Sunday, February 05, 2017


Blog posting has been on hiatus while I worked on some super secret projects. One is now out of the bag -- so I can finally write something about it!

My good friend from college, Tom, wanted to have a Viking-themed birthday this weekend. When I first heard about it, I started planning a little something for some of us guests to wear. Viking helmets! There were plenty of free patterns on Ravelry, but I settled on one by Becky Veverka. Inspired by some of the pictures on Ravelry, I followed modified instructions by Ruth (KnitNannyRuth).

I got some Berocco Vintage yarn at the newly moved and re-opened Hill Country Weavers. My original plan was to make three hats with three different-colored detachable braided beards. In the middle of last week, I'd realized I'd been a bit too ambitious and ditched the beard idea. I did make one prototype, but it was too heavy, too hot, used to much yarn and ended up looking like a dead muppet. It was just wrong. So hats only it was.

The hats were pretty easy to knit up. One hank of gray yarn made exactly two hats with just a little left over. Then one each for the gold and ivory on the horns -- I could make a whole herd's-worth more of those. I did one fewer series of 9-row repeats up the front of the hat, so that the decreasing started after two bobbles/rivets instead of after three. I wanted to these to look more helmet-like than hat-like and didn't want them to come down too far down the side of the head. I found the circumference worked well for a big melon like mine. The horns were pretty easy and quite clever, using the natural curl of the stockinette stitch to make the gold rings that attached the horns to the head. Short-row shaping made the horns curve naturally. It's really a pretty simple design with a lot of wow factor. So fun to make!

They were a big hit last night. We met at the Ship & Shield in Houston, played some games, and feasted on all kinds of tasty things like pickled herring, wild boar and, of course, drinkables. Tom had a good time and guests enjoyed passing the hats around for photos. In the above photo, Jeff, Shelly and myself model all three. I hope the staff at the pub wasn't too offended. As many of you may know, there is little evidence that Vikings actually wore horned helmets. But really, when you picture a Viking, what comes to mind?

If you're looking for something fun and easy to knit, I can recommend this highly. Perfect for the young and the young at heart. Happy birthday, Tom!

Sunday, January 08, 2017


I worked hard all day adding the neckband and working a tubular bind-off to finish my Svenson Pullover. From start to finish, this project took exactly a month. Some kind of record for me, but I never would have got it done in such time if I hadn't had a long break between semesters. These frigid past few days have been very motivating, too.

This is a great pattern. Lots of challenges, yet memorizable. I've always wanted a moss stitch sweater. Now I've got that and then some! The way the pieces were designed with purl gutters next to the edge of the sleeves and the moss stitch up against the body pieces made it very easy to figure out how to seam things together. Bonus: with this Arbor yarn, you can actually use it for the seaming, something not advised with Brooklyn Tweed's Loft and Shelter lines. The raglan decreases on the sleeves and body were half-versions of the double 1-over-2 cables done on the body so when they were seamed together they came together like zippers. That was supposed to be the effect, anyway. Not sure I got it exactly right, but for the most part I think the seams are fairly invisible. A lot of clever thought went into this design.

It's styled on the slim side, which I'm not always, so do be aware of that. The sleeves cling a bit, which I'm not used to, but find I don't really mind. I added 1.25 inches to the body length and might have done well to add even another inch. I also added an inch or so to the sleeves, and they're just right. A person commented on Ravelry that all the modeling shots show the sleeves pushed up, so it's hard to get an idea of how long the sleeves actually are on a person. Long ago it was pointed out to me that it's important to note what's not showing in the photographs. Do none of them show the back? Is the model always hunched over in a funny way? I'm not saying that's going on here, but I, too, noted the sleeve position. Since may arms tend toward Charlotte Greenwood proportions, I have a habit of adding a bit of length to sleeves in patterns. That's not always worked in the past, but this time it was a good call.

It was also pointed out that the neck opening seemed a bit wide. Once the sleeves were seamed on, there was indeed a very large head hole at the top. After adding the half-twisted rib neckband, it closed in quite a bit, but I think most people would definitely want to wear a collared shirt under this. I wouldn't call it a boat neck, but it is a bit broad. I suppose that could be mitigated by making the ribbing in the neckband longer, but at some point the proportions might start looking wrong. I don't mind it the way it is at all.

I steam-blocked the pieces as I went along, although I think I might still wet-block this before I wear it. I got the gauge called for and all the pieces fit. I just need a tad more roominess for this to be perfect. I'm thinking it'll be good to get back to campus tomorrow and away from holiday snacking.

Oh, and I should mention -- looking at these pictures, this last one is the most true to the actual color.

So happy to have this done. Here's hoping the cold snap of the last week wasn't our entire winter. I need more chances to wear this before the heat creeps back. And please, everyone --  have a wonderful new year with lots of knitting and coziness!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Auld Lang Twine

It's the last day of the year, and I realize I haven't checked in for a while. I made some progress on a new project that I wanted to share.

This is the back (left) and front (right) of the Svenson Pullover by Jared Flood, appearing in the Winter 2017 collection. I'd wanted to make a cabled pullover for myself. I'd made a few in the past, one for Jeff and a more abstract one for me, but they are way to big for us these days. I'm making the 43 1/4" size using Brooklyn Tweed's Arbor in the color Humpback. It's perhaps the most perfect brownish gray ever.

The stitch definition with this yarn is amazing. So glad I splurged and went with the yarn called for in the pattern. I love the moss stitch panels on the sides, the larger horseshoe cables and the smaller honeycomb cabling in the center. There are little purl stitches at the top of each honeycomb cell that add a cool bit of extra dimensionality. Between these two motifs are mirrored side-by-side 1-over-2 cables that make a pleasant ladder pattern. The sleeves are raglan, and where they are sewn to the body, the seam runs up the middle of a set of these ladders that will basically zip together as the whole things is assembled. The design is quite thoughtful in this way. I've never made a sweater using this construction, and I'm really looking forward to seeing how it all fits together. I started the left sleeve this afternoon.

Over the past few days we've played host to my dear friends Janelle and Sharon and their boys. Sharon and I were good friends from college days and Janelle is the person that got me interested in knitting so many years ago. I can't thank her enough for that.

In addition to being an accomplished knitter, Janelle is also quite the spinner. What she knows about fibers and how they behave. She's the best person to go yarn shopping with. And, she brought me a little something that she spun recently. Can't wait to figure out what to do with it. It's a beautiful 2-play Jacob yarn in a lovely shade of brown. What can I say -- she knows me! And it's been wonderful seeing their boys grow up. Glad that they get to come to Texas every so often.

It was so great having them here. And most of the old college gang was able to get together for a pre-New Year's party as well. Even those who were home ill were able to Facetime in -- ah, technology.

I'm looking forward to the new year and all it may bring. Here's to a fruitful, fun and fiber-filled 2017!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Warm Head, Warm Heart

After getting some big projects finished, I've been able to focus on some smaller, more quickly completed projects lately. Since last posting, I've made two hats. The first, above, is the Fimmel Hat, part of a kit (#2) from Dale Garn North America that was gifted to me. It's 100% alpaca, so it's quite warm, but it has a bit of a mohair-fuzzy halo to it, something you don't usually get when using regular sheep's wool. The stitch definition has a bit of a haze to it as well, although that might have has much to do with the tension issue I had with this as with anything else. There is a matching set of fingerless mitts that compliments that hat and uses many of the same motifs. I have enough yarn to knit them, so I might give them a try. But what is the one size of DPNs I need for this project? US Size 4. And what is the one size I don't have. Jeff doesn't believe me when I tell him this.

While this is a really cool hat, it's not for me. I'm thinking of donating it and the accompanying mitts to my family's summer reunion silent auction.

The second hat was also from some gifted yarn. It's the Mendia Hat by Ambah O'Brien, made with Madelinetosh Tosh Merino DK in the Whiskey Barrel colorway. This yarn makes knitter look so good! It's a fun fast knit, with a lace chevron pattern through the middle -- which I had to do over three times to get right. If you follow the pattern thoughtfully, you get a chevron pattern. If you think, "meh -- I know what I'm doing," you get diamonds. I did this twice.

I worried that my pale, bald head would look weird through the lace holes, but the fabric is pretty thick due to the twisted stitch ribbing, and it doesn't look bad at all. I made the large size in the slouchy version. Not sure if I can carry that off, but I really do like it and it is super warm. I'm wearing it right now in my house, hoping it will bring on the cooler weather.

And now for the warm hearts.

Jeff and I have been out of town for the last several Christmases, so we haven't bothered putting up a tree. Which means this is only the second time I've gotten to use the julekuler ornaments that I made in the summer of 2012.

We usually put up our tree (yes, it's artificial) on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. We had a great time with his family in Fort Worth and Dallas this weekend, but were eager to get home to start getting our house in shape for Christmas. We spent the morning listening to jazzy yuletide tunes, setting up the tree and getting things decorated in general. It was a relaxing end to a fun weekend. As usual, getting ready for Christmas brings back a lot of happy memories, and has it's therapeutic properties, too. I'm really looking forward to all the friends that will be visiting us this year.

And finally, when Jeff's cousin invited us up to Thanksgiving at her house (which was amazing, of course), she sent this photo of her daughter, wrapped up in the Tamarix Quilt (really a blanket) that I knit for her when she was born. I can't believe that she's nearly six years old now. I also can't believe that this is still one of her favorite things -- and that it has held together so well. Apparently, it's a nap-time essential for her. It was so great to see her this weekend playing with her little cousins and seeing how much she's grown up.

I'm really enjoying this holiday season so far, and it's only just getting underway. Here's hoping we all have a wonderful end of the year, full of hope, beauty, and the promise of good things to come.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Happy 10th Blogiversary to Me!

Janelle recently mentioned getting some handy information from the depths of her knitting blog, and it inspired me to look and see how long I'd been doing this. As fate would have it, today is the 10th anniversary of the first post of Knitting Sweaters & Sitting Still!

I've almost abandoned this blog a few times. Blogging isn't really the thing it used to be. There are so many more social media outlets for getting your knitting information out there that I wasn't aware of back in 2006. And there was no Ravelry, so the blog was an important part of the way I tracked my progress as a knitter. But I find I still kind of need it. Writing a bit about the things I'm making is useful. It helps me put my work in context, and think about projects and how they relate to the world around me. Not that my knitting is changing the world, but it has changed me.

So I'll probably keep this going for a while, although it's obvious I've posted less and less over the years. In the last two months of 2006 I wrote more posts than I have in the first 11 months of 2016. But 10 years is a pretty big milestone. To celebrate, here are some of my favorite photos of projects from over the last 10 years.

2006 - Moss Sweater for Jeff

2007 - Double Scoop Sweater for Gracie

2008 - Garter Stitch Throw for Jim & Carolyn

2009 - Perfectly Plain Vest
2010 - Tamarix Quilt for Emory
2011 - Baby Surprise Jacket, also for Emory!
2012 - 55 Christmas Balls
2013 - Grettir Sweater for Michael
2014 - Machrihanish Vest
2015 - Moorish Stripe Socks
2016 - Shady Marmalade Throw

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Guido Pullover

Finally finished the sweater I started for Jeff this summer, and we're both pretty happy about it. In my early knitting days, I made a few sweaters for Jeff. When I proposed making them, he happily said yes, but then rarely wore the resulting garments. He instinctively knew that I'm a process knitter and that the journey is way more important to me than the result. He knew I'd be happy making them. But he just doesn't care to wear wool that much, and our Texas climate doesn't provide that many opportunities to wear it comfortably. So I'd stopped making sweaters for him.

Then, as I started watching the Fruity Knitting podcast, Jeff admired a smart striped pullover that Andrew wears in some of the episodes. When we got to meet Andrea and Andrew this summer, I asked her about it, and she pointed me toward the pattern and yarn. Rowan Purelife Revive is (or was) composed of roughly 1/3 each recycled cotton, silk and viscose(rayon) -- much more wearable for a Texas winter -- or a German spring! Though discontinued, I managed to scrape up enough yarn from various online vendors in the right colors and got a copy of the Rowan magazine (#55) with the pattern.

I went through several mood swings with this pattern and yarn. It has no "give" to it, so it's kind of like knitting with kite string. Knitting for long periods could be a bit rough on the hands. And I mistakenly looked at an errata page and ordered one less ball of the main whitish color than I needed for the 42" size and ended up having to order that extra ball later. Fortunately, the supplier still had the same dye lot. Some parts of this I just flew through -- one of the sleeves was done in just a few days -- while others took ages. One factor for the time it took was this project's non-portability. All those different colors to wrangle and all the careful counting and slipping that had to happen.

Seaming it all up was also difficult for me. The slipped and therefore wrapped stitches on the edge made it difficult to see where to run the yearn for the seams. On the sleeves especially, the edge stitches switched from wrapped slipped edges to stockinette edges and I got confused. I tried doing a backstitch from the wrong side, but I really don't have enough experience with that and wasn't pleased with the results, although I did use it for the shoulders. I managed with mattress stitch seaming on the right side for the rest. The seams are fairly obvious, but I don't think that's a problem with this particular garment. At the point where the collar starts, the instructions say to use the color that's right in the center of the front. But in consultation with Jeff, we agreed that the ribbed collar should match the ribbing on the hips and the cuffs. I think that was a good call.

Jeff likes it and it looks really good on him. And the cotton/silk/rayon blend means it will be wearable for a longer part of the fall and winter. Especially happy that I got this done before the coolest part of the year hits. Notice I didn't say "coldest". Not sure that term applies anymore. Anyway, I like the striping, and that I branched out into colors I wouldn't normally choose. I think it has a bit of an 80's retro vibe to it. It fits me, too. Just sayin'....

On the same day, I funneled my just-completed-a-project adrenaline into some socks I'd had on the needles for OVER A YEAR! I just wanted them done. I'm not usually opposed to fraternal twin socks with this kind of yarn, but this pair, which I dubbed the Domino Socks, just aren't doing it for me. I liked the yarn when I bought it, and loved the shop in Maryland run by two Mennonite sisters where I bought it. I remember casting on for these using my plain go-to sock recipe just to have a portable project for some event, then never really took it out of the house much again after that. But they're done and I won't have to stare at that the WIP label under it in Ravelry any more. I did enjoy the solid black toes and afterthought heels, though.

Maybe I can cast on for some socks that actually interest me soon. I also have an interesting scarf coming up and beautiful yarn for a Fair Isle hat. If you're still here, stay tuned!


Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Orange (and Gray) is the New Blanket

I seamed like a fiend this past weekend and attached an applied I-cord border to tidy things up. The Shady Marmalade blanket is now complete!

To refresh your memories, this blanket is based on Verypink's Log Cabin Scrap Blanket. Her original pattern is more akin to a quilt-style log cabin blanket, in which all but the center square of each patch is made of rectangles. My variation started with two squares, which makes the whole patch a square. All 63 of them. The final blanket ended up being in the neighborhood of 43" x 56", so my squares were close to 6" x 6",

I seamed up the edges to make 9 strips of 7 squares each with short seams, and then used a long scrap of yarn to seam up the strips. Sometimes when doing seams, I go through two stitches per side, but on this one I went through every single one.

I rotated the squares so that the garter ridges in the orange centers of the light squares ran in one direction, and in the opposite direction for the darker squares. I also rotated where the solid side, my term for the edge with thirty stitches all the way across, was positioned. If you follow the squares diagonally in one direction, they are all the same. As you might ask, and indeed guess, I did sew one of my strips on upside down. The checkerboard pattern worked, but the flow of solid sides did not. I didn't realize it until I was ready to sew on the next (and final) strip. I almost let it go, but just couldn't. I un-seamed the whole strip, flipped it, and started over. It would have driven me up the wall. As it is, I found one tiny row on the edge of a square where I did two stitches of stockinette instead of garter like the entire rest of the blanket. I'm willing to let that one go. But I will point it out if you ever see this thing in person. I just can't help it.

I'm really pleased. It looks great on the orange couch and on our gray chair. And, it turns out, even looks quite fetching against red dogs. I asked Jeff to "model" it on the couch, and he had barely draped it across his lap when Kate hopped up to give it a try. Even Pona was a bit curious. It's going to be quite warm, I think, as the days cool down, especially with a dog warming our hips. We tested it out, and it's perfect for sitting side-by-side and staying cozy. And Jeff, not usually one to compliment wool fiber, says that this blanket isn't bothering him at all. So despite calling this the Shady Marmalade blanket, it turns out it's not too itchy-itchy ya ya da da.

So glad to get this project finished. Now I can concentrate on getting Jeff's Guido Sweater completed and get started on some new projects! In the meantime, here are a few more pictures that I couldn't quite squeeze in here.