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.

Gloves

These are gloves:

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I guess I should say that is a glove. Since there’s clearly not two. I’ve reached the rows of my swallowtail that have nupps and suddenly each row is taking forever! Purl 5 together… brutal. This is my distraction. Simple 1×1 ribbing on nice pointy signature double pointed needles.
It’s OK. You can call me fickle. I can take it.

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.

A lame project

I feel a little silly even showing this to you guys. It’s really sort of a nothing project. But, I figure, I made it and it’s an FO, so, in the interest of full knitting disclosure, here is my coffee cozy.

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I made this back in late October (I know, I know, that was now 2.5 months ago, I’m behind) when I taught a class at For Yarn’s Sake on how to do intarsia. The pattern is Junkies Java Jerkin by Marjorie Walter.  I wanted a project that was small so as not to scare people off, but also one that involved using a fair number of bobbins to really give people a chance to get into the technique.
This little gem uses 9 bobbins, which is a lot to manage, but it’s only 15 rows tall so it’s not going to take forever to do. I think this guy took about 3 hours.
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There are actually two argyles on the cozy, one on the front and one on the back. I have a picture of each, though, as I’m sure you’ve noticed they are identical. There are two, I swear.
I’m not sure what yarn this is made from. I just grabbed scraps from the bin of scraps we keep at the shop. They are all worsted weight and probably all wool, but I can’t tell you brand information.
Overall it was a cute little project and a good way to practice intarsia if you’ve never done it before. I use a reusable insulated mug for my coffee, so this guy lives at the shop on display.
Other people might have bigger, more interesting FOs over at Tami’s.

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.

Friday Slipper

That’s slipper, singular, not slippers. I only knit one. You guessed it. It’s a sample for the shop. These uber-cute slippers were in the last issue of Knitscene. You know, the issue that was so popular that it’s completely sold out in North America. That issue.

The Friday Slippers by Kristen TenDyke are super cute and very fast to knit up. They are designed to be knit with super bulky yarn and size 9 and 13 needles. The smaller-than-average needle size makes nice dense slippers that feel like they have some substance to them. They really do wear more like slippers than socks.
That button is from my button jar. I think it might have been the spare from an old sweater, but I can’t be sure. I love the contrast of the orange and blue.
I made this sample with Spud & Chloe Outer in colorway Cedar. The super bulky yarn is 65% wool 35% cotton. It’s very soft, but feels like it will be very strong. I did find it difficult to knit super bulky yarn (especially one with so much cotton) on size 9 needles. It was hard on my wrists and I had to take frequent breaks.
I cut it really close on yardage. I wanted to get one slipper (in the smallest size) out of a single skein–60 yards. I was so close that I literally could not bind off the last two stitches. I ended up having to thread my tiny tail through the last two stitches and tack it down. I think I hid it well. If I had had 61 yards I would have been golden.
The soles are worked in a variation of the linen stitch meaning they are double thick and nice and strong.
There are lots of short rows in this project, so if you have never done them before this would be a great low-commitment project to practice on. Especially because you never have to unwrap your wraps (the trickier part of short rows.)
Once again things have ballooned out of control here and I am staring down the barrel of 12 WIPs with signs that more will be added soon. Help?

Dinner in the Eiffel Tower

I wish this was an exciting post about how I whisked myself away to Paris for the week to actually have dinner in the Eiffel Tower, but it’s not. It’s a post about how several weeks ago I finished knitting the shawl that is called Dinner in the Eiffel Tower by Jessie Dodington. Almost as glamorous right? I know.

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It is Ms. Dodington’s only design and it’s very pretty. I did make a few modifications to make the knitting easier. I started with a garter tab to even out the first lace section and keep an even border on each side. I also replaced the “ridges” section with another repeat of the lace pattern. This is partly because I love lace and partly because I heard from some others who made it that the ridges weren’t as stretchy as the lace and made the shawl pull in a bit through that section. Finally, I changed the plain bind off to a pico bind off because what shawl isn’t improved by a pico bind off.
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The yarn I used is Manos of Uruguay Silk Blend. It’s a single ply 70% merino 30% silk DK weight yarn. It’s heavenly soft and once you block it it drapes very nicely. The colorway is creatively named 3019.
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This shawl is a little too small to wrap around and stay without a pin, so I’ve been wearing it with this great pin by Plover Designs.  The neutral color of the pin and the yarn mean that I can wear this with pretty much everything in my wardrobe, and I have been wearing it a lot. Even though it’s a single ply yarn it hasn’t pilled at all. Overall, the shawl makes me make this face.
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Class

I’m very excited because I’m going to start teaching knitting classes at For Yarn’s Sake in October. In October I’ll be doing a class for the October Dream In Color Kit (I won’t know what this is until the kit is revealed) and a two-part class on colorwork.

In order to get ready for my teaching debut, I decided to watch a master at work. Anne Laird is a teacher at For Yarns Sake who is phenomenal and loved by all. Tuesday I sat in on her class about the garter tab cast on for starting shawls. It was lots of fun. The choice of projects for the class was either Summer Flies or Dinner in the Eiffel Tower. I chose Dinner in the Eiffel Tower. I love it. I’m already in Section 4.

Dinner in the Eiffel Tower

I’ve done the garter tab cast on many times, but I loved being in a class because it let me observe how Anne runs her classes and I got to chat and have fun with some wonderful people.
I’m knitting this up in DK weight and it feels like it’s flying. Should be off the needles within the week.