Wash day

Occasionally in the course of blogging about knitting-related things, I get asked how I wash the things I knit. After about ten years of producing knitted things that get worn, I’ve gotten a bit of practice washing them (and I do indeed like to wash the things I wear), and actually it turns out that this is not a terribly complicated thing to do. The internet is full of advice on things like this, but here’s what I do.

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First, I’ve stopped bothering to pre-sort my laundry into knitted things and non-knitted things. I realized that what would happen is that I would shove the non-knitted (i.e. “regular”) laundry into the washing machine first, and then by the time it came around to deal with the knitted stuff it was all too easy to get lazy and post-pone it another week. Which you can get away with, of course, if you’ve got enough socks and sweaters, but it does pile up. Instead I sort things at the time of doing the laundry, and knitted things get put into the sink with a dose of Soakwash or Eucalan. The nice thing about Soak and similar products is that they are intended to be used literally to soak your knitted things. You don’t need to wash and rinse, you really do just squeeze it into the sink (or tub, depending on how much you’re washing) and let it foam up, and dunk your sweaters and socks in and let them sit for a bit. Then you drain the sink and squeeze out the water.

Once I’ve squeezed out as much of the water as I possibly can, I let the items air dry on a drying rack in the laundry area. For sweaters I lay them as flat as I can. I really do need to up my game on this, and I’m embarrassed to admit that it was only just last year I learned that such sweater drying systems as this one exist in the world, and now I want one.
Waiting for the stuff to dry still takes a day or two, but again, at least I’ve got backup stuff to wear.

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I did used to save up all my socks and run them with my other delicates in the washing machine on the delicates cycle, but I found that they started to felt a little bit over time, and my attrition rate of handknit socks went up too quickly for my liking so I stopped doing that. Your mileage may vary, of course, but after a few mishaps with washing machines over time, I’ve stopped using them for my handknits if I can at all help it.

Related to this is, of course, the issue of ‘pilling’, and I wrote a post about that a couple of years ago that you might find useful if this is the first time you’ve happened upon this issue. Rest assured that you will most likely encounter pilling on your garments the more you wear them, and that even if you are very gentle and careful and methodical about your washing, the pilling will still happen – probably in the same places on the same kinds of garments. It’s not even necessarily a result of how good the yarn is, but just a fact of life when it comes to wearing things. Your commercial knits will pill too.

If I’m really in a bind and I need something to dry fast (like if I’m sending off a design sample for a deadline), I will lay it out on blocking mats in front of a fan overnight and that usually takes care of it. But if I can help it I like things to air dry.

Do you have favourite tools or tips for washing your knits? If you’ve ever had a mishap, no doubt you’ve ended up with quite a few best practices of your own through learned experience – it’s a badge of knitter honour.

Happy knitting this Monday!

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Sweater weather

I looked at the calendar the other day and realized February is next week, which seems strange, and yet the holidays feel very far away at the same time so I suppose those two things go hand in hand. It also turns out that if you do continuously knit away on a project, it will get knitted, which also requires passage of time, go figure?

Ossel-Jan27

I may yet knit myself out of Moss Stitch Island, which is a prospect that thrill me to no end. My Ossel dress now has more than half of its back done, and while it is entirely possible that I over-estimated how much length to add/modify before starting the waist shaping (this is worked bottom up, and I’m 5’9″), if I end up with a slightly higher waisted dress I am still good with that. I think once I get the front started I might find a new gear in the momentum. Maybe I’ll even get to wear this before spring? I’m dreaming big.

Pullover-Jan27

New Pullover Design is also moving along, and has both a back and most of a front which is extremely exciting. I’m especially looking forward to having this done because it is a wool/silk blend from Julie Asselin and the silk content is going to make it that extra little bit warmer in the cold months.

There’s a couple more months of sweater weather around here and I plan to take advantage of it! I hope you’re able to do the same, if you’ve got snow outside of your door.

Happy knitting this week!

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Pattern: Ossel, by Allison Green for Twist Collective
Yarn: Cascade 220 Heathers, #8401 Silver Grey

Pattern: In progress, by me
Yarn: Julie Asselin Leizu Worsted, in ‘moussaillon’ grey/purple

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Whirlwind weekend

I spent last weekend in the company of many other knitters at the Vogue Knit Live workshops in New York City, and it was an enjoyable whirlwind. I was at one of the very first of these weekends four years ago in New York, and my fellow knitter friend Lisa suggested we go again. Knitting tourism weekends definitely break up the winter monotony pretty well. The part where I endeavoured to share New York tourist sites with what felt like every single other human being on the planet (Saturday of a long weekend, heh) was perhaps less adviseable, but on the other hand I did get to see the Met and do some pretty significant city walking. Also, I must express my admiration for the New York institution of weekend brunch, and would like to adopt this practice into my life more frequently. (Fried things and boozy drinks before noon? Or all day? Why am I not doing this every weekend.)

IPad for Knitting Design

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I was lucky enough to have 2 classes on Friday with Norah Gaughan, who I have never met but whose designs I have admired for a long time. I took her iPad for Knitting Design class in the morning (there we are all blurrily learning from her which apps to download while using the free hotel lobby WiFi – protip, Sketchbook Express is delightful), and Modern Sweater Styles in the afternoon. The timing could not have been better, as I have more time on my hands to spend on design work (unemployment will do that for you) at the moment, so I now have a few new ideas to work on. Norah is a great teacher.

I also took a class in top-down sweater knitting with Kristina McGowan, who is also delightful, and I may in fact be inspired to knit more than one top-down sweater as a result. Bottom-up is still my comfort zone, but I would like to stretch my skills a bit and am hoping to put to use what we learned in these classes in the coming year.

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Death Becomes Her

Chelsea Market

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I imagine living in a Vogue Knit Live city (LA and Chicago have also been frequent hosts) must be a pretty lucky situation for knitters. But of course learning can happen any time any where, so I am also going to make sure I don’t ignore the technique books I have on my shelf. Keeping your skills fresh is so important.

I hope your Thursday has some knitting in it! Until next time, friends.

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Moss stitch island

This weekend I triumphantly finished the sleeves on my Ossel dress in progress, which I made sure to complete before doing the body. I like getting the sleeves out of the way first if I can, because it’s a nice safe re-indication of gauge if for some reason my swatch was way off, and then when you later finish the body you can actually feel the accomplishment of being almost done, rather than the sagging realization that you’re only about 2/3 done or so.

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I started on the back next, partly because it’s all moss stitch and no cabling, so that means the more interesting piece (the front, with cables all down the centre) will up on deck at the time when I am most likely to be flagging due to boredom. I also like doing the back first because, again, in the event of a gauge mishap, it is easier to recover from a too-small back (you just make the front a bit bigger – proportionally there is often likely to be more of you on the front than on the back) than a too-small front, so here I am.

I’m a few inches in to the back, which on a sweater would normally be close to starting the decreases to shape the waist. Because this is a dress and not a sweater, though, I have about a zillion more inches (approximately) to go before I start the decreases for the waist, so I guess I’ll be here on moss stitch island for a while.

Good thing I’ve got some travel knitting time coming up! I am lucky enough to be headed to Vogue Knitting Live NYC this weekend for workshops and a bit of tourist time, and am glad I booked it months ago for a New Year’s surprise. I just have to, uh, pack. And knit some swatches for homework. Minor details, details.

Stay warm and cozy, knitter friends!

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Pattern: Ossel, by Allison Green for Twist Collective
Yarn: Cascade 220 Heathers, #8401 Silver Grey

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Knitting as usual

The first week of January is coming to an end and it’s odd how quickly the holidays have faded – it feels like it should be much farther along than January 9th! But I’m quite all right with having more knitting time ahead in the month, because I’d like to finish something new at the beginning of 2015, and there are no shortage of things to work on. In addition to considering some Unfinished Projects cast aside in 2014 and (gulp) earlier, I’ve got other design ideas kicking around in my head that have been there for a few months.

At least one of them is moving forward though, as the swatches from last week are starting to take shape in actual knitted form. I’m enjoying how this is coming together so far, and am planning some time with it this weekend for sure.

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My Pi Shawl is also still hovering patiently in the background. I took it out for a spin to a viewing of The Imitation Game last weekend (and later managed to recover some dropped stitches done in the last few minutes of dark theatre knitting, phew), so if I can make it out to some more flicks pre-Oscars then I think this might have a shot at being done by the spring. Pi Shawls, you can’t knit just one, am I right?

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I hope you’re getting some nice knitting time in for you as well this coming weekend – especially if you have a lot of holiday knitting to recover from. Happy Friday!

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Pattern: In progress, by me
Yarn: Julie Asselin Leizu Worsted, in ‘moussaillon’ grey/purple

Pattern: Pi Shawl (“July shawl”, instructions with many variations in Knitter’s Almanac by Elizabeth Zimmerman)
Yarn: Miss Babs Kathadin, colourway ‘holy moly’
Needles: 4.5mm/US #7 circulars

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Let’s do this

Hi there, January, I’ve been waiting for you.

You see, back in December I knitted myself a super quick and super warm garter stitch cowl, and then for weeks we actually had quite mild temperatures (Christmas was grey and rainy rather than cold and snowy), so I didn’t get to wear it for almost a month after knitting it. But January is here, and me and this cowl are going to get through the -20C or whatever you are going to throw at us. Well, me and the cowl and a down coat and some Sorel boots. But the cowl is the REAL piece of the puzzle here.

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This is what you can do with a single skein of Cascade Magnum, a pair of 12mm/US#17 needles, and about 1.5 movies on Netflix worth of time. Pretty great. It’s this sort of project that makes people go crazy for the bulky weight yarn in December – quick project, quick gift, and SO WARM.

My friend Bridget at my former Peterborough LYS made herself one of these last winter, and I wanted one too. She gave me permission to share it with you fine folks as well! Mine is a slightly modified version of hers, but here’s what I did.

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Take your skein of Cascade Magnum or equivalent yardage of another super bulky yarn, some 12mm/US#17 or so needles (Bridget used 15mm).
Cast on 22 sts.
Work every row as follows: Slip 1, knit 20, purl 1.
Repeat until it is as long as you want, or until you almost run out of yarn.
Sew that sucker up as nicely or as not nicely as you like.

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And that’s it, voila! You have a cowl I love mine. I would be lying if I said I hadn’t considered making another one, just for the satisfaction of it.

I hope your first Monday of the New Year is as painless as possible. Stay warm, knitter friends!

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New year new knits

We’re two days into 2015, and while it feels (so far) pretty similar to 2014, it is very nice to have a few days of relative quiet to ease from holiday time to regular world time. I’m still pondering my own resolutions for 2015 (I can’t say that I was very diligent about any in 2014, I must admit), but a blog reader reminded me of this list of advice I posted one year ago, and I think it’s still pretty good. I daresay I need to take my own advice on that list more often than not!

Ossel-Jan1

My knitting year is starting off at a gentle yet promising pace. I cast on for Ossel as my Christmas Day Cast On (this is my second year planning a Christmas Cast On as a gift to myself, and I think I will keep it up in the future), and I’m about 1.5 sleeves into it. It’s going well so far and my swatch did yield the right gauge before I started, which I hope will be confirmed by the sleeves before I begin the body. I have never knitted a dress before, but have always thought it would be an extremely practical thing to do especially with Ontario winters being as they are. I’ll have to do a bit of planning and measuring to figure out how long I want the skirt of it to be (I am 5’9″ and I always assume the pattern sample is for someone shorter than me), but other than that it’s quite an approachable pattern and I hope I’ll be able to wear it later this same season.

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I’ve also got some fresh new swatches in some new-to-me yarn from Julie Asselin, Leizu Worsted wool-silk blend. They’re going to become a sweater and, I daresay, my first design of 2015. I’m looking forward to seeing the swatches grow up and become the pullover they deserve to be, because the yarn is pretty great so far. (We’ll just pay no attention to the fact that it’s another purple/grey sweater. I’m going to just lean into it. Perhaps I’m just destined to be at one with this colour.)

Since I finished my Joist pullover in December, I’ve also started to turn my eye to some of the unfinished Works In Progress that are waiting patiently on the sidelines, so I’d like to get back to some of them this month too. It’s nice to have a New Year with a blank slate.

I hope your New Year is starting out well – happy knitting with your fresh calendar in front of you!

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Pattern: Ossel, by Allison Green for Twist Collective
Yarn: Cascade 220 Heathers, #8401 Silver Grey
Project Bag: Zig Zag Stitches, large “shawl size” wedge bag

Pattern: In progress, by me
Yarn: Julie Asselin Leizu Worsted, in ‘moussaillon’ grey/purple

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