burgundy, but definitely more red than the auburn brown I think of when I think “redwood”. It’s somewhat hairier and rougher than the other sock yarns I’ve knit with (which are typically merino) but it’s not scratchy.

Needles used: US 1½ (2.5 mm) Knit Picks Harmony DPNs

Date started: Sock #1: January 15, 2009. Sock #2: can’t remember exactly, but I think it was around May 19? Just a little bit before Memorial Day, in any case.

Date completed: Sock #1: February 4, 2009. Sock #2: June 6, 2010. Sounds like a long time, but I still have a lonely Pomatomus somewhere in the house that I knit in May 2007, so it’s still not a record for longest time spent single. (I really should probably start knitting them two at a time.)

Mods/Notes: This is a lovely pattern, and the socks fit nicely and seem like they’ll be warm and comfortable. The only issue I had, which happened on both socks due to the long time elapsed between finishing Sock 1 and starting Sock 2, was that I kept thinking the gray shaded squares represented “no stitch” and skipping over them, which, since they actually represent purl stitches, led to a lot of issues at the end of each round containing gray squares.

These socks do not look very attractive when unblocked and not on a foot.

In other crafty news: I’ve been in Boston for work, so on commenters’ recommendations, I visited two yarn shops (Mind’s Eye Yarns and Windsor Button) but displayed admirable restraint and did not buy any yarn while in Boston despite the very tempting 25% off sale at Mind’s Eye and the overwhelming supply of gorgeous buttons at Windsor Button. I met longtime blog commenter Luise at Mind’s Eye (hi, Luise!) and got to spend some time chatting and browsing yarn and books, which was lovely. I limped around Boston all weekend–you never realize how many stairs there are in T stations until you’re semi-disabled–and picked up a Vogue fitting shell pattern on sale at Winmill Fabrics, which hopefully I can use to get a good fit on Vogue/Butterick patterns once and for all, if I can convince myself to be virtuous enough to spend time sewing a muslin instead of an actual garment.

I’m heading back home early tomorrow morning. It was a nice trip, and between the travel and not being able to walk around too much, I got in lots of knitting time! Aside from the socks, I’ve also finished one Bodhi Mitten (knitting them in dark blue Malabrigo) and expect to finish the second one in the next few days.

OK, I really meant to go out and look at penguins at the zoo, but then about an hour ago I noticed the light was bright enough to take some photos indoors (albeit mostly very blurry ones) and got sidetracked by taking photos of my latest, favoritest FO: Eastlake. It’s still a little damp, but I can’t believe how great it came out. Once I finish writing this post, it’s off to penguinland. I haven’t made it to that corner of the Vilas Zoo yet, and I suspect those little guys are having a ball in this weather.

Pattern: Eastlake, by Norah Gaughan, from Norah Gaughan Volume 3. Used the errata corrections shown here. My ravelry page for this is here.

Size made: smallest (32″)

Yarn used: Taupe/mushroom School Products Multi-Strand Cashmere, bought from Stephanie’s destash sale, 450 grams used total (no idea of the actual yardage, unfortunately, since the yarn doesn’t have ballbands and it’s not on the School Products site anymore).

I LOVE this yarn–it knit into a dense, plush, velvety fabric, and the stockinette looks beautifully rich and even. However, it’s made up of three chainette strands wound together into a ball with no twist added, so it was very snaggy indeed, and I encountered a pretty high number of knots in one strand or another, at which point I would have to cut the yarn.

I felt kind of bad about this yarn for a while. Stephanie was destashing a lot of yarn at a very good price because she wanted to give it all a new home where it would be loved and appreciated, and then once I bought this, it sat around in my closet for ages, with no project in mind, and somehow I felt vaguely like I’d let her down, or snatched the yarn away from someplace where it would really be loved and confined it in a new, neglectful, unloving home. No such worries anymore; I think this is the perfect pattern for this yarn, so it’s time to transfer my stash guilt to something else.

Needles used: US size 5/3.75 mm for the ribbing, US size 7/4.5 mm for the rest of the sweater

Date started: November 25, 2008

Date finished: December 6, 2008


  • Knit the front and back in one piece in the round up to the underarms, and knit the sleeves in the round, two at a time, magic loop.
  • Due to knitting in the round, I subtracted 2 stitches where each seam would have gone. If you also choose to do this, note that the ribbing in the back has to start with p2 k2 rather than k2 p2 to line up right with the front ribbing. Also, on the even-numbered rows, the YOs have to be purled, not knit (this is obvious, if you think about it, since these are WS rows in the original directions, but it took me a couple of rounds wondering why I was knitting the stitches on one round and purling them on the next before the shoe dropped and I realized I hadn’t fully reversed the pattern directions).
  • Also due to knitting in the round, once I split for the front and back and started doing the armhole shaping, I omitted the first decrease round after binding off the armpits, to get to the proper stitch count. (Otherwise, since I omitted 2 sts for the side seam, I would have had 2 sts too few.)
  • Accidentally left out the plain knit round before the eyelet round on the eyelet decoration round on the chest and the first one on the sleeves. I noticed my mistake and knit the extra round on the 2 eyelet rounds at the elbow.
  • Knit 3 reverse stockinette rounds for each purl ridge. (I think the pattern calls for only two rounds on one piece, either the front or the back)
  • Because I didn’t have the right length cable handy when I knit the purl band around the neckline, I knit it back and forth rather than in the round, and seamed it at the back neck.
  • Twisted the stem stitches in the front panel on every round rather than every other round, since I was working in the round and it was easy to see which stitches these were
  • Didn’t twist my M1 sts in the front panel, so they came out as eyelets along the main stem. This was actually an accident at first, but I liked the effect and left it alone.

Notes: Norah Gaughan is a genius. There are no words for how much I love this sweater–I think it’s my new favorite. It was an easy knit, addictive to work on because of the interesting, constantly changing but also predictable front wheat sheaf panel, and the finished product is gorgeous, flattering, and elegant, if I do say so myself.

I have to admit the pattern is sort of hard to follow. Not because it’s poorly written, but because it’s written to follow particular style/space guidelines, so all the directions are crammed into these slightly cryptic running text paragraphs, and I kept losing my place. Also, the wheat sheaf pattern isn’t charted. You can get a chart from someone on Ravelry if you can prove you own the pattern, but I didn’t bother. It would have been nice, but it’s not terribly hard to follow the written directions; the pattern is very intuitive as long as you pay attention to where to start the top decreases for each leaf and where to start each new stem.

I only finished the sweater so quickly because I had some huge blocks of time during the Thanksgiving holiday to work on it–about 12 hours in the car, plus hours of idle time spent watching movies and such.  I wouldn’t have rushed it so much, either, but I was trying to finish it during NaKniSweMo as part of a Stash and Burn challenge/knitalong. I didn’t make it, but I came really close–I finished the front and back and several inches of the sleeves before throwing in the towel at midnight on the last day of November.

This photo is not especially nice or exciting or anything, but it might be helpful for anyone making this sweater who wants to see how the back neck extensions get seamed:

The Berroco Fall 2008/2009 previews are up! As I predicted, I totally love the Woodland Gothic story in Norah Gaughan Vol. 3… no surprises there. The cover cardigan, Violette-le-Duc, looks interesting, but I’d like to see it worn upside down, as “a more traditional cocoon cardigan,” as they mention in the pattern description.

There are some cute patterns in the other books; I really like the Chapa pillows and the Paley cardigan. Some of the designs in the new Ultra Alpaca collection, like Unity or Ursa, look like they would be really nice to wear, but not very interesting to knit.

They have some new yarns up, too–I’m especially interested in the wool/silk blends, Inca Gold and Palace, but whether I end up using them will depend on the price point–Inca Gold is “at an honest price,” but I don’t know what that means.

There has been some crazy flooding here in the last week, but living in the middle of town, on the second floor, I thankfully haven’t seen any of it in person… just some wild electrical storms and rain. Nearby towns are almost totally underwater, the governor has declared a state of emergency, and they closed off the interstate freeways I-65 and I-70 going through Indianapolis, “the Crossroads of America,” and 37 North out of Bloomington. Pretty wild. Lots of pictures of the flooding in Bloomington in this slideshow.

Right now, though, it’s 95 degrees out and I’m going to go eat some Greek yogurt with honey and walnuts and make some pasta alla Norma out of Paula Wolfert’s Mostly Mediterranean–a really fun cookbook I have out from the library right now. (The first picture of the pasta in that link is singularly unappealing, like pasta alla garden slugs, but it’s really a very tasty dish. Kroger didn’t have ricotta salata, so I’m substituting smoked mozzarella… not very traditional, but I bet it will taste good.)

I’ve finally published the pattern for Prickle, just a week under the wire for Malabrigo March. I thought I’d have enough time to do another scarf pattern, too, but it’s just not going to happen in the next week. No time!

You can see the extended pattern description and lots of pictures on the pattern page. The pattern is $4 and can be purchased through Ravelry downloads (preferred) or through Payloadz, if you don’t have a Ravelry account.

Here’s my test knitter Deb’s version, with the lace edging, knit in one skein of Malabrigo merino worsted in Fucsia (sic; I’m spelling it the way Malabrigo does on their site). That scenic waterfront vista, if you can believe it, is the scene outside her LYS in British Columbia, and sometimes they see orcas in the harbor. We need more orcas in Indiana, if you ask me.

The short version of the description is this: Prickle is a moebius cowl in a reversible Porcupine Lace stitch, designed to use less than 100 g/220 yards of worsted-weight yarn, and finished with a sideways knit-on edging. Two edging variations are provided: a plain garter stitch edging, or a frilly, scalloped lace edging (as shown above).

It’s been interesting to me to see the differences in the same pattern in different yarns. I knit the two pattern variations in three different yarns: Malabrigo Merino Worsted in Red Mahogany, Noro Silk Garden in color 269 (with a stripe of white Plymouth Baby Alpaca Brush), and Berroco Ultra Alpaca in Lavender Mix.

Each yarn has its pros and cons, and plays certain features of the pattern up or down by its color and nature:

I think Silk Garden is the attention-grabbing yarn of the bunch. I’d like to see how this pattern comes out in a brighter colorway. The stripes really play up the bands of stockinette and reverse stockinette lace and the gentle, undulating waves of the Porcupine Stitch pattern. I took it off and threw it on the floor near the hamper the other night, and the next day paused to admire the way the creamy, natural colors looked against the beige carpet. Even framed by dirty socks and piles of books, it’s striking, sculptural.

I really designed the pattern for Malabrigo, and the feel of this yarn is the most soft and luxurious of the three versions. My everyday scarf is partly knit from Northampton, a workhorse wool, which, while not scratchy, is not really a sensual pleasure to wear. When I wear the Malabrigo Prickle, I am constantly surprised and distracted by the sheer delicious softness of the yarn when I turn my head and my cheek or neck brushes against the cowl. This is the Calgon of yarns. Malabrigo, take me away!

The interesting thing about Malabrigo is that it has more body and more memory than the other yarns. (I guess that’s something you can reasonably expect from a merino wool as opposed to a silk and mohair or alpaca blend.) It was the only one of the three versions that didn’t feel right when pulled up over my hair like a hood or wimple–not enough drape, not enough stretch.

I think the semi-solid colorway of Red Mahogany gives it a really pretty, organic look when combined with the stitch patterns–like shelf fungus, if that doesn’t sound too gross. The shapes of the individual lace repeats are obscured by this colorway, but Malabrigo (like other hand-dyed or kettle-dyed yarns) looks really nice in garter and reverse stockinette stitch–the lace alternates between stockinette-based and reverse stockinette-based bands, and the edging is garter stitch.

The Ultra Alpaca is the plainest (the only one of the trifecta that nobody has favorited on Ravelry) but its worsted spin and plied construction give it wonderful stitch definition for lace, and the colors are great. I’m really impressed with it. I’m not going to double-post the overhead picture from yesterday, but it’s one of my favorites; taken in bright sunlight on a white backdrop, you can really see the intricate, dimensional curves of the stitches and the interesting shadows they cast. Aside from porcupine paws, the spiky stockinette parts remind me of flowers, or maybe agave plants.

So that’s that. I keep wanting to cast on more of these to see what happens in different yarns (I was thisclose to making one more in Patons SWS in Natural Earth) but I’m going to have to put this pattern down for a bit and work on something else.

Brief joke interlude: (from Mental Floss’s finalists for Best Pun in the World):Q: What do you get after playing the lute for 10 hours straight?

A: Minstrel cramps.

Kalani alerted me to the fact that Knit Picks has posted a bunch of new yarns. The ones I’m most excited about (but go look at the page for yourself–there are plenty of others):

  • New colors of Cotlin: Glacier, Kohlrabi, and Coffee are my favorites
  • Gloss lace yarn. The photos seem a little flash-heavy, but I think Cypress seems like a really pretty color.
  • Comfy, a cotton/acrylic blend. I’m really curious to see how light and stretchy this is. When they say it has “elasticity,” is it stretchy along the lines of Rowan Calmer, or more like Lion Brand Cotton-Ease? I love the muted colors.
  • New colors of Gloss Sock. These are beautiful–Cosmos in particular looks wonderfully moody and smoky
  • New colors of Shine Sport. I’ve been looking unsuccessfully for appropriate yarn for the Somewhat Cowl for approximately forever. Could Shine Sport in Fedora be the holy grail? I’m not going to bet on it, but there’s a possibility. I am so thrilled with all these new dark-chocolate browns and murky purples in KP yarns.

I will!

Pattern: Kate Gilbert’s Bird in Hand

Size: Smallest size, downsized further for a 7″ hand; finished size about 7″ around and 5″ from thumb crotch to fingertip; thumb about 2.5″ long and 3″ around. They fit my hands perfectly!

Yarn used: Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Chocolate, about 1.5 skeins; Classic Elite Tapestry (Ravelry link) color 2272 (green), just less than one skein.

This photo shows the amount of yarn I had left afterwards. I started with about 1.5 skeins of WOTA (one full skein plus about half a skein left over from a scarf) and exactly 1 skein of Tapestry.

Needles used: Knit Picks nickel-plated DPNs, US size 0/2.0 mm, for about 80% of the hand of the first mitten, and Knit Picks Harmony DPNs, US size 1.5/2.5 mm for the rest.

Started: 1/3/08

Finished: 1/11/08

Mods: Aimed for a gauge of about 8 sts per inch to downsize the mittens. Since my gauge went down as I was knitting the first mitten, the size shrank accordingly and I had to block severely to fix it–the mittens are roughly the same size now, but you can see that they’re fraternal in the side-by-side pictures:

Following the advice of some people on the Ravelry Bird in Hand KAL, I used a two-color Estonian braid for the middle braid of the second mitten, to mix things up a bit. Link to the two-color braid discussion here. I like the look of it better than the single-color braid. I went back and duplicate-stitched over the middle braid in the first mitten so it would match. They look nearly identical, see?

To work a two-color braid: M1 using CC, put it back on left needle.
*From behind, knit the second st through the back loop using MC and leave it on the needle, knit the first st through the front loop using MC and drop both sts, put new st back on left needle;

From behind, knit the second st using MC and leave it on the needle, knit the first st through the front loop using CC and drop both sts, put new st back on left needle;* and so on, always knitting the back st with MC and alternating colors for the front st, until the end of the round.

Notes: The best advice I got on making these from the knitalong was to do the embroidery before closing up the thumb. My embroidery could use some work. Maybe I’ll have to make another pair so I can have another go at making realistic birds.

Here they are:

And some colorwork close-ups:

I have lots of other notes on these mittens in the previous posts about them. So I don’t have much more to say right now–I just have to say I love these mittens, they fit wonderfully, and I’d totally make another pair. I’m not sure I could say that about any of the other ones I’ve knit so far–with their repeating motifs, they somehow all seemed like much more of a slog.

Soundtrack: The Littlest Birds, by the Be Good Tanyas

“Well, the littlest birds sing the prettiest songs…”

I guess I should get around to writing up the official finished object post for the Selbuvotter Black Lilies mittens, too. There are lots more pictures and details on these in the archives.

Pattern: NHM #7 from Selbuvotter

Size: Finished size: About 6″ from thumb crotch to fingertip (i.e. about 1″ too long for my hands); thumb about 3″ long and 3.75″ around; hand about 9″ around (i.e. about 2″ too wide for my hands). There’s probably enough room in there for a fuzzy mitten liner, if I get around to making one. I think my gauge (and row gauge) is about 8 sts per inch.

Yarn used: Knit Picks Telemark in cream and black, 2 skeins each. About 1.25 skeins of black, 1.75 skeins of cream.

Needles used: US 1/2.25 mm (What was I doing with these? I wrote it down but don’t remember why I used them–the ribbing, maybe, and/or the thumb?) and US 1.5/2.5 mm circs, magic looped, for most of the mitten

Started: 9/26/07

Finished: 12/22/07

Mods: Used a striped thumb instead of the charted thumb from the pattern, as detailed here.

Notes: I ran out of black yarn when I was thisclose to finishing the second mitten:

And I stalled for a while. I don’t think a pair of mittens would normally take me three months to make.

My gauge changed kind of a lot between mittens. You can see the difference in size here, with the smaller mitten placed on top of the larger one:

Eh. They’re pretty anyway!
Here are the lilies:

The palms with the stripey thumbs:

and the undersides of the thumbs, where I more or less successfully continued the palm pattern upwards–a detail I’m quite proud of, but which would be lost on most non-knitters:

I might need some convertible mittens/glittens next. I do have a pair I cobbled together by making Knucks and putting together my own flip-top pattern, but the yarn is thin and they’re not that warm.

Berroco has their Spring 2008 collection up now. I kind of love Currer, from Norah Gaughan Vol. 2, but started to worry that perhaps this was one of those things where I’m drawn to a pattern because it’s unusual and has an interesting construction technique, but it’s actually a major fashion mistake when viewed by any non-knitter. I’m thinking this because when I looked at Ellis, Currer’s sister pattern, my first thought was that the model looked very much like a grasshopper , with wings folded neatly back.

I also like the circular neckline insert thing going on with Athos and Porthos, but I’d probably make the Lacy Waves top from Lace Style before going with either of those.