Back to basic

Guys, it’s been a weird summer around here. After what felt like the longest winter ever, we were fully prepared to switch over to the heat and humidity we normally get. Instead we had a few months of moderate temperatures and bursts of heat for a couple of days at a time, and it wasn’t until the calendar flipped over to September over the weekend that I realized I was still expecting summer to fully arrive. You know, next week probably. Instead here we are with September now, Rhinebeck is only 6.5 weeks away (aieee, must start knitting some sweaters), and, uh, I guess that means we’re done with summer now?



The long and the short of it is that sweater knitting season is back, and I’m super pleased to have completed my summer stockinette sweater project. I’ve got new sweaters ready and waiting to be pulled into service for cooler times, and a fresh pattern release to go with it. This sweater is exactly what it appears – a simple worsted-weight sweater, with a bit of waist shaping to keep it fitting nicely and some longer ribbed cuffs because that’s just how I like ‘em. The notes include instructions for both a v-neck cardigan version and a scoop-neck pullover version.

It’s also done in pieces from the bottom up, so will be fairly versatile for a variety of yarn choices (seams add structure). I did these in Ultra Alpaca and Cascade 220 Heathers, which are two of my favourite yarns altogether, and also happen to be the worsted weight yarns I keep most readily in my stash.



The Cannon St. sweater pattern is available now on Ravelry, just in time for September knitting. The name comes from the location of my local yarn shop Handknit Yarn Studio in Hamilton, who are downtown at Cannon & James St. North, and are now entering their second year of business, hurray! Also, as with all of my sale patterns, the notes have also been tech-edited as part of my pattern process.


I’m looking forward to more designing time this fall, and already have another sweater on the needles and a couple more in swatching process in the wings. Bring on fall knitting.

Happy September, knitter friends!





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Finishing line

It’s been stockinette sweater central around here at Knitting To Stay Sane. In my zeal to knit up more than one sample each of the stockinette cardigan & pullover pattern I’ve been finishing up (just a straight-up ‘this is my kind of basic sweater’ kind of deal), I’ve been churning through the knitted pieces themselves pretty quickly and am now finally going back for some finishing. I tend to follow the process of washing & blocking the knitted pieces first, and then I do the sewing up and button-bands and what have you. I started knitting sweater #4 before even doing the blocking on #2 or #3, and now the sweater finishing factory has started in the evenings.

With my house in a bit of disarray it was firstly a challenge to find both the materials for blocking (the foam mats and blocking pins were in a room that got packed up to facilitate the repairs), and secondly to find a section of the house with intact floor space big enough to lay out the blocking mats on. Thankfully this is finally improving, and progress is being made (both in the knitting and the floors, I’m glad to say).


I’ve done finishing on quite a few sweaters in the near-decade I’ve been knitting, and I’m pleased to say it has gotten quicker and easier over time. I was remembering one of the sweaters I sewed up many years ago when I first learned how to do a vertical seam properly (like for the sides of sweaters, sleeve seams, etc), and that was AMAZING. I don’t know what kind of mess I’d been making before, but I do remember it being a pretty transformative thing. Man, properly executing a finishing technique in knitting is a levelling-up moment like nothing else. And then when you see all your side decreases line up in neat little pairs, it’s so satisfying.


Every knitting project has some kind of finishing involved, even if it’s just a hat or sock knitted in the round that needs a few ends sewn in. Because I tend to prefer sweaters constructed in pieces from the bottom up (I like the portability and compartmentalization of progress that comes from working in pieces), there is always more finishing to do on sweaters. It somehow manages to take me by surprise a bit every time (oh right, i still have to sew it up) while still remaining comfortably familiar.


My perspective on sweater finishing is that it isn’t so much difficult as it is multi-staged. There are vertical seams for sleeves and sides, horizontal seams for shoulders and under-arms, picking up stitches for button-bands and collars (which I also have a photo tutorial for on the blog, bee-tee-dubs), and oh so many ways to do button-holes. We get better at everything with practice, thankfully.


There is also very rarely only one way to do anything in terms of finishing techniques for knitting, so even if you’ve found a vertical seam method that you really love forever, you might just as well find yourself next to someone at knit night who does it totally differently and that’s fine too. Thankfully there are about a zillion reference books for knitters out there, which is a good thing. Finishing techniques are often something that knitting patterns won’t stop and pull you aside to explain, so it never hurts to be prepared.

Long story short: back I go to the seaming mines. Hopefully with 2 more completed-for-real sweaters some time this weekend!

Happy Thursday knitter friends, may the seaming odds be ever in your favour.





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Constant vigilance

A month ago when I returned home from vacation to discover water damage over about half of my house, one silver lining was that my yarn wasn’t harmed. It was in a totally different part of the house than what was damaged, and so my stash emerged untraumatized. (The rest of the house is still being put back together again, which is a whole other cranky story, but I digress).

The experience was enough of a cautionary tale over what could happen, though, particularly since a large portion of my stash lives in cubby shelves with nothing to protect it from the elements other than karma. I tend to sort through my stash a couple of times a year and have been lucky so far (knocking on all the wood right now) that moth damage hasn’t occurred, never mind a leaky roof or something, but you just never know what could happen down the line.


So, yesterday I armed myself with 30 extra-large freezer bags (each large enough for about ten 100g skeins of yarn) and started bagging things up. I also don’t mind admitting that I’ll be going back for more bags – both because I didn’t quite get it all covered yesterday, and also to get some reinforcements for a few wool sweaters that live in my closet. Protection is the name of the game!

New stash

I’m willing to still leave a few stashed skeins loose and visible in each cubby, because it’s pretty like that and still reminds me of a few projects’ worth of yarn at a time. But man oh man I am going to sleep better at night knowing there’s at least a thin layer of plastic protecting this stuff. This is almost a decade’s worth of yarn collecting right here.

Some of it, like the Louet Riverstone worsted (below) and the Green Mountain Spinnery ‘wonderfully wooly’ worsted (top), are now discontinued yarns and I won’t be able to buy them again. It’s reassuring to know I bought enough of them at the time to be able to get a full sweater out of each of them. A lot of yarn world is steady and seems like it’ll go on forever supplying the same yarns over and over, but really, none of yarn world lasts forever. It’s the sort of thing that makes me feel OK about having a stash in the first place.


I still like these yarns. If there are things in my stash that I genuinely know I won’t use or feel uncertain about keeping, I will give them away or donate them and I will sleep well after doing so. But the ones I enjoy and want to keep dreaming about projects for, I like keeping. I’ve got a lot of yarn and I’m okay with that.

In fact, bagging everything up yesterday made me feel pretty good about most of what I own, and I remembered a lot of project ideas that went along with various purchases. Right now, if I could do nothing but knit sweaters from stash for a month or two, that would be all right with me. Yarrrrn.

From the stash

Really, this is something I should have done ages ago and I’m lucky to have this much yarn go unscathed for so long.

Do you have a yarn protection system in place? How do you organize your stash?

Happy knitting this Monday afternoon!




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Eye on the stash

Lately I’ve been enjoying pulling more yarn from the stash, especially as I work on this stockinette sweater project – it’s a cardigan and apullover…and oh heck, I might as well do a second pullover in a different yarn, just for fun. And while I’m at it probably a second cardigan, since the first cardigan might feel lonely.


Stockinette projects move so much faster (I do not know why I’ve neglected them, I need more of them in my life clearly) than my more typical cables-all-the-time approach to knitting life. I caught myself thinking the other day that I could just cast on that second cardigan this weekend, even though I’m only halfway through the current pullover, and then the immediate “oh Glenna don’t be ridiculous” reflex kicked in.

But then I realized that, wait, this is stockinette, and I have a holiday weekend coming up with lots of knitting time planned, and if I play my train commuter time right this week all that adds up to higher probability of actually getting a new cast on item.

Eye on the stash

So in that case, the dark blue Cascade 220 I pulled off the shelf last week may not have been so naievely selected after all. (And okay, some Koigu sock yarn in there too, because that’s only reasonable).

Already can’t wait for my weekend of knitting. Stash-busting ahoy!

Happy Wednesday, knitter friends!



Pattern: Personal cardigan pattern, completion/release TBD
Yarn: Cascade 220 heathers, ‘summer sky heather’ #9452



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Reset to stockinette

As the July cards continue to shuffle themselves out and I resume a still not entirely normal schedule (though admittedly better than the week immediately following vacation at the beginning of the month), I’ve been getting a reasonable amount of knitting done. Partly this is due to concerted efforts at Getting Knitting Done Because It Is Relaxing, but also because I’ve assigned myself relatively simple projects for the moments.


Cabled projects are swirling around in my head at the moment, but I’m letting them continue to swirl while I knit away on a stockinette sweater and some plain ribbed socks. The sweater (above) is a cardigan version of the stockinette pullover I finished last month, of my own brain and for a planned fall release. It’s a simple sweater pattern intended to be an approachable knit as well as a comfortable wardrobe staple. I wanted to make sure I knitted one of each of the pullover & cardigan versions, and am going to knit myself at least one more pullover I think. (Partly to reassure myself of the instructions, but mostly because I want more sweaters for my fall closet. Ah, selfish knitting.)



I have also started on pair #5 of Socks From Stash (unofficial theme of Glenna’s Sock Knitting 2014), in a nice skein of Socks That Rock mediumweight purchased at some Rhinebeck excursion some time in the past. Nice thing about mediumweight is that the yarn is a bit heavier so it needs fewer stitches to make a sock. A couple of weeks worth of transit riding and boom, socks. That’s how we do that.

How is your summer knitting going so far, dear knitters? No doubt the patio season will be over before we know it, better get the deck chairs and wine glasses at the ready.

Happy knitting!


Pattern: Personal cardigan pattern, completion/release TBD
Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca, ‘redwood mix’

Pattern: A Nice Ribbed Sock (by me), modified for 56 sts instead of 64
Yarn: Socks That Rock lightweight from Blue Moon Fiber Arts, ‘Valkyrie Fledge’ colourway




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July, what’s up?

So, I spent the first week of July in California (San Francisco area) and it was lovely and sunny and pleasant temperatures, and I was fully prepared to come back and report on how I made it to a yarn store even though I hadn’t originally thought I would (2 skeins of Madelinetosh sock followed me home from Article Pract in Oakland – I couldn’t very well buy only one and leave the other one all lonely, now could I?).

Madtosh sock

And I was also going to talk about how I got to see Lake Tahoe for a bit, and it’s just as pretty and alpine as everybody says (there are photos of it somewhere on a camera, um…somewhere…), and even with a cell phone camera it still looks like this:


Then I was going to say that I even got some reading in (although it turns out that even if you read a tidy 50 pages a day for a week you will still only be halfway through The Luminaries, but it’s an engaging read so that’s not bad) which meant that most of the knitting I got done was my latest Lorna’s Laces jaywalkers. They’re done now though, and are pair #4 of this year’s sock drawer replenishment. (I may need to start doing more careful sorting of the sock drawer to make sure they all fit in there).


What actually happened is that I arrived home to discover, in my (and everyone else in the household’s) absence, that a toilet hose had gleefully disconnected itself and caused a whole bunch of damage. So then for a while I wasn’t actually living in my house, and here we are 2 weeks later and the repairs are hopefully actually starting soon.

So it’s been a rather disorienting couple of weeks, but I have at least had the knitting in hand which is a good thing, and maybe August won’t be so bad? Let’s hope.

I hope you have a good Monday, knitter friends!


Pattern: Jaywalkers (Ravelry link), pattern by Grumperina originally featured on Magknits, now free on Ravelry
Yarn: Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock, in ‘ghoul’s gala’ colourway, now re-released as ‘ascot




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And then you get a shawl

So it turns out that after just ten months of entirely undedicated and sporadic (mostly in movie theatres) knitting, and then a final push for about a week, ta da! You can get a finished Pi Shawl.


This is my 3rd one of these, and definitely not my last. It’s an extremely versatile pattern, this thing that Elizabeth Zimmerman dreamed up. You can do it in almost any weight of yarn you want, and just follow the instructions until it’s as big as you want it to be. This is my 2nd one in sock yarn (aka fingering weight yarn) and I sort of want one in every colour (It’s nice to have long-term knitted wardrobe ambitions). I enjoyed wearing my last one as a spring accessory for chilly mornings, and this muted purple will be a nice versatile neutral colour for all kinds of situations.

The Pi Shawl, for real, is an extremely accessible pattern. Like many of EZ’s patterns it exists mostly as a set of guidelines that can be modified in different ways – her pattern instructions come with a lace panel version and this eyelet one that I’ve done (every 6th round is [k2tog, yo], producing a basic lace effect). If that’s too complicated, then all you really have to do is keep knitting around and around in a circle and doing increase rounds (which all go [k1, yo], repeat) in the order the pattern tells you. If you can knit in a circle, you can make a Pi Shawl.



I enjoy that this shawl is fairly simple to execute on a technical level, because what it is really asking of you is not so much skill as emotional commitment. Everyone I know who’s done one of these eventually gets to a point where it has become All Too Much and it feels like it’s never going to end. In my experience this also happens about right before the point when it feels like It Might Actually End After All, and then you reach down into the depths of your soul and pull out the momentum you need to get it done. And then you get a finished shawl.

Possibly the only part with any complexity is the knitted edging to finish it all, but even then it can be just garter stitch (I didn’t even do a selvedge slipped stitch at the edge, eh, I said and threw caution to the wind). Even if it’s a new skill for you there, it goes on for long enough that you’ve got plenty of time to get past the ‘hey this is a new thing’ phase to move into the ‘this has been going on forever when will it end’ phase, and then once again you’re basically back to the Perseverance > Technical Skill level. I enjoy that about Pi Shawls, I tells ya.



Super great. Probably by fall I’ll be starting a new one. Maybe in chocolate brown. Or bright red. Or both. Or maybe I’ll start on square shawls instead of circles, just for variety. (I may need help).

I hope it’s pleasant summer weather where you are. I’ve been enjoying the environs of San Francisco this week (these Pi Shawl photos courtesy of a friend’s cabin in the mountains south of Tahoe, where it is gorgeous), and it has been sunny and mild and not nearly the stifling humidity of Southern Ontario – it’ll be a bit whimpery to head back on Monday. But a bit more vacation time shall be mine, first. Cue up the sock knitting in the mean time!

Happy shawl (or other projects) adventuring! Keep knitting and eventually they’ll get finished, as it turns out.

[P.S. – for those of you wondering how I wear a circular shawl, here’s me with my 2nd one.]



Pattern: Pi Shawl (July shawl), directions in Knitter’s Almanac by Elizabeth Zimmerman
Yarn: Malabrigo Sock, in ‘eggplant’ (3.5 skeins and 5.0mm needles yielded a 5’9″-ish wingspan circle)




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