Archive for the ‘Project marriage’ Category

French Cancan

April 6, 2015

This poor little blog only seems to have been abandoned.  I knit feverishly … I just don’t give myself much time to post anything here.  There’s a veritable avalanche of things to log, to block, to photograph and write about.  There’s just the time continuum that gets in the way.

So I happily break my longtime silence today to talk about a pattern that comes with its own soundtrack.

As a sample knitter, more often than not, I knit patterns quickly and move on to the next.  Once in a while, I will encounter one so enjoyable that it’s worth knitting again to make a FO of my own.  Such is the case with French Cancan by L’Atelier de Mademoiselle C.

Edging detail

Edging detail

The pattern starts with a garter-stitch crescent and afterward, a cable suspended in lace mesh is applied around the edge.  I used 2 skeins of Spirit Trail Fiberworks Birte in the colorway Crete.  Although the pattern will take you to a crescent that has 201 stitches, you are only limited in size by the amount of yarn you have on hand, working with the ratio that you’ll need 40% of your yarn for the border.  With two skeins of

Fully laid out

Fully laid out

the same weight, there was precious little math involved: I knitted garter until I ran out of yarn – a garter section with 217 stitches.  I started the border with a new skein.  When finished, I had 32g of Birte remaining.

I did follow the designer’s note to slip the first stitch of every row knitwise to produce a stretchier border edge.

A note about blocking: I ran a crochet cotton lifeline through the last row of garter stitch before blocking.  Pinning this area  allowed me to limit the stretching of the piece to the mesh/border area without losing too much of the bounce in the body.  My final finished size was a 59″ wingspan and 16.5″ depth at the center point.

On display at Spirit Trail Fiberworks

On display at Spirit Trail Fiberworks

Now, about that soundtrack … the only downside to this wonderful pattern is that it comes with an ear worm.  You will catch yourself incessantly humming the cancan and picturing Toulouse Lautrec images.  A small price to pay for such a lovely final product.

This is a simple piece that delivers big bang for easy knitting.  I look forward to making up my own, and I’ll do it in Birte myself, because the yarn and project make for a terrific project marriage.

Unbroken bough

April 16, 2014

I’ve wanted for a long time to actually knit with Shelter from BrooklynTweed.  It’s my kind of yarn for a certain kind of knitting.  It’s ~ sheepy.  Some call it a little “crunchy.”  I don’t judge wool by its softness.  I find that an utterly subjective yardstick that’s rarely relevant in my world: I’m able to wear any kind of wool next to skin.

BrooklynTweed Shelter ~ Tent

BrooklynTweed Shelter ~ Tent

That said, I’m also stuck in the realm of accessory knitting for the present.  Too much happening around this Owl’s nest to dream of executing a garment.  And with a lot of my time spent at a construction site, I needed a second really warm hat since I kept misplacing my favorite Rosebud.

It was high time to pull out some Shelter in the colorway Tent (somewhere between the 1st and 2nd photos) and get it on the needles.  But which needles?  Frankly, I wasn’t going to spend a lot of time swatching for a hat.  I did the next best thing: I asked Jane about her experience with Shelter.  She indicated that it did relax with a bath, so she suggested that a US 7 needle and I’d be off and running.

I knew the pattern I wanted to make was Leila Raabe’s Bough.  Cables and texture for a nice woolly yarn, sure to keep my ears warm.  I did

Bough hat blocking

Bough hat blocking

spend some significant time searching the “Helpful notes” on the projects in Ravelry.  Several people indicated the hat was very large.  I do have a large noggin and a lot of hair.  But if there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s a hat that won’t. stay. on.  Hmmmm.   Time for some fiddling.

Some knitters indicated trouble with Shelter and breakage.  I had experienced that with Shelter’s skinny sister, Loft, but I knew how to work around that, cables or no cables.  (And no, I do not use a cable needle, just some nice slick Addi Turbo Rockets.)

Frankly, it worked up like a dream.  I used the Magic Loop technique and experienced neither breakage nor laddering.  The yarn performed perfectly.

Pattern:  Bough Cabled Hat & Cowl Set by Leila Raabe

Yarn:  1 sk BrooklynTweed Shelter in Tent ~ about 4 yards left without making pompom

Modifications:  C/O 91 stitches, then increased to 105.  Also added one row to the end of the pattern, using k2tog or p2tog as needed to close the hat more, as I did not intend to add a pompom.

See the tree?  Bough?  Get it?

See the tree? Bough? Get it?

Unblocked: Ribbing unstretched measured 15 inches

Blocked:  After soaking in lukewarm water and drying over an inverted vase (as you see here), ribbing relaxed to 19 inches unstretched.

Project marriage: 10  These were indeed made for each other.

Ruby

January 30, 2014

Newsflash:  The shoemaker’s child is no longer barefoot.  But I’m not quite ready to tell you about that, because it involves actually committing knitting to a form another human could decipher and reproduce.  No sense telling you about it if I can’t tell you how to make it.

Daisy Hat turned ruby

Daisy Hat turned ruby

In the meantime, I have made good on my promise and followed up the Daisy Hat with another for L., this time in the most scrumptious cashmere it could only be called Elysium.  The colorway is Ruby, from the Spirit Trail Fiberworks 2012 Knitting Club. It is the warmest, most beautiful glowing red; it could easily be a bouquet of roses, given where we are on the calendar.

The specs are virtually identical to its predecessor, with only the yarn changing.

Detail - faux cable and lace

Detail – faux cable and lace

Pattern:  Daisy Hat by Irina Dmitrieva

Size: Large, but knitted with DK weight instead of worsted

Needles:  Addi Turbo US 2 and US 1

Yarn: Spirit Trail Fiberworks Elysium, a special yarn for its 2012 Knitting Club, 100% cashmere, 1 skein

The finished hat weighed 39 g with 15 g remaining.

Project marriage score: 9, based on delight of the recipient

My campaign to establish something approximating order in our shoebox house is spreading to my knitting.  However, everything in my world cannot, in fact, be cured with a basket.

There will be frogging.  Widespread frogging.  A few are projects that I do intend to make at some point, but not right now.  At least one has been in time out for awhile because I lack the brain power to focus properly.  Time to rip that out, too.  It’s not the yarn’s fault or the designer’s.  Just knitterly distraction.  Little things, those I can handle right now. I feel a hat obsession coming on, largely owing to spending too much time outdoors with only one properly warm hand-knitted chapeau.

And in spite of having created something special just for her, Darling Girl is already clamoring for Maman to make something else.  Immediately.  She is relentless.  (Wonder where she gets that from?)

Time to reclaim some needles.

Daisy chain

January 8, 2014

I am blessed to know fantastic women.  Smart women.  Funny women.  Talented women.  Above all, generous women.

I don’t know all of them as well as I would like.  In some cases, I simply know they are wonderful.

This story starts with L.  We have moved in parallel circles for many years, but we are barely acquainted.  Nonetheless, her recent cancer diagnosis caused me great sadness.  Word that she was leaving nothing to time and toxic medication, and instead, shaving her head clean of her long dark hair added to the shock.  I wanted to do something for this woman I hardly know, but it needed to be something worth doing.

Which brings me to Jane.  She is one of those very special women.  Being around Jane is like finding instant calm ~ instant transportation to a warm hearth somewhere you’ve not been to, but know you like very much to sit ’round.  Jane fought cancer and won.  She is comfortable discussing it on her blog and with others.  So I asked her, “What can I make?  What did you get, or wish you had, that made things one bit better?”

Jane told me of a cashmere cap knitted for her by Jennifer.  “It’s something no one thinks of – when you go to sleep at night, your head is exposed, and it’s cold.  I wore it to sleep, and around the house.  I still wear it.”  That cashmere hat is one of Jane’s most prized possessions, made for her with love from one of nature’s warmest and softest fibers by the hands of a friend who dyed it, too.

Of course, there was perfect symmetry in Jennifer having made it.  My good friend always overwhelms me by simply thinking of me, not to mention the unexpected gestures, big and small, that come my way from her Virginia home where Spirit Trail Fiberworks is located.  She does this while managing her business and raising two outstanding young people.  (Small wonder I stay up into the owl hours to finish booth samples for her.)

So I knew what to make.  Next, what yarn to use?

A harder question than it might seem, given that there are many colors one would not choose for a person who is not well.  Of course, one of the advantages of having a *cough cough* virtual yarn shop in your

Great Northern Yarns Chamonix - mink + cashmere

Great Northern Yarns Chamonix – mink + cashmere

house is that there’s plenty to shop from.  Which is where Luann comes in.  The skein of Great Northern Yarn Chamonix (color is true in project photo, not skein) was my “sherpa reward” for driving some of her stash to the Knitter’s Review Retreat last year.  Using yarn from the older sister I never had whose life and mine have been intertwined in more ways than coincidence could explain just fit.

Daisy Hat

Daisy Hat

The pattern marriage was simple: Daisy Hat by Irina Dmitrieva.  The pattern is written for a worsted-weight yarn on small needles.  I was knitting for a not-petite person, but one with no hair.  A head with no hair is far smaller than one with hair.

So I improvised.

Crowning the daisy chain

Crowning the daisy chain

The Chamonix – 70% mink, 30% cashmere – lacked much of anything in the way of natural elasticity.  It is a DK weight.  So I made the large size using this finer yarn and took the needles down to a US 1 and US 2 Addi Turbo.  It pretty much knitted itself while I got out of the way.  And after a bath, it softened and fluffed up just like Clara said it would.

Within a week of receiving her hat, L. was wearing it to work.  In addition to the most lovely note, she called me.  She talked about how good it felt.  The Yarn Goddess apparently smiled on the endeavor: my improvisation fit as if it was bespoken.

STF Elysium 100% cashmere in Ruby

STF Elysium 100% cashmere in Ruby

I asked if she’d like another.

It’ll be finished in the next day or so.

All because I know fantastic women.

Deceptive

December 3, 2013

Oh, the blogger guilt hangs heavy around my neck.  So many FOs to tell you about, and so little time to actually write about them.

I’m going to dust off the old soapbox and talk about one of my favorite techniques.  It gives maximum effect for minimum effort, and if you haven’t tried it ~ well, shame on you.  Let’s talk about colorwork.  I’ll do you one better, though: let’s talk colorwork without stranding.  Let’s talk mosaic knitting.

Sofya Cowl

Sofya Cowl

Simply explained, mosaic knitting, also called “slip-stitch knitting,” allows you to work one color at a time in each row you knit with results that look like you positively slaved. Often, depending on the colorways involved, mosaic knitting has a distinctive look that mimics stained glass.

Here you see it in the Sofya Cowl, knit in Spirit

Corrugated rib up close

Corrugated rib up close

Trail Fiberworks Verdande.*  The background color (green) is Crete; the brown is one of my perennial favorites, Kestrel. This was a really quick knit other than the 40-odd rows of corrugated ribbing (Knit the knits in one color; purl stitches are worked in the other color, see?)  Even with the ribbing, I was able to knit the larger size  in less than a week.

Here is the 411:

Mosaic up close in Sofya Cowl

Mosaic up close in Sofya Cowl

Pattern:  Sofya Cowl by Jennifer Dassau, size Large

Yarn:  Spirit Trail Fiberworks Verdande,* one skein each in Crete and Kestrel

Needles:  US 7 Signature Needle Arts circs because I know Verdande will grow when it meets water and I tend to knit colorwork (of every kind) a little loosely.

Mods:  None.  I had enough of both colors left to have made a 2nd one reversing the colors.  (Putting the brown in the background and the green on top.)  Maybe even enough to repeat the whole thing if I felt adventurous.

Project Marriage Score:  9  ~ I just wanted to squoosh this around my stubby neck.

++++++++++

Bubble Wrap Cowl on display

Bubble Wrap Cowl on display

Similarly, I used Verdande’s thinner DK sister, Birte, to make the Bubble Wrap Cowl, with Winter Solstice in the background and Sorbet in the “bubbles.”  This is another mosaic pattern where you’re working one color per row.  Period.  That’s all she wrote.

I’ve had a couple of people ask me about executing Row 5 – which is what creates the “bubbles.”  If I get a lot of requests, I’ll haul out the camera for some new snaps, but I would explain it thus:

  • Insert the tip of your right needle in the 5th loop down ~ the last one you knitted in the background color you are now working (the blue, in this case)
  • Using your fingers, unpick the four “bubble” loops, leaving them laying across your right needle, behind the loop you are holding.
  • Now insert your right needle the rest of the way through the stitch and knit with the background color, catching the loose strands behind the new stitch you made.
Bubbles of sorbet

Bubbles of sorbet

Sanity check: these dropped stitches always occur over the middle stitch of the bubble in the sequence below.  If you’re not aligned there, something’s gone awry.

Pattern:  Bubble Wrap Cowl by madelinetosh

Yarn: Spirit Trail Fiberworks Birte,* 2 skeins Sorbet (bubble color), 1 sk Winter Solstice

Needles:  US 6 Signature circs for this booth sample.  I am making one for myself now, and I’ve gone down one needle to a US 5 very comfortably.  It is making the bubbles “pop” more.

Pattern marriage score:  9.5. This is both drapey and smooshy in Birte.  In my own iteration, I’ve removed a few pattern repeats to make it a single loop about 37 inches around that I will work a full 12 or more inches deep.  The original finished size (44 inches) sort of fell between the easy-around twice /or not size for my liking.

There’s more blocking to do, more cowls, more shawls ~ oh, and the holidays and Owl Manor and … you get the general idea.  But do yourself a favor and pick up a mosaic knitting pattern and give it a test-drive.  You’ll be pleased that you did; I won’t tell a soul it isn’t stranded.

* If you’re reading this before Dec. 18, check the home page for a 25% discount on these yarns at Spirit Trail Fiberworks, and tell Jennifer that Nutmeg Owl sent you!

Windward

February 22, 2013

The blocking backlog chez Owl is rapidly reaching epic proportions.  So while away (we somehow managed to narrowly escape in the wake of the blizzard for a week in a much warmer clime), I figured it was at least time to try to photograph a project that refuses to be photographed easily.  Or well.

Windward, all points and angles

Windward, all points and angles

However, Heidi Kirrmaier’s Windward is an incredibly easy ~ and fun ~ little knit.  Is it a scarf or a shawl?  Either.  Both.  Whichever you want.  It starts with a garter triangle at one

Cast-on corner

Cast-on corner

end and using increases, decreases, cast-ons and bind-offs (but no picking up stitches or breaking your yarn), produces modular triangles and rectangles in garter, stockinette and reverse stockinette.  Really, it’s hard to know which is the right side.

Pure simplicity

Pure simplicity

The knit is so simple that it deserves a really yummy yarn ~ and one without distracting color changes that would detract from the shaping of the piece.  I used one of my all-time go-tos, Spirit Trail Fiberworks Sunna, a fingering-weight blend of merino, cashmere and bombyx silk that is positively delicious and wearable year-round.  The unnamed blue-violet colorway was the 2010 Holiday Yarn Club selection.  Because of the unique construction of the piece, and because my skeins were extremely well-matched, I did not alternate skeins.

Wrap it and go

Wrap it and go

Windward is extremely wearable.  Its unusual points give it a ton of visual interest no matter how you wear it.  Initially, I thought I might want to whip a quick I-cord edge across the top to keep it from rolling, but that would create a front and back side, and it really isn’t necessary.  Why complicate something that works?

So here are the deets:

Pattern:  Windward from the “Come Sail Away” ebook by Heidi Kirrmaier, aka PiPiBird.  I would recommend this to a new knitter who has mastered the basic stitches and is ready for a little challenge.  For an experienced knitter, this is pure amusement.

Yarn: Spirit Trail Sunna.  Sunna has wonderful drape that fits this pattern wonderfully.  Total yarn used: 490 yards ~ 65 g remain from second skein.

Needles: US 4

Mods: none

Project marriage score: 9.5.  This was a no-brainer.  I’ve given up trying to get a good image of it and will just wear it instead.

Joy

December 31, 2012

This, my dear friends, is what knitting is all about: making one

Sock Joy!

Sock Joy!

Darling Girl happy.  Of course, she asked Nutmeg Owl to make her new “sleeping socks” the day her mommy returned from the Knitter’s Review Retreat in 2011.  Darling Girl had pushed her little toesies right through her beloved orange pair.

And so she asked mommy to please make her some purple ones.

How embarrassed should I be that it took me a year to complete them?  Is someone going to revoke my knitting credentials?

Because … it’s just … I’m just not a sock knitter.  Thanks to Melissa Morgan-Oakes, at least I can knit

RIbbed for a nice fit

RIbbed for a nice fit

them two-at-a-time when I must, but socks just don’t do it for me.  It’s not the ‘pair’ thing, either.  I like mitts, mittens, gloves … but something about socks just slays my desire to stitch.

So to knit these – on US 0 needles, no less, was a labor of love that lasted longer than a pregnancy.

The 411:

Pattern:  Emily’s socks by Melissa Morgan-Oakes

Sweet soles

Sweet soles

Yarn:  Yarn Love Juliet in Blackberry Jam – the old formula, 25% nylon

Mods:  Size was a hybrid between small and medium.  I found that the special Emily’s Stitch absolutely kicked me in the tailfeathers.  So these became ribbed socks instead, with ribbing continuing all the way to the toe to make them nice and stretchy.

Project marriage score:  I don’t know.  It was sock yarn for making socks.  It was fine.  Didn’t knock mine off.  But I could blame the project as easily as the yarn.  Pass.

What’s important:  The Darling Girl loves them!

Remnants

November 2, 2012

At the end of most projects, I am left with a small ball of yarn.  Sometimes there’s enough left to be seriously useful.  Other times, it’s hard to tell.  That’s why I was intrigued by the Knitspot pattern Plain Jhaynes, part of a generous birthday present from KnittingKittens.  Anne Hanson wrote the pattern for some light fingerless mitts made from a tiny bit of laceweight yarn.  I saw major possibilities for using up the remnants left from all of those shawls.

But first, I’d need to see just how much little yarn I needed to make a pair.  I had 41 grams of Spirit Trail Fiberworks Nona in

Looking plain … for now

Seaweed from making the Phoenix Rising shawl.  Conveniently, it was already divided into two pretty-much equal balls.  I would have been comfortable working from both ends of the same yarn cake if that were not the case.   As you can see, I worked them up two-at-a-time on a US 1 circular using the magic loop method, as I do anytime I am making “two of a kind.”

Nona in Seaweed with beads

Of course, not being content to leave well enough alone, I couldn’t really leave them to be “plain.”  Since there were extra beads from the  shawl, I wanted to use those, too.  I decided to apply them to the pattern after each of the “crossed” stitches was worked.

Then Owl’s little disaster struck and every subsequent piece of knitting I picked up went to hell for weeks.

Harrumph.  Lest you think me a human knitting machine, somehow, I simultaneously picked up an errant stitch on one side of the left mitt, then on the right one I made the beaded pattern go wonky.  Seriously and undeniably OFF.  RIP-it.  RIP-it. RIP-it.  Back about 12 rounds.

Photography requiring contortions and a timer

I know Anne Hanson had a reason for making the two lace panels different on the two hands ~ presumably for mirroring.  However, for beading purposes, the beads just sit better on the right-hand panel (Panel B if you are keeping score at home), which features crossed stitches.  The beads lean nicely and pick up the light.

Ergo, with mistakes to fix anyway, I seized the opportunity to rip all the way back to the beginning of the lace panel on the left hand and use the Panel B chart for both.  I don’t think it makes one whit of difference whether they are “mirrored.”  What they are is soft, lightweight and oh-so-cozy.  Cashmere, silk and merino will do that.

Project marriage score:  9.5  (Nona is a recommended yarn for the pattern.)

Needles:  US 1 Addi Turbo, .5mm crochet hook for beading

Modifications:

  • Used Panel B chart for both hands
  • Placed each 8/0 bead after working the “crossing over” stitch of the sequence
  • Worked 9 1/2 repeats of Panel B chart, then added an extra .75 inches to length at top before ribbing
  • On thumbs, worked 10 rounds stockinette before ribbing

Total yarn usage:  31 grams

Nice little thumb gussets

Of course, you need not bead yours.  You don’t even have to bother with a patterned panel.  Just go round and round with that stockinette and some luscious laceweight leftovers.

I am toying with bringing the needle size down one more because the Nona really relaxed after a bath.  I think it would be very easy to tweak these for fingering/sock yarn, too.  Finally, a way to use up all of those little balls of laceweight I am too stingy to get rid of.

Nothing plain about these Jhaynes.

 

Icicles

October 19, 2012

No, we don’t have icicles here yet.  A killing frost and appropriately chilly mornings, but no icicles.   Whether it was the change of season or the vacation (yes, Mr. Owl and I checked out for a bit), the reset button has done its job.

The knitting mojo is back, and not a nanosecond too soon.  Count on a few skeins of Birte to cure whatever ails you.

In the meantime, I am attacking the runway full of projects waiting for blocking.  Which brings us to the icicles:  the Oslo Walk Shawl

Oslo Walk Shawl by Susanna IC

from Susanna IC.  The yarn is special.  It is my friend Nancy Zeller of Long Ridge Farm‘s first attempt at semi-solid dyeing.  Her results on this 100% silk were spectacular.  All she needed was a nice piece to show it off.

The shawl was

Miyuki 8/0 beads

originally featured in a spread in Interweave Knits about contrasts in knitting.  I went a different direction, using this finer cobweb silk and 8/0 taupe lined crystal AB Miyuki beads from Twisted Sistah Beads.  The breeze and sun co-opted my efforts to capture them

A shallow beaded crescent

winking on the edging.  Use your imagination:  Ice crystals on pewter.

Project marriage score: 9

Modifications: none

Needles:US 7 for CO and BO, US 5 for knitting, .5mm crochet

Use a .5mm crochet hook for these

hook for beading

You’ll find the shawl and the yarn at the Long Ridge Farm booth in Building A at Rhinebeck this weekend.  Scads more of my knitting will be at the Spirit Trail Fiberworks booth, also in Building A.  Maybe you’ll find me there, too.

Keep your eyes peeled for owls  😉

Special

September 7, 2012

When things go horribly awry, you learn which of the people in your world really care.  I am so very fortunate … other than BFF KnittingKittens, my dear ones are an Internet connection away, but they are there.  With endless support and encouragement.

It takes my breath away.

Like the package that showed up yesterday.  A puffy package from Spirit Trail Fiberworks.  Only I didn’t order anything.  And it’s too early for a club shipment.

Dyed and spun with love

This is no retail therapy.  This is love.  974 yards of hand-dyed, hand-spun support just waiting to be turned into a cashmere-merino hug I can wear.  In my favorite shades, of course (which I found the iPad camera wanting at capturing).

Can we talk over-achievers here for a sec?  Okay, not one to waste a minute, no, she had to combine the meditative aspects of spinning with exercise:  Jennifer spun it on the treadmill, for EZ’s sake!

I hope this can help me find my knitting mojo, for like Peter Pan’s shadow, it has utterly deserted me.  In the month since Owl Manor burned, I have managed to:

  • bind off a shawl;
  • drop stitches on one mitt while adding an extra stitch to its mate (requiring massive frogging of beading);
  • knit 4 rows of garter stitch.

That’s it.  Most nights, I just don’t have any stillness anymore.  There is sourcing and searching and seeking and reading and researching to do.  It is hard to roll it up and Put. It. Away.

But now I have something else to search for: the perfect pattern to marry to this very special delivery.


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