The 30 Day Knitting Challenge: Day 14

Day 14: What’s the worst yarn/fiber that you’ve worked with and why?

Hoo boy, that’s a tough one to answer. I’m pretty sure there are plenty of awful yarn experiences I’ve had that I’ve blocked out of my memory. For what it’s worth, even decent yarn experiences apparently slip my memory: My mom told me on one of her recent visits that I knit her a hat while we were at a knitting retreat years ago. Once she said it, it sounded vaguely familiar, but I essentially have no memory of it. I wonder how many other Alex Originals are floating around out there that I’ve completely forgotten!

Right, worst yarn ever. You probably know by now that you’re not going to get just one answer. Let’s start with a recent experience:

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This is some random grey acrylic that was lurking in my stash. I have no idea where it came from, but it most likely was in a batch of yarn from Goodwill or the like. Now, I don’t hate acrylic yarn. I have some yarn elitism, to be sure, but there’s something to be said for having the right yarn for the job, and sometimes that’s acrylic. There are plenty of non-scratchy acrylics out there and I use them when appropriate:

But this particular grey acrylic was just nasty. Part of the problem was that I sort of just assumed it was worsted/aran weight, so I used it as such when making a Car Blanket for my fil. The other three yarns I used were all Caron Simply Soft. Throughout most of the project, I just knew that I hated working with it: It hurt my hands, it was stiff and scratchy, and the fabric it created was unpleasant. I forged ahead, though. It wasn’t until I was almost done with the blanket that I realized that I was knitting it at too tight of a gauge and that it was probably closer to bulky weight. I don’t think knitting it on larger needles would have sparked a love affair with it, but it might have been a little less intolerable than it was. In any case, the blanket turned out well and no one but me seemed to think the grey panels were sub par.

Another unsatisfactory yarn experience involved Berroco Linet:

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I have twelve skeins of this stuff. Twelve. 1320 yards. It came from the Goodwill windfall. It’s cool enough yarn, but I just tried to use it for the wrong project. Mind you, I have no idea what the right project would be, but this definitely wasn’t it. I started to make a Lacy Loo with it, but it just was not working:

The chainette construction of the yarn gives it a sort of angular quality, which made it odd to work with. It wasn’t physically unpleasant like the grey acrylic, it was just not satisfying. I ended up making the Lacy Loo out of a purple merino (Jil Eaton Minnow Merino) instead:

Last up is this sort of greenish-brown acrylic boucle stuff:

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It even kind of looks like a turd, doesn’t it? I lost the ball band for it a long time ago and have no memory of what it is. I tried starting something with it years ago, but it just pulls in that weird boucle way. It also has a very thin core of just a thread or two surrounded by a lot of fuzz so it was very hard to work with. I find that I tend to not care for most boucle yarns in general. I haven’t worked with a really nice one yet, though, so they may actually be lovely and I just don’t know it yet!

What’s the worst yarn you’ve worked with?

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

FO Spotlight: Lacy Loo

Yes, I did eventually finish a Lacy Loo! After starting over several times and ultimately switching yarns, I have an FO that I’m very happy with.

The rundown

Pattern: Lacy Loo, $6 US. I purchased it as part of the ebook Dressing Up–The Dress Collection for $10.

Yarn: 6 skeins (462 yards) Classic Elite Jil Eaton MinnowMerino. It’s an aran weight merino single that’s almost unspun. There’s virtually no twist to it. I love the rich color.

Size made: 4T with 3/4 sleeves and somewhere between tunic length and dress length

Needles: US7 and US9

Techniques used: Russian join, short rows, simple lace.

Modifications: None

Ravelled: Here.

The pretty

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I will try again to get my daughter to model it for pictures. The last time I tried, she no sooner had it on than she was rolling on the floor in a pile of cat hair. Toddlers! In any case, I’m really happy with how this turned out. It’s on the larger size but that was the intention. She should be able to wear it as a dress for now and as a tunic later. The yarn I used is on the heavy side for aran, even, so it’s pretty thick and warm. The color is really lovely.

The design is a simple top-down raglan with a basic lace panel down the front. It has seed stitch around the neck band, cuffs and the bottom hem. The short rows are just below the neckline on the back and are just enough so that it should hang evenly when it’s worn. It’s a little fiddly to keep track of where you are in the pattern but that’s really the most difficult aspect of it. There are directions provided for a shirt, tunic or dress with short sleeves or 3/4 sleeves.

The designer, VANGY knits, has a really cool standing offer of a free pattern for anyone who completes a project from one of her designs within thirty days of it being released. Well, I qualified with this and was able to get a free pattern! She has lots of really nice patterns available. I especially like her use of color for the sample projects. You can check out her designs here if you’d like.

Building a Knitting Community

I had the pleasure of going to a fiber arts group meet up last night. It’s a newly resurrected group of local knitters, crocheters, felters and other fiber artists that meets a couple of times a month. Last night’s theme was show and tell, so I brought a slew of FOs to share. It was really nice both to see what other people had made and to get some lovely feedback on the things I shared. I’m hoping I can go regularly in the future!

I have a few new things to share, starting with one teeny FO. I made an Ear bud pouch to match the River District Toque I made for my SIL. The pattern is free on ravelry and is a great way to use up odds and ends of yarn.

IMG_4288I used about 19 yards of malabrigo Rios. I made a couple of modifications to the pattern, other than using worsted weight yarn. I did one extra decrease row at the bottom and, instead of grafting the bottom edges together with Kitchener stitch, I turned it inside out and did a three needle bind off. It worked really well!

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IMG_4282If I make this out of worsted weight yarn again, I would cast on fewer stitches and add one increase row to make the neck a little snugger.

The increases used in the pattern were new to me. It calls for raised increases (RRI and LRI). See my project notes for explanations. I found them a little tricky at first and couldn’t find much online to help. However, they’re really easy once you get it down.

I think this will be a great addition to my SIL’s present!

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IMG_4285My previous WIPs are coming along well. Lacy Loo is done except for weaving in a couple of ends and blocking it. I had the little try it on and she immediately starting rolling around on the floor, so I couldn’t get a good picture. I’m happy with how it turned out. More on that when it’s blocked and properly photographed!

My Color Dipped Hat is also coming along well. I’m so glad I ripped it out and restarted. It looks just right size-wise now. It’s probably close to halfway done. I haven’t been hurrying on it since it doesn’t need to be done until Christmas.

I’ve cast on two new projects in the past couple of days. One is done and blocking but I can’t share it yet–it’s a test knit for a pattern that’s not released yet. It is a baby hat in super bulky yarn so it went really, really fast. The other is my Pretty Crabby hat for my daughter’s bestie. The pattern is Jumbo Crab Cap from Baby Beasties: Monster mittens, hats & other knits for babies and toddlers, a book the wifey got me from the library. It doesn’t seem to be in ravelry yet. I don’t love the pattern so far so I’m making a lot of modifications. The idea is so cute, though, that I want to make it. Mods so far are doing 2×2 ribbing instead of a rolled stockinette brim and casting on 75% of the called for stitch count, then increasing on the first round after the ribbing. So far I’ve finished the hat portion. It’s washed and is currently blocking/drying. I’m using stash acrylic as I doubt it will get a ton of wear. Also, it was the only yarn I had on hand that was the right weight and color (and it’s a good stash buster).

After looking over the directions for the claws, I think I’m going to make some more modifications. The pattern says to make a total of four claw shapes and then sew two together to make each claw. However, the edges are all rough and uneven in the pictures so I’m going to try to figure out a way to knit them in the round instead. Shouldn’t be too hard. The eyes are designed similarly so I’m going to have to figure something out for those, too.

I have lots of projects in the planning stages. I want to make a car blanket for my FIL for Christmas. I’m going to base it loosely on this pattern, but instead of knitting it in one contiguous piece, I want to do garter squares in alternating directions a la Mason Dixon Knitting. I’m planning on using up as much of my Caron Simply Soft as I can on it. I have black, black tweed and a dark red. I’m going to throw some other random grey acrylic in there too so it will have Ohio colors. I need to start swatching so I have an idea of how to divvy up the colors based on the yardage I have.

Another project that’s percolating is a chevron blanket using two different shades of an acrylic/wool blend I have in my stash. I have enough yardage to make a decent size blanket, I think. Not sure what it will be for, but it’ll be useful to someone at some point. It might actually end up being a car blanket for me.

At some point, I will start working on a Feathery Lace Stole for my mom using the purple Rowan Kidsilk Haze I scored at Goodwill a while ago. The wifey requested a Drachenfels so we’re in the process of selecting yarn for that. I’ll make another shawl for my MIL, but I don’t know what pattern or yarn that one will be. Also, I have a couple more Christmas presents to figure out, but they shouldn’t be anything that’s too huge or time consuming.

Last, but not least, I was lucky enough to win another pattern from the weekly chat giveaway on Melanie Berg’s ravelry group. This time, I chose The Miller’s Daughter. It’s a shawl knit in three colors of lace weight yarn. I have tentatively selected yarns, and I’m super excited about it. I am planning on using The Fibre Company Road to China Lace in Sapphire and Cherry Tree Hill Superlace Ragg in Ocean for the main colors and madelinetosh tosh lace in Edison Bulb for the accent color.

I think it’s going to look AWESOME. I don’t know that I’ll get to it while it’s still cold enough to wear it, but I’ll try! I have my work cut out for me!

Putting in Time

Now that my WIPs have been whittled down a bit, I’ve got two main things on my needles right now. First is my restarted Color Dipped Hat. An overwhelming majority of you advised frogging the first one, and I’m glad I did. I cast on again, one and a half sizes smaller. So far, so good! It’s even going a bit quicker now because I have a good handle on how to do it.

IMG_4264Now that it’s set up, the name of the game is just slogging away at it until it’s done.

My other WIP is my second take on Lacy Loo. So, for this, I have to confess that I broke my yarn diet. I really wanted to make this top and I really didn’t have any appropriate yarn for it. I suppose I could have used a different weight yarn and done the math to modify the pattern, but…there’s a reason I don’t write my own patterns! In any case, I was at my LYS the other day just to hang out and I cruised the sale shelves. I found six skeins of purple Jil Eaton Minnow Merino for half price. I would have liked a little more yardage, but I knew I liked the yarn and it was the right weight. Also, the color is really lush and beautiful. I used the same yarn in different colors to make my Valentine Helix Hat and Mittens. So, I decided to go for it!

IMG_4239See what I mean? So, I cast on again and, a couple of days later, I’m past the sleeve divide and just chipping away at lots of stockinette. It’s aran weight and I’m making the 4T size so it’s not too bad, but it is a little boring. The lace panel keeps it interesting enough, though.

IMG_4265 IMG_4266There are a few short rows on the top of the back. I’ve done short rows before, but never in a setting where a wrap and turn was necessary. So, I learned something new! I actually watched a free class on craftsy about short rows and found it really helpful. My first attempt isn’t perfect, but I’m definitely happy with it. I think blocking will help with the little bit of unevenness there:

IMG_4267I’m really happy with how it’s turning out!

Last for today, I do have an FO to share. I’m not giving it a full post because It was really not a fun project and I don’t love the finished product. I’m of course talking about my garter yoke baby cardi that I FINALLY put the buttons on and washed.

IMG_4247 IMG_4245 IMG_4248See? Buttons. Done. I used Caron Simply Soft Tweed and made the 6-12 month size. It came out a little bigger than the pattern dimensions but I think it will be fine. I opted for ribbing at the bottom and the cuffs instead of garter stitch and I did I cord button loops. For all my complaining about it, I’m happy with how the buttons turned out. It’s so hard to get buttons on knitwear even, but I got pretty close. I even added a yarn “shank” a la TECHknitter so that the loops would actually work.

I didn’t like this project for a few reasons. First, I just do not like the yarn. It’s soft, but in a weird way, and it’s sort of squeaky and weird to work with. I was knitting it at a snug gauge, which probably had something to do with it. Second, I did the sleeves with the crappiest dpns known to man, which just made it painful. Third, black yarn is just hard to see! In any case, I think the finished product has everything I set out to do. It’ll look cute on the kid, it’s machine washable, and it’s a handmade gift. I just won’t be sorry to see it go!

Happy knitting!

Here’s One Way to Get Rid of Some WIPs:

Just frog ’em all. Froggity frog frog frog. Then, you can cast on for something new with a clear conscience! I made the decision to rip out (ribbit) my Color Dipped Hat (thanks for all the advice). I haven’t actually done it yet, but I will. That one I will restart, but I guess I got the frog bug because I just decided to deep six another project that was giving me headaches. The Lacy Loo just was not going to work in Berroco Linet. Just not happening. So, that one will get ripped out too and I’ll keep my eye out for a better yarn choice for the pattern. I also decided to scrap a dishcloth I cast on a couple months ago as I have no idea where I was in the pattern, and not a ton of interest in dishcloths at the moment. So there! Two WIPs gone and one on the way to recovery!

I’ve been knocking WIPs out another way today, too. I’ve actually been working on finishing some of the damn things! I finished the knitting, and even wove in all the ends, on my Garter Yoke Baby Cardi ages ago but was dragging my feet on sewing in the buttons. Well, I sewed on all five of them today and even gave it a wash. Once it dries, it will be ready to get out of my life and off the WIP list! These aren’t the greatest pics, but they prove there are buttons:

IMG_4224 IMG_4225Of note, I used TECHknitter’s button shanking technique. Black yarn is really tricky to photograph. Once it is done drying, I’ll try to get some shots in natural light that are a little clearer.

Another WIP that’s teed up and ready to go is my Sunlight Shawlette. I finally got around to blocking it today. It’s currently drying on our very tidy guest bed:

IMG_4222I’m really happy with how it turned out. I of course forgot to take pre-blocking measurements, but it grew a lot. I hope the recipient likes it! I should be able to give it to her this week.

Oh yeah, and I straight up finished another WIP. Say hi to my third pair of Passport Mitts! I made them out of the same orange Ella Rae Lace Merino DK. These are the size large but like the other orange pair, I stuck with US2s the whole time instead of switching to 3s. This yarn is just not anything close to DK weight and I like the way the knitted fabric was with the 2s. Also, the intended recipient wants a snug fit. I think they’re just about perfect!

IMG_4221So, I’m down to six WIPs. Two are blocking and will be done within a day or two. One is my Drachenfels which I still just haven’t blocked and taken final photos of. I really just want to wear it all the time so I don’t want it out of commission for a couple of days! Plus, to block it, I’d have to legitimately clean off the guest bed and that hasn’t been high on my priority list. I’m left with the Color Dipped Hat which is back to square one and two old-ish WIPs just waiting around for some finishing. Capucine needs tassels and Twirly Summerskirt needs elastic in the waistband.

You know what the next question is, right? What should I cast on next? Well, I swatched for Hermione’s Everyday Socks the other day and came in closer to 8 sts/inch than 9. I was even using US1s! I thought about casting on anyway because I would need to adjust the pattern for my big feet, but I’m starting to wonder if that’s the best next sock pattern for me. I kind of want something with more explicit instructions for how to make size adjustments, or at least something that offers different sizes so that I can see more clearly how to manipulate things. I stumbled across a link to get a free Craftsy.com class the other day and chose to use it on a sock class. I think I might watch that before I start my next sock project.

So, what else is on my queue? A few things, but nothing I’m ready to start yet. I guess I’ll just commence with the frogging!

There’s Only One Way Out of a Knitting Quagmire

So. Socks. I knit a pair, remember?

IMG_3942In case you were wondering, it’s no longer that green outside my windows. There’s a distinct orange tinge to everything and a chilly breeze darting around. It’s getting to be that “knitting weather” everyone is talking about. I keep seeing socks on my blog reader (SpinningWoollyYarns, for one. The Yarn Harlot, for another). I’m in a virtual sock knitting club (check out Maggs, Hannah and Paula). I just received a package of amazing sock yarn! I should be casting on in a frenzy, right?

Well, I haven’t. I am stuck in knitting quagmire. I am making decent progress on my Color Dipped Hat, but man is it slow going. Fisherman’s rib, I am learning, is wonderfully thick, squishy and stretchy. It is made that way via what is, for me, an excruciatingly slow process. Each row really only adds half the stitches (since you knit or purl into the stitch below half the time) so each physical row of knitting takes two rounds to complete. It’s slower than regular 1×1 ribbing sooo…yeah. It’s taking a long time. And, I’m past the two color portion so I don’t have as much visual interest to keep me motivated.

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My other quagmire is the Lacy Loo I’ve now started three times. First time, I messed up the stitch count in an obvious place and in a way I couldn’t fix. Second, I got to a point (thankfully early) in the pattern that wasn’t making sense. I posted in the designer’s group and got a response back but I had screwed things up just enough (and struggled a little initially on the short rows) that I decided to just rip it out and restart it again. I got the right circular needles for it so the going got a little better after that:

IMG_4192My problem now is that, even though I got going and it’s all making sense now, I am continuing to question my yarn choice for this. It’s really more worsted than aran, and the pattern gauge is really closer to bulky, so it’s knitting up loose. It just might not be ideal for a three year old…but that said, it’s kinda pretty and would look really sweet on her with leggings.

My other quagmires all have to do with either blocking, sewing on buttons or making tassels. I can’t swear that any of them will ever get done, and none is really inspiring enough to keep me going!

So, in light of all that stuff going on, and the amount of Christmas knitting I’m still hoping to accomplish, and the thought that maybe someday soonish I’ll go back to work and stop having such a ridiculous abundance of time to knit, it’s been hard to give myself the liberty of casting on for a pair of socks for myself. So when Maggs suggested in her Thursday sock post to maybe put the sock club on hiatus until January, I thought that made a lot of sense. But…socks! They keep calling to me! The sock pattern I got from knittinginfrance is toe-up, and I need to knit some more socks so I’ll be ready for that! Paula is making Hermione’s Everyday Socks, and that’s the pattern I was thinking I’d do next! It’s going to be cold soon! Everyone’s knitting socks and they’re all so cool!

So, screw Christmas–I’m makin’ SOCKS!

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I’m Just Not Sure About This or Experiments in Yarn Selection

I cast on a new project last night. It’s one I’ve been thinking about for a few days but just couldn’t settle on what yarn to use. The pattern is Lacy Loo and it’s for a shirt/tunic/dress for the little. It calls for worsted or aran weight at a gauge of 4 sts to the inch. Now, in my mind that’s closer to bulky. But the pattern is, well, lacy, so I’m afraid bulky weight won’t show the lace well. The aran weight choices I already have in my stash in sufficient quantity are some malabrigo twist or some acrylic. The malabrigo is not in a great colorway for this, so I hesitate to use it. The acrylic? Just not doing it. It’s not decent acrylic. It’s older stuff that I want to use for things that won’t be right against skin. So I started looking at worsted, knowing it would have to be on the loose side.

I have tentatively settled on Berocco Linet. I have a ton of it from the legendary Goodwill windfall. I think it could be really cool, but it also might not work at all.


Here’s the first few rows of the neck started. It’s a pain in the ass to knit. I’m using US9s and will be switching to US10.5s shortly as that’s what it took to get gauge. I don’t have circs in that size so I’ll be using dpns. The yarn is a weird texture and construction. It seems like the metallic pieces are less flexible than the rest so it bends in a weird way. It’s kind of splitty. Those six rows of seed stitch took me approximately forever. There’s a good chance the fabric will be too loosely knit to be practical for a garment for a three year old.

At the same time, I kinda love it. It’s shiny and has that linen-y drape. I’m going to keep going with it for a bit and see how it progresses.


If it goes all right on the 10.5s I’ll invest in an appropriate set of circs.

One pro to getting this done is that, according to the pattern page, you can get a free pattern of you complete a Lacy Loo by November 15. I’m totally down for free!

In other knitting news, I have finally finished my second pair of Passport Mitts and have cast on for a third in the same orange yarn. I’ll give the finished pair a review post of their own soon. I’ve also finished and blocked my Tunbridge Hat but have not been able to get modeled pictures in natural light yet.

I’m making good progress on a Color Dipped Hat for my SIL’s bf (not sure I’ve blogged about this one yet). The pattern is from Purl Soho and is the first of theirs that I’ve attempted. I love their stuff, though. Everything has such clean lines and lovely color choices, and most of their patterns are free. It’s turning out beautifully but I am a bit worried it’s too big. I’ve made the decision to carry on (the 3.5″ of brim I’ve done so far have taken forever–fisherman’s rib eats both yarn and time) and to go for long and skinny when I block it. I’m going to drop the blue and finish it with just the charcoal from here on out.



It’s reversible! And so squishy! This pattern is definitely a favorite.

I’ve been trying to reach out and find more knitting community lately. I’ve been hanging out at my LYS a bit when I have time and I went to a fiber arts meet up last night. It’s been good to meet other knitters and fall into the natural collaboration that happens. I hope that once I go back to work, I will still be able to find the time to continue.

There’s a lot more in my head, but my phone is threatening to overheat! So until next time, happy knitting and I’m feeling some healthy jealousy for everyone who was able to go to Rhinebeck last weekend. Next year, I’m going and that’s final!