Finish one project, start two more. I am not getting ahead here.
But for the moment, I will celebrate a finished project. This is another case of buying the yarn and then trying to find a project that was suitable for it. This particular yarn comes from KnitCircus, and I picked it up at Vogue Knitting Live back in 2016. I loved the name (from The Lord of the Rings!), but I promise, I would’ve left it behind if I didn’t like the colors. But I had indulged in a 669-yard (612 m) cake instead of the 400+ yard (366+ m) skeins I usually get, and it took a while to find a pattern that could be used with that larger size. The colorway name was just a bonus.
It was a fun knit. Yes, a mite repetitive, but when you’re using a gradient yarn, you can always look forward to the color changing even when the knitting itself is getting a bit monotonous. It’s a fairly simple pattern, but it has just enough variation (one row of yarnovers with decreases and two rows with a different increase frequency) to keep me paying attention. Really, the pattern changed enough to hold my interest; it was just that the rows were pretty long at the end.
I’m really enjoying wearing this. It’s a chevron rather than an isosceles triangle, so I can wrap it around my neck without fabric piling up too deeply under my chin. And the larger-than-usual size (for me) makes it easier to tie it attractively.
That bit at the beginning of this post about starting two more projects? One of them is another Kalari shawl. I said I was enjoying it!
I had a lot to blog about when I was doing small projects and finishing them one after another in short succession. Now I’m working on several larger projects and haven’t remembered to say anything about them. (I knew my productivity would drop when I stopped having those weekly conference calls at work!) So, an introduction to the current projects:
Although Passeggiata turned out to be a lovely shawl—after five restarts—I was disappointed that it wasn’t as semicircular as I’d thought it would be. I read up on the construction of semicircular shawls (thank you, new edition of Vogue Knitting) and Randomicity is how I’m putting that into practice. I’m delighted to report that at about 80% done, this shawl has gone beyond semicircular and is more of a major sector.*
I saw this sweater at Shepherd’s Harvest back in 2010. I bought the pattern, bought yarn, and then, for whatever reason, didn’t start the project. Almost a decade later (eek!), it finally felt like the right time to get going on it. Honestly, I hadn’t even realized the pattern had cables until I began knitting it. You knit the back and the fronts as one piece, so it started slowly, but now that I’ve divided for the armholes, it’s going much faster. If I don’t bog down on the sleeves, I might even get it done by this fall (!).
A few weeks ago, I needed a small, mindless project. By this point, neither Randomicity nor Highlander were small, and while Randomicity is pretty straightforward, I need to pay attention to Highlander. The Kalari Shawl was both simple (garter stitch and increases, with a row of yarnover holes to add visual interest) and would use up this nice cake of Knit Circus Trampoline that I’d gotten at Vogue Knitting Live! back in 2016. If this shawl wears well, I may be making more, since it does a lovely job of showing off a gradient.
I rarely participate in knit-alongs, but I saw this being advertised on Jimmy Beans Wool’s site last year and thought I’d try it. This is a shawl on an installment plan. It’s going to go into next year because I probably won’t get the last shipment of yarn until late in December, and it could very well be January before I finish it.
I have to finish something—anything—because I want to start another three or four projects, and I cannot afford to give in to this temptation.
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!”
(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.
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!
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.
Well, it’s finished now, anyway.
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.)
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.
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…
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.
Meet Wild Violets. I realize that at first glance, it looks like a lot of the shawlettes and shawls I’ve done. (And that’s just fine.) What’s significant about it is that this is the first project I’ve done in lace weight yarn. It’s not like I deliberately decided over the years to avoid lace weight, but I just never got around to making anything in it. For one thing, I don’t have a lot of it. Nor do I have much attraction to full-blown lace shawls. You know, the ones that are fiendishly intricate and can only be worked on in total solitude with your phone turned off, your partner away for the evening, and your pets locked up in another room, including your fish. I like a texture challenge, yes, but for me, lace projects are more of an act of endurance than a craft.
And yet, here we are. What made this different? Well, for one thing, I didn’t know what I was getting into when I bought the pattern, because I wasn’t paying attention. One reason Wild Violets looks similar to my other projects is because, like several of my other projects, it’s a Janina Kallio design. She’d had a sale on her patterns last year. I bought a few, including Wild Cherries, without noticing that unlike many (most?) of her designs, this one was written for lace weight yarn. Last August, ready to start another project, I looked through my patterns, saw this, and had the Yes, this is the one! feeling. It was only when I was reading through the pattern to check the details of yarn, needles, and gauge that I realized it was for lace weight.
I do have lace weight yarn in the stash—I have a little bit of almost everything in the stash (except jumbo yarn, and you can safely assume I’ll acquire some of that at some point). I try to avoid buying it, knowing that I’m unlikely to use it, but occasionally a skein is irresistible because of its glorious colors. This Blue Violet colorway, for instance? Knit Picks has used it for lace, fingering, and worsted weight yarn—and I have a project’s quantity of each of them. It was a relief to realize that I had a lace pattern for something I wanted to wear, and that I’d finally be able to use some of this yarn up.
I have observed in the past that I need more yarn than called for when working a Kallio pattern. This time, I did: 898 yards in hand and only 740 yards required. I went and added another pattern repeat—I mean, what else was I going to do with the yarn? I couldn’t then quite finish it off as designed, but I think what I did is just fine (I’ve ended with four garter stitch ridges instead of eight).
The truly tricky part hit me as I was working on it: there wasn’t a chart. I rarely use charts, so I didn’t think it would be an issue. But it was a 36-line pattern with many similar lines, and I was struggling to stay in the right place in the instructions. Once I was past the beginning of a row and not yet at the end, life was fine and I could do the pattern stitch by memory, but because of the constant increasing, every right-side row started and ended at a different point in the pattern. I finally charted it, and both my knitting speed and accuracy went up noticeably.
Oh, the title change? If you look up the original pattern, you’ll see that Kallio made it in a delightful shade of pink. Given the color of my yarn, naturally, I renamed it.
Incidentally, this whole finishing projects bit feels wonderful. I really must do it more often.
Once upon a time, there was a free shawlette pattern called Holden. I admired it, noted that it took one hank of Malabrigo Sock, remembered that I had one hank of Malabrigo Sock, and figured that this was meant to be. Or not. I was into the lace border before I gave up and frogged it. I suspected I didn’t have enough yarn to finish it—I wish designers would give estimates of how much yarn you need for each part of a project—and ripping the whole thing out so discouraged me that I lost all motivation to start over. But it kept flitting around in my memory. And then time passed and I was browsing Ravelry for shawl and shawlette patterns, when I saw Holden again, only it had grown (and was no longer free). What was once a shawlette was now a pattern with options for medium and large sizes and different weights of yarn, and the large size was definitely a shawl, not a shawlette.
Once upon a time, I went a little yarn-wild at Shepherd’s Harvest and instead of buying one manageable skein of a pretty yarn, I bought two. This despite the fact that I didn’t have all that many patterns in mind that could use 918 yards (839 m) of fingering yarn. So the yarn went into the stash. Occasionally I’d see it when I was looking for something else, and I’d want to use it because it was a pretty yarn, but, well, 918 yards.
And then came the day I saw the revised Holden pattern, looked at the yarn requirements, and saw that I could make the fingering weight shawl with most of 918 yards, and my brain made the obvious connection. Four months of knitting and a three-month hiatus* later, I have a Holden shawl. The yarn turned out to be lovely knitted up as well as in the hank. Something must have been off in my gauge swatch, because I ended up with less than ten yards (9 m) after binding off—eek! But it’s done, and I’ve gotten past that first Holden defeat. Although I still haven’t found the right pattern for that hank of Malabrigo Sock.
Oh, and I think you need to start the lace border when you have at least 50% of your yarn left, but unless I make another Holden, I can’t say that for sure.
*How come sometimes stockinette stitch is peacefully mindless and other times it’s unendurably dull?
Yarn-wise, this has been a productive summer. Since I want both to make some inroads on my stash and to stay warm, I’ve been making one shawlette/shawl/cowl/scarf after another. Often I like to try new patterns, but it can be interesting to try different things with patterns I’ve already worked up. So here are a couple of repeats: another Daybreak shawl and another Grande Wrap.
For the Daybreak shawl, I wanted to try something besides pastels. The challenge was to find something Not Pastel that was still light enough not to wash me out and in cool colors so that it wouldn’t clash with both me and my entire wardrobe. So solid gray again as the base color, paired with a yarn that goes through shades of purple, green, and brown. It’s hard for me to find colors that say autumn and don’t make me look ill in the process, but I think this combination worked out pretty well.
After I made a Grande Wrap in February, I wore it a lot. Thanks to the ties, it stays on while I move around, so I decided to make one for work. But things are messier there—dust, ink, book rust, little shredded bits from torn padded envelopes—so a plain off-white shawl did not sound like a good idea. For this version, I chose a colorway that naturally looks like I might have splashed something on it. I named this one the Marble Shawl—Grande Wrap sounds more like a giant burrito than an accessory. 🙂
Muted Daybreak Pattern:Daybreak Yarn: Crystal Palace Mini Solid Color: 1106 Oyster Gray Yarn: Crystal Palace Mini Mochi Color: 324 Drama Needles: 5 (3.75 mm)
It’s winter in the Northern Hemisphere, and even though it seems everyone is getting more snow than we are (okay, New England has gone overboard in this respect, but the South as well? Sheesh), Minnesota is producing some respectably frigid temperatures. So, cozy things to snuggle into for warmth are still catching my eye.
I don’t remember how I ran across this pattern; maybe Lion Brand featured it in one of their newsletters or maybe I was wandering around on their website and found it. Anyway, the pattern says that the wrap—which I think of as a shawl, and we could have a whole ‘nother discussion about the terminology for these things—can be worn 8 different ways. That piqued my interest, so even though the pattern itself wasn’t all that exciting, I downloaded a copy just in case. Months later, during a trip to Michaels for something else entirely, I saw they had Wool-Ease Thick & Quick on sale. And here we are.
As you can probably guess, this wasn’t a project I chose for the technological challenge. This is a garter stitch triangle with cords. Made from super bulky yarn, though, it’s a warm garter stitch triangle, and that’s the important part. Indeed, I’m wearing it as I write this in my chilly office, and it’s doing its job just fine.
I did play around with the pattern a bit. In the original, you do the cords in flat stockinette stitch, 3 stitches wide, and let it curl inwards. I figured, just do I-cord. By the way, I-cord is even more annoying to work when you have to use a circular needle because you’re too stubborn to buy a set of size 13 double-pointed needles just for one project. I decided to use a suspended bind-off because I wanted something firm to keep the garter stitch from stretching out too far, but something with more give to it than the traditional bind-off.
Now in an ideal world, I’d make it out of super bulky merino or alpaca or something, but Wool-Ease Thick & Quick a) is affordable, b) has enough wool in it to not feel plasticky the way some acrylic yarns can, and c) is machine-washable and -dryable. If I tried to wash this by hand, the weight of this much sodden yarn would probably drag me to the floor. It measures 29″ (74 cm) long by 58″ (147 cm) wide, not counting the cords, which are 23″ (58 cm) long.
That last bit, incidentally, is why there aren’t any pictures of me wearing it draped simply over my shoulders, untied. It turns out that the cords trail on the floor when I do that. I’m making a wild guess that Lion Brand’s model is noticeably taller than I am. 🙂