Author Archives: onemilljellybeans

Busy Busy Busy

I’ve been busy, designing and swatching away.  It’s been great!  But, I can never help thinking that after I finished a swatch, I should be able to do something fun with it.  I’ve got a bunch pinned up on the bulletin boards in my studio, which is nice.  But, honestly, most of them just hang out in a stack in my closet.  My mind is always chugging away in the background, trying to think of something to do with my leftover swatches.

And, over the last few weeks, I’ve been getting a jump on a new sewing project for the kid- a busy book.  Basically it’ll be a little book with quilted/apliqued pages for the baby to play with, and I plan on adding more age-appropriate pages as he grows up.  Right now, the pages are all basically just things for him to touch, feel, and put in his mouth (he’s only 6 months old, after all), but down the line I’ll add pages with fun things like zippers, flaps, velcro, etc.

For example, I made a sheep page with some leftover terrycloth.IMG_0567Cute, if I say so myself!  (Gotta start teaching them to appreciate wool from an early age, right?)

That got me thinking- how could I use knitting in the busy book?

I dug up an old sock swatch (I figured the smaller gauge would work better with the scale of the book) and got to work.  I machine-sewed two lines with very short stitches down the back of the swatch, and cut in-between them- kind of like this. (I’ve never steeked before, and I think this is about as close as I’ll be getting in the near future.  Scary!)  Then I took some iron-on adhesive and ironed it to the back of the swatch, cut out a sweater shape and ironed it to the background fabric. It was more or less intact, but the edges were fraying a smidge, so I ran a quick zig-zag stitch around the edge, and presto! an actually-knit sweater page!IMG_0577I really should have taken pictures of each step, but I really didn’t think it was going to work!

Now that I’ve done this once, my mind is spinning with all the knitting-as-applique possibilities!

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve done with your knitting?

VOTE!!!

Hi everybody!

Or, at least: Hi everybody in the US over the age of 18 who is eligible to vote!

Guess what tomorrow is!  That’s right, it’s election day! (You can tell I’m excited by all the exclamation points!)

I try to keep this blog pretty low-key, politics-free, and full of knitting.  But, sometimes I have to bend the rules.

Like today.  (Get ready, I’m getting up on my “You should vote” soapbox.)

So, unless you live in a vote-by-mail state (Hello, Washington), you’re probably aware that voting is tomorrow.  You should know where to find your polling place.  You know that you should vote, too.  You know that voting is important.  You already know that every member of the House of Representatives is up for reelection, not to mention a third of the Senate, three dozen Governors and more local officials than you can shake a stick at.  Plus, if you live somewhere like Seattle, you’ve probably got a handful of ballot initiatives up for a vote that could directly influence your lives in the coming months and years.

You already know that less than half of eligible Americans usually turn out for midterm elections, and you already know that those voters that do turn out are overwhelmingly older, richer, and whiter than the average American.

And, of course you know that if you’re unhappy with how this country is being run (and  there’s plenty to be unhappy about), you’ve got to go out and vote to tell those in charge to change the way things are going.

You already know all that.  So I won’t tell you about it.

I will, however, bribe you with a silly little craft project.

IMG_0637.JPGI voted last week (yay for Washington’s vote-by-mail system!), but Washington doesn’t give out “I voted” stickers.  So I made one myself.  (Well, I cross-stitched a little pin.)

And you can make one, too.

Once you’ve voted, download the instructions to make yourself an “I Voted” pin:

I Voted Cross Stitch Pin Instructions

(But only if you’ve already voted… trust me.  I’ll know.)

Are you going to vote this year?

Itsy Bitsy Fair Isle

My kid is growing like a weed.   All the sweaters I made for him (except for this monstrosity) are already way too small for him.  His little Captain Picard sweater was practically too small when he was born- I could never get it to button all the way up.  He doesn’t like knit hats, he’s too little for mittens and scarves, and socks and bootees slip right off of him.

Anyway, I have an un-sweatered baby and I’ve got a little free time in my knitting schedule and some sock yarn leftover from a recent design.  Perfect timing!IMG_0525

I decided I wanted to try my hand at some fun Fair Isle knitting.  And, it had to be a pullover (cardigans just end up in the baby’s mouth).  Plus it had to be seamless and top-down (my favorite way to knit sweaters).

So, I dug around on Ravelry for a bit, util I found this beautiful sweater!

Christmas in July by Tanis LavalleeChristmasInJuly-Laura_medium2

Insanely pretty, right?  I love how multi-colored it is!  Sure, mine will be distinctly more blue-green, since that’s the yarn I’ve got, but that’s OK.  I love the fun, modern take on a classic yoked sweater.   (And I like that the color work doesn’t go past the armpits- continuing color  work down sleeves is a pain in the butt.  I mean, I’ll do it, but I’ll complain the whole time.)

Plus, it comes in kids and grown-up sizes!  If I really like how it turns out, I can make a matching sweater for myself, and become that lady.

I’m currently about 3/4 of the way through the yoke, and I kind of love how it’s turning out.IMG_0531It’s not as graphic as the examples, but I love the subtle way my speckled and variegated yarns work together in the complex color work.  I think this is going to be a great little sweater.  (Here’s hoping the boy fits in it for more than fifteen minutes-  I’m making a one-year-old size, in the hopes that it’ll get a little more use.  We’ll have to see how it goes.)

I can’t wait to see it finished!

What are you working on now?

Best Laid Plans

I don’t usually show you my “in progress” designs.  Usually, that’s because either: 1. I’m under contract to keep them under wraps.  Or 2. I’m so excited with how the pattern is turning out that I want to keep it a surprise and unveil it when it’s all shiny and finished.

Which means that you guys only ever see it when projects are finished and I’m happy with them.  (To be fair, most projects that I’m unhappy with never even get finished.  I usually bail halfway through and rip out the yarn to use in some other project.)

But this time you guys get to see a pattern from the Island of Misfit Sweaters!

I was so excited about this design- I was even excited enough that I decided to go ahead and knit it up and write up a pattern, even though my original design wasn’t picked up by publishers.  I was sure I knew better!  It was so cute in my mind!  It was an interesting knit!  It was small enough that it wouldn’t take much time!

Well, maybe I was in a haze of baby-brain/sleep-deprivation when I decided to go on with writing the pattern, but man was I wrong.

This pattern was doomed from the outset.

  1. The colors I picked were not good- two shades of green and a weird yellow-brown? What was I thinking? Was this 1972?IMG_0498.JPG
  2. The design that I thought was so clever was actually just overly complicated and a pain in the neck.  (Why make a sweater the time-tested, easy, simple way I’m familiar with, when I can break out the provisional cast-ons, short rows, and three-needle bind-offs?)IMG_0502.JPG
  3. I had intended the sweater to fit my kid (he’s already grown out of all the sweaters I made him before he was born- he’s a Robust German Baby).  I did the math wonky, and I think this sweater will fit him when he’s about 4 years old.  Look how long it is! And those sleeves!!!IMG_0504.JPG
  4. And, speaking of math, all that math I did to write this pattern… I lost it somewhere along the way.  Maybe I did the math in a fever dream… Maybe I got some sort of virus that only deletes bad patterns… Maybe I just forgot to save.  We’ll never know.

So, in summary.  Here’s a picture of the sweater that is not to be.  You won’t be seeing a pattern for this bad boy.  You might see my kid wearing it in a few years, or you might see me unravel it and knit it into something else (but probably not).  IMG_0506.JPGIt was a good idea, but some ideas aren’t really meant for this world.  Sigh…

Have you ever had a great idea that ended up going really, really sideways?  What happened?

Vacation Yarn

Some people collect miniature spoons, or porcelain thimbles when they go on vacation.  Others collect magnets or key chains or tiny, personalized license plates.

I try my darnedest not to collect tschotchkes, but I still want something to remember my vacations by.  So, I’ve started collecting something that I think you guys could get behind.

Vacation yarn.

I try to buy a skein of vacation yarn whenever I go out of town for the last few years.  At first I would just get a skein or two of whatever piqued my fancy.  But now, after realizing I have a bunch of skeins vacation yarn in my stash that I’m probably never going to use for one reason or another, I have given myself Vacation Yarn Rules:

  1. The yarn must be purchased at a local yarn store- no online stores, no big box stores that happen to be in the area.  It’s gotta be something I can only get on location, or what’s the point?  (Plus, it’s a great excuse to go find a new yarn store!)
  2. The yarn must be spun, died, or both by a local yarn producer.
  3. The yarn must be in a colorway that reminds me of the vacation. (This rule has a little more wiggle-room than the others… I can pretty much convince myself that whatever skein I find the prettiest is the one that most closely matches the location.)
  4. One skein must be enough to make a complete project.  This means that 95% of my Vacation Yarn ends up being sock yarn.  But that’s great, because now I’ve got a bunch of pairs of Vacation Socks!

We just got back from a trip to Lake Tahoe, down in California (which is lovely by the way.  I highly recommend going in October- It’s practically empty, the weather is perfect for taking long walks along the lake or sitting in the sun with a cup of tea and some knitting.  And when the weather’s not perfect, it’s a great time to go inside and play board games with your buddies).

And, of course I got a skein of Vacation Yarn.

It’s from a very cute little shop in South Lake Tahoe, Knits and Knots Tahoe, and was hand dyed in the area. This sock yarn was dyed in a colorway called “Driftwood” and it’s a lovely brown-y olive, with little speckles of dark brown and a splash of bright leaf green.  It really reminded me of the colors of the area- the soft brown of the dead pine needles that cover the ground under the massive pine trees, and the green of the little plants peeking through the forest floor.  IMG_0486

I can’t wait until I have time to knit up my Lake Tahoe Socks!

What do you collect when you’re on vacation?

Guesstimates

I’ve been knitting for decades.

I’ve been knitting sweaters for almost as long.

I’ve been designing my own patterns for close to 10 years, and professionally writing patterns for more than 5 years.

And no matter how I try, I still can’t accurately estimate how much yarn I need for a project.

Example 1A: My Provincial Tweed Sweater.IMG_0331I’ve been working on this bad boy for a while now, off and on over the last few months.  I’ve gotten the body done to about hip length (it still needs the nice long ribbed hem that I have planned for it).  It’s currently 15″ from the underarm.  A nice, generous length for a sweater.IMG_0337I have used up 2 skeins of yarn to get this far.  I originally thought I’d use 10 skeins.

Now I’m thinking I’ll maybe use 4 skeins.  I’ve poorly estimated yarn yardage before, but dang… I was very very wrong this time.IMG_0322I guess everyone is getting blue tweed sweaters for Christmas.

Have you mis-estimated your yardage before?  How badly were you off?

In Defense of Garter Stitch

I was dinking around the internet the other day, snooping in knitting forums and not commenting (because that’s what I do). I came across a post about garter stitch.

“Aha!” I thought, “Another garter stitch enthusiast!”

But, was I mistaken!  This poster had written up an entire diatribe on how garter stitch was Dumb, Ugly, and Boring!  Heresy! (I’d link the post, but 1.  I don’t want to start any drama, and 2. I don’t remember where I found it.)

I didn’t reply at the time, because other people had already said everything that I would have said (more eloquently, and with fewer “How dare you”s).  And of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinions.

Unless their opinions are wrong.

IMG_0293Because garter stitch is a fantastic stitch!  It’s cozy and warm and squishy.  It’s incredibly meditative and satisfying.  It make fabric that’s extra warm.  It lays perfectly flat (perfect for scarves, blankets and dish cloths).

IMG_0315It’s simple to do.  And simple is not to say bad or ugly.  I think because garter stitch is often the first stitch that new knitters learn, it gets a bad rap as something that’s “just for newbies.” I’ve been knitting for over 20 years (which is crazy to say), and I love garter stitch more now than I think I ever have.  I’ll admit, there was a little while there when I looked down on it a bit.  For a while I thought if a pattern didn’t have crazy cables or intricate lace, it wasn’t worth my time.  But now, I have to say, I love going back to the basics.IMG_0284Which isn’t to say that garter stitch has to be basic!  There’s little I love more than a pattern with crazy cables running across a big field of garter stitch.  It’s squishy on squishy, cozy on cozy, and frankly, an unbeatable combination in my opinion.IMG_0298I’ve even been experimenting with variations on garter stitch!  I love how these garter stitch ribs break up what would otherwise be a boring swath of stockinette.

In summary, I love garter stitch.  (Of course, I also love ribbing and stockinette and lace and cables and twisted stitches and…)

Do you love garter stitch, too?

Prepped and Ready

I have about 37 different “favorite parts” of knitting.  I love picking out yarn, I love casting on, I love binding off.  I love trolling Ravelry for the perfect pattern, and I love deciding that Ravelry doesn’t actually have the pattern I’m looking for and deciding to go my own way. I love getting deep into a big swath of stockinette or garter stitch, and I love carefully picking my way through fussy little lace.

But my current (and by current, I mean “this morning.” It could change by this afternoon) favorite part of knitting is getting my yarn ready for knitting.

I just spent a quiet hour with a podcast, a cup of coffee and my yarn swift, turning these squishy, gorgeous skeins of yarn into usable little cakes.IMG_0227There’s something really meditative about spooling up skeins of yarn. Watching the swift spin faster and faster, and the yarn zoom around the ball winder is very calming to me.  Something about getting everything set and prepped and ready to be used is so satisfying.IMG_0236It feels like the first day of a new school year- all that promise.  Only instead of new notebooks and pencils in my Jansport, I’ve got all that lovely yarn stashed away in my knitting bag and the perfect set of needles ready to go.  I can’t wait to get knitting with this yarn.IMG_0263I’m sure I’ll get frustrated with this project at some point (I’m guessing at about 60% completion), but right now, I couldn’t be happier with it.

What’s your favorite part of starting a knitting project?

Inspiration: Dreaming of Pullovers

My love of pullovers is well documented, even if I haven’t said it in so many words.  I’ve written a dozen sweater patterns.  Only two of them are cardigans.

I don’t really have anything against cardigans, but there’s something just so wonderful about throwing on a pullover and being totally enveloped in lovely, warm wool.  It’s the closest I will ever come to my dream of it becoming socially acceptable to wear a blanket out and about.  Especially since the weather has started turning distinctly fall-ish around here, there’s nothing I want more than to snuggle up with a big, soft pullover, a book and a mug of steaming tea.

But, since I have a little baby now, (ahem) access is the major concern with all my outfits .  So, it’s cardigans for me for the foreseeable future.  (And cardigans worked exclusively in superwash wool, because… well… baby.)

But, I can still dream, can’t I?  I can comb through Ravelry and pick out all the pullovers I would totally be wearing if only I had the time to knit them up.

I love a simple, classic silhouette on patterns like this.  There’s nothing more versatile than a perfect, plain sweater.  As long as we’re daydreaming, I’d make seven of these in seven different colors/yarns so that I could wear a different one every day for a week. Heaven.

No Frills Sweater by PetiteKnitIngen_Dikkedarer_Sweater_4_medium2But, I might get bored making seven of the same plain sweater.  I could throw a few of these into the mix.  I love the twisted stitch details at the raglan seams and the cool, understated cable/twisted stitch pattern at the bottom.  It’s just enough to make the sweater a little fancy without being fussy.

Opteka by Isabell KraemerIMG_9756_medium2But, really, I want to make this sweater.  I’ve had my eye on it for years.  I think I even picked out yarn for it a few years ago (but then used that yarn for something else).  I don’t know why it’s so appealing to me- it’s just a basic, boxy raglan sweater with nice wide stripes.  (It has pockets too, which I like in theory, but I’d probably omit.)  Maybe it’s the 90’s kid in me; I do appreciate a good striped sweater.

Tea with Jam and Bread by Heidi Kirrmaierfullsizeoutput_a137_medium2If you could magically have a new knitted wardrobe, what would you include?  Lots of pullovers? Cardigans? Ponchos?

First Sock Syndrome

We’ve all heard of Second Sock Syndrome– that affliction that makes it nigh on impossible to make yourself knit the second sock of a pair.  I admit, sometimes I get a little flare-up of SSS, but it’s something that I try really hard to avoid.

But, I have to admit that I live with a related affliction.  Something just as (if not more) deadly than Second Sock Syndrome, but perhaps a little less common.  I’m here to raise awareness about FSS.  That’s right: First Sock Syndrome, otherwise known as Cuffonly Sockitis.

I realized that I might be having a bout of FSS this weekend when I went to grab a set of my favorite sock needles for a new project (5″ bamboo US2 dpns, if you’re wondering). I have 5 or 6 sets of these needles, so I figured I’d be able to just grab some from the jar on my bookshelf and go on my merry way.  But no!  I couldn’t find a single needle!

It turns out they’re all being used in socks.  And not second socks.  That would be too easy- just a couple hours work to free my needles and finish off a brand-new pair of socks!  Not a single sock in my house is past the heel.  They’re all firmly stuck mid-way down the cuff.IMG_0193I don’t even remember starting this sock.  I think I started it literally before we moved… almost 4 years ago.IMG_0195And this one… I don’t even know what to say. IMG_0198It looks like I started it, got bored with it, put it down, picked it up again, completely forgot what pattern I was working, and just guessed until I got a couple more inches knit.  Look!  You can clearly see where I totally forgot what I was doing.IMG_0202.JPGClearly, I have a problem, and clearly, I’ve got some knitting to do to finish/fix these socks.

Or maybe I’ll just go buy another set of dpns.

Do you ever get FSS?