Silver Threads

a knitting blog with occasional side trips


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Rose Ardent

On the pattern side, this is pretty straightfoward. Once upon a time (two years ago), I knitted a shawlette from a pattern called Ardent. That was my first Janina Kallio project, I think. And since I’ve enjoyed wearing the shawlette as well as knitting it, I eventually decided to make another one.

Rose Ardent shawlette draped on a hanger.
(Click to enlarge.)

On the yarn end, well, last November, Suncat and I went to Vogue Knitting Live. One vendor there was Melting Pot Fibers. I admit, I might’ve not looked all that closely at their wares on my own, but Suncat was interested in their roving. While she investigated it, I looked through the yarn on display and found a skein of fingering weight yarn in a glorious shade of rose.

Rose Ardent shawlette laid flat.
(Click to enlarge.)

So…lovely pattern + lovely yarn = another Ardent shawlette. My only frustration is that even though I had 20 yards more of this yarn than the pattern called for, again, I ran out before the end. (And again, not noticeable when wearing it.)

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Rose Ardent
Pattern: Ardent
Yarn: Melting Pot Fibers BBY004 – Sock Yarn Blend
Colorway: 711
Needles: 7 (4.5 mm)


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A shawl Penelope would love

Ahem. I have finished the Passeggiata shawl.

That doesn’t look right written out. Far too quiet and restrained. You need to imagine me dancing around, waving the shawl in the air, and yelling, “Finally! It’s done! I can have my knitting life back!”

It’s bigger than it looks. That’s a corner of my sofa in the photo.

(Okay, that was exaggerated. I was with friends, and there wasn’t enough space in E’s living room for a lot of dancing around, and yelling would mostly just have alarmed E’s neighbors, who don’t know that I knit, much less care how it’s going. Although my friends were impressed. Also, I’ve been working on another Ardent shawlette, so it wasn’t even like the Passeggiata was the entirety of my knitting life.)

I began the Passeggiata back in September. I was at the knitting retreat, and it was an easy enough project to work on while I was away from home. It’s a garter stitch shawl with stripes, which seemed easy. As detailed in Adventures in striping, however, getting the stripes to work out has proven to be quite the challenge. When I posted that in November, I was on my third attempt. I finished the shawl on my fifth (!) attempt.

Attempt #4: This was when I modified the striping pattern. Unfortunately, now I didn’t have enough of the Aniversario to finish.

Attempt #5: Kept the modified striping pattern. Ripped back into the initial purple section and took out a few rows, hoping that would give me enough yarn at the end for that final stripe. It did.

A closer look at the stripes.

I had the same problem with Passeggiata that I did with Melodia last summer. These are supposed to be semicircular shawls. However, as knitted, they’re inverted triangles. If you’ve knitted them loosely enough, you can force them into a semicircular shape during blocking, which I did with Passeggiata. I also used three different bind offs to help shape the shawl. For the first and last 40 stitches, I used the standard bind off, because a tighter bind off would help straighten the tips. The next 60 stitches in on both sides were done with a suspended bind off: a little stretchier, but not that much. For the center, I used the yarnover bind off, because I needed as much stretch as possible to open up that arch. I then blocked fiercely, and I was successful. But basically, the knitting will not naturally turn into a semicircle if the only increases are at the edges. You need to increase within the body of the shawl as well. At this point, I probably wouldn’t do another one of these shawls unless I was prepared to add those increases in myself. I started a true semicircular shawl a few days ago, and just a couple of inches in, the difference is noticeable.

But enough of that. It’s done! It worked! It’s a shawl! Yay!

—–

Passeggiata
Pattern: Passeggiata
Yarn: Malabrigo Yarn Sock
Colorways: Aniversario and Cote d’Azure
Needles: 8 (5.0 mm)


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Sparkly Purple Shawl

I honestly cannot explain why it took so long to make this shawl. I’ve made two shawls from the Grande Wrap pattern already, as detailed in Mega-shawl! and And again!. I knew what I was doing, and even if I hadn’t, this is a garter stitch shawl done on size 13 (9.0 mm) needles: not particularly difficult. And yet I started it in May 2017, zoomed along up until I only had two rows left (two!), and then let it sit for 15 months.

[wince]

Well, it’s finished now, anyway.

A knitted purple shawl with a purple button.

I tried to make this one look dressier than its predecessors. It started as an excuse to use the metallic Wool-Ease Thick & Quick, which had been tempting me for some time. As designed, the shawl is tied with two cords. That’s worked fine with my earlier shawls, but I was afraid the friction would eventually break the metallic thread in this yarn. Plus, the bow wasn’t at all elegant, whether it fell at the front or the back. So I replaced the cords with a crocheted button loop and a large button. (I am so happily amazed that I managed to find a button that both coordinated with the yarn and was large enough to work on a heavy shawl.)

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Sparkly Purple Shawl
Pattern: Grande Wrap
Yarn: Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick Metallics
Colorway: 305 Galaxy
Needles: 13 (9.0 mm)
Hook: L (8.0 mm)


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2018 by the numbers

After 2017’s disappointing total of four projects, I’m delighted to have found my knitting/crochet spark again. Thirteen projects completed in 2018! Knitting and crochet were a great stress reliever this year. I deal with words and language a lot: I’m a librarian, I love to read, I write blog posts and journal a lot. It’s good for me to do nonverbal things like tangle yarn into pretty patterns.

So here are the colors of the yarns I worked with this year:

Pie chart of colors in my knitting and crochet projects.

This chart tends to look pretty much the same year after year. I know my favorite colors, and that’s where I put my efforts. And every now and then, a surprise color pops up, like peach this year.

Pie chart. Knitting: 84.6%, crochet: 15.4%.

Obviously I knit more than I crochet. But I finished two crochet projects this year. Yay me!

Pie chart of yarn weight percentages in my 2018 projects.I’m pretty pleased about this. I didn’t get a project done in every yarn weight out there—no sport weight, no chunky, no jumbo—but I managed six of them. I like working in different yarns, but there are so many tantalizing patterns for fingering weight yarn and I know they’ll (usually) be good for near-instant gratification, so it takes an act of will to work projects in other weights. By the way, that’s my first lace weight project ever.

I’m doing my best not to put pressure on myself with weighty goals this year. I hope to do more than just fingering weight projects this year, but I’m not formally making that a goal with numbers and criteria. If I have a good reason to use some other color besides purple, pink, blue, or gray, that’ll be wonderful, but again, no pressure. Just me, the yarn, the needles and hooks, and enjoyment.


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Adventures in striping

I am knitting a Passeggiata shawl. More accurately, I am knitting it, frogging it, knitting it again, frogging it again, knitting…you get the idea. For those of you who care, no, I did not start it during a void-of-course Moon, nor was Mercury retrograde!

Passeggiata is a shawl that involves two colors of fingering weight yarn. I’m using Malabrigo Sock in the colors Aniversario (red-violet, mostly) and Cote d’Azure (navy blue). You start with a large section in your first color (Aniversario, which I’m now going to call “purple”), eventually add a thin stripe of your second color (“blue”), and proceed to alternate between your two colors, with the stripes of the first color getting thinner and the ones of the second color getting thicker, eventually ending with a bottom section solidly in your second color. In theory, I should use up almost all the yarn. I’m not worried about the blue because I plan to knit until it runs out, but getting the purple to work out right has been quite a challenge.

Attempt #1: I began knitting on size 7 (4.5 mm) needles. Passeggiata is a semicircular shawl, but the only increases are on the sides, so I added a yarnover at the beginning of each row to be dropped on the return, to loosen up the selvages. This turned out to not help in the slightest, so I frogged it and started over.

Close-up of purple shawl with blue stripe, on a knitting needle.

And again…

Attempt #2: The shawl was coming along nicely, up until I’d added three blue stripes. At this point, there were only three purple stripes left to work. I noted uneasily that I had more than half the ball of purple left. I ripped back to the first section, figuring I’d add a few more rows to it, then start the striping, and maybe start the sequence with a thicker purple stripe, while I was at it. Still, I couldn’t shake the feeling that this wasn’t the way it was supposed to go, so I checked the gauge. I was supposed to be getting 20 stitches/4 inches (10 cm). I was getting 23 stitches. Oops.

Attempt #3: I re-restarted the shawl on size 8 (5 mm) needles, and again made it to the point at which there were three blue stripes knitted and three purple stripes to go. My ball of purple yarn was definitely smaller than last time, but it still looked too big. But my gauge was correct, so maybe this was how it was supposed to go?

Well, I’d knitted three blue stripes. They were the same thickness as the purple stripes I had yet to knit, although they were a little shorter, but that was close enough. I weighed the blue ball of yarn and subtracted the weight from the starting weight. The three stripes had taken 15 g of yarn. Then I weighed the purple ball: 32 g. The purple stripes will take more yarn because they’ll be longer, but I doubt they’ll need 17 g more yarn.

Current solution: I’ve ripped back to the end of the first purple stripe. As designed, it’s 5 garter ridges thick. I’m going to increase that to 6 ridges, and then add an additional ridge to each of the following stripes. Since the last stripe should only be 1 ridge thick, this will mean adding an extra purple and an extra blue stripe to make it come out right. That’s fine: it’ll just add to the visual interest I figure.

I really hope I love this shawl after it’s done, after this much effort…


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Iolite Iolite

It would be fun to name this post “Iolite2,” but I don’t think I can add a superscript to the title.

Back in June, Suncat and I went to a few of the local yarn stores. At one of them, I discovered the joy that is Yowza by Miss Babs. It was a hank of 100% superwash merino: worsted weight and large enough to hug. (The standard weight of a Yowza hank is 8 ounces (227 g); mine was a generous 8.7 ounces (246 g).) The store carried several dramatic colorways, but I’m not that exciting in my tastes, and what I fell in love with was Iolite: gray with splashes of purple. Now thanks to my totally reworking my stash storage last November, worsted weight yarns are towards the bottom of my tub system. It was going to be a pain and a half to move enough tubs to slip the new hank into the worsted weight one. But that wouldn’t be an issue if I used the yarn in a project right away.

Off to find a pattern that would use 560 yards (512 m) of worsted weight yarn. It wasn’t enough for an adult sweater—what I normally do with worsted weight—but the hank was expensive enough that I didn’t want to buy more. Obviously, this was a job for the Ravelry pattern browser. Several shawl patterns met my requirements and I’ve bookmarked them for the future hanks of Yowza I intend to acquire. And of those patterns, one caught my eye because it was called Iolite.

It really did take me a moment to realize that the designer had named the pattern for the yarn she’d used, and that what she’d used was a hank of Yowza in the Iolite colorway. Because, like, what were the chances? And once I’d realized that, how could I not use my Iolite in this pattern?

It was a fun knit. It’s been way too long since I’ve used knitting worsted for a project—I’ve missed it. The V-shape of the shawl helps it stay on.

I give you the Iolite Iolite:

Iolite shawl lying flat.

Iolite shawl, seen from the back.

—–

Iolite Iolite
Pattern: Iolite
Yarn: Miss Babs Yowza
Colorway: Iolite
Needles: 6 (4.0 mm)


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Favorite colors, high intensity—and fringe

Nowadays, there are gradient yarns, but they are a comparatively recent development. My love of monochromatic shading is not comparatively recent, however, and before gradient yarns were a thing, I’d discovered sets of shaded yarns. Back in 2012, I picked up a couple of kits from a company called HPKY or Hand Painted Knitting Yarns (I’ve never been quite sure what their official name was). As far as I can tell, HPKY is no longer with us, but the kits remain. Of the two I bought, I have yet to tackle one because I liked the yarns better than the pattern that accompanied them and still haven’t figured out what to do with them. But I have finally finished the other one.

Purple and pink wrap folded and lying on the back of a couch.

Folded neatly, it looks practically innocuous. Just a small glimpse of fringe hinting at the excitement within.

I rarely buy kits. I certainly don’t knit a lot of bright colors. And in 2012, I wasn’t making shawls and shawlettes as much as I do now. So the only reasons I have for why a “Six Yarn Ribbon Scarf or Wrap” kit came into my life are the colors and my sense of adventure. The Fidelio colorway is purple and pink. Not lavender and pale pink, as one might expect based on seeing my other projects or my stash. Bright purple, hot pink. Did I mention some of the yarn sparkles? And that the project has fringe? (I am strongly anti-fringe.) I had no idea when I was going to wear this wrap—I’d decided I was more likely to use a super-fancy wrap than a super-fancy scarf—but the lure of the pretty colors and the six kinds of yarn were too much, and I threw money at the yarn store, took the kit home, let it mature for a while in my stash, and then started it in 2013.

And…it’s 2018. Okay, fine, my patience for long rows of garter stitch has grown over the years. I made it about a third of the way through the wrap in the first few months of knitting, and then UFOed it. Looking back, this mystifies me. I mean, nowadays I routinely knit garter stitch shawlettes with fingering weight yarn on size 5 and 6 needles, and here I dropped this project into cold storage even though it had DK weight yarn and I was using size 10 needles. When I resumed it this spring, it just zipped along. I also renamed it. “Six Yarn Ribbon Wrap” was functional enough, but this wrap was too exciting for that name. (Also, ribbon is only a small part of the entire project.) I think “Purple & Pink Explosion” is far more descriptive!

Woman wearing a purple and pink wrap.

The Purple & Pink Explosion in its full glory.

Ta-da: one super-fancy wrap. With ribbon. And fringe. Now I just need a glamorous life to go with it.

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Purple & Pink Explosion
Pattern: Six Yarn Ribbon Scarf or Wrap
Yarns: HPKY (Hand Painted Knitting Yarns) Bologna, Lamé, Merino Singles, Parma, Pisa, Pisa Glitter
Colorway: Fidelio
Needles: 10 (6.0 mm)


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Know when to fold ’em

TL;DR: I knitted this shawlette all the way to the end, with just the bind off left to do, and then frogged it.

I began knitting Melodia back in June. It had a lot going for it. It’s a pattern by Janina Kallio and I like her patterns. I’d been looking for a pattern that would work well with a skein of Malabrigo Sock that I had on hand, and after I worked the gauge swatch, I knew garter stitch would bring out the colors in the yarn wonderfully. Also, Melodia is a semicircle, which would be a nice change from all the asymmetrical triangle shawlettes that I’ve made. Obviously this was a fine project choice.

Everything started out well. The increases were easy to remember, and the project was pretty much mindless knitting, suitable for passing time during a trip to Wisconsin and for all those conference calls I’m still attending. Just as the garter stitch would threaten to get too boring, I’d get to one of the eyelet rows. And I was right: Azules looks wonderful in garter stitch.

But.

Judging from the pattern, the edges of the shawlette—the ends of the rows—form the straight edge of the semicircle. You start knitting at the center of that straight edge, and work out and down towards the curve. If anything, mine was curving in the opposite direction, and I was headed towards the straight edge. It was becoming clear that blocking this puppy into the proper shape was going to be a knock-down, drag-out fight. But with all the shawlette bunched up on the needle, I couldn’t be absolutely sure I was seeing it right. Maybe I was just worrying unnecessarily, and when I got to the end, it would all work out. Besides, look at how much time and effort I’d already put into it. This is what I told myself through July and August, as I kept knitting away at it and the mass of yarn stubbornly refused to look like the schematic in the pattern.

And, well, I finally reached the last row before the bind off. Now there was a second concern. The pattern calls for 437 yards (400 m) of yarn. My skein of Sock was a bit on the generous side, so I had 453 yards (414 m) to work with. A little extra was to be expected, but I had way too much of the skein left. Ack! Apparently my gauge was off as well, Not the end of the world with a shawlette, but I was loving this yarn and wanted to use as much as possible.

Decision time. I pulled the shawlette off the needle to see it clearly.

Unblocked blue shawlette.

Nope.

Okay, the bottom edge was more curved than I’d feared, but that was about all it had going for it. I knew that if I finished it, I’d wear it once or twice, mostly out of duty and guilt and then shove it to the back of a drawer or get rid of it entirely. You know that bit about “does it spark joy?” This, most assuredly, did not.

Reader, I frogged it. I’ve steamed most of the kinks out of the yarn and recaked it. It awaits a new project—hopefully, the right one, as this is the second time I’ve frogged it—and I’m happily knitting on two new projects. Score one against the sunk cost fallacy!

—–

Melodia
Pattern: Melodia
Yarn: Malabrigo Sock
Colorway: 856 Azules
Needles: 6 (4.0 mm)


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Blushing Cowlette

As I mentioned a couple of posts back, conference calls and training sessions do wonders for my knitting productivity. Indeed, I finished the Summer Sky shawlette before I finished the training I was attending that week, which meant I needed a new project the next day. The Blushing Cowlette came together quickly that evening. I’m feeling virtuous as all get-out about it, because I spent no money on it. I already had the pattern, from when I made the Three Shades of Gray cowlette a few years ago, and the yarn was left over from the Chromantic Cowl. (And I still have yarn left—now what?) Since this yarn is the same yarn I did Three Shades of Gray in, I didn’t bother with gauge—bad me!—but used the same size needles I had last time. Just as well, because you start this pattern out on a 20″ (50 cm) circular needle, and my local yarn store has stopped carrying them.

Wearing the Blushing CowletteIt was fun to make the Chromantic Cowl, but I never enjoyed wearing it that much, and I eventually gave it away. I’ve realized that I prefer cowls that hug the neck. The Chromantic Cowl hung loosely if I just put it over my head, but it wasn’t long enough for me to loop twice around my neck, so it mainly just got in my way. Bandana cowls, like this pattern, are narrower at the top than at the bottom, and fit the human body much better. Even in summer (especially in summer in my office!), I’m trying to keep my neck warm.

Blushing Cowlette laid flatBy the way, let me just point out that I didn’t use either a variegated yarn or a gradient yarn for this project. That’s three shades of solid pink. I really haven’t been feeling much attraction to the solid colors lately. Maybe if I knit something really lacy or with a lot of cables in it or something, but on the small projects I’ve been doing, they mostly look boring. So when I finally do use solid yarn, I do something that looks like a gradient!

Blushing Cowlette pinned out during blockingWhen I made Three Shades of Gray, I was surprised that you stop increasing on the bottom section of the cowl. I left notes for myself that if I ever did this pattern again, to think about going up a needle size on the bottom section to compensate. Luckily, I ignored me. 🙂 I realized as I was knitting it that the more complicated lace pattern opens up more. In other words, it doesn’t need increases knitted into it the way the top two sections do. You can see that in the blocking photo, where the bottom section is obviously flaring wider.

I want to make more cowls and cowlettes. I like being able to pull something on over my head and then pretty much ignore it for the rest of the day. Depending on how active I am, the shawlettes need a lot of tweaking throughout the day. Yes, I know: shawl pins. You say that like I’d be organized enough to remember to bring one with me to work.

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Blushing Cowlette
Pattern: Brush Creek Cowlette
Yarn: Knit Picks Palette
Colorways: Blush, Blossom Heather, Cotton Candy
Needles: 6 (4.0 mm)


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Plaid victory

If you’ve been reading this blog remotely recently—like in the past two years or so—it’s totally understandable if you think I only make shawlettes and shawls, interrupted by the occasional bit of jewelry. But in my knitting and crochet career overall, my major focus has been sweaters, and I’m delighted to announce that I’ve finished another one.

Gray sweater with a textural plaid design knitted into it.It would sound inspiring as all get-out to say the Smart Plaid Pullover is a testament to the power of persistence, but it was more like a inertial stubbornness on my part. My first attempt was in 2010. The yarn (Rowan Scottish Tweed DK) was attractive, it showed the pattern stitch off well, and things were going along wonderfully. I was partway through the sleeves when I discovered that the pattern had lied about how much yarn I’d need and I was way short. By then, of course, Rowan had discontinued the yarn and I’ve never managed to find more of the same dye lot.

Armed with (much more) City Tweed DK, I began my second attempt in late 2016. It zipped along quite nicely until the following spring when I had to start the sleeves and my enthusiasm faltered. Maybe I was traumatized by that earlier failed effort. At this point, the inertia kicked in: I kept working on the sweater, but more out of habit than love or enjoyment. At least that got me through the summer. Then…pfft. All I can say is that there was an inch left on one sleeve and maybe twice that much to go on the other, and it just wasn’t happening. I got back to working on it this spring, mainly because I was fed up with always pushing the project bag out of the way to get at something else.

It’s now summer, so I won’t be able to wear the sweater for real for months yet. But here’s evidence of the insulating properties of wool: it was 94° F (34° C) when this photo was taken, and yes, that’s a wool sweater over a cotton turtleneck. I thought I’d be miserably hot and that it’d be a race to get a photo before I was drenched in sweat. As it turned out, I was warm, but that was it. Really, the parts of me that weren’t under the sweater were more uncomfortable. Here’s hoping it performs this well in winter.

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Smart Plaid Pullover
Pattern: Smart Plaid Textured Pullover
Yarn: Knit Picks City Tweed DK
Colorway: Tahitian Pearl
Needles: 2 (2.75 mm) and 5 (3.75 mm)