I am an expert at celebrating my birthday. I realize that might be a weird thing to say, but it’s true. Some people get all aw-shucks about their birthdays, trying to avoid telling anyone about them or doing anything about them or even thinking about them, but not me. I figure that no matter who you are, a year is a tough thing to live through — and you ought to take a day or three to celebrate yourself for doing so. Above, you see some of the birthday presents I got for myself this year — don’t the colors make an excellent still life? First of all there is a bottle of armagnac, my newest liquor obsession. Every year I buy myself a bottle of particularly nice booze for my birthday, and for the past few years it’s been fancy single-malt scotch, but lately I’ve been head-over-heels for armagnac. It’s like cognac, but from a different region of France, and you can get a great bottle at a much lower price point than you can with cognac. It’s also less sweet than cognac (which is a good thing in my book), and quite possibly more complex — more complex, anyway, than any of the cheap-ass cognac that I’ve ever consumed in my young poor life.
Everything else in this picture — the teeny-tiny skeins of yarn, the lace, the shoelace-looking thing, and the card — are from the April installment of Leethal’s Quick Knits Club, which was another birthday gift to myself. Leethal is a rad designer from Portland who specializes in the colorful, weird, and recycled, and for her Quick Knits Club she sends out tiny 10- and 15-yard hand-dyed skeins of yarn with patterns and other crafty goodies. This month’s theme was “fruits and veggies,” and as a vegetarian that was something I could get behind, so I decided to buy in for just this month. You can get better deals if you want to buy more months at a time, though. Soon enough you’ll see what those little skeins will turn into!
Not pictured, but also very important birthday-wise is that I finished revisions on the latest chapter of my dissertation just a few days ago. I couldn’t possibly deal with it hanging over my head this week, and it was a week overdue anyway, so I sucked it up and got ‘er done. Woo! And to celebrate the joyous occasion of my birth, this evening my band will be playing a houseparty at our friend Tia’s place. I told you: I am an expert.
So what have I been knitting, you ask?
A cardigan, I say! Specifically, an Audrey in Unst. This pattern represents a couple of firsts for me. It’s my first Twist Collective pattern, though I’ve been a great admirer of their magazine since its inception a year or two ago. It’s also my first Gudrun Johnson pattern, though I’ve been a fan of her designs and her blog for awhile now too. The pattern is beautifully written, and as you can perhaps tell from the picture above the construction of this sweater is totally genius. It’s knit from the bottom up in one piece; no seaming! I hate seaming more and more in my old age. 😉 This is also the first time I’ve ever worked with 100% Blue-Faced Leicester wool, and it’s totally fantastic. The yarn is Blue Moon Fiber Arts BFL Sport, though tragically Blue Moon is currently out of stock of the base yarn and doesn’t know when they’re getting any more — I must have gotten the last couple of skeins! Like most knitters, I had been sort of phobic of anything but merino when it comes to wool, but this is extremely soft and seems quite durable, while also having a bit of shine and halo to it. Really, I couldn’t be happier. The sweater is more black and less gray than it appears below, but this close-up should give you some insight into the texture:
I’ve also been playing around with some Hedgehog Fibers cashmere laceweight yarn in the Sour Cherry colorway. (Beata posts small lots every week or so, so check back if you find her shop woefully empty.) I know, I know, I just finished a red scarf, but this dye job was too delicious to pass up:
You see what I mean?! Plus it’s cashmere so it’s soooooo soft. My first thought was that I’d try to knit it up using Anne Hanson’s Butternut Scarf pattern, figuring that since this yarn is highly variegated (moreso than it looks in that shot up there; it goes all the way down to white and up to black in places) it needed a dirt-simple lace pattern because otherwise they would compete with each other. However, I wasn’t terribly pleased with the result:
Anne’s pattern is lovely as usual, and I definitely plan to use it in the future, but I really didn’t like the way that the horizontal stripes of color were cutting across the vertical lines of the lace. I needed something that was going to mix up the colors more, and I may have found a winner in Nicole Hindes’ (free!) Strangling Vine pattern:
In both of the above pictures, the yarn looks more pink than it really is, I swear — the color is closest in the picture of the skein. But here you can see those horizontal lines turned into curves that work with rather than against the stitch pattern, and I’m pretty happy with it. The only problem is that the back of the Strangling Vine scarf really looks like crap. As a lace knitter, I’ve made my peace with the idea that my scarves will not always be reversible, but this is kind of out of control. (Sadly, I don’t have a picture to show you.) I’m focusing most of my attention on the cardigan right now, and will make a final decision about this scarf later. In the meantime, though, does anybody out there have a pattern suggestion for a highly-variegated laceweight yarn??