The Rocky Coast Cardigan

Over the weekend we really started to see some scary high summer temps, so naturally I cast on a cardigan.

I’ve been an admirer of Alana Dakos (of Never Not Knitting) and Hannah Fettig (of Knitbot) for some time now. Basically anything Hannah Fettig has ever done, I want to knit. I’ve purchased patterns from both women, and one of my sisters is even getting a Hannah Fettig accessory from for Christmas.

The pair of them collaborated to bring us Coastal Knits. I’m actually having buyer’s remorse because I foolishly bought the Rocky Coast Cardigan pdf by itself rather than taking the time to really decide whether I wanted the whole book or not. Turns out I do.

Based on the comments and reviews on Ravelry, I decided to knit a size bigger than I actually require. I’d rather have it too big than too small. It’s a top-down sweater knit in one piece, meaning I won’t have to do any seaming at the sides. I started it on Saturday and after a few silly mistakes (read: not properly reading the instructions), I divided for the sleeves two nights ago and now it’s really cruising.

By now I’m sure my love of cables is totally obvious. I can tell this is going to turn out just beautifully. I love the ecru I chose (in Loyal 10ply). Matt was with me when I picked it out, and he agreed that it would look great on my coloring and be totally versatile.

I also blocked my sisters’ Christmas presents over the weekend. Now I just need to finish and block Mom’s gift. And also knit up everything for my upcoming craft fair appearance. Yikes!

When I finish Rocky Coast, I’m eager to get started on Alana’s new Sprig sweater design. She released the pattern early, and it will appear in her upcoming book. She’s generously allowed people to purchase it now, and then later get the book at the full price minus the cost of this pattern if they chose to buy it in advance. I’m definitely buying the whole book this time. Not making that mistake again!

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What to do when crafting gets you down

Picture this: You’re home after a long day, compounded with the fact that it’s been a long week and it’s not even Friday yet. You can’t wait to get in PJs and settle into some warm and fuzzy crafty goodness. Before long, nothing is working out the way you planned. You become frustrated, tired, and just plain over it. What do you do? You don’t want to waste this prime opportunity to be creative, but nothing is going right.

This was me last night my friends. I wanted to knit. In fact, I’d been longing to knit all day. I still need to pump out a few headband samples so I can get them on models and take photos. There is one design that I started the other day, but ended up ripping out when it proved a bit thin. Last night I started over using the same pattern, but on slightly larger needles. This left gaping holes where the cabling occurred, so I produced a heavy sigh and ripped out to start over.

Next I decided to take a break from that design and make something new. I have a few headbands floating around in my mind, but I have yet to actually sit down and work out a stitch count. I must have tried to work out about three different patterns to no avail. I was much too frustrated to take the time and work it out properly.

My fiancé could hear me getting frustrated with every dramatic ripping out of my projects. He prodded, asking what was wrong and if there was anything he could do. He was kind enough to spare me the logical suggestion of just setting down my work and taking a breather.

It was getting late, so eventually I had to rip out yet again and go bring the laundry in off the clothesline and cook dinner. I was feeling depressed, so I let him keep playing video games, rather than asking for help in the kitchen. Normally I love cooking together. It gives us a great chance to catch up on our days and it makes the process go faster when we’re really not in the mood to be stuck in the kitchen. But at that point, I just needed some time to myself to regroup.

After the quiches were safely in the oven, I came back into the living room to try one more option. This was the original design from the other day, with an extra cable. I thought these extra stitches on the original smaller needles would make it wide enough without creating gaps when stretched over a person’s head. So I did one (almost) final cast on and got to work.

Amazingly, the short pause was enough to keep me sane. Even when I had done a few rows of only 22 stitches when I needed 23, I had peace of mind, and dutifully ripped out and cast on again. This time it was project success!

I think that is what gets me down sometimes during frustrating knitting sessions. I don’t mind the ripping out and starting over, it’s the cast on that makes me insane. Especially a provisional cast on. I ended up needing to get out new provisional yarn after overworking my original crochet chain in the myriad other cast ons throughout the evening. (A provisional cast on knits into a crochet chain to create “live” stitches making it cleaner to graft the two ends together when a project is finished. It works great with headbands and infinity scarves or cowls.)

Now the headband is looking even better than I could have imagined. I still wish I could have finished it last night, but I’m glad that I took a break and got perspective rather than giving up completely.

So I say when crafting, writing or general creating has you banging your head against the wall, don’t give up. Just take a short break and come back with a clear mind. Last night I considered just giving up and watching TV or working on hexipuffs instead, but I knew I wanted to make progress on my headbands.

As a writer, I know I should be applying this same strategy. Lately I haven’t been in the mood to devote the necessary energy to my fiction writing. But I really just need to sit down and get to it, taking pause when I really need it, and coming back revitalized.

For all you creators out there, I would love to hear your stories of when you got stuck and how you dealt with it. With so little precious time for being creative amidst life’s many challenges and demands, how do you find peace and time for your activity of choice? How do you find your flow?