Crafts for Service Members and Veterans

As my family and friends are still reeling from this week’s election, I’ve noticed fewer Veterans Day posts than ever before. I don’t want our vets and service members to think we’ve forgotten them in these uncertain and upsetting times, so I have been researching ways to help veterans. While on that search, I came across Operation Gratitude, which seems like a great organization that, among other things, sends care packages to those currently serving and sends letters of gratitude and support to veterans, service members, and first responders.



In addition to the stack of letters I plan to write this weekend, I also learned they request knit or crocheted scarves and hats and hand-made paracord bracelets for care packages. What better way to channel my concern and love for this country and its beautiful people than by making something special for a service member?

I know this notion is not at all new for most knitters, as the wonderful charity knitting groups on Ravelry are packed with similar projects. But now I think I need to quit thinking it would be a nice thing to do someday and get to it. I will be channeling love and peace and hope into each stitch, which I sincerely hope will be well-received.

And if you are a veteran or a current service member reading this, from the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU!!!

Some newer cast-ons

I have a lot of catching up to do. Let’s start with three new cast-ons from the end of the summer / early fall.



The first is a lacy cotton-modal blend cardigan, which I am trying to work completely seamlessly using this lovely Knit Picks Shine in Crocus, a fuchsia color that still reminds me a bit of phenolphthalein. This yarn had been committed to a classic Erika Knight Deep V-neck sweater for oh, nine years (have I really been knitting so long??) but I ultimately decided I just didn’t want to deal with the seaming. I also felt like the fabric of the sweater was too drapey and would make for a clingier fit than I wanted for a long sleeve pullover.



I’m delighted with the lace pattern and fabric being created, and I think it uses the airiness and drape of the yarn better for something I can wear over dresses and blouses in the spring, fall, and cooler days of summer.

Recently Interweave ran a great sale in their online shop, and I scooped up several digital editions of Knitscene that I’d been meaning to get for $3 each. I immediately cast on for the Byzantium Stole in a beautiful tan wool-silk blend that I can already see myself wearing with a green motorcycle jacket that I don’t wear often enough.



I love the clever geometry of this pattern and how it’s coming together in this yarn already.


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As I was knitting, admiring the Art Deco sort of pattern that was emerging, I kept thinking about this metallic silvery yarn that I had tried to turn into a shrug (with pretty disappointing results). What if I worked this scarf (let’s be real) on larger needles to make a bigger, wrap-like stole?



Of course as soon as I found the right sized needle, I cast on for that too, and I’m happy with the way it’s coming together. I don’t usually work the same pattern in two yarns / gauges at the same time, but they have such different feels that I think they will result in two unique pieces. Plus I enjoy the clever pattern so much I look forward to knitting it twice.



This yarn is still having some issues, which unfortunately seem to be part of how it’s made (I’ll discuss this more soon). It also keeps snagging on the join of the circular needle I’m using, which is maddening, but I guess it will save me the anxiety of when it inevitably catches on my earrings, zippers, or whatever other things always seem to reach out to grab my scarves while I’m wearing the finished stole.

So, much more soon! Maybe I’ll even photograph some of the sweaters I’ve finished lately.

FO: Foxtrot Featherweight Cardigan

Pattern: Featherweight Cardigan by Hannah Fetig, from Knitbot. My project page is here.
Size: 38.75″-ish
Yarn: Knit Picks Shadow Lace 2-ply laceweight, 100% Merino wool, in Foxtrot Heather, 24511; I used almost exactly 2 skeins, approximately 100 grams, 880 yards/ 804.7 meters.
Needles: Size 6 (4.00 mm)
Modifications: Used kf&b increases, worked 1×1 ribbing on the collar.

Started: July 31, 2015
Finished: September 16, 2015

I love the first Featherweight Cardigan that I made so much I knew I wanted another. I believed that by knitting a slightly smaller size, at a more open gauge, I would get basically the right size, but use only 2 skeins of laceweight yarn. I was flying blind and gambling on the yardage, but I’m delighted to find that I was right, and I’m quite pleased with how this one came out.

This type of sweater is exactly the reason I wanted to learn to knit in the first place. I am always looking for lightweight garments that can be worn over printed sundresses (my closet overflows with these) to cover my arms in the spring and summer. It is a combination of modesty and practicality: when I attend the opera, ballet, symphony, etc., the air conditioning inside is typically frigid, but it’s usually too warm outside to be comfortable in a jacket. I find that store-bought cover-ups or cropped cardigans tend to have critical flaws, such as too heavy a yarn, too busy a pattern, too frumpy a style, or sleeves that are really only a conceptual suggestion and don’t properly work the way I’d like as sleeves. I’m often left mystified about what to wear to complement all these pretty, colorful dresses that isn’t just another plain white or black cotton cardigan.

The open, fluttery gauge of this sweater kept the Merino yarn from being too warm even outdoors in the sunshine, but it was warm enough that I didn’t feel chilled indoors. I will admit that because the temperature on the day I took these photos was closer to 50° than 75° and it was unpredictably windy, I did bring a jacket and scarf, but I didn’t feel the need to wear either until the sun had set and I was walking home at night. A little cardigan that can comfortably span 20-30° or more is a real winner in my book.

I modified the pattern slightly by changing the collar and front to 1×1 ribbing, which I also did on my last Featherweight. Once I was happy with the length and the sleeves were complete, I basically knit for as much yarn as I had, and the length I ended at is spot-on. It is just long enough to cover the back of my neck if I am chilled, but because it is so lightweight, I found I could neatly fold it over like a shawl collar in the back as well. I had a much easier time picking up stitches for the neckline and managing the construction in general on this one, and I’m thrilled it looks tidy and clean overall.

I was so enthused upon the completion of this project last fall that I actually immediately cast on another, in pink, which I set aside once I got busy with an exciting new employment adventure (if you’re interested, you can read more about that here), and of course, winter knitting.

I really do need to get better about photographing my finished projects. I have a list of more than 30 things I’ve completed, and in some cases have been wearing for literally years, but it’s rare that I can get someone willing to take a photo. And it’s rarer still that what they take actually shows the knitting well or is flattering enough that I’d like to share it in public. So I’m going to play around with a tripod and a timer or a remote shutter release, to see if I can be a little more timely if I photograph finished projects on my own.

False start

This is how much sweater I knit…

… before I realized I was making the wrong size.

I had calculated the gauge years ago using a much thicker yarn. While this size technically fits, it doesn’t fit well, so I’ve started over. I’m certain I brought it on with the hubris in my last post.

As a silver lining, I am glad that it gives me the chance to fix a few flubs I’d made in the very beginning. Fourth time’s the charm?

Ready for this sweater

In any craft or creative pursuit, there comes an encouraging moment of, “Hey, wow, I’m getting pretty good at this!”

The Cable-Down Raglan is precipitating that moment for me now. I’ve tried knitting this sweater two other times when I wasn’t really ready. The first time I was still a fairly green knitter and couldn’t even make sense of the pattern. The second time I started it as a gift, but I flubbed the cables and realized I still wasn’t ready yet.

Not this time. Now I am ready, and hey, I’m getting pretty good at this. I’ve finished enough sweaters to understand the construction, I’ve followed enough charts and cabled enough things that I know how to do it correctly, and I’ve even worked with enough yarns to know this one is a really good fit for this project.

I’m excited to see how this one comes out.