Loose Ends

Loose Ends

the creative impulse gone awry

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


I love Knit.Wear. magazine so much that when we stopped carrying magazines in the store I had to get a digital subscription.  It's one of the few knitting magazines published (on paper) that continue to excite me each issue.  The Spring 2013 issue is SO GOOD that you should download it now if you don't have it.  There are so many things in there that I want to make, but Askew just tackled me and held me down until I cast on.

I pulled out some Sheep 3 from my stash for it, which is a serious commitment.  Sheep 3 is still, even though it has been discontinued for over 4 years, my favorite yarn.  It's just such a joy to knit with, and how in the world am I to resist a two-ply silk/wool blend?  I wish that someone would re-make it, but no luck yet.

oh, this sweater.  I love it so much that I barely take it off.  I actually have had it finished for a year but I kept putting of photographing it because of various issues, like it needed washing, or oh dear it was so pilly, or I hadn't washed my hair that day.  But, hey, I showered and put on mascara and I just hope that you don't look too closely -- I really do need to de-pill it! 

I wish that I thought to take photos of the back because it has this delightful (and easy) little strip of 1x1 ribbing on the back to give shape to the sweater.  You can check out the ravelry pattern page here to see the Knit.Wear. version that shows this nice detail.  Add to that the adorably asymmetrical fronts and I'm in love.  I just adore a sweater pattern that is both thoughtful in terms of details and easy to execute.  Also, it looks wicked cute on me, so yay!

I have my heart set on knitting another 3 or 4 of these.  I just love it that much.  (also it took me 8 days to make it, so, y'know, it's not such a huge knitting commitment -- unlike my boxy, or my engineered seams, sigh.) I just haven't found the perfect yarn yet, but I keep looking because I need to give the green one a break occasionally!

Zoë loves a good photobomb...

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

out of order

Oh, I have a delightful post for you lined up, but Clara won't take the sweater off long enough for me to take pictures of it... perhaps this afternoon, since it's sunny now and the snow (sigh...) has mostly melted.  Since I can't continue in chronological order,  I'll have to skip ahead to something that I made for me.  I did do a bit of that this winter as well.  As delightful as it is to knit for the girls, sometimes I'm just, well, cold, and I need sweaters!  I've also had some sweater losses recently do to wear and tears, so I've had to knit some new things -- or brave the cold!

Meet Boxy #2 (Boxy #1 is a sample at the shop and I can't actually wear it right now since it's on a bust, but there is a funny story about me casting on 100 too many stitches and only finding out when I cast off the back neck... sigh, the more I knit the bigger my mistakes!)

oh, and I cut my hair off a couple of weeks ago, no big deal -- it was time.

I was doing my very best to knit a sweater reminiscent of the shirts in this blog post.  I knew when I saw these that a) I would love wearing something like this and b) they were basically boxy with stripes.   Which I had knit before, and darn it, could knit again.

I had originally gotten the red yarn from String Theory to make a Knitbot pattern but I ended up giving  skein to a friend, leaving me 2... all I really needed was a great contrast color.  Luckily we had just gotten a shipment of Madelinetosh, and this Merino Light in Hickory was just the thing for the look I was going for.

I have to say, that there is a part of this pattern, right about 12" into the body -- it's knit in the round -- where it feels interminable.  The stripes helped nudge me along to finish, which is good because when there are little girl sweaters to knit, it's hard to motivate.  I'm thrilled that I did, as I wear it constantly and it's been cheering me up during this long, long, (did I mention long?) winter.

Friday, April 11, 2014

purple girl

So there was another bonkers bright color of Frolicking Feet (this time the fingering weight version -- no DK) that I had to get for the Zone at our Done Roving Meet the Dyer.  I mean, it's so bright, and so happy, and I had been trying to find just the right yarn for this button that we got just for Zoë - giant plastic pinky-purple gems... 

I used my tiny cardigan again - this time starting with the 12-24 month size and just adding a few more rows of increases to make it a touch bigger.  I'm thrilled with the sweater - the fit is perfect for her.  The buttons have a tendency to get pulled on a lot since they are so huge (and irresistibly sparkly) and they have been reattached many times.... but it is her go to sweater, and she wears it pretty constantly. 

I put this also in the machine for wash & dry - last time I had a towel with it and it got linty, so now I know to be a bit more careful with what I wash it with.

Still we love it.

This time Zoë decided to model for you.  Since I had pushed all the furniture out of this corner of our dining room (great light & neutral walls!) and was modelling all of the things that I've made for myself recently - I guess it looked like fun.  She was sad that she didn't get to use the camera remote...

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


So then, when your daughter's kindergarten teacher says, "If your kid thinks it's cold in our room, they are right!  We can't do anything about it, there is some weird problem with the cooling system, just dress them warmly!"

Seriously, I was powerless.  Add to it our series of Meet the Dyer events at our shop, and my emotional fragility, and well, you have a recipe for insane amounts of knitting.

I have this game I play during the Meet the Dyer events, where I pick what I want and if it's still there at the end of the event then I get to have it.  I normally try to keep it kind of real, you know, and not say, "THE ENTIRE TABLE!!!!" You can probably tell which skeins I had my eye on...

We know that Clara loves green, and, well, this green from Done Roving is just *so* green.  The colorway is called Cloverleaf which really does it justice.  I love the Meet the Dyer events for shopping for my kids, because often hot pink and really saturated greens do not do so well in our shop.  So I can pick and choose just the skeins that I need to make them something they'll love and I don't have to commit to an amount the store just couldn't normally justify.

That last picture was taken the day after the Coggeshall Farm Harvest Fair, and Clara was up next in the sweater queue.  I let her have her pick of patterns, and she oddly picked a sweater I had already knit for her when she was 18 months old... Charley from Berroco #274.  But it is a great pattern, and I was happy to make another.

The yarn is Frolicking Feet DK (but I really think it's a sport weight) I added a few stitches to the back and fronts to make it a bit bigger and help with the swing effect it is supposed to have.  And I had to knit a few extra rows on the sleeves (oh, I wish I had knit a few more on the body as well-- hindsight!)  It turned out well, and quickly became Clara's favorite sweater.

one month later at Coggeshall Farm (again!) snuggling their barn kittens
Seriously, I think she wore it every day for a few months.  I'm thrilled with how colorfast and durable this yarn is.  The super high twist is very soft and also very pill resistant.  Again, with the tossing it in the washer AND dryer, and being all, "Thank you, Ma'am!  May I have another!"  I love you Frolicking Feet DK. 

Again, I'm always surprised at their choice for buttons - Clara isn't always that sparkly, but this button really picks up the green from the sweater.  It's quite charming.  Another un-intended awesomeness from this pattern is the way that the button band stretches out to look like some cool rope cable.  Really the sweater has just stretched from wear, but it looks intentionally cool, and we're going with it.

I wish you all could touch this and feel how great the yarn is.  You'll just have to take my word for it.  The sweater is getting a bit short in the body, but it will still look nice over dresses next fall (I hope... she may grow a foot between now and then, it's hard to know!)

am I done?  nope!  I also picked up some awesome pink & purple Frolicking Feet (fingering, not DK) for Zoë and she's next!

Pros and Cons

The problem with having a parent who owns a small business is that you are often dragged along against your will and have to be patient/quiet/good for large chunks of time while your parent deals with one thing or another.  Such is the case for our kids.  For Clara, the first 18 months of her life she lived 5 days a week at the shop.  She doesn't have a lot of the "first kid" issues because her needs often got usurped by random customers.  How many times did I have to stop nursing to help a customer?  Oh, lots.  How often did she have to hang in her playpen and wait while I got something for someone?  Oh, tons.  Perfect preparation for having a kid sister!

Zoë got spoiled at the beginning, since we were home with her when she was little.  But now, with the web store, I am at the shop 6 days a week packing orders for customers and 3 of those days she's with me (two more at preschool, and one more at home with daddy, just so you know).

One day, not too long after Clara started kindergarten we ended up spending the whole day at the shop.  It was utterly unplanned, I went in to pack an order and noticed that there was A LOT of new yarn that had come in.  I started helping out, and then Naomi came in, and we were working together, and then we ended up ordering pizza from next door, and then, it was time to pick up Clara.  All Zoë had to play with were some empty cardboard boxes and a pen.  She was such a trooper, occupying herself while I tried to help Naomi get a handle on the fall yarns that had arrived.  At one point I see Zoë sitting at our pattern browsing station looking at the "sweaters for girls" binder.  I wondered how she knew that was the one she should be looking at, but then realized it was the purple binder -- her favorite color.

She found the Playful Stripes Cardigan and called me over.  "Mommy, will you make this for me?"  Honestly, who can resist?  I popped it out of the binder and noticed it called for Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino, which we happen to have TONS of.  I brought Zoë over to the right shelf, and told her she needed x number of colors.  She spent quite a lot of time picking out exactly what she wanted, then we went back to the store room to get the right number of skeins.  Of course, she saw our "fewsies" bag of colors we only have a tiny amount of and changed her mind about a couple of the colors, luckily the stripes take remnants, so single skeins (or less) is all you need for the contrast colors.

I knit the thing in 4 days. 

I was, still, not in the best head space and we had to go to the Coggeshall Farm harvest festival (on the girls' top 10 list of things that happen yearly, so attending was non-negotiable.) and I was feeling fragile and on the verge of a migraine.  I walked around with a ball of yarn in my pocket and knit most of the body in one morning watching the girls climb the Jacob's Ladder over and over again.  I even took a picture of the pattern with my phone so I didn't have to drag the pattern around with me:

It is such a sweet knit, and the yarn is insanely durable.  It goes through the wash and the dry over and over and over again and it looks great.  The sizing was/is also perfect for my kids.  The 3 was perfect and still fits -- she wore it yesterday.  In fact, this is how I found it, in the living room, when I was trying to track it down to take close-ups:

(blogging instead of vacuuming is definitely how I roll...)  I know that I must be one of the luckiest knitters on the planet to have 2 (!) adorable girls who love and wear the things that I make them.  I'm sure it helps that I will knit them whatever they want, and they do play a large part in the choosing of yarn and pattern.  But it is so gratifying that they really wear what I knit for them, as you can (and will) see, it has been entirely irresistible to knit for them this year.

It really needs washing, if you look closely there is definitely marker on the front, but it will all come out.  Baby Cashmerino is probably the most forgiving yarn ever.  I have taken to not putting it in the dryer and instead blocking it a little bigger to get the most wear out of it.  I will likely knit her another one this summer in the next size.  It's possible I'll have enough of the stripe-colors to make it identical, or the Zone, being the Zone, may want me to mix it up.  She usually wants to mix it up...

She picked out the buttons, (of course!) and honestly, she has such a fun sense of style:

I really think it all works perfectly!

Yes, there is DEFINITELY marker on the front!

roughly the beginning

I think we've already established that I knit more than is wise.  I mean, whoa.  When I look back at the amount of knitting that I did this past winter it boggles my mind.  I'm still obsessed-- right now I'm knitting something that I likely will get to wear once before putting it away for the hot months, but still.

It all started in the fall when, while grieving Monkey's death I started knitting like a mad-woman (mostly because I was pretty unhinged, and the knitting seemed to help...) Since Clara was headed to school, we knew she needed a school sweater, naturally.

I had gotten this gorgeous yarn at the (now closed) Fresh Purls, Gradient from Shoppel-Wolle.  I loved it so much that we ended up getting it for the shop.  Clara's favorite color is green, and this was just perfect for her, so saturated and delicious.  I was inspired by a sweater that Cambria had knit with a gradient (I think in her case it was a noro sock yarn...) and a white yarn.  Skinny stripes, top down.  So I went about re-creating it child size using my old Tiny Cardigan pattern as a base, with the Gradient and another Shoppel-Wolle yarn, Naturbelassen as the white.

As many folks felt with my tiny cardigan back in the day, I wasn't totally thrilled with the results.  The neck came out somehow, much, much too big.  But Clara still loves and wears it, and I'm slowly starting to understand the draw of knitting things too big for kids, as she's nearly grown out of the sweater I knit for her after this one. 

But she wore it for school picture day (see how huge the neck is?)

Also, how adorable is she? 

I let Clara choose the buttons, and, well:

we have these weird (I think kind of scary looking) animal buttons and she loved them.  It turned out we had 6 buttonholes and 6 different animals, so one of each it was...

I did fuss around with the striping, using two skeins of the gradient so I could have a very smooth transition on the sleeves.  I mean, I normally don't bother, but my girl appreciates these things, and she loves and wears the sweaters I make her.  She is, essentially, a giant advertisement for my shop (whether I want her to be or not) so it behooves me to take extra care in the garments that I make for her.  They may not always be to my taste (ahem, buttons) but they will always be made with care!

As a side note: I'm pretty impressed with how well the yarn has held up after almost a school year of wear.  Both yarns from Schoppel-Wolle are single-ply, though lightly felted.  There are some pills, but far less than I had expected.  I also use my standard treatment of hand-washable yarns for this sweater... soak in a sink of water and Eucalan, squeeze out as much water as possible, toss in the machine for the spin cycle, lay flat to dry.  It may gross you out to know that since August when I finished this I may have washed it 4 (5?) times.  Clara is pretty careful with her clothes, so it isn't often dirty.  Usually when the cuffs start to look a little tan, instead of cream-colored, I wash it.  Or there was that time with the hot chocolate.  She wears one of her hand-knits nearly every day, so this has gotten a LOT of wear.   That it looks so nice in April, I think, is a testament to this yarn's durability.  I know most of you don't think that a hand-wash only yarn is a good idea for a 6 year old, and you know, it's probably not for a lot of 6 year-olds.  But this yarn has really held up!