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Monday, October 6, 2014

The jewels of my stash

When I acquire a really precious yarn, I'm torn between hoarding it until one perfect pattern comes along, or knitting it up right away so I can enjoy it. But I do get anxious about my stash when things linger in there too long, so after about a year of marinating I'm ready to use even my most special yarn.

This summer, I made a Luna Viridis cowl from a skein of tosh sock in the Spectrum colorway that I had hidden away when my LYS stopped carrying yarn from madelinetosh:


I actually wasn't sure how I felt about this pattern before I started it, but I think it works perfectly with the Spectrum and I'm really happy with it - it does the yarn justice. And now I can take my Spectrum out and about instead of keeping it in a plastic bin.

Another special skein was some Habu Wrapped Merino that my boyfriend bought from Purl Soho on a business trip to New York. It was a thoughtful choice and beautiful yarn, so I wanted to make something to use it all up and show it off. I made a Clapo-Ktus:


This pattern uses the stitch pattern of the Clapotis scarf but the construction of the Baktus shawl, which has you increase until you've used about half your yarn, and then decrease, so in theory you have no leftovers. My shawl turned out really airy and pretty, and I basically have none of the yarn left, so my goals were accomplished.

I also had a one-of-a-kind skein of Serenity Silk Single from Zen Yarn Garden, in purples and oranges and blues - kind of a reddish-hued rainbow. It's a little outside my usual palette but it was such a pretty skein that I got it anyway. I wanted to find a pattern that would show off the colors but tone down any potential craziness, so I picked something simple but with an interesting construction: Pogona.


I like that it's not just a plain old triangle shawl, but it's still basic enough that the focus is on the yarn. And I think the panels of stockinette and reverse stockinette break up the colors just enough to keep the variegation from being too much.



Lunar Spectrum
Red Habu shawl
Pogona

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Your own personal sweater

Earlier this year, the store where I work joined Amy Herzog's CustomFit LYS program, which means that we can set our customers up with a sweater pattern tailored exactly to their personal measurements, knitting gauge, yarn choice, and preferred style. When we announced the program, I still suffered from sweater anxiety, but I got to work right away on my own sweater. Here it is:


CustomFit offers several different choices for each of the elements of the sweater: neckline shape, sleeve length, hem length, edging style, and overall fit. The sweater I made is a close-fit, mid-hip length, scoop neck with elbow-length sleeves and 1x1 ribbing on all the edges. The yarn is Tor DK from Yarn Hollow, which I still squeeze longingly every time I pass it in the aisle.

As a novice sweater knitter, using CustomFit meant I didn't have to worry about whether my gauge was slightly off, or if there was any special tweaking I would know to do if I were more experienced, because it basically guaranteed me a sweater that would fit me. You need to be able to follow knitting instructions, not fear seaming, and know what kinds of garments you like, but those are not such huge hurdles.

CustomFit sweater #2 is still in the mental planning stages. I have a lot of conventional sweater patterns queued, and while it is possible to generate a CustomFit pattern and then add elements from another pattern, that is more adventurous than I want to be right now.

Oh, and did I mention that Amy Herzog herself stopped by our store to kick off our CustomFit program?



CustomFit sweater

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Soft Like Kittens socks

In my ongoing effort to make sure everyone in my family has at least one pair of hand-knit socks, I made these for my sister:


The pattern is By the Seine River by Dona Knits, and the yarn is Soft Like Kittens Noodle Sock in a prototype colorway. The creator of this yarn, Annette of Gentle Ribbing, has decided to take an indefinite break from hand dyeing, which makes me very sad. She has understandable reasons for her hiatus, but selfishly I was hoping Soft Like Kittens would be around forever because her colors are my favorite.

Here's another pair of socks I made with the same yarn base, in the Sashiko colorway, this time for my mom:


The pattern is Bowties are Cool by Mandie Harrington, and the stitch pattern makes tiny bowtie or butterfly shapes - nice texture for a variegated yarn, or a good way to add patterning to a solid color yarn.

And of course, I had a skein of Soft Like Kittens set aside for myself, too, in the Double Helix Sock base:


I used Becca Compton's Vinnland pattern for these. The original pattern is toe-up, which I try to avoid, so I knit them top-down instead. To keep things simple, I just followed the chart as written, so the leaves on my sock point in a different direction than on the original pattern. I'm really happy with how these socks turned out, and they feel great... I'll miss you, Soft Like Kittens...


Seine socks
Sashiko socks
Vinnland

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Dragon wings


This is the Dragon's Rest Shawl (pattern by Abigail Phelps), obligingly modeled by my coworker. The yarn is Dream in Color Smooshy with Cashmere, which feels just as good as it sounds.

I knit this shawl for a good friend who had some pretty serious surgery a few months before her birthday, so I thought she could use a special present this year. This was one of those projects where the pattern, the yarn (especially this colorway - Lucky Stone) and the recipient were clearly meant for each other, and I just had to bring them all together.

I like how this shawl is designed to be awesome dragon wings when you need them, but a pretty normal-looking, drapey shawl when you don't:



Sunday, September 28, 2014

Twin blankets

Hello, blog! Long time no see! Since early April, I've acquired a pair of nephews, bought a house, and traveled a bit, and I've been knitting and crocheting the whole time, so there's a lot to catch up on.

But to resume with where I left off at my last post: baby boys! The twin nephews arrived in early April, ahead of schedule but mostly healthy (they're both doing fine now). I knitted them each a blanket:


I used the Walt Painted Chevron Baby Blanket pattern, by Danielle of fibre space, and Universal Yarn Cotton Supreme. The yarn is nice to work with, and it machine-washes wonderfully and feels amazingly soft afterwards. I used the same colors for each blanket, but varied the stripe order: one is blue and brown, with green at the opposite end, and the other is green and brown, with blue at the opposite end.

I was slightly worried that using so much white might make them seem to precious to actually use, but the blankets have made a few appearances in the twins' monthly photo sessions, so I'm happy their parents have found at least one use for them!



Friday, April 18, 2014

Teeny tiny baby socks!

Exciting news: my boyfriend's sister had twin boys earlier this month! To welcome the boys to life with a knitting aunt, the first thing I made for them were some socks.


Cozy Little Toes is a nice, free pattern by Judy Kaethler for making socks sized for newborns. I knit them using my leftover Soft Like Kittens sock yarn in Alpine Flora, which I used to make socks for myself last year. While I wouldn't have described this colorway as "babyish," I think it works really well for baby socks, and I love how it managed to make little stripes!


The nephews were born a bit early, so as tiny as these socks seem, it will be a while before they grow into them. Meanwhile, switching back to adult-sized socks after making these was a bit of a shock...


Baby socks

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Meet Horatio

Once upon a time, during a discussion of mystery shawl knitting projects, someone's iPad auto-corrected the word "shawl" to "shark," and henceforth all mystery shawls were referred to as mystery sharks at my LYS. I have not joined in any mystery knit-alongs yet, but sharks do interest me, so I made Horatio.


The pattern I used to crochet him is Hector the Hammerhead Shark by Adriana Aguirre. It's a detailed pattern with plenty of photos - helpful in telling all of his fins apart. I did make one modification: the switch between the white and the gray parts happens at the beginning of each round, which makes the color change start to spiral around his body. To counter that, I just varied where I switched colors by a stitch or two every other round or so, so that I got a more-or-less straight line between his gray part and his white part.

Oh, and I also added a mouth, because a hammerhead shark has to have the little frowny mouth.


Horatio is my first crochet project using all new-to-me, fancier tools: an addi Swing hook, Uptown Worsted acrylic yarn, and Fiberloft polyester stuffing. It's been 6+ years since I started crocheting and I know I'm invested in this craft, so it felt like time for an upgrade. SO worth it - the new hook feels great and fits my crochet style perfectly, the Uptown Worsted acrylic is super-soft and feels almost like wool, and the Fiberloft stuffing is much fluffier and less clumpy than the kind I was using before.

Horatio spent several weeks hanging out at the yarn store and making friends, and he even got to model one of the mystery sharks shawls that a coworker made: