Wednesday, October 23, 2019

pumpkin parade

I can thank Pinterest and my mom for this latest craft project. If you combine orange yarn, green pipe cleaners, and some twine you end up with pumpkin garland! 

One of many fun things about having the new house is that there are so many opportunities to be festive. I made this garland not sure where it would end up, but it's found a great home brightening up my kitchen for fall. 

It was the work of an afternoon used up one skein of yarn to get twelve adorable little pumpkins all strung up in a row. Pumpkins, people. Gotta love 'em. 

Saturday, October 12, 2019

shetland, finished

It's done! And I'm in love. This is the most ambitious knitting I've done to date and I am so very happy I went on the adventure. The pictures simply do not do justice to this amazing piece. It is large and cozy. I can certainly see wrapping up in this on chilly days. 

The yarn I chose, an alpaca/wool/nylon blend, lends the shawl great weight and drape without being bulky. It's also just a little bit "gritty" if that makes sense. It's not a soft silky feel but more of a rough and tweedy hand, and I think that suits it very nicely. I would absolutely use this yarn for a shawl again as I really like the texture. 

The color is difficult to capture on camera. It's a navy with flecks of magenta/purple in it appropriately named 'blueberry'. I can remember when I bought 5 skeins of this lace weight yarn at the shop and being asked "what are you going to make with all of this tiny yarn?!" Well, I don't think the lady believed me when I told her a single Shetland shawl, but I have just under half a skein left! It just ate up yardage. 

It is fun to look at this project and remember the places it's been with me as I worked on it, especially the trip over the pond to Scotland it took. It's even more special to me having seen the cultural birthplace of this type of shawl. Though we did not specifically go to Shetland, I do see echoes of the mainland highlands in the patterns as well and that is a pretty cool connection. 

I very much enjoyed the knitting once I got going, and I'm looking forward to another project from Cheryl Oberle's Folk Shawl Knitting book soon. 

Pattern: Fir Cone Shawl (my Ravelry page)
Yarn: Berroco Ultra Alpaca Fine in 'blueberry mix'
Needle: US 7 (4.5 mm)
Size: 6 feet square

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

trim and move on

Trimming the things! Again! This has become the mantra for this quilt, and a valuable lesson learned. Not that I didn't *know* it is a good idea, it's just that I've gotten away without it for so long. No longer. 

I was miffed at the fact that my churn dash blocks were about 12.75-13" square and my 16 patches were slightly smaller at 12.5". I thought about cheating in the seams but it just didn't seem like it was going to work out. And trimming the churn dashes down would ensure some blunted points. Which I didn't want. But! We trim and we live with it. The points are slightly blunted in some but not all cases and you know what, once it was all together I didn't even notice. I mean, I'll notice because I know it but it's not like screaming out "hey! blunt points!" at every passer by. 

Dave's mom gave me some really great advice on how to finish it. She had just finished a project with two borders that ended up 1" wide and liked it a lot. I decided to do a 1" inner border followed up with a wider 3" solid border that I can hand quilt in once the binding is on. I'm happy with how it's turning out so far. Now I just need some backing fabric and an idea for quilting the thing.

Monday, October 7, 2019

blocking shetland

In the big push to block all of the finished yarny things I have, I got down to the last one - the Shetland shawl. Initially my thoughts trended towards putting it off some more to avoid the back breaking work of kneeling on the floor and pricking my fingers on more pins than I thought I even owned. But I persevered because I totally want to wear this thing. 

Again, I count myself lucky that I have my craft room now. I had the floor space to put together nearly every single foam board I have into a gigantic square. That's 6 feet square. In the end once I got my blocking wires in I decided that the wave edging didn't really need the meticulous shaping I was thinking of doing and that it would be just fine using only blocking wires thank you very much (indeed this is true). 

Of course the blocking really makes this design look impressive. The lace just doesn't shine the same way all squished up. It needs the magic of water and wires to really find itself. Above is the center panel fir cone motif, and below are the inner and outer border sections followed by the wave edging. I like the geometric borders more now that I see them in context. While knitting them I have to admit I wasn't too sure how it was all going to work out, especially after knitting the fun, curvy, organic center panel. The one thing that terrified me while blocking this was wondering if I had dropped a stitch somewhere while picking up the live edges for the last border. One stretch and there goes the stitch zipping out through the shawl! I'm pretty good at fixing those types of things if I drop while knitting, but this pattern is so complex I don't think I'd be able to recover. Thankfully no stitches were dropped. Phew. 

The wave motif is quite possibly the most impressive thing about the shawl aside from the size. I'm amazed at what a few well placed decreases will do. It's a for real wave. All the way around. Whaaaat. I just ran the wires through where I thought the crest of the wave was for each repeat and called it good. I was considering lots of pins to make it rounded but then I thought of how the ladies that make actual Shetland shawls stretch them out on great big wooden stretchers and decided that they probably didn't bother worrying about that kind of shaping. Also inspired by them, I did block quite aggressively, pinning out to almost 6 feet square.

Friday, October 4, 2019

waiting for rain

This is absolutely one of my favorite knitting projects I've ever done. It was a really fast knit that I did mostly on vacation, and I'm so glad I made it. This is a really special shawl for me not only because I love the color combination, the design and everything else, but also because the Koigu was a yarn I bought in Chicago when I went home for my grandpa's funeral. He and I were always very close, and we both shared a love of flamingos. I thought this particular color looked very much like all of the colors you'd find in a flock of flamingos, so I got it to remember him by.

I'd had my eye on this pattern as soon as it came out and I put it in my queue for 'someday' when I decided what yarn would suit me best. I loved the gray original version, but could see it in so many other lovely colors too. As soon as I saw the striped versions start coming out I knew I was going to do that, and after the Koigu had been in the stash a while I asked myself why not use it in this project? I went out to find a coordinating main color that would showcase but not compete with the pink and ended up with this lovely brown. There are definitely some speckles of this shade in the Koigu, too so that was great. The orange was a bit unexpected but was a leftover in my stash. The shade turned out to work great, again there are a few specks of orange in the Koigu, and I really like the unconventional combination of these three. 

The Lorna's Laces brown yarn is really soft and lightweight just like the orange madelinetosh. It bled quite a bit when I soaked it which made me sad that it was going to dull the pink Koigu, but in the end that worked itself out somehow as it dried and no issues in the finished piece. The Koigu was absolutely the right choice for the lace panels. I thought maybe the speckles would detract from or get lost in the lace but it looks amazing. That yarn is a little more robust and twisted differently than the others so the textural difference is really interesting in combination with the lace.

I've got notes on my striping on Ravelry, and I used the optional picot bind off to finish it. I think that edge really adds something to the whole look. Not usually my taste, but it totally works here. Even though it's a bit of a pain to weave in all the ends afterwards, I would absolutely recommend the stripes. I think the movement you get visually from them in combination with the lace panels is really cool and brings out the uniqueness of the construction. The overall size is perfect for me, and I've already worn it out a couple of times this fall with pride and love.

Pattern: Waiting for Rain (my Ravelry page)
Yarn: Koigu PPPM in 'P709', Lorna's Laces Solemate in 'Grand Street Ink', and madelinetosh tosh merino light in 'terra'
Needle: US 6 (4 mm)
Size: 96" across, 25" deep

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

lilac tulips

This is another project like the Aslan cowl that I finished this summer and blocked this fall. I guess it's actually the last thing I made in our old place! I worked on it mostly through July - which was a crazy month where we got our first (!) house offer accepted, one cat was super sick, and Dave was traveling internationally. Definitely a comfort knit if there ever was one.

I got this yarn at the very first King's Mountain Art Fair I went to. It was a really pretty color of lace weight yarn that I bought with no plan whatsoever. Then a couple summers ago I remember going through my stash and winding some of the orphan yarns I had so I would be incentivized to use them. Then in February I went through my stash again and planned out some actual projects. This was one of them, but it took me bit to get to it! There are worse things in life than having a robust stash and too many things to knit. 

When I blocked it, the lace really opened up in the flower border and the whole piece naturally fell into a big circle. That shape makes for a really easy and natural wrap around the neck and the drape is just lovely. I really like the flower border - the pattern names them begonias, but I think they look more like tulips to me. Either way the color of this yarn suits it very well and the design is quite something. My flowers didn't block out as pointy as many others did, but I like the subtle curves in the edge rather than really dramatic points. Very happy with this yarn-on-a-whim project.

Pattern: Begonia Swirl, free on Ravelry (my Ravelry page)
Yarn: Schafenfreude Fibers Silken Lace in 'lilac'
Needle: US 4
Size: Blocked in circle 1 yard across, 14" deep when done