A long time coming

I recently cast off a project that has been on the needles since June of 2010. I think anyone who has been knitting for a while (almost 10 years for me) has these linger projects. Ones that get picked up, a few rows added, then put back down over and over. Mine is Scarf with the No. 20 Edging from “The knitted Lace Pattern Book,” 1850 from the book Victorian Lace Today by Jane Sowerby. It’s a book with extremely beautiful lace based on traditional Victorian patterns.


I started this project right after I started working at Yarnia and made my first custom yarn blend.  I used one strand of silk, one strand of cashmere, and two strands of bamboo. Each strand was very fine, so the overall weight is probably a light fingering.
The construction of this stole is quite unusual. The first scalloped edge is knit from bottom up like a skinny scarf. Then, stitches are picked up along the long non-scalloped edge and the middle panel is knit at a 90 degree angle from the edge. Next, the second scalloped edge is knit down the length of the scarf like a kitted on border working it together with the live stitches from the center panel.
If you’ve ever used Yarnia yarn, you know it’s not actually plied, each of the strands sit next to each other on the cone and the knitting experiences is like holding several strands of yarn together. This makes the risk of splitting higher than usual and and in a lace project where you’re using larger-than-recommended needles it makes for slow going. I’m guessing that’s part of why this kept getting set down–it took a lot of focus, and I just don’t have as much time to dedicate to projects that need constant attention.
In the end, it turned out beautiful. My mom claimed it the last time she was up, and it’s a little fancy for my wardrobe so I didn’t object. Every project in this book is gorgeous, so I will probably cast on another soon… and hopefully get it finished with less delay.

Saroyan

I took a major hiatus from blogging for almost a year. While I’ve been at it (more or less) since January I’ve mainly been relying on my backlog of knits from 2013 to fuel the posts. However, I’ve hit the point where I only have 4 well photographed finished projects left to show you. (Keep your comments about whether some of the other projects I’ve shown you have been “well photographed” to yourself.)

Finished in July of this year is my Saroyan by Liz Abinante. I’ve also made Liz’s Traveling Woman shawl in 2009 and both patterns are great. I started it because I was going to be teaching a class on shawls knit side-to-side but it was a summer class and filling them is hit or miss. There weren’t enough takers, so we had to cancel. I got 3-4 repeats in to learn the pattern, but stalled to work on other projects once the class got canceled.


It languished for over a year until I finished the last commute project I was working on and went rummaging for something that would be commute appropriate. I found the old Saroyan and after a few weeks on the train I had a new scarf.
The fun thing about this pattern is that you get to choose the depth based on how many increase repeats you do. and because it’s knit side to side if you weight your yarn along the way, you can use up all your yarn. My version is 6 increase repeats deep, and 8 straight repeats in the center making 20 leaves total (counting the 6 decrease repeats on the other side.)
The yarn I used is Plymouth Yarn Suri Merino in the aptly named colorway 687. It’s a blend of 55% alpaca and 45% merino and it’s got lovely drape. My best guess is that it took just over 300 yards. I’ve already warn it a few times because fall is definitely in the air here. I’m one of those perpetually cold people, so a new wooly scarf is just exactly what I need.

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.

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.

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.

A very bright scarft

When last I showed you my first weaving endeavor it looked like this:

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That is my 10″ Cricket Loom all warped and ready for weaving. They yarn it is warped with came with the loom as practice yarn to get used to the process. The loom also came with a color picture tutorial for warping and weaving. I followed the tutorial and it was really pretty simple to get the loom warped up.
It only took me a few days to weave the scarf. I could have easily done it in one day but I only let myself work on it for an hour at a time. Here is my very first woven project.
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It is not without mistakes. There are several places where the weft went over/under more than one strand of the warp. I must remember to be careful on my next project to make sure I’m going through the center of the opening between the warp strands. The edges are also very tight compared to the center. I still need to research the best way to combat this. Any ideas?
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These colors are very bright and high contrast. I understand that that makes the learning process easier, but it also means that I probable won’t wear this scarf that often. The green really is quite electric.
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I have two more finished projects completely off the needles and one more that is so close I can taste it. I should have a nice parade of finished-object posts ready for you.
On a sadder note, the Kitties went to the V-E-T today and I learned that one of them has to have a minor surgical procedure to remove a bad tooth. I was warned when I first took her in after adopting her that she was high risk for having bad teeth and it’s actually pretty amazing that she made it to 4 years old without having to have any removed previously. Still I don’t like the idea of subjecting her to the anesthesia and the ordeal of a day-long vet visit (the one hour visits are bad enough.) Here she is with her sister (who was given a clean bill of health) cowering under the chair in the exam room.
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For all the trouble they give me when I try to get them in the carriers at home, once we get to the vet they refuse to come out and then once the top is taken off the carriers they dash under the chair to try to hide. The vet-teches are really good-natured about getting down on their hands and knees to wrangle them. Send good thoughts on the 17th–surgery day.

Cabled Scarf

I finished the cabled scarf I’ve been working on for the past week and half or so.  Here’s my “I’m happy to be modeling my new scarf” picture.

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And here’s my “It’s 80 degrees and I’ve got wool wrapped around my neck” picture.
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The pattern is #8 Cabled Scarf by Elena Malo from the Holiday 2008 issue of vogue knitting.  The yarn is Knit Picks Gloss DK 70% merino wool and 30% silk.  The colorway is called Robot.  It grew like mad when I blocked it.  I knit the scarf to about 5 feet long but after washing it was over 6 feet.  I like longer scarves anyway, but I’m glad I didn’t make a sweater or something that needed to be fitted instead.
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Overall I like it, but it’s too hot to get that excited about a wool scarf.  Also, it’s not reversible so I have to pay attention to whether it’s “right-side up.”
Only 8 more projects on the needles.
Go check out the projects on Tami’s blog.

Spectra

Tragedy struck yesterday. My trusty laptop was overheating to the point of shutting itself off. I assumed that the fan was either clogged or malfunctioning or that the innards had finally gotten so full of cat hair that it decided to give up. I took it to the apple store expecting them to tell me the would either clean it out or install a new fan. Imagine my surprise when I was told that my hard drive was in the process of dying a slow but inevitable death.

Now I am a marginally savvy cookie and I backed up everything to my external hard drive before taking it in. Because of this, I didn’t feel too bad when they told me I’d need a new drive. I bought the extended warranty, so even though Lappy is almost 3 years old he would get the new drive for free. Bonus: they no longer make 250GB drives so I’d be getting 500 at no extra charge. This was all sounding pretty good until Appleman tells me that, because of the long and agonizing death Lappy has been suffering, he may not have been backing my data up properly at all. Perfect.

I was supposed to get him back today to and I would be able to see if my external dive actually contains any data (I store as much as I can in the cloud, but all my bar outlines are on that drive… Or I should say, are maybe on that drive.) Appleman called me back today to say that the drive replacement went well, but when they ran Lappy through the stress test, his board failed and must also be replaced and then he must go through the stress test again.

Now for some good news: we took a practice bar exam today and my score was passing! Theoretically this means I can pass the real exam on the 24/25. WOOT.

Also, Spectra is done and blocked.

I’m not sure if I mentioned this before but Spectra sort of started out as a bet between Ryan and I. We were in Twisted and they had a store sample using the same color of Zauberball for the wedges (I lost my tag so I can’t tell you what that color is) and Ryan thought it looked pretty cool, but difficult to make. I told him it was cool (it’s Stephen West after all) but really not that difficult. “Really?” he said, “you could makes this?” His tone was a little too incredulous for my taste and I immediately boasted that I could easily make it. At this point Ryan bought me the yarn and challenged me to make a Spectra. Challenge accepted.

BAM
BAM
BAM

If there is a winner here, it’s clearly me. I got free yarn. Proved my awesome knitting prowess. AND now I have a Spectra.

The non-zauber yarn is Cascade heritage silk. It’s lovely to work with. I did run out of it a bit early, and so my Spectra only has 84 rather than 86 wedges. (This has no affect on my victory!)

This is the first time since December I haven’t had something by Stephen West on the needles.

This brings my WIP total down to 9.

Go check out Tami’s.

Cabled Scarf: a history

Have you ever looked down at your knitting project and thought: why am I knitting this?  I don’t remember ever wanting to knit this.  I don’t know how this ever made it on the needles.  I was thinking that this evening as I was working on my creatively named #08 Cabled Scarf.  I started wondering how I ever came to be knitting it in the first place.  As far as I remember, this is what happened.

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A long long time ago (December 2008) I got my hands on the Holiday issue of Vogue Knitting and must have added the pattern to my Ravelry queue.  I must not have loved it too much, because it stayed in my queue mostly forgotten until late 2010.  At that point, Knit Picks decided to close out the Robot color of it’s Gloss DK yarn.  I decided that I had to have some of it before it disappeared, but felt like I needed a “reason” to buy it.
Turning to my Ravelry Queue, I discovered this scarf pattern which would “allow” me to buy six balls. Into the cart went the yarn.  When it arrived, I oohed and ahhed and squished and squooshed and then put the balls in the stash where they marinated for almost another year.
Then, this last December, I decided that the one type of project I wasn’t currently working on was a cabled project (never mind the 12 others I had going at the time.)  Deciding I had to have a cable pattern on top of all my others, I turned to my queue for inspiration.  Imagine my surprised delight when I realized that I had both the pattern and the yarn to make this scarf.
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It curls like mad right now, hopefully blocking will straighten that out a bit.
I cast on immediately after the discovery and happily knit half the scarf very quickly feeling extremely satisfied working the 32-row cable chart.  After about 30 inches, the charm wore off.  In my excitement over the cables, I must have forgotten that I actually hate knitting scarves.  Scarves are basically never ending swatches.  They get boring.  This project went in a bin, and was pretty much ignored from January until now.
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Now that I’m trying to whittle down the number of WIPs I’ve got going, it’s come out of the bin and progress is being made once again.  Next time I get the urge to use a particular technique, remind me to do it on a project with some shaping, will ya?
Check out the other projects over at Tami’s.

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.