Monthly Archives: February 2014

A Call for Ideas

As much as I try to be more, I am only one person, with one person’s ideas.  So, I wanted to ask you a favor.  It would be awesome if you could let me know if you have any questions, ideas, thoughts, or other knitting-related ramblings you want to hear about.

Do you have a project you want to make, but can’t find a pattern for?  Do you want to learn how to do a specific technique?  Did something weird happen to you the last time you worked on a pattern, and you want to share?

Or, do you have an itch to try writing yourself?  Do you want to contribute to an On the Needles guest post?  Did you write a pattern, that you want to get a little more exposure?

Email me (, tweet at me (@on_the_needles), or contact me through the blog if you have ideas/questions/submissions.  I’ll have my people talk to your people (in other words, we’ll chat).

Let’s make On the Needles bigger and better than ever!

Pattern: Hellenic Pullover

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHey, did you like my Ravellenic Games sweater?  Want to make one yourself?  I wrote out a pattern!  (Word of warning, it’s the first time I’ve really written out a full-on-sweater-in-multiple-sizes pattern, so there might be some math errors.  I tried to make all the math come out right, but you never know.)

Anyway, this sweater is a simple top down yoke pullover with slip-stitch colorwork at shoulders, hem and cuffs. A few short rows at the back of the neck make the sweater lay nicely over your shoulders, and a rolled ribbing collar gives this sweater a beautiful finish. It’s knit a fairly large gauge with cozy (and affordable) Knit Picks’ Wool of the Andes, making it perfect for when you want a new hand-knit sweater right now.

The pattern is available here:

Hellenic Pullover



Accross the Finish Line

Phew!  The Olympics are over, and the Ravellenic Games are finished!  I don’t know if you took part, but I had a really great time.  And I knit like a Norwegian cross-country skier (in other words- really, really quickly).

My sweater came together without too much trouble.  I did have a little issue during the first weekend of the games, when I had a little math issue (compounded by the fact that I – overachiever that I am – was trying to finish an entire sweater in a week) that forced me to re-knit my sleeves a couple times.  (Apparently my arms are not 12 inches long and pointy.  Who knew?)  But, other than that, I skated through this project at a nice little clip.

Anyway, here’s my final product in all it’s glory!  (Please ignore the slightly awkward poses.  I can make a sweater in two weeks, but I’m damned if I can take a decent photograph.  It’s a curse.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI blocked the sleeves slightly too much, so they’re a smidge long, but that’s OK.  I have long monkey arms, so it’s sometimes a treat to have too-long sleeves.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI love how the slip-stitch color-work panels turned out.  (And they were crazy easy to do!  I’ll post instructions soon.  Maybe Wednesday, if I have time.)

The sweater was worked in KnitPicks’ Wool of the Andes, and the colors were:

  • Sapphire Heather (body)
  • Bluebird (darker contrast blue)
  • Clarity (pale contrast blue)
  • Papaya Heather (orange)
  • Fairy Tale (fuchsia)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADespite the dorky pictures, I’m quite pleased how this project turned out.

Did you participate in the Ravellenics?  What did you make?

I’m Ease-y

When you are getting ready to start knitting a new pattern, you might come across phrases like “Meant to be worn with positive ease” or “Designed to have 1 inch of negative ease” or even “Zero ease.”  What the heck is ease?

Ease is a really easy (sorry, I had to) way for a pattern designer to tell you how fitted (or not) a garment is meant to be.  A garment with positive ease (like this sweater) is meant to be worn loosely.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A garment with negative ease (like these socks) are knit slightly smaller than my feet, so they end up nice and snug.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A garment with zero ease (like this hat) has exactly the same dimensions as my head, so the hat is neither too tight nor too loose.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Ease is measured in inches (or centimeters, if you’re not in America).   To calculate the ease, you measure both the garment, and the person who will wear it.  Then you subtract the person’s measurement from the garment’s measurement.

For example, if a sweater has a bust line of 40 inches, and the person who is meant to wear it has an actual bust line of 36 inches, the ease for the sweater is +4 inches.  (40-36=4)

If a different sweater has a bust line of 35 inches, and if the same person wears it, the ease of this sweater is -1 inch.  (35-36=-1)

Got it?

Ease makes a huge difference in how a finished garment looks.  You wouldn’t want a fitted, structured sweater with positive ease- it would look baggy and too big.  And, you wouldn’t want a slouchy, cozy sweater with negative ease- it would look like you were trying to wear your little sister’s clothes.  And the last thing you want to do is knit up an entire sweater, only to have it look like you pulled it from the by-the-pound bin at Goodwill.  Ew.


I finished my Ravellenic Sweater!  And, with days yet to go in the Olympics!  It’s cool to see how fast you can knit when you are working up against a deadline.  It’s blocking now, but when it’s dry, I’ll post some pictures.

But for now, though, I am a little bit at loose ends.  Do you feel the same way when you finish a big project?  I don’t really know what to do with myself.  I have a pair of half-finished socks, but all those little tiny stitches seem daunting right now.  I don’t want to go spend money on more yarn for another sweater.  And working on my afghan seems like too big a project.  Ugh.  I’m in a sorry state.

What I really want, is something that I can sit down, and in an hour or two have a completely finished project.  Something useful, and nice, and not too taxing on my brain.

I’ve got it!  The perfect in-between-projects project: washcloths!

Knit washcloths are great for in the kitchen, or for face washing (they’re super gentle on skin).  They also make really great gifts; wrap up one or two with a fancy bar of soap, and you’ve got a really nice little gift.  (Keep a few on hand, in case you forget someone’s birthday.)

If my brain is super-fried, I’ll just make a square of garter-stitch out of some pretty dishcloth cotton (like Sugar n’ Cream, or KnitPick’s Dishie).  Or, if I have a lace/cable/texture pattern bouncing around in my head, I’ll make a swatch of that pattern, sort of doodling with yarn.

Or, if you want a pattern, try one of these:

The Almost Lost Washcloth by Julie Tarsha

firsttakecloths11_small_best_fit[1]Leafy Washcloth by Megan Goodacre

leafycloth5_medium2[1]Grandmother’s Favorite by Traditional Design


Inspiration: Downton Abbey

I, like everyone else in America, am a huge fan of Downton Abbey.  If you’re not watching it, you are missing out.  Sure, it’s basically just a soap opera, but it’s on PBS, it’s vaguely historical, and they speak in posh British accents, so it feels like you’re watching something with a little more substance than your average soap.  Also, Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess is pretty much the best thing in the history of TV. Just saying.

Unfortunately, while the costumes are historically accurate (and gorgeous) there is a definate lack of yarn-related garments.  I’ve been on the lookout for a scarf, a sweater, or a pair of socks since the first episode, and frankly have come up almost entirely empty.  There was one episode where they played cricket and wore sweaters, but that was it (and not terribly exciting).

That was, until last night, when the under-cook Daisy rocked this crocheted hat when she went to go visit with her father-in-law.

UntitledIt’s an odd sort of a hat, to be honest, but she looks adorable in it.  (But Daisy is adorable no matter what, so that could be part of it).  It’s somewhere between a beret, a cloche and a potato sack.  Untitled2I like to imagine her sitting in her dormitory, working on her hat in the few moments she would have to herself between meals.Untitled3If you want to make yourself a daisy-inspired crochet hat, try one of these patterns:

Beret by Columbia-Minerva

india.arie_beret_medium[2]Slightly Slouchy Hat by MK Carroll


Happy Birthday to On the Needles!

It’s been a whole year since my first “Hello World” Post!  How about that?  I’m pretty pleased with how this blog’s grown, and I hope you are, too.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn numbers (because I’m a nerd), here’s our year together:

I’ve published 156 posts.

We’ve chatted with 186 comments.

Almost 100 of you visit this site every day. (This blows my mind… I don’t think I even know 100 people in real life!)

I’ve written 17 patterns this year.

The most popular pattern is my Socks by the Numbers, which you have cast on 52 times (according to Ravelry).

Basically this means that I’m having a really great time working on this blog with you guys.  And, I hope you’re enjoying it, too.  I’ve got plans for more awesome next year (and the year after that, and the year after that), but let me know if there is anything else you’d be interested in seeing.

Here’s to another fantastic year of knitting and blogging!


Yarn Spotlight: Rome

I don’t usually wax poetic about a specific brand of yarn.  It makes me feel like a (unpaid) corporate shill.  But in this case, this yarn is so exceptional, so weird, and so awesome that I can’t help myself.

Mom bought me a handful of  skeins of HPKY’s Rome yarn for my birthday.  And when I opened the box, I immediately put down the project I was working on to start knitting with the Rome Yarn.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s incredibly fluffy and soft. Like kittens and clouds, and… I don’t know… ducklings.  It’s mostly baby alpaca and Merino, with a little bit of nylon.

At first glance, Rome looks like unspun pencil roving, but when you start working with it, you realize it’s incredibly strong and totally not split-y.  When you look closer, you see that it’s actually really cool space-aged yarn.  What they’ve done is take a super-fine nylon fiber and knit it into an I-cord.  Then, they filled the little knit tube with the alpaca and merino.  See? (It’s crazy hard to photograph, but this was the best I could do.  If you squint really hard, you can kind of see the I-cord stitching).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABecause the alpaca and merino fibers haven’t actually been spun together, your finished project ends up extra fluffy and cuddly.  I made the HPKY Bias Shawl with my Rome yarn, and it’s the warmest, most wonderful thing I’ve made in a long time.  The squishy-ness of garter stitch combined with the fluffiness of the yarn makes it unbelievably lovely.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you see a skein (or two) of HPKY’s Rome, grab it up.  Even if you don’t knit with it, you can keep it around to pet like a kitten.  I wouldn’t judge.

Inspiration: Parade of Knitwear

I don’t know about you, but I was glued to the TV on Friday night, eagerly awaiting the awesome (or the semi-awesome, as it often ends up) that is the Olympic Opening Ceremony.  Especially since this is the Winter Games, I was expecting some excellent knitwear.  I was less than happy, therefore, when a disturbing amount of Gore-Tex came out on the athletes.

But, nevertheless, there were a few points of light in a darkness of polar fleece and weatherproof jackets.

Slovakia went all-in on a heart-motif for their hats and scarves.2014 Winter Olympic Games - Opening Ceremony

Kyrgyzstan wore red-and-white scarves with a very cool curlicue motif.2014+Winter+Olympic+Games+Opening+Ceremony+_ksK8nJ2t5kl[1]

Andorra went all-out with (pardon my French) bitchin’ color work sweaters.OLY-2014-OPENING-CEREMONY-DELEGATION

And, well… This happened.1391805399020-USP-Olympics--Opening-Ceremony39[1]

It’s a knitting blog, so I have to include us in this post, after all.  But, let’s just not talk about them ever again.  Embarrassing and tacky, to say the least.  Not good, USA.  Not good at all.

Another awesome knitting moment happened during the Men’s Slopestyle (which, if you haven’t seen it yet, you need to watch it.  It’s super cool).  Check it out:1654697_10152558586959918_501735966_o

See that?  It’s Antti Koskinen, the coach from Finland.  Apparently the whole Finnish team are passing around the scarf, so that everyone who wants to will get a chance to work on it.  I can’t imagine a cooler project, or a better way to calm your nerves when you’re at the Olympics!

Olympic Knitting and Social Media for Dummies

When I first started this blog, one of the first things I did was get a Twitter account, and link it to the blog.  Then I immediately forgot about it.  My poor Twitter page has been sitting all alone and neglected for almost a whole year.

But no more!  I’m determined to learn about Twitter!

1249827-twitter-logo[1]You’d think that Twitter would be easy enough for someone raised on computers to figure out, but it’s rather more complicated than I expected.  Retweets, @’s, hashtags…  This might be the first time that I truly felt like an old Luddite.

But I will persevere!  And tweet about my Ravellenic Games sweater.  Twitter seems like the perfect venue to give you updates on my sweater progress.  Doesn’t it?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo, if you tweet, follow me @on_the_needles.  Or, if you don’t have an account of your own, you can look at my tweets here.