Backpack project

I like to keep a very simple project in my backpack all the time.  That way if I have a weird half hour block of time that’s not really good for working, I can pull it out and get some knitting done.  (Or if I’m really stressed, I can blow off steam knitting in lieu of studying, which strangely enough does reduce the stress.)  These backpack projects take a long time to complete because they only get a little work done on them at a time, they usually only get worked on on school days, and I don’t have spare time every school day.  My last backpack project was Ryan’s blue beanie and it took about a month and a half to finish.  Here is my new backpack project:


Please ignore the chipped toenail polish, it has not been sandal weather and so I have not been vigilant.  It’s a plain sock in a Yarnia house blend called Boylston.  This is an extremely popular house blend.  It’s one strand of navy bamboo (50%), one strand of navy merino and one strand of bright blue merino (27%), and one strand of gray alpaca (23%).  As you can see it makes a great dark heathered blue and is a color that could totally be used to make man things.  (I usually tag plain socks with the Yarn Harlot’s Sock Recipe pattern, even though I don’t really “follow” it, I just make a sock.  Cast on a number of stitches that seems reasonable, knit some ribbing, knit until I think the leg is long enough, flap heel, gusset, knit until 2″ before toes, shape toes.  Since this is basically what the Yarn Harlot pattern is, I tag it for convenience.)

I have several requirements for backpack projects.
1) It must be small enough to fit in the front pouch of my backpack.
2) It must not require me to look at a pattern, read a chart, or count rows/stitches.
3) It must be a pattern I can knit without looking; this includes garter stitch, stockinette stitch, ribbing,   and things like seed/moss stitch which are basically just ribbing so long as you know where to start.
4) There can’t be any shaping, and I should not have to pay attention to what row I’m on.

Given these criteria some projects can go from being backpack projects to not at various stages.  A project may start out small enough to be a backpack project then grow too big.  Ryan’s blanket was once a backpack project, now it takes up my whole living room floor.  A project may have a pattern or shaping only a certain times.  This project was in my backpack for the whole leg, but had to come out until the heel and gusset were finished because that involved counting rows and paying attention to decrease placement.  Now they’ll stay in the backpack until it’s time to shape the toe.  Do you have a take-everywhere project?

Quickie (HA!) scarf

This scarf is supposed to be really quick to crochet.  I think for a normal crocheter it would be pretty quick… I’m on the slow side.  I also think that for a slowish crocheter who practices some degree of project monogamy it would be quick.  Monogamy (toward fiber projects) is impossible not my strong suit.  So here is my quickie scarf, completed in just under three months.


The patter, which is super easy, is here on the Yarnia blog.  I used on cone of a Yarnia house blend called Union.  It is comprised of one strand of honey brown plushy rayon chenille, one strand of shimmery gold rayon, and two strands of honey brown wool.  I just worked until I didn’t have enough yarn to do another full repeat.  (I know it’s the kind of pattern that you can stop in the middle of a repeat, but that just feels weird.)


This give a pretty accurate picture of the depth of color the three different materials/colorways give the finished project.  This scarf is super plushy due to the combination of the chenille and the natural plumpness of crochet.  Sadly, while just a few weeks ago we had freezing temps, the weather has warmed here (of course it got warm, I just finished a scarf) and I don’t know if I will get to wear this before next winter…  I’m always finishing projects such that I get to wear them the season after I finish them, never right away.  Sigh.

Interesting Construction

I love projects that have interesting construction. Things knit on the bias like the Delancey Cardigan; things folded origami-style to get the finished object like the Baby Surprise Jacket; Things knit sideways like the spread spectrum socks… Coming up with a cool new colorwork or cable pattern is awesome, but coming up with a whole new way to make something is particularly amazing to me. That’s why I loved knitting up the Kinetic Cowl over the past week.

Photo on 2010-12-14 at 22.30

The pattern is by Amy Polcyn and it’s in the Winter 2010 Interweave Knits.This has a very fun construction. It’s knit in one 116 inch strip and then the strip is seamed together in a big coil to make the cowl. The strip is only 8 stitches wide (and knit on the bias!), so I found that I could knit about a foot while watching a 1-hour TV show. Knitting this was great for working on at Yarnia because it was easy to pick up and put down as customers needed help.

Photo on 2010-12-14 at 22.31

The yarn is Coos Bay from Yarnia 72% Bamboo/Nylon 28% Wool. The bamboo/nylon has really long color repeats, making it a great choice for this project. My cowl ended up a lot drapier than one pictured because of the bamboo. It makes a nice fall/spring cowl, but it wouldn’t be good for the really cold temps. Also, if you make this pattern, be sure to crochet very very loosely when you do the seams, otherwise you’ll never get it over your head. I thought I was being very loose, but it was still a tight squeeze until I steamed it.

Happy Holidays!

One Christmas gift down

Last year I didn’t do any Christmas anything until about December 20th because I was so busy with school. This year, finals go all the way until December 23rd (yeah! I know!) so I’ll have to cram in cleaning, celebrating, and gift making/buying alongside my finals preparation. While working at Yarnia, I managed to whip up my dad’s Christmas present in about 4 days.


This is the Windschief hat by Stephen West. This is my third Stephen West knit, and like the other two, the instructions were well written and the finished product looks great.

I used a pre-made Yarnia yarn called Santos which is which is mostly rayon and acrylic with a tiny bit of cotton. I wanted to go for machine washability since my dad is a runner and will like get this all sweaty and gross on a regular basis.


I love the color of this yarn. “Oatmeal” would be a good word to describe it, with just a hint of sheen from the rayon. I asked Ryan and he assured me that it counts as a “manly” color, so dad should like it.

I only used about 25% of the cone on the hat, so I’m thinking about whipping up some convertible mittens to go with it. One of the benefits of buying yarn by the half-pound cone.


Recently, I cast off another store sample for Yarnia. I made Akimbo since we carry most of Stephen West’s patterns in our shop. All of his patterns are fabulous. This is the second one I’ve made (the first was Botanic) and it is well written and well charted.


The pattern calls for a fingering weight yarn, but I made mine in a DK to give it some more weight/size. I created the yarn at Yarnia. The main color is one strand of spice colored silk, two strands of pumpkin colored wool, and one strand of variegated cotton that changes from Dijon yellow to spice to rust to brown. The contrasting color is one strand warm brown alpaca, one strand reddish brown wool, one strand cold brown rayon, one strand warm brown rayon, and one strand cold brown silk.


I used size 6 needles instead of size 4 because of the heavier yarn I chose. The shawl grew about 20% after blocking which was surprising, I didn’t expect plain garter stitch to grow so much.


This was a really fast knit, it only took me so long because I was mostly working on it in Yarnia when things were slow. Right now it’s on display there to help give people some fall/winter knitting inspiration. It will come back to live with me in the Spring.


I would definitely recommend this pattern to anyone who wants to try a basic triangular shawl without also having to keep track of a lace pattern, or someone who likes to be warm, but doesn’t like the look of lace at all. I am anticipating knitting many more of Stephen West’s great patterns.

The secret project

Hi all, just wanted to pop in and reveal a project that I finished quite a while ago, but didn’t show you since it was meant to go on display at Yarnia. It was a quick fun project and now that it’s been revealed at Yarnia, I’ll show you all here.


This is my take on Nell by Berroco Design Team. Clearly I took some liberties with the fabric part of the design, but the bodice is crocheted just as the pattern is written.

I am used this Yarnia-blended yarn (sorry I’m not the best photographer of yarn… it always comes out with a glare…) It is two strands of red silk/poly, two strands of red linen, and one strand of a taupe/natural linen. I think the one contrasting strand gives the fabric a lot of interest and a more “rustic” feel.


After I finished crocheting the front and then took the piece to Jo-Ann Fabrics to find fabric for the bottom. I found the absolute perfect fabric to create the look I wanted–something that could be worn in the summer and also work to transition in to fall if worn over long sleeves and leggings.


The pattern is really clearly written and I was able to follow all the stitches without any trouble, even as a very novice crocheter, but I think the gauge instructions are off. I followed the 40″ chest directions and even though my single crochet gauge was tighter than recommended my pieces still came out at 22″. If you are going to make this pattern I would be sure to do some math with the gauge you’re getting and the total number of stitches to make sure you’ll get something that fits.


As the project calls for sewing on a sewing machine anyway, I decided rather than rip all the way back to the beginning and start over, I would serge the seams smaller. For those of you not familiar with sergers, they cut fabric and sew a thread binding around the cut edge as they go. That’s right, I cut my crochet. But look how much better the top fit afterward.


Then came time to piece the fabric bottom together. The pattern instructions say to take two large piece of fabric, sew them together into a tube, gather up the top of the tube, and sew that to the bodice.

This creates the babydoll look that you can see in the pattern pictures and in many people’s projects on Ravelry. I think I mentioned before that, while this is a great look for some women, it is not the most flattering look on me. What I may not have mentioned is that I LOVE sundresses. They are probably my single favorite piece of clothing and one of the saddest things about living in the Pacific Northwest is that the weather often precludes wearing them until well into June. I decided to add to my sundress collection.


I’m sorry I didn’t stop to take lots of pictures during the construction of the dress. It was one of those situations where I just started working and didn’t look up until I had a dress. Here is what I did:

Since the bodice fits around the widest part of the chest (which on me is the widest part until my hips) I measured the circumference of the bodice and cut two strips of fabric half that circumference plus 1 inch (the half inch is for the seam allowance) and as long as the dress I wanted (for me this was knee-length).

Next. I tried on the bodice and measured how far from where the bodice ended to where my hips are. This is because I needed to add extra fabric at the hip, both because my hips are my biggest part and because I wanted the skirt of my dress to flair.

After a rough measurement to my hips I seamed the two strips of fabric to that measured length. This means that the dress is just a straight tube from where it attaches to the body down to roughly my hips.

To add fabric to the hip of the dress and make it flair I inserted two wedge shaped pieces of fabric into either side of the tube. To do this I measured the length of the unseamed bottom part of my tube – for my dress this was roughly the distance from my hips to my knees. This became the side length of my triangle inserts. The bottom of the triangle was the total extra width I wanted the bottom of the skirt to have divided by 2 (because there is one insert on each side).

Once my two triangles were cut out, I sewed each long side of the triangle into the opening left on the sides of my tube. (if you have ever had occasion to turn a pair of jeans into bellbottoms this process is exactly the same.)


I hemmed the whole thing around the bottom and I was finished… I thought. Then my boyfriend came over and I proudly showed him my finished dress. He praised my craftyness and took pictures for me, but he said he felt like the dress was “missing something.”

When I asked him what it could possibly be missing he said, “I don’t know, maybe some white lace around the bottom?” This was an exceptionally strange suggestion coming from a man who usually appreciates my craftiness from a safe distance refusing to participate in “which color/texture/hemline/sleeve-length/etc. looks better” conversations.

I was skeptical at first… white lace on a dress with such deep colors… I was unsure. But, figuring I had nothing to lose and I could always take it off again, I went back to the fabric store for some lace trim.

After sewing the lace to the dress I instantly was amazed at the result. It looked like it was meant to be there. It completely pulled the dress together and made it look “finished.” I am so glad I decided to try the unusual suggestion.

Lastly, because I wanted to accentuate my waist without having to go through the bother of adding waist shaping to the dress, I made a quick tie to cinch in the waist of the dress. I crocheted 3 really long chains—long enough to wrap loosely around my waist twice—then braided the chains together. It is just the right length to tie into a bow at my waist bringing the dress in and also carrying the crochet into the body of the garment.


All in all I would say that this pattern has major issues in the gauge department (you do the math, this time it really wasn’t me!), and I would have preferred not to have serged seams running through my crochet, but I love the end result and I love that this pattern inspired me to mix my two favorite hobbies — yarnplay and sewing.

This is currently hanging up in Yarnia on display to give browsers pattern ideas. I’ll get it back in the middle of winter (when no one is thinking about knitting or wearing summer clothes…) which means that I’ll probably be wearing it all the time next summer.

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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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…


Alright, so remember that whole “finish-two-projects-before-you-cast-a-new-one-on” thing I had going… well I might have fallen a bit off the wagon… It’s not my fault! I work in a yarn shop! Who has that kind of will power?!

Remember I told you that in the shop I work in you “make” your own yarn? Here is the what the result can look like.


I know it’s blurry, but I think you can get the idea. That yarn is actually 5 different strands of blue and green wool that have been coned together to make one fingering-weight yarn. This is one of our pre-made cones, meaning someone at the shop picked out the colors and we blended them together and are selling the finished cone. Here is a close-up of the different “ingredient” strands (again, sorry about the blur.)


I have been keeping the cone in my purse, taking it to work every day, in case the shop is very slow and I have some time to knit… It hasn’t been slow yet.

Here is a cone I “made” myself, as in I picked out the “ingredients.”


This cone has two strands of a pearl-colored rayon, one strand of creamy-white cashmere, and one strand of sage-green silk. It is just slightly heavier than a traditional lace-weight yarn but still far from fingering. I love how luxurious this yarn is. We sell our blends by the pound which is a pretty unique way to price yarn. This blend ends up coming to $72 per pound, but a pound of this fine yarn is about 2400 yards. I only needed 5oz to get the 750 yards I needed for my lacy scarf, which ended up being about $23.

I can’t possibly be blamed for casting on with both of these beautiful yarns right away can I? I thought not.

The sock yarn is becoming… yes, socks. I worked the whole cuff of the first one last night.


It’s impossible to tell since all I have is the twisted ribbing so far, but these will become Pomatomus by Cookie A. from the Winter 2005 Knitty. It is completely immaterial that I have three other pairs of unfinished socks already on the needles… Hush up! As you can see by the picture I’m knitting these on one small circular needle, which may now be my favorite method for sock knitting, no joins to worry about so no ladders ever.

The lace yarn is becoming… yes, lace. I have been in love with this yarn and this pattern since Sunday.


This pattern has a long-ass name, it is Scarf with the No. 20 Edging from “The Knitted Lace Pattern Book,” 1850 by Jane Sowerby. That whole thing is the name of the pattern, the pattern is actually in the book Victorian Lace Today. This is so soft and sheen-y and wonderful I spend equal amounts of time petting it as knitting on it. I love that even though three of the four strands are cream, the one strand of sage green tints the whole project.

This frenzy of casting on means that I have to finish 4 projects before anything new can be cast on… Wish me luck!