Posts Tagged ‘sundara’


September 15, 2011

Alas, the hollyhocks of summer are long gone and the skies are decidedly autumnal today.  Even as I welcome the cooler temps, there’s something a little sad about it.  Summer 2011 went too fast.  I seem to have missed a lot of it somehow.  But a lot of big serious ugly things are behind now, and if losing a summer was what it took, so be it.

Alcea by Susanna IC

Because I dare say that this will be a reminder of summer wherever I go.  This is Alcea, another flawlessly written pattern by SusannaIC.  Alcea, as in hollyhocks.  It’s fair to say the colorway, Flower Studies #45 in Sundara Fingering Merino Cashmere, is the most

You want a close-up?

relentlessly cheerful thing I’ve seen in a while.  No blues allowed while wearing this little number 😉 I didn’t even really like the colorway, but when I went stash-diving for this pattern, it said, “Pick me!  Pick me!”

And so I did.

Okay, not THAT close

I knocked this out in the space of ten days or so.  Somehow, it took less than half a skein.  I’m still trying to figure that one out.  Because it finished at the right size.  I was blocking for wingspan, not depth.

SO – here’s the knitty gritty …

Finished size:  58″ wide by 16 deep at deepest point.

Project marriage score:  9.5

Projects waiting to be blocked:  2

Next up: a high-pressure two-day out-of-town work meeting that eviscerates my weekend.  No fun whatsoever.

I haven’t left yet and I can’t wait to get home.



July 7, 2011

While obsessively planning my travel knitting for a recent trip, I took along a skein of Sundara Fingering Merino Cashmere in the colorway Turning Leaves and Rose Beck’s Sugared Violets pattern.  Plenty of stockinette in this one-skein pattern suitable for picking up and putting down on trains, buses and the like.

Unblocked and waiting for a bath - or 3

Like a few other pretties, it’s been stuck on the runway waiting for blocking – but not for space issues.  I was waiting for a delivery of Synthrapol.  I wanted to knit the larger version of the shawl, and since most Sundara skeins tend to run “heavy,” I put in a couple of lifelines in case I ran short, and kept going.  (I am happy to report, I did not run out of yarn.)  However, my snow-white crochet cotton quickly turned pink.  The yarn was bleeding all over the cotton, and in some instances, my fingers, too.  Ruh-roh.

The last thing I want to do while preparing my knits for blocking is waste 100 gallons of water removing excess dye.  So I consulted the Oracle of Fiber and Dye for advice.  A hot bath in Synthrapol was prescribed.  I duly gloved up and dunked the shawl into the hottest water I could stand.  The bath turned into cranberry-juice cocktail.  I let it sit a good while, then rinsed in the same temperature water.  And thought I’d give it a little rinse in Eucalan for sake of a lavender scent.  That turned cranberry, too.

Sigh.  Here we go again.  Groundhog Day.

Finally out of the bath and pinned out

It took three wicked hot Synthrapol baths before the water ran significantly clearer.  And the final Eucalan bath yielded something close to chamomile tea in color.  Good enough.

Because this shawl did not have “points,” I inserted lifelines

No points on this edge!

in both edges that I then used to pin out the edges as smoothly as possible.  I find the thread makes this easier than just pinning out the wet fiber by itself.

It dried beautifully.  I suppose it lost about 10% of its color saturation

One more newel

along the way.  Better to lose it in a wash tub than on my clothing and skin!  So in this case, the lifelines had nothing to do with the knitting and everything to do with the Excess Dye Warning System.

Project marriage score:  9

Mods: None

Yes, I have been on a bit of a newel photography kick lately.  My satellite office has plenty of staircases and I’ve walked up and down them for years without noticing that they would be a helpful place for FO photos.

See, my employer has decided

that it is preferable for me to lose precious time with DB /spend hours in the car daily /spend my own $$ on gas than for them to pay minimal rent for my space.  I will soon lose access to them, so I am taking advantage of my surroundings while I can.   Until I have new digs.  That go along with a new employer.

Apologies if photos seem out-of-sequence.  They are. WordPress is not playing nice today.


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.

All thumbs

December 21, 2010

My week in a nutshell.  Thumbs.  Messing things up.  Forgetting things.  Not knitting.

Except, of course for thumbs.

Thumbs on fingerless mitts for gifts for Darling Bebe’s teachers.

First, Eve Mitts by Gina House.  The originals were made using just one skein of Elsebeth Lavold Angora.  I was test-driving a skein of AslanTrends Invernal with almost 50%

Eve mitts in AslanTrends Guanaco

more yarn, so I did make significant modifications along the way for a more comfortable finished pair.  I used a US 7 needle for a fairly dense gauge, as I knew the yarn would relax a lot with blocking.  (It did.)

Because my yarn

Ribbed palm side

was less elastic than a 100% wool, I changed the stockinette palm to a ribbed one, merely continuing the ribbing from the bottom edge all the way up.  I’m not crazy about stockinette palms in a mitt.  Full mittens are different, but even so, as one who wears hand coverings from October until April, I like a little texture there.

I added a full repeat of the right and left cable crosses to the hand before breaking the afterthought thumb stitches.  In addition, I inserted one extra cross at the top of the hand to cover the knuckles.  I like mine covered – most of us do.  If these had been for me, I would have made them even a little bit longer at the top, but the recipient has shorter fingers, so I quit there.  And I like to use the Elizabeth Zimmerman sewn bind-off for mitts for elasticity.  In addition, I continued the ribbing around the thumbs for sake of a good fit and visual interest.

Humanity in Sundara Worsted Merino

Next up: Humanity by dlotter.  Inspired by Jared Flood’s Habitat hat – Mr. Owl’s favorite hat, these worked up quite nicely and quickly.

Yarn: Sundara Worsted Merino in Mint Julep

Needles: US 7

Modifications: I continued the pattern all around the thumb, which was a nice effect.

Not a successful project marriage

I thoroughly enjoyed this yarn.  It was plump and springy and only became nicer after a bath.  However, if we are talking project marriage, this was not a match made in heaven as far as the colorway was concerned.  The variegation took away from the pattern.  Too bad, but no big deal when all’s said and done.

In any case, both sets have been finished, blocked and gifted.  Check!

I am happy to report that my mom has granted me absolution where my nephew’s stocking is concerned.  No way that was going to happen.  Unh unh.

Still too much to do …

Nothing special about that, I’m afraid.

On Dasher, on Dancer, on Prancer …

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.)

Rinse, repeat

November 10, 2010

… and repeat … and repeat … and repeat … and repeat.

You get the idea.

I realized the other night that I needed to get my Spring is in the Air shawl blocked if I was to take it with me to the Knitter’s Review Retreat.  No biggie – the blocking bed was clear, so it was just a matter of a Eucalan soak and pinning out.

The Yarn Goddess laughed out loud.  So did the writers of my cosmic sitcom.

See, I chose this Sundara Sock in Caribbean for its intense blue-green.  After a two-hour soak in what started as very warm water, the bath in the blocking bowl was a lovely shade of aquamarine.  Okay, we’ll need to rinse this a bit.

… Only problem was, every bowl of rinse water was a shade of swimming pool, starting with YMCA blue.  With each rinse, I thought about a pool I’d been in at some point in my life.

I gave that up around the 20th rinse.  And I stopped counting rinses.

I abandoned the rinse bowl and went straight to running water through it from the spigot, except for periodic checks in my snow-white bowl.  Checks that revealed more swimming-pool blue.

How ’bout another Eucalan bath?

Look: the same YMCA pool blue I started with.  Again. Every time I used woolwash, I went back to the beginning with intensely blue water.

This went on for an hour.

Because what would be the point of wearing a bright blue-green shawl over a white shirt that would presumably pick up transferred dye?

It was, of course, the owl hours when I gave up and tiptoed up two flights to pin it out. 

(Yes, I know there was some kind of an alternative involving vinegar, but my own dyeing experiments have shown that if the vinegar doesn’t strike right, your dye job is a mess.  And I could not contemplate going back online at that hour with my now-pruny fingers.  Feel free to enlighten me for future events …)

The Yarn Goddess or my dear St. Jude took pity then, because this was the. easiest. pinning. job. ever.

Spring is in the Air (and on pins)

My working theory is that the double decreases that make up the majority of the pattern were a great place for dye to hide, and it took a l-o-n-g time for the woolwash and water to penetrate.  Makes as much sense as anything else.

Pattern: Spring is in the Air by Kristi Holaas, large size, not beaded.

Needles: US 5 Addi Lace

Modifications: Alternated skeins along the garter-stitch border.  Worked the minimum bottom edge repeat for less pronounced points.  Dagger tips are more fussy-looking than I like.

Crescent shape achieved through lifeline

Blocking: To achieve a true crescent shape, I ran a strand of crochet cotton lifeline through the border prior to soaking.  I first pinned the corners; then located the center point on the bottom edge and pinned that.  Pinning then radiated from the bottom center with minimal readjustment and no additional pinning of neck edge.

Places for excess dye to hide

Finished size: Used 153 grams, blocked to 20.5 inches deep at deepest part of curve.

Observation: My wrists definitely did not like the very repetitive mesh pattern.  This is good to remember for future pattern selection.

You’ll get prettier pix another time.  Perhaps someone will volunteer to help me this weekend.


August 17, 2010

To say that my FO was “test-knitting” hardly begins to describe it.

When I set some knitting goals for myself in 2010, knitting a sweater for myself (after brain-drain sent me into permanent accessory-making mode) was on the list.

However: Knitting a sweater involving a 67-row chart of stranded colorwork spelling out words and symbols, and multi-bobbin intarsia — all on US 2 needles was – ahem – not exactly what I had in mind.  Oh, and doing it on a deadline of, “We really needed it yesterday.”  (Which was put very nicely, but an implicit deadline nonetheless.  I am Pavlov’s drooling dog when it comes to deadlines.)

The Yarn Goddess laughs mockingly.

It is 36 days later: I have now been tested as much as the pattern for the FO, which will be appearing in a soon-to-be-published book.  It is serendipitous that my cult-leader friend Clara has a sidebar that is supposed to run alongside it.

I wish I could show it to you here, but perhaps it’s better to let you paint your own mental picture.

I did it.

My instant-gratification reward is now on the needles:

Spring is in the Air by Kristi Holaas

This is Spring is in the Air by Kristi Holaas.  I’m making the full-sized shawl sans beads using the Sundara Sock in Caribbean that (along with too many other lovely yarns) made its way to my house while I was so monogamously test-knitting.  This is the perfectly mindless lace knitting my long piano-playing fingers have been craving for weeks.  I wish your monitor and my camera could capture the real depth and intensity of the color.  Or just how good it feels to knit.

Keeping in mind the rule of Owl yarn purchasing ~ the less knitting time I have, the more yarn I covet ~ it is a darn good thing the test is finished.

I don’t know if my bank account could stand to be tested much more.


August 6, 2010

Things that make me happy … beautiful things created by other hands.

This is truly a work of art from Karatstix.

Crafter's Rule by karatstix

There’s not much it doesn’t have.  Precisely tooled holes to measure needles, convenient 2- and 4-inch measures for gauge purposes, centimeters AND inches, and even a lobster-claw clasp at the corner.

It made me gasp

Other goodies

when I unpacked it.

And there was more in the package – this zipper pull and even a special owl stitch marker, presumably from one of the scraps.  (Mind you, you know how small a stitch marker is, so you can guess how I had to macro this just to photograph.)

But wait … there’s more.

A different kind of artistry, of course.

Sundara Sock - Caribbean

Pure saturation.

Sadly, my camera and your monitor together cannot hope to capture the depth of this turquoise-teal-ocean’s-depths color. Yeah, it’s more Sundara Sock.  I know, I know … don’t say a thing ~ I’m not done yet.

Sundara Sock - Ember Over Flame

I have no business with this, either.  It’s Ember Over Flame, in case you’re wondering.  It is gorgeous.

Perhaps it will help me speed-knit the rest of this test-knit.

Here’s hoping …


July 20, 2010

In the wake of my last (hopefully) thought-provoking, but not really cheery post, time to take a happier track.  Make that, joyous.

Generally speaking, knitters are some of the nicest people in the world.  In my experience, we operate on a “pay it forward” sort of system, reaching out to assist one another or treat one another at any random turn.  Early deposits in the karma bank, so to speak.

Even so, I have had two recent occasions to be flat-out bowled over and virtually speechless at the generosity of my fellow knitters.

As mentioned last week, Minh-of-the-legendary-stash somehow pulled my name to win her blog contest.  This is what showed up chez Owl:

Christmas in July

Two skeins of Green Mountain Spinnery New Mexico Organic.  The label of  this DK-weight wool says it is soft enough for baby or next-to-skin wear.  They are not kidding.  This is quite likely the softest wool I have ever touched.  And Minh well knows my fondness for GMS yarn (since I’ve relieved her stash of some before).  Speaking of that – and of generosity, this is also the place to mention that the last time I bought yarn from Minh for a Knitter’s Review contribution, I purchased five skeins and she sent six.  But I digress …

In the center, that is indeed Wollmeise.  The stuff that has knitters and yarn collectors in quite a tizzy.  And it’s in my favorite colors. 

(I. Am. Dumbfounded.)

And, finally, SweetGeorgiaYarns Silk Lamb Lace in Honey Fig.  A double skein, no less.

“Thank you!” seems oddly inadequate.

So, too, with my swap partner TulipLynn in the Sundara Yarn Love Spring Swap on ravelry.  This is the part where I am rather embarrassed at my own performance.  I had never participated in a swap like this before, and I really didn’t know whether (or how far) people went over-the-top.  So my well-intentioned but straight-along-the lines package seems terribly miserly by comparison to this:

TulipLynn's Sundara Swap

A pretty brown Julip bag, a tin of clever knitting notions from SlippedStitchStudios, the most cunning little mini crochet hook, and a skein of Sundara Sock in Hyacinth.

In retrospect, I think I have it figured out now: it’s like The Law of Sock Yarn.  Sock yarn doesn’t count in stash.  Or at least that’s what I’ve always been told.  That must also be the case with various little gifties one squirrels away for another knitter’s rainy day.  Thus, it doesn’t “count” per se.

Now I know better.

I’m still rather speechless, though.


July 2, 2010

I have developed a theorem related to my yarn purchasing.  The amount of yarn I purchase is inversely proportional to the amount of knitting time I have. To wit: when I’m knitting a lot, I’m not buying yarn.  I’m happily cranking away at my too-many WIPs in odd, and not-so-odd available moments.  When there is no knitting time, some kind of wire short-circuits and my bank account shudders.

Sundara Sock - Shadow Studies #6

So we have … a sweater quantity of Sundara Sock in Shadow Studies #6, an utterly rich deep burgundy semi-solid.  This yarn just slays me.  Period. (For non-Sundaraphiles, she has recently stopped using poetic and colorific descriptions of yarn, and shifted to a series of “studies” and numbers to denote the different shades.  I can’t decide if this is a good thing.)

Sundara FMC - Earth Studes #20

Oh, you thought I was done?  Perish the thought.  Or as Darling Bebe would chide, “No, no, Mommy.”  The usually sold-out Fingering Merino Cashmere became available at a time when I was actually online to find out about it.  So we have Earth Studies #20.  It’s a soft green without a lot of variation.  Lesson:  Stay offline.

Since it’s just us ducks here, we won’t so much as whisper about the new Spirit Trail Fiberworks Holiday Knitting Club, which now has been paid upfront but won’t be delivered until August, September and October. Or the “extra” batch of the incredible Sunna that had to be added to the order.  Luann will have to shoulder some of the responsibility for that.

Which is a long and winding way to say confess that I’ve had barely a minute’s knitting peace ~ except for hours when only owls and infants are awake.  See, we used to throw a big backyard party for the 4th of July.  It went on hiatus with the arrival of Darling Bebe.  Circumstances this year required us to host a big gathering sooner rather than later, so we have merged that with the old party list.

In other words: we will have somewhere between 100 and 300 people in my yard on Sunday.  The good news: a caterer and a babysitter.  The bad news: we will have somewhere between 100 and 300 people in my yard on Sunday.

So no, there has been no knitting time.  And there won’t be for many hours.  But it better happen soon for the sake of my disposable income and yarn storage.

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