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.

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)!

Cowl the Midwife

 

 

I was lucky enough to meet our midwife through the yarn shop. There’s something about getting to know a person through knitting.  Their habits are like little tells that give you a small insight into who they truly are.  The things we do for a living, the shapes of our families, the hobbies that fill the gaps in our days; these are all things that show others who we are.  But our preferences for color, texture, challenge, craft, perfectionism (or not) somehow take us deeper.

Knowing someone as a fellow knitter first can help make it easier to take your relationship to the next level, whether as friends or caregivers. This is one of the things that helped make the decision to go with a home birth midwife so peaceful.  I had seen Rachel knit. I had seen her with her children in the shop. I had read how she thinks about knitting and life.  There was a connection before she even listened for this new soul’s heartbeat in my belly.

All of this is to say that of course, I had to knit her a thank-you gift.  Midway through the pregnancy we took a vacation to Hawaii, and I brought this shawl along as my travel knitting.  I worked on it by the pool and thought about our growing baby and my dreams for his birth.  Stitches flew off the needles, and as the shawl grew, so did my confidence that the pregnancy was going to go smoothly.

When that shawl was finished and the baby was still a wip, I cast on a cowl for my other midwife.  This one was fast and perfect for my nervous hands as we went through a false-labor alarm and all the feelings that brought on.

Both projects were finished well before Calvin made his appearance earthside.  It felt so nice to be able to make these important women something special with my hands while we waited.  And that is the true gift on knitting: it helps us find peace and calm when the world is doing its best to challenge us, and it helps us show love to ourselves and to others.

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Patterns: Shaelyn shawl {Ravelry notes here} and Ribbed for Your Warmth cowl {Ravelry notes here}

Stitch by Stitch

The first clue of the Westknits Mystery KAL was released this past Friday, and with it a flurry of intense excitement.  I started waiting anxiously on Thursday night to see if the clue would be released at midnight EST (9pm my time). Even though it wasn’t, I was happy to see the update in my Ravelry library Friday morning.  So excited, in fact, that I cast on at work.  Shhh…don’t tell my boss!

Spoiler pic coming up, so stop here if you don’t want to know.

This little fan of knitting is just filled with interesting techniques: attached i-cord edging, short-row shaping, carrying a color up one side, and more. It immediately grabbed my attention and the attention of knitters worldwide; there are over 2,300 projects already!  There has been a lot of photo sharing a discussion in the group about preferred methods of creating short rows, the pros and cons of various color combos, and plenty of general good cheer amongst participants. While I cannot keep up with all the chatter, it is comforting to know that should i have a question there is a pool of knowledge there to help almost instantly.  The joys of a knit-along!

I’m happily knitting along, one stitch and one wedge at a time, hoping to finish my homework in time for Friday’s clue.  And yes, that means all other projects have been sidelined for the time being.

Are you playing along?  Leave a comment and tell us what color combo you’ve chosen!

Mystery Shawl 2012

2011 Westknits KAL

Last year I knit along with other Stephen West fans as we discovered the weekly clues of his first-ever mystery shawl knit-along.  I loved my colors, and was happy with the bold, graphic design.  Something about the pattern and moving at a deliberate pace turned me off after a few weeks, and I was anxious to bind off as soon as the last clue was released.  It’s a lovely little shawl, just a bit too little for my taste.  Not being the sort of knitter to undo and reknit to make it larger, I simply don’t wear it, opting instead to let it hang on a hook with the rest of my hand-knit shawls.  Funny thing, though: as I was looking through the photos, it seems perfectly wearable as a small scarf.  Maybe I’ll dust it off after all!

This year I’m hoping for a different outcome.  Judging from the yardage requirements, this is going to be a generous shawl.  I’ve been daydreaming about this color combination since the Hazel Knits arrived at the shop, and I think it will be a good choice for the knit along.

Swans Island Organic in Seasmoke + Hazel Knits in Electrolyte.

There’s still time to purchase the pattern before the knit along begins on July 13th.  After that, the pattern will not be available for download until after the KAL is finished up.

Will you be playing along?

Secrets and Mysteries

The past week has brought some wonderful mysteries and surprises into my life.  All of them are yarn, sock, and shawl related goodness, which is supposed to be kept somewhat under wraps so as not to ruin the surprise for unsuspecting participants.  So if you don’t want to see this month’s Cookie A. Sock Club yarn, and don’t want to see what Clue #1 of the Westknits Mystery KAL looks like, read no further.

Here is a lovely buffer picture of a mysterious gourd blossom in my garden, a sprout from the compost that I am letting run wild.  Seriously, don’t go past the blossom if you want to remain surprised…

Welcome, curious onlookers!

While at Sock Summit (yes, that again…I’m almost done talking about it, I promise!), I fell hard for the A Verb for Keeping Warm booth.  I had seen their yarn over the winter, and loved  its beautiful color palette, a result of all natural dyes.  This time they had small skeins perfect for multi-color knitting, and I had a real hey day matching up colors for my Westknits shawl.  While there, Cookie A. just happened to be drooling over an acidic yellow yarn dyed with marigold blooms.  I was instantly drawn to the yarn, both because I love yellow and because I think Cookie A.’s taste in yarn is superb.  Suddenly, something inexplicable came over me, and I just had a feeling that she would be putting some Verb yarn in her sock club soon.  Right, Striped Socks?

Sanguine Gryphon Skinny Bugga (left) & A Verb for Keeping Warm Creating (right)

I chose 3 colors of Verb’s Creating yarn for the shawl: Marigold, Barnacle! Matey! and Indigo.  The first clue was a brief but tasty nugget, and Striped Socks and I wound our yarn and cast on the same day (she in the car while I drove us to the beach, I later that evening).  I am loving my color combo and am excitedly working my way through the second clue now.

And then, a few days ago, I got my sock club yarn.  It’s beautiful.  See how this is all coming together?

Am I psychic, or what?

Weekend Widow

I also toyed around with the title: “While the Wife’s Away, the Knitter Will Play” to express what I’ve been up to this weekend. You see, Sweetie is gone hiking with a friend, and while I could have gone along, it’s really hard to knit while hiking a 4,000+ foot mountain. And that’s what I really felt like doing this weekend: knitting and thinking about knitting until I couldn’t wield the needles for a minute more. Then I would switch to crochet.

I’ve been hard at work on my sock, knitting away with focus and the determination to not be pulled away from finishing a pair by another project. I kept at it all through the past few days, turning the heel last night and hoping to finish the gusset this morning.

I still had the urge to start something new, though, so a couple of days ago I went to the stash and pulled out a few of things that were calling me, begging to be worked with. One was the Schaeffer Yarns Nancy that I got in Maine; could you ignore that for long?

I wound it into a ball (nay, 2 balls since the skein comes with almost 700 yards of yarn!) and let it sit until it told me what it wanted to be. Then last night around 10pm, when I would normally be in bed reading, I started messing around with improvising a rustic shawl. I started out in garter stitch with a simple yarn over on each edge, and got a few inches into it before falling asleep. Knitting in bed is a luxury I haven’t really explored before. Do you knit in bed? Will you knit in bed if your sweetheart is also in it?

This morning over breakfast I decided that I didn’t care for the shawl in garter stitch. So I ripped it all out and changed to a garter stitch border, yarn overs, and a stockinette center. Simple, letting the yarn show itself off. I think I’ll call it Grapes of Wrap.

Oop, that’s the purl side…but you get the idea. I’m not sure where this is going, or even if this will be my final decision for this yarn, but I have all day to play with it. Having the house to myself is a pleasure I will enjoy for the day, all the while looking forward to this evening when I will be rejoined by my favorite person.

P.S. I need a little feedback about this new layout. I love the colors and setup, but I’m concerned that the font is too small and light, making it difficult to read. In the above post I put everything in bold; here it is regular. Which do you prefer? Any other suggestions? Thank you in advance for your constructive feedback!