I’m a winner!

While I am 100% owning my two blue ribbons and my three red ribbons from this past weekend, I will say that I expect our local knitting guild to up the ante for next year.  The woman that accepted my entries told me they used to have a hundred afghan entries.  Maybe we can make that happen again.  The premiums for this fair are very modest, but there was no entry fee, and next year I’ll enter more than five items.  I think I earned enough to fund my one day at the fair!

Ravelry links to the above projects:

  1. Hot Pink Cardigan
  2. Fly Away
  3. Xenon
  4. Bouncy
  5. NYC

Ball Winding Party for KAL kick-off!

Over the weekend, our local guild started our Find Your Fade knitalong, and we decided to kick it off with a ball-winding party.  I volunteered to host, which is always a good excuse to straighten up the house, and we popped open some bottles of wine and made an evening of it.  We had three swift / winder sets going at my dining room table and I figure around 20 cakes of yarn wound during the evening.  I’m told it was a success!

I neglected to take any photos at all, so I borrowed these from Kim:

And then I was feeling inadequate with only four colors selected, so I added two more, and put this sequence together:

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Some of these speckles have been sidelined for a while and need to see some action.  Also, I don’t know what else to do with them – they are so fun, and looked great in the skein, and I always have that problem of caking them and asking myself, now what?

If you’re curious about any of the yarns in the last photo, they are all recorded on Ravelry under my Find Your Fade project.

How do you decide what to do with a pretty, pretty skein of speckled or striping yarn?

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

Ravelry project link: Hot Pink

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? 

LYS: Ovelha Negra, Porto, Portugal

I visited this shop in late June and am only now starting to sift and catalog all my photos from my Portugal trip!  Even though I learned some Portuguese last year, I had to look up the meaning of the shop name, Ovelha Negra, in English, which is Black Sheep.

(Notice some knitter’s male partner waiting outside?? Heehee!)

The one-room shop is located in a well-trafficked area populated with other fun shops and restaurants.  Inside, I was mesmerized by all the colors and gradients lining the walls.

Because I have such a large stash, I was trying to focus on something special from this shop and/or from the region.  Ovelha Negra has several of its own yarn lines, and carries a few other commercial brands.  The shop owner shared several samples with me as I agonized over my selections, and the drape and hand of these yarns were fabulous.

The sample she showed me of Isabell Kraemer’s “A Girl’s Best Friend” in a rich goldenrod, light heather grey, and natural ivory in her “Victoria” single-ply wool yarn.  This yarn is 100% Portuguese wool, and the primary yarn in her shop that is Portugal-sourced.  The result was a substantial but not too heavy garment that looked as though the design were made for this yarn.  There is a photo of the finished object on the shop’s website, and it looks even more vibrant in person.  I was smitten, and some of this yarn would have come home with me if they had had that beautiful gold color in stock.

I’ve been thinking about designing shawls and stoles that incorporate interesting color transitions and a mix of lace and textured stitch patterns, so that was the driving force behind my selections.  This group is Amélia yarn, which is 100% merino, and I was thinking about denim / indigo shades when I selected these.

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This group of Olívia shades will be some sort of experiment in light/dark of these two color families.  It is a 2-ply blend of 55% merino and 45% cotton.

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And this group of Ofélia cakes was to indulge my love for pinks and greens together.  Ofélia is 100% wool from Ireland.  This yarn especially had so many colors and shades that I agonized over my choices for a Long. Time.

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My somewhat extensive purchase was packaged up in this adorable tote bag!

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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?

 

Dew Drops Shawl in Freia Handpaints Ombre Lace

Process knitter is the term people use for someone like me, I guess: I love to knit, but sometimes the finished product is not the motivation.  So, at any given time, I have 5, 10, or 20 projects on the needles, all in different stages of completion.  Over the past few months I have not been very disciplined in completing projects that were not intended for special events or holidays, but I’ve been on a tear recently to make some projects that had reached the bind-off stage actually wearable.  This past week has resulted in the blocking of four projects already, and there is a fifth underway.

Today I want to show you the project that made me fall in love with Freia Handpaints laceweight.  Originally I saw the Dew Drops Shawl worked up in the lichen colorway at Looped DC.  Sadly for me, Lichen was not available, so I chose South Beach instead.

 

Ravelry project link

I really love how this turned out.  The yarn feels magnificent, stretchy and cozy all at once, but also substantial: I’m not worried about wearing this shawl out and about because I know it can stand up to the wear.  It won’t have to be a special occasion item.  There was so much stretch that I could have taken the top border beyond the edges of my blocking board if I’d had the space.  As it is, the top edge is about 68″ across, and the point of the triangle is deep enough to cover my back, which will be fantastic for any trips to drafty or high-AC restaurants.

As I was knitting, my cat spent a lot of time with me.  I would gaze into his eyes to reassure him of my love – because after 11 years, he’s still a little insecure at times – and I realized that this colorway mirrors his face.  He has an orange-pink nose, blue-green eyes, and light- to medium-grey stripes.  People often comment on his beautiful markings, but he hasn’t let it go to his head because he’s the sweetest cat ever.

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Sharing the family stash

Over the winter I was recovering.  The past three years were stressful and traumatic for reasons I won’t go into now.  Suffice it to say, recovery for a knitter involves an awful lot of time in the kitchen or living room starting new projects.

I worked on some lace, including a feather-and-fan throw blanket, one of the few projects I picked up consistently while binge-watching whatever I could find on Amazon Prime, and knitted till it was done, unlike the pile of WIPs in my basket.  There were no seams or buttons to stymie me, so it was an easy win.

Ravelry project link

This blanket came from a batch of yarn my mom’s cousin sent me.  Like many of you, I don’t need any help collecting yarn, but I know her good taste and couldn’t refuse when she offered to send me two boxes of her stash.  There were six pairs of wool and mohair skeins, which seemed like they were destined for a specific project, but she could not recall what.  The yarn was familiar to me: we had purchased some together in New Hampshire ages ago to make these longways garter stitch scarves with fringe automatically included:

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Ravelry project link

It didn’t click until I was halfway through the throw that each yarn pairing was intended for a scarf!  I have about half the yarn remaining, so maybe P will get a rainbow throw one day as well.

Most of what she sent was too fine for her to knit, since she has struggled for a long time with rheumatoid arthritis.  There were a few patterns included, so I have offered to knit some up and send them back to her, including this Cable and Lace Raglan from Willow Yarns.

The yarns from the scarf and blanket are from Ward Brook Farm in Candia, NH.  I couldn’t find a website for them, but the Seacoast Harvest Local Food Guide website says this about them:

Sheep farm with a menopausal flock of retired laid back ewes that give wool. The wool is used for spinning supplies, yarn, dyed and spun. Dyes yarn in rainbow colors – the kind you can’t get in a yarn shop.

Hah!

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!