Monthly Archives: January 2017

Help!!

I don’t know if you do this, but every time I finish a big project (especially if it’s a big project that I had to finish on a deadline), my mind goes entirely blank.

Like, it’s just static. *bzzzxzxzzxbbxbxzzz*  Nothing happening in there.

My brain is buzzing right now (and not in the good “I’ve got a million great ideas” way).  I just finished a big, purple, stockinette thing for a design I’ve been working on for the last month, and now I’ve got a couple weeks to knit something “for myself” before my next work project comes along.6e96ba2c-468a-4b0a-b19a-f42b4ab60fe3I think it must be something about pouring all your focus, attention, and  creative drive into one specific project.  Focusing so intensely that you don’t think about your “next steps” as you go.  I used to get the same feeling after finals in college.  My mind would totally empty for a day or two after, and I’d just bounce around campus, trying to find something to do.

I’ve spent the morning looking at Ravelry, but nothing is sticking.  Maybe I’ll look through the craft books I got for Christmas- maybe I’ll find something cool in there?  Or maybe I’ll just spend the day glaring at my yarn, and hoping it develops the ability to speak and tells me what I should make next.img_4518Am I the only one?  (Probably not- if you ask that, you’re not the only one, as a rule.) What do you do to break through the “just finished a project” zone-out?

Inspiration: Feminists

Some day, this blog will go back to being a silly knitting-only blog where we just talk about patterns and yarn.  But today is not that day!  I’m still all riled up about the election, and still energized by the March.  So, today let’s look at knitting patterns inspired by three totally amazing feminists.

First up is Susan B. Anthony, suffragette, abolitionist, and OG badass.  From the time she was a teenager, Anthony was involved in what today we’d call “grass roots activism.”  She collected anti-slavery petitions for the American Anti-Slavery Society.  And, when she wasn’t allowed to join other political groups because she was female, she and Elizabeth Cady Stanton (another amazing early feminist), founded their own groups like the Women’s Loyal National League (an abolitionist group), and the New York Women’s State Temperance Society so they could keep fighting.  Then, in the late 1860s, they founded the American Equal Rights Association, which campaigned for equal rights for everyone (including women and African Americans!), and went on to found more activist groups, working for women’s suffrage.  She didn’t just talk about suffrage, either!  In 1872, as an act of civil disobedience, she voted in her hometown and was arrested and convicted at trial.  Unfortunately, she didn’t survive to see the 19th amendment passed (that’s the one that gives women the right to vote), but she is still remembered by women across the country every time they get to vote.220px-susan_b_anthony_c1855Next time you go vote, ladies, remember Susan B. Anthony, and maybe bring along this very cute bag.

Vote Tote by Deb Richeyeco5_vote_tote_op_medium1So, you know how most families these days have two, maybe three kids?  Not seventeen, like they used to have back in the 1800s?  You can thank Margaret Sanger for that!  She was a nurse and birth control activist who did amazing work in the early part of the 20th century.  When Sanger started work as a nurse, the best form of legal birth control available was basically crossing your fingers and wishing really hard.  She was prosecuted several times for distributing information about family planning, and once had to flee to England to avoid arrest.  She founded the first birth control clinic in the US in 1916, and worked tirelessly to give every woman access to safe birth control (so they wouldn’t have to depend on dangerous back-alley abortions).  In 1921, she founded the American Birth Control League which later changed its name to become Planned Parenthood (heard of it?), which she lead until 1959.220px-margaretsanger-underwood-locCelebrate your access to safe and effective healthcare by knitting up a very cute little nurse doll!

Red Cross Nurse Doll by Joanna Marshallred_cross_nurse___florence_nightingale__6__medium21And, finally, this tough lady needs no introduction these days.  Hillary Clinton has led a life full of political activism, from when she was a young lawyer working for children and family rights, all the way through the 2016 presidential election (and, I’m sure she’ll keep working!). When she was First Lady, she used her position to help fight for healthcare reform and gender equality.  She served as the first female senator to New York- even getting re-elected!  Then, she teamed up with former election opponent, Barack Obama, working as his Secretary of State.  And, of course, in 2016, she won the majority of the popular vote for president.  Talk about a powerful feminist!hillary_clinton_official_secretary_of_state_portrait_cropMake yourself a blazer, just like Secretary Clinton wears!

108-27 Jacket with structured pattern by DROPS design

a-168-2_medium21Who are your favorite feminists?

Smashing the Patriarchy, One Stitch at a Time

You guys.

Last weekend.

Holy cow.

Last Friday was my birthday, so my husband and I had planned to visit friends in Los Angeles for the weekend.  (Mostly because I knew I’d get depressed when you-know-who was sworn into office, and you can’t really be depressed when it’s warm, sunny, and you get to eat lots of great food with your friends.)  When we made our plans, we didn’t know about the marches planned for Saturday.  But, when we did find out about them, we all immediately knew my birthday weekend wouldn’t be complete without a little bit of civil disobedience.

And knitting. (Natch.)

We talked about the Pussyhat Project last week, and it certainly seems like we weren’t the only ones.  Look at this picture I found on their website- Look at that sea of pink hats at the DC march!  Amazing!14851386614901In LA, there weren’t quite so many hats, what with the warmer weather, but there were still a bunch! (It was so hard to get a picture of the whole crowd- Downtown LA was so full of people, we spread out across blocks and blocks!)wp_20170121_12_30_06_proI brought a bunch of hats from Seattle (knitting two while we traveled on Friday).  I gave away one to my husband and one to our friend, Will.  (Jenny made her own, because she’s a badass knitter, too!).  And, I gave away five to people I met on the street!img_3413I even brought my yarn to the march with me (because I am a goody-two-shoes who likes to follow rules, so I get a lot of nervous energy at things like this).wp_20170121_11_26_41_pro(I actually finished this hat on the train back from the march, and gave away the one I was wearing as we left downtown!)

It was an amazing day, and I’ve really been enjoying all the coverage of the marches around the world- it makes me feel like maybe, just maybe, we’re going to be OK.

And, to keep the spirit of the Women’s March alive, I’ve been putting on my Pussyhat every morning and calling my Congresswomen (and trying to call the Whitehouse- though their phone system seems to be down most of the time).  I’m not great at talking to strangers, and talking on the phone gives me anxiety, but I’m doing it anyway.  If you want to join me- you can find your Congresspeople here.  (Or, email me your address, and I’ll find their numbers for you!) Call them!  Let you know what you’re thinking!  Wear your pink hats with pride!

Ugh!

I have a problem.

I think it’s a problem that a lot of knitters have.

I think I might hate my current project.

I loved it at first, and I’m sure one day I will love it again.  But, right now- no.

f00da97b-15f5-418a-ba13-aad234ccaf23I can’t talk about it in detail, or really, in anything other than the broadest, most vague terms (it’s a design I’m working on, so it’s all Top Secret, hence the very un-illuminating photos).  But, let’s just say there’s a lot of stockinette.

Like a lot.

Like, I’ve been knitting plain, purple stockinette for a couple weeks now, and other than a couple Pussyhats, I haven’t been able to do anything to break up the monotony.

When I started this project, I was super jazzed- I love simple, clean designs- there’s something so elegant about simple projects. And, I know I’ll wear the heck out of this project when it’s finished.

But… oofda. It’s a lot of stockinette.

I got to do a little bit of 1×1 ribbing the other day, and I just about got up and danced a jig.  I’m in a sorry state.6e96ba2c-468a-4b0a-b19a-f42b4ab60fe3My deadline is fast approaching, so one way or the other, I’ll finish up this project soon.  And boy, am I ready.

Have you ever taken on a project that was a little too much?  A little too much stockinette?  A few too many cables?  A bit too fiddly?

Giveaway Day: Woodsmoke edition

OK, guys, you know the drill! It’s Giveaway Day (again!)

I’m really excited about this one!  This collection is hands-down gorgeous.  I may be a bit biased, since I love anything with a cable on it, but for real- it’s beautiful.331101I even love the shawl that I made- enough to make you look at it again.  I’m super proud of how it turned out!  I mean, look at it!

521622201OK, OK, enough of me showing you pictures you’ve already seen!  Let’s get to the good part!

A whole bunch of you entered the drawing, so I rolled over to Random.org, and did a quick drawing.

And the winner is… Comment number 7!

Alison!  You’re the winner!  (I’ll send you an email, so keep an eye out!)

If you didn’t win, don’t worry, you can get your own copy of Woodsmoke through the Knit Picks website.  And, of course, I’ll have more drawings in the future, so keep your eyes peeled!

Quick and Cozy Giveaway!

It’s giveaway day!  My favorite day of the year (or, well, month might be more accurate-I’m always giving away books around here)!

Just to remind you, today I’m giving away a copy of Knit Picks’ new collection, Quick and Cozy.  It’s chock-full of extra-fluffy hats, scarves, cowls and mittens.  All the patterns are super cute (and super cozy)75279d1And, I’ve got a pattern in this book!  It’s the Gradient Hat and Scarf!  I’m pretty proud of it.52178220_5_medium1But that’s not why we’re here.  We’re here for the giveaway!

20 of you lovely folks put your names in, so I’ll pull out my lucky 20-sided die (which I have because I’m a nerd), and…

Drumroll, please!

5!  The 5th comment was from Jen!

Congratulations, Jen!  I’ve sent you an email, so check your spam folder, just in case.

If you didn’t win today’s giveaway, you can buy your own copy of Quick and Cozy through the Knit Picks website.

And, don’t forget to sign up for my other giveaway!  That winner will be announced on Friday.

Pattern Spotlight: Pussyhat Project

You guys know I try not to get too political on this blog (though I seem to be less good at being apolitical lately).  But sometimes there’s something political that comes up that I simply can’t ignore.

And when that something political also happens to involve knitting, well… I can’t help myself.

So you all know what’s happening on Friday (Hint: someone new’s moving into the White House), but you might not know what’s happening on Saturday.

It’s the Women’s March on Washington (and, really, across the country-  take a look, I bet there’s going to be a March near you this weekend).  The March is in support of women’s rights, as well as inclusivity for all minorities- African Americans, Muslim Amerians, LGBTQ+ Americans and everyone else.  It’s going to be an amazing event, and I can’t wait to take part.

And, one of the grassroots symbols of this event is this goofy knit pink hat, the Pussyhat (like pussycat, get it?).  pussyhatprojectcoverIt’s a simple hat, but it means a lot.  First, it’s taking some very “feminine” things (the color pink, the act of hand-knitting) that have been underestimated and devalued, and turns them into a strong political statement.  Second, the hats are a visual marker of just how many women (and men) believe that women’s rights are important- I’ve already seen people around town wearing their Pussyhats.  More than 100,000 people have pledged to make hats already, and yarn stores across the country are running out of pink yarn!  And third, these hats are all handmade, all worked with care, thought, and love, by people who believe in the power of women and that we all (women, men, people of color, etc.) have an important role to play in this country.  And, in my mind, at least, that’s a powerful statement.86c0bfde-6956-4e87-957e-63787f2444d4I’ve already made three hats, but I plan to work up as many as I can in the time before Saturday.  I’ll keep one for myself, but I’ll give away the others to anyone who wants them.  They’re a small gesture, but they’re a great reminder of what we’re all fighting for- equality, respect, and the right to live our lives the way that is best for us.

If you’re interested in making a hat (or two or three), you can find the official instructions here.  Or, if you prefer to knit in the round (like me), here’s what I did:

Pussyhat In The Round

One size fits most adults

Materials:

  • US8 12-16″ cable needle
  • about 50g worsted weight yarn (pink)
  • Yarn needle

CO 80, and prepare to work in the round.  (K2, P2) around for 2 to 3 inches.  Then, K all sts until the hat measures about 8.5 inches from the CO edge.  Cut the yarn, leaving a very generous tail, and use the tail to sew up the top of the hat with the Kitchener stitch.  Weave in ends and block if desired.

What?! More Patterns?

That’s right, knitters!  Surprise!  Another pattern- and it’s one I’m super proud of!

Introducing: The Laura Shawl!521622201It’s a gorgeous (if I say so myself) cabled wrap, almost six feet long and two feet wide.  It looks great wrapped around your shoulders, or cozied up under your chin.  And, frankly, it’s big enough to act as a lap blanket when you go out to eat, and they set you too close to a drafty window.

The Laura Shawl is knit in gorgeous tweedy wool that works great with cables.  Four wide panels of complex cables are interspersed with some knit/purl texture, and the whole bad boy is finished with thick fringe on either end, just to make it feel extra-luxurious.

52162220_21The best part?  It’s part of another beautiful book from Knit Picks, the Woodsmoke Cable Collection.331101This book is absolutely breathtaking.  It’s chock full of 16 lushly cabled patterns- sweaters, blankets, scarves and hats.

I mean, look at these:331101111Really, I want to work up all of these for myself.  (Or maybe have someone else do it so I don’t have to wait?)331101151What’s that? You want a copy?  Buy yourself a copy here!

Or, comment below with a description of your most complicated cable project for a chance to win a free copy!  (The winner will be named next Friday, so stay tuned!)

New Pattern: Gradient Hat and Scarf

How does that old saying go?  “A new year, a new pattern?”  That sounds right… yeah.

Well, however that saying goes (and whether or not it’s actually a saying), I’ve got a new pattern for you!

It’s the middle of January, and it’s real cold, so what could be better than a super-squishy, extra warm, nice and thick hat-and-scarf combo?

Nothing.  That’s what.

Introducing: the Gradient Scarf and Hat.52178220_5_medium1This bad boy is made from worsted-weight merino, held TRIPLE, so you know it’s going to keep you warm.  Both the hat and scarf are worked all over in broken rib, one of my favorite stitches.  The fabric is soft, squishy and totally comfy.   Plus, there’s a mean pompom on top of the hat.  You gotta love a pompom. I mean, look at it:52178220_15_medium21And, that’s not all!  This pattern is one of eight in Knit Picks’ new book Quick and Cozy: Bulky Knit Accessories.  Patterns like this adorable red cowl from the cover:75279d1And these gorgeous colorwork mittens:75279d1051You can order a copy of the book here!  Or, if you’re feeling lucky, comment below with your favorite thing to knit in January to be entered to win your very own copy of Quick and Cozy!  (The winner will be announced next Wednesday!)

Inspiration: Chicken Run

I don’t know what you’ve been doing since the holidays, but we’ve been hanging out at home, eating the last of the Christmas cookies and watching old favorite movies.  (If you were wondering, What About Bob? and Galaxy Quest are still delightful.  And, after watching Die Hard, I discovered that apparently I have a fear of elevator shafts. Who knew?)

Do you remember Chicken Run?  It was one of my favorites when I was a kid, but my husband had never seen it!  We had to fix that.chicken-runAnd, it totally holds up!  I mean, it’s claymation chickens doing The Great Escape, how could it not be great?  It’s exciting!  Sweet!  Full of knitting!

What’s that?  You don’t believe me?  You don’t think that chickens knit?  Well, let me prove you wrong.

Chickens wear sneaky balaclavas (and not-so-sneaky balaclavas) when they are sneaking around, making secret escape plans.balaclavasAdd a pompom to this one, and you could make an adorable chicken-balaclava for your favorite kid.

Elf Pixie Ribbed Balaclava by Agnese Iskrovail_570xn-857359661_hovs_small1Ginger, the heroine of the movie and chicken escape mastermind, always wears a very cute little green hat.  It’s a rolled-brim beanie with two little I-cord nubbins on top.gingerI’d totally rock a Ginger Hat, too!

Ginger’s Hat by Becky Veverka37215300_8b600e4c0a_m1And, of course, the lovable (and loveably daffy) Babs is a character that every knitter can identify with.  With her constantly clicking needles and ever-present knitting, she might be one of the most accurate depictions of knitters I’ve seen on TV.  She’s always got something on her needles, especially when she’s trying to hold it together in the face of certain death.  (I don’t face certain death often, but if I did, I’d totally want my knitting with me.)babsMake yourself a flock of tiny chickens in honor of Babs, Ginger and the rest of the gang.

#29 Tiny Chickens by Anna HrachovecPIRATES- Amanda Vines BLAZERS U6-Rick BarrettHave you seen Chicken Run lately?  What old favorite movies do you love to revisit?