Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Pattern Release: Gaskell

Several months ago, you may remember that I started knitting what eventually became a very large piece of garter stitch that I kept referring to as my Cranford Shawl. I am very pleased to tell you that today it's been released as my newest original pattern -- Gaskell.

This triangular shawl is knit from one side to the other and uses short rows (with no wraps!) to create a subtly ruffled edge along the bottom. The design was inspired by the costuming in the BBC dramatization of Elizabeth Gaskell's Cranford, which featured a number of intriguing shawls. One feature that I particularly liked was a "collar" in the center of some of them, and you will see that on this shawl.

I won't lie -- this shawl is big and uses a fair bit of yarn! But it easily doubles as a sweater, and I've been using it for the past several months when there's a chill in the air and I need an extra layer (but am too lazy to pull out a sweatshirt). It's worked at a fairly dense gauge for the weight of yarn, which means that it is extra warm, and because it's in garter stitch, it's also very stretchy. I blocked mine only very gently, but it could easily be blocked more aggressively to be positively enormous!

I used Cascade Eco Wool for my shawl, but because it's so stretchy and fit isn't hugely important, yarn substitution is easy. My pattern testers have used all sorts of yarn, mostly in the worsted/heavy worsted category, and it seems to look great in solids, semisolids, and even self-striping yarns.

I'm very happy with how this shawl turned out, and I'm hoping you will enjoy the pattern!

Sunday, February 26, 2012


Today's spinning session will be day four of plying my All Spun Up merino/silk Millifiori. As with all laceweight I've spun, this last step is taking a very long time, but I know that with this fiber it's totally going to be worth it.

Assuming I can finish up this afternoon, I can skein it up this evening during the Oscars!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Whoooooo's Cute?

Thanks to a day off from work and a fairly cooperative toddler who let me work on her sweater, I finished Rainbow's cardigan!

Pattern: Snowy Owl Cardigan by Elizabeth Suarez, size 2T
Yarn: Cascade 220 Heathers (100% Peruvian highland wool), color 9461, approximately two skeins, with scraps of Cascade 220 Wool in a dark brown shade and Patons Classic Merino in a cream/off-white
Needles: US 4 (3.5 mm) Knit Picks Options
Started/Completed: February 4/February 20
Mods: none

This pattern went so much faster the second time around, despite the fact that I was making a larger size. The intarsia portion was much smoother, for one thing, and I can tell that my tension was a lot more even than it was on my first attempt. I was very happy to use up the rest of this color of Cascade 220, of which I originally had 10 skeins from a WEBS purchase five or six years ago.

Although I used the same needle size as last time, I think I was a little closer to gauge on this sweater, though it still has a bit of room in it -- just enough that Rainbow should be able to wear it for a couple of seasons before it gets too small. I used a slightly heavier yarn for the owl, and I like the fluffy effect I got as a result.

Although she told me that she really likes it and was happy to help me pick out buttons once the knitting was complete, Rainbow did not want to model it for me. I put it on her and tried to get her to pose, and this is what I got:

This is what we call a toddler meltdown -- we have at least one a day here!

Now that her sweater is done, I am free to cast on for one of my own, so I did some swatching.

It's not a great photo because I didn't have good lighting, but this, my friends, is nearly perfect gauge in my handspun for I Heart Aran. My stitch gauge is spot on, and I'm only one row off over four inches on row gauge. We are a go!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Millifiori, Continued

A short post for today, because there's not much to show. Since finishing up my sweater yarn, I've been working on spinning my All Spun Up 50% merino/50% silk into a two-ply laceweight. It's slow going, but at least I am now on the second bobbin:

I am still loving these colors and enjoying the spinning, even if it is taking a lot of time! I'm hoping to get the singles done this week so I can ply and move onto something just a tad thicker!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

New Things and Stuff

A lot of the knitting I've been doing lately has been design stuff, most of which I can't show you yet, and so I've been neglecting the knitting I should be doing, Rainbow's sweater. I had planned to make a dent in it last night at knit night, but my stomach started acting up midafternoon and I decided to punt. So tonight's goal is to get into the intarsia portion of the body, which should only be a few rows away.

Rather than showing you another shot of green stockinette with a bit of ribbing at the end, I'd like to share a couple of new acquisitions from last weekend. The first was a complete surprise, as it arrived in a package on Saturday afternoon bearing the return address of my best friend's mother. She's sent me yarn in the past (the woman has known me my entire life, so when she sees yarn, I guess she thinks of me), but I definitely did not expect this:

This beautiful braid of greens is 100 grams of Wensleydale from Sweet Georgia, a dyer whose fiber I've long been wanting to try out. It seems this was in the crafting stuff of the youngest daughter in the family, who last year was trying to make felted mug cozies and not having much luck. This was also in the package, which I assume is the same fiber and is what was leftover from her attempts:

If this is what she used, I'm pretty sure I know why it didn't work out so well for her. Wensleydale, for those of you unfamiliar with the breed, is more like hair than fur; it's long and wavy rather than crimpy, so it won't felt easily. It spins beautifully, however, so I am looking forward to getting into it. I think I should make the nice lady who sent it to me something with the yarn I spin from it, don't you think?

My other acquisition was planned. The week before, when I was at my LYS (as I usually am on Saturday afternoons), another regular customer came in with samples of her hand-sewn project bags to leave for the owner to look at because she was thinking of carrying them. They were all extremely well sewn and done in super cute fabrics, so I knew they would go fast when it was announced midweek that the store would be carrying them. I kept my fingers crossed that there would be some left by the time I got there, and I was in luck:

Isn't it cute? It's made by Stitched by Sasha (that's her Etsy shop, only recently opened, if you want to get your hands on one and aren't near my LYS). I'm very excited about this bag and might have to find it some friends in the future!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Prepare to Plotz!

Late last week, I looked at the calendar and had a brief moment of panic when I realized that I have a baby shower to attend at work this Friday and I hadn't yet started on a gift (and it is well known in my office that I'm a knitter, so I couldn't very well buy something). Fortunately, baby knits are fast, so when I got to my LYS on Saturday afternoon, I found some appropriate yarn and cast on. It was only a matter of hours before I was finished.

This is the Upside-Down Daisy hat from Susan B. Anderson's book Itty-Bitty Hats. There are so many cute things to knit in this book, none of them taking a very long time to complete. I'd estimate this hat took five hours of less, and a lot of that time was in sewing on the petals and weaving in all the ends.

As I know nothing about the laundry habits of preferences of the mom-to-be, I went with something washable -- Berrocco Vintage in Sakura and Snow Day, with a tiny amount of leftover Dream in Color Classy in Go Go Grassy (from my FLS) for the stem. I doubled the yarn for the petals (because I was using the same weight as the rest of the hat rather than the called-for slightly heavier yarn) but otherwise followed the pattern exactly for the 0-6 month size. Rainbow asked if it was for her while I was taking photos, so I have a feeling that another one might be in my future.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sweater Project 2012: Stage Two

As of this week, the spinning portion of my fleece-to-sweater project is compete. I finished plying up the last skein (made of all the leftover bits of singles from the previous skeins) on Monday night and finished washing the last few skeins by midweek. Once everything was dry, I was able to measure the last few skeins and total up my yardage.

So here are the final stats and all the relevant info: This started as a Romney fleece purchased at Maryland Sheep and Wool last year. I handed it off to Ozark Carding Mill shortly after I bought it, where it was washed and carded into roving for me. I spun up the singles 2 ounces at a time, using a semi-worsted method, on my miniSpinner, letting each batch rest at least overnight before winding it onto my ball winder and then transferring it to a TP tube for storage. Once all the singles were spun, I mixed them up for plying for the sake of consistency and plied six full skeins, all between about 170 yards and 190 yards. Finally, I plied up all but a tiny amount of the leftover singles into the final skein. When all was said and done, I ended up with approximately 1,215 yards of three-ply heavy worsted weight yarn -- a bit less than I was hoping for, but still a respectable number, I think.

The last step in this project is to knit a sweater with this yarn. Originally, I had hoped to have enough to knit a Fireside Sweater, but I'm a good deal short on the yardage I'd need to make my size (and in the end I think it's probably going to be a better idea to use commercial yarn for that one, as a handspun version would likely end up weighing three or four pounds). My second choice was I Heart Aran, for which I am very close in yardage but think I have enough wiggle room should I get close. I am not going to make myself crazy trying to finish this in time to wear it this winter, so I'll stick to my original plan of having a finished handspun sweater done by the end of 2012.

Now that this spinning project is done, I'm back to spinning colored fiber again, which is a great change. There's still roughly a pound and a half of fleece left, though, so it'll be back on the wheel one of these days. I'm thinking that because it's roving, I can use it to practice my long draw and spin up some light, lofty yarns, perhaps to use in combination with other handspun. That, though, is a subject for another day. For now, I'm just admiring the lovely pile of cream-colored skeins sitting next to my wheel and thinking about how cozy I'll be next fall and winter in the sweater they will become.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Knitting with Old Yarn

My sweater spinning is officially done, but I'll save that for Sunday for my spinning post. I've spent most of my evening hours this week actually knitting -- shocking, I know! Specifically, I've been using some very well-aged Cascade 220 to knit a Snowy Owl Cardigan for Rainbow. Thus far, I've completed the two sleeves and just started the body. I was home with her for most of the day today (it seems she has outgrown her ear tubes and is battling another double ear infection, so we kept her home from school), and she was kind enough to model the sleeves for me:

While I'm not exactly looking forward to the tangle that is the intarsia section, this is going to be a super cute sweater when it's done. If I can get my butt in gear, I can finish it up in time for her to wear it while it'd actually still cold!

Monday, February 06, 2012

Pattern Release: Tiled In Topper

Not long after I released my Tiled In Cowl, I received a number of requests for a coordinating hat. It took me several months, but I'm delighted to announce that my Tiled In Topper is now available as a Ravelry download.

The hat is available in two sizes -- to fit an average woman's head and an average man's head. Like the cowl, it uses a provisional cast on to create a seamless hem at the brim. Using a yarn with long color repeats (like Knit Picks Chroma, shown here in the women's sample) creates the illusion of multicolor stranded colorwork, though only two colors are used throughout.

The men's sample is shown here in two shades of Knit Picks Palette. (Incidentally, I am not trying to sell the yarn, but I really love it for colorwork, and for the purposes of this hat, you have many, many color options.)

I'm really pleased with how the hat turned out -- in large part thanks to some wonderful test knitters; a great tech editor; and (as always) my extremely generous friend Jenn, who puts her graphic design background to good use in making me some kick-ass layouts.

There will be one more Tiled In pattern in the series -- a pair of fingerless mitts, by request. I still have to do some number crunching and swatching to get those ready, but they are in the works. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this hat pattern! It has been submitted to the Knit Picks IDP program, and I'm hoping it'll be up soon so that you can buy it with yarn if you so choose.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Ta-da: Yarn!

Plying of my sweater singles has commenced (and has been going very quickly!). Here are the first two skeins:

While the yardage is a tad disappointing, I'm very pleased with the quality of yarn. I used a worsted method with a woolen preparation (carded roving) for a very soft, fluffy yarn that I'm hoping will still be fairly durable.

As far as plying goes, I am following the same plan as last year. I had 18 batches of singles, so I am mixing them up to be as consistent as possible -- number 1 is being plied with number 7 and number 13, 2 with 8 and 14, etc. When one "bobbin" runs out, I've been breaking the singles that remain and tossing the leftovers into a bag. When I finish the six full skeins, I'll pull out the leftovers and ply them all up into a seventh skein. I've plied five so far (the third is nearly dry, the fourth is hanging to dry, and the fifth is waiting on the niddy noddy), so I have just the last full skein to ply up tonight and will do the leftovers tomorrow. Then it will be time to count yardage and decide what sweater to knit -- the really challenging part of this whole project!