WIP Wednesday: Look, something shiny!

I know I said I was going to work on my old WIPs, but in the end they just could not compete with a shiny new project. This might be a big part of why I have so many WIPs in the first place. I ended up casting on a cardigan for my daughter who is in kindergarten. I chose the Family Cardigan 8225 from Sirdar. It’s not exactly the catchiest name, but it is exactly what I was looking for. I am knitting the crewneck in the smallest size, which looks pretty close to a child’s size 6. I figure if the sizing doesn’t exactly work out as planned, I can always give it to my 4 year old instead.

Kid knits work up so fast!

I am knitting the sweater out of Quince & Co. chickadee yarn in the sorbet and leek colorways. I cast on in the green and then switched to pink, and I will bind off in the green as well.

This is a project of firsts: I have never made a seamed garment, and I have also never made a child-sized garment. Let me tell you, the combination is addictive. I just started this project a few days ago and I am almost done knitting the back. At this rate, I’ll be agonizing over the button band before you know it. After lugging around an adult-sized top-down sweater, it is refreshing to just have these tiny pieces to knit.

I am very concerned about picking up all of those stitches for the button band. I have only ever picked up 10 stitches at a time under the arms of a garment. This is 100 at once. I am also sweating placing the buttons and sewing them on. It seems crazy that I could make an entire sweater and mess it up on the buttons, but I can’t sew to save my life. I will have to deep dive into all the YouTube videos when the time comes and hope I can make some magic happen.

For all of you cardigan knitters out there, do you sew in a backing for your button band? I keep seeing all of these cute contrasting ribbons on the inside of knitted garments, and I thought that would be cute. But then that’s more sewing, and you know how I feel about that. I am also considering embroidering a tiny bee or a heart on the sweater in the green. We’ll see how ambitious I feel after this is seamed up.

I hope your WIPs are treating you well. Do you have any new projects in the works?

Back from the Frog Pond: Tissé Scarf

I have to believe that I am not the only knitter with a pile of shame in the corner of the dining room. Whenever a project goes completely off the rails, I throw it in the pile of shame to cool off and repent for its mistakes. This is also a great place to find lost circulars or dpns. In the spirit of new year, new beginnings, I am trying to clear WIPs out of the pile of shame and decide once and for all whether I should fix or frog my knitting mistakes.

I agreed to knit my Mom a scarf at the end of summer. We picked out beautiful lace weight yarn and Tissé, a Julie Hoover pattern with all-over herringbone stitch. It was going slowly, but looking good until the whole thing slipped off the needles sometime this fall. It was just too tricky to figure out how to get the slipped stitches and knits and purls back on the needles successfully. I had also added an I-cord edging on both sides which wasn’t really in the style of the original pattern. I decided to just frog the whole thing and start over.

Without further ado, here is my new and improved Tissé:

It is just the first beginnings of a scarf, but I have high hopes for this one. Maybe I can get it to my mom for Mother’s Day? Where do your WIPs go when they misbehave?

Project Bags

This morning, as I was digging through an old Whole Foods bag to find my yarn and tape measure, it occurred to me: maybe it’s time to upgrade my project bags. Or get an actual project bag. Most of my knitting lives in old shopping bags or cast-off canvas totes (I’m looking at you, New Yorker tote from 2019). While they do the job ok, they don’t look that great. And it would be nice to have some pockets and a way to close the whole thing up.

I did a quick Etsy search for project bags and – no surprise – there were conservatively seventy-eight million to choose from. In an effort to narrow things down, here’s a roundup of my favorite Chicago-based bags. When in doubt, go local, right?

Paper or Threads

Laura Mooney, the artist behind Paper or Threads on Etsy has her own line of project bags made out of original cotton fabrics that she designed herself. There are medium and large drawstring bags and some whimsical zipper pouches and notion bags as well. If you like to sew, it’s worth noting that a lot of her fabrics are available for purchase at Spoonflower.com

Beautiful Syster

Beautiful Syster is a Chicago-based company run by two sisters (no surprise here). Each project bag is named after someone in their family. I love the amazing graphic prints. Not only do they have lovely bags and pouches, but several yarn collaborations and kits as well.

Nomadic Yarns

Ashley Aguillar, of Nomadic Yarns, is an indie yarn dyer based in the Chicago suburbs. She primarily makes amazing self-striping yarn. Imagine my surprise when I saw some lovely project bags as well! There are Harry Potter themed bags, Willy Wonka bags and a really amazing Frida Kahlo bucket bag as well.

Zakka Studio

Zakka Studio Handmade has hand sewn pouches and project bags as well as jewelry and other eco-friendly options. This is a particularly good option if you’re looking for something a little more neutral and a little less whimsical. I like the pared-down aesthetic and attention to detail.


Joymake has a lot of options for project bags. I love the large size and laid back prints. The bags are fully lined with pockets and come in a variety of fabric choices.

What do you keep your knitting in?

Friday FO: Magnolia Sweater

Question: if you finish knitting your pandemic sweater, does that mean the pandemic is over too? I ordered my yarn for Camilla Vad’s Magnolia Sweater right after Chicago went on lockdown in the spring of 2020. And although the nupps almost did me in, I finally have another finished object.

I could not be happier with how this turned out. I knit the sweater in Rauma Lamullgarn, a light fingering, and Rowan Kidsilk Haze, 70% mohair/30% silk. It was my first time knitting lace, my first time knitting twisted rib, my first time doing German short rows. And it turned out pretty well! I don’t think I did the nupps exactly right, despite watching every video YouTube chose to throw at me. Some of them are a little droopy, and each one was ridiculously arduous to make. But I think it looks great regardless.

It is not oversized at all. If anything it is a little fitted at the top. But it is still large enough to wear something underneath. The more I wear it, the more I like it. Too bad there’s nowhere to go. Looks like I’ll be rocking my fancy new sweater to the grocery store once a week!

What to Knit: Oak Park Cowl

© Em Lyn Knits

I know I said that I need to finish my lingering WIPs, but all I want to do is cast on all the things. In particular, I am looking for a new colorwork project in my life. (Why not just knit the second Mīlēt mitten, you ask? Logic does not apply to my knitting, you guys). So when I saw the Oak Park Cowl by Monica at Em Lyn Knits, it just jumped to the top of my queue.

The Oak Park Cowl is a two-color, stranded cowl knit in fingering weight yarn. The graphic geometric pattern is inspired by the stained glass window design in Frank Lloyd Wright’s home in Oak Park, Illinois.

© Em Lyn Knits

I am a sucker for all things local, and Oak Park is right around the corner from me. I also love Frank Lloyd Wright’s design aesthetic and I think the high-contrast design really pops. This looks like a fun project that an adventurous beginner could tackle.

What is your knit inspiration these days?

Wednesday WIP Roundup

I took a look around and it seems like some of my WIPs have overstayed their welcome over here. I would like to cast on some new projects, but first I need to clear out some old items. You know it’s bad when I’m seriously considering buying new needles because my old needles are busy, and I’d rather just buy more than finish something.

In the spirit of moving things along, I thought I’d do a quick WIP roundup to see what needs to be completed ASAP:

The Shift by Andrea Mowry
Primrose Yarn Co. yarn in Rose Sport (clockwise from the top): Emerald Midnight, Where is my Mind, and Tabloid Gossip,

This cowl is beautiful and there is simply no reason why I haven’t finished it. I am in the middle of the last section with less than 40 rows to go. I squished it onto a short cable with stoppers because I needed my long cable for a sweater project. Now it’s sitting forgotten in a bag somewhere waiting to be rescued.

Tissé by Julie Hoover, a.k.a. Mom’s Scarf

I promised my mom that I would knit her a scarf. We looked at yarn and picked out this beautiful lace weight Anzula Meridian yarn in the Emerald colorway. I got about five inches into Julie Hoover’s Tissé scarf in a herringbone pattern and disaster struck: I pulled the scarf out of a bag, and the whole thing slipped off the needles. Now it’s in a pile in the corner. I just don’t have the mental fortitude to try to get a herringbone pattern back on the needles correctly. Seriously contemplating starting over on this one. Blerg.

Mīlēt Mittens by Ysolda Teague
Quince & Co. Finch in Malbec, Fjord, and Egret

I knit one beautiful Mīlēt mitten and have yet to cast on the second. Why? Apparently second mitten syndrome is as deadly as second sock syndrome.

There are also two or three single socks that I won’t bother listing here. I am considering wearing them mismatched around the house, just to save myself the trouble of finishing the pair.

I’m going to see if I can clear out some of these malingering projects and cast on some new and exciting things. Stay tuned!

So many questions

January is chugging along being its dark and icy self. It is freezing here in Chicago, and I am definitely getting a lot of use out of my hand knits. Thank God for sweater weather, right? It makes me wonder what non-knitters do to make themselves feel better in these wintery months.

I would love to cast on for a kid’s cardigan this week. To that end, I swatched for the Family Cardigan 8225 from Sirdar. I was planning to add a very thin band of contrast color along the hem and the cuffs in the style of the Basic Kid by Lori Versaci. You guys, I have so many questions about my swatch.

The pattern gauge is 22 sts / 28 rows per 4″ square. I got gauge horizontally, but my row gauge is way off. I came out with 22 sts / 32 rows. That is a pretty big difference, no? I usually don’t worry about row gauge because I just knit until I get to the length I want. But seeing as how this will be my first seamed cardigan, I’m a little concerned. Should I still plan to add rows to the pieces? Do I need to space them out so the button holes don’t look weird? Can I just block out the difference or is that too much to solve with pins alone?

I am planning to use Quince & Co. Chickadee, a sport weight merino, in the colorway sorbet for the main color, and leek for the contrast. To add to my troubles, a lot of pink dye was in the water after I washed my swatch. Now I’m worried that it’s going to bleed into my contrast color. I am thinking that I should wash the yarn ahead of time, but I need to figure out how to do that. Ugh.

I hope your week is treating you well! I would love to hear any insights you have on my badly behaved swatch.

Pattern Roundup: Kid Cardigans

If you hang around on Instagram, particularly during the holiday season, you hear a lot of discussion about whether people are “knit-worthy” or not. I never really paid that much attention because I was such a new knitter. There was truly no one who would want my misshapen yarn experiments, so the question of “knit-worthiness” was a bit of a moot point.

But, over the past year my knitting has improved somewhat. I would say it is solidly in the “not embarrassing” category. Now, I love my children very much. I would venture to say that I adore them. They are worthy of love, and happiness, and cake, and anything that I can think to give them.

But are they worthy of a hand-knit sweater? Really??? The jury is still out. I might make them a sweater that they can’t live without and they wear it into the ground. Or they might decide that they are a mermaid who doesn’t need knitwear, and they will never ever put it on. Le sigh.

Despite this, I have recently started to consider knitting a cardigan for my daughter, B, who is in kindergarten. She does wear cardigans sometimes. And if she hates it, there is always the possibility that her 4 year-old sister, F, will wear it instead. What finally put me over the top is the opportunity to try seaming a garment. I really want to learn how to knit a sweater in pieces, but I have been hesitant to go through all the trouble of knitting an adult-sized sweater only to mangle it in the finishing. However, how much time could it really take to knit a size 6 sweater? I think I’m going to go for it. In that vein, here is my roundup of kids cardigans. There were not nearly as many as I thought:

Basic Kid by Lori Versaci
© Gale Zucker 2014

The Basic Kid pattern is a seamed bottom-up cardigan (or pullover) that runs from size 2-14. It has a crew neck and a fantastic thin stripe of contrasting color along the bottom hem and cuffs. It has buttons and a modified drop sleeve. I love the look of this cardigan (bonus points that the sample was knit in pink, a perennial favorite at our house). Some of the comments on Ravelry say that the pattern is confusing and hard to follow, but I really do like how simple and clean this looks.

Dahlia Barn Solo by Lene Holme Samsøe

I know I said I wanted to try a seamed cardigan, but you guys! Look at this adorable top-down number. The Dahlia Barn Solo is charming with just the right amount of interest in the yolk so that you don’t get bored knitting it.

© Lene Holme Samsøe

This sweater is a top-down, one-piece sweater (or dress?) is knit in the round. I am not sure how that works for the cardigan version. There is no mention of a steek, so maybe it is knit flat. There is a lovely eyelet pattern in the yolk. It comes in sizes 1-8.

Family Cardigans 8225 by Sirdar
© Sirdar Spinning Ltd

Ok, don’t be put off by the cheesy photo, or the less than stylish buttons. This seamed, crew neck raglan sleeve cardigan is pretty much exactly what I was looking for. It doesn’t list the sizes, but it will fit a chest measurement of 27 1/2″ – 47 3/4″ which appears to be a child’s size six on up. I’m a little bit worried that it came out in 2019 and there are only 2 projects on Ravelry. Maybe people who knit kid sweaters aren’t into making project pages?

Prisma by Fabi
© Fabi

Prisma by Fabi is absolutely the sweater that my girls would beg for me to knit if I showed them this picture. It’s rainbow! The buttons are pink! There are tiny pockets! This adorable cardigan is bottom-up crewneck, seamed cardigan with raglan shaping. It runs from a size 2 to a size 8. I am a little bit worried that matching up the stripes might be a little bit much for my first seamed project, but otherwise this is adorable.

Do you knit for your kids (or other people’s kids?). Do you have any go-to cardigan patterns?

Sweater goals

I took a break from the blog for a bit. What with the holidays, and remote learning, and a bunch of home remodeling projects, I hadn’t been doing a lot of knitting. Not to worry – a couple weeks ago I picked up the needles again, and now I want to make all the things. In an effort to see some immediate progress, I finally cast on a No Frills Sweater by PetiteKnit. I bought yarn for this project more than a year ago, and it seemed like the perfect time to get started.

The first sweater I ever knit was the Sunday Sweater, also by PetiteKnit. It was a major undertaking because I had just started knitting about a month earlier. True to form, I didn’t want to make anything reasonable like a scarf, or a dishcloth. No. Why do a beginner project when you can knit a sweater? It was definitely a stretch, considering I had to look up how to do everything: knit a gauge swatch. in the round. how to separate for sleeves. what’s a dpn? Looking back it was fairly ridiculous. But I got a finished sweater out of the project that fits me reasonably well.

I was hopeful that with some more experience, knitting the No Frills Sweater might turn out to be a breeze. Turns out, my intuition was correct. I am a week and a half into this project and it is flying off the needles:

I am using Filcolana Anina, a fingering weight merino in colorway 225 Red, held double with Filcolana Tila, a lace weight mohair silk blend in colorway 335 Peach Blossom. The No Frills Sweater is a straightforward raglan pullover with a few German short rows in the back. It is knit entirely in stockinette. And it is a complete breeze. I am pretty sure that I can knock this out in two more weeks. Unheard of! I made the next size up from what I usually knit, because I really want this to be oversized and comfy. Also, it would be nice to wash something and just let it dry without stretching it to kingdom come and frantically measuring the whole time.

In other news, it is January and a good time for taking stock in what I’d love to accomplish this year. I don’t have many knitting goals, but I would love to try knitting a seamed sweater, and perhaps steeking. (!!!) I don’t have a sewing machine, despite falling down the Project Runway rabbit hole a decade ago. So if there is a good way to secure the steek without machine sewing, I will give it a go. Other than that, I’d love to make a bigger shawl, and amp up my colorwork. I have been ogling all of the beautiful Scandinavian mitts and socks on Instagram, and I think I have to try.

What are you working on these days? What are you planning for this year?

What to Knit: Dissent Cowl by Carissa Browning

© Carissa Browning

Someone I loved once gave me
a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand
that this, too, was a gift.

“The Uses of Sorrow,” Mary Oliver

It seems clichéd to point out what a dumpster fire 2020 has turned into: Covid, police brutality, wildfires, you name it, it’s happening. It is surprising how much you can get used to, isn’t it? But even after all this, it was still a great shock and sadness to lose Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a.k.a. Notorious RBG, this week. There are many people that are much more eloquent that I am who have paid her fitting tribute. I can just say that during my days in law school and many years of practice, she was an inspiration to me. We have lost a towering example of what is possible in this life. At least she is hopefully reunited with her good friend Nino Scalia.

In honor of Justice Ginsburg, I couldn’t help but choose The Dissent Cowl by Carissa Browning for What to Knit.

The Dissent Cowl by Carissa Browning

The Dissent Cowl is a beautiful rendering of Justice Ginsburg’s infamous dissent collar. It is knit in DK weight from the top down using mosaic knitting. The clever increases give the cowl its iconic flared shape. There are over 335 projects on Ravelry, so I may be a little late to the party here, but it is especially timely these days.

As an added bonus, starting September 18, 2020 through November 3, 2020, in memory of the late, great Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 100% of the sales of this pattern will go to the American Civil Liberties Union.

What are you knitting these days? Who inspires you?