W.I.P. Wednesdays: Getting It Done Early

I made some serious progress on knitting this week.  I think it definitely helps that I’m mostly working on projects for kids lately, so that definitely helps.  Those work up so much quicker than full sized sweaters for me.  The progress feels really good.

This is Luca’s Lord Loxley Pullover.  It’s not done yet.  I still need to do the sleeves, sew in the snap tape, and block it, but it’s looking pretty good.  If you didn’t know it was supposed to have sleeves it would look pretty done.  Bear wanted to wear it right away, and it’s becoming tempting not to put it away for Christmas.  Christmas can come early, right?  It’s certainly big enough that if it gets put aside for Christmas it will still be plenty big by then.  It feels really good to have Christmas knitting out of the way so soon.

I will say that with this pattern there was a little bit of improvising.  There were a couple points where things just didn’t add up, so I decided to fudge it and go with it anyway, particularly in the hood.  It all worked out pretty well, so I’m not complaining.  There’s also reference to a stripe pattern for the sleeves, but I can’t find a listing for the stripe pattern anywhere, which may just be my own oversight.  Even so, I’m loving how this turned out and I’d definitely recommend the pattern to another knitter.  I can’t be sure I’ll ever knit another one (mostly because there are too many other patterns I want to knit while the kids are still small), but it was definitely a fun knit and totally worth it.

This is Sander’s Thingamajigger.  I love this pattern so far.  I’m finding that I really like knitting top-down raglan sweaters.  I’ve only knit one this way, but so far I think it’s my favorite construction.  Of course, we’ll see how I feel about it when I go back to pick up stitches for the turtle neck and the sleeves, since I hate picking up stitches, but so far I absolutely love it.

I have to admit, there’s a part of this pattern that has me really intimidated.  I’ve been looking ahead and I’m really confused about how the pockets are done.  I’m sure I’ll be able to figure them out, and if not, there are a lot of people who have knit it on Ravelry, so there are plenty of people to ask.  But this is my first ever project with pockets, so this is entirely new to me.  I’m kind of excited to do it, honestly.

Though I don’t have a picture, I’ve almost finished a single sock too.  I only really work on it when I’m babysitting, so I don’t make much progress with it, but it’s getting there.  I’ll eventually have a pair of socks to show off.

Pretty much everything else has been on hold.  I haven’t been knitting on my scarf, though I really should.  One sweater is on hold because I’m waiting to hear back from Knit Picks on it (though I’m less than hopeful and may just make it up as I go along).  I have another sweater that’s on hold because, honestly, I’m just not up for working on that much in the way of cables right now.  I have slippers that I’ve started and I really need to go back and finish.  There’s a hat that just needs ends woven in and tassels put on.  There’s a lot that needs love.  This is very much not like me, but I guess I’m just becoming like the average knitter.  I have to admit, it’s kind of nice to have projects to cycle through, just for the fun of it.


Stuck, But Moving On

I was so happy about the Reindeer Sweater up until recently.  I was absolutely cruising along.  I loved the pattern and the way it was turning out.  I couldn’t wait to get to the bust increases so I could be one step closer to putting it all together.  I loved it so much.

This is where the sweater ended when I got to the increase chart.  I should have read the chart over thoroughly before I started working on this sweater.  I would have caught the mistake sooner.  There are increases on the grid for the chart, but there’s no increase stitches listed.  I literally have no idea what I’m supposed to do to increase according to the pattern.  Someone else has completed the pattern, so I can only imagine that someone must have, but I don’t know how they did it, because I’ve checked the instructions three times, and the answer isn’t there.

I did the only thing I knew to do.  I put in an email to Knit Picks customer support.  Now, I’ve done this once before over an issue with a broken needle and I never heard back.  It resulted in me ordering a new set, even though the thing just came apart in my hands.  It’s not like I actually broke it.  But I’m not overly optimistic about this.  It’s been probably close to a week and I’ve heard nothing back.  This doesn’t inspire me with a lot of confidence.  Granted, they may be contacting the designer over it, which may take some time, but even getting an automated email saying my concern was received and would be handled would be something.  I have a funny feeling I’m going to have to make it up as I go along, or to try and contact the designer on Ravelry, even though she says to go through Knit Picks customer support, because if I’m not getting answers from them, someone needs to get back to me.  Obviously this pattern needs an errata, or I missed something, or I don’t know what, but I need someone to point it out for me because I really have no clue.

And it’s not just that.  The pattern clearly does need an errata.  There’s a section of the sleeve pattern that has one extra stitch.  It’s clear on the chart because there’s three purls on the side of the pattern on one side, and two on the other, so the logical choice is to take out the extra stitch and make the sides symmetrical, which is what I did.  But clearly the pattern needs to be updated so that change can be reflected.

It’s hard for me because I am such a new sweater knitter.  I’m not an accomplished sweater knitter, or garment knitter of any kind.  I’ve done a lot of hats, socks, and fingerless gloves.  I’ve done a few shawls.  But the concept of body shaping is totally foreign to me, as is making those increases look natural in the pattern.  I have no idea how to make them where it wouldn’t look obvious, and for such a lovely sweater, I wouldn’t want to mar it that way.  I mean, I’m in love with the look of this pattern, so I really want it to look as good as it does on the model.  Well, close enough, at least.  My body is clearly not as slim as hers is, but that’s beside the point.

While I’m in limbo on that pattern, I put both sleeves from the Reindeer Sweater on one long cable so I could free up a cable to work on this.  This is the Lord Loxley Pullover by Megan Grewal.  I’m knitting this out of Knit Picks Swish DK, which I love.  After using its worsted variant on the Squirrel Sweater, I couldn’t wait to try it in this.  The squirrel sweater washed so incredibly well and is so soft now.  I think this will be great for my littlest to wear.

For the Loxley I’m working in the exact colors suggested by the pattern, though I’m not sure they really match the picture.  I think the original was knit up in a different yarn, and was later adapted for the Knit Picks yarn.  These were the colors my littlest picked, and I’m working it for the size 8, even though he’d probably fit best in the 6, or even the 4 (he’s pretty bitty for a 5 year old).  I’m making it for Christmas, so I wanted to make sure there’s plenty of room to grow.  Besides, with four kids it’s not like I have the time to knit them a whole lot of sweaters each year, so I want them to get the most possible wear out of the ones I make them.  I’d rather have to roll up sleeves and get another year or two of wear out of it than have to give it up after all that hard work, especially since after my littlest, there’s no one left to hand those sweaters down to.  I suppose I could always hold on to them in case I some day have grandkids, but that may be years, if it ever happens, and by then I’ll probably want to knit all new things for them, and these sweaters may not be in great condition from being stored.  I’d rather pass them on to neighbors or someone who will actually use them.

So that’s what I’ve been up to.  I’ll probably have a lot more to say on this sweater as time goes on, especially with how quickly it’s working up.  I wouldn’t be surprised if I finished it in as little as a month, even with having to rip out a whole pattern repeat (because I made a mistake, which meant pulling back over 20 rows), knitting on other projects, and having the fiddly bit of figuring out how to add a hood.  I’m encouraged by how quickly it’s working up.

Actually, for that matter, it’s working up so quickly that I ordered the yarn for my next one’s sweater, so I can have it ready to go when I’m done with this one, in case the Reindeer Sweater is still on hold, and the Valentine Sweater is to cumbersome to want to deal with on a regular basis (so much for having that done for Valentine’s Day…what was I thinking?)  It feels good to be lining things up for the kids so they’ll be ready in plenty of time for Christmas.  I might actually meet my Ravelery goal of 20 projects this year if this keeps up!

F.O. Friday

I did it!  My first project of the year is finished.  Actually, they were finished last week, but I never posted about them.  I’m just happy that I finally have one thing off the needles this year, and it was something I actually started this year too.

Those are the socks.  I love the way the blue and the pink look together.  I’m really hoping to get the purple ones cast on soon, but I want to finish a pair of socks for myself first.  I’ve been putting everyone else first lately when it comes to socks.  It’s about time I crank out a pair for myself.  But I’m super happy with the way these turned out!

The Grandma Sweaters

Ever since my daughter was three my grandmother has been making stuff for the kids.  I can’t fault her for not making stuff for my daughter before that because I had fallen off the face of the planet and we weren’t in touch, but since then it’s something the kids have come to expect at least yearly.  In the beginning of winter they get hats and mittens.  Sometime over the winter they get sweaters.

This year (being my first year of having this blog) I wanted to share some knits from the knitter that got me started.  If it wasn’t for my grandmother, I wouldn’t even know how to knit.  I picked it up because I remember her knitting all the time, and I was always impressed with her ability to turn what seemed like little more than string into wearable garments.  It was with her in mind that I picked up my first “Learn to Knit” kit, years after she attempted to teach me only to find I didn’t have a head for it.  Sometimes you just have to learn these things as an adult.

This is the first of the sweaters to come out of the box.  Luca was so excited that it had a Minion on it.  And it was so incredibly soft!  I am seriously jealous of how soft this sweater is!  It’s also in Luca’s favorite shade of blue.  I know she couldn’t have known that, given she’s out of state and doesn’t get much time with the kids, but she somehow managed to pick just the right one.

This is Corde’s sweater.  What does she love about it?  Aside from the pocket, it’s got all the “purly bumps!”  She loves the purl side out on things, so having a sweater with a lot of that was absolutely perfect for her.  This is also her first adult sized sweater, so she’s super happy about that.

Sander and A.J. really loved theirs too, especially Sander.  It’s his favorite shade of green, the shade he wants me to make a sweater for him.  It’s also got a huge Minion on it, and Minions are his favorite thing ever right now.  A.J. has orange, which he loves because it’s a Halloween color, and a Transformer, which is also pretty cool.  It even says Transformer on the bottom, which I think is cool because I’ve never done any kind of lettering on knits.  I bet I could, but I’m always impressed by it when I see it.

The kids were so excited about their sweaters.  It’s one thing they look forward to every year, knits from their Great-Grandma.  They call them “The Grandma Sweaters,” even though they’re really made by Great-Grandma.  Those knits get a lot of love too, in spite of things like lost mittens.  (I swear, mittens are the most frequently lost items in my house!)  There’s something special about getting things made with love.

I have to say, I have a lot to thank my grandmother for.  Without her I doubt I ever would have become a knitter.  I have fond memories of double knit mittens, puppet mittens, and a very special sweater with kangaroos on it.  Years later I can’t stop talking about that sweater.

Now, because of her encouragement, I’ve become quite the knitter.  I’ve pushed myself to take on harder and harder projects, because I love to challenge myself.  It’s become something I love and something we have in common.  It’s a way we can create useful things for the people we love, even if my knits have started out so much for myself.  Knitting gifts is so much more personal, and she’s definitely taught me that.  I can’t help but love that we have this in common!

W.I.P. Thursday Again

Well, I didn’t get to updating yesterday like I wanted to because I was sick.  I wasn’t much in the mood to do anything.  Thankfully, I’m feeling much better, so I can update all my happy little knits!

This is my Northern Lights Socks, at least the first one, before I frogged it and started over.  This is Knit Picks Stroll Hand Painted in Northern Lights.  I know, creative name for my project, huh?  I’m probably about back to this place in the work again.  I decided I’ve been knitting enough socks for everyone else (and by that I mean two pairs for someone else…)  It’s time to knit myself a pair.  Besides, I just love this yarn.  I’m not as much about the yarn I was using before.  It feels a bit scratchy to me, but this yarn is soft and lovely.  The only thing I’m concerned about is the wear.  They may wear out quicker because they’re softer.  Oh well, I guess that means I just have to make more socks!

And this is how far I’ve gotten in the Reindeer Sweater!  I have to admit, by this point the pattern is kind of dragging on me.  I think this is the one downside to knitting sweaters.  They’re large enough and enough of the same repetitive pattern that it starts to get old.  I actually think I would be happier knitting a plain sweater with endless rounds of knitting, no pattern involved.  But this sweater is coming along to look so pretty!  It’s totally worth the cables that are starting to get a little tedious.

I’m about halfway through the decrease chart on this one.  As you can imagine by the current length, this is looking to be a long sweater.  I’m okay with that.  I actually like long sweaters more than shorter ones, so this will be just fine by me.  Unfortunately, that means I’ve got a lot more work on the same repetitive pattern.

And this is where I have to admit that I’ve once again fallen off the path with my other projects.  I haven’t knit a stitch on my other sweater in perhaps two weeks.  I think I may have thrown on another color on the scarf, but it’s been a while since I’ve given either of them much love.  And I haven’t done a whole lot of knitting in general this week.  The part that makes me feel really guilty?  I still haven’t finished weaving in the ends on my daughter’s hat!  By the time it’s done it’ll be too warm to wear it!

There’s so much I have to get done.  I’d best start rolling.  After all, I have a minimum of four sweaters to knit this year, and one to finish.  I just might have bitten off more than I can chew on this one.  Thankfully, two of those sweaters are for kids, one for a tween, and one for a very small teen.  Plus one is already halfway done.  I’m getting there, slowly but surely.  Now I just need to work at having things off the needles so I’m more open to start new projects!

W.I.P. Wednesday: Down to Two

This was an unproductive week.  I only made progress on two projects.  I feel like I’m neglecting my other projects, but that’s just how it’s been.  I’ve really been into my sweater, so I’ve been sticking close by that, and neglecting pretty much everything else.

The Reindeer Sweater is really coming along!  Last week, I think, I had just finished the sleeves.  This week I’ve managed to get a good start to the body.  That’s got to be about ten inches or so (though I don’t know because I haven’t measured).  I’ve gotten a good start on the decrease chart, though I still have a long way to go.  There are a lot of stitches in the body, so it’s going to take me a while.  I’m not complaining because this is my favorite project by far right now.  I really love working on it.

This whole thing reminds me of when I used to be monogamous with projects, which wasn’t all that long ago.  I used to love picking up a project and working it through to the end, dedicating my every waking moment to it.  That hasn’t been how I’ve done things for a good long while.  I’ve noticed that projects that get a little more tedious and repetitive have me wishing for something else to break it up.  I still give them love time and again, but I tend to make a lot more progress on the things that are a lot more engaging, and where I seem to be making a lot more progress really quickly.  It really suits me to have more than one project in my life.

And my socks!  Okay, they’re not “my” socks.  They’re going to be gifted for Valentine’s Day, but still, they’re socks that I’m making.  I’ve made it past the heel in the second sock, and I’m making good progress.  From the heel to the end is what I got done today while babysitting.  I feel pretty good about it.  These will definitely be done in plenty of time for Valentine’s Day.  I may have to see if I can cast on and whip up a second pair before the holiday, though I think that’s asking a bit much.  I don’t have as much travel knitting to do for the next little while, which I’m relieved about because I need a break from all that activity!  It was just too much.

I feel like I don’t have much to say this week.  I haven’t gotten a whole lot done.  I mean, I’ve made some fantastic progress on that sweater, but nothing to say about any of the other projects I’ve been neglecting this week.  And this weekly check-in is definitely good for me when it comes to accountability!  It’s proof of just how much I have (or haven’t been) accomplishing.  It’s also a good time to think about what I haven’t been moving on lately and probably could use a little love.

If It Weren’t for the Trend

I think it must have been ten or fifteen years ago that knitting really became trendy.  I have to say, I can thank that for taking up knitting again.  It seemed like knitting was everywhere around me, and not just in older people, it was people my age too.  It seemed like books were geared towards people my age, knitting up things that were trendy and fun to knit, but also totally wearable.

That’s the world I was in when I first started knitting.  Ravelry had only barely existed at the time (and as soon as I found out about it, I threw my email in for the beta), so most of what I learned to knit was from books.  No, not from books so much, but a lot of my projects came from the ball bands on craft store yarns.  And I learned a lot from books and those early projects.  There really wasn’t a huge number of tutorials on YouTube at the time, and when I was first learning I didn’t have internet anyway, so I really grew to love my selection of books.

But before that?  My mind was stuck on that classic image of knitters from movies, the kind of knitters that knit tacky things and the recipients have to grin and accept it, even though they know it’s horrible.  Or they’re knit in this horribly scratchy yarn that’s impossible to wear.  I’ve had people suggest the Weasley sweaters from Harry Potter are the same way.  That was the majority of experience with knitting.  I didn’t realize how incredibly wearable and trendy knitting could be.

Granted, my own grandmother knit, so I had some memory of knitting that wasn’t scratchy yarns and hideous sweaters.  She’s always made nice, simple hats for the kids, stuff that never really goes out of style.  They all get pretty simple and classic mittens too.  No, they don’t.  The little ones get puppet mittens, which were definitely a favorite of mine when I was younger.  Even when I was first learning to knit and I didn’t have years of “grandma knits” as the kids call them, I still had my experience when I was a kid, of puppet mittens and double knit mittens that always matched whatever color our jacket was that year.  I think I remember hats with ear flaps, and while I hated wearing them to school because it wasn’t like anything my friends were wearing, I couldn’t deny just how warm they kept my ears.  I also have memories of being able to pick out my own sweater, which ended up being purple with kangaroos on it, with pockets where the pouches were.  My grandmother was capable of some pretty incredible things, like I remember her making a sweater for my grandfather with a piece of construction equipment on the back (don’t ask me which because I don’t remember) because he used to sell construction equipment.  These were all things with good memories, so I don’t know why I would jump to ugly sweaters with scratchy yarns, but it did.

I have to admit, my first project was made out of a kind of scratchy yarn.  It was a cheap ball that was part of a knitting kit.  The sample scarf they had you knit was horrible, though the hat was kind of wearable.  I pulled the whole thing out and was pretty proud of myself for figuring out how to turn it into a checkerboard pattern with knits and purls instead.  It certainly wasn’t original, but it looked pretty good.

Yet I was able to find some really nice yarns in the craft store, which was my early haunt for knitting supplies.  I found a whole variety of knitters that would wander the yarn aisles with me.  Some were old enough to be my grandmother while others had to be teenagers.  True, some of them were crocheting, which I was never able to master, but there were a good deal of knitters too.  It felt like a comfortable place to shop.

Of course, now I “know better” than to buy craft store yarns (though I do from time to time anyways).  I’m starting to order higher quality yarn, though from what I gather, Knit Picks is lower on the scale of quality yarns.  I’ve gotten some higher end sock yarns too.  Every once in a while I get set loose in a yarn store and find I have a hard time not getting in trouble by wanting to buy out the place.  Okay, maybe I’m not that bad, but there are certainly a lot of things I would love to take home, though I’m good about keeping to my budget.

In the past eleven years since I took it up, I’ve become quite the knitter.  True, it’s come and go in phases, based on what money I had and what access I had to yarn that matched the patterns I wanted to knit.  It wasn’t until probably six months ago that the bug really hit me again and I started to pick up new skills.  Before that I’d made shawls, hats, and fingerless mitts, but now I’m adding sweaters and mittens to the mix.  I’m really starting to grow as a knitter.

I’ve come worlds away from picking up that “learn to knit” kit at the craft store all those years ago, but I’ve really got to thank the knitters that made knitting trendy again.  I think if it weren’t for them I probably wouldn’t have taken off with it like I did.  I would have seen knitting as an outdated hobby with outdated patterns, not suited to the trendy sorts of things I like knitting now.  With the start of Ravelry my eyes were opened to so many new patterns, not just the ones I liked from the books I was able to find at the store.  I was introduced to so much that I wanted to knit.

While I’d like to say I’d eventually have come to knitting on my own, I don’t think I would have had it not been such a trend at the time I picked it up.  I wouldn’t have found the community of knitters and crafters I love so much today.  I would probably spend more of my time watching television unproductively and playing video games.  But instead, thanks to the knitting trend, I’m making beautiful things I can really enjoy wearing!