Archive for January 2015

Call me at the station, the lines are open

January 16, 2015

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Pattern: 198 yds. of Heaven by Christy Verity (rav link)
Yarn: Ella Rae Lace Merino Worsted (100% merino), overdyed
Needle: U.S. 7 Knit Picks Sunstruck wood 26″ circulars (worked flat)

One of my favorite things about knitting, at a certain level of competence, is that you can create things that would command luxury prices in a boutique — but in actuality can’t be bought anywhere, at any price.

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Here’s an example. This started with a poor orphan skein of yarn at Tuesday Morning that had lost its label . Sight and touch made it obvious that it was a bouncy merino, and I initially pegged it as Fibernatura Yummy, a sportweight I had bought at the store before, with a similar twist. But careful examination showed it was heavier, and a colorway not found in that yarn. My curiosity piqued, I searched stash photos on Ravelry until I determined its true name and nature.

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Then into the dye pot it went, with my favorite Easter egg colors — spring green, denim blue, and teal — dumped directly from the dye cups that had held eggs the day before. Pure alchemy. You be the judge.

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It sat in my stash, a reminder every time I caught sight of it of its priceless singularity, until the moment I decided to make my mother a lace scarf for Christmas. That moment came one week before she was set to visit. I had a deadline.

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With a day to spare — a day needed for blocking, at that, so really right at the nick of time — my version of this popular pattern came off the needles. There are 5523 other scarves like it on Ravelry. But this one is mine, the utterly unique and unrepeatable combination of serendipity, experimentation, and technique.

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Gorgeous, if I do say so myself. Anyone who appreciates beauty would crave it, even with three or four figures on the price tag. But it’s not for sale. It’s for Mom.

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I’ll show you the ropes, kid

January 12, 2015

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Pattern: Purl Ridge Scarf by Stephen West
Yarn: Debbie Macomber Blossom Street Collection Fleur de Lys (90% merino, 10% cashmere), colorway 405 (overdyed)
Needles: U.S. 8 Harmony wood Options 26″ circular needles

Some projects take the long way home. This one started with a find at Tuesday Morning — yarn of a beautiful fiber, but an ugly color.

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That’s … brown. Not really the rich, autumnal brown that sometimes draws me in. Kind of pink-undertone brown. Not even just drab — really actively off-putting. Hard to photograph, probably. Uninspiring, to say the least. I couldn’t imagine an entire garment in that color. But the single-ply yarn was beautifully soft. I knew I could turn it into something better.

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Here are the five balls I bought (all they had, of course), skeined up and overdyed with 2 red PAAS Easter egg dye tablets dissolved in a tbsp of white vinegar and 6 oz. of water, kettled in a crockpot on low for half an hour. Much better — a shade of bright brick red with the original brown shade showing through in places. Now, what to make?

I settled on this scarf, long in my queue, awaiting just this kind of semi-solid colorway to show off its depth of texture. I made the whole thing, dear reader, from one laboriously engineered hemmed edge to the other. I worked on it, off and on, for four months. And then I unraveled it, the whole thing, cutting the yarn where I had spit-spliced it (or just wherever it refused to stop sticking together, as is the nature of single-ply yarn so often. I just had to face facts. It wasn’t what I had hoped. It was kind of stiff and flat, not soft, lofty, and textured. The hems I tried didn’t work out at all. This yarn was too beautiful for such a fate. Back to the drawing board.

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Ah yes. That’s better. Simple hits of garter-ridge texture on a smooth stockinette background. Soft, flexible, inviting. All the color shows through with no fuss. Why didn’t I do this the first time? I gave it to my sister-in-law for Christmas, thrilled that it had turned out so perfectly.

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CG kept making exaggerated faces as she modeled this scarf, then bursting into laughter. I kind of love this shot — she’s in motion, blurred and ecstatic, but the scarf is in crisp focus. Finally that beautiful fiber has found its purpose.

Make the pop go rock

January 6, 2015

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Pattern: Insta-Hat by Lee Meredith
Yarn: The Twisted Purl Merino Merino Wool Tencil Thread
Needles: U.S. 10.5 Harmony wood Options 24″ circular needle, magic loop style

New year. New start.

Lee Meredith is a designer known for her quirky sense of style. She’s especially associated with the oversize zig-zag — a texture or color pattern that veers first one way, then another, over the course of a hat or cowl or glove. After Christmas, she began posting daily clues on Instagram for a hat pattern in bulky yarn. Done with holiday knitting, done with book writing, done with 2014, and committed to a “stashdown” in the new year, I was primed for something exactly like this.

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It only took five days, maybe a half-hour a day, and that includes the day I spent doing clue #3 wrong and ripping it out. Then, the pom-pom. Out came my beloved jumbo Clover pom-pom maker, truly one of humankind’s greatest achievements. Look at that big fluffy thing. The thick parts of the yarn just spread out in an irresistible texture. It’s glorious.

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I have a cube in my massive yarn-storage Expedit for single skeins — leftover balls from bigger projects, or just orphans I picked up here and there. When you buy yarn at craft fair stalls from local producers, sometimes one skein is all there is of any single thing. That’s the way it was with this thick-and-thin, thread-to-roving skein spun by Cyndi Minister. I bought it five years earlier, at my church’s Christmas market. I’m pretty sure my five-year-old daughter, whom I would teach to knit within weeks of that purchase, had something to do with the selection.

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And here’s that girl, now age ten, plopping on a just-finished hat for a holiday walk. New year. New start. But keep the precious things from before close by, and watch them transform.