Monthly Archives: May 2016

Inspiration: All the Cables

Hello, my name is Allison and I have a problem.  I love cables too much.

It’s funny, now that I’m on the body portion of my cabled sweater, which is all in stockinette, I’m finding it difficult to keep my attention on it.  Where are my cables?  Where is my interest?  Why isn’t my cable needle out?  It makes me kind of sad.

And what’s a sad knitter to do, except dream of her next project?

I love the understated simplicity and interesting construction of this pullover.  The cable/eyelet combo across the front and back is just gorgeous.  But I don’t know if it has enough cables to tame the raging cable monster in my brain.

Natsumi by Yoko HattaNatsumi_01_medium2[1]These cozy little mitts are super pretty, too.  I love how the cables run directly into the ribbing at the top and bottom.  But, while the cabling is very pretty, I don’t know if it is unusual enough.

Traveling Cable Hand Warmers by Purl Soho

traveling-cable-hand-warmers-4-2_medium2[1]Ah ha!  This might be perfect!  After all I’m looking for the most over the top, ridiculous cable pattern I can find.  This hat is nothing but an amazing, beautiful tangle of cable loveliness.  And, I can always use a new hat.

Snowstorm Hat by Anna RaufSONY DSCDo you ever get caught up on a specific project or technique?  What do you do when you can’t get something out of your head?

Tutorial: Three-Needle Bind Off

I’m still jazzed about the three-needle bind off I did on my cabled sweater this week.  It’s just such a neat (in both senses of the word) technique that doesn’t get used enough.  It’s a great way to join shoulders on a pieced sweater, or pieces of a scarf, or squares of an afghan.  Is it kind of weird that I want to design something that uses the three-needle bind off, just so I can do it some more?  Possibly.

Anyhoo, if you haven’t done it before, it might feel a bit tricky- after all, you have to wrangle two pieces of knitting and three needles.  But, trust me!  It’s super simple.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFirst, hold your knitting with good sides together in your left hand.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen, insert your third needle (in your right hand) into the first stitch of each piece of knitting.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWrap your yarn, and pull it through, dropping the two stitches off the left needles, just like you’re doing a k2tog.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen, do it again. (Work a K2tog using one stitch from each needle.)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou’ll have two stitches on your right needle.  So, now it’s time to do a plain ‘ol bind off, pulling the first stitch over the second.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJust keep going!  Work a K2tog using one stitch from each left hand needle, then pull the old stitch over the new.

When you’re finished, you’ll end up with a lovely neat row of bound-off stitches.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd, when you open up the piece and look at the right side- Ooh!  So pretty!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHave you ever used a three-needle bind off?

Cable Sweater: Back with a vengeance

Now that I’ve finished my EPIC SECRET PROJECT, I can go back to my lovely purple sweater!  Time for more cables!

(Apparently I really like cables-  I’m still really enjoying them after more than a month of cabling.  I should make more cabled projects!)

I finished off both fronts, which are both generous 10″ by 30″ rectangles of thickly cabled loveliness.  Then I did something else that I really enjoy, but don’t do nearly enough- a three-needle bind-off.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe tops of the front panels are joined together at the spine with a beautifully neat row of three-needle bind off.  The cables come together perfectly, and it just looks so professional.  It’s a technique I don’t use much, but one that always gets me excited.  It reminds me of a zipper, carefully mushing two separate pieces together so that they fit perfectly together.  It’s just so satisfying.

Then, I picked up a bunch of stitches across the back and now I’m chugging along on a big ol’ panel of stockinette for the body back.  If I were to do it again, I think I’d add another big cable running down the spine.  But I don’t feel like ripping out all my work, so I’ll just leave it as is.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m still unsure how wearable this sweater will be- it’s kind of an odd shape.  But I’m absolutely loving working on it.  If it ends up being unwearable, I can at least rip out the back and sleeves and be left with a pretty scarf.

Dun, dun, Done!

So, I feel like my posts have been a little lacking in content lately.  I’ve written a bunch of little, silly posts, about TV and such but nothing with  a lot of meat lately.  Sorry about that.  But I have an excuse.

I’ve been working on a monster of a design for KnitPicks.  And it’s been eating up all my time.  While I still can’t talk about it (not until next year when it’s published), I can tell you I’ve finished it!  A little under a mile of worsted-weight tweed in garnet red.  Tons of cables.  And, well, that’s about all I can tell you.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASorry to be all secretive and mysterious, but I’m super excited about this one, both because it’s a really pretty finished object, and because I don’t have to work on it any more!

I’m sure you’ve had projects like that- huge knits that are marathons of complicated stitches that never seem to end.  And after they’re done, you sit back and go “Wow, I made that!”

I’m looking forward to showing off this project down the line, but in the meantime, tell me about your most epic knits!  I’d love to hear about them.

A Love Letter

The following is a love letter to my favorite cable needle. (Yes, I know I’m weird.  I’ll blame it on the fact I haven’t had my coffee yet.)

Dearest Cable Needle,

It feels like we’ve been together forever.  Could it be true, that I bought you in college, more than ten years ago?  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You were one of a pack of three, but I knew you were special from the first.  The smallest of your siblings disappeared in minutes.  And the largest has been lost somewhere in my house (or possibly the car… or maybe somewhere out in the yard).  But you’ve stayed true, faithfully at my side (and in my knitting bag) for years.

You are such a simple little tool, just a under 4 inches long without any bells or whistles.  But therein lies your beauty.  Lovely blonde birchwood, tapered to rounded points, with a narrow waist to hold my stitches safely out of the way.  Perfection

You’ve been smoothed by years of use to a lovely satiny patina that slips into stitches with ease.  And, you’re beautiful enough to be used as a shawl pin.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI love you, Cable Needle.  And if I ever lose you, I’ll be very, very sad.


PS.  Do you want your own Perfect Cable Needle?  I really can’t recommend them enough.  Look online at the Brittany website for stores in your area.  (They make really excellent dpns, too.)

Podcasts, Knitting, and Knitting Podcasts

Of course, I love my audio books, but about half the time, I’d rather listen to a podcast as I knit.  They’re less formal, usually require less devoted attention, and make me feel like I have a  friend hanging out in my ear while I’m working through a particularly tricky cable row.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m a big fan of a bunch of shows produced by Maximum FunMy Brother, My Brother, and Me (a silly advice show) and Sawbones (a show about weird medical history) are two of my favorite.  And I’m loving one of their newest shows, Getting Curious (an interesting interview show with a very charming host).

I love big, funny show like The Flop House (where they watch bad movies and talk about them), and Throwing Shade (where two comedians talk about LGBT and women’s issues).  And I love quiet, weird shows like Lore (a podcast about the historical origins of old ghost stories) and Welcome to Nightvale (a radio play about a very weird and creepy (fictional) town called Nightvale).

But one thing conspicuously absent from my podcast routine is knitting.  I’ve probably tried a dozen different shows, but they haven’t stuck for one reason or another.  I listened to the Knit Picks Podcast for a while a few years back, but dropped it when they changed the format (I should probably give it another go).  And, I really liked the Cast On podcast from Brenda Dayne, but she stopped making new episodes last summer.

I guess it’s something about knitting that doesn’t lend itself too well to radio.  After all, knitting is a very visual and tactile art, and it’s hard to get that across over audio.  Heck, sometimes I have trouble getting knitting ideas across on my blog, and I can include pictures!

So, I guess I’ll keep trying out new knitting podcasts… I’m sure I’ll find one eventually!

Do you listen to podcasts?  Which ones?  Any favorite knitting shows?

Inspiration: Grace and Frankie

I may be only 30, but I am a knitter, quilter, and gardener, and when the weather changes, my knee hurts.  So, I think that makes me an honorary old lady.   And this honorary old lady likes Netflix’s show Grace and Frankie.

Have you watched it?  It’s delightful!  Grace-and-Frankie-sæson-2-Netflix-420x414[1]Sure, it’s a fairly standard “odd couple” type of show, but it is actually really fun and fresh-feeling.  First of all, it stars two *gasp* women (in their *double gasp* 70s!) and they are totally amazing.  Lily Tomlin steals the show as hippy-dippy Frankie.  And Jane Fonda steals it right back as uptight ex-business maven Grace.  The two unlikely friends end up living together (because of complicated reasons involving their husbands leaving them to get married to each other), and figuring out what life is like living on their own.

It’s a funny show, but it’s also sweet and heartfelt (and has even made stoic old me cry a couple times).

But, the costumes.

26FRANKIE3-blog427[1]Oh the costumes.90[1]Grace hasn’t met a starched collar she didn’t like, and I think Frankie must shop in the ‘woodland sprite’ section of Macy’s.  They both always look amazing, and in totally different ways.

Grace rocks a selection of jackets and pantsuits that leave even me (who thinks wearing my “nice flannel shirt” is dressing up) with an itch to go shopping.grace-and-frankie-jane-fonda[1]If she were to ask for a knit garment, you’d be sure it’d be a structured cardigan like this one, complete with shoulder pads and princess seaming.

Nearly Chanel by von Hinterm Steinchanel-pattern_medium2[1]On the other hand, Frankie loves to play with flowy fabrics and interesting silhouettes.  Nothing makes it into her wardrobe without a beautiful print or a gorgeous color.GF_EP110_MM_103014_1071.CR2She’d love to try something a little out-of-the-box, like this really cool tunic, complete with an interesting hemline and pockets.  I think she’d wear it with a really huge crystal statement necklace and some sort of billowy, peasant skirt.

Still Light Tunic by Veera ValimakiDSC_8469_medium2[1]Have you watched Grace and Frankie?  What did you think of it?

Soup Knitting

I feel like I have been consistently sick, under the weather, or allergy-ridden for the last six months.  I’m not sure if my immune system has just decided to give up, or if my students’ germs are getting stronger.  Either way, I am in no shape to be learning new stitches or doing complicated math.

So instead, I’m going to sit on the couch and think about my favorite Soup Patterns.  (I would say “Chicken Soup Patterns,” but I’m vegetarian.)  These are patterns that are tried and true, with simple construction and excellent instructions.  Patterns that I’ve knit over and over again.

Patterns like the the Hitchhiker, by Martina Behm.  Just learn a handful of rows, and you’re set.  You can use whatever yarn you’ve got on hand (a skein or two is plenty), and whatever needles you can reach in your Sudafed-addled state. Before you know it, you’ll have a lovely, comfy scarf with almost no thought required.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOr, you could make the perennial classic, the Baby Surprise Jacket from Elizabeth Zimmermann herself.  This tiny sweater is a perfect way to use up leftover bits of sock yarn (stripes!), and a great excuse to go button shopping.  I like keeping a couple completed BSJ’s in my stash, in case I get asked to go to a last-minute baby shower (which happens more frequently than you’d believe).OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe last one is kind of cheating (or at least tooting my own horn), but it’s totally a pattern I go back to over and over again;  Socks by the Numbers, by me.  It’s so totally simple to make socks of any size you want.  And, this pattern is so plain that it’s easy to modify.  Stripes? Lace? Cables? Yes, yes, and yes.  In fact, everyone in my family got socks last year, and they were all knit up following these basic instructions.Finished_Sock_medium2[1]What are your Soup Patterns (Chicken Noodle or otherwise)?  Why do you keep going back to them?

Still not Knitting

Hoo boy, guys.

I think I may have bitten off more than I can chew…

This quilt is a beast.

I started simply enough, with a fairly simple (or so I thought) quilt square.  It’s just triangles and squares, in only 3 colors (dark blue, light blue, and white).

But then, as I tend to do, I started elaborating.  First I planned out the entire quilt so that I will have to make 12 blocks (which increases work by a ton).  Then I decided that instead of just picking one dark blue fabric and one light blue fabric, I’d pick 4 of each, and mix them up.

But still, while I was just cutting out the pieces, and sewing the first seams, I thought I was doing OK. I still was enjoying myself.  Sure, there was a lot of cutting and pinning and sewing, but it wasn’t bad.

Then I got to the ironing.

I forgot about the ironing.

So much ironing.  (I don’t like ironing.)OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat was I thinking?

Do you have the same problem with biting off more than you can chew?

Inspiration: Early Summer

It’s weird outside, guys.  And it’s starting to freak me out.

We’ve been having ridiculously good weather here for the last month or so.  It’s been sunny.  The sky has been cloudless, and we haven’t had more than a sprinkle of rain in the last few weeks.  It’s even gotten over 80 degrees.  That’s August weather for Seattle, and it’s only the beginning of May.

If it wasn’t 8 in the morning, I’d want to be sitting outside sipping on a can of my favorite IPA and a reading good book.

Like I said, it’s weird.

But, as a former resident of Austin, Texas, I know how to knit for warm weather.  So at least I’ve got that going for me.

First, focus on light, flowy layers knit in thin-gauge wool, like this lovely summery cardigan with beautiful openwork detailing.

Summer Festival by Georgie Nicolsonfestival14_medium2[1]Or if you were determined to go big, instead of a chunky pullover, think about an adorable sundress, like this one.

Summer Sundress by Mari Lynn Patrickep1044_medium[1]But, sometimes, even the thought of knitting up something bigger than a handkerchief is too much in hot (OK- 70 isn’t actually hot, it’s just Seattle hot) weather.  In that case make something tiny and fun, like this ridiculously adorable floral headband.  (If only I could pull this off… sigh.)

Summer Girl- crocheted headband by Monika Sirna3-4_medium2[1]What do you knit when it’s too hot for sweaters and blankets?