What a difference a quarter millimeter makes! As you may recall, I ran out of yarn just inches from finishing this piece the first time around, and rather than rip it back beyond the halfway point and work fewer repeats, I decided to rip the whole thing out and knit it in the same size on US 5s (3.75 mm needles) instead of US 6s (4 mm needles). It seemed minorly crazy at the time, but the end result is a piece that is much larger than it would have been otherwise, and that uses up most of the skein of yarn rather than leaving like a quarter of it leftover. It’s amazing how that quarter-millimeter difference in the size of the needles allowed me to have more than enough yarn to knit this to the end!

I actually finished this weeks ago, but life has been hectic around here and I didn’t get time to block this until earlier this week. But I love it! I’m so glad that I decided to go with the green Hazel Knits MCN; my original plan was to knit it in red, but I came to my senses and realized that this grass-green yarn and this leafy pattern were really meant for each other.

Ummm pardon my boobs — but this was our best close-up shot. This yarn is seriously divine; it’s so soft and lustrous I can hardly stand it.

I seriously love this thing; I’m glad I took the time to re-do it!

I’ve also made a lot of progress on my River Crossing Cardigan, though it’s currently shelved in favor of holiday knitting:

As you can see, I’ve started one of the sleeves. But as you also might be able to see, it’s kind of a mess right below the shoulder — the pattern told me to switch to double-pointed needles, and I blithely did that, but my gauge definitely changed and got looser. I remembered after awhile that I could just knit the sleeve using the magic loop method, and the bottom part of what I’ve got there looks fine. But I think I’m going to rip the whole sleeve out and do it over with the magic loop method so the tension is even. After the holidays, that is!

Some of my holiday knitting can’t appear on this blog, but Pat is fully aware of the scarf I’m knitting in anticipation of his visit to the east coast this winter:

I am insanely happy about how this is knitting up. Pat picked the pattern from a couple of different reversible-cable scarves that I scouted up on Ravelry — yes, that’s right, it’s reversible! It looks identical on the other side, which I’ll make sure to show off to you once it’s a little longer. It’s the Deliah Scarf by Bobbi Padgett, a designer who has several lovely reversible-cable scarf patterns that you might want to check out for your own holiday knitting! The yarn is just gorgeous, too — it’s “Sporty Rambo” from Alpenglow Yarn, so named because it’s 100% Rambouillet wool. I’d never heard of that wool variety before, but it’s awesome: merino softness with targhee springiness. The colorway is “Deep Space Blue.” I picked it up at the Southern California Handweavers’ Guild Weaving and Fiber Festival a few weeks ago. I was relatively restrained there this year; this is the rest of my haul:

That thing on the left is a mystery skein, a cone remnant that I picked up for $5. You can see it’s got little rainbow flecks throughout it, which is what sold me. The lady it came from said she didn’t know its yardage or even its fiber content, but I suspect it may be a wool-linen or wool-acrylic blend; it seems denser than wool on its own. That lovely blue yarn in the middle is from Alexandra’s Crafts in Silverton, Oregon; it’s called “Baby Silver Falls,” and it’s a superwash/bamboo/nylon blend. It’s very shiny and drapey, and it should be hard-wearing from the 10% nylon. The colorway is called “Gunsmoke.” And on the left is a little packet of sari silk fibers that I plan to try to incorporate into my spinning one of these days!

And speaking of spinning, I finally have another handspun project on the needles:

This is the Lilac Wine cowl by Amy Christoffers. It’s a free pattern and dirt-simple; just a long cowl in a 1 x 1 rib. I bothered to learn the tubular cast-on for it, though, and that was sure a pain in the ass. Definitely do the two foundation rows back and forth before you join in the round; I think it would be literally impossible not to end  up twisted otherwise! I spun this yarn from merino fiber I purchased in Seattle last winter, and I considered more elaborate patterns for it, especially since it’s a solid color and might work for lace — but its airy, springy texture really seemed to want to be a big snuggly cowl. Now that I have proof of concept, this project is being largely ignored in favor of my holiday knitting, but I hope that I’ll finish it in time to enjoy it on the east coast in January! Wish me luck!

Mission Accomplished

Yep – that’s me with Michelle aka Fickleknitter, showing off my fresh-off-the-blocking-board shawl from October’s Fickle-Zen KAL. Try not to get too excited, but I finished and blocked this thing mere hours before last week’s Southern California Handweaver’s Guild Weaving and Fiber Festival, with the express purpose of stalking Michelle and getting this photo. Michelle was lovely in person, and my shawl got tons of compliments at the festival — and everyone was delighted to learn that the designer was local and was vending at the festival.

I wasn’t able to do a proper photoshoot of the shawl until this afternoon, though:

The yarn, to remind you, is Zen Yarn Garden‘s Serenity Lace II. It’s lovely and soft, and the dye job is gorgeous. (The colorway is “raspberry.”) Both the pattern and this colorway are exclusive to the KAL for now, but I’m guessing they’ll become publicly available eventually.

The thing I like best about this pattern is its wide and shallow shape — it’s a canny way to get a useable shawl out of a single skein of yarn, because the width makes it very wrappable.

The stitch patterns of the shawl are probably best seen in this somewhat crappy blocking photo:

Knitting this was quick and fun, with a nice result. And unlike last year, I showed some serious restraint at the fiber festival. These two lovely skeins of locally-ranched alpaca yarn are the only things that came home with me:

The ladies of Alpenglow Yarn were lovely to talk to, and I highly recommend their yarn and fiber if you’d like to support a small farm with natural dying methods. (This, of course, is undyed yarn — but their naturally-dyed stuff was beautiful as well.)

And speaking of small farms, I don’t think I’ve shown you my current spinning project:

This is Jacobs wool that I received in a Ravelry swap about a year ago. It’s a lovely color — the wool is sort of heathered gray and black, and it’s been dyed blue on top of that. My plan once I finish plying this is to finally start spinning up some of that Jacobs fleece that I got from my friends’ farm last summer, and make something striped gray and blue. I’ve been hesitating about using it just because there’s so much of it, and I keep thinking “maybe I should save it for when I get a wheel and can spin it all and make a sweater,” but that day is a long way off, so I really should just start using it now. Updates forthcoming!


I still have two more projects from my summer backlog to show you, but I just took my Rock Island shawl off the blocking wires this morning and was eager to photograph it! This pattern seems to have a hypnotizing effect on people: I knew the minute Jared Flood posted it that I would knit it — and soon — and that I already had the perfect yarn for it. I witnessed this pattern have the same effect on my friend Julie at Vogue Knitting LA this past weekend: we saw one of these on display and she bought yarn for it on the spot. More about Vogue Knitting LA in a minute, though — let’s talk about this shawl!

The yarn is Dye For Yarn‘s 100% Tussah Silk Lace, in a colorway called “Withering Aquilegia Black Barlow.” It looks like their online shop is currently in hibernation, but I highly recommend bookmarking them & checking back later: their colorways are lovely, and all of them have delightfully baroque names. I bought this yarn without much of a plan — I was just bewitched by the color, a dusty dark lavender — but it turned out to be perfect for this project.

As you can see here in the obligatory batwing shot, this came out pretty huge. It’s a large shawl to begin with, and silk is notorious for growing. I blocked this as lightly as humanly possible — I soaked it, and then basically just lay it flat. I did thread the top on blocking wires and pin the points out for definition, but I did not stretch it at all — and it’s still this enormous.

I think my favorite way to wear it is centered on a shoulder like it is in the first two shots, but it does sort of work in scarf-configuration here. Knitting this, well, it took a long time. The edging feels like it takes a million years, and picking up stitches from the edging was a minorly insane exercise: you have to pick up 291 stitches, a number I miscounted the first six hundred times I tried (even with stitch markers!), and the edging stretched all the way across my living room as I was doing so. But once you get through that part, it’s relatively smooth sailing: the Rock Island chart isn’t difficult, and then it’s garter stitch for miles.

So, Vogue Knitting LA: I forgot my camera! Bad blogger, no cookie! Except for, well, this Cookie:

Fortunately Julie’s cell phone had a camera, so the one thing we documented was my meeting with Cookie A, one of my knitting heroes. I had decided long ago that I was too poor to actually attend any of the classes or lectures at the convention, so I hadn’t paid very close attention to the event schedule, but as soon as Julie and I walked in we heard an announcement that Cookie was going to be doing a book signing. I hadn’t bought her new(ish) book yet, so I jumped at the chance to get one signed and chat with her. She was delightful!

But yeah, no more convention photos. All I have to show you are photos of my haul:

This pile of autumn-colored amazingness is Twist Alpaca, a sport-weight 100% alpaca yarn from Twist: Yarns of Intrigue, a shop I plan to get to much more often now that I live much closer to it. The shop owner dyes the in-house yarns herself, and I just love her work! I’m going to be casting on with this pretty soon, since it’s so autumn-appropriate!

This is a small skein of ribbon yarn made from recycled strips of silk saris sewn together, from Leilani Arts. I sort of wish I’d bought two of them, but I’m sure I’ll figure out a use for this. I love the colors!

These are two coordinating skeins of laceweight silk yarn that I got from Redfish Dyeworks. For some reason, the camera registered these as bluer purples than they really are — these colors are warmer than they appear here, and hopefully they’ll photograph better when they’re knit up and/or when it’s not cloudy outside. My plan is to make something striped or otherwise two-tone.

And last but not least, the fiber. There wasn’t much fiber at this event, but I was thoroughly impressed by the Sincere Sheep‘s offerings and had a really hard time choosing what to take home with me. The brown fiber is undyed — that’s it’s natural color! — and it’s a blend of merino and alpaca, both of which are ranched locally here in California. The lavender is a 50/50 blend of merino and silk. Props go to Julie for insisting that I take the lavender home with me — I love it to pieces!

More summer projects to come, soon! I’m also nearing the finish line on some other “live” projects, so there ought to be a lot of activity here over the next few weeks.

Handspun Susie’s Mitts

Yay! I made these a few weeks ago, from yarn I spun from that llama-fiber batt I got at the local fiber festival, but I was too busy with work to post them then. The pattern is Susie’s Reading Mitts, and it’s free! My friend Shayda brought a Susie’s-Mitt-in-progress along to the fiber festival, which is how I learned about the pattern, so it shouldn’t be surprising that it came to mind when I was spinning this yarn.

Here’s the finished yarn before I knit it up:

I named it “Under the Apple Boughs” after Fern Hill by Dylan Thomas, which is one of my all-time favorite poems. I love how rustic the yarn looks, and the splashes of color among the brown just sing spring to me. I was worried that it would come out scratchy, based on how ornery the fiber was to spin, but it’s very, very soft!

I had these mitts in mind the whole time I was spinning the yarn, but when I finished it, my “good sense” told me that I didn’t need another pair of brown mitts, since I already have one. So I started knitting it into a scarf, but after a few days of scarfage I just could’t take it anymore and ripped it out to make these like I’d wanted to all along. Good sense be damned!

The pattern is really easy, once you get your head around the hemming at the top and bottom. I whipped these up in about three days! The pattern calls for DK-weight yarn and size 5 needles, and my yarn was definitely fingering weight, so I planned some adjustments. I wished I had size 3 needles — I only had 2 and 4 — so I decided to knit the size medium on 4s even though my hands are definitely size small. But even with the smaller yarn and needles, it rapidly became clear that size medium was too big! This is partially because my hands are very diminutive, but I think it’s also because the pattern, as written, has more ease than I really wanted. (I wanted, like, no ease.) In retrospect, maybe I should have switched to 2s and continued knitting the medium — since these are a little loosely knit — but what I ended up doing was staying on 4s and knitting the small. Which came out just right!

Yay, spring flowers! In just a day or two I’ll be back with some pictures of a new pair of socks — this is what happens when you get behind in posting!

Fiber, Fiber Everywhere

Meet my newest skein of handspun yarn! I’ve decided that from now on I am going to name my yarns after poets and poetry, because I can. I’m calling this one “Ammons,” because its colors remind me of Ithaca in autumn, and our patron saint of poetry at Cornell was Archie Ammons — I discovered poems like “The City Limits” in my freshman fall, and I continue to associate Ammons’ work with everything that is lovely about autumn. As I mentioned earlier, this skein was a little under-spun, in a slightly misguided attempt to correct for the over-spunness of my first skein, but with the other half of this Targhee top I think I’m finally hitting the sweet spot.

Yesterday my friend Shayda and I hit up the Southern California Handweaver’s Guild’s Weaving and Fiber Festival, the only fiber festival in southern California that is open to the public. (TNNA has yearly events around here, but they are only open to professionals.) It was our first fiber festival, so we didn’t have a lot to compare it to, but I got the sense that it was on the small side. It was also, unsurprisingly, catering more to weavers than to knitters or spinners, but we found plenty to occupy ourselves.

This was the main room, somewhat depopulated because the fashion show was just about to start up in one of the other rooms. There were also a few smaller rooms — which got pretty jam-packed full of people at some points — and another room about this size that mostly was for the stage and seating for things like the fashion show and the auction, neither of which we stayed for.

Here’s a shot that Shayda snapped of me perusing the wares at the Capistrano Fiber Arts booth in one of the smaller rooms. I think the skein I am fondling here (is “skein” the right word to use when you’re talking about fiber and not yarn?) is the exact one I ended up buying later. We sadly neglected to get a photo of the Slipped Stitch Studios booth, where I convinced Shayda that she needed pattern magnets for chart knitting, but I was thrilled to meet the proprietor since it’s one of my favorite Etsy shops. Her pattern magnets are truly indispensable for anyone who knits from charts, and her project bags are lovely — I have one myself, and I bought one for my partner in a Ravelry swap that I participated in over the summer.

After our shopping, Shayda and I settled into the circle of spinners and knitters on the patio that turned out to be mostly made up of members of the Greater Los Angeles Spinning Guild — an organization I’d been curious about, but their meetings sure do take place at 9:30 AM on Saturdays. 😦 They were welcoming and informative, though, and we passed a pleasant 45 minutes or so with them. Shayda knit:

And I tried out my brand-new spindle:

Any spindler will tell you that you can’t have just one. I was on a specific mission to buy a spindle suited to help me spin lightweight yarns, and I found a lovely handmade one just moments after coming through the door. Here it is up close, along with some 50/50 silk/merino fiber from Twist, Yarns of Intrigue in Manhattan Beach, CA:

I’m kind of stunned at how well this picture came out. Thanks, new camera! The camera doesn’t get all the credit, though — with this set of photos, I finally figured out how to manage the southern California sunshine so that things are well-lit but not washed out. I was so impressed with myself, in fact, that I used this shot to make a new header for this blog — if you’re reading this in RSS, click through to admire it in all its rudimentary-photoshop glory!

The above fiber captivated me immediately — it was one of the few things that I put my hand on the moment I saw it and didn’t let go until I was paying somebody for it. (I do love me some earth tones.) Most of the other things I bought were the result of more deliberation, and not purchased until Shayda and I had made a sweep of the whole festival and then took a second pass to actually buy. The Twist yarns booth (not to be confused with the Twist Collective magazine) was particularly seductive; in addition to that fiber, I also bought this skein of Twist Sparkle, a silk/merino/nylon blend with flecks of real silver throughout:

Believe it or not, this was the only skein of yarn I bought. Everything else I bought was fiber. This was partially because the festival, as I mentioned, catered largely to weavers — so a lot of the yarn there was being sold in giant weaving cones and/or was too heavy and rough to use for most knitting purposes. But there was plenty of very nice knitting yarn, too! The main reason I bought mostly fiber instead of yarn was that fiber is significantly cheaper — in addition to having lower price tags for the same amount of fiber, I figure when you do the calculation that goes “number of hours of enjoyment I get out of crafting with this divided by dollars I spent on it,” fiber comes out leaps and bounds ahead because of all the time you spend spinning it before you knit with it! But uh, I may have come back with enough fiber to last me for several years.

This lovely batt is from La Llama Wear, llama ranchers from Apple Valley, CA. I’ve never spun from a batt before, but I’m assured that it’s just like spinning from anything else. This is, yes, mostly llama wool. I’m excited! I was consciously trying to buy a wide range of fibers so I can get more experience spinning and start to figure out which fibers I like more and why.

Here are my final two acquisitions. On the left is that Capistrano Fiber Arts fiber that I was fondling in that photo up there. Their etsy shop is currently in “vacation” mode because they’re going to have to re-inventory everything now that the festival’s over, but I strongly encourage you to return in a few days; their fibers and yarns are gorgeous! (That seems to be true of most of the etsy shops I’ve been linking to, actually.) What I settled on was a 50/50 blend of superfine merino and bombyx silk; I just love the boldness of the purple, green, and red colorway. On the right is a blend of 50% mohair, 30% merino, and 20% angora from Cheltenham Cottage — this one sucked me in mostly on the basis of feel; it’s the softest thing ever! I believe that Mariepaule raises the angora rabbits herself, which is pretty awesome.

All in all, it was a good time. Shayda seemed particularly impressed at seeing so many fiber enthusiasts in one place, and I had to agree. I spend a fair amount of time in the online knitting community, so I’m used to the idea that there are zillions of likeminded people out there, but there’s a difference between typing your enthusiastic comments to one another from your isolated computers and actually giving and receiving compliments in person. It was remarkable to be able to say something like “I just want to keep petting your fiber forever” out loud to somebody and have them smile proudly instead of calling the cops. This community — it’s a strange one, but it sure is friendly.