FO Sightings: Junko’s patchwork shawl

FO Sightings: Junko's patchwork shawl

Ran across this lovely Japanese knitter the other day, Junko, and can’t stop thinking about this shawl from her feed. (Here’s another shot of it.) It’s a totally delightful patchwork quilt of granny squares and garter stitch squares — such a perfect combo. As so many of you recently noted, making little squares and such is the perfect warm-weather way to knit, and a wrap is more achievable (at least for me!) than a whole blanket. Not to mention a great stash-buster …

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Hot Tip: Mismatch your needles

Hot Tip: Mismatch your needle tips for smoother knitting in the round

Hey look, here’s a new semi-regular series, Hot Tip, wherein I pass along nuggets of brilliance I’ve picked up from various knitting geniuses (or stunningly insightful observations of my own.) Here is a handy trick I learned from Josh Bennett once upon a time, or the ladies in the room who beat him to the punch—

When we knit back and forth, we use both needles, alternating between them as we work each row, right? But when knitting in the round, we only* knit with the right-hand needle. The left needle is really just holding stitches for us, so there’s no reason it needs to be the same size as the working needle. One major benefit of knitting with interchangeable needles is that you can attach a smaller needle tip to the left end of the cable, which makes it a little easier to keep your stitches sliding up onto that needle, especially if you’re a tight knitter. It also means those needles’ partners are free for other projects you might be knitting at the same time.

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*Unless you’re working short rows, or for any other reason turning the work at some point, in which case you would be alternating which needle you’re knitting with.

New Favorites: the Wool People wraps

New Favorites: the Wool People wraps

I’m tardy with today’s post because I wanted to wait and see what treasures the new Brooklyn Tweed Wool People 7 collection might hold. Of the fifteen patterns, eleven are sweaters, but it’s these shawls that are lighting me up this morning — and not just because I’m still on a quest for the perfect wrap for my mom. The triangular Shetland shawl, Halligarth, is by Gudrun Johnston in two sizes, and it’s the one I’m most itching to cast on right this minute. I love the look of the geometric tree motif lace, and it looks like fun to knit. One of you used the phrase “granny’s dresser scarf” in a comment recently, which is a concept I hadn’t thought of for ages, and Dawn Catanzaro’s Nimbus has that kind of heirloom character about it. But I find it so pretty and current somehow. It’s just lengthwise garter stitch with that very traditional lace border, knitted on in a smartly seamless way. Could I stand knitting all those long rows of garter? If my mom loves this as much as I think she might, I’d do it for her.

I also love the wrap-sized version of Tanis Lavallee’s diagonal striped Vector. And a couple of the sweaters may make it into my queue at some point. I’m particularly intrigued by the construction (and enamored with the details) of Bristol Ivy’s Devlan, although I would have to change the neckline. But honestly, my favorite thing about the whole lookbook is this gorgeous model and her silver braid, my dream hair of the future:

Perfect silver braid

(That’s Joji Locatelli’s Seacoast sweater she’s wearing.)

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Bobble hats

Swatching for Bob

Swatching for Bob

Ok, I’m on the brink of casting on my first sweater for my husband. Let’s recap my concerns/criteria for this project:

1. He has to love it and wear it, which means
2. it has to fit perfectly and
3. not be too hot (i.e. not 100% wool) while
4. being washable and durable. But also,
5. I have to enjoy the knitting or I’ll never finish it.

We had decided Fort would be interesting enough for me to knit but not too interesting for him to wear, and to my surprise, he even wants the elbow patches. I believe I’ve narrowed the yarn down to O-Wool Balance, which has some nice heather to it, not too far from the look of the Shelter that Fort is designed for, but is a washable merino/cotton blend. I ordered two shades of green to have a good look at (along with a hefty load of charcoal for myself) and we both love this Emerald one, which is really a sort of earthy Blue Spruce hue (not a jewel tone) that looks awesome with his blue eyes. So far so good!

But given how daunting this feels — and also because I’m thinking of using all that charcoal for my Channel Cardigan — I’m being more diligent than ever about getting to know the yarn. I knitted this big ol’ swatch so we could get a feel for the fabric and the stitch pattern. I washed it, abused it a little bit, even threw it in the dryer, which it totally shrugged off. LOVE YOU BALANCE! But as for this stitch pattern, it’s been blackballed. Bob thinks it’s too chunky looking, and I can see his point. And as much as I think it’s more interesting than stockinette as a fabric, and I do love him enough to put myself through an entire sweater’s worth of k2/p2 if his heart desired it, I can’t say I’m sorry not to be doing that. So it looks like we’re going to stick with Fort and all its other nice details, just doing it in stockinette instead of this waffle texture.

And here’s the thing I really want to mention. It turns out there are quite a few people on Instagram who are about to embark on a sweater for their husbands (all firsts, I think!), so we’re doing a knit-along. A very loose one: all that’s been declared is that we’re knitting for dudes and starting on or about May 1. I don’t think we’ve picked out a hashtag yet, but keep an eye on my @karentempler feed or @byannieclaire, who is the ring-leader on this, and we’ll make sure it’s known when we have one. [UPDATE: It's #knittingforhimalong.] Do join in!

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p.s. I also cast on another sweater this weekend. So much for small palate cleansers! Or is that what the swatch was?

103 ways to tie a knot

103 ways to tie a knot

Hey, good news: That macramé book I’ve been telling you about? It’s here! Well, part of my order is, anyway — not as many copies as I had intended, but enough for the most eager among you to get your hands on it.

As I mention on the shop page, this is an American version of a Japanese book, which you may have inferred from the characteristically plainspoken title, Macramé Pattern Book. It’s 100% in English, but it still has all the aesthetic flavor of a Japanese craft book, with influences ranging from Navajo to Nordic. The knot patterns run from very simple braids to quite elaborate decorative motifs, and projects include everything from friendship bracelets and tassels, to straps and handles, to bags and baskets. But it’s written as a complete how-to guide, starting with tools, how to sit, how to tie basic knots, etc, and then taking you up through the more elaborate stuff. In short: It’s awesome.

I’m honestly not sure how many of you are eager about macramé, but I guess we’ll find out! It could be that these copies are plenty to go around, or they could be gone in an hour. But as far as I know, there are more coming.

AND DON’T FORGET! I love sticking edibles into shipments, and am having great fun this week sending out free cookies. This madness lasts through Sunday: orders of $30 and above (before shipping) will arrive on your doorstep with a ginger cookie enclosed, my treat.

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Happy Friday, everyone! Having FINISHED my Trillium (pics soon), I’m free to do whatever I want this weekend, and there will be some macramé going on over here. What will you be up to?

Elsewhere

Elsewhere: Yarny links for your clicking pleasure

It’s been a while, I know, but here are some things I’ve been loving lately:

• Felicia on the most important lesson there is: learning to read your knitting. That is truly the point where everything changes, so if you don’t know how to read your work, go read every word. (See also her amazing quilt roundup, swoon)

• The incredible Nido has branched out; how amazing are these Telar textiles? (Did I learn to weave yet? I really am getting that Cricket Loom soon.)

Better living through yak down

Tara Hurst in a sweater her grandmother knitted in Emma’s Lovely Lady series. (I love Tara’s blog.)

• Coveting this simple tee

Amazeballs (thanks, G)

• Next year I’m going to the Scandinavian festival with Lori

• And in case anyone hasn’t seen it, this is your brain on knitting

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New Favorites: Bobble hats

New Favorites: Bobble hats

It’s raining bobble patterns. I had fun knitting the nupp rows on my Trillium (which I am THIS CLOSE to finishing) and between the last two months of sweater knitting and all the talk around here of smaller projects for the warmer months, I’m eager for hats. So much the better if they’re bobble hats, and this week the universe presented a few options:

Diode by Erica Smith is the restrained entry in the field. Relatively tiny sport-weight bobbles create an overall texture, and I love the doubled brim. York Bobble Toque* by Tara-Lynn Morrison is characteristically chunky but also written for aran weight — above is the chunky version pictured on her way-too-cool daughter. And last but far from least is Anna Maltz’s Archipelago. which I’ve been waiting for ever since she posted it on Instagram and was begged by many to write the pattern. Like everything Anna is involved with, it looks like a ton of fun.

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: everything Leila Raabe

*pattern sent to me by the designer