Knitting | Work in Progress

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Fast & easy projects for busy knittersBarbaranoreply@blogger.comBlogger380125
Updated: 1 week 6 days ago

Geometry

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.

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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.



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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.

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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.


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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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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.


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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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