Current embroidery obsessions

My most recent large embroidery project, as a follow-up to my embroidered hoodie of last year, is another hoodie for my mom. She loved the one I made for myself, so I had to make her one of her own.

The pattern I chose was slightly different, but it had the same elements of a symmetrical floral design with lots of opportunity for color contrasting. Kumquat, of course, helped me with the project. I’ve been experimenting with different stitches, including satin, long & short, chain, and various knots. I enjoyed how the long modified French knots worked as the centers of the flowers, and I think the texture works really well even for a piece of clothing. I’m looking forward to seeing it on my mom, and I hope she loves it!

Every so often, I catch myself putting off projects. Usually it’s because I’m being overly conservative with my stash, hesitating to commit valuable materials and time to an experiment (rather than a sure thing). I am really digging the idea of an embroidered denim jacket, but I love my plain denim jacket and don’t want to A) take it out of my wardrobe rotation while I’m working on it, and B) finish an embroidery project which ends up not being what I want and makes my currently beloved jacket not so wonderful. I’ve been saving pictures of embroidered denim, along with design templates and other inspiration, for months now.

I like the idea of a floral design on the yoke of the jacket, but I don’t love it crossing over the seam. It’s much harder to sew through, and I don’t like how it breaks up the neatness of the visual delineation of the seams.

Aside from a denim jacket, I have also been building myself up to the idea of an embroidered rug. We visited a small imports store while in Jacksonville last week, and the hand embroidered rugs really caught my eye. Not only were they made entirely with chain stitch, which is simple and a little quicker (and more durable) than flatter stitches, it’s made with slightly thicker yarn as opposed to floss. The hardest part should be choosing a design and printing it out in a way that suits a larger piece of fabric.

These are definitely not my colors, but I love the chain stitch detail that’s visible in this picture. I’ll probably go with a more geometric or animal-focused design, but I do like this one a lot.


In 2018, I plan to finish 75 items. So far, I’ve finished 12, which feels pretty good. A few of those were socks for myself or for friends, a few were mitts or hats for sale, and a few were cat toys. Though they’re small and quick, and don’t follow a pattern, they totally count, especially because Ravelry doesn’t include finished handspun yarn projects in its count!

This is what the mouse looked like when it was new. Now it’s more of a mess of frizzy, fuzzy strings.

The other projects I’m working on right now are larger scale. I’m planning a sweater for my aunt at her request, another for Wes, and one for myself. Without intending to, I’ve made 2018 the Year of Umber Sweaters, and I’m cool with that.  My aunt’s sweater will be a V for Sweater/ V for Genser, in Cascade 220 colorway Pumpkin Spice.

I may make her V-neck a little deeper, but this fit is pretty much what she’s going for. This picture appears on the Ravelry page for the V for Sweater pattern.

Wes has been wearing a great thrift store find, a colorwork sweater in blue and white. It fits him well and he likes the style, but it’s cotton and a little too big. He was wearing it at a friend’s house and she asked whether I had made it, and I heard myself say that I would never make a colorwork sweater that intricate… Which surprised me. Why wouldn’t I dig into a project like that? So here I am, and it’s happening! I’m going to make him a Roscoe out of Araucania’s Nature Wool in Rust.

I plan to make this sweater in a deep orange-brown with a white pattern. I’ll leave the neck as a crew, not a turtleneck, and keep the pattern to just the body. I don’t think the sleeves need to be patterned. This picture appears on the Roscoe pattern page on Ravelry.
I received this yarn a couple months back as a possibility for Wes’ first sweater, but I haven’t used it for anything. I think it will look nice with an off-white contrast.

A little more ripping for joy (and wearability)

I made a sweet pair of ankle socks last year, trying out an afterthought heel with a short cuff. They came out fine, but they tend to slide down when I wear them with ankle boots. So, rather than having them sit around in my sock drawer and not get worn, I decided to pull out the cuffs and reknit them so that they’re taller and more snug around my ankles.

In my experience, the reactions from most people (from non-knitters all the way up to experienced fiber folks) who hear that I’m ripping back a project fall somewhere between pity and horror. There’s been a lot of discussion online about project planning, experimentation, frogging, what folks do with WIPs that won’t ever be finished, and the worth of materials (here, here, and here in particular). All of these discussions have informed my attitude about ripping back projects, but my viewpoint hasn’t changed much over the years. First of all, it’s just knitting. I’ll keep doing it whether I’m working on one particular project for a long time or starting something new, so I’d rather end up with one finished garment that I (or someone) will wear and love, with materials that are used and serve their purpose, than a couple finished – or maybe unfinished – projects that are unsatisfactory for some reason. I’ll gladly tear out my work, however “correct” or “incorrect” it might have been, if redoing it will improve the overall usefulness of the garment. With that said, I’ll gladly ignore a “mistake” if it has no effect whatsoever on the finished product’s wearability and durability. One extra row on the foot of one sock? I highly doubt the wearer will ever know, so if it’s more work than it’s worth to fix it, you can bet that one sock is going to stay sliiiiightly longer than the other.

In this case, the shortness of the cuffs was detracting from the wearability of the socks, and it was also a relatively easy fix. I make all my socks toe-up, so all I had to do was unpick the bound off edge and frog the last few green rows. I used size 0 double pointed needles to pick up the last row of the main color yarn, then frogged the cuff’s contrast yarn down to the needles. I joined the main color yarn to itself, then knit up the cuff with an inch or so more ribbing than it had before. I haven’t decided yet whether to use the green as a contrast color again, but I’m leaning towards not. The purple is lovely and I tend to think that changing color in a section of ribbing doesn’t look super nice.

Saving some work

I began a pair of socks with the gorgeous yarn I purchased at SAFF last year, and working with this Neighborhood Fiber Co. material has been just as sweet as I expected. The lace pattern is lovely, but these socks are on a bit of a deadline and I needed to make some quicker progress. I decided to make the feet in a plain stitch, then to add lace on the ankles where it will be seen.

The chart is easy to follow, but it’s very slow going. I decided to revamp and rearrange.
I left the bottom of each foot intact, and used my spare needles as a “lifeline,” picking up the last row of stitches before the lace pattern started. Here, the lace is still intact, but the needle has been removed and the last row of toe stitches has been picked up.
I unraveled all of the rows of stitches on the top of the foot. The sole is still intact, but what used to be the lace section will be reknit.
I knit the rows back up, alternating between knit and purl in an attempt to keep the tension even. It’s puckering a little, but washing and blocking the finished socks will take care of it.
It took a little while to fix the socks, but not nearly as long as it would have if I had reknit the whole thing. Continuing in plain knit will be much faster than continuing in the lace pattern, and one repeat of lace around the cuff will bring in enough of the pattern to make these special.

I really like the Rosebud lace chart, but I’m considering using the edge rows on the Herbstblüte shawl, by Sandra Schmieding. I’ll add a few rows of ribbing above, probably leaving out the last couple rows of eyelets, and hopefully the pretty petal shapes will work well on sock cuffs.




2018 Plans

Stashdown 2017 was only partially a success. I managed to contain my beads in one large tote, and I got rid of a big bag of broken or plastic beads, and disassembled or chucked half-finished projects. Most were from several moves ago, and some from when I was still in high school. It was a good feeling, and I was able to organize a bit in my craft room.

My yarn situation is not so tidy. I collected yarn for a few sweater possibilities, and the ones that didn’t end up being used are now stacked precariously atop my yarn dresser. I plowed through a fair amount of yarn, but really had a hard time not replacing it with other yarn throughout the year. Oh well, onward to 2018.

These improvised mitts used up the last of some really lovely sock yarn. The colors are fun and the texture is soft but durable. I have a pair of socks in this yarn and they’re fantastic.
This is some limited edition holiday yarn made by Baerenwolle, in the colorway Advent, Advent. I don’t love the colors, but I had fun with the hat. The pattern is Zoe, which I modified veeeery slightly to make the chevrons line up in a way that I liked better.
I started on a pair of Catnip socks and loved the lace chart, so I thought I’d try it out on some mitts with thicker, single-ply yarn (Mrs. Crosby’s Carpet Bag in the color African Grey). I think they turned out well, though I don’t think the “afterthought thumb” is as hand-shaped as the gusset construction.

Ravelry’s home page this week informed users of a new feature for the new year. The project tracking section of the website now includes a “Challenge” feature, which lets folks choose a number of projects they’d like to complete by the end of the year. I counted up the number of projects I finished in 2017, adjusted it a little for a challenge, and came up with the plan to make 75 knitted items in 2018. This will include things like washcloths and stuffed animals, but obviously socks will count as one item. So far I’ve made the three above, which is a reasonable start, and I have a few more things on the needles already.

These Rosebud socks are for a family friend, and I’m so excited to use my Neighborhood Fiber yarn from SAFF in this gorgeous colorway, Banksy. The lace chart is challenging but very pretty, and I think they’ll turn out beautifully


These are the catnip socks I’m working on. The lace chart is fun, the colors are lovely (this is KnitPicks Stroll Tonal, in the color Deep Waters), and I think they’ll be relatively quick to knit as long as I buckle down and work on them.
These mitts are a bit of an experiment. I LOVED these colors together in the mitts I made last month (Cumbria Fingering in Buttermere and Heritage sock yarn in Navy), and really wanted to bring them together again. The chart is from a free Drops pattern, Silver Star, and I hope the thumb gusset will work alright without being too wonky between the chart repeats.

Most of the projects I’m working on or planning right now are for the Florida Earthskills Gathering, and I’m hoping to have more pairs of mitts than hats for this year’s event. I sold out of mitts at the Rendezvous last season, so perhaps that will be the case again in Florida.

Finished up

My last post about Christmas presents didn’t have much of a resolution. Here are the finished products!

I love the way these tiny cables turned out on this squishy, hopefully masculine enough hat
This picture was snapped before I blocked this Severin Beanie, so the chart is even crisper now.
These mitts were a last-minute decision. I think they turned out nicely, and hopefully the recipient will get some good use out of them.


I’m still not used to the lack of winter here in Charleston. It gets cold enough for a jacket, and maybe for wool socks, but the number of knitted items I actually need is so much smaller than I want it to be. That never stops me from making toasty warm things, even for myself. Now that the Christmas knitting is done, I’m back to making things and experimenting on a more leisurely schedule. Last week was kind of chilly (it was almost freezing one night!), and I realized that I don’t have a pair of mitts of my own. I’ve certainly made enough pairs for other folks, and I had some for a while, but never liked them much and gave them away. 


On a whim the other day, I grabbed some yarn leftovers (some destashing from my friend in Portland, some sock yarn that’s been used for toes for several projects, and some that’s just a complete mystery to me) and went to town. I like to browse color charts on Ravelry, and I save lots of projects with interesting charts whether I plan to use them or not. This fingerless glove pattern, Kites, is a nice blend of minimalism and playfulness, with good overall weight due to the held floats behind the colorwork. I loved the bright colors used by other knitters, and the blue, gray, and celery looked really nice together.


I don’t entirely love the stripes on the thumbs, but I do like the construction of placing a stitch in the middle so that the whole thumb isn’t floated. It’s a little complicated to try to arrange the triangle pattern over the thumb gusset, and having a plain color thumb works well with the cuffs. The pattern calls for the top cuff and thumb cuff to be one color, the background to be another color, and the bottom cuff to be the third color, but I chose to use the celery color for all of the background sections. I like it, but I might do it differently the next time I make mitts like these.


Stay cozy and bright, everyone!