posts tagged: knitting

a non-rhinebeck sweater!

I didn’t make the journey up to New York Sheep & Wool this year, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t knit something just in the nick of time! About three weeks ago, when the temperature finally started to change, my need for a new sweater overcame me. I started researching colorwork pullovers (inspired in large part by Julia’s newly released Hiro) but somehow ended up looking at solid patterns and stumbled on Madigan, a Melissa LaBarre pattern for Quince & Co. I knew I had the perfect yarn in my stash, so off I went to wind and swatch.

Fittingly, I bought this yarn (Stonehedge Fiber Mill‘s Shepherd’s Wool) at Rhinebeck two years ago, when I was eager to amass more sweater quantities of yarn. I was looking for a nice, wearable gray. I found, however, this bright blue. I think, in the madness that is shopping at Rhinebeck, I neglected to think this through, so I bought it even though I couldn’t exactly picture it in a sweater. “Sweater quantity? Sold!” This electric blue haunted me from its place on a shelf in my craft corner. Nothing ever seemed quite right. Then I found Madigan. It couldn’t be more perfect.

The sweater is a cinch to knit, but that doesn’t mean I actually managed to follow the directions. You know how you read over a pattern, start knitting, and feel confident you know what it told you? Yeah, that led to varying stitch counts, some uncalled-for plain knitting in the middle of the waist shaping, and likely not as many stitches in total at the hips. But you know what else? It led to a perfectly fitting sweater that I finished the Friday before Rhinebeck. Either I was lucky or I actually can successfully improvise a sweater after all these years.

Speaking of improvisation, my friends and I improvised our own Rhinebecky day in New York City, instead of driving 2.5 hours up to the Dutchess County Fairgrounds. We went to Knitty City, a crafts fair, and Central Park to approximate yarn booths and fall foliage. Just like at Rhinebeck, we took time for a photo shoot (this time Tania and Holly took my pictures, instead of Caro). But we also went shoe shopping, ate a calm and line-less brunch, and were home in time for dinner. So in some ways we improved on Rhinebeck! All that was missing were all the friends I didn’t get to hug. Next year, I’ll be back!

reversible rib shawl

This pattern is a real blast from the past for me. I remember seeing both Rachel and Laura‘s versions six and seven years ago. I want to refer to them as if you’ve all seen them, but that’s probably not likely, is it? Just because that time of my life is vivid in my mind doesn’t make it so for everyone else. It’s not as if I can say “you know that pattern that everyone is knitting?” anymore. They did it years and years ago. Neither of them even blogs anymore! I’m the one who’s super late to the game. I even started knitting this shawl a year or more ago; in some ways I’m late even to my own game!

But let’s ignore all that because this is just a really pretty pattern, and I finished it, and I wore it, so it’s time to blog it. Lily Chin’s Reversible Cabled Rib Shawl, from Vogue Knitting’s Winter 1999–2000 issue. (I must point out that it’s my friends’ photos that are used as the project photos for that pattern on Ravelry. It’s not as if they were tiny blips in the history of this pattern.) It’s most magical when viewed through sunlight, I think.

I had the perfect yarn (Mango Moon’s Capra, in fog) and no real deadline, so I started knitting it last summer, just to have something on the needles and a potential shawl to wear to an event if one came up. It was great mindless knitting, perfect for working on at lunch at work. Other projects took priority, so it sat around, but wasn’t far from my mind. Then we got the invite to go to San Francisco for a friend’s wedding, and where else do you need a nice warm wrap, ideally in a color called “fog”?

In the week before we left I pulled it out, worked on it for a few more hours, and got it to an acceptable length so I could bind it off and bring it along (I never measured it, just wrapped it around me with the needles in). I got to block it with a real steamer while on a photo shoot, which was a nice bonus, as I’m not sure my iron could have handled it. I did modify the pattern, casting on one fewer repeat across to make it narrower because I didn’t want it to completely overwhelm me.

Jason and I headed out onto the pier behind the Embarcadero, where the reception was held, to do this quick photo shoot. It was downright COLD out there! Having the shawl was entirely necessary. The rest of the weekend I wore a jacket and even my Stripe Study, it was so chilly. Perfect weather for a really perfect weekend. It was Jason’s first visit to SF, which I’ve been to dozens of times, and it was fun to be touristy and see all the sights. We are eager to go back for more tacos and more visits with friends!

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!