Tag Archives: knitting

My Favorite Distraction

Please indulge me for a minute while I get sappy.

It’s my prerogative, after all, to get sappy when my BABY TURNS ONE! This is ridiculous. He can’t be one!  I still only half-believe that I have a baby at all.

It seems like yesterday he was just a tiny little nugget, wearing his tiny Captain Picard sweater.  But he grew (and is still growing) so fast, he barely fit into it a month after he was born. (Pro Tip: never actually make the “newborn” size for babies.  They fit for about fifteen minutes.)IMG_20180423_163616976He put up with my ridiculous knitwear designs and questionable color choices.  (Although, to be fair, I put this sweater on him the other day, and while it’s still not the best sweater I’ve ever made, it’s much less ridiculous now that it kind of fits.)IMG_20181106_164347481He posed for Christmas pictures with my Arne and Carlos Christmas balls (which he was a big fan of).  And look at that poofy hair!  I miss that hair.  It’s gotten too long to stand up on its own now.IMG_20181128_084112346He got over his dislike of hats (most of the time).  He’ll even happily wear his hat if it means going out to our favorite diner for pancakes.IMG_20181209_090601434_HDRHe wore the heck out of this adorable little fair isle sweater while he learned to crawl.  It’s a little small on him now- it’s hard getting it over his GIGANTIC HEAD, but it fits well enough once it’s on, so I only break it out when we’re both in the mood for a wrestling match.IMG_20181210_161920040And now he’s ready to go on adventures!  (Ollie is less than enthused about adventures.  He’d rather be comfy at home .)IMG_20190226_112451188It’s been a crazy year of knitting (and not knitting).  The boy is definitely cutting into my knitting-and-blogging time, but I don’t mind (most of the time).  I can’t believe we’re already a year in!  It seems like just yesterday I was wrestling him into his first sweater.

(Thanks for bearing with me.  And, don’t worry, I’ll be back to my regularly-scheduled knitting programming next week!)

Burnout (or how I learned to stop worrying and just procrastinate more)

Y’all.  Sometimes being a “professional knitter” is hard.  (Disclaimer: I know that as far as “hard jobs” go, Professional Knitter is pretty low on that list.  Just bear with me as I throw myself a little pity party.  I promise I’ll be back to myself soon.)  Sure it’s not “I’m a doctor and I hold people’s lives in my hands” hard, or “I’m a cop and I put my own life on the line to keep people safe” hard, or even “I’m a construction worker and am constantly doing backbreaking labor” hard.

I think that anyone who takes their absolute favorite hobby and tries to turn it into a real job will understand what I’m saying.  No matter how delightful your job is day-to-day, there’s always something super practical and kind of crappy that you have to deal with.  There are deadlines, paperwork, and (sometimes rude) customers, and (if you’re me) having to deal with the fallout when I say “yes” to one too many projects.  And when your job is also your hobby, you can’t be really go do your hobby to decompress.

Lately I’ve been less than in love with my knitting.  I’ve been designing and writing up two sweaters, which will be lovely when they’re done, but I’m beyond done with knitting them right now.  I even put down one of the prototypes mid-knitting, which I never do- I do my very best to be diligent with my design process.  But, I just can’t make myself pick it up again right now.

And instead of the sweaters I  should be working on, I’ve been plugging away at the wedding blanket for my brother.  It’s turning out wonderfully, but I’m realizing that I greatly miscalculated both the amount of yarn that I’m going to need for it and the amount of time that it’ll take to work up.  So, maybe this will end up being a First Anniversary blanket instead of a Wedding Blanket. Sigh…

Anyway, all of that is to say that I’m itching for a fun, simple, and above all quick project.  Something that I can bang out in an evening or during the kid’s nap time.  Something that doesn’t have a deadline or even a purpose.

Maybe something like a pile of soft knitted balls.  Why? Why not!  For anyone in particular? Maybe my kid! Maybe my dog! What yarn should I use? I donno! Whatever I have laying around!

Knit Ball Pit by Anna HrachovecIMG_7316_medium2

Or I could make a little tiny doll for my kiddo!  Does he like dolls?  No! Has he ever shown any interest in any stuffed animal? No! Are these guys too cute for me to really care? Yes!

Pretty Izzy Dolls by Esther Braithwaiteprettypinkizzydolls_medium2

Would he like them better if they were little animals instead of little people? Doubtful!  Do I find these guys even more charming? Yes!

Forest Friends Dolls by Esther BraithwaiteIMG_6929_medium2

Should I really lean into  the whole “making something for absolutely no reason except it makes me smile” thing?  Yes! Do I actually care about cats? Not particularly! Is this cat stinking adorable? Yes!

Tiny Parlor Cat by Sara Elizabeth KellnerIMG_3331__2__medium2

Don’t get me wrong, every day I’m surprised and pleased and grateful that I can say that for my job, I’m a Knitter.  It’s just one of those weeks that I’m sure everyone gets.  I’m going to go make myself another cup of coffee, dig out some scrap yarn and work up a silly little project or two.  And, once that’s done, I’m sure I’ll be back to making ridiculously gigantic projects at ridiculously tiny gauges.  Because, after all, that’s what I do.

Do you ever get burnt out on knitting? What do you do when the burnout hits?

Tradition! (Tradition!)

I’ve got Fiddler on the Roof stuck in my head and fingers itching to start my next project.  We knitters are nothing if not creatures of tradition (or, if you’re being uncharitable, habit).  Everyone has a story of their mother/grandmother/cool next-door neighbor who taught them to knit.  And everyone has a traditional project that they keep making over and over again.  (Mrs. Weasley’s famous Christmas sweaters spring to mind.)

For Christmas, I make socks (sometimes).

For new babies, I make sweaters.

For weddings, I make blankets.

I started this tradition back in college, when my friends started getting married.  I’ve done fancy blankets and simple blankets.  I’ve crocheted and knitted.  I’ve made them with cotton and acrylic and wool (depending on the weather in the recipient’s hometown and just how broke of a college student I was at the time).

It’s been a while since I’ve been to a wedding- now that I’m in my thirties, my friends are more or less done getting married and starting to have kids (which means I’m knitting baby sweaters instead, which is a heck of a lot easier).

But, I’ve got to get my blanket-knitting muscles going once again because my brother is getting married this summer! It’s very exciting!

Now I’ve just got to pick the right pattern.

My first instinct is to try something super-simple, and bang out a blanket as quickly as possible (after all, my knitting time is severely limited these days).

Garter Squish by Stephen West

8289449722

But, it’s for my brother!  My only sibling!  On his wedding!  It’s gotta be nicer than a regular old garter square.

I could break out a fancy pattern.  Maybe something lacy and textured like this:

Sweet Pea Baby Blanket by Suzanne MiddlebrooksSweetPea1_medium2

While that’s really pretty, I don’t know… it might be a bit too twee, even if I use a nice masculine color. Plus, that looks incredibly time-consuming.

I could go somewhere in-between, a simple 2-row texture, heavy on the garter stitch.  This chevron pattern could work, but I’d have to play with the colors- my brother’s not really a “rainbow” person.

Garter Chevron Blanket by Catherine AndersonIMG_0824_medium2

I’ll keep looking. I’m sure I’ll find something that’s casual enough for my brother and soon-to-be-sister-in-law (that’s a lot of hyphens!) to use every day, but nice enough (and maybe heirloom enough) for a wedding gift.

What are your traditional knitting projects?

Yarn Spotlight: Mad Tosh Farm Twist

I just got my hands on 8 big ol’ skeins of one of the newest yarns from Madeline Tosh, one of my favorite dyers.

And, I gotta say, I think it’s just delightful.

Farm Twist is a 2-ply, worsted-weight, merino wool that’s thick, squishy and super cozy.  (Right now I’m knitting it up into this cool garter-stitch chevron pattern on big US8s.  It’s unbelievably squishy, and I can already tell that it will have a great drape once my piece gets long enough.) 

IMG_1343Essentially, Farm Twist is a 2 ply version of Tosh Merino Light, which is one of my other favorite yarns.  Tosh Merino Light is, of course, fantastic, but it can have some problems with pilling, and while it creates a lovely, drapey fabric, it has very little spring (which makes it great for shawls, but not great for garments.  By plying two strands of TML to make this yarn, MadTosh can fix both of those “problems.”  Plying makes a stronger, springier yarn, not to mention bumping it up to a nice worsted weight, making Farm Twist perfect for cozy sweaters and warm blankets.

And, of course, it comes in all the luscious hand-dyed MadTosh colors you could want.  I love this colorway- Thunderstorm.  It’s a slightly variegated/tonal black/gray with undertones of navy blue.  It’s moody and masculine and changes color with the light.  It’s a subtle neutral, but more interesting than a solid black or gray would be.IMG_1332

I’m really pleased with this yarn (sure I’m only halfway through my first skein, but when you know, you know)!

Have you tried any new yarns lately?  What has been exciting you?

Gauge Gripes

Do you ever get halfway through a project and start questioning everything.  Why did I pick this yarn? Did I really need to make the extra-large version?  Why is there just so much stockinette stitch?  And was the pattern designer a little bit of a sadist?

I’m halfway through a pattern like this.  (OK, full confession, I’m barely a third of the way through, but I like to dream.)

It’s a top-down sweater knit on US3s with fingering-weight wool.  The shoulders were fun, with lots of color-work, but the rest of the sweater is acres of stockinette.  IMG_1311It’s going to be lovely when it’s done, but man, I gotta wonder about the sanity of the designer.  Who designs a men’s sweater on 3’s and 2’s? I’m currently working on the body, and each row has almost 300 sts.  It’s not even that big of a sweater.

Oh… wait… It’s my sweater.  I designed it…  whoops.

I just hope it turns out OK, because my fingers are going a little numb from all the thousands of tiny stitches.

(Keep your eye out for this pattern some time next fall.  In the meantime, I’ll be plodding away through this tiny tiny gauge, and dreaming of worsted weight yarn…)

When’s the last time you over-estimated your enthusiasm for a pattern?

Pattern: Hurricane Ridge Pullover

It’s been a minute since I have been able to say this, but, guys, I have a new pattern for you!!

Introducing, the Hurricane Ridge Pullover!52558220_02.jpgIt’s a super-cozy, extra-comfy, everyday sweater in the softest superwash wool you’ve ever seen.52558220_06I love this sweater, for real.  I’ve got one in a gorgeous deep red that is just a delight to wear.  It’s made with super-soft Provincial Tweed (which, despite my turbulent relationship with my last Provincial Tweed project, I love dearly).  It’s soft and warm,  and you’ll want to wear it every day.52558220_10The Hurricane Ridge Pullover is a super simple knit.  It’s worked seamlessly from the bottom up and features an asymmetrical split hem, raglan sleeves and a generous shawl collar (perfect for staying warm on cold hikes through the woods).

33576

(And I know, this post is kind of supposed to be a self-promotion post, but, dang if Knit Picks didn’t hit it out of the park on this collection.  It’s as if they designed a whole book of patterns just for me- so much tweed, so much texture, and so many cozy sweaters!  Definitely check it out.)

SNOWPOCALYPSE 2019

We’ve had a crazy mild winter this year- 40s and 50s, and more often sunny than not.  It almost felt like we forgot to have winter.

Well.  We remembered.

And decided to have an entire season’s-worth of winter all in one weekend.IMG_1270.JPGIt started snowing Friday around lunchtime, and kept on going all through the night, until we ended up with knee-deep (or at least calf-deep) snow blanketing the city.  We hit 9 inches on our back deck on Saturday morning!IMG_1280I know that as a transplant from the Midwest I’m supposed to go on and on about how “back in my day we’d drive in three feet of snow, uphill both ways, with our eyes closed, just for fun.”  But, I gotta say, I kind of love the Seattle way of dealing with snow.  Here, we don’t tough it out, we don’t fight it, we don’t shovel or salt or plow.  We just stock up on food when there’s snow in the forecast, call out from work and hunker down.  This morning, I’m fully embracing my inner Seattleite and enjoying the snow through the window, cozy with my knitting and a cup of tea.  Maybe we’ll go outside and make a snowman later, or maybe we’ll just stay inside until the snow melts.  IMG_1284Is there snow where you are?  What do you do when the snow hits?

Oops

I may have made a mistake.

OK, not really a mistake.

I may have over-committed myself.  Which, when you’re a Type-A overachiever like me, is nothing new.

I’m no stranger to “accidentally-on-purpose” signing up for just one too many activities, and making one too many entries on my to-do list.  And, well, I did it again.

I can’t give you too many details, because it’s all very secret, but I’m currently working on not one, but two new designs.

They’re both lovely (if I say so myself), but they’re both due mid-Februrary, and they both require a lot of prototyping.

(And one is knit on US3s.  Who designs a sweater on US3s?! Honestly?!  Oh… Right…)

IMG_1268Anyway, the kid is napping right now, so I’m going to take advantage of the quiet and hop back on the couch and get in a little speed-knitting.

Keep your fingers crossed for me!  It’s going to be a busy couple weeks!

Have you ever over-committed with your crafting?  What happened?

Quick and Finished!

You guys know I’m a big sweater knitter.  I love a great big, weeks- (or months-) long project that I can really sink my teeth into.  And if it’s a pattern that I’m making up as I go along, and documenting the whole thing, even better!

But sometimes, there’s nothing better than finding a great pattern and banging out a project in a little over a week.

This little cowl is one of those projects.

img_1248

It’s finished!  And it’s super cute!

It’s not perfect (the decreases are a little weird, and I don’t love how the CO edge pulls a little, compared to the super-stretchy brioche fabric), but I don’t mind.  The pattern was quick to work up, and the finished object is cute and totally wearable.  It was a super fun little knit.  I’m not going to say it was “easy”, but once I got my brain around the whole brioche thing, it was pretty straightforward.

img_1254

One thing I really love is how it’s totally reversible!  The big color-blocks on the right side are fun, but I kind of love the way the contrasting colors peek out between the bright blue ribs.  (It’s even prettier, and more glow-y in person!)

img_1259

This is definitely a piece that I intend to wear a lot in the future!

Have you finished up any fun, quick projects recently?

A Little Something New

It’s been a while since I tried something truly new in knitting.  I’ll try a new cable or stitch pattern, but even the most complicated stitch pattern still just uses a combination of the same handful of stitches.  And I’m not afraid to try a new pattern or come up with a new design, but it’s all really just putting the same stitches in different order.  I’m not complaining, I love my usual knitting, but none of that is really a new skill.

So I decided to try something that’s truly new to me.  Brioche!  (This isn’t a tutorial about brioche knitting- I’m not even finished with my first piece, so I’m very much not an expert!) Brioche is super cool! It’s knitting, but its stitches are just different enough from regular knits and purls that it’s a little tricky.  It took me a few evenings to really get the feel of it.  The finished product ends up with a sort-of two-color ribbing, and is seriously fluffy.  It’s kind of magical.

I browsed Ravelry and found the Fingering Brioche Bandana Cowl by Lavanya Patricella.  It looked simple enough and like something I’d actually wear.  (These days with a very grabby kid, long scarves and shawls aren’t terribly practical, but my neck is still cold!)fingerbandanacowl01I pulled out those mini-skeins of Tosh Merino Light, fired up Google to look for instructions, and after a few false starts, I was cruising along. img_1234I love how the royal blue peeks through to the outside of the cowl, and I love how squishy the fabric is!img_1236(Though I might actually like the “inside” better.  The color-blocking is a little more subtle, just peeking through between the ribs of blue.)img_1240I’ve still got a way to go before I perfect my brioche knitting though, my gauge is a little bit all-over the place and my decreases are a weird and sloppy (though I might be able to block them out a bit).  At least I have a reason to keep practicing!img_1247Have you tried any new techniques lately?  What were they? How did it go?