Category Archives: finished

The Lovely Fika

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I am a big fan of treating myself on my birthday, and today I think I started a new little tradition along those lines: a new pair of hand-knit socks. I love fresh-off-the-needles socks, when they’re still all firm and unstretched, so when I finished these on Monday I decided to save them until today. It was such an easy, nice little thing to do for myself, and I’m glad I thought of it.

These are Fika, from the spring issue of Pom Pom Quarterly, which I finally subscribed to. Every new issue of Pom Pom has at least one pattern in it that I love, and every time I wish to myself that I was a subscriber, so I finally just went for it and I’m so glad I did. Besides being the source of lovely patterns and other writing, it’s beautiful to look at, and the paper stock and printing make it feel almost like a little book. Anyway, the spring issue was the first one I got as part of my subscription, and it just made sense that Fika would be the first thing I cast on.

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I’ve had this Koigu in my stash for ages (years, maybe even) and although I was originally thinking it would work well for a pair of Smokestack Socks, I’m really glad I used it for Fika. The twisted rib is a great way to both show off and break up the fun speckled colourway, and all the colours in the yarn made choosing the contrast stripe really fun (originally, I had planned to use red, but then I saw this picture and changed my mind.)

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I knit these at my usual gauge, which was a bit of a miscalculation on my part, since the largest size has you cast on 64 stitches — four fewer than I’d usually go with. I thought to myself: What’s four stitches? And knit along quite merrily, making up for the deficit by decreasing fewer stitches at the gussets. As you can see, the socks fit quite nicely, but they are hard to pull on! The upside, of course, is that they don’t sag. The next time I knit these, I’ll just go up a needle size, which will give me the wiggle room I need. And there will certainly be a next time, because as I knit blissfully away on these I went into a kind of autopilot and, after casting on, didn’t refer to the pattern again until the toe, which means the missed the novel heel shaping! I’m intrigued, though, so another pair is certainly in my future.

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Details
Pattern: Fika by Maribeth White
Yarn: Koigu KPPPM in P336 (the contrast is Koigu needlepoint yarn in #3332 — this is sold in 10-yard mini-mini skeins, which is perfect for this sort of detail)
Needles: 2.25mm
Notes: Just what I mentioned above about ignoring the heel shaping and doing fewer gusset decreases. I actually also knit the heel in a different yarn, because although I really love Koigu for socks, I’m hard on my heels, and it wears through a bit more quickly than a yarn with nylon reinforcement. I chose a low-contrast colour though, so it didn’t compete with the rest of the design and I’m quite pleased with the overall look (you can see just a hint of grey heel in the photo above). Ravelled here.

Spring Scouting

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When it comes to writing about sewing, I am terrible. Part of it is definitely a practice issue — I am definitely a seasonal sewist — but part of it is also that sewing is so much quicker than knitting, which means I have less time process time during which to think about what I’ll eventually say. The result, of course, is a back log of projects, which I find weirdly intimidating to write about (as if, since they’ve been kicking around, I should have more to say). ANYWAY, this preamble is just more procrastination, so I will just jump in.

This was meant to be a test shot, but I actually kind of like the angle. Anyway: I'm not sad, is what I'm trying to say.

This was meant to be a test shot, but I actually kind of like the angle. Anyway: I’m not sad, is what I’m trying to say.

As I said, I am a seasonal sewist, so when the warm(ish) weather arrived about a month ago, coinciding with Felicia’s simple sewing series, I was inspired (inspired!) to revisit Grainline Studio’s Scout Tee, which I had tried before but never quite gotten right. I read lots of sewing blogs over the winter, so I was feeling vicariously confident in my skills. I pulled out the pattern pieces, made some alterations, and whipped up this pink floral top. (Would I have said this fabric was my style before this shirt? Maybe not. Why did I have it in my stash? In a fit of spring fever a year ago, I bought four metres of it! Thank goodness I like it so much now).

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This spring fever Scout is a very, very wearable muslin. It does billow a little in back, so I made a few tweaks before making a second one.

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I love this fabric. Love it. And it’s even better for being navy — my go-to neutral — since that makes an otherwise whimsical print very easy to wear. I am a big fan of elbow-length sleeves (I often roll my regular sleeves up this high), and it’s a great length for spring. These sleeves are slim enough to fit comfortable under a cardigan, but still have enough room to move around in. I suspect I’ll make a couple more tops in this style for the fall, though its probably safe to switch over to t-shirts for now.

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Another test shot that worked out pretty well!

So, what do you think? I have two more of these to blog about (I don’t have photos, or I’d have lumped them all in here together), so I hope it isn’t deadly boring. Is anyone else feeling the urge to sew as the weather warms up?

Edited to add: I completely left off the usual Details part of this post. Maybe if I treat sewing FOs the way I treat knitting ones, the blogging will be a little easier? Hmm. Anyway, here it is:

Details
Pattern: Scout Tee by Grainline Studio
Fabric: Anna Maria Horner Voile in Cell Structure in Americana (from Field Study) and Cotton + Steel Lawn in Window Vine (from Homebodies)
Notes: I honestly can’t remember what size I started out with, so I’m not sure helpful these modification notes will be (I think I may have started with a size 8, based on the finished garment measurements). Anyway: Initially I did an FBA and graded the side seams in two sizes at the waist. I noticed that I had a lot of extra fabric at the centre front (a lot), so in a move that worked for me (but might not for you!) I cut an inch off the pattern piece (thus taking two inches out of the centre front; as I said, there was a lot of extra fabric just sitting there, yet the top didn’t fit properly at the sides without the FBA). I then re-drew the neckline and did a slight broad-back adjustment to make up the difference. I also added an inch to the length and did French seams where I could.

I should note that because I started all these alterations months ago (there was another muslin somewhere around the holidays) that part of the reason everything is in a jumble is because I didn’t really know what I was doing. Undoubtedly choosing a more appropriate size from the get go would have lessened the alterations. This really is a simple and straight-forward pattern if you don’t go crazy overthinking it (as I sort of did). In the end, though, I’m happy with the pattern pieces I have, which is the main thing.

Light it up

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It never fails to amaze me how quickly I can get something finished if I just focus on it. A few days after I posted about my current socks, I noticed a hole in the heel of one of my favourite pairs. The next day, I found a hole in the heel of another pair. Despite those holes being entirely unrelated to the pair on my needles, finding them lit something of a fire under me, and barely more than a week later I finished that pair.

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I actually would have been done sooner, but I made a very foolish yarn calculation when going away for Easter weekend and ran out of yarn (I know better than this, and yet…) Oh well. They’re finished now and they are as fun as I hoped they would be.

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Originally, I’d only been planning contrast heels, but then a couple of you suggested contrast toes too, and I’m so glad you did. They are the perfect touch. For more fun, I alternated the stripe sequence between socks. It’s subtle, and a nice little twist on perfectly matched stripes. (I’d already planned to do this, but it came in extra handy over Easter since it meant I didn’t have to waste any of the yarn I had with me.)

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There’s not much to say about these. They’re my standard 68-stitch, top-down sock. The stripes ended up being a perfect width to base measurements on, which doesn’t always happen, but definitely makes lining things up from one sock to the other much easier.

Details
Yarn: Knit Picks Felici in Lighthouse (with leftover Sweet Fiber Super Sweet Sock in Spanish Coin for the contrast)
Pattern: Old faithful
Notes: No change from the usual, though I will say the choice of contrast colour was inspired by lighthouse lights. That subsequently led to my project name, which meant every time I picked these up this song would pop into my head, making for quite an enjoyable project. Ravelled here.

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Clothes for a sheep

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Six weeks ago, two of our best friends had a baby. I already knew I was going to love this kid (her parents are the best — how could she not be!?) but when she held on ten extra days just so she could be born on Chinese New Year, I knew she was a kindred spirit. This is the year of the sheep (or goat), and any baby who wants to be a sheep that badly is clearly going to be showered with knitting. (Also, be warned, there are a lot of photos in this post. Between her inherent cuteness and her dad’s fantastic photos, I couldn’t resist.)

Two days old, already hamming it up.

Two days old, already hamming it up.

We met little Amber the day she came home from the hospital, and as soon as I knew we were going I decided that whip up a little something to bring with us (besides, of course dinner and treats for her parents). I decided to go with a hat, for both speed and immediate practicality. It was friggin’ cold the week she was born (down around -40C with windchill some days), and as most Canadians learn early in life, a hat is indispensable in the winter.

About a week old.

About a week old.

I thought about going with a hat I’ve already made, but where’s the fun in that? I did a quick search through my Ravelry favourites and decided to go with the Garter Ear-Flap Hat from Purl Soho. It’s ridiculously cute with the little ear flaps, and the funny tassel on top was a huge hit. I knit the smallest size, in lighter weight yarn, and it still came out pretty big for a newborn. It will get her through her first winter though, so I consider that a success.

Details
Pattern: Garter Ear-Flap Hat by Purl Soho
Yarn: Tosh Merino DK in Candlewick
Notes: I sped up the decreases to get a (slightly) smaller hat. You can see my notes (such as they are — I knit this quickly and a little on auto-pilot) here.

She loves it.

She loves it. (Also, maybe I should whip her up some tiny mittens?)

These days Amber is also rocking the Wee Envelop sweater that I knit her months before she was born. I was worried at the time that it might be too small, but it turns out it’s the perfect one-month size, and a big hit.

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She’s just over a month old here. 

I wrote about this little sweater in the fall when I was knitting it, but I never got proper photos of it before I gifted it, so it didn’t really get its due here. Seriously, though, what a fun knit. I’ve still only knit the one, but it will definitely become a go-to pattern for future babies (and perhaps for Amber, since there’s a generous size range in the pattern).

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I love a good top-down raglan as much as anyone (and my love of Sunnyside has not yet abated), but it’s fun to knit something a little different, and the construction of this sweater is clever in the best way — that is, it’s fun to knit without being needlessly complicated. I also love that, because you knit the sleeves and yoke first, you can knit the body until you run out of yarn (if you want). That, plus the potential for fun buttons, makes this such a winner for me.

Details
Pattern: Wee Envelop by Ysolda Teague
Yarn: Indigodragonfly Superwash DK in My World is All Askew
Notes: I knit this so long ago I don’t really remember if I changed anything. I knit it at a slightly smaller gauge, so I did make some modifications to accommodate that, but nothing that changed the overall look or construction. Ravelled here.

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Small things

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It is finally staring to feel like spring is on the horizon, so of course it’s the perfect time to take stock of what’s missing in our winter wardrobes. I do this every year at about this time: what items do we wish we had? What items to we have that need replacing? etc. Usually, though, I do this little inventory and then decide that because everything on the list is small I can do it later — after all, spring is coming and with it lots of fun new projects! — and then inevitably I never get around to the small things.

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Except, this year I did. At least a little. L and I have been doing a fair bit of cross-country skiing this year (I’m still learning, but he’s been cross-country skiing forever) and it occurred to me recently that neither of us have cowls to wear. In general, neither of us favour neck warmers, but for skiing, and sports in general, they’re just so practical! We do actually have an old black fleece neck warmer of mine, but that doesn’t go far between two people.

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So I made a plan. A couple of years ago, L was given a skein of hand-dyed wool-alpaca yarn by friends of ours (a gift predicated on my knitting him something with it). I think the original idea was for it to socks, but he doesn’t need DK-weight alpaca socks, so the yarn sat in my stash until last week when I realized it was perfect for a neck warmer.

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I started out by knitting him a Honey Cowl (how had I never knit this before?) but realized pretty quickly that it wasn’t thick enough to replace the fleece one. So I doubled it. Basically, I knit it in the Honey Cowl pattern until it was the height of the fleece neck warmer, and then I purled a row (for turning), and switched to stockinette. I went down a needle size and added a strand of alpaca silk laceweight and just knit until the inside was a long as the outside (I had to sub in some other yarn for a wide stripe because there wasn’t quite enough of the main to go the full distance). And the end, after weaving in all the ends I could, I picked up stitches from my cast-on row and closed it all up with a three-needle bind-off. Very tidy, and it made for a very dense and warm cowl, which he seems quite pleased with.

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My own cowl needs a little work I think. I knit myself the Bandana Cowl, which seemed practical since that vee of space at the zip of my jacket is a definite cold zone. I used a special single-skein of yarn I’d been holding onto (Tanis Fiber Arts Green Label in Frost, from one of her Etsy updates) and a strand of the same laceweight I’d used in L’s cowl. Because I was using a worsted weight instead of the bulky the pattern calls for, I cast on extra stitches, but I think I maybe cast on a few too many. I’m quite pleased with the proportions of the cowl, but its a little wide at the top. The best solution, I think, is to rip back a few inches in add some extra decreases — maybe three extra sets — so it’s snug enough to stay up over my nose if I need it to.

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The simple pattern was a perfect use for the yarn, though, and I’m so glad I decided to stop saving it! I’ve been trying really hard to break out of the idea that a yarn is too pretty or special to use.  I don’t have this issue with sock yarns so much, since a single skein is all I need for socks, but I find other weights can be trickier, so I’m on the lookout for good single-skein projects for my pretty yarns.

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Details
Patterns: Honey Cowl and Bandana Cowl
Yarn: Canadian Alpaca Products and Tanis Fiber Arts Yellow Label in Frost
Notes: Mostly just what I’ve already said above. You can find L’s neck warmer ravelled here, and my cowl ravelled here.

Anyway, it was a lovely day when we took these pictures, and we even got some funny ones of the two of us together (thanks to our very obliging friend Josh, who was visiting). I will leave you with this one, since it’s both my favourite and the most ridiculous.

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The lovely Dawlish

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Oh man, do I love Rachel Coopey’s designs. I know I’ve said it before (probably every time I’ve knit one of her patterns, actually) but it’s true. Her designs are creative, interesting (but not super difficult) to knit, and, best of all, fantastic to wear.

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When I bought her first book, Coop Knits Socks, two years ago, Dawlish was one of the patterns I wanted to knit right away. Why it has taken me two years, I don’t know, but I’m so glad I finally got around to it. Actually, speaking of getting around to it, this yarn is one of the first skeins I ever bought without a specific purpose in mind. I remember choosing it, and how expensive and special it felt compared to the other yarn I used up to that point. I have been kind of hoarding it ever since, because even though indie-dyed sock yarns (from this very company, even!) have become a staple of my knitting, there’s something about the early skeins that feels extra-special. Combining it with a long-desired pattern was the perfect match, and I’m happy to say that neither one disappointed.

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Dawlish is a quintessential Rachel Coopey pattern. The design across the two socks is mirrored, which means you’re not quite knitting the exact same sock twice in a row. Also, the charts are each a 40-row, 15-stitch repeat, so within the same sock you’re not actually knitting the same repeats over and over again, though there’s enough repetition that it does become intuitive. The pattern is nice and stretch, which isn’t always the case with travelling cables, but there’s lots of ribbing integrated throughout the pattern to ensure a good fit.

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Details
Pattern: Dawlish by Rachel Coopey
Yarn: Indigodragonfly Merino Sock in Tiny Bloodsucking Dancer
Needles: 2.5mm
Notes: I swapped out the heel in the pattern for an eye-of-partridge heel. Other than that, I knit exactly as written! Ravelled here.

I have plans to knit both Calamint and Brighton this year, and I am itching to buy her new book as well. Maybe one more pattern from the first book and then I’ll treat myself.

Sweater weather

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Based on the colours alone, I’d say this yarn was inspired by fall. But honestly, for me true sweater weather doesn’t fully assert itself until mid-winter — by late January, the worsted weight sweaters that earlier seemed more like jackets than cardigans are in regular rotation and another lighter needs at least one heavy-ish layer underneath it. (The temperature went up to -4 last week, and I got all excited and wore just a T-shirt under my Grace cardigan. When I got to work, I realized my  mistake and ended up wearing my emergency wool sweater over top. Turns out sweater weather is as much an indoor thing as outdoor).

Anyway. I can happily say that despite the very, very cold weather, my feet have been nice and warm thanks to my supply of wool socks. Given my feelings about sweater weather, then, it should come as no surprise that I decided to ignore the seasonal colours and knit these up in the dead of winter.

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Although these were on my needles for a while, don’t read that as a lack of enthusiasm on my part. (I actually finished these a while ago and, really, I was just enthusiastic about an actual sweater.) When these were my actual focus, the knitting flew. I find that to often be the case with striped socks, but still. I actually added a bit of length to the legs of these socks, both because I wanted to minimize my leftovers and because it’s really cold out and a little extra protection from the draught is a good thing.

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These are just my basic 68-stitch, top-down, tight-gauge (9 sts = 1 inch) socks, with 2×2 ribbing at the top and a slip-stitch heel. It’s a formula I use a lot, but in the last six months or so I’ve nailed down the fit of the foot to pretty much perfection, resulting in socks that fit so well I forget I’m wearing them (even at the end of a long day of walking there’s no sagging or movement).

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What really makes these socks worth such a (now) lengthy post, though, is the yarn, Nomadic Yarns Twisty Sock. These stripes are so evenly dyed, with such nice blending between the colours, that with not a lot of effort on my part I ended up with a perfectly matched pair. I have another decidedly Christmasy skein of this yarn in my stash, but now that these are off the needles and seem to be wearing well, I think ordering a few more is a good investment. Goodness knows that, with winters like this starting to feel like the norm, more socks won’t go to waste.

Super-cozy Bedford

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Thrilled. To. Pieces.

Thrilled. To. Pieces.

At last! I feel like it took almost as long to get photos of this sweater as it did to knit it! That’s an exaggeration, but the knitting really did feel like it was flying. Plus, I didn’t want to wear it until we’d taken photos (just in case), so Bedford sat finished and folded for a week before I finally got to wear it (and yes, I’ve been wearing it a fair bit since then).

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This is the big, cozy sweater of my mid-winter dreams. I knit this with the intent to have something slightly oversized (for layering) and that is exactly what I got (I was aiming for 3-4 inches of positive ease and got 6, which I’m okay with). It is perhaps not the most figure flattering sweater, but the stretchy texture of the all-over stitch pattern means that it isn’t shapeless or too tent/sack-like, which is what holds me back from knitting other oversized sweaters like Benton and Boxy, which I admire from afar. Bedford, for me, fits that perfect middle-ground usually reserved for a favourite sweatshirt: oversized without looking too big, with the bonus of being a sweater I can happily wear out of the house.

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Speaking of which, when we shot these photos it was -4C (about 25F) and snowing, and I wasn’t really cold. Obviously I left my scarf and mittens (these ones) on, but otherwise I was okay. I expected to be shivering and asking L to hurry up, but Bedford is surprisingly warm! It is a worsted-weight sweater, but I’d say it’s warmer than my Woodstove Season cardigan, which is knit at a similar gauge and in a similar wool. All that texture really pays off warmth-wise without making it way too hot to wear indoors (so far I’ve worn Bedford around my apartment, out to a restaurant, to an art gallery, and to work, and nowhere have I been uncomfortably warm).

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Construction-wise, I pretty much followed the pattern exactly. Knitting the sleeves inside out (which is to say, in stockinette rather than in reverse stockinette) worked out just fine — I just turned them right side out when it was time to join them to the body and there were no issues. I actually really like the look of the reverse-stockinette sleeves, so I might try this again on another sweater, just for fun. I also added fake-seams along the raglan lines. In the pattern, there are two stockinette stitches along the raglan lines, so I added a purl stitch in there (k1, p1, k1), which I then closed up exactly the way Karen describes in her tutorial. This is a heavy sweater, so I’m glad to have a bit of reinforcement along the lines where a lot of the weight hangs.

I had to change a few things in the raglan shaping/neckline to get the decreases to line up with my row gauge. I don’t remember exactly what I did, but I do know that I worked the raglans for 6 inches before binding off the initial neckline stitches (if I’d stuck to the pattern, this would have had quite a scoop neck). I also tried a new method for binding off the neckline stitches and I’m really happy with the result (my scarf kind of covers it up, but you can see the neckline in the photo in this post). It made for a very smooth bind-off, which in turn made it very easy to pick up the stitches for the ribbing. I will absolutely use this method going forward.

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Details
Pattern: Bedford by Michelle Wang
Yarn: Madelinetosh Vintage in Tart (from my stash! Woo!)
Notes: Besides what I’ve already mentioned, I added a few inches to both the body and sleeves. I also knit the sleeve ribbing on a smaller needle, in an attempt to avoid baggy cuffs. I didn’t totally succeed, but it turns out that reverse-stockinette is the perfect folding fabric. That is, usually I just push up my sleeves, but it turns out that if I fold these back the purl bumps grip each other quite nicely, so fitted cuffs aren’t such an issue. If I were knit this again (you never know), I would knit the bottom ribbing on a smaller needle too, just to give it a little more structure. Anyway, you see notes and whatnot on Ravelry, here.

I am itching to cast on another sweater, but haven’t yet found the perfect yarn for Epistrophy (I have some swatching to do), so I’ve decided to stick to small projects for the rest of February. I’m trucking along on my Dawlish socks, and I wound some yarn for new mittens, and I could use a new cowl. Basically, before I commit myself to another big project, want to get a revel in finishing some things first. That’s a kind of balance, right?

Baubles

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Remember when I said I wanted to make a bunch of Christmas tree decorations this year, well in advance of actually needing them? Well, I got my act together and I’m doing it! I knit the first one after finishing Bedford, and let me tell you that it is deeply satisfying to finish a small a pretty thing in one sitting after a finishing something that took a month (something that is still awaiting photos — they’re coming, I promise!).

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I used the basic Balls Up! template and the subbed in the chart of tincanknits’ Clayoquot cardigan. The yarn is all leftovers except the white, which is a Tosh Unicorn Tail purchased for this very project (at only 30g, I’m hoping I won’t have any leftovers, though this ornament didn’t use up much). I’m looking forward to playing with different colours and patterns, and using up some of my many, many leftovers. I don’t save everything, but often I finish a pair of socks and there’s 10g or so of the yarn left over, which seems like too much to throw away (and what if I need it for darning!?), so this will be a good way to work through some of that.

I don’t plan to blog every one of these, but I’m going to keep them all as one project on Ravelry, so you can keep up with them here, if you’re so inclined. This one was so quick (just an hour and a half, including fiddling with the chart), so I suspect they’ll become my go-to palate cleanser between biggish projects. Are you intrigued enough to make some along with me?

Buckled down

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Three days ago, I finished Bedford. Less than one month after casting on (though, thanks to a stupid error on my part that required me to rip out three inches, I missed finishing in January. Oh well). I don’t remember the last time I happily worked on a project with that kind of single-minded attention. No deadlines, no pressure, just happy knitting and the knowledge that, at the end, I’d have a cozy sweater. The cold, I suppose, is a powerful motivator. Anyway, it’s done, and I’m not going to say any more about it right now, since I’m still waiting for the chance to get proper photos, at which point it will get its own post.

 

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Okay, not quite true. I will also say this: I think one of the things I liked best about knitting Bedford was that I never felt guilty when I knit on something else. Guilt isn’t a feeling I tend to associate with my knitting, but sometimes when I’m beavering away* on a big project, I feel like it’s all I should be working on, which makes choosing to knit a few rounds on a pair of socks seem like a cop-out. I don’t know why that happens — unrealistic deadline setting, maybe? For Bedford I just wanted it done sometime in January/February, which turned out to be perfect — but it does, can sometimes deter me from casting on a big project (maybe I’m past that now!).

Almost an exact match so far!

Almost an exact match so far!

Anyway, I did sneak in a few rows (and afternoons) with my fun striped socks-of-the-moment, which means they’re pretty close to finished too! Just a few more inches and they’ll be off the needles and on my feet! I can’t wait, to be honest, the colours are fun and there’s just nothing like a fresh pair of socks. I’m particularly thrilled with this yarn (Nomadic Yarns) and am considering ordering a couple more balls (Mantel and Poolside, I’m looking at you…) — once I’ve knit through a little more of my stash, of course.

*This is a hilarious Canadian expression that basically means putting your head down and work hard at a specific task.