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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.

Well, here we are a year later, and I don’t have much knitting to show for myself. Certainly no finished objects, though there has been something of a proliferation of unfinished objects since I finished grad school in May.

From November to May, this scarf was the only project that I worked on. It is beautiful and I love the yarn (Blackberry Ridge from when we lived in Madison), but 6 months is a really long time to work on just one scarf, and I have to admit that I’m rather sick of it at the moment.

And then I had a two week sleep reset thingy that I had to do, which plunged me into darkness for 16 hours a day just after I graduated. To preserve sanity and allow for knitting in the dark, I cast on for a big garter stitch rectangle. (Sorry for the awful pics…today we’re going with the better done than perfect philosophy…) And yes, it is still waiting for its ends to be woven in, 5 months later. Why do you ask?

I really liked the way that worked out, so I cast on for a second one for a cross-country road trip this summer. That one fizzled to a stop when we got back from the trip and I discovered that it’s too big to fit in my bag. It’s really just a few evenings of knitting at home time, but, well…

And then I had a conference to go to in August, right after our road trip out to the Midwest, where I bought a couple of skeins of Juniper Moon from Darn Knit Anyway while hanging out with Ellen for a few days. They were beautiful, and fine gauge, and seemed the perfect option for a week with 7 hours of seminars a day. I had originally planned to just make a huge garter rectangle, but then I realized that I didn’t have enough yarn to make the size I wanted. And so, it morphed. The way things do. 

The current version looks something like a manta ray all laid out like that, but it’s really sort of a cross between a shawl and a poncho. Those green stitches on the holder needles are going to get picked up and knit into a shawl collar when the rectangle part is done.

Unfortunately, I seem to have had a slight change of gauge somewhere around the middle of the project, and the yardage calculations I made didn’t quite hold. I’ve been playing yarn chicken all week, but had to bite the bullet yesterday and admit that I wasn’t going to make 100 rows (even very short ones) with 5 g of yarn.

And so, we ran out to Yarns in the Farms in Beverly, and picked up another skein of the dark gray. I know the fate of single skeins in my stash, so I also picked up a raspberry sort of color to go along with it. Because I’m going to have something like 93 grams left when I’m finished with the manta ray project, and we wouldn’t want it to turn into the immovable stash category.

I also picked up a couple of skeins of ShiBui Silk Cloud. The white and the teal were given to me several years ago now, and I’ve pulled them out a million times to try to knit with them, and it just wasn’t quite working for me. I don’t do much with white, so I’m hoping that the other colors will help pull it a little closer to my usual color range and get the wheels turning. Hopefully adding two more skeins will help to get the other two out of the stash a little sooner. Or something. At least that’s what I’m telling myself…

So that’s it. And I’m back! Today, anyway, and I hope going forward. Things haven’t really slowed down since graduation, but I’m hoping to find a bit more knitting time in the moments in between. By the looks of it, it seems I may need to find some finishing time first!

I’ve been knitting along on the body of the O-wool sweater, happily inching along on those tiny, tiny stitches. I’m almost to the arm split now, getting ready to almost double my stitches and begin the colorwork yoke. As I’ve gotten closer, a wee small voice in the back of my brain has been shouting ever more insistently that these are not the right colors.

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I bought this yarn at Rhinebeck two years ago, and started thinking about how to knit it up right away. It took a few months to get started, but in January of 2015 I did some swatching, trying to figure out the design. (The photo of the skeins at the beginning of that post is a little more true to the actual color; we’re having a gray week, and these colors were the best I could get for today.)

I don’t think I ever posted a photo of the colorwork swatch; there was something about it that just wasn’t working. I thought it was just the patterns that I was playing with, and hoped that with time I’d find something that worked. But I couldn’t quite work it out, and the sweater languished for another year and a half as a result.

And then, this summer I needed an infinite project small enough to take on the bus. I decided to just cast on and get started, without worrying about the colorwork. I had enough time to figure it out before I got there, and it would be easier to make up once I got started. I picked a bottom-up yoke construction to give me the whole body to think, and have been knitting merrily along.

Except that now I’m about to split for the sleeves, and suddenly I need a plan. The closer I’ve gotten to needing that plan, the more sure I’ve been that the two blue skeins just don’t work with the purple, green, and brown in the way that I wanted them to. They’re really, really close to amazing in some lights, and in others they just don’t work at all. I’ve been fighting it for weeks, trying to convince myself that it would be fine, but this week I broke down and went shopping for more colors.

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I added a darker green (Fowler’s toad), an almost-yellow (Paw paw), an offwhite yellow (Trillium), and a beige skein (Cattail) to my collection. It was the bright green (Arrowgrass) yarn that I first built the project around, and I really love how the dark green backs it up. I was surprised that I was attracted to the yellow, and thought at first that it might be too much, but I think it will add a nice bit of pop along with the other colors. I was thrilled to have the option of mini skeins for a few of the colors; I hardly need 400 yards of a minor accent color, and it was really nice to be able to add a few more colors for a little less cost.

Between the mini skeins and a sale on a couple of the colors, I was also able to add in a few more backups that may or may not find their way into this project. I got a mini skein of a light teal (Boreal Bluet), and full skeins of an orange (Salamander) and a dark teal (Devil’s Pool), which I love.

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I really like how the fabric is knitting up, and these colorways really speak to me. I would definitely consider a full sweater in Salamander, Devil’s Pool, Fowler’s Toad, or the dark brown (Black Bear) that I had from the first purchase, so I imagine that there will likely be a lot more O-Wool in my future, provided that the yarn wears well.

I still have no idea what I’m going to do with the colorwork, but I certainly have some fun options to choose from, and I’m feeling much better about the entire project now that I’ve resolved to change the colors up a bit. I am trying to decide whether to come up with a plan before I get started, or whether to just dive right in. I do like feeling my way along in a project sometimes, but at about 700 stitches a round (in the widest part of the yoked section), ripping back will be painful if I don’t like how it comes out. Still dithering on that one, but at least I have a few more rounds to figure it out…

So much for posting more regularly, huh? June and July were a bit of a whirlwind, and now suddenly we’re half way through August. There has been some knitting time in the weekend, which is mostly represented by additional inches on the O-Wool sweater.

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I’ve just started the bust increases, and am going to have to make some decisions about the colorwork yoke soon. I’m a little concerned about gauge; either my swatch lied, or something about knitting in the round has tightened it up a bit. It’s within the range where it could stretch to the desired size with blocking, but I tried it on the other night and was a little worried about the fit. That hasn’t stopped me from knitting blindly along, but I’m hoping not to have to rip back on a project of this gauge (11 sts/in).

Last night, I picked up my current big-gauge project and finished up all but the cast off.

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The rainbow shawl has been all-but finished for about a month now; it’s blocked and has been worn around the house a fair amount, but it’s still waiting for those ends to be woven in. I’m not sure that I’ll wear this out of the house often, but I do really love how the colors worked out.

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My internship is wrapping up in the next couple of weeks, and then the new semester starts in September. Seems like summer is all but finished, too.

This week has been all about blues and grays – one skein of Mushishi, and a navy blue Cascade. Same shaping as the Drachenfels shawl, but a very different feel with an allover stripe.

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At first, I didn’t think I’d like the stripes – the two yarns seemed too similar to work well. But, as I knit on I found the lighter parts of the skein, and I found that I really liked the pairing of subtle variations with a single, constant color. It’s hard to go wrong with blues and grays.

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The purple and rainbow shawl has been slow in starting, in part because I am dithering about what to do. It’s hard enough for me to knit a simple pattern once, never mind three times in a row without changing something significant. And, one of the reasons that this skein ended up in deep stash was that I wanted it to be something “special.” (Too nice to be used up, and so it never gets used…).

I spent some time this week sketching around with some swatches. Trying to switch up the shaping turned into a lot of short rows.

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Which made a few interesting shapes as I knitted my way through a few iterations.

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This one might have been going somewhere, maybe.

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But I finished the blue shawl this afternoon, and tomorrow is Monday, so new knitting is more important than fancy knitting. I do have a tickle at the back of my brain that says short row rainbow wedges would be fun, but for now, I’m going with stripes.

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I’m not sure how I feel about it yet – this is the most blindingly bright end of the skein, but I’m hoping it will balance out a bit when the calmer colors come in. We’ll see how it goes. If I don’t love it, I’m not afraid to rip, and this way I still have knitting to start the week.

We’ve had terrible photo weather around here lately, but I did convince the dressform to do some modeling for me. Lots of color around here these days!

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I’m still puttering away on the green scarf, but I wanted a smaller project to take on the plane when we went to Florida a couple of weeks ago. I bought a pattern and threw a couple of balls of yarn in the suitcase the night before our trip, and now I have a new shawl:

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The pattern is Drachenfels by Melanie Berg, just a simple garter stitch shawl with some interesting color patterning. It’s knit out of 3 skeins of Sebago from Knit One Crochet Too that I bought for the project, one skein of yarn from Straightfork Farm in the Gold Rush colorway (bought at Twinset Summer Camp in 2013), and a skein of my own handspun carbonized bamboo, plied up sometime this spring. On size 6 needles, it whipped up really fast, and then it grew by another 60% when I blocked it (that’s alpaca for you…). It was interesting that the alpaca slipped and grew immediately once wet, but the carbonized bamboo took some coaxing to stretch to the same gauge. Different textures, different behaviors. It’s about 5″ along a side, so it’s a pretty generous shawl.

I was a bit put out with the triangle’s hypotenuse: I made a point to leave some extra give in the edge stitches, but the increases called for in the pattern make for a very tight, inflexible edge that didn’t stretch well at all. You can see that it’s still slightly puckered in the photo above, and that was after serious stretching while wet  – it looks worse in person. It does bother me that the edge gauge is so different than the rest of the shawl, but I don’t think it will show up when worn. Still, if I were to knit this pattern again I would absolutely choose a different increase technique.

The drape of the fabric is really nice, and I absolutely love the color. I am not usually a yellow person at all, but I fell in love with this skein when I saw it, and I like it even better offset by the black and charcoal gray. I hope to take a modeled shot that does it justice one of these days, but in the interests of posting, best to go with what’s on the camera now.

I only have another 6″ or so to go on the green shawl, so I am perilously close to being out of knitting again. Lest I break this run of actual project progress, we made a run up to Coveted Yarn this morning in search of new supplies. I started my summer internship two weeks ago, and promptly realized that my dressy office wardrobe is mostly blue, and almost none of my current knitted wardrobe seems to match. I’ve kind of wandered off into the purples and oranges in the past few years, and haven’t refreshed the blue department very often lately.

I picked up a skein of Mushishi in blues and grays and some Cascade 220 in navy blue to make another mindless garter stitch shawl. (Quick knitting and mindless is about where I am right now, and garter stitch fits the bill.)

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I also got some purple Cascade 220 to go with these bright gradient skeins that I hand spindled in Germany in 2009. I haven’t decided 100% on the final project for this one yet, but at the moment I’m thinking it will also be another garter stitch shawl. Easy to get off the needles quickly, and maybe by the time I finish this one I’ll have come up with a more adventurous project for the summer.

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So, there you have it. One shawl done, two almost begun. It seems I have not forgotten how to knit, after all.

My last class of the semester was on Monday…I’m officially half way through the MFA program! (Time flies, and all that…). I’ll have to do a quick “what I’ve been doing while I haven’t been knitting” post one of these days, but for now, let’s stick with the yarn.

I’m a little more than halfway through the shawl that I cast on in February. I did about 6 inches in February, 4 in March, and the rest of it one weekend in April when I just couldn’t make myself work on programming any longer.

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I love the texture of the stitch pattern; it’s a diagonal version of a basketweave knit-purl pattern that I found in a Japanese stitch dictionary. Sometimes it looks almost like hexagons, sometimes like squares or diamonds, and sometimes like cables.

I just realized that I actually have two balls of yarn left for this project, but I think I’ll probably only use one. I debated going an inch or two wider, but held back to make sure I had enough yarn. Now I’m kind of wishing I hadn’t. I don’t think it will need the extra length, but we’ll see how it goes. I really love the yarn, so it won’t hurt to have an orphaned skein around.

We’re leaving for a trip to Florida to visit family on Friday, and I really only have today to get ready for the trip. With the shawl in it’s current mammoth state, it’s not exactly convenient to carry around (6  250 g skeins of yarn can start to get heavy, and it now takes up my whole bag…). So, I started looking around for a new project that could go along.

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I’ve been wanting to pair this sunshiny yellow from Straight Fork Alpacas with a charcoal gray ever since I got it. I think that the carbonized bamboo that I plied up the other night might work, and I pulled a couple of other candidates from the stash as well.

I’m currently thinking Drachenfels by Melanie Berg – enough that I bought and printed out the pattern. I don’t really have time to think or plan on this one, so it’s probably best to just grab something off the shelf, and I love the modern look of her design.

I’m not sure about either the black or the beige yarn in the photo. If I’m working strictly from the stash, it’s the best that I have on hand; I’d like a little more gray in the beige, and a little less weight in the black. The black is a beautifully lustrous alpaca that I bought at Alpacapalooza while we were in Seattle, so it’s been in the stash for something like 8 years. I love it, but it’s made from the alpaca breed that has no bounce to it (I can never remember which is which), and it makes for a very dense and heavy skein. A shawl could be a good use for it, because I don’t have to worry too much about it holding its shape in the garment, and garter would be a good stitch base for a flaccid yarn. Still, but I’m a little worried that so much weight and slippery alpaca combined might make for a shawl that won’t stay on, and that would mean a shawl that I don’t wear.

So, we’ll have to see about those. Fortunately, I think I can probably just start at the other end of the shawl, and make the final call later. A fingering weight medium gray and black can’t be all that hard to find.

With that, I’m off, but I hope to be back again before too long!

Yesterday, my friend Teresa came by to pull me out of my studying cave for a few hours. We went to her friend Carolyn’s house, where we made these fine works of art.

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Then, we chopped them up and applied some of her beautiful stamps to the painted backgrounds, and we made these:

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Aren’t they fun? I love how the watercolor works in the background, and how “professional” those sloppy paintings ended up looking.

This was a fun exercise in roughness for me. I was introduced to that term last semester in one of my classes; a man named Christopher Alexander created a list of 15 principles of beauty, and roughness was one of them. I summarized it in my final project this way:

“Roughness is a characteristic of natural environments. It is created with a sense of freedom and abandon, and is an elegant solution to the question of how to fit regular items into irregular space. By breaking mathematical regularity, roughness allows misalignments and imperfections to coexist with pattern, and creates a more dynamic piece.”

I do really love symmetry, but most of the time am more drawn to organic, natural feeling work. Still, it’s sometimes hard for me to break the regularity of a pattern and introduce roughness that is unplanned. This project was fun because we worked the other way around; we created a lot of randomness, shuffled it up, and then created order and symmetry working from that. It’s always fun to switch up your work order and see what it teaches you about the creative process. I know I’m excited to have a fun new tool for playing with random elements!

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