I went to a conference and came home with a cowl


Well, I didn’t get much work-work done while I was away at my conference, but I did do a lot of knitting. (Turns out that I get motion sick enough on planes that I can’t read papers, and get brain-fried enough from 3 straight days filled with workshops and presentations and meeting awesome people that knitting is about ALL I could manage!)

So here, I present: My CCCC 2018 Cowl!

Finished Willow Cowl #3

Ravelry Project Page
Pattern: Willow Cowl
Yarn: Mystery deep blue sock yarn – it came in a GMDS package awhile back, that much I know, but I lost the label so I don’t know anything more about it!
Needles: Size 5 rosewood circulars (these have become my “Willow Cowl Needles”)
Time to knit: 5 days!

I cast on while on the flight to the conference, and then ended up knitting during several sessions (stopping to take notes when I wanted/needed to, but I tend to be an “absorb with my ears and then process later” sort of person for the most part):

Knitting during a panel presentation.

I made a new knitting friend – one of my fellow presenters for the workshop I was part of is also a knitter so we became Ravelry buddies during the conference!

Showing off the construction

I just adore how this cowl looks, and I find it so fascinating the way the long tube folds on itself with those eyelet mesh bands.

From above

I stepped out on our deck to take Real Camera pictures of the cowl today – we have a deck! It’s so lovely! I’m still getting used to New House, but it’s a really great house…we just have to get Old House sold now, and keep unpacking. It’s no fun at all to be in the middle of a move while also in the middle of a very busy semester, but hopefully I can keep on hanging on and not deprive my students TOO much.

Snuggled up

I hope all of my fellow Northern folks are staying warm while we wait for Spring to actually arrive! Have a lovely Equinox this week, everyone!


Octopus Yoke goes to Knitting Guild, and I start a new sweater


I’m about to head out to Kansas City for the 2018 CCCC Convention, presenting in one of the Wednesday afternoon workshops (AW.12, if anyone reading this is also headed to 4C’s!) and this year the weather isn’t going to thwart me! (Oh hey, I should actually weave in the ends and sew a zipper on that sweater I was wearing in that post last year!). Last night, as our last mama-daughter activity before I’m away for 5 days, M came with me to Knitting Guild so that she could Show & Tell her Octopus Yoke sweater.

She came to Knitting Guild with me tonight to do Show&Tell with her sweater. I can’t find her in-progress scarf (MOVING SUCKS, Y’ALL!), so I hastily cast on a new one on the only empty circulars I could find using yarn that was in a desk drawer. She’s onl

Because everything is still a crazy mess due to the move, I couldn’t find her knitting bag (of course, I found it first thing after we got home!), so I hastily cast on a new project for her using a lighter color green of the same yarn (which I found in a desk drawer) and the only set of unoccupied needles I could find, which were circulars. She’d never knit on circulars before, only straights, but she took to it like a champ, and knit 6 full rows of garter stitch!

She didn’t even want to stop knitting while we waited in line for Show&Tell, so I held her yarn for her!

She was so into her knitting that she didn’t even want to stop when it was time to stand in line for Show & Tell, so I held her yarn for her so she could knit standing up. She’s such a little pro!

Knitting together at Guild. She knit 6 rows of garter stitch and is getting quite good!

It was really nice to get to spend a little bit of time knitting together with M and my friends before I head out of town for a few days. That project I’m working on is my new sweater, by the way…a Winter Traveller in brown and hot pink Cascade Eco Wool. When I finished M’s sweater, I wanted to cast on for something new for me, and I decided I would knit the sweater in my queue whose yarn I could find first, and my Eco Wool bin was the first bin I found, so here we go! It’s my first intarsia project since I first started knitting, and I had to rip and reknit a couple of times when I started the “intarsia in the round” section because it looked like a hot mess, but I’ve got it working now and I’m so excited about it!

Progress on Winter Traveler. I’m loving the hot pink + brown combo!

It’s actually quite a bit further along now than in this picture (I’ve got the sleeve stitches on waste yarn and am knitting down the body now), but you can get a good sense of how the pink and brown work together from this shot. I’m loving it so much!

The pink of the intarsia snowflake matches the pink of my cowl. I’m consistent - it’s pretty much the only “pink” color I like!

I got a kick out of the fact that the pink of the Nordic Star perfectly matched the pink cowl I was wearing one day when I was knitting it…I’m consistent! It’s pretty much the only pink I’ll wear, but I wear it quite a lot these days.

So many ends! Intarsia is crazy but this sweater is gonna be awesome.

Intarsia means having SO MANY bits of working yarn, but I’m trying to just roll with it instead of letting it drive me crazy. I’m not bringing this project with me to Kansas City, alas – just too big and bulky to be a good travel knit, so I’ve got yarn and needles packed to make another Willow Cowl if I get any time for knitting while I’m away. (I may not – I have an absolutely ridiculous amount of feedback to be giving on student work while I’m away!)

things I make for Maddy: Octopus Yoke!


Hi! I’m back from the other side of our move with a finished project!

Octopus Yoke closeup!

Not finished by the end of January like I planned (moving is hard, it turns out!) but at least while it’s still chilly enough for a sweater to be useful. And it’s a good thing, because due to a combination of tighter-than-swatch gauge (hi, moving stress!) and bigger-than-measured kiddo (hi, growth spurt!) the sweater is a bit on the snug side. But it fits for now, and it looks adorable on her.

Project Details:
Ravelry Project Page
Pattern: From my brain!
Yarn: Cascade 220 from stash
Needles: Size 7
Time to knit: About 2 months, total (and there was a move in the middle of that!)

Octopus Yoke, full length

This kiddo has a LONG torso! (Just like her daddy.) I swear, the body of her sweater is only about an inch shorter than I knit for my own sweaters. She is going to tower over me by the time she’s 10, I think!

Octopus Yoke, over the shoulder

I love the way the contrast tips of the ribbing turned out – that detail was a request that M made, and she’s got good design sense!

Octopus Yoke, back view

Here it is from the back. Trying to get those mirrored octopuses was a bit of a brain-twister, design-wise, and I had to add those “bubbles” because the float situation was just too crazy otherwise. I think that the top two tentacles could be a little more distinct – they kind of blur together when they get close to the mantle in a weird way. Ah well, it looks pretty darned good, and M is delighted with it, so we’ll call it a win!

I’ll close with this shot of my little model! Isn’t she lovely?

Octopus Yoke with M as model


newest sweater-in-progress: octopus yoke!


My newest project on the needles is another design collaboration with M. After I finished my Skógafjall, with its lovely tree-adorned yoke, she requested a yoked sweater with HER favorite thing on the yoke: Octopuses! Well, mama loves a good design challenge, so it’s happening:

I cast on for M’s Octopus sweater yesterday!

I used Google Sheets to chart out a respectably realistic-looking octopus, and I went stash-diving with M to find the yarn. She was surprisingly cooperative about using only yarn that I already had, but I think it helped that I had a pair of great shades of purple (her second favorite color, after red) Cascade 220 in the right amounts:

Future Octopus sweater for M. So glad she’s on board with the “only knitting from stash” plan, and lucky that I had such a perfect combo of purples in my stash!

I used the lighter color to create a contrast tubular cast-on at the bottom hem as well as the sleeve cuffs – I just love the way this looks!

I used the contrast color for the tubular cast on and I just love the way it looks!

I’ve actually already finished the body and one of the sleeves, so who knows, maybe I’ll be able to start the yoke sometime this week! I suspect there will be a bit of trial and error when it comes to getting everything to fit correctly in the yoke (both fitting it to M’s shoulders AND fitting the octopuses in a way that looks nice) but I think I’ll have this sweater finished before the end of January!


Goodbye, 2017. Hello, 2018!

Hi! I realized I never took pictures of the matching sweater and mittens, and, well...problem solved! Merry Christmas, friends!
Goodbye, 2017! Hello, 2018!

2017 was…well, calling it a “rough time on just about every front” might actually be putting it lightly, but nevertheless, we persisted, and now it’s 2018. I typically don’t make much of New Year celebrations, because as an academic, my “New Year” is really the start of Fall Semester, but this year, it actually feels quite apt to celebrate a change. In 2018, we’ll have a new house, M will be going to a new school, and (hopefully!) Andrew will have a new job. So many big transitions!

I don’t really do New Years Resolutions, but I do want to be very mindful about how I approach these big transitions, and aim to “start as I mean to go on” with them. So in our new house, that means being very consistent, from the beginning, about cleaning and tidying, so that things never get so bad that it’s hard to do. That’s something a fresh start will make possible, and I want to take that for all it’s worth!

A fresh start on the school front may also be good, in the end, for M. We love her old school more than I can even say; they’re like family to us! But we don’t know in what ways M might blossom when put in a new environment where people haven’t known her for her entire life. That might be an amazing opening for her, and I want us to be open to it. I’m nervous about finding our way as part of a MUCH bigger school community, and worried about losing touch with our friends from her old school…change is hard, but I think it can also be an opportunity for growth, and that’s what I want to focus on.

Knitting-wise, I’m still committed to not increasing my stash (I dropped the ball on that front a couple of times last year, but not a lot!). I’ll make exceptions for sweaters for M, if there’s something she wants and I don’t have the yarn to make it, but she’s actually been quite cooperative on that front – there’s a new sweater for her on my needles right now, which I’ll post about later, and she happily went “stash-shopping” with me for the yarn to make it. I’ve got the yarn to make quite a few sweaters for myself from other people’s patterns, as well as yarn to make a few designs that I’ve had in my head for awhile. And I may *actually* get moving on publishing some of my backlog of designs – I’ve been wavering on whether to just self-publish them individually or as a collection, or whether to try to submit them somewhere or ask for yarn support from a place like Brooklyn Tweed (so many of my designs would be great in their yarns!)…I’m still so undecided about what to do! This is the part of the design process that I am just utterly useless at. Ideas, I’m good at, but self-promotion/marketing/etc…nope.

Semi-matching rainbow stripey goodness!

I hope 2018 is kinder to all of you, dear readers, and I wish you all the feistiness, courage, and compassion that we need to be each others’ lights in 2018, and to try to make change for the better.




Finished just in time for the end of 2017!


Ravelry Project Page
Pattern: Skógafjall, by Dianna Walla
Yarn: Lettlopi, in the colors the pattern called for
Needles: Size 6 for ribbing, size 7 for everything else
Time to Knit: I started it ~6 months ago, but I knit like, half of it while home by myself over Christmas!

I’m SO delighted with how my Skógafjall sweater turned out! I deviated only slightly from the pattern – I followed the directions for the 39″ size, but my gauge was just a bit tighter (I prefer knitting Lettlopi on size 6 or 7 needles rather than 8s), so it turned out more like a 36.5″ sweater, which is perfect for me. And I modified the neckline, knitting the ribbing twice as long so that I could fold it over and stitch it down for a doubled collar, and I *LOVE* it!

Doubled ribbed neckline

I am just madly in love with the tree pattern in the yoke…I love trees!


It’s pretty unusual for me to so closely follow a pattern, even using the recommended yarn in the recommended colors – I actually can’t think of any other time I’ve done that! And while I’m incredibly happy with the finished result, it does feel slightly less…”mine”…than other sweaters I’ve knit. I was reading Dan Ariely’s “The Upside of Irrational” while home by myself over Christmas, and one of the things he was writing about was what he called the “IKEA-effect”, by which he means the way that we overvalue the things that we make ourselves. And I think for me, what makes a sweater feel “mine” in the sense that I take pride in it, and don’t feel awkward when someone compliments me on it (and maybe “overvalue it” in the way that Ariely talks about), is that I designed it myself, or did something especially unexpected with a design that someone else created. I think I don’t take any special pride in the knitting itself (which is probably silly of me – it is, in fact, a skill!) but in the aspects that (to my mind) are more “creative”: designing, and to a lesser extent, modifying or choosing a color palette. I suppose I do value my own handknit sweaters, even one like this one where I pretty much exactly followed the pattern, over sweaters that aren’t made by me – I wouldn’t want to buy a sweater like Skógafjall, I’d want to knit it myself. But there’s something extra-special about the ones I design myself, and perhaps that’s as it should be.


I’m gonna wear the heck out of this one, though! My last finished knit of 2017. Here’s to many more in 2018!


Double-knit earflaps!


So, nearly 8 years ago, I knit a hat for my dad. He wore it in ski races, and got lots of compliments, and then it went missing one winter, only to be found in a snowbank. Once it had dried, it was clear that the winter in the snowbank had caused it to shrink a bit, and it no longer covered my dad’s ears. But picking up and knitting down from the brim would have been complicated – there’s a cotton-based lining at the bottom hem, and I didn’t have (or at least, couldn’t find) the leftover yarn from the hat kit, anyway.

The solution we came up with? I would learn how to double-knit, and add earflaps to the hat. Maddy helped us find color-matching yarn at Yarnology when we were visiting my parents this summer (she has an amazingly good eye for color!); it’s Spud & Chloe Sweater, so a bit thicker than the sport weight yarn with which the rest of the hat was knit, but extra warm earflaps are definitely not a problem!

Our plan worked!

Yay, finished earflaps! (Also, it was raining ice pellets while I took these pictures, and I can attest that this hat provides great protection from gross weather!)

I’ve never done double-knitting before, and it definitely hurt my brain at first to keep track of both sides at the same time, but I got better and better at it as I went, and I ended up being pretty tickled with the little chart I’d created for those flaps.

I finished the earflaps for my dad’s hat (which shrunk after a winter I’m a snowbank, hence the need for better ear-coverage). My first time double-knitting!

I added braids to the end of each ear flap (to match the braids at the top of the hat) so that it can be tied under the chin. Perfect for keeping cold air out during a ski race! It was raining ice pellets while I took these pictures, and I can attest that the hat, with its new earflaps, is good at keeping out yucky weather.

I’d intended for the improved hat to be a Christmas present for my dad, but, well, life got in the way, and while it IS in fact done before Christmas, it won’t be going into the mail until next week. It can be a New Years present, instead. Happy Holidays, dad!