Inspiration: Sweaters I Wish I Was Knitting

I’m really having trouble getting inspired about knitting these days. Or at least I’m not feeling inspired about my knitting.

Like I said last week, I’ve run through most of the fun yarn in my stash, or at least the easy-to-repurpose yarn. Just about all the sweater-quantities have been used up, and I’m even running low on groups of the same yarn base in different colors. Sure, I could cobble together little bits and bobs of different yarns into a sweater… but that’s a lot of effort. And who knows how that’d turn out.

It’s been waaaay too long since I set foot in a yarn store. All I want to do is go to my LYS to pick out a new, fancy sweater pattern and go a little wild picking yarn, spending way too much time agonizing about color and texture, only to go home with the same oatmeal-colored wool that I always gravitate toward.

Sigh.

(Also, as I write this, I’m 2 weeks out from having a newborn in the house, so starting a new fancy sweater is an utterly stupid idea. Which isn’t to say that it will stop me.)

Anyway, I figured that instead of starting a new pattern, I might just write about the patterns I wish I were knitting.

First up: A sweater I find utterly beautiful, and one (if I’m being honest) I would never actually work up (baby and pandemic notwithstanding). It’s utterly gorgeous- those colors! I would be so tempted to pick different colors, which would take about 30 hours of me second-guessing myself the whole time. I mean, it uses 14 (FOURTEEN!) different colors. It’s so freaking gorgeous. It would drive me up the wall to knit. Maybe I can find someone to knit it for me? Ha!

Foxthoughts Pullover by Hiroko Payne / The Hare And The Crow

As beautiful as that sweater is, if I’m being honest, what I’m really itching for is a big ol’ cabled/textured sweater. I really want to get my needles deep into a sweater like this. 5 (or so) different cables? Yes please. Lots of seed stitch? Yep. All-over texture? Definitely. Cool saddle-shoulder detail? Sign me up.

(Plus, it would look pretty great in my “signature” oatmeal/gray.)

Yule Sweater by Anne Podlesak

Or maybe I could combine the two. Why not have color and texture? Why not jump on the Shifty bandwagon? Heck, I might even be able to actually find enough scrap yarn in my stash to cobble together a workable version of this bad boy. Though, I shudder to think about all the ends I’d need to weave in…

Shifty by Andrea Mowry

I’ll get to go to a yarn store again some day, and I’ll get to knit a sweater again, too. It’s just going to be a minute. In the meantime, the daydreams will have to satisfy.

What are your current dream projects?

A Sweater-ish Cowl

I’ve gone through phases as a knitter. There was a while when I started knitting that I almost exclusively knit mittens. Then it was stuffed animals. Then socks. And lace shawls (for some reason…). Lately (as in the last few years), it’s been sweaters.

I love making sweaters. I’ve probably made a couple dozen over the last few years (more, if you include baby/kid sweaters). I find sweaters to be just the most satisfying project. I love everything about them, from designing them to adding details to picking yarn to thinking about the practicalities of their construction. I love knitting sweaters that are my own designs, and I love knitting sweaters other people have designed.

However, two factors are getting in the way of my sweater-dreams these days.

  1. Covid means I haven’t been to a yarn store in 8 months. I’ve been slowly draining my stash of any sweater-quantitates of yarn. Sure, I could probably cobble together a sweater’s worth of sock yarn or something, but… that sounds difficult. And annoying.
  2. As I write this (in late October), I’m less than a month away from the birth of my second kid. Which, needless to say, will cut into my knitting time.

So that means I’m making a point of knitting non-sweater projects.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t dream, does it?

This is one of my favorite men’s sweaters to make (and wear). It’s a super easy, FREE, cabled, comfy, pieced sweater. I’ve knit it twice- once for my husband and once for my father-in-law. I have since more-or-less adopted my husband’s sweater since apparently it’s “too warm for Seattle” for him. It’s the perfect “I’m having a day and just need to be comfy” sweater.

I kind of want to knit another one.

But instead, I’m going to hold myself back and use up the skein-and-a-half of Knit Picks’ Twill I have in my stash drawer to make a nice, cozy Ben Cowl. (I had hoped the gray-blue would have been enough, but it’s not quite as tall as I wanted. Luckily the burgundy looks nice enough with the blue, so we’re going to pretend it was supposed to be color-blocked.)

What other small projects should I work on? Do you have any favorite one-skein patterns?

So many stripes- so few ends

Y’all. I couldn’t be more pleased with how my self-striping socks turned out. They’re totally cute, totally functional, and totally done, with only a couple weeks’ work and the bare minimum of ends!

You know how I feel about ends (anti), and how I feel about stripes (pro), so these self-striping socks are just about perfect for me- the best of both worlds. I love how the little addition of slipped stitches gave the socks just a smidge more character than regular-old vanilla socks, and I’m beyond happy with how evenly the stripes worked out.

For some reason, I never really trust self-striping yarn to give me evenly matched stripes for both feet. It’s probably some weird deep-seated trust issues or something, but I always assume that self-striping socks will turn out as fraternal twins at best. But, look at these guys! They’re just about perfect!

Such a satisfying little knit!

What’s your most recent satisfying project?

A Variation on a Theme

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been feeling the need for a little bit of simple, soothing, sock knitting. Nothing fancy, nothing crazy, something just this side of total vanilla socks.

So, I went for a dive into my stash (because I’m still not comfortable going out to an actual yarn store, though I miss my LYS (and the outside world) dearly) and pulled out a couple skeins of the Felici yarn that I designed for Knit Picks last summer. I like the idea of self-striping yarn, but I always get bored just doing a stockinette sock, so I decided to do something just a little bit different.

I’m adding slipped stitches!

I’m knitting these bad boys up using my usual sock pattern/technique, but instead of going for 100% stockinette, whenever I get to a color change, I do a round of (K2, slp 1) around, starting wherever the color changes. I love how they’ve got just a smidge more character. And, they’re keeping me just enough on my toes that I’m not getting bored with them!

And, in case you’re worried, the slipped stitch rows are such a small percentage of the whole sock, they don’t change the fit on the sock (or at least I hope they won’t).

I bet you could use the same slip-stitch technique with regular stripes, too, but then you’d end up weaving in all those ends… and who wants that?

What have you been working on lately?

The End of an Era

In the light of all the wild stuff that’s happened this year (I’m not going to lay it out… you know what 2020 was), this isn’t a big deal. It barely even registers. It’s a tiny blip.

But, I’m still bummed.

My tape measure has finally broken.

I know, I know. Hardly something to write home about, but you don’t understand. This tape measure was originally my Mom’s. I remember digging it out of her sewing supplies and playing with it when I was a kid. It’s soft click-click-click as you pulled out the tape was just so satisfying. Then, I inherited (stole? Sorry, Mom) it when I went off to college. Since then, it’s lived in my knitting bag. I’ve probably used it every day (or at least every week) for the last 15 years.

It’s nothing fancy- it’s just a regular old tape measure you pick up for a buck or two from a bin at the checkout at JoAnn’s. But still, it’s served me well all these years, and I will miss it.

It even managed to survive my kid- I kind of figured he’d play with it too much or pull too hard on the tape and break the spring. But, no, it was me. I pressed the tape-return button the other day, and the plastic just broke right in two. I guess that’s what happens to plastic over 30+ years.

Because this tape measure was at least 30 years old. It was “MADE IN WEST GERMANY”, and West Germany hasn’t been a country since 1990. How’s that to make you feel old?

Rest in peace, tape measure. You served me well.

(Don’t worry about me… I’ve got at least 3 other tape measures. Not as good as this one, of course, but at the end of the day, they all measure the same.)

What’s your favorite tool in your knitting bag?

Happy Holidays

It’s Christmas this week, and you were totally going to knit that thing for your mom/sister/neighbor/uncle/whoever. And now you’re out of time and don’t have the yarn or the pattern picked out. Well, I’ve got the perfect alternative for you!

Instead of stressing, just have your recipient fill out this Knit-Lib (like a Mad-Lib, but knitting-themed), to tell them all about their new gift!

That’s right- why spend hours trolling through Ravelry and weeks picking out just the right skeins of yarn, when you can have someone else spend 5 minutes choosing random words to design your project instead?

Sounds like a win-win to me!

Happy Holidays!

Printable version here:

Coming out of hibernation

I haven’t been inside a yarn store since March. Which is a bummer. There’s nothing I’d like to do more than take a good wander and browse through a bunch of fancy yarn that I would never know what to do with. Online shopping just isn’t the same. (Which is wild. If, six months ago, you asked me what my least-favorite thing to do was, I would have said root canal, followed closely by shopping. Oh how times have changed.)

Instead of acquiring more yarn for new projects, I’ve been slowly working through my stash. It’s been kind of fun- a challenge to myself to see what yarn I’ve had hiding away for “someday.” I don’t think I have a particularly extensive stash (I’m not one to buy sweater-quantities of yarn without a plan), but but I’ve been surprised to see what I have found lurking around at the back of drawers and the bottoms of bins. And it’s been a good excuse to force myself to finish up projects that I had hiding in the back of my closet for “someday.” My quilt from the 2000s is done (ish). And I found this amazing half-finished scrappy project(OK, it’s not half-finished… it’s probably barely a quarter-finished, but still): a crazy scrappy crocheted afghan!

According to my Ravelry, I started in 2013. I remember digging out all the worsted-weight leftovers I had in my stash (and I mean all. There’s definitely some Red Heart, a little fancy-pants alpaca, and everything in-between) and made probably several thousand little round yoyos.

Then I crocheted around the yoyos, adding a round of white to turn the yoyos into squares. Each square is maybe an inch-and-a-half across… they’re very small.

Then I started sewing them together.

Then I got bored.

Well, I’ve got nothing but downtime this year (thanks Covid!), so I’ve dug this project out and have slowly started making progress again. It’s approaching baby-blanket size, but I’m nowhere near finishing off all the yoyos. If I had infinite time and patience, I’d keep going until all the yoyos were used up. But, I don’t, so this might just end up being a small blanket.

Or maybe I’ll get bored and throw it back in the closet for another 7 years!

Have you ever actually finished a long-stashed project?

FO #2

Hey guys! Guess what? I did a thing! I had a baby! He arrived at the end of November, and in my unbiased opinion, he’s pretty perfect.

Plus, it’s nice to have a kid in the house who doesn’t fight me when I try to dress him in seasonally-appropriate knitwear. (I swear, the big kid hasn’t worn anything warmer than a t-shirt in months… it’s 40 degrees out!)

The baby is a big fan of being snuggled, especially in his cozy garter-stitch baby blanket.

He likes wearing his big brother’s hand-me downs (and rainbow-colored bootees from Grandma).

And, frankly, my favorite thing about babies is that you can dress them up in ridiculous outfits, like this rainbow-sweater-pants-and-storm-cloud-ensemble. Too stinking cute.

Anyway, pretty pleased with this kiddo (and his big brother, who’s being very sweet about “his baby”). I think I’ll keep him.

And as far as this blog goes, I’ve got a few months’ worth of posts already written, so there won’t (or at least shouldn’t) be a break in the blog.

A little Christmas Cheer

It’s early, as I write this from the past (ooohh!), but it’s never too early to be thinking about Christmas. Especially if you’ve got plans to knit for Christmas. And boy, howdy, do I have plans.

Well, plan.

Just one. I’ve given up knitting Christmas gifts, because… well… it’s a lot of work, it’s stressful, and I just don’t wanna. Sure, I might make a pair of Christmas socks or a particularly special Christmas sweater from time to time, but I’m not doing the whole “everyone on my list gets a pair of mittens” thing this year. (And not just because we have a new member of the family this year.)

But I love a tradition, and one tradition we have is hanging stockings by the fireplace. We haven’t really filled them ever, but I love how they look, just as decorations, and I kind of love making them.

Plus, since our older kid and our dog both have stockings, it would probably be unfair if the baby was stocking-less.

So, I’ve dug the stockings out of storage, and re-ordered more Cascade 220 (thank goodness I actually kept the yarn tags from the last time I made a stocking, or I wouldn’t have had any idea about what shades of green and red to buy), and set to work knitting up a stocking for the little one.

Of course, I never took decent notes or wrote up an actual pattern, so I’m kind of guessing/using an old stocking as a general template. It’s simple enough for the leg of the stocking, but we’ll just have to see how it turns out… I really don’t remember how I did the heel…

And, while you read this, the baby will probably be born already (if there’s any justice in the world, anyway… I’m still a month+ out from my due date as I type this, and let’s just say, I’m ready to move on to the next phase of this thing), and should have a name. But, for now, I’m leaving the name blank, and will go in later with a little red yarn and duplicate-stitch in the letters.

It’s going to be so weird having 5 stockings hung up this year! (Assuming I can figure out the heel turn on this thing…)

Have you ever tried to re-create a project years after you made the first version? How did it go?

Big ‘n’ Little

It’s true. I think I might be that mom (or at least I want to be that mom). The one who gets matching clothes for both kids. Because I can’t get over how cute these two sweaters are.

(OK, honesty time. I’m actually that mom that hasn’t gotten her kid to wear actual clothes in over a week. PJs at night, and sometimes during the day, sure, but mostly he just parties around the house in a diaper. If we leave the house, he has to wear clothes, but these days, is anyone actually leaving the house?)

(Further honesty time. I haven’t even gotten the kid to try on his sweater. I assume it’ll be worn at some time. Right now, I’m just enjoying the idea that he has a new sweater that he will be wear at some point. Hopefully before he grows out of it.)

Anyway. I love the “fraternal twin” vibe these sweaters have. Essentially the same, but just different enough.

Plus, they’re cute, even if they’ll never be worn at the same time.

If the kid ever deigns to wear his sweater, I’ll be sure to share a picture. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

I’m sure the baby will wear his- after all, he won’t be able to fight back as well as the two-year-old. Yet…

Have you ever made a project that you half-knew would never be worn?