Challenge Accepted… AND Completed

Several months ago, I posted about participating in Jill Wolcott’s Finishing Challenge, and I figured it’s high time I share what I finished. 🙂

Although I did not start this year expecting to go all in on challenge, I seem to have embraced being challenged, as I also completed #75Hard after I finished this one. This has certainly been a challenging year, and apparently I unintentionally adopted the theme.

Here’s the thing about challenges, whether you choose them or they choose you: they are NOT fun while doing them, but if you persevere and meet them to the best of your ability, you WILL become a stronger person. You WILL find strength you didn’t know you possessed, and you WILL accomplish what you didn’t know you could. Anyway my friends, that is my message for you today, which I hope will encourage you during a year that has been challenging for all of us.

Now on to the fun stuff – which projects came out of their naughty corners? Read on…

Taking a break during seaming…
Hexagon Throw by Kristin Nicholas
Put it on the couch…
Hexagon Throw by Kristin Nicholas
…but discovered it’s big enough to be a bed spread!

This is from one of Kristin Nicholas’s books about home decor, and I had done the crocheting of all the hexagons in California. Then we started the cross-country moving process, it all got packed, and then even after it got unpacked, the last thing I was in the mood to do was seam 40 or 50 hexagons together. Plus weave in the ends. Yuck. This is the project I took on first during the challenge because it was the one I was dreading the most. I would advise this as a life motto – get the hardest thing out of the way first! 🙂

knitted dish cloths
I may never buy dish cloths again
Isn’t that the prettiest stack of cotton you’ve ever seen?

After my 20 hours of seaming hexagons and weaving in ends, I figured it was time for a quick win. I hate weaving in ends as much as I hate seaming hexagons, so I had quite the stack of wash cloths sitting around. (You may be sensing a theme of how projects end up in the naughty corner around here, and you are correct.) One of the things I realized in this challenge was that I really need to commit to finishing before starting new projects. It didn’t take me very long to get this stack done so it could finally move from my pile of unfinished projects into the linen closet, so I cannot offer any good reason why I procrastinated so long on this one.

Sorry, my selfie game is not fabulous. This sweater, however, is. 🙂
The original pattern had cables on each side, but I preferred just to enjoy the color and keep it simple.

The Shimla sweater is another item I began in Burbank. This sweater was in Knitscene a few years ago, and I altered the pattern slightly because I didn’t like the cable that ran up each side. When I started Jill’s challenge, I had the second sleeve, the straps, and all the finishing work to do. If I’m honest, this sweater did not deserve to be in the naughty corner. It was just a matter of me getting bored and procrastinating about finishing it. There, I admitted it. 🙂 However, I have been wearing it constantly now that the weather is cooler. It goes with leggings and jeans, boots, and my slippers (important now that we are all staying home!). I am happy I got it done so I can wear it all winter.

My Boo, who has loved taking a nap in my knitwear since she was a wee kitten.
I started this as a log cabin blanket, but then I adapted the pattern to my own liking, and I think it turned out a bit like an Op Art piece.

I have always wanted to make a log cabin afghan because I love the idea of incorporating all the geometrics in quilts into knitting. But instead of the traditional log cabin pattern, I decided just to keep knitting around and around until I got to my desired size. I love the finished piece, which is on my couch currently, most likely with one of the pets curled up on it. This is probably the project that had the shortest time in the procrastination corner. I started it in December 2019, got a very long way on it, and then put it aside due to boredom. But I decided I was so close to the end, I might as well get it done during the challenge.

Debbie Bliss Basketweave Scarf

This scarf is one of the rare projects I’ve done in which I followed the pattern exactly, right down to buying the exact same yarn in the exact same colorway listed in the pattern. It is also the oldest project in the bunch. It must have sat around for at least 5 years, if not more. Why? Because basketweave stitch is ALL cables, and to knit a large scarf like this, it feels like endless fiddly knitting. This yarn is very splitty, which added to the tedium. I absolutely love the end result, and and my version looks as beautiful as the magazine cover where I first saw this pattern, but I won’t be clamoring to make another one any time soon.

It is my very first attempt at knitting cables, but I can’t say it did much to make me enthusiastic about cabling. If you are learning a new technique, obviously you need lots of repetition to get comfortable with it. However, once that initial challenge is overcome, projects like this can get tedious so fast! I did feel myself picking up some speed at the end, but even after making such a large scarf, I still can’t get a rhythm with cabling. If anyone has suggestions for enjoyable cable patterns, or tips for how to get in the flow with it, please share. 🙂

Just a little peek at one of the slip stitch designs I’ve been talking about for so long now. Coming very soon, I promise!

By the time I finished everything I already posted above, I had only a few hours left before the challenge was over. I figured I deserved a reward, so I decided to spend those last few hours knitting the third panel of my own slip stitch afghan design. I took this photo at the start so I could see how many inches it grew in a few hours, and I am happy to say that when you hunker down to see how much you can get done in a few hours, you may be surprised. Focus is everything! I am very happy to say I am very close to getting this pattern and a new shawl pattern published, both of which focus on slip stitching and color. I hope you enjoyed this sneak peak!

Will You Join Me in Joining a KAL?

lopi sweater KAL
Ready to swatch for my lopi sweater

I have wanted to make a lopi sweater for about as long as I’ve been knitting. When I saw this post, and realized today is February 1, I knew it was a sign that now is my time! 🙂

I am planning to knit Antipodal, although mine will be a closer-fitting version. This design has the bonus feature of being reversible, which seems unusual to me.

Above, you can see the yarns I’m hoping to use (all out of my stash), although this might change if my swatches don’t thrill me.

If you’re not crazy about my choice, or if you’d prefer to knit a cardigan, you should definitely check out the other options listed in Berrocco’s post.

I hope this will inspire you to join the fun, and if you do, please share with the rest of us! 🙂 I always welcome your photos for this or anything else on my Facebook. Of course, Berroco has a Ravelry group where everyone involved in the KAL can share progress and discuss their patterns.

FO: Faith

charity knitting for Alice's Embrace

Most of you probably think I’ve disappeared, so I’m sorry for the lack of posts! I have done alot of knitting, including knitting for another designer, and also had to get through the end of the school year, which is always as busy as the week before Christmas.

charity knitting for Alices Embrace

I finished another piece for Alice’s Embrace, and this one is particularly close to my heart because I made it for the husband of the friend I lost.

charity knitting for Alices Embrace

The pattern is Faith, and I love both the name and the pattern. To see it in photos, however, it has to be viewed from an angle, almost like illusion knitting. I am very happy with how this turned out.

alices embrace
The entire prayer shawl, viewed from the top.

elizabeth kay booth knits for alices embraceIt is not one of those patterns you can memorize very easily, but is so pretty I definitely want to make more. I paired a brighter green yarn with a more muted olive green strand, and I love the effect. This is definitely a trick I will use again in the future.

Please share in my Ravelry group if you have been doing charity knitting – I would love to see your pieces!

A Re-Knit – For Myself

chevronyarnbomb
I yarn-bombed my tree just for this post. 🙂

I designed this quite some time ago, originally with Zen Yarn Garden, and so they have had it ever since as a sample for use in trunk shows. I always wanted to make one for myself, and so on and off all year, when I just wanted some “fun” knitting (as opposed to “work” knitting), I have been working on this re-knit, this time in yarn from my stash.

The black is from Knit One, Crochet Too, and the blue is from Sweet Georgia. I still absolutely love this pattern, and I could probably just knit versions of it in different colors for the rest of my life.

The fellow in the photos with me is our rescue dog, and he decided to join the photo shoot. I felt he was deserving, as he does very frequently keep me company when I’m working. He is such good company, I try to indulge him when possible.

It isn’t very often I re-knit things. Usually, once is enough and then I’m ready to move on. I am actually very proud of myself for designing something I want to make and re-make….and re-make….

If you have patterns you love to re-knit, tell me in the comments. I always think it’s great to have a few up my sleeve.

 

KnitCliks

I love the story behind this site, as collecting knitwear ideas from random sources is something I’ve constantly done on my own. I love that there is a site to go to where it’s all in one place! These two friends also happen to be knitwear designers, and so their site is nicely curated to include helpful information as well as inspiration. Enjoy!

A New Design Inspiration

OntheWaytotheMetro

My husband used to commute to Culver City, which is a horrible drive, traffic-wise, from Burbank. Instead of driving, I used to drive him to the metro station, where he’d hop a train for the rest of the way. Usually, by the time he was done with work and back off the train ready for me to pick him up, the sun was setting. I snapped this photo as inspiration for a design, which I’m very close to finishing. I love the way the poles all line up with the sky doing a beautiful color change.

I haven’t posted as much lately because I’ve been working nonstop, but this is a little teaser of my newest pattern, which I will publish as soon as I find the time to finish knitting it. It’s a scarf, which I was originally doing with stranded colorwork, but then decided to reknit using the shadow knitting technique I just learned. The stranded piece was coming out nicely, but I realized the concept was perfectly suited for shadow knitting. However, I am thinking of writing both versions of the pattern to release together. What do you think?

Woolful

I visited this blog to read the interview with Stephen West, and then found myself scrolling and reading more. Then I realized you can buy wool from her, listen to a podcast, and just generally envelop yourself in the world of making and fiber. Another talented knitter putting some beauty and inspiration out there for the rest of us. Enjoy!

Soothing Summer Knitting

Front View
Front View

3/4 view - so you can see the sleeves better
3/4 view – so you can see the sleeves better

The last month and a half has been so crazy and hectic for me that I wanted a soothing, relaxing project that didn’t require a whole lot of pattern memorization and brainpower from me. I also wanted a super cool, neutral, versatile summer top to wear with everything all summer. (Summer starts early in LA – it’s already been about 100 every day this week!) This pattern fit the bill on all counts, and I may even make another one with some different yarn!

Vogue Knitting Live Tip #1: Swatching

Swatches from Lorilee Beltman's Vertical Color Stranding Class
Swatches from Lorilee Beltman’s Vertical Color Stranding Class

As previously mentioned, I booked myself as many classes at Vogue Knitting Live as I could. It’s not every week that I have the chance to study with the best of the best, so I took full advantage when I had the opportunity! I’m generally a pretty adventurous knitter – I don’t really care about making mistakes if I have the opportunity to learn something, but I do get very frustrated if I spend alot of time on something and then can’t use it once it’s done. As with so many problems in knitting, the answer is to swatch.

I took a class in vertical color stranding in cables with Lorilee Beltman. The swatches in the photo above are from that class, although we only had time to do two of them in the class period. I knitted the rest at home because I didn’t want to forget how to do it, and I wanted to explore it further. As a designer who is moved first by color, this class was incredibly inspiring. I have never done this technique, so Lorilee opened a whole new world to me. It is a bit involved, and to be honest, I was very happy to learn it in a class instead of staying up half the night watching Youtube videos like I usually do when I’m figuring things out on my own. (For those of you who are wondering what this is, it’s a way of introducing different colored strands of yarn that work their way up your knitting without having to be wrapped and twisted as in Fair Isle or intarsia.)

I took other classes over the weekend also, which I will be sharing soon. However, all weekend long, I heard a recurring theme from all of the teachers, which was to swatch, swatch, swatch. After learning my lesson the hard way once, I have always been a person who swatches to get gauge before casting on for a garment. This truly is the best way to ensure that a garment will fit! But I’ve never really thought of swatching as a learning tool until I kept hearing every teacher mention it last weekend. Of course, it’s common sense. If you want to try or explore a new technique, there is no better way to do it than to work through a series of swatches. You can try all the variations without having to knit an entire sweater or shawl. Of course, if you are knitting a garment, it’s advisable to knit bigger swatches to get a feel for the drape of the fabric.

I was a bit burned out this week, as you might imagine (see my previous post). However, I did spend alot of time knitting swatches based on the things I learned in class. It was really relaxing and stimulating to simply knit swatches without having to worry just yet about how I’d apply it to a design. If you have certain techniques you’re interested in learning, I would encourage you to browse the knitting books at your local library, and start knitting swatches. Even though it feels like you’re not accomplishing much, you are expanding your skills and it will pay off when you start a new project!

Thanks to the teachers I was privileged to study with, I will now look at swatching as a chance to explore, rather than as a chore that needs to be done before I start a project. I hope you will too.

Fun Studio Updates

I occasionally get in moods where I want to switch up my studio. The truth is, I’m not an overly organized person, and when I’m working, I’m very messy. I have books and yarn and supplies out everywhere, not to mention notebooks and sketchbooks because I take extensive notes about everything I do when I’m writing patterns. It doesn’t bother me when I’m working, but when I stop and look around me, I get the urge to reorganize and clear the decks. I love those magazine photos of artists’ studios in which there are pretty displays of markers and pencils, stacks of neatly folded and color-coordinated fabrics, and shelves of yarn that look as beautiful as a yarn store. A girl can dream, yes?

My problem, which is a problem for many others too, is that I don’t have dedicated studio space. I work in my living room, which must be shared with the whole family. So when I buy things for my “studio”, I have to be mindful that they are fun for me, but still suitable for a living room. If you are looking for some fun little updates, check out this site and do a search for one or all of these terms: yarn, crochet, knitting and have fun choosing. You can thank me later. 🙂