Category Archives: On My Needles

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?

Finished Moon River

I just realized that I didn’t ever tell you guys… I finished my Moon River!

And it actually turned out pretty great!  (Massive, but pretty great, none the less.)

It’s got a good 5-foot-plus wingspan, and since it’s a half-circle, is about 2-and-a-half feet deep.  It’s light as a feather, and will be lovely and warm once winter gets here.

I think the last time I talked about this project, I was crying about losing at yarn chicken.  Well, I ripped back a significant portion, and re-knit it (a couple times actually… it was very frustrating), and eventually figured out that the only way I was going to make it to the end was if I changed the bind off I was doing.

I had been doing a 2-stitch picot edge, which made lovely, elegant points, but used up a ton of yarn.  I had to change to a less yarn-intensive bind off.  So I ripped back a couple feet (it’s a massive shawl, and I didn’t want to rip back the whole thing), and re-bound-off with a 1-stitch picot edge.You can see where I changed my bind-off technique here.  It looks a little silly if you look too closely, but I figure that once I have it on, no one will notice.

Long story short, I managed to make it to the end… but just barely.That’s literally all the yarn that was leftover… one, maybe one and a half inches.

But, I managed to weave in all the ends  and get the shawl blocked, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the result.

Now I just have to decide how I’m going to wear this massive thing!

Papaya Sweater Update- Shoulders

I’ve been making steady progress on my Papaya Sweater.  I took it on vacation with me- if I’m remembering correctly, I actually cast on in the SeaTac Airport.  I got a good chunk of knitting done while I was traveling, but I didn’t get much done while I was actually in Georgia.  After all, who wants to work on a wool sweater in 90-degree heat with near-100% humidity?  (Not me, that’s who.)

Despite the weather (the humidity and the hurricane), I managed to get a good chunk of knitting done.  The Loana Cardigan is a top-down, seamless raglan, so I started at the neck, did a handful of short rows (for the shoulders), and managed to make it almost to the armpit split by the time I got home.  (Unfortunately for the sake of pictures, my circular needle is a little too short to let me lay out the sweater nicely just yet, so you’ll have to believe me that I’ve made the progress I said I made.)I usually tweak a few things, but I really like the simple design of this sweater.  So I only changed one thing. (Ha!)  The pattern calls for vertical ribbing along the front edges of the sweater.  I decided to do a few stitches of garter stitch instead (since garter stitch kind of looks like ribbing, just pointing the other direction).   I think it’s looking pretty good, and should lay nice and flat, when I’ve finished the sweater.There’s nothing more satisfying than a lovely, well executed raglan increase, if you ask me.  You just pick four spots, and increase 2 stitches at each point on every RS row, then BAM, you’ve got a sweater!  It seems too simple to work, but here I am, making another awesome raglan sweater.  The neat little rows of increases are so pretty (and functional), and make me so happy.  (OK, maybe I get little too sentimental about shoulder shaping.  So sue me!)Have you ever made a top-down seamless sweater before?  How did it turn out?  What was your favorite part of your project?

Well… Crap.

I played Yarn Chicken with my Moon River Shawl.

And I lost (super, super hard).I decided that before I started in earnest on my Papaya Sweater, I’d finish off my Moon River Shawl.  After all, I only have to bind off, block it and I’d be done!

Of course, I underestimated the sheer length of the rows on this thing… That’s the worst part about making half-circle shawls.  They start all cute and fun, only a handful of stitches each row, then before you know it: BAM! 400 stitches per row.  You can never budget enough yarn for that!

Or at least I can’t.

Either way, I spent the morning yesterday (about three hours) carefully binding off, only to make it about three-quarters of the way across the last row before completely running out of yarn.I thought about doing something fancy to make up the difference- buying more yarn (but I’ve lost the label, so I don’t know the colorway), or knitting with a similar yarn (but I don’t have anything similar enough in my stash), or even binding off in a contrasting color (but that would entail ripping out the bind off anyway).  Ugh!

I think I have to rip out the bind off, and rip out the row before it, too.  That should get me enough yarn to make it all the way across.

BUT I DON’T WANNA!

At least Ollie seems sympathetic.  Sigh…When have you lost Yarn Chicken?  What did you end up doing to save your project?

Let’s get going!

I’ve dilly-dallied enough… it’s time to start my Papaya Sweater!

I’ve made my choices, I’ve bought the pattern, and I’ve put everything I need in one of my big project bags.

All that’s left is to start!

And to tell you about it.

OK.  If you remember, I found a big bag of Knit Picks wool of the Andes Sport in my closet a couple weeks ago.  It turned out to be 11 skeins of this super cheerful pinkish-orange, called Papaya.It’s totally cheerful, and totally not a color I would normally pick, but here we are.  I’ve decided to give it a go and make a lovely, cheerful sweater to wear during the gray days of Seattle winters.

I was hemming and hawing about which pattern to go with, but I think I’ve decided on one.  It’s a simple, oversized, open-front cardigan that looks insanely cozy and totally pretty.  It’s the Loana Cardigan by Julia Egger!

It’s a simple, seamless, top-down raglan, knit at a slightly-larger-than-usual gauge to create lovely, drapey fabric.  My favorite part of the sweater is the oversized lapels, which are knit wide, to droop artistically when you wear it.  Or, you could add a shawl pin or button if you wanted to have a cute, closed sweater with an asymmetrical front.  Totally adorable!I don’t have quite as much yarn as the pattern calls for (I’m shy about 100 yards for the size I’ll be making), but I don’t think that really matters.  I’ll make a point to get the arms all finished before I work on the bottom part of the sweater,  that way, I’ll be able to get every last inch out of my yarn.

I’m also toying with the idea of adding a lacy panel or some cables down the back of the sweater or along the lapels, otherwise that’s a lot of stockinette.  But, I’m not sure if I’ll go that route yet.  I can always rip back and add them in later.  Or, I might just keep it simple.  Even if they’re not the most fun to knit, it’s my simplest sweaters that get the most use, if I’m being honest.

What do you think?  Should I add something fancy, or keep it sleek and simple?

(Oh, and if you were worried, Ollie’s feeling much better!  He’s snoozing on the back porch in the sun as we speak!)

Moon River

So, I haven’t decided exactly what to do with my Papaya yarn yet.  I’m currently leaning toward a flowy, cozy cardigan, but I’m not sure on the details yet.

But in the meantime, while I was deciding, I pulled out some lovely blue yarn that my husband gave me for Christmas!  I’m all about stashbusting this month, it seems.

I’ve lost the label, and I forgot to take pictures before I started knitting (I guess I was too excited to get going).  But, I do know this yarn was a gradient set from Wonderland Yarns.  My best guess is that it was dyed in the “Shillings & Pence” colorway, or something close.  (I think mine’s a little darker than what’s shown on the website, so I could be wrong.)Totally pretty, right?  The yarn I have is a little thinner than that shown in this picture, too…  It’s a fingering-weight two-ply, and oh so soft and springy.  It’s a delight to knit with.

Anyway, I’ve had this yarn pinned up on my bulletin board since December, hoping that it would inspire me to make something lovely. And, since I had a little downtime (and wasn’t quite ready to jump into a whole big sweater quite yet), I decided the time was right.

I found a lovely, simple half-circle shawl.  It’s dead easy, but so gorgeous, and a great way to show off my nice gradient yarn.

Moon River Shawlette by Malabrigo TeamIt calls for Malabrigo one-ply, so mine’s turning out a little lighter than the example, but I kind of love it that way.

I’ve gone through the three lightest skeins, and just joined the fourth.  It looks like I’m going to run out of pattern before I get through my yarn, so I’m going to add some extra rows onto the edge of the shawl- I want to use every last inch of my lovely blue yarn.  My shawl is going to be nice and big when I’m done with it!

Have you ever used a set of gradient yarns before?  What did you make?

Planning!

It’s the most exciting part of a new project (other than starting it, finishing it, or working on it, I suppose)!  It’s time to plan!

After hearing some very smart readers’ feedback, I have decided that my Papaya yarn will become… *drumroll please*… A sweater!

A cheerful orange sweater to perk me up in the middle of winter (or if I’m fast, a cheerful orange sweater that will allow me to hide among the changing leaves this fall).

Now all that I have to do (apart from knitting the dang thing), is decide what kind of sweater I want to make.

I like this flowy cardigan, with its interesting, circular shape.  I love the drape and the tiny eyelet details.

Vitamin D by Heidi KirrmaierAnd I love the reverse stockinette and shoulder cable details on this pullover.  (I’d make the sleeves longer, but the rest of the sweater is perfect.

Light Trails by Suvi Simola

Speaking of little details, I love this slouchy pullover.  It’s so simple, but the split hem and the little construction details at the shoulders and sides are to die for!  (Seriously- go look at the other pictures.)

Marklee by Elizabeth DohertyAnd I love this simple slouchy cardigan, too.  It’s knit at a large-ish gauge, so it would be light enough for layering. Plus, it’s knit top-down, so I will be able to use every inch of my precious Papaya yarn.

Loana Cardigan by Julia EggerWhat do you think?  What direction should I go in?  Or, do you have some favorite sport-weight sweater you think I’d like?

Papaya

Woo!  I’m free!  I finished all my “work knitting!” (For now, at least.)

It’s weird- it’s like that feeling I got back in college, right after Finals Week.  Every minute has been taken up with studying, or thinking you should study, or worrying that you’re not studying enough.  But they you finish your last exam, and BAM! you’ve got nothing particularly important to do.

It’s both very freeing and a little bit unsettling.

When I have that feeling, I like to go into my closet and see what kind of yarn I have waiting for me.  I’m not a huge “Stash Person.” I generally don’t go out and buy a big bag of yarn “just because.”  At most, I’ll buy a skein or two of sock yarn as a splurge, but that’s about it.

But, hidden deep at the bottom of a pile of yarn in the back of my closet, I found a treasure.

A bag of 11 balls of Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Sport in Papaya Heather!I literally have no idea when I bought this, or what I bought it for.  It must have been years ago.  I almost never wear pink, and I never wear orange.  I don’t know what would have possessed me to buy so much of this shade.  (It really is pretty, but it’s just not a color I normally go for.)  Maybe it was on sale?

I’ve got 11 skeins, though. Which means I can make something cool.  A sweater maybe?  Or a smallish throw blanket?  Or a big shawl?

What do you think I should do with my surprise stash yarn?

Have you ever been surprised by what you found in your stash?

Christmas (in July) Balls

I’ve been knitting up a storm lately- but unfortunately (or, if you look at it another way, fortunately) it’s mostly been “work knitting.”  Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m beyond thrilled that I can count myself as a “professional knitter,” but sometimes I long for the day when I could just knit whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted without deadlines or due dates.

(Woe is me, right?)

I’m crazy busy, but whenever I have a few minutes free, I’ve been slowly chugging away, working on a project just for me.  It’s fun, it’s straightforward, and it doesn’t require me to do any math! Woo!

Since I got Arne & Carlos’ book 55 Christmas Balls to Knit, I’ve dreamed of a Christmas tree covered in their adorable red and white ornaments.

I bought a big bag of red and white yarn in January, and I’ve slowly been making my way through the book.So far, I’ve completely finished 3 balls, stuffed 6 more, and have one freshly off my needles.

They’re quick little projects- it takes me an evening to knit up a ball (not including finishing).  And, its great to be able to just follow a pattern, knowing that it’ll turn out great.

Have you been working on any “just for fun” projects lately?