On Trend

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If you’ve been following the online knitting world for the past year or so, you know that the Find Your Fade shawl has been alllll the rage for awhile now. This is not that shawl. One reason it wouldn’t work for me is that I didn’t have enough colors; what I had to work with was three skeins of a four-skein gradient set that I got on sale (because of the missing skein) from Sundara during one of her odds-n-ends sales. The colorway is “Reverberation,” and I think what’s missing is the darkest skein. You can actually snag a non-gradient version of “Reverberation” right now at Sundara if you act fast; she dyes in small batches and things sell out fast, so it’s serendipitous that it happens to be available right now as I’m posting this! What she’s selling right now is on her “extra fine fingering merino” base, while this shawl was knit from her older “fingering merino” base….. I’m not too sure what “extra fine” adds, but it looks in the photo like it might be springier and denser than this was.

So what pattern did I use, you ask? A less complicated, very similar pattern that came out a year earlier than the ubiquitous Find Your Fade: the Everyday Shawl by Jenny F. Here’s the wingspan shot:

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What I did to stretch out the gradient-ness of my three-skein set was hold two strands together the whole time. On the lefthand side of this picture, I was holding the lightest yarn together with itself, then I moved on to holding it together with the second-lightest yarn, which I then held together with itself, etc. I knit approximately the “small” size (on size 9 needles because of the 2-strands-at-once), but what’s great about the Everyday Shawl is that it’s very easy to adjust the size to the amount of yarn you have; you just have to weigh it carefully and begin to change the shaping at the appropriate time. I used all but about 5 yards of the ~1500 yards that I had, so hooray for math!

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While we’re on the subject of math and shawls, I might as well show you one of my other recent creations, which I’m calling “3,892 Miles”:

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If this looks a lot like Melanie Berg’s “5190 Miles,” that’s because it is, but with about 75% less yarn. I bought two skeins of Madelinetosh’s Tosh Merino Light, somehow under the impression that they would be enough for this project, and then when I actually read the pattern, I realized that was not the case. So I just made it a little smaller. Every time you’re supposed to do the chain-pattern twice in a row, I did it only once, and I cut out a few repeats here and there, and it ended up looking fine and still being plenty of shawl.

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The colors of TML, by the way, are “Ceremony” and “Fir Wreath.” I’m assuming “Fir Wreath” is the green one. One more picture, because I’m rather fond of this dramatic angle:

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Persisting in Error

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This was not the right yarn for this project. A sweater whose main design feature is dramatic lace sleeves should really not be knit in a fine, fuzzy alpaca that will obscure the intricacy of the lace, nor should it be knit in a shade so dark that it makes the lace difficult to see at all except in bright direct sunlight as above. But I was so excited to learn that, yardage-wise, I could make Poema by Vera Sanon in just three skeins of Yarn and Soul’s “Superfine 400” 100% alpaca yarn that I went for it anyway.

The result is a perfectly fine, normal-looking pullover in a color I like (see how it matches my sunglasses!) that occasionally, in the right lighting, will be noticed for its stunning sleeves.

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Note how in this picture you can’t even tell they’re there. By the way, the pattern asks you to knit the non-lace part of the sleeves in reverse stockinette, but I knit them in regular stockinette because that just seemed crazypants to me. I guess it’s to make the lace stand out more? By making your sleeves weirder on the whole and therefore more noticeable?

Let me talk about what I do really like about this sweater: its neckline. When you are knitting it, you will be worried about how huge and floppy the neck area seems. But once you go through the horrible and labor-intensive process of picking up stitches & knitting the welt edge of the neckline, then knitting the ribbed neck trim, you will end up with a very neat, stable, perfectly-shaped neck-hole:

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Also, despite my knee-jerk instinct to wet-block everything, I followed everybody’s advice on the internet to only steam-block this because alpaca is very fragile when wet, and it came out just fine.

So all in all, I do count this in the “win” column because it’s very much a wearable everyday garment, but I really would recommend that you use a springier, more defined yarn such as the Madelinetosh DK that the pattern calls for.

Off the Naughty List

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Once upon a time, I knit most of a sweater. I had some trouble with the sleeves, and I put it down. It languished for years on what I assumed was the naughty list, but a few months ago when I picked it up and looked at my notes, I could find…… nothing wrong. Just the body (complete), one complete and seemingly fine sleeve, and most of another sleeve. All it needed was literally one more row on the last sleeve, and the yoke. (For you non-knitters here from Facebook, a sweater’s “yoke” is the shoulder part that connects the sleeves to the body.)

Stunned, I cast my mind back, and finally recalled that though I had had to re-do one of the sleeves for some reason, I had not, in fact, ragequit the sweater. I’d just stopped because my brother’s wedding was coming up, and I needed to spend 100% of my knitting time on his wedding blanket, a task that ended up taking nearly a year but was totally worth it. (Click through if you haven’t seen that lately; it’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve made!)

When I was done with the blanket a year later, this sweater was a thing of the distant past. The sleeve problem loomed in my mind, even though (apparently) it had actually been solved. So I moved on to other projects, and this sweater continued to languish. But this past December, I picked it up again and realized that it really only needed ~10 hours more knitting, and I would have an entire brand new beautiful sweater! Ta da!

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The pattern is Lavandula by Triona Murphy for Twist Collective, and I did make some modifications. I noticed from looking around on Ravelry that one surefire way this thing could turn into a disaster was for the lace pattern to not fully cover one’s boobs & the body ribbing to start halfway up them. Since I have a long torso as well as some, ah, blessings in the boob department, I added two repeats of the lace pattern to what the pattern called for before I began the neck & shoulder shaping. (That’s 4 total repeats of the lace pattern before the shaping, despite the fact that I was in the size range that called for only 2.) In retrospect, I could have cut a couple inches from the ribbing part to avoid ending up with such a very long cardigan, but I don’t think it’s so long as to be weird, and my boobs are fully covered in lace, so MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

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This boob-zoom is brought to you not merely by my desire for you to behold my ability to alter a pattern to fit my body, but also these rose buttons, which I think are SO PERFECT for this cardigan. (From Jo-Anne’s!) I did add more buttons more frequently than the pattern called for, to avoid bust-gapping. (There are 8 total buttons, with I think 10 rows between them, and no button at the very bottom.)

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By now you may be noticing the cuffed sleeves. This is because I wet-blocked this sweater, and I forgot that wet-blocking causes superwash yarn to grow. The sleeves were knit bottom-up, though, so I wasn’t able to just unravel them shorter. I tried, believe me, and it was a nightmare and I eventually cut my losses and decided to cuff them.

The yarn is Tosh DK from Madelinetosh in the “Tart” colorway, a gorgeous deep red yarn with a bit of black in it. I bought it from Imagiknit in San Francisco, which is basically Disneyland as far as I’m concerned. The salespeople there insisted on getting down all their skeins of Tart and unfolding them and helping me choose skeins that really matched, that had a similar amount of black in them. Bless them. I did not alternate skeins in this project, and the color is very even. Behold the yoke:

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Here’s one last shot for you, which I insisted on taking because let’s face it; this is not not a sexy librarian sweater:

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Leyburn: Hers & His

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It gets difficult to blog my knits during the school year, but now it’s officially summer, so expect a firehose of catchup posts. Up today is this winter’s socks: Leyburn by MintyFresh of PepperKnits. I’ve had this pattern in my queue for a long time, since it looked like such a great way to make the most of variegated sock yarn, and I can’t say I was disappointed. This lovely yarn is Merino Mia from Prism Yarn in the “Thunderclap” colorway:

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These were also my first toe-up socks ever! The short-row toe takes a little getting used to, but the short-row heel is done exactly the same way as the short-row toe, so in theory these are easier to execute than top-town socks, with their fiddly heel-flap & gusset pick-up. My problem with them is mostly one born of inexperience, which is that both my pair & the one I made for my husband came out a little too long in the foot. The pattern says to knit the foot until you have X number of inches until the heel, and I didn’t know if that measurement was meant to be taken all the way around to the back of the heel, or how stretched the sock should be, or what. And I chose to err on the side of caution, because a sock that’s a little too big is much more wearable than one that’s a little too small. So I ended up (twice) with some biggish socks.

Yes, you read that right: I knit two pairs of these in a row. That was more from emergency circumstances than love of the pattern, but I did like the pattern a fair amount. Over Christmas, we were in Northern California visiting my parents, and I was in danger of running out of knitting before our trip was over, so we made an emergency trip to the yarn store so my husband could pick out some yarn that I could use to knit him a second pair. That store was Uncommon Threads in Los Altos, to which I want to give a shout-out because they told me that they were pretty sure that I could get a whole pair of socks out of one ball of Schachenmayr Regia, even though my husband has rather large feet, but that it would be close, and I ended up with about 6 inches of yarn left!

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You can see in the fact that his toes aren’t going all the way to the tip of the sock that these are a little too long, also. Live and learn! The colorway, which is deeply weird but which I do think the slip-stich pattern works pretty well for, seems like it might just be called “Pop Art Color.” If I’m wrong and that’s just the name of the color series, the color’s number is 05822. I bought a whole second ball of this to be safe, and I didn’t need it because the ladies at Uncommon Threads were right on the money, so if you’re dying to have it, let me know.

Alight from Tartessos

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It’s a shawl! It’s a scarf! It’s a… shawl-scarf hybrid, I guess? Anyway, it’s pretty. The pattern is Tartessos from Knitty, by M K Nance. I got nearly all the way through this thing before deciding it was a stupid size, unravelling the whole thing, and re-knitting it with two additional repeats to make it longer. The actual pattern is more like a caplet-shawl than a scarf, but I wanted it to be long enough to wrap, like so:

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With the original pattern, I don’t think an arrangement like this would work; I think the only way you can wear it is with a shawl pin. I do like it that way:

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But I also like having options. And I wanted to use up all of this gorgeous yarn, and to not have a stupid useless small amount left over. The yarn is Sundara Sport Silk (which I recently used here), in a colorway called “Alight from the Dawn.”

I’ll be back soon with a sweater rehabilitated from the naughty list — in the meantime, happy holidays to you and yours!

Blasphemy

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I have committed a knitting sin: I. Did. Not. Block. This. Scarf. And I will not apologize. The yarn: it was 100% silk. Blocking kills silk; it becomes stretched-out, limp, inert. With this piece I wanted texture, all the lovely texture you see in the above photo.

The lovely yarn is Sundara Sport Silk, in the “Worlds of Unknown” colorway. Most of the yarn I impulse-buy these days is from Sundara; I’m a sucker for the dyer’s “daily dreams” email format. The pattern is Hunter Hammersen’s Infuscate, from her Curls book, which I adore, and to which I recently learned there is a new sequel. Here’s a zoomed-out photo, so you can see more of the piece in all its glory:

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The 3-D texture is 3/4 of the appeal for me with this thing, and it’s plenty big without blocking. So here we are: blasphemy.

While we’re at it, here are two more projects from my backlogs:

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Ok, so maybe I’m a sucker for variegated purples. You did notice how I dyed my hair purple this summer, right? This yarn here is Pride from Forbidden Woolery, in the “Spellbound” colorway. It was produced specially for my LYS, Alamitos Bay Yarn Company, for the 2016 LA County Yarn Crawl. It’s hard to tell from this picture, but it has silver threads woven into it, so it’s sparkly.

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The pattern is Ardent by Janina Kallio, whose simple designs I have been into lately. I picked this pattern because I thought it would hold up well to the variegation in the yarn, and I was not wrong. I made this a bit larger than the pattern in order to use up most of the yarn; I added another lace section at the end.

Here’s a REALLY old FO:

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I finished this at least four or five years ago, but I didn’t block it until a few weeks ago, because when I don’t have the blog going I sometimes just… don’t really have an end point in mind for a piece, and it slips my mind. The yarn is Tosh Merino Light; I’m not sure of the colorway. The pattern is the Augustine Shawlette by Valdis Vrang, a variation on the once-ubiquitous Clapotis.

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Clapotis is perhaps the first pattern that I remember “going viral;” it was back in the bad old days before Ravelry, when the only online knitting community that I was personally aware of was the knitting group on LiveJournal. I was still just learning my knits and purls in 2004 when Clapotis hit the web, so its drop-stitch technique was beyond me, but I remember that EVERYONE ON EARTH made one, and there were jokes to be had about “catching the clap.” Later in my knitting life, when I came across this triangular version, I decided I would give it a shot to see what all the fuss had been about. It’s very easy to knit, which is nice, and I get it now: there’s a certain magic to dropping your stitches at the end and ripping out those entire huge columns to create the final effect. I’m glad to finally have this thing in my wardrobe, at any rate — thanks, knitting blog, for getting me off my ass!

Black Magic

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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?

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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:

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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:

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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:

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