FO: Woodstack Mittens

In January, I did my very first test knit for one of my favorite pattern designers, Jane Richmond. I lover her patterns because they’re so clean and easy to follow and her designs are still modern and fresh. I teased that I did a test knit in my January’s FO Round-up but then I never said anything else about it because I couldn’t until now!
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I didn’t know it at the time but I was test knitting the Woodstack Mittens, one pattern in Jane’s new book with Shannon Cook called Within: Knitting Patterns to Warm the Soul.
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Can I tell you when I realized that I got to test knit for this book I got really geeked out and excited. I’m a total knitting nerd and I love it.
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I actually really like knitting mittens, they’re one of my go-to quick knits for Christmas gifts and these were super quick and easy. I actually knit them in the car over a four day period after the holidays and I used almost a full skein of Manos del Uruguay Maxima yarn in Mixed Berries that I had in my stash. And after I knit these I went away to Vegas for work and these were packed away but now I think I’m going to gift them to my girlfriend Erin, because they’re a great match to the hot pink hat I knit her for Christmas last year. And sometimes the best knit is the one you give away and I can totally whip up a pair for myself in another color.

So have you checked out the patterns in within? There are a couple of cardigans and a hat I definitely want to add to my queue!

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The Quarter Stitch & Other Fun

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Two things I wanted to share from my vacation. First, the awesome project bag my girlfriend sewed for me and second is the yarn shop I visited in New Orleans.
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When Salina saw my Field Bag in the spring she told me that she could sew up the same thing for me but with any modifications I wanted and in patterns. I like my Field Bag and use it a lot but don’t love the side handle or the drawstring. So I asked her for handles and a snap closure instead. It has interior pockets too and it’s a a great size to tote my projects around in. It’s really good to have crafty friends, am I right? She said she had another version she was working on before she left but just ran out of time and I can’t wait to see what she came up with. I love having options because I’m not a monogamous knitter but I feel like this will be the bag I use the most for my knitting on the go.
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And while we were in New Orleans I wanted to go back to a yarn shop I visited for the first time 4 years ago. I was still fairly new to knitting when I visited the Quarter Stitch in the French Quarter. It was down the street at the time from the hotel we were staying in and my husband had just shown me a cable knit scarf he’d like for Christmas. So when he and my Dad left to explore the city I ran down the street to check out the yarn shop and see if I could find good yarn for a scarf and I did. It’s a small and cozy little shop and the staffers are always super friendly (I ended up friending one on Ravelry after we shared our love of rainbows) and this time I walked out with 2 awesome skeins.
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For the next hat I intend on knitting myself I picked up a skein of Malabrigo worsted in Apple Green because I want a vividly bright hat to keep me warm. And I was sucked into this awesome tie dye looking yarn, Manos Alegria in Candombe.
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I know I’m not a sock knitter but I picked up this awesome sneakers with cutouts and all I could think is that I needed awesome socks to wear with them in the fall. That’s it for my NOLA bits. This weekend I’ve got tickets with the family to see the National Museum of African American History and Culture. I’m super excited. What do you have on tap for the weekend?

FO: Custom Design Caldwell Cape

One of my knitting goals this year was to have more confidence in my abilities as a knitter. I know I am always learning and growing in my skills but I have to trust in what I do know and I need to push myself more. A couple of years ago I was at a dog park with Cher (which she hates we learned that day) and I saw a woman in a gorgeous Kelly green cape. Of course being a knitter, I asked her about it and she told me her grandmother knit it for her over 40 years ago and it was her favorite piece because of its sentimental value and because it was just a great cape. It really was lovely and it made me think I could really go beyond my hats and scarves and mittens. So when I was on the phone with my BFF Jess 2 weeks ago talking about wanting a cape/poncho but couldn’t find a pattern I liked she said, ‘just make one up!’ I decided she was right and I thought about that gorgeous cape and wanting to make something just as special for myself. Meet my Caldwell Cape.
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First let’s get into the details:

You will probably remember from this post what my criteria was for a cape. In case you forgot, I wanted a collar for the chill against my neck, I wanted it to not be too long since I’m short, it needed to have buttons so I wouldn’t have to pull it over my head like a poncho and I wanted slits so I could easily pull out my arms.
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Much to my surprise and delight, I hit every single point on my list. I am beyond thrilled that I was able to pull this off. I sketched it out, did a gauge swatch and just started knitting. Here’s what it looks like when I pull my arms out of the slits. I finished off the armholes by picking up stitches, knitting one row and then binding off – just so the edges were clean and didn’t get frayed from me pulling my arms out.
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Here’s what I look like when I pull the arms inside of the cape. Although honestly, they’ll probably always be outside of the cape because I kind of look like I have on a straight jacket like this. LOL
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I created this piece by essentially modifying circular yoke cardigan construction, I thought the drape of a circular yoke would work best for a cape. I didn’t want you to really see the increase like you would with a raglan, I wanted this to have a smooth, gradual shape to it. I considered doing some short rows and making the back slightly longer but wasn’t sure if I’d have enough yarn (all of this yarn came out of my stash) and decided I just wanted it to run evenly across the bottom. I created the slits by simply putting stitches on hold for the back and second front piece once I got to a point that I thought I wanted slits on the poncho. I worked 45 rows, put those stitches on hold and then did 45 rows for the next section and then the last and then just rejoined them all together. That was the hardest part, figuring out where I wanted the slits to fall and hoping the placement was right after it was blocked and the collar was added. Since I didn’t have a button band or collar it was a little tricky to figure out how it would really sit on my shoulders but I got it! Each slit starts 50 stitches from the edge, which is just shy of where you would separate the sleeves from the body in a cardigan. Luckily, my placement was perfect.
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The yarn for the yoke of this cape is so special and unique. I absolutely love it. I bought it a while ago and was saving it for something special and I’m glad I used it for this project. I wanted to make a neutral cape to wear with everything but I still needed it to have some interest and this color is just magical. I still have a skein and a half left so perhaps there will be fingerless mitts or a hat to go with it for fall? The colors in the Lemonade Shop are absolutely stunning and I just want to try every colorway she has in her shop. I also love the buttons I picked out. I knew I wanted black buttons but the sparkly fuchsia flecks pull out the bright pink in the yarn and I just love how it all comes together.
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And of course whenever I’m taking any photos, this one isn’t too far away from me and always wanting a little attention. I am super happy about how this turned out and this just encourages me to try more things in the future when I can’t find what I want. I can’t say I’ll never do pattern design for the masses (Um…that’s a lot of math and trying to figure things out for multiple sizes seems like a daunting task) but I’ve learned to never say never. I can definitely say I see doing this for myself more in the future though. And I finished it just in time for chilly spring mornings this week. I’m going to wear this as much as I can before summer really hits!