On The Needles – Colorblocked Cape and Stripey Socks

I fell in love with this colorblocked cape by Amanda Keep in the Holiday 2012 edition of Vogue Knitting. It helped motivate me to finish my last sweater project because I really wanted to start it, but I have a self-imposed “one large project at a time” rule.

Amanda Keep's Side-Button Cape

Amanda Keep’s Side-Button Cape

I still love how this cape looks in the magazine, but I’ve gotten off to a not-so-great start with this project. First of all, I read the wrong pattern when I ordered the yarn. I ended up ordering the yarn for the pattern that was on the page before the cape. I thought the colors looked off when I ordered, but it wasn’t so far off that I thought too hard about it. I figured it was just a “colors may be different than they appear on your monitor” issue. When I went to cast on though, I noticed that I needed 4 colors, not 3 like I had purchased. That’s when I realized my mistake. The yarn I ordered is a lighter weight and less fuzzy yarn then the pattern originally calls for too. I’ve decided to challenge my inner Tim Gunn and “make it work”.


It’s slow-going right now. This is the first time I’ve really worked with color. I’ve done striped scarves, but nothing like this where I’m changing color mid-row. I get frustrated keeping all the yarn from getting tangled, especially when the cats are nearby. And I’m having trouble keeping the stitches even where the color switches. It seems to be improving as I move up the cape, but it still looks messy. I keep debating frogging the whole thing and starting over, or trying to fix it and hoping once I block it, it’s not too noticeable.



I am making progress and learning a few things along the way. I like the colors together and I think it will look nice with a pair of jeans this spring and next fall as well. I’m keeping a positive outlook on this project – at least trying to anyway.

I’ve also decided to teach myself the magic loop method for sock knitting. I plan on casting on this afternoon. I didn’t want to get too complicated on my first sock project, so I chose a basic rib pattern from Ravelry and felici self-striping yarn from KnitPicks.

yarn and knitting needle

I watched a few videos I found on YouTube to learn the magic loop method. VeryPinkKnits has a nice series of videos that takes you through a whole sock pattern using the magic loop method. I didn’t like the pattern she used. Not that there is anything wrong with it, it just didn’t speak to me. I’m going to try and apply her instructions to the pattern I chose. It seems simple enough. We’ll see how it goes once I actually start knitting.

If all goes well, maybe I can finally knit a pair of socks from the book, Knitted Socks East and West: 30 Designs Inspired by Japanese Stitch Patterns, that I bought a year ago. I love all the socks in this book. There are so many interesting patterns and textures in it. It would be nice if I could actually knit them instead of just admire them from the pages.

Do you have any works-in-progress? Are you teaching yourself any new skills this winter?

Instant Gratification Knitting

Sometimes I like to knit long and involved projects, like sweaters and lace shawls.  I like to watch the fabric grow and the garment take shape. Pieces that involve lots and lots of stockinette stitch can have a meditative quality to them. In the colder months, they are comforting and cozy to knit. And a project knit over a weeks, or even months, provides a nice feeling of accomplishment when I’ve finished.

But other times I need some instant gratification. I want results NOW! And smaller projects are always easier to pack along to the kids activities, doctors offices, or anywhere else I’m stuck waiting awhile and it is either too noisy, or I’m just not in the mood to read. After knitting the Cormorant and Osprey, I was definitely ready for some instant gratification knitting, but I also wanted to learn something new. I found 2 patterns that filled my needs perfectly.

The first project was a Vogue pattern for a brimmed hat. I’ve had it in my binder for awhile but I always found something I wanted to knit instead. And I could never settle on a yarn. I thought it might look cute paired up with my new sweater, I even had some yarn left over so it would match perfectly, so I cast on. The new skills were: a knit casing around the base of the crown for an elastic band and 3-needle bind-off. The casing was a little awkward to work, but not too hard to figure out. The 3-needle bind-off was easy-peasy. Unfortunately, the model for the pattern looks much better in the hat than I do. This hat will probably never be seen on my head. If my daughter or my mom do not want it, it will probably go into the donate pile. It turned out nice though. I’m sure somebody will get some use out of it.

knit brimmed hat

The second project I knit was Elis – a cowl that has a unique texture featuring Indian-Cross-Stitch. I used Sublime Yarns Lustrous Extra Fine Merino, which is so soft and shimmery. I was intrigued by the cross-stitch. It was a bit awkward at first, but once I got the hang of it, it went pretty quickly. I had to be very careful to keep the tension even so my dropped stitches would all be the same length. I also had to watch that I passed the stitches over in the right order. They would sometimes get twisted, or fall off the needles, so I had to sort things out before I could forge ahead.

knit cowl

I really like how this one turned out. The cross-stitch added a unique detail to the cowl. The yarn is warm, but lightweight. It will be a nice piece for spring-time, which according to Punxsutawney Phil should be here before we know it. And I need spring to be here soon. I’m going through running withdrawal. I got out twice last week and I am itching to get back out again. We finally got snow, and lots of it. I’m going to take Chuck out for a walk in a bit to see if there is enough snow cleared for a safe run before the next snow band hits later this morning. Otherwise, I’ll be confined to indoor workouts for at least a week more. Maybe I can at least get out this week to snowboard with the kids, but this mama needs to run.

A Scarf For The Birds

My sewing machine has been feeling very neglected lately. I’ve been smitten with my knitting needles. The warm, shiny metal and the clickety-clack sound they make as the yarn wraps around lulls me into an hypnotic trance every time. My sewing machine has meditative qualities also, but it’s so much more work to sew than it is to knit. I have to drag out crates of fabric, cut patterns, and clean up all the scraps. And the ironing……I really hate to iron lately.

Knitting is portable. I only need a ball of yarn and my needles. I can knit anywhere I want. I can knit and watch movies. I can knit in the car while I wait for the kids to finish whatever activity they are participating in. I’ve even caught myself sleep-knitting more and more lately; closing my eyes for just a few seconds while my fingers continue to knit by feel. I inevitably wake up a few minutes later, mid-stitch, and on a good day, no dropped stitches. More often than not though, I spend the next 15 minutes cursing as I attempt to pick up all the stitches I dropped while a snored away – in a cute fashion, of course.

I also needed some new sweaters, so knitting seemed more practical this season than sewing. I found a pattern book, Norah Gaughan Flyaway Vol 5, last spring while on a yarn field-trip with a good friend. The sweater on the front caught my eye. I’ve only knit one sweater so far, and I haven’t been knitting long, so I wasn’t feeling too confident about my skills. The sweater also looked a little challenging, so the pattern book went into my binder while I knit perceived safer patterns. I would take the book out from time-to-time and admire the sweaters in it, but back into the binder it would go. With the colder weather approaching, I decided it was time to try. I was not quite ready for the sweater challenge. I decided instead to start with an easier pattern a little further along in the book. I chose the Osprey pattern – a unique, ruffly scarf pattern named after one of my favorite birds.


I love it! It’s my new favorite scarf. I used the Berroco yarn suggested with the pattern for the red, but for some reason I didn’t buy enough yardage of the Alpaca Ultra Fine for the ruffles. I didn’t feel like making the trek to the yarn shop for more yarn. Instead, I unraveled my unsuccessful shrug from last summer (that I never extended into a scarf) and used that yarn for two of the ruffles, and the red for the other two. So it has alternating black and red ruffles. I like it and think it turned out pretty. The yarn is nice and soft and has a nice drape.


It’s versatile. It looks great with a leather jacket, a sweater, or blouse. And the way the flounces drape around the back, it adds a little extra warmth on cool days. It was an easy knit, although I struggled with the Flounces after the second one, but not because they were difficult. The repetition was boring, and I was ready to move onto something else.


I did end up knitting the sweater on the cover. I’ll share that in the next post.

I should be back to sewing soon. I’ve been pinning sewing patterns and fashion ideas again on Pinterest, so it won’t be long before my sewing machine is once again getting the attention is deserves.

On the Needles

I have two projects on my knitting needles right now.

I started the Liesl Tank by Cocoknits a little over a month ago. I’m not using the recommended yarn for the pattern. Instead, I had a bunch of Knitpicks Cotlin yarn leftover from a Christmas project last winter. It knit to the same gauge, and I noticed there was one on Ravelry with this yarn, so I thought I’d use up my leftovers in this pattern. I didn’t have enough to knit the top in a solid color, so I did stripes. These aren’t normally colors I would wear, but I held the top up to myself in the mirror and I don’t hate it. I think it will look good with denim. We’ll see when I get it finished. I just have the front left. It’s been a nice take-a-long project, as most of the pattern is mindless knitting. It has helped pass the time at many soccer and little league practices this spring.

The other project I have going is the Estee Necklace.

A friend of mine bought me some very pretty, silver yarn by Sublime for my last birthday. When I saw this necklace pattern, I thought it would be perfect for the yarn. My yarn doesn’t have any beads or sequins, but it has a nice metallic shimmer, so it still looks pretty enough for a necklace. I don’t think I’m going to make the matching earrings, as they aren’t really my style, but I should have enough yarn left over to make a matching bracelet or cuff. I’ve enjoyed knitting this pattern. It’s the perfect amount of challenge to keep my mind busy without getting frustrated.

I’m almost finished with both projects. I’m hoping to get the tank done this week at least. I just bought a bunch of yarn for a yarn bombing project I’m participating in this summer and I am anxious to get started on that. I really should finish at least one of these before I get started though.

Schoolhouse Tunic Revisited


I don’t know why I like the Schoolhouse Tunic by Sew Liberated so much. Maybe because it is so quick and easy to sew I get almost instant gratification. It could also be because it is very comfortable, and I am all about comfort over fashion these days. Or maybe it’s because the pattern is so basic, it lends itself well to modifications.

My first tunic, which I wrote about here, was made with a grey and rust polka dot fabric by Kaffe Fassett. I kept pretty true to the pattern. I like it. It was comfortable. I wore it once and felt ridiculous with all those polka dots, so I dismantled it. I kept the top and replaced the bottom with a solid black skirt. It looks much better now.

My favorite tunic was made from a really nice, med-weight, red linen. The drape of the fabric was perfect for the pattern. I made a few changes by lengthening the skirt, adding pockets, gathering instead of pleating the back skirt, and leaving the sleeves off. This one gets the most wear, as it is the most versatile. I pair it with long-sleeves, leggings, and tall boots in the fall. And I wear it over shorts and a tank in the summer. Here it is making an appearance in the brick pits at Colonial Williamsburg last summer.


I’ve been wanting to make another one for awhile now. I’ve had the pattern and fabric sitting on my sewing desk for months, but I’ve been distracted by other things. I finally decided to tackle my sewing pile last Sunday. After repairing several tops and converting worn jeans into shorts for the kids, I decided to reward myself by making a top for me.

This time I made the short version with a few other modifications and I think this is my new favorite summer top. I used a light-weight, cotton poplin print by Vera Wang. I had some left over from a dress I made a few summers ago.

With this one I left off the pleats in the skirt and gathered the front and back instead. It reduced some bulk that the pleats caused, and I just think it looks better that way (at least on me). For the front, I ran a gather stitch between the pleat marks. And for the back, I just ran a gather stitch across most of the back, leaving about 2-3 inches on either side. (I didn’t take a close-up of the back. I should have though.)

And for the sleeves, I decided to make little, gathered, cap sleeves. I finished those off with some black bias trim that I made from some fabric in my scrap bin.

If you are wondering how to make the cap-sleeves, I thought I’d write up a little tutorial to show how I made them. Unfortunately, I didn’t think to take photos while I was sewing, but hopefully you’ve sewn enough sleeves that it will all make sense. (If you click on the photo, you can view it at full resolution and it might be easier to read.)