I’m a fool to think something so impossible

Posted June 21, 2014 by donnadb
Categories: Knitting, Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , , , ,

IMG_1523

Pattern: Princess Franklin Plaid Collar by Franklin Habit
Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light (50% wool, 50% alpaca), colorways Redwoods Mix, Blueberry Mix, and Pea Soup Mix; Aslan Trends Santa Fe (85% merino, 15% nylon), colorway Crudo; Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Sport (100% wool), colorway Caution
Needles: U.S. 2 nickel Options 24″ fixed circulars, magic-loop style

 

IMG_1494

Pattern: The Age Of Brass And Steam Kerchief by Orange Flower Yarn
Yarn: Knit Picks Diadem DK Special Reserve, (50% alpaca, 50% silk), colorway Copper
Needles: U.S. 8 Harmony wood Options 36″ circular (knit flat)

IMG_1542

Pattern: Julia’s Cabled Headband by Pauline Chin
Yarn: Mirasol Yarn Miski (100% llama), colorway Gold
Needle: U.S. 7 Harmony wood Options 16″ circulars (knit flat)

Ravellenics 2014 was a bittersweet experience. Political chaos and controversy tore the group apart, and fractured the moderating team that had worked together for six happy years and three previous Olympiads. We weathered the Great USOC C&D Debacle of ’12, but we could not recover from early mistakes handling politically sensitive issues. Yes, in a knitting competition with imaginary prizes, there are politically sensitive issues.

IMG_1530

But even though it put me at odds with old friends and colleagues, I worked hard to stay engaged and to keep the event going. When the dust settled and the actual knitting began, I got busy on two major projects right away. One was a quest to use some of this lovely yarn, an alpaca-silk blend. I finished knitting this simple scarf while at a symposium on science and religion at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska.

IMG_1537

The other, and by far the most difficult challenge of the Ravellenics, was this cowl, which was knit flat in stripes and grafted together (poorly) before single strands of contrasting colors were woven perpendicular to the knitting direction, through the garter ridges, to create the plaid pattern. It was demanding, exacting, time-consuming, and utterly magical. I spent four solid days weaving, watching the Games, and dreaming about what colors I would use to make another one.

IMG_2151

In the very last days of the competition, I hurriedly cast on for my last planned project. I got this skein of llama yarn in a swap with another Raveller. The theme of this Ravellenics was stash, and this beautiful soft buttery yarn had been sitting in mine for way too long.

I’m balanced in so many ways between what I spent a long time building, and what I want to come next. Sometimes you’ve got to clear out what you’ve accumulated. But I’ve never been able to just throw useful things away. I want to make something beautiful with them if I can.

Clap your hands if you feel like a room without a roof

Posted March 7, 2014 by donnadb
Categories: Knitting

Tags: , , , , , ,

Untitled

Pattern: Irish Coffee (rav link) by Thea Colman
Yarn: Dream In Color Classy (100% superwash merino), colorway Nightwatch
Needles: U.S. 8 Harmony wood Options 40″ circulars (magic loop style)

Christmas is a time to say I love you, as Billy Squier reminds us every year. Knitters say I love you with little accessory projects like the ones I blogged about two months ago. And then, at least in my case, we say I love myself with big satisfying garment projects.

Untitled

Like this top-down cabled tunic vest. It’s not the biggest project; it used under 1000 yards of yarn. That’s why I chose this pattern. I had 1000 yards of yarn that was the yarn I wanted to use, and I wanted to make something in the sweater category, but that’s not enough to make most sweaters for a gal of my size. I was sweating as I approached the end of whether I’d had enough to finish even this, but I finished with maybe 100 yards to spare; not really close.

Untitled

A sweater of any kind can’t be too relaxing; you’ve usually got multiple counts going on as you do raglan increases and measure the depth of the front notch and ribbing and set up for cables and do waist shaping and all that, at the same time or in rapid succession. (My awesome Sirka counter, a Christmas gift from Noel, made it easy.) But I upped the challenge for myself even further by alternating skeins of this hand-dyed yarn. First time I’ve done that; I used the technique (and placement) for switching from this video. My switch point was right before (thus, working top-down, to the right side of) the front cable panel. I didn’t bother switching until I got to that point, since pooling (if it were to occur) would be noticeable mostly in stockinette. It turned out to be easy and effective.

Untitled

The other thing that gave me a few moments of anxiety was the fit with superwash yarn. You hear a lot from knitters about their superwash garments “growing” (because the yarn slides through stitches freely and doesn’t cling to itself, having been treated to remove the scales from the fiber) during wear, or in the wash. After I finished knitting, I took a deep breath and machine washed this on cold, then tumbled it to a damp-dry condition before blocking. Perfection. I had notice in my swatch (which I treated the same way) that washing worked like magic to smooth the fabric, rendering the stitches so even you’d swear it was done by machine. The professional look after washing was striking. Here it is just off the needles (with CG gesturing as she explains what she likes about it):

image

And here it is blocking:

image

I’ve worn it a dozen times, and it holds its shape perfectly and looks (dare I say it) smashing.

Untitled

Sometimes what you start doesn’t turn out to be what you need. More often than I deserve, I get exactly the boost I’m looking for from the knits I finish. I love the way they make me look and feel. I take pride in being able to clothe myself, to flash some style beyond the bare minimum I default to in my infrequent shopping trips. Thanks to an irresistible yarn and the perfect pattern, the time I invested here was transformed into pure joy.

I just need to catch my breath

Posted December 31, 2013 by donnadb
Categories: Crocheting, Knitting

Tags: , , , , , ,

Has everyone gotten their Christmas packages yet? Probably not; I know at least one went astray and might not be reunited with its recipients until the calendar flips over. Nevertheless, how can I let the year end without wrapping up what I made for the holidays?

IMG_1305

Pattern: Luxe Cowl by Margaux Hufnagel
Yarn: Lion Brand Martha Stewart Crafts Roving Wool (100% wool), colorways Snowdrift and Persimmon
Needles: U.S. 13 Harmony wood Options 16″ circular

I actually made two of these, the other in a winter white. This red one went to my mother-in-law Libby; the white one I hope will soon be in the hands of my niece.

IMG_1280

Pattern: Crocheted Square Washcloth by Stacey Trock
Yarn: Red Heart Eco-Cotton Blend (75% cotton, 25% acrylic), colorway Vanilla
Hook: Tulip Etimo 5.0mm (H)

IMG_1287

Pattern: Waffle Knit Dishcloth by Debbie Andriulli
Yarn: Aslan Trends Pima Clasico Cotton (100% cotton), colorway White
Needles: U.S. 6 Sunstruck straights

Libby also requested some easy-care, throw-em-in-the-wash, bleach-the-heck-out-of-em dishcloths. I dug around in the stash, found some non-colorful cotton, whipped ‘em up.

IMG_1254

Pattern: Rikke Hat by Sarah Young
Yarn: Knit Picks Gloss DK (70% merino, 30% silk), colorway Robot
Needles: U.S. 4 (band) and 7 (body) Harmony wood 16″ circular (half-magic-loop style)

My lovely model is lovely, but I wish I’d gotten a picture of this hat on Noel. I made it for nephew Daniel, and it is a terrific style on a fashion-forward man.

IMG_1248

Pattern: Astronomer by Veronica O’Neil
Yarn: Knit Picks Swish Worsted (100% merino), colorways Black and White (not sure what yarn the gray stripe is)
Needles: U.S. 8 Harmony wood Options 16″ circular (half-magic-loop style)

Boy, this turned out handsomely. I made Bowdoin College colors for nephew Sawyer, who runs cross-country there. The turned hem is a polished touch. And the yarn knit up crisp and even. A professional-looking effort, maybe my favorite of the season.

IMG_1205 IMG_1202 IMG_1204

Pattern: Mini Sweater Ornament With Cables by Emily5446
Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll Tonal (in Gypsy), Knit Picks Essential Kettle-Dyed (in Spruce), Knit Picks Felici (in Arugula), Cherry Tree Hill Sockittome (in Birches, not pictured)
Needles: U.S. 1.5 & 2 Nickel fixed Options 24″ circulars

I made a handful of mini sweaters to put in random stockings. The Birches one (made of leftovers from an as-yet-unblogged Sockhead Hat) managed to hop in a stocking before I had time to photograph it. In 2014 my leftovers are all devoted to hexipuffs, so I hope they enjoyed these last gasps of freedom.

I hope your holiday of giving was as warm as mine! See you next year!

Rising up the mountain, lighting up the valley below

Posted December 18, 2013 by donnadb
Categories: Knitting

Tags: , , , ,

IMG_1232

Pattern: The Proverbial Cap (rav link) by Meg Swansen (IK Fall 2010)
Yarn: Knit Picks Wool of the Andes Kettle Dyed (100% Peruvian highland wool), colorway Gold
Needles: US 4 (3.5mm) Harmony wood Options 16″ circular needle (magic loop)

We knitters are more in thrall to our visual sense than we would like to admit. Why do we fall in love with a pattern? Because we see it in a certain color, a certain styling, a certain environment. All that has as much to do with our enamoured state as our good judgment about whether it fits our needs or the occasion.

IMG_1233

One of the most senseless instances of this phenomenon is the influence of models. Take this hat. I wanted to knit a gift for my teaching assistant. I browsed hats. The magazine spread for this hat featured a model that reminded me of my teaching assistant. (You can see that photo at the Ravelry link I included with the pattern name, above.) Bam, I decided this was the hat I wanted to make.

IMG_1244

Besides, it looked like fun. All this beautiful texture. I didn’t quite appreciate, though I should have from the pattern’s role as a demonstration project for a pages-long explication of twisted-stitches technique, that it would be so painstaking. Twisted stitches are no problem, I thought. I’ve got those down, I thought. Well, these are twisted stitches in bewildering variety and with entirely new methods of twisting than I ever encountered before. On a good night’s knitting I got three rounds done. The hat grew so slowly. But the effect was transcendent. I persevered.

IMG_1235

Blocking was necessary, that was clear from Meg’s comprehensive article. I procrastinated until just a couple of days before the final exam period was over, my last chance to get the hat to its intended recipient. On the day I gave it to her, she brought her own first crocheted hat for me to see. It was beautiful. I hope she has room for two handmade hats in her life.

holly hat

Considering how beautifully she wears a hat, she should make herself a closet full of them. Or maybe become a hat model. Then she could inspire other knitters the way that Interweave model (can you see the resemblence?) inspired me.

Paddling out, paddling out

Posted October 21, 2013 by donnadb
Categories: Knitting

Tags: , , ,

IMG_1076

Pattern: Currant Cardigan by Margie Mitchell (Ravelry link)
Yarn: Berroco Vintage (50% acrylic, 40% wool, 10% nylon), colorway Cork
Needles: US 5, 6, 7 24″ Harmony wood Options circular needles (knit flat in pieces)

Who can say what it is about a design that draws you in? Maybe you know yourself well enough to understand them. Maybe you know that a certain sleeve, texture, or shape is just your thing. For me, pictures get stuck in my head and won’t go away. The cover image of Interweave Knits Spring 2013 was one of those pictures. From the moment I saw that sweater, I wanted to make it. Was it the cables spiraling all the way to the edges, no ribbing, no collar, no concessions? Was it the curve of the open front below the three strategically-place buttons? Or was it something particular to this sample and this model that I had little to no chance of replicating — the color, her tousled hair, the belted dress underneath, her poise?

IMG_1070

I wasn’t willing to dither endlessly over whether my selection of sweater-quantity yarns contained an entry with enough yardage to make this in my size; I found a Raveler who seemed to have made it work with less than 1500 yards and decided to trust her experience. I started as soon as my summer linen top was done. And that summer linen top seemed to take forever. I finished it just in time to wear it in August for the first days back to school, and by that time, all my thoughts were of the future. I wanted wool in my hands, something other than hard twisted string. I started August 3, just as the full heat of an unusually mild summer finally arrived. I worked slowly, slowly, slowly, but steadily.

IMG_1083

One month later, the back and one front side were done. Then, surprisingly quickly, both fronts, and I was looking worriedly at the two skeins plus 90% of a third left in my knitting bag. Enough for two full-sized sleeves and finishing? Yes, it turns out — but only because there’s only the barest hint of finishing, just two button bands, no neckline treatment at all. I snipped and sewed and attached buttons with about 100 yards to spare.

IMG_1080

Cables eat yarn. And this is all cables. All you want is for them to stand up tall and even, to snake in bas-relief across their bed of purls. Here, in this sweater, nothing stops them. It’s as if a cabled fabric was carefully cut and assembled into a sweater. Clean and uncompromising, strange qualities for a material so convoluted and ornamented.

IMG_1067

If only it were cold enough to wear this already. It’s no shrinking violet of a sweater, nothing delicate about it, despite the feminine shape. When the time comes, this will take on the chill. I haven’t been willing to wait for anything about this sweater. So thank goodness I won’t have to wait long for a day when the weather justifies showing it off.

I couldn’t get any bigger with anyone else beside of me

Posted June 13, 2013 by donnadb
Categories: Crocheting, Knitting

Tags: , , , , ,

IMG_3743.JPG

Pattern: The Ultimate Hat by Sun May (Rav link)
Yarn: Oberlyn Yarn Stella (50% alpaca, 40% merino, 10% cashmere), colorway 2055
Needles: U.S. 7 and 8 Harmony wood Options 24″ circulars (magic loop)

When I get in the mood for stashbusting, I cast on hats. When I get in the mood for using the single skeins that I buy as trip souvenirs (a collection that I think of as the Stash of Precious Yarn, or SPY), I cast on hats. When my ears get cold walking my daughter to school in the dead of winter, I cast on hats.

IMG_3736.JPG

All those impulses came together in this hat, the result of a long search for a cabled slouchy hat with a touch of luxury. I bought the yarn in Montreal during the 2009 AAR annual meeting. The picture above is me modeling it, for a change. I finished this hat in three days, so desperate was I for warmth on those early morning walks, and so happy was I to have this amazing yarn sliding through my fingers.

IMG_3746.JPG

I can turn up that long brim for a double layer of protection when the wind really gets to howling down Bruce Street. And the yarn is so soft and light that wearing this hat is like wearing a cloud. Perfection.

IMG_3740.JPG

Pattern: In Bloom Beret by Britney Waterhouse (Rav link)
Hook: U.S. J (6.0mm) Tulip Etimo
Yarn: Stitch Nation Bamboo Ewe (55% bamboo, 45% wool), colorway Sprout

I made this hat for the second annual Craftin’ for CASA sale this past February. My criteria were stashbusting, fast, and appealing to a casual browser.

IMG_0281.JPG

I don’t remember who bought it, and apparently I didn’t get a picture. It sold, though. The kids these days like ‘em super-slouchy, worn practically hanging vertically off the back of their heads. I can’t fathom how they keep them on.

IMG_3738.JPG

I’m down to just a couple of hats sitting on my charity/sale/random gift shelf. And I’m in the mood for some stashbusting and indulgent, SPY-based knitting. Time for more hats.

And the kids got coke and chocolate bars

Posted April 14, 2013 by donnadb
Categories: Knitting

Tags: , , , , , , ,

IMG_3700.JPG

Pattern: Thoreau Hat by Terri Kruse (Ravelry link)
Yarn: Quince & Co. Lark (100% wool), colorways Bark and Nasturtium
Needles: U.S. 7 Harmony wood 24″ circulars (magic-loop)

Sometimes you get on a hot streak, and sometimes you can’t wake up the cards. Early this year I suddenly hit the jackpot on three or four blog contests, all at the same time, winning yarn and books and such. One of those windfalls was this Quince & Co. yarn. I fell in love with its sturdy, honest richness. I wanted to knit it immediately.

IMG_3692.JPG

Noel needed a hat. I’ve made him a balaclava and a scarf and even a sweater for the frigid temperatures of Park City at Sundance time (he didn’t get to go this year, but I hold out hope for the future). But if he’s going to keep up his walking regimen in even the relatively tame Arkansas winter, he needs a warm hat. The proportions of colors I received in this yarn reminded me of a hat I saw in a magazine, with a pop of color around the brim. I searched and searched, until I found it. Man, do I ever love this hat.

IMG_3711.JPG

Pattern: Easy Missoni Style Long Moebius Cowl by Haley Waxburg
Yarn: Plymouth Happy Feet DK (90% merino, 10% nylon), colorway 55
Needles: U.S. 11 24″ Harmony wood Options circulars

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been trying to find my motivation to knit in different places. It’s not that I am tired of knitting; it’s that I have a number of stalled projects that are sapping my willpower. I feel like a failure for not taking care of the business I’ve already started. So I look to necessity or to pleasure for motivation. I need a warm hat for my walks to school, or a long-sleeve cardigan for layering — that’s necessity. I want to use a yarn that I really enjoy, or make a type of pattern I’ve long wanted to try — that’s pleasure.

IMG_3706.JPG

And yet, even when determined to follow these muses, I get sidetracked into my other motivations. Necessity drove me toward attractive accessories Knitwise could sell at its annual Craftin’ for CASA event. The perennial desire to use up stash yarn I’ve had for years, yarn that has been taunting me with my inability to find a pattern suited for it, led me to this DK yarn I bought from the Dizzy Sheep in the distant past. Brilliant pink is emphatically not my color, but it is most definitely the kind of color that will draw the eye when displayed for sale.

IMG_3713.JPG

The motivations you need sometimes come along as a surprise once the work begins. Held double, this yarn made a decadent squishy soft fabric. I learned the cool moebius cast-on, and could see myself knitting moebiuses (mobeii?) as go-to travel projects. Circular needles (I don’t take my beautiful and expensive Signature straights through airports, since confiscation can’t always be predicted), easily memorized pattern, plenty of mindless knitting for meetings and sessions.

IMG_3703.JPG

On the other hand, I plowed through this one pretty fast — so fast that I didn’t put down the needle size or how many skeins I used on the project’s Ravelry page. Maybe it wouldn’t last long enough for my travel needs.

IMG_0278.JPG

It didn’t last long at the sale, either. The lovely Ashley took it home, and CASA of the 20th Judicial District took home the proceeds. Stash busted, children benefited, knitter happy, necks and hearts warmed.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,267 other followers