Knitting Through – the Stacy Pullover

At the start of the new year, I realized that it had been 10 (ten!) years since I had last knitted a full-body garment for myself. Sure, I had made approximately eighty million hats and pairs of socks, but nothing to cover the top half of me since we moved from Boulder.

I’ll be honest, part of this is because I am not such a huge fan of the top half of my body. I am a big girl with short legs and broad shoulders, not exactly the ideal for the body-hugging fabric that knitting produces. Knitting smaller things for myself was always more acceptable because I didn’t have to take a bust or waist measurement to make them.

At the start of 2020, before the madness began, I said to myself, screw that. It’s the last semester of school, you’re coasting right to the finish line. You need a simple stress reliever project that you can feel good about! You scored a decent amount of this lovely worsted yarn during a clearance sale that is begging to become something lovely. You’ve got this!

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Well, I was right about the yarn, and wrong about pretty much everything else.

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My last semester of DNP school turned out to be anything but a coast to the finish line. I got a whole new faculty chair, who had a whole lot of things to say about my project that forced me to do a crazy amount of work in a short amount of time. The pandemic shut down school, shut down clinicals, and shut down our DNP project defense presentations. Instead, we did everything online, and I tried to boil down years of crazy hard work into a 25 minute slideshow where I talked way too fast but miraculously passed.

I didn’t get to finish clinicals or get a graduation. I got an award, but my family didn’t get to see me receive it. I rarely get to work at all, because my PRN status means that I get cancelled a lot to save money for the hospital. I gained even more weight because of…well because of everything. I tried to stay calm and bake and try to cook new things and knit, but inside I’m a simmering pot of anxiety. Never have I ever felt that I have less to be proud of, even though my brain knows better.

However, through it all, I made this sweater.

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This sweater kept me looking forward.

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This sweater gave me concrete goals.

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This sweater made me really care about matching up the gradient on the sleeves, and then matching it to the front panels, which is no small feat, I must say.

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This sweater made me happy when nothing else could, and I am thankful that the person I was in January gave me the gift of being able to finish it now.

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Now, enough mushiness, let’s hear about the knitting!

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The yarn is Cascade Tangier in the sadly discontinued colorway Lakeside. It’s a very strange blend of silk, acrylic, rayon, and cotton that resembles a slubby wool blend like Noro Kureyon, but with better stitch definition and a smoother drape. Some of the rayon sheds while you’re working with it and mine inexplicably had some random tiny bits of gold sparkly stuff in it, but otherwise it was very nice to work with.

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The pattern is the Stacy Pullover from Big Girl Knits, designed by Terri Shea.

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I have owned this book for so long and never knit anything out of it. Not sure why, as it is the perfect book for analyzing the fundamentals of knitted objects and how to make them work best for your body. Every pattern is labelled with the body feature that it is best suited for, plus there are a ton of helpful notes on how to modify things to your specific tastes.

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The Stacy Pullover is specifically designed for people with a lot of boobs and butt to spare, so there was very little I needed to do to make it work for me. The only modification that I made was giving the ribbing an extra two inches, as I can’t stand it when sweaters are too short.

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I didn’t even try to match striping on the front and back, because nobody has that kind of time and gradient yarns always manage to have knots in inopportune areas. However, I knit both of the sleeves at the same time, and made sure to make those match each other and line up with the armscye from the front, just to keep it from looking like too much of a circus.

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I’m in love with the detached keyhole neck detail as well. That, combined with the fact that the transition from honeycomb to ribbing makes it look like a tailored waist, man that’s some good stuff.

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As soon as the world calms down and the weather drops below 80 degrees everyday, this sweater will be joining me frequently, reminding me that I have something to be proud of despite all of the insanity. I have a doctorate. And I have a sweater. It’s all going to be okay.

Catch-Up Time, the Last: a Plethora of Kimono

Here it is, our last catch-up post for the fall and winter of 2019.

You remember my dear friends Jonathan and Rebecca? Of course you do. Just last year, I knit them some socks to keep them warm during their cold Bay Area nights.  This summer, I got the exciting news that they, too, were expecting a baby, although she wasn’t due until at least January.

Now, I don’t know if I’ve fully explained just how important these people are to me on here before. Jonathan is my oldest friend. I know that we all have people that we follow on Facebook and check in with occasionally from elementary school and high school, and of course we consider them friends, but Jonathan is the friend who has always been a major part of my life, despite multiple moves and life shifts by the both of us all across the country over the past 22 (is it 22?!) years.

I was sitting here trying to figure out how to sum up how we became friends and stayed close all of these years, but really, it’s not necessary. Just know that he has shaped who I am today and that I love him dearly. Rebecca makes him sublimely happy, and she accepted me and embraced me immediately when we first met, so she deserves the world.

So, as you can see, this baby coming into the world of two of my very favorite people was a big deal. So big that only one knitted item wasn’t going to be nearly enough to show just how happy I was for them.

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And so we have here, a plethora of kimono.

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When I told Dan about the baby, he said, “Oh, you need to make one of those baby sweaters that you made for Dani that time.” He was talking about when my friend Dani in Colorado was expecting for the first time, and I made her two little sweaters, based on the fantastic pattern One-Piece Baby Kimono by Cristina Shiffman, part of the seminal classic knitting book, Mason-Dixon Knitting. At the time when I made those sweaters (here and here, if you want to see how cute they were!), Mason-Dixon Knitting was still a relatively new blog/phenomenon. I was delighted to find out that they are still going strong, now selling their own beautiful yarns and pattern kits.

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However, sometimes it just doesn’t get any better than the classics.

In this case, I went with my own stockinette-based tweak of the pattern. When you modify the pattern so that you do it this way, you can get a whole sweater out of only one ball of Cascade 220 Superwash, my very favorite yarn for baby stuff, plus it just looks super chic and elegant this way, yes?

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Yes.

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After you knit one, which seriously only takes an afternoon if you’re motivated, you can’t help yourself and need to keep going.

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And going.

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And going.

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They are just too much cuteness. You can only really consider stopping after five.

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The colors I chose, in descending order here, are Cascade 220 Superwash in #1946 Silver Grey, #873 Extra Creme Cafe, #905 Celery, and #1949 Lavender, and Berroco Vintage in #5101 for the white.

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Dan picked out the ribbon colors, and I think he did a wonderful job. They are all 1/2″ satin ribbon from Offray, and there are so many colors out there, you’re bound to find a great match.

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Weaving and sewing in the ribbon is a particular bit of fiddly business that I enjoy. In the original pattern, they only recommend sewing in the ribbon in ties on the side.

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I can’t ever help myself, and I always have to go a little bit further. For mine, I wove the ribbon in and out of the eyelets, skipping two bars on top and one on the bottom. If you try to just weave it in-and-out of each hole, this width of ribbon starts to crumple and fold over in an unattractive way. By skipping holes on the top to create a larger “bump,” everything lays flat and lovely and shiny.

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See?

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After these were blocked and be-ribboned, they got sent off to San Rafael with all my love, just a few weeks ago. I’m glad I sent them early, because Jonathan and Rebecca’s birthday baby girl decided to come over a month early! She is perfect and beautiful, and I hope that she understands just how much she is loved, not just by her amazing parents, but by those of us across the country, sending our love and good wishes and warmth in the form of teeny, tiny handknit sweaters.

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So that just about wraps it up for this fall and winter. I am still exhausted, mostly in the brain area, but taking the time to sit and write these out has helped me to see how much I accomplished this year that wasn’t just assigned to me by professors.

In real life, I am a fairly prickly person. I am slow to friendship. I am exacting and organized and suspicious. Those people around me, the ones who love and care, deserve so much more love and appreciation than I am ever able to fully present with just words. So, I make things with my hands. I try to infuse the good thoughts and warm feelings that lurk deep within so that they can see them, finally, on the surface. And I hope that they understand.

Chocolate Pie & a Warm Pup – the City Stripes Dog Sweater

In early January, my friend Kelli had a wonderful idea. We decided to chase our winter blues away and celebrate the tiny amount of time I had left before my semester started again by baking chocolate fudge pie.

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This girl right here is just full of good ideas. If it’s any indication of just how good of an idea this was, this is the first real opportunity that I’m having to post about it because of school and work and nonsense, despite the fact that it happened 3 months ago.

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We took the chilly day as an opportunity to learn the finer points of pie crust-making, focusing on proper rolling and fluting technique, which are the fiddliest and best parts, of course.

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Such concentration!

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It was worth it.

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Look at that pie-making pride! Well-deserved, indeed.

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I don’t really have a recipe or anything to share, just wanted to brag a little bit about how freaking delicious that pie was. However, during our pie-making, Kelli and I were bemoaning how cold it was this winter, and we got onto the topic of dog sweaters.

Kelli is the greatest dog lover that I know, and that’s really saying something. She loves all pups, especially her tiny Ellie, and we spent part of the afternoon brainstorming on Ravelry what new sweater I would knit for her in order to keep warm during the rest of the winter.

I have never knit an article of clothing for an animal before, primarily due to two facts. One, I am allergic to dogs and cannot spend much time around them without dissolving into a sneezing, wheezy mess. Two, I own two cats, both of which have a history of handily annihilating any object placed on their person, except for a collar. (And even then, only select collars.)

We settled on Lion Brand’s City Stripes Dog Sweater pattern after falling in love with its stripey, squishy goodness, plus the fact that it has a wide range of sizes and fit modifications built into the pattern.

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I am not normally a huge Lion Brand fan, but Wool-Ease Thick & Quick can be downright delightful when it’s combined with the right pattern.  Kelli told me that she wanted neutrals, blues, and golds, and I think I hit the jackpot.  The colors we went with were Sky Blue (106), Mustard (158), and Barley (124), and when they’re striped up all nice, they remind me of a very fancy private school uniform.

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Wool-Ease is soft and squishy and bouncy, perfect for making those stripes pop. I was quite enamored of the wrong side, as I often am. Knitters know, sometimes the wrong side, the inside, is prettier.

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But the right side, hoo boy, it’s nice, too.

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Plus, Wool-Ease is machine-washable, an essential element when knitting anything that’s going to spend the majority of its worn life just a few inches from the ground.

I pretty much followed the pattern exactly as written for the smallest size (the 18″ chest), due to Ellie being a very tiny pup. I carried all of the colors up the side, which all disappeared conveniently in the seaming.

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The only change that I made was in the binding-off. I used a larger needle just for the bind-off rows on each piece (I’m pretty sure I used a size 17 for this, but, as usual, I neglected to write down this important information). When I bound the stitches with the original size 13 needles, it just seemed like it wasn’t stretchy enough to fit comfortably over the head of a squirming animal. Redoing it with the larger needle size made it nice and stretchy without deforming the overall shape. I decided to try it out on the most unwilling participant I could find, just to be sure.

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Trip tolerated it for a whole 5 seconds before deciding that both it and I needed to be destroyed. I’m pretty sure that that solidified my #1 place on his future hit-list, but he looked so cute I couldn’t resist.

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But how did it go with Ellie?

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Awwwwwww.

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Such a warm and cosy pup.

Now that the weather’s gotten warmer, and it actually feels like spring around here (which feels more like summer to everyone else in the country), I know that Kelli and Ellie don’t need their sweater as much, but I have faith that it’ll last them for a long time to come. As for me, it is very tempting to use the 1/2 skeins I have left of each color to make a kitty sweater, but I think I’ll take the safe option and make a blanket for them to destroy. They’ll love it.

A Very Tiny Post about a Very Tiny Sweater (with a very long name) – the Super Simple Buddy Balls Bear Sweater

Remember that last post when I talked about making a little bitty sweater for a funny stuffed bear? Well, I decided to write out a really quick pattern for it, just in case anyone else is struggling to make a sweater for the very cool, but strangely proportioned, Buddy Balls bear plushies.

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Maybe you’d like to get one of your own? There you go.

Here’s the pattern in an easily printable PDF for your toy-knitting enjoyment.

This tiny sweater was made with the lovely, yet sadly discontinued, Naturally Merino Fine 10 ply, but any slightly-lighter-weight worsted wool or wool-blend will do. Now, go make some tiny sweater for bears with giant heads. It’ll be fun, I promise.