Neutrality

Recently I have been trying to spend more time paying attention to neutrals as part of my knitting colour palette. Although I very much enjoy wearing neutral colours – oatmeal grey, chocolate brown, demin blue, and cream white in particular – I much less frequently enjoy knitting with them. When I’m choosing yarn from a store or my stash I have a much easier time reaching for a colour – being particularly fond of reds, greens, and purples – than I do for a neutral. I know this is entirely because if I’m going to be spending sometimes several weeks (or even months) looking at a project, its going to be much more fun to look at a colour than a (relative) absence of colour.

Mineshaft Jaywalkers

I’m trying, though. Neutrals are super versatile in one’s wardrobe, and I actually think they feel very foundational and comforting to wear, so it probably makes no sense that the actual knitting of them makes me hesitate. So, yea verily, when I finished my last pair of Jaywalker socks last week and it was time to pluck another bit of yarn from the stash for the next one (my sock yarn stash is ample, that’s how I roll), I actively made myself pay attention to the neutral options. There are greens and reds waiting ever so nicely, but no no, not this time – this time we go with the greys and browns.

Mineshaft Jaywalkers

I won’t lie, it is less fun than looking at greens or reds, but I’m cranking out the rows gradually and I know that once I get these done they are going to be one of the busiest pairs of socks in my drawer. They’ll be great with jeans. Is this the real secret of product knitting vs. process knitting? I always figured it had to do with skill level and stitches or garment style but maybe it’s actually about the colour. Who knew.

Have an awesome weekend, knitter friends – and pet some nice grey yarn for me while you’re at it. Over and out!

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Pattern: Jaywalkers (Ravelry link), pattern by Grumperina originally featured on Magknits, now free on Ravelry
Yarn: Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock, in ‘mineshaft’

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I scribble things

This past winter I was working on a couple of different sweater projects that didn’t come from my own brain, which I love to do – because despite having practice at designing things it is always preferable to spend creative time with the results of other people’s creative brains at least some of the time. Also you get to make things, which is after all the reason to do anything creative if you ask me.

Anyhoo, both of the sweaters, Joist and Lempicka (which are I still haven’t quite finished, but I’ll just blow past that for the moment, lalalalaaaa) make good use of “at the same time” instructions for the sake of efficiency. Because when you have simultaneous armhole shaping decreases, neckline decreases, and cable pattern work all going on at once (as is the case with Joist, at the yoke), it becomes just too unwieldy to write that out row by row. The designer/publisher typically writes each piece of instructions on its own, tells you to work them “at the same time”, and then lets you figure out how to track that.

Joist notes

This, really, is the true essence of the difficulty level of “at the same time” instructions. Each individual piece – working a few decrease rounds to shape an armhole, for example – may not be very difficult on its own, but how you figure out simultaneous tracking for this is totally up to you. It’s not something that a pattern will typically do for you, and it’s a levelling-up experience for a lot of knitters. Ultimately, this is a moment where nobody else’s brain can replace yours. You can use row counter devices, make a visual schematic, find an old-school peg-board, whatever you want.

Personally, if it’s a more simple combination of steps, I tend to rely on a combination of visual reference of the pattern itself, and of the knitting work itself. (i.e. – being able to visually recognize what a decrease looks like, so I can count how many I’ve done). Otherwise, I scribble things. Above you can see my post-it note tacked to my Joist pattern notes, where I’m tracking (at the seamless yoke) armhole shaping decreases, sleeve-cap shaping decreases, and neckline decreases, and still need to be able to glance at the chart. So I made myself a post-it sized cheat sheet that I could keep right there. I use a combination of scribbled notes and ticky-boxes.

I’ve also come to realize that this is one of the things holding me back from fully committing to purchasing a tablet device (despite ooh-ing and aaaah-ing over them for several months now). I love being able to read patterns on PDFs, but haven’t yet learned how to replace the pen/ink/post-it-note scribbling that I do as a part of my knitting and designing processes. My brain still needs the scribbles, as it turns out. Can you scribble on a tablet? I look forward to discovering these things, now that we live in the future.

Happy knitting this fine Wednesday!

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Rounding up

1. This weekend I finished a pair of socks. They were a pair of Jaywalkers I started last summer and put aside for months, and were knitted from stashed sock yarn purchased almost 5 years ago at the first Sock Summit. It was a limited edition Lorna’s Laces sock colourway called ‘vampire tea party.’ I like them a lot.

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2. I started another pair of Lorna’s Laces Jaywalkers right away.

3. My sweater momentum from the last gasps of winter (now mercifully ending) has slowed down considerably, and I am torn between wanting to just move on with new projects and the guilt that would accompany the abandonment of almost-done winter sweaters. My Lempicka cardigan is now just 3/4 of one sleeve and a hood away from being finished, and I’m going to keep going until it’s done. I’ll be glad to have a new sweater waiting for me for next fall.

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4. The new spring/summer issue of Twist Collective went live last week, and it is just delightful, and I even have a sweater pattern in the issue – Brightwood is a comfy spring cardigan (OR pullover!) for your classic knitted wardrobe additions.

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5. Now that it’s spring I’m finally allowing myself to think thoughts about lacy things, which is such a refreshing change of pace from winter I can’t even fully describe.

Happy Spring! Hope it’s nice weather in your neck of the woods.

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There’s always something new in knitting world

It’s April, the layers of snow and ice are finally starting to melt, and lo, the good people of southern Ontario are starting to remember what the world was like before winter came. Birds are chirping! Sunshine hours are longer! A person can un-ironically leave the house without a hat! (Okay, maybe still with a hat, but definitely the scarf is worth re-thinking). Knitting-wise, it’s an interesting spot to be in because I’m still knitting the same things I was knitting on in March, albeit a little closer to the finish line than I was a month ago. Right now I feel like these couple of sweaters are my de-hibernation projects. My knitting brain wants to think about sweet spring DK cardis, and socks, and a nice lacy little cowl – and all of those are probably going to get on the needles some time before the end of April, let’s face it – but before I can do those things I need to finish a thing from the winter to fully put that season away.

A little while ago I cast on for Lempicka, in a fit of “I need something new on the needles” start-itis. It was a highly covetous project for me, one that I wanted to make purely because I liked the way it looked and I wanted to wear it. (Sometimes I start projects because I know the making of it will be fun no matter what. This one, this one I wanted to wear. Shut up and get in my wardrobe, sweater.) Naturally, because the universe works that way, it has turned out to be a project that has Interesting Construction and might be Teaching Me Things or even gasp Making Me Learn Something New.

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I saw this cardigan at the Twist Collective fashion show in September and it rung a lot of my bells. It’s a cardigan with a hoodie (so practical and cozy), fun looking cables (I do love me some cables), has art deco inspiration (who doesn’t love art deco) and done in worsted weight (so versatile and so well represented in my stash), and I wanted it and bought a copy of the pattern to happily wait to cast on for it when I had the time.

I also have to give the tip of my hat to Christa Giles for designing it, because I appreciate a pattern like this that could so easily have been discarded in the conception phase purely for being to difficult to write down for other people. It’s a top-down seamless sweater that creates pictorial converging cables for a chevron, art deco kind of look, and there are a lot of instructions, many of the “at the same time” variety. I think at one point there are three or four different at the same time instructions going on, because the top-down construction means that for a while, you’re all at once establishing cable patterns, increasing for the v-neck, increasing for raglan sleeves, and then maybe doing some other tricky cabley thing to create the visual pattern. Most of the brain effort (read: the most numerous and frequent opportunities for something to go wrong) occur within the first 15% of the project.

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I am 100% sure that at some point, probably a couple of places, I have outright been doing something wrong. I definitely had at least one moment of ripping-back and re-knitting and probably more than one drop-down-to-re-do-a-bunch-of-stitches (while on a commuter train! Bonus points) Do I care? I DO NOT. I like the way this is coming out, I think it’s looking like it’s supposed to so far (thank you, pattern photographer), and I’ve gotten my measuring tape out a few times to check for length just to put my mind at ease. By the time I finish the body I’ll have only the smaller bits to deal with (hood and sleeves), which will require a bit less brain effort as compared to the body. I’m looking forward to gaining a bit of project momentum as a result, and then I’ll have a finished hoodie!

Er, just in time for warm weather to arrive. As is traditional? Let’s go with yes.

Happy knitting this spring Monday!

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Pattern: Lempicka , from Twist Collective by Christa Giles
Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca, pea soup mix

 

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I knew I was saving that for a reason

On my previous post one of you nice folks asked about how many knitting projects I have on the go at once. My short answer is I actually don’t really know. Like a probable number of other knitters out there who have been knitting for, well, nearly ten years now (geez, time flies), I have the active projects that are seeing regular use in the rotation, and then there is the sort of string of started-but-discarded projects of various ages and provenance. Actively, I like having at least 2 if not 3 projects on the go – one that I can knit without looking at it or paying much close attention (for movie theatres, waiting around times, etc), one that is complex enough that I can really focus on it and sink my teeth into it a bit, and then a third of choice – usually something that I’m designing myself.

But of course the discarded projects do happen. Sometimes they come right back in the mix at the right moment, though, as happened with the pair of Jaywalker socks I started last summer.

March22-Jaywalker

I like getting a few pairs of socks on the needles throughout the year, because inevitably the sock drawer needs a refresh every so often. I rarely dedicate myself to a pair of socks in the same way I might do for a shawl or sweater, though – usually sock projects are there for when I need something portable, or different from the other things I’m working. These just fell by the wayside as fall knitting started to take over last year, and last week they popped back up on my radar. I found myself wishing I had a sock project to work on but the very idea of choosing & winding yarn just seemed too tedious (ridiculous, of course, compared to the tedium of knitting the same stitch thousands of times over on a single project, but I digress), so I held off. And then I remembered that I started these last summer and never kept going, and ta-da! Instant sock project. Even if it isn’t exactly “new”, it’s new to me now, and so these Jaywalkers are happily resting in my handbag for just the right moments.

Of course, I must confess that in the process of locating this discarded sock project, I discovered 2 others also stuffed away in their own little project bags. I’m choosing to quietly ignore those for the moment. One WIP ressurection at a time, I say.

Have a fabulous knitterly weekend, blog friends! Maybe you’ll discover some “new” old projects as well.

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Pattern: Jaywalkers (Ravelry link), pattern by Grumperina originally featured on Magknits, now free on Ravelry
Yarn: Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock, in ‘vampire tea party’ (limited edition colourway from 2009)

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Home stretch of the season

This time, knitter friends, this week the weather reporters really are saying spring is just around the corner. Any day now, they say, we’re going to get those above-freezing temperatures for several days in a row, and then it’ll be a whole new world! (Most Canadians now hear that and think “HAH HAH, you can’t fool us, we watch Rick Mercer, see. Cloudy with a chance of making stuff up, that’s the REAL weather report,” and yet still we cling to hope).

Naturally, this is a perfect time of year to be on the home stretch of a yarn-eating all-over-cabled worsted weight pullover that will really only be most wearable in the coldest months of the year. Naturally.

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Last weekend I spent some time with my Joist pullover, and got the sleeves and body all joined up to the yoke and started the decreases for armholes and shoulder decreases (it’s a seamless saddle shoulder style), and this was exciting for the first round or two before I realized that of course there are now approximately twelve billion stitches on the needles and maybe each round isn’t quite as fast as those sleeves you just finished before that. But still I cling to hope, because in knitter weather forecast terms, spring is around the corner and I’ll get there. A finished sweater is a finished sweater even if you don’t get to wear it right away, and anything I finish in the next few months will be waiting ready and patient once the next chilly season does arrive. (Oh just imagine, the very idea of there being warm months in between now and the next period of cold. Oh frabjous day!) Home stretch, home stretch.

March22-Joist2

Of course, change is also just as good as a rest, they say, so the other week I just decided to cast on a new project for the heck of it. I’d been eyeing Lempicka ever since it appeared in the fall at the Twist Collective fashion show at the Toronto Downtown Knit Collective, and pulled the nearest leafy green worsted weight yarn from my stash to work it up in. It’s not the sort of pattern you can give just a passing glance to, since it is both top-down and relies on some fairly complexly thought-out pictorial cables, but I am game for something new for my brain to work on, and I look forward to having it on the needles for the next little while.

March22-Lempicka

What knitting projects are occupying your thoughts these days? I hope they’re fun ones.
Happy Wednesday!

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Pattern: Joist Pullover, from Twist Collective by Andrea Rangel
Yarn: Cascade 220 Heathers, in Liberty Heather

Pattern: Lempicka , from Twist Collective by Christa Giles
Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca, pea soup mix


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New Pattern: Shire Aran

Knitting friends, I’m so pleased to have a new pattern release this week. For the last several months I’ve had this pattern in the works behind the scenes, and it was in my brain for at least a year before that, so needless to say I’ve been a bit impatient to get it finished and out into the world. I also wanted to make sure I finished it right and was happy with it, and kept running into the challenges of working within the confines of space-time continuum reality. (I’ve been a busy commuter with less knitting time than I’d some days prefer).

But you know, that’s okay, because I really like this sweater, and having it released is making me feel just a smidge better about the fact that winter still isn’t over around these parts. Presenting the Shire Aran pullover, available in my Ravelry store. It’s a saddle-shoulder cabled pullover written for both men’s and women’s versions. Worked in Harrisville Designs Highland (a worsted-weight wool a bit on the rustic side)

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Shires2

The original idea came from thinking about The Hobbit and Tolkein and how a nice cozy cabled sweater would be just the ticket for Hobbiton – and The Shire. I chose a combination of organic, ring-shaped cables, and vertical panels for visual structure. Aside from that inspiration, though, I also just really liked the idea of a saddle-shoulder cabled pullover, old school and classic and fully engaging to knit. It had to be for both men and women, of course – the men’s version gets the easy drop-shoulder sleeve styling, but set-in-sleeve action for the women’s version – because that just made logical sense. I liked this as a warm wooly layer, to throw on as an outer layer on slightly milder fall or winter days, or for any time when the deep winter chill gets too much.

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MensShire2

This pullover is worked in pieces from the bottom up, and then seamed before working the collar. Pattern instructions include some of my basic tips on working cables without a cable needle, in case you want to dive into that – it’s the way I do most cables and I find it speeds up the process immensely for me. All cable patterns are fully charted.

I need to give some major props here to my fellow knitter friend Lisa and her husband Kyle – they modelled the finished sweaters for me and did a fabulous job, so fabulous that you’d never know they were standing in -5C weather outside and had to dash inside halfway through to warm up again. But they were perfect and managed the challenge with a smile!

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So there we have it, knitter friends – I hope you enjoy the pattern if it strikes your fancy, this season or down the road!

I’ll be back next week with more knitting adventures. New projects might be on tap soon, and I’m having some nice longing glances at my yarn stash to try to decide which ones they’ll be!

Have a fabulous knitterly weekend!

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