The advantage of having a lot of handknits

I realized this week when I was pawing through my sweaters shelf in my closet, that there are a few items that have been getting sadly pushed aside in favour of the same four or five sweaters that I’ve been wearing over and over again. It dawned on me then that this, my friends, this might help me get the last bit of gas in the tank to get through another month of winter. Having handknits I haven’t yet work this season (really, for no good reason other than favouritism for the newest things in the closet) is almost like getting a wardrobe refresher for free. It’s a dangerous time of year for the retail therapy impulse to kick in, too, so thank goodness for having an expansive handknit pile to choose from.


These are my Spruce Grove vest, (Ravelry link) and my Dusseldorf pullover (pattern by Fiona Ellis for Interweave Knits), and both are going to keep me cozy in the next week at least.

I’m also finally at the finish line to wrap up my Aran design I’ve had on the needles for months – so fingers crossed I’ll be sharing that with you soon! No one’s more impatient to get it out into the world than I am.

May you have a fine weekend filled with happy knitting and adult beverages of your choice.


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All the coping strategies

On the weekend I headed up to Peterborough for a day to teach at Needles in the Hay, which is always delightful. I had been meant to do classes there a month ago on February 1st, but an incoming blizzard stymied travel plans, so we rescheduled to March 1st thinking psh, surely, that was plenty of time for the winter craziness to subside a bit. Well, there wasn’t a blizzard this time around (and the classes were lovely), but oh man this winter. It’s still here.

When I was knitting & chatting a bit with Bridget before classes, we were talking about all of the wintery-ness and at one point she said, “you know, I’m almost starting to not believe any more. Like, maybe spring just isn’t happening this year?” And I nodded in complete understanding. I mean, we’re kidding of course (um, probably most likely totally kidding), because spring does generally come every year, and it seems more than a little ridiculous to be still complaining about winter like this when winter also tends to happen every year and does tend to be cold and wintery…but oh man, we’re all ready for a shift. Any time the temperature wants to even get up to freezing again, that would be super.


I’ve reached the point of just embracing all coping strategies for distraction. In the absence of the ability to just high-tail it down somewhere sunny and southerly right at this very moment (I see that was a missed opportunity and am making notes to correct this next February in a pre-emptive fashion), a girl just has to find other options. So far this has included:

1. Spending some time with knitters. (Bonus points if it involves colour-work things.)
One of my Saturday classes was on steeking, and it is always the most fun and satisfying, to knit up lovely colour-work things and then cut them up on purpose. (Also slightly irrational, but you know, see above re: all coping strategies being valid.)



2. Buying yarn. Doesn’t matter what kind or what colour.
I’ve got no shortage of stashed yarn to be sure, but I suppose it’s the knitter’s equivalent of just needing a fresh tube of lipstick or a manicure – new things are reassuring. I realized in February that I hadn’t actually bought anything new in several months, so found myself this weekend trawling WEBS and stuffed enough yarn into my virtual cart for about 4 projects. Then I took a bunch of it out again and bought only 2 projects’ worth, because somehow that seemed much more restrained by comparison. Yarrrrrrrn.

3. Books. Hey, reading books is pretty cool as it turns out. Since the holidays I’ve been putting more attention back into reading and carrying a book around with me to fit it into my day in bits and pieces (I still read books made out of paper, that’s how I roll), and have actually been getting through a few things. (I finally got around to The Fault in Our Stars, and it’s as lovely as everyone says. I’ve also been doing a sort of continuous re-read of The Hunger Games ever since the holidays and may finally just move on to Oryx & Crake since it’s been waiting on my shelf so long. Also, do I want to go back to my half-read copy of The Moonstone from last year? Maybe I do. So many options.)


4. Colour for colour’s sake. On Sunday afternoon I spent a few rounds on my colour-work demonstration swatch-turned-future-cowl, and it was great.

5. New knitting projects. I mean, this is a no-brainer, right? New yarn and new ideas are all well and good but sometimes you just need something to get onto the needles. (This is the beginning of Lempicka, which will be a background knit to look forward to as I finish a couple of ongoing things).


How are you finishing out winter where you are?
Are you keeping spring in your thoughts, or bundling up for a fresh round of winter knits while the temperatures support it?

Happy Tuesday, where ever you are!




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Winter logic

It’s that time of year around these parts when it seems like winter is actually going to be here forever. You do sometimes have moments of thinking, “hey, maybe tomorrow I can leave the house wearing regular shoes instead of the same salt-stained winter boots I’ve had on since late November.” And then you look at the weather report and it becomes clear to you that no, actually, that brief “warm spell” around freezing last week was just a momentary glitch, a seventh-inning stretch before settling in to make the game last as long as possible. This is about 99.9% of the reason why when summer arrives, we can’t quite fully grasp it and so we can’t stop talking about how hot it is, because surely cold is the only option.


The odd thing knitting-wise is that I’ve realized that what I’m actually knitting on right now (wool sweaters), and the projects I’m thinking about casting on for (hint: more wool sweaters), are things that I mostly want to be wearing already. As though knitting them is almost the same thing as already wearing them. I don’t know, man, at this point in winter I think logic abandons all hope and we all go slightly feral, clutching the nearest yarn that looks good. This Saturday I’ll be up in Peterborough at Needles in the Hay to teach some classes, and I’m pretty sure some new yarn is going to come home with me! Something new and fun. Probably also wooly.


One of the wooly things I imagine myself already wearing instead of just knitting is my Joist pullover in progress – not least because it’s going to be a super warm cabley sweater, but also because while it IS a lovely neutral shade of purple-grey, I think my brain needs to look at some yarn in a different colour during March. I foresee some leafy-green or bright red knitting projects in my future! Or at the very least, some stash diving to put some nice new piles of yarn on deck.

Winter, am I right? Thank goodness there’s knitting to be done.

Stay warm and cozy out there!


Pattern: Joist Pullover, from Twist Collective by Andrea Rangel
Yarn: Cascade 220 Heathers, in Liberty Heather
Project bag from Three Bags Full.




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Pretty nice weekend

Last weekend was a long weekend, with a holiday Monday both here and in the United States, so I took the opportunity to flee slightly south to D.C., to spend the weekend hanging out with a bunch of knitter friends in the area. I did the same thing last year over the same weekend, when there was much nicer weather, and it was great. This time I arrived just in time for the city to get hit with a huge snow storm, so there was a lot less touristy perusal of museums and monuments, but thankfully there was plenty of time to sit around with friendly people, knit, drink wine, and generally have a relaxing time. In case you are wondering, a weekend filled with those activities is lacking in…nothing. Nothing at all. (Well, maybe shopping. We did a smidge of that too.)

All weekends should look like this! Hope you’ve got a good one coming up. And that the winter hibernation ends soon, if you’re in the same hemisphere as me. (I’ve forgotten what green grass looks like. I hear it’s the stuff buried under the snowbanks. Stories have been reported that it might still be there.)

Happy knitting!

















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Deep into it

I’ve had a couple of design projects on the go for the last few months. They are sweater projects each involving 2 samples for one design, so it’s taking me a bit longer than normal, and I like them both and can’t wait until they’re done for the world to consume, but combine project fatigue with January deep freeze and my brain is starting to long for a new project. Anything would do, really. Like, maybe a pair of mitts and a hat, just to take the edge off?


So really I have no rational explanation for the fact that I knew all of this about myself and still cast on for a new sweater project over the Christmas holidays – and not just a quick hit, either, but an all-over cabled sweater. I don’t know, man, it seemed like a normal decision at the time. I mean seriously, anybody looking for reason and logic should take notice of knitting and then just keep on walking. I shouldn’t really be craving another large sweater project but as it turns out I’m still liking going back to this in turn, turning out a few cabled rounds of it every so often. I think it helps that it’s worsted-weight wool, which at this time of year feels pretty comfortable just to hold on the needles.


Even though I’m no stranger to cabled projects, I don’t usually do all-over cabled sweaters and so this is a nice variation on cabled technique which is also refreshing. Variation in how a technique gets used still lets every different project stand out a bit.

Also, I don’t know about you, but any knitting time these days is still a good time – we’re still not out of the super chill zone here and watching the snow blow around from my office window just makes me cast longing glances at the knitting waiting for me in my handbag. This is the knitter’s season for sure.

I hope you’ve got some fun projects waiting for you at home, and a warm beverage or three to go with it!


Pattern: Joist Pullover, from Twist Collective by Andrea Rangel
Yarn: Cascade 220 Heathers, in Liberty Heather
Project bag from Three Bags Full.




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Relatively speaking

I suppose it says something about me as a knitter that not only do I have different categories of projects in mind for different situations (transit knitting, TV knitting, will-fit-in-handbag knitting), but that those categories include one for movie-theatre knitting. And not only that but the relative ease/difficulty level that passes for those situations is actually pretty dynamic. I used to keep stockinette socks for movie theatre knitting until I realized that I needed something just a titch more interesting even for sitting in the dark, so now I knit ribbed socks in the movies.

In the fall, though, as I was heading out to the movies I realized I didn’t really have a pair of ribbed socks on the go and didn’t have time to start a pair right then, so I grabbed the easiest thing I had already on the needles which happened to be my Pi Shawl.



It made sense at the time because for most of it, you’re just knitting plain knit stitches all the way around and around and around, broken up every 6th round with a [k2tog, yo] repeat all the way around. And eventually there are increase rounds according to Elizabeth Zimmerman’s instructions, so those take a bit of concentration too, but the stockinette sections are pretty great. So far I haven’t dropped a stitch on it, even in the dark purple Malabrigo sock. I’m finding that I don’t mind having another one of these large shawls continuously on the go for several months if it keeps in the rotation as movie knitting. This shawl has seen Thor 2, Catching Fire (twice), The Hobbit, and American Hustle, and I’ll probably take it to see Gravity this weekend. (Well, I’ll see Gravity anyway. The shawl will continue contentedly being a shawl, just in a movie theatre.) I like that knitting becomes a little social record of events in that way.

Do you have exciting knitting plans for the weekend? I hope you get some good project time in, and stay warm! Brr, the chill continues around here.


Pattern: Pi Shawl (July shawl), directions in Knitter’s Almanac by Elizabeth Zimmerman
Yarn: Malabrigo Sock, in ‘eggplant’








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If in doubt, add colour

This Sunday my local yarn shop Handknit Yarn Studio held the first meeting of their current Knitalong, which this time around is for stranded colour-work mittens. They held the kick-off meeting at a nearby cafe because so many people had joined up that it was too many people to fit in the store itself. I went along to help out with any colour-work knitting tips as might be helpful at the time, but also to hang out and be knitterly which is good fun on a Sunday morning any week of the year if you ask me. And everyone seemed to be having a great time, even in their great focus and concentration! Knitted mitts are serious business this time of year, man, we’ve still got a solid 2 more months worth of mitten-wearing time (if we’re lucky and don’t get more than that, anyway!)

(Note: I sadly do not know what knitted patterns are being worn in this photo, mea culpa!)



I didn’t cast on for a new mitten pattern at the same time, tempting though it might have been. I’m trying to finish up a couple of other projects and while the temptation to start something new is very high indeed at this time of year, I am resolved to get something – maybe even more than one something – finished in January so that February can have some fresh and enjoyable new cast-on projects while winter still lingers.



Instead I brought along my colour-work in-the-round-swatch that has been going on for about a year and a half now. I use it when I teach stranded colour-work and have just continued it and changed up the colours every so often, so that eventually it will get long enough that I’ll join it up as a cowl. My only real scheme of things is to keep one colour/hue and one neutral  on each round, but other than that it’s all scraps from my leftovers of worsted weight yarn mingling together.



I even sat down after I got home and added a few more rounds of colour to it, and am reminding myself that it’s for leftovers and practice and doesn’t need to be rushed – it’ll grow and get prettier at its own little pace. When in doubt, play with a bit of colour, I say.

Happy knitting this fine Monday! I hope you’re knitting on something excellent.







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