#76 Advent Calendar

This week’s “project” wasn’t on my plan but I’m excited to share what I’ve been up to. I’ve mentioned how lucky I feel to have my local group of knitting friends. We met taking sock and sweater classes at our LYS 3 years ago. This evolved into meeting at the LYS at it’s bi-weekly knitting session. Then we added meeting on “off” weeks at a local coffee shop. Now we have even taken some “girls” weekends to visit yarn shops, wool shows, or VogueLive classes.

With Covid, we have moved to weekly Zoom sessions. So I wanted to do something special since 2020 has been such a isolateing and frustrating year. Back in August I started planning how to make an advent calendar for my knitting friends. I didn’t like how most calendars I found online are yarn only or stitch marker only or teas only. I found an inexpensive hinged wooden box that I stained and 2″ gold and silver cube boxes to use to hold each day’s surprise. I was able to include support for another friend who has moved from teaching at the LYS to making and selling her own yarns by buying 12 minis for each calendar. The other 12 boxes are filled with inexpensive charms that make cute stitch markers, tea bags, or chocolate pareils. I spent half of what purchasing a yarn or stitch marker calendar would cost online displayed in a MUCH nicer wooden box than the paper bags most online calendars use.

Advent Calendars
Mini skeins

There is no pattern included in my calendar as all 12 of the mini skeins don’t necessarily go together in my opinion. But I hope that opening the little surprises give my friends something to look forward to and some joy in this very stressed time. The holidays are going to be very different and probably a little sad this year.

YEAR OF PROJECTS UPDATE

2020 Project List
Mitts/Hats: 1 Planned and about to cast-on
Socks: 4 Planned with 6 Done and another already cast-on
Sweaters/Tops: 4 Planned with 3 Done
Shawl/Cowl/Shrug: 2 Planned with 2 Done
2019 WIPs: 2 carried over with 1 sweater completed and the argyle sock put in hibernation

I’m fairly satisfied with my knitting accomplishments this year. Basically replaced a sweater with 3 pairs of socks. I am almost done with my daughter’s Christmas socks. I will have to mail them to her as she is not able to visit us in person for Thanksgiving. As soon as I get them finished I will start on the fingerless mitts.

#75 – Planning is Half the Fun

Well, I’m certainly not the first to say it, but it’s definitely true for me. I think it’s what makes buying yarn that goes into the stash so much fun. It’s the imagining of the project that is exciting.

So guess who has already drawn up her 2021 knitting plan. Yep, just couldn’t resist. Even with 2 months to go in 2020 I couldn’t resist starting to layout my plan for next year. It gives me peace (a sense of control) to know what is coming next. So as I was reaching the end of this year’s plan I needed the “control” of being able to imagine the knitting I have planned post Christmas. Plus I’m going to need to pack my Dec thru April knitting for our wintering in Florida.

I appreciate the Year of Projects Ravelry group uses a July to June calendar but fortunately also welcomes other “calendars”. A July to June timetable revives unhappy memories of my working career which operated on that fiscal year. Thus calendar year is better for me. 2021 is definitely even more a year of sweaters/tops with only a few pair of socks thrown in. But since I just bought more cute sock yarn I may be trading out a sweater for some socks.

I finally finished my Amrum sweater!! I’m really happy with my modifications. Instead of stopping the pattern at the “side seams” (it’s knit in the round), I carried the pattern onto the back. Then I also knitted one repeat of the pattern at the end of the sleeves. Finally I used an I-cord bindoff instead of the typical K1P1 hem called for. For more photos check out my Ravelry project page (https://www.ravelry.com/projects/MaureenHD/amrum).

Project Update

Love it but can’t wait to cast on my next sweater project. But first I want to finish my Christmas knitting. I’m making good progress on my Christmas socks having finished the heels and now I’m moving up the legs. I do want to knit a quick pair of fingerless mitts for my son’s girlfriend who works as a cashier at a large retail store. I know those poor cashiers get cold with the constant opening and closing of doors so I’m hoping they keep her a little more comfortable.

New Yarns

Arg!! The LYS was having a yarn sale so I stopped in. Of course I had to pick up more sock yarn. I do love Fixation yarn for making summery footies. And it was half off for goodness sake. Then I realized that I wear a lot of black leggings with black/grey sweaters so I couldn’t pass up the Berroco Sox yarn in black and greys. Finally Lollipop yarns posted her restocked yarns so I just had to buy one of her cute self stripping sock yarns. Ordering online does give a double thrill – when you order and when it arrives!!

#74 Grrrr – SSK

Thank goodness my Amrum sweater is for me!! I beginning to think it’s cursed. Had to rip out 7 rows (at 270 stitches per row) because I dropped a stitch last weekend. Then as I was knitting this week for the first time ever I somehow hooked a needle through a stitch from the front body of the sweater (risk of circular knitting). Thus caused a huge “pull” on the front of the sweater. I got most of the yarn back in place but had to do some hand sewing with a ply of the yarn to patch the hole the “pull” made.

Finally I noticed that my SSK side of the pattern does not have nice neat lines. I know I’m bad at remembering when to use SSK vs K2T. I have cute stitch markers to help me remember when I’m working the sleeve sections of a sweater. But the pattern of the Amrum requires many more SSKs and K2Ts than I have stitch markers. And before you ask, yes I highlighted my chart to remind me to do SSKs. Sadly I can see that I didn’t always remember. Thus the K2T side of the pattern has very nice straight lines running from the center of the sweater toward the hip. Sadly the SSK side lines wobble as I’ve obviously forgot sometimes and knitted K2Ts. I now have big red SSK written all over my chart on the SSK side. And I’ve put red stitch markers at every SSK. We will see if that helps for the remaining ~30 rows I have left. I do like this pattern and may knit it again so hopefully I can prove to myself that I can knit it correctly. My local knitting friends have also informed me that SSK does not lay as well as K2T but there is an excellent video by Patty Lyons on how to make a better SSK. I’ll be looking that up. 🙂

Also trying to chalk up as a learning experience as I realize that instead of my armholes being just right after trying it on repeatedly that the weight of the sweater body completely changes how big the armholes will be on the finished garment. Thankfully I like loosy goosy sweaters but I had planned for the sleeves to be more fitted on this sweater. NOT. No wonder I needed a lot less rows on my sleeve than I originally calculated. A Zoom I joined this week with Marie Greene reiterated this point as she said you have to take your measurements and trust your gauge.

Good news for me is that I need to focus more on making sweaters/tops for me so that I learn more about managing fit before making any more tops for my daughter. She can be the recipient of my sock knitting for a while. 🙂

#73 Project Update

This has been a pretty simple week. I continue to work on my Christmas socks and my Amrum sweater body. I have only made myself 2 sweaters and both are tunic style as I like to wear them with leggings. I was kinda thinking about making this one the more traditional hip length but it’s clear that all my worrying about not having enough yarn was misplaced. I will easily have well over a cone of yarn left. Thus I think I will go ahead and make it the tunic length since I have so much yarn. I’m going to have to do some research on the bind-off. I do not want to do a ribbed bindoff as I don’t want it to curl. I need a straight hanging edging. So I’m thinking I-cord or maybe just a simple garter edging. ARGGGG – I dropped a stitch last night and can’t fix it!!! Ripping out about 8 rows. 😦

The Christmas socks are coming along nicely. They are my “brain dead” knitting for social knitting or watching football and futball.

My lavendar yarn arrived this week for my A Trip to the Pacific sweater I want to make. I hate buying unseen yarn online but I took a chance since the cost was so low. And it’s perfect!! Exactly that “dark” lavendar I wanted with just a hint of “tweediness”. So many sweaters to knit!!!

LESSON LEARNED

Wow and well, guess I’m glad for the yarn maker. One self stripping yarn maker I like sells out her sock yarn almost as fast as she posts it. So I emailed her to compliment her on her success as well as ask when the next time yarn would be posted so I could put it on my calendar. She responded quickly and even gave me a tip on how to get “early” access. I am glad she is doing well as the local young lady that makes vibrant self striping socks apparently isn’t making yarn any more. No idea if this is temporary or permanent. I’m looking forward to getting some “brain dead” self striping sock projects in my stash.

#72 In Person Knitting!!

Well my knitting group finally bit the bullet and met in person after not seeing each other physically for the past 6 months! A LYS offered reserving their very large table area that normally seats 16+ knitters to be reserved for no more than 6 people. So the 5 of us were able to reserve it for our group. While we didn’t hug or even squish each others projects, it was nice to be able to see how beautiful everyone’s project is. The colors and details just don’t come through accurately on the computer.

We showed our appreciation by buying yarn and I bought the Cocoknits Sweater Workshop book and worksheets. I’m a visual learner so creating stitch charts is best for me. The LYS offered 20% off on books so is it my fault I couldn’t resist?? I’m looking forward to reading about the method and then applying it to the various sweater projects in my queue. Of course this week I’ve added 2 more sweaters to my queue for 2021. One will use yarn from my stash but after not finding summer weight yarn I wanted at the LYS, I ordered closeout yarn from WEBS when I came home. I mean really, no one is expected to resist a sweater quantity of yarn for $60 right!?

We capped off the afternoon with a two block walk down the town’s main street to visit a coffee shop for a latte treat. While not sunny, it was warm enough to sit outside so we could maintain safe socializing. Here in Cincinnati it is just about peak autumn leaves color. So a beautiful day both visually and emotionally.

PROJECT UPDATE

Finally!!! I finished the third pair of socks and mailed them off to Boston Friday. I included a note encouraging the recipients to let me know how then fit if they hope to receive a second pair. 🙂

I got a little knitting done on my daughter’s Christmas socks and I finished the sleeves on my Amrum sleeves. I even modified the sleeve a little by adding some of the front pattern to the end of the sleeve. I’m much happier with the sleeves since I tried it on repeatedly to confirm the fit. The sleeves on my sweater I made last winter are WAY too baggy as well as too long. I really should rip them out and reknit them. Being SHORT, I need to accept that patterns are going to have sleeves that are too long and I must plan on fewer rows and quicker decreases than the pattern calls for. I’m confident I can get both the Christmas socks and the sweater done by Thanksgiving. I only need a few more inches on the body of the sweater!! I’m already looking forward to casting on the next sweater!

#71 Numbered Stitch Markers

As I’ve said in the past, I’m a stitch marker queen. I frequently use more than one stitch marker (like hanging a red pin on my “pretty” stitch marker) to try to make me “wake up” and notice what that I’m supposed to do something!! I also like to use stitch markers to count my stitches. I need to constantly reassure myself that yes, I have the right number of stitches for this row in my pattern. Or yes, I still have the right number of stitches on the heel side of my sock.

So in addition to using green stitch markers for the right sleeve, white stitch markers for the back, etc. I was seeking some numbered stitch markers so I could more quickly count that yes, I have 88 stitches on the front. Since I mainly knit even sweaters with fingering weight yarn, I have a pretty high stitch count for fronts and backs. I looked on etsy but most numbered stitch markers that I could find were pretty big gaps (25, 50, 75) and were expensive in my opinion. I really like to have mine every 10 stitches so it’s easy to find a dropped or added stitch.

I tried making my own by using jewelry wire to attach numbered beads to my o-ring stitch markers. Unfortunately the wire ends never stay tight and instead catch on the yarn. So I finally admitted defeat and bought numbered stitch markers from Twice Sheared Sheep. This is the same young lady that makes my absolutely favorite knitting tool, her row counter. https://twiceshearedsheep.com/product-category/row-counter/ They arrived this week and I can’t wait to change out my handmade ones on my Amrum sweater with these. (I have NO association with Twice Sheared Sheep. I just like sharing knitting tools I’ve found.)

PROJECT UPDATE

Not too surprising, I didn’t get much knitting done on my long weekend away last week. I ended up being the driver for all but 2 hours of the 14 hours of driving and we indeed talked with our hosts for most of the 2 1/2 day visit catching up on the past year. But I’ve turned the heel and am heading up the leg of the Fixation socks I want done ASAP. The Christmas socks for my daughter at least have a few stripes on them making it a fun and festive knit. No progress on my Amrum sweater these past 2 weeks but I am motivated to get those sleeves finished so I can stop juggling the cones of yarn as I knit them 2 at a time.

This is a Year of Projects post. Officially the Group is in its 10th year, but this is my 1st year participating. If you would like to find more about the Year of Projects Group on Ravelry.

#70 Two at a Time Sleeves

I knit my socks two at a time on magic loop needles because I want to make sure the left sock and the right sock match. If I make a mistake, too many rows in the cable, I want to be sure to make the matching mistake on the other sock. Trying to record any deviation and then repeating on the second sock is too stressful. But I’ve never done two at a time with sweater sleeves even though I find trying to match my decreases similarly stressful.

My knitting friends recently suggested I consider doing my sleeves two at a time. I’d never considered this since all my sweaters are raglan. I know you could do two at a time when knitting a sweater in pieces that need to be seamed. But knitting sleeves two at a time with the yoke/body hanging between the sleeves??? I was particularly motivated with the sweater I’m working on, Amrum, because I plan to put a little of the pattern at the bottom of the sleeve just prior to the cuff. Thus it would be especially helpful to knit both sleeves at the same time to make sure I start on the same row.

It’s hard enough juggling two balls of yarn when knitting two at a time but the yarn I’m using for my sweater is on cones. No big deal but I use a yarn butler to make it easier to pull the yarn off the cone as I knit. It’s taking a while but I’m starting to get the hang of moving the cones back and forth from left to right as I change sleeves and putting the active yarn cone on the yarn butler so that it unwinds easily. Typically when I make a raglan sweater, I finish the body before starting the sleeves. With doing two at a time sleeves, I did about half the body before starting the sleeves. In the future I’d probably do even less of the body, maybe 2″, so that I don’t have so much weight in the center. Arguably, instead of putting the sleeves on waste yarn and knitting the body, it makes sense to put the body stitches on waste yarn and knit the sleeves. Things to try in the future. I’ll let you know in a future blog what works best.

TRAVEL KNITTING

I’ll be heading to the Smoky Mountains for a long weekend this week so I have to plan my knitting. We are meeting friends at their cabin. There is no TV and not a lot to do so I’m hoping to have lots of knitting time. I do recall last year we managed to talk a lot just catching up with each other. It’s also a 6+ hr drive so I’m hoping to get in at least a few hours of knitting on the drive. My husband’s health frequently makes me the driver so I may not get much car knitting done. The pair of Fixation socks that I started last week will be my car knitting. The yarn is large making it easier on the eyes and less likely to fall off the needle while in a moving car, especially since I’m using square Addi rocket needles.

Then I’ve just cast-on a pair of Christmas socks for my daughter with Lollipop self striping yarn. I’m using the “brain dead” pattern of alternating rows of K1P1, K3P3. Thus I should be able to knit while enjoying a cup of coffee around the firepit each morning. I would have loved to cast-on some fall colors sock yarn I have from Redbird Yarn studio, a local dyer, but I know me and how long it takes me to get even socks knitted up. If I want these Christmas socks done by Thanksgiving, they need to get started now. With 3 WIPs, I still need to focus just to get my Fixation socks done by the end of October, Christmas socks by the end of November, and hopefully my sweater done in there as well.

We will be a little early in the season but I’m hoping for a bit of fall color in the mountains. I do have to laugh at myself in that my knitting projects are always the first thing that I think about when planning a trip. Well….. I have downloaded some audio books to listen to so maybe knitting isn’t the only thing on my travel mind.

#69 Grafting

Well, I had to learn about grafting. I was so excited Thursday evening when I finished a pair of socks I’m planning as a gift. It wasn’t until I put them on blockers and went to take a photo that I noticed one sock had a stripe around the ankle. Seems about a 30″ (3/4 m) section didn’t get dyed so it was simply the yarn’s base color. Thus I had 4 rows of bland yarn instead of the speckles of all the other yarn. Grrrr. I have made many pairs of socks with Cascade Fixation yarn and this was a first. I’ve certainly been disappointed with Cascade Fixation for having knots in the ball, which these did as well, but never an undyed patch.

Finally I realized that I could cut the yarn and rip out the 4 rows. Fortunately I had 1.4 gr of yarn left which was just barely enough to replace the 4 rows. Cutting yarn within a project was also a first for me. After replacing the rows, I had to figure out how to get the leg reattached to the sock!! Searching on YouTube, I found a video for a modified Kitchner. I definitely should have followed the advice of making a swatch of large size yarn (worsted) to practice the grafting but of course I didn’t. I only had to restart twice. Turns out I did need to put lifelines in the stitches just so I could better find the stitches as I was weaving them back together. It’s not perfect but it is good enough, especially for a sock.

So now it’s knit the third and final pair of socks for this family. I am so ready to be done with these especially since my Amrum sweater keeps calling me. More on that next week.

#68 Charms for Stitch Markers

I love stitch markers!! I have written several blogs about various stitch markers I have found that are helpful to my knitting. But recently on a trip to Hobby Lobby to get machine oil for my sewing machine, I happened to think that charms would make beautiful and fun stitch markers. I might have been motivated by my current project where I’m using lots of stitch markers to track where I’m at in the ever growing lace pattern. I have various purple markers on the ssk side of the pattern and various green and white markers on the k2tog side. So I have a purple sheep marker on one side of the pattern and a green sheep marker on the other side. Same for yarn ball markers, flower markers, etc. I’m running out of pairs of markers as the pattern keeps expanding as I knit down the body.

So I checked out the jewelry section at Hobby Lobby. They really do have quite the collection of charms to my surprise. Plus as typical of Hobby Lobby, they were all 50% off. I finally could not resist a set of markers that were a colorful stack of books. Indeed I am happily using them on my sweater.

Last year my knitting friends did a small gift exchange at Christmas. Creating a set of markers from charms that fit their different personal interests would be so fun. Unfortunately it is likely that Covid-19 will continue to keep us from meeting in person this Christmas. We will have to do Christmas in July!! I’m also hoping my children might see my Instagram post of the book stack charms so that they get an idea of an inexpensive gift to give me for Christmas. Is that a passive-aggressive thing to do??

Ravelry Disappointment

I really enjoy using Ravelry. I even sent emails praising the site when there was a bunch of backlash against the new website remodel. I am one that tends to keep notes as I’m knitting my projects. I’m learning to do a better job of reporting my gauge so that in the future I know what needle and yarn creates what gauge. I don’t tend to update stash very much as I try to have projects already identified for yarn when I purchase it. Thus I don’t need to “stash dive” when I find a pattern I want to knit.

I also check out “hot right now” patterns on almost a daily basis. I look for free patterns to add to my library as well as purchasing several that I’ve got in my queue. Image my surprise and disgust when on Friday I saw a “hot right now” pattern that used a disgusting curse word to describe police officers in the pattern title. The pattern description goes on to denigrate police officers. I knew the staff was quite liberal since one of the original operators is transgender going from Casey when the site started to now Cassidy. The site has labeled all conservative stance as “hate speech”. But apparently it’s acceptable to denegrate police officers.

This is so contrary to what I thought Ravelry is supposed to be, accepting of everyone, not making generalizations, etc. Yet when I posted a question about why Ravelry was allowing this pattern, my post got taken down by the administrators. The pattern on the other hand is still in the “hot right now” list. So for me this means I will no longer purchase patterns through Ravelry. Thankfully Ravelry does allow me to block designers so I no longer have to see this disgusting pattern when I visit the site.