I used to knit A LOT. Every day. I had projects with me at school, at work, getting my oil changed, sitting in church, in the evening, etc. But my hands and wrists started to protest, so I slowly transitioned away towards other things. Also, I got bored. I felt bad for not wanting to do it anymore.
In the last two years, since opening the Shop, I’ve come back to knitting. Not just that, but I’ve been exploring crochet much more too. And I’m loving it again! My latest FOs have been more for my own enjoyment and curiosity. My new favorite yarn is ENID, the DK weight Blue-Faced Leicester that I’ve been dyeing. I’ve made three shawls and a hat so far.
Thanks to Instagram, I am now documenting everything down to the last insignificant moment of my day. I baked muffins? Photo! New shoes? Photo! Cute kitty pose? Photo! Project in the house? Photo! Spinning yarn? Photo! It may get a little dull sometimes, but the up side is that when I am in the midst of a knitting project, there are many more process shots.
I finally finished the Age of Brass & Steam Kerchief using approximately 250 yards of handspun Shetland wool and size 8 needles. For each section I used a different color of yarn. The pattern was so easy and quick. Although my measurements didn’t come out quite as the pattern suggested, it’s much wider than any other shawl/kerchief I’ve made. I didn’t make any adjustments, just followed the instructions as is.
Contrary to popular belief, every now and then I make something that isn’t fingerless mittens. Sometimes I make hats! Actually, I do that rather frequently since they are also small, quick projects. In December I started a hat using a pattern by Lee Meredith called Scant. It is worked top-down without swatching, so I thought it would be perfect for my handspun!
I finished it in two days. Unfortunately, my measuring skills are not so great and it ended up too big at the brim. After having the recipient try it on, we decided I would pull out the ribbing and decrease a few rounds to bring it in. In fact, it was really easy to adjust since it was knit top-down.
I decreased a total of 12 stitches over three rounds and used a smaller needle to get the ribbing even tighter. Once I reworked it, it fit great. I think there is more volume in my hat than was originally expected according to the pattern, but the new owner of this hat is very happy with it. I love the way the colors came out. I definitely will use this pattern again!
Today I went through my Flickr photos and Ravelry projects to see just how many different styles of fingerless mittens I’ve made over the years. The two basic styles are those with thumb gussets and those without. I always get the question, “Which is warmer?” And on the surface the answer would be the one with the thumb since more of your fingers are covered. However, I use lots of different fibers and weights of yarn, so it isn’t always that simple. I knit both kinds because it makes things more interesting for me. That’s important too.
I started knitting fingerless mittens to sell in 2006. Honestly, I am not entirely sure how many pairs I have made since then, but it’s easily over 100. Initially I used handdyed commercial yarn, but eventually I transitioned into primarily handspun with a bit of recycled yarn here and there.
Recently I’ve begun to consider writing down some of the patterns I created during this endeavor. None of the mittens are a groundbreaking revision of the standard mitten. They are basically standard mittens with colorwork or an interesting stitch pattern. In fact, most of them have probably been done by someone else already, but since I don’t look at patterns much, I wouldn’t know.
It also occurred to me that I could use the same pattern multiple times. I have this habit of not wanting to repeat things. The same goes for recipes (which makes no sense). But if I used the same patterns with different yarns, oh! my life would be so much simpler. So, in order to practice pattern writing and preserve my remaining sanity, I’m going to try to document the patterns as I make them. We’ll see how that goes.
In my enthusiasm, I actually wrote down my latest pattern. It should be ready for public consumption in the next week. I just need to get some decent photos taken and add a few more details to the notes and it will be ready! Dying to see it, aren’t you?
Look! I still knit sometimes. And not only that, but the green yarn was spun from a batt I carded using my new Strauch drumcarder. It was the first time I went from beginning to end with a batt: carding – spinning – knitting. So exciting! It’s mostly wool, but there’s a bit of mohair, silk, and firestar in there for a bit of spice. I used moss stitch for the body of these mittens with a ribbing of handspun natural wool at the cuffs. Quick and easy.
I am calling these my “Anti-SAD Socks”. They are banishing Seasonal Affective Disorder quite efficiently. Between the cheerful, sunny colors and the fact that I completed them in under a week, it’s hard not to get excited. If you come over to the house I might even throw them in your face (sorry, Rich).
They were finished yesterday afternoon while the Steelers were beating the Browns, and I was sitting alone in my office at the back of the house enjoying some music. I followed April’s instructions on the heel, plus I watched a Cat Bordhi video that she suggested and everything went just fine. I skipped the part where you put in a lifeline and simply picked up the stitches with my DPN. But I left the four stitches on the needles at the corners as suggested and I had no gapping! They are spectacular and I couldn’t be happier.
Even before I got to the heels, I was nervous because I hadn’t done Kitchener stitch in ages. However, I did it five times with no problems. That’s two heels, two toes, and one toe re-do. So maybe seven years of knitting has finally paid off. Maybe I’m finally getting the hang of this stuff. Maybe I’m getting to the point where I don’t have struggle with every little thing. What a concept.
And I’m not kidding when I say this is my first completed pair of socks since 2008 and I only have two others to my name.
My mother volunteers for an organization called Cats are People, Too! here in Ohio. Each year they hold a fundraising event called the Spay-ghetti Dinner where they have many gift baskets to raffle off in addition to the meal. You can read more about the event at their blog.
This year my mom asked for one of my tea cozies to put in her basket. She selected her favorite pot from my collection and I got to work. The one she chose was an odd shape with a squat body and a flat top, so I had a few different ideas. Of course it ended up nothing like my original vision. I started with ribbing to keep the fabric tight against the curve of the pot. For the body I used a stitch pattern called woven stitch. At the top the pot was totally flat with a rim at least an inch wide, so I had to change the angle of the fabric fast. I decreased and changed over to reverse stockinette stitch. After I finished the knitting, I went back and added a little embroidery stitch in yellow and used that yarn for the button loops. The purple, yellow, and blue-green were inspired by the original colors on the pot itself.
And for cat lovers, here is Olive in her relocated basket. She will sit in it now that it resides in front of the window.
Yesterday I discovered a new spot for taking photos. It’s on the same side of the house — the south side — but the window is a little farther down. It all started with my cat wanting to sit by the window, but not wanting to sit or stand on the crates. I put her basket by the window and she finally sat in it, but she would stretch all the way across the crate to reach the basket. Later in the day I took a leaf out of the dining room table. While I was looking for a place to stash it, I realized it fit perfectly across the top of the crates. Now the cat can get to her basket and her fur won’t fall through the holes onto my yarn. But then I wanted to take a few quick photos while I was in the wool room, so I cleared a spot by the window. At first I thought the wood would be junky looking, but I think it works. And the light isn’t bad there either. Of course, it all hinges on getting it at the perfect time of day and hoping the sun is out. But I was pretty excited to find a new photo spot! I’ll have to experiment and see how the hour effects the light.
The one on the left was taken in the new spot and the one on the right is at the previous spot. Which do you like better?
Question: What is your photo taking process? Do you have a special spot you go to for pictures? Do you always try to use natural light? Do you adjust the pictures on the computer afterwards or do adjustments with the camera?
A few years ago I realized three things. 1) I have a lot of tiny balls of handspun yarn. 2) I have lots of neat old buttons. 3) I need to sell something cheaper than a pair of mitts. And that is when I started to crochet ‘snuggly cuffs’.
They were super easy to do and used very small amounts of yarn. Well, recently someone pointed out to me just how easy they are to make, and while I found that comment irritating, I realized he was right. Sure you need to do something that is easy for you, but you don’t want it to look easy. So instead of just griping about it, I decided to take a different approach. I got out my stitch dictionary and reconsidered some of those interesting patterns I’d always wanted to try.
Before I knew it I had a fun little assortment — cables, lace, seed stitch. Last year’s new tiny item was the wristler, so maybe this year I’ll have ‘sassy cuffs’! I’ve found that it’s similar to doing a neckwarmer except that it is so much smaller and quicker. Plus it’s giving me a chance to test out some stitch patterns that I’ve wanted to use in mitts, but couldn’t be bothered to swatch. Win win win!
This week has been about rediscovering lost things while I cleaned and organized the wool room. And perhaps in the spirit of renewal, I have been inspired to wrap up other wayward projects too. For months and months I’ve been staring at a bobbin of yarn, thinking about my original intentions, and trying to decide whether to carry on or change. Do I continue with my plan of spinning two separate bobbins and plying them together? That would be essentially impossible since I could never get the second single to match the first, not to mention the one would be freshly spun and the other months old. And of course the bobbin has been out of commission the entire time. I finally decided to do a navajo-ply with the yarn already spun and just deal with the remaining fiber in another way later. It felt strangely satisfying to liberate that bobbin. It is no longer being strangled by that menacing yarn. I just hated to think about spinning the other half of the project, which is probably why I put it off for so long. It was not a pleasant experience. But now I no longer have the wait of it hanging on my mind.
Question: How do you deal with old, half finished projects? Do you try to complete it as you originally envisioned it, change course, or frog the whole thing? When you have UFOs sitting around, do they weigh on your mind?