Mr. Q meets Ms. Stash

I think we can all agree that Ravelry is a handy-dandy tool for managing our knitterly holdings (yarn) and desires (queue and favorites). So handy, in fact, that I can tell you with absolute accuracy that I have 127 musthaveknitwantnow projects in my queue and 175 yarnalicious entries in my stash.

Surely I need not more yarn or patterns or projects added to said lists. But I do need, I do, I do, I do (and stop calling me Shirley).

Like many other knitters (c’mon, fess up – I know you’re out there), I continue to add to my yarn stash aka curated collection on a regular basis. And preeeeety much every day, I see more projects I want to knit. Just this morning I downloaded the VK Early Spring 2017 edition to my iPad – this baby is so fresh, it’s not even up on the VK website OR Ravelry yet. There are two patterns there that I. Want. To. Knit…NOW. See how it happens? In a needle-click, 127 becomes 129.

I want to use up my stash…I really do…at least some of it…before I buy more…well, before I buy much more.

So, with all those dreamy projects in my queue and all those scrumptious yarns in my stash, this should be a piece of red velvet cake, right? Yeah, riiiiight.

Examples, anyone? Of course.

Here’s #1 in my Rav queue: Amy Herzog’s Cable Front Pullover from VK’s Late Winter 2017.

Herzog - cable front pullover Get this – I HAD the yarn for this. I had the exact yarn the pattern called for. I even made a note in that notey space when I added the project telling myself that I had the exact yarn in my stash.

I used it. I’m knitting with it right now. Am I knitting this? Nope. Am I knitting anything in my queue with it? Nope. I’m knitting Harvest Cardigan by Tin Can Knits. (I’ll show it off when it’s done.)

But never minding that bit of foolishness, among those 175 yarns, there must be something else that would do the job. Something the right weight (aran), right color (flattering for me), and right amount (approx 1600 meters).

No dice. Not enough yardage in anything either aran or worsted weight.

Next!

#3 in queue is a pretty open weavey summer-type shawl: Stella by Janina Kallio

Specs: Fingering, 343 meters of main color, 217 meters of contrast color. My notes say I was gonna frog my Penrose Tile shawl for this, which is weird because I really like that shawl, especially after I re-worked the cast off edge so it’s nice and stretchy. So, back to shopping in the ole stash-a-roni…

Now, I have alotalotalot of fingering yarn (53 stash entries). Mostly single skeins, but that’s cool because fingering usually has good yardage and so one skein of each color would almost certainly suffice. Buuuuuutttttt…I had a b*tch of a time finding a combo I liked. Here’s what I came up with that maybe possibly might be inspiring:

The blue Rustic Fingering for the main and the grey Spud & Chloe for the contrast. It’s a smidge dark, but with all the open mesh work, I don’t think it would end up looking too heavy.

So, okay, but I’m not jumping up and down.

After scouring my queue for an inspiring pairing, I came across this little number (specifically #81 in my queue), which I am pretty keen to crack open – and it’s even seasonal (unlike the aran sweater I’m smack in the middle of…in April).

This is Sel Gris by Claudia Eisenkolb.

Sel Gris

It’s a simple silhouette, with a bit of interesting detail, but I wanted a nice clean palette on which to paint with a blend of Shi Bui Linen and Schachenmayr Tahiti gradient:

The Tahiti knits up like this:

Before and After Scarf

 

So I expect it to be spectacularly fresh and summery blended with the white linen.

(P.S. – this is my Before and After Scarf)

I could carry on with this exercise for hours, but it’s my bedtime now (seriously, it is).

How would you pair up your stash and queue?

 

I hope your weekend is full of chocolate eggs, fuzzy bunnies, and lots and lots of knitting!

I’ll have a little Easter treat for you (calorie-free) by the end of the weekend.

Knit well,

Knicoleknits

The Unbearable Cuteness of Baby Knits

Tiny shawl collar cardigans, wee work socks, miniature sweater vests. Yup – super cutey cute cuteness. There’s no denying it. I’m as guilty as anyone of scrolling through a highway of Pinterest posts, saving, queuing, liking, and cooing over dozens and dozens of sweet little baby knitted stuffs.

AND I now have two, not one, but TWO, precious little grandchildren…cute as bugs in a rug, tugging at my heart strings (especially the ones attached to my internal knitting needles).

So why oh why do I hesitate to knit baby stuff?

I know. You are at this very moment emphatically telling my blog post that I HAVE knit baby things. In fact, more than a few. But really, the honest truth is that I could have knit waaaaaay more than I have. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay more.

Despite all the purchased and queued patterns, despite the pretty stacks of woolly skeins, something thwarts my motivation to actually cast on and knit. However, after writing and rewriting this post, and a smidge of self analysis, I may have sussed it out. I think, maybe, possibly, perhaps, I don’t, way down deep in my heart, believe that knitting baby things is really worthy of my time. There, I said it. (I’m going to get mail over this)

Here’s my (admittedly lame) argument. While baby things are cute, take small amounts of yarn, and are mostly reasonably quick knits, how practical are they really?

Babies grow fast. Unfreakingbelieveably fast.  Even if I make stuff a size or two bigger than the current size of the baby, realistically the baby will only wear the item a handful of times before it can’t anymore. And, I also have a sneaking suspicion that the adult recipients of the baby knits I gift are reluctant to even let the little drooly, spit-uppy nibbling wear the semi-precious hand knit – despite my insistence that it’s at least, in part, machine washable.

I don’t know. My pragmatic side just can’t get onside with using up all that precious knitting time for something that, while appreciated, is so briefly useful. Ya hear me?

However, having said all that, there is the unbearable cuteness factor. Watch how perfectly decent knitting is transformed when wrapped around a bouncing bundle of joy:

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Purl Soho’s Clean + Simple Baby Dress and the Meredith Baby Cardigan. Nice, yes?

Now, hold my martini and watch this:

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Infinitely more cute, right? And besides, so maybe it only gets worn once or twice…

I’ll have these photos forever.

Cheers,

Knicoleknits

Steek Learning Curve

I am such a smarty-pants-know-it-all. Patterns, shmatterns – when you really know what you’re doing, they are just guidelines, right? Sometimes, even the smarty-pantsest of us need to follow direction and take advice. Especially when doing something we haven’t done before…

Steeks.

That sounds a lot like EEEEEK for a reason.

In case you’ve never encountered this term before, allow me to enlighten you. A steek is a panel of extra stitches added to the center front of a cardigan, which allows knitting the body in the round from hem to neckline. Then, when you’re done knitting, you cut up the center of the steek panel to turn what looks like a pullover into a cardigan.

Did you catch that? You CUT through your knitting. Scary scary deal, even when you know what you’re doing.

The pattern is The Little Dude, and I knit it for my super sweet first cousin-once-removed. His mom and her sister are a generation younger than I am and have been more like my nieces than my cousins. They rock and I love them and their off-spring and they deserve nice things.

Here’s what the knitting looked like before and after cutting the steek open:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yup. I cut right up the middle of that steek – and it didn’t go as well as it should have. Despite my prudent reinforcement by machine sewing through the stitches on each side of the center steek stitch, stuff unraveled way more quickly than I expected. In the end, I made it work and I learned some things, but there was much sweating and grumbling under my breath in the process.

There are two things I could have done to make my life, and this steek, easier to handle. The first one is that I should have followed the pattern designer’s oh so wise advice to NOT USE SUPERWASH WOOL when you’re going to cut through a steek. You see, there’s a reason those wooly fuzzy Fair Isle sweater are fuzzy and wooly. That fluffy halo you see on Shetland-type yarns is what gives the yarn a natural tendency to felt (which is why tossing your wooly knits into the washer and dryer will turn them into tiny, cardboard-like versions of themselves). That felting helps the stitches stay put and not want to slither out of formation the minute you turn your back. Superwash wool, however, has had the feltiness treated right out of it, so you CAN toss it in the washer with (sort of) wild abandon.

All that makes good sense, right? So surely I stepped away from my superwash stash and invested in some nice, fuzzy Shetlandy wool for this project…

Nope. I used superwash. I had it right there in my stash…all the right colors…and it’s for a baby, so it needs to be soft and washable…and besides, I wanted to start knitting RIGHT NOW! You know how that goes.

Now, having said all that, I now know that there’s something I could have done that would have made my bold yarn subbery more viable: more stitches in the steek. This pattern only called for 5 steek stitches. That’s one in the middle (that will end up cut in half), and two measly guards on each side. That may be plenty, if your yarn is sticky and fuzzy and won’t slither, but, as I discovered, it’s not enough for uncooperative yarn types. If I knit this again (and I might, cuz it’s cute), I would add at least two more stitches to the steek, probably three. This would allow a much bigger buffer on each side of the cut edge, and it would allow more fabric to roll under and stitch in place on the wrong side, which is very messy and upsetting when all the knitting is falling to pieces under your fingers.

So, there you have it. I made some mistakes, but they weren’t deadly. The sweater turned out quite nicely in the end…

And my cousin-once-removed looks pretty darn cute in it…

 

Next time, I might possibly maybe consider considering paying attention to pattern advice. Perhaps.

Knit well!

Knicoleknits

Shawl We or Shawln’t We? That is the Question…

Sorry about my absence (again) last week, but I was sick. Crazy sick. Stupid sick. I had the wickedmeankiller cold that ate Manhattan. This wasn’t just a cold, it was a Cold…dripping with icicles, frostbite, and phlegm. I do not exaggerate. I could breathe not – not through my sinuses filled with cement – not through my lungs filled lined with whatever blackish evil crud clogs bathtub drains. There was no relief, no cure. It was bad.

But I’m mostly better now, so yay! Let’s move on…

Shawls. Lacy, colorful, intricate, webby, wrappy, knitted masterpieces of loveliness. Ravelry, Instagram, and Pinterest abound with spectacular examples of prideful knitting prowess. They are a sight to behold.

Meh. Who cares?

That, folks, has been my prevailing attitude, since, well…forever. I have always eschewed shawl knitting. After all, I’m not a lacy, frilly romantic type. Nor am I an 80-year-old grandmother in a rocking chair, or a granola-munching earth-mother. Why oh why of why would I waste valuable sweater knitting time on something, although gorgeous and challenging, I would nevereverneverever be caught dead or alive wearing? Sense it made not to me (or Yoda).

HOWever…I am changing my tune. After all, there are shawls and there are shawls, yes? I can still admire the lacy, earth-mother, rocking chair-esque designs from afar and choose to knit brilliant, sophisticated, charming, wrappy accessories that flatter and speak to me. Allow me to demonstrate…

About two years ago, I broke my shawl embargo (all due to the persistent genius of Carol Feller) and knit this baby:

This is Carol Feller’s Penrose Tile. It’s a beauty, I’ll admit.

I wore it to work once or twice and received praise and admiration. I wore it to an event recently and received praise and admiration. Still, I felt mildly uncomfortable, because I was wearing, well, a shawl.

I know, I need help. Don’t fret, it’s coming.

 

 

As you know, I recently travelled to New York City for Vogue Knitting Live (oh yeah, and sightseeing and whatnot). Naturally, I needed something smallish and easy to knit on the plane. I was in a scramble in the few weeks before the trip to finish a test knit I had committed to in mid-December – a DK weight pullover with a hood (I know, I need to be certified. I’m not going to argue). I wrapped up the test knit the day before our flight and had to choose a travel project under IMMENSE pressure.

Back in November sometime, Interweave had kits for the Beacon Shawl on sale. I had admired the Beacon Shawl since its appearance in Knitscene Accessories 2015. I really liked the teal, and was feeling brave about breaking out of my comfort zone and knitting with yellow for the first time ever in my wholeentirelife, so I bought the kit. It’s modular garter stitch, and on the small side for a shawl, so it seemed like the right choice for my bring-with project. I’ve noticed that I’m often most attracted to shawls that are mostly or all garter stitch, so there was a good chance that I would at least…not…hate it.

I worked on it to and fro New York, and made myself finish it within a few days of our return. I slung it around my boring teal top, popped a snazzy shawl pin into place and… Wow! It looked great. Queue my shawl epiphany.

 

How about that? Not lacy, not grandma, not earth mother…all deco-esque me. Love.

I’m starting to see the light.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, as you may recall from my last post, while at VK Live, I became enamoured with Amor Esperanza’s CoLab Shawl, and I bought pattern and yarns and all things required to knit said project. The very minute the Beacon Shawl was off my needles, I got busy:

To say I am thrilled with its progress is an underunderunderstatment. I am fully infatuated. I stare and stare and stare at it and think of all the magnificent buildings I stared and stared and stared at in New York City. It’s genius. It’s sublime. It’s my New York shawl.

Congratulate me: I am officially cured of my shawl-a-phobia.

 

In case you want to, as my friend Kim would say, “creep” my project pages, here are my Ravelry links:

Penrose Tile

Beacon Shawl

Colab Shawl

In other news, I have started an uber-adorable toddler sweater for my cousin, once-removed (apparently I can also refer to him correctly as my nephew…go figure). This is a teaser:

Crazy cute, right? Should be well into it by next post, so stay tuned.
Have a great, knitful week!

Cheers,

Knicoleknits

VKLive New York New York!

Yes, I’ve been AWOL, but for a very good reason…really, honest, and for true.

My very perfect and wonderful HE (Husband Equivalant) surprised me on Christmas Day with tickets to NEW YORK CITY, which was incredible enough and brought me to tears…

And then…

I opened a box that contained an email telling me I was also registered for VOGUE KNITTING LIVE!!!!

I totally lost it – I screamed, I cried, I jumped up and down. I WAS GOING TO VK LIVE IN NEW YORK CITY!!!

I know, I’m yelling a lot, but that’s pretty much how it went.

We left on the afternoon of Monday, January 9, and arrived home on the red-eye way early this Tuesday morning. Seven action-packed days in the city, which included 100 km of walking and two full days at VKLive. I could have gone for a third day, but there was no way I was going back in that marketplace without putting a few more notches in my credit card, and there was so much more of the city to see. Sometimes sacrifices must be made.

You can see why I was a spendy-spenderson – there was sooooo much selection in the marketplace (it took up the better part of two floors of the hotel), it was a real challenge to decide which of the ten million skeins of yarn I could afford to make my own:

I managed to do a fair bit of damage in a few measly hours. Cha-ching, cha-ching. My credit card is still whimpering a bit.
I wasn’t through the door five minutes when I found Yarn Culture of New York, where at least a dozen amazing shawls caught my eye. I was most enamoured with Amor Esperanza’s design, CoLab. It must be a brand new design, because I couldn’t find it anywhere on Ravelry or her websites. I stuck with the light grey base, but chose some brighter accent mini-skeins from Molly Girl Yarn for the stripes .

This will be my official “New York” shawl. The best souvenir I could think of. I bought lots of other cool things, but I’ll share over the next few posts, because I don’t want to overwhelm you (or embarrass myself).

I am a HUGE fan of Purl Soho, and I tried and tried to get into their closet-sized booth in the marketplace, but it was always jam packed with drooling people, making it impossible to browse with any efficacy. So, on the day we were wandering around the lower east side of Manhattan, I made a point of steering us in the direction of their shop in Soho.

I knew I would be yarn struck there, but I wasn’t prepared for the crushing urge to leave with one of everything – EVERYTHING. I want it all – the yarn, the kits, the felted ornaments and animals and wreaths, the sewing kits, the weaving, the beads…every single item is stellar quality and stunning. Sigh. If you’re not familiar, I urge you to check out the website. Yes, the goods are pricey (especially considering the current state of the Canadian dollar), but lots of the patterns are free. I put the link above, but here it is again: Purl Soho Go. Now. Look. Tell me I’m wrong.

As for classes, I took a day-long Principles of Design course from Catherine Lowe. It was chock a block with info about designing, finding your esthetic, how to get work, and more. Sadly, the more I learn about knitting pattern design, the more I realize that it may not actually be something I want to do…at least not for income. Yet another craft industry where the designers/crafters are at the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to distributing the proceeds from the sale of the design. The short story is that you better love it, because you won’t get rich, or probably even self-supporting, from it. I may just stick with adding my own touches to other’s designs, or designing strictly for myself. Sometimes a little education is a dangerous thing.

I also took a simply marvelous class from Amy Herzog. Amy is a sweater fitting expert and I have most of her books. She is a wealth of knowledge. I wish I could have taken every one of her classes. She also had a table full of samples of her designs. They are reallyreallyreallyreally gorgeous, flattering, and wearable. Often when I see  lovely designs knit up, I’m disappointed because they don’t look as appealing as they did in the pattern photo – Amy’s work was the exact opposite. I wanted to knit and wear almost every single sweater on that table (and there was a BIG pile). Click on her name in blue there and check her out. She has my highest recommendation.

I wore my Acorn Trail cardi to the class, and she was most impressed with the collar I added:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think she’s very clever. Yay for sweaters, indeed!

Well, there’s lots more stories and catching up to do (I know, three week’s worth), so you’ll hear from me again before the weekend is out.

I’ve got knitting to do!!

Cheers,

Knicoleknits

Feelin’ Surprisingly Chill

I’m pretty sure I should be freaking out with anxiety-itis about now, but…nope.

Believe it or not, I’ve got things under control. Never mind that I just cast on my final Xmas gift today – I’ve got it in hand (literally – it’s a pair of fingerless gloves).

Last week, however, was a different story. Hence, the missed post last Sunday. Oh wells. I feel a smidge guilty about it, but the sky didn’t fall, so…we move on.

Here’s a few things I’ve been up to in the last fortnight:

Last year, my Wicked Step-Mother (aka WSM, and not a wicked bone in her body) gave me a variation of this ornament. Actually, she gave me two.

As I placed them on the tree this year, and marveled at their kniterly perfection, I realized that I could most certainlylikelypostively figure out how to duplicate them, AND that they would make perfect gifts for my knitter students at the office – especially since I had purchased a giant box full of blank ornaments intended for the lacy ones I feebly attempted a couple posts back.  Realizing I would need the tiny needles, which, after careful inspection, I realized were merely fancy toothpicks, I called on my buddy Amazon and ordered up 360 of the little suckers.

I was set!

That is, until I dug through my stash and found…nothing worthy. I wanted sparkly. I wanted fluffy. I needed fingering weight-ish. Didn’t exist. Yes, I could have shopped, but there really wasn’t time for that. So, I dug a bit deeper and found some Xmasy colors in a box of leftovers, repurposed the ball of Kidsilk Haze I bought to make the lace ornaments, and, by way of a flash of inspiration, scavanged my cross stitch supplies and found some gold, bronze, and silver blending filament.

For about two seconds, I contemplated knitting directly on the toothpicks. Nopeity-nope: too small, too rough, too short. Sheer madness. Turns out my 2.5 mm Addi Lace circs were parfait. So, with one strand each of the color, the Haze, and the blending filament, I went to town. A couple of fumbly attempts later, I had it down. Much to my delight, the little suckers only take about 20 mins from start to finish. Whoop whoop! Four days later, I had finished 20 of them.


They were such a hit with my studientos, that I’ve made four more since for some muggles (non-knitters) who gushed over them.

I lurve them very much. I’ll crank out a few for myself, when I’ve got time.

 

 

 

The cuteness is a little overwheming, I know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AND, I have something for the Cast Off department that’s been lingering in WIPPING for some while:

The Mason’s hat is Ta-Da!

I was having my doubts – it was taking forever to knit in 2×2 rib, and it seemed like it was going to be waaaaay toooo big. I just wasn’t sure I was feeling it.

Then, something magical happened…as I worked the crown shaping, it all came together and I started to like it, and like it some more, and the like it reallyreally a lot.

It’s ribby, squooshy, cabley deliciousness. However, heed this warning: THIS IS NOT A QUICK KNIT. Be certain that the recipient is worthy before committing to gifting this project.

As a bonus, the crown looks pretty cool, amiright?

Now, I just need to finish the Traverse mitts in the same yarn (this be what I cast on today) and I’m done this stellar gift! Wheee!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s actually more, but I big time need to get back to my needles tonight. Tick tock and all.

Hope you all have a super duper Merry Christmas, for those who celebrate such a thing, or a peaceful, relaxing day off, for those who don’t.

Next post will be tardy, as Sunday falls on Christmas Day, but I’ll do my best to get to it Boxing Day-ish.

I hope Santa brings you yarn xo

Cheers,

Knicoleknits

Brace yourself…

I made some ultra cute stuff this week. Seriously…you’re going to die.

I won’t even bother with a bunch of pre amble. Words can’t.

Here’s the knitted one:

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This is Pug With Anorak by Barbara Prime from her book, Fuzzy Knits. Bursting at the seams with so much adorable, it should be illegal. I even managed to accidentally make articulated arms and legs. That’s why he poses like a supermodel.

I took him to work last week to show my students and couldn’t let him out of my sight. Peoples were agog. They either wanted to steal him or buy him. I respectfully declined both options.

I will be sending him to a new home soon, but he has many friends in that amazing book, so some of them may end up adopted by moi, myself, and I. And, of course, I see many a sweet toy in my grandbaby’s futures. They are most worthy.

Now, this is the not-knitted one:

 

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I bought this fluffy little needle felted hedgehog Dimensions kit on Amazon. There is something so very satisfying about the speed and repeated stabbing involved in needle felting. Inevitable finger punctures aside, I really dig manipulating raw wool roving into cool things. About a million years ago (okay, three or fourish), I made these little otter buddies:

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I get happy just looking at them hugging their orangey starfish. don’t you? Next time you need a quick fix of adorable, try needle felting. It’s da bomb.

All other WIP projects played hookey while I was in critter creation mode this week, so this is the end of my report.

I hope you had a great week too, and your shopping and/or holiday knitting is getting done without <too> much stress and angst.

THAT day is coming closer…and closer…and closer…

Keep clicking,

Knicoleknits