Mother’s Day Mending

My mom has always been one of my favorite people to knit for.  She graciously accepted my first-ever knit, a garter stitch scarf out of nubby acrylic yarn, and still wears it from time to time.  Over the years, as my knitting has gotten more adventurous, she has been the enthusiastic recipient of my first lace project, a pair of beaded socks, and various other scarves and hats.  I love that she wears these things when I’m around her; it reminds me of what I already know deep in my heart: she love and supports me very much.

So when I noticed that one of her handknit scarves had a little hole in it, I wanted to fix it immediately.  We were at Stitches at the time, and I kept my eye out for some of the same yarn to do the repair.  It was Malabrigo lace in a green-blue colorway, and I thought it wold be easy to find a skein in a close color.  Not so.  When we parted ways, I forgot to get the scarf from her, and it left my mind.

The next month she came to visit for my birthday and happened to be wearing the scarf.  I was relieved to see that the hole at not grown!  It appeared that a small snag near the garter stitch border had broken the yarn, and just a couple of stitches had unravelled.  Fortunately, the yarn is a fuzzy single ply and very grabby, so it wasn’t going anywhere fast.  But how to fix it?

My mom left the scarf with me this time.  Quite by accident, as I was getting down a box of old Interweave magazines, I found a ziplock bag of yarn labels and tags.  This is a remnant of the days before I uploaded my stash to Ravelry; I saved every single ball band, just in case.  You know what happens next, right?

Malabrigo yarns come with a hang tag that is attached to the skein by a small length of yarn.  I did the yarn worshiper’s Alleluia and danced with joy!

The fix was relatively simple once I set my mind to it.  I got out my size 0 double-pointed needles and got to work looking for live stitches and pulling out tufts of broken yarn.  There were more stitches on the bottom of the hole than the top, so I fudged it a bit and picked up some intact stitches, then grafted the hole closed.  I took care to weave in the ends on the top and bottom of the graft, hoping to add further reinforcement.

I think it turned out pretty nice!

Next I gave the scarf a nice bubble bath and re-blocked it.  I think my mom will get many more years of enjoyment out of this scarf.  And I have about 6 inches of yarn left, just in case.

Of Silk and Wool

Here we have a birthday gift knit with some yarn I once received as birthday gift.  I call this good knitting karma!

For my sister V, a simple yet lush and lacy neckwarmer:

  • Yarn: Malabrigo Silky Merino in Archangel, less than one skein
  • Pattern: Fern Neckwarmer by Sue Granfield (free pattern download, Ravelled here)
  • Needles: US 8 & 9
  • Mods: None.

This is a nice little knit, simple yet satisfying.  I did have a knitter-error with a coupe of rogue yarn overs, but they fit right in and were not noticeable in the finished project.  This would be an equally good choice for someone wanting to try out a little lace or for a knitter with a bit more experience.  There’s an interesting bind off that I had never tried before call the suspended cast off.  It was fun and stretchy, as promised.  I really like how this starts out as a close-fitting cowl, then bells out a bit at the base; it’s perfect for wearing under a coat to keep the chill out.

The real excitement in this story is the yarn, Malabrigo silky merino.  I have been lusting after it ever since it came to live with me in my stash.  This was “special” yarn, something that was a gift from a good friend that I kept saving for just the right project.  I always envisioned something pretty and lacy, just never committed to anything.  So when my sister V admired it, I began thinking about knitting her something for her birthday.  It knits up light and lofty, and has this beautiful sheen; the colors range from a frosty pink to deep amethyst.  This pattern used maybe half a skein, so I have 1.5 skeins left to knit something lovely for myself.  Have you knit with silky merino?  Have any pattern suggestions?

 

S and V, ages 9 and 3

Happy Birthday.  I love you, sister!

 

Summer Shawl-along

My Stitch ‘n Bitch group is doing a shawl-along this summer.  It’s an informal gathering of knitters in which we are simply knitting something lacy at the same time.  No deadlines or matchy-matchy shawls for these b!tches.

I cast on alongside some other great knitters on Tuesday. This is my budding Hamamelis shawl by Kirsten Kapur.  And that lovely yarn?  That would be Madelinetosh Sock in Denim, a sumptuous, silvery blue merino.  The pattern is coming along fairly quickly during stolen moments of knitting throughout my days.  Of course, these triangular shawls always go quickly in the beginning; it’s when you get to the point of having hundreds of stitches on the needles that it really begins to drag.  But I choose not to think about that moment just yet, instead plodding happily along on these short, lacy rows.

Happy knitting!

Ishbel the Grape

Ishbel is finished!  I had enough yarn!

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I bound off the last of the stitches on Monday night, just before the season premiere of House, and put her in the sink to soak.  After a while, I pinned the shawl out on my yoga mat (a little narrow for this project) on commercial breaks.  It was dry by the next morning!

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  • Pattern: Ishbel by Ysolda Teague, size Large (see my Ravelry project page here)

  • Yarn: Malabrigo Sock Yarn in color 853; 1 skein or about 440 yards

  • Needles: US size 6/4 mm Addi Turbo Lace needles

  • Mods: None.

This project was everything I had hoped it would be the second time around.  I wanted a darker, more moody colorway.  Check.  I wanted it to be larger than the first version so it would stay put when worn as a scarf.  Check.  And I wanted to get it all done with one skein of great yarn.  Check.

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The Malabrigo sock yarn was a dream to knit with.  The color variation is subtle yet saturated, moving from deep indigo to grapey purples and everything in between.  All without stripes or pooling colors showing up in the final product.  It is soft and sturdy too, which means it should work great for socks as many knitters have already reported.  I have another skein in chocolate brown that hasn’t decided what it wants to be when it grows up yet.

Turns out taking self-timed photos of yourself wearing a shawl is pretty tough.  First all I got was a picture of my butt.  Next it was more shawl and less butt, but it was out of focus.  Finally I got something that wasn’t too blurry or butty (helped along with a little cropping, of course).  Here it is:

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Oh, I’m just in love with this!  Not only do I want to knit more lace shawls immediately, I want to go out and buy a new, more neutral coat to show off my hand-knits this winter.  Is that so wrong?

Sha-Kon-O-Hey

Well, it happened again.  I went out of town and this whole blogging thing really slipped my mind.  Of course, I didn’t take my laptop to Tennessee, assuming our cabin in the mountains would not have any sort of Internet connection.  Knitters, was I wrong!  Not only did this place have wireless, it had a hot tub, a flat-screen television in every bedroom, and super comfy beds.  This was not exactly what I had pictured when we decided to join in on a family reunion in the Great Smoky Mountains!

At sunrise
At sunrise

I took a new knitting project along with me, hoping to have a break through and get excited about knitting again.  To do this, I turned to an old friend, Ishbel.  Though I had made the pattern before, it turned out a little small and I wanted to try again in a bigger size.

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Time spent away from TV and the Internet left me with plenty of moments with the kids, or knitting on the porch in a rocking chair enjoying the Sha-Kon-O-Hey of the smoky blues.  I was able to finish the stockinette portion of Ishbel and was feeling pretty excited about it.

Then I got home and back onto Ravelry and well…let’s just say I got distracted.  Add the bible of fall knitting, Interweave Knits, into the mix and I am in a conundrum.  What to knit?  I feel uninspired by socks for the moment, something I didn’t think I’d say just a few months ago.  The overwhelming urge to knit anything for baby hasn’t hit yet, though I keep looking at patterns and my stash… That leaves me thinking maybe I should knit myself a cardigan for fall/winter, something that buttons at the top and drapes open a la Juliet, Shalom, or Liesl.  Any suggestions?

And just for fun:

Giant pickle at Dollywood...who could resist?
Giant pickle at Dollywood…who could resist?

Have a great weekend, y’all!

For the Love of Ishbel

Ishbel turned out to be one of those projects that was impossible to put down.  Once I cast on last Sunday, I was a knitting fiend, putting in some time on a row or pattern repeat whenever possible.  It must have been the perfect storm of yarn and pattern, because both were equally pleasing to work with.  Ysolda writes a wicked clear pattern that was a joy to follow, and the Madelinetosh sock yarn kept me smiling throughout.

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  • Pattern:  Ishbel by Ysolda Teague

  • Yarn: Madelinetosh sock yarn in Lettuce Leaf, approximately 300 yards

  • Needles: US size 6/4mm Addi Turbo Lace

  • Mods: None.  I knit the size small as written.  See my notes on Ravelry.

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When I finished binding off it seemed small.  I knew that it would grow during blocking, but I wasn’t sure it would be big enough to wind around and wear like a scarf.  The pre-blocking measurements were 13 x 35 inches (depth x wingspan).  I soaked it for a few minutes, then pressed it in a towel and pinned it out on my yoga mat.  The dimensions grew to 18.5 x 38.5 inches.  It’s still a bit skimpy as a scarf, but I am really enjoying it as my new spring accessory!

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If I were to knit this again (as I am feeling wont to do) I would probably knit the large stockinette pattern with the small lace section, or vice versa.  First, I only used about 3/4 of the skein, and I loathe having that much yarn left over.  Secondly, it is just a little bit shy of wrapping around so that the ends dangle without sliding off over my shoulder.

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I love this scarf and would totally marry it if I weren’t already spoken for!

This was my first lace shawl, and I couldn’t be happier with the experience.  In the past when I saw lace charts I would instantly feel intimidated.  But there was just something about this pattern that spoke to me and said: “Don’t be afraid.  You can do this!”.  Maybe it was that the pattern called for sock yarn and started out in stockinette.  Or that I knew what all the symbols meant and simply needed to pay a little bit of attention every other row.  Most likely I’m just a more experienced and less fearful knitter than I once was, especially when it comes to lace.  Now I’m looking at some of my sock yarn with a certain lace lust that wasn’t there before…

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Now that it’s off the needles I can admit this out loud without ramifications: when it came to the lace section, I didn’t count stitches or use life lines!!!  ‘Cause I like to live on the edge like that.

Must Keep Knitting…

Warning: Once you start knitting Ishbel, you may find it impossible to stop.

Other activities such as sleeping, eating, or self grooming may tempt you into putting down the needles, but you will not be able to be gone long.  Ishbel will lure you back with her sexy yarn overs and fast paced lace charts.

I cast on Sunday afternoon, and by Tuesday had finished the first lace repeat.  I took Wednesday off from compulsively knitting, and am now working on the last chart.  It could be done this weekend…

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May you be blessed with the same excitement over one of your projects this weekend!

Detours, Roadblocks, and Expressways

I’m enjoying a quiet morning at home.  I’m sitting here at the computer with a cup of tea, thinking about the days ahead and all I have to get done in order to be prepared and/or productive.  What is that about?  Do you feel like you have a never ending To-Do List, and no matter what you’ve accomplished the day before, there is always more to do?

I’m really feeling lately like I should be doing More, like I want to be contributing to the world in a bigger, better way.  I’m just stumped as to how to accomplish this.  Life has taken my plans and made me go on a big detour, and at this point I’m not sure if I’ll be arriving at my intended destination any time soon. So what to do in the meantime…?

Knitting, for starters!  Now that the craft fair is over, I have regained an open schedule with regards to my knitting.  I have been working monogamously on the Show-Off Stranded socks, and they are coming along quite nicely.  The pattern has a new-to-me way to make a heel: you knit the sock from the cuff down, and when it’s time to make a heel, you increase every other row to create a gusset.  You are simultaneously knitting the heel, the top of the foot, and the gussets. Then you turn the heel and keep knitting along.  No heel flap!

I have some holes along my gussets, but they match on both sides so I have elected to call them “design features” or “learning experiences”!

Bells has me feeling inspired to knit a little something lacy; she’s in a country where it’s almost summer now, and what a better thing to knit than lace in the summer?  I just want to knit something delicate, and some time ago the Hanami Stole caught my eye.  I have some luscious apple green cashmere lace-weight in the stash, and it seemed like a perfect pairing.

Then last night at Stitch ‘n Bitch I decided I would make a swatch.  This is uncharacteristic of me, but something was telling me that this yarn and pattern combination were to be taken seriously.  Maybe it is the 12-page pattern.  Maybe it was the fact that the yarn kept breaking as I handled it.  Both, I guess.  So I got started knitting a swatch, and after several rows…snap!  The yarn broke.  I don’t know if I can, in good conscience, continue knitting with this yarn.  Could I double it up?  Should I set it aside?  Will being worried or paranoid at the beginning of a project doom it to failure?  Can some of you experienced lace knitters advise me on what to do?!  Help!

Sweetie and I are heading out of town on a much-needed long weekend together, a trip born out of a culmination of things.  So I will be out of touch for several days.  I hope that you have a wonderful weekend, with more than enough time to create and be peaceful.

P.S. Squirrels love corn!  This one munched on a cob tabletop before trying to carry it in its mouth through the spindles on the deck.  Horizontal corn and vertical slots do not mix!  S/he eventually switched tactics and pushed it through.  Lucky squirrel.

Against All Odds

  • Pattern: Lelah Top by Christine Buhagiar
  • Yarn: Calmer by Rowan in color 484
  • Needles: Size 8 circulars
  • Modifications: I added about 3 lace repeats to get some more length. Then I did some simple shaping above the bust to bring to top in and finished it off with some 1×1 ribbing instead of using elastic.

Yay! My first top is finished, and I am pleased to say that this was a pleasant experience from start to finish.

First, I got really lucky finding this yarn on clearance in my current favorite color, lilac. Then, I did some swatching and cast on. Please note: by swatching I mean that I cast on 20 stitches or so, and knit with various needle sizes until it “looked right”. It was by no means precise. And no, I didn’t check my gauge. This is why I am amazed, dumbfounded, even, as to why this top fits. I didn’t even measure my body until I was almost finished with the thing. And even then, I just measured the circumference above my bust to see how much to decrease.

This should not fit me. Sure, it could probably have used a few more stitches to make the bottom portion a little more floaty, but overall it works. The amazing thing is, I deliberately didn’t follow any of the prescribed rules about knitting garments (not sure why, exactly, other that sheer laziness or an overwhelming need to cast on and knit immediately). I didn’t even stop to consider how just knitting the thing straight from the directions could turn out.

Is it beginner’s luck? Am I tempting fate? I know I want to start another top as soon as I can decide on which pattern and yarn I want to use. Will the next project go horribly wrong? Should I take a few minutes to measure all my bits and knit a real swatch? What would you do?! Can anyone recommend a simple, no- seaming-required summer top?

I finished this on Saturday or so, and needed something mindless to relax me in between the packing and moving of the following few days. So I went out and found some cotton in colors that will match my new kitchen and got started on a kitschy dishtowel. This is a simple stash-busting-instant-gratification knit, which satisfied my needs on so many levels.

  • Pattern: Leftover Towel by Stephanie Haberman
  • Yarn: Peaches ‘n Cream Ombre cotton
  • Needles: Size 8 because all my other needles were packed!
  • Modifications: I followed the pattern through 1 repeat, then switched to a 1×1 ribbing for the body of the towel. I did another 2 repeats of the pattern before decreasing. I also had to rig my own 6 stitch buttonhole to accommodate that huge button!

The move went very smoothly, and now I’m faced with mountains of boxes to unpack. For my downtime knitting I’ve cast on another easy dishcloth to match our bathroom. This is the Baby Fern Stitch Dishcloth in more Peaces ‘n Cream. Well, the boxes are calling me…

Easy Come, Easy Lace…

The scarf is finished!

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  • Yarn: Malabrigo Yarn Lace in Emerald Blue (137)
  • Needles: Size 4 Circular Needles
  • Pattern: Easy Flame Lace Scarf by Wendy Bernard (it’s free!)

I started this project in October, thinking it would be a quick and easy introduction to lace knitting. I thought I would have it finished in plenty of time to give to my mother for Christmas. Well, it was an easy pattern, and a fabulous introduction to a simple lace, but it took me a lot longer to finish than anticipated. It felt like it would never end: 470 yards of lace yarn…ahhhh….

The perfect opportunity to buckle down and knit until it was finished came last week in Newport, RI.  My mom and I drove over for some coastal R&R, staying at the historic Francis Malbone House.  It was during their afternoon tea service, in front of a roaring Colonial fireplace, that I was able to muster up the energy to finish.  The two lemon squares I devoured may have helped things along a bit too.  FYI, this is a great time of year to try out some of Newport’s high end B&B’s at a deep discount; we got our room with a harbor view for about 2/3 off the usual price!

Back to the scarf:

As soon as I bound off, I tossed it to my mom in the wingback next to me.  She received the scarf graciously and encouraged me NOT to throw the leftover yarn into the fireplace.  I left it on the mantle, instead.  In any case, my mom has been very good about making a big deal out of my knitting, and especially this project. I am happy to have completed it for her, and hope she will enjoy it for a long time to come.

Before blocking, the scarf measured 68 inches long, 5 1/2 inches wide. I used a spray bottle full of warm water to wet the scarf, avoiding the potential stretching that fully submerging it in water might create. I then used my yoga mat to pin my work down, stretching it to about 6 1/4 inches wide and 71 inches long. This material seems to work perfectly for blocking; it holds onto the pins, and seals itself up once they are removed. It also allows for the fabric to dry faster since it is non-absorbent.

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Spike was not impressed, as usual.