book review | seamless knit sweaters in 2 weeks by Marie Greene

Last week, my friend Jen of Webster Street Knittery (websterstreetknittery on Instagram) posted about her friend Marie Greene of Olive Knits’ (oliveknits) new book, Seamless Knit Sweaters in 2 Weeks. I was struck by the beautiful image of Marie in a mustard cardigan and I thought, “if that pattern is in the book, I have to have it.” A few clicks later, my order was confirmed on Amazon. A few days after that, the book was on my doorstep! I’ve never written a book review, but thought it might be time to start. So here goes nothing!

First off, my copy cost me $14.57 USD on Amazon (aff. link) before tax and with free shipping thanks to Amazon Prime. That’s an absolute steal for 20 sweater patterns, which can easily cost upwards of $6 each. Granted, I wouldn’t likely buy every pattern at that price, but I love books for the flexibility they allow. I often purchase a pattern only to realize I don’t like a stitch pattern or construction element, and never end up knitting it. When I have a book, I can comb through every detail of the patterns and find the ones I’m really going to enjoy knitting. So, on price, this book gets an A+. By the way, all the patterns are also available on Ravelry and I will link each of the ones I talk about, but I don’t think they’re available for individual sale. Some of the sweaters already have several projects on Rav and I love that you can see what yarn people are using and read their notes. There’s also a page for errata – found here.

  
Shoreline Textured Cardigan, mentioned above

In the well-written intro, Marie explains the premise of the book. My takeaway is this: knitting sweaters should be easy, fun, and relatively quick. Gone is fussy construction and in its place are seamless, efficient methods to get a sweater that fits and that you want to wear. Honestly, this is a novel idea. I have a few precious handknit sweaters I love and wear all the time. The rest… well, we won’t talk about them. Keeping in mind I haven’t knit any of the patterns yet, I’m totally on board with Marie’s proposition.

Next are the more technical aspects of sweater knitting: swatching, measuring, information on ease, and measuring your speed. The last one is new to me and something I may explore, although I think I read that you have to knit a gauge swatch, and… you know me. I haven’t dug into this section too much yet, but totally appreciate that it’s there.

Marie divides the book into sections based on how relaxing the knit is, with names like Staycation Knits (super relaxing knits with little texture) and Binge Knits (richer texture and more details to focus on). I think this is a clever way to set up the book! On my count, here’s a breakdown of the yarn weights used: 2 sport, 10 DK, 7 worsted/heavyworsted/aran, and 1 bulky. I was surprised to see so much DK weight in a book that touts 2 week sweaters! Surprised in a good way, that is. I honestly expected more worsted and bulky designs, but I think DK sweaters provide warmth and comfort without being too heavy. I was very pleased that it wasn’t a book full of bulky sweaters. I wasn’t surprised to see no fingering weight sweaters, because anyone but Marie might struggle to knit one up that fast!

Four of the designs are tees, one cocoon wrap (super cute!), four cardigans, and the rest are pullovers. That’s a nice mix, in my opinion. There aren’t too many tees, which is another thing I was wary of with “quick knits”. Most of the yarns she uses are luxury wool (merino) or wool blends and she offer tips on substitution.

Though I think all the designs are lovely, I flipped through the book and made notes of the ones that really stood out to me. Other than the Shoreline Textured Cardigan, here are the ones I want to knit first:


Pebble Bay Simple Pullover


Stowaway Chevron Pullover


Meridian Striped Pullover (I think this is my very favorite!)


Cape Creek Minimalist Pullover


Shelter Cove V-Neck Pullover

I love that all the designs in the book are simple enough to be wardrobe staples, but have beautiful elements that make them special. I can see myself wearing many of them and am already stash diving to see if I have the yarn to start one!

Obviously, having not knit them, I can’t give a review of the patterns themselves, but they are laid out very well with notes on a timeline for each one, clearly defined sections, and an excellent schematic for each sweater. There’s also a helpful section at the end of the book for basic techniques like picking up stitches around a neckline. The book itself is beautiful, detailed, and well-thought out. So far, I give it two thumbs up!

I can’t think of anything the book doesn’t cover and can hardly wait to really dive into one of the patterns! I’d love to know which is your favorite… tell me below!

stash-less | month one

January is long gone (and half of February, too) and I’ve been contemplating my resolve to not buy yarn in 2019. In December, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about going a whole year without adding to my stash (my one caveat being that I can buy yarn from my own hand-dyed yarn business, Mockingbird Fiber Co.). Surprisingly, I have actually found it kind of liberating. Even typing that it sounds odd… shouldn’t I feel more freedom to knit what I want if I can have all the yarn I want? For me, the short answer is “no.” See, I’m the type of person that buys yarn just to buy yarn. Over the last several years, I often impulsively purchased beautiful yarn without thinking about what I was going to use it for. I enjoyed growing my stash, but I now have several skeins that I have no clue what to do with and no plans to take the time to figure it out.

So… yeah. It’s kind of freeing. and I love that! Knowing that I have to use what I have, I have majorly narrowed down my queue, which previously consisted of a lot of projects I wanted to knit, but didn’t have the yarn for yet. It now comprises only projects that I have the yarn for, which makes it so easy to select a pattern, knowing I have everything I need. Another bonus is not feeling the guilt of buying yarn I don’t need when I have so much un-loved yarn in stash! I’m even looking at de-stashing several skeins that don’t fit into my plan. My goal is that, at the end of the year, all my yarn fits into my cube storage system, and that I never outgrow that.

Recently, I was listening to the Yarniacs podcast and they were talking about not believing in “yarn diets” – that if you see beautiful yarn and you want it, you should buy it. And honestly, I kind of agree. However, this is a more personal goal centered around setting intentions and following through with them. First, I need to spend less on yarn. But really I just feel wasteful to have all that yarn and not use it! So although “knit from stash” was a general goal of mine last year, I didn’t really stick with it. This year, I’m committed. So far, I’ve had fun shopping my stash to knit The Peaks Beanie by Ria Plachutin, a few pairs of socks, and even a test knit!

Speaking of test knitting, I often waffle on whether or not to agree to a test knit because I don’t have the yarn I need. Not buying yarn makes that a very simple decision! Overall, I haven’t wanted even to buy yarn (okay, I cheated because I had to buy yarn for my husband’s sweater… but I took no pleasure in buying it)! I have plenty of yarn for socks, a couple good sweaters’ quantities, and let’s not even mention the mounds of leftovers and scraps that need love. I’m looking forward to seeing how this plays out, but… so far, so good!

How about you? Are you a yarn-stashing fiend or do you buy for specific projects?

sock knitter survey no. 1 | Christine MacGillivray

You guys! I can hardly contain my excitement. I was overwhelmed by the response to my first completed box o’ sox when I shared it on Instagram. Some people were saying that I inspired them to knit socks, which is absolutely crazy to me! A year ago, I had knit a pair of socks, but I wasn’t enchanted by the process. So I resolved to knit socks all different ways to figure out what works for me! Twelve months and as many pairs of socks later, I can confidently say that I like knitting socks all kinds of ways! Anyway, after seeing comments that I was inspiring other knitters to make socks, I decided to share some of the sock-knitting ladies that have inspired me so much on my little journey. Some knit cuff down, some toe up. A few prefer two-at-a-time, while the rest knit one sock at a time. Whatever their preferences, they have each inspired me in their own way to try different techniques, play with color, and step out of my comfort zone.

Enter… the Sock Knitter Survey! I designed this survey to introduce you to amazing knitters you may not know about, or help you learn more about people you already follow! The idea of the survey is to showcase some of my favorite sock knitters and how they like to knit their socks. I hope you find it as fun and interesting as I do!

First up is one of the first friends I made on Instagram when I started my account four years ago… Christine @christine.knits! Christine is one of the nicest people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. She has always been willing to answer my (sometimes stupid) knitting questions and I love everything she makes! We’ve done a few swaps via mail (she’s in Canada and I’m in Tennessee!) and she always sends the most thoughtful gifts. Oh, and her little family – including two sweet pups – is the cutest! I’ve sprinkled a few photos of Christine’s socks throughout the post. So… here we go!

Sock Knitter Survey No. 1

Tell us a little about yourself!
Hi!  My name is Christine and I’m an avid crafter and home body from Wabush, Labrador on the East Coast of Canada.  I’m a first time mom to my son, Ian, wife to my husband, Jordan, and proud, over-bearing dog mom to my two babies, Rhubarb and Honey.   I simply adore knitting and there isn’t a day that goes by without picking up a project and working away.  I also love spinning yarn, and I’ve recently been bitten by the cross stitch bug and am swiftly falling down that rabbit hole!  Other things that take up my free time are reading and baking!

 

When/how did you start knitting?
I don’t remember what age I was exactly, but I was around 12 or 13.  Knitting is something I remember my mom always doing when I was growing up.  She learned from my Dad’s Mother back when her and Dad were just dating.   It stuck with her and she continued to knit (and still does).  My brother and I always had gorgeous, handknit sweaters growing up and I asked one day if she could teach me.  She would cast on and knit a few rows to get me established, and then I would knit and knit and knit until the square I was aiming for was more of a wonky rectangle with dropped stitches and some very interesting increase techniques that you probably won’t find in any stitch dictionary!  But I liked it, and I continued to pick at it all through middle and high school.  It really stuck and became part of my every day like when I turned 18, and now, 11 years later, I’m still going strong!

What are your favorite things to knit?
Socks.  Socks hands down for so many reasons!  First, they are SO easy.  I can knit a sock doing anything.  I turn heels in waiting rooms, I cast on running errands, and I pick away at textured lovelies while playing with my son.  They are so portable, so easy, and so meditative.  Secondly, I’m kind of a neutral gal when it comes to dressing, but I love knitting with colour!  So sock knitting is the perfect excuse to pick up bright, vibrant colours to work with.  Lastly, and maybe the biggest reason for me, is that I was looking for something to knit that would get worn.  I really wanted a project I can rely on and not knit simply for the sake of knitting.  I wanted to have something that would one day be so worn down and loved that I would need to mend it, and I could look back on that project and think how much love was put into it and how much love I got from wearing it.  Socks seemed like the best fit!

Favorite sock yarn base? I really love an 80/20 superwash merino/nylon blend, but I also have a soft spot for BFL and bases that incorporate tweed, cashmere or bamboo.  I tend to like plumper sock yarn, on the side closer to Sport than Lace.

Preferred neeldes? I am all about wooden needles.  I love how warm and flexible they are!  It took me a long time and a lot of trial and error to find my perfect sock needle.  I’m a bit weird with needles because while I am not a tight knitter, I am SUPER hard on needles and tend to wear grooves into the tips.  I destroyed many a pair of Knit Picks wooden needles, Lykke needles, and even a pair of Karbonz.  The only needles I’ve found that can hold up to my special kind of knitting are Deborah Norville needles.  I like a US 1.5, 2.5 mm, 32” circular for magic looping.

Toe up or cuff down? Cuff down!  I get the appeal of toe up, and I like the idea of maximizing your yarn and getting those socks as long as possible, but I just love cuff down.  It’s how I originally learned socks and it stuck!

One- or two-at-a-time? One at a time.  I recently did a pair of socks in tandem on two different needles and I can see doing that again, but my default is one at a time.

Go-to heel? Heel flap.  I love heel flaps!  That moment when the whole heel comes together and you’ve magically changed direction – it’s the best!

Rounded toe or square toe? Rounded toe!  In particular I use the rounded toe in Sock Architecture by Lara Neel every single time.  It’s a great toe!  On another note, that is a killer book and a fantastic reference material to have if you are even remotely interested in sock knitting.

Shorties or longer legs? The longer the better!  I like my socks to go up as far as possible to keep me as toasty as possible!

Favorite yarn brands/indie dyers for sock yarn? For commercial yarn, it’s no surprise that I love Patons Kroy if you’ve ever visited my Instagram feed.  For indie dyers, I love Flock Fibre Studio, Lichen and Lace, Raven Wood Fibre Co., and The Fawn and the Fox (also, all amazing Canadian dyers).

Socks for yourself or for others? I am typically a selfish knitter!  I love knitting socks for myself, but I also love knitting socks for my very knit-worthy husband.  I’m also excited to knit socks for my son when he gets older!  Right now he’s still in the phase of kicking all of his socks off so the socks I have knit for him haven’t gotten a lot of wear!

What’s a sock knitting notion you can’t knit without? A progress keeper!  It’s actually the only notion I use when knitting socks!  But I do really really love a progress keeper.  Who doesn’t like a piece of jewelry for your knitting?

Are there any techniques you haven’t tried but would like to? I would like to explore knitting two-at-a-time and doing a toe-up sock pattern!

Any favorite sock patterns or sock pattern designers? I love Blueberry Waffle socks – I have so many pairs now!  In all honestly, I haven’t knit a lot of textured socks but this is a personal goal of mine for my sock knitting in 2019!  I’m currently knitting Snowfall socks by Tabitha Gandee and loving them!  Every sock she designs is so gorgeous, so she would be my favorite sock pattern designer right now.  I’m hoping to have a little collection of Tabitha Gandee socks at the end of the year!

Why do you love knitting socks?
They are just so therapeutic!  I love the simplicity of a vanilla sock, but also how easily you can switch things up with a patterned sock and have a little bit more interest.  With a 7 month old, knitting time can be a little hard to find, but socks make it easy to knit whenever you get a minute of two.  It’s not uncommon for me to walk around my house with a sock project in my pocket for any free moment I get!   I also love knitting socks for my husband because he simply loves them so much!  I get so much joy giving him socks and seeing him get truly exciting about them and hauling them on straight away.  It’s a fantastic feeling to share them with others!

Who else would you love to see do this survey?
Danaraeknits on Instagram is SUCH an amazing sock knitter!  Her feed in constantly inspiring me and she is such an uplifting, positive person.  My friend Julie just recently starting designing some beautiful sock patterns and they are gorgeous (julieannknitter on Instagram)!  I’ve had the pleasure of knowing her for since I started knitting socks and we’ve done a couple little KALs where we’ve knit socks together and it was great fun!

You can find Christine on Instagram at @christine.knits and Ravelry @winterbirdknits! Thank you so much to Christine for agreeing to participate in my inaugural survey!

make nine 2019 | the one with the grid

Curating a Make Nine photo grid feels so official. It screams I’m going to make this stuff no matter what! But for me, it’s more of a general “I want to make this stuff, but if I don’t, that’s okay.” I’m using it as a pared-down version of my queue, the things I want to make first. These are the top-priority knits for 2019. But if I change my mind and no longer want to knit something, I won’t force myself to make it for the sake of the challenge. That’s just silly.

Quick note before I get started: my only rule for this challenge was that I have to already have everything for each knit (see this post) because I’m not buying any yarns or patterns this year.

Let’s get into the grid!

I’m going to start in the very middle, because I’m SO excited about this sweater! This is the Cottonwood Sweater by Tayler Harris. It’s the exact sweater I’ve been looking for. I actually contemplated designing one when I stumbled upon this one on Instagram. I immediately bought the pattern and, knowing I didn’t have the appropriate yarn, ordered a sweater’s quantity of Purl Soho Good Wool, which is what Tayler used in the pattern! They were having a sale so I got the whole shebang for under $50! I cannot wait to knit this and I’m so glad I don’t have to take a stab at designing a sweater!

Clockwise from top left:

  • Solstice Sunset by Flock Fiber Studio – These just called to me and I want to make my first pair of scrappy socks, so here we are! I have a bunch of minis I plan on using for these… I’ve actually already cast on!
  • Birds and Ships by Caitlin Hunter – There’s something about this pattern that I was immediately drawn to. I have a gorgeous skein of 100% merino from Woolberry Fiber Co. to use for this one.
  • Tied Knots by Justyna Lorkowska – I’ve never knit an intricate cabled hat and I’m not great at knitting cables, so I want to try to sharpen my skills in that area. This hat seems like the perfect way to do that!
  • Glacier Park by Caitlin Hunter – I swear I tried not to fill my grid with Caitlin Hunter patterns, but I’ve wanted to knit this for so long. I ordered a kit from Woolen Boon for this knit.
  • Tamitik by Shannon Cook – It’s a chunky hat. Need I say more? I love Shannon and this hat looks perfect.
  • Fox Isle Socks by Life is Cozy – This is a carryover from last year’s Make Nine that I didn’t get around to, but still want to knit.
  • Zweig by Caitlin Hunter – This didn’t immediately strike me when it was published, but after seeing thousands of gorgeous projects, I bought a kit from Machete Shoppe and I’m ready to cast on!
  • Cornflower Mittens by Paige Buursma – Finally, this is another carryover from last year. I realized how much I needed them when we got nearly a foot of snow a few weeks ago and I had to pull on my husband’s gloves (which were horrendously too long in the fingers). So back on the list they go.

That’s it! What’s on your Make Nine 2019 list?! Are you committed to sticking with it or are you gonna go with the flow?

I hope your year is full of love, happiness, and lots of knitting!

box o’ sox 2018 | the big reveal

I’m about to share with you my biggest knitting accomplishment to date… no big deal. It’s 3 days until Christmas and instead of wrapping gifts or actually shopping for the few presents I still need to buy, I decided to finish my December socks while watching The Innocent Man on Netflix (have you seen it? So good!) this morning. #noregrets.

Last time I shared about my Box o’ Sox, I had just completed my pair for May. So we have some catching up to do! But first, a quick synopsis of the box. I hand-knit twelve pairs of socks for myself this year. Two toe-up, the rest cuff-down. They represent eight indie dyers, including four pairs from my own hand-dyed yarn company, Mockingbird Fiber Co. I knit nine pairs with the Fish Lips Kiss Heel (by far my favorite), one afterthought heel, one heel flap and gusset, and one German Short Row heel. They all have a longer leg (at least 5 inches) and a rounded toe. Half a dozen are vanilla socks and the other six are patterned. Although I’d make a few changes, I’m happy to have learned so many new techniques and I love every single pair!

So now for the big reveal… my first ever Box o’ Sox!!

I got this adorable photo box and Michaels for a few dollars and it perfectly fits 12 pairs of socks!

I can’t remember when I decided to commit to this knitalong or it just happened organically, but it is one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever finished in my knitting life!

The box starts at the bottom left, goes up, over, and back down, ending at bottom right. I’ll link to each project page if you care to read more about each pair, but I won’t go into graphic detail here (you’re welcome). I added an asterisk (*) beside my very favorite pairs.

January*: Vanilla socks with Candy Skein Tempting Sock in Blue Shave Ice
February: Smooth Operator socks with Madelinetosh Tosh Sock in Hippity Hop
March*: Sugar Frost Socks with The Fawn & The Fox Doe in Old Fashioned
April: Blueberry Waffle Socks with FIber for the People Gilded in Peach Pit
May*: IfThen Socks with Knit Picks Felici in Spaceman
June: Vanilla socks with Woolberry Fiber Co. Simple Sock in How Rude!
July (top right): Late Night Socks with Knit Picks Hawthorne Fingering, hand-dyed
August: Vanilla socks with Fiber for the People 2-ply Sock in Gotta Lava Mauna Loa
September*: Vanilla socks with Nomadic Yarns Trusty Sock in Mischief Managed
October*: Snowfall Socks with Mockingbird Fiber Co. Scrummy Sock in Brushfire Fairytales
November*: Slack Tide Socks with Mockingbird Fiber Co. Rustic Sock in Lady in Red
December: London B. Ridge Socks with Mockingbird Fiber Co. Sparkle Sock in Jingle Bell Rock

And that’s it! Phew. I haven’t worn a single pair yet and most of the ends are woven in. Don’t judge me.

My biggest goal for sock knitting this year wasn’t actually to finish a box of socks, at first. I just wanted to try all sorts of heels, toes, cuffs, cast-ons, bind-offs, etc. to find how I like to knit socks. As it turns out, I just like to knit socks! I enjoy both toe-up and cuff-down. I do like a rounded toe and the FLK heel, but I find it nice to switch it up now and then. Sometimes I enjoy a pattern and others I just want a vanilla sock. And I found my perfect “vanilla sock” recipe, so I don’t have to even look anymore – I just cast on and go! I love that. I love knitting socks. And I still can’t believe it!