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?

Guadalupe

I managed to finish one of my road projects here in Austin, and here it is! This is Anne Hanson’s Butternut Scarf in Sanguine Gryphon Gaia Lace. As you may recall, I snapped up one of the very last skeins of Gaia Lace in existence when SG announced the end of their studio, because I loved it so much from my experience knitting Jackie E-S’s Shallow Sideways Tri-Shawl. The colorway is called “Cornflower,” and I love it to pieces. It’s a pale blue with lowlights and highlights that give it a shimmering movement which reminds me — especially when paired with such a sinuous lace pattern — of flowing water. So I’ve named this scarf after Austin’s Guadalupe River, in which Pat and I have spent a lot of time floating and drinking beer these last two months.

Isn’t it gorgeous? This is a pattern that I’ve tried several times, but I never was satisfied with it until now: once I tried it with a fingering-weight handspun yarn, which was too bulky for the motif, and once I tried it with a highly variegated yarn whose color-changes interfered with the pattern’s vertical movement. It’s a very simple, intuitive pattern, but it really needs a laceweight solid-color yarn in order to shine, and I’m glad I was finally able to do it justice.

It’s not the greatest of scarf shots, but here’s an amusing picture for you:

That’s me and Cesar Chavez, on the campus of UT Austin. I’m trying sort of poorly to imitate his pose.

Aaand here’s some yarn from my beloved Hill Country Weavers, which I will miss when we go back to California this week:

I “had to” take another trip there last week to get some Eucalan samples so I could block my scarf, and they’d just gotten in Hazel Knits yarn for the first time, and I nearly fainted dead away — I’d never seen it in person before, and it’s gorgeous. The middle three skeins are Piquant Lite in the “Nickel” colorway; it’s a 90% superwash 10% nylon blend. I’m sure it’s a wonderful sock yarn, but as you can probably guess from the quantity, I have more than socks in mind. I bought these planning to knit Laura Chau’s Matcha Cardigan from her beautiful new Afternoon Tea collection, but just this week I was blindsided by Cecily Glowik MacDonald’s new Landing collection and I realized that this would also be enough yarn to knit River Crossing. When we get back to California I’ll probably swatch for both and see what the yarn tells me. The skein on the left is Hazel Knits Entice in the “Shady Verdant” colorway, a 70/20/10 superwash merino / cashmere / nylon blend and it’s heavenly to touch. Some leafy design is in its future! The skein on the right is from an independent dyer I’d never heard of before: Alisha Goes Around. The colorway doesn’t seem to have a name, but I’m in love: it’s a dark purple that leans into blue in some places. The yarn is called “75 / 25 Falkland & Nylon Fingering,” which is exactly what it says on the tin.

Pat and I have loved Austin and we’re sad to leave, but we’re also a little bit excited to get out of this barren sublet apartment and back to the comforts of home. See you on the flip side!

Slow and Steady Somethings the Something

My Path of Flowers stole has certainly grown — I’d say it’s about 1/3 of the way done — but after working on it for the lion’s share of our 22-hour drive from Long Beach to Austin, I’m a little annoyed that I haven’t gotten farther. I’m madly in love with this thing, though — I understand why Grumperina was so taken with it. I don’t have any close-up shots of it at the moment, but the yarn and the pattern work so well together that it blows my mind: the subtle shifts in color and shading are lovely. Like Grumperina, I had a rocky start with this pattern: the lace is pretty complicated, particularly in the center panel, and before I fully got my head around it I managed to make a massive error and then not notice it for another evening of working on the thing — so I actually spent the first hour or two of our 22-hour trip painstakingly undoing 10 or so (very long!) rows. But I’ve since made friends with the lace pattern, if not exactly memorized it — it remains complicated enough to keep me interested, but not so difficult that I’ve made any more mistakes that I didn’t catch right away.

I had a similar two-steps-forward, one-step-back experience with my Butternut Scarf, seen here. It was actually the opposite problem: this pattern is so easy and intuitive that it’s very possible to go on autopilot and make a mistake, particularly at the “switch” points where you start working on the motif in the opposite direction. Ask me how I know — argh. I had to spend about an hour and a half unknitting a whole movie’s worth of knitting. Now I know to pay super close attention at those “switch” points, and all is well.

My Stripe Study shawl is getting a little unwieldy for the needle it’s on, but I have faith that I’ll be able to finish it without having to do anything crazy. Actually, since I’m knitting it with my Addi Lace Interchangeables, I could just add some more cord onto the end if I really wanted to! I was worried that it was too big and smunched up to photograph well, but I actually love the way this picture came out! It’s like modern art. These turn out to be perfect colors for Austin, since UT’s color is “burnt orange,” but with all the 100-degree days here, I’m not sure I’m going to be up for shawl modeling when this is done. We’ll see. Maybe in the late afternoon or early morning?

I’ve also got a secret project going that I won’t be able to show you for a few more months. But this is sort of a teaser for it, in that I’m probably going to use a little of this yarn for embellishments on the secret project. This is a skein of “Everlasting,” a sock yarn by Dream in Color, in the colorway “Morning Glory.” I’m trying to cut down on my yarn-buying, so this will probably be my only souvenir skein from Austin. I originally intended to actually knit socks with it, but I’ve been thinking lately that it might be really nice as a large, simple, openwork shawl like Uxbridge or Lombard Street. The moment of truth will probably come when I finish my Stripe Study: stay tuned!

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!

Spring Break Woo

For the first time in several years, Pat and I actually got to enjoy our spring break — not having dissertations to write makes vacations feel a lot more possible. So we drove up to San Francisco for a quick trip — we went on the “murder tour” at Alcatraz (even grimmer than you’re imagining, seriously), ate at a bunch of our favorite restaurants, saw a bunch of friends (but not everyone we wanted, or for as long as we wanted — we’ll need to do another trip this summer!), and went to some yarn stores. What you see above is the new project that I took with me on the trip — it’s much longer than this now, after being worked on during (parts of) two seven-hour drives, but I already had such a good shot of it that I didn’t bother taking a second picture. The yarn is Tosh Merino Light in the colorway “Forestry” — I bought this skein off of my friend Julie who’d ended up with more than she needed. I’d been wanting to try this yarn for awhile because I love Madelinetosh’s dye jobs, and guys: I am in love. Look at that stitch definition! The pattern is Anne Hanson’s Pompa scarf. I didn’t have a particular plan for this yarn right away, but shortly before spring break I had the brainwave that its strikingly bright color should really be paired with a pattern of equal boldness, and the strong lines of this scarf seemed perfect. This pattern had been in my Ravelry queue for awhile, but I didn’t realize until I actually bought it that the triangles are not stockinette: if you squint, you can see patterns of purl bumps in there. I actually love that about this pattern: it makes the knitting more interesting, and the finished product more reversible!

I kept my knitting tourism to a minimum because of our limited time, but I had to go back to Imagiknit, which is a magical, wonderful place. I picked up a sweater’s worth of Madelinetosh Vintage in the “Charcoal” colorway, to finally knit the light gray sweater that my wardrobe has been needing:

I’m going to begin swatching for an Acer Cardigan, maybe as soon as tonight!

I also, having fallen head over heels for the Tosh Merino Light, bought some more of it:

Left to right, these are “Sequoia,” “Amber Trinket,” and “Saffron.” The one on the left I actually picked up at A Verb for Keeping Warm in Oakland, but the other two are from Imagiknit, and my plan is to stripe them together in some yet-to-be-determined stripey shawl pattern.

At Imagiknit, I also finally succumbed to something I’d had my eye on for ages and ages:

Apologies for the crappy photo, but yes, that is a set of ADDI CLICK LACE INTERCHANGEABLE NEEDLES OMG. I decided that they would be an early birthday present for myself, and also that I may as well buy them in the store since it was the same price as buying them online but I wouldn’t have to pay shipping. I love regular Addi Lace circular needles more than life itself, and a whole lovely, superbly-designed set of interchangeable ones is practically more amazingness than I can handle. My old Knitpicks interchangeable needles (see photo 1) have been reasonably reliable, but they’re made of wood and seriously starting to wear down with time.

The other yarn-related stop I made on this trip, as I’ve already mentioned, was A Verb For Keeping Warm. I visited them three or so years ago when they were still in their warehouse space, but I hadn’t been to their new store yet, so it seemed pretty mandatory. I picked up this skein of “Shimmering,” their 100% tussah silk lace yarn:

The colorway is called “My Hand and Yours.” This is one of their indigo-dyed yarns, and the photo doesn’t quite do it justice: the color leans into purple more than this picture shows. I also picked up these two impossibly soft hanks of fiber:

This is undyed fiber that is 60% merino, 20% yak, and 20% silk. It’s insanely gorgeous — shiny and snuggly and heathered. Once I picked these up in the store I literally could not put them down.

Between this trip, our Portland & Seattle trip, and the two knitting festivals I went to in the fall, it is definitely time to cut myself off for now: no more new yarn until the end of the summer… probably.

Be My Winding Wheel

Would you believe that I haven’t had time to write up my Pacific Northwest trip yet because I’ve been too busy knitting? Well, I have — I’m going back home to California tomorrow, and I’ve been busting my ass to finish that giant blanket before I leave. I’m going to leave you in suspense about how it’s going for now, though, because I have so much about Seattle and Portland to tell you!

Above, you see one of the knitterly highlights of my trip: my first experience spinning on a wheel at my friend Vanessa‘s house. It was hard to get the hang of it at first, but once she gave me a few tips I was able to spin a few decent yards. This is the Ashton Kiwi, which I’ve heard wonderful things about, and it seemed to work pretty well. It was a little stunning to realize how much faster I could be spinning if I had a wheel, which I guess would be both good and bad: good because more yarn, bad because more money spent on fiber.

It was lovely to see Vanessa, and she pointed us to some important Seattle landmarks, such as the statue of Vladimir Lenin, who was still decorated for the holidays:

And the giant bridge troll:

And, of course, some local yarn shops. Pat was a very good sport about all the knitting-tourism I wanted to do! The first one we hit up was Seattle Yarn in west Seattle, a neighborhood that Pat & I really enjoyed. The shop was well-stocked and the owner was friendly, and I came away with these:

The picture’s a little crappy, but this is two skeins of Berroco Alpaca Fine, in a very interesting colorway: dark blue with a red halo.

We also made it to Weaving Works via some minor hilarity. It was Vanessa’s most highly recommended shop, but we initially didn’t think we’d have time to fit it in. Then one afternoon when we were staying with my friend Miriam, our second Seattle hostess, Pat and I found ourselves sitting around her house one afternoon at 4:30 without much to do. I looked at Weaving Works again online and realized that it was only about a 10-minute drive from Miriam’s place… and that it was closing at 5:00. So we dashed to the car and got there just in time for me to be able to poke around. I got this lovely yarn:

This is Soxie from the Great Adirondack Yarn Company, in the somewhat strangely-named “copper” colorway. But perhaps the most interesting thing about Weaving Works was all the giant baskets full of fiber for sale by the ounce. It was difficult to choose, but I eventually came away with this:

This is a little more than 4 ounces of merino fiber in a stunning blue colorway that seems to have been carded with bits of pink, purple, and green. I’m super excited about it, and really glad we managed to squeeze Weaving Works into our trip.

That’s me and Vanessa. I highly recommend you check out her brand-new knitting blog — it’s already got some thoughtful and interesting posts on knit-bombing, switching from Western to Continental knitting, and sweater alterations, among other things!

After Seattle came Portland, where we stayed with my friend Jim for a couple of days. Jim was a marvelous host, treating us to craftsman whiskey and to mead that he’d brewed himself, and  showing us jazz, karaoke, and lots of wonderful restaurants. He is not, however, much of a knitter — heh. But I met up with my friend Karel one afternoon and we took a trip to Yarnia, a magical land where shop patrons get to make their own yarn by selecting single strands to ply together in a big old-fashioned cone-winding machine that I tragically did not get a picture of. After a few different experiments and swatches, this is what I came up with:

It’s three different purples — one of them a fuzzy mohair — and a strand of glittering gold. The gold was Karel’s stroke of genius; I liked the combination of purples that I’d come up with, but it didn’t feel enough like a one-of-a-kind yarn yet. I’m super excited about it!

Other Portland highlights included Powell’s bookstore, Multnomah Falls, and blacklight-pirate-minigolf, but this post is already getting quite long!

I have just one more yarn acquisition to show you. After Seattle and Portland, Pat and I came back to the east coast where I’ve been visiting my family. On a snowy trip to New York City, I began to develop cowl envy — I was wearing my Infinitude Scarf, but it seemed insufficiently snuggly for the wind and snow. So you shouldn’t be surprised that I fell head-over-heels in love with these skeins when I saw them hanging in a vendor’s stall in Union Square:

This is a bulky-weight one-ply merino from Catskill Merino, and I love it to pieces. I shall knit it into a huge bulky cowl that I will almost never wear on the west coast, but I’ll love it next winter when I come back east again!

Holiday

Sorry to leave you hanging for so long — I’m sure you’ve all been teetering on the edge of your seats waiting to find out whether I managed to finish the scarf for my brother in time for Christmas. As you can see in this crappy late-night self-portrait, I did. This is actually a pre-blocking shot, but I didn’t really stretch it in the blocking process — I just washed it and laid it flat to soften and relax the fibers. It spent about 24 hours blocking (on December 21st) in the basement before my brother came home for the holiday, then I had to transfer it to a hidden spot in my bedroom so he wouldn’t see it while it continued to dry. I got it wrapped and under the tree by the 23rd, just under the wire — my family opens our gifts to each other on the 24th!

The pattern for the scarf is Palindrome, and it’s basically a reversible version of the ubiquitous Irish Hiking Scarf. (Both are free patterns — hooray!) I’ve never knit the IHS, but I imagine that the Palindrome scarf is denser and uses up more yarn because of the reversibility, which is mostly accomplished via ribbing. That’s right, reversible cables! It was my first time working them, but they turn out to be pretty easy and I’m glad that I now know the trick. The only modification I made to the pattern was adding another row of cables — at just three cables wide, it seemed too narrow, so I did four.

My other holiday project, which I never bothered to photograph, was a beadless version of Abrazo for my mom, by special request. It looks more or less exactly like my earlier one linked there, because I even used the same yarn! So, no photo.

Besides The Great Scarf Scramble, you may recall that my other crazypants winter-break plan was to knit Jared Flood’s new Leaves of Grass shawl in bulky yarn as a blanket and to block it here at my parents’ spacious house and then mail it back to my tiny California apartment. This ran into a snag when (1) the blanket-in-progress, which I’d mailed to my parents’ house, arrived several days later than it was supposed to, and (2) I realized I’d forgotten to pack my longest Knitpicks interchangeable-circular cord. So I had to order another one of those, which took another few days, and as a result I missed out on the valuable days on and around Christmas when our house was inundated with relatives and all there was to do was to sit around and chat with them and knit. During that time, I instead made swift progress on my Port Ludlow socks, which are now almost complete:

It’s hard to tell from this picture, but I’m only a few repeats away from the toe on the second sock.

I finally was able to start on the blanket again, though, and I’m making progress. I’m a little worried that I won’t finish in time, but I have a girls-only craft night scheduled on Monday where I should be able to put in a solid three hours or so on it. From this picture, it may not be easy to tell how much progress I’ve made, but it’s been going pretty well:

Fingers crossed! And while I was busy taking this picture, Max came to the very reasonable conclusion than a furry object of this size and shape was obviously a dog bed and plopped down right in the middle of my shot:

What? This is for me, right?

I have also started yet another project, mostly because I was worried about running out of sock to knit on the plane back home, but also because I’d promised Pat some new handknit socks for Christmas New Year’s Valentine’s Day and I happened to come across the perfect yarn:

Isn’t it gorgeous? It’s Madelinetosh Tosh DK in a colorway called “Cosmos,” which I thought was interesting-looking but still quite manly. And look! I’m knitting them magic-loop style! This is the first time I’ve ever done that, and it turns out to be very easy and quite possibly less annoying than using doublepointed needles. When Wooly Monmouth, the new(ish) LYS near my parents’ house, was out of size 2 DPNs, the lovely owner Dori gave me a three-minute magic loop lesson and assured me it was a technique I’d be glad I learned. And I am! I can’t say enough good things about Wooly Monmouth — helpful staff, gorgeous yarn, Madelinetosh for miles — so if you live in or ever visit the Jersey shore, I strongly encourage you to go! The pattern I’m using for these socks is the dirt-simple Blueberry Waffle Socks, since they’re written for DK-weight yarn, easily customizable, and stretchy (so sizing will be easy).

And speaking of holidays, I’ve just come back from a week-long trip to Portland and Seattle — but I’m going to make you wait until next time to hear about it!