yarn love challenge

I’ve been having so much fun participating in the February #yarnlovechallenge on instagram! Since the challenge is now half done, I thought I’d share a roundup of my posts here. To see the rest, tune in to my instagram over at @theclosestknit!

day 1: intro/oops

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Worldwide Knit in Public Day, June 2017

Day 1 of #yarnlovechallenge! I’m Kristen, an avid knitter, runner, and amateur vegan cook. I’m also a Ph.D. candidate in Early Modern European History writing a dissertation on poor relief and social welfare in 16th-century Switzerland — so when I’m not crafting or cooking, I’m researching for my dissertation project and teaching online courses! This term I’m teaching a course on the Black Death, and I’m planning an early world history course for this summer. My oops is that I don’t have a picture of me knitting since Worldwide Knit in Public Day last June — but I’ve been growing out my pixie cut since then!

day 2: volume

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our home full of handknits

For #yarnlovechallenge Day 2 (volume), here is a stack of all of the handknits in our home! The volume and color really speak to my knitting journey over the last several years. The stack includes the hat I made for my then-boyfriend for our first Christmas years ago (grey), the wedding shawl my mom knit for me (yellow), our Christmas stockings (my first colorwork project!) and various other triumphs, milestones, and learning points along the way — that light grey scarf is when I finally learned that I was twisting my stitches, for example.

day 3: soothing

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monochromatic chevron baby blanket

Day 3 of #yarnlovechallenge is soothing, and this monochromatic baby blanket is one of my most soothing knitting projects. This is an easy baby blanket (pattern by Espace Tricot, the premier yarn shop in Montréal) that I’ve knit several versions of in easy-to-wash, soft acrylics. Acrylic yarn isn’t usually my preferred fiber, but it is when I’m knitting for new babies and new moms! This is a soothing knit because it’s *just* more complicated than stockinette to hold your attention, but simple enough to really allow you to be mindful while knitting.

 

day 4: snack

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green smoothie, green cowl

For day 4 of #yarnlovechallenge I’ve matched my cowl to my favorite snack: a green smoothie! I make a green smoothie almost every day, and I especially love one after a run. My go-to recipe is 1 banana + 1/2 a gala apple + 4 oz apple juice + 3 huge handfuls of baby spinach + 5 ice cubes (yields 2 servings). Pro tip: always add the greens after your other ingredients, and the ice cubes on top to help push them down!

 

 

day 5: style

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my signature aesthetic

Day 5 of #yarnlovechallenge is style, so here it is, my signature aesthetic! I like to think of it as “elven princess.” My preferences are usually for greens from forest to emerald, and other jewel tones, especially sapphire blue and royal purple. I almost always gravitate toward greens when knitting for myself, including my first pair of socks (worsted weight), my green cowl, and even my Knit Picks interchangeable needles in majestic!

 

 

day 6: colorwork

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colorwork christmas stockings

My first-ever colorwork for day 6 of #yarnlovechallenge — super colorful and super huge Christmas stockings! I made these stockings for myself, then-fiancé, and parents-in-law-to-be for Christmas 2016, and I’m happy to say that they all came out of storage for Christmas 2017! I loved making these colorful stockings and this project definitely inspired me to make more projects with fair isle (although I haven’t made too many since). I used the free pattern Cascade Christmas Stockings and worsted weight yarn leftover from baby blankets for these. [Follow link to ravelry project page.]

 

day 7: designer

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knit picks encircled collection

One of my absolute favorite knitwear designers is Kristen TenDyke. My most favorite recent pattern by Kristen is Julie’s Sweater in the newest Knit Picks collection, Windward. It’s gorgeous! In this picture is another Knit Picks collection, Encircled, which features Kristen’s design Spanra Pullover. Kristen ran a giveaway of the book on her blog in October, and I won! I suggested a very elven color combination for the sweater’s yoke, which Kristen mocked up on her blog (see picture below). I hope to cast-on some designs by Kristen soon!

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day 8: prep

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prepping for travel knitting

Day 8 of #yarnlovechallenge is prep, and I’ve been prepping for some travel knitting! Here’s my travel bag coming together for the Carolina FiberFest KAL which I’ll be knitting next week on my way to Switzerland and France. Things I always keep in my travel bag for knitting: safety pin, yarn needle, bobby pins, pencil, mini index cards for mod notes, tape measure, stitch markers, and end caps for my interchangeable needles. Also pictures: Cookie + Kate’s cookbook Love Real Food which I’ve been using for all my cooking prep recently!

day 9: view

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Bolin Creek Trail in Chapel Hill, NC

For the day 9 prompt of #yarnlovechallenge (view) here’s the view from my local running trail. I run or walk on this trail nearly every day — it’s my favorite place to recharge, clear my head, and find knitspiration!

day 10: novelty

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jumbo weight hat

My novelty item for day 10 of #yarnlovechallenge is this jumbo-weight knit hat with giant faux-fur pom I made last winter. Nothing was more on-trend last year than the thickest weight yarn (this is Knit Picks Super Tuff Puff in mint), and the novelty giant fur toppers continue to be trendy this year! The pattern I used here is Purl Soho’s Homestretch Hat.

 

 

 

day 11: smell

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new Alice project bag

For day 11 of #yarnlovechallenge – smell – I couldn’t resist posting this yarn splurge I snagged from The Farmers Daughter Fibers last week! Four mini-skeins of DK and this gorgeous Alice-patterned project bag from 406 Creative Vibe came with a cute little lavender sachet and smelling _amazing_! And as a bonus in this pic: I just found out that Girl Scout S’mores cookies are vegan 🙂

 

 

 

day 12: worn

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no filter for true colors!

For #yarnlovechallenge day 12, worn, here’s my most-worn knit item: my Paris By Day wrap made with three skeins of Baah! La Jolla. I love this wrap and wear it all the time! (Ps: no filter so you can really see the colors of the yarn!)

Details on the pattern & yarn available on my ravelry project page.

 

 

 

day 13: publication

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knitting books at the library

For #yarnlovechallenge day 13 – publication – I stopped by my favorite place to find a new (to me) knitting publication: my local library! I love perusing the shelves for interesting knitting books I’d likely never find on my own, and especially those on vintage-inspired knitwear. A few of the more *interesting* books I noticed today: No Sheep for You, domiKNITrixand Knitting with Balls

 

 

 

day 14: yarn love

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historic handspun wool

Rounding out week 2 of #yarnlovechallenge on Valentine’s Day with the prompt yarn love — so I’m sharing the story behind this lavender handspun wool. I picked it up last fall at a small store in Carouge, on the outskirts of Geneva in Switzerland. It was spun in a nearby Alpine village, where a group of women have been spinning as a way to earn money since the early 20th century. This wool stems from those early years, and was likely spun in the 1910s. (!) How could you not love this yarn?? I bought two balls (190 grams total), which I’m hoping will be enough to work up into a wall hanging. If you’re ever in Geneva, make sure to stop by Tricolaine! I especially recommend going on a Saturday morning during the Carouge market.


There are still two more weeks of the #yarnlovechallenge! See my posts for the next fourteen days over on my instagram: @theclosestknit.

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my knitting wishlist

I have a record number of WIPs on my needles right now and a few blog posts brewing, and nothing ready to share off-the-needles. So I thought it would be fun to share a bit of a knitting wishlist

items I’m itching to cast-on

Rourou by Michiyo

IMG_9080_medium2My mom and I saw the Rourou knit up as a sample at a trunk show at the Hillsborough Yarn Shop in September and we both loved it. I have the yarn and the pattern (thanks mom!) and I’ve had it in my ravelry queue since October, but have been putting off starting this knit, mostly because I’m nervous about making gauge!

 

photo from terumiw’s project page on ravelry

Carbeth by Kate Davies

carbeth_11_copy_medium2I first encountered this sweater on a blog post by Mason-Dixon Knitting. How could you not be inspired by designer Kate Davies’ gorgeous photos in that cropped sweater?

 

photo from Kate Davies’ pattern page on ravelry

Vintage Stockings

I love perusing the library for knitting books, and I recently checked out this vintage knits book by Claire Montgomerie. I love the patterns — especially those from the 20s and 30s — but have really been taken by the Over-the-Knee Stocking pattern (from the “Thrifty Forties”). If I ever get my hands on lush enough yarn, I might cast these on!

Hank and Hook Rapunzel scarf

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I first saw Hank and Hook’s Rapunzel Scarf on instagram when the design was still in progress and they were running a contest to name the scarf (I suggested Katharine, after actress & knitter Katharine Hepburn). I’ve never knit bobbles before and I know I’d love having this scarf, but I always find scarves to take so long that I never have the patience to knit them!

 

photo from Hank and Hook’s ravelry pattern page

 

yarn I’m dreaming of knitting up

  1. knit picks wool of the andes tweed in sequoia heather
  2. purl soho mulberry merino in black green
  3. madtosh tosh merino light + glitter in fragile
  4. juicy dk in ghost dance (from the farmers daughter fibers)
  5. the new knit picks yarn: provincial tweed

 

gear I’m dreaming of adding to my collection

  1. addi flexiflips — so popular, they’re sold out everywhere!
  2. Yarn Pop clutchable knitting bag in white anemones or decade
  3. subscription to yarncrate (although I’m not sure I need more yarn in my stash right now!)

 

Specs: knitwear designer roundup

Knitwear designers linked in this post:

Michiyo: find the rourou here // find her ravelry store here
Kate Davies: find the carbeth here // find her ravelry store here
Claire Montgomerie: find her ravelry store here
Hank and Hook: find the rapunzel scarf here // find their ravelry store here

more baby knits

I’ve just finished another set of baby knits for a pair of my college friends who are expecting this spring. They met freshman year in a calculus class (that’s where you always meet your soulmate, right?) and have been such a solid pair ever since. I wrote a poem for their wedding, near her hometown in Oregon over Labor Day weekend several years ago, and was so pleased that they were able to come for my wedding this past summer in Alaska. Since my knitting is much more useful than my poetry-writing skills (and, really, just much better overall), I wanted to make them something special as they mark this new phase in their journey together.

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I chose some soft, cozy gender-neutral yarn that has been languishing in my stash for several months: a discontinued line of Loops & Threads that I had picked up during a clearance sale. (Don’t worry, there’s still plenty of Loops & Threads yarn for baby knits!) This yarn knit up into a delightful baby-version of tweed, with grey and almost mustard-colored bits sprinkled throughout the stockinette.

I used the baby sweater pattern I usually use, but since this yarn is a light worsted weight and to make a smaller size, I went down to size 4 needles — and the finished sweater is sized 6-9 months. I barely used the second skein, so I wanted to make a few more matching knits for this bébé-to-be.

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I decided that whatever else I made should be primarily stockinette to match, and I settled on Heather Tucker’s free, simple, and clearly written pattern Basic Baby Hat. The baby sizes offered in this pattern are  premie, newborn, and 12 month, so I settled on the 12 month size to go with the sweater I’d already made. When you fold up the ribbed border, as shown in some of my pictures, it brings the overall size down enough to fit in the 6-9 month range, I think (hope).

With over 100 yards left, I thought I’d whip up a pair of baby mittens based on the pattern from Marianna’s Lazy Daisy Days Blog. (Side note: I recently came across a cabled baby sweater pattern from Marianna’s blog, and I think I might actually be mixing it up and trying that for my next baby sweater!) Baby mitts are fast and easy because they don’t require thumbs, and use the tiniest amount of yarn (mine used less than 30 yards!) — perfect for leftovers.

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knitting up the mitts

The sizes of the finished items vary widely: the sweater is 6-9 months, the hat 12 months, and the mitts 0-3 months. Usually a matching set should also match in size so that each piece can be worn together at the same time. But I’ve decided that the variety I’ve created is a feature rather than a bug of this set: these hand knits will last for the full first year of baby’s life!

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I’m looking forward to sending these gifts off, and to focusing on some adult-sized items soon. Now on my needles: the KAL for the Carolina Fiber Fest.

Specs

yarn: loops & threads poppy (discontinued) in dusty yellow (1.64 skeins total = 390 yards // sweater 1.11 skeins = 264 yards // hat 0.41 skein = 98 yards // mitts 0.12 skein = 29 yards)

needles: sweater size 4 circular // hat size 4 DPNs // mitts sizes 4 & 6 DPNs (used as straight needles)

patterns: sweater Midnight Sun by Kathleen Meggitt (available for purchase in her eBook on ravelry) // basic baby hat (free) //  quick baby mittens (free) — I used the Ribbon Bow Baby Mittens but skipped the eyelet row

finished sizes: sweater 6-9 months // hat 12 months // mittens 0-3 months

ravelry project pages: dusty yellow baby sweater // baby hat // baby mitts

buttons: 5/8 inch buttons in grey // similar here

 

disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links

the year of the socks

My New Year’s (knitting) resolution is to learn to knit socks. How can you be a real knitter, I asked myself, if you can’t knit socks?*  And so my 2018 has been destined to be the Year of the Socks.

To be kind to myself, I thought I should start with a heavier-weight sock on bigger needles as I learn the basics (since the only sock-like things I’ve ever knitted were enormous, colorful Christmas stockings). After poking around the knitternet, I found an old and heavily vetted pattern for worsted weight socks, “Easy Peasy Socks for First-Timers.” As a sock first-timer, this seemed like just the ticket.

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about to turn my first heel at the RDU airport!

After casting onto my DPNs on a Tuesday evening, I was turning my first heel by Wednesday afternoon at the airport, and finished my first ever sock by that evening. (For a helpful video on turning the heel, see the video I’ve linked in specs.) My first sock in less than twenty-four hours! Success! I finished sock two by Friday evening — no second-sock syndrome with such a quick, satisfying project.

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my first sock!

In case you’re wondering about that safety pin: I wanted to mark where I began decreasing for the toe so that I wouldn’t have to guess when I knit up the second sock.

The yarn I chose, Lion Brand Heartland, is actually aran weight (that is, heavy worsted) rather than the worsted weight called for in the pattern (oops). This worked out fine for me, likely because I have larger-than-average feet. Unless you wanted to whip up these socks for feet larger than average (or for men’s sizes), I would stick to a traditional worsted weight.

I can’t recommend this pattern enough — the designer, Stacey Trock, wrote it in a very chatty way with helpful hints that makes it feel more like a class than just decoding a pattern. If I knit this pattern in the future (and I think I will), the one change I would make is to go down a needle size for the cuff to help it sit a bit tighter on the ankle.

 

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I’m ready to move on to socks made with sock yarn! Coming soon to my DPNs: Voolenvine’s Favorite Socks. Do you have any sock pattern recs?

*Or adult-sized sweaters, but one thing at a time.

Specs

yarn: Lion Brand Heartland in Kings Canyon (3/4 skein = 178 yards)

needles: size 5 DPNs

pattern: Easy Peasy Socks for First-Timers by Stacey Trock (free pattern via ravelry)

finished size: women’s size 10

ravelry project page: find it here

helpful hints: I used this video to understand turning the heel, and I learned kitchener stitch from this tutorial

also in this post: my favorite Loops & Threads project bag // my sparkly wool keds high tops are no longer available, but similar style here

disclaimer: this blog post contains affiliate links

finished baby duo, just in time

Just over three weeks into the New Year and I’ve now finished my baby duo for expectant friends due this spring: a knit-on-the-bias blanket and now, a little matching cardigan.

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This is an easy, stockinette top-down baby sweater from Kathleen Meggitt’s eBook A Baker’s Dozen Top-Down Baby Sweater Designs (available for purchase on Ravelry) — this is the basic, first pattern “Midnight Sky.” But I think of this as a family pattern: Kathy is a friend of my mom’s and in my hometown knitting guild, and my mom test knit most of the sweaters now in Kathy’s book.

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My dear momma came to visit my husband and me in our new hometown of Chapel Hill, North Carolina for Labor Day, just a few weeks after we moved. I had asked her to bring this trusted pattern so that I could finally, finally learn to knit the wee sweater she and my sister knit in the dozens for my nephew (who is now an active & adorable eighteen-month-old) when my sister was pregnant. I was laboriously knitting chevron blankets (like this one) while they were churning out these little buttoned marvels.

Now I’ve joined the sweater club! After test knitting in some extra worsted I had lying around, this is my first “real” try at any kind of sweater. I’m most pleased with the results, and I’m sort-of hoping that learning some of the techniques in baby size will help me when I brave starting an adult size sweater!

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Soon I’ll be packing up this duo to mail over to our friends in Cambridge, and I hope this gift adds to their anticipation.

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Specs

yarn: Knit Picks Brava Worsted in Custard (1.4 skeins = 306 yards)

needles: US Size 5 circulars, 32″ for the body and 24″ for the sleeves (using Knit Picks interchangeables and the included end caps makes it easy to split for the sleeves)

buttons: the cheapest 1/2″ white buttons I could find. Similar here.

pattern: Midnight Sky in A Baker’s Dozen Top-Down Baby Sweater Designs by Kathleen Meggitt (available for purchase on Ravelry)

finished size: 9 – 12 months

ravelry project page: find it here

also in this post: my favorite Knit Picks tote bag

first cast-on & cast-off of 2018

New year, new blog! I kicked off the New Year by casting on a comfy, cozy, classic: an oh-so-gender-neutral garter stitch yellow & white baby blanket knit on the bias. Switching up the yellow and white stripes mid-blanket gives this classic a bit of a modern pop, I think. I’m planning on pairing this wee blankie with a matching sweater for a baby-to-be due this spring.

 

I cast-on in Boston in the midst of the bomb cyclone, and never has this classic spring palette felt more out of place! Back home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, we’ve recovered from the unseasonably cold weather and are back up to 60 degrees. Although the forecast shows more winterish days ahead, the custard yellow definitely feels a bit more right here.

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This was my first time knitting on the bias, as well as my first time with a crochet hook to make that scalloped edge. I love the diagonal results of knitting on the bias, but I didn’t love having what felt like a million stitches on the needles in the middle! I did make the ‘larger’ size suggested by the pattern, though, so maybe I would have felt more comfortable with the smaller size suggested (which the pattern describes as ‘premie’ appropriate). This particular pattern definitely requires some sort of edging — it simply looks too unfinished without it. I settled on a scalloped crochet edge (using the tutorial for scalloped edging from Very Pink Knits) rather than the pattern’s suggested edge, which is more akin to a picot.

If I were to knit a corner-to-corner blanket again (which I’m sure I will), I would choose a different pattern that was a bit more readable and had a cleaner edge.

On the needles next: the matching cardigan to complete this gift set!

Specs

yarn: Knit Picks Brava Worsted in Custard (1.9 skeins = 416 yards) & White (1.4 skeins = 306 yards)

needles: US Size 7 circulars // crochet hook size H

pattern: Dream Dates by Drops Design 

finished size: 33.5″ x 22.5″ (essentially stroller sized)

ravelry project page: find it here

also in this post: NPR’s Nina Totin’ Bag // Knit Picks enamel pin [not for sale — similar here]

welcome to [the closest knit]

Welcome to [the closest knit] — my new medium to explain, exhibit, and express myself through knitting. It wouldn’t be wrong (although it might be blasé) if you called this a ‘passion project.’ Although I’ve been knitting for nearly ten years (!), I’ve only recently begun to focus on the creation of beautiful & useful finished projects — previously, my focus was on the process of knitting, rather than the end results. Although the process is still paramount in my knitting, I’ve begun to branch out to new projects, and am eager to share the results. Continue reading “welcome to [the closest knit]”