Posts Tagged ‘oneskein’

Season’s change

September 6, 2013

I never intended for this to become a quarterly blog.  Really, I didn’t.

The thing is, the one thing that has been a constant in this still developing new life of mine is my knitting.  I just have been hard-pressed to find time to photograph and write about it amid all the other chronicling, organizing, decision-making and traveling that over-fill my days, not to mention the owl-hours.

I think about this owl box with guilt even as I post over on Owl Manor.

I won’t claim that I have made one iota of progress clearing the blocking runway.  That will have to change soon, as my Rhinebeck projects will need to jump the queue to be shipped off to Spirit Trail Fiberworks for display.  Maybe then I will take advantage of a cleared guest room to address the rest.  Maybe not.  You’ll want to bet the “under” on that one, to be sure.

But I will offer some proof of knitting, and my own fallibility.  Here is a half-completed Arbutus in Spirit Trail Birte, having just come off

Arbutus - let 'er riiiiipppp

Arbutus – let ‘er riiiiipppp

the needles in the car, about to be frogged.  The colorway is Autumn Aurora, lovely deep blue violets.  Arbutus is a terrific pattern for a single skein of Birte, and it has a really nifty design for those of us who lack swanlike necks.  Through the magic of short rows, the cowl is divided into three joined rings of graduated size.  This allows for the back to not get too bulky on the neck, and the front to drape nicely.

So why the frogging?  It was just too dense for my liking.  Generally speaking, gauge doesn’t matter a lot with cowls ~ as long as you can get them over your head, that is.  Birte is a little lighter than the original yarn the pattern was written for, and I was playing around with needle size.  In doing so, it was clear that while the US 6 produced a nice springy fabric, it wasn’t the one I was trying to achieve.

When in doubt, rip it out.  No harm, no foul.  We’ll try again on my Signature circs in US 7, which I tend to knit a little looser with than the Addi lace-tips I had handy the first time around.

Because it has been so very long, I owe you all a look at my greatest, and lifelong WIP, too.  Here is Darling Girl last week, on

The Baker in all her frosting glory

The Baker in all her frosting glory

the eve of her last day in preschool, decorating every single one of the cupcakes she baked.  She grew almost three inches and two shoe sizes over the summer.  (This resulted in much unscheduled shopping since she outgrew fall clothing without ever wearing it!  Another reason for my blogging fail.)  She does love to bake, and to watch Jacques Pepin.  Go figure.  Must be Owl’s genes.  I can’t wait until we have a real kitchen to work in.

DG started kindergarten this week ~ and what a grown-up she became overnight.  I am not sure I can handle this.

All the more reason to keep the needles ~ and the camera ~ at hand.



July 10, 2012

I know I’m not the only daft knitter who does this.

Can’t be.

Upcoming: 72 hours of travel through two time zones to attend a meeting in the desert, then turn around and fly back East.

What will I obsess over most before I leave?

What knitting to take, of course.

With my current project too close to completion, it’s a recurrence of startitis.

Key considerations:  A one-skein project that involves minimal tools, little swatching and nearly mindless instructions.  Because I have some sense, a pattern that I already own.  And a combo I can package easily this evening while packing the other stuff.  You know, clothes, makeup ~ things muggles consider necessities … before my wake-up in the owl-hours to catch my flight.

Sometimes I will spend days thinking this over.

I don’t have the luxury of time now.

But the answer is incredibly simple:  Knitspot’s Plain Jhaynes mitts with Spirit Trail Fiberworks Nona in Seaweed left over from my Phoenix Rising.  It’s a perfect use for laceweight remnants, and since the yarn just happens to be (ahem) in a basket on the coffee table, we can check that off.  Oh – and I have a skein of BrooklynTweed Loft and Pei within easy reach, too, so I can finally write some kind of a review.  Loft in the colorway Barn Owl, to boot. Or hoot.

Check and check.

Season 2 of Downton Abbey is loaded on the iPad.  A defensive measure for the one (long) flight where I appear to be stuck in a middle seat (gulp!).

Now to the rest of that packing list …


June 23, 2011

Alcea in the garden

‘Tis the season for hollyhocks.

Here, in the garden this morning, where they have self-sowed and come up annually …

… and this year, on the needles, in this fun little crescent-shaped shawl from the talented Susanna IC.  Her pattern is called Alcea, the Latin name for hollyhocks.

Inspiration comes in many forms, and rather than questioning my yarn choice, I just went with my gut.  It is Sundara Fingering Merino Cashmere in Flower Studies #45.  Sort of a Crayola

Flower Studies #45 starring in Alcea

orange meets pink and coral.  Frankly, I didn’t really like it much.  If someone had wanted to buy it from me, I’d have been happy to sell it.

I don’t know that I see myself wearing a screaming coral-and-orange shawl.  Maybe it will become a wardrobe staple.  Maybe it will become a gift.  At this point, I haven’t a clue.

Just a compulsion to knit this yarn into this project.  Away we go.

Fenced in

February 18, 2011

Living in New England means snow.  We’ve had more than ample proof of that, with a healthy over-under pool going on when it might all be gone.  (At this point, I’m in for Easter – bearing in mind that it’s the latest Easter can be …)  I have a lot of hair, and one of the few things I hate about it is when it gets snowy wet.

Fenced In, in Romney

That won’t be a problem now that I have Fenced In.  I chose this terrific one-skein pattern by Tracey Kay for my bulky Romney yarn for this month’s wool-along in the Knitter’s Book of Wool group on Ravelry.  I was looking for a project with enough texture to show off the properties of this very smooth wool, and the reverse stockinette background was just the right canvas.  I also wanted something simple enough where the tonal variations in the colorway did not detract from the finished product.

In addition, I’ve been enjoying the many variations of cabling without a cable needle.  This project gave me more good practice.

Standing out in sharp relief

It was a wicked fast knit — just four days from cast-on to bind-off.  That is, after all, one of the benefits of working with bulky yarn ~ something I rarely do these days.  I used all but 2 yards of my 90-yard skein from Foxhill Farm in Lee, Mass., to make the small adult size with no modifications.

Project marriage score: 9.5  (Yes, this is something new.  I may as well start scoring the matches.)

Probably the most interesting observation from the month’s exercise was how unwilling the yarn was to become saturated with water.  It just didn’t want to get really wet, and took a good soak.   I blocked it over an inverted vase with a couple of plastic grocery bags on the top to provide some height/ventilation and prevent creasing.

I can’t decide which is better:

  1. having a really warm hat that will keep my hair dry
  2. actually completing our wool-along project on time two months in a row

Before you start applauding … if you’re keeping score at home, you know that I am still working on last February’s project … which, in all fairness, I did not start until months later … but still.


January 25, 2011

What do you get when you have a Finnsheep, a French rabbit and a pattern called Holland?

I know, I know, it sounds like a joke from a bygone era.

To answer the question ~ you get this wonderful melange.  Added bonus:  you actually finish your monthly wool-along project within the specified month!

Holland Cowl - blocking

Our Knitter’s Book of Wool wool-along yarn was Finn.  Back in November, I picked up this blend of Finn and angora from Point of View Farm.  Although labeled worsted-weight, it was decidedly thick-and-thin, and really rather bulky in places.  Thus, I sought a cowl pattern that was more sculptural than defined, and that would accommodate the 103 yards in the hank.

Holland Cowl fit the bill.  Written for just 60 yards, I could play around with extra repeats and work the shaping I like, rather than making a neck tube.

Holland Cowl - modeled

Mods: Worked first 4 pattern repeats on US 9, then 1 repeat on US 10 and the final repeat on US 10.5.  Used Russian lace bind-off for stretch.

It was clear that the yarn was happier with the larger needle sizes.  Not that the 9 was bad – it will keep close to the neck at the top, and I knew the yarn would relax some with a bath. There was some VM (vegetable matter, to muggles), but it was easily removed and emblematic of how “close the the sheep” the yarn is.

The cowl-blocker

I know there are a lot of questions out there about how to block cowls to keep them from creasing.  I have found that using this old metal vase is perfect. For blocking cowls that are graduated at the bottom, I turn it upside-down (as photographed above).  For those with a defined edging that might need some pinning out, I stand it upright (as at left), stuff a couple of plastic bags around the sides to pad to suit my needs, and then pin out the bottom on the blocking board.  Voila!

I am glad that most of the breed-specific yarn I have stashed  in anticipation of upcoming wool-alongs is not blended with other fiber.  I love angora, and I really like what it did to this yarn.  But I do feel that I took away from the all-Finn experience in doing so, and hope to revisit this yarn based on my pals’ many joyous comments.  On the other hand, the soaking led to a more cohesive yarn in the final product, complete with a slight angora halo and wonderful smooshiness.  Just what’s needed in the brief wake between New England snowstorms.

A glance

January 6, 2011

When the calendar page turns, we are all conditioned to take stock.  A glance back, a look ahead.

A year ago, I promised to “make progress on the following”:

Tackle some of the baker’s dozen of unfinished objects ~ Hm.  Ten still undone.  Oops.  Too many shiny distractions and not enough brain space to wrestle with some of these.

Knit like crazy for the darlingest knitwear model ~ Still the cutest model, but woeful progress here, too.   One done, one missing a collar.  Still.  Idjit.

The secret test-knit

Knit one sweater for myself ~ I did knit one sweater, albeit for a soon-to-be-published book.  In 36 days.  On size 2 needles, with intarsia and fair-isle.  I think that qualifies.

Attend an extra day of the Knitter’s Review Retreat ~ Done.  Best decision ever.

Ready my own design for publication ~ Oh, that.  I forgot all about it.


Deep breath which can also be read as a sigh.

Peachy - the pattern and the model

Time to look at the year’s knitting from a different angle:

  • Projects completed:  21 plus 3 test-knits
  • Yarn used:  3.2 miles plus 1.2 miles = 4.3 miles of yarn
  • 8 shawls, 7 cowls, 2 hats, 3 fingerless mitts, 2 scarves, 1 adult and 1 child’s sweater, 1 pair of socks  No, the math doesn’t work, but I’m not going back to figure it out.
  • Number of “one-skein” projects completed:  16
  • WIP/UFOs today:  15
  • Fibers first used in 2010:  Bluefaced Leicester (BFL), California Variegated Mutant (CVM), Cormo, Targhee
  • Favorite yarns used in 2010:  Briar Rose Fibers Glory Days, Spirit Trail Fiberworks Sunna and Lyra, Sundara Sock, Foxfire Fiber Cormo/Silk/Alpaca, Quince and Co. Chickadee, AslanTrends Invernal
  • Designers I knitted from most:  Ysolda Teague, Gudrun Johnston

SHELTER - Button Jar for Woodruff mittens

On tap for 2011 (besides attacking those UFOs that are still UFOs – I mean, really):

E-nough with the navel-gazing already!

The past week has brought seismic shifts in several critical parts of my life, and these shifts are mostly good extraordinary.  They mean I am no longer carrying a Steinway in terms of the responsibilities and pressures of everyday life.  Will it mean more knitting time?  I sure hope so.

Baby, it’s cowl’d outside

December 8, 2010

I went nearly six days without knitting.


Certainly not by choice.

I am trying to get some life-mojo back, and to recover the illusion that I am in any way organized.  Working 70 hours in a week does not help this effort.

So it’s time to clear the decks with a couple of recent projects.  They have something in common, other than the obvious … both are examples of ways to incorporate shaping into accessories to achieve a better fit.

We’re talking about cowls.

Knitspot - Spiraluscious

I will be the first to tell you that there is nothing remotely swan-like about my neck.  Stubby as it is, it does get cold.  Cowls are the single best way to feel toasty warm without putting on the bulk.

You may remember this project from the first post about project marriage, Spiraluscious by Knitspot.

The yarn is Sundara Sock in my favorite colorway, Hot Chilies.

This cowl differs in construction from many others, in that it is knitted from the top down.  I used that for some shaping flexibility.

In flat view, shaping is apparent

Mods: I started at the top on US 4, at the appropriate gauge.  I wanted this not to crush down on itself into a smoosh on my squat neck.  After 2 repeats of the spiral pattern, I bumped up to a US 5.  I added no pattern repeats, but when it came time to knit on the edging, I went up again to a US 6.

Edging detail

The pattern instructs the knitter to not pin it out while blocking.  I went a different route — as evidenced in the first photo, using a vase to give it a little structure, which allowed me to open up the edging a little bit.  Ultimately, this means no breezeway where the cowl ends, which would defeat the purpose of the cowl entirely.

It being a gifting time of year, I also did a test-drive of AslanTrends Guanaco in colorway Blue Jeans on the Ridged Lace Cowl for a dear co-worker who likes to walk at lunchtime.

Ridged lace cowl

Again, I incorporated some shaping, though it’s a little hard to see in this shot. This one is knitted in the more traditional bottom-up construction.

Mods: Cast-on using US 9, through first repeat of pattern.  Changed to US 8 to purl ridge of 3rd repeat; changed to US 7 for 1.5 repeats and top edge.  I had less yarn than the pattern called for, so I knitted a total of 4.5 pattern repeats before the top edge.

I found this bulky merino-alpaca blend to be a little bit hairy ~ more than I would have liked.  It did soften up with a soak, and I know that subsequent wearing will make the finished piece softer.   (I knitted at slightly tighter gauge than I would have on a different project, knowing that the alpaca would relax with a bath.)


October 10, 2010

In my hectic breadwinner/mommy world, I’ve come to find great satisfaction in small projects.  They are manageable, produce near-instant gratification, and allow me an illusion of control in my utterly not-so universe.  They also let me “taste” yarns without major investment.  While I’m the first one to point out on these pages the idiot mistakes and experiments I make (and learn from) along the way, I’m pretty confident in my skills.  Even so, I’m honored when a professional asks me to knit for them.

Somehow, in the space of three weeks, I’ve managed to produce two samples for Spirit Trail Fiberworks.  Wanna see them for yourself?  Visit Building A-4 at the New York Sheep and Wool Festival, aka Rhinebeck.

Hawthorne from Twist Collective, Fall 2010 – 186 g of Lyra in Appalachia

Hawthorne in Lyra

Major modification: Lace section knitted on US 7 Addi Lace, garter short-rows on US 9 Addi Turbos.  Although I did swatch this, I found great disparity between the density of the lace section on the size needle that the pattern advised.

Lace section on US 7

The lace section was just too airy, even without blocking.  In a perfect world (one without so many WIPs occupying my too-many needles) , I would have used an Addi Turbo or even Inox for the lace section, but I didn’t have any available.  I am finding that the Lace version’s finish results in a somewhat tighter gauge than the slicker Turbo finish.  In any case, I wanted this yarn to open up to its glorious smooshy self in the garter portion, so I knitted the last row of the lace chart onto the US 9 and proceeded from there.

As a result, I wound up using one skein of Lyra instead of two.  If you’re a thrifty knitter, this is a good thing, but I advise strong caution, because if your gauge is different, it could turn out the other way.

Lyra - in Appalachia

My recommendation: get two skeins to be safe  and you’ll have ample left over for another project to use for this delicious yarn.  From a “project marriage” perspective, this is a match made in heaven.

Blocking note: In trying to match the schematic,  think I blocked this a little bit too aggressively.  It has beautiful drape, but if I were doing it again, I would concentrate on pinning the points.  It is, after all, a wrap – not a fitted garment.  We learn.

Wast Side Shawl by ShetlandTrader / Gudrun Johnston in Ixchel, 125 g (one skein), Blueberry Fields

Design detail - Wast Side Shawl

I committed no modifications to this pattern.  Knitted on Inox US 2.5 needles.  I love it when a designer puts a neat little feature into a pattern.  Through my own idiocy, I wound up knitting the border 1 1/2 times ~ by the time I was done, I was really done.

Ixchel in Blueberry Fields

My fault, not Gudrun’s.  Because of the unique pick-up that allows you to then have live stitches to build the rest of the shawl, you get this very pretty row of twisted stitches (running across the middle of the detail photo).  I love its delicacy and how it plays to the color.  The 100% alpaca will keep a neck nice and toasty, too.  Although Jen calls this yarn a DK/sport, for lace purposes, it really knitted up as a fingering weight.

For sake of a full-view photo ...

The last photo I post only for the sake of having a view of the full piece.  It was during the Owl-hours of the night and neither lighting nor color correction were my friend.

Unblocked dimensions: 36 in wide x 16 in deep

Blocked dimensions: 48 in x 19 in

If you can believe it, there are two more shawls waiting for blocking … but that will have to wait a few days.  For now, I’m calling this a wrap.

When it works

June 23, 2010

Salvia and phlox paniculata "David"

The garden is running two weeks early this season, and in desperate need of upkeep.  Sadly,  there’s been precious little knitting in my world of late.  And the runway is full of a seemingly endless backlog of fully knitted objects that just need a little finishing or blocking or photography.  Problem is, that finishing or blocking or photography takes thought, brain-space or planning.  Sigh. Lest thinking about it make me start getting annoyed with, let’s turn our attention to Serious Project Happiness …


May I present Ishbel by Ysolda Teague?  Completed and blocked in time to wear to a recent evening event, I am absolutely thrilled with it.  When I talk about a successful marriage of pattern and yarn, this is what I mean.  Loved the yarn ~ Sundara

Ishbel up close

Sock in Black over Violet.  Loved the pattern ~ perfect charting for brain-addled Owl.  In spite of the fact that I had gauge and still ran out of yarn before its actual finish, I’m delighted with it.

Bliss to knit.  Bliss to wear.

I can’t ask for more than that.


May 28, 2010

I did have it all planned out last weekend … I would dutifully cast my votes as a delegate at a state party political convention with the bonus — or perhaps draw — of eight hours or more of knitting time.


Alas, the writers of my cosmic sitcom saw fit to have Saturday’s babysitter completely bag me at 5:30 the night before.  With no other suitable options, Darling Bebe attended her first political convention at age 2.  Might as well start her early 😉  She was in her “charming doll” element (rather than being vecro’d around my neck) and all went well until our naptime departure.

That said, NutmegOwl was most miffed about the Knitting Time Lost.  If I were a better blogger or had had less to pack and carry around, I’d show you a few other knitters nearby, of whom I was most intensely jealous.


Some mommy reward was definitely in order.  Though I in no way need another WIP, it was time — in my usual far-behind-the-crowd fashion — to put an Ishbel on the needles.  Oh what fun!  Instant lace gratification!

Sundara "Black over Violet"

Yarn: Sundara Sock in “Black over Violet”   Needles: Addi lace, US 7  Size: small stockinette, large lace  Speed: Mach 2

Progress: Instantaneous!

Now, shhhhh: Don’t jinx me!  The Massachusetts Sheep and Woolcraft Fair starts tomorrow.  If the stars line up juuuuuuuuust right, I might be able to sneak away with KnittingKittens.  Light the St. Jude candle and let’s hope the cosmic sitcom writers cut me a break!

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