Silver Threads

a knitting blog with occasional side trips


Pretty, plain vanilla

I like multicolored yarn. I also like subtlety. Together, this means I have a lot of tonal yarn in my stash. I admire brightly multicolored yarn from a safe distance—say, in someone else’s project. Me, I go for yarn in multiple shades of one color (I have two projects on the needles that are in shades of denim blue). Or, if I’m feeling radical, I’ll use a group of closely related colors (I have one project on the hook that is in shades of pink, blue, and purple).

For some reason, despite having almost all my clothes and yarn in the same colors (green, blue, purple, pink, gray), I have trouble finding combinations of clothes and knitted/crocheted things that go together. At least those denim blue projects of mine should go with all the blue jeans in my wardrobe. Frustrated, I decided to try a different approach. Neutrals go with almost everything, but I’d done enough stuff in gray for a while, and black is a stronger color than I want next to my face. Time to investigate the possibilities of white.


In 2013, I’d made a shawlette in Starry. I haven’t been wearing it nearly as much as I thought I would, but I liked the yarn and wanted to use it again. Alas, Dream in Color has discontinued Starry, and the only skein left in my stash is dark gray, which I wasn’t in the mood for. But when I noticed I was pining for Starry, I realized I wanted this new shawlette to sparkle, and there are other sparkly yarns out there. I ended up with a hank of Knit Picks Bare Stroll Glimmer. I’d gone onto Knit Picks’ website meaning to see what colors they had, but I decided I liked the undyed version better than the rest. Plus, Bare Stroll Glimmer is a 100 g hank; I wouldn’t have to join two 50 g balls mid-project.

herald4As for the pattern, I continue to work my way through Janina Kallio’s ouevre. Herald had several points in its favor. It’s one of those patterns where you basically knit until you run out of yarn. I had more yarn than called for, and I wanted to use as much of it as possible. It has a pattern stitch that was interesting to look at, which was good because there wasn’t any variegation in the yarn to add interest. At the same time, it isn’t so complicated that the shimmer in the yarn was totally wasted on the project.

And the result? Hey, I like it! It does exactly what I wanted, which is go with almost everything I own (except my white and off-white shirts, but I can wear all the other shawlettes with them). The yarn was surprisingly soft; I like to snuggle in it. I did think it would sparkle more than it did. I’ll probably have to choose a darker color for higher contrast with the glimmery bits. And guess what: it comes in a shade of denim blue!


Pattern: Herald
Yarn: Knit Picks Bare Stroll Glimmer
Needles: 6 (4.0 mm)


The Tahoe Scarf and how I got it

Last fall, I had an extra ball of Chroma Fingering on hand and no plans for it, so I invented a scarf pattern and knitted it. And lo, the Lupine Scarf came into existence. I thought it turned out well, and I’ve enjoyed wearing it, so I decided to make another one. A scarf that takes just one skein of fingering weight yarn is a great project for stash-busting. At least if your stash is filled with lone 100 g skeins of fingering weight yarn. Mine is.

I went with a skein of Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock, a noticeably different yarn from Chroma. Chroma is a single ply yarn with long mirrored color repeats. Shepherd Sock is a plied yarn, much smoother than Chroma, with short color repeats. Both Chroma and Shepherd Sock are wool/nylon blends, but Shepherd Sock is a lot more like string than Chroma is, so I’m hoping I can wear this scarf comfortably in the summer, at least in air-conditioned buildings.

And lo, the Tahoe Scarf came into existence:

Tahoe Scarf draped across a bench.

Having made this scarf twice now, I figured I should write down what I was doing. Although “pattern” seems like a grandiose term for the following. This is more like a collection of suggestions on one way to knit a scarf.

Vertical Lace Trellis Scarf*

Materials: 100 g of fingering weight yarn.

Or thereabouts. This is one of those “knit until the scarf is as long as you want it” things. And while I’m using fingering weight yarn, I suspect you could use other weights just as well, either heavier or lighter, although I don’t know how much yarn you’d need then.

Gauge: ?

For both the Lupine Scarf and the Tahoe Scarf, I used needles larger than you usually use with fingering weight yarn and played around until I got fabric that stretched a lot but still had some structure to it. To put it another way, there’s a point at which if a needle or hook is way too big for the yarn, I feel like I’m losing control of it, and I hold onto yarn and needles/hook alike with a death grip so that I don’t drop it all on the floor. This makes knitting or crocheting uncomfortable. For this scarf, I use the needle size that’s one size smaller than the one at which I’d go into death grip mode.

Cast on an odd number of sts.

How many stitches? It depends on how wide you want your scarf to be. For the Lupine Scarf, I cast on 41 stitches. But although both Chroma Fingering and Shepherd Sock are fingering weight, Shepherd Sock is a lighter yarn. I ended up going down a needle size to get a good gauge on it (to avoid the death grip!), and I increased the number of stitches to 43 to make up for that.

When you cast on for lace, you’re advised to choose a stretchy cast on. I had trouble finding one that was stretchy enough. I finally tried a different approach. The chained cast on is a crochet cast on that isn’t all that stretchy. (You may know it better as the provisional cast on, but when I’m planning on keeping it, it’s hardly provisional.)  I made up for the lack of stretch by using a crochet hook that was noticeably larger than the needles I was going to use. So the cast on doesn’t stretch, but it’s wide enough that it doesn’t need to.

Rows 1 and 3: (WS) Purl.

Row 2: (RS) K1, *yo, K2 tog; rep from * to end of row.

Row 4: *SSK, yo; rep from * to last st, k1.

Repeat these 4 rows until the scarf is as long as you want it. Bind off loosely enough that it doesn’t pull in when you stretch the scarf to its full width. Block ferociously.

With the Lupine Scarf, I wanted to make the colors come out evenly, so I ended up finishing off the scarf well before I’d run out of yarn. With the Shepherd Sock, I was able to knit until the end of the skein. Plus, my skein weighed 111 g instead of the standard 100 g, so I had an extra 48 yards or so (44 m) of yarn to work with. After blocking, it measured 16″ x 75″ (41 x 191 cm). It’ll probably shrink a bit as it relaxes, but that’s still plenty of scarf to wear.

*I found the Vertical Lace Trellis stitch in Barbara Walker’s A Treasury of Knitting Patterns, finally justifying my keeping it all these years.


Tahoe Scarf
Pattern: Vertical Lace Trellis Scarf (!)
Yarn: Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock
Color: Tahoe
Needles: 8 (5.0 mm)
Hook: J (6.0 mm) (for cast on)


Holden Shawl

Hey, I’ve knit a Holden!

Once upon a time, there was a free shawlette pattern called Holden. I admired it, noted that it took one hank of Malabrigo Sock, remembered that I had one hank of Malabrigo Sock, and figured that this was meant to be. Or not. I was into the lace border before I gave up and frogged it. I suspected I didn’t have enough yarn to finish it—I wish designers would give estimates of how much yarn you need for each part of a project—and ripping the whole thing out so discouraged me that I lost all motivation to start over. But it kept flitting around in my memory. And then time passed and I was browsing Ravelry for shawl and shawlette patterns, when I saw Holden again, only it had grown (and was no longer free). What was once a shawlette was now a pattern with options for medium and large sizes and different weights of yarn, and the large size was definitely a shawl, not a shawlette.

Once upon a time, I went a little yarn-wild at Shepherd’s Harvest and instead of buying one manageable skein of a pretty yarn, I bought two. This despite the fact that I didn’t have all that many patterns in mind that could use 918 yards (839 m) of fingering yarn. So the yarn went into the stash. Occasionally I’d see it when I was looking for something else, and I’d want to use it because it was a pretty yarn, but, well, 918 yards.mer-madeplusfingering_blackberry_medium

And then came the day I saw the revised Holden pattern, looked at the yarn requirements, and saw that I could make the fingering weight shawl with most of 918 yards, and my brain made the obvious connection. Four months of knitting and a three-month hiatus* later, I have a Holden shawl. The yarn turned out to be lovely knitted up as well as in the hank. Something must have been off in my gauge swatch, because I ended up with less than ten yards (9 m) after binding off—eek! But it’s done, and I’ve gotten past that first Holden defeat. Although I still haven’t found the right pattern for that hank of Malabrigo Sock.Holden3

Oh, and I think you need to start the lace border when you have at least 50% of your yarn left, but unless I make another Holden, I can’t say that for sure.Holden2

*How come sometimes stockinette stitch is peacefully mindless and other times it’s unendurably dull?


Holden Shawl
Pattern: Holden
Yarn: Blackberry Ridge Mer-made Plus Fingering
Color: Blackberry
Needles: 6 (4.0 mm)


Cobblestone Shawlette

For a designer whom I’d never heard of before a few months ago, I’m becoming quite fond of Janina Kallio’s patterns. She does a lot with combining solid knitting and mesh, and this appeals to me. So after finishing the Ardent Shawlette, I went straight into another pattern of hers: Cobblestone.

Cobblestone Shawlette

I’d been saving this skein of Rustic Fingering until I found the right pattern, and I decided this was it. (I mean, when a yarn is this lovely shade of pink, you can’t knit just anything with it.) I had more yarn than the pattern called for, but this is a design that lets you add as many pattern repeats as you like as long as the numbers come out right. I added three more. I was weighing the yarn after each repeat, trying to figure out how much the four-row repeat was consuming—plus the repeats were gradually growing, and thus using slightly more yarn…yeah, it was a bit tense at times, and I did a lot more ripping out than I’d counted on. And at the end, I had barely enough yarn to bind off, and I didn’t bind off as stretchily as would’ve been best. But by that point, I was determined to just see it done.

Cobblestone Shawlette being worn.Unfortunately, I was disappointed with this design. Purely a matter of preference on my part; it’s not like the pattern was badly written or anything like that. I simply hadn’t realized until blocking that the garter stitch sections have a much shorter row gauge than the mesh section. Somehow that didn’t occur to me while I was planning the project and I never noticed while I was knitting it (I blame the fact that it was all scrunched up on the needles). But once it was off, flat, and wet, it became obvious that I was going to have to stretch the heck out of the garter stitch sections to keep them from pulling the mesh out of shape, and I don’t like the look of stretched garter stitch. Hmph. (Yes, I’d seen the photos on Ravelry and some of them were close enough to see the garter stitch. I didn’t make the connection. Grr.)

But enough complaining.🙂 It’s done, it’s a lovely shade of pink, and it looks nice when worn. Which is really all that matters.


Cobblestone Shawlette
Pattern: Cobblestone
Yarn: Neighborhood Fiber Co. Rustic Fingering
Color: Victorian Village
Needles: 6 (4.0 mm)


The passionate purple of Ardent

I’m not sure why I bother to maintain a queue on Ravelry. I carefully arrange projects on it, match yarn to patterns—and then go off and do projects on whims. The Ardent Shawlette was a whim project. Fifty-something potential projects in my queue when I saw this pattern, and, well, here’s a shawlette. And my queue has grown to sixty-something potential projects, because I decided I liked several of Janina Kallio’s other patterns. So really, the problem is getting worse.

ArdentI was attracted by, uh, the pattern in this pattern (oh English, you’re so wonderfully ambiguous sometimes). I liked how the solid bands of garter stitch alternate with openwork. This looked like it would be a great project for a yarn a little more exciting color-wise than the tonals I tend to use; the solid bands would show the yarn off well, while the openwork would add texture interest. I was right. The yarn hasn’t photographed well, but it’s mainly purple with splashes of dark fuchsia and teal. I bought the yarn in St. Cloud while on my way to the annual knitting retreat a couple of years ago and I’m delighted to have finally found a pattern for it.

Kallio says this is an asymmetrical shawlette. It was when I was knitting it. I tried to block it asymmetrically as well, but I ended up with a more or less symmetrical triangle anyway. I ran out of yarn a few rows from the end—I suspect my gauge loosened up over time. But I was in no mood to rip it out and reknit it, and it’ll work just fine as is.Ardent2

I didn’t expect this project to take as long as it did (three months). I developed a hand problem that noticeably limited how long I could spend knitting at one time. Plus, I found other activities to distract me. (I know, I know: how could anything be more fascinating than knitting? Although crocheting equals it.) But here it is, and I’ve already cast on for the next project. This is Cobblestone, another pattern by Kallio, with more garter stitch and openwork. A pattern that I’d queued when I realized that I liked several of her designs. And that’s why I bother to maintain a queue on Ravelry, it seems.


Ardent Shawlette
Pattern: Ardent
Yarn: Cascade Yarns Heritage Silk Paints
Color: Violets (9995)
Needles: 7 (4.5 mm)


2015 by the numbers

Yes, I’ve decided this is going to be an annual feature of this blog. Whether or not anyone enjoys reading it, I enjoy putting it together.

The first number, of course, is how many projects I finished in 2015, which is fifteen, nicely enough. No, I’m not shooting for sixteen projects in 2016. That’s a slippery slope that will eventually lead to my being in my 80’s and trying to do fifty projects in a year. Let’s not go there.

I love color, so I track the dominant color in my projects. I don’t love too much math, though, so I count this by the number of projects I’ve done, not by how much knitting I’ve done in each color..


Admire the yellow while you can: I almost never do projects in it despite the fact it’s my favorite color. (It comes from the Little Lion project.) And purple made it in here this year: yay! But gray dominates again. When did I become someone who knits so much in gray?


I did much better than expected when it came to doing more crochet. One project last year, five projects this year. It’s not that I’m trying to make it an even split each year; I just want to do more crochet than I have been doing.



But then again, diversity of yarn weight went down. I knitted in laceweight and DK last year as well, and fingering wasn’t so dominant. Although it was knitting small fingering weight projects that let me finish fifteen projects this year.

And what’s coming up for 2016? I’ve got some unfinished projects in fingering weight yarn on the needles, and it would be nice to do another sweater, but other than that, I haven’t really planned anything. I’m letting myself not feel like I have to do another fifteen projects. If it happens, it happens, but there are other things I want to do this year as well! [gasp!]


Lupine Scarf

Back again! I’ve been out of writing commission for a while because of NaNoWriMo; if I was going to write anything in November, it seemed I should be working on my story. This also meant I wasn’t knitting as much. But now it’s December, the writing has gone down, the knitting has gone up, and I’m finally getting around to mentioning that I finished a scarf in October. Mid-October. Okay, fine, if I’d gotten my act together, I could’ve blogged about it before NaNoWriMo started. I didn’t. Let’s move on.

Lupine Scarf draped on a railing.

This is the Lupine Scarf. It’s named after the colorway of the yarn. The only other name I could think of for it was “Lacy Scarf” and that seemed a bit vague. And what would I call any other lacy scarf I might make in the future?

This is one of my rare forays into designing something rather than using someone else’s pattern. It was inspired by several things. I’d enjoyed making my two Fortune’s Shawlettes and I wanted to try something with a similar openwork pattern, but knitted. I considered the Sonoma Valley Scarf. But it’s designed for a sequential colorway, which is what Chroma Fingering had when that pattern was written. Since then, though, Chroma has gone to a mirrored repeat. So I decided to try making a “normal” rectangular scarf—for some reason I almost never go for that.

Lupine Scarf being worn.There were a few misadventures, like trying to find a properly stretchy cast on. I eventually gave up and used a large crochet hook to make a chained cast on that wasn’t remotely stretchy, but was long enough to match the width of the scarf body. I used the Vertical Lace Trellis stitch for the scarf itself, which I found by browsing through Barbara G. Walker’s A Treasury of Knitting Patterns. Yes, I actually used a stitch reference book—they take up room in the bookcase, and I do so little designing that I keep wondering if I can justify holding onto them. Yes, I can.

When I reached the last part of the ball, I realized that 100 g of Chroma Fingering doesn’t allow that that mirrored color sequence to come out evenly. I decided to make the scarf perfectly symmetrical, which meant stopping with 12 g of yarn still to go. The scarf is plenty long for wearing; I’m just annoyed because I don’t like wasting yarn.

Wearing the scarf has been great. It warms my neck, it stays put (unlike so many of my shawlettes, alas), and so far I haven’t dragged the ends through anything. Not bad for a free ball of yarn and an improvised pattern.


Lupine Scarf
Pattern: personal
Yarn: KnitPicks Chroma Fingering
Color: Lupine
Needles: 9 (5.5 mm)
Hook: 7.0 mm (for cast on)


Wedge Pullover: completed

Why yes, it has been a while since I last wrote about the Wedge Pullover. 2013 to be exact.

Wedge Pullover.

And now it’s chilly enough to model it.

Quick summary of the lost years: I didn’t finish this sweater in time for the 2013 state fair, but I hadn’t expected to. But without a deadline to work to, I lost interest in it. I decided not to enter anything in the 2014 state fair, so there was no pressure to finish it that year. I worked on it every now and then, and eventually I got it done up to finishing the sleeves. I stalled out two rows from the end and the sweater sat like that for months. Then I realized that the 2015 state fair was coming up and that I wanted to enter something. Of the things I could enter, the Wedge Pullover stood the best chance of placing—plus, I was tired of seeing it lying around 95% done. Naturally, despite having almost two years to finish it, I did so at the last minute. In the final few days before entries were due, I knitted those two rows plus a few more just to make sure the sleeves were long enough, sewed the pieces together, and blocked it. I took a few quick photos for people who wanted to look for it at the fair, but it was mid-August and I couldn’t bear to wear it long enough to take good photos.

I entered the sweater in Hand Knitted Articles: Adult sweater, plain pullover (no intarsia or Fair Isle colorwork, no texture stitches or lace or cables allowed) and it won a blue ribbon, my first ever in knitting at the Minnesota State Fair. Oh yeah, I’m thrilled!😀 And the sweater fits too: yay! It got a bit longer when I blocked it. Okay, hanging on a dummy for two weeks probably didn’t help either. But it’s still an acceptable length on me, so I’ll live. So it’s done, I have something new in my wardrobe this winter, and there’s one UFO fewer haunting me.

Wedge Pullover in state fair display case.

On display at the state fair.

Oh, and the Elnora Cowl won a pink ribbon (4th place) in Crocheted Articles: Clothing Accessories. Whee!

Elnora Cowl in a display case at the state fair.

And if anyone knows what that little blue thing hanging in the lower right corner is…


Wedge Pullover
Pattern: Wedge Pullover
Yarn: Reynolds Odyssey
Color: Bright Blue Mix (409)
Needles: 7 (4.5 mm), 8 (5.0 mm)

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Fortune’s Shawlette: the sequel

As wearing my first Fortune’s Shawlette proved to be as fun as I thought it would be, I went ahead and made a second one. This time, I was determined to fix all the (mostly minor) problems I’d had with the first one. To start with, I was going to have enough yarn. That was fairly easy to manage since most skeins of fingering weight yarn have more than 375 yards, the amount in a hank of Hawthorne. I was also determined to get the right gauge. I’d thought I was getting the right gauge last time, only to discover that I’d tightened up as I crocheted, and was getting 7 blocks to 4 inches rather than 6 blocks. I’m sure the truly dedicated soul would have ripped out and started over, but I was too close to the end to consider that an option. On the bright side, I’m obviously outgrowing my perfectionistic impulses.😀

Gray and pink Fortune's Shawlette

Gray, pink, and fun.

I ended up using a generous hank of Shepherd Sock. The model hank has 435 yards to 100 g, but I weighed mine and it came in at 108 g: 470 yards to play with! Looking at the yarn in the hank, I’d thought it was about 75% gray and 25% pink, but once I started working with it, it was closer to a 50/50 split. Fine with me: it looked great in the shawlette.


I like the shawlette both from a distance and up close.

Getting gauge was a bit more of a struggle. I really am a tight crocheter, it seems. I had to go up to a 7.0 mm hook, and when the only one I had turned out to hate the yarn, I bought another and pressed on. The extra yardage helped. I was able to fit in another row, and this time I remembered to add the final row before starting the edging. It makes the top edge smooth rather than with little corner points poking up. I’ll have to test this further, but I think if I reserve 20% of my yarn, that will be enough to work the final row and the edging on future shawlettes.


Shawlette in action.

Yes, “future shawlettes.” I’m plotting more of them. Just not right this moment. Maybe one in green? Purple? Green and purple? (I have a yarn with both those colors in it.)


Fortune’s Shawlette (gray/pink)
Pattern: Fortune’s Shawlette
Yarn: Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock
Color: Once Upon a Time
Hook: 7.0 mm


Two of Spades

Each year, the Minnesota Knitters’ Guild has a booth for one day of the Minnesota State Fair. I’m not usually the volunteering type, but I like to take a shift, since the duties involve talking about knitting to people who wander by, giving interested people a taste of knitting with the demo needles we leave out on the counter, promoting the Guild, and sitting around knitting. I can handle this.

Knitted scarf.I try to choose a good project to work on during my shift. Mindless knitting is ideal because I’m going to be interrupted every few minutes, but I want something that looks intriguing to passers-by. It has to be lightweight because I’m going to be walking around the fair with it in my bag, and it needs to be small because it could be 80º F (27º C) or warmer in the Creative Activities Building (no air conditioning) and a pile of wool on my lap would be unbearable. Although both my current works-in-progress were light and small, neither were good candidates. The Herbivore shawlette involved a twisted rib with yarnovers that I’d managed to mess up several times already when knitting in solitude. The Fortune’s Shawlette was easy, pretty…and crocheted. So a few days before the fair, I was poring over my Ravelry Favorites list, frantically trying to find something that I already had yarn for and which I could begin and get to an interesting point before my shift.

Knitted scarf laid flat.The winner was the MissMarple [sic] Scarf. It called for two balls of Rowan Lima, and lo and behold, I actually had had two balls—just two balls—of Lima in my stash for years. Stash-busting: yes! Once I got past the first ribbing, it was 8″ (20 cm) of plain garter stitch, which is about as mindless as knitting gets, and enough to get me through a two-hour shift. And I haven’t done much knitting with worsted weight yarn lately. I’ve missed it. The Lima was cool because it’s a chained yarn, not a twisted one. It didn’t kink up on itself the way so many yarns do when knitted, but on the other hand, whenever I needed to work an increase, it was way too easy to snag the tip of my needle in the yarn rather than go through the stitch.

The name change came later. Even when I was in my Agatha Christie phase as a kid, I didn’t read the Miss Marple mysteries. (I know, I know…she knits and everything, and I still wasn’t interested.) I don’t know if the scarf is designed after one from a TV show or if it just seemed to the designer like something Miss Marple would either wear or knit. But it looks like a Two of Spades playing card to me, and that’s what I’m calling it.


Two of Spades
Pattern: MissMarple Scarf
Yarn: Rowan Lima
Color: Andes
Needles: 6 (4.0 mm), 8 (5.0 mm)