Author Archives: onemilljellybeans

All done*

*For the most part, anyway.

And, I’m pleased to say, my sweater turned out pretty great!

I was worried it was going to be too short, but it ended up a surprisingly flattering hip length! And, I had plenty of yarn! I had about an egg-sized ball of the handspun and a half a skein of the blue when all was said and done.

I finished the body with a whole skein of blue left over, then picked up a whole mess of stitches for the button band. (Pro tip- when picking up a button band, you pick up 2 stitches in every 3 rows as you go up the sides, then pick up 1 stitch in every stitch across the neck. Then, check to make sure the two sides are more-or-less equal and if you have the right number of stitches for the ribbing you’re doing. If one side has too many stitches, instead of ripping out and re-picking up the stitches, just work the appropriate number of decreases on that side in the next row as you establish the ribbing. And, if you need to change the number of stitches to make the ribbing come out evenly, do the same thing, but at the back of the neck. So much easier than ripping out, and no one will ever know!)

I threw in some button holes after a couple rows, and finished off the button band in pattern. OK, it turned out I threw in too many button holes (in my defense, I wasn’t paying attention), so I used a little matching thread to sew up the extra one.

Then I blocked it and added on some buttons that I happened to have that were the right size and more or less the right color (or so I thought).

Once they were on and the sun came out (I added them late at night, and it turns out I couldn’t really see them), I realized they were definitely not the right buttons. But they’re the ones I have in my stash, and they’re functional, so they’re staying on for now. The moment I get to go to a yarn shop again, I’ll get something cute (and probably silver) for this sweater.

But for now, I’m really pleased with how this has turned out!

What have you guys finished lately?

Inspiration: All Creatures Great and Small

So, I’ve decided I need a new aesthetic. I’m no longer going to dress as a 21st century 30-something mom. Nope. No more t-shirts or leggings or hoodies for me.

I’m now officially dressing as a country vetrinarian from the 1930s.

It’s all tweed and knit vests and crisp white shirts from now on.

Why yes, I have been watching the new All Creatures Great and Small on PBS. (And yes, I know I’m several months late to the party).

And if you haven’t watched it yet, what are you doing?! It’s a delight. It’s like a warm cup of tea poured by Mrs. Hall in the surgery kitchen. Which is exactly what I want these days. (My usual media diet of old Star Trek and true crime documentaries hasn’t been great lately).

Anyway, now that I’ve decided to totally overhaul my wardrobe to accommodate my new dream, we should probably talk vests.

Because, y’all, there are some very good vests.

Take this amazing Fair Isle number. I mean, I’m not a huge fan of stranded knitting generally, but I could get behind making up something like this. It’s gorgeous, it’s super fancy, and still manages to be understated. Plus, how much fun would it be to pick out all those colors?

Machrihanish by Kate Davies Designs

Or I could go the absolute opposite direction, and go super simple with super-wide ribbing. Classy. Classic. Cozy.

His Vest by Churchmouse Yarns and Teas

But, I think this is my favorite of all the vests. (And I think it’s James Herriot’s favorite, too, since he wears it all the time.) It just looks so soft and comfy, and you know me and cables. Cables+me=BFFs.

Delius by Bristol Ivy

Well, I’m off to watch the Christmas Special (which is very timely… ha!) and go online shopping for tweed and button-downs.

What are you currently watching?

Back on Track

It was touch and go there for a minute, but I have made up with my striped sweater. I’ll be honest, I really considered frogging the whole dang thing after the sleeve debacle.

But I’m glad I rejiggered my math and reworked the sleeve. Because it’s turning out super cute, and the fit is so much better. (I’d show you a picture, but I’m still in my PJs. My “daytime PJs,” to be fair, but still.)

Now the only question is: How long is this sweater going to end up?

I’ve finished the sleeves and I’m working my way down the body. I’ve got three skeins of the blue left and a ball of the handspun that’s about the size of a lemon (and who knows how many yards that is?). I figure if I save one skein of the blue , that should be enough for the button band. And most of the second skein will probably be used for the waist ribbing.

So that leaves one skein of blue and an indeterminate amount of handspun. I was hoping I could leave the bottom of the sweater stripe-free, but I think I might need to add some to make sure it doesn’t end up an awkward length.

This whole project feels like playing yarn chicken. At least it’s looking cute.

Cross your fingers for me!

And Something Completely Different

Well. I’ve put my striped sweater in a time-out for now. Not that it did anything wrong exactly. I’m just grumpy about the whole math/sleeve situation.

I’m also grumpy about the stuffed animal situation.

“What stuffed animal situation?” you ask.

To which I answer, “You must not have a kid living in your house.”

Because my kid (my kids!) have So. Many. Stuffed. Animals.

They don’t even really play with them. (To be fair, one kid is just a little lump who still hasn’t figured out how to use his hands yet, but still.)

There is a big basket of stuffed animals in the living room, two bins of them in Kid 1’s room (in addition to the half-dozen or so that live in his bed), and another bin in Kid 2’s room.

So, in my frustration, I decided to make the biggest basket ever. (Is this a smart decision? No.)

I found a big roll of quarter-inch rope in the shed and a decent amount of leftover Wool of the Andes in my stash and pulled out a crochet hook.

And with a little futzing and a lot of improvising, I’ve got (most) of the bottom of a basket. (Basically, I’m doing a simple (ch1, sc1) around, catching the rope in each single-crochet stitch, and increasing as needed to keep the stitch density more or less even as the rope spirals out. Eventually, I’ll stop increasing, when I start the walls of the basket.)

Unfortunately, it’s growing super-slowly. And if I want this basket to be big enough to contain the horde of stuffies that my kid has been collecting, well… I’ve got a long way to go.

It looks pretty good so far, though!

… Maybe Too Improvised

So you know last week when I was so full of myself about my improvised sweater? When I was all “I love this sweater! I love figuring things out as I go! Measuring? Math? Who needs ’em? There’s no way this is going to go wrong!”

Well. As they say, pride cometh before the fall.

And boy howdy how I’ve fallen.

I had the yoke done, I’d split for body and sleeves, and had made it a full skein of yarn into my body. Then, I put the body on pause while I made the sleeves. That way, I’d be sure to make the sleeves long enough, and I’d know exactly how much yarn I have for the body. Smart. Or, at least a good plan.

Before I tell you what happened next, let me say that in my defense, I actually did a swatch. However, my swatch came to about 4.5 sts/in. My beloved Ann Budd book has the math done for 4 sts/in and 5 sts/in. So, instead of picking different needles or actually doing my own math, I’d just chose a larger size, and decided to follow the 4 sts/in pattern. Not a great plan, not terrible.

But, I forgot that her sleeves are a little slimmer than I like to begin with.

And I forgot that they’re also a little short.

And I forgot to try on my sweater as I went.

Once I had the first sleeve knit down to the cuff, I finally tried the sweater on. Y’all. It was bad. My arm looked like an over-stuffed hotdog that had been cooked so much it was about burst.

It was so bad, I immediately ripped it out. Which (while not a great move for a blogger, since I don’t have a picture of just how awful the sleeve was) is a move I stand by.

Anyway. Now I’m back to basically where I was last week. And after all that, I think the yoke and body will be fine, though the silhouette will probably be a bit more fitted than I had envisioned. But I’m definitely going to have to do some math for my sleeves. Sigh…

When’s the last time you had to re-do a significant part of a project?

Improvised Sweater

You guys, I kinda love how this project is going!

After the swatch went so well last week, I couldn’t wait to start knitting my new sweater. Did I want to plan? No. Did I want to do math? No. Did I want to follow another person’s pattern? No.

I just wanted to start knitting!

So, I pulled out my trusty Ann Budd top-down sweater bible and set to work on a raglan sweater (my favorite) in 2×2 stripes of blue and handspun. After a few rows, I decided, “Yeah- it’ll be a V-neck.” I never make v-necks for myself, so why not give it a shot!

Then, when I got to the bottom of the V, I had to decide between cardigan and pullover. I literally hadn’t thought that far ahead. Which is wild. You guys know me, I’m always such a planner, especially when it comes to my knitting.

I sat for a few minutes, and thought about what I had in my sweater pile. I have a bunch of pullovers, but I really don’t know the last cardigan I made for myself that’s really wearable. The cardigans that come to mind are cute and all, but not terribly wearable day-to-day. They’re more of the “decorative” variety than the practical. And you know I’m all about practical garments these days.

So, I’m off to the races. I’m doing a v-neck cardigan!

My current goal is to be as efficient with my yarn usage as possible. I’ll continue in stripes until I’m just about out of the handspun, then do the rest of the body/arms in the solid blue. Hopefully, that’ll let me make the best of every last inch of my yarn.

Fingers crossed that it all goes to plan! (Even if there really isn’t one.)

Sweater!

So, I’ve been whining about wanting to do a sweater, but not having enough time/energy/yarn to knit a sweater.

Well. Turns out that, while I don’t have the time or energy to make a sweater, I do, in fact have the yarn for it.

And when has being low on time or energy ever stopped me from starting a project? Never.

I really dug deep into the stash this time, and found about 8 skeins of Wool of the Andes in Sapphire Heather (one of my favorite colorways). I say “about” because a couple of the skeins had already been partially used. On what? Who knows.

And I found a big hank of handspun that I made years ago. I don’t remember how many yards it is, it’s very inconsistent in weight (and not on purpose), and I have no memory of what the fiber content was. But it’s a very pretty blend of blues, greens and purples that I love, but is entirely impossible to photograph.

Well, I thought they looked nice together. They’re roughly similar weights on average, and, when combined, they probably have enough yardage for a sweater.

So, I got to swatching, and I have to say, I’m pleasantly surprised with how it turned out. I did a quick 2×2 stripe, which I figured would be the easiest way to combine the yarns together for maximum yarn usage with the least fuss/planning.

I’m excited to get started. Now to figure out what I’m actually going to do with this…

New Pattern: Comfort Mittens

It’s really been a while. Or at least, that’s what it feels like. But, I’ve got a shiny new pattern for you guys!

It’s a super-cozy, oversized, cabled to the gills, just right for the middle of February pair of mittens!

Everyone say hi to the Comfort Mittens! (“Hi, Comfort Mittens!”)

These bad boys are so cozy and warm, and nice and long (because who wants cold, drafty wrists?), perfect of the bitter winter weather we’ve been having. I love the simple-to-execute, but impressive-looking cables on the back. Would you believe they’re worked with only 2 different crossovers?!

These mittens are worked in the round from the cuff up, with an afterthought thumb and a fully-charted cable on the back. The yarn they use is Knit Picks’ Twill, which might be my favorite yarn they sell. It’s super plush and cozy, and also wears (and washes) like a dream. Perfect for mittens.

So, hop on over to the Knit Picks website to grab yourself a copy of the pattern, or why not treat yourself to the whole (equally-cozy) collection?

Grateful 8

Y’all. It’s been a year. Actually, it’s been 8 years. Which… I can hardly wrap my head around.

Last year, I was shocked to have made it 7 years, and surprised I’d kept up the blog and pattern writing with a kid in tow.

Well… HA! Now I’ve got two kids and have managed to keep everything going during a pandemic. Which is, frankly, deeply shocking.

(Apologies for the terrible photoshop… I usually make myself a “birthday candle” for anniversary posts, but I’m in the process of moving all my stuff to the basement (the baby has taken over my office), and I have no idea where the supplies for this are. Let’s just say, my papercraft skills are far superior to my digital art skills.)

Anyway,

Pros of being a knitter during a year(s) long pandemic:

  1. Easy to keep busy.
  2. You can’t have an existential crisis and learn German Short Rows at the same time.
  3. A great excuse to use up your stash.
  4. Plenty of time to burn through your audiobook/Netflix cues.
  5. Knitting really lends itself to the whole “Preparing for the end of the world” vibe. (Might I add, I also took up vegetable gardening and making my own jam this year.)

Cons of being a knitter during a pandemic:

  1. Knitting seems like the only way to keep busy.
  2. It’s freaking hard to stay creative while also trying not to let the dread creep in.
  3. I’ve managed to use up almost all the “good” yarn in my stash, and I haven’t been in a real LYS since March.
  4. I’m basically through all the shows and books I wanted to read (Seriously… any recommendations?)
  5. You know… just being in a pandemic isn’t great.

Anyway. It’s been a hell of a year. I’m glad I’m still knitting. I’m glad I’m still blogging. And, I’m glad I’m still writing patterns (albeit less frequently). It’s nice having at least one small thing that’s been “normal” this year.

Keep on knitting on.

Scraps have never been this cozy

Like I’ve said, I’m starting to have to get really creative with my stash usage the last few months. Which is kind of fun, if I keep myself in the right headspace. It’s like a puzzle, and not a depressing reminder that I haven’t gotten to go shopping in almost a year.

For example, I pulled out the leftovers from my Soldotna Sweater from last year. A half skein (or less) of four fairly disparate colors. I had the most of the blue and the variegated pink, with a small amount of gray and just a smidge of purple. It’s Tosh DK, which is one of my favorite yarns- so cozy and soft with such great colors! Sure, I had only about 200 grams total, but I knew I had be able to do something with it.

I sat down to swatch and decide what I wanted to do, when my husband asked what I was making. I said I wasn’t sure yet- maybe mittens or a hat, or maybe another cowl. And he got a funny look on his face and asked, “Why not just make socks?” I explained that the yarn was a little to thick for socks- that they’d end up more like slippers and probably wouldn’t really fit inside of shoes. He gave me another funny look, like he didn’t believe my excuses.

Long story short, it turns out that he wanted a pair of extra-cozy slipper-socks, but was too polite to ask. He’s been working from home in our (apparently quite cold) basement since spring, and he needed something extra cozy for his toes.

He picked the colors he liked best, and I made some suggestions about color placement, and away I went.

I worked the socks toe up, to get the most out of every last inch of yarn, but based the sock design on tincanknits’ Little Squirrel socks (a basic turned-heel sock with a mistake-rib cuff).

I’ve still got the second sock’s cuff to work up, and the colors aren’t necessarily the ones I would have picked, had I had a whole yarn store to choose from. But, I really like how they’re turning out. (The mistake ribbing on the cuff is especially satisfying!)

And they’re undeniably cozy.

What’s the coziest thing you’ve worked on recently?