archives: crafts

when good patterns go wrong

In the fall, I started to crave a cushy, cabled sweater. The kind you pull out on a snowy day to sit on the couch and knit. I scoured Ravelry and ultimately settled on Stonecutter. I wasn’t really clear what the shaping at the ribbing was going to do on me, since it clearly does nothing on the modeled shots (and I knew I did not have her body, but still). I looked at finished pieces, and I wasn’t finding any obvious issues.

But I’ve got issues with it.

Pepperknit | Brooklyn Tweed Stonecutter

The way the “peplum” hits me makes me look impossibly wide, or rounded in ways that my body is not. Now, I’ve gained some weight in the last year, it’s true—ever-slowing metabolism, working from home, all that fun stuff—but this shape is making me look different than I am! Also even though I knit a larger size, my own issues with rowing out (where my purls are ever-so-slightly looser than my knits) meant an overall tightening up from my swatch, so the whole thing got a little narrower, and thus fits more snugly across the bust than I’d hoped it would.

Pepperknit | Brooklyn Tweed Stonecutter

So much else is going for it: the cushiness of Manos, the lovely soft white color (a dye lot issue on the back is something I will just live with and not care; I’m sure when I’m wearing it no one can see where I changed skeins), the warmth! I even enjoyed knitting this quite a bit—even more than a normal knit, because I was knitting it along with my friend Christy Not Hip, and that was fun. I’ve worn it out twice: It looks SO CUTE under a jacket, but if I take that off, I look frumpy.

Pepperknit | Brooklyn Tweed Stonecutter

I finished this on my birthday, nearly a month ago, and I haven’t made a peep about it since because I’ve been debating unseaming the entire thing and adding length to the body. (Which, let me note, I already did: I knit a solid extra inch more than what the pattern calls for.) I really, really don’t want to bother unseaming and reknitting anything on it (I’d have to frog to below the arms). But I also really don’t want to wear the sweater as is very much. I’ll give it a few more weeks to decide, I guess.

Pepperknit | Brooklyn Tweed Stonecutter

My mom says I should just give it to her; she doesn’t mind it exactly the way it is (though it widens her too). We’ll see.

mitten garland

Looking for a cute decoration to make for winter? Thinking about your gift knitting? Might I suggest a perfectly lovely pattern designed by yours truly a few years ago, that I somehow never blogged about?

pepperknit | knit mini mitten garland

Little intarsia argyle mittens, all strung up. Mix and match colors for the hand, the diamond, and the criss-cross, or do it all uniform. They can teach you a bunch of different techniques if you haven’t tried them before, from ribbing, increases/decreases, intarsia, and duplicate stitch! Each one comes together fast, and they are so stinkin’ cute. I think they’d be adorable strung on a mantel, around a door, or if you celebrate with a Christmas tree, strung around that. Because they are actual complete mittens, you could make 24 of them and turn them into an advent calendar by tucking little treats or messages inside to open each day.

The originals were knit with Universal Yarn’s Deluxe Worsted Tweed, which comes in a range of really rich colors. The pattern is in 50 Knits for Year-Round Giving, and there are plenty of other projects in there that you might want to make in the coming months!

wonky star / sparkle punch quilt

pepperknit | wonky sparkle punch

Some quilts hurt more than others to give away. Baby quilts, much as I love them, have no use for me personally so they can be given with no qualms. But full-size quilts could easily be incorporated into my life (in fact, the one for Patrick and Katie was finished long before I gave it to them, and I actually used it on the couch myself for… months (I washed it again before wrapping it!)). And this one, with so many different fabrics that have a tiny back story for me, well, it was hard to give it away to my cousin and new cousin-in-law to celebrate their wedding.

There are fabrics here that I used in Holly’s quilt, ones I bought while on vacation, some that were given to me by thoughtful friends, others that I particularly love for one reason or another . . . In sum: I love it.

pepperknit | wonky sparkle punch

I deliberately used two different khaki shades as the background fabric for the stars, to give it a vintage/scrappy sort of feel. I chose a color palette that was overall coordinated and sort of muted, with all colors represented. At the edges I got a chance to use some fabrics that I only had one square of from a charm pack—I’m particularly pleased with using one black-and-white print in the lower right corner. Something about having injected some actual black into this quilt makes me really satisfied.

The quilting actually goes in both diagonal directions, though now that I see it in pictures I see that one direction is far more dominant! I used different threads and I think one was heavier than the other. One was khaki/off white and the other was blue. Why? Because I had enough of each! I’m happy to report that the quilting went infinitely better than it has for me in recent quilts. I changed as many variables as possible: I spray glue-basted the backing (but for some reason pin-basted the front. don’t ask.). I remembered to put the more table surface thingy on my machine. I was sure to wear my quilting gloves. I used a superior brand of batting. I got no puckers when I went across the first parallel quilting lines—everything just sort of worked right out the gate! I look forward to doing it all again for a future quilt and seeing if I’ve solved my quilting issues.

pepperknit | quilt binding

The binding is pieced with two fabrics: both khaki backgrounds, one with circles and the other with small polka dots. The backing is a completely different neutral (with a very pink undertone—I didn’t think that would work on the front) with my “signature” stripe block.

pepperknit | quilt back

The label, added after I took these pictures, has, I hope, special meaning to the bride, as I was inspired by a photo she posted online months ago. She went to a The xx concert and posted a picture of this quote, which was printed just like this on a pillowcase. I pulled the photo into Photoshop and resized it to what I wanted and traced it onto the fabric. I thought the sentiment was beautifully appropriate for a wedding gift, right? In case you can’t read it, it says “Being as in love with you as I am.” I know nothing about music, though (The xx… who?), so I had to Google this phrase to even know what song it was from. I added the date of their wedding and a little “love, Erin” to complete the label. It was stitched with black perle cotton on a piece of Kona that I, um, not too precisely folded into a “square” before affixing it. I put it in the lower right corner; the picture on the right below might give you a sense for where it is.

pepperknit | embroidered quilt label with a quote

pepperknit | quilt

I wrapped it up in a simple ribbon and brought it with me to the wedding, and I was sorely tempted to tear it open and wrap up in it when the temperature dropped after the sun set! If I’d done so, I may well have just left with it. Instead I’m going to have to plan a quilt like this for myself.

les monts verts!

It was my friend Beth’s birthday, and never did you meet a more loyal Vermonter. She goes home whenever she can, but I figured she could use a little reminder when she’s in New York, too.

state of vermont embroidery

So I embroidered her a little Vermont, with a heart over her hometown. It was a simple little stitching project, but I must say this is the best satin stitch I’ve ever achieved! I carefully outlined the water first, then worked the satin stitch over that boundary. I suppose I’ve seen that that is the “correct” way to do it but I confess I haven’t always. I held the floss double for it but it didn’t need a lot of passes to look really filled in. I freehanded the heart and it came out pretty good, too. The frame is 3×5, and I sized the state’s outline to fit within that dimension.

state of vermont embroidery

knit mama + baby monsters

pepperknit | mama and baby knit monsters

Pardon me while I gush over the cuteness I have brought into the world. Yeah yeah yeah someone had an adorable baby and it’s a miracle, new life, perfect boy—LOOK AT THE CUTENESS HERE. Rebecca Danger‘s adorable pattern for Daphne and Delilah the Momma and Baby Monster is so simple, so mindless, and yet pays off such rewards!

I used Plymouth Yarn’s Baby Alpaca Grande Tweed (full disclosure: I, ahem, took this yarn home with me after we shot it for the Yarn Market News cover with the owls. So yeah, I got it free but it’s not like they expected me to knit with it), which I am currently obsessed with for baby toys. It is SO squishy and soft, and being bulky it knits up fast and makes things satisfyingly large. I used it for the hedgehogs, but have so much remaining that I also used it with this pair. I don’t really know how  big this was supposed to be, but Mama came in at 12 inches tall and her baby is 5.5 inches tall. I embellished the pocket just a touch, with a little free-hand surface crocheted heart out of Mrs. Crosby Carpet Bag yarn. I love its luster and shine.

pepperknit | mama and baby knit monsters

I crocheted the little black eye discs out of Universal Yarns’ crochet thread, and on Mama I added some white to simulate button eyes. I know baby toys shouldn’t have buttons for risk of choking but I’m telling you, a baby who puts this alpaca in his mouth is going to be in for a rude surprise! Best to hug it and squish it and use it as a pillow, I think.

It’s going to be hard to pack these two up in a box and ship them out, but the baby is here early so I need to get on this! Expect to see more monsters from me—I’ve got a copy of The Big Book of Knitted Monsters, and I’m not afraid to use it!