Life with Fiber and Fiber Arts

Nothing to be Ashamed Of February 20, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Hannah Cuviello @ 7:44 pm

As promised in my last post, I have embarked on a stash spelunking, UFO unearthing, start-itis quelling (not really) expedition.  The goal of this endeavor was to take stock of my unfinished projects and shame me into encourage and re-inspire me to finish them. I have to say that I was indeed rather encouraged by my findings. Given my penchant for casting on and my “I’m cold, I’d better cast on a sweater” outlook on life*, I expected numbers in the triple digits.

*The general pattern of trying to meet immediate needs by embarking on long term projects, may pop up other places in my life, though certainly not to this extent.

The actual number was exactly 30. (Since I completed the count, I have finished one of the pictured projects…and unearthed another.)

Upon sharing this little fact about myself with people, I have received everything from incredulous smiles and appalled stares to understanding nods of the head, accompanied by an “I figured as much” or “Really, that’s all?!”  Several of my knitting friends (well, one or two) have agreed with me that 30 is a fairly reasonable number. I know plenty of people with easily twice that number of UFO’s. Granted, most of these people are also roughly twice my age, giving me what I assume to be a fairly accurate projection of my fate.

I did a little breakdown of the total. Would you like to see it?

We have 6 sweaters.

Only 4 of them are pictured here. They range from oldest to newest going left to right. First, a crocheted shrug; I have no idea where the pattern is. Second, a sweater that was actually knit and completed by a friend of my, but which did not actually fit either of us. I have since dismantled it and am reknitting the body and sleeves. Third, a Scout Pullover I began for myself. Note that the body is entirely done. When I was at this point on the original sample, I had it finished by the next day. I could, ostensibly, be wearing this sweater tomorrow. And yet…there is also number four, a simple top-down sweater I started last Fall when I was teaching a First Sweater Class (innocent enough). In my own defense, I do actually knit at least one row on this one every day (I keep it in my purse).

Not Pictured: a purple sweater which also has the body completed and a silk lace top from Knitting Lingerie Style, by Joan McGowan Michael, a master of sultry garment shaping.

I had hoped to have this one done for Valentine’s Day (two years ago), but I was busy counting my projects.

So. 6 sweaters, 4 socks.

Each of these socks has at least a couple of hours of knitting invested in them already.

4 shawls.

Two of these have since been torn out and re-cast on as a different kind of shawl, which, for the record, DOES NOT COUNT as casting on a new project. It is just repurposing a previous cast on.

2 scarves and 3 hats (2 pictured).

Three of these four items are intended for my beloved, long-suffering husband, which might make me feel a little guilty, were I not also knitting him this:

In case you couldn’t tell, it is a Cthulhuclava, designed by Anne-Marie Dunbar. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for new knitters, but if you are ever looking for an exercise in extremely clever shaping, this would be the pattern. It is actually next on my list of must-finish, which is turning out to require an immense amount of self control, seeing as I also have this project staring accusingly at me.

   In fact, quite literally staring. I know what you’re saying, “Hannah, how can you just leave it there? It has a face!”  Well, sometimes being a compulsive project starter requires me to harden my heart and just look away.

The oldest UFO I unearthed was a (not yet) Felted Clog.

Anyone who has ever knit the Fiber Trends Felt Clog pattern will look at this picture and know that this clog is just about an hour away from being done and ready to felt. Its mate is done and, in fact, felted, and has been for about 4 years (yes, I do know where it is; I found it while I was digging). I would sit right down and do it now, except that this project is even closer to being done.

It’s a linen stitch headband. All I need to do is finish the button loops and sew on the buttons. That’s it. Minutes. (Since this picture was taken, I have actually finished it; I have also unearthed another UFO, so the number is still 30).

The prize for the furthest-from-being-done goes to my Little Black Dress. It is currently, ahem, very little.

It is, in fact, about 8″x4″. I have hope, though.

   In addition, I have an unfinished baby blanket (one square done), baby sweater (ribbing and cable set up done), baby bootie (one completed, just needs seaming), a pre-felted bag and two mitts. The mitts are actually using the same pattern, but using 2 different yarns and with 2 different intended recipients. Oddly enough, I stopped working on them in precisely the same place.

    In the interest of full disclosure, I chose not to count pairs of socks, one of which is completely done and the second of which has not yet been started (I may be an optimist, but even I have my limits), and swatches that I have done for design ideas (that’s work, so it doesn’t count).

  Also, during the time it took to gather up, count and photograph all these projects, I may have begun and finished (finished, so it doesn’t count) another project.

    So there we go. If we were to separate the world of knitters into two types, those who knit because they want to eventually possess a specific thing (product knitters) and those who just knit (process knitters), I would apparently fall into the latter category. It’s not that I don’t want to have each one of these projects that I have started. It’s just that I don’t seem to want it very badly or for very long. I consider myself a fairly steadfast person, so it may be that I have concentrated all the fickleness in my character to this one pursuit. My husband, with whom I have happily spent the last 13 years of my life, is quite satisfied with this arrangement.

   When I brought up my UFOs with my parents, my mother (who does not share my compulsion at all and has a respectable 4 or 5 works in progress, none of which are more than a few months old, I’m sure) reminded me about Grammy. We’re pretty sure that Grammy’s compulsive yarn buying (I had never actually seen the walls of her guest bedroom because they were piled up with yarn) was her way of seeking immortality. How could she possibly ever die if she had so much yarn to knit?

   I don’t really think that having an unlimited supply of UFO’s will keep me alive forever, but it should, at least, keep me from ever being bored. If I ever feel boredom sneaking up on my, I can just pull up this post and be re-inspired. If I am ever having a day when I feel miserably unproductive, I can just pull out one of those oh-so-close projects and finish it up for a quick, easy feeling of accomplishment. See? It serves its purpose, and I am not at all ashamed.


In Case You Missed It… January 16, 2012

Filed under: how to,New pattern,Yarn Pics,Yarn review — Hannah Cuviello @ 8:17 pm

About a year ago, I think that I made some foolishly brash comment about blogging more frequently in 2011. I suppose that I should have known better. I have the best intentions…really I do.

I think that this year, I will make no such empty promises. Instead, I will start off the year (or the third week of it anyway) by posting some of the picture tutorials that made it into my newsletters (note that this is a link to where you can sign up to receive said newsletters).  Some of these may exist in a previous blog somewhere, so if there are repeats, I’m very sorry!

What follows is a modest collection of technique tutorials for knitting and crochet.

Crochet Puff Stitch

From the Summer Newsletter, this is a fun little stitch I used in the upper border for my Sun People Market Bag.

The finished product in context looks like this:

Shortly thereafter (several weeks actually, since I send out newsletters only slightly more frequently than I post to my blog), I put together a little how-to for Thrumming (totally fun and ever-so-cozy, if you haven’t tried it before).

Thrumming: The Basics

Step 1 is the preparation of the Thrum.

Step 2 is the inserting of the Thrum into the knitting.

I used this technique in my Thrummed Scraper Mitt, an item for which I have been extremely grateful in the past several weeks (no snow on the ground since October, but plenty of ice encasing my windshield).

Speaking of snow…

In December, I began to have temper tantrums about not having any snow on the ground and put together a little pattern in honor the the snow I did not have. This pattern used…

The Picot Cast On

This was the edging for my Snowflakes that Stay cowl.

Incidentally, I used a lace weight, sequined mohair blend for this cowl and I love it quite a lot. I’m not sure how to feel about that, since I normally avoid sequins if at all possible. It’s just so shiny. So sparkly…

Still on a cowl kick in the middle of December, I proceeded to post this cowl, again using a fun and interesting cast on.

i-Cord Cast On

And here it is in action.

The yarn I used here is Mirasol Sulka, which I love. We had just recently received several new colors, and this pattern was a little celebration in honor of them.  Also, I was very cold. In fact, I don’t know that I have taken that cowl off since then.*

*Actually, I have taken it off. Once or twice.

For the record, we still do not have snow on the ground, and they have been promising it all week. Even Portland has snow. Portland!

I feel like I must be missing some tutorials, so I will be digging around in my computer for more and will post them (some day), when I find them.

  For the immediate future, look forward to a shocking tell-all confessional regarding unfinished and recently started projects, the goal of which will be to shame me encourage me to finish some of them.


Ways of Knitting, Part 3: Why We Care May 20, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Hannah Cuviello @ 9:33 pm

A long time ago A perfectly reasonably amount of time ago, I wrote some posts in which I went into obsessive detail perfectly reasonable and healthy detail about stitch mount, direction of wrapping, and all the lovely combinations we find in knitting. I had intended to write a couple of follow up posts talking about why we even care. I am now ready to do this. (finally.)

Let’s jump right into it.

You may remember that there are two ways your stitches can be sitting on the needle.

In the first picture, the stitches are sitting with the right leg (the leading leg, which is closest to the tip of the needle and the working yarn) in front. In the second picture, the leading leg is in back.

Now, remember that I am an emphatic promoter of the “no wrong way to knit” camp. I happen to knit so that my leading leg is in front. Many excellent knitters knit with their leading legs in back.

That said, it is important to know that there is a difference and to be aware that most patterns are written assuming that the leading leg is in front. By most patterns, I mean every pattern that I have ever seen (that is not to say that there may not be some out there that assume differently). Honestly, for maybe 80% of patterns*, it really doesn’t matter.

*I totally made that number up; my point is that it’s lots.

The difference is most pronounced when it comes to decreases. Here is why.

There are many different kinds of decreases, and these decreases look different from one another. Specifically, different decreases are said to “lean” in a particular direction. Frequently, patterns tell you to use one or the other with that in mind.

When a pattern tells you to “k2tog” (knit 2 together) they expect you to come up with this:

K2tog (knit 2 together); right leaning decrease

When a pattern tells you to ssk (slip, slip, knit 2 together through the back loops)*, they are looking for something like this:

ssk (slip, slip, knit): a left leaning decrease

Frequently, a pattern will have you do one kind of decrease on one side of the garment and the other on the other side, so that the decreases are symmetrical.The difference is especially important in lace knitting, where the choice of decrease affects the lines and figures in the lace.

In the rest of this post, I will go through these two basic decreases more or less step by step for stitches with the leading legs in front and stitches with leading legs in back, and we can see what adjustment must be made to achieve the same look.

Let’s start with the right leaning decrease, the K2tog.

When the leading leg is in front of the needle, the process looks like this:

K2tog process, with leading leg in front

Those people I know who knit through the back loop don’t hesitate when they see k2tog; they do what is natural and knit two together through the back loops:

K2togtbl (natural K2tog when the leading leg is in back).

This is called a K2togtbl, meaning “Knit 2 together through the back loops” (or the leg behind the needle). Notice that this makes a perfectly lovely left-leaning decrease. If an unsuspecting  Back Loop Knitter were to use this stitch when a pattern says “K2tog”, the result will be a little different from what the pattern (and the knitter) expected.

If a Back Loop Knitter were to k2tog through the front loops, the result would be a right leaning decrease, but it would be twisted at the base.

K2tog through the front loops, when leading leg is in back

This is the same thing that happens when a Front Loop Knitter does a K2togtbl.

So how do we get an untwisted, right leaning decrease when the leading leg is in back?

SSK (slip, slip, knit 2 slipped sts together) when leading leg is in back; right leaning decrease.

The process is actually the same as what Front Loop Knitters have to go through to get a left leaning decrease (which really makes sense when you think about it). Now, some of you might be saying, “Hey! You’re just changing the stitch orientation and knitting 2 together!” Yes. That is exactly what we are doing.

Let’s look at the Left leaning decrease for Front Loop Knitters.

SSK (Slip, slip, k2 slipped sts together through back loop) with leading leg in front; left leaning decrease.

Hey! You’re just changing the stitch orientation and knitting 2 together through the back loops.


So there we have it. That’s why it’s important to know about your stitch orientation. (One wonders why it took me year and a half to get around to writing this blog post…).

To sum up…

Front Loop Knitters:

Right leaning decrease = k2tog

Left leaning decrease = ssk (slip, slip, knit 2 slipped sts together through back loops)

Back Loop Knitters:

Right leaning decrease = ssk

Left leaning decrease = k2tog(tbl)

This means, Back Loop Knitters, that when a patter says “k2tog”, you should ssk and when it says “ssk”, you should k2tog tbl.

The end.

Now go knit lace!

For the rest of the evening, I will be crocheting a dinosaur tape measure. Pictures to follow.


Happy Green Day! (…well, that’s everyday for some of us) March 19, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Hannah Cuviello @ 8:19 pm

For the sake of all the people out there who have not had a chance to look at my Ravelry page or my stash or almost all of my clothes, or my business logo, I should let you know that I rather like the color green. You can imagine how excited I get come mid March when everyone else joins me in celebrating my favorite color. (Yes, I know that St. Patrick’s Day was some days ago, but I make the magic last as long as I can).

Now, I think we had better start by looking at some green yarn.

Pretty Green Yarn

I love it. I just love it. sigh.

In celebration of this lovely color, I have some patterns for green things. Of course, you don’t have to make them in green, although I don’t see why you wouldn’t want to.

The first of these is a pattern to which I have alluded in past blog entries.


Grammy Slippers

In case you missed that post, I will recap. My Grammy (who was a KNITter, with stress on the capital Knit) made these slippers for everyone. Everyone. If you knew her, you probably had a pair (or several) of these. There has been no point in my life when I have not had at least one pair of these (although the last pair of Grammy-made slippers wore out last year). I’m not sure where she got the pattern. I feel like it’s one of those patterns (like a rolled brim hat) that is just out there. It exists in the knitosphere and, if we just breathe deeply enough, we might all take it in.

The beauty of these slippers (aside from their simplicity) lies in the gooshy*, waffle-like texture of the fabric.

*technical term

Many people have written this pattern down over the years, I’m sure. I certainly don’t claim authorship; I just hope to make it accessible to as many people as possible. To that effect, I am offering a downloadable pattern on my website. This pdf includes the pattern for the slippers, some ideas about color schemes, and pictorial instructions on two-color cast on, seaming in garter stitch, and a couple of other things pertinent to the project.

With a little time and a little yarn, this could be you:

For what it’s worth, I made my slippers (pictured) out of my two favorite colors of Cascade 220 SW; Turtle (1919) and Aporto (859).

The second pattern (also green) was included in one of our newsletters a while back, and I have just made it available on the website.

This little fellow was inspired by Lantern Moon’s lovely and whimsical tape measures. It occurred to me after I had taken this picture that a little black bead sewn to the tongue with white thread would make a perfect snack for my little froggy. This pattern is also available on the website.

So that’s that.

I have been managing to keep myself pretty busy lately, teaching beginning knitting (that’s how we knitters reproduce, you know) and toe-up socks, among other things.

I may have also been doing some designing. Just a bit.

Shhhh…. here’s a sneak peak!

All I can tell you is that they will be released at the end of the month. I’m pretty jazzed.

In the meantime, before I begin my next big project, I will try to spend some time on a hardcore technical post or two. I am painfully aware that I have still not finished the promised next installment of the Ways Of Knitting post. (guilty squirm) I have started it so many times. I just need to buckle down and knit some swatches. You’d think that wouldn’t be a problem for me.

Hmmm… or I could just take more pictures of yarn.

I will keep you posted.


In the meantime… February 20, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Hannah Cuviello @ 9:42 am


There is a post coming. It is so close…so very close. And there will be a little pattern in it.
In the meantime, here is a kitty in a shawl.


Will Seam for Love January 31, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Hannah Cuviello @ 1:58 pm

You’d think that I would have learned by now to avoid phrases like “will post very, very soon”, which inevitably turn me into a liar.  Well, I will console myself that “rather soon” is good enough.

For anyone who did not read my last post, we at Abundant Yarn are conducting a Square Drive. A what? A fun way for all you yarn crafters out there to contribute to the warmth and comfort of a child in need without having to commit to knitting/crocheting an entire afghan. You don’t even have to sew any squares together. All the afghans we put together will be donated to Project Linus, a non-profit organization that donates handmade blankets to children in crisis situations. This is one of our very favorite knitting-for-good activities, and we would love for you to play along!

The Squares (guidelines):

  1. Squares can be either 12″ or 7″; we will hopefully be making many blankets!
  2. Squares should be machine washable (superwash wool or acrylic blend- please make note of which you used so we can keep like fibers together).
  3. Squares should not be too lacy, so little fingers don’t get caught.
  4. You do not have to weave in your ends! Leave a 15-25″ end and we will use it for seaming.
  5. All squares should be made with love!

Inspiration and Ideas

Not sure where to go from here? Well, we have ideas!

12″ Squares:

We are huge fans of the Great American Afghan series from XRX publishing.

Each book contains about 25 unique and interesting squares to knit, ranging in difficulty from basic stockinette with a few embellishments to off-the-wall constructions with complex cables. My mother, especially has a fondness for these. She has just finished her third and is starting another (more on that at some as yet unspecified time).

12" Squares from The Great American Aran Afghan

One of the best parts is that, by the time you are totally sick of one pattern, you’re done!

7″ Squares:

This size square is the perfect medium for playing around with new stitch patterns and interesting textures or using up left-over yarn. Pull out your stitch dictionaries and go exploring!

These squares are the perfect stuff-in-your-purse/bag-and-whip-out-while-waiting-in-line size project.

7" Squares in Knit and Crochet

Just think how many of these you could get done while watching a single movie. And talk about instant gratification!

Where to send them:

You can send the squares to us at-

Abundant Yarn Online

PO Box 8093

Spokane, Wa 99203

Once we have an afghan or two put together, we will be setting up a page on our website where we can recognize all our wonderful square makers (“blanketeers”, as the Project Linus folks call them). We will post pictures of the finished afghans with the first name and city/state of the knitter or crocheter. If you would prefer us not to, please let us know.

Thank you all in advance. I just can’t wait to get seaming!


Sew Its Seams January 23, 2011

Filed under: Garter Stitch Seams,how to,knitting theory,Seaming — Hannah Cuviello @ 6:35 pm

(Snicker, snicker)

I love the New Year; it’s so full of opportunities to do all the things I didn’t do last year. I’m also a huge proponent of New Year’s Resolutions Lists…mostly because I would be lost without lists. I don’t know if you have noticed this about me…but I’m a little scatter brained. Not in a bad way! Usually, actually, in a very amusing way. A putting the remote control in the freezer kind of way. A leaving my keys in the door kind of way. Without lists, I would be completely lost and would, consequently never get anything done. Never. Ever.

I especially love the satisfying feeling of checking something off my list. It’s so encouraging. That is why my New Year’s Resolution List will never contain something like, “Eat healthier” or “Keep the house clean.”  How do I check that off? I won’t know I’ve done it until January of next year. I will have lost my list by then anyway.   My New Year’s resolutions list usually contains small, manageable tasks that I just didn’t get around to last year. It’s more of a New Year’s To-Do list, really. So far, this year’s list contains:

Write Tunisian Crochet Blog (check!)

Rephotograph Cascade 220 superwash (check!)

Write Seaming Blog (check!)

Write the rest of the Ways of Knitting posts … (no check yet)

Take down Christmas Tree (almost check!)

Make Afghan

Start Charity Knitting Project

Plus a few other choice tasks, all easily manageable if I can just remember about them long enough to get them done.

Today’s post has to do with three of the above Resolution Tasks, namely, “Make Afghan” and “Write Seaming post” and “Start Charity Knitting Project”.  You see, I am quite fond of Afghans…especially in January.  I am particularly fond of afghans that are knit in many small, manageable squares (each square is a check mark on my To-Do list!).  I am even more pleased when each square is different and interesting in its own way. For this reason, I am drawn to XRX’s Series of Great American Afghan books (including Great American Afghan, Great American Aran Afghan, and Great North American Afghan).

We have several of these afghans in my house and are getting started on a brand new Great North American Afghan (colors as yet undecided).

Now, I can imagine what some of you out there are thinking. You like the idea of an afghan where each square provides new, engaging designs and techniques, but you just aren’t into sewing together all those squares. I know how you feel. I used to be firmly in the “I’m a knitter, not a sewer” camp and was determined to knit only top-down or otherwise seamless garments. Then I sat down and learned how to do it right…and you know what? It turns out that it is supremely satisfying to produce a beautifully seamed piece of knitting. It’s just as satisfying as checking a whole slew of things off a list.

Today, we are going to talk about seaming. Specifically, we are going to look at the kind of seaming that would be involved were you to make one of the above mentioned afghans…Garter Stitch seaming.

Very cleverly, the publishers of the American Afghan books required all the designers to give their squares tidy garter stitch borders, simplifying the seaming process tremendously. That said, there are still three different kinds of garter stitch seams you will encounter, should you knit these afghans.

1. Seaming up the edges of Garter rows (this one is easy!).

2. Seaming along bound off or cast on edges of Garter.

3. A mix; seaming a bound off edge to the edges of rows.

Let’s start with what is often considered the easiest of the three.Garter stitch, you may have noticed, is made up of ridges of alternating knit and purl rows (this describes the finished look, not necessarily how you come by it). Along the edges, you will notice handy little bumps, which correspond to the purl row ridges.

Each edge bump actually consists of two interlocking bumps; a lower bump and an upper bump.

When seaming Garter edges, you will insert the weaving needle through the lower bumps on one side of the seam and the upper bumps on the other side, alternately.

Go back and forth from one side to the other, until you have something like this:

When seaming, I will usually make several passes before pulling the thread tight and closing the seam. I find it easier to get into the bumps when the seam is still loose. Also, I love pulling the seam tight with a satisfying zip. Just be careful not to wait too long or it will become rather difficult.

Normally, of course, you would sew the seam with yarn that matched one of your squares.

Wasn’t that easy?

Number two takes a little bit more scrutiny of the knitting, but is, I think, still not too bad.

Just under the bound off edge of your square, you will see the little V’s of your stitches (they’re right above the upper bumps). To seam this edge, insert the needle behind both legs of one of those V’s.

On the other side of the seam, you will find much the same thing.

Do you see the little legs? They are right above the bump from the cast off (a cast on edge will look rather similar and be treated the same way).Insert your needle under the legs of a stitch on the bottom square, then under the legs of a stitch on the top square. Go back to the bottom square and move on to the next stitch.

If you can do these, sewing seams that include both edges will be just as easy. On the side with ridge bumps, insert your needle under the bumps (in this case, I actually go under both the top and bottom bump); on the cast off side, go under the legs of the V’s.

Alternate between the two edges as before and pull tight.

Sometimes you will have squares that aren’t exactly the same size a their neighbors. In this event, you can skip a stitch now and then on the side that is longer (I’m afraid I was not feeling quite thorough enough to take pictures of that for you. I’m sorry.)

So…are those afghans feeling a little more approachable now? Do you feel inspired?

Perhaps you would enjoy the experience of knitting these fun and enlightening squares, but  feel a little “no-thank-you” about seaming, let me offer an alternative.  We at Abundant Yarn are big fans of a program called Project Linus. This wonderful organization collects handmade blankets and afghans and distributes them to children who are ill, traumatized or otherwise in need. Should you feel like you would like to knit some squares, but don’t want to seam them, send them to us. We will be happy to sew them together for you. Then we will send them to Project Linus.

Actually, I will be writing (very, very soon) another post, completely dedicated to our upcoming official afghan square drive, with all the details you could possible want. Until then, I leave you with the tools to finish any garter stitch afghans you may happen to have lying around.

Happy Seaming!