Tuesday, December 29, 2009


I have found it! My sweater pattern! I’ve been on the hunt for the last several months to find a sweater pattern to make for myself. I had some pretty specific ideas for what I wanted, so the search took me quite a while. I knew I wanted some cables, but not allover cables. I knew I wanted it to be somewhat close fitting. I was also hoping for some kind of unique construction.

And here it is!

Rib and Cable Cardigan from Vogue Knitting Fall 2009

And with the help of some Christmas cash, I picked up the yarn yesterday and cast on. I debated on the color for quite a while. In fact, I even bought two different colors and brought them both home with me. The contenders were either a creamy, off-white neutral color that I could pair with a brighter tank top or a brilliant, rich teal that I would wear with a lighter tank underneath.

After a little bit of waffling, I decided to “live a little” and cast on with the teal. It’s going great so far!

And I haven’t touched my sock darning project.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Sock Emergency

Sitting at work today I randomly took a moment to admire my handknit socks. I like to wear handknit socks on Mondays, because everyone needs a little reason to smile on a Monday. Well, as I took a look at my sock, I noticed a reason to quit smiling. There was a hole in the heel of my sock!

The first thing I did was check the other sock. It was wearing thin too! Not a hole yet, but it was headed in that direction.

So I removed the socks to prevent the holes from getting any worse, and started looking up tips for darning socks. I learned that there is definitely hope. First of all, the yarn was a wool and nylon blend, so even in the area where the wool has totally worn away, there is still a tiny nylon thread holding together the framework of the sock. My first plan of attack is to duplicate stitch across that hole, following the nylon thread. Fortunately, I have plenty of leftover yarn. Let’s hope that I can make that work, and I won’t have to resort to more drastic measures.

I’m currently speculating that the combination of the pattern and my shoes are to blame. The socks are only 5 months old, so I wasn’t expecting to repair them so soon. The pattern is Eunice from Sock Innovation. One unique aspect of this pattern is that the cabled design is carried down onto the heel flap of the sock. This sure looks pretty, but it does replace the notoriously sturdy slip-stitch heel flap. The hole is also placed right at the point where the top rim of my ballet flats hits my socks, so that is an area prone to abuse.

I probably won’t get the chance to repair these until after Christmas. I’ll have to post an update later.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hooray for Progress

This might be my most productive Finish-a thon ever! And I'm not quite ready to give up yet.

I finished my sister's birthday present. They were a pair of really cute socks using self-striping JoAnn Sensations Bamboo & Ewe yarn. I initially bought this yarn because it was on-sale, I liked the colors, and it was machine washable. I try not to gift items that have to be handwashed (cuz I know my family wouldn't appreciate that). Well, as I worked on the socks, I realized that it feels really nice too. So I promptly went out to buy enough of the yarn for 4 more pairs of socks. I gave her the socks over Thanksgiving break, which is a little early for her birthday (Dec 4th), but we were both home and her feet were cold. :)

I also finished my Mom's Christmas present. I started this project several months ago when I made these grand plans to knit a bunch of Christmas gifts. It's nice to know that it's finished now.

And yesterday, I finished my Glynis socks! I was stuck at home surrounded by 4-foot snowdrifts as far as the eye could see. So I had plenty of time to curl up on the couch and knit. It's a big relief to have these done. This may have been my most frustrating project ever. I didn't really care for the effort required to make the lace pattern. But the finished socks were WONDERFUL! I made up my mind that I was just going to tough it out, and now that they're done, I'm glad I did.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Time for a Finish-a-thon

As I may have mentioned a few times, I knit a lot of things at once. Well... what actually happens is that I'm easily distracted. I get the urge to start something new, and then I toss aside current projects and conveniently forget about them. When I actually look at all of my unfinished knitting, it's a little overwhelming. I liked all of these things well enough to start them, and I'd like to have them all finished, but the thought of actually doing the work to finish them is scary.

But as I said, I want them to be finished, so I'm going to try to make some progress. Here are some of my more pressing projects.

1 - My sister's birthday present (more details after I actually gift it)
2 - My mom's Christmas present (again, details later)
3 - Glynis socks (I have one finished, just need to make the second)

And here are some of them that I'd like to finish, but I'm in less of a hurry.

4 - Random Lavender Baby Blanket - I started this one because the pattern is really pretty, but I don't actually have a specific baby in mind to receive it.
5 - Rugged Vest - I'm kinda sad about this one. It's coming out too small for Greg, and I really need to just rip the whole thing out and start over.
6 - Ripple Sweater Vest - This is a crochet project that fell victim to my new knitting obsession. But it's still a really cute vest.
7 - Flirty Skirt - Another fit issue. This was coming out too small, so I ripped it out and restarted it a while ago. It's too "spring-y" to wear anytime soon, but I'd like to finish it before next summer.

So, now for the finish-a-thon rules:
I can work on any of the above listed projects.
I cannot start new projects. (Lone exception: If I have an uncontrollable urge to start something new, I'll make an ornament from the Knit Picks Kit.)

I shall continue with this effort until I get totally sick of it. I can't promise that I'll finish them all, but any progress is a good thing.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Itty Bitty Knitting

My Knit Picks ornament kit is here! Yay! For anyone who hasn't seen it yet, here's a link:
So the moment I got home with my kit, I sat down to knit this:
Isn't it adorable? It's a little scarf!
I shall now proceed to set aside all of my current knitting projects (and non-knitting projects), while I happily knit some cute, little, instantly gratifying holiday ornaments! (Socks? Homework? Accordion Effect? What are you talking about?)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Accordion Effect

Ah, yes. The dreaded accordion effect. To those of you who aren't racing fans (or don't have husbands who are racing fans) I shall explain. The accordion effect usually happens when a race car driver suddenly slows down more than the driver behind him or her was expecting. This results in even more sudden braking, cars bunching up, and shredded carbon fiber. All because of one foot that landed heavily on a brake pedal.

My life has been experiencing this lately. The culprit was a single work project. I won't bore you with the details of it, but it did require some major investments of evenings and weekends on my part. As a result, I fell a little bit behind on everything in my life, and felt pretty drained. Since I was feeling drained, all I wanted to do was make myself happy, so I dedicated a whole bunch more time to knitting pretty things. So I fell even further behind with the not-so-fun things like school assignments, online training for work, housework, etc. Then before I had the chance to motivate myself to do some of those not-so-fun things, I got sick. It started as just a head cold, but it has managed to drag out into a great big pain in the tookus.

So now that I've basically recovered from the cold, I have a huge, accordion-shaped pile of stuff to do that I'm just not excited about doing. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Blocking Red Hot Mountain

As promised, I have pictures of the stole! Here it is before blocking. You can still see the pattern, but the edging is completely hidden because the sides curl in. It's about 13 inches wide and 57 inches long.

And here it is blocking. Now you can really see what the pattern looks like, including the edging. With it all stretched out on my blocking board its about 22 inches wide and 63 inches long. That's smaller than the pattern (26" x 72"), but it just wouldn't stretch any further. I'm still satisfied with the size though.

Now I just have wait patiently for it to dry before I can really see the final result.

Off the Needles

I haven't posted in a while, because I've been really busy with work, and I just wanted to spend my precious little free time knitting. But now I've got big news - I officially knit the last of my 54,450 stitches for my lace stole last night. I still need to block it, but it already looks gorgeous. And it's feels really great too. It's so soft, light, and warm.

I'm planning to block it tonight. I promise there will be pictures.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Yarn Harvest

I'm continuing to make progress on my stole, but I'm about to reach a bump in the road. I've almost used up the sleeves from my recycled cashmere sweater. When I bought the sweater from Goodwill, it wasn't necessarily an unattractive sweater. It was a red, 100% cashmere, long-sleeved turtleneck with a subtle cable pattern. It was a little bit too big for me, and I wanted the yarn more than I wanted the sweater, so it was destined to be recycled. But I decided to use up the sleeves first, so that if I didn't need the rest of it for yarn, then I could take it in a bit and I'd have a red, 100% cashmere, sleeveless turtleneck with a subtle cable pattern that actually fit me. Plus I'd have my lace stole.

Just a few days ago, I realized that there was no way that the sleeves alone would be enough yarn. Well actually, I've suspected that for while, but I just recently admitted that to myself. So yesterday I frogged the turtleneck, washed the yarn, and hung it up to dry. It will take a few days to dry, so I might run out of what I have before then. Hopefully I won't have too much downtime.

Then I have to decide what I'll do with the rest of the sweater. I probably won't try to salvage it as a garment now that the turtleneck is gone. I could unravel the rest of it, but I won't want to knit anything else with it. No matter how gorgeous the yarn is, after 54,450 stitches you would be tired of it too! I could make some throw pillows with the leftover pieces (good idea SJ!) or maybe I'll stash bust the yarn and watch people fight over it. That could be rather amusing...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Lace Stole Update

Well, it's been a few weeks since I posted about the deadline for my lace stole. I'm past the halfway point (yay!) but it's been just a little neglected lately. I was making really good progress for a while, and I was more than a week ahead of schedule. But then I realized that I was almost done with my vest, so I set the stole aside to concentrate on the vest. You would think that after I finished my vest, I'd go back to the stole, right? Wrong. Finishing a project is the ultimate excuse to start a new project. So I cast on another project. No details here, it's another gift.

Then I noticed that the buffer in my stole schedule was totally gone. I wasn't behind schedule yet, but I needed to go back to knitting at least 9 rows per day if I was going to finish in time to wear it to Wicked this fall. So I'm knitting the stole again. And I'm remembering how much I love the stole. And I'm determined to finish it in time!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Eek! Steeks!

Since every steeking post has to have a scary scissors photo, I’ll get that out of the way now.

Those of you who aren’t familiar with steeking might be thinking that I must have become really angry with my sweater vest. It’s actually quite the opposite; I really love this sweater vest! And this is exactly the fate that the designer had in mind. First you spend countless hours knitting a garment, and then you cut it up!

Before steeking my vest, this is what it looked like. This bizarre lumpy-looking tube certainly doesn’t look like a garment (at least not for a human being, anyway). But there are advantages to knitting things this way. First, you knit the garment entirely in the round, so you can create a stockinette piece using just the knit stitch. I don’t have anything against purling, but when all of the stitches are knits, it’s easier to keep your stitches uniform and your knitting goes a bit quicker. Second, you are always looking at the right side of your garment. This is really helpful for colorwork projects where you spend a lot of time “reading” your knitting.

So to steek a garment, you reinforce the stitches somehow (to prevent unraveling) and then you cut through waste stitches to create things like v-necks and armholes. And then it looks like this!

I’m too lazy to give you a more detailed tutorial on steeking, so I’ll refer you to Eunny Jang’s excellent tutorial instead. If you still think the vest looks strange, keep in mind that it’s a Deep V-Neck. The neckline is supposed to come down below the bust line, with the vest worn over a button-down shirt.

I did the crocheted steeks just like Eunny recommends in the pattern. I used a “grabby” yarn and I think the crocheted steeks looked pretty solid. I cut all of the steeks and I didn’t see any signs that they would unravel. But they still made me nervous, so I reinforced them with my sewing machine. Depending on how gung-ho I get with my finishing, I might sew them again closer to the garment and cut out some of the excess material from the steeks.

Now I just need to add some ribbing to the armholes and neckline and weave in some ends, then you’ll get to see the finished product.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Knitting with a Deadline

This isn't the first time that I've done this to myself, and it probably won't be the last. I've given myself a deadline to finish a knitting project. Deadlines can do strange things for me. Either they really motivate me to work hard and finish on time, or they pressure me into feeling like I'm tied to one project, which makes me want to knit anything but the project that I'm supposed to be working on. In this instance, I really hope that it's the former.

I started working on my Red Hot Mountain Stole in July. It was my first real lace project, so I was nervous and excited to see how it would turn out. Then my husband and I got tickets to see Wicked when the tour comes to our city. We'll be seeing it in October, so an elegant lace stole is exactly what I'll need to pair with a little black dress for our evening out. Since I'd already started Red Hot Mountain, it seemed logical to try to finish it in time for the show.

So I figured out exactly how many rows I'd need to knit for the stole. (550!) Then I counted how many I had already knit (I think it was about 38...). So I counted days and gave myself a little buffer for blocking and determined that I needed to average 9 rows per day in order to finish the stole before the show. It's going to be challenging, but I should be able to do it.

So far I'm doing pretty well. I'm ahead of schedule by about 4 days. If I can keep that up, then I shouldn't have any trouble meeting my deadline. Here's my updated progress:

Word of caution - There is a downside to calculating the number of rows you should average in order to finish by a deadline. Once you know how many rows are in the project (550), and you know how many stitches are in each row (99), it's hard to resist the temptation to calculate the number of stitches in the project (54,450!!). And trust me, you're better off not knowing.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Works in Progress

Yep, that’s plural - Works in Progress. I’m a big fan of having more than one knitting project going on at the same time. That way, I’ll always have something that will suit whatever I feel like working on. At least I tell myself that’s the reason. In actuality, I just really love to start new projects. I love to sort through patterns, pick out something that I really want to knit, and choose a yarn that will make the pattern come to life. So I often stray from whatever I’m knitting to cast on something new. And I mean often. I can’t exactly say off the top of my head how many projects are sitting around my condo in an unfinished state, but it’s quite a few.

I’m going to introduce just a few of them. These are the ones that I’m currently spending most of my time on. There are a couple more, but they’re gifts, and just in case the recipient stumbles across my blog, I’d rather keep them a surprise.

This is my Red Hot Mountain Stole:

The pattern is actually called Cold Mountain and was designed by Kieran Foley, but I’m calling it Red Hot Mountain because there is nothing cold about this color. This is my first real lace project. I’ve done a couple of “lacey” projects, but this is the first one using lace weight yarn. The yarn is 100% cashmere, and comes from a sweater that I bought at Goodwill and unraveled to reuse the yarn. I’m a huge fan of doing this, and I’ll probably talk more about it in a later post.

This is my Deep V Argyle Vest:

This fantasic pattern was written by Eunny Jang. I’ve made quite a bit of progress since taking this photo, so I really ought to take another one. This past weekend I set the steeks for the armholes. Yep, I’m steeking. For my non-knitting readers, why I are you still reading this? Haven’t I bored you to tears yet? Well, if you’re still reading, I’ll probably explain steeking in greater detail some other time. For now, let’s just say that it’s kind of a big deal. I have done steeking once before, but it was a teddy bear sweater that I knit for the sole purpose of learning to steek. This is more recycled yarn. It’s 100% wool and the sweater was entirely the off-white color to begin with. I took about half of it and dyed it with Kool-Aid to the mocha brown color that you see here. I guess I’ll have to explain the process of Kool-Aid dyeing in another post too.

And this is Glynis:

Glynis is a sock (obviously). I LOVE knitting socks. Socks are the reason that I learned to knit. My grandmother taught me to crochet a long time ago, and I picked it back up just a couple of years ago. I made some nice things and joined a knitting group where my newfound friends admired my crochet abilities. For a long time, I resisted learning to knit. I guess I felt like I was sticking up for “the underdog” by not learning to knit. But my knitting friends could make socks… And they were beautiful! They were lightweight, stretchy, colorful, and had many qualities that I could not replicate with my crochet. So I learned to knit. And now I love to knit socks.

Yes, I know, you can crochet socks, but they just aren’t the same. I’m not saying that to insult crochet. I love to crochet too. But each skill has its own strengths and weaknesses. When it comes to making socks, knitting wins.

Now this specific sock is Glynis from Cookie A’s Sock Innovation. I think it’s a fantastic book, and I’m currently challenging myself to knit every single sock from this book. This is the first sock pattern in the book, and it’s made of a beautiful yarn called Merino Sox from Sandy’s Palette. Sandy is a yarn dyer from Wisconsin who had a booth at the Iowa Sheep and Wool Festival this summer. The yarn is 100% Superwash Merino Wool and it seems to be a good match for Glynis.

So there you have it. I’ll keep you posted on my progress!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I Think Too!

Well, here is - My Blog. It seems like everyone else that I know has a blog, and lest anyone believe that my head is without thoughts, now I have a blog too. I can’t promise that anything here will be entertaining, or even the least bit interesting for most people, but here it is anyway.

I’m going to start out with a disclaimer before you read any further:

I’m going to talk about yarn, a lot. Knitting with yarn, buying yarn, dyeing yarn, even destroying perfectly good sweaters (or not-so-good sweaters) to reduce them to a squiggly pile of yarn.

Every now and then, I might talk a little bit about what is going on in my life, but knitting has become a pretty big part of my life. It’s my outlet to unwind, to create, and to challenge myself. So check back sometime if you care to hear about my yarny pursuits, or if not, don’t bother. I’ll be too busy knitting to notice anyway.