Monday, December 30, 2013

Why Are There So Many Scarves About Rainbows

This is the final scarf of this year's Kindergarten Scarf series, and none to soon, since it's the Zz scarf.  I might have to use the Greek alphabet to name them, next year!

This one is another scarf of leftovers, this time using leftover yarn from my Hue Shift Afghan (in every colour of the rainbow) and a bit of teal from my Opie hat.  You might notice that this scarf is therefore 100% acrylic.  Not my favourite, but certainly practical for a kid.

I used all of the colours (except the violet from the weft) to wind the warp, mostly in random single stripes, with a few doubled.  I had tons of the violet, which is why I chose to use it for the weft, but not quite enough to do the whole weft with it, so I considered a few options for stripes.  In the end, I did a 4:2 ratio, with 4 picks of violet to 2 picks of an alternate colour.  I did wide bands of the colours rather than changing up the alternate colour a lot, mostly because it would leave me with fewer ends to weave in.  With wool it's not so bad, because the ends will felt into the fabric somewhat, but with acrylic, I'm a bit more worried about things working themselves loose, so I figured the fewer ends the better.

I'm really happy with this one - I think it's pretty wild and some kid will love it!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Experiment in Stripes

Another scrappy scarf, this time using the Irelande and Chocolate and Robin's Egg blue from previous scarves, and some Chartreuse Patons Wool with a bit of Peace Fleece in Kamchatka Sea Moss.

I did a warp stripe, but it's almost lost in the twill - I swear the weft was open enough when I was weaving it!  You can see the angle of the twill is pretty much 45 degrees, so I'm not sure why the vertical stripe is so subtle.

What shows up fairly well is the sort of fade I did to change from blue to chartreuse and back again.  I think it really turned out, and makes a cooler transition than just a clean break from one colour to another.

Happy holidays to one and all - I'll be out of town and away from my loom, so the last scarf will have to wait until next weekend!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Little Bit Hobbit

Changing up to a different sort of colour scheme for this one, I chose some nature-shades for a little hippie kid.  Upon weaving it, I find it very hobbitty.  The vertical element of this scarf really makes me think of trees.  Needless to say, I like it.

More Cascade 220 Wool Heathers, this time it's Chocolate Heather and Irelande Heather.

Another scrappy scarf is up next.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Using the Leftovers - Oranges & Pinks

Once I've made a few of these scarves, I have enough leftovers from the colours used to make a new scarf with the combination.  This time I added a bit of Galway wool in Natural and a bit of Custom Woolen Mills wool in Red, to round things out and give a bit more contrast.

I kept it in hopsack, which for some reason I thought would end up looking different than just a fat plain weave.  Live and learn.

I do love these crazy plaids, and I'm betting some of the kids do, too.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Shrimp & Eggs

I like to put a few unconventional scarves in the pile, in some crazy colours, because I know that kids aren't afraid to have fun the way some adults can be.  I'm also kind of into hopsack at the moment, so for this scarf, I revisited a hopsack design that I'd used in the past: sort of a windmill design.

While I was weaving, I decided the Robin Egg blue and Shrimp pink didn't have enough contrast to be really effective in this design.  In fact, the fear of that was partly the reason I chose a pattern that had big blocky elements to it.  One of these days I'll remember to think more about contrast when planning colour combinations.  For now, it's just one more warm and wooly scarf done.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Weaves with Orange

For the second scarf, I chose another classic weaving pattern - a simple but effective herringbone design - in some unconventional shades of orange.  The darker one is Provence, which I used last year as well, in a crazier scarf, and the lighter one is Tangerine.

I was a bit concerned that there wouldn't be enough contrast for it to look good, but I think it ended up being a nice subtle herringbone.

If you're thinking that this year's scarves are a bit conventional, don't worry.  Things are about to get wild.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Another year, another pile of scarves

I got a bit of a slow start on the Kindergarten Scarves this year.  I've been meaning to weave a set of towels and even wound the warp to make them, but just never got inspired enough to put them on the loom.  Eventually I decided I'd have to make the scarves first, since time is ticking away, so I set the towel warp aside and started to wind some wool.

The first one I made is a fabulous pink and black houndstooth for some fashion-forward kid.  I kind of love this one a lot, and would gladly keep it for myself.  One can never have enough scarves, after all.

I definitely found my scarf mojo with this one, and have been diligently weaving since then.  I'm pretty excited about how things are going!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Magic Carpet Ride

Sometimes all the basic hats and socks and sweaters have to give way for something a little more spectacular, something a little more shiny.  Even in winter, a girl needs a little bit of something precious and lovely.  This particular lacy bit of a scarf is not for me, but it's something I'd love to keep, if I could.

The colour is a bit off in the photo (and yes, I also know it's blurry; I'm terrible at this, sometimes.)  This is an amazing alpaca/silk blend in a beautiful teal colourway, with pretty coppery beads glittering throughout either end.

I had ordered nice matte teal beads for this project, initially, but once I started to knit, I realized that the beads were too perfect a match for the yarn - they were almost invisible, so what was the point of doing all that beading?  I frogged the knitting, went back online, and ordered a second batch of beads, this time in a beautiful metallic copper - sure to be visible!  I love the colour combination, and think that it was a much better decision to change things up.

The original pattern also has a column of beads up either edge of the scarf, which would indeed be beautiful, but I see the potential for those beads to be a cold shock against the neck when initially putting the scarf on, so I left those columns off.

It was a somewhat complex project, with several charts to work off at any one time.  It also seemed to take ages to knit this, but I expect that's just because I was working on a few projects at once, and most of them were smaller and simpler and used fatter yarns.  In the end, it's quite lovely, and should be warm, too, even though it's light as a feather.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Red Kathleen

I've had this hat (called Kathleen) in my queue for a while.  I loved the cables and the giant tall ribbing and the funky little slouch.  When I started thinking about fall/winter knits, a few months ago, I grabbed a lovely fluffy ball of red wool from the shelf and began this one.

I knit practically the whole thing at the recommended gauge, with my hands getting stiff from all the tight cabling, before I faced the fact that it really wasn't going to fit my big head.  I ripped it out, back to the end of the ribbing, and went up a couple of needle sizes to reknit it.  This time my hands didn't get as stiff, and I found that it fit better.

Although I do enjoy the look of it as a slouchy chic hat, this week it's been bloody cold, here, and I found that if I fold the brim double, it still looks cute, in a different, Steve Zissou sort of way, but will also keep my ears warmer.


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Manly Socks

Sometimes it's hard to find a good manly pattern that will please both the man in your life as well as your inner desire to knit something lovely and amazing.  When I saw this pattern, charmingly called John Huston, the Tarnished Hero (ravelry page) I knew it was a winner on both fronts.

The leg of the sock has a great chevron pattern, made of traveling twisted stitches, that is reminiscent of a military chevron in style, and then that chevron splits in half to continue down the foot.  In addition, the central part of the leg and foot is a nice stretchy 2x2 rib, which will ensure that the finished sock will snugly adjust to fit virtually any width of foot.

I knit them out of soft and strong Stroll sock yarn from Knit Picks, in a deep dark brown called Fedora.  It's a bit darker than the photos look, more of an espresso.

Knitting these socks was a bit of a challenge - the twisted stitches were traveling on every round, with no rest rounds, for example, and it took a while to get the gist of the pattern so I could knit it without the charts to back me up.  The end result is a really great sock, though, and hopefully will be appreciated by the recipient.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Iris Socks

There were a few great things about participating in Camp Loopy this year - one was having a chance to make a few lovely projects, another was having the chance to buy fabulous yarn at a discount to make them.  One of the final treats is that successful participants in Camp Loopy got a free skein of fingering weight yarn at the end of Camp!  There were a few colourways to choose from, and the one I chose was called Meadow Wildflowers, a lovely blend of grassy greens and gorgeous purples.  The base yarn for the free skeins is Lorna's Laces Solemate, which I've knit with before and really like.  There's a beautiful sheen to it and a really soft touch, along with a drapiness that reminds me of bamboo blends.

I didn't fuss about with this yarn at all, but just did my simple toe-up stockingette sock, to let the colours shine.  I'm so happy with these beautiful comfortable socks!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Lilac Canuck

The second of the knitalongs was of course the first one I finished, since it's just a quick little hat.  I love the lilac colour so much, and think it really works with these cables.

The skein of Green Label Aran had plenty of yarn in it to do a third repeat of the cables before closing the top, which makes the hat just a bit longer - long enough to cover my ears in the cold, which was the idea.  I probably could have made it with a bit of a looser gauge, so it wouldn't be so snug around my big ol' head.  It's ok as is, but I feel like a bit more give would be more comfy and give more of a slouchy fit when I don't pull it all the way down.

Either way, I'm happy to have a bright spot of colour to cheer me up on those cold winter walks to work.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Lambda Socks

Well, I've finished both of my knitalong projects, so now I can get back to my regularly scheduled knitting.  I have a long queue of things I want to get around to, not to mention various weaving projects (a set of towels I wanted to have done by now comes to mind, as well as this year's set of kindergarten scarves.)

But for today we celebrate having another lovely pair of socks - as mentioned previously, these ones are the Lambda sock pattern in Hazel Knits Artisan Sock.  The Twilight colourway continues to be a challenge to capture accurately, but I think you can sort of make out what's going on, here.  If you click on the photos to enlarge them, that helps, too.  The socks are really lovely in person (where the pattern is more visible) and I would totally knit these again.  I think they would make a good pattern for dudes, too.

They're also warm, which is a good thing for pictures in the snow.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Winter Knitalongs

While many knitters are probably tearing their hair out trying to finish all their knitted gifts for the holidays, I'm not one of them.  There are a few reasons for this, including my general assertion that the holidays should not be about gifts so much as about spending time with loved ones, and the fact that I don't knit a lot of things for other people, being quite unabashedly selfish about how I spend my limited knitting time.

The end result, of course, is that I have time right now to join some knitalongs.

The first one I decided to indulge in is one at Hazel Knits (ravelry link) - this one is a Mystery Sock knit, with the option of knitting other patterns by the same designer if you don't want to knit the mystery sock.  I was excited about the mystery, so I started that sock cuff, but decided I didn't love it by the second clue.  I ripped them out and picked another pattern by the designer (called Lambda socks) and began that one instead.  This is the toe of the second sock - it's a really quick knit and the socks are quite lovely, too.  I'm using Hazel Knits Artisan Sock in an old club colourway called Twilight.  It's a very dark teal, nearly black, and very difficult to photograph!

Once I was doing one knitalong, it seemed easier, somehow, to fall into a second one.  This one is over at Tanis Fiber Arts, and is simply a chance to knit some accessories from TFA yarns.   I could always use another hat to brighten up my winter doldrums, so I decided to do Tanis' Cabled Canuck pattern.  Ever since I knit my Colour Affection shawl, I've had a hankering to knit something else with the Lilac colourway, so I used this chance to do it.  The pattern calls for two repeats of the cables before closing the hat at the top, but I think I'll try to squeak three out of this skein.  That will make the hat longer, to cover my ears (the project photos make it look a bit short for that) and also give me a chance to fold the ribbing up to double it up over my ears.  Get the feeling that I'm planning for some cold weather?

There's still time to join either or both of these knitalongs, if you're feeling inspired...

Saturday, October 19, 2013

June Gardens socks

Many years ago (nearly a decade already?) when I was a beginning knitter, there was an amazing yarn dyer in Edmonton named Virginia vanSanten.  I used to admire her yarns in the shops and dream of knitting with something so wonderful and beautiful.  I bought some of her yarn for a shawl once (Ravelry link) and loved every moment of knitting it.  Some time after that, I found out from one of the LYS owners that she had passed away.  It was a palpable thing, to know that such an amazing fiber artist was gone.  Suddenly the few skeins of her yarn that I had left seemed so precious.

These socks represent the only skein of her sock-weight yarn that I had in my stash.  I held onto it all these years, but finally decided that I would do it justice by knitting it, more than I would by keeping it in storage.  The colourway was called June Gardens, but I've always felt that it was more of an autumn colourway, with all that orange and red.  Perhaps her garden was full of marigolds and roses.

I did my usual toe-up sock recipe, a 68-stitch circumference on 2.25mm needles, but for the afterthought heel I did something a bit different: a star heel with decreases in the round, since I felt like that would reflect the shape of my heel more than the usual way (simply reversing toe shaping.)  If the center of the star heel doesn't feel weird when I wear them, I may do this for heels from now on.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Holmes to my Watson

A couple of years ago, I knitted a pair of Elementary Watson socks for my dad, and they were a lot of fun to knit and turned out very nice.  When I had occasion to knit a pair of men's socks for another man in my life, I could have gone another route and tried something new, but as he is an avid Sherlock fanboy, I knew that these ones would be the right choice (again.)

I once again relied on the kindness of SweetGeorgia to supply me with a beautiful colour, this time a fairly solid slate grey, and went to work.  I went down a needle size, since I found them to be a bit biggish last time, at the recommended gauge.

Note to self: men's socks take ages, since their feet are even bigger than mine.

In the end, the socks are lovely and pretty perfect for the recipient, so hopefully he'll love them as much as I enjoyed knitting them.

Thursday, October 3, 2013


I've been meaning for ages to knit myself a little sleeve for coffee to-go cups, since I keep burning my hands trying to carry my cup of Timmie's to work.  I hate the paper waste from getting a second cup to insulate, so I never do, but I also hate burning myself.  Every time I get a coffee, I think "oh yeah, I should knit one of those when I get home" but I never remember.

It just so happens that I've been spending a lot of money at The Loopy Ewe this summer (and have been ordering yarn from there for a friend, as well, to save on shipping.)  They have just started up a new customer reward program this year, and with the amount we have spent, I got (among other things) a little teeny ball of yarn and a little pattern for a coffee cup sleeve.  Perfect.

I knit it up in an hour or so, over (yet another episode of) Doctor Who.  It works like a charm.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Where Do They Get Those Wonderful Toys

Devoted followers of my blog may have noticed that I changed my profile info on the right to reflect that we are no longer a "no pets" household, but rather have taken a couple of feline ladies into our home, as of a couple of months ago.

The two of them, Bela and Lily, are beautiful Devon Rex girls, a momma and daughter, who needed a new place to stay, and while it can be a bit of a trial sometimes having two more roommates in the place, they are also a joy to have around, all warm and soft and purring.

As a crafter, I of course began to think of cool things I could make for them (which is not to say I've restrained from spoiling them by buying loads of readymade stuff) and one day a while back I dug out some fabric and quilt batting and threw together a little basket for them to take naps in.

Since it's made of some cool Batman fabric, we've dubbed it the Batsket, and the girls don't seem to mind the silly name.  I often find them curled up together in it, and as you can see, it can be hard to tell where one starts and the other ends.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Tenth Doctor Scarf 2.0

Lest you think you're seeing double, this is actually a second version of the previous scarf I wove.

As I mentioned in the last post, I decided the first scarf might be a bit on the itchy-wool side of things, so I wanted to weave the same pattern in something softer.

Believe it or not, I had the two exact right yarns just sitting in my stash (it really pays to have too much yarn, sometimes.)  I have a little basket of SweetGeorgia yarn (mostly sock yarn, and yes, a whole basket just for her yarns) and I realized that I had two skeins of Cashluxe Fine in there, in the colourway Bison, that were just the absolute most perfect brown for this scarf.  And with 20% cashmere, definitely on the soft and luxurious side of the spectrum.  Then I remembered I had a skein of Tough Love sock in the Mist colourway, which is an almost ideal shade for the pinstripe - I was aiming for a cornflower blue, and Mist is just a skosh more purpley, but pretty darn close.  So, voila!  A second Tenth Doctor scarf from my stash. 

You can see that the Mist is a bit variegated, which gives some nice visual interest to the stripes, and the Bison is fairly solid, which makes a nice even background fabric.  It's soft and drapey and wonderful and I really couldn't be happier with the end result.  Hopefully the recipient feels the same way!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Tenth Doctor Scarf

Recently I gave into some peer pressure and began watching Doctor Who.  I started with the Christopher Eccleston series, since I've loved him for years - at least since Shallow Grave, if not even before that.  I enjoyed him a lot as the Ninth Doctor, and now I'm up to my ears in the Tenth, the David Tennant years.

Every Doctor, of course, has their own sense of style, and the brown pinstripe suit that Tennant wears, early on in his tenure, really stuck with me.  I decided that it would be fun to emulate it with a scarf inspired by that pinstripe design.  I had some fingering weight wool in a nice dark brown, and only needed a smidgen of blue for the pinstripe.  Even though the colours weren't quite perfect, they still look great and I'm pretty proud of how well it echoes the textile of the suit.

The weaving was finished last night, and I gave it a good soak and hung it to dry.  It turned out quite soft, although the wool still has a potential for itchiness against bare skin.  The fabric itself is a loose weave, as you can see with the sunlight peeking through it, toward the left in the photo.  It makes a lovely and lightweight and pliable fabric, all floppy and foldy, which is perfect, since the scarf is wide and long enough to be squished up and looped and tucked through itself.

I'm really happy with this one, although I do plan to revisit it again, in more accurate colours and softer yarn.

And I do really appreciate the irony of a Doctor Who scarf that isn't the stereotypical Tom Baker number.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Dusting Off the Loom

It's been a couple of months since I've had anything on my loom.  I had good intentions of doing some sewing this summer, so I cleared the loom off my table to make room, but you know what they say about good intentions...  I ended up just spending my summer knitting and never got around to the sewing.

This week I had some inspiration for a new weaving project with some leftover yarn I had laying around.  Yesterday I did the requisite weaving math and wound the warp.  Today I sleyed it and wound it on and wove a header.  Only one small mistake which was an easy fix, and now this cool new scarf is officially a work in progress.

I am so excited!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Thrace Cardigan

I finished my third Camp Loopy project about a week ago, and have worn it several times already.  It's the perfect lightweight summer cardigan, to throw on for just a bit of coverage with lots of lacy holes to let the breezes through.

When last we spoke of this, I mentioned that I was going to make the cropped version of the cardigan.  I bought the yardage for the 47" size, intending to make it a smidge smaller, since that is an inch over my size.  I knitted happily away on it and realized early on that I really wouldn't need the full 6 skeins to knit it.  I double- and triple-checked the pattern for the yardage and reassured myself that she did tell me to get a yardage that equates to 6 skeins of the Ultra Pima, to make the cropped version of the cardi.  It became quickly apparent that if I were to knit the cropped version (with my smidgen of adjustment) it would only take 3 skeins!!  Since I had so much yarn and lots of time left to complete this project before the end of August, I decided I might as well knit the longer version and use up the rest of the yarn.  Having done so, I still only used 4 of the 6 skeins, so I really don't know what the designer was thinking in recommending so much yardage.

This cardi was really quick and fun and easy (a wonderful combination.)  You begin on the back, by knitting a rectangular lace panel.  After a couple of repeats, I had the pattern memorized, which meant that I basically didn't need to refer to the pattern at all for the rest of the cardigan, save for points where I pick up stitches or bind off a certain number, etc.  You pick up stitches for the back from that panel, and cast on a bunch for the front, then knit the lace until you get to the side seam, where you do a three-needle bind off and then proceed to knit the sleeve in the round.  After doing both sides, you pick up stitches to knit the bottom half of the body down toward the hem.  I didn't actually worry about the measurement there, but just knit it to the length I thought was right for me.  Then you pick up stitches again for the ribbed button band.  But no buttons, so no buttonholes!  So easy.

It took me just over two weeks to knit the whole thing, and I enjoyed it a lot.  I am actually considering ordering another 3 skeins in a different colour, to make the cropped one that I wanted in the first place.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Juju Socks

Nothing expends some nervous energy better than the repetitive motion of stockingette knitting.  A couple of months ago, I had a sudden trip to the emergency room with my HLM.  On the way out the door, I had the presence of mind to grab a ball of sock yarn and a needle, for the waiting room.  While time ticked by in the hospital, I cast on the toe for a sock and knitted my nerves away.

The night at Emergency turned into nearly a week's stay in the hospital, and every day I took the sock and knitted away on it while I visited.  The blue and green colours began to remind me of scrubs and it seemed right that these were the socks I was knitting, in that moment.

By the end of the first sock, he was home and getting healthy again.  The bad juju of the first sock was going to be countered by some good healthy juju with the second sock.  Yesterday we were back at the hospital for another follow-up procedure (and all is well) and everything came full circle, as I sat in the waiting room, finishing the afterthought heel of the second sock.

Only after taking the photo did I notice that the charcoal colour is slightly darker on the bad juju sock than on the good juju sock.  Coincidence?

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Something Girly

I finished seaming my flowery sweater yesterday, and none too soon, since the third Camp Loopy project was due to begin.

The challenge for the final project is to make something that uses at least 800 yards of yarn.  For many petite knitters, a sweater would be an obvious choice for that sort of yardage.  As a more Rubenesque knitter, 800 yards isn't a whole heck of a lot for a full-sized sweater.  Of course, I could have chosen to knit something else, like a large laceweight shawl or a baby blankie or something, but I had a hankering to make a sweater.

Once again, I made a search of my Ravelry favourites list and came up with a few contenders.  The one I ultimately chose to use for my final Camp Loopy project is a cropped lace cardigan from Chic Knits in DK weight cotton.  I've been admiring this one for a while, and think it's pretty cute but also practical for the summer months.  It has an unusual construction (been going for that a lot, lately) where you knit a narrow lace back panel and then pick up stitches from there for the rest of the back and sleeves.  It's finished off with some nice ribbing and that's it - no buttons or anything complicated.  Just what I need for some (relatively) mindless summer knitting.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Pretty Petals

Last week, I showed you a little teaser of the back of a cotton t-shirt I'm knitting.  On Friday night, I finished that piece and cast on for the front.

I wanted to knit the back first, to figure out exactly what I was doing, since the original design calls for both the front and back to be knitted in five separate pieces and seamed together.  While I don't mind a nice evening of mattress stitch, that seemed like a crazy amount of extra work when they could easily be knit in one piece for back and one for front.  However, doing so also means doing a lot of configuring and a lot of what knitters dread most: shaping that happens "at the same time..."

I had to put the shaping for all of the pieces together in one monster piece, and I thought it would be easier to do that on the plain stockingette of the back.  Having figured all that out, it's easy now to concentrate on enjoying the pretty flower pattern on the front of the t-shirt, bobbles and all.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Let's Recap: Anthro 101

I'm sure it's no surprise to hear that I'm waaay behind in showing things off on this blog.  Even I was surprised to see how long this one has been waiting, however.  It's over a year since I was finishing up this cardigan and wanted to show it off.  How time flies.

I won't go into great detail, here.  That old post gives all the deets on the cardi: where the inspiration came from, the yarns I used, etc.  I ended up scrapping the crocheted belt, in the end.  I just didn't feel like it did the cardigan justice.  Other than that, I think I did a pretty good job of replicating the original Anthropologie cardigan.  There are some great textures in this one, between all of the different yarns, as well as some great colours.

Another triumph for Elizabeth Zimmermann's set-in sleeve and another cute cardi for me.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Blast from the Past

I have a big stash of knitting yarns, it's true.  Enough for several sweaters and shawls and innumerable socks.  Most of the time, I've bought the yarn with a specific project in mind.  Of course, when I bought it, I was chomping at the bit to get started on that particular project.  All too often, I get distracted by one thing or another, and it is shelved while I get excited about something else.  In some cases, the yarn has been sitting in there for ages, just waiting for me to be inspired to pick it up again.

This particular project has been in my Ravelry queue for four years.  It's a summer project - a little cotton t-shirt - so every summer I intend to make it, and then the summer sneaks on by and I put it back down the queue for next summer.  Well, a couple of days ago, having finished the afghan, the shawl, the hats, I realized how few projects I had on the needles right now.  And I can't start my next Camp Loopy project until August 1st, so...  I felt inspired to cast this one on, and didn't hesitate.

Perhaps it looks a bit odd right now for a t-shirt, but all will be revealed soon enough.  (I hope.)

Monday, July 22, 2013

Rock Star

When I posted the lovely photos of my first Camp Loopy project, I mentioned that the second project would be a lace shawl in Madelinetosh.  I bet that even your wildest dreams didn't imagine something this beautiful!

The challenge for the second Camp Loopy project was to knit something with at least 500 yards of yarn, and it had to be a pattern that was so popular that at least 1000 people have posted it on Ravelry.  I went through some of my favourite designs and found a few contenders, but as always Jared Flood stole my heart with one of his designs.  This one is the Rock Island shawl, and ever since the first day I saw it, I knew I needed to make it.

I went through the laceweight yarns on the Loopy Ewe website, and decided that Madelinetosh Prairie would be perfect, in a nice deep grey, and after all, I don't have any grey lace, as of yet.  Then I scrolled down and saw this colour, called Nebula.  The photos of it broke my heart with the dazzling blend of light and dark teals, spun into a spectacular laceweight single.  I immediately changed my order and got the Nebula.  So I still don't have any grey lace.

The construction is unusual: you begin with the edging (71 repeats of it, which take ages) and then pick up the body of the shawl from there.  It's smooth sailing after that, with a simple lace design and then mindless garter stitch.  Once you're in the garter stitch, it's just a matter of watching the rows get shorter and shorter and faster and faster until you are at the finish line.  So satisfying.  A quick soak and then block the Dickens out of it and you're ready for the fanciest event.

You can tell my photographer is more used to people-shots than shawl-shots, but I think you can still appreciate how lovely the finished product is.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Let's Recap: Northern Lights Capelet

This one is a real oldie - it's nearly been two years since I finished it, so it's about time I showed it off, here.

The original pattern comes from Knit Picks (although it appears to only be available on Ravelry, now) and was actually designed as a cute little hooded cape for toddlers.  One day I was cruising around Ravelry and I saw this version by Flint Knits (scroll forward and back through the photostream to see a few more shots of this beauty.)  All she did was knit it in a worsted weight yarn rather than a sport weight, to upsize it to an adult version.  Of course it looks really really gorgeous and chic.

I decided to try to recreate her magic so I ordered a bunch of Wool of the Andes from Knit Picks, in pinks and browns, and got to work.  I added a couple of extra rounds of motifs to the bottom of the cape, since I wasn't convinced it would be long enough to adequately cover my bustline, otherwise.

The cape itself is knit in the round, using steeks for the neck opening and for the opening at the front of the hood.  This makes the stranded knitting a lot easier than knitting back and forth would be.  As well, you bind off your stitches at the neckline and then pick them up again for the hood, which creates more stability at that spot.

I could have added a little crocheted loop and a button at the neckline, but I thought it might be a bit chokey, so I haven't.  As well, I have to admit that I haven't really worn this one at all.  As cute as it was on Ms Flint Knits, I feel a bit silly in mine.  Every time I've put it on to wear it out, I end up taking it off again and wearing something else.  Maybe I am just not a cape sort of a girl.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Let's Recap: Beatnik

It was a long time ago, in the depths of winter, that I last showed you my Beatnik sweater.  I made a bunch of changes to the original pattern as I knit it, like adding some length, creating a mashup of two sizes to make it fit me perfectly, and knitting the sleeves and body together at the yoke as an EZ set-in sleeve.  I feel like I might have also done some funny business at the neckline, to ensure it wouldn't be too wide, but it was so long ago that I can't remember for sure.

I finished the sweater in the winter, and have worn it a few times in the interim, weather permitting, but only just now have managed to get my photographer to take a few shots for me.  You can tell from the photos, I'm sure, that he was worth the wait.

Don't you love it?  The cables, the neckline, the fit, the colour...  Incidentally, the colour is Doeskin Heather, one of my all-time faves from Cascade 220, which I bought so long ago for a completely different project, but one day I just had to make Beatnik, and this beautiful yarn was just sitting there waiting for me to use it.

So glad I did.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Hue Shift Afghan

The story of the Hue Shift Afghan has gone on for a while.  I bought the kit from Knit Picks in the last vestiges of winter, and started knitting it up not long after, slowly working my way through the first three of four quadrants.  Then I made a herculean effort to knit the last quadrant in five days in May, on our Jasper trip, and then set the whole thing down to languish before finishing the seaming and border.  I am not usually one of those knitters who puts off finishing an almost-finished project (the two long-ignored knitted bags notwithstanding) but this one just sat and sat while I worked on other things.  In the last week I finished up a handful of projects (some hats, some socks, some lacy cowls and a shawl) and I had an urge for something simple.  Garter stitch borders couldn't be simpler.

When I ordered the kit, Knit Picks was out of the black yarn for the border, so I chose a dark violet instead.  I think it's a perfect colour, since it is still dark but also really suits the rainbow colour scheme of the blanket, and is the next logical colour in the progression from either end.

I also really love how the lines made by the decreases on each of the mitred squares creates a sort of star design when the blanket is pieced together.

Even more awesome than finishing this is that I have a bunch of brightly coloured yarn scraps left over, so you know some lucky kid will be getting the most glorious rainbow scarf when I start my woven scarves for charity in the fall.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Crazy Hat Lady

A while back, I knit a hat for my HLM (which never got a photo on the blog since he is shy of cameras) based on the hat that Opie wears on tv's Sons of Anarchy.  He loves it and wears it a lot.

Recently, one of my friends, who is quickly progressing through the basics of knitting, decided she wanted to knit herself a hat in that style.  We decided to do a hat knitalong, and both bought yarn and measured our heads and got to work.

The end result is a really simple slouchy hat that I love.  Sorry about the crazy eyes.

After finishing that one, I had the hat bug, and pulled out some yarn and a pattern that I picked up at the knitting store in Jasper on our girls' vacation.  A simple pattern by Wooly Wormhead, it knit up in a couple of days.  I added a half-inch to the length, and am I glad I did - it's still not really as long as I'd wish.  It's also a bit snug and wants to pull up, so it might be a donation hat, rather than one I keep.  The design uses a reverse-stockingette background with a travelling twisted knit stitch across it.  If I knit it again, I'd probably do a YO & SSK combo, instead, which would be easier on the hands and would give more-or-less the same effect.  It would also have more stretch, so it might even stay on my head a bit better.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Pie Filling Socks

My sister was destashing some sock yarn, a while back, and offered me a couple of skeins.  As soon as I picked this one up, I stopped in my tracks and said "this has cashmere in it."  Obviously I took it, even though it's not exactly a colourway I was drawn to.  Cashmere socks are to be coveted, even if they aren't as beautiful as you'd like.

I knit it up as part of my variegated-yarn-into-stockingette-socks project (which really needs a catchier title) but upon knitting the socks, I realized that it was going to stripe rather than be a randomly variegated yarn.  I took a second look at the ball band (Dye Hard Fibre Arts Serendipitous Sock) and realized that it actually said "self-striping" right on it.  Der.

The colours grew on me as I was knitting them, since they are each, in and of themselves, really quite lovely.  As a trio, I wasn't sure initially, but after a while I began to see them as a group.  And I also began to think of pie filling: blueberry, apple, and strawberry rhubarb.  Yum.

They're a bit thick for this time of year - I ended up knitting them one needle size up from my usual sock gauge, which confused me enough that I actually did a different stitch circumference for the second one (of course I didn't realize this until I put the two heels in at the end, and noticed the numbers didn't match.)  Fortunately they feel pretty much the same on my feet, despite the difference.

Besides, they are soft and warm cashmere, so I'd wear them anyway.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Good Mood Socks

When I was a kid, I never went to summer camp.  I would always read stories about kids who went, or watch movies where it was such a universal experience, but I never got to go, myself.  Fast forward a couple of decades (okay, a few) and a favourite online yarn shop of mine, The Loopy Ewe, is making me feel better about the whole thing.  Every summer they put on a virtual summer camp for knitters, which means no mosquitos, no bears, and lots of wool!

There will be a challenge for each of the three months of camp - June's challenge was to knit a project using one skein, in a yarn you haven't used before.  After searching through their yarns for a while, I chose some String Theory Bluestocking, which is a beautifully dyed BFL wool.  I've knit with BFL once before, in Sweet Georgia's yarns, and I loved the slightly haloey glossy wool, so I was looking forward to doing it again.  String Theory has some amazing colours, and the one I chose is called Nectar, a blend of pinks with a bit of coral and lavender mixed in.

The pattern I matched it up with was a pair of socks that I've had in my queue for quite a while, Hunter Hammersen's Mood socks (ravelry) from her book Silk Road Socks.  I was surprised to see that the pattern was only written in one size, so I altered it a bit, adding 8 stitches to the circumference to upsize it, and then casting on and knitting the leg with a larger needle than the foot.

In the end, the socks are amazingly beautiful, and I am really happy with this project.  Next month, a spectacular lace shawl in some dazzling Madelinetosh!