Biting off more than I can chew

Mr. Jones and I have packed up our belongings and are currently surrounded by boxes as we wait for next weekend’s move—one he’ll be gallantly undertaking solo, as I have a prior commitment/am skipping town to go hang out with my family.

My sewing machine and knitting needles went into boxes earlier this week, along with the mostly finished wedding shawl I’ve been working on. Turns out this “making things” thing is quite the addiction: today I broke down and headed to Gather Here to buy yarn for a sweater.


Because what I need right now, on top of the move and the trip to Kansas and wedding planning and the 85 DIY projects that come along with that, is to try my hand at a brand new, gigantic knitting project. (Though honestly, it is sort of what I need—I’m finding myself antsy at the end of the day, my hands empty (everything is packed!) and my brain spinning. Turns out knitting is great for keeping me just occupied enough that I can relax. You, too?)

Around noon today I looked around and realized that everything that can be packed was packed, and I had nothing to do. Solution: get on Ravelry and find something to add to my to-do list. Clearly.

I stumbled across Flax, one of eight free patterns in The Simple Collection by Tin Can Knits. Flax is a pullover sweater, knitted from the top down, mostly in stockinette. Assuming I can figure out how to separate out the sleeves, this should be an easy, mostly mindless project to keep my hands busy when my brain has short circuited from responsibility overload.

Did I mention it’s pretty? It’s very pretty.

gauge swatch

(Please ignore the safety pins; proper pins are already in moving boxes.)

Overwhelmed by life, and fuzziness

This blog has fallen casualty to wedding preparations, an unexpected last-minute move, and the fact that most of my crafting lately has been for gifting purposes, and therefore isn’t yet publicly shareable.

But: I have been making headway on something lovely.

Since I decided to get married in a strapless dress in November in New England (brrr), I’ve been looking for something to wear over my wedding dress to keep me warm. The options feel infinite:

After waffling between rose gold sequin explosions, bright pea coats, and a slew of wool shrugs/scarves/cowls/shawls, I finally decided on Jami Brynildson’s Braided Cable Hug, which I stumbled across on Ravelry.

Thick, soft cables: check. Maximum fuzziness: check. Warm enough to withstand whatever Maine’s winter might throw at me: check.

I picked up some extra soft ivory yarn at a Gather Here crafters’ brunch last month and got a couple of inches in before I accidentally skipped a row and hard to start over. I frogged it (NEW KNITTING LINGO!) and started over the next day, then promptly did the same thing again. In the meantime, I fell in love with a photograph of a similar knitted piece that had three large cables and one smaller cable, so I decided to rewrite the pattern a bit to see if I could adjust it. Verdict: success! I can’t get over how easy this has been to knit, or how soft and chunky and fuzzy it is.

Once the cables are done, which should happen this weekend, comes the hard part (for me): grafting together and picking up stitches, neither of which I’ve done before. I’m looking forward to learning some new skills, and also a bit sad that I’m almost done with this project. I’ve loved working with this yarn, learning how to cable, and watching my work grow. Can’t wait to wet block it and see how the end product looks.

Isla Wrap, part 1

When I finished my hat on Thursday I panicked a little—whatever to knit next? and what will I take to work on at the Gather Here brunch?!?—but (with a little push from a friend) decided the Isla Wrap (free pattern here), a sort of capelet/cowl/shoulder covering thing, would be a good way to teach myself circular knitting. Bonus: I could add stripes and learn how to switch yarns mid-project. Hooray!

I did things right-ish this time and actually knitted a test swatch, given that I ignored the pattern’s instructions about yarn weight and bought a worsted weight instead of a sport weight yarn (REBEL. Or maybe I just don’t know what I’m doing. Also, check out my fancy new knitting lingo!).

Isla Wrap test swatch

So far so good. The pattern specifies that “the blocked gauge of 4 inches squared is approximately 17 stitches across by 27 rows long.” Mine was 16 stitches by 19 rows, assuming I counted correctly. So I decided to make the small, following the pattern exactly, and I expect it to turn out a bit bigger (knock on wood), which is perfect because I’m actually in the medium size range. (If not, my niece is getting a sweet capelet!)

I ended up spending almost three hours at the Gather brunch talking about everything from Francoist Spain to jogging strollers to 3D printing (in other words, it was awesome and you should all totally go), after which things looked like this:

Isla Wrap

(Yes, that is an old episode of Sherlock in the background. Yes, it is as amazing the second time around.)

I made a quick trip to the Cambridge Quilt Shop on my way home to pick up fabric to finally bind the pink and gold quilt—another post for another day—then came home and knitted. And knitted. And knitted.

Isla Wrap

And now I have stripes! I’m amazed at how quickly this is coming together, though I did spend probably four focused hours of knitting on it (six-ish total, maybe, with chatting and Sherlock-ing). The circular needles—I’m using 29″ Clover bamboo needles in size 8—took a while to get used to (the plasticky cable is still fairly stiff and twisty, despite my attempts to soften it with hot water), but once I had around ten rounds on them, things started to lay correctly and make more sense.

And the stripes? So easy. I don’t know why I thought this was a crazy SuperKnitter skill. Others have explained it better, but you basically knot the new yarn around the old yarn and then start using it. Magic.

I made a hat!

You guys: my head is so. Warm.

Cobblestone Cap

This is possibly cooler than the time I made a dress, considering how soft and fuzzy the yarn swaddling my head right now is.

Despite my noise about falling behind and being overwhelmed by projects, this actually came together fairly quickly: a couple of hours while watching TV, a stint at the new office knitting club, and half an hour tonight to finish the last two rows, cinch up the top, sew up the edge, and snap a few hasty photos before dusk.

I definitely made mistakes—at one point I must have either knitted the same row twice or skipped a row, as part of the hat is knitted inside out. I (very) briefly debated ripping it out, but I decided I didn’t really care. Same with sewing up the seam: I looked this up, then realized I couldn’t really tell the different between the purl loops and the knit loops and the bottom loops and the top loops, so I winged it.

Despite this, though: it fits! On my head! And is warm and soft and comfortable! And is, recognizably so, a hat!

UPDATE: I’m on Ravelry! As are my detailed notes on this lovely Cozy Cobblestone Cap.

Ganging aft agley

So many beautiful plans I’ve made, and so little time I’ve spent working on them. I’m writing this mostly to give myself a firm nudge by publicly committing to making beautiful things, rather than just dreaming about them.

So: work continues on the hat, which at this point looks like a slightly misshapen rectangle (I started with 84 stitches—I swear, I counted them thrice—but found myself working with over 90 the other day. How?) and has barely escaped the clutches of my overly curious cats multiple times over the past few weeks. (My beautifully wound ball of yarn is now an unwound tangle, thanks to them.) I’m nearly at the finish line, I think, and am hoping to be even closer after tackling the last few dozen rows at tomorrow’s office knitting club and again at Saturday’s Crafter’s Brunch at Gather Here (do you go to this? do you want to go? I’m thinking about bringing muffins to help introduce myself and convince people there to be nice to me and teach me how to properly cast off).

knitting progress

Work also continues(-ish) on the peach and gold quilt, which I thought I had blogged about much more but am now realizing I haven’t. To catch you up:

This is the first quilt I ever started making, thanks to the “Start Quilting” class at Cambridge Quilt Shop. It was relegated to the back burner while I rushed through the Quilts for Kids quilt, but I finished the top over a month ago, pieced together the backing without having to buy any new fabric (quite proud of this), and finally sandwiched it together a week or so ago. I’m looking forward to finishing it, which seems like it will mark my transition from someone who made a quilt once to someone who actually makes quilts, plural.

Other upcoming projects: a chenille blanket, another simple four-patch quilt, a Noodlehead Super Tote to protect future knitting projects from inquisitive kitties, a Zippy Top or two from See Kate Sew, and something still TBD for the Umbrella Prints 2014 trimmings competition, which is due May 30 so should probably be bumped nearer to the top of the list.

Typing it all out now is a bit overwhelming, but I suppose that’s all the more reason to start?