I am almost sure it has happened to every crafter/artist out there. You start something with a timeline in your head, and suddenly two years have gone by and you're still not finished. It's like a mean trick of time. Didn't I just start this? Wasn't I doing well? I had a plan, damn it!
Well, that is what happened with this sweater. I had actually picked it out to participate in the Brooklyn Tweed winter knit along...from two years ago...nearly three years ago...I had the bottom portion of the body and one sleeve finished within a record one month and then it took two more years to finish the rest. I think that deserves a forehead slap. But I must say, I'm so glad I pulled it back out, kept chugging along, and now have a beautiful sweater to show for it. It's just in time for the weather to cool off, too. Bonus! It's like I planned it this way, after all.
Project Notes: This was my first color work cowl sweater in the round. I loved it. I always think I need to make a bigger size than I really do. I should have probably knit the smaller size here, but I always fear going too small. I added a little length in the body and sleeves because I am tall, but only an inch. I ended up miscalculating the sweatshirt color yarn (the main color) because of this addition and ran out at the very end...with only about three rounds left! How awful, right? Luckily the color was still available and I ordered a new skein and finished up without it taking an additional year.
The colorwork section was well charted and was definitely manageable for a newbie to this type of knitting. There were a few rows where it was necessary to carry three strands around, which wasn't my favorite. I like when there are only two...two is a nice number. However, the repeats in the pattern are very short, so it is easy to catch a nice flow, even with three strands.
This was a great sweater to knit. I still need to sew in my ends and block it, which means I am not really really done, but I call it done enough for now. However, I'll put up the actual finished sweater on Instagram when it gets there. Promise. And it will be soon. Less of a promise on that one, more of a goal.
Let me know if you've knit a sweater like this! Or even knit this sweater. Or maybe even took nearly three years to finish a sweater. I'd love to hear about it.
This pattern first appeared in the 2020 issue of Little Looms. I love this little project. It was so quick to weave, unlike most other things I try to tackle. I loathe to say something can be done in a weekend. I never get "weekend" projects done in the two-day allotment. I will call this a weekend-ish project. It is highly possible you could actually finish it in a weekend. If you don't, that's cool, too. I have three young kids, a mother-in-law, husband, plants and pets who all live under the same roof as me and my projects, I totally get needing more time.
This was the first time I'd used a full hemp fiber in my weaving. I have spun hemp and woven with hemp/cotton blends, but this was different. Hemp does not have the same elasticity as other fibers, so maintaining a consistent tension in the warp was tricky. However, it is a small project, so even if you wind up with hooks and lego blocks hanging off the back of your loom, the finish line is not yards away. I think it is totally worth it, too. The hemp fibers are strong and have gotten so soft with use. Plus, it is a sustainable and usually eco-friendly fiber choice.
Now that this pattern is for sale in my little Etsy shop, I'm excited to see other people's finished projects. I hope people find the pattern to be a great recipe where they can either make the bag as written, or adjust it to be their own. While it does require minimal cutting and sewing, the pattern is really straightforward and can be easily adjusted to accommodate different fibers, loom sizes, weaving structures, numbers of bags...
As for me, I am planning on weaving a few more of these functional cuties as soon as I finish the current occupant of my Cricket Loom. I am excited to be making patterns more widely available and hope you can check them out. Stay tuned, too, I have a few more originals in the works that should be popping up over the next few months.
Not to toot my own horn, but I LOVE this blanket. It is my new favorite relax-and-read-a-book snuggle buddy. I think one of the reasons I love it so much is that it was such a pleasant surprise. I'll be honest, I hate seaming blankets together. I can get on board with seams in a piecework quilt but I do not enjoy, nor ever will, seams on blankets that should not have seams. And by this I mean blankets that would otherwise be a whole cloth, your weaving width just did not allow you to make it that big so you had to make it smaller and sew it together later. Don't get me wrong, I have seamed my fair share of blankets and they are lovely blankets. My four-shaft loom is only 24" across, there is no avoiding seams. I just know I would like the blankets better if there were no seam(s). I think it might be a lack in seaming talent on my part; I never get a pretty seam no matter how I try. For example, I love my shadow weave blanket, and even though I lined up the pattern, the seams just make me sad because they are like little fiber scars running in rails down my blanket. But I digress, this post is not about my feelings on seams...it's about my feelings on NO SEAMS! BOOM!
The answer to creating a lovely plain weave blanket that was wide enough to be considered something beyond a baby blanket without the seams was double weave. Oh my goodness, you can push your rigid heddles to some next level nonsense with double weave. I feel like I have only scratched the surface of possibility on this one. And it doesn't stop there. You can enjoy some multi-shaft double weave, as well, I just haven't gone down that road myself...yet.
However, in a nutshell, by using two heddles on a rigid heddle loom and two pick up sticks, you can simultaneously create two layers of fabric. Why do this? I'm so glad you asked. Any width of weaving you can create on your little loom can be doubled by simply using the correct weaving sequence to ensure one side of your weaving (ultimately both of your selvedge edges together) is open and the other side is part of a continuous plain weave and closed (the center of your cloth). Then, miracles of miracles, when you pull your double layered cloth off your loom, you simply unfold it and have your continuous double width.
I am sure you can see how practical this is for blankets. A 32" rigid heddle (such as the one I use) can create a 64" width cloth. That is plenty big for a throw or lap blanket. However, it can also be used on a smaller scale with smaller looms. Have a 15" loom that never quite managed the proper kitchen towel size? Thirty inches ought to get it. Napkins on a 10" loom? No way. But with 20" of weaving width, sure! Even creating cloth for sewing garments seems achievable on little looms in the 20" range. Suddenly "too small" leaves the lexicon and "let's go" happily takes its place.
It is my goal to put up some tutorials on this wonderful process of weaving. I think it is one that perhaps is less familiar but could really open doors for some weavers feeling limited by width. I have put the pattern for this double weave creation up in my Etsy store. I have tried to include solid instructions on warping and the weaving sequence, including diagrams. As always, please contact me if times are tight and purchasing patterns is out of reach for you.
I wrote this article for KnitScene a little while ago. With the past year being what it was, I thought maybe it would be a nice thing to post here. Mental wellness is something that needs work. Mental illness is something that needs more attention than it gets. In this piece, I shared a small glimpse into what it was for me to be the partner of someone who struggles daily with anxiety and how knitting helped my family. It is still a journey my partner and I are traveling together, and everyone's journey is different. Whether you struggle with mental illness, have forgotten your own mental wellness, or just would like to know you are not alone, please give this a read.
It has been my personal experience that the things that change your life the most happen very suddenly and are rarely ever planned. This is not a profound observation, but it certainly applies to how anxiety turned my life a little sideways. I will state up front that I do not struggle with anxiety or depression, but my partner does. Before we were married, he was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. He was prescribed some medicine and we felt that was that. I would say we were young and naïve, but we were also complacent in understanding what something like struggling with anxiety actually meant. Then, two small kids deep in a new home and a budding career, the medicine stopped working.
I did not handle it well.
Things shifted so suddenly our heads spun as we tried to figure out what our new normal was going to look like. When I say I did not handle it well, I do not mean I shut down or did not support the suffering and struggle my partner was undergoing- I mean I tried to take on everything that had suddenly shifted. At the time, I had two children under the age of three and was a stay-at-home mother. There were a lot of us responsibilities my husband and I shared that suddenly became just me things. But I wanted so bad to be super mom, super wife, super supportive, and support self-sufficient. By taking on as much as possible and pretending it was easy was, I told myself, how I could lessen the stress on my family. After a couple of months of this it is fair to say I started to feel a little frayed around the edges. Yes, my husband had a mental health issue, but completely ignoring my own mental health was not the answer. How was I going to help my family if I fell apart myself?
As I was living this life change, I was not as aware as I am now of my struggle to stay afloat. I found it difficult to turn off the worry and stress that I carried in regards to what the future held. It was difficult to watch the daily struggle my husband went through to get to work and the mental fatigue I knew he felt when he got home where two small children and a wife waited for him. I felt guilty that he had the added pressure of being the sole financial support for our family. I will not pretend to understand what it feels like to have severe anxiety, but I know whatever worries I was feeling, my husband felt them even more keenly and was fighting them more fiercely- and that worried me, too. I felt like I was standing next to a monster called Anxiety and could do nothing as it dealt out despair and havoc on my loved ones.
Then, just as the anxiety seemed to take over our lives almost completely, there was another one of those moments, very small, that changed my life completely. My husband, who will read anything sitting near him, was flipping through one of my knitting magazines. Out of nowhere, he looked up and said;
“I like this sweater. Could you knit me this?”
I was taken completely off guard. I love knitting, I always have. My husband supports my passion for fiber, but he had never before asked me to make something for him. I was so tickled at the request; of course there was no question I would make the sweater for him. Even if it was the craziest, hardest, wildest sweater- I was going to knit it. Lucky for me, it was not an ugly sweater, but it was heavily cabled. At that point, I knew how to knit a cable, but I had never knit a sweater covered in cables. The sweater was the beautiful Belfast Cardigan designed by the talented Irina Anikeeva. I immediately bought supplies and got to work.
It was slow going. I could only knit at night after the kids went to bed. The pattern was just complicated enough that I needed to focus on almost every stitch as I made it. With charts spread in front of me, I put on my knit face and got to work. Some nights I only finished one row, maybe not even, and other nights I impressed myself with finishing almost an inch. With my little cable needle at the ready, I twisted and knit, purled and held. As I knitted, each stitch seemed to carry away a little bit of my own stress. By the time I was established in my evening knitting groove, the only thing on my mind was the stitch on my needles. I now realize these sessions with my yarn brought me back to the living moment.
Without really being aware of what I was doing, I had introduced meditation into my daily routine. While knitting, there was no regret about what happened or what we might miss out on or worry about what was going to happen next; there was only a blissful focus on the now. I found that I was sleeping better, feeling better, and recognizing my own limitations and coming to terms with them. It also helped me see not everything needed to be as it was, that changes in our family and how we did things was okay. That particular project, with the motivation of completing a sweater for my husband, acted like a pressure valve for my emotions; each night I was able to release the stress built up during the day and see the beauty grow both in my knitting and my life.
It was not always easy, even after I accidentally found a way to practice meditation through knitting. Just how sometimes you have to rip back a few rows when knitting, there were days where we had to rip back a few things in our lives and try again. But as the Belfast Cardigan came to life, the twisting cables and delightful diamonds seemed to represent the progress my husband and I made in redefining a new normal for us in a positive way. When the sweater was finally finished, I saw so much of our struggle and pain in the stitches, but also the hope and perseverance, hard work and dedication. It was like the cardigan held a secret documentation of our journey. It was such a special gift I was able to give. It also serves as a reminder, each time my husband slips his arms through the sleeves and I watch him head outdoors, that my knitting needles not only created the cardigan, they created a space for me to take care of myself.
Mental health issues are hard for people to talk about. There still seems to be a lot of social stigma around the words “mental illness” and that is a true tragedy. When 40 million Americans suffer from anxiety in any given year, it is very likely you know someone who is directly impacted. Let us reach out to one another, showing kindness and understanding, knowing that people can be struggling with things we cannot readily see. And when we need to remind ourselves to cherish the living moment, let us create space to do so and lose ourselves in some meditative knitting.
This scarf occupied my Cricket rigid heddle loom for about two years. I hate to admit that, but it is true. I finally finished it as a birthday present for my mom exactly two birthdays after the one I intended. It's wild how fast time can fly and how unforgiving weaving projects can be in reminding you of exactly how much time has swooshed past. This was the first project I have ever woven using Chenille, and I really loved the results. Chenille has a bad reputation for being a little fussy or difficult to weave, and while I did experience some tension issues, overall it was not a bad experience.
The colors were absolutely beautiful. I did not purchase this kit. In fact, my mom did but then decided against weaving the project. She suggested I take the yarn so it would not go to waste, so of course I did. The pattern, as written, was a little difficult to follow for a rigid heddle loom. I ended up winging it, choosing to warp in a 1-2-1 scheme where every other dent was double stuffed in a 10-dent reed. This may have been the intent of the original write-up, in which case...good. I think you may have good results, too, if you used an 8-dent reed and double stuffed every heddle. I did not try this, though, but it was my understanding the goal was for 16 epi.
I do not have a close up picture of the fringe, which a really regret, but you can crimp chenille for a really special finish. This is achieved by weaving a large section of waste yarn at the beginning and end of the fabric that is removed after wet finishing.
While the warp threads are multiple colors, with groupings of the variegated, solid orange and solid brown, the weft is all the solid brown chenille. I love how the colors shift vertically and the extra interest is added with the occasional splash of variegated thread. When the scarf first came off the loom, it was very stiff and felt a little bit like the interior of our family's 1992 minivan when I was a kid. However, using special finishing techniques for the fiber made a HUGE difference. I am posting those tips as a tutorial, it is well worth a peek if you plan on using chenille.
Bottom Line: The pattern itself was not amazing, but the colors and materials were a lot of fun, making the kit a nice choice. The color shifts in the warp are dynamic and make for a beautiful finished project. The project itself is easy to weave, as it has a plain weave structure and, once warped, is not fussy. Do consider reading up on the best ways to handle chenille on a loom if you have never used the material before.
This rug was an absolute joy to make. It took a little bit of time, as each loop had to be pulled up by hand to create the texture of this wooly floor covering, but it was meditative. The pattern itself was not complicated and it was easy to see the progression as the rug was crafted, so there was no need to stare at a pattern the entire time I worked. I had made a minor error with the colors of the warp, which I adjusted by adding a couple more warp threads...which threw off the motif ever so slightly which meant I shifted the pattern just a hair to accommodate my lack of attention while warping. However, all warping nonsense was completely my fault- the pattern is a good one.
The rug does shrink a little after it is finished, but not nearly as much as I thought it would. However, the loops themselves crinkled up on themselves eliminating my fears that toes might catch on the rug. The two images below show the rug prior to its bath; the loops are more upright. While the finished rug still has "loops," they curl down to the floor. I'm sure if someone really tried, they could get a toe stuck in there, but it would take some work.
Also, this was the first time I'd used Noro yarn. It was really beautiful and made for a very delightful texture in the final rug. The colors were also so pretty. As a variegated yarn, the color shifts in the rug are just the natural progression of the skein. As noted in the pattern, attention should be paid to where your color starts and stops as you move from one skein to the next- it can be beneficial to wind a skein in an opposing direction if it leads to less abrupt shifts between skeins. I noticed that the orange color shows a little more vibrantly in the photographs than in real life. The yarn is a little expensive, clocking in at about $18 for 100 yds, but luckily it is a really bulky yarn so only three skeins are needed to complete the rug.
Bottom Line: If you have a larger rigid heddle, this is such a great way to diversify your projects. The fact that you can make a beautiful and functional rug is really wonderful and you are sure to get compliments with this texture and design. Do be careful if you have smooth floors in your home- the finished rug is slippery on the underside!
Hello my lovely reader. I just wanted to make a quick announcement that I have put up a few of the projects you've seen grace this blog for sale on Etsy. Some of them are from the publications I have been contributing to over the past year or so and others are just fun little designs that have come off my loom. I have a few more that will need to go up in the store over the coming days.
The truth of the matter is that I seem to be collecting wraps, cowls and scarves at an alarming rate. There are only so many loved ones to gift them to and I personally can only wear and maintain a set number of accessories before I start to look a little crazy. I would love for these pieces to find a home and get the use they deserve. If you do take a peek, I hope you feel they are fairly priced. They are all original designs crafted with time and care using quality products.
Also, I have a few of the patterns written up, if there is any interest, I would gladly put some patterns in the store as well.
Here is the link to the shop:
YarntYouGladCo Etsy Store
I have linked the the individual photos to their purchasing pages, as well.
I think my favorite part of this particular endeavor of mine was that there are so many different parts that might inspire others. With both the article and the project, it could be avocado dye, spinning different types of fibers, resist dyeing, ikat-inspired projects, or just the finished project itself that sparks someones artistic journey. I feel like it is such a lovely way to share an idea, or family of ideas, that a person can really make their own. Some projects do not always lend themselves to this kind of creative flexibility. Goodness, this journey has inspired my own creative bug in a million different directions.
I hope you are able to access the article/project and enjoy all the pages have to offer. I am proud of this work. It pushed me as a fiber artist to really learn more of the many layers that go into a finished project and really more of myself as I deepened my relationship with fiber craft.
My son had this hat that he wore ALL THE TIME. It was his signature look...buffalo plaid with ear flaps. Hey, you know, whatever floats your boat, he rocked his hat and he rocked it hard. So, when I was browsing to make him a new snuggle blanket for his bed, this Fireside Afghan seemed the perfect match. My son is only 4-years old, though, so he is a little guy. I crocheted the full width of the blanket but only half the length, which kept the proportions correct for the blanket but made it a much more manageable snuggle size for my son. (Note: The original width becomes the length of the blanket and the length the width…if that makes sense.) The finished dimensions were 30” x 48” and it was perfect for him. And he was so patient. Even half the size took me a strangely long time. I think somewhere in my head I convinced myself the crocheting was somehow faster than knitting. That is entirely not true, especially when making such a dense, squishy cloth as this.
That leads me to the stitch. I learned a new one! This blanket is created with what is called the star stitch. It is a little more complicated than your basic stitch collection in crochet, but can be easily mastered with a few practice swatches. The stitch itself is lovely, making an almost waffle like texture over the blanket. Also, the wonderful thing about the 3D nature of a crochet stitch is that you carry all of your colors through your current stitches. This does two things: it completely hides your color floats and it really adds some nice thickness to the fabric of your blanket. I chose to crochet this blanket in acrylic because it was for a small child and will likely need to take numerous journeys through the wash. However, this would be a very warm blanket if it were made with wool. Oh, and perhaps the best thing of all is that there are no tails to weave in when you are finished! I know, right? Miracles do happen.
The color scheme of this blanket is modeled after a traditional buffalo plaid, mimicking the warp and weft relationships beautifully with the black, wine and red colors. However, this can be accomplished with many color combos, so you should not feel limited to this traditional palette. You simply need a light and dark of the same hue and black (or grey) to create this shadowed, pure color alternating plaid motif. You could also go with tints instead of shades and couple two tints of a color with white.
Summary: This is not quite a true beginner project, mostly because of the color changes and the length of time it takes to complete. However, I would label it great for an adventurous beginner and beyond. And the finished project is such a wonderful and thick blanket, it would look really at home in a cabin or lake house...or on your 4-year old's bed.