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.

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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.

Cool Stuff

Cool thing number 1: I made a few small blog improvements since last post.  See those pink circles under the “Follow Me” heading over there on the right?  Click on any of them to find me on the various sites they represent.  See those “share” buttons down at the bottom of the post? Click on any of them to save/share anything from the blog.  To add those two things took me about 3 hours… html coder-extraordinaire I am not.  Each < and / had to be checked and rechecked.  I’m pretty proud of my meager victory.

Cool thing number 2: I finished Pear Drop. I love it.

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The pattern is from Ysolda Teague’s book Saturday Treat which has some pretty freaking adorable accessories in it.  To knit this pattern, you sart with the edging and knit it side to side, then you pick up along the top of the edging and knit the body of the shawl up decreasing to make the crescent shape.
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I used Fyberspates Scrumptious Lace yarn in colorway Midnight.  The yarn is 50% silk 50% merino–in other words, absolute heaven.  The silk gives it beautiful sheen and drape and the merino ensure that it’s still warm and soft.  I “split” the skein with a friend that I knit with–gave her half the price of the skein for half of the yardage–because the shawl only needs about 275 yards for the small size and a full skein is over 1000 yards.  I weighed my leftovers when I got done and I have 25.6 grams left, so theoretically I could just eek out a second one if I wanted.
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Cool thing number 3: Finishing the Pear Drop means that I now ONLY have 10 projects currently on the needles.  I know that that sounds like tons to some people but I haven’t had so few in a long time.  My (probably unreachable) goal is to get it down to five and keep it there.
Cool thing number 4: Everyone else’s finished projects linked up over at Tami’s Amis.

So close

I’m so close to being done with law school folks!  I can taste it.  Only one final exam stands between me and a JD.  I just finished a hellish exam in partnership taxation today and I’m rewarding myself with an evening of knitting before I hit the books again tomorrow.  This is what’s currently grabbing my attention at home:

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This is the last installment from the Stephen West Westknits Shawl Club.  The pattern is called Cumulonimbus.  I’ve been making nice progress on it because it’s pure and simple garter stitch and that is all my brain can handle during finals season.
I’m going to hunker back down with my garter stitch for the rest of the night and revel in the fact that I can now forget everything I know about Subchapter K.  Only 4 more days until I’m no longer a student.  I will not miss taking finals one bit.

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.

Yum!

My newest installment of the Westknits Shawl Club arrived yesterday.  Of course I cast on immediately.  The new pattern is Arroway.

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It’s garter stitch stripes (lovely and squishy) for most of the body with colorwork arrows around the bottom edge.  The green is Stephen West’s exclusive colorway.  The white/black is apparently exclusive to the yarn company hosting the shawl club, but not exclusive to the club members.  The green is called Moss Gatherer, the black/white is Newsprint.  Both are Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock 80% wool, 20% nylon.
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I was seriously just thinking that I needed to add a little garter stitch to my WIPs for knitting at home after long school days.  This will be perfect.  Best gift ever!

100th project

According to Ravelry, I completed my 100th project this month.  I know that there are a few small projects (charity hats, blanket squares, etc.) that I didn’t log as projects, but everything substantial has been entered into Ravelry since I began knitting in 2007.

Unlike many more veteran knitters I have never been a knitter “without” Ravelry, and honestly I don’t know if I would love it as much without having such an amazing source of information and inspiration constantly available to me.  It’s so fantastic that if I’m struggling with a pattern I can instantly find tons of other people who have worked through it before and help me out.  I can choose a pattern and instantly know if there are errata.  Wonderful.

Here is my 100th project.

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This is Sharktooth.  It’s the first pattern from the Stephen West Westknits Shawl Club.  Have I mentioned before that I have the most amazing boyfriend in the world?  For Christmas and my birthday (which fall way too close together for my personal enjoyment) he splurged and signed me up for a membership in the club.  For 5 months (starting in December) I will receive one pattern every month along with the yarn required to make the pattern.  Overall there will be 9 skeins of yarn meaning some of the shawls will take more than one skein.  All of the patterns AND the yarns have been designed by Stephen exclusively for the club.  I have always loved Stephen West’s designs and his color sense has always appealed to me so I’m super excited to be in the club.
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The yarn for the first installment was Madelinetosh Tosh Merino Light in a colorway aptly named “Stephen loves Tosh.”  It’s impossible to capture the subtle nature of the colors of this yarn.  The predominate color is sort of a rust or bronze color but there is blue ranging from very dark navy-black to cobalt in some places.  Of course, being Tosh Merino Light, it’s buttery soft.  However, it does kink back up on itself a lot making it a pain to work with at times.  It’s a problem common to single ply yarns and it’s so soft and so beautiful that I mostly forgave it for the hassel.
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The club installments are shipped on the 14th of every month and I have given myself permission to tear into the packages and cast on immediately as each one arrives even though on of my goals for the new year is to finish up as many of the projects that have been lingering on the needles as I can.
I have my reservations about the way the club is being run.  I feel that the yarn store Stephen West has chosen to coordinate the club (because he is living in Europe) is not necessarily dealing fairly with the club members.  They have come out and said that there have been “mistakes” on their end and that it’s all due to the fact that the club is large and hard to coordinate.  I will wait until the end of the club, trying to give them the benefit of the doubt, before I make a full evaluation of their level of service.  I do hope they have managed to work the “kinks” out and that it really was just a matter of organizing a large shipment for the first time.
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Speed Knitter

I love working with bulky yarn.  I think chunky things are so cozy and I think big fat stitches are adorable.  Plus there’s the added bonus that whatever your knitting feels like it knits up at warp speed.  Especially if you’ve been working with finer yarn for a long time.

I’ve been working a very complex sock for a long time and haven’t even turned the heel on the first sock yet.  *sigh*.  When Irina Heemann asked for testers for her Bulky Rhombus Shawl Shoulderette, I jumped at the opportunity.   I mean, a whole shawl in less than 200 yards of yarn?!  Perfect relief from sock-knitting hell.  In three short evenings I had produced this:

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Beautiful, no?  The pattern is basically just a chart, there’s not much written instruction at all.  That being said, I found the chart very easy to follow (all wrong side rows are purled straight across.)  We testers did find a few errors in the chart, but hopefully this means they’ve been cleared up for all future comers.

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The pattern, as written, doesn’t have the pointy edge around it.  That was my own addition.  I was worried that the edges would curl under, even after blocking, if I left them “raw” so I crocheted the peaked border on after I finished the knitting.  I used this Triangular Edging which worked like a charm.  I didn’t do any calculations before hand (dangerous!) I just started in one corner and it just happened to “fit” the shawl perfectly.

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I used some Knit Picks Swish Bulky left over from this monstrous blanket.  The colorway is called Hawk.  I think it’s the perfect neutral grey to go with my black winter jacket without clashing with any of my clothes.  I’ve said before how much I love this yarn, but I’ll reiterate again that it’s so plump and soft and smooshy and one-hundred-percent pleasant to work with.  It does pill a little, it’s merino, buy a sweater stone, get over it.  (Also, it’s superwash.  If you make a garment with it and you put it through the washer, it will come out huge.  Instead of freaking out, throw it in the dryer for 30 minutes.  It will pop back into shape just fine.  Have faith.  Throw it in the dryer!)

I love the magic of blocking.  Here it is just off the needles/hook:

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And here it is stretched out tight to block:

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It went from a bunchy ugly mess to the lovely flowy drapy shawlette you see modeled above.  Blocking = Magic.  Have you blocked anything lately?

Love/Hate Hat

First off, what do you think of the new look?  I’m still deciding.  It’s a much happier look than the old brown.  It makes me smile, but doesn’t that sort of counteract the grump-theme that is my blog/life?  Weigh in.

Second, Spring Breeze, which I introduced to you last time, is live on Ravelry!  I debated whether or not to charge for it.  Part of me thinks that no one will want such a simple project designed by me, a totally unknown loser-hack.  The other part of me got all indignant at those thoughts and told myself that I worked hard to put it together, spent time considering each element, carefully wrote out the instructions, tried to lay them out in a way that would be accessible to any knitter (as opposed to the indecipherable scribbles I knit my test version from), organized a test-knit, charted, graphed, and did math… that’s got to be worth something.  I settled on $2.

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Even if you don’t have a Ravelry account, you can buy it by clicking this link and using paypal.

Third, the love/hate hat.

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This is my second Jacques Cousteau Hat, the first is here.  I hate knitting this hat.  The pattern is totally fine, there’s nothing wrong with it, it’s easy to follow, it’s exactly what you’d expect to find from a ribbed hat pattern.  The hatred is entirely personal.  Also, possibly my fault.  Both times I’ve knit this pattern, which calls for DK weight yarn, I’ve used worsted weight but continued to use the recommended size 4 needles because I wanted a “dense” fabric… Read “dense” and finger-numbing, wrist-pain inducing, impossibly tight stitches of death.  I know, I did it to myself, but it still created an intense feeling of hate.

I knit this one holding two strands of Pattons Kroy Sock held together.  The colorway is called “Gentry Grey.”  I would call it “Nothing-Speical Grey” but maybe that’s just the hate from the project carrying over.

The reason this hat holds such sway over more than 2,000 knitters is probably the way the decreases spiral at the top.  (That, and it qualifies as “manly.”)

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The decreases are worked by knitting two stitches then passing one stitch over the other.  The stitch that has been passed over then strangles the other stitch making it nearly impossible to knit on the next row.  Normally I love doing increases/decreases because they break up the monotony of straight knitting, but I dreaded each of these.

Where is the love? you ask.  The hat is for Ryan.  He’s even modeling it, which is why you get so much hat and so little model in the picture… camera-shy that one.  Ryan loves this pattern.  I knit it for him once before.  He wore it non-stop during the end of winter/beginning of spring last year, then sadly lost it just as fall was turning to winter this year.  (Yes, I totally still measure my time in school years.  I can’t comprehend the beginning of the year being in January, my new years start in September thank you very much.  Such is the life of a perpetual student.)  He was very sad about the loss.  To cheer him up I went to the stash, dug out some more gray yarn and cast on.  There’s the love.  I hate this pattern, but Ryan’s a pretty wonderful dude and I’d knit it for him again and again. (With a bit of under-breath muttering.)

My first pattern!

Hi all.  I’m really excited to show you this today!  It’s the first pattern I’ve designed!  I call it Spring Breeze Shawl.

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I designed it because Yarnia is going to start offering a class on knitting triangle shawls and I’m going to teach it.  I can’t tell you how excited I am about this! (Though the exclamation points might be giving you a clue.)  I kept the pattern mostly stockinette because the class will be focusing on basic construction elements.  This would be a great first shawl/lace pattern because it’s geared toward beginners.

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This sample will be living at Yarnia, hopefully generating interest in the class.  It was knit from less than one cone of one of the Yarnia house blends called Noni.  The yarn is two strands gray merino, two strands soft almost-white-but-really-seafoam-green merino, one strand lavender rayon, and one strand lurex to give it a little sparkle.

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I’m currently looking for people to test knit the pattern, so if you’re interested leave me a comment and I’ll shoot you a free copy of the pattern for you to check my work.  It takes ~ 350 yards of fingering weight yarn (any cone of Yarnia sock yarn should work) and size 8 needles.  The finished shawl is about 48″ wide by 22″ deep.  I think the big swath of plain knitting would be good for variegated yarn because the stitch counts across the row change so fast it should combat pooling and the lace at the bottom is simple enough that it wouldn’t be overpowered by a strong yarn.

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Once this has been tested and I’m fairly sure there are no glaring mistakes I’ll put it up on ravelry and come back and add a real life pattern link.  SQUEE!

Akimbo

Recently, I cast off another store sample for Yarnia. I made Akimbo since we carry most of Stephen West’s patterns in our shop. All of his patterns are fabulous. This is the second one I’ve made (the first was Botanic) and it is well written and well charted.

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The pattern calls for a fingering weight yarn, but I made mine in a DK to give it some more weight/size. I created the yarn at Yarnia. The main color is one strand of spice colored silk, two strands of pumpkin colored wool, and one strand of variegated cotton that changes from Dijon yellow to spice to rust to brown. The contrasting color is one strand warm brown alpaca, one strand reddish brown wool, one strand cold brown rayon, one strand warm brown rayon, and one strand cold brown silk.

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I used size 6 needles instead of size 4 because of the heavier yarn I chose. The shawl grew about 20% after blocking which was surprising, I didn’t expect plain garter stitch to grow so much.

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This was a really fast knit, it only took me so long because I was mostly working on it in Yarnia when things were slow. Right now it’s on display there to help give people some fall/winter knitting inspiration. It will come back to live with me in the Spring.

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I would definitely recommend this pattern to anyone who wants to try a basic triangular shawl without also having to keep track of a lace pattern, or someone who likes to be warm, but doesn’t like the look of lace at all. I am anticipating knitting many more of Stephen West’s great patterns.