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Neck

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.

Calystegia

I spend a lot of time on Ravelry.  Less than I use to, but I still keep it up in the background on my laptop at home and usually check in on the new “hot” patterns several times a week. I frequently find myself wondering about why some patterns become runaway hits and other seemingly equally-wonderful patterns don’t really get off the ground. Calystegia Cowl by Lankakomero is a pattern that doesn’t have a lot of love on Ravelry, despite being pretty wonderful.


This pattern is well written and an extremely fun knit. At $4.50 it’s reasonably priced. I don’t know why thousands haven’t been made. It’s a pattern I would seriously consider knitting again and I almost never re-knit patterns unless I’m making a gift that has been specifically requested.
My mom asked me to knit her a cowl for Christmas 2012. I ran out of time, so she got a box with a lovely skein of Handmaiden Casbah Sock in colorway Saltspray and a promise that a cowl would soon follow. Soon was not exactly accurate, as I boxed up the finished cowl just in time for Christmas 2013.
It’s tall enough to fully cover your neck and just loose enough not to make your feel like you’re being choked. The Casbah is 80% merino, 10% cashmere, and 10% nylon so it’s amazingly soft and perfect for having right up next to your face.
On of my favorite aspects of this cowl are the wrapped stitches that form the bottom of each shell. I’d never done anything like these wraps before and I really like the effect it gave this pattern.
I used about 60% of my skein of yarn, so unfortunately I won’t be able to get a second cowl from one skein, but I may have enough left over for some coordinating fingerless mitts. Maybe I can get a jump on Mom’s Christmas 2014 present…
Don’t let the fact that this hasn’t been made many times (according to Ravelry) fool you. This pattern is really wonderful! I don’t know this designer or anything about her and I didn’t get anything for this post, I just really like the pattern.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.
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