Category Archives: Inspiration

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?

Inspiration: Spring Showers

Seattle’s trying doggedly to turn the corner into spring over the last few weeks.  It’s been warming up (sorta), and we’ve even been having little spurts of sunny weather.  The daffodils are desperately trying to bloom, and the tulips are struggling to recover after the cold snap and snow we got a few weeks ago.  It’s just about time, too, since tomorrow is the first day of spring!  (At least according to the calendar.)

And, of course, since it’s Seattle, we’ve been having lots and lots (and lots) of spring rain.  We’ve had light drizzles, intermittent showers, and little drips.  It’s poured, we’ve lived with days of low, overcast skies, and steady drenching rain.  In other words- it’s real wet around here.

So let’s celebrate those spring showers (and hopefully the flowers that will soon follow) and look at some lovely, rainy knitting projects.

I really like how the open, drape-y front reminds me of water cascading down a mountain stream.  Plus (and this isn’t rain-related) the interesting short-row construction on the front of this sweater is super cool!

Chance of Showers by Heidi KirrmaierThis lovely lacey scarf is too cute!  The all-over lace pattern is beautiful, and reminds me of a cross between raindrops and snowdrops- perfect for this time of year!

April Showers Scarf by Purl SohoThis is another lovely spring-y cardigan.  I love a sweater with interesting details in unexpected places, and the gorgeous lace panel on the back of this cardigan is just to die for.  I could definitely see myself wearing a sweater like this some time this spring (OK, maybe a little later this spring, it’s still a little chilly).

Rocio by Joji LocatelliHow’s spring progressing in your neck of the woods?

Inspiration: I Wanna Hold Your Hand

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I hope you’re having a lovely one!  Maybe you’re eating some chocolate or sipping on a mimosa.  Or maybe you’ve treated yourself to some nice flowers, or, since you’re a knitter, you’re going to go splurge on a lovely new skein of yarn.  (That’s my kind of treat!)

Love may (or may not) be in the air, but it’s definitely in these adorable mittens.  I really like mittens- they’re like fancy socks for your hands. (And you know how much I like socks.) But, I just realized I haven’t made any mittens in a really long time- maybe in over a year.  Now, this could be because we don’t have a ton of use for mittens up here in Seattle (it never really gets cold enough to require them), but I still think I should make… no need to make some fancy new mittens.  And why not make some Valentine-y ones?

These chocolate-y mittens look crazy cozy, and I love the cute, oversized cable running up the back.  They look like they might be a little over-warm for Seattle, but I might be able to convince myself that I need to make them anyway.

Hot Chocolate Mittens by knittedblissJCNothing says “Valentine’s Day like roses, and these rose-themed mittens are just beautiful.   I especially love the tiny rose on the thumb!  And it’s been a while since I went all-in on fancy color work.

Ruffles and Roses by JennyPennyBut I think these mittens (mitts, really) are more my style.  You know I love a good rainbow, and mitts are more appropriate for Seattle weather, anyway.  Plus, Can you imagine a better excuse to splurge on all those mini skeins of brightly-colored yarn?

My Rainbow Heart by Stephanie LotvenAre you doing anything special for Valentine’s Day?  (And by “doing anything special,” I mean “knitting anything special.”)

Six More Weeks

When I was a kid, I was very convinced that the whole “Punxsutawney Phil” thing was very important.  That groundhog knew things.Now, of course, I realize it’s a little silly to get your weather forecast from a rodent, but there’s still a part of me that wants to rely on Phil’s prognostication.

And, since he saw his shadow this morning, that part of me wants to get ready for another 6 weeks of cold weather.

These cozy-looking mittens would be perfect for wearing during the extended winter.  Plus, they come in every size imaginable- perfect for the whole family!

The World’s Simplest Mittens by tincanknitsAnd these adorable hats look crazy cozy with their ear flaps and insulating garter stitch.  Plus, they have a tassel! Everyone loves tassels!

Garter Ear Flap Hat by Purl SohoAnd there’s nothing better on a cold winters’ night than snuggling up under a half-finished afghan with a cup of cocoa for an evening of crochet.

Neat Ripple by Lucky of Attic24Do you believe in Punxsutawney Phil’s predictive powers?  Or are you just using his premonitions as an excuse to start some new projects?

Inspiration: Tropical Chickens

Oof!  You guys!  I’m beat!  I had altogether too much fun last week.

I just got back from a week-long trip to Kaua’i with my family to celebrate my Mom’s birthday.  It was so much fun!  Swimming and snorkeling almost every day, delicious food, gorgeous scenery and getting to spend time with some of my favorite people.  It couldn’t have been better!

One of my favorite things about Kaua’i is… a little silly.  You’d think it was the natural splendor, or maybe the crystal-clear water.  But if I’m really being honest… it’s the chickens.Twenty or thirty years ago a bunch of local chickens escaped from their local chicken farms and managed to establish a breeding population.  Now, every inch of the island is covered in the most beautiful, colorful, shiny chickens. They’re like pigeons in the city, only pretty.  And not gross.  And kind of funny, because they’re chickens.

Let’s celebrate the Hawaiian chickens with some chicken-themed patterns.

I think the only thing cuter than an island chicken is a tiny, knit island chicken.

Tiny Chickens by Anna HrachovecThis hat is absolutely hilarious!  I love the crocheted mohawk (I’m sure there’s a more accurate word for this, but I’m coming up blank) and the cute little beak.

Rooster Hat by Shawn TorresAnd these mittens are just glorious!  The blue-and-white colorwork is gorgeous, and the chickens are so sassy and full of themselves.  Too bad it never gets cold enough to wear mittens in Hawaii!

Rooster Mittens by Natalia Moreva

What was your favorite part of your last vacation?

Inspiration: Is it just me, or is it cold out there?

It’s been dang cold here in Seattle lately.  (Yes, I know it’s January, when it’s supposed to be cold, but still.)  We even got a bunch of snow over Christmas!  It’s been in the 30s in the mornings!  I’ve been wearing my wool coat along with my big cabled sweaters!

(OK, I’m not really complaining- I love getting to wear extra-cozy sweaters and having an excuse to drink hot cocoa.)

But, it’s the time of year when people start working on their year-long temperature scarves and blankets.  Have you heard of this?  Every year I think “Great idea!  I’ll do that next year.”

The idea is that you start a simple project (usually a scarf or afghan, but I suppose you could do this with any project) on January 1st (or 10th, and then you play catch-up).  Every day you knit or crochet a single row or a single square (depending on your design), and then you repeat it every day through the entire year.  But the trick is that each row’s color is determined by the temperature outside that day.  So, if it was super cold, maybe you use a teal yarn.  But if today is in the 60s, you use lime green.  (Or whatever you decide your system is going to be.)

It’s a cute idea!  Simple, fun, and attractive to people like me who like starting long-term projects.

Some people have made cute ribbed scarves.

My Year in Temperatures Scarf by Kristen CooperAnd some people have made gorgeous afghans!

Temperature Gauge Afghan by Nancy StengelI don’t think I’ll be participating this time around, but maybe I’ll get my act together and make one next year.

Have you made any long-term projects like this?

Inspiration: Prince Philip’s Antarctic Sadness Sweater

Are you guys watching the new season of The Crown on Netflix? You know me, I’m a sucker for a costume drama- especially one about a royal family that wears a lot of fancy clothes (especially a lot of sweaters).

This season opens with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip (though I think he’s still “just” a duke at this point) in the midst of a big fight, like a if-we-weren’t-royalty-we’d-be-getting-a-divorce-right-now fight.  It turns out that Philip is being a big baby about having to play second fiddle to his wife who is literally the Queen of England.  Maybe this is just because I’m a dumb American living in 2017, but Philip’s whole argument is just a bunch of misogynistic whining in my ears.

Anyway, after the fight, there’s a big flashback where Philip goes off on a “tour of the colonies” (blech) that really turns out to be a big 5-month long bachelor party with all sorts of unsuspecting women in the south Pacific (double blech).  Near the end of his tour, his ship visits Antarctica, and he spends a lot of time brooding around the ship, being grumpy that his wife might know what he’s been up to.

While I don’t love Philip, I gotta say, I do love his Antarctican brooding sweater.It’s a crew-neck pullover with set-in sleeves worked in bulky navy blue with white accents.  It might even have been thrummed, but it’s hard to say.  I like the subtle naval stripes around the collar and cuffs, and the simple over-all pattern.I’d wear the heck out of that sweater.

Now, I couldn’t find a pattern that exactly matched Philip’s sweater, but you could easily modify a simple sweater pattern if you wanted to make your own.

This sweater has the same feel, if not the same design.  Its all-over rib and raglan shoulders really evoke an old-school sailor feel.  You could use a white-and-navy marled yarn for a similar look to Philip’s sweater.

Trent by Martin StoreyThis sweater would be a great starting point for making your own Philip sweater. It’s the right shape, and has the right shoulders and neckline.  If you worked the yoke in stockinette, and added in some stranded knitting to make the “snowflakes” on Philip’s sweater, you’d get pretty dang close.

Riley Pullover by Kristen HipskyIf you really wanted to embrace the whole “Antarctica” thing, you could even thrum your sweater (though that might be too much- I’ve never actually seen a thrummed sweater).  Thrumming adds an insane layer of warmth and thickness to garments, and is usually saved for accessories like these super-cozy mittens.

Thrummed Mittens by Jennifer L. ApplebyHave you been watching anything good lately?

Inspiration: Christmas Cookies

I mentioned on Wednesday that I’m getting ready to begin my yearly Epic Baking Adventure.  I’ve been doing my Epic Baking Adventure just about every year since college, with more or less Epicness depending on the year.  I usually make a half dozen (or more) types of cookies, give them out to friends, take them when I visit someone’s house, and (honestly) eat more of them than I should.

Every year, the menu varies slightly (usually by adding on an extra variety or two).  This year, I’m making sugar cookies (of course), chocolate crinkles, spritz, pfeffernusse (a must-do holiday tradition in my husband’s family), mocha meringues (if it doesn’t rain too much), and soft caramels.  And, maybe I’ll add on a cookie or two if I get done with those too quickly.  (We’re having a small Christmas this year, just the two of us, so I’m trying not to go too over the top.)

Let’s celebrate Christmas Cookies with some cookie-themed patterns:

This little guy is too cute!  I love the big red gumdrop buttons and the “piped” icing details.  I’m not actually a big fan of gingerbread cookies.  If I’m going to make gingerbread, I usually make a big old gingerbread cake and serve it with generous dollops of whipped cream.  Yum!

Christmas Gingerbread Boy by Teresa AlvarezI love that this designer made patterns for 5 different cookies.  I think the variety is really what makes Christmas cookies special.  When else do you get to make (and eat) dozens and dozens of different cookies without guilt?

Christmas Deco Cookies (Set of 5) by Eva PolaripopAnd how could you forget Santa?! The most fiendish of cookie fiends!  When we were kids, my brother and I would always leave out cookies and milk for Santa (even though we didn’t super believe in him, it was better to be sure… just in case).  I love these cookies- you could totally use them as super-cute coasters this winter.

Santa’s Cookies by Jessica SpencerI can’t wait to get baking this year!

What cookies are tradition in your house?

 

Inspiration: The Final Countdown

Cue the 80’s glam metal, because it’s time to start counting down (almost).

December’s right around the corner and that means it’s time to break out the advent calendars!

I love a good advent calendar.  It’s the best combination of waiting (which I am very bad at.  I get very impatient), and opening presents early (which I enjoy doing quite a lot).  The past few years, I put together a beer advent calendar for my husband, where he got a new bottle of fancy holiday beer every day.  Last year, he made me a yarn advent calendar, where I got a new mini-skein of yarn every day.  It was the best!

When I was little, we had advent calendars, too.  My brother and I each had our own tiny fake tree, and we picked out small ornaments for each day. By the end of the month, we barely had a square-inch of tree visible beneath all the ornaments.  I still have a bunch of the advent calendar ornaments, though my little tree has gotten lost along the way (though, maybe it’s at my folks’ house… I should check the next time I visit).

It might be a little late in the year to put together an advent calendar, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try!

I like this one because it includes a very cute little tree!

Christmas Tree Advent Calendar #294 by ShiFio’s PatternsThis one looks even simpler- maybe you could get it knit up by the end of the weekend, if you really put your mind to it? I particularly love the teeny tiny balls!

Advent Tree Wall Hanging by Roxanna JuneBut if you felt like getting really fancy, I kind of love this garland!  I like that each day is a totally unique ornament, and I love that they hang from all those little buttons.  If I had a million hours of free time, you’d better bet that I’d be all over this project!

Advent Garland by Frankie BrownDo you have an advent calendar tradition in your family?