Tag Archives: knitting

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?

Pattern: Herring Cove Wrap

Hey! Guys!

Have you seen the new issue of Interweave Knits?It’s all about cables!  And you know how I feel about cables. (I’m pro-cable, if that was ever in question.)

Look at this wrap!  That’s an impressive amount of cables.Definitely something I’d make- I mean, come on!  It’s a massive wrap covered all over with intricate, squooshy cables.  Yes please.

Oh, wait just a second… look!That’s right! I’ve got a pattern in Interweave Knits!

I’d say it was a dream come true, except that I never really believed that I’d be able to do it.  I remember buying back-orders of Interweave in high school because I couldn’t afford to get an actual subscription.  It always seemed so fancy, so professional.  I always though “Man, those Interweave designers must really be experts.”

And now I’m one of them!  Hot dog!

Harper Point Photography and Interweave

I’m almost as excited about the pattern as I am about just getting it published-  The Herring Cove Wrap is a massive wrap- a gorgeous tangle of multi-strand cables.  It’s not for the faint of heart, but the results are totally worth it.  The example in the magazine is worked in delicious Shibui Knits Drift– an insane blend of cashmere and merino that shines like silk but feels like a cross between a kitten and a puffy white cloud.  (But if you don’t have hundreds of bucks laying around to blow on yarn, any soft, squishy worsted should work well.)

Harper Point Photography and Interweave

 

You can order a copy of the magazine (online or paper) here.  Or, take a trip to wherever magazines are sold!

Cruising Right Along

I’m making headway on my Provincial Tweed sweater.

But, I’m still not exactly sure what I’m doing.

(I once heard that the most interesting people were those that still didn’t know what they were going to be “when they grew up.” If that’s true, then this is going to be the most interesting sweater ever.)

I think I’ve committed to the “straight, tunic-length, and with an asymmetrical hem” option, but I honestly haven’t really spent that much time thinking about it.

This project has turned into my “I just put the baby down, so I might have 5 minutes or I might have an hour” knitting.  It’s been great to have such a simple project to pick up and put down at will.  No counting, no worrying about patterns, not even any dpns to lose in-between the couch cushions.  Just lots and lots of knit stitch.

About 10 inches of it so far.I know I’ll have to come up with some more concrete plans down the road, but for now, I’m enjoying just cruising along.  I suppose when it gets long enough, I might start doing some ribbing.  Or maybe start working flat to create a split hem.

Or maybe I’ll just keep knitting, and it’ll turn into a floor-length tank dress. (That sounds practical!)

Do you ever keep a super-mindless project on your needles?

Pattern: Modernist Dishcloth

New pattern day!  And even better, it’s a free pattern!

Introducing, the Modernist Dishcloth!It’s a simple square of seed stitch, with lovely blocks/stripes of color based on my favorite painting at the Seattle Art Museum.It’s a Mark Rothko and is named (creatively) “#10, 1952.” It’s a beautiful painting, and even more gorgeous in person.  I love the way the contrasting colors play against one another, and the subtle textures in each color block.  I mean- that cornflower blue in the bottom half of the painting… come on!

If you ever get a chance to visit the SAM, definitely check out the Rothko.  But, if you can’t make it, maybe try your hand at working up a little Rothko-inspired dishcloth.Grab the pattern here!

Electric Socks

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks (as you might imagine).  As I’m writing this, the baby is just about 4 weeks old, and has not quite figured out the whole I-should-sleep-at-night thing.  He’s pretty great though.  I certainly won’t be complaining (except about the being awake at night thing).

The biggest surprise to me, about the last few weeks has been that I’ve actually had time to get some knitting done!  (Mostly when the grandparents have been visiting, if I’m being honest.)  I even managed to finish a pair of socks!

I started these bad boys a couple days before the baby was born, with the intention that I’d want something simple and small to work on when I was hanging out at the hospital (what was I thinking?).  Of course, one of the first things they did was put an IV line into the back of my hand, so knitting was completely out of the question the whole time I was there. (Not to mention, I was having a baby.  What was I thinking?)

But, despite that, over the last almost-month, I managed to cruise through these socks while the kid was napping, being held, or otherwise engaged.

I love a good, sturdy sock, and these just fit the bill.  They’re knit up in Hazel Knits Artisan Sock in Electric Slide (one of my favorite brands and colorways), so I know they’ll hold up well.  I used my basic sock recipe, and decorated them with a simple knit-and-purl basketweave pattern- juuust complicated enough to keep me interested, but not so complicated that I’d have to anything as difficult as counting past 3.I did not, however, bother blocking them.  Because that seems like a lot of effort right now.  Perhaps I’ll block them later, but honestly, I think I’m just going to start wearing them.

Have you been up to anything lately?

Grumpy Old Man

We’re firmly in the midst of the June Gloom here this week.  If you’re not from Seattle, you might not be familiar with the June Gloom.  Think of it as Indian Summer, except instead of happening in the fall, it happens in the middle of summer, and instead of having surprisingly nice weather, everything gets gray and drizzly, and it doesn’t make it out of the fifties for a couple weeks.

I forget about the June Gloom every year, and just as I start breaking out my tank tops, shorts and sun dresses, Bam! It’s sweater weather again.

Not a big deal for me (obviously, I love a good sweater).  But, my kid was born at the beginning of April, so I assumed that he wouldn’t need warm clothes until he was quite a bit bigger.  I made one sweater that currently fits him, and did an “emergency” Target run to get him a hoodie that wouldn’t swallow him whole.  But, the kid has no hats!  (And no hair!)  He just looks so chilly when we go on walks (my husband says I’m projecting, since I’m always cold, which is 100% possible).

Anyway, I whipped up a quick little hat with some super-soft gray wool to match his little old man sweater.  It’s nothing fancy, just a bottom-up hat with a little ribbing on the brim and a simple crown.  Functional, soft, and warm.I took the boy outside to hang out under our apple tree yesterday afternoon.  The sun had come out, for once, but it was still a little on the chilly side, so I decided to bundle him up.  Sweater, sweatpants (baby pants are hilarious), and… his brand-new hat.

Well, at first he didn’t quite know what to make of it.Then he tried to take it off, but his hand-control isn’t quite there yet.Then he just got mad.So, I guess we’re just not going to be putting hats on him for a while. (And don’t worry, I took this one off right away, and he was soon happily looking at the tree branches and spitting up all over his sweater.)

Of course the knitter’s kid hates hats!  Dang!

Have you ever made something for someone that absolutely hated it?

Wheee!

Sometimes you just get cranking on a project, and before you know it, you’ve finished!  (Or nearly finished).  I love those projects- I’m in the zone, my needles flying.

And, this Baby Surprise Jacket was definitely one of those projects.

I had intended to use a bunch of blue and gray yarn, but it turns out, that I didn’t have as much of those colorways as I had originally thought.  I was a little worried at first, but then I realized, I could just add more colors!  The more colors the merrier, right?  Plus, you know how much I love using up scraps from my stash.

So, instead of plain ol’ blue stripes, I ended up with a very cool (if you don’t mind me saying) blue-to-green gradient!

I finished up the knitting on the sweater yesterday, and as much as I love the gradient, I think my favorite part of this (or any) BSJ is how it folds up- it’s the most satisfying feeling ever!  You start with this weird, wobbly-looking piece of knitting, then you fold up one side…and the other…And, ta-da!  you’ve got a beautiful little baby sweater.

Sure, it still needs a little seaming along the sleeves and some buttons, plus a nice round of blocking wouldn’t go amiss, but it’s essentially finished.

I’m so happy with how this little cardigan has turned out- I think the Baby Surprise Jacket might just be my favorite sweater pattern ever.