New Pattern: Staycation Socks

Staycation Sock Knitting Pattern

Today is the day! It’s the day that my Staycation Sock pattern is now available to all of you.  I’m really pretty proud of these socks and am so excited that I finally get to share them with you.

They are knit from the top down with a heel flap that has a modified slip stitch ribbed pattern (slip stitch = more strength, which is what you need in a heel flap). The smocked/wrapped stitch looks complicated but it is very straightforward.  It’s exactly what I like in my socks – lots of visual impact but not a whole lot of work!

I want to give a shout out to all of my wonderful, incredibly talented test knitters.  I thought I was handing them a perfectly written pattern but they were so throughout and found things that I hadn’t even considered! Thank you all for being my second (and third and fourth…) set of eyes!

So, down to the important stuff.  The pattern is available for sale on Ravelry for $5.  Thank you all so much for all of the support with this pattern!

Staycation Sock Knitting Pattern

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The Battle of the Swatches

Green knitting swatches for sweater knitting

I’ve finished one sweater project which means I need to cast on another sweater! This time it’s going to be for me. No more selfless, good sisterly knitting for me for a while.

I’ve realized that when I start knitting, I don’t like to stop. Not even to measure my work (this particular trait has lead me to disaster so many times). So before I start knitting, I like to have everything planned out, all the math for the mods I’m doing settled, so when I start knitting, I can just go go go until I’m done. So let me take you on the journey that is me preparing to knit a sweater.

 

Swatch

I’m a moderate fan of swatching. It’s alright. Whatever. But in this case, it definitely saved my butt. The plan was to knit the Hawser sweater by Jared Flood. I had been daydreaming about that sweater in this yarn. It was going to be perfect – until I swatched. And I hated almost everything about the swatch. The yarn/pattern combo I was so excited about did NOT work together. I think the yarn maybe isn’t wooly enough for this sweater. It just wasn’t doing it for me.

So after taking a day to mourn the loss of this daydream sweater, I decided the plan B should be the Threads sweater by Justyna Lorkowska. It was another sweater in my giant Ravelry queue of things to knit. It’s a bit sporty looking but also really versatile and can be worn at work. Perfect! So I swatched again. This time things did not end in disaster! I think the smoothness of the yarn really worked well with the lace detail. I’m quite happy with it.

 

The Math

Like usual, my gauge was a bit off (when will it ever be spot on?!). So that means I’ve got some math to do to make sure I pick the right size or modify things a bit if I need to go between sizes.

I start by looking through the pattern to find how many stitches are around the bust for each size. For the top down sweater pattern I decided on, I found it in the section that talks about separating the arms from the body. In flat knitting patterns, it is usually around the time you start the armhole shaping. Once you’ve got the number of stitches and you know based on your gauge swatch how many stitches you need to make one inch, you divide the two numbers. Divide the number of stitches for the bust by the number of stitches it takes you to knit one inch and you’ll find out how wide around each size will be at the bust.

So for this pattern because my gauge didn’t match the required gauge listed in the pattern, I’m going to be following the numbers for the smallest size but end up with a sweater that is between the small and a medium.   It is going to work out perfect and give me about an inch of positive ease around the bust – which is exactly what I wanted.

Finally, I go through the pattern and highlight the numbers for the size I chose. I highlight everything: how many stitches I need to cast on, extra sections that are written for my size, how many stitches I should have at each point, everything! I find that highlighting makes it really easy to not get lost in the pattern and to remember what size I was knitting as I switch between projects.

Sweater knitting in the round

Start knitting

Now just begin! This is the fun part. You’ve got your size figured out and you’re ready to go!

Then stop

This is the least fun part. You can’t tell me to stop knitting! Once I’ve knit about two or three inches I like to stop, make sure my stitch count is right (although you really should be checking after each increase/decrease section), and make sure that your gauge is still spot on. I find that sometimes when I knit a lot of stitches in a row, I can really get into a rhythm and my gauge will change a bit from the swatch. If it’s different, I’ll evaluate if I need to drop or add a round of increases to make sure the sweater will still fit. Just remember that if you measured your gauge after blocking, it could be very different than your pre-blocking gauge!

And that’s it! I’ve made a lot of headway on this sweater so far and I’m really loving the pattern and the subtle tonal colors of the yarn. It’s so addicting! What’s your sweater knitting process like? What extra steps do you have that I don’t?

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The Belated Christmas Cardigan

Autumal Cardigan, hand knit, knitting

Pattern: Autumnal Cardigan by Hannah Fettig
Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll Heather
Ravelry project page HERE

Friends, we’ve got a cardigan! Finally the surprise cardigan I’ve been talking about for months isn’t a surprise anymore! This took me so much longer than I imagined it would.  According to Ravelry, I started this late January (!!!).  This sweater and I have been through so much, it’s so hard to give this away! It fits me perfectly so maybe it’ll just get “lost” in the mail and stay with me instead.

Ok – on to all the gory knitting details. There are a lot of them for this project. I used the Autumnal Cardigan by Hannah Fettig as the base of this cardigan but I made some changes. The most obvious is the broken rib texture I added to the front and the back. I think it gives the sweater a little something something. Unfortunately I didn’t really take the greatest notes (big surprise there…) so if I ever wanted to re-knit one for myself it’d be out of luck.

Autumal Cardigan, hand knit, knitting

The second thing I modified was knitting this cardigan from the top down instead of bottom up. I’d never done it before (and it was a little tricky and finicky – I don’t know if it’s ever really done). I was worried though that I’d end up knitting the sweater too short and I figured it’d be easier to rip out the bind off edge and pick back up where I left off. And I was right.

After the sleeves were seamed, I tried it on. Disaster. The sleeves were wayyyy too short. Way too short. And to make things worse, the body was WAY too long – like significantly past my butt, way too long. Jenn is several inches shorter than me so it’d probably go to her knees!

So obviously, the cardigan sat in time out for months. A couple of weeks ago though, I decided it was time. Since I knit the sleeves and cardigan from the top down (go me for planning ahead!), it was a breeze to take out the bind off and lengthen the sleeves and shorten the body.

Autumal Cardigan, hand knit, knitting

I think I’m going to do a detailed post on how to take a bottom up cardigan pattern and make it top down. Basically, you just read the pattern from the bottom up. Whatever number you’re meant to bind off, that’s how many you cast on. When it tells you to decrease, you work an increase instead. I found it really helpful to work through the pattern and basically rewrite it so I didn’t have to figure out the math as I was working it. Easy peasy.

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Cordia Tank

Cordia tank, hand knit top, summer

It’s a perfect fit! Both the yarn/pattern combo and physically the way this top fits me. This yarn had a pretty tough life before I found this pattern. It got knit into the Stowe Top – which is a beautiful pattern but didn’t get along well with the yarn. Then the top, completely knitted, spent a year in shame under my couch because I wasn’t happy with the way it fit but couldn’t bring myself to frog it. Until FINALLY I found the perfect pattern, the Cordia Top!

The pattern calls for 5” of negative ease (!!!) which I thought was insane crazy. FIVE INCHES! That seems suffocating. So I went with 1.5” of negative ease around the bust but had about 1” of positive ease around the rest of the body. And it turned out perfectly.

Cordia tank, hand knit top, summer

My row gauge was a bit off as well so I had to modify the cable chart a bit. Luckily it didn’t require any serious thinking. There were a few rows where you just repeat the cable pattern straight so I scrapped those.

Finally this yarn has decided what it wanted to be! I can tell I’m going to wear this top so much the rest of this summer. It kind of makes me want to knit more tanks – maybe in a linen yarn?

I’d love to hear from you – what are your favorite summer tees/tank patterns?

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Call for Test Knitters: Staycation Socks!

Staycation socks, hand knit socks, knitting

UPDATE: You all have blown me away with the response to these socks! The test knit is full now.  The pattern will be released in early September.

Exciting news! My sock pattern, Staycation, is ready to be test knit! It’s knit from the top down, with a gusset and heel flap, in a modified rib texture. The way it’s written, it can be knit using any sock knitting technique you prefer (DPNs, magic loop, two circular needles, it all works!)

I’m looking for six test knitters for these lovely socks. If you’re interested (or just want more details) head over to the Ravelry forum post where I’m doing the test knit.

Staycation socks, hand knit socks, knitting

Don’t have time to test knit but love the sock? Sign up for my newsletter below! I’ll let you know when the pattern is released so you can knit it at your own leisurely pace.

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What I’m Working On

Hey there! I know it’s not Wednesday, but I thought I’d share what I was working on anyways. As I was getting all of my knitting together to take pictures I realized that I’m in the planning stage for a lot of projects but I’m not actively knitting very many.

The one I’m really dedicated to is the cardigan for my sister. It was meant to be a Christmas gift (that I didn’t start until the end of January…) and now it’s almost her birthday. Which means it’s almost August. It’s so close to being done though. I’m working on the shawl collar currently but it is pretty slow going. It’s 8 inches of 300+ stitches in 1×1 rib. It’s a good thing I love her!

Sock Knitting Supplies, Yarn, Knitting Needles

The next project I’m planning and will probably cast on tonight, is a pair of work socks for me. I need a good pair of wool socks to wear in my boots while I’m doing fieldwork. It’s really pretty shameful for a knitter to be wearing crappy store bought socks! The plan is simple – ribbed socks with some stripes in the maroon around the top and another near the toe. These will be simple enough so if they get destroyed, I wont be heartbroken.

Knitting Swatch, Cables

The next two projects are my own designs that I’m really excited about! The swatch in the picture above is an idea I have for a hat. It has mock cables that are made with yarn overs and decreases. I’m thinking of having a long brim that can be folded over to have the hat a bit more fitted or worn straight to have the hat slouchier.

The next design is for a cardigan! If you follow me on Instagram, you would’ve seen this swatch already. It’s been sitting on the back burner for a bit while the idea fully formed in my head. It’s going to be a cardigan with a really generous shawl collar to be extra cozy. The Fair Isle design with a band around the bottom of the body.

Knitting swatch, Fair Isle

So a lot of really exciting stuff going on over here. Maybe not enough actual knitting for my liking but I do love the planning stages of creating my own designs. What have you been up to?

Did you miss last month’s WIP Wednesday? Check it out over here!

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The (not exactly) Quilted Vest

Hand Knit Red Vest, Knitting

So a while ago (before I took this not so intentional break for the past month or so…) I knit this awesome vest. You probably saw pictures of it on Instagram but here it is in all its glory!

It was a test knit for the lovely Lanie of Modern Qulture. I wouldn’t say that I never do test knits because I have done a few in the past – but I typically don’t. I will stalk the free pattern tester boards on Ravelry to see what new and exciting designs are going to come out. I usually don’t sign up for one though because I don’t have enough time to knit on a deadline (or have the right yarn in my stash). But when I saw this vest and remembered about the bulky yarn I had in my stash, I knew it was meant to be.

This pattern was incredibly fun to knit. I learned a few new techniques. I can’t believe I’d never done an i-cord or made a pocket before! I would call the pattern a fun challenge – not difficult but you’ve definitely got to watch yo’self before you wreck yo’self (or in this case, your knitting).

The pattern is now available for purchase on Ravelry. I’d definitely recommend it! Now enjoy these pictures of me wearing the vest, sweating my buns off.

(Note: for those of you that may be concerned, I took these pictures a few months ago when it was hot (a.k.a. 85 degrees) not face-melting sweltering (a.k.a. 100+) like it was today! But also, why did I have to style it with a sweater like a maniac?).

Red Hand Knit Vest, Knitting

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Take Care of Your Hand Knits

How to care for your hand knits

So it’s getting to a point now where having my hand knit sweaters in my closet is laughable. It’s 100+ degrees daily here – there is no way I’m wearing a wool sweater anytime soon! So it’s time to tuck them away safely until it starts getting cooler. Before I stow them away though, I like to clean them really well.

It’s not a revolutionary process that I go through to clean them – soap, water, and lay to dry. But here are some tips to make the process just a little bit easier.

Eucalan

This is my favorite soap to wash hand knits with. It’s so convenient that you don’t have to rise! I’ve had this little bottle forever it feels like and that’s probably because you really don’t need a whole lot with this because a little goes a really long way.

Temperature Matters!

So – wool is sensitive to hot water. If you agitate your 100% non-superwash wool sweaters (or other hand knits) too much while they’re in hot water, you can end up felting them. That being said, I find using hot water gets my hand knits so much cleaner than using lukewarm water. Just use hot water, not extra boiling scalding hot water. My general rule of thumb is, if I can submerge my hands in the water (and you know, not have them melt off), it’s fine! Also, I’ve heard rumors that if you quickly submerge your wool into hot water, you can “shock” it and it’ll felt. I haven’t had this happen to me thankfully. I just slowly add the hand knit item into the water and gently squish the material to get all the air bubbles trapped in the yarn out.

Washing Hand Knits

Fix the Problems

One of my sweaters (*cough* the tan one that I love so much *cough*) is pretty itchy. I definitely have to wear a long sleeved undershirt every time I wear it. It is kind of the worst because there is maybe one day a year in Texas where it is cold enough to wear a wool sweater AND a long sleeved shirt underneath. I did some research and found that adding conditioner or white vinegar to the bath makes the sweater less itchy. I’ve tried conditioner before and it didn’t help much. This time I’m going with the white vinegar. I’ll let you know how it turns out!

Let it Soak

After I get my knits into their bath, I let the whole thing soak for about an hour. Or sometimes I’ll completely forget about it and let it soak for a whole day. This is probably the easiest part of the whole process.

Hand knit lavender packets/sachets

After the sweaters have soaked, been set out to dry, and are folded, I store them in a Rubbermaid container under my bed. This year I decided to knit up some lavender packets to keep my sweaters smelling fresh and to keep away any moths. This packet with the dogs is literally the cutest thing I have ever seen. I improvised these little squares but I’ll be sharing the charts I used and the pattern in a few weeks!

What are your favorite tricks and tips when it comes to taking care of your hand knits?

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New on Ello

A few weeks ago, Instagram announced some changes they were planning on making. Instead of the photos from the people you follow appearing chronologically, they’ll come to you via algorithm that prioritizes the posts you interact with the most. Needless to say, people on Instagram were quite upset.

A lot of the people I follow, especially in the knitting community, mentioned that they were going over to Ello as an alternative (or I guess, in addition to) Instagram. So I decided to check it out and I love it!

There’s so much more freedom in the sizes of pictures you post and what types of content you can add. It’s a bit like Instagram in that sharing photos is pretty important but it’s more like a Tumblr/Instagram/Blogging love child. There isn’t an android app yet (but they do have the iOS version for you iPhone users). And I actually kind of love that I have to access it web based. It’s like I’m engulfed by the pictures they’re so big.

Knitting photography, yarn

So here are a few of my favorite posts from my Ello. Feel free to check out my account and follow me if you want to see me.

Have you checked out Ello? What do you think?

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In Nevada

Globe mallow blooming at the Desert National Wildlife RefugePhoto by J.D. Lane

Quick update not at all related to knitting – I’m in Nevada! It is seriously gorgeous here. Apparently, it’s been a really wet spring so there are tons of wildflowers blooming in the desert. It is unbelievable. And I love that there are mountains every direction you look. Plus, it’s been really cool (well, relatively cool) so doing fieldwork isn’t miserable.

I work for an environmental consulting company that has a sister office out here. I’m here to help with some fieldwork – which means long days (10+ hours!) walking around in the desert. Luckily it’s nice or I would have revolted! I’m trying to make the most of it and focus on the pretty landscape, not the fact that I have to climb a giant mountain to get a better look at a rare plant.

I wish I could take pictures to share with you all! Unfortunately though, I can’t. When you’re doing work for a military contract they get a bit funny about those sorts of things. Even though I’m not technically on their land, just in areas that overlook their land. Luckily, I found a blogger who took INCREDIBLE pictures of a different part of the park. Check out his blog for more photos if you’re interested.

Desert wildflowers in bloom at Desert National Wildlife RefugePhoto by J.D. Lane

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