Thank you to everyone who downloaded the Tic Tac Toe sweater this past month! I’m so excited by the number of pattern downloads and can’t wait to see how different people continue to have different takes on working it up. If you haven’t grabbed the sweater for free yet, you have until this Friday with code three in a row, after that the pattern will be full price.
While I spend more of my time knitting than sewing, it’s safe to say that I tend to reach for both with a mentality of either “this will be fun” or “I could make that”. While perusing baby patterns last fall, I stumbled across Simplity 9215 which offers the sewist the ability to transform fleece fabric into a jacket, pair of pants or baby bunting. Combine that with Joann Fabrics having a sale on fleece during the upcoming weekend and it felt meant to be.
Now, the pattern envelope claims that this is an easy project. Having just curned out a wonky looking baby bunting I think it’s safe to say that the pattern pieces were finicky and the instructions left a lot to be wanting. Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by the indie patterns I’ve been working with or perhaps I’m simply not in a place where I can picture how what I’m about to do will translate into the finished garment. Either way, I will aknowledge that my beginner sewing status played a role in the wonkiness of the finished garment as well.
For starters, the zipper is one of the first items that you sew on rather than the middle or last steps as I’ve previously worked. This is tricky because the instructions have you working with the front and back piece without the extentions in one step and then add in the extension in the following step. Honestly, it would have been easier to either attach everything together and to attach the zipper after sewing the shoulder seams and inserting the sleeves. In the end, I skipped the extensions (I’m still unsure how they fit together with the final grament, which is ok because I opted for a contrasting zipper on purpose) and was able to manuver my sewing machine around the extra bulk caused by installing the zipper so early. Also, my 14 inches zipper was a little smaller than the length of the body, I should have opted for 17-20 inches.
Another modification to the instructions I would have made (and highly recommend) is sewing the toe piece to the front before attaching the front pieces to anything. The area you’re manipulating is so tiny that any reduction in bulk is going to make it easier. Then, while I would like to think I could try pinning the bottom of the foot in such a way that I could sew around the foot and then up the side seam, the reality is that the bottom of the foot really can’t be attached until both leg seams are completed. So this step would indeed need to wait until closer to the end.
Finally, I couldn’t wrap my head around how to attach the mittens to the sleeves in a way that would make them usable. Now that the project is over, I think I would be able to if I were to rework the pattern? The directions here left a lot to be desired, but I’ll chalk this one up to being a newbie.
Would I make S9215 again? Perhaps in a larger size than 0-3 so that the manuvers are easier to make, but I also don’t see myself making this as a gift for anyone until I’m a little better at sewing. Luckily our little one will be small enough that the sizing won’t really matter (the feet in particular didn’t work out quite right). All in all, happy that I worked through the pattern (I learned a lot!), but a little bummed that one foot is smaller than the other and the larger foot is a weird shape.
Confession time: While I understand that creating a project holding yarn double, triple or quadruple is not economical, I can’t help but love the squishiness of the fabric that is created using the technique. So as I opened my stash hatbox and saw 7 skeins of Knit Picks Stroll, yarn that was originally intended to make myself a sweater, I couldn’t help but wonder at how soft the dense fabric would be if I held enough strands to work the yarn at an Aran weight.
One of the major downsides of holding yarn multiple is that you’re dividing the amount of yardage you have to work with. For example, if I have a skein of yarn with 420 yards and I opt to use it double-stranded in a project, I really only have 210 yards of that yarn to work with. This means that instead of having 1617 yards of Stroll to work with, I would only have about 400 if I were to hold enough ends (4 total) to bump the weight up to Aran. Not a huge problem when you factor in all the little people in my life that I’ve been knitting for lately (although I’ll be honest and say there was a moment where my husband was hoping to get a shawl). After swatching, I decided to make a Mini Gale and got ready to cast on.
Though I admit that many of my projects lately have been larger ones, Mini Gale few off my needles in a matter of days. The pattern was the perfect combination of interestingly mindless and fast, it felt really good to finish it. Other than holding the yarn quadruple, no modifications were made to the pattern (unusual for me I know!).
As I mentioned, holding multiple strands of yarn together is not the most economical way to produce a knit fabric. That being said, it’s a really fun way to use up yarn in your stash because you’re no longer limited to the original weight of the yarn. Holding yarn multiple is also a fun way to create a marled look! If you’ve never held yarn multiple before, I’ve put together a cheat sheet to help you get started (below). Otherwise, hold the yarn together as if it were a single strand and knit as usual.
|Starting strand||Fingering||DK/Sport||Worsted||Bulky||Super Bulky|
|Lace||2 strands||4 strands||8 strands||16 strands||32 strands|
|Fingering||x||2 strands||4 strands||8 strands||16 strands|
|DK/Sport||x||x||2 strands||4 strands||8 strands|
|Worsted||x||x||x||2 strands||4 strands|
You can also combine different weights to achieve a thicker gauge. For example, you may opt to hold 2 strands of fingering weight with 1 strand of DK/Sport in order to achieve a Worsted weight yarn.
Despite having my eye set on specific projects for the skeins in my stash, my eyes are often looking at single skeins and wondering what other color combinations I could create by holding multiple strands together. Some designers even write patterns that encourage you to do this on purpose (ie: Marley, Simplest Baby Blanket)!
Every season has elements about them that are beautiful and worth looking forward to, as well as elements that challenge you. Personally, I don’t have a strong preference for summer over winter or fall over spring. In fact, I have specific activities that I look forward to enjoying each season that help me combat the elements that challenge me.
That being said, instead of seasons giving me a harder time I find that there are specific months that I look forward to a lot less than others. For example, where we live, April is an ugly month. The snow is more or less melted (but you can’t rule out a random storm) and everything looks (and is) dirty. Trash and dog poop that was neglected during the winter months suddenly makes an appearance. Hiking trails are half mud half ice, meaning that you spend most of your time hiking trying to negotiate how many times you need to take your microspikes on and off. Usually, if I can get through April I can coast through the remainder of mud season (yes it’s a season all its own here) and on to enjoying summer.
November, despite Thanksgiving and the break that tends to come with it, is my other pain month. Similar to April, it’s a dreary month often marked by freezing rain and naked trees. Getting outside becomes a game of “do I have enough waterproof layers to stay warm” and the world around you turns grey while it waits to be blanketed in the first snow of the year.
To combat the gray weather, I found myself knitting a wide version of the Ridged and Wrapped Shawl by Stephanie Shiman out of a 13 mini-skein pack of Mary Ann by Wonderland Yarns. Though the stitch pattern is simple, transitioning from red to greens to blues to purples kept the project interesting. This project saw me through this year’s Great British Bake-off competition, some light reading, and the first couple of episodes of the Wheel of Time (which we’re enjoying, even though it differs from the books).
Though I’ve worked with wonderland yarns before, I always find myself drawn to the vibrancy of their colors. True, the Mystery & Danger pack boasts loud and bright colors, but even their pastel collections are rich and beautiful.
The hardest thing about this project, for me, was deciding where to “randomly” place ridges. How far apart was too far and am I accidentally creating too much of a repeating pattern were the two most common questions going through my head throughout the entire process. Also, it took me a long time to work through this shawl because, though worth it, it’s a bit of a marathon. I highly recommend setting goals (I’m going to knit this many skeins this week), and/or having other projects (in my case sewing) to pick up when you need a break.
As with any long project, I tend to develop a wandering eye, which means that the start-itis now that it’s complete is real! I have so many knitting (Spice, Mini Gale, Sorrel Mini, Peperomia Mini, Birds of a Feather, and Camera Mits to name a few) and sewing (at least two pairs of PJ pants!, Josephine Sweatshirt, a button-down…) projects lined up that I haven’t decided where to start.
As I write this post, I have to own up to still basking in the glory of finishing my second pi shawl. For starters, the stitch detail in this pattern is incredible, which means the project required a lot of focus to complete. AKA it required lots of counting, chart checking and zero distractions (not a project to work on while watching TV or participating in zoom calls). Next, it’s a deceptively large shawl where moving onto the next chart also means at least doubling your stitch count. This means that the further along in the project you get the longer it takes to complete a row, something that should have been obvious before I got started. Finally, this was a project with a deadline which means that the break I took from the project lead to a period of “you can’t knit anything else”.
Leaves of Grass has been on my radar more or less since I originally joined Ravelry. It’s a gorgeous pattern that’s influences speak to my inner wood elf, and a pattern that I’ve owned for years before finally sitting down to knit it. If I’m being honest, this was not my original choice of project when I learned that I would have the privilege of working with Woolstok Light to help promote it as a Blue Sky Maker. Having worked a lot with Woolstok over the years, I actually planned on knitting a light weight colorwork sweater with the new yarn. As my sample skein sat on my craft table and I waited for the colors I picked out to come in, I found myself coming back to Leaves of Grass. Unlike Woolstok, Woolstok Light is a single ply yarn. This doesn’t mean it’s not usable for colorwork projects (check out the Bainbridge Tam and Cowl!), but it does mean that it had the potential to be beautiful for lace projects.
Minus using a needle that had me slightly off gauge, I’m very happy with the way this shawl turned out! Woolstok Light is spun with multiple colors of yarn that combine to create the color that you see. This technique provides a level of depth that you can’t get with yarns that have been dyed using a tonal technique or with single colored skeins. In addition to the stitch definition provided by the single ply, the shawl also has a light halo (which I love!).
My only word of caution, which is really a “here’s another use of this yarn”, is that I think it will felt very easily. I worked the final two chart repeats with (incredibly) hot hands and my final stitches along the edge did join together a little bit. Also, split splicing to join a new skein of yarn takes like three seconds.
I don’t see myself reaching for the Leaves of Grass pattern again any time soon (although I did seriously consider knitting on in a worsted weight yarn during chart C), but never is a long time and you never know!