Archive for December 2009

Where the skies are blue

December 29, 2009

Pattern: Humanity by Denise Lotter (Ravelry link)
Yarn: Berroco Blackstone Tweed (65% wool, 25% superkid mohair, 10% angora), colorway Wintry Mix
Needles: U.S. 6 Harmony wood Options 24″ circular needles (one-at-a-time Magic Loop)

When you knit something you really love — something in a truly extraordinary yarn, something that conveys elegance and sophistication — the tough part is figuring out who deserves it.

I knit these from two precious balls of Blackstone Tweed that I bought during a Dizzy Sheep Spin-Off on Labor Day weekend. I had seen some beautiful projects made from this yarn, and I wanted to try it. At first I thought I would make a male-appropriate scarf, but the yarn was not making a good-looking fabric at the kind of needle size I wanted to use for an aran weight (10’s first, then 8’s). So after seeing on Ravelry that most projects used sizes 5 to 7, I reconsidered my scarf idea (not really enough yardage for a scarf knit at that gauge).

The mitts that emerged when I began knitting the Humanity pattern were a revelation. The fabric was soft and foggy, the stitch definition obscured not by the fuzz or halo of the fiber, but by the almost mini-chenille texture of the felted-feeling yarn. The big cables don’t pop, but I really love the way they rise out of the fabric’s misty background.

Ultimately we decided that Noel’s nephew Daniel, a college student and political activist, would be the likeliest to appreciate this fine and subtle creation. And although his reaction when he first unwrapped and slipped them on was appreciative, it was half an hour later that our confidence was shown to be well placed. While we all opened presents and conveyed appreciation, Daniel wore the gloves. He came up to me after it was all over. “You know what? These are legit,” he said.

Exactly the word I was searching for. Daniel, you have proved yourself knit-worthy.

Head out on the highway

December 28, 2009

Pattern: Kary’s Chevron Scarf
Yarn: Claudia Handpaints Fingering (100% merino), colorways Maple Leaf and Walk In The Woods
Needles: U.S. 5 Zephyr acrylic Options 24″ circular needles (knit flat)

‘Tis the season for gift knit to reach their destinations, and therefore to be revealed here in public! First up is this soft, vibrant scarf with a simple waving chevron pattern. I started this scarf, as I have done so many, because there was a trip coming up. I needed a portable project; all scarves aren’t portable, but the more yardage you can get in one compact hank (meaning fingering or laceweight), the more portable they become. I needed a simple project, something I could knit in conference sessions and on plane; and it doesn’t get much simpler than this 4 row repeat with only one patterned row.

I bought this yarn from dizzysheep.com simply out of a desire to try a yarn that has been used for many beautiful knits on Ravelry and has many rave reviews. It’s just as glorious as I hoped. Soft (especially at this drapey gauge), sproingy, and colors you can get lost in. Comparable to my beloved Koigu PPPM for inspiring colors and amazing, consistent, smooth hand.

And here’s the recipient, my sister-in-law Dawn, who seemed very happy with her scarf. I thought it fit her colorful, extroverted style while remaining elegant and wearable for almost any occasion.

And it provides a nice counterpart to the scarf her husband (my brother Doug) received, which I blogged here some months ago. I’ve now wrapped the necks of everyone on my side of the family … except my father. Time to start working on that for next Christmas.

Slip to the dark side

December 26, 2009

Pattern: rpm by Aija Goto
Size: 9.5 (L)
Yarn: Noro Kureyon Sock (70% wool, 30% nylon), colorway S40
Needles: U.S. 1.5 nickel Options 40″ fixed circulars (two-at-once Magic Loop style)

I tend to start knitting a pair of socks because of one very specific circumstance: I’m about to leave on a trip. These socks were hurriedly cast on right before I left for the AAR annual meeting in Montreal. And they turned out to be perfect travel and meeting knitting. They feature a stitch pattern that, once established, is exceedingly easy to read off the knitting, meaning you don’t have to consult your printout. And the luminous color changes in the inimitable Kureyon style make the knitting endlessly fascinating and pleasurable, even while it remains very simple.

Having learned my lesson from a succession of wearable but snug socks, I caved to reality and knit the larger size. For awhile after turning the heel I thought they might be too big. But once finished, they are well-nigh perfect — slipping on and off easily, the slightest slouch on the leg accentuating the spiral stitch pattern. If I knit socks with this yarn again — and I hope to do so, I’m a Kureyon junkie — I’ll go down to 1’s or 0’s. The fabric in these socks is just slightly on the loose side. But again, because of the casual effect and subtle slouchiness, it doesn’t detract at all. And the thick unspun portions that are Kureyon trademarks might bulge out unpleasantly at too tight a gauge. As knit here, they fit right in with the bloomed stitches once it’s washed.

These pictures were taken on a darkly overcast Christmas Eve morning, in the middle of an epic rain. I love the way the colors take on an ultraviolet glow in this light. There’s nothing like Noro, and I feel like an undercover alchemist wearing it on my feet.

Like walking on stage

December 17, 2009

Pattern: Enjoyable-Rib Scarf by Anne K.
Yarn: Moda Dea Tweedle Dee (80% acrylic, 16% wool, 4% nylon), colorway Sahara
Needle: U.S. 11 Zephyr acrylic Options 24″ circulars (knit back and forth)

It all started with this yarn.

The news that Coats and Clark was discontinuing their Moda Dea brand yarn was announced on Ravelry, and somebody commented that they would really miss Tweedle Dee, which had been for years their go-to yarn for gift scarves and hats. I looked it up on Ravelry. Super-bulky shaded colorways? I filed the yarn away in my “watch for this one” mental cabinet. Super-bulky yarns have become a bit of an obsession of mine lately. I’ve been craving the giant squishiness of them, dreaming of huge stitched scarves, blankets, cowls, wraps, sweater-coats.

And then one day it happened: Tweedle Dee appeared on Herrschner’s Yarn Sale site … at 75% off. I pounced. I could barely wait to cast on after it arrived. Weeks of knitting Christmas accessories, an endless sock-yarn scarf, even all the worsted-weight stuff was getting to feel too small and confining. I wanted a Big Knit.

So I spent way to much time flipping through my Ravelry favorites, looking for the goliath scarf I had envisioned. Truthfully, it was Wenlan Chia’s Wisteria (Rav link) that I craved. But I needed a pattern that I had or could get on short notice, not one in a book I didn’t own. After several false starts in various smooshy ribbing and lacey combinations, I returned to this Red Scarf Project standby. It’s got just the combination of a deep texture and openness that I was looking for. Two days later it was done. One day later it had my very first foray into fringe hanging off the end. Six feet of dangly, lofty, drapey winter high fashion.

I rode a rollercoaster of feelings about this colorway while knitting. Dirty snow? Wet beach? Dust bowl? But eventually I decided that despite its periodic ugliness, I really, really liked it. When I wound the scarf around my neck, it felt exactly like my dream. My affection for it meant that I could give it to its intended recipient — Archer’s third grade teacher, a hip young thing — with a clear conscience. But it also meant that giving it away was harder than the spirit of Christmas would dictate.

I want to know right now what will it be

December 8, 2009

Pattern: Diagonal Lace Scarf by Helena Frank
Yarn: Malabrigo Yarn Merino Worsted (100% merino), colorway Sealing Wax
Needles: U.S. 7 Signature stiletto 10″ straights

I have a stash of accessories stacked in the guest room, each with a little Moo MiniCard attached. Most of them will be gifts. Some may go to charity. I’m not sure which is which at this point, so I’ve been hesitant to blog about them, lest the recipients see them ahead of Santa’s arrival. But at some point, the Malabrigo (and the cute pictures of your little girl) make their own demands.

There’s been a rash of plans-not-working recently. I decide what I want the yarn to be, package it up all neat and tidy, and set it on the shelf. But when I take it down, the yarn doesn’t want to cooperate.

No problem like that here. One skein, beautiful needles, back and forth. I did the first few rows several times before I figured out how to read the knitting and do the repeat automatically. But there was never any doubt that this warm embrace of yarn wanted to stretch out, enjoy some negative space, rise into texture that you don’t want to stop touching.

A scarf is as much about the skin as the cold wind on the other side. Cover your neck, your ribs, your wrists, your toes, and see if you don’t feel warm all the way through.

This is that time of the year

December 6, 2009

Pattern: Fetching by Cheryl Niamath
Yarn: Knit Picks Swish Worsted (100% superwash merino), colorways Dublin (top) and Deep Ocean
Needles: U.S. 6 Harmony wood Options 32″ circular needles (magic loop style)

‘Tis the season for teacher gifts, and I had just the yarn in my stash to take care of it. With the leftover balls from the hats I made for Jude and Kate (both one-ball knits, as it turned out), I cranked out two pairs of Fetchings, my go-to gift since 2007 (see here, and here, and here).

I can now get one mitt done in a day, making this a weekend project. Initially I thought I’d knit two-at-a-time on a single circular needle, my preferred method for any paired knit. But Swish doesn’t come in a center-pull ball (or if it does, I couldn’t find the center-pull end), so I settled for making one, then the other. If I’d thought of it, I would have knit both left mitts (one blue, one green) at once, then repeated for the right mitts.

I still haven’t knit this for myself, even though there’s a ball of Swish Worsted in Red Pepper that’s been waiting ever since I knit and loved and gave away my first pair. As fast, easy, and gratifying as it is to make them, I’m betting that I’ll see more go out the door before I get to stuff my own cherry version in my pocket.