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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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…
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.
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.
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!!).
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….
Friends, I am so excited to tell you about my newest pattern, the Drosseln hat!
This pattern was begun when the owner of my yarn store gave me a book of Medieval German embroidery patterns for my anniversary. As I flipped through the pages I was astounded at the beauty of the designs our foremothers used to portray the world around them. When I came to a page depicting two thrushes (drosseln) in a field of flowers I knew I had come upon something I wanted to knit. I used my own handspun and yarn from my honeymoon to create the first version of this design, and marked my place with Jane Austen stitch markers.
The pattern is written for a finished hat circumference of 21 inches (53.3cm) to fit head 21 inches (53.3cm) around. The patterned portion of the hat is extra thick, causing it to fit as if it has a small amount of negative ease. Sample gauge is included to make a smaller or larger hat (18 and 22 inches/45.5 and 58.5 cm).
You can use a light fingering weight yarn held double or a light worsted weight for your CC, making this hat a great stashbuster. The colours really pop if one of your yarns is lightly variegated, or you can use solid or tonal colours for both yarns.
From now until Christmas you can get the pattern for 25% off with the coupon code LoveMyLYS.
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).
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.
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.
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.