i am all in a ball in your front yard

A very much belated post!!!

It's November, something I am desperately trying to comprehend. How does time fly by so quickly? Here's an appropriate post for chilly November evenings: a fluffy, warm, only-slightly-itchy mohair blanket.

This blanket was one of those never-ending projects. First of all, a blanket (or afghan- whichever you prefer- afghan is maybe more appropriate here) is a large project. It can also be a very tedious project, especially with a pattern as simple as this. It requires a certain tenacity to finish...which I didn't have, apparently...this took me two years!

But now that it's done, I adore it. Absolutely adore it. Mohair is a wonder fiber- soft, luxurious, and warm. This took two enormous hanks of mohair (500 yards each), made by Interlacements Yarns. I can't find the particular yarn I used on the website, though!! I used two colorways of mohair, alternating pairs of rows with each color. This made a beautiful colorway that reminds me a bit of a Monet painting. Every 14 rows, I threw in 6 rows of contrast yarn (in this case, a discontinued Noro yarn). The blanket was all garter stitch, and here's how you do it: cast on 3 stitches. Knitting every row, increase at the end of each row until you're a) half as far as you'd like to go or b) halfway through your yarn supply. If you want fringe, make sure you save some yarn aside OR cut it before you start. You will need lots of fringe...more than you would expect. Once you get to your decided halfway point (size or material-wise), start decreasing at the end of every row. Add your fringe on and you're done! World's easiest blanket.

I alternated skeins of yarn because the colors suited each other and I didn't want to wait to order the yarn. You could do this with scrap yarn, you could do random stripes, you could do an eyelet pattern....just follow the basic square shape (increase halfway, decrease halfway). You'll never want to wrap up in anything else!!


c'mon look me in the eye

Over the summer I had an idea for a neckwarmer (why I think of these things in the 90-degree heat I do not know). It was during the period that Kniterary Club was meeting, so I had time to mull over yarn combinations, buttons, and the like. I came up with a very autumnal color set, but never started the actual knitting. (I guess the weather- and more pressing projects- got some sense through my head.)

Now the cool weather's here to stay, and with all the trees changing and a chilly breeze blowing around, I really want this neckwarmer to be done. Sitting right next to me is the ball of brown yarn, and the moment I'm done typing I will begin knitting! Hopefully my concept will become reality...I want a ruffled button band ornamented with flowers in yellow silk and leaves out of Ultra Alpaca Fine (as above, and below). I feel very Project-Runway-esque, except on a much smaller scale and with lots more time. Besides, I don't think Michael Kors or Nina Garcia will be critiquing my look....

A clearer picture below:

Are those buttons not fabulous?


everybody come down

I think my IQ is dropping steadily lately...it's kind of frightening. In my last post, I described the sudden disappearance of my fish buttons- these aren't the only lost items that are keeping me awake in bed at night, wondering if, just maybe, those buttons might be stuffed in that COAT POCKET! Hmm...OK, I'm distracting myself again. In addition to the buttons, I've lost the power cord to my external hard drive, a skein of yarn, and a jacket. This is quite a feat considering the fact that I'm a neat freak, but we'll move on from here and let's hope my brain cells regenerate.

Another indication of my madness: I forgot to post about these socks way back in March when I made them! In the post titled "Knitting 911" from March, I write about repairing a pair of socks in the same colorway, but I never show pictures of the new, improved version. As mentioned in March, my brother is pretty hard on knitting (heavy use + bike accidents = destruction). I made him a pair of socks (in fact, my very first pair!) out of worsted weight wool. The colorway was called Mexico from Scholler+Stahl, I fell in love with it from the very start. There were two problems, though: one, the socks were nearly destroyed; and two, they were ridiculously thick.

This new pair was the perfect combination: lighter weight yarn but in the same colorway, an adapted heel, and better still, no holes! I knit the whole pair in about 11 days...which leads me to believe that my ideal knitting needle size is a 3...and used an afterthought heel. This allows you to knit a tube, throw in some waste yarn where you want the heel to be placed, finish knitting, and then go back in to insert a very simple heel in the space where the waste yarn was. I'm a big fan of the afterthought heel. If you want a contrast heel, the afterthought gives you a nice square insert for the second color instead of an awkward looking heel flap. (Symmetry suits those of us who suffer from OCD.) This is also a nice thing to keep in mind if you're worried about running out of yarn: knit the tube first, and if you have enough left, great- if not, you can use a contrast color and it won't look like you ran out of yarn by accident. Also, I think knitting the tube and inserting the heel later makes the knitting go by so much faster- you don't have all that tricky manipulation of the heel to navigate, instead you can fly right through, do the tricky bit at the end, and sit back satisfied to admire your socks.

Happy Friday and happy knitting weekend!!!


try this trick and spin it, yeah

It's finished! Not quite as soon as I would have liked, but it's super cute and I can't wait to give it to the mother-to-be. Knitting baby things is so satisfying because the knitting goes so fast...10 inches and you've got a sleeve! This really would have been done in the weekend I had aimed for if the weather had cooperated...we were in Chicago and it was absolutely frigid outside, so no knitting got done or my hands would have frozen!!!

Funny story about this sweater (and me in general): these are not the original buttons I bought for this project. They look the same, yes...but the little plastic bag with the original five buttons is absolutely nowhere to be found. Those of you who know me well will understand how silly this is...I'm a little OCD about organizing and cleaning, so usually I know where everything is all the time. I fear that this time, though, I got a little overzealous in my cleaning and lost something instead of putting somewhere useful (or logical, apparently). I went to the yarn store right down the road and got SO lucky- they had a whole tube of the exact same buttons! I had originally bought the very last of them at a shop in Plymouth, MI. Phew! Bullet dodged.

I had planned the whole sweater around the adorable fish buttons!


all things go

Thought I would squeeze in one quick blog post to end September...and with it, a knitting challenge...I'm traveling to Chicago this weekend (reference the song in this post's tags) and this baby gift needs to be finished ASAP. I've got the back and one half of a cardigan front done, all I have to do are the sleeves and another front (although this one will be a little slower, it's the band I have to place buttons in).

I'm using an all-acrylic yarn from Berroco called Comfort. I'm usually anti-acrylic, but this one knits up really softly and isn't too snaggy- my only issue is that the ends tend to get tangled around the working yarn and can be nearly impossible to separate. Otherwise, it's a lovely yarn...a good value, good wear, and it's machine wash and dry!

Check out those buttons...I'm in love. Little yellow fish!


more and more and more and more

Good news or bad news first? Well...bad news is that I totally failed to keep up with KNITERARY CLUB through September. The good news is that I'm finally knitting again, and even better, I've finished something! Two things!

In all honesty, I should have finished the above project much sooner...I mean, come on, it's knit on size 17 needles! The diamond pattern was an easy 4-row repeat that I somehow managed to botch at least once a day. I had yarn left over (especially when I ripped out the sleeves of the sweater this was originally meant to be), so I made a hat. The hat is really simple, too...knit flat with a seam in the back. I originally thought I should imitate the diamond pattern in the hat too, but opted not to- when I started the hat I was at knitting group and was being a huge ditz and couldn't concentrate on complicated designing. (Unfortunately this seems to be the direction of my entire life at the moment, sigh.)

How many scarves do you really need? Probably not as many as I have...but I really can't wait to wear this out when it starts to get chillier (not toooo soon, I hope).

Also: I went yarn shopping and bought yarn for 3 projects! There should be no excuse for me from now on, the blog is back. I promise this time!


all the cities at the break of dawn

Well, by now you've probably noticed that the blog has been on quite a long hiatus. It was a hectic month, so I decided to declare a vacation for the month of August (unannounced, naturally) and come back in September with more ideas, better ideas, etc.

Pictured above is my newest project. I bought this yarn (Cascade Magnum) intending to knit a Twinkle sweater with it. The sweater wasn't turning out like I wanted, so I ripped it out and decided that the yarn needed a new beginning. The Twinkle book has a cute scarf in it, so I picked that as its second incarnation. As you would expect, the knitting goes really fast. I seem to have a mental block about even simple yarnovers, so I kept missing them. This set me back a little, but I whipped up about a foot in half an hour. I think instant gratification is the solution for frustrated knitters!

I'm going to adapt a variation on this pattern for a hat I'm working on...which you'll see soon!

Thank you for reading, and happy September!


one day the sun will come out

This is actually one of my more favorite projects and concepts...knitted letters sewn onto a canvas backing. Knitting is an art form, after all. This was my first attempt to use canvas, so the background ended up getting painted a flat black. I like the stark contrast anyway, I think it lends itself well to the word. For the letters, I used Louisa Harding's Grace Hand-dyed...half silk, half wool, all wonderful. I improvised the letters as I went, but they turned out okay.

I was going to use that acid green Grace with blue Colinette for another painting/knitting hybrid project, but that one didn't work out because the painted canvas stood alone. I'll try to photograph that one soon so everyone can see how it turned out, maybe I'm biased but I think painting is very, very cool. More to come?

I'm calling this "Unyielding Hope", a phrase Barack Obama used in his acceptance speech.


you could hope for substance

Oh, and so the despondent tone of my knitting life continues. I've temporarily laid aside hopes of designing something for Berroco, it's just not happening right now. Apparently I can't create things on command? Sigh.

Instead, I'm reverting to old projects that I had left for dead. Last year this little shrug (begun as a gift for my mother) was my epic road trip knitting challenge. I drove from Minneapolis to New York City with some friends and decided (as if the fact I keep a knitting blog wasn't silly enough) to see if I could knit this sweater in the 22+ hours in the car. I didn't succeed, mostly because I was gawking at scenery and sleeping for part of the time....but anyway, back to knitting.

The pattern is really cool and was a store model at Needlework Unlimited. It's the sort of sweater that looks good on everybody regardless of body type. We made everyone try it on! Plus, it's knitted using Tahki Yarns' Cotton Classic, which is a fantastic yarn that's been around for years. Held double stranded, the knitting goes quickly!

You start knitting at one sleeve, then across the back and cast off at the other sleeve. The only seaming that's left is for the underarm (so about 8" total). I thought this was brilliant, except (there's always an exception with me, right?) the sleeves wouldn't match exactly because increases and decreases look different. You would increase on the first sleeve to achieve the length for the back, then decrease at the other side to form the other sleeve. Instead, I reversed shaping and knit the two sides separately, intending to graft them in the middle. This did not look good, I got frustrated, and I threw the whole thing in my closet for a year.

Instead of reknitting the whole thing, I'm going to take out the graft in the back...it's off center anyway. I'm going to fix it so there's a seam in the back center instead, pretend it's intentional, then knit on the collar and give it away just in time for summer to end. Knitters are such funny people sometimes, aren't they?


all night out on the run

I decided it was finally time for a post, since it's been a while since I updated anyone on my knitting exploits.

Well, the bad news is that what you see above is about all I got done. I am suffering, it's terrible.

I mentioned that I was going up to the cabin for a couple of days to escape civilization and fight my knitter's block, but alas, all I managed to do was take a cool picture and get a bunch of mosquito bites. I knit a little swatch that I really hated (and have therefore not pictured), then gave up and went for a walk in the woods instead. After I got back to the city, I had a knitting meeting with Annie and managed to cast on for a hat. It's coming along now, but since it's on little needles it takes a bit of time to get anywhere with it. The problem with it is, though, that once I get done with the ribbing I have to decide what to do for the rest of the hat...NOOOO! Knitting really shouldn't cause this much angst.

I should just knit a baby sweater, I need a gift for an October baby boy.


time to believe in what you know

I've been going through a knitting drought the past week or so and therefore have very little to show off. Of course I have tons of ideas floating around in my head, but haven't had the time or concentration to put them on needles. Luckily I was saved from this nearly-disastrous knitter's block by Berroco: they're having a design competition and the only requirement is that you use one of their sock yarns! I was like...allll over that. I've raved about Berroco's Ultra Alpaca Fine before, so this is the perfect opportunity to create more amazing knitwear using one of my favorite yarns.

These socks were knit over the winter, also using Berroco Alpaca Fine. They turned out beautifully, the yarn was lovely to knit with. They took quite a while as they were knit for large feet on size 0 needles, but it was well worth it. I've lately become partial to knitting on tiny needles! Over the next few days I'll be gone to the family cabin in Northern Michigan, so I'll log some knitting time and hopefully come back with a design that I could submit to the contest.


if you work it out, tell me what you find

Earlier this spring, I had a particularly eventful weekend and twice ended up going to venues where you receive wristbands as you enter. I think we all know the material those wristbands are made out of- that indestructible paper/plastic hybrid that some postal envelopes are made out of- and I kept those wristbands on for a week at least. They looked artistically battered, and it was with great regret that I cut mine off so I wouldn't feel guilty wearing them at work. The other person I'd gone with kept his on much, much longer...although they looked very worn, they were mostly intact after weeks.

My unnatural attachment to these wristbands gave me ideas for knitting, naturally. When my original cuff bracelet came out a little too bulky, I re-designed it and used a utility cotton that made it both wearable and durable. I've since subjected these to constant use, I was curious to see how they would hold up in the shower, swimming, cooking, etc. The best part is that, although I don't usually take them off, I could remove them without ruining them if I needed to. I was so utterly delighted with the braided bracelets that I (naturally) wanted to make more.

Now we finally arrive at the purpose of this post: to introduce my eco-chic, recycled, reused pop-can-tab bracelet. Similar in size to a wristband, it can also be made in bright colors and can be worn everywhere and anywhere. I can't take full credit for this innovation, it was made to imitate a bag I own that's made entirely of tabs; my friend Emily (also my very first knitting teacher!) figured out how to crochet the tabs together. We promptly produced three bracelets which were worn with smugness befitting a clever and successful craft endeavor.


don't even know what i'll find when i get to you

A few posts ago I featured a Fisherman's Cuff bracelet (here). It is a beautiful object, but is unweildy to wear. The problem is in the fastening. I had used a button AND a snap hoping to reduce damage to my precious button; coupled with the already bulky bracelet, the snap/button/bracelet sandwich was nearly an inch high! Besides that, I wanted to knit with something other than the Shibui Knits wool...it's gorgeous, but a wool cuff is a little impractical for summer.

Thus began another knitting adventure! I knew I wanted something natural-colored to imitate an aran fisherman's sweater. I also knew I wanted a cotton, silk, or similar (also natural) material so that the bracelet would be easy to wear in the summer heat...something that could stand vigorous wear and washing. The yarn also needed to be rather fine (DK weight or lighter) because I didn't want another bulky bracelet. I never really found anything satisfactory at yarn stores so started brainstorming possible substitutions...the hardware store!

I wandered around our neighborhood hardware for a while, looking down every aisle...gardening, no; kitchen, no; yardwork, no. Finally I found a salesperson and asked for string (cringing as I asked...I have met so many customers over the years who mistakenly say string instead of yarn and have gently corrected them). The lady gave me a strange look and pointed me in the right direction. Apparently I don't look like the sort of customer they normally get in a small-town hardware store. Then I found it: all-purpose cotton twine! $2.79 for 20 yards! A deal.

The string (cringe) worked perfectly! The bracelets are dense and much less bulky than the first, wool bracelet. The utility cotton wasn't really any different than working with cotton knitting yarn, although it wasn't quite as refined consistency-wise. I've been wearing the bracelets constantly for about a week now and they've held up very well (I'm going for the fashionably, intentionally distressed look eventually). These activities have included cooking, swimming, and showers...they're comfortable and hard-wearing. Perfect!


i would want to, i am game

It is exactly what you think it is. Hilarious, right? A knitted traffic cone! When left to my own devices, I tend to think that ridiculous ideas = good ideas. Especially when knitting is involved.

The backstory: my brother and his friend are very silly people. I live with my brother, and came home one night to find a very large, bright orange traffic cone sitting in my bedroom doorway. They had obtained it at some point in the evening and brought it back to the apartment to contribute to the curiousity-shop decor. As I do with most things, I immediately wondered if it could be knit. It could, in fact! I'm still contemplating a life-sized cone, but in miniature it's even funnier.

Yarns used: scraps of Jamieson Shetland DK for the base, Debbie Bliss Merino DK for the body, and Mica by Berroco for the reflective stripes.


an afternoon that's never ending

For whatever reason, I really like i-cord. I think it has so much possibility...whether it's as a bind-off, purse handles, or any other miscellaneous project...i-cord is simple but effective. This is a necklace of sorts, a fusion between a scarf and jewelry if you will. I have a substantial button collection, so I scavenged a few glass/faux pearl buttons, added a crocheted flower, and a few beads I had randomly lying around. The yarn itself is Louisa Harding's Grace Hand Dyed, you might remember it was purchased a few posts ago for my art-knitting fusion project. The art part of that project ended up being pretty cool all on its own, so the knitting got left off. This was fine with me, because who could complain about having a silk/wool hand dyed yarn left over?

Similar to the braided cuff, I think I'm going to try a few more and see if I can modify my design a little more. Knitted jewelry, to me, always looks a little chunky or too handmade (unless you use wire), so I'm experimenting in the genre. We'll see?


dc comics and chocolate milkshakes

I've spent a proportionately large percentage of my life in class...even my extracurricular activities involved being instructed much of the time. As a result, I appreciate efficient and clear teaching; I also feel like I recognize it pretty readily. During my class time at TNNA, I became a huge fan of small projects that demonstrate skills needed to complete larger projects. Now that I'm writing this, I realize that this idea is so simple that it really shouldn't be novel. But it is! There just aren't small projects that correspond to larger, more time-consuming endeavors. Marianne Isager's wristwarmers were functional small projects that went along with her sweaters...above is Cat Bordhi's little...well, thimble? Bowl? Doll hat? It's a funny thing, in any case. It's really cool because it illustrates her heel turn method not once, but TWICE! Then you get to pick up and knit in the round to make a little bowl. How cool is that? Totally useless as an object, but pretty fun to knit. I'm always in favor of useless but educational knitting projects.

So...this ends the TNNA posting material. Spacing it out, it took what felt like a lot of posting to cover everything I learned! What a great experience. I can't say enough how much I like sharing ideas and discussing techniques and projects with other knitters. I always come away so inspired. Farewell, June- the summer continues to speed along.


although i lost my mind

Last weekend I taught a yarn dyeing workshop at Old Village Yarn Shop in Plymouth, MI. It was a beautiful day outside and we had great fun experimenting with colors. We used Wilton Cake Icing Dye (which I've discussed in previous posts), and it's really easy to get super bright colors...but not so easy to get subdued, subtle shading! I'm improving with every try, this is one of my more favorite skeins.

Believe it or not, this actually used a combination of blue, teal, violet, and black. The black is especially unpredictable as it separates into its components pretty readily. As a result, you usually get something approximating black/grey if you're lucky...but more often than not you get purple and teal from it. I wanted to use this to my advantage, so I paired it with colors it naturally separates into.

You can see the bright pink on the string tied to it...yeah, that's out of the black dye as well. That color never appears in my skein (except maybe as an overtone here and there), but it's kind of funny. I'm trying to decide what to use this yarn for, maybe a scarf or mittens? Another random and strange article of clothing? In any case, I can't wait to knit with this!!!


we won't drown in the summer sound

This is a cuff bracelet made of Shibui Merino Worsted, a superwash wool that knits beautifully and is lightly variegated if you get any color other than natural. I used a button I've had hoarded away (I tend to be compulsive about gathering buttons, as anyone will tell you). I got the yarn as a sample at TNNA, it is rather pricey if you buy it retail...so make sure the project is something special. In this case, I think I could knit about 15 bracelets from a skein. Depending on who you ask, this qualifies as a "special" application or is just a terrible waste.

My intention was to use a nautical theme, but I need to do more research on the subject. Really what I'm going to use ultimately is cotton cording from the hardware store and model them after either fisherman's aran sweaters or knotted bracelets (sort of like you would with hemp). This is just a prototype.


just a little bit caught in the middle

Here are some swatches from my Columbus TNNA trip; I took a class with Danish knitwear designer Marianne Isager and these were the swatches I came away with. Marianne's knitting books (Knitting Out of Africa, Japanese Knits) offer inventive garments that are relatively simple yet include techniques that keep the knitting process interesting for more adept knitters. Marianne has designed a series of wristwarmers that correspond to each sweater, so you can try out a given technique before embarking on a whole sweater...but unlike gauge swatching, you'll end up with a finished object. I thought it was a brilliant idea, but unfortunately the patterns for wristwarmers weren't included in the published books.

Unlike the typical knitter, I don't mind swatches...as you can see above, I made lots of them! It feels like all I did was knit swatches and socks in Columbus. Plus lots of ripping! Anyway, swatches above are as follows: left and center, staggered drop stitch pattern- I thought this looked really cool and would make a beautiful scarf or stole. Of course I began knitting said scarf the very next day out of my pink experimental yarn, but decided to rip it out after all. It wasn't what I wanted for that yarn in the end. Then, on the right, a little mitred square. It's from a sweater inspired by the children's fairy tale "The Fir Tree"...so if you look again you can see it has a little tree trunk that starts at the bottom of the square.

I love Marianne's idea of using one inspiration for a series of designs, also the small project that links to a larger one. I came away with tons of ideas for my own knitting, walking away with my head buzzing. And that with very little caffeine!!!


columbus, uh oh


It's been a long time since my last post, and I offer my apologies. I was away in Columbus, Ohio for The National Needlework Association Trade Show and Conference- it was a very exciting opportunity to see all the designers' and distributors' new displays. I also got all kinds of new ideas in classes from Cat Bordhi, Marianne Isager, and the Ravelry team.

The best part about going on a trip is planning your knitting...but even better is when you're going on a trip FOR knitting. I was feeling a little discouraged by my knitting before I left, but luckily that all changed while I was there. Being surrounded by knitters always helps me overcome knitter's block! Shown above is new Trekking sock yarn that arrived at Needlework Unlimited just before the show...we couldn't wait to see what the yarn looked like knitted up and I was happy to oblige! The consensus is that it's sort of animal print looking, I think it's kind of like snakeskin. It's another unusual color combination- pink, brown, and chartreuse/yellow. It's very cool in person. I had conveniently just had a sock class with Cat Bordhi and am using her amazing heel turn that completely trounces my former short row heel.


stay awake to break the habit

It has been a bad knitting week. My Berroco scarf/shawl (We Rarely Practice Discern) was finished last week, holding my attention right on through the not-so-bitter end (which even included crocheting bobbles ALL the way around- and I am a bad, bad crocheter). Rarely do I enjoy a knitting project so thoroughly; though the scarf is very lovely, I've thought about it and I don't think it was just the design that kept me so satisfied. I suspect I've become overwhelmed and needed to knit without purpose or design for a while. Think: meditative knitting, repetitive knitting, mindless knitting. Rectangular scarf? Perfect.

But now, on the eve of my departure to probably the biggest knitting event of my year, I have nothing to knit. Nothing! HELP! I will be at the TNNA trade show in Columbus, Ohio for five days with Needlework Unlimited. If this doesn't provide necessary inspiration, there's no help for me and I'll announce my retirement on Tuesday. A couple days ago, in a zombie-like state, I dug through my stash to find something, anything (muttering "must...have...knitting" to myself). Out of desperation, I coupled a long-stashed yarn (Blue Heron yarns' Metallic Rayon) with a cute pattern (Frock Camisole from Knitting Daily/Interweave Press). I really should have known better than to try and alter patterns in my mind-numbed state, but no, I had opinions and I had changes to be made! It was a rough start- I couldn't come up with a correct stitch count no matter how many times I tried, as a result the stitch markers were never in the right location. After much sighing and gnashing of teeth, I think they're finally right. (Note: this should not have been hard to do.)

I still can't tell you how many stitches are on that needle, my fear is that this will become a remarkably silly (and embarrassing) endeavor. My pathetic attempts at math are out of sight and on the bottom of the coaster in the previous post, next to the Loch Ness Monster. The only good decision in all of this: turning the math coaster over and placing a cup of coffee on it instead. Then all was right with the world.


you should know know know

Monday's knitting quiz: what is this a knitted depiction of? Correct answer gets a prize. I promise.

*No fair if I've already told you! I know who you are and your vote won't count.


waging wars to shake the poet and the beat

In lieu of actual content, I offer you photographs of yarn.

This yarn was purchased with the intention of making a short scarf that tucks through itself, sort of like this. (Actually, that picture is really cute.) So...I began knitting and it turned out to be nothing close to what I had imagined. I've now ripped the whole thing out. Meh. With the colors in this yarn it's just asking to be made into something leaf-inspired, but I just haven't arrived at the right design for it yet. I'm having knitter's block.


come on get higher

Here is my mysterious project that was to combine two very dissimilar yarns: a silk DK (Louisa Harding Grace Hand Dyes) with super chunky wool (Colinette Point 5). I had planned to knit the silk at a very loose gauge and use the wool intermittently, then stretch the whole thing over a painted canvas. Well...I started knitting and was happy; I painted the canvas and was REALLY happy; then I tried to put the two together and it was just too much. The parts were so much better than the whole, so I'm scrapping the thing temporarily at least. I'm totally okay with it, though- I have yarn I can use for another project and I have a sweet canvas to hang on my wall. Another win-win.

People tell me all the time that they're not creative, that they're not good at mixing colors...the truth is, I don't think of myself as being particularly remarkable with the whole thing either. One of the best lessons I ever learned in knitting was that there are no rules. Hear that? NO RULES. I mean, there are guidelines (sort of like the pirate's rules, for those of you who like Pirates of the Caribbean). My thinking is that you should know "rules" (regarding gauge, needle sizing, fiber behavior) so that you know how to break them properly; or if not to break them exactly, at least where to bend them. Instead of saying no to a combination that you THINK would be bad, why not try it? That's how I arrived at my acid green/cerulean/violet combination above...and it works. Not everyone might like it and that's okay, just as long as you're not prohibiting yourself from taking chances that could make you happy.

That all being said, I'm going to go find a cup of coffee and a new knitting project. And if that means combining ridiculous colors and/or paint, all the better. You can chalk this whole post up to caffeine in my bloodstream if it helps too!


don't wanna dream if it won't come true

The economy is bad. Waste not, want not, right? What happens when you want to a) support your local yarn store and b) need to use up a spare bottle of hair dye? A step-by-step guide.

Step 1: Shopping. I bought one hank of Plymouth Yarn's "Dye For Me"...a lovely alpaca/wool/nylon fingering weight yarn. I had planned on buying sock yarn from Skacel (also undyed, but similar to your average commercial sock yarn in composition) but then I saw this. I love Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine, and although this is spun a little differently, it is, compositionally, very similar...and with 477 yards per skein, I have some flexibility as to what I want to make.

Step 1.5: Continue shopping. I stopped at the grocery on the way home, and much to my delight they sell a "Value Vinegar" for only 56 cents! I don't know if you can see the price tag, but I think that is the single cheapest item I have ever purchased at a grocery store. Score! Probably not the best vinegar for cooking...but for my purposes it'll do just fine.

Step 2: Frighten your friends and roommate. I soaked the yarn in a 25% vinegar solution overnight. I had also happened to make bread dough earlier in the evening and was waiting for it to rise...so pictured above are the two of the most disgusting looking tupperware containers I could possibly have in my kitchen. They also smelled a little: yeast + vinegar = a bad combination. I guess it could have been worse; the weather was nice, I opened the windows and we survived.

Step 3: A dream deferred. I had purchased this pink hair dye in hopes of getting a few pink streaks put in...but alas, when you work at a job with dress code rules (meaning "no unnatural hair colors"), sometimes you have to postpone your dreams. Which means: when I give my 2-week notice, I'm scheduling myself for a hair appointment pronto. But for now, why waste that pink hair dye? I slathered it all over my new yarn and microwaved it! What was the worst that could happen?

Step 5: What have you learned? I have to say I was disappointed with the result (at first). I decided to rinse the yarn (based on directions from the dye bottle), and I'm glad I did...nearly ALL the color came out! I thought heat-setting it for 5 minutes in the microwave would make the yarn absorb a lot more color. I rinsed and rinsed and rinsed...and came away with a petal-pink, feminine, fluffy alpaca that is rapidly gaining my affection. Now I have to admire it every time I walk past, and I'm already mulling over its ideal application. I guess I'm not really a candidate for beauty school, but knitting I've SO got down.


urban landscape

Half gloves are so useful: whether it's for biking, climbing chain-link fences, urban adventures, rural adventures, cool weather when mittens or full gloves would be too warm...

In short (like the fingers), these gloves are practical above all else. And pretty sweet.

You might recognize these socks as well...


my favorite words were the ones i couldn't spell

One of my favorite things about knitting is the way you can use color: whether it's through fair isle patterning, combining novel colors, or beautiful hand-dyed yarns. Inevitably I was drawn to experiment with dyes myself...and by using Wilton Cake Icing Dye, I was able to create a few colorways of my own. I used single skeins of Kraemer Yarns' Jeannie, a wool/nylon sock-weight yarn that could be ordered au natural. These turned out pretty bright (especially the neon green one, I was limited by the colors I could mix with an introductory dye pack), but they're still quite attractive. At least...I think so! Sock yarn is a pretty safe way to experiment because you can get a whole pair out of a single skein. I knit a lot of socks (who doesn't?) and thus this is a win-win situation.

The other nice thing was that having all this sock yarn (and the need for knitted samples so I could show classes what their dye work would look like) forced me to knit lots of pairs of socks. In so doing, I discovered many details that comprise my ideal sock. No two pairs are alike, but by the third pair I was thoroughly satisfied with the design. Factors included length of cuff, ribbing placement on top of foot, toe shaping, heel method, etc. I'm just a little OCD.

Pictured here is my fearless photography supervisor...concentrating as any serious artist should. Most of the photos on this blog are my own, but in the coming days and weeks you'll see more of his photos posted. If you like biking- should I say cycling- check Cyclist 17's photo blog to see what landscapes via bike look like. He's just humoring me by helping with the yarn thing!


by all counts, a festive occasion

My father's birthday sweater, modeled by the recipient himself...on his birthday! The picnic table is also handmade, homemade. Except, well, I didn't make it so I can't take credit for it at all. I can still say it's pretty cool and that we had a delicious birthday dinner served upon it, though. The sweater was perfectly appropriate, especially considering the weather on Sunday- it was cold! So we built a fire and cooked out, plus Dad got to wear the sweater and not be too hot.

It's amazing how quickly knitting gets done when you put yourself (or myself, as this case would be) on a deadline; by limiting myself to this one, singular project for a week, I got an unfinished project out of my closet and my Dad got a sweater that looks great on him and fits well. I still can't say enough about Pure and Simple patterns. Big, big fan.

I also have to thank, again, all my Kniterary Club attendees. You guys are fabulous. I'm so glad I got the opportunity to meet everyone and share ideas; I'm sure we will meet again and I can't wait to see what everybody will be working on. I really couldn't come up with ideas without inspiration from knitters around me! So, although the group itself is on hold for a while, I still feel like Sunday was a great day to celebrate birthdays, new friends, knitting, and spring. (That of course means sparklers.)


the first 100 days

If you remember, this scarf was featured on my very first post. I wrote a little about the knitting and techniques that went into its design, but it's extremely difficult to photograph properly because it's so long! Finally, pictures that show the entire scarf.

I know the Obama-mania has died down some, and I also realize the dangers in knitting a dated object. However, I wanted to knit something to commemorate the historic election and an administration I was legitimately excited about. (For anyone who doesn't agree with my politics, it's still a pretty cool scarf and I don't mean to offend anyone.)

As far as knitting goes, this is knit double (meaning both sides at once), and the scarf is totally reversible. I used worsted-weight wool, combining Plymouth Galway and Cascade 220 to get the right colors. I charted the entire thing out before I started knitting, thinking that, in doing so, I would reduce the opportunity for error. Well...no...designing is inherently frustrating, but I would not wish this chart on anybody. Knitting the design on one side was hard enough, but reversing it on the other side at the same time was just ridiculous. I don't know if I would wish this upon anybody! But you bet I'll be wearing it no matter what year...if only because it's one of my proudest knitting acheivements...but I really hope it will be to show continued support of our administration. I still think that yes, we can.


test of endurance

It's done! The sweater is done.
I did it with three days to spare, I am ecstatic that I can move on to the many projects that I've been thinking about (whilst knitting this sweater grudgingly and wishing I could be knitting any number of them instead).
Just wait till Sunday when I actually have time to start these projects in earnest- the combination of new knitting and coffee equals euphoria.


a sad announcement

Well, it's been a great couple of weeks for the Kniterary Club group...we've been meeting since March 1st at Old Village Yarn Shop. Sadly, this weekend (May 17th) will be our final gathering. Of course, my blog will go on...as will the concept and practice of Kniterary Club. It might relocate, recalibrate, re-think knitting and art, but there will always be large quantities of amazing yarn and always, always there will be coffee.

Above is a picture from May 3rd's Kniterary Club. I had received a request for a group project, so I came up with the idea to knit nametags! We all graphed our ideas and then used scrap yarns to knit them. I am always astonished to see how different people react to the challenge and how they realize their ideas. (It's also my philosophy that nothing can go wrong when you have a 50-pack of Crayola markers to share, either.)

See everybody on Sunday. Let's knit.


we rarely practice discern

It was so pretty I couldn't help myself. Several weeks I've been admiring this yarn (Berroco's Mica, of previous omg-gushing post), and finally I have my hands on lots of it. This time it's the creamy off-white color, shown here gleaming in the morning sun. My love affair for this yarn is so bad that I walk by and pick it up, admire it, marvel at it, then set it down and walk away dreaming of all the things I could knit with it. Since I'm trying so so hard to be good and knit only one thing at a time, I put this away in my closet to knit later.

As Annie said this weekend, "Caitlin, you called yourself out!" on the sweater below...it's only just begun...I have resolved to finish ALL the projects I have lying around. This is partially because they just need to get done and partially because I'm OCD and want half-finished knitting projects gone. This doesn't apply to current, active projects...just projects that I've stuffed away in my closet, in baskets, et cetera.

So far the sweater challenge is progressing: sleeve #1 is done, collar is done, sleeve #2 = 3" knitted, buttons purchased. 6 days.


hey, look! an unfinished project.

Look what I found!

Yeah, it's a mostly-finished sweater that really had no business sitting around as long as it did. I started this, like, two years ago now? That means I've packed this sweater up and moved it twice. This is unacceptable, and here's why (oddly enough, these are the same reasons it was never actually finished): it's easy to knit, all stockinette; it's a gift and SHOULD have been done within a reasonable time frame; and I'm not changing anything in the pattern, not a single thing! Wtf, right? Sometimes I really puzzle myself.

Here's the challenge: get this done by May 17th. 10 days!

Yarn used is Samoa, a half acrylic, half cotton blend by Muench Yarns. Normally I don't enjoy knitting with cotton, it just doesn't feel as nice as wool, alpaca, llama, etc. I feel my hands and arms getting more tired when I knit with it. The pattern is Pure and Simple's Neckdown Henley, as always P&S delivers a simple, user-friendly pattern that yields a very wearable garment (I don't mean that in the bland way that it sounds...P&S just provides great patterns for wardrobe basics, so even if you're a beginner you'll end up with a great sweater that you'll wear instead of hiding it away in your closet).

Wish me luck as I alternately drag my feet and knit furiously for the next few days.


feliz cinco de mayo!

Here are a couple leaves that I knit up the other day...since these two I've knit at least five more. It's easy to knit one up in just a few minutes and there's something so pleasing about them, I can't stop myself from chain-knitting leaves. This raised the inevitable question from my friends and knitting cohorts- "what are you going to do with all those?" It's a perfectly valid question since I often knit things just because I can without having an application for such things.

The yarn I used is Berroco's Ultra Alpaca Fine, which is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. It's a fingering weight alpaca/wool/nylon blend, nice enough to use in larger projects but still fantastic for socks. This yarn is a steal, too- it's only $10!

So what am I going to do with my fantastic alpaca leaves? Well, it's a surprise...but...it's going to involve the yarn pictured above. The brown is fair trade Eco Cotton from Debbie Bliss, the mustard color is Mulberry Silk by Louisa Harding. And those buttons...I have a weakness for buttons. They're going to be involved for sure.


moving along

Finally, pink socks are done!

So now we say goodbye to April as well as the now-familiar sight of my perfectly-heeled, pink, striped socks. Sigh of relief.

Spring always holds endless possibilities; I'm looking forward to big plans and crazy ideas for the immediate future.

Thank you to everyone who reads this, and especially all the ladies who attend Kniterary Club, you guys are fantastic. See you Sunday! (Don't forget your homework...)


is...that...a ziploc bag? can i have it?

This is what my knitting workspace looked like BEFORE I organized everything into miracle Ziplocs.

I mean, because really...without Post-It notes and Ziploc bags, I would not be able to function as a knitter. I would also be forced to class up and organize my knitting system, and we know that that just can't happen. Clearly.

But more importantly: KNITERARY CLUB HOMEWORK. At Annie's request, I have an activity planned. Plus this week we'll have a guest of honor, so everybody will have to be on their best behavior! Your homework is this: bring some needles and a couple colors of scrap yarn. You won't need very much. Also, if anybody has colored pencils, crayons, markers, or the like- please bring those as well.


i see the strings that control the system

Spring finally feels like it's really, really here. I have my window open- and will leave it open- all night for the first time yet this year. With the arrival of spring, I have sprung into about a dozen half-thought-out, new projects. One of these will feature the above yarn: this traveled to me from Ireland (a previous post featured genuine Irish aran yarn, this is from the same trip). It's Colinette Point 5, a hand-dyed chunky wool. The colors are stunning, this picture doesn't do them justice...since there's a relatively small amount of yardage per skein, I will be combining it with the yarn shown below:

This is another hand-dyed yarn, Louisa Harding's Grace. It's half silk and half wool, I've had my eye on this color ever since our first Kniterary Club meeting (the yarn itself I have loved dearly since it debuted). It was such a strange color that I was at a loss to find an appropriate project...besides, variegated yarns always pose more of a challenge by nature. The combination of these two yarns will be epic- either an epic failure (and expensive, and sad) or an epic success.

Springtime + coffee = higher likelihood of ridiculous knitting projects. Isn't it great???