Unraveling Up North

Being up north . . . 


means plenty of time for stitching!

And after my last project -- which required multiple balls of yarn and constant counting - I wanted to work on something simple.  Something that I could knit in the car.  Or on the boat.  Or sitting around the campfire.  No counting.  No juggling balls of yarn.  Something . . . fun.  And portable.


So I grabbed a ball of interesting yarn and decided to try this pattern.  (Added BONUS:  the pattern is free!)  At first, I wasn't sure of this particular yarn-pattern juxtaposition, but I think it's growing on me.  And the pattern certainly works for a simple knit -- just set it up, place a marker, and pay slight attention every 12 rows or so.


And if the rain holds here for the rest of the afternoon, well . . . I just might even finish this thing before I get home tomorrow!


Head over to Kat's for more Unraveled tales today.

Wheel Turnin' Round and Round

Some knitting projects are adventurous because they offer variety in pattern and texture and color.  Some knitting projects are adventurous because . . . they are just big.  Both types of projects require stamina, concentration, and commitment.  

But those big projects?  

They're a little too close to the movie Groundhog Day.  Y'know?  Living that same day over and over. . . Knitting that same thing over and over . . . 

This one?  Totally a Groundhog Day kind of project.  
Over and over.


Finish one square . . . move right on to the next square.

You go back, Jack
Do it again


It was more than a bit tedious after a while.  But I knew if I didn't keep going, I'd never get it finished.

Wheel turnin' round and round
You go back, Jack
Do it again

Totally repetitious.  And totally worth it, in the end.


(So glad I can move on to something else now.  And stop living this Groundhog Day knitting existence.)

You can find the Ravelry details here.


To see a "homespun" version of this Steely Dan song, check out this very old video of high-school-senior Erin performing it at her piano recital in 2007.


And be sure to pop over to Kat's for other Unraveled posts today!

Unraveling . . . On Paper

Although I am tempted to share my progress on my mitered-square project, I've realized that I'm close enough to the actual finish line now (10 squares to go!) that I might as well wait until next week when (I think) it will be finished.

So today, I'll share another kind of finished project for you . . . 


This is a rather large (16" square) colored pencil "portrait" of Tom's Mini, based on a photograph I took while the car was parked in our driveway.

And it has taken me months to finish!

Agonizing months.  (So many times I just wanted to trash the thing.)

In the end, though, I think it turned out just fine.  And I certainly learned a whole lot in the process.  Which was really the point.

I thought you might enjoy seeing the drawing . . . unravel.  Back to the beginning.


We're really fortunate here in Kalamazoo to have the Kalamazoo Institute of Art.  Not only is it a fine art museum, but it also has a wonderful art education program for both adults and kids -- with classes offered year-round in pretty much any art medium.  The classes are semester-based, and the teachers are excellent.

I loved art class in high school, and I even took a few classes in college, but it had been years and years since I'd done any real "arting," and it took a while before I finally decided to face my personal demons (the not-good-enough and who-do-you-think-you-are voices are loud) and sign up for a class at the KIA.  I was totally intimidated to walk through those doors that first time . . . with my little bin of drawing tools!

It's been a great experience, though.  I've taken colored pencil drawing and watercolor and printmaking classes -- finally settling on colored pencil as my preferred media.  (I'm a much better "drawer" than I am a "painter.")  I've made a whole crop of new friends -- and the environment is supportive and encouraging from both the instructors and fellow students.


Although I draw and doodle all kinds of this-and-that at home, for my classes I like to choose more challenging subjects -- so I can learn new techniques and stretch myself a little.  I've done marbles and soap bubbles and a glass of beer with foam and a trout rising out of the water, for example.  Each time, I've frustrated the hell out of myself!  But each time, I've also learned a lot.

This time, I wanted to draw something shiny.

So I chose Tom's Mini.


In retrospect, I really didn't know what I was getting into.  Cars . . . have a lot of detail!  Really specific details.  (And really specific details that . . . say . . . the car's owner notices.  Just sayin.)

The entire time I worked on this drawing, I felt like one of those boys back in junior high school who were always drawing highly detailed dragsters on their notebook pages.  (Remember them?)  


There were many (many) times along the way when it was just too overwhelming.  It felt . . . too daunting.  How would I ever make this red blobby thing look like a CAR?

I whined.

But I also kept going.  And I had a lot of encouragement along the way -- from my instructor (remember this?) and my fellow classmates, and from Tom and my dad at home.


And . . . eventually . . . I had a drawing of Tom's car!

Colored pencil drawing is s-l-o-w.  It's layer after layer of color.  Nothing speedy about it!  

Kind of like . . . knitting.  Y'know?


Even though this post has nothing to do with stitching, I'm still playing the "unraveled" game along with Kat and friends.  Hop on over to Kat's to see what others are unraveling this week.


Want to see the original photo of Tom's Mini?  Here it is . . . 



Knitting continues (ever more slowly lately) (because gardening) on this beast. . . 


Although I had flirted with the idea of putting it down to start something a little more . . . summer-y, I've opted to slog on with the mitred squares.  (It's fun.  I'm in the groove.  And, mostly, I just tend to be a monogamous knitter.)

But I've reached that point in the project where I begin to contemplate my next knitting project.  (I usually spend at least half of my current project dreaming and scheming what I'll make next.)

I spent several days dreaming about this sweater, but decided to wait until fall is near.

Then, my thoughts shifted to warm-weather knitting, and I dreamed about this sweater and this sweater and even this one.

Finally, my scheming settled on this for my next project!  I even have the perfect yarn.  (Thinking about this one got me through two and a half tiers of the mitred square project without distraction, so committed I am.)

And then . . . 

Well.  Then, I did a little organizing down in my sewing room (where I keep my yarn), and I stumbled across this yarn I had completely forgotten about.


I picked this up at the Michigan Fiber Festival last August.  Three heavenly skeins -- two in the grey-ish/taupe-ish solid color, and one with those lovely shades of pink and coral mixed in.  I bought all she had!  No plan at all.  I just had to have it.  (You know how that goes. . . )

So now I'm just thinking about this yarn.  And what I might do with it.  Although it's fun to dream and scheme about possibilities, this one really has me stumped.  Maybe y'all can help?  Here are the specs on the yarn:

  • It's "heavy lace" weight (which feels a lot like "light fingering" to me).
  • Each skein has 350 yards (so that's 700 yards solid; 350 yards of the mix-y one).
  • The fiber content is really dreamy:  super fine alpaca, super fine merino, type C pygora, yak, cultivated silk, camel down, and angora bunny (let's just say super, super touchable and leave it at that).

(For about 6 hours, I thought it might be perfect for that Shakerag top in the new Mason Dixon Field Guide.)  (But then I got hold of myself and said ALL of those fibers . . . and not one of them linen . . . you are nuts!!!)

What do you think?  What should I do with this gorgeous yarn???  I'm open to suggestions . . . I have about 28 more mitred squares for more contemplation!


Stop by Kat's today for more Unraveled tales.


Raveling Along

When I have time to pick up my knitting, I pick up my mitred square project.  It continues to delight, and I love watching it grow.


It’s a perfect project: portable, easily memorized, and endlessly entertaining.


Even though it doesn’t look it, the project is already at the midpoint.  It’ll be completely raveled before you know it!


How about you?  What are you raveling right now?


Posting on my phone today.  Hope it works...


Unraveling . . . a Dining Room

No time for knitting.  No time for stitching.  But plenty of unraveling going on!

When we moved into our house back in 2003, there was late-80s wallpaper in every room.  Heavily patterned.  Lots of mauves and teals.  Everywhere.  I'm sure it was really awesome and trendy back in the day.  But by 2003 it was dated and awful.  

It took a while for Tom and I to be able to look past the wallpaper to see the promise of the layout of the house.  And it took a generous "re-decorating" offer from the former owners to sweeten the pot.  Most of the wallpaper was removed (and carpet replaced) before we even moved in.  But there were three rooms that would have to wait until later -- the master bathroom (described here), the main bathroom upstairs, and . . . the dining room.

But removing wallpaper is such a pain in the . . . neck.  And it's so expensive to have it done professionally.  So we put it off.  And off and off and off.

It's time now, though.  To just power through and git'r'dun!

Here is the dining room just before the wallpaper removal project started last Saturday. . . 


Just a little busy, non?

The wall below the chair rail is painted; the wallpaper and the border above some really lovely crown moulding ON THE CEILING need to be removed, though. (Tom also removed the chair rail yesterday.  No more two-tone dining room.)

I found this product online, thanks to a lead from the guys who did our bathroom renovation project a couple of years ago.  (They used a professional grade product that was very much like this one.)


It really does work as promoted.  It's far less drippy than either soaking the wallpaper down with a sprayer, or using a steamer.  (I've used both methods in past houses.)

You just lightly score the wallpaper (lightly, I learned in my first test area . . . so that you don't damage the drywall underneath), then soak the sheets and stick them to the walls for a while (in my case, it takes about 15 minutes per application).


The wallpaper really does peel off pretty easily . . . most of the time.

Don't get me wrong -- this is still a tedious and frustrating job.  It's a lot of up-and-down on the ladder, and a lot of work.  But the results are coming much easier than my past experiences with wallpaper removal.


And it is so satisfying to rip that paper off the walls!

Even that ceiling border is coming off with less hassle than I expected.  (Although what a pain to work upside down.)  (So much respect to Michelangelo, y'know?)


This morning, I'm faced with the last of it.


One good session this morning, and the wallpaper will be gone.

Just in time for . . . wall prep and priming.  

How about you?  What are you unraveling this week?


Unraveling . . . Life

So, I'm still knitting away on my little mitered squares project . . . 


It's fun.  It's easy.  It's slow.  I like playing with the colors.  It's a great way to (finally) use all the Koigu I've had rolling around in my stash for oh-so-long.  And it's rhythmic.

Which gives me time to think as I knit.

And as I stitch, I've come to see that this project is actually a pretty good metaphor . . . for life!


  • Life plays out on a neutral background.  There are plenty of colorful bits, and every now and again a bright pop of color.  But's it's the ordinary, everydayness of neutral that holds it all together.

  • Balance is essential.  Too many pops of color in one place throw the balance off . . . making you crave more of the neutral, that more ordinary rhythm of things.


  • Building a strong foundation makes for structural integrity.  Yes, it takes a long time to build that foundation, but once it's there, you know you can make anything happen.

  • Focus is the key.  When you want to get something done, chip away at it a little bit every day.  One stitch at a time . . . adds up.


  • A colorful life is a messy life.  Regular maintenance - and cleaning up your messes as you go - can keep things humming right along though.

  • Risk is good.  Don't be afraid to make a mess.  It's fun.  And besides, once it starts coming all together, no one will see the mistakes, the missteps, the crookedness . . . except you.  Perfection is over-rated.

  • Life is about resilience.  Sometimes you have to re-think and adapt.  Problem-solving is a good thing.  It makes us stronger and it keeps our brains supple.  (And that's a story for another Unraveled Wednesday.)   (Just sayin.)

What are you unraveling today?  (In knitting or in life. . . )


To read other Unraveled Wednesday posts, check out the links in the comments over at Kat's.

No Actual Unraveling

Knitting has been slow, but somewhat steady.


The base tier is taking shape.

It's nice, relaxing, mindful knitting.  Except for the flip side.


Yeah.  Trying to deal with that mess every four squares or so.

No rush.  No hurry.  No stress.
And - best of all - no unraveling!


How about you?  What'cha making?

And be sure to check out the links in the comments over at Kat's for more unraveled posts.

A Post-Unraveled Project

So.  What does a knitter do after unraveling a disastrous project?


Well.  This knitter picked up her Alabama Chanin stitching and made spitty-raspberries at all things knitting for a few days.  

But then, I decided to let it go; that maybe a project like this would take the edge off a bit.  

This project is fun to knit, leaves plenty room for creativity and color-play, and - best of all - feels kind of fast.  (It's also a great way to use up all those single skeins of Koigu I've been hoarding with absolutely no plan in mind.)

How about you?  What are you making today?



Unraveling, or . . . You Can't Always Get What You Want

Today's soundtrack.

We'll just begin with this:  I was completely smitten with Kate Davies' Carbeth pattern the first time I saw it.  Long before "banging out a Carbeth" became a rallying cry in the knitting world, I was crushing over that distinctive shoulder line, the cropped and slightly boxy shape, and (I'll admit it) Kate standing there with her arms flung open wide in that brilliant Scottish winter setting.

I wanted one.

But I was concerned about the cropped thing.  Could I pull that off?  Once I decided to just suspend my judgement on that little point, I set to looking for yarn.  Now, the pattern calls for a DK weight held double, and I happened to have this most lovely Madeline Tosh DK just sitting there, deep in the stash, waiting for its turn to shine.

I swatched.  And I washed and dried my swatch (because Tosh DK is superwash, and superwash is always a bit of a crapshoot).  I found my gauge, made some adjustments for the superwash, and set about to knitting. 

IMG_2407 2

The yarn was lovely to work with.  It was going to be just glorious, I could tell!


It turns out . . . not all Carbeths are meant to be "banged-out."  Including mine.

I could show you this photo (where the final sweater looks just fine; passable, even), and we could call it done.  But I'm a Full Disclosure kind of gal, and this is a Full Disclosure kind of blog.


Ooooo.  Ahhhhh.  Isn't it lovely?

Not so much.


(Does this look like someone who is pleased with her sweater?  Nope.  No joy.)

Let's break it down.

  • Remember that this is supposed to be a cropped sweater.  I knit the body a half-inch longer than the pattern called for (because chicken), knowing that the superwash would stretch (according to my swatch) by about an inch and a half.  That would mean my body length should be 10 inches.  By the time I took this picture, the body was measuring 14 inches -- and growing longer by the moment.
  • As I was posing for the photos, I had to do a lot of Positioning of the collar and the shoulders.  Because they were also growing by the moment, and the whole sweater was in danger of falling off.  The underarm had stretched down almost to my elbow (major batwing action), and I could barely keep the collar from slipping down off my shoulders (think Flashdance).


(This is where I wanted to insert a rather hilarious video of me adjusting and fussing with this sweater.  But when I tried, I blew up this entire post and I had to re-start.  So try to imagine it for yourselves.  Sorry.)

Here's the main thing I learned from my Carbeth experience:  There is barely any structure up top (no seams; the shoulders hold all the weight of the sweater), so it is highly sensitive to weight.  The weight of the yarn - and the sweater itself - can make a huge difference in fit.  My yarn (doubled) was super heavy -- and it pulled that sucker South in a hurry!  (I did have an inkling about this as I tried the sweater on a various points during the knitting process.  Every time I put it on, it was longer.  I should've seen this coming much quicker than I did.)

If you're going to knit a Carbeth - and especially if you are going to add weight by lengthening the body - really consider the weight of your yarn.  I would suggest using something light and lofty (Brooklyn Tweed's Quarry comes immediately to mind).  I would avoid doubling DK yarns, too (unless using super light and lofty DK yarns - like the one Kate used for her original).  And I would avoid superwash like the plague (because Problem Children).

Carbeth is a great pattern -- fast, fun to knit, and a great design.  Just think carefully about your yarn!


You can't always get what you want.
But if you try real hard, you just might be able to prevent someone else from making the same mistake.