Friday, March 1, 2013

Latest finished object: State Street Cowl

Last Christmas I received two skeins of lovely charcoal-grey alpaca yarn from my sister-in-law -- a very thoughtful gift. She made me promise to knit something for myself from the yarn, and it took a while for me to find the perfect thing.

First I made it into a Birthday Cowl, trimmed in a baby-pink silk-blend yarn I've also been holding on to. But once it was finished, although I loved the pattern, I didn't like the way the pink edges curled up so much, so I ripped it all out.

I finally settled on the State Street Cowl, a pattern I actually paid money for (a rare occurrence). I resisted for two reasons:
  1. I hate being a follower, and two bloggers I read regularly-- Karen Templer of the Fringe Association and Kay Daly of Mason-Dixon were both knitting this cowl
  2. I was a little concerned about the alpaca's fuzziness obscuring the pattern

But I decided to go for it anyway. It was pretty fast and fun to knit.

Once it was done, the question was, to block or not? Kay's post about the cowl cautioned against blocking it, although most of her readers liked the blocked version. Karen lobbied to do it.

I did block it, and the end result was that it got quite a bit wider from blocking and wearing it.

It's still attractive, but in a different way. I'll wear it with a decorative shawl pin.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Chevron cowl

I really like the new trend of chevron stripes, and I wanted to see if I could incorporate it into a cowl. Starting with the general guidelines from this Striped Chevron Baby Blanket pattern that I found on Ravelry, I adapted it for a cowl.

Here is the pattern. I used easy-care commercial yarns rather than the hand-dyed ones I prefer because I'm making this for a friend who prefers this.

The chevron stripes are formed by decreases and increases. You alternate a chevron row with a knit row. You may want to place a marker between every chevron to make sure you're staying on track. (I did, and it really helped!) This is a 15-stitch chevron pattern, so you'll be repeating it five times in every chevron row.

Main color: Cascade Pacific in baby blue
Contrast color: Lion Wool-Ease in ivory
Accent color: Lion Wool-Ease in black
Needle: Size 8 16" circular

Chevron pattern: K2tog, k5, yo, k1, yo, k5, slip 1, K1, PSSO
(Slip 1, K1, PSSO = slip 1 stitch to the right-hand needle, knit 1, then pass the slipped stitch over the knitted stitch. See more details here.)

Cast on 75 stitches in the main color. Join for knitting in the round, making sure stitches are not twisted. Place marker.

Step 1. In main color, do 3 rows in garter stitch: Purl 1 row, knit 1 row, purl 1 row.

Step 2. Ivory stripe: In contrast color, do 8 rows
Row 1: knit
Row 2: chevron pattern (5 times)
Repeat 3 times

Step 3. Blue/black stripe: In main color, do 4 rows
Row 1: knit
Row 2: chevron pattern (5 times)
Repeat 1 time

Switch to accent color, do 2 rows
Row 1: knit
Row 2: chevron pattern (5 times)

Switch back to main color, do 4 rowsRow 1: knit
Row 2: chevron pattern (5 times)
Repeat 1 time

Step 4: Ivory stripe (Repeat of Step 2)

Step 5: Blue/black stripe (Repeat of Step 3)

Step 6: Ivory stripe (Repeat of Step 2)

Step 7: Garter stitch (Repeat of Step 1)

Bind off loosely. (As always, I used Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off.)

The finished cowl is 17 1/2" diam and 10" high -- kind of close to the neck and tall enough to pull over your ears on a windy day. I'm making another one a little wider and shorter, so I may post pictures of that too.

Let me know if you have any comments or questions.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Color pop infinity scarf

I've been experimenting with color lately and wanted to create some knitted pieces with a nod to the trend of color-blocked fashion. I had the idea of creating a very neutral object with a pop of color at the edges or maybe in the middle. And because the whole pop of color reminds me of spring, I tried it out in a spring weight yarn. (I say this as I watch a rare snowfall outside my window.)

So, here is my creation:

Body: Cascade Ultra Pima in Mocha
Trim: Sirdar Snuggly BabyBamboo in Yummy Yellow
Needle: Size 6 32" circular
Finished size: 8 1/2" high x 60" circumference

Here is the pattern. (I am a loose knitter, so you may want to go up a needle size, but it's not critical for this pattern.)

Using the trim color, cast on 200 stitches.
Join for knitting in the round, making sure stitches are not twisted. Place marker.
Round 1: Purl 1
Round 2: K2 together, YO, repeat until the end
Round 3: Purl
Round 4: Knit

Break yarn and switch to main color.
Knit the entire skein.
Switch back to the trim color.

Finishing trim pattern:
Round 1: Knit
Round 2: Purl
Round 3: K2 together, YO, repeat until the end
Round 3: Purl

Bind off loosely. I recommend Jeny's Surprisingly Stretchy Bind-Off. Block and wear!

Just for kicks, I entered this into the DesignSponge January Instagram challenge -- we'll see what happens with that!

I've bought both of these yarns in other colors and plan to make more of these.

What do you think?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Remember the Cedar Leaves Shawlette I wrote about in my last post? Yes, the one where I was almost halfway done and then realized I needed to rip it out?

Well, I finished it last weekend!

Here's a picture:

(I know, not the most flattering shot of me, but I love the way the scarf looks!)

I have been wearing it pretty much every day since I finished it. It's soft and really fun to wear, and the leaves turned out very nicely, if I do say so myself.

Now I'm making the Cascade Lacey Tee for a class -- learning the tubular provisional cast-on and waist shaping. Challenging....

And I'm also trying to finish the beautiful ribbed Joelle's Favorite Vest I started last summer. Never enough time to knit.....

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The zen of knitting

I am working on the Cedar Leaf Shawlette pattern by Alana Dakos. It's a long, narrow shawl, with 270 stitches to cast on. On row 32, I came to the sinking realization that I had made an irrecoverable mistake in just about every row -- I miscounted the short row stitches.

So I did what I've done so many times before -- ripped it out and started over. I've just finished the border, again, and before I make the mistake again, I am checking with my favorite knitting "sifu" (master), Lisa Whiting.

For some reason, the fact that I had to rip it out is disappointing but not frustrating. I've learned how to wrap and turn, and I get to spend more time working with this lovely Malabrigo Silky Merino yarn in Manzanilla Olive.

This is the zen that knitting reinforces for me. Nice.

I'm looking forward to finishing and wearing the shawl, though!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Knitting and thinking

I find that when my hands are busy knitting, my mind is free to think. Sometimes it's small things like errands I've forgotten about, but often I get some interesting ideas, such as new ways to connect with others in my community or potential business ideas to explore.

Do you find that too?

I just finished a huge project that was just row upon row of garter stitch. It turned out to look really nice, and the singular stitch allowed my mind to really wander. (And I of course forgot to take a picture of it -- d'oh!) My list of to-dos and ideas is really long now!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Sources of Inspiration

Somehow, for me, discovering knitting also reawakened my environmental spirit. While I've been toting my groceries home in canvas bags for almost 20 years and have composted on and off for 10 years, I've started looking at the everyday things around me in a new light.

And I've started challenging myself:

Why buy premade what I can create myself?
Why not be the artist envisioning and making beautiful objects?

Some sources of inspiration:
Craftzine, which sends me a daily email featuring almost a dozen handmade items
local craft fairs, including the DIY Trunk Show, Urban Folk Circuit, and Renegade 
the beautiful pictures I see on Pinterest

and, as of today, a Tumblr blog called Unconsumption that my daughter shared with me

What inspires you?