Tag Archives: knitting

When I have time

When I have time to knit, these days, little things are often best. Finishing something up quickly feels like progress even when it really was just a couple of rows per evening.

The toddler socks were finished at knitting camp this summer.

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I ended up using leftovers from three different skeins of yarn. Once again I’m left thinking there’s no good way to keep socks on this child’s feet. These are not too tight in the leg, the instep (which I knit higher than usual) or the foot. Yet somehow they slip down any time she’s wearing them. She has very chunky feet, I might just have to wait a few years…

As if those weren’t speedy enough, I knit a coffee cup cozy next.

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And I’m wondering what would happen if EVERYONE got one for Christmas this year. So quick, and so satisfying.

Meet Meristem

My latest pattern was published yesterday in the 7th anniversary edition of Twist Collective. Meristem is a tunic length vest designed with casual elegance in mind. It is a simple, cozy garment perfect for the transition to autumnal weather. The front yoke features a slipped branching cable pattern. You can favorite and queue Meristem on Ravelry. You can also see more pattern details, over at Twist Collective.


(thanks to Crissy Jarvis for the lovely photos!)

The yoke of the vest is knit sideways, with stitches picked up along the bottom edges and knit down for the body. The cables look simple enough, but I went through more than a few swatches to get them figured out! The cable over garter stitch looked so good in my submission swatch, I was sure that with the stitch definition of Valley DK it’d be a breeze. But once I had the yarn in hand I couldn’t get the cables to stand out the way I expected in my first swatch. So I tried twisted stitches (looked lumpy). I slipped the cables on the WS rows (too elongated). I was preparing myself for an awkward email to the editor saying the chosen yarn wouldn’t work – then I tried one more thing. I blocked my swatches.

And you know what? That made the initial swatch (from my very first try) look gorgeous. Lesson relearned yet again. Always block your swatch.

Like many (most) knitters out there I remember when the first issue of Twist was unveiled. I remember because there was nothing else like it at the time. And it was gorgeous. I’ve been lucky to work with Twist on several other occasions (Verbena, Trefoil, and Cambridge Cables) and every time I have loved the experience.

The Twist Collective team includes wonderful photographers, brilliant technical editors, and people behind the scenes making all those pretty PDFs and magazine pages. I hope you’ll take a moment to click through a few ads and support the people who support Twist. And of course please buy a pattern or two ;-)

in progress

I’ve been at a conference all week. It’s wreaking havoc with my schedule, but I have gotten a lot of knitting done:

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That’s an almost complete pair of toddler socks. An almost complete boot topper design. And an almost complete toddler sweater. Notice the “almost complete” everything needs ends woven in and a good round of blocking. The toddler sweater still needs one quarter more cable edging knit. I love cables and I’m still so done with this edging…

The socks are just scrappy little things that have been my glove-box project for months now. They’ve actually been in progress so long that her feet grew. I made the second one with a longer foot than the first, then ripped out the toe on the original and made it to match.

The boot toppers are a quick knit using up some leftover Fleece Artist BFL that I adore. This pattern will (with any luck) be out in the fall. I need some photography. And some layout time. Oh yeah, right, that…

And the sweater is Camden. Poor, long neglected Camden is almost done! Pretty sure I’m knitting the 2T size – and also pretty sure it’s bigger than all the 2T clothes she owns so far. It’ll actually be perfect for growing into this winter.

Winnie’s Vest

After a bit of an unexpected hiatus I’m super-excited to share Winnie’s Vest with you all!

winnie hood

The pattern is available in sizes ranging from newborn to childs’ size 8! Windsor is wearing the 12 month size in these photos, but she’s still wearing the vest now, at 21 months. Vests are a versatile children’s garment.

You can find the pattern details and yarn requirements on ravelry. The PDF is available there, or right here:

winnie preview

This vest is knit up in knitpicks wool of the andes – the superwash version. I don’t often work with superwash, but I bought this yarn specifically to make this vest and I have to say it’s pretty amazing stuff. She wore this vest all winter long, still wears it on cool summer days, and it still looks pretty much brand new. Well, it would if I blocked it once in awhile… But what I’m trying to say is the fabric hasn’t pilled at all, and holding up to the rough and tumble play of a toddler is EXACTLY what I needed from this yarn.

winnie back

Seriously, I don’t mind handwashing her stuff, but when it wears out unexpectedly fast I get sad…

What can I say about this vest? I started the project almost a year ago, back in August. Windsor was still just a crawling baby then and I wasn’t getting a lot of knitting time. It went into hibernation a couple of times and I finally finished it in December but didn’t want her to wear it until we’d had our photo shoot. Which didn’t happen until February. But after that she loved it, she’d actually dig it out of her bin of clothes and ask to wear the “sweawer” (that’s toddler-speak for sweater).

Winnie hero

wee Cria

I finish my little cotton wee cria!

cotton sweater hero

This is and adorable sweater with just a hint of twee. I went with some colorful, fun buttons to contrast with the natural cotton and silver garter stitch, and I think they make the project pop, like fancy icing on an adorable little cupcake.

cotton sweater closeup

The pattern is a fun, smartly designed sweater with no seaming and very intriguing construction. In spite of being a simple looking little sweater this design is fun to knit – all without being too challenging*

cotton sweater unbuttoned

I do want to revisit the SilverSpun cotton yarn I reviewed last month. Now that I’ve finished the design I specifically wanted to address the issue of shrinkage. The good folks at SilverSpun are very up front about the fact that cotton shrinks. And if you know anything about fibers (or wear cotton clothing at all) you shouldn’t really be surprised. But it does take a few adjustments.

They recommend swatching before you begin knitting, and washing your swatch as you plan to wash your final garment. This is 100% the right answer and the correct thing to do.

It’s also NOT what I did. But then I like to live dangerously. (Hey, if I ruin a sweater, it’s still good blog content, right?) I swatched and was getting slightly fewer stitches to the inch then the gauge recommended. I figured that would help with the shrinkage. But since cotton shrinks more in length than width I also took the precaution of knitting the “knit even” parts of this pattern for a couple of extra rows.

cotton sweater folded

The finished baby sweater before blocking measured 8.5 inches from shoulder to hem and 9.5 inches across at the bottom hem (so 19″ circumference, I’m just measuring straight across because I’m lazy). Now I plan on giving this adorable tiny baby sweater to the mom of an impending adorable tiny human. And new moms aren’t really interested in hand-wash garments. So I figured I’d better put this sweater through the wringer. Well, not literally, because no one uses those for washing clothes anymore. But I did put it through the washing machine and dryer using my normal laundry settings. Once out it was pretty crumpled so I did a gentle steam blocking** to help it lay flat. After all that it measures 7.5 inches from shoulder to hem and 8.5 inches across.

So yeah, it shrinks. But it’s shrinking very predictably. And the yarn is still very stretchy, I have no doubt that it’d make lovely socks. They wouldn’t get lazy and slouchy at all. And if you knit them just a touch long that would account for any actual shrinkage. If that seems like a lot of planning keep in mind I could name 2 or 3 superwash wool sock yarns with the same problem…

*If I want a challenge I’ll start one of the bajillions of designs I want to actually knit someday…
**in other words, I ironed it folded between two towels. Cotton does like being ironed!

More Snippets

I like to keep in touch with my designs once they’ve been released, each takes on a life of it’s own and I love to see how knitters interpret the pattern with their own yarn, ideas, and modifications.

My Snippet Scarf has really taken off (in spite of being a very simple pattern) And this is why I chose it as the first pattern to be re-released in my new layout!

Snippet preview

It’s a free download, so please check it out. All my forthcoming indie designs will use this layout. And as I have time I might go back and reformat some of the old ones (you know how much “free time” I have these days.)

I should not be surprised it’s such a favorite for so many knitters. I knew it was an addictive pattern because I knit two of them – and I rarely ever re-knit a pattern! Some lovely knitters out there have far surpassed me, knitting 4, 6, or more of these cozy scrap-busters. I wanted to take a chance to show you a few:

This is Lori’s 5th snippet scarf – her Scraps o’ yarn #5 project on Ravelry. She made it a bit shorter than the pattern calls for, because variety is good.

Ibeckste's scarf

TJ actually knit this scarf first, then found my pattern – but I don’t mind. Her gorgeously coordinated yarns came in a scrap bag. Which is a great way to knit up this scarf without having to worry about colors and fiber types.

TJ's scarf

Finally Laura knit her Tropical Punch scarf out of handspun! I love handspun yarns, they’re such a special treat to work with.

Laura's scarf

The simple garter stitch and loooong rows in Snippet mean that it handles colorful handspun yarn or those brightly multicolored yarns easily. No pooling and the colors blend happily. I used my very first handspun – all knobby, over twisted, and uneven – in my first Snippet scarf. I think this design would also be perfect to feature those more unique handspun yarns with beehives, slubs, and even art yarns with flowers or googly eyes spun into them…

What would your Snippet look like?

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Silverspun yarn

I got a skein of SilverSpun yarn from the Feel Good Yarn Company a couple of weeks ago. I love the concept behind this company – yarn sustainably made and spun here in the US. Sounds like my kind of thing, right? Well there’s a twist* This is a cotton yarn, no wool at all.

feel good baby sweater

And you know me, I love my wool. So I wasn’t sure if I wanted to try this yarn. But they said the yarn is like wool. Bouncy, but not too stretchy, cushy, and with the silver it’s supposed to be a bit antimicrobial too. So I figured I’d give it a test drive.

The people behind SilverSpun actually recommend this for socks. But since I don’t knit a lot of socks these days I decided to knit up a Wee Cria. This brilliant little sweater is designed by Ysolda, and she highly recommends a yarn with the bounce of a wool. Seems like a good test, right?

feel good baby yoke

So what do I think? So far I’m very impressed! In the skein this yarn feels like Green Mountain Spinnary’s Cotton comfort – an 80% wool 20% cotton blend. I hand-wound it into a ball. In the ball it does feel a bit dense, more like a cotton yarn. But once knit up it’s back to cushy and soft.

The yarn handles the modular construction of this wee sweater very well. The garter stitch doesn’t seem to stretch out of shape, and the button holes don’t seem to gape or grow. The yarn is a bit splitty as you knit with it, but not to the point where it slows down my knitting. I just have to pay attention when doing something like picking up stitches along the edge.

feel good baby WIP

I tried to unwind the yarn to see how many plies it contained, and it doesn’t unwind like a stranded yarn. This made me think maybe it was chain plied? But as I picked at it more that didn’t make sense either. I have to admit I don’t actually know exactly what the construction here is. I think it may be either chain plied or two strands twisted – but in either case they’re bound together with a silver thread.

feel good yarn

One thing this yarn isn’t? It’s not that weirdly bouncy cotton yarn that is so stretchy you can’t see the stitches once you’ve knit with it (no offense Cascade Fixation, but I have two skeins of that upstairs that I don’t know how to knit with…)

I would definitely recommend this yarn if you’re looking for the bounce of wool, but don’t want to use wool. Whether for allergies, or for ease of care, or if you’re just knitting something for the summer and want a light, non-wool option. SilverSpun is a great choice. I haven’t quite finished this little sweater yet (it’s a gift for a friend) but I’ll let you know how it turns out.

*haha, a yarn with twist, get it?

(Please note that I did receive this skein free for review purposes. However my opinions are my own, I won’t review something I don’t truly enjoy and think that you will like.)

On the needles

I’ve started sneaking knitting back into the little corners of my life again. It’s a sign that I’m not quite as exhausted as I was when Windsor was tiny. And it means I’m back to my old habits of having multiple WIPs each for a different situation.

The travel sock.

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Its native habitat is the cup holder of my car. I work on this any time Neil drives or if I’m just sitting and waiting for Windsor to wake up from a car nap. It’s also available any time I go out, and find myself waiting unexpectedly without a project at hand. This particular sock is even more travel sized than usual because it’s a tiny toddler sock. Not sure if I’m following the Breamish heel again or trying a short row heel this time.

Next the meeting sweater.

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Its native habitat is my desk drawer at work. The stripes were perfect for knitting during monthly meetings. The cable trim is going ok. Or it was until I started the trim on the body without remembering I needed to knit the hood first. Order of operations is a classic mistake for meeting knitting. The pattern is Camden and I’m very glad I chose to start the 24 month size when I started back in December.

Finally the bedtime blanket.

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Its native habitat is lurking under the corner table by the couch. This mitered sock yarn blanket is perfect for finishing a mindless square or two after all my evening tasks are complete and before my own bedtime. Long (long, loooong) term readers of this blog might recognized this project. It has been in and out of hibernation more times than I can count. Cast on in 2009, this blanket turned SIX this month. My WIP is a kindergartner and it’s no where close to being done yet. At this rate it’ll make a nice retirement present for Neil (note: he graduates from grad school in May.)

Those are my three main projects, at least for now.
What is your project for the “in between” moments right now?
And do you have a WIP even older than my sock yarn blanket??

Defarge Does Shakespeare

Fun times all around, there’s a new book in the Madame Defarge series! Check out Defarge Does Shakespeare! It’s on the Defarge site, on Cooperative Press, on Ravelry – pick your favorite.

Heather Ordover is back with this third collection from new and returning fabulous designers. And this isn’t the end either, I know there are more Defarge books in the works. If you like this sort of thing you should sign up for her e-mail newsletter. You should also sign up because later today three readers will be winning copies of Defarge books (and some other cool prizes)

Let’s take a peak, shall we? Maybe it’s how knitters interpret Shakespeare (or maybe it’s just that April is around the corner) but I’m finding this collection to be delightfully spring-like. I mean, start with the Fairy Queen Tea Cozy:

Ok, that’s clearly spring. And good for early spring too, because on cold rainy days I do like to curl up with a hot mug of tea and a book (or a mug of lukewarm tea an a toddler – but a mom can dream)

But the Lady M sweater is also a perfect transitional season garment. There’s lovely lace in the yoke and you don’t have to think about the drops of blood in the pattern description unless that makes you feel sly and sneaky and literary all at once:

How about the Midsummer’s Eve Wrap? I SO WISH I had time to knit a giant panel of lace. Something squishy to curl up with on the couch after bedtime… Maybe I should cast on now, it’ll only take a couple of years at the rate I’m knitting right now.

And to wrap things up the Taming of the Shrug! Not only does it have a very entertaining name, but it really is gorgeous.

I am not a shrug person because if I try to wear them my back feels cold and drafty. But I can totally see myself wearing this gorgeous piece of lace. I’d probably end up keeping it at the office to wrap up in when the AC gets too cold in the summer.

What is your favorite Defarge pattern?

I feel like I need to say, I did not get anything free for this review. However I am a Defarge designer. You might remember my Iseult Dress pattern is in the second volume, What else Would Madame Defarge Knit? So I am affiliated, and proud to be a Cooperative Press cooperating author!

A little FO

Here’s the first of two recent finished baby items. I’ve got 4 more friends and family due in the next couple of months which means more tiny newborn knitting!

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This is from the Tiny Trees baby vest. I guesstimated gauge instead of swatching so this is more of a 3-6 month vest. But for an April baby I hope that means it’ll fit come autumn.

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I knit it out of Patons classic wool DK – it’s a great workhorse yarn that I’ve never tried before. I tend to avoid superwash wools for myself, so it is fun to explore this whole new category of yarn as I knit things for future moms. The whole project only took about two days. I never get to knit that much in two days, but I made this while on retreat back in February. I might be a little behind with the photos…