The Sweatshop of Love Blog

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What Up, 2010?!

Because my birthday is on New Years Eve (today, y’all!), I put a lot of pressure on establishing goals for myself based on both starting the next year of my life and starting the next calendar year. It is so easy for me to keep track of my goals this way that I can’t even imagine having any other birthday. Plus, even if New Years Eve is on a Thursday, there is still a ridiculously huge party on every street corner all over the world.

Partying Like It's 1999

When the clock struck 2000 I was turning 16. I had a sleep over with all my friends in my basement. I spent hours cutting my own confetti. We had hats and noise makers and fake champagne.


I remember only one 16 year old Allyson goal, and that was to get out of Allendale. Two years after this party I was off to college and away from home forever. Mission accomplished.

So here I am, 10 years later, acne free and 50 pounds thinner, thank you very much. It is almost 2010, and I’m turning 26. I wonder what 16 year old Allyson thought she would be doing at 26. I’m pretty sure she would be pumped about the way things turned out. Soon to be 26 year old Allyson is far away from a basement in Allendale, MI. 16 year old Allyson didn’t even know how to knit.

Hopefully on the brink of 2020 I’m not looking back on pictures to be taken tonight, my 26th birthday, with the same cringe I’m feeling looking at these!

In 2010 I want to learn to spin. I want to get a pattern I write published somewhere other than on this blog (No disrespect, blog. You know I love you.) I want to not need a part time job to support me, but be able to survive off The Sweatshop alone. That last one might be a lofty goal. But that is the point, right? We look on a new year as a clean slate. 2010, my 26th year, could hold anything.

And based on what I’ve accomplished since 2000, we are on a fast train to seriously awesome. So hey, 2010. I’m excited to meet you!

Cat Distruction and a Blogger Award

I had to leave Pudge Rodriguez and Velma in Chicago while I went to Michigan for Christmas because they are both spoiled and hate other people/animals. Especially Velma. I left the house in tip top shape.

Yarn and Puke

More Yarn and Puke

Six days later, not so much.

My apartment has five rooms. Four of them were covered in yarn and three of them had puke in them.

Three balls of yarn got it bad, and one rug.

I love them but they are menaces. I blame Pudge for the yarn and Velma for the puke. They were both looking seriously guilty for hours after I got home and Velma avoided me for the rest of the day.

New Pillows!

My mom made me these pillows for Christmas! She knit them with strips of fleece, then used them to cover pillow forms. And, looking at my futon, she made almost everything on it! That quilt, the other pillows behind the new ones. Everything but the knitted shawl over the back. That was my first knitting project!

Which brings me to my random facts! Anne at fANNEtastic food gave me the Beautiful Blogger Award! How sweet is that? It is funny when you are reading someone’s blog and then come across yourself. I recently found Anne’s food blog and have been really enjoying it. She is fun and genuine and a really engaging writer. Thanks, Anne!

So the deal is I’ve got to share 7 random facts about myself, then choose 7 people to pass it on to.

1. My first knitting project was that gigantic shawl on the back of my futon. I learned to knit when I was a senior in high school, and my knitting teacher found the pattern and just told me to go for it. The pattern ran out but I just kept going, figuring it out along the way. It’s too big to wear, but makes an amazing blanket! It taught me to never worry about trying to do something you don’t know how to do, in knitting and in life. Try it, figure it out, make it happen.

2. I was bitten by a dog when I was little. I’ve got a big scar on the left side of my forehead and my hair doesn’t grow very well on that side, so I’ve got to have a right side part to cover it up so I don’t look like I’m bald, or scare small children. I call it my Harry Potter scar. I’ve got cuts around my nose from it, too, but they kind of look like freckles, so they are actually just enhancing the cute.

3. But I still love dogs! I get super irritated when people go on and on about how they got bit by a dog when they were little, so they are scared of them. Buck up, dude. You can’t live your life scared.

4. I really, really, really, really love baseball and football. I joke around about it on the blog and in person, but in a list of people/things that I love, baseball and football would be in the top ten. I read about it excessively, I get depressed and happy depending on how my team is doing. I even cry about it. It’s sick. I love it and it never loves me back. I hate it, but I love love love it.

5. I used to be an ugo fatty. I was a dessert vegetarian for years before I got it together. I stopped eating red meat when I was in 5th grade, and replaced protein with sugar. I weighed 180 pounds at 5′ 6″. I made up for it by being funny. When I was 21 I started taking care of myself, working out and eating better, lost 50 pounds, and now I’m a hottie. I’m still not used to it. Sometimes I look at myself in the mirror and don’t even recognize myself.

6. I don’t do fancy. I’d much rather buy fancy ingredients and make a meal at home than go out to a fancy restaurant. I gauge the worth of food in terms of burrito prices – if I’m spending $20 dollars on a meal I better want that meal more than I would want 6 burritos. And can you really want anything more than you would want 6 burritos?

7. And I don’t like jewelry. I never got my ears pierced. I wear bracelets sometimes but not really. I can’t remember the last time I put on a necklace. I always joke that if someone wants to propose to me they better bring me an engagement couch or put a down payment on an engagement house, because if you spend a million dollars on an engagement ring I’ll return it and buy myself a room full of engagement yarn.

And now for the people I’m choosing:

1. Noel and Joelle at The Owls are Not What They Seem, for having super style with a hit of crafty diy love.

2. Jeanna at I Didn’t Hit You, I Just High-Fived Your Face, for always being funny, no matter what crappy things might be going down.

3. PT at Acme Valley, who needs a little blogging motivation.

4. Sarah at Brainphreak, for her ability to just jump into things! Figuring out patterns herself and being a ridiculously fearless crafter.

5. Beth at El Dugan, for being an amazing and seriously funny writer.

6. Nick at NICK HAUS. EVERY post makes me happy.

7. Julie at Knitted Bliss, for always knitting the most beautiful and the most silly patterns out there.

So again, Anne, thanks so much for the blogger award! I hope y’all have as much fun with it as I did.

January Sweater Tease: Minimalist Cardigan

A Head Start

So I got a little head start on my Sweater a Month Challenge. A 13 day head start, to be exact. But I couldn’t help it! I was done with my holiday knitting, this yarn had been staring at me since October 27th. I’m not a very patient person to begin with! I couldn’t not start it.

Moss Stitch, Kinda

The Minimalist Cardigan, by Ruthie Nussbaum, is a hugely popular pattern on Ravelry. It was originally in the Fall 2007 issue of Interweave, and it is kind of hard to believe I’ve waited over 2 years to finally make this sweater happen.

Mods: Where do I start? The pattern calls for worsted weight, I used Knit Picks Gloss, fingering weight. When I saw this sweater the first time I thought it was a light weight little summer sweater, and I was kind of shocked to find out it wasn’t. And when I saw the Woodland Sage I knew I needed this sweater in this merino silk blended yarn.

The yarn gauged small, no surprise, but with the same size 7 needles the pattern called for it only sized about an inch off. I picked the 39 1/2 size. I wanted to knit a little more to make sure it wasn’t too loose, that it kept the integrity of the stitches, and it looks lovely. It’s a light weight sweater, right?

I hate lots of pieces so I cast on 191 for both sides and back. That single moss stitch would kill me so I modified it to a two stitch moss, with a K2P2 rib repeated for two rows then switched for two rows.

I’m so in love with the color of this sweater it is almost disgusting.

So Pretty!

Surprisingly I haven’t wanted to poke my own eyes out with these circular needles yet! I think because I’m loving how the stitch is looking, how the yarn is working, how the ribbing turned out, how the front panels are laying.

I’m like a love sick school girl for this sweater. If I keep up this knitting rate I’ll have it done before January even starts.

There is still time to get in on the Sweater a Month Challenge! Email me at to get on the mailing list! The first official Sweater a Month Challenge post will be January 4th.

The Verdict

Cute Boy

It seems like years ago when I started knitting PT’s Modified Cambridge Jacket. It kind of was! My first update about this sweater was on September 6th.

I just reread that post hoping to know what I was wearing while knitting it. Probably a tank and a skirt. I miss you, September.

By September 12th I had it cast on and the rewrite was on.

Because I only worked on it while PT was at work and if he went out and left me home it was another month before I had any real progress on the thing.

And another month after that, November 12th to be exact, before I was finished with the body and stupid sleeves, which I was terrified were going to be too long. I added buttons on December 9th, boxed it, and put it under the tree.

No Monkey Sleeves?

It fits! It fits and looks good. The sleeves aren’t ridiculously long, the buttons look good, the sides look seriously great. I’m some kind of boy sweater knitting genius!

Good for Napping

It is also functional! PT was very happy and kept kissing it throughout the day. Overkill? Yes. But I was surprisingly self conscious about this gift! If he didn’t like it, it would be a huge failure, December 23rd, and no present. And what does that say about me? I don’t know what kind of knitwear my own boyfriend would like? I look through Interweave Knits and name students who would love each sweater!

It was a lot of pressure. I can see validity in this sweater curse, for real. So if you are going to knit a sweater for any boy, knit one for PT, because he was the perfect hand knit sweater recipient.

Now I just have to wait for him to dump me.

A Holiday Knitting Season in Review

The Lot

Top Row, Left to Right:

1. Wine Cozy for PT’s Mom

2. Elephants for Grandma, three total

3. Three Pairs of Granny Square Slippers, one for Tara, Grandma, and Mom

4. Three Cabled Jar Covers for Rachel

Middle Row, Left to Right:

1. Crocheted Bib Necklace for Tara, my Sweatshop Secret Santa

2. Knitting Needle Knitting Bag for Mom

3. Lace Hand Warmers for Rachel

4. U of M Toilet Lid Cover for my brother Adam

Bottom Row, Left to Right:

1. Eric Man-Beanie for my brother Matthew

2. Glorified Necklace for Mom

3. Eric Man-Stocking Cap for Dad

Not Pictured:

1. Knitting Needle Knitting Bag for my friend Colleen, already gifted

2. PT’s Modified Cambridge Jacket, wrapped and under the tree

3. Two Slouchy Berets for Blog Giveaway Winners, in Green and Pink, shipped off

I don’t know whether to think that is a lot or a little. I have been knitting since September for the holidays. I did knit myself a sweater in there somewhere, too. And wrote a few patterns. And taught a lot of classes.

But with it all laid out there like that, it is weird to think I did all that in just over three months.

Just Pudge being Pudge

I wrapped it all up, no thanks to Pudge Rodriguez,  and most of it is ready for the trip up to Michigan.

I hope you got all your holiday knitting done in time! Is there something you will be giving half finished?