Block Party

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Oh, the needles have been very busy lately. Sometime in late October I decided to knit a certain amount of holiday gifts. My goal was to use existing stash yarn + patterns for all the projects. I ended up having a lot of fun searching patterns in my Ravelry and real libraries.  A few of them had been in my queue for a very long time; casting them on was almost as satisfying as using vintage stash!

I celebrated over the weekend by hosting a block party. We indulged in some bubbly Soak, took a long bath in the washing machine, and then laid out on the table in my crafty room. It was a pretty wild night.

The last gift knit is on the needles now, and it’s only the 10th.  Hubris has me contemplating another gift…surely 2 weeks is enough time for what I’ve got planned!

How about you? Are you working on any gifts?

We had a really fun yarn craft over on the Stash blog last week.  Check it out if you’re looking for a little holiday crafting cheer!

Something finished this way comes…

Yesterday I was lucky enough to have the afternoon to myself in the quiet of Home.  After traveling last week and being sick this week, such silence and space was exactly what I needed.  This allowed me an uninterrupted stretch of time in which I could catch up on podcasts and finish the knitting of my Juliet.  I only had a few rows left, so it really took no time at all.  Then I set to work on all the little things that have to happen before a garment is really Finished: weaving in ends, soaking, blocking, and choosing buttons.

Remember, this yarn isn’t 100% wool, so I’m not sure what the results of my blocking efforts will be.  But I decided to go through the process, because I need a little more give in the bust area.  My fingers are crossed that when it is dry, the rigorous blocking will hold.  In the meantime, what should I do about buttons?

Free At Last!

That’s my knitting bag. Empty.

I tell you, making a list of all the things that are weighing you down, then systematically forcing yourself to deal with each item can be very productive. In about a week I have gone from 8 works in progress down to 4!

  • Pattern: Spiderweb Capelet by Erin Weckerle from Stitch ‘n Bitch Nation
  • Yarn: Nashua Handknits Creative Focus Brushed Alpaca, about 1/2 skein
  • Needles: Size 15 US & a crochet hook
  • Mods: I did one extra repeat of the lace pattern before decreasing at the top.

My 2nd set of successful pom poms!

This was one of those patterns that took a fair amount of focus to work on. I’m used to knitting on much smaller needles; knitting with 15s felt like holding two broomsticks! I had to be careful not to drop them, or the stitches. I would highly recommend this pattern if you have some wispy laceweight or a fuzzy alpaca like this; it highlights the stitches beautifully and is feather light.

Before blocking:

I did a quick wet block on this by simply rinsing in out in my bathroom sink. Then I laid it out over a dry towel, folded the towel up and walked across it to absorb the excess water. My favorite blocking surface happens to be my yoga mat. It doesn’t absorb water, so it takes much less time for the items to dry.

I placed a pin about every 2 inches or so, being careful not to distort the stitches or the shape of the capelet.

This could be one of those whimsical knits that was fun to make but that I’ll never actually wear. But right now, as I fantasize about warmer weather, I imagine myself throwing it over a tank top to run out for the day…

Next time, more finished objects!

Sweetness and Light

I am in love with Malabrigo. It is everything good and pure about yarn: soft, pliable, beautiful in color and texture, it smells good (yes, I’m a yarn sniffer), it feels good to knit, and it blocks well. I’ve gone from their lace weight to a fluffy worsted weight this week, and am fully satisfied yet sad that my project has been completed.

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Using size 8 needles, I cast on 70 stitches and worked a K4 P3 cable rib about 7 inches before beginning the decreases. Easy and beautiful.

I was concerned about the size; I had to give it a good stretch just to fit around my head, and even then it wasn’t comfortable. But then my friend Eden (who also loves the Malabrigo) gave me the simplest of suggestions: block it. It had honestly never occurred to me to block a hat! She said to just stretch it over a bowl (making sure the bowl fit over your head first). So last night, while most people were probably watching the Superbowl, I could be seen trying on all the mixing bowls in my cupboard! I got the hat wet, and stretched it over a bowl, then inverted it into a larger bowl to keep the hat in place. It was too dark to get a good pic, but trust me: it works well. This morning the hat was nice and dry, just in time to ship to my sister for her birthday.
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Wait a second, that mirror is dirty and the flash is on!

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Much better! Only now I can see that perhaps I should have started with a ribbed edge to provide a little more structure and finish. Good thing I have enough yarn leftover to make another…

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.