Something New!

I’ve been on a real “knitting from my stash” kick over the last year. According to my notes in Ravelry, I’ve knit about 20 projects from stashed yarn since quarantine began. I’ve really made the best of a bad situation, and I’ve made some things that I’m really proud of. (Also some things that I’m not proud of, but at least I used up yarn.)

Which is all well and good.

But there’s nothing like getting a big order of brand new yarn in the mail.

And, y’all. What an order!

First, I ordered a big (big!) pile of Simply Wool Bulky in Wilbur. (It’s called Bulky, but really it’s more of a generous worsted or Aran.) It’s a lovely undyed old-school wool, in a nice grayish-tan color that goes with just about anything. This is going to be a big throw blanket with an all-over lace pattern for one of my oldest friends’ wedding this summer. (I don’t think she reads the blog, but if you’re reading this and you’re an old friend of mine and you’re getting married this summer… forget what you just read!) It doesn’t look like we’ll be able to get out there for the wedding, between the baby and the whole “flying on planes during a pandemic” thing, but I want to be there in spirit, so a big blanket it is! (Stay tuned for more details/progress reports. Hopefully.)

And the rest of the yarn is my favorite Provinical Tweed in Salsa Verde and Caramel to make a pair of Weasley-inspired sweaters for a friend’s two little boys. I love this yarn for kids’ clothes. It’s super soft and washes like a dream. They’re going to be so cute!

I’m glad I got the materials for two different projects- it’ll be nice to have a big, satisfying project as well as a couple quick little knits to switch between.

I’ve gotta say, it’s exciting to have a pile of brand new yarn waiting for me!

So Sew Buttons

It turns out that I’m not great at technology. (A surprise to nobody.) I set up a cute little poll so that you guys could help me decide which buttons to use on my little brown stash sweater.

Against all odds, I managed to get the poll to go live. But, in true Allison fashion, I couldn’t figure out how to access the results except by voting myself, which skewed the results. Then, I wanted to check again. And again. I tried to vote for every button, to keep the results un-tampered-with, but I honestly don’t know what I did.

Anyway, long story short: I picked the blue buttons.

They’re cute, but they didn’t pop quite enough, so I decided to try something fun. Instead of matching my sewing thread to the button color or the sweater color, I went with bright red! It turned out so cute, I can’t stand it.

Too bad it’s way too warm my big kid to agree to wear a wooly sweater like this. Maybe the little one will be willing to try it on next year.

What’s your favorite finishing touch to add to a project?

New Pattern: Tiptoe Socks

That’s right! Not one, but two patterns in as many weeks!

And this one is maybe my silliest yet. Tiptoe Socks!

I mean, come on. Stupid little ankle socks with stupid little pompom bunny tails. They’re the best. (I mean “stupid” in the best way possible, but come on, what adult needs socks with puffy pompoms? Me, I suppose. But still.)

These li’l guys are your basic top-down ankle socks with some simple-but effective stripe/colorblocking detail, and a reinforced heel. But, of course, the best part is that ding dang pompom. You can use a store-bought pompom or make your own with leftover yarn. Either way, you can’t go wrong.

This pattern is part of Knit Picks’ newest collection of socks, Rockin’ Socks. If you’re a fan of colorful and cheerful socks, this book is definitely worth checking out.

So go pick up a copy of my Tiptoe Socks, and cheer yourself up!

New Pattern: Coho Cowl

Oh, boy! That’s right! I’ve got a new pattern for you!

It’s been a minute. Between lacking in motivation, inspiration, and time (thanks, baby), I haven’t published a new pattern in a while.

But, I’m happy to say that I’m back!

Introducing the Coho Cowl!

It’s a super comfy cowl, worked flat and seamed, covered with a lovey nautical-inspired cable lattice. The pattern comes with two options: a tall-but-narrow cowl (think, turtleneck minus the rest of the sweater), and a longer looser version (shown).

I’m really excited about the collection that this pattern is included with, too. Knit Bits: Learn to Knit Cables is the first instalment in a new series of booklets that Knit Pick’s is working on that teach the fundamentals of knitting through actual patterns. I’ve gotten a peek at the book, and it’s great! Tons of super-useful pictures and really thorough instructions.

If you’re interested in upping your cable game, go grab yourself a copy over at Knit Pick’s website!

A Simple Request

Hi folks. I’ve got a simple request to make to y’all. It’s not knitting-related, but it’s important. It’s also maybe not what you come here to see, so I’ve included some pretty pictures of my how my vegetable garden’s going these days.

Look! Some pretty leaf lettuce! I think the spotty ones are my favorite. So cute!

Here’s the request: If you haven’t done it already, please go get your Covid vaccine. (If you’ve already gotten your vaccine, YAY!)

Blueberries! It’s our first year trying blueberries and I can’t wait to see if we actually get any fruit. Fingers crossed.

Here’s the thing about the vaccine. Sure, it’s a personal choice, but your actions really affect everybody. For example, my kids are both too young to get the vaccine, so even though both my husband and I have been vaccinated, we have to continue to quarantine the way we have for the last year. My oldest kid is 3 years old, and he’s only interacted with 4 kids in the last year and a half (and two of those interactions were 1-time outdoor playdates with masks). That’s not healthy. My youngest is 6 months old and hasn’t met his grandparents yet, not to mention his aunts and uncles. That’s just sad.

A small forest of bok choy. We’re eating a lot of stir fries these days.

Once we have enough people vaccinated to create herd immunity, people like my kids (or other folks who can’t get vaccinated for medical reasons) will be able to go out in public again. My boys will be able to… I don’t know… do something crazy, like go to school, visit the library or just go to McDonald’s for a Happy Meal.

Peas! Supposedly they’re going to have bright pink flowers and purple pods!

And, it’s super easy and free to get vaccinated! I got my vaccine at Walgreens. I signed up online and went in to my local pharmacy. There wasn’t any line, and I got a cool red bandaid. Win/win. And these days, most places are allowing walk-ins for people over 16. Just google “Covid Vaccine (your city)” and I’m sure you’ll find a place nearby.

One of my beds, soon to be overflowing with produce, assuming I don’t mess it up. Front to back: radishes, carrots, potatoes, kale, and sugar-snap peas.

And, finally, the vaccine is super-safe. Millions of people have taken it, with only minimal side effects. If you’re still concerned about safety, there is a ton of really great information out there. Sawbones is a really excellent podcast that talks a lot about Covid and vaccinations. And if you want to go straight from the horse’s mouth, the CDC is a great resource.

Sure, it’s not the most fun, after all, who likes getting shots? And, if you’re anything like the people in my family, you’ll be pretty under the weather for 24 hours. But it’s really important. It’s important to the economy, it’s important to schools, and it’s important to kids and other people who can’t get vaccinated.

And dear lord, I want to go to a yarn store!

Indecisive

OK, so. I need help deciding because… well… I’m indecisive.

Buttons.

This sweater has 3 button holes, but it turns out that I only have 2 of the buttons I had intended to use (these adorable little vintage stick-buttons from the button collection I inherited from my Grandma a few years ago). Bummer.

So, now I’ve got three other sets that could work:

Blue ceramic buttons I made years ago when I worked for a ceramics artist who let me put my own projects in the kiln when I fired the tiles we were actually paid to make:

Plain creamy sage(ish) green buttons that I’m pretty sure my grandma cut off of a blouse in the 90s.

These slightly shimmery caramel-colored buttons from (I can only assume) 1976.

Or, should I just go with the original stick buttons, and just pretend that I didn’t make 3 button holes? It’s not like it’ll ever be all the way buttoned-up anyway.

I think I’m currently leaning toward the caramel ones, but will they make my kid look like an extra from Laverne & Shirley?

Help me decide!

And a biiigggg stretch

I just love blocking. Of course it’s magical on lace and fancy cable projects, but it’s just as satisfying on simple projects. I’m always amazed how much even the simplest (for example) bulky stockinette sweater benefits from a good block.

Observe:

Looks fine, right? Nothing too rough about it. But give it a solid block (or even a half-effort one, like I did this time… because my pins were upstairs and I didn’t feel like getting them) and it transforms! Also, it’s still slightly damp, because even though I started it blocking several days ago, it is a very solid sweater, and is taking a million years to dry.

But look at the ruler- it’s grown a good 2″ across the chest (maybe more), and the drape and feel of the fabric has absolutely changed. The stitches are so much more even and the collar looks so much better. It’s gone from stand-up-on-its-own-stiff to smooth-and-velvety. Honestly, I’m kind of jealous of this sweater. I wish it was in my size!

What’s the best blocking transformation you’ve done?

And a little too short

Another day, another game of chicken (just about) won.

This lil’ sweater ended up pretty cute, I have to admit.  It also ended up a little shorter than is maybe ideal, but… eh.  I finished the arms, like I talked about last week and had only a smidgen of yarn left.  The plan had been to use whatever was leftover after the arms were worked to add a little length and a ribbed waistband to the body of the sweater.  But, since I had so little left (only a few rows worth, really), I ripped back a bit and started the ribbing with the ripped-back yarn.

I’m just hoping the swatch didn’t lie to me.  Right now, the sweater is really, really thick- like “it would stand up on its own” thick.  The swatch had a similar texture when I knitted it up, but after I blocked it out pretty strongly, it’s now nice and soft and kind of flowy.  Fingers crossed, the sweater ends up the same way.

Because right now, I’m not sure it’s even big enough for the kid.  And it certainly won’t be big enough for him next winter.

Regardless, I’ll block it and add some buttons.  (I think I have some little wooden stick-buttons that would be cute.) 

But honestly, all this fuss is over nothing, since getting him in anything heavier than a t-shirt is almost impossible these days.  Of course the knitter’s kid runs hot.  Of course he refuses a coat on all but the chilliest, wettest days.  He was literally playing outside in a diaper and rainboots yesterday.  It was 50 degrees.  Sigh.

What have you (almost) finished lately?

Smaller and Smaller

I’ve been complaining about my dwindling stash for a while now, but I’m still making it work. Sure, I don’t really have enough of my usual favorite yarns to make full sweaters or afghans or shawls (my go-to projects), but I do have weird remnants of odd weights of yarn.

For example, I found 2.5 balls of yarn at the back of a drawer the other day. It’s chocolate brown, super-bulky, extra soft (and clearly ready to pill if you look at it wrong). I think it’s Knit Picks’ Biggo, but I could be wrong- the tags were lost years ago and I can’t remember what I bought it for. It’s not really enough for even a scarf, much less a full-on sweater or a blanket (which would have been my project of choice if I had more of it).

I estimated the yardage, based on the yarn weight and the ounces I had and figured I should have just enough for the smallest kids’ size in my favorite Top-Down Sweater book. I cast on and got to work on a raglan with a Henley collar (one of my favorite boy-styles, and so easy to do- you just start making a cardigan, then cast on a couple extra stitches at the front and start working in the round).

It’s looking good so far- I’ve made it most of the way through the body, and even went to the trouble of finishing the neck. I’ve only got one more skein of yarn, so I think I’m going to make the sleeves next, so that I’m sure I have enough to finish them off properly, before finishing the body. My theory, anyway, is that a body can be an inch or two short without looking too wild, but sleeves have to be long enough. (Is that my baggage from being a very long-limbed teenager who had a whole wardrobe of accidental highwaters and inadvertent 3/4-length shirts? Perhaps.)

I know, I know, another yarn-chicken semi-improvised sweater. Will I learn?

No.

No, I will not.

Fingers crossed that I’ve got enough yarn for this bad boy.

Also, fingers crossed that it ends up fitting the kid. It’s looking a little small right now, but it should block up pretty big, if I trust the swatch. I suppose if it doesn’t work for the kid, I can always save it for next year (or the year later) when the baby gets big enough… I knew there was a practical reason to have a second kid- more opportunity for my knits to get worn!

How’s your stash holding up?

All done*

*For the most part, anyway.

And, I’m pleased to say, my sweater turned out pretty great!

I was worried it was going to be too short, but it ended up a surprisingly flattering hip length! And, I had plenty of yarn! I had about an egg-sized ball of the handspun and a half a skein of the blue when all was said and done.

I finished the body with a whole skein of blue left over, then picked up a whole mess of stitches for the button band. (Pro tip- when picking up a button band, you pick up 2 stitches in every 3 rows as you go up the sides, then pick up 1 stitch in every stitch across the neck. Then, check to make sure the two sides are more-or-less equal and if you have the right number of stitches for the ribbing you’re doing. If one side has too many stitches, instead of ripping out and re-picking up the stitches, just work the appropriate number of decreases on that side in the next row as you establish the ribbing. And, if you need to change the number of stitches to make the ribbing come out evenly, do the same thing, but at the back of the neck. So much easier than ripping out, and no one will ever know!)

I threw in some button holes after a couple rows, and finished off the button band in pattern. OK, it turned out I threw in too many button holes (in my defense, I wasn’t paying attention), so I used a little matching thread to sew up the extra one.

Then I blocked it and added on some buttons that I happened to have that were the right size and more or less the right color (or so I thought).

Once they were on and the sun came out (I added them late at night, and it turns out I couldn’t really see them), I realized they were definitely not the right buttons. But they’re the ones I have in my stash, and they’re functional, so they’re staying on for now. The moment I get to go to a yarn shop again, I’ll get something cute (and probably silver) for this sweater.

But for now, I’m really pleased with how this has turned out!

What have you guys finished lately?