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!

Summertime Blues

I have finally, finally finished my Basket of Flowers stole. I’d been playing chicken with the end for the last few weeks, wanting to bind off but then talking myself into one more repeat — over and over again. But I’m very happy with the final (enormous) length! It’s ended up, after blocking, at 23″ x 75″.

This was, of course, the huge project that was supposed to occupy me for our whole trip to and two-month stay in Austin, TX this summer. It succeeded at that and then some — though I also finished a small lacy scarf, a large garter-stitch shawl, and a tiny something that I’ll show you momentarily in that time.

The yarn is “Shimmering” from A Verb for Keeping Warm in Oakland, CA — a 100% tussah silk yarn. It’s also indigo dyed, and as you can see in this close-up shot there’s a fair amount of denim-like variation in the colorway, which is called “My Hand and Yours.” I’ve very happy with the finished piece — it’s huge and gorgeous, it can function as a giant scarf or as a wrap, and it’s a beautiful color! The knitting did get a little bit tedious towards the end, but for 80% of this project the stitch pattern was varied enough in itself that it didn’t bother me much.

Here’s the other thing I finished recently:

This is Georgie Hallam’s Rainbow Dress knit for a wee babe recently brought into this world by my friends Julie and Tom. I made one of these for my friend Liz’s baby a few years ago and it was very successful, so I figured I’d do it again. This one has a different hem, and I’m totally thrilled with how those pleats came out. The yarn is Madelinetosh DK in the “Wash” colorway, and this used up just about an entire skein for what I think is the 6-month size.

I am also very close to being done with my Semele, but I fear that tragedy is nigh:

It’s hard to tell from this picture, but I really really really might run out of yarn. In fact, I’m pretty sure I will, but the slim chance that I won’t means I’ll keep knitting a bit longer to see how it plays out. I’ll be really annoyed if I do have to rip this back past the halfway point — not only will that in itself be a pain in the butt, but the finished article will be significantly smaller if I have to do the turn earlier. Arrrrrg.

My Summit is coming along swimmingly, though:

I actually haven’t been working on it a lot because it requires a fair amount of brain to count and pay attention, so I generally work on it during documentaries and other slightly boring films. But in the span of a standard film, I can get all the way across and back with the pattern, which adds like 4 inches of length: what you see here is exactly 5 movies’ worth of work.

That’s all for now, but I’ll probably be starting something new soon now that the stole is finally off the needles!

Burnt Orange

I didn’t realize when I bought the yarn for this project how appropriate it would end up being for Austin, but it turns out that UT’s color is burnt orange. I didn’t actually finish this while I was there, nor would it have been appropriate for the Texas summer (not even at night! it stays so hot!), but I felt some Austin pride while working on it there. I finished it shortly after we returned to California, but it’s been an incredibly hectic few weeks and I didn’t get a chance to block it until this weekend.

The pattern is Veera Välimäki’s Stripe Study Shawl; the yarn is Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in colorways “Saffron” and “Amber Trinket.” Like many people who knit this shawl with TML, I didn’t have enough yarn to do the last stripe, but this thing is plenty huge. I’m contemplating making another with some of my handspun yarn in a significantly smaller size.

It’s miles of garter stitch, to be sure, but as long as you think of it as “relaxing” rather than “boring,” it’s fine. Great TV knitting, great knitting-circle knitting, etc. Yay!

In other news, my Path of Flowers stole is still a work in progress, though it’s definitely in the “are we there yet?” stage:

The yarn is 100% tussah silk, so I know it’s going to grow when I block it, but I still have a phobia of it ending up too short. It seems crazy that a stole would need to be taller than a person, but it actually does! Sometime in the next week or two I’ll probably decide to stick a fork in this and call it done, though.

I’ve also started a new project:

This is the beginning of a Semele, by Asa Tricosa. I’ve had my eye on this pattern for awhile, and I love Asa’s designs in general. The yarn is Twist Sparkle by Twist, Yarns of Intrigue in Manhattan Beach. I’m suddenly having second thoughts about it, though, since this piece will ultimately be rather similar in color, shape & function to my Valentine Shawl. Hmm….

I’ve also picked up a project that has been hibernating awhile:

My linen-stitch pillow covers! I’ve decided, however, that I’m going to give up on the idea of trying to actually cover our existing ugly pillows. I think I’m just going to knit plain blue stockinette back pieces to these, sew them up, and stuff them myself. And then throw our ugly pillows in the garbage.

And last but not least, I’ve been spinning again!

I didn’t take my spinning stuff to Austin — the spindle travels well, but I’d also need the ball winder, the niddy-noddy, and the shoebox that is my poor-man’s Lazy Susan, and it just seemed simpler to leave it all behind. But I’m now about halfway through this second batch of Merino that I bought in Seattle in January, and I’m excited for its future!

That’s it for now, but there should be some full-on lace-stole action very soon!

Travelling Light

Pat and I are spending June and July in Austin, TX — so for the last week or so, my knitting time has been dedicated to figuring out what projects to bring with me, and to getting a strong enough start on those projects that I feel confident about my yarn, needles, and pattern choices. Since Austin is very hot and humid, I figured that airy lace was the most realistic plan — I’m not going to want to be knitting huge blankets or sweaters while I’m there. What you see here is Anne Hanson’s Butternut Scarf knit in Sanguine Gryphon Gaia Lace in the “Cornflower” colorway. Last summer, when Sanguine Gryphon announced that it was dissolving into two companies, I snatched up one of the last skeins of Gaia Lace available — and it’s a good thing, too, because neither of the new companies carries it. (Though Cephalopod Yarns’ Nautilace seems to fit a similar profile.) I had initially envisioned using this yarn for Anne Hanson’s Almost Ovals, which was released right around the time I bought this yarn — but after a few days of knitting it earlier this week, I decided that I just didn’t love it. It’s entirely possible that blocking would have cleared up the issues I had with the pattern, but it was looking a little sloppy and the YOs were very asymmetrical (because on one side of the motif they’re between purls and knits, and on the other side they’re between knits and purls). Also the pattern required a little more attention than I’d initially anticipated, and I really wanted this to be a soothing, easy project. Anne’s Butternut Scarf leapt immediately to mind as an alternative — I’d started it twice in the past, and both times I loved knitting it but decided that my yarn choices weren’t right. Now, finally, I think I’ve got the perfect marriage of pattern and yarn, and I’m delighted!

The reason I wanted to make sure the above project was relatively easy is that my main knitting task while in Austin is going to be this:

A huge, intricate stole with lace-knitting rows on both sides. Whee! Chrissy Gardiner’s Path of Flowers Stole, to be exact. I’ve had my eye on this pattern ever since Grumperina sang its praises on her blog a few years ago. Projects this huge and repetitive can be difficult to force myself to finish, but I was inspired by my success with my Autumn Arbor Stole last summer — I deliberately sort of stranded myself on a desert island with it by having it be the only project that I didn’t pack away in a box while Pat and I moved, and I finished it swiftly and uncomplainingly. So I’m optimistic! The yarn is Shimmering from A Verb for Keeping Warm, in the colorway “My Hand and Yours,” picked up at their Oakland shop over spring break a few months ago.

I am also closing in on the end of my Stripe Study shawl, which is also coming with me:

I probably only have enough yarn for one more red wedge after the one I’m working on, but the rows are getting very long and I also don’t work on this very often since it’s my “mindless, knitting-while-intoxicated” project, so it’ll probably be a few more weeks before it’s finished.

If you’ve been playing along at home, you’ll remember that I had to knit an emergency baby cardigan a few weeks ago. I did finish it in time, but not without some minor absurdity:

That’s the sweater blocking in the back seat of Pat’s car without any ends woven in, about 12 hours before I had to get on a plane to go meet the baby. But everything was finished by baby o’clock!

Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of the actual baby, but I think this sweater is probably a little big for him right now anyway. The pattern is the Debbie Bliss Ribbed Baby Jacket, and the yarn is Madelinetosh Vintage in the “Crumble” colorway. After much hemming and hawing, I decided not to put any buttons or other closures on it, in case such things would worry the parents by seeming like choking hazards.

My progress on my own sweater is much slower:

I’d initially hoped to get both sleeves for my Acer Cardigan finished and attached before we went to Austin, figuring that I’d just leave the finishing work (button bands, blocking, etc) until after we return. But after completing one sleeve according to the pattern’s directions, I became deeply worried that it was way too large. So I pinned the sleeve to the body of the sweater as you see here, and lo, it was way too large. My plan is to unravel this sleeve and just do top-down sleeves knit to my own measurements — which I considered doing in the first place, but I decided that it would be “easier” to just do what the pattern told me to do. 😦 😦

I’m not going to do a lick of that until we come back from Austin, though. Not only does working on a sweater in 110-degree heat sound unappealing, but this particular sweater and I need some time apart while I work on addressing my anger issues!

Autumn Arbor

I’ve finally finished my Autumn Arbor Stole! It’s my first stole ever, and I love it. I was worried that stoles would be weird and hard to wear, but I think it’s actually easier to pull off fashion-wise than a shawl. For one thing, you can just treat it as a really large scarf:

 

But you can also wrap it around your shoulders in a variety of ways for extra warmth, which makes it a pretty excellent autumn accessory:

So I’m pretty delighted. As usual, Anne Hanson’s pattern was lovely and intuitive. While the pattern is complicated enough that I wouldn’t say I ever quite memorized it, it was easy to anticipate what was coming next and to spot mistakes. The problem with any stole project, though, is that they take a million billion years and can get very repetitive — which is why I hadn’t knit one until now. I started this in December of last year, if you can believe it, and I picked it up and put it down a whole lot throughout the past nine months. I don’t think I’d have finished it at all — or at least, not anytime soon — if I hadn’t had to move to a new apartment in August. This was one of only two projects that didn’t get packed away during the move, so I had no choice but to focus on it throughout most of August and September. And lo.

The color is a little off in this close-up shot — it’s really the bluer green you see in the earlier photos and not so yellow/brown — but you can see the awesomeness of the lace pattern here pretty well. The yarn I used is Squoosh Fiberarts Sublime Lace, a superwash merino lace yarn that I highly recommend. And at $25 for 970 yards, it’s a steal — I made this whole thing in the petite size from just one skein!

If you’re planning on knitting this, I highly recommend bookmarking my Ravelry project page — I built off of another Raveler’s brilliant idea of how to knit the stole straight through without grafting, and I streamlined her modifications so that you end up with many fewer ends to weave in.

I still have one more summer project waiting in the wings — at this rate, it’ll be winter before I’m done telling you about summer!

 

 

Winter Leaves

I seem to be on a green-and-leafy kick this winter, quite possibly because I spent the holidays in the epicenter of Snowpocalypse 2010, a blizzard that prevented Pat from being able to visit my family and that turned the local mall into a red cross station, among other things. Fortunately I am now back in southern California, and able to take sunny pictures like this one! What you see here is the beginning of a pair of Sleepy Hollow Socks, which I’m knitting because I like the leafy pattern but also because everybody on Ravelry raves about the heel construction: the gussets are knit in the round along with the heel, with no stitches to pick up. Crazy! You can’t really see in this picture, but I’ve gotten to the gusset increases and it all makes sense so far. I can’t quite conceptualize how turning the heel is going to work, but I have faith that if I continue to follow the instructions, everything will work out fine. The yarn is Sanguine Gryphon Skinny Bugga in a colorway called Autumn Tiger Beetle. I’d initially imagined making a scarf or something out of it, since the colors are so pretty, but I already have a dark green scarf-like thing, and as you’ll see in a second, I’m in the process of knitting another one. So I decided to use this sock yarn to make socks with after all — shocking! I’ve sworn to make at least two pairs of socks this winter, because I love wearing handknit socks around the house but I have no desire to knit them anytime other than winter when it’s chilly out.

Here’s the second green-and-leafy thing I’m working on:

This doesn’t look like much right now, but it’s the beginning of an Autumn Arbor Stole by Anne Hanson. I’ve never knitted a stole before, and I suspect that it’s going to take a million years and would get really boring if I devoted all my attention to it, so I’m conceiving of this as a between-projects project and not as something on the main stage for now. But the pattern is just so pretty (once it’s blocked — look over at the pattern page!), and I had enough Squoosh Fiber Arts Sublime Lace in my stash to attempt something this ambitious, so there you go. I figure if I finish this by summer I’ll be happy.

Here’s something I’m trying to finish a little more quickly:

I started this Buncha Squares Blanket in, uh, April, and you are looking at how much progress I’ve made. I ignored it pretty hard all summer, but suddenly now that it’s cold I’m feeling like another handknit blanket for the living room would be a superb idea, so I’m picking up the pace. I really love the colors! I figure I’ll keep on making squares until I either run out of yarn or run out of steam, but in the abstract I’d like this thing to be at least four squares wide and tall, if not five, so I have a loooong way to go.

Last time I promised you pictures of that scarf I was knitting as a gift. Unfortunately, the only pictures I have of it on the recipient don’t let you see it very well, and I neglected to do an FO photoshoot on my own. But at least you can see how much it’s appreciated:

This is my friend Adam, rocking what he says is his first favorite scarf in a long time. (He is also rocking fuzzy pink leopard-print pants, because we were preparing for the 2011 Philadelphia Mummers’ Parade when I took this picture.) He requested this scarf to replace a long-lost beloved scarf that had been his mother’s. He didn’t have much of a knitting vocabulary, but when he said that “it was loosely knit… but there was some periodicity to its looseness,” I figured out that what he probably wanted was a drop-stitch scarf. What you see here is a simple drop-stitch scarf with 9 knit rows followed by a triple-drop-stitch row, in Brooklyn Tweed’s Shelter in the Woodsmoke colorway. I made it pretty damn long, since he said that one of his favorite things about the old scarf was that he could wrap it two or three times and still have lots of it trailing — as you see here!

As if all the knitting here wasn’t enough, I also plan to cast on soon for my very first project with my handspun yarn. Stay tuned!