Knit with Love

A few months ago when I was working on the Through the Loops Mystery Sock, I became quite enamored with the mosaic knitting method.

If you’re not familiar with this method, it’s pretty fun.  You only knit with one color every row, passing stitches from a second color by so that you get this cool connected effect like you see above in the two color section.  I really wanted to revisit this method again and found another pattern to do it with.  Pucker by General Hogbuffer looked super cool and just what I wanted!  It took me a few months to get to them, but was happy to finally cast on a few weeks ago.

All was sort of well for the first few inches.  And then the troubles started.  Firstly, the yarn I was using was beginning to annoy me.  It was splitty and I was having to fix a lot of stitches, which was slowing me down and preventing me from getting a good rhythm.  Then, the colors in the multi colored yarn started changing in such a way that I was having a hard time distinguishing between the two.  I thought I could overlook these things once I got to the heel, though.  Surely, if I just persevered, things would fall into place and it would all be ok.  Somehow, I would become ok with the splittiness and the colors would pass by and look better.  (I can see all you veteran knitters shaking your heads here:)

I think we all know where this was heading.  Oh, I did get to the heel.  In fact, I even knit the heel.

Twice.

The first time, I got all the way through the gusset pickups when I noticed that I had not got the last 6 rows of the color patterning right on the leg.  I would have let it pass if it were not for the fact that those wrong stitches would be front and center of the design and I could not continue and make it look like it was supposed to.

It took me a whole evening to rip it out, pick up all the stitches and knit the color pattern correctly.  Then, last night, I knit the heel again.  Only, when I got to the part where I needed to turn the heel (my favorite part), I discovered that I had knit the wrong number of heel stitches.  Again, I could not let it go because then the pattern would not be nicely continuous.  Sigh.

I ripped it out again and cried uncle.  Honestly, I love the pattern, but I was really hating the yarn.  I could not bear the thought of picking up those stitches and knitting the heel again.  And you know what?  I am always telling people that life is too short to knit with yarn or patterns that we don’t love.  I want to knit with love, not anger or frustration.

I pulled out the yarn that I bought last week at the MD sheep and wool festival that I bought for Helical socks and decided they would also be perfect for this pattern.  So far, I only have a couple of rows, but I am loving the yarn combination so much more already.  We’ll see how it goes.

The lesson here?  Knit what you love.

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Greener

It would be quite impossible to catch you up on everything that has been going on here in the past month.  I’m continually astonished at how fast time goes by and I have so much to tell you that I don’t even know where to begin!  But, we are friends, right?  Have you ever noticed how true friends can go long periods of time without talking and then just pick up where they left off, just catching up on the highlights since they last talked?  That’s kind of what I’m going to do today because we just don’t have time for me to tell you every little detail.  Ok, I’m just going to dive in now.

Firstly, I have been doing a lot of baking.  Some of my very favorite bakes of late include:

Boston Cream Pie from the Canal House Cookbook.

The sponge cake part of this recipe is the real gem here.  My plan is to talk about this more at a later date, but that means I need to make it again, which I will do soon.  Promise.

We also loved this Tuscan Sourdough Cake, which is more like a bread.

It’s an excellent and tasty way to use up some of that sourdough starter that you need to discard every feeding time.

Recently, I also made chocolate babka using this recipe.

I have been loosely following King Arthur Flour’s Bakealong recipes.  If you hadn’t noticed, I am a sort of sucker for a bakelong, knitalong, or sewalong.  I haven’t made every recipe since they started back in September, but I have made a few.  They have all been good.

This babka, though. Yum.  I’ve made several other babka recipes in the years I have been baking, and I think this one is my favorite so far.  Other babkas have been too sweet or too sticky or have huge gaps between the layers after cooling.  This one has none of those problems.  Plus, it was relatively easy.

I’ve also recently joined the Food52 Cookbook Bakealong (see, it’s true that I am a sucker for a bakealong).  This month, we are baking from Breaking Breads by Uri Scheft.

These are marzipan challah loaves using the recipe from his book.  My favorite thing about this book is that the recipes make a lot.  Why go to all that trouble to make just one loaf of bread?  My philosophy has always been to make more now and save time later.  The freezer is your best friend here.  We easily ate half a loaf in one sitting with our growing boys, so these four loaves will not last long.

I also have a new favorite cookbook for dinner (see I don’t always bake!).

Melissa Clark’s Dinner, Changing the Game is full of fairly easy and tasty dinners.  In the first week, I made three recipes and they were all delicious.  I don’t know about you, but making dinner gets to be boring sometimes and this book does a great job of bringing some new ideas to the table.  Highly recommend.

Ok, on to sewing.  During March and April, I was busy making a new quilt for a friend who is expecting.

Each square has fabric picked out by a different person in out little group of friends to be a virtual blanket of hugs and kisses for this little one to come.  It was a fun quilt to make.

I love how quilts can be a tangible gift of love.

I’ve also been working on my collection of 12.5 inch blocks from the Cookbook Quiltalong book.

I was trying to keep up, but got behind when I had to finish the baby quilt.  That’s ok.

My plan is to keep making these and combine them with other quilt along blocks I have done in the past to make one big scrappy quilt.

So far, I have 27 blocks and I think I will only need 36 for a queen sized quilt if you factor in sashing.  I considered not sashing, but I don’t think that will look right.

In my knitting life, I was able to finish a pair of socks a couple of weeks ago.

These are Vincennes by my friend Kim and were really fun to knit!  You can seem more details on my ravelry page.

I’ve also picked up my Triticum sweater again, but am afraid I am on sleeve island with this one.

I have one sleeve left to knit and can’t get up the gumption to even cast on.  It’s probably because I just recently got back from the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, and I have new yarn for new projects I want to start immediately!

My Brambling Shawl from A Year of Techniques is done, though!  I finished this a couple of weeks ago.  It looked a bit like a snake sweater at first:)

But, it blocked out nicely.  It was very long and skinny, though.

It was hard to get it all in the picture!  It was fun practicing intarsia.

This month’s project is an adorable knitted mouse, but I think I am going to skip that one because there are a lot of parts to put together.  It’s a bit too much for me right now.

Also, I am taking part in The Starting Point Mystery Shawl Knitalong by Joji Locatelli.  I had a few days last month when I totally went through every ball and skein of fingering weight and lace weight yarn in my stash.  I eventually settled on using up a bit of my laceweight by holding it double.

Phew!  You are a true friend if you have followed along during this whole post so far!   I think we are mostly caught up now.  I’m hoping to blog a little more often from here on out, but perhaps make the posts quite a bit shorter to make them fit better in my routine.  You can also find me on Instagram as @crafteamama.

One more thing: the boys and I are closing our etsy shop on Tuesday, May 16.  We have a sale going on now.  25% off your entire order with coupon code CLOSING2017.  Tell your friends!  Here’s a link: 1514Homemade.  We are so grateful to everyone who has supported us the last several years.  It was fun while it lasted!

Tell me what you’ve been working on lately!  Thanks for coming by!

Breaking for Spring

This week we’re on spring break and, fortuitously, we are also having some springlike weather, finally!  On Saturday, opening day at our local ice cream place, it was still a bit chilly, but we went anyway because we love their ice cream!

Thankfully, the next day was much warmer and it has been a little warmer each day since.  As per usual, I finished up a very warm and woolly sweater last week just as winter was gasping its last breath.

This is my new favorite sweater!  It’s warm and cozy, but also light and breathable.  I used Brooklyn Tweed’s Shelter yarn in the sweatshirt colorway.  I love this yarn so much that I am already plotting to make more sweaters with it.  Maybe one for the husband next?

He is impressed with how light it is for its size and I agree!  It’s much lighter than most yarns, holds its shape wonderfully, and does not pill at all.  It’s a great yarn.

I also finished up my hyacinthus armwarmers from the A Year of Techniques series of patterns.  These were super fun to knit and I will definitely be using the helical stripe technique again, maybe in socks next time.  In the meantime, the year has moved on to intarsia.

This is not my first time doing intarsia, but I have not always been happy with how my intarsia projects turn out.  My edges always seem a bit wonky.  This one is giving me lots of practice in the technique, so that is good, though I am not sure how well it will translate to other, more complicated patterns.  This project is a gentle introduction to intarsia, but one that is proving just as interesting to knit as the helical mitts.  It’s not a traveling project, though.  With multiple balls of yarn going at the same time on every row, it takes quite a bit of vigilance to not end up with a tangle.

And for those moments when I want a bit more mindless knitting, I’ve started a Find Your Fade shawl.  This pattern caught my eye several months ago as a good one to use up odd bits of leftovers.  It’s a really popular pattern at the moment and I can see why.  It’s one of those compelling knits because it is not complicated, but at the same time, it’s kind of a mystery how your colors will all look together.  So you just keep knitting one more row to see what it looks like or to get to the next section.

I’ve got a whole bunch of leftover fingering weight yarns plus one full skein of a lovely indigo blue that I am using up and it is such an awesome feeling to do that!  Some of my yarn balls are smaller than the pattern writer calls for, but the pattern is easy to adapt to account for that.  There have been a couple of close calls where I almost ran out of one color before I got to the end of a row.  I wonder if it would matter if I changed colors in the middle of a row?

The finished size of this shawl is quite big–over 100 inches!  Soon, it will be hard to take a picture of the whole thing.  I’m just hoping it all comes together and looks good.   So far, I think it is blending fairly well, though I am not sure about those streaks of green.  There was a little more pooling happening there than I would have liked.  It’s just a little bit, so hopefully it won’t stick out like a sore thumb later.

I’ve also been doing a bit of baking, but I think I better save that for next time!

No Spring in Sight

It’s supposed to be almost spring here, but it doesn’t feel like it.  Many of us around here were fooled a couple of weeks ago when local highs reached 60 for several days in a row.  All the snow melted and I actually started thinking about casting on some fingering weight sweater projects.  However, as we all know, weather is fickle, and we’re back to sub-freezing temperatures during the day now and, once again, there is snow blanketing everything.  The bushes are literally flattened by the change in weather.

The end of February meant also the end of the Through the Loops mystery sock knit along I mentioned last time.  To my surprise, I was actually able to keep up and get them finished on time.  This might be the first time I’ve ever done this as I am notorious for being easily bored and distracted, especially with socks.

I tried knitting both socks at the same time with this pair and was rewarded with a completed pair of socks at the end of the knit along.   Maybe this is the cure to Second Sock Syndrome?  It worked for me this time, anyway.

As for the Snowmelt shawl, this one got finished mostly because it was super easy knitting.  There was a little lace, but it was easy to follow and watch telly at the same time.  While knitting, I was a little unsure of how the multicolored yarn was going to look in the finished project, but despite my insecurity, I pressed on.  It turns out that I needn’t have worried.  There’s a little pooling, but it’s broken up pretty well with the pattern.

I cast on this project during our first Nor’easter in New England in early February.  It seemed fitting to block it while a second Nor’easter shook the house this past week.

For a brief moment, when both of these two knit alongs were nearing completion, I wondered what I was going to knit next.  Then, A Year of Techniques was brought to my attention (sorry there’s no link right now, but I will add it later when their server is back on) and I knew exactly what I was going to knit next: Hyacinthus Armwarmers.

If you have never done Helical striping, I urge you to try it.  Here’s a link to a video.  There’s also some info in there on how to get all the patterns that go with the knit along.

It took me about a week to finish the first set of mitts and I immediately cast on another, which says a lot about the compelling nature of the pattern and technique, since I almost never knit the same pattern twice in a row.  Plus, I had enough yarn leftover to make another set, so why not?

The return of the cold weather also drove me back to my old sweater project, Chartreuse.  I almost gave it up for the season when the temps were warm and I was dreaming of greenery all around me.  It did not seem likely that I would be able to finish it before the cold weather was gone for good.  I should have known better than to indulge in those daydreams.  So, I have picked it up again and after about a week’s worth of steady attention, it actually looks like a sweater now.

The chances that I will actually be able to finish this and wear it before the weather turns warm is pretty high now, I think.  As long as I don’t get distracted by something else…

 

Sidetracked

As so often happens when I set goals, I got a little distracted this month.  My original intention was to finish my Chartreuse, but it’s been a few weeks, and it doesn’t look much further along than it did before.

There is a slight difference, though.  I was able to get past the pocket portion, so that is something, I suppose.  Then, it got tossed aside for two completely spontaneous new mystery knit along projects that both started the first week in February.  There is the Through the Loops Mystery Sock knit along.

And the Snowmelt Mystery Shawl knitalong.

Both of these designers are new to me, which is fun and I enjoy a bit of deadline knitting now and then.  That’s not to say that I will knit anything.  Before I signed up, I made sure to check out their other designs to make sure I liked them, generally speaking.  And I did and, so far, I am really enjoying these knitalongs.

I’ve also just recently signed up for A Year of Techniques, which will be starting up in March, so I already have the next mystery lined up when these will be wrapping up.

My original intention was to sort of try to finish one pair of socks, one shawl, and one sweater a month, but I think I’m coming to the realization that that might be a bit much to try every month.  Two out of three might be a better goal.

I did manage to finish a pair of socks in January, but did not mention them here because they were a Valentine’s Day gift for the husband.  I used the Simple Skyp Sock pattern for these which was quite an easy to memorize pattern.

Incidentally, the husband and I had an interesting conversation the other day about process knitting versus product knitting.  I always thought of myself as a product knitter.  Generally speaking, I don’t see the point of making something if I don’t want the end product, but then he pointed out to me that I knit lots of shawls and hardly ever wear them.  That is totally true.  I love to knit shawls.  They can be easy or challenging skillwise, but they are almost always easy on my hands, which is not true for sweaters and socks.  Also, I don’t need to worry if they will fit.  As a result, I do have quite a few shawls which I love, but never wear.  What to do with them?  Anyone else have this dilemma?