fbpx

Neck

Salute to Fractal Danger

Ladies and gentlemen, please pour one out for my lovely sweet Fractal Danger, taken from me (by public transportation) too soon! She was a darling of a little scarf. She was made from yarn that I hand dyed in March of 2009 at Bjorklunden with my college knitting club. You know, like all the cool kids were doing in 2009.

The yarn, Knit Picks Bare Gloss Fingering, dyed with KoolAid, waited patiently in my stash for the right project. At 70% merino wool and 30% silk the yarn has a real shine to it. The KoolAid dye created nice summery pastels that reminded me of a flowerbed. When I saw Martina Behm‘s Fractal Danger pattern, I knew this skein would make the perfect spring time scarf.

Sadly, I can’t really show her to you because somehow in the juggling of purse, backpack, knitting project, hat, mittens, and sanity on the train, this beauty managed to get left behind. All I have are a few selfies from right after it came off the needles–not even blocked–and a few pictures of it on the carpet just after the blocking pins were removed.

The pattern was so fun to knit. It’s actually a rare pattern I could see myself making again (something I normally dislike!) The scarf is shaped with short rows, so you are never working on that many active stitches at once. That makes it feel like the rows move really fast. (Anything that makes you feel like your knitting is progressing quickly is a special kind of satisfying.)

I was so happy with the finished object. The yarn didn’t pool or flash. It also didn’t look to pastel-cutesie. Before I started, I was a bit worried that colors might lean more toward sorbet than subtle. It all worked out, though. The scarf was beautiful. It was soft. And now it’s gone. I hope someone out there is enjoying it. Have you ever lost something you’ve knit?

Testing the Waters With Brioche

I’ve always really loved the look of brioche knitting, but I shied away from trying it for a long time. A woman working on a brioche hat once explained the process to me, but she did it so rapid-fire and moved her fingers so fast that I just nodded dumbly and accepted that that bit of magic was outside my grasp. But recently, I feel like pattern writers have re-discovered brioche and now beautiful patterns are everywhere calling to me. Just look at this Ravelry search for beautiful brioche patterns. I decided to test the waters.

Unfortunately, I don’t have many pictures of the cowl I made using Gina’s Brioche Hat and Cowl pattern by the Purl Soho team. (They always have really great basic patterns for trying out new techniques.) I don’t have good pictures because my grandma stole it from me before I could do a full photo shoot. Grandma is 92 and was feeling cold while the family was out one night. I was wearing my new cowl that I’d finished the week before. I put it around Grandma to keep her warm. She made several comments throughout the night about how she liked it and how warm it was keeping her. As we were getting ready to leave, she patted me on the arm and said “Thanks for the scarf” and turned and left. Thief! Don’t give her the benefit of the doubt, Grandma knows what she did.

I used two skeins of Malabrigo Worsted that I’ve had in the stash for something like 8 years. I love how soft this yarn is. Perfect for anything that’s going to be close to the skin. Of course Grandma would want to steal it. The green color is Vaa and the rose color is Pink Frost. I had about 1/3 less yardage than called for, so my cowl is only about 6.5″ wide rather than the 10″ called for in the pattern. Since I need to make myself a new one anyway, I think I will cast on fewer stitches to give a slightly smaller circumference, that way I can still get by with only one skein for each color.

I should not have let brioche intimidate me for so long. The new technique just took a little focus and time to get used to. I like that you achieve a two-color effect, but only have to work with one strand of yarn at a time. Is there a technique you’ve been hesitant to try?

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.

Bright Orange Honey Cowl

Continuing my breakneck catch up of things left unblogged, I give you… my November 2015 Honey Cowl. It’s made of the tragically-discontinued Cascade Souk.

Honey Cowl

I managed to snag two of the last skeins from my LYS after the discontinuing became official. The yarn is deceptive in that it has a rustic scratchy look to it, but it’s actually very soft to the touch. With the yarn in hand I went looking for a pattern that would work with the bold colors. I settled on this lovely but simple pattern by Antonia Shankland.

Honey Cowl

She has several really great cowl patterns, this being one of the easiest. I also really like Bubble Wrap Cowl and Tempo. This was a perfect brainless project for pulling out on my commute or in a spare minute. After reading the pattern once you never need to look at it again.

Honey Cowl

Orange is one of my all-time favorite colors and you just really don’t see very much good orange yarn at all. What is “good” orange yarn you ask? Basically anything that not hunting blaze colored. For some reason, most companies come up with one very bright orange and nothing in the red or yellow end of the spectrum. This lovely gradient hits all the high points.

I knit every last scrap of my two skeins and I spit-spliced the join between the two skeins so there was no waste. I followed the cast-on directions for the large size, and I do wish I had had a third skein to make my cowl extra-wide. With two skeins, it’s about 7 inches tall. A third skein would have brought it to 10 inches which would be super cozy. As it is, it still keeps my shoulders nice and warm when it’s tucked into my coat.

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.

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.

The lace debate

I tend to think of myself as a process knitter. I generally pick projects that I want to make, not necessarily projects that I want to have in the end. The one weird exception to this is lace. I covet finish lace objects. Love the intricate feather-light airiness. I just don’t love knitting it. I know exactly why. Lace looks like this before you block it.

Rock Island

 

That border is very intricate lace. There are no “rest” rows there are yarn overs and decreases on every row. Drop a stitch in that, and you’re screwed. And yet, it looks incredibly unimpressive. There’s just nothing fun about unblocked lace.

Rock Island

 

I love to stop mid-kint and take a look at what I’ve produced every so often, and with lace, it just never looks like you’re producing something worth all the effort you’ve put in. It’s not until you are completely finished and get a chance to aggressively block your project that you finally see the fruit of your work.

Rock Island

 

I don’t like waiting that long to finally see what I’m getting. I mean, blocking improves everything, but lace doesn’t look like anything before it’s blocked. I need more encouragement than that. And yet, I still find myself casting on lace projects. It generally leads to extremely enthusiastic beginnings when I’m all excited by gorgeous pattern pictures and a freshly wound ball of buttery lace yarn. I also get pretty enthusiastic about the end because I can taste the lovely lace I’m about to see bloom into life with a good block. The middle, frankly, is a slog. Every time I think about a new lace project I go through the same internal debate–do I want to start a project I know will feel like a toil through the long middle? Is the FO worth it, when the process is really what I love about knitting. The answer is generally yes. Life is a mystery. But seriously, look at the blocking photo!

Rock Island

 

How’s the progress on the crochet blanket you ask? Shut up.

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.

FO: Color Craving shawl

 

 

As with most knitting things in 2013/2014 I got behind on my Color Craving by Stephen West. This was his Mystery KAL for 2013 and I cast on immediately when the first clue was released in September. Then it sat unworked for months and months.

 

One of the main reasons it sat was because my center “holes” got off alignment and I was lazy about doing the repair. I think it’s sort of understandable given what the repair took.

 

color craving

Of course I didn’t notice my error until I was about 15 rows beyond it. So my dilemma was rip back 15 rows (100s of stitches per row) or tear out just the point of the shawl and re-knit it. I eventually opted for the latter and “dropped” the stitches down to the misplaced yarn overs and then knit those stitches back up to the row I was on when I discovered the error.

color craving

 

Ta Da! This became my public transit project for a month or so and I managed to get it finished. Given the size, it may seem like a poor choice for train knitting, but it scrunches up pretty small while it’s on the needles and the rows are garter stitch so there’s nothing that needs too much attention.

color craving

A lot of people expressed disappointment at this pattern as the clues were released because it’s pretty unconventional, but I feel like if you sign up for a mystery knit a long, complaining that you don’t like the pattern is pretty silly. Especially when Stephen West is known for being more “off the wall” than many popular designers.

color craving

I used MadelineTosh Tosh Sock for my shawl. The lightest color is Antique Lace, which is a perfect neutral cream. The dark brown is Whiskey Barrel and it an extremely rich mix of browns, tans, and a tiny tiny hint of blue. The red is Byzantine, and like Whiskey Barrel its so much more than the dominant color when you look close it has flecks of maroon, pink, purple, it’s just so rich! I know I’ve said it a million times, but MadelineTosh is definitely my favorite dyer.

color craving

Even though the pattern is not a conventional shape, it can definitely be worn wrapped around my neck like a plain scarf so it fits really well into my not-super-flamboyant wardrobe.

color craving

As you may have noticed, things are still under construction around here. There are more changes yet to come, but the holidays have me a little scattered. Look for more improvements after the first of the year. Also, all my knitting currently is all gifts for people who know about both my Ravelry account and this blog, so I’m keeping quite about my current projects until after the holidays. I’ve still got a few other things to tell you about between now and then.

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.
Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial