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!

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!