Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Afghans for Afghans Destash Sweater Knitting Pattern

I designed this sweater specifically for the January 2012 Afghans for Afghans youth campaign. Like most wool-loving knitters, I've accumulated quite a stash of beautiful wool oddballs, and this piece is a great way to put them to use (especially for us A4A knitters who'd love to make sweaters for kids but find it hard to spring for the cost of all that wool!). If your yarn is in all different colors, I recommend alternating colors every two rows. I bought a couple of balls of variegated Patons Classic Wool specifically for this project, alternating rows with leftover wool yarns; the "base" yarn helped keep some continuity in the colors. Whether or not you decide to buy new yarn is entirely up to you.

I adapted this pattern from the yoke sweater templates found in "The Knitter's Handy Book of Sweater Patterns" by Ann Budd. It's knit from the bottom-up and joined as you go, with garter stitch borders. So raid your stash and have fun!

Size: Small adult/teenager
Finished chest circumference: 34"

Gauge: 5 sts/inch in St st. (Since the campaign is for youths ages 7-16, your gauge doesn't have to be perfect as long as your sweater will fit someone that age range.)

32" long US 6 circular, five US 6 double-pointed needles
Stitch markers
A whole lot of worsted weight wool (about 920 yds) (you can also use sport or DK weight wool held double)

With circular needle, CO 172. Place marker (pm) and join in round. Work in garter stitch for 2" (knit one round, purl one round). Work in St st (knit every round) until sweater body measures 14" from CO, ending 4 sts before marker.
(BO 8, k 78) 2 times. There will be 78 sts for the front of the sweater and 78 for the back.

Sleeves: (make 2)
With double-pointed needles, CO 40. Pm and join in round. Work in garter stitch for 2".
Working in St st, increase 1 stitch on each side of marker every 6 rounds 11 times - 62 sts.
Work in St st until sleeve measures 15.5" from CO, ending 4 sts before marker.
BO 8 and work to end of round - 54 sts.

Join body and sleeves:
K 54 from left sleeve, pm; k 78 from body front, pm; k 54 from right sleeve, pm; k 78 from back, pm to mark end of round - 264 sts total.

(K to 1 st past marker, k2tog) 4x - 260 sts.
Work even in St st until yoke measures 2".
Decrease round 1: (k3, k2tog), repeat across - 208 sts.
Work even until yoke measures 4".
Decrease round 2: (k2, k2tog), repeat across - 156 sts.
Work even until yoke measures 6".
Decrease round 3: (k1, k2tog), repeat across - 104 sts.
Work even until yoke measures 7.75".

Shape neck:
Make 2 short rows: K to left shoulder line, wrap st, turn;
P to right shoulder line, wrap st, turn;
k to 1" before previously wrapped st, wrap st, turn;
p to 1" before previously wrapped st, wrap st, turn;
K to end of round.
K one round even, knitting the wrapped stitches together to hide them.
Decrease round 4: (k1, k2tog), repeat across - 69 sts.

Work in garter st for 3/4". BO.
Sew underarm seams.
Weave in all ends.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Art yarns!

After the urge to spin had set in, I actually went and bought myself an Ashford Kiwi spinning wheel. Then I promptly freaked out because I'd spent that much money on something that was basically a gamble - a gamble that I'd

a) Pick up spinning on a wheel faster than on a drop spindle, and
b) Learn to spin well enough to start selling my own yarns.

Fortunately, I know my limits pretty well. Some things, like precalculus and basic chemistry, I just could not "get" and probably never will, no matter how hard I try (and believe me, I did try). Textiles are one area in which I "get" things very quickly; just give me a decent teacher or book to go on, and with a few days of practice, I'll have the basics down. Which is why I'm hoping to make a living as a textile artist rather than something more lucrative that I would be terrible at.

At any rate, I have found a new passion! I spun a couple of practice yarns (the dark blue and red-orange skeins) and now have my first art yarn in my shop (the green one, here). As we speak, I have a similar skein in shades of blue hanging up to dry, and I can't wait to get started on my next yarn, whatever it may be.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Knit and spin

It's been a blazing hot summer for Cleveland, and yet somehow, I find the need to teach myself to spin wool in my un-air-conditioned apartment. I first kind of learned to spin when I took some weaving classes in college (those classes were really what got me into textiles), and was not particularly good at it. Lately, however, I've decided I should expand my skills, so while I was ordering a ball winder on KnitPicks last week I got a Turkish drop spindle and some wool roving. They arrived yesterday, and this afternoon I've been trying to twist the roving up into something resembling yarn.

And it is just as hard as I remembered - spinning is one of those things that's easy to grasp in concept but difficult to execute well. I've managed a couple of feet so far and I figure I'm doing okay for a beginner, but not well enough that I'm going to post pictures. It's a bit discouraging, but I have to keep reminding myself that when I first learned to knit I was TERRIBLE at it, and look where I am now!

I will, however, share some photos of the baby sweaters I've been working on for the past couple of weeks. I started by knitting sweaters for a friend's baby, which lead to me designing my own. I have three patterns up for sale now on Etsy and on Ravelry.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

8 new teddy bears!

Another slow month for sales, but I haven't been lazy. Between my other two jobs I've knit eight new bears, some headbands and some more wool hats, while adding Avatar: The Last Airbender to my list of favorite TV shows ever. There's something particularly sweet about knitting for children while watching a really good kid's show. (The all-blue ones were inspired by Waterbenders, fyi. If I can dig up the right colors from my bins of donated yarn, I think it would be really fun to make Airbender, Earthbender and Firebender bears as well.) These bears will be off to Minneapolis as soon as I make it over to the post office.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Shows I've been knitting

I just realized I haven't written a blog post in a month; I am definitely a better crafter than blogger! I'm always impressed by the "real" bloggers who come up with great written pieces daily or weekly. I guess I do have my priorities straight, since the time I'm too lazy to blog is time I spend knitting and designing ferociously... often while watching Netflix, which makes working feel like hanging out. I like to get into TV shows they have for streaming. Since last summer, I've knit my way through four American shows:
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer (2nd time)
- Angel (2nd time)
- The Wire (with my husband)
- Bones (beginning to present)

And three BBC shows:
- A Touch of Frost
- Wire in the Blood
- Waking the Dead (current)

I have a real thing for British crime dramas, having been raised on PBS's Mystery. It's a lot of TV, but then, it's a lot of knitting - I've accomplished so much in recent months! Last fall and winter were even more successful than I'd hoped; I'm already working on my stock of wool hats and gloves for next fall, while enjoying the spring sunlight.
The sari silk yarn worked up beautifully, by the way, and I love the finished vest. The pattern is on Etsy and on Ravelry as "Sari Silk Garter Stitch Vest," so have a look!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Experimenting with recycled sari silk

I'm not myself quite yet, but I'm much better - well enough to get back to designing, at least. A few months ago I bought some gorgeous fair-trade, recycled sari silk yarn from Darn Good Yarn, which I've been staring at ever since because I could not figure out what to do with it. I don't work with silk much; being a wool fan, I'm used to fibers with a lot more give than pure silk, though silk will soften over time.

Some knitters find embarking on a new project quite scary, but for me, I'm fine as long as I'm following someone else's pattern. It doesn't matter how complicated the pattern is - I have enough self-confidence (or cockiness, maybe) to jump right into it without any fear. I find that designing, however, can be extremely scary. Nothing's planned out for you, nothing's written. Everything is up to you, including any screw-ups. And so much depends on the yarn! DGY makes the most beautiful one-of-a-kind yarns, yarns that you can't force to be anything they're not meant to be. For months now, I've been trying to figure out not so much what I want the yarn to be, but what it wants to be. Scarves and shawls are always great, but that would feel like a cop-out since I want to have a garment pattern to offer up for sale.

Right now, the yarn seems to be telling me "vest" - one-piece, garter stitch, simple shaping. I have to trust it for now and see where it leads me.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I've gotten way behind on things because I have been sick as a dog for the past week. I was hit by something resembling the flu and spent most of last Monday and Tuesday lying in bed shaking and moaning. Since then it has morphed into pharyngitis - according to the ER doctor I had to see last week because, thanks to my inflamed tonsils, I was having trouble breathing - and it absolutely will not go away! I've been managing to get myself to work every day, but my shop is showing the effects. I have this thing where I won't craft for someone else when I'm sick, so no shop knitting or charity knitting. That may be overly fussy, but I'm a clean freak when it comes to my work. I've kept busy knitting myself socks (the "comfort food" of the knitting world for many), but I need to get going on making more knitting needles ASAP because I've sold a bunch already. It doesn't help that it's nearly April and it's still freezing. Demoralizing.

Friday, March 18, 2011

A bunch of new stuff

Knitting needles and cat blankets. That pretty much sums it up.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Afghans for Afghans child's sweater

So my old netbook suddenly broke down a few days ago, completely throwing off my work schedule. Luckily my husband's a techie and had kept his older but quite functional Mac laptop on hand, so I now have a working computer and can get back to business!
Here's the finished Afghans for Afghans destash sweater I mentioned earlier. I used wool colors I don't have much use for in my shop - light pinks and blues, for instance - and mixed them in with the variegated yarn I had leftover from my cardigan. I knit it top-down according to the pattern, but I think in the future I'll go for bottom-up sweaters; this one is nice and was fun to do, but I liked the bottom-up raglan shaping better. Soon it'll be in the mail heading to San Francisco and then to Afghanistan.
Next up: I'm back into my cat blankets. I have three of them planned out, and with luck I'll get them done by the end of the month.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Vienna Spring: Early Novellas and Stories by Stefan Zweig

My dad's new book, a translation from the German of Stefan Zweig's early short stories and novellas, is now available for preorder on Amazon.com. It's the first English translation of his stories, and I'm quite proud to have taken part in the process; I helped proofread the translation and I modeled for my dad's painting on the cover. (My dad is a real Renaissance man: he paints, draws, write prose and poetry, translates, sings and plays guitar - and does them all very well!) Here is the Amazon.com description of the book:

"Set in Vienna at the turn of the twentieth century, these early works now published in English for the first time, show that from the beginning of his literary career, Stefan Zweig (1881-1942) was already a master of both the short story and his favored fictional form, the novella. In the shorter pieces, the upper-class intellectual Zweig renders with sympathy some of life's outcasts: a slow student driven to violence; two ridiculed factory workers; a prostitute longing for love. Yet his keen perception and wry wit allow him to sidestep the sentimental and arrive at tender yet stark portrayals.
"The two novellas, 'The Love of Erika Ewald' and 'Scarlet Fever,' follow the travails of characters closer in temperament and upbringing to Zweig's own. The first concerns a young pianist whose delicate nature interferes with her sensual fulfillment; the second, a gentle medical student struggling to adjust himself to the city's harsh realities. In these portraits, Zweig presents a theme that would figure not only in his later fiction but also in his own life as a Jewish writer in the Nazi era: the plight of highly sensitive souls in a crude and uncaring world. - Content - A Loser - Two Lonely Ones- The Love of Erika Ewald - Spring in the Prater - Scarlet Fever."

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Raglan cardigan pattern

So I finished my first self-designed sweater that I feel comfortable selling as a pattern; that, along with it being my first pattern of 2011, gives me a great deal of satisfaction. It's warm and comfy and I love it. It's listed here and on Ravelry. I also finished a sweater for my husband recently, which I'm proud of and really need to post... My excuse is that we're in the process of moving to a nifty apartment in Little Italy, and I have no time! Next up - this sweater for the next Afghans for Afghans youth campaign.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

EtsyBuddhists Team Blog

In the last week we've started a team blog for EtsyBuddhists, so come have a look! It's at www.etsybuddhists.blogspot.com

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A thing of beauty

My husband and I have a good friend, Rene, who personalizes My Little Ponies. I'd never heard of this as a hobby until I met her - the trend of taking old ponies, repainting, rehairing, and embellishing them, and turning them into beautiful/charming/quirky/weird works of recycled folk art. (Different adjectives apply, depending on the pony. If you haven't seen pictures of such ponies, do a Google image search, and you'll find the term "folk art" definitely applies. I would love to learn to do this kind of thing someday, when I have time to learn a new non-knitting-related skill.) When I saw some of the ponies Rene had made, I was quite enchanted - not least because she uses only first-generation My Little Ponies, which were the ones I played with and loved in the early '90s! So you can imagine I was thrilled when she offered to make a customized pony for Dan and me to commemorate our wedding.
However, even I didn't expect just how lovely this one would be. Rene used an oak leaf and acorn motif that mimics our wedding rings; it's hard to see in the photo because the light is bad, but there's a silver ring of leaves and acorns around the pony's front hoof. The original wings were missing, so she replaced them with cloth leaves from a floral display. All that's left is giving the pony a name - and that's the hard part! She has such ethereal beauty, and we have to find something fitting.

Friday, January 14, 2011

More needles

Here are some pics of my new needles, as promised. All are for sale except the rectangular jasper ones; those I'm keeping for myself!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New year, new line

I think I can safely say that I've never made a New Year's resolution in my life, and I'm not about to start now. Nevertheless, I'm enjoying the feeling of starting afresh by launching a new product line: handcrafted knitting needles! More to come soon.