Knit vs. Crochet

But before we jump into that exciting topic, let me first say a huge thank you for your amazing Advent activity suggestions on yesterday’s post!! I haven’t had a chance yet to respond to comments, but they were really wonderful. If you are looking for some ideas to do with your own kids, you really should check out the comments from that post. Thank you so much for everyone who took the time to offer ideas!

There is also this great comment on Facebook from a friend of mine:

One of the things I do every year is discover at least one new Christmas cd (either newly released or just new-to-me). A couple years ago it was Cee Lo Green’s “Magic Moment”; this year it’s been Diana Krall’s “Christmas Songs” and a French album of recognizable songs (Marie-Eve Janvier and Francois Breau). Justin Bieber’s Xmas album is pretty fun (hate to admit it). Other ideas: read one Xmas story per day (Norman Rockwell’s anthology is classic, but I also highly recommend Tolkien’s Letters from Santa Clause); wear an ugly Xmas sweater; search YouTube for old Xmas tv specials (He-Man and She-Ra totally have Xmas episodes); go ice skating; put $5 inside a Xmas card and leave it inside a book in a bookstore (this happened to me – I found a card with $5 and a holiday message for the lucky discoverer inside Dickens’ A Christmas Carol in the Ann Arbor Borders, one year).

Those are some great ideas, and I especially LOVE the idea of putting money inside a Christmas card and leaving it inside a book in a bookstore and that is DEFINITELY going into the Advent calendar. I hope at the end of the season to give a recap of what I ended up doing. We’ll see if I can keep up with documenting it for myself.

Okay, onto the provocative topic of Knit vs. Crochet! My friend and colleague, Amy, posted on Facebook yesterday saying she couldn’t decide if she wanted to learn to knit or crochet, and wanted people’s thoughts. She got lots of good comments, and of course my answer was: learn both! But it got me curious to know what my blog readers would recommend. Which do you prefer, and why? Have you tried both and found one to be easier or more interesting? If you do both, what kinds of things do you like to make by knitting and what kinds with crochet? And if you were advising someone about what they should learn, what would your advice be? (There was a time when I saw and heard a lot of snobbery in the online knitting community towards crochet – is that still the case? I hope not.)

As for me, I’m improving my crochet skills these days, thanks to the broken hand (which prevents me from being able to knit but apparently is not too impaired to crochet). I have to admit that it’s pretty amazing to watch how fast crochet grows. I’ve now gotten to the fun part of my Sunday Shawl:


Sunday Shawl Progress

I haven’t had a lot of time for crochet this week, but still the shawl grows:

I guess I’m having some tension issues, because I’ve got a little wing thing going on, but I’m going to press on anyway, and try to be more mindful. My stitch count is also a little off. I obviously still have a lot to learn when it comes to crochet.

But I’m very much enjoying the pattern as well as watching how fast crochet grows.

The yarn is Knit Picks Swish, acquired years and years ago for a Tubey sweater (remember that pattern), which I never got around to. Now I’m glad about that, because I am really pleased with how it’s turning out in the shawl.

Since it’s called the Sunday Shawl, it only seems fitting that I spend some time today (Sunday) on it, yes? Yes, I think I shall.

Or, Perhaps the Opposite Will Happen


So yesterday I did a bunch of math to figure out whether to rip back and add a few rounds to my shawl, and, if so, how many rounds to add, and I determined that yes, I did have enough yarn for that, and the answer was three rounds, and that was what I would do.

And then I proceeded to do the opposite, which was to move forward by intuition instead of math and keep doing the border I was already doing.

What happened was this. First, John pointed out that adding a second picot crochet cast-off border might be a nice idea. I experimented with how that would look and decided that it looked very nice indeed and that this was exactly what I wanted to do.

And then secondly, Annika and Kelly-Ann both commented on my post yesterday, pointing out that of course the picot crochet bind-off was eating a lot more yarn than a regular bind-off. Which is, in fact, extremely true. And my calculations didn’t take that into consideration at all. I mean, I knew it was taking more and yet I had no idea how much, so I didn’t know how to calculate for that. But I decided it would be unwise to add additional knit rounds without knowing the true amount of yarn this cast-off is consuming.

So I decided to just keep doing the border as I’ve been doing, and to weigh the ball of yarn when I’m done to calculate how many yards I have left.


Then I began to get concerned – what if this bind-off is taking up so much yarn that I will run out before I even finish? Ack. So late last night, without a little less than three-quarters of the bind-off done, I weighed the ball of yarn. It was 3 grams. Three grams! That’s not very much! I calculated that at maybe 20 yards.

But then this morning, I did some more binding off. I worked and worked and worked. And then I weighed the ball of yarn – 3 grams! Hmm. I guess with this light yarn (laceweight-ish), it’s not going to register at less than that for awhile. So I’m just going to keep moving and hope I can out-crochet the yarn. And then, when I’m done with this bind-off, if I do have yarn left (and currently my intuition tells me I will), I will go back and add a double set of picots here and there at various places around the shawl. That sounds pretty, right? Don’t tell me if you don’t think it sounds pretty because I’m very excited about it!


Right now the shawl looks like an indistinct blog with a curling border. I can’t wait to see it transformed by blocking. SOON!


How to Grow a Shawl, in 3 Easy Steps

1 – Get obsessed.

knitting during kids' piano lessons

knitting during kids’ piano lessons

2 – Get very obsessed.


3 – Just get really, really super-obsessed.


And then it just grows!

2 more oz. ready to be wound

2 more oz. ready to be wound and knit

Sometimes I Get Carried Away

I hadn’t planned to cast on for something new. I just couldn’t help myself. First I made the yarn. Then I had the idea. Then I had this conversation:

Insta conversation on my Slumber pic

Insta conversation on my Slumber pic

Then I wound the yarn:

photo 1-5

with cat, for scale

And I swear, that was all I was going to do! I was going to let it sit around while I finished up my sweater. But then my family went to see Big Hero 6 (thumbs-up all around, especially from the 10 year-old set) and I thought, “wouldn’t it be nice to have a little easy knitting with me?” So I packed up my yarn and cast on during the previews. But it turned out not to be super-enjoyable in the dark, because the yarn was just thin and slippery enough that I made a couple of mistakes I couldn’t see to correct. So after a few rounds, I put it aside and just watched the movie.

I really meant to stop there. I was going to get back to my sweater when I got home. But then I got even more inspired when I discovered on Twitter that a bunch more of my friends are also knitting Pi Shawls (Glenna is cheerleader-in-chief). What’s more, both Ann and Kiki are both going to do theirs in handspun “Slumber,” like I am. What fun! I couldn’t help it. I just got swept up in the excitement of it all.

So between last night and this morning this happened:

Handspun Pi Shawl beginnings

Handspun Pi Shawl beginnings


Plotting for a handspun handknit shawl

I say “plotting” but I really mean “obsessing.”

I am finishing up my current spin (I’m about halfway done with the plying, which I think I’ll finish tonight), but after that, this is going on the wheel:



That is 4 ounces of Merino/Silk in the colorway “Lost,” from FLUFF (which, sadly, no longer exists – but, happily for me, I still have quite a bit in my stash). I have hung onto this fiber for almost four years now, not sure exactly what it would grow up to be. Sometimes I spin fiber just because I love it, and I decide later how I will use it. Other times, I wait until I have a sense of what I want to knit the fiber into, so that I know how I want to spin it. That is the case with this.

Earlier this week, Kirsten Kapur released a new shawl design, Saranac. I am totally obsessed with this pattern, y’all! Crescent-shaped is currently my favorite shawl shape, and the design of this one is so fun. I love the border and the inventive way it’s designed. I immediately imagined knitting it in some sort of blue or blue-green handspun, something with silk in it, to wear on vacation this summer. I went stash-diving and was thrilled to find this fiber.



I think it’s going to be perfect! The pattern calls for 550yds of fingering weight, which will be a challenge for me to get out of 4 ounces. I could do it if I just spin the fiber as singles, but I was really wanting to do this spin as a 2-ply. We’ll see how it goes.

Would anyone be interested in spinning along with me for this project? I’ve started a thread on Ravelry in the Through the Loops group, for anyone who might want to spin for this. I’m super-excited about both the spin and the knit.


Of course I can’t cast on for anything until I finish Little Buddha’s sweater. He is policing my every crafting effort at this point, so I’m sure I’ll finish soon, right?

Aranami :: when process and product align

I am probably a little bit more of a “process knitter” than a “product knitter,” which is to say that the process of knitting is a little more important to me than the outcome. It’s not that I don’t like finishing something or enjoy wearing a handknit or want my handknits to turn out well, it’s just that the enjoyment of actually knitting is usually greater than the joy of actually owning whatever it is I’ve made. That’s why sometimes, no matter how much I might like the looks of a finished object, I would never knit it because I know from looking at it that it wouldn’t be enjoyable. And it’s why sometimes I might knit something for the sheer joy of knitting it, even if it isn’t something I’m going to get a lot of use out of.

For a long time, shawls fell into the latter category – I loved knitting them but rarely wore them. Of course most shawls aren’t like a pair of mittens – you just don’t have an occasion every day to wear them. Or at least I don’t. But I adore making them – they don’t come with all the anxiety over fit, they aren’t so big that you get bored before you’re done (okay, well, sometimes that does happen – but not as much as it happens for me with, say, blankets), and they are a great canvas for playing with color, texture, and/or lace.

This shawl, Olgajazzy’s Aranami pattern, was an absolute thrill to knit. It is one of the most inventive designs out there, yielding a knit that is almost zenlike in its balance between simplicity and complexity. The actual knitting is so simple and meditative, but the construction and the color changes keep the knitter so engaged and entranced. It was as close to perfect, process-wise, as I’ve found.
knitted :: Sunset Aranami
I selected colors (in Brooklyn Tweed LOFT) to look like a sunset, and it was such a delight to build each color on top of the last one.
in progress :: Sunset Aranami
I worked on it at the beach (this was summer 2012), where some of my favorite sunsets happen.
knitted :: Sunset Aranami

Those colors!

I knew I would enjoy knitting this one. What I didn’t expect was that I would also get so much pleasure out of actually wearing it. Two years after making it, this knit still sees a lot of action. I especially love wearing it with bright blue.
knitted :: Sunset Aranami
I don’t typically wear it as a wrap-type shawl (above). I usually wear it more like a scarf (like in the top picture). The yarn is deliciously wooly and slightly rustic. The colors are total perfection. And the design itself is a complete winner.


If you haven’t made an Aranami, I would highly, highly, recommend it.

And what about you? Would you consider yourself more process knitter or more product knitter?

handknit in situ :: purple on purple (Germinate)


I don’t have anything to show you tonight except what I wore today – my Germinate (Through the Loops Mystery Shawl 2013) made its debut. I think this shawl will look good with gold, with grey, with brown. But today, I loved wearing it on purple.

I really enjoyed knitting this in June, and I am LOVING wearing it now.


knitted :: Germinate (Through the Loops Mystery Shawl Knit-along 2013)

“Truth is the strong compost in which beauty may sometimes germinate.”  – Christopher Morley

Truth #1 – I love Through the Loops Designs. To wit:

TTL knits
That’s 21 TTL designs right there, and I left out a couple of hibernating knits. Kirsten’s designs are beautiful, her patterns are easy to follow and enjoyable to knit, and the finished product is imminently wearable.

Truth #2 – I love The Plucky Knitter yarn.
ready :: yarn for TTL Mystery Shawl KAL

Sarah’s colors are gorgeous, rich, and luscious, and I love her yarn bases. (Also, her customer service is exceptional!)

Truth #3 – I love knitting shawls, apparently. I also really love purple and gold together, it turns out.

Truth #4 – I love a good mystery.

Truth #5 – I have amazing and generous friends, who give me yarn, just because. 

If truth is the strong compost in which beauty may sometimes germinate, then I have good soil indeed.
knitted :: Germinate (2013 TTL Mystery Shawl)
This is my finished Through the Loops Mystery Shawl 2013. The pattern has since been named Germinate, and as you can see, it has a gorgeous leaf theme to the lace.

knitted :: Germinate (2013 TTL Mystery Shawl)
Casting on at the beginning of June, and finishing up four weeks later, I adored knitting this. As usual, Kirsten’s pattern was clear and easy to follow (with both written and charted directions for the lace). As usual, Sarah’s yarn was perfection. The mystery component of this knit – four clues over four weeks – made it so manageable and so much fun. It’s always exciting to receive the next clue, and to see how other people’s shawls are progressing as well.

knitted :: Germinate (2013 TTL Mystery Shawl)
Watching the stripes and the lace play out together was magical, and it was also super-fun to see the color combinations other people chose. Everyone’s shawl looked so different, all based on color choices.

I do seem to have a thing these days for purple and gold together. It definitely puts me in an autumn frame of mind.
knitted :: Germinate (2013 TTL Mystery Shawl)

I went through hilarious shenanigans trying to get this blocked and photographed in early July. It was so humid in Georgia, where I had taken it for its photo shoot (what? do you not travel several hundred miles to photograph your handknits in beautiful settings? yeah, me neither. I was down there for a class and brought the shawl along). First, the shawl wouldn’t dry because of the humidity (even after two days on my parents’ screened-in porch, it was still quite wet). Then I pulled it outside, spent several minutes in the blazing sun pinning it back out again. It only took about twenty minutes to completely dry with the sun directly on it – and then a thunderstorm sprang up suddenly and soaked it. Fun times! I think it rained at least a little – and sometimes quite a lot – every day I was in Georgia; it was actually still drizzling while I modeled the shawl for these pictures (hello, frizz!).

But I digress. The point is this. I loved this pattern, I love this yarn, and I am so happy with how this fall shawl turned out.