Tag Archives: knitting

Doing the Splits

It’s been nice, giving myself a break from all my “big” knitting.  I’ve given up on finishing my brother’s wedding blanket before his wedding next weekend (unless my kid suddenly decides he doesn’t need my attention, there’s no way I’m getting it done in the next 7 days), and I’m between work knitting assignments.

Which means I’ve been leisurely knitting away at my fun little Flax Light for the kiddo.

And I just passed my favorite part of a top-down sweater- the “split for sleeves” part.

It’s a simple little phrase, barely even a sentence, but it’s so fun.  (Especially when I’m just following a pattern and I don’t have to do any math!)  It’s that point where your project turns from a weird funnel-thing into an honest-to-goodness sweater.  It’s like magic.  (And it doesn’t hurt that suddenly you reduce your stitch count by a good third or more, which means the next section starts going really quickly.)

And I know it’s silly, but I love picking scrap yarn to hold my sleeve stitches.  I like a yarn that contrasts but still “goes.”  I kind of love this yellow scrap yarn with the red- the it really picks up the little yellow tweedy nupps from the red yarn.  It’s to the point where I’m half-considering adding a yellow stripe to this sweater, 90s-style.IMG_1793.JPG

What’s your favorite part of a sweater?  Casting on? Binding off? Sleeve island?

Short and Sweet

Over the years I’ve gone through phases- for a while I was a shawl knitter, then I was a sock knitter.  Now, I’m a sweater knitter.  Every once in a while I bang out a hat or a pair of mitts, but mostly, I knit sweaters.

Which is great! I’m always warm, my family is warm (sometimes too warm), and I have a big pile of hand-knit sweaters that I really love.  I’m a happy camper.

But the problem with being a sweater knitter is that everything I make takes forever.  (Especially when I’m knitting sweaters as my “fun” knitting to break up the monotony of blanket knitting.)  I’ve been feeling a little down about my knitting lately- less excited about the projects that are on my needles and more tempted to just scroll through Facebook on my phone in the evenings.  So, what’s a sweater knitter to do, when she wants a fun, quick, project that she can finish in a couple days?

A baby sweater, that’s what.  (OK, really, it’s a toddler sweater, but still.)

I had some Provincial Tweed in Candy Apple leftover from my Hurricane Ridge prototype.  It’s subtly shiny, has a deep, rich color, and is machine washable(!!!), so it’s perfect for a little sweater for my little guy.  I love him in red- it’s so flattering on him, with his bright blue eyes and pink cheeks.  Plus, I have 2 and a half skeins- just enough for a baby sweater!

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So, I dug around on Ravelry for about five minutes, until I saw a pattern that I’d been meaning to try for a while- Tin Can Knits’ Flax Light.  It’s so cute, and such a practical little sweater for a toddler (or anyone, really… I might end up making one for everyone in the family).  It’s a simple, top-down raglan with nice garter detailing up the sleeves.  Such a great everyday sweater!

SC-flaxlight-07aI’m not even bothering to make a swatch.  I figure I’ve picked a size that’s big enough that the kid will grow into it eventually, even if my gauge is way off.  Talk about low-stress knitting!

Well, I’m off to cast on, while I still have a few minutes before naptime is over.

What do you do for a “fun” project?

Summer Knitting

I don’t know what the weather’s like by you guys, but here in Seattle, it’s getting frustrating.  It’s 70 and sunny for a day or two, a week at most, just long enough for me to start getting used to the summeryness of it all and pull out my shorts, then, bam!  Back to 50 and rainy for two weeks.

It’s ridiculous, but it’s making my fingers itch to work on something light and fun.  (I also might be itching to start a new project because I’m still working on the BLANKET THAT NEVER ENDS.  I just timed myself and it takes me about 20 minutes to knit a row.  I haven’t had the heart to figure out how many rows I’ve knit/how many I have left to knit.  Talk about a labor of love.)

Even though I’ve never been a fan of warm-weather knits (I mean, really, if you’re going to wear a sweater, just wear a sweater.  You don’t need a wooly tank top.  Honestly.), I’ve been dreaming of a lightweight, knitted tee. (I know, who am I?)

This is the one that got me started.  It’s just gorgeous.  That lace, the flattering shape.  I mean come on.  There’s one knit in a beautiful slubby silk on display at my LYS, and I’m tempted to walk off with it every time I visit.  (Though, who am I kidding, I’d be too nervous to wear a silk hand-knit tee.)

Tegna by Caitlin HunterProcessed with VSCO with m3 preset

And this cute little tee is all sleek and streamlined, with classy little details, like everything from Purl Soho.

Lovely Lightweight Tee by Purl Soholovely-lightweight-tee-600-2-1_medium2

I love the stripes on this guy, the saddle(ish) shoulders, and the flattering silhouette.  I really think I could wear this on the regular.

At the Seaside (Not Only in the Summer) by Fraulein Stadtisch

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Have your knitting plans turned to warmer-weather projects?  What do you like to work on when the temperatures go up?

Pattern: Phinney Ridge Socks

Woo! New pattern day!

And this is a good one- it’s socks!

Introducing, my newest (and current favorite) socks: Phinney Ridge Socks!

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Look at them in all their stripey goodness!

They’re fairly simple top-down socks with stripes from cuff to toe with an interesting slipped-stitch pattern along the tops.  (The slipped stitches make them look much more interesting/difficult than they actually are, which is something I always look for in a pattern.)

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These guys use a skein of solid black, and a pack of contrasting mini-skeins, but they’d be a great way to use that special hand-dyed variegated yarn you brought back from your last trip to New York, or maybe a really great ombre-dyed skein that you bought on impulse three years ago and haven’t figure out how to use yet.

If you’re looking for other patterns for your fancy-pants sock yarn, you should check out the rest of this Knit Picks collection! Outrageous Insteps is all about using those special skeins of sock yarn.

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I really like these chevron-textured socks!

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And the crazy slipped stitch pattern on these bad boys is super cool! I’ve never tried slipped stitches like this before!

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And these socks‘ little one-stitch cables on the striped background- perfection!

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I can’t wait to dig into my yarn stash and find something really special to try on some of these patterns.

Do you have any particularly special skeins you’re looking for a pattern for?

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

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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).

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(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.)