Longing for Something Simple

I’ve been on a brioche kick. Thanks to PDXknitterati, I have mastered much of the new nomenclature of brioche, I’ve been on a kick to do a lot of it to cement it into my brain. Keep in mind, I’ve been knitting brioche since I discovered the “Built for Comfort Hoodie” it in Vogue Knitting’s Winter ‘98/‘99 issue (Vol. 16, No. 3).

I’m currently knitting another sweater from the same Vogue Magazine issue: an Adrienne Vittidini Turtleneck Pullover. I’ve knit it once before (my sweater is the example in Ravelry). This time I’m dressing it up a bit with some furry yarn: Bernat Marmot and some vintage Brunswick Germantown Worsted.

What I think I’m trying to do is make my items seem simple to do by repetition. But it’s not working, because right now all I can think about is doing a *really* simple project. Something to cleanse my knitting palette.

Do you ever feel like this? And if so, what do you do to get your maker mojo back?

To Tear Out or Fix; That Is the Question

Are you a ripper or a fixer? I’m a bit of both.

One of the teachers at the Red Alder Fiber 2022 Festival said that i-cord is the duct tape of knitting. And while I’m sure that there are cases where this is true—it doesn’t fix all problems. For example, if you knit the armholes much, much, much too large–i-cord is not a solution.

Sweater patterns do not typically fit me. I have several things against me.

  1. I’m curvy, particularly in the hip area.
  2. I’m broad shouldered (wide across the back) and small breasted.
  3. My rise from my breasts to my shoulder is long.
  4. I’m almost 6 feet tall

The pattern I used is Audrey, by Melissa Leapman—a beautiful, easy-to-read, quick knit. To make it fit me better, I made adjustments to fit my unusual body. The design is for someone less curvy than me—it has no fitting but gave the impression of hourglass figure—no matter what your shape.

To deal with my longer body, I knit a few more “straight” rows at the bottom. To deal with my long measurement from top of the shoulder to nipple, I did this same at the top of the body too. Unfortunately, while this worked well at the bottom, it didn’t at the top. I ended up with a huge armhole–about 4″ to large for my twiggy little arms.

Audrey – body pieces blocked

I really, really should have cut my losses early and tore it out. Instead I blocked the pieces, sewed them together and knit the button band. The latter took two tries to sort out with my adjustments.

After three tries at the sleeves, Bottom up, then top down, followed by a hybrid (armpit short rows), I realized that no amount of fiddling would fix it. But given I tend towards the fixer end of the spectrum, I sallied forth.

And now?

I’m ripping. But that’s okay, I have all kinds of ideas on what do to (and not to do) to make it fix me in the best way possible.

Wish me luck!  

It’s Done! It’s Not Done.

I’ve had a love-hate relationship with this sweater. I loved the first version of it. So much so, that I decided to knit another. The pattern was great. I loved the yarn I chose. Why not knit it in another color? The first one took just over 2 months—I started in mid-July 2015. I finished in early September.

The first one was bottom up. So, I decided the next would be top down. The first one grew—as Madelinetosh is known to do—so this time I’d make it one size smaller. I also wanted it to be just a bit more fitted to my shape and longer. All these things are easy to manage in a top-down sweater.

Fast forward to November 2017, I cast on and started knitting. I had other projects on the needles, so this wasn’t going to be a 2-month sweater. Also, I mostly knit bottom-up sweaters, so I was in ‘learning mode’.

My first problem came in February 2018 with the sleeves. This was a mental thing. I feared that I would not be able to match them as well as the bottom up version, when I knit them 2-up on the same needle. It’s a great trick I learned from a master knitter. So, I set the project down until I could muster the courage to try and figure out how to assure myself they’d be perfect.

Perfect. That word was the issue. And it is something I’m working on with myself–to be okay with not perfect.

In November 2019 a group of other island ladies (friends of Island Wools) on Facebook started a “Finishers Club” for people that had too many WIPs. After sitting on this project for nearly two years, this was the one I put forward for me to finish in lockdown.

The sleeve problem was pretty easy to solve. I used magic loop. In retrospect, this was a no-brainer. I knit two up socks all the time, so why not the sleeves in the round?

The next issue I discovered was after I thought the sweater was done—I’d failed to use a smaller needle on the collar and it was HUGE.

This collar is not for the faint of heart. Sure, it’s garter and therefore boring. But it’s also 270 stitches. Each row is as wide as an afghan. I “finish” only to find that the collar hung to me knees. I looked at various ways to “fix” it. None was viable. The collar had to come off.

This is when having a group helps. You told people you’d do it and that motivates you to keep going, especially when you see them knocking off theirs. I did work on other WIPs in the meantime (including an afghan). But this was the “call out” project. So after I unknit the collar. I immediately (okay, more like three weeks later) cast back on with the right-size needle.

This problem isn’t about perfectionism, it’s about the reason I wanted a second sweater of the same type. I knew that if I didn’t fix it, I would not wear it.

Having groups to keep you going is a boon. And lockdown helped too.

What gets you started again after you’ve put something down?

More than I can Chew

Last week was Paris fashion week and though I’m a practical knitter, I like to view the Fall collections since that’s usually when designers show knits. Not so much this year. It seems that funny hats, brown latex, poofy sleeves and sloppy fits are “in”. If you are curious, Paris Fashion Week Instagram showed a good variety of looks: https://www.instagram.com/parisfashionweek/.

Part of the reason to scour the looks was to break out of a knitting funk, since all my projects seem long and boring. On the needles are requests: an afghan for mom, another pair of socks for a friend, and a wrap made of tiny yarns on tiny needles. If keep on this tack, I won’t be using up any of yarn I’d hoped to destash, and I won’t hit my goal of 20 completes this year.

Last night, I found myself looking at the inventory (online) of two of my local yarn shops (LYS) for inspiration. I even thought to drop by, because retail therapy is what I do when I feel the need for something “fresh”. The queue gets longer; the stash grows; more WIPs.

Frustrated by fashion, fatigued by projects on the needles, I went to my stash to stop myself from breaking my New Years’ resolution not to buy more yarn. As expected, I was instantly overwhelmed by the sheer volume—and the ideas came pouring out.

An Inspirational Disaster Area

All the inspiration I need is there. Now, I’m wishing for more hands and more time to knit it all up!

What’s inspiring you this week?

Rock ’em Sock ’em

Extermely Fitted Socks

Many times, I’ve said, that socks are my least favorite to knit. And yet…

Socks are the first to mind when I cast on these days. Partly, its demand pull (Nick is a sock fiend) and partly it’s what’s in the stash (READ: went on a MASSIVE sock yarn buying spree). Mostly, it is the need for a traveling project.

With a commute like mine from Orcas Island to Seattle (a once a week round trip), I need the packable project. And I must admit, socks are growing on me. They can be hard or easy, depending on the level of sophistication. I’d say, other than extremely custom fitting of Nick’s funny foot, I’m still in the “plain” sock mode as an “intermediate” sock knitter.

I envy the beautiful projects by experienced sockers, with all the intricacies of lace, braids and such. I also started with patterned socks. These days I tend to be more plain and practical, with the exception of fitting. And I must be getting better because this final pair, still on the needles, is my own pattern. Not only is there lots of fitting, it’s got a Turkish cast-on and a German short-row heel.

In the future, I’ll try and make it a download, but with a new job, long commute and very little free time (even for knitting and blogging) that might be a while. Certainly not until they are finished.

For now, I’ll just have to be happy about the Blacktop Ferry Socks I just finished. This happy accident is because I ran out of the Yarnachy Liberty sock wool I started with.

Now you see the blacktop, now you don’t. 🙂

Hibernation Over–I hope!

You know you have them. Those UFOs waiting in the closet—sometimes for months and years. You know why you started them and there is even the hope that you’ll come back to them. Yes?

I’ve only once met someone who didn’t have any unfinished objects (UFOs) or a stash because she only crocheted one project at a time. Now she’s a normal person with both. I sometimes have phases of no UFOs. It feels both exhilaratingly hopeful and strangely empty.

This past week, we were doing the usual 3-hour weekly car commute and I needed a project FAST. I couldn’t find my “traveling” project—usually a pair of socks for my air travel carryon. For the car, a big project would have been fine, but I couldn’t lay my hands on the UFO I wanted, an easy and time-consuming afghan at the end of the commute. And given we were up against a ferry crossing, there wasn’t time to dither.

With husband a-foot tapping, there was no time to find a pattern, yarn, notions etc. so I grabbed a hibernating project. You might recognize it from this blog from February of last year, where I was stuck (sleeves). I skipped onto the button band collar where I felt more secure. But this got me to thinking about the different reasons for hibernating projects. Because there are a complex set of reasons for it—and they aren’t always the same!

So why do projects hibernate? I listed a few of my reasons below:

  1. Got bored (did you really want a project this easy?)
  2. Got tired (happens with LONG projects, small yarns, small needles)
  3. Got stuck (happens at transitions)
  4. Made a fixable mistake and will have to tear it back (otherwise you’d just frog it, no?)
  5. Got interrupted (the “shiny object” syndrome)
  6. Lost a key notion
  7. Didn’t get enough yarn, buttons, etc.…
  8. Can’t find the pattern
  9. Can’t find it

Though I’m a fairly organized person with lots of online patterns, the  last two happen more than I care to admit. My primary ones are 3, 4 and 5—probably in that order.

Which if these seems to be your most common? Are there others?

UFO Sister- and Brotherhood

Aliens? No. Not that kind of UFO. There is, sadly, no abduction involved. Though sometimes I feel like my ever increasing stash of wool might carry me off.

Last time I talked about giving myself permission to have more than one project going at the same time. And I’ve done it—gotten over my head in projects. And as I look around at these works in progress (WIPs), I feel a little weighed down. It is as if they are all staring down at me saying, “Do you really think you’ll get back to me?”

If it isn’t obvious, I’m a perfectionist. Everyone that knows me, knows this is true. Whether I’m preparing a lecture or I’m knitting a pair of socks, I can literarily give myself an ulcer worrying if it isn’t just so. And this is, by and large, the only source of unhappiness for me, given my life is busy, full, and downright good!

Body image, learning new skills, investment for retirement, these are all sources of my endless frustration of coming up short of an unrealistic ideal—heaven forbid I read the news! And Nick, my dearest love, even posted a photo of me and my parents (the Joneses) with the tagline “Are you keeping up?” for most people that wouldn’t be an accusation. For me…? Hmm.

Unless it is a competition to have more WIPs than anyone else, I’m just keeping my head above water. And you know? I like it that way. That jolt of tension? It’s a good thing.


My little surprise of joy today was finding that I’m just a couple of inches of easy knitting away from Nick having another pair of socks. The trip to Santa Fe with my parents, well, I must have gotten in more knitting time than I remember. If all goes well, he’ll be taking two pairs of my “lurid” hand knit hoof covers on his UK trip to “inspect” Margaret and Peter (his parents).

And with a glass of house Chardonnay from the Lower Tavern—I raise my glass in a toast to all of you with UFOs (unfinished objects) of all crafts and kinds.

Satisfying Simple Home Knits

After more than a year of one-project-at-a-time knitting, I now have four(!) WIPs with several others in the ideation phase. And though I’ve always been told that more projects can create time slicing and delayed gratification of finishing, I’m going for it

I  realize, I’m putting at risk, the prickly one that made me rethink my serial knitting rule. But it had me so frustrated, I didn’t want to pick it up, which meant NO KNITTING AT ALL. So it was time to dig into my growing queue of items that were easier to tackle–some quick, some not so quick.

My guest bath has long needed a bathmat. So, I found a simple and free pattern called Tender Foot Spa Bathmat. And I’m finding the 100% vintage Bernat yarn Cajun Cotton is soft cuddly and absorbent—just perfect for the pattern! The spot for it is fairly small, so I’m narrowing the pattern a bit.


I love my modified simple Squares Throw from the Erika Knight’s Comforts of Home. Erika’s pattern alternates between stockinette and reverse stockinette, but I like having an edge that lets it lay flat.

The last time I made this throw I used a seed stitch border and worsted weight yarn. This time I’m matching the yarn to the pattern (bulky) with a garter edge. The thing that will be the same is to knit it as one piece, so I don’t have to sew it together.


And though this is not a weekend project or all that portable, it’s easy and I know that the final project will be beautiful. And the Trivoli I got on sale—60% wool and 40% silk—looks rough, but is actually very soft to the touch. And I love the chocolate color with bright flecks of blue in this nubby yarn.

I’m really loving the diversity and ease of these home projects. And when I finally come out the other side with work and teaching, I’ll have more room in my brain for trickier projects. Then I’ll go back to the sweater that was making me have kittens.

Meanwhile, my house is getting “dressed” with simple, home-crafted knits.

Give Yourself Permission

I’m feeling very stressed at the moment. Everything seems due all at once. Knitting is usually a relief from the fray, but I found myself feeling guilty about that too. First, because I’m still doing it when I’ve so little time. Second, because I’m hankering for an easy project.

Lately I’ve been limiting myself to “good girl” projects; knitting for others, using up stash, learning a new technique, etc. I was also limiting myself to finish projects before starting another–because I’m trying to stick to a “no UFOs” rule.

I’d planned a trip to San Diego months ago to visit dear friends and escape from winter for this past weekend. I hadn’t realized that so many things would be so pressing. And rather than try to catch up, skip the trip, and push through, I realized the best thing for me was to go, have fun, and see the sun.

But what to take along for knitting? The current project that has hit a thorny spot? It was stressful just thinking about packing it.

Instead I told myself to take a simpler and more portable one–a  pair of stockinette socks. And since socks are not a favorite project, on my return I cast on another—a simple squares throw—mindless and easy.

I don’t know what order I’ll finish, which I’ll pick up or whether I’ll cast something else on. And that feels… amazing, freeing and joyous!

Go ahead!

Give yourself permission to just do a project you’d love to do. A fun dishcloth or baby booties or whatever you might enjoy. Pick up that special yarn you are craving to knit. Make something for yourself just for the pleasure of it.

And until the pressure lets off… that’s just what I’m going to do.

Summer Knitting in Winter

The not so new job is still keeping me very busy. So much so that it was really starting to be Fall before I started my summer knitting. And I’m thinking, it is this sort of thing that creates so many UFOs. You scheme and plan and get things gathered and before you know it *POOF* Summer is gone.

I managed in September to whip up a Sleeveless Mock Turtleneck Tube Vest by Stefanie Japel in a dreamy Bernat Panama Natural Flax (AKA oatmeal) color from some of grandma’s stash. So yes, I’m still “shopping” mostly from home, but that hasn’t stopped the buying new yarns. :-/


It took two tries. The one I made in August was HUGE due to a brain fart I had on sizing. I swatched and fixed the gauge with the different yarn, but somehow I thought what stitches per side was just the stitches for the center pattern. Needless to say I was off by several inches (12 stitches each side of the center stockinette panel).

Try 2 in September was a winner, but it was already getting a bit to chilly to wear it. Don’t be fooled by the photos–it was a cool breezy day and my jacket was close at hand.

And what of the Smitten Tee I was planning to do next? *sigh*

Well, I cast it on with another grandma stash yarn, Lane Borgesesia, Cotone del Borgo in navy, when it was still warmish, but then I started to feel the pressure of Christmas knitting. So now after working so hard last year to punt UFOs and getting down to a project or two in progress. Smitten, is now firmly on my “to-do” list.


Anyone else run out of time to finish their summer knitting plans? Did you carry on, frog or just tuck it away?