Archive for the ‘finished knits’ Category

Socks that don’t really rock, but do fulfill their intended purpose

So I do still knit! It just takes me an extraordinarily long time to finish anything. This is the first year in five that I didn’t make myself a birthday sweater, but seeing as I’ve been giving away my sweaters instead of wearing them it didn’t seem like a priority this year. (I am not dedicated enough to hand wash sweaters every time I wear them, and I have observed there’s something about wool that invites spit up and other natural disasters. Thus my sweater collection is in hiding. Not to mention my mommy knockers, but if I told you that, it would be TMI, wouldn’t it?)

With that, here are the socks I made for my lovely sister-in-law. My swirl socks pattern adapted to fingering weight yarn, Lorna’s Laces because that’s my brother’s favorite, and a completion time that is downright embarrassing. I’ll give you a hint: these socks are older than my 5-month-old.



And then this pair is for my grandma. It’s just a spiraling rib-ish sort of thing because I got a little antsy.




When my grandfather was ill I used to make him a pair a month during the winter, or thereabouts. It was probably more for me than for him–the need to do SOMETHING when there is absolutely nothing anyone can do. One of the most touching moments of my life was when I went to visit him (at the time we lived 13 hours away), the first thing he did was wheel back to his sock drawer and slowly tell me that he thought about me every morning. We cried together (heck, I’m crying now) and I think that I was never so glad to be able to be a knitter. There are some people who do so much for you that there’s no way you could return all the goodness they’ve poured into you. My grandfather was one of those people, and my grandmother continues to be one too. So I do what I can. I knit socks.

Thanks for listening. Go forth, knit, and love.


Twillish jacket, revisited

From knits

Ain’t it just the way it goes that when you finally do something right you don’t take good notes?? When I made my “Not Alpaca but Twillish” (rav link) jacket a year and a half ago (blog link), I made a lot of modifications to the pattern (a Norah Gaughan pattern “Alpaca Twill,” from Knitter’s Magazine 84, Fall 2006). I started out making good notes for myself, but by the time I got through my fourth and final version, I was just riffing and I can’t really tell you what I did. I’m still not sure how much help this post will be to anyone who wants to try something like it, but it’s the best I’ve got!

Three sets of notes, upside down, backwards…and totally useless. I didn’t mark which ones I ended up using, or even which ones didn’t work!

From knits

At that point, I started getting requests via Ravelry for my mods. Doh! But I’m actually grateful for those requests, because I started to put down my thoughts when they were still somewhat fresh in my head, or at least more so than now. So I’m going to do my best for those of you who have asked for help, and ask you for patience in return. I’ll be happy to clarify whatever points I can, just drop me a line.

First let me say I take great pleasure in wearing this coat. I wore it to my field’s big society meeting in Nashville (go AMS!) this November, and it was perfect for both the beautiful southern fall weather and the unpredictable climes of hotel conference centers. I could wear it running back and forth from the hotel, and even in the chillier conference rooms, without looking like I was in fact running around the city like crazy. I like that I can wear it with jeans or dressier pants, and layer it over simple knit shirts. I guess that, like all my favorite clothes, the point is that it is easy to wear.

Ok, on to some initial thoughts in no particular order…

1: Beware of hip ease. This note is for me as much as everyone else: be generous with hip ease! I’m used to using negative or sparse positive ease in sweaters, but that doesn’t fly for hips. Anyone know what kind of rules there are for ease in jackets?

My  jacket closes at the hip but doesn’t hang there naturally, a circumstance I’ve convinced myself is the look I wanted–but really? if I were making this again I’d add much more ease, please. Part of my mistake was that I changed the way the fronts of the original jacket met, without compensating for the loss of inches at the hips. I didn’t follow the schematics for this hardly at all, and this was one place I should have at least noted the measurements.

From knits

2: Reduced sleeve puff. This is a personal preference, since I just can’t bring myself to do QB-sized sleeves. So I just skipped the last four increases of the sleeves (I made the smallest size, so I had eight less sts in the middle section to be bound off), and that was a really easy way to solve the problem of the puff.

the magazine photo, check out those sleeves!

From knits

3: Knit from the top down. The best thing I did was to make the fronts and back from the top down–which I recommend purely so you can determine a happy finished length, but also because then you can try on the collar section as you go, and rip out from the beginning if you need to do so. I personally abhor trying to figure out where I should be in the pattern when I have to rip a lot. Then again, looking at my revised schematic (below), you might think better going the other way!!

To knit it top down, I just reversed the instructions- CO where it said to BO, increased where it said to decrease, etc. For the sides, I cast on 3 sts and did increases when the pattern called for decreases, and vice versa (see specific notes section below). Oh, and if it matters to you, I did my M1 increases two stitches in from the edge–just where I thought it looked best.

4: Major collar reduction. Here was my major change: I made the collar about one third of the original size, and I also skipped the “work even” rows on the collar sides to make a sharper angle at the front. The original pattern shows a pretty good overlap and a tie under the bust, but I made mine to just meet at the front, and since my Ravelry pictures I’ve added a decorative clasp in the front center.

I also slipped the first st. of the collar side on each WS row to give it a nice defined edge. (See below for some of my specific measurements on the collar, if you think that will help you out!)

collar knitted as written (you have GOT to be kidding, I say!!), plus an initial attempt to understand how to fix it, and finally the finished result:

From knits
From knits
From knits

5: Made both front panels at the same time, in exactly the same way. I did this because then when I turned one around the rib pattern spiraled in opposite directions on the front. (Ok, and because by the fourth time I knit this collar I wasn’t being as careful with notes as I should have been and knitting two at a time takes care of that laziness!) This is just a personal preference, though. It made seaming a bit harder on one side, but I really like the effect on the front when the sides swirl away from each other rather than going in the same direction.

From knits
From knits

6: A question for you: I’m curious about yarn choice for this coat. I used a chunky wool single (not doubled), and although I’ve gotten some pillage under the arms it turned out to be a great choice. It has enough body to it that it doesn’t hang or cling too much, an important consideration for me in the rear view with a longer coat like this. I’m sure the alpaca blend recommended (Berroco Ultra Alpaca) has a great drape, but alpaca is so heavy and hot I can’t imagine it in a full coat–not to mention doubled. So I’m interested to know what thoughts people are having about yarn.

On to some specifics:

Just for your own guidelines, my bust is about 32″, and I wanted less ease than I would have had with the XS of 37″ given in the pattern. So my jacket is about 34″ at the bust.

Here’s a schematic I drew off of the original pattern piece to show you how simple my collar mod ended up being. The red line is about where I think my collar ended up, with the mark “collar point” where I stopped increasing and started decreasing on that side.

The 9″ mark is at the collar point, and the 10″ mark is at the fold line.

From knits

Here are some other shots to try and show the shape:

From knits
From knits

Good luck! As my dissertation adviser is wont to say as I leave his office, “Couragio!”

Six months worth of socks

It comes as no surprise when I admit that I have been remiss in blogging. So in one fell swoop, here are most of the socks I’ve made in the past six months (there were a couple of pairs that got away from me before I could snap a shot–sneaky socks! Particularly sad is the absence of a shot of the elf socks I knit for Grandpa for Christmas out of alternating red and green stripes. They were my favorite).


L to R: Panda cotton (for me), Lion Brand Magic Stripes (for SIL), Trekking Natura (for bro), Bernat Denim Style (for Grandpa), and a little peek at another Lion Brand Magic Stripes pair for Grandpa that did eventually get finished and mailed. But refused to be photographed.



I hated knitting these socks–cotton, eh?–but I’ve found that I do enjoy wearing them. The pattern is just bands of knit and purl, and the bind off is a picot BO that I just let curl instead of sewing to the inside. One could choose to see that as lazy, or one could call it inspired.



Grandpa’s February socks, just your plain ol’ acrylic/wool blends


Lorna’s Laces for DH. For some reason I really like these!


for my brother’s birthday. I think I told you all about his apparent love for Lorna and Lorna only when it comes to socks. I actually love it that someone told me exactly what they want in a pair of socks!


Grandpa and Grandma’s January socks–I think these are Bernat Satin or whatever that yarn is called. Slippery, but good for thick socks that will see heavy wash rotation.

Ah, my conscience feels so much better now! I may even be ready to come clean and tell you that today I took the first stitch–knitting or sewing–that I’ve taken in a month!

‘Rithmetic for travelling knitters

(warning! the following post has not been approved for those who are easily angered by bad math!)

i + y(w) = h

the formula for determining happiness as a knitter, where i (inches of snow that fall during a New England snowstorm) plus y (yards of yarn) times the amount of said yarn that is w (wool) equals h (how happy you are to be a able to swaddle yourself and your loved ones in wool)

exhibit A: The Burlington gloves: completed in time for walking through fourteen inches of snow dumped on beautiful Vermont


M < a = ($) + 15

where M (mass of a yarn for a project) must be less than a (air) to equal avoiding $ (an additional fine for heavy luggage) in addition to 15 (the airlines’ charge to check bags)

note: also related is M < a = P, where M (mass of a yarn for a project) must be less than a (air) to equal avoiding P (shoulder pain from carrying everything in carry-on instead)

note: see also c α e^-1, where c (complexity of a pattern) is  inversely proportional to the amount of e (elbow room) you have to view the pattern and execute the stitches in coach seating

exhibit b, the New Haven Mohair Cowl Pullover (rav link). Squishy yarn to fit in any  suitcase crevice, miles of St st, only one set of circular needles: this one was a perfect travel knit! It saw me through eight airplanes, two trains, and four automobiles.



x +1s

The formula for determining how many knitting projects to pack, where x = the amount of knitting that could optimistically be completed if a major storm should hit and the entirety of the trip ends up being spent at the airport and you have to knit to stay awake the entire time to guard your possessions, and 1s = enough yarn for an extra pair of socks.

exhibit c: the Boston Selbu Modern–a great pattern for all you slouch- and semi-slouch lovers out there! Oh, and because DH will want me to tell you this part even though I haven’t figured out how to add this to the equation: add to this one the number of times you’ll be hit on by a straight woman in front of your husband (after she asks  him that you’re his wife) because of this hat! Hey, lady outside the Pub at the Hub in Boston, don’t get me wrong I was  flattered but I’ll give up the hat before I give up the man!! 🙂

selbu 2


(Oh, and for Jodi I threw on my SIL’s Green Gable one more time to show you all I fixed the collar!! Contrary to the view from this fresh-off-the-needles shot, it does lay much better now.)

and finally,

0C= b-(10/s)

zero! equals how much control (C) you have in the face of b (beautiful hand-dyed yarn) for a ridiculously low price (10 dollars / skein) as you accidentally forget that you weren’t going to buy any souvenir yarn and blow 30 bucks on this gorgeous laceweight from Tess yarns in Maine.

I had to laugh at how many of you commented that souvenir yarn was more your speed than souvenir projects. Looks like we are all of the same mind in that regard! But what should I make? Maybe I’ll save it as theinspiration for my next travel knitting, wherever that may be.

Maine yarn

Maine yarn

Sula of Green Gables

I haven’t thought about Anne of Green Gables in a long time. I never watched the TV show or whatever it was, but I did love the books. Anne was such a lovable heroine, so earnest and passionate. I know I certainly felt myself to be a kindred spirit with her. Anyone else?

Speaking of people I love (precipitous segue alert!), it was a happy circumstance to run across the Green Gables (rav link) pattern near about the same time I decided to knit my SIL a sweater for her birthday. She married my brother a year ago tomorrow (Jan. 28), and I love her more every time I see her. Her birthday is in early February, and she and my bro will be in Florida visiting my grandparents from Ireland so I will be able to send them a package for much cheaper than the $95 we paid for their Christmas presents! I should remind her to leave some empty space in her suitcase.

I knew I wouldn’t be making the hood — those cables are too good to cover up — so I thought it might be a good idea to experiment with the pattern before I made the real one. I had almost enough yarn for a red one, thanks to leftovers from Mom’s Christmas sweater of two years ago and a chance encounter on Ravelry. So one week I accidentally made a Green Gable for me, too.

I wore it once at the beginning of November, then it sat until late December when I redid the neck on the way to my parents’ house and wore it to Christmas Eve services. It gave me some fits, but I really enjoy wearing this sweater. I’m praying no one on Ravelry asks me for my mods because true to form I decreased like crazy, closed my eyes, bound off and decided to be happy with whatever I got!

From knits
From knits
From knits

Now, on to the real show: A dear friend was kind enough to share her measurements with me so I could come closer to my SIL’s size (that’s why the pics look a bit messed up, the sweater’s a bit too small sorry!). I did her neck a little bit different so it can be a shawl collar. And after seeing these pics I think I’ll add a few more rows so it has a bit more weight and stays down better. Finished knitting–who knew??

ETA: I just realized that I made matching scarlet and gray sweaters! Help!

From knits
From knits
From knits

What I’ve been up to

More travel! If I were reading my blog I would begin to think I lived a rather charmed life. And I would be right in many regards, although the past year has been quite exceptional in the amount of the world I’ve seen. Not only did I get to fulfill a lifelong dream of seeing Switzerland (and Ireland), but I also finally got to go to New England. Ok, who am I kidding? I’m in Maine right now!

And last week I was in New Hampshire and Vermont. I am thrilled to say that they were both as beautiful as I’d always hoped. I have never before felt as immediately comfortable in a town as I did when I was in Hanover, NH. Although I have spent the last eight years in cities, I remain devoted to the country and found New England to be an enchanting mix of both. This circumstance is especially fortunate, given the reason for our trip was for job interviews of a sort for DH.

DSC07215.JPGview from the hotel room in Lebanon, NH


on the road between Hanover, NH, and Burlington, VT

From holidays 2008

From holidays 2008
From holidays 2008
From holidays 2008

more Burlington, for good measure

Then there is the fact that the 14 inches of snow that dumped on Vermont while we were there confirmed to me that my decision to become a knitter was a prophetic move indeed (which reminds me: have I ever told you why I started knitting in the first place? DH loves football and loves watching football on TV, and I can’t even make it through a sitcom without a project. Makes me wonder about you all–what were the circumstances that led you down the dark alley of string addiction?).


I wanted to show you my proud display of knits–hat, scarf, gloves–in the holiday wonderland that is Church Street Market in Burlington, Vermont. I hope that you will please excuse the somewhat disturbing facelessness!


Another sighting in the wild–this Road to Golden was seen (on me) at the Skinny Pancake in Burlington, and that, my friends, is an apple and brie crepe. (I could describe it for you, but I hope you will get the chance to experience such goodness for yourself. Plus I am very full from another excellent meal at the moment and I don’t know that my senses can handle reliving this particular taste bud enchantment at the moment.)

Photo 137.jpg

These are the gloves I started for this trip. Thankfully one of the hotels had a sewing kit that included needles to sew in the ends, because these went much faster than I expected! The yarn is leftovers that I crock pot dyed with food coloring last winter. I’m quite pleased with these, except as you can see they are already heading down the path of pill after only a week of wear.

Photo 138.jpg

I do thoroughly enjoy commemorating days and events with knits like this. These will forever be my Vermont gloves. Does anyone else do this?

Now with real content!

I’ve intimated before that I enjoy deadline knitting, and this year is no exception. This year I added an extra twist: I decided to knit-bomb my brother and sister-in-law.

After last year’s rather pathetic request for socks for Christmas, the ammo for the first attack seemed obvious (Lion Brand Simple Stripes on the left for her, and Trekking Natura on the right for him):


And then, it seemed logical to instensify the strike with a personal wintertime favorite, the Handknit Holiday Log Cabin socks. (These are the fourth and fifth times I’ve made this pattern.)


But I’ve read The Art of War. I know I can’t depend on one strategy alone. So next I moved to scarves. This move was inevitable, given the shameful pilled state of the last scarf I made for my bro. His is on the left, made from Cascade 128, and hers is Arcuania Nature Cotton. You’ve heard this before, but it looks much better in real life. The colors are richer, and the plain garter texture looks like pebbles in the bottom of a stream (sorry, didn’t mean to go all poetic on you in the heat of battle).


The final stage took some thinking. I unvented a cabled hat for the bro–and was immediately commissioned for another by the DH.


Sad to say, there were casualties in the hat process. After an intital foray into hatting, I tried again to knit Veronik Avery’s Short Row Hat. This is the second time I’ve been about halfway done and not been able to stomach it. Why? It’s a great pattern, but I can only conclude it requires the absolute perfect yarn, and this ain’t it. But I ended up doing a simple brioche stitch hat (from Weekend Knitting, I think? Thank you, Melanie Falick!) and I’m quite pleased with the result. And, as you might guess from my last post, it was way too much fun to knit.

(The yarns are leftover Rowan Yorkshire Tweed and Ella Rae Jaspe. The boy hat is also from Cascade 128).





Let the twelve days of Christmas begin–my knitting’s in the mail!

The more things change…


Old excuse for not blogging:

7am- get up and work on candidacy exam

12 am- stop working, go to bed

New excuse for not blogging:

7pm on Thursday- CO hat for SIL

7pm on Friday- BO hat for SIL

Anyone else with me?

(PS Christmas knitting is done! That’s what happens when the recipients live 2+ weeks away by post. Real update with late-night pictures coming soon!)

It’s been an odd day

Today was a day that kindled equal amounts of dread and delight. I am grateful that some of the delight came in the midst of the dread, in the form of ridiculously endearing well-wishes from the person whose well-wishes mean the most.


PS Notice my reply in the bottom right hand corner. I is not so eloquent.

And just in case you were wondering, I did do good. And then I came home.*

Other delights of the day:

1) A Scr*bble board that I would like to suggest is the finest I’ve ever seen. There was only one instance of cheating, and really, if you could share an “i” with the arranger of the above message so he could spell “niece,” “dice,” and “id” at the same time and shamelessly defeat you at Scr*bble, wouldn’t you do it too?


2) Socks that made me feel immensely clever. After seeing Grumperina‘s post this summer about using leftover sock yarns I knew it would be easy and fun to do the same. So one evening in October I sorted sock yarns, and didn’t even need to refer to her directions the concept is so ridiculously simple. This is my first pair, of many. So easy! So fun! You should try it!


Yarns: Patons Kroy and Regia Silk (from Grandma socks) and Knitpicks Gloss (from my Thermal)


Toe ups, so I could just knit until I ran out of one yarn, then another. Then I quit.

3) Some real snow! In November! And then I put on this sweater I made last year and realized I never showed it to you guys, pardonez-moi! It’s Patons SWS, designed after I made that baby poncho sweater thing for my friend. As I was knitting that sweater I realized that the shape would be cool in a fitted sweater: add some waist shaping and a funnel neck and BOOM! a sweater with no babies required. What it does require is the Pythagorean theorem, or at least I convinced myself that it did in order to arrive at the proper amount of stitches to divide for body and sleeves. You can use the width of the stripes to get a closer look at my top-down construction, if you wish: notice how the sleeves suddenly switch to wide stripes after I divided. I love this sweater (even if neither of the s’s in SWS stands for soft) and its angled sleeves.



*Ok, the all-dread and partially delightful part, because one of my dearest friends and readers (Hello, Madame Librarian!) sent me an email just today asking about it. Today, friends, I took that small leap for me-kind and became a Ph.D. candidate. It only required a month of writing and a nerve-wracking oral defense, but I did it. I’ve been up and down about it all day, because of course you nearly always want to have done better than you actually did, but right now I think I’ve settled on being happy that I did it. About 3/4 of the credit goes to DH, who has picked up the slack around these parts for a long time. So I didn’t tell you all during the event, but preparing, executing, and panicking (I love that there is a “k” in that word. Makes it much more anxious) about this exam have been largely responsible for keeping me away from this warm and fuzzy blog world. Now I will have to blame my dissertation instead!

sort of Sylph

It’s a story so cliche, only the late Don LaFontaine could make it exciting: Girl falls for yarn, girl weds yarn to pattern, girl modifies pattern, girl almost runs out of yarn but manages to squeak by. The end.



yarn: Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool
pattern: Sylph Cardigan by Robin Melanson. Modified with a custom-made and strange mix of measurements, top-down sleeves (to accommodate my amount of yarn), adjusted body st. pattern (to account for textured yarn), and no ruffles (do I need to tell you what I’m accommodating here?).


I’m happy with this one. I started knitting it in May or June and finished in October. Not bad, the way things are going around here! But I do love the color of this yarn (see top pictures for closest representation). It is subtle and almost neutral, but with a surprising depth.

And ah, doesn’t it reflect orange so nicely?




(Oh, and girl uses earrings to close cardigan when she doesn’t have the recommended closures. That could be the thrilling plot twist!)