Sweater Disappointment

I started knitting a sweater for my husband in September or October of 2019. I’ve written about it several times (here and here) as I made progress, but to sum up, I knit three quarters of the thing, then stopped due to project fatigue and a repetitive motion injury. Six months later I started the second sleeve, but set it aside again when it wasn’t the same size as the first (this is a prime example of shifting gauge. The first sleeve was knitted on vacation, the second in the middle of a pandemic). After doing a little math I made the new sleeve work. Then I sewed up the seams, knit the front bands and neckband, and sewed on the buttons. I was so excited to finally be finishing the sweater, and I documented my progress copiously on Instagram.

Seaming the body up.

Setting in the sleeves.

Adding the front bands, collar, and buttons.

I thought it was perfect…until my husband tried it on. The sweater didn’t fit. The fit issues were partly due to gaining the COVID 15, but equally at fault was the too-loose gauge I chose for the sweater. The front bands gape and refuse to hang straight even on a smaller body. And the neckline is wonky. It’s too low to be a crew neck, but too high to be anything else, and it stands out from the body instead of fitting snugly to the chest and neck. Part of me wants to rework the neck portion and the front bands and see if that will solve the problems. Another part of me wants to burn the thing and then pretend it never existed.

What do you do when disaster strikes your knitting?

2020 – a Year of Making

2020 is finally out the door and 2021 has arrived. What an odd year it has been! Last December I came home from a vacation with a sewing machine. Thus, 2020 has been a year of sewing, and I haven’t done as much knitting or spinning as I have in the past. Here are my makes:

January:

February:

  • We continued to settle into the house, and I started a mini raised-bed garden.
  • I wrote an article for Ply Magazine that came out in their Basics issue in the fall!
  • I knit a washcloth for a friend.

March:

  • I mended my slippers.
  • I made a chemisette for a Regency outfit I’ve been quietly working on in the background. 

April:

May:

  • I mocked up the bodice of my Regency dress pattern. 
  • I made a colourful pinafore
  • I bought a rose bush and planted more seeds in the garden. 
  • I finished weaving a handspun/mohair lace scarf

June:

  • I started brewing Kombucha and Kefir.
  • I finished spinning the wool samples from the spinning class I took in the Fall of 2018.
  • My husband made me a yarn display for my wall. 
  • We went on a massive hike.
  • I made a T-shirt

July:

August:

  • I made a second pair of shorts
  • I finished a sparkly tunic I had started several years ago, but stalled out on due to fitting issues. 
  • I made an 18th century-inspired petticoat skirt.
  • My article was published in Ply Magazine!!

September:

October:

  • I made a corset-style bodice and paired it with my petticoat skirt for a Hobbity Halloween look. 
  • We got a puppy!!

November:

  • We spent a lot of time playing with and training our puppy. He is adorable and is growing like a weed!
  • I baked Pumpkin Sourdough Bread in the shape of a pumpkin. 
  • I moved my garden indoors.
  • I knit a tasseled shawl!

December:

Throughout the year I have enjoyed making things, especially clothes. I always seem to think that a garment will come together in just a few hours, and I am rarely right. I need to work on factoring in a realistic amount of time when planning a project and not beat myself up when it takes longer than I initially thought it would. There is nothing like getting dressed in clothes you have made yourself. It’s like a sort of armor against the world. I am looking forward to continuing my garment-sewing journey in 2021 and (spoiler) I’m considering quilting. Because I don’t have enough hobbies yet.

Let there be Tassels!

I have been sewing SO MUCH this year, but in October I chose a knitting project. I was browsing Ravelry (as one does) and came across the Babouchka Shawl by Les Casperides. It was love at first sight. I had to have that shawl! The designer was looking for test knitters, so I immediately signed up and raided my stash. Instead of going with a white background like the designer, I chose a mottled navy blue.

The tassels, or bubblons as they are called in the pattern, are so whimsical and are great for using up small amounts of yarn leftovers that otherwise accumulate in the stash. I chose 4 accent colours for my shawl, but another tester did them all in the same colour and it’s lovely!

The shawl is a standard triangle shape, and 95% of your time will be spent knitting stockinette. The other 5% of the time you will be adding your pops of colour. The tassels are fiddly, I won’t lie, but they’re a nice counterpoint to the otherwise simple shawl construction.

I am so excited to add this shawl to my wardrobe, especially since my last few shawls have been more pink and frothy. Winter is dark and somber enough. I say, let there be tassels!

Simple, Soothing Squares

I am at a stage in life now when friends and family members are starting to have babies. Last year I made a baby blanket for my new nephew (the pattern is Bounce by TinCanKnits and I used 5 shades of Anchor Bay).

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This year I am making a blanket for my new niece. I am using another TinCanKnits pattern, Vivid, and I am using Anchor Bay yarn again (partly because it’s wonderful, and partly because I had a fair amount of yarn left over from my nephew’s blanket). Whereas Bounce is knit in rows, Vivid is comprised of many separate squares that are seamed together at the end. I’m using grey, purple, cream, and the two yellows from my nephew’s blanket. This is my planned layout:

Thalia's Dahlias2

The blanket squares only take a few hours each and are super satisfying to knit: the centers have just enough lace to be interesting without being overwhelming, and the borders of each square are calming garter knit in the round. By weighing my squares and doing some quick math I calculate that I should be able to get all 5 squares of each colour out of 1 skein. 

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I’ve just finished my fourth square: 1 each in grey, purple, cream, and light yellow. Do you think I can get this done by Christmas?

Note to Self

Note to self: when picking up a project that you haven’t worked on in 6 months, read the directions.

Exhibit A: I pulled my husband’s sweater out of the UFO pile this week. I last worked on this in December in hopes of it being ready in time for Christmas. Both fronts, the back, and one sleeve are finished. I would have finished it before the end of 2019 if I hadn’t injured my shoulder by working on it so much (note to self: when knitting a lot, I have to get some exercise to keep from getting injured). I wrote the pattern for this sweater, and I remember knitting the first sleeve, so I jumped right in, figuring I knew what I was doing.

WRONG! I worked six inches past the cuff, merrily increasing every 6th row. When I looked at the directions for how many increases to do, I saw that I was supposed to start out the sleeve by increasing every 4th row.

Riiiiiiiip. It’s amazing how quickly a sweater can be reduced back to yarn. What’s the old saying, the second time is the charm?

What to do with Swatches?

Several years ago I started saving my swatches. At the time I had some notion of how this could be a tangible record of past projects, especially items that were given away as gifts.

But as I accumulated more and more swatches I started to wonder if there was something I could do with them other than keep them in a shoebox. I pondered the conundrum and gradually an idea began to form: I could sew my swatches together into a patchwork blanket.

Obviously this won’t be an ideal solution for every swatch since some are oddly shaped or 3-dimensional, but I love the idea of taking something that would normally be discarded and making a memory blanket of sorts from it.

The upside of this plan is that the knitting is already completed, and all I have to do is the finishing. It also turns swatching into a part of an existing project, and not just a hurdle to clear before starting something new. The downside of the plan is that all the fun knitting is already done, leaving me with a million ends to deal with, and just as many seams to sew.

What do you do with your swatches?

2019 Year in Review

This is the time of year when so many of us take time to look back on what we did last year and plan ahead for the coming year. Here is what I made in 2019.

  • Knitting:
    • Finished Items: I finished 4 knitting projects in 2019, which is significantly lower than in past years. I’ve had a lot going on with work last year, which has cut into my crafting time. Also I’ve been doing a lot more non-knitting crafts and making a larger variety of items.
      • Cobbled Hat
      • Bounce Baby Blanket
      • Headset Hats for my work team
      • Secret Shawl (More details are coming later this year. Patience is a virtue.)
      • Various washcloths – this is an ongoing project as we wear through our existing stash of washcloths.

    • In Progress:
      • 3 shawls
      • 2 sweaters
      • A hat
      • Socks
      • Slippers

knitting in progress

  • Weaving:
    • Finished Items:
      • Hand towels – these were a log cabin colourwork pattern using worsted weight cotton, and I gave them to my mom before I got photos.
    • In Progress:
      • Handspun/mohair wrap

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  • Sewing:
    • Finished Items:
      • Checked Blouse
      • Sashiko Square
      • Plaid Circle Skirt (I have yet to blog about this, but rest assured, details and photos are coming.)
      • Regency era chemise
      • Small embroidery

    • In Progress:
      • English Paper Pieced Quilt
      • Burgundy Linen Dress – this is a mashup of a circle skirt, and a vest pattern that I adore.
      • Red Sleeveless Blouse – I started this before I got married. It’s time it was finished.
      • Converting a skirt to a tunic – I’m not sure if this project can be rescued, but I am determined to try!
      • Regency era short stays

  • Other Crafts:
    • Finished Items:
      • I have baked a lot of bread! My focus this year has been on sourdough.
      • My sister and I collaborated to make a Narnia-themed mobile for my nephew.

2019 has been a busy year! I can’t wait to see what 2020 holds!

New Pattern: the Cobbled Hat

Pssst! Y’all, I’m sure you’ve already noticed, but Christmas is in 4 days! A lot of us are in panic knitting mode, desperately trying to get all our handmade gifts finished in time for Christmas morning. If you have a hat on your knitting list, might I suggest a pattern that I just published in Knotions Magazine?

This is the Cobbled Hat. It’s worked in worsted weight yarn on US 7 needles. Translation: this is a really quick knit. It only took me a few evenings to knit my samples. You can totally whip one (or a few) of these up in time for Christmas!

The pattern is written in 2 sizes, to fit adults and children. It’s a really stretchy stitch pattern, which makes it more likely to fit a larger variety of heads. I knit the sample to be slightly slouchy, but if you’re crunched for time you can make the body of the hat a bit shorter and it will be a fantastic beanie.

Check out the crown decreases. I am so proud of how pretty these are! The hat is shown on a lovely lady, but it looks great on men as well. The first version of this hat was for my Father-in-Law. He wears it incessantly in the colder months.

The stitch pattern is very simple and easy to memorize, but still looks like you worked hard on it. The only skills needed for this hat are casting on, knitting and purling in the round, a central double decrease, and weaving in the ends. Easy peasy, lemon squeezy!

I hope you love the Cobbled Hat as much as I do. I am immensely proud of this pattern. I can’t wait to see it worked up in stripes and gradients and all sorts of colours!

Merry knitting, friends, and Happy Christmas!

** All photos in this post are (c) Kellie Nuss for Knotions Magazine.

I Finished the Blanket

I usually have a hard time getting large projects done. Having a deadline helps with that because it helps me push through that stage where I just can’t stand to look at the project anymore. That’s what it was like with my nephew’s baby blanket. I bought the yarn (Anchor Bay by Cascade) and pattern (Bounce by Tin Can Knits) and got started. The first colour sequence went satisfyingly quickly.

The second set of stripes went a little more slowly, and by the time I got to the 3rd stripey section I was ready to put the blanket down for a while.

Only, at that point the baby was due in less than a month. So I powered through and made myself work on it when I had time. I live far away from my family, so one of the main ways my nephew will know me is through my knitting. Knitting is important. Knitting is love.

I finished the knitting a week before my Sister-in-Law’s due date. That’s when I realized I had a massive problem: 80 ends to sew in.

Here again I wanted to throw in the towel. I thought about leaving a decorative fringe on one side of the blanket, but realized that could be dangerous. So I took a deep breath, turned on a movie, and got to work. It took me several evenings to sew all the ends in, but like everything else in life, if you work on it consistently it will eventually get done.

The yarn I used is a 50/50 cotton/superwash merino blend and is meant to be laundered like normal clothing. This is a huge reason I chose this yarn. Babies make messes, and cleanup needs to be as easy as possible. Once I finished sewing in the ends I screwed up my courage and put the blanket in the washer and dryer. It didn’t shrink or felt. In fact, it looked great coming out of the dryer…except that a few of the yarn tails had worked their way to the front. I didn’t see a long-term solution to this problem, so I left things as they are. With any luck this blanket will be chewed on and dragged around so much that a few visible ends will be the least of anyone’s worries.

Tiny Creatures Everywhere!

Last time I wrote, I told you about the blanket I was making for my nephew. I am pleased to tell you that he was born last week, and both he and his mother are home and doing well.

A while ago I asked my Sister-in-law if she wanted anything for her nursery, and she asked for a Narnia-themed baby mobile. I’d never made a mobile before, but I asked myself, how hard can it be? and dived right in. I saw 2 main options: knitting or felting. Felting seemed the faster and more detailed route, so that’s what I did.

I made a lion…

Lucy Pevensie…

Mr. Tumnus…

and a book.

I made the frame of the mobile with a medium and very thin dowel and some hemp cord.

I think it turned out quite nicely!

When I finished with it I sent it to my sister, who makes the most adorable tiny knitted animals.

She added a hedgehog and a rabbit…

a sheep…

and a bumblebee.

I couldn’t be more pleased with how the mobile turned out. I hope it sparks my nephew’s imagination for a long time to come.