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...
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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!
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
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.
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.
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!
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!
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:
And here is my nearly finished product:
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.
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:
UPDATE: My mom tells me she heard about Reknit on NPR and that it is a mother-SON team, not mother daughter. Me and my sexist assumptions. It would seem that children of any sex can put their moms to work. After reading the NPR article, now I'm just outraged for this woman. I mean, I understand that she is not being forced at gunpoint to knit scarves, but 7-8 hours of work for $30! This is why I am always very polite but firm with people who suggest that I sell my stuff.
First off, a few little delicious tidbits from a few weeks ago. The combination of knitting gifts and having this blog can be an awkward one. I don’t want to post photos of gifts before they are given, and then by the time they are given, I’m too lazy to go back and post. Here, however, are some photos of gifts.
One is another little mouse. This guy was also made with sock yarn, but with size 00 needles instead of 000. The change in needle size made it much easier to make the little bobbles that are his feet and hands and don’t seem to actually have affected size all that much. And the stuffing doesn’t come through the holes in the knitting or anything like that.
The second gift is a little nest pin cushion. I have a friend who once told me how she thought the nest was a very nice symbol of home. Ever since then when I see nests on necklaces or screen prints, I think of her, but my bank account doesn’t really allow for random silver nest purchase, nor, do I think, she would appreciate me filling up her house with nests. However, when I saw this nest in Closely Knit by Hannah Fettig, and I probably saw it now about a year and a half ago, I thought of my friend and decided that some time, I would make it. So, after a year and a half, the stars aligned, I had dark brown and egg blue in DK weight. I couldn’t find all of my dp size 6 that the pattern call for, so I did try to make the nest on size 3 first (I’m sure if there is a way to use smaller needles and yarn then I will). The nest itself is done in a pretty simple K2, cable 2, K2, cable 2 cable stitch. You can’t really see it in the pictures, and you can’t even really see it on the nest, but it is ultimately worth it I guess. Using the size 3s and doing the cables made the nest very tight and tense and hard, not quite the effect I was going for. But then while doing a massive reorganization of my yarns, sorting by weight instead of date purchase J, I found the rest of my size 6 dpns, don’t ask me what they were doing away from their friends. The next nest was much more successful. I’ve seen on other blogs, that people felt the need to block the nest, but I did not feel such a need. Mine had good structure (and I hate blocking anyway). I used a little purchased bird as the directions suggested. I did ponder making a knit bird, but in the end, I wanted to be able to send off the project and the little bought bird does give the nest somehow a more homey, thrift store type feel that I like.
Also, no offence meant to the author, but I could not stand the directions for making the eggs. I’m not sure if I’m just a sloppy provisional caster-oner, or if there is some other malfunction in my knitting, but casting on, and knitting in one direction, and then casting off and picking up the stitches in the middle and knitting in the other direction did not work for me. If you want an easy egg, here you go:
Materials: 4 size 6 dpns, a little stuffing, a little egg colored yarn
Onto 3 size 6 dpns, cast on 6 stitches, 2 on each needle.
Row 1: Knit 1 round
Row 2: *k1, make 1, k1*, repeat twice more (9 total stitches)
Row 3: *k3, make 1*, repeat twice more (12 total stitches)
Rows 4-8: Knit 5 rounds
Row 9: *k2, k2tog*, repeat twice more (9 total stitches)
Rows 10-11: Knit 2 rounds
It is a good idea to go ahead and stuff the egg now, as the next two decrease rows would make it hard to do so afterward.
Row 12: *k1, k2tog*, repeat twice more (6 stitches total)
Row 1: *k2tog*, repeat twice more (3 stitches total)
Cut yarn, draw cut end through remaining 6 stitches on needles and pull tight. Use cast on end to sew any hole remaining at the bottom together.
I’m not sure what else you could do with knitted eggs besides put them into little nests. They seem to make great, if short lived, cat toys, though this was not discovered on purpose. Also, I must say, the nest makes a great cat sized bowler hat.
Other updates include the quilt which grows when I grow board of plums
And the plums, which grow when I get board of the fact that you can’t carry a quilt around with you and whip it out at social gatherings. The back is all finished and I’m at present working on one of the arms, in order to feel like I’m making more progress, working with fewer stitches, and also to gauge the actual amount of yarn this project is going to take by working exactly half a sweater.
Bring on the plums!
Here are some pics of the first line of the pattern for my soon (I hope soon) to be too charming plum sweater. The switching of colors leads to much twisted yarn, but at this point I still feel like it is worth it. The original was meant to be cherries, but I think this color scheme of plums better suits my needs. Just so we can all marvel at what I shall have soon, here is a pic of the original.
I'm practicing this pose every day in the mirror just to be ready...