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.

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


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Antarktis

In March, I went to the Great Guild Getaway. I’d brought along the gray sweater, but having only one project for an entire weekend was too monotonous. (Sleeves. Worked two at a time. Necessary, but done more out of duty and the determination to finish this sweater rather than pleasure.) So I started another shawlette. It nearly didn’t get going because I hadn’t brought along a needle large enough to get gauge, but I was able to borrow one (thanks, K.!) and dive in. Note to self: always bring a full set of needles. Always.

By now, you probably know just by looking that this is another pattern from Janina Kallio. This one is Antarktis, which Google Translate tells me is how you say “Antarctica” in Finnish, German, Norwegian, and Swedish. I didn’t know that when I started, so my choice of a yarn in icy turquoise and blue shades was coincidental. I’m sure whoever named this color Pegaso was imagining Pegasus flying through blue skies on a sunny day, but I think of water whenever I see this colorway. I hoped I’d have enough yarn, because the pattern calls for 400 yards (366 m) and I had 415 yards (380 m), but I still ended up leaving out one pattern repeat in the final mesh section and half a repeat of the lace border.

There was nothing particularly memorable in the knitting process, which is good for my enjoyment of the knitting—”memorable” too often means I had to rip something out—but leaves me with little to write about. I cannot offer you Grand Drama this time, merely a photo of the shawlette.

Antarktis shawlette

So far, no major upheavals with the gray sweater either. Again, not a bad thing from my perspective. I’m really ready to be done with it, though. Only 52 rows until the end of the sleeves!

—–

Antarktis
Pattern: Antarktis
Yarn: Malabrigo Mechita
Colorway: 892 Pegaso
Needles: 7 (4.5 mm)


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Well-loved patterns

With summer over, I found myself with more time to manipulate yarn. I had fun using patterns I already loved, mainly to see how they looked in new yarns.

First up, another Fortune’s Shawlette. By now, three times in, I’m quite familiar with the pattern. But when I saw this colorway, I knew instantly that I wanted it and that this is what I wanted to do with it. I mean, seriously, it’s in shades of blue, pink, and purple. That’s basically the heart of my wardrobe—how could I not use this yarn? And the joy of the Fortune’s Shawlette pattern is that variegated yarn shows up as spots of color rather than streaks.

triangular lace shawlette

Fortune’s Shawlette

And after that, as promised, another Be Simple Variations shawlette. I’d planned to make another one of these, and maybe more than one, since they wear well in the sense of not falling easily off my shoulders. The last thing I made in this colorway just never was much fun to wear, and I wanted something that I actually liked. The colorway is out of production, so I figured this was my last shot at it. There’s the tiniest hint of orange in it, a color I so rarely get to wear, but with this much pink and purple around it, I can carry it off.

besimplepink1

Be Simple Variations shawlette (pink)…

Close-up photo of the Be Simple Variations shawlette.

…and a close-up of the stitch pattern and the picot bind-off.

And there they are: two more shawlettes in favorite styles and my shawlette drawer that much closer to bursting at the seams. Oh yeah, wrecked furniture—now that’ll give me a sense of accomplishment!

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Fortune’s Shawlette (blue/pink/purple)
Pattern: Fortune’s Shawlette
Yarn: Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock
Color: 26 Wisteria
Hook: 7.0 mm

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Be Simple Variations (pink)
Pattern: Be Simple Variations
Yarn: Dream in Color Smooshy
Color: Cool Fire
Needles: 5 (3.75 mm)


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Blue, blue, and more blue

I could tell you tales of this yarn. How I bought it and its cousin—a similar yarn in shades of pink—in 2013: my first gradient yarns. That I’ve tried it in multiple projects, but have had to pull it repeatedly for failure to get gauge. (Supposedly a fingering weight yarn, it has behaved more like a light fingering.) That even though the label stated it was 75% merino wool and 25% nylon, it felt about as soft as kitchen twine. (The page for this yarn on Ravelry makes no claims that the wool is merino.) That eventually I started referring to it as “the problem child.”

Or I could just show you what it finally became:

besimpleblue1

Be Simple Variations is one of those patterns that doesn’t hold you to a specific weight of yarn, so I could stop worrying about getting gauge. Since I no longer had to force this yarn into unsuitable gauges, I went down a needle size, which gave me garter stitch with some cushiness to it, not a limp mess. I started at the narrower (dark blue) end, and while that first shade seemed to go on forever, once the color started to change, knitting the shawlette became downright addictive. Like with long-repeat yarns, I got into a mindset of Just one more pattern repeat and maybe the color will change again…!

besimpleblue2Well, now I’ve learned that the yarn at the beginning of the project, the narrower end of an asymmetrical triangle, is the part that’s going to be closest to my face. Also, a picot bindoff is a much more interesting way of ending a shawlette, given that the wide end is so visible. It consumes yarn a lot faster than you think it’s going to. I had enough yarn left for four rows—half a pattern repeat—when I started the bindoff, but I only had a few yards left at the end. And much to my delight, the yarn softened the second it touched water. It’s still not merino, but it’s not going to be mistaken for burlap either. Another bonus, from the pattern rather than the yarn, is that Be Simple Variations is a good shape for wearing. Once I get it wrapped, it pretty much stays put, instead of my having to constantly tug at it. That inspired me to make a second one, in a randomly-dyed tonal-ish yarn that I’d been saving for a good pattern. (Watch this space for the future Be Simple Variations (pink) shawlette!)

Since I bought this yarn, Knitcircus has discontinued Greatest of Ease I, but when I saw their booth at the Vogue Knitting Live Marketplace a couple of weeks ago, I walked away with two cakes of their Trampoline yarn. (Plus a few other things from the Marketplace, but overall, I was amazed at my restraint.) Both in gradients, of course. Of course, the pink Sock du Soleil yarn from 2013 is still waiting for its perfect pattern—a bit of a challenge, as I don’t have many patterns in mind for only 420 yards (384 m). And I’m going to find the time to knit this yarn and all the rest in the stash when?

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Be Simple Variations (blue)
Pattern: Be Simple Variations
Yarn: Knitcircus Greatest of Ease I
Colorway: Ocean Depths
Needles: 5 (3.75 mm)


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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.

herald5

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!

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


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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.

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


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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.

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

FortunesShawletteGrayPinkCorner

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.

FortunesShawletteGrayPinkOn

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.)

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


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Fortune’s Shawlette

This project is Facebook’s fault. Years ago, I “liked” some knitting and crochet-related pages. Now Facebook occasionally tosses “suggested posts” about knitting and crochet onto my Wall. As this beats all the ads they’ve ever shown me about Older Men Seek Faithful Women (shudder), I haven’t been complaining. Some of these posts come from Moogly, and if the pattern looks appealing, I track it down on Ravelry and favorite it, which is how I met the Fortune’s Shawlette.

Fortune's Shawlette.

In its full glory.

A bit of yarn.

All that remained.

What called to me about it? It’s crochet, and I’m still in a mighty crocheting mood. It uses one hank of KnitPicks’ Hawthorne Fingering: I had two single hanks waiting to be used in great patterns. It was lacy: a change from what I’ve been making lately. And above and beyond all that: I saw it and I wanted it.

Unfortunately, fortune was not as kind to me as it was to the designer. I knew from the get-go that making the shawlette exactly as written was chancy because the designer had said she finished with only one yard left, and when I read through the project notes on Ravelry, most people who’d used Hawthorne had run out of yarn before the end. I had to rip back two rows to gain enough yarn to do the edging. Later, I realized I’d left out the last row, but judging from how much yarn I have left, I don’t think I could’ve done the entire edging if I’d remembered it. It’s along the top edge of the shawlette, though, the part that’s bunched up around my neck, and the only time the loss is obvious is in photos when the shawlette is laid flat.

Unblocked shawlette.

Pre-glory: unblocked.

I like how the pattern stitch shows off the color bursts in the yarn. This is a variant of a crochet stitch called the Diagonal Box Stitch. For those of you who knit, it’s worked somewhat like entrelac: you make rows of little squares tilted diagonally. If you knitted or crocheted this yarn the “normal” way, the patches of bright blue would show up as bright lines in your knitting, but this stitch turns them into little boxes instead. Cool.

Up close.

Up close.

Result? Love at first sight. I wet-blocked it, pinned it out, stood back to make sure everything was symmetrical, and wanted it dry right that moment so that I could try it on. I’m not going to start another one until I finish another current project, but that shouldn’t take all that long. Meanwhile I’m studying my stash, trying to find another excellent yarn—one with more yardage. I’m determined that my next Fortune’s Shawlette will be full size, so even though my other hank of Hawthorne would look great in this pattern, I’m going to use something with at least 420 yards (384 m) to it. (A hank of Hawthorne has 357 yards (326 m). Too much for a cowl, not enough for a shawlette. Aargh.) But trust me, it’s not like I’m lacking viable candidates in my overflowing stash. Depending on how long my passion lasts for this pattern, I may be making several of these.

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Fortune’s Shawlette
Pattern: Fortune’s Shawlette
Yarn: Knit Picks Hawthorne Fingering
Color: Irvington
Hook: J (6.0 mm)


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So close!

Still on a small projects kick, I decided to knit another Damson shawlette. This was going to be a no-brainer. I’ve made two Damsons already, and I was using a yarn I’d used before for this pattern. Off I went with a nice, near-mindless project that would use up a tiny fraction of my stash.

I ran out of yarn 4 rows before the end.

Damson shawlette on needle.

I blame this particular hank of yarn for being a little short. It’s advertised as being 4 ounces (113.4 g), but weighing my hank, I get 110 g (3.9 oz.). That 3% difference was enough to, well, not be enough. It’s a painful reminder to weigh your yarn before starting a project, especially when you’re only using one skein. Although now I have further evidence for my hypothesis that if you’ve only used 45% or less of your yarn when you finish the garter stitch section, you’ll have enough left to finish the shawlette. I’d used 50% of this hank for the garter stitch section. But this isn’t the way I wanted to test said hypothesis.

I do have options:

  1. Rip the whole thing out and reknit it one needle size smaller.
    • Pro: I’ll have a shawlette!
    • Con: I’ll have a shawlette that’s smaller. I don’t want it any smaller.
  2. Finish the edge with a different yarn.
    • Pro: I’ll have a shawlette!
    • Con: I want the focus on the body of the shawlette, not the edge, and if the edge is in a different color, it may draw attention to itself. Also, I don’t have any yarn on hand that would match unless I break into an unopened hank, which I just don’t want to do, even if it’s only for a few yards.
  3. Rip the whole thing out and use the yarn for a different project.
    • Pro: I’ll have a project (shawlette? cowl? scarf?) that I actually like.
    • Con: I won’t have this shawlette, and there went all those hours of knitting.

I’m leaning towards #3 because it’s occurred to me to try a Damson in heavier yarn and see if I like it being bigger and warmer. Dream in Color offers the same colorways in their worsted weight yarn that they do in their fingering weight, or I could play with any of the other great yarns out there. And wouldn’t that be better than a Damson that was merely adequate?

Meanwhile, I’ve started a cowl to console myself. Hmph.

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The Damson That Wasn’t
Yarn: Smooshy by Dream in Color
Color: Cool Fire
Needle: 5 (3.75 mm)