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

loom.jpg

  • 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.

Bouncy Bouncy!

My brother and his wife are expecting their first child this May. Being a knitter and a first time aunt, I feel compelled to knit my nephew something, so I’ve started a Bounce blanket. I’ve wanted to knit Bounce since Tin Can Knits put the pattern out several years ago, and I’m thrilled to finally have a reason to make it!

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I played around with colours (my husband helped) and came up with 2 shades of teal, 2 shades of yellow, and cream (the nursery will be decorated in teal and yellow). The stitch pattern in this blanket is a very simple 5-row lace, but it does require a SSP, which is like an SSK but on the purl side. Not the most fun stitch, but after working it 100 times it becomes a lot less scary.

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The other thing I’m not so enthusiastic about is all those ends to weave in. I think I should start on those now so I’m not so overwhelmed when the blanket is finally finished.

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The project bag I am using is from Twist Fiber Studio and matches my project perfectly. That makes me happy.

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This past weekend I went to visit my grandmother and I brought the blanket to show her. She looks so knitterly sitting there with it on her lap.

I am 6 stripes from the finish line and the baby is due in less than a month, so I better get knitting!

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

In August of 2017 I started knitting Portage, an open-front textured cardigan. I knit the first 6 inches of the raglan increases before I lost my place and couldn’t figure out what row I was on or what my stitch count should be. In the interest of sanity (and because I enjoy knitting and I didn’t want this to spoil it for me) I set the sweater aside for another day.

raglan-portage

This year I decided that the time had come to restart this beautiful sweater. I love the yarn and I’m always cold at work, so this would be such a useful item to add to my closet (ok, let’s be real – it will live at my desk). So I ripped my stitches out and re-swatched to make sure my gauge hadn’t changed drastically since the last time I cast on. Then I started the sweater again, and this time I used ALL THE STITCH MARKERS to make sure I didn’t lose my place (My mom sent me these Llama/Alpaca stitch markers. Isn’t she sweet? HI MOM!!).

portage - markers

Friends, I am ecstatic to tell you that I finished the raglan increases correctly. Just to make sure I wouldn’t have to redo them again I ran a lifeline through the last increase row. You know, just in case. Now I’m working down the body slowly but surely. I am trying really hard to enjoy the knitting, but have a love/hate relationship with cables (I love to look at them and wear them, but hate to knit them), and the 1/1 cables that make up the whole back panel are driving me a little crazy. But I am soldiering on because this sweater is going to be so warm and cozy and I will have made it and it will be mine.

Ok, back to the grindstone. If I keep knitting on this maybe it will be done in a few years….