Keeping Track

The fun part of creating your own designed item is that you get to do what you want. But there is also the other part of such efforts – like keeping track and adjusting as you go. For me, this ends up being a messy process of numbers/erasures/writeovers and just plain ol chicken scratches. Here are the working sheets for example:










Part of the challenge of this pattern is incorporating a couple of kinds of stitch patterns along with stockinette, and having one of the stitch patterns be the ‘side seam’ along the cardigan. As you can see on the second diagram I literally put the stitch counts in for each part to make sure that my counts were correct. Plenty of correction along the way!

Then when I got to the sleeves I debated how to knit them – flat with seams, or in the round? Because I wanted the same treatment I used on the side seams to be at the inside of the sleeve, I’ve opted to knit them bottom up and in the round, and had to do the same kind of calculation incorporating that as well as the cable along the front of the sleeve. In trying to figure out many to cast-on, and how to do it in pattern as I did for the body, this time I literally charted out the row, which got more complicated because I wanted the sleeve and button band edges to be done with a tubular cast-on which wears better. (I didn’t do this on the body because it adds some bulk with this thick yarn.) Seriously, there are days when I wonder…

Now that all the hard math is hopefully done, except for the front edges, I decided to copy over the work more neatly on a new sheet of paper so that I might be able to read this in the future and know what I did.

Note: The project template page is from an older but quite good book on designing and knitting your own sweaters called Sweater 101, but many other design books also have them. This one has three different templates, depending on whether you are doing a drop-shoulder, raglan, or set-in sleeve style. There are also sizing options so you don’t have to start in the dark if you don’t have every detailed measurement!

As far as the said sweater goes, the body is done and blocked:

and now I am onto knitting the sleeves in the round – I’ll do two-at-a-time on a couple of circulars I think. Thankfully this is bulky yarn so it should not take forever!

Izzie says, can I help?


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Too Hot to Knit?

Tomorrow at Casa del Revknits it is going to be close to 100 degrees. Yikes! That is hot for this time of year.

My progress on my own design that I’m calling the Simple Cable Cardigan is going well – I’m almost finished with the lower body and about to split into the fronts and backs:

The yarn is Ecological Wool, which is a woolly bulky yarn that is light, which will make the sweater cozy and fun. But having a lapful yarn on one’s lap in this heat is not fun. But I had just finished my last charity hat with about 2 yards of yarn leftover:

So I looked in one of my bags and realized that I had put aside a couple of fingering weight yarns to play with. One is yet more handspun awaiting some purpose – a lovely merino-silk blend from Ellen’s Half Pint farms,

and a new-to-me indy dyer called The Dye Project. It’s a Corriedale/Nylon blend in a color that glows!

I think the cardigan is going to have to wait for cooler weather!

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Hats and Pompons


I’ve been going through my stash to knit some charity stuff – our local hospital has a great need for all kinds of items. With the leftovers from the Op Art Baby Blanket, I’ve been knitting a few bright hats! With the exception of the red and black hat (Pattern: Bumble by Tincan Knits) these hats are me winging it with color, using some size information from Knitting Rules by Stephanie Pearl McPhee.

At first, I wasn’t going to put pompons on all of them, but I really can’t resist. With the Clover Pompon maker, it’s easy and they look great – the secret is to fill them up all the way, and to tie the knot tightly.

Plain ones are obvious, but I like to play a little more. If you wind together 2 or more colors together – you get an easy multicolored one:

If you switch out colors while keeping one dominant one, the effect is a subtle striping, which works especially well with a striped hat:

The most distinct is to switch single colors in and out:

This hat will go to the baby that got the blanket – because it’s so much fun! It’s like a party on the top of the head!

What are your favorite ways to use pompons?


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Adapting for Another Size

A number of years ago I made a series of sweaters for Afghans for Afghans as a way to work through grief. One of them was my own design, with a fairly simple cable on the front of the cardigan. Behold the simple cable cardigan!

Afghans for afghans sweaters

I’ve wanted to make it for me for years, I had even bought yarn (Eco-Wool) to make it, and as I was wondering making a cool weather sweater for me for fall, I realized that I had everything I needed, including one side of the chart of the front cable:

The best part – I could swatch immediately and make sure that my gauge matches the first sweater (it does).

Now onto the math to plan my cardigan! I think Brandy is going to help!

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Test Dye

I finally took the plunge and did some test dyeing on Saturday with natural dyes.  For this experiment I decided to do both bits of fiber (wool and alpaca) and different protein yarns. The fiber was put into a mesh laundry bag:

And I added ties to the small mini skeins I was dyeing ( note that the blue note has a different order of skeins than in the photo):

My dyeing station was out on my deck to reduce exposure to the chemicals. I mordanted the fiber and yarn overnight in a pot, then set up the dye station – a small side table topped by a Cusimax cast-iron electric hot plate topped by a large pot I got at Salvation Army. Other materials used included the mordant,  Botanical Colors liquid dyes,  a wooden spoon and measuring spoons:

I decided to try for an Aqua color which uses both the Saxon Blue dye and the Myroloban extract. It wasn’t clear what percentages of each I should use, so I did equal amounts.

The pot started looking like this:

and ended by looking like this:

There was still a fair amount of dye leftover – and I think it was mostly the Myroloban, so I’ll have to take a look to see if the proportion should be changed in the future.

After rinsing, I dried the yarn and fiber on the balcony:










The results – definitely variation among the fibers dyed:

and the yarns as well:

This is some nitpicks Wool of the Andes – and it turned out with a blended look:

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Squirrel! (When Crafters Get Distracted)

In the movie Up, there’s a lovely sequence about a dog that constantly get distracting whenever he sees a squirrel:

True story: members of one of my congregations knew the actual dog this was based on.

Last week, I had great intention of beginning to spin the lovely hand-dyed merino, and I even did a couple of samples and swatches:

both have a lovely hand. I like how the heavier three-ply feels more, but the weight of the lighter one is more practical. I was ready I thought, to begin, but then I rummaged through my hand-spun shelf, and discovered a lovely hand-painted BFL that had already been spun into 3 singles, only awaiting plying and finishing. Squirrel!

It really only took about 1.5 hours on the spindle to do this, and now I have this lovely yarn. It needed a good thwacking after soaking to get the kinks out.

which will help me complete a cowl/mittens/hat set – the color way is close enough to coordinate well:

In the meantime, I saw someone had linked to a Jillian Moreno post on spinning on <>, and I realized that no way do I have enough of the green merino top for a sweater – I probably have about 1/2 to 3/4 of what I need. So I will be looking to find some more merino top in probably a neutral color way to pair with this for my sweater adventures. I’m hoping to go to Lambtown this year so that will be on my shopping list!

Finally I’m finishing up reading Craeft by Alexander Langlands. It’s so interesting to read someone who has thought a lot about the meaning of crafts. Check it out!

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FO: My Linen Tank Top

Over the weekend, and just as our heatwave finished up, I completed the linen top I’ve been working on.

This is a top I’ve made a couple of other times. The most successful was done in the old version of the Shibui linen, so I bought some of their new version (Reed) in the Graphite color way.

I loosened the gauge a bit because of the darker color, and it worked out fine. Project details here.

Like the original, I wanted to do the single line of beads along the neck edge, so I rummaged through my bead stash, and decided going with a complementary color would give the whole thing a bit of a pop.

And really happy with how it came out!


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Options for Spinning

To Knit What I’ve Spun

As mentioned here, the Fiber Optics gradient is completely done – spun and finished and everything.

I’ve been pondering what to knit out of it, and found some shawl options – but stay tuned for the problem at the end.

This one is nice, but just ok. Espiral was knit in the same color way by DaisyPhd:

This one is better, and has the benefit of being adjustable in size. Siren Song Again, I lucked out that Elaughn on Ravelry had knit in a similar Fiber Optics color way, although it says she used 2 skeins at 228 grams, so I don’t think I have enough to get the effect I’d like.

This pattern by Romi is my favorite. FuchsiaNouveau-petite (photo by Merrick79)

I think I have just enough yardage to finish, and since it is my precious handspun, I think I need to go for it! Luckily, Romi had a 20 percent off sale on the pattern.

Update: I hadn’t checked gauge and it turns out that the yarn is really a sport-is weight, so I’d be pretty sure to run out of yarn.  Rechecking my options!

To Spin

Then I’m also looking at the options for what to spin next. Here are the three contenders:

Two Rainbow Rolls of Noro wool pencil roving in VERY BRIGHT colors. 100 g each

I have to think what I would spin with it – I’m thinking thick and funky at the moment, like this single from nevermore on Ravelry:

I have these two 2 oz skeins of A Verb for Keeping Warm’s hand-dyed BFL – a good project for a cowl or socks:

and then I bought these 4 oz hand-dyed skeins of merino top at a steal at the Big Sky Fiber Festival years ago – and the colors are calling to me.

I’ve wanted to give myself a bigger project, like a sweater or top, and I have enough of this to do it. I know, it’s merino, but I love the colors and I wanna:

I’m thinking of shooting for a light fingering sweater 2-ply, since I have 12 oz and will need to make enough yarn!


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Summer Trip

About a week ago I got the chance to go down to Southern California to see friends and family. It was lovely to have the time to spend with people I love!

One of the serendipitous reasons to go down was to help a family friend, Bonny, through a small procedure on her back. Except when you are 90, no procedure is really minor. Anyway, although Bonny felt really guilty to have me there with her,  I was glad to do so.

The fact that I was able to be there was a great bit of timing – Bonny had thought of asking me, and right after I sent her an email telling her when I’d like to come. We were so happy that this worked out, and I was grateful to be of use.

I think I’ve figured out that my job between jobs is to see how I can serve the world right now. I’m not sure completely how this will pan out, but it is a positive frame and it makes me look for things around me. Just yesterday, a clerk in the pet store was looking a bit down, and we got into conversation and talked about the beautiful weather, and by the time he put my massive bags of litter in my car, he had a smile on his face. My mom used to do this, and in my childishness I rolled my eyes and got embarrassed, but now I am wiser. It is worth helping each other even in the smallest ways.

Anyway, I got to visit one of the places my family used to go all the time – the Los Angeles Country Arboretum. The land used to be owned by the Lucky Baldwin family, who were train barons, and I was a bit worried when I visited that I would be disappointed. Instead, I realized that it was bigger and better than in my childhood.

Among my favorite memories were the Queen Anne Cottage. I used to imagine the people who lived there – but in fact, no one lived there, it was built for parties!

The Arboretum is known for its peacocks, and I was really lucky to see a lot of them.

And as children, we used to run through the palm trees and what we thought of as “the jungle’ – I thought it might seem smaller, but it actually it seems like everything is way bigger (It’s only been 40 years or so!).

There are also plenty of new things, small gardens and corners that are delightful, and small touches even in the sidewalk.

The trip also included plenty of meals with friends, and even going to a friend’s gig at a restaurant. It was really great to connect again.

My friend Nhien and I always try for time for knitting together – and this time I got to see her finished Find Your Fade cardigan in some amazing colors – she was able select disparate colors and totally make them work. Nhien’s work is in textile design, so it’s not a surprise that she was able to do this well. Next time I want to do this kind of project, I think I’ll ask for her help!

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