The coziest winter yet

Please note – when pattern names are linked with quote marks around them, they are linked to Ravelry site pages. If there are no quote marks, they are links to previous blog posts or elsewhere on the internet.

I know I’ve written about this before, but I’m definitely on a sweater kick. I mean, let’s look at the evidence.

At the start of the pandemic in mid/late March, I started Elkko (links directly to Knitty), a sweater I powered through in about two weeks.

And since then, I’ve finished A Mount Pleasant crop, two V-Neck Magpie shirts, a Summer Secret Top, not to mention a sweater for my brother’s dog. Oh, and on my needles are three more sweaters, all for me.

I know all this sweater knitting is coming from the sheer amount of OTHER objects I have in my wardrobe. My shawls and cowls are plentiful, and goodness knows my sock drawer is overflowing.

The sweaters on-the-go are “Very V Neck Raglan” by Jessie Maed Designs, “Vatsland Jumper” by Ella Gordon, and “Sock Arms” by Stephanie Lotven. Sock Arms got a lot of attention during work video meetings. It had rounds and rounds of stockinette in fingering weight yarn, and my nervous energy needed to be funneled somewhere during those meetings, so knitting this sweater was ideal. Over the last week or so, I was able to give it some undivided attention, and I finished the body and got the first sleeve started.

As the name implies, the highlight of this sweater is the contrasting sleeves, an excellent way to showcase self striping or self patterning yarn on your arms as opposed to on your feet.

As soon as the self stripes were starting to take form, I texted this picture to a friend:

I am so pleased with how this sweater is shaping up!

Skills beyond the Knit and Purl

Please note – when pattern names are linked with quote marks around them, they are linked to Ravelry site pages. If there are no quote marks, they are links to previous blog posts or elsewhere on the internet.

For over a week, I’ve watched conversations take place on Social Media about yarns, substitutions, and recommended yarns for a pattern. Mostly, I’ve been following along on Twitter, watching as designers and those who are far more knowledgeable at knitting than I delve into the topic. Watching it unfold got me thinking about the skills we learn along the way as knitters.

The first skill you learn, I would argue before the knit and purl is the cast on, at least, that was what I learned first. I taught myself how to knit using YouTube videos, and if I wanted to get to knitting, I needed to know how to cast on. After that, I learned how to knit, then I learned how to purl. My very first project was an e-reader cozy, and working on that project taught me how to recognise the Right Side of a project versus the Wrong Side – this cozy, for example, was never meant to have random garter ridges. Those ‘design features’ came from my inability to recognize right from wrong. But I learned.

Other technical skills came along the way – how to read a pattern, how to cable, how to work in the round (from which I’ve never looked back), how to read a pattern chart, the importance of making your gauge swatch. Heck, I’m still learning skills almost a decade later.

One valuable skill I’ve learned through the years, and I would argue is never FULLY mastered, is understanding yarn weights, fingering vs. worsted vs. DK, etc., what they mean for a pattern, and how to substitute yarns for patterns. As a newbie, it is confusing. Some skeins say weight name, like worsted or sock, some give the 1-6 number, some might give Wraps Per Inch (perhaps the one true standard), some might give gauge stitches, and some might not say anything at all. If you’re just starting out trying to understand all of this when there are so many different ways yarn can be classified is confusing and overwhelming. I can certainly see the appeal of simply using the yarn recommended by a designer.

Very rarely, however, have I knit a pattern with the designer recommended yarn – My Blue Brick Samwise Cowl is a notable exception (wanting a pattern that would best highlight this gradient yarn), as are the Briggs and Little Thrummed Mittens. My usual MO is looking at the weight of the yarn that the designer uses and finding my own yarn to suit the project. If they’ve used a fingering yarn, I’ll find my own fingering yarn that suits my tastes and budget. It took far longer than I care to admit to grasp the differences in weights, what it means, and how to choose the best yarn for a project, and even my understandings aren’t always 100% on the money.

As an example – my “Le Pouf” cardigan by Beata Jezek. I have a habit of buying single skeins at fibre festivals. They are pretty, and buying one or two at a festival is better for my budget than buying a sweater lot when I go. After a number of years, I realized a few of these one-off skeins all looked really good together, and I wanted some faded pattern to show them off together. The pattern calls for Hedgehog Fibres Sock to be used, a fingering weight, and here I had six skeins of fingering weight yarn. I knew that the yarn I had on hand could be substituted for the yarn being called for by the designer. I swatched, I got gauge, I cast on, and I knit.

One feature of Ravelry that I’ve found to be very helpful is that it tells you what weight of yarn the pattern is calling for; if you use the stash, you can know what weight your yarn is; you can take a look at others who have made the pattern to see what yarns they have used; you can use your stash to see pattern recommendations based on what others have made. These features of Ravelry helped me understand yarn weights and how to best use my stash – what I’ve bought with my budget. I can’t always use the yarns the designer recommends – perhaps it doesn’t fit in my budget, or perhaps it isn’t available in my corner of Canada. At this time, I’m not sure of other websites that offer such a feature and database of yarns.

If you’re unsure, your Local Yarn Shop is a great place to start. Owners understand yarns and can recommend a yarn that will suit your project. Many shops have a variety of yarns that can suit almost any budget. I made my Chateau sweater using yarn recommended by my LYS owner. I had the pattern, but using a super bulky alpaca yarn just wasn’t in my budget. With Tina’s help, she recommended the James C Brett Marble Chunky and gave me the guidance needed to make this sweater work with this yarn.

Let’s also not forget that LYS owners WANT you to succeed! They are small businesses in your community, and they want you to become the best knitter you can be. They will give you advise, many will offer lessons, and many, like I said, have a wide selection of yarn including the basic workhorse yarns to specialty hand dyed skeins of awesomeness. They want you to succeed because they want you to love the craft. They will support you because they want your support back.

Knitting skills start with casting on, knitting, purling, and casting off. However, knitting skills and knitting knowledge goes far beyond these basics. As a knitter, I’m always looking to learn, to expand my capabilities, helping me continue to make the lovely pieces I want to keep creating.

Trying to get to my pudding

Please note – when pattern names are linked with quote marks around them, they are linked to Ravelry site pages. If there are no quote marks, they are links to previous blog posts or elsewhere on the internet.

If you don’t eat yer meat, you can’t have any pudding. How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat yer meat?

Pink Floyd, Another Brick in the Wall

This weekend, I set a goal for myself. I wouldn’t start any new project, despite how much I really wanted to, until I finished socks. My oomph to work on socks just hasn’t been there, all the while, my desire to make ALL THE TOPS has been in overdrive.

Apparently, setting this clear goal worked, and I got most of one sock done and finished another.

I’ve dubbed these my ‘ugly socks’ or my ‘Get Out of my Stash and Onto my Feet’ socks:

There are three different self striping skein remnants making up these beauties, and I used a toe-up pattern (“Vanilla Sock with Gusset & Choice of Heel”┬áby Jo Torr”), and I’m not nearly as confident with as I am for cuff down. I had a few false starts and a few visits to the frog pond with them, and then they sat ignored on the gusset increase step for months. Who knew that a little undivided attention would mean getting the first sock finished…

The other sock that got some attention this weekend was my “Let It Shine Socks” – I’m more than halfway finished the foot, so this is another pair that will be finished soon.

So, once I’ve ‘ate my meat’ and can ‘get to my pudding’ (got through the stuff I’m slogging with to get to what I REALLY want to make), my next project might be from a yarn box! Village Laine, one of my LYSs, has started subscription yarn box program, and after my friend shared what was inside her box for Summer 2020, I drove down and bought one of the few remaining kits for myself.

The yarn is cotton and nylon, and included in the kit was a pattern for a t-shirt. My friend is also working through a few UFOs before she starts her shirt, so I might wait and start with her for an unofficial knit-along.

But, the fact that I got these goals achieved and made significant progress on these pairs, I’m happy.

Sock Stories – July 2020

Please note – when pattern names are linked with quote marks around them, they are linked to Ravelry site pages. If there are no quote marks, they are links to previous blog posts or elsewhere on the internet.

The sock mojo, it just isn’t there. I mean, I’m knitting socks, but as has been the theme for the past few months, my oomph for it just isn’t there.

  1. Is it the heat? Am I just not wanting to knit warm wool socks in the summer?
  2. Could it be my overstuffed sock drawer? I mean, I’m constantly trying to keep this darn dresser drawer organized?
  3. Am I just feeling blah about the socks I’m working on – I’d say a heck yes for two of my three pairs on the go
  4. Or, perhaps, as I’ve lamented before, I have a lot of socks, but my wardrobe is lacking in summer knits, crop tops, cottons, and those have been the projects I’m gravitating towards at the moment.

The pair with the most progress is my “Let It Shine” pair for my sister. I’m nearly halfway done sock #2, and seeing the end is certainly motivating.

And, I mean, it’s looking rather pretty.

Maybe this is the month my mojo comes back… one can be hopeful.

Sock Stories – May 2020

Let’s be honest, my sock round up had been pretty sad in March & April, but this month, I actually have stories to tell because I’ve actually been knitting socks!

First, I got a simple vanilla pair finished!


The yarn is Timber Yarns in Platform 9 3/4 – if you notice, the stripes are all the colours of the Hogwarts Houses. I bought this vibrant yarn last year at the Prince Edward County Fibre Festival

*excuse me for a minute while I reflect back on an amazing Saturday with friends and grieving the fact that there have been no in-person fibre festivals*

Okay, I’m back. Yes, socks. Bright, fun, self-striping socks.

I’ve also (finally) made some headway on a pair using the pattern Cozy Autumn Socks by This Handmade Life. No idea why getting going on this was a slog, but, I think I’m coming to a realization. I love lace and cables, I really do, but getting used to a pattern and what is expected takes time to get used to, so I drag my feet when making these patterns.  The Half Blood Prince Socks felt the same way.

Finally, I started a pair of socks this weekend for my sister. I got through about 25 rounds of an eyelet pattern before realizing how much I disliked how it was shaping up. A quick visit to the frog pond, a new pattern, and two webinars later, and the socks are just over 20 rounds finished, so basically back to where I was. This pattern is Let It Shine Socks by Sarah Youde, and it’s living up to the name. The yarn really does shine with this pattern, and the lace panel adds the right amount of interest.

Happy sock knitting!