Date Night Tunic

Catalog PhotoI found this pattern in a Herrshner’s catalog that came in the mail and instantly fell in love with it. The kit can be purchased through their website and comes with the pattern as well as the yarn required to complete the project. It uses Red Heart Sparkle Soft yarn in black, and it’s wonderful to work with. When I first saw it and saw that it was using a yarn that looks like it contains some sort of tinsel, I was a little apprehensive. I thought for sure it would be one of those itchy yarns that constantly irritates your skin when you wear the finished garment, and that’s a big problem for my sensitive skin. But I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. If you look at pictures of the yarn online it doesn’t quite do it justice, so if possible try to visit your local craft store and get your hands on this yarn. You’ll love how soft it is, I promise. Plus, it’s 99% acrylic and 1% metallic, which makes it machine washable. I would definitely use the gentle cycle on it, but it still beats hand-washing.

The pattern itself is worked in separate sections rather than in the round like I originally thought. You knit from the bottom up, and sew the pieces together when finished. The front and back pieces are pretty similar except for the shoulder shaping, and the sleeves are also surprisingly worked as a flat piece rather than in the round. There are two lace knit patterns in this, the lattice knit and the medallion knit. Here’s a closeup of both:Lace Closeup

When the directions tell you to use stitch markers they’re not kidding. Use them. I’m serious. I’m usually pretty good at keeping track of where I am in a pattern and what comes next, but I tend to do a lot of cable knitting which is entirely different from lace knitting. Lots of knitting stitches together, passing slipped stitches over and yarning over in this, it gets confusing. It also isn’t always immediately apparent which stitch to do next, so keeping track is an absolute must. My first few cracks at the lattice knit sections resulted in first too few stitches on the needle, then too many. Use stitch markers. If you don’t have stitch markers, don’t fret! You can make them. I don’t own a lot of the extra fancy knitting implements such as stitch markers, stitch holders, or cable needles, I make do with what I have. For stitch markers, I take a small section of yarn of a different color and essentially just tie it in a circle. Place it over your needle and knit around it. I like using a different color piece of yarn better than some plastic loop because it’s flexible and allows you to keep your stitches more even so they don’t get stretched out. I use a longer strand of different color yarn for a stitch holder, too. No need to get fancy, and it gives some of your leftover yarn a purpose at least for a little while.

When I finiFinished Tunicshed this project I noticed that the sleeves came out a bit longer than the pattern intended. In the original pattern photo, it shows a 3/4 sleeve, and mine came out as full sleeves. Maybe it’s because I’m kind of short and have shorter limbs, maybe I miscalculated, or maybe it stretched out when I tried it on. In any case, I kind of like the full-length sleeve, but keep that in mind when creating your own. I’m only 5′ 2″ tall, so if you’re taller and longer of limb, I’m sure this will come out the right length. If you’re short like me, just don’t knit the sleeves as long as the pattern says to. It calls for you to knit them 18″ long, but you could stop at 15″ or 16″ for a shorter sleeve. Of course, if you like the full sleeve look and you’re also taller, simply add inches. That’s my favorite thing about knitting and crafting in general – you can adjust any pattern to suit your taste.

Happy stitching!

Links:

Herrshner’s online catalog Date Night Tunic kit

Cables Blanket

Cable knitting is my favorite thing in the world. I just love the look of twisty cables going every which way, and this blanket is one of my favorite patterns.

Cables Blanket

So far I’ve done this one twice, this will be my third time working this particular pattern. It is found in a small pattern booklet called Bernat Get Cozy, now out of print.

My first one was done using Red Heart Chunky in Buff (now discontinued unfortunately), the second time was done with the exact material from the original pattern, Bernat Softee Chunky in Grey Heather. My third time through is working with Northland Timbers yarn in Sycamore. The first two yarns are 100% acrylic, the Northland Timbers is 60% acrylic, 20% alpaca and 20% wool. I typically work in acrylic yarns since they’re easier to wash, but I do love to work with wool blends too. Just make sure to give the care instructions along with the finished product if you’re doing this as a gift. Nobody wants to accidentally shrink or felt a wool blanket in their washer after you put so many hours into it.

If you have found the pattern and are shopping for materials, please note that the required materials list is not correct. It calls for 12 balls of the Softee Chunky yarn, but it actually needs 22. I learned this the hard way my second time through. The Bernat Softee Chunky yarn is subject to dye lot, and I got lucky that I was able to find enough balls of the right dye lot at my local WalMart (of all places). Otherwise, I would have been forced to abandon the blanket and get the materials all over again. So use caution, and pay attention to the required yardage or ounces instead of how many balls of a certain brand it tells you to get. Other than that one mis-print, the pattern is simple enough to follow.

Worked in panels, you make 3 of panel A, and 1 each of panels B and C. Once the panels are complete, you put them together in this order: A B A C A. Panels in orderThen you simply pick up stitches along the top and bottom and sides to throw the finishing border on, and voila! You’ve got yourself a blanket!

One interesting thing to note with the panels B and C is that the seed stitch is worked right into the panel. In the written instructions, it gives instruction for eaBackgroundch individual row instead of telling you to knit the knits and purl the purls as they appear on the wrong side (like panel A). But when you get down to it, you really are knitting the knits and purling the purls as they appear on the wrong side. I think they wrote it out this way because it can otherwise be confusing. You’re only switching the stitch on the right side of the work for both the seed stitch and the sections where the cables get wider and narrower. To create the effect of the center cable stretching out for the main cable to pass through it, you’ll actually be switching from purls to knits during the cabling process and vice versa. It feels foreign the first time you do it, but by switching the stitch you’re doing behind the main cable, you don’t even see where it was switched when looking at the right side.

On my previous runs through this pattern, I did everything according to the pattern and nothing more. But the sections where the borders meet up on the sides always looked a little funny to me, and I wanted something to really set it off and make it look completely finished, I just wasn’t sure what. So on a recent visit to my grandmother, she showed me a blanket she had just finished where she did a reverse single crochet around the whole thing to finish it off and I loved the idea. It’s such a simple stitch to do, even if it feels wrong at first, and it adds a great finishing touch to any blanket. For comparison, here’s each of my finished blankets:

And a close up of the reverse single crochet edge:Reverse SC edge

I’m sure that no matter which way you decide to do this blanket and which materials you decide to use, it will be cat-approved.Shadow & Blanket

Happy stitching!