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.

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!

Am I Blue?

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Today’s catch-up post is dedicated to neckwear in my favorite colors, which are blue and purple — I sure knit a lot of things on this end of the spectrum! First up is the fabulous All Paths Lead Home shawl by Melanie Berg, whose designs I’ve been super into lately. This was a BLAST to knit; it was super addictive and it kept changing things up. The striping is achieved through slipping stitches, so that part is super easy with a stunning result. Here it is in all its glory on the blocking mat:

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My LYS (Alamitos Bay Yarn Company) does a one-time discount during your birthday month of (I think) 20%, so I make a point of making a birthday yarn present to myself every year, and this was last year’s: three skeins of Baah La Jolla, a wonderfully springy sock yarn that I’d been wanting to worth with for forever. The three colorways here are “Over the Moon,” “Pecan,” and “Burgundy.”

I want you to appreciate that it was 85 degrees out last week when we took these photos, but I cheerfully put on jeans and my cutest booties and made believe it was fall:

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However, it was pretty unpleasant. So this week I decided to get more bang for my buck and have Pat photograph three pieces in one shoot. Next up is a piece I’ve been dying to wear with jeans, because just look how perfectly it goes with denim!

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This is Pavonated, from Hunter Hammersen’s genius Curls book, where all the designs are in this unique curled-triangle shape. This shot on the blocking board is totally inaccurate to the color of the yarn (one thing that’s going on is it’s very wet), but it will let you see the shape:

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One thing I really like about this design is the reversibility of the stitch pattern; both sides look really good! However, I will admit that I had more success in the mirror than I did arranging this thing on myself blind for this photoshoot. The below picture would have looked better if I’d tucked that dangling end up, I think:

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But let’s talk for a minute about THIS YARN. It’s Sundara Sport Merino Two, in a colorway called “Contarini Palazzo,” inspired by the Monet painting by the same name, and I’m just wild about its subtle shifts between green, blue, and purple, and also about how they all add up to something that goes so well with jeans.

The next piece also features a really amazing yarn:

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Sorry for the boob close-up, but I wanted you to see the amazing range of colors in this yarn! This is a 100% tencel yarn by Prism called Delicato Layers. As a fiber snob, I’d been suspect of tencel, but I really liked working with it, and I love the drape of the finished product! Here’s the whole piece:

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The pattern is Lale Lace Shawl by Alina Apposova. You can see now why we needed that close-up though, right? From here this mostly just looks purple.

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This is one of my favorite things that I’ve made lately; it’s stunning but very everyday-wearable! Here it is on the blocking board, so you can see the lace pattern more clearly:

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Lastly, we have a cowl that I knit from yarn I spun myself:

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The pattern is Appia by Hillary Smith Callis, and it works really well for handspun yarn! The fiber I bought at my local Renaissance fair, and all I can find on those ladies online is this website, which doesn’t give many details about the actual fiber they sell. I actually have no idea what kind of fiber this was apart from “some kind of wool” — the label doesn’t specify; it just calls is “Colonial” and says that the colorway is Burgundy. While this cowl looks pretty cute, it feels pretty scratchy, so I don’t know how much wear it will get.

Believe it or not, I do knit in colors other than blue and purple, and next time we’ll cover some of those other projects. By the way, if you are friends with me on Ravelry you may have noticed that not many of these projects that I’ve been blogging are posted there yet — they will be soon, I promise!

I’ve Been Busy

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A funny thing happened in 2015 when I swore I’d get back to this blog: I got married. And planning a wedding, it turns out, eats up a lot of time. My job keeps me pretty busy during the school year as well, and once you get behind in a blog, it gets harder and harder to catch up. But I’ve got a stack of knits that I “can’t” wear because they haven’t been photographed for the blog yet, which is profoundly stupid, so I’m going to try to get this thing on its feet again!

So let’s start with my wedding shawl, pictured above. The pattern is Serangoon by the brilliant Asa Tricosa, and the yarn is “Bloom” from Reywa Fibers in the “Picnic” colorway. I was never one of those girls who daydreamed details of my wedding my entire life — to the dismay of my wedding planner, who would ask me things like “what do you want the flowers to look like?” and get an answer like “I dunno, nice?” — but I will admit to having picked out a wedding shawl pattern at least a year or two before my boyfriend actually proposed. The minute Serangoon hit the internet, I knew I loved it so much that I would have to literally get married in it. Just look at that gorgeous border!

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The turquoise color I didn’t decide on until I walked into the yarn store and was seduced by Bloom’s 50% yak / 50% silk deliciousness. I was already pretty sure that I didn’t want a white wedding shawl, because I wanted to be able to wear it ever again, and this yarn purchase ended up dictating the color that my whole bridal ensemble revolved around. Behold:

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I should also mention that my dress was sewn by my friend Jackie, who was one of my bridesmaids. She also sewed her own dress, and my other bridesmaid Kit wore a handmade dress also, sewn by her mom. This wasn’t particularly planned, but as a craftsperson I thought it was pretty awesome. (I personally suck at sewing, btw.) Here is my lovely bridal party; my bridesman Michael was, alas, not wearing a handsewn suit:

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That’s Kit on the left, and Jackie on the right. Michael is the one in the suit. Aren’t those flowers nice? After forcing me to make a Pinterest board to express some preferences, my infinitely patient and magical wedding planner (Ashley from Thread Events) went to the LA flower market on the morning of the wedding and made those bouquets herself.

Okay, fine, I didn’t intend this to be a “look at my wedding” post, but now it feels weird to show you my bridal party and not my groom, so here you go:

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My now-husband Pat has been responsible for nearly all the photos on this blog for forever, so please give him a round of applause. Also, yes, those are dinosaur cake toppers. We had a dinosaur-themed wedding. I’m now realizing I need to show you even more wedding photos, because the one wedding craft I did besides my shawl was to spraypaint a million dinosaurs gold for the centerpieces:

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And the favors:

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My brother also got married in 2015, about six months before I did, so I naturally I knit Serangoon’s sister shawl for his wedding: Tiong Bahru. I don’t have any pictures of it in action at his wedding, so I made Pat take these photos yesterday:

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It’s got that same lovely edge as Serangoon, but it’s in a shawl rather than a wrap form. Unfortunately, I no longer have any idea what yarn I used. My husband is trained to Never Throw Away A Yarn Label, No Matter Where You Find It, but I’ve checked my several stashes of them and can’t find anything that looks like it was for this yarn. I think it was a laceweight alpaca blend?

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I didn’t feel like putting on my fancy sister-of-the-groom dress for this quick photoshoot, but this shawl did match that dress super well:

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Just use your imagination, I guess!

Okay, so I swear on an imaginary stack of holy books that I am going to work over the next few weeks on blogging my backlog of projects. Showing off knitwear on the internet is half of why we make it, right? See you soon!

Iron Maiden

IMG_5733Something about this piece really attracted comments from strangers when I was working on it. I brought it on my most recent trip to visit my family in New Jersey, which meant knitting on two planes and also in the park once with my parents, and every time I had it out in public somebody would come over and tell me how gorgeous it was! Some people commented on the pattern — the hypnotic stripes were easy to knit and are very visually pleasing. The pattern is Iron Maiden by Maiden Brooklyn, a designer I recently discovered with a lot of great shawl patterns.

IMG_5702Other people commented on the yarn, which is indeed lovely. It’s from Alisha Goes Around, an independent dyer who I believe is local to Texas — I picked up this yarn when Pat and I were living in Austin last summer. I don’t think she’s selling this particular yarn base anymore, though: this yarn is  called “75/25 Falkland + Nylon Fingering,” and it looks like Alisha is now going for much more poetic yarn names (and that she doesn’t sell this particular blend of fibers anymore). It’s very sturdy, but not at all scratchy — it would have been great for socks, but this lovely dark blue-purple color needed to be somewhere other than my feet.

IMG_5744This was a quick, easy knit — I never even got a chance to blog it when it was in progress. My only problem is with the bindoff — either I executed it incorrectly (very possible) or it’s not actually stretchy enough to allow for the edge to be pulled out into points like the sample is. I don’t have a problem with the smooth, non-pointy edging, but I sort of wish I’d ignored the instructions and just done my standard stretchy lace bindoff. (It’s the one from Laminaria, though I generally don’t double-strand it.) On the whole, though, I’m very happy with this!