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!

Water Music

IMG_0529The only “action shots” I have are iPhone pictures for now, but this is the chuppah that I knitted for my friend Amanda’s wedding. I was thrilled to be asked to do it, and immediately started scouring the internet for patterns.  I was only able to find one real chuppah pattern out there, and I wasn’t thrilled with it, so I initially planned to knit a cabled blanket pattern. I consulted with the bride about colors, and decided to knit it in Knit Picks Wool of the Andes in Fjord Heather. It was going to look lovely, but I was starting to have doubts because it was also going to be very heavy. Then this spring Kirsten Kapur released a square shawl pattern that I instantly knew would be perfect for a chuppah: Water Music. I loved the openwork, and thought it would be lovely in the sun — and it was! I love how you can see the dappled shadows on Amanda in this shot.

I hoped that just knitting this pattern in heavier yarn on larger needles would result in a large enough chuppah, but near the end I could tell that I’d need to add more rows, so I did another repeat or two of Chart 3 and I also added some more garter stitch to the border. I was aiming for 5′ x 5′, and after an aggressive blocking the finished product came out to just shy of that, which turned out to work fine. Here it is pinned out on my floor:

IMG_5627Isn’t this gorgeous? I was so happy with how it came out. But my apartment is small enough that this required furniture-moving! I cleverly finished this up right before Pat and I took a week-long trip to the east coast, so I pinned it out the night before we left and unpinned it when we got back — so we didn’t actually have to live with awkwardly-positioned furniture.

The ceremony was lovely, and I was so honored to be able to contribute to it! I also knit a sweater to wear to the wedding, but I’ll save that for a separate post. Until next time!

Rainshine

IMG_5604 Knit from my own handspun yarn! This pattern is Rainshine by Boo Knits. I’ve had a couple of her lovely shawl designs in my queue for a few months now, but this is the first I’ve actually made. I don’t think I ever even showed you an in-progress shot of this, it knit up so fast! But I do like to include fiber-to-yarn shots in my posts about handspun items, so here’s the yarn when I was spinning it up: IMG_5245_2 Two ounces of a 50/50 merino/silk blend from the Sincere Sheep, purchased from the artisan herself at Vogue Knitting LA last fall. I spindle-spun 420 yards of laceweight yarn, and used a little more than 350 yards of it in this shawl.

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I did the extra rows for the “more dramatic” edging that the pattern offers as an option, but I didn’t use beads and I didn’t do the crochet bindoff, because without a bead to weigh down the middle of that 10-chain point, I thought it might lose its shape and become a loop instead of a point over time. Also, the crochet bindoff was going to be a huge pain in the ass.

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Overall, I’m very happy with this piece. I think it’s a good match of pattern to yarn; I wanted something for this lavender color that was going to be sort of wispy and ethereal, and this pattern fits the bill!

Here’s what else I have going:

IMG_5624This is actually much bigger now, but I didn’t feel like shooting it again — I thought I was going to make this post two weeks ago before I went on vacation, but it didn’t happen! This is the beginning of a Laminaria shawl that I’m knitting according to Xavi’s mods in order to leave out the star chart and start straight in with the blossom chart. I made one of these the regular way back in 2009, and I love it but it’s very big, very wooly, and very gray, so I don’t actually wear it all that often. The yarn I’m using this time is Serenity Silk + from Zen Yarn Garden and it’s lovely. The picture here makes it look both more uniform and more blue than it actually is — it’s really a shifting blue-green that I hope Pat & I can capture when we shoot the finished object!

I’ve also been working on a little summer cardigan of a type I’ve been needing for awhile:

IMG_5637And as you can see, I’ve made a lot of progress! (This came on vacation with me, too; also it’s just been a long time since I’ve written a post.) It’s an Emelie cardigan; the pattern is by Elin Berglund. The yarn, which I’m totally in love with, is Anne Hanson’s new Breakfast Blend Fingering in the “Oatmeal” colorway. I’d been needing a little cardigan in a neutral color to wear over pastels etc in the warm weather, and as soon as this yarn came out I knew it would be perfect. As great as it would have been to pair Anne’s yarn with one of her own patterns, I also knew that Emelie, with its cropped length option and its 3/4 sleeves and its lack of seaming, was the sweater I wanted to knit with it. And I can’t say enough good things about this yarn — it’s soft, but with a good firm hand that makes you have real confidence in the shape and longevity of the finished sweater.

I promise it won’t be such a long stretch between posts next time. I’ve actually just gotten started on an exciting “vintage” project with some yarn my mom found in her basement, but I’m going to wait until next time (when I’ve made a little more progress) to tell you about it!

The Cruellest Month?

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I finished spinning this yarn recently, which I’m calling “Breeding Lilacs Out of the Dead Land,” of course from T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land. It’s 2 oz of a 50/50 merino silk blend from the lovely Sincere Sheep, and I succeeded at my plan of spinning it into a fine laceweight to stretch my yardage — I ended up with 440 yards, plenty for a nice lace shawl or scarf!

Here’s my next spinning venture underway:

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This picture is not really doing this fiber justice — it’s an undyed merino/yak/silk blend from A Verb for Keeping Warm and it’s positively luminous. It’s also one of the softest things I’ve ever felt — it’s such a treat to spin!

April was the month of my birthday, and here’s the spread of fiber-related things that I’m calling birthday gifts to myself — notice a theme?

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Yeah, I guess I’m feeling this color combo right now! The knitting on the bottom is an in-progress Creedence shawl knit out of Verdant Gryphon‘s Mondegreen yarn in a colorway called “Ooh! Ooh! Jade Weiner” — all the Mondegreen yarns are named after famously misheard song lyrics, and this is apparently how some people hear the chorus to “Dream Weaver” by REO Speedwagon. Corrina Ferguson designed this pattern specifically for this yarn back in October, and I knew immediately that this was one of those cases where it was worth it to buy the yarn called for. I’m sure this pattern would be lovely in other yarns, too — Tosh Vintage comes to mind — but I wanted an excuse to try out Mondegreen (a wool/silk/camel blend!). I finally caved and bought my two skeins in April when VG announced they were about to retire it for the season in order to make room for lighter, more summery yarns — and I cast on right away when it arrived! The Zen Yarn Garden skein is a laceweight yarn in a hilariously identical colorway, but I’m sure it’ll become a very different piece. I bought it at the Alamitos Bay Yarn Company during Yarn Crawl LA — ABYC is my local yarn store anyway, and I didn’t have time to hit up any faraway stores, but I went to take advantage of my birthday-month discount, enter the drawings, and see the Yarnover Truck (which is awesome, but was a little picked over by the time I got there — they don’t have much storage space in there!). And the sewing box is something I’ve needed for a long time — for years I’ve had a very small sewing box that I bought to hold knitting notions and the few leftover buttons and spools of thread that knitting projects can generate, but as the years have gone by that small collection of items got quite large and the box was overflowing! My new sewing box is so palatial by comparison that I actually have a separate compartment for my favorite stitch markers, so that I don’t have to dig through the lesser stitch markers to find them:

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Those are my favorites on the left at the back. They’re all from Hey Buttons on Etsy, and what I like so much about them is that the rings are welded shut so they can’t possibly catch on a strand of your yarn. They also all have lovely gemstones or glass beads on them! In fact, I like them so much that when I went to dig out that link for you I accidentally ordered some more for myself – ha!

In other knitting news, I’ve made a big change to my plans for my friend Amanda’s chuppah — but scrolling through this blog I realize I never told you about it in the first place! I was thrilled to be asked to knit the chuppah for Amanda’s wedding this summer, but it turns out that there’s only one pattern for a chuppah on Ravelry and I wasn’t thrilled with it. So I looked around for square lace shawls and blankets, and I initially settled on a lovely cabled blanket pattern called Serenity. I knit on this all through the eight-hours-each-way drive from LA to Tahoe for Amanda’s bachelorette party, as well as during downtime that weekend, but I had some doubts — all the cabling was beautiful, but it was going to result in a very heavy blanket which threatened to make a bulky, sagging chuppah. Then last month Kirsten Kapur released a beautiful, perfect square shawl pattern — Water Music — and my brain instantly went “CHUPPAH CHUPPAH CHUPPAH!” And so:

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It was a little sad to rip out so much work, but this is SO much better on so many levels. It’s moving along much more quickly, it has heart-shaped double-leaf motifs, and it’ll be a lovely canopy that will let light through during the ceremony — and afterwards, it will still serve as a cuddly blanket. I’m trying my best to get the knitting done during these last chilly weeks of spring before summer hits southern California in full force and I no longer want a huge wooly blanket in my lap as I’m knitting — wish me luck!

Check Out These Curves

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I’ve finished my sparkly Summit wrap in time for Valentine’s Day, which I wasn’t even really aiming for — but won’t it make a dramatic date night piece?

I had only 400 yards of this Sparkle yarn from Twist, Yarns of Intrigue on hand, so I knit a smaller size (8 columns of waves) that can work as a scarf as well, and I think I like it better at this size anyway:

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I found the pattern ridiculously difficult at first: just to get my mind around it was tough, and then the first few nights it seemed to require all my concentration to count correctly, so I felt like I could only work on it when we were watching documentaries or other things that didn’t require me to look much at the television. I also taught myself to knit backwards for the purl rows, which the pattern recommends — and while it wasn’t hard to learn, it wasn’t nearly as natural and practiced as knitting the regular way and I soon lost patience with it and just started purling. I didn’t actually find it all that onerous to flip the piece back and forth every six stitches, though writing it out like that makes it sound crazy. After I was forced to spend hours and hours with this piece on a plane ride, though, the pattern became second nature and actually quite fun, in part because it grows so quickly and I got a sense of satisfaction from finishing each individual curve as I went along.

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I look super washed out in this picture, but it’s great of the wrap — I love the shadows that it casts on my left side there! A word about the yarn: Twist Sparkle has bits of silver throughout it, much like Dream In Color Starry, but unlike Starry it’s 20% silk, which helps contribute to the drape in a piece like this. Blocking this was a pain in the butt, by the way — each edge curve needs to be pinned out individually.

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I’m including this picture just because it’s cute, and also because it sort of shows how this piece can work in a less-posed, more everyday sort of way. I really do recommend the pattern despite my initial difficulties — it’s not actually that hard; it just requires a little concentration to learn. Don’t be afraid! All you need to know how to do is knit, purl, and yarnover.

And finally here we have my whole ensemble, complete with my lovely red Fluevog shoes:

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Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!