Finished Object: The 5-Year Hat

5 years is a long time. 5 years ago I had just graduated from college and gone on a trip to Europe: I was broke. It wasn’t a great time for jobs, so I was working part time and sharing a 1-bedroom apartment with 2 other girls (my “bedroom” was actually the dining room and my “door” was a curtain).

I was a new knitter, so I barely knew what I was doing and had no idea what good yarn was. But I was passionate about knitting, so I made do with what I had and somehow not everything I knit during that period was crap. I had found Ravelry by this time and I adored Tin Can Knits (I still adore them. They’re fabulous!). It was Christmas time, so I bought their Sitka Spruce hat pattern and some KnitPicks yarn (Wool of the Andes Superwash) and began to knit (note that I did not swatch).

knit beret

I had trouble with the pattern – not because it wasn’t a good pattern (Tin Can Knits patterns are awesome), but because I was a new knitter and I was still figuring the whole knitting thing out. By hook or by crook I finished the hat and then realized it was too big. It probably would have fit a giant perfectly. I stuck it in the washer and dryer and hoped it would shrink some…no dice. So I threw it in the bottom of my stash and started something else. I was really sad though. I had spent so much time (and a decent amount of money to me at the time) on this hat, only to have it not fit. I knew it was my fault because I wouldn’t take the time to swatch…but it still hurt, and from time to time it niggled at my brain.

handknit beret

I did a few google searches and found out that I could sew elastic thread inside the brim to tighten it up, so I bought some elastic thread and set to with gusto. I got halfway through hat surgery and tried it on to see how I was doing, only to find that now my beautiful hat was too small. The Horror! The Irony! The knitting goddess was really trying to beat this lesson into me: For the love of wool, swatch before you start! (For the record, I swatch pretty religiously now. I still dislike it.) I threw the hat and elastic back in the stash and there it has stayed for the last 4 1/2 years.

sew elastic thread into knitted brim

Today I pulled the hat out and found the elastic, determined to fix the darn hat once and for all. First I loosened the elastic I had already sewn in, then I sewed elastic into the rest of the brim. 30 minutes was all it took. Why did it take me 5 years to do 30 minutes’ work? Next time I need to amend my knitting remind me of the 5 year hat.

handknit beret

Learning Entrelac and Knitting Backwards

I’ve been meaning to learn to knit Entrelac for quite a while now, but I was always intimidated because of how hard I had heard it was. There are a lot of things in life that we are told are hard. But some things that might be hard for me might be easy for you, or vice versa. In most cases I find that things are often easier than they seem. All it takes is a willingness to learn and some good old-fashioned practice.

A year ago I spun 545 yards of somewhat thick and thin singles yarn. I chose the fiber because it reminded me of the Arizona sunsets of my childhood, fading from yellow into orange into red into deepest purple. I took bits of each colour and added them to the larger sections of the other colours so the skein would hold together a little more cohesively, then I spun my heart out. Ever since then, I’ve been wondering what to do with this gem of a skein.

handspun yarn

A few weeks ago I was hanging out at the yarn store (as you do) and entrelac came up in conversation. A trusted spinning friend pointed me toward Allison LoCicero’s excellent (and free) Entrelac Scarf pattern so I, too, could learn to knit entrelac. After a bit of a false start I am happy to say I can now knit entrelac pretty smoothly. About the 2nd row I got really tired of turning my work every 8 stitches, so I thought about how a knit stitch and a purl stitch were formed and taught myself to knit backwards. It’s a little awkward at first, but once you get used to it, it’s really not that bad.

I can’t wait to see how this scarf comes out. I have a feeling it’s going to be incredible.

knitting entrelac

Finished Object: Squircle Socks

Hello, there, lovelies! I have been a busy bee and finished some socks! I started the Squircle Socks on Thanksgiving Day last year as my husband drove us 2 hours to his grandparents house. The project stayed in my bag as a “just in case” project for a long time, and I’m not a very prolific sock knitter anyway (I once knit a pair of man-sized socks in 2 weeks and hurt my wrists so bad I couldn’t knit for almost a month afterward. Not doing that again). The yarn is Knit Picks Felici in Mint Chip, which is sadly no longer available. This was my first time using self-striping sock yarn. I can’t believe I hadn’t tried this before! It was so ridiculously fun! The pattern is a little involved and asks you to do a little math, but it was a really fun and interesting knit.

If you want to explore different sock styles and like a bit of a challenge, I would highly recommend the Squircle Socks.

Me Made May: Year 2

I participated in Me Made May again this year. My making has slowed down considerably in the last 6 months, so my goal was the same as last year: wear 1 handmade garment or accessory every day. It’s interesting to see how many garments were the same as last year, but also how many were different.

Garments:

Of course I wore my grey Alabama Chanin dress. This dress has become one of my go-tos: I feel good in it and I always get compliments. I also get a lot of wear out of my orange tunic-dress. It’s super comfortable and easy to wear for a lazy day at home.

I have 4 handmade sleeveless tops now: 2 self-drafted, and 2 Wiksten Tanks.

I don’t wear vests a lot, but when I do, they need huge awesome collars. Some handmade lace for a back cutout doesn’t hurt, either.

It’s debatable whether socks are garments or accessories, but I figure since they enclose a part of your body and have to fit, they should be included as garments. I wore my Slytherin socks and my Watermelon socks throughout the month.

Having handmade undergarments has been a real boon for those days when everything else was dirty or didn’t seem to go well together.

sew1

Accessories:

My office is really cold. As in, ‘wear socks and shoes (not sandals) and a shawl and a sweater and fingerless gloves’ cold. So I wore shawls a fair amount this month. My Granny shawl drapes perfectly and stays on effortlessly, and I also wore my wedding shawl and my most recent pattern release, the Balai Shawl (free pattern here).

Some days I didn’t feel like going all out, so I accessorized with my Kumihimo necklace or a ribbon rose hair clip. Simple, but effective.

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New:

I’ve been working on several projects this month, but most of them aren’t finished yet (oh the life of a crafter). I did manage to finally finish my wool crepe vest, and I love how it turned out! It’s big and comfortable and the fabric is oh so lovely.

Easy as Pi

I don’t know about you, but this has been the hardest April I can remember. In fact, I dont think I’ve ever experienced such a difficult start to the year. In December I got a promotion at work. I was in a job I didn’t like, and now I have a job that I enjoy a lot. But the job comes with more responsibility, and with responsibility comes stress. Cue knitting to save my sanity.

A few months ago I finally bought the Knitter’s Almanac. I walked through Elizabeth Zimmermann’s fabulous “unventions” and sage advice, and decided that now was the time to cast on a Pi Shawl. Sometimes you start something and you’re not sure why, but it just seems like the right thing for the time. This shawl is what my brain and my heart have needed over the last few months. I sit down to work on it and it helps me to slow down and stop worrying. The yarns are beautiful and make this knitting a very tactile experience.

Earlier this month I got a call that my grandma was very ill and might not make it for much longer. I bought a plane ticket, packed a bag, and went to be with her. This shawl was such a comfort as I travelled and sat in waiting rooms. I showed it to her and she thought it was so beautiful. And then as she started to recover I knit on it in joy, so pleased that I was not knitting in mourning.

So often in my knitting I try to be smart. The easy solution or the obvious solution are not good enough, I have to do it the hard way. But sometimes I need something easy so that my brain can stop working on overdrive. That is what this shawl is for me.

Hearts!

I don’t want to alarm you, but it is February now and Valentines Day is creeping up on us. There are a lot of people who don’t like Valentine’s Day because they think we should express our love every day and not just on a Holiday. I completely agree. We should express our love to the people that matter to us every day. But why not take a holiday that’s focused on love and use that as an excuse to do something extra special? Go out to dinner. See a movie or a show. Do something nicer than you normally would. Every relationship needs those times when you do more than usual.

Now, I would be doing you a disservice if I didn’t bring yarn into this discussion (that is why you read my blog…right?). Hunter Hammersen recently released a pattern for the most adorable heart stuffy. The genius of her design is that you can use any yarn and needles you like. If you haven’t made a heart yet, stop what you are doing, get the pattern, and knit one right now! They only take a few hours to knit, and they are so sweet! And the pattern is 10% off with the code SMITTEN through February 14th. Hunter is running a knit along right now, and it is so wonderful to see all sorts of hearts popping up, and especially to see all the people making multiple hearts.

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My heart was a great stashbuster. I used aran weight yarn, so it turned out quite large. The cream background yarn was the cable plied BFL from this month’s breed study. The pink is a sample of Miss Babs, and the purple was a handspun sport weight yarn held doubled. I used all the pink up, and had only a few yards left over of my handspun yarns, so I used them to stuff the heart along with some poly-fill and a lavender sachet.

What is your favourite way to celebrate Valentine’s Day?

Sometimes You Just Need to Knit a Washcloth

My husband was looking for a washcloth the other day. Apparently he was having trouble finding one, because he told me we need more (We used to have piles and piles of washcloths. I don’t know what happened to them…). Instantly I went into knitter mode. Must. Find. the Cotton. Yarn!!

green cotton yarn

It turns out I had precisely 1 ball of washcloth cotton, and it was only a partial. What a pity. I just had to go buy more yarn. That really broke my heart.

cotton yarn

I am really loving the simplicity of garter stitch right now. I have so many plans and projects and thoughts in my head that I need to just slow down and knit one stitch after another. Since I have lots of colours now, maybe I will join the Fringe Association LogAlong bandwagon. Everyone keeps saying how fun and addicting log cabin is. And I do need washcloths….

knitting garter stitch