Tag Archives: knitting

Tip-toe

I’ve made it to the toe!  My socks are almost finished!  Woo!  There’s something just so satisfying about finishing a pair of socks (or any knitting, I suppose).

This morning, after dropping off my husband at his bus stop, I sat down to do knit a couple rows before grabbing breakfast.

And, well, I got a little distracted.  Let’s just say I got my breakfast a couple hours later than I had planned (which is saying something. I love breakfast).

I’m so happy with how the socks turned out, but I think my favorite part of making socks (and the reason I love making top down socks in particular) is sewing up the tip of the toe with the Kitchener stitch.  It’s one of those perfect knitting tricks that just makes me endlessly happy.  I know that a lot of people have trouble with the Kitchener stitch, and it took me a long time to figure out how to do it.  But, man, I love it now.

It’s like magic!

You start with a big ugly hole in the end of your nice sock.  Then with a few careful stitches,Then a little careful pulling,  (I know you’re supposed to keep your stitches tight when you do the Kitchener stitch, but for whatever reason, leaving them loose, then tightening them up afterward makes more sense to me.)And, voila!  A perfect, lovely toe!  I just love how the stitches disappear, looking just like your knitting.  Whoever figured out how to do the Kitchener stitch (presumably, Ms. Kitchener) is a freaking genius! Now I have to go weave in all my ends (my least favorite part of making socks).

Do you have a favorite technique?  Something that makes you happy whenever you have to do it?

Inspiration: Silicon Valley

Sometimes I search out knitting;  I go to the library and look through books.  I spend hours scrolling through Ravelry or visiting yarn shops.  I’m not complaining, obviously, I think it’s fun, interesting, and a pretty pleasant way to spend an afternoon.

But, sometimes knitting just jumps out of the weirdest places, without any warning.  For example, I was catching up on last week’s episode of Silicon Valley (episode 36, “The Keenan Vortex”), and BAM! Knitting!

Jared, my favorite character, the dorky business manager with a heart of gold, was rocking some great knitwear this week.  (There was a whole subplot where there was a cold snap, so everyone was getting out their winter gear, but Jared’s was my favorite.  Everyone else had boring ski jackets on.  Why wear a ski jacket when you can wear an amazing wool sweater?  But I’m getting ahead of myself.)

He starts out slow, with a simple ribbed-scarf-and-pea-coat combo.  Classic.I need a nice simple scarf- maybe I should follow Jared’s lead and knit up one of these.

Fisherman’s Rib Muffler in Three Gauges by Churchmouse Yarns and TeasThen he stepped up his game with a mustard sweater vest. Now, I’m not usually a fan of a sweater vest, but if I really wanted to stay true to the Jared spirit, I’d knit up one of these bad boys.

Nathan by Jones & VandermeerBut the best knitwear is definitely saved for last- Jared comes out of nowhere with this amazing cabled gansey turtleneck.  The guys on the show tease him for it, but I gotta say- I love anyone who can unironically rock a cabled sweater.  Those are my people.It’s not as great as Jared’s sweater, but this one’s pretty good, too.

59-6 Sweater by DROPS DesignHave your favorite TV characters ever shown up in knitwear?

Seedy

I’m working on a very simple project right now.  It’s a wrap/big scarf/narrow blanket.  (OK, really, it’s just a big rectangle, but sometimes I try to be fancy.)  It’s super warm and thick and lovely- knit up in bulky wool.  It should just be boring, but it’s so satisfying. I don’t know the last time I made something so simple.

It’s just a big ol’ rectangle of seed stitch.  (Seed stitch is alternating rows of k1p1 and p1k1.)  I’ve always loved seed stitch.  There’s something very satisfying about it.  It doesn’t roll, like stockinette.  It doesn’t shrink up, like ribbing.  It’s thick and poofy and squishy and warm.  And, I think, it’s just beautiful.  Of course, fancy cables and intricate lace are gorgeous, but there’s something perfect and pure about a big square of seed stitch.  It’s homey, yet refined, the same way a linen shirt is both totally casual and very up-scale.  It’s fancy without being fussy.

Of course it’s taking me a million and a half years to finish this project, but what’s new. It’s satisfying knitting and I’m enjoying myself immensely.  (And it makes great TV-knitting!)  It feels great to get back to my roots and make something so totally simple.

Do you have a favorite stitch?

Road Trip Knitting

Summer’s Road Trip Season, and this year I’ve got a bunch of trips coming up.  We’re flying to California to visit friends, we’re driving to Mt. Rainier with my folks and we’re going to a family reunion waaaaay up in the Upper Penninsula of Michigan.

Of course, we’re not doing all this at the same time (we do have to work, after all).  But, I want to get ready for all that car/plane downtime.  That means stocking up on Dramamine, filling my Kindle with new books, and planning out some simple-yet-interesting knitting projects.

I’m a big fan of socks as travel knitting.  They’re small enough to fit into a purse or cary-on, but take long enough to fill up a whole week of travel.  And, other than turning the heel, they’re easy enough that you don’t really have to focus on what you’re doing.

They’re the best!

Anyway, I dug into my stash, and found a bunch of little ends of sock yarn.  So, I was thinking of doing something to use up that yarn.  Stripes seem too boring, and colorwork would make me carsick (simple is the name of the game, after all).

I poked around on Ravelry, until I found these beauties!

Broken Seed Stitch Socks by Hanna LevaniemiHer original pattern (it’s not a formal pattern, exactly, more like a design suggestion that I can use with my standard Socks by the Numbers pattern) uses a lovely cream color with a pretty variegated yarn. The little stripes combined with the knit/purl pattern make the colors blend together really nicely.

But, what I really love is the idea that Ravelry User mckr had.  Stripes!  But when the stripe colors are mixed with the background color, the whole thing looks gorgeous and cohesive.So, I picked out six mini balls of leftover sock yarn, and a full 50g skein of a lovely navy blue.  I think they’ll look great together.  (One of the mini-skeins even has sparkles!)

I’m making myself wait until our road trips are officially going before I start knitting these bad boys.  Vacation can’t start soon enough!

Are you looking forward to any upcoming projects?

 

Inspiration: Ukulele

For my thirtieth birthday, I decided to splurge and get myself a birthday present.  And what did I pick out?  Something practical?  Something yarn-related? Something that I knew I’d use?

Of course not.  Instead, I got myself a ukulele!  A baritone ukulele, actually (which sounds like a guitar, but is small and easy to play, like a uke).

I’ve been slowly teaching myself how to play over the last year and a bit.  I’ve learned a couple handfulls of chords, and I know a few songs (unfortunately, I’m a fairly terrible singer, so singing where anyone other than my dog can hear me is right out).  When my dad visits, he brings his bass and we play together.  And over the last couple months, I’ve been playing with a ukulele group in Seattle (It’s me and a bunch of old hippies/baby boomers.  We meet in a park once a week and play old standards…  it’s silly, but pretty fun).

I’m not going to be going professional with my ukulele playing, but I’m having a great time learning a new skill- I’ve never really played a stringed instrument before (I tried to learn guitar in high school… it went… poorly).  And, I think it’ll make a good excuse to visit Hawaii again.

In celebration of my new hobby, let’s look at ukulele inspired knits!

I stole the strap from my old guitar to put on my ukulele, but I really like the idea of making a strap myself.  I think it should be in a cute, tropical color!

Ukulele Strap by Lise GrayYou guys know I love tiny things, so of course I’d love a tiny ukulele (which are tiny to begin with, so a mini one must be super tiny)!

Melee Ukulele or Guitar by Mad Crochet ScientistIt gets a little chilly, playing in the park in the evenings, even in June.  So maybe I should make myself a Hawaiian-themed blanket to keep me cozy when I’m playing with my uke group.

Hawaiian Flowers by Sarah London

Have you been learning any new skills lately?  Do you play any instruments?

Bare Bears

It’s been a minute since I talked about my bears!

And… that’s mostly because I have kind of been slacking…

Well, not slacking exactly, but getting busy with other things, so I haven’t been working on my bears as much as I had hoped to.

If you remember, I resolved to make one bear every month, so that I would end up with a nice even dozen to send in at the end of the year.  So far, unfortunately, I’ve more or less been doing one bear every other month, then three bears last week when I realized how far behind I was.

So, at least now I’ve got six bears all knit up (except for one arm, but I’ll take care of that this afternoon) and ready for stuffing.

It feels good to be more or less back on schedule.  Unfortunately, now I’ve got to do all the finishing still…

I guess it’s time for a good TV binge-watch and marathon stuffing/arm attaching/face embroidering session this evening.  Oh, but they’ll be so cute when they’re done!

Are you making any Mother Bears?  How many have you got going this year?

On YOUR Needles

We’ve got some crafty folks up in here!

You guys sent me your current WIPS, and I’ve got to say I’m impressed!

My mom (who’s always got something fun in the works), sent me a picture of her newest knitted doll from Arne and Carlos’s book.  We took the doll class together last year at the Nordic Knitting Conference, which was super fun!  Mom says that this doll is going to be the brother of the doll she made in the fall.A reader, Yhenny, is making this pair of adorable lace gloves.  She made the Poison Ivy Wrap from Rilana Riley-Munson.  And, since she had a little yarn left over, she adapted the lace pattern to make matching mitts.  How clever (and beautiful)!And, one of my old friends, Jenny, is working on a little “Nevertheless, She Persisted” embroidery.  She’s a great embroiderer (is that a word… it doesn’t look right)- last Christmas she stitched a really adorable portrait of a family member’s cat.  So far, she’s done the outline of her letters, and then she’s going to fill in the lines with satin stitch.  I think it’s going to be really great.Thanks for sharing your projects!  I love seeing what you’re all working on!

Are you working on anything else?

Kids These Days!

I’m teaching a kids’ knitting class again this semester, and as always it’s a delight.  I had a second-grader finish a finger-knitted rug for her cat yesterday, and a first-grader make a pair of hot-pink loom-knitted legwarmers.  A fourth-grader spent the last few weeks learning how to needle-knit and then made a candy-striped headband.  The kids are super sweet and focused, and there’s nothing better than seeing students go from frustrated to successful!

Then there’s one…unique… knitter.  I’ll call her Molly- obviously that’s not really her name, because she’s a kid, so I’m not going to be putting her details on the internet.  That would be a really bad idea for so many reasons.

Anyway, I’ve had Molly in knitting class before.  When she showed up in my Fall Semester knitting class, she already kind of knew how to knit with needles.  (Kind of knowing is the most dangerous amount of knowledge to have.)  I refreshed her memory, and sent her on her way.  She was off, knitting up a storm.

Now, I’ll admit, I didn’t pay super-close attention to what she was doing.  First, Molly is a fiercely smart and independent kid.  She doesn’t want any help with anything if she can possibly avoid it.  I’d show her a stitch once, and she’d pull the needles away from me and scurry off to sit with her friends and go to work. She didn’t want me looking over her shoulder to check how she was doing.  And Second, the rest of the class was crazy last semester- there just wasn’t time to give her uninterrupted attention with 8 other needy kids.

But, like I said, she was knitting something that looked really great!  She made a big piece of stockinette that we made into a little buttoned pouch.  (I assumed she knew how to purl from when she had learned to knit at home.)  It was pretty cute!

Fast forward to a month ago.  My students this semester are a little older, a little more chill.  They need less help, which means I can spend more time paying attention to everyone’s knitting, instead of monitoring how much the classroom was being trashed.

Molly was looking super bored one day, and she had been really interested in a cabled project I had been working on the week before.  I knew she had the basics of knitting really down pat, so I offered to teach her how to make cables.

I had her cast on and knit a couple rows normally.  From afar, it looked great!

Then I sat next to her, to explain how to switch between knits and purls in a single row (you know, switching the yarn forward and back before each stitch).  She started working on her knitting, and I watched over her shoulder.

AND SHE WAS KNITTING FROM LEFT TO RIGHT!

Apparently, she had been knitting for almost a year without ever once flipping her knitting over at the end of a row.  In other words, she wasn’t holding her “old stitches needle” in her left hand and her “new stitches needle” in her right hand, swapping out the needles at the end of each row.  Instead, her right hand needle was always her right hand needle, and her left hand needle was always her left hand needle!

I was actually really impressed, and still have no idea how she was doing it!  (I even tried knitting her way, but couldn’t get it to work.)

We had a big conversation about flipping her knitting.  Though, she still asks me at the end of each row “Do I need to flip my needles now?”

The answer is yes, always yes.

(She’s actually doing an amazing job, and is even getting the hang of cabling.  She still has a little trouble managing the cable needle- she’s very tiny, after all- so I hold it for her, acting as a “third hand.”  I think Molly’s got a great future with knitting!)

Did you have any weird ideas about knitting when you were first learning?

WaHoo!!!

You guys!

Hey!

Guess what!

Blocking is the best thing ever invented!

Remember my Cursed Sweater?  (I really wish I could show you real pictures of it…  Some day.)  Well,  I think I finally got the curse to lift!  Woo hoo!

So, last you heard, I had finished the sweater, but it fit me… not great.  In fact, it fit me so poorly that I thought I had messed up my math.  I spent the week worried, going over the math again and again.  What had I done wrong?  Did I misplace a parenthesis or a plus sign in my spreadsheet?  Did I accidentally cast on the wrong number of stitches?  WHAT DID I DO?

It didn’t help that the sweater made me feel distinctly like a plump sausage in too-tight casing.

(I can’t show you pictures, but I can show you poorly-Photoshopped representations of the sweater in question.)

The collar choked me, the sleeves were a good 6 inches too short, the body rolled up on itself.  It was awful!Awful!

Well, I went ahead and blocked it-  I didn’t have much hope, but I figured it couldn’t hurt.

But, holy knitwear, Batman!  It blocked out perfectly!  It fits like a glove, the sleeves are the perfect length, and I can swallow while wearing it.  It’s the best!It turns out, I had blocked my gauge swatch before I measured.   So, all my math was based on a blocked gauge (THE WAY YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO DO IT!), but for some reason, my brain had completely forgotten how pattern designing works and assumed that I had just really, really messed up again.

Come on brain, don’t stress me out like that!

This sweater is DONE!  It was a slog, but I survived, and I have a pretty killer new sweater in my closet (where it will stay for the next six months, because summer just started here… sigh).

Have you finished any big projects recently?

Also, if you are interested in having your project featured on On the Needles, send a photo with a short description to knittingontheneedles@gmail.com!  (Any project is welcome- not just knitting!)

What’s On YOUR Needles?

I’m always sharing everything that’s on my needles (or in the case of the Cursed Sweater, I’m sharing what’s on my needles, then off my needles, then on my needles, then off my needles…).  It’s something that I like doing, obviously, or I wouldn’t keep writing this blog.  I love sharing my ideas, and my projects.  I love commiserating with you guys when something goes horribly wrong, and I love celebrating when something turns out better than I expected.But, I never get to see what you’re all are working on!

So, I was thinking it would be fun to start a monthly (or so) post series, about what you guys are working on!  I’d love to see your WIPs and FOs, and I bet you’d like to see each other’s projects, too!Interested?  Awesome!  Send me an email (knittingontheneedles@gmail.com) with a picture and description of something you’re working on, or something you’ve just finished and you’re particularly proud of!  (Or, you can tweet at me @on_the_needles, or leave a message in the comments section, if email isn’t your jam.)  And, of course, your project doesn’t have to be knitting- Are you halfway through a big cross stitch project?  Have you just started a crochet afghan?  Did you just put the finishing touches on a particularly elaborate sewing project?I’m sure you’re all crazy-creative, and I can’t wait to see your creations!