On Trend

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If you’ve been following the online knitting world for the past year or so, you know that the Find Your Fade shawl has been alllll the rage for awhile now. This is not that shawl. One reason it wouldn’t work for me is that I didn’t have enough colors; what I had to work with was three skeins of a four-skein gradient set that I got on sale (because of the missing skein) from Sundara during one of her odds-n-ends sales. The colorway is “Reverberation,” and I think what’s missing is the darkest skein. You can actually snag a non-gradient version of “Reverberation” right now at Sundara if you act fast; she dyes in small batches and things sell out fast, so it’s serendipitous that it happens to be available right now as I’m posting this! What she’s selling right now is on her “extra fine fingering merino” base, while this shawl was knit from her older “fingering merino” base….. I’m not too sure what “extra fine” adds, but it looks in the photo like it might be springier and denser than this was.

So what pattern did I use, you ask? A less complicated, very similar pattern that came out a year earlier than the ubiquitous Find Your Fade: the Everyday Shawl by Jenny F. Here’s the wingspan shot:

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What I did to stretch out the gradient-ness of my three-skein set was hold two strands together the whole time. On the lefthand side of this picture, I was holding the lightest yarn together with itself, then I moved on to holding it together with the second-lightest yarn, which I then held together with itself, etc. I knit approximately the “small” size (on size 9 needles because of the 2-strands-at-once), but what’s great about the Everyday Shawl is that it’s very easy to adjust the size to the amount of yarn you have; you just have to weigh it carefully and begin to change the shaping at the appropriate time. I used all but about 5 yards of the ~1500 yards that I had, so hooray for math!

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While we’re on the subject of math and shawls, I might as well show you one of my other recent creations, which I’m calling “3,892 Miles”:

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If this looks a lot like Melanie Berg’s “5190 Miles,” that’s because it is, but with about 75% less yarn. I bought two skeins of Madelinetosh’s Tosh Merino Light, somehow under the impression that they would be enough for this project, and then when I actually read the pattern, I realized that was not the case. So I just made it a little smaller. Every time you’re supposed to do the chain-pattern twice in a row, I did it only once, and I cut out a few repeats here and there, and it ended up looking fine and still being plenty of shawl.

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The colors of TML, by the way, are “Ceremony” and “Fir Wreath.” I’m assuming “Fir Wreath” is the green one. One more picture, because I’m rather fond of this dramatic angle:

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Persisting in Error

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This was not the right yarn for this project. A sweater whose main design feature is dramatic lace sleeves should really not be knit in a fine, fuzzy alpaca that will obscure the intricacy of the lace, nor should it be knit in a shade so dark that it makes the lace difficult to see at all except in bright direct sunlight as above. But I was so excited to learn that, yardage-wise, I could make Poema by Vera Sanon in just three skeins of Yarn and Soul’s “Superfine 400” 100% alpaca yarn that I went for it anyway.

The result is a perfectly fine, normal-looking pullover in a color I like (see how it matches my sunglasses!) that occasionally, in the right lighting, will be noticed for its stunning sleeves.

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Note how in this picture you can’t even tell they’re there. By the way, the pattern asks you to knit the non-lace part of the sleeves in reverse stockinette, but I knit them in regular stockinette because that just seemed crazypants to me. I guess it’s to make the lace stand out more? By making your sleeves weirder on the whole and therefore more noticeable?

Let me talk about what I do really like about this sweater: its neckline. When you are knitting it, you will be worried about how huge and floppy the neck area seems. But once you go through the horrible and labor-intensive process of picking up stitches & knitting the welt edge of the neckline, then knitting the ribbed neck trim, you will end up with a very neat, stable, perfectly-shaped neck-hole:

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Also, despite my knee-jerk instinct to wet-block everything, I followed everybody’s advice on the internet to only steam-block this because alpaca is very fragile when wet, and it came out just fine.

So all in all, I do count this in the “win” column because it’s very much a wearable everyday garment, but I really would recommend that you use a springier, more defined yarn such as the Madelinetosh DK that the pattern calls for.

Linen-Stitch Cushions

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They’ve been a long time coming, but I finally finished these linen-stitch cushions! My friend Heather sent me this yarn last fall, and I’ve been working on these intermittently ever since. There’s no pattern; I just knit each of the two skeins of variegated yarn into a big square in linen stitch, using just about every inch of these two skeins. Then I switched to a smaller needle size (since linen stitch is really dense) and used some stash yarn in blue to knit identically-sized stockinette squares for the backs:

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Then I just sewed them together and stuffed them with polyfill! I initially had crazy plans to try to actually use these as covers for our existing tremendously-ugly pillows (not pictured), but I soon realized that would require more exactitude and pillow-experience than I actually had. Then I thought I might try to at least recycle the insides of those ugly pillows, but it turned out that those ugly pillows were all lumpy because they contained gross, lumpy stuffing. So those old pillows went into the trash (after I’d slashed them open to get at their insides, unfortunately rendering them unfit for donation), and now our couch is much more attractive!

I’m done with the button bands and collar for my Acer Cardigan, too! Now it’s just a matter of weaving in ends, blocking, and sewing on buttons. You’ll see that soon!

All this finishing, of course, means it’s time for some starting. Later today or tomorrow I’m going to cast on for a little two-person KAL I’m doing with my friend Lisa. Here’s the yarn, which is accidentally holiday-appropriate:

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It’s Cascade Heritage Sock in “Christmas Green.” Lisa and I are going to be knitting “Cusp” from Cookie A’s Knit. Sock. Love. book, and we decided to actually use the yarn that the pattern calls for since a 400-yard skein of it sells for only $11, and I like the idea of using a true solid to show off the lace pattern in the sock. Enjoy your St. Patty’s Day!

Breeding Lilacs Out of the Dead Land

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My Christmas knitting is in full swing, and I can’t really show you any of those projects, so here’s some spinning! I’ve just finished the first of what will be two skeins of my first properly laceweight handspun yarn. I got over 200 yards out of the first ounce of this 50/50 merino/silk blend from Sincere Sheep — exciting! I highly recommend this shop; I bought this fiber and met the proprietor at Vogue Knitting LA last fall, and all her stuff is wonderful. She’s based in Napa, and uses only natural dyes and locally sourced fiber. I’ve been naming all of my yarns after poets and poetry, and this one is of course named after the opening lines of T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land:

April is the cruellest month, breeding

Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing

Memory and desire, stirring

Dull roots and spring rain.

The only non-Christmas project I’ve made any progress on lately is my handspun cowl:

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Woo! It’s so squishy and light; I’m excited to wear it this winter.

I don’t want to jinx myself, but I think I’m out of the woods re: Christmas knitting. I was deeply worried for awhile there, but I’ve just finished the one largeish present, and I’m nearly halfway through one of two remaining smallish presents. And then on top of that, I need to finish Pat’s scarf by a few days after Christmas when he arrives on the east coast. But I think I can do it! Wish me luck!

Semele

What a difference a quarter millimeter makes! As you may recall, I ran out of yarn just inches from finishing this piece the first time around, and rather than rip it back beyond the halfway point and work fewer repeats, I decided to rip the whole thing out and knit it in the same size on US 5s (3.75 mm needles) instead of US 6s (4 mm needles). It seemed minorly crazy at the time, but the end result is a piece that is much larger than it would have been otherwise, and that uses up most of the skein of yarn rather than leaving like a quarter of it leftover. It’s amazing how that quarter-millimeter difference in the size of the needles allowed me to have more than enough yarn to knit this to the end!

I actually finished this weeks ago, but life has been hectic around here and I didn’t get time to block this until earlier this week. But I love it! I’m so glad that I decided to go with the green Hazel Knits MCN; my original plan was to knit it in red, but I came to my senses and realized that this grass-green yarn and this leafy pattern were really meant for each other.

Ummm pardon my boobs — but this was our best close-up shot. This yarn is seriously divine; it’s so soft and lustrous I can hardly stand it.

I seriously love this thing; I’m glad I took the time to re-do it!

I’ve also made a lot of progress on my River Crossing Cardigan, though it’s currently shelved in favor of holiday knitting:

As you can see, I’ve started one of the sleeves. But as you also might be able to see, it’s kind of a mess right below the shoulder — the pattern told me to switch to double-pointed needles, and I blithely did that, but my gauge definitely changed and got looser. I remembered after awhile that I could just knit the sleeve using the magic loop method, and the bottom part of what I’ve got there looks fine. But I think I’m going to rip the whole sleeve out and do it over with the magic loop method so the tension is even. After the holidays, that is!

Some of my holiday knitting can’t appear on this blog, but Pat is fully aware of the scarf I’m knitting in anticipation of his visit to the east coast this winter:

I am insanely happy about how this is knitting up. Pat picked the pattern from a couple of different reversible-cable scarves that I scouted up on Ravelry — yes, that’s right, it’s reversible! It looks identical on the other side, which I’ll make sure to show off to you once it’s a little longer. It’s the Deliah Scarf by Bobbi Padgett, a designer who has several lovely reversible-cable scarf patterns that you might want to check out for your own holiday knitting! The yarn is just gorgeous, too — it’s “Sporty Rambo” from Alpenglow Yarn, so named because it’s 100% Rambouillet wool. I’d never heard of that wool variety before, but it’s awesome: merino softness with targhee springiness. The colorway is “Deep Space Blue.” I picked it up at the Southern California Handweavers’ Guild Weaving and Fiber Festival a few weeks ago. I was relatively restrained there this year; this is the rest of my haul:

That thing on the left is a mystery skein, a cone remnant that I picked up for $5. You can see it’s got little rainbow flecks throughout it, which is what sold me. The lady it came from said she didn’t know its yardage or even its fiber content, but I suspect it may be a wool-linen or wool-acrylic blend; it seems denser than wool on its own. That lovely blue yarn in the middle is from Alexandra’s Crafts in Silverton, Oregon; it’s called “Baby Silver Falls,” and it’s a superwash/bamboo/nylon blend. It’s very shiny and drapey, and it should be hard-wearing from the 10% nylon. The colorway is called “Gunsmoke.” And on the left is a little packet of sari silk fibers that I plan to try to incorporate into my spinning one of these days!

And speaking of spinning, I finally have another handspun project on the needles:

This is the Lilac Wine cowl by Amy Christoffers. It’s a free pattern and dirt-simple; just a long cowl in a 1 x 1 rib. I bothered to learn the tubular cast-on for it, though, and that was sure a pain in the ass. Definitely do the two foundation rows back and forth before you join in the round; I think it would be literally impossible not to end  up twisted otherwise! I spun this yarn from merino fiber I purchased in Seattle last winter, and I considered more elaborate patterns for it, especially since it’s a solid color and might work for lace — but its airy, springy texture really seemed to want to be a big snuggly cowl. Now that I have proof of concept, this project is being largely ignored in favor of my holiday knitting, but I hope that I’ll finish it in time to enjoy it on the east coast in January! Wish me luck!

This is What Denial Looks Like

Yep. I told you last time that I was pretty sure I wouldn’t have enough yarn to finish my Semele, and here I am running out with less than 20 (increasingly short) rows to go. I had to see it through to the bitter end, though; I didn’t want to give up if I really did have enough yarn.

And here, friends, is what crazy looks like:

That’s right: I frogged the whole damn thing. I could, of course, have just ripped back a little past the center and put the turning point earlier, but that would have made the finished article significantly smaller, and would have wasted something like a full quarter of the skein. So instead, I’m going to knit this all over again in exactly the same size but with size 5 needles instead of size 6s.

The fabric is definitely a little denser than I’d ideally like, but I have faith that it’ll open up plenty in the blocking stage. Wish me luck!

I also have finally finished spinning that merino fiber I bought in Seattle:

Isn’t it gorgeous?? I have about 450 yards of a light, fluffy sport weight yarn here. It’s certainly enough for a lace shawl or scarf, but because of its sproingy texture I’m considering a long, snuggly cowl instead. We’ll see! It’s been awhile since I had a handspun project on the needles, so I’m eager to make a decision and get started.

I have, however, also started another new project:

This is the beginning of River Crossing, from Cecily Glowik MacDonald’s new book Landing. I’ve been a fan of her clean, classic designs for awhile now, but this is my first time actually knitting one of them. This is a pretty simple top-down raglan cardigan, with a wide textured collar and button band. It seems like a very versatile, wearable piece, and the simplicity of the design allows this gorgeous gray from Hazel Knits to stand out. The yarn is their Piquant Lite in the “Nickel” colorway, and I was worried that it would be a little too lightweight for this design, but I got gauge in my swatch, and the yarn plumped up a bit in the blocking stage, so I think it should work. Wish me luck!

Desert Dawn Scarf

Pat’s anniversary scarf is finished, but he’s too shy to model for you. I love the combination of colors! They’re meant to evoke the colors of dawn in the desert, where we spent our anniversary. It’s just a simple side-to-side garter-stitch scarf, and I wish I’d been able to make it a little wider, but I was using up leftovers here and was limited by the amount of yarn on hand. Someday I’ll make him a bigger and more fully-featured scarf, but maybe not until we move somewhere with more of a proper winter than southern California.

I’ve also gotten halfway through the merino fiber from Seattle that I’ve spinning. My schedule this semester hasn’t left a lot of time for spinning, so it’s been going slowly, but I LOVE the way the yarn is coming out. It’s a soft, bouncy heavy fingering / light sport weight, and I’m going to end up with a little less than 500 yards of it. I’m open to suggestions, if anybody has a thought about what I should knit with it! I don’t think I’d ever spun pure merino before — I always gravitate toward fancy blends, even though they’re more of a pain to spin because the various fibers in a blend always behave differently. But, surprise! Spinning with pure merino is lovely and smooth and quick. Yay!

Last time I alluded to a possible sweater tragedy, because I was deeply worried that my Acer cardigan was going to be too big. But now that I’ve finished the back and fronts and joined them at the shoulders, I’ve tried on this in “vest” form and determined that it’ll be fine. It’ll have a little bit of ease, but I won’t be swimming in it or anything. I contemplated knitting the sleeves from the top down instead of from the bottom up like the pattern says, but I ultimately decided to take the lazy route and just do what the pattern told me. Since the sleeves are knit in the round, I can still try them on as I go, just not with quite as much accuracy and convenience as I could if they were being knit from the top down while attached to the body of the sweater. My one act of rebellion is to knit the sleeves using the magic loop method, because it’s less fiddly than using doublepointed needles. I guess given the title of this blog, I should maybe think twice before pitching my doublepointed needles out the window now that I’ve learned magic loop… but… no.

I also have some new projects to show you:

This is Veera Välimäki’s Stripe Study shawl, knit in Tosh Merino Light in colorways “Amber Trinket” (yellow) and “Saffron” (reddish). Among the things that are awesome about this shawl is that once you get your mind around the basic construction principles, you don’t need the pattern anymore — so it feels like it’s coming directly out of your brain, which is super cool. Pat is unconvinced about the asymmetry, though; he keeps saying things like, “wait, is it just going to be like that? you’re just going to have a lopsided shawl?”

And what you are looking at here is a minor knitting emergency. I woke up on Friday morning and realized that I was meeting a baby in 8 days that I had not knit anything for yet, so I’m banging out this tiny cardigan as fast as I can. I needed something (a) in worsted-weight yarn, so I could finish it quickly, and (b) tried and true, so I decided to try the Ribbed Baby Jacket by Debbie Bliss, which I’ve never personally made before but which has over 3000 projects on Ravelry. The yarn is Tosh Vintage, which is superwash — important for babies! The colorway is “Crumble” and I loooove it. Wish me luck!