Silver Threads

a knitting blog with occasional side trips


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Bandwagon

Over the years, I’ve heard from people who smoke that one way to get a bus to show up is to light a cigarette. Along those lines, let me tell you that one way to finish a knitting project is to wail in a blog post that the project shows no signs of ending and that you will probably have to reknit parts of it. This is a roundabout way of announcing that I’ve finished the Bandwagon shawlette. I wish I were more excited about it, but the most I’ve managed so far is to be really glad that I’m done with it.

Bandwagon shawlette lying flat on the ground.

Friend: “You knitted an electric guitar!”

The pattern called for 420 yards of fingering weight yarn and I had a ball of gradient yarn just that length. I also got the gauge called for. So I was totally surprised to discover myself with only a few rows to go and 20% of the yarn unused. The thing is, with this particular yarn, I liked the yarn as a whole—it was one of the first two gradient yarns I bought—but I really liked the paler end of the yarn since it’s pretty much my favorite shade of pink. So I ripped back to the end of the last increase section and worked three more pattern repeats. This used more yarn, of course, but the overall shape began to change. I had enough yarn to work a fourth extra pattern repeat, maybe even a fifth, but then the shawlette would’ve strayed way too far from the original design. To successfully use all the yarn while maintaining the original shape, I would probably have needed to frog it and essentially redesign it from the beginning. But by this point, I was more interested in finishing the scarf than in using all the pink yarn.. So I ended up with 13% unused. It went off to a friend to be used in one of her projects, so it’s not like it ended up in the trash, but I would’ve been happier if it had worked in my project. [Insert heavy, dramatic sigh here.]

The color was the best part of this yarn. Knitting with it wasn’t all that much fun, though, as it split constantly. If KnitCircus discontinued Sock du Soleil for that reason, I am totally on board with that. I have more of their yarn in my stash with imminent plans to use some of it (by “imminent” I mean “after I finish at least one of the other projects I’ve currently got going) and I’m hoping that this newer yarn is improved.

But enough about the yarn. How was the pattern/project? Well, it was a fairly easy knit. I was first attracted to this pattern because of its unusual shape. It was an interesting project (until the reknitting began, anyway) because it wasn’t intuitive how the shape was going to develop. I was knitting it in a state of blind trust that eventually what was on my needle would turn into what was in the photo. I didn’t realize that part of it was garter stitch, so that was a (pleasant) surprise when it started. And I like how the color worked in the entire project. Now that I have one in hand, though, I’m not sure it’s going to be easy to wear. I can drape it around me well enough, but I wear shawlettes for both style and warmth, and I’m not sure how much warmth this can provide. Still, even if it doesn’t work as an accessory, I’m still glad I did it because of how different it was to knit.

—–

Bandwagon
Pattern: Bandwagon
Yarn: KnitCircus Sock du Soleil 75/25
Colorway: Hollyhock Gradient
Needles: 5 (3.75 mm)

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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)


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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)


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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)


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2014 Knitting and Crochet Blog Week—Day 2: Dating Profile

Day Two (Tuesday 13th May): Dating Profile.
Write a dating profile for one of your past finished projects.
This topic is designed to get bloggers exploring different ways in which they can write descriptive posts of finished knitted and crocheted projects. Many bloggers will be used to writing adjective-rich accounts of finished items along with an account of how the item was made, but it can be fun to play with this format. Usually a dating profile would be written in the first person, so you should imagine that you are the cardigan/socks/hat writing the piece. You might think of including some or all of these elements in your dating profile:

  • An introduction: where you were knitted/crocheted, how old you are.
  • A physical description – keep it fun and intriguing but honest.
  • A photograph.
  • Your interests: Are you a crocheted sun-hat that enjoys long walks on the beach, a paper cup cosy that loves meeting friends in the local coffee shop or a thermal pair of socks that loves going on skiing holidays?
  • Things that you do not like: Do you avoid moments of friction because it brings you out in pills? How do you feel about moths? Are you a little orange cardigan that just simply cannot get on with a fuchsia blouse?
  • Your thoughts for the future – do you have any ambitions – where do you think you will be in 1, 5, 10 years time?

 

Username: YardsOfCozy

Trillian_datingprofile

Vitals: Scarf. Yarn: Crystal Palace Mini Mochi, in Strawberry Ice (80% merino, 20% nylon). Length: 71″ (180 cm), depth: 13.5″ (34 cm).

And the Snuggling Just Goes On and On

As you can tell from the photo, I’m no fancy bit of colored silk, but I’m not meant to be hidden under your winter coat for half the year either. If you’re looking for an ally in your battle to survive a chilly office or those over-air-conditioned stores in the summer, I’m up for the challenge!

I’m a Trillian scarf, from a pattern written by Martina Behm. I started life as a travel knitting project for a road trip to Milwaukee in 2012, and I’ve loved being out and about ever since. I want to see the world—as much of it as I can share with you, anyway. (You’re on your own for the deep-sea diving, but tell me all about it while you’re toweling off afterwards.)

I’m a stylish accessory, but I’m not just decorative. I’m mostly garter stitch, which traps air, so I’m a warm scarf despite my light weight.  Yet my lace border and gentle color transitions add a note of class and sophistication. I’m not ornate, so I get along both with a simple, classic outfit in the office, or a T-shirt and jeans when you’re at home.  My yarn was intended for socks, so you know I’m tougher than I look—a gentle wash cycle won’t faze me. But my merino and nylon is soft as all get out, so I’m cozy and oh-so-touchable.

Sometimes the world is harsh, and I understand that. I’m comfort as well as fashion. We can snuggle because there’s a cold draft coming from the air vent above your desk, or because you’re completely stressed out and need a little touch therapy. And of course, we can snuggle just because we love it!

So, shall we give it a try? Send me a message.

 


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The scarf that was just passing through

When I won that ball of Chroma Fingering at the knitting retreat back in March, while it wasn’t a colorway I would have chosen for myself, I still wanted to use it right away. With nothing in my queue that really seemed right for this yarn, I went hunting. I chose the Sonoma Valley Scarf pattern because:

  1. it only takes one ball of Chroma Fingering,
  2. it uses an openwork pattern stitch, which I thought might “dilute” the yarn colors by letting whatever I was wearing show through, and
  3. although fairly simple, it has a clever twist in its construction, which interested me.

And so I went forth and knitted, and after a false start (oops—need to start with the other end of the yarn in order to maintain a smooth color sequence), I produced a scarf, as expected.

Sonoma Valley Scarf

The scarf, flat…

Unfortunately, while Reasons #1 and #3  were good, Reason #2 didn’t pan out. Yellow lace draped over a cream-colored sweater is still yellow, and I still don’t like it next to my face. And no, yellowish-green doesn’t go with anything in my wardrobe, no matter how much I might wish it would. My first instinct was to hang onto the scarf anyway simply because I made it. This made no sense. I wasn’t going to look any better wearing it in the future, nor was I going to acquire a wardrobe that would go with it, so keeping it around would simply have led to my feeling guilty every time I saw it (“You went to all the trouble of knitting this—you really should wear it sometime”).

Reason finally prevailed. I decided to give it to Suncat, who can carry off yellow and yellowish-green much better than I can. But when it came time to take photos (did you think I was going to take pictures of myself in it? ha!), what E. was wearing looked far more suitable under the scarf than what Suncat was wearing, and between one thing and another, E. ended up with it. I think it looks far better on either of them than it ever did on me, and I’m delighted that it’s found a home where it’s likely to actually be worn.

Sonoma Valley Scarf front

…and modeled.

Now to go knit something in a colorway that I want to wear…


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August round-up

August is not the best time to keep a crafting blog up-to-date. August is both the month in which state fair entries are due and the month of my family reunion. It’s not that I’m not crafting; I just don’t have time to write about it. This year, I managed to combine both sources of pressure in my life by hauling state fair entries along with me to the reunion. This was going to be the only way I could finish them in time since I was going to be out of town up until the last 24 hours in which entries could be turned in. Plus, knitting would be a fine way to pass the hours of a six-hour bus ride across the Upper Midwest. So here’s all that’s been finished in the last month.

Lexington vest

Lexington Vest

Lexington vest (fair)

The Lexington Vest at the fair

The Lexington vest has been in my life since 2008. This is the project that taught me that I have no patience for intarsia. As you can see, the design is simple enough, but I instantly lost interest in wrapping the yarns on each and every row. It ended up being shoved from one place to another in my apartment, and I would work on it in occasional bursts of guilt before dropping it again and gratefully finding something else to work on. I unearthed it again in early August and impulsively vowed to get it done for this year’s fair (there was still half of the front left, plus finishing). Chances are, if I hadn’t set myself that deadline, it could have languished in my closet for another three years. I was just using the fair as motivation for this project; I didn’t seriously expect it to win anything. I probably figured if I didn’t like it, no one else would like it either. And then much to my surprise, it took third in its category.

Sandy Smoke Ring

Sandy Smoke Ring

I’ve called this the Sandy Smoke Ring, mostly to distinguish it from the pink version that I knitted last fall. It didn’t place at the fair, but that’s all right. I have no idea what I’ll wear it with, but I still like it. I am, however, getting increasingly frustrated with Mini Mochi. This was the yarn that had such extreme color variation within the same dye lot when I used the Babyface colorway for the Multidirectional Diagonal Scarf. This time around, the colors were quietly restrained—hallelujah! However, the second ball was wound in the opposite direction of the first. Luckily I realized that before starting to knit with it and having the top third of the cowl with colors going in a reverse sequence. Even ripping out as simple a lace pattern as Feather and Fan would’ve been a nasty challenge.

Peaceful Pastels afghan (fair)

Peaceful Pastels Afghan

The Peaceful Pastels Afghan placed second in the round crocheted afghans division.

 

 

 

 

 

Marble Throw (red)

Marble Throw (red)

What with working in a chilly office, I’m developing quite an appreciation for wraps, throws, afghans, shawls, and anything else that can make work bearable. This is the second time I’ve made this lap blanket. This time around, I went down a needle size, from 11 to 10½. At this tighter gauge, I was able to knit the entire blanket as the designer intended without running out of yarn, and the blanket just feels better at this gauge. I’m still taken enough with the yarn to want to make another one, so now I’m figuring that this one will stay home (I already gave it a workout at a strongly air-conditioned Starbucks a couple of nights ago) and I’ll make another one for the office.


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Twisted knitting

Oh, the frustrations of doing a knitting blog in winter. I finished this scarf on New Year’s Day, but late in the day. I then had to wait until this weekend to take a picture because it’s just not light enough when I get home after work. But here we are, picture taken, and blogging merrily away.

Moebius scarf

This is a Möbius scarf. At least it’s meant to be a Möbius scarf. I think it may have twisted a bit too much, although I’m not sure how that happened. I made my first Möbius scarf back in 2002, using a pattern by Lisa R. Myers. This was just before Cat Bordhi’s Möbius scarves took off and I’m guessing Myers’ pattern got lost in the shuffle. I admit when I resurrected it to make this scarf, I used Bordhi’s cast-on. It’s faster, for one thing; since this particular scarf is 400 stitches around, that’s not inconsequential. Bordhi’s cast-on also blends into the finished scarf invisibly. Myers’ cast-on left a bit of a ridge. You can’t really see it unless you’re looking for it, and it’s not lumpy enough to be felt when wearing the scarf, so it’s not a big deal if you use it instead of Bordhi’s. But I think the extra twist in this scarf came from using Bordhi’s cast-on and I’m not sure when the extra twist crept in, so I’m not sure what to do to avoid it if I decide to make another Möbius scarf in the future.

recycling symbolWith the scarf folded this way, I keep thinking of the recycling logo. I like knitting projects like this that are just a little out of the ordinary in their construction. I need to tackle another Circumnavigated Cardigan again sometime (a sweater designed so that you don’t have to sew any seams together), or find someone who’s expecting and make one of Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Baby Surprise Jackets for the child.

Oh, and the yarn for this scarf was Lorna’s Laces Shepherd’s Worsted. Its major selling point is its softness: it’s a challenge to find yarn that’s soft enough to be worn directly against the skin. But I also love the wide color selection for this yarn and would like to find something besides Möbius scarves to use it in.


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After the fact

Well, I can see one problem with blogging about craft projects: if you finish the project but don’t get a chance to write about it right away, it gets harder to remember to do so. You might think that just seeing your finished project would remind you, but you get used to it and the sight stops acting as a trigger.

Pastel Multidirectional scarf

Multidirectional Scarf

So, belatedly, I present to you a Multidirectional Diagonal Scarf. I finished it on December 5, but between one thing and another (I mostly blame school and finals for this), I’m only now getting around to writing it up. The yarn is Mini Mochi by Crystal Palace in the colorway Babyface.

Mini Mochi (Babyface)

Mini Mochi. Yes, they're from the same dye lot. Or should that be, yes, they're from the same colorway?

I made that scarf from three skeins of the same dye lot, bought from the same store on the same day. But as you can see from the picture of the yarn itself, it really does look like different dye lots, possibly even different colorways. Nor am I the only person who’s run into this problem. In poking around on Ravelry to see other projects in Babyface, I eventually followed a trail to this blog post by Eskimimi in which she details more or less the exact same situation. I didn’t have this problem with the Berry Compote colorway that I knitted the smoke ring from, so perhaps the problem only exists with Babyface. I’m also hoping it only exists in Mini Mochi, because I have four balls of Mochi Plus (the worsted weight version) in Babyface as well. (I love pastels. Can you tell?) Luckily, since a scarf ends up all wrapped up and most of it hidden inside my coat, the color problem isn’t really much of a problem in real life.

Color matching aside, I enjoyed knitting this scarf. I’ve made the Multidirectional Diagonal Scarf three times now, although my two previous attempts eventually ended up being donated to charity. Nice scarves, both of them, and I can’t even remember why I didn’t hang on to one of them. The other was one of those “what was I thinking?” projects—I ended up making a lovely scarf in colors that I can’t wear well. I hope to want to hang onto this scarf for years to come.


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The need for diversion

There’s nothing like starting the front of a single sweater four times to make you a little sick of it. And between that and probably needing to reknit much of the Plaid Texture pullover and not making much progress on the Slip-Into-Color pullover either, I was feeling a mite frustrated toward all things sweater-y. So I knitted a smoke ring.

It’s not so much that I had a burning desire to knit a smoke ring, but I finally had a pattern that would let me play with Mini Mochi. I’ve admired the yarn for a while, but it seemed intended as sock yarn. Not only do I not knit a lot of socks, but I didn’t think this would be a great yarn for socks. I mean, yeah, it’s 20% nylon, and I understand nylon is supposed to add strength. But that other 80% is merino wool in singles form, all soft and plush (inasmuch as a fingering weight yarn can be plush) and looking as if it would pill and shred the first time you wore the socks. So I restrained myself to just petting it when I visited it at the yarn shop. And then a friend showed off her smoke ring and said that it had taken only one ball of Mini Mochi. I hadn’t been thinking to start the project right away, but then I needed something portable, I was sick of the sweaters, and one thing led to another.

pink smoke ring

It’s wonderfully soft, and warmer than it looks. I think I’ll try another one, in a different colorway, and try another pattern stitch, just for some variety. The pattern said to work until it was 12″ long. That seemed awfully skimpy, though. Unlike my friend, I’d needed to use a second ball anyway (and by the way, keeping Mini Mochi in a color sequence is a bit of a pain), so I just kept knitting until the colors were at a better stopping point, which made the finished smoke ring closer to 15″ long.