Archive for March 2010

Two drifters on the morning sky

March 29, 2010

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Pattern: Morse Code Cloth by Renee M
Yarn: Ella Rae Baby Cotton (88% cotton, 12% nylon), colorways Ink and Ecru
Needles: U.S. 6 Signature straights

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Pattern: Naked by Kelly Brooker
Yarn: Ella Rae Baby Cotton (88% cotton, 12% nylon), colorway Ecru
Needles: U.S. 6 Signature straights

The obsession continues.

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After the joy of the Clover Tweed Cloth, I wanted another classic black and white cloth to add to the set. I chose this dots-and-dashes number — the natural color is carried in front of and behind the black stockingette to create the design.

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And then I was left with much more of the 100-meter ecru ball than the black, so I opted for a open, lacey single-color cloth to complete the set. The faggotted stitch is beautiful, easy, squishy and drapey, making for a truly luxurious scrubber.

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Each of these cloths took me just a couple of hours to complete. With such enjoyable stitches, silky yarn, and beautiful results, they’re like gifts to myself long before they find a final recipient.

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The spotlight is on

March 27, 2010

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Pattern: Clover Tweed Dishcloth by noelle
Yarn: Ella Rae Baby Cotton (88% cotton, 12% nylon), colorways Ink and Ecru
Needles: U.S. 6 Signature straights

Does a humble dishcloth deserve its own blog post? Depends on how much you love it.

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I picked up all of this yarn I could find at an outlet store, immediately went home and cast on. Dishcloths and washcloths are great to have on hand for last-minute hostess and thank-you gifts. The black and natural colors seemed like they might make an unusually elegant specimen. How could I have known how soft this yarn is, how beautifully it drapes at the gauge specified on the ball band? How could I have known how addictive and arresting this stitch pattern would be in smooshy, irresistible garter stitch?

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In one night, it was finished. My daughter looked at it today and identified the garter ridges — a knitting spotter in the making. I cast on for another black-and-white cloth to make a set, and to continue knitting with this glorious yarn on these glorious needles. Watch out — I may knit with little else until the 13 balls I bought are all gone.

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It’s just a washcloth, just cotton, just destined for soap and water and scrubbing and tossing in the washer. But its style and touchability inspire me. Imagine a scarf in this pattern, gray on black for a man, bright contrasting colors for a woman. Imagine a whole array of knitted fabrics in the color palette for the home. Sometimes a dishcloth is enough to make you fall in love.

Every now and then we hear our song

March 23, 2010

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Pattern: Totally Autumn by Anne Hanson
Yarn: Rowan RYC Soft Lux (64% merino, 10% angora, 24% nylon, 2% metallic), colorway Gigli
Needles: U.S. 10.5 Zephyr acrylic Options 60″ circular (knit flat)

Dear Melissa:

Soon you’ll be cozying up with your fiance under this blanket. It’s appropriate, because the making of this blanket has been all about family.

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During the whole period of its creation, I’ve been initiating my five-year-old daughter into the knitting sorority. Between the start of this blanket and its finish, she has completed two projects and has another WIP on the needles. At the end of each project, she calls a “knitters only meeting” to discuss what we’ll do next.

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And when I complete a project, she insists on helping me out during blocking by handing me T-pins and blocking wires. Just today she collected the pins as I took this blanket off the wires. In the above photo you can see the wink of the gold metallic strand that wraps around this light, soft, lofty yarn. “Glittery!” Cady Gray exclaims when I ask her opinion of how the knitting has gone.

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Wet, stretched, and left to dry, the mass of fabric is transformed, unfolding like a flower to its full beauty. I think of how my daughter grows — how I can almost watch her doing it as we sit at a coffee shop like we did today, sipping our tea and smoothie, knitting together, and feeling the warm spring sunlight on our faces. As we craft together, she tries on a new, confident persona. She practices being a friend, chatting and sharing interests, spending time in the company of women.

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One of our favorite books is The Important Book by Margaret Wise Brown. Today I asked Cady Gray what is the important thing about knitting. “The important thing about knitting,” she mused, “is that you can always give it.” A beautiful sentiment that I send along with this blanket to you in your new married life. And lest you think that all this ruminating on family, on mothers and daughters, on the exclusive company of knitters, means that this is about drawing lines, consider another craft Cady Gray enjoys doing with me. “Beading open to all,” she proclaimed this morning, contrasting quite deliberately with the knitters-only meetings. Everyone welcome.

We’re the party people night and day

March 22, 2010

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Pattern: Lace Ribbon Scarf by Veronik Avery
Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca Light (50% alpaca, 50% wool), colorway Oceanic Mix
Needles: U.S. 5 Zephyr acrylic Options 24″ circular (knit flat) and Signature straights

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This pattern has been called the new Clapotis. It’s fashionable, wearable, admits of endless variation based on yarn choice, and has more than 4500 projects on Ravelry. I’ve known I wanted to knit it since it appeared in Knitty two years ago.

But what yarn? I needed enough for a long scarf, since this is a style you want to wrap and let hang. So many possibilities … a fingering weight … a drapey smooth fiber … a larger gauge … the scarf could become so many things based on that one decision. I couldn’t settle.

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And then, as so often happens, a trip loomed. I needed a project I could knit on the plane, while talking with relatives, anytime, anywhere — and one that I would be in no danger of finishing in a week no matter how much time I devoted to it. I needed this scarf. And under the pressure of necessity, I found the yarn I could devote to it — three skeins of alpaca-wool blend in a beguiling blue-green twist (you can just make out the green flickering through in the above photo) that I had bought on sale in my first year as a knitter. Ravelry projects in similar yarns convinced me that 430 yards would make a scarf of generous length.

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It only took two or three runs through the simple chart for me to memorize the pattern. I could set it down and pick it up at any time with no trouble knowing what come next. I knit it in class, I knit it with students, I knit it on warm days out by the fountain, and by the end, I was so enamored of its simplicity, lacey gorgeousness, and mesmerizing color that I knit it any time I could. I never wanted it to end.

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The scarf is stunning. But this is one of those cases where nothing can compare to the pleasure I received from making it, stitch by stitch, eyelet by eyelet, zig by zag. If I find another yarn I’m similarly passionate about, I’ll have another one on the needles before the season is out.

Ain’t that Mister Mister on the radio

March 16, 2010

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Pattern: Happy Herbie by Lucinda Guy
Yarn: Yarn Bee Snowflake Wool Blend (56% wool, 22% nylon, 22% PTT), colorway Pale Aqua
Needles: U.S. 8 bamboo straits

Knitter: Cady Gray

Woof! I’m a dog! Good to meetcha! Woof!

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Cady Gray made me. I’m made of all purl stitches. Hundreds of them! Isn’t Cady Gray good at purling? Her mom seamed me up and sewed on my ears, nose, eyes, feet, tail and tongue. Cady Gray picked out the colors and the buttons. I’m quite handsome, if I do say so myself!

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I heard Cady Gray say that she bound off my second piece all by herself. That’s enough to make any stuffed dog stick by his knitter forever. I couldn’t ask for a more talented one! But I love Cady Gray because she loves me. Woof! We’re best friends!

Even if it takes a lifetime

March 6, 2010

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Pattern: Ayla by Jordana Paige
Needles: U.S. 10.5 Harmony wood Options 32-inch circulars
Yarn: Patons SWS Soy Wool Solids (70% wool, 30% soy), colorways Natural Indigo and Natural Raisin

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I thought this was going to be the hard one.

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During the Ravelympics 2010 mass cast-on at the opening ceremonies, this bag is the project I started. It was going to be a lot of knitting, I thought. I had a bag of yarn I had scored at Tuesday Morning months earlier. I had a Fibonacci stripe sequence (replacing the intarsia of the pattern) set up from the Random Stripe Generator. I was ready for the long haul.

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When I made relatively quick progress on the bottom and body, getting all the way up to the eyelets by the middle of the first week, I felt comfortable setting it aside to start the doll family that was my second project. It was the the day before the closing ceremonies before those dolls released their grip. There I was at a brunch in honor of visiting old friends, madly cranking away on I-cord and straps. There I was, hours before the Ravelympics deadline, sewing the whole thing together in the wonkiest way imaginable, just to get it done, and finding to my horror that the pattern called for a little skirt to be knit all the way around the bottom to hide the seam.

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And truth be told, although the felting was done before the stadium doors slammed shut (probably too done — I knew SWS felted fast, but I was too sanguine about throwing it back in for a second full go-round and it came out alarmingly small), it sat around until today waiting for me to sew on the straps. Which I did in the half-assed style in which this whole project was undertaken. Once I got it on Cady Gray’s back, I realized that I should have sewed the top of the straps tucked under, not pointing up.

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Oh, well. I claimed my medals. And Cady Gray loves her bag. Chalk this one up in the win column — not pretty, but it’s in the books nonetheless.