Knitting Feeds

He’s good at sharing

Yarn Harlot - Thu, 09/12/2019 - 12:04

First things first – I posted this on instagram, but here is home – so once more with feeling,

Guess who’s going to be a big brother? We’re all terrifically excited, except for maybe Elliot who talks a good game and generally seems in favour, but definitely has no idea what’s headed his way. He’s got a little while to get it together though, baby won’t be arriving until March (the sign means March 2020, not March 20th, 2020, which is neither accurate, nor a detail she’s silly enough to reveal online. Who on earth needs the whole internet knowing if your baby is late? A watched uterus never contracts, I tell you that. The kid will be here sometime around March. Or maybe February. Or maybe April. We’ll never tell.) Elliot’s birthday is the 8th April, and it’s unlikely he’ll share it with a sibling, but he’ll definitely be almost three when the interloper arrives, and quite equipped to start sharing his family. He is very good at sharing most other things thus far, and is a gentle and loving guy, so he’s prime big brother material.

I got so excited about telling you (we’ve known for a little while, but Meg wanted to wait a while before posting) that I immediately cast on a little sweater for the new baby, thinking that I’d have it all done and ready to show you. I’d post a picture of the tiny sweater, and I’d say something charming like “Guess what” and you’d all guess right and it would be amazing. (Remember what I said about scripting? Yeah, I did it again.)

I had the perfect yarn and pattern all ready, and I supposed I could have started it before Meg said I could tell you about it, but that I think it’s really smart to hold off on investing in human sparks. Mother Nature can be a very harsh editor, so I waited, as one does, and then on Friday I decided that I was going to knit this sweater by Monday, or more technically, I was going to finish this sweater by Sunday night and then I’d have time to block it before Monday. I know that sounds very speedy, but it was a very tiny sweater. (It’s Norwegian Fir, in case you’re wondering. Absolutely charming and simple and just the thing for a brand new person. The yarn is a long loved and unnamed super soft merino that I had in the stash just waiting for its opportunity.)

That’s why you couldn’t have shocked me more when A) it started coming out much bigger than I expected and B) was taking a lot longer than planned. (A and B were clearly related.) The first time I thought “my, this seems a little bigger than I thought it would be” I did what we all do when knitting looks a bit funny. I kept going and hoped the problem would go away.

The second time that I thought “this really does look large, and why are the armholes so deep?” I did what we all do when you can no longer ignore a knitting problem, I started double checking things. I had knit a swatch, and I had even washed it, and I had let it dry before I counted stitches, and I had made it big enough that it should work, and I had used the same needles… and the same yarn… nevertheless, I went back and double checked all of that. Everything was correct, so I went back to ignoring the problem again, figuring that I must have taken all leave of my senses and forgotten the actual size of babies. I kept knitting.

A few rows later (oh fine it was when I finished the body) there was no denying that it was too big. The fabric looked good, so I knew it wasn’t a gauge problem, but it even looked to me like there were more of the leafy increases on mine then there were on the newborn sized ones in the pictures, but sometimes pictures aren’t accurate or they can be mislabeled or… I went back and checked the pattern this time. Again, everything was fine. I was knitting the smallest size, so I’d highlighted the first set of numbers in each bracket, and yay verily those were the numbers I’d gotten. It was all working, it was all perfect, it was just…. big. I started thinking about how I could alter the pattern to make another one that was smaller, but I was already feeling sort of bad that this delicious yarn wasn’t making what I thought it was. I kept knitting.

By now I was part way down a sleeve, and I was still noticing that it was too big, but you know, I’d double checked everything and it was all so… right, that I figured that even though I could see it was wrong (obviously wrong) that I must be mistaken. I thought something was going wrong, but nothing was, and so… I kept knitting. I really can’t explain what I was thinking, except that on some level I must have believed that it would be smaller after I did more knitting, that if I stayed the course, it would just work out. How could it not?

Almost at the cuff, I was feeling annoyed because even though I was still following instructions it was getting bigger, not smaller, and I casually tossed my iPad (after checking the pattern again) onto the chesterfield, and as I did that, I swiped with my thumb or finger in a funny way, and the whole pattern swiped to another version of the pattern, and my heart stopped. I looked at it, wondering why there were two versions. Hadn’t noticed that before, and I wondered if maybe one of them was in another language. Probably Norwegian. No- I flipped back and forth, they looked the same. Identical, in fact – except for one little detail.

Do you see it coming? Yup. The first pattern in the set is baby sizes, and the second pattern in the set (with the same picture, but clearly labeled) is big kid sizes. I had, at some inopportune moment right at the beginning, swiped from one to the other, and was now making an absolutely perfect size 2-3 years, instead of 0-3 months.

So- I had a date with a ball winder instead of a blocking bath, and I’ve started all over, and I’ve remembered two things about being an experienced knitter that still clearly apply. First, most mistakes come from a failure to read, and second, experienced knitters don’t make fewer mistakes. We make bigger ones faster.

Yesterday was a travel day for me, and today I’m in Maine (at the last Make Wear Love retreat) with some of my favourite knitters and colleagues- I’ll post more about it tomorrow – today, knitters and the ocean beckon, and I’ve got a sweater to re-knit.

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Surprise Ending

Knitting | Work in Progress - Sun, 09/08/2019 - 19:45
Last week, I was moaning about the hot mess that was my red, white and blue afghan, but since then a lot has been accomplished. The border has been finished and bound off, and for now, the afghan is cooling its heels while I gear up to weave ends (to do this well, I have to be in the right state of mind) and prep for blocking.

To stay productive and continue to chip away at the WIP pile, I picked up my Wyndfael cowl. Designed to match my Wyndfael mitts, this was supposed to be a super-quick knit. Somewhere along the way, I was tempted by another project, so it was set aside. Now, 11 months later, I'm finally ready to buckle down and finish it.

Similar to the mitts, I'm incorporating accent stripes in rich purple, a color I love with this shade of turquoise. I also decided to work rounded ends for visual interest, a bit of a surprise ending if you will.

The first end is completed (sorry, bad photo of the wrong side) and I've begun working the second. With a bit of luck and some knitting time, I'll soon have this piece bound off, and ready to finish and block. (Update: Done!)

Once both the afghan and cowl are done, my WIP list will pared down to three active projects, a feat I plan to celebrate by immediately casting on a rainbow shawl. With that motivating factor in mind, I'm heading back to my knitting!

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Chaos

Yarn Harlot - Thu, 09/05/2019 - 20:48

Years ago I heard someone say that they had to do something about their home because it was suffering from Chaos. That sounded about right to me, but it really resonated when they said it was actually CHAOS,  an acronym for Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome.

That’s where my house is today. In any contest between people and things, I come down on the side of people every time, and so over the last few months the limited time and energy I’ve had has gone to supporting people – and I’ve given the house a lick and a promise so many times that you’d be an idiot to actually lick any part of it. I spent yesterday at my desk, catching up on a million things that were burning my work life to the ground, and today I’m trying to find the house, one room at a time. Part of that is the knitting that’s piled up around here in really weird little piles of hopes and dreams. Some finished, some unfinished, some knitting that needs fixing, some knitting that’s just yarn, there’s even a nest of circular needles arranged atop the piano like I’m the strangest of all possible birds.

Do you know that thing, where you’re going to go over to someone’s house  and they say  “Oh my goodness” (or something like that) “I suppose it’s ok to come, but I’m warning you, the house is trashed” and you get there, and their house looks better than your house does when you’ve just cleaned it top to bottom – you know that thing?  This is not that thing. This is actual disaster. Dust bison roaming the living room, if they could roam around the stuff I’ve placed in their way.  There is even a dresser that came from Amanda’s house to mine four weeks ago, standing with the drawers out and stacked by the chesterfield, right in the middle of the living room. (Well, it’s sort of off to the side, obstructing access to what used to be the dining room, before I started keeping yarn, mail, camping crap and laundry in it.  People, we are talking trashed. We are not talking about a failure to dust here. There is some heavy lifting here before I could get down to dust and be left with just that, so today I’m working to get it down to a level where I can consider opening the door instead of just burning the thing to the ground and moving into a tent in the park. (Note to self: move tent from dining room before burning house down.)

Still, atop all of that there float a few finished objects, mostly simple things that I’ve completed over the last few weeks when my brain was mush and my time limited. First up – I finished my Peace of Wild Things shawl.  This was my “just before the rally” knitting, a simple chart, big needles, worked a few rows here and there and still finished anyway.  (It was a fast one.)

The pattern’s linked above, and the yarn was a single ball of Berrroco Ultra Wool Fine – it’s a good yarn, cheap and cheerful, only $12 a ball at WEBS (though my ball was swag from Berroco, sent to be a treat at a retreat.)  It took almost the whole ball, with maybe 20 metres left at the end, but that’s an economical knit anyway you want to slice it.

Even with the pattern, that’s a completely reasonable Christmas gift, as long as you don’t add in the time – and I don’t.  I put knitting in my entertainment budget, so if you figure that took maybe 10 hours? (Maybe a bit more, I didn’t count.) It’s …. about $2 an hour of entertainment, with the pattern.  You can’t beat that – and into the Long Range Planning box it went.

Next up – I was casting about the house for something simple, but entertaining that I could putter away at without really needing a brain or to keep good track of a pattern, and I remembered that I had the pattern and yarn for Goldstream in the stash. I was a member of the Gauge Dye Works club a few years ago (am now, too, for the record) and this fetching little number arrived in the mail, and I was enchanted from the get-go.

It’s a neat concept, the club – yarn dyed specifically to go with patterns – they work together, and I loved the idea here- you knit back and forth in garter stitch, following the rules for a half-pi shawl, but every time you get to a bit of yellow, you make a little short row leaf. That’s it.  They show up randomly.  This, my friends, hit my brain in the exact same place as a self striping yarn does.

I was enchanted entirely – and enticed to knit a little bit further each time just to get to another hit of yellow. The yarn’s Gauge Dye Works MCN (Merino, cashmere, nylon) so a little hit of soft and cozy didn’t hurt either.  I trucked this around everywhere – finally finishing up at the cottage.  (I was knitting it while Elliot played at digging – it might have gotten a little involved, but cleaned up fine.)

Another lovely thing, and off it goes to the Long Range Planning box as well.

Pattern: Goldstream, by Andrea Rangel, Yarn: Gauge Dye Works MCN, Goldstream. As an aside, if you click on that yarn link, you will see that for once, even though it has been two years since that yarn landed at my house, it is inexplicably and suddenly available anyway. (It is either a miraculous co-incidence, or the Catherine or Andrea spotted it on my instagram. Amazing, either way.)

We won’t discuss the state of my August Self-Imposed Sock Club Socks, they’re not done, but almost. Can I distract you with a question?

How, I ask you – how, is it possible that after this long photographing knits and posing them all over the yard, and local parks, trying a million ways to figure out how to stretch a shawl out entire to show it off,  how is it possible that it only just now occurred to me to use the clothes line?  I’m putting everything there from now on.

(PS. Two days in a row!)

Categories: Knitting Feeds

That one got away from me

Yarn Harlot - Wed, 09/04/2019 - 15:52

Hello all, and thanks for waiting for me. I know it’s been a long time, and thank you for the emails and comments of concern – I got hit by some sort of combination crap train. When I left for the Rally everything was on fire, and then about halfway through the Rally the Blog (the software, not you) broke, and you wouldn’t believe how hard it was to fix. In fact, it was impossible to fix from the back of a bike, so it got fixed in the few days between being home from the Rally and leaving with the family on vacation, but I was sick for a few days there, which I now think was just exhaustion, on some horrible cellular level. Then the whole family headed up to a cottage for nine days, to rest and be together on the anniversary of my Mum’s death. I spent that time doing my best to put all my relationships back together after months of neglect, and maybe I can do the same here. Pull it all back together. I tried to figure out what pictures to show you from the last while, and I’ve essentially settled on postcards – some of them I posted on Instagram, but they’re everything I’ve been up to, and I’m sorry I was gone. I feel like things are back to “normal” now, if there is such a thing.

Every year I write about the Bike Rally after it’s done, and I feel like I always start these posts the same way – by noting that every year has a theme that I figure out over the course of the thing. Sometimes I worry that these aren’t real themes – that as a writer, I’m looking for marrow that doesn’t exist and creating plot where there is only chaos and random events. I even know in my heart that I sometimes write scripts for the ways I think things will happen and the way I’d like people to behave – and then feel extra disappointed in real life when everyone fails to act upon their psychically issued instructions. I did this a while ago when I thought someone was going to show up somewhere, and they didn’t, and I texted them and they made it pretty clear that they weren’t coming, and instead of just being disappointed once, I managed to convince myself that they were trying to throw me off so that they could surprise me.

They weren’t, and my secret scripting just meant that I was disappointed twice. All of this, my propensity to look for meaning where there is none, – to attribute motives to people that they don’t have so the plot’s great – I know that it isn’t always real, but I sometimes can’t help myself, and since I’m me, I look for that theme.

In retrospect this year’s theme – real or not, asserted itself really early on – the earliest it ever has (if it does) and I could feel it, and I feel like I was trying to connect with it, but it was such an…. uncomfortable theme that I think my inner self didn’t really want to know. No matter how clear it became, I looked the other way.

Two years ago I decided to take on the two year commitment as Co-Chair, because I felt like I was in such a great place in my life. I was working hard and things were on track. Elliot had just been born and I was planning on travelling a little tiny bit less for a few months, I was writing tons, my relationships were in a great place, my inbox was even more or less under control. My 50th birthday was on the horizon, and honestly, I felt like I was as strong and polished as I was ever going to be.

What’s that expression – Man plans, and God laughs? Immediately after I felt like I had it together and had been accepted for the Co-Chair position and had all this bandwidth to spare— my Mum died and absolutely everything went sideways.

I began a period of time that has been truly the loneliest of my life. I didn’t just miss my mother, though that pain has been acute – I felt like her absence screwed up all my relationships, right down to my relationship with my work, my writing – it effected every aspect of me. I didn’t dream for months. In that first year, the Bike Rally was a lifeline. If I had known that my mother was going to die, I would have never, never taken on that job. I wouldn’t have thought I could cope with it, I wouldn’t have thought I could manage it and my grief, but in the end it was sort of perfect. I had to go to the meetings, I had to manage a team, I had a Co-Chair, Ted – and I felt like I couldn’t unfairly burden him because I was grieving, and somehow having to show up for something kept me at least a little tethered. That leadership position and my family were honestly the only things that did. (The theme had already started to sneak in around the edges.)

Then the time came for me to begin the second year of the position, and the way it works is that there’s always two Co-Chairs, an outgoing ( that would be me) and and incoming… but nobody came.  Despite having just come through a ridiculously lonely year – this surprised me. I was prepared, and I decided to make the most of it, but I was surprised. It hadn’t happened with the Rally before, and I admit that I took it kinda personally. (I was taking a lot really personally around then, so don’t read too much into that.) The workload, rather predictably – when you go from two people doing a job to one – doubled. I had a great Steering Committee, and we got through it really well, I think, but do you see the theme starting to develop?

I didn’t. I kept pushing back, and the theme kept trying to assert itself. I started finding myself alone in decision making, alone working, alone thinking – which as a natural collaborator and consensus seeker, was hard for me. I found myself alone in presenting concepts or ideas, and I found myself alone when there was disagreement. I had still totally failed to fill the hole my mother’s support, guidance and help used to occupy, and was trying to fill it with resolve and hard work. At the same time, many of my support people had their own big life stuff going on. I have always enjoyed having just a few really good friends rather than a wide array of casual ones, but there’s a risk in that. While I struggled, my chosen few were all entering new phases, completing school, being crushed by jobs, travelling – the theme, it seemed was not screwing around, now recruiting others to make sure that I got the message. I didn’t.

I kept pushing back against it, trying to not be alone… I remember one day in particular, right before the Rally, I’d had a tough thing to do – some big decision or pressure, I can’t remember what, and I’d texted about eight people looking for some support in that moment, and every single one of them was busy. I sat and cried – and I know now that I was crying because I had the theme wrong. Through it all, I thought that the planet was trying to teach me to get good at something that I’m frankly terrible at, which is admitting weakness or asking for help. I’d spent the first year after my mother’s death trying to tough it out, and now I’d finally conceded that it was impossible to do by myself, and I’d reached out…and nobody reached back. I figured that I was doing it wrong, or that I was unloved, one of the two for sure, and I swung back and forth between those options, and hunkered down, determined that if I had to do this work alone, the least I could do was do it well – if sort of unhappily.

The morning the Rally began, I organized the last few of my things, printed my speaking notes for the morning, and I took out my worry list and made sure I was properly anxious, and left for the departure site. When I got there I was totally freaked out. I looked out over the 100 crew, and the 200+ cyclists, and I worried about not funding the agency. I worried about programs getting cut because I couldn’t get the fundraising done. I worried about someone getting hurt – I worried about everyone on the Steering Committee who was new to their role and hoped that we’d all prepared together enough. I worried that the sacrifices of the last two years wouldn’t be enough. I worried about what we’d do if something went wrong. (This despite the fact that I had the Preparedness Plan memorized.) I worried about what I’d say, about doing it by myself – about nobody being publicly responsible for a failure but me, and I realized in that second that not wanting to be alone was really about not wanting to be alone in the responsibility for it all, and that I was actually going to do it by myself, and I was responsible, that it was mine alone, and squared my shoulders and stepped up to the microphone, and I started.

In that moment, two things happened. First, I completely accepted that nobody was actually going to show up and rescue me, and the second was that in that moment the exact moment that I gave up and accepted the aloneness – it ended. Ken was there, and Pato, and Cameron, and Ted, and Joe, and Jen and the girls and in a horrible instant, I realized that they had actually been there all the time, and that The Point of the whole thing hadn’t been to teach me to ask for help – that’s why that hadn’t worked. The point of the thing had been for me to learn that I was alone, that I could be alone, that I could bear the load by myself.

From the moment my mum died, my overarching wish has been for her to come back. This is what I whisper to myself at the lowest moments of my grief.  “Come back, Mum please come back.” I have felt that her death, so unexpected and fast and horrible was actually the start of a cascade of loss and change. Change is not my best thing at the strongest of times, and alone isn’t my best thing either, and now here I’ve been – alone and in the middle of what feels like an earthshake of change, and I just kept plodding through wishing for my Mum, wondering how I’m supposed to do anything without her and wondering if I even can. It turns out, that I was supposed to learn (at 50, how disappointing) is that my mum wasn’t coming to help me, isn’t coming back and I could do a big thing on my own, or maybe this is all crap, and that it’s me looking for something that isn’t there again – looking for meaning and plot in an endlessly chaotic system, but frankly I like it better my way.

In the end, the Rally did what it always does. It grew a force field of love around our little travelling town. Everyone helped everyone else, there was support aplenty, we funded the agency beyond budget and my hopes, and in the two years I was Co-Chair and then Chair I led to the Rally to their two most successful years, and I wasn’t alone- except in the responsibility, which I guess was what I was there to learn, or if there’s another lesson I’d like to ignore it for a while, because that one was more than enough, thank you. Those of you who wondered if I still loved the Rally – in the days when it was crushing my life like a bug before we left – I do, I truly do.  All that was reborn in me on my bike, watching people pull together, feeling them trying to make the world a better place.

Up at the cottage, all of us together, I was struck by how surprised I still am when Elliot calls me Grammy, how it makes me feel like a bit of a fraud. Grammy was what my girls and Hank called my mum, and what I called my maternal grandmother, and I still can’t believe it’s me. Not that I’m a grandmother, I’m fine with that, but that I’m The Grammy. I come from a long line of women who are absolute powerhouses, and I worry about living up to that, about the responsibility of that, of what it is supposed to mean to be a “McPhee Woman.” I think it’s probably pretty likely that there was no theme to the Bike Rally this year – that it is absolute nonsense to think that the universe, as expansive and unfeeling as it is, worked to personally teach me a lesson. It is wholly unreasonable to believe any force had an interest in me, and were there such a force I would hope it would concern itself with things that really need fixing – like putting out an Amazon forest fire or curing cancer in a five year old, and that it is far, far more likely that I’ve dreamed all this in an attempt to give a tough situation meaning. I get that. The odds are awesome that it was just a hard job and a rough time and here I am trying to turn it all into a life lesson other than the real one, which is simply to do your damn work and try to be a good person while you’re at it.

At least that’s what my mother would say, though I’m trying to think of some of her as my own voice now.

This ended up being a lot more personal than I planned. Part of the delay in getting it to you was the process of deleting and replacing it sixteen times – I don’t worry about telling you my thoughts, by the time they make it to the keyboard I’m usually pretty comfortable with them – but I worry that without seeing my whole life, writing something like this will make me seem sad, lonely or lost, rather than someone trying to learn to deal with those feelings when they are inevitably part of a good, happy and lucky life. I’ve deliberately chosen photos this time that reflect that balance… a happy life. I am lucky, I do feel lucky – and while the last six months in particular have been more of a challenge than I can say – I’m satisfied with how that turned out. I ended up doing a job I feel really, really proud of.  PWA will be able to serve clients the same way and more for the next year, and I want to thank all of you for being part of that. We changed and saved lives together, I feel that.

While I haven’t been as present for you (or anyone) as I’d like over the last while, you’ve been more than present for me. Every comment, donation, email of support – it’s meant more than I can say. You are, as always, a big part of what balances my life. Thanks for not letting me slip under as I worked on this big thing. I love you all.

See you tomorrow. (I mean that. I have knitting to show you.)

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Hot Mess

Knitting | Work in Progress - Sun, 09/01/2019 - 19:42
In the US, it's not just a holiday weekend, it's the last major red, white and blue celebration of the summer. Combine that with the fact that several weeks ago, I publicly promised to finish two WIPs before I cast on something new, it seemed appropriate to devote some attention to this afghan.



Unfortunately, it looks like a hot mess right now. I'm tackling the border, which in this case means working with four pairs of circular needles, so knitting is quite the juggling act. Several times, I've gotten distracted and continued working past the point where it was time to switch to the next needle. Last evening, I did this not once but twice, which meant I spent almost as much time rearranging stitches as I did knitting.

Frustrating? Yes. Fiddly? Yes. But I'm trying hard to keep my eyes on the prize, the opportunity to cast on a much-wanted shawl once this project is off the needles.


If you're in the US, have a safe, relaxing holiday filled with family, friends and fun.

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Pattern | Herlacyn Afghan

Knitting | Work in Progress - Sat, 08/24/2019 - 19:32
With its crisp lines, subtle textures and vivid colors, Herlacyn offers unlimited possibilities. Named after an Old English term for harlequin designs, this fast and easy unisex afghan represents a modern take on a traditional form.

Ideal for mini or partial skeins, the geometric shapes require just two color changes per row. Choose related shades for a custom gradient or ombre as shown, opt for classic neutrals, or pair soft gray with a single contrast color for an on-trend look. 

Herlacyn Afghan  | Fast & EasySkill Level 2: Easy
Yarn: Worsted weight; adapts to any weight and multi-stranding
Shown: Cotton Fleece (Brown Sheep)Needles: US 8 (5 mm)
Sizes: 3 sizes (baby, lapghan, throw)Yardage (approx.): 820 to 1400 yards               

Fast, easy and reversible, this afghan sports a subtle texture on the front and plush texture on the back. Strip construction keeps your project contained and portable, while the modified three-needle technique makes seaming a breeze and preserves drape.


 With Herlacyn, the:
  • Crossed stockinette stitch is easy to execute and creates a stable fabric with an appealing texture.
  • Color work is a breeze and just two easy color changes per row produce crisp diagonal lines.
  • Strip construction keeps your project compact and portable, so you can work on your afghan anytime and anywhere.
  • Pattern is simple enough for any moderately experienced beginner. It's concise but complete, and includes a schematic along with directions, stitch counts, yardage and dimensions for three sizes.
  • Yarn is worsted weight or its equivalent, so your project grows quickly.
  • Design is versatile and unisex, suitable for all ages, and can be worked in different yarns and countless combinations. 

The pattern includes written directions for three popular sizes ranging from baby (28 x 36 ins) to lapghan (35 x 44 ins) and throw (43 x 54 ins). Designed for worsted weight yarn, the pattern readily accommodates other yarn weights and multi-strand strategies. It’s your decision. You can work it as written or use the handy Quick Reference guide, schematic, tips, tricks and easy modifications to customize the result.


Herlacyn is a quick, fun knit suited to anyone who can cast on, knit, purl, increase, decrease, ktbl, k2tog, k3tog, slip stitches, pick up stitches and bind off. 

Ready to get started? Click here to buy the pattern nowHappy knitting!

To read more about this design, see FO | Herlacyn Heatwave and FO | Herlacyn Breeze.
To explore possible neutral color schemes, see 9 Nifty Neutral Combos.
Categories: Knitting Feeds

Not-So-Scrappy Scrap Blankets

Knitting | Work in Progress - Sun, 08/18/2019 - 13:00
As much as I love the look of a nicely executed scrap blanket, you might have noticed random is not a thing I do well. 

Unfortunately like most knitters, I have an abundance of scraps, leftovers and partials tucked in the stash. The challenge for me, therefore, has been to create a variety of ways to put these leftovers to good use. These afghan designs have helped me do just that, and they might help you do the same.


Angletyn



Worked on the bias, Angletyn's large-scale chevron design is highly adaptable. If you have lots of leftovers of similar weight, simply arrange the colors in a sequence you find visually pleasing, then knit each strip in a series of two-row stripes. If you have varied scrap amounts, try knitting stripes of different depths based on how much you have of each color. 

Color Check



Designed as a multi-color project, Color Check features a simple slip stitch that's ideally suited to burning through scraps and leftovers. Pick a unifying color for the check outlines and use scraps and leftovers for the fill colors. Since this reversible design consists of two panels seamed together, you can change colors as often as you choose without worrying about lots of ends to weave — simply bury them inside.


Drumlin



Worked with another easy slip stitch, Drumlin is a versatile, quick knit and is fully reversible. The stitch creates a fluted texture on both sides, and its attractive worked in a single solid color or in alternating two-row stripes. For each strip, try pairing two solid colors (like the example above) or match a solid with a complementary confetti, speckled or variegated yarn.


Herlacyn (pattern coming soon!)



From the beginning, Herlacyn was designed to help use up some of the many partial skeins lingering in the stash. In the example shown, colors were arranged in a diagonal pattern to create an ombre or gradient effect, but there are countless ways to adapt this pattern to accommodate yarn on hand. Try working the triangles in a single contrasting solid, rich or bright rainbow colors, or various shades from the same color family.


Lucben



Worked in strips rather than individual blocks, Lucben offers a fresh take on the timeless look of a classic 9-patch blanket. You can do what I did and mix various shades from the same color family to create a custom gradient, or choose a light and dark color, then alternate them for a checkerboard effect. Try a tonal approach using closely related hues for the blocks and borders, or try a simple two-color strategy, using one for the blocks and the other for the borders. 


Tikkyn


With its charming pindot stitch, Tikkyn offers a host of scrap-busting possibilities. Keep the emphasis on the cozy texture by working each strip in a different color. Tone down a busy variegated, speckled or confetti yarn by pairing it with a related solid shade. To accommodate different amounts of yarn, try working long stretches in one color combination and shorter sections in another, similar to Tikkyn Flagstone.


Twegen



Worked in yet another reversible slip stitch, Twegen is an attractive, easy way to put leftovers and partials to good use. For an interesting effect, choose a unifying main color and work each strip with that and a mix of colorful scraps and leftovers, both solid and variegated. For lighter weight yarns, try multistranding to create a fun marled fabric. For an ombre effect, sort yarns by color family and work each strip with the darkest shades at the bottom, medium ones in the middle, and lightest ones at the top.


Valere



With its compact geometric shapes, Valere readily lends itself to scrap-busting. Try a strategy similar to the one shown above, using a single color for the background and vivid contrasting colors for the banners or flags. If you have a lot of similar leftovers in a single color family, work all the banners in these varied shades. To use up small bits of yarn, work the banners in alternating two-row stripes. 


Keep in mind most of these ideas will work with a wide range of patterns. While you think about what type of scrap-busting project you prefer, take time to organize and inventory your scraps, leftovers and partials. That alone may be enough to prompt ideas and inspiration.

Some knitters, of course, are hyper-organized with yarny leftovers, but I'm not one of them. If I have lots of a specific type (I'm looking at you Cotton Fleece), I store all of them in the same small bin. With more limited leftovers, I tend to tuck them in with other yarns of the same or similar weight and fiber makeup, while super-small quantities often live out their last days snuggled with other small bits in a plastic container or ziploc bag.

Whatever you choose to do, I hope you found some of these tips useful. Each pattern highlighted here includes directions for three sizes (baby, lapghan, throw), along with detailed yardage breakouts, and easy modifications to help you transform all the yarn into something pretty and practical. Happy not-so-scrappy knitting! 


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