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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.

Tensfield

Please do not let the snow on the ground in these photos fool you. There is no snow in Portland, only cold, dreary, rain. We are just wrapping up one of the wettest Thanksgiving weekends in as long as I can remember.

Tensfield

This snow is actually from January… that’s how long it’s been since the photos were taken for the blog to the actual writing of the blog post. What is life if not a constant struggle to do better…

This is the Tensfield I knit last winter for Bob. The pattern comes paired with another version called Langfield, which is essentially the same hat but slouchy. Both patterns are by Martina Behm. I’ve knit several of her shawls patterns and this was equally well written.

Tensfield

Of course, the fact that it is a well-written pattern doesn’t mean that I didn’t manage to screw it up. At one point the instructions clearly tell you to knit “until 20 stitch before marker.” Well, I just knit 20 stitches and continued on to the next part of the pattern… which was much too soon. Once I realized my mistake (after rereading about 100x before I realized my error) it was easy enough to get back on track.

The yarn is Araucania Huasco DK. It’s super tightly spun so the yarn has a lot of “sproingy” bounce to it. It was fun to work with.

Tensfield

(I like that action shot of rummaging in the trunk.) The variegated yarn really makes it easy to see the unique construction and the different directions you work to all meet together at the crown.

I never much like to remake patterns. Too many good ones not to try something new. But since this pattern is written so that you can use any yarn and needle size that you want I could see re-doing it again in different weights to get a different effect. A super chunky one would be really cute and cozy!

Tannenbaum

I have not had a Christmas tree since I stopped living with parents at 18. I always traveled home to spend actual Christmas day with my family, so there always was a tree on Christmas day, but I haven’t lived with a tree in… a number… of years. Until now!


We put up a tree on Saturday. I’ve been so busy (at least in my mind) for the past so many years that it’s been a really long time since I felt like I had a Christmas season. Recently, Christmas has been a long weekend at best–a quick exchange of presents, one delicious dinner, some hugs and kisses, and back to work. Having a tree at home really makes it feel like I’m getting into the holiday.


This is also the first year that I’ve actually cut down a tree. Well, I didn’t cut it down, Bob did the actual cutting, but I was there and I held the top of the tree while the cutting occurred, so basically, I cut down the tree. We went to a tree farm about 30 minutes from where we live. One of the things I love about the area is how quickly you can go from city to country. The farm gave us everything that we needed–saw, piece of tarp to lay down in the mud so you don’t have to kneel in the mud, then they shook the tree and bound it up so we could throw it on top of the car. They even gave us the twine to tie it to the car.


That’s the tree shaker… It’s harder to see what’s going on in a still photo. Once we got the tree home there was a small amount of grief over getting it not to lean in the stand, but we got it.


Then we got the lights and star on.


Then the ornaments. My mom started a tradition the year I was born (I’m the oldest) of giving Christmas ornaments as a gift. He favorite ones to give are Hallmark keepsake ornaments. She sent mine to me this year. I had enough to cover the whole tree!


What a nostalgia trip. Also, when I was a kid my favorite movie was Wizard of Oz, so about 75% of those ornaments are Oz themed. I’m going to pretend that it’s not weird to have 9 wicked witches on your Christmas tree… Do you have a Christmas theme? (Intentional or not…)

 

Looking back

I can’t believe how long I’ve left this poor blog unattended! I’ll admit I’ve been so busy that it was completely forgotten until I got the notice from GoDaddy that it’s time to renew the domain name… Ooops. I guess it makes sense, given that my knitting has really dwindled as well.

2007

Looking back, I started knitting “for real” in about 2007. I finished 7 projects that year–including my first pair of socks and my first gloves. In 2008 I was on fire–22 projects complete (5 were baby sweaters, but still!) 2009 also fantastically productive–22 projects complete again.

2008/2009

Then came law school. In 2010, I still had a respectable year with 20 projects off the needles. Looking back though, I was making a lot of hats, cowls, and other 1 skein-projects. I’d go months without knitting then crank out a few hats.

2010

2011 was my banner year. I started attended a regular knit-night and the camaraderie and inspiration helped me to fully embrace the craft. I finished 32 projects that year including sweaters, shawls, socks, 2 blankets, learned both stranded color work and intarsia, and designed my first knitting pattern (and my second, and my third). I also started working at a yarn shop with a HUGE selection of luxury yarn and did some serious damage with my employee discount.

2011

2012 brought the bar exam and “real” job hunting. Turns out, as terrifying as the test is, studying for the bar exam mostly involves watches videos of lectures covering the same materials as many times as you can to drill the content into your brain. I finished 36 projects that year–all fueled by nervous energy. Many of them were sample pieces for the shop I was working in so a few were single mittens/socks for display. A respectable number of projects nonetheless. I also publish one more pattern that year.

2012

In 2013 I got that “real” job I was hunting for and knitting virtually stopped. I finished 13 projects that year. Almost all of them hats or fingerless mittens. I stopped working at the yarn store and rarely made it to knit-night. It was a brutal year in so many ways, and I just didn’t pick up the needles. I’ve never really gotten back into the swing since then.

2014

2014 was much more optimistic, any way you look at it. I had a better (though not perfect) job, better place to live, and more of a work-life balance. I finished off a lot of projects that had been floating around the stash for years–like 5 years–and it felt like a fresh start. 13 projects were finished that year but some were large–a blanket, a sweater, two giant shawls. My 5th pattern was published. Overall, I’ve got no complaints with 2014.

I had a similar year in 2015. Only 12 projects completed that year, but I loved all of them. Again, I cleared out more lingering UFOs–3 sweaters, 3 shawls. While I was feeling good about my knitting, I virtually stopped blogging about it. I guess it was just one too many balls to keep in the air and that’s the one that got dropped. The last time I blogged (in January!) I was still telling you about projects from July of 2015. I designed another pattern but never got around to publishing it. (Maybe 2017?)

2015

2016 has been… one hell of a year. I feel like my personal life is going so well while at the same time the world is falling apart all around me. Feeling both content and devastated has taken a weird emotional toll. So far I’ve got 10 projects off the needles.A small number, for sure, but for the first year in quite a while I’ve been knitting consistently again–not frantic bursts followed by long absences. Several of the projects I’ve focused on this year have contained large patches of garter or stockinette stitch. Most of my knitting these days happens on my morning commute. The simple stitch patterns not only make it possible to knit on the train, they also provide a soothing way to “wake up” on my way into the office.  Anyway, long story short, after a rocky patch, I’m finally starting to get back into the swing of things with my knitting. Maybe blogging will fall back into place as well.

2016

What is your knitting history? Did you ever hit a rough patch?

Edie spring t-shit sweater

Hi! Happy New Year!

I know we’re a few days in already but I’ve been slow to start this year. Something about the first just didn’t feel like New Years. After a quite few days that “new beginnings” feeling is starting to sink in and I feel like trying to clean house (metaphorically!)

I spent a day doing my traditional new years stash toss. Going through what I have to make sure nothing crawly has gotten to it in the last year, but also to remember and re-feel everything.

I also updated my Ravelry account with some things I’ve been lax in getting posted. 2015 wasn’t the most productive knitting or blogging year for me, but I did finish a few things I have yet to show you.

Edie

That is the Edie sweater by Michele Wang. Yarn recommended was the 100% wool Brooklyn Tweed LOFT. I’m sure that would make a great layering piece for fall and winter, but I wanted a summer tee. I substituted Rowan Panama for the LOFT.  Panama is 12% linen, 33% cotton, and 55% viscose. Perfect for spring!

I started knitting this because I was asked to teach the pattern as a class. As it turned out, not enough people signed up for the class so it didn’t end up happening. After that I put the project away for a long time. I found it this spring and thought it would be a good wardrobe addition so I set to work. Mostly I knit for the process and don’t generally care when things get finished. (If you’ve read any of this blog and can feel you rolling your eyes and signing “I know!”) This time though, I wanted the sweater.

The yarn is so comfy to wear. It feels nice and cool and soft. It’s not so comfy to knit with. Cotton and linen doing have the spriong that wool does and the lack of give is just murder on my hands. Especially on those cable rows.

Edie

The end result was totally worth it though. The viscose in the yarn is a bit shiny. The cotton and linen are not shiny at all so the knit fabric has a subtle depth of color.

I pretty much followed the pattern. My gauge with the Panema was a bit bigger than the pattern gauge. It worked out pretty easily that I could just follow directions for the size smaller and end up with the right size for me. The only “alteration” i made was to make the waist 3 inches longer. since I’m not wearing this as a layering piece I didn’t want it cropped.

Edie

I did cast on a New Year’s day project (I wasn’t that off my game.) It’s Fractal Danger by Martina Behm. I have the first 10 rows done!

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.

Market Jacket just in time for spring

The yarn store I used to work at hosts a monthly knit-a-long. Back in 2013, the January KAL was the Market Jacket by Tanis Gray from the book November Knits. The book has several sweaters that I plan to make eventually, including this one and this one.

I started the KAL as a way of hanging out with the knitters, but once the month ended I didn’t do much work on the sweater because I had other things going and it wasn’t a “priority” project. You’re thinking… Do you have an excuse for why every project takes you two years to finish?… The answer is yes, yes I do.

Market Jacket

 

Unfortunately crappy indoor light is all I have for you. This is a top-down raglan style sweater. There are cable panels down each front, each sleeve, and one down the back. Otherwise the sweater is stockinette with garter stitch borders. It’s a nice combination of mostly-mindless with some fun when you get to the cable panels.

Market Jacket

 

 

That sort of shows the detail of the cable panels. It’s hard to take a picture of a sweater you are wearing. Inside the cable panel is a bit of lace, just to make it that much more interesting.

IMG_1516

That’s not intended to be a picture of my breast… just another good shot of the cable/lace. The color of the yarn is just dark enough to make taking photos a pain. In real life the detail is actually quite easy to see. The yarn is Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Worsted in colorway Waistcoat.

Market Jacket

 

The only modification I made to the patter was to make the body of the sweater longer by 3 inches and to make the sleeves full length. To make the sleeves longer I continued the decrease row as established until the sleeves were wrist-length then I added the cuff. Because the torso was longer I had to add a few more button holes, keeping the same pattern as established to add the buttonholes required by the project.

Market Jacket

 

If I made this again, the only other thing I would change would be not to use YOs to make the raglan increases. I think they are pretty, but they make for not very stable shoulders. By the end of the day my sleeves have grown about 3 more inches in length and I have to shove them up behind my elbows. I think using a stronger increase, like a M1, would help combat the droop. There’s just too much stretch with a YO.

Market Jacket

 

This, plus the Wildflower Cardigan I finished in February make two new sweaters for the year so far. Of course, now it’s too warm for a wool sweater, so they’ll both have to get put away, nearly unworn, until next season. My train knitting right now is a lovely cotton, rayon, linen summer tee. Given my trend, I’ll probably get it finished just as summer is ending…

Wildflower Cardigan off the needs and blocked!

I really think my blogging frequency would improve substantially if I had a personal photographer. Sweater pictures are just impossible on your own. You either get crappy mirror selfies like so:

IMG_1400

 

Or, if you go outside to try to get some good light, you get the weird-angle mostly-boob shots like so:

WildflowerWildflowerWildflower

Color accurate, but not exactly great for showing off the new sweater. Putting the sweater on a hanger makes it look like a shapeless bag. I need to either get a dress form or blackmail a photographer to do my bidding…

wildflower

 

My current solution is to pack my sweaters around until I visit a friend I can beg to take some pictures. Meet the completed Wildflower Cardigan by Alana Dakos. The pattern is available individually through Ravelry, but it’s also part of the book Costal Knits which is full of gorgeous patterns. This is the first sweater from the book I have knit, but I could see myself wearing all of them!

Wildflower

I think the pockets are so darling! They’re not going to be much use for actually storing anything, but I love the little flower. The detail along the hem is pretty sweet also. It does curl the tiniest bit though, so if you are the type of person who is bothered by things like that, think twice. Watching it curl while I was knitting, I was worried it would be really bad, but it’s just the slight curl you see in the corner of that photo.

Wildflower

The yarn I used is Cascade 220 Superwash Sport and the color is Wisteria. I bought 12 skeins, but only ended up using a tiny tiny bit of the 9th. Like, all I needed from the 9th skein was a few yards to finish the side seams. I was pretty loose with my ends because I knew I had extra, so if I had been more conservative, I’m sure I could have squeaked it out with just 8 skeins.

Wildflower

The gauge listed for this pattern is very tight for a sport weight yarn (28 stitches to 4 inches.) To get that gauge, my fabric would have been bullet proof. I liked the fabric I got with size 5 needles, so I basically followed the instructions for the 36″ bust knowing that because my gauge was bigger I would end up with about a 40″ bust. It came out pretty much perfect.

When I showed the sweater to Bob he said: “You would think that it would look frumpy, but it doesn’t.” I think that’s a good note to end the post on.

Rose City Yarn Crawl!

Last weekend was the Rose City Yarn Crawl. If you are not lucky enough to live in a city that has a yarn crawl, its much like you’re basic pub crawl. You hop from shop to shop and taste a bit at each one. In Portland, they really go all out. Fifteen shops participated. Each shop offered a free pattern with purchase designed by the shop. The patterns are now available here. Most had trunk shows featuring local dyers, spinners, shawl pin and stitch marker makers, etc. There was a Mystery-knit-along and Mystery-crochet-along leading up to the crawl, and at each shop you could enter to win a prize basket. If you visit all 15 shops during the crawl, you get entered to win the grand prize!

Passports

 

Those are my mother and I’s finished “Passports” proving that we made it to all 15 shops. No prize baskets for either of us, but it was a lot of fun. The crawl is four days long, Thursday – Sunday, but because I was working we did the whole thing over the weekend. In past years there has been even more shops participating, but a few have closed down. Here is the upclose shot if you live in the PDX area and want to see all the shops in the area.

Passport

 

We collected all the free patterns and not a small amount of yarn. I also got a shawl pin, some project bags, stitch markers, and some purchased patterns. I haven’t had the time to take individual photos yet, but here is a photo of the haul all together.

Yarn Crawl

 

I want to cast on something new so badly! I’m still trying really hard to wrap up my lingering WIPs though, so I’m hoping my willpower holds out just a little bit longer. I put a new sweater on the blocking mat this afternoon (I’ll show you next post!) and if I can get two more projects complete I’ll feel good about casting on something new. I’ve been able to take my WIPs from 14 down to 6, and I’m trying really hard not to let it balloon up again. But with this pile of awesome looking up at me, how can I not!

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.

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