Elektra off the needles and blocked

Somehow I managed to go five months without a post even though I actually have been knitting and have a few things to show off. I could resolve to do better, but you know how effective that’s been in the past… This July I finally cast off the Elektra I’ve been working on since October of 2012.

Elekra

This Romi Hill pattern is from her 7 Small Shawls Year One collection. I started it, like so many other projects, because it was part of a knit-a-long that I joined. The knit-a-long only lasted one month and when it was ended I didn’t really continue to give the project any attention. My finishing kick this year made me pull it out and finally get it off the needles.

Elektra

The pattern is beaded down each of the “spines” and around the lace motifs. I used cheap size 6 seed beads from Michaels. The match the yarn color I used very well so they blend in and just add a bit of sparkle. The yarn is Dream in Color Baby which is unfortunately discontinued. The yarn is 100% merino lace weight and has an interesting “crunch” in the texture. It’s still quite soft but also somehow a little rustic. The colorway is called Aqua Jet and has an overdyed kettle quality to it.

Elektra

I used the crochet method to attach my beads, and while it definitely makes the project go slower than normal but it was much more manageable than stringing hundreds of beads in advance. Like all of Romi’s patterns this one was very well written and easy to follow and I had no troubles with it at all. Now I just have to wait for fall scarf weather to reach us. We’re having a long summer here in Portland and even though it’s October its still reaching the 80s here on the regular. Soon enough.

Shawls and Shapes with Veera Välimäki

I don’t know if you follow either Veera Välimäki or Joji Lacotelli on their social media, but if you have been you’ve likely seen updates about their two-stop US tour. #veeraandjojiknitamerica2015 has been blowing up my instagram/twitter for the past week. I was very lucky that Happy Knits in Portland was one of the stops. I was even luckier to snag a spot in one of Veera’s classes: Shawls and Shapes.

Veera class

 

The class was about how to create different shawl shapes, from basic triangles to squares, circles, crescents, Vs, and other asymmetrical shapes.  Then we went over ways to incorporate color, lace, and texture into the various shapes. Of course I left bursting with ideas! As a special treat, the class came with a free download of Veera’s pattern Neon Beast, which I am now dying to cast on.

Veera Class

 

It’s obvious that Veera is really passionate about knitting and designing and it was really fun to get the opportunity to hear about her approach to designing and style. I’m not sure if I will turn my “practice” shawl into something real or rip it back. It was fun to experiment, but I was using leftover balls, so any finished shawl would likely be on the small size. Generally, I prefer to learn on my own at a pace of my choosing, so I don’t often sign up for classes. I’m so glad I did this time. Worth it.

Imagine When… First FO of the Year

 

Technically, this is my first FO of the new year because I cast it off on January 1, 2015. Of course I started it on December 1, 2014 so a considerable amount of the knitting was done “last year.” Still, given the slowness with which projects generally come off my needles, one month is pretty darn good.

 

Imagine When

 

 

This was a extremely fun knit. It is 100% garter stitch with some yarnover rows. The shawl is knit side to side and shaped with short rows. This means that even though it’s “just” garter stitch there still enough going on to keep the knitting fun.

 

Imagine When

 

The pattern is Imagine When… by Joji Locatelli. I have a few of her patterns in my library, but this is the first one I’ve knit. It was clear and easy to follow. I really appreciate it when designers give stitch counts at the end of a section so you can check your work before moving on and Joji does.

 

Imagine When

 

The yarn I used is Knit Picks Stroll Kettle Dyed (sadly discontinued) in the colorway Eggplant.  The Knit Picks headquarters is only about a 45 minute drive away and a few years ago they had a sale where they sold a lot of sample yarn they had hanging around (much of which was already discontinued colorways or yarn lines.) They were selling the yarn BY THE POUND. I managed to get there early and got many full bags of yarn (usually 10 skeins) for pennies on the dollar. This was part of that haul.

 

Imagine When

 

The yarn requirements for the pattern are pretty spot on. I had to use part of a second skein to get through the last few rows. There’s not really an easy way to end early or resize this particular shawl, so definitely make sure you have at least the yardage called for before casting on.  Also, I always forget just how much garter stitch grows during blocking. This came off the needles looking pretty puny, but it grew to about twice the original size after a good soak and stretch.

 

This is the absolute last FO I have to show you. I had such a back log of un-blogged projects that I managed to get by for a really long time only posting nice shiny FOs. No longer. I’m really (really really) trying to eat away at some projects that have been lingering on the needles for years a while and so am hoping I can direct some focused attention that way before an uncontrollable bout of startitis hits.

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.

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.

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.

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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