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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To the Frog Pond

I feel like I’ve been over sharing my knitting failures recently! First it was my first sweater (not a failure… a learning experience) and now this top. I knit this top last summer.

Hand knit top

Pattern: Stowe Top // Yarn: Ultra Pima Fine by Cascade Yarns

Ignore the happy face; I’m actually not at all happy with how this turned out! Confession – I’ve never worn it out of the house! I had such high hopes for this top. The yarn is a gorgeous color and slightly shiny, the pattern is stunning (I mean look at those sleeves), but I just got off track somewhere and was left with a finished object I wasn’t happy with.

First off, the collar is weird. I changed it a bit from the pattern because I didn’t think I would like the rolled collar the pattern called for. Instead, I opted to fold it down and seam it. It ended up a bit bulky and wasn’t really what I had envisioned. But it wasn’t too late for it, I could just re-knit the collar. No big deal.

Hand knit top, Knitting, details

But then I tried it on and it was too short for my liking. It hits me at a really weird place that I don’t think is super flattering. Unfortunately, this piece is knit from the bottom up with a folded hem. That means lengthening it isn’t as simple as ripping out the bind off edge and knitting some more.

I could have done some serious surgery on the top but I decided to just put it under the futon in the study and ignore it. Recently, I remembered it was there and pulled it out again. I was thinking about surgically repairing it but… no. It was a sign. The yarn is still gorgeous though so I’m going to knit something else out of it.

Ripping out a handknit sweater, knitting

The Cordia top! Oh my goodness, friends, this top is STUNNING! I hope the yarn will work well with the pattern. If not, I’ll just frog it again!

So, I’ve been sharing a lot of my knitting misadventures recently… what about you? What was one of your most memorable projects that just didn’t work out so well for you?

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What I’m Working on Saturday

Welcome to “What I’m Working On Saturday!” It doesn’t quite have the same ring as Works in Progress Wednesday, but what cha going to do? It’s been raining/storming like crazy here so I haven’t been able to go out and take pictures until last night. And even then, it started pouring maybe 30 minutes after I got done. Thanks, Texas!

After my mini breakdown and reevaluation of all my projects, I’ve been more deliberate about what projects I’m working on and finishing. It’s really working for me! I focused and finished the quilted vest I was test knitting for Lanie. I have sneak peak pictures up on my Ravelry project page but it will be featured on the blog soon! I was hoping I would finish it quick enough to wear before it got sweltering hot here and I took a bit too long. Fingers crossed for a cold snap!

Even though I’ve been really good about not casting on new things, I did spontaneously cast on a cactus. I featured it on my Knits for the Home post and its cuteness was calling to me! It was a super quick knit and really surprisingly easy. There weren’t even decreases!   I had to learn how to crochet a small flower, which was probably the hardest part of the whole cactus! He doesn’t have a pot yet and without context you can’t really tell what it is, so I’m holding off on pictures until later.

But this week and next week I am focusing my knitting time on the Umaro blanket for my grandparents, socks for the boyfriend, and a new cast on – a top for me. I’m at the point in the blanket where I can work on it for hours and not see any progress. It’s really disheartening! But I added a progress keeper to mark where I was at the beginning of each week. It’s really motivating because, you know, you can actually see the progress! I’ve added a whole skein to the blanket and hope to add another this week.

But since the blanket looks pretty much exactly the same as it did in the previous WIP Wednesday update, I’m not going to share a picture of it directly, but use it as the background for my other photos!

Knitting project, hand knit socks

First off, I’ve been working on these socks for the boyfriend. I finished the first one and am now working on the second. They somewhat recently got shared on Instagram and on Ello. I’m alternating a variegated green yarn with a grey yarn. I’m doing two rows green, one row grey.  I only had 53 grams of the green so I’m hoping the grey would give me enough yarn to make a pair.  So far so good! I’m pretty much saving these for Game of Thrones knitting because it requires zero attention.

Knitting project, cotton knitted top

Next, I’ve cast on something for myself! When I was cleaning up, I found a top that I had knit last summer but never wore because I wasn’t completely happy with how it fit. So I frogged it! I have a whole post about it coming up but I wanted to share the progress I’m making on the new project. I’m knitting a Cordia top. I’ve pretty much been in love with this top since I saw it on Instagram. Love at first sight is pretty magical, you guys! Lets hope this works out better than the last one.

Usually at this point, I mention the surprise sweater I’m knitting for my sister. Well… it’s been put in timeout for a while. I set in one of the sleeves (pretty successfully!) and tried it on. And it’s not good. The body is really long on me, like past my butt long. My sister is much shorter than me so I could only imagine it on her. So that’s going to have to be tinked back and reknit. LUCKILY I knit it from the top down because I was anticipating these type of fit issues so it shouldn’t be too hard. But that’s not the worst of it! The sleeve is way short – like goes to the middle of my forearm short. Again, my sis is shorter than me so has shorter arms but I don’t think it’s going to work. So more tinking back the ribbing and knitting.

It’s a good thing I love her! But it’s sitting in time out until I get the motivation to work on it again. Sometimes things go really smoothly with my knitting and sometimes I get months like these were there is more unknitting than actual knitting!

 

Interested in what I was working on last month? Here is the previous WIP Wednesday!

 

What are you working on? How’s your knitting month going? Smoothly or filled with trips to the frog pond?

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My First Sweater

Hand Knit Sweater, Knitting, Fashion

This is the first sweater I’ve ever knit! But truth time – I haven’t worn this sweater as much as I envisioned I would when I was knitting it. And oh my goodness I was so proud of it when I finished (way back in 2013 according to Ravelry)!

I really had no idea what I was doing but I picked a pattern I loved, picked up some yarn (Vanna’s Choice if I remember correctly), and started knitting. The sweater was knit in pieces, which isn’t the most beginner friendly. I remember that seaming was a bit of a process. I did some combination of a whipstitch and the mattress stitch for all the seaming which made it a bit messy on the inside but I was so proud of it!

Hand knit sweater, Knitting, Fashion

I wore it maybe twice then put it in my closet, never to be worn again. I think it’s because I didn’t like how fitted it was – it reminded me a bit of those fishnet tank tops. Not exactly the look I was going for. It’s 100% acrylic so I think if I stretch the body a bit and steam block it, I’ll get the positive ease I was looking for.

I’ve learned a lot since then in terms of how I like my sweaters to fit and how to choose the right yarn for the job. I am really not the biggest fan of fitted sweaters on me – store bought or hand made.

Also, sorry for the resting bitch face in some of these pictures! I tried to pick the pictures where I looked the most happy! It was over 80 degrees outside though when I was taking these photos. I had no business wearing a sweater!

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Knits for the Home

I have moved every year for the past 7 years! Four of those years I was in college so moving from dorm to dorm was part of the whole experience. But I kept it up even after I graduated.   Finally though the cycle has ended! The boyfriend and I have just renewed the lease on the house we are renting and I’ve been really inspired to make the place a bit more cozy.

When I was moving every year, I really didn’t have the motivation to do any serious decorating because you know, you have to take it all down in 12 months. Who’s got time for that? Because it’s me, I immediately went to Ravelry to find some inspiration. Here are the things that made me want to knit them immediately!

Knitting patterns for the home

1. Soft Linen Cafe Curtain by Susan Mills // 2. Quick & Easy Cacti by Lucille Randall
3. Bonfire by Tin Can Knits // 4. Rutland Cushion by Martin Storey
5. Rag Doily Rug by Julie Weisenberger

So the curtain may be a bit unexpected – it’s obvious you can knit blankets and pillows but it never crossed my mind to knit a curtain. But it’s really kind of perfect for me! The front door of the house has a window so everyone can see in when they come up to the house. I’ve been meaning to get/make a curtain for it but I haven’t. Knitting one would be perfect to make sure it’s the right size.

What’s the favorite thing you’ve knit for your house?

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Changes around Here

Hand knit Bedford Sweater details

Hey! There’s something different here!

I’ve moved the blog to a self hosted site over the weekend and I wasn’t able to take my old theme with me.  So here’s a new one! If you visited the site any time on Saturday you would’ve seen the destruction that was my blog in transition – so thanks for being patient with that!  It was a bit more challenging than I was expecting.  Each step had a new problem that needed figuring out.  But I think in the long run it’ll be worth it!

Over the next couple of tweaks around here to make things even better.  If you have any suggestions – let me know! I’d really appreciate the feedback.

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Seaming Tips

tips for seaming hand knit sweaters

I’m making a lot of progress on the super secret cardigan I’m knitting for my sister! Knitter details can be found here but there aren’t any pictures. I am determined to keep this cardigan a surprise.

So I’ve knit all the pieces and am working on seaming them together. Seaming is something I still feel really uncomfortable with. I always spend at least 30 minutes researching tutorials online to help. I figured I’d share them here with you! That way, next time I’m seaming, all my favorite resources will be in one place and hopefully this will help you out as well.

Weave in the ends

I like to weave in the ends that I’m not going to be using for seaming in first. That way there are less ends getting in my way.

This guide by Purl Soho is by far the most comprehensive one out there! In case you’re wondering, my go to is the “weaving ends in on wrong side with duplicate stitch.

Order of assembly

I don’t have enough experience seaming sweaters to really have an opinion on this, but some people suggest seaming your sweater together in a specific order to make it easier/get the best results. Easier seaming and better results are definitely something I can get behind.

This blog post by Tanis of the Fiber Space is my favorite on the “proper” seaming order!

Setting in the sleeve

Hands down the most tricky part of seaming a sweater – setting in the sleeve. You want to make sure it’s even or else you’ll get weird puckers but how does one go about making it even?

Luckily Amy Herzog, sweater wizard, is here to help. Her blog post is so incredibly clear and helpful and makes this really overwhelming topic simple!

Mattress stitch and three-needle bind off

Now that you’ve got your sleeve in like a boss, time to seam up those sides and sleeves. There are many seaming options, but my favorites are the mattress stitch and the three-needle bind off. I like the mattress stitch for the side seams and sleeves and the three-needle bind off for the shoulder seam.

Purl Soho comes to the rescue (again!) with a great video and written tutorial of the mattress stitch. And the Twist Collective has a very clear tutorial on the three-needle bind off.

 

And that’s it – all the seaming resources a knitter could need.  Do you knit sweaters in pieces or do you prefer the seamless options?

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