Knitting | Work in Progress

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Updated: 4 days 4 hours ago

Distraction

Sun, 06/17/2018 - 13:00
While I promised myself I'd stay completely focused on weaving the last few ends in preparation for blocking Herlacyn Breeze, I confess I've succumbed to distraction. The final steps required for finishing aren't difficult, but they do require a degree of patience and attention I can't always muster at the end of a busy day.
The only solution, of course, was to face facts and cast on something new. For years, I've searched for the perfect project for these lovely skeins of solid lace weight yarn (Lorna's Laces, Helen's Lace, 50% silk/50% wool). 


A lovely lacy shawl is the obvious answer, but lace isn't really my thing. I've swatched and frogged multiple stitch and needle combinations, and even paired various colors with the variegated Blue Heron (Rayon Metallic), but nothing really struck my fancy.

In the end, I decided to keep things as simple as possible, opting for a long, skinny scarf featuring the fluted rib, one of my favorite reversible slipped stitches.

The plan is to work a five-stage ombre or gradient using three solid colors (magenta, fuchsia and pink) with the yarn carried double to make it easy to fade from one solid shade into the next. These regular color changes should keep things interesting, and the end result should be a light, classic scarf perfect for cool spring and fall weather.

Meanwhile, this simple knit offers the perfect pick-up-lay-down project to balance the attention and care finishing Herlacyn Breeze demands. Sometimes, monogamy isn't all it's cracked up to be.

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Patience is a Virtue

Sun, 06/03/2018 - 20:04
Herlacyn Breeze continues to move forward, but it's hit that challenging stage. The bulk of the knitting is completed, the strips have been seamed, the borders are done, and the edging is nearing completion.


The project, in other words, is tantalizingly close to becoming a full-fledged FO, but it's not quite there ... yet. 

There are still ends to weave, followed by a good blocking to relax stitches, square up corners, and coax the border to lay flat. None of these things come as a surprise, of course, but they do require discipline and care. 

If you pass me on the street or in the grocery store, you'll be able to spot me. I'm the woman muttering "patience is a virtue" under her breath.


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WIP | It's a Breeze

Sun, 05/27/2018 - 20:41
While I won't claim every inch has been a breeze, overall this project continues to live up to its name. Herlacyn Breeze is progressing at a steady and — dare I say it? — satisfying pace.

When last we spoke, I had just begun the third and final strip.



As soon as that strip was completed, I began tackling the assembly process. Seaming isn't difficult, but I like to work carefully and slowly so my bind-off is even, and the diamonds and triangles are aligned from one strip to the next.



Seaming went smoothly, and pieces are starting to fall into place. Here's how things look right now, hot off the needles and unblocked.

While this comparatively rapid progress has been rewarding, there's still work to be done. The design calls for borders on all four edges, a task I hope to begin tackling tonight. Then there will, of course, be ends to weave and the whole thing will need to be properly blocked, but with a bit of luck and a fair wind, the FO may soon be ready to share.
Meanwhile, if you're in the US, please take time to remember and thank those who've served, then enjoy a relaxed and happy Memorial Day weekend!

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FO | Herlacyn Heatwave Ombres & Gradients: Which Would You Choose?


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Monogamous Me

Sun, 05/20/2018 - 18:49
Years ago, I was a fully monogamous knitter, but those days have been gone for a long time. I'm not sure exactly what prompted the shift, but somewhere along the line, I began weaving small projects and quick knits into the active project mix. 

That's all well and good, but as you know, I'm a slow knitter with very limited knitting time, so it takes very few projects to go from manageable to overwhelmed. When that happens, even less knitting occurs, because there are too many projects clamoring for attention or I succumb to temptation and cast on even more.

Technically, I have three projects on the needles, but for some reason, I've been focusing all my energy on the Herlacyn Breeze afghan. As a result of this happy but unexplained quirk, progress has been (relatively) swift and quite visible.

Just a few weeks ago, I cast on and began working the first strip:




Since then, I've managed to complete it ...

start and finish the second ...




and cast on the third (and final) one.




Things have advanced so steadily, in fact, for one fleeting moment I fantasized about having Breeze completed by the end of the month. As unlikely as that is, it's fun to think about. Meanwhile, I'm simply relishing the progress produced by the delightfully unexpected and undoubtedly temporary monogamous me.


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Swatch Stories: Full Circle

Sun, 05/13/2018 - 10:30
Many years ago, I fell in love with an easy textured slip stitch, which for reasons that escape my grasp, was dubbed the Pin Check stitch by the venerable Barbara Walker.

The stitch pattern creates two very different but attractive looks. On the front, a stockinette grid frames small purl bumps, while on the back, the pattern produces a lateral dot-dash or chain-like effect when worked in two colors.



I've swatched this stitch countless times in varied yarns and color combinations. The initial plan was to make a cozy sweater in neutral shades of black, grey and cream ...
 or warm earthtones such as brown, taupe, tan and off white worked in a dark to light gradient.
Then I toyed with other possibilities, such as working shades of the same color to create an ombre effect against a black gridwork.

Years passed, life happened and the sweater plans never solidified. Then one day, I realized this versatile stitch might be the perfect texture for an afghan. More swatching ensued, and eventually this stitch became the foundation for the Tikkyn Reversible Afghan, which I worked first in a fun rainbow scheme ...

 
then again in a combination of greys and burgundy.



Now, things have come full circle. For far too long, this rich purple yarn with a touch of cashmere has been crying out to become a soft, cozy cardigan, and it's possible this favorite textured slip stitch with its plush, waffle-like texture might be the ideal way to make that happen.



Happy Mother's Day!


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WIP | Herlacyn Breeze

Sun, 05/06/2018 - 10:30
After a brief foray into whimsy world, I've cast on another afghan and am making headway. In one short week, Herlacyn Breeze has progressed from this ...

To this.
Strip one is well underway. I've completed the first color segment (Sugar Plum) and am halfway through the second (Lapis). With a bit of luck and some uninterrupted knitting time, I may be able to finish this section and start the next (Caribbean Sea) before the weekend is over.

I'm approaching this as a stashbusting project designed to use scraps and partials leftover from other projects such as Valere Summer Rainbow and Valere Vivid Rainbow. And while the exuberant spontaneity of random scrappy projects can be so appealing, a more controlled approach tends to work best for me. 

Because this is about leftovers, the challenge, of course, is the rather significant variance in yardage, as you can see by the different yarn cake sizes. This prompted a flurry of weighing, calculating and experimentation in an effort to pin down yardage and a color sequence. 

In the end, this version will feature a diagonal gradient similar to Herlacyn Heatwave, worked in a cool palette progressing from deep purple to soft mint green against an offwhite background. I'm eager to see how this all plays out, so I'd better get back to my knitting.


RELATED




FO | Herlacyn Heatwave Ombres & Gradients: Which Would You Choose?
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What Every Knitter Needs

Sun, 04/22/2018 - 19:36
With Herlacyn blocked and officially in the FO ranks, I decided to turn some of the scraps and leftovers into the one thing every knitter needs.

 

A new pair of spring-weight mitts worked in a warm gradient ...


 that just happens to match her new favorite afghan.



Goofy? Yes, but it was fun to crank out a fast, easy project that also helped put a dent (however small) in my growing pile of leftovers. And every now and then, what a knitter really needs is a touch of whimsy.



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FO | Herlacyn Heatwave Ombres & Gradients: What's the Difference?

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FO | Herlacyn Heatwave Afghan

Sun, 04/15/2018 - 10:30
Last week, I promised you a proper FO post for my Herlacyn Heatwave afghan. I love how it looks, now that blocking has worked its usual magic. The stitches relaxed, the bumps disappeared, the seams are much straighter, and the borders lay flat.



As you can see, it features a warm gradient created using six shades ranging from pale yellow to red, and against the rich black background, the colors pop. The colors are arranged on the diagonal from the lower left to upper right, so they were worked in this order:
  • Left strip: Provincial Rose, Tropical Coral, Buttercream, Banana
  • Center strip: Cherry Moon, Provincial Rose, Tropical Coral, Buttercream
  • Right strip: Barn Red, Cherry Moon, Provincial Rose, Tropical Coral

Herlacyn was designed with stashbusting in mind, so I was determined to work with yarn on hand. In the end, however, I had to order more Cherry Moon, because there was so little left after last year's rainbow Valere afghans and I wasn't in the mood to play yarn chicken.

Herlacyn Heatwave AfghanPattern: In development
Yarn: Cotton Fleece (Brown Sheep)
Needles: US 8 (5.5 mm)
Size: Small / baby
Dimensions: 27 x 35 ins
Yardage: ~670 yards
The back side is attractive, but it has a different look and feel. Because of the wrapped stitches, the colored triangles resemble appliques and almost appear stitched on rather than worked as part of the fabric.



Don't tell the other afghans, but Heatwave is my new favorite. It has fantastic drape, and the strong geometric shapes and cheerful colors delight my simple heart. It's also the perfect weight for our chilly spring weather and it will transition well into summer, when a soft, light afghan is welcome on a cool morning.
I'm itching to cast on another in cool blues and greens, but that may have to wait. A shawl, a pair of mitts, and a vivid rainbow afghan are already on the needles, and they're all crying out for some well-deserved attention.


RELATED



WIP| Herlacyn Heatwave Ombres & Gradients: What's the Difference?


Looking for the pattern? It's in development and should be available soon.


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Want Straight Edges? Try this Trick

Sun, 04/08/2018 - 10:30
Whew! The last end has been woven and my Herlacyn afghan is blocking as we speak. 

I promise to do a true FO post soon, but in the meantime, I thought you might be interested in a few quick tips and tricks to help you block everything from scarves and shawls to cardigans, blankets and afghans with greater precision and straighter lines. 

If you own the basic plain blocking tiles as I do, straight lines can be a challenge. If you're lucky enough to own blocking mats printed with a grid, you're ahead of the game but you might still find these tips helpful. Blocking wires provide a nice, straight edge, but they don't work for all projects.

Since I like to keep things as simple as possible, here's what I do. First, I connect as many blocking tiles as I need. Then, I tie a slip knot in a piece of string and hook it over one of the nubbins at the top edge of the mat.



I run this string down the full length of the mat and wrap it around the corresponding nubbin at the bottom, making sure it's taut and straight to form a guideline for the left edge.



With the edge established, I begin spreading the entire piece over the blocking mats, continuing to run string lines between the top and bottom as needed. In this instance I ran four vertical lines (one for each edge and one for each seam).

I then start patting out the lumps and bumps, pinning things into place using the strings as a visual guide to align shapes, seams and edges. 

I keep my tape measure handy and continue to make adjustments until the end result looks something like this:

In this instance, I was able to use the top and bottom mat edges as a lateral guide, but if I need horizontal lines, I simply follow the same strategy and run strings side to side. It's equally easy to establish diagonal guidelines for triangular shawls or other items with slanted shapes, and if I were making a pile of individual blanket squares, I'd get the strings in place, block the first square, then leave the strings in place, so I could block each subsequent square to the exact same dimensions.
One of these days, I may invest in mats with a pre-printed grid, but for now, this fast and easy trick helps me block straighter seams and edges to improve the overall look of the finished piece. Have your own favorite blocking tips? Feel free to share them in the comments below.

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Hand Knits to the Rescue, Again

Mon, 04/02/2018 - 15:03
This weekend, I'd planned to pack away the winter-weight afghans and accessories and pull out their mid-weight siblings in preparation for milder weather, but somehow the task didn't get done. This turned out to be a good thing, since after an all-too-brief interval that carried hints of spring, our world is once again coated in snow that's clinging to every branch and twig and turning the world white. 

Luckily, thanks to my knitting obsession, I was able to start the day fortified by that extra touch of comfort only hand knits can provide. As I sipped my first steaming cup of coffee and watched the sun rise, I wrapped my warm and woolly Tikkyn Flagstone lapghan around my legs ...

 
 and slipped my soft, cozy Kintra Blackberry mitts onto my hands.



I donned a heavy marled cardigan (a great thrift store find) and draped my Dojeling Blackberry shawl around my neck and shoulders for extra warmth.



Now, I'm working in my perpetually chilly office with my Flashpoint lapghan tucked over my legs and feet, cheered both by it's cozy weight and the fact that it blends beautifully with the flashes of red, purple and black in my shawl and mitts. (I can be strange that way.)


The calendar may say it's spring, but the weather looks and feels like winter, so once again, hand knits have come to the rescue.


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Mixers

Mon, 03/12/2018 - 00:37
Where active works in progress are concerned, every knitter has their own tolerance level. My magic number is three WIPs consisting of one large, one medium and one small project. 

And therein lies the problem.

I have one afghan in the finishing stages and another about 40% complete. That takes care of the large project requirement, but it means I'm actively searching for something in the mid- to small-scale range. Or both.

With that in mind, I decided to rummage through the stash and see what surfaced. For some reason, three variegated skeins caught my eye. The first one features a lovely mix of plums and reds, offering lots of opportunities to put various shades of burgundy, red, rose and purple to good use.
The second one incorporates varied blues, teals and greens, which means it coordinates beautifully with solid yarns in similar colors.
The third one sports numerous shades of grey, which offers countless opportunities to either stay neutral or spark it up with a rich splash of color.

These variegated yarns are relatively recent stash enhancements. Each skein contains more than 400 yards of goodness that includes extra-fine merino and cashmere, two fibers that are very difficult to resist. Add in the long color shifts and the range of possibilities they bring to the stashbusting party, and they might well be the perfect mixers.


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FO | The Thinking Cap Works

Sun, 03/04/2018 - 17:25
A series of non-knitterly things are demanding an extraordinary amount of time and energy, but I wanted to share an update on the Thinking Cap

It's done, and as simple as it is, it's delivering on every front. Soft, stretchy, light but warm, it features one of my favorite slipped rib stitches (Kintra Mitts). Worsted weight yarn meant it knit up quickly, and the simple five stage gradient worked in a mirror pattern (front: black to cream, back: cream to black) allowed me to use up leftovers from previous projects.



Kintra Thinking Cap
Pattern: Improvised
Yarn: Amherst (Valley Yarns)
Needles: US 10 (5 mm)
Yardage: ~135 yards
Size: L (21-22 ins circumference)

I opted for a neutral combo sparked with a touch of burgundy red. As a result, the Thinking Cap coordinates with my Grey Daze shawl ...


and Grey Daze mitts, especially since I typically wear these pieces with a black turtleneck or cardigan.



It also works beautifully with my Dojeling Wineberry kerchief, which because it's so light and adaptable is still one of my all-time favorite accessories, .



The Thinking Cap delivered on the intangible front as well. As you know, I started this quick knit because I was wrestling with different project and WIP options, and wanted to keep busy while I sorted out things. It did its job, and as soon as the cap was off the needles and trimmed, I devoted some much needed attention to the Herlacyn afghan, which has been patiently waiting in the wings.

Who knew a simple little thinking cap would work so well?


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