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Updated: 3 weeks 3 days ago

Border Issues

Mon, 10/14/2019 - 01:21
I've tried like the dickens to get  a decent overview shot of the Ohio Star afghan, with little success. The last time you saw this project, it looked like a hot mess.


I was working the borders, which required wrestling with four long circulars, primarily because I'm a stubborn coot who likes to see the stitches she's working rather than have them jammed together on a single cord. Needless to say, the process itself was both tweaky and a bit frustrating, but the end result is satisfactory.

The big debate now is whether or not to add a final edging. If the answer is yes, the next question becomes, should that edging be blue or red? Luckily, there are still a fair number of ends to weave, which gives me plenty of time to think about the issue of edging vs. no edging.
Well, life is clammoring in the background. Gotta run, happy knitting!
Categories: Knitting Feeds

The Next Big Thing

Sun, 10/06/2019 - 13:00
Okay, technically, the Ohio Star afghan (my largest current WIP) isn't quite finished. The border is done, but I've decided to add a final edging, which looks nice and does a dandy job of minimizing curl.

That said, with completion of the Wyndfael cowl, my active project list has shrunk from six to four (two scarves, one shawl and the aforementioned afghan), so it's time to start thinking about the next big thing.

And this is where things get a bit dicey. For weeks, I've been tantalized by the prospect of casting on a rainbow shawl using lovely fingering weight yarn (Charlemont, Valley Yarns). The pattern is roughed out, and the yarn is wound and at the ready.
Unfortunately, just as I went to retrieve the yarn from the cupboard, a wayward thought popped into my mind and whispered in a sultry voice, What about that other shawl project? You know, the one that's been on your to-do list much, much longer? The idea was to pair the delightful Helen's Lace (Lorna's Laces) with the variegated Rayon Metallic (Blue Heron), a combo that seemed promising. Here, too, the pattern is roughed out, and the yarn is ready and waiting.


So, what's a knitter to do? 

In theory, I could cast on both and work them simultaneously, but that approach has several glaring flaws. I'm a slow knitter, so it simply means when true cold weather hits I'll have two partially complete shawls, rather one done (or nearly so). It also adds two new projects to the WIP list, which puts me back where I started.

While I'm trying to wrestle this decision to the mat, perhaps I should just pick up the afghan, start working the final edging, weave a few ends, and see what revelations emerge.

Categories: Knitting Feeds

FO | Wyndfael Cowl

Sun, 09/29/2019 - 18:10
The current temps are in the high 80s (F), and they're projected to hit the low-to-mid 90s next week. Nonetheless, I've been busy putting the finishing touches on my Wyndfael cowl. I worked the accent stripes and rounded ends, then buckled down and began weaving ends.

The ends incorporate a small, nearly invisible button hole, which centers the button where the two ends meet. I like to keep my options open, so I attached a large, decorative button to a smaller backer button to create a removable cufflink-style closure, and this is the result.


Wyndfael Turquoise Cowl
Pattern: In development (coming soon!)
Yarn: Merino 5 (Crystal Palace); Cash Vero (Cascade)
Size: Short (~5 x 21 inches) 
Weight: Worsted
Needles: US 8 (5 mm)
Yardage: ~140 yards 

The removable button turned out to be a wise choice, because somewhere along the line I had a wacky idea ... 

What if I used a small pompom as a closure, instead of a button? I decided to give it a try and this is the outcome. Like the cufflink closure above, it's attached to a small backer button, which fits through the existing loops, so it, too, can be swapped out for wearing or washing. As an added plus, the pompom automatically matches, so it circumvents the sometimes frustrating search for a suitable button.



I confess I'm truly delighted with how this turned out. When cool weather arrives, I'll have a warm, cushy cowl to wrap around my neck, a matching pair of mitts to keep my hands warm, and when the mood strikes, I can go for whimsical or classic, whichever suits best.
And it's completely possible there may be a turquoise pompom in my near future ...


RELATED
    Pattern | Wyndfael Mitts

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Why We Swatch

Sun, 09/22/2019 - 21:31
As eager as I am to start my rainbow shawl, I'm still weaving ends on the Wyndfael cowl and Ohio Star afghan, and I have a feeling once the shawl is on the needles, I won't want to work on anything else. So, I decided I needed to cast on something relatively small to work on between bouts of finishing. For some time, I've been longing for a red scarf to brighten my basic black wardrobe and offset the gray days of winter.

This delightful red yarn (Cash Silk by Zagna Baruffa) has been slumbering in the stash for close to two years, and now seemed like the perfect time to put it to use. I love my reversible Kintra Nearly Neutral so much, I decided to follow those working notes. (Be forewarned, these photos were grabbed on the fly, but bear with me, it's been one of those weeks. Colorwise, the first photo is most accurate.)



The recommended needle size is US 6, but I knew I wanted a drapier fabric so I swatched first with size US 7 for the first inch and US 8 for the remainder. Because I love the way this stitch looks when twisted, I worked all the knit stitches through the back loop (tbl).

Very quickly, I realized the fabric at this gauge was not as fluid and lofty as I wanted, so I cast on with larger needles (US 8 and 9), and started over again, working all the knit stitches through the front loop not the back.



You can't really see the difference in the photos, but the ribs are more rounded, the fabric is stretchier and significantly more flexible, and blocking will even out the stitches and maximize drape.

For now, this is my travel and pick-up-lay-down project for days when I have just enough time for a few quick rows. I've not decided how long I want this scarf to be, but I'm very fond of long skinny scarves that can be wrapped multiple times, so we shall see.

Meanwhile, as frustrating as it can be to start over once a project's on the needles, it's often the right thing to do. I'm certainly much happier with how things are progressing, which is why we swatch. Right? Right!

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Surprise Ending

Sun, 09/08/2019 - 19:45
Last week, I was moaning about the hot mess that was my red, white and blue afghan, but since then a lot has been accomplished. The border has been finished and bound off, and for now, the afghan is cooling its heels while I gear up to weave ends (to do this well, I have to be in the right state of mind) and prep for blocking.

To stay productive and continue to chip away at the WIP pile, I picked up my Wyndfael cowl. Designed to match my Wyndfael mitts, this was supposed to be a super-quick knit. Somewhere along the way, I was tempted by another project, so it was set aside. Now, 11 months later, I'm finally ready to buckle down and finish it.

Similar to the mitts, I'm incorporating accent stripes in rich purple, a color I love with this shade of turquoise. I also decided to work rounded ends for visual interest, a bit of a surprise ending if you will.

The first end is completed (sorry, bad photo of the wrong side) and I've begun working the second. With a bit of luck and some knitting time, I'll soon have this piece bound off, and ready to finish and block. (Update: Done!)

Once both the afghan and cowl are done, my WIP list will pared down to three active projects, a feat I plan to celebrate by immediately casting on a rainbow shawl. With that motivating factor in mind, I'm heading back to my knitting!

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Hot Mess

Sun, 09/01/2019 - 19:42
In the US, it's not just a holiday weekend, it's the last major red, white and blue celebration of the summer. Combine that with the fact that several weeks ago, I publicly promised to finish two WIPs before I cast on something new, it seemed appropriate to devote some attention to this afghan.



Unfortunately, it looks like a hot mess right now. I'm tackling the border, which in this case means working with four pairs of circular needles, so knitting is quite the juggling act. Several times, I've gotten distracted and continued working past the point where it was time to switch to the next needle. Last evening, I did this not once but twice, which meant I spent almost as much time rearranging stitches as I did knitting.

Frustrating? Yes. Fiddly? Yes. But I'm trying hard to keep my eyes on the prize, the opportunity to cast on a much-wanted shawl once this project is off the needles.


If you're in the US, have a safe, relaxing holiday filled with family, friends and fun.

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Pattern | Herlacyn Afghan

Sat, 08/24/2019 - 19:32
With its crisp lines, subtle textures and vivid colors, Herlacyn offers unlimited possibilities. Named after an Old English term for harlequin designs, this fast and easy unisex afghan represents a modern take on a traditional form.

Ideal for mini or partial skeins, the geometric shapes require just two color changes per row. Choose related shades for a custom gradient or ombre as shown, opt for classic neutrals, or pair soft gray with a single contrast color for an on-trend look. 

Herlacyn Afghan  | Fast & EasySkill Level 2: Easy
Yarn: Worsted weight; adapts to any weight and multi-stranding
Shown: Cotton Fleece (Brown Sheep)Needles: US 8 (5 mm)
Sizes: 3 sizes (baby, lapghan, throw)Yardage (approx.): 820 to 1400 yards               

Fast, easy and reversible, this afghan sports a subtle texture on the front and plush texture on the back. Strip construction keeps your project contained and portable, while the modified three-needle technique makes seaming a breeze and preserves drape.


 With Herlacyn, the:
  • Crossed stockinette stitch is easy to execute and creates a stable fabric with an appealing texture.
  • Color work is a breeze and just two easy color changes per row produce crisp diagonal lines.
  • Strip construction keeps your project compact and portable, so you can work on your afghan anytime and anywhere.
  • Pattern is simple enough for any moderately experienced beginner. It's concise but complete, and includes a schematic along with directions, stitch counts, yardage and dimensions for three sizes.
  • Yarn is worsted weight or its equivalent, so your project grows quickly.
  • Design is versatile and unisex, suitable for all ages, and can be worked in different yarns and countless combinations. 

The pattern includes written directions for three popular sizes ranging from baby (28 x 36 ins) to lapghan (35 x 44 ins) and throw (43 x 54 ins). Designed for worsted weight yarn, the pattern readily accommodates other yarn weights and multi-strand strategies. It’s your decision. You can work it as written or use the handy Quick Reference guide, schematic, tips, tricks and easy modifications to customize the result.


Herlacyn is a quick, fun knit suited to anyone who can cast on, knit, purl, increase, decrease, ktbl, k2tog, k3tog, slip stitches, pick up stitches and bind off. 

Ready to get started? Click here to buy the pattern nowHappy knitting!

To read more about this design, see FO | Herlacyn Heatwave and FO | Herlacyn Breeze.
To explore possible neutral color schemes, see 9 Nifty Neutral Combos.
Categories: Knitting Feeds

Not-So-Scrappy Scrap Blankets

Sun, 08/18/2019 - 13:00
As much as I love the look of a nicely executed scrap blanket, you might have noticed random is not a thing I do well. 

Unfortunately like most knitters, I have an abundance of scraps, leftovers and partials tucked in the stash. The challenge for me, therefore, has been to create a variety of ways to put these leftovers to good use. These afghan designs have helped me do just that, and they might help you do the same.


Angletyn



Worked on the bias, Angletyn's large-scale chevron design is highly adaptable. If you have lots of leftovers of similar weight, simply arrange the colors in a sequence you find visually pleasing, then knit each strip in a series of two-row stripes. If you have varied scrap amounts, try knitting stripes of different depths based on how much you have of each color. 

Color Check



Designed as a multi-color project, Color Check features a simple slip stitch that's ideally suited to burning through scraps and leftovers. Pick a unifying color for the check outlines and use scraps and leftovers for the fill colors. Since this reversible design consists of two panels seamed together, you can change colors as often as you choose without worrying about lots of ends to weave — simply bury them inside.


Drumlin



Worked with another easy slip stitch, Drumlin is a versatile, quick knit and is fully reversible. The stitch creates a fluted texture on both sides, and its attractive worked in a single solid color or in alternating two-row stripes. For each strip, try pairing two solid colors (like the example above) or match a solid with a complementary confetti, speckled or variegated yarn.


Herlacyn (pattern coming soon!)



From the beginning, Herlacyn was designed to help use up some of the many partial skeins lingering in the stash. In the example shown, colors were arranged in a diagonal pattern to create an ombre or gradient effect, but there are countless ways to adapt this pattern to accommodate yarn on hand. Try working the triangles in a single contrasting solid, rich or bright rainbow colors, or various shades from the same color family.


Lucben



Worked in strips rather than individual blocks, Lucben offers a fresh take on the timeless look of a classic 9-patch blanket. You can do what I did and mix various shades from the same color family to create a custom gradient, or choose a light and dark color, then alternate them for a checkerboard effect. Try a tonal approach using closely related hues for the blocks and borders, or try a simple two-color strategy, using one for the blocks and the other for the borders. 


Tikkyn


With its charming pindot stitch, Tikkyn offers a host of scrap-busting possibilities. Keep the emphasis on the cozy texture by working each strip in a different color. Tone down a busy variegated, speckled or confetti yarn by pairing it with a related solid shade. To accommodate different amounts of yarn, try working long stretches in one color combination and shorter sections in another, similar to Tikkyn Flagstone.


Twegen



Worked in yet another reversible slip stitch, Twegen is an attractive, easy way to put leftovers and partials to good use. For an interesting effect, choose a unifying main color and work each strip with that and a mix of colorful scraps and leftovers, both solid and variegated. For lighter weight yarns, try multistranding to create a fun marled fabric. For an ombre effect, sort yarns by color family and work each strip with the darkest shades at the bottom, medium ones in the middle, and lightest ones at the top.


Valere



With its compact geometric shapes, Valere readily lends itself to scrap-busting. Try a strategy similar to the one shown above, using a single color for the background and vivid contrasting colors for the banners or flags. If you have a lot of similar leftovers in a single color family, work all the banners in these varied shades. To use up small bits of yarn, work the banners in alternating two-row stripes. 


Keep in mind most of these ideas will work with a wide range of patterns. While you think about what type of scrap-busting project you prefer, take time to organize and inventory your scraps, leftovers and partials. That alone may be enough to prompt ideas and inspiration.

Some knitters, of course, are hyper-organized with yarny leftovers, but I'm not one of them. If I have lots of a specific type (I'm looking at you Cotton Fleece), I store all of them in the same small bin. With more limited leftovers, I tend to tuck them in with other yarns of the same or similar weight and fiber makeup, while super-small quantities often live out their last days snuggled with other small bits in a plastic container or ziploc bag.

Whatever you choose to do, I hope you found some of these tips useful. Each pattern highlighted here includes directions for three sizes (baby, lapghan, throw), along with detailed yardage breakouts, and easy modifications to help you transform all the yarn into something pretty and practical. Happy not-so-scrappy knitting! 


Categories: Knitting Feeds

FO | Herlacyn Breeze Afghan

Sun, 08/11/2019 - 13:00
I'm delighted to report my Herlacyn Breeze afghan is finished. Blocking worked its usual magic, so stitches have relaxed, small bumps have disappeared, seams are straighter, and the borders lay flat.



Worked in Cotton Fleece (Brown Sheep), this version features a cool gradient with six shades ranging from rich purple to mint green set against a neutral off-white background. The colors are arranged on the diagonal from the lower left to upper right, and they were worked in this order:
  • Left strip: Sugar Plum, Lapis, Caribbean Sea, Hawaiian Sky
  • Center strip: Lapis, Caribbean Sea, Hawaiian Sky, Light Sage
  • Right strip: Caribbean Sea, Hawaiian Sky, Light Sage, Mint

From the beginning, Herlacyn was designed as a stashbusting opportunity, using scraps and partials leftover from other projects such as Lucben TidepoolValere Summer Rainbow and Valere Vivid Rainbow

Herlacyn BreezePattern: Coming soon!
Yarn: Cotton Fleece (Brown Sheep)
Needles: US 8 (5.5 mm)
Size: Small / baby
Dimensions: 27 x 35 ins
Yardage: ~670 yards
Twisted stitches create a subtle texture on the front and an interesting texture on the back, while the colored triangles almost appear appliqued rather than worked as part of the fabric.

Much like its sibling Herlacyn Heatwave, Breeze has fantastic drape. It's also the ideal weight for chilly weather, so it will be perfect as we transition into fall, when a soft, light lapghan is welcome on a cool morning.
This project lingered way too long in its almost-done state, so it's exceptionally satisfying to finally have it completed. With one long-standing WIP now officially a finished object, it's time ot tackle the others skulking in the background!

Looking for the pattern? It's with the tech editor for a final review, so it's coming soon!
Categories: Knitting Feeds

Let the Finishing Begin

Sun, 08/04/2019 - 21:21
Turns out, there's nothing quite so potent as making a public promise to finish a few WIPs to prompt some action. It also helps that like a parent waving a lollipop in front of a wayward toddler, my reward for keeping that promise is the opportunity to cast on the rainbow shawl I've been craving. 

This week, I buckled down and wove in the last of the ends on my Herlacyn Breeze. It's soaking now in preparation for blocking, which I hope to tackle this evening.



Dazzling progress? No, but for a project that's been stalled for far too long, it's a start, and I'll take it.

Looking for the pattern? It's in my tech editor's capable hands, so it should be ready for release soon.

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Let's Make a Deal

Sun, 07/21/2019 - 20:29
Under most circumstances, I'm a semi-monogamous knitter who prefers to limit the number of fiber projects active at any given time. My rules, such as they are, are pretty simple. I strive to have no more than three projects on the needles, ensure one is small and portable to grab and go, and focus and finish before launching a new project.

Lately, I've been ignoring these guidelines, and not only is it driving me crazy, it's time for a reality check. Last fall, I started a simple little cowl that should have been a fast finish, but I allowed myself to get distracted. There it sits, waiting for just a bit of time and attention to bring it to completion. 

To complicate matters, I have another cowl and the better part of a full shawl sitting on the needles. I don't have a good overview shot, so we'll have to make-do with a picture of the swatch. 



All would be well if that was my full project lineup, but it's not. There are three afghans in various WIP stages. Herlacyn Breeze is off the needles, but there are still a few ends to weave before it can be blocked.



The Ohio Star afghan is seamed and ready for a border.


A third, unnamed afghan is also more than half done, but it's currently in timeout while I think about whether or not I like the overall effect.


That's a total of six active projects, or twice as many as my ideal max. Nonetheless, I'm still itching to cast on another shawl and start putting this silky rainbow yarn to good use. 
With all that in mind, let's make a deal. I'm going to stiffen my spine, do the grownup thing, and focus on turning these WIPs into finished objects. Once at least two of them are finished (or frogged), I can succumb to tempation and cast on the rainbow shawl. What do you think, does that sound fair?

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Winding the Rainbow

Sun, 07/07/2019 - 22:41
We've had so much rain lately, I can't recall the last time we had a clear, sunny day. To combat the gloom, I've been gradually winding the rainbow yarn. 

The rich, saturated shades are the perfect antidote, and the touch of silk imparts a sheen that's especially appealing when the skies are gray.
This yarn is destined to become a shawl or wrap or cowl or some combination thereof, so while I wound, I took the opportunity to play a bit with color options. The assortment above features five colors (no magenta), for example, while the others feature six. 

I freely confess I lingered over the caking process, partly to simply wallow in this soothing task and partly to think through some issues I'm having with one of the designs I'm working on. Now that all the yarn is wound, I'm chomping at the bit and eager to cast on, but hopefully cooler heads will prevail. Several projects either on the needles or in the final finishing stages could in a relatively short period of time go from WIPs to FOs, if I could simply muster the discipline to make it happen.

Categories: Knitting Feeds

A Touch of Rebellion

Thu, 07/04/2019 - 21:06
It's a busy week in North America. Monday, our neighbors to the north celebrated Canada Day, and today, Americans are celebrating Independence Day. 

In the US, red, white and blue are the unofficial colors of summer, so through the years, I've managed to build a rather substantial collection of coasters and cloths suitable for these occasions.

It's been quite awhile since I've added to this collection, so this seemed like a good time to rectify that oversight, plus the prospect of a quick FO was difficult to resist. The simple color-block heart from several years ago has always been a favorite, so I knit another to keep it company, using the Sweet Hearts & Soft Spots pattern. 


Has my guage radically changed? Did I grab the wrong needle size? Was the yarn simply feeling quixotic?
I truly couldn't say, but there's no denying the new heart (foreground) is noticeably larger than its siblings. And that's okay. A tiny touch of rebellion seems perfectly appropriate for Independence Day.
Categories: Knitting Feeds