Social media, catching up, and knitting in quarantine

“It’s been a while since I updated my knitting blog,” I thought sheepishly, firing up a browser with a bit of trepidation… “It’s probably been like six months or more…”

Last post date August 21, 2018.

2018? 2018! Oh jeez, I’m sorry.

I did not mean to disappear when I set up my Knitting Instagram to share projects. It happened to fall at the same time as a whole bunch of personal turmoil (career stuff, illness, moving, starting a program to retrain for a new career etc. etc.) and until recently, I was spending the majority of my free time on a long train commute in and out of Manhattan, which is great for knitting but has not proven optimal for knit-blogging.

Knitting and knit-blogging are really two different animals, and I think there is great value in exploring projects and concepts more comprehensively. When I am searching for a tutorial or more information about a pattern, I pretty much never search Instagram or go through needle-in-a-haystack Ravelry searches; it’s more often 10-year-old blog posts that give the qualities of thought and reflection or specific, detailed information I want. On a personal level, I also feel there is tremendous joy in writing and reading about crafts and the places they hold in our lives. I don’t tend to go very in-depth on Instagram or interact as much as I mean to, so I would like all of that to change.

So what have I been up to?

Since my last post here I’ve:

  • knit 16 pairs of socks
  • designed, knit, and gifted (on time!) a cabled baby sweater for my cousin’s son
  • learned how to use my sewing machine (kind of) to sew a linen caftan that I dye-painted for a costumed art party (will miracles never cease?!)
  • packed up all my stash and in-process projects, save a handful, and put them into my storage locker while I’m living with family and going to school
  • knit three sweaters for myself
  • knit two yoga mat bags, one for each of my parents, which they absolutely love
  • knit my first colorwork mittens and socks
  • participated in the Fiberuary Challenge, posting on Instagram in response to prompts for every day of this past February
  • started knitting my first blanket (more on that below)
  • hand-sewed and embroidered three Mask Strap Ear Guards for my physical therapist father and two of his colleagues
  • started learning brioche

While I mull over the best way to catch up here (I will probably introduce a series of Flashback FO posts), I also want to talk about knitting in quarantine.

Prior to the covid-19 pandemic, I was already using knitting as a form of meditation, self-care, anxiety-release, and way to occupy my hands while I’m chatting, watching television, reading, or commuting. I always have at least one or two projects on the go (hence the large number of socks I’ve knit this year, as they are the most portable projects) and turn to them whenever I have a free moment. A lot of the knitters I follow on Instagram took on larger or more complicated projects for their “Quarantine Cast-Ons,” to make the most of their stay-at-home orders.

As I live with and know quite a number of high-risk individuals – and was just coming off two surgeries myself in late January – I took the infection risk from this pandemic very seriously. Like, I put a mask with an N-95 filter on my Christmas wish list and wore it every day in the city from when my classes resumed in early February onwards. As my brother and father are both essential healthcare workers, we have all been taking enormous precautions to stay safe and limit everyone’s risk of exposure, so I am happy to stay at home, adjust to my classes moving online, and knit through every worry.

One of my other Christmas gifts was the Hue Shift Afghan kit, a gorgeous blanket with a clever pattern that pairs each of ten colors in a rainbow spectrum with every other color in a plaid-like stripey grid gradient made with mitered squares.

I am absolutely enamored with the process and how neatly the squares fold in on themselves. It is also a whole lot of easy garter stitch, which is deeply soothing, meditative, and comforting when I am lacking the intellectual or emotional bandwidth to process anything else. I’ve found myself working on this blanket through countless Zoom lectures, conversations with my biomed tech brother reporting back from endless days setting up ventilators and all the equipment in northern New Jersey hospital systems, governor’s press briefings, fundraising specials, and all the distractions to take our minds off all the rest. (On that note, we just caught up on Killing Eve, and it is great fun).

Beyond all the practical and knitterly reasons why this is a great quarantine project, I am also touched by the idea of the rainbow as a promise of better things to come after hardship. As I knit my rainbow blanket, I keep imagining ways we can come together and make a better society, how we are unified in this moment and can use it to open our eyes to inequities, distorted and broken systems, and our inherently better natures. I am focusing this blanket in love, hope, and idealism, and I hope it will continue to carry that feeling for me whenever I use it after this time.

So, how have you been? What have you all been making?

Thinking nautical thoughts

Working for a jewelry company, I frequently encounter charming, beautiful things that I’d love to own and will probably never be able to afford.

Like this 1930s bracelet I came across last year that uses nautical flags to spell out “I LOVE YOU.” Lacking a spare $14,000 for this one, however many thousand a Cartier “DEAREST” would cost, or even the several hundred dollars that contemporary charm versions run, I had temporarily disregarded my vision of a nautical bracelet spelling out my name.

For a lark, I read The Official Preppy Handbook by Lisa Birnbach today. I was feeling a little homesick for the super preppy town where I grew up, and on a rainy Smarch day, I could all but taste salt water and feel the sun on my face while sailing.

One of the recurring references was to needlepoint belts and accessories, which I had all but forgotten from my childhood. There was also a cute quip about how the only acceptable “monogramming” of one’s car was perhaps to put small nautical flag decals of initials under the driver’s side door handle.

It all came together in my mind. Nautical flags totally lend themselves to grids! I charted out my full name and more commonly used nickname.



(Definitely prefer the way “Victoria” looks.)

And then I remembered the symmetry of my first, middle, and last names, with 8, 4, and 8 characters respectively. I compiled a 20-flag grid and voilĂ , an afghan pattern has all but written itself:

I thought surely someone would have already written a nautical flag afghan pattern, but a quick trip through Ravelry only brought up a crochet pattern. I am confident that with some graph paper and/or knitPro, I can come up with what I want and make myself a super-preppy afghan.

As for the bracelet, I have a few ideas I want to try, maybe including an entirely new craft. I’m psyched.

FO – iPod Sock

For such a simple project, this iPod sock has been one of the most satisfying lately.

Pattern: iPod Sock by Jillian Neary (free PDF available here), my project is here on Ravelry
Size: one size, approximately 2″x4.5″
Yarn: Mondial Extrafine 8-ply DK weight*, color 804 Orange dye lot #57, 100% Extrafine Merino; I used 9 grams, totaling approximately 34.7 yards/31.8 meters.
Needles: size 1 (2.25mm) DPNs
Modifications: None

Started: August 29, 2009
Finished: August 29, 2009

* This yarn is listed as DK weight in Ravelry, but I found it to be straight up fingering weight.

I was charmed by such a wee tiny ball of yarn left over from my Bella Catena Italiana socks, and I’d hoped to be able to use it, as it is such a decadent, lovely merino.

When I recently upgraded to a Macbook Pro (looooooove), I got a free engraved iPod because I purchased it through my school’s Apple store. I could have gotten a Nano, but I opted for a classic because it had a 120 gig drive (versus the 8 gig Nano) and well, it matches my Mac so nicely.

The trouble is, within seconds of getting my shiny new iPod, my brother dragged it across the table and scratched the silver bottom. Grrrr. I knew it needed a cozy if it was going to survive many-hour trips through Manhattan and Brooklyn.

This pattern was straightforward, easy, fast, fun, and I adore the finished product. I’m so charmed by the crispness of the edge formed by the ribbing, and even though my Kitchener stitch was surprisingly sloppy, I sort of dug the sharp edge it made. The ribbing made it nice and stretchy for a snug, happy fit.

I used all but a few centimeters of the rest of this fantastic orange yarn, which was yet another of many points of satisfaction in this great project. Highly recommended for a rainy afternoon.

(On an administrative note, I suspect I’ve gotten some of the technical problems worked out, so I hope to have a lot more to share soon!)

A Knitted Gnome

When I was at my parents’ house this weekend, my mom had a little pile of yarns on a desk in my old bedroom. They included purple and green tweed, gray mohair, and tan wool.

I thought they were great looking, so I asked if I could have them. Having already given me all her needles a year ago, my mother said sure, that’s why she put the yarn in my room.

“There’s a pattern there, too,” she said, and I ran back upstairs to see this adorable leaflet from 1987, Instructions for Making a Knitted Gnome by Darian Dragge. Suddenly I remembered my mother making gnome dolls years ago, and in that instant I positively needed to knit a gnome myself.

The kit indicated “all natural materials” and included a cute story about gnomes with instructions to make a 10″ stuffed doll. It’s really straightforward and easy, and in no time at all, I’d whipped up gnome pants and the beginning of a gnome face.

My plan is to knit all the pieces, then weigh the green bits to determine if I have enough of the purple tweed to make an entirely purple gnome.

I’m pretty excited about this project, as I’ve never knit a doll or toy before and these gnomes are spectacularly cute. If this works out as well as I hope, I see several more gnomes in my future. Heee!