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Handspun Yarn – Lucky Me!

February 17

You remember my friend Adrienne (otherwise known as “truffle” on Ravelry). She’s the accomplice I buddied up with to complete the TKGA Master Hand Knitting Level 1. Having taken up spinning, she gave me 300 yards of yarn she spun her very own self for Christmas. And it’s in my all-time favorite blues, greens and teals. Swoon!

 

Inspector #27 approves the fiber for winding (before he curls up for his nap):

 

Wound and ready to knit:

 

I can’t get over how lucky I am to have a friend who would give me such gorgeous, hand-made yarn. Thank you Adrienne!

posted under Yarn | 5 Comments »

Smock Top Sweater

January 11

My Smock Top Sweater design, originally published in Knotions, is now available here. And its free!

The traditional style lends itself well to dressing up (maybe with pretty black slacks?) or dressing down (paired with jeans for cozy fall and winter gatherings). Its versatility makes it useful in a time when we are all trying to get the most out of our garments.

The sweater features a form-flattering ribbed body topped by feminine smocking. The turtleneck is knit with ever-increasing sizes of needles to drape softly at the neck line.

Knit from the bottom up, the body’s 2×2 ribbing flows seamlessly into the smocking pattern that adorns the chest. At the top of the smocking, the ribs flow up to match at the shoulder, making for a pretty join.

And now for something really fun….

I know I was a little intimidated the first time I tried to knit smocking. Like a lot of seeming challenges, once I tried it, I nearly laughed at how easy it is. I’ve made a YouTube video demonstrating how to make the smocking, in case you’d like a little guidance.

The updated version of the Smock Top Sweater pattern includes corrections, clarifications, and the addition of metric measurements.

The Smock Top Sweaters that I knit for myself are made from the yarn called for in the pattern, Rowan Classic Yarns’ Cashsoft DK. I adore this yarn! It’s soft against my skin, and the bit of cashmere  content gives it warmth without excess weight.

I caught Stella (my dress form) wearing it early one morning, hanging out by the last of my dahlias.

I hope everyone’s New Year is off to a great start. Happy knitting!

Brooklyn Tweed Projects

December 1

Toward the end of November I found myself  home in California (finally!) long enough to take two classes from Jared Flood, also known in the knitting community as Brooklyn Tweed. Besides Thanksgiving, Jared was one of the reasons I came back from Ohio at all. (Don’t tell him that – he’ll think I’m stalking him or something.) Jared was hosted by the fabulous Santa Barbara yarn and tea shop called Loop & Leaf.

The first class I took included  colorwork instruction using the Beaumont Tam/Beanie as the project. This is a lovely stranded pattern from Jared’s book Made in Brooklyn. Using Classic Elite’s Fresco, it has a slightly fuzzy look thanks to the yarn’s bit-of-angora mix. All I can say is that I feel like “AudKnits, Home of the Wonky Stitches” every time I knit stranded patterns. Including my own. I have to have faith that blocking will work its usual magic on my tam. Despite this photo’s depiction, the hat pattern is gorgeous – you can check it out in the book or among the projects on Ravelry.

Beaumont-Cropped-2

The second class was based on Jared’s pattern Girasole. Described as “A traditional lace shawl”, the pattern is stunning and can be made up as a blanket, rather than a shawl, by using worsted yarn. I’m trying it in Cascade Pastaza. Jared explained that the llama content in Pastaza will make this a heavy blanket. (Sounds just right for Ohio winters.)  I’m making it in a rust color I never would have chosen except for a certain friend who (correctly) chastised me for being so predictable in always going for greens and blues. So there.

The coolest technique I learned in the Girasole class was the circular center cast on for Girasole. That and the various ways to put a lifeline into the work.

Girasole-Beginning-2

This thing is going to be huge when it grows up! It looks square now just because it hasn’t graduated to circular needles yet. Do you think I should aim for the next World Series as a completion date? Knitting blankets while my husband watches baseball seems to be a tradition now.

Braided Mittens for Mom

November 10

As it cools off here in Cleveland, I want to make sure my Mom has something warm on her hands when we take her outside. I had a blast making these mittens for her. The color looks great with her bright blue eyes.

I often wear my hair in a braid down my back. By using the braided cable in the mittens, I’m hoping she’ll be reminded of  how much I love her when she wears them.

Mittens-1

 

Because of Mom’s stroke, one hand has problems with swelling. We couldn’t get commercially-made mittens to fit over that hand. I’m grateful I can knit, so I could make the mitten for that hand wider. A nice custom fit!

In the process of making these, I found another handy use for lifelines. I’ve used them in lace projects, but it only now dawns on me that they’re a good way to mark the beginning of shaping for mittens’ tops and socks’ toes.  I put the lifeline in when I thought the mitten was long enough, then proceeded with shaping the top. The mitten was still too short. I measured the deficiency so I’d know how much extra knitting would be needed. Fixing the problem was a simple matter of ripping back to the lifeline, knitting the extra length that I had already measured, then shaping  the top again. Perfect!

Mittens-Life-Line-1

 

I used Rowan’s Lima yarn. It’s mostly baby alpaca, with some merino wool and nylon mixed in. I liked the yarn’s woven construction.

Lima-Closeup

One of these days I’d like to make a simple turtleneck from this yarn. It’ll help me make that mental shift from California to (brrr) Ohio!

 

Rowan Heaven

February 20

Those who know me well understand that I am completely obsessed with Rowan and RYC yarns. I have all the shade cards. When the new cards to come out in spring and fall they absorb my attention the way normal people become engrossed in Tom Clancy novels. I pat the little samples and pore over every fiber. So imagine my coming across and entire wall plus a rotating free-standing display of Rowan yarn. Oh, what a happy sight.

 I was thrilled to discover that this heavenly stash of Rowan yarns resides just up the coast from me, at Monarch Knitting & Quilts in Pacific Grove. It’s a good thing it’s a two hour drive from here. I’d just bring my blanket and move in if Joan would let me.

I love the way the colors in the store are arranged.

I guess we’re spoiled in California. When CAT and I were in this store she remarked on how little room there is in the New York yarn shops. Monarch has plenty of room to move around and is a feast for the eyes and imagination. I can’t wait to go back!

posted under Yarn, Yarn Shop | 2 Comments »
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