Mending

I feel like I’ve been on a streak lately, where everything I pull out of storage is full of holes.  I found two sweaters, a tea cozy and a hat that needed repair, and I just tried on my most favorite pair of socks, and my toe went right through the tip.

Fair warning:  The following are photos of an *ahem* well-loved sock.  Not exactly the pretty things you might be looking for in a knitting blog.  You have been warned.

Anyway, the toe:

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You can see that these socks have already received some TLC- I patched up a big bare spot on the ball of the foot last winter.  Now the toe’s busted through and the heel is about to go.  Some might give up on so worn-out a pair of socks, but not me!  I worked dang hard on these bad boys, and I want to wear them!

It’s time for my favorite knitting mending technique- the duplicate stitch. (This tutorial is more about using the duplicate stitch for decorative use, but it’s the same idea if you want to use it for repair.)

Whenever I want to darn a piece of worn-out knitting (usually socks), I use duplicate stitch, carefully going over the worn-out spot (plus a little extra all the way around).  It’s a way to reinforce worn stitches with a new layer of wool.  I carefully trace the knit stitches with the new yarn, following the path of the last few fibers of the old yarn.

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And when there’s a real, honest-to-goodness hole, where the yarn has fully broken and there’s nothing left to “trace”, I use a knitting needle to hold my stitches until I can hook them up to the other side of the hole, building new “knitted” fabric to cover the space.

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Until, the hole is covered and the sock is good as new.  Well, you know what I mean.

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Now I just have to repeat with all the other sad socks in my drawer.

Do you ever mend your knitting?

Sheep are done with their Jeep!

It’s done it’s done it’s done it’s done!

My Sheep in a Jeep sweater is done in time for our big Midwestern Trip for Thanksgiving!  I’m going to have a very cozy (and dapper) boy.

Fair warning: these pictures are a little silly, because the kid is a little silly, and is incredibly interested in the camera clicking.  Honestly, most of the pictures looked like this:

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Looking for cars:  (You can actually see the knitting in this one, if only the back.  I’m so pleased with how the color work blocked out! I was worried it would be a little pucker-y.)

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Blue Steel:

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This is the face he’s started making when I ask him to “smile.” It’s not a real smile, but I love it very much.  Silly boy.

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Anyway, the verdict is: The sweater fits great, but still has a little growing room.  The floats on the cuffs caught both of his hands as we were getting dressed this morning, which will be something to keep in mind in the future (hopefully they felt up a little).  All together, I’d count it as a success!

 

Sheep (almost) in a Jeep!

Ooh, guys!  My sweater is coming along great!  In fact, I’ve finished the knitting!  Woo hoo!IMG_2192

However, I’ve got two things standing in my way of being completely finished:

1. Ends.  So. Many. Ends.  5 colors, three sections of sweater, plus Kitchener for the underarms and a few other odd ends from sleeves and collar and such. I really don’t want to weave them in.  It seems unfair that you “finish” a project, then have to spend another three hours actually finishing it.  A smarter person would have woven in the ends as they went. Sigh.

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2. I’m a little worried about the floats, especially on the sleeves.  I was really on the fence about adding the color work on the sleeves, but decided to go ahead and do it (which I’m glad about- I think it turned out really cute).  But, those floats are kinda long, and my kid’s fingers are kinda small and prone to getting stuck in small places, so I worry about running into difficulty getting him dressed  The only thing I can hope for at this point is that they felt up a little bit with wear.  Because I’m not undoing and redoing them again.  I refuse.

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But, despite my whining and worrying, I really am pleased with how this sweater is turning out.  It’s probably the cutesiest thing I’ve made for my kid (usually I dress him like a little old man).  And the little radishes/turnips just make me so happy.  It’s funny how fast I can get something done when I really enjoy the project!

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Have you been working on anything particularly fun lately?

Sheep in a Jeep and a Sweater on my Needles

I’m stoked, you guys.  I finished my work knitting (thank god), and that means I finally get to work on the sweater I’ve been thinking about for months now!

That’s right, I’m going to do it!  I’m going to make a Sheep in a Jeep sweater for my kid!

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I dug through my stash and, would you believe, I had all the colors I needed for my design!  (Except for white, which was easy enough to fix.)  I’m using Knit Picks Hawthorne, because it’s sturdy enough to hold up to a one-year-old, it’s machine washable and it’s fine enough that I can do color-work in it without it getting weird.  Also, it’s what I had in my stash, and you know I like knitting from my stash.

I’m kind of winging the pattern, basing it roughly on the measurements of a similar gauged sweater (Christmas in July), but making it a bottom-up, raglan, v-neck, instead of a top-down, yoked, crew-neck.  So basically it’s an entirely different sweater.

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The bottom of the sweater will be brown, with a row of radishes “growing” in the soil, then blue sky above.  I’m kind of on the fence if I want radishes on the sleeves, too.  I don’t know if color-work sleeves are a good idea for a toddler sweater.  But, I’ve got a while before I have to decide.

I’m so excited about this project!  And, if it turns out, I might just turn it into a pattern!

What are you excited about these days?

Big and Little

I’ve finished a project!  Yay!  It’s a pretty cute one, too.

It’s actually a double project.  A family friend who has a little one the same age as my boy, is expecting a baby girl just about any day now. I had some extra yarn and I love an excuse to make a baby sweater.  (Seriously, they’re so fun and fast!) I whipped up a tiny little Flax Light for the little one.  (Can I extol the virtues of this pattern again?  1. It’s well-written and free! 2. It comes in literally all the sizes.  3. It’s reversible!  One less thing to have to fuss with while getting the little guys dressed.)IMG_1927_medium2

I found some matching red yarn in my stash, too.  I thought I’d make a red sweater for the big brother!  How cute would that be? But it turned out I didn’t have nearly enough for a toddler-sized sweater.  Thus, I ended up with a stripey sweater, which, honestly, I like better than if it had been a solid color.  It looks like the kind of sweater a little boy wears as he runs around the neighborhood getting into trouble. IMG_2151

After some whining about weaving in ends, I finished it up, and now the pair are all wrapped up and ready to be delivered.IMG_2156

I know the kids won’t really care about them, but I bet their parents will appreciate them.  And I think they turned out super cute!

Have you been working on any gift knitting lately?

A Halloween Curse

I haven’t got anything pretty or cute or nice to show you today- I’m in-between personal knitting projects and neck-deep in super secret work knitting.  I had thought about writing about some cute knitted pumpkins I saw the other day.  Or maybe looking up spider-related knitting patterns (my kid is currently obsessed with the “Itsy Bitsy Spider”, or as he calls it “Pider Pider Pider”).  Or maybe writing a quick warning that we’re just under 2 months away from Christmas (which we are, so if you’re doing any Christmas knitting, you’d better get moving).

But no, instead, I will tell you a spooky Halloween story.  A tale of a real live cursed hat, and the person who must live with it (me).

Because, you guys, I’m totally and completely cursed.

Guess I'm Cursed

So, a couple months ago, I came across a call for a design, and I came up with an idea for a really cute cabled hat (I’d love to show it to you, but it’s currently embargoed.  Don’t worry, though, once it’s done I’ll be excited to share it).  “This will be an easy job,” I thought to myself.  Oh how wrong I was.

It’s a simple little cap, with a handful of semi-complex cables all the way around.  Nothing too crazy, but getting the sizing right on something like this is kinda tricky.

So, before I even submitted my proposal, I knit up the following:

  1. Swatch #1: The cable didn’t look the way I thought it was going to.  Ripped out.
  2. Swatch #2: The cable looked closer to what I was imagining , but needed some tweaks.  But, I figured I could do the tweaks on the hat that I was going to do next. Ripped out.
  3. Hat #1: Got about 3 inches into the hat and realized it was a hat for a giant.  Ripped out.
  4. Hat #2: Got about 4 inches into the hat and realized it was a hat for a toddler.  Ripped out.
  5. Hat #3: Made it all the way to the crown, but ran out of yarn about 5 rows from the end.  Ripped it out.
  6. Hat #4: Made the pattern slightly smaller, and made it to the end with about 3 feet of spare yarn.  Turned out cute!  Fit! Yay!

I wrote up the proposal, and figured, “Hey, if it gets picked up, great!  I have the pattern essentially figured out already.  And if it doesn’t get picked up, I’ve got a cute new hat. Win-win.”

A few days later, I got the news that the pattern was picked up (Yay!), but they want it knit in a different yarn (Oh no).  So the process started over again.

  1. New Swatch #1: Looks good! Right on the money, gauge wise (which is shocking, since my prototype yarn and actual yarn are quite different).
  2. New Hat #1:  This hat is killing me.  It’s taking forever, it’s super slow-going for some reason, and making my hands ache.  I can only knit on it for an hour or two at a time.  But then…

Last night, I sang a little song of triumph as I got to the crown.  I decided to stay up past my bedtime because I thought I might be able to finish!  I pulled out the US7 DPNs from my knitting bag, and switched them out for the circular I had been using.  Suddenly, the knitting felt weird.  A little too easy.  A little loose.

Y’all, I had been knitting the whole dang hat on US5s, instead of swithing to US7s after the brim.

There were swears.

So, I’m going to go rip out the hat.  Again.

Talk about a true Halloween horror.

Have you ever worked on any truly cursed projects?

 

This is just to say

I have knit
the stripes
that are on
the sweater
and which
you are probably
looking forward
to wearing
Forgive me
the ends are unwoven
so annoying
and so many
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I don’t have much exciting to share today, except that I’m making this sweater (another Flax Light) for a friend’s kid. And while it’s turning out super cute, it’s driving me up the wall with all the ends.  Not sure if I’ll finish it in time for their birthday (or ever).
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(If you’re not familiar with the poem “This Is Just To Say” by William Carlos Williams, I’m not having a stroke, I’m making a very funny (?) joke about poetry.)

(I guess I’m just in a weird mood today… or maybe I just need more coffee.)

Spring Cleaning

Or, I guess it’s Fall Cleaning…

The mornings are getting cooler and I’m reaching for my big wool sweaters again, sweaters I haven’t worn in months.  And, frankly, they’re kinda (very) gross.

Theoretically, I do a big cleaning of all my knitwear every year, then spot-clean as necessary.  But if I’m being honest, this hasn’t happened in quite a while.  Like, maybe 5 years since I last did a through once-over of all my sweaters.   And it shows.

I put on my Bubbles Pullover the other day, and my allergies went off like I’d just rubbed my face in a pile of pollen, dust, and cat dander.  Not ideal.

So, while I might not have the time to devote to every single sweater in my closet, I do have time to clean at least this one.  Let me show you how I did it.

First, I hit it with the de-piller.  I like this Sweater Stone.  It seems pretty efficient, and it’s what I’ve had for years.  The de-pillers with blades kind of scare me, like they might jump out and cut my sweater, but this one seems fairly gentle (maybe?).  But, if I have a really special sweater, made with really delicate fibers or featuring a lot of texture-work, I’ll just go through and pick off the really bad pills by hand.  Efficient? No.  Gentle? Yep.IMG_2110Then I did a once-over for any holes or snags.  I noticed a little hole near the collar of this guy.  It’s not so bad, so I’ll leave it for another day.  But, if it was worse or in a more critical spot, I’d fix it before I washed it, to prevent making the run worse.IMG_2119Now it’s time for a bath!  I folded the sweater, and lay it in a nice, warm, soapy bath.  I like Eucalan soap, since it’s super-gentle on wool, doesn’t require a rinse, and smells nice, but isn’t too scented. IMG_2121I never swish the sweater around or anything.  Remember, wool + agitation + water = felt, so I keep the agitation to a minimum.  I just push the sweater down into the water, squeezing out the air.IMG_2125Then I let it sit for… a bit.  I’m sure there’s a rule about this, but I usually just let it hang out until I get bored.  At least 5 minutes or so (more, if you’re like me and wander off and forget).IMG_2128And this is the best/worst part:  Look at how gross the water is!!! Yuck!IMG_2131I let the water drain away, and carefully wrung out most of the water (again being careful not to agitate too much).  Then I rolled the sweater up in a towel or two, and squeezed the sweater burrito to get out even more water.IMG_2134Then it’s off to the drying rack!  I like using these big (clean) window screens. (They were originally used as drying racks for hops, back when my husband grew hops for his home-brew beer, but now I mostly use them for my knitwear.)   You can also use your regular blocking boards or just lay your sweater out on more clean towels.  Just make sure you’ve got it blocking to the right measurements, otherwise your sweater might end up clean, but lopsided!IMG_2142Now I just have to repeat the process for my other two dozen sweaters…

How often do you clean your knitwear?  Do you have any tricks to streamline the process?

Let’s Keep the Momentum!

Now that I’ve got my DPNs squared away, it’s time I did something (anything) with my circulars.

Right now (and, honestly for the last 15+ years), they’ve lived in one big jumble in this shopping bag.  It’s not pretty.  From time to time, I go through and try to match them up with their envelopes.  It’s a pain and I hate it, so mostly they’re just a big old rats nest hanging at the back of my closet. Don’t judge me.IMG_2103.JPGIn the back of my mind, I knew that there were circular needle holders out there- my mom even sells them. (She won’t let me buy anything from her shop, but you should buy from her.  Her stuff is amazing.)  So I pulled out the sewing machine and some fabric scraps and whipped up this bad boy myself.IMG_2093

It’s not the prettiest.  (In my defense, I picked my fabrics at night when the light was not great, and I thought the yellow was a better match, but still.  Also- rickrack?  Really?) But it’s functional and has already saved me a bunch of time.  It’s great seeing all the needles I have all laid out.  Weirdly, I have a lot more US3s than I expected, and a lot fewer US8s.  Funny how that goes.  At least now I know, and won’t keep buying 3s…

How do you organize your needles?

Getting those needles into shape!

I admit, this is a little bit of a silly one, but something that I’ve been needing to do for literally years.  I’ve done it.  I’ve officially organized my DPNs!  *Applause please.*

For a long time, I tried to keep my DPNs in their original packaging, but that was a mess.  It looked awful. I had packs of needles stashed everywhere, and I could never find the ones I needed.

Then several years ago, I put all my needles in one big ceramic jar.  I figured they’d at least be all in the same place.  I didn’t have to go rummaging through thirty-seven different project bags, or digging in my desk, or looking through my various pencil cases and backpacks.

And they looked cute! Bonus!IMG_2080

But that was quite a while ago, and in the interim, I’ve acquired *ahem* quite a few more needles.  (I don’t have a problem, you have a problem.)

I was digging through them the other day, looking for some US6’s, and I ended up so frustrated that my husband offered to help (looking through probably 100+ nearly identical needles will do that to you).  He immediately said “There must be a better way.”  Which made me realize that there must be a better way.

Why had it never occurred to me!?  I like to think that I’m pretty smart, but sometimes I question my own intelligence.

Anyway, I was thinking of what I wanted, and I knew I still wanted my needles out on display, and I wanted to be able to grab the size I needed at a moment’s notice (or at least without a half-hour long search and a lot of swearing).

Long story short, I ended up at Target, and found a “lipstick organizer” (Who’d have thought that was a thing?!).  It’s a short-ish organizer with 16 little spaces, plenty for each size of needle to have its own spot. IMG_2072

So far, it’s working great!  It still looks a little messy, but it gets the job done.  I think I might add little stickers or something to label the sizes, but for now, it’s working out OK.

I can’t believe I wasted so much time digging through that old jar… sigh.

How do you organize your needles?