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I don’t know if I’ve confessed this to you, blog, or if I’ve just not confessed it lately, but in the vast world of knitting skills, one thing I have still not been able to drill down into my neurons is Kitchener stitch. It’s just one of those things. After only a decade of consistent knitting I’ve finally gotten to a point where I just need a reminder of how to start it and then I can merrily Kitchener along no problem, but I still always need to look it up first.

Last winter I had a bit of a breakthrough when I had 2 projects in the space of a week that needed Kitchenering – the tops of a pair of mittens, and the under-arms of a seamless sweater. (If this is a brand new technique for you, the short description is that it’s a way of sewing together 2 rows of live stitches into a seamless fabric). That went a long way to sealing in the knowledge. I suppose it’s fair that if you don’t use a technique on every project, you’re going to learn it more slowly. Sock toe - horizontal seam One of the popular spots to use Kitchener stitch is in the final toe seam of top-down socks with a wedge toe. For the longest time when I was new to sock knitting I just avoided Kitchenering altogether, so I just did a mattress stitch horizontal seam instead, because I knew how to do that. After 10 or so years of sock knitting, I still do this. I bind off all the stitches, leave a long tail, and then come back later (sometimes days or weeks later), and sew up the toe.

Case in point, these socks have been finished for 2 weeks but I still hadn’t finished them, so today I finally decided they were getting done. My shortcut solution, it turns out, still involves a lot of procrastination, but don’t worry, I reassured my current seamless sweater that its under-arm seams are still going to get the Kitchener stitch treatment. I can evolve slowly. There’s usually more than one way to do something in knitting, thank goodness.

Have a great weekend, knitter friends!

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Pattern: A Nice Ribbed Sock (by me)

Yarn: Socks That Rock Mediumweight, colourway ‘grawk’

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Speed is relative

Last week a few of you asked me how I managed to fit so much knitting into my life. While I can’t say that I try to speed knit a sweater every week (or every month), I do manage to turn out a couple of finished projects each month, and not just small ones. So I do keep a decent pace, and a lot of that is due to simple experience. I’ve been knitting steadily for ten years now, and overall I’m faster than I started. (I’ve also noticed that my tension is ever so slightly looser than when I started, which I think is neat. It also means I really do have to swatch to make sure of things, darn it.)

There are ways to knit faster on a technical level – in other words to increase the number of stitches you’re knitting each minute – and there are people who simply knit extremely fast. I have known knitters who could turn out a sweater within a week just in their transit knitting time, but I am not quite that brisk. Mostly what I find is that my speed comes from the way I fit knitting into my life, and it boils down to three basic steps.

Lace panel cardigan in progress

1. Make time for knitting

I know it’s a tad obvious to point this out, but the harsh reality is that if you don’t knit, your knitting will not get knitted. Who among us hasn’t gotten to the end of a week completely shocked that the sweater we haven’t touched since last weekend did not miraculously start its own sleeves all by itself? I certainly have had my moments like that. There are days when I don’t get as much knitting in as I’d like, and some days pass without any knitting at all depending on what’s up that day. On the whole I make sure I’m spending at least a few minutes with at least one project every day, and gradually it adds up to finished work.

2. Find your Netflix groove, ditch the smartphone

It’s a habit of mine to knit while watching television, so much so that if I were not able to knit, I would probably watch way less television. Or, if I didn’t knit I would probably switch to something else I could do at the same time. Maybe I’d go back to needlepoint. (Knitting colonized all of my other crafting hobbies, and I regretted nothing.) So, if I’m engaged in what I’m watching then it is very easy to keep sitting and knitting. Honestly I would put Netflix on my list of favourite knitting tools, right up there with stitch markers and tape measures. Remember in olden times of, you know, four years ago, when you were watching tv shows on DVD and you had to physically get up to change the disc in order to keep going? HAH. We don’t even have that standing in the way now, and don’t even have to feel lazy about it since our needles are still keeping busy. The point is that watching TV enables my knitting. Something else might be your enabler – podcasts, radio, patio time with an iced beverage.

The hitch comes if I’m set up with my television/enabling time and I’m watching something I am only half-interested in or that I’ve seen before, because then my eyes are more likely to wander towards my smartphone. It is all too easy to be distracted. I stand a better chance if I just leave my phone in another room, or even flip it face down so I can’t see it blinking at me if I’ve got a new email notification. Earlier in the year I gave myself a talking to and deleted all the game apps off of my phone, because I realized I was playing games first thing when I sat down, not knitting.

You might do just fine for willpower against your smartphone, however. Maybe you don’t even have a smartphone or wireless internet, and your time constraints are entirely different from mine. The moral of the story is that there are about a billion things that can (and do) take up your time during the day, so if you want to make more room for knitting, you have to control the ones you can control.

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3. Divide and conquer

This, in my mind, is the easiest “get knitting done” strategy, but it is also more of a longer term strategy. What you do is, quite simply, have different projects for different kinds of knitting situations. Lengthier stints at home on the sofa are for sweaters or anything complex, but sock projects are portable and can be stuffed in my purse for knitting in transit, or while waiting around, or just in case I have unexpected time and don’t want to sit idle. Plain ribbed socks and Pi Shawls have been my go-to projects for knitting at the movie theatre. (You don’t have to knit at the movie theatre, of course. Sometimes I really do sit back and shove popcorn into my face.)

The Mason Dixon ladies have a list in one of their books for places they don’t knit, including funerals, and there are also places and situations I will put the knitting away. You probably have your own list of these places also. However I would say about 90% of my social circle is composed of knitters, which makes it about 900% easier to knit even if I’m with other people, so I really recommend making friends with as many knitters as possible.

You  can’t knit everywhere, and you can’t knit all the time, but you can knit a lot of places and can choose virtually any project you want if you really want to knit it. Versatility is your friend.

Where have you knitted today, dear knitter friends? Shout out to everyone knitting in cafes and on public transit, because those are my favourite.

Until next time!

 

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Pattern: Sweater design in progress (by me)
Yarn: Tanis Fiber Arts Purple Label Cashmere sock (‘lucky penny’ colourway)

Pattern: A Nice Ribbed Sock (by me)
Yarn: Socks That Rock Mediumweight, colourway ‘grawk’ and ‘hard rock’

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The three-week sweater and its buddy

Although socks are edging their way back onto the racetrack over here at Knitting to Stay Sane, sweater knitting has certainly not been abandoned, never fear. The ‘two-week sweater’ did indeed turn into a ‘three-week sweater’, which is super awesome in my world.

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While it cuts a less imposing figure on the dress form (try as I might I just can’t make it pretend to have my shoulders), I think it’s going to be a nice light and casual spring/summer pullover, which is exactly what I was going for. I remembered last summer when I was working in an air-conditioned office how few fingering weight sweaters I had, and how nice they are for transitional seasons in any case.

So, I wasted no time in starting a cardigan buddy for this one, and I am prepared to love it even more. I am coveting the idea of having more light sweaters in my wardrobe, so that is fuelling my desire to finish it just as quickly and get it into wearable form before too long.

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It’s been a busy week behind the scenes lately, with lots of to-and-fro-ing of various kinds, so one of those weeks where just keeping in a bit of knitting time is all good. The rows start to stack up gradually as long as you keep knitting them, thank goodness.

I hope you’re knitting something fun this week, blog friends! Until next time.

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Pattern: Sweater design in progress (by me)
Yarn: Tanis Fiber Arts Purple Label Cashmere sock (‘truffle’ colourway for pullover, ‘lucky penny’ colourway for cardigan)

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Right on schedule

Spring is upon us around these parts, so much so that we might be firmly into patio-sitting weather this coming weekend. In fact, I’ve considered that I could probably take the pair of emergency fingerless mitts out of my handbag for good, it’s looking so much like spring. Amazing, the outdoors is warm and the sunshine is taking up the whole sky not just occasional bursts of it.

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Appropriately enough, I’ve remembered about sock knitting, which is a thing I tend to do in the spring and summer. I keep them around for “purse knitting” at other times of the year as well, but somehow once the weather ticks over to the time when I don’t need to wear socks anymore, knitting them seems to make a lot more sense. (In general I think this is not a bad way to go, because knitting things out of season means you have new things to wear ready to go when they are in season. If I can just convince myself about knitting bulky mittens and cowls in July being totally normal I will basically be ready to take over the world.)

The pair above is one I’ve had going since Christmas, actually, I started it for movie theatre knitting and then I didn’t end up seeing many other movies for a couple months. But that’s been rectified lately and these have seen more action (inside the movie theatre and out), and actually in the few days that passed since I took that photo, I’ve finished that pair and am ready to start a new one. Which is a good thing, too, because I’ve got Avengers to see and more sock knitting to do. Ribbed socks are great for all occasions, including dark movie theatres in my book. (Later, I’ll make a date to cast on a new pair of Jaywalkers, because I always need more of those).

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The only problem is choosing a colour. Oh wait, did I say problem? I meant “opportunity.” Stash diving is awesome.

Happy Thursday, knitter friends!

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Pattern: A Nice Ribbed Sock (by me)
Yarn: Socks That Rock Mediumweight, colourway ‘grawk’

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A three week sweater for sure, though

Well dear knitter friends, after two weeks of knitting I am pleased to report that I have…

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…most of a sweater. The lion’s share of it is done – I have the body and two sleeves, and I’m now joined up and am working on the yoke. Once I split for the front neckline it’ll start to reel in pretty quickly, so maybe it’s still a two-and-a-half or a three-week-sweater, which I can also be pleased with. I am admittedly a bit bummed that I didn’t quite get it done in the imagined two week goal, but I’m also glad that I did things like eat and sleep and get physical exercise and take time out to, well, write down notes for said sweater (rookie mistake not writing it all down first, dangit Glenna do you think athletes go to the Olympic trials without practicing first? Tsk), so all in all I’ll take it.

Can’t slow down too much though, because once this one is done…

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…it’s going to get a buddy in a different colour – because I’ve decided this definitely needs to be a cardigan as well.

No rest for the wicked! I hope you get lots of great knitting in this weekend too. Until next time!

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Pattern: Sweater design in progress (by me)
Yarn: Tanis Fiber Arts Purple Label Cashmere sock (‘truffle’ colourway)

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Arbitrary goals are still goals

My “two week sweater” efforts are continuing, dear knitter friends, as I continue knitting away, and trying to make up for a bit more non-knitting weekend time than I might have liked. Although non-knitting time does assist in, you know, helping one’s arms and wrists not to fall off, so there is that.

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So far I’ve gotten a large portion of the body done – though I will need another couple of inches on that before I join it up to make the final yoke – and have started the second sleeve. All in all this is pretty good progress, I must admit.

Will I make it to a finished sweater by Friday? Well, I’d be lying if I said I was completely confident about that, but having the arbitrary goal is getting me knitting on it pretty briskly, so I am pleased with that.

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I’ve had personal sweater goals like this before, but they were usually attached to things like Rhinebeck or travelling deadlines when I wanted to be able to wear the finished thing. This one is a bit more arbitrary, but still good – I think sometimes it’s easy to get mired in all the things that need to get done that we slow down, and a deadline helps pick up the pace.

Maybe I’ll have a finished sweater by the end of the week – or darned close to one? Fingers crossed either way.

Do you have knitting goals for the current season? I hope that you’ve got something fun to get absorbed in.

Happy Tuesday, knitter friernds!

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Pattern: Sweater design in progress (by me)
Yarn: Tanis Fiber Arts Purple Label Cashmere sock (‘truffle’ colourway)

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New Pattern: Dundas Pullover

In between breaks from attempting to finish a fingering weight sweater in two weeks (don’t worry, I really am doing things besides knitting, I promise!), I’ve got a new spring/fall pullover pattern to share with you. This is my Dundas Pullover, available on Ravelry and Patternfish now!

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This is a casual, almost ‘sweatshirt style’ sweater, easy to wear and a little bit airy thanks to the lace pattern panels. It’s my habit to knit cable patters when I design sweaters, but this year I’m trying out some lace options to stretch out of my comfort zone. I’ve also included some modern details for some stylish flair, using short row shaping to create a sloped hem that is slightly longer in the back than in front. (Although one could easily knit this straight and omit the short rows for a regular pullover hem) The cuffs are also a bit long, just the way I like them!

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This sweater is worked in DK-weight yarn and is shown here in Tanis Fiber Arts Yellow Label DK, in ‘poppy’ red, which has been great to work with the last little while as winter has finally receded. I think this would work well in a variety of yarns, and actually if I had time I would love to do up another one in a wool/cotton blend.

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It’s knitted seamlessly in one piece from the bottom up, with raglan shaping at the yoke, and a modest scoop neck for comfort. I’m liking this for the in-between days of spring and fall, or cool evenings in general. And glad to have the pattern out in the world!

I also want to give a shout-out to my friend (fellow knitter) Lisa who modelled this for me, who actually matched her shoes to the sweater, even though you can’t see it in the photos. I now desperately want a pair of red flats to wear this with. Dangit, Glenna, get it together of course you match your shoes to the sweater, what were you thinking.

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Anyhow, whether your shoes match your sweater or not, I hope you have a great weekend ahead! Happy knitting.

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Pattern: Dundas Pullover, on Ravelry, on Patternfish
Yarn: Tanis Fiber Arts Yellow Label DK, shown in ‘poppy’ red

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