Rules for Feeding the Stash

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Future Project: Sweater Vest

A few weeks ago I volunteered to knit my sister a sweater vest for her summer internship.  I made this offer surprisingly, as I had just finished her Division and was still working on the Watermelon Socks, and I was very much looking forward to doing a lot of knitting for myself and not having any deadlines.  (This seems to be a recurring pattern in my life: as soon as I no longer have obligatory knitting, I begin looking for some.)

I had some ideas for design elements that I wanted to incorporate into a sweater, and this gave me the perfect chance to try them out.  The vest needs to keep her warm in an air-conditioned office, but it needs to be light enough to be wearable in the hottest part of summer.  We ended up going with Knit Picks Comfy Worsted in Seraphim for yarn.  It came last weekend and I knitted up a swatch.

It's not perfect, but it gives me plenty to work with.  I'm really happy with how the lace worked up, and the cables show beautifully.  I want to get this done by mid-May, when the school year ends.  It shouldn't take too long to knit up, and since I have the swatch done already I just have a little more math to do before I can cast on.

WIP: Firmaments (Still)

I know you're all wondering: there's only 20,198 stitches left.  (And I think it looks bigger now.  But I'm still running into the problem of how to lay it out nice and pretty so it looks like more than a yellow blob.)

I'll be able to start the border tomorrow evening, if everything goes according to schedule. The border is knit back and forth along the edge, and the live stitches are picked up as you go (three cheers for not having to bind off 576 stitches!).  It'll be a little fiddly, as I'll have to turn the work every 20 stitches, but hopefully I'll get some serious momentum going.  I'd like to have this finished this week so I can block it over the weekend. 

A lot of my momentum has come from the thought of wearing it when I go to Beauty and the Beast on April 9th (Belle's dress is yellow, this shawl is yellow, it's clearly meant to be).  It's looking like having a set goal has really helped me power through this thing.  (For comparison, I've knit more in the past week than I did all of last summer at play practice, and that was for 1-3 hours a day, five days a week.)

I did burn out and lose a day of knitting last week, so I'm really hoping that doesn't happen this week.  Hopefully you'll all get to see this as an FO soon!

Monday, March 24, 2014


I like lists.  A lot of times, I have so much knitting I feel like I have to do that it gets overwhelming.  Lists refocus that; they give me something concrete to work from.  They're also in a near-constant state of flux: I can arbitrarily add things, or take them away (when I think about it, all of my deadlines are ultimately self-imposed, and it doesn't matter if I shove half a shawl on the bookshelf for two years), and as time goes on the items on the list take up less and less space.  For instance, a pair of socks takes up a lot of space on my list.  But give it a week.  When I revisit my list, just as a check-in with myself, all of a sudden one sock is knit and I have two rows of the cuff done on the second and that pair of socks doesn't look as foreboding when I see it on paper anymore.

In the spirit of lists, and organization, and motivation, and focus, and accountability, here is my list for now through mid-July:

1. Firmaments (less than 32,000sts left now; yes, it still looks the same)

2. Three pairs of socks for Mum:
-Plain Socks
(one for Mother's Day, one for her birthday, and one just because she's my mother and I love her and she doesn't have enough hand-knit socks right now)

3. Sweater-vest for Anemone (this is a multi-parter: I need to design and knit the vest for her, then edit the pattern and hopefully have it ready for release by the end of May)

4. A pair of Transitions Sleeves for my brother

5. A lace table-runner for my good friend who is getting married (again, I will probably end up designing this and wanting to get the pattern released by the end of the summer)

6. Heart, for my brother

In the midst of all this, I also want to finish my Neville socks and get a good start on Mottled Daydream

I feel better writing it all down.  It looks more manageable when it's words on a screen instead of a looming pile of yarn.  

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Flashback: First Socks

I was an ambitious new knitter.  I knit two dishcloths, then started on my first pair of socks.  Overall, this is a pretty solid pair.  They're the same size, the heels aren't crooked, the knitting is even.  The biggest problem is that they're too small for me.  I followed a pattern on a free flyer exactly (60sts on US2 needles) and my gauge didn't match the pattern, so the sock circumference isn't wide enough for me.  I also overestimated the stretch that the knitting would have, and the feet are a little short.

My own personal favorite, though, is the botched toe.  It's tough to see here, but the kitchener stitch is done on the wrong side.  See, when I started knitting these, the knitting fell so that I was knitting the socks inside out.  I had no idea that you weren't supposed to knit socks inside out, so when I reached the directions for kitchener stitch, I followed them exactly.  Et voila, an inside-out kitchener.  I love it.  Of all the things that could possibly go wrong in a pair of socks, it was the kitchener stitch that got me.


RIP: Cardilero

I feel kind of bad frogging this guy.  He's from the book Warm Knits, Cool Gifts and I started him the Fall of my last year at college.  He's not a hard knit, and he's really pretty charming, but I made several poor decisions when I started him.

First is the yarn.  I like this yarn all right, it's Stitch Nation Bamboo Ewe and I got it on clearance for $2.99 a skein.  Which means I bought everything left. Which means I have a bunch of this yarn, and I just needed to find projects to use it for.  So I used this yarn out of obligation (minus one point).  It's also not a good color for me.  It's very flat.  Usually in garments I prefer more depth, either some heathering or variegation in the color.  This yarn has neither, and the color itself is too sharp on me (minus two points). 

It's been so long since I've cast this on that I don't love knitting it anymore.  I'm a firm believer that you should love and enjoy what you knit (unless you're knitting it for someone you love, in which case the recipient should love what you're knitting, and you should suck it up until it's done).  Not only am I not enjoying this knit, but I know I won't wear it enough to make the knitting worthwhile.  I love the idea of the garment, and I think the shape would work well in my wardrobe, so I'm hoping that someday I'll knit something similar to this in a better choice of yarn.  I feel bad ripping this out after having it on the needles for so long, but ultimately I know it's the right choice.

WIP: Firmaments


I started this shawl my junior year in college, but forgot the plain knit rounds in between every pattern round.  Disappointed in myself, I frogged it and then let it languish for a few months.  Then I cast on again, and I've worked on it intermittently since then. 

This shawl is slow going.  Now I'm at the final chart before the edge, so every round is 576 stitches.  So not only does every pattern repeat take 5,184 stitches, but since the whole shawl is scrunched up on a circular needle, progress shots don't really show a whole lot of progress.  (Translated: This looks exactly the same as it did 9,000 stitches ago.  So I've had to get a little creative while photographing it.  For my own sanity.)

There's a crazy part of me that thinks it's reasonable to try to get this done by Easter.  Which is totally doable.  There's only, like, 44,339 stitches left.  So, no problem there.  (That's a lie.  There's a bit of a problem there, in the fact that that's a buttload of stitches, and I have my day job to consider, and I have design projects to work on, and I still can't knit in my sleep but I know I'm getting close to that point,)  Worst of all, progress photos are usually my motivation, and all of my pictures of this look the same as they did two weeks ago.

But at least I have a cute gnome. (His name is Rosencrantz.  I got him at a charity sale last Xmas for $1.)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

FO: Watermelon Socks

Two fruity, woolly, bundles of fun.

These socks went everywhere:

I can't remember the last time I had this much fun knitting a pair of socks. They were by far the most popular bar/choir knitting I've had in a long time.  I love how bright and clean the colors are.

I usually don't bother cutting my yarn so that self striping socks match, because I really don't care that much.  But I did try to start the second sock at the same point in the yarn as the first, since these are for someone else.  And if I only knit one pair of perfectly matched striped socks in my life, at least they're watermelons.  I ended up being off by about half a round or so, I think, which is pretty darn good.

Hopefully their recipient is as charmed by them as I am!

Pattern: Sock Recipe, by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
Needles: US2 Boye DPNs

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Stash Love: Jade Sapphire Mongolian Cashmere

I love this stuff.  This is deep stash; it's almost as deep as you can go.  There is yarn even older than this, but this stuff comes from my very first year of knitting.  I've held onto it for years because I didn't feel worthy of knitting it, and I was terrified of ruining it.

I originally had intended to use it to make Haruni, by Emily Ross, which is a pattern I fell in love with the second I saw it.  But that pattern really does look best in a solid or only slightly variegated yarn, which this definitely is not.  Given how nice this yarn is, I didn't want to waste it on the wrong pattern.  So back into Deep Stash it went.

Then came along Holly Priestley's Mottled Daydream.   It's everything I wanted for this yarn: plain enough that the yarn won't distract from the pattern and vice versa, and it's just a touch more interesting than a regular triangle shawl. 

The Watermelon Socks are getting close to done, which means the Ball Winder will be here soon, and this is the first thing I'm going to wind and cast on.  I've been holding onto this yarn for long enough.  It's time has come.

Stash Love: Jitterbug

I've been bitten by the bug.

Colinette Jitterbug was one of my first yarn crushes.  What's not to love?  It has absolutely gorgeous color, it's bouncy and squishy, and it's sock yarn, so it doesn't actually count as stash.  (Edit: according to my mother, sock yarn definitely counts as stash and perhaps I need to knit from the stash more and feed the stash less.)

I went through a period of about three years where I couldn't go into my favorite yarn store without buying at least on skein of this stuff.  The only reason I can refrain now is that I have a handy mini stash of the stuff in my room and a really tight yarn budget.

Just look at that.  Look at how the colors work together.  The colors were what sold me on this yarn initially, and I had already amassed several skeins before I actually knit one up.  That's when I found out how squishy and bouncy it is.  I fell hard, and I fell fast.

Transitions Sleeves: The Backstory

As promised, here is the story behind my first pattern.  I knit my first pair of these in March of 2012 for Anemone's birthday.  I knew I wanted to make her a pair of arm warmers, and I knew that I wanted them to go over her elbows, and I knew that I wanted them to be done in fingering-weight yarn.  I checked around on Ravelry, but at the time the only patterns were for shorter wrist warmers or for worsted-weight elbow-length arm warmers.  So I decided to design a pair.

I had the intention of making this pattern available, so I kept pretty good notes as I went along.  I knew I wanted the arm warmers to fit the natural curve of the arm, so doing regularly placed increases wouldn't work.  I think that spacing the increases out a bit more at the beginning, then increasing when you hit the major arm muscles worked out well.

I started my own pair of the arm warmers when I was still working on Anemone's.  This pair ended up languishing for a while, moving back home with me after college, and finally sitting forgotten on a bookshelf for several months.  In the meantime, I knit my friend a pair that April as part of a mini-swap we did.

And then I forgot about them.  Well, I didn't so much as forget as I just never got around to it.  And for a long time I was unsure if I wanted to pursue designing.  Over the past couple months I've been working a lot on different ideas, and I decided that designing was a passion for me, and it is something that I want to do more of.  Making this pattern public was sort of my way of making all this real for me.

As promised, this is one of my favorite shots from our photo shoot last weekend.  I wish I had been able to use this photo in the actual pattern, but the lighting was terrible, and I don't have the capabilities to improve it beyond the magic of Instagram filters. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Free Pattern: Transitions Sleeves

My very first pattern, Transitions Sleeves, is now available as a Free Ravelry Download. I am beyond thrilled to share this pattern with you, and I'm so excited to take this first step in pattern designing.

I hope you all enjoy it, and I look forward to getting feedback.  Writing this pattern has been a real learning experience, and has involved many months stumbling around and trying to figure everything out.  Later this week I'll get another post out about the back story to this pattern, along with some behind-the-scenes pictures from our photo shoot!

Yarn: the red sleeves are Knit Picks Stroll Sock and the striped sleeves are Misti Alpaca Hand Paint Sock, and you can substitute any fingering-weight yarn
Needles: US3/3.25mm DPNs or circular for magic loop
Gauge: 8sts and 10 rows/inch

Sunday, March 9, 2014

FO: Top Sekrit Reveal

Happy Birthday Anemone!

My sister is pretty awesome.  She's smart as a whip and wildly entertaining.  (She also happens to like almost all of my Instagram photos, including the really silly ones.  That counts for a lot in my book.)

Anyway, she's pretty cool, and she loves knitted stuff almost as much as I love knitting stuff.  This year, her stuff was an Amy Christoffers cardigan.  Division, to be exact.  I love this pattern so much; I have a yellow Division that I made for myself my final semester in college that I wear almost constantly.  

I adore these buttons.  They're JHB Coco Primitive, and I almost didn't want to give them away.  Anemone thinks they're pretty snazzy too.

Happy Birthday to one of the best people I know, and the best sister I could ever ask for.

Pattern: Division by Amy Christoffers
Needles: US6 Bamboo Circulars
Yarn: Knitpicks Stroll in Jackrabbit Heather, 1617 yds.
Modifications: 6 buttons instead of 8, shortened armholes to 7" instead of 7.5"

Monday, March 3, 2014

WIP: Watermelon Socks

I was at a local Fiber Arts Camp/Retreat a few weeks ago and made several new friends.  One woman and I set up a sort of mini-swap just between us two.  See, she doesn't knit socks, but she had this fabulous yarn:

It's from Abi Grasso's Etsy and it is magical.

After some discussion, we decided that she would get this yarn to me and I would knit it into beautiful socks.  When I'm done, I'll send them back to her and she will send me a ball winder.  (It's a bit of an unconventional swap.  But I really want a ball winder, she has an extra one, and I love knitting socks. Everybody wins.)

This yarn is so much fun to knit up.  The first sock has been a real hit around town:

I've been working on a Top Sekrit knitting project that you'll get to see here really soon, so my relationship with these socks hasn't been entirely monogamous.  I've got about half the foot left on Sock #1, but the Top Sekrit will be done soon, and I'll churn these bad boys out in a couple of nights at the bar and in church.  Then the magic ball winder will be mine, and I'll be able to wind ALL the yarn!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Meet the Wayward Knitter

Well this is something new.

I've had a couple of different blogs in the past, but never for more than a few months at a time.  I've been lurking around the online knitting community long enough that I feel ready to jump in and become a more active participant.

I taught myself to knit my sophomore year of college almost on a whim.  I bought my first knitting book (The Chicks with Sticks Guide to Knitting) when I ordered my spring textbooks, knit two dishcloths, and then started on a pair of socks.  I like to describe myself as a "knit first, ask questions later" kind of knitter.  I'll try anything at least once, and I love learning new techniques. 

So this is me, putting myself out here, ready to meet new people and talk about knitting!