Tales of a Neutral Rainbow


  
  
Are you as obsessed with Instagram as I am?

As a maker and all around visual person, I find endless inspiration on Instagram.  From knitting and sewing to cooking and home decor, it’s easy to find lots to love.  Sometimes all that inspiration can become overwhelming and noisy.  But when it’s good, it’s really good.

A couple of months ago, many of the knitters I follow started making the same shawl.  I watched these shawls take shape and grow, lumpy masses of wooly lace on the needles.  And as more and more friends finished their shawls, my desire to knit one of my own grew stronger.

The pattern was in the back of my mind as I set off to Black Sheep Gathering in June.  If I find just the right yarn for this shawl, I will make it!  I thought to myself.

You can imagine what happened when I visited Brooke in her booth, Sincere Sheep.  This bouncy, earthy Rambouillet jumped into my hands, and before I knew it there was a neutral rainbow of wool laid out on the table.  In that instant the idea for a shawl knit up in a natural gradient was born.

I stumbled a bit through the first clue of this shawl (it was originally a mystery knit-along).  Its rhythm didn’t come naturally to me, and I had to pay close attention to the pattern.  Soon enough it all clicked, and I was off!

And just as I was once obsessed with looking at other people’s shawls on Instagram, I became obsessed with knitting my own.  Other projects sat untouched over the last couple of weeks as I embarked on a mission to finish this.

I’m so glad I let the inspiration I found online follow me into real life.  I’m happy I took action and made something my own.  It was a joy to knit, and I can just imagine it will be very cozy to wear as soon as the weather starts to cool.


Pattern: Tales from the Isle of Purbeck – MKAL by Annie Rowden (@byannieclaire on Instagram)  Yarn: Equity Sport from Sincere Sheep.  Ravelry notes here.

Birthday Dress Update

IMG_9578I’ve made a commitment to knit G a sweater each year for her birthday.  As a knitter with a winter baby, it seems like a sensible time to knit her an annual sweater (and an inspiring excuse to do so).  You can see her first birthday sweater here.  I can’t believe she’s going to be 5!

It feels particularly important and special that I put some extra love and work into the Birthday Sweater this year.  Our new baby is due later this month, and I want her birthday to be special, memorable.  She may not remember whether the dress was finished before her birthday or after, but I hope she remembers that I made her special clothes for her birthday.  That I knit a different one each year until she asked me to stop.

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Except this time she requested a dress.  A floor-length dress. With a train.  Like Queen Elsa.

I wasn’t about to commit to that much knitting!  Fortunately, we quickly negotiated and agreed that a sewn train/cape would be acceptable.  But that’s a whole other project…

A couple of months before her birthday, I start asking G what she’d like in a sweater this time.  Color, style, themes.  This gave me time to favorite some patterns on Ravelry and pre-select some yarn for her to choose from.  She quickly chose Oriental Lily by Georgie Hallam and this shade of yarn from Yarn Ink, appropriately called Frozen.

This dress has been a really fun knit. I’ve been working on it monogamously (more or less) for a couple of weeks.  It’s been in the car, at work, in cafes, and just about every room of our house. Of course, it seemed like it was not growing at all for a few days there; every time I measured it felt like I still had 6 inches to go!  Thankfully she has requested it have short sleeves, so this should be done by the weekend.

Now to figure out how to sew an organza cape…

Yarn Along

book + chocolate + a bubble bath = my idea of a good time!

book + chocolate + a bubble bath = my idea of a good time!

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I was craving a page turner and an addictive knit, and I sure got what I asked for!

Last week I could not put down these rainbow leg warmers.  Each stripe knit up so quickly, that it was easy to say “oh, I’ll just keep knitting till I finish the next stripe.”  And on and on until I’d knit a pair of leg warmers in a week.  I may have been motivated to finish them while G was also captivated by them; she kept wanting to try them on and asking me when they would be done.  Such a rare, sweet response to my knitting!  My hands have been feeling a little sore since these came off the needles, so I probably overdid it with my enthusiasm.  Looks like I’ll need to cast on a new project in some thicker wool. You know, to rest my hands.

I heard about this book on a podcast, and was lucky enough to find it right away at our used book store.  Such a deal!  Part mystery, part ghost story, this suspenseful novel spans decades and characters, and had me instantly captivated. I can’t wait to see how all their tales weave together and what the ending brings.  I’ve been taking it into the bath with me, and going to bed even earlier to read it.  Last night I definitely stayed up past my bedtime, I was so hooked!

Warning: a child dies and the mother grieves intensely, which isn’t for everyone.  I’m not sure if it’s the writing or my pregnancy hormones (likely both), but it can be a bit of a tear-jerker.

Reading: The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

Knitting: Rainbow Legwarmies, my own pattern. Ravelry notes here.

A New Baby Gift

IMG_8436There’s something about knitting for babies.  They embody the very idea of potential, an idea I closely associate with yarn and knitting.  So when I choose a project for a baby, I take great care in selecting materials that suit the family, a color that matches the mood of the season, and a design that’s both fun to knit and easy to wear.  And while I’m knitting it, I try to think all the good thoughts I can and infuse a little extra love into the piece.

This wee sweater is the perfect quick baby knit.  It uses a small amount of yarn and grows quickly.  There are endless opportunities for personalization, from the color of yarn and buttons you choose, to adding stripes, embroidery, appliqué, and more.

For this project, I couldn’t help but choose one of my favorite colors: yellow! This is a sophisticated, autumnal yellow that I hope the recipient’s mama will appreciate.  I added oval wooden buttons to keep the overall look on the rustic side.

I was able to deliver this wee sweater to my mama friend and her new baby last week.  I think they both loved it, and I can’t wait to see him wearing it. : )

Pattern: Puerperium by Kelly Brooker (see my Ravelry notes here)

Yarn: Madelinetosh DK in Candlewick

What are your go-to knits for babies?  I’m always on the lookout!

Yarn Along: A Spree

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From Ginny: ~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs.  I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading?

I have been knitting and reading up a storm this winter. Something about the weather sends me to the couch in the evenings for knitting, curled up in front of the fire watching something on tv with my sweetie. And then to bed early to curl up with a book.  There has been plenty of both the past couple of months, and it feels really good.  Good to take care of myself and make time for the things that bring me comfort, peace, and creativity.

Currently I’m reading The House Girl. It’s a rich story of the complications of two women, generations apart: life as a young slave, and life as a young career woman.  There’s a lot of complexity to the story that I’m really enjoying, even early on.  I can’t wait to see how it all ties together.  Some other recent reads that have been a treat: DivergentLove Walked InBelong to Me.

My fall sweater has been seeing a lot of action recently.  I started this as part of a Stash knit along, but it got set aside in favor of another sweater and holdiay projects.  The Anzula For Better or Worsted is a dream to knit with; once I start, I don’t want to touch anything else!  So now I’m pointing my laser focus at it and trying to get the pieces finished asap.

And yet…I just wound up yarn for 4 new projects.  We’re heading out on a sunny vacation soon, and I may have gotten a bit carried away.  But you know what? Each of these projects has been on my mind for ages, so why not have the yarn, pattern, and needles ready to go when the mood strikes?!  I’ll probably take 2 with me on vacation.  Or 3. We’ll see.

Yarn Along

yarn along photo

 

Over the weekend I finished both the book and knitting project I shared last time.  Both were a real treat!  Before I even bound off my shawl, I started plotting my next 2 projects.  The golden-yellow yarn in the back is a swatch for a sweater; I’m on the fence about this, so should probably finish off the swatch and block it already.  Next, I pulled this rainbow yarn from my stash and cast on a quick hat.  You know, just to have something ready to go.  I wouldn’t want to be caught without a portable knitting project!  After knitting the brim in a strip and picking up stitches for the body of the hat, this will be perfect potato chip knitting.

The book’s a quick read as well.  I have already watched season one of Orange is the New Black on Netflix and loved it.  It is rare that a television show have so many rich and nuanced female characters in one show.  The book is Piper Kerman’s account of what led up to and including her spending a year in federal prison.  She is respectful and empathetic for the most part, even when describing unimaginable treatment by the prison staff or the circumstances of her fellow inmates.  I find it fascinating and upsetting all at once.  I’m learning a lot about one person’s experience, and it is shocking to me how people are treated in prison. After having seen the show first I keep wondering how much from the show parallels her real life experience.  I’d recommend reading the book first, maybe, so there isn’t that fact/fiction comparison.  Although it would probably happen in reverse, too.  Either way, I recommend both, so choose your own adventure!

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As an aside, I’d like to mention that we have a shiny new Stash blog with a great interview with knitting designer Susan B. Anderson.  You should head over and enter to win a copy of her most recent book, Topsy-Turvy Inside-Out Knit Toys!

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This Yarn Along post, as ever, is inspired by the lovely Ginny over at Small Things: ”Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs.  I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading?”

Yes, do tell! What’s on your nightstand and project bag this week?

 

Off the Needles :: Scraps

It feels really, really satisfying to knit a project and use up almost all of the yarn.  It’s as if it were meant to be, as if the yarn and the pattern were a perfect match.

Occasionally, however, you overestimate the yardage you’ll need for a project, only use a few yards of that extra skein, or inherit someone’s leftovers.  What is to become of all those partial balls of seemingly unwanted leftover yarn?

I usually toss all my partial balls into a bin inside my stash cupboard and let them marinate until a use becomes apparent.  I don’t really worry too much about them. Perfect for stripes, toys, crafts, gift wrap, and baby hats, I know my leftovers will get used up eventually.

First, I knit this:

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Earth & Sky

And used the leftovers for this:

Scrappy Sockhead Hat

Scrappy Sockhead Hat

And then I knit this:

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Tidal Cardigan

And used some of the leftovers for this:

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Little Scallops

Isn’t this a fun game?!  How do you handle your leftover bits of yarn?

You can see details of all of these projects over on my Ravelry page.

Yarn Lust

I’ve been wanting to get to this space all week, to tell you about my magical, yarn-filled weekend.  It was like Candy Land, but with yarn.

I went to Vogue Knitting LIVE to represent Stash, and expected to have a great time.  What actually happened was so personally satisfying and thrilling, it blew my wool socks off.

The people were kind and open and enthusiastic.  I met old friends, new friends, blog friends, podcast friends, and knitterari friends.  The wool fumes and collective buzz of knitterly enthusiasm was contagious, and I instantly felt my lust for knitting surge.  This was just the medicine I needed to cure a pretty bad case of Knitting Burnout.  I hadn’t knit in weeks, and was even starting to skip my daily Ravelry check-ins.  It was bad.  Rest assured, this was a brief malady, and I am now on a steady prescription of New Yarn.

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The haul.

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My color palette for the Turnagain Cowl

I had a lot of fun playing with different color combinations of Loft in the Churchmouse booth for a Turnagain Cowl.  I already had the Sap and Plume colorways in my stash, so I started with those and then played with different color stories.  I’m pretty excited about what I came up with, and even though it isn’t exactly wool-cowl weather, I’m itching to cast on asap.

I’m also pretty excited about that mini skein bundle of lavender gradient yarn from Black Trillium, the gradient cakes from Freia, the 2 ply hand-dyed from Spincycle Yarns, and the Madelinetosh.  So much new yarn!

Should you think owning a yarn shop satisfies the urge to impulse buy yarn, let me tell you it does not! When faced with the temptations of new yarn, I am just as powerless as the rest of us yarnaholics.

What yarn or projects are you itching to cast on right away?

You can read more about the trip and see photos full of yarn-drunk knitters over on the Stash blog.

Yarn Along :: Phoebe Mouse

 

 

Inspired by Ginny: ~ Two of my favorite things are knitting and reading, and the evidence of this often shows up in my photographs. I love seeing what other people are knitting and reading as well. So, what are you knitting or crocheting right now? What are you reading?

I have a modest collection on knitting books for children, and keep them on a special shelf near my yarn.  Every special once in a while, PB asks if we can “read a knitting book,” and we choose one to read together.  Recently she requested we read Phoebe’s Sweater, a beautifully illustrated book by Joanna and Eric Johnson.

After the story, there are some beautiful knitting patterns for a girls sweater and a large stuffed mouse doll with a matching sweater and dress.  I’ve always wanted to make PB the sweater, but on this day it was the darling mouse that caught her eye.

Mama, will you knit me this mouse please?

Sure, sweetie.  What color should it be?

Let’s look in your yarn cabinet, mama. 

Be still my heart!  We proceeded to look through the stash and discuss color options, and she ended up insisting upon a relatively new-to-me skein of Madelinetosh Vintage in Moccasin.  I tried to convince her of other options, but she would not be swayed.  And she’s right; this chocolate-brown yarn was the best choice for a little mouse, perfectly matching the weight and yardage requirements.

Phoebe Mouse is a quick, seamless (except for the ears) toy, something I haven’t made before.  I’ve finished the body since taking this picture on Monday, and am on to the extremities.  The best part is, every couple of days she asks me to sit down and work on her Phoebe Mouse.  Gladly my dear, gladly.

What’s on your nightstand and in your project basket this week?

ps. The Johnson’s have since published two more, equally charming children’s books: Freddie’s Blanket and Phoebe’s Birthday. View them here.

Hurricane Cowl

Lunch at Slice

with Marie Forleo, my biz-lady mentor

Last weekend I went to New York City for a conference for women entrepreneurs striving to create not just a business we love, but a life we love as well.  My goal was to get inspired and map out the trajectory for a few new ideas I have brewing for Stash.  I also wanted to meet some fellow biz ladies and play in the city.  I got to do all of those things and so much more; I ate my way through the West Village, discussed ideas with incredible women (and a couple of men), danced my buns off, and even did some yarn shopping.  I also had some major personal revelations and got inspired to hit the ground running as soon as I got home.

Hudson River at West Side Highway and West 12th

And then on Sunday afternoon, reality hit as news of Hurricane Sandy’s imminent arrival infiltrated the bubble that was my experience so far.  Flights were cancelled, airports were closed, and hotels were evacuated.  Many of us were stranded, challenged to create an opportunity out of an uncertain situation.

When I woke up on Monday morning,  I saw the above view out my hotel window and decided the water was just a bit too close for comfort.  The storm hadn’t even started yet and the Hudson was already level with the West Side Highway!  Through Facebook and Twitter, some fellow conference goers and I were able to stay in touch and I ended up with a fantastic new friend to wait out the storm with.  We promptly moved to a hotel in Midtown and were fortunate to have power throughout the storm.

A bit of blue sky the morning after.

Huddling inside a hotel room with a near-stranger  waiting for a hurricane to strike is an interesting experience, indeed.  We were both anxious, scared, uncertain, and grateful to not be alone.  My heart was aching to be so far away from my wife and daughter; I was literally trapped on an island, and couldn’t get home.  This moment threw my priorities into stark relief, and I couldn’t wait to get home to hug them.

Through it all, I knit on this cowl.  Huge size 35 needles and some extreme thick and thin yarn from Loopy Mango made for good hurricane knitting.  Each stitch was a meditation as I absorbed all I had learned over the weekend, changes I wanted to make in my personal life, and new ideas for my business.  And when the knitting was finished, the hurricane was over and I was wrapped in the warmth of wool and new friendships.

Thank you to my hurricane sisters Catherine, Sarah, Sara, Amy, Ellie, Mari, Ceclia, and Claudia.  I’m so thankful we met!

Please consider taking a moment to donate to the Red Cross; anything you can contribute will help someone in need.