Silver Threads

a knitting blog with occasional side trips


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Holden Shawl

Hey, I’ve knit a Holden!

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.mer-madeplusfingering_blackberry_medium

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.Holden3

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.Holden2

*How come sometimes stockinette stitch is peacefully mindless and other times it’s unendurably dull?

—–

Holden Shawl
Pattern: Holden
Yarn: Blackberry Ridge Mer-made Plus Fingering
Color: Blackberry
Needles: 6 (4.0 mm)

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And again!

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.

Daybreak shawlette

Daybreak

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.

Marble Shawl

Marble Shawl

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. 🙂
MarbleShawl2

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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)

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Marble Shawl
Pattern: Grande Wrap
Yarn: Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick
Color: 505 Marble
Needles: 13 (9.0 mm)


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Mega-shawl!

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.

Grande Wrap

The shawl itself.

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.

GrandeWrap2

I like this style (tied at the back): it’s secure, but I can move around easily.

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.

GrandeWrap1

Once I got it arranged, it was cozy and warm, but it was hard to get the points to wrap around me without leaving gaps.

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.

GrandeWrap3

I doubt I’ll ever wear it this way. But I could! (I feel stately as all get-out in this picture.)

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. 🙂

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Grande Wrap
Pattern: Grande Wrap
Yarn: Lion Brand Wool-Ease Thick & Quick
Color: 99 Fisherman
Needles: 13 (9.0 mm)


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Viajante completed

Having worked on this for almost a year, now I’m not sure what to say about it. 😀

Viajante worn as a short wrap.Viajante is a shawl pattern by Martina Behm. I nicknamed it “The Pink Thing” because nobody watching me knit it could figure out what it was. Basically, it’s a large stockinette stitch cone, with a garter stitch section at the narrow end and a border of mesh lace on the wide end. The whole thing is knit on the bias by increasing two stitches on every round on one side of the circle while decreasing two stitches every other round on the other side. You can wrap it around your shoulders like a shawl or pull it over your head like a poncho. I’m not sure what attracted me to it in the first place. I mean, I like what it looks like, but it was clear that it was going to involve a lot of (boring) mindless knitting, and usually I’m a process knitter more than a product knitter. I gave myself a year to finish it, because without a deadline of some sort, it was doomed to become a UFO. In the end, it wasn’t the miles of stockinette stitch that did me in, but the mesh lace border. The stockinette stitch was sort of meditative, but I had to pay attention to the mesh lace (eek!), plus working 100+ SSK’s in a row was hard on my hands.

Viajante shawl, front view.Although it’s generally an easy pattern, there were a few hiccups at the beginning. Behm used Wollmeise Lace-Garn. I chose Shimmer, a laceweight yarn from KnitPicks that I’d wanted to use for a while. Too bad it looked wretched at the gauge called for: all loose and limp like cheesecloth. If the gauge swatch was having trouble holding its shape, imagine what an entire shawl was going to look like. I went searching for suggestions and answers on Ravelry and learned that despite its name, Wollmeise Lace-Garn is more like a light fingering yarn. But I was determined to use the Shimmer—what else was I going to do with it?—so I bought more of it and tried again with the yarn held double. This was definitely the way to go. It may be heavier than a shawl made from Lace-Garn would have been, but it’s still sheer and light. Shimmer is 70% alpaca and 30% silk, so it’s plenty warm for its weight (and soft!). And as it turned out, holding the two strands together made the coloring more interesting. Lamb switches between pink and white with no intermediate shades. Using the yarn doubled resulted in parts that are white and parts that are pink, but mostly the shawl is a heathered pink, and overall the effect is remarkably like marbling.

Viajante shawl worn as a wrap.Viajante shawl viewed from the back.The final dimensions were 58½” (149 cm) long by 62″ (157 cm) wide. Behm’s schematic shows a nice cone shape. Mine is more like an L. I suspect using M1 increases on every round distorted the fabric. I did try to knit those stitches loosely, but, well, it’s an easy thing to forget. It’s only noticeable when the shawl is laid out flat, though. If anything, the added curve makes it easier to drape the shawl around my shoulders. Perhaps I should have noticed that in the pattern photos, Behm models the shawl herself and she’s much taller than I am. Depending on how I wear it, I can feel a little lost in the final product!

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Viajante
Yarn: KnitPicks Shimmer Hand Dyed Lace Yarn
Color: Lamb
Needles: 4 (3.5 mm), 6 (4.0 mm)


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September update

Clearly, knitting blogs were meant to be written by people who either knit small projects or knit large objects at a ferocious pace and finish them quickly. I have done neither lately, although I am knitting fairly regularly.

For the moment, I’m focusing on Viajante. Because this is the sort of project that I find easy to forget about—endless rounds of stockinette stitch—I set myself a deadline for the Pink Thing. I started it in the last days of December 2013, and I plan to finish it before the year is up. Which means that I should be three-quarters finished by the end of September. This had been a reasonable pace, it seemed, up until summer. The Pink Thing is alpaca and silk. It’s a doubled strand of laceweight alpaca and silk, nice and light, but, well, alpaca and silk. It’s warm. Not surprisingly, I’d been finding other things to knit during July and August. And suddenly it was September and I was barely past the halfway point. Oops. So now I’m being temporarily monogamous with it while I race to get back on schedule. I was at 70% this morning: there’s hope!

TruLoveBites cowl on needle.

I know it looks like a cap in this photo, but it’s a cowl. Really.

One of the projects that had diverted me from working on Viajante was the Tru Love Bites cowl, my project for knitting at the state fair this year. Alas, I have frogged it. It did get me through my Knitters’ Guild shift, and I’d kept at it, figuring it would be a quick, fun break. But there were problems from the get-go. I used the yarn called for, but I didn’t like how it looked at the gauge called for. Then the pattern was riddled with errors. I had been warned about them by reading about the pattern on Ravelry, and I could work my way through them, but they were annoying, not fun. And then despite the tighter gauge I was knitting at, I ran out of yarn six rounds before the end, at which point I decided the project was doomed and gave up. But before I ripped it out, I slipped it off the needle and tried it on, and that has inspired me to try again. I really like how it drapes around my neck. I plan to tackle it again, armed with my notes from my first attempt, and using a DK weight yarn which should look much better at the recommended gauge. Plus, DK weight yarn will make a warmer cowl, and given the temperature in my office, that isn’t a bad thing.


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Daybreak x 2

Back in May, I finished knitting a Daybreak shawl. Normally, I would have written about it then, but I planned to use it for one of the posts for this year’s Knitting and Crochet Blog Week, so I kept it off the blog. Meanwhile, though, I’d been thinking over what knitting it had been like, and I decided I wanted to make the pattern again to try a different color combination, but in the small size. So here’s one blog post for two versions of the same pattern.

ball of yarnI chose to knit my first Daybreak shawl because I had a Crazy Zauberball that I didn’t know what else to do with. This is probably the only pastel Zauberball colorway in existence. But even though it’s tranquility itself compared to most Zauberballs, this particular specimen looked like an Easter egg, and I suspected it would be Too Much if I knitted it into anything by itself. Daybreak, though, had stripes of a contrasting color, which would make it far more palatable. So I picked out a nice sensible gray and had at it. This turned out to be a wise choice for more than just color reasons because the Stroll is softer than the Zauberball, and it’s the yarn that’s most likely to touch my bare neck. The only drawback was that my nice sensible gray was a slightly heavier yarn than the Zauberball, so the pastel parts got a bit lacy in comparison. And even though the Zauberball should have had more than enough yardage for this project, I ran short and had to end one pattern repeat short.

Daybreak shawl

Daybreak shawl

The Daybreak pattern comes in small, medium, and large sizes. I’d chosen the large size so that I’d use up most of the Zauberball (not intending to run out entirely!). The small size was the right size for me to use a single ball of Mini Mochi, although at least I knew going into this one that there wasn’t going to be quite enough yarn—which I can deal with when I know ahead of time that’s going to be an issue. To avoid the problem I’d had with Stroll and Zauberball not being the same weight, I used Mini Solid for the top part, which is the same yarn as Mini Mochi, only, well, solid. Does Crystal Palace seriously mean for this yarn to be used for socks? Baby socks, maybe, socks for people who aren’t walking much yet. Yeah, it’s got nylon in it, but it’s barely spun: just mostly fibers that have agreed to lie parallel to each other. But I love the yarn because it comes in a lot of wonderful colorways, and it’s really soft, even by the standards of merino wool, which is what I want next to my neck.

Daybreak shawlette

Daybreak shawlette

I have plans for at least one more small Daybreak, in a more somber palette, although if I find something else to use the yarn in, I’m willing to let myself repurpose it. Yes, I can knit things that aren’t pastel. Why do you ask?

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Daybreak shawl
Solid yarn: KnitPicks Stroll
Color: Ash
Variegated yarn: Schoppel-Wolle Crazy Zauberball
Color: 2096
Needle: 4 (3.5 mm)

Daybreak shawlette
Solid yarn: Crystal Palace Mini Solid
Color: 1100 Natural Ecru
Variegated yarn: Crystal Palace Mini Mochi
Color: 111 Baby Face
Needle: 5 (3.75 mm)


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Yarnover 2014

Yarn buddy (yarn holder) and skein of yarn.

Someday, perhaps, these two will meet again in a project.

All the waiting for it to be Yarnover finally turned into it actually being Yarnover yesterday. We got there in plenty of time to thoroughly examine the Yarn Market. I was fairly restrained this year, only bringing home a “yarn buddy” and a single skein of yarn. I’m not sure how much use the yarn buddy will get, but I’ve been curious about them for a while now, and since I wasn’t blowing all my accumulated savings on yarn this year, I figured, well, why not? I don’t know as I’d want to haul it anywhere, but for knitting (or crocheting) at home, it should work just fine. The yarn is a luscious silk/merino blend, fingering weight, and a different shade of pink than most in my stash. Not that you can see the pink streaks in this photo—the yarn is cream and super-pale pink—but really, they’re there. And buying a brand called The Grinning Gargoyle is fun in its own right.

Classes? Oh yeah, I went to classes, didn’t I? My morning class was “Starter Plug and Play Shawls” with Amy Singer. It was a good class with excellent handouts. I don’t think I’ll use the yarn I brought for the class for a shawl, but the technique made sense, and I can use it for a yarn that looks more interesting when turned into lace. The yarn I brought, a solid off-white fingering weight, spent the class murmuring quietly that a lace shawl was all very well and good, but it thought it should be something crocheted with textured stitches, or perhaps something with cables. It was distracting trying to hear the teacher over the yarn. I can probably find an immediate use for the shawl border she taught us. It feels like almost every shawl or shawlette I’ve done has a border of two or three garter stitches, and that’s a perfectly decent edging, but I’m bored with it. She has a simple alternative that ends up looking like applied I-cord, without being tedious to work like applied I-cord is. Yay!

Yarn vendor and knitters at Yarnover.

The merest hint of the wealth of yarn and other goodies available.

My afternoon class was Carson Demers’ second class on knitting ergonomics: “Swatchbuckling.” I’d taken the first class at Yarnover last year. It was theory; this was practice. I don’t know how far I’ll be able to take his advice to look up as much as possible and not at your knitting. Yes, I can knit simple stuff without looking at what I’m doing, but I like seeing the stitches form and seeing how the color changes in the yarn work out in the actual project. (Hmph.) On the bright side, I seem to hold the needles and move the yarn mostly all right, although my purling technique could do with some tweaking. I wasn’t thrilled to see the “horror” video again. He has short videos of different people knitting, some in healthy ways, some not so much. One is of someone knitting who has strained their left hand so much while knitting that a tendon in the forefinger has ruptured, causing a bulge at the knuckle and preventing them from ever straightening that finger again. Yeegh. Oh yeah, I’m feeling motivated to modify my purling! Not that it was all gloom and doom. At one point, he had us get up and try walking while knitting. Walking while knitting while not actually looking at our knitting, that is. So there we are, out in the hallway going around in a slow circle, when a classmate commented that we looked like monks in prayer. Maybe I should try this while listening to Gregorian chants.

By the way, Carson Demers does not recommend this practice when climbing stairs. Just so you know.

 


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A project of firsts

There are knitalongs (KALs), where participants decide to knit the same pattern at the same time. There are also mystery projects, where a designer releases a pattern bit by bit and you find out what it will look like by knitting it. I’ve never done either until this pattern came along, which was both a KAL and a mystery. Yes, I plunged into something, armed only with a promise that somehow this was going to turn into a shawl. This is not normal behavior for me, but this pattern (what little I knew about it) was intriguing. Follow Your Arrow is a knitting pattern done in the style of choose your own adventure. There were going to be five clues over five weeks. Each clue would have two alternatives, and at each stage, you’d choose one or the other, and yet no matter which one you chose, either of the next week’s clues would fit it. I couldn’t resist the sheer technical magnificence of the whole thing.

Choosing a yarn for a mystery project is a challenge. If you don’t know what the finished item will look like (“shawl” is kind of vague), how can you best match yarn to project? Despite having a stash large enough that it should be paying a share of my rent, I didn’t have enough of any one yarn in the gauge called for. I ended up buying Silky Wool in color 10 (Woad). I’ve been curious about this yarn for years, so here was a chance to try it, and the KAL experience, and the mystery pattern experience all at once.

Clue 1A

Clue 1A

January 13: Clue 1A was a set of written directions; Clue 1B had a chart. 1A had instructions on how to start a row with a yarnover, which I’d never thought of doing, and there was something about it making a kite shape when you were done. 1B’s chart looked as if there would be be some sort of zigzag design involved. I’m atrocious at visualizing things from reading written instructions, so I chose 1A to see what it would turn into, whereas with 1B’s chart, I figured I had some idea of where that would take me. My choice turned out to work well for my yarn. Silky Wool shows off texture wonderfully, and the stripes of stockinette and garter stitch let it shine.

Clue 2B

Clue 2B

January 20: Clue 2A had a chart and was definitely looking lacy. 2B, like 1A, was a set of written directions that I couldn’t turn into a picture, but it was saying something about short rows. Having just decided that Silky Wool was excellent for texture, I wanted more of it. I thought 2B might even out the wedge, and if nothing else, it would be interesting seeing how the garter stitch lay against what I already had.

Clue 3A

Clue 3A

January 27: At Clue 3, all roads led to lace. I was trying to see a shawl in the shape I had, and failing. I chose 3A mainly because I just didn’t feel called to the zigzag pattern I could see in 3B’s chart. This clue was only 12 rows long, and what with staying home unexpectedly (the polar vortex was producing dangerous wind chills that day), I zipped through this clue.

Clue 4A

Clue 4A

February 3: Clue 4A was described as being more complicated than 4B, so I went for it. Ysolda Teague, who’d been participating actively in the KAL (and that’s really cool), produced a video just for the 3-into-5 stitch that’s part of this clue (it forms those rounded corners on the left and bottom of the shawl), and I had to try it.  I was happy to see that Clue 4A incorporated garter stitch. I’d been worried that the shawl was beginning to look patched together, but the garter stitch in the lace could tie the lace and solid sections together. And this was the point at which I started noticing just how long those rows were getting (anything takes longer when you have to count your way through pattern repeats).

Clue 5A…and done!

Clue 5A…blocked and done!

February 10: Suddenly my enthusiasm and curiosity vanished and I finished the shawl on willpower alone. (I’m willing to blame Mercury retrograde for this.) There wasn’t any pressure to keep working because there wasn’t going to be another clue on the 17th that I’d want to be ready for, so it was tempting to just let this drift. I finished it because I was determined to start the next project in my queue and didn’t want to risk this turning into a UFO. Now that’s it’s been blocked, it definitely looks like a shawl. I’m disappointed that the texture from the first two sections faded when I stretched the shawl out to open up the lace. But I’d been worried that the shawl wouldn’t be big enough to wrap around me, and blocking it solved that problem, as it grew noticeably (it’s about 58″/147 cm wide and 27″/69 cm deep).

Random notes

It wasn’t until I’d soaked the shawl, wrung it out a bit, and was laying it out on my blocking mats that I discovered I’d dropped a stitch when binding off. So there I am, crochet hook in hand, trying to figure out how to catch all the loose strands in some not-terribly-obvious way, kneeling in a gravity-defying position, and trying not to get my shirt sleeves soaked by leaning on the shawl. Not fun.

I was too busy knitting to really pay all that much attention to the social aspects of the KAL. I’d look through the discussions every now and then, but I was trying to avoid spoilers, and anyway, I had to knit! But I do remember getting a sense of the worldwide popularity of this project when I would read comments from Australians that their summer was being horrendously hot, and only this project was getting them to do any knitting at all.

Will I try another of the 32 possible variants of this pattern? I don’t know. Knowing what my options are will make it easier to choose a good yarn, and I’m curious about many of the untried options, but all 32 options make a lacy shawl and I’m not that much of a lace knitter. So definitely not right away. But I do have some ideas l want to try out. What I need is Hermione Granger’s ability to knit via magic!


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Barndom

When I first saw Barndom, I didn’t feel any need to knit it. It seemed pleasant enough, but it didn’t call to me. That happens a lot, and has saved me from having a Ravelry queue in the triple digits. But this past spring, I took a class with Stephen West at Yarnover. He brought along several of his original shawls, and by the end of the day, I’d bought the pattern and yarn both. As it turned out, it was far more seductive live than in photos. Which also happens a lot.

Barndom (shawl)

Barndom: 2-color version

This, by the way, is the smaller version. The pattern also has instructions for a 3-color version; the third color comes in where the pink border is on this version.

Barndom: detail of the slip stitch columns

Barndom: detail of the slip stitch columns (click to enlarge)

While I’d enthusiastically picked up the pattern and the yarn in the spring, I didn’t get around to starting it until last month. In the meantime, a glitch in the pattern was causing people a few headaches. Judging from the comments on Ravelry, there were two sets of instructions for Row 69, but luckily, the corrected version of the pattern came out before I started it. The revised Row 69 made sense, but the results weren’t symmetrical. Okay, you practically had to have your nose pressed to the shawl to notice the difference, but then, that’s about the distance I knit at! Row 69 is the row in which the slip stitch columns come back together. In the first half of the row (the left side in the finished shawl), the stitches which have been angling against the garter stitch background slip back under the stitches which have been going at right angles to the background stripes. In the second half of the row, though, the two sets of stitches ended up slamming into each other.

Detail of row 69.In the photo above, the join on the left is done according to the instructions. The stitches coming in from the upper right aren’t going under the ones on the left, and a bit of the pink yarn (right above the stitch marker) has gotten pulled into the join. For the join on the right, I divided the stitches involved onto two cable needles, holding one to the front of the work and one to the back, and I think that worked out better.

Overall, I enjoyed knitting this. It has satisfied my need to make garter stitch stripes for a while. I didn’t actually have a need to make garter stitch stripes, but trust me, that need has been fulfilled. The colors looked even better knitted together than they had as two hanks of yarn—yay! I don’t feel inclined to knit another one, but I plan to love this one for years to come.

—–

Yarn: tosh merino light in Steam Age (gray) and Posy (pink).


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Over and over and over

I have now knit the Burning Branch Shawl three times in a row, by which I don’t mean I’ve knit three different shawls, but the same shawl three times. If nothing else, this is a testimony to my stubborness.

As I’ve been knitting my way through one shawlette after another, I’ve been analyzing them, trying to figure out which designs are easier to wear. The triangular ones come in so many lovely patterns, but I’ve found them a bit difficult to actually wrap securely around my neck. By contrast, Burning Branch’s curving shape intrigued me because it seemed like it would wrap naturally. (More importantly, I liked the look of it.) The original was made out of a orangey-red yarn, but I went with a green yarn from my stash, so I suppose mine is more of a Burning Branch Shawl.

Burning Branch ShawlIt’s not like there was no warning. The pattern calls for a skein of BFL Fingering Hand Dyed, which is 416 yards. Unlike most patterns, this one advises, “This will use up the entire skein of BFL fingering. Yardage can vary slightly between skeins, so if yours is a little short, it’s fine to bind off a little earlier.” But I was going to use Charlemont Kettle Dye, which has 439 yards, and my skein weighed in at a perfect 100 g, so I figured I had all the yardage promised. Why worry?

Attempt #1: Cast on with a size 4 (3.5 mm) needle. Knit until there’s enough solid stockinette stitch to take gauge. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen until I’m past the halfway point. Discover that despite the gauge swatch, I’m knitting too tightly. Frog.

Attempt #2: Cast on with a size 5 (3.75 mm) needle. Knit until 22 rows from the end, when I realize that 23 extra yards will not be nearly enough. Bind off. Stare at finished shawlette. Frog.

Attempt #3: Cast on with a size 4 (3.5 mm) needle. Knit, confident that if I am now knitting to a tighter gauge than called for and I have more yarn than called for, I will have a slightly small, but complete, shawlette.

Fun with blocking wires.

Fun with blocking wires.

But no. Knitting more tightly only got me four rows further along than my previous attempt. I remeasured the gauge, and yes, I’m still a smidgen tighter than what the pattern calls for, 25 sts/4″ where the pattern calls for 24 sts/4″. I had less than 7 feet of yarn left when I bound off. Is my row gauge completely different than the designer’s? (The row gauge wasn’t given in the pattern.) I went on Ravelry, and looked at what photos I could find of other people’s finished projects, and a lot of them weren’t able to complete the pattern either. It looks fine if you stop a bit short; it’s just frustrating that I don’t get to see mine in all its complete glory.

But enough about what I don’t have. Here’s what I do have: (almost) one Burning Branch shawl in Charlemont Kettle Dye, color Deep Sea. It spirals out from the top edge, growing by six stitches every other row. The solid stockinette parts are “leaves” and the bits with the parallel lines of knitting at the bottom are “twigs.” I’ll see how easy it is to wear, and maybe someday I’ll make another one OUT OF A REALLY BIG SKEIN OF YARN.