Category Archives: On My Needles

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.

Project Tea Cozy- Finishing Up

It’s done!  Woo! My tea pot isn’t naked any more!

I finished up the top of the tea cozy last week, working it just like the top of a hat.  This week I’ll start by working the spout opening the same way I would work the thumb on a mitten.  I transferred the 12 reserved stitches (saved on my stitch holder/safety pin) to my dpns, then picked up and knit 4 stitches in the little cast on edge.  I then worked a little 2×2 ribbed cuff around the spout and bound off.  Easy!img_3389Then I sewed up the bottom of the handle hole (I still need a better name for that), so now it fits snugly on my tea pot without me having to safety-pin it in place.img_3402But, you know what… It looks a little… sad?  Like it’s missing something.

Something like a pompom.

So I made a nice, tight 2″ pompom with bits of all 7 colors and sewed it on top.  img_3667Perfect!  It’s all finished and ready to go out on its maiden tea voyage!  I can’t wait.

And, next week, I’ll write up the pattern in a nice finished form and you can make yourself a tea cozy!

(And, don’t forget!  I’m giving away a copy of Knit Picks’ new Garter Ridge collection on Friday!)

Dress Up Time!

I finished my dollimg_3647She’s got little crocheted ears and a dopey smile (I was trying for a non-dopey smile, but this was the closest I could get).  She’s super cute, and sits on my desk.  She just needs a name… any recommendations?

And, we (OK, I) did a little fashion show this morning!  I didn’t want to start on the doll before the class last weekend, so instead, I made a bunch of clothes while I was waiting.

love this little ensemble.  The cardigan is made with vintage mother-of-pearl buttons from my grandmother’s button collection, and I think this skirt is my favorite garment. (I kind of want one for myself).  It’s covered with bugs!img_3650The next outfit features an oversized color-worked turtleneck and slightly-too-short wide-leg trousers. (Unfortunately, the turtleneck on this one is almost impossible to get over my doll’s head- Oops! Next time, I’ll make the neck with larger needles.)img_3589This more fitted sweater has the same problem as the yellow turtleneck (or maybe my doll just has a really big head?), but I really like the touches of Fair Isle around the edges.  I might even make myself something similar (but with a big enough neckhole).img_3604I’ve got a big bag of yarn in every color of the rainbow (except yellow, because I already used it up- oops!).  I think I’ll be making my doll a whole wardrobe! And, since she’s finished now, I can actually make clothes that fit her.  Exciting!

What should I make next?  What should I call my doll?

And don’t forget!  I’m holding a giveaway for the newest Knit Picks collection, Garter Ridge on Friday!  Comment here to sign up!

Project Tea Cozy: The Top

All right, it’s time to close up the top!  After all, this is a tea cozy, not just a pretty rectangle with a couple weird holes.

I switched to dpns (because I didn’t have a short enough circular needle in the right size), and started working in the round.img_3373I did a few rows even, then decreased all the way around, once every 8th stitch.  I kept going, knitting one row even, then decreasing in pattern, making the decreases line up.

Once I got right to the top, I cut my yarn and passed the tail through the active stitches, the same way I would work the top of a hat.

img_3380Voila! closed up nicely!  If I wanted a smoother top (and less-obvious pleats around each set of decreases), I probably could re-knit it and decrease at a more relaxed rate, but I think I kind of like how the top turned out.

The spout is still pulling in what would be an uncomfortable way if this were a garment for a human, but I think that’ll be sorted out once I work the spout cuff, so I’m not worried.

img_3384The one thing I don’t love is that the handle hole ended up a bit too big- see that gap at the top of the handle?  I’m not a fan.

I mean, not enough to fix anything, but if I were to re-knit this pattern, I might change that.  Otherwise I’m pretty happy.

Speaking of pretty, let’s talk about my notes.  Because those are not even close to pretty anymore.  Observe:

img_3385

I don’t think there’s a line I haven’t scratched out or adjusted.  I think just about every number had to be re-calculated and each measurement ended up slightly adjusted.

But that’s how designing a new pattern goes- you’ve got to be flexible and ready to find and fix any mistakes, because there will be mistakes.

What do you think of this design so far- I’m getting close to being done!