Sunday, July 19, 2020

Episode 49: What would normal people do?

I show you all my Wyeth Pullover, a couple crocheted bags, lovely test knit stripes, and share your thoughts on Imposter Syndrome and lockdown lessons. 

Also, I probably didn't edit this down enough, but I wanted to get it up and invite viewers to the #LoveYourNeighborMAL on instagram ASAP.

*****Join the #LoveYourNeighborMAL !!! ******July 20-Aug 2:

Grand Prize is Drive In Movie by Norichan Knits:
and Yarn from Fully Spun:

The inspiration for the Make-along name (but you don't have to be religious to participate :))

My question for you: How do you feel about the monetization of crafting? Do you let luxe yarn turn you off or do you find an alternative? Does everything about your craft seem t have a steeper price tag on it and is this healthy capitalism or not? I'm interested.

Stuff I mention in Episode 49: 

knit in Patons Classic Worsted, Jade Heather color:

Crossbody Canteen Bag by Alexandra Tavel:

knit in Nutiden Yarns by Honer och Eir:

Pippen Test Knit by Tamy Gore:

Lace Sweater "Villanelle" by Olga Grishina:
knit in Berroco Remix Light, natural color:

Christie Archer Design: 

Links on Imposter Syndrome:
Possible solutions?:
an IS quiz:
Tavi Gevinson's thoughts on it:
Heidi Gustaad's thoughts on it:

Cool Summer Knits I love but probably won't get around to making: 
Coatlicue -Sandra Guiterrez:

Sunwake -Wencke Pertermann:

Günes - Ezgi Tandoğan Onat:

Argil - Clare Lakewood:
with lindy chain in Holly Berry and Conch

Into the wild- Alexandra Tavel:

Zig Zag Summer by Nomad Stitches:

Sustainable making links:
Making Stories Issue 1 article by Rhiannon Owens:
Aja Barber on sustainable fashion and less stuff:


Thursday, July 16, 2020


I know a lot of you come to the blog to see photos of a knitted item, maybe to decide if you want to make it, and just scroll through all the talky talk. I do a lot of talky talk. That's totally cool, but please do read the section in bold, because its an emergency and there's something super easy, affordable, and immediate that we can do about it. Thanks, friends.

Grotine is a funny name with a weird story behind it. The kind of story you had to be there to get. I like that because it makes me think of strange phrases I share with my siblings, and now my kids, that no one else would find amusing but upon hearing them uttered, I laugh so hard that I snot on myself :/ . 

Grotine is a shawl design by Caroline Dick that I found after the discussion on racism really took off in the instagram knitting community. That's the January a lot of things happened my life, including my eyes being opened wider on this issue. (That seems so long ago now.) I had seen Caroline's Aberdeen design in  an issue of Knit Scene that was sort of dedicated to the 90s. But Grotine was new to me, as was the linen stitch used throughout. 

Linen stitch is fun, y'all. This is a shawl designed with only one skein of yarn in mind. Most of us have one stray skein we aren't sure what to do with. Caroline encouraged knitters to use that wildly variegated single skein because it looked really good in the linen stitch, so that's what I did. I'd never used a variegated yarn for something so textured before. It did look good, but I think a semi-solid or solid could look really interesting too, highlighting the woven-like texture. 

Caroline was also flexible about length. It's basically a knit 'til you feel like stopping kind of project. That's my kind of laid back knit. I used a dk weight yarn, instead of fingering, and I did just that: I knit through one skein and into part of another. 

Here's the best part, Grotine is a benefit pattern. All proceeds go to True North Aid, an organization that serves northern indigenous communities in Canada with basic humanitarian support. Caroline gives some facts on her pattern page that are unsettling: 60% of Canadian indigenous children live below the poverty line and 120 First Nation Communities don't have access to clean drinking water. And that was all before Covid.

Grotine was my introduction to what First Nations peoples in Canada are experiencing. Prior to that my thoughts of indigenous people had stopped at the US border and were not fully informed at that. After reading some of Caroline's posts and various articles, their situation was made more clear to me. So I am changed. Scroll to bottom for some good links and ways to partner with your neighbors to make a difference.

Details: I used size US 10 needles with Tosh DK in the Free Range Eggs colorway. I had bought these skeins on sale from Jimmy Beans because they made me think of my neighbors' yard eggs, but I really wasn't sure how to use them. They were either too much or too little yardage for projects I had considered. Grotine was flexible enough in sizing that I was able to use most of it.  

Since the Covid-19 Virus outbreak worldwide, I have seen troubling statistics about the effect on indigenous communities. Imagine all of the exhausting cleaning rituals we are told to go through when bringing groceries into our house, for instance, and how hard it was to do without cleaners and sanitizers, etc. Now imagine not having clean water, enough food coming into the house, cleaning supplies, masks, and medical supplies. That's where many of these people are today. These are our citizens and neighbors.

I want you to buy this pattern, cause it's cool and it benefits a good cause with a little gift in it for you. But here are some other sources that are also just as easy to donate to in any amount:

True North Aid takes credit card, PayPal, and even checks! 
Decolonizing Wealth Fund directed to indigenous people of U.S. for Covid relief because the amount allotted to tribes by the CARES Act hasn't been distributed.
Partnership with Native Americans provides relief and other services. Their donate page is here.

Here are some sites with quick information if, like me, you haven't really been aware of the problem:

This article has a lot of good, immediate ideas to help improve Native American lives, with links.
There's also Center for American Progress for more info about Covid relief and general issues.

This American Medical Association article and one from Politico discuss inequities in US response to Covid in indigenous communities.

If you, your church, or other community group, are able to make care packages to send of some needed supplies, this link is for you:

For those who can sew or send sewing supplies for masks hospital PPE: Seamstresses unite for Navajo and Hopi Covid Relief and supply drop off points.

Finding these links literally took 5 minutes. You may be able to contact reservations in your area for relief info. Thanks for indulging me.

(more on my Ravelry, Instagram, and Flickr

You can find more about this on podcast episode 30: DFW FiberFest because, yeah, I knit it that long ago and am just posting about it.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Sunset Ringer Tee

Is it hot enough yet to show you my knitted summer tee? Kidding- I melted a month ago. It is past time I showed you my Sunset Ringer Tee by Alexandra Tavel. I made it a whole year ago but I've been behind on everything since... 2015.

This pattern was my introduction to Alexandra's designs. It's a fun, nostalgic way to get to know a designer. When I first saw it I immediately thought of all of those OP t-shirts we wore as kids. Or even the 80s revival baby t-shirts of the early 2000s. On top of that beach culture is a thing where I am from because we aren't too far from the beach. Galveston Island is still a regular summer destination, when we aren't in a pandemic. So I had to make it.

(I realize the photos above are askew. Apparently optimizing the interface for mobile reading now means making it unreadable on both mobile and desktop. We will all have to deal with the weird way Blogger is posting images and text until I switch to a new platform.)

Now the sample fit is more oversized, less baby fit, which is completely fine and probably more my style since I tend to freak out if I feel constricted in any way. Another thing I kept in mind was that bamboo does grow after washing, even when blended with cotton. I don't know that throwing it in the dryer will snap it back to it's pre-wash size and I wouldn't try. So I aimed for the fitted type of tee, figuring it would end up a little roomier. It's a win either way.


I've only  knit colorwork in cotton yarn once before and never using the duplicate stitch method. So I was very conscious of my tension here. It was actually easy, though the reverse side does look like a mess before dealing with all of those ends, and after dealing with them, if I'm honest.

My Mods: I used US size 3 and 5 needles and a kit from Lion Brand for the smallest size. I am not a size small, but remember I was counting on the fit being a bit larger than the measurements, as many Ravelers said it was. The kit included Lion Brand's Coboo yarn for the body and edging and Bonbons for the intarsia. Coboo, as you might guess is the cotton/ bamboo blend. It does have a light, soft, jersey-like feel that is a little more comfortable than 100% cotton. It feels like wearing a t-shirt.

Bonbons are 100% acrylic, which made me want to be extra careful that I didn't work the sunset too tightly. If the cotton/bamboo body stretches some with washing, I wanted the acrylic design to stretch with it. So no I didn't block before starting the duplicate stitch. I was just too impatient for that nonsense. The whole duplicate stitching process felt very paint by numbers to me, which also caters to my inner child.

Sleeve decreases:  I picked up the number of stitches she has you cast on for underarm. Then I knit sleeve as directed but just before knitting the edge, I decreased three stitches evenly per sleeve. I did this because I feared the sleeves might flare out with washing and I wanted to keep that tighter, ringer tee look.

The edgings:  I knit them all in reverse stockinette by purling the edging before folding it under and I whipstitched it closed. I liked the change in stitch for the edgings.

Alexandra has a knack for making beginner-friendly pieces appeal to knitters of all levels. In the case of Sunset Ringer, I think the duplicate stitch is a bit more challenging than a straight stockinette tee would be, but a beginner could totally do this.

What I found interesting about her designs are how many of them have both a knit and a crochet version. That's a unique niche in pattern design. 

If you watch the podcast, you have seen a few more knits from Alexandra in my collection. I'll be throwing up blog posts on them soon. But the two I have my eye on in the near future are the Magic Hour Sweater, knit to be a tee with 2 big skeins of Lion Brand Comfy Cotton Blend, and Into the Wild  out of Knit Picks Billow (since the pattern dk yarn was held double).  Oh, wait! I also want to make the Waterbury Plaid Blanket Scarf out of various favorite leftover yarns. But a blanket scarf could probably wait until Fall, I say as I wipe the sweat mustache from my lip.

(more on Ravelry, Instagram, and Flickr)

I talked about this knit in the My So-Called Handmade Life podcast: planning it in Episode 32: Doing Nothing, as a WIP Epsiode 33: Hiding Out, finished in Episode 34: A Beach Tee, and a review in Episode 40: The Sweater Experience.

Friday, July 10, 2020

Why You Need to Knit a Bulky Sweater

Do you do bulky? I know you knit socks and I know you knit shawls, but do you knit with bulky weight yarn? Bulky sweater patterns have been a staple in my queue since I started knitting. My first sweater was Big Sack Sweater, in bulky yarn and so is the one I'm currently planning.

Whereas my tastes in other things have changed, going from "Why would I ever knit a shawl?" to spending untold hours digging through stash for various shawl color combos, I don't think my preference for working with bulky yarns will ever dissipate.  It is still my favorite type of project, my favorite little getaway from this stressful world. Enter Strathcona by Tara-Lynn Morrison.

I realize that bulky isn't everyone's favorite yarn type. You insane knitters with your microscopic needles. Cross train your poor hands with some heavyweight yarn! Most of us have never used the needles sized higher than US 10 in our interchangeable sets. I get it. It really isn't super practical for me to knit things in heavyweight wool. Fortunately practicality has little bearing on my craft life. Cough...a hundred plus sweaters..cough...cough... Yet, even I have a few really cold days a year to wear a heavyweight sweater, and when I do, I still feel a bit of amazement that I was able to make a garment that is keeping me this warm. When it's not that cold, I can always rely on a chill when family members slyly bump the air conditioning ever further down in our ongoing Temperature Wars.

Something I've heard about using bulky yarn is, "I don't need to add anything called 'bulky' or 'chunky' to my body." I understand that taste in garment fit is individual, and our choices are personal, but I'm convinced there's a bulky garment out there for everyone's tastes. Hint: try Strathcona.

Most of Tara-Lynn's designs require the heavier weight yarns and she uses them to create garments anybody can feel good in. Her yarn choices are always the very colors I want to work with at the moment and they're perfectly styled. I remember looking at her knits via Etsy, before she was using the name Good Night Day, and thinking her styling was so much better than that of other sellers. I don't see myself as into fashion (You should see what I am wearing at the moment.) yet I love handmade things, unique expressions of self, and good photography. Tara's Good Night Day Knits books feature some really beautiful photography by Arden Wray. They draw me in by creating an environment for this kind of making. Nothing satisfies me more than sinking into my couch with some bulky yarn and one of her designs. I have a neat little collection of all of her printed books on my knitting book shelf, even the first one which still has my penciled notes on what yarns and needle sizes I used to make Markham, Simcoe, and the Pembroke Tank. It's strange to think it's almost been ten years since then. Now these patterns don't just bring me knitting joy, but also a healthy dose of nostalgia. If you've been reading this blog for any length of time you'll know I sort of live for that sweet, melancholy feeling.

It has been exciting to see Tara Lynn's business grow from the sale of finished hand knit pieces to also include very popular pattern collections.  There are so many Good Night Day FOs popping up on Instagram. Let's take a look at them now.

Seriously, click the link and you will see every possible color used and all body type wearing these sweaters. There are multiple variations: long sleeves or not, cropped body, added length, color blocking, stripes, variegated, and fringe. If you do a quick Ravelry search of finished Strathcona sweaters, you'll see over 460 of them on the site as of today. Do you see one that doesn't suit the knitter? You may not love their color choice or the yarn type, but again and again, I find every iteration of this design just works. I think it's the simplicity of it. It is capable of being both a functional wardrobe basic and/ or a bold statement.

Another thing I noticed about the pool of finished Strathcona's was that a third of them were knit in yarns I would consider very affordable. By that, I mean a superbulky sweater that doesn't cost $100, or even $40. There's nothing wrong with moderately priced or luxury yarn. But the price of super bulky yarn can be a deal breaker for a lot of knitters. Here, I'm seeing some knit in Cascade Magnum and Spuntaneous, and some in Lion Brand Thick and Quick. And they're all really nice.

When I was looking for yarn for mine, I really wanted to use 100% wool but was on a budget, so I searched for superbulky wool by price and found this line by Drops sold at Sun Yarn Studios on Etsy. It is about $3.28 per ball at the time I'm typing this. That is $40 plus change, including shipping, for enough yarn to make a Strathcona or another of Tara-Lynn's designs in real wool. This yarn did give me the kind of fabric I have always wanted in a super bulky yarn.

There are other work-arounds for not having the right size yarn or the type of wool you'd prefer. Once, when seeing I didn't have a superbulky yarn in wool for a test knit, I held lightly variegated Aran wool with a bulky synthetic blend for a piece that had a natural feel and some visual interest. That was my Lambton Cowl, another Good Night Day knit, and I'm still enjoying it. What was at first a compromise with my budget, made for a favorite winter walk accessory. You will still find it in my car for surprise cold spells.

I've also doubled up bulky strands to meet the correct gauge of a superbulky yarn and in my upcoming Tofino Cardigan I intend to hold an affordable mohair lace weight yarn together with bulky Wool of the Andes in a similar color to get a look like that of the sample, which was knit in luxe Loopy Mango Mohair So Soft.

So have I convinced you that you too must try a super bulky sweater? Consider one more aspect of this kind of knit: it will make your non-knitting friends want to learn how to knit. I have been asked by friends and my daughter to knit Tara's designs for them more often than any other patterns.  This is the perfect opportunity to say, "Let me help you knit one." The fact that the individual stitches are so clearly visible to them, so fluffy and touchable, makes them more likely to take you up on the request.  And just like that, you could have a knitting friend. 
In all honesty, this hasn't worked so well for me. They just lean on me harder to make it for them, but I've seen enough people under #goodnightdayknits proclaiming it their first knit sweater to know it does work.

I used US size needles 8, 11, and 13 along with 9 skeins of Ganstudio Drops Eskimo yarn in the Army colorway. It is a single spun strand, very roving like.

I'm not really sure how well this yarn will hold up, but it feels comparable to Crazy Sexy Wool and Brown Sheep Lamb's Pride. If you're wondering if it will pill because it isn't plied, there's a trick I learned on Ravelry to stop pilling: fill your sink with water that is heated almost to boiling. Put your completed garment in and let it soak until it becomes thoroughly wet and the water has cooled some. Press the water out of it with a towel and let it air dry like normal. It is supposed to be pill free afterward. This is a fairly recent knit so I haven't worn it enough to really test that process (also...Texas) but it is pill-free so far.

Modifications: This is not as bulky a yarn as that used in the sample so I knit on smaller needles and got a slightly tighter gauge for a nice fabric. However, I was able to add 2 or 3 raglan increases to compensate for the smaller gauge.

Fixing gaps: I often have gaps on each side of the sleeve, where stitches are picked up. I used this trick to deal with that: I pick up two stitches more than the pattern calls for, knit around the sleeve to one st before the picked up stitches, ssk (joining a held st with a picked up st) knit to just before the last picked up stitch, k2tog (joining that last picked up stitch with one that was held), then knit around as usual. Sometimes I just have to fiddle.

I made sure to keep my Strathcona cropped. I wanted a cropped body and cropped sleeves, with no shaping to them. All of which could be modified if you wanted.  I love the way my sleeves turned out. They are exactly the fit, and length I wanted.

No doubt that is why it is a retreat-like kind of project for me. I find nothing soothes me more than closing out the noise of the world and working on a chunky sweater and having something substantial to show for that time. In a small way it is something tangible and lasting to hold onto in a time where everything feels strange and in flux. It is somewhat grounding.

(more on Ravelry, Instagram, and Flickr)

You can hear more about my experience knitting Strathcona on My So-Called Handmade Life Podcast: Episode 25: Our Goals , Episode 26: That DIY Mixtape Zine Ethos, Episode 27: My Sweet Little Abomination, and obviously its in Episode 40: The Sweater Experience with all the sweaters ever (Don't judge!)