Hand knit socks are one of the little luxuries that non-knitters don’t get to experience (unless they have a knitter who loves them very much.) They are so comfy and warm and can be customized to fit perfectly. Then there’s the endless variety of amazing sock yarns–pretty much any fiber blend and color you can hope for. Here is my latest pair (and by latest, I mean they were finished in October.)
Sometimes, you just want to feel like you’ve accomplished something and finishing a knitting project can be just the thing. At times like that, it’s nice to whip up a quick little project that you can take from start to finish in just a few hours. Marian is just the ticket.
Knit with super bulky yarn and size 19 needles this seed stitch cowl only takes about three hours. I love that it hangs a bit lower for a single-loop cowl. I don’t like having things right up against my neck.
I’ve mentioned in my last few posts (spread over 6 or so months… I know… I know…) that from about May of last year until two-ish months ago I really lost my knitting mojo. Lots of changes in my life certainly contributed–end of a big relationship, a move across town, old job that I hated to wake up to, new job that I do not hate but that is super challenging in other ways, another bar exam… by the time I got any alone time I would end up just holding my knitting but not actually creating any stitches.
I did not like that knitting had taken a major back seat in my life so I decided to try and change that. I decided that what I needed was something simple. Something so simple that I would normally never consider it. So simple that I could do it blindfolded, in the dark, with one needle tied behind my back. In short, I needed lots and lots of garter stitch with no shaping. Hello Garter Squish by Stephen West.
It’s a blanket made with two strands of yarn held together, done on size 15 needles, entirely in garter stitch. Not to toot my own horn, but I could knit this dead. Which was exactly what I needed since that is exactly how I felt at the end of the day some times. I couldn’t handle decreases. I couldn’t handle increases. Or short rows. Or charts. But I could do the knit stitch, over and over, endlessly.
I found some yarn in a suitable guy color (Madelinetosh Tosh DK in Graphite) and cast on for Jared Flood’s Turn a Square. Except I sort of made my own version of the pattern. I did not do the tubular cast on, because that’s a lot of work for what I feel like is a very minimal effect. Also, I didn’t do the stripes, because Bob wanted solid. Finally, I made the ribbing longer (4 inches) so that the brim could be flipped up.I don’t have any good pictures of this hat, but I have some bad ones. Here is a picture that does not show either the hat or the color to its best advantage.
Here is another bad picture where you can barely see the hat. It does prove that the hat has been worn out in the wild.
Overall, there wasn’t a lot that went into this hat in terms of skill or complexity, but Bob seems to like it, so we’ll call it a win. Sorry for the crummy pictures.
I really love mystery knit-a-longs. For the uninitiated, a mystery knit-a-long is when a designer releases a pattern is stages (called “clues”) and you don’t get any pictures of the pattern in advance so you don’t know what it looks like until you finish knitting all the clues. Usually you know the general type of item you are making–socks, shawl, hat, etc.–but nothing more.
I totally understand how many people HATE mystery patterns. Knitting takes time. Lots and lots (and lots) of time. Why would you devote a large portion of your free crafty time making something that might be completely not to your liking. I get that. I have nothing against people who refuse to participate in mystery patterns. I love them. I think it’s because I am not necessarily after a finished item. I like to knit for the process of knitting. Getting a finished project at the end is almost like a bonus–I get the magic of knitting and happen to also end up with a hat. I don’t have a strong emotional attachment to the object when I’m done with the knitting. I’ve given lots of things away that I wanted to knit, but knew I’d never wear. When I can’t find a good home for something that I know I’m not going to wear, it goes to the Good Will. All of this is really just to say that I love mystery knits and don’t mind if when I’m done it’s not something I love.
Of course, if I do end up with something I love, all the better. The 2012 mystery hat pattern by Wolly Wormhead was amazingly fun to knit and also turned out to be a hat I love to wear.
Usually mystery patterns don’t have a name until after the full pattern is released. This pattern got the name Encircle after they mystery ended. Sadly, I didn’t knit this as a mystery. I bought the pattern, but I had just gotten my law license and was frantic with job searching, working as a contract drafter of legal documents, and had a full teaching schedule at the yarn shop I was working at. I watched the clues come and go without casting on. It was fun to watch the ladies in my knitting group progress through the mystery. I wish I had gotten the fun of wondering “what next.” So it goes.
I know that when I focus I can knit up a sweater in 3 to 4 weeks depending on how complicated it is. I don’t know why then I always end up spending at least 6 months to make one. I’m just not good with project monogamy. I know I would have more things to wear if I could focus on one project at a time, but I am fickle. (So maybe I do know why it takes me so long to finish things…) Here is my latests 6-month sweater.
That is Shapely Boyfriend by Stefanie Japel from the 2011 Deep Fall issue of knitty. I taught a seamless sweater class on it at For Yarns Sake last spring and worked through it in advance of the class. The class focused on the shaping of the body, so I didn’t bother to finish the sleeves before the class. Once the class was over it went into hibernation–hence the 6 months to finish.
This knitting year doesn’t seen to be off to any better of a start than last year. It’s already May and I’ve completed 2 projects so far this year. Granted, one was a blanket, but that is still a woefully small number of projects for me. Sometimes I’m able to knit on the trail while I commute, but often in the morning I’m too exhausted and at the end of the day the train is packed and I have to stand… lame-o!
They are Dashing by Cheryl Niamath from the Spring 2007 Knitty. I’ve intended to make them since the pattern was published but I never really had a push to cast it on. Until 6 years later when Bob said something like “I think those gloves that let you still use your fingers are cool” and WHAMO time for some knitting.
The last of the projects that I finished early last year, before I even moved, was Urchin by Ysolda Teague. This is one of Ysolda’s very early patterns from the 2007 Fall Knitty. The reason I chose to make it is the unique construction. It’s knit vertically around your head and joined when you have the needed circumferences, rather than starting circularly and knitting from the brim to the top.
I HATE that the brim is folded under in all my pictures. I think it looks crazy. One of the problems with getting a non-knitter without much enthusiasm for hand-mades to take your photos… They’re more concerned with snapping the shots and getting out of the cold than with making sure you have awesome photos for Ravelry. Some people’s priorities are so out of whack.
Every knitter had those meh projects. Projects you work and work on, and when you finish you look down and just think… eh… not for me. Persephone was that way for me. I taught a class last March about cables and this was the featured project. The original is a scarf, but I got so tired of the cables after about two feet that I turned mine into a a cowl with buttons.
I should have known I was never going to be able to finish a whole scarf in this pattern. 1) I dislike knitting scarves in general because they feel like never-ending swatches. 2) I dislike scarf patters that are not reversible because I am anal and the fact that the “wrong” side shows drives me bonkers. 3) I dislike heavily cabled projects because they make my hands crampy when I knit them. 4) This pattern is not charted, it is only written, and I strongly prefer to All of these things and problems related to my personal knitting preferences, not problems with the pattern.
Ah hem hem… So hey… How’s it going? Been a while… Almost a year you say? My how time flies. I feel like I should say I’m sorry, but really I’m not. The last year has brought a lot of changes to my life. I don’t even think I mentioned it in my last post, but when I wrote it (February of 2013, I know…) I had just gotten my first job as an attorney 5 days before the post. I was commuting a long way to work every day and felt just exhausted by the end of the day. It’s hard to even imagine, but really I stopped knitting from pretty much February through July. Dark days.
Ryan and I stopped being a couple in May, and that was sad. In July I moved closer to work. Sadly, closer to work meant further from a lot of other things, including my knitting group. While I had my suspicions early on, by July I was feeling like my job was not a great fit for me (that’s the extremely reserved, internet appropriate, way to describe how I was feeling anyway…) By late October I decided a new job needed to be at the top of my priority list and by the end of November I had an offer on the table. Mid-December I started my new job (still attorney work, just a much different office atmosphere) and it’s been fabulous so far.
The new job came with the caveat that I would have to take the Washington state Bar exam. Portland being so close to Washington, my new office does a lot of work in both states so I need to be dual licensed. If you’re thinking now that my miraculous return to blogging may have something to do with procrastinating studying for a test that is one month away… Shut up.
That is the extremely popular Selbu Modern hat by Kate Gagnon Osborne. It is available for free on Ravelry. I had wanted to make it for a very long time. When I started teaching a series of hat classes at my LYS focusing on different techniques, I chose this hat as the colorwork-focused class project.