The Saga of the Silkpaca Fingerless Gloves (or Why I am Such an Idiot Sometimes)

How hard could it possibly be to knit a pair of lacy fingerless gloves for a Knit Along? Surely not hard at all, considering that I have knit both fingerless gloves and lace many times in the past. I consider myself a competent knitter, able to follow a pattern, but somehow my knitting skills alluded me in the most unusual of ways. That is to say, when I mess up, I do it with creative panache.

Firstly, because I had already read through the pattern days before, I cast on with size 0’s without even consulting the pattern.  I should have seen the red flag right off the bat because 45 stitches in lace weight yarn on size 0’s is freakishly tiny. I’m ashamed to admit it took me many rows of knitting before my brain kicked and and said, “this doesn’t look right. Are we making mitts for an American Girl doll, ya moron?!?”

So, I consulted the pattern which very clearly states that I was supposed to be using size 2’s. Hmm. I could have sworn it was 0, but I can admit my error. I have a lot of things on my plate. It isn’t inconcievable that I would remember the needle size wrong. Odd, to be sure, but not impossible.

Frog. Cast back on. Knit another insanely long time before that voice in my head was back. “This is still way small. Sure it could fit The Blessing, but do you really want to knit lacy fingerless gloves in expensive yarn for your two year old?” Nope.

But what was wrong? I followed the pattern this time. I was careful to make sure to do it right.

That’s when I looked to Ravelry to see if this was a common problem with this pattern (when in doubt, blame the pattern, right?).

And that’s when I realized I was using the wrong pattern. I had set out to knit Alpaca Warmers and had instead started knitting top down alpaca mitts!

But it was worse than that…

I wasn’t even in the right book!!!

I have all the 101 One Skien Wonders books. The pattern I needed is in the “designers” one and I had pulled the “luxury” one off the shelf.

Gigantic sigh. And total (well mostly) redemption of my sanity (which I was really beginning to question!). It is size 0 needles. I just needed more stitches, 72 in all. And that looked much better. I think.

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Only now it was looking a bit too big!

As I resisted the urge to fling it into the back yard and run away screaming, I tried to come up with a new plan for them. If they are too big for my 11 year old’s birthday present (with her birthday coming up fast, I had hoped to have a pretty lacy thing for her), why finish them at all? Lacy mitts for me? Back up gift? Think of someone who’d like them? Hope they fit my daughter after all? Or maybe she won’t care that they are loose?

Of course, I kept knitting, all the while thinking these things, getting deeper into a project that I have serious doubts about. Because there is nothing like frogging some great work of art after knitting most of it knowing it was going to be frogged in the end.

But I persevered and was glad I did. The first glove turned out pretty good and fit me just snuggly enough to make me think that they could still be a good gift for The Dancing Queen.

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At this point I was in love with everything about this project – the yummy yarn, the tiny needles, the pretty lace all making me so happy. But my favorite thing about it was that with only 50 grams of lace weight yarn, 6” DPNs, and minimal notions, the entire thing fits in this little pouch.

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Call me crazy, but I just love that!

Things were trucking along smoothly enough, but I didn’t finish the second mitt without a few mishaps.

The two year old pulled the needles out and I had to rip out all the lace and start at the ribbing.

The same two year old dumped The Man’s glass of wine all over my book.

And then the pattern for the second glove wasn’t the same as the first and I didn’t catch it in time, so there is a little shaping that is off. I left this as it was. At that point I couldn’t bear another frogging.

Drama, drama, drama.

But then I did it. I finished the second one. And it was all worth it.

IMG_4100-resized_medium Alpaca Warmers in malabrigo silkpaca. SO Scrumptious! 

These are seriously gorgeous. And warm despite being lacy and thin, because of the alpaca content (which is crazy warm even in tiny amounts!).

After all the uncertainty, I am going to give them to The Dancing Queen for her birthday. She has been eyeing them and fretting when I told her they were for me. I have played that card before, so she is probably suspicious. If she loves them and wears them then I can get over her lack of surprise.

I did say that I liked adventurous knitting, didn’t I? Well, I do. And after the monotony of recent knitting projects, the thrills and chills of this latest knitting was just what the doctor ordered. So happy ending to my knitting saga. And a few lessons learned along the way – lessons like,
Make sure you are in the right book.
Don’t leave the knitting within reach of the 2 year old,
and 
Sometimes the doubts in your head are totally wrong and there is an awesome finished project waiting for you at the end of the tunnel if you’ll just press on. 
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Soaker Knitting Extravaganza and a New Opportunity

Have you ever knit the same pattern twice? How about three times? Four times?

Have you ever knit the same pattern twenty eight times? And still have some in the queue?

Until recently, my answer to all of the above was a resounding “heck, no!” I am an adventure knitter. Never knit the same thing twice. EVER. If the need arose to knit more than one, I always changed something to make the second one different than the first. Knitting for me is creativity expressed. Never follow a pattern to the letter. Always see what the yarn wants to do and go with it. And NEVER knit the same pattern twice.

But no more. I have found sweet comfort in repetition. Let me tell you why.

It all started with a commission knit. One large Curly Purly soaker in each of six different colors, plus one stripey soaker with the scraps. Knit with O-Wool Classic Worsted in Saffron, Coral, Barn, Ash, Peacock, and Coast.

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These were knit for Heather at One Love Diaper Co. When she ordered them, I had no idea that I was auditioning for a greater role. Before she even received the first batch in the mail she ordered more. Lots more.

An enormous bag of yarn arrived at my door and I set myself to knitting.

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And knitting.

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And knitting. Still to come are some different stripey options. Heather now carries my knitting in her gorgeous cloth diaper store!

This is the biggest knitting job I have ever done and I was afraid, at first, of the monotony. But there is something truly nice about knitting a pattern so many times that your hands don’t ask your brain “what now?” There is something soothing about knitting around and around and around. There is something very satisfying about a tall stack of exactly matching and perfect little knits.

That said, I am so glad that stripes are next. It breaks up the monotony somewhat and gives me something to look forward to.

So check out my exclusive handknit soakers at One Love Diaper Co.

And maybe try knitting the same thing more than once. You may, like me, find a surprising pleasure in following a pattern precisely and repeatedly.

Or not. 😉

Fox Guarding the Henhouse

Naturally, when my stash was threatened this morning, I went on high alert.

I even posted a guard.

In a stroke of genius (and because I am a super fun mom), I appointed my number one suspect as guardian of the yarn, as if I never thought she would be capable of such crimes.

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I’ll let you know how that worked out as this story unfolds.

Creepers Gonna Creep

Ah, Minecraft. The amazing computer program that blends creativity and video games so seamlessly that even Mom approves. And she shows her approval by knitting creepers for her kids. Because she sucks at building anything on the actual game. Virtual blocks and pretend pickaxes only confuse her, but she is a whiz at creating stuff with wool (and I don’t mean wool blocks on a screen), so she plays along with her needles instead of her keyboard.

Introducing my little knitted creeper. As seen on Ravelry here

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There are several patterns to chose from on Ravelry (look here) but I decided to wing it when I didn’t see one that fit in the palm of the hand.

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And it was a simple thing to figure out, anyway.

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It’s basically a bunch of blocks put together just right. Here’s how I did it, in case you want to make one like it.

Knit Creeper Pattern

yarn – I used Mosaic Moon Licorice Twist DK in the colorway “Lime SS Trim For Sweet Cream Scoops”, but any sturdy, DK yarn will work.
needles – size 3 DPN’s (or a size that will produce a nice, tight gauge)
gauge – not critical, but you want it tight and small-ish

HEAD

CO 10, knit 12 rows stockinette stitch

Pickup stitches along each side of square (8 stitches along sides and 10 along end) and begin working in round.

Purl first round
Knit 8, purl 1 four times (repeat row 12 times)

Bind off 27 purl wise

Knit across flap (back and forth in stockinette) 12 rows
Stuff and sew shut

BODY

CO 20, join in round
Knit 4, purl 1 four times (repeat that round 11 times)

Bind off 15 purl wise
Knit flap back and forth 7 rows
Bind off, sew shut
Stuff and attach to head at center bottom

LEG repeat four times
Pick up four stitches from center out of bottom of body, CO 1

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Work flap 7 rows st at
Work as for head, adjusting for smaller stitch count

Repeat leg three more times –

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Use tail of one leg to tie inner corner of each leg together to firm up base

Duplicate stitch face on (I used Mal sock black held double)

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Give to resident Minecraft enthusiast and enjoy the happy.

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Keeping My Needles Clicking and Clacking

Mass producing Curly Purly Soakers has been keeping my knitting needles a clicking.

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I am using O’Wool Classic Worsted in six different colors with plans to make a stripey one with the leftovers.

These are for a commission knit that I am working on, for, sadly, my cloth diapering days appear to be over. (We have transitioned The Blessing to disposable diapers.) I wish I had tried this pattern sooner, though, because it is really quite clever. And free. The shaping is done mostly by changing needle size, and I used a wide range of needles for the above soakers – from size 2 to cast on and work the ribbing, to size 6 for the main body, and size 4 for the legs and the transition from waistband to main body. I think that these will stay up quite nice despite not having a drawstring, which is how I always have kept my baby’s britches up.

Distracting me from the above knitting is this.

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Sweater of my own design using madelinetosh Tosh Chunky in the colors Oxblood, Norway Spruce, and Glazed Pecan

It started as a few skeins of endless possibility and a winter spent wishing for a big, squishy, cozy sweater. Add to that a fun sweater knit along with some of my favorite people on Ravelry and I am hooked. Funny thing is, the KAL runs from Memorial day weekend to Labor Day weekend, and I am going to be done quite soon indeed.

I am working it as a simple, top down raglan with ever increasing fronts and a shawl collar. The stripes are inspired by Reflected Lines, a pattern available through Ravelry.

So, what is keeping your needles moving?

Must. Knit. Something.

Funny story.

She came over that evening and she actually brought her knitting. She always forgets her knitting, but on this night she remembered. Then she actually knit on her project as we visited! She hardly ever does that. Usually I’m the one knitting and she knits a few stitches and then talks and then knits a few stitches and drinks her tea and then holds the baby and then… This time she was really flying across her rows, knit. knit. knit.

So there she is knitting in my living room and I had nothing in my hands at all. I had two projects on the go, and both of them were colorwork and I don’t like to knit colorwork while I’m talking (remember the socks? Yeah. That lesson was still fresh in my mind).

So I was sitting idle.

Watching her knit.

Weird, right?

Right. Totally weird.

Desperately, I grabbed the nearest ball of yarn and cast on some longies. Then as I talked and without any planning or thought, I started switching colorways from my scrap bag.

And I was knitting, too.

All was right with the world.

And The Blessing was getting another pair of longies. One can never have too many longies.

Win, win.

I am giddy with happiness at how lovely these scrappy longies turned out. They took days to dry after lanolizing, but this morning they were ready for the photo shoot.

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The Blessing, however didn’t want to do a photo shoot.

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No, she’d much rather crawl around and put leaves in her mouth.

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Or grab for the camera.

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When I finally got her to stand, it was only for a second and then she was down again.

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But she did like climbing on her chair that Uncle T made.

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I realize that this post started out as a knitting post and has quickly turned it’s focus to a cute baby. Can you blame me?

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I didn’t think so.

Okay, so knitting details. Well, for starters, the Ravelry project page is here.

Just for kicks I decided to try Russian joins. It’s clever and I like eliminating the ends to weave in later, but it isn’t very smooth as far as the knitting goes. It leaves big bumps. It’s only longies, so it’s cool, but I doubt I’ll use it again.

The yarn is all Mosaic Moon Targhee Aran. Some of it I picked up in a scrappy swap and some I had on hand. I did use one bit of Mosaic Moon Licorice Twist Aran (the pink zebra at the knees and just before the cuffs) as the legs were looking too blue for my girlie-girl.

These ended up being just a tad too big, you can see that I rolled the cuffs. And I should have used a smaller needle as the gauge is looser than I usually like for longies. But she will grow and they are just too cute.

I am extremely happy with the results.

Rushing It

Carried by the high my first steek afforded me, I blithely picked up stitches along the neckband of my colorwork sweater.

As I sat and chatted with my in-laws during their week-long visit from Ohio, I worked away at it.

Watching Muppet movies with my kids, I worked away at it.

Drinking coffee and staying up late, I worked on it.

And then I bound off. It was done.

It looked awful.

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I knew all along that I was rushing it.

I picked up 2 stitches out of 3. It really needs 3 out of 4.

I knit a 2×2 rib, but to match the hem and the cuffs, I should have done 1×1 rib.

I was relaxed and happy, so the stitches are relaxed and happy, too.

The end result is an awesome sweater with a sloppy, poorly sized, pathetically executed button band.

I don’t have much time left if I am going to enter this sweater in the Mosaic Moon Mini Skien Contest, so I skipped the pouting, knitting something else, procrastinating, and whining phase of frogging and got right to it.

I will be glad to have it done right. I will be happy that I frogged it. I will like the look of a more dense 1×1 ribbing that actually fits the sweater. I will be proud to wear it when it looks good.

But today I am a little pouty and a little whiney as I pick up all of those stitches again. Today I am wondering if I can finish it in time to block it and photograph it for the contest. Today I am a little irritated with myself.

I guess that is what I get for rushing it.

The Steek

My heart was pounding in my chest. My palms were sweating. I could barely breathe.

Carefully, I double checked the blue lines of thread that ran up the front of my colorful knitting.

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Taking the scissors in my hand and inhaling a deep, steadying breath, I put the steel to the wool.

And then I cut it.

I think I might have started to black out a little, so I paused and waited for my sight to return.

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Seeing the shiny silver scissors eating up my knitting made me a little nauseous, but I carried on and cut up the entire length of my sweater.

My hand was shaking as I set the scissors down next to my carefully constructed knitting. I stepped back and leaned against the china cabinet for a moment.

Then I looked at my work and I was happy.

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My first steek was a success!

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She is SO Predictable

My inner knitter is doing it again. She is so predictable. You see, I had the audacity to plan out my knitting for the next couple of months. I have made a list, I have checked it twice. Christmas is coming and it is deadline time once again. I told my inner knitter that she has to buckle down and get some things accomplished. She was happy at first, to have such a pretty list of knitting to do. Inspiration was flowing and the yarn went on the needles in a happy fashion. It was hard to not knit all the things! This list was inspiring! This list was exciting! This list was totally doable!

Fast forward to today, however, and my list has made a mysterious change. My once alluring siren has now morphed into a harsh task master – whipping my conscience for not completing projects in a timely manner, shaming me for desiring a smidge of inspiration, and shackling my creativity with a sense of obligation.

My inner knitter yearns to be free from her list of must-knits, but knows that she will be so satisfied if she could only see it through. She slogs through knitting projects that long ago lost all of their cast-on excitement, and she dutifully works to complete what she started with great determination and resilience.

But she also dreams of the day when she can cast on some frivolous knit with no deadline and no anxious little person endlessly asking, “Mama, is my ______ done, yet?” and no Christmas tree to mock her.

And so, oftentimes when I sit down to knit, I will find myself on Ravelry, surfing through everyone else inspiration, living vicariously through the creative expression of other people. I will waste the entire window of knitting time poking around on other peoples’ project pages and adding more patterns to my queue.

The irony is that my queue is full of the things that I found the last time this list tortured me so. And some of the things that I am knitting now came from that wandering eye when I was trying to avoid some “must-do” knitting of the past.

It’s a vicious cycle, I tell you. Vicious. And my inner knitter never strays from the merry-go-round. Make list. Cast on. Knit. Get bored. Surf Rav. Make new list. And on and on it goes.

This actually reminds me of my stash. Oh, inner knitter! You have gobs of gorgeous yarn! Pounds upon pounds of heavenly fiber! Why do you continue to haunt etsy? and Eat.Sleep.Knit? and swap groups? Use the amazing stash that you have, already!

My inner knitter is so predictable!