Spring is green

spring is green shawlette

green on green – not my best photography idea

This gorgeous Cedar Leaf Shawlette is, I think, my fastest shawl project to date. I got the idea for a last minute gift – and it had to be ready within 5 days. While I was still busy with everyday life. And I made my own life harder by deciding to knit it up in lace instead of worsted weight, as the pattern suggests. The construction is quite nifty – you knit the main part of the shawl and shape it through short rows. Once the main part is completed, you add the leaf pattern by knitting along the side, from one end to the other.

I finished this spring shawlette in time, and quickly steamblocked it. It took just over half a skein – 282 yds – of Malabrigo lace, wow.  It was a gorgeous gift – I liked it so much, I was tempted to keep it for myself. But I know it went to a good home.

spring shawlette on a statue

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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.

Starry

So. Lace. A lace shawl. If you’ve never knit one, it’s seriously intimidating. I looked at a chart and was confused, and a bit scared. I mean, how would that all make sense? How on earth were those instructions going to turn into something light and lacy?

I’d been knitting for, oh, nine months when I decided to challenge myself, and knit a lace shawl. I had already knit an Ysolda Teague patternan Urchin hat – and when she put up previews of her Whimsical Little Knits collection, I signed up. The booklet included a pattern for a lacy shawl, Ishbel. It consists of a stockingette section, followed by a lace edge. I figured I could tackle that – that would be easier than a completely lacy shawl.

Ishbel shawl

Ishbel shawl knit in Dream in Color Starry, colorway In Vino Veritas

And, that’s when I discovered something that no one tells you beforehand: You’re going to purl a lot when knitting lace. For more ‘simple’ shawls you’ll purl the entire back of the lace, unless a pattern is charted on the backside, or unless it’s a garter stitch shawl. Sigh. Still, the result is gorgeous. Ultimately, lace is not as scary as you think. I’m fine with both written and charted directions, but I do highlight my rows. Lifelines really help – basically, you run a thread through a pattern row, or at the end of a section. That way, it’s easy to frog back if you’ve made errors, or dropped a stitch, without undoing the entire thing. I find it really really difficult to pick up dropped stitches in lace.

The yarn is Dream in Color Starry, which contains 2% silver fibers. That’s what gives the yarn that sparkly effect. It looks gorgeous in the finished object, and it dresses up the shawl. I think it’ll be great with more formal clothing, too. Love it! The colorway is In Vino Veritas, and I think the subtle colorshifts really look inspired by the colors of wine. It really is a great gift for my sister.

silver fibers sparkle!

Silver sparkles, and gorgeous subtle color shifts

Cream of Eggplant

I bet you were expecting a post on food, right? Ha! Au contraire! Cream of Eggplant is what I named a project of mine. I’m sure there are great eggplant soup recipes out there, but this post is about a lovely purple scarf that really looks like the purple skin of an eggplant.

The yarn I used for the project was Classic Elite Miracle in the colorway Purple Palace. I forget why I originally bought the yarn for some kind of other project – I can’t for the life of me remember what it was. But I’d wound it at the yarn store, and so I wanted to use it up. I’d already knit a purple scarf and hat for my sister, but they were beginner projects. Well, not beginner projects, but I was brand new to knitting, and I figured I could do better.

The most frequently pattern knit with this yarn was the Cream of Spinach scarf – so now you know why I named my project Cream of Eggplant scarf. The yarn was somewhat fuzzy and splitty, but the pattern showed it up nicely. I’d say that I won’t use the yarn again, but the yarn has been discontinued anyway. The finished project is fine, but it’s not my favorite finished object. That just means I’ll have to knit another scarf for my sister. Yay!

Poor Professor Lupin

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Spoiler alert if you haven’t read/watched “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.” Don’t read any further if you want to find out what’s going to happen on your own. I warned you. Even though I think that there aren’t many people out there who haven’t been exposed to Harry Potter.

Poor Professor Lupin. He just hasn’t had an easy time of it. I mean, who wants to deal with being a werewolf. And I’m not talking about the Teen Wolf kind of werewolf. Btw, I think there’s an MTV version of Teen Wolf nowadays? I have no idea myself, I haven’t kept up with MTV in, oh, forever.

Professor Lupin’s werewolf is the agressive kind, having to stay separate from others during the full moon to avoid endangering others. After having been bitten as a child by Fenrir Greyback, a werewolf, he has had a rather difficult childhood suffering from his werewolvism. After graduating from Hogwarts, he has a hard time finding a job due to his affliction. He always looks a bit shabby. Even though he’s a nice, uhm, guy/raving werewolf. He did a good job as Professor of Defense against the Dark Arts, but still had to hide what he was to avoid upset parents descending on the school. Well, and then Harry, Rob and Hermione figured out what he was…

Are you wondering what my point is? Ha! I do have a point. I was looking for a hat pattern – well, I was looking for a hat pattern in February. It was still cold enough that I needed a hat, especially after working out. Wet hair and cold weather easily make for a cold. I was looking around Ravelry when I found a hat. Well, a hat and a cowl. A cowlhat. Or more precisely, a howlcat. Even though cats meow, rather than howl. Speaking of meowing, this little Spongebob Squarepants video is hilarious (from ‘I was a Teenage Gary‘):

Apart from Spongebob and Professor Lupin, I also kept thinking of the ‘Werewolves of London‘ song by Warren Zevon (click on the link if you want to see him performing the song). Well, this werewolf howls, so maybe he would wear this howlcat. Yes, I know, a werewolf is not a cat, but the howling belongs more in its realm. Speaking of the hat, it’s basically a stockingette tube that transitions into a ribbed tube. So the end of the hat is ‘open’ – you basically close it twisting it into shape. Also, the hat is reversible – you can wear the stockingette or the ribbed side on top. It’s a great beginner project, very easy. You just need to be able to join in the round, and the rest is easy peasy.

Ghostly whisper

It’s time for another blast from the past. Ok, it’s not that old, but here’s a finished object from 2011. Meet my Ghostly Whisper. It’s a lovely cowl, knit in laceweight yarn. This was my first time knitting with Rowan Kidsilk Haze. I liked it, but boy, the finished cowl fuzzed all over my shirt. Is fuzzed an actual word? Anyway, I feel like you need to take a lint roller along if you wear this cowl. But the yarn is very soft, and very very light. It could just fly away in a light breeze. In fact, I tried to take some ‘floating’ pictures, with me throwing the cowl in the air, but the lighting wasn’t good enough, and as you can imagine, the mechanics were more than a bit challenging. It reminded me of my photography project where we had to ‘photograph’ movement.

I knit this pretty much as written in the pattern. The cowl ended up a bit longer than planned – it fit loosely over my shoulders and draped nicely. I would have liked for the cowl to be just a little bit shorter so it would be a bit more snug around the shoulders. I used the invisible cast on and cast on onto a spare Knitpicks needle. That way it was really easy to graft the ends together. You have to be really careful while grafting to avoid fabric puckering. The pattern suggests to pull the length of yarn through at the end, after the grafting. I don’t think that’s a good idea, given the nature of the Kidsilk Haze. Instead I pulled the yarn through along the way, making sure to keep enough tension, without puckering up the seam.

The cowl has since been rehomed and went to my friend Hanna as a birthday gift. Yay for handknit gifts!

9 degrees Fahrenheit/minus 13 degrees Celsius

It’s freezing. Really really freezing. At least it’s sunny, and we don’t have to deal with tons of snow too (apparently it would be even colder with snow). So this is a good time as any to put up a post about winter wear.

I made this lovely pair of gloves 2 winters ago, for my friend Ulrike. It took a bit to figure out what pattern, and what color; ultimately she decided on this lovely burgundy shade of Wollmeise called Merlot. This was the first time I was knitting gloves, and the project moved along pretty quickly until I had to do all those fingers. And yes, there were quite a few ends to weave in. Nothing like those kinds of projects to scare you away from part II. But I plugged along, since I wanted to finish the gloves while it was actually cold enough to wear them.

So, gloves finished. Yay! Enough fiddling around with fingers, and making sure everything fits. And then I made the mistake of showing the finished project to my sister. And of course the comment was “I want a pair too!” In the same colorway. Well, thanks to the generous yardage of the Wollmeise skeins, I had enough to make pair #2. My sister’s hands are smaller, so I knit the second pair with smaller needles, otherwise everything is the same.

The pattern is called Knotty Gloves, and it’s one of the bazillion glove/mitten designs by Laris Designs (ok, not bazillion, but she has 20-30 different glove designs out there). It’s a really good starting place for a newbie glove knitter – and it’s pretty easy to fit properly. The only issue is that the knotty pattern makes the gloves somewhat bunchy on top. Oh well. Ultimately, they look pretty, and keep your fingers warm.

Oh, and btw, this season makes me think of the “I’m freezing” children’s song from Music Together: Sticks. Music Together is this really lovely children’s music education series, and the songs and rhymes are really cute. Plus it’s music that’s bearable for adults too (I would not be able to listen to Barney over and over, but this, this I can do). Anyway, here’s a really cute version enacted by this little girl (no idea who she is, but she’s doing a lovely job 🙂