A friend, from my first job out of college, sent me these pictures last week. She was going through her “old” knitting stuff and found this gem. The pattern is for a hat, knit flat then seamed up the back. It was a gift for her father.
I have so many memories wrapped into nearly two decades of knitting (and teaching my friends to knit, and designing projects). The two are intertwined to the point where my life and my craft have become one and the same. Knitting on through anguish and joy, grief and happiness, through all the stages of my adulthood. Projects that can transport me to different places and times of my life; seeing life through my own eyes all over again.
The basement yarn store, Rosie’s Yarn Cellar, where I purchased my first yarn and needles- I can feel in my mind walking down the steep stairs and being transported into that new world of knitting. I remember how nervous I was that cold January day, I was afraid the ladies in the shop would laugh at me and how I knew NOTHING about knitting (just that I wanted to learn).
Knitting on the train, the bus, the subway. In Physics lecture. Outside the office of the Geology Department: 4 of us just knitting and laughing and enjoying life. I remember sitting in a cafe reading all afternoon knitting a pair of too chunky cabled mittens with thumbs that look like a closed bud. The feeling of being overwhelmed by all the yarn, people, and scents the first time I attended MD Sheep and Wool.
All the items that I’ve knit for my family, lovingly preserved in photographs.
I’m reminded of friends I’ve made and lost touch with over the years. Knitting groups formed and dissolved and left, the never ending passage of time. With my yarn, my needles, my hook as my constant companion.
I look forward to all the new memories my yarn and I will make in the coming decades.
I’m always thinking about my design work. My current project, my next, the next next, the someday I’ll sit down and figure out how to execute this weird construction project that won’t likely get released for mass consumption project.
This week, I’ve been about super comfy. I since mid-March I have made it a point to get dressed every day. Actual pants that I would wear in public, a real bra, sometimes I even blow dry my hair and/or put on make up. This week, its been a lot of barely-qualifying-as-pants (they have buttons, zippers and pockets) and oversized sweaters and sweatshirts.But the last few days I am beginning to realize, its going to be too warm to wear sweatshirts and my oversized long sleeve sweaters soon.
This got me thinking, what do I need in my closet to continue my almost schlubby fashion aesthetic? What looks like you put thought into your outfit but in reality you just grabbed the comfy thing to throw over your favorite stained tank top? A top: short sleeved, oversized, slightly cropped (to avoid it looking “tent like”), not too heavy, probably not wool, that utilizes yarn I have on hand, and that matches my wardrobe. Yeah, and I want it to work up within 30 hours of work time. Easy, right??
And I think I want to call it” I didn’t want to actually get dressed today, yet here we are”. No. Don’t tell me: the name needs some work. I’ll admit, I’m pretty rubbish at naming my patterns. Its a lot of pressure. I err on the side of absurd in general, so giving my work something vaguely descriptive is my go to. Enter the tremendously original and memorable pattern name Wide Garter Stripe Shawl. I don’t think “Examining Existential Dread #4” has quire the same appeal as the “Bromeliad Cardigan”. You can’t go naming your knit and crochet pieces like some kind of college art class project series. Can you??
Are you enticed by pattern names? Or is it entirely the photography of the project that draws you in?
FINALLY! I published this design. After months agonizing that the formatting and photos were JUST RIGHT, I said “Its time”. Even if the photos aren’t perfect.
About the Design
This year has been dedicated to mindful stash reduction. I have a modest stash, but it overflows the space I have allocated for it. Being an adult, I COULD just allocate more space and let my yarn take over the house like Kudzu. However, my goal for the next decade is to become more minimal in my consumption and accumulation. Its a difficult habit to break.
Part of stash reduction is actually WORKING FROM MY STASH. All of yarns I knit this pattern with were acquired BEFORE 2012. I did a few swatches to find good combinations. I loved the subtle stripes of my large cowl: I started the pattern design back in January. The combination reminded me of the first blooms of spring: something to keep us hopeful through dreary, grey, winter days. The two yarns were perfect together, it was almost as if the yarns were made for each other. As I worked through this first cowl, I thought about how amazing it would look with high contrast. Once I finished the first, the second was cast-on soon after.
The mitered squares are a simple way to take simple stripes and garter to the next level. The construction is simple enough to work through without much thought. Perfect for remote meetings, homeschooling your kids, or binge watching you newest series obsession.
There is an optional border: feel free to omit. My large sample has a border, the small version does not. Both are equally wonderful. Although not included, an i-cord border would look really nice too.
Any fingering weight soft enough to wear next to your face is suitable. Both of my samples are two color, but a single color (fewer ends to weave in!!) or a multitude of colors would also be beautiful. You are only limited by your imagination (or your stash if working from yarns on hand)! Non-wool fibers could be equally suited for this project. I have not knit this in cotton, linen, silk, or acrylic; I suspect they would produce a different look and feel. I would love to see how other fibers work up!
DOWNLOAD THE PATTERN
Its free on Ravelry from April 14, 2020-May 31, 2020 with the code SPRANG Get it HERE! Then share your progress on Instagram using the #springsprangsprung tag. I can’t wait to see what kind of beauties you knit up.
In the last decade, things happen to make me realize I’m the “grown-up” in the room. The Fish is my favorite character in the Cat in the Hat. I don’t get drunk and attempt to climb water towers in the middle of the desert anymore. I have a favorite grocery store. I own multiple pairs of sneakers for SPECIFIC activities and don’t wear them for situations beyond their intended purpose (like I would NEVER wear my lifting sneakers on a bike ride!). Well yesterday, I got a new desk chair delivered. And let me tell you, IT’S REALLY EXCITING.
I’ve been contemplating a new desk chair for months. The chair I had, I never actually liked; it was a gift. It had arms that didn’t fit under my desk. Recently the bonded leather started to separate, in little schmutz all over the floor and my clothes. It was sad looking, and annoying. I hope my cat doesn’t destroy the fabric- literally my only holdout on replacing the chair. Bonus points for it not adding to the messy appearance of my “office” corner.
Don’t get me wrong, I still do things that make me question my ability to function as an adult. Like last night, there was A BUNCH of leftover candy from making up the kids’ Easter baskets. In my infinite wisdom, I ate SO MANY Reese’s’ Pieces Eggs that I’ve had heartburn since LAST NIGHT. Well played universe, well played.
I’ve also made progress on the baby blankets. I finished the body of one this morning (Saturday) and started the second (or ripped out and restarted the original) this afternoon. I’m still on track to make my goal of next weekend completed and delivered!
The striping pattern is somewhat random. Which is a REAL struggle for me. I like pattern, I like predictability. I want things to have a balanced look, but still have a spontaneous feel. Also, I already purchased 2 balls of yarn for the project. I want to maximize the use of the yarn with as few leftovers as possible (I’m sure another blanket is on the horizon to make use of all this yarn). Finished dimensions about 40″ x 40″. The original bobble blanket is being frogged for this current blanket. I like it, but I don’t love it. Its too heavy and between the first set of bobbles and the last I misplaced 8 stitches. So much for being good at crochet! I may attempt a similar pattern in the future, but not striped like this one was.
I’ve been talking about the baby blankets for twins that I’m crocheting for a couple months now. I made the first, a bobbled pattern and was completely underwhelmed with the result. SO much that I haven’t woven in the ends and I was dreading making a second that coordinated. Now I have less than two weeks to deliver the goods to my friend. What does a life long procrastinator do?
If you said learn a new crochet skill, you guessed right. Because nothing says looming deadline like changing course on the project, COMPLETELY, at the last minute.
I’ve been seeing other sing the praises of C2C (corner to corner) crochet for months now. I’ve seen some really beautiful blankets (shout out to the C2C graphgans!!). Yesterday afternoon I popped open Pinterest to look for a picture tutorial. Honestly, I’m not a video skills kind of person- finding a text/photo/chart based tutorial is not always easy. The first tutorial seemed to leave out a pivotal step, and I couldn’t figure out how to start row 2. The second tutorial was from Winding Road Crochet, and was everything I wanted! It had photos, text, charts, and video. It also has LEFT HAND specific video, my lefty pals, no excuses now!
In 24 hours (4 hours of actual work) I completed the first 29 rows. Based on my rough calculations, I will increase until 47-50 rows before I start my decreases.
If I can finish the project by 4/10, I’ll deconstruct the original and make a C2C. I think it will use A LOT less yarn, because I won’t be making 7 (or was it 9) loops for each bobble!
SO, if you’re on the fence about learning the C2C technique- JUST DO IT. Its super easy, and yields a really modern looking finished product. I also highly suggest the tutorial from Winding Road Crochet, she makes the whole process super easy.
I may be one of the few people who feels OVER-SOCIALIZED right now. Quarantine with little kids is intense, they are always where you are and pretty loudly too. 24/7, we are together. I love them. I truly do. But I miss being ALONE. Time when I lift heavy things, or sweat until I’m lobster red. Time when I drink over priced corporate coffee. Time when I don’t have to talk, or listen, or DO anything. Time when I don’t have to be “on”. I’m so fortunate to have a spouse that is willing to absorb some of the emotional work in child rearing right now (and always). He also tries to take them outside daily and give me a few moments alone- and it helps!! But there are some REAL positives to consider. My house hasn’t been this clean since BEFORE kids. I have all the time in the world to complete my tasks; I don’t have to worry that I’ll run out of time before its finished. My house is by no stretch of the imagination spotless, but I have dusted the baseboards on the first floor.
I haven’t had to brain-space this week to tackle anything too cerebral. I’ve been plugging away on a baby blanket. I started another Wide Garter Stripe Shawl the other day. Mostly because I can work on it while I’m supervising my daughter’s home school process. This version is being knit from the balls of Lion Brand Re-Tweed I have. 2 Balls of Slate, then 1 ball each Arctic Ice, Plum Perfect and Dutch Blue. Its going to be significantly larger than the original. I want a huge shawl I can wrap up in blanket style. Once I figure out how much larger 1000 yards will make the shawl, I can update the pattern to share!
I hope to post progress on the baby blankets (all three) because the deadline is in about 3 weeks. My “dresser sock” should be complete this month- I work on it while my spouse reads bedtime stories to the kids. I also have a bunch of patterns that need to be formatted and published. Hopefully I find better ways to manage my design work while the kids are home.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate marketing links. I make a small commission for purchases made from the links contained herein, at no cost to you.
Originally I designed this shawl for a tips and tricks class I taught at my local big-box craft store. It has an optional provisional cast-on, which I thought was important to introduce to my students. The small amount of provisionally cast-on stitches make this a great way to learn a new technique with low stakes. If you don’t want to do the provisional cast-on, feel free to work the regular garter stitch tab. The small resulting seam will be unnoticeable when wearing. The construction is an easy knit for afternoons binge-watching whatever you currently are obsessed with. Adventurous Beginners will be able to tackle this project with ease. If you can count, knit, purl, and yarn-over: you can absolutely work this shawl up. (Feel free to contact me with any questions!)
The Great 2020 Quarantine is giving many of us a unique opportunity to shop our stashes and stash-bust partial skeins. Use any Worsted/Aran/Size 4/Medium Weight yarn you desire or have on hand. This project would be beautiful solid, variegated, color-blocked, or randomly striped! Since this project does not require aggressive blocking to lay flat or to show lace work, any fiber content is suitable. My class samples were both acrylic. I’m currently working on another sample to display for the fall version of this class in a wool blend.
Start with either the provisional garter stitch tab or the regular garter stitch tab. Paired increases on the sides and at the spine give this shawl the triangular shape. Large garter stitch sections make it squishy and allow it lay flat without aggressive blocking.
CH: Chain S1P: Slip one stitch purlwise (with yarn in front) K: Knit P: Purl B/O: Bind-off YO: Yarn Over PM: Place Marker SM: Slip Marker
Tips: The increase rows are the front of the work. The rows with no increases (and the slip stitch center) are the back of the work.
Provisional Cast-On Garter Tab:
Using waste yarn and crochet hook, loosely CH 10. You will only be using the back bump of the center 3 chains. Extra chains are cast on for security.
Using your project yarn, Pick-up and Knit 3 stitches from the back bump of the chain.
Knit 12 rows.
After knitting the 12th row do not turn., rotate your work 90 degrees, along the long side, Pick-up and Knit 5 stitches.
Undo the chain, Pick-up and Knit the 3 stitches from the provisional cast-on. The first provisional stitch you cast on will look a little “weird” when un-zipped. Don’t worry- it works out just fine. You now have 11 stitches total.
If you do not want to to the provisional cast-on this method will yield similar results. The only difference, the garter tab will have a small seam. Which no one will ever notice.
Regular Garter Tab Instructions: Cast-on 3 stitches. Knit 12 rows. DO not turn work. Rotate the work 90 degrees, pick up and knit 5 stitches from the long side (as shown above). Do not turn, Pick-up and knit 3 stitches along the original cast on edge. Continue to the next section and work as written.
You guys. This is huge for me. I finished TWO things within 24 hours (Thursday evening/Friday afternoon). Not just two random things. But TWO PAIRS OF SOCKS. Not the long languishing socks of years past. Socks that were finished in UNDER a month of cast-on. You may say, “But Cinna, LOTS of people finish socks quickly” and “Many knitters finish the projects they start” or “Imagine how fast they could have been done if you weren’t working on 15 projects in the last month”. Yeah, but not me. Not this lady. I have epic cases of 2nd sock syndrome (and start-itus). Last year I finished a pair of socks I started in 2012. This year, I might actually finish a pair of socks I started in 2013 (I had one sock and most of the cuff completed of the 2nd before I tossed them aside).
About the Socks
Thick Boot Socks
Now if you want to get into technicalities, one of the pairs had an unfair advantage. It was knit on size 4 needles with the yarn held double. AND they were for a sock class series I’m teaching. To be honest, the pattern was AWFUL. Since I want my students to be happy with their finished project, I literally re-wrote the pattern from the toe-up. I changed the cast-on, gave expanded stitch count options so the sock would fit an actual adult (instead of a child), re-tooled the short-row heel so it wouldn’t have holes or be too shallow, modified the leg and ribbing ratios (who want to knit 5.5 inches of ribbing, ugh), AND fixed the cast-off (because a regular cast off doesn’t actually work for socks).
About the yarn: Sometime between 2010 and 2014 my spouse purchased two huge balls of sock yarn from a random (not yarn) shop while on a work trip to Germany. I’ve managed to lose the ball bands. Both of them. I know its a wool/nylon blend. I know there’s a bunch of yardage. I made 3 socks from the yarn, and there’s still a bunch left! Yes, 3 socks. The one sock might be ripped out, its absurdly long and narrow. I am using it to illustrate that socks will stretch to accommodate a larger width, given additional length.
Say Yes to Pie Socks
Last month, one of my favorite local dyers (AT Haynes House Yarns) did a Trunk Show at my LYS. I picked up two colors of their awesome sock base: “You Say Yes?” and “Pumpink Vs. Sweet Potato”. I designed a toe-up sock. Which I love. And I was CRAZY EXCITED to finish (because I’ll be releasing the pattern this summer). BUUUUUT, I made them a little long. And didn’t make them with enough negative ease (I like a really snug sock). SO while I could wear them, I wouldn’t be thrilled with them.
There is a silver lining: They are the perfect size for a man’s foot, and the pattern is ABSOLUTELY UNISEX (bonus because now my pattern will accommodate more feet). Spouse doesn’t wear knit socks (they are too warm for him), but his dad has a birthday coming up and has constantly chilly feet since his heart surgery 8 years ago. Now for the bright side, I still have 2 ounces of the purple left!!!!!!! I can RE-SIZE THEM AND KNIT ANOTHER PAIR! In the name of pattern design perfection and testing, of course. I have enough of the orange to make socks on their own too. I’m winning all the way around.
Finishing 3 baby blankets, finishing those socks from 2013, then I can start on a sweater design from the AT Haynes House Worsted base! AHHHH- I’ve got IDEAS. But I REALLY need to finish those blankets in April. Like REALLY REALLY.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate marketing links. I make a small commission (at no cost to you) for purchases made from links contained herein.
The best laid plans of mice and fiber artists.
I had every intention of this post being my victory lap regarding my “Say Yes to Pie” socks. Instead, I’m going to switch it up and give some advice about keeping track of your rows.
Why do I need to keep track of my rows?
Very good question. In some instances, you don’t. If you are making a garter stitch or double crochet scarf and every row is the same, you don’t. All you need is a measuring tape. But are you making a pair of something? How about utilizing a pattern repeat of more than 2 rows? Are you adding shaping? These are all instances where you need to track your rows; where you want precision. You could guess or count from the beginning row every time, but this is not precise of efficient.
I will discuss three of the ways I keep track of my rows; this is not exhaustive simply methods that work best for me.
The Paper Method
Honestly, this is the method I use the most. No tech, no fancy tools. Tremendously portable. Just paper (sometimes the pattern, an index card, or a random scrap of whatever) and a pen (or pencil, marker, crayon). I encounter frequent distraction (I have a kindergartner and a preschooler at home) so I easily lose my place.
I use this method to track my place in a pattern repeat and also for my total number of rows/rounds. I am sure to have clear delineation between the items I’m working on (see below).
Cons: Easy to lose. Easy to forget to mark your place. Your pen cap may come off and leak all over your project (this hasn’t happened to me yet, but I’m aware that it could). If enough time passes, you may forget what your marks mean or which project they are for. I find random slips of paper with row and pattern counts all the time; I have no idea what project they go with.
The Stitch Marker Method
I generally use this for socks without a pattern (plain stockinette, ribbing, 2-row repeats), sleeves (straight OR shaped), shaped waists, armhole shaping, button hole placement. With the “Stitch Marker Method” I prefer to use locking stitch markers. This way they are less likely to become lost. I purchased THESE recently; I am happy to report they are working as intended. If you prefer the non-plastic variety: these are the ones I THOUGHT I was going to order (don’t shop at 11:30 pm is the take away). I have used them in both knit and crochet. Although I do not have any crochet projects utilizing them at the moment.
Currently I have them tracking my total rows for a pair of beginner socks. I use them to mark the beginning of the round, but I place them in row increments of 10. This way I don’t have to guess if my socks have equal rounds: I KNOW. I have 50 rounds from the end of my toe shaping to the short row heel, 26 rounds from above the heel shaping to the ribbing and so far 7 rows of ribbing. The yellow marker denotes the first row of my heel shaping. These are teaching socks, so there is a bit more information to read from them than if I was making these from personal use.
Cons: They are a little obtrusive. If they get caught, the might cause a snag. You need a lot of locking stitch markers available. Solid ring markers are unsuitable for this task.
The Stripes Method
Here is where you allow your striping pattern to make it easy to count your rows. It can be simple or complex, but the end result is an easier to read project (than a solid or varigated). This way you can know at a glance exactly how many rows you have.
Other Methods You Could Use
There are dozens of apps and ingenious row counting devices. Yet I always go back to the ways I find easiest for me. If you have an app you love, or a row counter (like THIS pretty piece) that you can’t live without, keep on using it!
Whats your favorite method for keeping track of your rows?
You guys! I’m SOOO jazzed right now, I couldn’t wait until tomorrow to share my excitement. My “experimental” “Say Yes to Pie” socks are entering the final stage!I added the heel row on the second sock. Only 31 rows to go until I can start the (new-to-me) HEEL!! I’ve opted to complete both heels at the same time.
Other project updates: I finished the crochet portion of the 18×18 pillow cover, and have sewn up 3/4. Will finish tomorrow. I’m considering attaching some fanciness. Stay tuned. I ordered more yarn for the Ranclaw Blanket (Disclaimer, this link is an affiliate marketing link). 3 skeins won’t be enough, but 5 will! I’ve been making some progress on it the last couple days; when I really buckle down, it goes really fast (the yarn and the completion of rows). I’ve lost some steam on the other set of blankets I’m making. I’m not in love with the stitches I’ve chose. Lucky for me, I’m the artist and I can rip it all out and make it BETTER!