My Knitting Life

Poems and Puzzles Dress

It’s been cold and rainy here in the valleys of the mountain west, while a few thousand feet above us in elevation ski resorts have had a banner year of snow, a whopping 700+ inches!!! We did have one warm spell, and my feet were hopeful that winter was over because they were clad in sandals. During those few warm days, I was knitting a summer sweater.

But the cold has settled in again and I’ve changed back to winter knitting. I’m knitting a dress, something I haven’t done in a LONG time! When I lived overseas in a house that was very chilly, I knitted a bulky dress. This time I’m knitting a fingering weight dress which, of course, is taking much longer, but it is keeping me warm as it gets longer and the cold sticks around.

This dress pattern is from Justyna Lorkowska called Hanke dress. It’s an above the knee dress in fingering weight yarn. Fingering weight and dress = a ton of knitting. At least I can read and binge watch something while I’m working on this dress.

The yarn is called Poems Puzzle by Wisdom Yarns. WAIT! That’s a super-bulky yarn! Yes, it’s a chain yarn and the suggested needle size is from 11 up to 50. What gives? Well…

I bought a batch of Poems Puzzle yarn on eBay along with a Vogue Knitting magazine containing a cowl pattern using 4 skeins of the yarn. BUT, the cowl was to be sewn, not knitted together. Uh, no.

So I stared at the yarn and then decided to unravel it. To my surprise, each skein of the Puzzle yarn became 200 grams of Wisdom’s Poems Sock yarn…over 800 yards. With 4 skeins of the Puzzle yarn, I figure I’ve got 3200 yards of yarn! That’s how I settled on a dress.

My hope is to get the body of the dress finished before the warm weather sets in (3 days away!) and I still have about 9 inches to knit. I’ll give it my best shot, especially since school is winding down and after-school meetings are at a minimum.

Burning question: is this my favorite yarn? No, not by a long shot. But it’s what I had and I think this will be a colorful way to celebrate the dead of winter.

My Knitting Life

When a knitter dies…

This post is a tribute to my knitting friend, Jackie, who died at the end of March. I only saw her a handful of times over the last few years since we now live far apart. But once we were close. We taught in the same building, and she was my mentor teacher when I was becoming a licensed teacher. Strange, isn’t it, that someone put us together to be mentor/mentee. I guess we were meant to find each other in the knitting world.

Now her needles are still and silent. There will be no more felted slippers for friends, no more newborn projects for great nieces and nephews, hats for her husband, socks for her son. I am unraveled at the thought of the end of my friend. No more purls; no more stitches.

Sadness

My Knitting Life

Fast and Easy Blocking

I need to finish this project in a hurry, but it is in serious need of blocking. Here’s a trick I do whenever I don’t want to plunge my project pieces into water and wait 36 hours for them to dry.

Put a towel (or two) on the floor, smooth it out, and then pin your pieces out to the dimensions listed in the pattern. Pin, pin, pin. (I was seriously hoping the squares on the towel were 1″ square, but that would have been too easy!)

Take a spray bottle and mist the pieces to your satisfaction. It’s not necessary to soak them, but they should be something between slightly wet and fairly wet. (Sorry, describing degrees of wetness is not my forte!)

I pinned and misted these around 4:30pm this afternoon, and hope to be able to sew the seams and do the finishing starting tonight or early tomorrow morning. What pattern is this, you ask? It’s Lexie (link takes you to Ravelry) by Elsebeth Lavold. If you like this yarn, you can buy it here: Quixotic Fiber You need 3 or 4 skeins depending on the size. I’m sure this LYS would appreciate your business!

My Knitting Life

Bang Out a Sweater Finished—for now

My February Bang Out a Sweater came to a screeching halt when I ran out of yarn. New (and different) yarn came, and it is slightly more yellow than the original yarn. Mind you, it’s a different kind of yarn. But since I’m joining the new yarn slightly before the outward turn of the turtleneck, and since the turtleneck is a ribbing with the sweater body being stockinette stitch, the difference in color is not noticeable, even to me. Well, maybe I can see it a little bit.

Sweater Problems

Mind you (again) that I am a little more than ticked at Dale of Norway (Dalegarn) for no longer distributing their most excellent yarn here in North America. Add to this the fact that the pattern is a little wonky, the knitting of this sweater was a trial. The sleeves are set in with a sleeve cap (think of a sewing pattern on a shirt with a large and curvy part on top), and the shoulders of the sweater came out super-wide. SO, when I sewed in the sleeve, the whole area looked like a mistake at best, or something one would wear with football shoulder pads underneath.

My knee-jerk reaction was to throw everything away. BUT…I let the sweater sit for a week, and while I thought of some options. Here’s what I came up with:

Option 1

Sew the sleeve deep into the shoulder where a set-in-sleeve usually sits (ahem, pattern writers and editors). This would bury that extra drop-sleeve fabric. Then I could cut that part off (HEAVEN FORBID!!!) and reinforce the seam with my sewing machine. I’ve steeked and cut and sewn before, but I wasn’t willing to cut this sweater. My fear was that the seam would pucker and ripple, and then I really would have donated it to a thrift store!

Option 2

Ignore the issue and join a ladies football team and hope their uniforms have eight-point Norwegian stars on them.

Option 3 (the option I chose)

Treat that extra-wide shoulder as a modified drop shoulder, measure how long the sleeve should be, and unravel the sleeve cap until the sleeve made a modified cap. That means I took off about 5+” of the sleeve cap making the shape of the top of the sleeve look like a very shallow bell curve.

It worked! I ironed the devil out of the sleeve seam (using a damp washcloth and “wool” setting on the iron) to help it lay flat. While I had the iron out, I also flattened the duplicate stitch with the iron and the damp washcloth. All of this happened Monday and Tuesday evenings since it’s already mid-March and Wednesday was slated to be snowy, perhaps our last snowy day for the year, perhaps my last chance until next winter to wear this!

The “For Now” Part

It’s finished…for now.

Because if I ever see two skeins of Dale of Norway Falk Color 0020 (any dye-lot) for sale, either on eBay or Ravelry, I’m snatching it up and re-working that turtleneck, all in one color, and on one size smaller needles (US 3).

The sweater looks retro, like something that a skiing grandma would have kept in her cedar chest. It’s slightly yellowed and aged looking because of the yarn color which is perfectly suited to the design and my modifications.

DONE! (For now)

My Knitting Life

Tragedy and Resolution

1/2 Turtleneck to go!

With half a turtleneck to knit, I ran out of yarn! I just have a few more grams of yarn and not enough to knit the rest of the turtleneck. That’s a tragedy! I’m using Dale of Norway Falk yarn (superwash sport weight), and Dale decided last year to stop distributing to the North American market. That is more tragedy because this is one of my favorite yarns to use. It is warm, looks great in stranded knitting, and wears like iron. It never pills, even after years of use. Please comment below if you have a great replacement for this yarn!

A possible resolution, however, is that I ordered another ball of a similar yarn (Dale or Norway Heilo–its hand-wash counterpart) in the same color. My thought is to use this different yarn right where the turtleneck turns, hoping that it won’t be noticeable. In the meantime, anybody got a ball of Dale of Norway Falk in color 0020? I’d be happy to buy it or trade something, not my firstborn, or anything like that, but something to make it worth your while! It looks like my Bang Out a Sweater for February will be on hold for a week or so.

That’s all the yarn I have left…sweater sadness!
My Knitting Life

Two things…new things

I want red socks. That’s one thing. Every time I go to my handknit sock basket, I notice that I don’t have any red socks. And I need some. Desperately.

Another thing: I wanted to try the FlexiFlips double pointed, needles so I ordered some.

I started knitting on the size 3.00mm (US Size 2) using Heritage Sock yarn (a personal favorite for plain colored socks), but that yarn was too thin on this size needle, and the fabric was fairly floppy (alliteration intended). Then I remembered that Patons Kroy seems to be a thicker yarn, slightly heavier than fingering, but maybe not quite a sportweight. So, yeah, I ordered some of that too. It’s really working well with these needles!

Therefore, this February, in addition to banging out a sweater (maybe more on that next week), I am knitting red socks (Thing 1) on my new FlexiFlips needles (Thing 2).

The pattern I’m using is Octoberfest Socken by Susan Dittrich. Check it out on Ravelry…for free!

Free Knitting Patterns · Home Projects Patterns · My Knitting Life

Diminutive Placemats

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New kitchen needs new placemats. But any placemats that I own are so large that I can’t fit 4 of them on our table or kitchen island without overlapping. So I went shopping for placemats, but they’re all HUGE! And I couldn’t find any that I liked. Additionally, they’re all pretty expensive (times four)!

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In an attempt to solve this problem, and since I like the stuff that I make, I thought I would knit some smaller placemats. They’re 12″ x 16″ (as opposed to the usual 14″ x 20″). I have one placemat finished and three to go. I used Lily’s Cream ‘N Sugar yarn in Earth Ombre colorway. They’re machine washable too, unlike many I saw at the store. I like the ikat looking print that the variegated yarn automatically made.

Here’s the pattern for you!

Diminutive Placemats

Knitting Patterns For Sale · My Knitting Life

Goodbye Sandals

It’s that time of year already. It’s time to put the sandals away and start wearing socks again. Because of this, and because I had quite a few skeins of Cascade’s Fixation yarn, I created a pattern for anklets. Choose between striped or one-color socks! You’ll love how they hit right at the top of your shoes! Check out the photo:


What IS IT about stripes? They make my eyes happy and my feet are happier. Here’s the link if you want to buy the pattern:

http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/goodbye-sandals

It’s only $1.00 so give it a try. It has complete sock knitting instructions to help you through the more difficult parts.

Free Knitting Patterns · My Knitting Life

Deep Winter Knitting at Summer Solstice

I’m currently pretending it is winter and that I don’t live in an arid and hot part of the U.S. I bought this yarn a few weeks ago. It’s “vintage” which means it came from a thrift store. In my defense, when I see 15 skeins of ecru bulky wool for $15, I feel like I need to get my knitting needles clacking and knit something fabulous.

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So I made a muse n. (click for link to free pattern!) shrug by Isabell Kraemer and gifted it to my dear daughter. This looks like a manta ray, but it’s pretty cute when on, and certainly it’s going to be a warm sweater!

My Knitting Life

End of an Era (or, It’s Not Done Until You’ve Blogged About it)

Blanket on chair

Here I present the end of an era. It’s the end because I started this leftover sock yarn blanket in the fall of 2008. After almost 9 years, a lot of changes have happened. It’s inevitable. The kids grew up, we moved almost across the country, went from a house to a condo, and now we own e-bikes, for crying out loud! Change happens! It is time to knit other things. Or, finish other things, because of the way my year went, with teaching almost a full schedule at school, and then throwing teaching 3 graduate classes for SLC teachers on top of that! I have about 5 projects that are mostly finished, but need a little more attention.
Back to this blanket-afghan-throw thingie. I wasn’t sure how big I was going to make it; I was just enjoying the process. But 8.5 years later, I’ve decided to finish. And by finish, I mean, squaring it off, not adding any height or width to it, and most importantly, edging it in i-cord! The edging, you see, is like a stopper; it prevents me from adding more rows. Smart, huh? Done.

Blanket on wall

But at the end of this crazy-sock- leftovers-turned-into-a-blanket era, I have a crazy urge to come up with something else “scrappy” because I’ve still got a small tub of sock-yarn leftovers. Maybe in a year I will have a new pattern to show.
I briefly entertained the idea of putting this on Etsy for a ridiculous sum of money. I was thinking something over $2500, just to see if anyone would “bite.” But that’s cheap. Way too cheap. I calculated my labor at $10/hr (hey, I’m a skilled knitter!), 30 minutes per block which takes into account tucking in loose ends and knitting the i-cord edging. So, with 380 blocks @ 30 minutes per block, that’s 190 hours. Multiply that by the $10 per hour, and the labor cost on this blanket is around $1900.  That doesn’t include the yarn. And it takes a lot of sock knitting to accumulate a great variety of yarn. (That was my excuse, anyway). So, the next time someone knits something for you, they don’t do it to save money or time. They do it because they LOVE you!

For now I’ll just sit on my balcony on cool mornings and enjoy the warmth of this throw.