Knit with Friends and Woollinn – Part I, the Build-Up

So I wrote this post back in June, and WordPress kindly saved it for me, but it didn’t go out into the ether – which is hilarious. So I’m posting it now as the intro to the post I would like to write soon, about how all the festing went!

What? I forgot to blog again? I know! Every time I think I’m in the groove, life happens and I forget to come back here for a while. [I have a bunch of photos near the top for you if you just want to scroll.]

BUT exciting things are happening, including the first-ever knitting festival in Porto, Portugal, “Knit With Friends.” I was in Porto last summer for the first time and loved it, and didn’t think I would have an opportunity to return quite so soon. And I am very interested to see how the fest goes in its first rendition. They have some big names coming, and the workshop on Portuguese knitting that will be hosted offsite at the local yarn shop, Ovelha Negra, sold out practically before I realized it was happening.

This time I signed up for two workshops: one with Stephen West and one with Julie Dubreux. Suddenly the Westknits fever caught me a few months ago, and I’m currently finishing my fourth project since January, Majestic Mountain, hopefully in time to get on the plane.

My Majestic Mountain now has almost both sleeves completed!

Although I’ve also been chugging away at a Briyoke, this will have to stay at home.

The Briyoke is now only about 6″ short of having a full body!

I’ll be bringing my just-started Rosy Blooms shawl with yarn from the WestWool YAL,

Rosy Blooms is blooming!

and materials for a Quake shawl that I picked up in Annapolis, MD last month at WoolWinders.

Mellow Quake colors from 29 Bridges Studio

And finally I will have a chance to take a workshop in person with Stephen, namely Color Play the WestKnits Way! As you can see, I’m well on my way to playing with color, but it will be super fun to play with Stephen. I just found a link to this podcast with a recent interview (see last 15m) by one of my new favorite quebecois, the SHEEPendales. I did listen to the entire thing, to brush up on the quebecois accent… but Stephen’s portion is in English.

I’m really excited about the workshop with Julie Dubreux as well, first of all because her hair in this photo for My Dream Sweater is amazing, and second of all because I have been pushing myself to design more and am trying to learn from others and add to my arsenal of techniques. Knitting for myself is really no problem, but I would like to knit and design for all of you as well! She is also doing some spectacular brioche stuff, and, hmm, I wonder if there are any slots left for her brioche workshop???

And then I’m going to head south and check out the Algarve – photos next week maybe! because it’s the sun and the ocean and, hey, it’s vacation. There could be some diving involved…

AND THEN. I will go to ANOTHER knitting fest, in Dublin! SO MUCH EXCITEMENT! I also just confirmed that a friend from the UK is meeting me there, and the last time we saw one another was 6 years ago in Kigali, Rwanda! In fact, I think we have never seen each other outside of central Africa. So this will be SO much fun, and we will have tons of time to explore the city, and then have at least one jam-packed knit festing day. Woollinn is in only its second year, so I am really interested to participate and see what young knit fests are like. I will be taking a color design workshop with Felicity Ford, again to add to my arsenal of techniques. Plus, I have never been to Dublin, so even more exciting!

Anyway – basically all I’ve done to prepare is sign up for workshops and plan my travel knitting projects. Still at least one skein of yarn to wind. It doesn’t matter, right, as long as I have my passport? The rest will fall into place!

What knitting plans do you have this summer?

Mercenaria Shawl pattern is out!

It has been some time since I released a pattern – and I’m really excited about this one! It was a Yarn Support Program collaboration with The Fibre Co., who sent me this luscious Canopy Fingering yarn in three shades. These purples inspired the final name of the shawl, which is a reference to the quahog shells that used to be used as gifts and currency by New England native Americans.

Mercenaria Shawl modeled in Ireland

Canopy Fingering has alpaca, merino, and bamboo rayon in it, which gives it warmth, softness, drape, a slight halo, and a little bit of silky sheen. So lovely! My idea when it was first birthed was about shells, waves, and the beach, which informed my choice of stitch patterns. These colors remind me of the striations in wampum beads and shells.

Perfect garb for a windy, rainy beach day

I knitted the original version about three years ago, when I was seeking the perfect destiny for some Blue Moon Fiber Arts Socks that Rock! yarn that I’d picked up at Maryland Sheep and Wool a number of years ago. The pattern flowed off the needles, but I neglected to write it down. I even did a photo shoot near my friend’s town in Vermont, at the Von Trapp Family Lodge.

The original version, modeled at the Von Trapp Lodge

And then I did ANOTHER photo shoot in Back Cove, Maine, proving it can serve as a Man Scarf as well.

The footbridge in Back Cove, ME provided the ideal backdrop
Man scarf material

I also worked up a version in another colorway, trying to get the pattern down correctly, which has proven to be a challenge.

Beachy colors from the Verdant Gryphon

And then the final one, in Canopy Fingering, for which I sought out my former model as well as a new one, and also went in search of beaches.

The shawl is challenging because the way that the original stitch patterns were written, they did not appear to be chart-friendly. I will experiment with charting for this pattern in the coming months – because I am generally a chart lover! And should I have success, any purchaser will receive a notification that charts are available.

I hope some of you try out this pattern this summer. It can be knit in non-wooly fibers to be a lighter garment, or in two or three colors of your favorite solid or tonal sock yarn that you’ve been saving for the perfect project. If you post photos on IG, tag them with #mercenariashawl so I’ll be sure to see them and repost!

It’s not the heat, it’s the fervidity

The heat of summer is finally breaking (I hope) – we just had another over-90F day and now it is windy and raining, which, true to my British Isles roots, is very soothing and appealing.  Lately I haven’t been able to sleep at night because it is so steamy, and, well, I only have a ceiling fan, no AC.

Despite this hot humid weather, my pile of woolen WIPs continues to grow.  I have rarely let sticky weather stop me.

Skeleton Cardi v2.0 and large Noro scarf in the works.

My Find Your Fade is gradually growing – I have reached color #3 of 7, and section 5 of 13.

Lots of yellow and light speckling so far.

While most of us in the KAL, including one person’s son, decided that our first few rows strongly resembled a thong, I have powered past the “looks like underwear some love but I would never wear or if I did wouldn’t let the public see it never liked that trend #TrueConfessions” stage.

Kim’s lovely magenta un-thong.

I’m not sure in the end that I’m satisfied with my color choices, but given that I only wanted to stash-shop, this was the best selection.  It demonstrates the difficulty of the transition from loving a yarn in the skein and creating something that is still lovable once it’s knit up.  The other frustration perhaps is that the pattern calls for SEVEN different yarns, but only around 1500 yards total.  This means that I will still have around half of each of these yarns still in my stash!  Does that then even qualify as stash-busting?

At any rate, I am chugging along and enjoying this as TV knitting.  And one day, I will enjoy it as a shawl!

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

How to use more speckles

At one point, I was, like many of us, collecting lots of speckles.  This collection is primarily from a trip to Quebec a couple three years ago (already!).  All but one of these has been marinating in my stash since, and all have made one move with me across state lines.

Our knitting guild has decided to host a KAL for Find Your Fade, which will be a fun knit for any skill level.  I lucked out and found out about Andrea Mowry’s birthday pattern sale on the very last day and got in just under the wire for a discounted copy.  We are starting the KAL in September, so I’m just admiring this sequence until then.  And maybe doing some cake-winding.


Top to bottom:

  1. Mots de laine 80/20 superwash merino/nylon sock yarn, 380m/115g in “Berry Crush”
  2. Hey Lady Hey 75/25 superwash merino/nylon sock yarn, 463yd/100g in “Phlox”
  3. Mots de laine 70/20/10 superwash merino//bamboo/nylon sock yarn, 425m/115g in “lanterne 2/4”
  4. Laine Chat Maille 80/20 superwash merino/nylon sock yarn, 388m/115g in “Cocktail de Fruits #3”

What speckled projects have you knit?

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.

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.


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!