Author Archives: onemilljellybeans

And now, socks!

I’m continuing on my streak of “Finishing off projects that should have been done weeks ago if I’d only not been a doofus” with my newest pair of socks.

If you’ll remember, I had some special yarn from a trip to Austin. It’s a lovely gray-blue handpaint, super soft and cozy that I was really excited to knit with. So excited that I decided to knit up a whole improvised cable sock without doing a swatch.

And, exactly what you’d expect to happen happened.

The sock was tiny and depressing, too small for me to even consider wearing. I thought about making a second one to match and finding someone with smaller feet to wear them, but, well, I wanted to wear them.

So, after a few weeks in time out, I ripped out the tiny sock, lightly blocked the yarn to make it lose its kink, and went back to my original plan- Monkey Socks. I’ve made this pattern a bunch of times before, and I don’t know why I decided against it this time. It’s simple, effective, and super cute. Plus, they fit me!

I’m really happy with how they turned out. I did my favorite reinforced heel and made them a little longer than suggested, but they’re perfect for me.

However, I had a bear of a time taking a flattering picture of them, so you’ll have to trust me when I say they look great!

Do you have a favorite go-to pattern that’s always turns out the way you want?

Treasure

Something wild happened the other day.

I’ve been cleaning out my studio (because what else are we supposed to do while still on lockdown?), and I’ve been discovering a bunch of half-finished projects.  I found part of an afghan from 2013 (according to Ravelry), and two quilts in various stages of completion (one’s easily a decade old.  I think I started it when I first moved to Seattle…).

And, I found a baby sweater!  It was 99% finished.  The ends were even woven in.  It was so cute and tiny, and just was missing a few buttons and a block.

And I have ZERO memory of making it. I don’t know the yarn or the pattern, or when I made it or why. All I know is that it must have been made way before I had my kid, because it’s white.  And who in their right mind would make a white baby sweater?  Me, apparently.

But it’s so cute!

It’s got kind of a “1950s Letterman’s sweater” vibe and just needed buttons.  I went digging through my button jar, and found 4 different sets, two sizes of white buttons, and two sets of gold ones (eagles and lions).

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After a little debate between me and myself, I decided the lions were too perfect not to use.  They’re a slightly warmer color than the eagles, and just so ridiculous. (Unfortunately, they’re completely impossible to photograph.  You’ll just have to trust that they’re lions.)

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And so, with about 15 minutes’ work (plus blocking time, I’ve got an instant preppy baby sweater!

Now just to wait for someone to have a baby (who doesn’t mind doing laundry).

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Have you ever left a project unfinished for so long that you forgot all about it?

Finally Finished!

I’ve had a little run of… we’ll say “projects that haven’t been too successful.”  There were the socks that ended up three sizes too small, the woven scarf that took a left turn (literally) and the sweater that didn’t go to plan.  What with *vaguely gesturing* everything that’s happening, it just seemed to make sense that none of my knitting is working out either.  This whole spring/summer/year seems cursed.

Anyway, with all that, I decided I needed to finish something.  I have had my Stonecroft shawl literally sitting on my desk, looking at me for a good 4 months now.  It was basically done, except that I had lost yarn chicken while binding off the last 10 or so stitches.  I got frustrated with it, couldn’t decide how to fix it, and just… let it sit there.

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So, last weekend I decided NO! I’m going to finish something.  And it’s going to be successful, by god!  I ripped out a couple rows and re-bound-off.  (I had been toying with the idea of ripping way back to make the border wider, but I couldn’t bring myself to do that.  A decision I’m glad I made.)

And, within an evening, I had finished the project that had been sitting, teasing me for months.

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I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out- I’m not even mad at the slightly-narrower-than-called-for border.  It’s lovely, and I’m so pleased with how it turned out.

Of course, now that I’ve finished it, the weather has turned and I have no use for a cozy shawl…  But isn’t that always the way?

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Have you finished any projects lately?

Black Lives Matter

Y’all.  It’s been a really long week.  I think for everyone.

(Fair warning, I’m not going to talk about knitting this week.  I usually try to keep my personal politics out of the blog, but sometimes you just can’t do that.  If I didn’t mention everything that’s been going on, it would be the next thing to dishonesty.  If you’re not up for it, feel free to come back next week.)

It’s hard for me to know what to say, and since I’m a very white person, in a very white part of the country, working in a very white industry, I know my perspective on the events of the last week/month/year/entire history of our country is not necessarily what we need right now.

But, since I have this platform, regardless of how small it may be, I wanted to stand up and say that black lives matter, and the systematic racism in the United States (especially in the police force) is just not acceptable.  It’s horrifying that we had to lose so many lives, to have so many examples of the inhuman treatment of black and brown Americans at the hands of the police before we as the (white) community said “no more.”  I’m ashamed of my community’s (and my own) inaction and complacency, and deeply disturbed that this has been the norm for so many without me really registering what has been going on.

But me wallowing in my feelings isn’t going to do much.  I (and everyone else who wants change) have to get in gear and change our behavior.

Here’s what I’m doing/planing to do:

  1. Give money.  We’re lucky enough to have some extra cash, so we’ve donated to our local chapter of Black Lives Matter and supported our local bail fund to help folks who can’t otherwise afford bail stay out of jail (especially important in a pandemic).
  2. Educate myself.  I’m going to watch, read and listen to black voices tell their stories and history.  I consider myself a pretty well-educated person, but the little I’ve learned in the last week has really shown me how much of a blind spot I have when it comes to black and brown history in America. These lists seem like a good place to start:
  3. Protest, sign petitions and generally stay more on top of current events.  I’m not able to go to protests right now, but I’m going to be doing my best to make up for it by doing whatever activism I can from my computer.  I will follow activists and organizations that support the Black Lives Matter movement on social media (and actually read what they are saying, not just pass them by).  I will stay updated by listening to reputable news outlets and paying attention to the sourcing on stories that I see online.  I will keep an eye out for anything that I can help with- I know I’m just one person, but sometimes just one more person, one more call, or one more signature is all it takes.
  4. Pay more attention to how I’m raising my kid.  Like I mentioned above, we live in a very white neighborhood in a very white city.  I hadn’t paid too much attention to how that’s been impacting my kid or my parenting.  In the last week, I’ve realized that almost all his (human-ish) toys are white, or white-passing, and he only has a handful of books that feature characters of color.  Sure, most of his toys are trucks, and most of his books are about animals, but that’s just an excuse.  I’m going to start expanding the diversity of his experience as much as possible (which, because of quarantine, is pretty much just toys and books).  He’s going to grow up to be a white man, and I want him to be as empathetic and aware of his country’s history as possible.  (Yes, I know he’s just 2 right now, but it’s not too early to start thinking about.)  If you’re raising small kids in a similar situation, I’ve been recommended these, which I intend to read/watch:

Thanks for listening to my “To-Do” list.  It feels like it isn’t enough, but it’s a start.  Let me know what you’re planning to do to help our country grow and become better.

Stay safe, be kind to each other and yourselves.

(Also, I would like to apologize if last week’s post’s timing seemed insensitive.  I usually write the blog a week or more before it posts- you never know what life’s going to throw at you with a toddler/pandemic/national civil unrest.  I didn’t get a chance to change last week’s post until after it had gone live, and wasn’t able to collect my thoughts enough to sit and type a post until today (June 5th).  Thank you for bearing with me.)

Choices 2020

I’ve got a dilemma.

It’s a dilemma of my own creation, because I insisted on making a sweater without actually having a plan.  I should have had a plan.

I really should have had a plan.

Now I have… this:IMG_2909

Possibly the world’s least-flattering sweater.

Ignore the sleeve situation for a second, and let me walk you through what happened.

My original thought was to knit up a stash-busting sweater using the lace-weight alpaca that I’ve had in my stash for literal years.  I love all the colors, but haven’t had the time/energy for lace since… the early 2000s.  I actually knit up a swatch with the yarn held triple, and it seemed like it was going to work.  The first plan was to make a cropped, over-sized sweater, in the vein of the Love Note.  Super cute and trendy.

Well, I got carried away (a combination of quarantine blues and some good Netflix shows), and before I knew it, I had a hip-length sweater.  Not what I planned, but hey, that’s ok.

I tried it on.  It fit… well enough.  Even though I did a swatch, I forgot to factor in the inherent drapiness of alpaca.  It’s really kind of shapeless and droopy.  Don’t get me wrong… it’s real comfortable and soft, but not the most flattering thing ever.

It was time to tackle the sleeves.  My first thought was to just make it into a T-shirt- something trendy and cute, and something I could wear sooner than later with summer on the way.  I threw a quick short sleeve on the sweater.  I tried it on…

Y’all.  It was so wide across the shoulders (WAY too many raglan increases), that the armpit hits just a couple inches above my elbow.  It looks OK enough if I keep my arms down, but if I lift them up, I get a weird bat-wing look (and not in a good way).

So, I decide to make the other sleeve long.  I use my usual long sleeve formula,  and make it up in a weekend.

I’ve got big hopes.  I try it on.  Ugh.

It’s… fine, but way baggier than I hoped.  If I really want the sweater to be how I’m now imagining it, I have to rip it all the way back past the armpits and try again, and I’m just not feeling that now.

So, I’m asking you:  What should I do?

Long sleeve? Short sleeve?  Re-knit the long sleeve so it’s narrower?  Give up and walk around with one long sleeve like a crazy person?  Give up entirely?

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(Don’t mind my dog and my kid barking at the cars driving by…  It was a day.)

Have you ever gotten almost to the end of a project, just to realize you did it all wrong?

New Pattern: Stanwood Shawl

We might all still be stuck inside, but that doesn’t mean I can’t get excited about bringing you a new pattern!

Introducing: the Stanwood Shawl, in the new collection from Knit Picks, Vivid!

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I’m really pleased with how this one turned out!  It’s a lovely, squishy, garter-stitch scarf/shawl hybrid that features contrasting stripes along one edge and short-row points.  It features a slightly curved shape, which lets it settle gently around the shoulders.  And, best of all I love the way it lets you play with color.  Mix and match your favorite 3 (or more!) skeins of sock yarn, and see how they play together.  Fun!

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Plus, it’s nice and long.  If you’re more of a scarf person than a shawl person- it’s perfect!

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(Also, I gotta say, Knit Picks have some fun, bright designs in this collection.  Definitely check it out!)

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Head over and grab a copy of the Stanwood Shawl here!

Lessons

I have finished my weaving project, and I’m pleased to report that everything went a lot more smoothly once I had my loom warped correctly (and the 2-year-old was napping).

I’m pretty pleased with how the fabric turned out.  I used a mystery teal wool (maybe Cascade 220?) for the warp and some beige-y Knit Picks Alpaca Cloud DK for the weft.  The finished project (I guess it’s a scarf) is lovely and drape-y and soft.  It’s probably not the color combo I would have reached for in an ideal world, but it’s pretty enough, and used up yarn that has been sitting in my stash since (probably) the last decade.

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However, this process had taught me a few things:

  1. READ THE INSTRUCTIONS.  Still kicking myself about the warp situation.  (I’m not going to read the instructions next time.)
  2. Weaving goes so much faster than knitting!  I made a whole scarf in, like 2 days.
  3. Weaving burns through yarn so much faster than knitting!  I used up 3 whole skeins (sure, 2 of them were fairly small, but still!).  Definitely something to think about when trying to downsize my stash!
  4. I really like the edging stitch/tassel combo on this one.  I’ve never done an edging stitch before, and like how it turned out.  It was real satisfying, and made the scarf look nice and professional (unlike the rest of the piece).IMG_2888
  5. I’m not great at weaving.  Like, I know the basics and was able to make a chunk of fabric, but it’s certainly not even row-to-row, and it has a weird curve to the left.  My current guess is that I did something funky (obviously) when warping, and made the yarn too tight on one side.IMG_2897
  6. I realized that I don’t really know what to do with woven fabric (other than make scarves).  I mean… table runners (scarves for furniture), place mats (short scarves for furniture), coasters (tiny scarves for furniture), and bookmarks (even tinier scarves, but for books), but other than that… I’m not sure.  Can you cut this kind of woven fabric and sew it?  Would it fall apart?  Any ideas or resources would be greatly appreciated!

Well, it was a fun little project, and definitely something I need more practice with.  I should go digging in my stash to find more forgotten yarn.  Maybe everyone gets woven scarves for Christmas this year…

Have you tried any new projects during lockdown?

And now for something completely different

I’ve reached the part of quarantine where I decide that warping a loom with the “help” of a 2-year-old is a good idea.

It is not a good idea.

Especially when the last time you warped a loom was maybe 4 years ago (I’m honestly not sure).

I thought I had the right idea, kind of glanced at the pictures in the instruction book, and barreled ahead while the kid was being as non-destructive as possible.

Anyway, here’s “Warping a Loom: A photo essay.”

  1.  I was feeling cocky- I had done it!  I remembered what to do, and had managed to do it with my toddler in the room with me!  Isn’t he cute!  Isn’t the loom lovely!IMG_2857
  2. Oh no!  I just realized the yarn on the left side of the loom (in the picture) is supposed to go over the big bar, not under it.  (Note: I’m sure there’s a name for the bar on the left side of the loom, but as has been established, I didn’t read the instructions, so I have no idea what the name is.)IMG_2858
  3. Panic.  I really don’t want to undo all the knots and threading each bit of yarn through the heddle again, so I decide that the easier thing to do will be to literally take the loom apart and put it back together around the yarn, instead of the other way around.  I dig out this weirdly patriotic screwdriver.IMG_2859
  4. I take the loom apart carefully, with “help” from the kid.  He’s very interested in tools.IMG_2860
  5. I put the loom back together, with more help.  He’s very helpful.IMG_2863
  6. It looks good!  The kid tests it for strength.  Seems OK.IMG_2864
  7. Victory! (Hubris!)IMG_2868
  8. Oh wait…  The yarn is all supposed to be even, now that I fixed the loom!  Why aren’t they even??IMG_2873
  9. Oh.  The warp is supposed to go over the bar on this side too.   Good thing I haven’t put away the screwdriver yet…IMG_2874
  10. Fixed (part 2).  And I’m pretty sure it’s fixed for certain, this time.IMG_2876
  11. Oh yeah… look at those lovely lined-up threads.  And it only took me twice as long as it should have!IMG_2878

The moral of the story: Read the directions, even if you’re sure you know what you’re doing.  (You don’t know what you’re doing.)

Still Sweatering

I had planned to write today’s post about my Lovenote Sweater that I finished more than a month ago, and that I really love.  Honestly, I’m not sure why I haven’t posted about it yet, other than that I forgot because of *gestures vaguely* all this.  I had really high hopes.  I was going to get dressed in something other than pajama pants, brush my hair, maybe even put on a bit of makeup to hide the stress zits, and have my husband take a couple pictures of me in my (not so) new sweater.

That was earlier this week.  Now, I’m just kinda tired, and don’t feel like it. It just seems like a lot of work to change my outfit.  You get it.

So, instead, I want to share my progress on my Quarantine Sweater.  I’m cruising along, a good 10 inches or so into the body.  I had been thinking about making this sweater cropped, like my Lovenote, but honestly I forgot I was supposed to stop after a couple inches.  So I just kept going.  Now we’re a stripe or two away from a nice long sweater. IMG_2852

I love how the gradient is turning out, though a part of me wishes that I’d gone through the effort to plan it out a little more carefully so that I just did one pass-through for the entire sweater.  And I think it’ll be a good spring-y sweater when it’s done (still, hopefully, in spring).

I’m currently thinking of making it hip length, or longer, but maybe with T-shirt sleeves.  Is that crazy?

(Though, if the sleeves go the way the body’s gone, I’ll probably space out and make them a good 6 inches too long…)

Quarantine Sweater

So, I’m putting my socks (er… sock) in time out for a little bit.  I can’t face ripping out an entire sock, and I can’t face knitting up a second sock that I know for a fact isn’t going to fit.

I also can’t really muster up the energy to dig through my stash and match up a specific pattern to the yarn that I’ve got on hand.  That just seems like way too much effort for right now.

I do, however, have just a ton of Knit Pick’s Alpaca Cloud lace-weight yarn.  Why? I have no idea.  I think the last time I knit with lace-weight yarn was somewhere in the middle of the Obama administration.  (Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice yarn, just not what I usually reach for these days.)

But, I finished my Lovenote (which I just realized I haven’t shared with you yet!), which was knit with finer yarn held double on large needles, which gave me an idea.  I set out my stashed Alpaca Cloud in a rainbow(ish) and started swatching on US10 1/2s.  (See, I learn from my mistakes.  Sometimes.)

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I decided that holding the yarn double made fabric that was still a little too skimpy, so I tripled-up, and came up with something that was light but fluffy, cozy but drape-y.

I busted out my favorite Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters by Ann Budd, and started on a raglan sweater.  It’s not fancy in the design; no crazy textures or lace, no weird construction, just big blocks of color.  I’m holding the yarn triple, so every block, I switch out one color, which has left me with a rather pleasant color gradient so far.

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I’d originally thought about measuring out how long the sweater was going to be and making the stripes even all the way down, but… meh.  Instead, I’m kind of just knitting until I get bored, then switching.

What will the rest of the sweater look like? Who knows!  Will it be long or cropped or somewhere in the middle?  I dunno!  Will it have waist shaping or tapered sleeves? Maybe?

It’s kinda fun to go into a sweater with literally no idea of what it’s going to end up looking like.  I always go from a pattern, or at least a sketch of what I want the finished project to be, so it’s a nice change of pace and a nice project to have on my needles in this weird, weird time.

What’s your quarantine knitting?