Sunday, August 29, 2010

Summer Catch Up

So I've taken a little blogging break here.  Maybe it's a summer thing, maybe I need a better direction here.  Really, a lot of the reason is that all my projects have been knitting ones so they get documented, photographed, noted, cataloged, linked, and oohed and aahed over on Ravelry.  Much of my purpose for the blog was just to have a great record of what I've made in one place.  For knitting Ravelry handles that perfectly.  For sewing, there's just nothing like it. 

So now it's time for a big catch up!  First here are my shawls & shrugs.  From top to bottom: Summer Flies in Handmaiden's Lady Godiva, Hibiscus in Kelpie Fiber's superwash sock, a Saroyan shrug in Sanguine Gryphon's Codex, and my second Daybreak in Sanguine Gryphon's Bugga.  The Saroyan shrug is a project I copied with a leaf lace edging from the Saroyan shawl.  All details are on my Ravelry project pages
I think I need a break from shawls.  I feel like making sweaters to my great surprise!

A few weeks ago I finished my last Loved Crown for the year.  Eight crowns for eight 4th birthdays!!  What a fun pattern.  I had so much fun coming up with different color combinations for all the kids.  All eight were made with Knitpick's Comfy Bulky

This last one was a birthday present for my niece who was turning 6. It's a combination of three patterns by Susan B. Anderson.  In her "Itty Bitty Toys" book she has a section of reversible toys.  I took the frog, sister, and the free Ribbit pattern frog and combined elements of each to make a Princess & the Frog reversible, like the Disney movie.  I think it came out pretty good!  I love the little details.
Made with Knitpick's Comfy Worsted.  My go-to yarn for toys, I have a ton of colors on hand.


Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Little Summer Prep

So what do I have planned for summer knitting? Um, more scarves and shawls of course!
If you're wondering when I'll have "enough" that won't come until I run out of patterns I want to make.... so basically never. I'm sure at some point I'll tire of lace and move on, but for now I really enjoy it so I'm running with it!

I'm constantly pairing yarns with patterns and thinking about what to knit next. Inevitably, I change my mind a few times before any actual knitting occurs, and there are always new patterns that often distract me too. But I'm hoping to knit up these yarns this summer -- such a pretty rainbow!

From left to right:
Handmaiden Swiss Mountain Mulberry/Tussah (worsted weight, Topaz color)
Malabrigo Sock (fingering weight, Indiecita color)
Sanguine Gryphon Bugga! (sport weight, Orchid Mantis color)
more Bugga! (Sharpshooter Leafhopper color -- yes they love the crazy names!)
Kelpie Fibers Superwash Sock (fingering weight, Name of the Rose color)

I love seeing the hanks all uncoiled

With some help from my ball winder and Tinker Toy swift they are all tidy and ready to go!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Finishing time - Silk and Sequins Scarf #2

It was my birthday recently and a few weeks beforehand my husband asked my 4-year old son what they should get for me. He replied, "I think mommy would like some yarn." So true :)
So one day they stopped at my favorite yarn shop, Loop, to buy some. Of course my son wanted to buy yarn in his favorite color -- pink! I think it would have been very funny to have witnessed those two shopping for yarn. But they did a wonderful job and picked out quite a winner.

The yarn is Tili Tomas' Disco Lights in the Hope colorway, a true splurge of pure silk with a thread of sequins running through it.

I immediately thought to make the Raha Scarf from the "Knitted Lace of Estonia" book (amazing book!) I've been itching to make some of the fabulous patterns in the book and while Raha is by far the simplest, I thought it could work here. It knitted up incredibly quickly (one of my favorite qualities!) but then I realized.... I hated it. Too dull, too much garter stitch on the edging, didn't show off the yarn at all, but mostly it just looked like a beginner's project. A simple pattern in a heavier yarn can often be a great thing, but not here. I think this pattern needed it's original sock weight, not worsted like I was using. Ripped out the stitches and sought out a new pattern.

I have used the Disco Lights yarn once before to make my Ariel scarf. Love that scarf -- I've worn it several times and I think the pattern was a wonderful match for it. I didn't want to simply repeat it, so I set out searching for something similar. I realized that it was the changing directions the stitches appear to have that worked so well in the silk. I said "appear" because it's just increases and decreases in the right spots that make it look like the stitches are flowing in different paths. I found just the right thing in another book, "Knitting Lace". This book takes a very old lace sampler scarf and charted and wrote out all 101 lace patterns used. I chose pattern #54. Raveled here

Aaaah much better! Thank you boys for such a lovely gift!

By the way both those knitting books (and many many more) are currently 40% off at!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Finishing Time - Sea Silk Scarf

Once I heard about a gorgeous yarn called Sea Silk that is part silk, part seacell, with incredible drape and shine that even smelled a bit like the sea, I had to try it. The fact that it's dyed by Handmaiden means that it comes in the most incredible colorways too. I now have several skeins but here is the first project I've finished with it.

The pattern is called Montego Bay and it really goes hand in hand with Sea Silk. It's just a simple lace mesh with fringe but it's just a perfect showcase for the yarn. One nice twist is that it's knit with straight ends but once finished it hangs as tapered points. The pattern calls for braided fringe and I did attempt it, but after the first braid I didn't want to do any more! I made my scarf a bit wider by casting on 47 stitches to start.
Raveled here

The colorway here is called Cosmic Dawn - quite an interesting combination!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Finishing time - Daybreak shawl

Daybreak shawl is done! I made it to match my raincoat above and of course it's finished just in time for it to be too warm to wear. Ah well, I'm sure I'll enjoy it in the fall. This is another of of the WIPs I've posted about previously. I started so many projects at once but now I'm finishing them all up in a hurry.

The pattern is Daybreak by Stephen West. The yarn is KnitPick's new Stroll Tonal in the Springtime and Kindling colors. I love tonals, I don't think I want to knit with solids ever again! Since I had a generous 462 yards of each, I was aiming for the medium size shawl but along the way I grew bored and cut out rows here and there and it ended up between a small and a medium. Since I really wanted to use it as a scarf with my raincoat I'm not sure what I was thinking aiming for it to be so big! Small would have been fine.
Raveled here

As usual, I couldn't help myself and I blocked the daylights out of it! I started out thinking I would just "lightly block" it to straighten out the edges, but then once I get out my blocking wires all that goes flying out the window.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Finishing time - Placemats

The last 2 weeks I've been all about finishing up my projects!
Here are the two place mats I pieced ages ago, quilted a while back and finally even the binding is done too. Once again, I left the hand sewing of the binding for my mom on her most recent visit. She's really much quicker and claims to even enjoy it. I need to remember to always have a hand sewing project ready for her!

My free-motion quilting on these is pretty awful. I just can't seem to get the speed/control down with that. Of course more practice could definitely help. I always seem to be going OK, OK, OK, big jaggedly motion, OK, OK, teeny tiny stitches, over compensate with overly large stitches, OK, OK... you get the picture.

I posted a few WIP pictures back here. This project is from a Connecting Threads kit and I don't think I fully realized just how involved they were. As I started cutting, the stacks of tiny triangles were piling up and I wondered if I was in over my head. In the end, I'm pretty happy with them even though they definitely aren't perfect.

I hope to make the coordinating table runner too. After that, I should have plenty of scraps to make a few (way simpler!) place mats to match. The kids are definitely not eating on these two!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Ochre Echo

A few weeks ago I posted about a ton of knitting projects I had in progress, all at once. I call that start-it-itis where you just feel like starting project after project, when the beginning is more fun than slogging through to the end. Well now I'm feeling a huge bout of finish-it-up-itis!

My latest finish is the Echo Flower Shawl (free pattern on Ravelry) that I made in Malabrigo Sock yarn in the Ochre colorway.
I LOVE this pattern. It has several traditional Estonian elements and I loved learning the new stitches for it. Raveled here

Some closeups...
Here is the flower repeat. It uses 2-into-9 and 3-into-9 stitches. Basically you turn 2 or 3 stitches into 9 by knitting into them extra times. It's different but not hard, and creates an interesting effect. It's the little circle holes with all the stitches radiating out from the center of the "flower".

Here is a closeup of the border. I do love a detailed border and this definitely qualifies! The little yarn blobs are called "nupps" and they add a neat textural element to the pattern. The nupps are made by turning 1 stitch into 9, then turning the 9 back into 1 on the next row. Voila - yarn blob!

I need to learn to weave the ends in before taking pictures so I don't have silly threads like in this one. But here is how I wear my shawls usually.

Here is how important blocking is for lace. This is exactly how it looks after coming off the needles. Not anything I would call lace quite yet!

I think at some points during May I've had 6 projects I was working on, or ignoring, but I really feel like getting them all out of the way before starting new ones.
Some recent progress:
- finished two knitted crowns (three more to make this summer!)
- I'm going to end my striped Daybreak shawl earlier than planned. I intend to use it as a scarf with my raincoat so no need to make it enormous. So suddenly it's almost done! :)
- almost done with one super secret project
- Two other knitted projects will be worked on once I clear out the two above, a scarf in SeaSilk and a second Calais shawl
- My ducks in a row pull toy really just needs the wheels and ties assembled
- and on the sewing front, my place mats were finally quilted and just need the hand stitching of the binding.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Stephen West knitting

This great yarn shop here, Loop, is constantly having great knit designers in for events. They are often book signings, classes, trunk shows, casual knit-and-greets or even all of the above. I really look forward to seeing what classes the guests are offering particularly since they tend to be more specialized or advanced. The problem is that I can never make it to them! I was out of town for Jared Flood's (aka Brooklyn Tweed) classes, had my son's 4th birthday parties during Anne Hanson's (of Knitspot) advanced lace knitting class (I nearly cried over this one!) and on and on. So I was happily surprised when I saw that Stephen West was coming to Loop and I actually can make his advanced shawl workshop!

I've been working on two of his shawl pattern now and just finished one this week.

I knit this one with Malabrigo sock in the Impressionist Sky colorway. I had such a hard time picking which yarn to use for this pattern. It looks great in really varied colors too, but in the end I wanted to highlight the texture of the twist rib stitches and went with a semi-solid.
Raveled here

The Malabrigo is so light and soft, it drapes so well. I'm with my son here enjoying an outdoor lunch in the city.

Another one that is incredibly hard to pick yarn for! It seems to look great in just about every yarn combination - colors that are similar, light/dark, contrasting solids, semi-solids, one solid and one high variegated.... Options overload! The combination I finally decided on is made to match my raincoat.
I'm a bit further in now than when I took this picture, but still about half way to go.

I actually did my first of Stephen West's patterns back in February -- the Colonnade shawl, another fun design.

I'm looking forward to the class!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

One more WIP - but this time it's a quilting project

I know my last post was about the way too many works in progress I have on my knitting needles, but here's one that's on my sewing table. I actually did a good bit of work on it this week for the most arbitrary reason: the weather suddenly turned steamy but the basement is nice and cool!

This is a kit from Connecting Threads. It's for a table runner and 2 place mats, all fabric and the pattern included. I'm just working on the place mats to start though I also want to make the runner. I also ordered a charm pack (5" squares) and will have leftovers from the kit to make a few more (simpler!) place mats to match.

I should have gotten a bit worried when I started cutting - this is a lot of pieces and some are teeny tiny! Here are my stacks of triangles (plus the pieced center squares ready to go):

It's not a hard pattern, but there's not much room for error. sew two triangles, press, trim, sew two triangles, press, square up, repeat, repeat, repeat. I do like the finished square though:

There a nice sense of accomplishment finishing one of these squares. The down side is that it's only 6.5" square and it takes four of them for each place mat. Then add the border pieces but after all this another 8 pieces feels like nothing.
I currently have both place mats fully pieced and pinned and ready to be quilted. Wish me luck there!

Oh and this kit is on super sale right now. Only $13 and it includes 4.5 yards of fabric!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Too Many WIPs

I have 5 knitting projects I'm currently working on. Not just 5 projects that have been started and put aside, I'm actually working on all of them somewhat equally. I usually work on 2 or 3 of these in a night. I just pull one out of my knitting bag and do a few rows, or a pattern repeat, or just until I get bored. And then I move on to another project. It may sound crazy, but it's actually pretty fun. None of the projects are very challenging -- for 3 of them I don't need to look at the pattern anymore and the other two just need an occasional glance -- so perhaps this is my way of injecting some complexity!

I'm sure I'll post more about these as they finish so for now just a few little pics....

Friday, April 23, 2010

Spring Shawls - Calais Tinkering & Miss Woodhouse

Yes I've been making a lot of lace shawls and No I'm not even close to done! No no no no no!
My latest two are also my current favorite shape - triangle/crescent. With a "classic" triangle shawl you knit from the center top and increase equally along the center spine and edges, working outwards. This gives you a straight top edge with a length that is double the height of the spine. My Swallowtail shawl is a good example.

With these triangle/crescent shapes the increases on the edges are twice as rapid as along the spine. The end result is longer and more shallow. The top edge is often blocked as a curve making it look like a crescent, but the construction is just like a classic triangle. One great advantage is that you can make great sized shawl with relatively little yarn. Another is that extra length makes it so easy to wear.

I had previously made the Traveling Woman shawl and loved it so I set out to find more patterns with this shape. There aren't too many out there (yet?) but I selected Wendy Johnson's Miss Woodhouse pattern as my next project.

Blocked out nice an big and only used about 315 yards! I used Madeline Tosh sock yarn for this one in the "William Morris" colorway. A beautiful, warm brown with speckles of robin-egg blue.
Raveled here

Next up I fell for a new free pattern Calais. I thought it would make a perfect spring shawl but it was that classic triangle and I really wanted that triangle/crescent again. So I set about to alter it to fit that new shape.

First I started with the original pattern chart and widened it along the edge. Then I basically filled in the extra spaces with the pattern. It took a bit of fiddling with until it looked right, but here is what I came up with (sorry for the weird spacing around this):
Next I continued the extra increases through the eyelet portion and finally I was ready for the edging. Here is where it gets complicated again. I wanted to do the edging as is but I needed to get a correct stitch count to start it. You need a multiple of 20 plus 7 for it. When I made mine I knew I'd have 2 extra stitches but those garter rows of the eyelet section are perfect for camouflaging a couple decreases or increases if you need.

I didn't do all the edging rows as written, but it's pretty flexible on doing more or less rows here. With my handy kitchen scale I was able to use just about all of my yarn, around 350yards for this one in HandMaiden Casbah, the "Rose Garden" colorway.
Raveled here

It's definitely a bit trickier to block these shapes but worthwhile!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Look! Something Shiny!

On my last trip to my local knitting shop I was happily browsing away in my favorite section -- the beautiful handpainted sock yarns. There was a new batch of Malabrigo and fun new fruit-striped Lorna's Laces and much more. Ahhhhh.... so lovely.

But meanwhile my mother was canvassing the entire store and finding all kinds of different yarns. Finally I met up with her hovering over a silky, luscious scarf. Oooooohhh..... it's soooo pretty.
The yarn was 100% silk and had sequins in it too. The sample scarf was in a gorgeous navy blue like a shimmery river that sucked us both in. We looked at the price tag and said yikes! But we were too far gone and a skein of navy went home with mum while I chose a moss green.
The name of the yarn is "Disco Lights" by Tili Tomas.

Other projects got swept aside and I set out to find the perfect pattern for it. I did take the simple pattern that the sample had been knit with, but simple knitting and I don't always mesh. Even though I was pretty sure that as a scarf you'd never see much pattern (100% silk is so drapey), I wanted it to keep me interested as I knit. I ended up choosing the Ariel Scarf (free pattern) and think it worked out great.

The yarn was a little bit tricky to work with. The sequins are on a thread that is just carried along with the silk. So you always have to make sure that you're catching both strands as you knit. Also I had to adjust how I held the yarn since at the beginning the sequins were getting pushed back and bunched as I was feeding the yarn out. I had to hold it with very little tension.
But in the end I have a luscious, sparkly, silky stream of scarf of my own.
It's such a difference from the merino sock yarns and heavier cottons I've been using lately, but I am glad we got swept away by it.
Raveled here