Spring Rainbow Shawl notes

ChemKnits 2022 smsms yarns, night 5

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!

Kiddo enjoying the yarn.

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)

Full view of the shawl after blocking

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.

Lazy chart: – is purl on right side, knit on wrong. ” ” Is knit on right side, purl on wrong.

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.

Terri is wearing a rainbow shawl and a rainbow sweater, because one can never have too many rainbows.

Steven the Bat socks

Steven the Bat socks with the bag from the Halloween countdown set

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!

Yarn

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.

Toe

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.

Bat Chart

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.

Cable

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.

Heel

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.

Leg

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.

Cuff

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.

Photos

Happy Halloween!

Steven the Bat socks with the charm bracelet from the Halloween box
Steven the Bat socks. A set of handknit socks modeled on feet. They feature a colourwork bat, a cable motif along the top of the foot and front/back of the leg, a contrast-colour slipped stitch heel, and a fancy cuff also in the contrast colour.

Queer Enough Shawl

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.

Queer Enough Shawl modelled by the designer, Terri Oda. It is a crescent shaped shawl featuring rays made from lace and tiny cables. The shawl has been made in bright rainbow colours.

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

Shawl overview

“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.

Choosing colours

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.

Shawl worn bunched up around the neck as a scarf

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.

  1. Right Border icord + increase:
    • knit 3, knit front and back (right side, increase 1)
    • knit front and back, slip 3 (wrong side, increase 1)
  2. Right Body section: this will vary depending on whether you’re doing a garter or lace section.
  3. Center slipped stitch spine:
    • slip spine marker, knit 1, slip spine marker (right side)
    • slip spine marker, slip 1, slip spine marker (wrong side)
  4. Left body section: this will vary depending on whether you’re doing a garter or lace section.
  5. Left border icord + increase:
    • Knit front and back, knit three (right side, increase 1)
    • slip three, knit front and back (wrong side, increase 1)

Don’t worry, I’ll write out the full rows below. This is to help you understand how they fit together.

Legend for Charts

Tiny cables without a cable needle:

With these little 1-1 cables, I prefer to cable without a cable needle. KnitPicks has a nice tutorial on how to do this if you’ve never tried it.

Garter 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
Queer Enough Shawl: charts for cable sections

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.

Lace Section:

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
Queer Enough Shawl: charts for lace sections

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.

Close up of shawl showing the transition between lace and garter sections and the fact that my rays aren’t perfectly straight.

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.

Queer Enough Shawl: Chart for transition rows

Continue swapping between garter and lace sections until you run out of yarn or you decide you’re done.

Charts

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.)

Legend for Charts

Here’s a very-wide chart to show how everything fits together:

Very Wide Chart (click to enlarge)

And here’s it split into two hopefully more readable segments:

Right side chart. Note that the left side of the chart will line up with the Left Side Chart)
Left Side chart. This needs to line up with the Right side one)

If I try to make a printable version of the pattern I guess I’ll have to make these prettier.

Final section:

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.

Close up of the shawl showing the center picot after blocking.

Finishing the Shawl

Like most lace projects, this shawl should be wet-blocked and stretched well for best effect.

Rainbow shawl being spun in a salad spinner. This is one way to remove some excess water after soaking (another example would be to wrap it in a towel and squish)

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.

Shawl blocking in progress. You definitely don’t need this many blocking wires.

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!

Mom socks: lavender apple picking

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!

The pattern was this year’s Must Stash advent knit, but as you may recall my advent dance card was a teeeeeensy bit full so I didn’t try it but I did put the pattern in my queue for later. It’s the Candy Kisses Socks by Sivia Harding. I loved the cute little xoxo cables:

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. 😉

Black light butterflies

I got this cool yarn from Black Squirrel Berkeley that glows under blacklight. It’s called “‘sup witches” and came in a kit with a matching bag:

In keeping with my 2020 goal to do stuff from my queue, I pulled out an elegant pattern called Butterfly Dream Catcher by Lily Go. This is one I’d seen back when I used my Tumblr account.

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!)

December countdowns and advents

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:

Finished BySarahS advent 2020 socks.

And here’s one of the clever extras:

Flamingo paper clip for holding all the little pattern pieces!

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.

Other great extras: the adorable Christmas Flamingo from WeeOnes, and those fantastic tiny scissors.

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.

ADVENTure Gnome

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!

Yarn kit for the ADVENTure gnome

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.

Gnome on a shelf.

Symphony Shawl

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!

Me wearing the shawl

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. 🙂

Thoughts

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!

Mando gloves

The blog has had some server changes behind the scenes and it accidentally broke the way I usually post from my phone. But while I’m working that out, here’s a recently finished project:

John wearing the Mando Gloves

Pattern: Mando. by Natela Astakhova

Yarns: Studio Donegal Darnie from Black Sheep Fiber Emporium

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.

Palm side of the Mando gloves showing the non-repeating pattern.

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.

Back side of gloves, featuring a Mandolorian helmet and Baby Yoda

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!

2020 Fiber Goals: How did I do?

My 2020 goals were as follows:

  1. Whittle down the WIPs and Query the Queue.
  2. A Bit of Brioche.
  3.  Top to Toes
  4. Some Smaller Shawls

By my mid-year 2020 fiber-goals check in post, I’d already done 3 of them and decided that #4 was a silly goal in a year when it was finally easy for me to work on sweaters.

1. Whittle down the WIPs and Query the Queue.

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.

Robin crocheted ornament hanging on the tree.
Crocheted Holly

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!

Aspen Leaf scarf with real trembling aspen leaves!

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.

Heliotrope brioche hat

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.

On to 2021!

November works in progress

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.

Terri in a harvest gold Stepping Stones vest.

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.

Books and knitting the front panel.

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.

Spinning

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.

Embroidery

I got a cute Christmas tree set from Dropcloth Samplers, but I haven’t gotten much further than the day I took this picture.

Other

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!

Half the Knit Sky

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!

Made BySarahS Camping MSKAL

In September, I did another sock knit a long.

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!

August works in progress

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).

Gnicki the gnome sits on this month’s Fantastic Strangelings book pick. The name of the pattern is “Nice to Gnome You”

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.)

First start to my The Sharon Show wrap, with lighter yarn for colour B.

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.

Heliotrope hat with a mistake many rows back

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.

Clue 1 of The Sharon Show with dark yarn in colour B.

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).

Sock at the beach.

I finished the sock last night, and I haven’t even mentioned the spinning I’ve been doing!

Finished Sundae Sock, with increasing/decreasing stripes
Finished skein of green/tealish yarn, a spin during the “intermission” between the two (!) Tour de Fleeces this summer. One for the original dates, one for the new dates for the Tour de France that inspires the event.

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.

Rainbow spinning in progress.

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.

Stuffed Doggy bone, and some duplo toys

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.

Half the Knit Sky shawl, showcasing a lovely Fierce Fibers gradient.

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!

Hazelwood sweater with pockets! The Dread Pirate toddler’s fluffy head is just visible at the bottom of the frame, and the full picture has him hamming it up (but we’re giving him the gift of some internet privacy, so the photo is cropped)

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.

Romi Mystery 2020

Pattern: Romi Mystery Shawl 2020 by Romi Hill

Yarn: Floating by A Verb for Keeping Warm

I did Romi’s mystery for the Rose City Yarn Crawl last year and though I was a bit sad about my overall crawl experience enjoyed the pattern so much that I did her own regular yearly MKAL right after. I decided to do this year’s before it was clear that I’d be doing it from quarantine.

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.

Finished Shawl

Poca sweater (finally!)

Poca sweater, unblocked

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!

Pattern: Poca by Laura Nelkin

Yarn: KnitPicks City Tweed in Orca

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!

Craftvent 2019

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!

Craftvent 2019, days 1-9

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.

Craftvent 2019, days 10-18

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.

Craftvent 2019 days 19-24

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.

Start of shawl, not the original colour.

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.

Craftvent progress shot

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

Mostly finished Craftvent draped on back of chair.

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!

Full shawl stretched out for blocking
So wide!

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.

Me wearing the finished Craftvent wrap

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!

Rose City Yarn Crawl MKAL 2020

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.

Clue 1 + hippo friend

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.

End of clue 1

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.

Clue 2

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.

Clue 3 in progress

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.

Clue 3 complete

I debated chopping out some stripes but I liked them too much.

Clue 4 beginning

Then I extended the lace section too.

Clue 4

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.

Clue 5: the final clue!

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).

Wash!

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.)

Finished rcycmkal2020 being worn!

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.

Whakairo Shawl

This was a particularly satisfying pattern to knit. It starts out so small and that first chart seemed daunting. It’s well written, but there was just So Much Going On that I needed to concentrate and I despaired of ever finishing with a toddler around.

But once I made it through the first chart, and there wasn’t some new thing appearing at the edge ask the time, I started to find my rhythm.

Rhythm, breast pump… I amuse myself.

And it just felt so natural that it seemed weird that I’d been thinking of this as a terribly technical pattern. Surely it was just obvious?

The pattern is Aroha Knits’ Whakairo Cowl done with the shawl variant. It’s really worth reading the pattern description about how it’s meant to minic Maori wood carving.

I can’t remember how many repeats I did of that 3rd chart, but it was enough that I had it memorized and didn’t even look at it by the end. Kind of amazing.

The yarn is Kupenda in colour “free range” by Fierce Fibers. It’s a super soft alpaca/silk/cashmere blend that is slippery and a little fluffy and oh so soft. I was worried about the stitch definition because of the halo but I really didn’t need to be. Even if it wasn’t a luxury yarn, this is the most luxurious gradient I’ve ever used. The colours are so saturated, the colour change is so perfect, and the yarn has been re-straightened so unlike most gradients it’s not in that “just unknit from the blank” stage.

I already bought more. (And got a personal delivery to my desk at work, but that’s another story!)

It very much needed blocking. It was a toddler-sized shawl when it came off the needles! I liked the tight lace with all those twisted stitches, but you could tell it would open up.

Even blocked, it’s not quite the right shape for the way I like to wear a triangle shawl: it’s really designed as a buttoned cowl. But that was easily solved with a shawl pin.

I’m super happy with the way this one turned out. It’s a very technical shawl but mathematically predictable and just feels satisfying to me. Plus, that yarn! This will see a lot of wear… As soon as I’m not worried about getting hair dye on it if it rains, anyhow! (Not pictured here, but my hair is dark blue/purple/pink now.)

Maybe unicorn dreams pretty darned quick?

My final socks on vacay socks were started on the way back from Ottawa in August and finally finished after my hand recovered!

Yarn: “maybe unicorn dreams?” From Knitted Wit. It didn’t have a colour written on the tag and I thought the guess sounded like a hugo nominated short story so that’s what I’m calling the yarn.

I’ve come up with a few ideas for the title, but the most ridiculous is the sci fi jaunt where little girls are given robot unicorns as educational toys that grow with the kid up to becoming self driving car alternatives that can have software secretly marketed to parents as a virgin-detecting chastity belt for teens. Inevitably, the teens find out about this horrific invasion of privacy because of course the company is machine learning on the girls’ potential sexual behaviours and being generally gross in that way of tech companies. And then, the/ unicorn hacking society is born.

… I have a lot of time to think about parenting ethics and infosec while my kid’s falling asleep, ok?

Pattern: Pee Dee Queue by Shannon Squire. I wanted to do this with the cute pattern on the back, but it proved too tight so I followed the alternate instructions to do the stretchier back instead.

The first photo was with a tiny stuffed dog, so the last one is with a giant one!

Incidentally, my dog obsessed toddler is really benefitting from the fact that Tiny Terri also loved dogs, so every time we visit my family we bring a few more mor home with us. Woof!

Fruit fly socks for my retired biochemist mom

I bought this yarn because the name, “time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana” reminded me of my biochemist parents, and then my mom asked for socks so away we went.

It was also socks on vacay time still! And Mom’s birthday was coming up!

Yarn: Knitted Wit “time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana” in honour of biochemist Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard.

Pattern: Shannon Squire’s Sundae Socks. I sized up one more step than the pattern is written for, since Mom asked for them to be roomy. And apparently I got it right, since she’s requested another pair!

#socksonvacay2019: Mama/baby Dread Pirate socks!

Shannon Squire and Knitted Wit have my favourite summer knit-a-long: Socks on Vacay. My first pair of socks took me around two years to finish, but I liked wearing them, so I foolishly joined in last year and knit 3 socks in time, and I guess I’m a sock knitter now?

So here’s a few photos of my first 4 (!) socks for this year.

Yarn is the Talk Like a Pirate Day themed “Yarrrrn!” (From last year’s sassy holidays collection). I saved this for a whole year!

Pattern is Shannon Squire’s Short Attention Span. It doesn’t actually go down to toddler size, so I improvised those a bit to scale them down.

My baby Dread Pirate (who is also so named thanks to Talk Like A Pirate Day) was utterly pleased with the socks, which was rather a surprise to me since it was hot and I didn’t think he’d want to wear them even for photos. But I think after he watched me knit them, he was pleasantly surprised to find out they were for him!

I’ve got two more socks finished but no pictures yet, so I’m definitely beating last year’s record!

Hibisco Necklace

Although I was terribly restrained in buying kits from Laura Nelkin, I did pick up two (plus her perfect little beading tin) so here’s the second!

This is called Hibisco, and it’s another beaded jewelry kit. I’m not normally a fan of pre-strung beads for bigger knits, but they’re not too annoying for a smaller kit and I do love the way they float in the fabric.

I should have gotten a circular, but I didn’t have any in size 2.75mm or whatever this was, so I made do. I may have to expand my small needle collection in the future, though!

Blocking was a challenge. A helpful person on the forum suggested a paper plate to get the curve consistent, which proved hard with the ruffles.

I’m super happy with the way it turned out! And it’s proved toddler-resistant, so unlike my more delicate chains, I can wear this at home! Yay!

I’ve already earmarked the next kits I want, but I’m going to try and hold off until I’m finished a few of my works in progress. They’re getting a bit out of control again!

Fetish cuff/necklace

Ah, the 7th month, where resolutions start to really go off the rails! I’ve been decent at recording my projects on Instagram (though I did miss photographing a gift I made) and have gotten better at updating Ravelry, but this blog hasn’t seen a post yet this month and we’re almost at the end!So here’s a quick project I did on vacation: Fetish cuff by Laura Nelkin.The kit comes with everything you need (and then some), and the ring and clasp hardware is particularly nice.It was a surprisingly easy kit to do, given how complicated it looks! Probably ambitious beginner level, and there are instructional videos that walk you through it. (Though the focus is a bit out of whack, the explanations are good.)It took me probably a couple of hours to do with toddler interference. And it’s resilient enough to handle some toddler exploration once it was put together!It’s designed to be worn two ways. I expected to mostly wear it as a necklace, but I actually like it better as a cuff!I found these kits when I was looking at subscriptions that happen less than monthly, and I’m sorely tempted to subscribe, but I’m still unburrying myself from my unfinished Jimmy Beans kit, so I think I’ll stick to treating myself when there’s one I really like up on etsy.

Oregon Sky Shawl / #glowupknittedwit Kit

Knitted Wit did this neat collab with a pile of awesome designers It started with yarn…

Yarn: Glow Up Knitted Wit kit (with main colour Oregon Sky)

There’s a lot of great patterns in the collection, but I particularly loved this one.

Pattern: Oregon Sky by Michele Bernstein (Pdxknitterati)

I took it to Albuquerque for the mini Maker Faire. (see how it matches the rainy Oregon departure!)

I found the perfect project bag:

I took it to Cleveland for Pycon and it was literally bound off in the sky on the way home:

This is a great pattern for travel: visually stunning and a great conversation starter, yet with short and easily memorized lace sections so I could pick it up and knit while watching the toddler, attending conference talks, or pretty much whenever. I think I told more people the name of this pattern than anything I’ve ever knit!

I had some fun taking finished photos…

I’m not sure why, but my toddler particularly likes this one, so while i was taking photos he gestured that i needed to throw it on a tree then grabbed it and ran away giggling …

And before I’d even processed those photos, I was lucky enough to catch a rainbow and get photos with it!

How amazing is that?

Great shawl, great yarn, and my only regret is that it might be a while before I try the other patterns in the collection!

Romi mystery knit-a-long 2019

After the Rose City Yarn Crawl mystery knit, I decided that I’d had so much fun that I should try out Romi’s annual mystery knit too. I wouldn’t say that the mystery was hard because it’s extremely well written and well tested, but it’s definitely a pattern that requires concentration. I actually like that, but it did mean I made some mistakes.

Clue 1:

Knitting surgery with Dr. Terri/Clue 2:

That's not right...

The fixed clue 2:

Clue 3:

Clue 4:

Clue 5:

Done!

Overall, this was definitely a more technical knit than I’d done in a while, but in a good way: it was nice to do something complicated and succeed at it. I even finished the MKAL in the allotted time!

I’m torn now: this is always going to fall near the Rose City Mystery-a-longs, but they’ve been hit or miss for me because they’re geared to be accessible to beginners and also include cowls which experience tells me I won’t wear. Do I plan to do this mystery instead, or do I do both, or neither? I guess I’ll just play it by ear for next year!

Follow Ups

Finished objects

I finished my second sock!

Incidentally, I always thought I would be a toe-up two-at-a-time person, but in practice it turns out the joy of finishing is such that I haven’t had much trouble with second sock syndrome since I switched to one-at-a-time. I guess next I’d better try a top-down to see if I like that! I also need to work on some afterthought heels for the self-striping I have in my stash.

I’d hoped to finish this for the lotsofsocks downs syndrome awareness kal, but alas it was not to be. Still, I love it, and I think I’ll be not matching my stripes on future socks either. It’s freeing and also out turns out I just like them this way.

My 2018 JBW Tosh Shawl is also finally finished!  I already did the half year post, but here’s a picture again:


So going back to my work in progress week post, here’s where I’m at:

  1. Little Box of Crochet Advent Calendar – untouched, but not hoping to complete until December-ish
  2. Rose City Yarn Crawl Mystery Knit a Long – done!
  3. Cascadial Wrap – I actually finished another colour before switching to the JBW shawl, so it’s progressing!
  4. Flickering Light Shawl – planned after the Cascadial wrap, but maybe only not around my toddler this time since he loved the drop stitches a bit too much
  5. Sock – done!
  6. JBW Tosh Shawl – done!
  7. JBW British Invasion Kit – in hibernation. aka, after looking at my queue I’ve decided I’m not excited enough about this one and I’ll save it to be a grab-and-run kit when needed

New Objects

So of course, now that I’ve finished some and have mentally put a few in hibernation, I started my two knit-a-longs!

Romi Mystery KAL 2019 (clue 1):

Oregon Sky Shawl for the Glow Up Knitted Wit CKAL

The Oregon Sky shawl helps me fill in the gaps when I run out of MKAL clue, and it gave me a nice project for Albuquerque Maker Faire on April 6-7 so I wouldn’t fall into the same pattern of starting something new and then abandoning it. I don’t know that I’ll have enough left by May 2nd when I head to PyCon, though!  But for now, I’m enjoying the Glow Up hashtags on Instagram for the knit along. People have such different rainbows!

The Queue Curation

I finished my cull, and the queue is hovering around 90 items. Not bad! Of course, now that it’s only 3 pages long, it’s much easier for me to see what was missing. For example: I have yarn for Shannon Squire’s That 70’s Shawl (I even have several options to choose from) and Composition Book Mitts but somehow never queued either pattern. And I bought a Space Cadet yarn kit for the Bubbles of Joy MKAL but somehow never queued that pattern either. Nor did I start it; I was a bit over-optimistic in my ability to finish the RCYC MKAL and missed the boat entirely on this MKAL. But it’s an absolutely beautiful pattern that I’ll definitely be knitting eventually, so I pushed it up near the top of the queue.

It’s been really fun matching stash yarns to projects. I also think I finally have a pattern for my one unassigned sweater quantity of yarn. We’ll see if it’s still my favourite when I get to casting on, but I bought the pattern so I’m pretty convinced. 

Other fun finds: I had queued a pile of sock patterns, which was kind of weird since I wasn’t really a sock knitter until I got hooked during the Socks on Vacay knit-a-long last year. But now that I actually enjoy knitting socks, there’s some great skill-improvement patterns in there, something I now want as I mentioned right back up at the beginning of this post. Thanks, past me!

Tosh Shawl Club 2018 – July to December

It took 14 months instead of 12, but I finished my Tosh Shawl Club shawl! This was how I spent some birthday money last year. Since I have an end of year birthday, it tends to get subsumed by the holidays, so this was a neat way to celebrate monthly instead.

Despite the “shawl club” name it’s honestly is more of a wrap. But it’s warm and squishy and while it’s not a kit I would have bought if I’d seen it finished in a shop, I loved the process of getting mystery yarns and clues for a full year, so I definitely got the experience I wanted. Plus, part of the fun was going outside of my usual comfort zones.

July

August

September

October

Whoops, wrong year on this one and the next…

November

December

And the full shawl:

Definitely a fun experience! Looking back, I’m sort of sad I didn’t opt to continue my subscription for this year, but they took the mystery out and the planned shawl just wasn’t floating my boat, so I’m trying something new this year to get my monthly mystery fix!

Work in progress week!

I made myself an “art project” on Instagram, so I’m cutting and pasting here because I want a copy of my own data. This was supposed to go out the same week I posted the pictures, but I accidentally locked myself out of the web server with the WordPress app and then we all got the plague. I’m scheduling this for later… In fact, I’ve already finished one of these projects since this was written!

Work in progress week! I’ve got an unusually high number of projects on the go so I’m going to try to document them (as part of my “document better” fiber resolution for this year). This is my unfinished @littleboxofcrochet advent calendar. I knew when I got it that it wouldn’t be finished in 2018 because of travel in December and I’m looking forwards to using these as palette cleansers between bigger projects this year.

Work in progress week: day 2. My current project, the @rosecityyarncrawl #mkal . Clue 4 just came out so I’m very behind: this is clue 1! I’ve done a few rows since then but missed both my usual knit groups this week so progress is slow.

Work in progress week day 3: Cascadial Wrap. I saw this pattern knit up at the yarn show I went to in Quebec and took a picture of the tag (the yarns were lovely but the booth didn’t have colours for me) and then when I went to @oregonflockandfiberfest I saw kits that were totally in colours I’d wear and decided it was meant to be.

This was my Christmas holidays travel piece knit while i was visiting family, though I also made a hat for the Dread Pirate because it was cold and he needed a thicker one. (He hated it, of course, because he hates everything you try to put on his head.) It was a *great* travel pattern; interesting enough to watch it grow, but repetitive enough that i could do it in low light, while chatting, while being a warm napping surface for said toddler, etc. Looking forwards to getting back to it!

Pattern by @remadebyhand
Yarn from @elementalfiberworks

Work in progress week day 4: My Flickering Light shawl visits the Hobbit holes on the movie set in New Zealand!

This is a fun pattern but those elongated stitches proved to be too enticing to my toddler, so my vision of getting this all done on the trip didn’t work out and it’s unfinished. But it was *perfect* for the long drive out to the Shire! Hopefully it’ll get finished in my toddler-free knitting time (mostly at knit group).

Pattern: Flickering Light by @paperdaisycreations
Yarn: kit from @spacecadetyarn (and oh, the squish is lovely)
Bag fabric from @firesidetxtls

Work in progress week day 5: the backup sock. For the past several trips (Ottawa, Scotland, New Zealand) I’ve had a ball of sock yarn and needles handy in case I ran out of knitting. I didn’t run out of knitting, but with my toddler liking the other shawl a bit too much, out came the simpler backup sock and after all that travel, it finally got cast on in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Pattern: Sundae socks by @shannonsq (though I think I subbed in the heel from her Spare Time socks)

Yarn: @knit_picks felici in “time traveller” (inspired by the dr who scarf but with fewer colours) — goes well with my camera strap!

Bag: @tombihn organizer pouch I’m calling my “baby safe” because the clip I added through the zipper pull keeps my toddler out. (Someone in the forum mentioned these locking clips for pickpockets and they’re great for toddlers!)

Work in progress week day 6, my Tosh Shawl Club from @jimmybeanswool. I was so good at staying on top of this until my trip to Scotland, whereupon I never caught up. But it’s a really fun pattern with lots of texture and it was neat getting mystery yarns year round for 2018. I’ll catch up on this one soon; there’s a few months worth left but they’re small balls.

Pattern: Tosh Shawl Club
Yarn: @madelinetosh
Narwhal bag from @twinklentwilight

Work in progress week, day 7: British Invasion kit. This is a neat sampler of British wool with a simple cowl pattern. I honestly don’t remember when this was started: i think maybe one of several trips to the Seattle area this fall, though it’s possible it was the backup kit for my summer Ottawa trip. I clearly didn’t get very far! But it’s not the cowl, it’s just the way my fall went.

Pattern: Mosaic Tiles cowl
Yarn: British Invasion sampler from @jimmybeanswool
Bag: I think this was the first fabric I got from @firesidetxtls’ Patreon

And that’s the last of my #wipweek ! I have a few more works in progress around (my unfinished Poca sweater will be back on the needles soon enough) but I think 7 is enough for now.

Rose city yarn crawl – Mystery knit a long clue 1

I’m not what one would call a monogamous knitter: that is, I don’t do one project at a time. But things have gotten a little out of hand because I start a new project with every trip, and I’ve had a lot of trips since the fall with not enough time in between to finish things. So my normal “one bigger/more challenging at home, one for in my purse” has ballooned to… I don’t know, maybe 7-9 projects?

It’s a bit silly of me to start a mystery knit a long, especially when I’m probably not even going to get to do the full yarn crawl this year (J is traveling, my friend who usually comes down to visit can’t make it this year, and I’m not up to toddler wrangling through 11 incredibly busy stores on my own. I’m planning maybe 2-3?). But I was watching from afar (literally: reading the Ravelry threads from New Zealand) and people were saying that this year’s knit was challenging and had unusual construction, and I was curious enough to try.

I managed to get my yarns out of my stash:

The gold colour is what I chose for colour 1. I love this yarn so much. This was an impulse buy at Knotty Lamb maybe during last year’s crawl, and it’s from Farmer’s Daughter yarns.

Colour 2 is Madeline Tosh and I might not have enough of it, but I liked the two together so much that if i have to bind off in colour 1 to make this work, so be it. I picked up that one at I think Knit Purl (now closed) a few years ago in the crawl.

As promised, some interesting construction. Can you see the yarn overs at the edges?

And here’s Clue 1 complete to those last two stitches:

I’d never done a “reverse” icord bind off!

And then on to picking back up for clue 2… Clue 3 is already out, so I’m quite behind! But, life, toddler, and if you look in the back of that photo, I’m learning pcb design too. Sometimes the must amazing thing about being an adult is that I hardly ever have to be bored!

2019 Fiber Goals

I think these past few years of setting fiber goals has been fun, so here’s what I’m thinking for this year:

  1. Learn steeking. I’ve already signed up for a class in January so hopefully this one will be easy! It’s been on my to-learn list for a while.
  2. Document better. I haven’t been good about this since February last year, which not coincidentally is when I went back to work. I take pictures but haven’t been blogging or updating Ravelry. And I’ve got two patterns that I could maybe release this year, if I ever write them up.
  3. Finish another sweater. I’ve got one for me started but hibernating since early fall, and I’d like to do another toddler one. Plus I have others planned!
  4. Play with mini skeins. I’ve swapped out my yarn subscription for the year to one that’s monthly mini skeins with no project, and I want to play with designing for them. Maybe I’ll finally make that Christmas in July advent calendar I keep thinking about? (I know someone who might be willing to work on it with me so I’ve got to knit up some designs asap!)

Here’s to a new year!

2018 fiber goals: how did I do?

Last year, I set myself some fiber goals for 2018. So, how did I do?

2018 goals:

  1. Use more of my project kits
  2. More amigurumi!
  3. Spin the neat fiber kit Kathy got me
  4. Organize the stash

2018 Results:

1. Project kit success! I made up a beanie bag, started a cowl kit (but haven’t finished that one), and bought and started a Cascadial Wrap kit. Plus I mostly kept up with my Shawl Club subscription. I guess new kits don’t solve my pileup problem, but they make me happy and it’s nice to see that investing in pretty kits is a good thing to keep doing.

Cascadial Wrap:

Shawl club:

2. Amigurumi success! I made the baby Dread Pirate Potato an elephant that lives in his travel toy bag, a dino that lives at home, a pumpkin, and started an amigurumi advent calendar that will be my decorations next year.

Elephant:

Dinosaur:

Pumpkin:

Advent:

3. Fiber fail? I didn’t touch the kit, but I *did* do some pretty spinning and dyeing so I don’t feel so bad about it. Turns out the Dread Pirate loves my spinning wheel, which is great because I can leave it set up and he’ll touch it and enjoy it, but it’s hard to get time to use it myself. I’m going to have to work on a habit for next year.

Dye and spin experiment:

4. Stash success! I got most of the yarn into organized boxes other than the worsted and sock yarn I peruse regularly for inspiration. I managed to use more older yarn this year because it turns out I select based on squishing and comparing. So the stash has become better inspiration — something I really thought deeply about because I read A Stash of One’s Own this year. Total win!

Partway through organization:

There’s a row on the bottom that’s fabric boxes full of fabric, kits, and some recent purchases.

Appropriate current state:

More baby proof! It needs smaller labels.

Decoration/closeup:

Summary:

3/4 clear wins isn’t bad and I think my dye and spin experiment filled a similar niche to the fiber kit I didn’t touch, so I feel like I kept some spinning up even if I did it a different way. I think the yarn kits were a good fit for me, and the stash re-org got me in shape so that my office in nearly toddler friendly, and it helped me find treasures.

I’m still figuring out what I’ll strive for in 2019. Maybe this year is the year of the fingering weight sweater? Try the spinning set again? I’ve already got plans to take a steeking class so maybe that’s the easy goal #1!