Knitting Backwards

It’s funny how looking at a photo of a project can crystallize your feelings about it — I’d been having some doubts about this Twist Sparkle yarn in the Semele I’d been working on, and as soon as I took a look at the picture in my last post, I realized it wasn’t going to work. The flecks of silver seemed like a weird clash with such an organic-looking piece. Almost immediately, I decided that the yarn would be much happier in the project you see above: Summit by Mandie Harrington, from Knitty’s Summer 2010 issue. It’s a striking, unusual pattern that seems like a good fit for this striking, unusual yarn. My inspiration was Ravelry user Knittimo’s gorgeous Starry Summit, knit in Dream in Color Starry, a yarn similar in weight and sparkliness to the Twist Sparkle. There’s less yardage in the Twist, though, so I’ve cast on one column fewer than she did for a total of eight. I’m hoping to end up with a piece that, like Knittimo’s, can serve as either a wrap or a scarf.

As you can see, the construction is quite unusual — but once you get your head around the concept, it’s not difficult at all; you just have to be a little careful with counting. The designer suggests that you learn the technique of knitting backwards in order to avoid flipping the project back and forth between knitting and purling on the short columns — so I did. I just heard of knitting backwards very recently, from my friend Lisa (whose blog I am sad to discover no longer exists!), and I thought it sounded batty. But with the help of this video I figured it out for this project, and made a valiant attempt for a day or two. It’s definitely mind-bending, and worth looking into! However, I ultimately decided that I was so slow and awkward with it (partially from lack of practice, and partially because it involves manipulating the yarn in a rather Continental way and I am decidedly an English knitter) that it was actually faster just to flip the project and purl.

As for Semele, I’ve started it again in the yarn that I really wanted to work it with all along:

I’m so glad I got to take a picture at this early stage, where it looks more like a creeping organic thing than like a shawl. This is the Hazel Knits Entice yarn in the “Shady Verdant” colorway that I picked up in Austin recently. It’s unbelievably gorgeous, you guys. This picture isn’t quite doing the color justice: it’s more intensely green than this. And it’s so, so soft. It’s a blend that I’ve recently been seeing referred to as “MCN”: 70/20/10  merino/cashmere/nylon, a fairly common “luxury sock” blend. This color is, of course, a perfect match for such a leafy design, but I resisted it at first because it seemed a little too “on the nose.” But hey, I guess this is just going to be my super-leafy leaf shawl, and I guess that’s going to be awesome.

Burnt Orange

I didn’t realize when I bought the yarn for this project how appropriate it would end up being for Austin, but it turns out that UT’s color is burnt orange. I didn’t actually finish this while I was there, nor would it have been appropriate for the Texas summer (not even at night! it stays so hot!), but I felt some Austin pride while working on it there. I finished it shortly after we returned to California, but it’s been an incredibly hectic few weeks and I didn’t get a chance to block it until this weekend.

The pattern is Veera Välimäki’s Stripe Study Shawl; the yarn is Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in colorways “Saffron” and “Amber Trinket.” Like many people who knit this shawl with TML, I didn’t have enough yarn to do the last stripe, but this thing is plenty huge. I’m contemplating making another with some of my handspun yarn in a significantly smaller size.

It’s miles of garter stitch, to be sure, but as long as you think of it as “relaxing” rather than “boring,” it’s fine. Great TV knitting, great knitting-circle knitting, etc. Yay!

In other news, my Path of Flowers stole is still a work in progress, though it’s definitely in the “are we there yet?” stage:

The yarn is 100% tussah silk, so I know it’s going to grow when I block it, but I still have a phobia of it ending up too short. It seems crazy that a stole would need to be taller than a person, but it actually does! Sometime in the next week or two I’ll probably decide to stick a fork in this and call it done, though.

I’ve also started a new project:

This is the beginning of a Semele, by Asa Tricosa. I’ve had my eye on this pattern for awhile, and I love Asa’s designs in general. The yarn is Twist Sparkle by Twist, Yarns of Intrigue in Manhattan Beach. I’m suddenly having second thoughts about it, though, since this piece will ultimately be rather similar in color, shape & function to my Valentine Shawl. Hmm….

I’ve also picked up a project that has been hibernating awhile:

My linen-stitch pillow covers! I’ve decided, however, that I’m going to give up on the idea of trying to actually cover our existing ugly pillows. I think I’m just going to knit plain blue stockinette back pieces to these, sew them up, and stuff them myself. And then throw our ugly pillows in the garbage.

And last but not least, I’ve been spinning again!

I didn’t take my spinning stuff to Austin — the spindle travels well, but I’d also need the ball winder, the niddy-noddy, and the shoebox that is my poor-man’s Lazy Susan, and it just seemed simpler to leave it all behind. But I’m now about halfway through this second batch of Merino that I bought in Seattle in January, and I’m excited for its future!

That’s it for now, but there should be some full-on lace-stole action very soon!