Sweater!

So, I’ve been whining about wanting to do a sweater, but not having enough time/energy/yarn to knit a sweater.

Well. Turns out that, while I don’t have the time or energy to make a sweater, I do, in fact have the yarn for it.

And when has being low on time or energy ever stopped me from starting a project? Never.

I really dug deep into the stash this time, and found about 8 skeins of Wool of the Andes in Sapphire Heather (one of my favorite colorways). I say “about” because a couple of the skeins had already been partially used. On what? Who knows.

And I found a big hank of handspun that I made years ago. I don’t remember how many yards it is, it’s very inconsistent in weight (and not on purpose), and I have no memory of what the fiber content was. But it’s a very pretty blend of blues, greens and purples that I love, but is entirely impossible to photograph.

Well, I thought they looked nice together. They’re roughly similar weights on average, and, when combined, they probably have enough yardage for a sweater.

So, I got to swatching, and I have to say, I’m pleasantly surprised with how it turned out. I did a quick 2×2 stripe, which I figured would be the easiest way to combine the yarns together for maximum yarn usage with the least fuss/planning.

I’m excited to get started. Now to figure out what I’m actually going to do with this…

New Pattern: Comfort Mittens

It’s really been a while. Or at least, that’s what it feels like. But, I’ve got a shiny new pattern for you guys!

It’s a super-cozy, oversized, cabled to the gills, just right for the middle of February pair of mittens!

Everyone say hi to the Comfort Mittens! (“Hi, Comfort Mittens!”)

These bad boys are so cozy and warm, and nice and long (because who wants cold, drafty wrists?), perfect of the bitter winter weather we’ve been having. I love the simple-to-execute, but impressive-looking cables on the back. Would you believe they’re worked with only 2 different crossovers?!

These mittens are worked in the round from the cuff up, with an afterthought thumb and a fully-charted cable on the back. The yarn they use is Knit Picks’ Twill, which might be my favorite yarn they sell. It’s super plush and cozy, and also wears (and washes) like a dream. Perfect for mittens.

So, hop on over to the Knit Picks website to grab yourself a copy of the pattern, or why not treat yourself to the whole (equally-cozy) collection?

Grateful 8

Y’all. It’s been a year. Actually, it’s been 8 years. Which… I can hardly wrap my head around.

Last year, I was shocked to have made it 7 years, and surprised I’d kept up the blog and pattern writing with a kid in tow.

Well… HA! Now I’ve got two kids and have managed to keep everything going during a pandemic. Which is, frankly, deeply shocking.

(Apologies for the terrible photoshop… I usually make myself a “birthday candle” for anniversary posts, but I’m in the process of moving all my stuff to the basement (the baby has taken over my office), and I have no idea where the supplies for this are. Let’s just say, my papercraft skills are far superior to my digital art skills.)

Anyway,

Pros of being a knitter during a year(s) long pandemic:

  1. Easy to keep busy.
  2. You can’t have an existential crisis and learn German Short Rows at the same time.
  3. A great excuse to use up your stash.
  4. Plenty of time to burn through your audiobook/Netflix cues.
  5. Knitting really lends itself to the whole “Preparing for the end of the world” vibe. (Might I add, I also took up vegetable gardening and making my own jam this year.)

Cons of being a knitter during a pandemic:

  1. Knitting seems like the only way to keep busy.
  2. It’s freaking hard to stay creative while also trying not to let the dread creep in.
  3. I’ve managed to use up almost all the “good” yarn in my stash, and I haven’t been in a real LYS since March.
  4. I’m basically through all the shows and books I wanted to read (Seriously… any recommendations?)
  5. You know… just being in a pandemic isn’t great.

Anyway. It’s been a hell of a year. I’m glad I’m still knitting. I’m glad I’m still blogging. And, I’m glad I’m still writing patterns (albeit less frequently). It’s nice having at least one small thing that’s been “normal” this year.

Keep on knitting on.

Scraps have never been this cozy

Like I’ve said, I’m starting to have to get really creative with my stash usage the last few months. Which is kind of fun, if I keep myself in the right headspace. It’s like a puzzle, and not a depressing reminder that I haven’t gotten to go shopping in almost a year.

For example, I pulled out the leftovers from my Soldotna Sweater from last year. A half skein (or less) of four fairly disparate colors. I had the most of the blue and the variegated pink, with a small amount of gray and just a smidge of purple. It’s Tosh DK, which is one of my favorite yarns- so cozy and soft with such great colors! Sure, I had only about 200 grams total, but I knew I had be able to do something with it.

I sat down to swatch and decide what I wanted to do, when my husband asked what I was making. I said I wasn’t sure yet- maybe mittens or a hat, or maybe another cowl. And he got a funny look on his face and asked, “Why not just make socks?” I explained that the yarn was a little to thick for socks- that they’d end up more like slippers and probably wouldn’t really fit inside of shoes. He gave me another funny look, like he didn’t believe my excuses.

Long story short, it turns out that he wanted a pair of extra-cozy slipper-socks, but was too polite to ask. He’s been working from home in our (apparently quite cold) basement since spring, and he needed something extra cozy for his toes.

He picked the colors he liked best, and I made some suggestions about color placement, and away I went.

I worked the socks toe up, to get the most out of every last inch of yarn, but based the sock design on tincanknits’ Little Squirrel socks (a basic turned-heel sock with a mistake-rib cuff).

I’ve still got the second sock’s cuff to work up, and the colors aren’t necessarily the ones I would have picked, had I had a whole yarn store to choose from. But, I really like how they’re turning out. (The mistake ribbing on the cuff is especially satisfying!)

And they’re undeniably cozy.

What’s the coziest thing you’ve worked on recently?

And It’s Done

Well, that was fun while it lasted. I know it wasn’t a full-on sweater. Obviously. But still! I thought that my Ben-ish Cowl would take me a little longer than it did. (I think I finished it about 3 days after I wrote my last post about it. And I’m being pretty slow about knitting these days…)

Oh well…

At least it turned out super cute!

The colors are slightly off here, but about as close as I could manage. The red is more burgundy (think: cranberry sauce) and the gray is slightly more blue (a slightly overcast autumn sky… if you’re feeling poetic).

It’s super cozy and soft. Maybe too cozy for Seattle…

But, the takeaway for this project is that I want to put this cable/texture pattern on every garment I make for the rest of the winter. Socks? Yes. Hats? Yes. Scarves? Yes.

And sweaters? Definitely.

Why do the most fun projects always go the fastest?

Inspiration: Sweaters I Wish I Was Knitting

I’m really having trouble getting inspired about knitting these days. Or at least I’m not feeling inspired about my knitting.

Like I said last week, I’ve run through most of the fun yarn in my stash, or at least the easy-to-repurpose yarn. Just about all the sweater-quantities have been used up, and I’m even running low on groups of the same yarn base in different colors. Sure, I could cobble together little bits and bobs of different yarns into a sweater… but that’s a lot of effort. And who knows how that’d turn out.

It’s been waaaay too long since I set foot in a yarn store. All I want to do is go to my LYS to pick out a new, fancy sweater pattern and go a little wild picking yarn, spending way too much time agonizing about color and texture, only to go home with the same oatmeal-colored wool that I always gravitate toward.

Sigh.

(Also, as I write this, I’m 2 weeks out from having a newborn in the house, so starting a new fancy sweater is an utterly stupid idea. Which isn’t to say that it will stop me.)

Anyway, I figured that instead of starting a new pattern, I might just write about the patterns I wish I were knitting.

First up: A sweater I find utterly beautiful, and one (if I’m being honest) I would never actually work up (baby and pandemic notwithstanding). It’s utterly gorgeous- those colors! I would be so tempted to pick different colors, which would take about 30 hours of me second-guessing myself the whole time. I mean, it uses 14 (FOURTEEN!) different colors. It’s so freaking gorgeous. It would drive me up the wall to knit. Maybe I can find someone to knit it for me? Ha!

Foxthoughts Pullover by Hiroko Payne / The Hare And The Crow

As beautiful as that sweater is, if I’m being honest, what I’m really itching for is a big ol’ cabled/textured sweater. I really want to get my needles deep into a sweater like this. 5 (or so) different cables? Yes please. Lots of seed stitch? Yep. All-over texture? Definitely. Cool saddle-shoulder detail? Sign me up.

(Plus, it would look pretty great in my “signature” oatmeal/gray.)

Yule Sweater by Anne Podlesak

Or maybe I could combine the two. Why not have color and texture? Why not jump on the Shifty bandwagon? Heck, I might even be able to actually find enough scrap yarn in my stash to cobble together a workable version of this bad boy. Though, I shudder to think about all the ends I’d need to weave in…

Shifty by Andrea Mowry

I’ll get to go to a yarn store again some day, and I’ll get to knit a sweater again, too. It’s just going to be a minute. In the meantime, the daydreams will have to satisfy.

What are your current dream projects?

A Sweater-ish Cowl

I’ve gone through phases as a knitter. There was a while when I started knitting that I almost exclusively knit mittens. Then it was stuffed animals. Then socks. And lace shawls (for some reason…). Lately (as in the last few years), it’s been sweaters.

I love making sweaters. I’ve probably made a couple dozen over the last few years (more, if you include baby/kid sweaters). I find sweaters to be just the most satisfying project. I love everything about them, from designing them to adding details to picking yarn to thinking about the practicalities of their construction. I love knitting sweaters that are my own designs, and I love knitting sweaters other people have designed.

However, two factors are getting in the way of my sweater-dreams these days.

  1. Covid means I haven’t been to a yarn store in 8 months. I’ve been slowly draining my stash of any sweater-quantitates of yarn. Sure, I could probably cobble together a sweater’s worth of sock yarn or something, but… that sounds difficult. And annoying.
  2. As I write this (in late October), I’m less than a month away from the birth of my second kid. Which, needless to say, will cut into my knitting time.

So that means I’m making a point of knitting non-sweater projects.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t dream, does it?

This is one of my favorite men’s sweaters to make (and wear). It’s a super easy, FREE, cabled, comfy, pieced sweater. I’ve knit it twice- once for my husband and once for my father-in-law. I have since more-or-less adopted my husband’s sweater since apparently it’s “too warm for Seattle” for him. It’s the perfect “I’m having a day and just need to be comfy” sweater.

I kind of want to knit another one.

But instead, I’m going to hold myself back and use up the skein-and-a-half of Knit Picks’ Twill I have in my stash drawer to make a nice, cozy Ben Cowl. (I had hoped the gray-blue would have been enough, but it’s not quite as tall as I wanted. Luckily the burgundy looks nice enough with the blue, so we’re going to pretend it was supposed to be color-blocked.)

What other small projects should I work on? Do you have any favorite one-skein patterns?

So many stripes- so few ends

Y’all. I couldn’t be more pleased with how my self-striping socks turned out. They’re totally cute, totally functional, and totally done, with only a couple weeks’ work and the bare minimum of ends!

You know how I feel about ends (anti), and how I feel about stripes (pro), so these self-striping socks are just about perfect for me- the best of both worlds. I love how the little addition of slipped stitches gave the socks just a smidge more character than regular-old vanilla socks, and I’m beyond happy with how evenly the stripes worked out.

For some reason, I never really trust self-striping yarn to give me evenly matched stripes for both feet. It’s probably some weird deep-seated trust issues or something, but I always assume that self-striping socks will turn out as fraternal twins at best. But, look at these guys! They’re just about perfect!

Such a satisfying little knit!

What’s your most recent satisfying project?

A Variation on a Theme

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been feeling the need for a little bit of simple, soothing, sock knitting. Nothing fancy, nothing crazy, something just this side of total vanilla socks.

So, I went for a dive into my stash (because I’m still not comfortable going out to an actual yarn store, though I miss my LYS (and the outside world) dearly) and pulled out a couple skeins of the Felici yarn that I designed for Knit Picks last summer. I like the idea of self-striping yarn, but I always get bored just doing a stockinette sock, so I decided to do something just a little bit different.

I’m adding slipped stitches!

I’m knitting these bad boys up using my usual sock pattern/technique, but instead of going for 100% stockinette, whenever I get to a color change, I do a round of (K2, slp 1) around, starting wherever the color changes. I love how they’ve got just a smidge more character. And, they’re keeping me just enough on my toes that I’m not getting bored with them!

And, in case you’re worried, the slipped stitch rows are such a small percentage of the whole sock, they don’t change the fit on the sock (or at least I hope they won’t).

I bet you could use the same slip-stitch technique with regular stripes, too, but then you’d end up weaving in all those ends… and who wants that?

What have you been working on lately?

The End of an Era

In the light of all the wild stuff that’s happened this year (I’m not going to lay it out… you know what 2020 was), this isn’t a big deal. It barely even registers. It’s a tiny blip.

But, I’m still bummed.

My tape measure has finally broken.

I know, I know. Hardly something to write home about, but you don’t understand. This tape measure was originally my Mom’s. I remember digging it out of her sewing supplies and playing with it when I was a kid. It’s soft click-click-click as you pulled out the tape was just so satisfying. Then, I inherited (stole? Sorry, Mom) it when I went off to college. Since then, it’s lived in my knitting bag. I’ve probably used it every day (or at least every week) for the last 15 years.

It’s nothing fancy- it’s just a regular old tape measure you pick up for a buck or two from a bin at the checkout at JoAnn’s. But still, it’s served me well all these years, and I will miss it.

It even managed to survive my kid- I kind of figured he’d play with it too much or pull too hard on the tape and break the spring. But, no, it was me. I pressed the tape-return button the other day, and the plastic just broke right in two. I guess that’s what happens to plastic over 30+ years.

Because this tape measure was at least 30 years old. It was “MADE IN WEST GERMANY”, and West Germany hasn’t been a country since 1990. How’s that to make you feel old?

Rest in peace, tape measure. You served me well.

(Don’t worry about me… I’ve got at least 3 other tape measures. Not as good as this one, of course, but at the end of the day, they all measure the same.)

What’s your favorite tool in your knitting bag?