Q for You: Do you add it up?

Q for You: Do you add it up?

I recently did something I try never to do: I calculated stitches and rows and yardage for something at the ultra-granular level. It was the collar of my blue Bellows. I realized I didn’t think I was going to have enough yarn, which is a thing that happens, right? Normally in such a situation, I’ll weigh my yarn, knit a row, re-weigh to see how much the row used and thus how much yardage that was, and assess the situation based on how many rows are left. However, I try to keep it as general as possible. I only want to know as much as I actually need to know. With that shawl collar — it’s basically like knitting a third sleeve — there are short rows involved (not as straightforward to calculate since each one is literally a different length), plus I had the idea that I might reduce the total number of rows. There were variables and mitigating factors. The only thing I could do was knit a row, calculate the weight/yardage used; do the math to figure out exactly how many stitches a short-row sequence amounted to; count the number of full rows and short-row sequences; and tally it all up. Only by knowing exactly how many stitches it would be could I determine how much yarn I needed. (Spoiler alert: I didn’t have enough.)

It’s the first time in my knitting life that I ever could answer the question “How many stitches is that?” And let me tell you: I did not love knowing. In fact, I’ve since repressed the number. I remember only that it was in the thousands — and that’s just the collar! At bulky gauge, no less. Since then there was that hat where I did increasingly gain a heightened awareness of how many stitches x how many rows, just because it was so much more knitting than a typical worsted-weight hat and I was on a deadline — but I still never multiplied those numbers!

I’ve always been amazed at how many people do this math regularly and on purpose. There are those of you who like to be able to say how many stitches, how many miles of yarn, how many minutes or hours were involved. In so many facets of my life, I am like that. But with knitting, I don’t want to know. The only thing I ever do in that regard is sometimes I’ll time myself to see how long one repeat of a chart takes, or two inches of knitting, or something broad like that, and I do it to set realistic expectations with myself. Like: If one chart repeat takes 1.5 hours, you can expect to knit maybe a few repeats per week, so what does that mean for the expected lifespan of the project. That’s the most I ever want to know.

Yardage-wise, I typically weigh a finished project to see how much yarn got used. That’s it.

So that’s my Q for You today: Are you a tabulator? Do you add it all up, or keep yourself in the dark, or are there in-between cases like mine? I look forward to your answers, and wish all of you a very happy weekend!

Oh, and p.s.: the Wabi Mitts kits are back in stock!

Pocket notebook from Fringe Supply Co.


PREVIOUSLY in Q for You: What’s your knit-stitch happy place?




Queue Check — March 2018

Queue Check — March 2018

So I never did a February Queue Check. Life was turmoil, and I was just plugging away on the four hats. With those now complete (1, 2, 3, 4), the blue Bellows shelved till next year, and my last sweater having been finished on New Year’s Eve, I’ve found myself with something resembling a clean slate. Or, the more clear-eyed version: a selection of abandoned projects. I promised myself I’d be more focused on knitting from stash this year, plus I really want to clear things away, which means my attention has turned to the contents of the four Porter Bins on my WIP shelf:

– One of them contains my rotating pile of leftovers and singles that I’m still (and likely forever) transforming into Log Cabin Mitts. So that’s fine.

– A second contains a few odds and ends that need putting away, along with a skein of yarn awaiting my attention — for a pattern I’ve promised and won’t be able to talk about.

– The oldest of them is the long-abandoned Sawkill Farm sleeves, which I have every intention of knitting a sweater body for — now more than ever, most likely a Trillium cardigan — but not right away.

– And the fourth is the carcass of the grey summer cardigan I gave up on last year and have yet to frog. This is the one I’m dealing with first.

The yarn is one of my favorites — O-Wool Balance — and I have a cardigan’s worth. So what to do? I love this organic 50/50 wool-cotton blend, and love it best in stockinette. Every time Bob wears his green sweater, I just want to hug it. I mean, him. But this shade, Talc, is unlike the others — it has no heatheriness, no real variation in tone. It’s just a flat medium-light grey that leaves me cold. I thought it might benefit from some allover texture — from lights and darks being cast across the surface — and swatched for that cute little Massaman top, but the combination of this color and that waffle stitch was just plain homely. (This is why we swatch, friends!) The yarn wants to be stockinette but the color needs … something. So thinking further about it and my stash, I swatched it held double (on US8s) with some ivory Pebble left over from my striped raglan, washed it, and this I love. To the point of carrying it around with me, abusing it, petting it, whispering sweet nothings in its ear, not wanting to be away from it.

I’m stuck on the idea of a little sleeveless sweater that can be worn under a jacket or vest on cooler days and on its own on warmer ones, so I sketched three or four ideas and cast on for one of them (just stockinette with reverse-St side panels) before realizing what I really want is a sweater version of a top I used to own and wore to tatters. It was sweatshirt fleece sewn into a sleeveless top with crewneck and armbands and a wide waistband. Even that trademark V patch at the neck. So that may be what I’m making, or by the time I get to the upper region, it may become a sweatshirt. I do have enough yarn for that, after all, and with the cotton content and looser gauge, this would fit the bill of what I was talking about yesterday. So I’m torn, but planning to listen to it as it grows up and see what it wants to be.

Either way, it will factor neatly into my spring wardrobe planning, coming up next week!

OK, this is funny. In adding the links throughout this post, I found myself on last March’s Queue Check, subtitled “A whole new queue.” I’m writing above about the fate of that first item, and finished the second one earlier this year. (I’m wearing it as I type.) For the rest of the items listed in that post, there has either been progress (e.g. a grey Junegrass pullover, just a different pattern; a different chunky shawl-collar in progress, etc.) or the plans remain exactly the same. That makes me feel so good. ;)

Porter Bin and Fashionary sketch template from Fringe Supply Co.

Queue Check — March 2018

PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: January 2018



So long, winter wardrobe: Notes for next year

So long, winter wardrobe: Notes for next year

The trees around Nashville began to bloom in the third week of February this year, following several weeks of mild weather … which followed those few weeks of uncommon cold around the turn of the year. So having a string of last-minute days in the 40s and 50s this week has me feeling all nostalgic and squeezing in these last few wears of some of my warmer sweaters, albeit with lighter layers and, in some cases, exposed ankles. Still, there’s no denying it’s Spring, and I’m eager to do some seasonal wardrobe planning, but first wanted to make some notes for next year:

1) My sweaters skew too warm
At this point, I’ve knitted myself a lovely collection of sweaters for a person who lives at least one zone north of me. With the lone exception of my striped raglan, they are hardy wools and either worsted gauge or heavier. That was all well and good during that extreme cold snap, but it means I’m at a bit of a loss during more typical Nashville weather. That said, I’m not kicking anything out of the closet, or deaccessioning any of my remaining wool sweater quantities. Next fall, I’ll finish the blue Bellows (and figure out how to wear it) and allow myself a turtleneck to replace my sad ratty old one, but other than that, I need to think about lighter and/or non- (or not 100%) wool sweaters, and to be really strategic about what happens to the rest of the wool in my stash. Which means cardigans, lighter fabrics (as opposed to densely packed cables), abbreviated shapes, etc.

2) Monotony and claustrophobia are cousins
My winter outfit plan did eventually start to feel a bit stiflingly formulaic. I think it’s relevant that this is also the most bothered I’ve ever been by the short days, which may in turn be related to how cold it was for part of this year. This winter made me feel claustrophobic, and my wardrobe monotony contributed to that. (As I’m typing this, I’m realizing the actual weight of my sweaters likely played an unconscious role, as well.)

3) More shoes, please
Leaving myself with really only one pair of winter shoes didn’t help, especially as they were stiff and hard-soled. I’m so ready to be free of those boots! Which, for a boot lover like me, is really saying something.

4) Lighten up
Last year’s key message to myself was this reminder: “… what I want after New Year’s is completely different from what I want during the Fall and holidays. I always have an urge to lighten up — the things that felt cozy a week or three earlier suddenly feel dour and depressing — once we’re headed downhill toward Spring.” Having that in mind, I did set myself up with a lighter palette this year, overall, and have appreciated that. So the takeaway from that plus all of the above is to continue to lighten up, in every sense.

In the next few weeks, I will still be able to wear some of the sweater-over-my-shoulders looks seen in the Big Rubble post, the November outfits and the Paris packing plans. But other than that, I’m thinking about spring/summer sweaters — what that really means to me — and spring wardrobe planning overall. More on that very soon!


PREVIOUSLY in Wardrobe Planning: Instant sweater No. 1



ScandinAndean earflap hat (2018 FO-10)

ScandinAndean earflap hat

The last of the four February hats was the one I was the most nervous about: the earflap hat for my 10-year-old niece. In addition to being the one where the fit could go really wrong — there being no ribbing to simply hug the head, and que sera from there up — I was making up the pattern and adding colorwork into the mix. So many opportunities for it to go wrong! Plus with my sister’s Første having taken two weeks to knit, I had two days to get this one done and blocked. No room for error. Thankfully, it worked out beautifully!

I was initially planning to use Purl Soho’s Top Down Ear Flap Hat pattern but was concerned it would be too thin, not warm enough — even with the little bit of stranded colorwork I planned to add — plus it would have taken longer at that gauge. So I decided to improvise a version of it at worsted gauge. A good yellow (as had been requested) is not super easy to come by, plus my niece is very crafty and I’ve passed on my love of yarn to her, so I decided I’d hit up my sweet friend Brooke of Sincere Sheep when I got to Stitches West, knowing she has a good naturally-dyed yellow in her palette, and I’ve been wanting to knit with her U.S. Cormo Worsted. Armed with the perfect skein, I swatched and measured and calculated. I’d be working at a gauge of 4.75 sts and 7 rows per inch, with a target size of 20″ circumference (92 sts) and 8″ depth (56 rounds).

At that point, there was nothing to do but knit — and hope it worked out. Rather than doing the top the way the Purl pattern has it, I split the crown stitches into 6 sections and increased every row thrice, then every-other row until I had 92 sts. (A total of 24 rounds for the crown.) On the first work-even round, I started the lice stitch — using leftover yarn from her mother’s cable hat — spacing them every fourth stitch (staggered) every third round. I wound up doing 9 stranded rounds, stopping a few rows shy of my intended depth. Then I took a good hard look at the stitch counts and ratios from the Purl pattern to determine how to divide up my sts for the ear flaps, which worked out to 20 sts for the back, 22 for each flap, and 28 for the front. Then I followed the decrease logic in the pattern, decreasing down to 3 sts instead of 4; worked 56 rows of I-cord; and did the tassels as per the pattern. And voilà: adorable.

I love how the ivory lice stitch breaks up the semi-solidness of the hand-dyed yarn, and totally love this yarn. As I was knitting the colorwork, I was feeling like Is it weird I’m using this Scandinavian lice stitch pattern on an Andean-inspired hat?, but I decided to just call it ScandinAndean and embrace how cute it is. Mashups for the win!

ScandinAndean earflap hat

So I’m very happy with how the four of them worked out: My sister and brother-in-law both got cable hats with a very similar motif played out a bit differently, at different scale. And the kids both wound up with earflap hats — my nephew’s squishy helmet and this darling cap for my niece. It warms my heart to know the four Floridians are somewhere in the Colorado Rockies right now, feeling toasty in their handknit hats.


PREVIOUSLY in FOs: Log Cabin Mitts No.6








Logalong FO No. 2 : Ann Shayne

Logalong FO No. 2 : Ann Shayne

Our second Log Cabin Make-along Panelist to cross the finish line is the lovely Ann Shayne, whose talent competition entry is her sure-to-be-prizewinning blanket combining Sequence Knitting textures with Log Cabin modularity. (That is, if she’s brave enough to go up against crowd favorite DG Strong at the state fair.) As you’re about to hear, Ann’s blanket is basically a 5-foot-square love letter to knitting itself, and she’s shared the recipe for it and lots more photos over at Mason-Dixon Knitting. Here she is to tell us all about how it came to be, and how it turned out — thanks, Ann!

. . .

You’re the only one of the panelists to knit that most traditional of log cabin projects — the blanket. You’ve knitted a fair number of log cabin blankets before, and yet you found a way to make it completely new and not at all traditional. You’re also the reason we coined the term “Mock cabin,” as you were working from a mélange of inspirations: log cabin, sequence knitting, blankets done in strips, etc. Remind us how this idea came together in your head, and how do you feel about how it came together in 3D?

First of all, you need to know that this has been the most fun I’ve ever had knitting. The combination of a yarn I love, an open-ended set of knit-purl patterns, and a knitalong to motivate me: wow. I’ve never made a blanket in eight weeks. Thank you for this knitalong, Karen! Amazing.

I started with the Ninepatch Blanket (a pattern in MDK Field Guide No. 4: Log Cabin)—I like the play of squares and proportion in that blanket. But having just published MDK Field Guide No. 5, all about knit-and-purl sequence knitting, I couldn’t see making a giant garter-stitch blanket — I wanted to play with sequences. That meant an instant diversion from the Ninepatch pattern, but not from the basic idea of blocks knitted one onto the next.

By the time I finished figuring out the plan, the Ninepatch idea had morphed. I scaled up the squares so that the sequences would read better. I ditched the miters in the corners. I was all about the textures and variety of sequences. And colors — a big part of the fun in the knitting was playing with the placement of the eight colors.

You and I talked at one point about how vast you were originally going to make this beast, and ways you could edit it down a bit. You wound up trimming out a few of the originally planned rows for a large throw size — although it might seem smallish to the uncommonly tall members of your household. Are you happy you scaled it down, or wishing you’d gone all the way? (Of course, it’s modular — you can add on anytime you like!)

Extremely glad to have scaled it down—I believe it was you who pointed out that I could finish faster if I … just ditched some strips. It’s 5 feet by 5 feet, and it seems to be about the same size as my other knitted blankets. The TV room is starting to look like a knitted blanket store.

I love that you’ve used this very traditional Irish donegal yarn for your #traditionalnottraditional blanket. Your original comment on this is one of my all-time favorites knitterly observances: “I want a blanket that will hold up like a Yeats poem.” Happy with how that worked out?

I continue to adore this yarn. I just returned a few of the unused skeins to our Shop, and I was actually sad. Tahki Donegal Tweed has been around since 1968, and there’s a reason for that. This blanket will outlive me, and that makes me weirdly happy.

You also posed some questions to yourself at the outset of this: “Will the various sequences hold up visually and read as squares? Will the colors fall in an amiable way? Will I ever fix dinner again, or will I vanish in the delicious Bermuda Triangle of log cabin sequence knitting?” So … ?

The squares turned out well. Loved seeing the textures emerge. As the strips of squares accumulated, I started to care more about how the sequences would land next to each other. There are definitely varieties of knit-and-purl sequences — some are flat, some are dimensional. Some read really easily, and others are so subtle that it takes 30 rows of knitting even to know what the texture looks like. I’d like a mulligan on a few of the squares—subtle textures on a dark yarn don’t sing, and the pleated sequences need to be surrounded by non-pleated sequences.

The colors landed OK. I did a last-minute 180 on one of the strips, which caused two dark squares to land next to each other, which I had wanted to avoid.

Dinner fixing? Maybe next month?

You’ve been smitten with log cabin for years, whereas this whole sequence knitting thing is a new infatuation. How do you rank them? And what’s it really like to take two highly addictive knitting concepts and meld them into one project? I’d ask if you’ll ever be able to knit stockinette again, but you’ve just banged out a Carbeth.

Sequence knitting is something I’m evangelical about. Find peace through knit-and-purl patterns! Life is so great when you’re knitting sequences! I want everybody to try it, because there’s such surprise and fun to be had. And yes — it works, totally, to combine log cabin knitting with sequence knitting.

You also noted in opening remarks that you didn’t want to include miters in this blanket, which are central to the original Ninepatch Blanket you’ve modeled it on, “because sequence knitting in miters would be a tricky thing to pull off.” Still feel that way, or have you already formulated a new project that does exactly that? If not that, what is next for you and log cabin, do we know?

It’s going to be fun to figure that out.


PREVIOUSLY in Logalong FOs: No. 1 – My fingerless mitts

Elsewhere + Mitts No.6 (2018 FO-9)

Elsewhere + Mitts No.6 (2018 FO-9)

Before I get into today’s post, I want to say a huge heartfelt thank-you for all the nice messages and positive thoughts you’ve sent my way these past two weeks. Bob is thankfully on the mend and on the receiving end of nothing but good news and results from his doctors. He’s got a few weeks of rehab and healing ahead, and then will be back in his studio painting, and back in the pool training for the Alcatraz swim he’s had planned. So all is well, we are exiting the woods, and thank you so much. Phew!

Now, back to business: In recent days, I managed to finish up the pair of Log Cabin Mitts I was knitting in the Verb booth at Stitches West the weekend before last. (Gosh that seems like forever ago now.) This pair is made from one of the kits they had made for the booth (there are just a handful left on their site), and oh how I love this yarn. For this pair, given that I was literally knitting them on the fly and in public, I decided to totally wing it on the color placement, and just let it be freeform. Well, ok maybe not totally. The only thing I had in mind as I picked up each next color was that I had chosen the Mountains colorway — natural, super pale grey, light mushroom and a variegated grey-purple — and I did want to make a vague allusion to that in my “random” composition. I mentioned in my previous post that I’m headed into the asymmetrical part of my sketch pile, but this one isn’t even planned asymmetry, and I love how they came out. Here they are at Ravelry if you care to put a like on them!

And with that, a bit of Elsewhere:

It’s March Mayhem time at MDK! (And also the Tournament of Books, my longtime favorite March event.)

A concise but informative update to Jared’s long-ago long-form piece about the difference between woolen-spun and worsted-spun yarns

In the realm of knitalong prizes, a night at Squam is pretty up there

Love this QuiltCon People’s Choice winner

“In just 4 days, top fashion CEOs earn a garment worker’s lifetime pay”

Even prettier than an Easter egg

– and just everything about this

IN SHOP NEWS: We finally have both size sets of Lykke Driftwood DPNs back in stock! As well as the sheep scissors, which we can’t seem to replenish fast enough! We also now have all of the Mini Porters from the sewers, so when they’re gone, they’re gone.

I’ll be back next week with the first of the Logalong panel FO Q&A’s! Have a great weekend in the meantime—


PREVIOUSLY in FOs: A hat to rival Gentian





New Favorites: Ply

New Favorites: Ply

When Emily Greene’s cardigan pattern Ply first showed up on Ravelry late last year, I liked it but didn’t quite love it somehow. But then at Stitches West she came walking into the booth wearing it and I was instantly convinced that I want it in my closet. It’s a pretty simple V-neck, stockinette cardigan, but the details (especially all those doubled facings and hems) make it special. Officially in my queue.


PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Textured mitts