Category Archives: Turtleneck Shrug

My no-fail quick weight loss program.

I am good at a lot of things (word scramble puzzles, the SSK decrease, meal planning, writing thank you notes), but I am not really a good swimmer. I do it anyway, because it’s the best exercise I’ve found, but I will never set any records, compete in the Olympics or cut a graceful line through the water.

Surprisingly, for something at which I am so mediocre, it makes me very happy. I look forward to the first lap, gliding through the water quietly before I take my first breath. I feel a huge sense of accomplishment that each week, I swim a little farther – when I started, I swam just 120 yards before pooping out, and I thought I would die if I went further. Now, I swim a third of a mile – 600 yards – each time – and a half mile seems within reach.

As I was catching up on vintage episodes of Cast On, Brenda mentioned a women’s shelter in Philadelphia that was looking for knitting supplies and needles – I checked out their knitting blog, and the projects on display seemed to me to be full of the same kind of joy I experience when swimming: occasionally rough around the edges, always worthwhile, beautiful in their own way. So I filled a box with bits and bobs, needles and skeins and sent it on its way to the city of knitterly love.

That, my friends, is my no-fail quick stash weight loss program. Much of the yarn that went in the box was odds and ends that had not been added to my stash inventory, but seven (seven!) things came off that list. Ravelry tells me I have about 20,000 yards of yarn in my stash; now that I’ve divested myself of much of the yarn I didn’t bother to inventory, I think that number’s pretty accurate. I blame Jenny and Nicole of Stash and Burn for my sudden need to know how much I had; frankly, I expected it to be much, much more, but ten metaphorical sweaters’ worth is not peanuts (not Salt Peanuts, though, since I destashed her last year – ha!).

Turtleneck Shrug On Of course, the other way to destash is to knit up all that yarn; in that spirit I have finished Teva Durham’s Turtleneck Shrug from Scarf Style. It’s a wacky little project, but I loved the shrug for its cleverness. Details: 7.3 skeins (1.3 more than I expected) of Classic Elite Waterlily in Goldfish, a pumpkin so pretty it makes me want to knit with wool in June. Mods, none, other than binding off the turtleneck a little early. Firsts: I have now cast on with the backwards loop – why I waited so long, I have no idea. It was exceedingly hard to get a good FO photo of the Turtleneck Shrug – I tried 43 times. Most attempts showed too much me, not enough shrug, and at one point, I felt fairly certain I was flashing a gang sign. I feel those who make the TS are honor-bound to wear it, to a. show off its greatness, and b. keep it from looking like a pair of knitted chaps. If I can get a better photo, you’ll be the first to see it.

Some bonus links: I feel fairly certain this is not breaking news, but here are project slideshows (look in the sidebar on the right for more knitting pron) for two new books in Interweave’s Style series, Folk Style and Bag Style. I like the projects in Folk Style, because Mags Kandis’ sense of color and detail is exquisite, but I want to knit that bag on the cover of Bag Style so much, it’s as though my life depended on it. Seriously, November can’t come soon enough, and not just because it will be sweater weather. Hurry, up, Interweave!

P.S. I have 70 yards or so of the Waterlily left – ask nicely, and it’s yours.

[P.P.S. For those of you hoping this entry contained actual weight loss tips for humans, I can’t recommend the No S Diet enough. So simple, even I can do it. – ed.]

Lines of deliciousness.

TurtleneckShrug I think I am officially forgoing any claims of knitting simplicity for the duration of the Turtleneck Shrug project: I didn’t reclaim the yarn from a thrift store sweater or swap for it, I didn’t buy the yarn on sale, I didn’t go with my first choice, less-expensive yarn…and I am now buying more of the ridiculously decadent Classic Elite Waterlily to finish the shrug off.

Guilt-free knitting right here, baby! I am under the spell of Waterlily in a big way because it’s a. soft, soft, soft, and b. the slight variations in color totally ring my chimes. I have a complicated relationship with multicolored and variegated yarns, so pretty in the skein, often fugly knit up. This is just the right blend of lights and darks; combined with the texture the multiple plies give the finished fabric, it’s swoony. Veritable lines of deliciousness.

Why did I order more yarn, do you ask? Well, the Turtleneck Shrug calls for 600 yards of worsted-weight yarn, which I had. While I did swatch, I didn’t do so aggressively (when they say “ribbing, stretched” that gives a knitter a lot of leeway), I just tested needle sizes until I got a fabric I liked. Rowan Kid Classic (the yarn called for) and Waterlily are ostensibly worsted-weight with the same ball band needle size. So, in the end I’m simply using more yarn than the pattern asks for because my fabric must be more dense, er, more lush and sumptuous. I had planned on shortening the sleeves, but it was clear that keeping the sleeves short enough to use just 600 yards of Waterlily was going to compromise the wrap-around-the-neck scarf-like qualities of the garment. I want a warm winter scarf above all else, so more yarn it is! TurtleneckShrug-twosleeves

I’ve knitted the two TS sleeves in two weeks, which is surely a record for me; just one shoulder and the turtleneck to go before I tuck it away for winter (or begin wearing it with my bathing suit). Since we’ve last seen each other, I’ve also swatched for Lizzy from Naturally Noro and Ariann from Chicknits – I’m very close to gauge with Ariann, and bang-on for Lizzy, so there is evidence that I don’t just plunge into knitting projects willy-nilly without regard to fit.

Before I embark upon a new sweater for fall, I’ll be making five (count ’em, five) hats for Dulaan – I took the “10,000 or bust” challenge because what could be better than making the wooliest of items for people guaranteed to appreciate them? I loved the idea of the Dulaan-a-thaan, but since I am thousands of miles away from Ryan and will be at a wedding on June 2, my “thaan” will be from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. on June 3. I’m looking forward to it – after all, how often does a girl get to use three strands of worsted wool held together? [If that hat really does take just an hour, you can bet there will be more than five at the end of the day –ed.] I will, of course, document the entire freakin’ thing for the blog. Because it’s knitting, and because if the world needs a little more of something, it’s pictures of me in my pajamas splashed all over the Internet.

I hear crochet comes in handy.

Today is my birthday – shh, I haven’t told anyone else. I like the wild rumpus as much as the next person, but I am enjoying the 38th version of my birthday, low key and mellow, as much as the 29th (at which I threw myself a party) and the 21st (at which I convinced an entire movie theater full of people to sing “Happy Birthday” to me – and I have the pictures to prove it).

All of this is prologue to telling you about my day with Lucy Neatby – I had to keep reminding myself of that saying “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.” Everything is okay, but I blame the imbroglio in between on crochet.

You see, I consider myself an intermediate sock knitter – but I do not crochet, in any way, shape or form. Yet. So when Lucy started her “Even Cooler Socks” class by saying “Crochet a chain of 20 stitches,” I knew I was in the weeds. Lucy was gracious, kind, and helpful; I was chagrined, and felt like I should have been wearing a t-shirt that said “I hear crochet comes in handy.”

Even with my non-existent crochet skillz, I still managed to find the class mind-blowing; Lucy is the kind of knitter who invents a new technique because she’s bored with the old one or suspects that the same old thing we always do can be done more efficiently. Who could not love that? If you have a chance to take a class with her, I highly recommend it – just make sure you’ve got a handle on the provisional crochet cast on first, and you’ll be all set.

I feel like I walked away from the class with homework: 1. Practice the provisional cast on for 15 minutes a day, and 2. Make a pair of Fiesta Feet socks, which feature two of the stitch patterns we covered in class. Thankfully, Rob and Matt were able to set me up with supplies, so those socks will be making an appearance soon enough.

Turtleneck Shrug sleeve But in the meantime, I’ve started some birthday knitting: the Turtleneck Shrug from Scarf Style in Classic Elite Waterlily, a merino with multiple plies that give a lot of texture to the finished fabric. I was hoping to have it done by now, but the best-laid plans only gave me 14 inches or so. Next week, just in time for summer!

I was going to say a propos of my humbling experience in Lucy’s class that there are two kinds of knitters, those who stay wiith what they know and those who keep pushing themselves to learn – but I think it just means that as many times as I return to projects that feature my beloved ribbing, I’ll want to venture beyond what I know to new and different territory. First stop: the crochet hook.