The following are some slap dash directions for making a tiny sweater to go along with your big one.  I myself needed to do this because I'm in the process of making a tiny human to go along with my big one :)  
Just as a reminder, back in November I finished an epic sweater for my husband, and to commemorate the effort, we are posting daily pictures of his adventures with his sweater at http://ebenandthebear.tumblr.com/. Making a little version of the sweater seemed like a perfect way to welcome our expected little one.
I knew I didn't want to design the whole sweater from the ground up, so to start with, my first task was to find a sweater that matched the general shape of the original sweater, and had the same sort of fabric properties, in this case, stranded color work, so that I knew it would adapt smoothly.  
I found these two likely candidates:
Each of these little sweaters is knit with stranded color changes, and has a general ski sweater vibe.  I went with the red sweater on the right because it is knit in a lighter weight DK yarn, and thus the stitches are a bit smaller, and so I would have more stitches to work with in developing my baby bear graph for the front.  I went through the pattern counting rows and inches to figure out how many rows tall the design area would be.  
With pattern decided upon, and general stitch area to be filled known, I just needed a cute little bear graph with which to fill it.  In the past when I needed to alter a graph, or create a graph from scratch for a knitting project, I just used trusty graph paper and a pencil, and then went over it with pen when I was satisfied.  As anyone who has tried to design their own graphs for knitting has found that knit stitches are not square.  Depending on your design, you might get an awkward surprise (like a short fat owl instead of a cute little round one, an issue I encountered several years ago) because you mapped out a perfect circle on square graph paper, and knit stitches are wider than they are tall.  Enter knitting graph paper, which is made up of rectangles.  Happily, there are a lot of places on line where you can print off single sheets of knitting graph paper.  So, I printed off a few sheets, ready for a night of erasing. 
A great/frustrating thing about the internet is that new things are popping up there every day, and you have to find them for yourself!  I'm not sure why I searched or what I searched, but I found a website, Tricksy Knitter, that will let you plan out color charts for knitting, for free!  It is a very easy to learn interface, and I'm so excited to have found it because it made this task, which is tricky at best, a bit easier.
As with the sweater pattern itself, I don't believe in re-inventing the wheel, and so my next step was to look around the internet and see if I could find a graph for a baby polar bear.  At the very least, I figured, if I couldn't find one that worked perfectly, I could find something I could scale down.  Well, color me shocked, I couldn't!  I found plenty of cross stitch patterns, for example, that were great, but they just didn't translate into the medium I was using.  I also found several graphs for baby polar bears that my husband dismissed as "too koala like." 
Here is an early attempt that does, in fact, look like a koala on all fours.  
Okay, that was a no go.  I had done image search after image search, and I found plenty of photos that I liked (try image searching baby polar bears, it is pretty much wall to wall white fluff.)  I queried my somewhat more technologically advanced husband, couldn't some program pixilate a photo enough to give me the shape I wanted?  Couldn't it extend the back end of this photo a bit?  Obviously there was no program that was just going to magic up what I wanted, but maybe my rudimentary photo shopping skills could come into play.  I selected the best photo for my purposes, and opened it in a free online photo editor, a Photoshop lite, called Sumopaint.  Maybe if I could get a grid pattern over the photo?  But actually something much better happened.  I traced the photo with thick lines, making the alterations I wanted, and only tracing the parts that were most necessary to make the image make sense.  Then I could remove the layer with the actual photo, and just have a line drawing.  Then, in my knitting graph program, I could redraw the same general shape freehand, and make alterations to my heart's content, but know that I liked what the base shape was.
A lot of alterations ensued, 
Yay, a basic baby bear!  As you can see in the final graphs, a few more tweaks were made.  I realized I had been drawing the graph as a negative image, when what I wanted was a white bear, so I went through and changed it all around.  My husband had the inspiration for half circle eyes instead of dots, which turned out to be infinitely cuter.  All in all we are talking about a 4 hours process from start to finish, but I'm so pleased with the result: 
I went ahead and extended the graph to be the whole front, so that I could fill in the rest of the area in a way that would mimic the original sweater in a scaled down way.  After that it was all done but the knitting.  Or so I thought.  
Well, the knitting, and a lot of ends to weave in due to some thoughtless designing on my part, but it only took an afternoon watching friends garden to get the job done and I'll know better next time. 
I feel as pleased and satisfied by this project as the little bear cub looks :)
 
 
Unbelievable that I have not written about the bear sweater yet, but it seems like the perfect way to end the year.  I'm not even sure how to start writing about this project except to say that many years ago, I saw this picture, and fell in love.
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Love at first sight <3
Falling in love is never simple though, is it?  First, this pattern, the 7901 Polar Bear from the Dale of Norway pamphlet #79, is out of print.  There is one company that will sell the individual patterns from the book with the yarn needed to make it.  If you want the entire pamphlet, it comes up infrequently on eBay for astronomical sums.  
At first, I went the more "reasonable" rout and was given the kit with the bear sweater pattern for Christmas in 2010.  And then I let it sit.  The whole thing had seemed so unattainable when I saw the prices of the pamphlet on eBay, that to have the pattern and have the yarn was comfort enough.   
Here is where the story gets a little murky for me.  Clearly I had always intended to make this sweater for my husband.  We bought enough yarn back in 2010 to make the XL size.  He would mention the project periodically with interest.  And yet, I was still skeptical of his actual commitment to the sweater.  I think, understandably, a nut who falls in love with sweaters would also be defensive about other people loving them too.  
At any rate, after some needling on his part, I did start the sweater.  I knew it was going to be a long and involved process, so in the beginning, I took notes: 
December 2012 - Opened the long-ago purchased yarn and pattern.  Looked to see what substitute colors I had selected.  Felt regret.  Looked on Ravelry to see what needle sizes people were using given that the finished sweater will be too small for Eb.

12/21/12 - After looking at photos decided to do a tubular cast-on.  Knit the provisional part, knit the two purl rows, and then picked up the purls and knit two rows, then remembered it should be knit through the back loop.  Tried to convince myself I could do every other row, looked terrible.  Thought of taking it back a few rows and realized the whole thing had a twist and was a mobius!  Have never done that before [Ed. note: this can no longer be said].  Set it down.

12/26/12 - Took apart the twisted bottom part

12/27/12 - Very carefully did the tubular cast-on again.  Made sure to do the knit through the back loop, even on the first stitches.  Got almost through the ribbing.  Took out the provisional cast-on and very pleased.

12/28/12 - Finished the ribbing.  Increased around, switched to larger needles, started the color work.  I did remember that the colors shouldn't be twisted and that one will stand out more if carried on top, but not which one.  Tried to discover the answer on-line and came up with an answer but not the right one.  Also trying to ignore the join spot at the side.  Also trying to ignore the way that the first row of color work is swallowed by the ribbing.

12/29/12 - Took the color work only all apart.  Confirmed which way to hold the yarns to make the primary color pop.  Also decided to add extra stitches one on each side as "picture frames" to decrease the obvious jog.  Also added a purl row between ribbing and color work.  Finished pattern i and much pleased.  Need to check gauge.  

12/30/12 - Worked on the pattern ii.  Annoyingly it is spread over two charts, and one chart you work and then work in mirror image.  After three rows or four got to the point where I only have to glance at the charts instead of looking every step.  Second guessing the "picture frame."  For the majority of the body there is a side pattern that would mask the jog.  Eb says he doesn't think it is a problem.  May just have to agree and decrease away those stitches, not sure.
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Photo of the ill-fated oft mentioned purl row between the ribbing and the pattern.
4/18/13 - Took sweater apart again back to the ribbing.  Didn't like the purl row after ribbing or the false seam stitch. Re-visiting, it seems that two handed color knitting clicks a lot better then it used to [Ed. note: I had started continental purling at this point], the tension looks much more even.

4/20/13 - Sneaking suspicion gauge is off.  Do nothing.

4/21/13 - Work on sweater all morning, measure gauge.  Off by 4 inches around.  Decided to go down a needles size, and also make the regular size XL as husband is shrinking.

4/21/13  part 2 - Sweet husband says he will wear the sweater (for a few minutes) every day for a year to make up for all the trouble I'm having with it.

4/24/13 - Finished the ribbing again!  Doing joggless joins this round

4/29/13 - Refinished the snowflake band and started main part.  Worried over ripples in fabric.
What I think these notes show more than anything is that if you work on a project for an extended period of time, your skill level may change demonstrably over that period and you have to start over, a lot, to be happy with the finished project.  I really want to share that starting over is a major part of any major project for me.  Catching up to the place where you started over is fantastic, but I don't look at starting over as failure.  I rush through starting projects, I don't swatch just as much as the next knitter, but also, I know that by not swatching, I'm going to have to re-start, maybe several times.  
You will note that these entries jump from December to April.  The sweater was finished in November.  People have been asking me how long it took to make, and it really is impossible to say.  I made several afghans, many socks, and lots of other fun things this year.  All told, this would have probably been a 6 week project if I could have just sat down and worked on it.
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The Bear Sweater before the sleeve holes were cut open.
Also, this sweater involved a sewing machine steek.  It was terrifying and also very quick.  It came out more bulky than I would prefer, but also it was the first time I've tried something like that, so I'm willing to say that my next one will be better.  
In the end, I did buy the entire pamphlet off eBay, and for not as much as it is sometimes posted.  Not only do I love the bear sweater enough to own it properly, but also, it has a brother moose sweater pattern which might someday grace this space.  
That good sweet husband from April has been true to his word, and we are having a good time documenting this joint art project.  Please check out Eben and the Bear Sweater if you are so inclined for daily updates on their doings.  They are also famous on Facebook ;)
 
 
My goodness, with all the gifts given, I feel like it's a good time to clear my slate for 2013 blogwise.  I'm not going to dump everything into one post (not yet), so expect a few posts over the next few days (hopefully), and I'll try to arrange them thematically.  
Happily, one of my dear friends is expecting a child in January, and I was able to attend the West Coast baby shower for this East Coast friend over the Thanksgiving holiday.  
My first thought was that a winter baby needs layers!  I adore the Poppy Hat.  It is so easy yet interesting and I recommend it to anyone looking for a pattern for a little girl.  I worked all these pieces in newborn size, risky I know, but so cute!  I think this hat has the most potential to last for a little while though.  The band is very flexible, and the difference between sizes for babies is only a few stitches.  I wanted the embellishments for this set to be spring-y so I found a butterfly for the brim from 75 Birds, Butterflies & Little Beasts to Knit & Crochet.  
I chose a kimono style cardigan for the sweater.  The main thing I understand about dressing a baby is that you have to dress and undress them frequently because they expel a lot of bodily fluids all over themselves, and also that their heads are giant.  So a sweater that would be easy on and off seemed like a plus.  The front panels are worked on the diagonal, which was also a point of interest during the knitting.  The arms seem impossibly narrow, but that remains to be seen I guess.  The embellishment for this sweater is a little caterpillar from the 75 Birds, etc. book.  
Last but not least, because they are so sweet, some little thumb-less mittens with embroidered lady bugs.  These also are knit on the bias and they were very quick to make up.  I'm pretty much 100% that one of them is going to end up in a pile of dirty slush by the side of the road, but I'm good with that :)  I would definitely rather everything I make get used to its fullest and giving stuff to kids seems like the best way to ensure that.  
A perfect fit!  The yarn is 100% acrylic so that they won't have to worry about washing carefully, and the color choice was inspired by the pink shells, which is just what I think of when I think of little babies.
And to finish off this post, a different gift for another dear friend celebrating a milestone.  Though she eloped, I managed to quickly whip up this little bridal hot dog brooch.  The pattern comes from Teeny-Tiny Mochimochi.  I don't think I could have managed another wedding blanket in this calendar year anyway, so I guess I'm thankful for the elopement :)  They'll get something later, never fear!
 
 
It has become clear to me, (and possibly to you), that I would rather knit than write about it, but then at the same time, I love talking about fiber craft because it is something I love to do, and it is also something I feel like I really understand.  I have a friend who is an architect and she can explain how a building is built based on looking at the outside.  I find that amazing, and it makes me proud to think that I can do the same thing with a knitted object.  I've been reading a lot of Elizabeth Zimmerman (knitting sage) and she has a blanket pattern where she intentionally goes out of her way to make it a puzzle for other knitters to understand how it was assembled.  I find this idea delightful for the same reason I like cast-offs that look like cast-ons and seamless construction.
Speaking of Elizabeth Zimmerman, I finally got a chance to try out one of her most iconic designs, the Baby Surprise Jacket.  The surprise is all for the knitter because the whole jacket it knit in one flat, misshapen piece and then with two seams at the tops of the arms, it becomes a jacket.  My cousin and his wife had a beautiful baby girl at the beginning of the year and I was so pleased to make this for her.
I wanted to do a whole outfit, and so I found this free cute little hat pattern on Ravelry.
And since her name is Iris, I found a free Lion Brand pattern for an Iris and sized it down using smaller yarn and a smaller crochet hook.
For my mom's birthday, I knew I wanted to make a pair of socks, and I wanted to make some that would fit.  She wanted some more subdued socks she could wear to work, which isn't usually the direction I go in for her.  She loves the Skew pattern from Knitty, and after an abortive attempt with another pattern that came out looking like a Viking boot, I adapted the Skew pattern with eyelets so that the skew is still visible, but without using self striping yarn. 
It is great to make things that people have asked for.  My brother in law requested a knit necktie, which sounded like a fun challenge.  I lined the skinny part by the neck with a piece of grosgrain ribbon.  Knitting a long skinny strip of moss stitch takes a lot longer than you would think. This is a modified free Lion Brand pattern.
I love Kate Davies' designs.  Her photography is beautiful and her designs are historic and modern at the same time.  I bought her book, and the design that captivated me immediately was the Puffin Sweater.  Did you know Puffins live in Scotland?  I didn't, and I love this fact.  
This was a quick anniversary gift for my husband.  He loves the TV show Adventure Time and this is a character, Jake the Dog, from that show.  I had to do it all at work and sneak the car at one point to go buy the yarn, so all of that is more exciting than the actual project, which was fairly simple.  The eyes are regular craft eyes you can buy at the store and then I used whiteout to color in Jake's distinctive pupils.  The pattern is on Ravelry.
This summer for the most part I've been working on Wedding Blankets.  We have so many dear friends that are getting married and we don't have the wherewithal to get to most of the weddings.  Only one of the weddings has happened so far, so I'll only post one of the blankets.  The pattern is one I bought from Bernat and is worked from the center and I used a slightly obscure Elizabeth Zimmerman cast-off from The Knitters Almanac around the edge with a variegated yarn.
When we were having colder weather, and before I got moving on these wedding blankets, I was slaving away on this monster, a dream sweater for my husband from an out of print Dale of Norway book.  I love it and I can't wait to start working on it again in the fall.
 
 
This blog has been silent for a little while, while I try to figure out what to do with it.  I've decided that an exercise in daily writing is a good way to get out of this indecisive phase, and as an example, the following is writing from Friday night and Saturday night.   I've thrown in some photos of finished items for the last little bit of time to keep things light :)  Each photo is linked to the pattern if you're interested.  Here we go...
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Baby sweater for sweet baby Mara (sweater from a LYS, not on-line)
Friday night:

Oh my gosh, knitting frustration!  I have at least 9 work-in-progress projects going on right now.  And I don't want to work on any of them.  Is the solution to start a new project?  It certainly seemed hopeful.  The first project I tried to start called for size 13 circular needles.  I checked, and I have no regular set of 13 circulars.  I have two interchangeable needle sets, one of which goes up to size 11, and the other one does have size 13s.  Good news, except that I only have the shortest cable available for that set.  It is 9:30 pm at this point, so I can't run to the store.  Husband points out that I could order another large cable.  This wouldn't help me in the moment, but, I tell myself, I can endure this crazy for a few more days, so I order one from Amazon.  But I still want to knit to relax and I still don't want to work on any of my current projects.  
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Hot Fudge Sundae Socks for my mom
Maybe I could start something else that is ready to go.  Maybe a hat that I bought the yarn for last Christmas.  Let's see, that wants size 10 double pointed needles.  I don't have those, but I can come up with two size 10 circulars on the short cables between the two interchangeable sets.  Let me just check gauge before I'm off and running on this... oh, I have 8 stitches per inch instead of the 6 required by the gauge.  And, the fabric already seems like it is too loose, and when you stretch it, you can see through the "holes", no good for a hat.  Going up in needle size to get the right gauge would make the fabric even looser.  Could I hold two strands of the yarn together?  Yes, but then I wouldn't have enough yarn to finish the project, and this yarn is actually discontinued I've had it in my stash for so long.  
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Thank you gift for the wonderful woman who made my husband's kilt
Hm, maybe I should start some complicated doily, because I finally have some size 30 thread.  No, I know that is a bad idea for what is now 10 pm.  I'll just work on this reversible project that I started in 2009 and picked up again recently. It is a little tedious because there are so many stitches per row, but it has a certain appeal.  You know, after the gauge being so off on that hat, maybe i should just check it on this for a lark.  Oh, I'm 2 stitches off on the vertical and horizontal gauge, oh, and I also just learned a much prettier way to join the sides.  So, I guess I should take it apart?  but each row takes around 20 min.  I don't want to take it apart, but on the other had, I still have much further to go on the project than I've already gone.    
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Christmas ornaments
Saturday night:

After a morning of continuing to bemoan my situation, I awoke from a nap to a mail delivery of the most lovely Icelandic yarn from a friend who just came back from a trip.  
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Beautiful surprise wool from Iceland
The colors are beautiful and the sentiment is charming.  Alright, I'm feeling better.  I planned to go to a bagpipe jam session with my husband that night, and had thought I would bring a project to while away the hours, but in my current state I was beside myself as to what that project would be.  
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Observe, I had the perfect eye stalk button in my button box!
Ultimately I decided to go back to a wedding gift project that is due in August that I hadn't worked on since October (a conservative estimate).  What a good project to return to!  Cables to keep things interesting, 100% wool yarn, one eye calming cream color.  Pleasant music, and a lovely bunch of German women who happened to be there who lavished my project with ego boosting praise and then descended upon me trying to show me how to do a continental purl stitch.  
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Friend commissioned baby two-toed sloth
There were three women, two were mother and daughter, and each had her own slightly different continental purl technique and each felt her own way made the most sense, and it was such a nice moment of knitter fellowship and so charming to be literally hugged from behind by one of the women while she grabbed my hands and  attempted to lead them through her version of a purl.  So i'm back in the game, inching my way back to relaxing knitting.  
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Everyone cuddles when they're cuddly!
And that's why i need to write every day here, because the experience of knitting is so mercurial to me and I want to try to document it, maybe for 2 weeks?  
 
 
My friend has a joke that her blog is a “blog for moms.” Not that she writes for moms, but that her main readership is her mom, a friend’s mom, her boyfriend’s mom, etc.  I think it is mostly a way of expressing the confusing feeling of writing for the internet.  You don’t really know who you are writing for, besides your mom.   
Personally, though I don't always know who all is reading, I know that my mom is my most dedicated reader, and also my most dedicated harasser when I fall behind in my posts.  One of the reasons I fall behind is that I get it into my head that I have specific things I want to say about my projects, and I can’t say them to my own satisfaction.  My mom always has tons of nice stuff to say about what I’ve made, so I decided to just let her say it this time, and also clean out the backlog of projects I needed to share with you all, and then maybe I can get motivated from here moving forward.  I've included links for the patterns.  Some are only on Ravelry, one is on Lion Brand and you have to log in to see it.  
So, without further ado, here’s my mom: 
Sarah just finished making me this beautiful silk shirt.  Last February, I took a trip to California to visit the kids and go with Sarah to the Stitches West Show in San Jose.  There, we found this pattern and yarn.  It sat around until late July when we gathered in Paradise (Michigan), and there, Sarah started working on the project.  So soft, so lovely. This pattern can be adjusted for any body size.  And of course, Sarah made it so it fits me perfectly.  [pattern]
The cute red and white placemat is 100% cotton, and 100% LOVED by Sarah’s cat Mona.  I guess you could say that it is a catmat…  The pattern is a free pattern from Red Heart.  [pattern]
Lovely wool socks for the fisherman.  Sarah’s father-in-law loves to fish – and loves to keep warm.  These socks work for both!  I love the red toes and the heals as well as the ultra cool pattern on the leg. [pattern, though I did a jojo heel, which is not in the book.]
Mom and Mom-in-law both got a pair of these paneled socks.  The blended yarn worked in sections really makes for some cool socks.  [pattern, above with a short row heel and picot hemmed cuff, below with a heel flap heel and ribbed cuff.]
Having such a talented daughter, I tend to make a lot of special requests.  Sarah really went out of her way for a dear friend of mine.  With a new German Shepherd in the family, I thought it would be nice for my friend to have a knit German Shepherd for her collection.  So I sent photos of the puppy to Sarah, who went through her stash to try to match the markings of the actual dog.  She did a fantastic job (of course).  The odd thing was that the dog was scared of the knit dog.  She wouldn’t stop barking at her miniature.  Sarah thought this might have happened because she made the dog while dog sitting.  Maybe the dog could smell the other dog on the yarn?  Who knows? [pattern]
And the HATS. 
My husband has worn a knit hat forever.  His mother was an amazing knitter (as is his daughter).  When Sarah was researching the perfect hat to make for her Dad, she came into a quandary.   There were TWO hats that she liked.  The best solution was achieved.  Sarah knit two hats for her Daddy.  One for really cold weather, one for medium cold weather.  Both lovely (although the patterned one is my favorite).  Both blue (because that is her Daddy's favorite color).  Both wool (because that is what Daddy loves).  [and I never got a finished photo of the one on the right!  left: pattern, right: pattern]
Okay, thanks Mom! for guest blogging.  I’ll be back next week with a post about a new project. 
 
 
Last time I wrote about stash busting.  And then I went to Madrona, and then I went to Stitches.  But I'm telling myself I did my shopping for the year, and at this point I intend on sticking with that.  In other words, my goal for the rest of the year is that every project here will be stash busting.  

I would love to write a whole Madrona post, but I didn't take any photos, so I will just say, it was lovely!  It was so cool to be in classes with a bunch of really passionate skilled knitters, and it was thrilling to be a little star struck taking classes from Jared Flood, Franklin Habit, Lucy Neatby, and Amy Detjen (Amy doesn't have much of a web identity, but she is the assistant for Elizabeth Zimmerman's daughter.  Pretty good pedigree!).  It is one of those things about knitting that you can get as broad or as precises as you want to about your technique.  I learned great color work and finishing tips that would mostly only be noticeable to a knitter, but are fun to think about.  And I would feel more confident about tackling an antique pattern, if I had a wild hair to do so.  I would totally recommend the conference and hope to go back.  The other major highlight of the trip was that I got to stay with friends in Seattle, one of whom was the recipient of the dutch sweater I've been working on, off and no, for almost a year.  So, ta-da:
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From the front, confident
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From the back, not too short!
Technical notes: I'm very pleased with the way it came out.  The fit ended up being pretty perfect and using the shoulder shapping from the Global Warming sweater worked so well.  

Because I had so many more stitches to each round than the Global Warming, I ended up with a boat neck, which was what I wanted anyway. 

Now, about that neck: I knew I wanted to do a rolled cast-off which requires a 1 x 1 ribbing, but I had done a 2 x 1 ribbing.  The way I've done it before, I had increased between the 2 knit stitches, to create the 1 x 1 ribbing that allows for the rolled bind off (which is essentially putting all the knit stitches on one double pointed needle, all the purl stitches on another double pointed needle, and doing a kitchner bind off).  Well, I did my increases, did my kitchner bind off, and ended up with a big floppy neck line.  I though, "blocking will fix this," but it didn't.  The night before I left, while the knitting was still slightly damp, I fear, I undid the bind off, and re-did it by knitting the two knit stitches in the ribbing together, so that I still ended up with a 1 x 1 ribbing at the end, but with 1/3 fewer stitches, instead of 1/3 more stitches.  I did the same rolled bind off and the results were perfect!
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Detail of the neck cast-off
Of course I learned some stranded color techniques at Madrona that would have improved this garment, but probably only to my eyes.  On the whole a very satisfying crafting experience.  
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Patterned dress competition in Tacoma
 
 
Ah the knitter’s stash and stash-busting.  For the uninitiated, the stash is what knitters call their hoard of yarn.  Stash busting is using yarn from the stash, thereby making the stash a tiny bit smaller.  

The title of this post is really only figurative, because while my stash occupies a large portion of my closet, it has also spread to sections of my book shelf, and, horror of horrors, the terribly yarn-un-friendly location of the garage.  
Stash!
Lori, Lori, quite aquisitory, how does your stash grow?  

Well, I am guilty of what I will call “whole project buying”.  I see a pattern, I love it, I buy all the yarn needed for it, and then I squirrel it away because I certainly don’t have time to start a new project, I have several projects going already!  Sometimes, three years later, I start these projects, sometimes, I don’t.  

Sometimes you need a tiny bit of black acrylic for the ends of the eye stalks of some hermit crab, and so you buy a giant ball of red heart, which never, ever, ends, all the while taking up a lot of cubic inches of stash real estate.  

A lot of the time, you know that it takes 100g of sock yarn to make a pair of socks, so you buy 1000g of sock yarn, 100g at a time, with the expectation that some day you will make ten pairs of socks.  Not an unlikely expectation at all.  

The only problem is that then, the new knitting magazines show up on your door step, or you spend a night browsing on Ravelry, or someone you can’t refuse says, I found this pattern, please make it for me, and then you find yourself buying more yarn.  And at the end of these projects, there is always a little yarn left over, and so the stash grows a little, even though yarn is leaving the house.  

But then, none of this is really complaining, because gazing at your stash is a satisfying sort of activity in it’s own right.  

But so is stash busting.  

I’m working on two stash busting projects right now.  One is a sweet sweater I started about one year ago.  I’m re-starting it really.  The little dutch sweater dress that will some day be a reality.  
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A pretty cute little sweater confection.
I’ve got miles to knit before I sleep on this one, but the pattern keeps it entertaining, imagining what little dutch people would say while they were waiting for their heads to be knit.  Instead of just making the original vintage pattern larger, I’m using the general pattern suggestions for the Global Warming sweater, I’m looking forward to doing the sleeves!  I had a brief conniption last night because, while I’ve known I will need to order more of the white yarn for a while, I’ve been putting it off.  The white is a nice thick sport weight from Knitpicks called Telemark.  Well, "they" have discontinued Telemark, and it seems, replaced it with Wool of the Andes, which I don't have a particular gripe with, except that WotA has about 30 yds more per 50g ball, which means it is not as thick and sturdy.  I was imagining all kinds of tragic looking outcomes to this situation, but this morning I found 6 balls of the yarn hanging out in the UK, and that should be enough to finish the project.  Hurrah!

But even while I have this project that is so sweet and tons of fun, and even has some technical planning aspects to keep me engaged, I’ve been just pining to crochet.  So much so that I made this a few nights ago:
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Don’t worry, it's only 6 ½ inches square
I was pouring over my doily books, almost drooling, wondering where I could get size 30 cotton thread.  However, I am well aware that clearly I don’t need more thread, and really, more doilies.  So, the part of my mind that wasn’t overtaken with feverish doily planning remembered a box of yarn from 2009 that was in the garage that was waiting to become a ripple afghan.  Ta-da:
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Violet, you're turning violet, Violet!
Not that we need blankets either, but I dream of a day when I’ve got a lovely purple ruffle afghan on the back of one chair, and a beautiful mustard Girasole over the back of the couch.  I haven’t bought the yarn for the Girasole...yet.  
 
 
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Well, here I am, doing what could be a Wonder Woman pose.  Finished item after finished item.  But really, this onslaugt is mearly a hint to the sad state of affairs many of these projects have been languishing in for months.  I can't even recall when I finished this puppy, but it had to have been at least May, if not earlier.  
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How to tell the story of the sweater without telling the story of the yarn?  The yarn, a beautiful Alpaca/Silk blend from Blue Sky Alpaca, was purchased last November!  A wonderful lady I've known almost all my life wanted to take me yarn shopping when I was home for Thanksgiving last year.  I excitedly selected a pattern and we found this stuff to make it.  My original plan was to make this bobble lace skirt.  I'm enough of a knitting newbie to brush aside the idea that a knit skirt might not be a good idea vis a vie opacity.  As I worked on the bobble lace, and my how I worked, I watched my visions of a cute warm skirt dwindle, and every time I googled photos of the skirt to see how other people's work had turned out to gain motivation, I just saw a lot of underpants through skirts!  
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As the yarn and pattern sat sadly inactive, the Summer issue of Interweave Knits showed up, and in it, this Lace Saddle Tee for which I had the perfect yarn!  It was meant to be, and then it turned out that the pattern was really neat.  The sleaves are knit using short rows, and the designer included in the pattern the yarn over method for creating short rows, instead of the wrap method, and this has totally been a revalation for me for my toy knitting, so, double bonus!  
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Anyway, I actually wore it to work today, my first time ever wearing something I made out of the house.  It is soft and fits, and is perfect for a slightly cool day like today when worn over a long sleeved t-shirt.  
 
 
I have been finishing things like there is no tomorrow.  Really.  Because it feels like Christmas is tomorrow and I haven't even started my Christmas knitting.  Not that I have a whole lot.  I think I have actually been fairly reasonable this year.  And it is only October. 
Anyway, I've been trying to finish off some long standing projects as a way of procrastinating.  I've decided not to start any new projects just yet, despite the inviting whispers coming from one of my new knitted lace doilies books.  And before you even murmur "Who needs a doily, you've made tons you aren't doing anything with" I would say that doilies seem like a good road to getting comfortable with a technique, and if I'm ever going to knit the lace shawl of my dreams (which I will only wear in my dreams) then I should get comfortable with the technique. 
Okay, well, enough with the suspense, the Plum sweater is basically finished.  I realized looking back that the first time I posted about it was in February, so, as a reminder for everyone, here is a photo from the original instruction pamphlet:
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And here is my nearly finished product:
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This poor thing was sitting in a tote bag for months, front and back finished, sleeves finished, just waiting for me to get over my anxiety of side seams.  Well I did.  And also this was my first experience with steam blocking, which, as far as I could tell from my research, amounts to ironing the sweater from the back.  
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The torso of the sweater may be a little short to wear with jeans, but it works great with a high waisted skirt.  I'm sure that is what it was planned for.  Judging by the model, I don't think that she wore dungarees unless she was out on the farm or something.  If you look closely at the first photo, you can see the pearlescent snaps along the right shoulder.  Those were quite a pain, and I'm still not totally sure that they will stay.  Perhaps it was the thick knitting, or maybe the lack of special snap applying pliers, but somehow they just don't want to stay.  
The reason I say almost finished is because the original pattern called for "Parapads, the ready made shoulder pad."  I had thought I could get by without shoulder pads, but I think, now, that they would actually add something to the garment so I'm going to have to get some.  I'm putting it off though, because it has been boiling here temperature wise, and I don't really care to wear a fair isle double thick wool sweater right now.
And finally, another little knit co-worker gift as part of what my husband is calling the office beautification project, some happy little fuchsia flowers:
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