An Instagram Giveaway

I wanted to pop in quickly this morning to let you know I'm having a little giveaway over on Instagram. I've decided to give away 2 skeins of my naturally dyed wool! Both are 50g, approximately 440 yards of laceweight merino wool dyed with alkanet root.

To enter, all you have to do is find the above photo on my Instagram page, and tag a friend in the comments - that enters you both to win! You can leave up to 3 comments, tagging 3 different friends. I'm going to randomly choose a comment this Friday, January 30, and the person who commented and the friend they tagged will both win a skein! (U.S. & Canadian residents only this time, sorry!)

I've been having so much fun with these natural dyes, and I am excited to share some of it with 2 lucky people!


A Look at the Year Ahead

I'm a little late in posting this, seeing as how it's almost February (what??!), but I realized I never spoke about my knitting plans for 2015 here on the blog. At some point in December, when I was thinking ahead to 2015, I found a sock. You'll notice that's not plural. A lone sock, that was completed in November. 

November 2011. (It's ok, you can judge me.)

I know exactly what happened. In 2011, I had just knit my first pair of socks - a bulky, quick knit. Apparently, I thought that would translate over to this pair, so I cast on thinking they'd be done in no time. Obviously I was wrong, since that sock has been a loner for over 3 years. I decided then that in 2015, I would finally give this sock a mate, and that I would make it a goal of mine to knit more socks. As I write this, I have 4 pairs of handknit socks in my wardrobe. Two of those pairs were made with either bulky or worsted weight, so they are more socks for wearing around the house.

I then took a moment to take stock of all my sock yarn, and discovered I have enough to make 12 pairs (not pictured is another skein), and that's not including the lone sock pictured at the beginning of this post. So I decided to make my goal to knit through my stash. I didn't set a goal of a certain number of pairs, because I want to enjoy the process, and not stress out that I'm not doing it fast enough. I also purchased a couple of pairs of 9 inch circular needles (thanks to a tip from Julie), which I'm hoping will aid me in enjoying the process a bit more. I've also got Cookie A.'s book, Knit. Sock. Love, which inspires me every time I look through it, so I imagine I'll be making a few pairs from that book.

Along with socks, I plan on focusing on more sweaters in 2015. I am a total sweater knitter. I love seeing all the pieces come together to create a wearable work of art. I cast on for my first sweater of 2015 last night, another knit along with Jesse. We're knitting Sundottir, from Brooklyn Tweed Wool People 6. I was even a good knitter, and knit, washed, blocked & measured a gauge swatch!

Also on my to-knit list for 2015 are Oshima, Fold & Turn, Honeycomb Aran. Breezy Cardigan, Beatnik, a couple of designs floating in my noggin, and Seamless Hybrid for Jake. I have no idea if I'll get through all of these, or if I'll get distracted by new patterns along the way, but I know for sure that Oshima and Fold & Turn will get knitted this year.

What are your knitting or fiber goals for the new year? Hope your 2015 is off to a great start!


Experiments in Color

Back in October, I signed up for a natural dyeing class at our local homesteading store. Jake wanted to come too, so the two of us walked up to the shop to learn more about the colors we can derive from the natural sources around us. I'm so fortunate to have a husband that is so supportive, and shows interest in things I'm interested in. He was interested for different reasons, but I love that we can both go to things like this class and take something away from it. For me, it was all about learning about the dye process, and what colors I could extract from local plants. For him, it was all about learning about the chemical process, and the history of natural dyes.

I digress.

The class was a blast. I learned so much, and we each got to dye a skein to bring home. He chose madder root, I chose hibiscus flowers. They were completely different, and both so beautiful. Since then, I've been doing some experimenting with natural dyeing, and I thought I'd share some of it with you. 

These are the most recent skeins I've dyed. The one on the left was dyed with ivy leaves, and the one on the right was dyed with alkanet root. I bought the alkanet root, but I harvested all the ivy leaves from our yard - that makes that skein even more special to me. I'm really happy with how these both turned out, even though the alkanet skein is a bit more variegated than I had hoped. I think it was because I put in some baking soda after the yarn was in the dye pot, and it didn't reach all the dye. It's still lovely though.

And here they all are. These are all the skeins I have that have been naturally dyed. From left to right are: madder root, hibiscus flowers (those two are from the workshop), marigolds, black beans overdyed with a tiny bit of hibiscus, black bean overdyed with ivy, ivy, and alkanet root.

I've been chatting back and forth with some local fiber enthusiasts who are also experimenting with natural dyeing, and we're in the process of planning a time to meet up and do some dyeing together. I've been having so much fun with it, and would encourage you to give it a try if it's something you've been thinking about.

I'm always excited about spring and all the flowers that grow in my yard, but this year I'm excited to use some of those flowers to dye with! I've been dreaming of a little dye garden for years, and am more inspired than ever to plant one.


Rough Ridge

I've been a bit quiet in this space since the new year, but it hasn't been intentional. I've been doing all kinds of fiber related things, but I just haven't made the time to pop over here and share them with you all. You can follow along with my adventures on Instagram, if you'd like.

So, I'm breaking the silence to show you a new pattern.

Rough Ridge is a slouchy hat, designed to use just one skein of Brooklyn Tweed Shelter. It's made up of 3 different cable panels, surrounded by reverse stockinette stitch. I love this hat. It's so cozy and wooly, and has the perfect amount of slouch. I really enjoy hats with a little bit of slouch because it doesn't give me a bad case of hat hair, like tighter fitting hats do.

I wanted the cables to continue into the decreases, so the decreases in the cable section are a bit different than the rest of the hat. I'm very happy with how they turned out - they blend in almost seamlessly with the cables, allowing that yummy cabled texture to continue up the entire hat. 

Shelter was a treat to work with. It's very wooly, but not as itchy as I thought it might be. It's very warm, and I just love the color, and flecks of tweed. My only complaint has to do with the elasticity. After the first wear, the brim stayed stretched out, which isn't something that I've experienced before. I do worry about the longevity of it - I'm afraid that after a few months of regular wear, the brim will be too large. I think this just means that I need to knit myself another one in a different yarn!

You can download Rough Ridge for free here, or click the link above.
Happy knitting!


A Labor of Love

47 inches of ribbing.
1,075 yard of sock yarn.
US 3 needles.

I feel like I could stop right there and not write anything else, and most knitters would understand what an undertaking these would. But I won't do that.

Guys. I knitted a pair of tights! I feel such a sense of accomplishment when I say that. Not because the project was difficult - it was super easy. But it took me almost 6 months! And there were definitely times when I thought they'd never be finished. There were a few things that kept me going: the first is that there are a lot of projects I want to knit in 2015, but I knew if I started anything else, I'd never finish these. So getting them off the needles early in 2015 became a real goal once I finished up my Christmas knitting. Secondly, every time I tried them on, I could tell that they were going to be so awesome once they were finished, and I was definitely not wrong there.

These are insanely warm, and so ridiculously comfortable that I'm pretty sure I could wear them every day. 

 (You probably never thought you'd see this many photos of my butt (or lack thereof))

The pattern is Tangerine Tights from Mel Clark's book Knitting Everyday Finery. I definitely bought this book for this pattern specifically, but it has a few other patterns in it that are definitely inching towards my "to knit" list. The instructions were pretty clear and easy to follow. I mean, it's basically just tall socks up until the crotch. I had to modify it a bit to knit them two-at-a-time, because I knew if I didn't, I'd make the first and never finish the second (it's best just to be honest with ourselves sometimes). Plus, this way I knew they were exactly the same, which is great peace of mind. I do wish there had been some more photos of the gusset for the crotch, but I'm a very visual learner, so photos are helpful for me sometimes.

The yarn I used was Knit Picks Stroll Tweed, a blend of wool and nylon, which I'm hoping will make these long-lasting tights. I bought the yarn during a sale, making it affordable at the same time. I used just over 4.5 skeins, so I've got about 300 yards left since I bought 6 skeins. I had my eye on using Cascade Heritage Sock yarn, but when I saw the tweed, I fell in love. 

I know I'm crazy, but I could totally fill my drawers with so many different pairs of knitted tights, in all different colors. I will, however, not knit them again in ribbing. I think had these just been stockinette stitch they probably would have gone a bit quicker. I'd also love to knit some up with cables.

I've heard this is what having a baby is like - you forget all the struggles of childbirth as soon as you feel the love for your child, and a few years later you do it all over again, even though you swore in the heat of childbirth that you would never do it again. The feeling of frustration I often felt while knitting what felt like neverending ribbing is already starting to fade, I can hardly remember declaring "I will NEVER knit another pair of tights", and I'm imagining myself with multiple pairs of these.

Can you blame me??

You can see more photos on my Ravelry project page, and more of my in-progress photos on my Instagram account, or by searching the hashtag #takingontights.

I want to thank every single one of you who helped motivated me with these. Every comment, either here, Ravelry, or Instagram, every email - they all helped keep me going. You guys are the best!


2014 in Review

I thought it would be fun to look back over some of my favorite projects from the last year. It was pretty amazing to look back through Ravelry and see everything I made in 2014. Some of those things, like my Amherst dress, kind of surprised me. For some reason, it feels it's been more than a year since I made that. Thank goodness for Ravelry to help us keep track off all of this, right? I do love that dress. It's a regular in my wardrobe rotation.

This year, I put out two personal patterns, Logan, and The Most Autumnal Socks Recipe. You can download them both for free here. I also knitted two garments that were made without a pattern, that I'm pretty proud of. In the warmer months, both my Spring Top, and my Sorbet Cardigan got a lot of wear. I'd still like to write up a basic recipe for the Spring Top, but other than that I don't plan on doing any pattern writing for either of these. One of my all time favorite knits this year (and maybe ever) was my Heirloom Doily Rug. I will have to admit though, it no longer sits on the floor, thanks to the kitties. I hadn't put anything on the bottom to grip it, so they would run into the room, jump on the rug and slide across the floor - a cat slip and slide, if you will. I enjoyed making something other than clothing, and would like to knit more for our house in 2015. Jake bought me this book for Christmas, so I think it's safe to say he enjoys knits for the home, too! The Aidez I knit for my mom has been my favorite of the three that I've knit. I loved the fit of it, and am finding myself dreaming of another one (I know, I know...) for me, maybe in Cascade Eco wool. My Antrorse is still hanging in there as a super cozy and warm sweater, although it seems to have stretched out some over time. I'm thinking it may just need a re-blocking, and maybe 5 minutes in the dryer to help it come back to shape. But, overall I think my favorite knit of the year was my New Girl Skirt. Not only because it's flattering and fashionable, and I love wearing it, but because of a casual KAL with my Ravelry friend Jesse, a true, caring friendship has been born, and I'm so thankful for that. I really love the fiber community. It's such a warm, welcome place, full of genuine, caring people, and I'm so fortunate to be a part of it, and can't wait to enter 2015 with all of you!


His & Hers Honeycomb Toques

If you've been a reader of this blog for a long time, you may have wondered why my husband rarely makes an appearance wearing anything knitted. The main reason is that he's a very hard person to knit for. I have dreams of knitting him gorgeous pullovers and cardigans, full of cables and intricate design techniques, like Timberline, but all he wants is something plain. No design, just stockinette stitch. Oh, and a mock turtleneck. And quite honestly, the thought of knitting a man sized sweater in plain stockinette stitch that has a mock turtleneck makes me shudder. Thanks to a suggestion from Gail, I think we've found a happy medium with Elizabeth Zimmemann's Seamless Hybrid. Let's be honest, it's a far cry from the cabled man-sweater of my dreams, but if I've learned only one thing in our 5 years of marriage, it's that sometimes it's all about compromise, so I hope to make him that sweater sometime in 2015.

I really wanted to make him a hat for Christmas, and I was shocked (but happy!) when he agreed to the Honeycomb Toque pattern. I gave him a few yarn choices, and he went with Knit Picks Full Circle Worsted, which I believe has been discontinued. I had a skein in grey, and one in green, and he chose the grey, which is a nice masculine color. Since I also had a skein in green, I thought it would be really fun (read: super dorky) to make myself a matching hat out of the other skein.

Now, Jake & I are no strangers to wearing matching clothing. Here's a photo of us from 2007 (!!!) wearing our matching rain jackets. Granted, the colors are different, but we loved those jackets and wore them until the inside lining came off.

(yes, I used to have my nose pierced. I miss it, but apparently it's not "age appropriate".)

I have no doubt that we will be that old couple you see walking down the street with matching outfits on, though at that point in our lives I'm sure that we will have graduated to matching patterns AND colors.

I digress.

(How handsome is he?? I sure lucked out.)

I really enjoyed knitting these hats. The yarn was very nice to work with, and I'm a little sad it's no longer available. It was a nice, sturdy, single ply that's very soft to the touch, especially for a 100% wool that's not superwash. To make Jake's, I decided to modify the pattern a little after reading through others notes on Ravelry. Apparently the pattern, as written, is a little tight, and better suited for a more petite head. For his, I cast on 96 stitches instead of 80, and increased to 112 instead of 96, which gave me two extra pattern repeats. I had to fudge the decreases quite a bit, and am kicking myself for not taking notes, because I'm actually quite pleased with how the shaping came out.

The crown shaping is one of my favorite parts of this pattern, so I'm glad it still turned out okay. For mine, I knitted the pattern as written, and after a gentle blocking, the hat fits perfectly.

And now, the photo I'm sure you've all been waiting for.