Black Magic

fullsizeoutput_1d7c

Have I mentioned that I live in the Haunted Mansion? I basically do. My apartment building is seriously creepy; in addition to the gothic gate you see behind me in this photo, it features stained glass windows and crumbling cherubs. I am not kidding.

Oh, you have questions about the scarf I’m wearing? You want to know how it could be possible that so much silky laceweight cable-iciousness could exist in one scarf? This piece is totally blowing your mind with its sumptuous structural complexity? You are reaching for your cross and your holy water because this is clearly black magic?

fullsizeoutput_1d7f

This, friends, is Ysolda Teague’s totally brilliant design, Banyan. I don’t understand how the knitting internet did not lose its collective mind when she published this a year and a half ago. It failed to come across my radar — maybe I accidentally unfollowed Ysolda’s blog somehow? — until I was looking for patterns for a lovely yarn I bought myself for my birthday earlier this year: West Yorkshire Spinners’ Exquisite Lace in the “Truffle” colorway. (It’s an 80/20 Falkland/silk mix and you need it in your life right now.) The instant I saw this pattern, I knew it was The One. Come, take a closer look:

IMG_5465

So, yes, the chart is a beast and a half. Some of the cable crosses in here pretty much require a Ph.D. to figure out (good thing I have one of those!). But good god is this thing gorgeous. And have I mentioned it’s reversible? Here’s a quick snap of the “wrong” side:

fullsizeoutput_1d84

It looks weirdly blue in the indoor lighting, but you can see that this side is gorgeous as well.  This was my main project this summer, and I couldn’t be happier with it. The West Yorkshire yarn has a 875-yd put-up, exactly that of the yarn in Ysolda’s pattern, but I was able to get a good 2 repeats more out of it than the pattern suggested (and the repeats are huge). I think I used needles a size smaller than Ysolda’s, which would have something to do with it. This isn’t the world’s greatest photo, but it lets you see the length of the whole piece:

fullsizeoutput_1d81

If you, like me, are a sucker for designs that combine lace and cables, you need to get on this!

Sweater Weather

fullsizeoutput_1d41

I was worried that it would be too hot to photograph this sweater this weekend, what with the record-breaking heat in California, but it rained yesterday (!!) and the heat wave passed sooner than predicted. Today it was in the mid-70s and overcast, which is what we in southern California call “sweater weather.”

fullsizeoutput_1d4b

This is the Oana Cardigan by Elena Nodel, and I spent most of this summer knitting it. You know how sometimes a pattern comes along and you’re like “I must knit that RIGHT NOW” and you drop everything and buy the yarn immediately? This project was like that for me, with the added urgency that Anne Hanson was offering it as a kit with any of her yarns as a fundraiser for Elena’s cancer treatments. I love Anne’s yarns, I love long, swingy cardigans, and I hate cancer, so this seemed like a perfect storm.

The yarn I chose was Barenaked Wools’ Hempshaugh Fingering, in the “kasha” colorway. It’s 40% merino, 30% silk, and 30% hemp, which seemed like a good blend for a southern California cardigan. I won’t lie, the hemp makes it a little scratchy — but as long as I wear long sleeves under it, I’ll be fine.

Here’s an action shot to show you the swingy-ness:

fullsizeoutput_1d49

The pattern calls for size 6 needles, but I needed to use 7s to get gauge. I was a little concerned about how loose the fabric would be, but I like it this light and swingy. I guessed correctly that this whole thing would get a little bigger if I wet blocked it, and I wanted to wet block it to get the hemp to soften up a bit, so I knit both the sleeves and the body a little shorter than I actually wanted them, which turned out to be a good plan. I’m very happy with the fit!

Here’s the back:

fullsizeoutput_1d48

That little panel of ribbing in the back helps cinch the waist in a little bit. I can’t say enough good things about this pattern; some parts are a little counterintuitive when you’re knitting them, but it all comes together beautifully in the end.

I knit this in the 41.5″ size, and it ended up using every single gram of three skeins of the Hempshaugh. I actually bought a fourth skein because I was worried about running out, and it’s a good thing I did — what I have left over equals exactly the weight of one skein, which means that I’d have had to unravel my gauge swatches and pray to the yarn gods to get to the end of that second sleeve. I wouldn’t have loved having those joins in the cuff, either; cuffs get a lot of wear and they might have come unraveled eventually.

I was going to end this post with a thank you to Elena for the lovely pattern and wishes for better health, but I’ve just learned that Elena passed away in June, which is heartbreaking.  The family’s GoFundMe page is still up, though, and I bet they could use some help paying off the medical bills, so maybe go help them out? Thanks, everybody.

Leftovers

fullsizeoutput_1ce1

This scarf, like this post, is made of leftovers. My previous catchup posts had at least vague themes, and this one’s theme is “everything else.” In fact it won’t quite catch us up to the present, because there’s only so much I feel like I can cram into a single post, but it’ll get us pretty darn close.

What you see here is a linen-stitch scarf made from literal leftovers — scraps of yarn from various other things I’ve made over the years. Unlike some other things that I “saved for the blog” and didn’t wear until I could photograph them, this thing has gotten a lot of use and even been washed a few times — I love it to pieces!

fullsizeoutput_1ce2

You may also notice that I’m in — gasp! — a new location in these pictures. Pat and I spent a weekend in Idyllwild to celebrate our anniversary, and I brought all these pieces up there to photograph them. However, the other three pieces are all brownish-grayish, and I totally neglected to bring any outfits that would go with them, so this is the only one that we actually photographed up in the woods.

For the rest of them, it’s our beautiful driveway yet again! And sorry to fans of my (very faded) purple hair, but it’s gone now; I have to start being a stern 9th grade teacher again next week:

fullsizeoutput_1ce8

This scarf is also (half) made out of leftovers. The gray is leftover merino/yak/silk yarn that I spun for my Starshower Cowl, and the gradient yarn is the merino/silk handspun that I talk about making here. The pattern is just a simple two-row stripe & one-column rib, made famous by Jared Flood. This is one of those times that I wish you could reach through your screen, because this scarf is SO soft and lovely that you would not believe it.

Next up is an unbelievably large shawl whose knitting took up most of this past fall:

fullsizeoutput_1ce3

No lie, this thing like like 9 feet from end to end. This is Sunwalker by Melanie Berg. The yarn is Sundara fingering merino, in the “Seaside Storm” colorway. This took most of two skeins, which I did in fact alternate to make sure the color stayed relatively even. It’s a pretty gorgeous autumn-y blend of browns and grays up close:

fullsizeoutput_1ce4

Lastly, a project in a mystery yarn:

fullsizeoutput_1ce6

The pattern is Lintilla by Martina Behm, and I love how everyday-wearable it is. The yarn label, though, is lost to history. But look how pretty it is!

IMG_5308

Here’s what I know about it: 1) I bought it at an LYS in Seattle. 2) It’s not a major nationwide brand that I’d heard of anyplace else. 3) It’s a springy two-ply merino sock yarn, not unlike Koigu. 4) I’d swear that the colorway was called something like “copper penny” or “bad penny.” I distinctly remember thinking that was a weird thing to call it, as it’s only sort of copper. I’ve done a lot of googling and am really coming up short here. Does anyone out there have any leads?

One last leftover: I need to post this photo somewhere so it will have a URL so that I can put it on the front of my blog. Sorry!

ravlink

Am I Blue?

fullsizeoutput_1c12

Today’s catch-up post is dedicated to neckwear in my favorite colors, which are blue and purple — I sure knit a lot of things on this end of the spectrum! First up is the fabulous All Paths Lead Home shawl by Melanie Berg, whose designs I’ve been super into lately. This was a BLAST to knit; it was super addictive and it kept changing things up. The striping is achieved through slipping stitches, so that part is super easy with a stunning result. Here it is in all its glory on the blocking mat:

fullsizeoutput_1c14

My LYS (Alamitos Bay Yarn Company) does a one-time discount during your birthday month of (I think) 20%, so I make a point of making a birthday yarn present to myself every year, and this was last year’s: three skeins of Baah La Jolla, a wonderfully springy sock yarn that I’d been wanting to worth with for forever. The three colorways here are “Over the Moon,” “Pecan,” and “Burgundy.”

I want you to appreciate that it was 85 degrees out last week when we took these photos, but I cheerfully put on jeans and my cutest booties and made believe it was fall:

IMG_4950

However, it was pretty unpleasant. So this week I decided to get more bang for my buck and have Pat photograph three pieces in one shoot. Next up is a piece I’ve been dying to wear with jeans, because just look how perfectly it goes with denim!

fullsizeoutput_1c08

This is Pavonated, from Hunter Hammersen’s genius Curls book, where all the designs are in this unique curled-triangle shape. This shot on the blocking board is totally inaccurate to the color of the yarn (one thing that’s going on is it’s very wet), but it will let you see the shape:

fullsizeoutput_1c16

One thing I really like about this design is the reversibility of the stitch pattern; both sides look really good! However, I will admit that I had more success in the mirror than I did arranging this thing on myself blind for this photoshoot. The below picture would have looked better if I’d tucked that dangling end up, I think:

fullsizeoutput_1c07

But let’s talk for a minute about THIS YARN. It’s Sundara Sport Merino Two, in a colorway called “Contarini Palazzo,” inspired by the Monet painting by the same name, and I’m just wild about its subtle shifts between green, blue, and purple, and also about how they all add up to something that goes so well with jeans.

The next piece also features a really amazing yarn:

fullsizeoutput_1c0a

Sorry for the boob close-up, but I wanted you to see the amazing range of colors in this yarn! This is a 100% tencel yarn by Prism called Delicato Layers. As a fiber snob, I’d been suspect of tencel, but I really liked working with it, and I love the drape of the finished product! Here’s the whole piece:

fullsizeoutput_1c0d

The pattern is Lale Lace Shawl by Alina Apposova. You can see now why we needed that close-up though, right? From here this mostly just looks purple.

fullsizeoutput_1c09

This is one of my favorite things that I’ve made lately; it’s stunning but very everyday-wearable! Here it is on the blocking board, so you can see the lace pattern more clearly:

fullsizeoutput_1c15

Lastly, we have a cowl that I knit from yarn I spun myself:

fullsizeoutput_1c10

The pattern is Appia by Hillary Smith Callis, and it works really well for handspun yarn! The fiber I bought at my local Renaissance fair, and all I can find on those ladies online is this website, which doesn’t give many details about the actual fiber they sell. I actually have no idea what kind of fiber this was apart from “some kind of wool” — the label doesn’t specify; it just calls is “Colonial” and says that the colorway is Burgundy. While this cowl looks pretty cute, it feels pretty scratchy, so I don’t know how much wear it will get.

Believe it or not, I do knit in colors other than blue and purple, and next time we’ll cover some of those other projects. By the way, if you are friends with me on Ravelry you may have noticed that not many of these projects that I’ve been blogging are posted there yet — they will be soon, I promise!

All the Hats I Knit Are Weird

fullsizeoutput_1bf8

I mean, why bother to knit a normal hat? You can buy those at the store. This baby you won’t find at any store.

fullsizeoutput_1bfa

It’s Roisin by Ysolda Teague, a hood with awkward little ties at the bottom. But I kind of love it. I knit it in Malabrigo Sock in the Candombe colorway. I knit it for desert dance parties, where it looks less weird than in my kitchen, I promise.

fullsizeoutput_1c06

Here’s another hat I knit for cold desert nights:

fullsizeoutput_1bf3

This is Capucine by Adela Illichmanova, and I love it to pieces. The yarn is Serenity Chunky from Zen Yarn Garden, in a colorway called “It Came Out Great!”. Both these hats were situations where the yarn immediately told me what it wanted to be — the mushroom-colored yarn that I used for the hat above immediately cried out to be Roisin, and when I saw this gorgeous chunky yarn, the Capucine pattern immediately leapt to mind, so I ordered two skeins and went to town. I knocked this hat out in, like, two hours tops.

fullsizeoutput_1c01

The giant pom-poms are the bessssst, guys.

Lastly and least weird, I knit about a million Pussy Hats for the Women’s March in January.

IMG_3888

I didn’t jump on the pussy hat train until about three weeks before the march, so the first thing I did was raid my stash for all the pink yarn I could find. Mine and Pat’s were made with a recycled sari silk yarn held double with some crappy acrylic sock yarn I had on hand. All my pussy hats were knit at a fairly large gauge to enable me to knock them out quickly. All in all I knit about 15, about 10 knit before the march & mailed to various friends who were marching, and about 5 knit afterwards for friends who just wanted them. Many, like this one, were knit in Lambs Pride Bulky, which I stocked up on when I ran out of pink stash yarn:

fullsizeoutput_1bf1

Some were knit with the Lambs’ Pride held double with a strand of Luna by Trendsetter Yarns in the Silver Multi colorway to make them sparkly, like this mother-child pair that I still have kicking around and keep forgetting to put in the mail:

fullsizeoutput_1c05

(Sorry, Amanda! You’ll get them soon!)

It was pretty cool to see how very stocked up on Barbie-corvette pink yarn my local yarn store was in January. When I was browsing in that area of the store, a nice old saleslady came up to me and delicately asked if I was planning to knit the “P hat” — so cute! And of course it was amazing to be at the march, in a sea of pink hats, feeling like maybe my country was still mine — weird hats and all.

Socks! Socks! Socks!

fullsizeoutput_1be9

Hello again, knit fans! Today we’ll be covering the socks I’ve knit over the last two years. First up are these lovely purple socks that I knit for myself — can you believe that I knit these about a year ago and have been assiduously not wearing them because I hadn’t photographed them yet? This photo shoot, such as it was, ended up taking me all of five minutes yesterday. And now I can actually wear these socks! Hooray!

The pattern is Kai-Mei by sock legend Cookie A, and I strongly recommend it. I’m a big fan of all of Cookie’s “twisted” designs, and these were really fun to knit — interesting without being maddeningly complicated. The leg is just plain ribbing the whole way down, but that flies by. The color of the yarn is truest above; in the picture below, the pinks are magnified more than they are in real life:

fullsizeoutput_1be8

Look at me; I own sock blockers now! I bought them mostly for the purposes of showing off socks on this blog; who blocks socks, honestly?? Sadly I can no longer find the label for this yarn, but I’m 99% sure that it was Skinny Bugga from the now-defunct Sanguine Gryphon dyeworks. If it wasn’t Skinny, then it was regular Bugga — I know it was one of those! I also have no idea what the colorway was called, but it was something limited-edition, so you wouldn’t be able to find it now, anyway. 😦 This is what happens when I get behind in my blog, and it’s why I’m going to try to not let this happen again!

Next up is a pair of socks I knit for Pat:

fullsizeoutput_1be7

I have not yet bought husband-sized sock blockers, so this shot will have to do. These were Pat’s Christmas socks this past year. The pattern is Anne Hanson’s Sign of Four, adapted to be knit in a heavier yarn. I knit most of Pat’s socks in DK weight if I can, because his feet are huge and ain’t nobody got time for that. I’m pretty sure that in this case I just knit the small or medium size in DK weight yarn (on correspondingly larger needles) instead of the fingering weight that it called for, and they came out large enough. The yarn was Cricket from Anzula Luxury Fibers in the Blueberry colorway.

Lastly, some socks I finished (and photographed!) ages ago, but didn’t blog — so long ago that they’re pictured on our old cruddy “white” couch instead of our fabulous new turquoise one:

fullsizeoutput_1be5

The pattern is Deflect by Hunter Hammersen, and if your memory is very long indeed, you may recall that in February of 2014 I finished a pair of these for Pat and started a matching pair for myself. It’s only from re-reading that post that I can tell you with confidence that the yarn for these was Dream in Color Everlasting Sock, and I have no idea what the colorway is. I do remember that it was this pair of socks that caused me to buy my sock blockers; I’d been wanting them for the blog for a long time, but this pair of socks actually needed blocking, because they came out a little too small for my feet!

fullsizeoutput_1be6

If you squint at this picture, you can see that they’re stretching, especially around my ankles. I know they’d stretch out more if I’d just wear them more, but that’s exactly the problem; I don’t really want to wear them because they’re a little too small! Alas.

A Tale of Two Sweaters

fullsizeoutput_1be3

Every knitter knows “the sweater curse”: if you knit a sweater for somebody with whom you are in a romantic relationship before you marry them, your relationship is doomed. It makes a certain amount of intuitive sense: for one thing, a sweater is a huge investment of time and energy, which might make the recipient uncomfortable. Furthermore, a sweater rarely comes out exactly perfect, which might cause the recipient to not want to wear it much, which might create tension in the relationship. The theory is that if you’re committed enough to each other enough to marry, then your relationship can stand the strain of a possibly-wonky sweater. Or else it’s magic. Who knows? What I know is that I flouted this ancient wisdom once in my youth, and I reaped the consequences. In my case, I think the actual sweater didn’t have any direct effect on the end of that relationship, but I was not fool enough to test the sweater curse twice. Though Pat had been asking me to knit him a sweater for years, I refused to do so until we were married. His marriage proposal, which was written down for me to read, ended with the words “now look at the sweaterless guy over there,” where he was kneeling with a ring.

So how could I do otherwise than to knit him a sweater immediately after we got married? I had to finish my brother’s blanket first, which you can read about in the previous post, but once that was done, this sweater was the first order of business.

fullsizeoutput_1be1

The pattern is Reece by Jane Ellison, from Queensland Collection Book 9 — yes, I had to track down this obscure print book to find the pattern that my husband wanted. That’s love, folks. He wanted something pretty plain and not flashy, but he was also fairly particular about what that meant, and there just aren’t as many mens’ sweater patterns out there as you would like. The pattern called for knitting the sleeves flat, though, which I hate and avoid whenever possible; I knit them in the round from the top down instead, just from measurements and math.

The yarn is KnitPicks Swish DK in the “dusk” colorway. The zipper came from Zipperstop, a website that will sell you a zipper in a custom length & color. I hadn’t intended the color of the zipper to be quite so much brighter than the yarn, but Pat decided he liked it that way. I also decided after about two minutes of trying to sew in the zipper myself that I would just pay a tailor $20 to have it professionally installed, which was better for everyone. I did manage to hand-sew in a zipper once, but it was on the sweater for He Who Shall Not Be Named, and maybe the less we can repeat that situation the better.

This past winter, I also knit my very first pullover:

fullsizeoutput_1bdc

Cardigans tend to make more sense in southern California, but I do wear pullover sweaters in the winter, especially at night in our apartment where we tend not to run our ancient inefficient gas heater & just pull on layers of clothing and blankets. And I had loved Norah Gaughn’s Lempster since its debut in Knitty in 2013. I especially loved it in the original yarn, Berroco Abode, a thick-and-thin yarn with a lovely speckling effect — I just didn’t like any of the samples showing up on Ravelry in more conventional yarns nearly as much. However, when I decided to finally knit Lempster this past fall, I was dismayed to find that the original yarn had been discontinued. Fortunately, this had happened recently enough that I was still able to find it for sale at a variety of places; it was just hard to find sweater quantities in colors I liked. I couldn’t find the original blue colorway in sufficient quantities, but I eventually decided that the muted purple of the River colorway would also be very nice, and that’s what I settled on.

fullsizeoutput_1bde.jpeg

I made a few modifications to the original: I knit the sleeves full-length, and I did the cable motif on the back also, as you can see here. This sweater is not for the faint of heart: in addition to the charts’ being complex, the construction (especially at the beginning) is really confusing, and in a few key places the directions are just plain wrong. The following Ravelers’ notes were key in helping me figure out what the heck I was doing: FuzzyPumpkin, Sophie7toes, Ephiphonora, and Handstitch. Another issue I had was that in blocking, this thing grew like 4 inches of length, which I ended up just unravelling. The Berroco Abode was super sticky and GREAT for unravelling without losing more stitches than you intended — which was, alas, something I had to do a lot in this project. I got to be an expert at fixing messed-up cable crosses several rows back without unravelling whole rows, which there really ought to be a knitters’ trophy (or at least a merit badge?) for.

But I really like how it came out, and the Berroco Abode makes a sweater that is lofty and lightweight while still being warm — it’s great for chilly California winter days, which is in fact when these photos were taken. But don’t worry: soon enough you’ll see me sweating in the summer heat while bravely sporting fall and winter wear for the sake of getting through my project backlog!

fullsizeoutput_1bdf