Category Archives: On My Needles

Caption Knitting

I’ve been cruising through my quilt (or as much as you can cruise through a quilt… it’s such. so. going), but I’ve hit a bump in the road. And it’s not the bump that I expected.

The bump is that we’ve started watching Dark on Netflix. We’re only a couple episodes in, but I’m hooked. (I know, it’s a show from 3 years ago, so it’s not like I’m on the cutting edge or anything.) But it’s a very well-made show; beautiful, well-acted and really compelling. I’m a sucker for a unique sci-fi show, especially a time-travel story.

But here’s the thing. It’s in German.

I took German in high school, and still remember enough to ask for directions or order dinner, given enough time and a German-English dictionary, but watching (and understanding) a TV show? That’s beyond me.

Which means we have to bust out the closed captions. And that means my eyes have to be glued to the TV. And that means, no quilting for me.

So, I’ve started a new project, just for working on while watching Dark.

It’s a super simple shawl, featuring lots of garter stitch and a really simple repeating pattern for shaping. I’ve based it more or less on the Deep Winter Shawl by Lisa Metzgar. I started by actually following the pattern, but somehow got lost (I blame the closed captions), so I just kinda kept going.

I’m really enjoying my new show, and my new knitting. It’s coming along pretty well, and I think it’s going to be a nice little shawl/scarf when it’s done. Just interesting enough to be fun, but simple enough that it won’t interrupt my TV show (much).

Do you have a dedicated TV project?

And now, socks!

I’m continuing on my streak of “Finishing off projects that should have been done weeks ago if I’d only not been a doofus” with my newest pair of socks.

If you’ll remember, I had some special yarn from a trip to Austin. It’s a lovely gray-blue handpaint, super soft and cozy that I was really excited to knit with. So excited that I decided to knit up a whole improvised cable sock without doing a swatch.

And, exactly what you’d expect to happen happened.

The sock was tiny and depressing, too small for me to even consider wearing. I thought about making a second one to match and finding someone with smaller feet to wear them, but, well, I wanted to wear them.

So, after a few weeks in time out, I ripped out the tiny sock, lightly blocked the yarn to make it lose its kink, and went back to my original plan- Monkey Socks. I’ve made this pattern a bunch of times before, and I don’t know why I decided against it this time. It’s simple, effective, and super cute. Plus, they fit me!

I’m really happy with how they turned out. I did my favorite reinforced heel and made them a little longer than suggested, but they’re perfect for me.

However, I had a bear of a time taking a flattering picture of them, so you’ll have to trust me when I say they look great!

Do you have a favorite go-to pattern that’s always turns out the way you want?

Treasure

Something wild happened the other day.

I’ve been cleaning out my studio (because what else are we supposed to do while still on lockdown?), and I’ve been discovering a bunch of half-finished projects.  I found part of an afghan from 2013 (according to Ravelry), and two quilts in various stages of completion (one’s easily a decade old.  I think I started it when I first moved to Seattle…).

And, I found a baby sweater!  It was 99% finished.  The ends were even woven in.  It was so cute and tiny, and just was missing a few buttons and a block.

And I have ZERO memory of making it. I don’t know the yarn or the pattern, or when I made it or why. All I know is that it must have been made way before I had my kid, because it’s white.  And who in their right mind would make a white baby sweater?  Me, apparently.

But it’s so cute!

It’s got kind of a “1950s Letterman’s sweater” vibe and just needed buttons.  I went digging through my button jar, and found 4 different sets, two sizes of white buttons, and two sets of gold ones (eagles and lions).

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After a little debate between me and myself, I decided the lions were too perfect not to use.  They’re a slightly warmer color than the eagles, and just so ridiculous. (Unfortunately, they’re completely impossible to photograph.  You’ll just have to trust that they’re lions.)

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And so, with about 15 minutes’ work (plus blocking time, I’ve got an instant preppy baby sweater!

Now just to wait for someone to have a baby (who doesn’t mind doing laundry).

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Have you ever left a project unfinished for so long that you forgot all about it?

Finally Finished!

I’ve had a little run of… we’ll say “projects that haven’t been too successful.”  There were the socks that ended up three sizes too small, the woven scarf that took a left turn (literally) and the sweater that didn’t go to plan.  What with *vaguely gesturing* everything that’s happening, it just seemed to make sense that none of my knitting is working out either.  This whole spring/summer/year seems cursed.

Anyway, with all that, I decided I needed to finish something.  I have had my Stonecroft shawl literally sitting on my desk, looking at me for a good 4 months now.  It was basically done, except that I had lost yarn chicken while binding off the last 10 or so stitches.  I got frustrated with it, couldn’t decide how to fix it, and just… let it sit there.

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So, last weekend I decided NO! I’m going to finish something.  And it’s going to be successful, by god!  I ripped out a couple rows and re-bound-off.  (I had been toying with the idea of ripping way back to make the border wider, but I couldn’t bring myself to do that.  A decision I’m glad I made.)

And, within an evening, I had finished the project that had been sitting, teasing me for months.

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I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out- I’m not even mad at the slightly-narrower-than-called-for border.  It’s lovely, and I’m so pleased with how it turned out.

Of course, now that I’ve finished it, the weather has turned and I have no use for a cozy shawl…  But isn’t that always the way?

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Have you finished any projects lately?

Choices 2020

I’ve got a dilemma.

It’s a dilemma of my own creation, because I insisted on making a sweater without actually having a plan.  I should have had a plan.

I really should have had a plan.

Now I have… this:IMG_2909

Possibly the world’s least-flattering sweater.

Ignore the sleeve situation for a second, and let me walk you through what happened.

My original thought was to knit up a stash-busting sweater using the lace-weight alpaca that I’ve had in my stash for literal years.  I love all the colors, but haven’t had the time/energy for lace since… the early 2000s.  I actually knit up a swatch with the yarn held triple, and it seemed like it was going to work.  The first plan was to make a cropped, over-sized sweater, in the vein of the Love Note.  Super cute and trendy.

Well, I got carried away (a combination of quarantine blues and some good Netflix shows), and before I knew it, I had a hip-length sweater.  Not what I planned, but hey, that’s ok.

I tried it on.  It fit… well enough.  Even though I did a swatch, I forgot to factor in the inherent drapiness of alpaca.  It’s really kind of shapeless and droopy.  Don’t get me wrong… it’s real comfortable and soft, but not the most flattering thing ever.

It was time to tackle the sleeves.  My first thought was to just make it into a T-shirt- something trendy and cute, and something I could wear sooner than later with summer on the way.  I threw a quick short sleeve on the sweater.  I tried it on…

Y’all.  It was so wide across the shoulders (WAY too many raglan increases), that the armpit hits just a couple inches above my elbow.  It looks OK enough if I keep my arms down, but if I lift them up, I get a weird bat-wing look (and not in a good way).

So, I decide to make the other sleeve long.  I use my usual long sleeve formula,  and make it up in a weekend.

I’ve got big hopes.  I try it on.  Ugh.

It’s… fine, but way baggier than I hoped.  If I really want the sweater to be how I’m now imagining it, I have to rip it all the way back past the armpits and try again, and I’m just not feeling that now.

So, I’m asking you:  What should I do?

Long sleeve? Short sleeve?  Re-knit the long sleeve so it’s narrower?  Give up and walk around with one long sleeve like a crazy person?  Give up entirely?

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(Don’t mind my dog and my kid barking at the cars driving by…  It was a day.)

Have you ever gotten almost to the end of a project, just to realize you did it all wrong?

Still Sweatering

I had planned to write today’s post about my Lovenote Sweater that I finished more than a month ago, and that I really love.  Honestly, I’m not sure why I haven’t posted about it yet, other than that I forgot because of *gestures vaguely* all this.  I had really high hopes.  I was going to get dressed in something other than pajama pants, brush my hair, maybe even put on a bit of makeup to hide the stress zits, and have my husband take a couple pictures of me in my (not so) new sweater.

That was earlier this week.  Now, I’m just kinda tired, and don’t feel like it. It just seems like a lot of work to change my outfit.  You get it.

So, instead, I want to share my progress on my Quarantine Sweater.  I’m cruising along, a good 10 inches or so into the body.  I had been thinking about making this sweater cropped, like my Lovenote, but honestly I forgot I was supposed to stop after a couple inches.  So I just kept going.  Now we’re a stripe or two away from a nice long sweater. IMG_2852

I love how the gradient is turning out, though a part of me wishes that I’d gone through the effort to plan it out a little more carefully so that I just did one pass-through for the entire sweater.  And I think it’ll be a good spring-y sweater when it’s done (still, hopefully, in spring).

I’m currently thinking of making it hip length, or longer, but maybe with T-shirt sleeves.  Is that crazy?

(Though, if the sleeves go the way the body’s gone, I’ll probably space out and make them a good 6 inches too long…)

Quarantine Sweater

So, I’m putting my socks (er… sock) in time out for a little bit.  I can’t face ripping out an entire sock, and I can’t face knitting up a second sock that I know for a fact isn’t going to fit.

I also can’t really muster up the energy to dig through my stash and match up a specific pattern to the yarn that I’ve got on hand.  That just seems like way too much effort for right now.

I do, however, have just a ton of Knit Pick’s Alpaca Cloud lace-weight yarn.  Why? I have no idea.  I think the last time I knit with lace-weight yarn was somewhere in the middle of the Obama administration.  (Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice yarn, just not what I usually reach for these days.)

But, I finished my Lovenote (which I just realized I haven’t shared with you yet!), which was knit with finer yarn held double on large needles, which gave me an idea.  I set out my stashed Alpaca Cloud in a rainbow(ish) and started swatching on US10 1/2s.  (See, I learn from my mistakes.  Sometimes.)

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I decided that holding the yarn double made fabric that was still a little too skimpy, so I tripled-up, and came up with something that was light but fluffy, cozy but drape-y.

I busted out my favorite Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters by Ann Budd, and started on a raglan sweater.  It’s not fancy in the design; no crazy textures or lace, no weird construction, just big blocks of color.  I’m holding the yarn triple, so every block, I switch out one color, which has left me with a rather pleasant color gradient so far.

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I’d originally thought about measuring out how long the sweater was going to be and making the stripes even all the way down, but… meh.  Instead, I’m kind of just knitting until I get bored, then switching.

What will the rest of the sweater look like? Who knows!  Will it be long or cropped or somewhere in the middle?  I dunno!  Will it have waist shaping or tapered sleeves? Maybe?

It’s kinda fun to go into a sweater with literally no idea of what it’s going to end up looking like.  I always go from a pattern, or at least a sketch of what I want the finished project to be, so it’s a nice change of pace and a nice project to have on my needles in this weird, weird time.

What’s your quarantine knitting?

 

And this is why you swatch.

OK.  Mistakes were made.

I was all stoked last week about making myself a pair of comfy socks.

Mistake 1-  After going on and on about all of those lovely, tried-and-true sock patterns, I decided to go off script.  Why?  Who knows?

Mistake 2- I decided to make the socks cabled.  Why?  When have I ever made cabled socks that weren’t a disaster?  Never.  Cables are the best- I love them.  They make wonderful, dense fabric that’s extra-thick and cozy.  I don’t want extra-thick fabric on my socks.  They have to fit inside shoes.

Mistake 3- I didn’t swatch.  Like an idiot.

Actually, I kinda did swatch.  I swatched the pattern (with different needles and different yarn).  IMG_2820I was thinking about using the cable design in a sweater or something, but I decided after I was finished with the swatch that it would be better for a sock.  I still maintain these are very cute socks.  But compared to my usual sock gauge, they’re way off.

Mistake 4- When I first started thinking I’d made a mistake, I just kept going.

About 3 inches in, I thought “Huh.  These are looking a little slim.”  But did I stop? No!  That would have involved admitting defeat, and having to problem-solve.

Anyway, long story short, I have one sock.  It’s a lovely sock.  It’s tall and blue and has a cute all-over cable pattern.IMG_2828

And it’s nowhere close to fitting me.  I’d show it to you on my foot, but you don’t need to see that.  Just trust that the cables are stretched beyond recognition and it barely stretches over my calf.  It’s real sad.

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Now I just have to decide what to do next.  Do I rip it back, and go back to a tried-and-true pattern?  Do I continue and work up a second one in the same pattern, and give it away to a smaller-footed friend? Do I ball it up and leave it at the back of my WIP drawer until I forget how I made it?

All equally good choices, I think.

What would you do?

Hey! I finished something!

Y’all, I think I might have my mojo back.  Or at least partly back.  Or at least it’s back sometimes. Or maybe it was just back for a few afternoons last week.

Either way, I’ve got a brand-new pair of socks, and I’m beyond excited about them.

Right before the “unpleasantness,” my husband and I took a long weekend trip down to Austin- it was lovely, and feels like it was fifteen years ago.  And, as I’ve said before, when I go on a trip, I’ve got to visit the local yarn shop and get a skein (or two) of local sock yarn.  Some people collect shot glasses, some collect tiny spoons.  I collect locally-dyed sock yarn.

We went to Hill Country Weavers and I picked up two lovely skeins of Chasing Rabbits Fiber Company Fern yarn- which is a really lovely, buttery-soft sock yarn.  I got one skein in purple and one in grey/turquoise.  They’re both lovely, and I forgot to take pictures of the skeins before I broke into them.  Oh well.

Anyway, I got impatient and started knitting my purple socks on the airplane ride home.(Remember airplanes?  Those were fun…) I happened to have the ebook of Splendid Soles on my phone (I have a pattern in the collection, so I’d downloaded it at some point for work).  So, I picked a pattern and… Tada!

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The pattern is Textured Lace Socks by Lori Wagner, and I love it.  It was complicated enough to keep me engaged, but logical enough to let me memorize the lace after a couple repeats.   Unfortunately the hand-dyed-ness of the yarn kind of hides the lace pattern (especially in pictures), but it’s so pretty, I kind of don’t mind.

I’ll be honest, I pretty much stopped following the pattern as written once I got to the heel, but that’s because I like to knit my heels and toes in a particular way, so I just did what I usually do, continuing the lace down the top of the foot.

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I couldn’t be happier with them.  And they’re just what I needed this week.  Nothing to make you feel cozy and content like a pair of new socks.

What are you working on to make yourself feel better?

It’s So Fuzzy!

Oooh, y’all!  This sweater is going to be amazing!

I flew through the yoke (that lace panel was fun!), and I’m cruising through the body (I’m still not sure if I want it to be cropped or not… but I’ve got a couple inches before I have to decide).  IMG_2720.JPG

I’ve gotta say, the neckline looks wild (it looks wide enough to be a waistband!).  But, I’m trusting the pattern.  It has you pick up the provisional cast-on and work the neckline ribbing with much smaller needles, which should make the sweater look more like a sweater and less like a caftan.  Fingers crossed that it turns out the way I’m hoping it will.

But I kinda don’t care how the finished sweater looks, because I just can’t get over how fuzzy and soft and glow-y this fabric is.  I wish you could reach through the computer and pet this yarn.  The combo of the heavy/drapey fingering weight bamboo and the fluffy silk/merino is just a delight.  Honestly, the reason that I haven’t already finished this sweater is that I keep pausing my knitting to pet it.  It’s really becoming a problem.

What is the project that you’re most excited about right now?