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.

Yarn Along :: Love & Linen


I raced through Eleanor & Park and loved it! Needing to stay in the vein of keeping my reading simple and not too dark, I checked the library for a book I keep hearing great things about. Imagine my delight when I found a copy of The Rosie Project straight away! Bonus: it came up as a 14-day checkout, but wasn’t marked as such. So the librarian gave it to me as a regular check out. It’s these simple, nerdy things that can really make my day!

My knitting has been cruising right along. I’ve mainly been working on True Friend, and and about to start the ribbing at the hem.  If you follow me on Instagram, you can check out how it looked a couple days ago!  My socks have also seen some love and aren’t far from being finished.

So with two project close to the end, it’s time to start something new, right?  A fresh project is on the needles for the Stash Spring KAL.   I cast on Togue Pond (twice, actually. Pro tip: read the pattern before you cast on!).  The linen is lovely to work with.  It’s smooth and a bit silky while still being crisp.  I’m looking forward to wearing this top!

Knitting: Togue Pond by Pam Allen in Quince & Co. Kestrel {Ravelry notes here}

Reading: The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

So what’s on your nightstand and needles this week?

On the needles : Spring update

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It’s full on Spring in Oregon now.  The crocus and daffodils have come and gone, the tulips have peaked, and now we’re eagerly anticipating the first unfurling of a peony bud.  With the help of a friend, I’ve recently prepared our raised garden beds for planting.  We’ve already got broccoli starts happily nestled in their new homes, and the pea seeds G planted last month are rapidly growing.

My knitting has also been growing quite quickly.  I’ve kept it to two projects for the past month or so, and it’s remarkable to see them grow at a steady pace.  Especially since they’re both in fingering weight yarn!

I’ve always loved color and pattern, and am not one to shy away from either in my knitting.  And yet this year something has inspired me to work a bit more in neutrals, especially when it comes to garments.  This will give me some new pieces that I can mix and match with all the store bought color and pattern in my wardrobe.

IMG_1447IMG_1314So when perusing the stash for options for True Friend, a newish sweater pattern by Veera Välimäki, I was drawn to the many shades of grey I’ve been stashing.  These hand-dyed yarns have so many lovely transitions between light and dark, I think they work really well together. {Ravelry notes here}

This pattern has a bit of an unusual construction, but it’s simple at the same time.  Which makes this the perfect knit for my still slightly baby-fogged brain!  The stripes make up the body and sleeves at the same time, with every other row adding stitches.  I’m well over 600 stitches per round now!  The end of this section is in sight, which is thrilling.

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That is my at-home knitting.  When I’m out and about, I have this pair of socks tucked into my bag.  Neutral black and white that I’m popping with neon accents on the cuff, heel and toe.  I’m loving knitting with the Victory Sock by Knitted Wit. It’s soft and sturdy, with just the right amount of sproing! for socks.  I’m about halfway down the foot of the second sock, so these will be off the needles very soon.  Time to start thinking about my next on-the-go project!

{as much as I’m absolutely loving knitting with all this grey and black, I think it’s time to cast on a new project with some color…}

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Speaking of next projects, I just cast on for the Stash Spring Linen knit along.  In the spirit of working with neutrals, I chose this sumptuous silver grey linen by Quince & Co (colorway Porpoise).  Togue Pond is a sleeveless top with a high-low hem and some subtle shaping details that make it very special.  I’m looking forward to working with a new to me yarn on huge needles (10.5, whoa)!

What’s on your needles this Spring?

Also, I can’t seem to stop taking pictures of my knitting with cups of coffee and tea. If you’re often stitching with a cup of something nearby, consider sharing over on Instagram with the hashtag #knitsandsips.  I’d love to see what you’re making and drinking!

Yarn Along :: Easy is Good

Leisure time is pretty unpredictable with a newborn around the house. Some days he sleeps the day away and not only do I enjoy luxuries like a shower and taking my time to eat, I get to knit.

You know me: I need to knit like I need to sleep in order to feel somewhat balanced. Right now the time and my mental energy are such that simple, easy projects are perfection.

Stockinette and garter stitch are the daily specials. Projects thatI can pick up and work on for a stitch, a row, or an inch at a time and toss in the knitting basket in a hurry. To that end I have some simple socks and a top that needs 12 inches of stockinette stitch on the needles. Easy, simple, knitting perfection for this season in my life.

Same goes for reading! What’s the equivalent of a stockinette sock? How about a space adventure? This is the story of Mark Watney and what happens when he’s mistaken for dead and left behind on Mars by his crew. He’s a funny & persistent protagonist, and there are some interesting moral issues to contemplate. But mostly it’s an easy, adventurous read. Again, perfect for right now.

How about you? What are you knitting & reading this week?

Knitting: A Nice Ribbed Sock in Victory Sock by Knitted Wit and True Friend by Veera Valimaki in Neighborhood Fiber Co. Rustic Sock.  You can view my project details on Ravelry where I can be found as PeacefulKnitter. 

Reading: The Martian by Andy Weir

 

The Mystery is Solved

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DSC_0639Pattern: Follow Your Arrow 2 by Ysolda Teague // Yarn: Hazels Knits Artisan Sock in Ruby Love & Sarsparilla // Read my Ravelry Notes here.

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Toward the end of my pregnancy, I was struck with a case of startitis.  I had stopped daily work at the shop, and was enjoying some much-needed rest before meeting our baby.  And what’s a knitter to do with a stretch of free time but cast on all the things?!

I was drawn into the idea of Ysolda’s mystery shawl knit-along as a way to help pass the time as I waited to go into labor.  A clue would be released each week, and my goal was to finish that clue before the next one was released or before the baby arrived, whichever happened first.

I’m pleased to say that I was able to keep up with the clues through week 4 of 5! These clues were challenging to me, with interesting charts and new stitch patterns.  It was fun and kind of fraught choosing between 2 patterns each week; it’s hard to make a choice without knowing where you’re going sometimes!  One clue would build upon the previous and before long I had a substantial shawl on the needles.

I deliberately chose the more textured clues each week, with garter or reverse stockinette stitch, to tie the clues together in my solid yarn.  This was after stalking the spoiler threads in the knit-along group on Ravelry, of course!

I knew going into the project that I wouldn’t have enough of the gorgeous red yarn.  Hoping there would be an opportunity to incorporate some leftover charcoal grey yarn, I forged ahead.  I ended up saving it for the border, which meant it was also at the biggest part of the shawl. So of course I ran out!  I ended up knitting the last row and binding off in another, lighter grey leftover yarn.  I’m not sold on the color combo, but I am pleased with how all the clues came together.  I’m also not thrilled with the size; I would like it to be a bit wider. But, these are things you have to give up control over to a certain extent when knitting blind!

Overall, this was a perfect distraction for me.  And I’m happy to say that I made it through 4 clues before going into labor, and was able to finish the final clue within a couple of weeks of it coming out.  Newborns sleep a lot, which is great news for this knitter!

Now back to some of the other things I’ve cast on since…

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Follow me on Instagram for more peeks into what I’m knitting (and finishing)!

Yarn Along :: Just Keep Knitting

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Tomorrow is my due date.  While in some ways it seems unbelievable that it’s already here, it also feels like it’s been such a long journey.  I am so looking forward to meeting this little guy, I’m practically buzzing with excitement!

In the meantime, I’m trying to knit, read, and cook all the things!  And catch up on tv shows, naps, and long walks. As a family we also have this sense of impending change as we go from a long-term trio into a quartet.  So we’re trying to soak up The Geeg and do all of the things we like to do together before things pause for baby. It’s a bittersweet time, this in-between an old life and the new one.

Knitting: Follow Your Arrow 2 ~ a mystery shawl knit along by Ysolda Teague. Ravelry notes here.  This has been the perfect distraction as I wait to go into labor! Knitting a mystery project is so much like waiting for baby. All I can do is take it one clue (or day) at a time and enjoy the process.

Reading: Joy for Beginners by Erica Bauermeister.  I don’t know why I picked this up, other than I had a craving for a story about female friendship.  I’m happy to say it’s better (and way less sappy) than I expected.  It’s reading like a collection of short stories that weave the women together with a common friend who has challenged each of them to engage in a difficult area in their personal lives.

What’s on your needles and on on your nightstand this week? 

Birthday Dress Snubbed, Mama Okay

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The birthday dress was finished two full days before the big day!  It was a fun project to design with The Geeg, and a delicious yarn to knit with.

She tried it on once and took it off again immediately.

I’m really not surprised that she doesn’t want to wear this right now.  The same thing happened last year, despite involving her in the selection process.  It’s okay.

As strange as this may sound, I don’t knit these birthday gifts so that she’ll wear them.  I knit them for her as a way to show my love.

It’s a time I spend thinking about her, the past year, and all the adventures she has ahead of her in life.  Sure, I knit other things for her when she asks and really enjoy that. But the annual birthday sweater is a constant and a great exercise in intention and thoughtfulness for me.

It’s hanging in her closet now, alongside her other dresses.  I hope that one day she surprises me by coming out of her room with it on.  Until then, I’m happy I made it and am content to wait.

Yarn: superwash DK by Yarn Ink in Frozen  Pattern: Oriental Lily by Georgie Hallam

Ravelry notes here.  More details on the project in this post.

Yarn Along :: keeping things simple

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With the turn of the new year, and as I ready and wait for baby, I’m craving simplicity.  I want (and need) for things to be slow, simple, and easy.  My body is working very hard these days (38 weeks, whoa!), and my mind gets tired fast.  I need simple forms of entertainment and activity so I don’t get completely overwhelmed with all the changes that are coming!  This can be seen in my current knitting a reading : small projects, easy reads.

Knitting: Zuzu’s Petals in Freia Ombre Sport for the Stash Winter knit-along (join in on Ravelry here). Such a fun pattern, this is my second!

Reading: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo and Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty.

My opinion isn’t fully formed on either of these books quite yet.  I will say I’m finding the tidying book inspiring if not a bit severe. But I do love her bottom line: keep only what sparks joy.  It definitely pairs well with the mindset of a nesting pregnant lady! I have already used her method to reduce and organize my clothes with success.  The novel is a fun candy bar read, perfect for where my mind is at right now.  It’s going fast, and I’m enjoying the characters and setting for what they are.

What’s on your needles and on on your nightstand this week? 

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…

One More Sweater

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There’s something about knitting for babies.  The small scale, the sweet details, the softest of the soft yarn.  And the hope.  The dreams and happy thoughts that you knit into each stitch for the baby as you work.  It’s a very special thing.

With that in mind, I hoped to knit one more sweater for our babe before the holidays, birthdays, and dues dates swept us away in a sea of “where did the time go?”.

I chose this yarn because of the colors, pure and simple.  It is also incredibly, unbelievably soft, perfect for baby.  Each stripe was a pleasure to knit as the soft tealy blues eased from light to dark.  In some light, two adjacent colors looked identical.  Then I’d work on the sweater somewhere else, and the line would be so crisp I’d wonder how I ever thought they were the same.  Hmmm.

This wee sweater knit up pretty fast, and now it waits, in the freshly painted and arranged baby room, for its owner to arrive.  A few weeks to go yet, which means there will most likely be more baby knitting.  Oh yes, I think there just might be more baby knitting.

Yarn: Frabjuous Fibers Cheshire Cat gradient set in Down the Rabbit Hole

Pattern: Sock Yarn Sweater (Child’s Version) by Hannah Fettig (my Ravelry notes here)