Windsday French Cancan

About a year and a half ago, I purchased some yarn from Goosey Fibers intending to make a Birds of a Feather shawl. The yarn was caked, the pattern printed, and yet the days slipped by without the project being cast on. The yarn and I would stare at each other, we both knew that it was beautiful and would be cozy around my neck. At first, I didn’t cast on because I was suffering from morning (all day) sickness. Then I didn’t cast on because I didn’t think I could handle working a pattern that required focus. Finally, I realized that the real reason the project wasn’t happening is that the yarn didn’t want to be a Birds of a Feather.

As someone who typically buys yarn with a specific project in mind, this doesn’t often happen to me. Usually, I’m so excited about the upcoming project that it’s all I can do not to start it right away. With 460 yards of each colorway, I looked at patterns that were holding mohair with another yarn as well as patterns that were using two different yarns to create an airy fabric. I thought about purchasing more of each colorway so that I could take on a larger project. In the end, I found myself reaching for another garter stitch shawl: French Cancan.

Just as the first time I worked this shawl, it was easy to fall into the rhythm of the stitches – both the garter stitch and the cable pattern. It’s also so incredibly warm and cozy, definitely a better choice when considering layering for cold days.

I don’t usually reach for pastel colors, so I’m pleasantly surprised with how well this French Cancan fits into my wardrobe. I’m also super into how the pink from the mohair muted some of the colors in the other strand and pulled other colors more front and center. It definitely has me thinking about other mohair projects!

There are a few other yarns in my stash that may be suffering from the same problem as my Goosey Fibers yarn, right yarn wrong project. Once I figure out what to make with it, I’ll have made a serious dent in my stash. Really serious in fact – I’m almost down to nothing which feels really weird. I really need to do a similar stash down with my fabric, but knitting is so much easier to pick up and put down (and I don’t have to worry about leaving pins where someone might hurt themselves).

If anyone has any favorite indie dyers let me know! Otherwise, I’m doing my best to hold out until I can either do some in-person shopping or attend some festivals.

A young woman in a loose stretch denium sweatshirt style dress wearing a pink garter stitch shawl with a braided cable boarder.

Ziggzaggarat Cowl + Stripped Swoosh

A white shawl with blue, light blue, green and purple stripes on a set of cable needles. The project yarn is in a bag with green chevron above the work in progress and there is a cup of tea.

A couple daycare pick-ups ago, I was asked how I find time to have hobbies while being a mom. This is a hard question to answer because I know the person who asked the question had no intention of making me feel guilty about taking the time to do things such as knit or sew, but it sure made me feel a little guilty for taking the time!

The thing is, a lot of who I am is also wrapped up in being a knitter/sewist. When asked to make statements about who I am, I’m often quick to identify as a knitter or sewist. This is an important distinction from someone who knits or someone who sews because so much of my life is spent thinking about doing the activity in addition to doing the activity.

A lot of my joy is found in making things for others. In fact, my favorite person to make for at the moment is our daughter! I’ve made her so many little sweaters and leggings over the last few months – she’s always so excited to receive them and doesn’t have a lot of preferences *yet*.

A blue gradient chevron cowl folded in half lengthwise laying on a wooden table next to porthos.

This isn’t to say that someone who knits or someone who sews shouldn’t be allowed to have time while being a parent to do these things, it’s just to say that for me it’s become one of the priorities that I need to juggle. It’s important to me that our daughter grows up seeing me be myself and that being a mom didn’t lead to me losing who I am. I hope to continue to learn and grow. I hope that I inspire her to try new things and explore new hobbies.

There are, however, a few things that help me find the time. For starters, in my mind, 5 minutes is better than no minutes. If all I can do is work a few rows of a sweater or sew one seam of a garment, that’s ok! After a while, those 5 minutes add up. I’ve also found not having that mentality means I never get any crafting done.

Another trick I’ve developed is to prep the craft in bulk. For example, if I’m going to wind yarn I’m going to wind all the yarn for a project + the next one (or two). If I’m going to cut fabric for a project, it’s worth taking the time to cut a couple more and set them aside.

The final thing that’s been working for me is to enjoy simple projects. It’s easier for me to work on projects such as the Striped Swoosh Shawlette or Zig-Zaggerate because the pattern is easy to pick up and put down.

This isn’t to judge any parents out there, especially ones who are making different choices. Nor is it to justify the choices that my family and I are making. I think the big thing is that it’s important to recognize that every family and their needs are different. I’m a better mom because I take the time to do things I love and our daughter deserves the best mom I can be. It probably helps that she gets something out of it from time to time.

New baby sweater trend? An argument for 3/4 length sleeves

An off white baby sweater with 3/4 length sleeves laying on a blue rug. The baby sweater's yoke has thick single stripes of brown, purple, green, light blue and blue and there is a wooden alligator toy next to it.

As many of you know, it’s not hard to accumulate a lot of yarn scraps of different amounts from different projects. In the interest of knitting down as much of my stash as possible over the last few months, I’ve started getting creative in terms of how those scraps are used up.

For starters, letting go of whatever weight the yarn is. It’s so easy to hold the yarn double upon itself or with another skein (or several) to manipulate the weight so that different patterns can be worked. I think this is the whole point of Stephen West’s Penguono and know it’s the point of projects such as Tincanknits Marley. I’m a huge fan of the marled look, so this technique is a lot of fun because it allows me to play with color.

If I’m honest, playing around with color seems to be the main motivator for working through my scraps. For this reason, I opted to do a couple different style yokes for two recent baby sweaters. The first uses up a mini skein pack to create thick stripes and the second is a color block yoke from the leftover messenger henley yarn.

A yellow baby sweater with 3/4 length sleeves and a tonal blue yoke laying on a blue carpet. Beneath the sweater is a paddington book and sneaker slip ons with a monster face on them.

The biggest thing I’ve played around with recently, however, has been sleeve length (Note: All of these sweaters use Flax by Tincanknits. I made my nephew a short sleeve baby sweater and cranked out two 3/4 length sleeve baby sweaters for a couple friends who are expecting. The short sleeve sweater wasn’t anything new, however, the 3/4 length was.

While a part of me thinks 3/4 length sleeves on a baby may be silly, the other part of me thinks its genius. Hear me out, our kiddo still fits in her newborn sweater at a year. It does, however, look silly because the sweater now looks purposefully cropped and the sleeves look like they’re the wrong length. By making them 3/4 length from the beginning, they are now poised to grow purposefully cropped. AKA the newborn sweater how has the power to get more wear out of it because knit fabric stretches and the sleeves won’t look funny! I’ve asked my friends to report back, but I feel as though I’ve hacked the system!

A short sleeve dark and light green striped baby sweater laying on a blue rug. Numbered wooden shapes are laid around the sweater.

Staring at crochet projects

I’m convinced, that one of the reasons I haven’t taken to crochet in the same way that I’ve taken to knitting is that I’m unable to do it without looking. In fact, no matter how simple the project, I’m also convinced that I’ll never be able to. This isn’t to discount the hours I spent practicing knitting without looking at my stitches, it’s to point out that knit stitches live on a live needle. Whether or not you’re looking at them, feeling the stitch is part of the process as you move them around your needles. Since you don’t have live stitches in the same way while crocheting, it’s hard to imagine a time when I won’t need to look at my stitches in order to properly create the single, double, or triple crochet.

This is a critical thing to note because, as I, unfortunately, learned, looking at crochet while in the car is one of the fastest ways for me to get car sick. Second only to looking in the back seat. Crocheting is also a difficult activity to partake in while watching anything you need to pay attention to the visuals of. At the moment, crocheting is the equivalent of attempting to work colorwork or cables. You need to be aware of what you’re doing in order to do it, but you can also read your stitches enough to know what you’re supposed to be done.

This isn’t to say I don’t enjoy crocheting. Nor is it to say that I won’t continue to attempt to improve my crochet skills. It’s just to say that I don’t see myself retiring my knitting needles in the foreseeable future.

With this in mind, I wanted to share a few crochet patterns I’ve been thinking about this year.

  • Afternoon Tea Sweater by Emilia Johansson: I’m not sure why, but peplum sweaters are really speaking to me at the moment. I’ve spent a little too much time looking at patterns (knit, crochet, and sewing) featuring this design element and at some point, it has to happen.. right?
  • Waterlilies Bonnet by Nomad Stitches: Our kiddo is slowly outgrowing the bonnet phase (or is she?), but I still find myself with a lot of baby heads to cover. Barley by tincanknits is my current go-to pattern and it would be nice to try something new.
  • Cande Kids Pullover by Nomad Stitches: I’m actually in love with the adult version too, which begs the question.. who gets the pullover? Do I have the stamina to crochet two?
  • Prism Block Stitch Blanket by Jess Coppom: I love the subtle use of a gradient in this one and feel like it’d be a good crochet and chill projects.

I also have grand plans of crocheting toys (think kitchen items), but can’t bring myself to start collecting various colors so I can use a yard or two at a time.

No idea if or when I’ll give the above a try, just enjoying the inspiration of a different craft for a little while.

March 2023 Book Club: Cinder

Cover art for Cinder by Marissa Meyer

I fell down the rabbit hole a little bit reading this one and found myself doing something I don’t often do: read the following books in the series. Cinder ended and I immediately picked up Scarlet, then Cress, then Winter, which means that my mind has blended some of the storylines that took place across multiple books and will do my best to avoid any unnecessary spoilers.

For starters, I really appreciate that Cinder is considered “less than” because she is a cyborg because it makes one wonder what would have happened if she wasn’t. Would she have been accepted by Audrey? Would she have been able to go unnoticed by the Lunar Queen as long as she did? How would that have changed her willingness to be with the prince? Would the cyborg draft have ever been created?

Some of those questions seem easy to answer. No, there probably would not have been a cyborg draft if Cinder hadn’t been a cyborg. She probably still would have had the chip designed to suppress her lunar gift. Audrey would probably have found a different reason to have a problem with her. Those answers aside, it still feels like Cinder being a cyborg was an important component of the story because it was a (terrible) justification for her treatment in a futuristic world.

Not specifically related to Cinder, but I like that each book builds upon the last by adding a new character or two for us to follow. This allowed you to understand the general direction one story was going to go while also providing anticipation for where the story would lead when the retold fairytale ended.

These books were straightforward, there weren’t any twists and turns or hidden meanings. They were exactly what I needed at the time I picked them up and I’m glad I waited until now to read them.

Most of my reading so far this year has been the final books in the Wheel of Time series with a sprinkling of other books while I wait for a hold to come in. For April, let’s slow things down by visiting a small town by the sea in The Oysterville Sewing Circle. This one looks a bit like it’ll squeeze your heart.

Cover art for The Oysterville Sewing Circle by Susan Wiggs

At the break of dawn, Caroline Shelby rolls into Oysterville, Washington, a tiny hamlet at the edge of the raging Pacific.

She’s come home.

Home to a place she thought she’d left forever, home of her heart and memories, but not her future. Ten years ago, Caroline launched a career in the glamorous fashion world of Manhattan. But her success in New York imploded on a wave of scandal and tragedy, forcing her to flee to the only safe place she knows.

And in the backseat of Caroline’s car are two children who were orphaned in a single chilling moment—five-year-old Addie and six-year-old Flick. She’s now their legal guardian—a role she’s not sure she’s ready for.

But the Oysterville she left behind has changed. Her siblings have their own complicated lives and her aging parents are hoping to pass on their thriving seafood restaurant to the next generation. And there’s Will Jensen, a decorated Navy SEAL who’s also returned home after being wounded overseas. Will and Caroline were forever friends as children, with the promise of something more . . . until he fell in love with Sierra, Caroline’s best friend and the most beautiful girl in town. With her modeling jobs drying up, Sierra, too, is on the cusp of reinventing herself.

Caroline returns to her favorite place: the sewing shop owned by Mrs. Lindy Bloom, the woman who inspired her and taught her to sew. There she discovers that even in an idyllic beach town, there are women living with the deepest of secrets. Thus begins the Oysterville Sewing Circle—where women can join forces to support each other through the troubles they keep hidden.

Yet just as Caroline regains her creativity and fighting spirit, and the children begin to heal from their loss, an unexpected challenge tests her courage and her heart. This time, though, Caroline is not going to run away. She’s going to stand and fight for everything—and everyone—she loves.