Dec 30, 2014

An Unfinished Sweater





Last week, just days before Christmas, I decided I was going to knit Owen a sweater to wear for our family Christmas Eve celebrations. It's not like I didn't have a million other things I needed to do, and it's not like I'd ever successfully made him a sweater (I hadn't), but it was my MISSION.

I grabbed some stash Wool Ease, and printed out the Owlet sweater pattern (the same sweater I knit for Lou this fall), figured out the sizing, and promptly cast on.

Owen is a super skinny kid for a three and a half year old, so I knew I'd have to do some adjusting. There's no "just follow the pattern" for this kid! I cast on for the 18-24 month old size, as that's how skinny he is, and then figured out how long I'd have to knit the body before I worked the arms.

When I managed to get the body done that first night, with a bit of time to spare, I got a bit cocky. I should have checked myself, knowing just how far askew last-minute knitting projects can get, but I forged on undeterred, sharing my progress to Instagram as I went. I stayed up late into the night working on the sleeves, intending to get both done but only managing one off the needles before my eyes got too tired  to stay open and I headed to bed.

The next day, however, things started to go off the rails. While in theory, making a small arm and then doing the yoke of a sweater isn't much to worry about, and could have been easy to finish, it was now Christmas Eve. And we were heading out the door around 5pm, which gave me just the daytime hours, when kids were awake, to finish a sleeve and yoke. Undeterred, I pulled out my yarn and thought seriously hard about getting busy.

And then Lou started to feel icky. Not feverish (yet), and not throwing up, but that about to get sick baby clingyness that you know is the first sign of the impending apocalypse. In less than two seconds, I made my decision. I set the sweater pieces aside and snuggled my baby. Through a few last minute errands, tubs for all, a long car ride and then a fun time with family, I snuggled my baby.

I thought maybe I could get the sweater done later that night, ready for Christmas wearing. And then Lou didn't sleep. And the sweater stayed un-knit. All weekend, through sleepless nights and clingy days, I thought "I'll have it ready for tomorrow". And then on Sunday we finally broke down and took Lou to the doctor, knowing already what was going on.

Ear infection. Just like her brother, Lou shows absolutely no signs of ear infection other than not sleeping. No fever, no drippy ears, no struggles with eating, no tugging on the affected ear. Nothing. Just a total lack of sleep.

The sweater pieces have been unwound. With a sick baby and an overly rambunctious pre-schooler running around, the sweater just won't get done. This is why I'm a hat person - no pieces to put together, not as much time commitment, and portable. Also, I have a few hat patterns memorized, so there's no trying to find and figure out a pattern late at night.

An unfinished sweater, and no regrets. It was fun to try, and even more fun to undo the sweater pieces and wind them into balls, ready to be used for hats in 2015!

Dec 29, 2014

Updated Maggie Cowls






These five cowls were gifted by my mother in law to several ladies in the family. Each was made using Lion Brand Wool Ease, based off a pattern from a cowl she bought for someone else. The Wool Ease makes them washable, while still retaining a bit of wooly goodness.

I modified my Maggie Cowl pattern by casting on 184 stitches, and then purling 6 stitches between each mock cable. I like this larger version - big enough to wrap twice around your neck or wear once and let hang a bit long, and tall enough that it can be pulled down over the shoulders a bit and worn as a caplet if you'd like!

The cowls measure 21" across when laid flat, and 14" tall.

Dec 26, 2014

my Holiday Bowl Hadley hat!

pattern: Hadley Hat, my free pattern
yarn: Bernat super value in red and white
needles: size US 10 / 6.0mm circulars and dpns

It's been so fun, knitting along with Elise as we get ready for the Holiday Bowl! I worked on my adult sized Hadley Hat a few rows at a time in between knitting presents, finishing it up just a few days ago - just in time for kids to get sick! I was actually worried I wouldn't get photos of it or be able to share the final hat in time, so I hopped in front of our tree with my iPhone and the TimerCam app, and hoped for the best.

I wrote the Hadley Hat pattern almost four years ago now, and when I wrote it, I think I was a much tighter knitter than I am now. The pattern calls for worsted weight yarn, but size 10 needles with 80 stitches cast on, which seems very large to me now. In fact, while the hat wasn't too wide to fit around my ears, it sure is super slouchy, far slouchier than I remember it being when I first wrote the pattern and knit Hadleys on repeat a few years ago!

While I love a slouchy hat, I'm considering re-writing the pattern a bit. I could just change the needle size, which would solve most of the problem, or I could decrease the number of stitches and rows for each color section, which would keep the extra flouncy nature of the fabric when the yarn is knit on these larger needles.

Or I could leave it as-is, and add a note to check for gauge, and to probably size down the needles.

Pattern issues aside, I am totally smitten with the idea of knitting the same pattern with another blogger and sharing the progress as you go. With a hat, that becomes more of a "here's what I'm going to knit" post followed by a "here's what I made!" post, rather than a huge series of posts, but the idea is so fun I think I want to do it again! And again! And again!

For those who shared projects with the #holidayknitalong tag on Instagram, it's been so much fun seeing your projects, hats and other things. I hope I remember to use the tag again next holiday season, and a bit sooner at that - I love to see even the smallest peeks into what people are making and gifting!

I'll be wearing my hat proudly tomorrow night as Nebraska takes on USC in the Holiday Bowl, and hope it brings my team good luck!

Dec 23, 2014

#holidayknitalong


clockwise, from top left: kirtleymichelle | laurenlikesblog | alliefinch | cadysinks 


clockwise from top left: delightfullyash | julieloveg | aprilfreshknits | mygurumi 


clockwise, from top left: barleysoup | alliefinch | thenauticalwife | rwerwai

Man, have people been sharing some great projects to the #holidayknitalong hashtag on Instagram! With Hannukah rounding out, solstice just happened, and Christmas around the corner, I we'll be taking some time for family in the next few days. But before I take off to celebrate, I wanted to share some inspiration from those that are knitting at least part of their holiday presents! Thanks to those who have already shared photos - and if you're knitting away, there's plenty of time still to share!

Dec 19, 2014

Out And About

There’s so much goodness happening around the Internet, I wanted to have a way to share some of it with you each week. Enjoy!

The ladies of Tin Can Knits are committing to knitting their lists, just like me!

Scrapbooking with not-so-good photos.

In love with this adorable fox hat!

I love Jen's insights on parenting kids who sabotage big days.

Life: Captured is talking life albums, and once again I'm almost convinced to make one.

I've never seen Twin Peaks, but I love this.

Another panelist has finished her Amanda sweater over at Fringe Association!

Selling discontent.

Great round-up of knitting-themed books for kids.

Love this Audrey Hat from Pickles!

Wise and honest words from a mama to her toddler.

Finishing your stocking!

Dec 17, 2014

BRAIDED EDGES


I love a good braided cable, and I've found myself drawn over and again to hats with a braided cable edge! (see my recently finished Cable Hat with Flower as an example) Many times, the rest of the hat is rather plain, but the sideways braid at the edge is always enough to make the hat look fancy and gorgeous.

From left to right, here's a few hats I'm loving right now, with a variety of braided cable edges.

Coronet - Perfect for someone new to braided cables, this hat is simple stockinette after you master the gorgeous cabled braid at the brim.

Saxon Braided Cabled Cap - This more detailed braided edge is large and gorgeous. The detail makes the braid a focal point for the hat!

Teampall Bhreacháin Hat - The all-over braiding on this hat means I wouldn't be able to knit it while reading a book or even watching a movie, but the finished result is worth the focused effort!

Wavy Moss Hats and Headband - I love knitting the moss stitch, and I'm in heaven that this pattern has a few varieties, both of hat types and a headband as well!

Dec 16, 2014

CABLE HAT WITH FLOWER (WITHOUT THE FLOWER)




pattern: Cable Hat With Flower, by Rian Anderson (Etsy purchase)
yarn: Bernat Super Saver in winter white
needles: size US 10 / 6.0mm needles

I originally purchased this pattern to use for shop purposes, as Rian gives permission to sell finished items from her pattern. This hat is the last of those shop hats to be sold, as I am moving away from selling finished hats, and am instead focusing on other things (more about that in the new year).

Because of that, I wanted to share the pattern here, talk about how I've modified it just a little bit, and show the fit - it's such a fun pattern, I know I'll be knitting it over and over again, and wanted to be sure everyone knew where they could get it, as well!

The biggest modification I use is simply to knit the hat with worsted weight yarn. The pattern calls for aran or chunky weight, but I always have to go to the store to buy chunkier yarn, and yet always have thicker worsted weight yarns on hand. The larger needles help keep the cable from getting to tight, and so I just work the hat with worsted weight yarn on the larger needles. This actually works out perfectly, and in the many times I've sold this hat I haven't had to make any other adjustments, which is nice!

You can see in the photos that the hat looks a bit long for Lou - that's because she's modeling the size 1-3 years hat, and she still actually wears a 6-12 months hat. What you don't see is that there's still at least 1.5" of give in the width of the hat as well, so while it fits her fine, if a bit slouchy, the hat will fit someone ages 1-3 just as nicely!

I didn't have the flower added to the hat when I took these photos, because I wanted to show the hat without. I love that you can add a flower and make the hat extra girlie, but without a flower it could be a unisex hat, made in a wide variety of colors. And while the cable is braided, and thus a bit more difficult than a more traditional cable, even a beginner could easily make this hat!

Plus, for those who don't like using circular needles, this hat is knit flat, and then seamed together with the top pulled tight!

Dec 12, 2014

Out And About

There’s so much goodness happening around the Internet, I wanted to have a way to share some of it with you each week. Enjoy!
 
I'm in love with all the hats my friend Kelli is making for Christmas this year!

Crazy photos of some abandoned shopping malls around America.

So proud of my friend Jen - she's got a vest pattern in the new Noro Magazine!

Part 2 and Part 3 from the Ewe Ewe stocking knit-along are here!

Love these photos of life in 700 square feet from Rowdy Kittens.

A great round-up for folks looking to recycle yarn.

Love Bella, a gorgeous new cowl from A Friend To Knit With.

I want to knit myself this Barn Sweater, immediately.

Woolful has a great round-up of some superwash alternatives.

Dec 11, 2014

Holiday Bowl Knit-Along


Every fall, our home and lives are covered in red and white, and not just because I want to start decorating for Christmas as soon as school supply sales are done. We live in Nebraska, and that means chants of GO BIG RED and going to all the home games, and talking football and living football and breathing football for three full months.

This year has been especially hard for Nebraska fans, as we've won most of our games but seemed to lose the big ones, and then fired our head coach before the dust of the season had even settled. We made it out of the season still ranked (#25, but still ranked) and are headed to a bowl game, like we are  most years.

This year, we are going to the Holiday Bowl in December 27, and are facing off against USC. And while other Nebraska fans have a wide variety of thoughts on this, my first thought was, "My friend Elise went to USC! We should do a knit-along!"

I e-mailed Elise, she jumped on board immediately, and so the two us are knitting hats to celebrate our rival schools squaring off in just a few weeks! We chose my Hadley Hat pattern (available for free download!) - simple enough for a novice hat maker, but with stripes galore so we can show off our school pride!

The plan is to knit away on our hats between now and game day, and then wear our hats with all our school pride, as we cheer on our rival schools! I'm hopeful Nebraska will win, but with all that's happened this season, I'm just holding out for a loss that's not so bad I won't have to hide my face in my hat the entire game!

The best part of all this?! We're inviting you all to knit along with us! You can make a Hadley Hat in your favorite team colors, or you can simply knit along on whatever holiday knitting is currently on your needles - I know we're still in the thick of it, and most of us are just now starting to realize just how few days we have left to get those presents knit up and under the tree!

Share your projects on Instagram using the hashtag #holidayknitalong, so we can all see what you've been working on, Hadley Hat or otherwise! Me, I'm headed off to cast on my red and white Hadley Hat, and can't wait to see Elise's take shape as well!

Dec 10, 2014

While Knitting | Volume III


Knitting doesn't happen in a vacuum here in SMH-land. Instead, I'm always reading something (thanks to my Kindle) or watching something (thanks to Netflix). Here's a short list of what I've been reading and watching lately.

READING

Considerations, by Colin Wright. Full disclosure, here. Colin is a dear friend, and so I make it a point to read everything he writes. The fact that he's a phenomenal writer doesn't hurt, for sure! Considerations is a collection of shorter essays, focusing on stretching our views on the world around us. We all have set perceptions, and Considerations asks us to think about those, maybe look at things a different way, and consider whether our beliefs and perceptions need a bit of tweaking, or even a full upgrade. Considerations has good thoughts on a wide variety of subjects, and definitely pushed me in a few areas

30 Days Of Doing by Colin Wright. A companion piece to Considerations, this 30 day e-mail series has been incredibly thought-provoking, and I'm so glad I made the purchase. Colin suggests you do more than simply read each day's e-mail and then file it away, and so on most of the days I took the time (sometimes even just five minutes was enough) and really worked through what was being offered. While I'm not making any huge life changes right away, these e-mails have definitely helped me focus in on a few things, sharpen some ideas, and see a bunch of next steps.

Insurgent (Divergent Series), by Veronica Roth. Okay, I totally get why everyone thought this was the best book of the three. I love how everything happened all at once, from the collapse of everything Tris knew, to the coming of age of all the characters, to the cementing of relationships and belief systems.

Allegiant (Divergent Series), by Veronica Roth. After flying through Insurgent, I assumed I would fly through the final book in the trilogy as well. And I read it fast, but not as fast as I'd thought, mostly due to all the crying. It is a heavy book, filled with the ending of one way of life while making room for a new one. Many people I know thought this was the worst of the three, but I simply think the ending of any book series will leave you filled with emotions - and this one is no exception. I really did cry though the last 50 or so pages, and while I was saddened a few things happened the way they did, the book ended exactly as it needed to, which is the best compliment I can give the last book in a series.

WATCHING

Divergent. I read the book months and months ago, but have lagged on reading the second book in the series. I waited so long, in fact, that I knew I wouldn't remember half the book if I didn't either re-read it, or watch the movie. I chose movie, and I'm glad I did. While I know whole chunks were left out, I loved the movie, how it portrayed the book, and how the characters were developed.

Bones: Season 9. We're caught up with what's on DVD, thanks to Netflix, and what a way to end last season! Don't spoil anything for me, though, because I don't know what happens on the season that's on now!

Football. Nebraska had a great season, but don't say that around anyone actually from Nebraska. We fired our head coach after he got another season of 9 wins (the only other current college coach to go seven seasons in a row with nine wins? Nick Saban.), and have now hired someone everyone's super unhappy about hiring. So it's been a contentious time, for sure. But I'm not as invested as some others are, so I enjoyed the season a ton!

Dec 9, 2014

LAST MINUTE HATS

It's crunch time for knitted gifts, and if you're anything like me you're still hoping to get five or six more presents done. Thankfully, designers near and far have heard your cries for a handmade holiday, and have written fast-working hat patterns sized for the whole family! Because I can't help but want everyone I know and love to have a handmade hat on their heads, these fast hats have saved me time and again!

 left to right: Big Chunky Comfy Hat || Bill's Rustic Beanie || Casie Hat (my pattern) || Cozy Cap

 left to right: Finnegan || First Frost || Holbrook Hat (my pattern) || Jack and Jill Beanie


left to right: Kiyona || Madge || Ski Sweater Slouch Hat || Yokohama

While not every person on your list will want a handmade hat this season, hopefully these twelve suggestions will help fill at least a few of those gift bags!

Dec 8, 2014

STASHDOWN 2015


Well, Thursday I said I'd be talking more about tackling my stash "tomorrow", so let's pretend that this is tomorrow, and not several days later!

The short version is this. My stash has gotten out of control, and for someone struggling to live a simple and pared down life, the amount of yarn I've accumulated almost feels like its mocking me, not so silently, from the bedroom closet. Compared to other knitters my stash is meager at best, but I also know that it is far too much for me. I'm at the point where, when I'm ready to make something new, I head to the store instead of digging through what I've already got, which is how I know I'm overwhelmed.

And while I'm in the throes of holiday making right now, I also know that this handmade gifting season will be done before I know it, and I'll be back on track with making hats to give away. Which means I need a plan. (oh, how I love a good plan!)

Which means STASHDOWN 2015! There's a hashtag on Instagram and everything (#stashdown15) for those who are interested in playing along, and the rules, if you can call them that, are simple. I will be working through my stash, one bag, box and pile at a time, until it is gone. I used to proudly boast I could fit my stash into just one not-so-big bag, and I want to be back there again. Which means knitting through all the bits and bobs, the acrylic and the wool, from the sock weight to the super bulky.

I'm excited though, because this means I'll be seeking out new patterns to knit from, rather than simply turning to the three patterns I normally use on repeat. If I've been avoiding my stash for the last six months (cough.year.cough), it's because I know I don't want to knit those tried and true patterns with the yarn I've got. So it's time to branch back out, get back to trying new patterns, and dropping down the Ravelry wormhole as I do so!

In the next few weeks I'll be organizing it a bit better, to make knitting through it a little less traumatic. As I organize I'll share, and then I'll also share regular enough updates as I am able to start seeing the trees through the forest.

For those who are feeling a bit overwhelmed by their own stashes, I invite you to join in. It will end up being a much slower go than I think it will be right now, but I also know that having friends along for the ride will make it go by in a flash, and seem fun along the way!

Dec 5, 2014

OUT AND ABOUT


There’s so much goodness happening around the Internet, I wanted to have a way to share some of it with you each week. Enjoy!

The Ewe Ewe Stocking knit-along is in full swing!

I love me some organization, and Gala Darling is sharing an introduction to using a Filofax.

Five gorgeous sweaters can now be yours, thanks to Madder's new book Elements.

I love how Kelli is using a half-made sweater to make some gorgeous leg warmers.

Two gorgeous patterns, now available as Fringe Association Kits!

It's annual review time for Chris, and he's inviting us all to join in.

I love these bulky mitts the Yarn Harlot finished up last week!

Dec 4, 2014

COLORFUL CHEVRON!

Once my holiday knitting is done, and I've begun tackling the stash in earnest (more on that tomorrow), I'll be looking for fun ways to use up my leftover bits as well as all those full skeins lingering in my yarn stash. And colorful chevron hats seems like a fun way, doesn't it?! I love chevrons (who doesn't?!, and adding in some color work makes the chevron stitch really stand out.

Above are four fun chevron hats I found while poking around Ravelry recently:
top left: Ida's Kitchen, by Kristen Kapur
top right: Puck, by Dani Sunshine
bottom left: Bregne, by Joyce Tromba
bottom right: The Shea Chevron, by Whitney W.

I'm sure to be casting on one (or more!) of these soon!

Dec 1, 2014

this holiday season







It's a busy season right now, full of making. Making presents, making hot chocolate, making messes, and making memories. I've been knitting up a storm, all day every day, while we play and laugh and live life to the fullest.

Back in January I decided that my word of the year would be simple. And I've failed at it more than I've succeeded. But I find I gravitate towards quiet and small moments much more than I ever did before, especially this time of year.

There's so much to be done still this holiday season, but none of it involves rush, none of it is a MUST DO OR ELSE. The things that need to be done involve craft time, Christmas movies, hot chocolate dates, and stomping through the snow. There are presents to wrap and Advent calendars to keep Owen from opening all at once.

And of course there's knitting. Right now most of that knitting can't be shared, so I'm pretty sure this space will be quiet. Which has been the state of things lately, hasn't it? Quiet. It's felt good to be quiet here, to live this last season (or three) of life with my two little ones.

I keep coming up with big plans for 2015, and then discarding them. I love the quiet and the simple far too much to want to lean back towards rushed and frustrating and busy. I think I'll stick with simple.