Chung Chung

That’s the Law and Order sound. Why? Because last night Casa de la On the Needles was the site of real-life crime. I came home from work and our house had been broken into. Luckily, no one was home and we’re all safe, but needless to say, it sucks big balls (of yarn).

My computer (and my set of interchangable needles!) were among the casualties, unfortunately, so I’m posting this from my phone, which is less than ideal. So, I’ll keep it short today.

Want to help? Post a picture of something awesome in the comments to make me feel better! And hopefully, I’ll be back to my regular schedule soon.

Inspiration: Bulky, Bulky Pins

As I mentioned on Friday, I’ve started Pinning (Pinteresting? Someone tell me what the proper word is!).  And, well, I can see it becoming something of a problem.  I’ve been spending way more time than I probably should poking around Pinterest and looking at all the beautiful things that I will never have time to make.

(Also, sometimes I like to look at the Everything tab.  It’s about 15% hair tutorials and makeup tips, 30% extra-calorie cheesecake recipes, 25% diet salads that “Actually taste good!,” 15% workout routines, 5% inspirational quotes, and 10% stuff I’m actually interested in.  Point in case, I just spent 20 minutes looking at “Super Simple Manicure Ideas.”  Why?  Because they were there.)

Anyway, I looked over my pin boards (is that what they’re called?)  and I found a trend in some of the knitting I’ve been pinning:  Super bulky stuff.

This scarf/shawl/shoulder blanket is part of the new Ferragamo Men’s collection, and was shown in Milan (so you know it’s chic).  I’d wear one, even though I’m not a dude.  It looks like a great long swath of stockinette, maybe knit in the round, so that there isn’t a “bad side.”

628x471And I just love this fantastically chunky Brioche Cowl from Diane L. Augustin.  Aren’t those colors to die for?  I would like to just wrap myself up in a cocoon made from this.IMG_4128_50_medium2[1]If we’re talking about chunky knitting, you can’t get much chunkier than this amazing arm-knit blanket.  It’s of super-thick yarn, but you could use slightly felted wool roving, if you wanted.  Using arm-knitting for this project is really smart; that way, you don’t have to worry abut finding knitting needles two inches in diameter.Untitled-3-copy-1024x854Well, now I’m off to dream of Pinterest and spend more time looking at a particularly interesting list of “the 52 easiest DIYs.”

On Pins and Needles

Do you Pin?  (Is that even what you’re supposed to say?)  I just started.  I’m a pinning machine.

Actually I have no idea what I’m doing.

thCAYBVE3RAs part of my New Year’s resolution to get better at social media, I resurrected the Pinterest account that I signed up for back when I began this blog.  I think I originally pinned about three things, and then forgot about it.

It’s very cool, to see everyone’s interesting, beautiful, and inspiring projects.  I love finding new stitch patterns, too.  (I gotta say, though, Pinterest is making me feel a little bit inferior about my photography skills.  I’ve got to improve on that.)

Anyway, follow me on Pinterest, and I’ll follow you back.  We can share projects and ideas and gape in awe at some of the crazy, cool things that people make.

Barbara Bretton and Novel Knitting

I love books.  I love to read them, I love to listen to them, I love to collect them, and I love to download them to my Kindle (it’s basically magic!).

I usually tend toward more “guy” types of books.  Lots of swashbuckling, dragons and evil robots.

But, sometimes I end up swinging the other direction.  The girly, romance-y, knitting-filled direction.

When I researched my post on Knit Lit, back in November, I found a book with a synopsis that I thought was pretty amazing:

Sugar Maple looks like any Vermont town, but it’s inhabited with warlocks, sprites, vampires, witches, and an ancient secret. And Chloe Hobbs, owner of Sticks & String, a popular knitting shop, has a big secret too. She’s a sorcerer’s daughter in search of Mr. Right, and she’s found him in Luke MacKenzie, a cop investigating Sugar Maple’s very first murder. Bad news is he’s 100% human, which could spell disaster for a normal future with a paranormal woman like her.

Too ridiculous not to read it, right?  (and it’s only six bucks on Amazon)

I bought Casting Spells by Barbara Bretton, and read it in about two days over Christmas break.

3109566[1]And, you know what?  It was delightful.  Maybe not high literature, but really fun.  It was a little chick-flick-y, a little bit of a cop story, and a little bit paranormal.  And, the whole book is full of goofy little knitting jokes.   The main character is introduced as she’s trying to block a particularly difficult lace shawl.  She threatens people with her US15s.  And, she has a magical bottomless basket of roving.

I even went on to read the second in the series, Laced with Magic, which was just as good.

6195236[1]If you’re looking for a new author, something a little goofy, and fun, you could do worse than the Sugar Maple Chronicles from Barbara Bretton.

Have you read anything good recently?

Pattern Spotlight: Hitchhiker

I’ve finally jumped on the bandwagon.  And, I kind of love it.

I’m probably the last knitter to make a Hitchhiker shawl.  (There are 17,685 projects up on Ravelry, and I’m pretty sure it’s been in the top 50 or so patterns for the last couple years.)

CIMG7885The Hitchhiker is a triangular (ish) shawl/scarf knit in garter stitch, which is my absolute favorite.  Garter is great for scarves, since it lays nice and flat.  Plus, it’s super warm and squishy.  (And it’s great for knitting while you read or watch TV, since you don’t have to worry about following complicated stitch patterns.)

The shawl is a long, skinny triangle, with a sawtooth border along one side, which is worked as you knit.  You begin at one point of the triangle, and just keep going until you run out of yarn, or get bored.  And the simple 8-row repeat is super easy to memorize, so it’s almost mindless (but still just interesting enough to be fun).20150112_122126_medium2[1]This project is super versatile.  You can use whatever yarn you have on hand, and whichever needles you like best.  The pattern calls for fingering weight yarn, but this would make an epic deep-winter scarf in worsted or bulky, and if you were to use teeny tiny needles and lace-weight yarn, you could make something lovely and delicate.

IMG_1979_medium2[1]I made mine with a skein of Knit Picks’ Stroll Tonal Sock Yarn in Thunderhead.  (I bought it to get the $50 free shipping, because free. Don’t judge me.  You know you’ve done it, too.)  It turned out lovely.  The sock yarn is wonderful and soft, and the hand-painted, monochromatic colors of the yarn looks great in a garter stitch.  (Sorry for the terrible picture.  The shawl was adopted out before I had time to find my real camera for a decent photo.)

WP_20150102_014I love how this shawl looks with semi-solids and self-striping yarn.  It’s so easy, and the results are spectacular.

DSC06485_medium2[2]Have you made a Hitchhiker?

The Husband Sweater: Yarn!

My husband picked out the pattern for his sweater, and the yarn, too. And here it is:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAKnit Picks Comfy Sport in Planetarium and Whisker (AKA, navy blue and gray).

Let’s just take a moment to remember the example pictures on the pattern:

img_4328_medium2_medium[1]I wonder where he got the idea for a blue and gray sweater?  A sweater with stripes is far enough out of his comfort zone, so I’m not going to raise a stink about the color choice.  (And, he is a Ravenclaw, so I suppose blue and silver is pretty on point.)

The yarn is a cotton/acrylic blend, which I usually wouldn’t use for a sweater.  But, my husband runs super warm, so anything with even a touch of wool doesn’t get worn, except on vacation to the Great White North.  So we’ll see how it works as a sweater.  Have any of you knit a sweater out of cotton?

I worked up a little swatch on size 5 needles:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI got gauge with size 5 needles, not size 7, like the pattern suggests.  Which is weird.  I’m usually a pretty average knitter, but I guess I won’t argue with the swatch gods.  Maybe it has to do with the fiber content?  Cottons don’t really stretch, but wool (like the pattern asks for) is quite stretchy.  We’ll just have to see.

Cross your fingers for me!

 

 

300!

300[1]Do you guys remember this movie?  300?  It’s about a bunch of Spartans back in ye-olde-times, running around in way too little armor and being bad-ass fighters?  I really liked it when it first came out back in college.  I just saw it again, and, sad to say, it doesn’t hold up.  Like, at all.  Oh well.  (Also, it is sadly lacking in the knitting department.)

Anyway, this is all a round-about way of saying that this is my 300th post!  Awesome, right?  To be honest, I never expected to get to this point.  But that’s pretty great.

Since starting this blog, I’ve learned a lot about writing, knitting, and the fact that I watch way too much TV.  I learned how to tweet (follow me @on_the_needles), or at least I’m learning how.  Sometimes writing to a deadline is a little stressful (even a self-imposed one), but I like having a structure that I need to follow.  It keeps my mind busy while I wallow through acres of stockinette.   And, it just tickles me pink that I get to talk about my favorite subject to hundreds of like-minded people.  I couldn’t be happier!

Thanks again for following me, and reading my yarn-induced ramblings!

So Sew Buttons

I love buttons.  I always have.  When I was little, my mom had this big tin filled with all the buttons she had collected over the years.  One of my favorite things to do was to take the Button Box from the drawer of her sewing desk and spill them out on the kitchen table.  I’d sort them by color, or texture, or size.  I’d make pictures with them, and arrange them in patterns.  I liked everything about them, even the feeling of the little buttons running through my fingers and the sound of them plinging back into their tin.

Not much has changed, to be honest.  I have my own button collection now, but it’s in a little zippered felt bag, not a tin.  And I don’t have nearly as many buttons as my mom did.

But over Christmas, I added a few more to my collection.  They are really special buttons that I’m super excited about.  My family took a little expedition to North Chicago to visit a button shop that we had heard about over a year ago.  And, I have to say, it was totally worth the wait.

The shop is called Soutache, and it sells thousands (and thousands) of buttons, miles of ribbons, and piles of rhinestones and feather trim.  I could spend an entire paycheck there if I wasn’t careful.

soutache-headerThey had buttons made from bone, from stone, from wood, from brass.  They had bright pink buttons, and inky black buttons.  Square buttons, spheres, and buttons shaped like shoes.  They had new buttons and vintage ones.  And they were all gorgeous.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI came home with these little guys.  They’re vintage half-inch brass buttons.  They almost glow in the light, and have a surprising amount of heft.  I can’t wait to put them on the slightly cropped cardigan that has been bouncing around in my brain for a while (of course, I’ll have to knit it first).   They’re pretty much perfect.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd these buttons are so cool!  They look like hand-formed aluminum, or maybe tarnished silver.  But, they’re actually made of plastic, which sounds lame, but is actually kind of perfect for a sweater.  These buttons are so light, they won’t make the front of a cardigan droop from their weight, even though they are large and impressive.  Cool, right?

In conclusion, if you’re ever in Chicago, make a point of going to Soutache.  And bring your check book.

Do you have any special buttons in your collection?

It turns out, cats really DO like yarn…

I’ve never had a cat (or a dog), and I don’t know how you knitters with animals manage it.

For real.

I spent a week at my in-laws’ house, and every time I got out my knitting, this was what happened.

WP_20141229_015*pat pat pat*

It was all cats, all the time.  They were fascinated by my knitting, and kept trying to steal my ball of yarn.  One of them even tried to eat my circular needles.

I had to be very very careful to always put away my knitting securely whenever I got up.

WP_20150101_003At one point, I had to re-skein some lovely grey sock-weight, and the cats insisted on “helping”.  I don’t even know how they figured out what I was doing.  They were on a totally different floor of the house, then, suddenly, they were there.  They must  have some sort of cat RADAR.

They are pretty dang cute, though.  So they have that going for them.

Do you have an animal trying to help with your knitting?  How do you keep your projects safe from little claws and pointy teeth?

Husband Sweater: The Beginning

This year, I didn’t even try to get my husband’s Christmas present finished in time.  I didn’t even have time to start it before Christmas.

(Sorry, Tristan.)

Instead, when we did our gift exchange, I told him my plan.  I am going to make him a sweater of his choice.

And, because the last one I made for him never gets worn (except when we go back to the Midwest for Christmas Break), I asked him to pick out everything about the project, so that he would end up with exactly the sweater he wants.

He’s typically pretty simple in his clothing choices, so I suggested a few patterns for him to start from.  He’s a big cardigan guy, so I started there:

Cambridge Jacket by Ann Budd

I could see Tristan wearing this sweater all the time.  It’s simple (almost too simple), and very manly.  No goofy colors or weird stitches.  Not even a button band.

3500883460_570d467ee9_z[1]Ranger by Jared Flood

I really like this sweater, even though it’s a little fancier.  (I actually might make this for myself.  I guess just like Jared Flood Sweaters… I’m actually wearing my Cobblestone, right now.)

Ranger1_medium2[1]But, no.  Tristan would have none of the sweaters I suggested.  He went down to his office in the basement, and looked at Ravelry for more than an hour.  (I thought he was playing Diablo… apparently not.)

And he picked out this one:

Émilien by Ariane Caron-Lacoste

img_4328_medium2_medium[1]I know!  Crazy!  Colors! Stripes! A hood!

But, as surprising as it was, he was very sure about what he wanted.  So, here we go!  A stripey, zip-up hoodie for my husband.