Camden Hills Poncho

IMG_2486I have another finished object! My Camden Hills Poncho is done, done, done! It’s even blocked and ends woven in done!

I really enjoyed knitting this poncho. It’s a very simple design with just enough detail in the lace at the bottom front and the neck to make the knitting interesting and then a lot of stockinette stitches to finish it up.

The bottom front and back are knitted flat and then joined to knit in the round from the bottom to the top. No sleeves (sometimes it’s really nice to not have sleeves!) to worry about or attach at the end. This was a very satisfying knit and I’m thrilled to be able to wear it to work this week!

IMG_2487I knit mine in Berroco Ultra Wool in the Beetroot (33151) colorway. I used five balls nearly to the inch! I love this yarn. It’s a true worsted and it feels really nice while your knitting but it blooms really beautifully when it’s blocked. I also love the color of the beetroot. It’s a deep beet red. It seems to be the color of the year in my wardrobe!

Complete information is available on my Ravelry project page.

Gone knitting!

WIPS Wrestling – Ravellenics 2016

imageRavelry has a wonderful knitting challenge during the Olympics and I’ve chosen to be on the “WIPS Wrestling” team and challenge myself to finish several projects during the Olympic Games. I’m proud to say that I have challenged myself to finish, and have finished  four projects so far.

Rustling Leaves Beret

Rustling Leaves Beret

I had a commission to make a lace hat for a customer. Her hat was begun just before the Olympics started. I knit Rustling Leaves Beret by Alana Dakos. It’s a fun knit and pret quick to knit up as well. My customer bought Cascade Yarns Heritage Sock yarn in a navy color. Now, all knitters worth their salt know that dark colors (particularly black but any dark color) are difficult to see your stitches. The biggest challenge for me with this hat was counting, or more specifically, dividing stitches. You begin the hat casting in stitches and I used DPNs. Needless to say, I divided wrong the first time and came up with 30 stitches short. It was going to be a very small hat! The hat is delivered and my customer has requested another hat just like it but in a little brighter blue! I blocked the hat, as directed, on a dinner plate and it was just gorgeous!

Drachenfels - times two

Drachenfels – times two

I also finished my Drachenfels Shawl. I really enjoyed knitting this shawl. I had chosen yarn based on a sample that I saw knitted up at the Maine Fiber Frolic in June. Green is not usually a color I knit with but I loved the three colors together. Drachenfels is by Melanie Berg and is a slightly “off kilter” triangular shawl knit in garter stitch with an Icord bind off. I knit mine with a dark gray, a medium blue and a deep apple green. I loved knitting it and I love e finished result. The sport-weight yarn makes it a quick knit and the shawl is a good size! Two other women in my Froday class are/have knitted this shawl and it’s really fun to see the results in different colors.

Number 2 Pencil Socks

Number 2 Pencil Socks

The wonderful and fun Number 2 Pencil socks are also finished. This was yarn that I waited for for what seemed like forever because the first shipment was lost or stolen in transit. When I finally did get it, it went immediately into my stash to be used as encouragement for me – encouraging me to finish some other projects. It was a very fun project and I can’t wait until it’s cooler and I can actually wear them! The yarn is hand-dyed by Yarn Enabler (she has an Etsy shop). I had seen in on Susan B. anderson’s blog or Facebook page  and it was a total impulse buy but totally worth it  I bought the pattern from Yarn Enabler, too though truth be told, I only partially followed it  I used a heal flap heel rather than a FLK – but I’ll attempt the Fish Lips Kiss heel another time for fun!

4 Needle Snowflake Mittens

4 Needle Snowflake Mittens

Last but not least, is the second pair of Snowflake Mittens. This pattern is a very old pattern gifted to me by my friend and colleague Bette. I made myself a pair and this pair is for my friend. I’ll make a third pair for my sister-in-law in Massachusetts. I typically have a rule to never knit two of the same thing. This pattern is an exception and I fully plan to knit it repeatedly! I used Brown Sheep Company’s Lambs Pride Worsted in White Frost and Navy Sailor. I love the contrast in the colors and I love these mittens. I avoided color work for years but this pattern made me begin to think about conquering my fear of color work. I think I have succeeded. My favorite part of these mittens is the pattern on the inside of the thumb. Isn’t that silly?

The only other thing I’d really like to compete is the Aran Sweater that is sitting in a bag in my studio. It’s been swealtering hot the last few days and I could not sit under it. It was too darned hot! Tomorrow I head to the beach in Virginia with my college girls for a few days. Friends for 40 years, we always have a wonderful time together and Virginia Beach is gorgeous for a little R&R. I may choose to drag it with me and try to seam it in air conditioning. I really haven’t decided.

Next another hat will go on the needles.

Gone knitting!

Crushed by Rachel Henry of Remily Knits

Crushed Shawlette

Crushed Shawlette

This post is long (LONG – yes, I am screaming!) overdue. I finished this lovely knit ages ago and it has languished along with my knitting mojo in a bin in my atelier (studio in French).

IMG_4202I have had a gorgeous skein of a gradient yarn in my stash for a couple of years. It was gifted to me by my sister-in-love and brother. Every time I stuck my fingers into the sock yarn bin in my atelier I would see it and think about what it would like to become. Yes, I really do think that way. If you force a design on a skein of yarn (or several skeins in the case of a sweater, etc.) it tends not to work. At least that’s my experience. The yarn and pattern speak to me (not literally, of course, but I hope you know what I mean) when they’re ready to pair up … that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

In the case of my Vice gradient yarn, it seemed to want to become “Crushed” by Rachel Henry of Remily Knits. (Pattern is available for $6.00 US on Ravelry.) Crushed is described as a heart shaped shawlette and if I have one complaint, it would be that it isn’t big enough. I loved knitting the pattern and would have liked to continue it a bit more for two reasons: first, to make it a little bit larger and second, to use up all or more of my yarn. With that said, I did create a few more repeats of the pattern so that the beautiful bright yellow was more prominent in my scarf because I love all the colors of this yarn so much.

Edge Detail

Edge Detail

I blocked the heck out of this little shawlette *with my added rows* and it measures 62 inches from tip to tip and it’s 27 inches long at the widest part.

The yarn was Blurred Lines by Vice in the “Loki” colorway. It’s a fingering-weight yarn with a wonderfully soft hand and slowly changes from black to bright yellow. The in-between colors are fabulous near-dark forest green and grey with a tinge of yellow. The fiber is a merino and nylon blend and would have made fun socks but I felt that it would be a shame to “waste” such a beautiful gradient on socks – This yarn was screaming to be something much more “public”. I love the way this yarn knitted up with no splitting and it was even and smooth despite coming off the cake in a crimped form. At first I thought maybe it head been knitted and then tinked before being wound but it was consistent throughout so I figure it must have been intended to be that way. Or maybe it was a “sock blank” in a former life. I’m not sure why but it’s so pretty I’m not askinIMG_6530g any questions.

I wanted my shawl to be black up by the shoulders and near my face and the yellow to be along the edge. I rewound the cake to make it a center-pull cake with the black in the middle. It makes the yarn stay put when you’re knitting.

The pattern was wonderful and simple to follow. I mostly used the charts to knit from and on occasion (when I hit a snag – my brain’s fault, not the fault of the pattern) I would refer to the written instructions. I enjoy chart knitting and I think it’s good for my brain to be challenged to think differently when I am knitting. Charts feed that part of the challenge for my brain. And since we are knitting flat, the charts read right to left and left to right which is another challenge for our brains. Another reason that knitting is healthy!

I’m not sure whether I’ve shared this with you before but my mother died having suffered 10+ years with Alzheimer’s Disease. I am working quite intentionally on doing things that challenge my brain. Eating healthfully, cutting way back on sugar and carbs, focusing on fresh fruits and vegetables, plant-based oils and as organic as I can possibly do. It was painful to watch someone you love do a quicksand-sink into their own world. This fact makes my efforts to be healthy and challenge myself ever more vital as I age (and I’m aging quickly!)

I am looking forward to cooler weather so that I can wear my beautiful Crushed shawlette. And when you live in Maine, it could be later on today even though it’s June! Meanwhile, I’m challenging myself with more knitting and quilting. Stay tuned!

Gone knitting.

Jimmy Beans Wool 2016 Downton Abbey Mystery KAL

I’ve participated in a couple of the Downton Abbey Mystery Knit-a-longs. It was fun and the projects were lovely. I missed a couple, too. Each time, however, I had fun and came away with a very wearable garment.

This is the last season of Downton Abbey and I decided to participate at the last minute for one last time. (See my sad face?) Here’s my report about the final, last, final 2016 DAMKAL.

I am on another “yarn diet” and although I wanted to buy the Lorna’s Laces yarn for this knit-a-long, I used my Christmas yarn for it instead. It’s Knitting Fever’s Painted Desert. It’s a wool, fingering yarn and while I forgot to write down the colorway, it’s a deep burgundy with blues and almost-purple shades. I really like the colorway that I was gifted!

Christmas Yarn - Painted Desert

Christmas Yarn – Painted Desert by Knitting Fever (2 Skeins)

Clue 1.

I was totally clueless as to what this “garment” was going to be. Totally clueless. We used a circular cast on and knitted the rounds for this clue on DPNs. Ending with a “square”. Hmm.

Clue #1

Clue #1

Clue 2.

Continued knitting in the round for this clue; very similar to clue #1 … I’m still mystified. But it’s pretty!

Clues 3 & 4, 5 & 6.

And this is where I was totally wondering what this was going to be as many many stitches were put onto waste yarn and we continued knitting down one “side” of the original “box”. I actually discussed this with one of my classes and showed them the piece after knitting clue 3 … maybe a hat and scarf combination? maybe something for the home? Nobody really had a reasonable idea. So, I continued knitting.

When we got to clue 5 and started knitting down another “side” of the original “box” I believe I read that it was a “wing” and the light bulb went off. It’s a shawl! I had a bit of difficulty figuring out which “side” to start my stitches on for the second wing and did use the discussion thread on Ravelry. The discussion thread was very helpful and fun to read, too.

Clue 5 and 6 ... still mystified!

Clue 5 and 6 … still mystified!

Clue 7 & 8.

The last two clues were just fun to knit now that the mystery was discovered. How was this lovely shawl going to be finished? Short and sweet despite being a lot (a LOT) of stitches on the needle.

I love the finished shawl and it’s on my guest room bed being blocked as I type this. I chose to pin every little picot stitch on the edge (the instructions gave an option to pin all picots or every other.) I am eager for it to be dry and be able to wear it. I’ll probably wear it to work next week. (I noticed that Kristen’s shawl looks quite a bit larger than mine … perhaps I will block it a bit more aggressively before it’s dry or I may not.)

Blocking!

Blocking! Can you see the “square” from the first two clues?

IMG_0213

All of the little picots are pinned along the wing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another great online MKAL! Thanks to Kristen and Jimmy Beans Wool!

Gone knitting!

Girasol

Girasol by Jared F

Girasol by Jared Flood

I’m so in love with this project that I want to marry it!

Three of us in the Wednesday night knitting class (plus our teacher) decided to knit the Girasol Shawl in the worsted weight version which makes an afghan. I really (REALLY!) loved knitting this and it wasn’t difficult. I loved knitting it so much that I absolutely will knit another one.

Girasol by Jared Flood is written for fingering/lace weight or worsted weight yarns. I think you could knit it in any weight of your choosing with appropriately sized needles. And they will all be gorgeous! The pattern is available on Ravelry.

The pattern itself is clear and well written and a cinch to follow. The most “difficult” part, in my opinion, is the cast on which is Emily Ocker’s Circular Cast On. I’m sharing Jimmy Bean’s Wool’s tutorial with the ever delightful Jeanne. Watch it a couple of times before attempting this cast on. It’s a beauty – for starting any project in the middle of a circle (hats from the top down, lace shawls, etc.) Sheer genius and it sits flat when pulled closed.

This cast on is originally in Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Knitter’s Almanac (a wonderful book, by the way. EZ had a most unique and visionary knitting technique.) It’s available on Amazon.com … click on the image below and you’ll be magically transported! (You’re welcome, of course!)

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If you’re serious about knitting, you have to read EZ. Seriously! Anyway, back to Girasol …

I used Cascade 220 Superwash (because who wants a huge, wool-stinky, wet afghan to dry? Although, truth be told, I’m thinking of using wool for the next one. I may be crazy!) in a light grey tweed-y colorway. I love grey as a neutral and this will, theoretically, live in my atelier where I can throw it over my legs or fold it in half and wear it over my shoulders on a cold evening. Mine took nine balls (the pattern asks for eight and I may knit a bit loosely.) The edge stitches were (a little bit) boring – it’s knitted on the edge as you bind off and three stitches are “eaten up” when you knit six rows. There are 640 stitches. Got it? 🙂

The pattern calls for a US 9 circular needle and DPNs. I started with the DPN and then went to a 24 inch wire and then to a 32 inch wire and ended up with a sixty inch wire which was really a little bit too long. But it worked. I used my fabulous Dreamz interchangeable needles by Knitters Pride. I love them.

If you choose to knit this gloriously beautiful shawl/afghan, watch out and be aware when you start the edging. Just saying. I was in the car and everything was all bunched up and I started with the wrong side facing me and the edging on my blanket is “backward”. I think it’s very fitting, actually, and I chose to leave it that way.

Knit this pattern. I’m not kidding. You’ll love it. I can’t wait to see what mine looks like after it’s blocked … which will have to wait until our house is finished and furnished. Soon enough and I will be using it unblocked until that time. My knitting group is doing a Girasol for one of our members’ mother-in-law who recently lost her husband. I’m looking forward to my turn knitting!

Gone knitting.

Just So Bag by Andrea Babb

Lace Panel in ProcessLast summer I bought the yarn and pattern to make a Just So Bag. The bag was published in Interweave Knits, Winter 2012. (Back copies can be purchased on Ravelry.)

My knitting “teacher” in Maine had one in a light gray and it was very, very pretty. I wanted to make one for me. They didn’t have the yarn called for in the pattern in a dark gray (Rowan Pure Wool Aran) so we substituted Lambs Pride Worsted. Mine is in the Charcoal Heather color way. Theoretically, a good call. Practically, however, the mohair content … at least in my skeins … was very “fuzzy” and the beautiful stitches in the lace panels are somewhat lost.

If I were to make this pattern again, and I think I probably will, I would be very certain to use a yarn that was NOT fuzzy and in a lighter color. Both will show off the lovely lace in the end panels. And if you’re going to do all the work, you want to choose yarn that accentuates your stitches.

The pattern itself is very straight forward and, done with yarn held doubled, it’s a quick knit. My friend said it was difficult on her hands. It’s a very dense fabric that is constructed on relatively small needles. I had no trouble but someone who has arthritis may find this difficult to knit. One knitter on Ravelry was wise enough to do the body in one piece. Starting with a crochet cast on, she knitted the “front”, picked up the live stitches, knitted a row of reverse stockinette, the base of the bag, another row of reverse stockinette and finally the “back”. Smart thinking! I still don’t love seaming … do you? I’ll try this next time.

The lace panels on each end are gorgeous. They’re (thankfully) knit with a single yarn and much easier on your hands. I struggled with the chart, as did several of the others who have knitted the bag. If you’re not comfortable with carts, take the time to write out the entire chart. Save yourself! I chose not to. I battled the chart … it was a valiant effort and I won in the end.

The first time, I was working with dark gray yarn and dark gray needles. Not a good start. But like any good knitter, after several false starts (and frogging yarn with a lot of mohair “fuzz”), I tossed all the parts in the “naughty” closet and left it for almost a year while I worked on other projects. I wanted to finish it this summer and at the start I found it challenging but as soon as I changed my needles, I got it. I had to be mindful and watch the right side and wrong side of the panel. (I worked at home, alone, in a bubble and did a lot of talking to myself.) Once I got the rhythm of the lace chart, I was fine … except when I got to socializing and I consistently forgot the last yarn over. Oops!

I’ll post a picture of my bag when it’s completed. I still have to purchase supplies and manufacture my handles (or ask my better half to do so) but I’m eager to use the bag and I may even have my friend help me figure out how to sew pockets into it. Her bag, knitted with the same yarn, turned out beautifully and it’s not as fuzzy as mine. Go figure! I think the double-stranded sides will be stiff enough to give it some structure. One Raveler said she added a hard plastic bottom on her bag. That’s also a good idea. Once filled, the bottom sags a lot.

Gone knitting.

Block Broken

My first Wonderful Wallaby on my beautiful niece!

My first Wonderful Wallaby on my beautiful niece!

I taught a class ten days ago and, now, I do believe that my knitters block is broken. Woo! Hoo! I’m knitting again!

Zipping through the Wonderful Wallaby that I’m knitting for my sister-in-law to give to a friend for a new baby due in April. (I’ve blogged about this pattern that I’ve knitted before … here and here.) I’m knitting it in the acrylic/wool/rayon blend Plymouth Yarn Encore Tweed (100g./200 yards) in a pink tweed (color W464/ lot 67839). I love this pattern and I love this sweater. It’s such a simple knit and there are no seams! (Well, only a couple of short seams.)

And next? A wedding shawl for my daughter … I sure hope she doesn’t read this blog! 😉

I can’t believe that MY daughter is getting married (in September)! It’s beyond my comprehension that she is old enough for this … or maybe it’s that I am old enough for this … monumental, life-changing event! How did all those years pass so quickly? And now it’s time for her little family to become “official”. We all love the wonderful man that she is marrying and I love that they are authentically themselves even as they’ve become a couple. I remember her telling me (years ago) that he was her “tour affair” and the relationship wouldn’t go beyond the boundaries of her tour. Love got in the way … and it didn’t hurt that he loved her dog!

I’m planning to knit her a Romi lace shawl, Fiori di Sole. It just looks like her. I bought the yarn in Bangor, Maine last summer. It’s a beautiful shade of blue/green (Glacial Pace is the color way) baby alpaca and silk blend by One Lupine and called “Spinnaker” (4oz./ approx. 745 yards). I am excited to get started which is, perhaps, why I am whipping through the Wallaby in pink.

Let me mention, too, that I’ve begun a Wonderful Wallaby for me! I’m knitting in Lion Brand’s Fisherman’s Wool, an inexpensive yarn purchased at Joann, in the oatmeal color way … there will be no contrasting pocket for this girl! 🙂

Gone knitting!