Point Me

Last fall, I found some absolutely lovely yarn from a local dyer. Knitterly Things (Julia) usually dyes self-striping sock yarn, but she also makes semi-solids. And she sometimes has some with sparkle. She had a trunk show at my LYS (local yarn store), and hanging on the rack was a gorgeous non-traditional Christmas colorway. Lo and behold, there was also a tonal with sparkle that matched the red in the striping colorway.

Both skeins of yarn jumped into my basket. I just knew that they had to be used together in something. And I knew it should be a shawl. Striping yarns are not used nearly as often in shawls as in socks, in part because the stripes will change widths as the shawl shaping develops.

Shawl wrapped around dressmaker dummy.
Large size. Knitterly Things Vesper Sock Yarn and Glitterful Sock Yarn

With some thought, I realized that one way to mitigate the effect of the shaping on the stripes was to use the striping yarn for only half of the row. I also knew that I wanted something that wouldnt require knitters to be constantly referencing charts or written stitch patterns. It had to be easy to work and keep track of while in a social setting, but not just mindless miles of plain stockinette or garter stitch.

Originally, my plan was to make the pattern available for Local Yarn Store Day, which is sponsored by TNNA (The National Needlearts Association). LYS Day encourages fibercrafters to frequent local independent businesses instead of national chains, online-only retailers and big box stores. My pattern, while written originally for Knitterly Things yarn, will work with so many of the hand-dyed yarns that are a staple of the LYS. I would encourage knitters to shop their LYS, find something they loved, and make something beautiful from it.

I swatched. I drafted instructions. I computed yarn use for two sizes. Because while I love a huge shawl, not everyone wants something that will envelop them completely. I worked up references for stitch counts to appeal to the obsessive counters out there. I found someone to test knit/verify the pattern. I finished my prototype and started one of the other size. Everything was going swimmingly.

And then everything was locked down.

One by one, states started signing Shelter in Place orders, closing non-essential businesses. Yarncrafting events of all kinds were cancelled, from social events at individual stores, to regional fiber festivals, to weekend conventions. Dyers who had exhibit space booked and merchandise dyed and ready to display (and more importantly, sell) suddenly had no place to vend their wares. LYS Day 2020 was rescheduled from April to September.

My shawl is still a celebration of the artists and businesspeople who are the lifeblood of the yarn world: independent dyers and LYS owners. Things are hard for them right now. Many have implemented online sales, some for the first time. They are finding creative ways to get yarn into the hands of knitters, crocheters and weavers. If your LYS has done that, or if you are lucky enough that they still have doors open to customers as usual, I strongly encourage you to buy yarn that speaks to you and says it wants to be this shawl. Otherwise, shop your yarn stash – I know you have one. But then when things return to normal, replace those skeins by buying from your LYS.

I’ll link to a few dyers who make lovely things that I know work in this pattern. All three of them were scheduled to exhibit at events that were cancelled, so they have yarn available and ready to ship.

Pattern: Point Me To An LYS, available on Ravelry

Knitterly Things, large sample used Vesper striping sock yarn in Holiday Magic and Glitterful sock yarn in Holly Berry Red

Leading Men Fiber Arts, small sample used Show Stopper in Gothic Queen and Longstocking

BlackCat Fibers, large sample (still on needles) using Nomad Sock in To Venus and Back, Russet, Night Swimming and Toxic

Rolling River Stripes

Finally I can share with you my latest pattern for Sugar Bush Yarns. It’s for a brand new yarn, Blaze. Which is why I haven’t been able to talk about it. Confidentiality and all that, you know.

Rolling River is a shawl/ruana that’s worked modularly: several pieces made the same way and joined. When laid out, it’s a big “U” shape. But don’t worry, it’s flexible enough that it can be worn like a rectangular/crescent shawl. Or you can play around with the buttons on it to make it behave in totally different ways. (That’s the next post… stay tuned.)

Today, our focus is going to be on matching the colors. Blaze is a striping yarn, which means that you get all sorts of colors in your project without needing to do any work other than to keep knitting (or crocheting, or weaving…). But I know there are knitters out there who are a little compulsive and will want things to line up. Here’s what to do.

Pull out your copy of the pattern and you’ll see that the instructions say to knit 2 central triangles, 2 left triangles and 2 right triangles. Those are then joined to make 2 long ruana sides, which are themselves joined with the back panel.

The easy part: match the two central triangles to each other. In a nutshell, you’ll knit one, then start the other one at the same point of the color striping repeat.

Then it gets a little weird.

You’ll want to work the Left and Right triangles so that they pair up as a Right and a Left. BUT when we assemble them, the pair will be split up onto the 2 separate sides of the ruana.

Shawl with modules labeled
Modules labeled

This photo is the prototype ruana pinned out while blocking. I have added text to indicate which triangle is which, so you can see how they match.

Take the matching a step further by working the join bands to match. That’s a little easier: if working in the order indicated in the pattern, work the first band of Side 1 (in the blue box) and the second band of Side 2 (in the yellow box) to match.

Shawl with modules and strips identified
One side, two side,
Yellow side, blue side.

The yarn requirements listed in the pattern are those for getting it knitted. Period. If you want to match the stripes, I highly recommend picking up an extra skein.

Busy busy busy

I have a few too many irons in the fire right now, and unfortunately this one is the one that is being neglected.

I’m bird-sitting my parents’ lovebird while they are on vacation with my Niblings. The bird has laid 4 eggs in the 2 weeks she’s been here.

My latest original knitting design is knitted, but getting the pattern and charts together from my notes seems to take as long as knitting it did.

Fermenting is fun! A few new sauerkrauts have come off my fermentation table, including a Carrot Cake Kraut that included pecans, raisins and cinnamon. That jar became Carrot Cake Kraut Muffins. Delish!

The local farmers market started yesterday, a couple of weeks earlier than last year. 

Gardening is proceeding. I planted the flower starts I got at the market yesterday, along with some of the flowers I started from seed and the cucumbers I started. More planting this afternoon. 

Update, April 9

Brain dump for week ending April 9

Woah. It’s been a week since I put anything out here. I guess this week hasn’t been very interesting.

No, that’s not completely accurate. I’ve been too busy to pull out the computer and type something, and it’s just too much of a pain to type anything of any length on the tablet. Dinners this week have been either really boring or intended for recipe posts that have yet to be written. And I finished no knitting, though I did get a bunch done on a shawl for work and some significant progress designing a shawl from scratch.

This week, I finally got my rear in gear to start some seeds for the garden! I’m only a couple of weeks “late” on some of the flowers that should have been started 10-12 weeks before planned planting out. (I’m in zone 6a; average last frost is early- to mid-May; typical planting date is last weekend or so of May.)

Monday I pulled out a starting tray, watered the peat pucks, and grabbed my big ol’ box of seed packets. I started Fountain Lobelia, Shasta Daisy, Gloriosa Daisy, mini sweet peppers, mixed bell peppers, Jalapeños, Impala (cayenne) peppers, Habaneros, Black Beauty eggplants, and a few Black Magic Kale. Yes, I know I could plant kale en situ right now, but I still have to build the beds and fill them, and I’m not sure if I want to put the kale in one of the existing beds in the front of the house. When I checked the moisture on the pucks today, the kale had already germinated!

There have been flurries in the air intermittently all day today. And it’s cold enough that I don’t want to go outside to plant some of the perennials and summer bulbs that could go in now. Maybe Monday/Tuesday, if the air temp is better and it’s not so soggy out.

Knitting-wise, I’m working on the Lilla shawl from Berroco, intended as a class in June on knit-on edgings. For class, we’ll work edging onto a swatch-sized piece because I know there’s no way that people would come to class with a huge piece of knit done already. It’s a simple-enough piece, though I’m still working on the body so I can’t speak about how the border will actually work up yet. We don’t carry the recommended yarn at work, so I’m using a lovely apple green shade of Berroco Ultra Alpaca.

The original design is going fairly well. Last week at work we took delivery of some gorgeous hand-dyed linen blend yarn from Interlacements. It’s not expensive, on a yard by yard basis. But the hanks are quite large. I wanted to create something original that would use a single hank but be compelling enough to make people crave the yarn. The tricky part is designing it to be interesting to look at and to knit without being so fussy or difficult-looking that our customers won’t even be willing to attempt it. That’s a fine line to walk.

The eyelet work I’m using (more solid fabric than holes, so I don’t consider it lace) is basic enough, primarily diagonal lines. But I’m changing directions and adding secondary rows of eyelets, so there’s a sense of motion and curve. The pattern evolves, and will have beads added in the last section to give the outer edge some weight.

Enough of my brain dump. I’m off to edit a couple of pictures and put together a recipe post.

 

 

Labor Day Shawlette

Crescent Shaped Shawlette

Blog20160331 - 1My boss at work gave me a printout of a pattern a couple of weeks ago. Someone had worn one into the shop earlier in the week and BossLady said it was really nice.

I’m not someone who feels compelled to knit things only in the yarn indicated by the pattern. But I actually had a couple of skeins of the specified product, languishing in a project bag.

Blog20160331 - 2Not a bad knit. Most of the shawls I knit start at the top, which is the neck edge. This one starts at the bottom and works up. The patterned band is worked first, then the body of the shawlette, with short rows to make the whole thing crescent-shaped.

I can hear you groaning now. Short rows! Yuck!

Au contraire! These are what I think of as “Sock Heel” short rows – no wraps. Just turn the piece, then work a decrease to close the gap from the previous turn. Easy peasy.

I added a few bands of garter and eyelet for interest. They match the top of the border and, I think, make the body a little more texturally interesting. There’s an i-cord bind off to provide a little stability and a nice finished edge.

Pattern: Labor Day by O/C Knitiot Designs
Yarn: Crazy by Stonehedge Fiber Mill
(all links go to Ravelry)

Shawl, Check!

Finished my Revontuli shawl

Going through my to-do list several days ago, a big item was to finish knitting my shawl.

Check!

Blog20160331 - 4
Unblocked, fresh off the needles

Revontuli Shawl, knit in Frabjous Fibers Wonderland Yarns Mad Hatter, 1 pack mini skeins colorway Caucus Race and 1 full size skein Caucus Race. (All links go to Ravelry.)

Blog20160331 - 5Blog20160331 - 9 I added 18 rows beyond the chart included in the pattern.

It’s all blocked and ends woven in. I’ll probably wear it to work this weekend.

This was one of those projects that goes quickly, because the pattern was simple enough that I didn’t get brain fatigue, but interesting enough that I didn’t want to stab my eye with a needle out of boredom (all-garter stitch projects, anyone?). The color changes from the yarn helped, too, though that was my doing and not the result of using a self-striping yarn.

This is the fourth project I’ve knit from yarn from this dyer. One of the previous projects used a worsted weight, this and the remaining two were all sport weight. It’s fantastic to work with and the colors are out of this world.

He comes with a new hat!

I finished a hat this morning

One thing about Car Guy and me: we talk in quotes from The Simpsons. A lot. Some classic quotes get used quite frequently. And we can have whole conversations implied by a single quote used as shorthand.

Today’s quote: “But (s)he comes with a new hat!” is a reference to Malibu Stacy. And, this morning, to Car Guy. Because I finished knitting a new hat for him to wear on walks, in time for him to wear it to work today. Yes, I was finishing that last round and weaving in the end as he was polishing off his oatmeal for breakfast.

And then I completely forgot to get a picture.

It was the 1898 Hat, which is available free online. (Ravelry page, SCI page) There are some fun techniques used: provisional cast on, grafting, picking up stitches, working 2 layers into 1, and knitting in the round. But all in all, it’s not a really difficult pattern. It would be a good learning project for someone who wanted to try those skills. And hats are good warm weather knitting, because they don’t blanket your lap and get you all hot.

Besides, it’s always a good time to knit things to put in the holiday gift bin. I think I’m going to go through my yarn stash and make a bunch of these specifically for Christmas.

 

Knitting Day

Saturday.

I usually work one Saturday a month, unless my boss is out of town or I have additional classes scheduled. Today is the fourth and last session of a class I’m teaching on the Harvest Sweater (Ravelry link). It’s a great sweater- the slightly dressier wooly knitwear version of a hoodie sans hood. It’s something you can toss over what you’re wearing for extra warmth. What my sisters and I called “Teacher Sweaters” when we were young, after the long, cream-colored, toggle-button cardigans most of the teachers at our elementary school seemed to have hanging on their closet doors.

A couple of the women in class have to miss today’s session, so there will be 3 students, plus me. We all have different sizes in process. I’m making the newborn/3 month size as my working sample, though I’ll be wearing the one I just finished knitting yesterday. There’s an infant size, toddler size, and adult 3X represented by the other students. I just love that this pattern, which is a seamless top-down knit, includes such a range of sizes. When BossLady and I started planning the class, we thought everyone would knit the smallest size so they could learn the techniques with less work (and less yarn!) than the larger sizes require.

Car Guy is still in bed. Once he gets up, we’ll head to the gym. It’s still too cold out in the mornings to do an outdoor walk. I’m on track to hit 900 miles walked since January 1 as part of Run the Year. Then it’s back to the house for breakfast, shower, gather my things and head to class. I’ll let you know how the muffin bars go over.