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!