About Woolly Wits

I am a hand-knitting designer and teacher. See and purchase my published designs on Ravelry.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Lessons from Stash Dash 2016

The handspun yarn for these Lowland
hats was a prize at Stitches MW
back when it was in St. Paul, MN!
This past Sunday evening at midnight was the closing of Stash Dash for 2016.  It was thoughtfully timed to conclude with the closing of the Olympics so that any Ravellenics projects could count towards both goals.  For one of these goals, I raced ahead of the pack to the finish, while for the other I didn't make my (secret) goal, but still achieved a personal best.

So what did I learn from my busy summer of knitting?

1.  Stash Dash is about clearing out stash.  This year I dug deep and pulled out some yarns that had been moldering in stash for a decade or more.  One hat I knit from 20 year old stash!  I had less success with a sweater's worth of yarn from a long-ago Michigan Fiber Festival, but maybe inspiration will strike again.

All that was found was a cuff,
but it became a charity hat
 and mitten set.
2.  Stash Dash is about clearing out UFOs.  On a rainy Saturday a few weeks before the start of SD, I pulled out all my UFOs (un-finished objects).  There was quite a pile and some projects were so old they had never been entered in Ravelry.  There were also several that had been 'in progress samples' for classes I had not taught in years.  If they had been started, even just a cuff of a single mitten, my goal was to get them done!  I was very successful in this, generating a big pile of FOs towards #4 and #5.

Only a few stitches left in the bind off
of my Ashburn shawl.  
3.  Preparation is key.  Once I assembled that pile of UFOs, I pulled out the close-to-finished items and got them to very-nearly-almost-finished.  Since to count for SD an item must be actively knit (or crocheted) and not just finished, I made a pile of items awaiting only a few more bound off stitches.  This was the key to hitting over 2K by the end of the first week and 3.2K by the end of the second.

4.  Charity knitting can be used to introduce fun, quick patterns.  I knit two full sweaters during SD and since I am not model sized, they do take time.  Mixing in some charity hats didn't slow my sweater progress too much, but were a nice break.

My pre-Stash Dash pile of UFOs.
5.  Summer is a great time to get a jump on holiday gifting.  I now have several hats, a few mittens/fingerless mitts and even some shawls set aside for presents.

6.  Yarn bombing creates a new stash of Red Heart Super Saver.  This summer I've been working on two different yarn bomb projects.  Since I think a yarn bomb should be all about crazy color, I've purchased more than a few skeins of Red Heart at my neighborhood JoAnn's using the weekly 40% off coupon.  I think that next summer I will set a goal to knit down this new stash, perhaps by working up a bunch of charity Mother Bears.

So what was my final Stash Dash 2016 total?  11, 703 meters.  Pretty respectable for just knit and crochet projects with no spinning or weaving.  But . . . perhaps I'll start now on that scrappy sock blanket with a deadline of next Memorial Day?


Monday, July 18, 2016

It's Already Fall!

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#21 Cable Detail Vest by Theresa Schabes
from Vogue Knitting, Early Fall, 2016
Copyright Soho Publishing
Well, it is already fall in the publishing world with the release of Vogue Knitting's Early Fall issue featuring my Multi-directional cabled vest design.

This vest was inspired by a ready-to-wear piece that featured multiple zippers as well as multiple directions.  Since many knitters shy away from installing zippers, I substituted bands of braided cables as the decorative trim.  On the back I traveled the cables diagonally up so that they create a flattering moving line.  On the front of the vest they are not only decorative but functional, as they form the opening of the pocket bag.

As with my recent Silk Garden swing cardi, this vest begins by knitting the back, and then the two front pieces are picked up from the side edge and worked vertically around to center front.  The only seam to be sewn is a short shoulder seam, and that is worked mid-project before the collar is completed.

I love the way the VK folks styled the vest with neutral pieces and a neutral background.  Really happy with this project!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Are You Ready for Stash Dash?

It's the time of year where the avid knitter (or crocheter or spinner or tatter or weaver) gears up for Stash Dash. " What's Stash Dash?" the uninitiated might ask.  SD is the brainchild of Leslie and Laura, and their very popular video podcast, The Knit Girlls, Laura works as a middle school librarian, and so with summers off work, she needed to go a little insane with knitting.  And to quantify that insanity, they started SD.  The objective of SD is to clear out some stash and finish off some lingering projects.  All projects completed during the summer are totaled by the number of meters and entered into a category - 3K, 5K, 7K, 10K or 15K.  (See the full rules here.)

My one linger large project - Skyliner crochet skirt.
Unless you have hands that move like lightning and no fear of carpal tunnel, the way to get high meterage is by finishing projects.  Even if you only knit one row and bind off, all the meters for the project are included towards your total.  This is great for the procrasti-knitter with piles of UFOs.  For the more devious, it's an excuse to work your projects almost to the end and then put them aside until May 27th.

Last year I made it to 10K, but that was with the advantage of a crochet afghan which was well underway.  This year I only have one large lingering project, so I will be burning my wrists to get to that total again.

Here's a review of the smaller projects which will jump start my total:

My Passerine Hat which was worked up to the last row just this morning.  It desparately needs blocking, but will wait until the 27th.

These fingerless mitts were almost done, and then, for an unknown reason, yanked from the needles and set aside.  They are knit a little loosely for my taste, but with a little time investment they will be a good contribution to both charity and my SD total.

I've also got a couple mystery projects.  What?  Who?  Why?  I'll make a guess and finish them off.
 I've got some design work to do this summer, and for the first time in years I am going to knit a sweater for my husband.  Since this is my year to conquer sock knitting, I should have a few of those in the pile, too.

Goo luck to all the contestants in this year's race.  To the starting gate, ladies and gentlemen.




Tuesday, May 3, 2016

This One is Mine

In my last post I told the story of how I knit two very similar sweaters.  Today is the story of how I knit a third.

This was my very first published design that I knit for myself.  It's not that I didn't like my other sweaters.  Or that they weren't fun to knit or flattering designs.  It just that once you've knit a sweater to fit a model, re-knitting it to fit a regular human body with a chest measurement of upwards of 40" is a long slog.  And you also don't have the page-turning mystery of how it will turn out.  The beans have been spilled.

But this one is different.  I really love the shape.  With the angled side edges, the front pieces flare back to create a very flattering v-neck.  And, since it is a modular construction with each piece building off the previous pieces, it's a fun puzzle with no nasty seams.  And, I just happened to have a bag of Silk Garden Lite that had been marinating in my stash for just long enough to be ready to knit.

I've been really astonished about the reaction to this sweater.  Everybody wants to try it on, and, once checked in the mirror, everybody wants their own.  I'll be leading a knit-along at my LYS, Knitch, in Delafield, Wisconsin, beginning later in May.  Give them a call for details or leave me a comment.

Friday, April 29, 2016

My New Favorite, Redux

Noross16cardigans_04_small2
#12 Waterfall Cardigan
from Noro Knitting Magazine Spring/Summer 2016
copyright sixth & spring

A few weeks I shared with you the reveal of the drape front cardigan which I had designed for the book Noro Silk Garden: The 20th Anniversary Collection.  I am very proud of it, and the folks at Vogue Knitting/Sixth & Spring apparently were, too.  They asked me to knit it again in a slightly modified version for the spring issue of Noro Magazine which has just hit the newsstands.  
Drape Front Cardiganfrom Noro Silk Garden: the 20th Anniversary Collectioncopyright sixth & spring
How are the two sweaters different?  They do use the same shape and modular construction, but are worked in different yarns and vary in their patterning.  The book version is in the lighter weight Silk Garden Sock and Sock Solo.  The back and sleeves are in the solid Sock Solo and the front is worked in the color-changing Silk Garden Sock.  
Noross16cardigans_03_small2The magazine version is worked in one color way of Silk Garden, but in two row alternating stripes.  Some attention needs to be paid to maintaining contrast, particularly because Noro tends to have knots connecting two starkly contrasting segments of the color way.  But, other than that occasional blip, two row stripes are not significantly more challenging than solid patterning, and they do give a big bang for your knitting buck.  
But why stop at two variations?  In my next post I'll show you something I rarely do.
  








  




Thursday, April 14, 2016

Gratitide





Alternate Route
Thanks to knitters everywhere for the tremendous support of my new entrelac scarf design, Alternate Route.  Released on Monday, it hit the top five 'hot right now' within a few hours, and had 3,200 downloads within 24 hours.  Wow.
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CodaChrome

If I've inspired anyone to further pursue entrelac, I do have several other patterns in my Ravelry shop.

Panier Purse

In return, you all have inspired me.  My entrelac hat pattern, All Squared Up, is my oldest pattern, and could use an update as some of the sample yarns have been discontinued.  I am pushing this higher up the priority list, and hope to have the re-release to you soon.
All Squared Up
Again, thank you!!!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Alternate Route: An Entrelac Scarf With a Different Approach

What happens when you give a pile of Noro SilkGarden yarn scraps to an entrelac knitting instructor?  Well, in this case, a great new scarf design, Alternate Route.


When this pile of Silk Garden scraps called out to be a scarf, I turned to my teaching pattern.  This creates an entrelac scarf worked in the standard manner - narrow rows worked over and over to grow to a six foot long rectangle.  Since some of my scraps were much more colorful than others, I realized that this approach could result in a very scrappy looking scarf.  My solution was to turn the scarf 90 degrees and work along the long edge.  This approach leaves the same color touching only at the points with the blocks/triangles surrounded by highly contrasting colors.  The effect is to highlight each color while simultaneously blending them all together.

To create greater contrast I did change colors at the beginning of every row.  This left me a few ends to weave in, but I could hide them by working under the single crochet edging.  As I worked across a row I frequently had to deal with ends since I was working with scraps of yarn.  I simply spit-spliced the ends together, while not worrying about abrupt color changes.  And, yes, I did successfully spit splice even though Silk Garden is composed of only 55% feltable animal fiber.

To celebrate the release of this new pattern, I am offering it free for one week.  The deal ends at midnight on Monday, April 18th, 2016, so run over to Ravelry and download Alternate Route now.  Please also 'favorite' it to help other knitters find the pattern.  After the introduction, Alternate Route will be available for $4.00.