Nebula Medallion Vest Pattern

I’ve spent my free moments this week typing numbers into spreadsheets, formatting documents, copyediting, and all those other tedious things you don’t think about when you’re knitting. All for you, because I’m excited to share that the Nebula Medallion Vest pattern is finished!

Ravelry pattern page here.

I’m offering this as a free pattern, mostly because it has not been test knit beyond what you see here. However, it is an extremely simple concept. Basically, you start knitting a top-down hat, but don’t stop increasing. The only fiddly bits are the armholes, and making sure you have enough yarn.

I’ve included yardage estimates for many different gauges, down to worsted weight (18 stitches in 4″/10 cm). I definitely erred in the direction of more yarn; I hate running out of yarn!

Pardon my squinty face. It was really really bright outside!

This is new territory for me. It’s my first time designing specifically for handspun, my first time including this much customization, and my first time including metric. Not to mention that this is my first pattern to make it to daylight in over two years. So I’m a little nervous. But I’m also excited. This pattern and sweater were definitely a gift, so I’m happy to share them as a gift to you.

If you try it, would you let me know? And let me know how much yarn you used! Happy spinning and knitting.

A Hat: …Really Finished

Ugh. Writing all these posts about unfinished things lit a fire under my bum to do something about these projects. (Not counting the Kidlet; she’s not supposed to be finished.) I don’t want pretty knitted things to just sit around unused for lack of a little extra work! So a few days ago, N and I toodled out to Baffin Electronics and bought some fabric, thread, and a zipper to figure out this laptop case. Maybe I’ll get to sit down with that on Sunday or Monday… ha. And earlier during the day, I threw this bad boy in the washing machine. Here’s the before picture:

Epic-ly enormous. It took two full cycles of the washing machine – like half an hour of agitation, at least – to get this thing down to a reasonable size. Here’s what it looks like now:

Much, much, much more reasonable! And with a wonderful halo that is extremely fetching and very soft. It can be worn as a beret, or more as a slouchy hat:

Although my older daughter rather wants it to be a mushroom for Halloween.

It has been removed from Miss Toadette and delivered to the ACW bin. I missed the craft sale this was intended for because of the sizing snafu, but it’ll be ready for the next one. Yay! An actually finished thing!

Now, to find a few quiet hours to assemble this bag…

Fuzzy Maybe Finished?

In the background, quietly, while all this spinning and blah blah has been going on, the Mitered Magnificence has continued to grow. Quietly, humbly, though it is not a pattern suited to being quiet and humble, it has submitted itself to that status.

Seven rows of squares…

Eight rows…

Ten rows…

By eleven rows, you could really see the cool colors starting to balance all the warm ones.

I completed the last square just before dinner last night, and sewed in the last of the ends.  

I have learned a lot about color theory since first sketching a plan for this stole, and if I were doing this again, I would do a few things differently. Primarily, I learned that colors do not balance by having equal amounts of each color; they are balanced proportionately. Some colors are stronger and louder than others, and you don’t need as much of them to look balanced with the others.

Here’s so much more to color than just hue family, and my sketch with Crayola markers didn’t tell me anything about how my palette would mix, with the dark red, the pale lavender, and the very light real, just to mention a few outliers. The rainbow effect is there, but it’s even more subtle than I expected. 

The warm colors, orange and red and yellow, are always loudest, and the orange in this set of colors is especially bright and loud. That’s why, to my eye, it seems to take over, even though there’s pretty much an identical amount of all the colors.

The squares are all finished, and the ends are all woven in, but I am still trying to decide whether I am finished or not. The question is, whether to put on a border. Mum is probably going to sew it into a poncho shape and add a small border; I am considering putting a border of some kind around the whole thing. I resisted this idea at first because I thought it would look like a picture in a frame, which didn’t make sense to me. However:

  1. The stole is not as wide as I thought it would be – a border could add some width
  2. I was not very consistent with my edges (sometimes I slipped the edge stitches but sometimes I forgot, so it’s kinda messy looking) – a border would fix this
  3. If I did the border in cooler colors, it could balance out the extra-powerful orange. I’m thinking teal and blue and grey, maybe a little bit of some black I have.

So I don’t know. I don’t know how much balance matters since I’m probably going to be wrapping it around my shoulders, not hanging it on the wall (though Jared has threatened to make it a wall hanging if it just sits in my drawer). I kind of want to just be done with it, but that little bit of extra love might make it more useful and wonderful.


I wore it to teach last night, and it was fabulously bright and warm. It stretches a lot, so I don’t know that the messy border is noticeable. I wonder if a border would break up the impressionistic effect of all those dots and squares. 

Any opinions?

A Hat: Finished-not-Finished

This has happened to me a few times: I am at ACW, and I want a project to work on While I am there that is to donate for the next craft sale. Logically, I wasn’t to use some of the yarn they have there.  there that is from the yarn they have. So I find something in the ACW stash, pick a pattern, and work on it for a few Mondays.  Then I realize that if I only work on it at meetings, I will not finish it ’till a craft sale this time next year. So I take it home and potter away on it.

The ACW stash of yarn is mostly acrylic, because that’s what they prefer. I can understand why; it’s sturdy, affordable, and they’re used to working with it, and make gorgeous things from it, so I’m not going to sniff. But every now and then, something really crunchy and woolly and wonderful comes through the stash, and I keep an eye on it.

No one wanted these two little woolly woolly skeins, from some small farm in Ontario, extremely crunchy. Not what you’d call soft, but right up my alley, and I was sure some granola Canadian like me would come through the craft sale and dig it. When the skeins had sat unloved in the ACW stash for a good six months, I took them home and went through my pattern stash to see what they could be.

I decided on the inspiringly beautiful but uninspiringly named “#18 Fair Isle Tam” by Anne Featonby, from my pile of Vogue Knitting magazines, Fall 2009. I even swatched, and washed my swatch. For a hat! I felt so virtuous.

It was really fun to make. I’d been hankering for a spot of fair isle, and this scratched the itch.

I did not feel any concern until I finished it, and noticed… it was kind of large.

Never mind my unkempt face and hair and all these awful phone photos; that hat is definitely on the big side. The brim fit, though, and it seemed to fall into the category of “tam-o-shanter.” I had thoughts of a jaunty yarn-covered button on the top.

But I still had to block it. Not just on principle; the fair isle really needed a good soak to even out my work.

Oh dear. Once wet, it just flopped over my largest dinner plate. I ended up stretching it over my largest pyrex bowl.

After a couple days of drying, it’s beautiful, but completely ridiculous.

I wore it around for a few hours to see how it wore. The washing and Eucalan had softened it up, so it was comfortable enough, but it was like wearing a sleeping bag on my head. Or an entire extra head of hair.

I think my only recourse to make something saleable is to felt it. The brim stretched out a bit over the pyrex, so I’m not worried about that getting too small. I’m just waiting for the right moment, when I can hover over the washing machine for fifteen minutes and there’s not already a bunch of dirty training pants already in there, to do it. I’m also maybe working up the nerve… it’s so beautiful; I don’t want to ruin it.

But I’d better. I don’t think we have a large enough supply of committed Rastafarians in Iqaluit to make it likely this will find a forever home otherwise!

A Laptop Case: Finished-Not-Finished

Puni spinning not done yet, but in the meantime, want to see a bit of knitting? Though today’s update is hardly a victorious return to the needles.

I finished the beautiful laptop bag that I started making right after mom gave me the yarn. But I haven’t showed it to you because I didn’t really finish it.

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It’s based on Grace’s Bag by Daniela Nii from the 2011 Interweave Weekend Knits magazine. It’s a lovely issue, all seasonal and stuff, and there a couple of sweaters in it that I would love to make. I decided to adapt Grace’s Bag into a cover for my laptop, because I really need something to protect it a little better as I endlessly cart it between home office and work office 30 feet away.

Even though the gauge and shape were totally different, it ended up being quite easy to adapt, because my guage was exactly half the  of the pattern gauge! The pattern has you knit both sides at once, across; I knit one side and then kept knitting to do the other side – so it was the same number of cast on stitches. I just threw another diamond in the middle.

It took a bit of fiddling to get the length right – for once, I measured my row gauge, but I did it wrong, so this time I made it too long! Ugh. I figured this out before I was done the second half of the first side, so all I had to do was pull out some of the beginning and re-knit it in the other direction. That way I’ll have a cast off edge on each side of the zipper anyway.

I finished the knitting, and I blocked it into shape. It’s lovely.

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Based in some lines to follow as I embroidered, as the pattern recommended, but the mathematical approach was better, as I was going to the side one stitch for every two rows.

Then came the embroidery. Definitely fell into the “a bit of a pain” category, but I was listening to G. K. Chesterton’s droll but soothing biography of Thomas Aquinas, and it got done in an evening.

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So… it’s finished. But it’s not finished. It’s a bag shape that fits my laptop in it, but it is decidedly not a laptop bag. It needs to be sturdily lined somehow and given a zipper and straps before it’s really done. It’s been sitting almost a month now, so I should really do something about it.

Do you have anything like this, sitting around, done the knitting, but needs some fussy not-knitting to make it really done? Motivate me, because I’m tired of this hanging over my head! I want the bag before vacation at least!

Fuzzies in Flight

One day, N is going to figure out that I will knit her absolutely anything she asks me for. On that day, I will be in trouble.

The girls literally call the multiple balls of mohair, from the Mitered Majesty, my “fuzzies.” They ask to hold them, and under my nervous gaze, they parade around the room with them, cuddle them, find the hole in the middle and make them into “bracelets.”

N had been bugging me for a few days to make her a hat. Er, I’m in Canada now, so I need to call it a toque, I think. (Rhymes with “Luke.”) Anyway, she has a few toques, but she described to me how she wanted a small hat that would fit under her hood. This made sense; her main hat toque that she likes to wear outside is kind of large on her, and probably gets shoved around under her hood.

I immediately thought of Aviatrix, which I’d filed away in my library ages ago. It’s adorable, but I never made it. It comes with directions for a bundle of sizes and weights of yarn. N approved the picture I showed her.

What she really wanted was a toque made out of the green fuzzy. No dice, I told her. I needed that yarn for the project it was in! I finally talked N into coming up to the cedar chest to pick something, and she seized on a single ball of sock yarn that we will charitably call “mustard” and not “dried pee.”

It's an ancient ball of 60% wool / 40% acrylic from who knows where. The rest of the ball band is nigh unto indecipherable. Who knows what it's doing in my stash.

It’s an ancient ball of 60% wool / 40% acrylic from who knows where. The rest of the ball band is nigh unto indecipherable. Who knows what it’s doing in my stash.

“Do you like yellow?” I asked.
“No, I like blue.”
“Do you want me to make you a blue hat?”
“No, that yellow yarn.”

We went back downstairs, and she proceeded to lose her mind because I didn’t produce a toque that instant. What can I say? Being three is confusing, and it was dinner/nightmare child time.

When the nightly marathon of dinner and bedtime were over, I sat down to swatch for said toque. She’s picked a fingering, which wouldn’t officially work with the pattern, and I didn’t think I’d have enough with it held double. Besides, when I tried it out, I found that the yarn felt sort of dusty and squeaky in my hands. By itself, it would feel like wearing a dry sponge.

I glanced back over at the bag of fuzzies. After all, I thought, I’ve knit more than half of the Mitered Miracle, and the balls look barely used. I looked up their yardage, and it’s ridiculous: Rowan Kidsilk Haze has 229 yards in a 50 gram ball. If I used 100 yards of each, I’d have 900 yards in the shawl, and I probably wasn’t using that much. Even if I was, the remaining 129 yards would be plenty for a little Aviatrix.

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From the bottom: mustard held double, mustard held single, mustard with kidsilk haze green (#569 Jelly), mustard with kidsilk haze gold (#578 swish).

So I swatched it in. The green with the mustard looked like something a cat might produce after eating grass, so I switched to the gold, which is quite close in hue to the mustard. It gave me gauge for the DK pattern, and felt lovely, so I cast on.

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I sneezed and there was a toque.

This was so fun to make. The fabric made by the kidsilk haze with the fingering was just… it was a dream. It has the substance of the unyielding wool-acrylic blend, but the softness of kid mohair, and the silk keeps it from being stiff. The two slightly different shades in very different textures interacted to create a depth of color neither of them had alone. (As an aside, I appear to have plenty of gold kidsilk left to finish the Mighty Mitered Mohair, if you were worried.)

The pattern was highly entertaining. It’s hard to put down in the middle of a section, and I kept wanting to start just one more. It’s well thought through, and the way the rib blends down into the garter stitch ear flaps entertains me exceedingly. The pattern is no longer free, but is worth buying.

My main mod was that I added a seventh short-row section, both because my row gauge was short as usual, and because I wanted to err on the side of it being lower on the forehead.

I finished first thing on Saturday morning, and N explored my Button Rejects Bag and picked a big ol’ black button. Which, of course, makes this hat Steelers colors. My Pittsburgh girl. She even tried to wear it like a football helmet.

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She doesn’t quite understand the strap, but seems to be able to fasten it OK by herself. I’m hoping it’ll help keep it in place under her hood.

The first pictures make the hat look quite green, but that’s CFL lighting for you. When it was finished, we had some glorious golden light that set it off perfectly. Sunrise at 9 AM in Iqaluit!

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She only looks grumpy because I’m making her sit in the bright light. She loves the hat, and it was so effective that she went to the playground today in -30, and played happily until Daddy noticed her cheeks getting overly red.

That has me wondering if this fabulous knitted fabric could be adapted to a bottom-half-of the-face-mask shape. Maybe it could be backed with gore-tex to be wind-proof. And of course M wants one now. Hmm…. the fuzzies may multiply again.

We Two Mice of Nunavut Are

Happy Epiphany! Epiphany always feels to me as if it’s the actual last day of Christmas, since after all, it’s the day Jesus got his gifts. So I thought I’d share one more thing today.

I already showed you the girls’ big Christmas present, when I finished the Phoebe dolls way back in October. N caught a glimpse of a picture when I was making that blog post, and said something along the lines of “WHERE’S MY PHOEBE DOLL SWEATER” but I denied everything. Three-year-olds are easily bluffed.

The two little mice sat huddled in an empty Goldfish box for nearly three months before they were taken down, wrapped in separate boxes, and opened.

One tries not to get too tied up in the responses of toddlers to the things one knits for them. But they were very excited.

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Their responses were both very… them. N ran up to put her matching sweater on. M stripped hers naked.

I tried to get them to pose in their sweaters with their dolls that night, but the results were understandably chaotic. Present day is always a bit emotionally overwhelming for small people, though I daresay baby Jesus didn’t lose his mind over gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

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The next night, just by way of making conversation, I asked N what her favorite present was. “My Phoebe doll,” she said, without hesitation. I was unable to suppress a little gasp of happiness, but recovered with a nonchalant but affectionate comment. They both slept with their mice, in varying states of dress, for the first few days. Now they have joined the ranks of 12″ dolls in being strewn about the room and crammed into every possible combination of odd doll clothes we now have. But they are being played with and loved. That’s as much as I could ask for, and more than I hoped.

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When I look back at my projects from this fall, I was working on Christmas presents pretty continuously from September through mid-December. That’s over a quarter of the year’s knitting time! I have no guilt whatever about having three large projects on the needles, all for MOI. Goodness it was fun, though.

Happy Epiphanytide. May this missional season of growth and learning keep you warm through the coldest bit of the year.