Tag Archives: knitting

On ALL my needles

When I really started getting serious with knitting, back in college, I scoffed at knitters that I thought had “poor self control.”  (As a straight-A’s, honor roll over achiever-type, I scoffed at anyone who I thought had poor self control.  Not one of my more endearing character traits.)  I would never have more yarn in my stash than I could use.  I would never start a project and not finish it.  And, I would never have more than one project going on at once.

Never!

Well.

Maybe not never…

18-year-old me would be horrified with 30-year-old me.  I’ve got a room half-filled with boxes of yarn that “I will definitely use… some day.” I think I’ve got 4 or 5 projects on the needles right now, and about half of those are somewhere between hibernating and I-just-need-to-frog-this-but-I-can’t-be-bothered.

In fact, I now carefully plan my multiple projects.  I always have a big knitting project (sometimes it’s for work, sometimes it’s a gift) that I work on at home.  This is usually something awkward or complicated, something that’s just easier to keep by the couch and not worry about dragging all over town.img_3860I have a simple project- something that’s just a lot of stockinette or other mindless knitting.  I use this project for keeping my hands busy when my mind is doing something else- playing a game with friends, watching a tense movie, or something with subtitles.  (My bears are great for this!)img_3934And, I always have something small in the works, a project that I can keep in my purse and work on when I have a few minutes.  Waiting in line to get into a museum? Knit.  Got to work a little early? Knit.  Barber running a bit late? Knit.  In my opinion, there’s nothing better for purse knitting than a pair of socks (one at a time, of course, to leave more room in my purse for chocolate and a sketchbook).img_4679Do you work on multiple projects at the same time, or are you a one-and-done kind of knitter?

Inspiration: Hometowns

I’m about to admit something very embarrassing.

In fact, maybe don’t read the rest of this post.

Especially you, Mom and Dad.

Are you gone?

OK.  Hello. My name is Allison, and I love watching The Bachelor.bachelor-2017-nick-viall-promo-pics1I know, I know.  It’s not a great show.  But, it is also kind of really great.  It’s escapism, and these days, Lord knows I need some escapism.  It’s fun to watch beautiful people interacting under such weird circumstances.  It almost feels like watching sports (or what I imagine watching sports would be like if I watched them), you can pick apart every “move” the contestants make, try to infer what’s going to happen next, and cheer when your favorite people get “points.”

I’m even in a Bachelor Fantasy League (I’m winning for now, but it all could change at any moment!), and listen to a Bachelor Podcast (Rose Buddies– which is an absolute delight that you should listen to, even if you don’t watch the show).

Tonight’s episode is the very important “Hometowns” episode, where the last four contestants take the Bachelor home to meet their parents.  It’s always suuuuper awkward, but in the best way possible.

I’m not sure who’s going to make it through this episode, but let’s talk about the remaining contestants (I accidentally typed “characters”… oops!), and assign them sweaters (because this is a knitting blog after all).  (And, I suppose I should mention the Bachelor himself.  After all,  Nick is ostensibly who the show is about, but I really couldn’t care less about him- he has all the personality of a wet paper bag. Anyway- back to the ladies.)

Meet Raven!  She’s an adorable, super cool, super confident and sweet lady from a tiny town in Arkansas.  She owns a little fashion boutique and I really want her to be my friend.

ravenI bet you’d be able to find a sweater like this one in her shop.  It’s a little funky, a little comfy, and totally trendy.  Raven would probably wear it with killer boots and a cool, attention-getting necklace.

Boxy by Joji Locatelliboxy_01_medium21Rachel is a lawyer from Dallas. She’s super smart and capable, and was just announced as next season’s Bachelorette.  (So I guess she doesn’t “win” this season, but that’s A-OK by me, because she’s too good for Nick.)rachelI’d knit this sweater for her- it’s like the fun cousin of a blazer.  Actually, I kind of want this one for myself.

Walk the Cumbria Way by Jutta von Hinterm Stein0___0_walk-the-cumbria-way-hinterm-stein_medium21And, if the last two contestants were too good for Nick, Vanessa certainly is.  She’s amazing.  She’s a tri-lingual, Canadian special-needs teacher.  She’s tough, but sweet (and calls out the Bachelor when he does something crappy-which is rare on this show).  My money is on her for the “win,”  but she’s not actually on my team, so I have mixed loyalties.vanessaHer style is effortless, comfortable, and undeniably chic.  I think she’d rock a simple cardigan like this- actually, I think I might have seen her wear one very similar in the last couple episodes.

BlueSand Cardigan by La Maison Rililieblausand_jacke-42_copy_copy_medium21Then, we come to Corinne.  Corinne is this season’s “villain,” but she’s kind of amazing.  She says she’s the 24-year-old owner of a “Multi-million-dollar business,” but really she’s a model/Instagrammer who goes by the nickname “Corn” and has a nanny.  She’s pretty immature (which is what gets her into trouble on the show), but I’m sure she’s less of a villain in real life.  She’s just a privileged weirdo who’s a little self-absorbed and self-conscious, which comes out as being pushy and unpleasant.  But, I like the girl, nonetheless (and she’s earned my fantasy team about a bajillion points, which is something I really like).cornAnd for my dear Corn, I’d have to make her a super cute sundress/bikini cover-up.  Everyone on this show spends about 3/4 of their time in swim suits, and Corn spends even more time in them than anyone else.  I think she’d totally wear this super cute tunic- though she would have to be careful of weird crochet tan lines.

Beach Tunic by Annelies Baes (Vicarno)white_beach_tunic_medium21Now you know my deep, dark secret.  So what’s yours?  What’s your secret guilty pleasure?

Tutorial: Reading Charts- Repeats

Now we all are experts in reading a chart while knitting back and forth, and we’re experts in using charts in the round.  But charts aren’t always that simple.  Sometimes your project has more stitches in a row than there are on your chart.  You can imagine that this could happen with projects that have a wide, repeating pattern (like a dish cloth, a blanket, or sweater).

If you have to repeat the whole chart, that’s easy enough- knit across the chart row, then work it again (and again), until you get to the end of your row of your knitting.  Simple.

But sometimes you have to repeat only some of the stitches in a row.  When you need to do that, your chart will look like this:laura-chart-c-repeatsDo you see the change?  (It’s subtle, so I’ll help you.)laura-chart-c-repeats-highlightSee those highlighted vertical lines?  Those are your repeat marks.  OK, honestly, I’m not sure what they’re technically called, but they mark out the stitches that you have to repeat.

So, let’s make an imaginary project- a scarf maybe?  We’ll cast on 18 sts, and use this chart, repeating the 4 sts in-between the repeat marks 3 times.

Start at row 1 st 1, and knit straight through to st 6 (just before the second repeat mark).  (You’ve worked 6 sts)

laura-chart-c-repeats-order-1Then, go back to st 3 (just after the first repeat mark), and work back through st 6.  (10 sts total)laura-chart-c-repeats-order-2Then, you’ll repeat sts 3-6 once more, and continue on to the end of the row.  (18 sts total)laura-chart-c-repeats-order-3On the next row you do the same thing, but reverse the way you read the chart (because we’re pretending to knit back and forth).

So, start at row 2, st 10, and work across to st 3 (just before the second repeat mark).  (8 sts)laura-chart-c-repeats-order-4Then repeat the middle 4 sts.  (12 sts)laura-chart-c-repeats-order-5And finish by working sts 6-1 once more.  (18 sts)

laura-chart-c-repeats-order-6Make sense?  Of course, for a wider project, you might be required to repeat the middle section more times, but the concept is the same.  Just keep going across the row, looping back as needed when you get to a repeat mark.  Simple!

Any more questions?  Let me know if anything else is confusing to you, I’m happy to help!

Tutorial: Reading a Chart in the Round

Last week, I talked about the basics of reading a chart.  Today, I’m going to talk about reading a chart while knitting in the round.

*Gasp* What?!  Charts!?  And circular needles?! That’s just too much!  I can’t even!  (Sorry… I’m feeling a little dramatic this morning)

No, it’s not difficult!  It’s actually pretty simple.

So remember this chart from last week?  This is a chart that’s been written so that you can work it flat (ie, back and forth).laura-chart-c-plainI’ve modified it to now be read in the round.  Can you spot the differences (It’s like a sad, grown-up version of the puzzles in the back of Highlights magazine)?laura-chart-c-in-the-roundThe first big difference (that I’m sure you spotted), is that all the row numbers are lined up along the right side of the chart.  laura-chart-c-in-the-round-detailsThat’s because when you knit in the round, you’re always traveling in the same direction (from right to left).  When you knit flat, you knit back and forth, so the row numbers are arranged on alternate sides.  But, the same rule applies no matter how you’re knitting- you start knitting from the side of the row with the number, and work away.laura-chart-c-in-the-round-knitting-directionThe second big difference is in they key:laura-chart-c-in-the-round-details-2It looks like there’s a whole bunch of information missing, when you compare this chart to the “knit flat” chart.  But, in fact, you’re not missing any information!  This is because when you knit in the round, every row is a RS row!  So, it’s just implied that (in this case) a white square is a knit stitch on the RS and a gray square is a purl.

Simple!

What’s your favorite kind of pattern?

Tutorial: Reading a Chart

I’ve had a rash of people emailing me lately who don’t know how to read a chart- and that blows my mind!  Not only are charts the best way (in my mind) to understand a complicated pattern, but I think they’re head-and-shoulders easier to read than a 100% written-out pattern.  So, without further ado- let’s look at a chart.

laura-chart-c-plainThis is a little chart from my new pattern, the Laura Shawl!  (It’s the narrow, textured stripe, in-between the big cables.)52162220_21Let’s look at the main parts of this chart.  At the top, you’ll see the chart name- this is important if you’re working a project that uses several charts.  For example, the Laura Shawl uses 5 separate charts, this is the third (C) one.  And, at the bottom (or sometimes to the side), you’ll find a key which explains what the symbols mean (I’ll explain that in more detail later).laura-chart-c-title-and-keyThen, along the left and right sides, you’ll find row numbers.  And, on the bottom, you’ll see the stitch numbers.laura-chart-c-rows-and-stsYou’ll notice that the row numbers go from bottom to top (ie.  1 is on the bottom).  This is because you’re going to knit from the bottom to the top.  That way, when you finish knitting the chart, you’ll be able to hold up your knitting next to the chart and you should see something that looks similar to the chart (in other words, it shouldn’t be upside-down or mirrored).laura-chart-c-knitting-directionThis chart is meant to be knit flat, and I can tell that because the row numbers alternate sides.  (1 is on the right, 2 is on the left, etc.)  laura-chart-c-rowsThe beginning of your row is marked by the row number.  So, Row 1 starts at the right and goes to the left.  Row 2 starts at the left and goes right.  (Just like your knitting!)laura-chart-c-row-directionNow you’ve got your bearings, it’s time to start knitting.  But what do all those little squares mean?  Each square is a stitch, and the symbol (or in this case, the color of the square) tells you how to work that square.  Do you see down in the key?  Each symbol has instructions, which include what to do on the Right Side and the Wrong side.  On odd-numbered rows (unless your pattern says otherwise), you’ll work the RS instructions.  So, for Row 1, you’ll K1, P3, K2, P3, K1.laura-chart-c-rsThen, on the even rows, you’ll use the Wrong Side instructions.  So, Row 2, you’ll P1, K3, P2, K3, P1.laura-chart-c-wsAnd, that’s basically it!  See?  It’s not so bad!  You can totally use a chart!

Next week I’ll walk you through knitting in the round using a chart (Spoiler- it’s even easier!), and how to work charted repeats.

Do you like using charts, or do you prefer written-out patterns?  Why?

Christmas Balls

It’s snowing again!

The schools I teach at had a snow day on Monday, and a two-hour late start on Tuesday.  I can only imagine what’s going to happen now that it’s snowing again!  Maybe I’ll just get the rest of the week off (one can hope, right?).   (It’s amazing how much of a Seattleite I’ve become.  The first sign of flurries, and I go into full-blown hibernation mode.  Growing up in the Midwest, we didn’t change our plans unless there was a good 6″ of snow in an hour, and then we just drove a little slower.)

And what’s better than finishing up some of Arne and Carlos’ Christmas Balls on a snowy morning?

51jEZkkM8SL._SX379_BO1,204,203,200_[1]My mom gave me a copy of this adorable book for Christmas (thanks Mom!), and I’ve knit up a couple balls since the holidays.  They’re fun, quick, and don’t use too much yarn (though I did manage to run through my stash of red and white DK wool- I’ve got to order some more).img_4559These little guys are really fun if you want to practice your colorwork in the round.  They have dozens of different designs, and they even include a blank chart in the back of the book if you want to get fancy and design your own patterns!img_4576Of course, finishing is a little fiddly (but any small colorwork project is going to be a bit fiddly).  I sat down with the newest episode of Victoria and a cup of tea, and I had all three of these balls finished before the episode was over.

img_4601Now my only problem is that I want to make about three dozen more, so that next year my Christmas tree will be decorated only with these lovely guys!

Have you made Christmas ornaments before?  What’s your favorite?

Help!!

I don’t know if you do this, but every time I finish a big project (especially if it’s a big project that I had to finish on a deadline), my mind goes entirely blank.

Like, it’s just static. *bzzzxzxzzxbbxbxzzz*  Nothing happening in there.

My brain is buzzing right now (and not in the good “I’ve got a million great ideas” way).  I just finished a big, purple, stockinette thing for a design I’ve been working on for the last month, and now I’ve got a couple weeks to knit something “for myself” before my next work project comes along.6e96ba2c-468a-4b0a-b19a-f42b4ab60fe3I think it must be something about pouring all your focus, attention, and  creative drive into one specific project.  Focusing so intensely that you don’t think about your “next steps” as you go.  I used to get the same feeling after finals in college.  My mind would totally empty for a day or two after, and I’d just bounce around campus, trying to find something to do.

I’ve spent the morning looking at Ravelry, but nothing is sticking.  Maybe I’ll look through the craft books I got for Christmas- maybe I’ll find something cool in there?  Or maybe I’ll just spend the day glaring at my yarn, and hoping it develops the ability to speak and tells me what I should make next.img_4518Am I the only one?  (Probably not- if you ask that, you’re not the only one, as a rule.) What do you do to break through the “just finished a project” zone-out?

Ugh!

I have a problem.

I think it’s a problem that a lot of knitters have.

I think I might hate my current project.

I loved it at first, and I’m sure one day I will love it again.  But, right now- no.

f00da97b-15f5-418a-ba13-aad234ccaf23I can’t talk about it in detail, or really, in anything other than the broadest, most vague terms (it’s a design I’m working on, so it’s all Top Secret, hence the very un-illuminating photos).  But, let’s just say there’s a lot of stockinette.

Like a lot.

Like, I’ve been knitting plain, purple stockinette for a couple weeks now, and other than a couple Pussyhats, I haven’t been able to do anything to break up the monotony.

When I started this project, I was super jazzed- I love simple, clean designs- there’s something so elegant about simple projects. And, I know I’ll wear the heck out of this project when it’s finished.

But… oofda. It’s a lot of stockinette.

I got to do a little bit of 1×1 ribbing the other day, and I just about got up and danced a jig.  I’m in a sorry state.6e96ba2c-468a-4b0a-b19a-f42b4ab60fe3My deadline is fast approaching, so one way or the other, I’ll finish up this project soon.  And boy, am I ready.

Have you ever taken on a project that was a little too much?  A little too much stockinette?  A few too many cables?  A bit too fiddly?

Giveaway Day: Woodsmoke edition

OK, guys, you know the drill! It’s Giveaway Day (again!)

I’m really excited about this one!  This collection is hands-down gorgeous.  I may be a bit biased, since I love anything with a cable on it, but for real- it’s beautiful.331101I even love the shawl that I made- enough to make you look at it again.  I’m super proud of how it turned out!  I mean, look at it!

521622201OK, OK, enough of me showing you pictures you’ve already seen!  Let’s get to the good part!

A whole bunch of you entered the drawing, so I rolled over to Random.org, and did a quick drawing.

And the winner is… Comment number 7!

Alison!  You’re the winner!  (I’ll send you an email, so keep an eye out!)

If you didn’t win, don’t worry, you can get your own copy of Woodsmoke through the Knit Picks website.  And, of course, I’ll have more drawings in the future, so keep your eyes peeled!

What?! More Patterns?

That’s right, knitters!  Surprise!  Another pattern- and it’s one I’m super proud of!

Introducing: The Laura Shawl!521622201It’s a gorgeous (if I say so myself) cabled wrap, almost six feet long and two feet wide.  It looks great wrapped around your shoulders, or cozied up under your chin.  And, frankly, it’s big enough to act as a lap blanket when you go out to eat, and they set you too close to a drafty window.

The Laura Shawl is knit in gorgeous tweedy wool that works great with cables.  Four wide panels of complex cables are interspersed with some knit/purl texture, and the whole bad boy is finished with thick fringe on either end, just to make it feel extra-luxurious.

52162220_21The best part?  It’s part of another beautiful book from Knit Picks, the Woodsmoke Cable Collection.331101This book is absolutely breathtaking.  It’s chock full of 16 lushly cabled patterns- sweaters, blankets, scarves and hats.

I mean, look at these:331101111Really, I want to work up all of these for myself.  (Or maybe have someone else do it so I don’t have to wait?)331101151What’s that? You want a copy?  Buy yourself a copy here!

Or, comment below with a description of your most complicated cable project for a chance to win a free copy!  (The winner will be named next Friday, so stay tuned!)