Papaya Sweater Update- Shoulders

I’ve been making steady progress on my Papaya Sweater.  I took it on vacation with me- if I’m remembering correctly, I actually cast on in the SeaTac Airport.  I got a good chunk of knitting done while I was traveling, but I didn’t get much done while I was actually in Georgia.  After all, who wants to work on a wool sweater in 90-degree heat with near-100% humidity?  (Not me, that’s who.)

Despite the weather (the humidity and the hurricane), I managed to get a good chunk of knitting done.  The Loana Cardigan is a top-down, seamless raglan, so I started at the neck, did a handful of short rows (for the shoulders), and managed to make it almost to the armpit split by the time I got home.  (Unfortunately for the sake of pictures, my circular needle is a little too short to let me lay out the sweater nicely just yet, so you’ll have to believe me that I’ve made the progress I said I made.)I usually tweak a few things, but I really like the simple design of this sweater.  So I only changed one thing. (Ha!)  The pattern calls for vertical ribbing along the front edges of the sweater.  I decided to do a few stitches of garter stitch instead (since garter stitch kind of looks like ribbing, just pointing the other direction).   I think it’s looking pretty good, and should lay nice and flat, when I’ve finished the sweater.There’s nothing more satisfying than a lovely, well executed raglan increase, if you ask me.  You just pick four spots, and increase 2 stitches at each point on every RS row, then BAM, you’ve got a sweater!  It seems too simple to work, but here I am, making another awesome raglan sweater.  The neat little rows of increases are so pretty (and functional), and make me so happy.  (OK, maybe I get little too sentimental about shoulder shaping.  So sue me!)Have you ever made a top-down seamless sweater before?  How did it turn out?  What was your favorite part of your project?

Inspiration: Back to School

I’m excited- it’s that time of year again!  The weather has (begun) to cool down- we even got a couple rain showers a few days back.  I’m sure the pumpkin spice everything is right around the corner (I’m not even mad- cinnamon  is delicious).  And, in Seattle, it’s Back to School Time!

Actually, the kids were back in school last week.  My job always starts a week or two into the semester, which means that I go back to school this week!

I love teaching summer camps, but I think I like the school year better.  I get to spend more time with each class, which means I get to know my kids better, and get to see them develop fully as sewers.  And, the hours aren’t as crazy- I love hanging out with my students, but an 8 or 9 hour day without a substantial break is not ideal.

So while everyone else is worried about pencils and notebooks, this time of year means three things to me.

1. I get to start schlepping my sewing machines around again.  This is the only part of my job that’s less than delightful- There’s nothing more tiring at the end of a long shift than having to load up 10 big old sewing machines onto a cart, drag them out to the car and unload them into the trunk, knowing that I’ll have to get them out again tomorrow.  I wish I could carry little amigurumi sewing machines like this one.  They would be so much easier to manage, though I suppose they wouldn’t work quite as well as the Pfaffs.

Sewing Machine by Sky Magenta2.  Back to School means pins.  So many pins.  Pins on the floor. Pins in projects.  Pins loose in the car.  Pins stuck in my sweater.  Pins that kids found on the floor from the week before.  Pins poking kids fingers.  Pins being used to conduct tiny sword fights.  Pins everywhere.  (And, unfortunately not a ton of pins in pincushions or pin boxes, no matter how many times I try to remind my kids.)  Maybe if I made everyone a pin cushion this cute, they’d actually use it?  (Wishful thinking, I suppose, though they are super sweet.)

Pincushions by Nicki Trench3. And, with the weather turning gray-er and more damp, and with the fact that it’s getting darker earlier and earlier, it’s the time of year to start drinking more coffee.  (Ha!  As if I ever really stopped.)  I love bringing a coffee or cup of tea with me to work- I’m basically talking nonstop for three hours, which is (if I’m being honest) too much talking, so it’s nice to have something to sip on in the three seconds of quiet I get during a class.  Plus, a little caffeine before hanging out with a dozen 7-year-olds never hurt anyone.

Coffee Cozies: Twisted Cable Version by Jennifer BurtI am so ready to go back to school!  Are you?

Pattern: Bubbles Pullover

Hey guys!  I made a new sweater!

Introducing, the Bubbles Pullover!

It’s a totally cute (if I say so myself), comfy, every-day yoked pullover featuring some pretty adorable polka-dots around the shoulders.  It’s a simple top-down, seamless sweater.  A few short-rows at the back of the neck and a couple inches of colorwork is about as difficult as this sweater gets.  But, the overall finished effect is pretty great, if I say so myself.I wear my Bubbles all the time- it’s super cozy and comfy.  Mine is worked in greens and browns, but I love the navy-and-pastel palette that Knit Picks chose to showcase in their book.  I think this sweater would be a great way to play with color without a lot of commitment!  (Rainbow dots on a white background?  A purple/lavender gradient with pale cream?  Deep blues and sea greens on a sky-blue background?  The possibilities are endless!)

Oh!  Speaking of “Book”!  This pattern is featured in Knit Picks’ newest collection, Encircled, which is all about yoked sweaters. (It features 10 gorgeous patterns in every style of yoked you could think of- it’s delightful!)Grab your copy of Encircled here!  Or, if you just want to knit up a Bubbles Pullover, get the pattern here!

Hurricane

I’m back home, and earlier than expected.

We spent a lovely week in Tybee Island, off the coast of Georgia (about a half hour from Savannah).  We ate shrimp, hung out on the beach, and played a lot of games.  It was delightful.Then, Wednesday night, some of the folks in our group started worrying about the hurricane that seemed to be coming right at us.  I wasn’t worried- after all, it was days away, and we were supposed to leave before it even got near us.  (And, I’m from the Midwest, where we tend to under-estimate the threat of extreme weather.  Oh, there’s a tornado siren going off?  Let’s go outside and see if we can find it!)

We all went to bed on Wednesday, (me, convinced that everything was fine, and everyone else convinced the opposite) and got up the next morning for a nice trip into Savannah for brunch, a nice wander through the little shops and maybe a beer or two at one of the local brew-pubs.

But, Savannah was dead… like, creepily empty.  We were the only people in the restaurant we had lunch in, and we saw tons of people outside of hotels with their suitcases packed, grabbing taxis to get the heck out of there.

While we were having lunch, our waiter informed us that the governor had declared a mandatory evacuation for the whole area, starting Saturday.  Crap!

We all scrambled to get new flights out of Savannah, with varying success.  (My husband couldn’t get through to the ticket counter, so we ended up just buying new tickets.  Luckily, the airline refunded those later.)  One couple managed to get flights out of Savannah, but everyone else had to drive to Atlanta (4 hours away when there isn’t evacuation traffic) before we flew home.  (And then, on Saturday the couple flying out of Savannah ended up having to drive to Atlanta, too, because the Savannah Airport closed!)

It was crazy, driving down the highway in bumper-to-bumper traffic with cars filled with families and pets.  We tried a couple times to stop for breakfast, but every time we did, the lines were insanely long, so we grabbed bad gas station coffee and made do.

After a stupidly long wait at the airport (I think we were there about 6 hours early, since we had to leave Tybee early to beat the 8 AM evacuation order), we flew back home.  (Our bags didn’t make our flight, so we had to go back to the Seattle airport on Saturday to pick them up, but we were just happy to be home.)

It was a surreal ending to a nice beach vacation.  I’ve never been a part of an evacuation like that.  The weirdest part was that the weather on Tybee kept getting nicer and nicer as the warnings became more and more dire, so it really felt like everyone was worrying more than they needed to.  Of course, I suppose the Georgia officials know more about hurricanes than I do.

I’m glad everyone in my group made it out unscathed, and except for being a little bummed out about losing the last few days of vacation, we’re totally fine.  I can’t help worry about all the nice people we met, and all the locals living and working on the island, and wonder what they’re doing during the storm.  I hope they make it through all right. (I’m writing this on Sunday, so Irma hasn’t made it that far yet,  and maybe she won’t- the current predictions have moved her path a little further inland from where we were staying, so maybe they’ll be OK. I guess we’ll have to see.)

If you want to help with what will surely be a tough recovery, think about donating to the Red Cross, or a local food bank in the affected area.

The Island of Forgotten Projects

I’m proud of my little stash of finished projects.  It’s satisfying to see them all folded neatly, ready to be gifted at the next holiday.

But, I have a second stash.  A secret stash.  A shameful stash. A stash that lives in the bookcase next to my desk (I started keeping everything there in the hopes that having to look at it every day would spur myself into doing something to take care of it…  It has not worked yet).

It’s my stash of unfinished projects.

I’m not even going to show you everything, because it’s that embarrassing.

There are several pairs of socks- I decided halfway down the brown sock’s cuff that I didn’t love knitting the pattern.  (I actually really like how the pattern’s turning out, it’s just a pain in the butt to do), and the black/pink socks were being knit at an insanely tight gauge… I don’t know why I decided to start a pair of socks on 0’s!  I never knit with anything smaller than 2s! Not my smartest moment.

Then there’s the box overflowing with my Mama Bears.  Which are in turn overflowing with stuffing because I realized that I don’t have any of the right colors of yarn to finish sewing them up!  (I’ll probably just use some other scraps I have laying around, but there’s a part of my brain that thinks that if I just let the bears hang out in the corner for a little longer, they’ll magically grow extra yarn.  Yeah… that’s how that works.)There are even some projects that are so old, I’m pretty sure I started them before I moved to the new house… almost four years ago.  This scarf, for instance.  I started it as a way to use some pretty fun-fetti-colored yarn I spun.  But, then I decided the scarf was turning out too narrow.  So now it lives in a project bag on a shelf among the other half-forgotten projects.Look!  I even stole the needles from this project… that’s how little confidence I had in myself to finish this project.  Sigh…I know I’m not the only one with a shameful WIP stash.  Make me feel better!  Tell me what you’re totally going to finish… (some day)

Inspiration: Games!

I’m so excited, guys!  It’s vacation time!

Every year, for the last 5 or 6 years (I’ve lost count), a big group of friends from college (plus some spouses, siblings, and childhood friends) and I have been getting together around Labor Day weekend for good food, good beer, and lots and lots of board games and video games.  It started as a yearly visit to Seattle’s big gaming convention, PAX, but starting last year, we now go on a real vacation!  Last year was Yellowstone, and this year is Tybee Island, Georgia (yay, beach!)

It’s always a blast- everyone lives so far apart these days that it’s great to make a point to get together each year.

And we always get to play a bunch of great games.

Carcassone was one of the first “cool” board games I remember playing, starting in high school (OK, “Cool” might not be the right word, but it’s certainly better than Monopoly.)  The little “Meeple” pieces included with the game are totally iconic… maybe I should make a set of these coasters to keep our games dry while we play.

Meeple Coasters by Ambie ValdesSometimes we even have a “quick” game of D&D (or something similar).  Usually that starts after I go to bed, though… I need my beauty sleep, and everybody else drinks way too much Diet Coke.

I love these dice bags- the Hobbit-inspired monograms are a perfect detail!

Good, Good Dice Bags by Jinger RoyAnd, while we’ve never played checkers at one of our get-togethers, I bet if I brought a set that was this cute, I could find someone to play a round or two.

Sheepy Draughts… and a Wolf Too by Aurelie ColasDo you like playing board games?  What’s your favorite?

OK… We’re Back On Track

Guys.  I’ll be honest.  That shawl sat on the coffee table all weekend.  Un-ripped, and un-fixed.

Until last night, when I took a good hour (AN HOUR) to undo all the bound-off stitches, as well as a whole row of knitting.  One word: Heartbreaking.

But, I’m back this morning, ready to go.  This time I’m sure I’ve got enough yarn, and I’ve got a cool new plan.

Instead of a plain-old smooth bind off, I’m gonna go fancy.  I’m making a picot edge on this bad boy.  Because why not!?

To start, I knit 2 stitches, and bound off 1 (so just 1 stitch remained on my needle).  (Also, I’m using a larger sized needle to do the binding off, that way I don’t have to worry about my tension getting too tight.)Then I slipped that stitch back over to the left hand needle.Then I used a Knitted Cast On to cast on two more stitches.Then I bound off 7 stitches (the 2 that I just cast on will form the little picot bump, and the other 5 are the space between bumps- if you want your bumps closer or farther apart, change the number of stitches you bind off each time).Then I kept going, slipping the 7th stitch to the left hand needle, casting on 2 stitches, and binding off 7…Until a super-cute picot edge started to form.Now I just have to make it all the way across this danged shawl!  I need a good podcast and a big cup of coffee.

Wish me luck!

Have you ever added a picot edge to any of your projects?

Well… Crap.

I played Yarn Chicken with my Moon River Shawl.

And I lost (super, super hard).I decided that before I started in earnest on my Papaya Sweater, I’d finish off my Moon River Shawl.  After all, I only have to bind off, block it and I’d be done!

Of course, I underestimated the sheer length of the rows on this thing… That’s the worst part about making half-circle shawls.  They start all cute and fun, only a handful of stitches each row, then before you know it: BAM! 400 stitches per row.  You can never budget enough yarn for that!

Or at least I can’t.

Either way, I spent the morning yesterday (about three hours) carefully binding off, only to make it about three-quarters of the way across the last row before completely running out of yarn.I thought about doing something fancy to make up the difference- buying more yarn (but I’ve lost the label, so I don’t know the colorway), or knitting with a similar yarn (but I don’t have anything similar enough in my stash), or even binding off in a contrasting color (but that would entail ripping out the bind off anyway).  Ugh!

I think I have to rip out the bind off, and rip out the row before it, too.  That should get me enough yarn to make it all the way across.

BUT I DON’T WANNA!

At least Ollie seems sympathetic.  Sigh…When have you lost Yarn Chicken?  What did you end up doing to save your project?

Let’s get going!

I’ve dilly-dallied enough… it’s time to start my Papaya Sweater!

I’ve made my choices, I’ve bought the pattern, and I’ve put everything I need in one of my big project bags.

All that’s left is to start!

And to tell you about it.

OK.  If you remember, I found a big bag of Knit Picks wool of the Andes Sport in my closet a couple weeks ago.  It turned out to be 11 skeins of this super cheerful pinkish-orange, called Papaya.It’s totally cheerful, and totally not a color I would normally pick, but here we are.  I’ve decided to give it a go and make a lovely, cheerful sweater to wear during the gray days of Seattle winters.

I was hemming and hawing about which pattern to go with, but I think I’ve decided on one.  It’s a simple, oversized, open-front cardigan that looks insanely cozy and totally pretty.  It’s the Loana Cardigan by Julia Egger!

It’s a simple, seamless, top-down raglan, knit at a slightly-larger-than-usual gauge to create lovely, drapey fabric.  My favorite part of the sweater is the oversized lapels, which are knit wide, to droop artistically when you wear it.  Or, you could add a shawl pin or button if you wanted to have a cute, closed sweater with an asymmetrical front.  Totally adorable!I don’t have quite as much yarn as the pattern calls for (I’m shy about 100 yards for the size I’ll be making), but I don’t think that really matters.  I’ll make a point to get the arms all finished before I work on the bottom part of the sweater,  that way, I’ll be able to get every last inch out of my yarn.

I’m also toying with the idea of adding a lacy panel or some cables down the back of the sweater or along the lapels, otherwise that’s a lot of stockinette.  But, I’m not sure if I’ll go that route yet.  I can always rip back and add them in later.  Or, I might just keep it simple.  Even if they’re not the most fun to knit, it’s my simplest sweaters that get the most use, if I’m being honest.

What do you think?  Should I add something fancy, or keep it sleek and simple?

(Oh, and if you were worried, Ollie’s feeling much better!  He’s snoozing on the back porch in the sun as we speak!)

Poor Pupper

And poor us!

I’m sorry guys, but I just don’t have the energy to write out the post I had planned.  I was going to finish planning out my Papaya Sweater, it was going to be a beautiful design, and the post was going to be funny and insightful and well-written.

But, my dog had other plans.He might be cute, but he’s a weapon of mass insomnia under all that fuzz.

I don’t know what he got into this weekend, but the poor guy was up all night with, lets just say, “gastrointestinal distress.”  He got us up every hour to go outside (or to not quite make it outside).  So gross and frustrating!!

And he did the same thing on Saturday night, too!  Of course, during the day, he’s been acting perfectly fine- no GI issues, acting normally, eating his normal dinner, and happy to bark at passers-by and go on walks. So who knows what’s going on!

Maybe he picked up a bug, or maybe he ate something he shouldn’t have (that’s probably it- he’s got a bad habit of that, but then again he’s a dog).  If he doesn’t recover soon (or goes off his food/gets lethargic) we’ll head over to the vet, but fingers crossed, we won’t have to!

He’s ridiculous, and I need a nap!