knitting

Fingerless Gloves

It’s exam season. My second-to-last undergraduate exam season, ever! I’m stressed out and unmotivated at the same time. I have a lot to do (and it will get done, I’m not worried about that) but it’s the opposite of what I want to be doing right now. I’d much rather be making salted caramels and going ice skating and drinking mulled wine and hanging up sparkly lights. Instead, I’m looking at two weeks of bleak days where I don’t get out of my pyjamas and sit in front of a computer screen for hours. Ugh!

I did a little project last week, while the exam storm was a’brewing. These gloves were super speedy to knit up, and I think they’re adorable. Better still – I’ve actually been wearing them around the house, and even to bed once! Montreal is far too cold to practically wear fingerless gloves outside in the winter, but as indoor handwarmers, they work great. (In fact, I’m wearing them right now.)

I got the pattern from Knit and Bake here. I followed the instructions pretty exactly (even using the right size needles, which is something I have been guilty of not doing in the past) and yet mine still came out larger than hers, both in length and width! I was disappointed, because I’m not sure how to fix that issue. Luckily they’re not too big and I can still wear them! I’ve been trying a lot of projects lately and most of them I’ve pulled out because they were too big. Maybe I don’t pull tight enough! But then, I dislike it when the stitches are too tight on the needle. I think I’d better go see my Grandma and ask her what’s up.

The good news is, I’m getting much better at knitting! I’ve picked up some tricks along the way (another reason those false start projects were not a waste) including how to comfortably knit on double pointed needles, a new way to hold needles so it goes faster, how to “unknit” stitches (so helpful!!), and how to unravel knitting and pick it up again (very risky, but I did it once successfully). I’m so happy to know all this stuff, and I can’t wait to make every project The Purl Bee offers. Check out my DIY inspiration board here for more knitting projects I hope to do!

Okay everyone, let’s hit the ground running this week! I know I sure need to. Have a wonderful week, don’t forget to take study breaks to stress bake (might I suggest these and these?) and laugh with your friends. Buy a crate of clementines too, you’ll thank yourself later.

xo.

Striped Circle Scarf

So, yesterday I was so excited to try this scarf on that I pulled out my winter jacket just to see how it would look. This is significant, because if you know me at all, you know that it takes a very good reason for me to go anywhere near my winter things – I spend most of my time in denial that winter exists. But I was so excited about this scarf that I made in two days in a fit of creative frustration that the winter jacket had to come out for modelling purposes.

I was inspired by Elise’s cowl and was more than happy to follow her simple approach. I tried making a complicated mini herringbone scarf a few weeks ago, and although it was a beautiful pattern, I kept messing it up. I was happy to make something with plain old knitting stitches. This was the perfect project at the perfect time – I had both colours of yarn left over from other projects, had the right sized needles, it was easy. I basically just went with it, figuring out things like switching colours every row by watching videos and by trial and error. Turns out I accidentally joined in the round while some stitches were twisted the wrong way, so my cowl has a permanent twist in it. For my purposes that works just fine (because I am looping it around my neck anyways) but I was really careful about joining in the round so I’m not sure how it happened. I’m blaming my midnight knitting start-time.

 None of my projects ever turn out the way I expect them to, but I always end up appreciating them for what they are. I can’t stand how this cowl is always curling in on itself (that’s the price I pay for knitting the whole thing), and it’s a bit smaller than I thought it would be so it’s a bit tighter around my neck twice. It also looks stupid when it’s not looped. But looped around twice? I love it.

I cast on just over a hundred stitches on 24-inch circular needles. In retrospect, I would have done more like 150-200 stitches. I joined in the round and then knitted every row, switching colours each row. I used the tips in Elise’s post, and this video was totally crucial – I watched it around 4 times.

This project was totally the result of me needing to make something with my hands. It’s (I guess) winter, so knitting feels comforting again. I might try my hand at making some socks. I only wish I had access to better, nicer yarns! Oh well. Now that I’m finished my midterms, I hope to use my time to create some more handmade happiness.

Happy Monday!

5/10: Red & Grey Checkered Blanket

Finally.

For better or for worse, that was the first thought I had once I was finished stitching together the last few rows of this blanket. That’s not to suggest I don’t love it with all my heart – because I do, trust me – but I was ready for this project to be finished. My sewing machine arrived the other day, and summer is fast approaching, which means it’s time to set my sights on other projects! Summery ones. As much as I have grown to love knitting, and as much as it entertained me during this cold winter, I’m ready to learn something new and come back to knitting when the weather gets cold again.

This blanket was not only a labour of love, it is a physical representation of how I learned to knit. Which means it’s totally imperfect. You can literally trace my progress: the first few squares I knitted separately, because I was afraid of messing it up if I did more than one at a time; one of the squares is slightly bigger than the others because I forgot to count my stitches before casting on; there are wonky lines from switching colours and forgetting to keep track of where I was before I switched. I love that I can look at it and go “here’s where I learned how to cast on! And here’s where I learned to switch colours!” It’s beautiful for that.

And it does the trick. All my friends love it, because it’s so soft and comforting. They don’t see its imperfections, and I’m starting not to either. I’ll never consider it a waste of time – it kept me occupied for several months, it taught me how to knit, and it keeps me warm. No, it probably won’t last forever. But don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good enough. I’m so proud and happy to have done this project and learned a great new skill in the process. It doesn’t bother me that it’s not an ‘expert job’.

I got my inspiration from Elise’s black-and-white blanket, but I think I went about it a lot differently than she did. Hers is a good deal more clean-looking than mine, by the way, so maybe go with her method! As for me, like I said I started quite slowly. I just did one square at a time, lining them up to make sure they were roughly the same size. The beauty of this blanket is that it’s so stretchy and cozy that it’s not too big a deal if all the squares are the same. I stitched the squares together with a darning needle. Then once I was more confident, I started switching colours (my favourite way is described here) – be careful to always switch colours on the same side! I made that mistake. Once I had a row of 4 squares, I cast off and stitched it to the previous rows.

My blanket is 3×4 squares, and it’s the perfect size for me. It’s big enough to comfortably cover a back, pair of legs, or a curled up napping body. It looks lovely draped on my bed. But it’s not huge, I didn’t want huge.

I used Bernat Softee Chunky yarn. It’s a pretty cheap, and comes in a whole bunch of colours. I’ve used it for most of my knitting projects, but only because I don’t have much selection at my local crafts store! I knit this whole blanket exclusively in garter stitch, aka plain old knitting.

I love it. I’m thrilled it’s done. I can’t wait to move onto other projects. You can see the rest of my 2012 DIY projects so far here.

Around Here

Around here, there’s been a lot of book-learnin’. A lot of library-goin’. A lot of sitting on a chair. Not a lot of sunlight.

Even still, around here there’s been a lot of small, quiet, magic moments. Like the time I learned how to make poached eggs. Or the time I ordered some pretty labels and a date stamp and some photo paper and made my own day. Or when I made ginger syrup and let it simmer all night, making my apartment smell divine. There was also the arrival of my sewing machine! And the completion of my first sewing project! And there have been a hundred other sweet moments lately: like hysterically laughing with your BFF in a way you only can after studying for hours, or eating a quiet lunch and sneaking in a few pages of a book, or finding great new music on 8tracks.

All in all, even though exams are stressful and sassy (in a bad way), it’s nice to take a second to be grateful for all the goodness I have in my life. Lucky girl.

(But man, am I ready to be done!)

Happy Wednesday.

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