Just Another Stop at an Antique Mall

My Messy Knitting Corner

I accompany my mother because my legs need a stretch and because I want to avoid stewing in my melodramatic resentment for a lifetime of these kinds of “quick” stops. It is useless to complain. The best option is to surrender to her insistence and try to enjoy what I can during our pause.

I can only assume my mother attached herself to some rusted pulley system somewhere at the back of the antique store. She is out of sight by the time my father and I stepped in the entryway. We avoid the pulley and meander around the front of the store. This way, we figure, when she finally emerges, we will be accessible. No double-dipping required.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy antique stores. I really do. In fact, there are very few items in my home of which I am the first owner. Faded colors, chipped paint, reclaimed style – they make a house a home. But when we’re an hour away from our destination that has kept us in a car for nine hours, where family we see once a year are waiting for us, I am not in the mood to rummage. Mom promised ten minutes. We brace ourselves for 30.

Vintage Knitting Books

Relegated to the front, I distract myself by fiddling with displays. Luckily my “find” requires no search; it is sitting on a magazine rack just left of the door. Its front cover features a rosy-cheeked model in a white and triangle speckled sweater, bright blue pants, and a hat topped with an oversized pom-pom. I chuckle and pick it up. Someone, somewhere handmade this off-kilter ensemble. They expended great effort and took meticulous care to create this look, and then published it, expecting others to follow suit (quite literally). It’s like that train wreck from which everyone imagines they wouldn’t be able to avert their eyes.

Inside the magazine are pictures of even sillier items: an asymmetrical, double-breasted cardigan on a ten-year old girl, a hippy-colored rainbow doily, and mouse slippers. But then are other items: items with charm, detail, whimsy, items that stir nostalgia, sentiment, inspiration. Items that I want to investigate, accessorize, and snuggle. In the back, there are pages upon pages of complex and beautiful swathes of yarn. They are shades of grey, but such beautiful texture and design. Included are directions to achieve the pictured effect. The possibilities go well beyond the dated style, they promised. There is beauty here.

Underneath this magazine were two others, even older and even tackier. I buy them all for no good reason: extra cash, boredom, the train wreck. Maybe they’d be interesting coffee table pieces.

In the car, I shuffle through the projects, attempt to translate the abbreviations and charts, and my intrigue grows. At this point, making a sweater with two sticks and a bundle of wool is about as plausible as crafting a table with a chisel and tree stump. I am only dreaming when I lean over to my sister-in-law and ask, “Wouldn’t it be awesome to knit something like this?” She tries to hide her amusement, “I mean, not exactly like this, but, you know, just to create things that someone might cherish?” She is nice and demonstrates the appropriate amount of enthusiasm, but I can tell she fears having to wear a triangle blotched sweater in our next family picture.

The books sat dormant on my coffee table for about a year. Guests picked them up. They were the subject of laughter, mostly, but also nostalgia for a time when such care and talent were apparent in our possessions, when the creators of one’s attire might just share dinner with you, might consult you on color, size, taste. Each of these conversations seduced my creativity, fueled my excitement.

It was a gift from my mother (yes, she did eventually make it out of the store) that was the final impetus for my hobby turned obsession. I must have expressed to her the interest the books had sparked because one weekend she went down to the basement to retrieve my grandmother’s needle set. The needles are not just inserted into a plastic sleeve like the ones you might find at a crafts store today. They are accompanied by a cylindrical case covered in a mid-century green fabric, with custom-sized holes on the top for each needle.

My Grandma’s Needle Case

It’s charm hit the pitch-perfect note. It was compatible with my books, compatible with the warmth and wistfulness that accompanies my antiquated aesthetic, and compatible with my increasing passion for the handmade.  Furthermore, it was a perfectly appropriate gift from my mother, who taught me to search for inspiration and beauty and to appreciate the treasures of past generations (a lesson I have absorbed despite my many objections).

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Houndstooth

My mother often comes home from a shopping spree, excited to show me and my sisters her newly acquired treasures.  We feign excitement, saying, “Oh, wow!  Another white shirt!  How interesting!”  She laughs, glares, and retorts, “Well, fine!  Don’t come to me when you need a cute white shirt!” She opens her closet of stark contrasts (white, black, and brown), and hangs the newcomer up next to its hundred twins. It’s a sarcastic celebration when she comes home with anything with hue.

One variation she does welcome is pattern, her favorite of which is houndstooth.  She has a houndstooth scarf, houndstooth shoes, a houndstooth purse, a houndstooth headband, and a nice houndstooth pillow on her bed. 

I crafted this pillowcase three years ago for Mother’s Day.  It was the first fair isle pattern that I attempted, and was really exciting to watch come together. 

About a year ago, my lovely mother asked for two smaller pillows to place on either side of the original.  And every time I go home, I regret that I haven’t fulfilled this request.  So I am making a goal: I will follow-up on this blog the week after Mother’s Day, and  I will share pictures of the cute little companions that I will finish by that date.

To complete this project, I followed the pattern in Classic Knits At Home, by my favorite, Erika Knight.

Socktopus

What has no backbone, a prominent head, and the ability to squirt ink?  That’s right!  A cephalopod!  This little guy is probably the most popular cephalopod: an octopus (socks=socktopus)!     

With just a few clicks of my mouse, I discovered that cephalopods are a bit of an underground obsession these days, being featured in tattoos, jewelry, t-shirts, tote bags, buttons, and, shall we say, some less tasteful items.  Made you google it!  Perhaps I should use the sea creatures in more of my knitting.  It seems it might actually make me cool.

The item in question – Socktopus – was created for my godson’s first birthday.  I would love to try my hand at him again, giving him buttons for eyes, some different sock variety, and a new smile.  Perhaps I will work on that soon and we can have a side-by-side look at the two.

I honestly don’t remember the yarn I used, but the pattern is by Laura Edwards is on Ravelry.com.

Every Boy a Dinosaur

My nephew has the uncanny ability to suddenly and dramatically transform from a sweet, innocuous child to a ferocious predator on the hunt.  Sometimes his animal of choice is the lion (Simba or Mufasa to be exact), but most of the time it is the T-Rex.

His love for dinosaurs extends beyond the games he creates as a prehistoric beast.   He knows nearly everything there is to know about each type of dinosaur, and he will correct you if you call a Stegosaurus a Brontosaurus.  He finishes your sentences as you read him his massive dinosaur book.

The imagination that flows from this knowledge astounds me.  He comes up with elaborate plots for the dinosaur family, (he’s the daddy, of course, and you’re the mommy, the baby, or the victim) and he stays in character for hours.

But sometimes it is nice to have a prop or two to go a long with your imaginations.  I created this spiky dinosaur hat especially for him.  It is nice during playtime and on cold winter days.

I designed this pattern and used Sugar ‘n Cream cotton.

What does the little one in your life pretend?

Flower Purse and Hair Ties

I know what you all are thinking:  “Gee, I wonder what Quinn made her niece (who she talks about way too much) for her fourth birthday?”

Well, I made her this cute little purse, of course.  Inside were three flower hair ties: pink, purple, and blue.

I used Yarn Bee’s First Love.  The color is “Kisses.”  The pattern is by Mareva Lynde, and I found it in Creative Knitting: Child’s Play, Spring 2011.

Pint-sized Inspirations

I visited my brother and sister-in-law (more accurately, my two precious nieces) in Texas last week.  It was a time for laughter, silliness, conversation, and Settlers of Catan.  I stayed up into the wee morning hours with the adults and sprung to life when Miss Adorable was ready to play.  I sacrificed my sleep because I have this hope that a well-spent visit will somehow fill the spaces where these children have expanded my heart, suspending my wishes to “keep them,” as I say, until our next visit. But this is not what happens.  They just expand those spaces further.  And I miss them immediately.

Go ahead and make fun of me.  I know that I’m a version of that stereotypical auntie who goes around squeezing cheeks.  My siblings’ children can do no wrong.  It is infallible truth that they are, in fact, the cutest humans on this planet.  I am that aunt,except I don’t pinch.  I knit.

Pictured: Purple scarf, KU hat, bunny, purse, pink leg warmers.
Not pictured: cupcake hat, flower hair ties, purple leg warmers.

Miss Adorable is the most frequent recipient of my “pinches” (her sister has only been around for four weeks, and her cousin is a boy who doesn’t quite have her same passion for accessories). So while I was visiting, I thought it would be fun to gather all the items I have given her.  We searched her room for every last item and had her put on as many of them that she could wear or hold.  The photo is charming, I’m certain you will conclude.   

Consequently, Miss Adorable thinks that I make everything.  On Friday her sister was wearing a KU cheerleading uniform that I bought for Miss Adorable when she was a baby.

ASIDE – The year that she wore the uniform was the same that KU won the NCAA Championship.  Here’s to hoping her sister brings the same luck upon our beloved Jayhawks.

Anyway, my brother told her that I gave it to her and now her sister gets to wear it.  She responded with a question: “Aunt Quinn, how did you make that?”

Tell me, who do you enjoy showering with gifts?

Lovely Imogen Cowl



Let me introduce you to the most labor-intensive project that I have undertaken.  The most labor-intensive, but one of the most rewarding.  It is this kind of pattern that makes me excited about knitting.  Who knew that such intricate design could be achieved with some string and a couple of pointy sticks?  The possibilities seem endless!

I was lucky that I my friend commissioned me to make this cowl.  I told a her to look on Ravelry.com to find a pattern she liked and this is the one she picked.  If I would have come across it any other way, I’m not sure I would have believed in my patience or endurance enough to start it.  But knowing that she hand-picked it out, and it wasn’t just me who wanted another scarf to add to my collection, gave me the motivation needed to attempt such a complicated project.

I had to unravel it four times before figuring out exactly how it worked (urgh!).  But once I got about six (correct) inches in, the pattern became clear and it became much easier.  I hardly had to unravel after that!  Yay!

I knit this with Naturally Caron, Aquatica and used US 5 needles.  The pattern is Imogen Cowl and was designed by Carrie Bostick Hoge.  You can buy it on Ravelry.com.

Here are the ways you can wear it:

P.S. To those who are wondering where the heck the pattern for the Spring Kerchief is, I am SO sorry!  I have had technical difficulties with my computer lately and will put it up ASAP!

Spring Kerchief

This little number serves no purpose other than to look cute (which is good enough for me).  It slightly warms the neck, but not enough to keep you warm in the winter or cause you discomfort in the spring.  I think it is my most frequently worn knit item because it jazzes up the ol’ jeans and tee combo that I like so much.  It’s a nice statement piece.

I have made several Spring Kerchiefs for friends.  They knit up really quick and you can use just about any yarn that you want.   It is an original design, but a very simple one.  I have no doubt that the same design is already somewhere out in the knitting world, as it is just a simple triangle with some yarn overs.  Visit Ktog again on Wednesday to download the pattern and view a quick tutorial on making this kerchief!

Ordered to Knit



Ta-dah!  My first post on this page!!  Here you will find my works-in-progress (of which there are always many).  Half-done knitted goodness hidden around every corner…

This project is special because it is my first order through this blog.  You might recognize it.  It’s the winter scarf, Deidre that I wrote about last week.  I am using Simply Soft Caron Yarn in navy, enjoying its downy softness all along the way.

Who will be the lucky owner of this scarf?  My friend at Life at The Mahoney’s! 

I will try to avoid showing repeat knits in the future, but I had to celebrate my first order with you all!  If you see anything that you would like, email me at ktogetherorders@gmail.com.  I am working on getting Paypal set up or connect this site to an Etsy to make transactions easier.   Prices are also on their way.

Quick Gift

One of my favorite things in life is giving handmade gifts to my loved ones.  But my commitment to making most gifts tends to present one of two dilemmas:  I finish early and can’t contain my excitement (hence treating the gift like a hot potato), or I completely space the date, freak out, and end up spending the entire twenty-four hours before the celebration creating something.

This coin purse/card holder is the product of one of those freak outs.  It is now one of my “go to” designs in these moments.  As it is obviously designed for a female, my next challenge will be to design its male counterpart.   

I knit this with a 4-ply yarn on straight needles.