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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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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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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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.)

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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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