Sunday, January 25, 2015

Alexandra Scarf from Gauge Knits - Day 2

Why I love knitting...

I’m pleased to report that my roll-prevention efforts seem to be paying off.  It’s still a bit early to call those six extra stitches a complete success, but I’m over eight inches into the scarf and nothing is curling in on the edges so far.  Hooray!

Look at all those pretty green zig-zags!  There’s something about a pattern repeat stacking on itself so nicely, that swells the heart, isn’t there?  Beautiful, precise, order.

The creation of order in a chaotic world was one of the reasons I started knitting in the first place.  With small kids underfoot and the unpredictable nature of a writing career, I was hungry for things that gave me a sense of accomplishment and control.  When I knit something, it generally stays knit (unless I have to rip it out, but that’s another issue).  I can’t say that for an empty dishwasher, a clean counter, or even a well child.  None of that has changed, even though those little kids are now young adults—everything still feels as if it is in constant motion.  Knitting is my antidote to that non-stop shifting.  It establishes something that wasn’t there before, something that stays where I put it.

Have you ever tried to explain the deep satisfaction you feel when you look at your knitting? Especially to someone who isn’t a creative type?  It’s hard. The sense of “I made this, and it is beautiful,” even if it’s something as ordinary as a garter stitch dishcloth, defies explanation.  For me, knitting becomes visual time…it is effort you can see and feel, it is tactile and concrete.  Even my writing—which you can see 100 words as concretely as you can see 100 stitches—doesn’t give me the same deep sense of accomplishment.  


It’s why I love knitting so much.  And I expect I have lots of company in that affection.

Just in case you missed it:  Authors Who Knit will shift to READERS Who Knit for 2015!  I’ve been telling my publisher (and anyone else who will listen) that readers are knitters and knitters are readers.  What better way to celebrate that marvelous symbiosis then by highlighting my readers who take to the yarn and needles?  Starting in February, I’ll feature 11 Allie fans and their knitting—one each month—and those featured readers will get a few special goodies as well as some kudos here on DestiKNITions.  Email me at allie [at] alliepleiter [dot] com if you want to submit to be featured.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

HAPPY BIRTHDAY CLICK-THRU TOUR - 2105

Can you believe it?? 2015 launches DestiKNITions’ SEVENTH year and will soon contain the 500th episode!  Hard to believe I’ve had that much fun—and logged those many miles—over the years.  As I do every January, here’s the Happy Birthday Click-Thru Tour highlighting some of my favorite posts from the past year:







I cheated and its partner post Bet you saw this coming








New:  Authors Who Knit will shift to READERS Who Knit for 2015!  I’ve been telling my publisher (and anyone else who will listen) that readers are knitters and knitters are readers.  What better way to celebrate that marvelous symbiosis then by highlighting my readers who take to the yarn and needles?  Starting in February, I’ll feature 11 Allie fans and their knitting—one each month—and those featured readers will get a few special goodies as well as some kudos here on DestiKNITions.  Email me at allie [at] alliepleiter [dot] com if you want to submit to be featured.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Alexandra Scarf from Gauge Knits - Day 1

A smart, simple scarf...

I spend a lot of time knitting scarves and shawls that “do” things—either through clever design features, thoughtful shapes, or intriguing patterns.  All that’s fine and dandy, but there’s always a place for the basic in every knitter’s project cue.

This is a step up from the basic scarf, surely, for the zig-zag design adds a bit of flair and reminds me of the Comin’ Round the Mountain socks I knit from Hearthstone Knits in Saint Louis.  I respect that this scarf isn’t out to do tricks or turn heads.  This is a scarf that knows what scarves are for, and why we love them. 

It helps to have a splendid fiber—this Luxe Perch merino/cashmere/nylon blend has a nice feel and the brilliant green is just what this jaded (no pun intended) Chicago winter gal needs.  It reminds me the vibrancy of Spring is just around the corner.  You could do this project in a solid or a multi-color yarn, but I’d advise staying away from too dark a hue so that you see the lovely stitch-work.  


I have a strong aversion to stockinette scarves—their tendency to roll at the edges drives me  nuts.  To guard against that, I chose to amend Kelly Ramsey’s pattern with three additional garter stitches on either end of the pattern.  You may not share my fears, and could be just fine with the pattern as written.  I, however, like the color and simplicity of this scarf so much I don’t want to risk being annoyed by rolling when I am all done.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Brush Creek Cowlette from The Knitting Nest - Done!

Wavy wonderfulness!

Oh my.  This is lovely.  The weight, the way it lays across my collarbone, the wavy wonderfulness of it all.  You know you’ve hit a great pattern when you put it on and your first thought is all the color combinations you want to make next!

One word of caution:  Watch the upper edge!  Because I am picky about bumpy edges next to my skin, I did a selvege edge across the top, and that cost me a lot of elasticity where I need it most.  Had I left it according to the pattern, the neck hole would have been stretchier.  

As it was, I needed to do a lot of…persuading…to get the thing over my head.  I spent so much time heeding the instructions to “aggressively block” the lower edge to get the bell shape right that I probably didn’t get as “aggressive” with the top edge as I should have.


But isn’t it wonderful?  Don’t you want one?  Get yourself down to Austin and to The Knitting Nest and get one!  Thanks, Stacy, for a truly splendid outcome—well worth the effort!

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Brush Creek Cowlette from The Knitting Nest - Day 5

You can’t ever tell a piece of lacework by its unblocked state.

Unblocked, this cowlette is a ripply, bubbly trio of colors.  There are hints to its final texture and shape, but they are mere clues to the weight and drape of the finished piece.  Much as I like the color combinations, I doubt I’d select this if it were on a boutique table—now.  It lays wrong, it crinkles up in places, and you really can’t see the patterns.

All that will change after this baby has had its bath.

This presents a fine opportunity to showcase one of my best knitter/parent repurposing tricks.  It’s one many  knitting mama’s (and likely daddy’s) know: the alphabet block foam puzzle. 
Sure it was fun when they were tykes—ours got a particularly good workout in the tub—but now it becomes a wonderfully flexible blocking surface for small projects.

I’ve got a huge cork board that serves as my blocking table for shawls and larger pieces, but there was no need to haul it out for this project.  It took me all of 30 seconds to squish together the correct shape—adding a few more squares as I went along—and tuck it next to my front windows for the best drying air.


There are manufacturers who figured out this use and created products that serve the same purpose, but I love that my kids’ toys have found a new life as a toy of my own.  

I might not ever give the toy version as a baby shower gift saying “I’ll be happy to take this off your hands in a few years,” but I might say “Let me teach you how to knit and these will come in handy in a new way one day.”

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Brush Creek Cowlette from The Knitting Nest - Day 4

Yummy, yarny comfort...

Ah, the final color progression.  I can see my stitches so much more easily now.  While the repeat is still 17 stitches long, it doesn’t exactly match up with the earlier repeat, so I had to remove not just the center stitch marker but all my markers and reset them in row 80.  Only there’s a bitty shift that takes place in that row, so it took a bit of thinking and staring to make sure I’d gotten everything right (there’s another one of those shifts coming up in row 102 so I’ll be ready).  

Here’s a situation where charts and written directions show their differences.  I need to cope with that small shift from rows 80 and 102 if I’m looking at the chart, but it doesn’t really come into play if I’m knitting off the written directions.  This is why I love it when patterns give us both options—I often end up shifting back and forth between modes depending on which gives me a clearer understanding.  

The nice part about this section for me is that I can see the pattern and how its supposed to take shape, and that always makes for more confident stitching.  That lovely affirmation of “Oh, yes, that’s where that goes,” that feeds my creative appetite and lets me know I’ll like what I’ve made when it’s done. 

Sometimes—especially toward the end of a challenging project—it’s nice to know you’re on the right path.  Onward to the finish!


Speaking of finishes, this week SMALL-TOWN FIREMAN releases.  It's the final book in the Gordon Falls series—the one that has so many knitting characters.  This one has a nice bit of knitting in it, too.  It’s been a delight to introduce so many people to the Prayer Shawl ministry through these books.  When I think of all the yummy, yarny comfort I might have inspired, my heart swells with happiness.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Brush Creek Cowlette from The Knitting Nest - Day 3

Allierrata...

I can’t remember a project where I had to re-do so many rows.  The fault is definitely not with the pattern directions.  Every time, once I paid attention, I discovered that I hadn’t followed the directions, hadn’t counted correctly—pick your human error issue, I did it.

I generally have two responses when I find myself in these situations.  First, I get disgusted.  Not with the yarn or directions; with myself.  I consider myself a skilled knitter, and a skilled knitter should not make silly mistakes.  

Second, I wise up and go find the stitch markers.  Really, why does it take me a dozen rows to get to this second response?  There is no stigma associated with stitch markers.  Not one of you would look down on me for using stitch markers, would you?  Once I put them in, my whole knitting experience become more enjoyable.  I made almost no mistakes.  I didn’t have to peer at my stitches with a scowl on my face.  Why do I deny myself this knitting bliss?

Pride.  Stupid, dumb pride.  If I am honest with myself, I think I’m better than stitch markers.  But the honest truth is that I am better WITH stitch markers.

I am in love with the brilliant undulations of this cowl.  You could make it in a solid, but the color progression only enhances the best characteristics of this piece.  Take a strength and make it better—that’s the hallmark of a really stunning pattern.  I can hardly wait to add the third color next.