Q for You: What’s your progress blocker?

Q for You: What's your knitting progress blocker?

I’m pretty sure “stuck on sleeve island” is the most frequent lament among knitters (which you know I don’t understand!) but I suspect we have a wide array of idiosyncratic responses as far as what part of the knitting process stalls our progress or even robs us of mojo, in some cases. No doubt for a lot of knitters it’s seaming, and thus the need to seam is avoided altogether. That’s another one I don’t get — seaming is like performing a little magic trick, although it does tend to put a halt to progress in that I only do it during daylight hours. So unless I happen to finish something on a Thursday night, have it blocked and dried by Saturday morning, and have a corresponding chunk of free time that very weekend, there will almost always be a lull while something awaits seaming. But the real mojo thief for me is picking up stitches.

Picking up stitches is the other thing I only do in daylight, so there’s that, but I don’t actually dislike it. In fact, the neat-freak part of me takes pleasure in that nice tidy column of stitches running up along the needle, in marking off matching sections and making sure I’m picking up identical numbers of stitches for perfect symmetry. I honestly have no idea why I dread doing it, and yet it is almost always the source of a disruption in forward progress. This poor vest spent three weeks waiting for me to have the right spot of daylight to seam it, after which I forged right into picking up armhole stitches in hopes of avoiding a cessation, but I picked up too few in my haste, and now I wonder how long it will be before I pick it up again. And I really want this vest!

So that’s my primary progress blocker and my Q for You: What is yours?

(Needles, removable stitch markers and notebook from Fringe Supply Co.)

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Me-Made May the Bujo way

Me-Made May bullet journal habit tracker

Hi, my name is Karen and I’m a data nerd. I love information design, bullet journaling and long walks on the beach at sunset.

But seriously, here’s how I’ve set up the aforementioned Me-Made May tracker in my mini bullet journal. In designing the layout, I wanted to track how often I wear me-mades, the average percentage I wear as a proportion of any outfit, plus literally what garments I wore and which category they fall into. I couldn’t bring myself to make it just me-made vs ready-to-wear, since some things literally fall in between — like second-hand jeans, an upcycled State Smock (especially if I dyed it), a refashion, a RTW tee I screenprinted, etc. So there’s MM (me-made), H (hybrid) and RTW along the right side of the tracker for breaking each outfit into its parts. And then along the right of the spread there’s the Wear Count. I can fit about 30 garments into the page, which should be more than enough. When I set that 20×30 challenge for myself a couple of Octobers ago, I wound up wearing not quite 20, I think. But instead of pre-picking them, or necessarily enforcing a limit, I want to allow for that to take shape somewhat naturally. Of course, there’s some serious Observer Effect at play here, since this will make me more self-conscious as I’m getting dressed about whether I’m wearing me-made and what and how often. But it’s more game than science experiment, so that’s cool.

Me-Made May bullet journal wear count tracker

If I keep it up, I’ll do the following and share the results —

TO BE TALLIED:
– the number of days I wore something me-made
– the average percentage of MM worn
– the total instances of MM | H | RTW items
– what garments I wore
– how many of those garments are me-made (denoted by a bullet in the list)

(Dot-grid memo book from Fringe Supply Co.)

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PREVIOUSLY in Me-Made May: My 2019 pledge (and more)

Queue Check — April 2019

I feel like nearly every time I make a list of things I intend to knit and/or sew, I’m almost guaranteed to make one or fewer of those things. Since the list I set out for myself last month, I added the possibility of a blanket/shawl for my niece, and in the interim I have worked on only one thing: the shawl-collar smock-vest situation above. Somehow it’s taken me a month to knit those three plain little pieces of fabric, but now the fun part starts!

I’ve had this idea before (for my vanilla cardigan) but am saying it out loud this time: I’m considering sewing canvas pockets onto this garment instead of knitted ones. I really like that combination and decided against it for the cardigan partly because it would have been too bulky to get under the foot of my machine. But it might work here …

Meanwhile, swatching for the prospective navy pullover.

I’ve also never really actively participated in Me Made May before, and probably won’t this year in any traditional sense (maybe the occasional mirror selfie on IG, dunno) but it seems like as good an excuse as any to dust off my sewing machine, which hasn’t been touched since last summer. So that’s my pledge: By this time next month, there will have been sewing. In addition to the patterns mentioned last month, I bought the new Wiksten Shift, so who knows what my Garment of Return will be. But I’ll be sure to tell you about it when it happens!

(Cocoknits Knitters Block kit and removable stitch markers from Fringe Supply Co.)

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PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: March 2019, a whole new queue

It fits!

It fits! Mini Solbein Cardigan on my nieces

Last week, holding my breath, I finally sent the tiny Sólbein Cardigan off to Texas to see who it would fit, and whether they would like it — either or both of my two littlest nieces. Friday afternoon, I got a text message from their mom saying it had been waiting for them when they got home from school and they couldn’t wait to try it on. When I saw the photos, my heart popped right out of my chest. It fits Miss M (above) perfectly, and she’ll likely still be able to wear it in the fall. Miss T (below) probably has a full year or more to outgrow it. And omg the cuteness of these two — I can’t even. Fortunately they’re good at sharing, since they apparently both love it and have been trading off since it arrived, as evidenced by the additional pics that came on Sunday. (There are a couple more on Ravelry.)

It fits! Mini Solbein Cardigan on my nieces

Their mom just found out she’s pregnant and expecting in October, and dropped a not-subtle hint that she’d love something for the baby in this same goldenrod yarn. Not having any idea how big the Sólbein would be (and assuming more like the pre-teen size of their older sister), I bought 5 skeins of the MC and only used about 1.25, so there’s plenty left over for matching projects. But I’ll keep any further details on that to myself for the moment …

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PREVIOUSLY in Fringe and Friends Steekalong: Sunny little Sólbein cardigan

Queue Check — March 2019: A whole new queue

Queue Check — March 2019: A whole new queue

Having wrapped up multiple projects for others lately and said “see you next year” to the bulky cardigan I started in December and won’t need till next December, I’m at a rare moment: A clean slate. And rather than rushing into anything that hadn’t been sufficiently thought through (which resulted in No. 2 below), I’ve been taking my time making my plans. But this is how they’re crystallizing:

1. The shawl-collar vest
After some deliberation (and discussion with you all) about using mismatched wool from my stash versus acquiring a more wearable cotton blend, I decided on the latter. I’ve bought a handful of skeins of Rosa Pomar’s Mungo — 50% recycled cotton and 50% recycled wool, all preconsumer mill waste — swatched a couple of ways, and am ready to cast on. The fabric is nothing at all like the Balance I know and love — it’s much more summery, more cottony, lighter — even though they’re both 50/50, so I’m eager to see how this goes.

2. The Luft mystery project
In the absence of any specific plan or outcome, and the presence of this swoony black Luft, I’ve been knitting it into a garter-stitch triangle, which may become a rectangle or a square, or may simply be ripped out. Only time will tell. But no moment spent with this yarn flowing through my fingers is wasted. It’s a therapy unto itself.

3. The navy pullover
I haven’t even so much as swatched, but I’m pretty certain the ultra-plain little navy pullover I’ve been wanting will be knitted from two strands of this deep dark blue Bummull. As it will probably be a simple stockinette top-down — a good pick-it-up-anytime project — I’m thinking of casting on and planning to knit it here and there between now and next fall, when I’ll be wanting it again.

4. The “kimono” jacket
While multiple brands have renamed their “kimono jackets” to the more accurate “haori,” the fact remains that this Assembly Line pattern I’ve purchased bears the name Kimono Jacket. But name aside, I’m super obsessed with this pattern, the shape of this jacket, and am planning to sew it up in navy linen, which I have a lot of in my stash from Eliz Suzann’s $2/lb garage sale a couple of summer ago — I’m just waiting for the pattern to arrive at my mailbox. This will be an excellent all-purpose garment throughout the year.

5/6. The pants
As previously noted, I’ve been thinking for a long time of sewing a pair of woven Hudson Pants, and think the guinea-pig fabric might be that stripe in my stash. (I still have those Jenni Kayne pants in my head.) But there’s also still the goal of the Carolyn Pajama pants in navy linen with black piping, for street wear. Not sure yet which will come first; either/both will be awesome with the jacket.

That should keep me busy for a little while!

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PREVIOUSLY in Queue Check: January 2019

Cabled husband hat (2019 FO-2)

Cabled Dad Hat knitting in progress with cat

While I debate with myself about which yarn I want to use for the shawl-collar vest idea and which pattern (and stash yarn) for a wrap, I’ve knitted a hat for my beloved. On Christmas day, we had turkey enchiladas with our close family-friends, the elder of which was wearing a hat Bob took one look at and flashed me a face that said “please!” After some investigation, it was established that my pal Jo had knitted it from Alexis Winslow’s pattern called Cabled Dad Hat. And it seemed like a perfect use for some of the leftover yarn from Bob’s sweater vest, so that’s what’s kept my hands busy on recent nights.

If you’ve seen previous years’ posts about hats for Bob, you may recall he likes a skullcap — won’t wear a beanie that comes down over his ears — but we’d agreed he needed one that could at least fold down over them when needed. To arrive at this outcome, and following Jo’s lead, I began the decreases at 6″ instead of 7″, which for me meant 5 repeats of the chart. (If I make it again, I might stop at 5″.) And then I also shortened the crown portion by speeding up the increases and knitting fewer total rows, which I did simply by decreasing on every round starting with crown row 13.

As usual with hats, I didn’t swatch, and it’s a tiny bit big so we’ll make an effort to shrink it just a touch. But overall, we’re both very happy with it — it’s a great pattern that was obviously more fun to knit than his usual stockinette-everything requests, and it’s nice to see some texture on him.

Cabled Dad Hat free knitting pattern by Alexis Winslow

I realized while finishing this up the other night that, as much as I’ve enjoyed knitting for him and my as-yet unspecified niece, it’s officially been too long since I knitted anything for myself. Time to solve for one or the other of those aforementioned cast-ons!

(Drawstring project bag and Lykke needles from Fringe Supply Co.)

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PREVIOUSLY in Finished Objects: Sunny little Sólbein cardigan

Sunny little Sólbein cardigan (2019 FO-1)

I know, right? It’s so cute. This is my first finish of the year — my miniaturized version of the Sólbein Cardigan from the #fringeandfriendssteekalong. The palette was inspired by Mary Jane’s pre-steekalong remarks about the inspiration for this motif having been the idea of fractured daylight falling across the surface of the sweater, which made me want to do it in a sunny yellow combo. And you’ll recall I decided to knit it at worsted gauge and let it come out child-sized, in the hopes that it would fit one of my little nieces. (Details on how I scaled it down — including yarns, needles and gauge — are all here.)

The only changes I made were to leave off the colorwork at the hem and cuffs, and to do the button bands in garter stitch (on US6) instead of ribbing. I had used an incredibly soft merino for the middle yellow and felt it was not going to have enough heft as a ribbed button band. Garter has that added density, and I think in this case it also contributes to the little-girl looks of it. The bone buttons came from Fringe Supply Co., and the ribbon (a gift) came from Fancy Tiger Crafts.

Sunny little Sólbein cardigan

It’s not my very best work, if I’m honest. You can see my colorwork is a little bit bunchy, especially in the 3-color rows, and this was my first time sewing ribbon onto a button band — despite having sworn I would how many times? My whipstitching is, um, inelegant (although I kind of like that about it) and the act of lashing the ribbon onto the knitted fabric caused the bands to lengthen a bit. It’s all fine — it’s full of love! — and the imperfections just make it less precious. I’m definitely not worried about anyone wearing it and messing it up!

I just hope they can wear it. I opted not to do any math ahead of time and just let fate determine the outcome, and it came out smaller than I’d imagined. I was secretly hoping it would fit either the 11- or 8 year-old in the group and be handed down from there. But in the end, I’m concerned it may be a hair too small for the youngest, two 5-year-olds. After finishing, it clocks in at about a 24″ circumference at the chest, 11″ sleeves, and 15″ from shoulder to hem. Which is sort of a 4-5 range?

Time to send it off and see! With fingers firmly crossed.

Happy weekend, everyone—

IN UNRELATED SHOP NEWS: We’ve got the new MDK Field Guide No. 10: Downtown in the shop this morning, patterns by Isabell Kraemer, along with a fresh batch of Bury Me totes, the waxed plum Field Bag and lots more …

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PREVIOUSLY in Fringe and Friends Steekalong: Highlights and random winners