Category Archives: On My Needles

It just keeps going…

I’m eyebrow deep in my brother’s wedding blanket.  And it has been a journey.

I mean, not literally- it’s gotten really big, so it’s pretty stationary.  But, emotionally, it’s been a real journey.

(I’d love to share pictures with you, but since it’s a gift, you’ll have to make do with this totally-unrepresentative schematic of my progress. Don’t worry, Charlie, your wedding blanket is not a gigantic rainbow.)

Join me, if you will, on an epic journey through this gigantic project.

Blanket

Step 1 (red): Yay! This blanket is going to be great!  I love the color(s) I picked!  The yarn is so soft! The stitch pattern is so squishy!  I can’t wait to get going!

Step 2 (purple): Second guessing sets in.  Hm.  I don’t know about this pattern.  Is it too fiddly?  Too boring? Did I miscalculate the gauge?  Is it going to be too wide? Too narrow?  Do I even know how to knit?  Should I rip out the whole thing and try something else?

Step 3 (dark blue): Smooth sailing.  You know what? This blanket is great.  I really like how it’s turning out, it’s going well and coming together faster than I expected.  I’m already a few skeins in and it’s turning out great!

Step 4 (light blue): The Slog.  It looks good, but dang it’s boring. I don’t want to keep working on it, and you can’t make me.  One or two rows a day is plenty to get this thing done by June, right??

Step 5 (green): Second guessing part 2.  Ah crap.  This is why you follow a pattern- you don’t want to be halfway through a blanket before you realize that you’re about to run out of the special hand-dyed yarn that you picked for this blanket.  Gotta scramble to figure out a new plan.  (Preferably one that doesn’t involve ripping out a month’s worth of work.)

Step 6 (yellow): I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.  I’m so close I can taste it- if only I didn’t have to do dumb things like eat, sleep, or take care of a toddler, it’d be done already.  It’s going to be amazing when it’s finished!

Step 7 (orange): Isn’t it done yet?  If I keep measuring it, one of these days it’ll magically be long enough, right?  Gotta get it done! Push push push!

I’m currently here, grinding away slowly, but not making as much progress as I’d hoped (and pretty sure that I’m going to run out of yarn before I had intended to, but still pretty much in denial):Blanket2

Y’all, it’s going to be great, but the last couple weeks of knitting have been rough.  Just gotta push through, and then never make anything with more than a single skein of yarn again.

What do you do to get yourself through a slog-y project?

Gauge Gripes

Do you ever get halfway through a project and start questioning everything.  Why did I pick this yarn? Did I really need to make the extra-large version?  Why is there just so much stockinette stitch?  And was the pattern designer a little bit of a sadist?

I’m halfway through a pattern like this.  (OK, full confession, I’m barely a third of the way through, but I like to dream.)

It’s a top-down sweater knit on US3s with fingering-weight wool.  The shoulders were fun, with lots of color-work, but the rest of the sweater is acres of stockinette.  IMG_1311It’s going to be lovely when it’s done, but man, I gotta wonder about the sanity of the designer.  Who designs a men’s sweater on 3’s and 2’s? I’m currently working on the body, and each row has almost 300 sts.  It’s not even that big of a sweater.

Oh… wait… It’s my sweater.  I designed it…  whoops.

I just hope it turns out OK, because my fingers are going a little numb from all the thousands of tiny stitches.

(Keep your eye out for this pattern some time next fall.  In the meantime, I’ll be plodding away through this tiny tiny gauge, and dreaming of worsted weight yarn…)

When’s the last time you over-estimated your enthusiasm for a pattern?

Kitchen Confession

I have to admit to something.  Something I’ve been neglecting for far too long.  Something… gross.

My dishcloths have officially turned into dishrags, in the worst possible way.

It’s real grim in my towel-and-rag drawer.  I didn’t think it was that bad, but now that I’m thinking about it, most of my “nice” dishcloths were wedding presents.

We got married 9 years ago.

Yikes.

I thought about posting a picture of the old rags, but I decided against it for 2 reasons.

  1. You really don’t want to see them.
  2. I don’t want you to judge me.  Because… oof.  They’re real grim.

The nicest ones are “only” bleached out from years of washing.  The worst are stained with curry or chocolate (or who knows what) and riddled with holes from being used so many times.

So, in a fit of practicality (and avoidance of the projects I’m “supposed” to be doing), I’m breaking out my bin o’ dishcloth cotton.IMG_1293.JPGThere’s plenty of yarn in there, but none of the colors are terribly cohesive, and there isn’t a ton of any one brand.  I’ve always had grand plans of working up a lovely set of fancy matching dishcloths and towels, but… clearly that hasn’t happened.

So instead, I’m grabbing colors at random and making big ol’ single-crochet squares until the yarn runs out, then switching to the next color.  They might not be the fanciest dishcloths, or terribly interesting to work up, but they’ll do their jobs well enough, and I’m enjoying burning through my stash yarn.  IMG_1301We’ll just have to see how many I make it through before I get bored- so far two and a half, and I’m still going strong.

Have you worked on any really practical projects lately?

Oops

I may have made a mistake.

OK, not really a mistake.

I may have over-committed myself.  Which, when you’re a Type-A overachiever like me, is nothing new.

I’m no stranger to “accidentally-on-purpose” signing up for just one too many activities, and making one too many entries on my to-do list.  And, well, I did it again.

I can’t give you too many details, because it’s all very secret, but I’m currently working on not one, but two new designs.

They’re both lovely (if I say so myself), but they’re both due mid-Februrary, and they both require a lot of prototyping.

(And one is knit on US3s.  Who designs a sweater on US3s?! Honestly?!  Oh… Right…)

IMG_1268Anyway, the kid is napping right now, so I’m going to take advantage of the quiet and hop back on the couch and get in a little speed-knitting.

Keep your fingers crossed for me!  It’s going to be a busy couple weeks!

Have you ever over-committed with your crafting?  What happened?

Quick and Finished!

You guys know I’m a big sweater knitter.  I love a great big, weeks- (or months-) long project that I can really sink my teeth into.  And if it’s a pattern that I’m making up as I go along, and documenting the whole thing, even better!

But sometimes, there’s nothing better than finding a great pattern and banging out a project in a little over a week.

This little cowl is one of those projects.

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It’s finished!  And it’s super cute!

It’s not perfect (the decreases are a little weird, and I don’t love how the CO edge pulls a little, compared to the super-stretchy brioche fabric), but I don’t mind.  The pattern was quick to work up, and the finished object is cute and totally wearable.  It was a super fun little knit.  I’m not going to say it was “easy”, but once I got my brain around the whole brioche thing, it was pretty straightforward.

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One thing I really love is how it’s totally reversible!  The big color-blocks on the right side are fun, but I kind of love the way the contrasting colors peek out between the bright blue ribs.  (It’s even prettier, and more glow-y in person!)

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This is definitely a piece that I intend to wear a lot in the future!

Have you finished up any fun, quick projects recently?

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

So, I’ve been trying to prune some of my stash.  I used up a bunch of that blue Provincial Tweed for my big old sweater that I finished the other day.  I knit that fair isle sweater for my kid a couple months ago, using up a lot of leftover sock yarn.  And, I’ve made a couple scarves, cowls, and other little in-between-big project projects.

Sometimes I actually use up my yarn.

Sometimes I end up with more yarn than I started with.

So, I’ve had these two little balls of purple yarn for years.  (I got them to make a baby sweater for a friend’s kid.  I think she’s in kindergarten now.  It’s been a while.)  I lost the label, and couldn’t figure out what kind of yarn it was, but I know it was superwash and baby-appropriate.  So I though, “Hey, let’s use up this yarn and make a cute little purple sweater for the boy!”  Seems like a good idea.

Except that I apparently have no idea how much yarn a baby sweater takes.

You’ll notice that I ran out of purple  just about halfway through the sweater. (I knit it bottom-up, so it’s easy to see where I ran into trouble.)IMG_1226.JPGI also kind of guessed on the size, so it’s very, very big on the boy.  Of course, he’ll grow into it, but I was kind of hoping he’d be able to wear it now, when it’s cold out, instead of in 6 months when it’s a million degrees out. (Well, 80.  We live in Seattle after all.)  Oh well.img_1205And, I ended up having to buy a whole big skein of sock yarn to finish the top part of the sweater.  Because, of course, I didn’t have any yarn that matched that particular shade of purple in my stash.  So now I have 3/4 of a skein of sock yarn to add to my stash. So much for paring down my collection.img_1230At least the kid seems to like his new sweater!img_1200How do you use up your yarn?  Or do you just keep buying it, like I seem to be doing?

Ding dong!

The witch is dead!

Or, I should say, The Sweater is Finished!

It’s been over 9 months since I started this bad boy, and it. has. languished.  I’d pick it up every few weeks, work a couple rows (complaining the whole time), then put it down and somehow be shocked (shocked!) when the sweater wasn’t any bigger when I went to pick it up again the next time.

I freaking hated this thing by the time I got to the end of it.

So, it’s surprising that when I finally finished it (just before Christmas), I absolutely loved how it turned out!

IMG_1141.JPGIt might be my favorite sweater right now.  (I’ve worn it basically every day since I finished it, and didn’t even bother blocking it because I didn’t want to wait for it to dry).

It’s a super simple sweater, no fancy shaping, just a regular old Ann Budd top-down set-in-sleeve sweater with a crew neck and lots of extra length.  But, it fits like a glove, and the Knit Picks Provincial Tweed is crazy soft.IMG_1158It’s super comfy, and (despite the unflattering angle on the above photo), looks pretty nice, if I say so myself.  I couldn’t be happier (or more surprised) with how nicely the finished sweater is.

Have you ever finished something, only to be pleasantly surprised by how it turned out?

Not Shopping

I’ve always taken a weird kind of backwards pride in my stash.  It’s not impressively large, or full of any really fancy or special yarn.  In fact, it’s usually quite the opposite.  I’ve always been proud that it’s pretty well under control.  I try only to buy yarn that I plan on using for a specific project, and I try not to start any new projects until I finish my current ones (within reason… I’m no superhero).

But, I was cleaning out the closet in my studio a few weeks ago, and, well, I realized that my stash isn’t as under control as I thought it was.

I’ve got quite a lot of yarn.

Like, sweater-amounts of yarn.  (Well, baby sweater amounts of yarn, at least.)

Which has made me decide to start on a using-up-stashed-yarn quest.

I began with two skeins of a gigantic mystery yarn.  And I mean gigantic.  It was almost more roving than yarn, crunchy, itchy, bright blue wool.  I pulled out some US19s (really, they’re more like vampire-hunting stakes than knitting needles), and whipped up a quick garter stitch bowl with short rows.  I love how it turned out, but I’m never working with such a big gauge again- such a pain!IMG_1001I’ve also been blowing through a big moss-stitch scarf.  I usually hate scarves (not sure why, when I’ll happily make a shawl or a sweater, or even a gigantic garter stitch blanket), but I’m enjoying this one.  And I think I’ll have enough yarn left over to make a matching hat!  Leftovers on top of leftovers!IMG_0985I’ve already picked out my next projects!  I’m going to make a Zagged Cowl from the green yarn. (I made one years ago when I wrote the pattern, but I can’t find the danged thing for the life of me.  Luckily, I’ve got another skein ready to go!)  The blue on the left, plus the mini skeins are all Madeline Tosh Light- I think they’ll become some kind of color-work, maybe a hat?  I’ve had the mini-skeins hanging on my bulletin board for years, waiting for inspiration to strike, and I think the time might be right to get to work on them.  And, the mystery purple fingering weight on the right- I think that will be a baby sweater, maybe in combination with some other little odds and ends of mystery yarn from my stash.IMG_1009It feels great to be using up yarn (and making room for more!).

Have you ever gone “shopping” in your stash?  What did you find?  What did you make with it.

It is the sweater that doesn’t end…

Yes, it goes on and on, my friend!  Some people started knitting it, not knowing what it was, and they’ll continue knitting it forever just because it is the sweater that doesn’t end…

(Lamb Chop’s Play-along, anyone?)

Yes, I’m still working on the never-ending Provincial Tweed sweater.  The thing is, it’s so close to being done, I can taste it.

Look!  Only 1 cuff to go!IMG_0956I finished the right sleeve (and it’s nice and long)…IMG_0960I worked up the neck a nice simple crew neck that fits pretty perfectly…IMG_0946I even finished the split hem…IMG_0970But holy moly, that hem is unflattering.  it’s like a big, ugly arrow pointing to the widest part of my thighs.IMG_0968And why, oh, why did I decide that a garter stitch border on a stockinette stitch flap would be a good choice?  It’s all flap-y and roll-y and weird and disappointing.

I guess I’ll finish off my left sleeve, then rip back my split hem.  I might come up with something more interesting, but right now, I’m thinking a nice long 1×1 rib hem to match the cuffs.  So much for my plans for a super-cool over-sized, positive-ease sweater or something complex and cable-y.  But, if I’m being honest, a simple pullover in a lovely, soft (and machine-washable!) yarn will probably get more wear these days.

I just wish it was done already!

Do you have any projects that just. won’t. end?

Finished Fair Isle

I finished my baby Fair Isle sweater!  And just in time, too, because my baby’s giant head is already threatening to outgrow the neck hole.  But, I suppose that’s most of the challenge with knitting for babies- getting the project done before they outgrow it.

Anyway, pictures!IMG_0760.JPG Here he is, beginning what I’m sure will be an illustrious career in knitwear modeling.  (He looks a little grumpy because he just got up from his nap and I immediately shoved his head through this slightly-too-tight neck hole.)  Otherwise, this sweater fits pretty well.  It’s even got some growing room lengthwise in the arms and the body.  Perfect!IMG_0817I love the way my speckled, variegated and hand-dyed yarns all play off each other, making the yoke look more complicated than it was.  And, of course, I love the colors. I think they look especially pretty with the boy’s bright blue eyes and adorable pink cheeks.  (But I think most things look especially adorable on him.)IMG_0806.JPGHave you done any knitting for kids lately?  How did it go? Did you manage to finish while the kid still fit in it?