Category Archives: In Stitches Knitting Blog

Where is my mojo!?

After my spring thaw sock failure, and my fun with Baby Yeti, I opted to knit the Juliet Cardigan – simple, not much more than a garter stitch and then a six row pattern repeat. I found this really wonderful soft ice pink Sandnes Garn Fiesta and set out to work.

The top knit up really fast and I was totally enjoying the mindless factor. The sweater is knit top down so I was able to try it on and make sure the armholes were long enough and keep going. It was a bit stretched – as only a heavier weight yarn and larger needles could be but I kept going. I will admit to this sneaking feeling of dread the more I did though. I cast off the final stitch on Friday night – all excited to find the perfect buttons. It looked big on the needles, but I figured it was just because it was all in one piece – I tried it on – total hugeness. Had I even entertained asking my 6’2″ boyfriend to try it on I’d venture to say it would be huge on him too – but lets face it – he’s just all man, the sweater was ice pink and it was just never going to happen. Seeing it swim on him while amusing would not eliminate the fact that it was just gigantic! What the !*&(@# – Could someone please tell me where my knitting mojo has gone?!

I actually threw it in the washer and dryer, figuring even though it was acrylic blend it would regain some of its snap from being weighted down on the needles…nope to quote my friend Dee who walked in just after it came out of the dryer “Wow its just massive isn’t it?!” While Dee’s lovely British accent and choice of words made it all sound so much more tolerable when she said it, truly when you come right down to it – it is just another knitting UGH! (funny – but totally pathetic!)

Seriously look at this thing – I mean its very pretty and all in spite of its size.

I took a correctly sized sweater made when I had my knitting mojo – even when I take into account that one is a short waist pullover and the other is supposed to be a longer cardigan the ridiculous factor, as embarrassing as it is – must be shared.

If there were knitting police, I swear they would either be writing me a ticket or revoking my needles or something. I just dont understand it – I’m careful, I swatch, I read the directions, I even check for tell me exactly how I came up with a sweater that is big enough to be a blanket for two people!

One more deep breath. I have a plan. I’m going to use a size smaller needle and one size smaller pattern. I will try on obsessively as I go, even if that means running a lifeline so I can try it off the needles. I’m frogging the big one and transforming it into one that fits. I may even knit directly from the oversized mess for that matter! I will not be swayed – you can’t have my needles, I will find my knitting mojo – who knows, maybe its buried in my stash somewhere?!

Baby Cuteness

Stitch and Bitch has been a great source of making new friends after moving. I love the company, the laughs and seeing what everyone is working on each Wednesday night. What I also love is watching the pregnant bellies of a few of our knitters grow. Its so much fun when its not you!

Without sounding ancient, it was more unusual for people to find out what sex child you were carrying when I was having my girls. I remember picking a both boy and girl nursery accessories and layettes and then having my mother call to tell the stores which to deliver. Of course knitting anything for a baby that wasnt yellow, white or green was a gamble – so I didnt do much baby knitting – which of course meant I missed out on all the fun of knitting little tiny baby sleeves and backs of sweaters that are the size of a dishcloth. I felt like I was working in miniature land!

First up – Raquel’s baby boy due next month. Navy blue Baby Yeti in a nice washable boucle

Two more bellies to watch grow – two more patterns to pick…

Sock Frustration

I’m totally in love with this spring thaw sock – I got on my way and it didn’t take much time to finish the first one at all – it fit when I turned the heel, so I went crazy and finished it. Its SO pretty

I couldnt wait to see it on my foot. Can you just hear me sighing from where you sit – the stupid beautiful wonderful sock is just a tad too big. Uggh! When measuring the row gauge I should have measured from the pattern and not the regular stockinette side. Yep I’m an idiot.

I’m in this “well its all experience” mode, so I decide I’m fearless and I do love the socks enough to want to do them really well – I’ll just start over and knit both together using the magic loop. In theory this is a very good idea – unless of course you are like me and tend to try to make knitting part of your chill out and be mindless activity. The supremely bad idea was trying to turn two heels watching two patterns that need to go in opposite directions all while relaxing in front of tv. I gave up after turning both heels a few times each and not getting the right number of stitches.

So sad….so now I have one beautifully knit sock that is too big and I’m not feeling like making another one to share – call me selfish but I want them for me.

My plan is to take a deep breath and a little break – and to find another winter white yarn that is more similar (if not exactly the same) to the one the pattern calls for.

I’m not giving up – I’m just looking at it as learning to calm my obsessive nature!

Sharing the love

Most people just dont realize the time (or expense) that goes into a hand knit project. I’ve always done little projects for people – flower wash cloths were a big gift for a while. They only take a few hours each to make and when packaged with a nice bar of soap, they make a nice gift.

Last year I got a bit more ambitious and made fuzzy feet for family and some close friends – Looking back I’m still wondering how I managed 9 pairs of slippers without going insane…then again I havent made a pair since (fuzzy feet burnout perhaps)

Of course there is that rare time that I knit specifically for someone else – like the stained glass felted bag for my mother. Huge project, but her excitement was contagious, so I finished it pretty quickly.

In the fall I started to wonder what do you do with projects you made that dont get worn or used. For example – the hat I made for myself that I just never wear (because I would rather cold ears than hat head). See now my friend Nancy thought it was perfect – and it fit her perfectly too.

Then there was the dance shrug that I made for my daughter that rarely got worn when she was home and then was left behind when she went off to college. Enter my friend Diane who dances all the time (yes my daughter said it was fine to give it a new home!). Diane wears it often and was even kind enough to tell me other dancers were envious (positive reinforcement is so nice you know!)

My latest share was with my friend Beth. I discovered her feet were a bit bigger than mine, I had my Crazy Monkey socks in my drawer, knowing that I’d never wear them with shoes because they were a tad too big so the heel was too far up for me. Beth was very happy to take my “Those Crazy Monkeys” socks off my hands (or feet if you want to be technical).

Maybe its having more time to knit than I used to, maybe I’m even knitting faster than before, but somehow I’m getting much more of a kick out of sharing my projects with people. Of course it will be a long time before I share my knits with people who dont understand my obsession – but I may even consider taking on a project that is meant for someone else from the start!

Fearless knitters

There’s been talk about fearless knitters online lately – taking on projects that you normally wouldnt. Trying things that you’ve stayed away from. But I have to remark on fearless knitters of another kind.

Wednesday July 23rd somewhere about 4:15 in the afternoon, the EAS warning comes over the TV – you know those “in the case of an actual emergency you would have been notified” etc etc messages. I seriously cant remember ever hearing anything other than the test message – until Wednesday when the message is, people in the Taunton area should take cover immediately, go to your basement, abandon mobile homes, if you’re outside find a ditch and cover your head” Are you seriously joking? Tornado warnings headed right for us – so I sat, freaking out in my basement watching the little pink dot get closer and closer as I contemplated if I needed to be just in the basement or if I should be hiding under our pool table! I watched, stayed on my cell phone and amused my family and friends with what a ridiculous chick I was.

All the while, I sat thinking – but there’s knitting tonight! Of course the pink dot went past, the sky never turned green, there was no tornado (lots of very heavy wind, massive thunder and lightening and downpours of rain, but no funnel clouds). The sun came out in plenty of time to gather up my projects and head to the other side of town.

I had pretty much figured that I was one of maybe a handful of people that would bother heading to knit tonight – but what can I say, I’m obsessed. Not only did we have 7 of our regulars, but we had 3, count em 3 new members to the Taunton Stitch and Bitch (welcome to Meghan, Caroline and Wendy!). I guess I’m not the only one who’s obsessed – and I guess we are all pretty fearless.

Great fun – even as the skies opened up when it was time to leave (aww what a shame, a few more rows got done).

I love our group – fearless in many ways!

Sock Obsession

While surfing I came across the new issue of Knitter’s, which had Cat Bordhi’s Spring Thaw Socks pattern in it. I have absolutely no idea why, but I became totally obsessed with knitting a pair. Knowing I would be traveling, I figured a pair of socks would be more portable and I just couldn’t put these in the queue – they had to be knit NOW!

Here’s when you know that you are ridiculously obsessed with a project. I started to knit my gauge swatch on Wednesday night – I was way over. Even moving down a size needle I was still way off. I had selected a yarn that I thought was the correct weight, but turns out it was double strand…oh well…off to the stash it goes. Most normal people would just put the project aside and wait until they got back to find the right yarn. Remember though, I’m obsessed, and these socks were screaming “make me” to me. I ran to KG Krafts in the morning as soon as I was finished packing so I could get replacement yarn and smaller needles to ensure I could get gauge. I make it back just in time to get my bags in the car and head to the airport (congrats to my boyfriend for not uttering a single word and just smiling as if he understood that I couldnt get on the plane without the correct knitting project).

Armed with some Red Heart Luster Sheen and a pair of size two circular needles I made yet another swatch – still too big. Down to the size ones, but luckily I had planned ahead and had them with me! Swatch complete its time to take on these socks. Turns out they are challenging me at every step!

These socks are made on 2 circular needles – new concept to me but hey I’ll try anything once (except maybe colorwork!) The cast on is “Judy’s Magic Cast on” similar to a turkish cast on I had pretty good success with before. It involves wrapping the yarn around both needles then knitting one side than the other. The instructions in the magazine are actually pretty detailed. Maybe it would have been easier if I had not been trying to cast on in the airport next to two small children whose mother had evidently never taught them about using their “indoor voices”, but if I want to be honest I’d just admit I was over thinking it…once I just “did it” it fit into place.

Onto to the next challenge – a chart! I have avoided charts since I started knitting – all those small boxes. Amazing that lines and lines of computer code dont phase me; I don’t blink and eye at complex recipes for intricate cooking dishes…but a simple knitting chart – well total fear to the point of walking away…until these socks! I’m all ready to take on the chart and wouldnt you know it I cant figure out the first stupid stitch – [k1 tbl, yo, k1 tbl in st]. Seriously – what is this? This is the part once again where I thank my lucky stitches for Ravelry! I put up a post, head out for a few hours and come back to find posts with interpretations and explanations – sure enough, one made perfect sense and I was over the hurdle. Remebering to knit through the back loop and a few more stitches to learn but I’m getting into this sock. I got more and more excited as my first leaf pattern started to appear – and looking like the photo no less!

I’m in the groove at this point, knitting my way back home just in time to start the second leaf which begins before the first one is done. Armed with two row counters I continue on my way.

Next challenge – turning the heel with wrap and turns – one more new thing to learn. Wrap and turn – seems so simple – and once again I have to stop over thinking it!

At this point I’m sighing a sigh of relief and still psyched to keep going. I’m understanding why socks become their own addiction.

Fred Still Hates String

When choosing my name for Ravelry (which of course led to this blog) – I went to my oldest daughter who works in advertising and marketing to come up with something catchy and fun – it took her about a minute to come up with “FredHatesString” which still makes me laugh.

Fred is our black cat – he was a stray that found us about 3 weeks after we moved into our new place. It started out that he would come up and tentatively eat the tuna or cat food that I put out for him while keeping a safe distance. Eventually he let me pat him after he ate, and then soon enough he was sitting on my lap as we took in the view of the lake each evening. We didnt bring him in the house at first, that would go against our deciding not to have pets in the new place. However, I admit it – I’m a sap – I’m a total sucker for a cute cat face – and having the best boyfriend in the world, he let me be a sucker. So now we have Fred the indoor cat, who being an former all outside kitty really has no use for those bright shiny cat toys or yarn, or string of any kind.

The cat truly amuses me – especially last night when with his choice of one knitting project on dangling circular needles, one crochet project have in a state of unravel, and one crochet project in progress with an attached dancing ball of yarn, Fred decides that the Hamburger on the Bon Appetit Magazine is just way more to his liking….

Time for a real crochet project

So one bath poof does not a crocheter make. In my efforts to see just how much I liked crocheting I decided take the plunge after finding the pattern for the Boteh Scarf on Ravelry. I have all this sock yarn in my stash and figured I could use one of those…or not…each project just brings so many lessons.

I started out using some Madeline Tosh Viola. I love the colors, and thought it would be fun. With a little help at our SnB (Thanks Maggie) I was on my way, half double crocheting myself into happiness. Here’s the thing with crocheting – ripping is WAY easier than knitting, which was a very good thing because I ripped the first triangle out probably 4 times. Next to the loops…ahh the double treble crochet. Not so terrifying, not so difficult. I complete a few triangles ripping a billion times more along the way – and the more I did the more I obsessed that its just not looking like the picture. I determine it must be the yarn – maybe a variegated yarn wasnt right for this project (I refused to accept that I just couldnt master crocheting, although the thought did enter my mind).

Notice below – kind of skimpy looking; totally not doing the angle thing that will make this long; no way this thing will ever lie flat; not to mention the overall appearance is just not something I see being warn by me…well…ever!

Lessons so far:
1. Admit when something looks like crap
2. Dont bother working on something when you dont like the way it looks – you’re destined either not to finish it, or to finish it and not wear it.
3. Variegated sock yarn is probably best left to be used for socks

At the same time (because I am of course obsessed), I come across the new patterns just out in the Summer issue of Knitters Magazine. There are these socks that I just must make (and not with this yarn either)…holiday weekend coming up and I can feel my knitting ADD kicking in. There are a billion things I want to work on and while I’m enjoying the cardigan I have on the needles, its just not holding my attention long term. Add that to my feeling less and less attached to this scarf I decide to search out a copy of Knitter’s Magazine. Several phone calls later I find that of course my good old LYS Black Sheep Knitting in Needham had it. I decide to take the drive – and bribe Tamika from our SnB with the missing #2 bamboo double pointed needle she needed to come along. Fun company, but the best was her reaction to the store – she encapsulated my feeling about Black Sheep Knitting in two words Yarn Porn How perfect a phrase is that!! But I digress…back on track. While perusing the yarn porn I find this beautiful Jo Sharp Alpaca Silk Georgette in a light plum that I thought would be awesome for my scarf.

Back home and ready to try again (before I start the socks) I sit down and read through the instructions once again which brings me to the most important lesson
3. Read the *&*^*%* instructions and follow them AS THEY ARE WRITTEN

No wonder the thing doesnt look right – I’m adding 5 chained stitches where they domt belong. Well now I’m just charged to go and jump in with both feet (ok hands). There is no question that this pattern is much better suited by a solid yarn – its also really suited to be worked the way it was written. All of a sudden it all makes sense and I’m just cruising along – with 6 triangles out of 16 complete in one evening and one morning of work.

I still wouldnt call myself a crocheter yet – but I’m on my way!

My Watergarden Shrug

After a few starts and stops, a rip here and there, a challenge or two… I finished my shrug! Even with all the small issues, this was so much fun to make. There was a certain freedom in this project – choosing which yarn to use when and what stitch to use with it. Not that I couldnt do that on any project, but this one actually required it!

We were talking about those patterns that are fun but you only do once – I definitely want to try this one again –

On to the next project

Life lines and scissors

So I’m having a great time with my shrug – mixing fibers – feels like free form knitting. This is knit in all one piece cuff to cuff. As I get closer to finishing the “back” I’m just having that feeling that something isnt making sense. Its beautiful but its just not looking like the diagram.

I decided to go right to the source and email Jane Thornley with my need for clarification. Can I just say that not only was she quick to respond, but she was really supportive and helpful.

I sent Jane this photo for diagnosis:

Turns out that I dont have enough width – therefore I didnt make enough increases which is why the sleeve looks funny. I’d rant about my inability to properly measure width but I’ve already kicked myself over and over for this – stupid really stretchy knitting! Jane explained this wasnt catostrophic or anything – I just needed to work around it. I particularly love the part that says that it looks like I have about 23 inches between the two dark purple stripes so I can make that my back – ok I’m impressed – there was exactly 23 inches between the stripes.

So the plan is to rip back to the stripe on one side and from the cuff up to the first stripe. Then start both sleeves and space my decreases along the 18 inches I need for the sleeves. I’ve never had to rip from the cuff up – I know I’ve had discussions with people about how impossible it was, but the cuff was knit in art yarns silk and I really didnt want to lose it. So I sat down at the dining room table and snipped to start unraveling the cuff. Not so easy – it was done with 2 yarns. I set out to save the silk and not worry about the glace. Talk about an excercise in patience…no lie it took 3 hours to pull out the cuff, and when I wound the little bit of art yarns silk I really wondered if it was worth it.

I then started on the task of ripping out the other yarns back to the stripe we decided marked the body – lets just say between trying to rip backwards, combined with all the crazy fibers this is made with I spent a futile hour and threw my hands up in the air. I ran a life line by the body stripe and pulled out my scissors. I then sat in utter terror for at least 20 minutes deciding if I could really take a scissors to this project. I built myself up – I have a lifeline; I can’t possibly finish it the way that it is; certainly this is better than ripping the whole thing and starting again…still…that little voice was screaming in horror as I started to snip threads. After the first 5 were cut I just gave it up and went at it to get the whole process over with. When I was done I immediately went to get the stitches back on the needles in hopes that the cold sweat would stop and I could breath again….phew…it did and I could. sat in post trauma for about another 10 minutes and finally went about ripping the remnants of my sleeve the “normal” way – which of course took all of 5 minutes. I carefully wound each ball of each yarn and got myself re-organized.

I’m back to knitting, every row taking me further away from the terrifying fix and closer to finishing.

Shouldn’t be long now…stay tuned!