The 30 Day Knitting Challenge – Days 25-28, 30

Let’s see if I can get caught up!

Day 25: Do you have a knitting book or a place where you keep patterns, ideas, size measurements? Post a picture of it!

No, I really don’t. I track projects on ravelry and on the notes app on my phone.

Day 26: Have you ever been a part, or wanted to be a part of a knit-a-long? What was it? If not, why?

Yes, I have. I just recently participated in Melanie Berg’s Any Shawl KAL. It helped me knock out my Miller’s Daughter. It was really awesome to keep up with the thread on ravelry because I loved seeing all the color combinations people came up with. I also loved that it was for any shawl, not just one pattern. I took a second look at several patterns that didn’t really tempt me at first, and I think that has a lot to do with seeing how so many different projects turned out.

Day 27: How do you acquire most of yarn? Online retailers, local yarn shops, swaps, or large chain craft stores? What’s your favorite?

A little bit of everything, really. My favorite thing ever is to find awesome yarn at a thrift store. Otherwise, I’ve gotten a bunch of yarn from people who were destashing. I really seem to have a knack for being in the right place at the right time when it comes to scoring yarn. If I had a yarn shortage (and a job), I would strive to shop exclusively from local sources, my LYS and indie operations online. As it is, I love finding bargains online. I occasionally shop at a big box craft store, but only when I need supplies for a specific commissioned piece. Not everything can be made with merino!

Day 28: Do you do any other crafts besides knitting? What are they, and did learning to knit come before or after learning these other crafts?

Not anymore, really. When I was a kid I would do any craft I could get my hands on. I particularly liked counted cross stitch. I’ve done anything from making beaded jewelry to embroidery to macrame bracelets, latch hook rugs, etc. As an adult, I’ve tried a little spinning but I don’t intend to pick it up any time soon. I’ve also done a fair amount of sewing over the years. I would like to get back into that at some point soon. I have a handful of projects in mind that I want to work on.

Day 29: Do you have any tips, or things that you’ve learned from knitting?

I’m going to defer on this one for right now. I think this could be a whole separate post!

Day 30: What’s your name on Ravelry? If you don’t have a Ravelry account, why?

My ravelry user ID is alexand. I’ve been a member since it was in beta and you needed to get an invite to join (September 21, 2007 if you’re curious). I am raveler  #13148.

I cannot overstate how much I love being a member of ravelry. I’ve learned so much from the forums, from looking at others’ projects, and from just being exposed to so many awesome knitters, designers and patterns. I’ve found amazing community there that has supported me many times and in many ways. I’ve connected with people I otherwise never would have met, including some people local to me who have turned out to be wonderful friends.

So that I don’t leave you photo-less, here’s a shot of Kitten Man in his impromptu box fort the other day:


Happy knitting!

The 30 Day Knitting Challenge is the creation of Meggiewes who blogs at Knitting in Wonderland.


The 30 Day Knitting Challenge – Day 15

Day 15: What was your least favorite pattern and why?

You know, I’m just not going to answer this question, and here’s why: Even though I have high expectations for patterns, and there are plenty of patterns I’ve used and don’t care for, I don’t see the point in singling any of them out here. I try to put honest but constructive feedback about patterns in my project notes on ravelry. I don’t want to highlight a pattern here sheerly to give it a poor review.

So…what should we talk about?

With all this 30 day challenging happening, it’s been a bit since I’ve given a little update on where I am, what I’m working on, and what’s coming up next. Now seems like a good time to remedy that! The name of the game lately for me is finishing. I technically have 11 WIPs, according to my ravelry project page, and I intend to whittle that number down as much as I can. With Miller’s Daughter and the Giant Blue Rectangle off the needles, I don’t currently have a big project going. While I’m trying to decide what the Next Big Thing will be, I’m going to tie up some loose ends*.

Some of this finishing is stuff for other people, mostly fellow clientele of my LYS. I just did a set of shoulder seams and I have two sweaters waiting to be blocked and seamed. Today I re-blocked the Giant Blue Rectangle. I blocked it a couple of weeks ago but wanted to touch up the edges now that I have a good set of blocking wires. It’s now drying in my mil’s basement. I’ll sew it up in a day or two and send it on its merry way! I have three hats floating around that need blocking and a baby cardigan that needs the ends woven in, so I’ll work on those in the meantime. I have two skirts for my daughter that are done except for putting in elastic so, if I’m feeling really ambitious, I might finish those up. Somewhere in all this I need to find two buttons and sew them on the knight’s hat. I’m also going to frog one of the WIPs that’s been hanging around for a while and just not coming together. If (when) I get all of that done, I’ll be down to three WIPs. That’s totally manageable, right?

I finished the knight set diaper cover the other day. Here’s a sneak peek:


Oh yeah, I also have to repair a crochet blanket and knit a sword.

So. What should I cast on next?

Happy knitting! I’ll leave you with a gratuitous cat photo. Here’s Kitten Man looking especially fetching:


Image copyright Callandra S. Cook

*See what I did there?

The 30 Day Knitting Challenge is the creation of Meggiewes who blogs at Knitting in Wonderland.

What To Do

I’m at something of a loss for what to do with myself today. I’m on tenterhooks* while waiting to hear about my (maybe) new job, and there’s nothing more I can do on that front at the moment. I can either worry or just let go…and I’m choosing the latter. But in order to keep the worry from creeping back in, I need to do something with myself. 

Well, why not knit? Yeah, I have been. And I’ll keep at it. The question is what? Here are a few of the options in tossing around:

-Do the finishing for any number of UFFOs** I have lying around. I have three hats that need blocked, a skirt that needs ends woven in and elastic sewed, and another skirt that needs elastic sewed. 

-Start any of four (really?? Four??) overdue test knits. In my defense, I’ve been whittling that number down quickly. Not in my defense, I’ve been leaving the larger projects for last. Unrelated to my defense, I need to rethink my yarn choices for a couple of them as I don’t see my original selections working out all that well. That might be causing some of the delay. 

-Start my next pair of socks for me. I have yarn and a pattern picked out (although it just now dawns on me the yarn is probably in storage, so can’t get it for a few days). It’s not Thursday, so I won’t give you any more details on that front.

-Start a pair of socks for my daughter. I have yarn and pattern picked for these, too. And they’re not in storage so I have no excuse!

-Start a commission hat and diaper cover set. 

-Start a repair job that I’ve been neglecting. 

-Work on my Miller’s Daughter shawl. 

I owe you an update on said shawl. I blogged a while back about my daring repair on one of the lace panels, but never reported back on how that turned out. Well, I messed with the tension on the repaired panel a bunch. I didn’t get it perfect, but I got far enough with it to determine that I think it’s going to be just fine. So I carried on with the stripes and now am ready to start another lace section. 

So, how to choose? Do I fulfill some of my obligation crafting (that my mother, quite rightly, reminded me I brought on myself)? Or do I work on something that will help me feel better in the moment? Well, I worked on the shawl for a bit this am. I’m out of the house for the afternoon now, so my choices are limited to what I brought with me: shawl and kid socks.

But you guys, I really need to do my knitting job stuff. I’ve got another commission piece (kind of a biggie) coming in this week and it would be nice to clear my plate a little more before that. I never really meant to get into knitting for hire because of the time it takes away from knitting for pleasure, but I will say I enjoy it and learn something valuable from each project (even if it’s as basic as charging fairly for my time and skills). I just don’t like getting behind on stuff and then feeling like I need to catch up. 

If you’ve made it this far through my musings, I think that warrants some pictures! 

Not perfect, but it’s pretty durn close!

How’d that get in there? It’s not Thursday!

But since it’s there, that’s the yarn I’m planning making my daughter’s socks out of. It’s closer to sport weight than fingering weight, so they should go really quickly. 

And, here’s some of the wildlife that’s been spotted around my place lately:

Our goldfinches are back! The former next door neighbors had a cat that kept the songbird population pretty much non-existent, but they’ve moved away and we have birds again!

Here we have the elusive tunnel cats!

Happy knitting–whatever project(s) you choose!

*Did you know that word has fiber-related origins? I didn’t. It’s essentially about blocking
**Unfinished finished objects. Come on, we all have them! The fun part is done and the last few bits are just…work!

Thursday Sock-Along: Friday Edition

I’m counting these as Thursday socks because I cast on yesterday. Better late than never, right? Well, I’ve been saying for a while that I wanted to make a second pair of socks. I blogged about my first pair, Rye Socks from Tin Can Knits, here.


Photo credit to Callandra S. Cook, aka the wifey. Modelled by yours truly.

Socks #1 have turned out to be everything I expected. That is, they were a great project to learn on, they fit well, they look pretty sweet. I can only stand to wear them occasionally in the winter as they’re very, very warm and, being worsted weight, they’re not great for stuffing into shoes. So, they don’t get a lot of use…but that wasn’t the goal.

However, being appropriate for frequent use is the goal for Socks #2. A few other goals are as follows:

  • Make ’em with sock yarn.
  • They should fit my calves, which are larger than average, without having to do a ton of machinations to the pattern.
  • There should probably be two of them. Matching is not only unnecessary; it’s highly overrated.

For the Rye Socks, I switched sizes throughout the pattern to make sure they would fit my calves without being too loose in the foot. That’s okay and all but I’d like to just be able to knit some socks without going through all that. To that end, I started thinking about how to make the cuff super stretchy. That way I wouldn’t have to switch sock sizes at the ankle. I decided to knit the ribbing in fisherman’s rib instead of standard. I learned from making my Color Dipped Hat that fisherman’s rib is ridiculously stretchy. It also takes about twice as long to knit as a typical single rib, but it seemed like the right man for the job. I poked around different patterns on ravelry and settled on Susan B. Anderson’s How I Make My Socks. I knitted the ribbing longer than called for, and will probably end the stockinette section a little early, depending on how they fit as I go.


My progress so far!

The ribbing is definitely extremely stretchy:


I used a super stretchy cast on, too, so that shouldn’t be a problem. So far I’m really pleased with how it’s turning out! Both the yarn that I’m using and the dpns are from the amazing batch of yarn, fiber, needles, books, etc that I got recently from someone who is destashing. The yarn is Knit Picks Simple Stripes.


Sammy very kindly modelled for me!

If you haven’t checked out my fellow Socketeers, you can read Hannah’s post here (unsophisticated and jejune) and Paula’s post here (Spin a Yarn).  Happy (sock) knitting!

Bombs Away

I mentioned I really want to get my new shawl done by May 7, right? Well, I’ve been making pretty awesome progress on it. The thing consists of five striped sections and five lace sections. Earlier this afternoon, I was purling away on my last row of the third lace section. I might have been congratulating myself a little on having gotten so much done while simultaneously anticipating the welcome boredom of approximately 15 million miles of garter stitch looming on the horizon.

You can probably see where this is heading.

I’ve been very careful with the lace bits. Usually with lace I separate the repeats with stitch markers, but in this pattern the repeats are offset (so it’s a little trickier). Instead, I added a stitch marker on each RS row to separate every five or six repeats. Then, on the WS row, I’d count the number of stitches between each of the markers to make sure it was a multiple of six, and remove the markers as I went. So, I knew at the end of each WS row if I was on track or not. If my count came up wrong, I could more easily pinpoint where the error was. I inserted lifelines every six or eight rows, which I’m guessing is a lot compared to other knitters. I just figured it would make things faster if I did need to rip back at all.

So, maybe I lulled myself into a sense of lace security. I had lots of fallbacks in place in case I made a mistake by miscounting, forgetting where I was in the pattern, forgetting what row I was on, etc. It never dawned on me that I would drop stitches. Well, on that last purl row, I looked down just in time to see one little highlighter yellow stitch dropped, pulling out of the stitch below it in slow motion. I made a quick grab for a teeny crochet hook I had nearby and scooped the sucker up. I reknit it and put it back on the needle, then futzed around with the neighboring stitches to make sure everything looked right. It did and I carried on my merry way.

For about two stitches. Then, looking at the rows below the previously dropped stitch, I saw this:

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Eeek! The three stitch markers in the background are securing other unravelled stitches that showed up as I stretched the piece a bit. Somehow I must have dropped more than one, or caught it later than I thought. Either way, a good bit of damage was done.

What to do? I ran another set of needles through the knitting where my last lifeline was (eight rows back, sob). You can sort of see it in the pic. I’m debating on using the Yarn Harlot’s nifty repair technique versus just ripping eight rows out. Thoughts?

Whatever I decide, even I’m not crazy enough to try it until I have a chunk of toddler-free time combined with full daylight. In other words, I’m losing a ton of knitting time tonight, which seriously bums me out. Time to cast on something new, perhaps?

On an unrelated note, the stripeys are enjoying the sunshine:

Happy knitting!

FO Spotlight: Boot Cuffs for V Day

Okay, folks, I’m not big on Valentine’s Day. I’m not trying to be a scrooge or to rain on anyone’s love parade or anything. I’m pro-love and pro-expression-of-said-love. I’m just not on board with a more or less commercially born holiday that dictates when I must do this. However, I do live in this world and I am married to someone more fond of Valentine’s Day than I am*. So, since I love the wifey, I mustered up a little participation this year. She asked for some boot cuffs so I found a couple of patterns I thought looked good, matched up some yarn possibilities, and put my test knitting on a brief hold and made the woman some boot cuffs.

The rundown

Pattern: UGG HUG Boot Toppers by Alexandra Davidoff

Yarn: Just under one skein of Cascade 220. This particular color reeeeeally looks like Quatro, but isn’t. The label doesn’t say one thing about Quatro, just 220. I half wonder if it predates Quatro as the label looks like one of the old ones. The yarn came to me as part of my recent freecycle haul.

Size made: One (adult)

Needles: US8s for the body and 11s for the bind off

Techniques used: Longtail cast on, standard cast off, cabling

Modifications: Omitted one row in the initial ribbing (by mistake on the first one, noticed it on the second) and omitted one row in the final ribbing (on purpose to come in under 220 yards).

Ravelled: here

The Pretty

The close up pic shows the colors more accurately. I do like how these turned out, however they are a little on the loose side. I didn’t check gauge as I figured there’d be enough stretch to the pattern that it wouldn’t matter a ton if it wasn’t exactly right. There is stretch to it, but not a ton of recoil. The ribbing/cable pattern is 4×4 so there’s not as much recoil as there would be with a 1×1 or 2×2 rib and I didn’t take that into account. I will try to block them again and see if I can scrunch the ends up a bit and convince them to be a little stretchier.

Otherwise, I really like how the yarn and the pattern work together. It’s one of those situations where you don’t know how it’s going to turn out until you try it. The cables look much more complicated than they are. This would be a great first cable project! If I used this pattern again, I would probably omit one of the cable repeats for a slightly snugger fit.

When I asked the wifey what color she wanted, she gave me two answers. So, I decided that meant two pairs of boot cuffs. I was hoping to have the second pair done sometime on the 14th but I didn’t quite make it (haha…get it? Didn’t quite make it?). I did, however, manage to get one cast off so maybe tomorrow (technically today as it’s past midnight here) sometime I’ll get the second one done. Here’s Sammy helping to display the first one:

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This one is a heavily modified version of Helmikuu Boot Toppers. I’m not as happy with this pattern but I’m happy with what I came up with. If I had looked ahead a little more thoroughly, I would have done some things differently from the start. The pattern produces a cuff that is about 5″ tall, which I don’t think is long enough to be able to fold over and have stay in place reliably. I’ll go into more detail on the changes I made when I get this pair finished.

Other updates: I gave Betsey to my MIL. I think she liked it, but it’s hard to tell. I’m still working on the current test knit (Lancashire Dream) but since I’m just knocking out what seems like miles of stockinette for the body, there’s not a ton to report there. What I was thinking when I signed up to knit a cardigan (read: lots more purling than I really want to do) out of fingering weight yarn on US2s, I will never really know. At least it’s cute. I ordered the one skein I could find of madelinetosh tosh merino light in Filigree so that I can finish up my Athena shawl. And, I may or may not have two incorrectly sized attempts at a hat for Z on the needles. In two different yarns. I can neither confirm nor deny.**

Happy knitting!

*For the record, she had some very nice things for me, too.

**Well, I could…but I won’t.


It’s Knitting That Makes the World Go Round

I have a heartwarming knitting vignette to share, as well as updates on what’s on the needles currently and what’s barreling down the pike. So far I’m keeping up with my crazy test knitting commitments using a method somewhat foreign to me: organization.

But, first things first. My mom is also a knitter (hi, Mom!). She shared a story with me that made me feel all warm and fuzzy. For many years, she has made handknit prayer shawls. She puts a lot of thought and love into them. She makes them in different colors and different patterns so that there will always be something for everyone. She then donates them to a ministry at her church. Then, they are given to people who are going through rough times and need a little extra love and care. Most of the time, she never knows who they go to.

Well, the other day she got this email:

Just found out yesterday afternoon that your shawl has inspired someone in New Orleans to start a ministry in her Presbyterian church there!  My neighbor sent shawl to her step mother in NewOrleans. Her best friend saw it and got my phone number and called to get information on how to start a group! She said the recipient was so touched she cried when she saw the shawl,and that touched her to want to start a group!

Wow! Your shawl not only blessed that lady but because of it others will also be blessed!

This, dear readers, brings the joy of knitting full circle. It made my mother happy to knit the shawl and it made someone else happy to receive it. The recipient’s friend will no doubt get a sense of fulfillment from starting a new prayer shawl ministry. Then, the cycle starts all over again with new knitters and new prayer shawls.

I love that both the process of knitting and the finished results are able to have such a positive impact on people. I made a connection the other day when someone at my LYS was discussing this NYT article about the benefits of knitting: knitting, for me, helps with pain relief. It helps take my mind off it and also gives me an emotional boost. Knitting endorphins? I totally buy it. The act of giving someone else a knitted item has its own sense of reward, as well. Hopefully the item itself brings the recipient joy and, if that person is really knitworthy, it makes them feel loved and cared for because they understand the love that went into making it.

So, some of the knitted joy occupying my time (now that I have two shawls done) is the Lancashire Dream test knit. It’s a top down raglan cardigan that will be for my daughter. It’s going to be really hard to photograph until it’s off the needles and blocked, but here’s a glimpse at my progress:


It rolls and curls every which way because of all the stockinette and reverse stockinette fighting each other. But, it’s going to be very cute once I get it all flattened out!

I interrupted my test knitting mania to knock out a pair of boot cuffs for the wifey for V Day. I’ve got one done and the second well under way. I’m using the skein of Cascade 220 I got in my giant yarn score last week. It’s turning out to be a great yarn for this pattern. It’s soft but has a rustic look to it and, despite the tweediness, is working well for the cables.

The pattern I’m using is UGG HUG Boot Toppers and is a free ravelry download. If I have enough time, I’m going to make a second pair using this Helmikuu Boot Toppers pattern.

I’ve got a few more updates but I think that’s enough for one evening! So, happy knitting and I leave you with some cuddling kitties:IMG_5215IMG_5219IMG_5223

FO Spotlight: Betsey

The rundown

Pattern: Betsey by Amy Miller

Yarn: Ella Rae Classic Sand Art, 4 skeins

Size made: Added extra rows to make it longer and use up yarn

Needles: US11s for the body and 17s for the bind off

Techniques used: Russian join

Modifications: Added rows, as noted above

Ravelled: here

The Pretty

As hoped, the ruffle factor was tamed by blocking. I like that it’s a deep crescent shape as I think it will be good for wrapping up in. I love how the yarn meshed with the pattern. I prefer the random and variable color changes to the orderly appearance of the stripes the pattern calls for.

I knew I wanted it to be a big shawl, so I just kept working in pattern after I reached the end. I ended up doing almost two full extra “stripes” which comes to about thirteen extra rows, I believe. The edge is finished with an I cord bind off which I did very, very loosely as I wanted the edge to block well. I planned well as I had about 6.5 yards left after binding off!

I didn’t block it super aggressively. I just washed it, let it soak for a bit, squeezed all the water out that I possibly could, and laid it out without pinning it. I just sort of patted it into shape. The fabric already had a good deal of drape as I was working with worsted yarn on US11s so I didn’t need to stretch it much. I think it worked out perfectly. It flattened out without getting overly lacy.

I would definitely recommend this pattern. It’s a quick and mostly easy knit with a few tricks thrown in to keep it interesting. However, the pattern is easy to memorize and, being completely in garter stitch, works up fast.

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Smaller and rufflier pre-blocking

I hope my mother in law likes it! I will see her this weekend and will give it to her then.

I Like Big SHAWLS and I Cannot Lie

AKA FO Spotlight: Merinda test knit

I wrapped up my Merinda shawl today. As per usual, I finished the knitting some time ago but dragged my feet on weaving in the ends and blocking it. I hunkered down yesterday and just wove ends in every spare moment I had. I blocked it overnight and voila! Done.

The rundown

Pattern: Merinda by Ambah O’Brien, not yet published.

Yarn: madelinetosh Twist Light in Big Sur (420 yds) and Fathom (355 yds). Koigu KPM in Spring Green 2334 (445 yds).

Size made: One size. Mine ended up being about 120″ long and 40″ deep.

Needles: US5s for the body and 9s for the bind off

Techniques used: Wove in ends using a knit picker a la TECHknitter.

Modifications: None for the actual knitting. I did block it a touch larger (okay, a lot larger) than the pattern called for. More on that below.

Ravelled: Here.

The pretty

It’s a little tricky to tell from the pics, but the colors work together in a very interesting way. I used the Big Sur and the KPM for the stripe sections and the Fathom for the eyelet bands. The Big Sur and the KPM interact in a subtle but very interesting way. The bold graphic effect of the Fathom against the lighter blue greens is dramatic but not garish (IMNSHO). I love how it turned out and it was a joy to knit.

The shape is unique, as far as I can tell. It blocks into a triangle but right off the needles it’s a wonky quadrangle. It ends up being quite long and just slightly asymetrical. It was a bit of a challenge to block as I really don’t have the proper equipment or space. I pinned it to foam mats and/or the mattress on our queen size guest bed. Even laying it out diagonally, I still had to pin the tips to the side of the mattress. The dimensions given in the pattern are 98″ by 29″ but mine is 120″ by 40″!


Couldn’t even get it all in the picture!

I blocked it larger for a few reasons. First, I like a big shawl. I wear them kind of like scarves so it’s nice to have some length to wrap up in. Especially when it’s mostly lovely, silky soft madelinetosh! Second, the yarn just seemed to want to be bigger. I’m glad I listened as I love the resulting drape the fabric has.

The pattern isn’t released quite yet as Ambah wanted to fine tune a few things. I would highly recommend it once it’s published. It’s not a technically challenging knit and the design elements give you a lot of bang for your buck. It is miles of garter stitch but at least it works up fairly quickly. There are so many options for color combinations. I think it would look great with a gradient thrown in there, or a long color repeat yarn like Noro. You could opt for a high contrast pair for the stripes, or use a speckled yarn paired with a solid, and get really neat results. The possibilities are, as they say, endless!

And, because everyone loves a random and gratuitous cat pic or two, here are the latest stripey antics:


Oliver, aka “Kitten Man”, fishing for kibbles under the dishwasher


Sammy trying to retrieve his “fuzzy chicken” toy from under the china cabinet

Testing All the Things

One of my recent posts included some nonsense about not doing any more test knits for a while. My intentions were good. I keep finding myself up against knitting deadlines and I wanted to be a little more relaxed about it for a while. Also, the test knitting has limited my time to work on other projects. I had this whole plan. I haven’t even been looking at the Testing Pool forum (much).

However. Two of the designers I’ve worked with several times both earburned* me with some new patterns. I held out for a couple of days on the first one, and a couple of seconds on the next batch. I don’t even want to admit how many tests I’ve signed up to do between now and May because it’s a little more than was probably all that smart. They are all really cute designs, though! At least they’re all baby or kid sized, so they should work up pretty quickly.

In the meantime, my Merinda shawl just needs the ends woven in and blocking. My Athena shawl is waiting on more yarn (I decided to buy the skein available fsot on rav, but haven’t heard back from the seller yet). I cast off on Betsey last night, so that one just needs ends woven and blocking. The only thing actually on the needles right now is the Feathery Lace Stole. I am making progress on it…two rows at a time!

I got a massive haul of yarn yesterday (more on that later) so am trying to get all that organized. Once I get things sorted and stored I’ll be able to pull out some of the yarns I need for tests. Then, I will just knit like the wind! Good thing my kid likes the stuff I make for her!


*Ravelry’s equivalent of a page. Yes, it’s a verb now. Sort of.