A Few Of My Favourite Things: July Edition

Disclaimer: I haven’t purchased the sweater pattern or embroidery-hoop jewelry mentioned in this post, so I can’t give an opinion on whether I feel the pattern is well-written or attest to the quality of the jewelry. If you have this pattern, or this jewelry, let us know what you think in the comments. The straws were purchased by me with my own money. None of these products were given to me for the purposes of review. All opinions in this article are mine and I have not received any form of payment or compensation. The links in this article are not affiliate links, I don’t benefit in any way if you click them.

Sometimes on my travels throughout the world wide web I come across something so cool that I stop scrolling and stare for a few minutes.  The most recent thing that stopped me in my online tracks is this sweater, Ocean Waves by Hilde Sørum:

Ocean Waves photo credit: Hilde Sørum

Ocean Waves photo credit: Hilde Sørum

Is this gorgeous, or what? It’s in my queue. It’s available in English and Norwegian, so if Norwegian patterns are easier for you to read, you’re in luck!

A couple of weeks ago I came across a new-to-me-maker who makes awesome knitting jewelry with mini embroidery hoops! 

photo credit: MikiElliottDesigns

photo credit: MikiElliottDesigns

How cute are these?  MikiElliottDesigns makes them and I think they would be an amazing gift for knitters. It’s taking all my willpower not to order all the mini embroidery hoops on Amazon and spend my days using leftover sock yarn to make these. They can be brooches, earrings, necklaces, bookmarks, keychains...the possibilities are endless.  

Lastly, my family jumped on the no-more-plastic-straws bandwagon last year and earlier this year we finally found our new favourite metal straws

photo credit: amazon.ca

photo credit: amazon.ca

They’re inexpensive, they come both straight and bent, and they include washing brushes. We’ve been using them for about 6 months. I’ve only lost 1 so far (that’s really good for me). So, if you’re still looking for straw-alternatives, highly recommend them.

Have you tried any of these products? I’d love to know what you think!

WIP Wednesday

We are back from the cottage and I am happily resettled into my cozy, suburban nest.

I finished a thing.

I call it 'Solar Vortex'.  I knit the first one during the hottest week of the year and the yellow in the yarn is really bright and sunny.  Unfortunately, the photos do not do the lovely colour justice.  The yellow is bright and the grey is tonal ranging from light to very dark grey. The yarn is by a local-to-me dyer.  She owns a shop called The Black Lamb in Port Hope Ontario and her yarns are absolutely gorgeous!!

Also, the way the spiral pattern ends at the to reminds me of sunrays, so the name just picked itself, really.  Do you enjoy testing knitting patterns? I will be putting out a call for Testers in the Ravelry Tester's Group in the next couple of days,  It has been graded for three widths and is with the tech editor as we speak.  I have cast-on the second sock.  I am looking forward to wearing these.  I am not looking forward to cold weather, but having lovely, squishy, knitted stuff to wear kind of makes it bearable.

I have also made some progress on my Cecily Twinset:

I have about 5 more inches of easy-peasy stockinette before I start the lace border.  It's starting to look like a sweater!

And in news of the weird, it's pretty amazing I ever get gauge on any project when I am using measuring tapes like this:
The tape measure on the top is correct.  The tape measure on the bottom is f#@*ed!  Instead of each inch actually measuring 1 inch, it measures 1.25 inches.  I started to question the accuracy of this tape measure when I was knitting something that was six inches long.  It felt like I had been knitting forever, and it looked like six inches - I have an excellent eye for what six inches looks like (because of all the knitting I do - minds out of the gutter, people) yet the tape measure kept insisting my work was only four inches and a bit.

I purchased a few knit kits on ebay several months ago for a ridiculously cheap price, and now I know why they were so ridiculously cheap.  You get what you pay for!  I have since spent way too much time obsessively checking the accuracy of the dozens of tape measures I have stashed all over the house: in my purse, in my knitting bags, in the sofa cushions, under the furniture, you know how it is with tape measures and stitch markers, they just wander off.

Too Sick to Knit

So, apparently one can become too sick to knit.  I have an awful cold/throat infection/ear infection/fever combo that has literally knocked me off my feet.  The thought of even knitting something simple like stockinette stitch or plain garter is overwhelming right now.  The past few days I have mostly just laid around feeling sorry for myself and watching Netflix.

Prior to the viral-infection-from-Hell, I picked up my Cecily Twinset again and I am almost finished the first lace insert:
I love it.  It is going to look so pretty when it is blocked!

Here's how the entire cardigan is looking so far:
As modelled by the lovely Stella (we name our mannequins).  Fingering weight sweaters take a long time, people!

I also have some stash enhancement this week.  Knitpicks brought Felici back for a limited time in some limited colourways.  Felici has some strange power over me.  I become weak when it is available and have to order it.  As one knitter observed on Twitter, Felici has become the McRib of the yarn world.

So I ordered this:
My favourite is the 'Baker Street' colourway - I am a huge "Sherlock" fan, Husbeast picked the purple for socks for him and I picked the green for socks for me.  The orange is from the Knitpicks Dishie line.  I have never used Dishie, and it was on sale so I thought it was a good opporunity to try it out.  I have an idea for a market bag that this might work well for.  And a couple of little double-sided crochet hooks.  I use them as zipper pulls on all my Filofaxes (another expensive hobby I have) so that I always have access to them in case of  a dropped stitch.

Hopefully next week this viral-infection-from-Hell will be gone and I will have gotten some more knitting done.

A Hot Mess

So, it has not been a good knitting week.  I have been f#@&ing up all over the place.

Let's start with my Cecily Twinset.  This is what it looked like last week:
And here it is now:
That green and blue yarn in the photo?  That would be the lifeline that had to be installed because I messed up the lace insert so badly.  It's a mess.  I have had to rip back several rows.  The stitches are so tiny (8sts per inch) and there are so many of them (271 - well 267 actually but there should be 271) that I did not have the eyesight or mental fortitude to rip back two entire rows of lace, so I ripped back to before the lace chart.

A combination of trying to knit lace amid distractions kids and a failure to admit that stitch-markers are not a sign of weakness but actually a really helpful knitting tool that would have saved me time and tears is what led to this nightmare.  To top it off, it looks like I will have to cut the yarn that I ripped back and join a new skein.

Like any insane Knitter, I yelled at it and tossed it into the time-out bag to make sure it knows what it has done.  It has been in the time-out bag since Sunday.  I hope to be ready to look at it again today or tomorrow.

I have to finish ripping out the stitches and put the sweater back on the needles.  This time I will make full use of my knitting notions - stitch markers and wine.  Stitch-markers are important, people!
my favourite knitting tool
I was expecting to release the pattern for Gitter today, however since my math skills have declined to the point of non-existence, they are on hold.  I graded the pattern for 3 sizes.  I really messed up the math on the third size.  The numbers are so far off my tech editor has developed an eye twitch that I can sense from here (and she is in Boston).  Hopefully it will be available next week.

I did manage to get a sock off the needles this week:
It's lovely.  It was made for the husbeast.  By special request.  He really wants cotton socks.  I started them for him, then for reasons unknown made it to fit me.  Like a glove.  I don't know what I was thinking, but now I have a lovely cotton sock.  This is just a simple, cuff-down, heel flap, rounded-Kitchener-stitched toe.  The yarn is Patons Stretch in "Fruit Slices".  My husband would have loved them.  The second sock is in progress.  At this point I am just hoping to make them both the same size.

If you ever have a bad knitting day, knitting week or feel like tossing your needles out a window, you are not alone and I hope this post makes you feel better.  

Coming Soon, Sweater Progress and some Knitting Nostalgia

I have decided to publish Gitter:

Lots of knitters have asked me for the pattern, so I have written it, graded it for multiple sizes and it is currently with the tech editor.  It should be ready to go next week.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I have made progress on my Cecily Twinset:
I have separated for the sleeves, the bust darts are done and I am a few more rows away from the first lace section - Yay! This is the first pattern I have made by designer Snowden Becker and I must say it is wonderfully written.  Easy to follow directions, and lots of instructions to customize the fit.  For example, how to add more or fewer bust darts depending on your bust size, how to make the sweater narrower or fuller in the mid-section.  I love when designers acknowledge and accommodate for the fact that the majority of us do not fit neatly into a standardized sizing chart.  That's the whole point of knitting our own garments, right? Customization.

Also these little scrap blanket squares are totally addictive and seem to multiply like bunnies:
Knitting these little squares is like pulling out an old photo album - I reach into the bag, pull out a ball of leftover sockyarn and reminisce about the project I once knit with that yarn: where it is now, who I gave it to,  how much I enjoyed (or not) making it, where I got the yarn, who dyed it...it's all very nostalgic.

Knit All The Sweaters!

After many gauge swatches and having to go down 4 needle sizes (the pattern calls for 3.25mm and I ended up at 2.25mm) I have finally started my Cecily Twinset.  Here's how the yoke of the cardigan is looking so far:
The yarn is Gloss Fingering by KnitPicks in 'velveteen'.  The pattern is really well written.  Even though it is fingering weight and will take me forever, I am looking forward to watching it grow and take form.

Sweaters seem to be a thing that I am into now.  I am already planning more sweaters - my wardrobe can use some nice handknit sweaters so this is a practical way to feed my yarn addiction.

I recently ordered these:

Here we have  Knitpicks Wool of the Andes worsted in 'Amethyst Heather' and 'chocolate'  I am thinking the Amethyst would be great for Chance of Snow, and the chocolate for either Snowbird or Postgrad. I really like cardigans.  They are a staple for me.  I love to layer.  a tank top or t-shirt with a cardigan is my typical outfit 3 seasons of the year.

Next up on the needles - after Cecily - is Wink.  I love this sweater.  The moment I saw it on Ravelry I knew I had to make one.   I already have enough of this Cascade 220 Superwash in my stash to make it:
The colour is 'Charcoal'.

I also have  a lot of this discontinued Mission Falls yarn in my stash:
It is a 100% cotton, sage green colour with a lot of twist.  I believe t is either Aran/Worsted weight.  I will have to look at the WPI to know for sure.   I really love the colour and would love to have a sweater made from this.  I am open to ideas...if you have any thoughts please let me know.

I am also currently working on a design for the October issue of 'I Like Knitting' magazine and a pair of socks that I am undecided about publishing yet.  When they are finished, I will take some photos and see what other knitters think.

This weekend I am going to the Toronto Knitters Frolic (!) I have never been to the frolic before and I am so excited I can hardly sleep.  My husband and my wallet are both afraid, but it will be fine.  I am hoping to find some artisanal laceweight to make an EnPointe Pullover.  I am going to take cash.  Set a limit and stick to it.  I hope.

Sweater Surgery

Recently, I finished a sweater, and I love it.  It is awesome and I have worn it at least 3 times since it has been off the needles thanks to the long, never-ending winter we are having in my part of the world.  (I love to wear my hand-knits as much as the next knitter, but enough already - Spring would be a nice change of pace).  

As I wore it, I noticed the neck seemed to be growing wider and wider.  It got to the point that it was slipping off both my shoulders.  It was not working for me.  The yarn I used, City Tweed HW, by KnitPicks is soft and warm and heavy.  I think the weight of the bottom part of the sweater was stretching the crewneck into a misshapen boat neck.

Here is a picture of it before it was stretched out too badly:
It already exposed both my shoulders and this is before it really stretched out.  One of the reasons I made this sweater is to keep my shoulders warm, so I endeavoured to fix it. 

First I set up a lifeline on the first row below the neck ribbing.  I say "I", but my awesome Husbeast was a big help here.  He is very useful knitting-wise for a non-knitter,  

Once the lifeline was set up, we (mostly Husbeast) found the cast-on edge and ripped out the neck ribbing down to the lifeline.  Then I put the live stitches on needles one size smaller than the ones I used the first time.

Then I reduced the stitch count evenly over one row.  I made the 'M2' size,  I reduced the neck stitches to the stitch count in the 'XS' size.  Then I re-knit the ribbing for the number of rows called for in the pattern and cast-off loosely. 

 Ta-Da!  A smaller, better fitting neck!

Here is a post-surgical pic of me wearing the sweater:

I am wearing a black tank top under the sweater in this pic.  Notice how you cannot see the straps? Success!  There is no point in knitting my own garments if they do not fit exactly the way I want them to.  

On a completely unrelated note, I can now tell people that I am the sock designer for the March 2015 Blue Moon Fiber Arts, Socks that Rock, Rockin' Sock Club!  Yay! The pattern is called Equinox Socks.   I cannot share photos of the design, because the publisher has exclusive rights for now, but I look forward to seeing the sock club's subscribers' project photos.  

Selfish Knitting

It has been two years (at least) since I last knit a sweater. I don't knit from patterns very often.    I remember it well, it was Nanook by Heidi Kirrmaier.  It is a beautiful sweater and the icord type edge that she uses in the design is really neat.   Here are a couple of photos of my Nanook modelled by the lovely Stella (my dress form):

So after a two year hiatus I decided to cast on another sweater and lo and behold it happens to be by the same designer.  This time I am making Tea with Jam and Bread .  I think Heidi's designs are beautiful and use shaping techniques that make the garment flattering on me.

I am using an oatmeal colour as the main colour, a green as the contrast colour and a beautiful deep plum as the accent colour:

The collar and yoke knit up super quick and I am getting really excited to wear it.  In the pattern, she links to a short row tutorial that has changed the way I will do short rows from now on.  It uses yarn-overs in place of wrap and turns.  This seems much more intuitive to me than the other short row methods I have tried.   I hope to have this sweater finished by the end of  February.  Here are a couple of pics of the the neck, shoulders and yoke on Stella:

Are they a bit blurry? Sorry about that.  Those are iPhone photos.  Everything is blurry to me right now - I am not wearing my contacts and my glasses are on the end table across the room.

On another topic, I am still posting #WearYourKnitting sefies to Instagram and Twitter whenever I remember  possible. Well, KnitEcoChic has made a button that I am going to add to my sidebar to remind everyone to wear their knitting and brag about it on social media!