Silver Threads

a knitting blog with occasional side trips


Wedge Pullover: completed

Why yes, it has been a while since I last wrote about the Wedge Pullover. 2013 to be exact.

Wedge Pullover.

And now it’s chilly enough to model it.

Quick summary of the lost years: I didn’t finish this sweater in time for the 2013 state fair, but I hadn’t expected to. But without a deadline to work to, I lost interest in it. I decided not to enter anything in the 2014 state fair, so there was no pressure to finish it that year. I worked on it every now and then, and eventually I got it done up to finishing the sleeves. I stalled out two rows from the end and the sweater sat like that for months. Then I realized that the 2015 state fair was coming up and that I wanted to enter something. Of the things I could enter, the Wedge Pullover stood the best chance of placing—plus, I was tired of seeing it lying around 95% done. Naturally, despite having almost two years to finish it, I did so at the last minute. In the final few days before entries were due, I knitted those two rows plus a few more just to make sure the sleeves were long enough, sewed the pieces together, and blocked it. I took a few quick photos for people who wanted to look for it at the fair, but it was mid-August and I couldn’t bear to wear it long enough to take good photos.

I entered the sweater in Hand Knitted Articles: Adult sweater, plain pullover (no intarsia or Fair Isle colorwork, no texture stitches or lace or cables allowed) and it won a blue ribbon, my first ever in knitting at the Minnesota State Fair. Oh yeah, I’m thrilled! 😀 And the sweater fits too: yay! It got a bit longer when I blocked it. Okay, hanging on a dummy for two weeks probably didn’t help either. But it’s still an acceptable length on me, so I’ll live. So it’s done, I have something new in my wardrobe this winter, and there’s one UFO fewer haunting me.

Wedge Pullover in state fair display case.

On display at the state fair.

Oh, and the Elnora Cowl won a pink ribbon (4th place) in Crocheted Articles: Clothing Accessories. Whee!

Elnora Cowl in a display case at the state fair.

And if anyone knows what that little blue thing hanging in the lower right corner is…


Wedge Pullover
Pattern: Wedge Pullover
Yarn: Reynolds Odyssey
Color: Bright Blue Mix (409)
Needles: 7 (4.5 mm), 8 (5.0 mm)



Silvernfire and the three projects

August again, and as I do every year, I feel like I should start this post by saying “No, I’m not dead.” I’ve even been knitting fairly steadily this summer—the air conditioning is on super-chill everywhere I go, so I’m rarely deterred by hot summer weather—but I haven’t finished anything lately, so there hasn’t been anything to write about.

I’m not entering anything in the state fair this year. I think this is the first year I’ve skipped since I started entering things here in the 1990’s. Every year, putting stuff into the fair is a bit of a challenge because the entry dates coincide with my being out of town for my family reunion. This year, I decided I’d rather relax and enjoy the vacation than race home in a desperate attempt to get stuff in before the entry closed.

I’m still going to the fair, though—volunteering for the Minnesota Knitters Guild. (It’s going to be odd looking at the knitting display this year without trying to find my stuff.) This means I’ve started a project despite not feeling any real desire to do so. I’ve got works in progress, but neither of them are suitable for a knitting demo:

  • Cables 101: Lovely, interesting to passers-by, and way too complicated to work on while stopping every few minutes to answer questions from curious people.
  • Viajante: Unlike Cables 101, this is mindless knitting, well-suited for frequent interruptions. It’s also interesting to passers-by, although more in the sense of “What is it?”. But it’s big enough to be piled in my lap. Having a mound of alpaca and silk in my lap on a day when it’s predicted to reach 90º F (32º C) is hardly appealing. Have I mentioned that the Creative Activities building isn’t air-conditioned?

Hence the new project: the Tru Love Bites cowl. It was inspired by True Blood, but luckily I like it for itself since I never really got into that series (not sure why; I’ve enjoyed vampire novels since I was a kid). It’s not entirely mindless knitting, but it’s mostly stockinette stitch with the occasional row of yarnovers, which should be doable enough under state fair conditions. I hear there are mistakes in the pattern, but maybe I won’t run into them until after my shift. If not, then passers-by will get to see a live demo of someone correcting knitting errors on the fly (ooh, ahh).

collage photo of three knitting projects

This project was too complex…and this project was too large…but this project was just right. Maybe.


If one state fair is a good thing…

…two of them might be a bit too much, but that didn’t stop me from going to two of them anyway: Wisconsin and Minnesota. Wisconsin holds their state fair about two weeks before Minnesota does, so attending both was feasible, if tiring. I went with my cousins to the Wisconsin State Fair. The cousins grew up on a farm, so not only did we see most of the animals, but they could say knowledgeable things about them. Me, I can tell cows apart from goats, and both of them apart from chickens, but that’s about as sophisticated as I get. When I’m at the Minnesota State Fair, I take care of all my animal-watching in one fell swoop with the Miracle of Life Barn. They keep at least one of several kinds of animals there, and if you’re lucky, you can see them giving birth. I usually just see the baby animals afterwards, but the cute factor makes up for missing the births themselves.

The adult knitting case at the Minnesota State Fair.

The adult knitting case at the Minnesota State Fair.

Now on the other hand, I do know my way around knitting and crochet competitions, and I wanted to see what people entered in Wisconsin. Pretty much the same kind of things we enter in Minnesota, of course. But they display them a bit differently. In Minnesota, the Creative Activities building is mostly organized by craft. Almost all adult handknitting is in a large case to the left of the main door as you come in, except for the blue-ribbon items, which are in a separate case. Sewing gets a case, weaving gets a case. Machine knitting and crochet share a case across from baby and child knitting. Afghans, knitted and crocheted, are displayed on special racks. Less popular crafts with fewer entries are slipped in here and there. There are smaller cases in the building with assorted items from different crafts that share a theme or a color or something (which is one way to display those less popular crafts). In turn, just as the different crafts are mostly separated, all the needlework and handcrafts are kept apart from canning and baking, which are in a different section of the building.

The Victorian Tea Party case at the Wisconsin State Fair.

The Victorian Tea Party case at the Wisconsin State Fair.

Things are a bit different in Wisconsin. The equivalent of Creative Activities is the Horticulture, Craft & Culinary Pavilion. Wisconsin likes to mix entries together. A plate of prize-winning cookies will nestle happily next to a handknit sweater, with an embroidered piece looming behind them and a photograph perched off to the side. The building has more small cases than large, and it looks like each year they make up themes based on the entries they get and put one theme in each case, along with a sign telling you what the theme of the case is. It’s an interesting way to arrange the items, although it’s even more frustrating than the Creative Activities building if you want to compare and contrast, say, all the adult knitted cardigans. I enjoyed the visit, but I think I did a lot of back-and-forthing trying to see everything and keep it all together in my mind. Plus, while Minnesota does its level best to cram everything into the display cases, Wisconsin arranges entries on the tops of the cases as well.

Oh, and another key difference between the Horticulture, Craft & Culinary Pavilion and the Creative Activities building? The Pavilion is air-conditioned. This year, with Minnesota enduring a 90ºF/32ºC and higher heat wave during the fair, that sounds heavenly.


Midnight Vineyard (leftmost, in navy blue, green, and purple).

On a personal note, the Midnight Vineyard vest took fifth place in its category. It was even prominently displayed, right at the very front of the display case.


Aran Wrap Cardigan: finally finished

I have finished the Aran Wrap Cardigan. Actually, I finished it last month, but it was so close to the deadline for entering it in the state fair that there wasn’t time to take pictures. But the fair is over and the sweater is back in my hands. Since I’ve been posting all my triumphs and agonies about knitting this as I went along, there’s not much left to say at this point.

Aran Wrap Cardigan, front viewAran Wrap Cardigan, back viewAran Wrap Cardigan laid flat

I entered it in the “adult sweater, texture cardigan” category at the fair, where it got 5th place and the gentlest (vaguest) comments I’ve ever received on an entry: “Nice knitting of interesting style. This was a big and competitive lot.”

Aran Wrap Cardigan in display case.

At the Minnesota State Fair: very nicely displayed.

In comparing notes with friends, I see several people were told theirs was a large and competitive lot. As hand knitting continues to be popular, the Creative Activities building is straining to hold all the entries—along with all the other creative activities, of course. Maybe I should resurrect my counted cross stitch skills: I haven’t seen much cross stitch at the fair in recent years!

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August round-up

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

Lexington vest

Lexington Vest

Lexington vest (fair)

The Lexington Vest at the fair

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

Sandy Smoke Ring

Sandy Smoke Ring

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

Peaceful Pastels afghan (fair)

Peaceful Pastels Afghan

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






Marble Throw (red)

Marble Throw (red)

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

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State Fair 2010

(Well, if you can’t brag in your very own blog, where can you brag?)

Sally’s Favorite Summer Sweater and the Rambling Rows Jacket have done me proud at the Minnesota State Fair this year. The SFSS took third place in the “Adult sweater, plain pullover” category, while the Rambling Rows Jacket placed fourth in “Adult sweater, plain cardigan.”

Pink sweater with ribbon hanging in state fair display case

Sally's Favorite Summer Sweater


Jacket with ribbon in state fair display case

Rambling Rows Jacket

Kudos again to whoever it is who arranges all the knitted goods in the display cases, because despite the sheer amount of stuff, most of it was visible. But it seems like someday the Fair is either going to have to expand the Creative Activities building or start limiting the entries the way they do for the Fine Arts building. I suppose it’s not as sexy a project as remodeling the Grandstand or the International Bazaar, much less re-creating the Miracle of Birth barn.

Anyway, there they are. Maybe I’ll try more complicated projects next year.