Choices 2020

I’ve got a dilemma.

It’s a dilemma of my own creation, because I insisted on making a sweater without actually having a plan.  I should have had a plan.

I really should have had a plan.

Now I have… this:IMG_2909

Possibly the world’s least-flattering sweater.

Ignore the sleeve situation for a second, and let me walk you through what happened.

My original thought was to knit up a stash-busting sweater using the lace-weight alpaca that I’ve had in my stash for literal years.  I love all the colors, but haven’t had the time/energy for lace since… the early 2000s.  I actually knit up a swatch with the yarn held triple, and it seemed like it was going to work.  The first plan was to make a cropped, over-sized sweater, in the vein of the Love Note.  Super cute and trendy.

Well, I got carried away (a combination of quarantine blues and some good Netflix shows), and before I knew it, I had a hip-length sweater.  Not what I planned, but hey, that’s ok.

I tried it on.  It fit… well enough.  Even though I did a swatch, I forgot to factor in the inherent drapiness of alpaca.  It’s really kind of shapeless and droopy.  Don’t get me wrong… it’s real comfortable and soft, but not the most flattering thing ever.

It was time to tackle the sleeves.  My first thought was to just make it into a T-shirt- something trendy and cute, and something I could wear sooner than later with summer on the way.  I threw a quick short sleeve on the sweater.  I tried it on…

Y’all.  It was so wide across the shoulders (WAY too many raglan increases), that the armpit hits just a couple inches above my elbow.  It looks OK enough if I keep my arms down, but if I lift them up, I get a weird bat-wing look (and not in a good way).

So, I decide to make the other sleeve long.  I use my usual long sleeve formula,  and make it up in a weekend.

I’ve got big hopes.  I try it on.  Ugh.

It’s… fine, but way baggier than I hoped.  If I really want the sweater to be how I’m now imagining it, I have to rip it all the way back past the armpits and try again, and I’m just not feeling that now.

So, I’m asking you:  What should I do?

Long sleeve? Short sleeve?  Re-knit the long sleeve so it’s narrower?  Give up and walk around with one long sleeve like a crazy person?  Give up entirely?

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(Don’t mind my dog and my kid barking at the cars driving by…  It was a day.)

Have you ever gotten almost to the end of a project, just to realize you did it all wrong?

New Pattern: Stanwood Shawl

We might all still be stuck inside, but that doesn’t mean I can’t get excited about bringing you a new pattern!

Introducing: the Stanwood Shawl, in the new collection from Knit Picks, Vivid!

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I’m really pleased with how this one turned out!  It’s a lovely, squishy, garter-stitch scarf/shawl hybrid that features contrasting stripes along one edge and short-row points.  It features a slightly curved shape, which lets it settle gently around the shoulders.  And, best of all I love the way it lets you play with color.  Mix and match your favorite 3 (or more!) skeins of sock yarn, and see how they play together.  Fun!

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Plus, it’s nice and long.  If you’re more of a scarf person than a shawl person- it’s perfect!

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(Also, I gotta say, Knit Picks have some fun, bright designs in this collection.  Definitely check it out!)

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Head over and grab a copy of the Stanwood Shawl here!

Lessons

I have finished my weaving project, and I’m pleased to report that everything went a lot more smoothly once I had my loom warped correctly (and the 2-year-old was napping).

I’m pretty pleased with how the fabric turned out.  I used a mystery teal wool (maybe Cascade 220?) for the warp and some beige-y Knit Picks Alpaca Cloud DK for the weft.  The finished project (I guess it’s a scarf) is lovely and drape-y and soft.  It’s probably not the color combo I would have reached for in an ideal world, but it’s pretty enough, and used up yarn that has been sitting in my stash since (probably) the last decade.

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However, this process had taught me a few things:

  1. READ THE INSTRUCTIONS.  Still kicking myself about the warp situation.  (I’m not going to read the instructions next time.)
  2. Weaving goes so much faster than knitting!  I made a whole scarf in, like 2 days.
  3. Weaving burns through yarn so much faster than knitting!  I used up 3 whole skeins (sure, 2 of them were fairly small, but still!).  Definitely something to think about when trying to downsize my stash!
  4. I really like the edging stitch/tassel combo on this one.  I’ve never done an edging stitch before, and like how it turned out.  It was real satisfying, and made the scarf look nice and professional (unlike the rest of the piece).IMG_2888
  5. I’m not great at weaving.  Like, I know the basics and was able to make a chunk of fabric, but it’s certainly not even row-to-row, and it has a weird curve to the left.  My current guess is that I did something funky (obviously) when warping, and made the yarn too tight on one side.IMG_2897
  6. I realized that I don’t really know what to do with woven fabric (other than make scarves).  I mean… table runners (scarves for furniture), place mats (short scarves for furniture), coasters (tiny scarves for furniture), and bookmarks (even tinier scarves, but for books), but other than that… I’m not sure.  Can you cut this kind of woven fabric and sew it?  Would it fall apart?  Any ideas or resources would be greatly appreciated!

Well, it was a fun little project, and definitely something I need more practice with.  I should go digging in my stash to find more forgotten yarn.  Maybe everyone gets woven scarves for Christmas this year…

Have you tried any new projects during lockdown?

And now for something completely different

I’ve reached the part of quarantine where I decide that warping a loom with the “help” of a 2-year-old is a good idea.

It is not a good idea.

Especially when the last time you warped a loom was maybe 4 years ago (I’m honestly not sure).

I thought I had the right idea, kind of glanced at the pictures in the instruction book, and barreled ahead while the kid was being as non-destructive as possible.

Anyway, here’s “Warping a Loom: A photo essay.”

  1.  I was feeling cocky- I had done it!  I remembered what to do, and had managed to do it with my toddler in the room with me!  Isn’t he cute!  Isn’t the loom lovely!IMG_2857
  2. Oh no!  I just realized the yarn on the left side of the loom (in the picture) is supposed to go over the big bar, not under it.  (Note: I’m sure there’s a name for the bar on the left side of the loom, but as has been established, I didn’t read the instructions, so I have no idea what the name is.)IMG_2858
  3. Panic.  I really don’t want to undo all the knots and threading each bit of yarn through the heddle again, so I decide that the easier thing to do will be to literally take the loom apart and put it back together around the yarn, instead of the other way around.  I dig out this weirdly patriotic screwdriver.IMG_2859
  4. I take the loom apart carefully, with “help” from the kid.  He’s very interested in tools.IMG_2860
  5. I put the loom back together, with more help.  He’s very helpful.IMG_2863
  6. It looks good!  The kid tests it for strength.  Seems OK.IMG_2864
  7. Victory! (Hubris!)IMG_2868
  8. Oh wait…  The yarn is all supposed to be even, now that I fixed the loom!  Why aren’t they even??IMG_2873
  9. Oh.  The warp is supposed to go over the bar on this side too.   Good thing I haven’t put away the screwdriver yet…IMG_2874
  10. Fixed (part 2).  And I’m pretty sure it’s fixed for certain, this time.IMG_2876
  11. Oh yeah… look at those lovely lined-up threads.  And it only took me twice as long as it should have!IMG_2878

The moral of the story: Read the directions, even if you’re sure you know what you’re doing.  (You don’t know what you’re doing.)

Still Sweatering

I had planned to write today’s post about my Lovenote Sweater that I finished more than a month ago, and that I really love.  Honestly, I’m not sure why I haven’t posted about it yet, other than that I forgot because of *gestures vaguely* all this.  I had really high hopes.  I was going to get dressed in something other than pajama pants, brush my hair, maybe even put on a bit of makeup to hide the stress zits, and have my husband take a couple pictures of me in my (not so) new sweater.

That was earlier this week.  Now, I’m just kinda tired, and don’t feel like it. It just seems like a lot of work to change my outfit.  You get it.

So, instead, I want to share my progress on my Quarantine Sweater.  I’m cruising along, a good 10 inches or so into the body.  I had been thinking about making this sweater cropped, like my Lovenote, but honestly I forgot I was supposed to stop after a couple inches.  So I just kept going.  Now we’re a stripe or two away from a nice long sweater. IMG_2852

I love how the gradient is turning out, though a part of me wishes that I’d gone through the effort to plan it out a little more carefully so that I just did one pass-through for the entire sweater.  And I think it’ll be a good spring-y sweater when it’s done (still, hopefully, in spring).

I’m currently thinking of making it hip length, or longer, but maybe with T-shirt sleeves.  Is that crazy?

(Though, if the sleeves go the way the body’s gone, I’ll probably space out and make them a good 6 inches too long…)

Quarantine Sweater

So, I’m putting my socks (er… sock) in time out for a little bit.  I can’t face ripping out an entire sock, and I can’t face knitting up a second sock that I know for a fact isn’t going to fit.

I also can’t really muster up the energy to dig through my stash and match up a specific pattern to the yarn that I’ve got on hand.  That just seems like way too much effort for right now.

I do, however, have just a ton of Knit Pick’s Alpaca Cloud lace-weight yarn.  Why? I have no idea.  I think the last time I knit with lace-weight yarn was somewhere in the middle of the Obama administration.  (Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice yarn, just not what I usually reach for these days.)

But, I finished my Lovenote (which I just realized I haven’t shared with you yet!), which was knit with finer yarn held double on large needles, which gave me an idea.  I set out my stashed Alpaca Cloud in a rainbow(ish) and started swatching on US10 1/2s.  (See, I learn from my mistakes.  Sometimes.)

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I decided that holding the yarn double made fabric that was still a little too skimpy, so I tripled-up, and came up with something that was light but fluffy, cozy but drape-y.

I busted out my favorite Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters by Ann Budd, and started on a raglan sweater.  It’s not fancy in the design; no crazy textures or lace, no weird construction, just big blocks of color.  I’m holding the yarn triple, so every block, I switch out one color, which has left me with a rather pleasant color gradient so far.

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I’d originally thought about measuring out how long the sweater was going to be and making the stripes even all the way down, but… meh.  Instead, I’m kind of just knitting until I get bored, then switching.

What will the rest of the sweater look like? Who knows!  Will it be long or cropped or somewhere in the middle?  I dunno!  Will it have waist shaping or tapered sleeves? Maybe?

It’s kinda fun to go into a sweater with literally no idea of what it’s going to end up looking like.  I always go from a pattern, or at least a sketch of what I want the finished project to be, so it’s a nice change of pace and a nice project to have on my needles in this weird, weird time.

What’s your quarantine knitting?

 

And this is why you swatch.

OK.  Mistakes were made.

I was all stoked last week about making myself a pair of comfy socks.

Mistake 1-  After going on and on about all of those lovely, tried-and-true sock patterns, I decided to go off script.  Why?  Who knows?

Mistake 2- I decided to make the socks cabled.  Why?  When have I ever made cabled socks that weren’t a disaster?  Never.  Cables are the best- I love them.  They make wonderful, dense fabric that’s extra-thick and cozy.  I don’t want extra-thick fabric on my socks.  They have to fit inside shoes.

Mistake 3- I didn’t swatch.  Like an idiot.

Actually, I kinda did swatch.  I swatched the pattern (with different needles and different yarn).  IMG_2820I was thinking about using the cable design in a sweater or something, but I decided after I was finished with the swatch that it would be better for a sock.  I still maintain these are very cute socks.  But compared to my usual sock gauge, they’re way off.

Mistake 4- When I first started thinking I’d made a mistake, I just kept going.

About 3 inches in, I thought “Huh.  These are looking a little slim.”  But did I stop? No!  That would have involved admitting defeat, and having to problem-solve.

Anyway, long story short, I have one sock.  It’s a lovely sock.  It’s tall and blue and has a cute all-over cable pattern.IMG_2828

And it’s nowhere close to fitting me.  I’d show it to you on my foot, but you don’t need to see that.  Just trust that the cables are stretched beyond recognition and it barely stretches over my calf.  It’s real sad.

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Now I just have to decide what to do next.  Do I rip it back, and go back to a tried-and-true pattern?  Do I continue and work up a second one in the same pattern, and give it away to a smaller-footed friend? Do I ball it up and leave it at the back of my WIP drawer until I forget how I made it?

All equally good choices, I think.

What would you do?

Inspiration: Comfort Socks

I don’t know about you, but I know that I’ve needed a little extra comfort these days.  Frankly, the only time I’ve been able to leave the house in the last 4 (5? 6? 10,000?) weeks has been to take my kid on a walk around the neighborhood.  He insists on walking, refusing the stroller or the wagon, but he’s (almost) 2, so we don’t go far.  I couldn’t tell you what Seattle is like outside of our neighborhood, but I can tell you where all the points of interest for a 2-year-old are, including:

  • The Cow Mailbox
  • The house with an owl decoy in the middle of the yard for some reason
  • All the good puddles
  • The house with the plastic dinosaurs in the yard
  • Two chicken coops
  • The “Unicorn Car” (It’s a mustang, but the kid is really into unicorns right now, and he insists on finding all the “unicorns” whenever we walk by the car.)
  • All the “Train Tracks” (The cement retaining walls that he likes to walk along.)
  • Where the mail-carrier parks his truck every morning

We have fun.

But, while I’m wandering the neighborhood with the kiddo, looking for kitty-cats to try to pet/harass, I always wish I had a little something extra comforting (and comfortable).

And, for me, that’s new knit socks.

A good pair of knit socks, fresh off the needles is one of the best things I could imagine right now.  I’ve already worn the ones I finished last week at least 3 days in a row (gross? Maybe.  Comfy? Definitely.), and I think I’m going to go to town on another pair as soon as I get myself together enough to start a new project.

I might make myself a pair of Hermione’s Everyday Socks by Erica Lueder.  They’re classic- a subtle knit-purl pattern, sturdy, cozy, and utterly practical (in a good way!).  A great way to use special yarn that you really want to show off.

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Or I could use up some scraps with my old favorite, the Broken Seed Stitch Socks by Hanna Leväniemi.  Super cute, and way more complicated-looking than they actually are to work up.  If you can knit, purl, and manage 1-row stripes in the round, you’re golden!

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Or, I could really go back to the classics, and knit one of the first pairs of socks that I ever successfully finished .  Monkey Socks by Cookie A!  These were the first really nice, non-frustrating pair of socks I ever knit.  (I wore them into the ground, then made several more pairs with the same pattern.)  They’re just lacy enough to be fun, without making them delicate or more prone to wearing out.  Perfect socks, in my opinion.

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I’m not sure yet which one I want to knit, but I do know that I’d wear the heck out of any of these socks right now!

What’s your favorite comfort-knitting pattern?

Hey! I finished something!

Y’all, I think I might have my mojo back.  Or at least partly back.  Or at least it’s back sometimes. Or maybe it was just back for a few afternoons last week.

Either way, I’ve got a brand-new pair of socks, and I’m beyond excited about them.

Right before the “unpleasantness,” my husband and I took a long weekend trip down to Austin- it was lovely, and feels like it was fifteen years ago.  And, as I’ve said before, when I go on a trip, I’ve got to visit the local yarn shop and get a skein (or two) of local sock yarn.  Some people collect shot glasses, some collect tiny spoons.  I collect locally-dyed sock yarn.

We went to Hill Country Weavers and I picked up two lovely skeins of Chasing Rabbits Fiber Company Fern yarn- which is a really lovely, buttery-soft sock yarn.  I got one skein in purple and one in grey/turquoise.  They’re both lovely, and I forgot to take pictures of the skeins before I broke into them.  Oh well.

Anyway, I got impatient and started knitting my purple socks on the airplane ride home.(Remember airplanes?  Those were fun…) I happened to have the ebook of Splendid Soles on my phone (I have a pattern in the collection, so I’d downloaded it at some point for work).  So, I picked a pattern and… Tada!

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The pattern is Textured Lace Socks by Lori Wagner, and I love it.  It was complicated enough to keep me engaged, but logical enough to let me memorize the lace after a couple repeats.   Unfortunately the hand-dyed-ness of the yarn kind of hides the lace pattern (especially in pictures), but it’s so pretty, I kind of don’t mind.

I’ll be honest, I pretty much stopped following the pattern as written once I got to the heel, but that’s because I like to knit my heels and toes in a particular way, so I just did what I usually do, continuing the lace down the top of the foot.

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I couldn’t be happier with them.  And they’re just what I needed this week.  Nothing to make you feel cozy and content like a pair of new socks.

What are you working on to make yourself feel better?

Oof.

And I thought last week was wild…

Well, we’re now “Sheltering in Place,” and I haven’t been out of the house (other than daily walks with my kiddo around the block) in a couple weeks.  Social media is stressing me out, but it’s also the only way I can keep in touch with everyone, so I feel like I can’t just ignore it.  It’s not been great.  (Though, again, we’re safe and healthy, we haven’t lost our jobs, and we are in a really good place to weather this storm.)

When we first went into quarantine, I thought “Sweet!  I’ll get so much knitting done!  I”ll make a new sweater for the kid, and for me, and for my husband.  I’ll do some designing, and maybe self-publish a pattern or two.” But to be honest, I haven’t done any of that.  I have barely even picked up my needles.

IMG_2725.JPGNot to say I haven’t been productive, in other ways.  I’ve done a ton of yard work, I’ve constructed a tent in the living room from our neighbor’s bamboo, string and blankets, and I’ve built more LEGO houses, tunnels and trains than I could count. But, I haven’t really been knitting.

I think it’s the quiet, meditative, part of knitting that makes it hard for me to sit down with my needles right now.  I don’t want to be still and quiet.  I want to be out in the back yard with a saw and a pickax and a shovel.

But, I know this will pass, and soon enough I will want to pick up my needles again and finish up that pair of socks I started as a “fun” project right before this whole thing went down.  The day will come when sitting quietly on the couch with a cup of tea sounds calming, and not anxiety-provoking.  And it will probably come soon.  I just have to be OK with it taking a little time.

After all, the socks will be there waiting whenever I’m ready.

What are you doing during all this at-home time?