Socks It Is, Then: A Sad Sad Story In Pictures

Photo on 8-1-15 at 12.04 PM


Photo on 8-1-15 at 12.04 PM #2


Photo on 8-1-15 at 12.04 PM #3


Photo on 8-1-15 at 12.04 PM #4




Filed under knitting

I Don’t Know What It Is About My Shoulders

I mean, I get that they’re wider than clothing manufacturers expect for someone who’s my size everywhere else. It’s been years since I bought a button-down shirt because I have to choose between wearing a tent or not being able to move my arms. In fact, I pretty much never buy anything for my upper body that isn’t knit and very stretchy.

And I don’t know a whole lot about sweater construction yet. I’ve only knit a handful of sweaters for myself and they have all been from patterns I followed pretty much exactly, and only one of them had set-in sleeves, and that one I had to modify but I totally guessed and just turned out lucky. So, deciding to knit a set-in sleeve sweater with no pattern was a bit of a gamble to begin with.

It hasn’t been paying off so far. First, I tried knitting the front and back separately (which took several tries before I had something I felt kind of fit), picking up stitches around the arm and knitting the sleeve top down. I wanted a green body and black sleeves so this seemed like the simplest approach to get that.



But everything got weird and bunchy around the shoulders, so that had to be ripped out.

Then I tried knitting the sleeves bottom up, joining to the body and knitting Elizabeth Zimmermann’s seamless set-in sleeves. This would mean green shoulders instead of black, which wasn’t my preference, but I figured I’d deal as long as it fit. The approach that had worked perfectly when I knit Apocalypta was less successful this time, however.


Photo on 11-11-14 at 5.16 PM


So, I ripped it all out again and then took way too long finally putting my measurements into my customfit account and generating a pattern I could (1) work from for the shoulders and sleeves on this sweater and (2) use to knit a bunch more fingering-weight, scoop-neck pullovers, of which I would like an entire closet full someday, please and thank you. This was going to solve so many problems at once! Yay!


But even this didn’t work. I put in my measurements (I had my husband take them so they wouldn’t be distorted by me twisting around and messing up the measuring tape! We watched the videos and were pretty certain we did everything right!) and my exact gauge from the entire body of this sweater I had already knitted and blocked, not just a swatch, and I still ended up with something that needed a good 2 or 3 inches of fabric taken off the top.


Photo on 7-26-15 at 2_Fotor

Here you see one shoulder just like the pattern said and the other shoulder pinned up to more like how it actually should fit. Also my “if this fucking sweater doesn’t start cooperating soon, I swear it is becoming socks” face.


I don’t get what the problem is here at all. Given that I have a pattern made to fit my exact body, I am sure it must be something to do with the measurements I entered, but that’s as far as I can work it out. And I don’t totally know what I can do to solve the issue, aside from always knitting raglans, which seem to fit me fine. With socks, I just kept knitting them until I figured out all my little quirks and could knit a pair that fit me perfectly. But sweaters take way too much yarn and time to try that approach here, and it’s also way less comfortable to wear a sweater that doesn’t quite fit than to wear a pair of socks that don’t quite fit.


Anyway, I pulled out the seams — again — and unraveled several rows — again — and did 3-needle bind-offs because fuck binding off each side and then seaming — again — for serious.


Photo on 7-28-15 at 10_Fotor

It’s a little better this time. I guess you could say it’s better enough. There’s still a bit too much fabric in the front and I couldn’t rip out quite as much as I needed to in the back because it would have meant refiguring the bind-off for the back of the neck and a few decreases and I really didn’t want to mess around with that.

So. We are now back to the original plan for a green body and black sleeves, which I will pick up and knit top down because now that I’ve changed the shoulders, I have no idea how I would begin to knit the sleeves flat and seam them.

Wish me luck. Or wish the sweater luck, I guess, because I swear if this fucking sweater doesn’t start cooperating soon it is becoming socks.


Filed under knitting

Slow & Steady

Well. As I reported last time, we’re starting to figure out what normal feels like in Iowa. Except with the weather. I am remaining in denial about what constitutes “normal” Iowa weather. You can check the weather report every 10 minutes and every time it will somehow be different and also wrong. I give up. But unpacking-wise, organizing and settling in-wise, and especially knitting-wise, everything is moving forward around here, even if it’s just a little bit at a time.


Secret gift project #1 is entering the final stage.



Secret gift project #2 is well under way.



Secret gift project #3 is still in pre-project stage. (Does anyone know where I packed most of my knitting needles? I could really use some help on that front.)



I know that showing pictures of secret projects makes them a little less secret. And I’m sure two of those are easy enough to guess what they are. But they’re such a big portion of what I’m knitting right now that it’s going to be pictures with some details slightly obscured or no pictures at all, and I tend to come down on the side of pictures, so.


Not everything is selfless gift knitting, though. The Green Lantern sweater back is done and I have reclaimed the stitches for the front.



It’s also pretty obvious that this yarn has been reknit into the back of this sweater like 4 times now. Here’s hoping a good long soak will fix that, or that I never have to walk past anyone while wearing this. “Back to the wall at all times” is a heroic posture, right?


Progress is being greatly aided by 2 things: rewatching Scandal (SCANDAL!!!!! SCANDAL SCANDAL SCANDAL!!!!!! go watch Scandal right now you guys and then let’s talk about it!!!!!) and my accountability buddy. My friend Jess and I check in about once a week to make sure we’re making craft progress of some kind. (The less we say about progress made on that original list the better tho.)

Some weeks have been rougher than others. Some weeks all I can say is that I thought about knitting at one point, but having an accountability buddy at least means that I’m thinking about knitting at least once a week, which makes it much more likely I actually will knit at some point that week, which leads to the little bits of progress I’m talking about here, so: “accountability buddy” is definitely on my list of indispensable knitting accessories now.

I can’t recommend this highly enough. Get yourselves an accountability buddy, you guys!

And then watch Scandal with them!


Filed under knitting

Starting To Remember How Life Goes

Trying to find an equilibrium again after moving always takes me a while, but I think I’m getting the knitting aspect together, at least. I just finished up some socks for a trade and completely spaced on getting anything like a picture of them, but they did get me knitting every day. Now that they’re off to their permanent home and I can move on to some other projects, I’m taking the…let’s call it an “opportunity”…presented by the particularly panicky and disorganized packing job we did this time around to rediscover some yarn I haven’t thought about in a while.




I will finish the Green Lantern sweater, I swear. I started it in the summer the last time we moved, so I think finishing it this summer right after we move will be appropriate. I’ve had a few false starts getting the sleeves and neckline right and I want to knit a bunch more fingering-weight pullovers anyway — and the yarn I want to use for the next one is one of the things I’ve rediscovered since moving — so I finally got my act together to put in my measurements at customfit and I’m finishing this up according to those instructions.


I’m almost done with the back on the sweater, but when I need a break from the tiny needles I switch over to a couple things I’m making as gifts that are sort of tucked away in this picture but that we’re not really gonna talk about for a while. I also pulled out the yarn for Dan’s Waldo sweater and wound up a skein so I can start my swatch. I think this should all keep me busy for a while, but there are 3 or 4 stray socks around the place calling my name as well, so we shall see what gets done next.

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Putting This Here So I Don’t Forget

Well, here we are in Iowa. It’s a month today since we arrived, and this weekend I’ve managed to finally start to feel like I’m getting back to my normal life. The house we’re in needs a lot of fixing up, so we’re holding off on completely unpacking and organizing until we know what we want to do when. But we’ve got a basic living room and bedroom set up and I’ve just about unpacked and organized all the kitchen stuff.

We’ve made a lot of it feel familiar, but one thing that will be very different is just how far we are from stuff. There are a couple grocery stores I drive by regularly but they’re a little pricey. It’s a good 45-minute drive to a town with the big box-pet-grocery store combo we typically need. It feels strange after living in a tiny apartment for so long, but we actually have a lot of space in this kitchen. So, I’m trying to get into a once-a-month shopping routine.

I think only doing 1 big shopping trip a month will be pretty easy, but making sure I get the right amounts of the right things will be trickier. Meal planning doesn’t really work for me, but we do tend to like to have a lot of the same things around regularly. For this first month, I just went around the grocery store (2, actually! Aldi & Trader Joe’s) and grabbed everything I know we like and/or looked good.


This picture is a little misleading, since I had to stock up on some kitchen and household basics like you usually do once you’re in a new place. We won’t need a new toaster oven every month, for example. But, then, it also doesn’t show the bulk stuff I’ve ordered from Amazon and King Arthur Flour.

This one gives you a little better idea of how the food and household stuff breaks down once it’s out of those bags:


So, some of these items I definitely bought more than a month’s worth (we’re not going to make it through 6 liters of liquor in a month, for sure!), some I know I bought exactly a month’s worth (31 cans of cat food), some I didn’t try to get a month’s worth (not that much trouble to grab a gallon of milk every week), and some are things I’m going to need to track to see how how long they last. I figured I’d put this all up here and use this as sort of a master tracking post that I can come back and edit (add a date & strike through) as I use things up and then have a reference to generate my shopping list next month.

(Also, if you just come here for the yarn, there’s totally a pair of socks at the end of this, so go on and scroll ahead if you’d like.)

Leaving out all the household stuff and including all the stuff I bought from Amazon and King Arthur Flour, this is pretty much what we’re dealing with:

        • roast beef 4/30
        • salami
        • 1 wedge parmesan 5/3
        • 1 log goat cheese
        • 1 block cheddar
        • 1 bag shredded mozzarella 5/7
        • 2 pizza crusts 4/26
        • bacon
        • 2 whole chickens — 1 frozen whole, 1 broken down & frozen in pieces
        • 1 red onion
        • parsley 5/5
        • chives
        • basil 4/26
        • jalapeños
        • vegetable gyozas
        • boisenberry jam
        • crushed tomatoes
        • kalamata olives
        • store brand knockoff Cheerios
        • peanut butter
        • grainy mustard
        • pickles
        • milk 5/3
        • baking powder
        • hot sauce
        • 2 bottles of olive oil
        • 5 lbs of jasmine rice
        • peanuts
        • seltzer
        • 3 kinds of juice
        • 2 bags tortilla chips
        • store brand knockoff Fig Newtons
        • peanut butter cup cookies
        • gummy candy
        • Little Debbie Fudge Brownies
        • black beans
        • navy beans
        • pinto beans
        • pecans
        • almonds
        • walnuts
        • pretzels
        • oatmeal
        • potato chips 5/2
        • 2 loaves of bread — 1 kept out, 1 frozen
        • Fudge Stripes
        • another kind of peanut butter cup cookie 4/26
        • seltzer
        • 4 bags pasta
        • 2 cans diced tomatoes
        • 2 tubes tomato paste
        • 28 oz. whole bean coffee
        • Oreos
        • brown sugar
        • almond milk
        • salsa verde
        • powdered sugar
        • green olives
        • 2 dozen eggs
        • pie crust — 1 for the fridge 5/7, 1 for the freezer
        • 3 yellow onions
        • spanakopita 5/3
        • 1 eggplant 5/2
        • fresh ginger
        • 2 lbs butter — 1 for the fridge, 1 for the freezer
        • 1 wedge gorgonzola
        • mango chutney
        • dried apricots
        • red bell peppers
        • garlic
        • whipping cream
        • 1 bag shredded “taco blend” cheese 5/7
        • beets
        • orange juice
        • avacados 5/1
        • hazelnut creamer 5/1
        • frozen broccoli
        • frozen peas
        • fennel
        • maple syrup
        • red grapes
        • tomatoes 5/3
        • green beans
        • orange juice
        • brussels sprouts
        • cauliflower
        • tomatillos
        • mushrooms
        • zucchini
        • broccoli
        • corn 5/7
        • cilantro
        • cabbage
        • scallions
        • celery
        • MAVEA Elemaris pitcher & 6 replacement filters (should last a year)
        • 4 bottles of Torani hazelnut syrup
        • 6 pounds of Bob’s Red Mill cornmeal
        • 7.25 pounds of Bob’s Red Mill groats
        • 3 pounds organic sugar
        • 10 lbs Country Save laundry soap
        • 10 lbs King Arthur all-purpose flour
        • 5 lbs KA whole wheat flour
        • 6 lbs KA semolina
        • 1 lb KA yeast

Um…yeah, I think that’s it! Not including, of course, the food we already had. We haven’t gone the whole last month with a completely bare kitchen, it’s just that we haven’t really been able to stock up until this past week. So this is what it looks like when I stock up. A lot of this was planned excess; you can see a lot has already gone in the freezer. But I’m sure we’ll run out of a lot more than I expect a lot sooner than I expect, too. I’m curious to see how it all goes.


But enough about the vegetables. Let us get to the yarn.

The drive out took 3 days. Knowing that we’d be driving separate (driving a 16-foot truck and towing a Rav 4 felt like too much, especially since the tow hitch rental would have been more than the gas for the Rav 4), I did not expect a lot of knitting time on the trip. I decided to pick up a second sock as my travel knitting.

When last we saw these socks, I had finished 1 and was hoping I’d remember what mods I’d made to the pattern so I could knit a second one. By the time I picked the yarn back up last month I had given up on the idea of duplicating my changes. I decided to just knit a plain sock and then unravel the existing one and knit a match.

But moving has a strange effect on me, you guys. I start out less than pleased about the whole thing but believing that if I just keep at it, then this time it will go beautifully. Then I get rid of my absolute last fuck somewhere around the T-2.5 weeks mark and it’s all downhill from there.

My point being that I started this plain sock the week before the move, deep in the belly of the “no fucks left” period, and once I finished it I realized that as long as the patterned sock didn’t actually feel different on my foot, then they were enough of a pair for me.


My last time ever having to go outside in my socks because no light can penetrate where I live.

These are the same yarn knit with same size needles and worn on the same size feet, and that’s enough matching for me. I love them to pieces and they kept me warm as I travelled halfway across the country, and so they have earned their status as A Good Pair Of Socks.

Pattern: Java for 1, just a standard 64-stitch top-down heelflap sock for the other
Molly’s Toes in Kasey’s Color
2mm Karbonz DPN’s
9/12/14 on a plane to San Francisco
Some time before 3/24/15 but not too much before but who even knows because no one was paying attention at that point.


Filed under cooking, knitting, life stuff

Gonna have to put the blanket down for a bit.

Friends! These are exciting times chez YarnAndSass.

It’s getting harder and harder to take pictures of the Life-Long Blanket at all, let alone any where a decent portion of it is in focus. This is partly because I’ve added so much to it, and partly because I got bored with adding squares back and forth typewriter style, so I’ve been working more on a diagonal and it’s getting tall fast.



I’ve been able to make it so tall because I found a few awesome folks to trade with.

Andi over at My Sister’s Knitter sent me some beautiful yarns all neatly skeined and everything, and then I forgot to take a picture before I’d already balled most of them.




And I made a trade for a whole gallon bag’s worth of minis through Ravelry.




So, yes, the blanket is very well fed these days. We are slightly less well fed–or, I should say, we are rather more weirdly fed these days. Over the past week, I’ve had lunches largely made of black olives, whole wheat crackers, sharp cheddar, pickles, leftover pot roast, and handfuls of Reese’s Puffs. Folks, I am in full-on “must clean out the partially consumed food” mode in preparation for moving. Again.

This time, at least, we are not moving because I got laid off and the rent was going up. We are moving because I’ve gotten an opportunity to start on a career in farming and we’re both looking forward to a change of scenery from where we’ve both spent pretty much our whole lives. So, we’re moving to Iowa in a few weeks and the blanket is going to have to take a rest soon, because I’m going to need some more portable knitting.

Of course, the good news is that the most portable knitting really is socks. And in the end that only means more food for the blanket. So, overall, I’m gonna go ahead and say that this Iowa thing is going to be good for us all.


Filed under knitting, life stuff

Clean As You Go

Cleaning up after a project is the worst. Weaving in ends once you’re done knitting is the worst. I’m trying really hard not to have the end of this blanket be 6 months of constant finishing — or worse, 6 months of me needing to do, like, 2 tiny things to finish it and just not wanting to deal with them.


So, I’ve been weaving in the ends on the blanket as I go. At first my goal was to go back every few rows and weave in a bunch at a time, but lately I’ve been working them in as I go by sort of wrapping them around the working yarn as I pick up the stitches for each new square. I think this method is working but I’m not trimming the ends too close until the whole thing’s done just in case. The back is still not looking sloppy, so I am very pleased about that.

I also made a decision about what to do for the border. I like the look of the jagged edge and attached cord in the original blankie but the prospect of actually knitting that much cord has never appealed to me. And I don’t want to leave it with nothing on the edges, because the corners of the squares flip up and the edge squares all look smaller than the middle ones because they don’t have something pulling on all 4 sides of them. I’ve been thinking about filling in the edges with solid color triangles to square it off, but looking at some of the projects where people have done that, I didn’t really feel that was the right choice for me either.


So, it’s triangles with the same yarn as the squares, and probably then a very thin solid border to frame it nicely. One thing I’ve found with this method, though, is that I have to separate the times I work on triangles from the times I work on squares or else I invariably end up halfway through knitting the wrong one before I realize what I’ve done.

So, I sit down every night with my Ziploc bags of yarn and my kitchen scale. I pull a ball out of the “unused” bag, knit my square, weaving the ends as I go. I weigh what’s left, and then the remainder goes straight into the correct container — my “can use again” bag if there are still a good 3 grams or so or my “triangles” bag if there’s about 2 grams, enough for an edge triangle. If there isn’t even 2g  left, then I have another method for tidying up as I go.


I went ahead and started my scrappy scarf from the too-short leftovers that still feel like too much to throw away. I’m going with linen stitch and I don’t want to think about colors or stripes or amounts or weaving in ends or any of that nonsense, so I’m just plain tying all the ends together and letting what happens happen. It will be glorious or it will be hideous, or it will possibly be both. But in any case, there will be very little mess to deal with when this is all over.



Filed under knitting

I don’t know why I thought throwing all the minis into one big basket was a good organizational strategy.

So, I’ve been working on the Life-Long Blanket again lately. I needed something that didn’t take much thinking for evenings after work while we watch TV. I’ve been working on it again for a few nights but then I reached the point where I was down to my last 3 or 4 unused yarns, so I thought it would be a good time to get some minis ready for swapping.

Yesterday I pulled all the yarn out of the basket where the blanket lives. And, well. Hrm.


Now, maybe you’re a better person than I am. Maybe you’re very organized and conscientious about how you work on your blanket. Maybe after you finish each square you wind the yarn back up neatly and tuck it away so that it can’t unravel and so you never run into this problem. I don’t know what you do. Me, so far, I’ve been working on a system where I mostly try to keep the newest yarns separate, usually in the envelope I got them in ’cause most of my supply has been from swaps, and then as each yarn gets used, I toss it in the basket.

Seriously. Just in the basket. For 5 years now. The basket is a foot and a half deep! Sometimes when I run out of new yarns I’ll plunge a hand into the depths of the basket and do a few repeat squares, but mostly it’s just been get new yarn, use it, toss it in the basket. And I never thought about what a bad strategy that was until yesterday when I went looking to sort out some yarns to swap and see if I could maybe dig up a few more new ones that found their way into the wrong side of the “organizational system.”

So, this was how yesterday morning went.

1) Clear some space and spread the blanket out on the couch.


2) Realize how big it’s gotten.

3) Start believing I might see the end of it someday.

4) Pull a ball of yarn out of the basket, untangle its end, wind it neatly, and figure out whether it’s an Unused, Already Used, or Too Small for a Square But I Think I Can Still Do Something Fun With It.

This last step involved all those matching skills I haven’t used since I was 4.


Turns out I’m still very good at it.

5) (THIS IS THE IMPORTANT STEP!) Put all yarns away neatly in such a way that we don’t continue to have a tangle problem.

In the end I have 4 gallons of Already Used…


…one very surprising gallon of Unused…


…and a stuffed-full quart of Too Small for a Square But I Think I Can Still Do Something Fun With It.


(I’m thinking maybe a scrappy scarf.)

Now we only have 1 problem, really. I swear to you — I SWEAR! — I really did believe that if I just went through methodically, pulling out 1 ball of yarn at a time and untangling its loose end, that by the time I got to the last ball of yarn, that awful mess I showed you at the beginning would be gone. I truly thought that giant tangle represented only the loose ends of all the actual balls and cakes and butterflies of yarn that I could see in the basket. I can’t explain why I thought that, except to say that yesterday morning was spent waiting out a migraine hangover, so my cognitive abilities weren’t really what they could have been.

After all of that sorting and matching and untangling, this is what I’m left with:


No, it doesn’t look very different from what I started with to me, either.

Anyways. Who’s up for a sock yarn swap? I think winding up some mini skeins would be an excellent distraction from that mess.

Which I am leaving in the bottom of the basket.

Maybe for another 5 years.


Filed under knitting, migraines

Open For Business

It’s usually the case, when things go quiet around here for a while, that I’m stuck right in the middle of another semester and making such slow progress on my knitting that there’s just not that much progress to show. Half of a sock cuff looks very much like three-quarters of a sock cuff, and I think you’ve all seen enough partial sock cuffs by now that I couldn’t possibly excite you with that level of progress. However. Things are a little different right now. While the semester stuff is totally true this time around, there’s nary a three-quarters sock cuff to be found around the place. I’ve actually been making a ton of progress on my knitting lately, it’s just that it wasn’t knitting I was ready to show you.

I can show you now, though, because the Yarn & Sass Etsy shop is totally officially open and ready for you to buy all the things!

Well, OK, not all the things. Like, seven things. But that’s still way more things than I’ve ever knit in the course of one semester, I think! I am fantastically pleased with this situation. And I’m expecting there to be a few more things popping up in there on a roughly weekly basis.

Do click through and check out the shop, but here’s a little preview of what you’ll find there just for funsies:


Filed under Uncategorized


That’s my knitting philosophy. Usually I don’t mind, but I find I tend to put it into practice extra hard when I’m knitting for someone else. I try to offset this by only ever choosing to knit for other people I really, really like who I know will really, really want what I’m knitting for them. But then what happens is the more important the knitting becomes, the more other things in my life seem to crop up to keep me from it. So, I end up only knitting for others when it’s important knitting for important others, and then missing my deadline by a good 6 months.

My point is, I finished Common Ground, and it only took me 10 months to knit a bulky-weight sweater on 5.5 mm needles.


There’s really no excuse besides life and school and stuff. But it’s done! Overall, this was a pretty straightforward knit. Mostly, I just followed the instructions except for sort of winging (with a little help from Ravelry notes) how to widen the front to add buttons.


I worry it may be a bit roomy in the shoulders, but that’s sort of standard for a raglan, I guess. And if it is, that just makes it even better for layering. The sleeve length is perfect, though, I think. Long enough to graze the knuckles, and the ribbing is deep enough to fold back and stay put. I had my doubts about the hood while knitting it, because it didn’t really look like a thing, but it turned out just right.

It may have taken way too long, but the finished product is something I feel quite good about. And at least when you knit for grownups you don’t really have to worry about them growing out of things by the time you’re knitting. (Ask me why I’ve decided to only knit blankets or stuffed animals for any future babies I may knit for.)

Pattern: Common Ground by Elizabeth Smith
Yarn: Cascade Eco +, color 0508 Berry, 14.625 oz/793 yds
Needles: US 8 & US 9 bamboo circulars
Started: December 2013
Except for fixing a weird bindoff error I could not even understand but only notice once I was taking the finished pictures, October 14, 2014
Mods: widened the front by 8 sts/side to add buttons


Filed under knitting