FO Friday – Southern Skies

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Happy Friday, indeed!  My Southern Skies shawl is finally done!  Each bead & eyelet combo represents a star.  Together, they are an accurate representation of the night sky as seen in the Southern Hemisphere.  Blah, blah, blah…no one is ever going to know that’s Canus Major at the bottom of the photo there but it is!  Only took me 5 minutes to figure that out, with a cheat sheet.

No, the remarkable thing about this shawl is purple cashmere!  I wish you could pet it.  It’s amazing.  The purple strand is one of my favorite yarns, Superior Cashmere.  Yum!  They call it sport weight.  I call it lace weight.   I like to pair it with Panda Silk, for a bit of body.  The photos don’t do it justice.  I love it!

It took a while, a third of the project, to really find a rhythm.  It’s a charted design that is entirely non-repeating.  At it’s longest, each row was 576 stitches or 8 pages of chart.  There’s no other way to do it.  The consolation is it’s very easy knitting, stockinette stitch with ‘YO, K2Tog’ forming the eyelets.  The beads are placed on the following row.  No brainer, once you figure out the mechanics of it.

I made a couple modifications.  I stopped (aka ran out of yarn) around row 120.  The pattern continues to row 160.  Doesn’t sound like much but that’s ~half the yarn necessary.  It would have been huge had I continued.  I was ready to be done though.  I’m not sure pi shaping is for me.  I’ll wear it folded in half most of the time.

I modified the bind off as well, subbing in a beaded picot edge to use the remainder of my beads (because of course I had plenty of those.)  You can find those details here!

Now, you’ll have to excuse me, I may have had an idea that demands casting on…right now?!?  (I last nearly 24 hours!  Wooo!)

A Tale of Two Swatches.

It’s time to prepare for the Ravellenic Games (the knitting olympics, for those not in the know)!  My event is the ‘Sweater Triathlon’.  Yes, that means I’m going to knit an entire sweater in 17 days.  I want a sweater.  I have yarn for sweaters.  I have sweater patterns in mind.  I just finished a whole bunch of WIPs.  The time is right.

Option #1

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The yarn is Lace Lux, same as the scarf I just finished.  The pattern is Sabine.  A repeat of this beauty…

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I really want to wear that sweater!  Just not sure I want to knit it in 17 days.  Even on a size 6, that’s a lot of stitches.  So…

Option #2

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Chunky yarn on size 11 needles.  Now that seems reasonable!  The pattern I’ve got in mind is Stephen West’s Outer Space.  It’s got the classic WestKnits’ wedge & stripe construction so even if I don’t like wearing it, I’m going to like knitting it.

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I get to stashbust a little.  I’m throwing in the leftovers from the cardigan I knit in January. I think this is the plan.  With only 17 days to execute, it’s good to have a plan.

Cast on is one week from tomorrow…theoretically, I’m continuing my WIP knitdown until then.  I may crack though.  It’s hard to not cast on.  Amirite?  I’m gonna try.  I’ll keep you posted!

FO Tuesday — The ABBA Hat

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For my next trick, I present back-to-back crochet FOs!   There’s not much to say about this one.  It’s a quickie custom job I picked up, being in the right place, at the right time.  It was a kit.  I followed the instructions.

Okay, I made a couple little mods, went up a hook size and tweaked it to work in a spiral rather than rows.  Trivial stuff.

The fun part of this project is where it came from…Sweden!  ABBA: The Museum to be exact!

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This is Agnetha’s ‘Famous’ Blue Hat from the Waterloo video!  They sell the kit at the Abba museum in Stockholm.  I love everything about this.  I definitely would have bought this.  I think every museum should have hat kits in the gift shop!

And now, Dance Break!

 

Don’t worry, there are sequins for this hat…it will be authentic.  They’re glued on, so the gentleman who commissioned my services is going to handle that part himself!

I had planned to put my hooks away for a bit but this was fun, I’m thinking I may have to hunt up some blue yarn & sequins to make one of my own.  LOL!   My craft card should be revoked if I can’t find sequins in my apartment!  I know they’re here somewhere…

 

 

FO Monday -Crochet ‘Entrelac’

Last week there were multiple FOs for other people.  This week there are multiple FOs for me.  This is the part where have 10 WIPs at once finally pays off!

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First up, the crochet piece I started as a swatch.  It was so much fun to do that it grew into a full blown WIP, complete with yarn chicken!  I got more yarn, only a single skein though.  I knew then, it wouldn’t be enough but it was available and it was a dye lot match and one is better than none.

With my skein count at 4, I decided, enough is enough, even if I barely had a scarf.  That’s 4 skeins of Crystal Palace Mini Mochi, 780 yards.   (Which I’m just now realizing is way less than I thought.  Each skein is 195 yards, I thought it was 300.  I was annoyed that 1200 yards wasn’t enough.  ooops.  my bad.  I completely understand why I never had enough now!  On average, crochet uses 30% more yardage than knitting.  Imagine a knit shawl with 520 yds.  yeah, that’s exactly what I’ve got here.  and it’s just not enough.)

 

I’m quite pleased with my solution to the problem, in any case!  It’s a button!  One single button from the stash.  It wasn’t even an agonizing decision, as buttons often are.

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With one little plastic button, I’ve gone from shawl-that-isn’t-even-big-enough-to-be-a-scarf to the perfect garment.   The stitch pattern (diagonal crochet stitch tutorial here) is predominately double crochets.  They’re tall enough that a button pushes through anywhere, easily…no buttonhole necessary!  (aka no planning necessary!)

Now I’ve got a beautiful shrug!  Perfect for warming the shoulders without the bulk of a shawl (or the fuss.)

I realize this isn’t a new or unique idea but I’m tickled pink with it.  There are lots of ideas out there.  That doesn’t help me remember them all.  Having the right idea at the right time…priceless!  I never would have planned this and I’m pleased as Punch that this is where I’ve ended up.   I may never take it off…at least until the next FO comes around!

 

Freddy, Jr.

Who’s inner 5-year old doesn’t want to live in Opposite Land?  It’s been FO after FO all week, so it’s entirely fitting to end the week with a new cast on.  Yay Opposite Land!  Anything to keep me from finishing my mini mochi crochet shawl, that Rockefeller I started way bay when, the hitchhiker I impulse casted on last week, or even that project who’s bind off is half finished.  I could do just half a row, and have a beautiful, beaded, purple, cashmere shawl but no, I’d rather start something new!!

New is so exciting!  I love new!  Especially when it’s something fun.  Something ridiculous.  You may have noticed how much I like knitting ridiculous things.

570C44E9-093A-4ACE-BB39-F74C19434ED4 Like a Freddy Krueger sweater for a little kid!  It’s just such a good idea, it has to happen.

The yarn was sitting right *there*.   As if that was an accident?  Clearly, it was meant to be.

 

I’m staying true to the look of the original sweater but I’m changing the construction. This is a no brainer as a top down, raglan, pullover.  The original is a very fine rib, machine made I’m sure.  I’m going stockinette, again, no brainer…in the round, just knit away, making an occasional stripe.  Yeah, I got this.

 

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An inch of ribbing, go up a needle size, start the raglan increases.  It’s perfect.  Who says patterns and gauge swatches and measurements are important?  Not me!  At least, not yet!  Happy Friday :)

 

The Best of the Secrets

I saved the best of the secret knitting, or at least the cutest, for last!  In addition to the baby sweater, the gift I gave and the gift I received, there was a group project for our pregnant gal!  We debated what to do for a long time.  Squares for a blanket seemed easiest except when it came to assembly.  No one wanted to volunteer for that!  Seaming your own work is chore enough.  Seaming someone else’s work takes a special kind of nutty.

We started to run out of time.   We couldn’t decided on a type of project, let alone a pattern or yarn.  And then a flash of brilliance struck!  Someone suggested a mobile…perfect!  Picking a theme was easy for our resident biologist/open water swimmer…Under the sea!

We all set out to pick our own patterns, use our own yarn, knit at our own gauge.  Exactly the type of accommodations a group project of this nature needed!   In the end, the ‘related separates’ idea brought a terrific dynamic to the finished mobile.  Every critter has it’s own little personality.  If one of us had made all the critters, I think it would have been a bit flat.  They’d all be the same style, a bit homogenized.  Instead, we’ve got a super little underwater party happening!

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As the collection started to grow, we still needed someone to do assembly.  Being unemployed, I had the time so I volunteered.  I just kinda winged it all, and somehow it all worked out!  I started by wrapping the inside hoops of a couple old embroidery in yarn, some random random Noro from the stash.  Yay Stashbusting!

Then I hung the critters using an invisible nylon thread.  Took a little trial and error to get the best method but in the end, everybody played nice together!

 

As it came together, it was hard to contain the excitement of how perfect it really was.   In the end, everyone loved it and it fit the nursery perfect.  It’s hard to think of adjectives other than ‘perfect’ and ‘adorable’.  Once again, not having a plan, was a really good plan!

 

Get a closer look and more details on some of the critters here:

Stinging Nettle

Blue Fish

Green Fish

Top Starfish

Striped Fish

And now, it’s time to get back to current knitting.  I’m only halfway through my 576 stitch beaded picot bind off.   Progress, thy is Thursday!

Luca Baby Sweater

The secret knitting parade continues today with a baby sweater — Luca, from Berroco!

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When it comes to babies, sweaters are my go-to.  This one was a no brainer.  The yarn is Berroco Comfort, soft, soft, soft for new babies and easy care for moms!  The pattern is from a Berroco pamphlet and this is the sample garment in many shops.  Samples really work!  They couldn’t have made it easier, 2 balls of yarn makes all the sizes.  No yarn chicken here!

As usual, picking buttons was a lengthy process.  The new baby is a boy so I wanted something fun without being too cutesy.  I had something particular in mind — even with a vast selection of button shops in San Francisco, I didn’t find it.  I wanted fish but I couldn’t find any that meshed.  Everything I found seemed to distract rather than compliment so I stuck with the basics.

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Let’s face it, no one is going to be looking at the sweater anyhow!  And if, by some slim chance, someone glances away from the new baby cuteness to notice the sweater, I want credit for doing the work…not the buttons!

I enjoyed this yarn so much that I picked up the appropriate colors to make baby’s first Freddy Krueger sweater next!  That one is going to be fun!   Before then, there’s one more day of secret knitting to reveal tomorrow.

Briochevron

Yesterday, I showed you what I knit for the knitted gift swap my knitting group does.  Today, I’ll show you the amazing accessory I received!

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Briochevron – for when brioche alone is not complicated enough.   It’s a Stephen West pattern that I wouldn’t have knit for myself.  The awesome thing about knitting for a knitter, it’s sure to be appreciated!  I know how much work goes into making something like 2 color chevron brioche happen!  The technical mastery on display here is not lost on me at all.  I’ll admit it right now–if a random stranger inquires about it, I’m likely to claim I knit it myself!  :)

It’s perfect for July in San Francisco!  Extra thick and cushy to protect against the biting wind!  And I love the colors.  It’s just the thing for a strong fog.  I can’t wait for the next foggy morning if Golden Gate Park!   If you can convince one of your friends to knit you one, I highly recommend it!

Tomorrow:  more secret knitting revealed!  Our knitting anniversary party also doubled as a surprise baby shower!  Baby things are so fun to knit.

Secret Knitting Revealed!

The secret is finally out and I can reveal my secret knitting projects!

 

My weekly knitting group has been together for 7 years.  We’ve done all sorts of yarn swaps & white elephant exchanges but it occurred to us that no one ever knits for knitters.  We put an end to that!   At the holiday party, in December, we pick names and knit something for that person.  We exchanged gifts at our anniversary party last night!

It’s a fun challenge picking the perfect project for someone else.  I picked a long, lightweight stole.  The real inspiration for this project is the yarn, Lace Lux from Lana Grossa.  It’s sadly discontinued but I did stock up on a few colors!  It’s one of those unspun tube yarns with loose fibers blown into it.  The result is super lightweight and airy!   Knit it up on a size 10 needle and you’ve got a gorgeous, shiny, gauzy, elegant garment.

The pattern, Wrapped in Lux, couldn’t be any easier!  It’s just a long stockinette stitch rectangle.  The end result is super versatile.  Perfectly simple or simply perfect?  Either way, it was well received by Harriet.  It fits her style (which is a shame, I wanted her to hate it so I could have it back!).

Tomorrow, I’ll share the gift I got…it’s brioche!  I love it, I certainly wouldn’t have done it myself!

Marathon Bind Off

My Southern Skies shawl has had quite the story.  From it’s humble beginnings as a failed Ponchini, to it’s angst ridden, yarn chicken phase nothing has been simple.  It was no surprise when then prescribed bind off rebelled.  It was downright uncivilized!

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Loose and ugly, just flapping there like a weird afterthought.  I knew it had to go instantly.  Going down a needle size to tighten it up wouldn’t really help.  The perpendicular garter stitch just wasn’t working.

I really like the idea of an i-cord bind off.  It’s one of my favorite.  I like to try different things though, so I’d sort of pushed this idea to the back hoping to find something better.  I wasn’t really feeling it but it was time to try anyhow.

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Nope, another glaring fail.  Hated it instantly.  So now what?  Time to get creative.

I wanted to combat the edge flip.  And have I mentioned how badly I lost that round of yarn chicken?  (No, no I haven’t)  It was brutal but I think I limped along *just enough* that I’m in a completely acceptable place to bind off.

Ran out of yarn, did not run out of beads!  Look what I’ve got still…

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In a flash of brilliance, I decided to aim for two birds with one stone…or bead, as the case maybe!  Add the beads to the bind off, adding weight to stop the flip and stop these pretties from becoming stash (At which point, I’d have to come up with a way to use them, which almost certainly means another project full of pitfalls because I didn’t have enough beads.  It’s a vicious cycle, let me tell you!)

With all of my theoretical problems solved, I set off to do a beaded picot bind off.  It was okay, appropriately pretty and not at all looking like an afterthought.  It was still a bit prone to curling though.  So out came another failed bind off.

I wasn’t ready to give up on the beaded picot though.  It really was attractive.  What’s the point of spending money on cashmere, spending months beading it and then throwing on any old bind off.   You don’t wear an Oscar de la Renta gown with Tiffany jewels and finish it off with Jean Nate.  You just don’t.   I really wanted to make the beaded picot work.

I heard, once, a row of K1,P1 will smooth the transition between the body and the hem of a sweater.  This is a vaguely similar situation.  The alternating knits and purls balance the tension of, at least, that one row.  It seemed like a good idea.  It should tame the tension of the stockinette curl a little bit and I only needed a little bit.  Maybe, just maybe…this would work.

600 stitches later, I had worked my K1, P1 transition row.  This is about the time it occurred to me that I was seriously embarking on a 600 stitch beaded picot bind off?!?  OY!  Really?  Yes.  Really.  and just my luck…

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…it’s beautiful.  I love it.  This is clearly what was supposed to happen.  It just took me a while to figure it out.  Now it’s going to take me a while to execute it.  Funny how this project started 18 months ago without one speck of urgency.  It sat untouched for 95% of 2016 but suddenly, now, I want it done immediately!!  It’s the softest thing ever.  It’s definitely going to be worth the effort that went into it.

Assuming, I make it through the bind off, which requires using two needles and a crochet hook, while balancing a bead on a floppy little picot nub.  Wish me luck!  :)


If you’ve actually made it this far, here’s how I’m doing my bind off…

*CO 2 sts to the left needle (using the knitted CO), k2tog tbl, bead the next stitch, knit the beaded stitch, pass the 1st stitch over the 2nd stitch (the k2tog stitch over the beaded stitch), BO 2 sts, repeat from *