How to use speckles

I fall in love with skeins.  This is fine, because I basically decorate with yarn, and I consider my entire home my “studio.”  But sometimes the challenge is figuring out the next step in the yarn’s lifecycle.  And you know that what is irresistible in skein format doesn’t always make for a delightful finished product.

Solutions abound, and fortunately yarn dyers and clever designers often design to explicitly to incorporate these contemporary dyeing techniques.  Such is the case with the speckles trend, which is still going pretty strongly as far as I can tell.

Prim Hey Lady Hey
A skein of Hey Lady Hey’s Classic Sock in colorway “Prim”

Hot pink is what I fell in love with, and I didn’t want it to be lost on my feet, inside boots all winter, subject to the vagaries of hard feet and hard footwear.  The natural go-to in this situation is “neckwear,” like a cowl or scarf, or maybe something larger, like a stole or shawl.  But how many shawls does a woman need?  (I know, none of this is about “need,” is it?)  And is that much hot pink really flattering right next to my face?

What I lacked was a collection of layerable garments, such as lightweight cardigans, so I designed this striped stockinette piece to fill that lacuna.  The dark “Presley” colorway from Hey Lady Hey cuts the beautiful brilliant pink, and I think makes it look appealing.  There are so many other interesting colors in the speckles that the visual interest remains, and “Presley,” while not speckled, is also not a solid, giving the sweater more depth than your run-of-the-mill French striped jobby.

Hot Pink sweater

Except for managing the striping row-count, this project is really a lazy person’s dream.  You may even see a pattern for it soon.  Basically it is a top-down cardigan with a stylized crew collar in garter stitch, with matching cuffs and button band.  There is a little bit more to it than that, but not much.  If you’re bored with stockinette and can’t get into a zone while binge-watching, this is probably not a good project for you.  But if you’re anything like me and enjoy the meditative aspect of concentrating on your hands (not in an overly challenging way), rather than your chatty brain, then maybe you’d like to try it.

If you’ve made it this far and are interested in test-knitting for me, leave me a comment and I’ll contact you soon!

How do you like to use your speckled yarn? 

Xenon

Xenon is the name of this colorway of Freia laceweight ombre, and I’m using it as the working name for this shawl pattern.

Finally after all the ripping back, I have the finished object!  This was a fun and challenging knit, as most of these pattern rows are worked in lace, including the wrong-side rows.

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I was working out the final lace pattern chart on the airplane, where I had conveniently not stashed my sketchbook, so I ended up charting Barbara Walker’s written instructions for this double motif, “Shetland Twins,” on a copy of the flight menu.

This time, I used blocking wires to block this shawl.  It was much more efficient than my usual pinning technique, and while I am still debating about adding the extra give in the top edge, it turned out neater with less effort than previously blocked triangular shawls.

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Now it’s time to pull it all together – including charting the second motif that I ended up inventing because the stitch count for the one I chose for some reason wasn’t working out.

It is in the low 90s here this week, so this light-as-air garment is the heaviest thing I can imagine working on!

What do you like to work on in the heat of summer? Or do you put your crafting aside for other pursuits? 

Skeleton Cardigan

I finished Version #1 of this sweater a year ago, but I decided to re-work it for two reasons:

  • The short-row collar I designed can be improved, and I have worked out improvements on a subsequent project.
  • The beautiful lace design doesn’t show up well on this kettle-dyed yarn, even though the yarn didn’t appear to have so much variation when it was still in a skein.

So this blue version of the cardigan is permanently in my sweater rotation.  AND I will be embarking on a version of it in Mirasol Sulka that still has a heathered appearance but takes care of the variegation problem.

My goal is to make the new version as my Rhinebeck sweater (I’ve never been, since I lived much closer to SAFF, but I’m going this year!) and debut the pattern in October.

Here are the specs on the original version.

Yarn: Malabrigo sock

Colorway: Azules

Needles: US2 and US4

Reference: Arctic Lace by Donna Druchunas

Ravelry project link: Skeleton Cardi

Gradient shawl in progress

I’m ignoring the loose loopy-ness on my pink gradient shawl that I showed you a couple of days ago, assuming it will work out in the blocking, and forging on ahead with a lace design.  Here is what it looked like before I frogged some of it. The top stitch pattern didn’t look right, but I ended up with the same results again, so I have modified the stitch pattern to suit my needs.

This photo depicts one and a half lace stitch patterns here, inspired by Barbara Walker’s A Treasury of Knitting Patterns, but modified from their originals to suit my stitch-count purposes.  Whenever this design turns into a pattern, I will be charting them, because as you know, knitters fall into two camps, but we ought to all be in the charted lace camp!

Do you prefer charts or written directions?

Frogging blues

I got into a gradient groove and pulled out my “Xenon” colorway of Freia Ombre Lace, which I loved when I knitted the Dew Drops Shawl a couple of years ago.

The idea I had was to use the construction of my Lunar Eclipse shawl to make a laceweight version, and with this yardage, I would have a larger product and more options to develop a wider edging.  But this yarn does not want to be a garter stitch crescent shawl.

It turns out that the method I used for increasing, which doesn’t include adding any give at the ends of the rows, works in a heavier weight smaller shawl to create that crescent shape.  But when I tried to add a number of additional rows, given this yarn is three times the length (or more) of previous versions, the inner curve becomes too circular.

Maybe this is an interesting design element to explore, but it wasn’t working for me, so I frogged the shawl.  I think I have frogged it three times so far.

So I switched to a traditional triangular shawl construction that I plan to knit in stockinette with a lace edging.  When I worked the Dew Drops Shawl, I had no problems with the final result, having used the prescribed method* for adding yarn give on the edge so there isn’t unnecessary pull fighting with the shape when blocking.

This time around, though, the result seems to be extra loose and loopy.

This needle is a size up from the one I used before, but the result should still be proportional.  Over the weekend, I pulled my needle out of this false start, but then I reconsidered, picked up the stitches again, and for now I am plugging along.

What will this shawl’s fate be?  Uncertain so far.  I’d like to add my own lace edging and pop out another pattern.

*The secret is using a yarnover at the beginning of every row, then dropping it before working the remaining stitches.

What is your go-to shawl construction?

I’m lichen it!

I come from a family of punsters, so even though I probably could help myself, I shamelessly choose not to.

This project didn’t even last me until the true start of my vacation.  I finished it as I was stepping off the plane in Porto, since as is typical for me, I stayed awake through three movies instead of going to sleep.

(I mean come on, it’s only a six-hour flight, which is barely enough time to get settled and fed and watch some media before they want you to eat breakfast! I usually do the less than smart thing and stay awake until the last 30 minutes of my trans-Atlantic flights.)

This time around, after frogging my first attempt and deciding to orient the colors in the opposite direction, I achieved the intended result.  [Blocking still needed…]

Pattern: Lunar Eclipse

Yarn: Freia Ombre Sport

Colorway: Lichen

Ravelry project page: Lichen

Notes: I pushed the envelope to get the most out of this gradient yarn as I could, so I added four or five ridges on to the written pattern instructions before beginning the initial edging triangle.

Lunar Eclipse

Today is the 2nd anniversary of the release of my Lunar Eclipse pattern!  It is exciting to have designed something that over 850 people favorited, and almost 800 people have downloaded.  I know there aren’t many FOs up on Ravelry, but the pattern is out there.

This week I picked up a ball of Freia Ombre Sport from my stash pile and asked myself why I hadn’t knitted with it yet.  A while back, I knitted this shawl and had wanted to do it in the Lichen colorway, but it wasn’t available.  I love the South Beach colorway as well, but Lichen was speaking to me, so I purchased the sport weight and let it marinate in my stash for a while.

Having knit this yarn up into Lunar Eclipse a couple times already, it may seem silly to do another one, but it is so quick and fun!  This time, I had to follow my own instructions, since it has been a couple of years since I designed it.  That was an interesting experience to be sure, finding out whether I understand my own instructions.  So far, so good.

The Brisket Cable has been neglected in my versions of this scarf so far, so this time I’m making sure to include it.

Happy July 4th!

  1. Pendant Stole
  2. Garden Shawl
  3. Fountain Pen Shawl

 

I don’t have anything special planned for today, and it has been a particularly wet weekend here, so I haven’t joined any of the community outdoor activities either.

But I began watching the “John Adams” miniseries, and while I don’t often feel particularly patriotic, the luxury of living in a free nation I suppose, it makes a big difference to watch a version of history that makes it real.  I feel more connected when I can connect to historical figures through their characters as they are represented on the screen, and to understand the reality of their daily circumstances in the months and years leading up to independence from Britain.

Of course, every account, especially one presented on the screen, is biased and fictionalized to some extent, but I believe that we can learn a lot from fiction, too, and many fiction writers write to teach and to convey a message.  In this case, it is to understand in a way that allows me to put myself in the shoes of some of these historical figures the reasons that they needed to express in a document the truths they held to be self-evident.

Having lived in countries in which people are less free, I know the struggle is important.  In this day and age, we as Americans are still struggling to ensure that these truths, about the rights of humans, that our forefathers held to be self-evident, are manifested in each citizen’s reality, regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, gender, religion or sexual orientation.

So it seems a little disingenuous to me to say “Happy” July 4th, but perhaps “July 4th observed and the struggle continued” is more appropriate to echo my sentiments.  Not as catchy, I realize…

Are you celebrating the 4th?  How are you connecting with the historical significance of the day?

 

One skein of Freia Handpaints Ombre Sport will get you…

I’ve knitted a shawl and a couple of diagonal scarves in Freia Handpaints that will appear here post-blocking, and now I tried the Ombre Sport for the first time with the Lunar Eclipse pattern.

I think this is the sixth version I’ve knitted so far, and the first one with shifting color.  The arc gives it the familiar stripe going in one direction, shifting from top to bottom, and the edging turns that perpendicular so the shifting color direction is more side to side (sort of – with a crescent shape, all bets are off, as anyone that has tried to drive around New Orleans without a map can tell you!).

Here is a gallery of photos of the hottest off the needles Lunar Eclipse!

 

 

 

Lunar Eclipse – free pattern download!

Over the past few months, I’ve been working off and on on this pattern, Lunar Eclipse, which has been a really fun exercise in what to do with one skein of luxurious yarn.

From the Mountain asked me to design something with a skein of their worsted weight cashmere, which is hand-spun in a fair-trade agreement with Afghan women.  The stuff is beautiful.  It is a soft, two-ply fiber in a variety of natural colors, including ecru, grey, and several shades of brown.

The final result was this initial offering:


 

And then Abby asked me to add two additional edgings:

You could add your own edgings to this template – we’ve offered it in three charted patterns, two originally from Barbara Walker and one from Book 4 of The Stitch Collection by Lark Books.

This is a free Ravelry download, so feel free to share, and please post your final project photos!