Swatching and Finishing – Part 3

Part 3 – in which I apply well-known methods to a new project

Given the history of letting things go to chance as evidenced by Parts 1 and 2, I decided for my current project to plan things out better. My idea was to make another top like this one, which is a summertime staple.It’s sleeveless with shirttail hems, a simple reverse stockinette ribbing, and a bit of beading on the neckline. It’s my own design:

I’m using a similar linen yarn to the original – Reed by Shibui. It’s a chainette of finer linen, and it’s one of the easiest to knit linens that I’ve tried.

I knit a gauge swatch, and even washed it!

It’s a slightly looser gauge, but it looks good and feels nice and drapes.

So, far, so good – I’ve begun the front, and hopefully my attention to swatching and washing the swatch will pay off!

Lesson: try the full swatching method, and see how it goes!


Tour de Fleece – Day 2

Just a quick update – the spinning is going well. I love this fiber, and with just a bit of opening up the fiber, it spins like a dream. One spindle full of fiber in 2 days, about 22 grams:

I love the sheen of the silk in this fiber!



Tour de Fleece

It’s been a while since I spun, so this year I decided to join Tour de Fleece to get my spinning mojo back.

Midweek I took a spin with spin with some undyed fiber (alpaca, and it was a little hilarious as my hands tried to remember how to draft the fiber, and then get the proper spin. There was a fair amount of park and draft while things got fixed. The result was (remarkably) ok:

Then I had to figure out what out of my stash to spin. I had been holding onto a lovely Fiber Options Yarn gradient in the Smoke on the Water color way in a delicious 80/20 merino/silk blend. Brandy seems to have approved!

Last night I did the swatching and oh my, this is going to be fun! I’m shooting for a 2-ply laceweight/light fingering weight yarn, the sample is a little thicker than I’m planning on.

With my coffee in my Jennie the Potter sheep mug, I’m all set!


Swatching and Finishing – Part 2

Knitting without Swatching: A Somewhat Sorry Tale

In this example I show what can go wrong with knitting a sweater without a gauge swatch. I had a bunch of free-to-me Tahki Cotton Classic that had been marinating in the stash for at least a decade, so I decided I wanted to knit a cardigan.

I knit a CeCe sweater by Bonne Marie Burns a number of years ago and it’s an easy loose-fitting sweater with a V-neck and a simple lace pattern.

So I started – and as advertised, I skipped the gauge swatch. Even though the yarn recommended and the yarn I used are completely different.

It’s a bottom-up sweater knit in pieces until the yoke. I knit the body – and had to re-knit a few rows because I wasn’t paying attention. I knit the short sleeves and that went well. Then came the time to put the sleeves and the body together.

This next error had nothing to do with gauge and everything to do with not ready the pattern. The body required a lace pattern for the 1st front, stockinette at the side seam, more lace pattern for the back, stockinette at the other side, and then lace for the second front. Unfortunately, I had knit the sweater in a solid lace pattern, which with the size I was knitting coincidentally worked with the stitch count I had.

I ripped back the body to the ribbing and re-knit according to the directions – with a 15″ inch body length. The joining of the sweater working pretty well, and although it was a bit long  before I finished the ribbing at the back.

Then I soaked the sweater in “wool wash” and blocked it without stretching out. When I put it on after drying, the sweater sagged to a long length – and I realized that not swatching had bitten me badly. When on, the body grew to about 18 inches. Yikes~

I ended up cutting off about 4 inches – and then wrangling the live stitches back onto the needle, and re-knit the ribbing from the top/down.

In the end, the sweater is “ok.” It’s a loose-fitting sweater good as a layer piece, but the armholes are pretty big, but I don’t have the heart to re-knit that half of the sweater!

Lesson: It’s always a good idea to swatch (and block the swatch) for a garment!


Swatching and Finishing – Part 1

I’m doing a very short blog series on how swatching and finishing affect the accessories and clothing that I knit.  It come out of my experience recently in getting stalled on completing a couple of projects, and how I am now working through a new one.

Part 1: The Mystery Knit-along

Long-time readers may know that I have been challenged in doing mystery knit-alongs where I am satisfied with the end result.  In part, it’s because I really am largely a product knitter – knitting for an outcome, and since I don’t know what I am knitting, often I am not all that happy with what is made – which is nothing to do with the designer’s capability, just my personal taste.

Shortly after the race issues got raised in the knitting world, I realized that I had been living in a lily-white bubble as to who I was following on Instagram and my blog-reader, so I upped my game and found some great new-to-me voices, such as @lolabeanyarnco and @untangling.knots, and I’ve really enjoyed @drunkknitter, both her posts and her YouTube channel.

I decided to join Saffiyah’s (aka Drunkknitter) mystery knit-along which was designed in the throes of the final episodes of Game of Thrones, which I haven’t watched since season 1. The plus was that I could knit from stash, so this was all about supporting a designer.  I did knit a swatch (lost to history but didn’t wash and block it,) and then knit-along:

There were some pattern reading adventures along the way (a couple of errata, but mostly me not paying attention), and it looked like this as I got almost to the end:

The thing was, it seemed really small – and I’m not a large person. I finished the knitting, but was feeling discouraged by other knitting too (see the upcoming Part 2), so I just stuffed it away, somehow hoping all would be get fixed by ignoring it.

Finally, I realized how many kinds of stupid that was, so I put it in a bowl with wool wash, blocked it pretty aggressively, and voila!


All the worries about size are gone. And it looks enough for me to wear or give as a gift!

Lesson: sometimes it all does come out in the blocking!



Yesterday I went to the local yarn store, because I’m heading onto some vacation and in need of knitting. There in the store was Alison of SpinDyeKnit – and we hadn’t seen each other live in years and we almost couldn’t even say anything at first, and then, of course, there was catching up to do. She has a daughter living in Alaska and was knitting a lovely cable throw that will be warm for her daughter and the baby that is coming.

There’s a lovely group of knitters that she gathers with each Friday, and I got to hang with them while my yarn was being wound by the store – they were lovely and did all the skeins even though the policy of the store is to do one, because no one else was waiting.

I’ve missed hanging with knitters and so this is a lovely discovery for at least a couple of Fridays in July!




Saturday was my birthday – not a big “milestone” birthday (that was last year). I went up to my cousin’s on Friday midday to beat (mostly) the weekend traffic thought the Bay Area, and we hung out a bit before heading out to a cute movie called The Biggest Little Farm. It’s an independent movie with that will help you feel good about the world and has beautiful photography as well:

The plan was to have pedicures with Marie and her daughters the next morning, but one of them got sick and needed to stay home to rest. So it was three of us getting pedicures, and we each chose a fun color!

Then Marie and I went to the grocery store and we got a few more things – it was a small casual lunch that we had, given schedules and sickness. Marie had left up the decorations from Lu’s birthday party a few weeks ago, so I too had a pirate-themed birthday!

The decorations worked with a little editing:

If I have a Power Rangers party when I turn 70, you’ll know why!

As the afternoon wore on, I realized that there is a special perfection to a quiet celebration. We explored the back yarn with Lu

and we blew out the candles on the chocolate cupcakes:

One could say that nothing happened, but that would be wrong. We spent unrushed time with each other and enjoyed a beautiful day.

It was the perfection of letting things unfold and not forcing a particular kind of celebration.

And while all of that was happening – my Facebook friends sent a lot of greetings too – from growing up days, college, Washington D.C. seminary, online friends, clergy and knitting friends. I am not thrilled about Facebook for a whole bunch of reasons, but this is one of the good things it provides!



Third Time’s the Charm

No matter how long I knit, I make the most basic fundamental mistakes. The major difference from when I was a beginner is that I know when things are off, and either figure it out myself, or ask for help.

This past week was a reminder that the best thing about knitting is that you can rip it out and start over.

Project: Drunk Knitter’s MKAL

This is a shawl project of a certain unknown shape that is from something that someone in Game of Thrones might wear. Since I don’t watch the show, it’ doesn’t matter to me. The project is knit in brioche stitches, and uses the terminology from Knitting Fresh Brioche by Nancy Marchand and since I’ve knit this scarf from the book,


I figured it wouldn’t be too bad.

The first two clues went well. Here’s what the first clue looked like:


I knit the third one and my first problem was that I ended up with 43 stitches instead of 45 at the end, which meant I had started with 43 stitches. I mean, really, I didn’t even pick up the right number of stitches. Okay. Rip it out.

I knit the indicated section the second time, and have 45 stitches at this point:


Which means starting the fourth clue should have been quite easy. As I started to knit it, though, I realized that nobody else’s projects had this quirky cross in it:


I read the fourth clue’s directions, and I was following them to perfection, so I posted on the thread on Ravelry and asked for help. Within the hour, another knitter responded by telling me that I had knit the third clue incorrectly  – I had used the wrong stitch. And she was totally right! Which meant I had to rip things out again for the third clue and start over.

Today things are looking good, I’ve reknit the third clue


and my foray into the fourth clue looks correct and I’ve ploughing through clue 5:


I hope I can finish this with the rest of the MKAL knitters. But who knows what other error I may introduce into this project? Stay tuned.


FO: Peanut

One of the joys in our extended family is that we have a new baby in our clan, little baby Lu. He’s simply adorable and funny and sunny and it makes your heart glad when he gives you a dazzling grin.

We celebrated his birthday on Saturday, and there were lovely decorations, and happy family members, and we had cake and he loved it.

There were also some presents – mostly things he needs like shirts and shorts, but also his aunt and uncle went all out and got him a dinosaur car and he’s already smitten.

As the designated knitter, I decided to do a small thing, since summer is coming and he won’t really need much knitwear. I knit him a vest, and put cats on it.

The pattern is called Peanut and it’s from a small booklet by Tin Can Knits called Max and Bodhi’s Wardrobe, with some fun small boy patterns. Peanut has a snowflake on the front and the back, so I substituted the “cat” pattern from the Alterknit Stitch Dictionary which is quite fun. My project notes on Ravelry here.


This is a pre-blocked photo, and somehow I don’t seem to have post-washing photos – it looks a lot better than this!



Spring is coming – tomorrow we’ll be getting a day in 80’s which will be fun, even though we expect it to only last a day.

Which leads me to think about knitting in warmer weather – out go the heavy sweaters and the like. In come small projects and lighter yarns.

My selection of bed socks has been declining as some socks need to go out of rotation, so I used the impressionist yarn I bought in San Francisco for a simple pair of bed socks – just a 2×2 rib because the yarn is so pretty!


And my pastoral colleague Gerardo has had issues of getting wet while delivering food in our open pantry, so I made him a simple hat out of super wash merino yarn. I really like how it came out – it’s the Citrus Hat with a bunch of modifications in stitch count, length, etc. 


But wait, I’m not done. I’m currently working on a mystery KAL with Safiyyah aka Drunk Knitter. I started following her after a lot of the discussion on racism in knitting, and she’s lovely – she can handle talking about this stuff and then also is a fun knitter too. Her MKAL is related to Game of Thrones, and I was going to pass on it, and then Jasmin from the Knitmoregirls posted about supported these new voices, and I realized that I could do the project with stash yarn, so let’s go for it, even though I do not watch this show (weak on violence, sorry gang).

If you want to check out the MKAL go here: hashtag #dkmkal on Instagram.

This is my yarn wound, it’s a brioche project, and she’s done the homework to explain the concepts, has videos, etc, and is following the threads on Ravelry closely. I appreciate her attention to things!

So I’ll be good on accessories, well, actually I’m looking at knitting myself a hat in the Snapdragon pattern by Ysolda. In my defense, I lost my blue hat on my last trip!

But I also have a bunch of yarn that was intended for a Romi sweater until I came to my senses and realized I didn’t want the end result. Now I just want to knit a striped cardigan, so I’m looking for a pattern to adapt.