Sweater Lesson: Part 2

Hi! I finished my sweater that I told you about in the Sweater Lesson a couple of weeks ago, and I couldn’t keep you hanging on the results. Well, I can …. but I won’t.

So I finished the sweater and it fits perfectly. The yarn definitely settled beautifully after wet blocking. I’m not sure about the neckline, I feel like it could be pulled in a bit, but a friend with a good eye says it’s perfect on me and my intuition tells me not to touch it, so it’s staying as it is. I made a compromise, I wove in the end in that area in a way that I can find it again, in case I want to take it back and re-knit it. The yarn is beautiful and comfortable, and I’ll definitely reorder it next year. Actually, as I was weaving in the ends I was thinking about making another in different colours, which is always the sign of a successful project. I was thinking of stripes in a combination of a dark red and a bright red.

With regards to the ‘lessons’, like my first blog post I still don’t know what I’m going to write about …. it seems you’ll be helping me again. I’ve been thinking about mistakes this week. People often tell me that they find it reassuring that I make mistakes too, which always strikes me as funny because: a. EVERYONE makes mistakes, and b. knitting is kind of about making mistakes, and then going back and fixing them (or alternately c. getting so fed up that you stick it in a corner and ignore that it exists).

Anyway, I was thinking about mistakes and why some people get caught up in them, and I think it’s shame. Not that I don’t wrestle with that particular demon on a regular basis, it just isn’t connected to knitting mistakes. Maybe I’ve just been doing this so long that I have a different perspective – I know with absolute certainty that there is no perfection, there’s only fixing mistakes and learning from the experience.

So I’m sitting on my hands, thinking “Huh, I don’t have this issue? Why am I different than all of these people?” and it smacks me in the face, I’m NOT different, I’m in the muck with everyone else.” My copious vulnerability issues just don’t manifest in the SAME way in my knitting.

The other day I was at the gym, working out and listening to the audiobook of Daring Greatly, (there’s so much shame and vulnerability swimming around a gym, I find it helps my workout to face it head on) and I finally get to the chapter about shame. The author is talking about stuff like the fear of disconnection, creativity, unlovability and connecting what you do (or what other people think) to your sense of self worth, and I think to myself: “Oh Crap …. ME,” …. and then; “Oh thank god, that’s IT!”

So how does the messy stuff in my head manifest? I subconsciously edit the things I make. I trim my creativity, I shave off the edges, water it down. Sometimes it manifests as a loss of interest in a project, or it comes out as a creative block and a project doesn’t make it off the ground. A bunch of the time I’ll get part of the way through and then the project will stall. I always thought that I have a short attention span, that other things are more important to work on right now, that I function on geological time (pre-industrial revolution), etc. Sometimes I’ll close off an idea before it’s even born: “Oh, I can’t do that,” or “That would never fly, nobody would ever go for that.” But nope, the truth is that I attach my self-worth to my product and at the first conceptualization of shame I shut down. Looking back, I think my earliest memory of this creative editing goes back to junior kindergarten … awww, I love me so much, I’m so consistent!

So there it is, I don’t really take issue with my mistakes because they aren’t the source of my self-judgement. But rest assured, by the time I get to the point where mistakes happen I’ve already painted myself into a safe little box. Of course, this stuff doesn’t just apply to my knitting & crochet projects, but that’s the awesome thing about crafts – there’s nothing on the line, they’re easy to talk about.

According to Lady Brene gratitude is the foundation of joy, and right now I’m feeling very grateful for the opportunity to make it to mid-life and to have a “second-half” of my life. One of the things I’ve learned is that when I open a new door I never know what’s going to proceed, but it’s ALWAYS interesting and always GOOD. I’m looking forward to seeing how I grow, I wonder what will happen with my projects?

SALE End of Winter & Long Weekend Hours

Finally, our End of Winter Sale has arrived! Take 25% Off select products from February 15th to March 7th!

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Closed Family Day February 17

We will be closed on Monday February 17 for Family Day (it’s an Ontario thing) but our online store never closes!

Long Weekend Store Hours:

Saturday Feb 15: 11 am to 6 pm

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PREORDER PomPom Quarterly 32 Spring 2020

PomPom Quarterly 31 Winter 2019

The new issue of PomPom is now available for preorder, it will be available in store and will ship on February 28, 2020.

You can see more details about the patterns here on Ravelry, or you can check out the Official Preview HERE.

PREORDER PomPom Quarterly

PREORDER 52 Weeks of Socks by Laine Magazine

52 Weeks of Socks is the first hardcover book of Laine Publishing. It contains 52 knitting patterns by 46 designers and is a true encyclopedia of socks. The patterns are beautifully photographed and laid out on 256 pages in the style Laine is known and loved for. This book will only be available in print, it will NOT be available as a digital download.

  • 256 uncoated, high-quality pages
  • Language: English
  • Woven book cover, banner, ribbon place marker
  • Weight: 1100 g / 2.5 lb
  • Dimensions: 27 cm X 21 cm thickness: 2.60 cm
  • Printed in Latvia
  • All pattern specs are available on the Ravelry pattern pages 
  • Official release date: February 14th

The book contains patterns from the following designers:

Heidi Alander // Fiona Alice // Gina Baglia // Ainur Berkimbayeva // Katrine Birkenwasser // Karen Borrel // Sachiko Burgin // Diana Clinch // Verena Cohrs // Valentina Consalvi // Rachel Coopey // Nele Druyts // Marion Em // Lindsey Fowler // Fabienne Gassmann // Lucinda Guy // Dawn Henderson // Anja Heumann // Tiina Huhtaniemi // Caitlin Hunter // Mieka John // Amanda Jones // Joséphine & the seeds // Pauliina Karru // Isabell Kraemer // Tatiana Kulikova // Joji Locatelli // Erika López // Andrea Mowry // Paula Pereira // Rosa Pomar // Elena Potemkina // Amelia Putri // Emily Joy // Rickard // Mona Schmidt // Nataliya Sinelshchikova // Marceline Smith // Minna Sorvala // Helen Stewart // Charlotte Stone // Becky Sørensen // Niina Tanskanen // Natalia Vasilieva // Kristine Vejar // Kajsa Vuorela // Mariya Zyaparova.

Sweater Lessons

Have you ever had a project that felt more like a life-lesson than knitwear? That’s THIS sweater. I cast it on in the fall and ever since it’s been going sideways over and over and over again … and then again once more for good measure. It isn’t particularly complicated, I did my due diligence from the start, my swatching and mathemagics, but it just kept going off the rails. Naturally, I put it down and picked it up frequently … there’s only so much a person can take.

It wasn’t until I picked it up again a week or so ago that I started to really think about it. When I was in school I did some archaeology, and in the field the veterans used to have a saying: “One rock is a rock, two are a feature, and three are a wall.” After reworking the body at least twice and the sleeve cap and arm at least three times I started to look at this project a little differently – sometimes rocks aren’t just rocks, and sometimes a sweater isn’t just a sweater. I’ve picked up a few new hacks along the way, but this sweater is a different kind of learning …. it’s a metaphor for larger learning. The problem is, I don’t know what the lesson is. My intuition hasn’t been forthcoming in this department, and it’s driving me CRAZY. I’ve wanted to blog about it, but I didn’t have any answers. So I’m shifting my thinking and hoping that the process of writing and sharing it with you might be the solution …

The Narrative

So here’s the story …. despite the fact that they are my forever favourites, I’ve been thinking I’m in a bit of a rut with my Haley Special sweaters. This fall I decided I was going to try new things, even if I wasn’t as happy with them, because by not trying new things I may be shutting myself off from other things I might like just as much, if not better. So, I got this great new yarn in the store, I wanted to make a sweater, I look bad in raglans, I look good in set-in sleeves, I look bad in crew necks, I look good in wider necks, and I wasn’t in the mood to knit a sweater flat and seam it (it’s more about the knitting than the seaming). Of course, I couldn’t find anything that was exactly what I was looking for … nor did I really expect to.

I settled on hacking a pattern that is constructed from the top-down with short-row set-in sleeves. The tension wasn’t exactly the same, but I did my math. The pattern has cables and I didn’t want them, but I worked my math. My math was good, it was happy math, stable math, the kind of math you marry and have a family with.

The first time things wen’t awry was in the decreases in the body … I stopped using my head and followed the pattern blindly, which proved to be bad, because their sweater was cropped, and I was not making a cropped sweater. My bad, I own it.

LESSON 1: Always check in with yourself, don’t rely blindly on externals.

So that got ripped back and in a fit of spiritual exploration, I decided to see if I could knit the body shaping based exclusively on my intuition. Turns out I could, but it wasn’t necessarily going to fit.

LESSON 2: You can’t go through life relying entirely on your intuition, you need the combination of your knowledge, wisdom, AND intuition to get things done.

LESSON 3: There’s nothing wrong with testing the boundaries of the universe, but if you are going to do it through your knitting do it with a small project and on bulky yarn … less ripping back.

Finally I made it through the body, I wen’t back to the math, and it fit, but it was tight. WHATEVER – at this point I couldn’t deal with ripping it again, I’d just have to live with it. I forged forward and moved on to the first sleeve … I made the sleeve cap and half the sleeve before trying it on …. to find it WAYYYY too tight. The cap was tight, and the sleeve was tight. I had tried out new needles and they were definitely altering the tension. More ripping ….

LESSON 4: SLOW DOWN. Before you blaze forward, take a look at the landscape to avoid tripping. One of the points of making a sweater from the top-down is that you can try it on as you go. At each step I need to remind myself of this benefit.

At this point I was starting to get a little frustrated. The entire arm region was tight, I was not happy. What happened to my beautiful math?! My intuition spoke up (finally), said to block the sweater, and that actually worked out nicely! The tension loosened and it fit nicely. HALELUJAH! Back to the sleeves …

On the second iteration of the sleeve I tried going up a size in the pattern for the armhole …. that was a big NOPE, didn’t work. On the third I went back to the original size, and went up a needle size … that was also full of nope. On the fourth I went back to the original size and a third type of needle, and that got me a good tension. I even smartened up and tried it on as I went! When I got to the lower part of the arm I tried changing needles but the yarn was having none of that, the tension shifted dramatically, so I went back to what I was using originally and hoped for the best.

In the last go on the arm I tried on the sweater periodically and wondered if the arm might be a smidge too tight, but my intuition kept telling me it was good, to keep it, and I knew the tension loosened in the body after blocking, so I left it. I feel like I maybe should have blocked it after finishing the arm, just for good measure, but when my intuition reaches out and tells me something I have learned to listen (this is a lesson you learn the hard way), so I threw my lot in with the universe and started the second sleeve. I’ve tried it on, it seems to fit, so I’m moving forward with fingers crossed.

LESSON 5.1: You just have to trust life, and that the universe has your best interest at heart. Things can, and will go sideways, but they also right themselves too. Listen to your intuition, let go and lean into the flow … you never know what you’ll get out of it.

LESSON 5.2: Control is an illusion, struggling to get and maintain it is just a huge energy drain, and you don’t actually need it anyway. In retrospect, I feel kind of silly … but that’s ok, silly is a level of vulnerability that I’m very comfortable with.

Mini Lessons & Hacks

Block it before Ripping it

Even after knitting the body twice, it was still fitting a bit tight in the waist. I didn’t know why, since the math should have been good and there wasn’t any physical expansion on my part. Rather than tearing it out, I wet blocked it, and low and behold the tension loosened and it fits perfectly now. YAY!

Two Swatches May be Better than One

After all the tension issues, I think it may have been beneficial to work two separate swatches on the same size needle, but only block one. I’ve never done this before, but it would have given me more information, especially since the tension changed after blocking. Just having the two pieces of fabric to compare visually might have been helpful. I think next time I have tension issues while making a sweater I might stop and make a second swatch.

Steamers = Good

I found a new use for the handy little garment steamer I bought on Amazon … they are great for reconditioning yarn! As you may or may not know, after you rip back yarn it is usually all crinkly, and if it is it has to be reconditioned before you knit with it again. In the past I have always skeined it up, washed it and hung it to dry. I was all set to give my skein a bath, when the “Hey! I have a steamer!” moment came. I steamed the crimps out of my yarn and was knitting with it twenty minutes later – sweet!

Locking Stitch Markers = Good

If you’re wondering about all the locking stitch markers in my sweater, I use them to mark my increases and decreases, and keep track of my rows. You can read more about this knit hack HERE.

Project Details

The pattern I hacked is Chuck, the yarn is Fibre Co Cumbria in Coniston. My project notes are still mostly scribbled all over the pattern but will go into Ravelry soon.

Conclusions

Well, it seems like the problem with pinning down the larger lesson was that there were at least half a dozen of them …. too much information for a succinct answer. Fair enough. Thank you so much for being my sounding board and helping me with this. sometimes you just need your people.

LESSON 6: When you find yourself stuck, reach out to your people.

I’ve had a consistent meditation practice for two and a half years, and since she made her debut on Netlfix I go back to my girl Brene Brown when I’m blocked (and more recently a new bestie Tara Brach) …. but in the vein of Lesson 2 (above), no man is an island.

LESSON 7: You need to connect with yourself AND with your people.

I’ll let you know how the sweater turns out, I’m in the home stretch and determined to finish it and over on to my next sweater (which I’m super psyched for and have already stashed the yarn away).

PROJECT Barbara Cowl

Barbara

Please forgive me for falling behind, I’m still catching up on my blogging (and knitting, and other things) … why does December have to consume such a large part of January? Anyway, I wanted to show you another success story, the Barbara cowl.

It’s a simple knit, and a free pattern, and makes for a nice splash of colour mid-way through winter. We used 2 skeins of Malabrigo Rios in colour 96 Sunset (I thought it would nice and sunny looking forward to spring, like Pantone colour Saffron), but any worsted weight yarn will do.

Mods

Barbara is knit lengthwise like a scarf and then seamed, so it isn’t particularly technically advanced. You can seam it into a regular loop or a mobius loop, whatever tickles your fancy. If you wanted to turn it into a scarf I’d work about 1.5″ in K1P1 rib at each end to give it a nice finish.

Materials

Other Yarns

Barbara would of course look great in other yarns … I can see a nice fluffy version made with Drops Air (3 skeins). Something classic in a heathered colour would be great made with Cascade 220 Superwash (2 skeins/5mm-US8 needles) – a great knit for anyone who likes things simple. Personally, I’m really into Fibre Co. Road to China Light right now, I can see it making a super sexy accessory I’d never want to take off (3 skeins/4mm-US6 needles) … oh god, please help me, I think I just fell down a rabbit hole …. I’ll tell you about my progress with Road to China Light in my next post!

15% OFF ALL FEBRUARY CLASSES!

Take 15% Off all of our classes all February! Your discount will be applied in the cart when you check-out.

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Happy Endings: Finishing

A KnitHow Class with Lynne Sosnowski

The Are you one of those knitters who has a basket full of knit pieces just waiting to be
seamed together or finished in some way? Come to this class where we’ll cover the things you need to know to put your project together and end up with a smile on your face.

This KnitHow class starts with seaming – including shoulder seams, side seams, all the
parts of sleeve seams, and working two kinds of fabric texture together. We’ll also work
on picking up stitches to make your edge treatments, sewing in ends securely, and
washing & blocking.

We’ll talk about how different cast-ons and bind-offs can affect your finished project, and we’ll take up a list of questions from students in the class about finishing and point you to answers. Students are welcome to bring projects in progress as samples or to ask specific questions.

Prerequisites: Students must be able to knit and purl confidently and without assistance, and should have some familiarity with basic increases and decreases.

Skill Level: Intermediate-Beginner to Intermediate

Homework: Two swatches, see website for details

Scheduling: One session of two hours: Saturday February 8, 1-3pm OR March 14, 1-3pm

Materials: see website for details

Fixing Your Mistakes

A KnitHow Class with Lynne Sosnowski 

There’s nothing under earth and sky that will keep us from making mistakes, it’s just
part of human nature. But when it comes to knitting, there are lots of things we can do to prevent mistakes in the first place and then other tricks we can use to keep small mistakes from becoming big disasters.

This KnitHow class starts with learning how to read your knit fabric – we first brush up on how stitches should look and line up so we can prevent a mistake as we’re knitting. We then look at pattern reading and understanding, so we can know what we’re meant to do before we do it. We have lots of strategies to explore to help us stay on pattern. We will practice counting stitches and rows, and get a working understanding of gauge. Once we’ve done some actual knitting (small homework requirement), we will look at diagnosing our mistake, and we will talk about cosmetic versus structural remedies. Then we will work our way through fixes for the most common mistakes including: dropped stitch, slipped stitch, twisted stitch, accidental hole, split yarn, purl instead of knit and vice-versa. We will continue with “disaster management”, including learning how to unknit small amounts as well as when and how to rip out sections of a piece.

Skill Level: Any

Prerequisites: Students must be able to knit and purl confidently and without assistance, and should have some familiarity with basic increases and decreases.

Homework: One swatch, see website for details

Scheduling: One session of three hours: Saturday February 1, 1-4 pm OR March 7, 1-4 pm

Materials: see website for details

Toe-Up Socks on Two Circulars

A KnitHow Class with Lynne Sosnowski

Lynne specializes in helping students grow their “sock literacy” while making adult-sized socks in fingering weight yarn. This class is of interest to brand new sock makers, those who have only knit top-down socks, and those who wish to learn the Two Circulars method.

In the first session, students jump right into learning a bi-directional cast-on (Turkish/Middle Eastern), several options for increases, and how to create sock toes and feet. Throughout students are taught not just the “how” of executing their instructions but the “knithow” – the effect those instructions have on the fabric and how to read their stitches to find their way. Along the way, we cover how to custom-fit socks to any feet. Students are expected to work their sock to a specific point prior to the second session.

In the second session, students work through a short-row heel and how to create sock legs and cuffs. Throughout students are guided with diagrams, waypoints, and even sing-song to find their way by reading their own fabric. Instructions on custom-fitting and altering socks are discussed. Students complete the sock cuff on their own time. Learn how to make the most of your sock yarn by starting your socks at the toes, and knitting up until you run out of yarn!

Prerequisites: Students must be able to knit and purl confidently and without assistance, and should have some familiarity with basic increases and decreases.

Skill Level: Advanced-Beginner/Intermediate. 

Homework: There is no homework prior to the first class. There will be some knitting expectations to meet to be best able to participate in the second class. 

Scheduling: Two session of two hours each (a total of 4 hours). Saturday February 1 and 8: 10am to 12pm.

Materials: see website for details

See All Our Classes HERE