Catastrophic Knitting Mitigation – The Lifeline

I am realizing that having a knitting project last a year and a half correlates to a large number of blog posts written about it.  Not just blog posts where the publish button has already been clicked – that total is three, not including this one – but blog posts which have been languishing in the drafts folder.  Now that I’ve finally finished my epic cowl, I can stop being embarrassed of my failure, stop hiding my old posts, and bring new found knitting knowledge to the light of day.  So now, let me tell you about the joys of knitting lifelines.  They sound important, don’t they?  Oh my knitting friends, they are crucial if you want to enter the world of crazy stitch patterns.  Read on…


Post started October 8, 2016

I have a knitting project that has been languishing.  It’s not because I don’t love it, because I do, but somehow other priorities keep popping up.  There was my daughter’s requested blankie, the 100th birthday present, and a new baby layette (for a welcome niece on her way).  All really legitimate reasons to take a knitting break from a complicated project.  However I’ve finally started to make some consistent progress on the Purl Soho cowl.  The days are getting cooler and in no time the weather will call for me to wear this beauty.  (Future me – ugh, I missed an entire winter!)  Thankfully my fingers have memorized the pattern and I can knit while watching my daughter’s soccer practice or television.

This week was full of problems at work.  Anticipated problems.  Surprise problems.  Big and little problems.  I was looking forward to the distraction of spending Friday night watching Grey’s Anatomy and getting a few rows knit.  Just about the time the whole Alex Karev thing blew up (Future me – I’m not really sure what the Alex Karev thing was all about, but it apparently drew my attention away from my stitches)  something felt funny in my knitting.

If you aren’t a knitter this might sound strange – felt funny – but I assure you when your fingers know a pattern you can feel a mistake before you see it.  The “knit in the row below” stitch felt too bulky.  Then the next knit stitch felt weird.  I took a third awkward stitch before my brain screamed “stop”!  Something was wrong and things were about to go wronger.  My desire to escape from my problems was being complicated by a new knitting problem.

Can you see the mistake?  The place where the pattern goes awry starting at the fourth stitch from the last one on the needle?  Here, I’ll show you a close up too.  This is not a good situation.

But do you see those odd blue and yellow strings hanging out the edges of my cowl in the not-close-up picture?  Smarty smart me put in a lifeline a couple of rows before the mistake, so the issue is fixable.  Problem solved!

Lifelines allow a knitter to go back in time to a row where the pattern is correct and start over, even when there is a complicated stitch pattern.  You just take your needles out, rip all the stitches out, and begin again.  When your pattern has a repeat, like this one does, it’s best to put the lifeline at the end of each repeat, unless it’s a big repeat, then feel free to put in lifelines mid-repeat.  Basically you’ll want to weigh the annoyance of putting in a lifeline against the annoyance of ripping out more rows if you make a mistake.

Right before I started the checked rose section of my cowl, I learned about lifelines.  See, the first section of the cowl, the rambler pattern, was knit painstakingly.  I knew that using the knit into the row below technique meant that any mistake would be next to impossible to fix.  It’s hard to make stitches come back when the stitch itself depends on you removing every other stitch from rows to make the fabric.  So I only knit the first section when I could pay close attention to my knitting, but that severely limited my knitting time.  My preferred method is to multitask knit.

Online knitting searches led me to the lifeline idea.  Basically you either:

  1. Thread a piece of scrap yarn – in a contrasting color and with a smooth texture – into the completed last row of your pattern repeat using a darning needle.  Just finish the row and thread your scrap yarn through the stitches.  (I used a circular needle, so just threaded the waste yarn where the cord was.)  Make sure the yarn is substantially longer than the garment you are making, so it doesn’t get pulled through.
  2. Some needles – not mine – actually have little holes in the needle which allow you to thread waste yarn into the hole before you start the last row of the repeat, and as you knit the waste yarn will automatically be pulled through the stitches.  Sounds cool, but not possible with the tools I have.

Post Continued August 10, 2017

I didn’t really understand how this lifeline magic worked, so I made a swatch!  (I swatched more with this project than all my other projects combined to date.)  This helped me figure out how to place a lifeline and how to use it to recover from mistakes.  Here are the steps of creating and using a lifeline.

  1. Begin knitting your pattern.
  2. Remove the cat from your work.
  3. When you’ve completed a repeat of the pattern – 6 rows in this case – take your darning needle and thread scrap yarn through each stitch of the completed row.  Leave the stitches on the needle as you do this.  In the below image you would thread the yarn where the bamboo needle is: through the green stitches.  img_5179
  4. Start knitting again.  The next time the pattern repeat ends, put in another lifeline.  When you are confident there is not a mistake in a section you can pull out the lifeline for reuse.  My rule of thumb was rotating three lifelines.
  5. Now, oops, you made a mistake.  Take the needles out, and rip back to the lifeline.  Rip away!  Don’t be shy.  The waste yarn will keep you from unraveling too far.
  6. Take your knitting needle and follow the waste yarn through the stitches. 
  7. Now just start the pattern again.  I was worried that I’d need to adjust the pattern –  just do a simple knit row or something – since the pattern involves knitting in the stitch below, but somehow magically this technique just takes you back to exactly the same place you were when you finished the row.  It’s like all those hours of knitting after the waste yarn went in never happened.

This technique is great for complicated stitch patterns, lace, and cables.  It’s an invaluable technique that I anticipate making me a braver knitter, because I’ll know how to recover from a mistake.   Let me know if you’ve ever used the lifeline technique and how it’s worked for you.

 

Knitting Friends

This cowl.  I’m not one to let knitting projects languish.  I start them, knit, bind off, weave in ends, then start a new project.  Occasionally I’ll have two projects going because one is big, or otherwise not travel friendly and I do not travel sans knitting.
This cowl was started with a knitting friend.  Together we decided to buy the expensive kit, and marveled over the magic stitches produced by “knitting in the row below” and the resulting fabric variety produced.  After finishing the first solid-color rambler section, I ditched my purchased color 2 and 3 and called on my knitting blogging friends to help me choose a new colorway.  Then, when the two-color checked rose section was complete, I called on blogging friends again for the final color decision for the english rose tweed section, using the world’s longest swatch to guide the discussion.

This cowl, oh!  I loved planning it, swatching it, playing with colors, and learning new techniques.  When I was done I couldn’t wait to wear it.  It was beautiful, soft and warm.  After researching others’ processes I blocked it before doing the final graft.  Then I got stuck…on February 6, 2017.

This cowl, ugh!  As directed, I had started with a provisional cast on – in March 2016 (the knitting took almost a year) – and all I had left to do was to pull out the waste yarn, pick up the live stitches and use kitchener stitch to turn the scarf into a cowl.  Easy peasy.  I’d done it many times before, except I’d never done it with a provisional cast on that went immediately into this crazy honeycomb looking stitch.   Also, I might have created some problems for myself by chosing a brown tweed yarn for my waste yarn.  Knitters, we all know to chose a smooth contrasting yarn for our waste yarns.  What was I thinking?  (Non-knitters, the bumpy multicolored tweed yarn made it both hard to see the waste yarn, and hard to pull out.  Tweed has qualities good for knits, but bad for this technique.)

This cowl…it was so close to being done.  I tried to just yank out the provisional cast on, and it wouldn’t come.   I made four swatches with the provisional cast on in the appropriate yarn weight and color.  Each swatch was examined every which way, but I couldn’t see how to remove the waste yarn and insert my needles.  I tried to figure out where the stitches were, and I couldn’t.  I even posted a comment on the pattern on Purl Soho requesting help.  While Adam seemed lovely, he also seemed to be explaining the basics of a provisional cast on to me, which I understood, but I didn’t understand this particular variation of the provisional cast on – although in hindsight he was leading me in the right direction.

PurlSoho comments

This cowl sat in a bin for five months.  I thought about just sewing it up with an ugly seam on my sewing machine.  After the completion of each subsequent knitting project, I would pull the cowl out and try to puzzle how to get those stitches on a needle and remove that waste yarn.  Each time I gave up, folded it up, and hid it from my eyes.  Then another knitting friend came to the rescue.  Back from a year abroad for a few short weeks we agreed to meet for drinks and knitting.  Of course we brought our current knitting projects, and on a whim I brought my cowl.  After a few sips of cider, I pulled out the offending cowl and asked for help.  “I just can’t see where the stitches are, and yes, I know the tweed was a bad idea.”  She lovingly took my project into her hands, and evaluated the situation with the care only a fellow knitter is capable of.  Finally she said, “It’s lovely.  If it were mine, I’d take a size 1 needle and try to follow the cast on yarn stitch by stitch.”  I turned the idea over in my head.  I hadn’t tried that technique yet.  That was July 10th.

This cowl is done!  I traced the stitch pattern through with a long tiny needle three times before I was confident enough to pull out the waste yarn.  With each stitch I would insert my needle where the waste yarn was, then pull out one stitch.  At the end I had 52 live stitches to graft, and I was supposed to have 51.  Any knitter will tell you that is a success.  I can graft one extra stitch no problem.  After reminding myself of the kitchener knit-purl-purl-knit pattern, I lined up the two sides, made sure the cowl wasn’t twisted and started grafting.  As I went along I fixed stitches that were twisted and puzzled where I’d messed up the undoing of the provisional cast on, but in the end, it would take a pretty serious knitter to see where my graft was off.  (Yes, I can see it.)

This cowl’s first picture, with yarn ends hanging out all over waiting to be blocked, went to the original knitting friend.  She’s not through the second panel yet, but I assured her that when she got done I’d be able to help her graft the sides together.  (My frustration may have influenced her decision to stop knitting.)  The second picture of the final product cowl complete with ends woven in went to the knitting friend who saved me.  She’s across the world again, but at roughly 11:00 p.m. for me and a.m. for her I sent her a picture and a text.  “It’s done.  You are a genius.”  She is, and I’m so grateful for my knitting friends who push me to take on challenges, help me resolve design issues, and give me ideas when I get stuck.

This cowl cannot wait for the temperature to turn cold.  It’s been waiting years to make an appearance.


Knitting Details:

Pattern: Purl Soho Stitch Block Cowl

Yarn:

Color 1: Purl Soho’s Worsted 9832 Twist in Sea Salt

Color 2: Madelinetosh Tosh Merino in Shire

Color 3: Purl Soho’s Worsted Twist in Moody Green

Ravelry link: http://www.ravelry.com/projects/afthead/stitch-block-cowl

Thrum Thrum Thrummm

Read the title to the beginning tune of The Little Drummer Boy, just so your afthead is in the same mental space as mine.

Welcome readers.  It’s been hot here.  How about where you are?  Hot too?  (Maybe not if you are one of my southern hemisphere friends.)  Well, nothing makes me feel more comfy in the summer heat than some thrummed slippers.

Total lie.  Thrummed slippers are miserably hot summer footwear, unless you are the nine-year-old member of the Afthead family, in which case you have joyfully spent June and July wearing fuzzy crocs and your mom’s thrummed slippers in 90 degree heat.  Not wanting my slippers to get all gross with kid sweat I cast on so she could have her own pair.

My slippers are boring adult brown and yellow, using up yarn I had no plans for and the cheapest non-itchy piece of wool roving I could find at the knitting store, but I had big plans for my daughter’s slippers.  Rainbow plans….

When my favorite local yarn shop, The Recycled Lamb, went out of business, I bought this amazing tube of roving: Three Feet of Sheep in “Rainbow Twilight” by frabjous fibers, because I had a feeling that more thrummed objects were in my future.  The assortment of colors combined with a red Debbie Bliss Paloma from the stash – chosen because it’s “not itchy” – made an exceptionally colorful slipper.

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For you knitters who haven’t thrummed, be warned that it is putzy and not a travel friendly knitting project.  That said, it’s novel and creates a colorful fuzzy finished product that I love.

Luckily I had a 9 hour conference call and laryngitis, so needed an activity to stave off sleepiness while listening but not talking on my work call.  Thrum making was the perfect activity!  Patiently I separated the balls of roving, tore hunks off, unraveled the hunks into lengths which I folded and twisted into thrums.  The cats had to be locked out of the room during this task, because kitties love thrums.

The thrums did not take the whole 9 hours to make, so I started knitting on the call too.  (Really, if you knit and frequently have boring conference calls, may I suggest that you combine the two activities.  I’m much more engaged on my calls when I’m knitting.  Odd, but true.)  I knit both slipper soles first, because I wasn’t sure I had enough yarn to complete the slippers and liked the idea of contrasting pink tops more than I liked the idea of mismatched pink and red slippers.

In the end, I had enough yarn for both slippers because I shortened the top to only four rows of thrums, which seemed better for the smaller scale of my daughter’s feet and legs.  Also, like with my slippers, I modified the pattern to use an i-cord bind off, because I like how the extra weight of the fabric keeps the thrums from escaping over the top.

As soon as the last slipper was cast off, my daughter’s ran outside in them. Screaming after her, “Not outside with the hand knits,” I noticed the lovely contrast between the new slippers and the concrete.  Therefore, I demanded the ungrateful child take them off so I could photograph them before the slippers came back inside to live.

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So we are all set for sweaty summer rainbow feet at the Afthead household.  For you knitting knerds, I’ve got all the details below.  Thrum, thrum, thrummmm……


Thrummed slipper knitting details:

Pattern: Cadeautje by by Ysolda Teague

Yarn: Debbie Bliss Paloma in Red 42015

Roving: Three Feet of Sheep in “Rainbow Twilight” by frabjous fibers

Ravelry Link for mamma slippers:  http://www.ravelry.com/projects/afthead/cadeautje

Ravelry Link for kiddo slippers:  http://www.ravelry.com/projects/afthead/cadeautje-2

If you are a knitter and never thrummed before, I recommend the Yarn Harlot’s blog post about the topic.  As always, Stephanie Pearl-McPhee is a knitting genius.

Tiny Knit Pirates 

Hi Bloggy friends!  I have missed you, but enjoyed my time away basking in the sun and catching beads in New Orleans.  Our Mardi Gras trip started and ended in Houston, saving us thousands of dollars in flights and allowing us to visit friends and their new baby in Houston.  But what was a person to do with 10 hours of driving?

Knit tiny pirates!

Grandma Afthead has been hinting for a bit that her and Afthead Junior’s “pirate game” would be greatly enhanced by some tiny Mochimochi Land pirates, and I am not one to ignore knitting requests.  Thus, I broke out my newly created tiny-knit-kit during the drive back to Houston from New Orleans and started knitting.  What’s a tiny-knit-kit?  I’m glad you asked!

Before the trip I wound many colors of tiny knit yarn onto embroidery floss spools – I use Knit Picks Palette yarn because it is cheap and comes in a bazillion colors.  Then I raided the few Mochimochi Land kits I’ve purchased for tiny bags of fiberfill.  Finally, I found my favorite needles for making tiny creatures, size 1 Lantern Moon Sox Stix, and threw everything into a small plastic pencil box.  Voila!  Tiny-Knit-Kit: perfect for tiny travel knitting!  My patterns were slipped into sheet protectors and clipped into a plastic two-pocket folder.  The whole thing fit nicely on my lap as we drove/flew along.

See!  It even worked on the airplane after I finished the pirates and started on a tiny knit chicken, because that’s what pirates wear on their shoulders, right?  No?  Oh….  Guess I know what my NEXT tiny project will be.

Let me introduce you to my newest tiny knit friends!  We have Orleans Tinypants and his golden jelly bean.  Orleans is knit from the base Mochimochi land pattern with no modifications.

Then we have Captain Penn Tinypants, who may also moonlight as a gangsta rapper when he’s on shore.  Captain Penn is a modification of the Mochimochi Land Tiny Pirate pattern, and details are on his Ravelry page.  Basically he’s a row taller than the base pattern, has a wicked gold belt buckle and chain, has a debonair white shirt open to the waist, and his glowing blue eyes make the tiny ladies swoon and strike fear into his crew.  He’s also meticulous about his sunscreen use, which is why he’s such an oddly pale pirate.  Way to be skin cancer conscious Captain Penn!

The pirates were thrilled when we got home and they discovered the piles of dubloons and beads from Mardi Gras.  The two of them have relocated with their booty to Grandma’s house and are having a great time.  Grandma has mentioned that she thinks she’s heard the quiet sounds of pirate rap on still nights, but she might be imagining things.


Ravelry Links for Tiny Pirates:

Orleans Tinypants – Base Pattern

Captain Penn Tinypants – Modified Pattern

As always, thanks to Anna Hrachovec and her amazing Mochimochi Land patterns!

Carnaval Fingerless Mitts

You detail oriented readers might have perused yesterday’s post and left wondering, “Johanna, if you knit those tiny pirates on the way BACK from New Orleans what did you do on the way to Mardi Gras?”  (No one wondered about that, did they?)  Well readers, I have an answer for you.  The first leg was spent completing fingerless mitts for Afthead Junior in the perfectly named “Carnaval” colorway.

Afthead Junior has always been a lover of fingerless hand garments.  Her allowance has been spent on an array of neither practical or comfortable colored Party City fishnet glovelike creations ranging from wristlets to full arm length wonders.

Thus when one of my knitting friends knit her daughter fingerless gloves my daughter begged for a matching pair of her own.

I finished the knitting as we battled traffic heading into New Orleans.  I wanted to her to have them in case it was cold at a night parade.  They would be perfect for catching – fingers free – and the bold colors would attract the attention of the krewe on the floats.  However, the weather in New Orleans was beautiful, so I was able to weave in loose ends before my daughter wore them for our not-cold-at-all five hour drive to Houston.  Aren’t they adorable with her Mardi Gras hat?  Thankfully we still have plenty of winterish weather to come at home, so they will get used.

For the knitters, here are some details about the project.

Pattern:  Little Girl Wristlets by Janice MacDaniels

Yarn:  Manos del Uruguay Allegria, colorway Carnaval.

Needles: Random bamboo size 3

This is a great pattern, and a wonderful yarn.  Afthead Junior is really sensitive to itchy yarns, and she loves these mitts.  Super bonus for parents, the end product is machine washable.  The colorway is beautiful, bright and eye catching.  I recommend these for anyone looking for a quick functional knit for kids.  Plus, I’ve got enough yarn left that I’m casting on a pair of socks for myself out of the same skein.

Let’s end with a totally unrelated picture of Adventure the cat snuggling on a draft of my short story next to the Carnaval yarn, shall we?  This was taken moments after I pulled a good 8 inches of ingested yarn out of the tiny kitty’s gullet.  Yuck.  At a year and a half I hoped she would be farther along the “respect the yarn” continuum.  (Note, I cut off and threw away the kitty chewed yarn.  It’s not included in the final product.)

The Recliner

Today would have been my Grandpa’s 103rd birthday.  A few years ago my mom uttered this infamous – in our family – statement, “It makes me feel better knowing that if grandpa was alive he’d be dead by now.”  She’s right.  If my grandparents weren’t dead already they’d probably be dead by now, but the week bracketed by their birthdays is still one that pulls at my heartstrings.

Adding to the angst this year is that we finally got rid of their recliner.  When my grandma died, I inherited this gem.  I was poor, just out of college, and furnishing my first apartments and home.  Somewhere in there Grandpa’s recliner became mine.  I didn’t care what it looked like because I just wanted a comfy place to sit.

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Now the recliner has lived with me 16 years, which is longer than it ever lived with my grandparents. The chair has seen me and my boyfriend turned husband through innumerable head colds and bouts of bronchitis: nothing is better than a recliner when you are stuffed up and coughing.  My daughter has spit up, peed, pooped spilled, and snotted on this chair.  Throughout her infancy breast-milk was leaked all over it because I loved nursing in this chair.

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When our basement construction started, heralding the end of the recliner’s life in the house, the baby chickens pooped on it while my daughter sang lullabies to them in the garage.  I hand medicated little baby Rosie chick in that chair.  There may or may not be mice in the chair because there are mice out there.

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The time for the chair to leave our home had come.  No more would my daughter recline the back, extend the footrest and launch herself off her indoor playset.  Finally I could stop worrying which kid-friend would end up with stitches from emulating my daughter’s antics.  We will never figure out where that missing thumb screw goes: the one that fell out of the bottom one recline. I’m sure there is a whole set of knitting needles and stitch markers hidden in there, never to be found.

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Before putting the chair out to the curb I went out to the garage, curled up, and read in it one last time.  The book was A Man Called Ove, a perfect choice because my grandpa could have been named Ove he was so much like that character.  I read, I cried, I remembered, and I watched my cats stalk spiders and mice.  Finally, I turned off the lights and, like a dope, said “Goodbye chair.”  By the time I got home from work the next day it was gone.  My mom said, “It was an awfully big memento,” and it was.

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The first post-chair evening I was down in my study digging around in my sewing machine cabinet and for a moment I smelled cigarette smoke.  Throughout my childhood my grandparents were both smokers and that scent still calls up memories of them.  At that moment I realized that one of them was reminding me that my sewing machine belonged to my grandma.  I remember sewing Halloween and theater costumes side by side.  I still use her manual, filled with her hand written notes, every  time I need to sew on rickrack.  I still have a big memento and one that isn’t going anywhere.  All I need to do to reconnect to them is sew something and, you know, my husband did just mention that the chicken coop needs curtains.  (Well he actually said “The chicken coop needs window blankets,” but either way it means sewing project.)


Correction 10/28/2016

I misquoted my mother in the original version.  She did not say, “It makes me feel better knowing that if grandpa wasn’t already dead he’d be dead by now.”  The corrected, and even sillier, quote is above.  Thanks mom for pointing out my mistake.  Love you!

Help Me Pick my Yarn – Phase 2

Four months ago I posted an exciting knitting contest, and finally, I can announce the results.  Just in case you haven’t been holding your breath for three months awaiting the results of this knitting contest, here is a reminder.  I’m making the Purl Soho stitch block cowl.  I need three colors of yarn and was deciding between these three options:

The voting from March was close, but the Hobbit Cowl emerged as a narrow favorite:

Option 1 – Hobbit Cowl – 4 votes

Option 2 – Sunset Cowl – 3 votes

Option 3 – Scottish Cowl – 2 votes

After getting distracted by my sweet daughter batting her super long eyelashes at me and asking for a new blankie, I finally wrapped up the first panel of the cowl.


Isn’t it pretty, and cool and texture-y?  Now it’s time to add in color two and three!  I have to make a decision.  This is a pricey project both from a supply and time perspective, so I really want to get it right.  I decided that the only thing to do was to start knitting swatches to see what I really like best.

The world’s longest most ridiculous swatch.  (No, I didn’t check gauge with it.  Why do you ask?)

Eleven swatches later I’ve decided I really do like the colors selected by the blogosphere.  If only I were a more trusting person I could have saved myself a few hours.  (You readers are SO smart!)  Except…the decision isn’t done!  One section has two colors and the other has three colors.  I need to decide which color is in the two-color section.  Readers,  I turn to you for guidance again.  Which option should I choose?

Is the left version with Shire as the second color better, or is the Moody Green, on the right, better?  Please help me decide before I leave on vacation, so I know which color to pack, because I know I won’t get through all 20 inches in a week.  Thank you!

Mommy, Make Me a Blankie?

When my baby girl was still in my tummy I nested with crafting projects.  I made her a huge Amy Butler flower pillow that she could do tummy time on, as a baby, and sleep on, as a kid.  I made curtains to match.  After she was born my mom and I made her a crib skirt that matched them both.  I also bought machine washable Encore yarn to crochet her a huge granny square blanket and then soft organic cotton Sprout to knit her a blankie.  I have books of Baby Cashmerio patterns and the yarn needed to make a tiny striped cardigan and beret.

It was a surprise to me that new motherhood did not leave much time for knitting.  Even when the baby was asleep, she was often in my arms, or my hands were busy with laundry, dishes, or pumps.  Once I went back to work my hands were on my computer when they weren’t with my baby.  The infant years were not for knitting.

Fast forward eight years.  During the crap-moving part of our basement remodel my daughter found the two bins of yarn I’d purchased before her birth. When I told her what my plans had been she said, “Mommy, will you make me a blankie now?”  Without a second thought I put aside my knitting in progress and started planning her blankie.  When your eight-year-old asks for a handknit you knit.

We dove into the bins. I had hoped she’d pick the Sprout, but the anti-itchy girl decided the Encore was better.  At one point I had a whole rainbow of colors, but somehow only a three-quarter rainbow was in the bin.  No matter, she loved it.

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Then we searched patterns.  One look in my Ravelry library and she picked the Chevron Baby Blanket, not even caring that it said “baby”.  It looked easy and fun, so away I knit.  Between the zigzags, the yarn overs, and the color switches the blanket flew on my needles.  I was smart and wove in ends as I went.  Little Afthead is learning how to knit and even took a few stitches in the last green stripe and helped with the bind off.  A few snips of loose yarn bits and it was ready to block.  I showed it to my kiddo and she hugged it and drug it off to bed.  Who can argue with this kind of instant love?

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Today while she was at camp I snuck it out of her bed so I could take a few pictures of the still unblocked and unwashed finished product.

Here are the knitting details for the knitters.  

  • Yarn – Worsted Encore in 5 colors (I used half a skein for the two colors with 4 rows and about a third for the other three)
  • Pattern – Chevron Baby Blanket
  • Pattern modifications – used a different color repeat than listed and didn’t purl the yarn overs through the back loop.  (Do any of my knitting readers know how to do that?)
  • Needles – Addi Turbo Click Lace, size 9
  • Ravelry Link – http://ravel.me/afthead/cbb 

Now, I’m back to my previous project.  Remember that gorgeous cowl I had color elections for awhile back?  Well, I’ve just started knitting it again.  I’m still in the boring neutral section (because of a request from my daughter, see above blog words) but soon though I’ll be able for the big reveal on what colorway won!  Just pretend you still care even though it is months later…

Knitting Knews

I know you are all dying to know, “But Johanna, what’s going on with your knitting?”  Well let me tell you, the thrummed slipper is coming along magnificently.  The sole of the first one is done.  The outside, or bottom is the brown side with the yellow v’s.  The inside, where the bottom of my foot will go, is the side with the fuzzy yellow caterpillar looking thrums.  Next I just need to knit up the foot and then add more thrums to the top of the slipper.  I’m expecting coziness for one foot soon.  Sadly, since I’m on the road, I had to abandon my slippers for a bit.  Thrums are cool, but not travel friendly.  I’m hopeful that with a Sunday of football ahead of me I can get the first one done.  Then we’ll see if I make the second one next, or make a pair for my demanding daughter first.


One more update on the hat I knit for my friends with the sick little girl.  I heard back from them.  They love the hat and it fits perfectly.  I was so worried, but then a friend at work said, “Of course it was going to fit.  It had to fit.”

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She’s right.  Sometimes fate, or God, or the powers that be make sure that things work out.  The hat had to fit.  It has been called, “The coolest hat ever” by several admirers.  The pom pom is also adored.  This makes my heart happy.

There, feel better?  You are all up to date on the knitting news…except, there may be another hat in the works.  This time for me!

Old knitting dog learns new trick

I have a few skills I’d say I’ve mastered.  Knitting is one of them.  I’m no Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, but who is?  There’s a difference between a knitting master and a jedi-knit-knight.  I’m a master because there isn’t much that intimidates me.  Sure, I have to remind myself how to read lace charts, and I refuse to deal with 80 bobbins of yarn to create intarsia, and I’m always watching videos of different cast on techniques, but the things I don’t know how to do are just things I’ll try someday and when I do I’ll turn out a passable product.  I know how to fix mistakes, I know when to just turn a knitted item back to a ball of yarn.  I can throw and pick and strand and design.  I know how to knit.  It really doesn’t surprise me anymore.

Well, today a miracle happened.  One of my favorite blogs is SouleMama.  I feel like SouleMama is bizarro me.  She has five kids, homeschools them and lives on a farm.  I have one kid who has been in “school” since 13 weeks and I live in a city.  Her life intrigues me, because I can see myself in it.  If somehow we had been switched at birth I can imagine living in a homestead filled with children all wearing the clothes I made them with my own hands tending our flock of sheep.  (I’d homeschool them so that their friends wouldn’t laugh at my inept seamstress skills.)

On Monday Amanda, the author of SouleMama, posted about their family activities during the rainy weekend, and she included a picture of this crazy knitting project with yarn on double pointed needles and fluff hanging out of it.  No explanation, just a pictures, but I was intrigued.  I commented on her post guessing that she was creating roving lined mittens.  Well today her post was all about the thrummed mittens she’d created.  I took a deep breath.  In thirteen years of knitting I have never heard of thrumming.  This was something new.  I tore through her post.  I started searching Ravelry and Etsy.  Thrumming is a thing.  It is an amazing technique where every few stitches instead of stitching your yarn you knit in some fluffy roving.   It makes garments that are soft and fuzzy on the inside and super warm.  I love that thrumming incorporates color and texture into projects in new ways.  I was giddy.  I sent the post and patterns I found to knitting friends and tried to get them all on the thrumming bandwagon.

Where to start?  Well, I stopped at the local yarn shop on my way home, bought a hunk of roving for $6 and then came home and bought a slipper pattern that I adore: Cadeautje by Ysolda Teague.  The roving I bought is an odd mustardy green roving so I can’t make the cool rainbow slippers featured on the pattern yet, but I dug deep into my stash and found some really ancient chunky alpaca wool blend that meets the designers suggestion for yarn and looks pretty darn cool with the roving.

Let me lay this out to you.  For a $6 roving investment and a $5 pattern investment I am going to embark on a new stashbusting project to create wool/alpaca fluffy lined slippers.  Can you imagine anything more dreamy on your foot?   Then I can move onto mittens, funky earflap hats, and glasses cases.  It’s a miracle!  I am so excited.  Now, off to read a couple of thrumming technique blogs before I cast on.

Finally, I’ve gotta be honest here, thrumming?!?!  Can you imagine a cooler word for a new knitting technique?  Thrum, thrum, thrum.  Eeek!