archives: knitting

another crafty retreat

A long weekend away with my knitting besties? Just what the doctor ordered. We made our way to a cabin in West Virginia for three days of 80s movies (on VHS no less), bacon, birthdays, knitting, cross stitch, and nature.

I didn’t knit a single stitch, giving my thumb a nice long rest; instead I cross-stitched and embroidered. At night I slept in the top bunk over Caro and listened to the rain fall on the roof in a darkness that I cannot find here in Brooklyn without an eye mask. Mornings, I made lemon-ricotta pancakes. One day we went blackberry picking, which JulieFrick later made into a cobbler. Pam devoted 11 avocados to her amazing guacamole. Nova finished a shawl, while Specs finished a legwarmer and a cross stitch project (that’s for me!). Heather spoke to us in French and kept us stocked with wine. We celebrated Christy and Julie’s birthdays (and Diana and Ashley’s, in absentia). Caro made us her famous Mephistopheritas (Margaritas with habanero-infused tequila). We went out at midnight in the 50-degree night and craned our necks to watch the Perseid meteor shower. We laughed until it hurt.

All in all, an excellent crafty weekend away.

elephant!

Look what I found hiding in the grass today!


I finished putting her together on Saturday after slowly knitting all the pieces over the course of about a month or so. I’ve had some significant pain in my left thumb since I knit the Bulky Topper and the two berets over two weeks in February, so I’ve been laying off knitting for the past two months. I even bought a thumb brace and have been knitting no more than half an hour at a time; most days I don’t knit at all in an attempt to get my thumb healed. A visit to the doctor this past week indicates it might “just” be tendinitis, but that’s better than the scary arthritis Dr. Google told me it was. I need to make an appointment with a hand specialist for a week from now. Anyway, all this to say that this elephant took a while to make.

But it still took me far less time to knit than the pattern would have had me: The pattern inexplicably has you knit every piece flat. Every. Piece. The body alone is made up of 3 pieces. The ears? Two pieces each. Lazy pattern development, if you ask me—so I knit all the pieces in the round. I even picked up stitches and knit the base of the body directly to the torso. The ears? Knit in the round and finished off with a three-needle bindoff. I had some trouble with the head because I never checked all the abbreviations before diving in: In the head you work a kfb when it says “inc” (as opposed to the M1 you use in all the other pieces), but I didn’t realize that at first. That was a case of user error, but I’m sure others have been thrown off by it. I did a short little (not pictured) crochet chain for the tail instead of the called-for braid. All this to say, if you are looking to knit out of Knitted Wild Animals, I recommend rewriting the pattern entirely to save yourself loads of seaming.

Still, all in all, it’s a cute one! See all the details on Ravelry.

a birthday beret!

This is my friend Carol. If you’ve been to a Vogue Knitting LIVE, and been in the Marketplace, you might have seen her dash past you as she worked the event. And I mean dash—this girl does not move slowly. She’s tireless at everything she does, from running marathons to drinking coffee to just plain talking. And she just raced to age 30.

Leading up to her birthday she was downright shameless. “Erin! I’m turning 30! Knit me something!” and “I love alll knitted things! You could knit me anything!” and even “Don’t you want to knit me something for my thirtieth?” I am certainly not immune to that kind of enthusiasm—I’m not made of stone, people. (Can we talk for a moment about her new dog, Ritz, and how adorable he is? Never did you see a more chill, laid-back dog with a more hyperactive owner. He comes to the office from time to time, and of course celebrated her birthday with her. His sweater, by the way, was store-bought.)

So after I finished the Bulky Topper, I knit her this hat, from Vogue Knitting’s Fall 2009 issue. (It’s actually the cover hat, modeled by a former America’s Next Top Model contestant!) The yarn is the remaining Sanguine Gryphon Skinny Bugga that I used in my Buckwheat, and though I think I had a different gauge than the pattern, it fits just right. It was a speedy knit and easy to memorize. In fact, it was my plane knitting because I had all my WIP patterns only on my phone, digital, so I knit this at takeoff and landing. I blocked it over a plate on the radiator and it softened so nicely to a great drape.

Let me tell you, when I gave it to her? She literally jumped up and down and shrieked with joy, put it on, told everyone how awesome she looks in a hat (before she’d seen herself in it), and ran around the office to show it off. The next day she planned her outfit specifically to coordinate with it and wore it for the entire day, too. Honestly, guys, never was a handknit item more well received. I better start planning for her 31st!

bulky topper!

Nothing beats a knit that comes together fast, wears super easily, and uses up a good deal of yarn from your stash! The Bulky Topper by Mari Lynn Patrick was one of my favorites from the Fall 2011 issue of Vogue Knitting, and Lauren suggested in January that we do a little mini knit-along together. Circumstances conspired to give me long stretches of knitting time in February, so I finished up my new most favorite knit in one quick week!

When I visited Lauren in Chicago for a weekend, she excitedly pulled out her yarn to show me, and I’ll admit, I was downright jealous. Hers is the most lovely of grays, a color that I’ve been obsessed with lately. But I wanted to use something from my stash, and I have no gray in a sweater quantity. I had this dark brown I bought at Rhinebeck years ago, when I was in a long-lived brown phase. I harumphed but plunged ahead on a gauge swatch, not even sure if the yarn would work. But as I worked it, the brown started to get into my brain: I love brown! Why had I forsaken it for gray! But damn, did I need a pair of brown boots to wear with this sweater.

Before I’d even finished a single piece (it’s knit flat and seamed—and that’s important to the design, actually), I was out shopping for boots. I found the pair in the photos, and I’m in love! They’re the perfect color, comfortable right out of the store, and exactly what I wanted. They’re from some Italian brand I’d never heard of (I bought them at Century 21). We ran around on the beach and they held up just fine; I splashed around puddles in them recently and nothing calamitous happened. But wait, this is a post about knitting a sweater, not about a pair of boots? Okay then.

So yeah, my knitting of this sweater is actually fraught with some drama. It has been years—literally YEARS—since I knit something flat. It’s also been I-don’t-know-how-long since I knit something that was in reverse stockinette. And you know what? I row out. If you’re not familiar with the term, rowing out is used to describe an effect that comes about if your purls and knits aren’t quite the same height. I must be a touch looser when I purl, so I get slight troughs that are visible on the reverse stockinette side (they’re not visible on the stockinette side for me). I fretted and faffed and ultimately started working my knits on 10.5s and my purls on 10s and it evened out significantly. I even tried different hand positions (going back to knitting English; purling combo) and nothing else helped. In the end, I only worked this two-needle trick for the front and the sleeves; the back was done all on size 10s. Honestly, there’s still evidence of the rowing out even having used that trick. Apparently I need some remedial knitting lessons!

The other reason I raced to get this knit in a week was that I was on a weekend away with my best knitting peeps, and one of them is photographer Caro Sheridan, who I knew could get some awesome photos of me in the sweater. Of course, I finished the damn thing on a beautiful sunny Saturday with blue skies (the same day that I took that picture of Pam in her dragon mitts). But I conveniently finished it that NIGHT. And the next day? A Nor’easter came charging through. It was cold and wet and felt a bit like a hurricane at times. So we hunkered down in the house and there was no photo shoot. The next day, when it was windy as all heck, sand was stinging its way down the shore, and the sea was more churn than water, we dashed down to the water’s edge and had us a photo shoot. Her hands were red and our faces were freezing within moments, but I gotta tell ya: My torso? Not cold at all. Bulky Topper FTW!

Here’s video evidence of the windiness! I say “It’s really windy out here!” And then I ask her if she can even hear me, suspecting that you can’t hear anything over the wind hitting the microphone. And I was right!

rustling leaves beret

I’m late to the beret game. It was never “my” style of hat, and though I admired people’s work from afar, it just wasn’t my thing. But then I decided to request one when Nova was knitting for me, to get me to step outside my comfort zone a touch. I loved it, so then I started knitting them myself. I had no idea how fun and fast they are!

This pattern first caught my eye when I saw Sara’s finished example. I saw amoebas in the pattern more than leaves, and I loved their elongated shape! We have that book at the office, so I snagged a skein of Alisha Goes Around from my stash in a particularly fantastic shade of green and cast on while watching Annie with friends. (I recommend this if you grew up with Annie, because singing along is loads of fun.)

I finished it off less than a week later, and I wasn’t even knitting it that much. Just a few minutes at lunch, a few while watching TV. I did make one error, in that I did not do the brim in a smaller size needle, so it just sort of . . . hangs on my head. However, it is perfectly stable (the yarn has some nice weight) and is so easy for me to wear!

Photos are © Caro Sheridan, again! I love how frequently I see her lately, because the timing has been perfect for getting her to take my FO shots! This time we were in Cambridge having lunch with friends; I’m in town for a business conference. I know I’m capable of taking my own pictures, but why bother when I can enlist a professional? This was spur-of-the-moment, I was rather unkempt, but she made me look amazing. (She was also with me for the Annie singalong, so it’s only fitting!)