It's done, done, done! I looove this sweater, which is knit from the Schnee pattern by Suvi Simola, and the timing is perfect. We're having a pretty chilly winter! And please excuse deer-in-the-headlights quality of the photos; I used my tripod for the first time to do self-portraits and I need more, let's be kind, practice with it.
1. What did you learn from knitting this?
Putting in the work to plan and swatch and make sure you're going to do it right the first time is definitely worthwhile. All that time I spent swatching and thinking about how to approach the sweater, as well as the time I spent ripping out and reknitting, was so worth it because this sweater turned out absolutely perfect, exactly the way I wanted, and I'm sure it's going to be a workhorse in my wardrobe.
2. Would you knit this pattern again?
You bet I would! As I was finishing the second sleeve, I was already shopping for yarn to knit another (I am truly a sucker for emails announcing sales). Luckily I managed to keep my finger off the "buy" button, because there is so much yarn in my stash right now, but I could see coming back to this sweater later, when I've destashed some. The fit on this sweater is so perfect -- the body is big and slouchy, which is what I was looking for, and meanwhile the sleeves and armholes aren't too big. Kudos to the designer on that.
3. How will you wear your new sweater?
It will probably go with anything in my wardrobe; a t-shirt and jeans, a tunic top and leggings, a dress...endless possibilities.
Year of Sweaters Tally: 8 (I'm so happy to have this done but eep, I'd better get knitting!)
How is it time for spring issues already? Eeep, January's just started and I feel like I'm behind already.
Knitscene always tries to be really fun, and I think that's what they're going for with their '90s throwback theme in this issue. To me, the issue does succeed in being fun -- the styling is perfectly Clueless -- but not necessarily giving you a lot of must-knit pieces. I was in elementary school and then high school during the '90s, and I cannot remember wearing so many crop tops. Do you? And if I wasn't wearing crop tops when I was 16, it doesn't really feel like I'm going to start now, when I'm two decades older. There are a few really cute pieces, though:
The really exciting part of this issue is that it has designs from six designers who are publishing with Knitscene and/or Interweave for the first time, and three of them are Canadian! This is so exciting; there are already a few designers putting Canada on the knitting map, but seeing Canadians featured in a major knitting magazine is still a thrill.
You can read more about the issue here.
All photos from Interweave
A free crochet and cross-stitch pattern today, and if you don't know how to crochet or cross-stitch yet, then what better time to learn than the dead of winter? The excitement of the holiday season is over, and we have no days off to look forward in the rest of the month, and here all we've had is dreary cold (daily highs around -20 Celsius, if you can call that a "high") and deep snow. For me, it means a lot of early evenings spent indoors, needlecrafting.
The Hygge Scheepjes wrap from Haak Maar Raak is just a big rectangle crocheted in a single stitch with a single colour of yarn, so even a beginner could handle it. After the rectangle is done, a lovely sampler-like pattern is cross-stitched on. Since the crochet stitch is so square, it makes a perfect canvas for cross-stitches (which are very easy to learn, if you don't know how already).
This book came out a few months ago but I only recently got my hands on a (library) copy. I really didn't know what to expect -- I've seen stitch dictionaries with stranded colourwork patterns before, and even when they're nice I really can't see myself using them a lot. It could be because of my slight aversion to colourwork; handling two yarns at once isn't always very relaxing.
Alterknit Stitch Dictionary is so beautiful and inspiring that it's enough to make me overcome my aversion to colourwork, though. The designs themselves are thoroughly modern-looking and very versatile; some would suit a border, while some would work better as all-over patterns. Whatever you're looking for, though, you'll probably find in this book. There are designs that are more abstract, and ones that are more representational, but they're all graphic and striking.
The presentation of the colourwork patterns, which is one of this book's shining merits, is clear and large, with the swatches done to perfection (high-twist, non-fuzzy, high-contrast yarns), and charts that are easy to understand. And -- this is something that's really easy to overlook in a stitch dictionary, so I highly appreciate it -- every motif has a name, which makes record-keeping easier and gives each one a little personality.
I love that you can tell that this book written by a very talented knitter, and I think the variety and breadth of motifs available in this book would keep any knitter busy for a long time. You can check out the patterns on Ravelry here.
All photos by Harper Point Photography
Although my project from last year is not yet complete, I can definitely see the end, and I'm so happy with how it helped me focus my knitting throughout the year and really get things done. I finished so many things that had been languishing, and it felt so good.
I decided to take on a different project for this year, to try new things while still giving my knitting time direction and purpose. In 2018, I am challenging myself to develop 6 new knitting patterns. I should say at least 6, because I could aim for more, but given the time and amount of knitting (and ripping, and reknitting) it takes to develop just one pattern, I think doing more than one for every two months is too ambitious for me and will stress me out, which is counterproductive. So here are the rules I've set:
- Design six brand-new patterns, each based on a Canadian (preferably Albertan) yarn from an indie dyer or small mill
- Develop each pattern to the point where it can be published as a free pattern on my website (which for me, means it can be in one size only)
I think I won't have any other rules; I am planning to do both sweater and accessory patterns, both child and adult sizes, and also to experiment with different techniques (lace, cables, etc.), but I want the flexibility to change my plans on those fronts if I have to.
Will you join me? You can complete the same challenge, or change up the rules to fit your style (you do you, that's what I (almost never, but it really seems to fit here) say).
These are the patterns I've designed so far, the Glacier Toque and the Rainbow Valley Sweater:
And I'm already overflowing with ideas for more...time to cast on!
Now that the rush of Christmas is over, you can start a new project! The December issue of Knotions has a few cute small projects for winter wear.
I love the lace stitch in the Lambrusque cowl (and the pattern is also available in French!) and the Hike to Marion Falls shawl, and the Tributary hat has a lovely braided cable. Check out the whole issue here.
All images from Knotions
I finished a lot of projects in 2017! There were some baby or child knits:
(clockwise from top left) Jasper Diamond sweater, Striped Boatneck Sweater, Rainbow Valley Sweater, Toddler Surprise Jacket, Baby Kimono, and Pixie Hat
There were adult-sized sweaters:
(from left to right) Hawkherst, Striking; I also completed Schnee but this one was just under the wire; finished on New Year's Eve, and so I don't have pictures yet
There were accessories:
(clockwise from top left) Birch shawl, FLK socks (two pairs, though the second pair isn't visible yet because my husband was wearing them today), Glacier Hat (in three sizes!), Floe shawl, Hot Mess Headband, and Prewitt socks
It's so satisfying to look at them all together like that; a year's worth of knitting. As previously mentioned, I didn't make my end-of-year deadline for twelve sweaters, but the neck pain is gone and I'm knitting again, so will keep plugging away. I'm thisclose to finishing the zipper on Killybegs and rethinking the sleeves on Montview.
Part of the reason I started this blog was to motivate me to finish things, and it seems to have worked, as I managed to get tons of projects off the needles, out of the stash, or rescued from nearly-finished-purgatory. I also have quite a few useful and warm pieces to use, which is always super exciting.
I hope 2018 will be as productive! I will be taking on a new project for 2018, which I will tell you about next week.
Images from Yarn Harlot (left) and Yarn Plaza (right)
I love, love, love advent calendars! A few years ago my sister and I did an advent calendar swap, and she made me a cross-stitched set that can be hung on the tree (left; H is currently getting a puzzle piece per day from it) or made into a banner, and I made her a cross-stitched hanging one (right):
I'd love to have the time to make another advent calendar! We'll see, in 2018, as I already have a lot of things planned.
Speaking of 2018, that's the next time I'll be posting again. I'll be taking the next week or so off (as we all should!) to rest and relax and spend time with my family, and I'll be back on January 3rd with new posts for you. Have a very happy holiday season, and I'll see you in the new year. Happy knitting, everyone :)
Opening: my new eyeshadow palette -- all sparkly shades, and new to me
Giggling: over my three-year-old's ideas about Santa and Christmas. I asked her if she wanted to write Santa a letter and she said "maybe after Christmas"
Feeling: like I'd better get started on my resolutions for 2018
Snacking: on dried fruit -- my wholesale order came in, with 25 pounds of dried apricots. So far we've mostly eaten them out of hand, but I've also tried an apricot sticky toffee pudding and dipped apricots in chocolate.
Making: cookies, cookies, cookies! Gingerbread, chocolate crackle, bronzies, shortbread...
Cooking: curries, to fill the house with warmth
Drinking: eggnog (or, as my daughter calls it, "snowman stuff," because of the snowman on the carton)
Wanting: my Buttercream Clothing dress to come soon! I love the dresses of theirs that I own and I get tons of compliments on them both. It's taking a while because they only make it when you place the order, and I ordered on Black Friday.
Looking: at my Christmas tree and all the wrapped gifts underneath; so pretty!
Playing: "Got Your Number" by Serena Ryder, from her album Utopia
Deciding: what to bring to my in-laws' for Christmas...we're spending three days out at their acreage, and although my MIL is doing the heavy lifting in terms of meal planning, I feel like I should bring some fancy stuff along
Wishing: that I had a white tinsel tree and the time to make these giant paper flowers
Enjoying: holiday outings and parties...well, my taste buds are enjoying it; my waistline, not so much
Waiting: for the holidays to really start! I'm so excited to eat, drink, be merry, rest and relax, and spend time with loved ones
Liking: Christmas with a three-year-old; what a magical age for imagination
Wondering: whether I'll be able to knit again soon! My shoulder is still being cranky
Loving: IQ by Joe Ide -- I devoured this book in a couple of days. The main character, IQ, is intriguing, the mystery is so well-paced, and the voice and tone is exactly right. I hadn't seen any publicity for this author but as soon as I looked, there were tons of praiseful reviews.
Pondering: how I can up my Instagram game -- I want to be posting at least once a day in 2018, but I have to figure out how to make it into a habit.
Considering: whether I should pick up Bristol Ivy's new book, Knitting Outside the Box. It looks like a really great book, but it's a bit pricey once you convert to Canadian dollars (even buying from a Canadian retailer)
Buying: more tape...so many gifts to wrap!
Watching: The Good Place -- I'm only on the first season, because I'm watching on Netflix. I found this really good at the beginning, kind of dull through the middle of the season, and now I've got one episode left and I'm excited for it.
Marvelling: that I have kept up my bullet journal http://bulletjournal.com/ for an entire year. It's made me so productive and I use it faithfully because it works (because it's so adaptable!). My approach is pretty minimal -- I really admire the beautiful sketches and layouts on Instagram, but I'm not really a quotes-and-drawings kind of person.
Cringing: over how icy it is here. We got tons of snow in November, then a warm spell with freezing rain, and so everything (like, everything) is coated with a thin layer of ice and man, is it slippery!
Needing: a better needle for my new crewelwork project, a kit I picked up at the thrift store
Questioning: my decision to keep starting new projects when I haven't been able to finish anything lately
Sorting: through all my stash yarn, to see what I can make
Getting: the Google Newsstand app, which is surprisingly good because it has a ton of content
Bookmarking: late-night comedians on Youtube, especially Samantha Bee
Coveting: alllll the yarn...I should stop window-shopping online. I've filled and abandoned a lot of carts lately!
Disliking: or more like, Getting a bit tired of: all these year-end best whatever (TV shows, movies, music, books) lists, maybe because I'm not very zeitgeisty anymore
Smelling: cinnamon and ginger
Wearing: less warm stuff than you'd think; we've had an unseasonably warm December
Following: American politics; isn't it sad that it's so all-consuming these days? It really feels like we have much more important things we should be paying attention to.
Noticing: that Canada Post is delivering on weekends...not sure how I feel about this. On one hand, more business for Canada Post is great; on the other, I kind of feel bad for the people who have to work weekends.
Thinking: that I have to get all my Christmas cards written and mailed, pronto
Admiring: all the Christmas lights around the city
Lizzie is a sweater pattern in Julie Weisenberger's Cocoknits Sweater Workshop. It wasn't easy to get my hands on a copy (well, it was expensive) and there doesn't seem to be a digital version available, which is a shame.
This is seriously a genius method and book -- it is really the coolest thing I've knitted in a long time. You end up with a really strong, seamless, top-down sweater that fits beautifully over the shoulders. Julie Weisenberger has carefully chosen the techniques employed for picking up stitches, making increases and decreases, and to ensure that the sweater looks and feels fabulous.
The instructions are complicated (at first, anyway) because they will be new to many. The pieces you start knitting look like nothing at first, but if you keep faithfully following the patient and lucid instructions, you end up with a sweater. It's kind of like one of those 3-D puzzles: it's so hard to see how each individual piece contributes to the final structure, but at the end, everything makes sense.
The book also extensively covers techniques in an extremely clear fashion; each technique is illustrated with many pictures and if that's not enough, you can find videos of all the techniques on Youtube. My only (very minor) complaint would be that for some techniques (I'm thinking in particular of the increases and decreases), it would be more helpful to use a contrasting yarn so that it's easier to differentiate "old" stitches from "new" ones.
The signature Sweater Workshop worksheet is a revelation. I have done something similar myself (writing down line-by-line shorthand), though mine was never this detailed and I never formalized it in such a visually arresting way. The worksheet is kind of fun (like math homework!) and though it's confusing when you look at the whole thing, it's easy to put together because you do it one section at a time.
I do have a few quibbles with the worksheet too: like, does it need to include the wrong-side rows? If you never have any shaping on the wrong-side rows, you can probably leave them out (like those lace charts where all the WS rows are just purled, so only right-side rows are included in the chart). It would make the worksheet a little more compact, though that could be at the expense of readability. On the other hand, maybe other sweaters get shaped on the wrong rows, just not the one I'm knitting.
As well, having six colours of stitch marker seems a bit excessive. However, these things could just be because of the particular sweater I'm knitting: because it's flat, it's easy to keep track of where you are. I could see it being harder when knitting in the round, thus necessitating six different colours of stitch marker.
Overall, I love the worksheet -- I am loving the whole Cocoknits Sweater Method, so far. I'm very excited to get back to working on it, as soon as my shoulders get on board with the idea.
This isn't a knitting pattern, but it is knitting-related! I mostly knit, these days, but over the years I've picked up a lot of other crafty skills: embroidery, sewing, quilting, crochet, even scrapbooking. Mostly they supplement or complement my knitting habits.
I've written before about how much I love project bags, and I'm always looking for new ones. You can't beat good old tote bags, though, and Jennifer at The Craft Patch has a super cute pattern to decorate one. It uses heat-transfer vinyl, though you could turn her pattern into a stencil and use paint. I love how it incorporates embroidery, and even includes the dots to guide your embroidery. Accurately-embroidered lines are so beautiful. And the pompom trim! Too cute.
Cables and colourwork: they're pretty predictable themes for a winter issue, though beautifully executed here. The devil really is in the details. Cabled hats are nothing new, but cables only on the brim of the Clinton Creek Hat (top row, left) are nicely thought out. And on the Mount Lorne Pullover (top row, middle), a colourwork yoke where the pattern is pulled a little bit down onto the body and sleeves: yes, please! Another pattern for men (actually, there's quite a nice balance of men's and women's sweaters in this issue), the Eagle Island Cardigan (top row, right), updates the traditional Salish sweater and looks both light and warm. There are also enough classic patterns to keep you busy, in the Iditarod Pullover, Ibex Valley Mittens, and Rohn Pullover (middle row, left to right).
And does my eye spy, at long last, a little bit of colour? Huzzah! Not that this issue doesn't have its share of winter white and stone grey, but red (!) and green (!) in the Grand Forks Pullover, Anchorage Cardigan, and White Mountain Ruana (bottom row, left to right).
I do think I'm going to be picking up this one, though I've got quite a backlog so I don't when I'll get around to knitting from it. There just aren't enough hours in the day for everything I want to knit!
All images by Interweave Knits
The knitting continues, slowly. For the last month or so, I've had a lot of stiffness in my shoulders and neck -- enough to give me headaches, and enough that, whenever I picked up the needles, my left trapezius would start to throb and I'd have to stop. So no more marathon knitting sessions, sadly, and that's put me way, way behind on my goal of finishing twelve sweaters this year.
There are two sweaters I can finish without much knitting, so I'm going to put the gears on with those while I deal with my sore muscles. Stretching my neck and shoulder muscles every day, twice a day or more, has helped. I kind of made up my own sequence of stretches based on targeting the muscles that are the most painful for me, and this yoga lady helped a ton. I kind of adapt the stretches based on how much time I have and/or where I am. While the pain is slowly receding, I'm still not able to knit the way I could before, which makes me so sad.
So this is a cautionary tale, really -- take care of yourself and do preventative exercises for your hands, wrists, shoulders, neck, and other postural muscles, because otherwise you end up having to give up knitting temporarily. Take a break from knitting every half hour or so if you don't already, and give your poor, hardworking muscles a rest. And when you do knit, watch your body position and posture, like this physical therapist recommends. There are some other good stretches for knitters, with clear pictures and a video, here.
Since I've been sidelined due to what I think of as an occupational injury, and since my project deadline was arbitrary and self-imposed, I'm going to give myself an extra month to finish. I've got enough sweaters in progress that I think I can make it, and this is kind of my gift to my neck and shoulders. I'll get to work on sewing on buttons and snaps, and installing my first zipper, and that will put two more sweaters (Montview and Killybegs) under my belt by the end of the year. I have three more that will require actual knitting (my Schnee, my Alafoss, and my Lizzie sweaters) but it's all straightforward and I think I can do that in January.
Meanwhile, I've decided on my year-long project for 2018. Even though I won't make my deadline for this year's project, I found it really focused and motivated me to get things done, knitting-wise. So I'm going to take on a new project for next year, which I'll announce toward the end of the month. Happy knitting, everyone :)
Here's something to keep you busy over the holidays: five free knitting patterns from Katherine Poulton's A Good Yarn. This isn't a new book, but I missed it when it came out (maybe it wasn't promoted that heavily in North America?). Some good basics here; the Aaron handwarmers are pretty and have an interestingly-placed cable (though I'm more inclined to make them into mittens), and the Chunky Stripe hat has the perfect amount of slouch coupled with the timeless nautical stripe. And check out the perfect Arctic attitude of the Narwhal blanket.
Photos from The Telegraph
This story about Mati Ventrillon is incredibly inspiring. Her operation on Fair Isle produces a true sheep-to-sweater product: she raises her own flock of sheep, shears them, sends the fleece to Shetland to be dyed and spun, then designs custom fair-isle patterns and knits the sweaters. And check out her awesome traditional "woollie horse" wooden stretchers:
It reminds me a bit of Wooly Jenny's Fibre Adventures:
I’m so excited about my goal for 2107: To go from raw fleece of an animal to an FO all by myself. I want to experience scouring and washing, picking, carding/combing, dyeing, spinning and knitting or weaving it on my own.
Of course you don't have to do this; you are free to walk into any store and pick up any yarn you want and start knitting. But I think taking a raw fleece through all the processing required even before you can beginning knitting is such a great experience and would give me such an appreciation for fibre producers and processors. It's kind of like growing your own food -- it's not necessary, but it makes you really appreciate the effort that goes into food production and it also makes you really recognize the quality of food.
1. What's the pattern?
2. Which yarn did you choose?
I'm destashing! Four skeins of Cascade 220 Paints in Red Mix. It's not quite enough yardage for a full sweater in my size, but with a top-down pattern, I can stop the sleeves whenever I run out.
3. What size are you making?
I'm making the second size, which is a medium, and supposedly will fit me with a tiny bit of negative ease.
4. Any modifications?
My gauge is slightly off, but I'm waiting to try on the sweater and see if it will matter.
5. Would you knit this again?
Yes, definitely! In fact, I did the yoke twice (my gauge was off and it was too tight the first time), and the second time was much easier going, as I'd already learned the techniques and figured out how the pieces were going to come together to make a sweater. Also easier because the gauge wasn't as tight, and so things like picking up stitches became easier.
The Pine Sway Cowl (on Rav), designed by Juju Vail, is a great way to add some colour to your wardrobe, and the yarn choice is perfect (a woolly, slightly hairy yarn that has good stitch definition). Lovely! And I think that herringbone pattern would make a great bottom hem for a sweater, BTW. Or on a hat!
Photos by Juju Vail
Making: Lizzie sweater from Cocoknits Sweater Workshop
Cooking: paneer, butternut squash, and chickpea curry with naan
Drinking: hot apple cider, stirred with a cinnamon stick
Wanting: to keep the sweetness and wonder of a three-year-old in a bottle forever (last week she told me I was a landlubber because I don't live on the sea)
Looking: at the poor little snowshoe hare in the front yard, bedding down in the snow and huddling against the wind
Playing: a lot of indoor games! Duplo/Lego is such a good toy for everyone
Deciding: that what other nuts, fruits, and seeds (and secretly, candy) I can make into these
Wishing: it would warm up just a little; -20 Celsius in November is a bridge too far for this Ontarian
Enjoying: pasta with red sauce and a fried egg on top...try it!
Waiting: for Christmas...normally I'm not too eager, but the snow has me planning out holiday baking and mocking up our holiday card
Liking: Ann Leary, an author I've only recently discovered (The Good House is where I started -- man, do I like New England novels)
Wondering: how I can fit more cakes into my life! I've made two for birthdays this month:
Loving: my new Japanese Stitch Dictionary, which is so inspiring and makes me want to pick up the needles
Pondering: exercise physiology...studying for AFLCA exam, which is in less than three weeks!
Considering: whether it's too early to put up the Christmas decorations!
Buying: Flipside leggings from Encircled -- reversible and made in Canada!
Watching: The Big Fat Quiz on Youtube...my sister got me onto these and I cannot stop laughing
Marvelling: at how stubborn a three-year-old can be
Cringing: over how difficult it is to dance and yell at the same time...but I'm learning!
Needing: a vacation! Christmas can't come too soon.
Questioning: which Christmas cookies to make this year. I usually try to have a variety (one bar, one drop, one rolled, one molded, etc.) and to try new ones every year, and there are just too many to choose from.
Smelling: coffee; always coffee
Wearing: cozy wool knits, like my True Friend, Icelandic Star, and Hawkherst sweaters
Noticing: Bristol Ivy's new book is out...have you picked it up? Some of the patterns look incredible
Knowing: that I spent too much on Black Friday sales...I shopped online and in person!
Thinking: about picking up the Winter 2018 issue of Interweave Knits (a ton of colourwork yokes)
Admiring: The Wailin' Jennys http://www.thewailinjennys.com/...no new album or anything, just diving back through my iTunes playlist
Sorting: all sorts of stuff to donate to charity...yay, decluttering!
Getting: apprehensive that I won't be able to achieve my twelve sweaters project! Ack
Bookmarking: Ulla, a magazine of free knitting patterns in Finnish (some of the patterns are in English, and there's always Google Translate)
Coveting: a velvet holiday dress
Disliking: how housework is never, ever done...once you "finish," you just have to start back at the beginning
Opening: my new wireless headset microphone, for teaching fitness classes
Giggling: over how my three-year-old recognizes logos already. She recognized the PC logo on the bottom of some silicone cupcake liners yesterday, and said she'd seen it when we did groceries.
Feeling: good about getting all my Christmas shopping done early
Snacking: on roasted pumpkin seeds! Halloween bonus: we always carve the pumpkin on the 31st, display it for the night, then cut it up, roast it, and puree it on November 1st. It lasts for months in the freezer.
Hearing: podcasts (Call Your Girlfriend, Reply All, Double X, and Because News)
Thanks to Pip Lincolne of Meet Me At Mike's for the inspiration!
There isn't a pattern for this blanket but you could certainly hack it! The dimensions are given as 60"x50", there's a garter stitch border (six or eight stitches wide, by my count) and a seed stitch middle -- super easy, especially because you can zoom in on the product photo and literally count how many stitches there are. And then you just have to make a bunch of pompoms so giant they're verging on mop territory (I love that you don't even need a pompom maker, because you just use an entire skein!), and four enormous tassels for the corners.
I know the yarn would likely cost more than buying this blanket, even including shipping, but the advantage in knitting your own is that you could choose the colour and the fibre content (wool or a wool blend, that would be my choice). Also you would increase your upper body strength while knitting, just because of the weight of the thing.