Dolly Dress

May was a crazy knitting month for me.  I spent it working full-out on three different patterns.  (Super-secret patterns, unfortunately… I’ll just say- next year you’re going to see some patterns that I’m pretty pleased with!)

So, when I get a weekend free from any “work knitting,” what do I do?  Do I go outside?  Do I get chores done around the house?  Do I go grocery shopping?

Of course not.

I knit a cute little dress for the Knit Doll I made last year.  She’s got a decently-sized wardrobe right now, but it’s mostly wintery clothes- sweaters and cardigans.

It was crazy hot this weekend, and I was looking for something small to knit, so one thing led to another and inspiration struck.I used Arne and Carlos’ dress pattern from their Knitted Dolls book (which is a delight, if you haven’t looked at it).  I used some Wool of the Andes DK I had laying around, and tiny, vintage mother-of-pearl buttons I inherited from my Grandma years ago.

I modified the pattern a little bit, which I think Arne and Carlos would approve of.  I cast on with bright green at the bottom of the skirt, and worked the pattern as written for a few rows, then joined some blue and did about an inch of Fair Isle to make the grass and the flowers’ stems.  I finished the dress using some lovely sky-blue heather.  Then (and this is the best part), I went back in with yellow, red, pink and purple, and embroidered tiny little flowers at the tops of each stem.

How cute did that turn out?!

I’m pretty tickled with the results, I have to say.  (And the fact that I finished a whole project in 24 hours is pretty satisfying after the last month.)

Have you ever made doll clothes before?  How did they turn out?

Inspiration: In the Shade

Phew!  It’s getting hot out here!

It’s been bouncing between the upper-60s and the mid-80s here in Seattle lately.  It’s been sunny and clear and dry.  I’ve had the windows open and the furnace turned off for over a week.  And, I’m down to only wearing sweaters first thing in the morning.  That means only one thing:  Summer’s just about here.

It’s hot, and I’ve become a total PNW weenie about the heat.  It gets over 70 degrees, and I start to whine, over 75 and I stop going outside if I can avoid it.  (The version of me that lived in Austin for three years is disgusted with current me… that version wouldn’t even think of breaking out the shorts until it was approaching 100.  That version of me was a little bit dumb, I think.)

Ollie totally agrees.  He’s been spending his days sunning himself out on the deck until he starts to pant too much, then trots inside and to sprawl out on the cool tile floor and drink from the toilet, even though he has a nice big bowl of fresh water… you’ve got to keep an eye on him.  He’s crafty (and a little gross).  He’s not a fan of hot weather either.But, as hot as it is in the sun, it’s actually been kind of nice in the shade.   If only there was a way to take the shade with you…

Oh wait!  There is!

We Seattleites might refuse to carry umbrellas with us when it rains, but we could totally carry umbrellas with us to keep the sun from our pale, pale skin.

I like the simplicity of this one, it would definitely provide plenty of protection from the sun.

Victoria by Kelly GriffithThis one is too cute for words- don’t you just love the stripes?

17S/Parasol by michiyoAnd this one is just gorgeous!  Unfortunately I think all that lace would take me until the end of summer before I finished.  But then I could have it for next summer…

Schattenspiele/R by Christine NöllerOr, I suppose Ollie and I could just drink some water, stay in the shade and stop being weenies about the heat.

What do you do to keep cool in the summer?

Kids These Days!

I’m teaching a kids’ knitting class again this semester, and as always it’s a delight.  I had a second-grader finish a finger-knitted rug for her cat yesterday, and a first-grader make a pair of hot-pink loom-knitted legwarmers.  A fourth-grader spent the last few weeks learning how to needle-knit and then made a candy-striped headband.  The kids are super sweet and focused, and there’s nothing better than seeing students go from frustrated to successful!

Then there’s one…unique… knitter.  I’ll call her Molly- obviously that’s not really her name, because she’s a kid, so I’m not going to be putting her details on the internet.  That would be a really bad idea for so many reasons.

Anyway, I’ve had Molly in knitting class before.  When she showed up in my Fall Semester knitting class, she already kind of knew how to knit with needles.  (Kind of knowing is the most dangerous amount of knowledge to have.)  I refreshed her memory, and sent her on her way.  She was off, knitting up a storm.

Now, I’ll admit, I didn’t pay super-close attention to what she was doing.  First, Molly is a fiercely smart and independent kid.  She doesn’t want any help with anything if she can possibly avoid it.  I’d show her a stitch once, and she’d pull the needles away from me and scurry off to sit with her friends and go to work. She didn’t want me looking over her shoulder to check how she was doing.  And Second, the rest of the class was crazy last semester- there just wasn’t time to give her uninterrupted attention with 8 other needy kids.

But, like I said, she was knitting something that looked really great!  She made a big piece of stockinette that we made into a little buttoned pouch.  (I assumed she knew how to purl from when she had learned to knit at home.)  It was pretty cute!

Fast forward to a month ago.  My students this semester are a little older, a little more chill.  They need less help, which means I can spend more time paying attention to everyone’s knitting, instead of monitoring how much the classroom was being trashed.

Molly was looking super bored one day, and she had been really interested in a cabled project I had been working on the week before.  I knew she had the basics of knitting really down pat, so I offered to teach her how to make cables.

I had her cast on and knit a couple rows normally.  From afar, it looked great!

Then I sat next to her, to explain how to switch between knits and purls in a single row (you know, switching the yarn forward and back before each stitch).  She started working on her knitting, and I watched over her shoulder.

AND SHE WAS KNITTING FROM LEFT TO RIGHT!

Apparently, she had been knitting for almost a year without ever once flipping her knitting over at the end of a row.  In other words, she wasn’t holding her “old stitches needle” in her left hand and her “new stitches needle” in her right hand, swapping out the needles at the end of each row.  Instead, her right hand needle was always her right hand needle, and her left hand needle was always her left hand needle!

I was actually really impressed, and still have no idea how she was doing it!  (I even tried knitting her way, but couldn’t get it to work.)

We had a big conversation about flipping her knitting.  Though, she still asks me at the end of each row “Do I need to flip my needles now?”

The answer is yes, always yes.

(She’s actually doing an amazing job, and is even getting the hang of cabling.  She still has a little trouble managing the cable needle- she’s very tiny, after all- so I hold it for her, acting as a “third hand.”  I think Molly’s got a great future with knitting!)

Did you have any weird ideas about knitting when you were first learning?

WaHoo!!!

You guys!

Hey!

Guess what!

Blocking is the best thing ever invented!

Remember my Cursed Sweater?  (I really wish I could show you real pictures of it…  Some day.)  Well,  I think I finally got the curse to lift!  Woo hoo!

So, last you heard, I had finished the sweater, but it fit me… not great.  In fact, it fit me so poorly that I thought I had messed up my math.  I spent the week worried, going over the math again and again.  What had I done wrong?  Did I misplace a parenthesis or a plus sign in my spreadsheet?  Did I accidentally cast on the wrong number of stitches?  WHAT DID I DO?

It didn’t help that the sweater made me feel distinctly like a plump sausage in too-tight casing.

(I can’t show you pictures, but I can show you poorly-Photoshopped representations of the sweater in question.)

The collar choked me, the sleeves were a good 6 inches too short, the body rolled up on itself.  It was awful!Awful!

Well, I went ahead and blocked it-  I didn’t have much hope, but I figured it couldn’t hurt.

But, holy knitwear, Batman!  It blocked out perfectly!  It fits like a glove, the sleeves are the perfect length, and I can swallow while wearing it.  It’s the best!It turns out, I had blocked my gauge swatch before I measured.   So, all my math was based on a blocked gauge (THE WAY YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO DO IT!), but for some reason, my brain had completely forgotten how pattern designing works and assumed that I had just really, really messed up again.

Come on brain, don’t stress me out like that!

This sweater is DONE!  It was a slog, but I survived, and I have a pretty killer new sweater in my closet (where it will stay for the next six months, because summer just started here… sigh).

Have you finished any big projects recently?

Also, if you are interested in having your project featured on On the Needles, send a photo with a short description to knittingontheneedles@gmail.com!  (Any project is welcome- not just knitting!)

What’s On YOUR Needles?

I’m always sharing everything that’s on my needles (or in the case of the Cursed Sweater, I’m sharing what’s on my needles, then off my needles, then on my needles, then off my needles…).  It’s something that I like doing, obviously, or I wouldn’t keep writing this blog.  I love sharing my ideas, and my projects.  I love commiserating with you guys when something goes horribly wrong, and I love celebrating when something turns out better than I expected.But, I never get to see what you’re all are working on!

So, I was thinking it would be fun to start a monthly (or so) post series, about what you guys are working on!  I’d love to see your WIPs and FOs, and I bet you’d like to see each other’s projects, too!Interested?  Awesome!  Send me an email (knittingontheneedles@gmail.com) with a picture and description of something you’re working on, or something you’ve just finished and you’re particularly proud of!  (Or, you can tweet at me @on_the_needles, or leave a message in the comments section, if email isn’t your jam.)  And, of course, your project doesn’t have to be knitting- Are you halfway through a big cross stitch project?  Have you just started a crochet afghan?  Did you just put the finishing touches on a particularly elaborate sewing project?I’m sure you’re all crazy-creative, and I can’t wait to see your creations!

Inspiration: Procrastiknitting

I finished my BIG SECRET PROJECT the other day (I’ve got it blocking right now, and I keep checking on it every couple hours… it continues to be damp, much to my chagrin).

I’ve got two other big projects waiting in the queue, so I really should get straight to work on them.  Buuuuut…..

I don’t wanna.

I just want to make something fun and cute and silly.  (And, since I really should be working on other projects, something small.)

So, let’s look at some little-bitty cute projects that I could work on while totally not procrastinating!

I love this teeny tiny kitty.  I don’t know what I’d do with him, but I think I might need to make him.

Tiny Window Cat by Sara Elizabeth KellnerAnd, I love this tiny earbud pouch.  I’m always getting my headphones tangled up with my purse knitting, and maybe this would help keep them under control.  Or maybe it would just be another thing to get lost in my purse.  Either way, it’s cute!

Earbud Pouch by Mary KeenanOr, I could just go all-in on the cute, tiny, silliness.  I could do the whole Christmas in May thing, and knit up some little Christmas Elves.  I mean, how cute are they?!

Jolly Wee Elf by Churchmouse Yarns and TeasHave you ever “procrastiknitted” before?  What did you make?

Well, it’s done, I guess

Phew!  It’s done!

Well, 99% done.  I still have to weave in some ends on my cursed project, and it’s got to finish drying out (it’s blocking right now).

And, I’ve gotta say, it turned out…. OK.

I love the pattern; the textures and the cables are great.  I love how it looks, sitting on the table, or pinned out for blocking.  But, I gotta admit- I don’t love the fit.

I tried it on when I finished knitting yesterday (after ripping the neck back several times-because this is the cursed sweater, after all).  And, I don’t know what happened with the measurements- I swear my math is right, so on paper, this sweater should fit like a glove.  But, instead, it’s too tight, and the sleeves are too short!  How on earth did that happen?!

As far as I can tell, I probably messed up in one of two ways:

  1. My gauge is off, or my math is somehow wrong.  In which case, I can fix the written pattern fairly easily.  However, I refuse to re-knit another stitch on this sweater.  If this is what happened, I’ll just have to find someone skinnier and shorter than me to take this prototype.
  2. I designed this sweater to use some really stretchy stitches- stitch patterns that block out almost twice as wide as their unblocked counterparts.  I got gauge off of a blocked swatch.  In theory, simply blocking this sweater will make it fit.  In theory.  I really hope that this is the problem.

Fingers crossed!

Have you ever finished a big project and ended up less-than-thrilled about the result?

The Cursed Sweater

I don’t know what’s happening to me!  I don’t think I disturbed any sacred burial grounds, or crossed any old crones-who-are-secretly-witches, and I definitely didn’t unearth any mummies.  Heck, it’s not even a full moon!

I’ve clearly upset the knitting gods (or at least some knitting trickster spirit), because this project is killing me, you guys.  You guys.  It’s killing me.

You remember my super-secret-project?  The one with the ribbing that I totally messed up?  Well, after repairing the damage in the dumbest possible way (really, Allison- why on earth did you think it was a good idea to get out the crochet hook?), I realized I had messed it up even more than I had thought.

I had cast on the wrong number of stitches.

Needless to say I was upset.  I ripped it out, rechecked my math and was on my way (for the third time).

Fast forward two weeks, and I think I have it under control.  I’ve checked all my math, and everything looks good.  My project is coming along.

Until, two days ago, I connected several separate pieces together (a very finicky step).  And.

Would you believe it?  I messed up again!  This was two days ago, and I didn’t notice until yesterday morning, when I had to rip out a full 24 hours of work!I’m finally getting back to where I was two days ago.  But hoo boy.  I’m struggling.

At least it’ll look good when it’s done.

Hopefully.

Ugh.

Have you ever had a cursed project?  What happened to it?  Did you manage to break the curse?

Inspiration: Warm Weather

It’s been absolutely gorgeous in Seattle for the last week- sunny and around 70.  (Unfortunately, the fact that I’m typing this out means that the rain will start up again in the next 15 minutes.  That’s just how good weather in Seattle works- it turns cold and damp as soon as you acknowledge that the sun is out.)  The windows have been open, the dog has been snoozing in the sun on the back porch, and I’ve been wearing fewer sweaters (I’ve still been wearing some, because I’m me and constantly feel like it’s 20 degrees colder than it actually is).

Which made me think about warm-weather knitwear.  I start thinking about it every year about this time.  What can I knit, or what can I wear, that would be comfortable in 70+ degree weather.  I always feels a little silly thinking about knitting up tank tops and shorts, skirts and t-shirts.  But people do it- heck, I even designed a tank top a couple years ago (which I think turned out pretty cute, if I say so myself).

I’ve dug through Ravelry, and picked out three (non-ugly) summery tank tops just for you.  (And, I guess, for me too, in the off chance that the sun sticks around a little longer.)

(I was going to look up an assortment of summery clothing instead of just tank tops, but I defy any of you to find a not-terrible pair of knit shorts for anyone older than in infant.  I don’t think they exist.)

I really like this top (I guess it’s got a tiny little sleeve, so it’s not really a tank). It’s feminine and pretty, with an interesting neckline.  I love that it’s made with stretch cotton-a perfect yarn for summery tops- and it’s a lovely, flattering shape.

Tee Top in Lace Daisy by Ekaterina ArndtThis tank top is totally adorable, too.  It’s so simple and such a classic shape.  And, anything with mini stripes is OK by me.

#02 Simple Tank by Debbie BlissSome (most?) knit tank tops end up having a weirdly ’90s vibe about them, but I love how modern this one feels.  I love the racer back, combined with the wide neckline and loose, draped silhouette.  I might actually have a go at knitting up this one… some day… when I have time…

Flying Buttress Tank by Andrea RangelDo you have any warm-weather knitwear?  What do you knit when it gets warm outside?

Only Knitting

I’ve got a problem.  (Surprise!  I feel like I begin a lot of posts this way.  Maybe I have a lot of knitting-related problems?  Or maybe I think that you guys are particularly good at fixing my problems.  One or the other.)

This problem is kind of a first world problem, a problem of “too much.”  I’ve taken on too much knitting work. It’s great- because I’m really making knitting my “big girl” job, which is amazing and exciting.  I never even considered “professional knitter” when I did those “What I Want To Be When I Grow Up” assignments when I was a kid.  I always thought it would just be a hobby.  So, it’s fantastic that I’m actually getting paid knitting design work.

However, I may have bit off more than I can chew this month.  I (accidentally?) agreed to three contracts this month.  I should be able to manage everything, after all I’ve got until the end of the month, which is a long way away.  But in the meantime, I’m going to be knitting like the wind!

It feels a little like the month before Christmas- working as fast as I can, in every available minute.

Cross your fingers and send good knitting vibes!

Do you ever take on too much knitting?  What do you do to help yourself go faster?