When I was working at Interweave, I loved it, too, but it was so much a part of work, I didn’t look forward to it like I do now. I didn’t think about it at 3:30 p.m. the way I think each night about that first cup of coffee in the morning; I want to hurry up and sleep so I can have that delicious morning nectar.
Each night when Mimi and I sit down with our knitting—we call it “couching it”—I have a feeling of anticipation as I pick up my project. Where did I leave off? What’s next in the pattern? I hope I get to start on a knit row instead of a purl row! You know the feeling.
I once wrote a blog for Thanksgiving, about about why I’m thankful for my knitting, and I still feel that way today. Here are some of those reasons:
1. It encourages my creativity.
2. It introduces me to new people who share my love for the craft.
3. It loves to travel.
4. It likes the same TV shows that I like.
5. It keeps the same schedule as I do; if I want to knit in the middle of the night, it’s there for me.
6. It challenges me.
I was out at Alpaca Direct the other day, and I was inspired by a list I saw on the blackboard that’s behind the front desk/cash register area. There was a list of reasons to knit, and I hadn’t heard of some of them, so I reinvented my list, including some of those ideas. Check out my new Top 10 Reasons to Love Knitting!
Yours in loving knitting,
P.S. Did I miss your favorite reason to knit? Leave a comment and share!
I wanted to let you know that I’ve taken a part-time job with Alpaca Direct as social media manager. Yahoo!
If you’re not familiar with Alpaca Direct, it’s an online yarn shop that also has a store front in Hayden, Idaho, about 15 minutes north of Coeur d’Alene. The store is darling—full of yarn and gorgeous samples, and it’s a homey, friendly atmosphere. I’m really excited to work with all of the wonderful people there.
Alpaca Direct doesn’t just sell alpaca yarn; you can get just about anything you need there, including all kinds of yarn, needles, crochet hooks, shawl pins, and ready-made alpaca socks!
If you haven’t checked out Alpaca Direct, please do. (I’ll still be writing here, but also blogging on the Alpaca Direct site.)
And here’s a little bit of spring on this snowy day:
Speckled yarn is having a moment! I first saw it a few years ago in the form of acid yellow speckles on a cream base. I didn’t love it. But the more I see this type of yarn, the more it grows on me.
I was at Alpaca Direct a few days ago, and I saw a gorgeous project, Susan Ashcroft’s Brain Frieze Cowl. Alpaca Direct’s store manager Susan Melka knit this version from Frabjous Fibers Cheshire Cat and Tosh Merino Light. The Cheshire Cat is the speckled yarn (it’s the Dreadfully Frightened colorway from Halloween 2016, which is no longer available), and the “solid” is Tosh Light in the Filagree colorway, which is really a light green and yellow variegated. The two yarns work together beautifully in this pattern.
The trick to using speckled yarn in a multi-yarn project is choosing colors that complement each other. You need choose solids with enough contrast so that the speckle stands out, but not so much that it overpowers it.
Check out this beautiful project from my friend Carmen:
This project is Stephen West’s beautiful Building Blocks Knit Shawl. Carmen’s yarn choices are key to the success of this project; she picked two speckled yarns with similar colors and pulled out the blue and orange for her solid yarns. The transition from solid to speckled is perfect. Looking good, Carmen!
So … I’ve been working on Amy Christoffers’ Galvanized Cardigan for over a year, and I’m beating myself up about it, because I’m knitting it as a gift, and I wanted to get it done sooner. #knittingguilt
I’m knitting this one for our family doctor; here’s the story. Several years ago, Mimi knitted this cardigan for a Project Diary on Knitting Daily (link at end of post), and it turned out not to fit her as well as she hoped, so she gave it to my mom, who wears it ALL THE TIME. In fact, she’s wearing it right now. No joke.
Anyway, Mom wore it to a doctor’s appointment, and our doc fell in love with it. She asked my mom where she got it, and when she heard that Mimi knit it, she asked if she could pay one of us to make it for her, in exactly the same yarn. My mom said she’d ask us, but we didn’t usually knit for other people.
When she asked me about it, though, I said I would love to knit it for Dr. Awesome (not her real name, ha ha). After everything she’s done for our family, it’s the least I can do. And Dr. A is the size a of a pea, so I thought I could get it done quickly. But, as you know, I didn’t.
I’m back to it now, though, and I will finish it in time for her to wear it before the weather warms up. #knittinggoals
This sweater is started from the bottom up and knit to the underarms. Then the sleeves are knit and attached to the body, and the yoke is knitted to finish up the body. The sweater is completed by knitting the neckband and buttonband. I’ve got the body and one sleeve done, and I’ve cast on the other sleeve.
The most challenging part of this sweater is the corrugated ribbing (I’ll bet you were wondering when I was going to get to that!). I filmed a video about knitting this technique in the round, and I’m working on one for knitting it flat. The flat corrugated ribbing is actually more challenging, and much less common, than working this technique in the round. Since corrugated ribbing is used all the time in colorwork on hems, cuffs, and hats, it’s usually knit in the round, as those things lend themselves to that method. And colorwork sweaters are usually steeked, so you can still knit the ribbing in the round.
Regardless of how you knit this ribbing, the trick is twisting the yarn not in use as you knit so you don’t have a hole between each color. It’s the same method that’s used in intarsia knitting; you pick up the new color from under the old color, which naturally twists the two colors in the process.
Amy’s directions for corrugated ribbing say, “When working corrugated rib, always strand the yarn not in use across the wrong side of the fabric , as for stranded colorwork. This will require passing the yarns front and back for the purl and knit stitches and simultaneously stranding the unused color.” Okaaaaaay …. I had to work hard to wrap my brain around this until I got the yarn in my hands.
This is k1, p1 knitting with two colors, but you have to work if as if you’re using one color, so the purling yarn has to be moved to the back after each purl stitch and the new yarn must be brought under the old yarn each time you knit, which secures the yarn. It’s a lot of bringing yarn back and forth, but once you get into the rhythm, it’s no big deal.
When knitting in the round, I found that holding the purl yarn in my left hand helped me automatically trap the yarn. Here’s how I did that, plus another cool tip about this knitting technique.
So that’s pretty easy. But for this pattern, you also have to knit corrugated ribbing flat, which is a bit more challenging. You have to take the purl yarn to the back when you’re working on the right side, and the knit yarn to the front when you’re working on the wrong side. WHAAAAAT?? I know. Here’s a video that might help:
I can’t wait to get the Galvanized Cardigan finished and deliver it to Dr. Awesome!
I have another knit shawl shawl on the blocking boards, and I used blocking wires on this one, so I thought I’d share it with you.
I’d love to take credit for this beauty, but it’s actually Mimi’s work—isn’t she a great knitter? I did do the blocking, though, so I can brag about that!
This is the Vittorio Shawl by Corrina Ferguson, knit from Becoming Art Cielo fingering in the Carousel colorway. Gorgeous.
The shawl gets larger until the halfway point, and then smaller, decreased back to the original cast-on number, so it’s sort of a wedge shape. Mimi thought it was an easy knit, and the payoff sure is worth it, so this might be a great project for a beginning lace knitter. It’s definitely a wonderful way to use up some of that sock yarn we all have hanging around.
As you can see, I used blocking wires to help block this piece. I threaded the wires through each of the points on the border and then stretched it into shape on the board and secured it with pins. Blocking wires are really a godsend! It took me about five minutes to thread the wires through the points in the border, and then five more to secure the shawl to the blocking board. Seriously!
If I had used just pins, it would have taken me at least three times as long to pin it into shape, and I’d have had to repin as I went, because I always stretch lace projects more at the end than I do at the beginning, so I need to repin the first part to match the last part. Anyone else do this??
I love how this turned out; I can’t wait to steal it from Mimi and wear it!
About those Blocking Boards
On my last post, someone asked me about my blocking mats, asking if she needed two sets. I do have two sets of blocking mats (link below), and I recommend getting two if you can swing it. Since they’re individual blocks, you can put them together any way you want to, which enables you to make your blocking board fit your project, and not the other way around.
So, if you’re blocking a sweater, you can build a square, and if you’re blocking a scarf, you can build a long rectangle. I love this flexibility.
Links and Stuff
Here are links to the items I talk about in this post. Some things are available at other stores, too.
It’s confirmed: blocking works magic. As you know, I was skeptical a simple soak and stretch could fix my mess of a garter-stitch scarf, but it did. The Lori Scarf by Carrie Bostick Hoge is a smooth, soft, beautiful finished object!
Blocking knitting is easy, really. I filled my bathroom sink with lukewarm water and a little Soak wool wash, and put the scarf in. The important thing here is to get the piece totally submerged and completely wet. So I squeezed the scarf a few times to make sure it had absorbed the water, and let it soak for an hour or so.
Then I squeezed out as much water as I could, and “squeeze” is the operative word here. Do NOT wring out your knitting, ever. When the fiber is wet, it’s fragile, and you can really stretch it out of shape, or even damage it, if you wring it out.
What I like to do for this step is drain the water and let gravity do its work for awhile, and then gently squeeze the knitted piece until no more water runs from it.
In the case of this shawl, that did the trick because it’s such a light and relatively small item. If you’re working with a sweater, you’ll probably need to roll it in some clean, dry towels after you squeeze out the water. I do this for almost all of my sweaters, and it works great to absorb most of the excess water. You’ll have some wet towels to deal with, but we must suffer a tiny bit for the beauty of our knitted garments!
Now comes the fun part: The stretching and pinning. I use blocking boards that I got from KnitPicks (link below), which I love. They’re like those interlocking play mat squares that kids use on floors; in fact, I know many people who use those mats for blocking. Why not? (I have two sets of blocking mats, and they’re slightly different colors, so that explains the checkerboard effect in the photo below.)
Normally, and especially when I’m blocking sweaters, I check the measurements that I need the finished object to be and block the item to those measurements. This time, though, I wanted to see how big I could make this scarf, and since garter-stitch S-T-R-E-T-C-H-E-S, I knew I could make it pretty big. So I pinned the two right corners and used Knitter’s Pride’s awesome Knit Blockers (link below) to pin the larger end of the scarf in place so I wouldn’t pull it out of shape. Then I stretched that sucker out!
It’s now about 52 inches long and 36 inches tall at the tallest point, and I think that’s the perfect size. I can wrap it loosely around my neck or bunch it all up.
The bunching option is what I’m going for today, since it’s 10 degrees out! And the cashmere (Habu Textiles N-86 Pure Cashmere) will keep me nice and cozy.
So that’s the scoop on this FINISHED OBJECT. I love it so much, and all my worry was for naught. Thanks to those of you who reassured me that blocking would indeed fix my problems—you were right!
If you have any blocking knitting tips, or if you block your knits differently than I do, leave a comment and share your wisdom.
Last year I wrote a post on Knitting Daily about my new year’s knitting resolutions, and I thought I’d do a follow-up and see how I did.
Resolution 1: Finish Kayleen Tee and Zuni Cardigan. Nope, these are still on the needles. But I did make progress. Kayleen is almost completed, I just need to finish the sleeves. This is a warm-weather top, so I’ll finish it this spring. Zuni is in rotation currently; I hope to finish it this winter.
Resolution 2: Knit a lace shawl. Yes! I achieved this goal (it’s not really a resolution, is it?). I knit 198 Yards of Heaven, which I love and wear all the time.
Resolution 3: Organize my stash. Nope. My yarn is in bins and storage containers, awaiting its final resting place. I have a plan, but it’s not been implemented.
Resolution 4: Donate or sell yarn I’ll never use. Nope, see above. I need to organize my stash first.
So, utter failure. What the hell did I knit this year? I need to look back on my projects, because this review has me seriously doubting I’ve spent enough time with my yarn and needles.
I guess this saves me from having to make any new resolutions this year, though, except maybe to knit more! Do you have any yarny resolutions this year?
We just got back from Arizona, where we spent five days, three of them in the pouring rain, and two in glorious, warm sunshine. But all five were filled with family and fun. My sister and her husband live in Phoenix, and Mimi’s parents and family live in Scottsdale, where we stayed. My mom went, too, and stayed with my sister. We all got to spend lots of time together, cooking, laughing, eating, and relaxing.
Mimi’s mom is a wonderful hostess, and she invited my family to join us in Scottsdale for Christmas Eve. It was dinner for 19, and it went off without a hitch. We spent the day cooking and setting tables, and the evening visiting and eating the fruits of our labor. Delicious!
We are big football fans in my family. When I was a little girl, my dad coached football at Washington State University, and my brother and I both went to college there. So we root for the Cougars through good and bad; it’s mostly bad or fair, honestly. There’s a saying that WSU Cougar fans are undefeated, and that’s so true—we cheer on our team equally in losing and winning seasons. Well, maybe a teensy bit harder in winning seasons.
When I was with Knitting Daily, I wrote a newsletter about the Scoreboard Cowl knit-along from Skacel. With my family background in football, I was so enthusiastic about this cool project—you end up with a randomly stripped cowl that corresponds to each game, one round per point. The people at Skacel were so kind, they loved my blog and offered me free yarn to take part in the KAL. So I asked for Cougar colors, crimson and gray. I got through about three games last season, and then I got distracted by something and put down the project. Sad.
I found it again this year while packing for Arizona, and I decided to take it with me. The Cougs had a great season, and made it to one of the top bowls, so I thought I’d knit on it and record the bowl score in my scarf. But alas, we laid a big rotten egg right there on the field. Terrible game! So I’m putting this project away until next season. Hopefully we can get to a good bowl again and WIN.
In other knitting news, Mimi and I are on a finishing kick: no new projects can be cast on until the new year. Mimi has been a finishing fool! She’s completed her own Scoreboard Cowl, in Seahawks colors, and grafted it together. You have to Kitchener the ends together in the round, which is different than doing it flat. I’ll make a video on that soon for you.
Mimi has also finished a sweater and she’s almost done with two more. She wins. I’ve only finished my Lori Scarf and it’s not even blocked, so it’s not really finished, I guess.
I completed the James sweater last year, and it turned out too big at the bottom. It’s supposed to be swingy, but I did too many increase rounds, so it was too swingy, plus it grew after blocking. I made it tunic length, so it was hard to rip out TEN INCHES! Since it had already been blocked, the raveled yarn was really ramen-ish, as you can see below. I could have skeined it, soaked it, dried it, etc., but I couldn’t be bothered. I balled it up as I ripped it out, and started knitting again right away.
Check out the difference in the blocked fabric and the reknit fabric. Man, I hope this works out.
I’m using Plucky Knitter Primo Sport in the color Lonely Heart. The photo at left is more true to the color than the photos above.
I’m going to make this much shorter and do shirt-tail shaping on the front and back with short-rows. I also knit cap sleeves because I wasn’t sure if I had enough yarn for the longer sleeves. Now I will, but I like the short sleeves.
We’re back in knitting weather, that’s for sure. We came home to six inches of snow, and plowed-in cars. It took about an hour to dig my mom’s car out, and I was thanking whomever the entire time that I was able to park in my garage. It’s a winter wonderland to look at, but a pain in the butt to work in!
I hope your holidays are happy. What’s on your needles?
This year I’m making about 100 Christmas cards. Good thing I’m not hampered by a pesky job . . . Mimi calls this time of year Christmas card season, and she’s not far off.
I love paper crafting, and I can spend hours creating tiny pieces of art in the form of cards. My crafting space is what spawned my blog title, The Craftermath. Check it out:
It’s the aftermath of crafting!
So far I have about 60 cards done, so I’m on my way. You can see one in progress above. Some are simple, some are much more complex; I enjoy doing both types. I sell Stampin’ Up products, so that’s what I use most of the time, but if I see an idea that I love, I go for it regardless of the products used.
For instance, this stamp set from Lawn Fawn was just delivered, and I can’t even!
Alpaca my scarf—I love it when crafting interests collide!
What’s on My Needles?
Still that Lori shawl, but it’s almost done. My gauge is much better with the Addis, so there’s a lesson in there, somewhere. I also blocked a project that I finished last year, 198 Yards of Heaven, a little knit shawl pattern:
I LOVE IT! I finished it in four days at a knitting retreat, and then I put it in a drawer and forgot about it for a year. Sigh. But it resurfaced and I blocked it last week. I’ve worn it twice and my mom has worn it three times. 🙂
I used Malabrigo Worsted for the body and some of the border, and then I ran out of yarn, so I finished with Malabrigo Twist in the same color, and you can’t tell the difference. If I’d have stuck to the pattern, the 210 yards of Worsted would have been fine, but I just had to go and add a repeat (I wanted it to be bigger), so I needed more yarn.
I thought I had another ball of Worsted, but no. And there was no more of that color at the yarn shop, so I was resigned to ripping out the extra repeat, but the gal at the shop suggested Twist to finish it off, and the colors were identical. When does that happen?? Love the LYS staff so much.
I highly recommend this pattern. 198 Yards of Heaven is by Christy Verity, and it’s fun, easy, and QUICK. Lace with Aran-weight yarn? Sign me up.
The photo at left is me wearing my shawl on a night out in Spokane. Mimi and I met friends at the historic and gorgeous Davenport Hotel, and attended Christmas Tree Elegance. This is an annual fundraiser for the symphony, and companies and individuals donate several themed trees and raffle them off. There was an over-the-top Seahawks tree, and I had to stop Mimi from putting all of our tickets in that bucket! Here’s a glimpse:
The winner gets all of that stuff! Including the giant TV. My favorite tree was called Gnome Sweet Gnome, which included a lot of gnomes, naturally, and patio furniture and decorations. Pretty cute. We love that event; it’s so festive and a great kick-off to the holiday season.
So there’s a wrap up of my bi-craftual activities and holiday happenings. Are you bi-craftual? Tell me about your interests!
My current project is a hot mess. At knitting group this morning, I told my friends that the only reason I’m finishing it is because it’s 100 percent cashmere, and I can’t let that go to waste.
I’m working on Carrie Bostick Hoge’s Lori Shawl from her wonderful book, Madder: Anthology 2/Simple Pleasures. I saw a sample of the shawl at Tolt Yarn and Wool in Carnation, Washington (if you ever get the chance, GO THERE!), and I knew I had to have it. I’m working on the smaller-gauge version, knit with lace-weight Habu N-86 Pure Cashmere, on size 2 needles, too, which I hate.
But it’s pretty cute, right? It’s a right-angle, garter-stitch triangle, with two-thirds knit in gray and one-third knit in cream. I did the same colors as shown at above, which will fit right into my wardrobe.
The problem is, my version looks nothing like it should, and I have my doubts that blocking can fix it. Here it is in progress:
Yeah. And last night I found two more dropped stitches. It really looks horrible; I’m hoping a good soaking and blocking will help, and that this yarn has a pretty good bloom to help hide some of the problems.
This little knit shawl pattern has been in the works for quite some time, traveling with me in my purse. After a few rows, I had to change needles because the Addis I was using were too slippery. I switched to my Chiaogoo Spin bamboo interchangeables, which were better with this fine yarn. But I didn’t notice until much later that the new needles had loosened up my gauge. You can see in the photo above where I changed needles. One of the sweet ladies at a knitting retreat said I should think of the first few rows as a border. Done!
I’ve been working on this shawl pretty steadily for the last few weeks, and I think I can see my feelings in it. The loose gauge represents down days, thinking about my old job that I miss and pondering my future, and the tighter portions may have been knit while I was watching election results or the news. It’s interesting to actually be able to see my emotions in my knitting.
Two nights ago, I pulled out the shawl and discovered that one of my needles was broken. Argh!!!!!! I must have stepped on my knitting bag or something.
Huge bummer, and the only other size 2 needles I have are the Addis, which I ordinarily LOVE, just not for this project. But I had to switch back, and my gauge is a bit tighter. I just added the cream yarn, so maybe the tension issue will be hidden in the color change. Or maybe not.
I’m going to finish this sucker and wear it, regardless of the finished look. It’ll definitely be better than it is now, because it couldn’t get much worse, and it will be a reminder of this hard time in my life, and that I came out fine on the other end. Because I will be fine. In fact, I’m enjoying my leisure time and feeling better every day.