Handspun Starshower

IMG_5958Sometimes a pattern comes along at exactly the right time. Hilary Smith Callis published Starshower in February, right around the time I was finishing spinning up a batch of yarn that I quickly realized was perfect for it!

IMG_5526The yarn was spindle-spun from a gorgeous undyed 60% merino / 20% yak / 20% silk blend from A Verb for Keeping Warm - I picked up a bundle of it the last time I was in their store, and found myself completely unable to put it down. I ended up buying 4 oz, and spinning it into roughly 500 yards of a light fingering weight. Here’s one 2-oz hank:

IMG_5856Starshower and this yarn seemed like a match made in heaven — the nubbly texture of the cowl works with rather than against the texture of handspun yarn, and it has some drape and shine because of the yak and silk. I’m thrilled with the final product!

IMG_5954I’m a fan of this cowl-concept that Callis has been exploring lately, where they drape in the front like a shawl, but are joined in back like a cowl, so they stay put much better than shawls worn scarfwise like this. Here’s the back:

IMG_5966This also adds some different wear options, as you can see here:

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Lovely!

Gaea’s Wrap

IMG_5927Hello, and sorry for the long absence! Work got crazy for a couple of months there, but now I have the summer off and I can catch up on posting my backlog of projects! What you see here is a freeform wrap that I knit for my friend Gaea for her wedding in April. Gaea is very much a free spirit, and it came to me in a flash about a month before the wedding that (a) I ought to knit something for her, and (b) it ought to be something out of my brain and heart and intuition rather than something from a pattern. So I went to my stash and pulled out all the greens and blues, since those are the colors that come to mind when I think of her:

IMG_5857Not quite all of these made the cut — sorry, lime-green Fun Fur — but most of them ended up in there somewhere. I cast on an unholy number of stitches — north of 300, I’m pretty sure — and went to town. The wrap is mostly garter stitch, seed stitch, bird’s-eye lace, and shell stitch (or whatever that wavy drop-stitch thing is called — I don’t have my stitch dictionary in front of me). The result was a ginormous wrap that I loved to pieces and managed to remember to model before wrapping it up for gift-giving:

IMG_5941SO HUGE. SO AWESOME.

And here it is in another configuration with me looking a little drunk, which it’s entirely possible that I was:

IMG_5938That dress is the one I wore to the wedding, by the way. It was a fantastically freaky potluck Burning Man wedding at a park in San Francisco. So much fun!

Over the next few days / weeks I’ll fill you in on what else I’ve been knitting since February — stay tuned!

Deflect

IMG_5827I’m sorry — unlike knitting magazines, I can’t take my sock pictures on scenic outdoor rocks, so you’ll have to settle for my scenic indoor couch. I’d never let Pat go for a walk on the beach in his handknit socks, anyway! These are his Christmas socks, a little belatedly blogged. The pattern is Deflect by Hunter Hammersen, from Knitty’s Deep Fall 2013 issue. The yarn is Oink Pigments Sock in “Misplaced Marbles.” I got it at the Torrance Fiber Festival this year — I guess I never did a post about my haul, but it was quite small: just this, bought expressly for these socks, and a skein of gorgeous laceweight purple that you’ll see pretty soon when I make it into a spring lace project of some kind. I was on a mission to buy yarn for this pattern when I was there, and I bought this one because the color was good for ManSocks(TM), and because it felt and looked very similar to Dream in Color Everlasting Sock, which is what the pattern actually calls for. When I got it home and compared it to the skein of Everlasting Sock that I had at home, it was so identical that I think they might even actually be the same yarn base! Even the colorway was pretty similar, though I’d judged the skein I had as “too girly” — more on that later.

IMG_5826This yarn looks a little darker and bluer here than it actually is — in person it’s closer to photo #1, though that one’s a tiny bit washed out. I enjoyed knitting these socks, though I think I ran into a minor problem with the numbers on the heel in the large size. It’s been awhile, so I don’t remember the specifics, but it was just very clearly a mistake in the number of stitches that I should have ended up with or something. Easy to spot and ignore. I just love the way the cables are arranged in this sock! And the toe is gorgeous — I was a little skeptical as I was knitting it, since it seemed like the decreases were happening in unorthodox places, but it looked great when it was done and on the foot.

This is truly a unisex sock pattern, and since I had that skein of Everlasting Sock sitting around waiting for me to do something with it, I decided to make myself a pair also! I’m right about to start the toe on the first one here:

IMG_5842I suppose it’s a little hard to tell from this picture, but I judged this yarn to be “too girly” for Pat’s socks because of the green and purple. When I got his skein home, though, I felt pretty silly — the difference is quite minimal. Here they are side-by-side:

IMG_5846His looks a little more huge than it actually is/was because he’s been wearing his socks pretty frequently for the past month and a half so they’ve stretched out a bit, and you can see there’s some wear on the sole there. But the colors, they’re not so different. I’m pretending that I meant us to have matching socks all along…

To New Adventures

IMG_5815Some news: I taught myself to embroider over winter break! Also, Pat and I got engaged! We spent the holidays apart, with our respective families, and during that time I secretly taught myself to embroider and made this pillow here as a Christmas present for Pat. He proposed shortly before we exchanged gifts, but he says that if he hadn’t been planning to propose anyway, this pillow would probably have done the trick.

Even if you’re not particularly familiar with Daniel Johnston, you’ve probably seen this frog-guy before, perhaps on Kurt Cobain’s t-shirt, or in Austin, TX. All the images here are from his artwork, and the words are lyrics from his song “Sweetheart.” I bought the pattern for the images from Sublime Stitching, though the arrangement of elements & colors are my own choices. Here’s a close-up of the frog:

IMG_5816I used split stitch on him, and satin stitch on the mouth. He was the first element I embroidered; later on I discovered vine stitch, which I used on the clouds, and I like it better than split stitch because it’s neater.

I got the idea for this whole project from knitting Totoro in December. I’d done incidental embroidery before in my knitting, but never considered myself very good at it until that project, where it was crucial that I make Totoro’s face look awesome or the whole thing would end up looking creepy. I was pleased with how well I did, and realized that embroidery is not actually very difficult — it’s basically just tracing plus patience. I’d already discovered Sublime Stitching through their french knot tutorial I used for my Zeldaphant, and in poking around again when I was working on Totoro I found the Daniel Johnston patterns, and that made the light bulb go off in my head since Pat is a big fan. Furthermore, I had a substantial collection of embroidery floss leftover from my summer-camp friendship-bracelet-making days. That’s right: with the exception of the dark green for the frog, 100% of this embroidery floss dates from the late ’80s and early ’90s.

IMG_5818The clouds here were made using vine stitch, which I ended up liking the look of better than split stitch. The sun’s rays are backstitch, and the sun itself is of course satin stitch.

One of the choices it turns out you have to make when you’re embroidering from a pattern is how to transfer that pattern to your work. I decided to buy an embroidery transfer pen (which washes out with cold water), and use my parents’ windows as a crude lightbox to trace my printed-out images onto the pillow cover (which is also from Sublime Stitching, by the way). Another choice I considered was iron-transfer pencils, but I don’t think that they wash out, which was a dealbreaker for me — I didn’t want to count on myself to make zero mistakes while tracing, not to mention zero mistakes while embroidering to cover over the lines I drew.

IMG_5822The eyeball monster here was also made using split stitch. I didn’t start experimenting with vine stitch until I made the clouds.

I now realize that I didn’t even necessarily need to buy a pattern, because a person could theoretically trace anything onto fabric and embroider it. That’s how I made the lettering at the bottom — I just found a font on my computer that I liked the look of, and printed out and traced the words I wanted to embroider. Here’s a shot of the whole design laid out flat, where it’s a little easier to see everything than when it’s on the pillow:

IMG_5810Yay! I’m sorry I’ve been gone so long — I’ve been knitting, but I also recently started a new job that’s eating up tons of my time. I hope to catch you up on some of my knitting soon!

This little bit in the corner I drew freehand, which is cool because it’s recognizably in my handwriting:

IMG_5821 So here’s to new adventures!

A Magical Adventure For You

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I knit a Totoro for my friend Amanda’s birthday! He came out so perfect and wonderful that I had serious trouble letting him out of my house. The pattern is a little complicated to obtain: the Ravelry listing is for a Norwegian pattern. One is directed to contact Ravelry user “edingburg11″ for the English translation, but this is a typo; in fact the user who has translated it is edinburg11. She’s very gracious and relatively speedy about emailing you the pattern once you get in touch with her, but it might take her a day or two to get back to you, so make sure to get in touch with her in advance if you’re knitting Totoro on a deadline!

The pattern is pretty well-done and easy to use, though I used the disappearing loop cast-on for the belly since I thought that looked a lot neater than what the pattern suggested. I’m particularly pleased with the way the face came out — I crocheted tiny flat circles for the eyes, and then used french knots for the pupils, and the rest of the face embroidery worked out pretty well.

still haven’t taken pictures of my Morticia shawl, but I swear those are coming soon, as well as pictures of my current in-progress sweater! Till next time!

Cusp

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Lisa and I started knitting these socks together back in March, when I was in the mood for bright emerald green because of St. Patrick’s Day — but the colorway is actually called “Christmas Green,” so I guess it’s fitting that I finally got around to finishing them in the holiday season. The yarn is Cascade Heritage, which retails at about $11 for a 400+ yard skein and is an excellent sock yarn for the price, soft and stretchy, with a wide color palette of true solids good for showing off lacework. It was also the yarn called for by the pattern, and since the price was so right I figured I’d go for it.

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The pattern is Cusp by Cookie A. Lisa and I selected it since we both have copies of Knit.Sock.Love. that we wanted to get our money’s worth from. I don’t know about you, but I definitely have some pattern books that I’ve knit literally nothing from — I buy them when they have stuff I’m interested in, and/or when I want to support a particular designer’s work, but when you have an 800-item Ravelry queue like I do, it can take awhile to get around to everything!

This pattern isn’t especially difficult, but like a lot of Cookie’s more architectural designs there are a lot of things to keep track of at once, and there are a few transitional moments where things can potentially get a little confusing. Lisa had to start over once, and I had to do significant ripping on the second sock when I forgot to stop decreasing for the gusset and the foot got stupidly narrow. But Knit.Sock.Love. is full of genius diagrams to help you understand the construction of the sock and the way your various stitch patterns fit together, and the finished socks are quite lovely! I also think they’re faster to knit than an allover-patterned sock would be.

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I’ve fallen behind in my blogging again —  I did finish that mystery KAL I was working on, though not quite by the Halloween deadline, but my pile of essays to grade has kept me away from the blog. I have a bit of a grading respite between now and the end of the semester, so I’ll try to get in an FO post for that mystery shawl, as well as a process-post about what I’m working on these days! See you again soon.

Iron Maiden

IMG_5733Something about this piece really attracted comments from strangers when I was working on it. I brought it on my most recent trip to visit my family in New Jersey, which meant knitting on two planes and also in the park once with my parents, and every time I had it out in public somebody would come over and tell me how gorgeous it was! Some people commented on the pattern — the hypnotic stripes were easy to knit and are very visually pleasing. The pattern is Iron Maiden by Maiden Brooklyn, a designer I recently discovered with a lot of great shawl patterns.

IMG_5702Other people commented on the yarn, which is indeed lovely. It’s from Alisha Goes Around, an independent dyer who I believe is local to Texas — I picked up this yarn when Pat and I were living in Austin last summer. I don’t think she’s selling this particular yarn base anymore, though: this yarn is  called “75/25 Falkland + Nylon Fingering,” and it looks like Alisha is now going for much more poetic yarn names (and that she doesn’t sell this particular blend of fibers anymore). It’s very sturdy, but not at all scratchy — it would have been great for socks, but this lovely dark blue-purple color needed to be somewhere other than my feet.

IMG_5744This was a quick, easy knit — I never even got a chance to blog it when it was in progress. My only problem is with the bindoff — either I executed it incorrectly (very possible) or it’s not actually stretchy enough to allow for the edge to be pulled out into points like the sample is. I don’t have a problem with the smooth, non-pointy edging, but I sort of wish I’d ignored the instructions and just done my standard stretchy lace bindoff. (It’s the one from Laminaria, though I generally don’t double-strand it.) On the whole, though, I’m very happy with this!