A sparkly green vest for M!

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I finished M’s vest yesterday, and she loves it!

Sparkly green vest!

Pattern: from my brain
Yarn: Rowan Soft Lux from over a decade ago in “Gigli”
Needles: Size 7
Time to knit: 9 days :)

The weather right now is brutally hot, but M gamely suited up in a long-sleeved shirt to model her new sparkly green vest outside!

Sparkly Green Vest!

The design is basically the same as the red vest I made for M a few years ago, and the same as the sweater (whose sleeves I still need to reknit) that I made for myself last month. It might become a pattern someday, with a few more tweaks – for example, I think the top of the pocket looks a bit too narrow on this, and would like to try creating a twist or something to tighten up the spot where the split neck comes together. But in any case, she loves it, and especially loves the pocket!

Kangaroo Pocket
Kangaroo Pocket!!

As might be obvious from the photos, we finally got our hair cut yesterday for the first time since February. We’re both much happier not having hair on our necks with the temperatures in the upper 90s!

Sparkly Green Vest (and a new haircut)

This probably won’t get much wear until much later in the year, but she’s happy with it and I’m glad I was able to put some of my deep-stash yarn to good use!

Sparkly Green Vest!

Now to figure out what’s next on the needles…gotta keep these hands busy!

knitting for, and with, my kid!

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One exciting thing to witness during this time of being stuck at home together has been my kid’s burgeoning interest in knitting. She’s discovered that she can knit while listening to podcasts, just like mama!

Sitting in her “nook”, knitting while listening to a podcast. My heart!!

And all of that knitting has had some pretty big results – she finished her first project!

She finished her first project!

She turned the “scarf” she started knitting at age 4 into a cowl! There are some…unintended holes and stitch-count changes, but I still think it looks fantastic, and she’s so proud!

P1010011

For her next project, she decided to cast on for a blanket for her doll, and I taught her how to do 1-ridge stripes in garter stitch.

Her next project: a doll blanket

I really like the design she’s creating, with a big band of the lighter green on either end, and the skinny stripes in the middle:

Her new project: a doll blanket of her own design.

M’s also gotten me to knit for her doll (whose name is “Sparkles”). She’s been begging for me to knit her doll a hat to match the one I made for her, and the other day while cleaning with her, I found the ball of leftovers from her hat. My child is not known for her patience, so within a few minutes, I’d cast on for a top-down, 1×1 rib hat:

Kiddo asked me to make a hat for her doll out of the leftovers from the hat I made for her.

And since it was such a tiny project, within an hour or so, I was able to bind off with i-cord (because I thought that would keep the bottom hem from getting stretched out with repeated wear) and then I was finished!

She has a hat!

Sparkles looks great with their hat whether paired with short hair or long hair!


Doll hat (with long hair)

M said I made her dream come true :)

Happy kiddo with her be-hatted doll.

I haven’t just been knitting for M’s doll – I’ve also been knitting for M! She “inherited” my old desk when we moved into our new house, and in one of the drawers was some Rowan Soft Lux in a sparkly green color. This is DEEP stash – I think I got it something like a dozen years ago? When she saw it, she asked if could use it to make her another one of the garter-yoked, kangaroo-pocketed vests I’ve been making for her, so of course I said YES! I was excited to try out my “knit the i-cord first, then pick up stitches” approach for the neckline cast-on again with a different yarn, and I’m happy to say it worked out great!

Being silly with a knit-in-progress for my kid

(I had a little too much fun taking pictures of the yoke before I joined everything together for the body!)

Being silly with my kid's sweater-in-progress

It’s fitting really well so far!

Looking good so far!

I’ve got a little ways to go before I create the line of purled stitches for the top of the pocket, but I’m really excited to test out the new approach to knitting the bottom hem & pocket that I figured out for my own grown-up, long-sleeve version of this design! She wants to keep hers sleeveless, so we’ll be able to show off both variations.

My favorite kid, trying on her vest-in-progress.

I love my little knitter!!

If it’s not working, fix it.

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So, I promised a post about this sweater, but it’s not an FO post. See, after finishing the sweater, and blocking it, I realized that the sleeves just…don’t fit right.

Not quite finished, because the sleeves are too baggy.

They’re not awful, but they’re just a little too big at the underarm, and end up being a little awkwardly loose throughout the sleeve. They kind of “bag out” awkwardly, especially between the underarm and elbow.

awkward elbow bagginess.

I’m pretty sure I know what went wrong. I’d noticed that the last two sweaters I’d knit from patterns had sleeves that ended up pretty snug on my upper arms, and was trying to avoid that in this sweater, too. So when I picked up the held stitches at arm openings, instead of decreasing away the extra stitches I picked up to close the gap, I left them. Which on a sweater with smaller gauge might’ve been fine, but at 4sts/in, I’d added 1.5” to each sleeve circumference at the upper arm. I just wasn’t thinking!

As for the other sweaters with their tight sleeves – I think that for Wardie, my row gauge on the body ended up being a little bit shorter than the row gauge called for in the pattern (by a tiny fraction of a stitch, but that does add up over the many rows involved in knitting the armscye, so I think the arm openings themselves were a bit on the small side, and then (thanks to stress, I think) my stitch gauge also compressed a bit on the sleeves relative to the body. The sleeves ended up snugger than intended, but still quite wearable.

Likewise with Honeydew, though I think the cause there was the kind of gauge compression that I sometimes get when knitting small circumferences in the round; I didn’t notice any gauge change on the sleeves of my kangaroo-pocket sweater, but I think with thinner yarns/smaller needles, I do tend to get a slightly tighter gauge on small-circumferences in the round.

Anyway, neither of those issues was really at play in the kangaroo-pocket sweater; I’d calculated the size of the sleeve opening and it was what I wanted. I just let a bit of paranoia that maybe my upper arms were thicker than I thought (despite measuring) get to me, so thought I should fudge a bit and add some extra stitches. I mean, my upper arms *have* gotten thicker in the last couple of years, just because that’s a thing bodies do, but I hadn’t realized the extent to which I was letting clothing convince me that something was wrong with my body. Nope! I know how to measure, I know how to calculate gauge, and I just need to trust my measurements and my math.

So…I’m going to be ripping out the sleeves. It’s not going to be fun – I already wove in the ends and blocked it, so it’ll be pretty annoying to try to dig out those ends and unravel them. But if the alternative is a sweater I’ll never wear, then obviously I need to do the annoying hard thing so that I can instead have an awesome sweater that I love wearing!

Baggy sleeves - gonna rip and reknit!

Which brings me to a current topic within the knitting community: the redesign of Ravelry.com (I am deliberately not linking to the site for reasons that will be obvious). I have been a Ravelry user since nearly the beginning, and while I was never a big forums user, I absolutely love being able to organize my projects, my stash, and my library of patterns, and to search through all of the patterns, projects, yarns, etc. It is hands-down my favorite place to visit to just scroll through pretty things and do a bit of knitting daydreaming. Until the redesign, that is. I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I’m a bit neurodivergent. In particular, I have visual processing/visual attention issues and wonky stereopsis, and am photosensitive. I’m also prone to migraines.

Well. My experience of the redesign was one of immediate pain, visual sensory overload, nausea, and the beginning of a migraine. And sadly, I am not alone in that experience. I’m glad that they eventually made it possible to select the “Classic” view (though even that seems slightly different than it used to), and I’m lucky that it seems to be remembering who I am and not forcing me to log into the new design to re-select “Classic” view, but I know many others are being put in that situation, and are having even stronger harmful reactions to the new design. (As many have pointed out, needing to log in through the new design to access the toggle to switch back to Classic View is like saying “the inside of our store is wheelchair accessible – just go up these stairs to enter!”)

As knitters, we are so familiar with the experience of putting a lot of love and excitement into a project only to find that it isn’t working out the way we wanted it to. And we have a few options, when that happens: we can shove the project away in a drawer and give up on it, we can power through with finishing it and then end up with something that isn’t usable, or we can do the painful thing and rip it out to fix it.

I certainly hope that Ravelry does not take the “shove it in a drawer and give up on it” approach – the site has become absolutely central to the knitting community, and though the Ravelry team itself is still very small, there are many, many people who depend on Ravelry for their livelihood. This does make me wonder about how wise it is to be dependent on tools which you do not control for your livelihood. Ravelry wouldn’t be what it is for anyone, including the people who run it, if it weren’t for how easy they made it to sell your patterns, and to have people find your patterns in the first place; in other words, they wouldn’t be what they are if not for the users, and they wouldn’t have those users if they hadn’t made the site the way they did. There are many designers who wouldn’t have the careers they have if not for the existence of Ravelry. But this has created a set of dependencies that make it so that any change made by the small team at Ravelry has incredibly big ramifications for those who use the site, whether that’s because it’s the source of their livelihood, or a large part of their social world, or simply the place they go to unwind…it is not a trivial thing for any of the folks who use the site to lose access to it, but that’s effectively what has happened as a result of the redesign.

Sadly, though, based on the communications coming from the Ravelry team, it seems that the approach being taken is the “power through with finishing it anyway, and then end up with something that isn’t usable (for a subset of their users)”. And look, I get it – a lot of love and work was poured into the redesign, and I am completely sympathetic to how much it hurts to put in all of that work on something you think is beautiful and then have people tell you it doesn’t work for them. But if you knit a sweater for someone, even if you loved the pattern and put in tons of work to knit it, you wouldn’t force the recipient to wear it if it didn’t fit them, would you? If it actually *hurt* them? No, you wouldn’t – you’d rip it out, and you’d work with them, take their measurements, get their input, and try to create something that actually works.

Accessibility needs to be a central goal of any website that wants to claim to be inclusive. And it is especially important given the central role that Ravelry plays in the livelihoods of so many in the knitting community. I hope that Ravelry will work with web accessibility experts (these people do exist!). And I hope that they will show the same willingness as with knitting to “rip and reknit” as needed until they have a site that does not exclude anyone.

Honeydew is finished!

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Thanks to a kind stranger on Ravelry sending me her leftovers of the Oceanwindknits BFL, I was able to make full-length sleeves on my Honeydew, and I’m thrilled with it!

Honeydew is finished! Hooray!

Ravelry Project Page (warning: I’ve reverted to “Classic” view because the new design is painful to the point of being unusable for me; please don’t feel like you need to click on the link to go see my project there if Ravelry isn’t safe for you!)
Pattern: Honeydew, from Laine 8
Yarn: Oceanwindknits BFL in “Seabreeze” and Knitpicks Aloft in “Iceberg”
Needles: Size 4, 6, 7, 8
Time to knit: a couple of months (but with a long break between mostly finishing and actually getting full-length sleeves)

I love the way this icy blue yarns just glow in the sunlight!

Honeydew!

I’m still quite charmed with the centered double decrease that’s used to join the front and back the shoulder. It just looks really neat!

Honeydew!

As you can tell, even with the extra yarn that was sent to me, I decided not to lengthen the turtleneck (it’s a much longer cowl in the pattern). I just prefer this closer-fitting turtleneck to a drapey cowl, and I think it looks “right” this way.

Honeydew!

I should mention that my 8.5 year old daughter was my photographer for these finished sweater photos. She did a great job! She thought we should take some pictures with Frank, our beloved front-yard maple tree (what, you don’t name your trees?). Here, I’m holding Frank’s “nose”:

Honeydew!

I’m really happy with the fit; I was a bit worried, prior to blocking, about how snug the drop-sleeves felt, and they still *are* a bit snug, but blocking relaxed the stitches a bit and everything just drapes more nicely now. And the length is perfect!

Honeydew!

It was a bit windy outside, but no amount of wind would make it a temperature where a mohair-blend sweater is actually seasonal right now! It’ll be really lovely to wear come winter, though.

Honeydew!

Hooray for Honeydew! I also “finished” the kangaroo-pocketed yoked pullover this week, but…well, I’ll save that for another post so that Honeydew can have this one all to itself!

Honeydew!

So soft, so pretty!

done with the pocket, on to the sleeves!

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So, I didn’t end up working any more on Honeydew, but I did do quite a bit with the sweater of my own design that I’m making with my Jill Draper Makes Stuff Empire mega-skein. In fact, I’ve already finished the pocket AND started the first sleeve!

Sleeve progress

I’m quite pleased with the fit so far!

Showing fit from side

I ended up ripping out the pocket the first time I knit it, because I didn’t the shaping right, and I also came up with a better solution for the “fold-up” part: on my kid’s vests, I really did just fold it up, and then I edged around the ENTIRE pocket (including at the bottom) in i-cord. But that seemed like it was going to end up being unnecessarily bulky, so what I actually did was bind off in i-cord at the point where I wanted the “fold”, and then I picked up stitches from the legs of a stitch on each round of the i-cord, just like I had done to create the collar. It worked beautifully!

Showing off i-cord detail

I was able to knit the edge of the pocket together with the already-knit side flap (I swear this will make sense if I ever actually write this pattern) and created a nice slipped-stitch edge to the pocket that captures the look of an i-cord edge without the bulk. Then, at the top of the pocket, I joined the live stitches of the pocket to the line of purl bumps I’d made on the body using a 2-stitch i-cord bind off (knitting the first stitch together with the picked up purl bump, then ssk’ing the second stitch together with the stitch from the pocket to bind it off). It worked really well!

showing off the pocket top.

You may have noticed that I gave this sweater a fairly shallow yoke – that was intentional, because I wanted it to look good as a high cap-sleeved vest if the sleeves were left off. What this meant was that I needed to do some short-rows to fill in wedge between the sleeve cap and the armpit.

Side view.

They’re really subtle, but they do the job! The sleeve fits great without pulling at the shoulder OR underarm bunching.

sleeve closeup

The underarm is fairly wide (12 stitches at 4sts/in) and I picked up 2 additional stitches on either side to close the gaps and did not decrease them away, so sleeve is deliberately fairly loose. This is because I wanted freedom of motion at the shoulder (I’m a violinist! This is very important to me!) and at an aran gauge like this, for a “sweatshirt”-style sweater, I prefer a looser sleeve.

Back view

The other feature I love, that I can’t remember whether I’ve shared, is that the back bottom hem is a bit longer than the front. I just really like the look of it!

Front view

I’m still not 100% sure if I’ll ever write a pattern for this design, but if I don’t, I’m probably sharing enough details in these posts that a clever knitter could reconstruct a pattern for themselves, ha!

sweater(s) status report

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At the end of my last post, I shared a this picture:

a new sweater, and yarn to finish Honeydew.

The yarn I’m holding there is an extra partial skein of the Oceanwindknits BFL sock yarn that a kind person on Ravelry sent to me. See, I’d measured the yarn I had left before starting the sleeves, and it became clear as I was knitting the first sleeve that I would not be able to get full-length sleeves. At first, I thought I’d just make them shorter, and that’s what I did…but I did not like the way they looked as 3/4 length sleeves, and since this is going to be a toasty-warm winter sweater, I also know that I would *hate* having less-than-full-length sleeves in the winter. So I popped onto Ravelry to see if anyone might have some of this yarn, and found someone who had used all but a partial skein from the same “Pas de Valse Kit” yarn that I’d purchased all those years ago, and asked if she’d be willing to part with the leftovers. She was! So thanks to the kindness of a stranger on Ravelry, I’m going to be able to have full-length sleeves on my Honeydew. Gotta rip out the ribbing I put on originally for the 3/4 length sleeves, but I think I’ll probably have the sweater finished by the weekend!

Of course, what I haven’t said anything about yet is the (partial) sweater I’m wearing in that photo. Here’s a better look:

Beginning of a me-sized, long-sleeved version of a vest I've knit twice for M.

While figuring out what to do about Honeydew, I cast on for a me-sized, long-sleeved version of the yoked, kangaroo-pocketed vest I’ve knit twice for M. The yarn is the massive skein of Jill Draper Makes Stuff Empire that I got at the Finger Lakes Fiber Festival this past fall, and y’all, this yarn is AMAZING. I just love the way it feels in my hands. And I have found that with my shoulder in the state that it currently is (I re-aggravated the C8-T1 crap that has been a recurring issue in my left shoulder for the last 6 years), knitting on size 8 needles with aran-weight yarn is a bit more comfortable than finer-gauge stuff, at least right now. And gosh, even with knitting in nothing but short bursts, it sure knits up quickly at 4ts/6rows to an inch!!

Sweater progress

In part because of my shoulder and the resulting weirdness in my left hand (i-cord cast-ons typically are not super comfortable to perform even when I’m well!), but also because I always have a heck of a time getting the first row to look nice when I do i-cord cast-ons, I tried a slightly different approach this time: I simply cast on an i-cord (mine was 100 stitches long, because that got me the neckband circumference I wanted), and then picked up a stitch from the leg of a stitch down each round of the i-cord to start the sweater. It looks great, is very neat, and has the benefit of letting you “try on” the neckband before continuing (since it’s just an i-cord, not tethered to a needle except at the very end). I think I’ll keep doing this when I want i-cord cast-ons in the future!

Since I took these photos a few days ago, I’ve already made it past where the kangaroo-pocket will attach on the body (which I mark with a row of purl stitches, to make it very easy to know where to attach the top of the pocket when I’m putting i-cord around the edge) and am actually just about ready to split for the back bottom hem/front giant fold-up kangaroo pocket! I’m debating whether I want to turn this into a pattern when I finish – I’m going to be knitting my daughter another vest, and could see using this summer as a time to write a child-adult customizable pattern for either a sleeveless vest or long-sleeved pullover (one of several ideas I shared in a long-ago design idea brain-dump). I’m not sure, though…I just don’t have any confidence about sizing outside of the range I’m familiar with, and would not want to do a terrible job in the larger sizes. So I want to learn more about yokes and fit in larger sizes. I’m definitely open to collaboration and resource-sharing on this!

a long time coming.

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So much has happened since the last time I posted. What to make of it all? Well, it’s been a long time coming, that much I know. I do have knitting updates to share, but before I do that, I have thoughts to share, because what is happening right now in my country is much more important than knitting.

Verso has made this ebook free to download

Verso has made this free to download as an e-book. Please join me in reading it and thinking about how we can change the world for the better!

When armed white men can show up at the governor’s house in KY and face zero consequences, while unarmed black men are inherently viewed as threats and murdered by cops or wannabe-cops, that’s racism. When our country vilifies Colin Kaepernick for kneeling on the football field while ignoring the violence he was protesting, and cops kneel on black men’s necks without a care, that’s racism. And none of us who grew up in this country are immune to the biases that lead to viewing black men as inherently threatening. Racism is baked into our country’s DNA. It’s in the water we drink and the air we breathe. I mean that metaphorically as well as literally: we don’t notice or care when black communities can’t drink their water because it’s full of lead, or can’t breathe their air because it’s too polluted. Until it starts hurting white folks, we just ignore it or pretend those who suffer deserve their fates. Oh, sure, not ALL of us; some of us have been paying attention for a very long time. But all of us can get away with ignoring the problems.

Or at least, we could. But not now, I think. Not anymore. That is one of the things that the protests are doing: making visible what we might have wanted to pretend didn’t exist. Disrupting the status quo. And loudly, forcefully declaring that this state of affairs cannot continue existing unquestioned. That it cannot continue existing, period. Is it unfortunate that things have been set on fire, and property has been damaged? Sure. But if you find yourself thinking, “Gosh, it’s a shame that George Floyd was killed, but the rioting and property-damage needs to stop!”, PLEASE, PLEASE stop. Think about it. Recognize that what you are doing is a kind of tone-policing. Then flip that sentence around and get your priorities straight: sure, it’s a shame that property is getting damaged, but what actually needs to stop is the killing of black people by police (and others). How can we be surprised that people are protesting when our country is failing black people, not just in terms of protecting them from police brutality but also in terms of the disproportionate impact of the coronavirus pandemic? (This is a connection that is beautifully and powerfully made in an essay by e’ve now watched, horrified, as our president cleared a path through peaceful protestors, before the start of the curfew that had been imposed, with rubber bullets and tear gas, just for a photo-op (holding a Bible as only someone who never engages with books of any kind would do) in front of a church whose parishioners were among those protestors, after promising to use the military against protestors in cities throughout the country and pointedly reminding his white nationalist followers of their “second amendment rights.” That this all happening in the midst of a pandemic is even more horrifying. We have an incompetent madman at the wheel when we desperately need competent leadership.

Yes, things have gotten very messy, but let’s be clear-eyed: the escalation is coming from the *police* (and from our president), not from the protestors. This is something I’ve been talking about with my daughter, who knows about escalation and de-escalation in terms of how we approach parenting when she’s getting overwhelmed and frustrated: we try to de-escalate by doing things like talking in calm voices (if at all), using really gentle touch or a weighted blanket, and coaching her through deep breathing, and usually that helps her calm down. That’s de-escalation. But if we instead lose our temper and yell at her (which does happen sometimes…we’re human!), that just escalates things…it makes her get more and more upset and things can get really bad. That’s escalation – and for cops, that looks like military gear, tear gas, and rubber bullets. It looks like arresting journalists, or taking out their left eye with a rubber bullet, as happened to the journalist Linda Tirado, who wrote a powerful article about it. It looks like the blatant lies about people who “tripped and fell” when video clearly shows who was pushing them, punching them, beating them with sticks…being lied to about what your own eyes are showing you is gaslighting, and I can’t speak for how anyone else experiences it, but when I recognize someone trying to gaslight me, it enrages me and makes me want to burn it all down.

It’s the responsibility of people who are in a position of power to learn to de-escalate. But that is NOT what police officers learn to do in their training, and black communities, neurodivergent folks, deaf folks, and so many others pay a very high price for that. But Alex Vitale is right: you’re not going to undo the effects of “warrior training” with a few workshops on bias and de-escalation. And frankly, even if officers haven’t gone through “warrior training”, I’m not sure you’re going to override the mindset of the type of person to whom our current system of policing appeals as a career. I’m not saying that everyone who goes into policing is an abusive monster. I know that isn’t true. But if you *are* an abusive monster and you want a job where you can be that way with impunity, our current system of policing is the perfect home for you. We need to change that. Defund the police and send those resources instead to community-based programs that address the needs that currently aren’t met. Demilitarize them, too. And hold them as accountable for their bad actions as anyone in any other job would be for theirs (to start, here in NY, let’s repeal 50-A). Let’s stop making police work a haven for abusers (literally), and let’s stop making it our only tool for addressing issues our communities face. And if the words “defund police” are alarming to you, read this article explaining what people mean when they say that, and then consider that we’ve been defunding public schools ever since I was a kid. Maybe we should demand that our budgets reflect our values and priorities? We ask both police AND teachers to do too much, but only one of those groups keeps getting more and more money and equipment poured into their coffers. And it isn’t the teachers.

Good message, good spelling, very questionable spacing, but now M has ensured that our sidewalk that doesn’t quite reach the street is proclaiming the value of black lives.


“Black Lives Matter”. Her spacing/kerning could use some work, but I’m glad she is growing up internalizing this message and wanting to share it.

Towards the beginning of all of this, I saw someone say something about the hatred required in order for that cop to murder George Floyd, but I think that “hatred” is the wrong framing. It strikes me as being more of a complete lack of concern…not so much active hatred as just not even viewing black lives as ones that matter. Viewing them as disposable. As ones over which white lives should have unquestioned power. I think when we frame it as “hatred”, it’s easy to write ourselves out of the picture. WE don’t hate, after all. But we sure as hell grew up drinking from the poisoned well of this country’s racist history.

White friends, we have to do so much better. For George Floyd, for Ahmaud Arbery, for Tony McDade, for Breonna Taylor…and the list of names could go on for pages. We have to expand what we mean by “we” until we remember that every single person has inherent worth and dignity. Until we remember that black lives MATTER, and they matter BECAUSE all lives matter; that second phrase, which so often gets used to shut down conversation, is an aspiration that we can only make real if we make black lives matter. And that means having hard conversations with your friends and family members who unquestioningly accept the stories about who “deserves” to suffer or about who is “suspicious”, and it means pushing back when they try to explain why something isn’t *actually* racist. It means educating ourselves and each other on the history that is shaping all of our lives today, and thinking about how we can begin to build a new system. It means a hell of a lot of unlearning. It means teaching our kids the truth about our white supremacist culture. But it also means shutting up and listening when black folks are telling us what they’re experiencing, and what needs to be done to address it. It means amplifying those voices over our own whenever we have the opportunity, until we have a world in which black lives are fully included in those that count, get listened to, get heard, get believed.

I saw someone say, somewhere on social media, that people love to imagine they’d have been abolitionists, but they need only look at what they’re doing right now to know what they would have been doing then. As for me? It seems clear I would have been one of those folks writing long-winded letters about justice, and not so much someone on the front lines, with my newly re-injured shoulder and immune-compromised body. So be it. I’m a thinker, a planner, a teacher, and a writer, and I do think those can be important contributions. But I’m very grateful to everyone who is putting their bodies on the line in these protests, and support them with all my might. As I’ve said before, though, I do think we need to be careful about the inferences we draw about where people are and are not showing up, and especially about the demands we make regarding how people participate on social media; issues of ableism, tokenism, and performativity are things we should keep in mind when we think about how others are participating. Just do the work, however you can.

This post has gotten long enough, but I’ll close with one knitting photo, as a “reward” for all who read the entire thing:

a new sweater, and yarn to finish Honeydew.

I’m trying on my newest sweater, while holding the yarn sent by a kind stranger on Ravelry so that I can make full-length sleeves on Honeydew.

Making masks

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We finally broke down and bought a printer, because life without access to one was getting awfully tricky. Among the other things made possible with the printer was the ability to print sewing patterns. And so I’ve joined the ranks of those sewing masks during this pandemic.

A friend of ours made us some of the pleated/surgical-style masks, but they just weren’t working well for us; my daughter couldn’t keep hers in place, and my husband and I had horrible, horrible problems with glasses fogging. I’d heard from friends that the shaped style of mask is sometimes preferred by glasses-wearers, so I printed out different sizes of the Craft Passion mask (kids, teen/women, and mens) and busted into my stash of fat quarters from back when I thought I was going to make a bunch of quilts. Maybe someday I’ll actually follow through on those plans, but if I do, I can always get more fat quarters!

Cutting out mask pieces from my stash of fat quarters.

I was able to get 3 masks from each pair of fat quarters. Mine are bright blue with a yellowy green interior, my husband’s are dark green with a lighter green interior, and my daughter’s are red with a pink interior.

Makin' masks.

This is the only part that needs pins; it’s the fussiest part of the sewing.

I found the instructions a bit confusing, so ended up relying more on the instructions that went with the very similar pattern from State the Label. My first one took me quite awhile, but once I knew what I was doing, I could speed up a bit.

Showing the liner pocket

Showing off the filter pocket

The way these masks are constructed, you hem the sides of the lining and the outside separately, rather than connecting them, which creates a nice pocket for any sort of lining you might want to add. And for side hems on the outside, you actually create a channel, into which you can add elastic or whatever else you’re going to use to make the mask stay on your face.

Threading a skinny strip of fleece through the channel

Threading fleece strip through the first side channel from the top

I don’t have any elastic, but I do have a ton of is leftover fleece from my daughter’s halloween costumes, so I cut skinny strips of that I threaded through the channels – each end was threaded through from the top.

Threading the other end of the fleece strip through the channel

Threading fleece strip through the second side channel from the top

This creates a strap across the back, which rests over the ears, and then you can tie the ends together at the base of your neck.

How the fleece strip works

It fits really nicely!

New mask works great!! I took the fleece channel off, and didn’t add any other wire channel, but even wire-free, with this shaped mask I had very minimal glasses-fogging. Yay!

Front View

New mask, side view. This stays put so much better for me than the pleated masks did. And the fleece ties are quite comfy.

Side View

I had very minimal glasses fogging, too – I bet adding a channel for a nose wire would reduce it even further, but it’s still infinitely better for me than the pleated mask was. And it’s SO MUCH better for my daughter, because it stays put!! The fleece tie is very comfortable – it’s soft, it’s stretchy, and it has enough texture that once you tie the bow at your neck, it doesn’t slip.

Now we each have fitted masks in our favorite colors (bright blue, red, and dark green!)

The three of us, each with masks in our favorite color

It’s a little unsettling to make kid-size masks (or really, to make masks at all), but I’m glad that even with my fairly rudimentary sewing skills, I’m able to do this, so that we can do our part to take care of our community during this pandemic.

Putting these masks together actually gave me some more confidence with my sewing machine, and I think I’m going to try to actually sew some clothing items this summer! The first pattern I’m going to try is a York Pinafore, in some nice flannel that I’ve had for quite a long time. Wish me luck?

Honeydew progress!

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Thanks to various Zoom meetings last week, I was able to knit quite a bit on Honeydew – and by the end of the week, I’d finished the body!

Body of Honeydew - finished!

I really like the way the shoulder seams are joined with a centered double decrease – it creates a really nice-looking detail:

Honeydew Shoulder detail

Then, over the weekend, I knit away at the 2×2 ribbing for the cowl neck. I ended up making mine quite a bit shorter than the pattern calls for, because I wanted more of a loose-fitting turtleneck than a deep drapey cowl (and I also wanted to make sure I don’t run out of yarn, since I can’t get any more of the sock yarn!). I think I got the look I was aiming for:

Honeydew turtleneck

It feels slightly crazy to be knitting a mohair sweater now that we jumped from winter temperatures into summer ones! But I did step outside for a moment to capture a picture of Honeydew in the sunlight, with petals from our crabapple trees.

Honeydew turtleneck, outside

My daughter calls our trees “confetti trees” :)

Definitely not a seasonally-appropriate sweater, but it’ll be so cozy when winter temperatures return!

Honeydew turtleneck

Wish me luck not running out of yarn while knitting the sleeves!!

My next project: Honeydew!

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I promised a separate post about my next sweater, so here you go! The next project on my needles is…

Newest project: Honeydew

…Honeydew, the cover pattern from Laine 8. When I saw the pictures of this in the magazine, I couldn’t get out of my head how beautiful it would look in an icy blue color. And then I remembered that I had 3 skeins of Oceanwind Knits BFL sock yarn in an icy blue in my deep stash, and all I would need would be some mohair to pair it with. Knitpicks brought out a new color in their “Aloft” mohair/silk yarn called “Iceberg”, so I got enough of it to pair with the BFL yarn. I’m thinking this will be my rule: no new yarn purchases unless it’s something that will help me turn the yarn I already have into specific patterns.

Yarns for Honeydew

The mohair/silk blend is so soft and fluffy!

So soft!

We had one day last weekend that was actually warm, so I cast on and knit the bottom hem outside!!

It’s so nice out!!

And I’ve knit a few rows on it each evening, and also during Zoom meetings whenever I’m not the one presenting or taking notes, so now I’ve got a few repeats of the twisted-stitch honeycomb pattern:

Honeydew progress

The pattern repeat is pretty easy to memorize/read from the knitting, so I’ve been able to make good progress without having to constantly refer to the pattern.

So soft!

And it’s just so soft! I think this is going to be a delightfully warm and fluffy sweater to wear in the winter next year.

Wardie is finished!

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Well, my intention to post weekly updates on how we’re doing during this pandemic kind of fell apart after week 3. We’re now two months in; it’s been that long since I’ve left my house to do anything other than walk around the neighborhood, and I haven’t even done that much of that, because we’ve had so much cold, wet weather and my lungs get grouchy in those conditions ever since my bout with pneumonia at the end of 2019. (Yes, I’ve wondered whether that was actually COVID, but the serological tests are not reliable enough yet to really tell us, and the timing suggests otherwise.) It’s actually SNOWING today. I woke up with my brain singing “I’m so sick of being cold, being cold, being cold” to the tune of “Mary had a little lamb” yesterday. 2020 is breaking me.

BUT! I have been knitting. And in fact, I have a finished sweater to show off! But first, I wanted to share how hilariously weird Wardie looks when you’re working on the sleeves:

Wardie sure looks weird at this stage!

I actually finished the knitting last week, but with the way Wardie is constructed, well, there was still Some Assembly Required:

Some assembly required

My husband said my get-up last weekend reminded him of the newest Doctor Who – I definitely won’t complain about being compared to Jodie Whittaker!

Some assembly required

The seaming went fairly smoothly (the garter stitch selvedges helped!) though I do have a terrible crick in my neck from holding it too close to my face while trying to correctly sew through both layers of the pocket when attaching the button-band.

Sewing on buttonsSewing on the last button!

Anyhow, this is supposed to be a finished project posts, so how about the details and finished photos?

Ravelry Project Page
Pattern: Wardie, by Ysolda Teague
Yarn: Bartlettyarns Sport in Oatmeal
Needles: Size 3 and Size 5
Time to knit: Just under 2 months

I ended up kind of channeling Ysolda’s look from the original Wardie pattern photos with my overalls today! (Overalls have become my preferred pandemic pants – I love not having a waistband And the pockets!)

Finished Wardie!

The fit came out quite nice, and I love the way Bartlettyarns blooms – but I do think it’s a bit less drapey than it would’ve been had I knit it in Finull like the pattern calls for. It’s delightfully sheepy! And the pockets are fantastic! Definitely big enough to actually stick your hands in.

Finished Wardie!

My favorite detail has to be the cabled decreases at the back shoulder. They’re just so pretty!

Finished Wardie (with snow) Yes, that IS snow in my hair.

I also really love the split hems.

Finished Wardie - side view

The sleeves came out pretty snug, and I think that’s because my gauge ended up contracting a bit the further we got into this whole physical distancing thing (gee, stress = tighter gauge, who would’ve guessed!). They’re very comfy, though. Just takes some maneuvering to get my long-sleeve-shirted arm down the sleeve without bunching things up.

Finished Wardie!

I just love the overall look of the cardigan – the fitted, but fairly gender-neutral look just really suits me. I can see wearing Wardie with just about everything, because the neutral color will look fantastic with all of the bright jewel tones that I tend to wear!

I’ve already cast on for my next sweater, too, but I’ll save that for a separate post.

social distancing: week 3 report

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This is just so, so hard. I don’t want to neglect my kid, and she needs me to help her with her school work, but I’m also struggling to keep up with creating new online materials for 4 different classes and giving feedback to my students and I’m also tryi

Trying to revise a paper. It’s…hard.

Well, I think week 3 (which in terms of my own isolation, is actually week 4, since I worked from home during my university’s Spring Break) is where I crack a bit. This week was just SO MUCH harder than the first two; trying to balance teaching my classes with “homeschooling” my kid, while also trying to hold on to some semblance of the activities that keep me feeling whole (violin, knitting, exercise), missing my colleagues, and pretty much never, ever getting to be by myself or hold a thought in my mind without being interrupted…it’s just a lot. But it’s not going to change any time soon, so I just have to figure out how to adapt to it. This week was also a lot more rainy, and I think that didn’t help things.

I did get a fair amount of knitting done this week – having something to do with my hands is pretty critical for my sanity, I think, so if nothing else, I’m going to end up with some good knitwear out of this. I finished the entire right front of my Wardie Cardigan! It doesn’t look like much…it curls up on itself so much in this unblocked, unseamed state:

First cardigan front, finished!

The pocket will get closed on the side when seaming happens, but for now, it’s just a little tunnel:

Pocket!

I even had a bit of time yesterday to work on starting the pocket for the left front piece of the cardigan:

Second pocket, in progress!

I was working on this while watching an episode of Fruity Knitting. Usually, when a new episode comes out, I wait until I have a day when I can work from home so that I can watch it without “bothering” the rest of my family. But since we are ALL home for the foreseeable future, I’ve tried to stop worrying about watching things that only I want to watch. It turns out, M is actually pretty interested in the episodes, too (though I can’t pay as close attention to them with my dear little Interruption Engine next to me!), and yesterday, she actually got out her own knitting to join me:

Andrew snapped a picture of us knitting together!

It’s not quite the peaceful alone time that I used to have each time I watched an episode, but it was lovely in its own way. I’m really glad that knitting is something I can share with my kid. And maybe by the end of all this, she’ll have finished her first project!

social distancing: week 2 report

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This past week was the start of online teaching at my university. Because I teach a mostly-international student population, and also have students whose homes do not have reliable internet connections, I’ve been working to create “asynchronous” modules for them to complete when they can. And I’m “homeschooling” my kid. It’s…a lot.

Working on midpoint portfolio feedback while M lounges and reads her new book. Office/guest room combo is pretty great :)

This daybed in our guestroom/office is pretty handy!

I thought I’d try to make weekly posts every Sunday recapping what we’re up to during this weird time, but it turns out that’s maybe a little too much to add to my already overflowing plate. So this one’s a day late!

I’ll start with the knitting progress: I finished the back of my Wardie cardigan!

Finished Wardie Back!

This was my first time doing cabled decreases, and I’m just so delighted with how “fancy” they look:

fancy cabled decreases

I feel like this pattern is the perfect balance between “mindless stockinette” and “interesting enough to keep me wanting to knit” right now. There are new techniques to learn, which I love, but once I’ve learned them, I can use them over and over in a very predictable way. That’s perfect for where my brain is right now.

As for what we’ve been up to otherwise, well, we’ve been trying to get outdoors a little bit, when it’s not raining. Spring is still springing, despite everything going on in the world!

Spring is springing!

My daughter has basically inherited my Baa-ble hat – she’s just so stinking cute in it!

She’s so stinking cute in this hat. It has basically become her hat at this point!

It’s been lovely, too, to see the messages our neighbors have been putting out in chalk:

A lovely chalk message from our post-dinner walk.

This weekend, it was even warm enough to let some fresh air into the house while we baked and cleaned!

It was warm enough to let fresh air into the house!

My daughter had her first Zoom-based violin lesson:
First Zoom-based violin lesson!

And we were able to get an exercise bike set up in our basement so that we can get a little bit of exercise even though the Y is closed:

Now we have an exercise bike!

Here’s one other good thing that happened this past week: remember the situation with my former department that I mentioned a couple years back? On Friday, the university settled with my friends and former mentors who brought the lawsuit for $9.4 million dollars. I’m so relieved that this ended with a settlement in favor of the complainants, because they were so very right to raise the issues they raised, and this settlement proves that (the university can say whatever they want about how they’re not admitting any fault and their insurance is footing the bill…I still don’t think you settle for nearly $10 million dollars when you think you’re going to prevail in court). But I’m also relieved because it means that I can’t be compelled to testify in court; unfortunately, the settlement happened late enough in the game that the university’s lawyers did have access to the signed witness statement I gave to the lawyers for the complainants, which is…a really weird thing given that they’re also my employer, so it’s not like I got to stay as anonymous as I might have liked even without it going to court. But it was important to me that the truth get out and that I corroborate everything I could, because the university was going out of their way to frame my friends and former mentors as liars, and I *knew* that they were not lying – that toxic environment *was* my grad school experience. The truth was worth the risk, but I’m just so glad it’s over.

So, that was our week! I cast on for the first of the two fronts on Saturday, and am already past the pocket section – I’ll share pictures of that next week!

Beginning of right front.

Stay safe, stay well!

social distancing: week 1 report

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Well, in my last post, I said I thought we were headed towards school closures, and indeed, we were. So we spent last week holed up in our house, all three of us; my husband I were working from home, and our daughter was schooling from home. It was…a lot.

Running a writing workshop via Zoom. I’ve got them in “breakout rooms” right now, doing an activity in pairs. I can’t see my notes on my slides when I do screensharing, so I’ve got my laptop perched in front of my monitor so I can see presenter notes.

Running a writing workshop for grad students via Zoom

I’ve been working to set things up so that my classes can still work online, given that my students are now literally scattered across the globe (I teach a mostly international population) and with highly variable internet access, etc. All the while the university keeps emailing out new policies – it’s REALLY hard to plan when the ground is constantly shifting under your feet, but I realize that’s basically the situation that ALL of us are in, because this is an ever-changing unprecedented global pandemic.

Wardie Cardigan Back in progress

At least one of my plans ended up working out: the plan to knit a Wardie cardigan! I’ve had to sit through a LOT of Zoom-trainings, so I’ve actually knit more than I expected to – I’m now past the back decreases and just need to knit straight for quite a few more rows. Straight stockinette is pretty much what my brain can handle at the moment.

garter stitch selvedge

The pattern calls for knitting the first and last stitch of every row to create a garter stitch selvedge. I’ve never actually done this before, because I don’t tend to knit sweaters in pieces very often, but I can already really see how it will make seaming easier!

We went out for a post-lunch walk while A was in a Zoom meeting. It was really nice to get a little break from my desk upstairs, where I’ve been almost non-stop for the past week. Gotta figure out a way to fit these breaks into our work+school from home d

Out on a socially-distanced walk with Cherry the Red Panda

We did get out of the house a few times – I took M out on a walk around our neighborhood while my husband had a Zoom meeting, and we’ve also tried to make a post-lunch walk part of our regular routine.

She found a heart-shaped rock on our walk today!

A heart-shaped stone. Sending LOVE to everyone!

This week also held our 15th wedding anniversary and the Spring Equinox. We’ve never been big on going out to eat or things like that even when there isn’t a pandemic, so we pretty much had our usual quiet at-home celebrations. We are taking social-distancing very seriously, because my lungs were damaged by the pneumonia I had from late November through January, and we really, really do not want to risk exposing me to COVID-19. I can’t help but feel a bit scared every time my throat feels sore, or I feel extra tired, or have a low-grade fever, especially given that my lungs don’t ever feel great – but those things are also things that happen to me when I’ve been stretched too thin, and the combination of working from home, while parenting, while dealing with ever-changing policies from my university…well, that has certainly stretched me too thin. I’m trying to take care of myself the best that I can in these strange, challenging times, and to remember that even though working from home while parenting is HARD, we are so very lucky to be able to socially distance like this while keeping our jobs.

knitting to stay sane

Stay safe, everyone. Be well. Knit on.

I have a new sweater! (And everything else is chaos.)

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Finished Gridlines!

It turns out I did finish my sweater over Spring Break, as predicted…though nothing else has gone according to plan. My university has told all of the students to stay home, or go home, and we have been thrust into online teaching in order to contribute to flattening the curve through social distancing. It was absolutely the right call to make, given the pandemic we are facing, but wow, it is sheer chaos to try to convert 4 different classes, all of which are heavily dependent on in-class discussion, to online format…especially when your students are going to be scattered around the globe, with variable internet connections. It’s overwhelming, and I suspect we’re headed towards an even more challenging scenario if my daughter’s school closes. Teaching a 4 class load from home while also homeschooling is going be an adventure, that’s for sure!

I’m having a pretty hard time with all of this, emotionally, and I suspect it’s because I already had 6 weeks of being cut off from the world while I battled pneumonia from late November through early January, and I haven’t even fully worked back up to my pre-pneumonia levels of socializing, and now I’m headed for another 6 weeks of being cut off. I know it’s the right call to make both for the sake of the community, and for my own sake (I’d be in the “high risk” category for COVID-19 due to my pre-existing lung issues), but for my mental health? It is not so great. I am someone who really loves planning, and planning has become completely impossible for the moment, and that alone leaves me feeling really unsettled, before we even get to all of the worries about what this pandemic means for the people who are already vulnerable, for our fragile and broken social safety net, for our economy, for…everything. It’s a lot.

So here, how about some more nice new sweater pictures?

Finished Gridlines!

It grew a little bit with blocking, especially in length, but I’m fine with it – it’s got a lovely drape!

Finished Gridlines

I really love the way it looks with this dark pink cowl, too…but the neckline is also nice sans cowl:

Finished Gridlines!

I’m pretty pleased with myself for having knit an entire sweater out of sock yarn – that’s actually a first for me!

Back to the topic of planning – I mentioned in my last post that I was debating what to do for my next project, and while I’m still not completely decided, the recent post on Ysolda’s blog has me leaning towards knitting a Wardie cardigan. I have a cone of Bartlettyarns Sport in a nice natural shade – quite a contrast from the bright colors I’m wearing today! But if the gauge is right after I block this swatch-in-progress, I’m pretty sure that Wardie will be my next sweater – I could use a really basic cardigan like that. Will I actually get much knitting time in the next few weeks, while I desperately try to help my students get through the end of the semester without actually seeing them in person? Who knows!

Planning my next project

Wish me luck?

 

Finished Gridlines!

Giving myself a hug, and sending virtual hugs to everyone who needs them!