Tag: shawls

More Rain Outside 15

So I’ve said this before, but The Rain Outside shawl has to be one of the most satisfying patterns I’ve ever knit. The long sections of garter stitch are perfect for finding that zoned out knitting groove, that “haven of refuge and sanity,” that knitting provides, and the lace short row panels act like little landmarks that keep things interesting and let you measure your progress.*

Plus, this time I was knitting with Hedgehog Fibres yarn, and the colors reach right down into my soul. “Poison” and “Ruin.” Lordy.

And look at the wrap and the drape. Every way I fling this shawl around myself it stays put. Some of the commenters on Ravelry mention that they don’t like the drawn-in top edge, but I think that’s one of the things that makes it so wearable. It gives it just enough structure to help it hold on around your neck and shoulders.

I’m not planning to knit a third The Rain Outside right away, but I’ve got it in my mental inventory now, and some day, it will be just the thing.

I’m thinking my next shawl might have to be a Find Your Fade. By the time I get around to it, I’ll be the last person on the planet to knit one, but oh well . . . It’s not a race, right? I still haven’t knit a pair of Hermione’s Everyday socks, and that hasn’t killed me. Yet!

On an entirely different note, I’m thinking about a redesign for the blog. What do you think? Do you like it when a blog you’ve gotten used to changes its look, or do you prefer for things to stay like they are? I’d be interested in feedback if you have it.

 

*This wonderful description of knitting is from Susan Gordon Lydon’s Knitting Heaven and Earth: “When I am knitting, I can withstand boredom, inactivity, even conversations that would normally make me squirm with restlessness. It is as though I have a little portable world of my own wherever I go, a haven of refuge and sanity.”

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Funtimes in Babylon 10

Life has been especially lifey lately. As a consequence I’ve found it necessary to cast on many things. Well, just three things, but that’s two beyond my comfort zone, especially since I still have a couple of UFOs in the wings.

The first cast on is something I actually mentioned a couple of posts ago but haven’t really talked about. It’s Jane Sowerby’s Spider’s Web Shawl from the book Victorian Lace Today. Here is a picture, but you can’t tell much. It’s destined to look like a blob as long as it’s on the needles.

This is the most challenging lace project I’ve ever attempted. A couple of years ago, I knit Hilary Latimer’s Mystery Knit Along Shawl and loved the way the painstaking, careful work of knitting it actually turned out to be very relaxing. I had to pay attention so absolutely that when I’d come up for air it was almost like I’d spent the time taking a rejuvenating nap. My mind would be clear, and I’d be refreshed and ready for whatever was next.

I’m hoping the Spider’s Web Shawl will give me a similar experience, but I’m not quite far along enough to tell. The thing that motivated me to attempt this pattern was actually the yarn. The yarn I’m using is an airy, soft, almost luminescent, lace-weight, mostly mohair blend that came from a couple of very special goats we know.

We met Gracie and her brother Reuben when they were babies. They belonged to our dear friend Marcia who runs Good Fibrations. Somewhere I have a picture of Paul holding Gracie the day we me her. I think she was only a week or so old at that point. It’s insanely sweet, and if I ever find it, I’ll show it to you.

Anyway, Gracie and Reuben now live with our friends, Ann and Trish, over at Out in Jupiter Farm. Here’s Paul with Gracie at their place last year.

Ann and Trish took the fiber from Gracie and Reuben’s first shearing and turned it into an out-of-this-world laceweight yarn, and that is the yarn I’m using for my Spider’s Web Shawl. I’m hoping to do it justice. I’ll keep you posted.

So that was the first wild-hair cast on. Remember the Inlet cardigan? It still has no sleeves. I just wasn’t in a sleeve knitting mood, ya know? The Spider’s Web Shawl requires concentration, and it’s gotten too warm to work on the Zigzag Blanket, so there were some knitting opportunities cropping up when I didn’t have anything to knit!

And there was stress. It’s the absolute craziest time of the year for me workwise. So one night when it was very very late and I was still sitting at my desk, I decided the only sane thing to do was cast on a project I knew I’d love because I’ve knit the exact same thing in the exact same yarn once before. Martina Behm’s Hitchhiker scarf. In Malabrigo “Archangel.”

I know you understand.

Cast On #3. This one isn’t actually on the needles yet, but that could happen any second. I’ve got the yarn.

Look:

I’ve been dying to knit with some of the wonderful, speckledy Hedgehog Fibres yarn I’ve been seeing everywhere, and after I knit The Rain Outside for Cari, I knew the next one had to be for me and that I had to get myself some of that yarn. I chose “Poison” and “Ruin.” What do you think?

And just in case the cast-on frenzy isn’t over, I ordered the two skeins of “Sangria” at the top of the post. I’m so not sorry.

 

*Father John Misty’s Funtimes in Babylon has felt relevant lately.

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The Rain Outside 10

It’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed knitting something as much as I enjoyed knitting The Rain Outside. What a great pattern! I will be forever indebted to Dana over at Yards of Happiness for posting gorgeous version after gorgeous version after gorgeous version of this design until I could no longer resist casting on for one myself.

The lace short row panels provide the perfect amount of interest to keep the garter stitch from becoming monotonous.

And the shape of the shawl–slightly drawn in at the cast-on edge and stretchy and open on the outer edge–make it ideal for wrapping around your neck or shoulders and staying put.

The yarn I used for my version is Blue Moon Fiber Arts Crackpaca. It’s a blend of 45% Merino wool, 45% Alpaca, and 10% silk. It was lovely to handle while knitting, but I’ll have to wait for a report from my friend Cari to hear how it is to wear. I knit this shawl for her because sometimes life is hard, and I needed a way to remind her that I love her and am here for her even when we can’t be geographically close.

I’m going to make another one of these for myself. In fact, I went ahead and ordered the yarn–Manos Del Uruguay Silk Blend in “Wildflowers” and “Dove.” This seems like an ideal travel project, so my plan is to go ahead and wind the balls and put them in a project bag along with the pattern and needles. Then, the next time I need to grab something on the way out the door, I’ll be all set.

In the meantime I’ve cast on for my first epic lace project, Jane Sowerby’s Spider’s Web Shawl from her book Victorian Lace Today. I needed something worthy of the incredibly special yarn I’m using. More about that later . . .

I hope you are enjoying the Spring weather and getting to do lots of knitting. I’ve been behind on commenting lately, but please know I’m reading and enjoying everyone’s wonderful blog posts!

Shearing Day and a Sneak Peek 10

Far and away, one of the best parts of living where we live now in Northeastern Tennessee is the huge fiber community. Yesterday, we got to help our friends Brad and Ruth Ann with shearing day. Their farm is called Two Roots Alpacas.

It was a beautiful day.

Here’s Ruth Ann providing a little moral support before shearing.

And here is Paul doing a little friendly herding afterwards.

These are some of the bags of fleece, set aside for processing later.

I spent the day drawing up injections but had plenty of breaks for knitting in between.

I’ll just note in passing that the “two roots” part of the name has to do with the vineyard that Brad and Ruth Ann run and that we were richly rewarded with amazing wine after all the work was done. You can see part of the vineyard here in the background.

And did I mention there was a baby?! Alpaca babies are called crias, and this one’s name is Storm. He was born last week during one of the recent bouts of crazy weather we’ve been having, and ooooh, my heavens! The CUTE!!!

It’s a busy week. Between work and the normal life things, there hasn’t been a ton of time for knitting, but I’ve always got something with me. This afternoon we’re going to be running errands, and I plan to work on a very special surprise project for my BFF. I don’t want to say too much, but here’s a sneak peek.

What are you up to this week? I’m loving all the shawls I’ve been seeing lately and am thinking there’s got to be a Find Your Fade in my future. I was resisting at first because there are so many other things I want to knit, but I’m pretty sure Marilyn’s slew of gorgeous Fades over at Yarn, Books & Roses has effectively decimated my resolve!

Checks & Balances 13

Talking sweaters today, not government.*

Paul’s Checks & Balances sweater is off the needles!

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I wrote about the Good Fibrations yarn I used for this in an earlier post, and I simply cannot praise it enough. Knitting with it made me think back to one of the first sweaters I ever made.

That sweater was a cardigan, and the yarn I was using was a worsted tweed of some sort. The feel of it was full and soft and sturdy, all at the same time. It was like a lullaby in my hands, and it carried me off to a sweet, sweet place whenever I picked it up. Honestly, I think knitting with that yarn, all those years ago, is one of the reasons I became A Knitter. And this yarn is like that. Plus, it’s gorgeous.

The colorway is called “Soft Suede,” and it goes with just about every pair of pants Paul has.

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One consideration when I was choosing a pattern was that the sweater needed to be sturdy and not prone to losing its shape. Paul is pretty hard on his clothes, and I wanted this to be something he could wear without having to worry about stretching it out or messing it up. I decided to go with a design knit in pieces and then seamed, hoping that the seaming would add a little more structure to the sweater than it might have otherwise, and that definitely turned out to be the case. He should be able to knock around in this day in and day out without any worries.

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It makes my heart swell to think of my honey wearing the sweater I knit for him, with all the love and care that went into it holding him close. I don’t do a ton of knitting for other people, but every time I do, I’m reminded what a special gift a knitted thing is. The person who gets it and the knitter who knitted it both come away with so much.

I have one other random picture I’ve been meaning to show you–the Mystery KAL Shawl in the wild! A friend took this snapshot of us at a wedding recently. The shawl was perfect because the wedding was in the evening, and it was held outside. The temperature was in the seventies when we got there, but by the time dinner and dancing wrapped up, it was in the mid-fifties. I started out with the shawl over my arm, but by the end of the night, I was using it to keep me warm. Hooray for handknits in action!

amandas-wedding

 

*Just one thought–I loved this article on npr.org about working toward a fuller understanding of where others might be coming from by reading “the book that’s not for you.”

 

 

The Big Blue (Highly Wearable) Rectangle 12

So the big blue rectangle has become what I think is going to be a highly wearable, pretty blue poncho. Go figure!

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Despite the monotony of knitting what felt like miles and miles of stockinette, I’m glad I decided to make this.

For one thing the Rowan Felted Tweed yarn is one of the nicer yarns I’ve used lately. This was the first time I’d knit with it, and it felt good in my hands, wasn’t at all splitty, and produced a lovely (soft and  dense without being heavy) fabric. I’m surprised that something so light has such great drape.

I’m also a little surprised at how polished the finished piece looks despite the pattern’s stone cold  simplicity.

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As alexandknits says so well in her run-down of The Giant Blue Rectangle, blocking is key, and blocking wires are a must. So is getting the shoulder seam right. Do those things, and you’re home free.

I’ve been looking at patterns for Paul’s sweater. That’s going to be my next project. And I have to tell you that sleeves, collar, and a bit of shaping are sounding pretty good right about now. I’m happy to be  leaving the the endless stockinette behind. That said, I love that I have this versatile new addition to my wardrobe.

The Travel Shawl 4

Travel Shawl 2

I might be in love with the Travel Shawl.

Folded in half it’s a cozy shoulder wrap.

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Opened up, it’s a bigger wrap.

Travel Shawl 3

Or even a small blanket.

Travel Shawl 1

And it’s a fairly quick knit. I knit all but a tiny bit of the beginning and the outer edge during a few weeks in November. 

Travel Shawl 4

This turned out to be a bigger deal than I expected in the discovery department. I’ve knit enough lace to feel like I’m not a total novice, but I hadn’t ever seen a set-up like this. The pattern directions tell you to cast on, give you instructions for an increase round, and then refer you to the first chart: “Begin pattern from Chart A; work Rnds 1-28 once . . .” etc. What you’re just supposed to know is that you have to knit the chart four times to accomplish one round. 

You’re also supposed to know what to do as your stitch count increases. I did not know. 

Thank goodness for Tin Can Knits. A bit of searching brought me to their super helpful explanation of how to read lace charts. It all makes perfect sense once you get the basic idea. You knit the first section of edge stitches for each quadrant and then knit the center, stitch-repeat section as many times as you can while still having enough stitches left to knit the edge stitches at the end. In their words: “. . . you would work the edge stitches one time, then work the ‘repeat’ stitches as many times as possible (always reading the set of instructions from right to left on right side rows), before ending with the edge stitches at the end of row.” Once I understood the logic, I was off and running.

Travel Shawl 7

As I do more lace shawl knitting, I think it’ll be interesting to see how many designers assume their audience knows these things about how lace charts work. In the heat of the moment, I felt a little grumpy about having to search for the information I needed to make sense of the pattern. Now that I have a little distance, I view it more as an interesting question than anything. What basic knowledge and skills should knitters be expected to bring to the average project? It’s absurd to think that every pattern would start from square one, but if a pattern doesn’t start there, then where? 

Travel Shawl 5

F is for . . . 2

Today’s post is brought to you by the letter “F”—as in, finished object, forests, and famous walkers.

Here’s the finished object.

Travel Shawl blocking

The Travel Shawl is off the needles! It was a great knit. I’ll say more about it later when I get some better photos, but the bottom line is that this was fun to work on and should be fun to wear. Here it is soaking.

Travel Shawl Soaking

And here it is on Rasta. I had to keep saying his name to get him to open his eyes. The shawl was like a sleeping potion. From the minute I put it over him, all he wanted to do was snuggle in and take a nap.

Rasta in Travel Shawl

Now I’m back to knitting Geek-A-Long squares. The current one is Sonic the Hedgehog. I’ll post a picture of it next time.

But moving on with the letter F, there was a shockingly wonderful article about forests in The New York Times yesterday. It’s about a German forest ranger named Peter Wohlleben who has written a book called The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate — Discoveries From a Secret World. Here’s the gist of it:

. . . trees in the forest are social beings. They can count, learn and remember; nurse sick neighbors; warn each other of danger by sending electrical signals across a fungal network known as the “Wood Wide Web”; and, for reasons unknown, keep the ancient stumps of long-felled companions alive for centuries by feeding them a sugar solution through their roots.

I thought the “Wood Wide Web” bit might be a joke, but it’s not. It’s the popular name for what scientists call the mycorrhizal network, a web of fungal connections that links trees beneath the soil. This makes so much sense to me. I can’t wait to learn more. An English translation of the book is scheduled to be published in September.

Winter Trees

And finally in the land of F — famous walkers. I came across this fun BBC article on walking the other day. Like the article on forests, it addresses something I’ve always felt was true and important but that doesn’t get talked about very much, the benefits of “purposeless walking.” It makes so much sense that a lot of great thinkers and artists were avid walkers. The article lists a number of them and describes some of the ways in which they found walking “just to walk” so valuable. Give it a look if you’re at all interested in this sort of thing.

Before I wrap up, I should note that the idea of stringing together a series of unrelated-in-the-big-picture-but-connected-in-my-world things with a letter comes from Barefoot Rooster, who used to do it all the time . . . back when she blogged. Sigh. I miss you, Barefoot Rooster.

Thursday 4

Hello, Knitting People!

I hope everyone is doing okay out there. I’m grading end-of-term papers and getting ready for my trip to Texas. On the knitting front, I’m making slow progress on the border of the Travel Shawl.

It was warm enough outside today to sit on the porch and knit for awhile.

Travel Shawl

I’ve also been keeping up with the Scrap Yarn Sock Advent Calendar knit along. Here’s where we are so far.

Dec 10 web

Dec 9 v2 web

The top bar of the second sock, the part that looks like it says “POOP,” is actually “Woof,” written out in runes. We got to pick our word, and I thought “Woof” seemed like a fun one because, you know . . . dogs. Anyhoo, after I finished I realized it looked like it spelled poop. Shoot.

I really love a fun knit along. I’ve mentioned the Lattes and Llamas Geek-A-Long before. Some of the squares on the 2014 and 2015 blankets were absolutely inspired. I also love the idea of doing a double-knit blanket which is what you end up with if you do the Geek-A-Long squares.

The theme for the 2016 Geek-A-Long was revealed today in the Ravelry group. It turns out it’s going to be video games, from classic to modern. This actually seems less interesting to me than the 2014 theme, Fandom, or the 2015 theme, Mad Scientists. But Dr Llama says it will be “the most visually dynamic blanket” they’ve done yet. If that’s true, it will be one awesome blanket. I’m so tempted!

I also got a card in the mail this week for the Rowan Martin Storey Knit Along for 2016. It’s starting on January 28 and runs through the end of May. I’ve seen some pics of the 2014 blanket, and it’s really gorgeous, something that seems like it would have been fun to knit and wonderful to keep and use and use and use.

It’s funny—I love blankets. Love having them, love using them, love thinking about them, love working on them… The only problem is that, so far, I’ve never actually finished one! I think one of my goals for 2016 will be to start and finish a blanket. We’ll see.

Other interesting knitting news . . .

Have you heard about Chanel? Two of their team apparently visited Fair Isle and spent time with a Scottish designer named Mati Ventrillon. They claimed to be interested in learning more about the Fair Isle tradition. A few months later, a sweater almost identical to Ventrillon’s showed up on the catwalk in Rome as one of Chanel’s new designs. Not cool. Chanel has apologized. Still…

Also, if you haven’t read Gregory Patrick’s “The Time I Was Questioned By Police for Knitting in a Starbucks,” be sure to check it out. It’s a great story, and as someone who used to be a police officer, I can say that it doesn’t surprise me one bit.

Ta-da! 4

FO 1 web

The birthday scarf is off the needles, and I love it! The pattern is pretty without being fussy which is very much my mom’s style. I can’t wait to give it to her next week. 

FO 4 web

This is the most enjoyable thing I’ve knit in quite a while. The pattern is Windy City Knits Lace Shawl by Angela Walker.

There is enough variation in each row so that you have to pay a little bit of attention, but the pattern is easy to memorize. I knit on it while doing all kinds of other things including reading, and it was much nicer than something plain like stockinette or rows and rows of garter stitch. 

FO 7 web

FO 5 web

I will definitely be making more of these!

FO 9 web