American Wool Series

Friday, December 14, 2012

Savory Knitting

If you're as obsessed with Amy Christoffers' patterns as I am you'll be happy to know that all of her accessory patterns are on sale through December 24th. I just snapped up the Bristol Hat, for which I've got very selfish knitting plans.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Quick Gifts to Knit: Cowls

Here we are two weeks from Christmas, firmly ensconced in Hanukkah, and I bet you're frantically knitting away at gifts. Am I right? Well, if you've finally realized that all those socks for every family member knit on size 1 needles aren't going to knit themselves you're probably looking for alternative gift ideas. Here we go- these are some of my favorite free fast cowl patterns

I'll start off by tooting my own horn. My GSZ cowl is free (see the sidebar at right) and is super quick to knit in one skein of Malabrigo Rasta. Finish time for one of those bad boys is between 2 and 4 hours. Toot!

Last year I knit the Gaptastic Cowl out of two skeins of Cascade 128 Superwash for Little A's teacher. Two shortish evenings of knitting and I had a cowl just long enough to loop around for extra warmth. The beauty of this cowl is that you just knit seed stitch until you're almost out of yarn and then bind off so it's easily adjustable for both length and width.

The Burberry Inspired Cowl is a nice cabley pattern without being overly fussy. This cowl is knit flat lengthwise and then seamed. I knit mine with two skeins of Malabrigo Twist but you can easily alter the pattern to use up more skeins or less, like my friend Jen.

A perpetual favorite is the Dolores Park Cowl knit in one skein of Malabrigo Chunky. This is pretty much as simple as it gets. Chunky yarn, stockinette in the round, and a few increases make this cowl totally doable for newbie knitters or those of us in a time crunch.

This final pattern is one I've been stalking on Ravelry as of late - the Understory Cowl. It's a nice combination of pretty lace and aran weight yarn knit on size 10 needles. I think it would be easy to adjust circumference-wise once you figure out the number of stitches in the lace repeat. But really, I like the bold lace pattern with the heavy yarn. It looks extra squishy and toasty but pretty, too.

There you have it. Five free cowl patterns knit in heavy-ish weight yarns that could make it under the Christmas tree this year. Happy knitting!

Aaaaand I'm Done

No, not with holiday knitting but with something else that has been taking up a large amount of time and brain power. I'm finished with my BA coursework!!! As soon as grades are submitted and my paperwork is processed I'll be an official graduate of the University of Washington.

What next? Good question.

I'm taking a couple of weeks off for the holidays and the visit of my best friend who has been in Ukraine for the last two years. I'm going to knit. I'm going to revel in not having to do homework. And then I'm going to get down to the business of applying for graduate school. The application deadline is in October so I have plenty of time as long as I don't procrastinate. I've got writing samples to complete and observation hours to fulfill and a lot of other various requirements that take both time and attention.

For now I'm going to enjoy my freedom from school and spend time with my friends and family during the holiday season. And knit. A lot.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

WIP: Gentleman's Sock in Railway Stitch

These are one of my last gifts to knit for the holiday season and I'm a little embarrassed to say they've been lingering on the needles since other things are calling to me and I'm trying to wrap up my school quarter. All week long I've been fighting off some kind of sick* and it finally caught up with me yesterday. I had to miss a birthday celebration and will probably miss another outing tomorrow but the upside is that I finally picked these up again. As of this morning I've turned the heel and am almost done with the gusset decreases. Actually, I turned the heel twice since the first time I failed to read any sort of directions based on my actual stitch count. Note to self, cold medicine and improvisation don't make for well-turned heels.

*I sound like Barry White and can hear out of only one ear.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


Now that we're firmly ensconced in the holiday season I've got a few suggestions or tips for people on how to get through the madness that is the HOLIDAYS. People who know me well will know that I don't care for Christmas music, or crowds, or shopping, or waiting in line, or or or. But there are things that I do (or don't do) that help me enjoy the season. I'm pretty sure there are a lot of blog posts like this out there but this is what works for me and might work for you, too. FYI, this is a long post since I've been thinking about this a lot lately.


Set a firm budget. Make a list of the people you need to shop for and rank them by importance. Your immediate family and significant other go at the top followed by other family and close friends. If you have a smartphone make this list on your phone so you always have it with you. As you make purchases you can write your purchase in next to the recipient (reminder of what gift is for what person) and the dollar amount (to subtract from your budget). I opted to knit gifts for my family this year so I started back in September by making a recipient list and then creating a queue in Ravelry with projects I decided on, the stash yarn I wanted to use, and a deadline for each project. I'm happily working on the last two items from my list with plenty of time to spare. One suggestion, if you are planning on knitting gifts that have to be shipped to a different state or country you should get those out of the way first.

Also, recognize the fact that not everyone has the same monetary resources. If you're shopping with a friend be respectful of their budgetary constraints. Comments such as "it's only X amount of dollars" aren't very helpful to someone who is already stressed about money. Map out where you'll shop and if you'll eat out before you go so as to save embarrassment and time. There's nothing worse than sitting down at a restaurant and realizing the only item you can afford is the soup while your friend blithely orders appetizers, drinks, and an entree. If you're budget-minded be open about the amount of money you can spend on your meal say "I can do 10 to 15 dollars for lunch, but no more than that, and preferably less" or something in that vein. In most cases it's better to state this outright than try to dance around the subject, plus it'll help you choose a place to eat.


Take advantage of extended store hours and do your shopping really early or really late, especially on the weekends. Most stores seem to get really crowded between about 10 or 11 am to about 3 or 4 pm during the weekend and that means you'll have more trouble navigating shops, finding parking, and checking out with your purchases. Consolidating your shopping into one or two trips and one or two places will reduce the amount of time you spend fuming over that jerk who took your parking spot.

Shop local when you can do so. I'm lucky enough to live within walking distance of my area's shopping district and I plan on taking advantage of that to support independent businesses and avoid getting into the car and going to the mall. You should try to just stay away from the mall during the holidays since that way lies crazytown. Really.

If you've been searching for a specific item and can't find it now is the time to go to the internet and have that gift shipped directly to the recipient. Done.

Visitors and Family

   I love having people visit during the holidays since I usually have some time off of work and school but I know that not everyone gets along with their family so try to keep your head. If you head out as a large group to do shopping or other group activities and you'll be out during a meal time try to make reservations at a restaurant beforehand. If you can't make reservations try to check in at a restaurant a good amount of time before your normal meal time to put your name down since wait times can be long during the holiday season. Make sure everyone knows where the restaurant is if your group breaks up and what time they are expected to show up. If there are lots of kids in your group try to make sure the child to adult ratio is fairly distributed so no one adult is stuck with all the kids, unless they're okay with that.

Don't overplan activities for your family, your visitors, or yourself! One or two scheduled activities (with tickets purchased beforehand, if necessary) can be a welcome distraction for visitors but I've found that most people from out of town like to have time to rest and relax. It really is okay to sit down with company and just chat like normal people, especially if there is hot cider or wine involved.

Take breaks from your guests and family. If there are other adults around to watch the kids ask them if they can keep an eye on the kids for a few minutes so you can grab 10 minutes of quiet time. Go in your room. Close the door. Read a book for a few minutes or knit a couple rows on something while you clear your head.

Keep your normal schedule for meals and bedtimes as much as you are able. Everyone should get the sleep they need so they're in good spirits and pleasant to be around.


Time and shared experiences are going to make a far stronger and more lasting impression than a generic gift. Every year my family asks for a membership to the zoo - we don't have to store anything except our membership cards and we get to visit over and over again. Have a good friend you haven't seen in a while? Invite her or him out for a pedicure as their Christmas gift. You'll get pampered and have time to catch up. Is everyone in your life traveling away for the holidays? Send knitting friends a pattern via Ravelry with a note saying you'll take them out for coffee and a knitting date once they're back in town, or just set up a group knitting night where everyone can come knit and hang out and catch up. Everyone is busy during the holidays so giving your time to your friends and family is just as important as giving gifts. When you focus your energy on the experience rather than the purchases there is a lot less stress involved in navigating the holiday season.

Do you have a strategy for the holidays? Dealing with finances, family, and visitors? Do tell.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

FO: Yellow Submarine Cowl

 I knit this cowl for my sister for Christmas and it is winging it's way to Ethiopia as I write this. She is a lover of all things Beatles so I thought this would be the perfect lightweight accessory for her to carry with her as she tromps around the countryside with her giant of a boyfriend.
Pattern: Yellow Submarine Cowl by yellowcosmo
Yarn: MC is Tosh Merino Light in Baltic, CC is Hazel Knits Artisan Sock in Stick o' Butter
Needles: US #2 Hiya Hiya Sharp Interchangeables (2.75 mm)
Mods: None. This is the small version of the cowl and it is pretty snug. If I were to knit this again (I might, actually) I would go up a needle size to make it slightly wider or knit the longer size cowl. Tosh Merino Light and HK Artisan Sock aren't quite the same weight so my tension is a little wonky in spots but overall I'm very happy with my color combination so that trumps the tension issue. I know this project is a total win since several people at my knitting group tried to take it home with them!

PS - There's also a hat version of this available if you're not the cowl-knitting type.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

FO: Fireweeds

 There went a couple of weeks! I had midterms and my family is suffering through several rounds of colds which I've thankfully been able to ward off through copious amounts of vitamins and as much sleep as I can get. I did manage to finish my Fireweed socks by the October 31st deadline and I think they turned out great! The socks were the September/October KAL for the Hazelknits Artisans Group on Ravelry and it just so happens that I won the prize - a $50 store credit toward Hazel Knits at the online shop. I used it toward the December yarn club shipment since I couldn't make a color decision.
Pattern: Fireweeds by RoseHiver
Yarn: Hazel Knits Artisan Sock in Posy (pink) and Nickel (gray)
Needles: US #1 (2.25 mm) Hiya Hiya Sharps 
Mods: None. This is my first pair of colorwork socks and they're so warm and toasty that I'll have to knit myself another pair this winter. RoseHiver's patterns are free on Ravelry so I highly recommend checking those out since they range from colorwork socks like Fireweeds to nicely textured single color socks.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Horror with Humor

Happy Halloween! I thought I'd share the best of the best funny horror movies with you today. I've seen these movies so many times I've lost count and find them funny every time I watch them. Evil Dead 2 and Army of Darkness feature the adventures of Ash (played by Bruce Campbell) as he battles the forces of evil, his own hand, a demonic girlfriend, and traveling back in timeSeriously. These are cult classics and have a huge following so even if you don't normally watch horror movies I would recommend these since they definitely fall on the comedy side of the genre. I've left out Evil Dead even though it is worth a watch if only for the angry molesting tree and the fact that it is the quintessential "college kids at a cabin" horror movie. Did I mention that the director is Sam Raimi? Before there was Spiderman there was Ash and his boomstick and the forces of evil. Get all three movies, have a movie marathon, drink some sangria (which makes the whole thing better somehow), and laugh your ass off.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

FO: Fishtail Wristwarmers

Pattern: Fishtail Wristwarmers by Alexandra Brinck
Yarn: Tosh Merino Light in Steam Age
Needles: US#2 Hiya Hiya Sharp Interchangeable
Mods: I knit three repeats of the pattern before beginning the thumb gusset since I was using a partial ball of Tosh and didn't want to run out. It turned out that this project used up the remaining partial with a couple of yards to spare! Since Tosh Merino Light is a single and has a tendency to fuzz I wanted a pattern that had design elements to limit that fuzziness. The ribbing on these is twisted rib and the palm (not shown) is in a twisted broken rib pattern which has the added benefit of looking extra crisp in this soft yarn.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Horror with Humor

Dead Alive is Peter Jackson's campy cult horror classic about a controlling mother, her son Lionel, and the son's romantic interest, Paquita. On a trip to the zoo the mother gets bitten by a Sumatran rat monkey, dies, and comes back to life only to feast on small pets and her neighbors. Paquita and Lionel join forces to fight against the contagion (spread by bite) that spreads through the town. This movie is disgusting - I mean, really, really gross in parts so if you're at all squeamish about body parts falling off or death by lawnmower I would suggest passing it up. However, there are some incredibly awesome fight scenes, a handsome Fair Isle vest, and a priest who "Kicks ass for the Lord", not to mention the generally campy dialogue.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Socktober Update

I totally missed the short window of nice weather and sunlight this afternoon in order to take update pictures on my Socktober projects. Here's a crappy evening photo taken as proof of progress. I finished the first Neely O'Hara sock by the October 16th deadline and completed the second sock yesterday afternoon. I received the second pattern, the Sock Thief, and am deliberating on the yarn choice. Do you remember that I had planned a pair of socks for my sister in law for Christmas? I've decided on a two birds/one stone approach and am going to knit the Sock Thief socks for her instead of the BFF socks by Cookie A, hence the deliberation. The first of my Fireweeds socks is complete as well (3 flippin' days!) and the second is cast on. I have until the 31st to complete the pair and get it posted to the Hazel Knits group on Ravelry. There you have it, one and a half pair complete and one and a half pair to go. I better get knitting.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Horror with Humor

This is a new one, but a great one - The Cabin in the Woods. This film takes the traditional "college kids at a creepy cabin" theme and throws some wrenches into the works. It's got a lot of quotable dialogue and pop culture references and gives a refreshing new perspective on a fairly overworked plot type. Be warned, there is gore and blood and more gore and surprising deaths that may (in my case, will) evoke shocked laughter. If you're a Joss Whedon fan you'll be happy to know that he is one of the writers, and it shows.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Horror with Humor

You may be aware that I have a deep-seated fondness for Horror movies. I watch them all year long and don't mind the gore, the screams, the tension and everything that goes along with the genre. But sometimes I want a little more from my Horror movies...I want comedy. Inspired by Andi over at Untangling Knots who is doing a month of Horrible movies in the Horror genre I thought I'd post some of my favorite horror movies that are intentionally (or unintentionally) funny.


First on my list is Shaun of the Dead. It's a 2004 zombie movie starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as two friends who somehow miss the impending zombie apocalypse and go on a quest to save Shaun's (played by Pegg) girlfriend and his mother. Gore ensues as Shaun and Ed travel through the zombie-infested city and hole up in a pub with their companions. While there is definitely violence and gore I find that the level of comedy does much to alleviate the ick-factor and the whole movie ends on a positive note.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

FO: Rockefeller

 Remember this? It was a Mystery Shawl KAL back in July. Mine has been finished for about a month but I was finally able to grab a daylight picture. I've already worn this shawl several times and I think it's going to be a favorite this Fall and Winter.
Pattern: Rockefeller by Stephen West
Yarn: MC - Black Trillium Fibre Studio Lilt Sock in Hedwig (cream color)
CC 1 - Sincere Sheep Agleam in Neblina (gray)
CC2 - Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock in Chocolate
Needle: US #4 Hiya Hiya Sharp Interchangeable
Mods/Notes: It's pretty obvious that I ran out of yarn knitting the second wing of the shawl. I grabbed the brown out of my stash and continued to knit the stripes. I ran out of the gray and put this shawl aside for a time and then emailed the wonderful Brooke at Sincere Sheep and she dug some gray out of her stock and sent it up my way. At first I was unsure of the stark contrast between the brown and cream but it's totally grown on me along with the two shades of gray. It looks more like a design choice than an accident.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

That October Feeling

I love October. When I lived in California October meant crips mornings, warm days, and cool nights and even in Seattle where there is approximately 2 weeks of Fall weather before everything turns nasty I always get that October feeling. The past couple of weeks have been especially nice weather-wise and I've been feeling the urge to cast on all sorts of woolly things. Last night I caved and cast on for the Neely O'Hara socks by Feministy which is part of her sOcktoberfest KAL. I'm using US #1 needles (the pattern calls for #0) and Sincere Sheep Keen in the Epiphyte color which I picked up at the 2011 Sock Summit. The BFL makes for great stitch definition with the textured pattern of the sock.

The plan (formulated since late last night/early this morning) is to knit four pairs of socks this month. If I finish this first pair by the 16th I'll receive the Sock Thief pattern for free. The Hazel Knits group over on Ravelry is also having a KAL for Fireweeds by RoseHiver. I purchased the kit when Wendee had them on her site last month and just need to wind the yarn and dig out my needles. Finally, my SIL requested a pair of socks for Christmas and since she has tiny feet I thought I'd knit a pair of BFF socks out of some stash yarn. After writing that all down it seems kind of crazy but Socktober fits in nicely with my efforts to downsize my stash and my sock yarn. I'll update with progress...I hope.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

FO: Cupido Cowl

 Last month I went to a yarn garage sale where several women were de-stashing yarn and fabric. I picked up several great yarns (Plucky Knitter Primo Worsted!) including a ziploc bag with several skeins of Rowan Kid Classic. It just so happened that the previous evening I was looking up this particular yarn on Ravelry to knit the Cupido Cowl so I snapped up the bag of yarn for...ahem, two whole dollars, and brought it home.
Pattern: Cupido Cowl by Hiroko Fikatsu
Yarn: Rowan Kid Classic (approx. 1 1/2 balls)
Needles: US #8 Hiya Hiya Sharp Interchangeables
Mods: I cast on 132 stitches since I had extra yarn in my cast on tail (the pattern is a 4 stitch repeat) and knit until I was just about out of yarn. This yarn is one of the nicer mohair blends that I've knit with and it has good stitch definition while still looking fluffy  and soft.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

FO: Zombie Socks

My zombie socks have been finished for about a month but I finally dug out my camera and took pictures. These are the first socks I've knit that are self-striping from an indie dyer and I couldn't be happier with the outcome. My only issue is that the red bled a bit into the lighter "zombie flesh" stripes and turned them slightly pink in places. It's my own fault for not adding a bit of vinegar, or a color keeper, to the wash since I was pretty sure that bleeding would occur in the wash. I still love them and am waiting for it to cool down enough in Seattle to warrant cashmere blend socks, these things are toasty!

Pattern: improvised
Yarn: Out of Step Dyeworks Self-Striping MCN
Needle: Addi turbo US #1 1/2 32" circular

Friday, September 14, 2012


Hi! I'm still alive and knitting. I've got a ton of finished objects to photograph and share; mostly because my Ravelry page keeps staring blankly back at me every time I log on. I've been using Single Skein September to power through some holiday gifts before, you know, it's actually the holidays. Every time I finish a knit and lay it aside I feel better about my next, and last (for a while), quarter of school and the frenzy of Christmas activity that attends finals week and the two weeks following. And you know what? I'm actually enjoying  knitting these things ahead of time since it means that I won't have to squeeze in gift shopping between studying for finals and writing term papers. Photographic proof will be provided shortly, knit on.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


I've been posting a bit this Summer about organization. While I've shared some things with you (my stash) there have been other things that I've done and habits I've established that haven't made it to the blog yet. I thought I'd do a round up of things I've read about, tried, and been inspired by in regards to organization. Without further ado:

UFyH.  The operator of UFyH has a no-nonsense, motivational, supportive, and humorous approach to "unfucking your habitat". You can follow via tumblr, facebook, or twitter and I've found it to be exactly my cup of tea. The idea is that something is better than nothing and even if all you do in a day is make your bed, it's an achievement. She doesn't advocate cleaning marathons but rather 20/10s (clean/rest) that eventually move your home toward a manageable state of cleanliness and organization. By the look of her followers' before and after shots it's working great for a lot of people. She even has an app available for iphone and ipad that provides random challenges, motivation, and a customizable list function (I own it, and it's awesome). Did I mention that she curses?

FlyLady. Similar but different to UFyH. Her method is "baby steps" toward organizing and maintaining a clean home. FlyLady is definitely geared toward the stay at home crowd but she does have modifications for working people/students. While I know her method works for some, I was turned off by the religious undertones and too-structured cleaning schedule. If you prefer more structure and email digests of stuff to do this may be your ticket to clean.

Apartment Therapy. This is a beautiful website full of inspiration for everything to do with your home. Small spaces, organization, green living, DIY, and more. They've got tons of guest articles, videos, and great advertisers that illicit lots of oohing and aahing.

How to Clean Anything. This website does exactly what it says, gives information on how to clean anything. If you've got kids, pets, a propensity for spilling coffee on yourself (me) then you can get information on how to clean just about anything and everything.

Ravelry. For the fiber enthusiast. The best tool I can think of in regards to my obsessive knitting habit. It indexes, categorizes, you know...organizes all of my knitting stuff. I've met a ton of great people and stayed in touch with a whole virtual community with this one tool.

 I am, by nature, an organized person and somewhat neat freak (thanks, mom) and I generally am an efficient manager of my time so I rarely feel too overwhelmed by either my home, work, or school life. However, clutter has a tendency to creep into my home and things get left "to do later" and I suddenly get tired of moving that bag for the ten billionth time and that's when I visit the above websites for inspiration and motivation to get things going again.

Have you tried any of these? Success? Failure?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Last week I felt a little bored with my knitting project so I went in search of something knitting related to do that wasn't knitting. There is a stack of sweaters sitting in my room that have problems. Rather, I have problems with my knitting execution in choosing either size or length or yarn or what have you. Not being in the mood to unpick stitches and reknit sections of sleeves or button bands I pulled a sweater out of the stack and got to frogging. This yummy yarn came from the Hollyhock sweater that I knit at the beginning of last year. All of the issues that I had with this particular sweater came from my own modifications. The yarn, Columbia by Imperial Stock Ranch, is a lovely lovely thing to work with and blooms amazingly when washed and unfortunately it was just a plain old bad choice for this sweater. This yarn definitely tends toward the heavier side of worsted, if not Aran, and when knit up at the close-to-correct gauge for Hollyhock it became armor-like. Due to my choice of yarn I had to modify the stitch count and yoke depth and neither worked out quite right. I prefer a fitted yoke and sleeve with little to no extra fabric at the underarm and this sweater just, well, it was not flattering. I think I wore it once or twice and then shoved it toward the back of my closet as the wearability issues forced me to acknowledge my knitting fail. I'm excited to knit it again in something that works with the yarn rather than against it.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

On & Off

Lately it feels like no matter how much time I put into projects they just aren't getting done. Every knitting, sewing, or home project feels prematurely doomed to failure. I could blame the weather but I think I'm just....bleh. Part of this feeling stems from running out of both yarns on my Westknits Mystery Shawl very close to the end of the project and part of it is my inability to focus brought on by stress. I've managed to get something off and something on the needles in the past few weeks.

Yarn: Brown Paper Packages Silk & Ivory (emerald, margarita, honeydew)
Needles: US #2 & US #3
Mods: I cast on 48 stitches so that the mitts are snug around my palm and arm. I also worked these from the tips to the wrist so I could use all of my yardage (the yarn comes in 28.8 yard hanks) and knit the thumb in one go instead of going back and picking up stitches.
I also cast on a plain stockinette sock in my self-striping Zombie Apocalypse yarn from Out of Step Dyeworks. This one practically knit itself and I've got the second sock cast on and ready to knit tonight.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Zombies + Yarn

 I've been feeling a bit stressed out lately and I'm not quite sure why. Passing the one year anniversary at my temp (yeah, right) job and getting my ducks in a row for my last quarter of school seems to have drained some of my energy. Guess what that means? Yep. Yarn. This isn't just any yarn folks, this is zombie yarn.

I found this etsy shop, Out of Step Dyeworks, via Erin of the Anatomy of Knitting videocast and scooted over there to poke around. Poke around means buying two skeins because I just couldn't help myself. Both skeins are an MCN (merino/cashmere/nylon) blend and enough for a pair of socks. That crazy bright one up top is called Atomic Zombie and it's BLACKLIGHT REACTIVE! I'm excited to knit up some socks and track down someone with a blacklight so I can take creepy zombie sock photos. 

 Below is a skein of self-striping sock yarn with the lovely name of Zombie Apocalypse Stripe, it will make 8 row stripes of red followed by 8 row stripes of red-flecked gray/green.

 Both yarns dovetail nicely with my reading of late which is Mira Grant's Newsflesh trilogy. I finished the first book last night and requested the second from my local library - hopefully I'll get that before school starts again and I'm stuck doing assigned reading. In the meantime I'll be rewatching some Romero films and knitting away on my new yarn.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Not-So-Tiny Slippers

 I know, I know, Summer isn't generally the time for wearing toasty things on your feet or thinking about knitting toasty things for your feet but Seattle is an exception. This morning I awoke to thunderous skies and general downpoury dreariness (not to mention 3o minutes late even with my alarm). The weather made me want to curl up on my sofa with a giant hot cup of coffee and spend my morning knitting away, no such luck. But these slippers? They're my absolute favorite for padding around the house and keeping my feet warm plus they have the added bonus of being really quick to knit.
Pattern: Not-so-tiny slippers by Ysolda Teague from Whimsical Little Knits 3
Yarn: Malabrigo Chunky in Lechuga
Needle: US #10 Addi Turbo
Mods: None!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Bigger Bites - Continuing the Organization Struggle

 The whole shebang. Unsorted. I pulled everything out and I mean everything. My scrap bags, my cedar chest bins, my space bags and random other small bags that I stashed around our apartment.
 The two bins usually live inside my cedar chest so things stay relatively sorted but they are filled to bursting with fingering weight yarn. There are definitely some things that don't belong in there like that skein of Malabrigo Worsted in Whale's Road that I can see peeking over the edge. Eek.
 The sweater stash, sorted this time. To be honest the oldest thing in this photo is that red O-Wool that I frogged from my Minimalist Cardigan (upper right corner). But I do have three dark-brown sweaters' worth of yarn and two are even the same weight yarn. That probably could have been planned better.
Sock yarn staring down DK weight yarn. While the sweater portion of my stash takes up the largest amount of real estate the fingering weight yarn definitely outnumbers it in the skein category. I get really excited about sock yarn even though I don't knit socks very often and I think it's because of the color and the price. You know, a knitting a project all bundled up in one little skein, in pretty colors, with great yardage. I just can't help myself and it shows. 

Before you get started make sure you have adequate time for the volume of stash you own. My stash took about three hours to sort through and put away and I went through it fairly quickly. So this is how I organize my stash:

1. Pull everything out. Everything!!! If you keep telling yourself that the mobile stash in your car doesn't count - it does. I had a huge bag of yarn in my car for over six months and I finally pulled it out, entered it in Ravelry, and integrated it into my stash. Any little hidey-hole of yarn counts, if you pull it out now you won't feel shock when you open that bottom desk drawer and find those impulse skeins of yarn you purchased "as a treat".

2. Decide how you want to sort your yarn. Fiber type. Yarn weight. Color. Autobiographically. It doesn't really matter as long as it makes sense to you since you're the one that will have to dig through your stash to find that skein that you know you have. I prefer sorting by yarn weight/project type. Sweater quantities of yarn live in space bags under my bed and single skeins and fingering weight yarns are sorted by weight and stored in my cedar chest.

3. Cull the herd. While you work through your stash make a pile of the yarn you don't love anymore. It may hurt a little bit since you truly loved that skein of novelty yarn when you bought it years ago but believe me, someone else will love it now. And knit it. And you won't have to store it anymore for that future day when you "might" knit it even though you've grown up as a knitter and don't really dig bright blue fringe yarn anymore. Bag those bad balls up and take them to your knitting group, send them off to charity, or donate them to Goodwill - someone else, somewhere else will want them. If you've loaded your yarn into Ravelry you can even offer it for trade or sale thereby getting new cool yarn (or money!) for something you'll never use.

4. Bag or bin it up. Once you've got your stuff sorted you'll know the size and amount of containers you'll need to store your stash. If you already have bins or bags you can reuse them or if you're just starting out on this venture you may need to purchase storage. I'm lucky enough to have a cedar chest my mom gave me when I was sixteen that I use to store yarn and space bags fit great under my bed once the air has been squished out. I prefer my yarn to be put away from threats of small children, damp weather, and insects. If you're purchasing new stash receptacles make sure that the bins or bags fit in the space they are going to live. Measure your closet, your piece of furniture, under your bed, or wherever you're stashing your stash to make sure that doors close and lids fit. If you're a person that likes everything out where you can see it clear bins are probably ideal since you'll want to see those yarny innards to remind you what you have. Households that don't contain moths, carpet beetles, small children, and/or yarn-eating pets may enjoy having yarn on display. I've dreamed about lovely glass-fronted cabinetry with drawers and bins galore but it's just not going to happen in my house.

5. Extra stash happiness. I try to keep my Ravelry stash updated to show my current at-home stash so I can easily match patterns and yarn. I've also used the stash tool do deter me from spur of the moment purchases since I can check my Rav stash out and see that I already have about 10 skeins of sock yarn in varying shades of blue. An added bonus is that you can put a note on each yarn page listing where in your home (or yarn storage facility) each skein is located. 

Going through my stash regularly allows me to plan projects accordingly. My three dark-brown sweaters of yarn? Yep. Not buying more dark-brown sweater quantities any time soon. If I feel the urge to purchase more sweater yarn I'll try to fill in the color gaps a little better.

Using what I have comes from knowing what I have and when I knit from my stash it makes room for more stash enhancement, what could be better than that? I managed to empty a large space bag and a small space bag in one organizing and condensing go-through. Sure, my bag of partial-skeins got larger but now I don't have those guys wreaking havoc and leaving their yarn trail all over the place. My scrap stashdown project is higher in yardage but the nice and tidy balls of yarn that I put away look much more alluring than the tangled mess that lived in my cedar chest this morning.

How do you organize your stash? Do you have one and if so how much real estate does it take up in your home? If you've recently re-organized, or are in the process of doing so, how do you feel about your stash now?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


 Shortly after I returned from vacation I finished up the last six or so rows of Dancette. Originally I planned to take it as my vacation knitting but my urge to cast on got the better of me and by the time vacation rolled around I didn't want to pack it just to finish it in California and then drag it around with me.

Pattern: Dancette by Irish Girlie Knits
Yarn: Hazel Knits Artisan Sock in Electrolyte (green/yellow) and Limited Edition (blue - very close to Aurora Borealis)
Needle: US #6 Hiya Hiya Sharp Interchangeable
Mods: None! This thing pretty much flowed from the needles and was really great for watching tv and attending my knitting group. I did carry the yarn up one side as the pattern indicates so as not to leave lots of yarn ends dangling. Rather than carry the yarn on the first stitch of the row I knit the first two stitches, trapped the yarn, and then continued as normal which prevented unsightly lengths of opposite colored yarn from popping out along the edge after blocking.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Whatitsf**k Cowl

I seem to be going through a blue and green phase right now. Yellowy-greens and deep or bright blues are really grabbing my attention and saying, "Knit me! Knit me!" As a result of this color phase I grabbed two skeins out of my stash and went to work. I purchased said skeins at The Plucky Knitter during Sock Summit last year, can you believe that they were in her one-off basket?

Pattern: Improvised from my noggin
Yarn: The Plucky Knitter Primo Worsted in Faded Grandeur (yellow-green) and One Hit Wonder (blue)
Needle: US #8 Hiya Hiya Sharp
Notes: No mods this time since it all came out of my head. I provisionally cast on 80 stitches in Faded Grandeur and knit 4 row stripes alternating with the One Hit wonder until I ran out of the blue. I knit one more set of stripes in the yellowy-green color and then grafted the whole shebang together. This cowl is drapey and soft and has a wonderful heft to it since it's basically a knitted tube. No wrong side either! I really loved working with the Primo Worsted - it's a very round yarn with many plies and feels quite bouncy when knitting. I was surprised in a good way when very very little dye came out in the wash since blues have a way of bleeding like crazy when washed.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Bit by Bit

Organizing. There, I said it. I'm kind of obsessed with it. It kind of drives me crazy. I'm anti-clutter and anti-stuff but I live with a kidlet who continually brings home seashells, flowers, sticks, art projects, library books, and any manner of little thing that has to find a home. I also happen to live with a guy who likes to have everything out where he can see it/sometimes find it and whose closet does not contain clothes but boxes and boxes of.... I dunno, your guess is as good as mine. We live in an 800 sq. foot apartment and sometimes I feel like we're hemmed in by stuff.

After my last post about those Hiya Hiya needles I got to thinking about all of my stuff. The stuff in my life. The stuff I like to have and the stuff I like to use and how those things aren't necessarily exclusive but how they all need to have a place to live in our small apartment. So. I'm trying to streamline. Sort. Toss. Donate. Recycle. Tonight I cleaned off my very small desk space and tomorrow I'll tackle the single drawer that holds all of my desk "stuff". I've set a 15-30 minute limit for evenings so I can tackle small projects and feel like I'm making progress.* How about you? How do you go about organizing your stuff? Are you a stacker? A hider? A hoarder?

I'm sure this will spill over into organizing my yarn and knitting supplies so stay tuned for that post!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Review: Hiya Hiya Sharp Interchangeables

At the end of Winter Quarter I decided to purchase myself a gift. Usually these end-of-quarter gifts are skeins of yarn or other little things that are on my knitting lust-after list. This time I went spendy and purchased the Hiya Hiya Sharp Interchangeable Needles. The Fiber Gallery started carrying them around the holidays and I like the pretty packaging but hadn't heard much about the needles themselves. The packaging is slick; a small brocade case (different colors are available) with the Hiya Hiya logo and a loop with ties to keep the flap closed. Flip up the flap and you get a black lining with slots for the needle tips. This set comes with US sizes 2 through 8 which is great for me because I rarely knit with anything larger than Worsted weight yarn these days. There is also a larger set that has US sizes 9 through 15. Just above the needle slots is a zippered pocket that contains the rubber grippers used to tighten the needles to the cables. There is also a little flap with velcro (you can see it on the left side of the second picture) that covers the exposed part of the needle tips and keeps them from sliding out. The back of the case has another zippered pocket with small plastic bags containing the cables. The bags are labeled and have the common 16, 24, 32, and 40 inch length cables. The really great thing about the needle tips and the joins for the cables is that they're labeled with the size/length so if you have either one floating around your house you won't have to dig out a measuring tape or needle sizer to figure out what it is and where it goes in the case. I loooove this feature as I often remove needle tips and set them aside when a pattern calls for changing needle sizes. As for knitting with them....I'm in love with that, too. I've knit with Addi Turbo, Addi Turbo Lace, Knit Picks Nickel Plated, Knit Picks Harmony, and Clover Bamboo needles. Hiya Hiya Sharps are far and above my favorite needles. They're very lightweight with a pointy tip comparable to Addi Turbo Lace and Knit Picks Nickel Plated needles and they also have a coating on them that creates a very very tiny bit of drag. Many knitters like the coating on Addi Turbo Lace needles but I've found that it feels a bit too sticky even when knitting lace and I've heard that the Turbo Lace needles can react badly to some peoples' hands. The Hiya Hiya joins are really smooth and I've not had any problems with the tips and cables coming apart or unscrewing while I'm knitting and these bad boys have been in constant use since I purchased them. My Harmony Interchangeable needles from Knit Picks have unscrewed from their joins even after using the "key" to tighten them and the cables have pulled out of their joins so they're unusable - so unusable that they've been out of rotation and considered my "back up needles" for over a year now. I think that about covers it - I've used these needles for everything from knitting laceweight and lace patterns to plain stockinette in the round and I look forward to using them every time I cast on a new project. One caveat, I purchased my set for $85 which is a bit spendy but far less than the Addi Click Sets and just slightly more than the Knit Picks Nickel Plated Interchangeables. I'd spend the extra money on the Hiya Hiya set simply because I think the quality is much higher than the Knit Picks needles. So yeah, two big thumbs up for Hiya Hiya Sharp Interchangeable Needles. I'm waiting rather impatiently to see if they'll come out with some fixed circular sharps in smaller sock needle sizes since I'll snap them up tout suite.

Questions? Comments? I'm hoping to do more reviews in the future since I've definitely tried a lot of yarns, notions, and techniques. Anything you'd like to see?

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Little Things

Today was my first day back at work after our lovely and relaxing vacation in California visiting family. I have a tendency to overpack my knitting but was able to hold back and pack two projects to cast on. I managed to finish a pair of socks (pictures to come) and started the other project last night after I had unpacked, hit the grocery store, and made dinner. I'm loving the color combination and the slip-stitch pattern and sometimes it's just those little things that make knitting exciting again. I was suffering from knitting ennui due to my crazy school and work schedule and these little mitts are going a long way to remedying that feeling. Some days it really is the little things that make you feel better.

This also happens to be a kit I purchase ages ago from the first Hazel Knits trunk show that the Fiber Gallery hosted and has been sitting around in my stash since I brought it home, pattern and all.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Scrap Stashdown: The Bag of Doom

 I had the urge to start something new the other night but I had no idea what. I opened up my cedar chest and pulled out a large bag of dk to aran weight partial balls of yarn. Rather than sift through the whole thing I grabbed something that felt nice, weighed it on my mail scale to figure out the yardage, and ran an advanced pattern search on Ravelry for things that were in my knitting library and yardage limitations. Boom! Done and done. Two preemie size baby hats. What next? Same deal. Rifle through the bag. Pull something out. Do a search. Cast on. This is amazingly satisfying since my yardage is limited and that means the projects are small. It's a project for the summer - to knit down my stash bags of partials (there's another bag with fingering weight yarn!) to make room for the *ahem* large bag of yarn that has been riding around in my car.

Bottom right project:
Pattern: Tubey by Woolly Wormhead
Yarn: Malabrigo Silky Merino in Plum Blossom
Needles: US #6 Hiya Hiya Sharps
Mods: None.

Bottom left project:
Pattern: Welted Fingerless Gloves by Churchmouse Yarn and Tea
Yarn: MadelineTosh DK in Chambray
Needles: US #6 Hiya Hiya Sharps
Mods: None.

Have you ever done a stashdown like this? Were you successful? Lose interest? Wanna play along?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Out For Summer!

I just got home from taking my last final of Spring Quarter! I'm so excited to do just the normal 9to5/ raise the kid/ see the hubby/ run errands normal life thing that I could burst. So, you ask, do I have plans for the Summer? Lots of knitting. I mean lots. I've got an idea for a pattern collection rolling around in my noggin as well as some other stuff. I'd also like to pull out my sewing machine (yes, I sew) and make some clothes and that hasn't happened since I was pregnant with Little A. There's also a vacation coming up soon, like next week soon. My sister is in California visiting from Ethiopia for her 30th birthday and we're flying down for the occasion. Can't wait for some actually warm weather and the opportunity to see all of my family together all at once. Really! And my sister is a knitter as well so there will be lots of laughing, talking, eating, and knitting most likely all at once. Hooray!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Pattern: Dotty by IrishGirlieKnits
Yarn: Hazel Knits Artisan Sock in Saffron
Needle: US #1 1/2 Addi Turbo 40" circular
Mods: None! I knit these as part of the Hazel Knits Artisans group May/June KAL on Ravelry. The theme for the KAL is patterns from Irish Girlie Knits and I had Dotty in my knitting queue as well as Dancette (which is OTN as you read this). They knit up quickly considering I was quite ill when I cast them on and in the last month of Spring quarter at UW which means I was extra tired and extra stupid. Given the recent reversal of good weather in Seattle I'll definitely be wearing them through the month of June. I really really really can't say enough good things about Hazel Knits - Wendee is amazingly nice and her colors and yarn bases are ridiculously lovely both in the skein and the final object.

Sunday, June 3, 2012


 Drum roll, please! I finished my Pyroclastic socks! Yippee! I can't tell you how much these socks weighed down my knitting. I cast on for these during Sock Summit last year and finished the first sock quickly thereafter. I cast on the second sock, knit a few rows, and that was it. Second sock syndrome. Since then I've pulled them out for an evening here or there while I decided what other projects to get started on but I didn't make any real headway until my knitting retreat in Port Townsend.
Pattern: Pyroclastic by Marlowe Crawford
Yarn: Hazel Knits Artisan Sock in Strawberry Lemonade
Needles: # 1 1/2 addi turbo 40" circular
Mods: No intentional mods. I screwed up the instep shaping/ pattern decreasing section on the first sock but didn't realize it until I finished the second sock. Yeah. I won't be fixing that mistake. This is my first pair of socks with arch shaping and while it's interesting I'm not sure that it makes a huge difference in the fit. I'm also a little concerned about how the bias fabric is going to wear over time. I'll call this one a learning experience with the added benefit that the color and lace pattern is awesome.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Final Countdown

Brief update - had plague, recovered, homework, final papers, final novels, sock knitting, more writing than I can ever ever ever ever accomplish before due dates. Back in a couple of weeks!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Alisha Mitts

Despite the time constraints I'm under (I have midterms next week, argh!) I finally found the time to publish my newest pattern - the Alisha Mitts!

You may remember that I made up this pattern for a co-worker who found a lonely, single fingerless mitt in our clinic waiting room. She wanted a similar mitt in a nicer color than flat beige, buttons and all. I was inspired this Spring to knit the samples up in colors based on Pantone color trends with contrasting buttons - Seattle Springs tend to be heavy on gray gloom and I wanted something that would pop against all the dreariness. Mission accomplished! They're knit in a variety of worsted weight yarns on the same US #7 needles. They're also very quick since I knit all three sample pair over the course of a weekend.

The pattern is free via Ravelry!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Bevy of Baby Sweaters

I don't know what the heck is going on with Seattle's water supply lately but it seems that everyone is having babies. There are three ladies that I work with who are due in May or June and a fourth just announced her Fall due date. I also have a classmate who's sister is having her first child anytime now and she very nicely asked if I would be able to knit a baby sweater if she paid for the supplies. Here goes.
 Sweater #1: Henry's Sweater by Jenna Swanson. US #5 & US #7 needles. Spud & Chloe Sweater in Grass, Ice Cream, Lake, and Splash. I knit the smallest size with less than one skein of the main color and scraps of the other colors. After binding off the neckline I decided it was too small and unpicked it, ripped it back to 40 sts, and did the JSSBO with the yarnovers backward. The pattern neglects to say to do the yarnovers backward and if you do them the normal way it just makes the stitches look funky and loose.
 Sweater #2: Baby Kina by Muriela. US #6 needles. Hill Country Yarns Instant Gratification Sock (I believe they are now defunct) in Lavender. I knit the 6 month size and due to my own dang fault had to rip back the increase rows several times. I still neglected to put in a third buttonhole but I think it's pretty cute. A major plus is that this yarn sat and sat and sat in my stash until I found this project. I still have enough to knit a baby hat and maybe some booties.
Sweater #3: Little Coffee Bean Cardigan by Elizabeth Smith: US #6 & US #8 needles. Spud & Chloe Sweater in Lake and Ice Cream. I'm pretty sure I knit the 6 month size on this one. The bulk of this was knit at my knitting group's annual retreat in Port Townsend. I cast on Saturday afternoon and had only the button bands to finish by the time we hit the ferry on the way back to Seattle Sunday afternoon. I had to use a leftover ball of the navy to finish up the last couple of rows on the button band or else I could have squeezed the sweater out of one skein of each color. 

So there you have it. Babies. Lots and lots of babies. This doesn't include the baby blanket I knit (and already gifted) to one of my co-workers. And I'll stick with bottled beverages or things that have been heated just to be sure - I'm leaving that water alone.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

UW Clockwork

 Why, hello! Just when I thought I would never have time to post again I decided to update some pictures and here we are. I started this project way back in the Fall during my first quarter at UW. I was able to knit during one of my classes and this project lent itself very well to the classroom. It's also gotten the most wear out of my scarfy, cowly, neckwarming wardrobe - so much so that it's getting a little fuzzy halo. C'est la vie with merino singles.

Pattern: Clockwork by Stephen West
Yarn: Tosh merino light in Flashdance* and Steam Age
Needles: US #5 Addi Turbo Lace
Mods: None. Be prepared for garter boredom. I knit about 2/3 of this and set it down for several months until the need to finish something quickly drove me to pick it back up. A few days later it was complete.

*Just a note on this particular color. It has a tendency to run much more pink than my photo implies. My particular skein was very purple with tiny blips of pink/magenta. Pairing this color with Steam Age really brought out the purple and toned down the pink highlights.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What I've Been Up To

I'm on Spring Break for the week. I've been sleeping. Not doing homework. Knitting. Singing karaoke and drinking delicious cocktails. And going to see the Magnetic Fields! N and I went to see them at the Neptune - my first visit to the theater cum venue. I can't say enough good things about this band. I've loved them since first listen and they just keep getting better. Hearing the Book of Love from 69 Love Songs in person brought tears to my eyes and I'm definitely NOT a boo-hooer. Check out their new video here and as an FYI it isn't really kid or work appropriate.

I'll have knitting related content soon but have to wait for my camera battery to recharge. Kinda like me.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


It's the end of the quarter so that means craziness! Beside fighting off the plague that everyone seems to be carrying at work (they're so far gone that me calling them Typhoid Mary doesn't even get a quirked eyebrow) and getting started on term papers I've been knitting a little, visiting with my madre, and throwing Little A her first birthday party. Planning my schedule for next quarter. Running errands. Trying to figure out how three classes, a full time job, and fulfilling a tutoring requirement fit into the amount of available time. Dreaming about graduating at the end of Summer. And growing slowly and inexorably more insane by the moment. Blech.

Can I get a vacation from my life, please?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Other One

Remember how I just wrote about not being into knitting blankets? Well, here's the other blanket I'm working on. A co-worker is having a baby boy and for once I decided that I would knit a blanket. This sucker goes pretty quickly, though. It's the Purl Bee's Chevron Baby Blanket in Blue Sky Alpacas Worsted Cotton. Held double! Hooray! On size 11 needles! Hooray, again! I can knit a full stripe in about two hours and that's the equivalent of almost a full skein of yarn. I've only got three more stripes to go but that darn mitered crosses blanket keeps calling my name. Good thing the baby's not due until June.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Little Red Plane

Little A and I just got back from a viewing of short films at the Northwest Film Forum. This one was the first and I love all the different textures of knitting. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

February already?

My apologies for the very sparse posting in January. I had a lot of things on my plate (as usual) and was getting settled into the Winter quarter of classes. Chaucer and Shakespeare turn out to be quite enjoyable, who knew?

I've never been a process knitter. I knit for the finished item and while I enjoy the process it isn't necessarily the zen experience I hear other knitters talk about. Relaxing, sure. Usually calming, yep. But I've never been a proponent of blanket knitting since that is a whoooole lot of, to me, mind-numbing sameness that removes the pleasure of knitting. But behold! Mitered crosses! I purchased this pattern and some yarn last year and in my annual stash reorganization I pulled it out and cast on. The goal is one square per week and I'm enjoying the knitting mightily. It may have something to do with the craziness that is my life right now but garter stitch and little squares sure feel good.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Hello! So things are crazy around here again which is not really a surprise. I started class last Wednesday and rather than having it be a horrible ordeal (Shakespeare & Chaucer) I'm enjoying it immensely. What? I'm a nerd and I totally embrace that about myself. I should even have a little more time to knit this quarter since my work load isn't so excruciatingly heavy. I did manage to get some knitting done over the holidays, including Turbine. This is attempt number two as the first one, knit in November and frogged right away, was too small. Waaaay too small. N's dad loves the finished hat.

Pattern: Turbine by Woolly Wormhead from Twisted Woolly Toppers
Yarn: Tosh Vintage in Grove
Needles: US #8 Addi Turbo
Mods: Went up a needle size and knit the largest size in order to get a man-head size hat. I also used the Old Norwegian (aka Twisted German) cast on for added stretch around the brim since there's no ribbing to keep it snug, yet stretchy. If you don't know that cast on you can find it here *- I learned it in a class from Evelyn Clark and it's fantastically elastic. It's also a great cast on for lace since it allows for maximum blocking.

*The video is fairly long so you can skip to the 2min 50sec mark to see the cast on itself.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

So there went the holidays. I can' believe 2011 is already over but I'm happy that it is. I had a bad year. Don't get me wrong, good things did happen but the good things definitely did not outweigh the bad things and 2011 just left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

In the knitting goals category I think that I started out well participating in Stash & Burn's sock yarn stash knitdown but about half way through the year I petered out. That's also about the time I went back to work 7 days a week. Yikes. However, I did finish quite a few things and am really happy with my Chadwick and my Acer Cardigan with my Fair Isle Yoke Cardigan coming in close behind. What were your favorite knits of 2011?

In any case, here's one of my final FO's from 2011. It's Turbine by Woolly Wormhead knit in Tosh Vintage in the Grove color. I knit the largest size and used a size 8 needle to get gauge. My father in-law loves it and the color looks great on him.