The Comfort Zone in BSF Techno

A young woman standing with her arms crossed wearing a plum handknit poncho.

Everyone reaches for different projects – or crafts – for different reasons. While working on my Masters in Library Science, I knit almost exclusively socks, in fact I was cranking out almost a pair per week due to the train commute and the long lectures. In the dead of winter, I find myself reaching for colors that I don’t find often in the winter wonderland outside my door. For whatever reason, summer often has me reaching for thicker wools and larger projects. Despite the hot June that summer brought, the cooler July weather had me dreaming of being wrapped in something warm and fuzzy. Add that to procrastinating a lace shawl I’ve been slowly working on for months (more on that soon, I promise!), and the Comfort Zone poncho by Espace Tricot found its way off my queue and onto my needles. Especially as we transition back to working from our cool (yes even in winter) offices.

Confession time: I’ve never actually knit with Blue Sky Fibers’ Techno before. There isn’t really a good reason for this outside of “I don’t work with bulky or single ply yarns frequently”. That being said, when deciding to cast on the Comfort Zone, I found myself thinking about how warm and snuggly the fabric Techno would create. Plus, being a Blue Sky Maker for a little bit longer means that it’s the perfect time to try new yarn.

Actually knitting with Techno is so much fun, possibly because of the ease in which new strands spit slice together and possibly because it feels like you’re knitting from a cloud. Though fuzzy in nature, Techno does not tickle my nose the way some alpaca yarns do and I don’t feel the need to reach for a lint roller after knitting on my lunch break.

A young woman standing sideways to the camera holding the bottom edge of her plum poncho away from her body.

The Comfort Zone knit up both faster and slower than I thought it would, whether that’s because I anticipate thicker yarns knitting up quicker or not is a toss up. In order to make something that provides a little more movement in the arms, I modified the sizing of the pattern a little bit. Knowing that alpaca and alpaca blends tend to create a heavy drapey fabric, I cast on for size 1 and knit until the ribbing was 4 inches (instead of 6). Then, I increased up to the size 2 stitch count (104 to be exact), which is 4 rows longer than the plan rows following the increases call for. Knowing that the final ribbing would add 5 inches, I measured my poncho with a goal of having around 12 inches and discovering that I had 14. I started the bottom ribbing without knitting any extra rows.

Now that the Comfort Zone is off my needles, I find myself wondering what else I can add to my wardrobe in Techno (Tamarack Blanket Scarf perhaps? Or a sweatshirt style sweater in Club Grey?). The bloom induced by wet blocking has created this feeling of wool armor that’s designed to keep me safe from the cold. Though I’m not one to rush the summer months away, I do find myself looking longingly at the Comfort Zone each time I enter my closet. Is it my fault that I’m happy with the fabric and the fit?

Let’s Knit together: #jojifallkal2021

Logo for joji fall knit along 2021.

Joji Locatelli is hosting her 10th fall knit-along (KAL) this year and I’ve decided to enthusiastically participate! With so many of her patterns either favorited or sitting in my queue, it’s hard to believe that I haven’t participated in one of her fall KALs yet. Having participated in her Starting Point mystery knit along during the summer of 2017 (was it really that long ago?), I’m looking forward to the community of knitters that Locatelli brings together.

As a Wonderland Yarns ambassador, I’ve been trying to work with yarn colors or put-ups that I wouldn’t normally reach for when shopping at my local yarn store(s). This lead to the creation of my rainbow scarf and coordinating hat, a set that was enthusiastically received for one of my dear friend’s birthday. While blacks and rainbow colors are not out of my comfort zone, I’m not someone who’s quick to reach for yarn sets. In my mind, it’s hard to determine what to do with them (even though they come with a fun shawl pattern!). Now that I’ve worked with Combo #12, I have to admit that it’s a lot of fun to work with pre-determined color pallets. They’re a great way to play around with colors without committing to a large skein, which was a fun challenge rather than a “am I ever going to use this” one. I’ve got my eye on a few other combos, but I’m not planning on using any of them for the fall KAL.

While looking through Wonderland Yarn’s catalog, I fell in love with their blossom gradients and set to work trying to find a pattern that would allow the yarn’s beauty to speak for itself. There are so many shawl, cowl and mitten patterns to choose from, but I really wanted something that was going to highlight the gradient no matter what outfit I grabbed for the day. Locatelli released Fading Lines during my first year of what I’ll call “serious knitting” and I’ll be honest and say that I didn’t add it to my queue or favorites right away. Rather, this is a pattern that I’ve enjoyed looking at over the years but never really saw myself choosing colors to work it successfully.

With the help of the wonderful folks at Wonderland Yarn, I was able to choose a gradient that I loved and they found three yarns that would work will with it (this in my mind is the hardest part). From there, many of you voted on my Instagram in order to help me narrow it down from two to the one I’m going to be working with. To those of you who voted, thank you for helping me decide!

Choosing Fading Lines puts me on Team Cardigan and I’m looking forward to the fun that the next six weeks have in store!

Logo for team cardigans for the joji fall knit along 2021

Garden Party Flax Light

Fingering weight superwash merino wool with nylon is a reliable base across yarn dyers. It’s a workhorse that you can reach for with confidence regardless of whether or not you’ve heard of a brand before because fingering weight superwash merino with nylon is predictable. Each skein will have more or less the same amount of stretch and bloom when you block it. Each skein will handle textured stitches in more or less the same way and each skein will provide you with a thin but warm garment. What I’m really saying here, is that buying a skein of fingering weight merino yarn is one of the safest things you can do.

Honestly, I think my local yarn store only had the one color of Mitchell’s Creations when my husband and I went in to buy yarn a few weeks ago (actually I don’t think I need to correct how I said that, he enjoys choosing colors!). As I poured over the self striping sock yarn, the Garden Party skeins called to him. It was the first skein he picked up and proudly brought over, know that he was contributing to our hunt for gender neutral baby sweater yarn.

I got back and forth with how easy it is to find gender neutral colors as I think our industry is slightly slanted to those with more feminine tastes. So while I wasn’t reaching for pinks and blues (or whites… I’ve never understood why so many people knit white for babies), I was at least looking for vibrant greens and oranges. When he presented his skein of Garden Party, my initial reaction was “are those really baby colors?”. Me, the same woman who knit a hot pink and black baby sweater for her punk friend. Before he even replied with his “I mean I’d like to receive this so my child could wear it” I realized that my own color biases had set in. Adding the skein to the red one I was carrying, I realized that he was right for the same reason I made the right choice to knit a hot pink and black sweater: the baby doesn’t care.

It’s the same reason so many families probably hold first birthday parties for their little ones who won’t remember who was their or what their cake tasted like. It’s a moment for the parent where they get to see everyone surround the little one that they’ve managed to raise for a whole year. Or in the case of this little sweater, a moment where the parent realizes that you’ve paid attention to who they are as people and want them to know they deserve to be warm.

While I want to say that this is my last flax light for a little bit, it’s such a quick little sweater to crank out and has so many modification options that I can really only say it’s my last one for the immediate future. I have a lace shawl that needs to be finished and a cardigan that needs to be started. I’m calling this one Garden Party Flax Light after the yarn’s color way, the “only” pattern modifications is the addition of Justin’s Flannel texturing (I really need to knit myself one of those so that I don’t steal my husband’s all winter!). Despite the colors being more muted than what I typically reach for, I think this little sweater came out really cute!

A handknit multicolored baby sweater with a waffle texture.

(Unofficial) Camp Loopy 2021: July Challenge

Camp Loopy July Challenge: This month we are celebrating stripes – like the stripes of the big top tent! You can do stripes of color, stripes of sections of stitches, stripes of beads, etc. Just so your project has stripes of some sort going on. (see some examples below). The July project must use 600 or more yards, single knit.

https://blog.theloopyewe.com

As a general rule, I’m not a stripes person. This may be because there was a time in my childhood where everything I owned was striped, after all I felt the same way about floral patterns for a long time as well. This isn’t to say that nothing in my closet is striped, there are several “go-to” pieces that do in fact meet the striped description. Mostly, this is to say that generally speaking I don’t enjoy knitting stripes. So when you consider the July camp challenge and what design elements are most likely missing from my queue, it shouldn’t be a huge surprise that I struggled to make this one work.

After pouring over patterns on Ravelry and seriously considering a baby blanket pattern (or 3), I decided that the best thing to do was to let go of the official constraints of the challenge and focus solely on the stripes piece. This decision was made when I realized that the pattern I needed to knit I a) already had the yarn for and b) wasn’t going to hit the 600 yard limit. On the one hand, this meant that I won’t qualify for the rewards piece of the challenge. On the other hand, I’d get a head start on my holiday knitting.

In the end, I opted to knit Little Sock Arms by Stephanie Lotven in a size 2T. The sweater is knit using two different fingering weight yarns (or colors), utilizing a skein of stripped yarn to make the sleeves fancy. You work the body of the sweater in the round bottom up until the arm pit and then divide for front and back before eventually using a three needle bind-off to reconnect the front pieces to the back. The sleeve stitches are then picked up and then worked in a top down manner.

This was the simple project that my hands needed to work this month and I’m happy with the way that it turned out. For the body of the sweater, I used Knit Picks stroll in Duchess Heather which was chosen because it matched Knit Picks Felici Fingering Weight in Countess. Countess, used for the sleeves, was chosen first.

While I know that children don’t really need waist shaping in the same way that women’s sweater’s do, I feel like the body of this sweater is boxier/looser than the arms of the sweater. Maybe it’s “simply” the measurements of little bodies? That being said, I’m comforted by all of the little ones wearing their sweaters and looking cute on Ravelry. All in all, I would probably knit this one again.

Purple sweater with multi-colored purple stripes on the sleeves.
iswimlikeafish’s Little Sock Arms

The Rosie Dress

A young woman standing with her arms gently crossed across her waist wearing a white dress with a floral print.

A couple of weeks ago, we hosted a small backyard wedding to celebrate our marriage. In attendance were my parents, sister (+ her husband and my niece) and my grandparents. My husband’s is spread out across the world, everyone wished that things were different and there is an end is sight for travel restrictions.

Covid and my mother in law not being able to travel to the states without a quarantine fee aside, I don’t think we would have done things any other way. Neither one of us wanted a big wedding and we strongly believe that we made the right choice for our little family. Although, if I’m being completely honest with myself, if covid hadn’t been a limiting factor in our decisions we probably would have gotten married on a beach in New Zealand.

Since my family came in with expectations that I would be wearing a white dress, I dutifully searched the internet for something that would suit my personality and our wedding venue. The goal was to feel like a wood elf or a fairy, I wanted to be able to move rather than feel encumbered by layers of lace.

The “problem” is I didn’t want to compromise on what I wanted. I wanted something that screamed wild flower meadow and it didn’t seem to exist. A couple hours after scanning Spoonflower and a few other places later, I hopped over to my former local yarn store to look at their sewing patterns (because they’re also a fabric store!) and committed to the Rosie Dress.

In terms of fabric, I ended up deciding to use Spoonflower’s Linen Cotton Canvas. While the fabric is heavier than one of their cottons, I like the stiffer drape and the over all feel of the fabric. It feels like something that could holdup over time and seems to get softer every time I wash it.

Now I would like to think of someone who follows directions, after all I don’t have a problem following knitting patterns and I certainly didn’t have a problem working through lab procedures while getting my Biology. With this in mind, it’s “easy” to conquer new sewing patterns because it’s “just a matter of following the directions”. Except I totally missed the seam allowance requirements and ended up with a bodice that was 4 inches too big! (Note: The pattern was very beginner friendly, I simply made the dress at a time when I didn’t really understand how much seam allowance matters. Never fear friends, I totally get it now xD). Between adjusting the fit to accommodate this and needing to further shorten the straps, the back is not as clean and crisp as it was when I started.

Another learning opportunity for me occurred during the gathering stage. While I’m slowly becoming more confident with my gathers, I didn’t realize that I should have begun my basting stitches as close to the seams as possible. To compensate for this error, I manually bunched areas instead of redoing the basting stitches.

Mistakes were made and there’s a little bit of Frankensteining to make it work, but it’s the third dress I’ve ever made and I’m thrilled with how it came together. I haven’t decided whether or not I will ever make a second dress out of this pattern (in the end I’m not sure I like the pleating of the skirt, perhaps I would do a full father next time?), but I am confident that I will be reaching for another Sew Over It pattern again in the future.

A young woman twirling with her arms stretched wide wearing a white dress with a floral print.