Wednesday, 29 February 2012

heroine chic

I have started a board over at Pinterest of different yarn and colour options for knitting the Heroine jacket (at right, photo from Twist Collective site) by Jennifer Lippman-Bruno. I love Cirilia Rose's version in a steel blue that is no longer available so have been contemplating celadon and sea foam, tranquil lagoon and light aqua, lake heather and southern breeze. With some great silver buttons.

If you have any opinions about one colour or one yarn or the other, please do let me know. This jacket takes a lot of yardage and will thus be quite expensive, so I do want to get it right. Also a bit scary to be knitting something up and then taking the irreversible leap to felt it. I wonder if indeed using two strands of a plied yarn (as the pattern calls for, Cascade 220 Wool to be precise) or using a single strand of unplied bulky would make a huge difference to the finished product.

This is definitely a project where swatching will be required. Speaking of which, this video is funny.

Monday, 20 February 2012


Finally, a variegated yarn that looks better once knit up than in the skein!

The Vital Statistics
Pattern: Windschief by Stephen West.
Size: Large for a 25" head.
Yarn: Madelinetosh Tosh Merino in Graphite; half a skein.
Needles: 4.00 and 4.5mm
Start to finish: 10th to 18th of February 2012.
Stash/recycle content: Well, I've had this yarn for ages, so in the sense that I didn't purchase it specifically to make this project, yes, stash (actually, I acquired it from Stephen West's destash; how apposite).

Comments: Great knit, fun to make. Wish that I could have made the decreases a little neater on the ribbed section ...
Verdict: I definitely want to make another hat from this yarn, either this one again or my favourite children's hat for baby b.

Saturday, 18 February 2012


The Vital Statistics
Pattern: Cladonia by Kirstin Kapur of Through the Loops.
Yarn: Brooklyn Tweed Loft in colourways Truffle Hunt (grey/brown), Blanket Fort (purple) and Old World (dark blue); about 0.6 skeins of each.
Needles: 4.00mm
Start to finish: 5 December 2011 to 3 January 2012.
Stash/recycle content: Nope.

Comments: My first finished project of 2012! It's taken me a while to post about it because I feel that it is really only half done ... I'll explain. There are lots of comments about Kapur's other popular design, Andrea's Shawl, that it is too small. More on that topic when I finally block my completed Andrea's Shawl. I actually find this design to be too small. Admittedly, I used a half needle size smaller than called for ... perhaps it's actually the half-circle shape, which I so prefer to triangles but you don't get good tails to wrap around your neck and shoulders. Half-oval or crescent shapes may be better for me.

Anyway, this was a smooth knit until I got to the edging. The design calls for two colours to complete the shawl but I wanted to use three and there was a lot of to and forth (read knitting and frogging) while I worked out what to put where in the edging.Incidentally, if you do plan to work the eyelet border and lace in different colours, then it is important to work rows 5 and 6 of the set up border in the same colour as the lace.

And that loopy edging drove me loopy and blocking it was also a pain. I had to block the shawl in two shifts - almost all of my pins for the body of the shawl, and then almost all of them again for each of those picots.

Verdict: When I finish my Winnowing and know exactly how much of the Truffle Hunt I have left over, I am going to rip the edging on this (yes, ouch!) and knit more length into it, hopefully enough that the lace edging will be (at least) one repeat wider. I'll knit it in dark blue and grey/brown stripes until the Truffle Hunt runs out, then will switch to purple and dark blue stripes until I am ready to do the edging entirely in purple. When I frog the edging I will have to be careful to weigh the yarn to work out how much is required per section of lace repeat so that I, indeed, have enough to complete a wider edging.

So for the moment, this is half clad.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

will you be my sweet [potato]?

I had a small panic attack in Joann on Sunday afternoon (not uncommon for me in a big-box store like that but anyway) when I saw all of the Valentine's related craft ... stuff.

For my hometown compatriots who are not so familiar with this phenomenon, here in the US preschool and primary school children are, ah, expected to bring a valentine to give to each child in their class. Many purchase commercial cards, covered with licensed characters and many attach crappy compound chocolate to them which I then spend the next few days trying to discreetly dispose of. Valentine's day - love it.

Anyway, for miss bear and I that meant producing 21 cards. One potato + card stock already in the craft cupboard, originally purchased at the thrift store + some kids' paint = hand-made cards. Love it.

Monday, 13 February 2012

road blocks

Just as was the problem with my Faux Prussian Stole at one point, I think that what has been holding me back from my Baudelaire socks is uncertainty about where I am up to and a kinked-up circular needle that made for uncomfortable knitting. Knitting is my treat, my indulgence, my reward - I should not be uncomfortable. Admittedly, both of these dilemmas are a direct result of years of being bundled up in a project bag - it is my own fault).

I applied myself the other day and in good bright daylight took a good hard look at them. One extra row at the heel and a humble set-up row and I am ready for the leg of the second sock. I also took out that nasty needle and put the sock on some bamboo double-pointed needles.

Haven't knit another stitch yet, but I do feel better about them.

Friday, 10 February 2012

black coffee

... love's a hand-me-down brew ...

I really wax and wane between cast-on abstinence and cast-on indulgence. At the moment I'm indulging - things that I've had in mind, things that I want to try, things that I want to use up.

Despite not being a coffee drinker, that's what I am indulging in right now, Fiber Optic Yarns Foot Note in colourway Black Coffee No. 9. I bought it last year at Rhinebeck, yes, Rhinebeck. Did I forget to mention that last October I went to Rhinebeck, the Rhinebeck, in Dutchess County, New York? I stayed in Manhattan for the weekend with a wonderful friend who had recently moved there and went to Rhinebeck.

I was on a quest for the perfect warm brown/purple grey blend and this one is lovely. I've cast on there above for Veera Välimäki's 'Line Break'. It's an asymmetrical triangular shawl, knit in garter stitch with eyelet rows. I like the appearance and feel of garter stitch but am not that fond of knitting it, so I also tried a stocking stitch version from the other end of the ball.

Not entirely sure how to proceed. Probably with finishing Winnowing and Andrea's Shawl, ha ha.

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

on geometry

I finished the striped portion of my Andrea's Shawl last night. I must admit that I kind of chickened out on my chosen decreases, that is, sssk and k3tog on edges and a decrease either side of the central stitch on every third row. I only did this for 21 rows stripes, then switched to regular shawl edge decreases (ssk and k2tog) but stuck with the central decreases every third row.

And I ended up with this:

Hmm, not at all a triangular shawl. I was hoping while I was knitting that any extra volume created by changing the decreases could be taken up with blocking. Really, really hoping.

And look what happened:

Hard to believe! This is just an initial blocking to see what I could achieve with that top edge. My next dilemma is the picot edging - brown or red?

Monday, 6 February 2012

2012 manifesto

Now really, before the year gets too old.

- read at least one book each month
- craft mostly from stash (I aspire to 'only from stash' but then, I'm also realistic)
- finish things

My eyes have been way bigger than my stomach for craft supplies here in the US and really, all that stuff sitting around, just becomes a psychological burden. Thankfully, most of it was purchased at the thrift store, which is where a lot of it will find is way back. I really want now to have a project in mind, and then buy supplies if necessary, rather than endlessly purchasing potential and the feeling as though I'm drowning in it.

On a similar note, there are so many unfinished projects floating around here also weighing on my conscience. Speaking of which ...

... perhaps 2012 will be the year that I finally get (a pair of) hand-knit socks?

Friday, 3 February 2012


What is the difference between these two balls of Rowan Kidsilk Haze?

Two packets of grape flavour KoolAid. I got two balls of that painfully insipid pink in a stash swap because, well, it's Kidsilk Haze which is one of the very first cult yarns with which I became acquainted so I can't pass the stuff up. And 48 cents (plus tax) of KoolAid really helped it along. I like the way that the silk didn't take the dye as much as the mohair.

Only problem is, cult yarn or not, I don't really like the stuff. I'm going to give it back to the original owner in its new form and see if she wants to knit with it.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

back to the present

My knitting is all over the place at the moment. After desperately trying to finish things and reduce the number of works in progress, I indulgence cast on for a pile of things. This is one of them, Andrea's Shawl by Kristin Kapur of Through the Loops.

I really liked this shawl as soon as I saw it quite some time ago, the way the edging sits, the stripes, the embossed leaves but I was put off by its triangular shape. Every now and then I look at the project galleries in Ravelry for designs that I like or have queued up to knit and I saw a lovely example of this shawl knit in Elsebeth Lavold Silky Wool, of which I just happened to have six balls in stash just waiting for a project. Aha, inspiration moment!

Many have remarked that this shawl comes out very small so I am making the largest size, in a dk- instead of sport-weight yarn and on 4.5mm needles to boot. As shown above, I've started on the striping and am really happy with how it is looking.

I am going to endeavour to modify the triangular-ness of it somewhat, though, and to this end did some test knits as to how decreases affect shawl shape. I did them in some spare candy floss pink yarn and show them here not for your viewing pleasure but to share my new found knowledge with the world at large. (These are all shown with the cast on edge at the bottom of the picture.)

These are typical triangular shawl decreases - a centred double decrease and paired edge decreases (ssk and k2tog) worked every other row. Interestingly, it doesn't actually give a very flat edge across the top, that comes with blocking.

If you only work the centred double decrease every other row you get this shape above.

And this if you worked only the paired edge decreases.

This shape is produced by knitting the centred double decrease on every row and the paired edge decreases every other row. As you can see, it produces an even pointier triangle (and I could not work out how to do a cdd on the purl side).

And when you work the centred double decrease every other row and the paired edge decreases on every row, which is something more of the shape that I would like to achieve, a shallower triangle.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

2011 reflections

So, I was a bit disappointed the other day when I tallied up what I had produced in 2011 - it wasn't as much as in 2010. But then it's not a competition and I certainly worked on a whole lot more than I actually got finished.

And there were some real highlights:

Creating beautiful things from recycled materials which absolutely express my design and craft aesthetic.

Completing something which, at a few points, I truly feared that I would not be able to.

And doing some knitting that I never thought I would tolerate (namely stranded colourwork), as well as working with my own sense of colour, trusting that and being really pleased with the results. That was a big leap of faith in myself and such a reward.

And finally doing some screen printing again.

So, a very good year.