The Multi-year Totoro Mittens

Totoro mittens in progress

So I started these Norwegian Totoro Mittens (ravelry link)… uhhh… a long time ago. I actually am not sure when I started them, because of course I didn’t log them in my Ravelry Notebook. My Ravelry notebook that’s gone largely neglected the last few years.

Of course I didn’t.

But I do know that they’ve been on the needles a long time. Long enough to have stray strands of fur from my cat Genghis still knitted into them.* And Genghis has been pushing up daisies for several years now, soooo… there’s that.

But it’s time to be done with them. I’ve dragged them back out, and I want them OFF THE NEEDLES by this time next week. Mark my words.

Just in time for spring!

God gracious, do I need to get my knitting shit together.

Do you have a project that you’ve allowed to linger unfinished like this? Or are you someone who has to finish a project before they move onto the next? If so, can you teach me your ways?

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*Non-pet owners – don’t judge… it’s pretty much impossible to avoid. Cat hair just clings to certain yarns.

It Was the Shawl That Wouldn’t End…

shawl

So I made a Boneyard Shawl (ravelry link). I went with the YO options to create a perforated edge and middle, and I LOVE the way it turned out, but oh, em, gee did I get bored with this pattern fast.

It’s a super easy knit, but the bigger it gets, the more tedious the knitting was for me. It’s super mindless, which is GREAT if you’re someone who can like, knit without looking at your stitches? But I still can’t really do that. I’m in awe of people who can read while they knit, or even watch something on TV that’s visual heavy, because I can basically only do documentaries which are more about listening than seeing. As a result, because of how easy and mindless it is, I spent a LOT of time – as the repeats got longer and longer and as the shawl got bigger and bigger – just wishing it was done. There was a lot of attraction/avoidance going on with this project, for over a year really, and it kind of became a big source of knitters block for me.

But I finally buckled down and just FINISHED it. In the end, do I love the result? Totally. It’s big, and cozy, and comfy, and looks great. Do I think I’ll make this pattern again? Probably not. Not until I can knit without looking reliably, anyway. But in the end I have a nice new office wrap, so that’s good. And I can finally move on to other knitting!

(here’s the link to my ravelry project page)

Closeup

Six Last Minute Knitted (and Crocheted) Gift Patterns

It’s that time of year again! Gift giving season! I figured that this would be a perfect time to post a compilation of a few of my favorite, tried and tested fast knitting patterns – you know, in case anyone needs to procure a thoughtful, hand-knit gift in the span of a mere afternoon.

favorite last minute gifts header

All photos are taken from the Ravelry Pattern page, and link back to the original source.

FernLaceCowl_medium2

1) Fern Lace Cowl by Jami Brynildson – I’ve made several of these over the years – it’s a quick knit that’s interesting enough to keep you entertained without being too brainpower intensive, allowing you to easily pump this project out in an afternoon. And the finished project looks way more complicated than it is, and is very versatile. It can look drastically different depending on your yarn choice – in case you’ve got more than one to make!

Polka Dot Christmas Stockings

2) Polka Dot Christmas Stocking by Priscilla Hewitt – Again, a pattern I’ve used a number of times over the years, both last minute and in advance! The rounds are super quick to complete making this another 1 afternoon make. The only tricky part of this one is putting it all together at the end – there is no piecing diagram – but it’s not too difficult to figure out. Three rounds per row, offset to make them lock in with one another. The toe can be a little finicky if you’re not good with spacial reasoning (I have one or two of these that has a little bit of a lumpy toe as a result of me rushing too fast) but even if the toe doesn’t come out quite right, it still ends up looking great in the end.

Bella Mittens

3) Bella’s Mittens by Marielle Henault – This is a pattern that was SUPER popular a number of years ago in the heat of the Twilight craze, since they’re based off of mittens the character of Bella apparently wears in the movie. I was never a Twilight fan. The whole premise and execution of it is just really icky to me for a number of reasons. But this pattern? I LOVE this pattern. I made these mittens as a gift for my mom, and had allotted like, three weeks for them since I had never done cables on DPNs before. I definitely did not need it. They were done in an afternoon and a half – and honestly the extra half afternoon is only because I stalled putting on the thumbs. The bulky yarn has a great deal to do with how quickly they knit up, and you can also shave even more time off by cutting the amounts of repeats on the cuffs so they don’t go almost up to the elbow.

hill country Hat

4) Hill Country Hat by Clara Parkes – This was my very first hat pattern, and it’s remained in my repertoire ever since because of the ease and speed that it knits up. It’s also easily editable for big or small heads, and for those who do or do not prefer some extra length to fold up.

Calorimetry

5) Calorimetry by Kathryn Schoendorf – This is the OG messy bun hat, if you ask me. This pattern is probably in almost every raveler’s notebook in some form or another – it’s crushing popularity after its release in the Winter 2006 edition of Knitty was just insane. It’s got over 18,000 projects filed on Ravelry, making it the 3rd most popular free pattern on the entire website. It’s easy to knit, easy to personalize with crocheted flowers or other embellishments, and SUPER practical (in addition to this style of headband being pretty “in” right now). That said, you do need to be familiar with your intended recipient’s head size, as the sizing can be a bit finicky in my experience. The first one I made (and I even paid attention to gauge, which I NEVER do) wore more like a babushka than a headband on me. However, with its immense popularity there’s a lot of ways documented about how to adjust for a bigger or smaller head available in Ravelry project pages.

cozy ribbed scarf

6) Cozy Ribbed Scarf by Dawn Regan – And lastly, this cozy ribbed scarf is also a winner – super simple pattern, and again, easily customizable in terms of look depending on yarn choice. It can look polished or casual, preppy or boho. Chunky yarn makes this knit up super quickly, and the result is warm and totally “in” right now.

Do you have any favorite quick knits (or crochets)?

Operation: Finish the Afghan

Progress So Far

So I have this afghan. It’s been half-done since somewhere around 2008. Maybe 2009. I started it as a graduation gift for my college roommate, but as it continued to linger and linger and linger, and as years and years passed since both of our graduations that original purpose became moot.

And now it’s 2015. I’m three years away from a 10 year college reunion (which I will probably not go to, since I didn’t know anyone I graduated with – I graduated a year early). And still the afghan remains. Unfinished. Languishing in a green milk-style storage carton behind our couch.

Yarn in the box

The time has come. It’s time to be done with it.

And I’m going to pretend its for a much nobler reason than the fact that I need the storage container for sweaters. I’m going to pretend it’s in the interest of finishing what I started – committing to a project and seeing it through. Being a woman of my word.

You’ll help me keep up that illusion, right?

Right?

Langishing in box

WIP Wednesday

I’ve been really really lax when it comes to knitting lately. I think I ended up with a grand total of 4 FOs (Finished Objects) last year? Maybe?

But I got my mojo back last week and I’m finally making some progress on some of the stuff I’ve been working on.

First, my Undertow Shawlette (Ravelry Link), which has been in progress since this was a KAL pattern by my LYS (which has sadly now closed) in May of 2013.

Undertow-Shawlette

I’ve been super slow with progress on this, not because I don’t like the pattern (it’s pretty easy actually), but because the yarn is not really my favorite – I’m using Crystal Palace Yarn’s Mini Mochi in what I think is colorway 303 Spice Market (I was an asshole who lost the yarn band). The yarn is fine, but the colorway isn’t really my bag of chips so it’s been difficult finding motivation.

I’ve also run into a problem now that I’m making progress – I never actually consulted yardage requirements before starting this pattern and have, well, run out of yarn. I’ve got two options here – one is to find a second skein, which will take some searching of brick and mortar yarn stores (since I lost the band and need to compare the actual project to the skein), or bind off early. I kind of want to avoid binding off early, because as much as I don’t care for the colors, the lace section is shaping up beautifully and I don’t want to sell it short by skipping the last section.

Undertow-Shawlette-detail

See?

So I’ll have to figure that one out as I go I guess.

Domek-WIP

Next, I’ve got a quick project I started because I can’t find the chunky arm knit scarf from last year. I need another chunker for my walk to work, and I had a few skeins of Lion Brand Hometown USA in Cambridge Tweed floating around so I figured, “Why not?”

Right now it just looks like a blob, but eventually it’ll be a Domek (Ravelry link). I can’t wait to see how the construction turns out.

Disney-photo-album-stuff

In non-knitting news, my other decent sized project for the next few days is finally starting to get photos from our Disney trip last year into an album. I finally got around to getting some of the pictures printed and grabbing some Disney themed paper. I’ve been on the hunt for some for months to no avail. I gotta say, you’d think there’d be more that wasn’t either a) 100% Mickey themed or b) 100% kid oriented, since the parks are pretty huge vacation destinations for adults, and there’s way more than just Magic Kingdom there…

So basically I settled for grabbing some bright colored paper to augment the overwhelming Mickey focus.

Now if only there was a Disney Project Life pack, I wouldn’t have even had to bother…

Once I make some progress on these, I’ll let you know how it’s all working out. But for now, what are you all currently working on?

How To: Dealing with Stiff Circs

Uncurl-Needle-Cords-Header

Every knitter who uses circs knows the struggle of wrestling with the cords of cheap circs. You take them out of the package, expecting the cord to unwind only to end up with this:

curly-cord

Ugh.

Seriously the worst.

And it’s not like they’ll gradually soften and straighten as you knit – no matter how much you pull, that spiral stays.

Except, I figured out how to make it go away.

(Or rather, my father suggested it to my mom who then tried it, found out it works, and then told me… but anyway…)

All it takes is a little bit of hot water and about 5 minutes total.

heat-water

All you do is heat some water to boiling (or near boiling)*. I just put it in the microwave for about 4 minutes.

Once your water is hot, dip your cord in the hot water for 10 seconds (make sure you don’t put it in far enough that the joint between the needle and the cord touches the water – make sure it’s JUST the cord), take it out, and pull it straight.

dip-cord

Hold it straight for 30 seconds until the cord cools – essentially what you’re doing is melting the cord ever-so-slightly and allowing it to resolidify in its new, straight form.

If it’s still not uncurled enough, dip again and repeat the process.

All done

And that’s it! Now you have a nice, relaxed circ cord!

(*Sidenote: if you’re someone who is concerned about plastics and heat and whatnot, use a disposable tupperware container that you don’t intend to use for consumables to heat the water.)

Tempted by Sweater Knitting

Sweater pattern collage

Pumpkin lattes are out, and that always triggers a pavlovian response in me. Because of course, pumpkin latte time is sweater time. Never mind that it’s currently 90 damn degrees out as I type this. Facts? Who needs ‘em?

So I’ve been in a sweater state of mind for about two weeks now. My knitting box is starting to look attractive again, I’m itching to pull everything out of storage, and every time I look out a window I’m half hoping that the leaves have already started to turn. But of course, they haven’t. And they won’t for a while. And if I ACTUALLY put on a sweater, I’d be a sweaty horrible mess within 30 seconds, because it’s been one of the hottest weeks of the year here. Augh.

So to satisfy my cravings for fall, I’ve been looking at sweater patterns on Ravelry. I’ve never knit a sweater before – I don’t swatch for gauge when I knit, and I’m pretty sure I’ll never care enough/have the patience to, so sweater knitting is pretty much out of the picture. Too much yarn required (which means too much of a financial commitment) to possibly only end up with something that doesn’t fit.

But it doesn’t mean I can’t look. And maybe drop hints to my mom – who is knitting again, and is seriously a machine (like, seriously, she’s put out more FOs in the year she’s been back to it than I have in my nine years I’ve been knitting times 5).

So here’s a collection of the five sweater patterns that tempt me the most. You know, in case anyone wants to knit for me (all links lead to the ravelry pattern page).

Unbound by Annamaria Otvos

#1: Unbound by Annamária Ötvös. Love this cozy, slouchy pattern. The use of fingering weight leaves me feeling like it’d be pretty light as well – perfect for that in-between weather.

Aidez by Cirilia Rose

#2: Aidez by Cirilia Rose. This cabled cardigan seems like the ultimate cuddle sweater. Can’t you just see wearing it with a comfy vintage tee with leggings and big slouchy socks while curling up with a cup of tea? Augh. Fall. Where are you?

Ease pattern by Alicia Plummer

#3: Ease by Alicia Plummer. Another simple, cozy sweater pattern. Are you seeing a trend in my taste? I guess cozy and slouchy is the name of the game for me this fall/winter. I like this for its simplicity and the fact that there are options to knit it with a hood or without, so it can be either a little more formal, or very casual.

Sari Cardi by Jenise Reid

#4: Sari Cardi by Jenise Reid. Love the construction of this cardigan – it’s like half wrap, half full sweater. Again, perfect for a cozy kind of day, while still staying work-wearable. Plus, I’ve always had a thing for saris. They’re just SO BEAUTIFUL.

and last, but not least,

a hint of summer by isabel kraemer

#5: …A Hint of Summer by Isabell Kraemer. Another light, slouchy pullover like Unbound, but this time with stripes. Again, perfect for that in-between weather that’s fast approaching.

What are your favorite sweater patterns?

[All photos taken from the Ravelry pattern pages, and link back to said page]