Red Alert

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Bedford is flying off my needles. Flying. Three weeks ago, all I had was a swatch, and now I have a body (up to the armscye) and I’m three inches shy of two full arms. It’s moving so fast that, last week when I sat down to blog about it and then got interrupted (sorry about that), I needed new photos before I could blog again because I finished an entire arm between then and when I thought I’d have time to blog again on the weekend (which also didn’t happen…. How can this sweater be moving so quickly when I have had so little time to knit? I don’t know what’s going on over here.)

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Anyway, suffice to say that I’m quite enjoying knitting Bedford, and thanks to the cold weather I’m feeling very motivated to get it finished. So far my mods have been pretty simple. I added 1.5 inches to the length (and I suspect to get another inch or so through blocking/wearing).

Bedford4

I’m also knitting the sleeves inside out. They’re meant to be reverse stockinette, but my gauge is much more consistent when I knit (I don’t tend to have loose purl stitches, but the motion tires my hands out faster, which can lead to looser stitches here and there). So, I decided to knit them in stockinette in then just flip them right-side-out when it comes time to join them to the body. I knit the ribbing opposite to how it’s written to make up for it, and since I’ve been alternating skeins every two rows, I’ve had my extra yarn hanging on the outside of the knitting (it’s weird at first, but you get used to it). The fabric is kind of folded right now, but that should block right out. Before I actually join everything together, have I neglected to think of something here? When I looked through the project pages it seemed not one else knit the sleeves this way, which may mean they just stuck to the pattern or may mean there’s a good reason not to, I’m not sure. But, I figured that some people knit sleeves in the round when the pattern says to knit them flat, and some people prefer to pick up stitches and knit sleeves top down instead of seaming, so there’s precedent for changing things up.

The other mod I’m considering has to do with the raglan lines (though not the decrease rate, which will be a game-time decision I think). As I’ve been knitting this I’ve been worrying a little about the weight. The sweater was designed for Loft, which is an airier yarn than the Tosh Vintage I’m using. I’m happy for the sweater to grow a little, but I don’t want the shoulders and neck to end up misshapen as a result. There are seams at the underarms, and the neck ribbing is picked up, but I want t reinforce the raglans too. I was planning to use single crochet on the inside (which I did on my Woodstove Season cardigan), but then Karen Templer posted about adding seams to a seamless sweater and I’m wondering if maybe that’s a better bet. It would be easy enough to add a purl stitch to the centre of the raglan lines, to be seamed away later, and it certainly sounds sturdy.

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I’m not quite there yet, so I have time to think about it. Have you ever had to add structure to an otherwise seamless sweater? What’s your favourite method?

*The title of this post is because I get the sense there is going to be a lot of red in 2015. Between the baby sweater, this sweater, Halligarth (which I plan to reacquaint myself with soon), and at least one pair of socks I have planned, it seems I have red on the brain. There are worse colours to be obsessed with though, right?

It’s becoming my go-to pattern

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My last finished knit of 2014 was yet another Sunnyside, my third for the year (though the first two feel like they were finished much longer ago). I think it’s safe to say that it has become my go-to knit for a new baby. It’s simple, but with a little something extra, and lots of possibilities for customization, and just look at how cute it is.

Ruby Sunnyside

Ruby Sunnyside

I knit this basically as written, except that I mirrored the cables down the fronts and across the raglan lines.This is for my cousin (due any day now!) and, although I finished this last week (just before New Year’s), I started this way back in September, before we knew whether she was having a boy or a girl. Red with cables seemed like a safe choice at the time, and since we later found out she’s having a girl, I added the lilac-coloured flower buttons to girl it up a bit. I noticed when I was buttoning up the sweater that the little petals on the buttons were snagging in the yarn-over button holes, so I went back and stitched around each button hole to make them both more open and smoother (for some reason, I don’t have a photo of that. Sorry.)

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Anyway, this was a very quick little knit, or would have been if I hadn’t been so distracted. When I cast it on in September I worked on it until I was almost done the raglan shaping, and then put it down in favour of, well, lots of other things, but mainly the Wee Envelope sweater* I needed to start for friends of ours (I finished that too, but forgot to get FO shots before I gifted it. Ho hum). I picked Sunnyside back up over Thanksgiving (that’s early October in Canada) and finished the body, and then it languished while I did all my Christmas knitting. I just kept thinking “I only have the arms left, it’s no big deal.” It wasn’t a big deal, really. I knit the sleeves in an afternoon after Christmas and then dithered around for a week and half before I mailed it — and I didn’t want to blog about it until it was in the mail.

rubysun4

I really love a deep red for babies. Especially winter babies. It’s just so cozy!

There’s really not much else to say about this little knit except that you’re almost certain to see more Sunnysides popping up over here because it’s such a great little pattern. In fact, our friends (to whom the Wee Envelope was gifted) are also having a girl, which means I have an excuse to do the lace version of this pattern next!

Details
Pattern: Sunnyside by Tanis Lavallee
Yarn: Fleece Artist Merino 2/6 in Ruby (my stash is really starting to earn its keep, let me tell you)
Notes: I have this weird feeling that I actually cast on for the 6-12 month size, and then forgot and knit this as if it was for the 0-3 month size. I can’t be certain, but the collar looks a little larger than it should. Other than that, and mirroring the cables, it’s knit exactly as written! Ravelled here.

*As an aside, I really wish I’d taken finished photos of the Wee Envelope I knit because it was adorable! I will definitely be revisiting the pattern in the future.

The year in making: Looking ahead

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I am really happy with what I knit and sewed in 2014, and I’m really excited about this year. I actually have so many plans that I’m trying to rein myself in — it would be really easy to be ambitious now and then feel like I let myself down later, so I’ve been really thinking about what I want to do this year in a way that makes space for change. In no particular order, here are some of the big things I want to do/make this year, though I’ve almost certainly forgotten something.

Our first tree!

Our first tree!

1. This is an easy one since it’s top of mind right now: I want to make more ornaments for our Christmas tree. This was the first year L and I had our own tree, and it was a little sparsely decorated. It was fine, and I think almost all the ornaments we have are hand made, but none of them were made by me, which felt a little strange. Growing up, our tree was always a mish-mash of hand-crafted, homemade, and store-bought ornaments, and the jumble was so cheerful and fun. While there is plenty of time until there will be kid-made ornaments on our tree, I would like to spend some time (well in advance) making some ornaments for us. Right now I’m hoping to make 12. I’m thinking I’ll use leftovers to make a few variations of these stranded balls (I really like these cabled ones too) and I love these wonky owls. In an effort not to only fill the tree with knitting (though it’s tempting), this sewn owl is on my list, as is this little house and this map-petal ornament (which would also be really nice with a robust wrapping paper). Do you have any favourites I should add to the list?

2. More socks! I knit 12 pairs of socks last year, 10 of which were for me, and I really thought I’d be set for a while. But, of course, handknit socks wear out eventually and some of my oldest pairs are decidedly out of the regular rotation (though they’re great for sleeping in). I’d like to knit another 12 pairs this year (I’ve even picked out some of the yarns!) in a mix of super-warm worsted-weight socks, plain fingering-weight, and fun patterned ones (Dawlish is high on my list), plus some gifts of course.

Lovely plain socks, knit up in   Nomadic Yarns Twisty Sock in Sweater Weather.

Lovely plain socks, knit up in Nomadic Yarns Twisty Sock in Sweater Weather.

3. Keep knitting from my stash. I thought was really doing well with this in 2014, but somehow my stash still swelled by more than 5,000 yards, so there’s a way to go (not that I want to get rid of my stash or anything, I just want to use it). I’ve been really enjoying Felicia’s posts about stashing, and while I’m not planning to set limits on purchases or anything (I just rebel against those), I have ben enjoying my stash lately and I’m hoping that continues this year.

4. Speaking of stash, I’ve built up a little fabric stash this year. My big sewing goal this year is to figure out shirts/tops. This was one of the big reasons I wanted to start sewing, so it’s time to focus on it. I’m going to ease in with cotton knit t-shirts, but I do want to work up to more careful, tailored pieces. I see a lot of muslins in my future, and I’m okay with that.

Bedford swatch in Tosh Vintage, in Tart.

Bedford swatch in Tosh Vintage, in Tart.

5. Along with garment sewing, I want to do more garment knitting. I wear my knits all the time, and more sweaters would be a welcome addition to my closet. First up is Bedford, which I’ve swatched for already and will probably cast on for pretty soon. I’ve loved this pattern for ages, and it finally occurred to me that it was a perfect match for the sweater’s worth of Tosh Vintage I have in my stash. I’m also eyeing Epistrophy and Asta Sollilja (my parents bought me YOKES for Christmas, which is very exciting), as well as the Sibella Cardigan, all of which would be great fits for my wardrobe (they’re also all patterns I already own, which is a whole other part of knitting from stash). I’m not sure I’ll actually get to four sweaters this year, but I think two is realistic (based on the last few years), and maybe this year I’ll push it to three. We shall see.

So, there you have it, my big 5. What are your plans for the year? Almost certainly I’ll read other lists and get inspired and want to come back append this list, but oh well. That’s what makes all of this fun, right?

The year in making: Looking Back

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It’s that time of year I guess. 2014 was a funny one for me: I never felt like I had very much time to knit anything at all, but looking back I think I did okay. I’ve also included some sewn pieces in this collage, but not everything. I sewed a lot this year and most what I made are not garments I’d wear, though they all taught me something. A few of these pieces are unblogged, either because they were gifts or I just didn’t quite get around to them. Anyway, here is what 2014 looked like from over here.

2014Starting at the top and going across each row left to right: JanuaryCold Snap socks, Brig, Sunnyside Twin Set, Rye – February –  Hodgepodge Mittens, Sochi Socks – March – Flukra, Shaelyn, New Girl – April -Splish-Splash socks, Gaspereau Mitts, Fine-Feathered Madeleine, Pheasant socks (actually finished in June, but they fit better in this row), Grace – JuneBaldersquash socks – JulyGatineau Stripes – AugustSummer Skyps, Endless Summer Tunic/Dress, Brig II – SeptemberKelly skirt, Betula, Stasis – October – Endless Summer Dress, Motoring Madness mitts, Rye II (unblogged, my mum’s Christmas gift), Norby, Dad socks (unbloged, my dad’s Christmas gift) – December –  Skiff (unblogged, my sister’s Christmas gift), Wee Envelope (despite appearance, I did finish it, I just gifted it before taking a new photo), Christmas Stockings, Return of the Moose gloves,  Blackberries, Ruby Sunnyside (unblogged because I just finished it).

If you’re keeping count, that’s 35 actively enjoyed finished garments, and there are actually a couple of others that I never got around to taking photos of (including a second Kelly skirt, which I made for my sister). That works out to: 12 pairs of socks, 4 hats, 4 baby sweaters, 4 pairs of mittens/mitts/gloves, 3 skirts (two sewn, one knit), 2 shawls, 2 sweaters, 2 sewn dresses, and two Christmas stockings! Not too shabby, and a good range of garments that managed to not be all in the same colour!

Besides the socks, my most-worn knits have definitely been Shaelyn and Grace, with New Girl coming in a close third. Shaelyn is an ideal shawl for summer (for me): long enough to wear when bicycling to and from work, a nice lightweight fabric that’s still warm, and a colour that manages to be a both snappy and a neutral. Grace is both easy to wear and very comfortable. It’s perfect for work, and brings some good colour to my otherwise kind of dark winter wardrobe (so much navy…) New Girl was a complete surprise. I’d been interested in knitting a skirt for a while, and although I loved the pattern, it was hard to know how it would turn out. As it is, I’ve worn it so much I’m honestly thinking about knitting a second one.

What was your favourite FO of the year? Does it surprise you?

I’ll get to my 2015 goals later, but in the meantime let me just say thank you to everyone who reads this blog, whether you comment regularly, just once in a while, or not at all. There have definitely been days when knowing I’d blogged about something pushed me to keep going at it, or when knowing I could ask for advice or an opinion kept me from worrying about some detail or another. So, thank you for hanging out this year! Let’s do it again in 2015.

On my toes

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Tis the season for year-end posts, I know, but I’m going to squeak one more FO post in before I start that (I’m giving myself the whole first week of January for look-back, look-forward stuff). Anyway. When I started knitting/sewing all my Christmas gifts, I started a little tradition for myself: when my last gift is off the needles, I cast on a pair of socks for me. It’s not a big thing, but socks are good for all the travel and casual socializing of the holidays, and new socks are sort of a holiday classic.

This year, though, I decided to do something a little different. For starters, L and I decided to spend Christmas together, so I went home with him for a week. I know the rhythms of my family’s holiday traditions inside out, but I wasn’t sure how much knitting time I’d have with his family, and I wanted to be open to all the differences instead of lamenting a lack of time with my needles. I also, if you remember, wasn’t at all sure I’d be able to finish L’s gloves before Christmas, so I wasn’t really sure I’d even have time to knit Christmas socks for myself.

This picture is from the beginning of November, and I hadn't added a stitch to these socks until I pulled them out of their bag a few days before Christmas.

This picture is from the beginning of November, and I hadn’t added a stitch to these socks until I pulled them out of their bag a few days before Christmas.

How lucky then, that I had a lovely pair of socks already on the needles! I started my Blackberry socks way back in September, but as often happens with this kind of sock (fun, variegated yarn at a tight gauge) they were my in-between knitting, and quickly got put aside entirely in favour of holiday knitting. I was part-way into through the leg of the second sock, and they were in a holiday-ish colour, so they were a perfect alternative to an entirely fresh pair.

I finished L’s gloves a few days before Christmas, so I picked up these socks and got to work. Somehow, between cooking and eating and socializing I managed to sneak in a few stitches, and a couple of movies later they were finished! I cast off on Christmas Day (thank goodness I’d brought some back-up yarn for my short flight home!) and they are lovely, if I do say so myself.

Photo taken a few days ago, in front our (first!) Christmas tree.

Photo taken a few days ago, in front our (first!) Christmas tree.

I’ve been paying attention to my habits lately and it seems that, when I have a full drawer of clean socks, these kinds of plain, tightly knit ones are the first to get warn. They’re the ones I reach for again and again, though they’re also the ones I take longest to knit: if they aren’t striped, I don’t seem to ever be in a hurry to finish plain stockinette socks — my last three pairs all took more than three months from cast-on to cast-off, whereas plain striped socks seems to knit themselves. The solution, I think, is clearly more stripes!

Since this post is turning into an end-of-December sort of analysis anyway, one last thing: Do you remember my sock goal for this year? Basically I wanted to knit about seven everyday pairs of socks, preferably from my stash. Well, I just about did it. I knit six plain pairs (out of 12 pairs total — more on those in my actual wrap-up post) and, except for one pair, they were all from stash yarn! My Blackberry socks are actually from yarn I bought over three years ago, right around the time I was acquiring a stash, so that’s pretty good I think.

In case you're curious, this is Fleece Artist Merino 2/6 in Blackberry. I really like the way the colours knit up at this gauge. Not too much flashing or pooling, but a little pattern nonetheless.

In case you’re curious, this is Fleece Artist Merino 2/6 in Blackberry. I really like the way the colours knit up at this gauge. Not too much flashing or pooling, but a little pattern nonetheless.

I definitely have more sock (and knitting) plans for 2015, but I will give that its own post. In the meantime, do you knit for yourself over the holidays? After so long knitting for others, it feels like such a treat.

Return of the Moose (and the Brig!)

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I totally made it. Three days before Christmas these puppies were off the needles, blocked, and had their ends woven in, and I’m still not sure how I managed to make up that much time — call it a cliché, but this felt like a (secular) Christmas miracle.

moose4

Because it’s basically impossible to secretly knit for the person you live with, and doubly so when you need them to try things on, L knew these were coming. I actually ended up giving them to him early since he hasn’t been able to wear the old ones and thus has had no gloves. They fit perfectly (like they were made for him!) and thanks to the denser yarn (Quince & Co. Chickadee), should be warmer than the last pair.

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I made a few other changes this time around, the biggest one being completely re-creating the chart in Illustrator. The chart in the book is impossibly small and has no numbers for either rows or columns, making it easy to lose your place. Additionally, the chart for the moose pattern on the back of the hand has enormously long floats. There wasn’t really any way around it for the actual moose (I didn’t want to make it speckled, though that does seem to be the consensus in other designs), but for the area around the moose, long floats seemed unnecessary. I charted in some little specks (a friend called them snowflakes, which is a nice interpretation), which definitely gives these gloves a different look than the other ones, but luckily it’s one that L likes.

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They go quite nicely with his Christmas hat too, which is a happy coincidence. He knew about the hat too, but I made him wait for it since he has others. This is a second attempt at Brig, and despite knitting it to almost exactly the same specifications as the previous one, it’s much smaller. L tried it on before I wove in the ends and said he liked it as it was (I offered to rip out the decreases and knit it long enough to have a fold-over brim), so I left it. It’s nice and tight around his ears, and the yarn (Swan’s Island Organic Washable DK) is lovely and soft, with really good recovery.

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I think it’s very fair to say that L is happy with his new hat and gloves. We took these pictures on Christmas day and it was definitely his most enthusiastic posing yet! (This is doubly amazing because I just realized that both of these are second-timers for him. He just likes what he likes I guess.)

Details
Pattern: The Moose at Sundown by Annemor Sundbo
Yarn: Quince & Co. Chickadee in Winesap and Slate
Needles: 2.75mm, 3mm, 3.25mm
Notes: My main changes were to the chart — adding extra specks to keep the floats from being too long (you can see the insides here) and adding extra length to the hand, which I did last time as well. I also when up a needle size for the fingers. One other thing I did when I recharted these was to make it so the beginning of the round was in the same place for both gloves. As it’s written in the book, for the left glove you knit the palm and then then back of the hand, and for the right hand you knit the back of the hand and then the palm. It’s not a huge deal, but I did notice that the tension of my floats were different on the two different gloves, and I wondered if that was why, so this time I knit both of these with the palm first. I’d say it resulted in much better tension, especially at the edges. Anyway, these are ravelled here. (And the hat is here.)

Just about ready

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It’s not like I don’t know that December is a crazy busy month, but it seems like every year it still catches me off guard. I think it’s because December is a month where I don’t want to say no to anything. There are holiday parties, craft shows, birthdays, and so much knitting, and I want to do it all, because it’s fun and it’s festive and it’s just nice.

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Does this look familiar? Well, yes. L completely wore through the last pair I knit, and requested new ones. I’ve tweaked a few things this time around, which I’ll detail later, but basically, yeah, these are the same gloves.

Inevitably, though, that leads to a knitting crunch. We’re spending the holidays with L’s family this year, which means everything for my family needed to be done extra early so it could be mailed. Last Friday I delivered their parcel to the post office, feeling pretty good about how much of my holiday making I’d finished with two weeks to spare. Then I looked down at the gloves I’m knitting for L, and did a little math (amount of work divided by number of days in which to do it) and felt a whole lot less smug.

Why yes, I did sew that trim on by hand.

Why yes, I did sew that trim on by hand.

This time last week, the gloves consisted of one finished hand, with one finger, which I had to rip out and reknit, basically I had: no fingers, no thumb, no second glove even on the needles. I also realized that I had committed to making us stockings, and that I hadn’t even started (as in: no fabric, no pattern). I powered through on the second glove hand over the weekend (there’s nothing like a chart to motivate you through).

stockings1

I took care of the stockings on Monday. I bought the fabric, I made up a pattern (yes, the toes are a little pointy, but that just adds character, right?) and I whipped them together. The fabric is upholstery weight that I got in the remnant bin at a fabric store downtown, so it was relatively inexpensive, but frayed like crazy, so these are French seamed. It seems a little fancy for something that will really only be used once a year, but I sure beat trying to line them.

I have since finished that last finger. Now on to the next hand!

I have since finished that last finger. Now on to the next hand! (The reason they look like slightly different sizes is because I blocked the right hand — through not the fingers — to check the fit. The left hand has’t been blocked or tried on, but I fully expect it to stretch to the same size. You can really see the difference blocking makes, though, eh? Wow.)

Now I’m just chugging away on the fingers. I’ve got four finished, which leaves me four more, plus two thumbs, and just under a week. We have some driving to do, so I’m hoping I can get a finger or two knit in the car (the chart is nice and straightforward, and now I’ve basically knit it four times, so I’m not worried), which leaves me with just a few more, and then blocking and weaving in the ends. It’ll be tight, but I think I might just make it.

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