Accidentally Ishbel

My Ishbel shawlette is done! It felt like it took no time at all; I just picked it up here and there when I got bored with the stockinette of my cardigan, and a few days ago I found myself magically finished. Last night I got a chance to block it, and here we are!

I knit the small size, which is quite small, especially with laceweight yarn. I even went down a needle size, from US 6 to US 5, because 6 just seemed crazy for such fine yarn. After blocking, it ended up being 15″ deep with a 49″ wingspan. I had quite a bit of yarn left over, and could probably have knit the large-size lace section, but I wasn’t in the mood for a nailbiter and I wanted this to be pretty small anyway since I mostly plan on wearing it as a scarf:

The yarn, to remind you, is Hedgehog Fibres Pure Cashmere, in the Sour Cherry colorway. As you perhaps recall, I had quite a bit of trouble figuring out what to do about its high level of variegation, trying a couple of different scarf patterns before deciding that this simple little shawlette was the answer. And I’m thrilled with it! This was my first experience with 100% cashmere, and it’s every bit as lovely as they say. So soft, so lightweight! Here’s a blocking shot, as usual rather poorly-lit:

The lace pattern is pretty easy; it’s helpful to remember that the k3togs always line up, though.

In the above pictures, though they’re not terribly easy to see, I am wearing my new favorite earrings. Here’s a close-up:

When I was a kid, like 6 or 7 years old, I had a favorite dress. It was made of jersey fabric — very comfortable — and had blue and white horizontal stripes with a red collar. I wore it all the time, but especially when I wanted to feel like a particularly awesome version of myself, such as when I sang along with my Wilson Phillips cassette tape and dreamed of becoming a B-list 80’s pop star. These earrings are sort of the grown-up version of that; they make me feel like myself in the most awesome way possible. I got them from Ply Effects on Etsy, which I recommend highly. Jennifer is an amazing metalsmith — she also made the beautiful spinner ring that I wear more or less all the time to try to manage my fidgeting habit. So I thought I’d spread the love by pointing you to her shop! Have a great afternoon, folks.

Spring Resurrection

Bet you never thought you’d see this again, did you? I bought the yarn LAST March, at Article Pract in Oakland on last year’s spring break, started knitting this in June, finished knitting it in July and experienced a soul-crushing grafting fail, shelved it for August while I worked on a shawl for my friends’ wedding, picked it back up in September and almost finished all the damn grafting and seaming, but once colder weather came here to stay I just couldn’t make myself care about it anymore. It sat on the “naughty” pile all winter, and just about a week ago I picked it up again. All I had left was one small seam and a million billion ends to weave in, so I resolved to spend about 20 minutes a day on it, and like magic, this morning I found myself finished!

This is the sort of garment that makes you want to prance around; it’s pretty woodsprite-core. But then again, so am I. One of the things I try to do with my knitting is make things that I couldn’t possibly find in a store, and this project — Nadine, from French Girl Knits — fits that bill perfectly. The yarn and texture are just fantastic:

Most people on Ravelry who have made this have flipped the leaf-lace panels you see here so that the knit side is facing out, but I decided I liked the bumpy texture of the purl side and the contrast it makes with the knit front and back panels, so I followed the pattern the way it was written. My one modification was shortening the straps; when I pinned the straps in place I found that they were too long, so I ripped out about two inches off the top of each of them before seaming them to the back panel. The yarn, Bee Sweet Bambino, is a loosely-plied mix of soft cotton strands and bamboo strands, which gives it a really rustic look.

Here’s a long shot where you can see the whole thing pretty well:

What you perhaps can’t see here is the fear in my eyes — I’m doing my best to smile, but that picturesque bush next to me is swarming with bees, which I am allergic to. 😦

Ultimately I am very happy with the finished product — it fits perfectly (I made the 40″ size, for zero ease), and it looks cute, and I can wear it to all my music festivals & Burning Man events. But if you want my completely honest opinion, you probably shouldn’t bother with this. The knitting was easy enough, but the finishing was seriously, SERIOUSLY horrifying. There are FOUR 80+ stitch kitchener-stitch grafts, each of which took me at least an hour and a half to complete, and for most of them you have to pick up 80+ stitches on one side or the other before you can even begin. At the very end of the pattern, after you’ve done all your grafting and seaming and crochet-edging (and incidentally, the pattern doesn’t tell you to edge the neck and back in crochet, but in the pictures in the book you can clearly see that this has been done), Kristeen expects you to pick up 200 stitches around the bottom and purl 1 round and then bind off, as a tiny little hem. Here’s how I felt about that:

Aww, who can stay mad at a pattern that comes out so cute? I just ignored that instruction and crocheted around the bottom too; there was no way I was going through ANY more hassle with this thing.

Fortunately, my Audrey in Unst cardigan falls on the complete opposite side of the hassle-spectrum:

Knit bottom-up all in one piece — no seaming at all! One whole arm is done; now I just have to knit the other one. And the button bands, and the neck edging. This should be done pretty soon!

In further spring news, I got my plants little stands this week so that they can get more sun — here is the whole happy family:

See? I told you that you wouldn’t be able to see any flowers on these things in a longer shot. But soon, soon there ought to be more. I’m hoping that the creeping plant will creep up and over the edge of the balcony; I think that would be pretty cool.


My plectranthus plants have made it through the winter, and lo and behold: they are starting to flower! Well, this one is. A little bit. If I were to show you a longer shot of the plant, you wouldn’t actually be able to see any flowers, because the three you can see here (two in the foreground, one in the back on the upper right) are literally 100% of them so far. But I think this is a solid sign that after six damn years in southern California, I have finally learned how to keep plants happy in this climate. In my first year of grad school, I bought a whole bunch of plants that died of neglect within four months — because I just couldn’t remember to water them often enough, and in more humid areas that’s less of a problem — and I was so wracked with guilt (yes, plant-death guilt) that I didn’t try to grow anything else for years. At the end of my third year of grad school, I inherited a peace lily from my ex, who had received it as a gift at his office and was leaving it behind when he was moving away, and I’ve managed to keep that alive just because it refuses to die. I think of that plant a lot like Holly Golightly thinks of her cat: we don’t belong to each other, I just water it occasionally as long as it deigns to stick around. These plectranthus plants that I bought last fall represent the first time I’ve been particularly invested in any plants in awhile, and I’m really pleased that they’re doing so well.

I’ve finally come to my senses (read: changed my mind a third time) about that Hedgehog Fibres cashmere, and realized that I don’t need another raspberry-red rectangular scarf. So instead, I have begun knitting it into an Ishbel:

Ishbel, as you know unless you have been living under a rock and/or are not yourself a knitter (and bless your hearts, you non-knitter readers), is a wildly popular scarf/shawl pattern that Ysolda released about a year ago. I love Ysolda and her designs dearly, but I was a snob about this particular pattern when it came out: I was a real lace knitter, a lace-knitting ninja capable of executing complex charted patterns without a lifeline while pounding shots of tequila. This pattern, by contrast, is cited by zillions of Ravelers as their first foray into lace knitting and is eminently non-intimidating. But simple is exactly what I needed with this highly-variegated yarn, and when I realized that a little triangle scarf might be just the thing to distinguish this project from the one I just finished, I found myself thinking of Ishbel again. It’s zipping along, providing a break when I get bored of all the stockinette involved in my Audrey cardigan, and it’s delightfully weightless.

My Audrey cardigan is coming along, but it’s not much to look at just yet. I’ve finished the fronts and the back, done the shoulder join, and knitted one of the sleeve caps. I’ll show it to you again next time, I promise. I have, however, gotten started on yet another a new project:

This is the very beginning of what will be a sort of modernist log-cabin blanket that I am knitting for some friends who are getting married later this month. The blanket will NOT be completed by then, but I figure I’ll send them a nice card and an IOU, and by the time it starts getting chilly again they’ll have a brand-new stylish blanket to keep them warm. I’ve been wanting to knit one of these since I stumbled across the basic recipe a few months ago, and I think it’s going to be fun, but the finishing is clearly going to drive me batty. There will be a zillion ends to weave in (I’ll do them for each block separately as I finish it, I suppose), and ultimately I’ll have to sew together a million of these squares. Expect melodramatic cursing of self, friends, marriage, God, etc. Fun for the whole family!