Not So Magic

I’m cruising along with my little Flax Light.  (It’s a refreshing change from gigantic sweaters and blankets, but it’s a little sad that it’s so much bigger than the kiddo’s other sweaters… Slow down, little dude!)

I worked up the ribbed hem and bound off the body while watching last week’s episode of The Bachelorette.  (Not the show I’m proudest of, but you gotta have something silly to watch from time to time.)  The sweater is turning out so cute!  I love the little shoulders and the neat little hem.  And this color is going to be so flattering on the kid.IMG_1798I still had a half-hour left of my show, so I decided to grab some DPNs and get to work on the sleeves.  But horror of horrors, apparently I don’t have any US6 DPNs.  I’ve got 3 sets of 5’s, 2 sets of 7’s, and just about any other size I could want, but not a 6 in sight.  How does this happen?  I’ve been knitting for more than two thirds of my life. Why don’t I have any 6’s?

But, no fear, I can rally.  I’m a knitter and knitters are nothing if not resourceful.  I pulled out one of my long US6 circulars to start doing magic loop.  Sure, I wasn’t a fan of it years ago when I tried it last, but maybe I’ve matured as a knitter.  Maybe I’m open to other ways of knitting.  Maybe it’s after 9 and JoAnn’s is closed and I have no other choice.IMG_1808Well, I made it about a half an inch before giving up.  Good God, magic loop is annoying.  The more power to you, if that’s what works for you.  I’m glad there are different techniques for different people, but this one is definitely not for me.  I don’t know why, but there is something that just drives me up the wall about wrangling that big old cable, and futzing with moving my stitches back and forth.  Maybe there’s some “flow” thing that I’m just not getting, but at least for now, nope.  Magic loop is definitely not for me.

I guess I’m taking a trip to the craft store this afternoon.

Are there any techniques that you just can’t stand?  Have you ever tried something new  and “noped” right out of there?

New Pattern (s)! Dishcloth Madness!

OK, maybe not madness, per se, but I’ve somehow fallen behind on telling you about my new patterns.  (I know… heresy!)

I’ve got two brand-new, free patterns with Knit Picks that I’d like to share with you.  Technically, they call for Knit Picks’ Dishie yarn, but really, you could use whatever dishcloth cotton you’ve got laying around. (Though, Dishie is actually really nice for washcloths.)

Pattern the first!

It’s the Twined Dishcloth!  Super classy, super classic.  This bad boy would look great in just about anyone’s kitchen.  It’s a great way to practice cables, and/or reading a chart. I love using dishcloths as a low-pressure way to practice new stitches.  I might not want to try a new technique as part of a big old sweater that might not turn out.  But, a dishcloth is going to be useful, even if it doesn’t turn out how I imagine it in my head.Twined Dishcloth

And second, it’s the Mitered Quarters Dishcloth.  Is it mitered? No.  Is it divided into quarters? No.  Am I bad at naming things? Yes.

But, despite the dumb name, it’s a cute little dishcloth- very modern and sleek (or as sleek as a dishcloth ever is).  If the Twined dishcloth is a great way to try working cables, this guy is a great way to try working short rows.  You cast on on the long side of the green section, then work short rows all the way to the tip of the light gray section, then work longer and longer rows until you get to the bottom of the blue section and bind off.  (Trust me, it makes sense once you’re doing it.)  And, it’s a great way to use up those little balls of yarn that are too big to throw away, but too small to really do anything with.Mitered Quarters Dishcloth

I love when I realize that I have a pattern coming out- sharing my patterns with you all is the best, and even better when I suddenly have two to share! I hope you enjoy them, too!

Do you ever make dishcloths?  What’s your favorite dishcloth pattern?

Wedding Bells!

My brother got married yesterday!

(OK, full disclosure, he gets married next Sunday as I write this, but yesterday as it’s published.  I didn’t think that writing a blog post mid-ceremony was a great way of being a wedding guest.)

I’m sure it was an amazing party and a beautiful ceremony.  I’m sure the kiddo only ruined it a little bit.

I’m so excited to see my new sister-in-law and meet her extended family.  I’m so glad she’s joining our family and look forward to having her join us on all our reunions and holidays over the years.  She’s a delight!

And, yes, before you ask, the blanket is still unfinished.  Don’t worry, y’all will be the first to see it when it’s done.  (Don’t judge.)

Anyway, let’s celebrate love! And marriage! And my brother and his WIFE! (That sounds weird, but I like it.)  You know how we celebrate around here- by looking at knitting patterns that we’ll never have time to actually work up.

Though, if time is an issue, I could always just make this teeny little pair.

Tiny Bride and Groom by Anna Hrachovectinybridegroom_medium2

But it’s a wedding!  A time of celebration! Excess! Exuberant over-reaching!  I gotta make a whole cake!

Wedding Cake by Alan Dart3421661182_b

Or, I could just go totally twee and adorable, and knit up some super cute little critters. (I mean, really.  Look at those tiny little flowers!!)

Wedding Mice by Amanda Berry

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Congrats to my brother! And welcome to the family, Sister-in-Law!  We’re so excited to have you!

Are you going to any weddings this summer?

Doing the Splits

It’s been nice, giving myself a break from all my “big” knitting.  I’ve given up on finishing my brother’s wedding blanket before his wedding next weekend (unless my kid suddenly decides he doesn’t need my attention, there’s no way I’m getting it done in the next 7 days), and I’m between work knitting assignments.

Which means I’ve been leisurely knitting away at my fun little Flax Light for the kiddo.

And I just passed my favorite part of a top-down sweater- the “split for sleeves” part.

It’s a simple little phrase, barely even a sentence, but it’s so fun.  (Especially when I’m just following a pattern and I don’t have to do any math!)  It’s that point where your project turns from a weird funnel-thing into an honest-to-goodness sweater.  It’s like magic.  (And it doesn’t hurt that suddenly you reduce your stitch count by a good third or more, which means the next section starts going really quickly.)

And I know it’s silly, but I love picking scrap yarn to hold my sleeve stitches.  I like a yarn that contrasts but still “goes.”  I kind of love this yellow scrap yarn with the red- the it really picks up the little yellow tweedy nupps from the red yarn.  It’s to the point where I’m half-considering adding a yellow stripe to this sweater, 90s-style.IMG_1793.JPG

What’s your favorite part of a sweater?  Casting on? Binding off? Sleeve island?

Short and Sweet

Over the years I’ve gone through phases- for a while I was a shawl knitter, then I was a sock knitter.  Now, I’m a sweater knitter.  Every once in a while I bang out a hat or a pair of mitts, but mostly, I knit sweaters.

Which is great! I’m always warm, my family is warm (sometimes too warm), and I have a big pile of hand-knit sweaters that I really love.  I’m a happy camper.

But the problem with being a sweater knitter is that everything I make takes forever.  (Especially when I’m knitting sweaters as my “fun” knitting to break up the monotony of blanket knitting.)  I’ve been feeling a little down about my knitting lately- less excited about the projects that are on my needles and more tempted to just scroll through Facebook on my phone in the evenings.  So, what’s a sweater knitter to do, when she wants a fun, quick, project that she can finish in a couple days?

A baby sweater, that’s what.  (OK, really, it’s a toddler sweater, but still.)

I had some Provincial Tweed in Candy Apple leftover from my Hurricane Ridge prototype.  It’s subtly shiny, has a deep, rich color, and is machine washable(!!!), so it’s perfect for a little sweater for my little guy.  I love him in red- it’s so flattering on him, with his bright blue eyes and pink cheeks.  Plus, I have 2 and a half skeins- just enough for a baby sweater!

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So, I dug around on Ravelry for about five minutes, until I saw a pattern that I’d been meaning to try for a while- Tin Can Knits’ Flax Light.  It’s so cute, and such a practical little sweater for a toddler (or anyone, really… I might end up making one for everyone in the family).  It’s a simple, top-down raglan with nice garter detailing up the sleeves.  Such a great everyday sweater!

SC-flaxlight-07aI’m not even bothering to make a swatch.  I figure I’ve picked a size that’s big enough that the kid will grow into it eventually, even if my gauge is way off.  Talk about low-stress knitting!

Well, I’m off to cast on, while I still have a few minutes before naptime is over.

What do you do for a “fun” project?

Summer Knitting

I don’t know what the weather’s like by you guys, but here in Seattle, it’s getting frustrating.  It’s 70 and sunny for a day or two, a week at most, just long enough for me to start getting used to the summeryness of it all and pull out my shorts, then, bam!  Back to 50 and rainy for two weeks.

It’s ridiculous, but it’s making my fingers itch to work on something light and fun.  (I also might be itching to start a new project because I’m still working on the BLANKET THAT NEVER ENDS.  I just timed myself and it takes me about 20 minutes to knit a row.  I haven’t had the heart to figure out how many rows I’ve knit/how many I have left to knit.  Talk about a labor of love.)

Even though I’ve never been a fan of warm-weather knits (I mean, really, if you’re going to wear a sweater, just wear a sweater.  You don’t need a wooly tank top.  Honestly.), I’ve been dreaming of a lightweight, knitted tee. (I know, who am I?)

This is the one that got me started.  It’s just gorgeous.  That lace, the flattering shape.  I mean come on.  There’s one knit in a beautiful slubby silk on display at my LYS, and I’m tempted to walk off with it every time I visit.  (Though, who am I kidding, I’d be too nervous to wear a silk hand-knit tee.)

Tegna by Caitlin HunterProcessed with VSCO with m3 preset

And this cute little tee is all sleek and streamlined, with classy little details, like everything from Purl Soho.

Lovely Lightweight Tee by Purl Soholovely-lightweight-tee-600-2-1_medium2

I love the stripes on this guy, the saddle(ish) shoulders, and the flattering silhouette.  I really think I could wear this on the regular.

At the Seaside (Not Only in the Summer) by Fraulein Stadtisch

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Have your knitting plans turned to warmer-weather projects?  What do you like to work on when the temperatures go up?

Pattern: Phinney Ridge Socks

Woo! New pattern day!

And this is a good one- it’s socks!

Introducing, my newest (and current favorite) socks: Phinney Ridge Socks!

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Look at them in all their stripey goodness!

They’re fairly simple top-down socks with stripes from cuff to toe with an interesting slipped-stitch pattern along the tops.  (The slipped stitches make them look much more interesting/difficult than they actually are, which is something I always look for in a pattern.)

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These guys use a skein of solid black, and a pack of contrasting mini-skeins, but they’d be a great way to use that special hand-dyed variegated yarn you brought back from your last trip to New York, or maybe a really great ombre-dyed skein that you bought on impulse three years ago and haven’t figure out how to use yet.

If you’re looking for other patterns for your fancy-pants sock yarn, you should check out the rest of this Knit Picks collection! Outrageous Insteps is all about using those special skeins of sock yarn.

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I really like these chevron-textured socks!

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And the crazy slipped stitch pattern on these bad boys is super cool! I’ve never tried slipped stitches like this before!

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And these socks‘ little one-stitch cables on the striped background- perfection!

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I can’t wait to dig into my yarn stash and find something really special to try on some of these patterns.

Do you have any particularly special skeins you’re looking for a pattern for?

Mom

It’s Mother’s Day this weekend (at least it is here in the US).  So, in celebration of mothers generally, I want to talk about my mother in particular, and promote her amazing business for two reasons:

  1. She’s insanely talented, and I legit think that you guys would love her work.
  2. She would never in a million years think about self-promotion, so I’m going to do it for her.  (Sorry Mom.  I know this is going to make you self-concious, but I’m going to brag about you for a little bit.)

My mom, apart from being the one who taught me how to knit, is a fantastic seamstress (sewer?) and an insanely talented illustrator.  A few years back she took early retirement, and opened up an Etsy store, Paper or Threads.

She makes bags.

Amazing knitting project bags.

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(SWEATERS!!)

But she doesn’t just make bags.  Oh no- that would be too easy.  She designs her own fabric for them.

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(SHEEP!!)

She’s got big bags and little bags.  Bags with zips and bags with drawstrings.  And, I know this sounds like I’m just shilling, but I swear to god, they’re the nicest project bags I own.  They’re made from really quality cotton fabric (that feature her own original designs… I can’t emphasize that enough), and they’re all fully-lined (which means you won’t run into any annoying fraying edges to tangle up your yarn) and last for years and years.il_1588xN.1635891553_4ld8

(GNOMES!!!)

She’s got designs for everyone- from kitchy gnomes to adorable farm animals to classy all-over prints.  (I’m a big fan of the gnomes myself.)il_1588xN.1178395020_h0c8

(TREES!!)

And, if you sew, you can get yardage of her fabrics through SnapfishCapture2(SLOTHS!!)

Imagine a dress made of sloths!  Or a quilt covered in socks!Capture

(SOCKS!!!)

Fair warning- I’ve been trying to get Mom to increase her prices for a while (because she seriously undercharges for her amazing bags), so if you want to grab a bag or two (and you should),  head over to her Etsy store soon!

(ALSO! She makes kids’ clothes with her designs, too. They’re too stinking cute.  Definitely check them out.)

(Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!)

It just keeps going…

I’m eyebrow deep in my brother’s wedding blanket.  And it has been a journey.

I mean, not literally- it’s gotten really big, so it’s pretty stationary.  But, emotionally, it’s been a real journey.

(I’d love to share pictures with you, but since it’s a gift, you’ll have to make do with this totally-unrepresentative schematic of my progress. Don’t worry, Charlie, your wedding blanket is not a gigantic rainbow.)

Join me, if you will, on an epic journey through this gigantic project.

Blanket

Step 1 (red): Yay! This blanket is going to be great!  I love the color(s) I picked!  The yarn is so soft! The stitch pattern is so squishy!  I can’t wait to get going!

Step 2 (purple): Second guessing sets in.  Hm.  I don’t know about this pattern.  Is it too fiddly?  Too boring? Did I miscalculate the gauge?  Is it going to be too wide? Too narrow?  Do I even know how to knit?  Should I rip out the whole thing and try something else?

Step 3 (dark blue): Smooth sailing.  You know what? This blanket is great.  I really like how it’s turning out, it’s going well and coming together faster than I expected.  I’m already a few skeins in and it’s turning out great!

Step 4 (light blue): The Slog.  It looks good, but dang it’s boring. I don’t want to keep working on it, and you can’t make me.  One or two rows a day is plenty to get this thing done by June, right??

Step 5 (green): Second guessing part 2.  Ah crap.  This is why you follow a pattern- you don’t want to be halfway through a blanket before you realize that you’re about to run out of the special hand-dyed yarn that you picked for this blanket.  Gotta scramble to figure out a new plan.  (Preferably one that doesn’t involve ripping out a month’s worth of work.)

Step 6 (yellow): I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I’m so close I can taste it- if only I didn’t have to do dumb things like eat, sleep, or take care of a toddler, it’d be done already.  It’s going to be amazing when it’s finished!

Step 7 (orange): Isn’t it done yet?  If I keep measuring it, one of these days it’ll magically be long enough, right?  Gotta get it done! Push push push!

I’m currently here, grinding away slowly, but not making as much progress as I’d hoped (and pretty sure that I’m going to run out of yarn before I had intended to, but still pretty much in denial):Blanket2

Y’all, it’s going to be great, but the last couple weeks of knitting have been rough.  Just gotta push through, and then never make anything with more than a single skein of yarn again.

What do you do to get yourself through a slog-y project?

Off (or on) the Map

I get emails on a fairly regular basis asking me why I use charts in my patterns instead of just writing out the instructions.  I try to explain why I prefer charts over written instructions (they are easier to read, they give you a visual representation of what the finished pattern should look like, etc), but I feel like I’ve never had a really good, succinct explanation.  Until now.

I was chatting with a friend about charts vs. written instructions (like you do), and she had an amazing analogy.  An analogy I’d like to share with you.

The year is 1998.  The Barenaked Ladies, Destiny’s Child and Brittney Spears are on the radio, Armageddon is in the movie theaters, and I’m in middle school.  You’re planning on taking a road trip (while listening to your new NSYNC CD in your very high-tech car CD player), and you need directions. 541c9257a84d7.image

You boot up the modem and go to Mapquest for driving directions.  After 45 minutes (which seems very fast), you’ve downloaded and printed out your instructions.  You’re ready to go.

 

You hop in the car, follow your instructions.  Left on Aurora, right on 145th, take the northbound on-ramp, drive 5 miles, get off at Exit 220.  But wait, there is no Exit 220!  Where’s Exit 220?  I thought I was supposed to be on the freeway?  Why am I in the middle of a neighborhood? What happened?

You don’t have a map with you, because you didn’t need it- you had your Mapquest directions.  Sure you could retrace your steps, carefully make your way back home and try following the directions again, but that’s a lot of work.  You’re lost.  You’ve got to cross your fingers that you can find a friendly gas station attendant to give you new directions.CaptureNow imagine you’re on that same road trip, but this time you’ve got a map (or better yet, you’ve got a map and your instructions).  If you get off track, you can pull over, find your cross street and figure out your location.  Sure, reading the map might be a little tricky, but in the long run you know you won’t ever be stranded like you were with just the instructions.

Knitting is the same way.  Sure, if you’re knitting with only written instructions, and you follow the instructions exactly to the letter, you’ll end up with a beautiful garment.  But let’s be honest, when’s the last time you knit a garment without a single mistake?  (I can’t say I’ve ever done that.)  And once you’ve made a mistake, all you have is a big block of text that you have to wade through to figure out where you went wrong- not easy.Capture1If you’re using a chart, on the other hand, you can usually tell much more quickly where you went wrong.  Maybe there’s a yarn over where there should be, a section of lace that is missing a stitch, or a cable that’s been crossed the wrong direction (the bane of my existence).  Because a chart gives you a birds-eye view of what your project should look like, it’s easier to figure out what’s going on, where you went wrong, and ultimately how to fix it.

I know charts aren’t for everybody (just like some people will never be able to read a map, no matter how hard they try), but if you’re on the fence about trying a charted pattern, give it a go!  You might like it!