Saturday, February 22, 2020

Cocoa with the Frasers, finished

Ta daaaa! I blocked my Baubles shawl last night with a quick soak and stretch with my blocking wires on the floor of the studio. The only color that bled much was the brown, but I'm happy to report that it didn't catch at all on the light yellow to dull it at all. I did not block aggressively because of the brioche sections. I just did enough to get the lace panels stretched a bit. 

This was a really fun pattern to work up that started simple and increased in complexity as it moved along. The simple stripes were a nice way to work into the project followed by the fun brioche columns that switch color dominance halfway through. As I worked through that switch I started to understand better how the brioche stitch is actually structured, and learning that was pretty gratifying. I was even able to fix a dropped stitch or two along the way which is pretty impressive if you ask me!

The yarn color choices were not mine, though I wish they were. I would not have thought of this combination and they are not my usual suspects at all, but I think the vibrant turquoise and orange Jamie Fraser yarn with the lighter and (dare I say it) daintier Sassenach yellow is just gorgeous. It's an appropriate combination from a character perspective, yes, but also they manage to work well together sharing some of the silver and orange hues. The variegations especially make the striped sections look incredibly dynamic. The Hot Chocolate brown is a subdued shade somewhat like the Grand Street Ink that I used for my Waiting for Rain. I prefer the latter, but this brown is also very soft and pleasant and provides a great neutral for the variegated yarns to play on. In my mind this has been my "Baubles shawl" as I've worked on it but now that I write this paragraph, I think I'll go with the cheeky name Cocoa with the Frasers in a nod to the colors and the book/TV series I love so much. 

The whole effort of pattern matching with colors was accomplished by the lovely lady who dyed the yarns and runs Honey Girl Farms. Last February I attended Stitches West here and purchased entirely too much yarn... if that's a thing. This kit was one of the items that came home with me. Look at me! I finished the project before a year passed! Let's not talk about the other yarn... this was the first dip I allowed myself into that stash so far. And I also joined her Outlander yarn club, so there's that. Suffice to say I'm looking forward to finding creative uses for all of her lovely colors in the coming months (years). 

The pattern itself is very well put together and written clearly. There is a written version (my preference) as well as a charted version of each section. What I liked the most about it was the detailed instructions for each stitch, no matter how simple, and specific recommended cast on and bind off techniques. So many options are available that sometimes it's difficult to know what the best choice is for a given edge. It's so common for patterns to just say "cast on" and "bind off"/"bind off loosely" and then despite your best efforts you still end up with a less than satisfying edge. The designer also included great notes for each section to explain unusual things or to clarify. There were a lot of crazy increases and decreases in the brioche sections but the notes and instructions made them very easy to accomplish.

I was pretty wowed when I got to the last section and started shaping in brioche. Whaaaaat??? It turned out looking amazing. There is definitely at least one spot where I messed up the decreases and fudged a row or two (see above comment about really learning how brioche works...) but no one will know besides me and nobody's perfect. When I blocked this edge I just put a few T-pins around each outside curve to avoid pointy-ness and let the inner ones settle in by themselves. After unpinning it looks great. This pattern is definitely a "need to pay attention while working" pattern, at least while not working the striped sections. It was a really enjoyable knit where I learned a lot and I am going to love wearing this thing. 

Pattern: Baubles, by Andrea Mowry (my Ravelry page)
Yarn: Honey Girl Farms Silky Sock in "Jamie Fraser", "Sassenach", and "Hot Chocolate"
Needle: US 4 (3.5 mm)
Size: 100"across, 30" deep

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