Category Archives: On My Needles

A Sweater-ish Cowl

I’ve gone through phases as a knitter. There was a while when I started knitting that I almost exclusively knit mittens. Then it was stuffed animals. Then socks. And lace shawls (for some reason…). Lately (as in the last few years), it’s been sweaters.

I love making sweaters. I’ve probably made a couple dozen over the last few years (more, if you include baby/kid sweaters). I find sweaters to be just the most satisfying project. I love everything about them, from designing them to adding details to picking yarn to thinking about the practicalities of their construction. I love knitting sweaters that are my own designs, and I love knitting sweaters other people have designed.

However, two factors are getting in the way of my sweater-dreams these days.

  1. Covid means I haven’t been to a yarn store in 8 months. I’ve been slowly draining my stash of any sweater-quantitates of yarn. Sure, I could probably cobble together a sweater’s worth of sock yarn or something, but… that sounds difficult. And annoying.
  2. As I write this (in late October), I’m less than a month away from the birth of my second kid. Which, needless to say, will cut into my knitting time.

So that means I’m making a point of knitting non-sweater projects.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t dream, does it?

This is one of my favorite men’s sweaters to make (and wear). It’s a super easy, FREE, cabled, comfy, pieced sweater. I’ve knit it twice- once for my husband and once for my father-in-law. I have since more-or-less adopted my husband’s sweater since apparently it’s “too warm for Seattle” for him. It’s the perfect “I’m having a day and just need to be comfy” sweater.

I kind of want to knit another one.

But instead, I’m going to hold myself back and use up the skein-and-a-half of Knit Picks’ Twill I have in my stash drawer to make a nice, cozy Ben Cowl. (I had hoped the gray-blue would have been enough, but it’s not quite as tall as I wanted. Luckily the burgundy looks nice enough with the blue, so we’re going to pretend it was supposed to be color-blocked.)

What other small projects should I work on? Do you have any favorite one-skein patterns?

So many stripes- so few ends

Y’all. I couldn’t be more pleased with how my self-striping socks turned out. They’re totally cute, totally functional, and totally done, with only a couple weeks’ work and the bare minimum of ends!

You know how I feel about ends (anti), and how I feel about stripes (pro), so these self-striping socks are just about perfect for me- the best of both worlds. I love how the little addition of slipped stitches gave the socks just a smidge more character than regular-old vanilla socks, and I’m beyond happy with how evenly the stripes worked out.

For some reason, I never really trust self-striping yarn to give me evenly matched stripes for both feet. It’s probably some weird deep-seated trust issues or something, but I always assume that self-striping socks will turn out as fraternal twins at best. But, look at these guys! They’re just about perfect!

Such a satisfying little knit!

What’s your most recent satisfying project?

Coming out of hibernation

I haven’t been inside a yarn store since March. Which is a bummer. There’s nothing I’d like to do more than take a good wander and browse through a bunch of fancy yarn that I would never know what to do with. Online shopping just isn’t the same. (Which is wild. If, six months ago, you asked me what my least-favorite thing to do was, I would have said root canal, followed closely by shopping. Oh how times have changed.)

Instead of acquiring more yarn for new projects, I’ve been slowly working through my stash. It’s been kind of fun- a challenge to myself to see what yarn I’ve had hiding away for “someday.” I don’t think I have a particularly extensive stash (I’m not one to buy sweater-quantities of yarn without a plan), but but I’ve been surprised to see what I have found lurking around at the back of drawers and the bottoms of bins. And it’s been a good excuse to force myself to finish up projects that I had hiding in the back of my closet for “someday.” My quilt from the 2000s is done (ish). And I found this amazing half-finished scrappy project(OK, it’s not half-finished… it’s probably barely a quarter-finished, but still): a crazy scrappy crocheted afghan!

According to my Ravelry, I started in 2013. I remember digging out all the worsted-weight leftovers I had in my stash (and I mean all. There’s definitely some Red Heart, a little fancy-pants alpaca, and everything in-between) and made probably several thousand little round yoyos.

Then I crocheted around the yoyos, adding a round of white to turn the yoyos into squares. Each square is maybe an inch-and-a-half across… they’re very small.

Then I started sewing them together.

Then I got bored.

Well, I’ve got nothing but downtime this year (thanks Covid!), so I’ve dug this project out and have slowly started making progress again. It’s approaching baby-blanket size, but I’m nowhere near finishing off all the yoyos. If I had infinite time and patience, I’d keep going until all the yoyos were used up. But, I don’t, so this might just end up being a small blanket.

Or maybe I’ll get bored and throw it back in the closet for another 7 years!

Have you ever actually finished a long-stashed project?

A little Christmas Cheer

It’s early, as I write this from the past (ooohh!), but it’s never too early to be thinking about Christmas. Especially if you’ve got plans to knit for Christmas. And boy, howdy, do I have plans.

Well, plan.

Just one. I’ve given up knitting Christmas gifts, because… well… it’s a lot of work, it’s stressful, and I just don’t wanna. Sure, I might make a pair of Christmas socks or a particularly special Christmas sweater from time to time, but I’m not doing the whole “everyone on my list gets a pair of mittens” thing this year. (And not just because we have a new member of the family this year.)

But I love a tradition, and one tradition we have is hanging stockings by the fireplace. We haven’t really filled them ever, but I love how they look, just as decorations, and I kind of love making them.

Plus, since our older kid and our dog both have stockings, it would probably be unfair if the baby was stocking-less.

So, I’ve dug the stockings out of storage, and re-ordered more Cascade 220 (thank goodness I actually kept the yarn tags from the last time I made a stocking, or I wouldn’t have had any idea about what shades of green and red to buy), and set to work knitting up a stocking for the little one.

Of course, I never took decent notes or wrote up an actual pattern, so I’m kind of guessing/using an old stocking as a general template. It’s simple enough for the leg of the stocking, but we’ll just have to see how it turns out… I really don’t remember how I did the heel…

And, while you read this, the baby will probably be born already (if there’s any justice in the world, anyway… I’m still a month+ out from my due date as I type this, and let’s just say, I’m ready to move on to the next phase of this thing), and should have a name. But, for now, I’m leaving the name blank, and will go in later with a little red yarn and duplicate-stitch in the letters.

It’s going to be so weird having 5 stockings hung up this year! (Assuming I can figure out the heel turn on this thing…)

Have you ever tried to re-create a project years after you made the first version? How did it go?

Big ‘n’ Little

It’s true. I think I might be that mom (or at least I want to be that mom). The one who gets matching clothes for both kids. Because I can’t get over how cute these two sweaters are.

(OK, honesty time. I’m actually that mom that hasn’t gotten her kid to wear actual clothes in over a week. PJs at night, and sometimes during the day, sure, but mostly he just parties around the house in a diaper. If we leave the house, he has to wear clothes, but these days, is anyone actually leaving the house?)

(Further honesty time. I haven’t even gotten the kid to try on his sweater. I assume it’ll be worn at some time. Right now, I’m just enjoying the idea that he has a new sweater that he will be wear at some point. Hopefully before he grows out of it.)

Anyway. I love the “fraternal twin” vibe these sweaters have. Essentially the same, but just different enough.

Plus, they’re cute, even if they’ll never be worn at the same time.

If the kid ever deigns to wear his sweater, I’ll be sure to share a picture. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

I’m sure the baby will wear his- after all, he won’t be able to fight back as well as the two-year-old. Yet…

Have you ever made a project that you half-knew would never be worn?

Another one!

I enjoyed making my kid’s striped sweater so much, that I’ve decided to keep going.

(Or, if you’re feeling less charitable, I’m having some real designer’s block, and can’t think of what else to make.)

But either way, I’ve decided to keep going, and make a newborn-sized version of the same striped sweater. I’ve still got a good chunk of Hawthorne, and I know how I made the big one, so I can crank out a bitty one pretty easily.

So I’m cruising through, I’m about halfway through the belly, and already thinking about the arms. It’s crazy how small this one feels after the 3-year-old-sized one. It’s going so fast!

Anyway, that’s how I ended up being that mom, who makes matching clothes for her kids. Sorry, kids.

Do you ever make favorite patterns in different sizes?

Yikes! Stripes!

Why I love making sweaters for my kid:

  1. They’re super cute.
  2. They go super fast (at least compared to a grown-up sweater).
  3. I usually have just enough yarn just hanging out in my stash to make something fun.
  4. The dang kid grows so fast, I don’t really have to worry about sizing (as long as I make the sweater big enough). He’ll grow into it in about fifteen minutes.
  5. Makes me feel like some sort of Type-A-Martha-Stewart-Ma-Ingles impressive mom who’s got it all squared away.

Why I don’t love making sweaters for my kid:

  1. The dang kid refuses to wear them.

I mean, he’ll wear them sometimes, if it’s cold enough. But currently, Seattle is not cold enough in his opinion. (He runs hot like his dad. I’ve been wearing sweaters since August.) Also, with being in quarantine for the last… several months, I’ve been a little lax about the whole “getting dressed in actual clothes” thing. Most days he spends in last night’s footie PJs, or just running around in a diaper. I can’t really blame him. I currently have my “Day PJs” and my “Night PJs,” so I’m not doing much better.

Anyway, all that is to say: I finished his Striped Pullover. It’s super cute. It’s gigantic. And he probably will refuse to wear it until mid-December. So, here’s a picture of it, nicely blocked and laying out on the floor. (Not pictured is my kid, just out of frame, spreading LEGOs all over the living room.)

I love how the stripes turned out, and how all the disparate colors ended up blending pretty seamlessly (though, part of that is the poor color balance on the photo. The green stripes are much more green and the red stripes are much more red in person.) And, as far as I can tell, it’s going to fit the kid. (I managed to get the collar over his head, just to check if my bind off was too tight for his giant noggin. It’s not.)

Though, compared to his current favorite outerwear, it’s massive. I’m just going to say it’s “oversized,” “cozy,” and “he’s going to grow into it”.

Maybe by the time he’s ready to wear real clothes again, he’ll fit into it properly.

Do you ever knit for kids?

Two by two, stripes of blue

I’m cruising through my kid’s Leftovers Sweater, and I gotta say, I love it!

It’s the perfect amount of mindless knitting- just switching between main and contrast colors every two rows, then breaking the contrast color after every fifth stripe. Couldn’t be simpler, or more striking. I think it might just be the perfect pattern for a little kid sweater!

And, I’m really digging the blue in-between each contrast stripe. I think it will make the whole color scheme more cohesive. (Which is a feat, when pulling together 6 (I think) random colors leftover from several years’ worth of projects.)

Plus, my favorite thing about 2×2 stripes in the round- it looks like you’re going to have a million and a half ends to weave in, but you don’t! I just carry the unused yarn up the inside of the sweater, and you only have to weave in ends when you break to change color. Easy! (I’d probably use this trick to carry over 3 or 4 rows, but maybe not more than that- the floats start to get a little long and start pulling funny if you do wider stripes.)

Now, am I still going to complain about having to weave in the (few) ends left when I’m done? Of course. I’m still me. But for now, I’m going to pat myself on the back and tell myself that I’m doing a great job.

Are there any little details on your knitting that have really been pleasing you lately?

Yet Another

It’s the beginning of the school year again (sort of), so that must mean that it’s time for me to make my kid another sweater. (Although, when is it not time to make him another sweater?) So far, every fall I’ve dipped into my stash and made him a sweater. And, they’ve all been from the same leftover yarn.

Honestly, at this point, I don’t even remember what the yarn is leftover from.

But, I do know it’s Knit Picks Hawthorne in a whole bunch of colors (mostly light blue, which thankfully looks really good on my kid, in my totally unbiased opinion). It’s a fingering-weight superwash wool that’s right in that sweet spot of soft and strong that makes it perfect for kid’s clothes. Plus, it’s Knit Picks, so it’s fairly cheap.

When he was a baby baby, I made him a “Christmas in July” Sweater. It might be my favorite sweater I’ve made for him (or in general, really). It’s super cute, I love the colors, and it was a super fun, quick knit (maybe because of the size). Unfortunately, because he was a big baby with a gigantic head, he grew out of it in about fifteen minutes.

Last year, when he was 1 and a half, I designed a sweater for him, based on the book Sheep in a Jeep (his hands-down favorite at the time, and still a winner, if I’m being honest). I loved the little radish design. (Also! Look at all that hair! So cute!)

And this year, I’ve broken out my stash of Hawthorne again, but this time, I’m keeping it simple. No color-work, just stripes. My current plan is to do a bottom-up raglan V-neck (just like the Sheep in a Jeep design, and perfect for active little kids with big noggins), with blue cuffs, collar and hem. But, I’ll be covering the whole body and arms with 2-row stripes, alternating between blue and the other colors I have in my stash. They’re kind of a disparate lot of colors- not necessarily something I’d put together normally, but I think using all the colors and alternating them with the light blue will make them come together.

And, heck, if it doesn’t, who cares?! He’ll be cozy either way.

Do you have a seemingly unending stash of a favorite yarn? What’s your favorite thing to do with it?

Well, at least it’s done.

OK. So, I finished my “

OK. So, I finally finished my “Quarantine Sweater,” and the best thing I can say about it is that… it’s done.

It might be the least-flattering sweater I’ve ever made. I might even go as far as to say it’s ugly.

I mean, the shape ended up super weird (it’s way too wide, the sleeves are droopy, and the armpits start around my belly button). It’s not even worth taking a flattering picture of myself wearing it… sorry…

The colors are… fine, but I really dislike how some of the sections ended up super-marled (but I suppose that’s what happens when you knit exclusively to use up the random half-skeins of yarn in your stash without a lot of planning), and why did I include that puke-yellow color?

And the fabric itself is… odd (it’s nice and soft and warm, but also the stitches are very open and loose. I much prefer a wooly, structured sweater; this one is altogether too drapey and shapeless).

But, it’s done, so there’s that. Maybe I’ll grow to love it? Or maybe I’ll find a very wide, short friend with very long arms that grow out of their rib cage I can give it to? Or, I wonder what would happen if I tried to felt it? Does alpaca even felt?

Oh well. At least it used up a bunch of yarn.

Have you ever finished a big project, only to hear a great big sad trombone?

,” and the best thing I can say about it is that… it’s finished.

It might be the least-flattering sweater I’ve ever made. I might even go as far as to say it’s ugly.

I mean, the shape ended up weird (it’s way too wide, the sleeves are droopy, and the armpits start around my belly button). It’s not even worth taking a flattering picture of myself wearing it… sorry…

The colors are… fine, but I really dislike how some of the sections ended up super-marled (but I suppose that’s what happens when you knit exclusively to use up the random half-skeins of yarn in your stash without a lot of planning), and why did I include that puke-yellow color?

And the fabric itself is… odd (it’s nice and soft and warm, but also the stitches are very open and loose. I much prefer a wooly, structured sweater; this one is altogether too drapey and shapeless).

But, it’s done, so there’s that. Maybe I’ll grow to love it? Or maybe I’ll find a very wide, short friend with very long arms that grow out of their rib cage I can give it to? Or, I wonder what would happen if I tried to felt it? Does alpaca even felt?

Oh well. At least it used up a bunch of yarn.

Have you ever finished a big project, only to hear a great big sad trombone?