Category Archives: On My Needles

Bears, But Not Too Many

So, I made some resolutions at the beginning of the year, and I’m not doing a great job following up on them, if I’m honest.

My three goals were:

-Do more knitting “just for fun.”

-Knit at least 1 bear per month.

-Sketch more.

My sketch book has only a couple more pages filled in than it did in January, I’ve been knitting almost exclusively for work (which means I’m getting more design work- Yay!  But, I can’t show you guys my WIPs- Boo!).  And, my bear collection is a little pitiful.I know!  Only a bear and a half, and it’s already approaching the end of March!  And neither one is stuffed! (And most of that half-bear was knit this morning when I realized how behind I was.)

I suppose it’s not a big deal, after all it’s just a goal, not a real deadline, and it’s just something I’m doing on my own.  But, still.  It’s the principle!

I just finished knitting another project for work, so I have a little time “off.”  I guess I know what I’m doing this week!

Are you still making Mother Bears?  What goals do you set for yourself, and do you do a good job keeping up with them?

Purse Socks

Last weekend, my brother and his girlfriend came to visit us up here in the Pacific Northwest.  It was my brother’s first time visiting us in years, and his girlfriend’s first time in Seattle ever!  So, we spent Saturday being tourists.  We visited Pike Place Market and the Gum Wall.  We ate piroshkis and drank cocktails made with local ginger beer.  We did a lot of driving.

Sure, the driving part is never fun, but when you’re showing guests around your city, you always end up driving a lot. And, that’s where your purse knitting comes in handy (unless you’re the one driving the car.  In that case, please don’t drive and knit).According to my Ravelry page, I started these bad boys back in January.  They’re going slowly, but that’s OK.  I keep one sock in my purse at all times, so whenever I have a little down time, I can break it out and knit a few rows.  I’ve worked on these socks in the car, waiting for food to be delivered at a restaurant, in the waiting room at the doctor’s office, and when I get to work before my shift starts.

These socks are perfect for piecemeal knitting- the pattern is super simple, there are no stitch markers to wrangle, no cable needles to lose, and no colorwork to worry about.  The overall pattern is just knits and purls, and there’s really very little shaping (just the usual heel and toe shaping that I could do in my sleep).  It’s a pattern I can keep in my head, without having to keep referring to a chart or a book, and it’s a nice dark color (so it won’t get grimy-looking from living in my purse for months).

I love my purse socks, and I’m excited for when they’re finished (though that’ll probably be in June, at the rate I’m going).  Maybe we should play tourist more often- I’d get more knitting in!

Do you keep purse knitting?  What’s your favorite “in a pinch” project?

Back to the Beginning

Sometime you’ve just got to go back to your roots.  You’ve gotta eat a bowl of Kraft Macaroni Dinner, or watch the Princess Bride for the thousandth time, or dig out that old, cozy sweater your high school friend let you “steal” from their closet.  There’s just something so meditative and lovely about going back and doing something comfortable once in a while.

Don’t get me wrong- I’m always trying new things, new food, new knitting techniques.  But sometimes it’s so nice to return to something easy, simple and comfortable.

And, I just so happened to have a gigantic skein of Hazel Knits the Big Squeeze in Electric Slide.  I got it at last fall’s Knit Fit, here in Seattle.  It’s gigantic, squishy, and hand-dyed in the most gorgeous shades of electric purple and hot pink.  You know I’m more of a browns, grays, greens, and blues lady, but sometimes I just have to go super bright and girly, and this is one of those times.

I hemmed and hawed about what to do with this skein when I first got it, eventually settling on “just leave the skein out on my desk so I can look at it.”  But I’m a knitter, not (just) a yarn buyer, and I needed something fun and easy to work on.

So, with such big, gorgeous, striking yarn, why not go old-school?  Why not remake everyone’s first project- something I haven’t made in 20 years?  Why try to fancy-up such an already-fancy skein of yarn?

Why not make a garter-stitch scarf?img_4667This yarn is crazy, I mean, just look at it- the yarn is as big around as a pencil!img_4650But, the color is what sold me on this yarn when I first saw it, and it’s still what makes me so happy every time I pick it up.  Just look at the magnificent dye-job.  I love it to death.

img_4645

I wonder if I could dye my hair that color…

Do you ever go “back to basics” with your knitting projects?  What are your favorite “old favorites”?

Christmas Balls

It’s snowing again!

The schools I teach at had a snow day on Monday, and a two-hour late start on Tuesday.  I can only imagine what’s going to happen now that it’s snowing again!  Maybe I’ll just get the rest of the week off (one can hope, right?).   (It’s amazing how much of a Seattleite I’ve become.  The first sign of flurries, and I go into full-blown hibernation mode.  Growing up in the Midwest, we didn’t change our plans unless there was a good 6″ of snow in an hour, and then we just drove a little slower.)

And what’s better than finishing up some of Arne and Carlos’ Christmas Balls on a snowy morning?

51jEZkkM8SL._SX379_BO1,204,203,200_[1]My mom gave me a copy of this adorable book for Christmas (thanks Mom!), and I’ve knit up a couple balls since the holidays.  They’re fun, quick, and don’t use too much yarn (though I did manage to run through my stash of red and white DK wool- I’ve got to order some more).img_4559These little guys are really fun if you want to practice your colorwork in the round.  They have dozens of different designs, and they even include a blank chart in the back of the book if you want to get fancy and design your own patterns!img_4576Of course, finishing is a little fiddly (but any small colorwork project is going to be a bit fiddly).  I sat down with the newest episode of Victoria and a cup of tea, and I had all three of these balls finished before the episode was over.

img_4601Now my only problem is that I want to make about three dozen more, so that next year my Christmas tree will be decorated only with these lovely guys!

Have you made Christmas ornaments before?  What’s your favorite?

Ugh!

I have a problem.

I think it’s a problem that a lot of knitters have.

I think I might hate my current project.

I loved it at first, and I’m sure one day I will love it again.  But, right now- no.

f00da97b-15f5-418a-ba13-aad234ccaf23I can’t talk about it in detail, or really, in anything other than the broadest, most vague terms (it’s a design I’m working on, so it’s all Top Secret, hence the very un-illuminating photos).  But, let’s just say there’s a lot of stockinette.

Like a lot.

Like, I’ve been knitting plain, purple stockinette for a couple weeks now, and other than a couple Pussyhats, I haven’t been able to do anything to break up the monotony.

When I started this project, I was super jazzed- I love simple, clean designs- there’s something so elegant about simple projects. And, I know I’ll wear the heck out of this project when it’s finished.

But… oofda. It’s a lot of stockinette.

I got to do a little bit of 1×1 ribbing the other day, and I just about got up and danced a jig.  I’m in a sorry state.6e96ba2c-468a-4b0a-b19a-f42b4ab60fe3My deadline is fast approaching, so one way or the other, I’ll finish up this project soon.  And boy, am I ready.

Have you ever taken on a project that was a little too much?  A little too much stockinette?  A few too many cables?  A bit too fiddly?

Christmas Post-Mortem: Another sweater

Guess what?!

I made another sweater.

I know, I’m a masochist.  (Or, maybe I really like making sweaters.)

This one was for my dad.  He’s a pretty classy guy- he wears a suit to work and if you see him in a sweater, it’s more likely he’d wear a thin, understated merino one from Nordstrom than something I’d knit (I do lean toward cables and bright colors, after all).

But he hasn’t gotten a sweater from me yet!  We can’t let that stand!

So, I got a big pile of Knit Picks’ Swish in Cobblestone, and broke out the “Knits for Everybody” book.  (I love a top-down raglan.)  I started making the sweater just as written- all stockinette all the time- but the smallish gauge and the simple pattern made me feel like I was knitting at a glacial pace.

So, I decided to add a little interest.

Stripes were out (Dad’s not a stripes guy), but I thought I could do a little texture.  I didn’t want to add any cables, since those can mess up your gauge, and I had already started knitting.

A little poking around on Ravelry, and I found Flaxsc-flax-08_medium1I liked the garter band down the sleeves (garter is my favorite).  So, I carefully ripped back a few stitches at either shoulder and re-knit them in garter.  And, because I love to embellish, I added garter panels down both sides of the body, too.img_4407The sweater turned out pretty well, and (I think) pretty classy, which is not something I usually strive for.

(Ollie thinks so, too)

img_4398Have you ever “fancied up” a pattern as you were working on it?  How did that go?

Christmas Post-Mortem: A sweater

Hey guys, guess what.

I made a sweater!

(Surprise!… I guess.  I make a lot of sweaters.)

This one was made for my father-in-law.

Last spring, he asked me to make him a sweater, and I have trouble saying no (or maybe I just like having an excuse to make another sweater).  So, I asked him exactly what he wanted.  After all, if I’m going to put all the work into a project like this, I wanted the finished project to be something he’d wear, after all.  We talked about cables vs. stripes, crew necks vs. V-necks, yoked sweaters vs. raglans.  We talked about ease and fit.

And then my husband brought out a sweater I had made for him years and years ago.  It was a Ben sweater, knit in forest-green Berroco Vintage.

My father-in-law took one look at that sweater and said, “That.  That’s the sweater I want.  Except… can I have it in gray?”

So, I knit up another Ben, this time in gray.img_3860I love the cable/texture pattern.  It’s a fun, easy knit that packs a big punch.  And it’s crazy warm, perfect for Northern Illinois winters.img_3854Unfortunately, I forgot to take a big “finished project” picture before I wrapped it up, but needless to say, it’s a pretty great sweater.

Have you ever re-knit a pattern for multiple people?

Christmas Post-Mortem: A hat

Christmas is done!  Hope you had a nice weekend.  We played lots of board games, and ate lots of cookies.  A pretty great time, if I say so myself.

But here’s the fun part!  Now I get to show off the gifts I’ve been working on over the last few months!

Let’s start with this cool hat I made for my brother-in-law!img_4099I knit with a very cool “intarsia in the round” technique that I learned at this year’s Knit Fit.  Basically, you cast on and do the brim just like normal (in the round).  Then, as you knit the top (multi-colored) part of the hat, you use really long short rows and wrap-and-turns to work the intarsia without messing up the order of your yarn.  So, you’re effectively knitting back and forth at the same time you are creating a tube that looks like it was knit in the round.  Super clever!

And, it’s got this cool top (which looks better when it’s worn):img_4102It’s dead simple to make.  You knit all the way to the top of the hat without any shaping (making it extra-long), then you seam the top to make the whole thing flat, then take the corners and sew them together.

Cool, right?

What did you make for Christmas?

Snow Day!

It’s a snow day!

Which doesn’t really mean much in Seattle, except that everyone gets really excited about the three snowflakes that land in the greater King County area.  It’s not sticking, the roads are all clear, and I sill have to go to work this afternoon (unless the weather takes a rather dramatic turn later).  I couldn’t even get a good picture of the snow, it’s so light.  But I’m still going to enjoy it.

It’s been so long since we had any real snow around here.  I had a real snow day four or so years ago, when I still had an office job.  They closed down the whole campus and made us go “work from home” for two days.  We barely had to do any work, and we still got paid.  It was great!  There was actually a few inches’ on the ground that time.  Since then, we’ve had sprinkles of snow here and there, just like today.  A little pretty snow in the air, but no accumulation.

But, today, for my snow day, I’m going to enjoy it.  I’ve got Christmas carols playing, and my tree is all lit up.  I had hot cocoa with my breakfast, and I have the first batch of Christmas cookies in the oven (meringues, so they’ll be a disaster in this weather, but I’m trying anyway!).  Ollie’s got the right idea, he’s been napping by the window all morning.img_4084I think I’m going to take the rest of the morning to work on my one remaining (unending) Christmas knitting project (I’ve only got a week or so left before I need to get gifts in the mail!), and watch a movie.  That seems like a good thing to do on a snow day.

What’s your go-to snow day activity?  What’s your go-to snow day movie?

Whatcha Doin’?

I’m curious.  What have you been working on lately?  A sweater for winter?  A pile of cozy hats for Christmas gifts?  Or are you knee-deep into a crazy lace shawl?

I’m well on my way through my Christmas knitting, but I still can’t really tell you about it (because several recipients  of said Christmas knitting read the blog).   Here’s a totally-useful picture of one of my current projects.a62381fe-e33b-4444-9ce0-d56e25f1362b I started really early this year, but I’m still on the edge of running out of time- I can feel it already.    But,  suppose it wouldn’t be the “holiday season” without the feeling of at least a little impending doom.

Anyway, I’m curious.  Am I the only one chugging away on Christmas knitting?  What are you making?  I’d love to hear about your projects (or see pictures!  If you send over pictures, they might end up on the blog, too!), so comment below with what you’re working on.