Working from home has many advantages, one of which is the lack of coworkers in my space. (Not counting the cats.) I’ve had fun listening to podcasts as I get work done and, of course, I tend to be drawn to knitting podcasts. Today I thought I’d share with you some of the new-to-me podcasts I’ve been enjoying lately. The Bearded Purl I don’t have many male knitters in my life – many as in none – so it’s been fun watching a male talk about knitting on The Bearded Purl. Caleb lives in Wisconsin with his partner and he is far more crafty (and productive) than I am. He spins, he knits, he makes project bags….. Other topics include cooking and gardening. It’s really cool to see what Caleb is knitting and, perhaps even more so, what he is buying. He loves yarn as much as I do so I love shopping vicariously through him! So much fun! Fiber for the People This podcast by Tayler of Fiber for the People is so interesting! I just recently stumbled upon it when I was looking for yarn dyeing videos (don’t get me started on that topic). Tayler talks a lot about her yarn, Fiber for the People, and how it’s dyed, which I think is fascinating. She also shoots a lot of videos from her fiber studio which is really fun to watch. I’ve never really been interested in the dyeing process until recently and Tayler offers many videos on how those lovely skeins are made. I don’t own any Fiber for the People yarn but now I definitely want to buy some! Stacy Elstone Stacy is the dyer behind Stree Knits Yarn and she is just so adorable to watch. Her podcasts are filled with knitting triumphs and frustrations – and yarn – and I really enjoy them. She makes me happy and we all need some happy right now. Stress Knits Yarn is another yarn I’ve been eyeing for years but still have not bought. Stacy’s signature is soft, muted colors – and lovely speckles. All of her yarn is gorgeous and I really should choose her yarn for a sweater or other big project. There are several colorways that are irresistible. Others What are you watching during your quarantine? If you have a favorite podcast, please let me know!
My UFO confessions continue. Yes, I have quite a few UFOs (unfinished objects) but most of them are from my early knitting days. I started a lot of foolish projects back then. But one of them was very well thought out. My Ripple Blanket started in a class that I took from a LYS that went out of business a few years ago. It was a good class and I’m glad I took it. But more on the blanket… How It Started Though the class labeled this blanket as a baby blanket (the pattern is Edith’s Baby Blanket by Edith Eig), I decided to knit it as a general throw. The yarn that was recommended, Berroco Comfort, came in some lovely neutrals and browns, so I decided on a neutral palette. Knitting This pattern was a bit iffy for me in the beginning, as a newbie knitter, but I quickly got the hang of it. It’s an easy knit now but it’s very repetitive. The main pattern is a feather and fan, which is lovely. When I first began this Ripple Blanket, I went about plotting when I would use what colors – the number of repeats for each color band etc. Thankfully, I wrote all of that down because now, I have no idea what my original plan was!! Going Forward A few years ago, I had the bright idea of taking this to work so that I could knit on it when I had free time at lunch. But I quickly grew bored with it – and took my Fade instead. So I need to just force myself to work on this. I do like it and want to finish it. The great thing about this Ripple Blanket is that it would go well in two of the rooms of our house. I had no way of knowing that when I started this blanket, long, long ago. So, that’s a definite boon to finishing this project. I’d say I have about two more feet of this blanket to knit, but I’m not quite sure. I want it to be at least a lap throw so it doesn’t have to be huge. One thing I must do is switch out the needles. This is on Knit Picks interchangeable needles and the cables keep coming unglued from the needles. (When I called Knit Picks about this several years ago, they were very unapologetic, basically saying, “What do you expect from needles after a few years?” Um… I expect them to not fall apart!) So changing needles will decrease the stress of knitting this project – because I’m constantly afraid the cord will come undone and I’ll lose all my stitches! Stay tuned on this project. Maybe I’ll get it finished – in a year or two!
The summer is flying by. And I’m happy it is. I don’t much enjoy Texas summers. Heat is not something I’ve ever enjoyed. I’m more of a fall/winter girl. But at least all this confinement to air conditioned interiors has made me make a lot of knitting progress. I don’t have any FOs this month – so far – but I’ve made great progress on some WIPs (works in progress). Let me tell you more…. Habitation Throw This lovely pattern from Helen Stewart is my lunchtime knitting during the work week. I try to do about 30 minutes a day…but sometimes meetings and errands interfere. Still, I’m loving my progress. I’m now on my sixth mini skein and need to wind more of them! I love choosing which colors to knit up next! Must Stash Traveling Socks These socks have gotten little love, though I have finished the cuffs of both. And yes, I always knit two socks at a time on two different needles. I hate the thought of finishing a sock and having an entire other one to knit. Cloudesley Wow, I’m almost done with my second ever sweater! I’ve started the bottom 2.5” border of this sweater. I added a few increases to take my hips into account – because, female here – but that’s the only adjustment I’ve made. We’ll have to see how long the short-sleeves are….they may have to be shorter. Because, Texas. Stillness Shawl MKAL Clue #5 – the final clue – was just released on Thursday and I’m loving it! Everything about this shawl has been so much fun. There have been so many techniques and, combined with three different colors of yarn, there’s now way to get bored with it. Plus, having so much to knit each week definitely keeps you on your toes. I very frequently finish a clue on Wednesday, just before the next one comes out on Thursday. So I’ll try to finish this shawl by Thursday. Wow! What’s Next If I can finish up the Stillness Shawl and Cloudesley in the next few weeks, I want to get something short and sweet done. I may finish that Market Bag I told you about; getting rid of a UFO sounds very appealing. But something else may catch my eye before that. We’ll just have to see! What’s on your needles? Is it making you happy?
Wow, this MKAL is flying by! Really, where does the time go? We’re now on to Clue #4 – out of a total of 5 clues! Wow! Helen Stewart’s (of Curious Handmade) Stillness Shawl has been so much fun to knit. And, I’ve even conquered a stitch that I feared I’d never be able to do. So, I’ve learned a new skill in the process, which is great! Let me tell you more…. WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD. If you do not wish to see the first clue mostly knit up, do not proceed. Clue #2 I was a bit nervous about this clue when I heard there was lace involved. But I’m learning not to fear lace; I’m also learning the joy of using stitch markers for lace. So this section ended up being not as difficult as I feared. It was also a nice change from just knitting and purling. The lace used my dark purple so I hope it looks better blocked than it does now. And I’m loving the grey and variegated stripes. So much fun!! Clue #3 When this clue came out, I skimmed through the instructions and felt a ball forming in the pit of my stomach. Though the initial stitch definitions did not include a STAR stitch, this was suddenly in the instructions. I watched the video tutorial and sure enough: k3tog is part of the STAR stitch. I loathe k3tog. I first encountered this stitch in a pair of fingerless gloves that I ditched after being so continuously frustrated with this stitch. I’ve tried it again in socks and just can’t do it. So I was terrified. Thankfully, the Ravelry community came to my rescue. When I posted about my troubles, the members of the Curious Handmade group offered many wonderful suggestions to help me out. I was overwhelmed by the helpful comments! And I figured out how to do k3tog! I tried several tricks, including using a smaller needle but then discovered I could do the stitch without it. I think having a bigger needle – instead of US 2 needles (for socks) – is the difference here. Next Up Clue #4 was just released and these rows are getting long. They’re so long that I have to take breaks in the middle of them to help my hands. Eek! But I’m loving this shawl and the colors. They wouldn’t have been my first choice and the yarn is definitely not as soft as I’d like…. But the shawl design is lovely. Helen Stewart is such a master of shawl and sock patterns. If you’re doing this Stillness Shawl MKAL, I hope you’re enjoying it as much as I am! If not, I highly suggest it or any of Stewart’s patterns!
I’m continuing my confession posts as I run through some UFOs (unfinished objects) that I’m guilty of not having picked up in years. It feels good to tell you about these projects, but it will feel better to make some progress – or decisions – regarding them. One such project is Kim Hamlin’s Rectangle Shawl. This was the first shawl I ever cast on and I do like it….. How It Started I’m pretty sure this yarn and pattern was a kit from an online yarn store that is no longer in business. The yarn is so wonderful: Blue Sky Alapaca’s Alpaca Silk (50% Alpaca/50% silk). And, thankfully, I still love the color – Light Purple. This project was very exciting to cast on. I felt like a real knitter when I cast it on in – cough! – 2007. Yes, I was a newbie knitter and I didn’t always make the best decisions in regards to projects. This shawl has languished for so long that I took the needle out of it! Good grief! Problems This pattern contains a simple stitch repetition that may be very boring for me now. Back in 2007, though, the pattern was ideal for getting more comfortable with the basic stitches. The main problem I had with Hamlin’s pattern was figuring out how to do yarn overs back in the newbie days of knitting. No, this pattern would not cause me problems now, but there were definitely some things that confused me as a new knitter. However, it was a chance to try new things and get more comfortable with knitting, though I sure didn’t get very far with this shawl. Going Forward Though I love the idea of this shawl and the simplicity of the pattern, I worry that it’s too simple to keep my interest now. One thing is certain: I must knit with this yarn. It is so luxuriously soft and decadent! But do I want to knit this Rectangle Shawl? If I did, I’d probably rip out what I’ve already done. It’s not much and I’m sure my newbie mistakes would annoy my seasoned-knitter self. So I just have to decide if I want to knit this. Please let me know if you have any thoughts or suggestions? I clearly need them as I’m undecided!
Confession time…. I have some UFOs (unfinished objects) that have been languishing in knitting purgatory for some time now. And by time, I means years….and years. Yes, some of these projects are a bit embarrassing to admit to. But one of my undocumented goals for the year is to actually finish one of them. That one may be my market bag. Of all the UFOs I have, there are two that I may actually try to finish. I’m going to tell you about them in the coming weeks. First up – the String Bag by Erin Vaughan. How It Started I began this bag, I think, as a class at a LYS….in 2008. Yes, 2008. I was still new to knitting and trying to expand my skill base. A good way to do this seemed to be by making a bag. This was when market bags were all the rage. The yarn, Ty-Dy Cotton from Knit One, Crochet Too, is lovely to work with…soft and pliable. In fact, I wish I had more of it and more bags knit with it! Problems I had a lot of problems with this pattern. It was a bit complex for me at the time. The main body of the bag is made with a Turkish Stitch, which is not difficult (k2tog, YO constantly)….but when you’re a newbie knitter and you make a mistake with these stitches, it’s hard to fix. However, I got through most of the body of the bag, with mistakes, and was completely overwhelmed by the instructions for the strap. Remember: newbie knitter. The skills in my handbag at the time numbered very few. Going Forward Given all my knitting experience since 2008 – ahem, 12 years ago – I think I can finish this project. I have no desire to rip it out and begin anew. The mistakes I made are reminders of what it was like to not know how to fix mistakes. It was a learning process, after all! This would be a lovely little bag to have for groceries or shopping…or fiber fests, if we can ever venture out in public again. So I’m definitely not going to frog it. I’ll finish it – and you have to hold me to that statement!
As I mentioned recently, I decided to join my first MKAL (mystery knit-a-long) this month. The Stillness Shawl, from Curious Handamade’s Helen Stewart, was advertised as a relaxing knit with which you could enjoy the simple pleasures of life. And, mostly, it’s been as described. Today, I’m going to give you an update on my progress – though only the first clue has been released. WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD. If you do not wish to see the first clue mostly knit up, do not proceed. Yarn The pattern called for three skeins of fingering weight yarn. Though I love buying yarn, I decided to use something from my stash. When Stewart suggested two solid colors and one speckled color, I knew I was in trouble; I just don’t have that many solid skeins of yarn. But I had a three-skein set of yarn from Madelinetosh, which I’ve had in stash for forever. The fiber content (75/25) is not my first choice for shawls, but I can make do. And the colors are great – purple, grey, and purple/white with a dash of red speckles. Clue #1 The first clue came out on Thursday; the next clue will come out tomorrow. I’d hoped to be done with clue #1 by the time I wrote this post, but life has been a bit hectic this week. I’m almost done – I just have a bit more to go. And I’m loving it so far! Look at this! Stewart suggested using a more subtle yarn with which to knit that interested texture stitch you see in the gray at the top. It looks really cool….but I’m not enjoying that particular stitch. The more I knit – as in hours every day – the more my hands start to hurt, naturally. And that stitch kills my hands. If there is more of it in the pattern, as the shawl gets bigger, I may have to figure out something else. Other than that, I’m really, really enjoying this pattern, especially the colorwork. I haven’t done that much striping in shawls and it’s so much fun! One helpful thing: I happened to hear about Stephen West’s easy way of weaving in ends as you go and it’s wonderful! Up Next Clue #2 comes out tomorrow so I need to hurry up and finish clue #1! I really want to stay on top of the clues and not fall behind! Eek! If you’re doing the MKAL as well, post a photo of your progress! I’ve seen so many different color combinations and they’re all gorgeous!
June has flown by and life has been a bit chaotic, which is strange considering “life” is now lived completely within four walls with only one other individual. But it’s been strange, with odd challenges. Knitting has been a comfort and a joy – a much needed respite in trying times. My WIPs have been coming along, and I even have a few FOs! So let’s jump in… FOs Not one, but two finished objects!! Must Stash Socks….. These socks are a gift – and are now a FO! Yay! I love finishing gifts and this one is done! These turned out really well. The colorway is very unique and unlike most other Must Stash colorways. I’ll tell you more about these later! My Vanilla Socks are done! After about 8 months, these socks, knit in Gynx Yarn, are finally done! Since they lived in my car for so long, they didn’t get much love. But I brought them inside (I’m not in my car these days) and managed to finish them. So, an FO! Amazing! I’ll share these with you soon. Must Stash Traveling Socks Since I completed my Vanilla Socks, I needed another project for the car, and for traveling. While going through my stash, it occurred to me that I’ve never knit a pair of socks for myself out of my beloved Must Stash yarn. What a tragedy! So, I chose a colorway and casted on another pair of Vanilla Socks…but with a slight change. I’m using 9” circular needles, for the first time, instead of double pointed needles. We’ll see how this goes! Habitation Throw A month in and I’ve used a little over three mini-skeins. I’m loving this project so far. It’s a fun, relaxing knit. I try to work on this at lunch during the work-week, for about 30 minutes. Cloudesley My second-ever sweater is coming along nicely! I now have the sleeves of Cloudesley on hold and am working away at the body. I have about 8 out of the 12.5 inches done. Yay! I was a bit nervous about this pattern to begin with and am now pleasantly surprised at how easy it’s coming along. The cable section hasn’t given me any grief since the beginning and I really like the subtle variances in the yarn color. Stillness Shawl MKAL This has just started, yesterday, in fact. I haven’t made much progress. I did about 12 rows and then had to rip it all out and start over. Very frustrating! I’m loving the pictures in the spoiler thread on Ravelry, so that’s a relief! You never know what you’re going to get with a mystery knit-along, after all! What’s Next Since I just started the MKAL and have work to do on Cloudesley, I’m not thinking ahead to next projects. It’s a bit overwhelming right now, but in a good way!
Not long ago, I started a yarn organization project (this is second part in a two part series). It kind of coincided with the beginning of our quarantine, which was nice. But my guest room closet was overflowing with skeins of yarn – and bits of skeins. It was ridiculous. I had no idea what I had or where anything was. So I pulled everything out. And started organizing. Full Skeins Do you like playing with your stash of yarn? I do – but I rarely get the opportunity because it’s so disorganized. Well, it was disorganized. I keep my yarn in plastic bins. But I had the bad habit of just throwing purchased yarn into the closet without adding it to the bins, mainly because the bins were overflowing. So I pulled everything out and organized the yarn by weight and fiber content. It’s not perfect but it’s so much better than it was. I also took all the yarn of the plastic baggies and shipping bags. (This was also a bad habit I had – keeping the original packaging! But some dyers use the cutest bags….like, llama bags!!) Scraps The process of weighing and labeling all of my yarn scraps took time – serious time. But it was so worth it. I had no idea what I had left because it was so scattered. I found leftovers from some of my very first knitting projects, which was fun. And some unidentifiable skeins (though only one in reality, which was amazing). For Christmas, I asked for these metal wire baskets, which I thought would be perfect for my yarn scraps. And they are! I dispersed them throughout my guest room, so all of our overnight guest can look upon my glorious yarn. Ha! In reality, these baskets were perfect for the yarn. My fingering weight yarn scraps filled two baskets. The other holds DK and Aran weight scraps. And the scraps I had leftover were able to fit in one of my half-empty yarn bins. Conclusion Since I’m a very OCD, Type A person, having my yarn finally organized is a great relief. I can now go into my guest room closet without feeling overwhelmed and defeated by my yarn stash. And hopefully our overnight guests will appreciate my hard work, as well.
I don’t crochet. I can barely use a crochet hook to pick up stitches. I don’t really like the look of anything crocheted and have never had any interest in learning how to do it. (Though, I did take a basic crochet class once, in the hopes of learning how to pick up those stitches just a bit easier.) Until now. I’ve fallen hard for the Battenberg Blanket from Sandra Paul and may just have to figure out how to use that darned hook after all! Scrappy Blanket Recently, I was listening to one of my favorite podcasters, Dunder Knits, who mentioned being a bit obsessed with crocheting granny squares for a blanket. That blanket was the Battenberg Blanket. When I saw that blanket – well, it was love at first sight. Now, to give you a bit of background…. Many knitters knit or crochet blankets with leftover yarn – hence the scrappy blanket reference. It’s a great idea and, as you know, I have tons of yarn scraps. But most granny square blankets – the knitted ones – look a bit messy to me. There’s no rhyme or reason to the squares and I don’t really find them to be pretty…though I love the idea. Battenberg And then I saw Sandra Paul’s Battenberg. The idea of using one neutral color to unite all those little squares…. Combined with the delicate stitch definition that goes throughout the entire blanket…. And the border – the gorgeous border all the way around…. Well, that solves the messy problem in my OCD brain. Sandra Paul originally knit this to fit a king-sized bed. Can you even imagine knitting – er, crocheting – that many squares?! Crocheting To get that delicate stitch that unites all the squares, I have to learn how to crochet a little square. Thankfully, Sandra has a tutorial. But since my crochet class was 10 years ago, I don’t even know basic crochet terminology. So….can I teach myself to knit these little squares via YouTube? I think I’m going to have to try… Stay tuned!