The Universe is Against Me

Why, you ask, is the Universe against me? Listen up. First of all, I’m a sucker. I will pretty much knit anything for anyone who asks me. A few posts ago we went over the assortment of crazy hats and other things that my brother has asked for and I know that I’ve related the troubles a certain pair of slipper-socks for my dad caused. Well, my father was at it again this week. It started with a seemingly harmless request: “Melanie, can you make me a hat that will keep my ears warm when I go running?” Um, I am a knitter, aren’t I? What could be easier than a hat (OK, a garter stitch scarf, but what else?) So I open up Ravelry and start showing him the thousands of hat patterns that could be his new hat. He picked the third picture down which happened to be Turn A Square by Jared Flood aka Brooklyn Tweed. Cool. No problem. I have some Noro, I have some neutral colored wool… I go to my stash and pull out the Noro (which is total male-friendly colors) and the plain wool and show it to pops. He doesn’t like the Noro, it’s light blues and greens and he wants dark colors. OK, I don’t have any dark Noro, so I ask: “Do you really care if the stripes are variegated?” Of course he does. Me: “Will this at least work for the solid color?” (as I hold up the good plain wool.) Of course not, it’s scratchy. For the record, no it wasn’t. Then dad says, “Can’t I just come with you down to the store and pick out what I like?” Sure, sure, no problem. Only two weeks ago did I swear off buying yarn for the next six months, but sure, get your coat. On the up side, it’s a pretty rocking hat.

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The Noro is Silk Garden in a bunch of gorgeous neutral shades ranging from cream to gold to light grey. The other color is Wave by Filatura Di Crosa which is a really nice Wool/Silk blend. The Wave knits up just a little bit nubbley so it the hat has kind of a rustic feel… Alright, no joke, as I’m sitting here typing this my dad comes in and says: “Melanie, can you do me a favor?” Me (looking at him out of the corner of my eye): “That depends…” Dad: “Can you make me another of those hats so I can give it to my running buddy?” Me: “Same yarn?” Dad: “Yeah, will you need to buy more?” Me: “Yes.” So I set out to write a post about how the universe is against me and obviously against my yarn fast. Here is incontrovertible proof. In the middle of the post, I’m asked to buy more yarn… Luckily I have enough of the Noro left over, I just need more of the Wave. Really Universe? Really?

Also, I’ve been garter-ing away on my Op Art blanket and have made some progress. I thought I was whizzing right along, it kept getting bigger and bigger and even though my logic center told me that it was because the blanket is knit from the center out I thought it would end up being a pretty quick project. So I call Andrew and ask him to do some math for me… If I start with 4 and I add 4 every round and I need to get to 888, how many rounds is that? Answer: 222. OK, sounds like a lot but I’ve already done over 50 rounds so I’m 25% done already. No says Andrew, that is bad math. Because each round gets bigger the first 50 rounds are certainly much shorter than the last 50 rounds. OK, says I, what percentage have I done. Andrew calculates…. 8, EIGHT! that’s it. Universe, I hate you. Also, Andrew calculated that there will be 99,012 stitches in the blanket, and that I’ve done just under 9,000.

The Soul Destroying Monster

I am a good Sister. Scratch that, I am an amazing sister! I will pretty much knit my brother anything that he asks for. Now this may not sound like it makes me an amazing sister since I like knitting. So why is it so amazing of me to acquiesce to a request to knit? Well my brother doesn’t ever ask for normal things like socks, beanies, scarves, no he wants funny hats. Lots and lots of funny hats. In the past I have made him a Jayne Cobb Hat, a Lumberjack Hat with THREE interchangeable mustaches, and a hat shaped like something straight from hell. This is in addition to set of convertible mittens, and a set of washcloths for his new apartment. So when my brother asked me to make him the Cthulhuclava for his birthday, I agreed even though you have to pay for the pattern and as a rule, I don’t like to pay for single patterns. So I bought the pattern, read through it, and promptly shoved it into the very bowels of my knitting bag because it just looked miserable. Look at this:

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That’s not even half of all the ends that you have to weave in for this project. Not to mention the fact that there is more seaming than you could possibly expect from a hat (no matter how silly) and an EIGHT STITCH APPLIED I-CORD! Yes my friends, this truly is the project from hell.
So I told my brother a few little white lies about how I was diligently working on the hat, and that he would have it soon, soon, soon, soon… When, in actuality, I was cowering in fear from the very idea of even beginning. (I know this doesn’t make me sound like I’m an amazing sister, but trust me, the act of knitting this hat, no matter how late it ended up being, make me some sort of goddess, I’m pretty sure.

Here’s what the hat looks like when it feels like you’re almost done but really you have way more to go than you possible care to imagine:

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(The flipping off of the camera was not intentional, though it may have been a subconscious reaction to the hat…)

Finally, here’s what the hat looks like when all is said (read sworn) and done:

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If you know anything about Cthulhu, you know that he is a crazy sea-monster-type creature from the twisted brain of H. P. Lovecraft. If humans hear his call they instantly go insane. The creator of the pattern I’m sure had this in mind when she was writing it because I was feeling a bit wacko there at the end.

In other good/disturbing news, Stash Inventory 2009 is complete. Every ball of yarn I own is now accounted for in my Ravelry stash. It is both a beautiful and terrible sight. After taking a long hard look at how much yarn I actually have I decided that I would not buy yarn until at least 2010 because, really, it’s a bit obscene how much yarn I have. Not two days later, my dad asked me to make him a hat in colors that I don’t have in my stash… Seriously, the world is out to destroy my soul.

Crossing the finish line

Way back in August I decided that I would knit a sweater for the Ravelympics… A heavily textured Irish fisherman’s sweater… What? Needless to say, I didn’t finish, and once the Ravelympics ended I lost my enthusiasm for the project. I worked on it on and off a row or two at a time but didn’t really put that much effort into it. The thing is, the sweater was meant for Andrew and this winter was one of the worst Wisconsin has ever had. Needless to say I frequently got questions from him about just when exactly he would be getting his nice warm wool sweater… Finally I decided that I needed to finish the project, so I told myself that I couldn’t buy any more yarn until the sweater was finished. Three weeks later:

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Originally, I found the pattern on Ravelry which linked to a pattern on someone’s blog but latter the pattern was linked to an old Berroco pattern booklet.

The yarn is Cascade 220 heather in the color Cordova. It’s basically brown with flecks of red and yellow. The sweater looked really skinny as I was knitting it because the cables pulled in so much. Before I blocked it it was only 15 inches across. After blocking it was 19.5 inches across. The pattern was written to be knit flat, but I modified it to be knit it the round. Also, the pattern was written out line by line so I charted it all out. Because it was knit in the round I had to do a small steek for the neck opening. I did a crochet line to secure the steek and it seemed to work pretty well. Of course now it’s too warm to wear a wool sweater so I won’t get to see my handy work in action for another 8 months… So I’m much later than most of the contestants but I’m finally crossing the finish line.

Much less exciting, I got bored with the slow progress I was making on the sweater so I whipped up this hat quickly.

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Flattering picture I know… This is the Elizabeth Zimmerman Snail Hat. The patter is in Knitting Without Tears and it was also published in VougeKnitting this last winter.

I have no idea what the yarn is. It was given to me by Andrew’s sister without a label. It felted so it must be animal fiber and it’s super soft so my guess is merino wool. It’s a cute hat and it knits up in about 2.5 hours so I can’t complain.

March=Spring, Damnit!

DAMN! DAMN! DAMN! It’s MARCH! March and it’s 16 degrees outside. My mother and father are enjoying fantastically warm temperatures in the 70s down in New Mexico and I’m shivering to death up here. As a proper pacific-northwesterner, having lived until I was 18 in southern Oregon, I associate March with the start of spring. Sure maybe it’s a bit rainy, and maybe there are some days in the high 40s at the beginning of the month… but 16 degrees? Damn the Midwest! OK, rant over.

Much as I hate the freezing cold weather in what everyone knows is the first month of spring, my knitting group from school got to go to the Bjorklunden lodge this weekend which was a perfect place to be in below-freezing temperatures. Bjorklunden is a lodge that Lawrence owns up in Door County, WI–right on lake Michigan. The lodge is huge and so cozy it was a perfect place for a nice weekend getaway. I didn’t take any pictures inside the lodge (because I’m crazy) but yarndude did and he captured it perfectly. See. I’m the one in the red. I did make it outside to take a quick picture of the project that I finished though. These are called “pescovegetarian mittens” from villaelain’s blog. They use bulky yarn which means they work up super fast and the simple knit-purl motif on the back of the hand shows off a slightly variagated yarn perfectly! I used malabrigo bulky, in the violetas colorway, to make them. Like the worsted and the lace version of the yarn it’s perfect and wonderful and soft and squishy and fantastic.

Aside from the mittens I also worked on Andrew’s sweater (believe it or not) and the sleeve is growing slowly but surely. And, I even managed to do some work on my small-but-growing Swallowtail shawl. Aside from the projects for myself, as a group we decided to knit preemie hats for knit one, save one a totally awesome charity that helps keep preemie babies around the world warm and alive.

Before we went up to the lodge I was frantically trying to finish this monster hat. This is the bokaclava pattern that is available for free on Ravelry. My version is knit in Encore because it’s cheap and it was for my brother who is by no means a fiber snob. Here it is modeled on my roommate Peter. There is a lot of seaming and casting on and off and weaving in ends for such a small finished object. I don’t think I will ever make this again, but the designer also has a Dragonclava and a Cthuluclava and my brother has already requested them both so similar projects seem to be in my future.



This is a scarf that I knit for Andrew because the one he had before is from when I first started knitting and it was pretty bad. Andrew picked out the yarn and colorway and approved the pattern as sufficiently manly. The pattern is Staggered Rib Scarf from Suzie Blackman and it is a great knit-purl pattern for a unisex scarf. I used Swish Bulky from Knit Picks in the Marlin colorway. The yarn is very soft and squishy but I think it’s pretty thin to be called a bulky yarn. I think all their yarns tend to be on the thin side for what they claim to be–but for the price you pay who cares.


These convertible mittens have been on Andrew’s wish list since last winter and I finally buckled down and knit him some. He was particularly indignant that I knit a pair of convertible mittens earlier this school year for my brother who has been waiting far less time that Andrew had. So I cast on and whipped these up pretty quickly. The yarn is Rustic by Cascade and it’s a wool-linen blend that is very soft. The linen softens up so much after just one wash and has continued to soften with wear. The pattern is one of the downloadable patterns from the knitpicks website called “Men’s Convertable Fingerless Gloves.” I made two small modifications to the pattern. First I added a buttonhole to each thumb so that Andrew can pop his thumbs out if he needs to use them for gripping. Second I picked up stitches across the back of the and and knit from them rather than knitting the mitten top seperately and sewing it on later.


The last sock blank swap that I moderated had a theme of “where I’m from” so I decided to go New Mexican rather than just leaving the blank snow white to represent Wisconsin. This is my interpretation of New Mexico. I’m very curious to see how these knit up into socks so I’m hoping that the person I sent them to gets picturtes up shortly. It made me very happy to dye this because the bright southwest colors were nice to play with as the snow continued to fall here.


These are the fingerless gloves that I cast on right after I finished my mom’s christmas sweater but it took me a while to finish them because I was a bit tired of knitting (gasp I know) after plowing throught the sweater in record time. They were finished shortly after I got back to school and I got them in the mail to my Grandma who seemed to appreciate them even though I did get a snarky remark about them being late… That’s my grandma for you. This yarn is Rowan Cocoon and it’s extremely expensive–$16 a skein! I only used one skein to make these, so my project cost was reasonable but I don’t know how people can afford to make sweaters out of this stuff. The pattern, like most of the patterns I use, is free on Ravelry and it is called “Delovely.”

This is the sock blank that I received from the swap that happened in the fall (so I’m a bit behind on my sock knitting… I love the swap anyway!) I requested a halloween-themed blank and I love what I got. The blank is translating into the most vibrant gorgeous socks. The best part is that while they can totally be worn for halloween, the socks don’t look OVERLY halloween-y so I can wear them all year round (or all of the year that wool socks are appropriate) without feeling silly. These are about double the length that they appear in the picture below, but I still have about 3 inches before I can turn the heel. I’m using the two-at-a-time toe-up magic loop pattern from the Knit Picks website and so far it’s great. I used judy’s magic cast on (truly magic!) for the toes and case on 18 stitches per side (36 per sock) and increased up to 52. I have very square toes so I don’t need the traditional pointy socks. When I got to the middle of my arch I increased to 60 and I think I’ll stay there untill I do some more increases for my calf.


It’s a giant pain in the ass to move pictures around so my pictures are in reverse chronological order. Scroll back up to the top of the page and you’ll see things in the right order.

What happened to my life?

Wow… so I kinda fell off the map from September until what is it now… December! I blame my crazy term at school, in which classes and work have been coupled with law school applications… very busy. That does not mean that I haven’t been knitting however. The study washcloths that I blogged about way back in early-September were finished way back in middle-September. Here’s the last four that didn’t appear in my earlier (much earlier) blog post, and then a group shot of them all after they had been washed and the stranding had a chance to even out.







It was a pretty silly project but it was kind of fun and mindless which is what I needed this summer and it was a fun gift for my brother before he went off to college. Strangely my brother demands more knitwear from me than anyone else I know… Though now that it’s getting cold Andrew has been hounding me for some more warm wool socks… The other WIP from my last blog forever ago that is now a FO are my green socks.

These are impossible to photography such that the texture stand out. Really they look very nice. In the picture they’re a bit fuzzy because I wear them almost every week. They have been washed and dried in the machine and they came out just fine… a bit fuzzy but nothing my sweater stone couldn’t handle. The other three WIP from my last post Andrew’s sweater, Swallowtail shawl, and Mom’s socks are all still unfinished… SHHHHH

One last thing from my summer I dyed a really neat sock blank.
This blank was kettle dyed with a base of orange-y/yellow then I laid down cut-outs of leaf shapes that I printed from the internet and used a spray bottle to spray the blank with red and brown. The pattern is only on the top of the blank it didn’t sink through to the bottom.

Since I’ve been at school I’ve completed several projects. I got all my Christmas knitting for Andrew’s family done. For Andrew’s mother there are some waffle-stitch wrist warmers.

These wrist warmers were a project I found when looking for something to do with half a skein of Malabrigo (which is what they’re made from). The only think I don’t know about them is that they’re knit flat and then seamed. If I make them again I’ll knit them in the round.

For Andrew’s Grandma I used the other half skein of Malabrigo to make Tudora from Knitty.

I love this. It’s so warm and snuggly. I want to keep it for myself. I really like that it only takes half a skein to make this project because it means you can buy one skein of luxury yarn and make something really pretty and it’s not that expensive.

For Andrew’s dad there’s Koolhaas.

This is another project that turned out beautifully and that I want to keep for myself. It also took less than one skein of Malabrigo so it’s pretty cheap to make as well. The pattern is pretty tedious. There are some rows where you have to knit 1×1 cables the whole way arround. I cable with a cable needle so it was pretty slow going, took me about one and half weeks of knitting which for a hat seems a bit excessive.

For Andrew’s other grandma there’s Branching Out.

This is made from a Classic Elite yarn called Miracle which is an Alpaca Tencle blend. The yarn is about the softest thing you’ve ever felt. I made the shorter version of the scarf, 27 repeats, and it’s long enough to wrap around my neck twice.

The other small project that I did that I guess is technically gift knitting because I gave it to my brother are these convertible mittens.

The reason I hesitate to call these a gift is because my brother basically demanded them of me. They’re made from Knitpicks Essential a colorway called Dune Twist the color is now discontined which is a shame. These are the Broadstreet Mittens from knitty and they took just over one skein of Essential but my brother had giant man hands. If they were made for someone with normal sized hands they would use one skein. Now that Adam has a pair, Andrew wants some so it looks like I’ll be knitting another pair soon.

Finally, the last thing that I did was to modify the sweater I finised in the spring. The sweater had an A-line body and it kinda made me look pregnant because it poofed out at just the wrong place. Sooo, I steaked it. I sewed safety stitches with my sewing machine then took in the sides. Now it looks much more flattering.

Right now I’m working on a sweater for my mother for her christmas present. Its the Twisted Pullover from More Big Girl Knits and it’s made from Knit Picks Swish Worsted. I have one sleve and I’m about two thirds of the way through the second sleve. I have 19 days… We’ll see. I’ll post pictures after I have some more progress. Thats all for my knitting since the last post… I doesn’t seem like much now that It’s all laid out together but I’ve been really busy with law school applications as well.

The Yarn Harlot’s Dream

In the Yarn Harlot‘s latest book Things I Learned from Knitting (Whether I Wanted to or Not) she’s got a bit about how she has a secret wish that she could have a semi-serious leg injury. Nothing excruciatingly painful but something that required no walking to heal. A knitters paradise…


She’d sure be jealous of me. One week ago I had to have surgery on my foot to correct a misaligned joint. My bones didn’t line up correctly so the bone ground on the cartilage in the joint. The bone had to be cut and fused into the right place then secured with a screw. It sounds worse than it is but it means 8 weeks of no walking. The first 2 weeks are extreme bed rest, laying/sitting all day with the foot elevated above the heart. The next weeks I can move around on crutches but not too much. Week 8 is when I can finally put weight on the foot again. It has been boring. I’ve spent most of the time either knitting or practicing for the LSAT but as I’m also on percoset I’m much better at the knitting. Here’s proof:

My modern baby blanket is finished. I just got it off the needles today. I was wondering whether or not I should put the border on because my edges were pretty straight as it was, then I thought to myself “it’s not like I’m strapped for time…” I’m so glad I decided to add it it really pulled the whole thing together and gave it a professional looking finish.

I used the I-cord edging that Kelly Petkun demonstrates on her blog. Her videos of how to get the edging going, turn a corner, and weave in the ends were very helpful! The blanket has already been through the washer and dryer to fluff it up and get the dog hair off and it held up to washing very well. My only problem is I suck at weaving in ends when using cotton or acrylic yarns. Animal fibers I’m fine with because they felt a little and grab onto each other but cotton and acrylic ends never stay woven in for me. I’ve got them as under-control as I can but I wish I knew a better method…

I also finished two small projects that I stated while I was working on the blanket. The first was a simple hat for me that I made from yarn I dyed myself. I dyed the white Lopi Reynolds with Kool-Aid. I used Grape, Black Cherry, and Lemon Lime.


I knit the hat from the formula in the “How to knit a basic hat” video on the Knitpicks website. It’s a very basic roll-brimmed hat. I added the pom-pom because I think that hats tend to look sloppy at the top where the decreases make them bunch up and the pom-pom distracts from the bunching. I know pom-poms are a very contested fashion decision but I think they’re cute, especially when they’re a bit disheveled like this one…


The second little project I finished is also a hat but it was for my brother. He found a picture on the internet and asked me if I could duplicate it. Just for fun I searched ravlery and the pattern was there. My brother went with me to Michaels and he picked out the yarn he wanted. He picks some cheap Lion Brand Vanna’s Choice it’s not bad for acrylic yarn it’s pretty soft and easy to work with. Here’s the hat I made:


The top “hat” part is knit in stockinette and the beard and mustaches are knit in moss stitch. The hat and beard are knit as one piece and the mustaches are knit separately and attach to the beard with snaps. The patten is written so that the hat is a different color from “hair” but Adam decided that he wanted it to be all one color… I didn’t complain–fewer ends to weave it. It’s a very silly project but Adam really wanted it and I really don’t have anything better to do so…

I still have the same WIPs the pink shawl and the green socks but that didn’t stop me from casting on another. I like the socks alright but with all the time I’ve got on the couch I wanted something with a little more interest so I stated my first real lace project the Swallowtail Shawl. I love the pattern. It’s beautiful and it only takes one skein of lace yarn so I figured it was a good way to try out the new technique. I’m using some fabulous Malabrigo lace yarn it’s a deliciously soft merino. The color is wonderful gold/orange semi-solid. I’m only one repeat into the pattern but it’s already showing a lot of promise. I tryed taking a picture of it but from the couch I can’t get good light and they all either look really shiny where the flash reflected off the yarn or too dark. When I get a few more repeats done I’ll have my brother take it outside and get a few good pictures for me.