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Katniss Everdeen Has The Best Clothes

One of my besties has a serious thing for the Hunger Games movies (and fair enough, they're awesome) so she naturally fell in love with the asymmetrical cowl-sweater that Katniss wears in Catching Fire. It's a beautiful piece - clearly handmade, in the couture sense of things.

Also it has Jennifer Lawrence in it, which would make anything look fabulous.

Now this friend of mine is most exceedingly knitworthy, as she appreciates both the process required and the finished product. She also lives in one of Canada's winteriest cities, so when she asked me to make Katniss' cowl for her I jumped at the chance to send a warm wooly hug in sweater form. We discussed some of the pre-existing patterns available on Ravelry, but in the end we decided that none of them (at the time, more have come out since) were really accurate to the piece in the movie. Being an experienced knitter, I decided I could easily do it freeform. My only intentional deviation from the film version was to reduce the bulk somewhat, for a more figure-flattering garment.

I adore this photo. It really captures the rustic halo of the yarn.

The yarn is Istex Bulkylopi. At 60 metres to 100 grams, it is, in fact, very bulky. I feel like the Icelandic breed, being a hardy sort with many primitive characteristics, would be far more likely than the Merino to survive in a post apocalyptic future. I used a size 13 needle and varied my gauge as needed using my tension rather than needle size. The neck loops are made from braided strips of recycled sari silk from a woven rug my bastard dog attacked, crocheted over with wool. The silk adds tiny pops of colour that I really enjoy, and because it's very lightweight and flexible it makes the cowl more wearable than the rope versions I had seen other knitters make. I also felt like brightly coloured silk, recycled twice over, added a bit of the feel of the Capitol and its relationship with the districts.

The cowl is predominantly herringbone stitch, knit flat and seamed, with lots of crocheted bits and bobs. I used stockinette to create shaping and textural variety in an attempt to simulate the amazing fabric in the original piece (which I really don't think is knitted or crocheted).

With the leftover yarn I also whipped up some over-the-elbow armwarmers fit for a winter revolutionary. I may put together a pattern for these at some point, but y'all are out of luck on the cowl.

All the photos (except the promo photo of J-Law, of course) are courtesy of Jeremy Clarke, who can be internet-found at jeremyclarke.org. I love the light and the texture and the snow! Some people just get how to photograph knits. Also my friend is a total fox and that always helps.

This project also helped me with my ongoing goal to read more, as until I made this thing I had never read the Hunger Games books. They took me just over a week, and only because I rationed them out so I could savour the story. The books were very powerful and evoked strong emotions, just like the best young-adult fiction should. Teenagers are overpowering emotion and revolution made flesh - they need books like this to fuel their fire.

What do you think of the cowl, dear readers? Would you make a freeform sweater thing? Would you wear this awesome asymmetrical piece of wearable art? What are your feels on Lopi yarn? Most importantly, on a scale of very good to completely amazing, where do you rank the Hunger Games trilogy?

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So Much for Selfish Knitting

I was having some stash anxiety the other day (I really want to knit it down a bit but the Christmas knitting doesn't count as real stash) so I pulled out a giant skein of bulky BFL goodness. This pretty thing is handspun singles from Hannahmin's Fibre - my booth neighbour from Fibres West last March.

At first, I knit myself a sideways triangular shawl thing in cushy garter stitch; the goal of which was to achieve maximum winter cuteness by putting giant ass pompoms on the ends. However, the yarn is hand spun and was not of the same grist throuhgout (It was intentionally thick and thin, but one end of the skein averaged a super bulky weight, the other an Aran). I thought I factored the grist change in when I was weighing the skein to find the mid point, but I failed somewhere and ran out of yarn. I began to rip it out and cast on a big squishy cowl for myself, but Rei wandered up and squeaked "Are you knitting a scarf for me!!!?"

So I did. It's a big stockinette tube with ribbing at the ends and a line of eyelets to hold a drawstring near the top. It intentionally appears to have shaping, but it is due to the gauge change in the size of the yarn. I made a drawstring for it by using a spindle to add twist to a stretch of the singles, then chain ply it, then chain ply that, creating a cabled 9ply (so much faster than an i-cord). Two enormous pompoms later and we were done!

It looks adorable on her, and the colours are much more suited to a three year old than a grown woman.

Oh, and just so you don't get the impression that she is all cute, all the time, these photos happned when I told her to look adorable. She seriously thinks this is what adorable feels like.

I just don't know...

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Magnolia Socks

Despite the glut of Christmas crafting going on right now, I felt the need to cast on a little selfish knitting to work on at Knit City. I decided, after much deliberation, to knit up some handspun socks. I used BFL from Fat Cat Knits - one of my favourite dyers. Her Magnolia colourway is so stunningly perfect for fall (and spring, and summer) knitting, so I finally drummed up the nerve and cast on my first non-superwash socks.

I LOVE THESE SOCKS YOU GUYS.

spot the cat feet!

The pattern is an improvised cuff down jobby that I came up with in the waiting line for the ferry to Vancouver. Simple stockinette with a bit of 1 x 1 rib for fit, tapering off in the gusset. I love the way these socks feel so I may write up something similar for y'all, but not until I can perfect their appearance. I'm pretty proud of the spinning on these - I spun two matching balls of striping yarn, and they were pretty darn close! I'll spin for a more rapid stripe sequence next time though.

So - non superwash verdict? Excellent! I love the way the socks hold their shape - I wore them three days in a row (hush, I was having a bad week) and they didn't bag and slump like superwash socks do. The pure BFL really is fantastic for socks - they're pretty and shiny with a smidge of a halo. I've had some very minor felting on the soles right at the balls of my feet, but I made the socks a tiny bit big to accomodate for the inevitable so it's all good. They washed up nicely - having non-superwash socks motivates me to do a proper wool wash soak (with just a tiny smidge of agitation to get the dirt out) for my socks and bras instead of slowly ruining them by tossing them in the washer (and occasionally the dryer!).

If you spin and you haven't made socks with your yarn yet, I HIGHLY recommend it. Join me!

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New Patttern: The SABLE Scowl!

New pattern guys! I'm really in love with this one. The samples were a pleasure to design and knit, and they came from an idea I've been mulling over for a long time. I wanted a shawl-cowl (Scowl - get it?) that would work up in any weight of yarn, show off all the cool striping things that handspun has to offer, and be a relatively quick knit in heavier weights. Also important: a simple, non fussy lace edging that can pass as feminine, or not so feminine, depending on your styling, enough texture and detail to look fab in a solid colourway, and the ability to use the entire single skein of yarn. I can't be the only one drowning in leftovers, can I?

From the pattern:

Do you have a large yarn stash? I do. An appropriate knitterly acronym has been coined, I believe, by the incomparable Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. SABLE: Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy. Pretty grim, eh? My real stash weakness is single skeins of handspun. I love spinning beautiful colours and fibres, but it can be tricky to find a single skein project that shows off my yarny handiwork. Enter the SABLE Scowl - a single skein project featuring the wearability of a cowl and the styling of a shawl. It uses 100g (3.5oz) of any yarn weight, uses every last yard of your precious skein, and shows off gradients, stripes, and texture. It's everything you need to avoid SABLE! Not a spinner? Imagine the possibilities in variegated, hand dyed, or

striping yarn!

Size: 

61cm (24in) at neck opening. Bottom varies depending on yarn weight and gauge.

Gauge: 

Depends on your yarn choice. Choose a dense enough gauge that the cowl will stand up a bit at the neck.

Materials Required: 

Yarn: 100 grams of anything! The pattern allows for any weight of yarn. The samples are worked in handspun super bulky and heavy worsted weight.

6 stitch markers.

Needles: 

Depends on your chosen gauge.

Difficulty: 

Novice - intermediate. Requires the ability to cast on, bind off, knit, purl, work flat and in the round, and work simple lace. It helps if you are confident enough to chose your own gauge and read your knitting.

So many thanks to Amanda and Hayley for bringing the "lesbian heat" (ask Amanda, I don't know) to our impromptu knit night photoshoot, and to Kathryn and Rebekkah for test knitting! My knitting ladies are the bomb.

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Handspun Knee High Socks of Awesomeness

I have always wanted to knit myself knee high socks - I am extremely gifted in the calf-size department, so commercially made knee-highs are a no-go. There are some amazing patterns out there, but again, giant calves. However, I am more than comfortable in my sock knitting skills, so I decided to wing it, from the toe up. To make the whole project even better, I decided to use handspun.

The fibre was this pile of superwash merino and nylon gorgeousness from Smith and Ewe:

Which made an enormous amount of light-fingering weight n-ply:

Which made this boss-fight worthy pair of socks:

They were knit from the toe up with a Fleegle Heel. I increased as needed in the calf (A LOT, for the record). Rather than relying on ribbing to hold the socks up, I worked in stockinette until they were tall enough, doubled my stitches, and double knit for a few rows, creating a casing for some elastic. I am so proud of those cuffs...

Check out all the increases! Badass... Sorry for the blurry picture, it's unbelievably difficult to take a picture of the back of one's calves without falling over.

Aren't they pretty!?! I'm looking forward to cool weather so I can actually wear them.

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