Speed Knitter

I love working with bulky yarn.  I think chunky things are so cozy and I think big fat stitches are adorable.  Plus there’s the added bonus that whatever your knitting feels like it knits up at warp speed.  Especially if you’ve been working with finer yarn for a long time.

I’ve been working a very complex sock for a long time and haven’t even turned the heel on the first sock yet.  *sigh*.  When Irina Heemann asked for testers for her Bulky Rhombus Shawl Shoulderette, I jumped at the opportunity.   I mean, a whole shawl in less than 200 yards of yarn?!  Perfect relief from sock-knitting hell.  In three short evenings I had produced this:

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Beautiful, no?  The pattern is basically just a chart, there’s not much written instruction at all.  That being said, I found the chart very easy to follow (all wrong side rows are purled straight across.)  We testers did find a few errors in the chart, but hopefully this means they’ve been cleared up for all future comers.

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The pattern, as written, doesn’t have the pointy edge around it.  That was my own addition.  I was worried that the edges would curl under, even after blocking, if I left them “raw” so I crocheted the peaked border on after I finished the knitting.  I used this Triangular Edging which worked like a charm.  I didn’t do any calculations before hand (dangerous!) I just started in one corner and it just happened to “fit” the shawl perfectly.

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I used some Knit Picks Swish Bulky left over from this monstrous blanket.  The colorway is called Hawk.  I think it’s the perfect neutral grey to go with my black winter jacket without clashing with any of my clothes.  I’ve said before how much I love this yarn, but I’ll reiterate again that it’s so plump and soft and smooshy and one-hundred-percent pleasant to work with.  It does pill a little, it’s merino, buy a sweater stone, get over it.  (Also, it’s superwash.  If you make a garment with it and you put it through the washer, it will come out huge.  Instead of freaking out, throw it in the dryer for 30 minutes.  It will pop back into shape just fine.  Have faith.  Throw it in the dryer!)

I love the magic of blocking.  Here it is just off the needles/hook:

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And here it is stretched out tight to block:

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It went from a bunchy ugly mess to the lovely flowy drapy shawlette you see modeled above.  Blocking = Magic.  Have you blocked anything lately?

New Pattern Live!

My second knitting pattern has been released on Ravelry this week.  The Golden Ratio Blanket is available through the ravelry pattern store for $3.50.

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This blanket is based on the mathematical golden ratio.  It comes in three sizes: Stroller (Crib, Throw) 29.6”x18.3” (48”x29.6”, 77.6”x48”). This blanket is made by starting with the smallest block and picking up stitches to add subsequent blocks. The blanket is finished with an applied I-cord edge.  The instructions also include directions for back-stitching or surface crocheting the golden ratio spiral onto the top of the blanket if you wish.

Using size 11(8.0mm) needles and bulky wool, this blanket actually knits up pretty quickly.  Great for the math-loving nerd in your life (or a treat for your math-loving-nerdy self.)

The two patterns that I’ve released can also be found on the “design” tab at the top of the posts.  You can purchase them by going to Ravelry and using their checkout system, or by clicking the “buy now” button on the design tab.

It’s done!

The blanket that I have been working on for Ryan since November is done!  Actually, it’s been done since March 24 (or so Ravelry tells me, don’t you love Ravelry for reminding you of such things?)  but I didn’t have the energy or time to blog about such a gigantic project immediately since I had an unexpected visit from my dad plus hours of research work dumped on me at the last minute.  Anyway, you don’t care about that.  You’re only here to see this:

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That blanket is 4 FEET x 6.3 FEET.  As you can see, it covers Ryan’s entire futon.  This monster is so big that I could barely back away from it far enough to get good pictures in Ryan’s smallish living room.

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(Look in the background of this picture and you can see Lucy the Triceratops who lives on Ryan’s bookshelf.)  The blanket is a knitted representation of the Golden Ratio, which supposedly produces the most visually pleasing rectangle.  The ratio itself appears in nature in lots of ways, tree rings, nautilus shells, even human brain waves.  The rectangle is made by organizing squares next to each other in a way that keeps the ratio 1:1.61803398… (That super ugly second number is phi, one of those irrational numbers the like pi or e that basically make the whole world work.)  Each square gets smaller and smaller.  Mathematically, this shrinking continues infinitely.  Since I haven’t yet figured out how to knit infinitely small, I had to fudge a bit at the center.

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The golden ratio also creates a spiral, which I had originally intended to crochet on the top of the blanket, but Ryan decided he thought the stark geometric look was more his style.  I used Swish Bulky yarn from Knit Picks (because I am no fool and knew that if this was ever going to get done I’d have to use bulky yarn.)  It’s 100% superwash merino wool and it’s heavenly soft and squooshy and wonderful to handle, especially in plump garter stitch.  The colors I used (from lightest to darkest) were: silver, hawk, stormy, coal.  I ended up needing about 2,475 yards of yarn.  That’s 1.4 MILES! It would take me like 13 minutes of running to get somewhere as far away as the length of the yarn in this blanket.

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That’s a picture of me sitting on the blanket for perspective, lest you think I found a really tiny futon to throw it over.  (Yes the blanket is wrong side up in this picture, Ryan had it like that when I came over.  Funny to a knitter it seems like a horrible offense to a giant piece of knitting to have it displayed wrong-side up, but Ryan honestly can’t tell the difference.  I guess this is a good quality for a blanket which really is better without a wrong side.  I’ll take it as a compliment to my finishing skills.)

I wrote up a pattern for this beast, and also for two smaller sizes: stroller and crib.  They are basically created by knitting fewer of the blocks.  My blanket has 7 blocks, crib has 6, and stroller 5.  I also included instructions for adding the spiral in case anyone wants the complete math-nerd effect.  Right now it’s being test-knit by some great Ravelers.  When they get their feedback to me I’ll publish it via Ravelry and let you all know it’s there.  You can also check out the Designs tab at the top.  Right now the only thing there is Spring Breeze, but I hope to get a few more there shortly.

What’s on the needles Wednesday

Possibly by participating in Kerry’s What’s on the Needles Wednesday I will be sufficiently kicked in the butt to finish something. Therefore, this Wednesday, the project on my needles is this:

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That is Ryan’s blanket. Right now it’s just over 4′ x 4′ but it needs 20″ more of black before it’s finished. I try to devote one hour to it a day, but some days I just can’t bring myself to garter for that long.

It’s based on the golden ratio rectangle. When it’s finished, it will have a big red spiral surfaced crocheted onto the top.

3.5 hour hat

Recently, Ryan misplaced his Cousteau hat that I made him last winter. He felt very bad and was very grumpy when he realized it had gone missing. I maintain that it is somewhere hiding in my tremendously messy apartment (no time for cleaning until after finals) but he’s convinced that it’s gone for good. Since we’ve been having sub-freezing temperatures on a regular basis here, I decided that until it turns up, he needed a replacement to keep his ears warm.

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This is Close Knit Waffle Hat by by Leah Bandstra. The pattern is free and can be found by following that link. The pattern calls for bulky yarn and size 10 needles so it knits up very quickly, 3.5 hours in one night for me (while carrying on conversation and watching TV.) The pattern has a short and long option, and I chose to make the long because I prefer hats that completely cover my ears (probably should have consulted Ryan’s preferences rather than my own, but he hasn’t said anything about it’s length and this way I can borrow it if need be…)

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The yarn is Knit Picks Swish Bulky in the color Hawk which was leftover from the blanket I’m making for Ryan. It is a 100% superwash wool. I love this yarn, it’s so soft and squooshy. It does have ugly matted joins maybe once a hank though… I wish they would just tie knots instead of trying to do felted joins on superwash yarn, but at least they can be easily cut out and there’s never more than one per hank.

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Ryan does wear this, but he did inform me that it’s “borderline girly.” I never would have thought that a gray beanie would seem particularly girly, but I’ve been told that the texture of the hat seems to make it less manly… I showed him a picture of a cabled hat and he told me that it was “girly” as well, so I think he’s adverse to pretty much all texture other than plain ribbing. If the Cousteau hat doesn’t turn up in the post finals cleaning I’ll cast on a new one (in gray again…) so that Ryan can have a hat he’s truly happy with rather than one that just meets the minimum requirements of being warm (and gray.)

Pushing boundaries

Generally, I would say that I’m not a superstitious person. I have, on occasion, been accused of treating the scientific method as a religion in itself. However, there is one superstition that I absolutely do believe in: the sweater curse. For those of you not familiar with the sweater curse, the basic premise is that if you knit a sweater for a man (or woman) you are not currently engaged/married to the relationship will end shortly thereafter. A couple of years ago, foolish young me knit a sweater, and a couple of months after it was finished, relationship over. I’m a believer.

So far, in my experience, it’s only sweaters that are cursed. I’ve had no problems with socks, mittens, hats, scarves… They don’t seem to have any relationship ending potential. So now I’m taking it to the next level.

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That is the beginning of a blanket for Ryan. If it looks like the Golden Ratio rectangle, that’s because it is. (Or at least it’s supposed to be… I did the math myself.) Ryan is a huge math nerd and requested this blanket. I’m hoping that means it’s safe to knit. Each new square is picked up from the squares before log-cabin style. I will surface crochet the spiral on at the end when I have finished.

The yarn is Swish Bulky from Knit Picks. It is 100% superwash wool. It was the only yarn line I could find with 4 shades of gray/black (Ryan’s favorite color for knits apparently… everything I have made him so far has been gray or black.) Since this is basically a 4’x6′ rectangle of garter stitch it is fantastically boring to knit, but I can work on it while I study/watch TV. Right now it’s just under a third done, we’ll see if I can finish before Christmas.

The estimation game

OK friends I have come up with a crazy game to play with myself to hopefully help me get some of those WIPs off the needs. Here is my plan: I am going to estimate how many days of knitting it will take to finish each of my WIPs. I will try to pick something that is a bit challenging but (hopefully) reasonable. For each WIP that I finish within the allotted amount of time I can spend $15 on yarn. That is a potential of $165 I would allow myself to splurge!

The rules:

1) I must knit some each day. If I don’t knit one day one of my projects will still have to take a strike.

2) Each day will be allocated to one project. If I knit on more than one project I will have to choose which one takes the day.

3) Any new cast-ons (with the one exception I will explain later) will not count. If I waste days playing with new projects I may have to give up getting some new yarn.

4) Finished means completely finished. As in off the needles, blocked, seamed, buttons applied, etc. Ready to be worn/used.

5) No money can be spent on yarn, needles, notions, ect. until this challenge is over, i.e. all the days have been used up.

My predictions:

1) First spinning attempt. I bought a drop spindle and some Targhee wool at sock summit last August and started spinning away. I actually got to the point where my spinning was pretty even but then I got distracted with school and didn’t pick it up for 11 months. Now I am at it again and am getting somewhat even results… For a first attempt I’m pretty happy. Anyway, about 1 oz. of the 3.8 oz braid was used in my thrummed mittens. The rest is on it’s way to becoming yarn. According to my Knit Picks yarn scale (so wonderful to have!) I have 0.78 oz left. I’m going to be a little generous with this one and give myself 5 days to finish since I’m so new to spinning. I think two days for spinning, two days for plying, and one day for washing, drying and skeining.

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2) Op Art. I have four stripes left on this blanket. That sounds pretty manageable, until I think about how each stripe contains both more rows that the stripe before and more stitches per row. I’m going to push myself and give myself 20 days here. right now it’s taking me about 35 minutes to do one row. I’m guessing I have 60 hours left on this puppy so I’m going to have to give it 3 hours each of it’s days. This is going to be my biggest challenge.

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3) Hope for Change socks. My oldest WIP to date. I love the way this pattern looks, it’s just not my favorite to knit. One sock is complete the other sock is about 2/3 up my instep (knit from toe up). I’m only giving myself 3 days to finish these babies. One day to get past the heel, two days for the leg and cuff.

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4) Mojo socks. These are so close to being done I can taste it. I have 45 rows left. These get one day.

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5) Yeah for Fall (Green Gable sweater). This went so quickly when I was working on it. I knit the whole body in about a week. I’m going to give it one more week. 3 days to finish the sleeves, 3 days to finish the yoke and hood, and 1 day for blocking.

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5) Birthday socks (Air Raid socks). The first sock is finished. The second sock has one repeat of 6 done on the leg (knit from the top down). The first sock went very fast. There is no real reason these have taken so long other than they are my “purse” project and I haven’t had to wait very often (knock on wood). I will give these 5 days.

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6) Selbu Mittens. One mitten is half done. These take complete attention because I have to follow the colorwork chart carefully. With school starting on the 30th complete attention is going to be hard to give. I’m going to be a bit lax with these and give them 14 days since full devotion will be hard to muster.

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7) Baby Surprise Jacket. This will go quickly once I turn my attention to it, I have just been focusing on other things recently. I am giving this 3 days.

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8) Victorian Scarf. Lace, like colorwork takes a lot of attention. Also, this project is pretty huge. I have 3 repeats of 42 done, plus the center panel, which is skinny but looooooong. I am going to give this project 18 days. That is 3 repeats a day for 14 days then 3 days for the center panel and 1 for blocking.

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9) Pomatomous Socks. These are fun to knit but all of the twisted stitches are slow going for me. I am 1/3 through the leg (knit top down) on the first sock. I’m going to say 10 days for these socks.

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10) Test Knit – Bashful. I can’t show you a picture of this one, but I’m test knitting a hat for Marly Bird aka Yarnthing on Ravelry. The hat is slouchy and DK weight but I can’t tell you anything about it until the pattern is released. So far all I have knit is the ribbing. I’m giving it 2 days since it’s a hat and hats are smallish quickish projects.

11) Test Knit – Whirligig bolero. This is a test knit for Stephanie Japel to help her up-size a pattern that was originally only in baby/toddler sizes. She is going to re-release it with bigger child and adult sizes. I’m testing one of the child sizes. It will either go to one of my cousins’ kids or to charity, but when the pattern is release I will have the adult sizes muahahaha. I haven’t actually gotten the pattern yet or my assigned size (supposed to come out today) but it has to be done within 3 weeks so I’m going to give myself 21 days.

That is 108 days to finish all my projects. That means on November 25 I will be done with this little adventure. That gives me one month to do any Christmas knitting I need… More than enough right…

WIPs march of shame (part four)

Since I showed you my two newest WIPs last post, it’s time to go back into the archives and show you another oldie. After this post, I will only have three more posts-o-shame to get you all caught up on the projects that have been languishing for more or less time in my knitting basket.

Here is my GreenGable Hoodie by Mari Muinonen from the Fall 2008 issue of VogueKnitting.

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I started knitting this in November and thought it would be a really quick knit since it’s made out of bulky-weight yarn. It does knit up very quickly… when I knit on it. The problem is, winter finals came around and I stopped working on it, and I didn’t exactly mark where I was in the instructions… I know it probably wouldn’t take me more than 10 minutes to sit down with the pattern and the instructions and work out where I’m at, but I don’t have too much enthusiasm for bulky-weight wool right now since it’s been over 90 degrees here all week and I have no air conditioning.

The yarn is Knit Picks Swish Bulky 100% Superwash Wool in the colorway Adobo. I put it in my Knit Picks wish list when it was being discontinued and was lucky enough to be given 13 skeins of it. So far I’ve used 4 so I’m thinking I’ll be able to get two sweaters. I’ll have to find a pattern that’s drastically different so people won’t realize that I have two sweaters of the exact same color… or maybe I can make up some chunky hats and mittens to donate to the homeless shelter here in Portland. That idea kinda makes my heart happy.

Sadly I haven’t made much progress toward finishing any WIP since I keep jumping from one to another working 10-20 rows on something before moving on to the next project. When you have 9 projects all growing an inch at a time it takes a while to show progress. This week I must knuckle-down and finish something.

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.