Category Archives: On My Needles

Christmas Balls Are Go!

Merry Christmas, everyone!

What? It’s not Christmas yet?  But I’m drinking my morning coffee with egg nog instead of milk, and I may have just eaten a sugar cookie (breakfast of champions!), and my house is festive as all get out!  It certainly feels like Christmas around here.

We decorated last weekend.  Our front yard is full of twinkling lights (though some of our strands of lights are starting to get a little sad- I think we’re going to need to buy new ones for next year).  We’ve hung the stockings by the chimney with care, and we put up out (not quite straight) Christmas tree.

Usually I’m a “let’s use every single ornament we’ve ever come across” kind of tree decorator.  It’s usually packed to the gills, with almost every branch holding at least an ornament or two.  But this year we switched it up…

And used my Christmas Balls!I managed to finish 24 balls (I still have a handful that haven’t been filled yet), which turned out to be just enough to decorate the front of the tree!  I love how bold and cheerful they turned out.They look great, and (bonus!) I don’t have to worry about the dog pulling down the tree and breaking everything.I couldn’t be happier with how they’ve turned out.  Now I just have to make the other 30-ish balls, to finish out the book.  Maybe by next year, I’ll have them all finished?

(I tried to get a nice picture of Ollie in front of the tree, but he didn’t want to cooperate.  So, here’s the best one.)Have you decorated for the holidays yet?  What

Baby Sweater is Go!

It’s done!  And I gotta say, it’s really satisfying to make a whole sweater in about a week (OK, maybe it was two, but I was dawdling).I love the little wooden buttons (that I found in my button stash!) and the Berroco Vintage is so stinking soft and cozy.  I love the little-old-man collar and the cute little raglan shoulders.I even love the fact that it the sweater has one green cuff.  I ran out of gray at the last minute, and while I could have ripped back the sweater and taken some of the length off of the bottom of the sweater (it did turn out a little long… I think… how big are babies, again?), but I wanted to keep this project as quick and easy as possible.  So, I just grabbed a little green Vintage I’ve had stashed away.  It ended up being perfect!

I wish grown-up sweaters worked up as fast as ones for babies!

Have you done any fun, quick projects lately?

Go Baby Sweater!

I gotta say, there’s something really, really satisfying about making baby sweaters (especially worsted-weight ones).  They just go so fast!

I feel like I’ve barely had any time to work on it, but my Baby Sophisticate is already almost complete!I’ve already finished the body, the button band/collar combo, and one of the sleeves!  It’s a little longer than I expected, but I think that’s OK–it’ll just be extra-cozy.  I still have to decide on which buttons to use, or if I “need” to go shopping for more, but that’s not a problem.

It’s been great to be able to work on a sweater that doesn’t take 45 minutes to knit across (*cough* Papaya Sweater *cough*).  I mean, look at this tiny sleeve! It’s just over 20 stitches around.  It’s so small I can use safety pins as stitch holders!The only problem I can foresee is that I’m approaching the end of my skein, and I think it’s going to be a little close getting through my whole left sleeve before I run out.

But, worst case scenerio, I use a little bit of green to make the cuff (I used the same yarn to make a sweater for my husband years ago, and managed to order way more than I needed- lucky me!).

Have you ever made baby clothes before?

A New Project Appears

OK, so I didn’t quite behave myself, like I promised myself I was going to.  I haven’t spent the weekend powering through my Papaya Sweater.  And I didn’t finish off any of my other hibernating projects, either.

But, I also didn’t go to the yarn store (though I was sorely tempted).  So we’ll call it a win.

I did decide to start a new project.  Something small, quick, satisfying and fun.  Something that would get my knitting juices flowing again.  And something that I could make entirely from my stash.

There’s one project that I can think of that fits those requirements.

A baby sweater.

Baby Sweaters are fun and complex, just like a grown-up sweater, but they’re tiny enough that I can get one finished pretty quickly.  Plus, since it’s small, it was a good bet that I have enough spare yarn laying around that I could just pick up a skein and get to work.

And, wouldn’t you know it!?  I found a perfect, unopened skein of Berroco Vintage (in Peppercorn) that was left over from a sweater I made for my father-in-law last year.  It’s machine washable, soft and super tough- perfect for a baby sweater.Then I just had to figure out which sweater I should make.   My usual “I’m bored with my knitting so I think I’ll make a baby sweater” sweater is Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Baby Surprise Jacket, but that usually looks better with thinner yarn. (Pro tip:  If you have a handful of leftover balls of sock yarn, you can make a really cute, easy striped sweater using the BSJ pattern.  I’ve probably made a dozen of them over the years.)  My Berroco Vintage is a lovely squishy worsted, though, so I decided to do something else.

So, after cruising around Ravelry, I happened upon the Baby Sophisticate sweater, a really cute “little old man” cardigan with a great shawl collar.  I made a couple of these before, years ago, for a friend’s twins, and they turned out really great.  It’s an easy, satisfying pattern (and a good excuse to pull out the button collection).I’m ready to go, and very excited!  I bet I’ll get this little guy done before you can say “procrastination.”

What do you knit “just for fun?”

Papaya Sweater Update- Stockinette Upon Stockinette

I’ve been back at work with my Papaya Sweater. But I gotta tell you, it’s slow going.

Not because it’s a difficult pattern.  It’s super simple, relaxing knitting.  It’s great TV knitting (we’re slowly catching up on Stranger things- so good!).  I still like the color (though I’m still unsure why I purchased this tropical shade of pink-y orange-it’s so unlike my usual style).

The problem with this sweater is that it’s:

  1. Massive (Yes, I know I picked out an extra-long, extra-flowy sweater, so this one’s on me).
  2. Knit at a fairly small gauge (For a big ol’ sweater).
  3. Really big (I don’t think I can understate this).
  4. 100% stockinette (Like, that’s all it is!).
  5. Gigantic (For real, it’s just huge).

Don’t get me wrong, I like stockinette as much as the next lady.  It’s beautiful and simple, it’s easy to do and blocks up like a dream.  But, y’all, there’s so much of it.  I’m only a few inches past the armpits and I’m already daydreaming of the shoulder shaping again.  Maybe I should add a little bit of lace or some sort of texture along the fronts, or a small cable running down the “seams” under the arms.

Or (if I’m being honest) I’ll probably just keep moving right along, whining about all the stockinette, and working up a quick Christmas Ball or two when I get bored.

Anyway, I can always take a break from the body of the sweater to make up the arms, if the situation gets really dire.

What’s on your needles right now?

Slayed

Call me Buffy Summers, because I’ve slayed the vampire. OK, that’s a little dramatic, but man, does it feel good to be finished with my Vampire Project!

OK, I’m not technically 100% done with it.  I’ve finished the knitting portion and it’s blocking away in my studio (I’ve even got two fans pointed at it, in the hopes that it dries sooner than later).  As soon as it’s dry, I’ve got a little finishing to do; some ends to weave in and some last-minute additions.

It’s a huge weight off my shoulders- I was starting to worry about getting it done in time, but I think I’m good (unless it takes more than a couple days to dry).  And, I’m so stinking pleased with how it turned out- it’s massive and absolutely gorgeous (I really wish I could show you now… but unfortunately, I have to wait until next year).

Now that I’m done, though, I feel a little at loose ends.  You know that feeling when you finish a big project, or get done with finals, or get through a big stressful holiday, suddenly you don’t know what to do with yourself?  Maybe I’ll break out a non-knitting craft, or maybe I’ll read a book, or maybe bake something fancy… I’m not used to having options!

Have you finished any big projects lately?

What If?

Sometimes when I’m working on a particularly slog-y project, I start playing “What If” with my knitting.  (When I was an office drone I also played “What If” with my job.  What if I was a barista?  What if I started working for the postal service?  What if I went back to school?)

I’ve been thinking “What If” I didn’t have to finish the Vampire project?  What would I be doing instead?

And, since my calculations tell me that I’ve got a little over a week left before I finish (assuming I haven’t made any major mistakes/don’t have to rip back the whole thing/am able to stay on schedule), it’s just about time to start thinking about the next thing I’m going to do.

First, I think I’m going to finish up my Papaya Sweater.  It’s been sitting, abandoned, on an end table in my studio for more than a month now.  Poor thing.  I’m really looking forward to getting it finished.  (And I’m really looking forward to a simple project that doesn’t involve any cables.)I’ll probably work up a handful more Christmas Balls, or at least take some time away from actual knitting to finish up the ones I’ve already knit.  I’ve got a stack that still need to be stuffed, and almost all of them need their tails woven in and their hangers added.  (I feel like “hangers” isn’t quite right, but I can’t think of the right word.  I mean the dangly loop they’ll hang on the tree from.)I also need to spend a weekend finishing up my Mother Bears before the end of the year.  I’ve got 4.5 bears that need to be stuffed and assembled, plus another 6 more that need their faces sewn on.  Maybe that’ll be a Christmas Vacation project?And, I think I want to do something new, something fun, and something that uses up some of the yarn I’ve already got in my stash.  Maybe a new pair of socks, or some sort of shawl that uses the last few mini-skeins of fancy yarn I got last year for Christmas.  Options!What are you working on now?

Vampire Knitting

I’ve been attacked by a knitted vampire.

(Vampire Doll by Tatyana Korobkova)

No, my vampire is nothing so cute or sweet or quick to knit up.  My knitting vampire is a monster.  It’s gray and massive and covered in cables.  (Yes, I know I love cables, but everyone has their limit. And I might be reaching mine. Y’all, it’s so many cables.)

It’s a pattern I’m working on that’s going to be published next fall… so, sorry, you’ll have to stick around until next year before I’m allowed to show it to you.  Such a bummer!

This project is taking up all my time- I have to work on it at least three hours every day to stay on schedule to get the finished project sent out by the due date.  It’s taking all my knitting energy- at best, after I finish my day’s worth of vampire knitting, I can add a few rows to one of my Christmas Balls, or maybe an inch or two to my next Mother Bear, before I give in, lay down on the couch and zone out in front of the TV.  And, it’s eaten up all my knitting imagination.  Usually I break out my sketch book or a favorite stitch dictionary every few days, and come up with a plan for a new shawl or sweater.  These ideas usually don’t go anywhere, but it’s nice to be able to kind of constantly brainstorm.  This vampire project has sucked up all my creative juices.  I am now only a husk- a husk that only thinks about gray cables.

Now, of course, I’ll be done soon enough, one way or the other (it’s got to be done by the beginning of November).  And after that I’ll be back to normal, flitting from project to project like usual.   But, right now, I’ve got no choice but to slog through the last quarter of my pattern.

Ugh.

Have you ever had to deal with vampire knitting?  How did it go?

Christmas Ball Update

Lately, I haven’t had much time for “fun” knitting. (“But, Allison!” You protest, “All knitting is fun!”)  I’ve been hard at work on a very cool (yet, ironically  very cozy) and very top-secret pattern.  I have to knit X amount of the pattern every day to stay on track to make my deadline at the beginning of November.  It’s not a very relaxing schedule for my knitting, but it’s what works best for me.  If I don’t give myself a daily deadline, I try to get the whole darn thing done in one sitting and I go a little crazy.

On the days when I finish my assigned knitting early, I’ve been treating myself with Arne and Carlos’ Christmas Balls.I got the book last year for Christmas, and have since then, I’ve harbored hopes that I could cover our tree with nothing but red-and-white knit bobbles.  So far, I have made a bunch (just over a dozen), but unless we get a very small tree, it’s not going to be enough.

Despite being a little disappointed with my progress, I’m still loving making these balls.  They’re the perfect in-between project. They’re interesting, and great colorwork practice.  They don’t take long to make (one ball takes me about 2 hours to knit- just enough knitting to watch a movie).  And, they’re very satisfying.  I want to make all the Christmas Balls!

I just have to finish my stupid work knitting first… sigh.

Do you have any favorite “in-between” patterns you keep going back to?

Papaya Sweater Update- The Pits

I’ve made it through the tricky part (as far as this sweater has a tricky part; it’s exceptionally simple).  The shoulders look great, and I made it to the arm/body split, otherwise known as the armpit.

From now on, it’s basically straight stockinette down to the extra-long hem (unless I get really antsy and try doing something fancy).

I want this sweater to be as long as I can possibly make it, so I’m going to do a couple inches (probably to the end of this skein)  on the body, then switch over and finish off the sleeves.  That way, I can work to the very last inch of the very last skein to make the rest of the body.  (We all know how well my last game of yarn chicken went… let’s hope this one works out a little better.)I really like how this sweater is turning out- I keep thinking of outfits it would be perfect with.  But, I have a while to go before I get to take this bad boy off my needles.  I just need to buckle down and turn into a real knitting machine.

Have you been working on any marathon projects lately?