Flowers First

Knitting is my First Priority hobby. If you’ve visited this space before, you probably already know that.

Gardening is my Second Priority hobby. I am just as likely to spontaneously stop by a nursery to fill an inevitable “hole” in my garden bed and spend unbudgeted funds on, say, foxgloves as I am to visit a yarn shop and snag a must-have skein (or three) to fill an unfathomable void in the my stash.*

Reed and I came home from school/work this evening and were immediately eddied out in the front yard. He made a “pizza” from side walk chalk, weeds, and dirt while I clipped back some lavender and attacked a few unlucky dandelions with a vengeance I would wish upon no human being.

What can I say, we’re yard people.

Earlier this year, I reclaimed my old vegetable garden in the backyard. I got a late start, but coastal zone 9 gardening is forgiving that way. You can always plant kale. I took a low-effort approach and threw in some artichokes and pumpkins, hoping to provide Reed with his own supply of jack-o-lanterns for the fall season. I also jabbed some peas, beans, and greens in the ground, watering them a first and then leaving them to survive on their own.

My strategy did not work.

The pumpkins are not yet ripe (Halloween is two weeks away), and the other vegetables have been devoured by an unidentified insect infestation (secondary hazard of zone 9 gardening = slugs). My own preference for caring for my ample flowers left my self-sufficient vegetables to unsuccessfully fend for themselves.

I give up.

Instead, I’ve decided to follow my passion.

Screw kale.

You can buy that at the grocery store, organic no less, for under $3.

I’m going with peonies. And dahlias. Not to mention, the surely fabulous zinnia seeds I scored from Annie Claire at her REMARKABLE natural dying class earlier this month.

I am remaking my vegetable garden into rows of my favorite flowers. En masse. Slugs be damned. I am coming for you, slugs and snails. Be forewarned.

Maybe I will even use my future flower abundance to dye yarn.

Speaking of dying yarn…

Annie Claire’s natural dying class was such a treat, and it was truly wonderful to meet a local, professional fiber artist with an ethos so similar to my own. She’ll be teaching a number of classes at Vogue Knitting Live in New York come January. If you are planning to attend, I can’t recommend her courses highly enough. She’s the Real Deal. Wait not a moment longer. Sign thyself up!

Admittedly, making colors has never been my thing. I am much more the type to pick a pretty color that someone else dreamed up rather than concoct my own version of the color wheel. Dying yarn has always had me on edge that way.

Good thing I have knitting (and gardening) to calm my nerves.

*I have no (okay, very little) stash, so the risk of occurrence is high.

At Long Last: Twist Shawl Update

Twist Shawl pattern by Andrea @ This Kitted LifeThis baby has been a long time coming. Persistence pays off. After my last attempt came out close-but-not-quite, I tried again. I hope I don’t jinx myself when I say: it’s perfect!!!

I love my Twist Shawl pattern. It has a fond place for me. It was my first pattern that really had any momentum of it’s own, but I wanted to go back in, adjust the shape into a clean crescent, and send it through a tech edit.

[Angels harking…]

It’s done.

If you have already purchased this pattern, you should have received a little note from Ravelry letting you know the pattern has been updated with a link to the new version a couple weeks back.

If you haven’t yet purchased this pattern…well, what are you waiting for?!?!

I love this shawl because it has so much texture but it is so EASY. I even made a handy little Twist Stitch YouTube tutorial to show you the main technique.

I know I’ve said it before, but you can do this!Twist Shawl pattern by Andrea @ This Kitted LifeThe updated version is knit in Long Dog Yarns Luxe Fingering (Grapefruit colorway). This indie dyer was recommended to me by a reader at the beginning of the year when I launched my Year of the Indie Dyer focus for the year.  Brandy is a remarkable dyer, and I have enjoyed keeping up with her on Instagram as well. Do visit her shop!

However.

I have also knit this shawl in The Fibre Company Cumbria (fingering), Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light (fingering), and Madelinetosh Vintage (worsted). Substituting with pretty much any yarn weight will work just fine. Simply adjust your needle size and knit until you like the size of your shawl. The pattern starts at the top, which makes yarn weight substitutions particularly viable.

I have a pretty good hunch that you have a couple of skeins in your stash that will work just fine with this, not that I have anything against buying MORE yarn.

The updated shawl is a perfect crescent shape. Edges are finished as you knit with a simple yet polished slip stitch edge. The pattern is predominantly stockinette with intermittent rows of “twisting.” Hello Knitflix. Twist Shawl pattern by Andrea @ This Kitted LifeYou can find this pattern on Ravelry here for $6.00 USD. Subscribers, please check your inboxes for your special discount code. The updated pattern has been proofed by a tech editor. As with all my patterns, measurements are provided in English and metric units.

The prior version of this pattern was also available in several translations. I have not been able to update the translations and have thus removed them for the time being. (If you happen to speak other languages and are interested in working out a trade to translate this or other patterns, please be in touch.)
Twist Shawl pattern by Andrea @ This Kitted Life

*If you haven’t already,please take a moment to subscribe to my YouTube channel.  You might also enjoy my quips of wisdom on Instagram and Facebook!

P.S. A very special thanks to my dear and talented friend Anna. If you have a bare wall that needs fine art, check out her site here

Twist Shawl pattern by Andrea @ This Kitted Life

The Simple Solution to Too Many Scarves and Shawls You Won’t Want to Miss

I am fairly certain that I live under a rock.

Honestly, it’s a miracle I know how to use a smart phone. I think Reed is better with Siri than I am. (He’s not quite five…).

I mean, the things they’ve invented these days. I just can’t keep up.

Anyway.

If you’re like me and you’ve been knitting for a while, you accumulate a lot of wrappy things like scarves and shawls. Or cowls. It’s a hazard of the hobby/art/passion, and I’ve long since accepted the fact that my life if overflowing with woolly things.*

It’s pretty standard to walk into my house and see a shawl thrown over a chair here or lumped into a pile on a table there. I have cowls shoved into my purse and drawers filled with hats and sweaters. It’s a little chaotic, and I doubt Martha Stewart would be impressed.

This is nothing new. I’ve been grappling with knitwear organization for a while now. I’ve also been trying to work out: how to overcome my addiction to high-quality chocolate, how to exercise while I am sleeping, and how to knit while I am sleeping. (Basically I want to figure out how to do everything while I am sleeping…)

So. One day earlier this year, I am in Target** on a mission to purchase REGULAR hangers to accommodate my Big Move when something catches my eye in that Holy Crap kind of way.

Kind of like when you are in a yarn store and see a flashing sign indicating your favorite yarn is free that day.

I see a Scarf Hanger.

Who knew there was such a thing!?!!? (Yes, I am sure you already knew, but I didn’t know…so please don’t rub it in…)

For $10, my scarf-shawl-cowl drama got a little less dramatic.

I love this thing!

Seriously, it has made my scarf-shawl-cowl organization SO much better. There’s a whole variety of them on Amazon here. Ten bucks will get a long ways toward containing your bursting knitwear collection.

I’m just saying…make a little wiggle room in your budget for one (or four) of these little guys.

I love it because:

  1. You can see all your accessories at once.
  2. You can pull out just one shawl and the others stay put.
  3. It’s a space saver.
  4. It makes me feel like Martha Stewart might not judge me so harshly after all.
  5. It now seems only logical to CONTINUE knitting scarves-shawls-cowls even though I already own too many.

My scarf hanger has nine holes, although some of the Amazon variety have EVEN MORE holes. I can actually put a couple scarves in each hole without losing too much function.

Now, tell me what else they’ve invented that I don’t know about yet!

*And I know I am not alone, as a very nice woman at knit night recently shared the entire space under her bed is filled with worsted weight sweaters she knit when she lived in a colder region.

**Is it un-P.C. to admit that Target is one of my favorite places on Earth even though I know everything is made in China using slave labor and ecosystem pillage to make zillions of dollars at the expense of everyone else on the planet?

If you miss me between posts, keep your eye out for my quips of wisdom on Instagram and Facebook!

Take Me to the Party – The Shawl to End All Shawls

This is the Little White Shawl version of the Little Black Dress.

Everyone needs one. I call it Take Me to the Party.

Secret #1: if you start knitting it now, it’ll be done in time for the holiday parties.

Secret #2: it glimmers. There are sequins! Because I am that adult that glances longingly at all the shimmery girls tees in Target and wishes it was more age appropriate for 40 year old women to wear sparkly clothes every day. It’s hard to tell from the still photos, but if you check out my geeky video on YouTube*, you’ll be able to see the shimmer and glitz.

Secret #3: if you can’t handle the sequins, just substitute yarn with the non-sequin variety. No one will ever know.

Take Me to the Party Shawl by Andrea @ This Knitted Life

This shawl is perfectly crescent shaped and starts at the top with just a few stitches–my favorite way to start a big project. The stockinette is balanced with texture created from slipped stitches and some subtle eyelet rows. The edges are garter, so nothing will roll, fold, or generally misbehave.

Take Me to the Party Shawl by Andrea @ This Knitted Life

I held two strands of yarn together, both lace weight. The first was Lang Merino Paillette (that’s where the shimmer comes from), and the second was Isager Alpaca Merino. Together, they result in a surprisingly squishy shawl that will be perfect for warming those bare shoulders left to shiver under your fancy dresses this winter.

Substituting with a single strand of fingering or DK would also work well.

Take Me to the Party Shawl by Andrea @ This Knitted Life

I am a big fan of knitting with neutral colors that go with everything, like white or black. It’s hard to make such a basic decision given all the gloriously prismatic shades of yarn available these days. But here’s the thing: this shawl goes with almost anything.

Hello wardrobe essential.

Or, be a rebel and knit this in neon pink.

Take Me to the Party Shawl by Andrea @ This Knitted Life

I think there’s a stereotype that knitting isn’t sexy. Sure, maybe it’s cozy. Or quirky. Or even pretty. But it’s not sexy.

Well, you know what I say: screw that.

Take Me to the Party Shawl by Andrea @ This Knitted Life

As with all my patterns, Take Me to the Party has been reviewed by an independent technical editor. Instructions include measurements in both metric and English units. It can be all yours for a mere $6 USD on Ravelry. (Subscribers, check your inbox for a special coupon code to save $2.) If you aren’t in the market for a new shawl pattern quite yet, please take a moment to add it to your favorites (click the little heart in Ravelry) so you can more easily find it when the mood strikes.

Take Me to the Party Shawl by Andrea @ This Knitted Life

*Obviously making YouTube videos is NOT my forte in life, but I am working on it. Kind of. If you haven’t already, please take a moment to subscribe to my YouTube channel.

P.S. A very special thanks to my dear and talented friend Anna. If you have a bare wall that needs fine art, check out her site here

P.P.S. If you miss me between posts, keep your eye out for my quips of wisdom on Instagram and Facebook!

Dispatch: Welcome Fall

These early fall days are always such a treat—still warm with rays of golden light yet cool enough to wear tunics with leggings. We enjoyed four (dirty, stinky, fun) camping trips this past summer, the last of which resulted in a record number of fish hooked in a picturesque Sonoma pond. The pond was brimming with water lilies and looked so cool and fresh, yet I was dripping with sweat from a record heat. Even the fish were hot. The sleeping bags and other miscellaneous gear now reside quietly in the garage, awaiting next summer’s itinerary into the wilds.

Meanwhile, at home, the last-minute garden actually resembles a garden and not just a patch of dirt with tiny starts. I lament, however, that slugs and other insect varieties have easily achieved the upper hand, leaving me with rows of holey kale and depressed snap peas. Apparently, I garden solely to allow the local bug population to flourish and not to feed myself or Reed, who seems keen to survive on lollipops anyway. I have been toying with the idea of foregoing the seemingly requisite victory garden, instead upending my chard and green beans to replace them with dahlias and peonies. A perennial cut flower garden may not be edible, but—seeing how no one’s eating it anyway—it will at least be beautiful in a way that requires a little gasp of joy and astonishment with each glance.

Because broccoli is overrated.
The other big news around these parts is of course Reed’s new puppy. We needed a little joy, and golly gee did we get some. Her name is Finn (Reed’s choice). Already they play together in his fort. He directs while she either ignores him my sleeping through his commands or ignores him by eating the fort. (Mom, Finny ruined my fort again. Come fix it!) Both distress him slightly, although her adorability quickly wins out and he forgives her without a grudge.

As for me, well, I’ve been in a bit of a fog this past week, still in that newborn shock of waking up every two or three hours to let the puppy out to pee. On the bright side, I’ve enjoyed reconnecting with the stars.

See: the glass is always half full.

After a month of unsuccessful starts and consolation sock knitting, I’ve finally hit a stride on a Real Project (or two). I’m trying to be better about putting down my knitting sooner in order to instead crawl into bed with a book (finally found a decent one) and prioritize sleep.

As always, my to-do list always exceeds the amount of available time. I think I’ll save the entire world each weekend yet only manage to cross a few things off the list. This must be why The Tortoise and the Hair is such a relatable story.

Slowly but surely.I do have a couple of shawl patterns ready to release soon, so keep your eyes out for them. I am particularly proud of the results, and the photography was a lot of fun too.

I’m trying to work more on nesting—unpacking the last of the boxes that clutter places they really shouldn’t. Accepting. Finding places for things. Lighting candles when Reed isn’t awake to knock them over and burn the house down.

I need to walk more (ideally with my knitting), especially before the fall weather turns permanently drippy and it’s too cold for my hands to comfortably knit. It’s hard to find the time. Puppy’s still a bit too young to be out in the world for beach walks and such, so I still have to go it alone.

Soon enough, she’ll be at my side, provided she quits nipping at my hand knit socks.

Harrumph.

While we’ve been keeping busy (too busy, perhaps) with trips and potlucks, it’s nice just to be home. In the yard. Soaking up sun. Pulling weeds. Embracing the litany of home repairs calling my name with an appreciative enthusiasm.

Now that the sun is setting at a decent hour, I look forward to putting Reed in his jammies and driving out to the beach to watch those last rays dip beyond the horizon, on their way to tomorrow.

If I’m lucky, he’ll fall asleep on the way home.

P.S. In the mood for fall knitting? Check out my Fall Bucket List here, or try knitting my new Bayland Cowl–perfect for fall. 

P.P.S. If you miss me between posts, keep your eye out for my quips of wisdom on Instagram and Facebook!

Because the Tunic is Where it’s At

Or rather, because leggings are where it’s at.

I’ll admit, I was anti-legging for a very long time. I didn’t feel comfortable wearing tight black pants. I didn’t think it was flattering (maybe it really isn’t flattering).

I didn’t have the right tops to wear with said leggings.

It just wasn’t me.

It was All Wrong.

Until…my jeans got too tight (uh, hello brownies!) and I realized how COMFORTABLE leggings can be. There is something to be said for that elastic waistband. And, well, elastic EVERYTHING.

It’s divine. Flattering or not.

I must insert my disclaimer here: I am NOT a fashion expert. I have no sense of style WHATSOEVER and would wear my pajamas to work, the grocery store, and pretty much everywhere if it was remotely acceptable. I don’t follow trends. I rarely buy clothes, and when I do, I shop at Target. Although I did just discover TJ Maxx, but that’s another story (So far, I’ve limited myself to the home goods section).

Fashion sense or no, I know this: leggings require tunics. In my opinion. I need that magic length that isn’t too short…isn’t too long. Lands mid-thigh. Avoids the I’m-wearing-a-gunny-sack look.

I know. It’s a lot to ask for.

Unless you’re size four, in which case you can wear your leggings with whatever you want. And then I hate you. Except if you’re my friend and then I just pretend you aren’t skinny even if you are because I can be generous that way.

Now that it’s officially Fall (pause for simultaneous nostalgia and hysteria…), it’s time to bust out the tunic-legging combo. Or dress/tunic-legging combo. It all kind of blends together sometimes.

I haven’t knit a tunic on purpose yet, although my Waterlily did come out more like a tunic. I added too much length. Best. Mistake. Ever.

(Tunic knitting secret: pick a sweater pattern and add extra length.)

I truly believe Ravelry should add a separate “Tunic” category under sweaters or tops, because tunics are actually a bit tricky to find on their platform.

All the same, this is what I came up with. I like them. I think you just might like them too. They’re simple but contemporary. Plus, I think they’ll work with leggings just fine.

Still Light by Veera Välimäki

Ease by Alicia Plummer

Ujo by ANKESTRiCK

Tuva by Shellie Anderson

Is there another tunic pattern that you know of and love? If so, please share in the comments!

P.S. All photo credits revert to the designers. Designers’ photos are shared here for positive promotional purposes only.

P.S. S. If you miss me between posts, keep your eye out for my quips of wisdom on Instagram and Facebook!

It’s All In a Pair of Socks

A new pair of socks from Andrea @ This Knitted Life

Yarn from Long Dog Yarns‘ sock kit in Jawbreaker (main color) and Midnight Affair (trim).

This is what I love about knitting: you can endure a few weeks where everything is just far enough askew from normal as to inhibit Regular Knitting and still end up with a pair of socks.

You can be too exhausted to work out the math for a new design or learn a new technique and still knit socks.

Your child, who is supposed to go to bed at 7:00, can instead go to bed at 8:30 (impeding that rare final hour of reasonable brain function), and you can still progress on a sock for that single precious hour of Adult Time.

The yarn you ordered for a new project can be All Wrong, leaving you in an insufferable conundrum as to what-to-do, but you can always fall back to the sock.

You can be social–go camping and visit with friends–and still knit a sock, even from the confines of your tent.

While I admit, a simple pair of vanilla socks wasn’t my planned knitting outcome* from the past few weeks, I will take them. They are pretty and bright. Plus they make me smile.

And no, I did not follow my own advice. (Do I ever?) I did not take these socks on a single walk. I was pretty much horizontal on the sofa for nearly every stitch.

So there, world.

Now, will someone please hand me a brownie?

*Planned knitting outcomes = one shawl, one child’s size poncho, one hat, and basically seventeen sweaters. Perhaps not realistic, but hey, AIM HIGH!

P.S. If you miss me between posts, keep your eye out for my quips of wisdom on Instagram and Facebook!

Yep. Another Fall Bucket List of Must Knits – 2017

Oh my goodness! It has been RAINING this week. I seriously did not see THAT coming and was perhaps overconfident that I would be basking in afternoon sun for the rest of the year. Apparently I forgot that I live on the southern edge of what might technically be defined as the Pacific Northwest. You know, that place where it RAINS all the time.

Humph.

All the same, I have taken it as a sign that I must Pull It Together and release my Fall 2017 bucket list of must knits. My Fall 2016 Bucket List was a big hit, so I hope you like this one, too!

Brioche Shawls and Scarfs

I still haven’t learned brioche, but this new Sprouting Brioche Shawl by Lavanya Patricella looks pretty amazing! I think it’s that contrasting orange edge that I just can’t stop staring at.

I happened upon the Brioche Untangled Scarf  that was just released by Black Crow Knits via Instagram. It honestly might be a more realistic starting place for my future as a brioche-capable knitter, plus it is the coolest scarf design I have seen in a Long Time, although I might have to skip the tassels. Not me.

Pullovers and Tees

I spent an inappropriate amount of time the other morning trying to decide which pullover to knit next, after my spectacular success with Lesley. I have it narrowed down to Friday Anew (sport weight) or Holiday (fingering weight). I’m tempted to go with the heavier weight, just so I hypothetically finish sooner. What do you think???

Designer Helga Isager caught my eye on Pinterest last month in a Very Big Way. I love the Ivory Tee she published earlier this year. Very refined. My LYS carried the Isager yarn brand for a hot minute earlier this year (but no longer), and I LOVED the color palette. The Isager yarn choices remind me of the Quince and Co. colorways, which are of course drool-worthy. I even used the Isager Alpaca-Merino blend for my upcoming white shawl release (stay tuned). I picked white (oh, the irony) in the end,  but there were some REALLY AWESOME color choices there. Definitely a high quality brand.

Cowls

I would be remiss if I didn’t include my recently released Bayland Cowl in my bucket list this year because it is a true ode to fall. I mean, look at those colors. ‘Nough said.

Bayland Cowl by Andrea @ This Knitted Life

I admit I am a little sad that summer has slipped away. I had a not-so-secret hope of spending at least one more day knitting by the river, but apparently the uber-thick forest fire smoke followed by an ongoing drizzle have set me on a new path. So I am moving on. Fall, it is.

Photo credits revert back to the designers. I am sharing their images here for positive promotional purposes only. And…If you miss me between posts, keep your eye out for my quips of wisdom on Instagram and Facebook!

Lesley Pullover is Off the Needles

Lesley Pullover by Hannah Fettig. Knit by Andrea @ This Knitted Life.

This just goes to show that if you keep a pattern in your queue for two years and add it to a zillion and one bucket lists, eventually you might actually knit the darn thing.

Furthermore, it MIGHT actually fit.

How ’bout that.

I am pleased to hereby announced that Lesley by Hannah Fettig is complete. I even survived my little bout with Second Sleeve Syndrome. I look forward to wearing this knit All. Winter. Long. and staying nice and toasty. And pretty, too.

I basically knit the pattern as written, only adding a bit of overall length. I think it could use a few more short rows in the front (as is, it’s tricky to tell the front from the back…) and the sleeves could be looser. My friend and I both knit this pattern this summer and agree the sleeves are too restrictive.

I used the Shell colorway from Quinco & Co.’s Osprey base on Size 10 (6 mm) needles. It was a quick knit and very fulfilling in the “I’m actually accomplishing something” regard.

This pattern is available individually on Ravelry here, but I HIGHLY recommend buying the whole darn book, Home & Away, which is one of my favorites. It’s less than $20 USD these days. I also used my copy to knit up a Rosemont cardigan last year, which I wear A LOT.

Now, I wonder what else I set out to do two years ago that I can accomplish next? Possibly washing the windows…

P.S. Have you discovered my Facebook page

My Favorite New Knit for Fall: Bayland Cowl

I’ll be honest. I am devastated that summer is coming to end. I truly am. I love the heat. The sun. The swimming. All the light that never seems to end.

And then there’s fall. Which has its own positive attributes. Pretty leaves. Pumpkin scented candles. Golden tinted light.

My new Bayland Cowl reminds me of fall. It’s not just the seasonal colorway–it’s the thickness from the worsted weight. It’s about preparation for cool mornings. Hikes through the redwood forest.  Walks around the bay at dusk. Layers.It’s been an adjustment moving back to the coast this past year. It’s so, well, coastal. The weather is different. The light is different. Everything just smells different. It’s cold when it should be hot.

And there’s water and wind everywhere.

And boats.

So many boats.

Did I mention my house is covered in beach sand?

I guess things could be worse.

This cowl is all about the bay. That unique ecosystem that bridges the gap between the Pacific and inland rivers. It makes me thinks of mudflats and salt marsh. Oysters and salmon. Egrets everywhere.

The Bayland Cowl is knit in the round with worsted weight yarn. Wear it long or loop it for warmth. The stitch pattern is easy–it’s all a balance of knits and purls with some slipped stitches thrown in the mix.

Easy peasy.

I worked up this cowl in Spincycle Independence. It was my first time working with their yarn, and I really loved the handspun look of the their yarn, even though it’s not actually hand spun. Plus, the company has an awesome ethic that I couldn’t’ support more.

The Bayland Cowl is available on Ravelry for $6 USD. As with all my contemporary patterns, the design has been reviewed by a tech editor. It has also been test knit by a remarkable group of volunteers, to whom I am indebted.

P.S. If you miss me between posts, keep your eye out for my quips of wisdom on Instagram and Facebook!

%d bloggers like this: