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Updated: 1 week 1 day ago

Do Over

Sun, 10/07/2018 - 10:30
With two afghans in the finishing stages, several patterns in development, and even more designs in the want-it-now lineup, I have lots of knitting either in process or the planning pipeline. This makes it especially difficult to explain why out of the blue, I decided I simply had to redo my Colsie mirror gradient cowl, which has officially been finished since last December.

This long and skinny neck piece can be wrapped twice and buttoned for a cowl-like effect or left open and worn as a scarf. The goal was to create a versatile accessory to coordinate with my Colsie mirror gradient mitts. The yarn (Grignasco Champagne) is so soft and delectable, it's a true pleasure to knit and wear. 

The differences are subtle. The mitts featured two colors (teal and cloud), while the cowl incorporated three (teal, cloud and lake). The unblocked shot below does the best job of showing the difference between the teal blue (lower left) and lake green (upper right).
Generally, I avoid matchy-matchy accessories, but as time passed, I realized this was one instance where a matching set might actually be the best option. Two weeks ago, I stiffened my spine, carefully unpicked the bindoff and woven ends, frogged back to the solid center section (cloud), then began the task of reworking the final two sections to match the first two.
If you've ever been in this situation, you know how frustrating it can be to decide after the fact a project needs additional work, but I found myself enjoying the process. 


It's still unblocked, but the knitting is finished and the ends are woven. I'll try to get some better pictures soon. Meanwhile, I'm much happier with this cowl in its new configuration, which means every now and then, a do-over is the right choice.


Colsie Mirror Gradient Mitts

Categories: Knitting Feeds

Nifty Neutrals in Action

Sun, 09/30/2018 - 10:30
Last week to ease our way into the fall season, we took a look at nine nifty neutral color combos. As a result of that post, I began browsing through completed projects to see where and how neutrals have surfaced in the past, so this week, I thought it might be helpful to share some neutral combinations in action.

Drumlin Almost Neutral: Black, slate and cream with a pop of red

Tikkyn Flagstone: Light, medium and dark greys with burgundy

Kintra Nearly Neutral Cowl: Black, grey and cream gradient with red

Kintra Nearly Neutral Mitts: Black, grey and cream gradient with red

Kintra Greyridge: Dark, medium and light grey ombre

Grey Daze Mitts & Shawl: Cool grey and cream with burgundy

Wyndfael Mitts: Charcoal and cream with red

Pewter and charcoal with red

Twegen Coffee: Black, grey, brown, toffee and cream

Owl Family: Chocolate, toffee and brown speckled yarn accented with gold

    Hopefully, if you're one of the many knitters who have difficulty visualizing how colors will interact in a finished project, these examples will serve as a starting point for one of your own projects. Looking through them has certainly prompted some insights for me.

    It's clear, for instance, that when a neutral project needs a spark of bright color, reds and burgundies are my go-to choice. At one time, browns and earth tones would have featured more prominently in any neutral roundup, but most of those projects were completed not just pre-blog but also pre-Ravelry, so no pictures exist. Many were sweaters, including a taupe tunic, a tweedy pullover accented with warm peach, and a lovely cardigan for my sister in shades of dark chocolate, mocha and caramel.

    I have a small project on the needles right now, but as soon as it's finished, I plan to rummage through the stash, choose a few select skeins, and start swatching something subtle and understated in an interesting mix of neutrals.

    The project links above take you to the FO post. If you're interested, you can find the patterns here.

    Categories: Knitting Feeds

    9 Nifty Neutral Combos

    Sun, 09/23/2018 - 10:30
    Fall has officially arrived and with it we've experienced a tiny hint of cool-ish weather. I suppose it's natural, therefore, my thoughts have turned from the saturated colors of summer to the terrific tones of fall and soft, subtle shades of winter.

    In other words, I've been obsessed with neutrals and the potential they offer from color-blocking and textures to ombres, gradients and fades. It's also interesting to see how, after a decade of grey hues dominating the neutral landscape, earthy tints are enjoying a resurgence in design, decor and fashion.

    So, whether you're seeking colors for a specific project or just in the mood for some yarn play, here are nine nifty neutral color combos to consider.

    Cool DeepObsidian, basalt, slate

    Cool MediumSoapstone, bluestone, gravel

    Cool Light
    Shale, marble, quartzite

    Cool WhisperConcrete, mortar, quartz

    TransitionGranite, travertine, cobblestone

    Warm DeepGranito, porphyry, twig

    Warm MediumMascavo, dorado, fieldstone

    Warm LightPetra, dolomite, sand

    Warm WhisperSandstone, limestone, cream onyx 

    At one time, my entire wardrobe was built on shades of wheat, taupe, cream, grey and black, with only an occasional spark of color for interest. Today, black and deep coal are my neutrals of choice, coupled with bold flashes of color or softer neutrals in layered shades. Meanwhile, neutrals are especially useful if you knit for the men in your life, since based on my experience, they're a perennial favorite with guys of all ages. 

    All this talk of neutrals and their classic versatility has struck a chord. With two afghans in the near-FO stage and several potential projects competing for time and attention, I should follow my own advice and stay focused. Instead, I think I may break out a skein or three and work up some swatches in oatmeal, platinum or silver.


    9 Color Combos for Guys
    11 Rich Color Combos
    Categories: Knitting Feeds


    Sun, 09/16/2018 - 15:51
    Two afghans are in the finishing stages. While I continue working on these tasks, it seemed like a good time to spend a moment talking about the backstory, or what things look like on the wrong side of my projects.

    Lately, most projects have featured multiple colors, and numerous leftovers and partial skeins. This of course means there are always plenty of ends to weave. Now, it's a well-known fact finishing and end-weaving are not my greatest skill, and I've regularly confessed that with each project, I need to marshal all my patience and care to properly tackle this phase.

    Most of the time, I choose to weave ends using a needle, because for me this gives the most polished and invisible results. Sometimes, I weave them as I go, but often, I simply wait until the end and handle them last, right before blocking.
    Careful finishing is especially important, since I want scarves, shawls, afghans and home dec items to be tidy and attractive on both sides.

    Because I'm slow, weaving ends takes a great deal of time and concentration. I've been experimenting, therefore, with other methods in an effort to reduce the number of ends and speed up the finishing process.

    Herlacyn Heatwave is a good example. Each strip in this design produces 18 ends, for a total of 54 in the body, not counting seams and borders. Granted, there are many designs out there that produce far more, but facing that many ends in order to properly finish a project can be daunting.

    To offset this, I've been trying to weave ends as I work. Above, you can see I'm picking up stitches for a seam, and at the same time, I'm weaving one of the yellow ends into the pickup (on the wrong side). 

    I picked up the working yarn from behind the loose end, which traps the loose end between the working yarn and active stitch. The technique is quite simple, it just requires a bit of time and attention, and if you do it correctly, it's tidy on the back and invisible on the front.

    Many knitters do this for just a few stitches which is easier, but I took a different approach. I left long tails, so the woven stitches would form a continuous (rather than interrupted) line along the edge of its matching triangle. This turns the necessity of weaving ends into a bit of a design feature, and on the wrong side, each triangle is bordered by wrapped stitches which imparts a look similar to applique.

    Old habits die hard, so I'm still a bit sporadic and sometimes forget to integrate this basic step into my knitting. Other times, I simply choose to skip it, because in that instance, I prefer a more invisible approach. If your goal is to minimize the effort involved in finishing, however, weaving ends as you work is clearly the way to go.

    Connecting with the linkups in the sidebar.

    Categories: Knitting Feeds

    Celebrate the Fruits of Our Labor

    Sun, 09/02/2018 - 10:30
    In the US, this is Labor Day weekend, a three-day national holiday recognizing the millions of hardworking Americans whose labor keeps the economy humming. 
    It seems fitting, therefore, that the afghan that's been consuming my knitting attention is red, white and blue. Last weekend, I was working to fix a frustrating fubar. Because I'd skipped several stitches in the seaming process, the two strips didn't line up as intended. You can clearly see these problems below.

    This past week, I slowly, steadily and carefully, tackled the seam one section at a time. True confessions, it took me all week to accomplish this feat. (Did I mention slowly?)

    The reworked seam is much, much better. It's not perfect, but there are no missed stitches and the color blocks line up properly. (The angled shot below may make that difficult to see, so you'll have to trust me on this.)

    Right now, this WIP is spread out on the work table, partly so I can admire the fruit of my labor and partly so I can figure out how to finish the edges. I've always intended to add a border of some sort, but right now, I'm having an intense internal debate. Should I take a minimalist approach and add a one-row edging to stop the curl and stabilize the edges? Or, should I work a deeper border for a more traditional approach?

    If you have thoughts or preferences, I'd love your feedback. While I contemplate these weighty matters, I'll be weaving ends in preparation for finishing. 

    Meanwhile, wherever you are, take time to celebrate the fruits of your labor, and if you're in the US, have a relaxing, enjoyable Labor Day!


    Roundup | Red, White & Blue
    Spotlight | Red, White & Blue Holidays

    Categories: Knitting Feeds

    Small Mistake, Big Consequences

    Sun, 08/26/2018 - 17:00
    The first rule of blogging about knitting is this: Do NOT crow when a project's going well. Because if you do, all too soon you'll be back at the keyboard eating crow and confessing something (or everything) has gone woefully awry. 

    Last week, I was wallowing in the pleasures of working on a project that was moving forward at a fast (for me) pace. In a handful of weeks it progressed from casting on the first strip to finishing all the strips and starting the seaming process. 

    The first seam went together easily, without a hiccup and with each section lining up as intended. 
    The second seam did not, and it's my own fault. It was late after a long, demanding work day, but I decided to push ahead and finish the final seam. It was a bad call, and the orange stitch marker marks the spot.

    Somehow, someway, I'd managed to skip not one but several stitches during the three-needle bindoff, and that small mistake had big consequences. If you look at the picture above, you can see it. The left corner of the upper white triangle is supposed to align with the right corner of the red section, but clearly it doesn't.

    The only way to fix an error of this magnitude is to frog it and redo it. So that's where things stand. I've ripped out the bindoff and the stitches are sitting there ready to be returned to the needles, so I can try again.
    Categories: Knitting Feeds

    Fast Forward

    Sun, 08/19/2018 - 10:30
    This afghan is in fast forward, moving ahead so quickly, I only have a few quick shots to share. I managed to grab one in a brief moment of semi-organization right after I finished the second strip.

    It's difficult to decipher the hot mess below, so you'll have to trust me when I say it shows all three strips heaped unceremoniously on the work table.

    After sorting things out and restoring some semblance of order, I've started picking up stitches in preparation for joining the strips.

    It's always gratifying when a project moves forward at such a rewarding pace, but I'm determined keep things in perspective. With seams to complete, borders to work and ends to weave, there's still plenty of work to be done, but you'll hear no complaints from me. It's all part of this crazy craft we call knitting, so it's okay with me.

    Connecting with the linkups in the sidebar.
    Categories: Knitting Feeds


    Mon, 08/06/2018 - 16:20
    When I was a kid, geometry was one of my favorite classes. In fact, I distinctly recall completing a rather complex project where we were charged with representing a series of geometric shapes in a way that demonstrated our understanding of the underlying mathematical principles.

    I used pins and colored string to create swirling, dimensional shapes that impressed my teacher (known for his tough standards) and won me a top grade. This was a very long time ago, and while I've seen similar things since then, at the time it was seen as fresh and unique.

    Clearly, my love of textiles and geometry can be traced back to my childhood, so I guess it's no surprise that color, texture and crisp geometric shapes regularly surface in my knitting designs.

    All of this is a long way of saying I have another afghan on the needles, and it's moving forward at a steady, satisfying pace. The first strip is finished, and it's patiently waiting in the background while I tackle the next one.

    I confess, I'm rather excited by this project. It's fast and easy, a quality I treasure at times like this, when work (and life) are so complicated there's nothing more enticing than a simple, straightforward knit. 

    It's also a true stashbuster. I'm using Four Seasons, a lovely cotton-wool blend by Classic Elite, yarn I've held in my stash until the right project came along. This project will put quite a dent in that precious reserve, but it will also move a fair amount of yardage out of stash, which is an ongoing goal.

    Finally, I once wrote that in the US, red, white and blue where the true colors of summer, so it seems only fitting to be working on a project that features these iconic colors. And if all goes well and time permits, I may have it completed just in time for Labor Day, the last big blowout of the summer season. We shall see.

    RELATEDI Heart Red, White & BlueSpotlight | Red, White & Blue Holidays

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    Categories: Knitting Feeds

    FO | Rose Gradient Scarf

    Sun, 07/22/2018 - 10:00
    With the last end woven and a light steam blocking, the rose gradient scarf is officially complete. It's about time, isn't it?!

    Luckily, the end result was worth the wait. The 50/50 blend of silk and merino produced a light, fluid fabric that's the perfect weight for year-round wear. 

    The fabric is reversible, so while each side is different, both are attractive. In the rolled shot below, you can see the fluted columns on the front (right) and the subtle ribs that decorate the back (left).
    The five-stage ombre progresses from magenta to fuchsia and into light pink with marled sections in between to create a smoother transition between colors.

    Rose Gradient ScarfPattern: In development
    Yarn: Helen's Lace Solid (50% silk/50% wool, Lorna's Laces)Needles: US 8 (5 mm) and US 9 (5.5 mm)
    Size: Narrow
    Dimensions: 4 x 50 ins
    Yardage: ~400 yards
    After some swatching, I opted to carry two strands of lace weight throughout, using a US 9 to work the body of the scarf and a US 8 for the first and last inch to minimize the tendency of handknit scarves to flare at the ends.

    I like my scarves on the narrow side, and the 50-inch length is perfect. It's long enough to be worn draped under the collar of a jacket, wrap multiple times for a cozy cowl-like effect, or fold in half and catch the ends through the folded loop. As an added plus, it goes with many of my favorite outfits, and will be the perfect accent for a rich magenta work jacket that's one of my winter staples.

    If versatility is the standard for a successful handknit accessory, this simple scarf is an all-out win. With the subtle texture, vibrant color and multiple wearing possibilities, I can see this becoming my go-to scarf for work, play and everything in between.

    Slow MoMarling & Me
    Categories: Knitting Feeds

    Slow Mo

    Sun, 07/15/2018 - 10:30
    Between a rapid series of deadlines and the normal turmoil of life, knitting has been occurring in slow motion. Yes, it's happening, but headway is so gradual you could blink 20 times and not miss a thing. 

    In spite of this turtle-like pace, progress has occurred. The fifth and final light rose section has been finished and bound off. 

    Now, I'm weaving the ends at the color transitions and prepping the scarf for blocking, which means the end is in sight.

    The fabric is light and drapey even in its unblocked state, so I couldn't resist. I had to take a few minutes, pat it into place, and admire how the marling technique helps this five-stage gradient fade smoothly from solid magenta to fuchsia and then light rose. 

    The next time you see this project, it will be finished, blocked and ready to wear, but you certainly haven't seen the last of this yarn. I have to confess, I'm so enamored with this particular ombre effect, I'm already experimenting with fresh possibilities. Stay tuned.

    Summer Blooms Marling & Me

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    Categories: Knitting Feeds

    Marling & Me

    Sun, 06/24/2018 - 23:23
    While my intent was to split time between finishing Herlacyn Breeze and knitting a few rows on my gradient scarf, I ditched discipline and wallowed in the pure pleasure of watching this simple but satisfying project grow.

    When last you saw it, I was still working on the first section. Since then, I've managed to complete it plus two more sections and start the fourth. 
    I'm creating a five-stage gradient using only three yarn colors, a feat achieved by working the entire piece with two strands of lace weight carried throughout. The solid sections (one, three and five) feature two strands of the same color, while the marled sections (two and four) utilize one strand from each of the adjacent solid sections creating a blended transition that fades from one shade to the next. In other words:
    • Section 1: magenta
    • Section 2: magenta + fuchsia (marled)
    • Section 3: fuchsia
    • Section 4: fuchsia + pink (marled)
    • Section 5: pink

    At the most basic level, marled yarns have two different colored plies twisted together into a single strand. It's completely possible to emulate this at home, but I've decided instead to keep it simple, carry the two strands together, and let the marled effect evolve organically.

    Normally, I'd opt for a more controlled approach, but for now, I've decided to relax and enjoy this adhoc adventure, marling and me.

    Connecting with the linkups in the sidebar.

    Categories: Knitting Feeds