I didn’t plan on it

Last weekend I went down to my old stomping grounds in Southern California to visit friends and family – it had been a whole year since I had gone!  It was a weekend of eating bigger meals with everyone – but really delicious.

Everything was blooming, including the Jacaranda trees!

and high school friends looked good while we sighed a lot about our current President.

And I traveled with these lovely young ladies on my maiden trip on the LA metro – finally!

And we saw amazing independent podcasters do their thing at the Ace Hotel in Downtown after having probably the best Chinese dumplings ever!

 

While on the trip, I watched for the Colorwash shawl  – which looked good:

but then I had a knitting emergency!  Somehow I had lost the knitting needle that I had used – a size 4 interchangeable ChaioGoo. Yikes!

So, while it hadn’t been in my plans at all, I found a new-to-me yarn store in Pasadena – right next to the Pasadena Playhouse, and it’s lovely. The staff couldn’t have been better! Next time I’ll buy some yarn – it has some great stuff. But I didn’t plan on it!

One evening I had dinner with family friends – that’s Tuan, who came here with his family as a refugee back in the 1970s, and now in retrospect, I find it funny that I taught him and his sister English – both have college degrees and are professionals. Refugees rock!

Yes, we watched SNL Saturday night since it was live on the West Coast for a change. Tuan’s daughters wanted to watch mainly for Haim. We adults were watching for Melissa McCarthy’s impression of Sean Spicer.

So good to see folks I don’t get see often enough, and there was progress on the shawl:

On my return, I ordered needle tips and a new cable for my interchangeable set (because unless you have all of them, it isn’t that useful), and they arrived quickly:

Of course, the day after I ordered them, my host Bonny found the errant knitting needle near the couch in the living room, so I basically bought two more size 4 needles than I need. Whoops!

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Decision Made

So, I’ve decided on this set of skeins for my Colorwash Scarf. I’d like to say that the voting in the pool affected me, but there was only one vote, so not so much, folks.

 

The yarn is wound, the pattern is printed and ensconced in a protective sleeve, hopefully a little watching before I leave to figure out needle sizes, and decisions on a bag to hold it.

This will be my travel project as I head down to Southern Cal to see friends and family, and also take in a fun show called Radi0topia Live – which will feature some of my favorite podcasters, and has the advantage of being in a very cool downtown hotel – the Ace. I’m pretty sure I’m not cool enough for this venue!

Photos and more on the other end of the trip.

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Spring pursuits 

Thursday it was in the high 90’s here in Fresno; yesterday we were in the low 80’s and today we might not get out of the 60’s. It must be spring!

I’m making steady progress on the summer top based on another one I knit a while back in a different yarn. I had to do the maths to make it work. I really like the Sally Melville’s Knitting Pattern Essentials for such endeavors. That’s how I figured out how to do the shirttail hem, and what kind of decreasing I need to do for a scoop-neck. But there is so much more to this book, it’s good if you want to dip your toe into designing your own stuff, or copying that sweater you love. And she has magical formulas for making your button bands turn out well in all kinds of stitch patterns!

So far, so good.  The uneven bits will be fine once I wash the yarn as I did in the switching.

It’s being done on Size 2 needles, so it’ll go slow; I forgot about that when I decided to make this again! I’m now beyond the armhole bind-offs.

The other kind of pursuit is getting the cold weather stuff put away and the warm weather stuff out. Here’s what the spring/summer sweaters look like. I did wash and block a couple that look a whole lot better now!

and that means the woolly ones need to be washed before I put them away:

 

Brandy didn’t quite get the concept of laying them out – she loved the smell I guess!

And in non-knitting news: I decided before I went out and bought a new dress for my little cousin’s wedding to try on all the ones I own, and it turns out that I already have a great but different dress from the one I wore to her sister’s wedding.  I’m not crazy about the little bolero sweater I wear with it (which is black, not so good for a farm-style wedding), but I found something on Lands’ End that will come in time. Now to find some comfy shoes to switch into for the reception!

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Options (with a poll)

Some cool things got ordered and came in the mail. First up – Eiffel Tower scissors! Aren’t they cute?

They remind me of my trip to France last year!

and then some fun things from Mason-Dixon Knitting came – a set of their Field Guides at a really good price! You get both the print books and e-books as well.

So small and cute! Such great patterns!

The one I’m looking at right now is from Field Guide No. 3 – Wild Yarns, it’s a scarf called the Colorwash Scarf, which is a fun easy knit that I can take on my trip to SoCal. The pattern calls for two colorways of fingering sock yarn, they don’t have to have a lot of contrast. I rummaged into my stash and came up with two options:

Option 1: Anzula Nebula in the Minty Unicorn Colorway (left), and MadelineTosh Tosh Sock in the Filigree Colorway (right)

 

Option 2: Fable Fibers folktale in the Asheville color way (left) and Anzula Milky Way in the Emerald color way (right)

 

If you’re reading this, go ahead and vote on which option you think I should use:

I’m chugging away at knitting more Knitted Knockers. I particularly like the silver and pink version (a way to use up scraps).

 

Finally, I found a home for my shawl – it’s a color that I don’t like. My hairdresser, Camille, is a great recipient – she’s lovely, looks good in this color, and she appreciates the hand knits!

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FO: Haematoxylum

 


Haematoxylum, according to Wikipedia, is a kind of tree that is part of the legume family. In this case, it is the pattern name by Ysolda Teague reflects the fact that this shawl design incorporates some subtle tree designs into it.

The pattern was part of the Ysolda 2016 club, the final shipment, and it has been sitting around my apartment for the past few months. It was a fun and simple knit – mostly garter and stockinette stitch, with a little lace on one edge.

The yarn is luscious – a lovely dusty-pink-rose in the Briar Rose colorway in Sock by Shilasdair. This is a lovely independent dyer on the Isle of Skye – truly a lovely, slightly crunchy but not scratchy yarn.

Izzie seems to approve! Project details here (rav link)

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Lull


This past few weeks has been a knitting lull – an in-between point in which I was trying to figure out what to knit next, and while I labored over trying to crochet a butterfly.

Butterflies

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, my fiber talents have gone towards garments and accessories, not art installation. This is as far as I got on my own:

which wasn’t very butterfly-like. Through the magical talents of Susan, our arts coordinator, we got to this:

— with molding wire, some tweaking, adding in the paper, and the pipe cleaners, it passed inspection. Apparently without some of these additions, it looked more like an insect than a butterfly – lol! And that’s ok – this was an experiment, and clearly not that successful, but it was a fun adventure while it lasted.

New things

I decided I wanted to knit another summery top, and spent far too much time deep-diving into Ravelry to look for things. I thought I’d decided on a top,

and went looking for yarn  and was reminded about this site called Colourmart – which sells cone ends of yarns used in manufacturing knitted items by machine. Lots of knitters, especially those who use lace yarn, swear by this stuff, which is very economical.

A couple of warnings: often the yarns on the cone still have oils in them that make them hardier for the knitting by machine, and most of the single yarns are fingering weight and lighter, although folks often double or triple the yarns for hand-knitting purposes.  Also, the weights of the yarn are expressed by formula (see here) so you have to be able to decode them to understand what they are.

I decided to do a smallish adventure into a Colourmart purchase, and found some cotton/silk/linen blend yarn at an economical $36 for a shell-type garment (800 yards of fingering weight). It came lickety-split — and I quickly knit up a swatch. Now knitting this yarn requires a special technique as well – this is coned yarn, so I pulled out my “lazy kate” and stuck a pen into the hole and plopped the cone on top of it. For now, it works and it’s free, although I probably should get a rotating yarn holder. Once I knit my swatch, which looked like this:
I realized that the yarn probably had machine oils in the yarn, so at first I just soaked the yarn and then smelled it – yuck – there were definitely still oils in the yarn. Then I machined-washed the swatch in warm water, and allowed it to dry. It passed the smell test this time. Here’s a comparison – left-hand swatch is just off the needles, and the other one is post-washing.

So, after all that, I’ve decided to make a variation on a tank top that I designed a while back and has never been blogged about because I had this notion of turning it into a knitting pattern. I’ve gotten this far:

Yeah, not so much, but the lull is over at least!

Tomorrow I’ll blog about the project that I did finish. The Lull is officially over!

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Signs and symbols

Faith traditions have signs and symbols related to key parts of the faith. Water for baptism, a dove for Noah’s Ark. The cross for the Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection. Yesterday, it was palms for Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, the beginning of Holy Week.

Easter, as one of the big Christian holidays, has its own symbols: the Phoenix (think Harry Potter – JK Rowling knew her symbols), the egg, and the butterfly – all metaphors for transformed life.

This year, the church I serve is using butterflies as our community art symbol for Easter. Our volunteer (and fabulous) arts coordinator asked me to create a larger fibery butterfly. Since I am more of a crafter that artsy girl, this was a little scary.

I procrastinated, and pondered. I bought a skein of yarn and then did nothing with it. Nothing happened. So finally I decided to just start experimenting by taking the skeing of yarn and trying out a spiral. This is what I got:

 

 

This was decidedly underwhelming. It’s a round spiral with not much butterfly in it. So I pondered some more, and decided to test out doing the butterfly in crochet, because it is easier to shape on the fly. With hook in hand and scrap yarns in a variety of colors, I began to work a spine and a couple of wings.

 

This looks pretty good, and my plan is to run the edges and spines with wires to give a three-dimensional shape. I’m playing now with lower wings:

and I think I’ve got something to work with. Lot’s more to do – creating a bright edge, weaving in ends, adding sparkle (somehow!), installing wires and shaping.

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Palette cleanser

I’m in-between projects now – I have more shawls than I know what to do with, so I’m not really into knitting some, and need to figure out what to do with the extras. And then I remembered that my dishcloths were looking kinda bad.

Bam! I immediately got out my colors of Knitpicks Cotlin yarn (a blend of cotton and linen) , and started knitting. And I ended up with several of them:

In there is the Ballband dishcloth that I love because it’s fun and you can do stuff with colors.

The orange, which will go to my administrator who thinks these are wonderful, is called Fresh, which is from a terrific book called Dishcloth Diva, but you can buy it separately (but buy the book – you’ll be glad you did). The patchwork one peeking out from the back is a Mason-Dixon pattern called The Nine-Patch Dishrag (free on their blog – scroll down), which is a great way to use up scraps of yarn:

I love these – they’re quick, they brighten things up, and now I’m ready to consider more substantial knitting – maybe a shell for summer?

And now I need to consider what to do about those shawls – I have a few that I’m now tired of. What do you do with things like this? Auction them off? Give to friends? Let me know how you deal with extra knitwear in the comments.

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a little mosaic knitting

Our guild does a couple of charity projects every year, and we are making hats, so I dug into my stash to find some suitable yarn. There was an odd skein of some Knit Picks cotton in grey, and some brighter skeins of washable wool – both in sport weight. I found a fun free pattern on Knitty – Maze, and I was off to the races:


I made some modifications to the pattern, as I wanted a more slouchy hat effect. I cast-on with the Italian tubular cast-on, did some 1×1 ribbing before starting the color pattern. I did three full repeats of the pattern, instead of the 1.5 indicated for the large size in the pattern.

The test of combining the wool and cotton yarns was in the blocking as to whether the wool and cotton would play together nicely – I threw it into the washer and dryer – and voila – it looks great.

Mosaic knitting is a good way to ease into color knitting you only knit with one color at a time, but you get to work on tension as if you were doing stranded knitting!

This week I was sloppy about making my bed, leaving a pillow lying flat, and guess what happened?

I think Izzie thinks the extra pillow is her new cat bed.

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FO: Autumn Fusion Shawl

To recap:

I went on a one-day East Bay yarn crawl last summer, and at one lovely yarn shop, A Yarn Less Raveled, I discovered a lovely customer sample of the Autumn Fusion Shawl.  After hunting for a suitable yarn for the contrast color, I finally gave in and ordered the original yarn from Canon Hand Dyes.

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This shawl will be a great addition to spring/summer attire – I often need a bit of warmth under air conditioning, and these are some of my go-to colors. I added an applied a three-stitch I-cord edging and am happy with how that turned out.

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Project details here: Revknits Autumn Fusion Shawl

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