For Valentine’s Day, Jon and I took a little adventure upstate. My cousin got us tickets to a wine festival so we took a little weekend trip to get tipsy. It was cold up there but we made it thanks to fast food (my favorite road trip indulgence), an endless music selection, and the scenic route.
The trip was a lot of this:
But that means a lot of knitting. I generally am completely restless for long car rides (I hate flying because you can’t take a break!) and being behind the wheel makes me a little twitchy (until I decide to drive 85mph the whole way because I am in. a. hurry.) so I try to avoid road trips. But a long journey means unadulterated time with my two favorite things: needles and yarn.
I’m probably pretty sore for it now but I managed to pump out a good portion of this pair of socks.
After taking Kate Atherley’s class at VKL, I was very excited to make a pair of socks. I’ve been itching to make a pair since I learned so many awesome tips. While I know how to make a good sock, now I know how to make a great one! It’s an ankle-down sock with a square heel. I must admit that I didn’t quite nail this time around. You can see in the photo below that I went a bit too short on the foot so the heel is kind of pulling. I really wanted to make sure there was proper negative ease. Maybe this is too much.
I picked up this skein from Into the Whirled at Rhinebeck. It was nearly impossible to pick a color way but Jon really liked this one and I love how it stripes. I’m definitely looking forward to taking my new sock knitting expertise to more projects. Expect more socks soon!
Socks are my favorite road trip knits. What about you?
I like to start off my Friday posts with a pattern that I’m really crushing on. This week I’ve been thinking about the Brioche Hat by Linda Lencovic (of Kettle Yarn Co). I’m a little late to the party in recommending this pattern to you since Linda was donating proceeds from the purchase to an LGBT rights group during the Olympics and, well, the Olympics are over. But you should buy this pattern. And you should buy some of Linda’s yarns because they are YUMMY.
Before we move on to the link stuff, there is some congratulations in order. First, Ravelry reached 4 million members! (Very cool stats under that link!) Can you believe that? It feels like there were just 2 million yesterday. It’s so amazing! Next, CRAZY BIG congratulations to Amy Christoffers in her new position as Design Director at Berroco. I can’t imagine anyone else that could take over for Norah and I’m just so pleased that Amy is being recognized like this. Obviously, I have a lot of other knitters to fight for title of Amy’s number one fan but you KNOW I’m a proper Christoffile.
>> Some interesting facts about knitting from the British game show QI. A few pieces of trivia you probably knew before but the codes and islands are fascinating and new to me!
>> I’ve been looking for this gif set for forever. Thanks, tumblr! Sherlock is one of us.
>> This post by the Yarn Harlot really speaks to me! After a long work week, I always want to spend a day with a Netflix marathon and my needles but I, too, have that nagging feeling that I should be doing something else. It’s so tough to find balance between indulgence and responsibilities!
>> The television gods have listened! Tomorrow National Geographic will be premiering Shear Madness, a show about California shepherd Natalie Redding. I’m SO EXCITED for this. Say it again: I WANT MY KNIT TV.
What are you knitting on this weekend?
As soon as I saw The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug, I wanted to write about a certain piece of knitwear. I’ve been putting it off for a month because, well, I just don’t want to say what I’m about to say and I just can’t write about it without saying it. Here goes. I was so thoroughly disappointed by this film. SO disappointed. Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy really inspired me as a preteen. I’m not sure if maybe the magic has worn off since I’ve grown older and less interested in fantasy epics or maybe four years of film school have soured me to having any fun at the movies. But I have a feeling that this movie was just not what it could have been. It was long, it looked like a video game, and Orlando Bloom is not as fresh-faced as he once was (sorry).
Really the only good parts of this film for me were Bombur getting stuck in a barrel (definitely my Halloween costume this year) and giggling with some of my best girlfriends about how I’d snuck an impressive amount of candy into the theater. To have to go back and search through the entirety of this movie for a screen cap was just too much for me in this cold, bleak winter. But THDOS (is that the official abbreviation? Quite a mouthful.) has been nominated for three Oscars and this knit is not one of them. It’s time to talk about it.
Let’s talk about Gandalf’s sparkly scarf.
When I first noticed Gandalf’s scarf, I’d say right after the group stays with Beorn, I felt completely giddy. And every time it appeared on screen, one of my friends would say, “Sparkly scarf!” Despite the flashiness of said accessory, the silver scarf is a part of canon Gandalf costume. It’s specifically mentioned in the books so this is one serious piece of knitwear.
Of COURSE Gandalf has a beautiful, long, and mystical scarf. I’m not kidding about it being sparkly. It’s definitely got this rustic, tweed-y quality but then there is a metallic yarn woven throughout. I just loved seeing it swirl around in 3D magic.
If you’re interested in seeing the costumes in real-life close ups, check out this article. Or you can buy an authentic movie replica woven with real mithril (aka not actual mithril) for $99. Or, maybe, just knit one? (I’ve got a nerd bone to pick here. Is this book canon? I’m not really sure what good it would do to weave a scarf with mithril. I guess if you got shot in the throat with an arrow? Maybe we should start with mithril in hats and gloves and then maybe scarves if it’s particularly, dangerously cold outside. Feel free to discuss in the comments.)
Who do you think is best dressed in Middle Earth?
At the end of 2013 I was setting up my goals for this year and they were a little overwhelming. While much of my plan for 2014 seemed unobtainable, the idea of sewing more seemed pretty simple and tangible. So while I was resting my achey hands, I decided there was no better time to start with that resolution than the present. On New Year’s Eve, I started putting together the Scout Tee and when it was time for champagne toasts, I had most of a garment.
I’ve talked about sewing here before. It’s not something I really excel at. I just hate ironing and I still don’t have a proper space to lay out fabric. But I’ve basically stopped buying clothes (aside from pieces from my favorite reputable source, Everlane, and a bridesmaid dress) since I wrote this post so I think it’s time I get my shit together and make a few pieces for myself. (Side note, I’m really proud that I’ve cut back on shopping here. I thought it would be a really difficult challenge for me but I really feel good about it!) Besides all of this, I’ve met some really amazing ladies that I know I can turn to when I hit a dead end. Seriously, I’ve had so many offers for lessons, I know some really lovely sewists!
But I am a bad student. I want to teach myself everything. I’m learning quickly that I need some advice.
So here is my finished tee! I used a fabric that I picked up at Purl Soho (that I can’t find information for anymore). Seems like I’m on kind of an orange kick. Something must be going on in my second chakra. I can’t wear dresses to work so my summer uniform is jeans with a cute top. Scout is the shape for something casual and simple without looking sloppy. I’ll definitely be making another!
It’s not perfect. I feel like I ought to strive a little harder for perfection at the very least so my garments will hold up well but for now I think I just need to get things made so I’m not so discouraged.
When I see a simple garment like this one, it seems like instant gratification. The problem is, even though it’s not too difficult, there are a lot of steps (read: IRONING!) to make each piece look finished. I mean, of course there is the hem and the seams but then there are things like binding around the neckline. Those little steps that I forget about when I dive into a project. I’m obviously still a novice when it comes to planning.
Setting in the sleeve was quite a challenge. Way harder than setting in a knit sleeve. But I decided to stick with how it came out on my first go-round. There’s definitely some gathering since I didn’t quite know what I was doing. I could probably use a better tutorial. That being said, it’s not terrible all things considered and everything fits where it ought to. Good job, me!
This top was the perfect beginner piece for me. It had just the right amount of difficulty, nothing too complicated but enough that I felt myself learning. And, of course, in the end, I’m left with a beautiful garment that fits and that I’m definitely going to wear the crap out of!
I’m already working on my next sewing project while I wait for yarn to arrive in the mail. What should I make next? Have you sewn a Scout tee?
I am obsessed with colorwork. I learned to knit when I was in the fourth grade but I didn’t really put my skills to work until I was a freshman in high school when I began to experiment with colorwork. It was so simple for me to draw up pictures and letters and transfer them into simple objects. I was hooked. A lot of significant knits in my life included intarsia and fair isle techniques including my first scarf and I could never forget about these pieces!
I’ve always collected stitch dictionaries. I love the inspiration I find in them. So when Interweave offered to giveaway a copy of Mary Jane Mucklestone’s book 150 Scandinavian Motifs, I was so excited to share! It’s so much more than just a stitch colorwork dictionary! Just flipping through the first few pages I was finding tips that improved my techniques after knitting probably hundreds of fair isle pieces.
Mary Jane was nice enough to do a little interview about herself and the book. I love the way that she thinks of those motifs in a versatile way, just changing colors to make something completely new.
How long have you been knitting?
30 years. I learned when I was four, but really didn’t pick it up in earnest until I was out of college.
What inspires you?
The world around me! People, places, sounds, smells…every wonderful thing!
Having published a few Fair Isle books, what is it about color work that you really love?
There is always something new with color. Color depends upon the world around it. Take a green, partner it with a blue, now place it next to a brilliant red…the green will look different by virtue of it’s interaction with the colors near it. It is always an adventure.
What do you love about the Scandinavian traditions in knitwear?
Well I grew up wishing my mom or grandma knit so that I could have all the cool sweaters many of my class mates had. I love the crisp color contrast and lots of the cheerful stitch patterns. I also love how much fun it is to mix the patterns together, turn them upside down or just take little elements of a motif and sprinkle them all around.
To enter to win, just leave a comment below! Make sure your email address is included so I can contact you if you’ve won. I’ll be drawing a winner next Tuesday. (Sorry, guys, this giveaway is for US addresses only!)
Why do you like colorwork? Or don’t you? I’d love to hear about it!
Have you seen the new issue of Pom Pom? As usual, I’ve added every piece to my queue. I’m really loving Sólja by Anna Maltz. I love the lace detail. Anna’s designs are such a great mixture of whimsy and vintage style. I am a really big fan of hers. Which pattern is your favorite?
>> I absolutely need a dress made of Soviet-era propaganda fabric. I don’t even mean it in an obnoxious, ironic way. I would wear the shit out of a tractor-print sundress. I’ve always loved how stylistic the propaganda of the USSR was.
>> This article about the 7 reasons that knitting will keep you healthy has been making the rounds. Can’t have too much of a good thing, right?
>> Have you heard that one of the Finnish coaches has been knitting at the Sochi games? Looks like the whole team is getting in on the stitching! I mean, you need some good knitwear when you’re doing winter sports.
>> I’m obsessed with Bob’s Burgers. How amazing is that show? I’m totally in love with this little crocheted Gene doll that got a retweet from Eugene Mirman!
>> This cable print Baggu iPad case is on sale at West Elm!
It’s been a very tough week but happy Valentine’s Day! Today is my four year anniversary with Jon. It feels like we’ve been together forever so I can’t really believe it’s only been this long.
What are you knitting for your Valentine? Remember chocolate yarns?
The Olympics are happening! Hooray!(?) I’m really not interested in sports at all especially ones that involve ice and/or snow so winter Olympics are kind of a drag for me. I also never have my shit together to participate in any Ravelry games so I’m just kind of no fun when it comes to these things. Sorry, everyone. But you have to watch the opening ceremonies, right? I mean, I hate sports, but I do love interpretive dance, Soviet imagery, and these guys. So it’s a win.
Everybody’s been complaining about the American Ralph Lauren ugly Christmas sweaters slash cardigan that my kindergarden teacher definitely wore in 1992 that are the uniforms. Haters to the left. It’s time the world sees America for the tacky-ass patchwork quilt that we really are. I loved them. I would not be surprised if I bumped into someone on Bedford Ave wearing one of these under their 500 layers and gigantic mustache. (It’s still cold here in New York. It’s like we’re actually AT the Olympics, right?)
That being said, the French probably had my favorite uniforms. I’ve heard people hating on that too but I want a grandpa cardigan parka! I’m coveting that Canadian Hudson Bay coat more than anything (feel free to donate $300 to my Olympic coat kickstarter). The Mexican team looked like a winter Mariachi band.
But you’re not here for my fashion advice. Let’s talk about knits, people.
First off, those sign-holding mini-skirted snowflake ladies (or many many Snegurochkas) were actually wearing really pretty (from what I could tell) cabled slouchy hats under their giant crowns. I always feel really awkward for the sign-holders but good for them! You were in the Olympics.
The team from Belarus sported these great hats and scarves that matched their flag. I had no idea that their flag had that cool faire isle-y bit to it (God, the opening ceremonies always remind me how ignorant I am to the rest of the world, so embarrassing!) but I really love it. They get the gold for best flag.
But holy crap. Slovakia’s matching hats, mitts, and scarves really knocked my socks off. I love the colors and hearts. So simple but just really cool. Good job, guys. Everybody go home, they won.
There were so many other countries with great knitwear. The women on the Iranian team had beautiful jewel-toned, sparkly hats. The Russians were wearing great turtlenecks I wish I could’ve seen more of. And I’m 99% sure that Tajikstan had three hand knit scarves. At least, they looked hand knit to me.
Which country had your favorite uniform? What are you knitting for the games? Yay sports!
You have to admit that it’s pretty ironic that in our modern times, DIY is making a huge comeback. Shouldn’t we be wearing flaming clothes and eating re-hydrated meals? Yet here we are, knee deep in blogs dedicated to canning and sock darning.
You’ve heard the old refrain: The internet changed everything. These skills that were once dying out can be passed around in a non-vertical way (by vertical I mean from generation to generation). Ravelry is a virtual knitting circle with millions of members and we can connect through blogs and Twitter and instagram. And now that we have all kinds of knitters (sock knitters, yarn bombers, toy makers), we can really get out a wide range of patterns. To me, this is the best time for knitting because we can get an endless choice in patterns, materials, and education.
Of course, I am a young person. There have been lots of waves of crafting before this one. Think of the war effort, trends like macrame, and even couture knits of the 80s. And here’s the thing, as we’ve moved further into the future, hand-made goods have become less respected. Maybe back then a hand knit sweater was given more appreciation than one today. Or do we appreciate it more since we aren’t living as tangibly as before?
Basically, what I’m trying to get at is a question and this question is: Do you think we’re in the heyday of crafting? Or was there something about it that was better (more elite? more dedication? more respect?) in a different time period? How does the digital world relate to handmade goods?
Faro was off my needles pretty quickly! I actually was able to put the bottom ribbing on right before I went to Vogue Knitting Live! So I a lot of people saw it unblocked (meaning super cropped and hanging weird, whatever! She needed to be worn!). I finally got a chance to block it and I could not be happier.
You’re going to be seeing me in this sweater A LOT. Absolutely, 100% Faro has jumped to the number one spot of favorite sweaters! I decided to take some photos wearing the big floppy hat that I have no occasion for. Remember my inspiration photo? I am no model but big hats!
First of all, I love the construction of this sweater. Knitting from side-to-side was really fun! There wasn’t a ton of shaping (really just the under-arm shaping) so it was really really simple (as in if you’re intimidated in any way by knitting sweaters, this is a great place to start!) but the lace/cables made this really fun to work up. The aran-weight Quince and Co Osprey made this really quick but totally satisfying. I could not imagine making this sweater with a different yarn. Also, there was no finishing necessary on the collar which is awesome. (I dread picking up collar stitches almost as much as I do seaming and weaving in ends.)
I’m completely obsessed with the stripes of cables and lace. Amy really knows how to make a handsome sweater. They play perfectly with the boatneck. And I must add that I’ve never really been a fan of boatnecks although I actually look pretty good in them. Note to self: more of that. The cropped length is really fun, too! I was afraid it was going to come out way too short (especially before I put on the ribbing) but it’s really just perfect all around. Trust the pattern!
I think I mentioned before that I went with a three-quarter sleeve instead of the half. I just added a few inches in the chart pattern before I worked the sleeve shaping. I love sweaters with cropped sleeves and I think I’m going to do this with all of the sweaters I make myself. I almost always wear them over a button down with the sleeves rolled up. This way I can roll the cuff of my button down without getting the cuff of the sweater involved in that mess.
I used to just knit sweaters that were patterns that I thought would be interesting and fun to make. This piece goes beyond that in adding functionally to my wardrobe. It’s not just a beautiful sweater, it’s a garment that I want to wear. This was the perfect place for me to step out of my comfort zone. Like I said, I don’t really wear boat necks often. I was really nervous about how that apricot color would look on me though I was drawn to it. I was scared that together it might be a little too much. But it all came together so perfectly. This is just amazing.
Long story short, I want to knit another one of these! I don’t think I’ve ever knit a pattern more than once (with the exception of the 12 pairs of knucks I’ve made) but this one I’d gladly make again!
What do you think? When are you casting on your own Faro?
Boot warmers are a big thing this winter, huh? I could probably use a pair since New York is basically some sort of frozen tundra Hunger Games arena where everyone on the J train is a mutt that wants to kill you. I really like the Salander warmers by Nadia Crétin-Léchenne. Looks like something I could keep on my needles for emergency knitting situations. Are you wearing boot warmers?
>> I love this red star sweater on Taylor Swift. It looks like such a fun and comfy piece to knit. Related: How do we feel about “distressed” knits? I feel like an old lady but the unraveling at the bottom of the sweater gives me a heart attack. Why would you do that to a perfectly good sweater!?!?
>> When Karen tweeted this Craigslist post of 17.2 lbs of stash up for grabs after a bitter break up, I practically died of laughter. All I can say is, if Jon ever breaks up with me and tries to sell my stash on CL, jokes on him because he’ll be finding yarn in unexpected places for YEARS. (Also, the epilogue.)
>> A woman was killed when her scarf got tangled in an escalator. So, be careful out there.
>> The lead singer of Bastille wore this really cool half-sweater/half-sweatshirt on the SNL performance. Where is this from, guys? Someone please tell me. (I’ll be honest, I don’t know how I feel about this song. It reminds me of the closing credits to a Disney movie.)
>> Presented without comment: A sweater that was knit entirely with 11-years-worth of human hair.
What are you doing this weekend? Will you be knitting during the Super Bowl? I’m just here for the wings.