About that Stash

Thank you all for your comments on Melba’s sweater! She is taking the praise with great composure ;)

I have a FO to show you, just as soon as I get my photographer back. In the meantime, let’s check in on the stash.

Yummy squishy Quince & Co.

Yummy squishy Quince & Co.

As you’ll recall, I ended last year with a lot more yarn than I started with. This year started with an addition: 2,040 yards that I asked for as a gift. It’s already on the needles, getting knitted into a sweater for a certain thin-blooded somebody.

Then I was very good, using up most of my latest additions for Mummy’s cape and the dogzilla sweater. I dug out stash yarn for some knitted gifts, and to knit some patches for an old, worn sweater.

While I still knit more slowly than I’d like, my grand stashbusting total for the year is 2483.3 yards out. Not too shabby!

Except then we went to Lawrence and I visited the Yarn Barn.

Pink yarn



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Sick Day Knitting

green cabled knitting

Finally, the collar. See that mis-crossed cable? I’m not ripping back.

Querido insisted I print myself a new stitch pattern page and laminate it the second it came off the printer.  I don't know why.

Querido insisted I print myself a new stitch pattern page and laminate it the second it came off the printer. I don’t know why.

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After my initial failed attempt to knit Melba a sweater, I lost my enthusiasm but didn’t give up. On car rides, during movies, and at Knit Night, I pegged away at my wonky-shaped little green sweater.

Melba in her Dogzilla sweater

Dogzilla takes to the rolling grasslands

Lo and behold, it fits my wonky-shaped little Melba.

Melba in her Dogzilla sweater

Epic sneeze

The spikes were absolutely essential.  Although Melba does not have to turn up her ferocity in the same way she did when defending her dog run against the incursions of an entire apartment’s worth of other dogs, she still tromps around the yard as if each step must shake the earth.

Melba in her Dogzilla sweater

Dogzilla tromps across the prairie

And ok–the spikes were there for me, too.  In spite of its size, this sweater was no small endeavor.  I needed something to keep me forging through the uncertainty of the design process.  Right now, all the iffiness involved in designing is not exhilarating, it’s stressful.  Next time around, I will let someone else take care of the iffiness.

Melba in her Dogzilla sweater

Dogzilla all worn out

The sweater is about half an inch too short, but Melba tromped around in cold the yard in it quite happily. When we came back in, the sweater got the ultimate seal of Melba approval: she fell asleep still wearing it. No more sad ears here!

It’s been a while since I’ve linked to pattern notes, and I’ve never linked to pattern notes that are this messy, but what the heck–here they are. If you don’t happen to have a Chiweenie in need of a Dogzilla sweater, there are more pictures of Melba tromping about.

What about you guys–has anyone else knitted a sweater for their dog? What pattern did you use, and more importantly, how did it turn out?

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On a Roll

Purple Bandana Cowl

Good morning and thank you all so much for your lovely comments on the cape and shawls :)

I think I’m on a roll with finishing things…or maybe I’ve finally discovered the joy of bulky yarn. Last weekend, I fished around in my stash and found a skein plus a smidge of Quince & Co. Osprey in Frank’s Plum. I’m a huge fan of Quince & Co.’s very dense, cushy yarns, and although Osprey is labeled as an aran, I have used it as a bulky without any trouble. The color Frank’s Plum is a rich purple, and up until I moved, I didn’t know when I was going to wear that color. I never wore purple. Well, my new school’s color is purple, and people take their purple-wearing very seriously around here. Suddenly, I realize I’m going to need a lot more purple yarn.

After eyeing Purl Soho’s Bandana Cowl for several years (the pattern was published in 2011 and I’m pretty sure I have been checking it out that whole time), I finally let go and knit it. Other UFOs? Bah–it’s bulky time!

Wham–one day later, I had a cowl. The pattern looks small, but it’s dense and very warm. It kept me snug during a walk in the winter dusk, and is much less bulky than the shawl I’ve been using as a scarf. Huzzah!

Do you have any new winter accessories? How are they holding up to the weather?

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Fanks Mummy

Woman wearing a knitted plaid cape

The bridesmaids, being bridesmaids, got a lot of attention at the wedding, not to mention handmade shawls. But my mom did a ton of work too, so when it became apparent that I would have enough yarn but not enough time or emotional energy to make her a shawl too, I went for plan B: A cape in big bulky yarn.

This is the Plaidscape from Holla Knits Fall 2013 collection. When the collection came out and I saw this cape, I thought immediately of Mummy. It just took me a while to go from inspiration to execution.

Woman wearing a knitted plaid cape

When you print out this pattern, it looks a little scary: there are eight pages, with a page and a half devoted to knitted on edges and finishing–eek! Once I got knitting, however, I realized it was not scary at all. The raglan body flew off the needles, the rounded hems were just a few short rows, and the vertical stripes were just slip stitch crochet. I had a lot of ends to weave in when I was done, but with my Knit Night buddies cheering me on, even that wasn’t too bad.

Woman wearing a knitted plaid cape

(Note: if you don’t follow the directions for the back, you will end up with two vertical stripes of the same color next to one another. Not that I have trouble following directions.)

Woman wearing a knitted plaid cape

Plied bulky yarn is hard to find, but I wanted something hard-wearing, so I chose Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Bulky. This line comes in crayon-solid colors, so the color scheme was a little more varsity than the edgy grellow look I originally intended. As I gave the Plaidscape a test drive out on the bleachers of a nearby school (do not be deceived by that warm sunset: it was pretty darn cold out), I remembered that all garments look different when being worn than on the needles. Plaidscape was not exception: out in the wild, it looked great. My mind started wandering to color schemes that might go with my own wardrobe. Browns and purples? Black, gray, and red?

Not to worry: I got that cape packed off to Arizona, and Mummy loves it. Thanks again Mummy!

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The Extra Mile

Last year, I submitted you all to a lot of fussing about Christmas gifts, which I never revealed. The truth is…I fibbed. I wasn’t knitting Christmas gifts, I was knitting wedding stoles.

Soon after Querido and I were engaged, I hit upon this brilliant plan. I was going to go the extra mile, and not just buy my bridesmaids gifts, but *make* them gifts. Elegant stoles for each of three bridesmaids, and me! Each one knitted with the same special yarn, but a different pattern!

The first thing I needed to do to put my plan into action was to find the perfect yarn. I scoured yarn stores and the interwebs for yarns spun from special fibers and hand dyed. I decided pretty quickly that a wool-silk blend would be best, but which blue? Reds and greens are famous for their variability, but I’m putting in a vote for blue as equally variable. I had no way of knowing how accurate the colors I was seeing on my computer screen were, so I had to see some of these yarns in person. That plan quickly escalated to a yarn-buying spree.

Swans Island Natural Colors Merino Silk

Posh Yarn Gretchen Lace

Jade Sapphire Lacey Lamb

Skein of teal yarn

That last skein of teal? I bought 12 skeins of that because it looked almost blue on the store’s site. Living proof, people, that colors do not always display accurately on your monitor. After that setback and much more agonizing, I chose the yarn in the top photo–Swans Island Merino Silk in Lapis–as the winner.

Then I spent hours on Ravelry, looking at patterns. Patterns for rectangular stoles seem pretty rare, especially as the triangular shawl craze morphed into a crescent shawl craze, but “rare” for shawls is relative: I still found myself sifting through several thousand stole patterns in search for the right ones. Then there was the three-day period where I was convinced that gently curved stoles would be better than plain rectangles…I looked at a lot of stole patterns. Finally, I decided to knit the High Seas stole for myself because the waves mirrored the swooping lines of sequins on my wedding dress, but for my bridesmaids I went with simpler stoles that nodded to the Deco period’s geometric shapes. Hermanita’s is the Cleopatra Wrap from one of my favorite shawl designers, Miriam Felton. Although patterns by Susanna IC do not usually work for me, I chose the Rose Lace Stole for Monita. For my cousin, Bordeaux.

Then came the knitting. Oh so much knitting. My Epic Seas stole might have been the slowest, because there was shaping on every row, but it felt like the fastest because every row I was building the little waves. All the other stoles have a similar structure: a relatively detailed edge and a body of basic columns separated by eyelets. In tiny laceweight yarn. Oh so many long columns.



White cat asleep on a blue lace shawl

Kitten blankie, of course.

These stoles came with me everywhere: on the train to work, on car rides, on vacations. To movies and to the library. I don’t have that many in-progress pictures, in part because they were simply always there. Omnipresent and unavoidable, they occasionally became cat blankies.

Perhaps the worst part was that they were a surprise, and my bridesmaids are blog readers, so I could not complain to the blog about the agony of all this lace. When I wanted to vent about my once-brilliant plan to knit nearly 5,000 yards of laceweight yarn into stoles, all I could tell the blog was that the “Christmas gifts” were giving me trouble. Five thousand yards is actually 2.8 miles, so I guess I should say I went the extra two miles.

Just when I was sure they would never end, and I would be knitting blue lace until I keeled over dead, I finished one.

Rose Stole

And then another.

Cleopatra Stole

And then another.

Bordeaux Stole

Knitting four large lace stoles in less than a year was a crazy plan, but on the big day, it was just as I had envisioned last winter: we were all done up in our silver dresses, and the blue of the yarn was a perfect counterpoint to the sparkles. Each stole was elegant and unique, all their travels (and travails) blocked away into drapey columns of delicate lace. Five thousand yards of merino silk yarn was the best way I had to say I was happy to be surrounded by three of the most special people I know, and I think they knew that’s what I meant.

Bride and bridesmaids wearing blue knitted lace shawls

Left to right: Bordeaux, Rose Lace Stole, High Seas, Cleopatra Wrap. Image by Abigail Lynch

It was a great plan.

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Sad Ears

Chiweenie in a green sweater making a sad face

Melba wouldn’t move from this exact pose once the sweater went on.

My first attempt at knitting Melba a sweater didn’t go so well. The knitting part was fine. The wearing–not so much.

Chiweenie in a pink sweater curled under a green blanket

My life is so hard.

After we released her from the sweater, she curled up in a sad ball on one corner of the couch to recover from her traumatic experience, I frogged the whole thing, adjusted *all* my numbers, and began again.

Fourth time’s the charm?

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All the Knitalongs

Dark green knitting on a sofa upholstered with Ikea fabric

Another dark day.

Hello all, I’m back! I have been lurking terribly here, dragging my feet on putting together posts about FOs. But there’s lots of energy everywhere else in the blogosphere. Kate Davies published a cardigan version of Owls, Laura Chau updated her Top Down Shoulder Warmer, and BOTH Tin Can Knits and Holla Knits are starting knitalongs. I’m not sure I can stand it.

The year is fresh enough that I feel like I can knit ALL THE THINGS. Right now I am attempting to focus on knitting a sweater for Melba: just one little project. Taking stock of all my yarn at the beginning of the month was good: it reminded me of all the projects I’d matched to stash yarn, projects that I’d love to knit and have. I haven’t decided yet, though. Join a knitalong and actually discipline myself to finish things? Or go along in my usual distractable, undisciplined way?

What goals do you have for your 2015 knitting?

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A Year of Yarn

O-Wool Local

Jade Sapphire Lacey Lamb

At Bullard Farms Wonder

Posh Yarn Gretchen Lace

Cestari Heather Collection

Lion Brand Cotton-Ease

Ístex Létt-Lopi

Manos Del Uruguay Serena

Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Bulky

Swans Island Natural Colors Merino Silk

This year brought much new yarn into my stash. 18,130 yards, to be precise.  I used a calculator to get that number. Querido, who likes numbers, was very quick to calculate in his head how many miles are in 18,130 yards.  It’s 10.3, for those of you who also need a calculator.


Also note to self: do not tell Querido how much yarn is in the stash next year.

Before you dial the producers of Hoarders, check out how much lace is up there: the purple, navy, and blue yarns, plus the wound skein of indigo and some teal not pictured were all candidates for the High Seas shawl before I decided on the indigo.

Some single skeins entered the stash to help make stashbusting projects look like proper projects, not “I’m using all these weird yarns together because I happened to have them” projects. Some yarn, like the O-Wool (blue) and Cestari (seaglass green) were purchased on vacation.

So…why did I need all that yarn? For the Epic Seas Shawl. To give new parents a baby Alien egg and baby alien. To make Melba’s sitter a hat. For finishing my longest-running UFO ever. For Christmas gifts (sorry, no reveal on those yet. I had difficulties calculating how long it would take to ship the last one and consequently the recipient has yet to receive hers.).

I finished 26 projects last year, though, and all the rest used yarn that I already had hanging out in my stash. A small herd of Easter Bunnies. A cowl. A sweater and a vest. A beret. Baby washcloths. A shawl.

Most of these projects were small, a hundred-odd yards if even that, but taken together they equaled 10,023 yards of knitting. That’s about 5.7 miles. Only a smidge over half of what went in, but hey–knitting 5.7 miles takes a big time investment.

Although I am embarrassed to admit how much yarn I bought this year, it was also pretty empowering to be able to say EXACTLY how much came and went. If you use Ravelry but have never tracked yarn in/yarn out before, here’s my methodology:
–I tracked yardage using my Ravelry Library. This meant going back and finding yardage on some projects where I got lazy and didn’t track. Keep good records from the start, people: it will save you so much effort later. To that end, buy one of those little food scales. They’re not very expensive and they are so useful.
–If I had been good and tracked purchase dates with yardage, I could have downloaded the Excel file with yardage and date purchased. However since I didn’t, I had to sort stash by date added and record each amount on pen and paper. This only worked because I am mostly good about adding stash yarn soon after I’ve bought it. In other words, add your purchase date people.
–Only finished objects were counted in yardage knitted. This means that the Sexxxy Librarian Vest didn’t get counted.
–Finished objects that were begun in the preceding year were counted. The Holla Back Tank hung out on the needles for over a year, but it belongs to the year in which it was finished.

Now that I know I have 4.6 miles of yarn plus…a bit…in my stash, I think the only thing to do is start knitting.

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Happy Birthday Yesterday

(Title courtesy of Mark Mulcahy: I know the version off this album)

Happy New Year, one and all!

Gray cat sitting happily in the sun

Fermi got what he wanted in 2014: a sunny window.

My plan for the new year was to indulge myself in a day of rest, relaxation, and knitting. The unwashed laundry and uncleaned bathrooms and wedding planning together managed to exert such gravitational pull, however, that I got sucked into that black hole instead. Ah well. I have fresh sheets and the DJ has an updated music list.

The fuzzies knew how to do the day right, at least.

Street scene with snow in Philadelphia

Philadelphia, with Snow

2014 was a weird year, wasn’t it? At the beginning, I was a marginally employed librarian freezing my hienie off at ALA Midwinter and exploring Philly with a good friend.

At the end, I was halfway across the country, moving to a new state to take a good job.

In between, there were good times, like when Mousie and I met Stephanie Pearl-McPhee. There were sad times. There was wedding planning. Lots and lots of wedding planning.

(Pro tip: do not move, start a new job, and plan a wedding all at the same time. As a matter of fact, you can skip the whole wedding planning thing altogether. Grab your sweetie, go to a courthouse, and get yourselves a nice dinner afterwards.)

I think there may have been a few holidays as well, but wedding planning stampeded all over those.

Throughout it all, I am thankful to have my health (minus the hearing, but that’s been gone a while), my Querido, my family, and my Melba. (And the kittens, but they are not ready to be comforting companions until they have run around the house, knocked something over, drunk/eaten my beverage/food, and walked through the middle of my cooking/knitting/writing.)

In the year ahead, I am looking forward to quiet. Afternoons spent reading with Querido and Melba with the kitties galloping all over us, nights spent cooking dinner and then–gasp!–going to bed early to arise the next morning rested and refreshed. I’ll be happy to leave the madness behind in 2014.

And in this fresh new year, the night is still young. So maybe, just maybe, I can start the year off with some knitting after all.

May 2015 bring you peace and happiness.

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