Category Archives: FYI

One-Month Warning!

It’s coming!

Get ready!

I hope you’ve already gotten a jump on your knitting.  Because:

You’ve got one month until Christmas!Good luck!

(OK, really you have a month plus one day, but still…)

Knitter’s Block

You guys have all heard of writer’s block, right?  When a writer simply can’t bring themself to keep writing, or maybe they just can’t figure out what to write next.

I propose that I am currently experiencing the knitter’s version of writer’s block.  Knitter’s block.

Since I finished my super secret vampire project, I’ve been kind of at loose ends.  I’ve got a bunch of knitting I should be doing.  And, if I’m being honest, I’ve been working on it a bit.  I’ve added a couple dozen rows to my Papaya Sweater, and I’ve knit up a handful of Christmas Balls over the last couple weeks. I even added a couple inches to my last Mother Bear of the year.

But, I gotta say, I’m not terribly inspired.I’ve been thinking, and right now, it seems I have a couple options:

  1.  Keep plugging away.  Pro: I get to finish the projects I’ve started.  Con: I’m boooooored.
  2. Dig out some other half-finished project and finish it.  Pro: They’ll be finished.  Also, I’ll get back the project bags and needles that have been sequestered (in some cases) for years.  Con: There’s a reason those projects ended up in my pile of hibernating WIPS.
  3. Start a new project.  Pro: New project!  A new excuse to go yarn shopping! Con: What about all the other projects?

Or, I could just continue to ignore the problem, make myself another cup of hot cocoa, and take Ollie on a walk.Options.

What do you do when you get bored with your knitting?

Vogue Knitting: The Damage

Woo!  What a weekend!

(Yes, I know it’s Wednesday.  My weekend went all the way through Monday, which is why I haven’t updated you on Vogue Knitting Live until now.)

The yarn show was amazing.  So much pretty yarn!  So many beautiful sweaters!  So many lovely people!

I visited the Knit Picks Booth and finally got to meet everyone I’ve been working with for the last couple years (we’ve been working via email and hadn’t met face-to-face yet).  And, I’m happy to report that everyone is just as lovely as I hoped.  (Although it was mega-weird for little ol’ introverted me to have people recognize my name, and pull out their WIPs of my projects!)

In fact, I had such a good time on Saturday, that I 100% forgot to take any pictures!  (I’m so bad at social media!)

I did, however drop a good bit of money on yarn, and yarn-adjacent accessories.  (I got mighty close to buying a $75 skein of alpaca, but just managed to control myself- it was just so pretty!)  Unfortunately for you guys, most of my purchases are earmarked to be Christmas gifts, and their recipients read this blog, so you won’t get to see those. (I promise, they’re super cool, though!)

Anyway, here’s my haul:Not too bad, if I say so myself!  (Sorry about the colors- it’s very overcast here (it is Seattle, after all), so I had a hell of a time taking pictures this morning.)  Two amazing skeins of sock yarn and an adorable set of buttons.

I got this skein of Country Yarns Presents Artistry, and when I showed it to my husband, and he said “Oh, it’s your colors.” Apparently my colors are teal, turquoise, blue and violet.  I can’t say he’s wrong.  This picture does not do this yarn justice- in real life it’s bright, vibrant, and very peacock-y.  I’m itching to start making some socks with it.

I’ve actually purchased Hazel Knits Artisan Sock before, and made a really lovely pair of broken rib socks in a beautiful, subtle charcoal/navy color.  I love those socks.

Unfortunately, my husband loves those socks, too.

So, I purchased this skein of electric-purple so I can have my own socks (since my husband won’t (probably) steal them).  We’ll have to see if it works.I forgot the name of the vendor that was selling these buttons- she had hundreds of resin buttons in every color in the rainbow.  Some were shiny, some were glittery, some had tiny flowers embedded inside them.  They were all beautiful.

I couldn’t pass up these little gorgeous guys.  They remind me of gumdrops or tiny hard candies.  I think they’d be fantastic on a little baby sweater, but they might end up on something for me, instead.  For now, they just look great hanging out on my desk.

I am so happy with my purchases, I can’t wait to get knitting with them!  Maybe I should put aside my Papaya Sweater again?  That thing’ll never get done at this rate!

Have you made any especially exciting purchases lately?

My Poor Needles

I have a favorite pair of needles.  I bet you do, too.  They’re my go-to needles for probably half the projects I work up.  If I’m designing a pattern, or making a gift for someone that doesn’t specifically require me to dig out a different pair of needles, they’re the ones I go for.  I’ve even switched them back and forth between two different WIPs, so that I could work on two different projects at the same time.

They’re my Knit Picks Interchangeable Size US8 needles in Caspian.

They’re part of a set of interchangeables that I love to death.  It’s so convenient to have such a wide range of needles at my fingertips.  They come with extra cables in a couple lengths, so I always have the perfect needle for whatever project I’m starting.  (And the blue-green colors of the wood are so pretty, I can’t say no to them.)

I’ve had these needles for a few years now, and use them almost exclusively.  I love knitting with wooden needles, and only ever use circulars any more (straight needles drive me up the wall), so they’re perfect for me.

In fact, I think I might have used my US8’s a little too much.After more than three years of nearly constant use, and especially after I just finished my massive vampire project (3+ hours of complicated knitting every day for over a month), my favorite needles are starting to show a little wear. I don’t know if you can really see it in the picture, but the tips are not as smooth as they used to be, and the finish is beginning to wear off.  But, after so many years of faithful service, I can’t really blame them.  They’re still usable, but they aren’t quite as smooth as they used to be.

It’s funny.  I’ve lost needles, broken needles, and my dog has eaten (or at least chewed up) needles, but I’ve never actually worn out needles like this.  I feel like I need to frame them, or play taps as I lay them to rest at the bottom of my stash.  Or I could try refinishing the tips (though with my dismal knowledge of woodworking, that would probably turn into a fiasco).

Whatever I end up doing with them, they have served me well, knitting (probably) miles of yarn into dozens and dozens of projects.

(But, honestly, I’ll probably keep using them, because I’m cheap enough to not want to buy new needles, and they’re still not that bad.)

Do you have a favorite pair of needles?

Vogue Knitting Live!

I’m so excited for this weekend, guys!  Vogue Knitting Live is coming to the PNW, and I get to go!  I’m driving across the lake with one of my best friends, and we’re going to spend the day petting yarn, talking knitting, and buying altogether too much yarn.

It’s going to be great!Now, when I go to a knitting show like this, I usually go in with no plan at all.  Maybe I’ll have a vague budget (“Allison, don’t spend more than a hundred bucks… unless you find something really pretty”), or maybe I’ll have a vague idea (“Let’s get a bunch of sock yarn this weekend”).  But, inevitably I end up going way above and beyond what I intend… not that that’s a bad thing.

When I buy a special skein of yarn at a yarn show, or even at a lys, I try to imagine what it might become- I generally try to think about how much I’ll need if I want to make a pair of socks (~100g), or a shawl or scarf (two or three skeins).  That way I won’t get halfway through a project in a couple months, and run out of no-longer-available yarn.  But that’s really my entire thought process.

My friend, however, has been planning out some patterns that she specifically wants yarn for.  She’s been sending me some very cute patterns that she’s planning on making with her Vogue Knitting yarn.  I love her foresight (as a very Type-A person, I love a good plan), but that seems like a lot of work.  I don’t see myself sitting down and coming up with a list of patterns before tomorrow, but that might be a good idea.  Maybe this evening I’ll make myself a cup of hot cocoa and go on a Ravelry bender (before going to bed early, so I have plenty of energy for shopping tomorrow!).

What’s your yarn-show strategy?

Christmas Knitting

I’m feeling much better today (thanks for all the advice!), and hopefully I’ll keep up the streak of no-headaches for a while.

It’s cool (40s and 50s) and rainy outside, and the leaves are all changing.  So, obviously it’s the time for me to start making my Christmas plans!What?  You’re not a total Type-A planner like me?  Crazy!

Usually, I plan out Christmas gifts (and really, Christmas Knitting) super early- like, over the summer early.  But, I’ve decided to do something truly shocking this year.

I’m. Not. Knitting. Anything.

I swear!

(OK, I am making one small gift because it was specifically requested, and I made a promise.)

Every year I spend months knitting at top speed to make it to December 25th- I make sweaters, I make socks, I make mittens and hats and stockings.  And, they totally stress me out.

This year, I’ve got a bunch of work knitting that’s keeping me busy, and really, I just want to sit back, relax, drink some peppermint cocoa and enjoy the holiday season.  (And maybe selfishly make myself a few dozen more Christmas Balls.)That’s not to say that no one will be getting knit gifts.  You remember my stash of finished objects, right?  There’s nothing to say that someone won’t be receiving a nice scarf that I worked up in March, or a pair of socks from January.  I’ve got people in mind for a bunch of my finished projects, and I’m sure they’ll be excited to get them.  And, for people that aren’t getting anything knitted… well, that’s what shopping is for!

I’m just excited that I’m not going to have to worry about knitting my fingers to the bone, racing the clock (and Santa) to get everything done before Christmas!

Do you have any big plans for your holiday/Christmas knitting?

An Ode to Cables

Oh, cables.  I love you so.

It seems that virtually every design I’ve been working on lately is just packet to the brim with cables.  Big cables, little cables, simple cables, compound cables.  Cables going down sleeves, cables running up the fronts of sweaters.  Wide cables, narrow cables, and ones in-between.I’ve made cables with extra-fine sock yarn, and massively bulky yarn.  In soft cashmere and utilitarian wool.Cables occupy that perfect space in-between cozy/casual and fancy/embellished.  They’re sporty, yet warm.  Comfy, but classy.  They can be dressed up or dressed down (or, if it’s possible) dressed side to side.I don’t just love the finished products, either.  There’s nothing more satisfying than breaking out my cable needle and carefully forming an intricate twist.  (Even when I mess up, it’s OK.  Figuring out how the cable goes back together is half the fun!)Do you have a particular favorite technique?  Or, do you agree with me that cables are the best?

Warning!

I know I just made a post on Friday about how great it is that fall is finally here, but I’ve got bad news for you guys.

It’s officially 3 months until Christmas.  Start panicking.It doesn’t seem right that it’s so close, but I’ve checked and re-checked the calendar.  And, well, it’s 3 months away.

So, if you’re planning on doing any Christmas Knitting, now’s the time to get cracking.  (And I’d better increase my production of Christmas Balls if I’m going to have that red-and-white tree I was hoping for.)

(Also, if you’re making Mary Berry’s Christmas Cake, now’s also the time to start collecting your ingredients.  I’m having the darndedst time finding mixed peel this year.  I wonder if Whole Foods has it stocked already?)

The Island of Forgotten Projects

I’m proud of my little stash of finished projects.  It’s satisfying to see them all folded neatly, ready to be gifted at the next holiday.

But, I have a second stash.  A secret stash.  A shameful stash. A stash that lives in the bookcase next to my desk (I started keeping everything there in the hopes that having to look at it every day would spur myself into doing something to take care of it…  It has not worked yet).

It’s my stash of unfinished projects.

I’m not even going to show you everything, because it’s that embarrassing.

There are several pairs of socks- I decided halfway down the brown sock’s cuff that I didn’t love knitting the pattern.  (I actually really like how the pattern’s turning out, it’s just a pain in the butt to do), and the black/pink socks were being knit at an insanely tight gauge… I don’t know why I decided to start a pair of socks on 0’s!  I never knit with anything smaller than 2s! Not my smartest moment.

Then there’s the box overflowing with my Mama Bears.  Which are in turn overflowing with stuffing because I realized that I don’t have any of the right colors of yarn to finish sewing them up!  (I’ll probably just use some other scraps I have laying around, but there’s a part of my brain that thinks that if I just let the bears hang out in the corner for a little longer, they’ll magically grow extra yarn.  Yeah… that’s how that works.)There are even some projects that are so old, I’m pretty sure I started them before I moved to the new house… almost four years ago.  This scarf, for instance.  I started it as a way to use some pretty fun-fetti-colored yarn I spun.  But, then I decided the scarf was turning out too narrow.  So now it lives in a project bag on a shelf among the other half-forgotten projects.Look!  I even stole the needles from this project… that’s how little confidence I had in myself to finish this project.  Sigh…I know I’m not the only one with a shameful WIP stash.  Make me feel better!  Tell me what you’re totally going to finish… (some day)

A Treasury of Awesome

When I’m coming up with a new design, sometimes an idea pops wholesale into my brain. Sometimes I get a small idea that grows slowly over time.  And sometimes… it’s like pulling teeth.

When I get stuck like that, there’s nothing better than pulling out my stitch treasuries for a little dose of inspiration.

I’ve got two books that are my particular favorites, and I’d like to share them with you.

First, I love Barbara Walker’s classic “Treasury of Knitting Patterns” collection.  I got the first three books for Christmas  couple years ago, and I use them all the time.  Sometimes I’m looking for an idea for a nice all-over pattern, sometimes I need a particularly complex cable that I can’t figure out on my own.  And sometime I just want to look at all the pretty knitting.

Unfortunately, these books are fairly old (the first one was originally published in the 60s), so some of the designs aren’t explained as clearly as I would like.  And, almost all the designs are written out (except book 3, which is all about charted patterns), which drive me up the wall!

But, despite these small problems, I can’t recommend these books highly enough.  If you haven’t taken a look at them already, swing by your library and pick one (or four) up.  You’re sure to be inspired.

A Treasury of Knitting Patterns by Barbara WalkerMy other favorite knitting pattern treasury is a little different.  Most noticibly, it doesn’t contain any English!

I found this treasury in the book section of my local Asian grocery store (Uwajimaya… If you ever visit Seattle, stop by, because it’s absolutely amazing).  I was looking at Japanese craft books, because there’s something crazy soothing about the Japanese Craft Book aesthetic (when I look at them, I suddenly think that wearing beige smocks and headbands decorated with pompom critters seems like a really good idea).

Anyway, I found this book, and it’s densely packed from front to back with thickly-patterned knitting designs, some I’d never seen before. Crazy slipped stitches, wrapped stitches, and pompoms.  Delicate lace, thick squishy cables, and gorgeous patterns that defy categorization.

Of course, since it’s not written in English, it’s a little tough to parse the patterns at first, but if you go slowly, there are plenty of diagrams explaining each symbol.  And, since the book was published in the 80s, the color palette leans a little hard on the mauves and mustards.

But other than that, it’s the best! If you can find a copy at an Asian book store, definitely buy it (or just order it from Amazon).

Knitting Patterns 500 by Nihon Vogue ShaDo you have a favorite knitting reference book?