Author Archives: onemilljellybeans

Inspiration: Oscars

The Academy Awards were last night.  And, instead of watching them, my husband and I watched old episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation (because we are nerds).  But, from what I’ve heard, the show was full of excitement.  So, here follows my zero-research (except for what my friends texted me while they were watching) report on “What Happened at the Oscars,” as explained by fiber arts projects.

  1.  The Oscars happened last night.  Lots of people got awards for being in movies.  When they won, they got to take home a little trophy.

Academy Award/Oscar Statuette by Susan J. S. Walkupdscf0261_medium212.  Apparently some Batman/Joker movie won an Oscar.  People seemed pretty upset about that for some reason.

Joker Amigurumi by Clare Heesh2014-04-01_17-11-08_medium213.  All the ladies attending the award show wore gowns.  (This one I actually did do some research on, because I like looking at pretty dresses.)  They were all very fancy, and almost no one wore anything with color.  So much beige, white, and black.

Chrysanthemum Gown by Chi Krnetaed__18__medium214.  I guess there was some mix-up with the Best Picture Winner? I think they called the wrong movie, then realized it was a mistake halfway through their acceptance speech and made the not-winners give the award over to the actual winner.  This seems so unlikely that I don’t know if I 100% believe that it happened.  I could look it up and confirm.  But then, what’s the point of doing a zero-research post, if I end up having to do research.

Mismatch by Jenn Morganredandbluesocks02_medium21Did you watch the Oscars?  Were they more enjoyable than I’m giving them credit for?

On ALL my needles

When I really started getting serious with knitting, back in college, I scoffed at knitters that I thought had “poor self control.”  (As a straight-A’s, honor roll over achiever-type, I scoffed at anyone who I thought had poor self control.  Not one of my more endearing character traits.)  I would never have more yarn in my stash than I could use.  I would never start a project and not finish it.  And, I would never have more than one project going on at once.

Never!

Well.

Maybe not never…

18-year-old me would be horrified with 30-year-old me.  I’ve got a room half-filled with boxes of yarn that “I will definitely use… some day.” I think I’ve got 4 or 5 projects on the needles right now, and about half of those are somewhere between hibernating and I-just-need-to-frog-this-but-I-can’t-be-bothered.

In fact, I now carefully plan my multiple projects.  I always have a big knitting project (sometimes it’s for work, sometimes it’s a gift) that I work on at home.  This is usually something awkward or complicated, something that’s just easier to keep by the couch and not worry about dragging all over town.img_3860I have a simple project- something that’s just a lot of stockinette or other mindless knitting.  I use this project for keeping my hands busy when my mind is doing something else- playing a game with friends, watching a tense movie, or something with subtitles.  (My bears are great for this!)img_3934And, I always have something small in the works, a project that I can keep in my purse and work on when I have a few minutes.  Waiting in line to get into a museum? Knit.  Got to work a little early? Knit.  Barber running a bit late? Knit.  In my opinion, there’s nothing better for purse knitting than a pair of socks (one at a time, of course, to leave more room in my purse for chocolate and a sketchbook).img_4679Do you work on multiple projects at the same time, or are you a one-and-done kind of knitter?

Back to the Beginning

Sometime you’ve just got to go back to your roots.  You’ve gotta eat a bowl of Kraft Macaroni Dinner, or watch the Princess Bride for the thousandth time, or dig out that old, cozy sweater your high school friend let you “steal” from their closet.  There’s just something so meditative and lovely about going back and doing something comfortable once in a while.

Don’t get me wrong- I’m always trying new things, new food, new knitting techniques.  But sometimes it’s so nice to return to something easy, simple and comfortable.

And, I just so happened to have a gigantic skein of Hazel Knits the Big Squeeze in Electric Slide.  I got it at last fall’s Knit Fit, here in Seattle.  It’s gigantic, squishy, and hand-dyed in the most gorgeous shades of electric purple and hot pink.  You know I’m more of a browns, grays, greens, and blues lady, but sometimes I just have to go super bright and girly, and this is one of those times.

I hemmed and hawed about what to do with this skein when I first got it, eventually settling on “just leave the skein out on my desk so I can look at it.”  But I’m a knitter, not (just) a yarn buyer, and I needed something fun and easy to work on.

So, with such big, gorgeous, striking yarn, why not go old-school?  Why not remake everyone’s first project- something I haven’t made in 20 years?  Why try to fancy-up such an already-fancy skein of yarn?

Why not make a garter-stitch scarf?img_4667This yarn is crazy, I mean, just look at it- the yarn is as big around as a pencil!img_4650But, the color is what sold me on this yarn when I first saw it, and it’s still what makes me so happy every time I pick it up.  Just look at the magnificent dye-job.  I love it to death.

img_4645

I wonder if I could dye my hair that color…

Do you ever go “back to basics” with your knitting projects?  What are your favorite “old favorites”?

Inspiration: Hometowns

I’m about to admit something very embarrassing.

In fact, maybe don’t read the rest of this post.

Especially you, Mom and Dad.

Are you gone?

OK.  Hello. My name is Allison, and I love watching The Bachelor.bachelor-2017-nick-viall-promo-pics1I know, I know.  It’s not a great show.  But, it is also kind of really great.  It’s escapism, and these days, Lord knows I need some escapism.  It’s fun to watch beautiful people interacting under such weird circumstances.  It almost feels like watching sports (or what I imagine watching sports would be like if I watched them), you can pick apart every “move” the contestants make, try to infer what’s going to happen next, and cheer when your favorite people get “points.”

I’m even in a Bachelor Fantasy League (I’m winning for now, but it all could change at any moment!), and listen to a Bachelor Podcast (Rose Buddies– which is an absolute delight that you should listen to, even if you don’t watch the show).

Tonight’s episode is the very important “Hometowns” episode, where the last four contestants take the Bachelor home to meet their parents.  It’s always suuuuper awkward, but in the best way possible.

I’m not sure who’s going to make it through this episode, but let’s talk about the remaining contestants (I accidentally typed “characters”… oops!), and assign them sweaters (because this is a knitting blog after all).  (And, I suppose I should mention the Bachelor himself.  After all,  Nick is ostensibly who the show is about, but I really couldn’t care less about him- he has all the personality of a wet paper bag. Anyway- back to the ladies.)

Meet Raven!  She’s an adorable, super cool, super confident and sweet lady from a tiny town in Arkansas.  She owns a little fashion boutique and I really want her to be my friend.

ravenI bet you’d be able to find a sweater like this one in her shop.  It’s a little funky, a little comfy, and totally trendy.  Raven would probably wear it with killer boots and a cool, attention-getting necklace.

Boxy by Joji Locatelliboxy_01_medium21Rachel is a lawyer from Dallas. She’s super smart and capable, and was just announced as next season’s Bachelorette.  (So I guess she doesn’t “win” this season, but that’s A-OK by me, because she’s too good for Nick.)rachelI’d knit this sweater for her- it’s like the fun cousin of a blazer.  Actually, I kind of want this one for myself.

Walk the Cumbria Way by Jutta von Hinterm Stein0___0_walk-the-cumbria-way-hinterm-stein_medium21And, if the last two contestants were too good for Nick, Vanessa certainly is.  She’s amazing.  She’s a tri-lingual, Canadian special-needs teacher.  She’s tough, but sweet (and calls out the Bachelor when he does something crappy-which is rare on this show).  My money is on her for the “win,”  but she’s not actually on my team, so I have mixed loyalties.vanessaHer style is effortless, comfortable, and undeniably chic.  I think she’d rock a simple cardigan like this- actually, I think I might have seen her wear one very similar in the last couple episodes.

BlueSand Cardigan by La Maison Rililieblausand_jacke-42_copy_copy_medium21Then, we come to Corinne.  Corinne is this season’s “villain,” but she’s kind of amazing.  She says she’s the 24-year-old owner of a “Multi-million-dollar business,” but really she’s a model/Instagrammer who goes by the nickname “Corn” and has a nanny.  She’s pretty immature (which is what gets her into trouble on the show), but I’m sure she’s less of a villain in real life.  She’s just a privileged weirdo who’s a little self-absorbed and self-conscious, which comes out as being pushy and unpleasant.  But, I like the girl, nonetheless (and she’s earned my fantasy team about a bajillion points, which is something I really like).cornAnd for my dear Corn, I’d have to make her a super cute sundress/bikini cover-up.  Everyone on this show spends about 3/4 of their time in swim suits, and Corn spends even more time in them than anyone else.  I think she’d totally wear this super cute tunic- though she would have to be careful of weird crochet tan lines.

Beach Tunic by Annelies Baes (Vicarno)white_beach_tunic_medium21Now you know my deep, dark secret.  So what’s yours?  What’s your secret guilty pleasure?

Tutorial: Reading Charts- Repeats

Now we all are experts in reading a chart while knitting back and forth, and we’re experts in using charts in the round.  But charts aren’t always that simple.  Sometimes your project has more stitches in a row than there are on your chart.  You can imagine that this could happen with projects that have a wide, repeating pattern (like a dish cloth, a blanket, or sweater).

If you have to repeat the whole chart, that’s easy enough- knit across the chart row, then work it again (and again), until you get to the end of your row of your knitting.  Simple.

But sometimes you have to repeat only some of the stitches in a row.  When you need to do that, your chart will look like this:laura-chart-c-repeatsDo you see the change?  (It’s subtle, so I’ll help you.)laura-chart-c-repeats-highlightSee those highlighted vertical lines?  Those are your repeat marks.  OK, honestly, I’m not sure what they’re technically called, but they mark out the stitches that you have to repeat.

So, let’s make an imaginary project- a scarf maybe?  We’ll cast on 18 sts, and use this chart, repeating the 4 sts in-between the repeat marks 3 times.

Start at row 1 st 1, and knit straight through to st 6 (just before the second repeat mark).  (You’ve worked 6 sts)

laura-chart-c-repeats-order-1Then, go back to st 3 (just after the first repeat mark), and work back through st 6.  (10 sts total)laura-chart-c-repeats-order-2Then, you’ll repeat sts 3-6 once more, and continue on to the end of the row.  (18 sts total)laura-chart-c-repeats-order-3On the next row you do the same thing, but reverse the way you read the chart (because we’re pretending to knit back and forth).

So, start at row 2, st 10, and work across to st 3 (just before the second repeat mark).  (8 sts)laura-chart-c-repeats-order-4Then repeat the middle 4 sts.  (12 sts)laura-chart-c-repeats-order-5And finish by working sts 6-1 once more.  (18 sts)

laura-chart-c-repeats-order-6Make sense?  Of course, for a wider project, you might be required to repeat the middle section more times, but the concept is the same.  Just keep going across the row, looping back as needed when you get to a repeat mark.  Simple!

Any more questions?  Let me know if anything else is confusing to you, I’m happy to help!

Happy Birthday to On the Needles!

On the Needles is 4 years old!  It’s potty-trained, running around, and getting ready for pre-school.  It’s probably learning its letters and is getting the hang of drawing.

Or whatever 4-year-olds do.  I’m not an expert in 4-year-olds.

img_4637But, It’s exciting!  I’ve been at this way, way, waaaaaay longer than I expected to be when I started this back on 2013.  I’ve written more patterns, and met more people than I planned.  I’ve even turned this whole knitting/pattern-writing thing into an actual part-time job, which I never thought I could do.

It’s been fun, working on my writing skills and my knitting skills.  I love sharing the projects I’m working on, and I especially love sharing my patterns.  I love teaching you guys techniques and skills that I use every day (and I hope you like that, too!).  I’ve even enjoyed learning how to take not-terrible pictures (sorry about today’s, though- it’s crazy foggy here, it’s almost 10, and I’ve still got all the lights on inside the house).

I’m going to keep going as long as I can still think about things to talk about.  I hope you’ll be willing to come along with me.  And, of course, please let me know if you have questions about anything, suggestions or ideas- I’m only one person with one brain, and sometimes it gets a little empty, so help is always appreciated.

Here’s to another 4 years!

Happy knitting!

Tutorial: Reading a Chart in the Round

Last week, I talked about the basics of reading a chart.  Today, I’m going to talk about reading a chart while knitting in the round.

*Gasp* What?!  Charts!?  And circular needles?! That’s just too much!  I can’t even!  (Sorry… I’m feeling a little dramatic this morning)

No, it’s not difficult!  It’s actually pretty simple.

So remember this chart from last week?  This is a chart that’s been written so that you can work it flat (ie, back and forth).laura-chart-c-plainI’ve modified it to now be read in the round.  Can you spot the differences (It’s like a sad, grown-up version of the puzzles in the back of Highlights magazine)?laura-chart-c-in-the-roundThe first big difference (that I’m sure you spotted), is that all the row numbers are lined up along the right side of the chart.  laura-chart-c-in-the-round-detailsThat’s because when you knit in the round, you’re always traveling in the same direction (from right to left).  When you knit flat, you knit back and forth, so the row numbers are arranged on alternate sides.  But, the same rule applies no matter how you’re knitting- you start knitting from the side of the row with the number, and work away.laura-chart-c-in-the-round-knitting-directionThe second big difference is in they key:laura-chart-c-in-the-round-details-2It looks like there’s a whole bunch of information missing, when you compare this chart to the “knit flat” chart.  But, in fact, you’re not missing any information!  This is because when you knit in the round, every row is a RS row!  So, it’s just implied that (in this case) a white square is a knit stitch on the RS and a gray square is a purl.

Simple!

What’s your favorite kind of pattern?

Tutorial: Reading a Chart

I’ve had a rash of people emailing me lately who don’t know how to read a chart- and that blows my mind!  Not only are charts the best way (in my mind) to understand a complicated pattern, but I think they’re head-and-shoulders easier to read than a 100% written-out pattern.  So, without further ado- let’s look at a chart.

laura-chart-c-plainThis is a little chart from my new pattern, the Laura Shawl!  (It’s the narrow, textured stripe, in-between the big cables.)52162220_21Let’s look at the main parts of this chart.  At the top, you’ll see the chart name- this is important if you’re working a project that uses several charts.  For example, the Laura Shawl uses 5 separate charts, this is the third (C) one.  And, at the bottom (or sometimes to the side), you’ll find a key which explains what the symbols mean (I’ll explain that in more detail later).laura-chart-c-title-and-keyThen, along the left and right sides, you’ll find row numbers.  And, on the bottom, you’ll see the stitch numbers.laura-chart-c-rows-and-stsYou’ll notice that the row numbers go from bottom to top (ie.  1 is on the bottom).  This is because you’re going to knit from the bottom to the top.  That way, when you finish knitting the chart, you’ll be able to hold up your knitting next to the chart and you should see something that looks similar to the chart (in other words, it shouldn’t be upside-down or mirrored).laura-chart-c-knitting-directionThis chart is meant to be knit flat, and I can tell that because the row numbers alternate sides.  (1 is on the right, 2 is on the left, etc.)  laura-chart-c-rowsThe beginning of your row is marked by the row number.  So, Row 1 starts at the right and goes to the left.  Row 2 starts at the left and goes right.  (Just like your knitting!)laura-chart-c-row-directionNow you’ve got your bearings, it’s time to start knitting.  But what do all those little squares mean?  Each square is a stitch, and the symbol (or in this case, the color of the square) tells you how to work that square.  Do you see down in the key?  Each symbol has instructions, which include what to do on the Right Side and the Wrong side.  On odd-numbered rows (unless your pattern says otherwise), you’ll work the RS instructions.  So, for Row 1, you’ll K1, P3, K2, P3, K1.laura-chart-c-rsThen, on the even rows, you’ll use the Wrong Side instructions.  So, Row 2, you’ll P1, K3, P2, K3, P1.laura-chart-c-wsAnd, that’s basically it!  See?  It’s not so bad!  You can totally use a chart!

Next week I’ll walk you through knitting in the round using a chart (Spoiler- it’s even easier!), and how to work charted repeats.

Do you like using charts, or do you prefer written-out patterns?  Why?

Christmas Balls

It’s snowing again!

The schools I teach at had a snow day on Monday, and a two-hour late start on Tuesday.  I can only imagine what’s going to happen now that it’s snowing again!  Maybe I’ll just get the rest of the week off (one can hope, right?).   (It’s amazing how much of a Seattleite I’ve become.  The first sign of flurries, and I go into full-blown hibernation mode.  Growing up in the Midwest, we didn’t change our plans unless there was a good 6″ of snow in an hour, and then we just drove a little slower.)

And what’s better than finishing up some of Arne and Carlos’ Christmas Balls on a snowy morning?

51jEZkkM8SL._SX379_BO1,204,203,200_[1]My mom gave me a copy of this adorable book for Christmas (thanks Mom!), and I’ve knit up a couple balls since the holidays.  They’re fun, quick, and don’t use too much yarn (though I did manage to run through my stash of red and white DK wool- I’ve got to order some more).img_4559These little guys are really fun if you want to practice your colorwork in the round.  They have dozens of different designs, and they even include a blank chart in the back of the book if you want to get fancy and design your own patterns!img_4576Of course, finishing is a little fiddly (but any small colorwork project is going to be a bit fiddly).  I sat down with the newest episode of Victoria and a cup of tea, and I had all three of these balls finished before the episode was over.

img_4601Now my only problem is that I want to make about three dozen more, so that next year my Christmas tree will be decorated only with these lovely guys!

Have you made Christmas ornaments before?  What’s your favorite?

Snow Day Knitting

It’s a Snow Day!

There’s three inches of snow on the ground, the roads are slushy, buses are on limited routes (my husband’s bus has been totally canceled, so he’s staying home too!) and school has been canceled!

It’s a real, honest-to-goodness snow day.img_4542Seattle really does snow the best way, It’s here for a day or two, everyone has fun, takes walks, builds snowmen, then it all melts and we go back to normal.  None of this Midwestern snow-that-sticks-around-gray-and-frozen-until-mid-March nonsense.

I know all this Seattle snow is probably one of the signs of the apocalypse, but today I’m enjoying it.  I already took the dog on a walk, I’ve got a hot cup of coffee and I’m thinking about breaking out a movie and some knitting (surprise!).  Ollie loves the snow, but doesn’t love how his fur creates little snowballs all around his feet.  I love that though, it looks like he has little pompoms in his fur.   Adorable!img_4536I’ve got some socks I’m probably going to go work on after this, but if I had planned for more snow-day-appropriate knitting projects, I might have picked one of these:

I love the little frolicking deer in this snowy forest!  It reminds me of cross-country skiing in West Virginia as a kid.

Snow Roe Deer Beanie by Sandra Jagersnow_roe_deer_beanie0_medium1This snowflake shawl is almost too pretty for words (but I bet it would take quite a few snow days to complete.

 Snow Queen Shawl by Janine Le Crasyarma_medium21And, nothing says “Scandinavian snow day” quite like red-and-white color work mittens.  I think I might need these.

Snow Ghost Mittens by Aimee Alexandercontrast_medium21How’s the weather by you?  Have you had any snow days this winter?