Catching up

It’s like I’ve been knitting faster than I’ve been writing. It would probably be more accurate to say that I’ve been knitting more often than I’ve been writing. Whichever way you phrase it, what it means is that we’re well into 2019, and there are projects I finished in 2018 that have yet to see the light of blog. So this is a summary post to get them documented before I forget about them writing-wise altogether.

Reyna

I never know what to do with hanks of fingering weight yarn that are less than 400 yards (366 m), and I only had 395 yards (361 m) of this lovely yarn. Ravelry’s pattern browser came to the rescue. I found Reyna, one of those patterns that looks fancier than just plain garter or stockinette stitch, but lets you stop when you run out of yarn instead of frantically trying to wrap things up at the end of a pattern repeat. Cleverly, the garter stitch bands remain the same from one repeat to the next, but the mesh sections double in width. I’m thinking to try Reyna again with a yarn that I have lots and lots of, just to watch the pattern develop.

(Click to enlarge.)

Gradient Spiral Shawl

Another cake of gradient-dyed yarn and me wondering what to do with it. The pattern for the Gradient Spiral Shawl looks like mindless knitting. I figured it was just garter stitch with regular increases and decreases to produce the spiral shape, and so this would be the perfect project to take along to social events.

Nope.

See those little loops on the outside of the curve? That’s I-cord. And sure, I-cord itself isn’t complicated, but this is I-cord that has to be the same number of rows for each loop, or it becomes obvious when you stand back and look at the shawlette as a whole. And it’s I-cord that gets worked by itself on some rows and worked with the rest of the row on other rows, for joining. And meanwhile, on the inner edge, that’s also I-cord. It made for a lovely shawlette, and I might make another one someday, but it most certainly isn’t mindless knitting!

(Did I mention the I-cord bindoff?)

Dawn Cowl

With the two projects above, I already had the yarn, and went off looking for patterns to use them in. This project was planned from the very beginning. I love the Zuzu’s Petals cowl I did a few years ago. I had vague thoughts of making another one, but for that, I needed another ball of Catnip or its equivalent, and I don’t stockpile worsted weight yarn the way I do fingering. But then Twisted Fiber Art came up with this new colorway. Instant love on my part, and then I remembered I was in the market for Catnip anyway…

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Reyna
Pattern: Reyna
Yarn: Blackberry Ridge Mer-made Fingering Weight
Colorway: Wild Rose
Needles: 5 (3.75 mm)

Gradient Spiral Shawl
Pattern: Gradient Spiral Shawl
Yarn: Twisted Fiber Art Muse Evolution
Colorway: Zen
Needles: 4 (3.5 mm)

Dawn Cowl
Pattern: Zuzu’s Petals
Yarn: Twisted Fiber Art Catnip Evolution
Colorway: Dawn
Needles: 7 (4.5 mm)

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)

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!

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

The positive effects of conference calls on shawlette production

Hot weather squelches the writing urge. It’s supposed to get up to 99° F (37° C) today—the average for today is 73° F (23° C)—and my focus has baked away in the summer spring sunlight. I am actually contemplating a trip to the Mall of America mainly to hide in their air conditioning. But before I go (there or somewhere else), I have locked myself in with my own air conditioner and my computer, determined to get a blog post out.

I’m impressed at how much knitting I’m getting done despite the weather. A major factor is that as we prepare to switch to a new library management system at work, I’ve had to sit through a series of live trainings, conference calls, and webinars. I hardly need to take notes nowadays (“I’ll have the  PowerPoint uploaded to the conference website by tomorrow” is a standard refrain at the modern presentation), which leaves me free to knit the hours away. (And it is hours. Lots of them. Ack!) I continue to network via knitting. At the last training, I connected with another librarian who’d brought a couple of fingerless glove projects with her to get her through the days. Also, I’d been wearing shawlettes to the training and sitting close to the front of the room. One morning, the trainer saw me in the restroom and asked if I was wearing a Hitchhiker.* Yep, another knitter. The next day, she started the presentation in her usual way by asking if there were any questions on yesterday’s material, and then interrupted herself to call out, “Hey there, Knitter! I see you!” much to the amusement of the other people at my table.

Woman modeling Summer Sky shawlette.My new Summer Sky shawlette exists because of these trainings. When our library consortium launched the transition to the new system back in January, I needed a project for the two-day event. I chose my yarn, figured out which needle I’d use, and headed off to St. Cloud. The shawlette began quite normally, with a section of garter stitch. I knitted away, looking forward to the first mesh section for a little variety. The thing is, I hadn’t looked all that closely at the pattern beyond what I’d need to work it. I thought the mesh would be Janina Kallio’s traditional (yo, k2tog) mesh. Nope. It was a pattern stitch called Open Star Lace: pretty, but harder to work. It’s built around a (yo, k3pso) repeat, where k3pso means knit 3 stitches, then pass the first of these stitches over the other two. I hadn’t brought a lace needle with me, and I was having the hardest time getting the point of the needle into that first stitch. My hands ached after a row of this. And yes, I was trapped away from home with this as my only project (sob!). When I got home, I promptly ignored it in favor of projects that were more fun and easier on my hands.

SummerSky2But the trainings continued, and we started a series of twice-weekly conference calls. I finally got tired of feeling like a slacker every time I saw Summer Sky’s project bag, and began taking it to work. Luckily for my hands and my patience, Open Star Lace gets easier with practice. Several conference calls and most of a four-day training later, I have a new shawlette! Weather permitting, I’m thinking about wearing it on January 31, when we’re supposed to go live with the new LMS.

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Summer Sky
Pattern: Summer Sky
Yarn: Cascade Yarns Heritage Silk Paints
Colorway: Misty Blue (9942)
Needles: 5 (3.75 mm)


*It was actually a Be Simple Variations shawlette, but they’re similar.

 

Downton Herald

I am not on a yarn diet. I pore over all yarn catalogs and when I go to Shepherds’ Harvest next month, I don’t expect to leave empty-handed. But having done major weeding of my stash last year, I want to make a noticeable dent in what’s left. Now that all my yarns have been photographed and entered in Ravelry, it’s easy for me to browse through them, which means I do it a lot more often.

I adore gradient yarns. Also, I have opinions about them. As far as I’m concerned, the colors should evolve smoothly. If I can tell that the color changed from one row to the next, why even bother buying a gradient yarn? I might as well have bought different colors of a yarn and made a striped project. I love many of Twisted Fiber Art’s yarns because they dye the transitions so subtly. Although the yarns from Twisted Fiber Art are towards the “bottom” of my virtual stash (arranged alphabetically), I’ve been coming back to them, determined to knit or crochet with one as soon as possible.

Downton Herald shawlette laid flat to show the color changes.Last month, I needed a new knitting project. I was doing two conferences back to back and needed something to work on during all those panels and presentations. I put this yarn and this pattern together for several reasons. I wanted a pattern that would highlight the color changes without being horribly boring to knit or unpleasant to wear. I’ve enjoyed wearing my white Herald shawlette, and I figured it would look just as good with a gradient yarn as with a perfectly plain one. Herald had another point in its favor: it’s one of those patterns that you work until it’s as big as you like or until you run out of yarn, whichever comes first. When using a gradient yarn, this is good because it will use up almost all the yarn. This particular yarn finishes in such a lovely shade of blue, and I wanted as much of it in the final shawlette as possible. And of course there was the knitting itself: complicated enough to hold my interest, but easy enough for me to pay attention to what the presenters were saying.

So yay: I finally got to use one of the Twisted Fiber Art yarns! The dent in the stash may not be noticeable to anyone besides me, but there are a few cubic inches of open space in one of the storage tubs that wasn’t there before. The project went pretty quickly. Those two conferences made for five days of more knitting time than I usually get, and I was 55% done by the end of the second one. And then had to slow down to more mortal speeds when I went back to normal life. The yarn itself is motivating: keep knitting in the hope of witnessing a color change. The major frustration was spraining my wrist on the day I planned to bind off, which set me back a week and made blocking even more unpleasant than it usually is. But it’s done!

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Downton Herald
Pattern: Herald
Yarn: Twisted Fiber Art Muse Evolution
Colorway: Downton
Needles: 6 (4.0 mm)

Asterism (another project starting with A)

I realized recently that I’ve done several projects beginning with the letter A. From Janina Kallio alone, I’ve done Asterism, Antarktis, and Ardent. Last year, I did Aramingo, from a different designer, and a few years ago, the Alkira Cowl. And that’s not counting my several Aran projects, although since Aran is a distinctive look and not just a random name assigned to a pattern, it doesn’t seem to be the same thing. And yes, all the A names are starting to run together in my mind, although each project is memorable individually.

Asterism shawlette

Asterism gave me the chance to use a yarn I’d unburied from my stash. I did a major destashing last year, and while I was at it, reorganized every single skein I kept. This brought this lovely skein of Zitron Trekking XXL to the surface, and when I was in the mood to do another shawlette, I thought of it. I figured Asterism’s wide bands of garter stitch would show off the blue and green nicely and the single rows of eyelets would add a little visual interest. Too lacy a design would probably just muddle the colors, since there isn’t much contrast between them. The Trekking XXL has been in my stash since before I started recording purchase dates, so that probably means it dates back to before I joined Ravelry…ooh, at least 11 years. Okay, I’m impressed.

Closeup of Asterism shawlette

Again, I ran out of yarn before the end of the pattern; again, this was unexpected. Asterism calls for 437 yards (400 m), and while my skein of Trekking XXL was a bit skimpy—97 g instead of 100 g—I still had 445 yards (407 m) on hand. I didn’t even make it through the first row of the mesh border. I had to rip back through an entire garter stitch band, and then I just knitted mesh until I ran out of yarn. This is the third time this has happened to me with one of Kallio’s patterns, and it’s frustrating. Yes, I’m knitting to the stated gauge. I even checked the gauge again shortly before starting the final border, and I was precisely on target, for all the good that did. What I’ve knitted is lovely, but it would be nice to have a project come out as intended.

Okay, so note to self: allow lots of extra yarn for my next Kallio project. And meanwhile, I will be rejoicing in having finished a project—whee!—and looking forward to wearing it. (In February, I’m still wearing my warmest sweaters, which are interesting enough visually that adding a shawlette would look weird. So this is waiting for warmer weather.)

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Asterism
Pattern: Asterism
Yarn: Zitron Trekking XXL
Colorway: 184
Needles: 6 (4.0 mm)

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)

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)

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

—–

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

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)