The Poncho, Baby

Or maybe it’s a wrap.

Either way. It’s done.

A simple poncho knit from a seamed rectangle.Now, I’ll be honest. This is my first “poncho.” I kinda cheated. It’s a seamed rectangle. This may or may not technically qualify as a poncho. Call it will you will. I like it.

It’s like a shawl. That you don’t have to wrap around and situate just so. It will never fall off your shoulders. It stays put. Like a blanket that you wear, but better. More stylish.

I love this thing, and I already know that I am going to live in it just as soon as the temperature drops this fall.

(Speaking of ponchos, did you see the pattern Drea Renee just released? Oh my goodness. I swoon. This will definitely be on my forthcoming Fall Bucket List of must knits. Seriously. Check it out.)

A simple poncho knit from a seamed rectangle.

This poncho wrap thing is knit in a DK weight 100% alpaca. The pattern is sized small through extra large, which will require 700 to 1,300 yards (640 to 1,189 meters) of yarn.

The pattern itself requires cabling. I found this stressful at first but quickly learned (based on reader encouragement) to cable without a cable needle. The pattern includes my own personal technique for this little trick, although many methods exist on YouTube and other handy digital knitting references.

A simple poncho knit from a seamed rectangle.

Seaming is easy (the mattress stich), and there is a wee bit of I-cord finishing. Nothing too intense.

A simple poncho knit from a seamed rectangle.

I LOVE the neckline. Perfect drape. No weird rolling or folding.

A simple poncho knit from a seamed rectangle.

I’m on the prowl for testers, so shoot me an email if you are interested. Yarn substitutions are fine. The pattern has already been tech edited. I learned this the HARD WAY during my last test knit when I sent out the first version of the pattern written for back and forth knitting when it was supposed to be knit in the round. I fainted. Seriously. Most mortifying moment ever when I realized my mistake. NEVER AGAIN. (My email address is on the Contact tab at the top of the page. Thanks!)

With a little luck (and hard work) the pattern will be ready for release this fall.

The Camping Socks

The camping socks are done. They’ve been everywhere. The ocean. The river. The lake. All pretty places. A lot of memories for one pair of socks over the course of the past month.

They were a surprise, really. Not on my sock-knitting agenda, at least not until I ran out of yarn and had to make a spontaneous purchase: Queensland Australia sock yarn. It was the color palette that grabbed me. (I wasn’t entirely pleased with the unblended color transition after picking up stitches post-heel turn, but such is life.)

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This is my first pair of simple stockinette socks. A bit of ribbing at the top and then KNIT KNIT KNIT. They were a quick project as a result. I used a combination of Hermione’s Everyday Sock and Blueberry Waffles for the heel (both free patterns). I rather like stockinette sock knitting and just might do it again sometime soon. Translation: I will ABSOLUTELY be doing this again ASAP.

It’s forecast to break 100°F (37.8°C) here later this week, so I don’t think I will be wearing the new socks for a while. They will, however, be a nice treat come fall.

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Joining Ginny’s Yarn Along and reading the last novel of the Neapolitan Series (The Story of the Lost Child). I also just started The Nest, an e-book from the library. (Not affiliate links…)

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*Prize yarn for the Olympic Knit-Along is in the mail! I can’t wait for it to arrive so I can share it along with all the details. Keep practicing (knit, knit, and knit some more!) and be sure to join the group for This Knitted Life group on Ravelry so you can be part of the fun and win some good stuff.

As Simple As They Come

Finally. No drama. Something worked.

Okay, a little bit of drama. There was one frogging (too short), one minor panic when I ran out of yarn on the cast off (I used my swatch and came out with a bit to spare), and one incident where I couldn’t find the kitchen scale to figure out how much handspun this baby requires (I borrowed a friends. She also provided wine. It worked out.)

Now, to be clear, I can’t take credit for this lovely handspun. Spinning isn’t my thing (yet). It’s from our friend Beth. I’ve mentioned her before a couple of times. She’s cool. She has sheep and heavy equipment. And motorcycles. I also hear she plays a mean game of golf, but I don’t golf so I couldn’t really attest to that bit. But I believe it.

This is a simple crescent shawl. My own little concoction in-the-works. It’s has a garter edge with a super duper basic stockinette middle (short-row shaping).

It’s all about the yarn, baby. No frills. Just sheep.A simple crescent-shaped shawlette knit with handspun yarn. This is a one skein wonder. I estimate it was 320 yards (293 m) on size 6 needles.A simple crescent-shaped shawlette knit with handspun yarn. Here’s the thing I can’t quite get over: I think I prefer the WRONG side. The purl side. I NEVER like the purl side. The color blends look more exciting to me on the wrong side though.

I guess this is what they mean by reversible?A simple crescent-shaped shawlette knit with handspun yarn. I actually wish I had knit the whole darn thing in garter. This isn’t my typical style, but I think garter is much more suited to the yarn and color transitions. I was a bit weary of doing short rows with garter, but now I know it’s possible.

So…I am on the hunt for more yarn. For an all-garter version. If anyone has a lead on something similar in someone’s random Etsy shop, please let me know in the comments. I’m looking for single ply with a gauge about 5 stitches/in on size 6 needles…Similar color variation. The yarn had a lot of texture, ranging from fat bits to super skinny bits.A simple crescent-shaped shawlette knit with handspun yarn.

Okay Internet, I’m counting on you. I need more yarn. Please deliver.

*P.S. There’s a new weekly chat up in my Ravelry Group. Join the fun if you haven’t already.

**P.P.S. Don’t forget. Olympic knitting fun starting in just a few weeks (or so). Details next week. Practice. Practice. Practice.

Home

Pre-S: There’s a new weekly chat up in This Knitted Life’s Ravelry Group. Check it out.

I’ll be quick because we’ve only just returned home, and I am knee deep in The Aftermath of the big trip. I will say this: there was fishing and hiking and camp-cooked meals. There was even sliding on the snow, in July no less. imageAnd there was lot’s of driving. (Reed took the driving shot with my phone…clever, three-year-olds are these days…). imageI did sneak in some sock knitting. (Yes, that’s wine in the blue cup… If you are wondering why there is no chocolate pictured, it’s in my mouth.) I almost finished the pair, nearing the final rows that lead up to the toe decrease. I was fretting bit, trying to match the length of the first just so. That’s the one tricky bit about a simple, stockinette sock: the beginning of the toe decrease isn’t quite as obvious. It can hide a bit. imageI was in my best knitting place. Happy. Nature. Wine. Campfire. Sleeping child. Feeling quite overconfident, actually. I had the in-progress sock on the right foot, and I was trying to juggle everything to get the finished sock on the left foot, for comparison purposes.

That’s where it all went wrong. Just the slightest bit of weight on the needles and crack.image

We tried to tape it back together and carry on. We really did*. I almost broke out our emergency super glue, but I knew it wouldn’t hold either.

So that was that. I am now the proud owner of an almost-finished sock. New needles expected to arrive in the mail Thursday. (I followed Julie’s advice. They are metal.)

Good thing I had my back up project. It’s a baby hat** bonanza around here these days. I have four on the list, and I plan to knit them all at once. image I am joining the Yarn Along this week. I am book three (Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay) of the Neapolitan Novels and Just Can’t Stop. So good! I also listened to the audio version of Modern Lovers during our five zillion hours of driving. Also fabulous.

*Forgive the repeated photos if you follow along on Instagram or Facebook…I’m behind on photography and camera downloads!

**This a modified (read: mistakes were made) version of the garter earflap hat from Purl Soho. I have knit this one several times before love it. Free pattern.

Knitting in Southeast Asia

No, I am not in Southeast Asia. I wish I was in Southeast Asia. Instead, I am in Lassen National Park, likely being attacked by mosquitoes. It’s probably great there too, although less exotic for my tastes. I would venture to guess the food in Southeast Asia is better than whatever I decide to whip up  burn while camping.

Since I am currently groaning about all the rocks under my sleeping pad (a sure bet), I have a guest post lined up for you today. Susanne is a woman after my own heart. She is backpacking through Southeast Asia, with her knitting no less. Seriously. I swoon with envy. Susanne has a beautiful blog over at Wooly Ventures. Please do take the time to visit her lovely site. If you are like me and likely not able to embark on anything quite so adventurous at present, we can live vicariously through Susanne together.


Hello! I’m Susanne, and I’ve been knitting my way through Southeast Asia for the last four months.

Southeast Asia has an incredibly rich history of fiber arts, with batik dyeing in Indonesia, silk weavers in Thailand, and so much more. But knitting? It’s a bit harder to come by. Despite this, every so often while browsing through a souvenir filled stall, I’ll spot a hand knit sweater or hat, evidence that there are indeed knitters in this tropical corner of the world.

But where do we find these mysterious knitters? Here are a few of my favorite ways to discover the knitting underworld of Southeast Asia.

Knitting Shops

I’ll be honest, it’s not as easy to find knitting related stores as you might find in North America or Europe. Nevertheless, craft stores do exist. They tend to stock less wool and more cotton and linen or acrylic yarns (which makes sense as it is mostly too hot for wool anyways).

Go to craft shops and any knitting related stores you can find. This can sometimes be difficult, especially if you are not in the bigger cities such as Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok.

Some knitting stores to start with include:

Side note: Packing your yarn stash

When I packed my bags for Southeast Asia, I brought about 500 g of yarn, so as not to over pack (trust me, I wanted to bring more). Fast forward a few months later, and I am nearing the end of said stash. It’s not that it’s impossible to find yarn while traveling in Southeast Asia, but it does require some determination to do so. The larger capital cities such as Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, and Jakarta will almost certainly have at least one knitting store or two.

The tricky part lies in finding the type of yarn that you need for your project. I found yarns with cotton, acrylics, and linen to be relatively easy to find in the larger cities. Luxury yarns however, such as alpaca and yak wool can be harder to find.

To avoid disappointment, make sure to bring more than enough yarn to finish any projects you are working on.

Show off your knitting as much as possible

Knit whenever, and wherever you can. Most often, locals will be curious and interested about what you are making. I met more than a few locals in Bali who approached me simply to ask what I was doing! They had never seen knitting before but were very interested all the same.

Knit your way through Southeast Asia.

Some of my favorite spots to knit are:

  • On top of mountains, where the temperatures are nice and cool,
  • Anywhere with air conditioning (i.e. buses, trains, shopping malls, cafés, etc.), and
  • On the beach (ideally in a shady spot and with a small project, because knitting a wool scarf is very unpleasant at 35 degrees Celsius.

Knit your way through Southeast Asia.

Participate in events such as WWKIP

Attending the World Wide Knit in Public (WWKIP) day can be a great way to meet other knitters in the area. If you don’t find an event in your area, you can simply set one up of your own. I did this during my stay in Penang, Malaysia and made a new knitting friend in the process! Another great option is using Meet Up, a website created to connect people with similar interests. It’s worth checking out to see if there’s a knitting group in your area.

Knit your way through Southeast Asia.

Keep an Open Mind

Traveling can often bring about a total shift in perspective in the way you see the world around you. Yes, it can even alter your perspective on knitting. For example, take a look at this article.

Prior to this, I would never have considered using knitting as a political tool, but it’s empowering to realize that we, as knitters, can use our skills to create positive change around the world.

Another inspiring Indonesian knitter I’ve come across on Instagram is @knitcrocweaver, who can be found knitting in buses and other public places in the city of Jakarta while proudly donning his beautiful handmade brioche beanies.

Knit your way through Southeast Asia.Do you like to knit and travel? What’s the most interesting experience you’ve had as a knitter in a foreign country?

Susanne is currently knitting away in Malaysia. You can read more of her stories of traveling through Asia while knitting on her blog at www.woolyventures.com

Back On the Road (With Socks, Part II)

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I’m home. Barely. Just long enough to wash away all the grime from last weekend’s adventures (no one got sick or injured and it didn’t rain, so it’s a win in my book…) and pack everything back up for the next jaunt tomorrow, assuming I manage to get the peaches canned before dawn (ours trees decided to ripen rather inconveniently this year).

We’re heading to Lassen National Park for a few nights. Other than a blurry childhood memory, I’ve never been.

I’m looking forward to some fresh adventures. If I catch Reed early enough in the morning when he’s still fresh, I might get lucky and get a “hike” in too! Three is that tricky age when they’re too heavy to carry and too young to do the distance on their own.

I see fishing in our future.

I lucked out last weekend. That is, I didn’t run out of yarn, and my needles didn’t break. There was no knitting tragedy. This leaves me incredibly paranoid for the future. Things can only go smoothly for so long.

Then you hit a bump.

Thus, I am all the more prepared. The simple stockinette socks are packed, and I am determined to finish them. There’s just 3/4 of a sock to go. (I am, however, driving, so there’s eight hours -round trip- of knitting time down the drain. But I’m trying to focus on the bright side.)

I also have two back-up projects packed. Just in case.

Better Prepared This Time


I would like to think I learned my lesson the last time I went camping and ran out of knitting projects. You see, that time, I got lucky. I knew there was a yarn store awaiting my patronage in Mendocino. I had Googled ahead. This information must have been filed away somewhere in the back of my head when I elected not to inspect my sock project prior to departure.

I knew there was a Plan B.

This time, there is no Plan B. We are heading to the super duper middle of nowhere* where there is nothing, should one be in need. No place to buy salt. Or butter. Or tin foil. Or any of those things you invariably forget to pack and can’t scurry off and buy at some random somewhere, at double the price no less. And CERTAINLY there is no back-up yarn store.

Thus, careful packing is in order.

I have wound a second skein of sock yarn…Both because the first skein might run short and I haven’t decided how hard I am going to try to ensure the gradients of both socks match exactly (two skeins might make that easier…). I have considered packing a scale so I can weigh both the first sock once it’s finished and the balance of the first skein to see if the second skein is even needed, but that might defy the whole concept of “roughing it.”**

I thought I would be Super Clever and pack up a second set of needles, recalling that this happened once. I went rummaging into the closet, only to realize (aghast!) that I don’t have a second set of size 2 needles suitable for sock knitting, not even of the double-pointed variety (which I was SURE I had…apparently the ones I was thinking of are size 3. Hurumph!). Now I am suffering from this insurmountable anxiety that OF COURSE my needles will surely break in some sort of horrific yet freak accident that couldn’t possibly have been predicted or avoided.***

Otherwise, I’m all set on the knitting packing front. Assuming I don’t forget to load it all into the truck. Which could happen.

But I hope not.

*The Smith River, which is gorgeous. Add it to your bucket list of desinations to visit someday if pretty, unspoiled places are your type of thing.

**Philosophical knitting question to ponder: If one is camping and “roughing it,” must one’s knitting also “rough it?”

***Don’t worry, I will pack extra wine to counteract the above referenced increase in anxiety.

Why I Plan and Then Don’t Do What I Plan to Do

Casting on a new shawl.

This isn’t what I was going to knit next. Less than 24 hours ago, I had an entirely different plan. My poncho was fresh off the needles (I love it! Eep!), and I was thumbing through my stitch dictionaries, getting all inspired and organized for the next project. Once I finished Architexture, I wandered back to my monogamist-knitter ways (unless you count a little sock action on the side). I needed to come up with another project.

I have a short list of my stash prioritized in my head: knit this; then that; next knit this.

I also have this Order of Operations written in my knitting book. Yes, I have one of those too, for the days when my head fails me (uh, every day?).

But then I go ahead and waste my own time, throwing all that nice orderly thinking and writing out the window. Poof!

Plan revised.

Because, yes, last night I had a plan (in my head) to knit one thing, (to my defense, it is a good plan, actually, and I will knit that up soon, too), and now I have strayed to knit something entirely different.

I am not sure if this is what is colloquially referred to as Creative Genius or Schizophrenia. Here’s thing that just hit me: the poncho I just finished was grey, and the project I was about to knit was also grey.

Now, yes, I am particularly partial to grey yarn. It is neutral and wearable, and I find it quite suitable. It wouldn’t have been the first time I knit two grey projects back to back.

Not this time.

This time, I am going for the skein of handspun wool, gifted to me and shamefully cast aside for far too long. It has colors that aren’t just grey, and it’s going to be a very simple crescent-shaped shawl with not so much as a single yarn over. I am going to let the yarn speak for itself. No frills.

At least that’s my plan for now.

A few administrative notes:

*Joining Ginny’s Yarn Along (Congratulations, Ginny, on beautiful Mae). I just devoured My Brilliant Friend and moved on to the second book in the series last night (The Story of a New Name). If you haven’t heard of the Neapolitan Novels, get thee to a bookstore immediately. I am hooked! (Yes, those are affiliate links for Amazon. Thank you for being you!)

**I was so startled and touched to log into Ravelry to discover that more than 100 of you joined the This Knitted Life group seemingly overnight. I have started a weekly chat over that way, which I hope will morph into a weekly cocktail-knitting session (nonalcoholic cocktails are yummy, too) as soon as I kick this head cold that has been holding me back for way too long now. Please join the fun.

***The summer Olympics are starting on August 5th. Now, knowing how incredibly unathletic I am, it might surprise you that a sporting event might actually interest me. Oddly, I LOVE the Olympics. I plan to host parallel knitting events over the in my Ravelry group during the Olympics, with prizes and everything. I will share a post soon with all the details (once I figure them out…). In the meantime, you’re on notice. Scurry off and do what all athletes must do to make it to the Olympics: stretch thy fingers and start training AKA knitting!

****If you have actually made it ALL THE WAY to the bottom of this post, please consider subscribing to This Knitted Life, if you aren’t already a subscriber. I will never share your email, and promise to hardly ever bother you, aside from the blog posts that will conveniently find themselves in your inbox two or three times a week. As a subscriber, you will have access to special discounts on patterns and other goodies, like the pattern for this headband. To subscribe, simply enter your email address into the little box in the very top of the upper right hand side bar. Thanks!

My First Year of Knitting Socks

One knitter reflects on her first year of knitting socks and all the joy (and cozy feet) it brought into her life.

It has been nearly a year since I cast on my first ever pair of socks. After twenty years of knitting all things except socks, what a joyous discovery this was! Over the past 11 months, I have knit one pair of Glenna’s basic ribbed socks (a great beginner pattern, should you be feeling the itch), four pairs of Blueberry Waffle socks, two pairs of toddler socks for Reed (one of which I promptly shrunk in the dryer), a pair of Man Socks (disliked the color, fretted over the size, but loved the pattern), and my recent accomplishment: this basic ribbed pair to gift. They might be a little long in the toe. Because nothing I knit is ever quite right. One knitter reflects on her first year of knitting socks. This pair: a basic rib.

Now, sock knitting, I have discovered, is a whole genre of art unto itself. (Andi recently published a three-part series dedicated to the art.) For me, sock knitting has become my perpetual side-knitting project. I always have a pair on the needles. I have learned to walk with them and knit, I travel with them in the car on road trips, and I will sneak in a handful of rows here and there while Reed happily plays nearby. They seemingly knit themselves in those little spaces of time that were never filled before.

Of all the socks I knit over the past year, only two have been for me. The rest have been gifted. I nearly gave myself a stroke trying to knit gift socks last Christmas. Never again.

I have one more pair of gifted socks to knit, to be fair about it all in the scheme of family distribution. After that, I am only knitting socks for me. I think. A lot of tiny stitches go into a pair of socks, and I am starting to feel a bit selfish about it. I want them all for myself. One knitter reflects on her first year of knitting socks. This pair: a basic rib.

We were camping this past weekend and I found myself in the jaw dropping situation of having not packed enough knitting. Usually I pack way too much, but I was trying to be realistic and it backfired. Poor planning on my part. I had neglected to inspect my sock progress before leaving and had misjudged how little I had left. Good news: you can find a yarn store with sock yarn almost anywhere, and I have decided that the Mendocino Yarn Shop is the smallest yet quirkiest shop with the most stunning view of all yarn suppliers everywhere. Now I am the proud owner of two skeins of new-to-me Australian Queensland Collection Rainbow Beach sock yarn. A happy ending to a sordid tale.

One knitter reflects on her first year of knitting socks. This pair: a basic rib.

In a day’s time, I went from no knitting to inspiring my knitting-camping-friend to casting on her first pair of socks alongside me. There we were, basking on the sunny beach, and later the sitting next to the campfire, our needles lit with flashlights while everyone else slept, working on our socks and chatting the way girlfriends do.

And you just can’t get any better than that.

Joining the Yarn Along and still reading Mink River, taking my time to enjoy every literary sentence.

Essential Knitting Accessories, Volume 2

All the tools you need to make your knitting life easier-swifts, needles, and more!

Volume 1 is here, in case you missed it.

Knitting is about so much more than yarn. I finally invested in a few fundamental essentials a couple of months ago. My expanded toolbox of knitting paraphernalia has made my knitting life SO much better. I don’t even know why I waited so long!

A swift

I finally bought a swift! So many of you commented with suggestions when I wrote my first post on essential knitting accessories. There were comments recommending hand-made swifts, Amish swifts, and, well, all kinds of swifts. Thank you for the suggestions! In the end, I still went with this basic swift* from Amazon+. I simply couldn’t find a better price (much more affordable than the similar version from yarn.com), and I had a tight budget. Reed and I have used the swift quite a bit, and I love it! I already had a second-hand ball winder waiting, so I didn’t have to buy one of those. (This is the one I have*.) Now my stash is all wound, which truly has made me even antsier to hurry up and knit all the nice, pretty cakes. Plus Reed thinks it is great fun, and he truly is a fabulous yarn winder! Never too young to train em’ up!

A good swift will save you SO much time! Hand spun yarn doesn't hurt either...

A needle set

When I last pondered which needle set to buy, I received all kinds of suggestions. Alina loved her Addi Turbos, Karen was ecstatic about her Chia Goos, and I had recently read that Franciose loved her Hiya Hiya set. I had been leaning toward the Addis. My LYS carries that brand, and I have a few pairs already that I love. When I looked them up on Amazon, I got all flummoxed over whether I wanted the long tips* or the short tips*. It was overwhelming. After a quick Google, I went out on a limb and bought the Chia Goos*. It was nerve wracking to invest in a set of needles that I had never tried. Not even once. But I trusted Karen. Plus, they came in at a great price, and included more sizes and cables than the Addi set. Hard to beat. I HAVE NOT BEEN DISAPPOINTED! I love them and wish I had bought them YEARS ago! They come in a great case with all kinds of stitch markers that I really needed. (Mind have a gravitational proclivity toward the cracks in the sofa, from which they rarely return.)

I LOVE my Chia Goo needle set! Like, almost more than chocolate!

 

I LOVE my Chia Goo needle set!

Stitch Dictionaries

I love stitch dictionaries. I use the free online versions now and again, but a book is so much better. I had a couple checked out from the library and finally came to terms with the fact that I was renewing them over and over again. So I cashed in a gift card (thank you, Auntie!) and bought a couple. I chose 750 Knitting Stitches: the Ultimate Knit Stitch Bible* and a Japanese one.* The Japanese one is truly enticing to look at and was worth the extra wait and shipping cost. I can’t read Japanese, but I can read the charts (mostly!).

Knitting stitch dictionaries are a must for every knitter!

What non-yarn knitting tools have you discovered lately that I need to know about! Please share.

*Affiliate link. Thank you for being you.

+I know Amazon can be a pitiful alternative to shop local, etc., but I have made peace with this. I live in the Middle of No Where and use Amazon all the time for basics like shampoo and cat food. Otherwise, I am driving two plus hours to buy this random stuff. Instead, I stay home and focus on growing organic food in my own yard and other groovy lifestyle choices. I FULLY support you (with great envy) if you have local alternatives for this stuff, at competitive prices. 

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