Sunday, September 28, 2014

The Long Slog

I know this yarn will be gorgeous when it's done, but it is taking quite a long time to finish. I stayed up a little late on Friday to finish the singles:

I let them rest for about a day and then, this afternoon, I sat down to start plying. Fortunately, that's going a bit faster -- this is the result of maybe an hour and a half to two hours of plying and I'm approaching the halfway point (or so I think).

The darker purple that's just starting to appear was the first color of the third strip of fiber, so I figure another session or two at the wheel should do it.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

"I Wish I Could Wear It Every Day!"

After more than a month, I finally finished up Rainbow's Magnolia in Bloom last weekend. I got her to sit down and pick out buttons with me and then gave it a good blocking. It was ready for her to wear to Rosh Hashanah dinner last night.

My friends at my LYS can tell you that I was not at all pleased with her reaction when I had her try it on just before I finished the body (I believe it was something like "I hate it!"), but fortunately I had a feeling that she would like it when it was actually finished and carried on. I'm glad I did, because her reaction to trying it on when it was actually finished was about the best I could expect (hint: it's the title of this post).

These are pretty rubbish pictures, but you can get a sense of how well it fits her and how pleased she is with it.

Pattern: Magnolia in Bloom by Anna Rauf, tunic version, size 6
Yarn: Cascade Heritage Sock (75% superwash merino/25% nylon) in color 5615/Royal, approximately 1.25 skeins
Needles: US 4 (3.5 mm) and US 3 (3.25 mm) circs
Started/Completed: August 14/September 20
Mods: I picked up a few more stitches at the underarms than specified and did only three buttonholes on the placket

This was a fun knit, though the pattern was a bit interesting to follow at times. I think that's probably because the designer is not a native English speaker, so things were worded a bit unusually (or at least differently than I'm used to). I ended up making the size 6 because my gauge was just a tad off and the size 4 probably would have fit but not for long. As you can see, there is some room to grow. What you can't see is the little oops that I made in the lace on the bottom. At some point I must have done an extra half round, because one of the repeats of the lace on the back is taller than the rest. I discovered it several lace repeats later; at that point, though, I was getting so sick of knitting the body that I just wanted to be done, and I figured that it was unlikely to be seen and noticed as it's on the back side of the top. I worked 1x1 rib on the bottom of the body and at the sleeves so all the edges would match.

Although I'm not likely to do it for Rainbow, I might knit this pattern again, perhaps as a baby gift. The pattern gives you the option to do it as a tunic or a dress, and I think it would be a fairly quick knit for a smaller kid. I will say that there were times when I was knitting the "skirt" that I thought it would never end, but considering that I was working on this in between other projects, I think it really did go rather quickly. And clearly I haven't gotten sweaters in fingering out of my system just yet, because I just bought the next pattern to make for Rainbow, at her request. I already have two skeins of Malabrigo Sock in my stash that will be perfect for it -- but I'm finishing a sweater for me first!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Pattern Release: Foglie e Cardi

The shawl pattern I released today has been nearly a year and a half in the making -- a long time even by my slow standards. It started with the lace design class I took with Kirsten Kapur last April. After that class, I had an idea of what I wanted to do, but it was months before I started putting together all the pieces. It was one of those projects that I'd pull out and work on excitedly for a while only to have to put it on the back burner when something else came up. This cycle continued for maybe a year. Finally, earlier this spring, just before MDSW, I finished the charts and knitting the sample from them, and I wore the shawl to the festival. It took several more months to get my hand-written charts into my charting program, generate and clean up the written directions, and put the pattern through several rounds of tech editing. But, after all that work, at long last, it's ready to share with you.

Foglie e Cardi is a top-down triangle shawl, and it starts with a garter tab. The meaning of the name is "leaves and thistles" in Italian, and those two motifs are featured prominently in the lace patterns. The first pattern (and the majority of the shawl) is made up of a small leaf stitch pattern. It transitions into a thistle stitch pattern and finally to a border. The lower edge of the shawl can be pinned out into points, as you see in my sample, or blocked straight, depending on your preference.

The lace stitches themselves are not difficult -- there are no knitting gymnastics here! However, I will note that the stitch repeat moves around a bit in the thistle section, so if you're the kind of knitter who likes to use stitch markers between pattern repeats, you'll need to be aware that there may be a lot of shifting of markers in this section.

The shawl uses fingering weight yarn; I used Done Roving Yarns Frolicking Feet for my sample. This yarn is a two-ply superwash wool that comes in very vibrant colors (the color I chose is Cloverleaf). Any fingering weight -- or even laceweight -- yarn will work for this pattern. You'll need somewhere in the range of 450 yds. to complete the shawl.

This pattern was a lot of work, but I couldn't be happier with the result, and I'm so excited to finally be able to share it with you!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Spin That Never Ends

I'm starting to think that Ginny of Fat Cat Knits put some sort of magic into this fiber that's causing it to take longer than normal to spin. I mean, I know I'm spinning very fine singles, but I spin fine singles all the time and it doesn't seem to take this long!

What you see here is all the spinning I've done up until now. I spent Friday evening at the wheel (once I got Rainbow to sleep) and managed to join the fourth and final section -- though, as you can see, I didn't get too far (the fourth section started with the yellow). I'll grant you I haven't spent all that much time at the wheel in the past couple of weeks, but I thought I would have been further by now. I really do need to step up my game a bit this week, though, because the next shipment of the fiber club ships out October 1, and I'd really like to have this done by then. With any luck, by next Sunday, I'll have a complete bobbin to show you (or even the start of plying)!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

I'm Sensing a Trend

Do you ever notice that every now and then your knitting seems to all kind of look the same? At the moment, I seem to be going through a stripe phase.

First of all, after much knitting last week, I did manage to finish up my brioche cowl last Friday night, just before we left for our weekend trip. I finished binding off just before bed -- I didn't even weave in all my ends before we left! -- and tossed it into one of my project bags to be dealt with when we got back. On Tuesday evening, I wove in the last of the ends and blocked it. By yesterday, it was dry. And it is now big and squishy and cozy; it will be a great winter accessory.

You may recall that I knit another brioche cowl earlier this year, but this was my first time doing the stitch in two colors. I really like the effect, but there are definitely some tension issues (mostly at the beginning of the round, where I switched from one color to the other). I suspect these issues might be improved with a tighter gauge, but I'll also wait and see if the stitches even out a bit on their own as I wear it and it gets tugged this way and that.

I didn't really use a pattern for this cowl; I just cast on until the 40 in. needle was full (making sure I had an even number) and worked basically until I round out of yarn. I started at the light end of the Retro Chic skein and the dark end of the Vintage skein to make sure I had contrast throughout.

The reason that I was so anxious to finish up this project (aside from the fact that I'd been working on it for more than a month and was a bit sick of it) was that I wanted to free up the needles to cast on for a new shawl design sample. This one will be a companion shawl to Leventry and have a similar construction, but with a few twists. As you can see, the beginning is striped:

I'm using Quince & Co. Finch for this shawl, the first time I've used this particular yarn, and I am loving it. It is wonderfully springy and bouncy, and it's soft to boot. I know it won't be the last time I use it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Pattern Release: Onder

I'm sorry for the radio silence the past few days. We were away over the weekend for a family wedding, and I took my computer with me, intending to post, but then discovered that I didn't have Internet access. Whoops. In any case, I'm back with a bang today. Meet my newest pattern design, Onder.

Onder is a crescent-shaped shawl worked from one end to the other. For the first half of the shawl, you work gradual increases to make the shawl wider. For the second half, you work gradual decreases to get back to the original stitch count. All the while you work a relatively simple lace edging that features the subtle sparkle of seed beads (though the beads are entirely optional).

For the sample, I used one skein of Baah! La Jolla, a delightfully springy fingering weight yarn. This yarn is 400 yds. per skein, but it's easy to adapt the pattern if you have a skein with more or less yardage. This pattern would be great for a skein of handspun -- with a scale to measure how much yarn you have, you can modify the pattern to use it all.

I'm really excited about this pattern. It was a lot of fun to knit and I'm looking forward to wearing it now that the weather has taken a turn for the cooler. I hope you enjoy it!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

I'd Let You Squish It If I Could

Yesterday was a good mail day. I was expecting it, but it's still a lovely surprise to get home and find yarn waiting for you -- particularly after a long day at work.

This is Quince & Co. Finch, a lovely, super squishy fingering weight. It is 100% American wool, breed type unknown, but it is soft and fluffy and lovely. I can't wait to cast on with it.

We are headed out of town this weekend for a family wedding, so I've already wound my skeins and gotten everything ready for the long ride in the car (about five hours each way). I'll be taking the Finch and starting a new design as well as this skein of Dream in Color Smooshy (the colorway is Miami Red), which is destined to be a Baby Surprise Jacket for our neighbors, who are expecting a baby next month.

They haven't shared whether it's a boy or a girl (and I don't even know if they know), so I went with something bright and cheerful that will look good on either gender. I figure that if it's a girl, I can do some quick embellishments or embroidery to make it more girly.