Category Archives: Inspiration

Sheep in a Jeep!

As a stay at home parent, I spend a lot of my day reading kids books.  And, since my kid’s one and a half, and getting into the “Again! Again!” phase, I’ve been reading the same books over and over again.  Sometimes it’s an absolute chore (I’m looking at you, Follow that Truck!), but sometimes it’s great.  Especially when the book has a nice story, fun rhymes and detailed pictures.  Enter: Sheep in a Jeep by Nancy  Shaw.IMG_1973.JPGIt’s a delightful book about sheep who are remarkably bad at driving.  In 26 pages, they manage to 1. stall out their Jeep on the top of a hill,  2. get their Jeep stuck in a mud puddle, and 3. crash their Jeep against a tree.  It’s all very dramatic.

Anyway, on read-through 1,325, I noticed that one of the sheep has a knitting bag with her, and it goes flying when the car crashes.  She’s got 5 colors of yarn, and a half-finished… something.  Maybe it’s the beginning of a sweater or a scarf, or maybe it’s just a swatch.  Either way, it was super cute colorwork.  IMG_1977I noticed reddish ribbing on the bottom, then a row of… maybe blue and white circles, before a row of white triangles and red circles… and maybe some green on top with black dots? It wasn’t too clear, but I had a little time in my knitting schedule and some of the kid’s crayons to try to chart it out, so away I went.IMG_1981But halfway, through, I realized the red, white and green shapes weren’t just shapes… they were turnips!  (Or maybe radishes? It’s hard to tell the difference.)

I went back through the book to see if I could find another picture of the knitting.  And, wouldn’t you believe it- right on the back, clear as day, there was another view.  And now that I know they’re radishes, I can’t not see them.  Obviously- a row of radishes and a row of green dots.  How didn’t I see it before?IMG_1980Now that I was this far, I had to keep going- And another swatch later, I’ve got a very cute little radish design.  I’d change the colors so the contrast is there, but it’s a good start.IMG_1985Now I’ve just got to decide what to use this for.  Right now, I’m thinking a little pullover for the kiddo.  Maybe with a light blue background “above ground” and a nice chocolate brown heather for the dirt.  I think I might stagger the dots and the radishes,  and the leaves still need a little work, but I like where it’s going.

This whole Sheep in a Jeep project is getting a little out of hand (but maybe that’s fitting, considering the source material…).

Where’s the weirdest place you’ve gotten knitting inspiration from?

A New Season, a New Sweater and a New Silhouette

I am *this* close to finishing my brother’s wedding blanket (and only about a month late… so not too bad), which means it’s time for me to start planning my next project.

Here’s what I’m thinking:

  1. I want to make something for myself.  Just about all my knitting for the last year or so has been for work, or for someone else (mostly the kid, so I can’t complain too much).  And, while I like knitting for other people, I feel like it’s time for me to do a little selfish knitting.
  2. I think I want a new sweater.  And not just the same plain pullover I’ve made myself thirty-seven times.  I love a nice plain pullover, but I’m feeling an itch to try something new. Right now I’m thinking about doing some color-work.
  3. I don’t want to design it.  I want to follow someone else’s pattern.  I don’t want to figure out charts or do a whole bunch of math.  I just want to sit down with a tried-and-true pattern and just go to town. I might not even make a swatch. (I know… heresy.)
  4. I want this sweater to be a little trendier and girlier than I usually go.  My usual style is basic, almost unisex, straight-ahead.  I want to do something a little more interesting and fashionable.
  5. And, if this pattern could take less than thirteen years, that would be appreciated.

So, after a long troll through Ravelry, I’ve come up with some ideas, and I need your input to decide what to do. (Though, fair warning, I might decide to do a completely different project and come back here next week with a half-knitted squid or something).

I think I like the idea of making a sweater with a cropped-yet-oversized silhouette.  It seems like it would be flattering.  Or maybe not?  I’m not sure.  It’s very different from what I usually wear, but maybe that’s the point?

This sweater could be knit with long sleeves or without, to make a sleeveless summer sweater.  But maybe it’s too simple?  Other than the silhouette, it’s not that different from my usual knits.  Lots and lots of stockinette.

Aqua by Trin-Annelieaqua_015.jpg

This sweater has a very similar shape- real boxy and simple, but I like the ribbing detail across the shoulder and the color-work at the bottom.

Navelli by Caitlin HunterProcessed with VSCO with fs4 preset

Speaking of color-work, I’ve been ogling everyone’s Soldotnas.  And I do mean everyone,  there have been more than 2000 of them added to Ravelry.  I really like the color-work yoke (and I do like a yoked sweater), but for some reason the combination of the yoke and the cropped length seems a little less flattering to me than the boxier dropped-shoulder sweaters. But maybe I’m just crazy?

Soldotna Crop by Caitlin HunterProcessed with VSCO with fp1 preset

Or, I could just go along with the cool kids and make myself a Shifty.  I love the color-work/mosaic-knit fabric, and I have an idea for what yarn I’d substitute. (Spincycle is lovely, but I don’t want my sweater to cost three thousand dollars.) I just wonder if this sweater is a little too close to my usual sweater, if I’m trying to make something new.

Shifty by Andrea MowryIMG_1227_medium2

I guess I’ll just have to keep thinking as I finish up the last few rows of that dang wedding blanket.

And no matter what I pick, I guess I’m going to have to get myself some high-waisted jeans or a couple linen dresses to go with my new cropped sweater.

Which sweater do you like best?

Wedding Bells!

My brother got married yesterday!

(OK, full disclosure, he gets married next Sunday as I write this, but yesterday as it’s published.  I didn’t think that writing a blog post mid-ceremony was a great way of being a wedding guest.)

I’m sure it was an amazing party and a beautiful ceremony.  I’m sure the kiddo only ruined it a little bit.

I’m so excited to see my new sister-in-law and meet her extended family.  I’m so glad she’s joining our family and look forward to having her join us on all our reunions and holidays over the years.  She’s a delight!

And, yes, before you ask, the blanket is still unfinished.  Don’t worry, y’all will be the first to see it when it’s done.  (Don’t judge.)

Anyway, let’s celebrate love! And marriage! And my brother and his WIFE! (That sounds weird, but I like it.)  You know how we celebrate around here- by looking at knitting patterns that we’ll never have time to actually work up.

Though, if time is an issue, I could always just make this teeny little pair.

Tiny Bride and Groom by Anna Hrachovectinybridegroom_medium2

But it’s a wedding!  A time of celebration! Excess! Exuberant over-reaching!  I gotta make a whole cake!

Wedding Cake by Alan Dart3421661182_b

Or, I could just go totally twee and adorable, and knit up some super cute little critters. (I mean, really.  Look at those tiny little flowers!!)

Wedding Mice by Amanda Berry

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Congrats to my brother! And welcome to the family, Sister-in-Law!  We’re so excited to have you!

Are you going to any weddings this summer?

Summer Knitting

I don’t know what the weather’s like by you guys, but here in Seattle, it’s getting frustrating.  It’s 70 and sunny for a day or two, a week at most, just long enough for me to start getting used to the summeryness of it all and pull out my shorts, then, bam!  Back to 50 and rainy for two weeks.

It’s ridiculous, but it’s making my fingers itch to work on something light and fun.  (I also might be itching to start a new project because I’m still working on the BLANKET THAT NEVER ENDS.  I just timed myself and it takes me about 20 minutes to knit a row.  I haven’t had the heart to figure out how many rows I’ve knit/how many I have left to knit.  Talk about a labor of love.)

Even though I’ve never been a fan of warm-weather knits (I mean, really, if you’re going to wear a sweater, just wear a sweater.  You don’t need a wooly tank top.  Honestly.), I’ve been dreaming of a lightweight, knitted tee. (I know, who am I?)

This is the one that got me started.  It’s just gorgeous.  That lace, the flattering shape.  I mean come on.  There’s one knit in a beautiful slubby silk on display at my LYS, and I’m tempted to walk off with it every time I visit.  (Though, who am I kidding, I’d be too nervous to wear a silk hand-knit tee.)

Tegna by Caitlin HunterProcessed with VSCO with m3 preset

And this cute little tee is all sleek and streamlined, with classy little details, like everything from Purl Soho.

Lovely Lightweight Tee by Purl Soholovely-lightweight-tee-600-2-1_medium2

I love the stripes on this guy, the saddle(ish) shoulders, and the flattering silhouette.  I really think I could wear this on the regular.

At the Seaside (Not Only in the Summer) by Fraulein Stadtisch

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Have your knitting plans turned to warmer-weather projects?  What do you like to work on when the temperatures go up?

Burnout (or how I learned to stop worrying and just procrastinate more)

Y’all.  Sometimes being a “professional knitter” is hard.  (Disclaimer: I know that as far as “hard jobs” go, Professional Knitter is pretty low on that list.  Just bear with me as I throw myself a little pity party.  I promise I’ll be back to myself soon.)  Sure it’s not “I’m a doctor and I hold people’s lives in my hands” hard, or “I’m a cop and I put my own life on the line to keep people safe” hard, or even “I’m a construction worker and am constantly doing backbreaking labor” hard.

I think that anyone who takes their absolute favorite hobby and tries to turn it into a real job will understand what I’m saying.  No matter how delightful your job is day-to-day, there’s always something super practical and kind of crappy that you have to deal with.  There are deadlines, paperwork, and (sometimes rude) customers, and (if you’re me) having to deal with the fallout when I say “yes” to one too many projects.  And when your job is also your hobby, you can’t be really go do your hobby to decompress.

Lately I’ve been less than in love with my knitting.  I’ve been designing and writing up two sweaters, which will be lovely when they’re done, but I’m beyond done with knitting them right now.  I even put down one of the prototypes mid-knitting, which I never do- I do my very best to be diligent with my design process.  But, I just can’t make myself pick it up again right now.

And instead of the sweaters I  should be working on, I’ve been plugging away at the wedding blanket for my brother.  It’s turning out wonderfully, but I’m realizing that I greatly miscalculated both the amount of yarn that I’m going to need for it and the amount of time that it’ll take to work up.  So, maybe this will end up being a First Anniversary blanket instead of a Wedding Blanket. Sigh…

Anyway, all of that is to say that I’m itching for a fun, simple, and above all quick project.  Something that I can bang out in an evening or during the kid’s nap time.  Something that doesn’t have a deadline or even a purpose.

Maybe something like a pile of soft knitted balls.  Why? Why not!  For anyone in particular? Maybe my kid! Maybe my dog! What yarn should I use? I donno! Whatever I have laying around!

Knit Ball Pit by Anna HrachovecIMG_7316_medium2

Or I could make a little tiny doll for my kiddo!  Does he like dolls?  No! Has he ever shown any interest in any stuffed animal? No! Are these guys too cute for me to really care? Yes!

Pretty Izzy Dolls by Esther Braithwaiteprettypinkizzydolls_medium2

Would he like them better if they were little animals instead of little people? Doubtful!  Do I find these guys even more charming? Yes!

Forest Friends Dolls by Esther BraithwaiteIMG_6929_medium2

Should I really lean into  the whole “making something for absolutely no reason except it makes me smile” thing?  Yes! Do I actually care about cats? Not particularly! Is this cat stinking adorable? Yes!

Tiny Parlor Cat by Sara Elizabeth KellnerIMG_3331__2__medium2

Don’t get me wrong, every day I’m surprised and pleased and grateful that I can say that for my job, I’m a Knitter.  It’s just one of those weeks that I’m sure everyone gets.  I’m going to go make myself another cup of coffee, dig out some scrap yarn and work up a silly little project or two.  And, once that’s done, I’m sure I’ll be back to making ridiculously gigantic projects at ridiculously tiny gauges.  Because, after all, that’s what I do.

Do you ever get burnt out on knitting? What do you do when the burnout hits?

Tradition! (Tradition!)

I’ve got Fiddler on the Roof stuck in my head and fingers itching to start my next project.  We knitters are nothing if not creatures of tradition (or, if you’re being uncharitable, habit).  Everyone has a story of their mother/grandmother/cool next-door neighbor who taught them to knit.  And everyone has a traditional project that they keep making over and over again.  (Mrs. Weasley’s famous Christmas sweaters spring to mind.)

For Christmas, I make socks (sometimes).

For new babies, I make sweaters.

For weddings, I make blankets.

I started this tradition back in college, when my friends started getting married.  I’ve done fancy blankets and simple blankets.  I’ve crocheted and knitted.  I’ve made them with cotton and acrylic and wool (depending on the weather in the recipient’s hometown and just how broke of a college student I was at the time).

It’s been a while since I’ve been to a wedding- now that I’m in my thirties, my friends are more or less done getting married and starting to have kids (which means I’m knitting baby sweaters instead, which is a heck of a lot easier).

But, I’ve got to get my blanket-knitting muscles going once again because my brother is getting married this summer! It’s very exciting!

Now I’ve just got to pick the right pattern.

My first instinct is to try something super-simple, and bang out a blanket as quickly as possible (after all, my knitting time is severely limited these days).

Garter Squish by Stephen West

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But, it’s for my brother!  My only sibling!  On his wedding!  It’s gotta be nicer than a regular old garter square.

I could break out a fancy pattern.  Maybe something lacy and textured like this:

Sweet Pea Baby Blanket by Suzanne MiddlebrooksSweetPea1_medium2

While that’s really pretty, I don’t know… it might be a bit too twee, even if I use a nice masculine color. Plus, that looks incredibly time-consuming.

I could go somewhere in-between, a simple 2-row texture, heavy on the garter stitch.  This chevron pattern could work, but I’d have to play with the colors- my brother’s not really a “rainbow” person.

Garter Chevron Blanket by Catherine AndersonIMG_0824_medium2

I’ll keep looking. I’m sure I’ll find something that’s casual enough for my brother and soon-to-be-sister-in-law (that’s a lot of hyphens!) to use every day, but nice enough (and maybe heirloom enough) for a wedding gift.

What are your traditional knitting projects?

T’was the week before Christmas

If you’re still knitting gifts for Christmas, good on you.  But I’m afraid that I have some unwelcome news.

You have just about a week before Christmas is officially here.

I’ve got faith in you that you can make it- you’re a knitter, after all, and knitters Get. It. Done.

But, if you’re a knitter who has to make a lot of gifts in a short amount of time, well, might I recommend one (or two… they’re small) of these little patterns.  They all take less than 50 yards of yarn, which means they should work up pretty quickly.

Plus, they’re totally cute!

I love these tiny, adorable long-johns (complete with butt-flap).  They look a little bit fiddly, but, man, they’re cute.  They’d make a really sweet little Christmas ornament (especially if you bent a bit of wire into a teeny-tiny hanger).

Little Long Johns by Susan B. Anderson
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If your recipient is more of a “classy Christmas” type of person and less of a “butt-flaps are funny” type of person, I think these little wreaths are just darling. (Ugh… they’re so fancy that they turned me into a person who says things are “just darling.”  That’s real fancy.)

Holiday Wreath Ornament by The Big String
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And these little guys are just straight-up cute.  They’re somewhere between Dr. Seuss and the kind of window displays you might see at a really nice department store in New York.  I kind of want a tree covered in trees.  How cute would that be?

Wee Three Trees, by Tricia GilbertOtober_Still_Life111052_medium2

If you’re still working on your Christmas knitting, good luck!  You’ve got this!  If you’re done (or just not bothering, like me), congratulations!  Sit back and have a cup of hot cocoa.

Are you making any gifts this year?

The Scintillating Sweaters of Sabrina

I know, I know, I’m a little late to the party.  Everyone was talking about the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina when it dropped around Halloween.  I rarely stay up past 9:30 these days, and my TV-watching time has been drastically reduced, so I only just finished watching the 10-episode season.

I remember watching the original Sabrina the Teenage Witch when I was a kid (if the weather cooperated enough that we got got a decent signal… aaah the days of antenna TV), but I honestly don’t remember a ton of specifics.  I know I liked it, and thought that Sabrina was a super cool teenager.  And, of course I loved Salem the talking cat.  What middle-schooler wouldn’t like a show about a very cool teenage witch with a talking cat?

Unfortunately this new version of Sabrina doesn’t have any talking cat in it.  (Salem does show up, but he’s not in the show much, and he never talks- bummer.)  But, the show is fun, dark, and campy, perfect for watching late at night (or at 7:30, if you’re me) on a blustery November evening.

But the best part?  (Or my favorite part, anyway.) The sweaters.

The show is set in an unspecific east-coast state where it’s always about 40 degrees and there’s a little bit of drizzle- enough for a nice pea coat or a few layers of flannel, but not enough to break out the real winter coats and rain gear.

In other words, perfect sweater weather.  And Sabrina takes full advantage.

She wears fluffy angora turtlenecks that she somehow manages to make look chic.

Break out Sabrina2

You could break out some fluffy wool and make your own version with this pattern (plus long sleeves, of course).

Willow Creek by Justyna Lorkowska

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She rocks the dumbest of sweaters (in my book, anyway)- the cabled turtleneck t-shirt, and makes me want to make one. (Honestly, what’s the point?)Sabrina

It might be dumb, but this sweater is kinda cute…

01 Cabled Tank by Debbie Bliss

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And she even makes this bizarre-o button-bedecked cable number look like something that a very hip teen would actually wear.  (Or maybe teens are actually wearing this stuff and I’m just an old lady who has no idea what the teens are doing these days.)Sabrina3

Knit up this bad boy, and sew on a gross of color-coordinating buttons in-between the cables, and you’ll have something resembling Sabrina’s fun pullover.

Carrick by Martin Storey

Carrick_medium2

Whatever your thoughts on her sweaters, it’s worth your time to go check out Ms. Spellman and her Chilling Adventures.  (Just be aware that if you’re expecting the OG Sabrina, you’re going to be disappointed… that’s really not what this is.)

Have you watched the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina yet?  What was your favorite sweater?

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?

Inspiration: GBBO

Other than knitting, I think my favorite hobby is baking.  I love making cakes and cookies, pies and buns.  The more complicated the better.  Last year I even made a dozen mini fruitcakes for my family for Christmas.  It involved a lot of baking, about 5 pounds of dried fruit and a whole bottle of brandy.  I even had a cookie baking blog back in the day.  I definitely love baking.

So naturally, one of my favorite shows is the Great British Bake Show (or Great British Bake Off, if you’re outside of the USA).  The contestants are all so talented!  I had been baking up a storm (pre-baby and pre-middle-of-summer-without-air-conditioning), making Victoria Sandwiches, Tea Cakes, and Swiss Rolls.  My husband has been working to perfect his Kouign Amann technique (which I’m happy to help him test).

And this season (Season 5 if you go by PBS, Season 3 if you go by the original BBC order), there’s something that makes Bake Show even better! That’s right… you guessed it…Sweaters!

Precisely, sweaters worn by one particular contestant and resident of the Shetland Isles, James!Every week he rolls up to the tent with yet another gorgeous Fair Isle sweater, vest, or cardigan.  I look forward to his knitwear almost more than the baking!

And in the spirit of James, let’s look at some amazing, full-on Fair Isle vests!

I love the neutral palette of this sweater, and the classic shape.  I could totally see wearing this to go compete in the tent!

Edward by Rita TaylorThis one is a little more modern, a little brighter, and a little more my style.  I like the slimmer cut and bright color choices.

#03 V-nek vest by Yoko HattaBut, I think this one is my favorite!  I love the interesting edging- no plain ribbing here! Plus, the Fair Isle pattern is crazy complex and absolutely gorgeous!  (Not that I’d ever have the patience to knit this guy up!)

Fair Isle Vest WG 54 (aka April in Wisconsin aka Traditions) by Meg SwansenDo you watch GBBO?  What’s your favorite baked good?