I'm joining Leslie this month, taking photos of the things around me, looking for light and inspiration in my every day.
And knitting. I am knitting.
For the first time in a long while, I have the urge to knit more than a hat or a cowl. So when the temperatures dipped into the 30's, it seemed like a sign to buy yarn. Sweaters for the girls, that's what this pile will become. Lightweight in Belize for Jane. Simple Cardigan in Iceland for Kate.
I casted on and swatched for gauge. Size 4 needles it is. Tiny, right? And slow going. But the good slow, the one that makes me sit still and work quietly, forgetting about the laundry that needs doing and the sink full of dishes for a few moments. The kind that helps me rest my exhausted mind and lets the muscle memory of knit and purl take over, creating a larger piece of fabric with each stitch. A pick up and put down easily kind of project, perfect for carting around in my purse letting me sneak a few stiches in here and there when time allows between the cooking, the cleaning, the driving that make up my day-to-day. A treat, really.
Over the years, I have been part of a craft swap group. Each person in the group chooses their own craft and makes one for each of the other swappers. We took a hiatus a couple of years back and just started swapping again this past summer/fall. When I found out that our next swap would be in the winter, I immediately knew that I wanted to knit something. I had seen the pattern for the Cullin cowl on Quince & Co.'s site. It looked like a fun, fast knit and any excuse to buy a rainbow of yarn works for me.
I started in September, carrying various cowls around town as I sat in various waiting rooms and gyms while my kids did their things. Over the course of the fall, I knitted eight cowls. And I was right about the pattern - this is a fun and fast knit. The lace pattern is simple and easy to memorize. Plus, size 10 needles and a good, chunky yarn was easy for me to manage without my tendonitis flaring up. Each cowl took a little less than one skein of Puffin so it was fairly economical as well.
Last night I plopped the pile down in front of my friends and they each chose the color they wanted. In exchange, I received a set of patchwork coasters, three stone topped bottle stoppers, an adorable fabric and paper decoupaged canvas and a cool leather cuff. Oh, and four cowls to put in the gift closet. Or maybe it'll be three for gifts and one for me, seeing that no one picked green.
Bookwise, I've just finished The Tiger's Wife and started the new Tana French book. Heather Ross Prints has been devoured by myself and Jane. I've already designed something and had Spoonflower print it on fabric. Tea towel calendar, anyone? But more on that later...
Enjoy the weekend.
(Don't forget to enter the giveaway for Knot Thread Stitch - you have until Sunday night!)
With the girls back in school the last two weeks, I have found myself needing a project to keep my hands busy while I sit at volleyball games, piano lessons and the like. I immediately wanted to pick up some knitting needles, buy new yarn and get busy. But, in a huge effort to just use what I have, I finally dug out my knitting bag yesterday.
Let me tell you, it was a hot mess. 2 unfinished sweaters, piles of needles, a bunch of papers - all jumbled up.
I haven't picked up any kind of knitting since last August when I all but completed my Sullivan. Now wait, I take that back. I did finish knitting the applied i-cord sometime in the winter or spring when I wanted the yarn for granny squares. With just two underarm seams to kitchner and all the ends to weave in, I abandoned it for the crochet hook. I know. Silly me.
I took the bag with me as I sat at the gym door collecting admissions for volleyball games. I pulled out the Sullivan (which also looked like a hot mess), borrowed a tapestry needle from a friend (yes, not a single one in the bag, and yes, lucky to have a knitter in the gym) and got to work. By the time my shift was over, it was ready for blocking.
This one is going to be a beauty. I just know it.
Next up, the unfinished blue tea leaves. Now if I could just remember what size needle I used two years ago, those sleeves would be done in no time at all. Or maybe I should go back to my Elizabeth Zimmerman fair isle number. That just needs button and buttonhole bands. Decisions, decisions.
Hey. Long time no see.
I finally got around to almost finishing my Sullivan sweater that I started back in August. I just had to three needle bind off the shoulders and knit the applied i-cord. I got just as far as necessary so I could liberate the rosewood Lark for the granny squares. This weekend, I'll get out the tapestry needle and weave in all the ends. Then it's blocking time.
Or maybe I'll just make more granny squares. I like watching the pile grow. That sounds like more fun.
Happy weekend to you.
This is The New Sweetie Pie hat from the Purl Bee. I knew as soon as I saw it that I wanted to knit one for myself, but I also had the good sense to wait until after the holiday rush to start any kind of project. While in Telluride, I popped into Needle Rock Fiberarts and bought a luscious skein of Aslan Trends Royal Alpaca and the requisite needles. I gauged that night, cast on the next day and knit until the crown decrease. At that point, it went in the suitcase for the flight home. And once here, I finished knitting it on New Year's Eve. This morning I wove the ends in and popped it on my head without blocking. I wore it on a cold, but sunny winter's walk and kept it on most of the afternoon, inside the house and out. I love it!
It had been awhile since I had any desire to knit. The last project I started is still on the needles, just waiting for me to cast off the shoulders, stitch up the arm holes and block it. Sad, I know, but true. (I also started that on a vacation...maybe there is a pattern here?) But this hat was a complete joy to knit. Not that the Sullivan sweater wasn't. This one promises almost instant gratification, it being small and all. The pattern is well written and the mini cables were super easy and very fun to make. I'd do it again. Really, I most probably will.
I don't have grand knitting goals for this year. I'll probably just cast on according to my whims. If anything, I may start another crocheted afghan. And sewing-wise, there is one quilt I definitely want to finish, my weekend sewing dress hand stitching to complete and a few household projects that are highest on my list. I'd like to draw more. I have some ideas which have been percolating for months that involve paint and fabric and sewing combined. I have a first-time interest in more serious paper crafting/scrapbooking - where that came from I'm not sure, but I'm rolling with it. But truly, what I especially love about a new year, a clean slate, an open book is that I don't know where it will take me. Most often, it's an adventure of the best kind.
I hope you'll join me.
We scooted off to a lake house for a last minute vacation. It was wonderful - cooler temps, lots of relaxation, many hours just hanging out, knitting, family bike rides, games, morning runs, movie nights. It was the perfect end to summer break. Coming home, we drove into town during a big storm, arriving at the house to tree branches across the driveway and no electricity. Two days later, the power was back on, the laundry started and lunch boxes unearthed, skirts hemmed, supplies purchased. This morning Hazel and I walked to the girls to the bus, waving to them as it drove away. And so it starts....another school year.
It was a nice break. And suprisingly good to be away from all things computer related. That said, it does feel good to be back.
Did I mention knitting?
I've almost finished my Sullivan. Really...I'm *this* close to having it off the needles. I probably logged over 40 hours of knitting in the last 12 days. I can't remember how long it's been since I've been so intent on finishing a knitting project. But I do remember why I don't knit as much as I used to - dang wrist issues. Anyhow, this has been a fun knit and I love how the Quince & Co. Lark knits up. I'm a little smitten with the color, too. A full show and tell will be coming soon.
Until then, tell me what you have been up to. I'm all ears.
As soon as the calendar said late July, I got the urge to knit.
It happens every year, just like clockwork. I spied the Sullivan cardigan over on Pinterest and then ordered two different yarns to see which I'd prefer. While I love the Shelter by Brooklyn Tweed (on the right) - it's tweedy and a beautiful color, has lots of spring - in the end, I decided to go with the Lark by Quince & Co. The color is called dogwood and it is slightest pink which will round out all the black, gray and green sweaters in my closet.
I read this article on how to talk to young girls and it really made me think. Why is it that we often start conversations with other females with something about their appearance? I know I am guilty of that from time to time myself. This approach is a much smarter one.
Habit is back this month with a great group of guests. I really missed my daily visit in July so I was super happy to see them post yesterday.
That's all for now. I'm still sewing away on the Swoon blocks. 5 down, 4 to go!
I hate lace knitting. But this pattern is so easy, I've already memorized it.
The yarn is more like string. But it's very satisfying to create something out of what seems like nothing.
This project is going to take patience. That is not one of my character strengths.
What was I thinking? The colors are so pretty.
Do you know how hard it is to take a photo of a cowl? Especially when you are too lazy to get the tripod and remote out? 22 blurry photos yesterday and 5 blurrier ones today got me this, which isn't even good. Take my word for it, if you attempt this, have someone else take the photo or suck it up and get the tripod. But I digress.
This cowl. I love it. Theresa gifted one to me as part of a swap two years ago and for the last two winters, I have worn it a ton. Normally, I wouldn't think to make myself a second one, but I have realized that having a dog is going to require me to have two of almost all warm weather accessories. Let me explain. We enter and exit our house from the garage, which is down the stairs from the kitchen and is adjacent to our mudroom. All coats get hung on hooks or in a small closet down there, shoes are left by the door and the mitts, hats, scarves, etc. have their place, too. Super convenient. When the dog and I go for our twice daily walks, we go out the front door. Not a big deal in the summer when I can throw a pair of flip flops on and off we go. But as the mornings have gotten colder, I find myself leaving a pair of shoes by the front door for dog walking. And it follows, of course, that I'll need to have other things like a second cowl at the ready, too. Right?
Believe me, I know this reasoning is a stretch. But work with me here.
I knit this up in a few hours between music lessons, waiting rooms and carpool lines. I used Cascade Baby Alpaca Chunky that I got at Purl last month. The yarn is to die for. So super soft and very light weight. It took less than one skein. I followed the pattern exactly with the exception that I knit it on a 16" size 13 needle as 24" just seemed too long. I didn't like how the increases (m1) left small holes so the next one will get a different increase (probably k9, kfb next stitch). I haven't blocked it so those holes may relax - we'll see. Regardless, it was a very satisfying and easy project. You might want to knit one.
We spent the last week in the mountains. Once the plane touched down, I had a this notion that I needed to knit something. right. away. I decided on another tea leaves because I had the pattern on my computer. But I hadn't brought any yarn or needles with me so I set out to visit the local yarn store. I had a very difficult time finding a worsted weight yarn that I liked. Get this: the ones with enough yardage were all green. Normally, I'd be doing cartwheels, but not when my other tea leaves is very green itself. In the end, I settled on this sapphire blue. It's Tupa by Mirasol Peru, color 812. It might be a little smaller than worsted and I didn't swatch for gauge. I also went down a size so in all reality, it may not work out so well. Then again, it just may.
I have a large craft book library. It's split pretty evenly between sewing books and knitting books. It seems like a whole slew of books come out each season, and just like everyone else, I need to be selective about which books end up lining my shelves.
In that vein, I have come to appreciate craft books that focus on one area - maybe a technique like reverse applique or a theme like knitting for men. The newest title in the STC Craft knitting library, Comfort Knitting and Crochet Afghans by Norah Gaughan continues this trend. Using one kind of yarn, Berroco Comfort, Gaughan and her team came up with over 50 patterns for blankets and afghans. The patterns vary in colors and technique. Want to knit a solid throw with cables? Or maybe lace is more your speed? You can find patterns that fit the bill. How about simple stripes? Squares knit individually and sewn together? Colorwork? Those are there too. Crochet is more your speed, you say? You'll find some simple patterns and some more challenging. Basically, there is something for everyone in this book.
There are so many more patterns (50+!!!) that I can't even begin to do the book justice. The directions appear to be well written and easy to follow. Additionally, the specified yarn, Berroco Comfort is machine washable and available in over ninety colors. You can truly take any of these patterns and make it just like you see them or in the colors of your choice without having to worry about gauge. I like that.
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If you'd like a chance at winning a copy of Comfort Knitting & Crochet Afghans, tell me about your favorite blanket or throw. I will pick a winner tomorrow, Friday, April 23, using the random number generator.
I'll be back tomorrow with shop news!
STC Craft sent me a copy of their newly released title, Knit Men Want, The 10 Rules Every Woman Should Know Before Knitting for a Man by Bruce Weinstein. I admit, I was intrigued. I have knit Fatty a total of three sweaters in the 16 years that I have known him. I have knit myself the same number in the last year. I'd like to even that out a bit, but it's hard to find patterns for men that appeal to both me, the knitter, and him, the wearer. This book is my answer.
Bruce does an excellent job explaining how to go about choosing knits for the men in your life. His approach is intelligent, practical and witty. The book includes 10 patterns. It doesn't sound like a lot, but the real value here is that Bruce gives you instructions and yardage requirements for six sizes and six gauges. You choose your yarn, knit your gauge swatch, measure it and then follow the instructions for that gauge. Brilliant! He also gives you guidelines for figuring out what style sweater will appeal to the man you are knitting for along with what fibers to use and how to choose a color.Color is tricky, in my opinion. It's no secret that I tend to favor green and would probably knit green garments for everyone that surrounds me. Fatty likes green enough, but when he buys clothes, he tends to choose blue first. I asked Bruce some questions about color and here is what he said:
Erin: In your book, you address the reasons men often don't wear the sweaters women knit for them. One of the reasons is bad color choices by the women knitting. Why is choosing the right color so important?
Bruce: Nature is funny. I just came back from a local organic farm, picking up some duck eggs for dinner and the turkeys chased me from my car to the barn. Not the females. Those plain, drab, and quiet birds stood back while their guys, loud, aggressive, and highly decorated with mutlicolored feathers came towards us. Us being my partner Mark, myself, and Jeff, the farmer. The three human males each dressed in either black or navy shirts and sweaters with no fuss or decoration. While in the wild, males tend to pack on the color—reds, greens, purples, yellows, and pinks, civilization has trained men to tone it down. The basic black suit, perhaps a navy pinstripe, or khaki. Sure, there are some men who'll wear pink hats and orange scarves but they are few and far between. Most men just won't put it one if it's not dark and subtle. And if I had a dollar for every time I've heard a gal say that she won't be caught dead knitting with drab dull yarn, I'd be rich. It's also amazing how many brightly colored hand knit men's garments I've seen over the years at goodwill shops and garage sales. You do the math.
Bruce: The only thing to consider is the wearer. If it's for a man in your life, and you're not sure, then go to his closet. Take inventory. Whats there? Are there half a dozen navy sweaters and sweatshirts? Great. make it seven. If all the blues are dark, you can consider another shade, like brown or green, but keep it in the same hue. If he likes navy, he might like deep cedar green.
Here's where the difference between men's and women's perspective comes into play. I actually think the dark yellow scarf and green socks are quite colorful. Maybe some women would say they are only starting to lean towards bright, but from this man's point of view, they are as far most men are willing to go. It's not that we're not adventurous, I just thing that in general, men don't like to call attention to themselves. The like to blend in. And it's in socks and scarves, which are just accents not the main event, that we're willing to go out on a limb in terms of color.
I highly recommend this book. I had Fatty take a look through it and he asked for the baseball sweater, in you guessed it, blue. I'm happy to oblige.
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STC Craft|Melanine Falick books is conducting a Knits Men Want sweepstakes. For more information of the contest and to view the great prizes, go to this post. You can learn more about this fantastic book by following Bruce's blog tour. Details on his stops can be found here.
Happy Friday to you!
Thanks for all the steeking tutorial links - I read them all, debated which way to go, and then got busy. Originally, I thought I would definitely use the sewing machine to secure the stitches because that is the way I did it long ago. After reading the different tutorials and because I was a tad concerned about shoving a handknit pullover through the machine without distorting the fabric, I got out the crochet hook. I spent over an hour last night while watching the Olympics getting the first side crocheted. I was a little worried that the crochet wouldn't hold well after cutting. But, I don't think I need to worry any longer. I had to tear out my first 3 inches of crochet due to an error on my part and wouldn't you know that the yarn was super grabby and very hard to get out. Phew. Now for the second crochet row which should happen today or tomorrow. Then I'll cut.
I've been sewing this week, too. While cleaning the sewing room, it dawned on me that if I just made the projects that I bought all this fabric for, then I'd have a cleaner room and much more space. I started doing just that and have already gone through the better part of 10 yards of fabric. It feels good.
I hope you have a great, relaxing weekend. I'll be back as soon as the steeking is finished.
I love any reason to pull my colored pencils out of the art cabinet and use them. Charting the fair isle pattern for my sweater was the perfect excuse. As I sat and knitted the first few rounds of the yoke, I thought just how much I love fair isle knitting. And then I remembered that I said the same thing the last time I did it and wondered why I don't do it more often.
I have received numerous emails and comments asking me about whether or not I will sell guitar straps like the one I made for Jane. I really want to and I am looking into figuring out just how to make that happen. I'll let you know as soon as I make a decision either way.
I enabled threaded comments a week (or two?) ago. I really like it this way because it allows me to respond to people quicker and more efficiently and it allows you to comment on other peoples' comments, too. A virtual conversation, of sorts.
I haven't forgotten about the snack pdf. I just haven't had the time to get it together. But I will soon. We have added smoothies to the mix and they have been well received.
Staying up late to watch the Olympics is making me super tired and a bit crabby. I am going to do my best to go to bed early tonight. Or take a nap. Or both.
I wish I had a personal organizer who could come over and help me sort out the studio. The mess is epic and there is a lot of fabric and other stuff that needs to go, but I feel paralyzed every time I look at it.
The sun is out and I am happy for that.
Kate has been asking for a knitting lesson for a few months. On our second snow day last week, I took the girls to our local yarn store and with their help (thank you Jane and Cindy!), Kate learned to knit. I cast on for her and she used knitting rhymes to help keep her remember exactly what she was supposed to do. The rabbit goes through the hole, around the tree, peek back out, and off we leap! Within a half an hour, she was doing it all on her own.
As a mom that loves to sew and knit, I have found that if I am over-enthusiastic about any one craft, my kids tend to drop it like a hot potato. To that end, I played it really cool, giving Kate a few pats on the back and patiently fixing every little mistake that she made. I quietly encouraged her and let her do the rest. Every day, she has picked it up, knit a few rows and put it back away. She took it with her to Jane's guitar lesson and the two of us sat in the waiting room knitting and chatting. She pulled it out and worked on her scarf while watching the Olympics last night. Even Jane, who hasn't knitted in well over a year, decided to pull out her yarn and needles. I cast on 15 stitches for her and after a quick lesson, she was knitting away too. It was one of those moments that I will never forget - all three of us sitting on the couch, watching Olympics, knitting in hand.
I have no idea if this will last so I am enjoying every dropped stitch and unintentional yarn over that needs fixing while I can. Back here soon.