Friday, March 28, 2014


I have a tendency to hyper-focus.  There can be complete chaos around me, but in the safe bubble of my focus, there is only tranquil, methodical progress.  It's how I cope.  You've probably done it too.

It's a useful habit, but if I jump into the bubble with a project before thinking it through clearly (like I did the first time around with this sweater) it's too late for reason.  I'll be to the armholes before I come up for air and realize... I didn't print out half of the instructions.

I'm kind of impressed that my version of Emily Ringelman's Everett Henley wasn't more "off."  I just guessed at where to start the front lace repeats and when to stop increasing for the neckline.  I blame it all on my grandfather.  It was our talking that messed me up.  Or maybe the fault lies with the addictive nature of this lace stitch mixed with raglan increases.  It's like a puzzle that is challenging without being demoralizing.  I didn't want to stop while there was still another line to do, you know?  So I didn't.

The flip side of having to rip back what was too much fun to do correctly, is that you get to do it all over again, but right.  So I'm okay.  It's worsted lace.  It's not like it won't move quickly.

The funniest thing to me was how I ignored all of the red flags that I was doing it wrong:
The pattern referred to front charts- "I don't see any front charts.  Why bother?"
It says nothing about lace repeats for the front- "Just an oversight."
My stitch counts are off- "Wow, this pattern really lives up to the collection's goal to release intermediate and advanced designs.  I'd better take some notes on what I'm doing.  It might help another knitter, later."

I pity the freak that wants my scribbles on my wrinkled Everett pattern page... and the oddly shaped sweater they would produce.

(more on my ravelry, kollabora, instagram, and flickr)

So, I'm back at it and suddenly I remember how to print an entire pattern, at once.  I can once again see the big picture of sweater construction as I slip my raglan markers.

All I can say is that it was a very stressful, strange week and this robotic, incorrect knitting was my refuge.  It was worth it.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Linden Mittens

I finally did a thing that I always equated with little old ladies knitting when I was a child.  I made mittens.  They're the Linden Mittens by Jane Richmond.

I can see why people like making mittens and socks so much.  You get to see the colors change, never quite sure where they'll go next, and you get a finished object in a fairly short amount of time.  They're also portable and often mindless.  There was no way I could have finished these during the last week unless that were true.

There's something special about adding a good, basic skill, like making a simple pair of mitts, to my toolbox.   I can see myself running and walking in these next winter.  (Yeah, it's not at all cold here anymore.)  Or I might whip up a few pairs with stray sock yarn for gifts.  The best part is that the reverse side is just as cute.

I just followed directions for these.  They're the sport weight version in Felici Kingpin.  I used a long size 1 circular to magic loop them two at a time.  I've been working on them in short snatches of time and, still, they knit up quickly.

As I look at these pictures two things come to mind:  Bright and Shiny and Sleestack.  My husband says Happy Hands Club.  Whatever.

Check out the other beautiful versions of these mitts in the Linden KAL on Ravelry.  Some are Felici in different color ways, some are other brands of self-striping, or self-patterning, and there are quite a few brilliant solids.  Check them out, here.

You also might want to grab some Felici in fingering weight while it's still available.

(more on ravelry, kollabora, flickr)

For more about making these: beginning and two at a time.

Friday, March 21, 2014


Sometimes I'm just not feeling a color.  That's the case with the Wool of the Andes super wash I chose for my Everett Henley.  I like it, it's a great classic navy, but it was too dark for this lace, in my opinion.  So I  decided to set it aside for my son's Brando and tore my closet up trying to find a substitute.

When I order yarn, it's an all day, obsessive event.  I queue up the patterns, check yardage requirements, read ravelers' notes, search yarn sites, look for sales, calculate compounding discounts, and get color inspiration from different places.  Of course, this is constantly interrupted with life, so it does take all day.  This is all to save a buck and not be completely wasteful by having yarn all over the house that I'll never use (as opposed to yarn all over the house that I will use... maybe someday).   After all that planning, it's a little hard for me to change the plan, but good grief it is just fancy string.

So I reassigned this lilac Berroco Vintage to my Everett.  I've been considering the wisdom of my use of 100% wool lately and have decided I'd rather use a blend or cotton yarn for this design.  I also like that the purple is light enough that I think the stitch pattern will stand out very clearly.

Growing up, purple and white were our school's colors and they've been sort of ruined for me by all the "Purple Pride", "Purple and White on a Field of Green...", and "Cut me and I bleed purple." stuff I've heard since childhood.  Yet it's been growing on me, especially in more subtle shades.  Projects like Jennifer's Antrorse, Vanessa's On the Beach, and Emily's cardigan version of her own Everett have had me itching to dig into this lilac for some time now.

So my purple yarn is finally seeing the light of day.  How about this lace stitch pattern?  Nice, huh?

I have two more purplish projects planned in the next couple of months:  a Drift's Ridge and my own On the Beach.  Then I can go back to being over purple.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Sexxxy Librarian...

... we don't say dis (Sorry, it's compulsive.)   This is my second knit for the Holla Knits KAL and it was really a change for me.  It's fitted, cowl-necked, and sleeveless.  I love it!

And how on Earth can this be Lilith Ubbelohde's second design.  Have you seen her first?  A romper and then this sweater!?!  I don't get it.  My first, and only, design is a Madewell rip-off cowl I worked up to use extra yarn.  It was like doodling while you're on the phone, so I'm blown away by Lilith's style.

I used City Tweed dk and size 0 needles.  Yes, 0, but I'm bored with talking about my gauge because of all the knitter-speak in the world to talk about gauge is the most boring.  I did find that I really loosen up tension when I do seed stitch, so I had to re-start and even reduced the cast on stitches by 4.

It does fit well.  I kind of wish I'd knit it a hair longer, but I'm not sure, yet.  It depends on what I'm wearing it with.  If super high waisted pants do work their way back in my wardrobe, even after I pledged never to do that for fear of mom jeans syndrome, I know I wouldn't want it longer.   Otherwise, this could be longer on my torso, but I don't want to mess with it and it's working fine.

I could've blocked it out more aggressively, but I loved the fit around the arms and didn't want to mess that up.  I didn't even have to work the optional crochet chain around them to finish them and pull them in.  It has a raw, rolled look that I love.

So, the cable was fun to work, yet easy enough to memorize.  I like that it runs all the way up the side and onto the cowl neck.  The cowl is folded over, so it's soft and squishy, especially in the City Tweed.

I don't know what else to say about it.  The pattern was easy to follow and it came out exactly as I hoped.  Now, I have to try that romper this summer.  I may as well break out of the "wife beater/jogging shorts rut" while I'm breaking out of the "knitting only with wool in Texas rut."  So many changes...

(more on ravelry, kollabora, flickr)

More on making this: planning,  beginning, and the cowl neck.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Mittens Two at a Time

So, I'm past the thumbs on my Linden mittens, which is like the last lap, I think.  There's a nice little stretch of mindless hand to knit before decreases.  It was perfect for working and talking to my grandfather today.

When I cast on for magic loop, I divide my stitches in such a way that the beginning of the round won't fall at the side break between needles.  Otherwise, it would get all stretched out and sloppy.

Things are going to get very knittery from this point forward, friend.  I'm just warning you.  To do this I cast on each mitten separately on different circulars, dividing the stitches evenly for front and back.  Then I join a mitten for knitting in the round, hang a marker on the first stitch (Since I know it will be at the side break, I just need to remember which side is the beginning), and work one or two rows in the round.  I then repeat the process for the second mitten.  When they are both at the same place in pattern, I'd slide one next to the other on a long circular,  making sure they mirror each other exactly.  I can always use different colored markers to clasp those stitches at the side together so they won't get pulled and look sloppy.

You can see where I used a stitch marker to hold together those stitches at the side where I re-joined after working the thumb hole, just so they won't get too stretched out.

Stitch markers save me when I do socks too.  I find I always need to rearrange stitches on each sock when it comes time to work the gusset or a toe.  If I'm knitting two at a time, I can't just slide the left sock's stitches over from the back needle to the front because there's a whole other sock's stitches between it's front and back side.  So when I'm still at the back of it,  I slide the ones I want moved to the front off of the needle and hook a stitch marker through them and let them hang.  Then I work around the right sock and when I get to the front of the left one, I can slip those stitches off the hanging stitch marker/ holder and put them to the front of the sock.  Fascinating, isn't it?  :)

more on my instagram, ravelry, kollabora, and flickr, and on, and on, and on....

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Cowl Neck

I've never knit a cowl-neck or turtleneck sweater before.  Maybe because I remember my mother making me sweat out a fever in a mustard colored turtleneck under five blankets when I was a little girl.  It wasn't the dark ages, just the seventies.  So glad I narrowly escaped the leeching.

The story isn't completely backward, though.  My mother felt so sorry for me, all wan and sweaty in bed, that she pulled the covers back, put me on her lap, covered us both up, and read to me all afternoon.  I still remember her reading Grover and The Everything in the Whole Wide World Museum, her imitation of Grover saying, "Hello, little Small Hall" is as clear in my mind as if it were yesterday.

So turtlenecks aren't completely ruined for me.  Obviously, because I've been wanting to make Sexxxy Librarian for some time.  The cowl is knit very long then doubled over and sewn in.  I've got about 8 inches to go, but that is what a Friday night is for, right, partay animals?

Friday, March 14, 2014

Knitting and Smoke Break

As if I wasn't chin deep in knitalong projects, I decided to cast on for mittens knit two-at-a-time in the Linden KAL.  I saw a teaser for Jane Richmond's Linden mittens about a year ago.  They were knit in the best colorway of Felici ever: Kingpin.  The next time I placed a Knit Picks order I was sure to include two skeins of Kingpin.  They have waited patiently, actually were lost, under my bed all this time.

When I saw that Jane was kicking off the release of the pattern with a Linden KAL, I had to join in.  Two-at-a-time is really only tricky for the first two rows.  After that, it's just a matter of not yanking too hard on the circular as you slide the work down, so as not to slide it completely off the needles.  I set my first mitten up on one needle and knit the first joining round, then do the same with the second on a longer needle for magic loop.  I then transfer the first needle, with equal number of stitches on each tip to the longer circular so that the two mitten cuffs are side by side with exactly the same stitches in the same places.

I've been working on these while sitting outside with my Papaw as he smokes his pipe.  My grandparents have recently moved to a retirement apartment (assisted living) and it has been a difficult adjustment for them.  There is so much great potential in them living there, but it is hard to get used to a new environment, especially when your memory is failing you.

So, I'm making it my mission to help him feel confident walking out to a patio to smoke by himself and finding his way back.  The work you see here is from our first trip to the smoking area.  He rocks, I stitch, and we go over the move again- why it was necessary, who it's for, and if it's for forever.

My hope is that my grandmother will start catching a nap during this time and a new habit will form for them both.  I also hope these mittens will be infused with the smell of Carter Hall tobacco when they are finished.  It is one of the most comforting scents I know.

Monday, March 3, 2014

We Don't Say Dis

So I'm maybe a third of the way through Lilith Ubbelohde's cowl-neck shell, Sexxxy Librarian.  Yes, that's sexxxy with a triple x; though, as I knit this in my ginormous yoga pants and mismatched hoodie, I'm looking a little more frummmpy with a triple m.

There were certain words my children knew not to say, words they saw as bad: "shut up!", "b-u-double tt", "dumby", and "fart", to name a few.  I told my son, "We don't say this." about those things.  (I know everyone says butt now, but the older generations in my family find it insulting, so "We don't say this.")  Somewhere along the way, maybe because of tv advertisements for non-age appropriate things, he added "sexy" to the list.  How can you explain that sex isn't bad just that a lot of the things that sell it are to an active toddler... repeatedly?  So in our exhausted, modern-parent-that-tries-to-reason-out-everything-with-their-child way, we just said,"well.... sort of..."

Is there really a good way for a toddler to use any of those words, anyhow?  So we let it go.  From then on, in the midst of all sorts of chaos with a house full of children at play, if the words butt or fart were uttered, you'd hear the quiet pronouncement, "We don't say dis." beneath the din.

You don't realize how often you hear words like "sex" until you have a little one that robotically mutters," We don't say dis." every time they hear it.   That was also true of anyone saying God's name in vain.  Conversations between adults might be interrupted with a toddler's judgement: "We don't say dis."  Even riding in the car listening to a Christian worship song where the singer sang of his love for God: "Oh, my've turned your eyes..."  we would hear a deadpan, " We don't say dis." from the back seat.

It became a running joke in our family.  It became a running joke with friends of friends of our family.  Even last night, as I watched tv with my now 14 year old son, some curse word was said and I leaned over to him and smiled as he rolled his eyes at the implied, "We don't say dis."

So every time I type or say the name of this project, Sexxxy Librarian, it is followed by a mental "We don't say dis." and a smile.  That took up way more of this post than I intended.

I had to re-start this because the seed stitch was too loose the first time.  This time around, I ran a longer circular through the hem so I could try it on and make sure it fit. Thankfully, it did.   Then things have moved quickly.  I think I will have it finished by the end of the Knitalong.

Already I can see some things I love about this sweater:
1)  I'm knitting it in City Tweed, which is tweedy, but soft.  I've never knit a turtleneck or cowl neck sweater, but I imagine this is a good yarn choice for something like that.
2) No sleeves.
3) Cables.  It's been a while.
4) No sleeves.