Sometimes, the yarn knows what it wants to be.

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So, remember how I expressed some reservations about how the Little Wave pattern was coming out in my Bartlettyarns 2-ply? And how I mentioned that maybe it would work better as a Farmhouse Cardigan?

Ripping out Little Wave

 

Well, sometimes I’m a little bit of a dumbass, because I kept right on knitting the Little Wave pattern up to the armhole, all the while harboring a suspicion that it was coming out a bit over gauge. Well, the fact that I was considering a Farmhouse Cardigan, which is knit at 16sts/4in, as a possible alternative to the Little Wave pattern, which is knit at 19sts/4in, maybe should’ve clued me in to the fact that I was more than just a BIT over gauge. Because guess what my gauge actually was on Little Wave? 16sts/4in. How hard is it to stop and check your gauge before you’ve knit half a sweater, self?! (My excuse is that the twisted stitch pattern on Little Wave is just so fun to knit that I didn’t want to stop. Still, that was DUMB.)

A big ball of yarn
I spit-spliced the yarn while knitting Little Wave, so it came out in one GIANT ball

 

Anyway, it turns out I should have trusted those little whispers the yarn had been giving me from the beginning – it really wanted to be a Farmhouse Cardigan, so that’s what I cast on for. My gauge is perfect.

But because I’m me, I can’t just follow a pattern…so instead of knitting flaps for the pockets and joining them in later, I decided I’d play around with making double-knit pockets. It took a bit of trial and error before I figured out the best way of doing this in garter rib, but I’ve got a good system now! I made a couple of little videos to show how I’m doing this, both in case it’s useful to anyone else, but also so that I can remember what I’m doing in case I don’t finish the pockets before we leave for our trip. (I probably will, but I’m trying to be SMART this time!) So here are my very first two YouTube videos that I’ve ever created, which I’m going to try to embed in this post. I hope it works!

First, the video in which I explain how I set things up, and what I do on right-side rows.

Basically, I did a kfb in each of the 15 stitches of the pocket, which created pairs of stitches. Kfb makes a knit stitch with a little purl bump to the left of it, and the knit stitches became the “front” stitches while the purl bumps became the “back” stitches for double knitting. On right-side rows, I simply knit across the front stitches, slipping the back stitches with the yarn in front (running between the front and back stitches) the whole way across the pocket. That means that I *don’t* work the back (pocket-lining) stitches on right-side rows at all. Which means that the wrong-side rows have to be a little bit more involved…but I made a video for that, too!

On the wrong-side, I first purl across the back (pocket-lining) stitches, slipping the front stitches, while keeping the yarn in back all the way across the pocket; the final pocket stitch is slipped, because it’s a front stitch. Then I turn the work, and I work across the front stitches in pattern (knitting the knits, and purling in the garter columns) while slipping the back stitches, keeping the yarn in front of the back stitches. I like this a lot, because it’s easier for me to see what I’m doing when I work the garter rib front section from the front! Then, because I still need to make up a row on the back (having not knit one on the right-side row), I purl back across the back stitches again, slipping the front stitches, just as I did the first time. This gets the yarn into the right place to complete the row, too. This makes it so that I have a garter stitch front of the pocket, and a stockinette stitch lining (which looks like reverse stockinette from the wrong side):

Showing off my double-knit pocket from the wrong side.

 

As you saw in the video, I like to do a little “sanity check” where I wedge my finger in the little gap between my needles and sweep my finger back and forth in the space between the two layers of the pocket – it’s my way of making sure I didn’t accidentally connect the two layers on the previous row!

Look, I'm knitting two separate layers at the same time!

 

I’m really enjoying the double knitting – and it’s so delightfully squishy!

It's so squishy!

 

The Joy mitts were really the first time I’d ever done double-knitting (I know, how is that possible?) and now I want to try it all over the place! It really kind of blows my mind that I can create a pocket on a sweater, while I’m knitting the sweater, with a single piece of yarn…no need to break the yarn, or add a new piece, just one piece of yarn, and I end up with pockets. How magical is that??

Showing off my double-knit pocket

 

I wouldn’t say it’s any faster than knitting the flaps separately and joining them later – in fact, it might well be slower, but I’m enjoying it so much, and since I had that giant ball of yarn, I wanted to use it as continuously as possible, so this seemed like a great approach, and if nothing else, I’m learning a lot more about how double knitting works!

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a little less invisible

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Joy kit!
I still haven’t decided where to put my rainbow sheep sticker!

My newest finished project is a pair of mitts, from a really neat pattern (Joy) by Ysolda Teague – there’s a folded hem plus intarsia combined with double knitting just in the first few rows, which kept me on my toes, but the pattern is well-explained and the mitts knit up really fast (at least for someone like me who is accustomed to knitting sweaters).

Look, I made a bi flag! (With thanks to @ysolda for the fantastic pattern - it’s fiddly, but well-explained, and I just love the combo of garter + double-knitting!)

I ordered a kit for the “bi” pattern from Ysolda’s site the day she made kits available, and decided that even though my city (weirdly) celebrates Pride in July, I wanted to knit them up during what is actually Pride month, so I cast on a few days ago and now I’m done.

Showing off my Joy mitts
All finished!

Ravelry Project Page
Pattern: Joy, from Ysolda Teague
Yarn: Rauma Finull (kit from Ysolda’s shop)
Needles: Size 4 and 3 dpns
Time to knit: about 4 days, total

And yes, before anyone asks, these are for me.

Joy mitts
It’s really hard to find ways to pose with mitts that don’t look cheesy

But wait! Aren’t I married to a man? Aren’t I pretty “boring, vanilla”? Maybe even a bit of a “prude”? Well, yes, I am (or have been accused of being) all of those things…and I’m also bi.

Joy mitts!
See? Totally cheesy.

I always felt a bit different, a bit apart from my peers, growing up…I sometimes joke that I feel like an alien anthropologist – I’m deeply interested in human beings, but don’t always find that being a “normal” one comes all that naturally. (Comes with being a bit neurodivergent, I think!) But one area where I always felt especially like an alien has been sexuality. I remember in middle school, when many of my female friends became boy-crazy and my male-friends became girl-crazy, and I just…didn’t get it. At all.

But gradually, I started to get inklings of what they were all on about…but the thing was, when chatter at sleepovers turned to crushes, and my female friends were detailing the male actors, singers, athletes upon whom they were crushing, I could only silently call to mind female actors, singers, athletes. (And, among other things — totally laughing at teenage me as I write this! — for someone who was flat-chested, I spent a suspiciously inordinate amount of time perusing the Victoria’s Secret catalogs that were always arriving at our house.) Ok, young me thought, maybe I’m a lesbian?

Except…there WERE some boys I felt attracted to, among my set of friends. (My “famous person” crushes have always been ladies, not men.) And that’s where I got very confused. Because, not that being a lesbian was super-duper accepted at that time either, but in late-90’s rural MN, “bisexuality” wasn’t really a thing that was talked about in anything other than deeply demeaning ways. The particular flavor of “what it means to be a bisexual” that I was most exposed to was the “bisexuals are so obsessed with sex that they’ll have sex with anyone and everyone, especially in threesomes, and they always cheat on their partners because they’re gross, selfish people” flavor, and while grown-up me knows there’s not anything inherently wrong with being really interested in sex, or with threesomes if that’s what all involved parties want, or with polyamory more generally (I do think cheating is a terrible, disrespectful thing to do, but polyamorous relationships don’t inherently involve cheating) those just…well, not only did those stereotypes, and the tone with which they were delivered, make it clear that bi people were fairly reviled, they also REALLY didn’t fit me.

Joy mitts closeup
These mitts DO fit me, hooray!

Because while I knew I felt attraction to people of both genders (please excuse teenage me for reinforcing the gender binary; I’ve since learned that gender is more complex than this!), it was never, ever the sort of all-consuming obsession that I’d heard friends talk about. It was never even remotely a central part of my experience, period. I believe people when they say sex/sexuality is absolutely central to their sense of self and well-being, that they couldn’t possibly live without it, that it’s a fundamental human need…but I believe it like an alien anthropologist who’s observing humans, not as a feeling I’ve experienced. Could I be a bisexual if I actually wasn’t especially interested in having sex with anyone? What *was* I? Where did someone like me “fit”?

When I learned the term “asexual” my freshman year of college, I felt like I might’ve found my label, but I didn’t quite fit there, either. The “gray-ace” spectrum wasn’t something being talked about in my circles at that time, but that’s where I’d place myself now. The “gray-ace” concept of “demisexuality” (only experiencing attraction to those with whom you already have close emotional connection) in particular describes how I relate to men, at least (as may have been obvious from my earlier mention of never having “famous person” crush-type-feelings about men). I actually considered making the flag on one of the mitts a gray-ace flag, but my desire for matching mitts (and for not having to figure out a new double-knit flag pattern) won out.

Closeup of double-knit intarsia flag
The double-knit intarsia flag cuff is SUCH a neat detail and Ysolda explains it really well in the pattern!

(By the way, I don’t think you have to identify with the gray-ace spectrum in order to not relate whatsoever to the stereotypes people have about bisexuals and needing/wanting to have multiple partners/threesomes…there’s really nothing about bisexuality that is inherently synonymous with polyamory, though obviously there’s going to be some overlap in those sets. Being attracted to multiple genders doesn’t inherently mean that in order to have a happy and fulfilled life, you need to be having sex with people from all of those genders, and certainly not at the exact same time! I mention this because these are misconceptions that even many well-intended people hold about bi folks. Those stereotypes made it that much harder for me to understand myself, and made me feel like I couldn’t exist or fit anywhere as the person I was, and I think they can harmful to many bisexual people, not just me. And obviously negative stereotypes about polyamory are harmful to those who actually are polyamorous, too.)

Dorky pose that gets both mitts in the frame

So here I am, a bi lady who is also a gray-ace lady who is also happily married to a man. I don’t quite fit anywhere. And yet, if I don’t speak up, I fly completely under the radar as a “straight” person, in other people’s eyes. I’ve never been especially “closeted” – I answer honestly when asked about these things, at least in environments where I feel safe, but that ability to “opt in”, so to speak, is itself a privilege. I’ve been thinking a lot about visibility and representation in the last year or so, both because of some thought-provoking sermons at my UU church, and because of recent online discussions in the knitting world. A point that Ysolda made awhile back has stuck with me – we can’t know that we are safe with another person if that person doesn’t signal their values. And no, that’s not as simple as wearing a pin on my purse or mitts on my hands, though yes, there are plenty of places in my country where even my pin or these mitts could make me a target for hate. But I have an incredible amount of privilege as a bi lady who’s married to a guy. I can 100% pass for straight if I want to (I don’t want to). Because I don’t present as particularly queer (in terms of dress, hairstyle, etc.), I don’t have to experience fear, or really think about it at all, when I’m out and about with my husband…I can be invisible, and that can feel safe…for ME. But if I make that choice, to stay safely invisible, what I am doing to contribute to others’ sense of safety? How am I demonstrating solidarity with those who don’t have the privilege I do? How am I standing with my LGBTQ+ family?

Being invisible can also be really uncomfortable when it means you’re never seen for who you really are, and this is something that many, many bi people experience; people make assumptions about our orientation based on whoever we’re partnered with at that moment, so for bi women like me who are married to men, we’re assumed to be straight, our bi-ness erased. It’s not like there’s a particularly subtle way to bring it up on conversation, either, the way I could just mention “my wife” if I were married to a woman (though even that would not say “bi!”; I’d just be assumed to be a lesbian). And I’m sure some folks think, what does it even matter…if you’re a woman (monogamously) married to a man, you may as well be straight, so why do you care if people assume you are? I mean, there are plenty of things I care more about…but the thing is, I’m NOT straight, and I never have been. I’m thinking about what visible, “ordinary”, “boring”, “vanilla” bi people would’ve meant to me as that kid who knew she was different, but couldn’t make sense of where she “fit”, given the cultural messages she was getting about bisexuality and what it meant about the kind of person one could be. If a little pin on my purse, or a pair of mitts, can make me visible to someone who needs to see that they can fit, too…well, that’s why I want to wear them.

Joy mitts, plus my awesome stripey shirt that's rainbow in the back!
Isn’t this the best shirt? It’s rainbow in the back!!

Obviously no one owes their “outness” to the world, and no one owes you any “proof” of their identity, either – I share my story because I feel safe enough to do so, and tend to be an open book anyway, but if someone says that their identity is part of the LGBTQ+ family? Listen to them. Don’t judge them. Don’t challenge them to “prove” it to you (I can only say from direct experience that this happens a lot to bi people, but I suspect it also happens to LGBTQ+ people in general). Don’t test them against your stereotypes and then harass them or dismiss them when they don’t line up the way you think they should. Just believe them and respect them and support them with your words, your actions, and your resources. And if someone feels safest being invisible? That’s their choice. Respect that choice. Respect them. Love them. The more we respect and love and listen to people, the safer they will feel to be their whole selves with us. And we could bring more joy to the world.

Slightly overexposed photo of my new mitts!
Just imagine that the brightness is radiating joy, rather than an overly slow shutter speed!

updates from a chilly early June

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It’s a raglan!

Figured out the raglan instructions

I figured out how to make the sleeve actually come out as a raglan – I think the issue might be that the pattern just says “turn” but really means something like “wrap and turn” (which would use the next stitch; otherwise, unless I’m completely misreading things, you’re always decreasing across the gap and then immediately turning, which is how you make a saddle shoulder, not how you make a raglan). ANYWAY, look at this lovely raglan!

Raglan!

And yes, I am in fact wearing a Lopi sweater in these photos, taken yesterday…we’ve had a strangely chilly June!

Strangely chilly June...

I was a chaperone on a field trip for my daughter’s class, and since I was going to be outside and wearing a backpack, I wanted something warm and hard-wearing, so Skógafjall it was! (The green color was also a selling-point, since my daughter’s class was instructed to wear green!)

Progress on Little Wave

Along with M’s Elle Melle, I’m also making progress on my green Bartlettyarns Little Wave sweater. I’m usually a monogamous knitter, so it’s odd for me to switch back and forth between two sweaters, but the plain stockinette of the Elle Melle is just right for knitting while we watch an episode of Good Omens each evening, whereas the slightly more complicated stitch pattern of the Little Wave is great for knitting while listening to podcasts.

yardage worries...

I find myself a bit concerned about yardage. What I’ve knit so far represents a full skein of the Bartlettyarns (I’m at the center of the waist shaping section). I thought that I had 7 skeins of it, but I can only find 6, which puts me slightly under the yarn requirements listed in the pattern. I think I came in under yardage with my first Little Wave, but that was knit in Cascade 220, which is a very different yarn in terms of spin/structure, and I’m just not sure whether I can expect the same from this yarn. My tentative plan is to forgo the folded-back cuffs on the sleeves; I’ll still knit a deep ribbed cuff, but I won’t knit the extra sleeve length so that it can be folded back. I do like the look of the folded-back cuffs, but I actually find them REALLY annoying to wear under a coat or jacket, because taking the jacket off often unfolds the cuffs and that gets old. So it’s a change both for yarn-saving and for less annoyance, I guess…we’ll see if I can make it look good. I’ve still got a ways to go before I’m ready for sleeves, anyhow!

Progress on Elle Melle (the third)

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I ended up bringing Elle Melle with me on our trip to Ohio, which ended up being an entire day longer than it was supposed to be due to car problems, which meant having an entire extra day of needing to be quiet (because my brother-in-law works 3rd shift and sleeps during the day) before the day of driving home…which meant a lot of knitting time! And so, as of yesterday, the body of Elle Melle is complete!

Elle Melle sweater body is finished!

M helped “model” the sweater-in-progress yesterday…this kid is such a ham!

Hamming it up with her sweater-in-progress

While I was knitting it, it seemed like it was coming out really big…like, almost the size of the Elle Melle I made for myself. But seeing it held up against M, it’s really more that my 7.5 year old kid is getting shockingly close to my own size, because the sweater itself looks like it’s going to come out loose but not ridiculously so in terms of the fit.

sweater-in-progress

That messy messy hairdo is my attempt to recreate the braided hairstyle that one of her aftercare teachers gave her last week – I’m not adept at french braiding, especially with short, VERY slippery hair like my daughter has! Maybe I’ll get better with practice. She does look really cute with her hair half-up, no?

sweater-in-progress

I started the first sleeve yesterday, and ran into the same problem that I have run into both of the other times I’ve knit Elle Melle, which is that, given the way that I understand the pattern directions for the raglan sleeve, I end up creating a saddle shoulder (with the sleeve coming out a consistent width, instead of increasing) instead of a raglan. I’m sure I’m misunderstanding the directions somehow…I’m going to see if I can reconstruct what I’ve done to resolve this issue in the past by looking at my own Elle Melle today (which I’m actually wearing, because it’s a strangely chilly early June!)

Elle-Melle in progress, modeled by my goofy kiddo!

Hopefully I can figure it out! M has grown a lot in the last year, so many of her sweaters are due for a reknit in a larger size…this Elle Melle is the first one, and then I’ll be remaking her Stripes! sweater. Still hoping to find the beginnings of the Winter Traveler that I started for her last year, too. I’d love to make her a new version of the sweater that inspired my recent sweater, too, if I can find a good pair of yarns to use (I don’t think I have any in my stash in colors she likes, alas).

I love being able to make M newer, larger versions of the sweaters she loves…though it gets more and more challenging as she gets bigger, and knitting sweaters for her becomes almost as time-consuming as knitting them for myself!

Vita de Vie is finished and I love it!

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Vita de Vie is finished and I love it!

I’m really thrilled with how it turned out – the way the Beaverslide yarn softens and relaxes and blooms, following a wet blocking, is just magical. And the sweater itself is light as a feather!

Ravelry Project Page
Project Details:
Pattern: Vita de Vie, from Pompom Spring 2018
Yarn: Beaverslide Two-Ply Sport/Sock weight in “Lemongrass”, 2.5 skeins
Needles: Size 5 and Size 6 circulars
Time to Knit: a little over a month!

Shoulder detail

I’m really delighted with the fit, and I love the way the lace looks over the shoulders. I would never have thought to design a sweater with this kind of construction (and I can’t say that I really enjoyed all of the finishing work this required) but the result is pretty fantastic!

Vita de Vie is finished and I love it!

I’m really delighted with how light and flowy it came out, too. In the past, all of my sweaters have been worsted or aran weight, but in the last year or so, I’ve knit several sweaters in sport weight, and I quite like them, especially in the Spring when it’s definitely still sweater weather here, but not necessarily aran-weight sweater weather.

Vita de Vie, all finished up.

I wish I could take slightly more interesting finished sweater photos with my camera, but I’m limited in terms of what I can do with a 12-second self-timer! My old camera remotes don’t work with my current camera (an Olympus PEN E-PL2) and I’m not sure what sort of remote WILL work with it, but if anyone has advice, I’m all ears!

Shoulder close-up

Isn’t that lace over the shoulder so pretty?

Neckline closeup

And I’ve come around to liking that soft V-neck! Very very happy with my new sweater – just in time for the weather to become decidedly NOT sweater-friendly!

a summer of green sweaters?

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Look what’s blocking!

it's blocking!

It’s Vita de Vie! I was a little surprised that it turned out to have a v-neck – the pattern photos don’t look that way, but there’s no way that the instructions, as written, wouldn’t yield a soft-V. My Instagram friends convinced me that the V is nice because it echoes the Vs in the lace, so I think I’m going to stick with it, but if I hadn’t been trying to follow the pattern pretty closely (because it’s such a new construction method!) I probably would’ve aimed for a rounder neckline.

i-cord bindoff.

I ended up doing an i-cord bindoff, instead of the plain one called for the in the pattern, because I thought it would look a bit neater. I’ll do a full FO post about the sweater once it’s dry and I can take some modeled photos with it.

Hazards of blocking outdoors

I wish I could transmit texture via the Internet – there just aren’t words to capture how delightful the Beaverslide Sport/Sock yarn feels after blocking. It’s just the best.

While I was finishing up Vita de Vie, I cast on for what I’m hoping will be my next sweater: a Little Wave cardigan in Bartlettyarns Worsted in “Bracken”, which has been hanging out in my stash for a good decade, I think.

The next sweater...

I’m not 100% sure about the pattern-yarn combination here, though – I love Bartlettyarns, but so far, the pattern itself is coming out kind of muddy. But I’ve only done two rows of it, so I think I’m going to knit a full repeat before deciding whether the stitch definition is what I want. If I don’t turn this into a Little Wave, I might use a simpler stitch pattern like garter rib. Maybe a Farmhouse Cardigan.

Gonna be the summer of green sweaters, I think!

I laughed when I was taking pictures and thinking about my summer knitting plans, because I think this very well could be a summer in which I knit nothing but green sweaters. Because after this one, I’m hoping to knit Tric, which a Ravelry friend very kindly gifted me (with hopes that I’ll blog about everything I learn from the pattern!) and the yarn I’d use for that? It’ll be bright green Cascade 220 Superwash (which was going to be a blanket for M, but never did become that). And then I was thinking that the leftover light green from Vita de Vie would work ever so nicely with the dark juniper green Beaverslide Sport/Sock that I have in a Rusty Tuku…which also has a very interesting construction! So I suppose it’s both the Summer of Green Sweaters and the Summer of Trying New Sweater Construction Methods, and that’s fine by me! I do have a LOT of green yarn in my stash – green is one of my favorite colors (I have green eyes, too) and found its way into my stash quite often throughout the years, but somehow I keep never getting around to using it. So that’s my plan for the summer: GREEN!

so much grafting, so much seaming!

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I made great progress on the knitting of Vita de Vie in the last week, which meant that it was time for grafting the two halves of the sweater together, straight up the center of the front and the center of the back.

Pretty pleased with my grafting!

I actually kind of enjoy grafting, but I’ve never grafted such long stretches of stitches before, and never in such a prominent location (the center front??!). This took a LOT of fussing around with each grafted stitch to ensure that the tension was just right…

The Vita de Vie pattern requires grafting two sweater-halves together up the front and back. I do like grafting, but gosh, getting the tension even so there’s no visible line is TEDIOUS!

…which led to eye strain, so I had to take quite a few breaks. But I think I did a pretty darned good job of it in the end.

Then, it was time for some incredibly long seams – up the sleeves and down the sides, on each half of the sweater. I managed to get ONE of those sleeves seamed last night, but oh my goodness, seaming is definitely not one of my favorite things to do.

so much seaming!

My curiosity about the manner in which this sweater is constructed has been fully sated at this point, and I’m ready to return to my beloved seamless knits! But I still have three seams to finish, and then a long ribbed hem, and some kind of neckline finish (I’m leaning towards using an i-cord rather than picking up and then immediately binding off the way the pattern calls for).

But I need to decide soon what my next project will be, because we’re heading to Ohio next weekend to spend Memorial Day with my husband’s family, and that means I need a sweater project to bring with me for all that time in the car, etc. I do have the Elle Melle that I started for M, but since that yarn is on cones, it’s kind of awkward to carry around with me. I’m tempted to start a new sweater for me, but which one? I have quite a queue of possible sweaters from yarns in my stash and I don’t know where to start!