Monokrom Delphinia

Apparently I don’t knit just for knitting’s sake. I also knit to try out ideas, and if I happen to have several ideas involving the same pattern, I may end up doing the pattern several times. Which is how I’ve ended up with my 2½th (2nd and a half?) Delphinia.

I knitted my first Delphinia in 2019. For this one, I mainly did the pattern as written, although I had enough yarn to do an extra pattern repeat. I liked it, for all the reasons I’ve already listed in that post, so when I had the idea to cross it with Reyna, a shawlette I’d knitted the year before, I followed the impulse and ended up with Reyphinia. And all was well and good, and the only lingering thought I had was to maybe try Reyphinia again sometime, but with more yarn so that I’d get more variation in the band widths. I haven’t gotten around to that yet, but here’s my latest variant of Delphinia. For this, I used a single yarn, Urth Monokrom Fingering, although it has enough color variation to make it look like I might have used more than one colorway.

I’d bought the Monokrom Fingering with no specific project in mind, just the conviction that if I left the yarn store without it, it would’ve disappeared by the time I made another visit. (This mindset is responsible for the existence of ⅔ of my stash.) I’d even wound it in preparation for another project altogether, but I hadn’t realized its color variation would be wide stripes when knitted, and that wouldn’t have worked with that pattern. Delphinia, on the other hand, was interesting texture-wise, but not so intricate that tonal stripes would obliterate the texture. Plus, up to a point, I could just repeat the pattern until I ran out of yarn, like the first time I’d knitted it. Yarn and pattern paired, I went boldly forth and from early September to early November 2020, knitted myself another Delphinia.

At about 90% completion, I frogged it.

Denial can be a real issue with, well, anything you’ve invested time and energy into. I was aware early on that Delphinia as written wasn’t working as well with the Monokrom Fingering as I’d hoped. Somehow I kept convincing myself that the problem would work itself out somehow, or it didn’t really matter that much, or that somehow this was going to stop bothering me by the end of the project, even though I was brooding over it practically every time I picked the shawl up to knit on it.

As written, Delphinia is striped both in texture and color: garter stitch bands in one color alternating with eyelet mesh bands in a second color. Except that the color and texture don’t change at quite the same time. Each eyelet mesh band begins and ends with a ridge of garter stitch. Since these ridges are in the same color as the eyelet mesh, you see them as part of the eyelet mesh bands instead of the garter stitch bands. The two kinds of bands look to be the same width after blocking. But this trick doesn’t work if you’ve knitted the entire shawl in one color. In the Monokrom Fingering, the garter stitch bands “gained” the 2 ridges from the eyelet mesh bands, and so they looked wider than the eyelet mesh bands, which in turn looked correspondingly thinner. Yes, it was only a problem in the sense that I didn’t like the look; it wasn’t that the shawl didn’t hold together or anything truly wrong. But at the 90% point, I finally admitted that this was going to annoy the heck out of me. So I ripped back to the very first stitch (!), recalculated the band widths, and began again. The original pattern had had 7 ridges of garter stitch in Color A and 2 garter ridges and 5 eyelet mesh “rows” (each made of two actual rows) in Color B. For one color of yarn, I decided it worked better with 7 garter ridges total alternating with 5 eyelet mesh “rows.”

It took me a little longer this time—I was starting to get distracted by other projects—but I finished the Monokrom Delphinia in January. I didn’t have enough yarn to work the I-cord bind off that the pattern originally called for, but the elastic bind off I used instead looks fine, and anyway, since the bind off isn’t in a contrasting color, it’s not as noticeable in the first place.

And hey, I might come up with another variant someday! It’s wonderful to find a flexible pattern.

—–

Delphinia Shawl
Pattern: Delphinia Shawl
Yarn: Urth Monokrom Fingering
Colorway: 3056
Needles: 4 (3.5 mm)

Cowl comfort crochet

I am getting into a groove (rut?) with cowls made from super-bulky yarn that hug my neck and shoulders. I’ve made a few versions of The One-Ball-of-Rasta Version of the Triangle Cowl (indigo! blue-green! pink!), and I may make some more in the future. But in making them, I learned that Malabrigo Rasta and Malabrigo Caracol don’t behave identically when knitted, even though they look a lot alike, and that the knitted Caracol cowl I’d made was limper than I liked. Uh-oh.

I wanted to use Caracol again, but it presented me with a couple of challenges. Avoiding a limp final product was my primary goal. Also, this particular hank was a tonal deep blue, so dark that seed stitch would be a waste of time. I didn’t think garter stitch would work either: the texture would still be lost in the yarn, plus, it would need to be stretched to death to go around my neck which would just make the cowl look strained. Stockinette stitch, of course, was going to curl inconveniently.

Okay, maybe don’t knit the next cowl. How about crochet, my go-to craft when I want a final product that’s more firm than stretchy?

Searching Ravelry, I didn’t see any crocheted cowls that were just right. But the pattern for The One-Ball-of-Rasta Version of the Triangle Cowl was about as straightforward as a project gets: knit a strip, block it, sew the ends together, and sew buttons on it if desired. Surely I could do the same in crochet without a pattern. If there was no point in doing fancy knitted stitches because they’d be lost in the yarn, there wasn’t any point to doing fancy crocheted ones either, so I decided to use single crochet. I tried out a few crochet hooks until I got a working gauge that I figured would hold the Caracol together but wouldn’t be too tight to crochet comfortably. And then, using my knitted cowls as templates, I copied them in single crochet. And lo, the Deep Blue Cowl was created.

Deep Blue Cowl

That was in late 2018. Apparently I was so distracted by how much I liked the cowl that I completely forgot to blog about it. Nor did I do anything organized like take notes on my made-up pattern. So late last year, when I wanted to make another cowl using a hank of Rasta, I had to reinvent it. At least I’d recorded the hook size in my Ravelry notes, plus this time, I had a crocheted cowl to work from. And now I have two:

Natural Crochet Cowl

So here’s that barebones pattern:

Crochet Cowl

Row 1: Ch 15. 1 sc in 2nd ch from hook, 1 sc in each ch to end, turn (14 sc).
Row 2: Ch 1, sc in each sc, turn.
Repeat Row 2 until you’ve used up most of the yarn, leaving a tail long enough to sl st the end to the side of the other end. Pull the yarn end through the last loop to fasten it, but don’t cut it. Block, stretching the piece as needed. When dry, sl st one end to the side of the other end. Sew on buttons if wanted.


Deep Blue Cowl
Pattern: personal pattern; inspired by The One-Ball-of-Rasta Version of the Triangle Cowl
Yarn: Malabrigo Caracol
Colorway: 150 Azul Profundo
Hook: 12 mm

Natural Crochet Cowl
Pattern: personal pattern; inspired by The One-Ball-of-Rasta Version of the Triangle Cowl
Yarn: Malabrigo Rasta
Colorway: 63 Natural
Hook: 12 mm

2020 by the numbers

Apparently I respond to “unprecedented” times by spending quality time with my yarn. While I only finished seven projects last year, down two from 2019, most of what I finished was larger than my projects have been lately: three sweaters and three full-fledged shawls. (The seventh project was a shawlette: can’t skip them altogether!) So 2017, with its four finished projects, is still the Year of Barely Knitting.

On to the graphics! Here’s what three sweaters, three shawls, and a shawlette look like in chart form:

Maybe using green charts this year will make up for the fact that nothing I knitted or crocheted was green:

One of the shawls (the Sunshower Shawl) used twelve different colorways, several of them multicolored in their own right, but it’s hard to get “multi-multicolored” into a pie chart. I mean, there’s probably a way, but I don’t care enough to put that much effort in. 😄 When I glanced at the shawl, though, the two colors that jumped out were blue and gray, so I split the count between them.

Next up: the crafts involved:

Again, just one crochet project. It looks like more since ⅐ is larger than last year’s ⅑. And hey, it was a larger project than 2019’s, too.

Fewer projects, but more variety in the yarn weights this year:

It’s funny how when I try to increase variety, maybe it works but usually it doesn’t, but when I impulsively choose whatever project calls me when I’m ready to start something, the variety shows up anyway.

And with that in mind, I’m not doing much for challenges this year. I’ve decided to go into 2021 with the expectation that it’ll be a lot like 2020, in the hopes that it’ll pleasantly surprise me by being an improvement, so I’m not asking a lot of myself in quantity of projects finished. I’ve just started a Hue Shift Afghan, and I figure that’ll do as a year-long project, and be challenge enough. Heck, figuring it into next year’s “Project Color” pie chart can be the challenge! 🌈

Cables & Twists Cardigan

So, hey, I’ve knitted another sweater (!). I love my shawlettes and shawls, but I do want to knit more sweaters. (Or crochet them. Really not picky about this point.) As you can tell from the name of the pattern, the Cables & Twists Cardigan is a sweater you knit for the texture, not for the colorwork.

I picked up a few Mari Dembrow patterns back in the “aughts.” (Sheesh, that was years ago. How the century flies when you’re not paying attention.) This is the first one I committed to making. I’d had my eye on KnitPicks’ Blossom Heather colorway for a while, had finally bought a sweater-quantity in Wool of the Andes Worsted during a sale in 2019, and started looking for a good pattern to pair it with. Eventually my brain linked the two.

Generally, I enjoyed knitting this. It’s a bottom-up sweater in the body, and then you sew the shoulder seams together, pick up the sleeves at the armholes, and knit back down to the cuffs. You end up knitting the large braided cables in both directions. Those large cables both add visual interest to the plain stockinette areas of the sweater and knitting interest: there’s something there to break up the monotony of both stockinette stitch and the K1 P1 ribbing. Every size has large and small braided cables and twists, but the numbers of the small cables and twists vary depending on what size you’re knitting.

Wait—let me amend the previous paragraph. Generally, yes, I enjoyed knitting this sweater, except for the sleeves. For whatever reason, I’m better at estimating the length of cuff-up sleeves than top-down ones. I ended up knitting the right sleeve 3½ times before I got the length right: too long, too short, too long. (The half-time was discovering I screwed up the cable so far back that frogging what I’d knitted up to that point was going to be faster than trying to fix just the cable). I’m glad I kept at it though, because the sleeves are just the right length for me now—this almost never happens with store-bought clothing—and the sweater is totally comfortable to wear, and looks “right.” I suppose I’m getting better at top-down sleeves: back when I knitted the Circumnavigated Cardigan, I knitted its first sleeve seven times before getting it right. 🙄 Also, I appreciate a good tight gauge when wearing a sweater, but knitting worsted-weight yarn on size 2 (2.75 mm) and size 5 (3.75 mm) needles is tiring.

If I were to knit this again, I’d want to reconsider how the plain stockinette section fits. The heavily-cabled sections fit nicely, but the plain areas are kind of baggy, which is hard to see when it’s modeled on a hanger. Yet decreasing around the waist, unless carefully planned, could pull the large braided cables to one side or another, which wouldn’t look as attractive. Not that I have to worry about that in the foreseeable future because there are too many other patterns I want to knit first. For now, though, I’m basking in the warm glow of knitting triumph…and starting an afghan. Another big project—whee!


Cables & Twists Cardigan
Pattern: Cables & Twists Cardigan
Yarn: Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Worsted
Colorway: Blossom Heather
Needles: 2 (2.75 mm), 5 (3.75 mm)

Desert Rain

Having just said only a week ago, “Nope, not keen on symmetrical triangular shawlettes—hey, look at this chevron-shaped shawlette I made,” I’m now telling you about another symmetrical triangular shawlette that I knitted. Nobody reads this blog expecting consistency from me, do they? In my defense, the finished shawlette is pretty nifty despite its triangularity. And here’s some consistency: Desert Rain is a pattern by Janina Kallio, and I’ve knitted several of her shawlette patterns.

This started as several of my projects do: I was doing a bit of stash-busting, and I’d pulled out this hank of Valley Yarns Leyden that called to me. What I needed was a pattern that would set off the yarn well, be interesting enough that I’d finish it—I so do not need more UFOs in my life—and would make something that I’d actually wear. The first condition was the trickiest because the yarn had just enough color variation in it to make highly textured patterns doubtful, while not being wild enough itself to totally catch the eye (so I didn’t want to do a completely quiet pattern either, even if that didn’t violate the second condition).

Desert Rain met those conditions despite being a triangular shawl. The diagonal lines of yarnovers add interest both while knitting the shawlette. I ripped and tinked a lot more than I thought I would—it’s a lot easier than you’d think to put those yarnovers and decreases just one stitch off and only realize it four rows later. But the wide bands of garter stitch show the colors off nicely without distracting from them. What surprised me was that I had to go all the way up to size 8 (5.0 mm) needles to get gauge. With fingering-weight yarn, that made for a very drapey fabric, which solved a lot of my issues with symmetrical triangular shawlettes.

I didn’t have quite enough yarn to work the shawlette exactly as designed—now there’s another bit of consistency with Janina Kallio’s patterns I could do without—but this is the kind of pattern where that doesn’t really matter. The missing bit is in the right corner and not noticeable, especially when I’m wearing the shawlette. Speaking of wearing it…

Would I make another one? Maybe—what yarn am I trying to use? I’m thinking the symmetrical triangle shape does best as a light, drapey shawlette, like Desert Rain because of its very loose gauge. Maybe I should try working a symmetrical triangle pattern in laceweight yarn and see what happens. But for now, I’m putting my energies into seeing what I can do with chevron-shaped shawlettes.


Desert Rain
Patterns: Desert Rain
Yarn: Valley Yarns Leyden
Colorway: 11
Needle: 8 (5.0 mm)

Creativity through pattern hybridization

I am working my way towards the Perfect Shawl™. Admittedly, this is one of Plato’s ideal forms: not actually possible in the real world. But as I knit more shawls, I figure out what I like and what I don’t really care for, and I’m getting closer, at least in my own mind.

For one thing, I like the look of symmetrical triangular shawls and shawlettes. Unfortunately, having made a few, I’ve learned that they’re annoying to wear. By the time the ends are long enough to wrap securely around your neck, so much fabric has piled up in front of your neck that half the shawl is lost in a lump. It’s warm, yes, as long as it stays up, but a lump of fabric is also likely to fall down and off. Yes, there are shawl sticks and other ways to pin a shawl onto your body, but I’d prefer to modify the design of the shawl first. Also, pinning the shawl doesn’t solve the problem of the shawl’s beauty being lost in a lump.

In some ways, I am an incurable optimist. Already having the above opinion about symmetrical triangular shawls, I still decided to make a Reyna shawl in 2018. I liked how the mesh bands got wider and wider, since this added interest both to the knitting and to the look of the final product. And as promised, I could just stop knitting when I ran out of yarn, instead of desperately trying to make it to the end of a pattern repeat or quitting early and feeling like I’d wasted yarn. It’s a lovely shawlette, but yes, wearing it brings up all the issues about how it fits around the neck. Phooey.

The following year, I knitted a Delphinia shawl. I saw the similarities to Reyna, of course, and mesh bands alternating with solid ones is the basis of several fine shawls out there. Here the bands were even throughout the shawl. But by this point, I’d learned that the chevron shape is much more to my liking for wearing, since it minimizes the amount of shawl that piles up around your neck when you wear it. The “arms” of the shawl increase faster than the depth at the center front, and it’s much better suited for wrapping more evenly around your neck.

Naturally, the next step was to combine them.

Meet Reyphinia: the ever-widening mesh bands of Reyna merged with the chevron shape of Delphinia. It wasn’t all that hard to blend the patterns. The chevron shape is made by increasing at the beginning and end of each row while increasing before and after the center stitch only on the right-side rows. Essentially, what I did was knit a Delphinia with one color and with the band width increases of Reyna.

No, I haven’t achieved the Perfect Shawl™ yet. I’d like to try the Reyphinia again sometime with more than 440 yards (400 m) of fingering weight yarn just to watch the widening bands develop further. But it was an excellent result for what was pretty much an impulse to hybridize a pattern, and it made a lovely shawlette (and in a lovely color, although that’s the dyer’s achievement, not mine!).


Reyphinia
Patterns: Reyna, Delphinia Shawl
Yarn: Passion Yarns Beloved
Colorway: Ballerina Pink
Needle: 3 (3.25 mm)

When the process knitter does product knitting

You have, perhaps, heard of the process knitter and the product knitter. The former knits for the love of knitting, the latter for the purpose of acquiring the finished object. That’s a simplification, of course; most knitters fall somewhere between the two. I’m more towards the process end of the spectrum myself. I definitely need to like the project I’m working on, but I also need to like working on that project. It’s that last bit that delayed the Summer Sampler, nearly fatally.

Click to enlarge.

I fall prey to process knitting every now and then, even though I should be able to recognize the danger signs. Every time it happens, I vow I have learned my lesson, namely how blasted long it will take me to finish the project (if ever). These projects never fail because they’re difficult to knit. Heck, if they were difficult, they’d be challenging, I’d be intrigued, and the project would turn into process knitting. But while the Summer Sampler was attractive enough to lure me in, it certainly wasn’t difficult to work on: no cables, no lace, no colorwork—just aesthetically pleasing knit-purl patterns.

Simple patterns notwithstanding, the Summer Sampler promised to be an uncommon addition to my sweater wardrobe. It was a short-sleeved summer sweater, not something I’d done a lot of. It was dressy enough to wear to work, but looked comfortable. And because it was short-sleeved, it looked like I might finish it more quickly than most sweaters I’d done. Obviously, not only do gauge swatches lie, sometimes pattern photos totally deceive you.

My choice of yarn was as atypical as the pattern I was going to use it for. Whatever yarn I chose needed to have great stitch definition, or else there’d be no point in making the Summer Sampler in the first place. Because I would be wearing it next to my skin, I needed a yarn that wouldn’t be scratchy and that could be machine-washed. I’ve never been fond of knitting cotton, so I investigated the manmade fibers. This is how I ended up getting Lion Brand Microspun, an acrylic six-ply sport weight yarn.

  • Pros: Great stitch definition, soft to the touch, machine-washable.
  • Cons: Wearing acrylic in summer heat is not pleasant. (Although “summer heat” is unknown in my office. Actually, all heat is unknown in my office.) Also, this yarn is infuriatingly splitty.
  • Weirds: Lion Brand called this color “Lilac.” It’s blue. It’s not even a purplish-blue; it’s just blue. I have no idea what they were thinking.

So thirteen years ago, I queued the Summer Sampler (2007!). Eight years ago, I cast on for it. It then took me from 2012 to 2020 to finish it. I totally blame the seed stitch sections. Seed stitch is lovely to look at, but I find it excruciatingly monotonous to work. You have to pay more attention to seed stitch than to garter or stockinette stitch, so you can’t really get into that mindless knitting headspace. But while it requires some attention, it’s not interesting enough to reward it. So, according to my notes, after a strong start in 2012 and enough effort in 2013 to get myself just past the halfway point, I put it down and didn’t touch it again until 2018, all because of twenty rows of seed stitch that I didn’t want to do. And even after recommitting to it, it took me another two years to push my way to the end.

But I did, finally, make it to the end, despite little setbacks like, ah, sewing one of the sleeves on wrong side out. 😅 It fits. It’s comfortable. It’s gotten some compliments. I love the finished product. Which means I’m going to learn the wrong lesson from having done product knitting, and end up doing it again someday!


Summer Sampler
Pattern: Summer Sampler WS 114
Yarn: Lion Brand Microspun
Colorway: Lilac
Needles: 3 (3.25 mm), 4 (3.5 mm)

Fortune’s Wrap

Once upon a time—some unremembered year before I joined Ravelry, so probably in the early 2000s—I bought 10 hanks of Koigu Kersti Merino Crepe. I hadn’t been planning to buy it when I went to the yarn store—I’d never even heard of it before—but they were closing it out, there was enough of it to make a vest, and I liked the colorway.

Fast-forward 15 years or so. I moved a couple of times; the yarn moved with me. I’d see it every now and then when I was digging through my stash looking for something else, and I’d feel a bit guilty that I wasn’t using it. More than once, I seriously contemplated getting rid of it, but then I’d have an attack of the sunk cost fallacy and end up reburying it in the stash and pushing it out of sight for a while longer.

A few years ago, I discovered the Fortune’s Shawlette pattern. I’ve liked it enough to make four of them so far. (I admit I’ve liked some of the finished shawlettes more than others.) Crochet often makes a stiff fabric without a lot of stretch, but between fingering weight yarn and a very open stitch, the Fortune’s Shawlette is drapey enough to make wearing it easy. And because it’s worked sort of like entrelac, it breaks up the color in a short-repeat yarn differently than knitted rows do, in a way I find quite attractive.

With all that going for it, you’ve probably guessed that I was happy to learn that the designer had taken this pattern stitch and turned it into a wrap. I got thrown a bit at first, though, because this pattern uses DK yarn. Also, the designer measures the gauge differently than she did in the Fortune’s Shawlette pattern. For the shawlette, the gauge may be measured on an unblocked swatch—at least that’s how I measured it, and the shawlettes have come out just fine. The pattern for the wrap, however, specifies a blocked gauge swatch. Somehow, that threw me, and that delayed my starting the project by several months. But I didn’t forget about it, and eventually I decided that, like the shawlette, I’d work with whatever hook was large enough that I’d feel as if I was about to lose control of the crocheting. That doesn’t sound all that promising when I write it out like that, but it worked—I even had to drop down two hook sizes from what the designer had used.

The wrap was bigger than I’d imagined. (Because why do anything sensible before starting like use a tape measure to see just how long the finished dimensions would be?) I’d hoped to use up all ten hanks of the yarn, but I’m short, and at nine hanks, it was sufficiently large for my height. As lacy things do, it grew during blocking, going from 17″ x 66″ to 27″ x 86″ (43 x 168 cm to 69 x 218 cm). I suspect I’m going to need to use a shawl pin to fix it in place for anything more active than posing for a photo.

There’s a warm glowing feeling at having finally used a yarn that’s been in your stash long enough for its origins to have almost been forgotten. Although my stash is large enough that it doesn’t seem at all smaller with this yarn out of it…

—–

Fortune’s Wrap
Pattern: Fortune’s Wrap
Yarn: Koigu Kersti Merino Crepe
Colorway: K451
Hook: K (6.5 mm)

A tartan in texture

Apparently not even months of semi-self-isolation are enough for me to stay up-to-date on this blog. I’m sure there’s some irony in the fact that I’m using my free time to knit and crochet rather than write about knitting and crochet. So now that we’re in the muggy depths of sultry summer, let me tell you about a nice warm sweater I finished back in February.

I bought both the pattern and the yarn for the Highlander cardigan back in 2010. I saw the sweater at a vendor’s stall at that year’s Shepherd’s Harvest and bought the pattern right there and then, although I didn’t get the yarn until later. I then managed to not start working on the sweater until 2019. It wasn’t so much that I didn’t want to make it as that I wanted to make other things first, and the next thing I knew, nearly a decade had gone by. 😅

Click to enlarge

You’d think a pattern made almost exclusively of knits and purls would be simple to knit. Ha. It was difficult to see the tartan pattern against the dark yarn (yes, I know, I know—I should’ve chosen a lighter colored yarn), and the pattern kept shifting subtly. Even though I memorized it fairly early on, I was constantly counting rows and stitches, trying to make it all come out right. Somehow I didn’t even notice the sweater had cables until I was casting on for the bottom ribbing. The body is knit from the bottom up in one piece, with cables taking the place of side seams. You divide at the armholes—the side-seam cables split and continue around the armholes—and then knit the sleeves and sew them in later.

Why yes, that’s snow reflected in the glass behind me. I said I’d finished this sweater in February!

Although I appreciated not having to sew side seams, I’d forgotten just how long rows take when you’re knitting the front and back of a sweater simultaneously. The pattern is written in good detail, which is really helpful when you’re trying to coordinate cables and cardigan fronts and set-in sleeves. And let’s not overlook the sheer joy of starting and finishing a sweater that had been in my queue for 9 years!


Highlander
Pattern: Highlander
Yarn: Knit Picks City Tweed DK
Colorway: Morning Glory
Needles: 3 (3.25 mm), 4 (3.5 mm)

Two more bracelets

I had some time yesterday, and more beads that I hadn’t used, and came up with another two bracelets.

They turned out to be challenging to photograph. They’re barely showing up against a white background, but against anything darker, it was almost impossible to tell they had any color to them at all.

The bracelet on the left is made of rose quartz and silver tone spacer beads. This started life as a bracelet of all rose quartz, bought with that all amethyst bracelet. I could wish the beads were a deeper shade of pink, but this may be why the original bracelet was so inexpensive!

The bracelet on the right has morganite beads (I think—the string wasn’t labeled) and rose gold tone spacer beads.


Bracelet #1
6 mm rose quartz beads, 3 mm silver tone spacer beads, 1 mm clear stretch cord

Bracelet #2
5 mm morganite (?) beads, 3 mm rose tone spacer beads, 0.7 mm clear stretch cord