Category Archives: knitting confessions

Yes, I am still knitting.

The world doesn’t suffer from a lack of knitblogs, but I was suddenly overcome with a powerful urge to update, so here are a few things I’ve done since we last saw each other:

1. Packed up my family and moved to take a new job in January. Pros: a kickass LYS 5 minutes from work. Cons: packing and moving all your stuff is the pits.

2. We actually moved twice because we bought a house much sooner than planned (where I have strategically stashed yarn on every floor). All I have to say about moving twice is that if you don’t love something, get rid of it – you will hate having to repack it.

3. There were great losses, of knitting friends, and dogs I loved. You guys, the summer of 2011 was so terrible I kind of stopped talking about what was happening because it sounded unbelievable, like a bad country song. Sometimes it has to be enough to carry some of the things you love most in your heart.

4. I love my job. Pro: Isn’t that great? Con: it cuts into my knitting time, so production has dropped significantly. I knit 1500 yards in 2012, more or less. Let that sink in for a minute, and you realize that even my small stash gives me enough yarn to knit for 15 years at that rate. Yipes.

This hat is a big fat stashbuster. 5. On the bright side, all this hullabaloo makes it easy to go more than a year without buying yarn. I last bought yarn on November 30, 2011. Because I have a rule about knitting posts with no pictures of knitting, this hat was probably my favorite thing I made in 2012. I’ve had the remnants of this yarn since 2003, when I made this hat (still in use, by the way).

 

6. I have a plan: knit simpler things that are just as beautiful, use less sock-weight yarn, and continue to bust that stash.  I’m spectating at the Deep Stash KAL in the Doubleknit group on Ravelry, as well as the Use it or Lose it KAL in the Stash and Burn group. Usually, committing to do a knitting thing is the kiss of death for me, so by not publicly committing…I’m using reverse psychology on myself. Not bad, huh?

You would be wrong.

Punctuated Ribs Sock Top You might think, after working a month and a half on preparing a sock knitting presentation for my spinning guild, I’d be sick of sock knitting – almost, but you would be wrong. I promised mom a pair of birthday socks, and before I headed off into the wild blue knitting yonder to cast on hats and sweater and non-socks, I needed to finish a labor of love. These are the Punctuated Rib Socks from Knitting Socks with Handpainted Yarn, a book I’ve now knit two patterns from (a record!). The yarn is Aslan Trends Santa Fe, a soft, economical sock yarn that I would call the “poor man’s Koigu” if I were feeling snarky, but I’m not. Nice to knit with, my only complaint is that I needed to swipe my one and only Addi size 1 out of the Fionn sweater I’m working on. Added incentive to finish the socks, since I found out after just a few rows of the sweater on straights that I am no longer a lover of straight needles unless they are DPNs. See the pair here. I feel like I’m definitely going through a dark yarn phase, which is inconvenient when your knit night is in a bar.

For the opposite of dark yarn, I present these Maine Morning Mitts Maine Morning Mitts, knit out of long-stashed Kureyon intended for a Lizard Ridge afghan. I think I held off making these because I was concerned I couldn’t get two mitts out of one skein – I am here to tell the Internet you can make two Maine Morning Mitts with just 100 yards of worsted weight yarn (I did shorten the cuffs a bit, but I’m confident even the originals are one-skeiners). These were quick and fun and they knit up in a week, satisfying my raging case of startitis. They also served as a convenient distraction from the hooligans who shot my new car with a BB gun while the Knit One Purl Too crew was out to dinner in a perfectly nice Cleveland suburb. At least the insurance adjuster thought the mitts were nice, and everything’s back to normal now. Frankly I cannot believe that I drove my new car to Chicago and all over the Windy City without a scratch (the Dan Ryan! the Ike!), then I come home and some loser tries to make my Honda Fit into a hoopty.

Quincy Quade Quentin In my righteous indignation over HooptyGate I have not one, not two, but three finished objects for you – this weekend, I stuffed and sewed a Quincy Quade Quentin monster, and I have to say that while it was a lot of work because I am not a sewer, I am charmed. I’m also pretty proud that he looks suitably monster-y (with the help of Knit One Purl Too’s monster engineering staff, aka my husband, who suggested teasing the stuffing to make it less lumpy, installed the safety eyes and cut the teeth for me). I loved making him, and even though the finishing was more involved than I expected, it reinforced my love of getting details right on knitted objects. Finishing work is actually fun for me.

But if I love finishing, why do I have so many things started? I have 9 things on the needles right now, which seems ridiculous. I’ve started things I haven’t even logged as projects on Ravelry, like a Cassidy cardigan (I met Bonne Marie Burns in Chicago last month at YarnCon and yes, I was a total fangirl: “I love your patterns!”) and the Desdemona shawl in Lorna’s Laces Helen’s Lace (I may have gushed a little at the Lorna’s studio sale: “I love your yarn!” – that’s what happens when you buy yarn once a year; you get excited), and a pair of Roger socks for a dear friend. You would think all of these works in progress would have me a little overwhelmed and maybe a little guilty – but so far it just feels like really good knitting. In other words, you would be wrong.

Not for lack of trying.

Yes, there has been Olympic knitting chez knitonepurltoo, but my Olympic sweater was completed in the wee hours of March 1, long after the closing ceremonies were over. I am not as broken up about this as I thought I might be; I made a valiant effort, I tried some new things (first yoked sweater!), but I ended up with a garment that didn’t work out (which made staying up until 1:30 a.m. a bitter pill to swallow, let me tell you).

Modern Olympic Garden I knitted the Modern Garden Cardigan in DROPS Eskimo, colorway 29 (a spring green, which longtime readers could use to safely win bets on “What is Donna’s favorite color?“). That cardigan is super-cute and very knitworthy, but it ended up being a high-stakes project for a few reasons, chief among them the fact that I did not get row gauge, and even though I was just one row off, I ended up with a cardigan 3″ longer than I expected as a result.

I didn’t have a lot of maneuvering room in terms of needle size; the pattern calls for size 15 needles to give you a stitch gauge of 2 stitches to the inch, and I needed to go to size 17 needles to get that. I tried the knitter’s math trick of using the numbers from a different size to get the fit I wanted, but the Modern Garden sizing is fairly spread out because there are only so many number combinations that will allow for those beautiful, large leaf motifs. So the knitonepurltoo support crew (aka my husband) made a trip to Joann’s with me to get a big pink set of Susan Bates circulars, size 17.

And I knit the thing. Like any knitting story, there were setbacks (the large was too large, so I reknit in medium), and triumphs (the leaf motifs were easy to work and very pretty). But the spider sense that was tingling pre-Olympics, leading me to question my project choice and even write to Nordic Mart and ask if I could return the yarn, was accurate. Other knitters had gauge issues and several found the sleeve sizing small – me too. But I enjoyed knitting it, and was glad that I followed through to the end, even if I did feel like the guy who crosses the finish line last. My one regret? I turned off the Olympics after the (awesome) hockey game because I didn’t want to see the torch go out without having finished, and I missed William Shatner and the dancing maple leaves.

I also have no idea what to make with the yarn, once I’ve ripped it back – a baby sweater? A felted bag? Something crocheted? I’m mulling my options, because not being able to get the DROPS Eskimo out of my stash seemed roundly unfair after so much hard work.

Corwyn's Sock My Modern Garden mishap taught me nothing about knitting to a deadline, though – I picked my needles right back up and polished off a pair of birthday socks for my husband’s godson, finished the day of the birthday party during a spinning workshop offered by my local guild. These are the Yarrow Ribbed socks from Knitting Vintage Socks by Nancy Bush; I subbed in a garter stitch short-row heel for the flap and gusset style. He tried on my mom’s cashmere socks when they were close to the finish line, and asked for a pair with stripes – who am I to say no to that? So I didn’t medal in the Knitting Olympics, but to one seven-year old who may still be wearing his socks, I’m pretty cool. I can live with that.

Next up: I get serious about spinning, and progress is made on Fionn.

The most wonderful time of the year.

I can say this to you because we’re friends: I love Thanksgiving with the fire of a thousand suns, and Christmas floats my boat, because who doesn’t love a thoughtful gift? But this time? After Christmas and before I return to work, when it’s okay for me to sit in my pajamas and a handknitted sweater looking at knitting on the internet and thinking about spending the day knitting? That might be my favorite time of all.

Noro Striped Scarf, finished I have rallied from baby knitting disasters and am prepared to finish 2009 in a big way, so I have a few things to show you. First up, perhaps my favorite FO of 2009, my Noro Striped Scarf. Tubular cast on, sewn bind off, about 3/4 of two different balls (S245 and S87; details here) of Noro Silk Garden sock yarn gave me a scarf that was 74 inches long. Honestly, I love Noro yarns (so all you haters of Noro can stuff it), but I think making socks out of Noro Silk Garden Sock is a fool’s errand; they would last about 5 minutes, because it’s not exactly a hard-wearing yarn, you know? So a scarf is perfect.

Next up in the “parade of FOs in delicate yarn” is a pair of plain vanilla socks in Handmaiden Casbah, colorway Ruby. I was not Casbah Socks completely swayed by the lure of a merino/cashmere blend, because it’s kind of splitty and slightly tempermental, like it will pill or fuzz if you look at it funny. But these were for my mom, because you do not turn 70 every day, and even though she’s a knitter, she is not a sock knitter. I originally started these as a pair of Wendy Johnson’s Trilobites in Arucania Ranco Multi (or Multy). I was not a happy knitter; this was the last skein of yarn I bought before embarking on 9 months of Cold Sheeping, and it was knitting up suspiciously like kitchen cotton: not soft, not mom-worthy. So I gave it away, and broke my Cold Sheep streak after 290 days (I checked) with Handmaiden Casbah, the yarn equivalent of dating a supermodel. They fit beautifully, and Mom is happy – this is a craft project that’s way better than a macaroni necklace. As an aside, this was the first pair of socks I did two-at-a-time on one needle, and after completing my Nancy Bush mystery socks two-at-a-time on separate needles, I am completely in love with knitting two socks at once – that is perhaps 2009′s biggest discovery: the banishment of second sock syndrome (except for one tiny exception – I’ll definitely take care of that).

Newfoundland Mitt minus Thumb My final project for 2009 might give you a clue as to what 2010 holds: this is the Newfoundland mittens, queued in Ravelry October 7, 2007; one skein of Brown Sheep Shepherd’s Shades and one skein of Noro Kureyon (color 170, still a favorite). I have 280 things in my Ravelry queue, and it’s time to knit some of them up. I mentioned here that I’d like to try 10 new techniques in 2010, including installing a zipper in a knitted garment (#32 in my queue) and thrumming (#4 in my queue, and I have a pile of thrums waiting). I might even finish a pair of baby booties before my littlest cousin’s arrival. So happy new year to you and your needles – here’s to knitting on with confidence in 2010, just like Elizabeth recommends.

The opposite of fun.

What kind of knitter am I? I love challenges, use deadlines as motivators and think knitting for other people is noble and worthy, as long as I also get to knit for myself. Still with me? I also know my eyes are bigger than my stomach, knitting-wise, since it takes me four years to finish a sweater and my Ravelry queue is ten pages and holding – no matter how hard I try to restrain myself, there’s always something new and lovely to knit, there’s always a reason to knit faster, and if I’m not careful, I could get myself into a lot of trouble.

Take, for instance, three weeks ago Saturday.

The scene is my cousin’s wife’s baby shower, to be held three hours from my house in Ohio – I had dutifully started a Baby Surprise Jacket as soon as I had talked myself into baby knitting (“Can I finish a knitted gift? Probably not; I shouldn’t even try…But it would be so cute – and I love Elizabeth Zimmermann, even if I always forget to add the extra N – let’s knit this thing!”) which took a week or so, time I could have spent knitting, but didn’t because I was finishing these Nancy Bush Fox Faces socks (which I love, and are great – Cherry Tree Hill Supersock Select highly recommended). Nancy Bush SKA Mystery Socks, Finished Long story short, the BSJ hit a snag (an inexplicable section of stockinette – how hard is it to knit garter stitch?) and I knew it would not be done in time for the baby shower, thanks to obligations like a job, which seemed to be getting more than full-time by the minute.

As an alternative “gift garnish,” for this kickass diaper bag, I started a pair of Saartje’s booties the Bockstark way two days before the shower. Shower Saturday dawns bright and clear, and my plan is working, but I’m running out of time. Booties are done, except for buttons and button loops. My sainted husband offers to drive me to Michigan for the shower so I can finish the booties. How long could finishing take? I pictured a quick bit of knitting followed by a chatty car ride.

Answer? We may never know, because when it comes to button loops? I suck under pressure. Despite this great video, I made ugly button loops the size of basketball hoops, and in a fit of frustration, with just 20 miles or so to go before arriving at the shower…I cut them off the end of the bootie straps, snipping one of the straps in the process, and causing it to unravel. It was at about this point that I unraveled as well, out of frustration.

New Knitting Rule: If you have to count the car ride to the event as part of the time needed to finish your knitted gift, you’re probably screwed, knitting-wise you should definitely have a backup plan.

I returned home, full of shower cake, and not a little sad that once again I had gotten myself in a knitting pickle. I make my knitting deadlines just often enough that I talk myself into setting them, again and again. But knitting is supposed to be fun, and these two failed projects were the opposite of fun

Noro Striped Scarf, ProgressYou know what’s fun? Deciding on a whim to start a Noro striped scarf, and knitting away, stripe after stripe. I have been monogamous to this thing since October 25 as “failed baby gift” therapy, and you know what? It’s as tall as I am now, more than 5 feet and growing. Apparently, I can knit, I just have trouble knitting to a deadline.

Which, of course, is why I signed up with some knitting friends to participate in the Ravelympics in February. I probably will have forgotten all about this debacle by then. Also, I’m seriously considering stacking the knitting olympics deck by knitting a (quite lovely) sweater on size 15 needles.

The James Brown of sock yarns

Paraphernalia Progress It’s been an eventful month around these parts – work is exceptionally busy which explains why you get last week’s photo of the current sock instead of one taken yesterday, as I approached the toe. As you might have guessed, the sock is Paraphernalia, out of stashed Opal. This is my last ball of Opal in the sock yarn bin, and given that I still have a fair amount of knitting up to do before I reach 20,000 yards in stash, Opal and I will be separated for a good long while.

Can I just say again how much I love it? Opal is the James Brown of sock yarns – the hardest-working yarn in show business. Color, durability, yardage, and value; Opal has it all. Love! If there’s anything reading forums at Ravelry has taught me, it’s that there are a million kinds of sock yarn and an equal number of people who love each one. You can have your Merino/Cashmere/Nylon blend – I’ll take Opal any day.

The only downside? This sock may turn out to fit my mother’s size 7 foot instead of my wee size 6. So I might lose out, and mom will get two pairs, since her Bells and Whistles Socks are next up in the “Finish Me!” parade, sock division.
Lizzy Progress First to be finished will be Lizzy, seen here as last week’s pile of pieces, now a seam and a ruffle away from being a cardigan. I’m as shocked as you are to find that…I like seaming. For a results-oriented person like myself, it’s easy to see the relationship between the time spent learning how to do it well, and the lovely seams that are the product. It also makes me feel like the 14 months I spent with this sweater in progress were worth it because I’ll happily wear it out of the house…when it’s not 90 degrees here.

Tune in next time: will I start the Chicknits Ribby Cardi or Slinky Ribs from Custom Knits? Can I keep from casting on two pairs of socks for the July Socknitters Anonymous challenge? Will my budding crochet skills allow me to start Evelyn Clark’s Flowerbasket Shawl as it was meant to be started? You and I are both dying to find out.

April was the cruelest month

Punctuated Rib AttemptsThings were going so well. And yet, after a bang-up period in March that included two FOs and more than 1,000 yards knitted, I entered some kind of fugue state; just like Groundhog Day, I started the same socks over and over. I was willing the Punctuated Rib socks to work out with every fiber of my being, but yarn choices and stitch counts conspired against me. In the Large size, my chosen yarn behaved beautifully, but the sock was too big. In the Small, I fretted over pooling and flashing, but a sock I feared would be too ugly to look at fit just fine. So I changed yarns, and the dance started all over again. I started these socks a dozen times if I started them once, and in the end, I felt it’s not right to hold a grudge against your knitting. So I moved on – sort of.

Instead of finishing the Oak Ribbed Socks I bragged about almost having finished in my last post, I started another sock two times over, the Crossing Cables sock by Danny Ouelette, which I love, and which is also not working out to my satisfaction. Crossing Cables Comparison My problem is that the photo here is probably the worst photo I could take of the blue sock on the right, and the best possible photo of the green sock on the left – in reality, they’re both “meh” for different reasons, and in danger of becoming one of those projects I myself might look at and say “How could she have chosen that yarn? it doesn’t go with that pattern at all.” [People who knit lace socks with self-striping yarn, I am looking at you - ed.]. I think it’s back to the drawing board for these…

Sea Lettuce Scarf ProgressOn the bright side, I started another long-stashed project recently, Lucy Neatby’s Sea Lettuce Scarf – it’s charming, there’s no pooling or flashing, and though it’s going slowly, I’m enjoying watching it develop rather than dreading what surprise the next turn of the needles might bring. If you’re going to cast on, you might as well have something to show for it.

All this waiting is ridiculous.

I was recently tagged for the perennial “7 random things about you” meme by the lovely Kat; I soon realized that if I didn’t get off my butt and post, my 7 things would be FOs, such is the knitting production in these parts. So, off we go. [For those who can’t get enough lists, I give you ten knitterly things you don’t know about me – ed].

Sunset Fancy Socks Complete 1. My 60 GB iPod is almost full. I love music, all kinds – even bluegrass (which took some getting used to), and my dream job might be “producer who picks incidental music for Marketplace. They have excellent taste, and I consider it a point of pride that I have found and liked songs that have later appeared on Marketplace. Looking for good stuff? Try KCRW’s Today’s Top Tune. This item brought to you by Nancy Bush’s Gentleman’s Fancy socks in Trekking 108, completed in October for me and perhaps my favorite pair of socks yet.

2. My favorite word is “intransigent,” because I am, occasionally. Particularly with people who say making their own pie crust is too hard. Just try it! It’s better. I also have a favorite punctuation mark, the semicolon, because I’m nerdy like that.

3. In my stashbusting quest, I am completely taken with the idea of finished knitted objects giving you the opportunity to shop for yarn guilt-free, and have decided that henceforth two FOs will earn me the equivalent yarn for a future project. Gloria Cowl, finished This Gloria Cowl was made out of the last 2/3 of a skein of Mountain Colors Bearfoot which had been hanging out forever, and is now the newest knitted item for my loyal husband, willing to walk the dog on cold mornings because I provide a steady stream of handknits. [Yarn purchased as a result of these two FOs? Lamb’s Pride Shepherd’s Shades for the Bird in Hand Mittens. – ed.]

4. I always say that my favorite holiday is the start of Daylight Savings Time because we get an extra hour of sleep, but my real favorite holiday is Thanksgiving; all of the food and festivity and none of the stress of holiday shopping.

5. A few years ago, my husband and I were bored with cooking the same ten things over and over, so we decided to see how long we could go making something different for dinner every night. Turns out, the answer is “more than a year, even when you’re remodeling your kitchen.” We like Recipezaar because you can plug in ingredients (if you don’t feel like Googlecooking. The biggest thing we learned? If you plan and shop for a week’s worth of meals at a time, you save money and you’re a lot less likely to bail at the last minute and eat out because you have tasty choices at home.

6. I have at various times considered graduate school in social work, hospitality management, law, business, and library science. The itch for hospitality management lasted about 29 minutes; library school still seems cool to me.

7. I’d love to live outside the United States for an extended period of time, even six months. Paris, anyone?

In the non-random department, I am steaming ahead on the last sleeve of Cable and Rib, thanks to the company of Friday Night Lights on Netflix. I estimate that I’m about 86 percent done – when I reach buttonband territory, you’ll be the first to know.

I may be a square after all.

Greensburg Afghan Detail 1 Much to my surprise, my return home from the road trip to end all road trips marked the beginning of what could only be called a finishing frenzy. At the frenzy’s center? An afghan for the Rebuilding Greensburg Block by Block project that I had hoped to have seamed up months ago.

I had high hopes that after I completed this sweater, I’d whip through the afghan like butter and finish by the end of January. After all – how hard could it be? Harder than I thought (as so many things in life are), but after poking along and worrying that I wasn’t quite good enough to do the fine work of all these knitters and crocheters justice, I rallied. Greensburg Afghan, All Seamed Up And I fell in love with my afghan. I have a favorite square, but really, I liked them all – and now I am salivating to start a Lizard Ridge afghan, a Manos Four Seasons Throw – bring on the squares! I think I may have discovered the other portable thing (besides socks) that I’m interested in knitting one after the other.

Cable and Rib Progress, first sleeve As if that weren’t enough, I give you the first sleeve of Cable and Rib, officially taking forever to finish, and the only project on Flickr tagged “ithoughtiwouldbedonebynow” Get it? Beautiful, beautiful, ready for another sleeve and a button band…and slightly too big for Knit One Purl Too’s rail-thin sweater model (aka my husband). Ah, the irony; she knitted too much! I might need to downsize it, so stay tuned for updates (as if I could stop myself from telling you). If I finish by December 30, the sweater will have been a UFO for 1575 days – wow.

Which brings me to a status report of sorts. I’ve been telling myself that my knitting goal this year is 14 finished objects from patterns I already had or knew about. Seaming the afghan brings me to 5 FOs for the year, and it seems more important to clear off my needles than to knit a herd of dishcloths just so I can reach some arbitrary number. So I’d like to finish Cable and Rib, and Lizzy (the Noro cardigan – one front to go), and the Step Above Socks (pretty far along), and the Sunset Fancy Socks I’ve been carrying around as my mindless knitting (I haven’t told you about those, but I will soon enough). That would leave me with just these beautiful lace socks (better view of the pattern here – not my socks). Seems like a good way to start the year, no? And if I finish early, there’s always dishcloth knitting along with Dick Clark!

Everything old is new again.

I thought I’d take a look at my Best of 2007 because I love lists like this:

1. Your best FO of the year: I wish it were Cable and Rib, but it’s really no contest. My favorite FO was the Picot Timberline Toes socks, finished this summer. I loved the picot hem so much that it’s become a staple in my knitting repertoire, the yarn was so appealing I stashed another colorway as soon as I could get back to the shop, and the fit is great.

2. Best FO of the year made by a blog you link to: This was also easy – Jody’s St. Brigid hoodie. The color, the modifications, and the attention to detail and craft were all super-inspiring. I want to make St. Brigid right. now.

3. Best yarn you tried: ONline Supersocke was a strong contender, but I truly loved knitting with Noro Silk Garden when I made my Rebuilding Greensburg afghan square; I’m so glad I have a sweater’s worth in the stash!

4. Best new book/mag/pattern of 2007: This was very hard; I think I’d just like to note two things I saw and liked. First, there are lots of new sock patterns with gusset “decorations” – I love when the pattern highlights the foot’s shape in a neat way. Second, Berocco has really stepped up, with pretty new yarns and lovely patterns that seem light years beyond the glitz I first saw when I susbscribed to their newslettter a few years ago – yay.

5. Best new knitting technique or gadget you tried in 2007: The picot hem – I’d wanted to try it for years. It was just as easy as I suspected it might be, plus it’s a terrifically cute design element, and cuteness is a plus for me.

6. Top 5 inspirations–what five things inspired you the most over the past year? First and foremost, Ravelry has finally hit the spot for me – I love being able to see different versions of the projects that intrigue me, so I can get a clear idea of which pieces will fit and flatter. Susan and Sally Rainey are technique-driven knitters with a tremendous sense of color (that modular felted tote is now a must-knit for me) and a knack for finding challenging, beautiful projects in their knitting travels (seriously, isn’t that Damask Kauni the coolest?). Noro yarns feed my need for color; Jane Ellison’s and Lisa Shobhana Mason’s patterns let me wear them in style. The last inspiration would have to be the knitters I’ve seen make terrific mods to all sorts of patterns – from the Fake Isle Hat (I know! It’s great!) to the Monkey sock – they really made these patterns catch my eye when they hadn’t originally.

7. Designer who most amazed & inspired you throughout the year: It’s a photo finish between Anne “lace is everywhere” Hanson of Knitspot and Norah “Tweedy Aran was just the beginning” Gaughan. I’ve not knit anything from either of them, but each designer consistently inspires and intrigues me. To the queue with you both!

8. Knitting resolutions for 2008–what’s next for you and your blog? At least 14 items from patterns I already own or know about. I have the yarn for each of the items below and I can’t wait to see things pop off my needles this year.

Knitting Inspirations, 2008-style