Ziggy Wore Gloves

When the world lost David Bowie, there was an audible gasp and whimper. Tears flooded the streets. Art was made to celebrate his life, and express the sorrow and loss. I bought a zippered pouch featuring an homage to Ziggy Stardust from Slipped Stitch Studios–one for me, one for a friend who has a love for Bowie that runs very deep. At the same time, the genius over at Pandia’s Jewels came up with her own tribute to the Man from Mars in the form of neon orange blotted yarn. The color was named Ziggy Played Guitar, and I bought it in the Snug base (fingering weight, 75/25 Merino wool/nylon) in anticipation of making something for this same friend who loved Bowie and Ziggy. However, I had no idea what it was going to be.


I started with a search on Ravelry that filtered out patterns in my library that used no more than 462 yds. of fingering weight yarn, since that was the estimated amount I’d be getting. I looked at EVERYTHING. I wanted to use as much of the yarn as possible while still making something functional. Functional meant some kind of accessory like a shawl or a hat since I only had so much yarn. I filtered through accessories until I found four or five sets of long fingerless gloves that made me cry out in excitement. I messaged my friend to see if long fingerless gloves might be something she’d like to have. She responded very positively. I assigned the yarn to the pattern I liked and saved the pairing. I had to delay starting the gloves until I had finished some of the other projects ahead of it.

Recently, I finally found the time to devote to make the fingerless gloves. There has been a lot going on at home, adding a bit of stress, which always sends my Knitting ADD into overdrive. Though I had three or four WIPs, I needed to have something small and repetitive that traveled well so I could fit it in my purse wherever I went. It was kismet when I finally pulled Ziggy out of its project bag and located all the needles required. I hadn’t planned on getting it done now but it fit all the requirements I had: small, repetitive, easily memorized, with the bonus of lace. It was time to cast on.

The Opera-Length Lace Gloves by Shiri Mor start with a small 3×3 rib around the fingers, which moves into the first set of the lace pattern repeat, which is only six rows long. I expanded it to include two lace repeats because I liked the look better, but the pattern only requires one. From there, the hand is put on hold in favor of starting the thumb, which is also the length of one lace repeat. Then, the thumb is attached to the rest of the hand and the glove takes shape. Rather than use a thumb gusset to taper the hand, the shaping of the glove is achieved through changing the size of the needles. Start with US 2 for the first bit, then move to US 1 for a few lace repeats, and down to US 0 for a few repeats until the wrist is complete. Then it’s back up to US 1 for the forearm and on up to US 2 for 15 lace repeats that will finish the length of the gloves. Then, US 7 needles are used to make the final few rows of 3×3 ribbing and bind-off.

The gloves don’t take a whole lot of time to make, if you like monotonous repetition, which I do. It does, however, take a much longer amount of time if it’s a distraction project from a double knit scarf, a blanket, a second sock, and an endless amount of I-chord. Like I said, the Knitting ADD has been tickled a bit aggressively lately. Oddly enough, the neon colors were soothing. I liked the way the yarn worked with the lace. I was a little worried about the way the color was pooling during the US 0 needle portion but it kind of looks like Ziggy’s iconic lightning bolt, so I can’t be mad at it. It’s hardly even noticeable when the gloves are worn. I think they look fantastic.


I named these gloves Ziggy Wore Gloves to pay tribute to the man who inspired the yarn. I chose long fingerless gloves to reference Ziggy Stardust’s sweater outfit that included arm warmers, leg warmers, and a body suit. I’m extremely happy with the results, as is my Husband. I feel good about these gloves, and about giving them to my friend. If I were to do a pair for myself, I’d probably switch to larger needles and adjust accordingly since I have larger hands than the average woman. The gloves still fit, as is, but it’s a little tight.

I sent them off to my friend, and she said they came at just the right time. My bright, happy Ziggy gloves were already working their magic. When I told her the name of the yarn and the inspiration behind it all, she agreed it was all very fitting. I couldn’t ask for more.

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Hello, Vice Yarns. Goodbye.

Vice Yarns was a small brand of hand dyed yarn created by Elizabeth Inman. I first found her stuff on Etsy where I was looking for some ombré yarn to make a shawl for my MIL. I looked through her shop and found Into the Whorl, an ombré yarn of dark green, blue, and purple in a 500 yd. cake.

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I bought it immediately and shelved it indefinitely because I decided to take the shawl in another direction. I looked around the shop for a different color scheme but I couldn’t commit to anything. A few weeks went by when I had finally decided to buy something for myself (sorry, Mom). That’s when I found out the Vice shop had closed for a fiber festival. Unfortunately, it never reopened. So, I went over to my favorite online retailer, Jimmy Beans Wool where I found more Vice Yarns. Since their selection was very different from the Etsy shop, I had some browsing to do.

My intention was to look with the shawl in mind. I wanted a long ombré where the color change is subtle. The cake I already bought had too many color changes for how I wanted it to look. I found some nice yarns but I wasn’t sure any of them would suit my MIL. I did, however, find something for myself. I know. I have a problem. That admitted, I found this GORGEOUS gradient kit that NEEDED to come home with me. Once I figured out a way to justify buying all available kits, I placed my order.


The kit is called My Bloody Valentine and it’s made up of six mini-skeins of fingering weight yarn in a red scale. Each mini-skein is a different color ranging from pale pink to deep blood red. My plan is to use it as the background color for a two-toned sweater pattern I saw in the Fall 2015 issue of Vogue Knitting. I roughly calculated that I could  double the yarn to fudge the sport weight required for the sweater.

As it turns out, I was wrong. I was very, very wrong. Just before I had decided to start the project, I looked at the yarn requirements again. That’s when I found out I had grossly underestimated my solid contrast color by half, and I’d ended up about one full kit (600 yds) short of the doubled length I’d need to make the ombré background. So, I did what any knitter would do: I went back online to find more.

The Etsy store was closed but the Vice Yarns website still worked. I started at the top of the list of retailers and worked my way down the page. Forty websites, 15 redirects, and three phone calls later, I had guaranteed myself one kit from a little shop in North Dallas, TX named Yarn and Stitches whose owner, Hope, hoarded as much as she could when the gettin’ was good. Hope said she had one kit in the store and she’d have to check her back stock at home to see if she had more. She promised a call the following day with the results of her search. Hope became my shining superstar when she called back, as promised, to tell me she had two packages ready to be sent by her husband at the Post Office, if I still wanted two. I affirmed my desires and we finalized our transaction when my credit card was accepted.

I ordered two just make sure I was covered. I could guarantee four kits would make up the yardage but the extra fifth kit was just in case my math was wrong–or if I ended up needing any bit more of any individual color. When the kits arrived a few days later, I discovered I had ordered two new kits for a good reason. Two of the colors in the new gradient kits are off from the kits I already have.

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JBW kit on the left. | Hope’s kit on the right.

This is when getting two skeins comes to my benefit. To fix the issue, I will mix the lots. As long as I always have one skein from the JBW bunch held together with one from Hope’s bunch, everything should work out so there won’t be any obvious lot changes. I’ll still use the extra kit if I need to, but I keep hoping I won’t have to use much, if any at all.

Even with all the drama and the fixes, I can’t start the project yet. I still need more of the contrast color to fill out the rest of my yardage needs. But, I know all of this will be totally worth it because I’ll have an amazing, and very unique sweater. It wouldn’t be possible if I hadn’t found Hope. She had the exact kit I needed, and she has lots more Vice Yarns. Please, if anyone needs to stock up on some Vice Yarns, give Hope a call. She’s got it all.

Couldn’t Wait Tank

I was at my local craft supply–the good one with the magazines–when I saw the new Knitscene Summer 2017 hanging out on the rack. I thumbed through it and saw a few tank tops, most noticeably the Pivot Tank by Lana Jois. I was in the middle of a bunch of half-finished projects but I NEEDED to cast on. I went home and ransacked my cotton to see if I had enough to make the tank. The answer was yes, and no. Yes, because I had enough theoretical yardage of Cascade Yarns Ultra Pima Cotton but not in the quantities requested. According to the pattern, I was going to be a little short on Teal but I was good to go with the Aqua. So, I did what any problem-solver would do: I added a third color to make up the yardage.

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I abandoned any and all projects I had in progress so I could see if I was a genius or a fool. Adding White as the third color to make up for yardage worked, but after I finished the first panel, I did some math and realized that I only needed one extra skein of my deficient contrast color instead of two. So, I frogged the whole thing and ordered a new skein of Teal and hoped the new dye lot would match. When I started over, I made both sides simultaneously so introduction of the new dye lot wouldn’t be glaringly noticeable. If the stripes change hue at the same point on both sides of the tank, it is considered a design feature, not a flaw. It’s a flaw if it suddenly changes hue 2/3 of the way through the second side, and I would not stand for it. I hopped online and ordered a new hank of yarn that matched the color code on my hank at home, and some other cotton to satisfy my thirst for summer knits.

I couldn’t contain my excitement when my packaged arrived in the mail a few days later. That tank would be finished in no time! I ripped open the bag to find I had ordered the wrong color. Seriously? It turns out, there are two hues of teal: Teal and Major Teal. The dye code on my yarn matched that assigned to Major Teal when it is actually Teal. I don’t know where the mix-up occurred because I bought the original yarn YEARS ago so, much could have changed in that time. I let out an exasperated breath on sound, packed it up, sent it back, and ordered the right color. My quest to make a quick tank top had turned out to be a much longer exercise in patience than I had anticipated.

While I was waiting for all the return/exchange processing to occur, I heard the calls from the other WIPs I’d abandoned, and new projects. To ride out my small defeat, I put the finishing touches on the Katniss Vest, started and finished the Vickie Cowl, started a blanket, and started a double knit Star Wars scarf. The devil finds no refuge in my hands.

Once I had the right yarn in hand (with perfect lot blending), I continued working on the tank, which really did knit up quickly once I had everything I needed. It starts with a 1×1 ribbed hem, then switches colors to start the stockinette body. Each color stripe is knit for four rows. There is zero body shaping, only tapering at the arm hole. I made it a size bigger than I usually like it because I wanted it to stay an oversized, lazy tank. Both panels are knit the same with the colors reversed. The neckline of the tank is finished with an I-chord hem the opposite color of the last knit stripe. The straps are made in a 1×1 rib as part of the tank’s side, extending up and over to connect and match the other panel. The striping on the straps changes every two rows and features a really great break at the side seam. The first and last 15 stitches of the tank are bound off, as are all the stitches that constitute the dangling strap, but the stitches that will be sewn together to form the seam are kept live. Those stitches are brought together for a 3-needle bind-off done in the opposite color. It is the easiest break I’ve ever made. I love it.


I couldn’t wait to start this tank, which is why I named it the Couldn’t Wait Tank, but it seems an ironic title since I did a whole lot of waiting during its construction. I was too eager to start, which lead to some panic-induced yarn assignments, rushed starts, lots of frogging, A Case of the Wrong Dye Code, and a slight cursing of the Gods. It’s okay, they know me. I ended up with a tank top that is exactly how I thought it would be. It billows a slight bit but doesn’t make me look shapeless and boxy. I could probably go down a size if I were to make it again, but I might add a slight bit more length to the body since I’m tall. Though it took way longer to construct than it should have, I’m happy with the result. I have a new summer tank to wear with my new summer shorts. All I have to do is finish a few of my other projects and I’ll be able to cast on the OTHER tank top I liked!

Vickie Cowl

img_4884Please allow me to introduce the first in the series Things I Made While You Were Mad at Me. I call it the Vickie Cowl. I had originally conceived the idea to make a cowl for my dear friend last year. I had planned on giving it to him as a Christmas gift using a gorgeous ombre yarn he had picked out. I ended up using a birthday gift yarn a knitter friend had given me years ago because my swatch made me switch. Though I was reluctant to use a different yarn, the cowl turned out better than I had envisioned.

Originally, I started with a yarn he picked: Lima Colour by Rowan in the color Mongolia which is shades of green that gradually change from grass green to a deep jungle palm green. It’s beautiful. Lima Colour is 84% baby alpaca and 16% Merino wool/nylon blend in a chainette construction. He had picked it out as the kind of green he liked the one time he accompanied me to a yarn shop that was within walking distance of his apartment at the time. When he excused himself outside to escape personal boredom, I bought a couple of skeins to make him a gift.

I wasn’t ready to start working on this former Christmas gift until recently, though. I was getting ready to start the project in early December when things between us took a bad turn, which is the last time I heard from him. I’ve been told to leave it alone, which gives me difficulty. I can’t sit on my hands. I knit with them. I turn fidgeting into productivity. I knit through everything, including my problems. So, what happens when one of my projects becomes part of the problem? I needed to figure out my deal with the pattern, and the yarn so I could carry on. I found my answer in the form of this series.

I decided I wanted to make the cowl, regardless, because it was a good pattern and the ombré yarn would look lovely in cowl form. I was so very excited to work with the yarn that I kind of forgot what fiber I was using. I should have known better. Alpaca is a notoriously slippery fiber and would never make the stitches pop like they did in the magazine sample. I would have stood a chance if the alpaca was an accent fiber to add softness, not the main feature. It needed some coarser fiber to make the stitches stand out. Nothing popped and the pattern got lost in the fuzzy lusciousness of the baby alpaca. I couldn’t let the yarn disgrace itself in this tangled mass of stitches it had become. It deserved better. I kept the pattern, shelved the yarn, and leaped headlong into my worsted yarn bucket for a solution. I resurfaced with a small gamble.

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I pulled out two skeins of Vickie Howell’s yarn Sheepish, a single-ply 70/30 acrylic/wool blend distributed by Caron (now distributed by Bernat), in the color Gunmetal-Ish. It was a birthday gift a friend had given me years ago. I loved the color and, of course, Ms. Howell, but I hadn’t found the right pattern to match the yarn. I finally found it in the Fiddlesticks Cowl. It’s a simple cowl that is knit in-the-round, beginning and ending with an I-chord border, and uses traveling stitches to create a crosshatched design across the fabric. The pattern called for a worsted weight yarn to be knit on size US 5 needles which would result in a relatively stiff fabric. The Sheep-Ish was a gamble because some single-ply yarns like to flatten out. The swatch, however, showed me this yarn was up for the task. The yarn did a very good job keeping its shape, and had good stitch definition. Though it did still flatten out a bit, the traveling stitches were enhanced much better than the original alpaca swatch. When knit up, Sheep-Ish has a pearlescent sheen that is enhanced when caught in the light. That sheen makes the stitches visually pop. I’m rather taken with the effect.

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When I started the project, I was determined to make this specific cowl with that specific yarn (Lima Colour). But, the more I worked on the swatch, the clearer it became that it just wasn’t a good match. I had to give up the idea of what I wanted, face the reality of what was in front of me, and figure out what was best for the pattern, and the yarn. The life lesson is not lost on me.

During this process, I discovered I have a real attachment to the Lima Colour, and I may drive myself a little crazy matching it to a pattern, but that’s a problem for Future Me. I am happy enough to have finally put my birthday gift to good use, and to see the pattern realized so well. I named it the Vickie Cowl as an homage to the yarn (and lady) who came to the cowl’s rescue. It looks nothing like I had imagined but that’s a good thing. I imagined an impossibility. It could never exist. What I have in front of me is better than what I imagined. In reality, it’s probably the most versatile accessory I’ve ever knit. It could go with anything! And, it made good use of my birthday yarn, which is most important. I always try to show my greatest respect to my yarn through pattern matching, and I’ve got myself a winner here.

Katniss Vest

I got a request for a vest like the one Katniss Everdeen wore in the movie adaptation of Catching Fire of the Hunger Games series. I was totally in to the whole idea but I was picky about my pattern. I wanted it to look as much like the movie as possible but I knew it would be difficult since it looked like it was woven rather than knit.

A very exhaustive Ravelry search later, I had a decision to make. I was torn between two patterns: one used applied fishtail braids to achieve the look while the other used some wrapped tubing to achieve a more accurate look around the collar. I’m going to be totally honest and say that a trip to the hardware store is what killed the other pattern for me. I shelled out a whopping $10 for the PANEM Katniss Cowl Wrap by Dahlia in Bloom, which is easily the most expensive single pattern I’ve ever purchased, and consulted on yarn.

I trotted down to the local craft supply store and picked up some Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick Tweed in the set color theme of dark gray or black. I ended up with some charcoal tweed that looks more like a heather black when knit up. I started with three skeins, which quickly expanded into 5 skeins when I read about customization and embellishment.

Once I finally cast on, it was a very quick knit. The vest is knit in two pieces: the cowl and the body. Both are knit flat, seamed or grafted to make it circular, and sewn together to create the vest. Both pieces start small but increases on one side create a drape for the shoulder and under-arm portion. Knit and purled channels are formed through the body and cowl to create a guide for future braid placement. Fishtail braids are created separately and sewn in the purl channels for embellishment. The middle is worked straight, then decreases on the same side as before to create the same effect on the back as the front until the remaining stitches equal the original cast-on. I needed to customize the size to accommodate the body circumference of my recipient, which was not listed in the included sizes for the pattern. Customizing was really easy since it only required adding or subtracting inches to work during the part that loops under the arm. I also added an inch or two to the cowl circumference. There were no instructions to do so but I did it anyhow because it seemed like it needed it.

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The pattern required one fishtail braid, each, to be applied to the purl channels at the top and bottom of the cowl, and the bottom of the body. After that, any extra braid placement is up to personal preference. I took a look at the vest after I got the required braids sewn on and it was basic. Like, it was so basic it came with a pair of leggings and an antioxidant drink calling itself Kate. Truth be told, I didn’t want to add more braids because I hated the process, but the thought of letting Katniss become Kate hit me right in the Strong Female Role Model and I had to fix it. I was supposed to make the braids independently and attach them to the vest, sewing in two knotted ends. Uh-uh. Not happening. I did that for the first three and it was nonsense. I decided to double the length of yarn needed for each braid and fold it in half, with the halfway point anchoring the soon-to-be braid to the purl channel through two or so loops of knit fabric. That left only one end knot to sew in per braid, which is a much nicer way of doing the braids, in my opinion. The braids provided more structure for the cowl to stand up and gave more depth to the body. It looked way more badass than its previous self. Kate took a walk, and Katniss was back.

The Katniss Vest was a fun knit, and I’d gladly do it again for myself or as another gift. The pattern, itself, was easy to follow, and there were a lot of helpful tips and explanations but I still think it was a bit over-priced. I’d consider one of the other patterns that uses a herringbone stitch to make it look woven, though the prudent part of my brain says that I should apply the herringbone to this pattern and see what happens. The braids are yarn-gobbling monsters but they really make the garment, so be sure to buy PLENTY of yarn to allow for experimentation. I had to buy an emergency sixth skein to make and sew on the last braid. All in all, I think it was a very good adaptation of an on-screen garment, and I know it will make its recipient very happy.

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I Am My Own Monster

I started a tank, abandoning all other projects in progress. It was ill-advised and has caused a slight bit more trouble than it might be worth. The tank is a two-tone stripe-y kind of deal but the patterning is reversed from front to back. Cute, right? Totes. However, I wanted to make it in the Cascade Ultra Pima Cotton yarn I already have. Unfortunately, the quantities given told me I’d need more yardage of any given color I have.

I decided to add a third color stripe to make up the difference in yardage. My chosen colors were Teal, Cool Mint, and White. I really wanted to use the Teal and Mint but I only had one Teal whereas I had two of the others. Teal became the accent color that would get me through the end. I worked up the first panel and got half way through the second panel before I decided to experiment. I frogged the active panel and restarted using only the Teal and Cool Mint. If my calculations were right, I’d only need four skeins worth of yardage instead of five. I’d be able to save the White for another project and get away with using the Teal and Cool Mint to get this tank done. I’d have to buy one more skein of Teal to finish the tank but, I’d have to buy one more skein of yarn for the pattern reserved for the White, regardless, so I didn’t feel too bad about adding to my stash. Lots of frogging and math later, I discovered I was right. I scoured my favorite websites (and even gave it a week to see if quantities improved) until I found the right combination of available yarn that would require the least amount of additions to my stash.

What started as a quick side project turned into a perfectionist nightmare. However, during the time I was knitting and frogging, I put the finishing touches on the Katniss Vest. I still have a second sock to finish, a cowl to work, and some brain matter to sew on a hat, not to mention the new tank to finish and at least three other projects in my mind. This tank has been a little reminder that instant gratification isn’t always the way to go. It would have been better if I finished all my WIP’s first.

Hold on, Let Me Cast-on One More Thing

I’ve been hit by Knitting ADD.

A month ago I started a Katniss vest for a friend. I stalled work a little because I didn’t want to sew on the braided decoration. So, I started my first pair of socks for my Husband then started working on the Brain Hat for the Science March. After finishing the cap for the brain hat and one sock, I wanted to reward myself with an easy little cowl. Well, once I started knitting it, I realized the stitch definition of the pattern wasn’t showing up well on the yarn I chose. So, I kept the pattern, switched the yarn, and saved the other yarn for a future project. I was half way through two projects and starting on a third when I took a stroll through the periodicals section of my local craft store and found some tank tops in the Summer 2017 edition of Knitscene. I had to cast-on IMMEDIATELY!

I still have a second sock to finish, yards upon yards of I-chord to knit for my brain hat, the cowl to finish, some extra braiding to attach to the vest, and now a tank top to create. (Yes, I have to create it because it’s my instant gratification project.) I briefly considered doing something with the rejected cowl yarn, then I came to my senses and called it a Frog on my Ravelry queue. Five WIPs are enough for me!

 

 

Hats for the Resistance

I’ve been a bit busy fulfilling orders from friends and family who wanted a hand knit PussyHat. Not one of them is the same, and they all have loving homes.

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Right now, I’m working on a brain hat for the March for Science. Both patterns I downloaded are really loosely based, but free–at least until the march. I’m working on the fingering weight version and I’ve had to remake the hat a few times. I am sure I’ll be able to get it done in time for the march, but I’m not sure I’ll be able to do more than one like I had hoped. Only time and my fingers will tell.

Things I Knit While You Were Mad At Me

Knitting has been a great stress reliever for me, ever since college. I’ve knit my way through finals, moving, wedding stress, my parents’ split, the miracle of life, the depression of death, emergency hospital visits, and everything in between. In times of great stress, I break out the needles and work on something complicated. The more complicated the pattern, the more stressed out I am. Indicators include lace patterns, large projects, intricate cabling, charts that require a physical copy and a line-keeper. Other indicators include accruing multiple WIPs, and choosing finer gauge projects. I’ve kept it classy with only one pattern at-a-time, occasionally dipping into a second project here and there. But, every streak must end.

I took a look at my knitting bag and admitted to myself that I’m stressed and it shows. Inside my bag contains Sock 1 of 2, knit with fingering weight yarn in a herringbone pattern; the beginning of a basic hat covered in yarn-gobbling I-chord, made in fingering weight yarn; a large body covering using bulky yarn. This translates into my first pair of socks, a brain hat for science, and a cowled vest inspired by Katniss Everdeen of Hunger Games fame. I started the vest for a friend who recently relocated Northerly, where it has actually snowed in June. Then I started the second attempt at my first pair of socks for my Husband because, honestly, I owed him. Then, I remembered the March for Science is coming up and I’ve got to knit my brain hat. I’ve stalled on making the Katniss vest because I have to sew black-on-black fishtail braids on what will become a rolled hem around the body and cowl, each. I need really good light for the sewing, but it’s difficult to find during my free time. The herringbone socks are a design I tried two years ago. I had to frog the previous attempt because the yarn was too thick which yielded a stiff sock that was too big. Complete disaster. This time, I’m working with a mystery yarn that seems like a better match. In this case, thinner is better. The brain hat is going to take its sweet time because it’s my first, and artistic interpretation makes this anyone’s game. It’s kind of a mess in there.

Personally, there is a lot going on. We are in the process of preparing our house to sell, which has taken a lot longer than initially anticipated. One thing after another has prevented us from getting our place up on the market and morale is down amongst the adults. Work has me restless because I’m not sure I want to continue down the career path I’m currently riding. On top of that, a very dear, long-time friend and I are experiencing a rift. We’ve had a series of bad interactions which culminated in our last encounter that ended in strong words of anger and an uncertain future. I know I need to give him the time and space he needs but it’s difficult. Usually, I’m pretty comfortable in my Patience Pants but I’ve been driving myself (and those around me) a little nuts because I’m obsessing over this rift. There’s nothing I can do right now but give it time. But that doesn’t stop me from thinking about it, about fixing it, and where everything went wrong, non-stop. Though it has gotten better, there is a lot of chatter in my mind and I need to quiet it down. Knitting is the best way I can do that.

Typically, I’ll  start a stress-relieving project to distract myself from the problem, place my focus on a detailed project that would require a lot of attention. This time, rather than distract myself, I’ve decided to lean into it a little bit. There are a few projects I had in mind for him, even a new yarn I bought specifically for a project that was supposed to be a Christmas present. Rather than stopping production on all ideas I had for him or reassign the projects and yarn, I’ve decided to continue on making things for him as part of my new series called Things I Made While You Were Mad At Me. It will be an ongoing series filled with the things I had planned on making him. It will be a background project that will act as a therapy for me. The finished pieces might find their way to him, they might find their way to someone else. I haven’t quite decided what to do with everything yet, nor have I cast anything on for the series but I can feel it coming.

The “Sadness” Sweater

The first time I met “Sadness” was not in the movie, Inside Out. It was inside a Disney Store. We took a family excursion for costumes, or something, and I took a detour through the mugs. My Husband has a great mug with sleepy Mickey Mouse lamenting mornings and I wanted something similar. Well, I didn’t find it. Instead, I found a little blue mug that looked like it was set upside-down when, in fact, it was right side up. It had a worried little blue figure on it saying, “One of those days.” I had no idea what the mug referenced (the movie hadn’t come out yet) but I knew it spoke to me and I needed it. When the movie finally came out and I got to see the personality associated with my new favorite mug, I was convinced kismet brought us together.


I love Sadness. She reminds me of myself when I was younger. I cried a lot. Like, a lot. I was painfully shy and would have preferred being lost in the crowd except for the fact that I was taller than every other child in my class, and I have an identical twin sister who preferred a less reserved existence. I can identify, a lot, with Sadness but that doesn’t mean I am sad. My default setting is Happy & Bright.  I like being happy. I like working my own unique magic. I like being the best, most comforting, homecoming kind of hug you’ll ever experience. And I couldn’t be any of that without understanding Sadness. So, to honor my new little blue friend, I decided to make a sweater.

I started with the yarn. I went in search of a light blue yarn that would be a nice homage to Sadness. I hoped for nothing smaller than DK, though worsted would have been preferred. I lucked out when a friend was destashing and I scored nearly two bags (19 skeins) of Thistle by Louisa Harding Yarns in Aqua. It’s an Aran weight yarn made of 60/40 Merino wool/alpaca. It is very soft and fluffy, with a beautiful drape, and slight halo on the fabric. It’s like petting a puppy, it’s so soft. Like, wow.

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Once I had the perfect yarn, I was on the search for the perfect pattern. I created an active search on Ravelry for a knit Aran-weight pullover with a turtleneck. I found a few candidates but the winner was Laura Aylor’s Elliewood. It’s a tunic-style pullover with a full turtleneck, a kangaroo pocket with a lighter weight lining, and thumb holes on the sleeves. It had everything I wanted, and more. It was simplistic with its thick ribbed hems and turtleneck, complimented by a basic stockinette body. The kangaroo pouch was almost a deal breaker because Sadness didn’t have a pouch in the movie. But, I thought it added an element of reality to my homage. What’s the most comfortable item of clothing in my closet? A hoodie. What’s the best feature? The kangaroo pocket. Was I going to let my need for authenticity cloud my judgement? No. The sweater had kangaroo pockets, and BONUS thumb holes in the sleeves. This pattern was presented to me as a neat little gift and I said, “Thanks!”

The sweater is worked from the top down. Saddle shoulders anchor it in place, and I am eternally thankful to Ms. Aylor for this feature. Raglan, a very popular sleeve shape to make on top-down styles, can slide forward or backwards on me, and I was concerned about the large neck opening for the turtleneck. But, the saddle shoulder creates less of a forgiving division between the shoulder and sleeve than the raglan. It’s made by creating a piece of fabric the same width and length as the shoulder, increasing the body stitches on either side of this strip of fabric so the body is joined perpendicular to the shoulder. It’s very fascinating to see. From there, the sleeves grow to the fullest they’re going to be before they get put on waste yarn in favor of finishing the body.

The body is worked in the round until the beginning of the kangaroo pocket when we revisit back-and-forth knitting to create the hole for the pocket lining. During this time, a little shaping in the back is added to allow for some butt curvature while the decreases in the front form the hole where the kangaroo pocket will lay. The kangaroo pocket is worked in two more parts: the outer flap and the inner lining, which grafts to the body in the hole created by the decreases. After finishing the Main Color body work, I switched to the DK yarn I chose for the pocket lining. I picked up all the required stitches along the edges of the pocket and grafted each knit row to the body. When that was done, I attached the top flap to the body using the same principal as a 3-needle bind-off, except the stitches are kept live. It’s a rather genius way of creating a pocket without a whole lot of fuss. I love that the pocket lining is made in a lighter weight yarn because it takes out some of the bulk that could easily accumulate behind the pocket.

I chose to make my pocket lining with a yarn I already had on hand: Lorna’s Laces Honor in the color Ballet. It’s a 70/30 Alpaca/Silk blend in lightly blended shades of pink and blue that form an occasional purple when they meet. I had originally purchased this yarn from a Craftsy sale, and I used it to make a toddler’s hooded sweater a few years ago. The pink, blue, and purple hues of the color reminded me of the other Inside Out travel companion, Bing Bong, and the complimentary alpaca allowed the lining to blend in with the feel of the rest of the sweater. I thought a pocket full of Bing Bong would be the perfect way to brighten up any sad day, and I was right. I love having my pocket full of Bing Bong.

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Everything worked up really quickly after the pocket. The body only had the hem ribbing to finish, while the sleeves were just a simple matter of following some light shaping, and figuring out how long those sleeves were really going to be. I measured my long arms to see where I wanted my sleeves to end and added 1.5″ to the wrist length before starting the thumb holes.

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The final part of the sweater is the turtleneck. Now, this isn’t any regular turtleneck. At the fold-over mark, there is a little split in one of the neck ribs which creates an extra triangle of ribbing that allows the neck to flare out instead of fold straight over and down.

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It gives the illusion of a flouncy cowl neck while still remaining close like a turtleneck. It’s a very nice, decorative feature, especially for anyone who can’t handle that much fabric so close to the neck. It also, gets to be placed at the knitter’s discretion: right, left, wherever, just pick a spot and go for it.  I would definitely knit this sweater as a gift to give, and I would encourage all my friends to buy the pattern and knit it themselves. I am absolutely in love with my new sweater!

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I first conceived the idea of a “Sadness” sweater as something that would make me happy. I had no idea it would have ended up this splendid. There’s always a little give and take that goes along with creative ideal versus practical application and I was expecting a lot more resistance to the eventual masterpiece I have before me. My experience is that things aren’t always so easy. Full disclosure: this has not been a quick process. I bought the yarn a year-and-a-half ago and discovered the pattern a few months before starting the project. I only bought the pattern back in January when I knew I was absolutely ready to start the project–like, within days of casting on. Also, I finished my Sadness Sweater  over a month ago and I’ve only now gotten around to writing about it. I just wasn’t having any of it. I was busy making pink hats for the resistance, and fulfilling the dreams of my children. But, those are different posts.