Making Stuff


My mom used to knit dishcloths . . . for herself, for my sister, for my kids, for her friends, and for me. She got me hooked on using hand knit dishcloths decades ago, and I have purchased very few "store-bought" dishcloths ever since. Having a ready supply of dishcloths from my mom also meant . . . I never had to make them for myself.

All that has changed, of course.

My mom might not be around to make them for me anymore, but I still prefer them to any other dishcloth. So I've had to resort to knitting my own. . .


Every 18 months or so, I go on a little dishcloth knitting tear . . . and whip up a new supply for myself. (I find they last for a good two years before they really wear out and unravel, so this keeps my inventory steady, with "planned turnover.")

They aren't my favorite things to knit (it's the cotton), but they're quick and easy -- and if I'm focused, I can knit a new supply fairly quickly. (Especially if I'm working a slow election.) (Did you know you can knit two Ball Band Dishcloths over the course of a slow 15-hour shift?)


My favorite pattern is the Waffle Knit Dishcloth (link is NOT a Ravelry link). It's quick and effective, and it's fun to add the little blocks of color (although you certainly don't need to). Sadly, these will also be the first to fall apart, so I usually throw in some Ball Band Dishcloths, too (link is also NOT a Ravelry link). My Ball Band Dishcloths outlast all others, every time. This go-round, I also added a new pattern - Sarah's dishcloth "recipe" she recently shared on her blog (again, NOT a Ravelry link). I think Sarah's riff on the dishcloth will become another go-to favorite for me.

There you have it: What I've been knitting lately. I'm happy to have refreshed my dishcloth inventory, and I'm also happy to be finished with dishcloth-cotton . . . for now.

I've moved on to something a bit more . . . complicated. Certainly bigger. And from wool. 
Stay tuned!


How about you? What are you making these days?

Two For the Price of One!

How about a little knitting . . . and a little sewing . . . all in one post!


First, let's talk about the knitting!

It's this shawl . . . and it's pretty wonderful (especially once I got into the rhythm of that linen stitch section). I used Rowan Felted Tweed from my stash. (Kay and Ann over at Modern Daily Knitting are right when they say that any color combination of Rowan Felted Tweed will work together. I had a lot of fun figuring out my color scheme from what I had on hand.)


I really like the size! I know I'll wear it a lot when it's cold. But I hope I don't wear it much until next fall . . . 

Sometimes Tom and I have a little too much fun when doing these photo shoots. I was whipping that shawl all over the place as he was taking photos and making me laugh.


In fact, I was laughing so much - and being so goofy - that we never got a good shot of my sewing project! Which is the grey top I'm wearing UNDER the shawl . . . 


It's a Toaster Sweater (#2) from Sew House Seven, and I really love it. Although we did . . . have Some Moments together. The pattern is well designed (it's very Eileen Fisher-y), and the directions are very clear, but it's for knits . . . and that always ups the stakes. I made mine from a merino wool knit that looks and feels divine. But it was on the pricey side (so I cared a lot), and ohmygod . . . it rolled like crazy, so it was a pain in the patootie to work with. But. I wrangled it into shape and even used a twin-needle to (successfully) hem the damn thing.



That's two winning projects in one post! I'm hoping, though, that I can pack both of them away until fall. (Anyone willing to make a bet on that???)


How about you? What are you making these days?

Bringing You Up To Speed

Although it might not seem like I am . . .  
(because I haven't mentioned knitting since finishing the big brown blob) . . .
I am knitting.

I just haven't been talking about my knitting.

It's time to bring you up to speed!
I'm knitting this shawl in this yarn . . . 


And things are moving right along.
It's been a pretty fun knit so far, including all my most favorite things about knitting:

And after getting through that first, rather l-o-n-g slip stitch section (which, I'll admit, did get to be a bit of a slog), I've really had fun mixing the sections up, "sampler" style.


I was.

Until I hit the last of the slip stitch sections . . . and discovered that it's really linen stitch (which is, technically, a slip stitch pattern). While I really love slip stitch patterns, I am (gulp) . . . not a fan of linen stitch. It's so (deceivingly) simple. But it kicks my butt every time. (PAY ATTENTION, Kym. I tell myself. Just pay attention to what you're doing. It's an easy, every-other-stitch pattern, on repeat. And yet. . . kicks. my. butt!) So things came to a real slow-down over the weekend when I realized I had a linen stitch situation on my hands!


(There was a rip-back of several rows. Sigh.) I'm in the groove again, though. Ever closer to the finish line.

So. There we are.
Consider yourselves . . . up to speed!


How about YOU? What are you making these days?


Perfection in Sweatshirt Form

Not much knitting going on (and what I am knitting is very slow these days), but I've been doing some sewing.

A couple of weeks ago I made a super simple something that I've been wanting to sew for a couple of years now.


It's this pattern - The Sidney - from Merchant and Mills . . . a super oversized sweatshirt that is perfect for cozy layering (which is my preferred "style" of dressing, don'tchaknow). 


I used Merchant and Mills' Makers Jacquard Cotton for my sweatshirt. It's divine stuff . . . a layer of cotton backed by a layer of gauze with yarn-threads in the middle - and then quilted. I love it (although sewing with it was kind of messy - lots of lint; just sayin).

As spring (slowly) arrives, and I pack my wool sweaters away for the season, this sweatshirt will be a constant, comfortable companion out in the garden and around the campfire up north.


It's truly perfection . . . in sweatshirt form!

(And for all of you showing off your daffodils? You can see mine . . . just poking up in my garden now. Those little green bits.) (Yep. It'll be awhile still. . . )


I got a comment yesterday from Linda . . . about Young Mungo . . . pointing out that it's currently available for Kindle for $9.45. I just wanted to pass that along in case you're interested. (And thanks, Linda!)

Not Many Words; Mostly Pictures

Today I've got a quick and dirty post covering  a LOT of ground. 
Let's begin.


First up, the modeled shot of Tom wearing the (no longer) big brown blob. Which was finished in plenty of time for him to wear on his fishing trip with Brian last week. By the time he caught this steelhead (SO shiny!) . . . 

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it was too hot for a sweater. But he assures me it was good luck anyway . . . as he and Brian caught several of these babies. And Brian caught the brown-trout-of-a-lifetime (until he catches one bigger, that is).

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So. It was a good sweater . . . AND a good day fishing.

(And if you're looking for sweater details, you can see them here on Ravelry.)

What NEXT? you ask.

Well. Color. Lots of color.
You could say . . . I'm rolling around in color!

I'm painting. . . 



(This is based on this famous painting, The New Novel, by Winslow Homer.)

I'm sewing . . . 

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(Yet another Remy Raglan. . . )

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(And a soon-to-be Merchant and Mills 'Sidney'. . . )

And even doing a little knitting . . . 


(Just getting started on one of these. It doesn't look colorful at this point, but it will be.)


(And thinking about this combo for a Humulus; the raspberry for the main color, the neon green for the contrast.)

In other words, I'm saying . . . Goodbye, Big Brown Blob!


How about you? What are you making this week?

And Then It Turned Into a Swan

Big news in the Unraveled department! The big brown blob? 


It turned into a swan!

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It's a lovely sweater, actually. The fit is perfect. Tom loves it. And he'll be able to wear it tomorrow on his fishing adventure. (Although - surprise - it may actually turn out to be too warm for it later in the day.)

We haven't had a chance for any modeled shots, but we'll do some eventually. There is no Ravelry post yet, but once I get those those photos of Tom wearing the sweater, I'll put one together. (If you're curious, it's this pattern . . . which is fine in a "basic recipe" kind of way, but really lacking in oh so many other ways. And it's this yarn . . . one of my favorites for sweaters . . . in the Meteorite colorway.)

And the song for this project? Why . . . Everlong, of course. (Because it took "everlong" to knit? Because it took me "everlong" to get around to knitting a sweater for my very knitworthy husband? Or . . . because my love for him is "everlong?" All of the above? You decide.)

[YouTunes will not allow me to insert any version of this song, so . . . click here if you want to watch/listen to a great live performance from 2008. (The one I would have loved to just insert, but no. You'll have to click in if you want to see it.)]

Breathe out.
So I can breathe you in.


How about you? What are you making this week?


Catching Up On Stuff: Sewing Aprons

I've spent a lot of time lately talking about silly feather hats and and brown-blob sweater knitting (I've started the first sleeve, by the way, so yay) . . . and I never did share my Christmas apron sewing.

Four aprons.
Using this (free and amazing) apron pattern from Helen's Closet.

I started with these two . . . for Brian and Lauren. I used medium-weight canvas fabric, and I really love the way they turned out. (Bad winter lighting in my basement sewing room . . . but you'll get the idea.)



Erin and Keith asked for a bit of whimsy for their aprons. I used the same type of medium-weight canvas . . . but I jazzed them up with some fun pockets. Aliens for Keith. Kitties for Erin.


If you're leery of "indie" patterns - or free patterns, generally - let me assure you . . . Helen's Closet patterns are REALLY good. Her directions are clear and helpful -- for those at all levels of sewing experience, with all required techniques carefully explained and diagrammed in the body of the pattern directions. There are MANY excellent tutorials available on the Helen's Closet website (really --- great tutorials for all kinds of techniques). The little finishing details Helen includes in all of her designs and patterns make for really nice finished products, and she does a great job creating wearable designs flattering to all body types. (She carries an extensive size range, too.)

That said . . . the Sam Apron pattern is promoted as being suitable for "Beginners." And I suppose that, technically, it is. I would qualify it, though, for very adventurous beginners -- or at least for advanced beginners -- with a fairly decent sewing machine capable of handling several layers of thick fabric with ease. The pattern itself is not difficult (and as I said above, the directions are clear and well diagrammed), and there are some really good techniques that would be helpful for beginners to master. It's just that there are finishing details (topstitching, bar tacks) that I think might be challenging for most beginners. These little details really "make" the apron, but they might be tricky for newer sew-ers to manage.


Still. This is hands-down the BEST apron pattern I've ever used (and I've sewn a lot of aprons in my days). It's fun to sew, it ends up looking very professional, and my kids all seem happy with their new aprons.

How about you? What are you making this week?



Tales of a Feather Hat . . . Part 2

So. In last Wednesday's post, I left you with a bit of a cliffhanger. . .

Would the Feather Hat turn out to be a simple-yet-charming hat knit up with some gimmick-y yarn in a whimsical stitch pattern???
Would the Feather Hat end up a Major Disappointment, relegated to complete unraveling?

Turns out the answer is . . . rather a mixed bag!


On the one hand, it's finished.
And it fits.

On the other hand, it had its Moments. (Trust me, blocking improved the hat immensely.)


I think there just might be. . .  too many "feathers" (for my liking, at least; Erin loves them and - to my delight - wants the hat).

It's the pooling that's getting me here, I think. I am not a fan of pooling, generally. Somehow, I thought this particular pattern and this particular yarn (specifically designed to work together with something called "planned pooling") would . . . be less pool-y. But, as you can see in my photos, I was wrong. It's VERY pool-y, and all the "feathers" clumped up on one side of the hat . . . with very few on the other side.



On the good side of the Feather Hat experience . . . It was a fun and quick knit (once I got the hang of the "feathers"). The yarn is gorgeous. I love the way the colors fade in and out (you can really see this in the middle photo, above). And it's really good to try a strange, new stitch pattern once in a while.

And on the bad side of the Feather Hat experience . . . The pattern itself is TOO much (too many words, too many pages, too many useless charts for "everyday" knitting things). Pooling is pooling, even when it's "planned." And I just think there are too many feathers.

I'm not displeased, but I'm not thrilled, either. I do have a couple more skeins of this yarn . . . and I also have two other ideas to try to make it with fewer feathers. But not right now.*

(What do you think?)

Ravelry details here.


*So, now what?
Big brown blob, that's what!
It is All Big Brown Blob All The Time here, let me tell you.
(I've reached the point where I knit and knit and knit and it feels like I'm not getting anywhere.)
(But I must be. Surely I must be. . . )

Tales of a Feather Hat . . . Part 1

Before I get started on today's Unraveled post (and, indeed, there was some unraveling), I do want to celebrate reaching Divide For Sleeves status with Tom's sweater. There was a bit of Disappointment initially, as I discovered I needed to go up a size after our first "try on." But that's the benefit of knitting a top-down sweater, after all. So it was a Good Thing. Although More Stitches is never something a knitter wants to face when knitting a sweater for a man, y'know? But. Success all the same. (I'll spare you a photo at this point, because Big Brown Blob . . . that you can easily picture in your mind's eye.)


Once reaching that Momentous Step, I decided to dip my toe into the "feather hat" pool and treat myself to (what appeared to be) . . . a simple-yet-charming hat knit up with some gimmick-y yarn in a whimsical stitch pattern. And I'll stand by that: It IS a simple hat. With charm and whimsy. And gimmick-y yarn that will (in the end, I'm sure) do all the heavy lifting.

But ohmygod . . . first I needed to crack the code of one of the most overwrought patterns I've ever seen!


This is a HAT. A basic, stockinette hat with a few options for the brim and the crown. The tricky bit? It's the "feather stitch." And I knew that would be the tricky-bit going in. I expected detailed explanations (and probably some practice) for that part.

What I didn't expect . . . was an overly complicated (24 PAGES, people) pattern that skips around in distracting ways and includes CHARTS for (among other things that don't actually need charts) 2x2 ribbing for the brim. (Oh, don't let me get started on my quibbles with this pattern.) Anyway. The most irritating part of this whole adventure . . . is the need to carefully swatch to even figure out where to begin. (I mean, it's nice to be able to use ANY weight yarn and knit a hat to fit ANY size head, but this is just a bit more work than I want to go through for what is basically a plain, old hat. Y'know?)

So. Once I bought in to the fact that I was going to have to swatch, swatch I did. Which also gave me a chance to practice the feather stitches. And . . . it's a good thing I did practice because my first one? It looked like this . . .


Not QUITE what I was going for. (LOL)

I ripped. I re-tried. The second one was even worse, but in a different way. I didn't take a picture. I ripped again. And then . . . something clicked (plus I got out a crochet hook, which helped), and my third feather was definitely more . . . feather-like.


And after a few more "practice feathers," I declared myself ready to move on to the actual hat.


Doing the gauge swatch helped me figure out my sizing. (Because, yeah. I know. That's why we swatch.) (I just don't usually swatch for hats. A hat IS a swatch, y'know?) For the record, my swatch is 5 stitches/inch on size 5 needles. And I want to knit a hat with a 21.75" circumference. So according to the VERY detailed sizing chart (some might say unnecessarily detailed AND get an eye twitch just looking at it), I cast on 96 stitches. Which seems about right for me, based on my previous hat knitting experience. For the record, I'm knitting a 2x2 ribbing for the brim on size 4s (because I always go down a size for my brims). And I don't feel I need to refer to the chart (just sayin).

The yarn is beautiful. I love the feel and sheen of it (although it is a little splitty). But the pattern? WAY too many words. (And useless charts.) (But maybe that's just me.) I'm sure that, in the end, this will be . . . a simple-yet-charming hat knit up with some gimmick-y yarn in a whimsical stitch pattern.

Even though it's taking a while to actually get to that.

Stay tuned!


How about you? What are you making this week?

A Plain Brown Wrapper

Many, many years ago . . . at least three decades ago now, but maybe four . . . my mom gave Tom a sweater for Christmas. It was one of those workhorse kinds of sweaters . . . nothing fancy. But it was . . . 

Very basic.
And a heathered maroon color that Tom, being color blind, probably couldn't actually see accurately, but that he really liked.

He wore it all the time. While fishing. While snow-blowing. At probably every one of Brian's hockey games. Whenever he was cold and needed a light layer, you'd find that sweater in the picture.

Until . . . he lost it.
(And that is a story unto itself, but not for the blog.)

Anyway, the sweater has been gone for a very long time. Maybe even another decade? And Tom still grieves it.

It also turns out to be the kind of sweater that is hard to replace. 

Unless you're a knitter.

So, after years of Tom talking about his lost-sweater-that-he-wishes-he-still-had. And years of my trying to find a replacement that I could purchase . . . to avoid knitting a man-sized, plain-no-frills 100% wool sweater . . . I'm knitting a man-sized, plain-no-frills 100% wool sweater.

In brown.
(Because when you're color blind, you always choose brown.)
(He may actually have thought the heathered maroon sweater was . . . brown. Just sayin.)


It took us awhile to decide on a pattern. Tom wanted . . . very basic. Plain. No frills. I was hoping for . . . a few frills? Maybe a basic gansey? But it's not my sweater, and he wants plain, so we're going with this one (which is as basic as one can get when knitting a sweater). And I'm knitting it with Shelter (in the Meteorite colorway; brown, to be sure . . . but with interesting flecks of color in there for some excitement).

I'm afraid the knitting content here is going to be a bit dull for a while.

(Until, of course, I get my Gauge Dye Works yarn for the soon-to-be-released Hunter Hammersen "feather hat." That will spice things up for me and provide a little reprieve.) (Please note . . . it is not actually called the "feather hat," but it will always BE the "feather hat" to me. Thanks, Bonny!)


In the meantime, I'm knitting a man-sized, plain-no-frills 100% wool sweater.
It's a plain brown wrapper!


How about you? What are you making this week?