03 November 2014

Kennedy Sweater

Cold weather has finally reached the South! South Carolina had surprise snow and here in North Carolina we had a really chilly Halloween weekend. I am not a huge fan of the winter months, but it has been fun getting to wear all my warm hand knitted sweaters! 

I am thrilled to report that I finished my Kennedy sweater a couple of weeks ago, thanks to my mother saving the day. I ran out of yarn at the very end and was unable to finish the neckband. My mom, being the best, drove out to Webs and grabbed another skein for me and I was able to finish it.


I love this sweater even more than I thought I would. It fits perfectly due to the ribbed construction of the back and sides. The cabled details stand out particularly well due to the texture of the yarn. Most of all, this sweater is super warm and cosy! 


Kennedy is from the Fall 2012 issue of Knitscene and I loved it from first glance. The cabling just looked like a joy to knit. The pattern was clear and simple (although there is an errata for the cabling chart, beware!). I did work in a few alterations to fit my personal preferences though. I don't like turtleneck-like necklines on clothing, so I amended with a simple ribbed neck. I also made the sleeves less baggy because I like a more form fitting sleeve. 


The yarn is one of my tried and true favorites Plymouth worsted merino superwash. It is a super soft and durable 100% superwash merino in worsted. I have knitted another cabled sweater (my Beatnik) out of it and it has held up beautifully. I love how it shows off cabled details particularly.

Are you unpacking your winter clothes? Or are you now packing them away again to enjoy the summer? 

29 October 2014

Travel and progress

Last weekend was hectic and exciting between a visit from my best friend and a visit to the Asheville, North Carolina area for the Southeastern Animal Fiber Fair. I have passed up the chance to go to SAFF the past two years, but this year I went and I am certainly glad I did!

I had the opportunity to meet some new people there, especially some dedicated farmers. I also ran into some people I know, including Liz (Carolina Knits). I spent a lot of time with the alpacas because they are the cutest, someone even brought a little baby! I wish I had taken the time to take more photos, but it was an overwhelming event!


I have been trying to finish some of my older WIPs lately, including my Nymphalidea, which is looking very nice. The colors are starting to grow on me, even though they are unconventional.


I have also been crocheting quite a bit, including starting on this Kitty Nest. I am hoping that it will be large enough for kitty to fit in, she is a very big kitty! I'm using some t-shirt yarn I made last month. I didn't think I would like the process, but it was quick and fun to do! 


You may recognize this yarn, it was a part of a blanket that is no more. I loved how it was looking, but I did not like how the resulting fabric felt, I doubted the ability of it to stay together over time. So I ripped it all out and went for the tried and true granny square style. So far it is looking very nice and I am happy with my decision.


What have you been working on? Have you changed your mind about a pattern recently?

20 October 2014

The joy of handspun socks.

I have a little travel tradition, whenever I know I'm going to be on the road, I cast on socks. They are the ideal travel project: compact, simple, easy to set down, and always fun to work on. My recent trip to Massachusetts was no exception, the night before I cast on these socks and a week later I finished them up.


The pattern is another from Wendy Johnson's Socks from the Toe Up, the book I learned the technique of toe up socks from. I love coming back to this book for sock patterns again and again. This pattern was Mock Cable Socks, and it was perfect for travel because the pattern was simple but entertaining.


The yarn used for these socks was some handspun I finished a few years ago. I do not remember the specifics of the dyer or fiber type (likely because I failed to share it here when I finished it!). But it was a sweet gift from Lisa (Wickedly Artsy). The yarn itself was perfect for socks and the resulting socks feel like they'll be sturdy and warm for years to come.


I just find it so satisfying to knit up a project in my own handspun. The resulting product is just that much more special.

14 October 2014

Seasonal Accessories

I've been going through a phase, one defined by an obsession with cables and bulky yarns.

I have been wanting to knit a Chunky Cowl for a while now. I love how bulky yarns are continuing to be a fashionable staple for the Fall and Winter. Last December I found some Malabrigo that would be perfectly suited for a cowl and my mother also had some US 15 needles on hand, so this project worked out great!


I couldn't find a pattern that I liked, so I just cast on with a general idea of what I wanted. It worked out pretty well ending up perfect in size with a little bit of ease. Malabrigo Yarn Chunky was a dream to work with, I love the stitch definition I get with it and how super soft it knits up. I definitely want to make myself a bulky sweater with it soon!

Swirling Gauntlets were just one of those quick knits, we are all guilty of this kind of project at one point or another. Evelyn puts it best, sometimes you just need a palate cleanser, something small and satisfying.


The pattern is Swirling Gauntlets by Susanna IC, the cabling is simple but fun. I knitted these in Rowan Felted Tweed dk, one of my favorite yarns for its texture and colorways. The soft halo of this yarn envelops the cabled detail a little, but I actually find myself liking that aspect.

Now I can add these two knits to my ever expanding accessories collection! I'm definitely looking forward to wearing them both.

11 October 2014

Weekend favorites


I always enjoy reading Myrtle's (Truly Myrtle) Share All Things Friday (I think we all do!), because some of the things I love most are things I've discovered from others (like knitting!). I'd like to try to take the weekends here on my blog to do something similar. 

-- I'm starting up an old tradition again, where I go to the local Indie theater to see a film I'm interested in, because I adore film and this has been a fantastic year for it. This weekend I'm going to go see Starred Up, a British film that I keep hearing about from critics. I'm thrilled that it is showing here because this particular theater does not show many international films.

-- I completely missed the boat on Spinzilla, I have just been so wrapped up in work and other things. But I have really enjoyed seeing all the beautiful things that people have been spinning! Especially some of what Alicia (Woolen Diversions) has been working on. I have been spinning a little, but it has actually been for production rather than leisure. I have been learning a lot from the experience!


-- I have tons of finished projects to show you all; however, first I must have a serious blocking and photography session. Does anyone else have a serious backlog of projects like this?

-- Last night I tried A Beautiful Mess' recipe for Honey Roasted Veggies Gnocchi and it turned out to be amazing! I'm definitely going to be making it again when it gets cooler. 

-- Speaking of food, did you know that the idea that MSG (monosodium glutamate) is bad for your health is a myth that scientists have largely debunked? I certainly didn't until I listened to this episode of Science Friday!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and please do share anything interesting you have tried, learned, or heard about!

09 October 2014

Too many things to knit with so little time

I've been going through a challenging time in my life lately. It's been one of those inevitable periods where everything feels frustrating and difficult. I often reflect on how working with wool has provided me with the calm and focus I've needed to continue through several taxing life experiences. I've heard this sentiment from many other knitters and crocheters, that the simple rhythm of their work has helped them through loss, injury, and various other challenges. I find that fact incredibly inspiring, it connects us as a community in a profound way.

I feel as though each of my projects have been dragging on in a sense, I forget that they are each fairly large and ambitious. I've been fighting the temptation to cast on a hat for quick satisfaction.

Nymphalidea has been such a joy to work on, I've really been able to get into a comfortable rhythm with this project. The pattern is super easy to memorize and the construction is very different from the traditional shawl design. If you are like me and find shawls tedious, you'll probably find this pattern a nice change in pace. I'm not sure how I like the colors together yet.

Antique yarn blanket is reaching the point where one circular needle is not enough to contain it. I really wish I could convey the lovely smell of this yarn too, it is akin to the scent of an old book.
Antique wool yarn, unknown producer

Guston for the boyfriend is almost finished, I've knitted all of the body, except for the back of the yoke, and finished the sleeves (painfully knitted flat rather than in the round). I simply adore Rowan Pure Wool, you'll never find me knitting with any other 100% wool option again, it is a joy.

Lastly, I want to share two things that have brightened my life recently:

The Irish film Frank, the trailer is not a fantastic representation of what this film has to offer, but I thought it was deep, creative, and easy to become immersed in. It is also definitely worth seeing in theaters.

If you haven't checked out maria_levine on Instagram yet, you must! She posts several times each day with gorgeous yarns and inspired cabled hats and gloves. She also has the sweetest kitties.

I hope you are all well and creating beautiful things every day!

16 September 2014

What is up with this Fall thing anyway?

So, Fall has exploded in the US, it seems like a premature and immediate change. I'm not quite ready for Summer to be over, thank you very much! Also, in my mind, it cannot be Fall if it is still 85F outside every day.

So sorry for the mini rant, I'm just puzzled by culture sometimes.

I have way more WIPs going right now than I would like, to the point where they are causing me a little bit of anxiety. So, I'm enacting my tried and true method of dealing with most things in life:

Take it one step at a time. Simple.

This poor sweater is going to have to hibernate because I'm short about 50g to finish the neckline. How sad is that? I thought I would have enough yardage, but I forget how much yarn cabling eats up.
     Update! My mother has secured an additional skein because she's the best!


I have also been slowly working on a couple rows a day on this blanket. This is exactly the same as a scrap blanket I finished a few years ago (which I still love, it hangs out on my couch). The yarn is some of the antique yarn my mother brought me that I used for Narragansett, it will be super warm!


I'm so close to finishing some socks I'm knitting out of my very own handspun yarn! The fiber was from a beautiful braid that Lisa (Wickedly Artsy) sent me some time ago. I still can hardly believe that I spun this!

Anyone else battling some WIPs?

11 September 2014

Daybreak Shawl

I don't think I ever mentioned this project here on the blog, but I recently finished my Daybreak Shawl. This was such a quick, fun knit and a great way to use up fingering weight scraps. It also makes a gorgeous final product.


The pattern was Daybreak by Stephen West. Every pattern I've ever knit by him as been well-written and free of errors. I did have a brief issue with understanding a part of the pattern, but that was just me not double-checking my work. It was fun and easy to get into a rhythm with.

My mother also helped a bit on this one because she was low on projects to work on at the time, so that makes it even more special!


The yarn was some left over Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in the Venetian and Stargazing colorways. As always, I frequently wondered why I knit with anything other than Madelinetosh, there is nothing I don't love about their yarns. Perfection!

PicMonkey Collage

Also, I think I deserve some applause here, because I actually pulled out all the stops and blocked this shawl right after binding off. I suffered through it, painstakingly pinned it down, and Kitty napped on it while it dried. A good time was had by all and ultimately I was glad I did it!

09 September 2014

Vacations and inspiration.

I had a wonderful trip to Western Massachusetts last week. It was just what I needed to clear my head and reset after a stressful academic challenge. Although I love the climate and outdoors offerings of North Carolina, I really find myself missing the culture and pace of life in New England.

After a blissful direct flight (isn't that the best?), my mother and I headed off to Webs for yarn shopping. I really wanted to purchase some yarn for some special projects and no other place has that kind of selection.

First I bought some nice gray wool for a sweater that I am knitting for my boyfriend, I have to admit that I am a little nervous about the dreaded sweater curse, but there is nothing better than pouring yourself into a project for a loved one. The sweater is Guston, published by Brooklyn Tweed and I decided that the texture of Rowan Pure Wool would complement it well.

PicMonkey Collage

I also found some super soft and pretty Grignasco Springfield Vintage on sale, a perfect match for Asimina's new pattern, Kusafiri. I'm so excited to be working on one of her patterns because I adore her sense of style.


..My family and I also went to the little town of Harrisville, New Hampshire to visit Harrisville Designs, one of the few remaining woolen mills left in the US. I was disappointed that the mill itself was not open for visitors; however, the beauty of the setting and their fantastic store made it worth the drive. 

..I spent some time with my brother, an apprentice woodworker, on designing a drop spindle prototype. I'm amazed at how talented (and modest) he is, it was so much fun watching him transform a small block of wood into something functional and beautiful. You can see an example of some of his recent furniture work on my mother's Flickr.

It was a fun trip, but now it's back to work! I hope you are all well and that your weeks are full of creative energy!

29 August 2014


I'm currently on my way to Massachusetts for a much needed vacation. I plan on getting some relaxing knitting and spinning finished, visiting my alma mater, going hiking, spending time with my family, and making my yearly pilgrimage to Webs!

I recently finished my Narragansett sweater, it was a very quick knit and super relaxing. Only halfway into this knit, I found myself thinking about which yarn I would knit it in next. I think this will be a repeat project for me, it was simply that nice.


The pattern is Narragansett by Thea Colman. It is knit top down and features gentle cables from the neckline all the way down the sleeves, as well as down the waist (I decided not to knit that particular detail). The pattern is well-written and straight-forward, just how I prefer them. This is such a pretty design, I'm surprised it hasn't been more popular. 


The yarn I used has a special story. It was some antique yarn that my mother discovered recently back home in Kansas. The old, decaying labels provided enough information to know that the yarn had originally come from Massachusetts and that it is 100% wool. My mother knew that I would appreciate this and gave me some in black, light blue, and dark blue. In all, probably enough yarn to make six sweaters in my size! 

It was a little scratchier than I generally prefer, but very warm and certainly precious. 


Have you ever been gifted yarn with a special story?

25 August 2014

Life becomes crazy

Whew, it's been a crazy last few days! It has definitely been one of those periods of time where it feels like every moment has been filled and the days are whirling together into an unintelligible mess.

It was super tough, but I passed my preliminary exam and now officially get to call myself a PhD candidate! Thank you so much for all the well-wishes. I definitely have a lot of people in my life to thank for reaching this little milestone.


Finally, I am able to return my attentions to what I really, truly enjoy doing, being in lab doing experiments. My workspace has been so lonely!

Kitty has been doing well, despite the fact that she is now on a diet on veterinarian's orders. Maybe that's why she starts daydreaming of escape in the middle of grooming...hmmm.


I've been knitting, spinning, weaving, and painting as well. I have had so many exciting creative opportunities and challenges lately as well. I promise to report on those in the near future!

photo-1 (dragged)

Do you have some exciting new ways in which you are challenging yourself creatively? 

19 August 2014

This Week's Challenges


Still working away on my Kennedy sweater.  I finished the body quickly because I love the cabled design so much!  Now I'm slogging through the sleeves, knitting them two-at-a-time definitely helps!


Halfway done with the singles for my Black Jacob 3-ply.  My favorite aspects of this fiber are the smell and the natural color of it.  I think I'll be buying more next time I visit New England!


Thursday I have a graduate school milestone that I have been preparing to face for the last couple of months.  If all goes well and I pass I'll be an official PhD candidate and be able to continue my studies.  I'm nervous and even a little panicky, but stolen moments with fiber and nutritious, homecooked meals prepared by my boyfriend are keeping me sane.

How do you motivate yourself during challenging periods in your life?

15 August 2014

Cinnie Cardigan

A few weeks ago I bound off this little cardigan and as I did so I remembered how throughly enjoyed the process of knitting it.


The pattern is Cinnie by Bonne Marie Burns, the long version, because I'm not a huge fan of shrugs.  The lace charts were highly addictive and surprisingly easy to memorize.  This pattern just made sense to me, clicked nicely at each step along the way.

You may notice that the bottom front of the cardigan is a little tight and pulls up, this is my curse, I can never get those edges where you have to pick up a certain number of stitches quite right.  It's just something I will have to work on!  I'm certain that some persuasive blocking might help me out here.


The yarn is Berroco Vintage dk, a yarn that I have always enjoyed working with.  It was great for the stitch definition required to really make this pattern shine.  Although, I think that if I were to knit this cardigan again (and believe me, I do), I would pick a slightly more crisp yarn, maybe a cotton/wool blend to really bring that lace out.


I'm happy that I'm finishing this cardigan just in time for Fall!

13 August 2014

Dyeing Fiber with Tea II

One of my most popular blog posts and memorable projects was when I dyed fiber with tea a few years ago.  The end product was a gentle color that I have admired every time I've seen it while digging around in my stash.

In addition to having that naturally dyed skein brightening my stash, I had a skein that had the exact opposite effect on me.  It was the result of a past food dye experiment that did not yield very impressive results.  I thought the colors were too light and bland, and almost every time I saw that skein I would think "Someday I'll do something with you, poor little guy".

Lately I've been stockpiling used tea bags and freezing them.  It took me a while to get a substantial number saved because I prefer loose leaf tea, but the other day I decided that it was finally time to put them to good use.

I followed pretty much the same exact method as I did last time, starting with soaking the yarn in a 1:3 white vinegar to water solution.  The colors actually appear much darker here than when they are dry.


Then I added ~30 used tea bags (most of them were generic black teas) to boiling water and let them sit until the water was saturated.


The base yarn was Knit Picks Bare Merino DK, which really dyes well and has an excellent texture following the process, I love working with it.

I removed the tea bags and added my yarn... 


...and ended up with this!  I think it is a huge improvement, the colors are more rich and have a delicate gradient.  The best part of this was, it took very little time and effort for such a wonderful effect.  I'm very pleased with it.


Now that skein won't be pitied anymore and I'm already dreaming of what I'll knit with it!

Do you have any yarn in your stash that just doesn't appeal to you very much?

11 August 2014

New Skills - Weaving

Recently, I was inspired to order a small frame loom.  This inspiration stemmed from many sources, particularly A Beautiful Mess' weaving class.  The second I saw their simple designs and use of texture, I knew that was a perfect way to use and display scraps of handspun yarn.  And believe me, I have quite a few little skeins that I want to use creatively.

I decided to go simple and purchase the Lap Loom A from Harrisville Designs.  I was interested to learn that this vendor is actually a small, family-owned spinnery in New Hampshire, US.  I've been lucky enough to visit an industrial spinnery before and they are really fascinating.  I'm already making plans with my mother to visit this Fall.


The construction of the loom is very sturdy and minimalist, which is how I prefer my tools.  It also came with some of Harrisville Designs' yarns, which were well suited for learning with.

Once I got the hang of the process (not shown here), I picked out some little bits of handspun to experiment with.  Each of the fiber types works differently in this context, so I picked some 100% silk (pink/purple/black), black jacob wool (brown), and a mix of merino and several plant fibers (blue/green) among others.


I still have a few tension and consistency issues, but it's such a relaxing process.  I love watching the strands pile up on each other and seeing how the different fiber concentrations work together.


I'm not the only one jumping into this new world, Evelyn (Project: Stash) recently started weaving as well, her work is gorgeous!

08 August 2014

Onslaught of finished projects

I debated with myself about whether I wanted to blog about some of the projects I've finished so far this year.  I settled on a few that I really wanted to share because I enjoyed them so much!  Also, I must apologize in advance for looking so melancholy in these photos, I have no idea why!

I have been wanting to knit another Gemini for ages, I knit one two years ago and I loved both the process of knitting it and the finished product so much.

The pattern is Gemini by Jane Richmond, published in Knitty, Spring + Summer 2012 and there's something about the simplicity of this pattern that makes it so appealing to me.


The yarn for this top was some that I have treasured for a while now, it was some upcycled cashmere yarn that me and my mother worked together to save.  It was a wonderful process that I detail a little more in a previous post (I estimated that I saved at least $43 a skein by upcycling!).  Knitting this old favorite with such a special yarn made this project particularly memorable.


I also really enjoyed knitting this Rockfall Sweater, which I finished in April.  I love sweaters with an interesting construction and detail, this one is definitely following one of my favorite fashion trends, strategically placed mesh and lace.

The pattern is Rockfall Sweater by Mari Chiba, published in Knitscene, Spring 2013.

PicMonkey Collage

Although I love the end product and this was a fun pattern to knit, I was frustrated by a couple aspects of this project.  For one, I think the sizing runs a little small, if I were to knit this again, I would go up a size for sure.  Secondly, the neckline instructions were vague in places and made it very frustrating.  I ended up having to frog, rewrite, and knit the section several times to make it look right.  I would definitely recommend planning out the neckline before you start on it.


Both of these projects turned out so wonderfully and I'm looking forward to Fall when I can start wearing my new Rockfall sweater!

06 August 2014

Wednesday Works In Progress

Kennedy... I cast this sweater on because I really wanted to join the Summer Sweater KAL with Very Shannon.  The KAL is going until September, so I think I can pull it off!  The pattern is Kennedy by Anniken Allis and I've just reached the cabling section, I always find that exciting!

Black Jacob Handspun... I have been dying to start a new spinning project, it has been months since I've spun anything at all!  The only fiber I had available was some leftover black jacob wool that I used to make some handspun socks for my mother a few years ago.  I love working with this fiber, it's always a simple joy.
100% black jacob wool

Sock Scrap Blanket... I'm still making excellent progress on the cushion cover.  I'm also learning that learning to join crochet squares is particularly challenging with black, fingering weight yarn.