Tag Archives: knitting

Not Shopping

I’ve always taken a weird kind of backwards pride in my stash.  It’s not impressively large, or full of any really fancy or special yarn.  In fact, it’s usually quite the opposite.  I’ve always been proud that it’s pretty well under control.  I try only to buy yarn that I plan on using for a specific project, and I try not to start any new projects until I finish my current ones (within reason… I’m no superhero).

But, I was cleaning out the closet in my studio a few weeks ago, and, well, I realized that my stash isn’t as under control as I thought it was.

I’ve got quite a lot of yarn.

Like, sweater-amounts of yarn.  (Well, baby sweater amounts of yarn, at least.)

Which has made me decide to start on a using-up-stashed-yarn quest.

I began with two skeins of a gigantic mystery yarn.  And I mean gigantic.  It was almost more roving than yarn, crunchy, itchy, bright blue wool.  I pulled out some US19s (really, they’re more like vampire-hunting stakes than knitting needles), and whipped up a quick garter stitch bowl with short rows.  I love how it turned out, but I’m never working with such a big gauge again- such a pain!IMG_1001I’ve also been blowing through a big moss-stitch scarf.  I usually hate scarves (not sure why, when I’ll happily make a shawl or a sweater, or even a gigantic garter stitch blanket), but I’m enjoying this one.  And I think I’ll have enough yarn left over to make a matching hat!  Leftovers on top of leftovers!IMG_0985I’ve already picked out my next projects!  I’m going to make a Zagged Cowl from the green yarn. (I made one years ago when I wrote the pattern, but I can’t find the danged thing for the life of me.  Luckily, I’ve got another skein ready to go!)  The blue on the left, plus the mini skeins are all Madeline Tosh Light- I think they’ll become some kind of color-work, maybe a hat?  I’ve had the mini-skeins hanging on my bulletin board for years, waiting for inspiration to strike, and I think the time might be right to get to work on them.  And, the mystery purple fingering weight on the right- I think that will be a baby sweater, maybe in combination with some other little odds and ends of mystery yarn from my stash.IMG_1009It feels great to be using up yarn (and making room for more!).

Have you ever gone “shopping” in your stash?  What did you find?  What did you make with it.

It is the sweater that doesn’t end…

Yes, it goes on and on, my friend!  Some people started knitting it, not knowing what it was, and they’ll continue knitting it forever just because it is the sweater that doesn’t end…

(Lamb Chop’s Play-along, anyone?)

Yes, I’m still working on the never-ending Provincial Tweed sweater.  The thing is, it’s so close to being done, I can taste it.

Look!  Only 1 cuff to go!IMG_0956I finished the right sleeve (and it’s nice and long)…IMG_0960I worked up the neck a nice simple crew neck that fits pretty perfectly…IMG_0946I even finished the split hem…IMG_0970But holy moly, that hem is unflattering.  it’s like a big, ugly arrow pointing to the widest part of my thighs.IMG_0968And why, oh, why did I decide that a garter stitch border on a stockinette stitch flap would be a good choice?  It’s all flap-y and roll-y and weird and disappointing.

I guess I’ll finish off my left sleeve, then rip back my split hem.  I might come up with something more interesting, but right now, I’m thinking a nice long 1×1 rib hem to match the cuffs.  So much for my plans for a super-cool over-sized, positive-ease sweater or something complex and cable-y.  But, if I’m being honest, a simple pullover in a lovely, soft (and machine-washable!) yarn will probably get more wear these days.

I just wish it was done already!

Do you have any projects that just. won’t. end?

Finished Fair Isle

I finished my baby Fair Isle sweater!  And just in time, too, because my baby’s giant head is already threatening to outgrow the neck hole.  But, I suppose that’s most of the challenge with knitting for babies- getting the project done before they outgrow it.

Anyway, pictures!IMG_0760.JPG Here he is, beginning what I’m sure will be an illustrious career in knitwear modeling.  (He looks a little grumpy because he just got up from his nap and I immediately shoved his head through this slightly-too-tight neck hole.)  Otherwise, this sweater fits pretty well.  It’s even got some growing room lengthwise in the arms and the body.  Perfect!IMG_0817I love the way my speckled, variegated and hand-dyed yarns all play off each other, making the yoke look more complicated than it was.  And, of course, I love the colors. I think they look especially pretty with the boy’s bright blue eyes and adorable pink cheeks.  (But I think most things look especially adorable on him.)IMG_0806.JPGHave you done any knitting for kids lately?  How did it go? Did you manage to finish while the kid still fit in it?

The Scintillating Sweaters of Sabrina

I know, I know, I’m a little late to the party.  Everyone was talking about the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina when it dropped around Halloween.  I rarely stay up past 9:30 these days, and my TV-watching time has been drastically reduced, so I only just finished watching the 10-episode season.

I remember watching the original Sabrina the Teenage Witch when I was a kid (if the weather cooperated enough that we got got a decent signal… aaah the days of antenna TV), but I honestly don’t remember a ton of specifics.  I know I liked it, and thought that Sabrina was a super cool teenager.  And, of course I loved Salem the talking cat.  What middle-schooler wouldn’t like a show about a very cool teenage witch with a talking cat?

Unfortunately this new version of Sabrina doesn’t have any talking cat in it.  (Salem does show up, but he’s not in the show much, and he never talks- bummer.)  But, the show is fun, dark, and campy, perfect for watching late at night (or at 7:30, if you’re me) on a blustery November evening.

But the best part?  (Or my favorite part, anyway.) The sweaters.

The show is set in an unspecific east-coast state where it’s always about 40 degrees and there’s a little bit of drizzle- enough for a nice pea coat or a few layers of flannel, but not enough to break out the real winter coats and rain gear.

In other words, perfect sweater weather.  And Sabrina takes full advantage.

She wears fluffy angora turtlenecks that she somehow manages to make look chic.

Break out Sabrina2

You could break out some fluffy wool and make your own version with this pattern (plus long sleeves, of course).

Willow Creek by Justyna Lorkowska

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She rocks the dumbest of sweaters (in my book, anyway)- the cabled turtleneck t-shirt, and makes me want to make one. (Honestly, what’s the point?)Sabrina

It might be dumb, but this sweater is kinda cute…

01 Cabled Tank by Debbie Bliss

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And she even makes this bizarre-o button-bedecked cable number look like something that a very hip teen would actually wear.  (Or maybe teens are actually wearing this stuff and I’m just an old lady who has no idea what the teens are doing these days.)Sabrina3

Knit up this bad boy, and sew on a gross of color-coordinating buttons in-between the cables, and you’ll have something resembling Sabrina’s fun pullover.

Carrick by Martin Storey

Carrick_medium2

Whatever your thoughts on her sweaters, it’s worth your time to go check out Ms. Spellman and her Chilling Adventures.  (Just be aware that if you’re expecting the OG Sabrina, you’re going to be disappointed… that’s really not what this is.)

Have you watched the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina yet?  What was your favorite sweater?

Busy Busy Busy

I’ve been busy, designing and swatching away.  It’s been great!  But, I can never help thinking that after I finished a swatch, I should be able to do something fun with it.  I’ve got a bunch pinned up on the bulletin boards in my studio, which is nice.  But, honestly, most of them just hang out in a stack in my closet.  My mind is always chugging away in the background, trying to think of something to do with my leftover swatches.

And, over the last few weeks, I’ve been getting a jump on a new sewing project for the kid- a busy book.  Basically it’ll be a little book with quilted/apliqued pages for the baby to play with, and I plan on adding more age-appropriate pages as he grows up.  Right now, the pages are all basically just things for him to touch, feel, and put in his mouth (he’s only 6 months old, after all), but down the line I’ll add pages with fun things like zippers, flaps, velcro, etc.

For example, I made a sheep page with some leftover terrycloth.IMG_0567Cute, if I say so myself!  (Gotta start teaching them to appreciate wool from an early age, right?)

That got me thinking- how could I use knitting in the busy book?

I dug up an old sock swatch (I figured the smaller gauge would work better with the scale of the book) and got to work.  I machine-sewed two lines with very short stitches down the back of the swatch, and cut in-between them- kind of like this. (I’ve never steeked before, and I think this is about as close as I’ll be getting in the near future.  Scary!)  Then I took some iron-on adhesive and ironed it to the back of the swatch, cut out a sweater shape and ironed it to the background fabric. It was more or less intact, but the edges were fraying a smidge, so I ran a quick zig-zag stitch around the edge, and presto! an actually-knit sweater page!IMG_0577I really should have taken pictures of each step, but I really didn’t think it was going to work!

Now that I’ve done this once, my mind is spinning with all the knitting-as-applique possibilities!

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve done with your knitting?

Best Laid Plans

I don’t usually show you my “in progress” designs.  Usually, that’s because either: 1. I’m under contract to keep them under wraps.  Or 2. I’m so excited with how the pattern is turning out that I want to keep it a surprise and unveil it when it’s all shiny and finished.

Which means that you guys only ever see it when projects are finished and I’m happy with them.  (To be fair, most projects that I’m unhappy with never even get finished.  I usually bail halfway through and rip out the yarn to use in some other project.)

But this time you guys get to see a pattern from the Island of Misfit Sweaters!

I was so excited about this design- I was even excited enough that I decided to go ahead and knit it up and write up a pattern, even though my original design wasn’t picked up by publishers.  I was sure I knew better!  It was so cute in my mind!  It was an interesting knit!  It was small enough that it wouldn’t take much time!

Well, maybe I was in a haze of baby-brain/sleep-deprivation when I decided to go on with writing the pattern, but man was I wrong.

This pattern was doomed from the outset.

  1. The colors I picked were not good- two shades of green and a weird yellow-brown? What was I thinking? Was this 1972?IMG_0498.JPG
  2. The design that I thought was so clever was actually just overly complicated and a pain in the neck.  (Why make a sweater the time-tested, easy, simple way I’m familiar with, when I can break out the provisional cast-ons, short rows, and three-needle bind-offs?)IMG_0502.JPG
  3. I had intended the sweater to fit my kid (he’s already grown out of all the sweaters I made him before he was born- he’s a Robust German Baby).  I did the math wonky, and I think this sweater will fit him when he’s about 4 years old.  Look how long it is! And those sleeves!!!IMG_0504.JPG
  4. And, speaking of math, all that math I did to write this pattern… I lost it somewhere along the way.  Maybe I did the math in a fever dream… Maybe I got some sort of virus that only deletes bad patterns… Maybe I just forgot to save.  We’ll never know.

So, in summary.  Here’s a picture of the sweater that is not to be.  You won’t be seeing a pattern for this bad boy.  You might see my kid wearing it in a few years, or you might see me unravel it and knit it into something else (but probably not).  IMG_0506.JPGIt was a good idea, but some ideas aren’t really meant for this world.  Sigh…

Have you ever had a great idea that ended up going really, really sideways?  What happened?

Guesstimates

I’ve been knitting for decades.

I’ve been knitting sweaters for almost as long.

I’ve been designing my own patterns for close to 10 years, and professionally writing patterns for more than 5 years.

And no matter how I try, I still can’t accurately estimate how much yarn I need for a project.

Example 1A: My Provincial Tweed Sweater.IMG_0331I’ve been working on this bad boy for a while now, off and on over the last few months.  I’ve gotten the body done to about hip length (it still needs the nice long ribbed hem that I have planned for it).  It’s currently 15″ from the underarm.  A nice, generous length for a sweater.IMG_0337I have used up 2 skeins of yarn to get this far.  I originally thought I’d use 10 skeins.

Now I’m thinking I’ll maybe use 4 skeins.  I’ve poorly estimated yarn yardage before, but dang… I was very very wrong this time.IMG_0322I guess everyone is getting blue tweed sweaters for Christmas.

Have you mis-estimated your yardage before?  How badly were you off?

In Defense of Garter Stitch

I was dinking around the internet the other day, snooping in knitting forums and not commenting (because that’s what I do). I came across a post about garter stitch.

“Aha!” I thought, “Another garter stitch enthusiast!”

But, was I mistaken!  This poster had written up an entire diatribe on how garter stitch was Dumb, Ugly, and Boring!  Heresy! (I’d link the post, but 1.  I don’t want to start any drama, and 2. I don’t remember where I found it.)

I didn’t reply at the time, because other people had already said everything that I would have said (more eloquently, and with fewer “How dare you”s).  And of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinions.

Unless their opinions are wrong.

IMG_0293Because garter stitch is a fantastic stitch!  It’s cozy and warm and squishy.  It’s incredibly meditative and satisfying.  It make fabric that’s extra warm.  It lays perfectly flat (perfect for scarves, blankets and dish cloths).

IMG_0315It’s simple to do.  And simple is not to say bad or ugly.  I think because garter stitch is often the first stitch that new knitters learn, it gets a bad rap as something that’s “just for newbies.” I’ve been knitting for over 20 years (which is crazy to say), and I love garter stitch more now than I think I ever have.  I’ll admit, there was a little while there when I looked down on it a bit.  For a while I thought if a pattern didn’t have crazy cables or intricate lace, it wasn’t worth my time.  But now, I have to say, I love going back to the basics.IMG_0284Which isn’t to say that garter stitch has to be basic!  There’s little I love more than a pattern with crazy cables running across a big field of garter stitch.  It’s squishy on squishy, cozy on cozy, and frankly, an unbeatable combination in my opinion.IMG_0298I’ve even been experimenting with variations on garter stitch!  I love how these garter stitch ribs break up what would otherwise be a boring swath of stockinette.

In summary, I love garter stitch.  (Of course, I also love ribbing and stockinette and lace and cables and twisted stitches and…)

Do you love garter stitch, too?

Inspiration: Dreaming of Pullovers

My love of pullovers is well documented, even if I haven’t said it in so many words.  I’ve written a dozen sweater patterns.  Only two of them are cardigans.

I don’t really have anything against cardigans, but there’s something just so wonderful about throwing on a pullover and being totally enveloped in lovely, warm wool.  It’s the closest I will ever come to my dream of it becoming socially acceptable to wear a blanket out and about.  Especially since the weather has started turning distinctly fall-ish around here, there’s nothing I want more than to snuggle up with a big, soft pullover, a book and a mug of steaming tea.

But, since I have a little baby now, (ahem) access is the major concern with all my outfits .  So, it’s cardigans for me for the foreseeable future.  (And cardigans worked exclusively in superwash wool, because… well… baby.)

But, I can still dream, can’t I?  I can comb through Ravelry and pick out all the pullovers I would totally be wearing if only I had the time to knit them up.

I love a simple, classic silhouette on patterns like this.  There’s nothing more versatile than a perfect, plain sweater.  As long as we’re daydreaming, I’d make seven of these in seven different colors/yarns so that I could wear a different one every day for a week. Heaven.

No Frills Sweater by PetiteKnitIngen_Dikkedarer_Sweater_4_medium2But, I might get bored making seven of the same plain sweater.  I could throw a few of these into the mix.  I love the twisted stitch details at the raglan seams and the cool, understated cable/twisted stitch pattern at the bottom.  It’s just enough to make the sweater a little fancy without being fussy.

Opteka by Isabell KraemerIMG_9756_medium2But, really, I want to make this sweater.  I’ve had my eye on it for years.  I think I even picked out yarn for it a few years ago (but then used that yarn for something else).  I don’t know why it’s so appealing to me- it’s just a basic, boxy raglan sweater with nice wide stripes.  (It has pockets too, which I like in theory, but I’d probably omit.)  Maybe it’s the 90’s kid in me; I do appreciate a good striped sweater.

Tea with Jam and Bread by Heidi Kirrmaierfullsizeoutput_a137_medium2If you could magically have a new knitted wardrobe, what would you include?  Lots of pullovers? Cardigans? Ponchos?

Swatch Swatch Swatch

It’s finally happened- I’ve used up all my buffer posts.  Sure, I’ve been writing posts this summer from time to time, when I have a minute (or when the baby happens to have a really good nap), but this is the first one I’ve written that’s truly going out in the present!  Which is good, really.  It means that I can just write about what’s on my mind without worrying about the order that my posts are coming out in.

And I’d love to tell you all about what I’ve been doing…

But I can’t.

It’s the eternal knitwear designer/blogger problem.  I’m all excited about my current projects, but I have to keep them under lock and key (or at least off the internet) until they’re published, well into next year.

I gotta say, though, it’s great to be getting back in the designing game.  I took a decent-sized break around when the boy was born, but I’ve slowly been ramping up my freelance work in the last couple months.  It’s great to be able to stretch my brain again in non-nursery-rhyme-related ways.

And while I can’t show you what’s currently on my needles, I can show you what was on my needles.  My swatches.

Swatching gets a bad rap, and I get it.  Sometimes I just want to get on to the project and get knitting.  After all, that’s the whole point of knitting, right?  Making sweaters and socks!

But when I’m designing, I kind of love making swatches.  They’re fun little samples- I think of them like little sketchbook pages, but made with yarn.  IMG_0142

I used to rip out my swatches once I had determined my gauge, so I wouldn’t
“waste” that yarn on the swatch. (I’m nothing if not frugal.) But over the last few years, I’ve been keeping them.  The ones I’m particularly fond of are pinned up on cork boards in my studio, and the rest live, stacked up in my closet.  Sometimes I like to go back through them, to see if there are any ideas in there that I should bring out again.

And recently, I’ve added something to my swatches that I think will come in handy down the line.  On the backs, I’ve been stapling a little tag with the yarn, needle size, and gauge.  So, in theory, the next time I want to make something with Cascade 220 Superwash, I might already have the swatch all finished and ready to go.IMG_0148

Do  you keep your swatches?  What do you do with them?