Imagine When… First FO of the Year

 

Technically, this is my first FO of the new year because I cast it off on January 1, 2015. Of course I started it on December 1, 2014 so a considerable amount of the knitting was done “last year.” Still, given the slowness with which projects generally come off my needles, one month is pretty darn good.

 

Imagine When

 

 

This was a extremely fun knit. It is 100% garter stitch with some yarnover rows. The shawl is knit side to side and shaped with short rows. This means that even though it’s “just” garter stitch there still enough going on to keep the knitting fun.

 

Imagine When

 

The pattern is Imagine When… by Joji Locatelli. I have a few of her patterns in my library, but this is the first one I’ve knit. It was clear and easy to follow. I really appreciate it when designers give stitch counts at the end of a section so you can check your work before moving on and Joji does.

 

Imagine When

 

The yarn I used is Knit Picks Stroll Kettle Dyed (sadly discontinued) in the colorway Eggplant.  The Knit Picks headquarters is only about a 45 minute drive away and a few years ago they had a sale where they sold a lot of sample yarn they had hanging around (much of which was already discontinued colorways or yarn lines.) They were selling the yarn BY THE POUND. I managed to get there early and got many full bags of yarn (usually 10 skeins) for pennies on the dollar. This was part of that haul.

 

Imagine When

 

The yarn requirements for the pattern are pretty spot on. I had to use part of a second skein to get through the last few rows. There’s not really an easy way to end early or resize this particular shawl, so definitely make sure you have at least the yardage called for before casting on.  Also, I always forget just how much garter stitch grows during blocking. This came off the needles looking pretty puny, but it grew to about twice the original size after a good soak and stretch.

 

This is the absolute last FO I have to show you. I had such a back log of un-blogged projects that I managed to get by for a really long time only posting nice shiny FOs. No longer. I’m really (really really) trying to eat away at some projects that have been lingering on the needles for years a while and so am hoping I can direct some focused attention that way before an uncontrollable bout of startitis hits.

Dustland for Christmas and 2014 Review

I really only knit one gift for Christmas 2014 and it wasn’t that involved at all. That’s really the case for most of my 2014 knitting. I only completed 13 projects for the year,  and 8 of those had been on the needs from 2013 or earlier. It was a slog of a year, but I managed to squeak this last project in just before the year end.

 

Dustland

 

 

 

I’d been wanting to make Stephen West’s Dustland since Book 2 originally came out. When thinking about what I could whip up for Bob for Christmas, this hat popped into my mind. Two days later, I had a hat.

 

I used Malabrigo Worsted in colorway Cypress. I made the large size, which, in hindsight is was probably overkill. It’s quite big. I used the full skein of yarn and actually ran out before the last 5 rows were finished. I had to use a little gray yarn to finish because I didn’t have any matching green. You can see the little gray patch in this photo.

 

Dustland

 

 

These a very well lit photos, but in most indoor light the hat looks almost black, so the gray is not really distinct most of the time. The changing textures make the knitting go by so fast since you don’t have time to get board with pattern before it changes to something else.

 

Dustland

 

 

And so ends 2014. I must admit, it was not the best year. Life challenges. Career challenges. Health challenges. Nothing devastating, just relentless. Setting goals and resolutions for 2015 feels like a surefire way to feeling disappointed in myself. Instead this year needs to be about focusing on the process. Anxiety has even been spilling over into my knitting when I think about all the yarn I have, all the patterns I want to make, and how slowly projects have been coming off the needles lately. I need to get back in touch with how much I love the process of knitting and love my yarn. Finishing is not my 2015 goal.

My Socks, they are crooked!

Did you have a yarn-y holiday? This year I got a lot of “home” oriented presents but not very much in the way of yarn. For Christmas I didn’t get anything yarn related at all. My birthday is tomorrow, but I celebrated with my family tonight. I got a new ball winder (mine was doing the click of death) and a few skeins off my Knit Picks wish list from my mom and dad, and a gift card to an LYS from my brother. Also, I may have treated myself to the ChiaoGoo full interchangeable needle set on Black Friday, so it’s been a good (or bad) winter for the stash indeed.

In addition to the yarn and notion goodness, I’ve been keeping my toes toasty this winter with a new pair of socks! I finally finished my Skew socks that I started back in September of 2012.

Skew

 

Originally, I started these because the LYS I was knitting at had a “sock hour” just before the general knit chat and if you came for sock hour you had a better seat for the rest of the night. I was working on the for about an hour a week at most.

Skew

Since I’ve been trying to knit down my over-abundant number of WIPs, I’ve been dedicating my train commute to my oldest projects and (shocker) spending an hour+ per day, five days a week, is really helping to knock things off the needles.

This pattern is knit on the bias, hence the “skew” that makes the socks look like they have diagonal stripes. The directions are nothing like traditional socks, but I just followed them blindly and everything worked out great. They are worked toe-up, but the heel is grafted, so if you absolutely hate to kitchner, this is not the pattern for you.

Skew

The yarn I used is Canon Hand Dyes Jane Self-Striping MCN (a mouthful, I know.) The colorway is called Loves Labor Lost. Colorways named after Shakespeare just make my literature-nerd heart sing. It’s 80% merino, 10% cashmere, and 10% nylon. Heavenly soft, I tell you. Heavenly.

Skew

I have basically been living in these for the whole month of December. From the extended wear there are a few things I can tell you. The yarn does pill, but not insanely. Most very soft fibers  are going to pill, so I’m not going to be upset about it, but now I know and so do you. I use a sweater stone to remove pills from all my knitting and it’s super fast and easy so pilling really doesn’t bother me unless it’s extreme. Another thing I can tell you after a month of near non-stop wear is that this yarn is nice and sturdy. There has been no signs of wearing or weak spots whatsoever. I’m hopeful they’ll have a good long life. Lastly, these have been washed quite a few times back to back and the colors do not bleed. I was worried with the black dye that it might bleed into the pink but there is almost no discoloration to the wash water at all. Maybe a tiny bit with the first was, but nothing since then. I need more of this yarn.

Skew

A note about the pattern. I knit it as written and I was on gauge. They fit me great, but I have a US 7 narrow foot. If you have a larger foot you may need to recalculate the width and length to get a good fit. Given the bias pattern that means more than just knitting a few extra rows. Overall, these were fun to make and the yarn has made them luxurious to wear, but I think I will go back to a traditional sock construction for my next pair.

FO: Color Craving shawl

 

 

As with most knitting things in 2013/2014 I got behind on my Color Craving by Stephen West. This was his Mystery KAL for 2013 and I cast on immediately when the first clue was released in September. Then it sat unworked for months and months.

 

One of the main reasons it sat was because my center “holes” got off alignment and I was lazy about doing the repair. I think it’s sort of understandable given what the repair took.

 

color craving

Of course I didn’t notice my error until I was about 15 rows beyond it. So my dilemma was rip back 15 rows (100s of stitches per row) or tear out just the point of the shawl and re-knit it. I eventually opted for the latter and “dropped” the stitches down to the misplaced yarn overs and then knit those stitches back up to the row I was on when I discovered the error.

color craving

 

Ta Da! This became my public transit project for a month or so and I managed to get it finished. Given the size, it may seem like a poor choice for train knitting, but it scrunches up pretty small while it’s on the needles and the rows are garter stitch so there’s nothing that needs too much attention.

color craving

A lot of people expressed disappointment at this pattern as the clues were released because it’s pretty unconventional, but I feel like if you sign up for a mystery knit a long, complaining that you don’t like the pattern is pretty silly. Especially when Stephen West is known for being more “off the wall” than many popular designers.

color craving

I used MadelineTosh Tosh Sock for my shawl. The lightest color is Antique Lace, which is a perfect neutral cream. The dark brown is Whiskey Barrel and it an extremely rich mix of browns, tans, and a tiny tiny hint of blue. The red is Byzantine, and like Whiskey Barrel its so much more than the dominant color when you look close it has flecks of maroon, pink, purple, it’s just so rich! I know I’ve said it a million times, but MadelineTosh is definitely my favorite dyer.

color craving

Even though the pattern is not a conventional shape, it can definitely be worn wrapped around my neck like a plain scarf so it fits really well into my not-super-flamboyant wardrobe.

color craving

As you may have noticed, things are still under construction around here. There are more changes yet to come, but the holidays have me a little scattered. Look for more improvements after the first of the year. Also, all my knitting currently is all gifts for people who know about both my Ravelry account and this blog, so I’m keeping quite about my current projects until after the holidays. I’ve still got a few other things to tell you about between now and then.

Welcome to my new home!

So, how do you like the new digs? Please forgive any mess as I’m absolutely not at all sure of what I’m doing. I was sitting at home thinking… I’ve never really loved the way my blogger blog looked or functioned, so I messaged my best friend who just happens to be a computer wizard (minus the pointy hat with stars on it, but plus html skills.) About 25 minutes and $15 later all that you see before you was mine. (Really just the domaine name, the building of the site took significantly longer.)

If you’re a feed reader type of blog reader (the only way to keep up with so many awesome knitting blogs) I’d love it if you’d update your reader with the new info here so you don’t miss any posts. (See how I pretend I have readers… fake it till you make it baby.)
Now that that is out of the way, I’ll talk about what you are here for: the knitting. To go with the launch of the new blog I have for you…. Some very easy leg warmers. I would have loved to have something super impressive, but not today.
Leg Warmers
These little babies were requested specifically by my 88 year old grandma. She’s 5’0″ which is why they look a little short on my legs. She wanted something to wear around the house because she is always cold. Here requirements were soft, thick, machine washable, and not “too fancy.”
I think I did a good job keeping the fancy to a minimum. The pattern is of my own devising, but its so terribly simple I can’t justify calling it a “pattern” and writing it up. Still want it? Ok. Get some chunky wool (180 yards or so) and a US 10 16″ circular needle. Cast on 48 sts. Join in the round. K2 P2 endlessly around until they are as tall as you want. Bind off.
The yarn is cheap Patons Shetland Chunky. It is 75% Acrylic and 25% wool making it fit the “machine washable” and “thick” criteria. The acrylic they use is higher quality than many and the yarn is spun more loosely than most pure acrylics are so it’s reasonably soft as well.  Also, it didn’t squeak on the needles which is good because I didn’t have to claw my eyes out working with it.
I’m almost entirely out of projects with good photos to show you… I know. Yes. I do call that a “good” photo. Baby steps. Bear with me as things (hopefully) improve even more around here.

Hibernate

A ver long time ago I bought enough Rowan Purelife British Sheep Breeds Chunky to make the Rosamund’s Cardigan from the Fall 2009 Interweave Knits. I couldn’t get gauge. Even though the pattern calls for chunky yarn, it’s knit at more of a aran gauge, and my fabric was practically bullet proof. So the yarn went back in the stash to wait.

I decided I really did want a sweater/jacket from this lovely rustic wool so I went to Ravelry to hunt up a pattern. I settled on Hibernate by Christina Harris. It’s certainly not the most popular pattern on Ravelry (there are only 4 projects) but it had exactly what I wanted. Oversized, styled more like a jacket than a sweater, and in the proper gauge.


At least I thought it was the proper gauge. I was a very irresponsible knitter and did not knit my swatch. The yarn relaxed quite a bit width wise, so my sweater that was supposed to have 4″ of positive ease ended up with 8″ which turned it from cutely “oversized” to “sack.” It’s being modeled by my mother in these pictures, and it lives with her now.
I cut it extremely close on yardage. I knew it would be close and figured I would do the sleeves last and make them 3/4 if I had to (how I thought I would live with a jacket with 3/4 sleeves I don’t know…) Luckily, I had just enough to make the sleeves full so crisis averted. This is how much yarn was left over.
The Rowan yarn is extremely “rustic” there is no way it could be warn next to the skin, which is why I think it’s great for this pattern. It has lots of little bits of vegetable matter that was spun into the yarn and, while I didn’t notice while I was knitting with it, the yarn is filthy. I washed it after I was done in my laundry machine (didn’t use the machine, just filled it up with water and let the sweater soak) and the water was GROSS after the 30 minute soak. See.
The pattern has a few small typos, but overall was very easy to follow and I would recommend it for anyone who already has a little sweater experience under their belt. It’s not quite as comprehensive as an absolute sweater beginner might need, but if you were adventurous and willing to look up a technique or two it’d be doable as a first sweater.
I love the pockets. This particular construction was extremely easy and it would be a fun way to work in a pop of color, because you could do the pocket lining in a fun contrast color. I chose to do mine in some similarly colored Cascade 220 because that was the best option I could find in my stash, but if you planned ahead you could have some fun with it.
I know I say this about every project lately, but despite what my Ravelry account will tell you, this was actually an extremely quick knit. The problem was I just kept getting distracted. I knit big chunks of this in single sessions, but put it on hold over and over. This easily could have been done in two weeks with focus. I’m just really short on focus lately.

A long time coming

I recently cast off a project that has been on the needles since June of 2010. I think anyone who has been knitting for a while (almost 10 years for me) has these linger projects. Ones that get picked up, a few rows added, then put back down over and over. Mine is Scarf with the No. 20 Edging from “The knitted Lace Pattern Book,” 1850 from the book Victorian Lace Today by Jane Sowerby. It’s a book with extremely beautiful lace based on traditional Victorian patterns.


I started this project right after I started working at Yarnia and made my first custom yarn blend.  I used one strand of silk, one strand of cashmere, and two strands of bamboo. Each strand was very fine, so the overall weight is probably a light fingering.
The construction of this stole is quite unusual. The first scalloped edge is knit from bottom up like a skinny scarf. Then, stitches are picked up along the long non-scalloped edge and the middle panel is knit at a 90 degree angle from the edge. Next, the second scalloped edge is knit down the length of the scarf like a kitted on border working it together with the live stitches from the center panel.
If you’ve ever used Yarnia yarn, you know it’s not actually plied, each of the strands sit next to each other on the cone and the knitting experiences is like holding several strands of yarn together. This makes the risk of splitting higher than usual and and in a lace project where you’re using larger-than-recommended needles it makes for slow going. I’m guessing that’s part of why this kept getting set down–it took a lot of focus, and I just don’t have as much time to dedicate to projects that need constant attention.
In the end, it turned out beautiful. My mom claimed it the last time she was up, and it’s a little fancy for my wardrobe so I didn’t object. Every project in this book is gorgeous, so I will probably cast on another soon… and hopefully get it finished with less delay.

Saroyan

I took a major hiatus from blogging for almost a year. While I’ve been at it (more or less) since January I’ve mainly been relying on my backlog of knits from 2013 to fuel the posts. However, I’ve hit the point where I only have 4 well photographed finished projects left to show you. (Keep your comments about whether some of the other projects I’ve shown you have been “well photographed” to yourself.)

Finished in July of this year is my Saroyan by Liz Abinante. I’ve also made Liz’s Traveling Woman shawl in 2009 and both patterns are great. I started it because I was going to be teaching a class on shawls knit side-to-side but it was a summer class and filling them is hit or miss. There weren’t enough takers, so we had to cancel. I got 3-4 repeats in to learn the pattern, but stalled to work on other projects once the class got canceled.


It languished for over a year until I finished the last commute project I was working on and went rummaging for something that would be commute appropriate. I found the old Saroyan and after a few weeks on the train I had a new scarf.
The fun thing about this pattern is that you get to choose the depth based on how many increase repeats you do. and because it’s knit side to side if you weight your yarn along the way, you can use up all your yarn. My version is 6 increase repeats deep, and 8 straight repeats in the center making 20 leaves total (counting the 6 decrease repeats on the other side.)
The yarn I used is Plymouth Yarn Suri Merino in the aptly named colorway 687. It’s a blend of 55% alpaca and 45% merino and it’s got lovely drape. My best guess is that it took just over 300 yards. I’ve already warn it a few times because fall is definitely in the air here. I’m one of those perpetually cold people, so a new wooly scarf is just exactly what I need.

February Baby

As I mentioned in my last post, there were a few new babies born to my coworkers this summer. In addition to the little Harvest I knit for Megan’s baby, I also knit a little sweater for Jason’s brand new baby girl. Baby girls are such a delight to knit for because all of adorable details you can choose from–lace patterns, pico edges, bows, there’s just so much. I decided on the classic Baby Sweater on Two Needles (February) by Elizabeth Zimmerman. The pattern is from The Knitters Almanac and is only about a paragraph long.

Zimmerman seems to be a lover-her or hate-her figure in the knitting world for her casual writing style and her “recipe” style instructions. Her patters do assume that you’re bringing a lot of knitting knowledge to the table and she doesn’t spare many words for the “how”–her patterns are all about the “what.”


Unfortunately, this was the only picture I remembered to snap just before I gave it to the dad-to-be. It’s on my messy desk under fluorescent lights. Lots of people were saying that using the recommended fingering weight yarn resulted in a newborn sized sweater. I wanted a 6mo size so I followed the same instructions but bumped up to a DK weight yarn. I used Socks That Rock Heavyweight. Color is unique. It was a mill end skein. The colors range from a medium gray to a magenta. I love the way it knit up. Girly without being overpoweringly pink.
I did not add any buttons. I think open cardis look adorable on babies over a onesie, no potential choking hazard if they fall off, and (lets be honest) I hate sewing them on in the first place.

Baby Harvest

This summer we had two babies due around the office. Luckily I have an hour long commute each way on the train, so I was able to whip up a little sweater for each of them. The first was for a baby boy due at the end of May. Can I just say, there are way fewer adorable knitting options for baby boys. You’re basically stuck with either super plain, or heavily cabled. I decided to go the plain route and chose Harvest by tincanknits. I chose the 6-12 month size hoping it would be big enough to fit when winter rolled around.


I used some old Knit Picks Swish left over from a different sweater project. Obviously machine washable is a must for baby things. The colorway is called Jade. It only took 2.5 skeins to nock this little guy out. A very fast and gratifying knit. The pattern is extremely well written for a free pattern. I would absolutely recommend it. It would also be a great first sweater pattern for someone hesitant to jump into the garment world. It’s top down knit in the round so you can try it on as you go. Shaping is minimal and you end up with a classic goes-with-everything cardigan.