13
May

Mother-Daughter Knit-a-long!

Written by Sarah. Posted in cardigan, holiday, knit-a-long, knits, sweater, WIP, yarn

You may have read about it on the twitter already but I have a cool announcement today! In honor of yesterday being Mother’s Day, I am working on a mother-daughter knit a long.

My mom taught me how to knit when I was in fourth grade (and then again when I wanted to get back into it when I was in high school). She is a great knitter. She made me so many things growing up and I’ve always been inspired by the way she picks up her needles to shoot off gifts for just about everyone that’s expecting. I come from a family of crafty women and I owe this blog and everything I’m doing now to their awesomeness.

So we’re knitting together! My mom requested that we knit the Stonecutters cardigan. Being a fan of Amy Christoffers must run in the family! I’m also very excited to knit one of Amy’s patterns for this because she’s a mom, too! I’m going to knit with Brooklyn Tweed Shelter in Wool Socks. My mom will cast on Berroco Brookstone Tweed in Marsh. It was awesome fun texting with my mom, debating over yarn choice and chatting on the phone about colors. We’ll have two matching garments that represent ourselves. It’s going to be really fun!

mothersdaykal

 

I am lucky to have such an amazing mother who has taught me so many things. Although she sometimes drive me crazy, she always makes me laugh. She always seems to have that random button or recipe that I need and I’m always learning from her.  I’ve always been in awe of how hilarious an creative she is. She is my number one fan and I can’t thank her enough for all of her support. I’m so excited to be part of her first KAL!

I’ll be updating here about my and my mom’s progress on our cardigans!

Have you ever knit with an important lady in your life?

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03
May

Blocking Cotton

Written by Sarah. Posted in blocking, knits, lace, sweater, technique, WIP

I will admit that blocking has only recently become my favorite thing ever. I used to really hate it. I’ve mentioned that once or twice before. But it’s the best. THE BEST. When I finished knitting up the Poolside top, I was really excited to block it. The lace definitely needed a little relaxing and I was hoping that the stitches would lay a little bit neater.

Here’s the thing. I’m still not the biggest fan of cotton yarn. It was fun to try out a top in this fiber and the Blue Sky Alpacas really does cotton justice. It made me re-think the way that I feel about cotton. That being said, the stitches are VERY defined. It’s a nice, crisp look but it also highlights wonky parts were weaved in and where new skeins were joined. And basically if my tension varied at all, you could tell. So this guy needed a blocking.

Here’s a before shot. Don’t mind the dramatic shadows…

blocking cotton

 

It’s all pinned down but you can kind of see what I mean about the stitches being defined in the left sleeve. It’s not really meshing and smooshing together the way that wool does, the stitches just kind of sit next to each other telling all of the other stitches to bugger off.

Anyway, when I went to block this, I wanted to make sure I was doing everything properly. I think I’ve only made dishtowels out of cotton yarn and those really don’t need to be blocked. That just sounds silly. Anyway anyway, I turned to this helpful guide from Knitty. Remember, kids: Different fibers need to be treated differently! You can’t just dunk everything into a basin of warm water and Soak.

Cotton needs to be steamed. This is how I did it since my iron is a piece of crap and I don’t have a steamer.

blocking cotton 2

I took an old pillowcase and soaked it in the sink. I wrung it out a little and placed it over my sweater which was laid out on a blocking mat. (I pinned it down since I wanted the lace to stretch out a bit. Whether you pin your blocking is up to you and the way you want the fabric of your sweater to turn out. Think about that!)  Then I ironed it out and removed the pillowcase.

Another pro tip: Ask someone else to take a photo of you ironing. It’s really hard and probably dangerous to photograph and iron simultaneously.

blocking cotton 3

Ta da! That’s it! There’s what it looked like immediately after ironing. I tried it on after it dried for 24 hours. Cotton is tough. It doesn’t want to stretch out the way other natural fibers might but the neckline did kind of lose its shape. The lace, though, looks really beautiful in this color and fiber.

I’m really pleased with how it turned out and it’s always fun to try some new blocking techniques! More photos of the FO coming soon!

Have you ever blocked cotton yarn? Any tips?

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24
Apr

WIP: Poolside Test Knit

Written by Sarah. Posted in knits, sweater, WIP

When I saw Isabell Kraemer’s Poolside top, I was bummed that the pattern hadn’t been released. It was one of those pieces that I instantly wanted to make. So I told her so and Isabell asked me if I’d like to test knit it. I love sneak peeks and previews so I was really excited to get in on the action ahead of time.

poolside test
I wasn’t going to post a WIP for this project but since the pattern’s been released, I wanted to take some quick photos to show off how beautiful it is. As you probably saw before, I’m using the Blue Sky Alpacas Skinny Dyed Cotton. I’m loving it. I got a lot of work done on it on my trip to Chicago. A few hours of plane knitting put a good dent in the project.

poolside test 2

The lace part of the body was so much fun to work on. I was worried about how it would hold up using the cotton yarn but I’m so pleased with how it turned out. I’m sure blocking will really make it smooth. I’m almost finished with the sleeves so I will have more updates for you soon!

What are your thoughts on cotton lace?

ps. Just a few days left to enter the Craftsy giveaway!

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15
Mar

This is the Worst Part

Written by Sarah. Posted in faire isle, knits, sweater, technique, WIP

For today’s post. I’d like to take a moment of silence in honor of all of the knitters out there that we’ve lost to our most tragic epidemic in the community: Weaving in ends.

weaving

It’s happened to all of us at one point. Sometimes weaving in ends, you feel like you should just throw in the towel, call it quits, give up. If you know a knitter at risk, don’t be afraid to help.

Now I have to get back to weaving.

ps. I’m heading to Chicago next week! Any places I have to visit?

pps. Check out my fingerless mitts featured in this trend guide!

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04
Mar

WIP Storage

Written by Sarah. Posted in knits, no clutter, technique, WIP, yarn

I may have mentioned before that my WIPs are a sad state of affairs when I’m not working on them. Generally I keep everything in a pile on the couch, shoved into the cushions so that I don’t lose odds and ends. I’ve been known to sit on three or four skeins of yarn while I work.

Here’s the gist:

wips

That’s four skeins of yarn, three swatches, a sleeve, and a cross stitch all on one couch cushion.

That was before the move. Since we’re in our fancy new apartment, I promised that I would keep things here under control. I don’t need to grow a crazy yarn monster. So I plan on getting some type of container for my needlework. But what shall I use?

Right now, I have my faire isle sweater in a tote bag that lives on the floor next to the couch. I can keep all of the yarn and the pattern in there. It’s a pretty slick deal. I’ve also been focused on accomplishing one pattern at a time which helps tame the mess.

It’s also handy that I have my stash nearby. In the old place, my stash was kept above our closets in this little storage nook where we kept boxes and things that we generally didn’t need to get into very often. It was about 6 or 7 feet high which meant that Jon would have to get on a ladder every time we needed something from up there. Needless to say, he wasn’t thrilled about dragging out boxes of yarn so they stayed put. I started filling my nightstand and bedside table with bags of yarn. It was an unruly mess. Worst of all, it didn’t really encourage me to put excess yarn away after I was finished with it. Now all of my yarn is in a closet about five feet from my favorite knitting spot so I can put things away and (get this!) use yarn I already have in my stash with ease! It’s kind of changing my whole life.

I’ve been searching for a great vessel to keep my WIPs in. I have a yarn bowl but it isn’t really conducive for transportation or colorwork. I’m hoping for something big enough to hold a sweater but not too big as to condone couch-side yarn hoarding. Things that aren’t going to be worked on need to stay in the closet! I do plan on sewing some project bags but I want a box of some sort to live near the couch.

I think I’ve found my new WIP bin. It wasn’t what I was expecting (I was really looking for something with a lid) but I was browsing the Fringe Supply Co site and I kind of fell in love with these gorgeous baskets.

basket

What do you think? Perfect, right? A good size and really handsome. Our apartment has some nice wood pieces so the color will be great. And Jared Flood has them. I’m sold. I can’t wait to buy them and put them next to my spot and fill them with yarny things!

But this all gets me thinking: How do you lovely people store your WIPs from day to day? Do you have a couch full of yarn or are you super organized? (No judgements!) Baskets, bins, or bags?

ps. I made a playlist to craft by for Kollabora. Check it out here.

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15
Feb

WIP: Great Divide Test Knit

Written by Sarah. Posted in accesories, knits, shawl, WIP, yarn

Like so many other things (mainly cookies and potato chips), I have no self control when it comes to knitting. Which is why, when Michele was asking for volunteers to test knit her first pattern, my answer was something like “Oh me, me, me! Please pick me!” even though I promised myself I’d get back to my other WIPs. I’d seen the early stages of the Great Divide Shawl on instagram and immediately fell in love. I’ve written before about how I don’t like shawl and I don’t want to knit them. This one changed my mind.

What caught my eye was the awesome neon yellow she used. Neons paired with neutrals are my favorite. Stripes dominate my wardrobe so the design was great. I loved the stitch pattern that is pretty but not terribly lacey and delicate looking like most other shawls. This fell solidly into my minimalist style.

I don’t think it’s proper to share a test knit before it’s finished but Michele has already posted the pattern for it on Ravelry. So I think I’m in the clear here! Besides, I’m sure you can all forgive me because it’s just too much fun to not post photos!

great divide wip

Immediately after Michele sent me the pattern, I started panicking. I wasn’t even sure if I had any yarn to use and I certainly wouldn’t have time to swing by my LYS. So I worried. As soon as I could, I tore apart my stash looking for the appropriate yarn.

As it turns out, I had some bright pink (Espadrilles)and purple-grey (Calligraphy) Madeline Tosh Sport that was once destined to become a lattice tank top. I’d started the top when the weather was warm but totally doubted my color choices. By then it was too late. I’d decided what I thought in the store was white was a weird pinkish-purple but this was after I’d completed about 8″ of stockinette of the body. I ripped out what I’d started, half hoping that no one would notice how purple it is and half thanking my stars that I actually had two skeins that were even the same base.

great divid wip 2

I love how it looks. Much better than it did as a top! I’m actually really glad that I pulled this yarn out of my stash. The superwash merino and the color will be perfect if spring ever rolls around. I love something light that I can throw over a cardigan without looking fussy. I still have a ways to go with the pattern but it’s simple and quick to knit but with an intuitive, clever design. I’m already up to make another!

How do you feel about shawls? Do you like lacey or understated?

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07
Jan

WIP: Faire Isle, Slowly

Written by Sarah. Posted in DIY, knits, life, sweater, WIP

Remember that sweater I cast on during my hurrication? It’s still here, guys.

Just as I suspected, it took a back seat during holiday knitting season. (And by back seat, I mean I was sitting on it, wedged between the cushion and the arm of the couch because that’s where I store my WIPs. I’m not even joking. I just promised myself that I’d get a proper place for them. Let’s make that happen.) After the blur of the holidays plus a big secret project (sorry, suspense!), I couldn’t even remember the last time I’d worked on it. I was half way through the armhole shaping on the back. Why, oh, why do I always put down a piece when I’m working on the armhole shaping? Then I pick it up and I can’t trust that I marked the proper place where I’d left off and I’m suspicious and double guessing the whole way through.

Anyway, over the past week, I was able to not only finish the back but I also worked on my Zelda cross stitch and knit up a new (but simple) design. Pretty neat, huh? I guess since I spent all of New Year’s Day on it, I got a couple of extra hours.

Here it is, so badly in need of a blocking (and better lighting).

 

faire isle back debbie bliss

 

As I’m a professional, I held the piece up to my back (you know, the scientific way of measuring garments) and I’m now a little terrified that it won’t fit. I know I voiced my concerns about the sweater being snug before. Now that I’ve completed the entire back piece, there’s really no turning back. Also, since I’m definitely, absolutely a professional, I didn’t bother blocking my gauge swatch so I have no idea if blocking the pieces will help loosen things up. (I’ll remember that for that “How to Knit a Gauge Swatch” post…)

Since it’s wool and most of my sweaters end up being massive, I can only assume that giving a nice soak will give me about an inch more which would be a big help. That or I need to go on a diet, ASAP. I’m not giving this sweater up. I’m too in love.

faire isle 2 wrong side

Here’s a picture of the wrong side. I like sharing my wrong sides a lot. I feel like it’s not something that’s out there enough and I think that they’re interesting and beautiful in their own way. I’ve also gone on weird OCD searches for them when I’m afraid I’m not doing a technique properly. The backside of a faire isle piece is important the way that the back of a cross stitch is important (says myself, who has sloppy, terrible cross stitch backs). Also, you can see that I have hours worth of ends to weave in. Party!

Anyway, this sweater isn’t the quick, simple project I thought it would be. But are they ever? My only hope is that I have time to finish the front before winter is over. Ok, my only OTHER hope is that it fits. And that I don’t cry. Those are my only three hopes. Oh, and also that I don’t run out of yarn because St. Denis is discontinued. Ahahaha!

Please help me.

My sweater’s going to stretch out, right? Do you like looking at wrong sides? Would you share yours?

 

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26
Nov

WIP: Faire Isle Sweater Frustrations

Written by Sarah. Posted in faire isle, holiday, knits, life, sweater, technique, WIP

How was your Thanksgiving? Jon and I cooked dinner for our family (with help from my mom and Aunt Sherry!) and his first turkey turned out fantastically! It was such a wonderful feeling of accomplishment and I was so pleased to be able to do something small for my family who has done so much for me.

After Jon and I spent all day working on turkey and mashed potatoes and other yummy awesome Thanksgiving goodies, he and my parents fell asleep on respective couches and I sat down to work on the back of my faire isle sweater as a little treat to myself for keeping my energy up all day and also because I was having a dessert/tea sugar/caffeine buzz. I guess the buzz was insufficient because I ended up casting on 120 stitches instead of 130. I counted it at least five times before I started knitting. But about three inches in I realized that I was missing an inch of width.

So I ripped that whole piece out. It was only about a day’s worth of work but I was pleased with how it looked. It’s always disheartening to frog a good chunk of knitting. And it’s embarrassing when you find yourself cursing the pattern when really you’re the one that can’t count. That’s about where I am with the progress on this sweater now. I always kick myself because I post photos of the beginnings of things and the FOs but it’s tough to show the middle part without looking like a pile of stitches.

RIP

In my fit of frogging, I began to worry that the sweater will turn out too tight. As I mentioned before, the difference between all of the sizes is 4 1/2″which left me with a difficult choice, somewhere between fairly snug and possibly awkwardly large. (I’m really trying to hold back in the oversized comfy sweater department. I love them but I should really be wearing proper outfits now and then.) I’ve started kicking myself that I should have been using size 4 needles instead of size 3s to give myself a little extra breathing room. With both sleeves finished, I am going to continue crossing my fingers that a good blocking and some good old-fashioned wear will make everything just right. I do hope it turns out. I like to think that I’m a process knitter but I’ve been really looking forward to styling this sweater.

Anyway, stick around this space because there will be some fun gift guides coming up soon!

Any crafting catastrophes recently? What holiday crafting are you doing? What do you want for the holidays?

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19
Nov

WIP: Faire Isle Sweater

Written by Sarah. Posted in faire isle, knits, sweater, WIP

I’ve got some photos from the early development on my faire isle sweater. I was able to finish a sleeve while I was on a week of hurrication. Since then, progress has slowed down. I’ve only had about an hour to spend on it every day. And, with the holidays swiftly approaching, I can see it being on the needles a little while longer.

Now, faire isle is a technique that, despite my years of knitting and lack of intimidation, I am still perfecting. I realized only recently that I was not carrying my contrast colors correctly. I’m admitting it here so please don’t judge me. Nothing was laying flat and the gauge was a mess. I since have mastered that part.

My biggest problem was the debate between carrying the CCs up the sides or cutting and rejoining. While rejoining is ridiculous (so many ends! SO MANY ENDS!), I have to carry them up more then ten rows between their uses. I consulted Twitter and my lovely friends gave me the advice to carry them losely. I think that’s working out well besides leading to massive tangles. After a few wears, it should felt down a little.

I wish I’d adjusted this pattern to be knit in the round. I don’t know what I was thinking. It should be in the round. Why is it not in the round, Debbie Bliss Magazine? There are a few odd things about the pattern that are pretty specific and I’m not sure if it’s worth explaining them. My only helpful adjustment was to add stitch markers to the beginning and end of the pattern repeats so that it’s not completely confusing when increasing on the edges.

I am very pleased with the color combination. I agonized over the selection for a while since I was shopping online. It’s so tough to decide when you can’t see or feel the yarn! My only regret is that I wish the lavender/grey was switched with the eggshell blue. I didn’t buy enough blue to swap them which was bad of me but I still love the way it looks so it’s not even worth mentioning. Don’t worry. I’m sorry I brought it up.

Now it’s just a lot of repeating patterns. My gauge is about half a stitch too big which I am hoping will work in my favor since I think the sweater might be a little snug. (The small is something like  35″ bust where the medium is 39 1/2″ which is a big difference and I’m somewhere in the middle.) I’m excited to get more pictures when more things are complete. But, like I said, there is holiday crafting on the horizon. Stay tuned, more on that later!

Do you have issues with faire isle? What’s your biggest knitting challenge?

ps. Stay tuned! There is a KYC video coming up tomorrow! Have you subscribed to the channel yet?

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31
Oct

The Work In Progress

Written by Sarah. Posted in holiday, knits, life, new york city, photos, WIP

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I stitched quick and cheery,
On a sleeve cuff and ribbing I’d made once before,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of someone  gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
‘Tis some knitter,’ I muttered, ‘tapping at my chamber door!
Only this and nothing more.’

Ah, and still I remember, it was just last December,
When I began this great pattern for
A sweater v-neck, warm and cozy,
For the pattern rare and radiant the designer called Lenore,
Nameless here for evermore.

Presently, my soul grew stronger; stitching then no longer,
‘Sir,’ said I, ‘or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was knitting, and so gently you came flitting,
That I scarce was sure I heard you’ – here I opened wide the door;-
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
‘Surely,’ said I, ‘surely that is something at my window lattice,’
Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
‘Tis the wind and nothing more!’

Then I tore into my stash, throwing the yarn with feelings quite brash,
And in that bin an old work in progress,
Forgotten on the needle as I left it, small and feeble,
And there this wooly sweater back sat upon the floor,
Quote the work in progress, ‘Nevermore.’

ps. I was a little glib the other day about my hurrication but that was before the worst hit. It’s really wiped NYC out, tens of thousands of people here still have no power, not to mention the numbers in New Jersey, Long Island, etc. We are lucky to have power and be safe and snug here (I won’t complain about the cabin fever) but it breaks my heart that many small businesses are losing money from being closed on top of whatever damage they might have sustained.

Maria at Subway Knits is currently running a Sandy Relief raffle and I want to urge everyone to join in! Make a donation and send her your receipt to be entered into the raffle. Lots of amazing prizes going on right now including hand dyed yarns, patterns, online classes, and a gift card to Knitty City. Not that you should need an incentive to donate to a worthy cause, but I think it is wonderful to see knitters rallying and the donations to the raffle are still coming in. It warms my heart.

The full raffle details are here. Stay dry and happy Halloween!

photo via The Library of Congress.

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