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seed stitch

  • Weekly Dishcloth: Simple Seed Stitch

    This week's dishcloth is about as plain as it gets: it's the Seed Stitch Facecloth from Better Homes and Gardens Knitted Gifts.

    It's just what it sounds like.  It's a block of seed stitch.  "But Jen," you might be thinking, "isn't that kind of boring?"  Nope!  Not even a little!  I had thought this would be a perfect day trip project and tossed it in the car this past weekend.  But there was a bit of a hitch for my wonderful plan.  I needed #5 needles to get the right gauge, but I couldn't find my circular needles.  No big deal, though. I could just grab my straight #5 needles and all would be well.  Right?


    Why are straight needles so long?!  And why hasn't this bothered me before?  What was happening?  What was intended to be a soothingly repetitive and simple pattern turned into some kind of tortuous exercise in yarn wrestling.  Wrangling the yarn while attempting to keep the ends of the needles from scraping down the side of my car door or whacking my husband in the arm made this project a lot more involved than I had anticipated!  Goodness freaking gracious.  My knitting and I were all over the place.

    It's a good thing this was a simple pattern.  If I had needed to count stitches or bring in different yarns while giving my husband incorrect directions and passing books back to a three-year-old, I would have had a disastrous project on my hands.  But since this was such an easy stitch pattern, it came out looking fine.  Besides, I had a happy toddler in the back seat and some beautiful mountains to look at while I worked on this.  This might not have been the relaxing knit I had planned for myself, but I still reached my destination with a smile on my face and a finished project in my hand.

    I felt a little less calm that night when I found my #5 circular needles behind a pattern book.  Those little needles with that flexible cable could have made all the difference in the world!  Live and learn and do a better job of packing my travel knitting in the future, I guess.  Oh well.  I just now realized that I typed that seed stitch is an 'easy' pattern in that last paragraph.  I usually don't say that a pattern or technique is easy because that's such a relative thing. There are people who love working on double pointed needles and I get nervous every single time I use them.  There are patterns I can work in my sleep that give people fits.  Skill levels and personal preferences (and needle choice!) make every pattern different for every knitter.  But I feel okay saying that if you can knit and purl at all, then you will probably find seed stitch easy. 

    Whether or not it's boring is totally up to you, though.

  • Simple Seed Stitch

    I made the Seed Stitch pattern from Skinny Scarves.  I added ten extra stitches, so it's not that skinny.  But I really love seed stitch, so I wanted more of it to knit.  It was awesome.

    I cast this on in a bit of a frenzy last week when I thought I didn't have anything in my gift stash and my sister's birthday was only a few days away.  A simple seed stitch scarf sounded pretty and quick.  This has been both!  The pattern calls for bulky weight yarn and #10 needles.  I used some Bernat Softee Chunky (the old version) and #10.5 needles.  This knitted up quickly and beautifully, and turned out to be an excellent stashbuster as well!  Perfect!

    I sped through the endless knits and purls while playing with my daughter, waiting for pictures to upload on other blog posts, or watching television.  By the time I'd reached my second skein, I was a lot more relaxed about having a present.  This was looking so lovely, and there's something almost hypnotic about simple seed stitch.  I knew my sister would like the width and length--I worked until the scarf was over six feet long and had nearly 300 yards of yarn in it.  And I know I liked working on this.

    For the record, I remembered that I had also had put away the Easy Going Beanie from Celebrity Slouchy Beanies for the Family especially for her birthday several months ago!  By the time I realized I probably shouldn't trust my memory and go through my gift stash, I was already close to finishing up the scarf.  My sister was very happy with her handknit presents!  She usually is, which is why I knit for her in the first place, and I knew she would like the gray of the scarf especially. 

    I like it, too.

  • Knitting and Blocking Franco's Muffler and Living to Cuss About It

    I made the Franco's Muffler pattern from Knit Along with Debbie Macomber: Debbie's Favorites!

    I brought this project along with me on a family vacation last week because I thought the scarf's two-row pattern repeat would make for some excellent car knitting.  I used #8 needles and Bernat Softeez (the old discontinued type), which is a bulky weight yarn.  The fluffy yarn knitted up quickly and the pattern was undemanding with just enough variety to keep me from falling asleep. 


    Always a but.

    I should have used wool.  Or at least a wool blend.  But probably wool.  I think wool scarves are just superior scarves, and a scarf pattern with the word "muffler" right there in the title should be knitted with wool if at all possible.  Not if you have a wool allergy.  I feel you.  But like I said, if at all possible and I understand if it's not possible. I used the acrylic because I had quite a bit of it in my stash and I liked this light gray.  I thought the yarn's color and texture would look wonderfully scarf-y (you know what I mean) all knitted up in the pattern.  And it did!  But.

    Y'all.  This scarf folds up like a wild cuss word.  The seed stitch strip in the middle pulls the outer sections of stockinette into a bunchy cussing mess.  I'm all for scrunched scarves, but this scarf's pretty stitch pattern was obscured all to cuss by the bunching.  When I first started on this scarf, I thought I would be able to block some of this out. But acrylic just doesn't block like wool does.  No matter how much you want it to.

    And I really wanted it to!  I tried to block this scarf one warm afternoon while my little girl napped and the rest of the family was out shopping.  I squeezed the scarf with wet paper towels and laid it out on a clean sheet.  Since I didn't have blocking pins with me, I flattened this out with whatever heavy objects I could find and turned on the overhead fan.

    I used to press flowers a lot as a kid. My skills came in handy.

    Yes, it was still like that when everyone came back.  I tried convincing my in-laws that this was completely normal behavior, and they just seemed to accept that this was at least normal behavior for me.  And they kept telling themselves that as we ate dinner around it that night.  Even after all that time, the cussed scarf still would not lay flat!

    It's not uncommon for me to swear at something as I'm making it.  I'm an uncouth person who lacks imagination and class (this is the part where I assure you I was raised better).  It's just what happens when I'm frustrated or concerned about my project.  It's rare for me to keep going even after I've finished my work and start recounting the experience.  But I'm so irritated!  Wool would not have done this to me!  If you make this pattern--and believe it or not, I think you should because you would like it--YOU MUST ABSOLUTELY KNIT WITH WOOL!  Promise me!  Or at least some kind of other natural fiber that will hold its shape after some blocking.  There are plenty of affordable options out there and this would be beautiful made with anything you could find on sale at your local yarn store.  You'll need about 500 yards or so (stash-buster!) and you'll need something that can block so you can show off your pretty scarf properly.

    Note: sorry about the cussing.  It (probably) won't happen again.  At least for a while.  I love this pattern.  I did not let it ruin my fun in the sun and sand.  And lastly, I gave this to my husband's grandmother and she loved it.  Bless her heart.  It's a pretty color, and she'll be able to wrap this up around her neck several times because of the bunching.  (Ugh.)  I'm glad she likes it.

  • Knitting a Muffler!

    I'm knitting a scarf!  It's Franco's Muffler from Knit Along with Debbie Macomber: Debbie's Favorites.  Actually, it's from my inbox because I got this a while ago as a Free Pattern Friday pattern.  But hey, if you'd like to try this then get yourself a copy of the book!  It's been marked down and there are ten other patterns that sound delightful!

    And please note that I said I am knitting this.  Not that I have knitted this.  I brought this along for a few hours of traveling last weekend and I really felt like I was really making progress.  After all, I had some #8 needles and some bulky weight yarn.  The main body is two rows over and over.  I'm kind of a fast knitter.  I could finish this in no time, right?


    I haven't knit a scarf in several million years, and so I'd forgotten that scarves are a million feet long.  Those numbers aren't exact, and I might be guesstimating on the conservative side, but this will be a nice project to pick up and work a few rows on when I'm in the mood for something simple.  There's just enough seed stitch in there to keep this from being a boring stockinette project, soI think I'll go until this seems long enough or I run out of yarn.

    The pattern calls for 500 yards or so of bulky weight yarn.  I'm using some Bernat Softee Chunky--the older discontinued kind--but there are plenty of other yarns out there that are just as soft and just-fluffy-enough.  I'm already wondering what this would look like in a chocolate brown.  I bet that would be nice.  I may try this again in that color!  I also think I might knit this up in a wool blend next time, or with 100% wool.  The stockinette stitches are really rolling the whole thing up.  Wool would holds its shape a bit better, and would block more easily.

    The pattern also calls for #9 needles to get a gauge of 14 stitches and 23 rows to get a 4" square.  You could go up or down a few needles sizes just to suit your own preference.  It's a scarf, so it should fit just fine and I think the stitch pattern will look fine no matter what.  Just use whatever you have already, or what's easiest on your hands.  I was initially worried about #8 needles making this too dense, but it's knitting up fine and I think it's going to be a really soft and solid-feeling scarf!

    Now I just need to finish it....

  • Purl 2 Stitches Together: A Knitting Tutorial

    Hey, remember when I knitted the Casual Comfort beanie from Celebrity Beanies for the Family and it was all textured and kind of old-fashioned looking and absolutely delightful?

    Good times.

    I really love that pattern, and I think I should make it again for myself in either a really neutral color or a super vibrant one.  Anyway, until then I thought this would be a fun time to talk about decrease stitches.  I know.  I party hard.

    Since seed stitch is just a bunch of knit and purl stitches, one of the decrease methods for the Casual Comfort hat is to purl two stitches together.  And how do you purl two stitches together?

     Like this:


    It seems simple enough: act like you're going to purl a stitch and then purl two of them as one.  But the first time I read a description of how to do it, it sounded ridiculously tricky and I don't know why.  Maybe sometimes simple actions are difficult to describe.  But believe me, this is as simple as the reassuring voice and professional hands in the video says it is.

    Purling two stitches together is a common technique when you're making decreases in the purled fabric between cables, ribbed knitting, or seed stitch.  Man, I love seed stitch.  And I love knowing lots of decrease stitches.  Purl decreases are fanfreakingtastic, and I hope you have a pattern to try them out super soon.

    Obviously I'm recommending this one.

  • A Slouchy Seed Stitch Beanie!


    It's finished!  I made the Casual Comfort pattern from Knit Celebrity Beanies for the Family in about a day!  And by "day" I mean "twenty-four-hour period of time where I slept 6 or 7 hours and went to work and ran errands and did life things before sitting down with my knitting."  This doesn't usually happen to me during the workweek--what a quick knit!*

    As I mentioned before, this has a very vintage feel to me and I love it.  And now that this is finished, I'm feeling it even more.  I want to make one for myself.

    And yes, then I'm going to toss it up in the air while smiling on a busy city street.  It's been a while since a slouchy hat pattern has made me feel this way, but this seems like a good hat for the job.

    I love how the yellow yarn knitted up into the seed stitch and I'm completely delighted with how this sunny little project turned out.  I can only hope that my friend feels the same way!

    And I hope she doesn't mind that I tried on her hat.  Uh....just to see if it works.


    Anyway!  I made this in the Small/Medium size, which took up a little under 200 yards of worsted weight yarn.  There are also instructions available for a Large/Extra Large as well, which could come in handy if your head circumference is 21" around or more--or if you just have a lot of hair.

    Have I also mentioned that Celebrity Slouchy Beanies for the Family is currently on sale?  Because it is.  So we have a one skein wonder, a beautiful finished object, and 7 patterns for the price of a small fountain drink?  I bet YOU'RE GONNA MAKE IT AFTER ALLLLLLLL!

    I'm sorry.  But now that the theme song for the Mary Tyler Moore Show is going to be stuck in my head for the next few days, I have to share it.  And really, I'm going to make this after all--possibly this weekend.

    *This post was all set to go this morning, except for pictures, until I had computer problems.  So I had to wait to tell you about this until I got home from work.  Whoops.

  • Hey, Vintage is Still Cool....Right?

    I tend to get a touch of castonitis in January, and this year is no different.  My pile of WIPs is getting to be a little embarrassing, but I'm not going to let a little thing like looking crazy stop me.  My most current project is the Casual Comfort pattern from Knit Celebrity Slouchy Beanies for the Family.

    It's actually for an online friend, and since I'm not too sure about her head circumference (it just feels rude to ask) I figured I couldn't go wrong with a slouchy hat.

    The pattern looks modern and casual in the booklet's picture.

    But all this seed stitch looks oddly old-fashioned to me in my actual project.  I don't think it's a bad thing at all.  I was just surprised.  Maybe it's the shade of yellow.  It's the 5121 colorway of Berroco Vintage, and the goldenrod-ness of this looks mighty vintage indeed with the seed stitches.  I think that makes me like it even more.

    I love seed stitch.  The repetitive motions of knitting and purling over and over relax me, and I love how switching up my knits and purls yields such a textured knitted fabric.  This is a simple knit and I like how this is turning out.

    The pattern calls for Size 6 and 8 needles, so I scooted down to a 5 and a 7 like always.  I didn't think I would get very much done on this last night since I didn't get started until it was a little late.  But I was watching Sense & Sensibility and the next thing I knew, Emma Thompson and Hugh Grant were declaring their love for each other and I had nearly 3.5" of a hat on my hands!   In a couple of inches, I'll start decreasing!  And then I'll actually finish a knitting project!

    No, last week's handwarmers don't count.  That was a matter of saving my hands from dying of polar vortex.  This is just a matter of finishing a knitting project before the end of the month.

    And as quickly as this is going, I think I will!

  • Knitting in a Bit More Than a Day for a Baby

    I'm knitting a sweater for my daughter.

    You just have to trust me that this is a picture of that sweater, because it doesn't look like much right now.

    I'm working on the Pattern Stitch Cardigan from Knit in a Day for Baby by Candi Jensen.  She freely admits in her introduction that some of these patterns more along the lines of a weekend project than something you can knock out in a day and I appreciate that.  I haven't had an uninterrupted weekend of knitting since.....well, probably since before I had a baby, but a few weekends ago I did have a pretty good day of knitting when I nearly knit an entire pattern that was also from this book.

    But I can't talk about that pattern until after my sister's many baby showers.  So I'm talking about this little cardigan for my little girl.

    She's growing every day, or at least she's stretching out like Silly Putty.  She's very tall, but very slender.  Well-fitting clothes are a bit rare for us right now, especially now that she thinks she's too big for onesies.  But the lovely thing about making something by hand is all those modifications you can make to a pattern to suit your needs.  So I cast on the number of stitches for an 18 month old, and I'm working the length for a 24 month old.  The pattern has sizes for 6, 12, 18, and 24 months.  My little creature is actually 36 months and I'm starting to worry that I should have cast on the amount of stitches for the 18 month size.

    Seriously, she is very small.  I wrapped this WIP around her the other night just to get a feel of when I should start working on dividing the back and arms and she kept giggling and spinning inside the knitting needles.  She laughed "It's too big!" and I had to remind myself that she'll be wearing this over jeans and a thick shirt.  And that one day she'll grow out.  Maybe. 

    Still, I'd rather make something a tiny bit too large than something she'll outgrow before Christmas.  And this won't be nearly as bulky-in-a-bad-way as some of the sweaters I've started seeing in a store because I've made this a bit trimmer and if I want it to be longer, I can just make it longer.  It's the beauty of making your own things!

    I'm at the point where it's time to divide for the fronts and back.  After that I'll make two sleeves, where I'll once again get to add a few rows for length if I feel like I need to.  The whole sweater is worked in seed stitch, and I love the nubby texture with this light tan (nearly oatmeal) yarn.  Textured tan is in all those fall projects for a reason.  It just looks so good!  I'm using some worsted weight acrylic for easy washing, and I think I want to use brown buttons and orange edging.

    I also think I want to finish this in time for my girl to wear it to the pumpkin patch this weekend.

    I've been knitting this for a couple of weeks in fits and starts and in bits and pieces, but I'm definitely going to be spending a bit more time with it in the next day or two.

    Wish me luck!

    EDIT: In case you were curious, this is what I wrote about this project after the weekend.

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