Friday, November 1, 2013

FO Friday - Waterfall Cardigan

Pattern: None
Yarn: Koigu KPM 
Needle size: 3mm
Ravelry Project Page: Waterfall Cardigan

I originally used this yarn in a very similar styled cardigan but with a large ruffle along the front edge. I finished it, wore it once, then it got too warm to wear and I put it away (without taking a photo, of course). Then while cleaning out my closet I decided to try it on to find out that I either lost weight or weight had shifted and the arms were now too big which I noticed in a couple other sweaters as well. Because I absolutely loved this colour I decided I'd just knit it again exactly how I wanted it and because I didn't want to pick up all those stitches again I decided to make the waterfall effect in a different way by extending the fronts to allow for drape. 

This was one of those sweaters that I originally thought "This would be great in a cropped style!" so I knit the entire thing including arms and endless rows of seed stitch for a border, tried it on, and decided it'd be much better longer. So off to the frog pond I went. There's something slightly heartbreaking about frogging a fingering weight cardigan especially if it's more than once. But I kept saying to myself that I had already frogged the entire thing once to make it fit perfectly so it's really not that bad frogging a comparatively small section to achieve a nice fit. 

In the end I'm happy that I frogged and now that it's finished and I'm on to other projects, I don't even remember the pain of frogging. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

WIP Wednesday #1

Dear Self,

Remember that year you ran to the yarn store on December 21st to start your Christmas knitting? Remember how you only watched Christmas movies to scare yourself into working faster? Remember how you managed to make a sweater, pair of socks, and a couple of scarf/mitt combos? Well, forget it. It's not happening this year. This year you're starting on October 21st. 

Today is a couple of firsts for me. My first ever WIP Wednesday and the first time I start Christmas knitting before December. 

There's something about knitting like crazy that last week before Christmas that's really exciting but this year I'm going with a more relaxed pace as far as knitting goes because I want to take full advantage of my favourite time of year instead of hiding and knitting away. A few weeks ago my dad said (very guiltily) that he only has 3 pairs of handknit socks despite having an entire family of knitters. You want socks? I'll give you socks. I'll give you seven pairs of handknit socks. 

I'm  really not loving the way these are knitting up. they stripe nicely for half of the sock and then the other half just doesn't look right. I may end up frogging and trying again with different stitch count or even just plain stockinette. Or maybe I'll go crazy with a slip stitch or something. 

So that's my main Christmas goal. At least seven pairs of boring (he loves boring) ribbed socks for my dad. And a sweater (or two) for my mom, and at least one large lace shawl for someone I cannot name. Plus I need time to stock up on new items for me! In all my years of knitting I have yet to make myself a hat. Every year I go hatless even though I can whip one up in an afternoon. This year I will have my hat. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


I really love Noro. I know a lot of knitters don't but I absolutely love it. While I probably wouldn't knit a sweater with some of their yarns (Kureyon, I'm looking at you) there are lots of other projects I would attempt. Unfortunately I have fallen madly in love with making Lanesplitters and already have several more planned.

Pattern: Lanesplitter
Yarn: Noro Silk Garden [7 skeins 358 grey-black-purple; 770 yards]
Needle Size: 4mm
Ravelry Project Page: Lanesplitter II

I've made Lanesplitter before but I didn't use Noro and instead opted for a solid on solid look. So when i found this colourway of Silk Garden I just went for it. First, I love knitting it. It''s a mindless knit but the constant colour changes make it not boring at all. It's also incredibly warm. It's perfect for winter but it can get a little hot with intense indoor heating. I'm willing to suffer through it though because I love the look of it. Unfortunately I didn't really follow the pattern for length and just went with a skirt I liked the fit of already and because of this it looks great standing up but is a little short when sitting down. Considering that this pattern is known to grow a little I'm not too worried about it. The only downfall is that I wear tights underneath and little fuzzies end up all over them underneath the skirt but because no one sees it, it's not really that big of an issue. 

Pattern: Lanesplitter
Yarn: Noro Kureyon [7 skeins; 770 yards]
Needle Size: 4mm
Ravelry Project Page: Lanesplitter III

I'm not as in love with the second one I made in Kureyon. While I love green and pink together I'm just not really loving the sudden pink and should have cut it out. I'm thinking of going back and fixing this. Either way i see lots more in my future. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Let the yarn do the talking

As much as I love lace and cables and texture sometimes I really love the simple things especially simple things that let all the wonderful colour changing yarns do the work. Sometimes it's nice to sit back and watch someone else work for you. And that's just what colour changing yarns do. They take something so simple and what would normally look plain in a solid or scattered in a variegated and turn it into something gorgeous with minimal effort. 

Yarn: Zitron Unisono [2 skeins 1225 gray-purple; 656 yards]
Needle Size: 5mm
Ravelry Project Page: Northern Lights

Some patterns are just made for long colour changing yarns and Northern Lights is one of them. In fact, I don't think I've seen a solid version of it although I'm sure there are quite a few. I have wanted to make this pattern for a very long time but it's so simple that it needed just the right yarn so I put it to the back of my mind while I searched for the perfect yarn. And then I met Unisono. I fell in love with this yarn because it feels incredible and then i discovered that what looks variegated in the hank actually has long colour changes and my mind instantly went to Northern Lights. I did a quick search to confirm and bought two skeins right away. 

I thought it was a dream to knit with and then I washed it. As soon as I lifted it out of the water I just wanted to pet it so I knew that once it dried it was going to be even more amazing to touch. The colours are incredible and I will definitely be using it again. 

Pattern: Multnomah
Yarn: Noro Silk Garden Sock [3 skeins 252; 984 yards]
Needle Size: 4mm
Ravelry Project Page: Multnomah II

Around the time I started knitting Noro was a big deal. It's still a very popular brand but it was huge at the time. So I amassed quite the collection of it because every time it went on sale I'd buy a quite a few especially the Silk Garden and Silk Garden Sock. There are a few colours I like but most tend to have one colour that just doesn't fit in quite right. I understand that it's the pop of odd colour that makes Noro so interesting but some of them just don't work for me and I end up cutting it out. But this colour, 252, is my perfect Noro colour. Okay, 358 (blue, gray, purple) is also pretty perfect. But there is just something about the bright green and deeper blue that I love about this colourway. 

When it comes to Noro I love feather and fan and other scalloped edgings because these stitches just show it off exactly the way I love showing it off. Multnomah is a pattern I have made before and it's another magical pattern that looks good in solids, variegateds, and of course long colour changing yarns. I made this one h-u-g-e. I used 2.5 times the yardage and I love the size of it. 

Yarn: Koigu KPM [2 skeins 1205 yellow 350 yards; 1.5 skeins 1160 merlot 262 yards]
Needle Size: 4mm
Ravelry Project Page: February Mystery Shawl

Sometimes you do need to do a little work for a simple knit instead of having the yarn do all the work. One of my new favourite ways to stripe is the vanishing colour where one fades into another. I think for a simple pattern it really ends up looking great. 

I loved the two colours together but as they were knitting up I felt like they were a little too off but once I washed it the red in the merlot ran a bit and darkened the yellow which made it look a lot better actually. The merlot is now a lot darker than when it was knitting up but in the sun the red undertones pop out and it looks great. In regular light it's more of a dark brown which I think also looks great. 

I strayed from the pattern a bit. First, I read the yardage wrong and thought I needed almost 400 yards of each colour so when I was almost done the pattern I thought it was odd at how small it was turning out. When I went back and re-read the yardage requirements I noticed my error. But I also noticed that the bottom of the shawl didn't match the top so I tried my best to make it symmetrical but ran out of yellow and needed to use the rest of the merlot for the cast off. I think it worked out nicely. I definitely plan on making something similar but with a better plan in mind. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Summer Waves

Yarn: Cascade Ultra Pima  [6 skeins ice; 1320 yards]
Needle Size: 4mm
Ravelry Project Page: Summer Waves

I didn't technically follow this pattern. I needed a summer cardigan and had about four days to make it. So I just cast on for a top down raglan and thought "Oh, I'll just add in a lace panel to make it a bit fancier" after finishing the body and sleeves I hunted for a while for some lace that I could easily insert. Because I was having a hard time imagining what it was going to look like and also because I was seriously running out of time (it still needed to be blocked before I could wear it!) I just hunted around Ravelry for a lace panel cardigan and this popped up. I immediately noticed that it was made in the same yarn and was the exact same style except I had opted for long sleeves. So I just used the chart and went for it. 

I don't know why but I always think "Oh, I want a cropped cardi" and then when I finish the body I think "Yeah, this will look great with dresses!" and even try it on with various outfits. Yes, I try half finished items on with things I intend to wear them with. When I get towards the end of something almost nothing will make me take a break. So by trying it on with various outfits I give my hands a little break without even knowing I'm doing it. After trying on I think I'm really confident in my decision and bind off. 

Somehow once one sleeve is done I begin to second guess myself. Now all I do is obsess about the length of the body and try it on again and again which make the sleeves go even slower. By the time I'm finished the second sleeve I don't even bother trying it on again and instead immediately start ripping back to lengthen it. And then I shorten it again. And then lengthen. 

Eventually i hit the sweet spot where I'm satisfied and I bind off. As I'm blocking I vow to myself that I will just compare it to a sweater that I love the length of. No matter what I do during the knitting process I know it will never look right because it still needs to block which often adds some length anyway and yet I still have the mental block of it needing to look right pre-blocking. I can never win. 

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Seeing Double

There are just some patterns that beg to be made over and over again.

The Holden Shawlette is magical in the it is one of the few patterns I've come across that look impressive in any yarn. Seriously, I've never seen a project that didn't look amazing. Normally I'm not a fan of highly variegated yarns and yet somehow the Holden manages to make it work. While I haven't personally made one with a very highly variegated one I have made two in a variegated yarn and both came out looking great (or so I think). I believe this shawl's magic lies in its simplicity which also makes it a mindless knit for me and a perfect last minute gift item. \

Pattern: Holden Shawlette
Yarn: Louet Euroflax Sport  [2 skeins skeins; 540 yards]
Needle Size: 4mm
Ravelry Project Page: Linen Holden

I had never really worked with linen too much before. I've dabbled with it but haven't made anything of this size. A lot of people complain about its roughness but I actually really enjoyed working with it and it made my hands feel great. But as I was working with it I felt that the stitch definition just wasn't there and I was beginning to get a little worried. Fear not! Once washed the linen blooms and a gorgeous fabric is created. This linen Holden is probably my favourite one I've made because it just looks so elegant. 

I wanted to use up every last bit of yarn so this has one extra repeat of the lace. 

Yarn: Zen Yarn Garden Serenity Silk Single  [1 skein; 430 yards]
Needle Size: 4mm
Ravelry Project Page: Holden Shawlette II

See? This pattern can do no wrong. Did I mention it's fast? I made my first Holden and this one in just two days. 

Pattern: Sweet Dreams 
Yarn: Zen Yarn Garden Serenity Silk + [.95 skein dragonfruit; 470 yards]
Needle Size: 4mm
Ravelry Project Page: Sweet Dreams

Another really simple yet impressive shawl is Sweet Dreams by Boo Knits. It's only available from the In Love Collection (e-book) but all the patterns are worth it. While it doesn't have the same magical characteristics that make it look amazing regardless of yarn used it really shines in semi solid colours. Being a crescent shape allows for a large finished shawl that's easy to wear but that doesn't require a lot of yardage.

One of the most important things about a pattern for me is to be able to easily resize it. I'm the kind of person who hates leftovers because they get tossed into a bin and then I feel like I need to make a scrap project of some kind and usually scrap projects involve lots of seaming and I hate seaming. So I try to avoid having leftovers, if possible. One way to do that, of course, is by adding on pattern repeats. Sometimes this can enhance a pattern while other times it can really take away from the beauty of a finished piece by giving it strange proportions. But with Sweet Dreams there's really only one pattern so it's very easy to resize while still looking great. 

Pattern: Sweet Dreams
Yarn: Malabrigo Silkpaca   [2.5 skeins Periwinkle; 1050 yards held double]
Needle Size: 4mm
Ravelry Project Page: Sweet Dreams II

One thing I have to say about all these shawls is that while they are simple and beautiful they also have the dreaded picot bind off. I'm willing to do it because it is one of the best ways to finish off a simple piece to give it a little extra whimsy. But, wow, does it take FOREVER! This particular Sweet Dreams had to be done in two days. I had almost finished the shawl when I noticed "Hmm, I think I did the beginning wrong" which is just sad because I've made this shawl before. It's one of those shawls with increases on the right and wrong side and all my other projects at the time (another reason for project monogamy) were right side row increases only. 

So I frogged it. And had to start again. One day left. I managed to get it all done and even took a little break thinking I just have the bind off and that won't take long. I always overestimate my speed when it comes to picot bind offs. Yes, I'm a fast knitter but I am a slow binder-offer (I'm also a slow caster-oner) and the picot bind off combines my two weakness requiring me to both cast on and then bind off the stitches I just cast on. 

When the shawl was complete it had taken me two hours just to bind off.

Now let's talk about the yarn. I'm a Malabrigo junkie. When I first started knitting Malabrigo was the cool yarn company and my first skein of Malabrigo was Malabrigo Lace. I sill love Malabrigo Lace. I know some people don't like it because they find it pills but I haven't had any pilling problems (although I've also never made a sweater out of it which is where most issues come from) and it's just so wonderfully soft that I'd be able to overlook it if it did pill a little. But in answer to these issues Malabrigo has enhanced their already popular baby alpaca lace by adding silk in. I'm not sure which yarn I prefer but the silkpaca is certainly wonderful and I'm sure much more popular amongst those who didn't like the baby alpaca lace. 

I have two more skeins wound up already (Ravelry Red) so i guess that says something. I think I'm going to try again at Ethereal Triangular Shawl by using two skeins (maybe even three) to make it bigger. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

So this is awkward

Last year I had such high hopes of blogging on the regular and I was actually starting to develop a rhythm! And then everything fell apart for reasons I'm not sure of and every time I went to blog I thought "But it's already been so long..." and now here we are over a year after my last blog post.

The idea of blogging (specifically about things I've made) appeals to me so much because while I do keep a log it doesn't go as in depth as I'd like it to be. In my attempt to not just photograph and write about the finished product I've decided to dedicate more time to keeping up with a blog.

Whenever I go on a blog hiatus (and it happens often) I come back and want to post about every single thing I've made since my last post but some things I finished so long ago and were so uneventful there's really nothing to say about them. Instead there will be a mini-celebration with short FO parades over the next few days.

Today is dedicated to my favourite thing ever: The Lace Shawl (it's gonna be a long one)

Pattern: Dew Drops Shawl
Yarn: Cascade Heritage Sock  [1.95 skeins 5631 charcoal; 852 yards]
Needle Size: 4mm
Ravelry Project Page: Dew Drops Shawl

Just over a year ago I fell in love with this pattern and immediately wanted to make it. Searching through my stash gave me lots of options but none were just right. I really wanted a grey shawl and what grey I had just wasn't enough for the massive shawl I had in mind. I ended up making it bigger than the pattern because one of my goals is to have as few leftovers as possible (I believe I have just 20 yards left of this) And, well, it's huge. 

Anyway, because I didn't have this perfect grey I was thinking of and my brief flirtation with purple fizzled out I picked up some grey and the yarn and the pattern sat untouched for almost a year. During all this time I kept thinking about it and wanted to cast on but other pretties always got in the way. 

When I finally cast on and finished it in June (in record time even, just two days!) I ended up tossing it into my FO basket and forgetting about it because I hate blocking and it was way too warm to wear anyway. I finally blocked it last week and even wore it! I seriously love this pattern and am planning to make it again in a silk blend. I'm sure it will take another year to get around to it. 

Pattern: Onerva
Yarn: Malabrigo Lace  [1 skein sealing wax; 470 yards]
Needle Size: 4mm
Ravelry Project Page: Onerva

I've made Onerva before and it is one of my favourite shawl patterns. It only takes one standard sized skein of lace weight at the minimum and can easily be resized by just continuing on in the pattern or even using any weight of yarn. It is also incredibly simple but looks very very impressive. 

Pattern: Azulejos
Yarn: Malabrigo Lace  [1.25 skeins Azul Bolita; 587.5 yards]
Needle Size: 4mm
Ravelry Project Page: Azulejos

I love making shawls. I love making shawls that start with a small amount of stitches because I really don't mind building up the stitches to impossibly long stitch counts for bind offs that take hours (I'm looking at you, picot) I know that lots of people enjoy casting on hundreds of stitches and then decreasing because they feel it's faster towards the end. Yes, most people tend to have more excitement when first starting a project so the long rows at the beginning aren't bothersome and ending with smaller stitch counts makes sense because everyone just wants things to hurry up and be finished already! 

But not me. I absolutely hate casting on more than a hundred stitches which is why I tend to avoid anything that requires me to do so. But as this shawl was a gift for someone and they fell in love with the pattern I cast on over 300 stitches in lace. 

I began thinking "This probably won't be so bad" but then several movies in (and no break, I'm bad with taking breaks if I get to just sit and knit) I felt like I had made no progress. It began to get really tedious and I was so excited when I began on the last chart. I think that's another reason why I like starting the other way. Usually borders are more intricate than the body and you can kind of warm up into it and because the body is usually simple it's easy to memorize and easy to say "Oh just one more repeat!". In my mind working on a shawl body is something I would do in a day because I tell myself I'll stop when I get to the next chart and it's completely doable. 

Granted, it was worth it because this pattern is gorgeous and I'm shocked that a lot of people haven't made it. And, yes, the shawl goes by incredibly fast once the edging is done but I will not be making another shawl with a large cast on any time soon even though I have fallen in love with several. 

Yarn: Louet Paco Vicunas  [1.8 skeins natural; 630 yards]
Needle Size: 3.75mm
Ravelry Project Page: Cable & Lace Shawl

Finally the most intricate (and luxurious) of my lace shawls. While this technically took me three months to do I did a lot of other things in between and actually recall frogging this once because it had slipped off the needles and an entire section had unravelled. This is why I like to be monogamous in my knitting because otherwise things take forever. This was a long haul project but worth it in the end because it's possibly one of the most rewarding things I've made. At the end there are 17 cables on either side of the spine. 34 cables right next to lace in laceweight yarn on tiny needles. The thing that saved me the most was cabling without a needle here if I had to do it with a needle this would probably still be on the needles. This was fairly tricky however as the yarn was both teeny tiny and slippery. 

We need more edgings like this as well. Edgings typically take forever because there are so many stitches but this is worked separately and joined when the shawl is complete. Even though I'm sure it takes the same amount of time it sure feels faster with such short rows. 

Tomorrow's parade will be similar to today's. Even more lace shawls.