Careless Whisper

Sometimes you fall in love with a color, and then you have to find the project that will make it shine. That’s what happened to me when I saw the Tuareg colorway by Malabrigo. Many many many years ago I read a Young Adult series that took place among the Tuareg. I don’t remember much about the book, but I do remember how vividly the author described the Tuareg and their lives. She described their nomadic treks and their ceremonial drinking of green tea. She talked about their blue garments and their silver jewelry. So the color Tuareg really resonated with me.

Now, I had two skeins of Malabrigo lace in Tuareg. I love Malabrigo. The colors just shine. The only thing is, it tends to felt. I already had problems with felting – both on a cowl, one for my Mom, and one for my goddaughter. It just doesn’t seem that the yarn is resilient for heavy duty use. I’m tempted to us Malabrigo worsted for a sweater, but I’m scared of sweater fuzz and sweater felting. There are other yarn bases like Malabrigo Twist and Malabrigo Rasta that I haven’t yet knit with. And Malabrigo Rios is apparently machine washable! Whoa Nelly, t to try that out.

I had the Whisper cardigan pattern in my queue for a while – it looked like such a lovely and light little cardigan. Perfect for summer, over a dress or a top. The construction is interesting, too. You start at one sleeve, work across the back, and then finish up with sleeve two. You pick up stitches for the ribbing around the edge, and you continue knitting the bottom part until it’s long enough. Fun!

When I wound the yarn before casting on, I got the first hint that the yarn may easily felt. But I still persevered 🙂 Now, the lace is pretty darn thin, so neither magic loop nor dpns worked for the first sleeve. I tried, but I got laddering, and that just really didn’t look in the lace. I ended up investing in a 12” Hiya Hiya needle, and that made the difference. The first part, sleeve to sleeve worked up pretty quickly. The ribbing took a little longer, but then, then came the back part. Oy. Endless, and I truly mean endless, endless, endless stockingette. Can I just tell you, if you’re knitting stockingette in lace weight, it really takes a long time?


But when it was done, it totally was worth it. The finished cardigan is light and whispery. And I used every little bit of yarn. That bind-off had me sweating – I was hoping I didn’t have to tink back. I literally had a few inches left. Phew.

Mom had fallen in love with the cardigan along the way, and since I still needed a birthday gift for her, the Whisper cardigan became hers. Ok, I finished it up way after her birthday, but she loves it all the same. And the color looks really good on her. The Tuareg blue was a really good choice. I’m pretty sure I’ll be knitting with that colorway again.

Peppermint Princess

Glaubst du an den lieben Gott oder an Guevara
ich glaube an die Deutsche Bank denn die zahlt aus in bar au
Liebling lass uns tanzen hast du noch ‘nen Pfefferminz ‘nen Pfefferminz
so und nun gib mir ‘nen Kuss mit Pfefferminz bin ich dein Prinz

– “Mit Pfefferminz bin ich dein Prinz” by Marius Müller-Westernhagen

Clapotis in Wollmeise

You know how you sometimes just fall in love with a skein of yarn due to its name? Yes? No? Well, that was the case with me. When I’d just discovered Wollmeise yarn, I was looking at colors on the Wollmeise website, trying to figure out what colors I’d like. That was before I discovered how challenging it is to order Wollmeise yarn, and that you won’t easily find the color you like in stock. No, you just have to hope that the color you want will be available at that update, and you’ll have to hope no one snaps it up before you can checkout with it.

Wollmeise in blue-green
Pfefferminz Prinz above, Tiefer See below

Well, I was looking at the blue-green color family, and I immediately fell in love with two colors: “Tiefer See” which is the blue-green as ‘the blue and green of a deep mountain lake,’ and “Pfefferminz Prinz,” which must be inspired by the song above that is titled “With peppermint I’m your prince.” Well, I like that song, so I just had to like the color. The skein is lighter than the Tiefer See colorway – a very pretty turquoise and light green.

Thankfully I managed to score a skein of Pfefferminz Prinz thanks to a fellow Raveler. And when you finally get ahold of a yarn color that you’ve been hoping for, oh, forever, you of course have to find a project that will show off the colors.

One of the most frequently knit patterns using Wollmeise is the ubiquitous Clapotis scarf/shawl, second only behind the Hitchhiker pattern. I wanted more of a skinny scarf that would be light enough to wear during the summer, so I modified the pattern into a narrow scarf. It’s super easy to modify the pattern to the desired width and length. So many Ravelers have already done that, there are many many helpful project notes out there. In fact, there is an entire group dedicated to knitting your own Clapotis.

The best suggestion is to weight your yarn skein(s) before casting on, to then weight it again after the increase section, before knitting the straight part. Then you know how much yarn you can use for the straight section, and not run out of yarn. The scarf itself is knit on a bias, and stitches are dropped at regular intervals to created the lacy effects. You have to get used to dropping the stitches – normally I’m so super careful not to drop any. It’s a really fun scarf, and I understand why many people knit multiple Clapotis scarves – but that endless straight section is somewhat mindless. I’m not a huge fan of projects that are endless. I’ll be knitting a bunch of other scarves, but I can see myself knitting another Clapotis again sometime in the future.

Clapotis knit in Pfefferminz Prinz

Destash

Ok, the destash is up and running…

I’m destashing lots of indie dyer yarns: Wollmeise, Mama Blue, Sanguine Gryphon, numma numma, Plucky Knitter, JulieSpins, Sundara, Pigeonroof, Yarn Chef, Posh Yarns, Hedgehog Fibres, Neighborhood Fiber Co., madtosh, Yarn Love…

And there are also skeins of Malabrigo, Dream in Color, Noro, Fleece Artist, Handmaiden, Spud & Chloe, Rowan, Berocco, Debbie Bliss, Jo Sharp, Knitpicks, Patons…

Phew! It’s been quite a bit of work to get all the yarn photographed, uploaded and entered into Ravelry – and then dealing with keeping track of all the different requests and PMs and getting everything shipped out is quite a bit of work.

I still have lots of yarn left that I really want to get rehomed, so if you’re interested, take a look!

Massive

My stash is ginormous. Despite all attempts to knit as fast as I can, I’m sure I’ve reached SABLE (Stash Acquisition beyond lifetime expectancy). I know that if I destashed everything that I’m not likely to knit anytime soon, I’d have boxes and boxes of yarn. I guess I’m finally facing up to the reality that I really don’t need all that yarn, and that I can acquire yarn for projects as I go, instead of having reserve yarn. Plus, when I have yarn set aside for projects, I tend to forget that I’ve planned to use that yarn, and I sometimes end up buying more yarn, or I find yarn that’s even better suited. So, I’ve decided to destash. In bits and pieces. Although the first batch will be something around 100 skeins (!!!!). Yikes! And since I haven’t gotten around to add some of the yarn to my stash, I’m busy photographing and entering yarn into Ravelry. This is really shaping up to be a bigger project…

If you’re interested in my destash, I’ll add a post when the destash is going up on the ISO/Destash of yarn message board, and I can also post what yarn brands I’m destashing. Oh, and I’ll be destashing my set of addi Click interchangeables that includes extra needles and a awesome interchangeable case from Sarah Kincheloe.

Tidy mind, tidy stitches

Alright, let’s move on to Day 3.

Day Three: 30th March. Tidy mind, tidy stitches.

How do you keep your yarn wrangling organised? It seems like an easy to answer question at first, but in fact organisation exists on many levels. Maybe you are truly not organised at all, in which case I am personally daring you to try and photograph your stash in whatever locations you can find the individual skeins. However, if you are organised, blog about an aspect of that organisation process, whether that be a particularly neat and tidy knitting bag, a decorative display of your crochet hooks, your organised stash or your project and stash pages on Ravelry.

I’ll first tackle the part of knitting tool organization, since that’s the part that I’m managing quite well. I have two sets of interchangeable needles – a set of Knitpicks and a set of Addi Click needles (btw, if you know anyone who’s heading to Europe, have them pick up the up a set for you, since they’re significantly cheaper there). And well, neither set of interchangeables comes in a particular practical case (Addi must have figured that out for themselves since the new cases are neat little leather envelopes). Anyway, I got so frustrated by my needles rattling around – both the interchangeables and the circular ones that I decided to invest in a knitting organizers from Sarah Kincheloe:

from Sarah Kincheloe
circular knitting needle organizer
crochet hook organizer
needle roll
knitpicks organizer
interchangeable Knitpicks organizer

I also have a knitting bag from Schroedinger Originals that I love. And in case I don’t have a knitting bag available, there’s always good old Ziploc. And I have a lace knitting bag from 3AM Enchantments for my bigger projects.

Apples bag
cube apples knitting project bag
Country Chic lace bag
lace knitting bag

I keep two small bags for my knitting notions – one that I can throw into my project bag and has the notions I always need – scissors, stitch markers, crochet hook, tape measure, gauge measuring thingy, knitting needle gauge, safety  pins, tapestry needles in various sizes, needle binder thingy, cable needle, knitting counter, little notebook, and a bit of string. The bigger bag holds everything else.

notions
small notions bag
notions bag
large notions bag

As to my stash, well, my organizing skills have been outpaced by my stash acquisition. I originally started out adding my yarn including photographs to my stash on Ravelry, but then it just got too difficult to keep up with the photos and the entries and so on. I do have a Excel master list that is lists most of my stash and is in urgent need of being updated. And the rest of my stash is organized as follows:

Ziploc bags
Ziploc bags

+

 

IKEA
IKEA

means:  

Yup, good old IKEA boxes. I have a few other boxes and a bit of underbed storage, but most of it is in Ziploc bags in IKEA boxes. And to be on the safe side, I’ve also included a few cedar blocks in my boxes. Yup, I’m trying to make sure that no moths decide to make a nice meal out of my yarn. The boxes are all labelled and within the boxes, the yarn is organized by dyer – that way I have at least some way of organization and can find what I’m looking for without plowing through my entire stash.

As to projects, I use Ravelry to keep track of my projects. I tend to add projects one I have some decent pictures of the WIP, and sometimes I only add a project once it’s finished. But I really like how you can log your entries in detailed ways, and being able to rate the pattern, yarn and difficulty is incredible convenient.

Even though I don’t like to look at the dimensions of my stash I did manage to tackle this post. Phew! If you’d like to look at my projects, stash, or queue, you can find me on Ravelry, username anji. And if you’re interested in seeing other posts on the topic ‘Tidy mind, tidy stitches’  from other bloggers who’ll be blogging today on this topic, just search on Google (or another search engine) for the tag 2KCBWDAY3.

Skill + 1UP

2011 Eskimi Knits

Alright, time for the topic of Day 2:

Day Two: 29th March. Skill + 1UP

Look back over your last year of projects and compare where you are in terms of skill and knowledge of your craft to this time last year. Have you learned any new skills or forms of knitting/crochet (can you crochet cable stitches now where you didn’t even know such things existed last year? Have you recently put a foot in the tiled world of entrelac? Had you even picked up a pair of needles or crochet hook this time last year?

I originally learnt how to crochet in school, with the result of a terrible short and itchy scarf. But when my sister’s baby shower came around, I decided on a handmade project, a blue baby blanket. And then I got started on knitting, since I wanted to knit a mobile for the new baby (see the Shaun the Sheep mobile in the Day 1 post). So my first year of knitting consisted mostly of crocheting amigurumi, knitting and crocheting hats, knitting toys and scarves. My next challenge became lace knitting. I started of with Ysolda Teague’s Ishbel, and then knit a gorgeous Girasole. I fell in love with lace and haven’t looked back.

Jared Flood's Girasole pattern
Girasole

I’ve since started to knit more complicated lace, but last year I decided to tackle garments and socks. Socks because I’ve started to accumulated quite a bit of sock yarn, and well, sock yarn means that I should at least try to knit socks. And garments since I wanted to expand my skills, and also tackle larger projects.

So, socks. I first knit a pair vanilla socks, to get a feel for basic sock construction, and then I tried my hand on Cookie A’s Monkey pattern. I never knew hov fun it could be to knit lace socks, and how superior handknit socks are to store bought ones. Perfect fit, warm, sturdy, and the feeling of really having accomplished something and seeing one’s project on a regular basis. And then I participated in Stephanie Linden’s Advent KAL, which was my first KAL. The resulting Gaudete socks are cleverly constructed, especially the heel, and these are the best fitting socks I’ve knit so far.

Cookie A's Monkey pattern
Monkey socks
Gaudete KAL socks
Gaudete socks

As for garments: Well, I still have quite a ways to go there. I still need to learn how to customize fit. And I have to admit that steeking scares the heck out of me. But hey, at least I dared to get started. I knit a Vesper for me – this project had it’s ups and downs – I finally got it finished and then I realized that I hada place the sleeves to low. So I decided to  detach the pleats, frog most of the short row section, and then reattach the pleats (I was scared that this wouldn’t work out and that I would have to frog the sweater and reknit it).

Spring is coming
Vesper

I also really like knitting garments for kids – it means near to instant gratification, and you can experiment with color that I just wouldn’t dare with adult clothes. Plus there are so many cute buttons for kiddie clothes! (I found the most awesome kid buttons, so there’ll be a post on that after the Knitting and Crochet Blog week). Anyways, here is an Owls sweater that I knit for my nephew:

Baby owls sweater
Owlet - Baby Owls sweater

So that leaves the question of what I’d like to try over the next year. I definitely want to want to try my hand at colorwork (I’m thinking of Spillyjane’s Swedish socks here), improve my sweater fitting skills, try beaded lace knitting, and maybe even dare to tackle my first steek (yikes!).

That’s my Day 2 post. Tomorrow’s post tackles knitting and stash organization. Stash explosion really challenges organization, but more on that tomorrow. In any case, if you’re interested in more of my knitting shenanigans, you can find me on Ravelry, username anji. And if you’re interested in seeing other posts on the topic ‘Skill + 1UP’  from other bloggers who’ll be blogging today on this topic, just search on Google (or another search engine) for the tag 2KCBWDAY2.

Hello Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2011!!!

2011 Eskimi Knits

Woohoo! I’m excited! So let’s move on to the main event. Today’s topic is:

Day One: 28th March. A Tale of Two Yarns.
Part of any fibre enthusiast’s hobby is an appreciation of yarn. Choose two yarns that you have either used, are in your stash or which you yearn after and capture what it is you love or loathe about them.

First I thought I would post about my love of Wollmeise. I just love the colors. I first got hooked on Wollmeise when I saw the color Rhabarber in someone’s stash. Rhabarber translates into rhubarb, and I love rhubarb – rhubarb pie, rhubarb and strawberry jam, rhubarb compote, and so on. Anyway, I’ve knit some beautiful projects out of that yarn, including one of my favorites, a little shawlette that just pops thanks to it’s color (colorway is Stella Polaris):

Azzu's shawl knit out of Wollmeise in Stella Polaris
Azzuro

But then I decided to post two other favorites of mine – both dyed by indie dyers.

Yarn #1: Yarn Chef Bouillabaisse

Bouillabaisse is her light fingering weight. The colorway is Kelp Beds, self-striping, and boy, these colors just glow. The yarn is soft but holds up well as a sock yarn. She has a number of different bases, and she really dyes up beautiful semisolids, but also gorgeous self-striping yarns.

Kelp Gardens
Yarn Chef Bouillabaisse in Kelp Gardens

What more can I say – gorgeous colors, gorgeous yarn, and I knit super delicious socks out the yarn.

Colorway: Yarn Chef Bouillabaisse in Kelb Beds
Monterrey socks knit out of Yarn Chef Bouillabaisse

Yarn #2: Sundara sock yarn (also not unknown in the world of knitting, I know)

Sundara sock yarn
Sundara sock yarn in Aqua over Limeade

This is another yarn I’ve really enjoyed knitting with. It’s sturdy and works up beautifully. I like this base better than her Aran Silky Merino. The color showed up beautifully in a scarf I knit (and which was immediately claimed by my Mom):

Aqua over Limeade scarf
A cool drink (aka Haruha scarf)

Honorable mentions go to Mama Blue yarns (unfortunately she has stopped dyeing), Hedgehog Fibres, and, surprise surprise, a great workhorse yarn for knitted toys – Patons Dk. I know, it might come as a surprise since I’m a bit of a yarn snob, but how can I not mention the yarn that resulted in this mobile for my nephew?

Shaun the Sheep Mobile
The sheep clan up close
Shaun the Sheep mobile
Shaun the Sheep and company, suspended

So, that’s it for today. If you’re interested in more of my knitting shenanigans, you can find me on Ravelry, username anji. And if you’re interested in seeing other posts on the topic ‘A Tale of Two Yarns’ from other bloggers who’ll be blogging today on this topic, just search on Google (or another search engine) for the tag 2KCBWDAY1.

And thanks go to Google Chrome and WordPress for almost eating my post but then allowing for a draft to show up. Phew!