Tag Archives: summer

5 Fun Things to Knit in the Summer

Easy Summertime Knitting

It’s August.  The dog days of summer.

By now, your knitting is probably languishing in a basket by the couch or stuffed in your knitting bag while you host barbecues or hang out at the lake.  Thinking about wool when it’s 100 degrees outside is enough to make you break out in a heat rash.

But what if you want to knit?  Are your hands (and your brain) are bored without something to occupy them?

Elizabeth Zimmerman Quote

Here are 5 things to knit in the summer:

Teri modeling a hat made from Cascade Pure Alpaca and Misti Ayllu Overdye.
Teri modeling a hat made from Cascade Pure Alpaca and Misti Ayllu Overdye.

1. Hats

No, you probably don’t need a hat now.  But this is North Idaho.  It will be cold enough for hats again in about two months or less.  That’s eight weeks or 60 days.  Hats are portable, great stash busters, and may be knit out of pretty much any fiber and weight imaginable.  Most importantly, they don’t take up room on your lap.  Here’s some hat patterns (Many are FREE!) to get you started.

2. Mittens/Gloves/Fingerless Mitts

Nope, you don’t need these either.  Unless you work in an office where they keep the air conditioning set to the approximate temperature of a meat locker.  In which case, a nice pair of fingerless mitts might just keep the circulation going in your hands enough for you to do your work.  Also, these are small, portable, and won’t make you sweat while you’re working on them (unless you’re working on them outside when it’s 100 degrees.  But that’s the sun making you sweat, not your knitting.)  Here’s some fun Gloves and Mittens patterns to get you started.

3. Cowls

Scarves are too long for me.  I don’t have the patience and follow through necessary for scarves to be part of my knitting list anymore.  Cowls, though, can be knit on straights or circulars. They’re quick and easy and useful once it’s cold again (see #1.  It will get cold again, never fear.)  You can make plain stockinette workaday ones, pretty lacey ones, or ones covered in cables.  A cowl is a blank canvas of self expression!  Knit a couple now and you’ll have choices to coordinate with your outfits when the time comes.   Here’s some unique Cowl patterns to get your started.

Angie's Baby Hat and Sweater (AD)
A baby hat and sweater set by Angie, one of our Open Knitting group members.

4. Baby Things

Want to knit a sweater in the summer?  Knit a baby sweater.  Baby hats can be done in a couple hours.  Booties?  They’re tiny and cute and the definition of instant gratification for a knitting project.  Soft toys for babies are also great.  Put some beans in an old Easter egg and insert it into a knitted ball and you’ve got yourself a soft sided rattle for your favorite infant.  Baby things are great summer knitting projects.  They can be as simple or complex as you like, they’re small enough to complete quickly, and they won’t weigh you down when you’re taking your knitting on vacation.    Here’s some cute Baby Knit and Crochet Patterns to get you started.

Socks!
Socks!

5. Socks

I love knitting socks.  I nearly always have a pair of socks on the needles.  It’s my go-to project when I don’t know what else to knit.  The thin yarn and the small size make socks perfect for summer knitting.  They won’t make your hands as sweaty as a thicker yarn can, and if you knit socks all summer, your feet will be happy come winter.  Here’s some fun sock patterns to get you started.

Do you knit in the summer?  What do you like to knit?  Let us know in the comments!

Gone Fishin’ for Short Rows!

Fish-hat-side What do you get when you cross a lakeside community, bright sunshine yellow & ocean green yarn, and a Calvin & Hobbes-style sense of silliness? Why, the Dead Fish Hat, of course!

 
You can get 2 balls of Cascade Pacific in select colors– enough to create a fishy friend to call your own– for only $8.80 during the month of August (which is kinda nuts, considering Pacific is regularly $6.95 for just 1 ball!).

The moment I saw Thelma Egberts’ rather unexpected creation on Ravelry (available for free on Thelma’s Dead Fish Hat site & through Knitty magazine), I immediately knew I had to make one. It seems like just the thing to commemorate a joyful summer by the lake (and to make my knitting cohorts cackle with delight).

 

Fish-mouth Perhaps my favorite design element of this truly original hat is the curvy fish lips. The shape somehow manages to evoke the distinctive shape of an actual fish’s mouth while still maintaining the cartoonish charm of the hat as a whole. To achieve this effect, Thelma’s pattern employs two important elements: stockinette stitch to encourage the edge to roll, and short rows to lengthen the top & bottom of the mouth area (that’s what makes the lips curve like a rainbow). I suspect the stockinette element isn’t going to blow anyone’s mind, but those darn short rows have a reputation for being cumbersome. But fear not, dear crafters; whether you’re new to short rows or a seasoned veteran, this hat is well within your grasp!

Short rows are often classed with ordinary increases like make 1 or knit front & back, but I think that it’s a mistake to store the idea of a short row in the same mental category as these techniques. Where a regular increase selectively widens your work (turning a row of 12 stitches into a row of 13 stitches, for example), short rows selectively lengthen it.

Short-row-diagram If you can keep this in mind conceptually, short rows start to feel like exactly what they are: just another way to play with the shape of your knitted work. That said, if this is your first try at short rows or you simply don’t feel inclined to think about the “big picture” today, you can really just step through the Dead Fish Hat line by line & do just great.

Work-to-stitch-27 Take a look at the “Shape Mouth” section of the pattern, and I’ll show you what I mean. You’ve just finished several rounds of stockinette to form the lip, and now it’s time to work your first short row. To work row 1, just keep on knitting for 27 stitches like nothing’s happened at all, as if you’re working another ordinary round. Once you knit that 27th stitch, though, you’re going to turn your work over as if it were flat (like a scarf or a dishcloth), and purl back in the direction you came from. Do you see why they’re called short rows? They’re just like regular rows of knitting, except that they don’t extend across the entire width of your work.

 

Slip-stitch

 

 

To prevent unattractive little holes in your work, the pattern says to W&T at the end of each row, which stands for “Wrap & Turn.” This is possibly the only truly new move that short rows will demand of you, but in the immortal words of Douglas Adams, don’t panic! Once you’ve done all the knitting or purling the row calls for, slip one additional stitch from the left needle to the right.

 

 

 

Bring the working yarn around the stitch (if it started in the back, bring it to the front, or vice versa), and then put that slipped stitch back where you found it. See what you did? There’s now a cute little yarn lasso connecting your short row to the rest of your knitting! How slick are you?

Wrapped-stitch
Very slick indeed.

Now just keep on working, stepping through the rows one by one. On your first pass at rows 1-16, you’re making one lip on one side of the fish. Then, row 17 brings you to the other side of the fish, and you repeat rows 2-16 to build the second lip on the other side. Here’s a row-by-row chart of what you’re doing, starting with the red row at the bottom & working upward in order of rainbow colors:

Short rows as written
However, you’ll notice that as your work progresses, those nice straight rows of stockinette you started with (the curly lip part) will actually begin to curve to meet the edges of your short rows! Shape-wise, it’ll look more like this:

How short rows turn out Basically a birds-eye-view of Madonna, circa 1989

Nifty, eh? In fact, if you were to change colors on every row (which I emphatically discourage– So. Many. Tails…), you’d see something pretty darn similar to the grid above. Remember that the bottom red edge represents a formerly straight row of stockinette stitches from the beginning of the pattern. See how they curve?

Short-rows-sampler

A note to those already familiar with short rows, or to those who plan to apply this method in other circumstances: this pattern is unique in that you don’t have to do anything special to work the wraps. Very unique, as a matter of fact. That’s usually the part that knitters dread the most, but on the Fish Hat, it’s quite unnecessary (hooray!). Normally, when you knit across one of those stitches you lassoed previously, you must take special measures to push the wrap to the back of your work. It’s a nice way to keep your work connected without that telltale bar across your stitches. But since the Fishy has such cute curly lips, you’ll find that all your immaculately-worked wraps never even see the light of day, so my vote is to not stress about it!

Well, folks, there you have it– a quick introduction to the ever-so-clever use of short rows! Once you’ve worked the mouth of this hat, you’re ready to plug short rows into all kinds of other pieces– in fact, the great Elizabeth Zimmermann swears by a few of them at the back of a sweater neckline to prevent the bottom from riding up. You’re also through the toughest part of your Fishy, too, so double congratulations! If your sense of accomplishment makes you feel ambitious, scoot on over to Thelma’s Dead Fish Hat site & look at all the cool things you can do with color in this pattern!

Until next time, blub blub blub (that’s fish-speak for “Happy knitting!”)!

Visit Alpaca Direct this month to get a swell deal on enough soft, machine-washable Cascade Pacific to create your own funny fishy friend!

meghan123

Project tutorial: Cristaria Shrug with Cascade Ultra Pima

Named for a pearl mussel that produces freshwater pearls, the Cristaria shrug is a quick, pretty knit shrug that complements formal summer ensembles or casual looks alike. Add beads or pearls for a piece that is truly your own!back of christaria shrug

Materials:

Stitch abbreviations:

  • yo— yarn over
  • k2tog— knit 2 stitches together

Directions &  Hints:

Cast on 108 stitches, leaving at least a 12˝ tail. This will seem longer than it needs to be, but don’t fret! Take a look at the picture to the right. Imagine taking your straight cast-on edge & bending it into the wavy bottom edge of the shrug. That’s why your finished piece won’t be anywhere near as wide as it seems now.

  • Row 1: knit across
  • Row 2: purl across

Here comes the exciting part: the lace row. This sequence of increases & decreases is what turns a fairly ordinary stitch pattern into something visually interesting (and, in this case, wavy!). During each repeat, you are going to decrease a total of 6 times (the k2tog stitches) and increase a total of 6 times (the yarn overs). So, even though you’re subtracting stitches in some places & adding them in others, your total stitch count at the end of each row should always be the same (108, to be precise).

  • Row 3: k2tog 3 times, *k1, yo* 6 times, k2tog 3 times. Place stitch marker. Repeat across row 5 more times.

Phew! Take a step back & congratulate yourself— you just finished the tricky part & I bet it looks like a rat’s nest, doesn’t it? Just remember: you’re taking a wavy row & straightening it out onto your needle, so it really should look a bit confused.

  • Row 4: knit across

And that’s really all there is to it! You’ll repeat those 4 rows about 14 more times, depending on how big around you’d like your armholes. To finish, bind off & break yarn, leaving at least a 12˝ tail.

ontheneedles
Don’t panic when your work-in-progress looks bunchy!

Diving in Deeper:

The lace row sure does have a lot of counting— wouldn’t it be a lot easier to use more markers?

A tempting proposition, no? Normally, I prefer to use markers like big red flags to remind me when it’s time to change stitches. In this pattern, though, the markers are smack dab in the middle of a bunch of k2togs! There is method to my madness (well, this time, at least…). This is an atypical lace pattern in that the increases are all bundled together & the decreases are all bundled together. A more regular (rectangular) pattern usually peppers them across the row in pairs. Because of this, if you plunk down markers willy-nilly, they will actually migrate across the row & mess you up! So, the short answer is that markers are only useful to a point on this pattern. Think of them more as error correction tools— if you end up with anything other than 18 stitches between markers, you know something has gone wrong in that section.

The “short answer?” That didn’t seem very short at all. Out of morbid curiosity, what was the long answer?

Plate tectonics!

Excuse me?

No, really! The stitch markers show you the center of a double-sided stitch “subduction” zone— basically a stitch gobbler. It’s like the stitch markers are hovering over very aggressive black holes that pull stitches in & make them disappear. Conversely, in the middle of each increase section (right after the 3rd yarn over, to be precise) is a “mid-ocean ridge” of stitches— a place where new stitches bubble up to the surface & spread out. If you placed a stitch marker at each of these spots,  you could imagine them hovering over tiny stitch factories, creating new stitches & pumping them outward. The whole row would look something like this:

pacman1

Which, to me, looks a whole lot like this:

red-yellow

Wow, this is really getting out of hand. Anything else you’ve been dying to get off your chest?

Well, since you asked… The idea for how & where to use stitch markers (as a way to catch & isolate mistakes instead of to tell you when to change stitches) came from the mathematical basis for error-correcting code. Also, the function y(x) = 2.5 cos (2π x/13), with x & y in centimeters, describes each row of this pattern. Whee!

Finishing:

String a single freshwater pearl onto each of about 25 head pins. Trim pin ends & bend into loops. Attach pins at the bottom of the soft U-shaped rows of the center 3 columns of stitches (see picture), or use whatever arrangement strikes your fancy.

closeup

Use reserved yarn tails to attach corners of finished piece to create armholes. Weave in ends & trim.

Now throw it over a sundress & go put Audrey Hepburn to shame.

meghan123

Ready to turn your screen off & start knitting?

Download Cristaria Shrug tutorial  for a printable version of this post, or

Download Cristaria Shrug pattern for a no-nonsense, 1-page printable pattern.

XOXOXOXO, Meg :)

This shrug was knitted with Cascade Yarns Ultra Pima in Heathered Pansy #3705.

© 2011 Meghan Bosanko

Brand Spanking New: Cascade Ultra Pima

May I begin my yarn store blogging career with a confession?

When our general manager, Roxanne, approached me about constructing our summer class schedule, I drove home with eyes wide as saucers, eyelashes fluttering uncontrollably & shoulders tensed up so far I believe I lost sight of my neck. I panicked. Three whole months of summer class projects, you say? By next week, you say?

You see, I, like many other local fiber fiends, had fallen prey to a most pernicious rumor: that, when all’s said & done, there’s only so much knitting one can do in the blistering heat of an Idaho summer. Brainstorming eight projects anyone might even feel compelled to knit this time of year felt like a task bordering on Herculean.

But the next day, as if the clouds parted and the angel choirs started to sing, appeared my yarn hero of the summer: a shipment of brand spanking new Cascade Ultra Pima, fresh off a mail truck I’m really about ready to canonize. Helping Kristin unpack that box of yarn felt more like unpacking a bottomless box of new ideas, shipped direct from a benevolent gaggle of inspiration sprites.

Summer pima
That’s not to say I ended up making every summer sample from Ultra Pima– actually, only one pima shrug made the cut. What turned out to be best about the pima, for me, was that it catalyzed this flood of ideas about warm weather knitting. Have you ever heard the saying that a single pebble in the right place can divert a whole river? Ultra Pima was my pebble!

Suddenly, the ideas started to flow. Headbands to wear at the Farmer’s Market. Bright tie-dye colored beach totes. Something pretty to keep me warm when the wind is blowing off the lake. Crocheted creatures from my summer adventures as a child. And all I needed was a soft, cottony nudge in the right direction.

Ultra pima on shelf
Ready for a nudge of your own? Alpaca Direct stocks 51 colorways of Cascade Ultra Pima, each one satiny smooth, light as a feather, and machine washable.