What Did You Knit This Year?



[Click on the photo collage to see the larger version]

This is my knitting year in review, or at least most of it.

2014 was a really good year for knitting in my house, likely because our Iceland trip spawned the need for lots of warm things early on and once my hat and cowl mojo got into gear, it never left me.  It was also the year I conquered lace, starting with Pale Pink Shells, knit during the Olympics, and continuing onto Rainbow Fish and Lida.  I started Lida during a trip to South Carolina in May and didn't finish her until September.  She became my constant companion, knitting a row here and there in the carpool line or the doctor's office, and I love wearing her as much as I loved knitting her.  I also knit a Citron, the oldest unknit pattern in my queue, from my favorite yarn of all time, Elliebelly Moth and Goat, a silk/cashmere blend that I dyed into a sunshine-y color, just when I needed some sunshine in my life.

Speaking of favorite yarns, late in the year I discovered The Plucky Knitter's yarns and fell in love.  Some people got up early to shop on Black Friday.  I sat in front of my computer and bought Plucky.  Lots of it. My first project was a Nevermind hat in the Plucky bulky cashmere blend called Snug.  My second project, which I only speak of with great difficulty, was a pair of beautiful merino mitts that were almost done when I stupidly left them in the Atlanta airport, never to be seen again.  I've got an Olivia shawl in the works in a worsted Plucky yarn and plan to cast on several more projects this week to get me through January and February in Plucky yarn.  Because I am in love.  Plucky has great yarn, beautiful colors and the most incredible customer service.

2014 has been a great knitting year.  Looking at my collage, I've decided I need to up my photography game in 2015, so my poor knitting models darling children can all have that to look forward to.  2015 will be a year filled with cashmere, sweaters, happy knitting, and it will, of course, be the year I start my Christmas knitting early.  I'm starting in January this year.  Really.



How I Learned To Love To Swatch

I'm not a swatcher, at least not until recently.  I always wanted to be.  And, sometimes, I would swatch, at least sort of, in a small way.  But I had never blocked a swatch.  That turned out to be fatal a couple of times, like when I knit Tiny Owl's Fairy Lights Hat in Debbie Bliss Pure Cashmere, and the yarn bloomed and grew to half again it's original size when I blocked my beautiful, but now very large, hat.  

Sometimes, I even pretended to myself that I was knitting a swatch, when my process wasn't sufficient and my count was haphazard.  Recently, this resulted in an Agnes Sweater, which, although intended for me, didn't fit my 15 year old or even my 11 year old.  A friend's 6 year old became the profoundly happy recipient of a gorgeous, but very small, sweater knit in Malabrigo Mecha.


My historical approach to swatching can only be called denial.  It was obvious from pretty far out that no amount of blocking would make that teeny-tiny sweater fit my body!

Going forward, I'm committing to being a better swatcher.  I recently discovered knitting podcasts, and one of the first ones I listened to was Kelley Petkun on the Knit Picks' Podcast. She made a compelling case for swatching.  And, she made it sound fun.  I'm glad I listened.

For example, one of the patterns in my queue is Gathered Pullover by Hanna Jason.


Her photo is gorgeous and I've wanted to knit this for a long time.  If you look at the photo you can see you need a soft drapey yarn knit at a loose gauge.  I swatched two different yarns I thought I wanted to use and I'm glad I did because even before I blocked them, it was apparent they were not going to be winners. Although I got gauge, neither was drapey or loose enough.  Swatching here has caused me to pull out several finer yarns and saved me a lot of unhappiness.

This week, I've spent my time swatching for several new projects.  I'm knitting generous swatches and carefully blocking them.  I don't cut the yarn off of the skein — instead I wash the swatch and block it still attached in case I need the yarn for the project.  And, I've gone to knitting full swatches in the round because I know my gauge changes when I knit flat.

Green swatch


For a project in Malabrigo Rasta, I needed gauge in both stockinette and 2×2 rib.  I turned my swatch into a pair of mittens.

Rasta swatch

Rasta gloves

I hope swatching will make me a much happier and more successful knitter.  I feel like I'm finally on the way with swatching, although I may have gotten a little bit carried away with this one.

Sweater swatch