Willow Cowl Silliness!


It turned out to be a very good thing that I brought an extra skein of yarn with me on our epic trip to Wisconsin to visit family, because by partway through the trip, I’d already finished one Willow Cowl, and still had 2 days of being a passenger in my parents’ car ahead of me…what would I ever do without knitting to keep my hands busy in the car? So now, my total Willow Cowl count is FIVE!

So many Willow Cowls!

The first of the new cowls, knit with Madelinetosh Merino Light in “Hosta Blue” was finished while watching my daughter and nieces play outside in the kiddie pool:

I finished it! An 88-degree day isn’t really the best for modeling a wool cowl but whatever!

I also acquired over 50 mosquito bites that afternoon – I have a delayed (usually by about 18 hours) but fairly extreme reaction to them, so while I knew I’d been bit a few times, the full extent only became clear over the course of the following morning. It was decidedly NOT fun! But that’s Wisconsin in the summer for you – so many bugs!

Knitting in the car on our way to Winona.

I cast on for the next cowl, using Madelinetosh Twist Light in “Coquette Deux”, that evening, and M and I even got to do a bit of knitting in the car together when we drove down to my old hometown of Winona, MN, and stopped in at Yarnology, where I got to see one of my dearest high school friends (love you, Ingrid!) for the first time since my wedding in 2005!

I knit most of the rest of the cowl on the 2 day drive back home, and finished it while hanging out on our deck in the evening with my parents (who were seeing our new house for the first time!).

Another finished Willow Cowl! (I cast on for this on Monday, and had two full days of being a passenger in a car on the way to ROC to knit!)

So now I have 5 Willow Cowls. I’ve actually knit six, but my first one got lost somewhere. But 5 is enough to wear a different one each day of the work week! I actually wear one basically every day from October-April or so; they’ve become part of my cold-weather “uniform” and I’m very happy to have so many colors now, all of them such “me” colors:

These are all such “me”colors

This is how I store them when I’m not wearing them. Don’t they look so lovely all stacked up?

This is how I store them when I’m not wearing them

Will I knit more Willows? Perhaps! Though it might seem crazy to have so many, they’re such a useful part of my wardrobe for 6 months of the year, and they’re such a great project for mostly-mindless travel knitting! I could see getting good use out of one in a warm brown color, or perhaps a deep pine green…we’ll see!

Willow Sillies!

Bring on more Willows! But I think I’ve reached the limit on how many I can wear at the same time!

All at once!




Well, I thought I’d have finished one of the fronts of my Perfin cardigan before we leave to visit my family, but alas, as I was doing the armhole shaping section, I realized that I had too many stitches in the “button band” portion, and not enough in the “body” portion:

Wrong stitch counts. Should've noticed sooner!

I briefly considered trying to drop stitches from that middle section, and reknit just that part, but that was going to be quite complicated, and I wasn’t actually all that happy with how my buttonholes had turned out, anyway, so that made deciding to rip pretty easy.

Rip rip rip.

At least I enjoy knitting the garter rib + garter double-eyelet stitch pattern, so it’s not TOO heartbreaking to have to knit it all over again.

Turning (part of) a sweater back into yarn.

And in truth, the ability to rip and reknit is something I’ve always loved about knitting. When I sew, I’m always quite intimidated, and I worry a lot that I’ll cut the fabric wrong and there’s really no going back once you do that. But if I knit a stitch pattern wrong? Worst case, I rip it out. The failure mode of knitting is just yarn, and I like yarn, and I enjoy turning yarn (back into) knitting, so it’s really not the end of the world.

Today is the Summer Solstice, and that’s always a bit of a weird one to celebrate for me, because it means that the days are getting darker from here on out. This year in particular, that feels metaphorically apt. But we can be lights for each other in the dark days. I wish everyone a peaceful summer of making and fighting for a better world.

finished back!


I finished the back of my Perfin cardigan this morning! It took quite a bit of concentration (and ripping and reknitting) to follow the directions for the box pleat and shoulder shaping; I’m really not used to magazine pattern-writing style, and it strikes me that in order to understand what a pattern is telling you to do, you almost have to think like the designer, and since I’m not a person who ever designs patterns for things knit in pieces, I already kind of fundamentally think in a different way. But of course that’s how it is – knitting patterns are just another form of communication, and this issue of “how do *I* describe something in a way that *you* will understand, and how do *you* understand what *I* meant?” is the fundamental challenge of communication. (And also something I wrote a dissertation about, ha!)

Anyway, how about I stop nerding out and just show a picture of that box pleat?

Box pleat!<

I’m really enjoying the texture of the stitch pattern, and I’m loving the color of this old stash yarn so much (thanks, 24 year old me!) – it’s got a little bit more of a greenish tint to it than fully shows up in the photos, and it’s definitely a very “me” color.

Perfin texture

We’re only a little over a week away from heading up to Wisconsin to visit my family, and I’m pretty sure I won’t be bringing any sweaters-in-progress on that trip just for practical packing reasons, so we’ll see how much more of this sweater I can knit before then! I plan to cast on for one of the fronts this afternoon.

Accidental self-timer shot

I’m really not used to knitting a sweater in pieces, and it feels really weird to just have a back of a sweater. I’m slightly dreading the process of seaming everything together, but even if it’s not something I’ll do very often, it’s a useful skill to practice, so bring it on!

and for my next sweater…


I mentioned in a previous post that one of my goals for the foreseeable future was to turn as much of my stash as I could into sweaters. Here in Western NY, the climate is such that for at least half of the year (from October through April), it’s sweater-weather, at least for someone like me who is bad at thermoregulation. And even though I’ve already got a decent number of handknit sweaters, by late April, I’m getting really tired of the ones I have in rotation. I also have an absolutely ridiculous stash, some of which even pre-dates moving to NY. So making more sweaters from what I’ve got makes a lot of sense.

My next sweater: Perfin (from pompom mag)

When I saw the Perfin pattern in pompom magazine‘s Instagram feed, I was smitten; I really like this sort of “professor”-style cardigan (maybe because I *am* a professor?). And then I saw Vita de Vie, and I decided I’d buy a copy of the magazine (the first knitting magazine I’ve purchased in AGES!) because both looked like sweaters I’d like to wear. I’ve had a sweater’s worth of Knitpicks Telemark in “Tidepool Heather” in my stash for over a decade now, and though it was listed as a “sport” weight, it’s really more of a DK or even light worsted, so I thought it’d be perfect for Perfin (which calls for DK). And for Vita de Vie, I thought my beloved Beaverslide 2-ply Sport/Sock yarn would be perfect. I have 3 skeins in “Prairie Sandreed” in my stash that I think would be lovely in that pattern, but a couple of years ago, one of my cats got to one of them and “loved” it into a tangled, partially-felted mess. I spent a good chunk of yesterday detangling it and winding the parts of it that I could into balls, and in combination with the intact skeins, I think I will have enough for Vita de Vie, too! But back to Perfin, for now:


I haven’t followed a magazine pattern in over a decade at this point, and I’ve almost never successfully finished a sweater that is knit in pieces (I think that honor goes to Demi, which I never wear, because as lovely as it is, it just doesn’t suit me), so this is going to be an adventure! I got tripped up by my lack of practice reading magazine-style pattern instructions (they’re…terse) and had to rip out my first attempt, but once I figured out what the pattern was asking me to do, it’s been smooth sailing! The stitch pattern is actually quite simple to memorize, so I can fly now!

Back to where I was on Perfin before I ripped it out because I was doing the decreases wrong.

I’m very curious how warm this sweater will actually be, given that it is mostly holes. But I like the look of the “mesh” (it reminds me of my Thalia shawl), and it IS wool, so I’m sure I’ll be able to wear it at least some of our colder months.

In a couple of weeks, we’ll be heading up to Wisconsin to visit my family, and I’m not sure what projects to bring with me – as much as I’d love to work on a sweater while I’m on vacation, I’m not sure that’s compatible with packing light, so my tentative plan is to knit as much as I can on sweaters until then, not touch my current Willow Cowl, and then work on Willow Cowls (since I have at least one other skein I’d like to turn into one) while I’m traveling. But we’ll see!



Gamaldags is all done! And it’s chilly enough today that I actually WANT to be wearing it!


Ravelry Project Page
Pattern: Gamaldags by Hélène Magnússon
Yarn: Lettlopi in Ash Grey, Spring Green Heather, Glacier Blue Heather, and custom-dyed hot pink, red, and yellow yarns from The Icelandic Knitter
Needles: Size 7 for the stockinette portions, and size 6 for the ribbing.
Time to knit: Just over 1 month


I am really happy with how it turned out. I experimented with a new-to-me button band finish this time; for the band with buttonholes, I used Kate Davies style i-cord button holes, which matched nicely with the i-cord bind-off I’d done on the button band. I really like the look of 1×1 rib bound off with a 2 stitch i-cord, and I’m really happy with how neat the buttonholes look, too!


The other thing I love is the 1×1 rib folded neckband, which is something I’ve added to a few other sweaters because I just love it so much – it looks great, but it’s also so very comfortable for me to wear! I really enjoy the little bit of added weight (hey, my kid didn’t get her Sensory Processing Disorder and need for deep pressure from nowhere!), and it feels sturdy without reducing the stretch.

1x1 rib neckline plus added shortrows

In that picture, you can also see where I added a set of short rows in the yellow + green stripe section just below the neckband. I *really* hate necklines that sag in the back (and remain eternally confused by tops and dresses with v-backs or scoop-backs…like, the thought of wearing a top like that literally sends shivers down my spine!) so I’ve learned that I sometimes need to stick in an extra set of short rows just below the neckband to counteract that.

Yay, Gamaldags!

I think this is a sweater that will get worn quite a bit in the colder month. The light grey combined with the bright colors fits into my wardrobe really well; the light blue, light green, and hot pink in particular are colors I wear frequently, and this sweater matches ALL of those. Hooray!



Presenting Willow Cowl, the fourth:

Willow Cowl the 4th

Ravelry Project Page
Pattern: Willow Cowl
Yarn: Tosh Merino Light, in “Grasshopper”
Time to knit: 6 days (most was knit while traveling to and from Ohio for Memorial Day weekend)

Y’all, I’m kind of obsessed with knitting Willow Cowls now. They’re such a perfect mindless, portable project, and they’ve become a staple of my cold weather “uniform”. And with chilly/cold weather here lasting over half of the year, it’ll be good to have quite a few in rotation, for color variety and just to save wear and tear. So when I was packing for our trip to Ohio, I threw in another skein of Tosh Merino Light (in “Hosta Blue” – I had originally been planning to use these in a striped shawl, but realized I get a heck of a lot more wear out of Willow Cowls than I do from shawls). You know, “just in case”.

Finished the Willow Cowl a couple hours into our drive home! Good thing I brought an extra ball of yarn to cast on for another one :)

Turned out to be a good plan, because I finished my green cowl about 2 hours into the 6.5 hour drive home!

Wearing one, knitting one.

I think I’ll get a lot of wear from BOTH of these colors! I also have a skein of Madelinetosh Twist Light in “Coquette Deux”, which is a lovely deep pink, and I think that will also become a Willow Cowl at some point this summer. At that point, I’ll have a cowl for each day of the work week, but I could still see knitting one in a deep warm brown (I’d have to find/buy yarn for that, though, so that won’t happen for quite awhile) and perhaps a deep foresty green (again, would have to find/buy yarn for that), because that would really flesh out the full suite of colors that I really like to wear.

But I want to make progress on knitting down the sweater yarn this summer, so when I’m not traveling, I hope to focus my attention on those less-portable projects. I’ve been doing some planning over in my Ravelry Queue, and realized that I could knit over 10 sweaters with yarn in my stash (and that’s not even counting sweaters of my own design that I have yarn to make). Goodness gracious, do I have a ridiculous stash or what? So anyway, that’s the plan for the summer. I obviously won’t knit all 10 of them this summer, and who knows, maybe some of my plans will change, but those all seem like they’d be great in my wardrobe, and with the neverending winter we had this year, I’m really excited about the idea of having a lot more sweaters in the rotation.

I hope you all have a great summer!

Willow Cowl IV

Gamaldags progress, and a new project


I’m nearing the end on Gamaldags, and being me, I couldn’t help but make some small tweaks to the pattern.

Gamaldags folded neckline adaptation

I decided to add an extra short row in the green and yellow stripe section, because I really, really don’t like it when the back of my sweater droops, or when the front of my sweater doesn’t scoop quite enough. And instead of the 2×2 rib called for in the pattern, I knit a 1×1 folded neckband, because I just love them ever so much.

1x1 rib button band

I also did the button band in 1×1 rib rather than 2×2, and I finished it with a 2-stitch i-cord bind off (this is the same approach I took to the button bands on M’s Peg cardigan).

Gamaldags Progress

I still need to pick up the stitches on the other side, the one that will have the button holes in it, but other than that (and a lot of end-weaving, and blocking, and of course, STEEKING!), I’m almost done!

Which means it’s time for a new project. I have a huge list of sweaters in my “to knit” pile (including the Winter Traveller for M that I’ve already cast on for), but we’re about to hit the road to visit my in-laws for Memorial Day, which means that I need a more travel-friendly project. Because I’m apparently very predictable, I cast on for Yet Another Willow Cowl:

Yet Another Willow Cowl - the beginning.

The yarn is some MadTosh Merino Light from my stash, because I’m now in a very committed “knit down the stash” phase. Moving put me face-to-face with the absurd amount of yarn that I already have, and paying two mortgages (not for much longer – we’re almost to closing on Old House!) has blown up our budget, so…no new yarns for me, for quite a while. The only, and I mean ONLY, exception that I’ll make is that if buying a tiny amount of yarn will enable me to make a project that will use a LOT of the yarn I already have, then that’s a net reduction and I’ll do it…but I also want to see how creative I can be in terms of finding or designing patterns to use what I’ve got.

This has me thinking a lot about my identity as a knitter and a designer. I’ve been going back and forth on whether to submit anything to the latest call for designs for Wool People. For those who haven’t been reading this blog for very long, I had a design in the very first Wool People, which ended up also being the last pattern I published, because it turned out for me that motherhood, finishing a Ph.D., and then starting a new faculty position just didn’t leave any time or energy for being a designer.

I’m still spread pretty thin, and am not at all sure I can really manage adding another gig to my life. Along with the mountain of projects I can and want to make from the yarn I already have, that makes me lean towards not bothering to submit. But I do have design ideas (some that I’ve already knit variants of in other yarns) that I think would fit well given the mood boards that were sent out and that would look great in BT yarns, which makes me want to put together a submission. I don’t have a ton of time to decide, in any case, because the submissions are due in just over a week.

I also still have a collection of “parent-child” knits bubbling in my brain (and in fact, have already knit versions of many of these, too), and still don’t know what to do with them, either. The creative designer part of my brain is still there. But I’m just not sure how getting back into designing would fit alongside trying to knit from stash; most people aren’t going to be eager to buy a pattern for something knit with discontinued yarn, you know?

Will getting creative with knitting down my stash be enough to satisfy my creative mind? I don’t know.