Quicky

Sometimes, you just want to feel like you’ve accomplished something and finishing a knitting project can be just the thing. At times like that, it’s nice to whip up a quick little project that you can take from start to finish in just a few hours. Marian is just the ticket.


Knit with super bulky yarn and size 19 needles this seed stitch cowl only takes about three hours. I love that it hangs a bit lower for a single-loop cowl. I don’t like having things right up against my neck.
Mine is knit with Malabrigo Rasta in colorway Azul Prfundo. I’ve always wanted to use Rasta for something, but it’s hard to find a use for such a bulky yarn. I don’t know that I would want a hat or traditional scarf out of such fat yarn. Mittens and slippers would be way too unwieldily. Something about this one-loop drapey cowl is just perfect for this nice fat yarn. I think it will be a popular go-to in the winter.

Persephone

Every knitter had those meh projects. Projects you work and work on, and when you finish you look down and just think… eh… not for me. Persephone was that way for me. I taught a class last March about cables and this was the featured project. The original is a scarf, but I got so tired of the cables after about two feet that I turned mine into a a cowl with buttons.


I should have known I was never going to be able to finish a whole scarf in this pattern. 1) I dislike knitting scarves in general because they feel like never-ending swatches. 2) I dislike scarf patters that are not reversible because I am anal and the fact that the “wrong” side shows drives me bonkers. 3) I dislike heavily cabled projects because they make my hands crampy when I knit them. 4) This pattern is not charted, it is only written, and I strongly prefer to  All of these things and problems related to my personal knitting preferences, not problems with the pattern.
 I didn’t write down my modifications, but they were dead easy. Basically I stopped knitting the body after 2 feet or so and then in the final garter stitch portion I threw in a row with 3 evenly spaced button holes, then finished the garter stitch portion. Then I played around with the best placement for the buttons and decided I liked the “folded over” look. I sewed on the buttons and ta-da.
The yarn is Madelinetosh DK (I know, you’re not surprised) in Moorland. It blocks out in cables amazingly! Their plied yarns are not the softest (except for Pashmina) but they have amazing stitch definition and they are plied nice and tight so they wear forever without looking ratty the way that some yarns get after a while. Basically the yarn was fantastic, but I still feel meh about the finished project.

Swallowtail

So the stashdown is not going exactly as planned. As of February I have increased my stash by 191,969 – 191,682 = 287 yards. Now, when you take into account that I acquired TWO sweater’s worth of yarn in January, it’s clear I actually moved a lot out of my stash, to only increase by 287 yards.

Also, I should point out, I didn’t pay for any of the yarn. One sweater’s worth was part of my birthday present from Ryan. The other was purchased by my dad because the sweater will be for him.

One of the projects that helped me move some yardage out (about 500 yards) was my Swallowtail Shawl by Evelyn A Clark. I loved every minute of making this.

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I mentioned before, the first time I made this pattern early in my knitting career, it was a bit too hard and I found the experience unpleasant because I was making so many mistakes and having to tink back hundreds of lace stitches fairly often.  This time it was completely smooth sailing.
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Forgive my bleary face, I had just woken up.
 
I prefer to wear this pinned with one of my shawl pins. The one in the picture is my favorite. It’s from Plover Designs, a local Portland craftswoman. I have several from her.
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The yarn I used is Malabrigo’s new Rastita line. It’s made the same way as their super chunky Rasta, but in a DK weight. It’s a 100% merino wool single ply, but the single has been slightly felted to cut down on fuzziness and make it a bit stronger. The color I used is called Cereza. It was a complete joy to work with.
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Now I’m working on a heavily cabled cowl. It’s slow going because of all the cables, and also not going to move that much yardage out of my stash, but after it’s done, I’ll be starting a sweater and that should clear a good 1,200 yards. On the other hand, our Madelinetosh order is due in at the shop any day…

Elektra

Remember how I mentioned how once the knit-a-longs are over, I tend to not focus on the projects so much, in favor of new exciting things… Meet exhibit B.

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This is what I have of Elektra by Romi Hill. It’s from her Year One collection of 7 Small Shawls. I really love her year one and year two. Year three is about half released so far and I’m not loving it so much, but I’m very glad to have the first two years.
It’s a generously sized beaded shawl. It’s written for fingering weight yarn, but I’m using Dream In Color Baby which is a heavy lace weight. I’m using the baby because it’s easier to get the beads on the slightly finer yarn. See the beads?
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This one is in deep storage for a while (which is a shame because it’s on my size 4 signature needles.) I just have quite a lot of projects that are more important than this one. I’m sure I’ll get back to it someday…

Up to date

If yesterday was about physical cleaning and marshaling my stash, then today has been about electronic organizing. I spent the day getting a bunch of networking set up for my (seemingly never ending) job hunt. When I was satisfied with that, I got my Ravelry notebook in order. I now have pictures and stash information for all of my Projects.

I’m pretty good about getting photos of finished objects (thanks Ry!) but terrible at the in progress photos. At least for the moment, I’m all caught up. Would you like to see one?

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I know that lace never really looks good until it’s blocked, so it’s probably not that interesting to you yet, but this is my current obsession.  It’s Evelyn A. Clark’s Swallowtail Shawl done in Malabrigo Rastita.  I have made this before in lace weight, and have been meaning to make it again in a heavier weight ever since.
The lace weight version I made came out rather small. I decided to follow the directions for the DK weight version this time so that my shawl will be nice and big. So far it’s coming along nicely.
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The first time I made this, it was my first lace project and I remember thinking it was very hard. This time it’s giving me no trouble at all. Just goes to show what 4 years of experience can do for you. I’m hoping to have it done by the 17th so I can show the students in my Garter Tab knitting class. I have 5 of 14 repeats done… we shall see.

Quick Scarf

My mom called me not that long before Christmas, and asked me if I would please make a scarf for a friend who did her a really big favor. Anyone else and I would have said absolutely not, but I have a soft spot for mom.

I didn’t stop me from using chunky yarn and big needles though. Since mom said she’d get the materials (it’s not that big a soft spot) I got some luscious Misti Alpaca Hand Paint Chunky. It’s 100% baby alpaca and so great to touch. At the shop when we’re slow sometime I wander over just to feel this yarn.

Next I grabbed a Barbara Walker stitch dictionary, and this is what I came up with.

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All of the photos are terrible. Sorry. I almost forgot to take them at all until we were getting ready to take mom back to the airport. I slung the scarf around my neck and snapped a few shots. The lighting was terrible and I was trying to take pictures of my own neck. Forgive me.
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I had thought about writing this up and putting it on Ravelry, but I don’t have a single good photo of it. Hard to sell a pattern that way. Maybe I’ll make it again, it did go very quickly.
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The colorway I used is called Shiraz. It’s not represented particularly well in any of those photos, but I’d say the middle one is the closest. Two hanks of the Misti Alpaca yielded a scarf about 5 feet long. Not super long by scarf standards, but since alpaca grows and grows and never really bounces back, I figured starting short was better than starting just right and having the scarf stretch down to the floor eventually.

Major Fail

Did you get any awesome yarn-y things for Christmas? I know some of you did because there was a parade of husbands/children/siblings through For Yarn’s Sake in the past few weeks picking up gift cards and fun treats.

I got a very generous gift card to the shop from Ryan (THANK YOU). I will use it to pay for a very large order of Madelinetosh that I had special ordered in a moment of “order it now, figure out how to pay for it later” weakness. The Dana Cowl Pullover will be mine!

My brother is not one for shopping. I discovered long ago that if I want presents from him, I have to buy what I want and invoice him. It works out pretty nice. When he grumbles about the bill I just say “next year you can come with me to the yarn shop and…” and about that time he reaches for his checkbook. This year, from him, I picked myself up a skein of Malabrigo Rasta in Azul Profundo and the new Malabrigo 4 book.

I expressly did so because I wanted to make the Uroboro cowl that Stephen West designed for the collection. Here is what it looks like in the book.


I love the deconstructed look and the giant cables. How glamorous I would look in that cowl I thought to myself. And it only takes one skein of Rasta. How perfect. (Can you hear the “dun dun dun”?)
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Mistake number 1: I cast on using the crochet cast on. While it’s normally a very serviceable cast on, it totally ruins your project if you use it for this. You see, you dorp you stitches when you get to the end of this to make those long floats and you let them drop all the way through the cast on. Well, stitches can’t drop through a crochet cast on because the crochet chain is locked in place. This means you have an unstreatchy crochet chain ringing the bottom of your cowl. The only solution is to start over. Of course, you don’t realize this until you are completely done with all the knitting.
Mistake number 2: Thinking that because the pattern said it could be done with one skein of yarn, it could be done with one skein of yarn. Two thirds of the people who have made this on Ravelry have commented that they ran out of yarn. I was so excited to get my awesome cowl that I didn’t read the Ravelry comments. I ran out of yarn with 4 rows and the bind off left to do. I decided I could live with it being 4 rows shorter at the top and bound off early. Which is of course when I discovered mistake number 1.
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Mistake number 3: Not thinking critically about the pattern picture. Look at it. The model is literally holding the cowl up! That’s because with so many dropped stitches it has no structure to hold itself up. When you wear it it collapses in on itself and you can’t see the lovely cables. All you see are the loose strands. It looks like you just wrapped an unknit skein of yarn around your neck.
I love Stephen West, but this design gets one star from me. My goal for the evening is to find a suitable replacement pattern for my lovely new skein of yarn.

He’s a good man, I swear

He just wanted a Slytherin scarf. I can’t explain it. Everyone knows Slytherins are a bunch of jerks. I mean aside from Voldemort, the entire Malfoy family, Bellatrix Lestrange, etc. there’s the likes of Pansy Parkinson who constantly torments Hermione and Marcus Flint who cheats at quidditch.

Even knowing all that, Ryan still asked for a Slytherin scarf. Maybe he just knows he looks good in green. I don’t think it’s because he hates mudbloods.

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The backstory: In For Yarn’s Sake we have a shop sample of a Gryffindor scarf. Ryan came to take me to lunch one day and saw the scarf. He really liked it and asked if I could make one. (Incidentally, it’s a stockinette tube. Yes darling, I can make that.) I told him I’d be happy to make him one. He asked for Slytherin colors. Who am I to say no.
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His good side
I didn’t follow a pattern for this because, um, it’s just stripes. I cast on enough stitches to go around a 16″ needle (50) and worked my first green stipe until it was as long as I wanted. That turned out to be 17 rows. Then I did 2 rows silver, 2 rows green, 2 rows silver. Repeat forever, ending with a big green block. Flatten the tube into a big long rectangle. Add fringe. Ta-Da!
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His other good side
The yarn I used was Cascade 128. A 100% superwash merino that knits up nicely to a bulky gauge. I used size 10 needles and got a fabric that drapes but is still dense enough to keep the cold out. The colors I used were silver and army green. It took 3 full balls of the green (I used up every last scrap making the fringe) and just over half a ball of the silver.
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Ryan gave me some nice model poses for a while.
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And a silly pose or too.
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But eventually he tired of sitting in the cold listening to me direct him on how to sit and how to wear his scarf, and the shoot deteriorated.
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Ah, true love.

Roam

Don’t be fooled. I know I’ve shown you a long list of finished projects recently. This may lull you into believing that I am some sort of super knitter, able to crank out projects at an envious rate. Untrue. I just have a stockpile of old things that have been done for a while but haven’t show up here yet.

Case in point. My Roam Cowl by Jennifer Dassau. I started this baby over a month ago but never got around to mentioning it.

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I’ll be honest, when I first saw this in this year’s KnitScene Accessories I wasn’t that taken with it. Then one of the other teachers at the shop taught a class on the mobius cast on using this as the class project. The class was completely full and everyone loved it. It was so popular, it was offered a second time and I snagged a seat in the class. The mobius cast on is certainly unique. I doubt I could have picked it up from just the drawings in the magazine.
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The mobius cast on results in knitting your cowl from the center out. Half of the cowl shows the front side of the knitting, and half of the cowl shows the back of the knitting. This is why it is very important to chose a lace pattern that looks good from the back as well as the front. In the picture above, the backside is on the right. I think it looks great.
The only thing I really don’t like is that it curls like crazy. There is no way you could get this to lie flat and open, which sort of defeats the purpose of all the lace.
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The designer put a very frustrating note in the pattern regarding the required yardage. She basically said that the sample was knit with 400 yards but it was close, so you might need more yarn. This is frustrating since the yarn she recommended comes in 400 yard skeins. (She recommended String Theory Caper Sock, one of my favorite sock yarns.)
I read a lot of project notes of people who ran out of yarn in the last few rows, so I decided not to use the String Theory. Instead, I opted for Malabrigo Sock which comes in 440 yard skeins of 100% merino wool. That gorgeous bright pink colorway is called Light of Love.
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I almost always wear long cowls like this looped double around my neck, both for warmth and to give me more range of movement. Doubling it up tends to obscure the lace anyway, so the fact that it curls isn’t really too annoying. Plus, new scarf for the winter. Of course, what I really need are hats and gloves since I have many many scarves and shawls, but such practical considerations mean nothing to my knitterly whims.

Calliope

According to Ravelry this has actually been off the needles since October 15, but it’s been hard to schedule a photo shoot in the daylight with my photographer (Ryan.) We did manage to find a not-rainy day last week, so, without further ado, I present to you Calliope’s Odyssey by Romi Hill.

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This was mostly extremely fun to knit. I say mostly, because I actually hated the two-color part. The two color part is done with slipped stitches so that you don’t actually have to carry both colors across a row. This is nice, except you sometimes are slipping 5 stitches which makes it very difficult to keep good tension. Especially on the purl side. And especially when you have to take into account the stretch  that will occur during blocking. Luckily there are only 32 rows of the two-color section and the rest of the shawl is an absolute delight.
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I used Sincere Sheep‘s fingering weight yarn called Agleam. It’s 50% merino wool 50% tencel and 100% awesome. I would happily make many more shawls from this yarn. The tencel gives it a sheen and drape that is to die for. The merino means that its very warm even though it’s light weight. The colors I used were Sakura and Winter’s Night.
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In looking at pictures on Ravelry, I decided that I tended to like the projects of people who used their lighter color for the lace on the bottom and the darker color on top. I decided to do mine that way. Plenty of people have made theirs with the lighter color flowing into a darker border. To each her own. I may have also been influence by the fact that I look horrible with pale pink next to my face, so if I wanted to use it, it had to be down on the border.
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This was the knit-a-long project at For Yarn’s Sake for September. The fact that I finished by mid-October is actually very impressive for me. I still have the original knit-a-long project from May 2011 on my needles somewhere. Don’t judge.