Super Freaky-Fast Super Bulky

I’m staring down the toothy maw of the holidays, and I’m starting to panic, but just a little. This weekend was to be a quiet time in which I could do some prep work for Thanksgiving and even Christmas, because the guys were supposed to go camping with the Scouts. The campout was cancelled due to extreme cold, so instead of having me a nice, quiet prep weekend, I ended up with quite the opposite when my husband decided to invite over several dozen people from Scouts for a party — sort of a consolation for not going camping. While the result was fun, I’ve gotten no prep done and now I have exactly one weekend betwixt me and Thanksgiving, and about all the time from Thanksgiving through New Year’s is spoken for.

All of which makes it even more crazy that I decided to cast on yet another project in the midst of all the pre-holiday rush. Last year, I made this super-bulky weight shawl from Imperial Yarn Native Twist in Teal. It’s casual and blankety, just like I wanted.

Easy Teal Shawl 2

I ended up with almost an entire skein of yarn left over. I debated making matching mitts, which is my favorite thing to do with yarn left over from shawl-making, but tabled the idea, because by the time I’d gotten around to it, spring was getting on and the last thing I wanted to do was to hold heavy, wool yarn in my hands as the weather warmed.

Fast-forward to now, and with an arctic cold front bearing down on us, keeping high temperatures in the single digits (Fahrenheit, so I’m being serious here), I decided that a quickie, warm project was in order.  In three knitting sessions, I had me a pair of mitts:

Bulky Teal Mitts


The pattern is Leftover Mitts.


They were on and off the needles before I even knew it, and now I have mitts to go with my shawl:

Mitts and Scarf

I don’t use super-bulky yarn that often, and this project made me question that practice.  I should probably keep a few skeins of super-bulky around for those times when I need an instant-gratification project for personal sanity or for a last-minute gift.

Ordinarily, I’d cast on another project to celebrate, keeping with my on-the-needles, off-the-needles rhythm. But these aren’t ordinary times. I really want to finish Chris’s sweater by Christmas, and the only way I’m going to eke out the knitter-hours between now and then is to knuckle down and knit that last sleeve. There’ll be plenty of time to give into startitis beginning on December 26th.



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Easy Come, Easy Go

My son wandered over to where I was sitting, quietly frogging a sock. “Are you taking out that whole thing?” he asked, surprised.

“Yes, I am,” I answered calmly. “There was so much wrong with it that it would never be useful, so I’m taking it all out and will re-do it.”

“Gee,” he responded, “if Dad and I had to re-do that much work on one of the cars, we’d be swearing and stuff.”

“Well, I was pretty upset last night when I realized this sock wasn’t going to work, but I’ve figured out what I need to do differently this time. It’s best that I just unravel the work and get started again while I’m in a decent frame of mind.” Chris wandered back to the garage where he and his dad were working.

I sat there, alternately frogging and re-winding the yarn, thinking about our conversation. Although I’d been somewhat upset at the thought of frogging over eight knitter-hours’ worth of work, I wasn’t terribly surprised at that outcome. Much of my knitting is experimental in nature, and this sock was no exception. Sometimes, my experiments work out and I wind up with a nice finished article and new skills, to boot. There are lots of times, however, when they don’t. When I am faced with a failed experiment, I try to collect all the data I can from it and adjust for my next attempt, or determine that I need to go an entirely different direction. Every project teaches me something, if I just stop and listen.

This was my very first sock. I’ve been knitting for nearly 20 years, and have never made socks, for reasons which deserve (and will get) their own blog post. So: first sock. What could possibly go wrong?

I decided on some plain and simple socks, so I pulled out the Yarn Harlot’s book, Knitting Rules, knit up a gauge swatch, and cast on, using her cheat sheet. Sixty-four stitches would yield and 8-inch sock. Fine, I thought. They’ll fit somebody.


Yarn: Hawthorne by Knit Picks, colorway Nob Hill.

I knit and knit and knit, finally getting to the heel flap, which I duly knitted into a square, then turned it, and picked up the stitches for the gussets. In my zeal to begin the decreases, I read the directions for the decreases, and didn’t see the all-important following information: “knit every other row plain.” I was off and running, decreasing every single row.

Only when the decreases were done did I see that second line of the directions. I debated what to do. I considered leaving it as-is and then trying the sock on to see how screwed up the foot would be with the steeper gussets. I thought about ripping out the gussets and picking up the stitches.


Really, that would have been the best solution, if the rest of the sock had gone well. I decided it hadn’t. I measured the sock. Eight inches in circumference, just as it should be. But it looked too large for any of the women in my family. While we all have just about 8-inch legs, the sock, I feared, would droop, as it really needed some negative ease. It probably needed to be about a 7-inch sock for any of my petite folk.

Then, I looked at the fast-decreasing ball of yarn. Did I even have enough for a second sock? I weighed it, and the sock-in-progress. The answer? Probably not. I’d probably run out of yarn after the gussets on the second sock.

I considered my options. Either find a one-legged woman with a largish, odd-shaped foot, give up altogether, or frog the thing and start over smaller. Smaller would get me socks that would fit someone in the family and I’d have enough yarn to eke out a pair.

I held the sock for a good while, turning it over and examining it from every angle, as thoughts turned over in my mind. I’d learned a lot from this project. I learned that socks do make good purse projects. I learned that I liked this particular sock yarn. I learned that the sock could have done with a bit of ankle shaping, and I know how to do that for Take 2. I learned that turning a heel is no scarier than short-row shaping for a shawl. I learned that picking up stitches for gussets is even easier than picking up stitches for the neckline of a sweater. And I learned (and alas, not for the first time) to read, read, read the directions all the way through.

Hoping that Take 2 is going to work out better:



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The Power of the Purse [Project]

I try to keep a small knitting project in my purse. A purse project means that even when my lace is languishing and my sweater is sulking, I have a small project, at least, that I’ll make progress on when I have a few moments here and there as I’m on the go.

Last weekend, I looked at my calendar for the upcoming week, realized I had several good knitting opportunities brewing, and decided I needed to cast on a new purse project. I went on a stash dive and came up with this:

Keyhole Scarf yarn

It’s handspun, hand-painted yarn in an alpaca-bamboo blend that I picked up at the most recent alpaca festival. I decided to make a keyhole scarflette  as a variation on my usual go-to accessory project, the venerable cowl.

Although the scarf is easy, I took care of the fiddly parts over the weekend, knitting up until the straightaway:

Keyhole Scarf begun


On Monday, I had a doctor’s appointment. The doctor — shock — was running very late, so I made a lot of progress on the scarf, and was only slightly perturbed that my lunch was postponed by her tardiness:

Keyhole Monday

On Tuesday, I had a little time to knit during lunch:

Keyhole Tuesday


On Wednesday, I took advantage of my son’s orthodontist appointment to knit a little more:

Keyhole Wednesday

I took Thursday off from my project to run to the yarn store at lunch (absence excused).

Over the weekend, I sat down between canning and freezing some of the last of my summer produce to finish the scarf and then block it:

Keyhole finished

So, that’s a project finished in a week, knit up in otherwise wasted time. I’d like to feed my leftover yarn to the next person who says, “Gee, I wish I had time to knit.” But I suppose that I’ll just show them my scarf.

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