I love October. It’s the gateway month to my favorite time of the year, the holiday season. It also includes both my birthday and my dad’s birthday….so there’s always a reason to celebrate this month. It also means cooler temps – usually – here in Texas. Those cooler temps lead to more knitting and more WIPs…and hopefully more FOs. This month was dominated by a last minute, week-long trip to Colorado, which meant we got some much needed rest and time away from the home. (I love our home but I really miss traveling!) Now, on to the WIPs…. Habitation Throw I haven’t gotten as much done on this throw since I chose not to take it to Colorado…and I’ve been a bit distracted by a very colorful MKAL. But I’ve gotten some rows done and it’s almost time to wind some more mini skeins!! I’m also now, officially, halfway done!! Must Stash Traveling Socks I made some good progress on these socks, mainly when I was in between projects before the MKAL started. I’m still loving the bright stripes – they make me very happy. And I’m now committed to doing my first-ever afterthought heel. Oy. I’ll have to watch a video and take it slow when the time comes for that. I’m already nervous, just thinking about it! Learning new skill is scary!! Slipstravaganza I’ve talked at length about the Westknits MKAL. As of today, I’m into section 3, so I’m making progress, though I’m still behind. I’m loving how the colors are coming together and couldn’t be happier with my yarn choices. But this shawl is out there and I don’t think I’d choose to knit it if given a choice. However, Stephen West is a knitting adventurer and I’m learning so many new things to do with yarn and needles….it’s incredible! FOs I have two FOs since we last talked WIPs! I finished Dawn Barker’s Travelers Loop, which I’ll share with you soon. It was a blast to knit – so easy and yet so pretty and functional. I wore it all around Colorado and it was super warm and cozy! Soon I’ll be able to share with you a little something I made for a little someone who’s on the way. And no, I’m not having a baby. I knit for other peoples’ babies!! What’s Next After the Sipstravaganza, I want to try my hand at some mittens – real mittens. I’ve only knit fingerless mitts, so it’s time I conquered a thumb! I found some scrumptious yarn in Colorado that’s finally pushed me into making these. But there are so many more projects I’m eager to start! What about you? What are you anxious to knit?
It’s Westknits MKAL time!! This year’s mystery knit-a-long from Stephen West, Slipstravaganza, is well underway so I thought I’d give you all an update. If you don’t want spoilers, don’t read this post!! That being said, I’m already behind and haven’t started Clue 2 yet. Last week, we took a last minute trip to Colorado to celebrate the anniversary of our engagement there, in Rocky Mountain National Park. I got a surprising amount of knitting done on the trip, but still not as much as I would at home. So, I’m behind. And that’s fine! Clue 1 Stephen West’s annual mystery shawl knit-a-long is always a surprise. I have no idea what I was thinking going into my first Westknits MKAL, but this wasn’t it… Honeycombs! And striped honeycombs at that! Since I’m using variegated yarn for my contrast colors 1 and 2, the stripes aren’t crazy apparent. But they’re there. I actually really like how well they blend together. This entire shawl started with one long i-Cord and you then had to pick up all those stitches. I won’t lie: I hate picking up stitches. And I’ve learned that Hedgehog Fibres yarn splits so easily….. Picking up stitches can often lead to split yarn. But I managed and moved along. Bonus Clue Stephen surprised us all early last week by releasing a bonus clue. I’m only a little over halfway done with it but I love it so far. And again – this clue required picking up stitches. Really, I wish we would not have to do that! But I survived. At least I’m getting more comfortable with it. So the bonus clue gave us holes and a new texture that introduced contrast color 2, my lovely coral/pink from Emma’s Yarn. So pretty! And the name of the pattern is no lie – there are a ton of slipped stitches!! Clue 2 I have not started Clue 2 yet, but I know there are more honeycombs. In general, I don’t think I would choose to knit this pattern but I’m learning a lot of new techniques from which I’d usually shy away. And that’s the point! Hopefully, I can get to Clue 2 in the next few days. So I’ll probably stay a week behind for the entirety of this MKAL. I did not need an extra week of work thrown in there with the bonus clue! Ack! If you’re participating in the MKAL, I hope you’re enjoying the pattern and your yarn choices!!
Back in April, during the heightened COVID quarantined times, I cast on several winter-themed socks. I guess I really wanted to hunker down in winter, not spring. One such project was Winters Frost, a sock pattern from The Handmade Life. These socks were knit for a very dear friend of mine. The Yarn In my first FibreShare, I was given a skein of Less Traveled Yarn in an orange tweed. It was very pretty but orange is just not my color. It looks good on me but I don’t really like it. I’m more of a coral person. But this Pumpkin Spice colorway reminded me immediately of my best friend, who attended the University of Texas. This Pumpkin Spice had a definite Longhorn look about it. So after conferring with my friend, just to make sure the socks would be welcomed, I cast on…. The Pattern ….but finding a pattern to knit for a gift is always more stressful than knitting one for yourself. When I stumbled upon Winters Frost in my Ravelry favorites, I thought it had potential. The delicate stitching on the side of the sock wouldn’t detract from the tweediness. Right before I cast on, I grabbed some leftover October House yarn (from my Fade!) to use for a short cuff and a bit of toes. Details Pattern: Winters Frost by The Handmade Life Yarn: Less Traveled Yarn Tweed Me Sock Colorway: Pumpkin Spice Toes and Cuffs: October House Fiber Arts leftovers Needles: US 1 (2.25 mm) Size: 7 Made for: my BFF Time to Completion: 1 month As I was knitting the heel of these socks, I realized a mistake. I always knit two socks at once, using two sets of double pointed needles. And I was knitting two left feet. Since that delicate stitching goes down the outside of the sock, it needs to be on different sides. So I had to rip back and re-position the heel. And then, somehow, I forgot to switch to the October House yarn for the toes….so just a bit of the toe is contrasting. Sometimes, mistakes happen. That’s all I can say. And I just didn’t have the energy to rip back again. But I think these turned out really well.
When you think of currently popular knitwear designers, about five names come to mind. One of those is Stephen West, aka Westknits. He’s known for his bold style and his innovative shawls. Every year in October, Westknits hosts a mystery knit along (MKAL). I’ve never knit one of Stephen’s shawls but, for several reasons, I’ve decided to do his Slipstravaganza MKAL this year, making 2020 the year of MKALs for me, apparently. Why? Why now? Why a mystery pattern? There is something fun about knitting a pattern, along with over 1,000 people (yes, that many participate!), and being totally in the dark. As the pattern reveals itself, there’s speculation about the final shape…. It’s fun. Granted, I should have probably knit one of Westknit’s patterns before doing a MKAL. But I’m going with my gut on this one and my gut is telling me to throw caution to the wind, pick some fabulously bold colors, and knit this thing! We don’t know much about this shawl but from the names, Slipstravaganza, we know there will be slipped stitches, which I love so much more than some other themes. So, yay! Yarn For this MKAL, you need five skeins of fingering weight yarn. This is going to be a big shawl! Of those five skeins, you need two skeins of a main color and then three contrasting colors. A color pop among the contrasting colors was talked about on social media a lot and I liked that idea. Many indie dyers offered kits for this MKAL – and they were all beautiful but expensive. As I browsed the offerings, I decided I liked having two solid colored skeins for the main color and speckled colors for the contrast yarn. (You can do the opposite.) My Yarn Choices I really wanted to use some stashed yarn for this project; we all know I have plenty of it! But I had a problem….I have no two skeins that are alike in fingering weight yarn. I really need to make better yarn-buying decisions! So, I dove into my stash and found three skeins – two speckled and one solid – that worked well together. They were all centered upon coral. Because I cannot – cannot – have three colors that are nothing alike! For my main color, I decided to order some navy Hedgehog from Simply Socks Yarn Co., for which I had a gift card. So, at least some of this was free! Starting The MKAL starts on Friday, October 9th. I’m super excited and cannot wait to see what Stephen has thought up for us. It’s not too late to join in so if you’d like a surprise shawl this October, come along!
It’s finally sweater weather! Well, not really here in Texas, but we have had some mornings in the upper 50s and lower 60s…. And that’s definite progress! I love fall! I wish we had more fall color here in Texas, but cooler temperatures are enough to make me happy after our awful summers. And those cooler temps mean sweaters and shawls….and knitting! Today I’m going to run through this month’s works in progress, or, WIPs…. And it’s been a productive month! Habitation Throw This project continues to give me joy, as does the Advent calendar from October House (last year). The colors are so soft and lovely… I couldn’t ask for a better looking throw! I still knit on this every weekday for about 30 minutes at lunch. It’s a great way to break up the workday – and include some much-needed knitting into it! Must Stash Traveling Socks Since I’m still not going anywhere in my car, these socks are kept by my desk at home. I pick them up occasionally when I need a break from other projects. I’m enjoying knitting these on itty bitty circular needles, though they do hurt my fingertips a bit. I’m still contemplating an afterthought heel with these…. I’ll let you know what I decide. And I need to decide soon as I’m almost done with the leg!! Travelers Loop This project was unplanned and a bit spur of the moment – for me. After knitting Cloudesley and seeing the pooling of the yarn – I did not alternate skeins – I decided to finally learn about helical knitting. This is a technique for minimizing the awkward joins of skeins when you alternate skeins. It’s great for when you want to knit striped socks using two colors; it creates real stripes (instead of spiral stripes). But it’s also good for sweaters. Dawn Barker of Chasing Rabbits Fiber Co. designed the Travelers Loop Cowl to help you learn about helical knitting. It’s super easy – knit one row, purl the next. As expected, you alternate skeins and the effect is really nice. I’m almost done with this, actually. I just have to weave in my ends and wash/block it. FOs My Shortie Socks, using the Ambient Sock pattern from Helen Stewart, are done! These were super fun to knit and I loved the yarn from Long Dog Yarn. I know many people in cold climates do not understand shortie socks but they’re a necessity in this area of the country! What’s Next I’ve decided to finally do Stephen West’s October MKAL. I’ve never participated as his designs are a bit out there for me….but I want to broaden my horizons. And no one can do that better than Stephen West. I found three skeins from my stash to use so I only had to buy two solid-colored skeins to use for the main color. Pretty good! I’m super excited for that to start on October 9th. But before that, I need to start on and finish a baby gift. I can do that before October 9th, right? Sure….
My knitting pal saw an email from a LYS that featured the Cloudesley sweater from Isabell Kraemer….and I loved it immediately. I’ve had several of Kraemer’s patterns in my Ravelry favorites for quite some time but…. I just don’t enjoy knitting sweaters. Or so I thought. I really enjoyed this knit!! Amazing, right! Let me explain…. The Yarn The great thing about finding a pattern through your LYS is that they usually have great yarn ideas. Since the yarn that Kraemer used is a bit hard to find, I knew I would need something else. The Sated Sheep in Dripping Springs, Texas had many yarn suggestions for this sweater – and discounted COVID shipping! After looking at several yarns, I settled on Milky Way from Anzula. It’s got an interesting fiber content: Casein, made from milk. After reading reviews of the yarn – and great things about the drape of it – I decided to purchase some. Getting gauge was a bit difficult and I kind of wish I’d knit with a different sized needle, but it all worked out. The Pattern I’ve never really used a cable needle, except when I first learned how to knit cables. But I don’t really like the look of cables, so I don’t knit them. But I had to use a cable needle with this pattern to get that beautiful slipped stitch design on the back. After several rows – or inches – or knitting, I finally got the hang of it, and ended up enjoying it! Kraemer uses such an interesting construction for the sleeves and shoulders – it’s seamless and super easy. The pattern was a bit confusing to read at times and I even had to pose a question to the support group on Ravelry…. But otherwise, it was fun to knit! Details Pattern: Cloudesley by Isabell Kraemer Yarn: Anuzla Milky Way Colorways: Teal Needles: US 4 (3.5 mm) Size: 3 Made for: me Time to Completion: 3.1 months I never devoted my full attention to this sweater so it took a bit longer to knit. I usually tried to do two rows, at least, a day. I added some stitches near the end to get a bit of an A-line. And I did not add stitches on to the neckband as it was high enough for me already. I prefer shorter sleeves so I didn’t knit as much on those, either. In the end, I learned my lesson on alternating skeins. I must alternate skeins. Ha! No matter how similar the skeins look, they are always different once knitted up. Though I knit to the specified length it is not long enough for me. So, another lesson: try on the project as you go! I did – but obviously not enough. This problem is easily solved by wearing a tank underneath but I need to be more careful next time. It’s always good to learn lessons – even the hard way – with a project. And I learned quite a few with Cloudesley. And I want to knit more sweaters!!
Okay, y’all know I’m married to a geek. I say this, lovingly, as a bonafide nerd. When I entered into our marriage, I knew there would always be a third wheel: Star Wars. It’s not a big problem; we all get along pretty well. And, thankfully, my husband is always more likely to be seduced by the Dark Side than another woman. Ha! I’ve never tired to knit a Star Wars pattern but that may change in 2021… Tanis Gray has announced a new book, entitled Star Wars: Knitting the Galaxy. Oh. My. Goodness. Knitting a Star War There are Star Wars patterns on Ravelry but I’ve never knit them. I’ve been really tempted by a baby Yoda hat, complete with ears. But it’s a fine line with such things – you want what your knitting to be cute but not too geeky. You know what I mean. But let me tell you, I almost squealed when I saw a baby Yoda on the cover of Gray’s book. Yes, I want to knit that baby Yoda. It serves no purpose unless I gift it to a baby but it will just sit and be adorable! Real Knitting Let’s be truthful. I’m not going to knit a Star Wars sweater for Matt. He wouldn’t wear it. For all his geekiness, he tries to maintain a subtlety with it all, so as to not embarrass me out in public. And I appreciate that. But he’d love a baby Yoda or some Star Wars socks or a hat…. I can’t wait to see all the patterns that Tanis has come up with. She’s a very talented designer and I’ve drooled over some of her sweaters. They are lovely! And Tanis also dyes yarn! Yes, she’s a very talented lady! I don’t own any of her yarn but it’s definitely on my wish list for a future purchase! Details Amazon already has this book to pre-order. It’s due out on January 5, 2021. That will give you an entire year to knit Star Wars Christmas gifts!!
After June and July flew by at record speed, August has slowed to a snail’s pace. I think it’s the heat. Texas in August is awful. But that hasn’t kept me from knitting!! I’ve made some great progress and even had two FOs earlier this month. My knitting mojo is in full swing and I find myself attracted more and more to garments. Yes, garments. What’s wrong with me?! As it is, I have enough WIPs to keep me busy. Let me tell you more…. Must Stash Traveling Socks These socks have not seen much love lately. However, I am contemplating trying a new heel on these, since they’re self-striping. I’ve been watching videos on the afterthought heel and fish lips heel. We’ll see how motivated I am. Habitation Throw I’m still consistently knitting on this at lunch. It’s a relaxing way to spend thirty minutes or so in the middle of a workday. The stripes are lovely and I have a new appreciation for the soft colors dyed by October House. So pretty! Shortie Socks When I finished up two big projects (listed below), I wanted something smaller to work on. Socks were the obvious answer. I decided on some shortie socks and made the quick decision to make these for a friend who could use a pick-me-up…and who had talked about wanting some shortie socks. For the pattern, I wanted something lacy and cool – for Texas! I looked through my Handmade Sock Society patterns from Helen Stewart and decided on the Ambient Socks pattern. The stitch isn’t too complicated and it’s a nice break from vanilla socks. FOs I finished Cloudesley!! Yay! I ended up adding some stitches near the bottom to make room for my hips. I wish I’d added on another inch or so, but oh well. I did not alternate skeins and you can actually tell where they change in the blocking photo below. But that won’t show when I’m wearing it. I’ll share more photos later. Helen Stewart’s Stillness Shawl MKAL has finished – and I finished on time! That was so much fun and I have a new appreciation for Helen’s designs. She’s so talented! What’s Next I want to learn about helical knitting – a method of eliminating the jogging of stripes when knitting in the round. So, I’ve found a pattern to experiment with that, which should be fun. But I’m also looking at some sweaters. What’s next on your project list? It’s so exciting to think that it’s almost fall!!
Today I have an FO (finished object) to share with you! And it’s one that was super fun to knit. You’ll remember that I joined my first MKAL (mystery knit-a-long) a few months ago. And I even surprised myself by keeping up with it the entire time. So, in five weeks, I had a finished shawl. Amazing!! Helen’s Stewart Stillness Shawl MKAL was a great way to learn about MKALs. And it may have even spoiled me a bit….. Yarn Though I love buying yarn (a little too much!), I decided to do a deep dive into my stash for this project. I quickly remembered that I had a three-skein set of Madelinetosh that I’d gotten from Jimmy Beans a very long time ago. This base of Madelinetosh is not the softest ever but it definitely got softer after I washed the finished shawl. Ideally, I would have chosen a yarn with some silk or cashmere…. Knitting I loved how Helen broke down the pattern and clues for this shawl. As you alternate colors, you realize pretty quickly that you’ll see a change in the pattern with each color change. This kept you from getting bored. And I conquered my fear of the k3tog stitch!! It helped using bigger needles, for sure (as opposed to US 1.5s). And it made a wonderful start stitch in this shawl. Details Pattern: Stillness Shawl by Helen Stewart (Curious Handmade) Yarn: Madelinetosh Twist Light Colorways: Himiko (purple), Purr (grey), Cade or Lada (variegated) Needles: US 6 (4 mm) Made for: me Time to Completion: 5 weeks This shawl flew off my needles. It was fun, relaxing, and just a bit challenging at times (with the k3tog and slipped stitches). I didn’t mind being on a timetable but I definitely wanted to get done with the clues on time, so there was a tiny bit of stress involved with that. All in all, I loved knitting this pattern. The colors were beautiful, though the yarn wasn’t my first choice, and they came together very, very well. As with any shawl that grows, the rows got very long near the end. But that’s all part of the game with these shawls. And with MKALs, you may not know what shape of shawl you’re knitting. Indeed, I’m very glad I liked the finished product as you just never know what’s going to happen in a MKAL pattern. I’d definitely recommend this shawl. Helen Stewart’s patterns are all so clear and well-written….not to mention beautiful!
Back when I was a newbie knitter, I started a few projects I wish I hadn’t. I think this is pretty common. At the time, I had no interest in knitting sweaters or socks or shawls…. I – insanely – thought I’d only knit scarves and blankets. Wool was itchy, therefore who wants to wear it. Wow, how I’ve grown! One such project was the Four Seasons Throw (by Judith Shangold), a UFO that I’m going to share with you today. How It Started As I said, I never dreamed of knitting socks or sweaters when I started knitting. I got into it for the scarves and blankets. I obviously didn’t realize how boring and tedious these two things are to actually knit up. But there actually was some thought behind selecting this project; I wanted to learn new knitting skills and stitches and this seemed a good choice. The Pattern + Yarn This pattern is made up of individual squares that each have a different cable or stitch. Then, you piece all of the squares together to make a blanket, much like a quilt. In many ways, this is a great pattern because it breaks up the blanket into different themed squares so you don’t get bored. For the yarn, I chose a line of Manos del Uruguay – Wool Clasica – though I have no idea why. I’m sure my knitting friends at the time helped me out with that. I chose blues because – I have no idea. Frankly, I have none. Perhaps I was going to knit this for my parents since they have a blue bedroom…. Again, no idea!! Knitting As you can see from the pictures, I didn’t get very far on this project. I’m 1.5 squares into it and I have no idea how many squares are needed for a good-sized throw, but probably 12 at least. I’m afraid to look for mistakes because I’m sure there are tons. Unlike the other throw I started, I’m not at all attached to this one. This is a project that I have no regrets frogging. (For non-knitters, frogging is taking apart your knitting.) Perhaps I can use the yarn for something else, but blues generally do not appeal to me. And the finished product, from looking on Ravelry, is not something I like. These piecemeal blankets – unlike quilting – are never perfectly aligned. One square may be a bit smaller than the other, depending on the tension used to knit a particular stitch or pattern, or may bend or bow in different way, depending on the pattern. I wish I could go back in time and instruct my newbie-knitter-self to make other things. Practice with dishcloths!! Dive into hats! Do something other than scarves and blankets!!