Caption Knitting

I’ve been cruising through my quilt (or as much as you can cruise through a quilt… it’s such. so. going), but I’ve hit a bump in the road. And it’s not the bump that I expected.

The bump is that we’ve started watching Dark on Netflix. We’re only a couple episodes in, but I’m hooked. (I know, it’s a show from 3 years ago, so it’s not like I’m on the cutting edge or anything.) But it’s a very well-made show; beautiful, well-acted and really compelling. I’m a sucker for a unique sci-fi show, especially a time-travel story.

But here’s the thing. It’s in German.

I took German in high school, and still remember enough to ask for directions or order dinner, given enough time and a German-English dictionary, but watching (and understanding) a TV show? That’s beyond me.

Which means we have to bust out the closed captions. And that means my eyes have to be glued to the TV. And that means, no quilting for me.

So, I’ve started a new project, just for working on while watching Dark.

It’s a super simple shawl, featuring lots of garter stitch and a really simple repeating pattern for shaping. I’ve based it more or less on the Deep Winter Shawl by Lisa Metzgar. I started by actually following the pattern, but somehow got lost (I blame the closed captions), so I just kinda kept going.

I’m really enjoying my new show, and my new knitting. It’s coming along pretty well, and I think it’s going to be a nice little shawl/scarf when it’s done. Just interesting enough to be fun, but simple enough that it won’t interrupt my TV show (much).

Do you have a dedicated TV project?

Stitching (Instead)

So you guys know I’ve been trying to finish up abandoned projects and use up yarn that’s been languishing in my stash for far too long. I’ve made some progress. It’s kind of satisfying, if I’m being honest. I do like finishing things.

But if we’re talking about unfinished projects, there’s one that I can’t ignore. The Grand Kahuna of WIPs. The White Whale of UFOs.

One major project that’s been languishing for far (far, far, far) too long.

It’s been in my studio since… before we moved (almost 7 years ago), and honestly, probably several years before that. If you told me this was a 10-year-old project, I would believe you.

And the ridiculous part? It’s probably been about 75% finished for the better part of a decade.

It’s my monster quilt.

It’s huge- about 80″ square. No idea why I picked that size. It’s not a standard bed/quilt size, and it’s freaking huge! I don’t know where I got the design, or if there was a pattern, or why I picked the colors I did (yellow is not a color I usually gravitate to…). But, I know I put the quilt top together, made the sandwich, basted the layers together did about half of the quilting before I got bored/distracted and forgot about the quilt. Every few months/years I’d see it in my closet and go, “Huh… I should work on that,” then forget about it again.

At the beginning of quarantine, I really started to buckle down on this project, alternating hand-quilting a square or two with working up a baby sweater sleeve or a few inches of scarf. It’s coming along, I’ve only got about 9 more squares to go (plus the edges and sewing on the binding… but let’s not dwell on that yet).

It’s a satisfying project, but if I ever say I want to make a quilt again, maybe don’t let me…

Have you ever actually finished a ridiculous unfinished project?

I MADE SOME YARN!

I usually try to write something clever, or at least do a little funny intro to my posts, but the only thing I can say today is:

I MADE SOME YARN!

YOU CAN BUY IT!

IT’S SUPER PRETTY!

A few months ago (actually, quite a few months ago, because apparently it takes a while to manufacture yarn), I collaborated with KnitPicks to design a couple colorways of their eternal-favorite self-striping sock yarn, Felici, and my yarn has just become available!!

My skeins are the bottom two- the bright, multi-colored ones! They’re both inspired my my (sometimes unrequited) love of gardens and gardening. (They both had garden-y names when I designed them, but I guess the KP marketing folks decided to rename them… who knows?)

The first one, Dragonboat, is a mix of greens and bright red, yellow and orangey-pink, the colors of my favorite zinnias, which always remind me of a summer garden. Not my summer garden, since all my zinnias are kind of sad and stunted this year, but still.

My other skein, Fiesta, is inspired by my neighbor’s garden. She’s a much better gardener than I am, and her yard is always teeming with vibrant dahlias, powder-blue hydrangeas, vivid roses and golden sunflowers.

I can’t wait to see the yarn in person- my skeins are en route as we speak! I think I’m going to start with a classic pair of stockinette socks, but then who knows where I’ll go… hats for everyone? A stripey sweater for the kid? The sky’s the limit!

Grab your skeins here!

Instant Gratification

I’ve been all about instant gratification these days, in my knitting and in my day-to-day life. (I may have eaten an entire pan of brownies in the last 3 days. Don’t judge me.)

I set out all these goals at the beginning of quarantine that I was going to use this forced downtime to finish up projects that I’d been putting off/forgotten about. I was going to use up my stash yarn- after all, it’s not like I can just pop down to the LYS. And I have been responsible… somewhat. I’ve finished my shawl, and some socks, and have actually resurrected a quilt that I started working on almost 10 years ago (more on that later). But the last few weeks, all I want is a fun, quick, easy project in a soft yarn and a pretty color.

Luckily, I have/had a whole bunch of Knit Picks Provincial Tweed in my stash (one of my favorite yarns for baby clothes), and a couple of pregnant friends.

That can only mean one thing- more Flax Lights!

That’s right, I’ve dived right in and knit three more Flax Lights one after the other. Two were in the smallest size for new babies due this fall, and one in size 4-6 for my kid, who’s already on the edge of outgrowing his red sweater, even though he’s just over 2… he’s a lanky kid that won’t stop growing! (The big sweater is currently being worn by my kid who should be napping, but is rolling around his crib like a wild man.)

I think I’ve now knit…6? I think? Flax Lights for my kid and friends’ kids. They’re kind of the perfect baby sweater. There’s no buttons to fuss with. The back and front are the same, so you don’t have to worry about which way you put it on. The neck-hole is really generous (important if your kid has a melon like mine does). And it’s a quick, easy knit. I can do a baby size in about a week (a couple days if I put my mind to it).

And, the yarn I’ve been using (Provincial Tweed) is just a dream for kids clothes. It’s super machine-washable and dry-able(!). I’ve washed my kid’s sweater probably a dozen times and it just looks better and better. The yarn is super soft, perfect for sensitive kiddos. And (this might be gross), since it’s a tweed, it hides dirt surprisingly well if you can’t quite get to the laundry as quick as you want. (Note: it’s marketed as a worsted weight, but honestly, it’s more of a DK or even a sport. It’s perfect for this pattern, with no substitutions/alterations, but it’s important to know if you’re planning using it to sub for a different, worsted-weight yarn.)

Plus, now I have a whole herd of little kids/babies running around Seattle in matching blue sweaters! Adorable!

New Pattern(s)! Puget Hat

It’s new pattern time!

Actually, it was new pattern time two (three?) months ago… Things have slipped through the cracks, what with everything going on. But hey! That doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate a new pattern.

Actually, 2 new patterns!

That’s right, today I’ve got not one, well, two, but kind of just one cute little hat(s)- The Puget Hat in Fingering and Worsted!

They’re both simple bottom-up beanies with a big panel of cabling on one side. But, the big difference between the two patterns (as you might have guessed) is gauge and yarn requirements.

The fingering-weight hat is a really great light hat for cool fall nights when you just need a little something extra to stay warm, but the worsted hat is perfect for the depth of winter, and will keep you toasty even in the snowiest months of the year.

I love the decrease details at the top. Instead of a typical, boring decrease pattern, this hat features an X-shaped decrease scheme, a super-cute detail that’s surprisingly easy to work.

Check in your stash to see what extra skeins you have waiting, then head over to Knit Picks to grab the Puget Hat: Fingering or the Puget Hat: Worsted!

And now, socks!

I’m continuing on my streak of “Finishing off projects that should have been done weeks ago if I’d only not been a doofus” with my newest pair of socks.

If you’ll remember, I had some special yarn from a trip to Austin. It’s a lovely gray-blue handpaint, super soft and cozy that I was really excited to knit with. So excited that I decided to knit up a whole improvised cable sock without doing a swatch.

And, exactly what you’d expect to happen happened.

The sock was tiny and depressing, too small for me to even consider wearing. I thought about making a second one to match and finding someone with smaller feet to wear them, but, well, I wanted to wear them.

So, after a few weeks in time out, I ripped out the tiny sock, lightly blocked the yarn to make it lose its kink, and went back to my original plan- Monkey Socks. I’ve made this pattern a bunch of times before, and I don’t know why I decided against it this time. It’s simple, effective, and super cute. Plus, they fit me!

I’m really happy with how they turned out. I did my favorite reinforced heel and made them a little longer than suggested, but they’re perfect for me.

However, I had a bear of a time taking a flattering picture of them, so you’ll have to trust me when I say they look great!

Do you have a favorite go-to pattern that’s always turns out the way you want?

Treasure

Something wild happened the other day.

I’ve been cleaning out my studio (because what else are we supposed to do while still on lockdown?), and I’ve been discovering a bunch of half-finished projects.  I found part of an afghan from 2013 (according to Ravelry), and two quilts in various stages of completion (one’s easily a decade old.  I think I started it when I first moved to Seattle…).

And, I found a baby sweater!  It was 99% finished.  The ends were even woven in.  It was so cute and tiny, and just was missing a few buttons and a block.

And I have ZERO memory of making it. I don’t know the yarn or the pattern, or when I made it or why. All I know is that it must have been made way before I had my kid, because it’s white.  And who in their right mind would make a white baby sweater?  Me, apparently.

But it’s so cute!

It’s got kind of a “1950s Letterman’s sweater” vibe and just needed buttons.  I went digging through my button jar, and found 4 different sets, two sizes of white buttons, and two sets of gold ones (eagles and lions).

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After a little debate between me and myself, I decided the lions were too perfect not to use.  They’re a slightly warmer color than the eagles, and just so ridiculous. (Unfortunately, they’re completely impossible to photograph.  You’ll just have to trust that they’re lions.)

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And so, with about 15 minutes’ work (plus blocking time, I’ve got an instant preppy baby sweater!

Now just to wait for someone to have a baby (who doesn’t mind doing laundry).

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Have you ever left a project unfinished for so long that you forgot all about it?

Finally Finished!

I’ve had a little run of… we’ll say “projects that haven’t been too successful.”  There were the socks that ended up three sizes too small, the woven scarf that took a left turn (literally) and the sweater that didn’t go to plan.  What with *vaguely gesturing* everything that’s happening, it just seemed to make sense that none of my knitting is working out either.  This whole spring/summer/year seems cursed.

Anyway, with all that, I decided I needed to finish something.  I have had my Stonecroft shawl literally sitting on my desk, looking at me for a good 4 months now.  It was basically done, except that I had lost yarn chicken while binding off the last 10 or so stitches.  I got frustrated with it, couldn’t decide how to fix it, and just… let it sit there.

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So, last weekend I decided NO! I’m going to finish something.  And it’s going to be successful, by god!  I ripped out a couple rows and re-bound-off.  (I had been toying with the idea of ripping way back to make the border wider, but I couldn’t bring myself to do that.  A decision I’m glad I made.)

And, within an evening, I had finished the project that had been sitting, teasing me for months.

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I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out- I’m not even mad at the slightly-narrower-than-called-for border.  It’s lovely, and I’m so pleased with how it turned out.

Of course, now that I’ve finished it, the weather has turned and I have no use for a cozy shawl…  But isn’t that always the way?

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Have you finished any projects lately?

Black Lives Matter

Y’all.  It’s been a really long week.  I think for everyone.

(Fair warning, I’m not going to talk about knitting this week.  I usually try to keep my personal politics out of the blog, but sometimes you just can’t do that.  If I didn’t mention everything that’s been going on, it would be the next thing to dishonesty.  If you’re not up for it, feel free to come back next week.)

It’s hard for me to know what to say, and since I’m a very white person, in a very white part of the country, working in a very white industry, I know my perspective on the events of the last week/month/year/entire history of our country is not necessarily what we need right now.

But, since I have this platform, regardless of how small it may be, I wanted to stand up and say that black lives matter, and the systematic racism in the United States (especially in the police force) is just not acceptable.  It’s horrifying that we had to lose so many lives, to have so many examples of the inhuman treatment of black and brown Americans at the hands of the police before we as the (white) community said “no more.”  I’m ashamed of my community’s (and my own) inaction and complacency, and deeply disturbed that this has been the norm for so many without me really registering what has been going on.

But me wallowing in my feelings isn’t going to do much.  I (and everyone else who wants change) have to get in gear and change our behavior.

Here’s what I’m doing/planing to do:

  1. Give money.  We’re lucky enough to have some extra cash, so we’ve donated to our local chapter of Black Lives Matter and supported our local bail fund to help folks who can’t otherwise afford bail stay out of jail (especially important in a pandemic).
  2. Educate myself.  I’m going to watch, read and listen to black voices tell their stories and history.  I consider myself a pretty well-educated person, but the little I’ve learned in the last week has really shown me how much of a blind spot I have when it comes to black and brown history in America. These lists seem like a good place to start:
  3. Protest, sign petitions and generally stay more on top of current events.  I’m not able to go to protests right now, but I’m going to be doing my best to make up for it by doing whatever activism I can from my computer.  I will follow activists and organizations that support the Black Lives Matter movement on social media (and actually read what they are saying, not just pass them by).  I will stay updated by listening to reputable news outlets and paying attention to the sourcing on stories that I see online.  I will keep an eye out for anything that I can help with- I know I’m just one person, but sometimes just one more person, one more call, or one more signature is all it takes.
  4. Pay more attention to how I’m raising my kid.  Like I mentioned above, we live in a very white neighborhood in a very white city.  I hadn’t paid too much attention to how that’s been impacting my kid or my parenting.  In the last week, I’ve realized that almost all his (human-ish) toys are white, or white-passing, and he only has a handful of books that feature characters of color.  Sure, most of his toys are trucks, and most of his books are about animals, but that’s just an excuse.  I’m going to start expanding the diversity of his experience as much as possible (which, because of quarantine, is pretty much just toys and books).  He’s going to grow up to be a white man, and I want him to be as empathetic and aware of his country’s history as possible.  (Yes, I know he’s just 2 right now, but it’s not too early to start thinking about.)  If you’re raising small kids in a similar situation, I’ve been recommended these, which I intend to read/watch:

Thanks for listening to my “To-Do” list.  It feels like it isn’t enough, but it’s a start.  Let me know what you’re planning to do to help our country grow and become better.

Stay safe, be kind to each other and yourselves.

(Also, I would like to apologize if last week’s post’s timing seemed insensitive.  I usually write the blog a week or more before it posts- you never know what life’s going to throw at you with a toddler/pandemic/national civil unrest.  I didn’t get a chance to change last week’s post until after it had gone live, and wasn’t able to collect my thoughts enough to sit and type a post until today (June 5th).  Thank you for bearing with me.)

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?