Wednesday, November 20, 2013

WIP Wednesday: Two Sweaters

School has been pretty hectic this semester and I am not getting nearly as much knitting done as I had hoped. I have been slowly knitting away at two sweaters. The first I've already talked about: my Walpole:

This sweater I knit purely when I'm on the bus or while watching a movie. It's repetitive stockinette is perfect for those situations. It is incredibly slow-moving, though, so I started another project so I would not get too bored.

This is the first sleeve of my Aidez cardigan which I've talked about the most on this blog. I've finally started knitting one of my very own and it is very gratifying to knit. It is also going much more quickly than the Walpole.

Do you have and WIPs?

Friday, October 18, 2013

FO Friday: Cozy Scarf (also a free pattern!)

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was able to knit myself (and others) a few things while in Spain. One of my most favorite scarves while I was there was a dreamy silk/wool-blend cozy infinity. I didn't cheap out on the yarn this time as I really wanted to make this to not only stay warm during their unusually cool winter, but to remember my time in Granada.

This is a VERY simply scarf using only twisted rib and kitchener's stitch.

In case any of you out there wanted to make something like this, here are some simple instructions to get you started:

The scarf is twisted rib.

Size 10 (6mm) straight needles
Any bulky weight yarn of your choice. 300-400yds
(I recommend a soft, single-ply yarn. I chose a super-soft silk blend)

Cast on 35 stitches (or provisionally cast on 35 stitches - tutorial here)
Row 1: K1tbl, P1tbl
Row 2: P1tbl, K1tbl

(Don't know how to knit or purl through the back loop? Check out this video)

Repeat rows 1 and 2 until scarf measures 54 inches long.

Graft two ends together.

(If you provisionally cast on, use the 3-needle bind-off)

Happy Friday!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Back in Boston

I'm all moved back in for my final year of undergrad. I cannot believe how quickly these last three years have flown by. It's going to be a busy year and I'm already well aware of how little knitting and crafting time I have now. One thing I am very proud of: my tiny windowsill garden:

After a failed crop of green beans when I was 12, I never developed an interest in flowers/plants/growing things in general. This little windowsill, however, is making me so happy:

I did learn of some unfortunate news when I got back. Two of my go-to yarn stores in Boston had closed while I was away in Spain. A Good Yarn (the latter for me was more about the tiny dog that greeted you at the door than the yarn collection) and the Windsor Button both closed last year and now I am on a search for a yarn store in Boston. I'm looking to get some skeins of Cascade Ecological Wool to finally tackle the Aidez sweater. I hate the idea of all these LYS closing up, and I'd rather walk into a store than order on-line in certain cases.

My current work in progress is my Walpole. I'm am one to almost NEVER purchase a pattern or nice yarn (which is super cheap of me), but I've decided to step it up in the knitting world. If I'm going to spend a bunch of time knitting something, I want to love it and wear it. I also always love Hannah Fettig's patterns, so Walpole was an easy choice. I am using Berroco Ultra Alpaca.

It's slow going as it's fingering weight (even that is an understatement), but it's definitely a relaxing knit. I've started watching Lost (about five years too late) and it's perfect for knitting during a mini-marathon.

P.S. As you may have noticed, wiseknits has a new look. I have (hopefully for the last time) switched to free blogger hosting. As such, I have lost all email subscribers (again). If you'd like to continue receiving email alerts about new posts, please subscribe using the button at the top of the lefthand sidebar!! :)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Long Time, No Blog

Well..... it's been a while, hasn't it? This past winter/spring was one of the most exciting/fun/important learning experiences I've had, and that meant that the time I usually set aside for blogging was a bit harder to find. I did knit while I was in Spain, and I will take (proper) pictures of those projects once it stops being 90 degrees out and the thought of wearing a silk-wool blend infinity scarf doesn't make me want to pass out. But I saved the labels for the yarn AND wrote down the patterns I came up with so this fall expect an update/free patterns.

Here are some (unofficial) project photos for the hat and scarf I made for myself while abroad:

This one is in Rome at the Colosseum  where it was VERY windy and VERY rainy and my umbrella just couldn't take it anymore. The hat, however, at least kept my head warm.

And this one is in London in March (I was very adamant about taking the super-touristy telephone booth picture), which I think may have been the coldest I have ever felt (and a windy Boston in the winter is pretty cold). The scarf was my 'present to myself' scarf because I knit it in a kind of expensive but so soft silk blend. It's super cozy.

(I also managed to knit my host mom a scarf as a gift before I left)


Granada is a beautiful city. I was there for four months and lived with a host family. Living with them and sharing meals not only exponentially improved my Spanish but also really forced me to step out of my comfort zone. Over the past four months I got to visit Madrid, Morocco (specifically Chefchaouen, Assilah, and Tangiers), Rome, London, Paris, Lagos, Portugal and Barcelona. I also did some travelling in the immediate vincity of Granada. As typical study abroad students will say, it was one of the best experiences of my life. If any of you are reading this and have the opportunity to study abroad, I urge you to do it.

Coming home I've been looking for ways to take the souvenirs and photos from the last four months and turn them into something that I can look at or hang up or something. My first project was to use my map of Spain, cut it up, and paste it to canvases but I'll explain that in it's own post later. More recently, I forced myself to pick only one or two of my favorite photos from each place I visited or that meant something to me. I ended up with 16 so I went and bought 16 of those flat magnet frames and developed the photos. Once I get back to school, I plan on attaching them to the wall in a grid, that way I can look at all my favorite places at once.

I'd also like to share those photos here:


I took this photo on my walk back to my host family's apartment after class. One thing I loved about Granada is you had snow-capped mountains in one view, then palm trees in another.

This is the Alhambra and it is the main attraction to Granada. It's an old Muslim palace and is not only beautiful on the inside but it is surrounded by beautiful gardens. I took this from the Mirador which is a look-out point in the district of Granada knows as the Albaycín.

The closest beach was about a 40 minute bus ride away. My friends and I went a little bit further to a beach town called Almuñecar. This was my favorite beach that we found. I even travelled back there in the rain before I left so I could get a jar of black sand.

This is El Torcal which my study abroad program had us stop at on our way to Cadíz. Everyone kept talking about how they were 'dinosaur' rocks, which is basically true because they have been here since the dinosaurs. They are limestone and years of erosion have caused them to look this way.

This is the sunset in the beach city of Cadíz. It was one of the best sunsets I've seen.

To say I freaked out when I saw the Trevi fountain in Rome would be pretty accurate. One thing that happend to me multiple times is we would be kind of lost trying to find something, would turn a corner (and in this case hear the running water) and BOOM historical monument. We went at night (and by night I mean around 1AM) which meant we had plenty of room to make wishes. We went to the Spanish Steps during that time as well and basically were the only ones there.

This is in Chefchaouen, Morocco where all the buildings are painted blue to keep the bugs away. There were so many beautiful alleyways where you'd look down and it would be like a tunnel of blue.

This is the Cave of Hercules in Morocco.

I literally shed a few tears when I got to the Harry Potter Studio in Leavesden, just outside of London. This is the set of Diagon Alley.

Big Ben and Parliament were just as cool as thought they were going to be. I loved London and I hope to go back there soon.

The Eiffel Tower and the Trevi Fountain were the two big-time historical monuments that exceeded any expectations I had. It was absolutely beautiful. My friends and I bought wine, bread and cheese for dinner and sat for while just watching it. Something that was a surprise to me (and I probably should have known this) is that it sparkles every 10 minutes after 8PM.

Lagos, Portugal was a much-needed relaxing trip after so many let's-see-as-much-as-we-can trips. I spent most of my time napping on the beach.

The program I went to Lagos with took us to what was once considered the 'end of the world' in Cape Bojador to watch the sunset.

My friends and I often debated at which attractions it was worth it to pay to go inside. With the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, it was ABSOLUTELY necessary. I saw a lot of Cathedrals while in Europe, but the Sagrada Familia is something else entirely. It's not even finished yet but I just found myself looking up with my mouth hanging open. The stained glass makes it so colorful inside and the columns (matching the intent of Gaudi, the architect) look like trees.

This is on the plane as we flew out of Barcelona. Clouds!

It's been an adjustment being back home, but I was happy to see my family and friends again and I will be happy to return to Boston in about a month. In the meantime, I'll keep knitting. Keep an eye out for more craft tutorials, too!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

10 Reasons You Should Start Knitting

Being in a new country means meeting a lot of new people. I've been knitting since elementary school so at this point I think it's safe to say that it's a big part of my life, a part I like to tell new people that I meet about. A question I often get is: 'why do you like to knit?' and I thought I'd compile a little list here and hopefully convince all you non-knitters out there to ask your grandma, your friend, your neighbor, or that girl or guy who knits in class, to borrow a pair of knitting needles and get started.

10 Reasons You Should Start Knitting

1. It's relaxing

Studies have shown that knitting helps everyone relax: your grandma, to those in rehab, to inmates, so whether you're stressed about a final exam or a mortgage loan, knitting can do wonders for your mental health.

2. You look cool doing it

I have never been openly laughed at while knitting, so I can only assume I look cool when I knit. Knitting in public in the park or in the subway or on a plane is a great way to look impressive/whimsical/talented (everyone has to ability to knit, but not everyone wants to try - be proud of your skills!)

Sufjan Stevens knits:

So does Sarah Jessica Parker:

And, apparently, Russel Crowe:

And we can all just pretend that Ryan Gosling loves it:

Just kidding, we don't have to pretend anymore

3. You will be warm

Whether knitting something so big it acts like a blanket on your lap as you knit, or whipping up a quick one-day scarf or pair of mittens, you can be sure that you will be warmer than someone else who couldn't knit themselves a hat.

BIG blanket

gets me every time.

4. There is no greater pride than saying that you knit the thing you are wearing

'Oh, cool scarf! Where did you get it?"

"Oh, this? I knit it!"


= your daily interactions for the next 50 years

Make this easy circle scarf and get ready for that conversation!

5. There is a whole community of knitters out there to help you

Ravelry changed my life. The site is full of free patterns, patterns you can download, reviews about yarn, forums to help you when you get stuck, and friends to encourage you to finish that sweater at the bottom of your knitting basket. Just breezing through the 'Most favorited' project pictures is enough to inspire you to whip out those needles.

There are also knitting circles at your local yarn store or college campus :)

6. Yarn is soft (most of the time)

If you've ever gone to a yarn store with a knitter, you'll notice that they basically grope every skein of yarn in sight. That's because yarn is soft: you can get silk, cashmere, wool, soft acryllic, bamboo, and many others. There are certain yarns that when you knit with it, it's like getting to cuddle a cloud (if clouds were as soft/solid as they looked).

Yes, this bunny's fur can be yarn, too.

7. It's a good way to kill time

On the plane, on the bus, in front of the tv, at the park, in a tree (really anywhere you could be asked to eat green eggs and ham) is appropriate to knit. Instead of mindlessly eating that bowl of cheetos during a movie, why not knit a quick scarf? Instead of staring at that creepy person across from you on the subway, why not add a few more inches to your hat brim?

8. It's a conversation starter

While you're knitting in some of those public spaces (such as the subway) there's a good chance someone will ask you:

a. what are you doing? (knitting a beard)


b. what are you making? (a knit beard)

It's a great way to meet people, make friends, or just have someone to chat with for a while.

(...often crochet is best/easiest for knitted facial hair)

9. You will give the best gifts

I will only knit Christmas gifts every other year because of the time it takes, but people will begin to love (and eagerly request) knitted items from you once they see the things you make. It requires a lot of time, a lot of effort, and a lot of love so of course a hand-knitted item is the best gift ever.

Knits are also great gifts for penguins after an oil spill:

10. Possibilities are endless



Okay, convinced? Here are some resources to get you started:

How to Knit
1. Getting Started
2. Knitting Videos

Simple Projects:
1. Reading Knitting Patterns
2. 25 Beginner Projects

Any other reasons to knit? Let me know in the comments below.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

¡hola! - wiseknits en Granada, España

About two and a half weeks ago I arrived in Spain to begin my semester abroad. Spain so far has been absolutely beautiful! We spent the first few days in Madrid, visited El Escorial and Toledo, and then finally made our way to Granada where I will be studying for the next three and a half months.

El Palacio Real in Madrid

(aka 'Holy Toledo!)

Toledo, Spain

Toledo was an amazing Medieval city surrounded on three sides by a river. Everything was just pulsing with history and I couldn't believe how old some of the building are.

This is the view from El Albaicín overlooking the Alhambra and the Sierra Nevadas in Granada. I have never, ever seen a view like this before. I am so lucky to have some more time to explore this beautiful city.

Of course, I had to scope out some yarn stores in my area. I've only had the chance to go to one so far ('Home Suit Home'). I'm not sure if I totally understand the play-on-words that's going on, but I was very impressed with their prices and got some yarn to make both my roommate and my host mother a scarf. :)

Monday, February 4, 2013

Free Pattern: Mint Circle Scarf

I don't know how the rest of you feel about the color mint, but I for one am in love. As a result, I could not resist knitting this super soft, super cozy circle scarf before I left for Spain.

I gifted it to my sister before I left for Spain (and have definitely been enjoying the 50+ degrees weather here). Before I left, though, I spent about a week wearing it every day.

Mint is a free circle scarf pattern that is quick, easy, soft, and highly customizable. If it looks too long or too short, subtract or add ten stitches. Knit until it's the perfect height for you. The more you knit, the cozier the scarf!

Purchase an ad-free PDF version of this pattern in my Etsy shop here!

Pattern: Mint Circle Scarf
Yarn: 2 skeins Bernat Softee Baby Solids
Needles: US size 10 16" circular
Gauge: 3.5 stitches/1"

*yarn held double throughout*

CO 90 stitches
Row 1: K every stitch
Row 2: P every stitch

Repeat rows 1 and 2 until scarf measures 14 inches from beginning.

Please, please, please comment or email with any questions and I will sure to get back to you as quick as I can! :)