Category Archives: On My Needles

All done*

*For the most part, anyway.

And, I’m pleased to say, my sweater turned out pretty great!

I was worried it was going to be too short, but it ended up a surprisingly flattering hip length! And, I had plenty of yarn! I had about an egg-sized ball of the handspun and a half a skein of the blue when all was said and done.

I finished the body with a whole skein of blue left over, then picked up a whole mess of stitches for the button band. (Pro tip- when picking up a button band, you pick up 2 stitches in every 3 rows as you go up the sides, then pick up 1 stitch in every stitch across the neck. Then, check to make sure the two sides are more-or-less equal and if you have the right number of stitches for the ribbing you’re doing. If one side has too many stitches, instead of ripping out and re-picking up the stitches, just work the appropriate number of decreases on that side in the next row as you establish the ribbing. And, if you need to change the number of stitches to make the ribbing come out evenly, do the same thing, but at the back of the neck. So much easier than ripping out, and no one will ever know!)

I threw in some button holes after a couple rows, and finished off the button band in pattern. OK, it turned out I threw in too many button holes (in my defense, I wasn’t paying attention), so I used a little matching thread to sew up the extra one.

Then I blocked it and added on some buttons that I happened to have that were the right size and more or less the right color (or so I thought).

Once they were on and the sun came out (I added them late at night, and it turns out I couldn’t really see them), I realized they were definitely not the right buttons. But they’re the ones I have in my stash, and they’re functional, so they’re staying on for now. The moment I get to go to a yarn shop again, I’ll get something cute (and probably silver) for this sweater.

But for now, I’m really pleased with how this has turned out!

What have you guys finished lately?

Back on Track

It was touch and go there for a minute, but I have made up with my striped sweater. I’ll be honest, I really considered frogging the whole dang thing after the sleeve debacle.

But I’m glad I rejiggered my math and reworked the sleeve. Because it’s turning out super cute, and the fit is so much better. (I’d show you a picture, but I’m still in my PJs. My “daytime PJs,” to be fair, but still.)

Now the only question is: How long is this sweater going to end up?

I’ve finished the sleeves and I’m working my way down the body. I’ve got three skeins of the blue left and a ball of the handspun that’s about the size of a lemon (and who knows how many yards that is?). I figure if I save one skein of the blue , that should be enough for the button band. And most of the second skein will probably be used for the waist ribbing.

So that leaves one skein of blue and an indeterminate amount of handspun. I was hoping I could leave the bottom of the sweater stripe-free, but I think I might need to add some to make sure it doesn’t end up an awkward length.

This whole project feels like playing yarn chicken. At least it’s looking cute.

Cross your fingers for me!

… Maybe Too Improvised

So you know last week when I was so full of myself about my improvised sweater? When I was all “I love this sweater! I love figuring things out as I go! Measuring? Math? Who needs ’em? There’s no way this is going to go wrong!”

Well. As they say, pride cometh before the fall.

And boy howdy how I’ve fallen.

I had the yoke done, I’d split for body and sleeves, and had made it a full skein of yarn into my body. Then, I put the body on pause while I made the sleeves. That way, I’d be sure to make the sleeves long enough, and I’d know exactly how much yarn I have for the body. Smart. Or, at least a good plan.

Before I tell you what happened next, let me say that in my defense, I actually did a swatch. However, my swatch came to about 4.5 sts/in. My beloved Ann Budd book has the math done for 4 sts/in and 5 sts/in. So, instead of picking different needles or actually doing my own math, I’d just chose a larger size, and decided to follow the 4 sts/in pattern. Not a great plan, not terrible.

But, I forgot that her sleeves are a little slimmer than I like to begin with.

And I forgot that they’re also a little short.

And I forgot to try on my sweater as I went.

Once I had the first sleeve knit down to the cuff, I finally tried the sweater on. Y’all. It was bad. My arm looked like an over-stuffed hotdog that had been cooked so much it was about burst.

It was so bad, I immediately ripped it out. Which (while not a great move for a blogger, since I don’t have a picture of just how awful the sleeve was) is a move I stand by.

Anyway. Now I’m back to basically where I was last week. And after all that, I think the yoke and body will be fine, though the silhouette will probably be a bit more fitted than I had envisioned. But I’m definitely going to have to do some math for my sleeves. Sigh…

When’s the last time you had to re-do a significant part of a project?

Improvised Sweater

You guys, I kinda love how this project is going!

After the swatch went so well last week, I couldn’t wait to start knitting my new sweater. Did I want to plan? No. Did I want to do math? No. Did I want to follow another person’s pattern? No.

I just wanted to start knitting!

So, I pulled out my trusty Ann Budd top-down sweater bible and set to work on a raglan sweater (my favorite) in 2×2 stripes of blue and handspun. After a few rows, I decided, “Yeah- it’ll be a V-neck.” I never make v-necks for myself, so why not give it a shot!

Then, when I got to the bottom of the V, I had to decide between cardigan and pullover. I literally hadn’t thought that far ahead. Which is wild. You guys know me, I’m always such a planner, especially when it comes to my knitting.

I sat for a few minutes, and thought about what I had in my sweater pile. I have a bunch of pullovers, but I really don’t know the last cardigan I made for myself that’s really wearable. The cardigans that come to mind are cute and all, but not terribly wearable day-to-day. They’re more of the “decorative” variety than the practical. And you know I’m all about practical garments these days.

So, I’m off to the races. I’m doing a v-neck cardigan!

My current goal is to be as efficient with my yarn usage as possible. I’ll continue in stripes until I’m just about out of the handspun, then do the rest of the body/arms in the solid blue. Hopefully, that’ll let me make the best of every last inch of my yarn.

Fingers crossed that it all goes to plan! (Even if there really isn’t one.)

Sweater!

So, I’ve been whining about wanting to do a sweater, but not having enough time/energy/yarn to knit a sweater.

Well. Turns out that, while I don’t have the time or energy to make a sweater, I do, in fact have the yarn for it.

And when has being low on time or energy ever stopped me from starting a project? Never.

I really dug deep into the stash this time, and found about 8 skeins of Wool of the Andes in Sapphire Heather (one of my favorite colorways). I say “about” because a couple of the skeins had already been partially used. On what? Who knows.

And I found a big hank of handspun that I made years ago. I don’t remember how many yards it is, it’s very inconsistent in weight (and not on purpose), and I have no memory of what the fiber content was. But it’s a very pretty blend of blues, greens and purples that I love, but is entirely impossible to photograph.

Well, I thought they looked nice together. They’re roughly similar weights on average, and, when combined, they probably have enough yardage for a sweater.

So, I got to swatching, and I have to say, I’m pleasantly surprised with how it turned out. I did a quick 2×2 stripe, which I figured would be the easiest way to combine the yarns together for maximum yarn usage with the least fuss/planning.

I’m excited to get started. Now to figure out what I’m actually going to do with this…

Scraps have never been this cozy

Like I’ve said, I’m starting to have to get really creative with my stash usage the last few months. Which is kind of fun, if I keep myself in the right headspace. It’s like a puzzle, and not a depressing reminder that I haven’t gotten to go shopping in almost a year.

For example, I pulled out the leftovers from my Soldotna Sweater from last year. A half skein (or less) of four fairly disparate colors. I had the most of the blue and the variegated pink, with a small amount of gray and just a smidge of purple. It’s Tosh DK, which is one of my favorite yarns- so cozy and soft with such great colors! Sure, I had only about 200 grams total, but I knew I had be able to do something with it.

I sat down to swatch and decide what I wanted to do, when my husband asked what I was making. I said I wasn’t sure yet- maybe mittens or a hat, or maybe another cowl. And he got a funny look on his face and asked, “Why not just make socks?” I explained that the yarn was a little to thick for socks- that they’d end up more like slippers and probably wouldn’t really fit inside of shoes. He gave me another funny look, like he didn’t believe my excuses.

Long story short, it turns out that he wanted a pair of extra-cozy slipper-socks, but was too polite to ask. He’s been working from home in our (apparently quite cold) basement since spring, and he needed something extra cozy for his toes.

He picked the colors he liked best, and I made some suggestions about color placement, and away I went.

I worked the socks toe up, to get the most out of every last inch of yarn, but based the sock design on tincanknits’ Little Squirrel socks (a basic turned-heel sock with a mistake-rib cuff).

I’ve still got the second sock’s cuff to work up, and the colors aren’t necessarily the ones I would have picked, had I had a whole yarn store to choose from. But, I really like how they’re turning out. (The mistake ribbing on the cuff is especially satisfying!)

And they’re undeniably cozy.

What’s the coziest thing you’ve worked on recently?

And It’s Done

Well, that was fun while it lasted. I know it wasn’t a full-on sweater. Obviously. But still! I thought that my Ben-ish Cowl would take me a little longer than it did. (I think I finished it about 3 days after I wrote my last post about it. And I’m being pretty slow about knitting these days…)

Oh well…

At least it turned out super cute!

The colors are slightly off here, but about as close as I could manage. The red is more burgundy (think: cranberry sauce) and the gray is slightly more blue (a slightly overcast autumn sky… if you’re feeling poetic).

It’s super cozy and soft. Maybe too cozy for Seattle…

But, the takeaway for this project is that I want to put this cable/texture pattern on every garment I make for the rest of the winter. Socks? Yes. Hats? Yes. Scarves? Yes.

And sweaters? Definitely.

Why do the most fun projects always go the fastest?

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?