Monthly Archives

July 2016

Just Knit

Crescent shawl in the works using Madelinetosh Pasmina in the Kitten colorway. Simple is better.

Finally. After so much fiddling, I can just knit. I have spent so much time of late finishing projects, weaving in ends and blocking. And swatching. Oh, the swatching! Not to mention all the tiny projects–some baby hats and of course socks.

All of it is necessary, but none of it gives me the satisfaction of just knitting.  It’s like the difference between driving in stop and go rush hour traffic and just zipping down the open highway, with nothing but wild, undeveloped country out the window and Michael Jackson on the radio. Or maybe the Dixie Chicks. I’ve been so indecisive about music lately.

Anyway.

I’m knitting. It feels good. Even though I can’t decide if I am going to run out of yarn or have too much left. It’s a painful kind of mental pickle to be in. A very stressful kind of relaxation, if you will. I know I am sunk either way. The odds that it will work out just right are slim. A statistical anomaly.

This is why it is a terrible idea to ever just buy one skein of anything. I like one-skein projects as much as the next person, but really, what a horrible idea! It’s like tempting fate, especially if you dare to substitute yarn. Better to buy two and finish up with left over yarn (maybe an entire skein!) than suffer the stress of Will I/ Won’t I.

Never again will I just buy one skein. NEVER.

Unless it’s for socks. That doesn’t count.

I decided to pick my grey project back up, now that the colorful bit is all knit up and see if I can’t come up with the perfect recipe for a simple shawlette. Like the little black dress of knitting. No frills. All sex appeal, plus a eentsy bit of cozy soft sheen. It is Madelinetosh Pashmina, after all.

Now tell me this, knitters: yarn can be sexy, right?

P.S. Don’t forget, the Olympic Knitathon starts in one week! Are you ready?!!? Any and all knitting projects count.

The Olympic Knitathon: Rules, Prizes and Other Relevant Details

The Situation

As someone who may be very accurately described as fantastically unathletic, it will likely strike those who know me well as a little odd that I truly love the Olympics. Winter. Summer. I don’t care. I like them.

Maybe it’s the theme music, so carefully orchestrated to tug at the heart strings just so.

Maybe it’s the internationalism of it all. A new place. So exotic. (If a tropical island ever hosts, I’m going!)

Maybe it’s the sappy, in-depth backstories for the athletes. All the adversity they’ve overcome. The hard work they’ve put in—an enviable drive and determination. It speaks so strongly to the common humanity in all of us.

The Olympics harken me back to the imagination of my youth, when I used to watch and think Maybe I can do that.

Well, I missed that boat.

I can clearly recall being eight and having already developed a strong disinclination toward the competitive sporting arena, negotiating some sort of plea with my mother so she would write me a note to excuse me from of the end-of-year all school track meet. I think a “sprained ankle” was the settle-upon excuse and I practiced my faux-limp with great enthusiasm before school. Even then, there was something about coming in last place that was mortifying.

Today, I am slightly sportier, even jogging shlogging on occasion between toddler-born bouts of cold, flu, snot, and other respiratory ailments. It’s more fun now that there are fancy phones that play music with the push of the button and all the other modern-day accoutrement of the Exercise Class, to which I will likely never have opportunity to belong and perhaps will secretly loath and resent from a distance to my final days. (Don’t take that personally if you are actually a physically fit person who exercises all the time.)

My favorite sports are: floatying (the act of laying pronate on a floaty in a pool or other body of water) on a warm, sunny day, well within reach of a cocktail or cold beverage and knitting (also often within reach of a cocktail or other desirable beverage).

Enough said.

The Olympics start in a little over a week on August 5th and last 17 days until Closing Ceremonies on August 21. I’m hosting a friendly little competition in my Ravelry Group with prizes and everything. Yes, that’s right. I’m sharing some of my favorite yarn with the winners! Actual yarn will be mailed to you by me if you win.

The Events

I have thought long and hard about what our events should be. Fastest knitter? No way to judge… Biggest shawl? Hmmm… I have three prizes and have settled on three categories. I sadly only have one prize per category (Gold Medal). Silver and Bronze will have to go without. It’s a brutal world out there, knitters.

Most Yardage (lace, fingering, sport)

The prize will go to the knitter who knits the most yardage from the beginning of the games to the end of closing ceremonies in a light weight. To compete, post finished projects in the This Knitted Life’s group Ravelry thread for the Olympic Knitathon and tag finished projects with TLKlight.

The winner will receive two skeins of Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in the color Rain Water (420 yards/384 meters per skein). This should be enough to make a nice, big shawl or whatever else your little heart desires. This is one of my favorite yarns in a stellar colorway.

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Most Yardage (DK, worsted, bulky)

This prize will go to the knitter who knits the most yardage in a heavier weight. Entries will also need to be posted in the Ravelry thread and tagged with TLKheavy.

The winner will receive a skein of Swans Island fingering weight in their Natural Colors Collection. It’s a hand-dyed indigo based color. There’s 525 yards/480 meters of the stuff, which is a lot. I used this yarn to knit Tulipland and found it to be a great yarn at a great value per skein.

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Artistic Impression (independent of yarn weight)

This is a subjective category based purely on how pretty, cool, or visually impressive your finished knit is. I am the sole judge and have no system for evaluation. It’s all gut instinct baby. All projects entered into the Most Yardage categories will AUTOMATICALLY be entered into the Artistic Impression category. I know. I am that nice.

The winner will receive a skein of Madelinetosh Sock in Neon Peach. There’s enough here for a pair of bright, cheery socks. I knit my socks with this yarn often and love it dearly.

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The Rules

We’re flying fast and loose with this one. After all, knitting is a lawless land. Use your best judgement when it comes to what’s fair. I have generally found knitters to be a particularly kind and generous faction of humanity, so I know you’ll all do what’s honest and good, probably overly so.

  • There will be no drug testing. Wine consumption is encouraged with the disclaimer that it may hinder your chances at winning the Gold Medal prizes.
  • Projects started before August 5th are eligible, but please try to estimate yardage from the start of the games forward only.
  • International entries are welcome. After all, it is THE OLYMPICS. So yes, if you live in Bhutan or somewhere super far away from where I live, I will still mail you your yarn.
  • I reserve the right to add other rules may be added as random as the need develops and post them in the Ravelry thread.

As always come Wednesday, I am linking with the Yarn Along today. I am still reading The Nest with great haste to meet the library return date, as well as the fourth and final novel in the Neapolitan series, which I loved and truly cannot recommend enough.  (Yes, those are affiliate links. Thanks for being you!)


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.

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