For all the time I spend making things, very little ever gets made (or mended) for me. I may sew for a living, but my wardrobe is riddled with holes, frayed cuffs, and is frequently held together with safety pins. In what was quite a departure for me, as well as an excercise in discipline, I decided to both knit down my stash and be the beneficiary of the enterprise.
My sweater is off the needles, though yet to be blocked— and it needs it. It is something of a bastardization of the beautiful Hiro pattern. I used inappropriate yarn, lengthened the cuffs and added thumb holes, widened the collar, eliminated any waist shaping. I still plan on adding pockets, but I haven’t decided where or what style yet. I made it ridiculously large to wear cross country skiing over leggings finished just in time for — ummm— spring.
The next Bee in the Barn at Todd Farm will be a very special gathering. Sewing bees have a long history of community gatherings for a common cause and in that spirit our next bee on March 19th will also serve as a collection site for handcrafting materials, tools, and supplies to donate to Syrian refugees.
The sounds of my home waking up in winter are quite different than the warmer seasons when the windows and doors are thrown wide open and we are roused by the birds and the wind. In the colder months, we are closed up and tucked in, insulated from nature’s alarms. When I wake before light to start my day, our winter home offers the comforting morning sonata of the gurgling coffee pot, the furnace kicking in followed by the soft whir of the blower, and the gentle snores of my dogs (and sometimes husband) as they all linger in dream land. It is this winter soundscape that will always be audible memory of writing this pattern. Up before the rest of my household, my knitting would expand with the growing light.
As winter projects go, there is none better than this alpaca throw. Steaming cup of coffee beside me, I’d work tucked beneath the warmth of my work in progress watching the sun burn the mist off the field outside my window. Core spun alpaca is a sensory joy too work with and it’s working weight would gently nudge my sleepy muscles to wakefulness. Finishing up at over 6 lbs, this throw is a physical project with big broad movements as undulating cables are manipulated and the throw is rotated from row to row. Back and forth. The greatest pleasure may be rewards of seeing such a large project work up so quickly. Knit on size 50 needles, progress is swift. Cast on today and you will be snugly tucked in beneath your completed blanket in no time.
A number of years ago I came across a pattern for a simple baby kimono. There were a lot of things I liked about it, but there were also a lot of things I didn’t. I’d been brooding over how a kimono I designed would differ for quite some time before I finally put pencil to paper and needles to yarn. The beautiful Cumbria by The Fibre Co helped spur things along. As soon as I had sample in hand, my head started whirring with the possibilities. Finally, after many stops and starts. Knits, tinks, knits, tinks, pencil scratches, recalculations, tear outs it has all come together and my newest pattern is now available in my shop.
I’ve always been a texture girl, and Cumbria excels in its stitch definition. I really wanted to create an interesting visual and I’m a sucker for a YO. After much fiddling, I devised an all over eyelet pattern I was happy with. The other thing that I really wanted to achieve with this piece was beautifully finished edges that did as they were told. No rolling or buckling or bad attitudes. I-cords came to my rescue at every start, stop, and turn. From the cast-on, certain bind offs, and all along the neckline I-cords were my design friend. It took a bit of re-work of the traditional I-cord edge to accommodate the quick decreases along the neckline, but tiny little short rows did the trick. I really couldn’t be happier with how the whole thing came out and am already working designs for companion pieces and variations for different skill sets.
I’ve also stocked my shop with three beautiful shades of Cumbria to get you started knitting right away!
It should come to no one’s surprise that when I say that I need to knit down the stash or de-stash it is really me just readying an excuse to buy more yarn. “It’s a mental illness,” to quote a friend. Yep. And I’m refusing therapy.
This week the studio is filled to the brim with my first shipment of Manos del Uruguay yarns. I’m thrilled to be carrying so many beautiful skeins and am itching to begin designing with my new fiber friends. Somehow I ended up grown up enough to be showing a little bit of restraint, though. I’m intent on finishing up the pattern for the Fisherman’s Bunting, a project that requires much counting and my wrists are filing complaints against cables, but even still my days are busy with no idle hands and my imagination is running wild with new designs to come.
My version of heaven may just involve a crisp chilly night, curled up in my favorite chair with a good mystery and a glass of wine. My dogs scattered comfortably around me (and not trying to regain my favorite chair). The alternative, however, might be a crisp autumn morning with everything the same except for coffee replacing the wine. Either way, my head is daydreaming of lush knits and–um, yes…. Soup.
I confess, if I could create a world that was singularly Fall, I’d be in heaven. Soup is my soul food that carries me through 9 mos of the year, and Autumn heralds the return of the Soup Days. As you may or may not know, I Cook. My kitchen gets a much better workout than I ever do. That said, I don’t agonize over my cooking like I do my stitching. I may re-knit the same 3 inches a dozen times to achieve perfection, but I have never made the same sauce twice—merely close approximations of favorite flavor combinations. I refuse to measure. My cooking style is decidedly rustic. I will only peel a vegetable if I’m seriously doubtful of the outcome otherwise. My potatoes, carrots, and apples hit the pot as clothed as the day they sprouted.
I frequently wish myself able to tackle my knitting with the same reckless abandon as my cooking. But knitwear design is more about undoing than doing most days, and swatching only tells half the tale. Each stitch needs to be carefully plotted and counted, deeming each soft undulating cable a math equation rather than a recipe for comfort. All that said, the thick luxury of the woolens beneath my fingers inspire me to keep knitting and tinking and knitting and tinking. Much like soup, it feeds my soul. And I always have the joyful wild freedom to add to my stash carefree to balance out the duties of design, whether my wallet appreciates that or not.
Big sigh of relief. This pattern is finally complete! It’s the most challenging pattern I’ve written to date. That is, challenging to write, literally. Hopefully, I’ve devised a pattern that is easy as pie for you to read and knit. There are detailed instructions for less experienced knitters, and those of you who have a few more miles of knitting under your belt should be able to take it and run. Lots of pictures (and big thanks to Sara Jensen Photography for the best ones!), helpful links, and in the end you will have one cute topper for your favorite babe.
I love my unwavering belief that I am going to just sit down with my yarn and needles and whip something new out. Beautiful. Inspired. And get it right the first time. I apparently refuse to learn. Things like this happen.