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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


This one might have been going somewhere, maybe.


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.


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!


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:


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.)


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.


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.


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.


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.





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



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!

After several weeks of bare needles, I finally have a project going again. (Sort of. That’s about two weeks of knitting, right there…)

It’s a good long project, too; another super wide worsted-weight scarf on size 3 needles. Fast enough to see progress, but also long enough to keep me in stitches for quite a long time, at the rate I’m going. The yarn is Shepherd’s Wool, and has been in stash almost exactly a year – I bought it in Maine last February at the SPA knitting retreat.

This semester has been busier than usual, right from day one. Lots of good things happening, but not much time to breathe. Fortunately, this week my whole schedule suddenly lightened up (combination of a snow day and a Monday holiday), and both days this weekend I’ve actually been able to take a few hours completely off. It came at the best time, too…I have two job interviews for summer internships this week, and really needed the time to prepare and regroup.

I haven’t gotten to the knitting yet, but I’m hoping to squeeze some in there before heading back to the grind.

Also, I randomly got a password reset email for an instagram account that someone set up with my email about 3 years ago (somehow…don’t know how they managed to do that without having access to my email to authenticate). I’ve tried to get onto Instagram several times since then and wasn’t able to, because my email was already in their system. I tried the tech help email route a few times, to no avail. And then, all of a sudden, last night there was a password reset message in my inbox, and I was able to access the empty account. Go figure.

So the upshot is that my little technology snafu seems to have resolved itself, and I am now ericagunn on Instagram. Get in touch if that’s somewhere you hang out!

My game of yarn chicken took a bit of a detour after I wrote the last post. I was pretty sure that I was going to end up with a 30 inch scarf, and also pretty sure that a 30 inch scarf is not very useful. So, I started thinking about things that I could do to modify the design. I pulled out the dressform, and started pinning the scarf on it.



I liked how the brioche rib naturally folded over to make a shawl collar, so I started thinking about making a smaller shawl rather than a full length scarf. I added a little bit of short row shaping at the shoulders, and knit until the scarf was just long enough to join, which gave me this.


(And plenty of yarn left over…there was no danger at all of running out with this version.)

I haven’t worn it yet, because it’s not enough to wear in deep winter, but I’m thinking it could be a handy fashion accessory to keep in the office for the warmer months. And my favorite thing about it is that I think the simple asymmetric fit would be right at home at Steven Be’s, where I got the yarn.

Unfortunately, I seem to have run out of luck with finding projects in the stash to cast on. I’ve tried to start at least three other projects since finishing the shawl a couple of weeks ago, and none of them have made it past the swatching stage. I am sure that there is something worth knitting in there, but it’s not jumping out at me, and I don’t have very many spare brain cells to devote to finding it right now. I really need to find an infinite, mindless project that I can cast on and knit until the end of the semester, but I keep coming up with small projects, because they require less planning. Maybe I’ll try another stash dive tonight, and see what comes up. It’s simply not possible that there is nothing to knit with all this yarn!

And just like that, winter break is over. I haven’t quite gotten over the fact that the new semester starts tomorrow, but here it comes!

I did actually manage to be home and spend some time crafting over the past couple of weeks. The handwarmers are done, and I am trying to decide whether it makes me too crazy to have things on my hands all the time. Having my hands covered up by something I don’t want to get dirty has been more of an adjustment than I’d expected. I’ve never noticed how often I wash my hands, or how much I use my palms and pinky/ring fingers to work, but I am constantly having to stop and take my handwarmers off before I can do things. I’m wearing them anyway for now, and may manage get used to it with time. That would be nice, since they do help to keep my hands warm. For the moment, though, the jury is definitely still out.

I’ve been spending a little time getting reacquainted with my spinning wheel, and I have this lovely pair of silver and gold skeins to show for it.


They really do shine like metal; I have no idea what they are going to be, but it will be beautiful. The gold is a yak/silk blend from Port Fiber that I bought at the SPA knitting retreat last February, and the silver is a yak/bombyx top from Rhinebeck 2013. The fiber was beautiful to spin, and the resulting yarn is very soft. I ended up with 370 yards of the gold and 308 of the silver, in a fingering-weight 2 ply (before washing…we’ll see what happens when it blooms). I’m sure this will turn into something special, when the moment is right.

While I was in the specialty fiber bin, I pulled out the carbonized bamboo that I bought at Rhinebeck that same year. I absolutely love the matte black color of it – a fiber version of graphite – but I’m not quite sure how I feel about the hand. It’s quite a sticky fiber, both to spin and to touch. It’s definitely an unusual feel; sort of a maximally-scaly kind of yarn. It’s not at all itchy or rough (in fact, it feels very soft), and I would be happy to wear it against bare skin (provided that my skin wasn’t too dry).

The spinning fiber has a ton of the tooth that you feel when you run your finger against the scales on your hair, or when you spin a braid from the wrong end, against the direction that it was pulled. As long as you keep the twist securely behind your drafting area, it spins just fine and is very smooth, but even a tiny bit in the drafting zone locks things up fast. I am spinning a modified long-draw, as always, but I’m doing a lot more controlling of twist location with my front hand than I usually do. Still, it seems to be coming out very even, and as I get used to the grip I’m finding that I don’t mind having that little bit of stickiness to work against. It’s been a very interesting contrast to the silk spinning, anyway, and it will be fun to see how it feels in the yarn, and when knitted up. I imagine that this fiber would be excellent if you needed a grippy yarn for something (maybe the palms of my next handwarmers?), but only time (and experience) will tell.

On the knitting front, I have continued my cast-on-randomly approach in an attempt to keep the needles full and get things moving out of the stash. This time, I settled on a skein of Mushi-Ishi that I bought at Steven Be’s when I visited Ellen in Minneapolis way back in 2010. The picture below doesn’t do it justice, but it’s a dark green and brown semisolid single with tweedy bits of white sprinkled in.


I have cast on for at least 3 projects with this yarn, and nothing ever seems quite right. Those tweedy flecks are enough to overwhelm just about any pattern (who’d have thought that such a tiny thing would make such a big difference?), and the dark color means that most details just don’t stand out.

This time, I cast on for a scarf using the same brioche rib that I used in the cowl that I knit earlier in the month. I wasn’t very excited about it for the first couple of inches, but it’s growing on me, and I quite like the feel and look of the fabric in a larger piece.

Unfortunately, the yarn ball is shrinking faster than I’d expected, and I realized last night that I’m a third of the way through the yarn and only a foot into the scarf. So, a change of direction was necessary. I could have ripped back and done a narrower version, but I decided to try for something a little more interesting instead. I added some short row shoulder shaping, and am now working toward a very short capelet/wrap with a folded-over collar.



So far, it’s fitting my dress model very well, and I’m hopeful that there will be enough yarn to finish it off. No idea if I’ll ever wear such a thing, but a finished garment is a finished garment, and there’s nothing like a little yarn chicken to start off the new year…


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