Category: Uncategorized

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?

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!

shifting focus & getting serious | a look at 2019

Oh hey! It’s been a minute since I’ve blogged. And by “minute” I mean over 2 months! And really, unbelievably, it’s been more like 6 months since I’ve blogged about something I’ve knit. Geez Louise.

In that time, my sister and I have started a hand-dyed yarn business, Mockingbird Fiber Co., and a podcast (Mockingbird Fiber Podcast on YouTube), plus I’ve been knitting a lot, so the blog has fallen by the wayside. But Michelle of My So Called Handmade Life, whose blog I’ve been reading for years, has inspired me to write more in this space.

So here I am, once again looking back at a year of knitting and contemplating what’s to come. One year ago, I resolved to make 8 sweaters in 2018. Umm… yeah. I made 2 of those sweaters and made hardly any progress on the one WIP that was in there. The truth is, my body isn’t exactly where it used to be and I haven’t wanted to make all the sweaters.

So, I didn’t finish my #2018yearofthesweater resolution – not even close! I also didn’t finish my Make Nine 2018 (or 2018 Make Nine or whatever it was called). Five out of nine ain’t bad right?! Honestly, I’m not upset that I failed. Actually I don’t really see it as failure. Goals change and gears shift.

Instead, I am on track to finish my first ever Box o’ Sox, which is possibly an even bigger accomplishment, since (as I’ve lamented more than once) I used to hate knitting socks. I’m officially a sock knitting convert! But my goal for next year isn’t necessarily another box full of socks. What are my goals, then? you might ask.

Well, they’re more lofty than ever. Mainly because I am resolving to not buy yarn (except for the business or as a gift/to make a gift) for the entirety of 2019. That’s a big one for me. But if I’m being honest, my stash is bigger than I ever imagined, and it feels so wasteful to let it all sit there while I covet the new and shiny. So knitting from stash (really this time) is my main goal. To that point, I also have loads of patterns in my library – more than I could ever knit. So no patterns for me either. This one is kind of a big deal too, because I find myself purchasing a pattern at least weekly. But patterns aren’t going anywhere. Sales will come around again. So I’m swearing off buying new patterns, too.

Since that combination will so narrow down what I’m actually able to knit, it will allow me to truly focus on finishing or frogging WIPs (didn’t get much of that done this year either, though I did frog a couple of things). I also want to focus on weaving more of my yarn and if Santa brings me the sewing machine I asked for, I want to learn to quilt!

Basically, I’m kind of sick of “stuff”. Stuff that just sits around without a purpose, taunting me and clouding my brain. Knit the yarn you like; destash what you no longer love. Use the patterns you’ve purchased. Find renewed inspiration in the things you possess. That’s going to be me in 2019.

This appreciation for what I have has also brought about change in how I view my queue. At one time, I had over 50 things in it. Every time I looked at my queue, I saw it as a daunting to-do list. It still has over 30 items, but they’re sorted by socks, sweaters, shawls, etc. and I won’t be adding anything I don’t have yarn for. I may add to and take away from my list, but the goal is to keep patterns in my queue that I actually intend to knit.

And speaking of intention, 2019 is going to be chock-full of it. I recently dug out all my hats and took a photo, only to count them and realize I have over 20 that I have no plans on giving away. Twenty hats. I live in Tennessee and it does get cold in the winter, but even I admit that may be too many hats for one person. I want to focus on knitting things that loved ones or I will get good use out of. I actually love gift knitting for the knit-worthy in my life, so I’ll be doing more of that too.

And I plan on showing up here more. A lot of times I make modifications to a pattern, type in a quick note on Ravelry, and never really explain what I did or why. I want to pick up my camera (for which I just got a new lens) more and explore the world of photography as it relates to my knitting. Exciting stuff (to me at least)! Hah! I hope you’ll keep coming back. Honestly, I hope I keep coming back. The written word is lost so much in the fast-paced world of social media. I want to slow down here, to have a space that is mine in which I don’t have to worry about followers and likes.

Merry Christmas to you, friend! Here’s to the coming year! See you soon 🙂

xoxo,
Andrea

tips for anxiety

Let me start by saying that I’m not a medical professional and these tips are not a substitute for medication or professional help. I fully believe that medication and therapy have their place. Anxiety and panic attacks are very serious; please talk with your physician or a medical professional!

I recently posted a story on Instagram asking if anyone had tips for anxiety. The truth is, I was in the middle of a panic attack. I haven’t officially been diagnosed with anxiety, but have had it for a long time – even before I could put a name to it. I specifically asked for tips other than medication and essential oils (both of which I am well versed on, so I was looking for alternatives). I have tried essential oils, but haven’t found them to do much for me personally.

I was overwhelmed (in the best way!) with the response to my little story. People that I don’t even know personally offered to lend an ear anytime I need. It was one of the kindest, most touching things I’ve experienced. The truth is, we don’t always have someone to talk to or maybe we find it hard to fully express ourselves. The following is a list of the tips I received. I had never heard of many of these and found them to be very helpful. My hope is that they help someone else too!

  • If you’re home and have pets (or if there’s a cuddly pup around), it’s always helpful to pet and snuggle your dog or cat!
  • Leave where you are. More specifically, go outside. Take a walk or go for a run. Breathe in the fresh air.
  • Drink a big glass of water.
  • Listen to your favorite music. I find that the wrong music can contribute to my anxiety. If you have Spotify, find a “chill mood” type station.
  • Count to 100 and back to 1.
  • Take a hot bath or shower (if you’re like me and don’t like baths!). One tip was to put some Vick’s vapor rub on the wall of the shower – I’m definitely trying this soon!
  • Practice meditation and breathing techniques. There are some great meditation apps (Headspace is one I know of); I tried one once and it made me anxious… go figure. But it helps a lot of people!
  • Do yoga. This helps with the breathing too. If you aren’t into yoga, do whatever exercise you enjoy.
  • Weighted blanket or a tight hug from a loved one. The blanket is a great idea, one that I want to look into..
  • This one I loved and for sure will be trying next time. It’s a grounding technique: slowly and deliberately acknowledge 5 things you can see, then 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, 1 thing you can taste.
  • Similarly to that one, look around the room and name things you an see (for example, I see a yellow wall, a clean sink, the oven is on).
  • Play a game on your phone like Candy Crush (or Two Dots – it’s pretty entertaining and mindless). Something that distracts you and causes you to focus on something else.
  • Start a gratitude journal. I have one within my bullet journal and need to start it up again. Name 3 things each day you’re thankful for. Say them out loud or write them down.
  • Lie down on the floor on your back and close your eyes. Breathe deep. This helps calm your fight or flight defense by grounding you and making you feel safe.
  • Find a mantra you like. Memorize it, then concentrate on and repeat it.
  • Knit! Duh! Most of these tips were from knitters. But if you have another hobby, do that. Keep your hands busy.
  • Someone suggested organizing and I think that’s a great idea! Organizing or even cleaning always calms me.
  • Obviously, eating well and getting enough sleep is never a bad idea!
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol during stressful times. I find that I have to limit caffeine anyway, as I’m very sensitive to it.

That’s all the ones that were recommended to me! I’m quoting some verbatim, because I liked the way it was said, but I’m not giving credit to protect the privacy of my friends. If you contributed a tip and/or messaged me, thank you from the bottom of my heart! It means so much.

If you have any other things that have helped you with anxiety, please feel free to leave them in a comment! And please, don’t hesitate to seek professional guidance. There is no shame in helping yourself, ever! And lastly, know that you’re never alone.

xoxo,
Andrea