Looking back, looking ahead

If you think I haven’t been blogging at all in the past six months, well, you’d be half right.  I have done a lot of writing but I haven’t been able to finish a post.  I actually started this post a month ago and am just getting around now to putting in the finishing touches and hitting publish.

Even though I haven’t done much blogging, as the year was wrapping up I kept thinking about my 2014 year in review post.  I loved the story it told and I knew I wanted to do another review, so here is a brief look at 2015!

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some of my 2015 favs

  • Total: 20 finished projects!
  • 12 gifts: new babies, rav swaps, and parents.  (Although my mom might still be waiting for me to sew buttons on that cardigan, yikes.)
  • 4 for me!  Including two amazing sweaters that I love.
  • 3 for Winnie
  • 1 for Mr. Disco

My main goal was to knit more for me, which I would say I accomplished.  I don’t think I will ever stop knitting baby gifts as long as there are new babies in my life, and I’m ok with that, because knitting for other people really does bring me joy.  As long as it is balanced with some selfish knitting too!

As I think about 2016, I want to take it slow.  Last year I felt an urgency to knit all the things! but this year, between work, classes, family, and friends; I know that won’t be possible.  So I want to focus on all the projects I have already bought yarn for, because I have a tendency to find a new project or test that I just have to knit right away, while my stash just sits there waiting patiently in my closet.

So what’s on board for 2016?

Last December I started a mini mitten advent garland.  I’ve only knit 2 mittens so far, but am planning on finishing the garland for advent 2016.  I am hoping this will be a great summer knitting project when it is too hot to hold anything larger.

Also last year, I spent about 6 months trawling Ravelry just waiting for people to post madelinetosh dk/dk twist partial skeins for sale.  All of a sudden I had 40+ balls and no real plans.  After mulling over a few different blanket patterns, I finally decided on Vivid.  I have 5 squares knit already.  I am sure it will get old fast but I hope to finish it by the end of the year.

I also have some Valley Superwash DK for a sweater for Mr. Disco, and the yarn for Epistrophy and On the Grass for me.  And all those mini skeins I posted about last summer?  I started a scarf and abandoned it quickly, I would love to finish that too!

 

 

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obsession

I have a new obsession.

About six months ago, my sister gifted me three partial balls of Tosh Light leftover from a color affection that I planned on using to make a 3/4 hap shawl.  I’ve been working on a bunch of other projects, so they just sat in my yarn basket, minding their own business, waiting their turn.

Last month my husband and I took a 3 day bicycle trip.  We spent one night in Northampton, home of Webs, and so I couldn’t not go in.  But I also had to remember that whatever I bought would need to fit in my panniers and be carried along for another two days.  So I bought one unicorn tail and some cute notecards.

Ever since then, I have been eyeballing Unicorn Tails.  Looking at projects that use them, websites that sell them.  So when my sister owed me $30?  Why, she could pay me in Unicorn Tails!  And just like that, six more arrived at my house earlier this week.

The more I looked at them, the more I began wishing they were available in more than just 30 colors.  And then, I discoverd tosh light samples from Jimmy Beans Wool.  Before I knew it, I was ordering an additional 9 shades of blue and blue/green.  The next day I almost did the same thing with every shade of brown.  They came in the mail today and oh my goodness, are they so much fun!  They are only 20 yds instead of the 52 in the tails, but at only $1.75 each I really just want to order a few (dozen) more.

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Four FO Friday

So it has come up a few times recently that I have not been blogging!  When I was first mulling the idea of creating a knitting blog and talking it through with my sister, one thing I promised was that I wasn’t going to write any meta blogging posts – that is, to blog about why I haven’t been blogging.  So I’ll try not to dwell on my lapse and get right to the knitting.

In my absense, I have managed to finsih quite a few projects!  I was thrilled when I finished my Chickadee pullover and it was just as perfect as I was hoping.  So perfect, in fact, that I didn’t want to write about it until I could have equally perfect photos to share.  That worked out great, eh?  I finished it right at the beginning of spring that unfortunately I was only able to wear it a couple of times, but I am expecting to get a lot of use out of this sweater next year.  The yarn is amazing comfortable, I love the colors and the colorwork, but my favorite aspect is the yoke shaping.  With short rows, circular and raglan shaping it fits perfectly with no awkward bunching.  I was in a bit of a rush to finish so it came out on the short side – however it is the perfect length to wear with skirts, which usually sit higher up on my natural waist.

As soon as that was finished, I jumped into a test knit of a stroller sized baby balnket.  Initially inspired by Grand Canyon sunset colors, I think it came out looking a little more tropical, but it still looks great.  I bought a palette from Tanis Fiber Arts and supplemented with some stash colors.  I am already planning on knitting another one for myself in a long, gradual rainbow and have started looking for partial DK skeins to add to my current stash.

I also received a gift from the swap I made the hoodie for, and it included 2 skeins of Dream in Color Calm in a lovely, light dusky purple color.  Although the label says light worsted, it looks more like aran weight to me.  I wanted a lacy shawl to balance out the heaviness of the yarn, and chose the Elder Tree Shawl.  I was hoping to finish it quickly to use it before it got too hot, but had to put it on hold when I signed up for another test.  Once I picked it back up I was able to finish it in 3 days!  It came out exactly as large as I was hoping and can’t wait to wear it in the fall.

Last but not least, I also test knit Curtain Call, the adult version of Rhymes With Shawl, a pattern I knit last summer for Winnie.  I loved the kid pattern, I just think it has so much personality.  When I found out the designer was testing an adult version, I knew I had to sign up.  After a lot of knitting, the finished cardigan came out much too large.  I had a funny feeling while I was working on it – it fit ok but I knew it would grow with blocking.  It is hard to knit fast on something you aren’t sure you want to finish, and since I loved this pattern so much I really wanted it to be perfect.  I thought a little positive ease might make it a nice cozy sweater to wear when we go camping or in the dead of winter, but Winnie’s is more fitted and I like that look.  I took the sweater over to my mom’s on her birthday, which happened to be the test deadline, to finish weaving in the ends when it dawned on me that it might fit her.  I asked her to try it on, and it looks fantastic.  As much as I’ve always been a fan of matching mama and daughter sweaters, I am now convinced that matching grammy and disco tot sweaters take the cuteness cake.  I may try to make one for myself eventually, but I want to get through some stash/my queue before I commit.

cuties!

cuties!

Rainbow Cardi Vest

My swap partner finally received the gift I sent her, which means I can finally share the knit I sent her!  I first came across the Mini Cardi Vest pattern while browsing for something I could make with the 4 skeins of Berocco Vintage Chunky I picked up for cheap at a stash sale this summer. I thought it was a super cute pattern but have been on the fence about making it – Disco Tot is perpetually warm and rarely wears her handknit sweaters.  I am hoping she’ll get more use out of them as lightweight outerwear as spring is approaching, which is why I still kept this pattern in my queue, thinking it could be fun for spring and fall.

Meanwhile, I had signed up for a swap and I hadn’t decided on a project to knit for my partner – until she mentioned that if you ask her daughter what her favorite color is, she’ll answer, “rainbow.”  And as fate would have it, I had two balls of rainbow self-striping yarn leftover from the POP blanket!  I knew I had to make her something with it.

At first I was thinking of doing a hat, but I wasn’t sure it would be big enought to get the full effect of the rainbow stripes and so a sweater of some sort just seemed like the best option.  I briefly considered another pattern, Juvel, but decided against it because the yarn I would have used for the contrast band would not have been superwash, and I think open frot cardigans are a little weird as I know I would be constantly trying to close it.  Not sure if a three year old would have the same problem, but I went with the cardi vest anyways.

I started knitting a size 4 and let me tell you, this pattern flies off the needles.  I realized that my aran weight yarn was going to make a big enough difference in gauge that after one day of knitting I frogged the whole thing and started with a size 6.  It still took barely more than a week which is lightening fast in my book!  I got a little impatient with the hood and may have made it slightly too small but that was totally my mistake and not the pattern’s.  The only other change was I didn’t do any intarsia on the body because the stripes were crazy enough.  All in all I thought it was a great pattern and I still think I’ll make one for my little one eventually.  She did not want to model it, so all I have is one blurry photo I snapped before sending it in the mail. 

On the Chickadee front (a project which is certainly not flying off my needles) I finished the body and am halfway done with the first sleeve.   

I have actually had a lot of knitting time this past week, but it seems like every time I pick up the sweater I can barely get a few rows done.  It is boring enough that I knit super slow, but I would feel too guilty if I stopped to work on (and actually make progress on) another project.  I am loving everything about this sweater – the colors, the yoke deisgn, the shaping… and I do want to finish it and wear it before it gets too warm.  I have been trying to motivate myself to knit faster by planning what I’ll work on next – A shawl I started in December, or a fingering weight short sleeve sweater for Disco Tot that I think she’ll actually wear, or maybe even starting a Babette blanket for myself with all of those leftover balls of yarn I’ve been saving.  So naturally I impulsively committed myself to something else – I signed up for a test knit of a stripey baby blanket!  I’m going to order yarn for it today with the goal of finishing Chickadee by the time it comes in the mail.  Either way, I’ll keep you posted!

Chickadee Sweater – WIP Wednesday

I have started and finished 2 projects since the POP blanket, but unfortunately both need to be under wraps for just a bit more.  One is a gift that I just mailed out, so I should be able to share that soon.  The other is a test knit, and unfortunately the pattern won’t be released until May!

However, since I’ve finished those two projects I have finally started something for myself.  When I was looking for yarn for Disco Tot’s Grr-ific sweater, I was mostly searching Ravelry stashes because I just can’t justify spending too much on a garment worn by a preschooler, yet I had my heart set on a particular colorway.  Eventually, I found Madelinetosh DK Twist in the colorway I was after – Robin Red Breast.  The seller was offering a discount to buy all 8 skeins, so clearly a sweater for myself was also in order.

Before I planned Grr-ific I wanted to knit matching Chickadees for Disco Tot and myself.  When I decided to make the hoodie last minute, it pushed out any chance of making her a chickadee for her this year.  Getting through the holiday season – the blanket especially – I just wasn’t sure I would even have time to cast on a sweater for myself.  I started to wonder if I’d rather just focus on finishing several smaller projects, but I was just too excited for this sweater to be not knitting it any longer.

One of the best parts about this project is that the colorwork is done first – the best part!  It was great to see the colors I picked worked together as well as I was expecting.  One of the worst parts is, the rest of the knitting is a lot less exciting.  I started a little over two weeks ago, did a fairly substantial ripping, and am currently just a few inches into the body.  I have to admit, the excitement is starting to wear off and I am trying to stay motivated, but I just have not been able to get as much knitting done daily as I would like.  Part of that is due to just not knitting enough, but I’ve also been stopping frequently to put all the stitches on floss and try to sweater on.  This is super important to make sure the fit is right – especially since I am making a pullover and not a cardigan as in the pattern – and putting all those stitches back on the needle takes time.

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Apologies for the blurry bathroom phone photo!

About 40% done with the body and really loving the sweater so far!  Then onto sleeves and a neckband…

Finally Finished!

What better to write about on a snowy day like today than a cute and cuddly blanket?  That’s right, the POP blanket is finally, finally, finally finished.

So cuddly!

So cuddly!

But before we get to the good parts (and there are plenty) let’s go over the not-so-good parts first.

For some reason, this pattern and I never clicked.  It wasn’t difficult, I memorized it very early on, but I just never got into a good groove.  I started knitting on November 6, which I thought was plenty of time to finish the blanket for Christmas.  Last year I made two other blankets, and each one took about a month each and I thought this would be about the same.  Reading through project notes on Ravelry, it seemed like many folks just flew through knitting the squares.  Not so for me.  I like to multitask when I knit, and although this pattern was easy, it did require a lot of little counting.  It was only counting the rows between increases for the circles, and counting the stitches to make the short row corners.  This was not difficult counting – never more than 12 – but I tend to space out when I’m knitting and I find it hard to keep track of row numbers.  I even downloaded a row counter app for my phone, which helped a little bit.

Knitting the squares took longer than expected but I managed to finish all 40 before Christmas.  I had been blocking them in small batches as I knit them and assumed I would be able to wrap it and give it to my daughter for Christmas.  So Christmas Eve night I start seaming them together… and they look horrible.  Turns out I had not blocked them well at all.  The corners were all too rounded and the squares were very bunchy looking.  I did at least half the blanket before I was ready to admit I couldn’t finish it the way it was.  I also knew I had asked for a blocking mat for Christmas, which would have a grid and make it easier to block the squares correctly.

Re-blocking was a pain, re-seaming it was not that bad, and then I gave the whole blanket one good blocking.  I felt like I was almost done.  But then there was… the back of the blanket with 260 loose ends that needed to be secured.  So there went another 2 weeks of my life!  I probably secured them more than I had to, but I couldn’t help it.  It was already late, I just wanted to do everything the right way and not ever have to go back and fix anything else on this blanket in the future.

Phew!  That ends the saga portion of this blog post.  From here on out it is all happy notes, thankfully.  After the ends were done I did a quick border (one round of single crochet) and added a lining.  This part was AWESOME.  Sewing the zipper to Winnie’s hoodie was not the best experience, and after having so much trouble with this blanket I was kind of dreading this part.  I bought a cream jersey that matches perfectly, is very lightweight and stretchy.  I washed it, cut it, pinned it into place, and used this method for sewing the lining to the blanket.  I was shocked when it went quickly and easily!  I did take a few breaks but the actual sewing was painless.  Once it was done, I just tacked in into place in different spots in the middle.  And voila!  A whole month past Christmas, but the blanket was finished.

Just look at that lining!

Just look at that lining!

To be honest though, I am a little apprehensive of Winnie actually using this blanket.  For whatever reason she has been eating three times her normal amount of frozen blueberries.  I think her fingertips may be permanently purple.  Not really the best match for a cream, non-superwash wool blanket.  Whoops!  Live and learn, I guess!

What could I possible be worried about?

What could I possible be worried about?

A Very Special Guest Post & WIP Wendesday

Hey there readers! I am Liz’s sister, Michelle, here with a guest post!   Liz and I are working on some future collaborative projects and before those come around we thought it’d be a good idea for me to introduce myself.

Me & hubby, plus Frida, Zelda, and Monda

Me & hubby, plus Frida, Zelda, and Monda

I relocated from the New England area that Liz calls home and currently live in Tucson, Arizona. I have turned into quite the desert dweller. I live with my husband and our three dogs. I’m in the last semester of my MLIS and work part time in an academic medical library.

I started graduate school in 2012 (while still working full time in my previous field, community mental health) and took an unintentional knitting hiatus. I learned how to knit in elementary school but it wasn’t until the end of high school that it became a hobby that I pursued. Throughout college and afterwards I began expanding my skills, graduating from endless scarves and beanies to lace shawls and experimenting on creating projects with a pattern. I even knit a cozy for my husband’s electric bass!

teal garter stitch ear flap hat with pom-pom

Pom-poms are a pain to make, but dang they look cute on two year olds.

Then when grad school started I began to slow down. It wasn’t even something I noticed at first, but it eventually ground to a halt. Now that I can see the light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, I’ve picked it back up again. In the two months leading up to Christmas, I knit a long circle scarf/cowl, toddler vest, toddler hat, and a baby blanket (not yet photographed or on Ravelry).

In honor of #WIP Wednesday, I am also going to share a little bit about what I’m currently working on. While I managed to create my own pattern to knit a sweater for a bass guitar, I’ve never actually finished a garment for myself. I recently purchased yarn for the Pomme de Pin cardigan and was planning on starting once I finished my Christmas gift knitting, but realized that it was a pretty large project for a first wearable item, and living in the desert means that it’s already hardly cozy sweater weather anymore. I decided instead to tackle a smaller garment first, and hope that would give me a motivational kick-start to go on to start and complete Pomme de Pin.

I had purchased yarn intended for another cardigan a while back, and although I like the design, I realized it wasn’t something I would be likely to wear. I decided to do something else with the purchased yarn, and searching through Ravelry I eventually settled on Date Night. I am squarely between sizes, and many projects reported this top ran small. While I was using a heavier weight yarn (Cascade’s Venezia Worsted, a merino silk blend, in Turquoise), I was still a little nervous about sizing down and my swatch proved to be only one stitch off from the required gauge despite using a larger needle and heavier yarn.

Swatch post blocking

Swatch post blocking

I absolutely love the resulting blocked fabric, which manages both crispness and drape. I am hoping that starting it before my last semester picks back up will allow me time to finish before graduation.

What was your first knit garment? Any advice for a first sweater?

Looking forward to being a part of this blog!