1 Hour Herringbone Cowl

Be forewarned, the 1 Hour Herringbone Cowl takes significantly longer than an hour to knit up. I used this pattern in a 2 hour knitting class and most students had about two inches of fabric after two hours. That being said, that’s still some pretty quick knitting!

 

I used slightly more than one skein of Malabrigo Chunky that I’ve had in my stash since college. Stefanie Japel‘s pattern is very easy to follow. There are just two rows that you alternate to make the herringbone pattern. The chunky yarn paired with the stiff stitch makes a fabric that is very warm and plush.

 

The colorway of this yarn is Violetas, but my skein was much more purple than the ones I have seen on the shelves lately–they seem to have made the color much more blue over the years. The slight variations in this skein look really great in the herringbone pattern.

I stuck this away and used it as a Christmas gift this year. I frequently make projects because I want to knit them, not because I actually need them. Those go in the closet for when I need a last minute gift. These days, so many people are having babies that I should probably throw some baby things into the emergency box. I’ve knit 3 projects on pretty quick deadlines recently. And I’ve got 2 more to plan.

I wanted to knit this to try out the herringbone stitch, but I knew it would be going in the box. I like long cowls that can be doubled up. Maybe someday I’ll double the number of stitches and make myself an extra cozy version.

Rock Island Glamour Shots

Two weeks ago I showed you pre- and mid-blocking shots of my Rock Island shawl but it hadn’t dried so I didn’t get to show you any “glamour shots.” Now its off the blocking mats and looking gorgeous.

Rock Island

 

This Jared Flood pattern was first released in April 2011 and I first cast it on in May 2011. Yes, that’s right, it was on the needles for 3 years and 8 months… It’s not that slow it knit, I promise. You knit the lace edge first as a long strip then pick up stitches along a long edge and knit the body of the shawl up to the center back incorporating decreases up the center “spine” and at the edges to form the triangle.

Rock Island

It’s 72 repeats of the edging before you get to pick up the body of the shawl. I knit about 20 and then the shawl sat for quite a while. I finally picked it up and decided to finish November of 2014. It didn’t get continuous attention because it’s intricate lace (patterned on both right and wrong sides) and needed lots of focused attention until getting to the garter stitch body.

Obligatory shawl-on-bush shot

Once I got through the lace and into the garter stitch, this turned into my commuting project and took about 3 weeks of train rides to wrap up. On Ravelry I’ve titled my project “El Diablo” which is what some of the other knitters started lovingly half-lovingly referring to this pattern as. With the lace patterning being executed on both sides a dropped stitch is basically a sanity killer. I used lifelines for every 10 repeats on the edging and had to use them more than once. I used them every 4 rows on the body lace because the rows were so long. Luckily I never had to use one of those.

Rock Island

This is definitely in the running for most difficult pattern I’ve ever completed. This aran sweater might be the only other thing that comes close. I’ve mentioned a few times that I’m trying to whittle down my old languishing projects. Putting this one to bed leaves 7 more projects that were cast on pre-2014. Hopefully I can keep up the momentum. Don’t ask about the crochet blanket.

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.

Shapely

I know that when I focus I can knit up a sweater in 3 to 4 weeks depending on how complicated it is. I don’t know why then I always end up spending at least 6 months to make one. I’m just not good with project monogamy. I know I would have more things to wear if I could focus on one project at a time, but I am fickle. (So maybe I do know why it takes me so long to finish things…) Here is my latests 6-month sweater.


That is Shapely Boyfriend by Stefanie Japel from the 2011 Deep Fall issue of knitty.  I taught a seamless sweater class on it at For Yarns Sake last spring and worked through it in advance of the class. The class focused on the shaping of the body, so I didn’t bother to finish the sleeves before the class. Once the class was over it went into hibernation–hence the 6 months to finish.
The only alteration I made to the pattern was to shorten it. As designed, it’s a below-the-bum sweater but I tend not to like that look unless it’s a looser coat-style. For something I’m going to wear all day as part of an outfit it prefer waist-length styles. Because I shortened the cardigan I made fewer button holes than called for. Other than that, I knit this exactly to pattern.
The yarn I used is Malabrigo Rios in the colorway Teal Feathers. I did not behave like a good knitter and alternate skeins. If I were teaching I would tell all my students that the must alternate skeins, but in my own personal knitting, I take risks. Luckily my skeins were very well matched and I didn’t end up with any striping. I used just under 5 skeins, but if I had made it as long as recommended I would have needed to break into a 6th.
The yarn is super soft and I love that I can just throw it in the washing machine and dryer. The magic of superwash. I love it. The buttons were cheap ones I got a Jo-Anns, but they work really well with the sweater I think. I finished back in August, so it didn’t get a lot of wear right off the needles. This past winter it saw a lot of wear though. It’s experienced some mild pilling, but nothing surprising for a 100% merino yarn, and nothing my sweater stone can’t easily take care of.
My current knitting continues at a snails pace, but I still have a backlog of projects from last year that I can show you.

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…

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.

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.

Knit-a-long

May marks the beginning of the second year of the monthly knit-a-longs at my LYS For Yarn’s Sake.  Each month the shop picks a project and hosts some time once a week to work on it, get help, trade advice and modifications–it’s lovely.  I haven’t participated in all of them but have done quite a few.

Last May it was Jared Flood’s Rock Island.  It’s extremely intricate double-sided lace.  I got about 12 repeats into the border–you need 71… I’m planning to go back to it now that school is over and I can focus on things like double sided lace.  Here’s what I have:

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Pathetic, I know.

June was not a month I participated.  The project was the Radian Yoke sweater by Wendy Barnard.  I love this cute summer tee and plan to make it eventually, I just didn’t have the time or (if you can believe it) the right yarn.
July and August were devoted to the same project.  The Lissajous Socks by Cookie A.   I’m still actively working on these.  Actually, “actively” might be a bit strong.  “Reluctantly” is more accurate.  Now that the knit-a-long is well over I’ve only been working on them for an hour a week at sock hour at the yarn shop.  I have one complete and I’m almost through the big chart for the second one.
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Turns out, slow and steady does NOT win the race.
 

September was also a month I participated.  And also a project I have yet to finish.  I’m also still working on my Dahlia Cardigan by Heather Zoppetti.  This one is so close to being done I can taste it.  All I have left is the left front of the cardigan.  I don’t have a photo since finishing the right front, but I did snap one after I had finished the back and sleeves.  Hopefully I will be showing this off as an FO soon.
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October was another intense lace project–the True Love Stole by Wendy Johnson.  This was a project that a lot of the knitters had a hard time getting into (the chart is a 45-row repeat!) and I doubt I’ll ever really sit down to make this one.  I do think it’s lovely though–just too fiddly for me currently.  Maybe someday I’ll want something really fiddly and I’ll come back to this one.
November and December were devoted to the Larch Cardigan by Amy Christoffers.  I didn’t get in on this project either because finals were just heating up for fall term and I didn’t have the time.
January was scheduled as a “catch-up” month and I spent some extra quality time with Dahlia–after you finish the lace back it’s a never ending sea of stockinette.
February was the first project that I actually finished (don’t judge!) and only because it was a hat.  The Rustling Leaves Beret by Alana Dakos was a nice quick knit and allowed me to use up some silk-alpaca handspun I was itching to find a project for.
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Yeah for small victories!
 

March and April was another two-month project with a twist.  We got to choose to either make the Gnarled Oak Cardigan or the Wildflower Cardigan both also by Alana Dakos.  Some crazy women decided to knit both since we had two months.  In two months I didn’t even manage to finish the back piece of the Wildflower.  I don’t have a picture of my progress yet since right now it’s just a big slab of stockinette.  All of the fun is on the front of this one.  When I get something more interesting than a rectangle of stockinette I’ll show it off.
Now, year two is kicking off with a beautiful little shawlette from Ysolda Teague–the Pear Drop.  Do you think I will be able to finish within the month?

Glamor Shots

Oeste came off the blocking matts last week but the weather has been absolute crap–like 3 inches of rain in two days crap.  Today it finally got nice and I was able to get out and get some good picture taken.

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It’s extremely long.  It’s easily much taller than me and I’m 5’8″.  If you are a very short person you might want to make it a little smaller… I don’t know how you would go about downsizing it though, it would probably take a lot of math.
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It takes me a minute or two to put this on because it’s so long and I’m weirdly anal about getting the points to lay where I want them.  It’s worth it though because it looks pretty darn cute all wrapped up around my neck.
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The yarn is the luscious Malabrigo Sock.  I’ve had some in my stash for quite a while but never used it.  The shawl club was the perfect opportunity to finally give it a try.  The colors were perfect together–I love Stephen West’s color sense–and the pattern was unique and fun to try.  There are a million ends to weave in though.  You’ve been warned.

Backsliding

So after starting the year off strong blogging every day for the whole month of January, I find myself backsliding into my old lazy-blogger ways.  Only wanting to post when I have a finished project to show off.  Well after a month-long absence, here I am.  And I’ve got something to show.

I’ve mentioned several times that for, Christmas and my birthday, Ryan signed me up for the Stephen West Westknits Shawl Club.  (This is reason number 792 that Ryan is awesome.)  Since December I have received an exclusive pattern plus yarn to complete the pattern in exclusive colors all designed by Stephen West, my favorite knitwear designer.

I’ve already shown you the December and January installments and I love and wear them both.  Neither of them compare to the February installation.  The yarn for this installment was Malabrigo Sock.  It’s 100% merino awesomeness.  The colors were Chocolate Amargo

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This is actually a Malabrigo color that anyone can buy, it’s not exclusive to the club.  This pisses me off a little because the club was advertised as 100% exclusive.  9 exclusive skeins of yarn and 8 exclusive skeins + 1 non-exclusive skein are not the same thing.  The club membership definitely added a premium to what the standard cost for the yarn would be and that premium must be for the “exclusive” factor.  If you’re only going to have 8 exclusive skeins, say 8, not 9.  
and Oeste
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The pattern for February was the extremely unique Oeste (the yarn was named for the pattern.)   I love the look of this shawl!  I think it’s so unique.  It’s constructed by making 7 mini-shawls then making the body separately and attaching the mini-shawls to the body.  The instructions say to seam them in, but I attached them as I bound off the “steps” in a way similar to a three-needle bind-off.
It’s currently blocking.  I can’t wait until its dry.  It came out extremely long–almost 7 feet tip to tip.
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It’s still wet, so the colors are a bit darker than they will be once it’s dry.  I keep walking over to feel it and see how dry it is even though I just laid it out about 25 minutes ago.
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It’s a good thing I finished when I did.  I cast off last night.  This afternoon when I got back from the clinic I had this waiting for me in my mailbox:
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Hello March package, it’s nice to meet you.