Places You Could Knit During 2016

Renaissance Man, Video Girl, Briocheur Extrodinaire, and Personal Hero, Stephen West, is a damn inspiration in terms of places you can knit. Stephen has taught me that A. More is more in terms of accessories. B. Your fridge is acceptable for yarn storage. C. Wool crop tops duh. D. That you can knit literally anywhere. 

Indeed, there were a lot of places you could knit during 2016.

On the couch with a dog.
In a truck at 14,000 feet.
On your lawn.

On a/in a lake

On a dock.
At Horseshoe Bend.
In the desert with your dog and your fella.
In a frenzy, after your country loses its mind.
In a truck camper.
Next to the ocean in Mexico.

I can only hope 2017 will live up to Westknits standands. Stephen, I live to serve. 

What’s Your Magic Number?

Of WIPs, that is. How many works in progress make the stars align, the hummingbirds hum, the atmosphere buzz, and all that? I’m certainly not a monogamous knitter, but I think I’ve got a few too many side chicks at the moment. 

Works in progress

I think my magic number is not a hard and fast rule, but more of a guideline–one of each. One shawl, one pair of socks, one hat, one sweater, one blanket. They each require different skills and attention spans, which seems ideal. 

At the moment, my WIPs are all over the place. I have two pairs of socks, two sweaters, a shawl, and two blankets (which are physically and mentally in storage). This may not seem excessive but it’s too many choices for me. It’s the multiple of each project that’s the issue. I have come to the realization that I need to re-start the sleeves over on my mom’s sweater, but I can happily avoid doing it by knitting on a another sweater. I almost have a pair of socks finished, but I didn’t feel like knitting the heel, so I started knitting another pair of socks and then BAM. I suddenly had two pairs of socks that needed heels knit. Oy. 

Are these dire problems? No, definitely not. But I could do with a little more knitting harmony. 

Better go cast on another shawl. 

Christmas Cables

Along with the yarn for my mother’s sweater, I bought some yarn for a classic Aran sweater at the Southern Adirondack Fiber Fest. Like every other knitter on the planet, I’ve got a slow burn for a heavily cabled, cream colored sweater.

 I’ve had Stonecutter by Michelle Wang in my queue forever, and Snoqualmie (also by Michelle) made it to the top of my queue when it came out. 

Stonecutter sweater
Stonecutter, copyright Brooklyn Tweed
Snoqualmie sweater
Snoqualmie, copyright Brooklyn Tweed

I’ve got a desperate need to make Snoqualmie, but I want to make it in the yarn it’s intended to be made with and it may take me a good decade to be able to buy that much Brooklyn Tweed at once. So on the back burner that one sits. 

The chart for Stonecutter has got to be a work of art in itself, but it’s not really a classic Aran sweater. I would still love to knit it, but my yarn doesn’t seem like a perfect fit. 

Oh yes, the yarn. I was on a wild goose chase for the perfect wooly rustic yarn to knit my sweater with and I found it at the booth of a yarn store in Greenwich, NY –called Yarn (they don’t have a website?). It’s Adirondack DK, grown and spun right in the Adks. So obviously I was pretty smitten with it. Yarn was having a sale on it which was excellent because I watched a sweater’s worth slide in under my budget with the same apprehension that you watched your Aunt Ethel shimmy under the limbo stick at your wedding. Relief all around.

Lots of yarn

So I hunted for a pattern and looked mainly at Brooklyn Tweed, who I’ve been showering with my love and appreciation for years. I found Bronwyn by Melissa Wehrle which is written for worsted weight, but decided to do the math to make it work with my yarn. 

Bronwyn sweater
Bronwyn, copyright Brooklyn Tweed

I typically knit a 34-37 inch bust for myself depending on what I want in fit. the sweater is written for 4 to 5 inches of ease for an oversized fit. I was having a hard time choosing between 37.75 and 40.5 for a size and decided to swatch. I started with one needle size down because of my yarn weight and didn’t love the cables, so I sized down another needle and the fabric was perfect, but the gauge was way off. I decided to use those Math Skills I taught the Youth of America and found that if I knit the 44.5 inch size, I would end up with a sweater between the 37 and the 40 inch sizes.

Since that sounded too good to be true I knit a sleeve as a test for my theory and holy smokes it worked! I’m casting on for the body today. I don’t think Christmas knitting can get any more perfect than white cables, do you? 

Sloped Bind Off

While binding off the shoulders for The Sweater, I remembered the sloped bind off that was included in a Brooklyn Tweed pattern somewhere. Fort maybe? It’s a bind off that makes a more subtle cast off line when you’re casting off something in increments (like a sleeve). A regular cast off has you cast off x number of stitches, knit to the end, turn and knit the wrong side, turn, then bind off y number of stitches. The sloped bind off is essentially the same, but with one difference. Here’s an example.

Standard Bind Off

Row 1 (rs): Bind off first 4 stitches, knit to end

2 (ws): Knit to end

3 (rs): Bind off first 4 stitches, knit to end.

Which looks like this:


Sloped Bind Off

Row 1 (rs): Bind off 4 stitches, knit to end

2 (ws): knit to 1 stitch before end, turn work (leaving 1 stitch on needle)

3 (rs): Bind off 4, using the stitch that remains on the right hand needle to bind off the next stitch (ex: k 1, pass remaining stitch over the stitch just knit), knit to end.

Which looks like this:

 Since this area will most likely be seamed it may not make much of a difference in the finished sweater but I think it definitely creates a more polished finish.

Sweater Update/Sleeve Rant

I have made quite a bit of progress on The Sweater. During the last few weeks, I finished the front and back, and am trudging along on a sleeve right now. In my sleeve cast on frenzy, I forgot that sleeves are easy to knit two at a time. I don’t enjoy knitting socks that way, but sleeves are decidedly less fussy than socks, especially when they’re knit flat. But I forgot. I’m one-sleeving it for the time being and willing it to grow faster than fingering weight garter stitch apparently wants to grow. I cast on for another sweater while I was still in New York, and began with the sleeve. I’m thinking that finishing the sleeves first on that one will be a good move for my overall morale. What is it about sleeves that invokes such quiet rage?

While casting on the back, I realized I’ve only knit a few other sweaters in pieces. You would think my aversion to sleeves would correspond with a hatred for seaming, but for some reason I seem (ha) to enjoy it. In a totally garter stitch sweater, I think seams are a smart bet to maintain its overall structure. I am oddly eager to sew this whole thing up.

I have made one boo boo (that I know of) so far, and I’m waiting to see if it actually needs to be fixed before I rip it out. Jut as I was finishing the front I realized I misunderstood the armpit shaping and decreased in the wrong spot, which made a more gradual slope than it should be. It’s unclear right now if there will be added bulk at the armpit as a result. Once I finish the sleeves and begin to assemble it I should be able to see whether or not I need to knit that spot again.

If you need me, I’ll be swearing at some sleeves.



27 Lessons

Today is my 27th birthday! I thought I would celebrate with 27 things I’ve learned so far.

  1. Always be polite.
  2. Snow tires are important.
  3. Lock the door to your dorm room.
  4. Speak up when you think something is unjust.
  5. The nasty food left in the sink drain doesn’t just disappear.
  6. Keeping in touch with people is tough but important.
  7. Rafts and knees don’t like to be bonked together.
  8. Neither do rafts and most things (i.e. rocks, bridge abutments, other rafts, etc).
  9. Knitting needles should not be sat on.
  10. Kids and teens are way more perceptive than they get credit for.
  11. Teaching 3 year olds how to ski is not that fun.
  12. Math is not the villain it’s made out to be.
  13. Exercise really does make you feel better.
  14. Flavored vodka should be avoided.
  15. Raising a puppy is super duper hard.
  16. Mascara doesn’t go on eyebrows.
  17. Cars really do run out of gas.
  18. It snows in the Grand Canyon.
  19. Stepping outside your comfort zone will enrich your life.
  20. People will generally listen to you if there’s enough rage or fear in your voice.
  21. Do the things you like even if they’re embarrassing.
  22. It’s OK to read the same books over and over.
  23. Stopping on ice skates is tricky business.
  24. People are more than they seem.
  25. Having fun is wildly important.
  26. The people in your life are valuable.
  27. Don’t buy fish on sale.