Archive for the 'knitting' Category


What a hoot!

I’ve been wanting to knit myself an Owls sweater ever since I first saw it, and over the past few months I’ve done it! My friend Gina was also keen to knit one of these, so we decided to do our own little knitalong. She finished hers in about a week, but mine took a bit longer.

I actually knit this sweater twice. (Fortunately, bulky-weight yarn knits up fast! First, I knit both arms using the size 10.5 needles the pattern specified. When they were done, I decided I didn’t like how snug they were and reknit them on 11 needles.

Then I knit the body, moving the shaping from the back to the sides. (This was Gina’s great idea. We agreed that the shaping lines in the middle of the back just looked weird.) I was about five rows away from binding off when I ran out of yarn. ARGH! This turned out to be a good thing, though, because it gave me an opportunity to reknit the body. It turned out that I wasn’t such a fan of the shaping. A yarn this substantial works best (for me, at least) in a looser garment.

Taking another cue from Gina, who had found the as-called-for-in-the-pattern neckline too wide, I added a few rows of stockinette (with decreases) between the owls and the ribbing. The result is wide enough not to feel constricting but not so wide that it’s calling off my shoulders.

The knitting on this sweater was complete about two weeks before the “official” finish date. I bound off the last stitches the day before cool autumn weather arrived and just had to start wearing the sweater immediately. I thought about omitting the button eyes entirely, but after two weeks of living with sightless owls I decided to go ahead and add the buttons. I did one set of eyes in tawny yellow (to make it stand out from the crowd) and the rest in an amber color. The contrast isn’t huge, but it’s enough–and well worth the couple of hours it took me to sew on thirty-six buttons.

This was a fun knit, and I’d make it again. Maybe next time I’ll turn it into a cardigan!

(Additional project details are available here.)


Life Update

Wishing: For a sundial like this one to put in my yard.

Laughing: About this video on YouTube, which features one joke from every MST3K episode. My recent discovery of this is well-timed: just a few weeks ago I met Joel at an MST3K event and got to shake his hand.


Reflecting: On the hidden costs of chocolate.

Being delighted: By the fact that not only was my daughter thrilled with the new socks I just finished knitting for her, but she was so pleased that she wore them right away. Even though it was 95 degrees outside. Now that’s gratifying!

Watching: Or trying to watch, at least, My Dinner with Andre. It’s famous and there are a gazillion cultural references to it, so I figured I ought to (finally!) watch the thing. I got about forty-five minutes into it and had to turn it off. I recognize that it was innovative for its time, and the premise could still make for a good movie today. But the conversation itself was so mind-numbingly dull that I just couldn’t bear it.

Reading: Nation, by Terry Pratchett. It took me a little while to get into this book–most likely because my subconscious kept expecting Discworld fare–but once that happened I was hooked. The premise is somewhat grim, and the overall tone is decidedly lacking in the humor of his other works. But his usual themes are present: questions about religion and rationality, criticisms of social class, clever wordsmithery.

I hate the ending, though. Long before it arrived its inevitability was apparent, and I found myself reading the last chapters while hoping Pratchett would enable the protagonists find a way to escape the destinies that seem to be laid out before them. No such luck, I’m afraid. The ending is bittersweet and leaves me feeling punched in the gut…but honestly, I can’t imagine how else the book could have ended without ruining it. So for all that I do hate the ending, at the same time I think it’s appropriate.


Look what I just did

When I first saw the Cable Luxe Tunic pattern a few years ago, I knew right away that I wanted to make one. But I had plenty of other projects on my plate, and it was only a few months ago that I found myself ready to make it. Fortunately, by then the pattern was free (hooray!). Armed with 40%-off coupons, I went to my local Joann and bought some Wool-Ease yarn. Usually I shun acrylics, but this yarn actually isn’t bad. It’s also the one called for in the pattern, and after looking at the Ravelry pages of completed projects, one that lots of people had used with great success.

I cast on some time in November and finished a couple of days ago. (Details are on Ravelry here.) There were a few mistakes (of the gnash-my-teeth-while-ripping-out-because-DAMN-IT-this-thing-is-going-to-be-PERFECT), but this pattern wasn’t very difficult-—especially after I’d written a row-by-row list of which cables crossed when (and how). (Keeping track of two different cable patterns—one over 8 rows and one over 12—in my head was beyond me!) Once I got into the groove of it, it even became “mindless knitting” of the sort I could easily do while watching a DVD or hanging out with friends.

I followed the pattern exactly as written with one exception: I added about 3″ to the length of the body, so it would not ride up above my waist in the back as I moved around. Right now, it hits at mid-hip, which is just right for tunic-not-dress length. The sweater flares out a bit at the base, which makes it not clingy at all.

I actually wouldn’t mind knitting this again some time. If I did, I’d make a few more changes:

  • I’d plot out how to knit the whole thing in the round. As it is now, it was done in one piece, but I did have to sew up the sleeve seams and the side seams. If I could avoid that seaming altogether, I’d be very happy indeed.
  • Another possibility: converting this into a cardigan. That would mean eliminating the awesome center cable in the front (though I’d still have one in the back), though, and I’m not sure I want to do that.
  • I’d add a tiny bit more space in the armpits. Right now, they are pretty snug up against me. They’re fine when I’m wearing a close-fitting t-shirt underneath, but anything more voluminous would be uncomfortably tight.

I have awesome friends

Last spring, a huge tornado hit Joplin, Missouri, and took out a good chunk of the town. Among those directly affected were the parents and brother of my roommate from college (and still good friend), Beth. They lost pretty much everything: home, cars, belongings. The destruction was so bad that not only was their house razed afterward, but the foundation—which was too damaged to support another structure safely—was removed as well, and everything was filled in . All that remains is a flat empty lot with a driveway apron (the small ramp-like part leading from the curb to the main driveway) going nowhere.

Fortunately, none of Beth’s was injured. And the things they lost were, after all, just things—most of which could be replaced. But among the irreplaceables were items that Beth and her brother had made as children. When I asked Beth, “What can I do for your family?” she replied that some handmade Christmas decor would be much appreciated.

So I sent a note to my local knitting group, and right away several people volunteered to make something. One friend, Ann, is in the middle of downsizing/reorganizing and sent four boxes of Christmas stuff to Beth’s parents. (I checked with Beth about this before giving Ann the go-ahead to ship so much. Beth says there are holiday drives in progress in Joplin right now, so whatever her family can’t use or share with friends will surely find good homes with other people affected by the tornado.)

Other friends created items especially for Beth’s family. From the top : various ornaments from Katie, knitted owl and ball ornaments from Gina, a set of knitted accessory ornaments from Ruth, and a knitted stocking ornament from Beth (not the Joplin one).

All of this stuff (along with something I made) went out to Joplin early last week. Just in time for the holidays!


Free lunch: Christmas knitting

It’s a stocking. With a dinosaur playing a guitar. Seriously, this is so incredibly cool that I’m amazed I’m not knitting it right now instead of writing this post.

Here’s a ball-shaped ornament that doesn’t actually involve knitting but does use yarn and would likely be appreciated by a knitter.

And here’s a ball-shaped ornament that does involve knitting. It’s from Handknit Holidays, one of my favorite knitting books. (I haven’t actually knit anything from this book yet. But I love nearly all the projects in it, so I like to imagine that one day I will.)

It’s a little snowperson wearing a scarf! And a little elf wearing a scarf!

If you’re a fan of reindeer, you’ll appreciate this ornament and this hat.

If stars are more your style, try hanging these little stars or this knit-and-felted star garland in your home.

What? You prefer mini stockings? Look for further! Here’s a mini stocking for you . . . and an even mini-er mini stocking!

And while we’re on a “mini” theme, don’t miss this mini Santa hat ornament.

I love these little pine tree-shaped sachets, too, and think it would be great fun to fill them with all sorts of nice-smelling stuff. The folks at the Purl Bee do come up with some nifty patterns. I just wish they didn’t usually use the most expensive yarn on the planet for them.

For years I’ve saved wine corks, thinking I’d do something crafty with them. These little korknisser are one option. I made one of these a couple of years ago with Lamb’s Pride bulky. It looked great, but it wasn’t easy to knit these tiny things with such thick yarn. The one I made sits out on an end table during the holidays, though Sylvia often co-opts it for her toy bin.


Does anyone else think this is dumb?



Hedgehog mittens

This is a long-overdue public thank-you to my friend Beth. Last January, someone posted to our local knitting group e-mail list a link to Morehouse Farms hedgehog mittens kit. I replied that I loved them but wasn’t planning to spend money on yarn anytime soon. Beth knows that my family loves hedgehogs—especially Sylvia, who has been hedgehog-crazy since she discovered Mrs. Tiggy-winkle when she was two. So Beth did something very sneaky: she bought a kit for me and had it sent to my house.

I cast on right away and got to the thumb gusset of the first mitten before I got distracted by other projects. This pattern is fun to knit—albeit a bit slow going (knitting bobbles for the quills takes time!)—and I’m hoping to get a set of these done for myself by next fall . . . and maybe a pair for Sylvia, too!


Use jersey-knit fabric (old t-shirts, anyone?) to finger-knit a bracelet.

If you live in a place that gets cold from time to time, have a touch-screen device, and don’t want to remove your gloves or mittens to use it, try knitting conducive thread into some gloves.

Make your own knitting (or crochet) journal! This site has free PDF downloads of pages you can print out. Yeah, I know you can keep track of this sort of thing on Ravelry. But some people (*raises hand*) prefer the immediacy and flip-through-ability of a paper-and-swatch-filled binder for this sort of thing.

Need to destash some wool quickly? Make some felted wool balls. I think these would be awesome for fluffing clothes in the dryer.

You know you’ve always wanted to create your own intarsia patterns. This site makes it easy! Just draw your chart, save it, and print it!


Awesome . . . or terrifying?

You be the judge.



Socks with the opening text of Beowulf? I may just have to knit these one day.

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