Two posts ago, the title was “Reawakening.” Last time, “Backlog.” And here I am, 5 months later, with another backlog of items that has built up while I’ve been doing things that are not blogging. So, let’s just go ahead and admit that it will probably be a while before the next post, and maybe we can all be happily surprised.

I am still very much in a scarf phase (small project, practical to wear at work, uses stash, don’t have to think much before casting on), though I have branched out a bit from the endless garter stitch in the past few months.

This scarf is a tiny bit on the short side, but I love the color, and it’s all I could squeeze out of 1.5 balls of Hazel Knits Entice (colorway Blacklight) that I bought at Madrona in 2019. The other half ball was used in the gradients scarf from the last post. The color is actually much darker than it shows here; a very rich, deep eggplant that looks almost black in most lights. Definitely happy with how this one came out, even if it took me three tries to get the balance of width and length right (thank goodness for kitchen scales). The stitch pattern is the Openwork Leaf lace from Barbara Walker book #1.

This one was knit with a single skein of Sun Valley Fibers that I bought at The Sow’s Ear just before leaving Madison in 2011: it’s a rare skein that I buy for weaving that ends up making its way into a knitting project instead (usually, it’s the other way around). Artemis insisted on posing with it for the picture. The stitch pattern is Diagonal Spanish Lace, again from BW#1.

Next up is a single skein of handpaint that a friend brought back for me from Michigan this spring. The yarn is called Desmos Sock from Icemelon’s Stash, and the colorway is Spanakopita. It was a nice, cheerful dose of spring while waiting for the leaves to come out (you can see that they’re just starting in the background on this picture). Pattern was Cellular Stitch, again from one of the Walker books.

I’m a little fuzzy on the timing here, but somewhere in the line up was a baby sweater for my cousin’s second: a little girl who just arrived a couple of weeks ago. This was a last-second knit, as we only got about a week and a half notice on the baby shower, which was sometime back in March, when we could still gather and move around in the world. I started from a pattern for the Baby Sideways Cardigan by Rhona Larkin to get stitch counts, adjusted it to be knit all in one piece, and then just kind of made things up as I went along. Yarn is a mix of different things that I found at my LYS: they don’t carry Cascade 220 anymore, so I went with the closest substitute – JoJo something and Berroco Ultra, I think? The original pattern had a skein of handpaint to create stripes, but I didn’t find what I was looking for, so just mixed up multiple skeins for the body section instead. There were a total of 5 different colors in the project, and I just randomly striped the garter stitch sections in the center as I went.

And finally, I just finished this one, another single-skein wonder from the stash. This is a handspun yarn, made from a yak-bombyx mix that I bought at Rhinebeck in 2013 and spun up into yarn in 2016. It had a companion skein of gold that I thought would be part of the project, but they didn’t play together as beautifully in the swatch as they did in the skein, and so I opted to use just the silver alone. The stitch pattern is a diagonal trellis from one of my Japanese stitch dictionaries. The photos don’t really capture the shine, but the silk makes this look almost metallic in some lights.

I have (surprise) another scarf started on the needles, but it’s not really far enough along to say much about it yet, so I think I’ll leave that one for the next post.

There has been a bit of a resurgence in crafting around here lately, but that doesn’t appear to translate to a resurgence in blogging. So, there is something of a backlog.

I posted before about weaving off the rug warp that’s been on my loom for 4+ years. It turned into 4 rag rugs for my sister, who bought her first house this summer. It appears that I failed to take a picture post-hemming, but here they are, all rolled up under the tree.

The other loom had a towel warp in matching colors. As things go when crafting on a deadline, I thought there was just one towel left at least 4 times, but the warp just kept on going. I almost never weave the exact same towel twice; I prefer to mix things up and make “siblings” rather than sets. So, there’s a little of everything in there: 9 different patterns from the same (plain weave) warp.

The twisted rib sweater is coming along, in fits and starts. I’m making up continuous set in sleeves as I go, and am learning some things about shaping shoulders this way. I ripped back by more than a ball once already to even out a color transition, took a break, and then made it back to the collar for what I hoped would be the last time, but the shoulders are somewhere between puffed sleeves and military epaulets at the moment, so there will be more ripping soon (probably tonight), and then possibly another break in between.

The last break in sweater knitting was a productive one, at least. Yet another garter stitch scarf practically fell off the needles in between. The color blocks are a set of mini skeins from Schmutzarella, which I bought at Madrona last February (I believe the colorway was Colonel Mustard’s Demise). The body and outline colors are Entice from Hazel Knits, in colorways Quill and Blacklight. I think I knit this on a size 4 needle, but couldn’t swear to it at this point.

I’m really pleased with how this one came out (despite the terrible phone photos: we are in the months of permanent darkness here in the frozen north). It’s really a very simple bias garter stitch (start at a corner, knit for a while, change directions by 90 degrees, knit short rows for a while longer, repeat), but it has a lot of bang for the buck. The only painful thing was carrying along 7 balls of yarn for most of the colorwork, since I wasn’t 100% sure how yardage would work out and wanted the option to rip back and redo. Fortunately that wasn’t necessary, and I was able to cut the yarn about halfway through the scarf, which made it much more pleasant to work.

Next up are a couple more scarves (finishing up a skein of the Blacklight, and knitting up some Sun Valley Fibers that I bought back in Madison a decade ago). Those haven’t made it past the concept stage yet, but at least the balls are wound and there’s a hint of a stitch pattern “planned”, so hopefully I’ll be able to keep the momentum going long enough to cover the gap. But first, it’s probably time to go rip back that sweater.

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged (it’s hard to make myself spend an extra minute at the computer right now), but there has been a lot of crafting going on in the background! Not a lot compared to what I used to do, mind you, but a lot compared to the past few years. I finished the Sun Valley Fibers scarf.  Yet another iteration in the seemingly endless line of garter stitch scarves (fast to cast on, easy to design on the fly, and infinitely wearable). I knit it using a size 3, which is the same pair of needles I’ve been using all along, but it came out much, much smaller than the previous scarves before blocking. A lace-level blocking was enough to make it the right size, though, and I’ve worn it several times since. I love the dappled look of the semisolid colors; the different shades vary from brown to sage green, which makes it very versatile.

Even with simple garter stitch, I did have several rip and reknit phases with this scarf. I had 900 yards in the skein, but I overestimated how far that would take me and had to rip back about a third of the scarf when I realized that I was using up my yarn too fast. I also continue to have trouble getting the end of the scarf right; something about the decreases in the last corner of these bias scarves just doesn’t work in my head. I was also playing yarn chicken at the end of the scarf, trying to squeeze out every last inch of the yarn. At one point, I had about 30 square inches left to go, and looked down at my ball to see this.

My first thought? “you know, I might not quite have enough.” When I was finished laughing at myself for thinking that 4 yards of yarn would knit 60 decreasing rows, I ripped back about 2.5 inches of length, and reknit to the corner again. In all, I think I reknit the last corner 3 or 4 times, but it is now finally done.

Since then, I’ve started working on my first sweater in 3+ years. That’s a really long time, if you consider the fact that sweaters are my favorite thing to knit. I just haven’t been doing enough knitting to make progress on a sweater, and haven’t had the brain space to decide what I want to do. But this fall, I’ve decided to give it a try. I’m using Binge Knit yarn from Three Irish Girls (Stars Hollow) that I bought at Steven Be in Minneapolis in 2017. I had swatched with this yarn a year or so ago, but it never made it out of the stitch-pattern phase.

The swatch is mostly variations on ribbing, some with yo accents, and some with slip stitch cables. There were a couple of broken rib stitches in there as well, but I decided on a mix of 2×2 rib and twist stitch cables. I pulled out the first swatch and knit a much larger version with both stockinette and pattern stitches on size 3 and size 4 needles. The size 3 fabric feels a little stiff when I’m knitting it, but the yarn gets very drapey once blocked, and I think the extra structure will help. The cables also popped a bit more with the more structured fabric.

I did dither a bit about the needle size choice, because this is another case where I might be a bit short on yarn. I have 7 skeins, and I remember talking myself into buying an extra when I was in the store, but my calculations off of the swatch weight say that I may still be cutting it pretty close. I decided to knit the sleeves first, to get a better idea of whether to abort and go back to the size 4s before knitting the whole sweater this time.

I’ve now knit most of both sleeves, and the first few inches of the hem. I blocked it all this week, and tried on the hem part to see if I could remove some more stitches from the body, and it turns out that I can (almost 20%!), so hopefully that will be enough to ensure that I make it to the end without running out of yarn. Fingers crossed, at least.

I’ve also been working on getting some old projects off of the loom(s). Both of them have stood untouched since I went back to grad school 4 years ago, and it’s really high time they were working again. The weekend before last, I finished a set of rag rugs that I’ve been weaving from old jeans. I’m hoping to get them bound and ready to give to my sister for Christmas, since she just bought her first house.

The worst thing you can do is to let the loom sit empty (it’s an inertia thing; as long as something is in progress, you can get things done. If you let it sit idle, it gets harder and harder to start), so I grabbed another project pretty much at random and wound another warp this week, just to get something on the loom. I wound the warp on today, and just need to figure out what pattern I want to weave with it and thread the loom.

I’m using the Valley Fibers Tencel yarn that I buy from WEBs and keep in stock in the weaving stash, in a very plummy purple to go with some skeins of Malabrigo yarn that I apparently bought sometime prior to 2009. I absolutely love the colors, but I have never been able to get them to do what I want in a knitted fabric. They always get too broken up and speckle-y for me. I’ve had this in my “try weaving” pile for years, and have just never gotten around to it. Apparently, today is its day.

I am really hoping that all this activity is a sign that I might be getting back into the swing of things after the massive, multiple interrupts of the past 4 years. We’ll see if it lasts, but at least for now it’s feeling like the momentum is finally, actually coming back.

Back in February, I started a blog post about the Waving Ribs sweater. It was a stash knit, using some Briar Rose Seapearl that I bought back in 2014. It had tried and failed to be many things, but I finally got a stitch pattern I loved with the yarn.

Sadly, by the time I had finished knitting the sweater front, it was clear that I didn’t have quite enough yarn to make a full sweater with long sleeves, and I know from experience that I never use short-sleeved sweaters. And so, I ripped it back, removed a repeat or two, and knit a scarf instead. Six months later, I have a new piece to add to my work wardrobe.

The stitch pattern is one that I worked out myself, though I’m sure I’ve seen it before somewhere. It’s an offset rib, with a repeat of 32 rows. You work one block of 2×2 rib, then one block of 1×1 rib, repeating across a row, and then increase/decrease at the transition rows to switch from one to the other. I knit 16 rows straight, decreased to 2×1/increased to 1×2, knit 8 rows, decreased to 1×1/increased to 2×2, and knit for another 16 rows. The only hard thing about it was making sure that the increase/decreases were worked on the right side of the piece, so that the same set of stitches was increasing/decreasing on the same side of the fabric each time. The pattern pops beautifully in such a shiny yarn.

I did go to a couple of yarn shops looking for the perfect navy blue yarn for the next project (my work wardrobe has a lot of blue in it, and I could use some more accessories in that department), but I didn’t find what I wanted. I’m really trying to focus on knitting from the stash anyway, so I cast on for another simple garter stitch scarf instead. The yarn is a Merino/Cashmere/Nylon blend from Sun Valley fibers (colorway: Canyon) that I purchased back in Madison at a knitting guild meeting (or possibly at the Sow’s Ear…not 100% sure which), making it from 2011 or 2010. Pattern is simple: yet another garter stitch triangle knit from the corner, with a few rows of k2tog/yo eyelets thrown in where I feel like they fit.

I originally bought the skein to mix with a more variegated handpaint in the stash, but I’ve been finding that fairly basic scarves are more wearable, so I kept it simple. I’m loving the color, and it’s knitting up fast (I used size 3 needles for both projects). It’s nice to have a project with some momentum again; here’s hoping I can keep it up!

Madrona was the first fiber festival I went to, a couple of years after I started knitting again (and now 10 years ago). When I heard that this was to be its last year, and that a bunch of knitting friends from all over the country would be gathering for the send-off, I figured it was a thing that I just had to do.

(Also, can I say how nice it is to work a normal job now, and to be able to schedule things like trips to knitting festivals whenever I want, and not worry about whether or not I have to teach on Monday? Whenever I hear someone say that academic schedules are more flexible, I just laugh. I have never been freer to use my time as I see fit than since I left academia.)

And so, a few weeks ago I boarded a plane for Tacoma WA, and hied me to Madrona. As always, I am a terrible documenter of festivals, and I am even worse about people…as someone who doesn’t like having my photo thrown up everywhere, I don’t tend to do it to others, even if they don’t mind. But I did bring home some yarn, and so I took pictures of that.

This is apparently also the last year for Toots LeBlanc, a company that makes angora yarn. I’ve never knit with it or heard of it, but everyone in my group had wonderful things to say and their booth samples were lovely, so I sprung for a few skeins. No idea what they’ll become, but I’m sure it will be beautiful. Someday.

I’ve been kicking around the idea of writing up a few patterns again, and was looking for some yarn of known origin to use for a redux of a garter stitch lace scarf that I knit years ago from some alpaca purchased at the Weaving Works in Seattle. It’s one of my favorite scarves, and I get compliments on it all the time. I bought enough yarn to widen it up a bit, since I’ve been preferring wide shawl-scarves lately. The ladies in the Montana Fiber Works booth were really nice, and I was really happy to support them by purchasing some of their incredibly soft alpaca yarn (color: Peacock).

And finally, I purchased a set of mini skeins for another scarf from the sketch book of endless garter stitch explorations. I wanted to play with having criss-crossing strips of color blocks across a solid body color. The mini skeins are from Schmutzarella Yarns, and are apparently named after the game Clue (I’ve never played…guess that makes me clueless?). I bought Mystery of the Green Peacock and Colonel Mustard’s Demise. I picked up a skein of purple yarn to go with it, just to bring out a bit of the pop. Interestingly, there is no brand name whatsoever on the tag, so I have no idea who I bought this from. It says simply “BFL 4-ply sock” in color “plum.” Guess I’ll have to make sure I don’t run out of that, since there is apparently no way to get more.

I thought I wanted a black yarn for the main color, but after two circuits around the show room I realized that wasn’t what I was going for, after all. A really deep charcoal would have worked well, but there was none to be had. None of the navy blues were quite right, either. And so finally, I settled on an almost-black eggplant color from Hazel Knits. I’ve never knit with her yarn before, but the colors are right up my alley, and I have a feeling that this won’t be the last time that I end up with a few skeins of her yarn. The dark purple is called Blacklight on her Entice yarn base, and I also bought a skein of semisolid artisan sock in Quill. I wasn’t really planning to buy the semisolid, but it somehow had highlights from all the other colors in the set, and so I decided that it was meant to be.

And that’s that. A fun weekend with old friends, met a few new people, did lots of gawking at knitwear, and some fiber shopping. Definitely a good way to spend a long weekend!

Happy New Year, to any brave souls who might still be out there, reading this neglected blog.

My knitting this year has continued in the same vein as the last two: lots of garter stitch exploration. This probably started back in 2016, when I knit a series of garter stitch shawls, and it continues right on up to the present. After the shawls, I knit the manta ray shawl in 2017 from yarn that I bought from Darn Knit Anyway on a trip to Minnesota.

I loved the concept, but the final piece just didn’t work, and so I frogged it. Some of that yarn (plus a couple more skeins of Juniper Moon from Yarns in the Farms – knit on size 5 needles, because someday I will want to know that again) went into a Fibonacci garter stitch scarf, which I finished sometime in the late spring or early summer of 2018. I then ignored the finished piece for about 6 months, but I finally got around to weaving in ends and blocking it last week (it’s the one on the left).

The shawl on the right in the photo above is a combination of Cascade 220 and a skein of variegated yarn from Blackberry Ridge that I purchased when I lived in Wisconsin. I worked on this during our trip to Minnesota in 2017, and the blog informs me that I had almost finished it at the beginning of 2018. I then put it aside and forgot about it until just before Christmas, when I stumbled across it by accident and remembered that I’d intended to give it to my sister (who already has a hat and a pair of fingerless mitts made from the same yarn, and so this makes a nice almost-matching set). I wove in the ends and blocked it just in time for the holiday, and it has now moved on to a more productive life in actual use.

That shawl was the follow-on project to a solid version that I knit in 2017 (Cascade 220 again). I have to say that I like the solids better in this project; they give the garter stitch geometry more space to play, and the final result just feels cleaner to me.

The next project in 2018 was to revisit the yarn from the manta ray shawl. I loved the yarn and the colors, and I didn’t want it to languish forever in the stash. And so, building on what I’d learned from the earlier garter stitch shawls, I sketched up some things.

From there, I went into Illustrator and added some more detail, fussed around with block size ratios, and added color.

After some additional modifications on the needles, those sketches turned into this:

I did my last round of ripping back and adjusting this week and blocked the shawl, so all that remains is to weave in those ends. I am thrilled with how this one came out. I lost count of how many times this yarn was pulled back and re-knit (some sections were probably reknit at least 10 times, all told), and it held up beautifully. It barely fuzzed at all, and it didn’t get sticky and hard to work with. I was thinking about this the other day, and I believe that I have been knitting a project with this yarn almost continuously since I bought the first skein a year and a half ago. It’s been a long journey, but I am very happy to have arrived at this destination, and I’m kind of sad to leave this yarn behind. I definitely think I’ll be knitting with Juniper Moon yarns again.

Garter stitch still feels like about what my brain is up to and I haven’t come close to exhausting the possibilities, so I started sketching up patterns for the next project along the same vein. I bought a few skeins of Dragon Sock from Dragonfly Fibers at Rhinebeck last year (Colors Catelyn and Dragon Wagon), and it has been calling to me from the stash. We went on a trip to a Another Yarn (a LYS close to me) last week, and picked up a skein of Lillian from Dirty Water Dyeworks (color: Topaz) and a few skeins of Staccato from Shibui knits (color: ash) to go along with it. Sketches below, showing the different options I considered (click to embiggen).

There are definitely a few future projects in there, but I picked just a few to riff on a bit more in electronic form:

And here is the first corner of a new project for a new year. Aren’t those colors amazing? I can’t wait to see how this turns out.

Those are the things I’d consider the main projects for the past year or so, but there have been a couple other blips in between. There’s the colorwork hat that I knit to start this year. I love the colors, but I’m not sure about the stitch pattern, and I discovered in the wearing that the gauge is a little looser that I’d like. This may or may not end up getting reknit someday; we’ll have to see what happens.

There was a quick baby blanket for my cousin’s first baby, also knit out of Cascade 220 in garter stitch blocks. I love the way the blocks worked out, but I’m going to have to find a stretchier stitch for blanket joining next time, I think. Still, this would also be a fun thing to revisit someday, and it has a lot of room for iteration.

And finally, there is the fanciest pair of handwarmers that I’ve ever knit. My sister went to Rhinebeck with us this year, and she picked her Christmas present while we were there. She chose a sock-weight rainbow yarn, which I paired with a skein of Trekking XXL that I’ve had in the stash forever (I think this one may actually have been 10+ years…I’m pretty sure that I bought it at the Weaving Works in Seattle just after I started knitting again, in 2007). She wanted them to be gauntlet-length, so I really needed the extra yarn to make the accent skein stretch. I’d have liked a tiny bit more contrast between the background and accent yarn, but she liked the way the colors blended, so I left it at that. I made a swatch with a few different colorwork and slip stitch patterns, and when I showed it to her and asked which one she wanted, her response was “all of them!” So, these are the result.

The sock weight yarn felt a little thin for handwarmers, and the Trekking was just a tiny bit rough on my inner elbows, so I decided to line the handwarmers, thinking that a thin flannel might do the trick. When I went to the fabric store, I ran across some super-soft fake fur and a really stretchy micro fleece, so those made up the inner lining. The hand part has the thicker fur lining, and the micro fleece goes from the wrist to the ribbing, to keep things a little less bulky for wearing under sleeves. I’ve never done lined knitting before, so I kind of just made it up as I went along, and it seems to have worked out pretty well. My sister was delighted with the result, and my aunt has asked for a version as well. I think I might lean toward a DK-weight yarn for the next version, though…the knitting alone took about 24 hours for each hand; dense sock yarn on size 00 needles does not make for speedy knitting!

And that’s it. A year of knitting, in the midst of (apparently) a 3-year garter stitch streak. It will be interesting to see what 2019 holds!

After the endless garter stitch rectangle of my last project, I wanted something quick and easy to throw in between. I also wanted something more exciting than garter stitch. I found a skein of Navy Cascade 220 to go along with the skein of Charleston Merino from Dancing Leaf Farm that I got at Rhinebeck.

I broke my single-skein rule for this one, because how could anyone resist that green? (The first picture is truer to color; not sure what happened with the second one, but I’m going to go with it, in favor of actually writing this post.) The dark blue was just what it needed to set off the brightness of the green, so I cast on a corrugated rib, and let the hat take me where it would. I ended up with a leaf-inspired colorwork theme, though early discussions on Instagram suggest that they might look more like smiley faces. I do think that having stems helps, though.

I am not sure that I’m content with the cast on; I don’t think I like the way that a backwards loop interacts with a corrugated rib. It’s attractive and loopy, but it’s too loose (in my opinion), and tends to get caught on things. So, I may end up doing a little reconstructive surgery to tighten that up a bit, but I’m leaving it for now.

I’ve also been spinning along on another quick project: a few ounces of beautiful alpaca fiber from Jan at Fair Winds Farm. I’m spinning it up fairly fine, to be chain plied to keep the colors separate.

I’m not sure yet what it will become, but I’m having fun spinning it up!

After finishing the hat, I poked around a bit in the stash hoping for another quick little project, but came up empty. (How I can have this much yarn and nothing right for a project, I will never know…). I don’t really have the brainspace for project planning right now, so, back to endless garter stitch rectangles I go.

This is a skein of Juniper Moon Herriot (color: Merlot Red) that I bought to go with the leftovers from the Manta Ray shawl. (That wasn’t really intended to be its name, but it kinda stuck, and I haven’t come up with a better one, seeing as it’s probably getting frogged eventually anyway.)

Unfortunately, the shawl used up more yarn than expected, so I subbed out a skein of a similar weight and color of alpaca leftover from a sweater I knit in 2008. Yay for cleaning out the deep stash!

I sketched up a few different ideas for striping patterns. There’s actually quite a bit you can do with big blocks of rectangles. (Sorry again for terrible photo…seems to be a theme here tonight…)

After much hemming and hawing, I think I’ve decided to go with the last version, starting out with a solid charcoal, and then fibonnacci-sequencing into a solid raspberry over the length of the scarf. I did a quick swatch (size 4 needles, for the record) to test how the yarn weights would play, since they are slightly different in the skein.

And, yet again, I am flummoxed by garter stitch rectangles. Working on the bias, you increase one stitch at each end of a row, which makes a nice, neat corner of 90 degrees. So far, so good. In any universe where geometry works, two 90 degree triangles back to back should give you a straight line across the bottom. And yet.

That swatch above has one increase at the edge, and two in the middle (one for each half of the pair). That really, really should come out to a perfect triangle, but it looked distinctly chevron-shaped in the swatch. After much tugging, I figured it probably should come out in the blocking. But. What if it doesn’t? Even if it blocks nicely, what’s to stop it from pulling back in over time? I wish for a rectangle-shaped scarf, not an elongated chevron.

I’m pretty sure that the reason for the chevron is that I was using a M1 increase, which was pulling up a stitch from the row below. I think that was making my increase column tighter than the rest of the (very loose fabric), and causing it to pull up. So, I ripped back and reknit. This time, I replaced the standard M1 increase with the exact same knitting motions, except that I put a YO in the row below, and then knit in the back loop to close it up. It’s still not a perfect rectangle, but it’s a lot closer to what I’d expect, and this much I can probably get to block out well.

And so, it appears that we are off and running, with another mindless project. Miles and miles of garter stitch, with nothing but a few increases to worry about. Not the world’s most exciting knitting, but I think I’ll like how the final scarf comes out, at least if it’s anything like what it looks like in my head.

Finished plying up the Corriedale braids last night; still need to set the twist, but I have yarn!

I love the color, but the feel is a little rougher than I’d like. Not sure yet what this will be, but it’s one step closer to being used for something, and I’m calling that a win.

Still (not) knitting along on the garter stitch shawl…maybe I’ll get that off the needles this week.

I think that having a sunroom might be good for carding. On a sunny day, it gets up to about 70 in there, and the opportunity to enjoy some sunshine while it’s 14 degrees outside is a nice incentive to actually get out there and make a batt or two. 

Branden picked up some Oxi Clean at the grocery store this weekend, so I did a little washing yesterday, and have some very crisp, crunchy linens as a result. These are pieces made by my grandmother and great-grandmother, from linen made in Italy and sent to the US as a wedding gift for my great grandparents. My mom is cleaning out her attic, and passed them on to me at Christmas.

They’re in pretty good condition, but had some yellowing and staining from years of use. I washed them all over the holidays, but thought that an actual cleaning agent would help. I can’t believe how beautifully they cleaned up! I didn’t take a “before” pic, but this doily had several ancient coffee stains, and now it is bright white again. It was a little odd to be treating fragile, handmade things by throwing them in a pot of boiling water, but they came out really well. I still have some ironing (and a little mending) to do, but I’ll post photos when they’re finished.

Jocelyn kindly reminded me that I should probably actually document the manta ray before consigning it to the knitting scrap heap, so I took advantage of today’s sunshine to take a few photos.

The shawl itself is basically a square knit on the bias, with one corner cut out to leave a front opening.

The green section in the center is a deep shawl collar, which I really love, but which came out far too short in the final execution. I really want the collar to extend all the way down to the waistline, which would involve making the cutout a lot deeper so that the front panels are longer. I’m not sure why the neck hole is so far forward; I had intended for it to be centered, but must have made a mistake somewhere when calculating how many stitches to put on the holder needle, because it’s really about 2/3 of the way to the corner rather than halfway in between.

The back panel, I love. It’s almost exactly what I was hoping for, and I think it would wear really nicely, if the front were balanced to match. I’m pretty sure that I will knit a version of this again, but this one isn’t working…quite. I think it will be a really useful piece of clothing, once I get the details figured out.

2017 has wound to a close, and a new year is just beginning! Good time to update the blog.

Last night, I cast off for this scarf that I finished knitting over a year ago. I thought it was finished, until I pulled it out to wear the other day, and realized that there was still a needle hanging out of it. Everything was done but the bind off, but I wanted to do a 2×2 tubular bind off and needed to look it up online to refresh my memory. It didn’t happen right away, and then the scarf got put aside, then tucked away somewhere, then we moved, and I never made it back to finish it off. Until last night. Half an hour with a tapestry needle, and it’s done. (Except for a blocking and a few ends that need weaving in. Those will happen soon. Really.)

I thought I would (literally) have wrapped up this shawl (that I started back in May) in time for Christmas, but like the last garter stitch rectangle, everything was smooth sailing until the very end, which I reknit 4 times, before finally figuring out that the problem was further back. I ripped back to the last turn this week, and am working forward again from there. It appears to be on the right track this time, at least, so fingers crossed that it actually makes it across the finish line soon.

I also started a little spinning project this week, because it’s been too long. I don’t even remember when I spun last, but the blog says it was January 2016, and I don’t have reason to disbelieve it. Too long, anyway. The project itself is nothing special; I just grabbed a couple of braids from the old shop stash, and am throwing together a probably-DK weight 2 ply. Something fast, small, and easy. About halfway done with the second 4-oz braid.

I spent a couple of hours today out in the sunroom, carding one of the fleeces waiting to be spun (this is a larger spinning project that the short one pushed off in favor of getting something actually done for a change, but I do want to get started on this someday soon. I bought the fleece at Rhinebeck – apparently in 2012, believe it or not. It’s a gorgeous fleece and I’m excited to spin it, but it was a greasy bugger. I thought I had finished thoroughly washing (and drying) the whole thing twice, and as soon as I started carding realized that I needed to have another go. Just before we moved, I pulled apart every single lock in the 7-lb fleece by hand, and soaked them in the washing machine for a few more rounds (the washing machine is now in storage until we move again, so there was a hard deadline). It appears that the fleece is now actually clean, so hopefully that will mean more spinning soon. Next step is the carding, though. Today, I got a couple of batts done. I’m imagining that this will be an all-winter kind of project, but it was nice to be in the 80 degree sunroom while it’s 10 degrees outside. I forgot to take a photo. Imagine batts of brown wool here.

I finished and blocked the manta ray back in November, but I haven’t woven in its ends yet. I like the idea of this garment, but it doesn’t quite work in this particular execution (needed slightly more length, especially in the front section), so I’m considering ripping it out and doing something else. I love the yarn too much to leave it languishing for years in a project I never wear. So, one of these days when I’m feeling ambitious I’ll have a frogging party and return it to about 1200 yards of beautiful alpaca yarn.

I think that’s it. I’m sure there’s something else, but it will have to wait until next time. Which will, hopefully, be relatively soon.

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