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January 2018

Finished Object Knitting

Rafa’s Hat Pattern Review and FO

January 18, 2018
Pattern Review and FO : Rafa's Hat

Hello again. We’re halfway through the month of January. How are your New Year’s Resolutions coming along? I’m making scary progress on some of mine, but it’s still too soon to talk about. Even though it’s the new year, I’m still working on showing you some of last year’s last minute FOs. Even though I thought that I had escaped the pressures of holiday knitting, I still squeeze in a few knitted gifts. Luckily, I had the good sense to limit myself to hats. Rafa’s Hat was one of these gifts. 

The Pattern

Pattern Review and FO : Rafa's Hat

Rafa’s Hat is a unisex ribbed beanie by Joji Locatelli. It’s meant to be a generic male hat pattern, for guys with “very little requirements”. This makes it a great gift hat. Rather than being a simple watchman’s cap (like the morning walk hat I did for The Hubs last year), Rafa’s Hat breaks up the ribbing with a purl ridge. It can be worn slouchy or folded, making it a fairly versatile pattern.

Rafa’s Hat is an easy pattern to follow. It’s only 2 pages long, and that’s being generous with the spacing. There’s not a lot of fancy technique, but it still results is an attractive hat. Rafa’s Hat is 1×1 ribbing throughout, but breaks the ribbing into several sections. This kept the project from feeling too tedious.

Those of you who know me will know that I hate 1×1 ribbing. I just can’t seem to find my rhythm. Plus it makes my hands sore about ten times faster than stockinette. Still, I endured for Rafa’s Hat because it is a really accessible pattern. The finished product is polished and reads well to the non-knitter (muggles). 

The Yarn

Pattern Review and FO : Rafa's Hat

The pattern calls for 1 skein of Lush Worsted by The Uncommon Thread. I used one skein of Malabrigo Rios. I love Malabrigo in all of it’s forms and Rios was great for this project. It has great stitch definition to make all that ribbing pop. True to Malabrigo form, it’s extremely soft too! When I gifted the hat to it’s recipient, he could not believe how soft and warm it was. It was one of the coldest days of the season and he said his head was still toasty warm!

The tonal color of the Malabrigo Rios was great for this pattern too. The color wasn’t varied enough to be distracting, just enough to add some suble depth. Oddly enough, it’s very similar to the color of my morning walk hat, which was 2 different yarns held together! Malabrigo Rios was great to work with and looked beautiful. I would use it again in a heartbeat.

What have you finished recently? I’ve got some exciting new knits on the needles, including a Weekender Sweater! I’ve also been dipping my toes into some sewing projects. I’ll be sure to let you know about those if they go well!


Books Seasonal

3 Book Series to Get Lost in This Winter

January 11, 2018
3 Series to Read This Winter

I had mentioned that I went above and beyond my reading list for this past Fall and boy did I ever! I’m well into my winter list now (one more book to go!). The difference? I finally, finally got a library card! What’s even better is that my city is really generous with their online library resources as well. I have so many more options now that aren’t Kindle Monthly Deals! Not that those are bad, but the choices are intoxicating here. Here are some new series that I read recently that offer a good distraction on a dark winter evening.

-3 - Series to Read This Winter - Lunar Chronicles

The Lunar Chronicles

So the Lunar Chronicles series is a bit of old news.  Starting with Cinder, the Lunar Chronicles retells the stories of Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel and Snow White in a new, futuristic way. There is also a fifth book, Fairest, which focuses on the evil queen of the series, though I haven’t finished that one yet. I’ve had them sitting in my kindle library for a while, but only started reading them on a plane ride. They are definitely more of a young adult series, but I have never let that stop me. They deal with surprisingly grown up concepts like matters of diplomacy, racial tensions, plagues, etc… At some points, they were quite stressful to read, just because you were so invested in the characters with no foreseeable happy ending.

I enjoyed the way that Meyer took the source material and adapted it for her purposes. Fairy tale retelling can get pretty old if they’re not original, but felt like this series handled it well. The futuristic, cyberpunk sort of theme was interesting and engaging, and the stories blended into each other in a way that I thought was very clever. I also appreciated that each female character had a distinctly different personality. This book passes the bechdel test, no question! So if you were like me and looking for some diverting travel reading, this series is a great place to start.

3 Series to Read This Winter -Paper Magician

The Paper Magician Series

The Paper Magician series was a kindle deal in the young adult section last month. It takes place around the turn of the century as far as I can tell. In this series, young students train to be magicians, but can only exert their power over one man made medium. Ceony Twill’s dreamed of working with metal, but due to a shortage of paper magicians, she gets assigned to work with paper. At first, Ceony is disappointed by her somewhat ordinary medium, but she soon learns it’s surprising usefulness. 

You will want to do origami while reading this series, so you’ve been warned. It’s really best taken as a whole, rather than 3 separate books, though each book does progress in significant ways. It seems that a fourth book is scheduled for May of 2018, but everything seemed pretty wrapped up by then end of book 3, so we’ll see what that is about.  The only issue is that it involves to teacher/student sexual tension, and I’m not about all that. To be fair, Ceony is not underage at any point in this book. I just worry that this book could be seen as permission for a teenage student to crush on an older teacher, and please don’t draw that conclusion because it is the worst idea. Other than that annoying point, the who series is inventive and entertaining.

3 Series to Read This Winter -Lady Hardcastle

Lady Hardcastle Mysteries

I’m sure that by now my love of murder mysteries is clear. It’s not thrillers, but good, old fashioned who-dun-its that I like. If you’re the same way, I cannot recommend the Lady Hardcastle Mystery series enough! Lady Hardcastle is a lively widow with a knack for mischief. Florence Armstrong, Lady Hardcastle’s maid, is her protector, caretaker, and closest friend. The pair have a long history of working as spies to avenge the death of Lady Hardcastle’s husband. They have moved to a quiet house in the county in the hopes of leaving all of that behind, but they just can’t seem to give up their meddling ways.

The rapport between Armstrong and Lady Hardcastle is delightful. These books would translate wonderfully into a show or movie (preferable starring Kate Beckinsale)! They are far more familiar with each other than a proper lady and her maid should be, but that never stops them. Together, the pair solve mysteries in their little country town and end up finding a much more exciting life than they bargained for.  There’s a good bit of feminism, a lot of humor and of course, many mysteries solved. These books are good for people of all ages, and are excellent when you need a piece of fluff to read. 

Finished Object Knitting

Veronika Pattern Review and FO

January 4, 2018

Happy New Year! We survived the holidays (mostly). Both The Hubs and I came down with the winter crud that’s been going around over Christmas, but we’re hoping to be back on our feet soon. The good news is that I was able to finish my Veronika cardigan just in time for Christmas! I can’t wait to show it to you.

The Pattern

Veronika Cardi

I found out about Veronika by Shannon Cook through a knitalong at the Mckinney Knittery. Veronika is designed to use YOTH yarn’s daughter weight. It’s a cocoon style cardigan that features a big cozy ribbed collar. 

The construction of Veronika is like a fun little puzzle. You basically knit the whole sweater sideways. After adding some bottom ribbing and blocking, you fold the thing up like origami and sew two little bitty seams. There’s maybe 6 inches of seaming on the whole garment, which I great, because I hate finishing.

Veronika Cardi

The difficulty level on this pattern is incredibly easy. It’s a very accessible pattern for all skill levels, which is why it worked well for a shop knitalong. It’s also pretty adaptable to individual styles. A quick scroll through Ravelry shows that Veronika can go come cozy and homey to stylish and chic with a quick accessory change. I’m very happy with how mine turned out, and can see it being a great transitional item (though I will admit that it does not fit well inside coat sleeves). 

The Yarn

Veronika Cardi

I used Cascade 220 Superwash Merino in Avocado (number 11) for this project, about five balls in total. Previously, I had used this yarn for my baby yoda hat. I found this to be a great affordable option for Veronika, since I didn’t have room in the budget for YOTH Daughter (even though it’s gorgeous!). Plus, I enjoyed the smoother look of the ribbing done in Cascade 220. It’s very squishy and drapey, which is nice.

Some other knitters were concerned that I wouldn’t get gauge with Cascade. While my row gauge was a little short, it haven’t had any issues with the fit because this yarn grew like crazy when I soaked it. Like, it was a little out of control. I had to do a lot of finagling to coax it into the blocking dimensions on the pattern. Also, I need blocking wires. This is definitely a blocking wire project. 

Veronika Cardi

I will be interested to see how Cascade 220 Superwash Merino wears. Just based on how the yarn behaved while I was knitting, I think it might have a tendency to pill a little. I haven’t seen any serious pilling yet. However, it did shed little bits of fluff every once in a while while knitting. Even it it pills a little bit, Cascade 220 Superwash Merino seems to be an affordable, accessible yarn, and I’m sure I’ll use it again.