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in with the new | embracing 2017

Today I’m writing about my (knitting) goals for the new year! My resolution last year was fun and I learned SO much, but I am embracing 2017 with new purpose.

Knit with intention.
Last year, I resolved to knit one new thing each week. Unfortunately, this meant I was often knitting something without a real reason. The color, fiber, or who I was knitting for didn’t always matter. Sometimes it wasn’t even something I wanted to knit – I was often knitting something just to meet that weekly deadline. I’m left with a pile of things that I don’t love for myself but also don’t know who specifically would like them. I’m happy to have learned something from each knit, but this year, things will be different. Each of my projects will be knit for someone specific, whether for me, a family member, friend, or for charity. Each will be in an appropriate color and fiber, and they’ll all be things I want to knit!

Knit from stash.
I have amassed an embarrassing amount of yarn. It’s taking over my spare room like a bad disease! So, I will knit from my stash – and only from my stash – until it’s whittled down to only a container or two. This will probably be my biggest obstacle because 1. I love yarn and 2. I love to shop. Not a winning combo. I recently learned that Stacy of VeryPink Knits has NO stash. I can’t even wrap my head around that! Her talent is incredible and her videos have rescued me more than a few times. While I’m not sure I could be completely stashless, I know I can make a serious effort to use what I have.

WIP it good.
Focusing on my WIP pile (currently 8 projects) needs to be a priority. If I don’t love it, it’s getting frogged. If I do love it and want to finish it, I will make that a priority.

Focus on my shop.
In 2016, I put my Etsy shop (link) on the backburner in favor of learning more about knitting. This year, I’m turning my attention back to my neglected business. I will hone in on what I want my aesthetic to be and work to achieve my vision for it. I might even add in a little weaving!

Find out, once and for all, if I can be a sock knitter.
There are two reasons I’m not motivated to knit socks. 1. I don’t particularly like knitting them and 2. I hate wearing them. I’m hoping to remedy the former by finding a pattern and needles that I really enjoy. I don’t care for DPNs, so I’m hoping to discover a method I do like! The latter is more difficult to fix, because I usually don’t wear socks in the house (I’m almost never cold inside!) and it seems like a lot of effort to knit a beautiful pair of socks, only to stuff them into boots and head out the door! I adore the Farm Slippers that I knit last month! But knit with worsted weight yarn, they only took about 6 hours a piece. If I can come to terms with wearing handknit socks, I think I’d really like to knit several pairs. I’d love to use the beautiful skein from our trip to San Diego and the two skeins of self-striping sock yarn Nana brought me back from England.

Learn more.
I’ve always loved learning, no matter the subject (except history…) and knitting is no different! Over the past couple of months I’ve been working on my continental knitting skills, but I’d love to really master it this year. Being an ambidextrous knitter is ideal and it really helps me with the fatigue that troubles me when I knit too much! I’d also love to learn how to customize a sweater (make the neckline wider, add/remove shaping, etc.). I just want to keep learnin’!

Happy New Year & Happy Knitting!

coming to an end | #52weeksofknits

As 2016 draws to a close, I am reminded of how much I’ve learned and grown as a knitter this year. If you haven’t read my original #52weeksofknits post, I resolved to knit one new thing each week for 52 weeks. I’m thrilled to announce I have completed my goal! Actually, I surpassed my goal. I will complete 2016 with 60 Ravelry projects (I only started using project pages this year)! From my first sweater and shawl to over a dozen hats, several more shawls, and some randomness, I really enjoyed my little project. I do have to say that as much as I enjoyed it, it was kind of stressful having a deadline every week! I work well under pressure, but sometimes I struggled to find the right project/yarn combo to have an FO for the week.

Halfway through I shared my progress, things I’ve learned, and overall thoughts. In addition to the skills I discussed there, I also:

learned how to WEAVE and bought a loom, practiced mosaic knitting, tried my hand at Japanese yarn over short rows,
wrote & published two patterns (Buncombe & Autumn Chase) and snapped FO photos at 6,500 feet. My last (official) FO of the year was Tread by Shannon Cook… I’m obsessed!

Sweaters/Cardigans
sweaters

Shawls
shawl

Random
random

Socks & Mitts
mitts

Hats
hats

Scarves & Cowls
scarves

One of my weavings
capture

I feel like this was my year to learn. Through trial and error, I discovered which fibers, weights and yarn brands I love (and those I want to avoid – I’m looking at you, lace weight). I took a 4 week, every weekend, 9 hours a day, backbreaking weaving class and fell in love with a new art. I explored construction and knit several different shawl shapes. I’ve realized that picking up stitches is a necessary evil for knitting garments, no matter how much you hate it. During a hard year personally, I found that casting on something new is therapeutic for me (and may explain my 8 WIPs). Colorwork has become something to focus on when I need to meditate and relax. This list goes on…

I’ve been asked: “What are you going to do when you’re sick of knitting?” My gut reaction is “How could I ever get sick of knitting?” Sure, there are days I feel uninspired. Days I have so much to do that knitting isn’t the first thing on my mind. But it’s never the last thing on my mind. There is seldom a day that I don’t pick up the needles. Even though I’ve taken up weaving, it hasn’t replaced knitting. Yeah, I can crank out a scarf in 8 hours of weaving that would take me months to knit. But knitting is my passion. It consumes so many of my thoughts and so much of my time.

I promise I won’t be knitting something new each week in 2017. My goals for next year are different, but they excite me even more! #52weeksofknits was an amazing challenge, but I’m glad to be rid of the weekly deadline that had me stressed and scrambling too many times.

So here’s to the end of my 2016 resolution, and to a new purpose for the year to come!

switchin’ it up

I’ve been knitting for several years now (over 20 total, but very heavily the past 6 or so) and have noticed an uptick in achy hands and sore fingers. I used to go to bed most nights with my tired hands feeling (and looking) like claws… not cool! Not to mention that knitting only amplifies the tightness in my neck and shoulders from having a sedentary occupation. So I’ve compiled some of my favorite tips and tricks to help combat and prevent pain, cramping, and soreness of knitters everywhere! I hope they help you as much as they’ve helped me.

Tip #1: Get up!
This is a tough one for me, since I’m usually binge watching Netflix while I knit. It’s easy to just hit “next episode” and keep on knitting! But lately I’ve forced myself to get up at least after every episode. When the credits roll at the end of Gilmore Girls (has anyone watched the reunion? I have one episode left and I’m not sure how I feel about it), I get up, stretch, walk around, grab a glass of water… just spend a minute or two out of the curled-up-on-the-couch-knitting position! If you’re not a binge watcher and you instead like to read, ride in the car, or just sit in quiet solitude while you knit, you could set an alarm every 30-45 minutes to remind you to get up and move around!

gg
Knitting & binge watching Gilmore Girls before the reunion

Tip #2: Stretch!
About a year ago, I started taking classes in American Sign Language (ASL). The teacher starts each class doing hand stretches. I’m not sure why it had never dawned on me before to stretch my hands before, during, and after knitting! But now, I take a few minutes before I pick up the needles to stretch my hands, neck and shoulders. This video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRg4Gl22id4) is for sign language interpreters, but we knitters use many of the same movements! It’s kind of a long video, but you can make a note of which stretches work best for you! I do them before I knit, during the breaks I mentioned above, and after I’m done knitting for the night. I use to get bad hand cramps when I wasn’t even knitting! These stretches have helped reduce those cramps and made my hands feel much better.

Tip #3: Switch up your gauge!
If you’re a sock or lace knitter who’s constantly knitting on tiny needles, my hat is off to you! I, however, am not that girl. In my opinion, it’s good to have a couple of projects (in my case 8… seriously, my WIPs are out of control) going at different gauges. While working super long rows of Sunwalker (on size US 5 needles), my hands would cramp up. Did you ever see that episode of Friends – The One Where Joey Dates Rachel – when Chandler plays the video game so much his hand freezes up into a claw? Yeah, that’s how I feel. My solution is to have a project nearby, even a simple hat on size US 15s, that I can work on when I need to switch it up. I may put aside a WIP for several days, work on something at a different gauge, stretch, and come back to it when I feel my hands are ready. If you’re a monogamous knitter who struggles with sore hands, you may have to cheat just a little & cast on something new!

sunwalker
Aforementioned Sunwalker by Melanie Berg

Tip #4: Switch hands!
Andrea Mowry (@dreareneeknits on Instagram) recently posted about “flipping your WIP,” i.e. knitting English if you’re a continental knitter or vice versa. I’m an English knitter and continental feels very foreign to me; I do enjoy using it when doing 2-handed colorwork. I have decided to follow Andrea’s advice by casting on a project specifically to knit continental! This will allow me to practice a new technique – I especially need help with purling! – and give my hands a break. My left hand typically has a death grip on the needle, so switching up which hand my yarn is in should help alleviate that! Andrea suggests flipping one day a week, so I’m going to give it ago! Use her tag #flipthatwip on Instagram!

capture
I practiced continental on this basic, stockinette hat pattern!

I hope you’ve found some of my tips helpful! I’d love to hear what you do to switch it up and keep from getting sore while knitting! Leave a comment and let me know 🙂

Disclaimer: I am not a healthcare professional. The medical information on this site is provided as an information resource only, and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment. Please consult your healthcare provider for guidance about a specific medical condition.

wolf river | week 38 – #52weeksofknits

Whoa… it’s been a long time since I’ve posted a weekly update on my #52weeksofknits resolution. Like 20 weeks… holy cow!

wolf3

Well I’ve been knitting a lot since then (see my Ravelry project page for specifics) and my most recent FO is Wolf River by Melissa Schaschwary. I knit this sweater in the suggested Cascade Ecological Wool in the Merlot colorway. I scored 2 skeins for right at $30 a while back on Craftsy. You get a lot of bang for your buck! I have to say, I don’t love knitting with this yarn. It isn’t the softest and by the end of the sweater, I was so over it. It may sound weird, but it made my hands feel dry (is this just me??) and I hate that feeling. I do love the finished product though and the yarn feels WAY better to wear than it did to knit with!

 wolf5

I cast on for a size small, hoping to get between a small and a medium – and I’m happy to report that I did! It fits really well. Mods: I used a regular long-tail cast on instead of tubular (out of pure laziness!), so I started with a WS row for the half twisted rib. I slipped the first stitch of the ribbing with the intention of doing a split hem, but changed my mind once I started seaming. I seamed this using the mattress stitch and, if you don’t already know, it. is. MAGICAL. See my Instagram video for proof. I knit the sleeves an inch shorter than indicated because of my short arms and they came out perfectly. Somehow the 2nd sleeve went faster than the 1st, and before I knew it, the sweater was off my needles! Oh, and I love the tubular bind off! Such a pretty finish. I was afraid it was going to come out too short for my preference (I like sweaters to be a bit longer), but you have to layer this with something anyway, so it worked out. I layer it with this tank from Target (the perfect layering tank, IMO)! The burgundy color is just right for my sweater!

wolf6

If I were to knit this again (and I would!) I would try to modify to knit it in the round. As much as I loved the mattress stitch, I hate to purl, and that would’ve saved me a lot of purling! Also, I need to learn how to make the front neckline lower! I see mods on it all the time, but I’m afraid to try it myself. New goal: learn how to modify necklines!

I’ve already lit my favorite candle and hung my fall wreath. If you need me, I’ll be knitting and waiting for cooler weather so I can wear this beauty!

The joy in these photos is real, y’all – this is the perfect fall sweater!

variegated skeins & what to knit with them

Do you ever see a skein of gorgeous variegated yarn that you just have to have? So you buy it and get it home only to realize you have no clue what to make with it? Yeah, that’s me. I’m a total sucker for bright, multicolored yarns, but they usually sit in my stash forever while their solid counterparts cycle in and out consistently. Well, I’ve found some patterns to help you in your moment (or moments!) of weakness!

Fingering
I had a cheat day while on my yarn diet and snagged this crazy pretty skein of Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in Electric Rainbow.

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Had I had the sense to grab 2 skeins, it would have become Gather by Andrea Mowry.

Gather © Andrea Mowry

But I just get so excited that I don’t think rationally. So I’m planning a Mon Sheepworks Shawl by Caitlin Hunter instead, possibly incorporating a bunch of bright Knit Picks Alpaca Cloud that I need to use up.

mon sheep
Mon Sheepworks Shawl © boylandknitworks

With either shawl, you’ll need at least one other solid yarn. So these aren’t “one skein wonder” projects, but they sure do make a statement!

A definite one skein wonder piece is Reyna by Noora Laivola. This pattern is written for fingering weight, but can easily be adpated to whatever you have! Just use the suggested needle size for your yarn (or one that creates a fabric you’re happy with). I used Miss Babs Yummy 3 ply, a sport weight, for my Reyna (see post here). Keep in mind you may have to remove a few repeats if you’re running out of yarn. The pattern is free, well written, and highly customizeable. I’m pleased with the final result of my shawl!

reyna2
Reyna © theknitpicky

If you’re a sock lover, I highly recommend Whiskey and Rye by Audry Nicklin. (I also recommend whiskey and rye in general, but that’s another post!) I knit a sock from this pattern, but was having trouble converting the pattern for sport weight (totally my bad, not the pattern’s!). Before I frogged the sock, it was visually one of my favorite things I’ve knit. The slipped stitches just make variegated yarns sing! I have some more Miss Babs in my stash I think will be perfect for these and can’t wait to give them another go!

rye
Whiskey and Rye © Audry Nicklin

 Sport/DK
Hats can also be a great way to show off that beautiful hank in your stash! I recently knit 2 lovely hats using a skein of Malabrigo Arroyo in the colorway Lotus. I fell in love with this yarn and brought it home about 6 months ago, where it stayed in my stash until I ran across Cabito by Gabriella Calderini. Like the sample, I decided to pair it with black (I used the same yarn in the Black colorway) to make the variegated yarn pop. This pattern really delivered! I didn’t want mine slouchy, so I started the decreases after 8″. I really like the brioche & broken brioche stitches in this hat, and would definitely knit it again. Bonus: it’s a free pattern!

cabito
Cabito © theknitpicky

I had also been in search of the perfect yarn for the Rudbeckia Hat by Andrea Mowry, when it dawned on me that I could use the leftovers from my Cabito! Rudbeckia calls for light DK or sport, so this worked out just right. Mine isn’t quite as slouchy as Andrea’s, so I would probably knit the Large size if I had to do it over. But I’m still really happy with this hat and love how the pattern breaks up the variegated yarn (yay for no pooling)! I even have enough yarn left to make another hat… I’m thinking another Rudbeckia, but switching the MC and CC. Dreamy!

rudb
Rudbeckia Hat © theknitpicky

Another idea for DK weight are the Tinsel Mitts by Andrea Mowry. I haven’t had a chance to knit these yet, but if Andrea’s other designs are any indication, this one will be awesome! Using less than 250 yards for the largest size, you may be able to get more than one pair out a skein! (Matching mama/baby mitts, anyone?! Swoon!) I love how these mitts make the yarn look like confetti… or sprinkles? Either way, they’re a party on your hands! Versatile with 3 options – classic, convertible, or fingerless – and sized for the whole family. What’s not to love?!


Tinsel Mitts © Andrea Mowry

Worsted
Before I became really active on Ravelry, I knit my mom a Barley hat by tincanknits, a simple and attractive pattern. Though I don’t remember the brand (nor do I have photos), the yarn I used was wonderfully variegated and earthy. I love how this pattern alternates between stockinette and garter, bringing out the uniqueness of each skein. By looking at the over 10,600 projects (holy cow!) made from this pattern, it’s obvious that it’s a great match for highly variegated yarns. Bonus: (besides being free!) it has instructions for all sizes – from baby all the way up to adult large.

barley
Barley © Tin Can Knits

Andrea Mowry’s North Country Mitts, which I have knit and love, are another great option for worsted. Plus they use under 75 yards so you can whip up 3 pairs with just one skein… or make a matching hat! So many possibilities. Just look at this Electric Rainbow pair – so fun!

north
Electric Rainbow Mitts © sarahjoannee

Bulky
This is for lovers of those big, squishy skeins of Malabrigo Mecha and other bulky yarns. The popular free pattern Chicakdee Cowl is an excellent one-skein project. I haven’t knit this myself, but I have plenty of experience with bulky yarns. The advantage is that these projects knit up super fast and are super cozy! This cowl would be just perfect for a last minute gift! Check out the nearly 2,000 projects on this pattern and see if this one might work for that lovely bulky skein in your stash.

chick
Chickadee by throughtheloops

In general, when looking for patterns for that variegated yarn lurking in your stash, I recommend knitting a quick gauge swatch in stockinette. If there’s any pooling, try to find patterns that incorporates slipped stitches, brioche, or some kind of texture like seed stitch. Many variegated yarns also look great in stockinette! If you like the way your swatch looks, a basic pattern might be just what you’re looking for! Whether you choose a delicate shawl, simple hat, bulky cowl, intricate socks, or fun mitts, there are so many great patterns out there for your lonely yarn!

What are your favorite patterns for these gorgeous skeins?