Summer knitting = shawls and lightweight tees, right? We want to work on the things we imagine ourselves using. Nobody’s thinking about cozy sweaters while sweltering in the heat of the sun and waving away mosquitoes.
Unless you’re me. I got an itch to cast on a fingering-weight colorwork yoke pullover in the middle of July. Maybe it was the rainy June. Maybe it was that this year’s summertime temps have been tolerable. Maybe I’m disinclined to knitting tanks and tops I rarely wear them, even when I make one I like quite a lot. Or maybe I won a Visa gift card in a raffle and decided to treat myself to a sweater’s quantity of yarn. OK, yes, it was definitely that last one, and who doesn’t immediately cast on a long-coveted project after procuring the material to make it?
If you can get over the idea of knitting a sweater during a season when you don’t want to think about wearing one, a lakeside midsummer mini vacation is actually the perfect time to be knitting it. I had the colorwork chart complete before we left and the mindless, continuous stockinette was ideal work while supervising the kiddo’s frequent swims. Between lifeguarding, fewer chores (why is it that chores take up so much of my time and yet my house looks the way it does?) and quiet interludes in the morning and evening, I knit the body of this sweater in THREE DAYS. This is not a thing that could have happened in any other circumstance. Magic.
Pattern: Darkwater by Jennifer Steingass
Yarn: Brooklyn Tweed Peerie
Colorways: Morel for the body & Cobbler for the yoke
I was so thrilled with my Anaashah that I sensibly decided to knit another pattern from the same designer with the same gauge in the same yarn brand. Why mess with a proven combination? Even so, you just never know with knitting. If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, then all knitters are insane because we know darn well doing the same thing almost never produces the same result.
As I knit this I thought: oh, no, this is a little too much like Anaashah. I should have made the body in a dark color, instead. Oh, well, there’s always next time. In the meantime I’m ready for fall. I’m waiting!
This came off the needles with no memorable mishaps. This not to say no mistakes were made. Experience does not preclude one from making mistakes. But all those mistakes give you practice in how to fix them which is the real prize. Letting stitches drop to fix a mistake in lacework 4 rows down is a much greater achievement than knitting it right in the first place.
I like to knit lace. I like to knit lace things for brides. Each time I tell them that I do not presume to dress them, and nobody should have any say in how a bride (or anybody else) dresses on her special day (or any other). It’s an object in honor of the day and not necessarily intended for use on the day. I don’t know why this makes sense in my head, it certainly doesn’t as I type it out. Oh, well, I guess it’s possible I’ve been giving weird unwelcome gifts to brides for the last 10 years. Sorry, bride-friends!
So hey, have you noticed I’ve been having a sockmoment? If it bores you, rest easy. These are the last pair I’ll have to show you for a while. I’m hearing the siren call of shawls and sweaters instead.
Once upon a time I amassed a whole lotta yarn. I was an intrepid young knitter with a bit of disposable income and still developing fiscal self-control. I was too cheap for a lot of things (lunches out, a home phone, cable television, Park Slope rent) but not yarn, no no! I accumulated it in big bites and small bites which amounted to bins of yarn that I’m *still* working on knitting through. These things can take a while, especially when you’re always more interested in knitting with the new yarn and not the old which, like myself, just keeps getting older. Tastes change, and I did get rid of some stuff I knew I was never going to use, but even still I have enough yarn on hand to knit through the next layoff, 66% single-year increase in real estate taxes, illness, baby (not that any of those are planned or in progress) or whatever blow to personal finance my future has in store. It’s an investment, you see.
This yarn, though, THIS YARN. These 2 skeins, with 4 friends (2 pink + 2 yellow), were the FIRST. We’re talking deep stash from way back when my heart trilled at the idea of knitting socks for the first time. Back when stash, if I had one, was contained in a single bag rather than a series of bins. I was on vacation in Chicago and souvenir yarn shopping for the first time when I laid eyes on the Koigu KKPM and I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited before or since to buy yarn. It was my first extravagant yarn purchase. It was my first souvenir yarn purchase. It was the gateway yarn to Yarns of Superior Quality. It was yarn that I never regretted buying, even if it took more than 10 years to turn into something.
Pattern: Shur’tugal by Alice Yu
Yarn: Koigu Painter’s Palette Premium Merino (KPPPM)
Colorway: I forgot to look and who’m I kidding – this yarn is more than 10 years old so what does it matter? Go check out Koigu’s other colorways, they’re all gorgeous.
I’m on a Socktopus bender. The patterns are beautiful, worth working your way through some janky charts and instructions. In the book’s defense, I’ve cast on 5 pairs of socks from this book (2 aren’t finished, don’t judge!) and Vorticity was the only pattern that gave me any trouble.
Thank goodness I have so much lovely yarn on hand for my renewed interest in complicated sock knitting. I knew I was keeping it for a reason.
You know how people interrupt their own story to think hard (and out loud) about how long ago the thing that they’re talking about happened? They get that faraway look in their eyes and completely derail their train of thought and the conversation you thought you were having?
Now that I’m become increasingly aged I understand why we do that.
Pattern: Undulating Rib Socks
Yarn: Claudia’s Handpainted (pretty sure)
Colorway: Who knows, and if I did it’s long discontinued
I had always been so bored by these conversations that I never expected the experience of how personally fascinating it is that, for example a yarn has been in my stash for +/- 13 years. I remember visiting Seattle, back when Seattle still felt like “home”, and going to Acorn Street Shop with Cindy and those intervening years disappear. Past experience butts with the present like the ends of a piece of string yarn forming a loop. I’m not thinking about all that’s happened since that occasion; I’m marveling at that the fact that for a beat it feels like none of it has.
And then my brain sorts itself out and I’m back and realizing I’ve lost my audience and the thread both because nobody’s interested except the speaker in how long ago things happened or the thing that happened before or after as you try to pinpoint the year and season.
Outstanding can mean “not done yet” or it can mean “exceptionally good.” This post is to celebrate these socks’ graduation from one use of the adjective to the other after being in WIP purgatory for 6 years.
Folks, I want to be able to say that 6 years is a long time for a project to languish. And maybe it is, objectively, if you’re the sort of knitter who makes a point of finishing the things she starts. I’d say it’s about average for me if I compare it to the other WIPs in the basket/closet/bin/drawer/unused luggage/vault/mom’s house/off-site storage facility. I jest, I jest.
Sometimes life interrupts knitting, but more often a project is packed away because something’s not working. As you’d expect, upon taking this pattern up again I remembered exactly why I’d put it down.
The chart uses a red line and an indistinguishably thicker red line in the same ink to indicate two different things. Moreover – get ready for some controversial knitting semantics – I disagree with the idea that a 4-stitch jog constitutes a “row.” It’s not. Call it the jog it is. Put those 4 stitches at the end of the prior chart row. Or at the very least state what’s happening in the pattern instructions instead of relying on a chart symbol in the same ink used to indicate a pattern repeat. I mean, c’mon, help a knitter out.
By the time I picked these up again I had forgotten everything I had already learned the hard way except that the chart was garbage in a way I couldn’t remember. I’m really quite good at reading charts, though, so I powered through, much as I did the first go-around, and wondered what my problem had been years before until I realized the pattern wasn’t stacking the way it was supposed to. Back to ravelry’s helpful notes I went and oh, hello other instance where there’s a end of row red line impersonating a pattern repeat red line.
This became a project I was’t going to let outsmart me. I can be stubborn. When I find myself digging in it’s usually a sign that I”m cutting off my nose to spite my face, but this is only knitting so I dug in, knit the damn sock leg no less than 4 times before getting it right, and finally finally got my pair of socks.
Get ready for a slew of socks, I’m having a bit of a moment. Or maybe the new socks I’ve cast on will languish for 6 years before you hear about them. It’s happened before.
Back when I was making those Santa sweaters I had to order more yarn. Have you ever run short on yarn and needed to order more? Of course you have. So you know that it just doesn’t make sense to pay for shipping for only the few balls needed to complete your current project. The obvious, practical, and economical thing to do is to order a sweater’s quantity worth of something else at the same time, which was how this really delightful HiKoo Sueno came into my possession.
Pattern: Papillon by Svetlana Volkova
Size: Cast on medium with a gauge that produced something a bit smaller
Yarn: HiKoo Sueno in Rust
Confession time: I had assumed papillon was sort of botanical term and it wasn’t until googling the word while writing this post that I learned it’s a dog breed. I have to tell you, I am deflated. I have met many fine dogs and my family had dogs growing up, but I am not a dog person. Sorry/not sorry.*
Anyways, name aside, it’s a perfectly good pattern. I love the yarn. Good stitch definition, not itchy, orange without being ORANGE. Everything came up roses in this make. I didn’t even make careless mistake after careless mistake! Boring for blogging, eh?
The project I cast on next was a bust, though. I ran out of yarn almost before I started. You win some, you lose some.
*It has since been brought to my attention that papillon is the French word for butterfly. Who knew? Approximately 275 million French-speakers, but I’m not among them!
I’m late to the stranded yoke colorwork knitting fad that’s been bursting for the last few years. I always admired them, but if you’ve never priced out the cost of purchasing 3 or 4 or more different colorways of fingering- or dk-weight yarn, your virtual shopping cart’s total may give you a shock. I can usually justify a yarn or fabric purchase, but I could already feel before completing the purchase the guilt of an unfinished sweater I had sunk so much cash into and I dreaded having so many barely used skeins of yarn left over. I imagined them haunting my dreams, taunting me every time I dove into the stash, reminding me of that sweater that cost $$$$ but only used half that $$$$ in term of yardage. It would be yet more leftover yarn that I can’t get rid of yet never seems to serve a purpose beyond “maybe mittens, someday”. Buying yarn, you see, has a psychological cost as well.
The parade of fantastic patterns and makes kept coming. It was only a matter of time before I found the perfect gateway into stranded yoke colorwork sweaters.
It feels contrary to knitterly consensus to admit that apart from its obvious gorgeousness, I started with this pattern because it uses only two colors. What knitter worth her or his salt is trying to limit the amount of yarn on hand? The leftovers from this sweater, I rationalized, could be used in my next, and the leftovers from that one into the one thereafter, and so on. It would be a sort of step-up plan into the really colorful yokes.
I guess I’m OK with stash creep if it’s gradual.
Also in the forecast: maybe some mittens? Someday?
Because socks are my on-the-go take-anywhere-and-everywhere knitting I forget how fast they fly off the needles if you just sit down and work on them. It took me 4 months to get to just past the gusset on the 2nd sock knitting these in found moments outside the house. It took me me a cheesy holiday movie and a bit of Christmas Eve morning to finish it off. Makes me wonder if the volume of knitting I accomplish out and about is worth the trouble of carrying it.
What am I even saying, OF COURSE IT IS.
And that’s all the holiday makes I have to share. Christmas is in books., or it will be soon after I get it all packed up and moved out of my living room.
Starting my super secret Christmas knitting in August was not planned. It was small-bite comfort knitting from a familiar and beloved pattern to satisfy my too-tired-to-be-inspired brain. It was nice that my mindless knitting projects also had purpose, but I knew myself too well to count my knitted chickens before they hatched. Having a deadline doesn’t guarantee motivation. Just because I start a thing in August doesn’t mean it will be done in time for Christmas this year or next or ever.
I had a friend who one Christmas was upset because she wasn’t going to get her holiday crafting done in time. She was in a bad place and I unwisely tried to reassure her it was going to be OK. “Is it? IS IT GOING TO BE OK?” she yelled. I couldn’t think of anything to say that wasn’t “Um, yes?” which, now that I was caught up with the magnitude of her stress levels I sagely refrained from blurting out. Instead I stood there awkwardly, realizing I had been dismissive and not at all reassuring, pissing her off all the more with my stunned silence. We’ve all been in that mental space and it wasn’t about the presents. It’s never about the presents.
This post, on the other hand, is ALL ABOUT THE PRESENTS. I hope you like gnomes because I’m about to introduce you to the 14 I made. First, family groupings:
The pattern is for male gnomes only. I added braids and left off beards to make lady gnomes even though neither I nor several of the recipients have enough hair to braid. But then most of the men don’t have beards, either, so I guess we’re even.
They came out a surprising variety of sizes considering I used size 1 needs and fingering weight yarn for all. I had a bit of work figuring out pairings and groupings, trying to coordinate colors and sizes before adding hair.
Amazingly they were done in plenty of time which wasn’t true for some of the other items I decided to toss in at the last minute. Leave to me, I thought, to finish the time consuming part and still end up late because of some random thing that ins’t. I was raised to believe that if you’re not early you’re late, but and when the post office pulled through and everything arrived in the nick of time (ha ha, couldn’t let that one pass) I decided to not think of them as almost-tardy, but perfectly-timed.