Tag Archives: knitting

Choices 2020

I’ve got a dilemma.

It’s a dilemma of my own creation, because I insisted on making a sweater without actually having a plan.  I should have had a plan.

I really should have had a plan.

Now I have… this:IMG_2909

Possibly the world’s least-flattering sweater.

Ignore the sleeve situation for a second, and let me walk you through what happened.

My original thought was to knit up a stash-busting sweater using the lace-weight alpaca that I’ve had in my stash for literal years.  I love all the colors, but haven’t had the time/energy for lace since… the early 2000s.  I actually knit up a swatch with the yarn held triple, and it seemed like it was going to work.  The first plan was to make a cropped, over-sized sweater, in the vein of the Love Note.  Super cute and trendy.

Well, I got carried away (a combination of quarantine blues and some good Netflix shows), and before I knew it, I had a hip-length sweater.  Not what I planned, but hey, that’s ok.

I tried it on.  It fit… well enough.  Even though I did a swatch, I forgot to factor in the inherent drapiness of alpaca.  It’s really kind of shapeless and droopy.  Don’t get me wrong… it’s real comfortable and soft, but not the most flattering thing ever.

It was time to tackle the sleeves.  My first thought was to just make it into a T-shirt- something trendy and cute, and something I could wear sooner than later with summer on the way.  I threw a quick short sleeve on the sweater.  I tried it on…

Y’all.  It was so wide across the shoulders (WAY too many raglan increases), that the armpit hits just a couple inches above my elbow.  It looks OK enough if I keep my arms down, but if I lift them up, I get a weird bat-wing look (and not in a good way).

So, I decide to make the other sleeve long.  I use my usual long sleeve formula,  and make it up in a weekend.

I’ve got big hopes.  I try it on.  Ugh.

It’s… fine, but way baggier than I hoped.  If I really want the sweater to be how I’m now imagining it, I have to rip it all the way back past the armpits and try again, and I’m just not feeling that now.

So, I’m asking you:  What should I do?

Long sleeve? Short sleeve?  Re-knit the long sleeve so it’s narrower?  Give up and walk around with one long sleeve like a crazy person?  Give up entirely?

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(Don’t mind my dog and my kid barking at the cars driving by…  It was a day.)

Have you ever gotten almost to the end of a project, just to realize you did it all wrong?

New Pattern: Stanwood Shawl

We might all still be stuck inside, but that doesn’t mean I can’t get excited about bringing you a new pattern!

Introducing: the Stanwood Shawl, in the new collection from Knit Picks, Vivid!

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I’m really pleased with how this one turned out!  It’s a lovely, squishy, garter-stitch scarf/shawl hybrid that features contrasting stripes along one edge and short-row points.  It features a slightly curved shape, which lets it settle gently around the shoulders.  And, best of all I love the way it lets you play with color.  Mix and match your favorite 3 (or more!) skeins of sock yarn, and see how they play together.  Fun!

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Plus, it’s nice and long.  If you’re more of a scarf person than a shawl person- it’s perfect!

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(Also, I gotta say, Knit Picks have some fun, bright designs in this collection.  Definitely check it out!)

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Head over and grab a copy of the Stanwood Shawl here!

Quarantine Sweater

So, I’m putting my socks (er… sock) in time out for a little bit.  I can’t face ripping out an entire sock, and I can’t face knitting up a second sock that I know for a fact isn’t going to fit.

I also can’t really muster up the energy to dig through my stash and match up a specific pattern to the yarn that I’ve got on hand.  That just seems like way too much effort for right now.

I do, however, have just a ton of Knit Pick’s Alpaca Cloud lace-weight yarn.  Why? I have no idea.  I think the last time I knit with lace-weight yarn was somewhere in the middle of the Obama administration.  (Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice yarn, just not what I usually reach for these days.)

But, I finished my Lovenote (which I just realized I haven’t shared with you yet!), which was knit with finer yarn held double on large needles, which gave me an idea.  I set out my stashed Alpaca Cloud in a rainbow(ish) and started swatching on US10 1/2s.  (See, I learn from my mistakes.  Sometimes.)

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I decided that holding the yarn double made fabric that was still a little too skimpy, so I tripled-up, and came up with something that was light but fluffy, cozy but drape-y.

I busted out my favorite Knitter’s Handy Book of Top-Down Sweaters by Ann Budd, and started on a raglan sweater.  It’s not fancy in the design; no crazy textures or lace, no weird construction, just big blocks of color.  I’m holding the yarn triple, so every block, I switch out one color, which has left me with a rather pleasant color gradient so far.

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I’d originally thought about measuring out how long the sweater was going to be and making the stripes even all the way down, but… meh.  Instead, I’m kind of just knitting until I get bored, then switching.

What will the rest of the sweater look like? Who knows!  Will it be long or cropped or somewhere in the middle?  I dunno!  Will it have waist shaping or tapered sleeves? Maybe?

It’s kinda fun to go into a sweater with literally no idea of what it’s going to end up looking like.  I always go from a pattern, or at least a sketch of what I want the finished project to be, so it’s a nice change of pace and a nice project to have on my needles in this weird, weird time.

What’s your quarantine knitting?

 

And this is why you swatch.

OK.  Mistakes were made.

I was all stoked last week about making myself a pair of comfy socks.

Mistake 1-  After going on and on about all of those lovely, tried-and-true sock patterns, I decided to go off script.  Why?  Who knows?

Mistake 2- I decided to make the socks cabled.  Why?  When have I ever made cabled socks that weren’t a disaster?  Never.  Cables are the best- I love them.  They make wonderful, dense fabric that’s extra-thick and cozy.  I don’t want extra-thick fabric on my socks.  They have to fit inside shoes.

Mistake 3- I didn’t swatch.  Like an idiot.

Actually, I kinda did swatch.  I swatched the pattern (with different needles and different yarn).  IMG_2820I was thinking about using the cable design in a sweater or something, but I decided after I was finished with the swatch that it would be better for a sock.  I still maintain these are very cute socks.  But compared to my usual sock gauge, they’re way off.

Mistake 4- When I first started thinking I’d made a mistake, I just kept going.

About 3 inches in, I thought “Huh.  These are looking a little slim.”  But did I stop? No!  That would have involved admitting defeat, and having to problem-solve.

Anyway, long story short, I have one sock.  It’s a lovely sock.  It’s tall and blue and has a cute all-over cable pattern.IMG_2828

And it’s nowhere close to fitting me.  I’d show it to you on my foot, but you don’t need to see that.  Just trust that the cables are stretched beyond recognition and it barely stretches over my calf.  It’s real sad.

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Now I just have to decide what to do next.  Do I rip it back, and go back to a tried-and-true pattern?  Do I continue and work up a second one in the same pattern, and give it away to a smaller-footed friend? Do I ball it up and leave it at the back of my WIP drawer until I forget how I made it?

All equally good choices, I think.

What would you do?

Hey! I finished something!

Y’all, I think I might have my mojo back.  Or at least partly back.  Or at least it’s back sometimes. Or maybe it was just back for a few afternoons last week.

Either way, I’ve got a brand-new pair of socks, and I’m beyond excited about them.

Right before the “unpleasantness,” my husband and I took a long weekend trip down to Austin- it was lovely, and feels like it was fifteen years ago.  And, as I’ve said before, when I go on a trip, I’ve got to visit the local yarn shop and get a skein (or two) of local sock yarn.  Some people collect shot glasses, some collect tiny spoons.  I collect locally-dyed sock yarn.

We went to Hill Country Weavers and I picked up two lovely skeins of Chasing Rabbits Fiber Company Fern yarn- which is a really lovely, buttery-soft sock yarn.  I got one skein in purple and one in grey/turquoise.  They’re both lovely, and I forgot to take pictures of the skeins before I broke into them.  Oh well.

Anyway, I got impatient and started knitting my purple socks on the airplane ride home.(Remember airplanes?  Those were fun…) I happened to have the ebook of Splendid Soles on my phone (I have a pattern in the collection, so I’d downloaded it at some point for work).  So, I picked a pattern and… Tada!

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The pattern is Textured Lace Socks by Lori Wagner, and I love it.  It was complicated enough to keep me engaged, but logical enough to let me memorize the lace after a couple repeats.   Unfortunately the hand-dyed-ness of the yarn kind of hides the lace pattern (especially in pictures), but it’s so pretty, I kind of don’t mind.

I’ll be honest, I pretty much stopped following the pattern as written once I got to the heel, but that’s because I like to knit my heels and toes in a particular way, so I just did what I usually do, continuing the lace down the top of the foot.

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I couldn’t be happier with them.  And they’re just what I needed this week.  Nothing to make you feel cozy and content like a pair of new socks.

What are you working on to make yourself feel better?

Oof.

And I thought last week was wild…

Well, we’re now “Sheltering in Place,” and I haven’t been out of the house (other than daily walks with my kiddo around the block) in a couple weeks.  Social media is stressing me out, but it’s also the only way I can keep in touch with everyone, so I feel like I can’t just ignore it.  It’s not been great.  (Though, again, we’re safe and healthy, we haven’t lost our jobs, and we are in a really good place to weather this storm.)

When we first went into quarantine, I thought “Sweet!  I’ll get so much knitting done!  I”ll make a new sweater for the kid, and for me, and for my husband.  I’ll do some designing, and maybe self-publish a pattern or two.” But to be honest, I haven’t done any of that.  I have barely even picked up my needles.

IMG_2725.JPGNot to say I haven’t been productive, in other ways.  I’ve done a ton of yard work, I’ve constructed a tent in the living room from our neighbor’s bamboo, string and blankets, and I’ve built more LEGO houses, tunnels and trains than I could count. But, I haven’t really been knitting.

I think it’s the quiet, meditative, part of knitting that makes it hard for me to sit down with my needles right now.  I don’t want to be still and quiet.  I want to be out in the back yard with a saw and a pickax and a shovel.

But, I know this will pass, and soon enough I will want to pick up my needles again and finish up that pair of socks I started as a “fun” project right before this whole thing went down.  The day will come when sitting quietly on the couch with a cup of tea sounds calming, and not anxiety-provoking.  And it will probably come soon.  I just have to be OK with it taking a little time.

After all, the socks will be there waiting whenever I’m ready.

What are you doing during all this at-home time?

 

This is what we’ve been preparing for!

Y’all, the last two weeks have been wild.

We’re in Seattle, and I’ll start by saying, we’re totally fine.  (Other than a little cabin fever, of course.)  Schools are closed until late April (so the kid’s playgroups are closed), the Zoo and museums are closed and, well, everything is closed.  And (as of the time I’m writing this), we’re supposed to limit gatherings to 10 or fewer people, which… is rough.

We’re taking lots of very long, very quiet walks (there are very few cars on the streets), watching movies (I can pretty much recite Frozen at this point), reading lots of books, and working in the yard.  It’s real weird.

But, if ever there was a group of people ready for mass quarantine, I think it’s knitters.  After all, what have we been accumulating our stashes for, if not this?

So, in honor (?) of the pandemic, let’s talk scrappy projects.  Just because we can’t make it to our LYS’s doesn’t mean we can’t make something beautiful.

First, the classic, the ne plus ultra, the epitome of scrap projects, the Beekeeper’s Quilt.  I’ll be honest, I’m not sure that anyone has ever actually finished one of these projects, but dang, if it doesn’t look satisfying.  And what a wonderful way to burn through scraps!

the beekeeper’s quilt by tiny owl knits

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And, if we’re talking color-mixing and using up scraps, we can’t not talk about Stephen West.  This sweater asks for bulky, or DK, or sport, or worsted, or lace-weight yarn and would lend itself to using just about as many colors as you want or have.  Perfect for end-of-the-world stash-busting!

Penguono by Stephen West

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Maybe you want to go a little less wacky than Stephen West (which I get- his style isn’t necessarily for everyone).  I bet you could dig through your stash and make a gradient of sock yarn.  And, if you had a little mohair to hold with it, all the better!  I’ve had my eye on this gorgeous reverse stockinette pullover that features a beautiful gradient and an eye-catching slipped-stitch yoke.
Sorrel by Wool & Pine
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But maybe you’re not up for a whole sweater right now- I get it, you need to be in a certain head space to cast on a sweater, and we might not all be there right now.  Maybe you’re looking for nothing more than a big, squishy, cozy triangle shawl that is just this side of being a blanket.  I know I always want to retreat into a cocoon when I’m stressed, and I think this shawl might just be the most socially-acceptable to cocoon yourself up.
Nightshift by Andrea Mowry
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I hope you’re staying safe (and sane)!
What’s on your to-knit list for the next couple weeks?

It’s So Fuzzy!

Oooh, y’all!  This sweater is going to be amazing!

I flew through the yoke (that lace panel was fun!), and I’m cruising through the body (I’m still not sure if I want it to be cropped or not… but I’ve got a couple inches before I have to decide).  IMG_2720.JPG

I’ve gotta say, the neckline looks wild (it looks wide enough to be a waistband!).  But, I’m trusting the pattern.  It has you pick up the provisional cast-on and work the neckline ribbing with much smaller needles, which should make the sweater look more like a sweater and less like a caftan.  Fingers crossed that it turns out the way I’m hoping it will.

But I kinda don’t care how the finished sweater looks, because I just can’t get over how fuzzy and soft and glow-y this fabric is.  I wish you could reach through the computer and pet this yarn.  The combo of the heavy/drapey fingering weight bamboo and the fluffy silk/merino is just a delight.  Honestly, the reason that I haven’t already finished this sweater is that I keep pausing my knitting to pet it.  It’s really becoming a problem.

What is the project that you’re most excited about right now?

New, fun, and fuzzy!

As you know, I’ve been trying to make a point of using up my stash yarns this year.  (With mixed results- my Stonecroft Shawl is still sitting next to my computer, waiting to be frogged and re-knit, and I’ve managed to actually make more yarn… but still.)

I’ve mentioned that I have three skeins of a really nice merino-bamboo blend that have been in my stash for literally years- they might even have gone through a couple moves with me.  The yarn is lovely- soft, lightly shiny, with a beautiful drape.  But, despite the colorway being named “Peacock,” they’re kind of a denim-blue, with gray undertones.  It’s a nice enough color, but not something to inspire me to pick them up and knit something big.

Well.  I have decided what I want to do with this yarn.  If I don’t like the blue on it’s own, why not add something really crazy?  Something that’s beyond out-there (for me, anyway).  How about something hand-dyed, silky (literally) and fuzzy?

And why not jump on the bandwagon and make something completely out of my wheelhouse?  Lace! (Why not?) 3/4 sleeves! (Sure!) Cropped! (Of course!) Girly! (OK!)

That’s right, I’m making a Love Note!TCK-lovenote-01a.jpg

It’s a sweater I’ve had my eye on for a while- it’s so cute, and it looks like it would knit up in about fifteen minutes.  And I like the idea of holding a fingering-weight and a mohair/lace-weight together (so not what I usually do, but it looks fun).  And what a better way to use up my blue yarn?  Might as well have fun while stash-busting.

So I hit up my local yarn store and bought the second-brightest yarn they had.  (I almost bought a legit rainbow-colored one, but then I chickened out.)  It’s Knitted Wit Fairy Floss in Rock Candy Teal (real peacock colors!).

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I wound them up and worked up a swatch, and… it’s so good!  I love how the Fairy Floss wakes up the Classic Merino Bamboo, and the Classic Merino Bamboo tones down the craziness of the Fairy Floss.  It’s the perfect odd-couple of yarn!

Plus, this lace pattern is super cute!

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This sweater’s going to be interesting, I can already tell.  Either I’m going to love it and never take it off, or I’m going to wear it once and find a friend to give it to.  

But, either way, it’s going to be a fun knit!

Do you ever start projects outside your wheelhouse?

7 and counting

It’s funny.  Had you asked me 7 years ago if I’d still be writing patterns and blogging, I probably would have laughed at you.  Heck, had you asked me two years ago (with the kid just around the corner) if I’d still be writing today, I’d be kinda skeptical.  But, here we are- still cruising along. IMG_2674

I know that knitting is definitely one of those things that I will always do, in one way or another.  It’s my favorite way to get my creative juices flowing.  It lets me express myself and clothe my family (and myself).  It gives me something to do with my hands while I’m binging the next Netflix show (by the way, Next in Fashion is a delight).  It’s so much a part of me that I don’t know what I would do with myself if I (for some reason) was not able to knit.

But, I always thought that knitting would be “just” a hobby.  Something I did for fun, on the weekends, and while waiting in boring meetings.  I never thought it would become the thing that I defined my professional life by.  It’s been a wild ride.

Anyway, thank you for following with me on this crazy 7-year-long project.  It’s probably (definitely) the longest I’ve worked on a single thing, and while it’s nice to see the follows and the likes on my posts, the satisfaction I get from seeing my body of work is even better.

It’s been 7 years, I’ve written (almost) 900 posts, published 88 patterns (with a few more in the works),  been featured in 25 collections, 1 magazine, and I’ve written my own sock book (which just got re-printed, by the way!).  I’m not usually comfortable tooting my own horn, but after 7 years, well… Toot toot!