When Knitting Takes Over Your Life // Closet Case Files
Knitting, Wardrobe Planning

WHEN KNITTING TAKES OVER YOUR LIFE

If you’ve been following me on instagram, you may have noticed there is a WHOLE lot of knitting spam happening lately. I’m not exactly sure how this happened, but when I scroll through  my feed these days, at least half of the snapshots from my daily life involve a cup of tea and some knitting needles (the puppy spam will start in a few weeks when Harry gets home, but until then, #allwoolallthetime).

I taught myself to knit back in the early aughts (thank you Bust magazine, thank you Stitch n’ Bitch). I even made myself a sweater in those halcyon days, and while I’ve knit something at least every year since, nine out of ten times it’s a simple and lazy project like a cowl or a Christmas present scarf. I’ve tried starting a couple of new sweater projects since I started blogging, but both are currently moldering in their project bags. The Brooklyn Tweed sweater from last year is the victim of scratchy, ugly wool I finally renounced this fall (RIP itchy charcoal snoozefest), and the lovely silk and merino project from the year before that is a huge billowy beast on 3.5mm needles that is simply too much stockinette at too small a scale.

But a change is in the air, and how! I’ve been on a knitting bender! If knitting was booze I’d be passed out in an alley with my pockets turned inside out. I’d smell like rum with trembling hands and bloodshot eyes. As it is, I’m just more annoying at parties (everyone loves someone sitting and knitting instead of mingling!) and less prone to cuddling because it means more dropped stitches (men just love being supplanted by in-progress sweaters).

I think all of this started in October at Camp Workroom Social. Every night after dinner a big gang of buddies would sit in a circle and knit and it just looked so… nice. Also being surrounded by crafty women wearing  beautiful hand-knitted things for days straight tends to get the ball rolling, so when I got home I started researching projects.

I wanted to make a sweater that would knit up fast so I’d actually finish the damn thing. I settled on the Cross Country Coat from Wool and the Gang, aka the chunkiest chunk ever (15mm needles!!!) and knit the majority of it over a weekend in Vermont. This was an amazing project because it let me feel that sweet, sweet satisfaction of progress and completion after so much start and stopping.

Wool & the Gang Cross Country Coat // Closet Case Files

I finished this sweater in December with a little drama, but I’ll leave that story for when I post pictures of it. All I will say about it is cough*swatch test*cough.

Continuing on my chunk spree, I followed up the Cross Country Coat with the James Jacket, also by Wool and the Gang. I juuust finished seaming it and will try and take photos of it soon. It’s a very cool “fashion” piece but I think it will be nightmare to wear under my parka. Sweaty city!

Wool and the Gang James Jacket // Closet Case Files

After those two, huge, bulky projects, I was kind of over super chunky wool. I was also feeling super ambitious and knitting-ninja-like since I managed to finish two sweaters in under two months.

Enter socks.

I have two people to blame for my current sock addiction: Jen Beeman and her sock porn on Instagram, and my good friend Michelle, who taught me the way and light of toe down magic loop sock knitting. I was terrified of socks for such a long time because I thought I hated tiny needles and also HEELS. But guess what? I took a little of my own Just Make It Already advice and trust me, the water is fine.

Knitting socks in Madeline Tosh Twist Denim // Closet Case Files

Michelle suggested I pick up some Addi Sock Rocket needles and treat myself to some lovely Madeline Tosh wool and it was pretty much love at first stitch. My knitting game was forever changed by the needles because those puppies are FAST. I’d always considered myself a slow knitter, but I was super impressed with how quickly the first sock knit up. I thought I preferred wood and bamboo because of my propensity to drop stitches, but I think I may be a chrome needle convert, so much so that I just invested in my first interchangeable needle set, this cubic/square shaped set from Knitter’s pride that I have read nothing but good things about. I loved working with this Madeline Tosh Twist (the colourway is Denim) and am planning several more pairs. The patterns I’m using are all from the book Socks from the Toe Up, which also introduced me to the absolute wonder that is Judy’s Magic Cast On Method. Of course the first sock is a little janky, with lots of dropped and later picked up stitches, and weird holes along the increases until I learned how to twist the stitch during “make one” time, but who cares! SOCKS! I’M MAKING SOCKS! FOR MY FEET!

I’m currently working on my second one while waiting on my first order of Brooklyn Tweed yarn to arrive. I’m going to tackle this cabled hat before  I start work on my Snoqualmie sweater; after a lot of amazing encouragement on Instagram I feel confident I’ll be able to do it, and even if I can’t or I struggle, I’ll learn and get better. That’s the whole point, right?

What I’ve learned through this whole process is that my knitting progress was being held back by a combination of poorly chosen yarn and pattern. A good, fast beginner project like some of the WATG patterns are great to get your feet wet and your confidence up before tackling more ambitious projects. And the honest truth is that after a full day working and making samples, the last thing on earth I often want to do is stay in the studio and keep sewing (the perils of making sewing your day job). I’m not sure if it’s just a phase or the time of year, but I’d much rather be curled up on the couch with the Bachelor ((#teamJubilee)) and a lap of yarn than just about anything else these days. Who’s with me?!

Tell me about your knitting journey! What are you making these days? TELL ME ALL YOUR KNITTING SECRETS.

  • Grace

    Knitted socks are just about the best thing ever! Glad you’re enjoying all the knitting goodness. I certainly don’t mind a little more yarn pron in my insta-feed

  • I’ve always been a crocheter, but have dabbled a bit in the knitting world over the years. I just picked it back seriously again, and I love it! The brioche stitch though is my nemesis. I’ve started a sleeveless turtleneck pattern using it at least 20 times, and every time I get to about 3″ in (exact same spot every time), and I drop a stitch and I can’t for the life of me pick it back. Someday, brioche, I’m coming for you, but just not yet!

    • BK just released a new turtleneck with a brioche pattern I think! I was tempted by it but now I’m scared haha

  • Yes! One of my first projects was a disastrous lace weight cardigan. I wish someone had talked some sense into me but mistakes like that are the best for learning.
    Down here in the Southern Hemisphere one of my weekly highlights is knitting x bachelor. Last night I even stooped to a bachelor recap podcast and it was excellent.

    • I don’t know if me and alce will ever be buds. Too small! At least with socks happen pretty fast!

      What praytell is this podcast? I would totes listen to that.

      • Channel 33, Bachelor Party. It’s pretty excellent. Enjoy!

  • Lindsey Kelly

    Save your huge boring knitting project! I like to have something on hand the I can just pick up and knit with out having to think/read a pattern. Sometimes it’s nice to have something calming to do with out having to worry about what you’re actually doing! Maybe you’ll fee that way too!

    • The grey sweater is so boring. I hate it. The big boring one may actually get unravelled so I can make it on my friend’s knitting machine! We just have to make a date to do it!

  • I’m with you! I’ve got a list of things I want to sew, but when work’s done and I get home, I can’t bring myself to get off the couch. However, with some yarn in front of me, I still get to feel productive. I’m working on an asymmetric wool sweater (can’t remember the pattern), and definitely need to make a hat (and maybe matching cowl?) before I go to ICELAND! Better get knitting, huh?

  • I’m knitting a Skiff hat at the moment! Only just got onto the cabled section but it’s going well so far. Hope you enjoy the cables, it’s one of my favourite knitting techniques – the effect:skill ratio is excellent, all non-knitters think you’re a genius for knitting cables!!! Also – toe-up sock = witchcraft. That STILL makes me squeal after years of knitting. Suddenly you have a tiny pocket out of nowhere!! Totally awesome.

    • I actually sqeualed when I did it the first time! Also I took a look at some cable patterns and was like, Oh I get this, so not rocket science!

      • OMG I squeal EVERY TIME I do a toe up sock. Will never wear off.

  • Jessica

    Rock on! My knitting skills are beyond my sewing skills, but my sewing game is catching up! I always keep some socks I’m working on because they travel well 🙂 And after making dozens of socks, I am still always amazed at how awesome it feels to make those beautiful magical heels! When you’re ready for colorwork (btw it’s the most addicting thing in knitting), here’s what’s on my needles right now: http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/happy-triangles – it’s got HAPPY in the name of the pattern, what’s not to love! 🙂

    • That sweater is so cute I want to die! That’s the kind of colorwork I could get into – nothing too crazy.

  • Robin

    I knit much more than I sew, mostly due to the portability of knitting. One thing I would echo to your experience with yarn choice, is to buy the best quality you can afford. I have invested some significant time in great patterns, but the sweater failed due to cheap yarn. Get the good stuff, life is too short for crappy yarn!
    .

  • Knitting was a wonderful thing when I was spending a lot of time sitting and pretending to watch my children in after school activities (mostly karate) but secretly losing my everlovin’ MIND. It’s kinda social, kinda not. I hated the ‘could you teach me how to knit?” requests, but learned just to hand over the yarn with a thousand markers on fortyfoot long Addi circs size 7s and say “Here, it’s easy!”. It almost never left my hands.
    Alas, repetitive stress injuries arrived for my right arm, and knitting had to end. I did two more dream projects: Catkin http://ravel.me/ErnieK/c1 and Wild Apple http://ravel.me/ErnieK/twayp. Now and then I do a beanie. The only regret is Madeline Tosh Mansfield Garden Party and Copper Penny. I love those colors and the whole family of yarns. I go pet them at the store. Maybe another cowl this winter.

    • Omg that colourworked sweater! You’re a woman of many talents. I am so sorry for your wrists… it must be sad to get the phantom knit urge and then have your body say “NOPE!”

  • Kat

    I love this. I’m slowly weaning myself into the world of knitting and I found knit kits to be a godsend (I went with We Are Knitters, but they seem quite similar to WATG). I can’t imagine having to decide on yarn and patterns on my own when I need to decipher code like K1 P1 K2tog for the first time. I after a few project kits I think I am about ready to venture out on my own a bit, but I just can’t replace the satisfying speed of sewing over knitting.

    • I think they complement each other. Knitting feels more cozy, wintery, when you have time to stay in and sink your teeth into a big project. It will never replace sewing for me, but it’s kinda nice to take a break too 😉

  • Go you getting your knitting groove on! When people feel comfortable I always try to convert them away from bamboo, it’s so “sticky” it slows everything down! My favorites are ChiaoGoo red lace metal needles, heaaaven. I like the joins better than Addis (okay the red cable doesn’t hurt either, and I like the slight stiffness for Magic Loop), but some people prefer Addis and I know people really like Knitter’s Pride too. 🙂 It can be challenging for me to balance knitting and sewing and not get stuck on a bender on one or the other, but it’s SO wonderful to be able to do both crafts. Vegging on the sofa and knitting is the best!

    • It totally is! Except G is like, uggh you won’t let me touch you and i’m like NO TOUCHING! I’LL DROP A STITCH! It’s been greeeat for our relationship! I love the feel of bamboo, but yeah, slow as m o l a s s e s.

  • Marie

    I’ve just caught the bug too! Tried several times and failed but took some yarn for a weekend away in October and finally cracked it. Just made my first pair of socks too http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/vanilla-latte-socks this pattern worked out great. Simple but enough going on to keep it interesting!

    • I like that sock pattern! Such a pretty heel….

  • omg, YES! I’ve knit on and off for ages, and the knitting bug usually hits me when it gets cold and snowy, but it’s skipped by the last two years. I just picked my needles back up this week and I’ve already amassed an absurd list of projects that MUST HAPPEN! I blame my cute little newborn niece for getting me started on baby cardis 😉 I heart my knitpicks needles, and I’ve recently embraced DPNs, which I managed to avoid for years, though know I’m not sure why.

    • I hate DPNs. Total Magic Loop convert over here! Highly suggest if you feel like trying out a new technique….

      • I did the two circular needle magic loop for ages, but suddenly this week tried DPNs and like them. weird!

  • I just started knitting so I am feeling your feels! It takes so much longer than sewing that I can get impatient waiting to “get good” enough to take on more interesting projects… I just wrote a blog post about slogging through a project to make a dishrag. But it’s helpful to practice and learn a new thing! I think I might follow your cue though and knit something out of ultra chunky yarn next, though. It’ll be good for my knitting morale to have a finished, wearable make!

    • It was so great for me and gave me enough knitting juice to stick it out for a bigger, more complicated (read: slower) project. s good as sewing feels, nothing beats wearing a sweater you fricking knitted!

  • Liz Green

    You should definitely try some lace knitting next, you don’t have to use teeny tihy yarn and needles, and it’s like magic when it’s blocked!

  • Donna

    Heather..I hope you know that once you wear those hand-knitted socks, you will never go back to wearing store bought socks again! You should sign up on Ravelry…it’s a knitting site – fyi, I’ve had to put my latest project down – a Stephen West shawl (go check him out!) because I’m making a pair of Ginger jeans for my daughter.
    Keep living the fiber arts world!!
    Donna

    • What an awesome mom you are DOona! I’m on Ravelry but need to get my projects set up….

  • Carol Trail

    I’m knitting my second pair of socks and I’m hooked. I watch youtube videos from Very Pink Knits and she shows step by step how to do everything. I am using her Two at a time toe up, german short row sock pattern. I love the two at a time magic loop because when I’m done, I’m done with both socks.

  • Jessica

    Yes!! Welcome to the joys of sock knitting. Most my knitting projects involve some degree of offroading, so I like to stick to 1 or 2 plain vanilla patterns. Everbody’s different though! I agree that yarn makes a huge difference for the finished product. I’ve made two slouchy-ish silhouetted sweaters this year and have gotten tons of comments on both: http://www.ravelry.com/projects/ayenforcraft/gale, http://www.ravelry.com/projects/ayenforcraft/milano. My favorite, really, is to strand a worsted heathered yarn with a silk/mohair blend and knit it on size 9 or 10 needles. The resulting yarn is beautiful and drapey and warm (without being stifling), and it just goes so fast. Also a fan of the two-circulars-looping method.

  • I’m so in love with knitting right now! I’m teaching myself to knit without looking so I can knit while I read, and it’s making me actually want to read again – I’ve been in school for a thousand years and reading hasn’t been enjoyable for a long time!

  • I teached myself to knit a couple of years ago, but crappy yarn and over ambitious projects made it really difficult to truly commit! Over the last year I started investing in quality yarn and that’s when I fell in love with knitting. I don’t know if it’s the weather, but my knitting mojo is high right now!

  • Woo! We’ve got you hooked! Bad yarn choices can really bring a knitter down, glad you have found your way. Enjoy the Brooklyn Tweed. It really is the stuff that knitters’ dreams are made of.

    Socks are so much fun! There really is nothing that makes you feel more accomplished as a knitter than turning your first heel. If you want a good challenge, check out Cookie A’s patterns. She has a lot of fun ones. One of my favorites to knit so far has been Pointelle.

  • Don’t really great needles and awesome wool make knitting so much better?

  • My favourite thing about knitting is that to the brain it’s like meditating!

  • floc

    Love the Skiff hat, I knitted up the long version in grey with a yellow pompom – http://www.ravelry.com/projects/floccule/skiff. Unfortunately my puppy loves wool too and chewed it up. Have you looked into the method for knitting two socks at the same time using two circular needles? Thanks so much for the link to cubics, never seen those before and may have to invest 🙂

  • Cocos Loft

    I’m with you…socks are fun! I have 6 unmatched socks now, as I work through different heels and yarns.

  • Tina (KnittingContessa)

    I’m late with the blog reading thing because well, knitting. And work. Stupid work. I loved reading (and have enjoyed your knitterly IG feed) your devotion and mania for knitting. It gave me that flush of feeling that you get when you remember your first love, the yarn that got you all hot and doe eyed. I need to finish a sweater, it’s on the last bit before joining and the button band so really why don’t I? I even have a new project (even swatched) waiting in the wings. This seems to be a new wrinkle, the procrastination when the end is near and I am more than ready to move on. Regardless, knit on! May your passion stay hot, your needles speedily knitting things that bring joy. Because really, that’s the name of the game! (KnittingContessa on IG)