Sunday, September 25, 2016

"Hatapalooza" hats from Great Yarns - Day 6

Cables complete!

I’ve finished the Knotty But Nice hat! The soft wooly texture is just begging to keep a head warm, and the rich color could brighten the dreariest of Chicago winters.  Those clever cables weave themselves around the hat and keep the shape snug.  

Above them, the ribbing narrows smartly in toward the crown as you can see in this photo.  The shape is simple, but the combination of cables and ribbing takes that simple shape and crafts a smart, stylish cap indeed knotty and nice.  The very best qualities of the craft.

I’ve been on a long driving trip this week, and my knitting has been great company.  For as much as my husband enjoys driving, I am happiest knitting in the passenger seat.  I am terrible at both sitting still and waiting—life is very much better for having knitting in it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

September Reader Who Knits: Sherri Gallagher

It's time for this month's Reader Who Knits feature.  Say hello to Sherri Gallagher, a reader, an author, and a knitter.

Sherri, what are you working on right now? 
I am trying to make mittens to go with the balaclava I talk about below. It is tough going!

What feels like your favorite/greatest knitting accomplishment? 
The most difficult was a balaclava for dog owners working dogs in the winter. I made a one for every member of our search and rescue team. I am trying to make mittens to match but I've started over about 6 times now. I bought a different sized needles to see if that will get the gauge closer to the pattern. My favorite was a simple baby blanket. A friend had her baby at 27 weeks and it was touch and go for a very long time. I wanted to do something special so I knit a simple blanket and said a prayer for the baby and his parents with each row. He is now a happy, healthy 14 month old and I got back to knitting after a 40 year break. 

What feels like the worst knitting mistake/foible/wrong choice youve ever made? Trying to knit mittens! It seems like they end up doll size or something a giant would wear.

Straight needles or circular? 
So far I've had the best success with circular needles - I keep losing stitches off the back end with the straight ones.

Metal or wood needles? 
I just bought a set of wood ones that are so pretty. Up to this point All I've used are metal. The yarn moves nicely on the metal and I hope it will be the same on the wood ones.

White chocolate, milk chocolate, or dark chocolate? 
Dark chocolate!

Coffee or tea? I was a coffee drinker for years and I love my Kuerig. The problem is I have to avoid caffeine to protect my bone density. It is hard to find unflavored coffee in decaf and the environmentalist in me abhors the wasteful plastic cups. I got the reusable ones and that worked great then a couple of years ago I found a local shop that sold decaf lavender earl grey tea and I was hooked. So now more tea than coffee. 

Whats your favorite Allie novel? 
I guess Falling for the Fireman, but all of her work is well written and worth reading multiple times and giving as gifts.

What are you reading now? 

Do you have a favorite knitting character from a book, movie, or television show? Hmm, you got me on this one. One of the reasons I like Allie's books is that her characters knit. I really don't see that in other books I read.

Give a shout out to your favorite local yarn store: 
Unraveled Yarn Shop in Wauconda was a huge help when I was getting back into knitting. I couldn't have done it without their help. Unfortunately they just closed but they have a website and give knitting lessons at the library. 

Sherri wins ten hanks of Cascade 220 in Puget Sound and a copy of The Firefighter's Match for being featured.  She also won a copy of Family lessons for a friend.  If you'd like to be featured on DestiKNITions, email me at for details.

Friday, September 16, 2016

"Hatapalooza" hats from Great Yarns - Day 5

A tale of three tails…

KnitCol cap duly finished, it was time to top the thing off with its trademark curly-cues. Oddly enough, I thought these little squiggles only doable by crochet, but this hat taught me they can be achieved through continual knit-it-front-and-back stitches.  It makes perfect sense now that I think of it, and makes me happy because despite many attempts, I just can’t take to crochet. (Don’t post mean comments, okay? It’s just the way I’m wired.)

I decided I wanted my hat to have a bouquet of unique curlies, so I planned three different variations of the pattern.  I did one according to pattern instructions—a bit thin for my taste, and not quite curly enough.  

Craving something a little thicker, I added a second row of knit-in-front-and-back stitches to achieve a bigger, more tightly wound spiral on the next version.  

For the third I went for something in-between, adding a second row but only increasing every other stitch—almost as thick, but not as tightly wound.  And in all cases, lots of colors showing up everywhere.  I like the variety I achieved.  I also varied the length by casting on different numbers of stitches.

With all the parts complete, it’s time to block my hat. The headband refuses to stay down right now, insisting on flipping defiantly up, and I’m hoping blocking solves that.  Then I’ll attach my curlies and turn my attention to the final stretches of cable on the Knotty but Nice.

Monday, September 12, 2016

"Hatapalooza" hats from Great Yarns - Day 4

Charting my course...

Ah cables.  They require attention to detail between a lot of stitch patterns that look dangerously similar.   Cables to the front look dangerously close to cables to the back, and messing them up results in squiggles rather than clever cross-overs.

I’ve done cables in written directions, but this is the first time I’ve done complicated cables from a chart.  And I tell you, those pesky little squares with all those angles look far too much alike for me to be confident as I waffle back and forth between chart and key.

After making a significant gaff a few rows back, I decided it’s best to stack the chart in my favor.  I now go through each row before I start and write the stitch on top of the squares in question.  Hopefully this will keep my C4BPs from becoming C4FPs and other unfortunate slip-ups.

In to save my embattled confidence comes the simple but adorable KnitCol hat.  Stockinette and decreases are firmly within my skill set, and this self-striping yarn is doing all the work for me.  I’ve made it to the finished hat, and now I get to make all the silly curly-cues that give the hat its charm.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

"Hatapalooza" hats from Great Yarns - Day 3

Wait and stitch…

After a flurry to meet a bunch of deadlines last week, this week has been all about the wait.  

And I rot at waiting.  I am by no means a “sit tight” kind of gal.  

This week I’m waiting on publisher’s decisions, waiting on important phone calls, waiting for other people to do their part in projects so that I can take my next step, waiting for data to make a crucial decision, waiting for the next seasons of Longmire and Poldark to begin…lots and lots of cooling my heels.

What’s a fidgety gal to do?  Knit, of course.  Lots of knitting.  Engrossing knitting like the interwoven cables of the Knotty but Nice hat (row 9 is a killer!), calm easy knitting like the stockinette rounds of the curly-cue Knit Col hat.

At many times in my life, knitting has been as much consolation as it has been craft.  I laugh and say it is my coping mechanism of choice, but the statement is absolutely true.  Well, knitting, lemon meringue pie, and chocolate.  The knitting is the healthier of the choices, to be sure.

So I’ll keep waiting and keep knitting.  Because good things come to those who…knit, right?

Saturday, September 3, 2016

"Hatapalooza" hats from Great Yarns - Day 2

Two at once...

I’m definitely happy with my dual choice.  I rarely let myself flip back and forth between knitting projects—even though I’m often working on as many as four books at a time—so this feels adventurous.  I take a particular pleasure in the fact that they look so nice next to each other, complementary colors and all. I didn’t plan it that way, but happy accidents are one of the blessings of knitting.

Now, at the headbands, the hats feel similar.  One is ribbed, the other seed stitch.  The distinction will show up soon, when the Knitty hat veers off into challenging cables while the curly cue hat settles into a band of stockinette.  

Hats are pint-sized and portable projects, showing off their progress with a satisfying speed.  As I grind toward a difficult book deadline, the promise of accomplished knitting holds high value indeed. I think every writer should knit—it’s the perfect counterbalance to what we do!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

"Hatapalooza" hats from Great Yarns - Day 1

I’ll see your Hatapalooza and raise you a pair….

This is a fun new dynamic—a pair of projects for a DestiKNITions feature!  That short attention span of mine likes the duality, and I’m intrigued as to how I’ll plot this pair of projects out.  After all, there are so many options:

1)  Hardest first
Knock the tough one out so you can play with the easier one.  It’s a tried and true productivity tactic (“Eat That Frog!”).  But this isn't productivity, it’s creativity.  Still, I like the idea of tackling the cable challenge before I have all that easy stockinette fun.

2)   Easiest first
Especially when writing episodes, I often find it’s helpful to do the easiest or fastest project first so I can get ahead of myself work-wise.  You never know what will go wrong—in life or in knitting—so stacking the breathing room in your favor is always smart.

3)  Both at the same time
This works particularly well when one project is easy and the other requires concentration.  I’m not sure I could do cables in a committee meeting.  On the other hand, I could probably stockinette my way through oral surgery.  Do I make the easy project my travel knitting while saving the harder one for at home where I can concentrate?

After much deliberation and a cup of very good coffee, I chose option 3.  The curly-cue hat will travel around in my handbag while the Knotty But Nice will live on my coffee table.

DestiKNITters, which tactic would you have chosen?