Author Archives: onemilljellybeans

More Socks

It seems like I’ve been on a sock kick (ha!) since the baby was born.  There’s something about a small, simple project that you’ve done a million times that’s very comforting.  It’s something I can pick up whenever I get a minute or two, but can then put down again when the little guy starts crying.  I’ve made so many socks over the years, that I could probably do them in my sleep.  (Which sometimes happens these days.)

Plus, it’s a great excuse to play with some beautiful, fancy yarn.  Like this:(Country Yarns Artistry, a hand-dyed super-dense sock yarn that I picked up at last fall’s Vogue Knitting Live.)

It’s even prettier in real life- all blues and greens and purples, vibrant and saturated.  (I can’t for the life of me figure out how to photograph intense blue yarn.  For some reason my camera always washes it out and makes it look all one-note.  I even tried Photoshop to correct the color, but it still doesn’t look great.  If anyone knows how to fix this, I’d love to hear it!)

Now, I love variegated yarn… when its in a skein or balled up, ready for knitting.  I visit a yarn store or a knitting expo, and I almost invariably leave with a skein or two of something hand-painted or dyed.  It’s irresistible!  But, then I get it home and start knitting and go “Eh.  It’s not as pretty as I thought it would be.” (I make a point of only sock yarn in variegated colorways these days.  It’s no big deal if the colors are a little bit brighter/sillier/tackier than I would normally wear.  )

But, this time I am pleasantly surprised.  Somehow, the pooling on this sock worked out really well!  It’s turned into a pretty blue-and-purple spiral, zooming down the broken seed stitch leg.Unfortunately, the heel has messed up the perfect spiral pattern.  Dang.

Hopefully the spiral will come back as I make my way further down the foot.  (And hopefully I can get the other sock to match!)  Fingers crossed!

Have you ever been surprised with how a new yarn works up?

Mouse Bear

Lord knows, I’ve made a bear or two in my time, but this bear is special.  This bear was a first birthday gift for a friend’s adorable daughter.

It’s Mouse Bear!  (So named because of its ridiculous ears.  I mean, look at them!)This little guy (or gal) was a really fun project that I zipped through a few months ago as a way to use little bits of as many colors as I could find in my stash.  And I have to say, I think it was pretty successful.  I wanted a pattern for something cute and squishy, but simple enough that I could add stripes without too much fuss.  I settled on this adorable teddy bear from Arne & Carlos (I always love their designs).  It’s worked from the bottom up in the round, and the arms and legs are connected in the same way you work a sweater.  The muzzle is then picked up and knit from stitches around the face, and the ears are added as the last step.  Easy-peasy for someone who likes knitting bottom-up sweaters (and great for someone who’s interested in learning garment construction, but who isn’t feeling up to making a whole sweater).

It was a super fun project, and the end result is too stinking cute.  If you used self-striping sock yarn (as the pattern suggests), it would be really easy, too!

If you were a dumb-dumb like me and changed colors every six rows, you will have approximately one gajillion ends to sew in.  (But, I think the finished project was worth the trouble of all those ends.  Seriously.  So many ends.)

I think the birthday girl likes it!Have you ever experimented with stripes?

Electric Socks

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks (as you might imagine).  As I’m writing this, the baby is just about 4 weeks old, and has not quite figured out the whole I-should-sleep-at-night thing.  He’s pretty great though.  I certainly won’t be complaining (except about the being awake at night thing).

The biggest surprise to me, about the last few weeks has been that I’ve actually had time to get some knitting done!  (Mostly when the grandparents have been visiting, if I’m being honest.)  I even managed to finish a pair of socks!

I started these bad boys a couple days before the baby was born, with the intention that I’d want something simple and small to work on when I was hanging out at the hospital (what was I thinking?).  Of course, one of the first things they did was put an IV line into the back of my hand, so knitting was completely out of the question the whole time I was there. (Not to mention, I was having a baby.  What was I thinking?)

But, despite that, over the last almost-month, I managed to cruise through these socks while the kid was napping, being held, or otherwise engaged.

I love a good, sturdy sock, and these just fit the bill.  They’re knit up in Hazel Knits Artisan Sock in Electric Slide (one of my favorite brands and colorways), so I know they’ll hold up well.  I used my basic sock recipe, and decorated them with a simple knit-and-purl basketweave pattern- juuust complicated enough to keep me interested, but not so complicated that I’d have to anything as difficult as counting past 3.I did not, however, bother blocking them.  Because that seems like a lot of effort right now.  Perhaps I’ll block them later, but honestly, I think I’m just going to start wearing them.

Have you been up to anything lately?

It Has Begun

I finally started my blue sweater- the one that I’m using my Knit Picks Provinicial Tweed for.  The one that I’ve been putting off, because I didn’t know precisely what I wanted to do with it.

Well, I still don’t know what I want to do with this sweater, but I’m not letting that stop me right now.

I do know a few things about my plan, however:

  1. I know my gauge.  I’m using my favorite US8s and they give me about 4.75-5 sts/inch.
  2. I know I want to make a pullover.
  3. I know I want to make a sweater with set-in sleeves.  (It’s been a hot minute since I did the whole set-in sleeves thing, and I want to give it a go again.)
  4. I know that I have a lot of yarn, so I should make something tunic-length or billowy to use up some yardage.
  5. I know that if I start from the top and work down, I’ll have time to figure out what I really want to do.

So that’s exactly what I’m doing.  I’ve started a top-down pullover with a crew neck and set-in sleeves, based on Ann Budd’s genius book, The Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters: Basic Designs in Multiple Sizes and Gauges.  I love this book, and find it’s an indispensable tool when designing my own sweaters whether they’re one-offs, just for me (like this sweater), or they’re turned into published patterns.  She walks you through making a simple sweater (that you can jazz up any way you like) with virtually any gauge and any size.  I like math more than your average person, but the amount of math that Ann must have done to write this book boggles my mind.

Anyway, enough fan-girling (though, you really should pick up this book if you’re interested in designing your own sweaters).

I started knitting, following the instructions for the appropriate size set-in sleeve pullover, and I’m currently a couple inches down from the armpits.  And now I’ve got to make some decisions.My original impulse was to pick a few points around the bustline (maybe two points on the front and two on the back, or maybe just at either side along the “seams”) and increase as I knit down, making an A-line sweater, something that fit nicely through the shoulders, then flared out below the arms, like this:But, now I’m not sure.  That shape seems a little girly for me.  I’m now thinking I might just make the sweater straight and let it get extra-long (maybe hip length or longer), then splitting the hem and working in a little extra length (like this sweater, but even longer).What do you think?  What would you do?  I’ve pushed off making this decision for long enough!

 

Grumpy Old Man

We’re firmly in the midst of the June Gloom here this week.  If you’re not from Seattle, you might not be familiar with the June Gloom.  Think of it as Indian Summer, except instead of happening in the fall, it happens in the middle of summer, and instead of having surprisingly nice weather, everything gets gray and drizzly, and it doesn’t make it out of the fifties for a couple weeks.

I forget about the June Gloom every year, and just as I start breaking out my tank tops, shorts and sun dresses, Bam! It’s sweater weather again.

Not a big deal for me (obviously, I love a good sweater).  But, my kid was born at the beginning of April, so I assumed that he wouldn’t need warm clothes until he was quite a bit bigger.  I made one sweater that currently fits him, and did an “emergency” Target run to get him a hoodie that wouldn’t swallow him whole.  But, the kid has no hats!  (And no hair!)  He just looks so chilly when we go on walks (my husband says I’m projecting, since I’m always cold, which is 100% possible).

Anyway, I whipped up a quick little hat with some super-soft gray wool to match his little old man sweater.  It’s nothing fancy, just a bottom-up hat with a little ribbing on the brim and a simple crown.  Functional, soft, and warm.I took the boy outside to hang out under our apple tree yesterday afternoon.  The sun had come out, for once, but it was still a little on the chilly side, so I decided to bundle him up.  Sweater, sweatpants (baby pants are hilarious), and… his brand-new hat.

Well, at first he didn’t quite know what to make of it.Then he tried to take it off, but his hand-control isn’t quite there yet.Then he just got mad.So, I guess we’re just not going to be putting hats on him for a while. (And don’t worry, I took this one off right away, and he was soon happily looking at the tree branches and spitting up all over his sweater.)

Of course the knitter’s kid hates hats!  Dang!

Have you ever made something for someone that absolutely hated it?

Button Time!

It’s my favorite part of a project!  Time to pick out buttons!

I finished up my two Baby Surprise Jackets over the weekend, sewing up their shoulder seams and leaving them out to block.  And, then I dove into my big jar o’ vintage buttons that I inherited from my Grandma, and managed to find the perfect little quarter-inch buttons for both sweaters.

The Purple BSJ ended up with opalescent pink buttons.And the green sweater ended up with shiny, cream-colored buttons.The sweaters turned out great!  I love how the gradients turned out, and they’re super soft and squooshy (that’s totally a word, right?).  I even like how the backs ended up!I’ve always thought the little mitered stripes on the back of the cuffs/arms are the cutest.  I realize that’s kind of a silly little detail to really care about.  After all, who looks at the back of the cuff when determining  if a sweater has “turned out”?  But, hey- I can like whatever I want.I particularly like the two sweaters together, they look like they should be worn by fraternal twins, or very close-in-age siblings.  (They were worked from the same yarn base, but on slightly different needles, so the pink/purple sweater is just a scootch smaller than the blue/green one.)I gotta say, that Elizabeth Zimmermann really knew her stuff- this sweater always turns out super cute!

Have you finished anything fun lately?

On A Roll

You know what?  That blue-and-green Baby Surprise Jacket was so much fun, I think I’m just going to keep going!  (And I’m still writing these posts from the past, so I’ve got nothing but time as I wait for this gigantic baby to decide to show up.  Seriously!  I’m a really fun combination right now of bored and uncomfortable, and I need something fun to keep me entertained.  I’m sure that by the time you read this, I’ll more than have my hands full, what with keeping a baby alive and happy, but for now I’ve got to keep myself occupied.)

I dove into my stash again, and this time, I found a bunch of bits and bobs of really lovely pink and purple yarn!I’ve already started chugging away, working my way through the my first couple mini-balls of rich violets and royal purples.

I’ve come down a needle size (I’m using US6s instead of US7s), and the fabric is turning out a little more sturdy than the blue-and-green sweater (which is super loose and drapey, but still lovely).  Because it’s a smaller needle, the sweater is going to end up being a little smaller, too.

I think that’s OK, though.  After all, babies tend to be pretty little, at least at first.

Have you got anything fun on your needles these days?

Wheee!

Sometimes you just get cranking on a project, and before you know it, you’ve finished!  (Or nearly finished).  I love those projects- I’m in the zone, my needles flying.

And, this Baby Surprise Jacket was definitely one of those projects.

I had intended to use a bunch of blue and gray yarn, but it turns out, that I didn’t have as much of those colorways as I had originally thought.  I was a little worried at first, but then I realized, I could just add more colors!  The more colors the merrier, right?  Plus, you know how much I love using up scraps from my stash.

So, instead of plain ol’ blue stripes, I ended up with a very cool (if you don’t mind me saying) blue-to-green gradient!

I finished up the knitting on the sweater yesterday, and as much as I love the gradient, I think my favorite part of this (or any) BSJ is how it folds up- it’s the most satisfying feeling ever!  You start with this weird, wobbly-looking piece of knitting, then you fold up one side…and the other…And, ta-da!  you’ve got a beautiful little baby sweater.

Sure, it still needs a little seaming along the sleeves and some buttons, plus a nice round of blocking wouldn’t go amiss, but it’s essentially finished.

I’m so happy with how this little cardigan has turned out- I think the Baby Surprise Jacket might just be my favorite sweater pattern ever.

ProcrastiKNITion

OK,  I’m “supposed to” be working on my Provincial Tweed sweater.  Or at least “supposed to” be coming up with a plan for that sweater.

Instead, my mind is a blank, and all I want to do is use up more of my sock yarn.  I want to follow a pattern (no math for me today, thank you very much).  And I want to do something quick, easy and familiar.

Well.  I guess there’s just one thing for it.

I’ve gotta break out my Elisabeth Zimmermann and make another Baby Surprise Jacket.I love this pattern.  It’s super simple, with almost zero finishing (unless you put in a bunch of stripes, which I plan on doing… oops).  It’s absolutely ingenious, to the point where I have no idea how EZ figured out how to design and write the dang thing in the first place.  It’s a great way to use up whatever bits and bobs of leftover yarn and salvaged buttons you have laying around.  And, the pattern’s style is absolutely charming.

It’s not a standardized, modern pattern, that’s for sure.  The copy that I use is a reproduced version of the original by-mail newsletter from 1968.  It’s been written on a typewriter, and amended with little drawings, diagrams and notes from Ms. Zimmermann herself.  She has includes little chivvying remarks and jokes in with her pattern instructions, and lets her personality shine through the text of her pattern.  I feel like we would have gotten along swimmingly.Anyway, all that’s to say that I’m making a Baby Surprise Jacket for the little one, using all the leftover bits of blue and gray yarn I have left in my stash after finishing off his baby blanket.  I’m really excited!

Do you have a favorite pattern you go back to time and again when you’re waiting for inspiration to strike?

Putting On My Thinking Cap

It’s been nice to be finished with my Papaya Sweater.  But it was on my needles for so long that I kind of got used to having it as my easy go-to when I had a few minutes of knitting time.  It was something that I always knew I could pick up and get to work on without thinking about what I had to do next.

Now that it’s done, I’ve actually got to put a little thought into what I’m going to do next.

I’ve already decided that I want to use the Provincial Tweed yarn that I got from Knit Picks.  It’s a beautiful colorway, it’s super soft, and I have enough for a whole sweater, so how could I say no?

I spent yesterday morning winding up all the skeins, and now I have a very satisfying bowl of yarn cakes, ready for action!And then, I spent the afternoon working up a nice-sized swatch on US8s.And, I gotta say… I was not expecting this yarn to make such lovely, silky fabric.

I’m not complaining, but I was really surprised how this yarn knit up.  I was expecting something with a little more texture, a little more stitch definition, but that doesn’t seem to be what this yarn wants to do.It’s possible that if I go down a needle size (or two or three), this yarn might get a little more backbone, but I don’t know if I want to futz with that.  It might be better to just go with the flow (or rather, go with the nice flow-y fabric that I’ve already got).

I had been planning on making some sort of  cabled pullover, something like this one (except maybe a little less fancy).  But, I don’t think that’s going to work with the texture of the Provincial Tweed yarn.Instead, I’m now thinking I might need to make something a little looser and drapier.  (And something that possibly looks a lot more like my Papaya Sweater than I had originally intended for this yarn.)  I might try a cardigan like this, or design something myself.I’ve got to put my thinking cap on for a bit and see if I can’t figure out what I should do.  (Or, in true Allison fashion, I could leave the yarn to percolate in my studio for the next six months or so before I ever actually knit anything with it.)

What would you do in this situation?