7 and counting

It’s funny.  Had you asked me 7 years ago if I’d still be writing patterns and blogging, I probably would have laughed at you.  Heck, had you asked me two years ago (with the kid just around the corner) if I’d still be writing today, I’d be kinda skeptical.  But, here we are- still cruising along. IMG_2674

I know that knitting is definitely one of those things that I will always do, in one way or another.  It’s my favorite way to get my creative juices flowing.  It lets me express myself and clothe my family (and myself).  It gives me something to do with my hands while I’m binging the next Netflix show (by the way, Next in Fashion is a delight).  It’s so much a part of me that I don’t know what I would do with myself if I (for some reason) was not able to knit.

But, I always thought that knitting would be “just” a hobby.  Something I did for fun, on the weekends, and while waiting in boring meetings.  I never thought it would become the thing that I defined my professional life by.  It’s been a wild ride.

Anyway, thank you for following with me on this crazy 7-year-long project.  It’s probably (definitely) the longest I’ve worked on a single thing, and while it’s nice to see the follows and the likes on my posts, the satisfaction I get from seeing my body of work is even better.

It’s been 7 years, I’ve written (almost) 900 posts, published 88 patterns (with a few more in the works),  been featured in 25 collections, 1 magazine, and I’ve written my own sock book (which just got re-printed, by the way!).  I’m not usually comfortable tooting my own horn, but after 7 years, well… Toot toot!

Better Late Than Never

It’s been a week.  Between the kid teething, skipping naps, starting potty training, and generally stretching his “toddler” legs, I’m exhausted.  I had plans to rip back my Stonecroft Shawl and get it finished, but I just couldn’t get it together.

Instead, I pulled out a project that hasn’t been touched in literally years.  I busted out my spinning wheel.

(To be fair, the spinning wheel sees a lot of action when we have playdates- there’s nothing toddlers loves more than large, slightly dangerous machinery, especially if there’s a wheel involved.)

I pulled out the roving I purchased and started spinning in (Are you ready?) 2016!  That’s 4 years ago.  I got two-thirds of the way through the roving (and it wasn’t a big chunk of roving either!) and just stopped.  I couldn’t tell you why- must have just gotten bored or something.

Anyway, I pulled it out again, and got spinning.  It’s looking good, I think, and the actual spinning seems to be coming back faster than I expected.  I guess it’s like riding a bike!

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I’ll be curious to see what the yarn looks like when I’m done (since I don’t really have a plan for it), and if I can see a difference between the freshly-spun yarn and the sitting-on-the-shelf-since-the-Obama-administration yarn.

What projects have you resurrected after a long hibernation?

Good news/bad news

So, I’ve got good news and bad news about my shawl.

Good news: I’ve made it almost to the end.  I finally decided to stop adding repeats and start the border.  It’s a nice size, and I love how the pattern looks all worked up in this yarn.  I think it’s going to look even more fabulous when I’ve blocked it out.IMG_2611

Other good news: The border is looking good.  I love the way the faux-cable ends so crisply and the border takes over.

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Still more good news: I really enjoyed the stretchy bind-off the pattern calls for.  It looks a bit messy now, but I think it’ll block up like a dream.  I’m going to keep it in mind for future projects.

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And here’s the bad news:  I totally lost at yarn chicken.  And, since this is the only skein I have of this yarn, I can’t just grab a couple yards of yarn from somewhere else.  So I’ve got two options:  undo the bind-off and the last couple rows and re-knit an even narrower border. (The border is already more narrow than called for in the pattern because I procrastinated starting the border in the first place.)  Or, I can rip all the way back to the body of the shawl, remove the last faux-cable repeat, and start the whole border earlier, make it wider and (hopefully) not run out of yarn before I’m ready.  I’m not super stoked about either choice.

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What would you do?

Triangles

It’s been a while since I did a triangle shawl, and I forgot one very important thing about them.

They’re triangles.

I realize this seems obvious; it’s right there in the name.  But it’s one thing to pick out a project and another to actually knit it up.

The thing about triangles is that they start out skinny, then get wider and wider as you go.  (Again, very obvious.)  So, when I started this shawl two weeks ago, it was a breeze!  I flew through the first 5 charts!  It was knitting up so fast, and I was having such fun with the project.  IMG_2585

Then, the inherent triangle-ness took over and the rows slowly became longer and longer, and the shawl started feeling like it was slowing down.

Don’t get me wrong, I still like it.  It’s a very satisfying pattern, and the contrasting lace panels are fun to work.  But it’s getting to be slow going.IMG_2590

Also, I’ve been trying to see how many repeats I can do before I have to start the wide band of edging.  I’ve got more yarn than the Small size calls for, but less than the Large, so it’s kind of a guessing game.  I swear I’ve said “OK, I’ll work one more repeat, then I’ll start the edging” maybe 6 times at this point.  I really like this yarn and want to use every last bit, but I also have very little interest in losing yarn chicken and having to rip it out again.

Maybe I’ll do one more repeat, then I’ll start the edging…

A New Project Emerges!

I’m so ready for this one, folks!

I showed you my stash yarn last week, and have decided to go ahead and start knitting with some of it.  Specifically, this skein of Local Color Fiber Studio Whole Flock.  It’s deliciously crunchy-looking (and a little crunchy-feeling, despite the angora, but in a good way).IMG_2519 It’s something I’ve been looking for an appropriate pattern for since last winter.  In fact, I was almost to the point where I was going to say “screw it!” and just turn it into a simple garter scarf (boring!).

Since it’s so rustic-looking, I decited to pair it with a kind of feminine, lacy pattern.  But I didn’t want the pattern to be too fru-fru, since that’s not really my style.  So, I poked around on Ravelry for a while, and found this lovely triangular shawl.

It’s the Stone Croft Shawl by Judy Marples!DSC_0051.jpgIt’s a fairly geometric shawl, with a wide band of the “netting” that runs along two sides of the triangle, and a pretty column of faux-cable lace in the middle.  The perfect balance of pretty and femme, without tipping over into “girly.”  And, since the shawl is knit from one point, out to the wide end, I think I’ll be able to use every last scrap of my special yarn (or at least that’s the goal right now).

I’ve already got a few inches under my belt, and I can’t wait to see how it looks all finished up.  I bet this yarn is going to block really well- I’m excited!IMG_2563

Have you started anything new lately?

New Year, Old Yarn

I’m not doing any new year’s resolutions this year.  Not for any real reason; mostly because I never can think of a really good resolution.  But, I have been thinking of working on getting my stash down.

I mean, I often (almost always) knit from my stash, but I’ve still managed to end up with a surprising amount of yarn, just sitting there in my studio.  Sure, a lot of it is single skeins, but I’ve got surprisingly large amounts of several yarns, and even some pretty special single skeins.

It seems a shame to leave them just sitting there.

But here’s the issue- I’m completely out of ideas for patterns that I might use for these yarns.  Here’s hoping that one of you have a magical idea to help me use up some of this yarn.

First, I’ve got 360 yards of a super special, sport weight wool-angora blend from Local Color Fiber Studio.  It’s glorious and soft, but looks really crunchy and natural.  I’ve had it for a year or so, and get it out every time I’m looking for a new project.  I still haven’t found just the right pattern for it.  I’m this close to just making a garter triangle scarf, and calling it a day.IMG_2519.JPG

On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve got 5 and a half skeins of super soft, super chunky Knit Picks Swish Bulky.  It’s leftover from a sweater I designed earlier this year (keep an eye out!), and I don’t think it’s enough to make a second full-sized sweater.  It’s such a pretty green, though, I really want to use it for something.

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I’ve also got a full sweater quantity of Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Worsted, a nice wooly workhorse yarn, in sapphire blue.  I’m currently working on a design in the same yarn, so I could just re-knit the same pattern again in blue, but I think I’d like to do something a little more interesting instead.

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Continuing on the Knit Picks jag, I’ve got a giant bag of Hawthorne, my favorite sock yarn from KP.  This is a tricky one, though.  I’ve got about 10 different colors (that don’t necessarily go together), a handful of full skeins, and a bunch of partial skeins.  I’m currently thinking I might use it to crochet an afghan, but that’s really just because I can’t figure out what else to do with it (apart from knitting one thousand socks).

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I also found these three beautiful, peacock blue skeins of Knitting Notions Classic Merino Bamboo, a sport weight wool-rayon blend that is beautiful and shiny, but almost impossible to photograph.  Between the three skeins, I’ve got almost 1500 yards, which has got to be enough to make something wonderful, but I haven’t been able to figure out what to do with it since I was gifted it several years ago.  Will 2020 be the year of the Peacock yarn?  Time will tell.

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Have you done a deep dive into your stash lately? Find anything good?

And, seriously, if you have any ideas for my yarn, I’d love to hear them!

Pattern: Kells Wrap

I ended 2019 with a pattern, and I’m starting 2020 with one, too!

This one’s a little bigger, though, and a little more complex.

It’s a giant, cozy, wrap, every inch covered with intricate cables!  Introducing: the Kells Wrap!52761220_02.jpg

This bad boy is what you will reach for when you really just want to wander around town, wrapped up in a blanket.  It’s thick, it’s cozy and it’s (if I say so myself) really beautiful.

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I’ll be honest, it’s not for the faint of heart, or the first-time cable knitter, but it’s not so complex that it’s impossible to make.  The design was inspired by the illustrations in the Book of Kells (an illuminated manuscript, and one of Ireland’s national treasures).  It’s complex, but it repeats  in an orderly way, so once you’ve worked a couple repeats, you should be able to more or less memorize the design.

If you’re looking for this and other cabled treats, head over and pick up Knit Picks’ new collection, Entwined!

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Or you can get just my pattern here!

Kitchen Reno

I’ve never been one to do home repair.  I know I’ve got plenty of DIY skills, but I also know that I don’t have the kind of skills to, say, lay tile or re-hang a door or renovate a kitchen.

I do, however, have the skills to renovate a play kitchen!

(FYI, this is going to be a long one.  And there isn’t going to be any knitting involved.  You have been warned.)

Anyway, we had been thinking that our kid would appreciate a play kitchen for a while.  After all, one of his favorite things to do is to pull out pots and pans from our cupboards, pretend to stir something (usually puzzle pieces or pompoms) with a wooden spoon.  He’ll then repeatedly say “Cook!  Cook!” until someone acknowledges what he’s doing and takes a “taste.”  It’s very sweet.

Now, as you know, I’m an elaborator.  I could just buy a play kitchen, but no!  I had to do something fancy.  I started my search for a used play kitchen that needed a makeover.  I tried the kid’s consignment shops, Goodwill, I even looked on Craigslist.  And I didn’t find anything that really spoke to me.

But, then, driving home from a playdate, I saw it- on the side of the road.  A really nice home-made play kitchen that needed a little TLC!  It was fate!  A free kitchen!  Right there, less than a half a block from my house!

I hopped out and tried to shove it in the back of my car before the kid realized I wasn’t going to let him out of his car seat.  I couldn’t close the trunk, but it was only a half a block, and my kid was losing it, so I figured I could make it to the house if I just drove carefully.

Well, I immediately hit a pothole and the kitchen fell out the back of my car and busted into about fifteen pieces.

The kid was completely beyond reason at this point, I had smashed a play kitchen across the street (right in front of the previous owner’s house, I might add), and several neighbors had definitely seen what I had done.  Not my best moment.  Luckily, a neighbor stepped up and helped me load the pieces back in my trunk (and let me borrow some bungee cords).

Long story short, I got everything home and got the baby calmed down.  And, now I had a bigger project than I had expected.

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Clearly this play kitchen had started life as a TV stand and some extra lumber, and someone’s very talented grandparent had converted it into a kitchen.

I got to work, taking off the hardware, removing the DVD “burners”, and sanding all the pieces.  I bought a new faucet, paint and some nails and came up with a plan.

First thing, I reassembled the shelves and put the counter top back in place.  (I thought about waiting until after the pieces were painted, but I’m glad I didn’t.  Turns out I’m very bad at driving nails, and I would have totally ruined the paint if I’d done it the other way around.)

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Then a few coats of paint.  (The green looks distinctly more avocado than I had envisioned.  It took a while, but it’s growing on me.)

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Then I broke out the painter’s tape and added in green details on the shelves, cook top and the side.  It really was starting to look good!

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Then I installed the new faucet (which was definitely easier than installing a real faucet), put back the doors (which was more difficult than I had imagined- one of the hinges must have gotten bent in accident, and didn’t want to shut all the way), and cut a piece of plastic for the oven door (that I installed with some truly toxic-smelling glue).

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Then it was time for the last few details- burners made from painted wood circles and cut-up tongue depressors, some chalkboard paint for the “menu,” a new sink, and a hook to hold a kid-sized apron.  Then the grandparents supplied the kitchen with lots of adorable pots and pans, baby cookbooks, and my mom sewed a huge basket of felt food

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Then all that was left was a big red bow on top, and we were ready for Christmas morning!

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I’m happy to say, he loved it!

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I think it was the big winner this year (well, at least until he opened up the beeping, flashing trucks from his great-grandpa).

It was a really fun, and something so different from my usual projects.  I really enjoyed putting it together!

Did you do any Christmas crafting?

New Pattern: Radish Pullover

It’s almost Christmas, and I have a present for you!

It’s the pattern for my Radish Pullover!  It turned out so well, that I just had to write it up.  And I hope you like it, too.

IMG_2276It’s a fairly simple bottom up, seamless pullover with a V-neck and 2×2 ribbing around the cuffs, hem and collar.  There is a fully-charted stranded Radish motif that runs across the sleeves and belly, and the pattern is sized from 0-6 months up to 8-10 years.

This sweater is a great way to use up those partial skeins of sock yarn that I’m sure you have laying around your stash.  The brown doesn’t use more than a half skein, and the radish colors (green, red and white) are only used for a handful of rows each.

And the best part? Since the inspiration for this sweater came from my kid’s favorite book, Sheep in a Jeep, I’m donating all proceeds from this pattern to the Children’s Literacy Initiative, a fantastic organization that supports teachers and their students to help every kid learn how to read.   I’m trying a “Pay what you can” model this time, so you can get the pattern for free, or donate up to $15 (or whatever feels right to you).IMG_2257

So, head on over to Ravelry and pick up a copy of the Radish Pullover so you can make a sweater for your favorite little reader!

Inspiration: His Dark Materials

I always get nervous when they make a movie or TV show from my favorite books.  I mean, I get excited, too, because yay!  They’re making a new version of The Golden Compass!  But also, oh no!  They’re making a new version of The Golden Compass…  there’s no way it’ll be as good as the book.

Well, I’m very pleased to inform you that while HBO’s new His Dark Materials isn’t exactly a word-for word retelling of the book, it’s really really good!

(Here’s where I tell you to go read the books, if you haven’t read them already.  They’re so stinking good… Though, I probably haven’t read them since high school, so I should probably get them out of the library again.)

Anyway, the girl they have playing Lyra, Dafne Keen, is insanely talented, and a total bad ass (pardon my French).  She’s feisty and fierce and exactly the kind of 11-year-old that I want to be when I grow up.

And, she wears some pretty killer knitwear (after all, she’s running around in the arctic tundra! You’ve gotta bundle up while fighting for the fate of all mankind while riding an armored polar bear).His-Dark-Materials-1208770

We’ll start simple.  The mustard-yellow scarf.  It’s a nice, long (but substantial) scarf with a simple rib pattern.  Something like this Mistake Rib Scarf from Purl Soho.

mistake-rib-scarf-mm-600-6-294x441_medium2And her gloves!  Did you see her gloves?  All that fine color work?  To die for!  I don’t think I’d ever have the patience for all those little ends, but man, I’d love a pair like these Bright Gloves by Lesley Smith Designs.IMG_20190325_122756226_medium2

But the thing that really sets off the outfit is her fantastic, cozy hat.  I’ve been watching that hat since it showed up on screen a few weeks ago, and I’m still not 100% sure if it’s knit or crocheted.  I think it’s crocheted, which would make sense, crochet creates a much denser (and warmer) fabric, which would be great for the extreme conditions Lyra faces in the North.  It’s not exactly the same, but this Common People Hat by Martin Up North has the same vibe as Lyra’s.IMG_E6300_medium2

Long story short, give it a watch (and a read), if for no other reason than for the woolens.