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.

Combo #12 Harlow Hat

A hat knit in brioche stitch with black stitches set against a rainbow striped background

Brioche is one of those stitches in knitting that you either love or hate, there doesn’t seem to be much of an in-between. It’s squishy and one of the few ways to add vertical stripes, but also takes you double the amount of time to knit one row (because for every one row of normal knitting you need two rows of brioche). There’s also more loops to keep track of and a high level of patience required if you drop a stitch. Still, I find myself reaching for brioche projects when I want a project where I need to pay attention, but not too much attention. Where I want the wearer to be able to reverse the garment depending on their mood and when I want to provide the wearer a little bit of extra warmth.

Direct contrast of the extra warmth tends to be the woven scarves that I make. They breathe more against the skin due to my habit of creating airier fabric in favor of less bulk. So while this Harlow Hat by Andrea Mowry is meant to keep the wearer’s ears a little warmer, the matching scarf is meant to be more of an accent piece.

A hat knit in brioche stitch with rainbow stripes against a black background

I liked knitting Harlow, the hat knit up relatively fast for brioche being knit on a size US 3 and it was the first time in a long time I’ve done brioche decreases. The only modification made while knitting (besides using only one needle size) was skipping the tubular cast on in favor of the long tail cast on. This doesn’t make a huge difference beyond being a little less stretchy and only incorporating the black color.

Curious about what it’s like to knit brioche? I highly recommend giving the Harlow Hat a try! Really, while the final hat is gorgeous, it was so much fun to make that I was a little bummed when it came to bind off. Andrea Mowry added details to the pattern that outline what to do and she’s created video tutorials to help get you started.

A hat scarf set from one package of Wonderland Yarn’s Combo kits? With a plethora of colors to choose from? I probably do need to decide if everyone is getting a set for the holidays this year, or at least start planning my holiday crafting. Does December sneak up on anyone else?

Baby Patterns I’m Enjoying Right Now

I suppose I’ve hit the time in my life where all my friends (and a good chunk of my family) are having children. While I am not quite ready to have children of my own, it’s very exciting to see pregnancy and birth announcements pop up in my Instagram feed for two reasons: 1) I’m happy for them! 2) I get to knit for them.

Is it fair to say that I’m happy I get to knit for them? Baby items, as it unfortunately took me way to many years of knitting to learn, make for amazing projects. For starters, they don’t require a ton of yardage. This means that I can use up a special skein of fingering weight that I’ve been saving or purchase new yarn without the price tag that comes with making an adult sweater. While I would recommend a washable fiber, what this really means is that baby items are the most economical things to knit — other than socks of course.

Next, they provide an avenue to work complicated stitches, simple stitches, and everything in between. Want to knit cables? There’s a pattern for that. Want to knit colorwork? Pattern for that. Lace? Pattern for that. Plain garter or stockinette? There’s a pattern for that too. Actually there are thousands of options for each one of those.

Both of the above reasons point directly to my third reason for enjoying to knit for babies: the time that it takes to knit a baby item is short. Want to try a new yarn or technique? You’re not committing to a giant project!

Pattern’s I’ve knit and enjoyed:

  • French Macaroon by The Noble Thread — I’m currently halfway through this one and “patiently waiting” for the yarn I’m using to come back in stalk. More on that in a future post…
  • Flax Light by tincanknits — I can’t even begin to discuss how much I love this “basic” sweater pattern. I’ve knit it a total of 7 times, twice of those were adult sizes
  • Flax by tincanknits — Literally the same pattern as above but written for worsted weight! I love this one for when I knit for bigger kids, but it create a snuggly fabric for younger ones as well
  • Gingersnap for Bigger Kids by Kristen Rettig — Rettig also has a free version of this pattern, but the paid version comes with so many size options I couldn’t resist.
  • Barley by tincanknits — Yes to quick baby hats, they’re such a great use of leftovers!
  • Rye Light by tincanknits — You know what else is great for leftovers? Baby socks. I think these were done in a matter of hours and I used leftovers from my Lava Lake Shawl.
  • Bearly Bonnet by Pure Stitches — Trust me things that have ears make little ones look 10x cuter, plus they add a little bit of something you don’t knit everyday.
  • Harvest by tincanknits — Actually now that I think about it, I’m not sure I ever got a picture of my niece in this one. Still, it knit up fast!
  • Knit Four Points Baby Blanket by Purl Soho — My only complaint is that you need to either pick up stitches or seam. I went with seaming because I’m apparently anti-picking-up-stitches.
  • Simplest Baby Blanket by Paige Scudder — Shameless plug for my own design, sorry not sorry.
  • Crochet Beginner Blanket by Heidi Wells — I adjusted the stitch count on this to 101 and ended up with a stroller blanket.
  • Marley by tincanknits — Yes, I love tincanknits for baby patterns… but I’ve made this one in larger sizes too and always enjoy casting it on again. Unlike the blanket I designed, it’s a rectangle shape.

Patterns that are on my “to-knit-eventually” list:

  • Garden Gnome Hoodie by Knitting Expat Designs — For starters, it’s a Gnome inspired hood. But also, I love the optional textured stitches and would love to see a little one wearing this in the fall.
  • Fox mittens by Eva Norum Olsen — I love these and have had them as a favorite for a while now. Plus, you have so many baby-child sizes to choose from.
  • Octave or Octavie by imawale imawale — This will be the project that I learn how to double knit on. I already know.
  • Dancing T-Rex sweater by Natalie V — Do I really need to say more than “Dancing T-Rex”?
  • Veggie Patch Cardigan by Lisa Chemery — Not sure if it’s the name or the texture stitches that speak to me on this one. Usually anything with buttons is too much pressure for me to take on. After all, it’s hard enough to select the perfect yarn, now I have to pick buttons too?
  • Easy Puzzle Blanket by Purl Soho — So many colors! Although, somehow I imagine that I would have the same problem that I had with their four point blanket…
  • Hosenmatz by Mayumi Kaliciak und Antje Litzmann — Why haven’t I ever knit baby pants before? Honestly, I think I’m holding out for my future children with this one.
  • Pepita by Martina Behm — I think this one focuses on a very specific age bracket and season, but I love it just the same.
  • Daphne and Delilah the Momma and Baby Monster by Rebecca Danger — I’ve saved so many knit toy patterns and have yet to make any. Perhaps these will come into play more as all of the babies that I’m knitting for get older?
  • Shark Attack Lap Blanket by Angie Hartley — Honestly, I want one of these for myself…

In the interest of not making this post much longer and acknowledging that you might like to see the projects that I’ve been working on, I used a tag to make my baby/kid knits have their own bucket. You can view that search at this link if you are signed into ravelry: https://ravel.me/8odg0l

on Ponchos

I knew that I got to a point of not caring what other people thought about what I was wearing when I attended a post wedding (as in the next day) BBQ in jeans and a flannel and didn’t feel under dressed. In hindsight, I probably should have dressed up a bit more, but maybe they shouldn’t have called the function a BBQ (that is, after all the event I dressed for). It was confirmed again when I opted to wear flats to my sisters wedding and again when I grabbed a random dress out of a box in order to attend a recent function.

I’m also not a fan of wearing makeup, it feels funny on my skin and hides my freckles. Every so often I whip out mascara for fun, but I don’t have a strong drive to wear it ever day.

This is a round about way of me saying that I wear what makes me comfortable and most of the time dress to the right fancy level. I love acquiring clothing second hand and stopped caring about having the “in style” outfit when I was 12.

So why can’t I bring myself to knit and wear ponchos? A poncho is basically a classy blanket that you can wear all day, a concept that I’m super into. So why do I put them on and immediately say “wow that looks silly” while staring enviously at others who are “able to pull it off”?

In the interest of reminding myself that this mentality goes against all of my other clothing thoughts, I’ve put together a list of ponchos that I should really consider knitting. Note: Order means nothing.

The Comfort Zone
  1. The Comfort Zone. The simplicity of this poncho speaks to me, someone essentially decided that they wanted a poncho in the middle of knitting a sweater. I love it. Plus it’s knit in Aran weight yarn, so you know it would be warm and cozy.
Indigo Frost

2. Indigo Frost. Another gorgeous poncho that mixes yarn overs with a little bit of colorwork. A few people even made this one with pompoms…

Stone Point

3. Stone Point. I believe this one was on the cover of a catalog a few years back. My aunt made one and it looks amazing on her. Surely if she can pull it off so can I?

Oakwood Poncho

4. Oakwood Poncho. Tell me this one isn’t a blanket that’s been made to stay around your shoulders. Knitpicks even had kits when they first released it.

Wanda Estelle

5. Last but not least: Wanda Estelle. When I worked for Web’s Yarn Store, this one was constantly passed around because it looked good on everyone. I used to stare jealously at the different staff who could pull if off better than me in my mind.

We’re in the process of fixing up a 1910 house that is on the drafter side. Between that and working from home for the foreseeable future, I might end up with a poncho on my needles and the motivation to convince myself that it doesn’t matter if it looks good on me.