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!