Tagged knitting

Siren Song

I got a skein of Madelinetosh Tosh Lace from another local Ravelry member, who was destashing. It was a great value, and the colours were totally my cuppa tea. The yarn itself has been discontinued, sadly. It is lovely.

The first thing I tried to make with it was a Wispy cardigan, but the laceweight was just a little too fine for my liking. I wasn’t thrilled with the fabric, so I frogged it half way through. I later tried this cardi with a heavier yarn, and ended up frogging that as well. I think this cardi just isn’t right for me.

The second attempt was a Bonny sleeveless top, but I couldn’t get gauge. I did eventually make a Bonny, with a different Madelinetosh yarn, and I love it, but that’s a post for another day.

I let the yarn sit in my stash a little while longer, until I finally stumbled upon the perfect pattern. Siren Song is lovely, and would be perfect for the green yarn with its flashes of lavender. I had more yarn than the pattern called for, so I modified it a little.

Because I was using laceweight yarn, I used size 4 needles instead of the required size 6 needles. I also knit extra repeats of the lace. The lace has three charts, all of which are easy to memorize. I unfortunately neglected to record how many repeats I did of each chart, but I know I did extra repeats of the medium and small waves. I had very little yarn left when I finished.

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My Ravelry project page is here, if you’re interested.

Cassiope Shawl

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Back in October, when I went to Knit City, I had the pleasure to meet Caitlyn Ffrench again. We met a couple of years ago at a Fluevog knit night. She’s an independent yarn dyer, using natural dyes, as well as a pattern designer. I’d never seen her yarns in person, so I grabbed a skein of her logwood dyed fingering, without any ideas other than knitting a shawl.

I originally wanted to knit one of her designs, but couldn’t find one that a) called to me at the moment, and b) I had enough yarn to knit. After a bit of Ravelry searching, I came across Cassiope. I knew it would be an easy project, and I had just the right amount of yarn.

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In the end, I had far more yarn than I needed, so I decided to add one repeat of the mesh lace after the chevron lace, and do a couple of extra garter stitch rows before binding off. And guess what? I still have a bit of yarn left over! I figure I’ve got enough to make some lace bracelets.

The yarn was lovely to work with and I’m happy with the finished shawl. The yarn is kettle dyed, so there are slight variations in intensity of colour, which I love. I look forward to wearing it!

My Ravelry page is here.

Hausti Shawl

DSC_4694This is an old(ish) project that I finally got around to taking photos of. I bought the yarn while on vacation in the Yukon & Alaska last summer. If you ever get the opportunity to visit Skagway, Alaska, visit Changing Threads (they recently changed their name to Aurora Yarns, but the website seems to be down).

I like to buy yarn when I visit a new place, so when I go on vacation, yarn comes home with me. On this trip, I bought a skein of Raven Frog Fiber Arts Marvelous Merino, which is listed as a sport weight yarn. I picked the Borscht colourway, which has all of my favourite autumn colours in it.

DSC_4683The pattern I chose was Hausti, since the autumn colours called for a leafy shawl.

DSC_4686I learned a new technique while knitting this shawl – i-cord cast on. I’ve never done it before, and it was easy. Tedious, since for every four stitches you knit, you only cast on one, but it makes a really nice sturdy edge that doesn’t stretch, so it supports the weight of the shawl nicely. It also doesn’t curl, which is a common issue with stockinette shawls.

My Ravelry page is here.

Snowflake Sweater

I don’t often post about knits that just don’t work out, but I’m going to do so today. Some time ago, I fell in love with the Snowflake sweater pattern from Tin Can Knits (they’re local, woo!) It’s a fantastic pullover, with a nice lace yoke. I never wear pullovers, because I get too hot, but ever since I saw the sample in person at Knit City, I was obsessed with it.

Back in November, Knit Picks had a too-good-to-pass-up sale on some of their yarns. Specifically, Capra, which is normally one of their most expensive yarns. It’s a soft, squishy merino cashmere blend, and has a beautiful, subtle halo after blocking. Only the tumeric colour was on sale, but since I love Autumn colours, I snapped up eight balls of it, along with the wine colour, since I decided this was the perfect yarn for the Snowflake sweater. The funny thing about my colour selection is that I accidentally picked Gryffindor colours, which is the Harry Potter house I was sorted into when I joined Pottermore. It would be my accidental Gryffindor sweater!

As soon as my yarn arrived, I swatched and started knitting. The yoke lace is a little confusing, but I found the help I needed on the Tin Can Knits forum on Ravelry, in this thread.

Once the lace was done, it was time to work out my bust shaping. I tried short row bust shaping, but the picked up wraps were incredibly ugly. Maybe a dark yarn would be okay, but on such a light colour, any imperfections show up and are obvious. I ripped back my bust shaping and tossed the sweater in time-out, until I could find a better way to accomplish my bust shaping.

I re-read Amy Herzog’s Fit to Flatter, but her instructions are typically for bottom up, seamed sweaters. It made my head hurt trying to work out the shaping on my top down, knit in the round sweater. I re-read Ysolda Teague’s Little Red in the City, and it was easier to work with, because she typically writes top down, knit in the round patterns, but I wasn’t really feeling the love on how she suggests that you work bust darts.

Off to the internet I went. Read the post from the Knitty Professors again, but it uses short row shaping as well as darts, and as I said before, I wanted to avoid that. After spending way too long searching, I came across a tutorial written by a Ravelry member named strickauszeit. In the tutorial, she discusses different methods of shaping a sweater bust, using darts, specifically in top down sweaters. Eureka! I did the math, and came up with my bust shaping. I posted the calculations on my Ravelry project page, if you’re interested.

DSC_4617Guess what? It worked like a charm.

Now for the bad news. I’ve come to accept that there’s a very good reason I don’t wear pullovers. They’re hot, and I can’t just take it off like I can if a cardigan gets too warm. We don’t want the decency police coming after me! Granted, I’d probably tell them where to go and how to get there, but that’s another topic. After all of the work I did to make the sweater work, I started having serious doubts about whether I’d ever even wear it. The more I thought about it, the more I came to accept that I wouldn’t. The sweater would sit in a drawer, with its nearly perfect bust shaping, and that would be that.

The other bad news is that I bought far too much of the wine coloured yarn, and not nearly enough of the tumeric. I could buy more, except Knit Picks is out of stock until April, which would mean that even if I did manage to wear my sweater, it wouldn’t be until October, at the earliest. The yarn would also be a different dye lot, which may or may not end up being a big deal. At this point, I completely lost my mojo and decided to frog it.

Is that the end of the story? Nope. A frogged knitting project, while not something I often write about, is not a failure by any means. I learned a lot on this sweater! I now have a bust shaping technique for top down sweaters that works! And I like the results! I also learned that if I have to do shaping on a field of stockinette, I should use a darker colour. Granted, blocking would have helped, but while blocking is magic, it doesn’t remedy everything. I also learned that my reality is that I overheat easily, and pullovers aren’t my thing. I do have a few pullover patterns in my Ravelry queue, but most of the ones I’m likely to knit can be modified using a steek, and voila, I’ll have an awesome cardigan!

Also, this yarn isn’t going into my stash, to be forgotten until I eventually find something to knit with it. Once I’ve gotten all of the kinks out of it, I’ll be knitting Caramel, which is a free pattern, and will be amazing in Capra. I guess buying too much of the wine colour was a lucky accident. It’s also a very forgiving sweater, because it’s draped, so no bust shaping!

As for the Snowflake pattern, if anyone I know produces offspring and I feel the desire to knit for the little one, I’ll reach for this pattern. I’m also really interested in modifying the yoke to make it a cardigan…Just give me some time, okay?

 

Blanket for teacherbaby

DSC_4578On Tuesday, my 10 year old son told me that his teacher’s last day before maternity leave is November 26. He said he wanted something for the baby, and asked me to make a blanket. No matter how hard I tried, I could not convince him that a hat would be perfectly acceptable, practical, and most importantly, easy for me to complete before Mrs. C. goes on leave.

No, only a blanket would do! She’s his favourite teacher. He gave me puppy dog eyes. I was done for.

On my way home on Wednesday, I stopped at Michaels to shop for yarn. I had plans to make the Pemberley Blanket, and decided that an Aran weight yarn was close enough, mostly because it was so inexpensive. The yarn I selected was only $2.50 per ball, but at regular price, it was nearly $7. None of the bulky yarns were on sale, so Aran it is!

I don’t normally like knitting with acrylic, but given that baby things get dirty easily and I can’t count on Mrs. C. knowing how to care for woolen knits, acrylic was the way to go. Also, the price was right. I sat down on Wednesday evening to knit, then had second thoughts about the pattern. I had limited time, so did I really want to knit a blanket that would require me to frequently refer back to the pattern? Instead, I decided to knit the Pine Forest Baby Blanket, since it is a two row, seven stitch repeat. I had it memorized by the fourth row.

In the end, I used two and a quarter balls of Loops & Threads Impeccable yarn.

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Before killing the acrylic.

I normally don’t like knitting with acrylic yarn. Call me a yarn snob if you will, but I don’t like how stiff the yarn is while working with it, or how it feels knitted up. The stiffness never seems to go away. This photo shows the finished blanket. While the lace is visible and open, rather than crumpled and closed like it would be if I’d used wool, it is also very bumpy and stiff. Not the nicest to have against a baby’s delicate skin. Normally, you’d block any knitted item, but you technically cannot block acrylic, because it doesn’t behave like wool does. It simply springs back to its original shape, and still feels stiff and bumpy.

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After killing the acrylic.

This is when the magic of “killing” acrylic yarn comes in. The trick is to use a lot of hot steam to slightly melt the acrylic fibers. Acrylic yarn is technically plastic, so you have to be really careful when doing this for two reasons. One, you don’t want to melt the yarn onto your iron. Two, there’s no going back. If you mess up, you can’t just steam it back to the shape you want it to be. This is fine for my blanket, because I wanted it bigger and more stretched out, but in a garment, you need to be accurate when killing your acrylic. You can see the difference between the before and after photos. In the second photo, the lace is opened up, and flat. It even looks softer. Unfortunately, you can’t feel the difference, but I’d happily wrap a baby in this blanket now, since the yarn has lost its stiffness and itchiness after being killed. The blanket grew by about a third in the process, which is great, because it’ll be useful for longer than if I hadn’t killed the acrylic.

This was my first go at killing acrylic. If you want to read more about it, there are loads of tutorials about it, but this is the one I used. Does this mean I’ll use more acrylic in my knitting? Probably not often, because it makes my wrists ache, but for baby gifts, I’d be willing to do so again. Just don’t ask me to knit a 600 yard blanket in less than a week.

I hope Mrs. C. likes the blanket. My Ravelry project page is here.

Cancans

In July, mIMG_20150722_155511_medium2-001y husband and I hopped on a plane and went to visit a friend of ours who lives in the wilderness of northern British Columbia. While we were visiting, I completed a pair of CanCans.

I made them with Knit Picks Palette, in the Lingonberry Heather colourway. I’m pretty pleased with them, but they do not fit me! I have slightly larger than average hands, and this pattern doesn’t come in multiple sizes, so I knew I was taking chances. I also didn’t swatch. I decided to keep them for a gift, since you never know when you need something to give away.

Turns out, one of the lovely people I have met online over the years needs a new pair of fingerless mitts. She’s got arthritis in her hands, so she’s not able to knit anymore. I sent these on to her, to keep her aching hands warm.

Ravelry project is here. The pattern is an easy knit, but I don’t like how the cables turned out according to the pattern. The pattern has you cabling without a cable needle, and some of the corners come out a little sloppy that way, so I used a cable needle instead. It slows you down, but the results are much nicer.

 

Denise 2 Go Knitting Needle Review

I was recently asked to write a review on Denise 2 Go knitting needles. I’ve never been asked to do a product review before, so I was pretty excited to take them for a spin (pun intended) and share my thoughts on them. I chose to try the small set, which includes US sizes 5-10, a 4mm crochet hook, three cables in different lengths (14″, 16″ and 19″), end buttons and an extender which allows you to join two cables together, in case you need a longer cable. The medium set includes sizes 10.5-15. There is also a crochet hook set available.

Initial Thoughts

DSC_4422Upon opening the box, I was surprised by how small the set of needles was. These needles are marketed as being portable and “petite”, and even if you carry a small purse, you could certainly toss the whole set of needles in and run out the door, prepared for any knitting emergency! I’ve never had a knitting emergency, but the small size of the set means it is perfect for travel. The set is lightweight, and weighs in at only 70 grams (about 2.5 ounces).

DSC_4425The needles are made of plastic, so again, they’d be great for travel. I don’t fly often, but I always limit myself to wooden needles for travel, because my stainless steel circulars are expensive to replace, and I’d hate to see my needles confiscated at security.

The small set includes US sizes 5-10 (3.75-6mm), which are the most common sizes. I personally use a size 4 needle quite frequently, so would have liked to see them in this set, but it is not a deal breaker for most people.

The needles fit snugly into the pockets, so that they don’t fall out easily if you turn the case upside down. Even when open, the case is small, and holds all of the essentials. The pocket beside the cable pocket only contains the end buttons and cable connector, so you could easily put stitch markers or a small pair of embroidery scissors in that pocket.


DSC_4429The needles are quite short, at a mere 4″ in length. I thought that the short length might make them challenging to knit with, but it didn’t, because of the thickness of the cable. The sizes are stamped into the plastic on each needle, making finding the size you need simple. There’s a groove at the base of each needle, to give you some grip when you attach them to the cables. There’s a hole in the connector, which is helpful if you use lifelines in your knitting.

 

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The connector is very effective. Rather than being threaded like my last two sets of interchangeable needles, the Denise 2 Go set has a plastic connector on the cable that you insert into the needle and twist slightly to lock. I’ve had issues in the past with threaded needles coming unscrewed, and the connection on these needles is nice and secure, which is fantastic. You don’t need a cable key to connect the needles to the cables, and there is no key included with the set.

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The Denise needles are reasonably pointy, with smooth tips. The needles themselves are quite smooth, considering that they’re made of plastic. They are pleasantly slippery, enough to allow the stitches to slide easily, but not so slippery that dropped stitches become an issue. The needle on the left is a size 5 stainless steel needle, from the set I use for all of my knitting. The needle on the right is the same size, from the Denise 2 Go set. You can see that the Denise needle is not as sharp and pointy as the steel needle, but it does have a nice, smooth point. There are no snags or rough spots on these needles.

When testing these needles, I did find that they weren’t sharp enough for tricky decreases (ie: purl three stitches together through the back loop, and knit three together) or knitting nupps, but they perform well for most decreases.

DSC_4426There are three cords, measuring 14″, 16″ and 19″, as well as an extender and two end buttons in the event that you need to take the needles off the cable for another project, or you need to use the cable as a stitch holder.

The cords are quite thick, and a bit stiff, so they are not suitable for magic loop knitting. Because of the stiffness of the cords, they do tend to hold their shape out of the case. I didn’t find that this interfered with knitting with them, and in any case, a bit of heat will straighten them out if needed. I found that running them under hot tap water was sufficient to get the bends out of the cable.

The joins on the cables look like they would catch your yarn as you knit, but they are surprisingly smooth.

A nice bonus is that the set includes a 4mm crochet hook. I always forget to bring a crochet hook with me when I travel, and sometimes I do need one. The crochet hook also can be attached to the cable.

The cotton fabric case is small, and seems well-constructed. The light colours of the case make it easy to find in your purse or knitting bag.

Swatches

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I knit these two swatches in bulky weight acrylic/wool blend yarn on size 9 needles. The swatch on the left was knit on the Denise needles, and the swatch on the right was knit on my stainless steel needles. The gauge on the Denise needles is 21 stitches and 14 rows = 4″ (left). The gauge on my stainless steel needles is 20.5 stitches and 13.5 rows = 4″ (right). I expected the gauge on the Denise needles to be looser than on my steel needles, so I was pleasantly surprised by how close the gauge was. I know the swatch on the right (with a tighter gauge) looks larger, but that’s because I knit a couple of extra rows.

Projects

DSC_4416To do a fair review, I decided to knit a couple of projects with the needles, with a variety of different types of yarn. The first was a Grandmother’s Favourite dishcloth, made with cotton yarn. Cotton yarn typically hurts my hands, because I’m a tight knitter, but these needles made knitting with cotton comfortable. I whipped up the dishcloth in under two hours. I managed to get two dishcloths out of this ball of yarn, knit on size 7 needles.

 

DSC_4438My second project was a New Bittersweet Cowl. I chose this project because it incorporates lace, so I would have to work yarn overs and decreases. I decided to knit this project using Berroco Ultra Alpaca, which is a 50/50 wool and alpaca blend. My Ravelry project page is here. Again, I had no issues with decreases on this project. The cable is thicker than I’m used to, so it felt a little unwieldy for the first few rows, but I got used to it pretty quickly. I found knitting this project quite enjoyable on these needles, and I’m happy with the finished cowl.

Both of these projects were done with reasonably thick yarn, and the needles were great. I decided to really torture test them, and pulled out some laceweight yarn. Unfortunately, there’s no project for this, because I got three rows in and discovered that laceweight yarn gets hung up on the join, and will not slide down onto the cable. This surprised me, because the needles performed so well and I had no issues with the joins while knitting with other yarns. I tested with Knit Picks Palette (a wool fingering weight yarn), and had no problem. I wouldn’t necessarily want to tackle a lace project on these needles anyway, because they’re not quite pointy enough for lace knitting.

Final Thoughts

For many of us, knitting is a very personal hobby, and it affects many of us emotionally. Some people knit because they find it soothing, so having quality tools makes all the difference in the world. I enjoyed working with these needles, and would definitely use them for future projects. The small size of the case is fantastic for travel, so I’d bring these with me on future adventures, especially if I’m flying. They don’t replace my stainless steel needles, but they’re a great set for most projects, comfortable to knit with, and they’re a good value.

You can purchase your own set of Denise 2 Go needles here.

Pros

  • Small size
  • Plastic is great for travel
  • Lightweight
  • Tips are reasonably pointy
  • Good variety of sizes and cable lengths in the set
  • Most yarn weights do not catch on the join (I tested with laceweight, fingering, worsted and bulky)
  • Good for knitting in the round or flat
  • Comes with a crochet hook
  • Easy joins that do not come loose
  • Sturdy cables
  • Made in USA
  • Compatible with other Denise interchangeable needles

Cons

  • Not suitable for Magic Loop
  • Needles are not pointy enough for more complicated decreases (ie: purling more than two stitches together), or making nupps.
  • Laceweight yarn gets hung up on join
  • Feminine colours (not all knitters like pastel colours)
  • Cables retain their bent shape when they come out of the case, but are easily straightened using heat (ie: blowdryer, sitting in the sun, running under hot water, etc.)
  • No size 4 needles in the set (I frequently use this size, but not everyone does, so it may not be a big deal to you)

 

 

Owligan

A while back, while attempting to use up stash, I came across Kate Davies’ Owligan pattern. I was looking to use up some Knit Picks Swish bulky, and this pattern was suggested by Ravelry. Sadly, the yarn wasn’t quite bulky enough, nor did I have sufficient yardage, but the pattern was perfect in every way. Fast knit, since the gauge is so chunky. No fussy fitting. Perfect for fall weather. Owls. How could I just queue it?

Since I didn’t have any suitable yarn, I ran out right away to buy some. So much for stashbusting! I went to Urban Yarns, a shop I’d never visited before, so it was a fun adventure. I was so pleased with myself too, because I only bought yarn for my cardigan.

The yarn I chose was Cascade Eco+, in the Turtle colourway. It’s a beautiful, neutral heathered green, perfect for Autumn. The cardigan calls for a bulky 12 ply yarn, which is what Eco+ is, but the lady at Urban Yarns looked up the suggested yarns and told me I’d be best off holding the Eco+ doubled. I swatched on size 13 needles and got perfect gauge the first time. This isn’t the softest yarn, but it does soften quite a lot after blocking.

I started this sweater in July, because doesn’t everyone love having a lap full of chunky wool in the heat of summer? No? I must have been crazy then. It took a month to finish, which is longer than I thought it would take, but in the meantime, I knit a couple of other things and finished my rainbow shawl, as well as doing some traveling, so I didn’t work on this constantly. I probably could have finished it in two weeks if I’d focused on it. My sister in law was rather disgusted with me, because I visited her and while visiting, I cast on a sleeve, which I had nearly finished by the time I said good bye to her. If you’re looking for a fast, easy, fun, satisfying knit, this cardigan definitely fits the bill.

DSC_4356The pattern suggests button eyes for the owls, but I prefer them without. I liked the rustic look of the sweater, so I chose wood buttons from Dressew. The sweater construction is interesting, and not difficult. It’s knit from the bottom up – you knit up to the underarm, set the body aside, knit the sleeves (flat or in the round, I chose flat), attach them to the body, then you knit the yoke. The cables are simple enough, just left and right crosses, so there are no difficult stitches to learn. I knit the yoke in an evening.

DSC_4371-001I made two minor modifications to the pattern. I didn’t want a long cardigan, so I shortened it. This meant that I had to figure out the button band myself, because the number of stitches the pattern said to pick up would have been far too many. The other modification I made was to add short row bust shaping. Because of the large gauge, it ended up being only two short rows on each side, but the sweater doesn’t ride up in front, so I call that a success.

This photo doesn’t accurately show the colour of the sweater, but the closeup of the yoke does. I probably could have made the sleeves an inch shorter, but I’m not fussed about that (the sweater is meant to be worn with the cuffs folded up). I’m very pleased with my new sweater, and it’s getting a lot of use so far. I’d love to knit another, but with a different cable motif next time. My Ravelry project page is here.

 

Seeing Rainbows

Spring Thaw shawlIt’s been a month since I posted, because I really haven’t had any finished objects to share. It’s been a busy summer, with taking my daughter to visit her grandparents and a two week visit from her best friend, which included a camping trip.

After knitting my last sweater, I had several false starts on other projects, so I wanted something that would be easy and mindless to knit. I also wanted it to be fun.

I came across the Spring Thaw shawl pattern, which looked simple enough, and it is a free pattern to boot! I had this gorgeous rainbow Kauni yarn in my stash, which I had purchased with the intention of making a shawl, so I grabbed my needles and started knitting.

Spring Thaw shawlWith this yarn, as you knit and the shawl gets larger, the colour bands get narrower. When I first started the shawl, it felt like the yellow would never transition to the next colour. My only complaint with the pattern is that it doesn’t give any advice as to how many repeats you need to do for your yardage. I believe I ended up with 15 repeats of the leaf chart before moving on to the intermediate edging. I didn’t really keep track though, so I could be wrong.

Spring Thaw, knitting on BC FerriesOne of the great things about this pattern is that the leaf lace is incredibly easy to read, and I found that once I’d knit the chart a couple of times, I didn’t need to refer back to it, so it made this project ideal for travelling.

I took this picture of knitting while on the way to Nanaimo to pick my daughter up from her week with her grandparents. I am currently using it as my profile picture on Ravelry, because I think it’s a cute photo.

Soaking Spring ThawThe night before we went camping on the Sunshine Coast, I blocked the shawl. It had been sitting for several days, because I didn’t want to block it on the bed, but since my son is away at his dad’s house for the summer, I used his bedroom floor.

Kauni is NOT a soft yarn. It’s actually quite rough, which is part of the reason I used it in a shawl, rather than a sweater, which has more skin contact. Because of the roughness of the yarn, I opted to soak it for about an hour in Eucalan and some rich hair conditioner. Sounds strange, but it does really help!

Spring Thaw, leaf detailHere’s the shawl, blocking. You can see the leaf detail. My apologies for the poor image quality on this one, it’s an Instagram photo, and I didn’t have enough lighting. My project page on Ravelry is here if you’re so inclined.

While camping, I knit a hat and started a sweater, but those are projects for another post. I also started a bulky weight sweater (yes, I started a bulky sweater in summertime, because I am completely insane and like to cook myself under a pile of yarn). The bulky sweater is coming along nicely, and I should be finished in a week or so.

 

 

 

Summer is not for knitters

Knitters, do you ever find yourself in a rut? I am right now. I am exceedingly bored with my daughter’s scarf, and haven’t touched it in weeks. I have had one outright sweater failure, and I’m not sure about the sweater I’m knitting now. I will probably frog it, because I’m not in love.

This tends to happen to me in the summer. I want to knit sweaters and shawls for fall, but it’s just too hot to knit. So instead, I find myself browsing Ravelry, looking for something to knit that won’t require a trip to the yarn shop, but since I’ve got sweaters on my mind, nothing else will do!

I even reached out to my friends on Facebook, asking them for ideas for something quick, since I’m in a rut and I don’t want a project that needs swatching, and I want it to be quick and dirty. I’ll probably knit up some cancans, because I have loads of fingering and I love fingerless gloves…