It’s Hip to Be Square – Sticking With Classic Designs

Some things are “classic” like Bach concertos and other things are likely to go the way of the song that inspired the title of this blog, Huey Lewis and the News and their song, Hip to be Square. I suspect that Bach will be heard more often and long after I’m around, given how long it has been since he was around (he died in 1750).

The upshot? Trends die and classics last. So why not knit things that never go out of style?

Last week I mentioned my grandmother used to, out of boredom, knit the frilliest, most intricate couch throws. And though I know she knit my family dozens of these beautiful showpieces; I cannot tell you where any of these are today–probably hiding out in closets. You don’t see them because they were showpieces and not particularly useful.

I’m lazy, so if I’m going to take the time to knit an afghan, rather than creating a visual piece, I’d rather see it wear out from use. And even better if it looks good too.

My first afghan, knit from yarn in my grandmother’s stash, was a series of stockinette and reverse stockinette squares with a seed stitch border. Since then, I’ve stuck with this very classic “squares” design, varying only the size of the squares, the weight of the yarn and the border. And though the first one is from many years ago, it is warm, washable, reversable and comfortable. And being a basic ivory color, it should also match any possible décor.

Simple Squares Throw in Ivory Acrylic

I’m on the last block of squares of my latest afghan in this series. After which I’m going to try a Purl Soho pattern to do something just a bit different, but not so different it won’t get used.

Shadow Squares Pattern from Purl Soho

I’m definitely happy to be a square when it comes to creating classic, useful household items. What I tend to splurge on is the fiber itself. These two afghans are a wool-silk blend and they are warm, warm, warm. Perfect for these chilly winter months.

These simple contemporary designs which are both easy to make and great for every day use.

This coming weekend I’m heading to the Red Alder Fiber Art Retreat in Tacoma. I’ve missed it every year–until this year–because of work and travel. I’m super excited to hone my double-knitting skills so I can do more reversible items. Hope to see you there!

Stash Mash – Decisions! Decisions!

The minute one project ends, I’m on the hunt for the next. And many times, I don’t even look at my queue (40+ items) or library of patterns (more than 6000).

I have projects on the needles, but I’m anxious to grind down my stash with a new project. And with so many free patterns—some with timeless good looks to them, it feels like the time to do a stash reduction is now. Especially if I’m going to make my goal of 20 projects completed this year.

One resolution (again) is to shop from my stash. Of course, this doesn’t take into consideration I cannot seem to leave a wool shop or event without coming home with truckloads… And did I mention I bought loads on December 31st? 🙂

Rounding out the top of the free patterns on Ravelry I’m considering, given my stash, these are the top candidates:

  • A sweater called Sloper, by Karen Templer. Instead of three strands of worsted wool, I’d use two strands of Aran weight Rowan Bamboo Tape in Honey from my stash. Not only will it breathe better than wool, it won’t be scratchy on the soft skin of the neck.
  • A hat called Twist and Slouch, from local (Anacortes, WA) knit designer Kali Berg. It looks easy and I love the big brim, which for my small head is a necessity. I think Knit Picks Galerie  in Renaissance (jewel tones) would make a fine, colorful hat. I bought it for socks, but it’s must too thick for that.
  • A simple throw, Garter Squish, by Stephen West to chew through my copious stash of worsted weight yarns. I could make one in synthetic and one in wool and still have dozens of yarn left over.
  • An extra wide version of this Bias Scarf, by Shelby Dyas to replace a rectangle wrap I wore ceaselessly until I lost it in Copenhagen on a business trip.
  • Sediment Scraps blanket, by the knitty professors, is another possible candidate.

Where to start?

So what is tickling your destash fancy?

Shades of Gray

It’s always a bit gray in the Puget Sound in the winter. Oddly this weekend and past it has been sunny, but my knitting starts haven’t. They’ve been gray, gray, gray.

I’ve been slow to post because I’m traveling a lot. And because I’ve returned to the road, I need small projects to take on my trips. My last pair of socks, two-at-a-time, toe-ups, were a perfect airplane project for two consecutive trips to DC and India.

This week I cast on the yarn Felici Stormy Sky from Knit Picks that I recently purchased at Vogue Knitting Live in San Francisco. Right now they are barely more than the Turkish cast on I learned at the event. But with all my international trips on the horizon, they will be socks soon enough!

I also cast on a hat for myself I call Greywurm. I’m using the Wurm pattern and two Sublime Yarn baby cashmere and silk grays—Skipper and Tittlemouse. Since it is a quick knit, it’s not a great travel project. But I’m dying to use these beautiful yarns I won in a Woolful drawing also want a “get ‘er done” project I can feel good about in the way I never do with socks or larger projects like the next one I started just last night.

The last project is another Squares Throw in Cascade’s Tivoli; color: Fog. My mother has been trying to get me to knit her an afghan in bright aqua, but I was drawn to this project because of how beautiful the brown one that sits at the end of my bed looks—and that this one was already in the queue (not that I stick to the queue order—ever).

This said, it will go great in the spare bedroom and it will make an excellent “lap” project for the car and ferry commutes to and from Orcas Island.

Though I always think I should knit summer things in winter, it just never turns out that way. All I can think about is getting and staying warm.

How about you? What’s your go-to winter project?