Projects on My Needles – April 18, 2018

Holy guacamole, I haven’t done a WIP update since December! I’ve got lots to update, so this will be a slightly different format than the few WIPs I’ve got going. I would probably ordinarily do a post about each FO, but I think that might make my brain explode or take me until next April to accomplish.

Finished Objects

Three-Eyed Raven

I wrote extensively about this shawl in its very own post when I released the pattern for sale. It was not quite done when I wrote my last WIP update, so here’s a refresher if’n you’re interested!

Burberry Socks

These have gotten plenty of wear this winter, and I was so pleased with how well the heel striping worked when I pulled from the other end of the cake.

Cloud Cover Cardigan

I got a ton of wear out of this cardigan this winter too! It’s perfect to pull on over whatever first layer I’m wearing. It has, however, been shamefully sitting in a pile of knits I need to wash for a while. I really need a big tub to hand wash lots of knits in at once, because this whole one at a time business is really slowing me down.

Baby Flax

This little sweater took me kind of a long time to finish. I stupidly decided to switch colors every 2 rows, then kept running out of the colors I started with making me panic about the end result. It ended up perfectly lovely, but HOLY WEAVING IN ENDS BATMAN did that step take forever. This was one of the gifts I gave to my friends whose baby was born in March.

Stormy Sky Shawl

I really really really love the way the shawl turned out. I’ve been wearing it every day since I finished it (since winter will never end). The pops of neon yellow and bright purple are really energizing to the whole thing which looks a bit grayish green from afar. And tassels are fun AF, so there’s that.

Works in Progress

Now onto our regularly scheduled programming. I’ve only got two projects actually on my needles at the moment. I’m developing a backlog of yarn that I don’t know what to do with and projects that I can’t afford the intended yarn for yet, so I’m focusing on what I’ve got now.

I’ve been looking forward to starting my Zweig forever, and I finally did in January. I’m using Swan’s Island’s Natural Colors Merino fingering in Teal and Oyster. It stains my hands blue, which is fun. I totally figured I’d have this whole sweater finished by now because I was on a knitting tare. But let’s just say a small but significant thing happened to me to make me omg so tired that I could barely think of picking up my needles without it giving me vertigo. But I’m slogging along the body rows, and luckily there’s a little X cable every few rows to keep me motivated. Also, don’t tell anyone, but because of the yardage of the yarn I bought, I am 50 yds short of the suggested amount I was supposed to buy because I didn’t want to buy an extra skein and have 500 yds leftover. So, it may end up a 3/4 length sleeve. <insert shrug emoji here>.

Pattern: Zweig by Caitlin Hunter
Yarn: Swan’s Island Natural Colors Merino Fingering in Teal and Oyster
Ravelry Project Page: Zweig

The other project on my needles is Okanogan socks. These ones are for myself, and my husband will be getting an exact opposite color scheme pair. This will be my first time doing a heel flap. I’ve only ever done an afterthought heel and the fish lips kiss heel. Also, since my gauge keeps getting looser, I bought size US 0 and 00 needles. These are the first socks I’m doing at that size, so we’ll see how it goes. The yarn I’m using for most of it is Blacker Yarns Mohair Blends 4-ply. Reading project notes of people who’ve made socks with this seems to point towards a bulletproof fabric. This is exactly what I want. My last couple of pairs of socks have been too loose in gauge, and I really want to use natural fibers as much as I can (mohair = nature’s nylon). Will report back. For the heel/cuff/toe I’m using some leftover Green Mountain Spinnery Meadow, which is also a mohair blend. I really liked the detail of the ribbing around the arch of the foot, so I’m hoping these wear like a rugged dream.

Pattern: Okanogan by Andrea Rangel
Yarn: Blacker Yarns Mohair Blends 4-Ply in Ladock Woods and Metherell
Green Mountain Spinnery Meadow in Natural
Ravelry Project Page: Okanogan Socks

k ttyl love you byeeeeee

Knitting Hiatus

Hi everyone!

There has been a distinct lack of activity from me on the blog and the Instagram lately. There’s been a lack of activity of me in my house too, but you can’t tell that I haven’t done the dishes!

I’ve been super low energy for the last several weeks (for a good reason, I promise!). So much so that knitting seemed like too much of an effort, which, obviously is very silly indeed.

I have plenty of things to catch up on here. You can expect posts on the following subjects in the future:

  • an update to the running list of  yarns that I have used
  • a WIP update (although, my knitting has been slow to non-existent, so my items may be a bit familiar!)
  • a post about the hand-made gifts I gave to my friend whose baby is due in April
  • participating in Fibre Share (Hi Nikki and Alix!!)
  • who knows what else! My brain has only just begun working properly again.

To me, it feels like I’ve been gone a goshdarn long time, but it’s really only been about 7 weeks since my last blog post. And I’ve posted sporadically on Instagram, and I intend to get back into it once I can manage to do anything noteworthy in my knitting life :).

Talk to you soon, ❤ Larissa

Figuring Out My Place in the Knitting World

When my son was a year old, I finally stopped working my Job. I worked from home, and with a medical resident for a husband, nursing, unsteady and pricey childcare (which sometimes did not stop virtual meeting attendees from hearing baby screams) and just general burn-burn-burnout, I decided enough was enough. After I stopped working my capital J Job to stay home full time with my son, it became pretty clear that I wasn’t planning on looking for a Real Job again. But now that he’s 2, I’m not so up to my eyeballs in life. I’m actually considering doing something MORE with my time and it’s really exciting to feel that way again – because let me tell you, I thought the feeling of barely treading water successfully wasn’t going to end.

I’ve said before that the knitting and fiber community is one of the most inclusive and encouraging that I know of. In it, I’ve found something that is entirely my own. It wasn’t thrust upon me and I’m not doing it for anyone but myself. At this point in my knitting journey, I’m considering where to go from here. I’d like to take this passionate hobby of mine and go more in a more career-oriented direction. I have more aspirations and ideas than fingers and toes, so it’s proving difficult to focus on one thing or even decide what I could focus on.

Pattern Designing – I’ve already dipped my toe into the pattern designing waters with a free little baby hat pattern that details how to achieve jogless stripes and a Game of Thrones-inspired shawl pattern. Patterns are really time-consuming to write (for me), but they are a really great way to express an idea that I need to get out of my head. And it’s nice passive income, should I be lucky enough to sell some copies! Designing is one thing I can do right now that doesn’t really cost me money. The cost of yarn to knit a sample is minimal (plus I either keep it or gift it), the time it takes to write and perfect a pattern doesn’t actively cost money, and it’s done during times when I couldn’t really be doing anything productive anyway. Waiting for inspiration to strike and getting in a fist-fight with impostor syndrome make it a bit of a slow process, but it at least feels like I’m doing something and contributing (since my kiddo is currently playing with buttons and in no way wants my interference).

Photography – There are definitely some skills I need to learn to up my game. I do like to do things properly and to seem professional. A lot of people in the knitting community communicate their ideas and designs through photography on Instagram. It’s a bit disheartening to lose followers because you’re pretty sure your pictures aren’t fancy enough. So I probably need to learn about photography, especially as I design more patterns.

Natural Dyeing – My ultimate goal is to have sheep raised by myself & my bff Renee whose wool we’ll have milled into yarn which we will then dye with plants we grew ourselves… but holy guacamole are there a lot of steps and dollars between here and there, so I’m not thinking about that just yet. What I am going to work on in the meantime is growing some dye plants in my yard to experiment with colors and techniques. Just for funsies.

Retailing Yarn – My big endeavor, possibly in a year or so, will be to start an online yarn retail shop. I know there are a lot of them, but I’m hoping mine will be unique in an inclusive way. There are a lot of people out there who, like me, are environmentally-conscious. Therefore, I’d like to carry many different types and brands of yarn all in one place that has an environmental advantage. Whether a patron is looking for non-superwash, local/domestic, plant-dyed, breed-specific yarn or wool from holistically managed sheep, I hope they’ll find what they want with me. This won’t be able to get off the ground for a while since I’ll need a significant amount of capital to get started, but I’m very much looking forward to this. I’m collecting a long list of brands to reach out to in the future, and I hope I get moral support from the fiber community :).

I have a lot on my mind about how I can make my hobby into a business, as you can see. For now, I’ll be working a little bit every day – selfish-knitting, writing patterns, playing with dye, figuring out What Is A Photography. And living. I’ll be doing that too.

[GUEST POST] – Regenerative Agriculture and the Role of Fiber-Producing Animals

I know you know, dear reader, that I’m a hippy and I prefer non-superwash yarn from sheep raised in the US. Being a knitter means a lot of things to me like creating art, taking my support away from fast-trash-fashion, and keeping my mind busy with calculating angles and counting stitches. But mostly, I see an opportunity for the knitting community to make the world better. Yes, better through seeing more technicolor sweaters around, but most impactfully, through the way the fiber animals are raised.

My BFF Renee has written all about going beyond expecting the animals to be treated humanely – about what we should know to be the gold standard and express that we support the efforts of the shepherds and farmers who raise the animals in this manner.

❤ Larissa


What does it mean to be a conscious consumer of animal fiber?  It’s safe to say that the animals involved in production of fiber should be treated humanely, fed a biologically-appropriate & organic diet, and given plenty of green space to roam.  These factors add up to “happy fiber”, a product we consumers can feel good about.  However, given the current state of our planet due to the uprising of industrial farming, perhaps we must take our ethical sourcing one step further.

Through the practices of contained animal feedlots, unmanaged grazing of livestock, monocropping, and heavy fertilizer/pesticide/herbicide use, we find that our soil is depleted of nutrients, our water supply is dwindling, and atmospheric CO2 is climbing (a contributing factor to global warming).  This isn’t great news for the future of our fiber and food supply; successful agriculture requires nutrient-rich soil, water, and a steady climate.  It’s no surprise that the natural world is getting out of whack; we’ve done a pretty poor job of working within the natural laws.  We impose our own systems that fight natural processes rather than work with them.

Now that I’ve thoroughly depressed you, let’s visit the upside; things don’t have to continue this way.  Through holistic management and rotational grazing of animals, we can undo many of these wrongs that industrial agriculture imposes on the earth.  Rotational grazing is the process of quickly moving large numbers and high densities of animals through many small pastures (rotations occur anywhere from a day to a week).  This practice is intense, but disperses nutrients over the land, improves overall soil fertility, controls unwanted plants, enhances water retention, sequesters carbon dioxide out of the air and into the soil, and decreases the spread of parasites among the herd.  The effects of managing animals in this way are the goals of regenerative agriculture. “Do no harm” is then advanced to “improve what we’ve got”.  While it’s obviously a good thing to support sustainable and organic producers, we’re at the point in which looking beyond sustainable is necessary to reverse the damage to our soil and our atmosphere.

To get an idea of how greater soil fertility is reached through rotational grazing, let’s first consider how the bodies of ruminant grazers work. Fiber animals such as goats and sheep are mobile fermentation machines. They eat plants (grasses, shrubs, trees) which get fermented during digestion by microbes in their gut. What comes out on the other end is nutrient-rich poop that gets deposited back into the soil.  Their hooves act as miniature tills, breaking apart the top layer of soil, allowing nutrients and water to disperse downwards.  The soil now has a greater richness in microbial life than before, which means greater fertility. Microbes work symbiotically with plant roots, feeding the plant and depositing the plant’s carbon into the soil. Grazers and grasslands are co-evolved, and they completely rely on one another to flourish.  The land needs grazers to move nutrients around.  For example, the top of a hill or mountain tends to be more nutrient-poor than the base, considering rain and erosion drives the nutrients downwards.  How else, than through animals moving up and down in elevation, could nutrients cycle back up, against gravity, to the top? Given enough time and proper management, nearly any piece of depleted land can get transformed to viable farmland with the help of grazers.

The physical act of grazing by fiber-producing animals on managed grasslands retains water and sequesters carbon. To get a full perspective, consider the average fiber pasture in which the animals are given a very large area to roam, and they are rotated rarely, if at all.  The grass, therefore, stays quite short (usually only a couple of inches tall) since the ground is rarely given a rest from constant grazing. The roots of these grasses are also very shallow, since roots only grow deep when grasses grow tall. Now consider a pasture that is managed within a regenerative practice; a large herd of animals is rotated intensively through a large number of small pastures. This allows most of the grass to be resting at any given time, so the grass has the opportunity to grow tall. Consequently, the roots grow deeper into the ground. This is of huge importance because plants have the ability to transfer carbon out of the atmosphere and into the ground through their roots. The deeper the roots, the more carbon pumping, the less carbon in our air, and the deeper water can trickle easily.  It’s no surprise that this latter practice of rotation is a good representation of how grazers move in the wild; almost always on the move due to predation and seeking areas with more abundant grass.  If every farm practiced rotational grazing of their fiber animals, imagine the potential to reverse global climate change! (Now imagine if there were tax incentives for carbon sequestration on your land … but I won’t get too political). Everyone imagines that the best way to reverse global warming is to plant hundreds of trees, but grasses actually have a stronger ability to sequester carbon, so why not start with the millions of acres of animal pasture that already exists in the US? After all, the majority of this land is unusable to grow plans on due to poor water availability, topography, altitude, and poor soil quality.

We have a dizzying number of fiber options online and in stores, and knowing which buzzwords to look for can be tough.  Choosing fiber from organically-raised animals is a great start, but we can challenge our producers to do more.  The best way to go about this ethical consumption, as with anything, is to know your farmer and know their practices.  You may not be able to meet them in-person, but a quick phone call or email with a short list of questions (How many pastures do you rotate your sheep through?  How quickly are your goats rotated?  Do you test your soil?) will let them know that there is a demand for animal fiber from regenerative practices.  If we are to continue using our land as a resource for creating goods, we must take steps to build its fertility and vitality.  As Bill Mollison famously says, “Though the problems of the world are increasingly complex, the solutions remain embarrassingly simple.”  If we move our fiber animals through the land in a way they naturally move in the wild, the biology of the soil with thrive, the environment and climate will being to correct, and the knitting community will help drive the revitalization of the Earth.

Renee Harding

New-to-Me Yarn Wish List for 2018

Using yarns that have been processed from sheep to skein in an environmentally-responsible way is becoming more and more important to me. I have gotten a good start on finding brands that exhibit this practice and that I like, but I know I need to branch out! I’ve used a lot of Quince & Co. as I’ve mentioned in a previous post. I love their yarn, and I’m looking for more yarn to love just as much!

Here is my list of brands I’d like to try this year. It’s helpful for me to see it laid out in list form, and maybe you can get some ideas too!

  • Blacker yarns – I really want to make socks with the mohair blends! Maybe Okanogan, a matching pair for husband and I? I just need to find a US supplier who isn’t out of stock!
  • Brooklyn Tweed – I can’t believe I haven’t used any yarns by Brooklyn Tweed yet. I do have a project in mind for their Shelter line, though – the R & R Hoodie by Tanis Lavallee. I already bought this pattern, actually, and I think this will get a whole lot of use :).
  • Blue Moon Fiber Arts – Seriously, I can come up with 4895 projects I could make with the plethora of colorways BMFA has. They have a lot of non-superwash yarn bases. I’ve got plans to make another (actually wearable this time) Crochet Pullover with the Cake DK base in Delirium.
  • Mountain Meadow Wool – I keep coming back to the website of this yarn company. And I get SO OVERWHELMED by the amount of yarn bases they have. I want to try all of them, but I don’t have a project in mind for any specific weight/drape/fiber of yarn. I’m going to make an effort to make something from one of their yarns this year. I had the opportunity last year to buy a sweater’s quantity at a seriously discounted price, but I passed it up because ugghhhhh so much regret.
  • O-Wool – I so so so need to try the environmentally-responsible washable wool from O-Wool. I’ve heard nothing but good things about how incredibly soft it is, and I can’t wait to come up with something to knit with it.
  • Pichinku – I already have a skein of Pichinku in my stash from when I supported Dana’s Kickstarter. I’m so impressed that the Peruvian women she works with are able to achieve such vibrant saturated colors only with plants native to the region. I need an extra-special project for this, but something small so that the garment’s weight doesn’t distort the baby alpaca. I’m hoping to have a reason to make something with this soon!
  • Sustainable Stitches – This yarn came as a surprise on my doorstep. Turns out, my wonderful cousin sent it to me as a thank-you for knitting her baby a wee bonnet with a puff on top. I’m so happy to have it. I think this and other DK-weight yarns from my stash are going to be included in a Camaro by Tanis Lavallee.
  • Swan’s Island – So, I’ll admit, I’ve used Swan’s Island’s yarn already before as I’ve outlined in my post about yarns I’ve used. I love it so much, I need to try every last base they sell. I also really want to visit them in Maine, but that’s another post. I already have a Zweig planned out in their Natural Colors Merino Fingering in Teal and Oyster. They also carry “EcoWash” yarns that have had an environmentally-responsible treatment to make them machine-washable that I’m very excited to try.
  • Tanis Fiber Arts – I sure do love to browse Tanis’s website at look at her yarns. She too has an environmentally-responsible washable wool called “Pure Wash”. The combination of this and her omgineedit colorways has put this on my list for a while. Although, up until now I’ve always balked at pressing the purchase button. I think I need to find something really perfect to deserve her yarn.

A Running List of Yarn I’ve Used

One of my favorite things about the knitting/making community is all of the sharing. This is also why I love Ravelry so much (srsly so much). Nobody is keeping their patterns or yarn choices a secret. In fact, not only are patterns and yarn choices disclosed, but copious notes on the qualities of the yarn and helpful hints and modifications to patterns are detailed all over the place.

Below, I aim to keep a running list of yarn I’ve used. I’ve linked to the website for each yarn company and mention which line of their yarn I’ve used. Below each yarn brand, I’ve linked to my Ravelry project pages that used the yarn.

Since I endeavor to use more environmentally-responsible yarn, I’ve separated by superwash & non-superwash treated yarn.

Non-Superwash

Superwash

Projects on My Needles – Dec 31, 2017

Happy New Year’s Eve! This will be my last post of 2017. I’ve done a lot of knitting this year, which is my favorite. I’m really lucky I had the opportunity to stop working and stay home full time with le kiddo. I’m working on four things at the moment, two of which are not new. Silly December has of course been busy and plenty of things have taken precedence over knitting projects. I was able to start two new things. The first of which was while I was waiting on the yarn to start the second! And truthfully, I can’t wait to work on it again, even if it’s low on my order of priorities.

As I mentioned in my previous WIP update, I’m still working on the Cloud Cover cardigan. This is one of the two non-new projects still chilling on my needles. I really can’t wait to finish it, but it’s taking a back seat at the moment. But ohhh it’s going to be so fuzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzyyyyyyyyy ❤ ❤ <3.

Pattern: Cloud Cover by Heidi Kirrmaier
Yarn: Quince & Co. Sparrow in Birch held together with Plymouth Yarn Kid Gloss Hand Dyed in Ivory
Ravelry Project Page: Icy Blue Fuzz

The second non-new project is my Burberry Socks. I’m nearly done, I just have to actually put in the rows. These were something that I started when I was awaiting yarn for another project, and I really only work on them when I need to do something with my hands but don’t want a project that I need to count or keep track of anything. I was going to knit these until the yarn ran out, but I think if I do that at this point, they’ll come up to my knees. I’m already 4+ inches above the heel and I have a ton of yarn left. So I’ll just knit to a nice happy height and use the rest maybe in a scrappy sock, or socks for Scottie, or somethin? else? I do really want to wear these, but I keep forcing deadlines upon myself! Soon, my pretties.

Pattern: Smooth Operator Sock by Susan B. Anderson
Judy’s Magic Cast On
Yarn: Turtlepurl Yarns in Burberry
Ravelry Project Page: Burberry Socks

Ohhhh how I love this third project. I started it while I was waiting for the yarn for my fourth project below because I’ve had this yarn since September and it’s been burning a hole through my yarn shelf. I’m so glad I started it, it’s so damn gorgeous. The yarn is a single ply 70% Merino, 30% Silk fingering weight. Although it made me insane to wind it for some reason, I will never get sick of knitting with it. The colors are bonkers gorgeous and it’s so smooth and luscious to knit with. This pattern is amazing too. For such a simple pattern and omg it’s FREE you guys, the results are pretty unparalleled. I can’t wait until there’s nothing urgent for me to work on so I can pick this back up. If I knew how to insert cartoon heart bubbles here, I would.

Pattern: Stormy Sky Shawl by Life Is Cozy
Yarn: Manos del Uruguay Fino in Birdcage
Ravelry Project Page: Birdcage Shawl

And lastly, my 4th project in progress. Oh this project is taking a lot out of me. I’m nearly done with the knitting, as is determined by my yarn left. I sure hope this doesn’t turn into a game of yarn chicken, because I’ll have to amend the yardage needed and I’ve already had to edit how I wanted it to turn out due to the yarn gobbling that occurs on the later rows of knitting a shawl. I’m a total n00b to pattern writing, so I’m trying to make this as intuitive and easy-to-follow as I can, but with all new things, there is a learning curve. As I mentioned in my last project update, this is a pattern I’m self-drafting, and I hope to release it before the end of January 2018. It’s an homage, a love story, and a poem to a character in a well-known book/TV series and I sincerely hope fans will be as inspired as I was to make this.

Pattern: To be announced by me!
Yarn: KnitPicks Gloss in Timber held together with Plymouth Yarns Kid Gloss in Brown
Ravelry Project Page: Still Not Telling the Name!

That’s what’s going on with me! I, of course, have a queue the length of the Nile that is now including sewing projects and a mix of things to knit from patterns and patterns to write myself. I’ve got big hopes for a bountiful 2018. Have a neat New Year’s Eve, get an Uber, kick the shit out of 2018. Love you bye.