Over the past couple of years, my (almost) 11-year-old daughter has added some new animals to her list of favorites. Along with dogs, polar bears and dolphins, she now has a favorite bird – owls. Apparently owls are getting popular in general, because we see them everywhere lately – Hannah’s got an owl backpack, blanket, notebooks, shirt, etc.
Owls are big in knitwear design too, it seems. I found this cute pattern last month, so I knitted Hannah an owl hat.
She picked out the yarn -it’s knit in Cascade Pacific, in the Baby Lime colorway. I found the buttons at JoAnn Fabrics – there are four different colors of blue, teal and green and they look really cute as owl eyes on the hat.
Along with the hat, I think I’m going to incorporate the same owl design into a pair of mittens (or maybe fingerless mitts) for her at some point this winter.
My other owl-related knitting project this fall is for Hannah’s upcoming birthday party (owl themed, of course). I saw the Owl Puff pattern on Ravelry a little while ago and had been wanting to make one. In thinking about the birthday party, I thought these would make really cute party favors – and at this age, we don’t need to be sending home goodie bags full of candy and junk.
So I made an Owl Puff. And another.
It’s kind of addictive actually. They almost just seem to multiply on their own.
Ok, so not quite. But I can make a couple of them in an evening, so they’re a very quick knit – and a great way to use up scrap yarn. The only cost I’ve had is for the safety eyes, but I’ve spent less on those than I would have for little toys and candy for goodie bags.
And these are much, much cuter.
Over this past year, as I’ve gotten more and more into the online knitting world of blogs, podcasts, Ravelry groups, etc., I’ve seen plenty of ways in which to get involved – both virtually and in-person. Everything from knit-alongs to sheep and wool festivals and fiber shows that you can attend in your local area (or travel to). I haven’t made it to a show yet, but it’s been a lot of fun to participate in a lot of the online activities that I’ve run across.
One of these that I’d heard of at the tail end of last summer was Camp Loopy, held through The Loopy Ewe (TLE). The store is located in Colorado, but has a large online shop as well, that I’ve become very familiar with over recent months. One promotion that they do every summer is Camp Loopy – kind of a win-win for knitters and store alike.
The way it works is that TLE provides both a knitting challenge as well as a discount on yarn to enable knitters to complete their projects. For example, June’s challenge was to knit something using only one skein of yarn (held singly, not doubled) that you’d never knit with before. You can participate whether or not you purchase your yarn through TLE – but they do offer incentives to buy through them, such as a 20% discount during ‘camp week’ for that month, as well as a free skein of a specially-dyed yarn for those who both buy their yarn through TLE AND complete all 3 months’ projects on time.
Along with the basic monthly challenge and incentives, TLE makes the experience a social and fun one by utilizing Ravelry to divide knitters up into groups for each month’s challenge so that they can share their progress, get advice, help each other out and get to know one another better. Everything is around the ‘camp’ theme – for this summer, June’s groups were themed around mountain-climbing (and knitting of course – I was in the Mount Tinknomore group), July’s were treehouses, and August’s were campfire games.
I was excited to participate in Camp Loopy this year for the first time – although I don’t know if I will do so again next year or not. The first month’s challenge was easy – for the one-skein project, I knit a pair of socks out of some yarn I found by browsing through the TLE online store – Crazyfoot by Mountain Colors. I used the Hermione’s Everyday Socks pattern and they were a fun and easy knit.
July’s challenge got a little more difficult – you had to knit with at least 500 yards of yarn (single stranded) and use a pattern that’s popular on Ravelry (has at least 1000 projects listed or queued up). I went through my own queue and ended up deciding on the Traveling Woman shawl. Finding a yarn was a bit more challenging since my budget was small, but I ended up using one skein of Hand Maiden Mini Maiden – a wool/silk blend that is one of the softest yarns I’ve knit with so far. I chose a dark brown for my shawl, because I wanted it to match a good portion of my wardrobe, and I tend to wear neutrals a lot. The shawl was fun to knit and I finished well ahead of time.
By the time August rolled around though, it was getting a lot more challenging to complete Camp Loopy – this is a really busy month for me to begin with, getting the kids ready to go back to school, activities kick off, and my knitting time tends to be greatly reduced. And for August, you had to knit with at least 800 yards single-stranded. That’s a lot of yarn! I had to go with something on the inexpensive side to be able to afford multiple skeins, so I picked Cascade Heritage and decided to knit a pattern I’d found and really liked – the Drifting cardigan. For my size, it uses over 800 yards of yarn, so I was set.
It was a really, really easy knit – but I did have to really push it at the end to finish. I used two full skeins of yarn (over 800 yards), and did finish the sweater in time. And it looked nice – and fit, sort of. It was more of a cropped sweater, which was ok – but not really what I prefer. So a week or two later I ended up picking out the bind-off, ripping the bottom ribbing back out, putting it back on the needles and adding a couple more inches from the 3rd skein that I’d bought, in order to make the sweater fit me better. And I’m really glad that I did so.
So yes, I did complete all three projects, with TLE yarn, and on-time. So I was thrilled to be able to choose one of the specially-dyed skeins of yarn and can’t wait to knit something with it soon. I had fun participating – although I really only became involved in the Ravelry threads during July. I was a little intimidated to join in during June – those boards move fast! And in August I was lucky to have enough time to knit, much less keep up with that month’s thread. I was very ready to have some deadline-free knitting time for September!
Overall it was a fun experience and gave me the chance to try a couple of patterns that I’d wanted to knit and some new yarns that I hadn’t used before. And I came out of it with my first sweater that I’d made for myself too, so it was definitely a success all around, I think.
I was not asked to mention or promote The Loopy Ewe or their Camp Loopy event, nor was I compensated in any way for doing so. I just like to share about fun knitting-related events and experiences that I’ve found.
One of my 2013 goals was to try sweater knitting – and so far, so good. I tackled this for the Alana Dakos knit-along in the Subway Knits group on Ravelry – I’ve liked Alana’s Spring Garden Tee pattern for quite a while and had been wanting to knit it for one of my girls, so this was the perfect opportunity.
I decided to knit the largest size that the pattern is written for – size 14. When I measured my middle daughter, it looked like the size 12 would be just about right for her, but I wanted to make it a bit larger, just in case. It’s always smart to aim for things to fit Hannah – that way if it’s too big, Abbi can wear it, or if it’s too small, Becca can.
The recommended yarn for the pattern had been discontinued (Rowan Calmer), so I visited my LYS to see what I could find in a similar-type yarn. I wanted a yarn with some cotton content since it’s a warmer weather garment, but I didn’t want to use straight cotton because there’s no give to it and it’s very difficult to knit with. I wanted something with just a bit of stretch to it – and something washable since it’s for a kid. I also needed an option that wasn’t too expensive since I had to buy around 900 yards of it.
I ended up with Berroco Weekend DK, which is 75% acrylic and 25% cotton (the opposite of the Rowan Calmer). I picked a bright pink since I figured that any one of my three girls would wear it in that color and even though I was aiming for a sweater that would fit Hannah, it could have ended up for any one of them. Plus pink matches just about everything that they’ve got.
I did knit a gauge swatch and was pretty close on the size 6 needles the pattern calls for. My stitch gauge was right on at 6 stitches/inch – my row gauge was off, but I figured that with this type of design, I could just knit the body as long as I wanted it and then stop.
This was a really fun pattern to knit. It’s extremely well-written, which I appreciated since it was my first time dealing with raglan sleeve increases. It’s knit top-down in one piece, which was very easy, and the bit of lace on the cap sleeves gave a welcome change from straight stockinette knitting for a while. I powered through the stockinette on the body portion during a weekend visit at a friend’s house – which worked great since I didn’t have to pay any attention to what I was doing and could easily visit and chat.
The sweater turned out wonderfully and fits Hannah exactly as I hoped it would. It fits, with a bit of room for growth, so she’ll be able to wear it for a good year or two – and then pass it down to Becca once she outgrows it.
I’m trying to decide what I want to knit for my next sweater – I’d love to knit something for me, but that’s a much bigger challenge. Literally – I wear between a 1X and 2X shirt. And I’d be much more worried about gauge since I’d want it to fit me well. I don’t wear a lot of sweaters because I don’t like the bulk, so I’d want to do something lightweight. I’ll have to look through Ravelry and see what I can find – maybe something like the Brise Cardigan or Featherweight Cardigan. Or the Tarim – I already have the pattern for that one.
I took a break from my monthly sock knitting to finish the Spring Garden Tee for the end of the knit-along – but I’m back at it for June with my first Camp Loopy 2013 project. More about that to come.
This was one of my goals for 2013 – and I’m so excited to be completely on-track, at least so far.
In January, I knit my first pair of self-striping socks – for myself.
Then, for February I knit a pair of socks for my youngest daughter – her older sisters have socks still that I’d made previously for them, but Becca had outgrown her previous pair a while ago, so she was due. I picked a fun self-striping yarn for her too – Loops & Threads Luxury Sock in the Balloons colorway and made just a plain stockinette sock again. She loves them and I did get them done in time – by about 10 minutes.
For March’s socks, I was thrilled to have been able to buy a skein of yarn from Fibernymph Dye Works, in her Bounce base. This is the Calypso colorway, and I love the chunky stripes with the eensy while stripes between. Green striped socks make me so happy, so these were again for me. And again, I finished them in time.
Since my oldest daughter’s birthday falls in April, I decided that it was her turn for another pair of socks. Abbi asked for socks in rainbow colors, which made for an interesting challenge when yarn shopping. I was able to find a rainbow-striping yarn from KnitPicks – their Felici sock yarn in (what else) the Rainbow colorway.
This time I wanted to do something a little different – they’re still going to be self-striping socks and I still wanted a fairly mindless, easy pattern but I wanted something other than straight stockinette. One of my newest podcast favorites is Mel-Tran Designs Knitting Corner and Melissa has a free pattern out on Ravelry for a Chevron sock striping pattern. The pattern is written toe-up, but it’s been very easy to adapt to cuff-down.
Abbi never wears matching socks, so these are going to be fraternal twins – I’m not every trying to match up the striping pattern. It’s kind of freeing to not have to even think about whether the stripes are lining up or not.
I’m making these on size 2 needles (3mm) over 72 stitches per sock. They do fit Abbi’s foot and leg, but she must have a large heel because it’s difficult to get the portion of cuff over her heel. I’m debating whether to keep going or frog these and start over again with 80 stitches per sock. The yarn is really stretchy though, so they may be ok as-is.
Striping sock yarn is so much fun to work with – I’ll have to see if I stay in the stripe frame of mind over the next few months or if I want to try anything else. Socks are a fun way to try out new techniques and patterns with a project that’s fairly quick, easy and portable.
12 pairs of socks by the end of 2013 – so far, so good!
Although I’ve been knitting for several years now, it’s only really been in the last year or so that I’ve really become aware of the gorgeous array of natural fiber yarns that are out there. One of my favorite companies nowadays is Dream in Color – a yarn line carried by my LYS.
I first became aware of Dream in Color yarns when their Dream Club was highlighted in the weekly LYS newsletter. Basically every month from September 2012 through February 2013, Dream in Color dyed up a special colorway and paired it with a pattern designed specifically for that month’s club. Instead of working like most traditional yarn clubs, where individuals sign up and receive yarn shipments directly at home, this one is a bit different in that they send the club packages to the local yarn stores and you purchase them there.
I missed September’s yarn and pattern, but snagged October’s last fall. It was a gorgeous yarn with a mix of browns, golds and a hint of green – totally reminiscent of autumn leaf colors. The pattern was called Autumn Fern Mobius – a beautiful infinity style cowl/scarf that I was very excited to knit.
I did cast the project on in October, but due to holiday knitting – I didn’t finish until January. I love how it turned out though, and I’ve been wearing it often. I’m so not used to wearing actual wool – it’s almost been too warm to wear on many days unless the temperatures have been really frigid.
November’s yarn was a soft pink that I really liked, but the pattern was for a pair of opera (up to the elbow) length mitts (called Carmen) that I wasn’t sure I would like or not. I ended up actually using that skein of yarn (plus an extra I bought later) for my Enfolded Shawlette that I knit in January.
I went back and forth about the pattern that came with the gorgeous skein of December Dream Club yarn. Although I really liked the idea of the Seychelles shawl/cape, I just didn’t know if it’s something that I would ever wear. And the yarn was just too pretty to make something I wasn’t totally sure about. So I went searching on Ravelry for an alternative and came up with the Context pattern. It was a very quick and fun knit and it blocked out beautifully after I finished it. It fits perfectly as a scarf or shawlette.
January’s Dream Club was a win-win for me with both the yarn and the Ichigo Tam pattern. This is probably one of the most absolute gorgeous yarn colorways I’ve ever seen, and I’d been wanting a slouchy hat of some sort for myself since I didn’t already have a hat and I’m not a fan of the more tightly-fit ones. I had to wait a little while before casting the hat on though, since I didn’t own either of the needle sizes and lengths required. I cast-on the larger size of the pattern, for a 22” head circumference. But when I got about halfway through the pattern repeats – enough so I could try the brim on, I decided that while it did technically fit, my thick, bulky hair would probably pop the hat right off the top of my head.
So I frogged the whole thing and started over, adding an extra 16 stitches. Oh that was painful! But the end result was well worth it since the hat fits perfectly and I absolutely love it. And I even have almost half the skein left, so I think I’ll find a pattern and knit myself a pair of mitts to match.
I haven’t purchased February’s Dream Club yarn/pattern (yet), mainly because my budget is tighter than it had been and I’m not totally in love with the yarn colorway, which is in shades of red. The pattern isn’t something I’d really wear either. I may pick it up later if my LYS has any left over – they have had leftovers of almost every other month so we’ll see. But overall it’s been so much fun to see what Dream in Color comes out with every month and I can’t wait to see if they do another round of the Dream Club this fall!
When it comes to knitting, I’m sort of an island in some ways. Back when I used to crochet during and after my college years, I had one good friend who also crocheted and a couple of others who dabbled in it as well – and it was great fun to be able to ‘talk shop’ and compare and share patterns, yarns, etc.
But I don’t have any friends around here who knit.
Up until this year, I’d gone to a weekly knitting group at church and always loved seeing what they were working on and hearing stories, asking questions and such. This year the timing just hasn’t worked out and I’ve really missed the camaraderie. It’s hard to find a new group – not only finding one that meets at a convenient time, but I’m on the shy side and the idea of going to an already established group where the members know each other and have friendships and such already intimidates me greatly. I’d looked forward to trying a group at a local LYS this school year – now that my girls are all in school full-days, I would be able to make it to their Wednesday morning group. Which I did – exactly once, before necessity kicked in and I lost my free weekdays to a part-time job. Evening groups aren’t a great option since the kids always seem to have something going on in the evenings these days.
So that means that my best options are online. I’ve started to use Ravelry a lot more these days – I’ve always tracked my projects there but it’s got a huge social element to it as well, with groups that you can join and discussion forums to follow and participate in. As with any new group, it’s hard to break in to something already established, but I’m braver online than I am in real life, so I’m trying a little at a time.
Which brings me to the concept of the online knit-along (KAL). It seems like a good way to participate in something that has a bit of a social aspect and gives you a common topic to talk about since everybody’s working on the same project. I found my first KAL this year through the Dream in Color blog – they’re a yarn company and I’ve been buying their Dream Club yarns each month since last fall. They posted in December about a designer who was starting a KAL for a new shawl she’d designed, using Dream in Color Calm yarn. I hopped over to her Ravelry group and looked at the pattern – the Enfolded Shawlette. It’s gorgeous – and since it’s knit in a worsted weight, it looked like a great option for a first-time shawl knitter like me. Plus, I already had a skein of Dream in Color Calm that I’d bought from the November Dream Club. It was pink – not my first choice, but I thought it would make a pretty shawl.
As it did. It was a surprisingly quick knit and I finished it in a total of 9 days. I really enjoyed sharing my progress pictures in the group and seeing what others were doing as well. I already have another of Linda’s shawls in my queue and look forward to knitting it as well.
Shawls are fun to knit, I’m finding! I’ve already completed a second one (as part of another KAL), but I’ll share more about that next time. I don’t know if the online KALs and Ravelry groups are totally filling my need for having people to talk knitting with, but it’s a start.
Just as with any knitting project, it’s all about small steps building to a greater whole.
It’s the beginning of a new month, and I’m actually on track for my sock knitting goal for 2013 – so far anyway. My goal is to knit one pair of socks (minimum) each month this year, and I completed the first pair just a day late, on February 1st.
This pair of socks wasn’t very complicated but it marks a few firsts for me.
1) This is my first pair of socks knit with self-striping yarn.
2) My first try at an afterthought heel.
3) My first pair of socks knit without a specific pattern, instead using what I’ve learned about socks so far coupled with the Yarn Harlot’s basic sock recipe from her Knitting Rules book (which I recently read as well).
I used a couple of skeins of Patons Kroy Socks Ragg Shades that I’ve had for a while and knit them magic loop, 2-at-a-time on size US 1-1/2 needles and 80 stitches, starting with about 20 rows of 2×2 ribbing then just plain stockinette for the rest.
Since I’d never done an afterthought heel before, I simply added the waste yarn when I had the cuffs at a length that I liked and continued on for several inches. At that point, I picked up the heel stitches on one sock, pulled out the waste yarn and knit the heel so that I could try on the sock to figure out how far to knit the foot before starting the toe decreases. Then I finished the foot and toes for both socks at the same time and once they were of the needles, I went back and added the heel to the second sock. Now I know how long to make the foot in general, so I’ll just be able to measure next time and do both heels after the socks are otherwise completed.
They turned out really well and fit great! It was good to have a very simple and easy project to tote around with me or use when I didn’t want to concentrate on anything difficult or confusing.
It’s already February 3rd and I have yet to start this month’s socks – I want to knit a pair for my youngest daughter since she’s currently the only one of the girls without a pair of hand-knit socks that fit (she outgrew her only pair a while ago but I was working on socks for her sisters at that point). I need to get out to the store to find some yarn and then I’ll be ready to cast on a pair for her.
One nice thing about 7-year-old feet – they’re smaller, so the socks will be a faster knit.
I had so much fun knitting the holiday ornaments and gave out almost all of them as gifts. The only one I kept is the first one that I made – it wasn’t the greatest job of figuring out when to start decreases at the top, but I couldn’t bring myself to rip it out and start over since it was my first one. I’ll make another (better) one for our tree for Christmas 2013 – right now I’m a little burned out on them. I gave out a total of 12 ornaments to friends, neighbors, family and teachers. I also spent time sewing little drawstring gift bags for each ornament, which was almost as fun as knitting them. My craft goals for 2013 definitely include more time on the sewing machine.
Along with the ornaments, I also knit my mom a pair of socks for Christmas. I’d made her a pair last year and she liked them so much that I promised her another. I used a different pattern this time for some variety – I knit the H Socks from my 2-at-a-time Socks book by Melissa Morgan-Oakes. It was an easy and fun pattern and Mom really liked the design. The socks took about 10 days – with all of the holiday craziness I didn’t finish them until early Christmas morning, and quickly (and quietly) wrapped them and snuck them under the tree. I made them using a couple of skeins of blue yarn that I’d found buried in my drawer of old yarn from my crocheting days – they had to be at least 10 years old, but the yarn was acrylic and in great shape and it knit up just fine. My mom can’t wear wool, so I have to use acrylic yarn for her socks. I wanted a worsted weight yarn since her floors get very cold in the winter so she wears thick, warm socks.
I’m glad to be done with the holiday knitting so I can finish a couple of other projects that have been languishing on the needles for the past few months – as well as start some new ones. I already cast on a pair of simple stockinette socks in a fun self-striping yarn – those will be my take-along knitting to keep in my purse and knit on when I have a few moments here or there or when I need something mindless to work on. I have a couple of other things in mind as well that I’d like to start soon too.
So, on to my knitting goals! These may be lofty, but hopefully are do-able. There’s still so much that I want to learn/do when it comes to knitting.
- Knit a minimum of one pair of socks each month. I think this is manageable – and I love knitting socks. I also want to learn new patterns and techniques, including trying toe-up socks and some other types of heel construction (such as an afterthought heel).
- Knit a Fair Isle project. I had a lot of fun with the KnitFreedom video e-book course and the felted bag project, so now I want to go on and try a non-felted project to see how well I can manage the tension and different colors. I’m thinking maybe a hat or mittens would be a good first project.
- Knit a sweater. I successfully knit two shrugs a couple of years ago but have never tried an actual sweater. I’ve got yarn and a pattern for a simple kid-sized one that I’d like to work on this winter – although it realistically might not be finished in time to wear until next fall. We’ll see.
- Knit a shawl. I see so many beautiful projects and patterns on Ravelry on in the podcasts that I watch – I’m a bit daunted by the idea of charts, but love the challenge of lace knitting. Going along with this one is…
- Get comfortable knitting from charts.
- Last but not least – my goal is to blog here a lot more regularly than I did in 2012 about my knitting journey, my projects and everything I learn along the way.
Happy New Year and Happy Knitting!
Or at least with knitting a certain kind of project, anyway.
We are in the swing of the holiday season right now and for once I haven’t left my holiday knitting until the very last moment. Back in October, I was at the local yarn store and happened to spy a couple of sample ornaments. I loved the look – a clear glass bulb covered in a knitted sphere. I knew I had to try making one.
The pattern was available at the LYS, so I bought it and also picked up a package of the clear glass ornaments at Michaels pretty cheaply. My first attempt at the pattern wasn’t perfect – I began the decreases way too soon and the stitches at the top of the bulb were very stretched out. But my second one was better. And the third even better…
Until now, after finishing TEN ornaments (so far), I am not only feeling like an expert – but I’ve become addicted to making these. They’re quick and easy – good for a project to work on while watching tv or podcasts. And I can make one easily in a night (two at the most if I get knitting time both nights). I plan on using them for gifts for everyone from the girls’ teachers to neighbors and co-workers (shhh).
I think they’re cute – and they’re a great way to use up leftover sock or fingering weight yarn. I joke that I’m making ‘sweaters’ for the ornaments, although Ron says they look like ‘ornament socks’. I have two of the patterns (both are from Kalamazoo Knits) – Deck the Balls and Deck the Balls with Texture. There are several more patterns available (such as Deck the Balls with Lace and Deck the Balls with Aran), but I think I’ll stick with just these for now. I like the lace patterns, but would probably want to try those on colored glass bulbs instead of clear.
Maybe next year.
Back in January, I set out to knit my oldest daughter a pair of socks. Nine months later – she finally has a pair that fit! And I am planning on waiting a very long time before knitting anything else in pink.
The first pair of socks did not fit Abbi – I think that I actually messed something up in the gusset decreases because while that pair of socks does fit Hannah, they’re very difficult to get over even her heels. And there was no way they were going to fit over Abbi’s heels. So in March, I set out to knit a second pair of the same socks – same pattern, same yarn. The only differences were that I went up one needle size and knit the largest pattern size (Large instead of Medium).
This time, the socks slip over Abbi’s heels easily and they fit her perfectly. Or almost – I deliberately made them slightly long for her feet so she’s got some room before outgrowing them. Although with a shoe size of 8-1/2 already, I can’t imagine that her feet have a ton of growing left to do – but she’s not even 12 years old yet, so who knows.
This particular pair of socks has been hanging over my head for months now. I took a break from them (and almost any other knitting) over the summer and when I picked my needles back up this fall, I knew that I had to make myself finish these before starting anything else. That didn’t quite work – I just plain needed something else to work on for some variety, or I would’ve never been able to get these done.
But they are done! And I am so, so happy. I love this pattern, but after making two pairs of these socks, one right after the other, in the same exact yarn – I am terribly burned out on it. And ready for a new challenge.
Which I am finding in the way of the Dream in Color Dream Club October 2012 Knit-Along project – the Autumn Fern Mobius cowl. The yarn is so pretty and I love the pattern too. I’ve cast it on and finished one set of pattern repeats. Now that the socks are done, I can really get working on this and also finish up the poncho that I started as well.
And yes, I’ll probably cast on more socks again soon too. I love how portable they are, not to mention useful. Or maybe I’ll try some mittens for the girls for winter. And then there’s holiday gift knitting… Oh the possibilities are endless!
Now if only my knitting time were as endless…