I live in a part of the Pacific Northwest that doesn’t get *that* cold, so I mostly get by with fingerless gloves. But then I got a dog and when I’m doing the last dog walk of the night it can be a bit nippy, so I switch to full mitts, the same ones I wear I go home to Canada in winter.
This should have worked perfectly except…
The warmer mitts don’t fit in my pocket, so I forgot them a lot on night walks.
Even when I remembered them, I wound up taking them off repeatedly so I could use my phone while Hatch checked his pee-mail.
So I made new mitts! The pattern is the Glitz Mitts from Knit Happy with Self Striping Yarn. I liked the fact that they’re knit with two different weights of yarn, and I made one of them alpaca for extra warmth. But then instead of closing the thumbs up I put in a few rounds of ribbing and left them open.
Turns out you only really need your thumb to play Pikmin while walking the dog, so they’re perfect! ❤️
My first finish for 2023 was the Winter Skies Cowl. This was an advent kit combining West Coast Yarn with a modular knitting pattern from PNW Knit Designs. It was pretty neat to get charts on little cards for easier mixing and matching!
The colour palette was listed beforehand so I knew I’d be getting something much more muted than my usual choices, which was fun. I hadn’t thought about it beforehand but it fits pretty well with my silver/charcoal jacket.
I don’t knit cowls much any more because they’ve been consistently my least worn knits, but with Hatch in my life now I do a lot more walking late at night when it’s cold enough to actually use one, so this one gets used nearly daily even though it’s too hot to wear during the day.
This was a joy to knit and even though it was my last advent kit finished, I never felt rushed or sick of it because I could change up the pattern as I went to fit my mood. The whole kit included stitch markers and beautiful scissors and stickers and it was really well thought out and fun. I’m so glad I got this one!
I bought these lovely yarns from the ChemKnits Spring Mini Series. My kid and I have been enjoying her tutorials for dyeing yarn with food colouring, and so I thought this would be a nice way to support the channel and give me and kiddo a week of videos to watch. Plus he loves rainbows. He didn’t watch all of them with me, but we did a bunch!
I was looking at my 2022 Fiber Goals and decided to try doing two at once: rainbows and skipping the pattern. But in case I decide to make a pattern later, I’m putting some notes here. If you’re an experienced knitter this is probably enough to knit this shawl. If you’re not comfortable doing stuff like using a stitch dictionary to fill in a different pattern into a space, this may not be enough for you. (There’s lots of great other patterns out there though! If you like rainbows and don’t love garter stitch, I recommend Shannon Squire’s Spell Shawl which is great for fading)
Shaping: My spring rainbow shawl is an asymmetric triangle (because it’s one of the shapes I wear most).
Starting: co 7. K3, place edge marker, k5.
Right side row: work edge pattern, slip marker, k2tog, work body pattern, then knit + yarn over + knit in one stitch then k1 for a double increase at the end. (1 dec + 2 inc = 1 inc for the whole row.)
Wrong side row: k4, do body pattern, do edge pattern (no stitch count changes)
Colour changes: I 2-row striped a few times between colours to get a bit of a fade. I sort of eyeballed it to start striping in the last 25% of the ball (so around 5g of the 20g skein) then striped until I ran out of the first colour. I actually ran right to the end of the first colour then cut the second colour and spliced it in rather than worry about whether I’d have enough for the full two rows.
Body: I don’t love garter stitch, but I like some of the properties of it: it lies pretty flat and it doesn’t take much brainpower to knit it. With that in mind, I dug through stitch dictionaries and settled on a pattern that was basically k2, p2 ribbing for 4 rows, 2 rows (1 ridge) of garter stitch, then swap it so the knit sections have purls above and vice versa, then another garter ridge and swap back.
Edge: #249 from the Japanese knitting stitch Bible.
Note that the body pattern is a 12 row repeat and the edge chart is not, which would make this annoying to put into a single chart. So just do them separately and it’s no big deal.
Bind off: I finished my striping to finish the blue and fully switch to purple, then swapped to chart #246 from the Japanese stitch dictionary. I did a bit of math to see how many repeats I could fit, and since it wasn’t exact, i continued doing the k-yo-k increases until I had one more complete repeat.
Years ago, a friend named the local bat who appears in the evenings at our house “Steven.” Since I can’t identify humans in the dark let alone bats, we have henceforth declared that all bats are named Steven. Which is why it’s especially appropriate to have two Stevens on your socks.
This isn’t a complete, perfectly tested pattern, but rather a recipe of components I used that you can adapt to suit you. I’m going with “the perfect is the enemy of the done” and posting what I can manage now rather than trying to be like a professional designer. As a result, this is not a beginner pattern. You’ll need a copy of the Japanese Knitting Stitch Bible until I get around to making my own charts for the cables. Have fun!
I used a delightful sock set from Valkyrie Fibers that came with the Kitty With A Cupcake Halloween box. You can use any sock set or yarns with decent contrast between them (for the colourwork) and a tonal or solid main colour (for the cables).
Stitch count / Gauge
I did my socks on 64 stitches and a US 1 needle because that works for me. The cable in these isn’t too big so whatever you use normally for plain stockinette socks will likely work for you. If you need more or fewer stitches, increase or decrease in units of 4 so the colourwork section on the bottom can be extended or reduced to fit.
I did my socks toe up on 64 stitches. I use a rounded toe as follows:
Cast on 24 stitches (12 for top, 12 for bottom) using Judy’s magic cast on.
Increase row: top: k1, m1r, k to 1 before end of top, m1l, k1. Bottom: same.
Increase every row until you reach 26 stitches per side (52 total). K one row, add another increase row, k 2 rows, add another increase row, k3 rows, add a final increase row (32 stitches per side, 64 total)
I knit around .65 inch of plain knit rows after this to get the bat to sit where I wanted.
Do the top chart (starting at the center line row) for Steven. You can repeat the chart twice or do as I did and use the + motif (bottom right) to fill out the bottom. This just means fewer long floats on the bottom of the sock.
If you start at the bottom of the chart like I did, the bats will be head-up to others but head down to you. I kind of like it this way, but if you don’t then just start at the top of the chart instead.
I knit another 8 rows plain before starting the cable. I used 1 repeat of motif 101 from the Japanese Knitting Stitch Bible, and added a border of two purls and a knit through the back loop on either side. I lined it up directly over Steven’s head; note that this uses an odd number of stitches so you will have one extra on one side.
I used a center-increase heel. Since my toes are wider than my ankles, I don’t quite increase all the way to double my bottom stitch count, so i increased to 60 stitches instead of 64. As a result, after turning the heel i have 60 stitches in total. I used a slip stitch heel and switched to the contrast colour when i started working on the heel stitches only.
Continue the cable pattern in front. If desired you can repeat it on the back too. If you did like I did and decreased your stitch count note again that your numbers for the back will be different than the front. I continued for two repeats of the cable because that lined up nicely, but you can do whatever.
I used motif 200 from the Japanese Knitting Stitch Bible. This is a 6 stitch motif, so if you used a different number of stitches than I did you might have to either increase/decrease/add an extra rib. I used the contrast colour.
This one’s for all the folk who might not “look” queer: the bi folk in “straight” relationships, the trans and non-binary folk who maybe don’t “look” queer to outsiders, the ace folk, and everyone else who struggles with whether they’re really “queer enough” for a LGBTQA+ space. This free shawl pattern is intended as a gift to the many people who’ve wondered how they fit in as well as those who are gloriously out.
I’m going to warn your right now that the name “Queer Enough” is also a pun on “Clear Enough” — I’m intentionally not writing out all the details because I’m worried if I aim to make it perfect and beginner-friendly it’ll never get out there. As such, I’d say this pattern requires intermediate-level pattern reading skills or the sort of mind that sees patterns easily. You might have to search for your own tutorials if you need ’em. But I know you can do it! You’re resourceful! Go you!
And if you’re the sort of person who *loves* filling in these details and just knows you can make this pattern better, please get in touch because I’m happy to have it improved, I just didn’t want to block myself from releasing it. I do plan to improve it as I go if I can.
This shawl was originally knit as part of the Quiet Queer Craftalong, a June-July knit-a-long intended to encourage folk to make things using patterns from queer designers and materials from queer dyers, kit makers, and more. I consider myself queer enough that this should count, but I always encourage you to also purchase patterns/materials from queer folk who make fiber arts part of their regular income! (I’m a computer security person professionally and get paid more than enough to be able to give away patterns but not everyone can afford to do that.)
Edit Aug 9, 2022: Added little repeat charts for each section. Also, thank you to the many people who told me the message and the title of this pattern resonated with you! <3
“Queer Enough” is a top-down crescent shawl pattern with simple lace and cable “rays” that come out from a center spine.
Gauge/Needle Size/Yarn are all flexible. Use what feels comfortable to you and make it as big or small, thick or thin as you like to wear.
My gauge was 21 sts and 36 rows /4 inches (unblocked in pattern) and I used a US 6 needle and sock/fingering weight yarn.
I used KnittedWit sock-weight yarn in an older version of a temperature rainbow kit available from the ShannaJean Etsy. These use 10g “gem” sock minis, which are smaller than the more commonly available 20g mini size. This particular yarn inspired the pattern because it has dark/light pairs of colour for the garter/lace rows to pop a bit more. These kits come with 14 colours, I only used 12 for my shawl.
You could get a nice effect by using a single main colour for one of the sections and minis for the other, or just using two skeins of yarn.
If you like to wear shawls wrapped around your neck like scarves, please note that the garter section may tend “stick out” and be more visible, particularly if it’s been a while since your shawl was blocked. If you tend to wear your shawls less bunched up, the lace section will block to be larger and potentially more visible. You can choose your colour configuration with those in mind! I used the brighter rainbow for the garter and the pastel rainbow for the lace.
Icord cast on/set up section:
Use Judy’s magic cast on to cast on 6 stitches (3 per side). We’ll be using this as a provisional cast on to make a 3-stitch icord edging, so you’re going to be leaving behind those rightmost three stitches until setup is done, and we’ll be adding one more to the “left behind” section with each row.
Row 1 (first after cast-on): knit all 6 stitches.
Rows 2-10: Slip 3 stitches to left needle and work only those 3 stitches in this row. Knit front and back in first stitch, knit next two. Do not turn work. (increases 1 stitch)
Once this is done you should have 15 stitches on the needle.
(If that all sounds terrible/confusing, you can also make a 9 row long icord and pick up 9 stitches along the side and three stitches at the beginning for a total of 15. I just wanted to try a cast on option that wouldn’t include picking up stitches.)
You can mentally divide your 15 stitches like this:
3 left icord border,
2 left shawl body,
2 for left leaning cable,
1 for center,
2 for right leaning cable,
2 right shawl body,
3 right icord border.
Row 11 (wrong side): slip 3 (place marker if you like to have a border marker), knit front and back, knit 3, place left spine marker, slip 1, place right spine marker, knit three, knit front and back (place border marker if desired), slip 3. (increased by 2, stitch count 17)
I didn’t bother with border markers, but I’ve noted where they go in case you want them. Slip them as you come to them from now on.
Row 12 (right side): knit 3, knit front and back, knit 3, right leaning 1 by 1 cable, slip spine marker, left-leaning 1 by 1 cable, knit 3, knit front and back, knit 3 (increased by 2, stitch count 19)
You’re now set up to start in a garter section.
General Pattern Overview:
Your shawl is going to come in 5 “wedges”: two matched borders on the edges, two “body” sections, and one slipped stitch spine in the center.
Right Border icord + increase:
knit 3, knit front and back (right side, increase 1)
knit front and back, slip 3 (wrong side, increase 1)
Right Body section: this will vary depending on whether you’re doing a garter or lace section.
The garter section features cables and a spine that “float” over the garter stitch, with 9 stitches between garter rays (10 if you include the bottom part of the cable, for a total of 11 stitches per repeat).
Right side row:
Border + increase: Knit 3, kfb
Work right wedge:
If you have enough space before the first ray (12 stitches) to add a full repeat then do so by working a 1:1 right leaning cable, k9. This should take you to 1 stitch before the next ray
Knit to 1 before ray, work 1:1 right leaning cable. There will always be 9 knits between cables (or 10 stitches between rays of you count the bottom of the cable as a stitch)
If you have enough space before the center marker (12 stitches) to add a full repeat then do so. K9, 1:1 right leaning cable.
Slip center marker, knit 1, slip center marker
Work left wedge:
If you added a repeat in the right wedge center, do it again on the left wedge center. (work 1:1 left leaning cable, k9. This should take you to the next ray.)
Knit to the ray, work 1:1 left leaning cable. There should be 9 knits between cables in the middle
If you added a repeat in the right wedge edge, do it again on the left wedge edge.
Increase+ border: kfb, knit 3
Wrong side row:
Slip 3, kfb
Knit to center marker but slip each ray as you come to it (I find it easier to use stitch markers to mark the rays, but you can count)
Slip center marker, slip 1, slip center marker
Knit, slipping rays when you come to them
Kfb, slip 3
If you find out your stitch counts are off so there’s not enough space between rays (it should always be 9 knit stitches or 10 if you’re counting and include the bottom half of the cable) or your left and right sections aren’t set to start a new ray at the same time, you can fudge them by adding an increase or decrease next to where the ray happens; the rays can disguise the adjustment. (Or you could go back and fix the mistake, but who has time for that? I give you permission to fudge if you need it.)
If you miss a slip on a ray, you can correct it on the right side by undoing that stitch and letting the yarn hang behind.
The lace section features “rays” coming out from the center spine with yarnovers on each side and a decrease on the outer edge. The center ray needs to line up with the previous row.
Right side row:
Work border + increase: k3, kfb
Work right wedge:
If you have enough space (12 stitches) before the first ray, start a new ray with ssk, yo, k2tog, yo, knit 7 (which should take you to 3 before the first ray.)
[knit to 3 before next ray, ssk, yo, k2tog, yo] repeat until center marker. There should be 7 knit stitches between inner rays.
If you have enough space before the center (at least 11 stitches), start a new ray with k7, ssk, yo, k2tog, yo.
Slip center marker, k1, slip center marker
Work left wedge:
If you worked a new repeat on the right wedge center do it again on the left. (Start a new ray with yo, ssk, yo, k2tog ssk, yo, k2tog, k7.) This should take you to the stitch before the next ray
[knit to next ray, yo, ssk, yo, k2tog] repeat until last 4 border stitches. There should be 7 knit stitches between inner rays.
If you increased on the right edge, do the same on the left edge. You need at least 15 stitches including the 4 stitch border+increase), start a new ray with k7, yo, ssk, yo, k2tog
Increase + border: kfb, k3
Wrong side row:
Slip 3, kfb
Purl to center marker
Slip center marker, slip 1, slip center marker
Purl to last 4 stitches
Kfb, slip 3
The new rays should be paired: the two center ones happening at the same time, and the two edge ones happening at the same time (but not all 4 at once). If your stitch counts don’t match in these places, you’ve probably made a mistake. You can go back and correct it or just fudge it
In the lace section, the easiest place to adjust without it being noticeable is the decrease beside the ray: make it a double decrease (to remove an extraneous stitch) or make it a k (to add one).
Continue this section until you want to switch back to garter. I stopped after a wrong side row when I no longer had enough in my mini skein to complete two rows. You can use a scale to figure this out and maximize your use of yarn or just eyeball it. I won’t tell. I actually switched yarns near the end of a row because I got in a groove and didn’t realize I was running out of yarn a few times and I don’t find it very noticeable.
If you’re feeling fancy you can start the lace repeat a bit early and fit only one yarn over and decrease in. I’ll leave this as an exercise to the reader. Please note that although the shawl increases are all on the outside, because of the way the rays tilt you will have +1 space to count towards your repeat in both the center and edge sections. So if you start your half-lace the instant you can, you’re going to need to keep it going twice before you get to a full repeat. If none of this makes sense just do the repeats when you’ve got the full 11 stitches and save yourself the headache.
Lace to Garter Transition Row:
I found one extra yarn over helps make the cabled rays and the lace rays line up better. They won’t line up perfectly unless you block it very carefully (and as you’ll see below, that’s not an option in my life) but I like the transitions better this way.
Right side row:
Knit 3, kfb
Right side: knit to 3 before each ray, ssk, yo, 1:1 right leaning cable, knit to center marker
Slip center marker, k1, slip center marker
Left side: knit to ray, 1:1 left leaning cable, yo, k2tog, knit to last 4 stitches
kfb, knit 3
For the wrong side row and onwards follow the garter pattern.
Continue swapping between garter and lace sections until you run out of yarn or you decide you’re done.
These charts are intended to help you see visually how to line up the sections so that the rays continue in unbroken lines. (The lines will, however, still be a little wobbly at the transition unless you’re very careful about blocking them. It’s ok.)
Here’s a very-wide chart to show how everything fits together:
And here’s it split into two hopefully more readable segments:
If I try to make a printable version of the pattern I guess I’ll have to make these prettier.
For my shawl, I ended on a lace section. I like the way the lace can be blocked to points so I used a strechy bind off added a picot at the end of each ray. If you don’t like frilly edges, you could also try ending on a garter section and using an icord bind off.
Start the last two rows on a wrong side row: slip 3, kfb, knit to 4 before end, kfb, slip 3. Turn work.
We’re going to do a stretchy picot bindoff where the picots go over the end of each ray.
Bind off part: knit 2, take two on right hand needle and knit 2 together through back loop (bound off 1 stitch). After that first pair, you can just k1, knit 2 on right hand needle together through back loop. (Every time you add a picot you’ll be back to the knit 2 beginning again, though.)
Picot part: cable cast on 2 then continuing binding off as before.
Bind off with picot row: bind off 1, picot, bind off until stitch before ray, picot. Continue in this manner until you reach the center spine. On the left side of the shawl, switch to adding picots after binding off the ray stitch. Add one more picot when you reach 2 stitches left at the end.
Finishing the Shawl
Like most lace projects, this shawl should be wet-blocked and stretched well for best effect.
People always seem to have questions about blocking. Unfortunately, my process is ridiculous because I have a child who wants to help. So here it is for posterity, but what you should do is search for someone else’s blocking instructions if you need them.
Blocking this shawl was a lengthy process:
1. Soak shawl 2. Squeeze shawl and put in salad spinner 3. Child hears salad spinner and nearly has meltdown because he wanted to do it. I manage to negotiate not re-wetting the shawl so we can “start over” 4. Dog hears child with salad spinner and comes to investigate 5. Child determines that face licks are detrimental to his process and banishes dog from kitchen. 6. Dog waits a few minutes then goes around to the other door and gets banished again. 7. Child decides this moment must be recorded (see reel), gets mad at mom for not hitting the video button and instead getting the second picture. 8. Shawl is finally released from its torment and taken downstairs. Gate is locked so dog can’t follow. 9. Dad opens gate to follow and brief altercation with child ensues. Dad insists he is not a dog who has learned to open gates, and not trying to horn in on special shawl blocking activity. 10. Blocking mats have previously been used for pom pom snowball fight and some cleaning must occur. 11. Shawl is blocked while child adds “traps” with extra pins and wires and a “timer” made from a stitch counter. 12. Child explains his creative process in great detail. Possibly as an attempt to postpone bedtime.
And there you have it, 12 “easy” steps. As I said, search for someone else’s blocking tutorial if you need one that doesn’t include child management.
I hope this is enough that at least a few people can make a Queer Enough shawl of their own. Thanks for reading!
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a sucker for tiny daily packages of yarn, but my enthusiasm for opening them is a bit beyond my ability to actually use them. (Oh, let’s be honest, my enthusiasm for all things yarn is beyond my knitting and crocheting speed.) I’m glad to see a few more countdown/advent style yarn things coming at non-December times of the year so I can spread them out! But that doesn’t stop me from wanting all the December goodies, especially since I have an end of year birthday to celebrate. It feels weird to be thinking about these so early, but since the folk who make them need to order supplies and dye early a lot of the ordering forms went up months ago.
Ones I’ve done in previous years that I probably won’t do again:
Jimmy Beans Wool Craftvent. My first advent style yarn box! I’ve had 3 of these now and they’re delightful, but I’m not excited about this year’s ornament box given that I still have crochet ornaments from 2017 to finish.
Indie Untangled Countdown. The previews and theme for this year looks great but I’m planning to sit this one out. The last one I did was was definitely a “wait and see all the yarn before deciding what to make” case and I don’t want the yarn to sit around for years again.
Must Stash Yarn sock advent: less of a kit, just a cute holiday colour and a nice pattern to go with it. I really liked the hobbit one I did, and I liked last year’s pattern but did it on different yarn later in the year on previously stashed yarn. We’ll see!
Wildstar Fibers new year’s countdown: 10 mini skeins counting down to new years. Loved this last year but I don’t think she’s doing it again and to be completely honest I haven’t knit up last year’s yet anyhow.
The Katrinkles advent. I loved the tools one but I have most of the little tools I want from them so it probably makes more sense not to get a mystery set. Although at least it doesn’t add to my knitting workload! I was pretty tempted by the quilt one last year though so I’m not going to make a final decision until the email goes out.
This year’s (expected) repeats:
By Sarahs mystery sock. If Sarah does one, I’ll definitely get it. These have been such a joy and the small amount of knitting makes it easy to handle alongside other kits.
Imagined Landscapes advent gnome. I keep telling myself I’ll just get the pattern and enjoy the story then do the gnome at some less busy time, but realistically I’m probably going to wind up knitting it once I see it.
Knitted Wit countdown. These have been very thoughtful and I like the community, plus I really like having one that goes right to the end of the year, but I’m worried about taking on too much! So I haven’t ordered yet but it’s reasonably likely that it’ll be a birthday gift to self, I’m just waiting for a more local yarn store to list it.
New to me this year:
ChemKnits Chanukah countdown. Kiddo and I have been making good use of Rebecca’s videos for food-dye yarn experiments and we had fun getting the spring yarns and watching along, so I’m probably going to sign up for this when it opens. The spring set is a rainbow that I intend to use together, but I suspect these may be more random stash enhancement that can be split up into separate projects. We’ll see!
Winter Skies advent from pnw_knitdesign and westcoastyarnco. I love her colourwork “doodle” patterns with all the charts and subbed them in to the Halloween Advent I did last year, so I’m really looking forwards to this one. I expect it’ll be a lot more subdued than my yarn choices have been lately (what with 2022’s “knit more rainbows” goal) and I’m thinking that might be nice. This is the one calendar that I’ve actually already ordered for December!
This year I got the Teal Torch Knits summer solstice box and it’s currently hung up to decorate my office while I try to decide on a good sweater pattern for this perfect fade. I’ve got to say, though, fades are kind of boring as mystery packs because so many of the colours are reasonably predictable and look similar. So even though I love the yarn, I don’t know if it fully scratches the mystery itch as it were?
Last year I tried Jimmy Beans Wool’s 13 day Halloween countdown and it was fun. I swapped in some charts from the autumn doodle pattern and they really made it cooler.
This year, I signed up for a package from Kitty With A Cupcake & Valkyrie Fibers for a countdown of spooky-cuteness and a skein of sock yarn to knit as a countdown project. I’m so excited!
So… I had a summer solstice countdown and I’m looking forwards to a Halloween one, but December is still looking busy with 1 ordered and 4 more earmarked for me to order if I don’t miss the signup window. Ridiculous? Eh, probably. And I haven’t even listed the ones I looked at and didn’t even make the “short” list!
But here comes the really tricky part: my kid shares my love of tiny packages, so I’m going to have to get him set up with some countdowns too! In previous years, I filled up an old craftvent calendar with chocolates and socks and bath bombs and random tiny toys, but it can be hard to find things that fit in those tiny boxes. I did a birthday one for him last year and it’s about time to start thinking about getting that started!
Update: I forgot one I already ordered! Channy’s “I ❤️ indie dyers” yarnament advent. It’s got so many cool dyers involved.
As in previous years, I chose four Fiber Goals for 2022. That small number always leaves me with a bunch of ideas that I toss out there on the post that I wasn’t committing to finish but also wanted to record as ideas. A year is a long time so some of those always manage to happen even if they didn’t make the top four.
De-stashing: I was lucky enough to find a local friend to take a big box of acrylic at the beginning of the year. She’d gotten into making crocheted baskets, so this box of sturdy yarn I’d “inherited” from someone else’s mother in law was actually useful! And just recently, my sister uncovered 7 giant tubs of yarn in my grandmother’s basement, and I was able to find a different crocheting friend who could take those. Cleaning out my grandmother’s house is a huge job and I was glad to have been able to help with one tiny thing from far away even though it was kind of a drop in the bucket. This was not the first cache of yarn my sister has found, but hopefully it’ll be the last big one!
Finishing some languishing WIPs: I jumped on a challenge from Sox Therapist and finished my Tunisian shawl finally as well as a Flickering Light Shawl that I’d started in New Zealand and never finished after we got back. I thought I probably wouldn’t be doing more Tunisian for a while but I keep thinking about it so maybe there’ll be some smaller swatch/dishcloths in my future?
Year-long project: I did the Get Together Advent wrap as a 24-week project (so half-year), but I also have an embroidery constellations kit and I’m doing zodiac signs around the year. (well, ok, I’m behind by a few weeks right now, but I’ll get caught up.)
Fingering Weight Sweater: As mentioned in the previous post: it’s started! I’m using the “I love me more than you” box of minis from Passionknits yarn to do big chunky stripes on the Playdate sweater from Tin Can Knits. It’ll be a rainbow when it’s done!
The Act of Sewing: I made the top, which was not a great fit and needs re-thinking, and the skirt with added pockets, which has become a wardrobe staple this summer. I might make a few more skirts.
Glowforge: I made an embroidery floss holder as part of a care package for Marlene, and a no soliciting sign for our front door.
Knitting machine: We made a tube with some of the yarn my kid dyed and he uses it a lot for play. Most often it’s attached to a toy so he can play a fishing game involving throwing all his stuffed animals on the floor then tossing his “fishing rod” out to touch the one he wants to catch. But I haven’t done much since then!
That’s a pretty large number of non-goals achieved or in progress! Not all of them, but the destashing ones were especially a relief.
Most of what I’ve done since then was this one sweater, which was “something famous” and “self striping” and “kit in stash” so it definitely counts:
That’s the Sock Arms Cardigan, knit from a kit from Must Stash Yarn. It’s a delightful pattern, but I accidently used the wrong needle for one arm and ripped that back, then accidentally-ish put in too many body increases and didn’t like the result. So I basically knit it one and a half times and it’s still not done. I had to take a bunch of breaks because it actually started hurting my hands in repetitive strain way! (And I only very very rarely get any sort of pain from knitting, so it was a big concern and I took it seriously.)
Anyhow, I’ve taken the month of December off for advent/countdown calendar knits, so the sweater will be back on the needles at the end of the month. I’m eager to wear it despite how long it’s taking!
1. Knit something famous
That’s 2 gnome knit a longs, and 3 gnomes because the second knit along had two.
I also had been intending to do Wingspan in the fall, but the sweater sucked up a lot of time. Plus I made a cute Halloween knit along hat that didn’t fit into any yearly goals:
2. Self striping stuff
Honestly it was more about the gradients for the last part of the year. I couldn’t resist casting on from Michele’s new book, Brioche Knit Love:
And then I finally gave in to the temptation to get some yarn from Gauge Dyeworks, which has a fancy gradient where you pull from one end to do the heel, and wind off some chunks in between the matching balls for colourwork on these Wildflower Meadow socks. I guess they might count as famous too?
3. Kits in stash
I did a few more Christmas ornaments from my 2018 Little Box of Crochet advent. I knew I wouldn’t finish them in 2018 because I had a baby, but I’m impressed that I’m still doing a few in 2021. They’re kind of a delight and I’m not in a hurry, though.
The holiday gnomes also used up an old Jimmy Beans Beanie Bag kit, so that was nice. I even found some dpn holders when I was going through the kits! I seldom use dpns (I’ve gotten fond of the small circulars and occasionally magic loop) but I use dpns for gnomes so they can live in that kit now.
I also did something I haven’t done in a while and tossed my stash to see what I have on hand. I definitely still have a bunch of kits, but I was impressed by how many two-skein sets I’d paired up with no particular plan. I’ve got a huge box of those mostly in one place now to facilitate using them.
4. Crochet cables
Nothing new on this goal. And that’s ok! I learned what I wanted to know. And I learned again with that and the ornaments and the Tunisian shawl that it’s harder to fit crochet into my day, so it’s going to continue to be a sometimes thing around here.
These goals worked out really well, though I’ve still got a few things on my famous knits short list that I haven’t done, and I’ve got lots of kits and self striping yarn.
I’m strangely happy with the state of my stash after moving things around a bit, in that I can almost always put together something I want to make with minimal effort. Digging through it didn’t find as many gaps as last time and left me feeling like I didn’t need to go shopping! Which would be more convenient if it hadn’t happened right when it was time to buy myself some presents (my mom sends money for my birthday/Christmas every year and I like to choose at least one tangible thing to buy from her!). I’m going with the Sincere Sheep Made Here yarn subscription again this year for my year-long birthday present. (Happy birthday to me!)
The stash still needs to shrink a bit, but I feel like that will happen in time as long as I keep knitting. Still eyeing those expensive sock machines to make it happen faster, though!
So that’s a wrap on this year. January 1 I’ll post up my 2022 goals!
My mom paid me the ultimate compliment a sock knitter can receive: she let me know that some of the socks I made for her were starting to wear out! It’s going to be a while before I can go do some darning for her, so I cast on another pair instead.
The yarn is from the well-named Must Stash (they do a weekly drop off colours and while they do revisit colourways it can take months so if you love something you kind of have to snag it when you can). I stashed this one with Mom socks in mind because it’s just so beautiful!
Okay, the colour is maybe not the best for showing off tiny cables, but they’re fun.
You can tell from the photo above that my mom’s foot and mine aren’t exactly the same size! I don’t mind knitting bigger socks when I know they’re going to get worn, though!
It’s funny: when I started knitting, I thought I’d never really do socks because it seemed like so much work for something you’d wear out. (Plus I lived in New Mexico then where wool socks aren’t always the most desirable.) But I decided to do Socks on Vacay one year and I’ve slowly but surely fallen in love with wearing them. Especially this year where I’m out walking the dog in the cool wet, they’re very suited for our damp winters. They’re just… Really nice? I don’t even know how that happened, but I don’t really mind.
The Dread Pirate has definite opinions about my finished object photos, so this was his composition. Then he did a little dance and I think sang a song about grandma socks. Bringing joy even before they made it to my mom, for sure. 😉
The yarn is amazing. It looks like a perfectly elegant tonal in daylight and brilliantly variegated under black light.
The pattern is full of twisted stitches that really pop. It’s both charted and written, and it’s well described but the repeats are long enough and the pattern just unpredictable enough (particularly around the top of the butterfly wings) that I had to put in extra coloured section dividers and stitch markers to stay on track. Definitely not an easy knit!
The end result is worth the effort, I think, but I was very relieved that I was doing the small size and wouldn’t need to repeat that last chart again!
Overall, great yarn, great pattern, and a really beautiful knit. And it proved to be the only “smaller shawl” I made from my 2020 goals (and i didn’t finish it until 2021!)
Normally I travel in December, which limits the amount I can participate in advent or countdown type stuff that all happens at the end of the year. But with covid-19, there was no travel to be had, and I might have gone a bit overboard as a result. In the end, I did 3 knit-a-longs and opened both a 12 day and a 31 day countdown calendar on top of that!
BySarahS mystery sock knit-a-long
I did a BySarahS mystery-a-long in May and September and they’re very fun. Simple sock knitting, mystery colours, cute surprises, and a friendly bunch of folk mostly on the other side of the country. This year’s socks were super cute:
And here’s one of the clever extras:
This was as usual pretty relaxing knitting at not too much of it, so I knew I’d be able to take on more than one advent thing.
Attitude of Gratitude
This was a fun kit from Knitted Wit and Shannon Squire, two of my favourites for yarny things. A rainbow shawl in many mini packages, plus a daily deck of gratitude cards to get us thinking about the good things. I recently learned that my grandmother used to keep a gratitude journal, and while my daily thoughts were definitely not as detailed as hers apparently were, it was kind of fun to feel that connection to her.
I learned that I *really* love some of those rock candy colours that Knitted Wit has.
The finished shawl:
This one has been one of my most worn shawls since I finished it, and I try to think about something I’m grateful for every time I wear it.
I loved the summer gnome-a-long but had been planning to read the emails but maybe not knit this one because I already had two advent projects on the go. But then my friend Marlene got me a kit as a present so I had no excuse!
This was more interesting knitting, nicely spaced out, with some story and recipes and stuff. I learned that I stress out too much about variegated colourways in small circumference knitting, but everything worked out beautifully despite my nerves.
Since I had time after the two knit alongs ended on the 24th, I also finished my Symphony Shawl. This was a kit from Sweet Georgia that I did as a year long project.
J somehow failed to notice that the shawl was stuck on my fleece when he was taking the picture, but with the toddler and puppy frolicking around it’s hard to blame him. Definitely a good photo to sum up a 2020 project!
A Twisted Year’s End
This was a countdown to the end of 2020 calendar of minis from a variety of indie dyers, put together by Indie Untangled.
Lots of new-to-me dyers! I’d kind of expected to want to go buy full size offerings, but that didn’t happen because honestly I just wasn’t in a shopping mood by the time their marketplace opened, especially with all the shipping problems folk were having. But I followed a few new folk on Instagram so I’ll no doubt find a skein I’m in love with eventually.
Katrinkles 12 days of tools
This is the one I didn’t post about, because I opened it early in the month and some people saved it for post-Christmas so I didn’t want to post spoilers. Also, to be honest, I was feeling kind of weird about having all these calendars especially in such a year. But these were fun, and I use some of them regularly. Particularly this little personalized box which holds my yarn needle and some removable stitch markers.
And also this yarn width tool which has become my spinning companion.
The Katrinkles and BySarahS packages had matching flamingos. 🙂
I didn’t have too much trouble keeping up with the knitting, but it definitely *felt* like I’d overdone it on the calendars.
I’ll play it by ear next year depending on who’s offering what (and whether I’m traveling again!) but I don’t think I’ll do the Katrinkles or Indie Untangled boxes again. They’re both great, but I think I got what I wanted out of them. I’ll be making less mystery purchases from them both for sure, though.
I’ll definitely do mystery gnomes and bysarahs mkals again, but maybe I’ll skip the Christmas ones next year and do something new? I already skipped the Temperature blanket kit that followed Attitude of Gratitude, but I *did* get a rainbow without planning to do a blanket. (I’m thinking shawl but not ruling out having cute tiny stripes in a sweater or socks.)
Next year I think I’ll stick to one or maybe two in December. But in keeping with the Attitude of Gratitude, I’m going to say that I’m very grateful I could afford all these, that I got to support so many women-owned small businesses in a year that was hard for many, and that I had time to knit and enjoy so many beautiful things.
I really want to design my own daily package kit, too. Maybe one day I’ll do it!
The yarn is a real winner here because it’s so perfect for colourwork. Very forgiving, blocks like a dream, easy to felt in ends as needed since it’s non-superwash, and the colour palette was perfect for this project.
This is not a pattern for the faint of heart: I found it easy to get caught up in the chart and miss the written directions (which are NOT “just follow the chart” but have increases/decreases/ribbing). And honestly, it’s just complicated non-repeating stranded colourwork. Plus I somehow managed to hurt my hands in the middle of knitting them and had to take a few days off to recover.
The results are cute, though! I did them to be larger, with no decreases and a larger (US 2) needle size so that they’d fit my husband. I rarely knit him anything but we actually made time to watch the Mandolorian together, one of few adult TV shows we’ve watched (though we also loved Carmen Sandiego, which is suitable for watching with our 3 year old although he’s not as excited about it as we are.) I managed to finish them the week we had snow, so at least they got a day or two of use before going away as spring starts here!
2016 Fiber goals are in bottom of 2017 post above.
1. Knit something famous.
I’ve never knit a Find Your Fade or anything by Stephen West. But I did try something by Casapinka and some Imagined Landscapes Mystery Gnomes this year, and I had a lot of fun! I’m not going to bother to categorize what “famous” means, but I have a few things in my queue I’ve seen shared or knit or just talked about a lot. Maybe it’s time to try a few more things: they must be loved by others for a reason, right?
2. Self striping stuff
I’ve put together a nice little cache of self striping sock, but I’ve been doing sock knit a longs that don’t use those yarns. Time to give that self striping some love. Probably mostly in socks, but I’ve been eyeing that Sock Arms sweater (though I’d have to cardigan mod it). I’ll probably allow some gradients too. I just got a cool book for my birthday to help with this one!
3. Kits in Stash
Revisiting a 2018 goal: I love buying kits and making my own preplanned sets of yarn for projects but I have a habit of saving these for travel, which obviously didn’t work out in 2020 and 2021 isn’t looking so hot for that either. The queue searching this year was really helpful, so I think pulling out some of those preplanned kits (and maybe putting some in my queue if they’re not) might similarly get my mind going. And if I don’t think I’m going to do them, maybe it’s time to earmark some for gifts or release the yarn into the general stash.
4. Crochet cables
I’ve seen a couple of beautiful designs with crocheted cables, and I was sorely tempted to pick up this year’s Jimmy Beans Wool Craftvent box because I loved the design. But by the time it came around, I already had two other advent-y things in mind, so I’m putting it on this list instead. There are so many neat crochet techniques, maybe I’ll learn a few more if I get back to picking up my hook!
Other goals I’d considered:
Learn some new spinning techniques, but I’m pretty sure I’ll do that without putting it on a list. Core spinning is the next technique I think I want to play with (not because I think I’ll love it but because I have a batt to use and it seems like a fun thing to try!) I also got some new equipment to learn so I’ll start with that in 2021.
I’m also considering being more intentional about what I buy, but I don’t really want to resolve to have a “yarn diet” because (a) no fun and (b) I have money and many small businesses in this industry could use it. But I’m low on physical space in my office for more yarn, so I need to figure out some changes that feed my love but takes up less space and still helps the fiber world. More yarn as presents? Buy ridiculously expensive fancy fibers? Make sure every nth purchase supports minority businesses? Upgrade tools? Buy more patterns? (Ok, that last one is definitely good.) But since I’m not sure how yet, this didn’t feel like a full goal yet. I’ll experiment, I guess.
I still want to spend more time on dyeing, since that was fun, but I may stick to food colouring so it’s still toddler friendly. My order of undyed yarn is apparently gone astray, though, so it may be a while.
I got the $2.49 Craftsy subscription, so I’m going to explore that some. Maybe learn some dye techniques as well as the spinning I’ve enjoyed this far.
I debated an embroidery goal but honestly, I’m kind of happy to just muck around and try to find my style(s). So far I know it involves a lot less satin stitch! Maybe I’ll try to do some embroidery on clothes? Learn to use the embroidery machine a friend gave me when he moved? I don’t really want to put pressure into this one.
I’ve got design and design tool goals in mind, but I don’t want to put them on the list because I’m trying to find space in my day for them that doesn’t take away from family time or sleep. Most of my goals I can do without isolating myself (eg, I knit while toddler finishes lunch) but not these ones.
Basically, I wanted to stick to goals that were fun for me without too much deep thinking. So that’s what made the top four. Here’s to 2021!
The big work in progress for me this time was my 2018 Little Box of Crochet Advent. I still haven’t finished it, but I made it further and I’m pretty happy with that. I may turn the rest into my year-long project because they’re good palette cleansers, but if I crochet too much at once sometimes I get a cramp in my hands and have to take a while off.
I didn’t hit the queue as hard, but I *did* finally finish the Aspen Leaf scarf, which was the design that inspired me to give brioche another shot!
2. A Bit of Brioche.
I did petit brioche, then the Heliotrope hat and made it to the Aspen Leaf scarf that was my brioche goal, but I’m definitely not done.
I took a second PDXKnitterari class and started her Syncopation Shawl, which I put on pause to do seasonal things but intend to finish in the new year. I may restart it, though: I’d been thinking about doing the thinnest width but after rescuing a shawl end from puppy mouth today I’m thinking the wide one might be safer to wear right now!
3. Top to Toes
I did a few more top down socks! The top down version of my favourite Sundae Socks:
And two more Made By SarahS knit a longs:
So definitely a success!
4. Some Smaller Shawls Sweaters!
As well as finishing my Pocca sweater, I did a Hazelwood sweater:
And the Stepping Stones cardi:
And I bought some lovely yarn for the california poppy one from By Hand Serial (though I got the blue colour, because having just completed a yellow sweater I didn’t think I was in the mood for a peachy one). It’s going to be my first adult sized fingering weight sweater!
It wasn’t the goal I’d planned, but I’m pretty pleased with how it worked out.
And I *did* cast on for one single-skein shawl, but it got dropped in favour of end of the year knitting, so it may be my first finish of 2021.
Plus, as I mentioned in the mid year update, I did a bunch of the goals I’d considered but hadn’t chosen too. Pretty good for a very unusual year!
I know a lot of folks have had more time for hobbies, but I’m doing a full time job in 4 hours per day and being the solo parent on duty for the other 4. So I’ve got a lot less time to craft than I used to and I spent a month pushing burnout before we got my workload right (mostly I had to drop projects that needed a lot of meetings or weren’t in good time zones, and I took up more training and documentation instead). So I’m really happy we managed to find ways to do things like the yarn dyeing as a family, and glad that kiddo is starting to enjoy more independent play so I can knit and help him build/do/pretend when he wants to do it himself.
I mentioned in August that I seemed to be doing some unsettled knitting. Fast forwards a few months, and I’m entering a bit of a pattern: one big project for sitting, one tiny project for knitting on the go, and a few more complicated things for my “nights off” (where I’m not in charge of getting kiddo to sleep). Pre-pandemic, I typically had one on the go project and (sometimes) one bigger home project but since they’re both pretty simple right now, I’m enjoying rotating in a few other things that engage my brain differently.
Big project right now is the Stepping Stones Cardigan.
It’s a boxy open front sweater with nice lace detailing on the front, hem and cuffs. The pattern has a lot of options for customization of the sleeves and I really appreciated those. The lace made knitting the body seem not so repetitive.
I love the yarn, which is Arranmore Light from The Fiber Co in the colour Finian. It’s kind of got a rustic handspun 2 ply feel. It’s also unfortunately easy to tear a single strand if it gets caught on something like a zipper or an over-enthusiastic 3 year old who wants to be in my lap. So I got a new tool to help with that!
This is a yarn ball holder from Hansen (better known for their espinners). I’d coveted it since Tina from Black Sheep Fiber Emporium showed me hers, because it is a beautiful piece of engineering: perfect smooth wood, balanced bearings, thoughtful design. But it didn’t fit into my life then. I’m happy to say that it does now!
Small project right now is socks for my Mom.
It’s the usual Sundae Socks pattern with some mods. I’ve been keeping the yarn colour a surprise, but it’s a matched pair from Must Stash Yarn.
More complicated knitting is the Butterfly Dream Catcher shawl.
This is done in this great special yarn from Black Squirrel Berkeley called ‘sup witches. It glows under black light!
Other alternate night off projects:Crochet
I’ve picked up my Christmas ornament advent from Little Box of Crochet. I got this in 2018 and didn’t plan to finish it all in December, but two years later and I just finished day 6. Whoops. But I need ornaments this year and I didn’t before! Probably should have started earlier than November, though.
I’m still spinning but less regularly mostly because I’ve been getting paper books from the library and I can’t read those and spin! I need some more audiobooks. I usually enjoy podcasts but they’ve been kind of getting me down lately.
Craftsy sent me an email offering a full year for $2.49 and I’d wanted to try more of their spinning content so I did that and it’s helping keep my interest up because sometimes I watch spinning videos while knitting. I’m still not blown away by Craftsy. The content I’ve watched is good but the site itself makes it hard to find and doesn’t help you keep track of what you’ve watched, which gets more annoying the more I watch. But for $2.49 I already feel like I got my money’s worth out of it, so that’s ok.
I got a cute Christmas tree set from Dropcloth Samplers, but I haven’t gotten much further than the day I took this picture.
I also finally finished a wooden marble run kit I got to make with my toddler (who I guess is more of a pre-schooler now?). It wasn’t the easiest to do with his help, but we got out the washable markers and he coloured while I built. He coloured most of these not just the scribbles, but sometimes he told me I had to help fill them in if he got bored (and sometimes i did the first scribble and he filled in).
I feel like I have so many things I want to do and so little time before December hits and I switch over to the advent style packages I plan to knit. I might have gone a bit overboard on the advent things this year since I won’t be traveling: I got the ShannaJean Gratitude box, the BySarahS Christmas mkal, and I signed up for the Gnome one too. Plus I got the Katrinkles tool one, though that’s shorter and I don’t have to knit anything.
But on the bright side, Mom’s socks are the only ones I actually “need” to finish in the next couple of weeks if I want to mail them off in time for the holiday! And I don’t have to finish any of the advents on time either!
Pattern: Half the Knit Sky by @pdxknitterati inspired by photgraphic star trails. It’s such a great concept!
Yarn: Gold cache gradient in “Bleeding Heart” from @fiercefibers (bought at @pearlfiberarts) and silver twist in “Good Silence” from @madelinetosh (bought at @foryarnssake)
I always enjoy Michele’s patterns. They’re clever and often have stunningly beautiful results with easy to memorize patterns.
This one I stuggled with a bit not because it was hard but because I was so bad at counting anything over 9 stitches for some reason! Thankfully some stitch markers helped keep me on track without to many further incidents.
That gradient from Fierce Fibers nearly steals the show. I really loved that there were instructions and tips for using as much of the main colour as you could. I don’t usually mind some yarn leftovers, but splitting up a gradient this gorgeous was just not going to happen!
For a while there it matched my much beloved Hydrangea.
I was worried about the single ply (off-white) because I don’t always love it especially with colourwork, but it actually worked quite well in this pattern.
Of course the Dread Pirate wanted to get involved when I started taking pictures. He actually is getting some skills at styling and taking photos. But this time he just wanted to squish that beautiful yarn and who could blame him?
And I even won a finisher prize: a beautiful bee themed needle minder and a lanyard holder that says “vote” in beads.
This one’s going to get a lot of wearing as the weather cools down. Those dreams of clear skies and summer colours are a must for our rainy winters!
This time, I dragged my friend M into it. We’d been talking about doing something a little more epic together for her birthday this year, but then covid-19 hit and birthday in person had to be postponed. A sock knit a long is not at all the same, but at least it was something we could do together safely?
This time was a choose your own adventure sock on a camping theme: the pattern came with a little story about what you did, so you’d choose to, say, eat or swim, and open that package. Plus the colours weren’t the same between kits, so we didn’t have to worry about spoilers.
Possibly the cutest thing in the whole kit was the stitch marker from WeeOnes. I got a squirrel! ?️
We had huge wildfires with smoke during the first week of September, so it was maybe a bit too campfire-y. But with us all trapped in our houses and even mail delivery largely suspended due to unsafe conditions outside, it was really nice to have some tiny packages to open. I let the Dread Pirate open most of mine, though that did often mean I had to share my treats.
Sock 2 pictures below.
Lots of things around me weren’t working out, but this pair of socks was a bit of joy in a hard month in a hard year.
I suspect these socks may remind me of all the politics, the disease, the wildfires…
But also all the extra time with my kid, playing with all the tissue paper and shaking all the tiny yarn.
And also how even in the midst of awful, we found out we were prepared for a lot. We owned bedroom air filters (for my husband’s allergies), we had plenty of food on hand for a week of not going out, and I was doing a knit a long that helped us add some new treats and play to our routine while trapped.
So yeah, another successful pair of socks, but one with so many stories attached. Here’s to resilience and socks!
The Sharon Show was a mystery knit a long for a very long square shawl, easy knitting combined with some light hearted cat themed entertainment. I don’t actually love the long wraps, but I’d never tried a Casapinka pattern and I liked the pitch of $7 worth of entertainment.
It didn’t start off so well: my needles were too rough and the yarn colours weren’t thrilling me. The needles are the short ones from Knit Picks, which I love, but the finish on them wears off and the layered wood sometimes wears down at different rates. I temporarily fixed them with nail polish (the theory works but I think I’d like to sand and refinish them properly), and in the end I invested in some new tips from Chiaogoo. I love the Chiaogoo metal-core cables, and had recently learned that they made a shorter bamboo tip (4inch to knitpicks 3ish). It’s a bit pointy. I can knit with it but I have a toddler who launches himself into my lap, so the blunter can be a serious safety improvement! Still, these worked out well and hopefully I won’t have to replace/refinish them every few years.
My colour B just didn’t look good to me: the contrast was fine but I didn’t like it, and as a result I was finding any excuse not to knit it. So out it went, and I was a clue and a half behind.
After that it went a lot better, though!
Not all of the drinks appealed to me (when your body hates both alcohol and fizzy drinks, sometimes by the time you’re done substituting you don’t have much of a mix) but I really enjoyed The Floofy Tail enough to make a few variations.
What I really enjoyed later in the game was going off script, sometimes with the help of pictures people had posted in the forums.
This shawl and I made it though the wildfires, several books, and several other projects as I needed a break from it.
I started getting worried about how long it was getting and started shortening things up and wondering if I should skip the last clue. But I’d come so far! I took out some repeats and kept going.
Honestly, it was too much shawl for me, and though I enjoyed it, I was seriously wondering why I hadn’t committed that time to a much more useful sweater. Especially when it blocked out to 7 feet long and I thought “oh no, I’m never going to be able to wear this.”
But then I put it on and it fits perfectly!
And not *just* on my kids toy car. 😉
I’m going to need a selfie stick to show you those ends, though. 😉
Overall: very fun and what I was hoping for from the pattern. But I’m also very glad to be done, and next time a pattern tells me it’s going to be 5 feet long in the “small” size, I’m going to seriously consider doing a sweater instead!
I started the month planning to do a gnome mystery knit (because I’d never tried one) and The Sharon Show (because the pitch of $7 for cat themed entertainment appealed to me).
I did manage to finish the gnome, and it was such a delightful little thing that I’ll probably sign up for the next. The pattern was clever and even in something relatively small, had a few new techniques to try. (The slip-stitch cables in the beard, and the knit-on-purl-bumps applied hoodie/bunnyhug pocket.)
The Sharon Show did not go as well. I didn’t love my yarn choices, so I wound up casting something else while I was deciding if I even wanted to do it. Enter the Heliotrope hat.
And then I found a mistake many rows back and nearly put that project in timeout too. In the end, with some encouragement, I ripped back the brioche and kept going. Emboldened by that, I also ripped out the shawl and was so much happier with it that I made a token attempt to catch up.
But then I went on vacation this week, and it reminded me that I hadn’t really been doing the Socks on Vacay knit a long this year. So I abandoned the shawl again to cast on a sock and even took it to the beach so I could pretend for a few pictures that this was a normal kind of vacation (and not an exhausting week of strong-willed toddler parenting).
I finished the sock last night, and I haven’t even mentioned the spinning I’ve been doing!
I’m still a full clue behind on the shawl and haven’t finished the brioche, and I didn’t finish my second “intermission” spin before the Tour started today, but… It doesn’t matter. I’m loving the shawl pattern now. $7 *was* a good price for cat-based entertainment. The pattern is simple but the drink suggestions and catty section names make it fun. The brioche will keep giving me a break when I need something different. And the spin will just continue through to be my first skein of Tour de Fleece 2.0.
I think I’m even going to cast on another sock. My vacation may be drawing to a close, but I’ve got enough time to finish the second before labour day for socks on vacay! And then maybe I’ll finally get back to my very long delayed Geek Sock, which has been quietly happening as a tiny purse project on my self-care walks and other times I wanted something small.
Also happening this month was a tiny sewing project because my kid wanted a doggy bone he could carry around in his mouth.
And I also finished Half the Knit Sky, which deserves its own post but I’m just going to post a finished object here in case it’s a while before I do that.
And also Hazelwood, which was mostly done much earlier but I had a big fight with my sewing machine and had to order more yarn. It also deserves a full post, but for now, here’s just a finished photo!
I’ve been feeling unsettled a lot this month, and I think I’m knitting in a slightly unsettled way as a result. But in a world where we’re not going to solve a pandemic or US politics or racism any time soon, I guess I have been finding it reassuring to finish knit/spin/sew stuff even if I’m not doing it the way I normally would and instead flitting from thing to thing. The unsettled knitting, at least, is a thing that I think will pass.
This has been really successful! I finished up my Poca sweater that had been languishing for two years, the Cascadial Wrap that had been in there nearly as long (no blog post yet because it was finished in a tough week), and it’s kept momentum on things like the Craftvent shawl and Geek Socks that ran into snags and could easily have ended up abandoned.
The queue part hasn’t gone as fast as the WIPs, but I did get the Geek Socks from deep queue and honestly I feel like looking more often has helped me know and plan.
But I’d still like to get some next steps patterns in. I’ve got some yarn ready to go, but once it got hot here I didn’t feel like knitting brioche so much. (But sweaters were fine? Brains are weird.). I don’t see any point in fighting it so I’m going to resume briocheing once it cools off. I’m excited about what I’ve got planned next!
3. Top to Toes
Success! I did my first Geek Sock and used the top-down pattern in the Made BySarahS Mystery Sock Knit a Long. And it turns out I like top-down just fine. I did have to learn some new measurements for the afterthought heel, but I know those now so I’m good to go.
To be honest, learning that afterthought heel has left me dreaming of owning a sock knitting machine and churning out tubes and tubes and tubes. They’re so expensive that it’s hard to justify just for fun, though!
But back on the top-down topic, I’m probably going to make a few more top down socks this year and going forwards. And I won’t try to steer away from top down patterns due to my lack of experience, which I tried not to do but was probably totally doing. To be honest, most of my sock patterns came from a single designer, so just knitting other people’s patterns was a bit out of my comfort zone! I have learned that her rounder toe is still my favourite for my foot, but I know how to adapt toes and practiced it now so that’s not a barrier any more.
I’m hoping to join the next BySarahS Mystery which I’m guessing will include a top-down pattern! But I’ve got a few other beautiful things in mind… Once I finally finish the second Geek Sock.
4. Some Smaller Shawls
This is the goal that I thought would be easiest, and it’s the one that’s gone by the wayside! It’s a casualty of the pandemic: I’ve been using working from home as an excuse to focus on bigger projects that I would normally have trouble finishing. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, and I may let this goal go by the wayside this year as I adapt.
But small projects still still nice for me to have on backyard toddler adventures (especially when sweaters get too big for my toddler adventure shoulder bags). So I’m thinking maybe I’ll just downgrade it to *one* shawl and pull something out of my queue to make it happen. I’ll definitely wear whatever I make!
I listed a few more things at the end of my 2020 fiber goals post that I wanted to quick mention because although they hadn’t made my top 4, I actually did them!
Sweater — I did Poca and am nearly done a Hazelwood sweater
Dyeing — I turned food colouring dye into a family art project and we had a lot of fun with it. I’m hoping to do more, but I’ll need more undyed yarn.
So… The year is going really well, from a crafting perspective. Don’t ask me about politics or my sleep patterns, though! Still, it’s nice to see how much I’ve accomplished against this one metric. Hurrah!
I splurged on the recommended yarn this year. It’s spendy and I have trouble justifying that without actually touching the yarn, but I wanted to try it *and* just as I was trying to talk myself out of it I came to the part of the book Vanishing Fleece which talks about the dye process and I guess I kind of wanted to be part of that story? (The book is about yarn production, specifically in America, and what we might do to save what’s left of the industry here. But it specifically includes A Verb for Keeping Warm.)
I love the complexity and beauty of Romi’s patterns, and in that respect this did not disappoint. But as I said, I didn’t know I was going to be doing this in quarantine with a toddler who is incredibly mum-centric. I pulled the stitches off more than once dropping my knitting to deal with toddler emergencies. This has two sided lace! This was not easy to fix! And it was hard to keep up with the knitalong pace, especially since I was still struggling to run a global mentoring program, do my day job, and provide my own child care trading back and forth with my husband to make it work. (Things have settled now, but there were a few rough months and some of the worst days happened while I was working on this shawl.)
That said, this was hard but tractable. I was up to the challenge of fixing the dropped stitches, and I mostly stayed on schedule. It was deeply satisfying to finish. But I was also very glad to finish and move to something easier!
The finished piece is just perfect. I am so glad I splurged on the yarn; it really does feel like it’s floating on my shoulders, and it’s got this lovely alpaca halo that makes it warm and perfect for spring (Recall: Oregon winter feels like spring to Ontarian me, so this will get a lot of use in my wardrobe). I kind of want a whole lacey cardigan made out of Floating now.
My yarn subscription for this year is the Made Here Yarn Club 2020 from Sincere Sheep, which was a splurge but one I could afford and one that focuses on local makers. Pretty cool!
I decided to make up my own pattern (after getting partway through a lovely hat and realizing I wasn’t feeling it). I haven’t written the whole thing up yet, but I have a chart and some basic instructions. So… here’s a little preview. But I promise I’ll be making something finished eventually!
Patio Stones (pattern preview)
This asymmetric triangle shawl was made with 300 yards of Sincere Sheet Covet (dk weight) and a US-5 needle. It would probably be just as lovely (and not quite as heavyweight) with ~400 yards of fingering on whatever needle size you prefer.
co 4 stitches
RS: kfb, k to last 3 stitches, k2tog, k
WS: k2, p to last stitch, kfb (increases 1 stitch)
repeat until you have 15 stitches, ending on a WS row
Follow chart 1. Blue section is repeated, but for first run it will be repeated 0 times.
Note that the chart starts from the bottom, I just haven’t flipped the numbers over yet because this is a preview and not a completed pattern yet. The pink stitches can be replaced with k1, k2tog if you prefer. If you know how to cable without a cable needle for these little 1 over 1 cables, do that. It’s so much easier.
When you’re close to your desired size (or running out of yarn) repeat the eyelet section (rows 5-3 on the chart above) and then bind off.
I know, I know, it’s got some work to go before it’s ready for publishing, but it’s been sitting in my drafts for weeks and I wanted to put it out there in case my toddler poured coffee on my computer before I got it finished!
I started this sweater for the knit along when it was first released in August 2018. It wasn’t my oldest unfinished object (that’s likely the crocheted bobble baby blanket I was making for no particular reason in 2011 or so) but it’s probably the oldest I intended to finish!
I forget what got me off track for the knit a long. Travel or it got too big to carry easily, likely. Thankfully, neither of those is a problem in pandemic-land.
It’s an unusual sideways construction, but one I’d done before on the red Baby Novus sweater for the Dread Pirate so I knew what to expect. It’s very well written; the hardest part was remembering what size I was making when I picked it back up most of the way through the second half. You then knit the halves together (see photo above) then close the sleeves and sides
The yarn is KnitPicks City Tweed, bought originally with another sweater in mind, but I figured it was better to use it and buy more if I ever wanted to make the original plan. This is the third adult sized sweater I’ve ever made (and the first was for my sister, who’s barely adult sized), so chances are not good that I’d ever go back to the original plan!
That said, the pandemic has made sweater knitting easier to fit into my day because I don’t have to lug it around (previously, most of my knitting time was at work during lunch or the odd dial-in meeting). So I’m super tempted to cast on another one soon. I’ve got 3 or maybe 4 different sweater quantities earmarked for future sweaters, so it’s only a matter of some winding… But I also don’t want to get off track in my current mkal and who knows if the urge will have passed by the time this clue is done? It’s certainly getting hot enough here that sweaters seem a bit overkill once the sun comes out.
Anyhow, this sweater is great and I love it. I haven’t even blocked it yet because I keep wearing it every morning! So there might be a few more glamour shots to come when I do that and put a clasp on the front. But just like I wanted to wear it right away, I didn’t want to wait too long to write about it!
I like advent boxes, even though it’s a busy time of year and normally I’m traveling so they’re not really convenient. Jimmy Beans Wool makes one they call Craftvent and I enjoyed it in 2017. In 2018 I bought it to save for later but then I got a lot of great travel opportunities and it’s still unopened (Maybe it’ll be a quarantine project for April?). But I finished the 2019 one only a few months late!
This year’s kit came in little magnetic metal tins, which is brilliant and more reusable than previous ones which came in giant cardboard boxes.
As usual, the tins either contain yarn, a notion, or a small treat. A larger namaste snap project bag and their “smart stix” needles were also included not in a tin. Loved the bag, though you have to be careful not to get the snaps caught on the lace.
They’ve made a big effort to have more yarn than in the last box I did. It’s still not a good value in pure retail cost of the stuff, but you’re paying for the experience and packing here is significant, so I feel that’s reasonable.
Since I was busy and opened the first many boxes before starting to knit, I spent time contemplating the colours and decided to sub in some more purples in place of the teals that came with the kit. It makes for a less striking shawl, but one that I was pretty sure would fit better with my wardrobe. I used one of my minis from Yarn Indulgences for the first colour.
Many people on the associated Facebook group hated the main colour, a fluffy mohair style yarn (Fyberspates Cumulus). I love it in the final piece: it’s light and warm and lovely. But it combined with the metal needles left me with sore hands. Part of why this was months late was the multiple breaks I had to take from knitting at all because it was hurting me. It got better after I switched to my preferred short wooden needles, but it didn’t entirely stop. I’ve got some of the yarn left, but I think I’ll have to try holding it double with something if I want to use it
The “wrap” is a weird shape. It uses short rows so that it’s long, thin on one end and wide on the other. Kind of like a scarf with one really flared end? It sounds odd but it’s pretty wearable!
Overall, despite the literal pain involved, I really like this shawl. It’s so light and yet so warm, it’s interesting, and with my colour alterations it goes with many of the things I wear. It wasn’t quite the experience I was expecting with the breaks in between, but I used the time to work on my embroidery skills and that was pretty fun.
Will I do Craftvent again? Maybe. I’ve finally got enough notions to kit out a few bags so it might be better to do a yarn-only option. Or maybe Must Stash Yarn will do another advent sock-along, which is much more manageable for me at that time of year. But I had a good time this year, even if it wasn’t mostly in December!
I decided to take part in the Rose City Yarn Crawl mystery-knit-a-long (MKAL) again this year!
I’ve had mixed results with the patterns, so now I wait until I’ve seen clue 1 and sometimes 2 before I join in, which means I can make more educated yarn choices. This pattern is from Marie Greene of OliveKnits, who I’d heard of from her 4 Day Sweater KAL, but I’d never knit any of her patterns myself so I wasn’t sure what to expect.
The first clue had some mosaic and a lot of people were having contrast issues, so I dug into deep stash for yarn that I’d bought with colourwork in mind.
Yarn: Knit Picks Chroma in white and “Prism” This is an old ball from before they started mirroring all their colours, which is a decision I don’t really understand because wow these older yarns were stunning.
I really love the colours but am only so-so on the yarn because it’s single ply, a bit variable in thickness, and completely not durable. I wish someone would make a plied short gradient like this that didn’t pill so much! It wouldn’t be easy to do with this yarn, though; the colour is spun right in with the gradient made by adjusting the mix of yarns. It’s really quite neat to see the fiber mix change if you look closely at it.
In clue 3 I had to go off pattern because I would have ended up with a yellow-white colourwork section and I didn’t like the look. So I added a bunch more rows of moss stitch (not my fave!) and extended out that mosaic chart. I’ve been fiddling with my own mosaic designs which haven’t gotten finished but have taught me a lot about the technique so extending a chart was no big deal.
I debated chopping out some stripes but I liked them too much.
Then I extended the lace section too.
It left a bigger “border” in the lace but in practice it doesn’t bother me. However, come clue 5, I decided to chop out a bunch of the stockinette so that I could go back to the mosaic chart as written and end on the correct number of stitches.
This left me with a very close to symmetrical shawl. I read a bunch of people’s posts on the Ravelry forums and debated for a while about adding more on, but in the end I settled on a picot bind off (cast on 2, bind off 8, so you wound up with multiples of 6 to match stitch count).
I actually did wash a swatch so I wasn’t worried about colour bleeding! (Though I’d have been surprised if it were a problem with a KnitPicks yarn.)
I really loved this one, mostly because I chose such perfect colours. I’m very much looking forwards to wearing it on the crawl — I like to think that I’ve got one of the most recognizable versions of this year’s MKAL!
And if anyone knows of anyone doing shorter repeat gradients like this on other yarns, please let me know! I’d definitely like to try some others.
Sweet Georgia Yarns made this lovely set of yarns as a holiday kit, and I loved it so much I bought two: one for me and one for my friend M as a Christmas present. It has 15 yarns, so I figured I’d do it as if it were a monthly yarn subscription, and maybe double up a few months. But as it turns out, the pattern has 12 sections if you count the setup one, so I haven’t even had to divide it up myself!
January’s up was teensy tiny but since I had advent projects still on the needles and the Rose City Yarn Crawl MKAL to start, that wasn’t a problem.
The yarn feels like a standard sock yarn to me. Did you know that there’s only a handful of yarn wholesalers in the US so most of our indie-dyed stuff uses the same bases even if they give them different names? Sweet Georgia is based in Canada so they may have some other options, but I bet not *that* many. It’s a solid base, and after my overdose on single ply I’m very glad to have a more durable sock yarn. And those colours! Saturated jewel tone tonals. Beautiful.
I debated doing the colours backwards just to be different but decided I liked it too much to mess with the order. I’m barely started — that’s only one extra-mini down, 14 to go — but it’s already interesting and fitting nicely in as a shorter break between projects.
I had been planning to go subscription-less this year, but at the very end of the year I decided to try one that seemed particularly interesting. I’ll write about it soon!
This was very similar to the Fetish cuff I did this summer, and in a good way! I wasn’t sure if the neutral colour was the right choice, but it’s lovely and very wearable. It’s a very easy kit with a simple beading pattern, yet very satisfying.
The Loquita Necklace was harder than the Mudra one, but it’s so carefully explained that it was complicated but not really confusing. The clasp isn’t great at staying closed on me so I have been tucking the hook into the knitting instead of the eye so that there’s a bit more friction there. I love the yarn, but if you look up close it’s a surprising choice: it’s got long alpaca hairs that stick out and make the stitch definition a bit less clear.
It feels so soft and blocks perfectly, though, so I guess that’s worth a few stray hairs.
Both kits come with floss loops for stringing beads, and Loquita also came with floss for placing beads during knitting but I’ll admit that I used my Bead Aid for the Loquita stitches because it was nicer than the floss. I do love the tin that Loquita came in: it’s a bit bigger than the one I use now and I think a bit harder for my toddler to open as a result, so it’s probably going to see a bunch of use in the future!
It was really nice to have some quick projects to fit in now that the Rose City Yarn Crawl MKAL has started so I’ve often got a little gap at the end of a clue where I need a bit more to do before the next one is released.
Overall, fun kits that are nicely put together, and beautiful finished pieces. Plus I’ve got a new beading tin now! Happy birthday to me!
First off, surprisingly, isn’t knitting! I started and finished this Kiriki Press embroidery kit in 2020 after I got back from Ottawa. This one was a lot faster than the spring one because there was no time-consuming satin stitch. I’m still having fun learning new stitches and also giving my hands a break. I’ve got one more sampler, but I’m finally feeling confident enough to try some of my more free-form embroidery panels. I’ve been collecting some from the Fireside textiles kickstarter for ages now and I’m so excited to start them!
Second, my advent socks! These clever colours are from Must Stash Yarn which is kind of the worst because they drop new colours every Tuesday and you usually have only a few days to buy them before they sell out. It’s… Much too addictive. They do matching pairs which is nice because I’ve lately been enjoying having half skeins in my little purse, and this way I don’t have to break out the scales. And it’s cute if they match, but I’m weirdly more excited about not having to split the yarn cakes myself!
Anyhow, the Hobbit Christmas colours are 24 stripes and if I’d been doing it right I’d have been doing a few per day every day before Christmas to get them done in time. I aimed for only one sock, because who needs deadlines, and finished that one on time!
The yarn does most of the work for you and the pattern, “Walking into Winter” by Sivia Harding, does the rest with an alternating knit/purl per stripe, and some cute garland-stylings at the top. I love the photography in this one.
The one thing I might change if I do this pattern again is the toe. My toes are definitely not that pointy! Socks are stretchy so it’s no big deal when I wear them but hey, what’s the fun in slow fashion if you can’t custom fit stuff?
Up next: I’m still working on my other advent project, the Craftvent project from Jimmy Beans. I had to swap out the needles because the full sized metal ones that came with the kit were giving me wrist twinges, but swapping to my favorite short wood seems to have eased my ergonomic problem and I knit on and off today while taking my turns with a very sick toddler. (Don’t worry, his fever seems to have broken now, but we watched a lot of tv today.)
I’ve also got a necklace as a purse project. But it’s nearly done! I don’t have another small project on the go and I’ve been debating what’s next: cast on a small shawl or top down sock for my 2020 fiber goals, or size up my purse and go to town on a few more works in progress that got too big for the small one? Or start my new year-long project and do the first colour? I’ve been loving going through my queue and making plans.
I never really loved new year’s resolutions until I started making them related to fiber. I think it’s because my fiber goals are more like little yearly bucket lists. So here’s this year’s set!
1. Whittle down the WIPs and Query the Queue.
I’ve got a few works in progress that have been languishing, like the Flickering Light shawl I started in New Zealand. Cleaning up my queue also unearthed some neat things I even have yarn for that haven’t been cast on yet. I don’t plan on avoiding spontaneous “I saw this and have to make it right now!” moments entirely, just making sure I do a more regular look through the things I saw and loved and seeing which ones still grab my fancy.
2. A Bit of Brioche.
I know how to do brioche, but the only project I’ve ever done is the cowl I made while my father was dying. That makes it sound like A Thing but I don’t think I’ve got big emotions tied up in it, I just haven’t made time. So this is the year, I hope. I’ve got a few patterns queued up and we’ll see if it grabs me more this time around.
3. Top to Toes
I usually do socks toe up, one at a time, magic loop. I’ve tried two at a time: it’s fine but it’s so much easier to fit a half skein in my current little purse. I’ve tried dpns: I actually love them but I drop them a lot. I’ve tried flexi-tips: love them but they’re still too easy for a toddler to tug (and I’m not quite committed enough to replace all my dpns yet anyhow). But I’ve never tried top-down. Now that I’m making socks for my mom, my usual “but I like trying them on!” isn’t even a good excuse, so it’s time to try it out. Maybe I’ll love it! I even bought a beautiful top down book to inspire me (though I’ve also got that queue…)
4. Some Smaller Shawls
The shawls that see the most wear in my wardrobe are the smallest ones: my fern shawlette and my little fucshia one. So let’s try to make sure I put a bit of focus on the single-skein size this year. They don’t have to be actually one skein, but around 400 yards of fingering weight seems to be about the right size when I’m searching my queue. I’m always tempted by these beautiful giant wraps but I only wear them a few months a year in Portland.
It was really hard to choose 4 goals this year: I want to try my other embroidery sampler I wouldn’t mind getting back into a regular spinning habit and try tour de fleece again. I still want another sweater for me. I want to learn some dyeing skills… But I chose those 4 because I think they’re ones that benefit from me looking back at this list a few times and not forgetting this year.
2. I blogged a couple of times every month all year, and I’ve made sure to put photos into Ravelry. So not only is it better than last year, but it’s what I consider a perfectly reasonable amount of documenting for now. I used to aim for weekly, but with a toddler who’s learning new stuff daily, I’m happy to de-prioritize my blog. Once or twice a month plus photos and ravelry is plenty.
3. Sweaters are hard to finish, especially with extra travel this year. They’re too big for the way I pack to travel, and we went to Canada, New Zealand, Germany, Switzerland, France, and Bulgaria. Plus some smaller trips to Seattle and Cleveland. So I cheated with a toddler sweater. To be fair, he needed a new one more than I did. I’ll try to keep working on mine in the new year, and I have plans (and yarn!) for the next.
4. I definitely played with mini skeins, including finishing my Tosh shawl, Oregon sky, an unfinished design project, my Lucky Star, and my unfinished advent shawl. But I only used one from my yarn subscription. Mostly I took photos. I did buy both Knitted Wit collections that make use of minis so I’ve got lots of ways to use them now.
So, I could do better on sweaters, and I should use my yarn subscriptions more. I’ve decided to accept that no matter how much I love these subscriptions, it’s a yarn collection and photo project, not a knitting thing. I have very few photo projects right now, so that’s not even a bad thing for a subscription to be, just a different one.
But I managed to sort of accomplish all the goals even if not in the way I expected when I set them, so I’m going to call it a successful year. Stay tuned for 2020 goals tomorrow!
– Woollywormhead’s 2019 mystery hat. It’s blocking right this moment.
– my Lucky Star shawl (blocked, photographed today, but not worn yet!)
– Mom’s Christmas sock #1
Works in progress:
– Mom’s sock #2 (cast on this afternoon)
– Cascadial Wrap (maybe 3/4 done? More? Abandoned again for travel last month, poor thing)
– crochet advent calendar (still going very slowly, by design. I’m planning to do maybe one or two more, just enough to cover our current tiny tree.)
Coming up soon:
– an advent for 2019 has arrived! I haven’t decided if I’m waiting for the 1st or not, but I’m leaning towards the December start.
– maybe that toddler sweater before we go to Ottawa? I’m thinking Antler by Tin Can Knits but it will depend on what yarn I have.
– maybe pulling out my own sweater that’s been hibernating since last year?
My gift knitting this year is just the one pair of socks, unless I suddenly think of something neat (and small) to do, so I’m nicely on track to be able to start that advent calendar. Finishing a toddler sweater might be too ambitious, though.