Hello I must be going

Wow, thanks so much for all your comments on the giveaway post, knitters! All of you have some impressive accessory knitting already up on deck. I’m pleased to share that commenter #344, Mary Beth, is the winner of the book giveaway for 3 Skeins or Less. Congratulations Mary Beth! I’ll be in touch asap.

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The rest of my world is a titch hectic as I prepare for travelling tomorrow (a little pre-Rhinebeck socializing since i’ve got the time), and get everything at home tidied up and squared away. I haven’t gotten all of my Rhinebeck knitting finished as far as I’d like to have done by this point, but I guess that’s what my pre-Rhinebeck travel days will be for! And at that time I’ll be on vacation, so I can remind myself to not stress too much about it. All knitting time is good knitting time, remember that self.

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Aran cardi

Catch you from the Rhinebeck side of things, knitter friends!

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Pattern (top): Northside pullover
Yarn: Miss Babs, Yowza! Whatta Skein, in ‘catherine’ red

Pattern (bottom): New design in progress, for a cabled Aran-weight cardigan with a shawl collar. – to be released soon!
Yarn: Imperial Yarns Columbia, in ‘pearl grey’.

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That Time of Year (and a book giveaway)

All signs are definitely pointing to fall around here – and not just signs of the pumpkin spiced consumer goods variety, or the sudden heaps of pumpkins and decorative gourds at the grocery store. Signs like, all of a sudden I can’t imagine not putting on socks, and I added another blanket layer to the bed. As I’m closing in on finishing my Rhinebeck sweater(s) to wear just 9 days from now, I’ve been a bit vague on what project(s) I’ll start next, but this morning I rifled through the knitted accessories basket, I realized that I am an idiot if I’m not putting more mitts and socks on the short list. It’s accessories time.

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It’s almost a relief that handknitted things don’t last forever – one glove from a pair goes missing, socks develop holes after enough wear and tear, or something shrinkable goes into the washing machine by mistake and emerges in doll-size rather than adult-human-size. Because then, you get to knit more stuff. Man, I have a yarn stash and I’m not afraid to use it, and when I discovered some now-defective pairs of socks in the drawer this week, I shed no tears when I said goodbye to them. I will make more of these suckers and I will wear them into the ground and then I will make more again, because I can. (Insert mad-villain cackling here).

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These socks pictured here are not new exactly, because I knitted them about a year ago. But they are new to my sock drawer because I knitted them for a design published in a book, and they were returned to me a couple of months ago. I have wasted no time putting them into service. These are my Diverting Socks (Ravelry link), knitted up in Dream in Color Everlasting Sock (which is delightful), published in the new book 3 Skeins or Less.

Cables are my absolute favourite thing to knit, and I find them extremely satisfying even on small stitches for socks. Sort of like saying to the world, “why yes, my feet are important enough for cabled socks not just plain ones, why would you ask?” Plus, they look neat. I’m really pleased with the cables and ribbing combo I used on these, and I won’t lie that I’ve considered doing another pair in another colour.

3 Skeins Or Less is  an entire book of accessory patterns, from hats to mitts to socks, and the nice folks at Interweave have sent me an extra copy to give to one of you fine readers. (Fringe benefits of having a design in a book, passed on to you! Huzzah I say.) You can also browse the patterns available in the book by looking at the listings on Ravelry, or at the Interweave website.

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If you’d like to be entered into a draw to win a copy of this book, just leave a comment here telling me what kind of accessory you’re looking forward to making next! I’ll draw a winner some time after 12 noon (EST) on Monday.

Happy knitting this weekend dear blog friends – and Happy Thanksgiving to those of you sharing the holiday up here in Canada! I hope you have both knitting and pie to relax with. Catch you back here next week!

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Pattern: Diverting Socks, from 3 Skeins or Less
Yarn: Dream in Color Everlasting Sock, in ‘chili’

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Blockity block

October is here, the leaves are turning, and right on cue the evening temperatures are starting to dip. It looks like sweater season might actually be upon us, which is pretty great since it’s coming up on Rhinebeck O’Clock. I’ve had two sweaters on the go (one new design, one old) to wear for that weekend, and I started them in plenty of time to finish both. But we’re getting down to the wire now, less than 2 weeks until go time.

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New cardigan (seen here getting the wash & block treatment) in progress is done in the sense that all the pieces are done. In my mind this means it’s done, but of course the seaming and finishing (which in this case also involves a collar/button-band addition) does take an amount of time as well. Damn it. I think it’ll still be okay, there’s still lots of time to finish it…and also the remaining front piece and finishing for the pullover I’m doing for sweater #2. Probably still maybe plenty of time left.

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So, in summary: this year, pretty much like any other year? But the nice thing about a self-imposed Rhinebeck knitting deadline is that, even if you finish just after Rhinebeck, you still get to start the fall/winter season out with at least 1 new sweater, which is pretty great. They keep saying this winter is going to be about as long and cold as last winter was, and, well, we’re still not quite over last winter around these parts. I’m going to do my darndest to soften the blow with as many new wool handknits as possible. Might have to remind myself to keep the hats and socks in there too, so as to be extra prepared.

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Whether you’re off to an October wool festival or not, I hope you’ve got some great fall knits on the needles, and are thinking about sweaters if you’ve never taken the plunge before! Happy knitting this week, knitter friends.

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Pattern: New design in progress, for a cabled Aran-weight cardigan with a shawl collar.
Yarn: Imperial Yarns Columbia, in ‘pearl grey’.

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As if this was ever a zero sum game

Today I finalized my travel plans for heading to Rhinebeck, aka the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival. It’s going to be fabulous, and not only do I get to visit the fairgrounds and eat delicious food and buy a bunch of yarn, I get to stay with a bunch of awesome knitter friends while I’m there. There is also every likelihood of crossing paths with almost every other knitter in the nearest 1000-mile radius, or so it often seems at the peak of Saturday afternoon at the fair! So many people to see, so many things to potentially buy. Busy weekend, but always awesome.

I usually come away from Rhinebeck with yarn for a couple of sweaters and a few pairs of socks. There’s plenty of that yarn that hasn’t been knitted yet, though, let’s face it – the sock yarn gets worked up pretty quickly but I have just a terrible (or perhaps not so terrible, you decide) habit of letting sweater quantities of yarn sit there until the right opportunity presents itself. Sometimes I know exactly what I want it to be but most of the time at Rhinebeck I just try to get a quantity of yarn that I like (and that I’m not likely to find as easily at home), and then decide later.

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Over the last 3 years, I’ve purchased sweater amounts every single time from Miss Babs’ booth in the Yowza Whatta Skein light worsted weight superwash wool (so named for it’s big yardage). I love the colours, and 3 skeins will do me a sweater with room to spare, and it’s pretty easy to walk away with an armload of it without even thinking of it.

So I finally decided to get on that and knit myself up at least 1 sweater’s worth of it before heading to Rhinebeck anew this year. It’s a deep dark red called ‘Catherine’ that I’m knitting up into a 2nd Northside Pullover for me. I wore my original Northside pullover so much last year during the long winter that I have been wanting another one ever since. I’m hoping to finish it to wear at the festival this year as well, as a deadline to make sure I’ve got it ready to go in my wardrobe before the fall and winter season is in full force. (If it’s going to be another winter like last year, no sense in going in unprepared, right?)

What sweater(s?) are on your needles right now? If you’re in the northern hemisphere like me, you’ve got many months ahead to choose one to knit!

Happy Thursday, knitter friends!

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Gimme gimme

Now that my summer knitting is done and dusted and I’ve finished just as many Cannon St. cardi samples for myself as I want, I’m moving on full speed ahead to new projects. Rhinebeck’s coming up in just a startling 4.5 weeks, and I need at least 1 finished sweater to wear while I’m there. I did get quite a bit of swatching in over the last month as I try out some new-to-me yarns.

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This enormous grey swatch is some Imperial Columbia, which I bought as a birthday present to myself mid-summer from my local Hamilton shop. It’s a wooly 2-ply Aran weight, which means it knits up a little bit thicker than worsted weight, and is extremely delightful for cold weather knitting. I am, unsurprisingly, throwing some cables on there and working on a new design that I can wear around at Rhinebeck if not soon after.

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While I don’t put down my knitting during the summer, it’s true that I often put away the heavy cabled things for a bit around that time of year. It’s nice to shine some attention to socks and lighter projects, and then I remember that cabled sweaters are still there, and my hands get all over-ambitious and before you know it I’m planning five more sweaters ahead.

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The first one of the season is always exciting, though, can’t pretend otherwise. Looking forward to seeing this one take shape and have it ready for the cold months coming our way once again!

Happy knitting this week, knitter friends!

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Back to basic

Guys, it’s been a weird summer around here. After what felt like the longest winter ever, we were fully prepared to switch over to the heat and humidity we normally get. Instead we had a few months of moderate temperatures and bursts of heat for a couple of days at a time, and it wasn’t until the calendar flipped over to September over the weekend that I realized I was still expecting summer to fully arrive. You know, next week probably. Instead here we are with September now, Rhinebeck is only 6.5 weeks away (aieee, must start knitting some sweaters), and, uh, I guess that means we’re done with summer now?

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The long and the short of it is that sweater knitting season is back, and I’m super pleased to have completed my summer stockinette sweater project. I’ve got new sweaters ready and waiting to be pulled into service for cooler times, and a fresh pattern release to go with it. This sweater is exactly what it appears – a simple worsted-weight sweater, with a bit of waist shaping to keep it fitting nicely and some longer ribbed cuffs because that’s just how I like ‘em. The notes include instructions for both a v-neck cardigan version and a scoop-neck pullover version.

It’s also done in pieces from the bottom up, so will be fairly versatile for a variety of yarn choices (seams add structure). I did these in Ultra Alpaca and Cascade 220 Heathers, which are two of my favourite yarns altogether, and also happen to be the worsted weight yarns I keep most readily in my stash.

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The Cannon St. sweater pattern is available now on Ravelry, just in time for September knitting. The name comes from the location of my local yarn shop Handknit Yarn Studio in Hamilton, who are downtown at Cannon & James St. North, and are now entering their second year of business, hurray! Also, as with all of my sale patterns, the notes have also been tech-edited as part of my pattern process.

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I’m looking forward to more designing time this fall, and already have another sweater on the needles and a couple more in swatching process in the wings. Bring on fall knitting.

Happy September, knitter friends!

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Finishing line

It’s been stockinette sweater central around here at Knitting To Stay Sane. In my zeal to knit up more than one sample each of the stockinette cardigan & pullover pattern I’ve been finishing up (just a straight-up ‘this is my kind of basic sweater’ kind of deal), I’ve been churning through the knitted pieces themselves pretty quickly and am now finally going back for some finishing. I tend to follow the process of washing & blocking the knitted pieces first, and then I do the sewing up and button-bands and what have you. I started knitting sweater #4 before even doing the blocking on #2 or #3, and now the sweater finishing factory has started in the evenings.

With my house in a bit of disarray it was firstly a challenge to find both the materials for blocking (the foam mats and blocking pins were in a room that got packed up to facilitate the repairs), and secondly to find a section of the house with intact floor space big enough to lay out the blocking mats on. Thankfully this is finally improving, and progress is being made (both in the knitting and the floors, I’m glad to say).

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I’ve done finishing on quite a few sweaters in the near-decade I’ve been knitting, and I’m pleased to say it has gotten quicker and easier over time. I was remembering one of the sweaters I sewed up many years ago when I first learned how to do a vertical seam properly (like for the sides of sweaters, sleeve seams, etc), and that was AMAZING. I don’t know what kind of mess I’d been making before, but I do remember it being a pretty transformative thing. Man, properly executing a finishing technique in knitting is a levelling-up moment like nothing else. And then when you see all your side decreases line up in neat little pairs, it’s so satisfying.

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Every knitting project has some kind of finishing involved, even if it’s just a hat or sock knitted in the round that needs a few ends sewn in. Because I tend to prefer sweaters constructed in pieces from the bottom up (I like the portability and compartmentalization of progress that comes from working in pieces), there is always more finishing to do on sweaters. It somehow manages to take me by surprise a bit every time (oh right, i still have to sew it up) while still remaining comfortably familiar.

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My perspective on sweater finishing is that it isn’t so much difficult as it is multi-staged. There are vertical seams for sleeves and sides, horizontal seams for shoulders and under-arms, picking up stitches for button-bands and collars (which I also have a photo tutorial for on the blog, bee-tee-dubs), and oh so many ways to do button-holes. We get better at everything with practice, thankfully.

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There is also very rarely only one way to do anything in terms of finishing techniques for knitting, so even if you’ve found a vertical seam method that you really love forever, you might just as well find yourself next to someone at knit night who does it totally differently and that’s fine too. Thankfully there are about a zillion reference books for knitters out there, which is a good thing. Finishing techniques are often something that knitting patterns won’t stop and pull you aside to explain, so it never hurts to be prepared.

Long story short: back I go to the seaming mines. Hopefully with 2 more completed-for-real sweaters some time this weekend!

Happy Thursday knitter friends, may the seaming odds be ever in your favour.

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