f.o. : vest no. 5

My mum has often expressed the love of a vest inside, on a freezing day, with a fleece or some other warm item underneath. That added bit of warmth when you are moving around and can’t grab for a blanket.

And so I made her Vest No. 5 by My Favourite Things. This is my first ever vest. And my first ever pattern from My Favourite Things and on perusing some of the other offerings, I think there are more vests in my future.

This was rewarding and pretty easy to knit, despite the seemingly intricate turned bands at the front and pocket tops. I knit this one with Knit Picks Simply Alpaca in the Alfonse color way held with Knit Picks Alpaca Bloom in winter white (which creates that beautiful halo)–both yarns new to me and both workhorse pleasures. The alpaca is so soft. And extra warm.

My project notes are here. Here’s to hoping for more vests in my future.

wips: little stripes for little bodies.

Right after Jackie died last winter, I knit a lot of stripes. They were all for little bodies. It was so meditative and allowed me to find color in darkness. And use up bits and bobs from my stash.

When you’ve been knitting a long time, you realize how much little tiny bits of leftover from all of your projects you accumulate. It’s not possible to keep it organized and stored just for repairs on that one project; and so it piles up and you figure out how to use it over time.

And in having tons of little leftovers in colors that spoke to me, I made a bunch of no plan striped pullovers for my nephews. Each was unique and I didn’t try to stick to any one thing. It was freeing and just what I needed.

You can see each striped sweater finished here, here and here. I’ll always remember those sweaters, even after those kids can’t wear them anymore. They helped me when I needed it most.

f.o.: fflur.

This is the Fflur pullover by Paula Pereira and it was a dream to knit. I used Quince and Co. Owl in papuan for the main and contrasting in barred and steppe. I didn’t make any modifications and even used the same colors as the pattern sample.

This was gifted to my mum for her birthday, all the way back in February.

Of course, my project notes here.

f.o.: the dude sweater.

It’s hard to believe I finished this Knitter’s Dude by Andrea Rangel back in February 2021 and am just sharing it here, now. Because this cardigan, it was a triumph.

I knit this one for Doc as a Valentine’s Day gift and boy did it test my skills because it was my first ever steek. I had to cut into that beautiful work, friends. Yes, cut it right down the middle. For those of you that aren’t deep into this craft like me, you essentially knit about a 2 inch thick set of extra stitches in the front so that you can do your color work in a tube (it makes it easier if you don’t have to purl / do color work on the backside of the garment). Once you’ve completed the sweater, you crochet a reinforcement line down the front of what will be each button band and then you…just cut up the center. Viola. You have a cardigan.

The most important thing to know is you have to use sticky, untreated wool for your steek to hold. And you’ve got to be doubly sure of your crochet chain reinforcements before you cut because once you take scissors to garment, there’s no going back.

The other thing that really challenged me with this one was fit. Because of the techniques used, you can’t really “try it on for size” and doc is a big guy–broad chest and shoulders, tall. So I did a whole bunch of measuring and hoped for the best. Plus, when you block sweaters, the wool expands and often grows, so you have to be careful in understanding your fiber.

This Dude Abides was knit up using a more budget friendly untreated wool–Knit Picks Simply Wool Bulky in wendy for the main color way and winnie and coal for the contrasting color work. If you are looking for a pure wool that doesn’t break the bank and holds up really well, this is a workhorse and I’d knit with it again in a heartbeat.

Of course, my project notes are here at ravelry. Should I make one for myself? What do you think of my first steek attempt? Successful?

f.o.: shíyázhí sweater.

This is the Shíyázhí Sweater by Jennifer Berg, a fabulous Native designer whose has a number of patterns I’ve completed. The Shíyázhí sweater is a beautiful color work pullover for children and this one was made for my youngest nephew, on his 4th birthday this summer.

Mine is knit up using all sorts of yarn from my stash (proud not to have had to purchase any new materials for this one)–Malabrigo Merino in bobby blue for the main and ankara green for the color work… with little pops of some orange yarn I had laying around of unknown origin. This was my interpretation of the color work chart–I wanted to add another tiny pop of color somehow and the orange bits is exactly what I had hoped it would look like. One other modification I made was to the neckline–I added a few rows of contrasting color at the top for added attention. Really, it was just that I absolutely ran out of the main color way with two rows to go and couldn’t fudge it at all, so improvise it was. And I think it came out excellent.

Here’s the link to my project on ravelry. I definitely plan to make one of these for a friend’s future babe, coming next year. You could do endless color combinations!

welcome, joni mitchell dog.

This pandemic has been long, challenging. Our family has lost folks to the virus; and we lost our dear companion of many, many years, Jackie, our beloved canine best friend. For months, we wallowed. Depression kicked in. We played lots of games to ward off the pain of not hearing his clicking claws across our hardwoods. We lost touch with neighbors because we didn’t pass them out on a morning or evening walk with old boy.

And then, at the start of June, we felt ready to open our hearts again. We welcomed Joni Mitchell, an Eastern European Village dog (the equivalent of a rez dog here!) into our home. It’s been 3 months and a lot of coaxing and teaching skittish pup about the world. She’s 10 months now, deeply loving and playful at home, and learning to tolerate strangers, unexplained noises, and we hope, living in the city.

It’s fitting, too. Joni Mitchell’s Blue album, celebrated 50 years this June. We are smitten.

f.o.: socks for doc.

I try to make a few of the Purl Soho Boot Socks for doc each year; he wears them nonstop all winter (and sometimes even into warmer months) and so he’s always in need of new pairs (I don’t darn once they get holes–terrible, I know, but convince me to add this skill to my bucket, please).

These ones I knit for his first quarantine birthday, and we are already fast approaching a second one. I can’t believe nearly a year has gone by living in this pandemic. The bright colors are one of the few things that bring me joy at this time–knit up using Malabrigo Yarn Rios in sunset for the main color and cosmos for the contrasting toes, heels, and top.

in memorium: jackie boy.

In November, the closest, most nonjudgmental companion I’ve ever had in my life, walked on. Jackie boy. Jack boy is a Jack boy. Qui. Claw. My sous.

The kitchen, it’s quiet without you right under foot, happy to ask for a sample and to provide eyes if it needed more salt, a crack more pepper, or was just perfect, as is.

The folds of fabric I now lay out to cut for a new blouse or pair of pants don’t have you angling to lay on their pillowy, cotton softness and position your body just so to let me know you were near–that you’d rather I avert my attention for garment to your favorite belly and chin scritches instead. You once looked deeply into my eyes, as if to say, “who needs clothes? I’ve gotten by just fine without” before you, the loyal, appeasing, gentle soul you were, would stretch your neck so I could tie that matching bandana to my outfit around your neck for a strut to work in the library or a jaunt around the block. We had to put on a show, you and me.

And it was a show, however fleeting, wasn’t it?

Someone once told me it’s deeply unfair this relationship–how our longevity doesn’t mesh with the realities of the deeply short lifespans of our canine friends. It’s still too painful to even put to words that you are gone, my Jack boy–plus, if you could speak, you’d remind me no one was listening in this little corner of the internet you sometimes frequent.

“You’ve got no readers, friend,” you’d say. “But, you’ll always have me.”

f.o.: western rose pullover.

Can I just wax poetic on how genius designer extraordinaire Thea Colman is? This Western Rose pullover was a dream to knit, start to finish. I’d definitely like to knit it again, and also use it’s general shape for other sweaters, as the fit is bomb (minus the way too long sleeves for my short arms that I had to do surgery on and rip back after this sweater was finished).

This was my first time using Spincycle Dream State and it was worth every penny spent. The main color way for this sweater is my ever favorite Harrisville Designs Nightshades in the cinder color, which has glorious flecks of orange on a backdrop of black. It’s subtle and it makes the black take on a purply hue. I love it. The contrast is the Spincycle Dreamstate in Stay Ready and I love the whites, grays, and browns throughout. So beautiful.

Of course, my ravelry notes here.

f.o.: birch pullover.

I had a few starts and stops with the color work on my Birch pullover because I didn’t check for errata online since I had a print version of the pattern in a book. It definitely gives me pause about buying any kind of knitting book in the future. And digital patterns are easier anyway–can have right on my phone or ipad, mobile and can be downloaded no matter where I am and don’t take up clutter in my house.

That being said, I am in love with the fit of this sweater. It is ridiculously comfortable, the sleeves are exactly the length I like them, and there is the exact amount of ease I was hoping for (not tight, but some fitting around the bust to give me a tiny bit of shape). I knit this with Quince and Co. Owl Tweet in sooty for the main and Quince and Co. Owl in snowy for the contrast color.

I can’t wait to wear it and the finished product is so damn wearable that I’d consider another one, in a different color way, for my mom. She’d love it.

As always, project notes at ravelry.

f.o.: birch pullover.

This Birch by Pam Allen was so fast (despite some hiccups with the color work which I will discuss). I’ve been wanting to knit it for years but for some reason never cast on. I had a gift card so I bought the Quince and Co Owl Tweet (soot for the main) and Quince and Co. Owl (snowy for the contrasting) at Gather Here in Cambridge back in August.

The Pain & Simple Knits book has been on my shelf for years–and I knit the Ash Pullover from it this summer (which was such a fun knit but took me FOREVER). Let me tell you what happened with Birch, though. Despite this being a super fast knit (I was nearly done in a matter of a couple days), I had to rip out the bottom two major sections of color work. The first bottom section I knit entirely all the while thinking as I went “huh, mine looks opposite to the finished project” and just plowed onward without stopping to figure out why. AN ERRATA. ONLINE. That I didn’t think to check on since I had the book in hand and I don’t own many knitting books anymore.

The colors in the chart on the original publication were swapped. FHJKSHJFHkJDSHFMNBbfhGUhdbannbjkdghfuifh. Yes, that’s some serious frustration. Once I got the .pdf errata queued up on my phone, ripped the entire thing back, and reworked that chart, I thought I was golden.

Um. Nope. On the second chart, I knit the first two rows of the color work in the opposite color, so there would be no band of white along the bottom of the zig zag, and I didn’t realize my mistake until the entire chart was complete and I was knitting the last two rows in white at the top of the section. fJDHKJHknfbajkhdjkHHbfbn. So, I ripped back again.

At the end of the day, this was a labor of love. You aren’t doing anything right if you don’t have to rip back your knitting from time to time to get it just perfect, or the best fit, or whatever it may be. So, there’s that.

And guess what? This fits like a damn dream. It’s gorgeous. I love everything about it and I’d definitely knit it again. I kind of want to knit a sweater with just the band around the cuff that’s there and the collar, with the rest solid. I think that would be simple and beautiful.

I’m rather displeased that Quince and Co. isn’t treating it’s former creative Leila Raven well right now. So this project, being a Quince project, is hard for me to deeply love on right now. Total bummer.

Eventually, snaps of it on me in all it’s glory. For now, here it is blocking and after I finished the body and yoke. Ravelry notes here, as always.

f.o.: norwegian fir sweater.

My colleague and his wife had a baby this fall. I decided I definitely wanted to make them something. I had some leftover Harrisville Designs Shear from the Morchella Cardigan (which believe it or not I’m going to knit another one with lost of ease) and it was a perfect match for a sweet pattern like this mostly open front cardigan Norwegian Fir. Plus, it was just the right color and amount of wooly softness.

This sweater was so fun to know. I love that the raglan increases at the yoke are created in the lace pattern–smart and beautiful. This was a breeze–I finished it in just a day or two (gosh, baby stuff! so great!) and knit it in the 6-12 months size so they can get good use out of it for this long, long winter ahead.

What are some other great, satisfying, quick knits for babies? My ravelry notes here.