Monthly Archives: April 2014

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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





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