Tag Archives: plea for help

The never ending tea cozy


Standard Holiday Warning: If you are a member of my family, I love you, but if you read any further do so knowing that you will ruin Christmas.

Yesterday, I finished the tea cozy. Or, I at least bound-off, but in this case that isn’t really finishing. First of all, I don’t like how it looks, so I’m going to have to rip it out anyway, which is annoying, but should be worth it in the end. Secondly, this thing is going to be lined, which will give it both structure and warmth, and that still needs to be done. Honestly, this tea cozy is never ending. (As before, photos at the bottom.)

I have a plan, though. When I bound off the first time, I used a three-needle bind-off and, honestly, I don’t know what I was thinking. I hate the ridge; I knew I would hate the ridge; I did it anyway. Stupid. So, I’m going to rip it out. I’m also going to take about a half-inch off the top (if you’re ripping, why not go big, right?) and try something else. I think this might be a little crazy, but I’m going to try shaping the top of this tea cozy the same way Elizabeth Zimmerman shaped the bottom of her moccasin socks. I know.


The thing is, I don’t want a rounded, almost-pointy top. I want to decrease to a point, and then have a sort of smooth flat-ish top (it sounds better in my head). The only trouble with that is how to shape it. I don’t want a rectangle – which I have now – so I’m casting about for ways to make it rounder – any ideas? I came up with the moccasin sock idea because (and I’m little embarrassed, so don’t judge) I was looking for a post-Christmas knitting project. I need a carrot to finish in time (or even early) and I like knitting socks for myself over the holidays, so I was planning. It’s just a little motivational push, and I think that’s mostly okay since it isn’t like I’m casting on or anything*.

Okay, that sad little admission out there and I’m going back to the tea cozy. And also the foot tubes, which are zipping along – I figured I needed to knit two inches a day to be done on time, and so far that has been entirely manageable. If I can get this tea cozy under control I might even cast on mittens today.


*I’m not casting on, but I am thinking about it a lot. I’m thinking I’ll either knit Monkeys in a red skein of indigodragonfly I have in my stash, or a pair of these in a green skein of SweetGeorgia’s Tough Love Sock (kind of similar, I know). What do you think?

In a tight spot


You know that moment in knitting when you realize something is wrong, and you get annoyed, and then you realize that to fix it will require drastic measures and you get really annoyed? That’s where I am. And, I’m sorry to say, it’s with the mittens.

I still love these mittens. I love their colourwork, and their dotted border, and the way the design combines both geometrics and floral elements. I love all those things. What I don’t love is that they are going to be an inch too short. Yes, you read that right. Last night, I started the decreases for the lovely pointy top these mittens are destined to have, and then I thought I should measure. As they stand now, before decreases, the length of the hand is 5 inches. I need it to be 7 inches. It seemed unlikely I’d be decreasing for 2 inches, but I thought, you know, maybe? So I counted by row gauge (something I obviously should have done sooner) and discovered that I’m getting about 10 rows to an inch. Fine. Then I counted the number of rows left in the charted pattern: 14 – so, approximately 1.5 inches. That leaves me a half inch short, and that’s just enough to be uncomfortable.

If these were normal mittens, I would just slow down the decreases, but I’m not sure that approach will work here, since it’s so neatly charted.

This means, if I go the slower-decreases route, that I will have to rechart the friggin’ thing.

Then it occurred to me, though, that this pattern offers gauges for both men and women. I’m doing the women’s version (tighter gauge), but even with a bigger gauge, men’s hands are much larger, so I thought maybe the pattern had directions to take that into account. Er, not really. This is the advice: “Continue in charted pattern to top of mitten. The length of the mitten can be adjusted for either a woman’s or man’s size. Have the person who will wear the mitten try it on to make sure it fits.” Less than helpful, right? I mean, it doesn’t say where I should go about adding length, although clearly I should have paid more attention to this issue to begin with.

So, this still leaves me with a problem. I need to, somehow, add an additional five or six rows to this mitten. If this had occurred to me at the beginning (why didn’t it occur to me!?) I would have added five rows to the bottom, right after the ribbing. This is half the hight of one repeat of the palm pattern, and would have blended easily enough into the front. But, I really, really don’t want to rip this all the way back, which is, I suppose, Option 1.

Option 2 is to try recharting the top so that I decrease on every-other round for five or six rounds (which ever works out better in the chart) and hope it doesn’t look stupid on the front. If possible, I’d like to maintain how tidy the pal looks, with the tip of the diamond in the tip of the hand, but maybe that’s not possible? (I will try very hard; these are a gift, after all).

Option 3, is a sort of compromise: Rip back to the top of the first flower, add two more “empty” rows between them, knit back up to the top, decrease slightly slower, hope that buys me enough space.

What do you think?

**Edited to add: Independent of this post, L just called to suggest Option 3. Apparently my dilemma has been weighing on his mind too!**

– – –

Now, a note on something about these mittens that is going well (if you still trust my judgement after this). After the last post, Anastasia asked if I had any tips on maintaining tension. I read up on this quite a bit before I started knitting these. One great resource was Knitting With Two Colours by Meg Swansen and Amy Detjen, especially the part about yarn dominance.

In my past forays with stranded colourwork, I didn’t think it mattered which colour was held below and which was held above, so I switched it up. Turns out that’s not such a good idea. Especially if you’re holding your yarn in two hands, it’s important to maintain the order. For me, that means grey is always in my left hand (making it the dominant, popping colour) and the purple is always in my right hand.

The other thing I noticed was that I had to be really careful about tugging my yarn. I’m used to knitting English, which is tighter than continental. That means, I’m always tempted to pull my purple sections tighter than I can knit my grey ones. For me to achieve a more or less even tension, I’ve had to let the purple loosen up a bit. I also make sure to pull out my floats a little bit, keeping them looser than I think they should be, just so they don’t pull the fabric in.

Anastasia, does that make sense? As far as rhythm goes, you’ll get it after a few rows. The nice thing about stranded colourwork is that even if your fabric is a little less tight than usual, it’s double-thick, so it’s still warm and opaque.



It’s fall. Even though it has been a few years, fall always feels like the start of a new year and, thanks to years and years of back-to-school shopping, it also feels like time to overhaul my wardrobe. Not that anything much changes, but it is one of the few times of year I don’t feel guilty spending some money on new clothes.

As a knitter, fall is also the time of year when my needles start to get itchy. Suddenly, a million projects flood my imagination and it seems I can’t cast on quickly enough. Usually, that’s no problem, but this year, I can’t quite seem to find my groove. Partly this is because my knitting for the shop has taken up time that would otherwise be used for personal knitting. Partly it’s also because I stil haven’t cast on the wedding mittens I swatched for weeks ago, and I’m feeling a little guilty about that. Mostly, though, I think it’s because I can’t find the perfect project for the yarn I want to use.

These two skeins come in at about 710 yards, which should be almost enough to knit whatever I want.

The more I look at the Fleece Artist Earth, the more I want it snuggled up around my neck. I thought for a while it could be socks. But no. I want it to be a shawl or scarf or cowl. And honestly, I want it yesterday. I wear a ton of blue, and the browns and greens and almost-purples that ripple through this colourway are made for my wardrobe. Plus, how perfectly fall is that colourway?

The trouble, though, is that I can’t find the perfect something, and I’m in too much of a hurry to design something myself (although I do sometimes lie in bed at night envisioning what I will do with this yarn if something better doesn’t come along.)

What I’m saying is: I need help. I need help picking a pattern, because I really want need to cast this on soon. I can’t believe how antsy it’s making me. Usually, I am a pro at waiting for things, and delaying my satisfaction, but not this time. (I suspect this is due both to the cooling temperatures and the fact that working in a yarn shop and wearing my knitwear all the time have combined to make me crazy.)

So, here’s what I’m looking for: Something with some interest (lace, eyelets, slipped stitches, whatever) but that won’t demand my full attention for the entire time I’m knitting. It also needs to work with a very variegated yarn, so lacy-lacy is out – I’m thinking something with a stockinette or garter middle, and fancy edges. I would also like it to be long enough to wear as a scarf/kerchief under a jacket. I don’t really think this is too much to ask.

Anyway, here’s what I’ve narrowed it down to:

  • Of the Moon – has potential because the samples are all knit in variegated yarns, and it’s customizable in size, but the font of the pattern is crazy annoying to read.
  • Damson – I suspect this would work, but I also wonder if I should maybe save this for the purple Handmaiden Casbah that I bought. Tricky.
  • Shark Tooth – I like the body of this shawl, but not the titular teeth along the top edge. Maybe I can work a little modification in there?
  • Multnomah – Simple, basic, with a feather and fan lace edge. I’ve come back to this one several times, but I’m still not sure.
  • Simple Things – I like this, but it’s also very similar to Doublish, and I’d like a little variation in my wardrobe. Also, I have two skeins of the Fleece Artist, so I feel I should save this for something pretty that I only have one skein of
  • Surprise entry: Woodstack – yes, it’s a cowl, but it sits more or less the way I like my shawls to sit, and knitting with the Fleece Artist held double would solve any skein matching issues. I am almost prepared to give up my shawl dream for this. Almost.

Okay, there’s my list. What do you think? Have you knit any of these? Do you have a pattern that’s perfect for variegated fingering-weight yarn? Help an antsy knitter out.