Leftovers

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This scarf, like this post, is made of leftovers. My previous catchup posts had at least vague themes, and this one’s theme is “everything else.” In fact it won’t quite catch us up to the present, because there’s only so much I feel like I can cram into a single post, but it’ll get us pretty darn close.

What you see here is a linen-stitch scarf made from literal leftovers — scraps of yarn from various other things I’ve made over the years. Unlike some other things that I “saved for the blog” and didn’t wear until I could photograph them, this thing has gotten a lot of use and even been washed a few times — I love it to pieces!

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You may also notice that I’m in — gasp! — a new location in these pictures. Pat and I spent a weekend in Idyllwild to celebrate our anniversary, and I brought all these pieces up there to photograph them. However, the other three pieces are all brownish-grayish, and I totally neglected to bring any outfits that would go with them, so this is the only one that we actually photographed up in the woods.

For the rest of them, it’s our beautiful driveway yet again! And sorry to fans of my (very faded) purple hair, but it’s gone now; I have to start being a stern 9th grade teacher again next week:

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This scarf is also (half) made out of leftovers. The gray is leftover merino/yak/silk yarn that I spun for my Starshower Cowl, and the gradient yarn is the merino/silk handspun that I talk about making here. The pattern is just a simple two-row stripe & one-column rib, made famous by Jared Flood. This is one of those times that I wish you could reach through your screen, because this scarf is SO soft and lovely that you would not believe it.

Next up is an unbelievably large shawl whose knitting took up most of this past fall:

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No lie, this thing like like 9 feet from end to end. This is Sunwalker by Melanie Berg. The yarn is Sundara fingering merino, in the “Seaside Storm” colorway. This took most of two skeins, which I did in fact alternate to make sure the color stayed relatively even. It’s a pretty gorgeous autumn-y blend of browns and grays up close:

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Lastly, a project in a mystery yarn:

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The pattern is Lintilla by Martina Behm, and I love how everyday-wearable it is. The yarn label, though, is lost to history. But look how pretty it is!

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Here’s what I know about it: 1) I bought it at an LYS in Seattle. 2) It’s not a major nationwide brand that I’d heard of anyplace else. 3) It’s a springy two-ply merino sock yarn, not unlike Koigu. 4) I’d swear that the colorway was called something like “copper penny” or “bad penny.” I distinctly remember thinking that was a weird thing to call it, as it’s only sort of copper. I’ve done a lot of googling and am really coming up short here. Does anyone out there have any leads?

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!

Long Time, No Blog!

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Sorry it’s been so long since I posted here — my new job has kept me too busy to document my projects, but rest assured that I’ve been knitting! This is the first in what will hopefully be a series of catch-up posts, but once the new semester gets underway it may be difficult for me to post again. But that’s what summer break is for, right? That and margaritas.

Above I’ve showing off a shawl called The Way from Brighton designed by Joji Locatelli. It’s the sort of simple, geometric, textured design that appeals to me a lot these days, but this was in fact a yarn-driven project from the start.

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I was down in San Diego getting trained to teach AP Language & Composition over the summer, and in my free time I did what I tend to do when traveling by myself: hit up local breweries, vegetarian restaurants, and yarn stores. I visited both the Stone and Ballast Point breweries on that trip, which were both pretty epic! I forget the name of the place I got this yarn from — it was pretty tiny and out-of-the-way. The yarn is Swans Island Organic Washable DK in “Aubergine,” a dark, warm purple shade that I’ve been into lately and that turns out to be pretty close to Marsala, the newly-unveiled Pantone Color of the Year for 2015 — that’s right, I’ve apparently got my finger on the pulse of color-trends! (See matching skirt, purchased entirely independently, in the photo below.)

I was so captivated by the color and squish of this yarn that on the spot in the store I whipped out my smartphone and looked through my Ravelry queue for patterns calling for DK-weight yarn, and The Way From Brighton jumped out as a match made in heaven. And so it was!

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This is a pretty easy project once you get the hang of the bobbles, and it goes really quick after the first row (which is nothing but bobbles!). I highly recommend it!

While we’re here, let’s talk a minute about another accomplishment — this autumn, I finally taught myself to Navajo-ply! Like most knitting- & spinning-related things, it turns out to not be nearly as difficult as it looks. I was very puzzled by the youtube videos I watched at first, but once I started actually doing it I realized that it’s in fact very easy: you’re just making giant, arm-length chain stitches and twisting them up. Here’s the result:

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The fiber is from Capistrano Fiber Arts, a handpainted merino/silk blend that I picked up years ago at the Torrance Fiber Festival. It had such high variegation that I thought normal plying would muddy up the colors too much; I didn’t want the barber-pole effect, but long repeats of single-colored strands, and that’s just what Navajo plying does for you, as you can hopefully see here!

I’ll try my best to catch up with posting some of my other autumn projects here soon! I’ve actually gotten behind on blocking as well as blogging, so I’m excited to see my projects finally get all the way finished and come to life!

Handspun Starshower

IMG_5958Sometimes a pattern comes along at exactly the right time. Hilary Smith Callis published Starshower in February, right around the time I was finishing spinning up a batch of yarn that I quickly realized was perfect for it!

IMG_5526The yarn was spindle-spun from a gorgeous undyed 60% merino / 20% yak / 20% silk blend from A Verb for Keeping Warm – I picked up a bundle of it the last time I was in their store, and found myself completely unable to put it down. I ended up buying 4 oz, and spinning it into roughly 500 yards of a light fingering weight. Here’s one 2-oz hank:

IMG_5856Starshower and this yarn seemed like a match made in heaven — the nubbly texture of the cowl works with rather than against the texture of handspun yarn, and it has some drape and shine because of the yak and silk. I’m thrilled with the final product!

IMG_5954I’m a fan of this cowl-concept that Callis has been exploring lately, where they drape in the front like a shawl, but are joined in back like a cowl, so they stay put much better than shawls worn scarfwise like this. Here’s the back:

IMG_5966This also adds some different wear options, as you can see here:

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Lovely!

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!

Doubling Down

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So much sass! Shield your eyes!

I have finally finished my handspun Lilac Wine cowl. The fiber (100% merino from Weaving Works in Seattle) started its life like this:

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… was spindle-spun into this yarn:

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… and is now this lovely cowl:

ImageI deliberately chose a very simple pattern because I loooove the color of this fiber and I wanted it to become something easy to wear that I would reach for over and over. This pattern fit the bill, though it’s secretly not quite as easy as advertised. It’s just 1×1 rib, but it also involves the sewn tubular cast-on and bind-off, neither of which I’d ever done before and both of which took me a million hours and are really fiddly and annoying. Ultimately I don’t think either one of them is really worth the effort, particularly over so damn many stitches. To make matters worse, opinions seem to differ in different tutorials about how exactly to execute them, and TechKnitter, who I usually trust with my life, leaves a crucial step out of her bind-off instructions (namely that you need to be moving the yarn to the front when you’re slipping the purls, and to the back when you’re slipping the knits). In all seriousness, the bind-off took me three hours and it’s not even as stretchy as I’d like. I’m seriously considering undoing it and just doing my standard lace bindoff, so that I have a little more breathing room when wrapping it double:

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I also finally roped Pat into allowing me to take some shots of him in the Deliah Scarf I knit him for Christmas:

Image“… Ladies?” We’re both pretty psyched about how this came out. The blue (“Deep Space Blue” in Alpenglow Sporty Rambo yarn) is a great color for Pat, since his eyes are blue and he wears a lot of dark, saturated colors.

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So jaunty! The Rambouillet wool is completely perfect for cables; super springy and very soft. Did I mention the scarf is completely reversible?

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He looks pretty pleased with it, huh?