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.

Quick knit hat pattern suggestions

A speckled turquoise knit hat with a pompom and three rows of eyelets evenly spaced between the brim and the top.

As the weather jumps between cold and warm temperatures, I’ve been on a bit of a hat mission. Inkwell and Banded Hat are my most recent creations. Each took a handful of hours to complete due to calling for worsted weight, I was able to knit the bulk of both hats during afternoon naptime. Of the two, I probably prefer the Banded Hat pattern as it provides a bit of spice to a more classic hat design. That being said, Inkwell provides more opportunities to play with striping. Sometimes fast with lots of design possibilities is the best recipe for creativity.

Being a knitter, I get to work with and enjoy all kinds of fabrics worked into all kinds of shapes and textures. I’ve knit bulky sweaters and enjoyed how they make me sweat and fingering weight sweaters that seem to take forever. I love wearing them all and have even learned to branch out from my original favorite colors. To be blunt, I want all the knit things and am really only hindered by my knitting speed and budget.

This wasn’t always the case. When I was in high school, I hated anything that added bulk to my body. Perhaps it was body dysmorphia or a symptom of being a teenager, but I truly hated anything that had poof. Even my favorite t-shirts, ones I wore all the time, needed to hang a specific way on my body. I didn’t mind a straight look, but too loose and I immediately became self-conscious. This problem, if you will, was extended to my winter clothing. I didn’t feel comfortable wearing bulky hats or mittens. Thick socks were tolerable. It took me years to get over this and to this day I don’t have a good answer as to what caused the feelings in the first place.

A knit hat with a stripped lime green brim and a speckled top.

It sounds really silly, but when I say things like “I want to wear that worsted/bulky weight hat all the time!”, it’s a mark of how far I’ve come. It’s exciting to be excited to wear things that my 16-year-old self would have been horrified to be caught dead in. Whether that be fun thick fabric or clothing that isn’t “on trend” (this is also funny because I NEVER had clothing that was on trend).

There is still a long way for me to go to get to a place where I can call myself body positive, but I hope that the work I continue to do will teach our daughter to love her own body and feel empowered to wear what she likes rather than what she thinks make her look good to others.

As always, use the discount YARNVIP for 15% off your total purchase from Wonderland Yarns (discount not eligible on sale items, with other discounts, or on yarn clubs) :]

Dash-it All! Cowl

A white knit cowl with bursts of rainbow. The stitch pattern creates lines of dashes every couple of rows.

This one is going to be a little shorter than the last few because it’s being snuck in during a nap. Definitely feel a little bit like we spend a lot of money on daycare just to introduce our daughter to all the germs, poor thing has been sick on and off since early November. My husband and I seem to be on a rotating schedule of who gets which bug worse. Sometimes I have to remind myself that we’re building strong immune systems. Rome, after all, wasn’t built in a day. Also, it’s hard to see your kiddo sick! It’s a humbling reminder that you can’t fix everything.

I bring this up because even though the Dash-it All! Cowl was completed before this string of bugs, I think it would have been a good project to have on my needles at any point during the last few months. The pattern is easy enough to memorize while being simple enough to be able to work on for 5 minutes at a wack without getting lost. My last few projects have been of the squishy variety (think lots of garter stitch), but I can’t help but think back to this one and wonder what it would look like in different colors.

The tricky thing about beautifully dyed yarn is that you need a project that allows the yarn to do the talking. Sometimes this means working simple patterns with lots of garter or stockinette stitch, sometimes it means adding texture that gives the colors more depth. This can be made tricker by the placement of the colors themselves. For my Dash-it All! I used one of Wonderland Yarn’s color burst yarns thinking the color would be slashed about the cowl a bit more, I think for my next one I’ll opt for something more speckled or variegated.

Hope everyone is feeling mostly healthy this winter season! I think it’s safe to say we’re all looking forward to being able to open the windows in a few months.

Want to make one of your own? Use the discount YARNVIP for 15% off your total purchase from Wonderland Yarns (discount not eligible on sale items, with other discounts, or on yarn clubs). No kickbacks for me, just discounts for you :]

Petit Four Puntilla

A young woman standing in front of a floor mirror wearing a hand knit pink drop shoulder sweater with flecks of purple and red.

There are a number of sweater patterns by Joji Locatelli that have been designed to be wardrobe staples. You know, the ones that you reach for again and again because they’re a classic design/fit. Each one thoughtfully envisioned and written up so that the pattern is accessible no matter what the skill level of the knitter. Joji is one of my favorite designers for this reason, she has the perfect mix of fun wardrobe peices and practical ones. She’s also amazing at taking the practice pieces and making them fun (while leaving room for you to remove the design elements without compromising the overall garment). I have been sitting on the yarn to make a Puntilla for almost a year and the pattern has been sitting in my favorites since it came out in 2015. Way too long when you consider it’s my ideal sweater shape and has MILES of stockinette stitching in the round, perfect for meditative knitting.

This sweater flew off my needles, slowed down only by the fact that I was taking a crochet class and making objects for it. When I look at it, I can see the hours spent in the car to look at houses and to visit friends. I see time spent curled up during nap time chatting away while a movie plays in the background. That’s the thing about knitting, in addition to making a garment, you’re also freezing moments and feelings in time. While I don’t remember where I knit every object or what I was feeling at the time, there are finished objects I can look at and think “Yep, I was stress knitting through x class” or “Yep, I was going through a break up and needed something else to focus on”. It’s just a lot of time to sit and think, to sit and enjoy company or to sit and avoid thinking if the project is complicated enough.

Though I skipped the lace accent, Puntilla is a sweater pattern that will be reached for again. This was a sweater I couldn’t wait to get off my needles and on my body. It’s been so long since I’ve been really excited about a finished knit, like little kid for candy excited. I love the fit and the simplicity of the knit (once you get past the short rows). It also makes me think about knitting up a version of the Weekender, although I think I’m a little late to that party (it was so popular a few years ago!).

Use the discount YARNVIP for 15% off your total purchase from Wonderland Yarns (discount not eligible on sale items, with other discounts, or on yarn clubs) :]