Let’s Knit together: #jojifallkal2021

Logo for joji fall knit along 2021.

Joji Locatelli is hosting her 10th fall knit-along (KAL) this year and I’ve decided to enthusiastically participate! With so many of her patterns either favorited or sitting in my queue, it’s hard to believe that I haven’t participated in one of her fall KALs yet. Having participated in her Starting Point mystery knit along during the summer of 2017 (was it really that long ago?), I’m looking forward to the community of knitters that Locatelli brings together.

As a Wonderland Yarns ambassador, I’ve been trying to work with yarn colors or put-ups that I wouldn’t normally reach for when shopping at my local yarn store(s). This lead to the creation of my rainbow scarf and coordinating hat, a set that was enthusiastically received for one of my dear friend’s birthday. While blacks and rainbow colors are not out of my comfort zone, I’m not someone who’s quick to reach for yarn sets. In my mind, it’s hard to determine what to do with them (even though they come with a fun shawl pattern!). Now that I’ve worked with Combo #12, I have to admit that it’s a lot of fun to work with pre-determined color pallets. They’re a great way to play around with colors without committing to a large skein, which was a fun challenge rather than a “am I ever going to use this” one. I’ve got my eye on a few other combos, but I’m not planning on using any of them for the fall KAL.

While looking through Wonderland Yarn’s catalog, I fell in love with their blossom gradients and set to work trying to find a pattern that would allow the yarn’s beauty to speak for itself. There are so many shawl, cowl and mitten patterns to choose from, but I really wanted something that was going to highlight the gradient no matter what outfit I grabbed for the day. Locatelli released Fading Lines during my first year of what I’ll call “serious knitting” and I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t add it to my queue or favorites right away. Rather, this is a pattern that I’ve enjoyed looking at over the years but never really saw myself choosing colors to work it successfully.

With the help of the wonderful folks at Wonderland Yarn, I was able to choose a gradient that I loved and they found three yarns that would work will with it (this in my mind is the hardest part). From there, many of you voted on my Instagram in order to help me narrow it down from two to the one I’m going to be working with. To those of you who voted, thank you for helping me decide!

Choosing Fading Lines puts me on Team Cardigan and I’m looking forward to the fun that the next six weeks have in store!

Logo for team cardigans for the joji fall knit along 2021

Combo #12 Harlow Hat

A hat knit in brioche stitch with black stitches set against a rainbow striped background

Brioche is one of those stitches in knitting that you either love or hate, there doesn’t seem to be much of an in-between. It’s squishy and one of the few ways to add vertical stripes, but also takes you double the amount of time to knit one row (because for every one row of normal knitting you need two rows of brioche). There’s also more loops to keep track of and a high level of patience required if you drop a stitch. Still, I find myself reaching for brioche projects when I want a project where I need to pay attention, but not too much attention. Where I want the wearer to be able to reverse the garment depending on their mood and when I want to provide the wearer a little bit of extra warmth.

Direct contrast of the extra warmth tends to be the woven scarves that I make. They breathe more against the skin due to my habit of creating airier fabric in favor of less bulk. So while this Harlow Hat by Andrea Mowry is meant to keep the wearer’s ears a little warmer, the matching scarf is meant to be more of an accent piece.

A hat knit in brioche stitch with rainbow stripes against a black background

I liked knitting Harlow, the hat knit up relatively fast for brioche being knit on a size US 3 and it was the first time in a long time I’ve done brioche decreases. The only modification made while knitting (besides using only one needle size) was skipping the tubular cast on in favor of the long tail cast on. This doesn’t make a huge difference beyond being a little less stretchy and only incorporating the black color.

Curious about what it’s like to knit brioche? I highly recommend giving the Harlow Hat a try! Really, while the final hat is gorgeous, it was so much fun to make that I was a little bummed when it came to bind off. Andrea Mowry added details to the pattern that outline what to do and she’s created video tutorials to help get you started.

A hat scarf set from one package of Wonderland Yarn’s Combo kits? With a plethora of colors to choose from? I probably do need to decide if everyone is getting a set for the holidays this year, or at least start planning my holiday crafting. Does December sneak up on anyone else?

Combo 12 Scarf

Yarn traveling from a cricket loom to a warping peg in the distance. The yarn is arranged in a rainbow of colors.

The more I work with yarn, the more I appreciate techniques that let the yarn do the talking. Sure, cables and lace are beautiful, but you loose that detail when you’re working with many indie dyed yarns. I bring this up because it’s one of the reasons that I have learned to love weaving – the finished product is something that let’s the yarn speak for itself.

Recently, I’ve had the privilege of becoming a brand ambassador Wonderland Yarns, a yarn dyer that’s just a little further than “over the river” from where we live. Honestly, I think the only disappointment I’ve ever had with Wonderland Yarns occurred during my first serious year of knitting when I was in Brattleboro and learned that they weren’t open to the public. Just under two years later, I would be enthusiastically maintaining displays at Webs Yarn Store in Northampton and gushing about the softness and colors over the phone as a customer service rep (to this day, I still miss my job and all the people I worked with!).

Cut and treaded strands of yarn on a loom.

The point of this, is really just to say, it is incredibly difficult to commit to a project when you love all the yarn and all the colors. As this is not a paid position (but they did send beautiful yarn!), I will take the time to shamelessly admit that if I could have one of everything I would (seriously, thank you to the coordinator for her patience during our emails). After a lot of hemming and hawing, I committed to Combo 12 and warped my cricket loom.

If you like the way this looks and would like to weave one yourself, I used an 8 dent reed and positioned the colors so that there are 8 strands of each (4 when you’re warping) with Red taking center stage in the middle for a total of 16 strands (8 when you’re warping). From there “simply” measure out how long you would like your scarf and add ~16inches for waste yarn (this is not a scientific number by any means).

For the most part, I wove the scarf with the main color (little bat) and not with the colors from the mini skeins (land of wonders). That being said, the beautiful thing about weaving is that there are no hard and fast rules! One combo pack is enough yarn for two scarves, or in my case a scarf and an eventual brioche hat.

I enjoyed weaving with the Mad Hatter yarn that comes in combo 12’s pack. It bloomed nicely when blocked and has just the tiniest amount of fuzz across it’s soft surface. Mum’s the word on whether or not everyone is getting a Wonderland Yarn scarf for the holidays this year.

A rainbow woven scarf laying gently crossed on green grass.

Our current sock dilemma

If I had to pick only one type of thing to knit for the rest of my life, I would probably choose to knit socks. While in grad school, I was the one in the front (or second) row knitting a sock. On the T, whether sitting or standing, I was the one knitting a sock while looking at the people around me. I even used to walk around the city while knitting socks! These days, I knit socks during zoom meetings and while sitting on our front porch. This is a very wordy way of saying that I knit my first pair of socks back in 2014 and have not stopped knitting them since.

My preferred way to knit socks is one at a time, top down, with the Fish Lip Kiss Heel (FLKH). In fact, at least 30 of the however many socks I’ve knit (70? Maybe?) have used the FLKH. In my near decade of sock knitting, I have never experienced someone who has the ability to literally walkthrough a pair of socks until I met my husband (no pictures, it’s too sad).

I started knitting for my husband before we had even started dating and were just friends. To this day, he is my favorite person to knit for and is always seeking ways to encourage me to knit for him more. In many ways, we are the perfect match, but in this case I’m going to bring your attention to his love of socks and my love of knitting them.

When I say that my husband loves wearing socks, what I’m really saying is that if his feet are not in the water they are in a pair of socks. Morning, noon and night. At the time of this post being written, he has worn through 4ish pairs of handknit socks. While, yes, he wears these socks all the time, it hasn’t been until recently that he’s started busting through new socks that I’ve knit him. When I say that the heel on a pair socks I gave him in December were busted in early February, I wish I could say that I was exaggerating.

Personally, I blame his boots and not my knitting. That being said, the Make Good Podcast episode for this week addressed my question and had some suggestions that I should share:

  1. It honestly might just be the boots. Again, I think I’m sticking with this being the problem. They’ve entered into our lives more recently and they’re becoming his go-to shoe. Scratch jokingly mentioned duck tape as a possible solution, but unfortunately that would lead to blisters and gluey socks.
  2. Since the boots aren’t going anywhere any time soon, it’s time to take a more serious look at how to reinforce the heels. For starters, it sounds like using a more robust wool that’s reinforced with nylon would mean that the FLKH could still be my heel of choice. Socks that have nylon in them do seem to be doing better than those that don’t, so I think this is a good step towards lasting socks.
  3. Another trick would be to add an additional thread to the heel. I’m intrigued by this idea and may need to try it!
Green, blue variegated knit socks.
Pattern: My Knitted Heart Vanilla Socks by Elizabeth Suarez
Yarn: Wonderland Yarns & Frabjous Fibers Mary Ann in Let’s Mosey

My current strategy is to knit a gusseted heel with a slip 1 knit 1 approach on the heel flap. I know this is a tried an true method, but the FLKH is so much faster. Perhaps my next pair will combine suggestions 2 & 3!

The other thing I’ve been working on is adding some flexible negative ease to the socks. I’m currently working a 2×2 rib down the sides of each sock in hopes that they stay up on his legs better.

Though more time consuming, I’m happy with the way things are coming out.

A quick note on the yarn I’m currently using: It’s the last skein of the national park series pt 2 from Simply Socks Co. (I have one more skein that I haven’t worked with yet). It’s been a while since I’ve worked with wonderland yarns and I’ve forgotten how fun their colors are.