I finished! I finished! And I can still type, grasp the pole in the subway, hold a book—and look good while I do it.
When last I wrote my hands ached and hurt so badly I didn’t even know what to do. I iced both wrists on and off for the rest of the evening and took as much Aleve as was possibly recommended. That night I slept with my only brace on, prioritizing my left hand, which is generally worse than my right. When I woke up in the morning it was better. Friends came over for brunch so I was cooking and using my hands differently. When we all sat down in the living room after we ate, I picked up the knitting and discovered that knitting wasn’t torture any longer!
I took it very slowly, and it was done later that afternoon. I could not believe it. It went into a tub of water and the new Soak scent, yuzu (so bright and springy!), and the sweater was blocking that night. A three-needle bind-off two days later, and I was ready for the Bridesmaids’ Luncheon the day before my cousin’s wedding! (Because I was doing a reading at the wedding, I was considered part of the bridal party.) Paired with a khaki skirt, pearls, and a sock bun, and I was feeling very appropriate for the event. The sweater was actually comfortably warm on what turned out to be a chilly, dreary day by the beach, and so soft. So soft!
Setting aside the pain, I really enjoyed knitting this. My only modification was to do another whole round of the increase chart to add both length and width. Thanks for cheering me on while I worked my way through the pattern! As a reminder/for posterity: Pattern is the Lace Batwing Top from Vogue Knitting Spring/Summer 2012, designed by Brooke Nico. I knit it in Artyarns’ Ensemble Light, the called-for yarn in the color it calls for, even!
I somehow ended up with a copy of this book, 5500 Quilt Block Motifs, and every now and then before bed I browse it. The blocks in the book are all individually inspiring to me—as potential quilts. I have a long list of blocks from this book that I think would make great full quilts if blown up. I find it both inspiring and soothing to think about quilts before bed—in fact, if I’m having trouble falling asleep because of work stresses or something spinning around in my head, I shift gears and mentally plan quilts. Getting caught up in both color planning and actual math (calculating sizes based on internal blocks) is better than counting sheep for me—I zone out and drift off to sleep in no time. But I wake up with ideas solidified in my head, so it’s a win-win. My recent mini quilts are a perfect example of that. But this traditional square caught my eye; it seemed perfect for a Big Birthday present for my dear friend, Holly.
It came together over a few weeks last fall, using fabrics in a variety of colors that coordinated, many from my stash. Rather than make HSTs by stacking two squares and cutting on the diagonal, I cut each triangle individually, decided on my preferred placement, and sewed them together. I wanted all the pairings to be unique, rather than structured in pairs. It was also not that useful to work it as HSTs because there are a lot of triangles that don’t have an opposite one. The backing, which is hard to see in the photos she took, is just a zig zag using up extra triangles I’d cut, and the binding is the Kona Berry that I used as the background for Rosie’s Spoked. The quilting is just double lines along all the angles.
Holly took these pictures for me on her birthday weekend trip to Mexico. She took the quilt with her on her trip. Sniff. It’s just the best to make something for someone you love, and then find out that they love it exactly as much as you’d want them to, you know?
I made a Honey Cowl too! After several people suggested it to me when I asked for pattern ideas for worsted-weight yarn, I jumped on the bandwagon.
The yarn is Cascade 220 Superwash, and I actually took advantage of that by hand washing it and then throwing it in the dryer (because wet-blocking makes it grow to at least double the size!). I checked on it every five minutes for the first fifteen but then grew tired of sitting in my apartment building’s basement, so I went upstairs for the last 30 minutes and left it to its own devices; when it came out it had juuust started to slightly felt to itself, but it was easily pulled apart. Phew! I’m ridiculous, aren’t I? I started out so cautious but then got lazy—I’m super lucky it worked out in the end. Putting it in the dryer got it back down to the original size and firmed it up a lot, which is what I wanted. I love the color; the slight heathering gives it a lot of depth.
It was knit for my friend Allison, who works in our industry but doesn’t knit (yet) and didn’t have any handknit items! The honey cowl was an easy, mindless knit, great for knitting on the subway—it would be ideal for group knitting, too, because you’d be unlikely to mess it up. But it didn’t capture me the way it has for so many people (I won’t make the pattern again, that is). I also couldn’t bear to go the full 11 inches in height; I quit at about 9. She likes it just fine, though!
When I bound off my Color Affection the other day, I did it with loathing. I had been working on this pattern since March of last year. Every row was a small torture—the final length is something like 7 feet long!! Now that it’s done, though, I must objectively admire its beauty. The colors are just what I wanted.
But I’m ambivalent. It’s a million miles long, so it can be wrapped around and around, which I like to do with scarves, but it’s unwieldy. I don’t understand how to wrap it successfully like a shawl. What have I done??
I kind of can’t believe I knit something so enormous; it’s no surprise it took so long. I know I went too far with the first color and decided not to rip, so I actually made it longer than the pattern expects. Despite my lack of affection for it, I’ll tell you that I saw so many Color Affections in the aisles of the Vogue Knitting LIVE Marketplace this past weekend, and every time I did I thought to myself “I made that too!” It made me feel as if we were all in some club, like those who’ve climbed Mt. Everest or survived a harrowing experience together. We’re the war-worn, the triumphant, the ones who made it to the end. And for that, I do feel pride and kinship. (Don’t even tell me how much you adored knitting it and disagree with it being a torture, ok? Let me pretend we all feel the same way.)
Details: Light gray is Hazel Knits Artisan Sock yarn, which I bought at Twisted in Portland. Dark gray is Periwinkle Sheep sock from Rhinebeck, always my first stop at New York Sheep & Wool. Green is Sweet Georgia Tough Love Sock that Felicia kindly gave to me when I told her my whole whiny story about choosing a third color (my first color, a mustard yellow, turned bumblebee with the grays and I hated the look, so I frogged). I used a size 6 needle (though I wish I’d used 5s). This was technically cast on in June; the one I started in March did not use any of the recommended methods you’ll find on Rav to make the edges looser (ultimately I wrapped the first stitch twice, which made a huge positive difference), and I was unhappy with the color. So it took about six months in all, with a ton of breaks.
Photos taken by the fantastic Kriegs, on a walk we took down to the Verrazano Bridge to see—or, rather, not see—it in the fog.
I almost didn’t do a wrap-up this year, but I just realized that I have done one every year for many many years now and why should I suddenly stop? First up, my knitting accomplishments for the year:
Who knew I was able to complete so much while at the same time whining about not being “able to knit” because of my thumb pain? There really isn’t such a dearth of knitting, is there? There are two missing projects: one is a design I did for a book that’s not coming out for a while yet so I probably shouldn’t show it to you anyway. I also knit a hat for a work giveaway that I didn’t document at all. Those coffee cup cozies were a little thing I did for Knit Simple magazine. They assigned me cozies, and I couldn’t decide which pattern to submit, so I showed Editor in Chief Carla Scott all of them, and she said “yes! we’ll do all three!” Ha.
I like that you can see how I used the same yarn for my Buckwheat as the hat for Carol; I should start making hats out of all my leftover yarn! Thanks again are due to Caro Sheridan for the photo shoots we were able to do this year, for Buckwheat, the Bulky Topper, and the green hat!
I’d declared 2012 “the year of the quilt” and I wasn’t wrong. It was definitely a year of sewing. With my injured thumb, it was far less painful to sew, so our entire dining room area was pretty much unusable as a place of eating. (“Be careful! Don’t spill on that!” gets old fast.) Here are all my quilty endeavors (plus an embroidery project that I never blogged):
That lion embroidery? I made that for my dear friend’s baby; because mom and I met while taking yoga together 6 days a week for a few years, I added “simhasana” to the embroidery (the Sanskrit for lion pose) and stitched the little lion’s tongue sticking out (like you do in the pose). Just a little touch of something personal, and a really cute result. The one in the lower right has yet to be shot in daylight, but that will come soon, and the one in the middle on the bottom actually is basically finished and has been in use but has never been photographed! I need to get on that. The quilting that I did this year was mostly on my tiny machine, but I did do a mix of machine and hand quilting on the star quilt that hasn’t been blogged. I feel really confident in my skills as a quilter now, too, so I’m really happy with what I did this year.
Earlier in the year the last of my bees finished up, so I have some bee blocks in my catalog of finished stuff:
I wasn’t good at documenting these, actually. And in fact, I may have never fully finished the Dresden plate in the bottom middle, but I don’t remember where I put the blocks-in-progress! (This is what happens when I actually clean the apartment.) I’m so glad that I participated in a total of 3 bees. You really gain so much skill and knowledge so quickly. I know that bees are tricky—I mean, you’re trusting other people to have the same standards and skills as you—but I also enjoyed being exposed to so many different kinds of blocks and ways of approaching a quilt. Actually, in my finished quilt mosaic are two of the bee quilts that I had made: the picnic blanket came from my Twitter Bee, and the stars (the unfinished one in the mosaic) was from KBeeC, a bee among my KBC friends. The third bee, the Solid 6, comprises most of my finished bee blocks in the mosaic above… But I picked a block for everyone to make that it turns out I really don’t like very much. I’m torn as to what to do with the blocks that were made for me, so I’m sitting on them until the right idea comes along.
What’s up for this year? Well, the month of January is going to be basically a rest from quilting. I’ve got two business trips, we have houseguests, and I’m just, I must confess, tired. I like having a clear dining room table! I’m enjoying just sitting on the couch watching TV when I get home—plus lately I’m so busy I get home late from work. But I’m sure when I’m back from TNNA things will come back—I intend this to be the year of sewn clothing! (Something that, despite having taken classes on the subject more than once, I am still quite intimidated by.) But I still have a bunch of quilt ideas swirling around in my brain that I can’t wait to make real. There will always be knitting, too, of course, don’t worry. Just this morning I bound off on a long-suffering project—stay tuned!