Pretty spring scarves: Or, what to knit for Mother’s Day

Pretty spring scarves: Or, what to knit for Mother's Day

Whether you’re barely beginning to thaw out or already thinking about concerts in the park on a cool summer night, a lighter, leaner scarf might be just the thing to keep your knitting needles (and crochet hooks!) happy and your neck cozy in the weeks to come. Or your mother’s, for that matter — Mother’s Day is right around the bend:

 1. Kozue by Kirsten Johnstone, lace for minimalists

2. Spring Lace Infinity Scarf by Linda Thach, lovely mix of textures, knitted in linen (free pattern)

3. Trellis Scarf from the Purl Bee, nice transitional piece (free pattern)

4. Celes scarf by Jared Flood, full-on lace I could imagine wearing myself

5. Striped Cotton Cowl from the Purl Bee, how to make a cotton cowl fantastic (free pattern)

6. Claudia Scarf by Rebecca Jackson, an elegant slip of crochet (free pattern)

7. Spring Tuck by Rose Anne, love that strip of lace in the gossamer stockinette

8. Kelly’s Frothy Crocheted Scarf by Kelly Jahraus, super-simple single crochet on a big ol’ hook

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A very twisted selvage

A very twisted selvage

Last night, I went to Claddagh Yarns for a talk by Narangkar Glover (maker of the Knitters Graph Paper Journal) about color theory and knitting. Without giving it a moment’s thought, I wore dark jeans, black oxfords and a black-and-ivory striped tee. But I at least I was knitting with purple yarn!

You may be wondering what’s become of my Tag Team Sweater Project sweater since Seattle, and though it looks barely changed, there’s been a fair amount of knitting. On the way home from Seattle, I picked up stitches for the buttonhole band. (The pattern gives actual stitch counts between buttonholes, and I approve of the placement, so I wasn’t worried about calculating spacing.) Picking up 3 stitches for every 4 rows, as indicated, I wound up with about 56% of the prescribed number of stitches. Like: whoa, major discrepancy. Although I couldn’t explain it (we stuck to the pattern length, and our row gauge might be different but not that different), it was clear that if my stitch count was so far off from the pattern’s, I wouldn’t be able to use its stitch counts for the buttonholes, so I had to abort that mission. Back home, over the course of a few different sittings, I redid the pick-up several times. I knitted one whole band to completion to prove to myself that it was way too short. Ripped it out and picked up higher and higher ratios of stitches before realizing the problem was exactly what I had expected on day one: the selvage stitches.

Trillium has a selvage treatment called Wrapped Chain Selvage (which is called Twisted Stitch Selvage in Slade). Anna and I debated whether or not to do it — I feared it would eventually complicate my life, but she wanted to try it, and you know I do like to try new things so I was persuaded. Then I sort of forgot it was there. With normal stockinette, there’s the usual running thread between every edge stitch and the one next to it, and you pick up stitches in the gaps between those threads. With WCS/TSS, each gap is two rows tall, with the corresponding running threads being twisted around each other, tight enough that you might not notice it’s out of the ordinary. So instead of picking up stitches in each gap, you pick up one in a gap, then plunge the tip of your needle between those two twisted strands and pick up a stitch from there. Oy. At least I finally figured it out, and the bands were short work after that.

So all I have left now is the sleeves, which I’m downsizing from the pattern. Think I can get through them in a weekend?

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IN DRAMATIC WEBSHOP NEWS, the hotly anticipated Cable Fashion Drama is back in stock! This slender-but-jam-packed Japanese pattern book generated a waiting list as long as my arm — I’ve never seen anything like it. But the waiting list people have all been alerted to its presence, so it’s time for you to have a crack at the stack. You can order your copy right here.

Also freshly restocked: Japanese thread snips and row counters, Bento Bags in large natural linen, and two other waiting list items: the Indian rosewood crochet hook in size H and the bone DPNs in smaller sizes, US2 and US3. And might I suggest a tasty treat to go with?

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Happy weekend, y’all. What are you doing while I knit my sleeves?

New Favorites: Square shawls

New Favorites: Square shawls

Last week Hannah Fettig released a new pattern called the Sans Kerchief which is nothing but a linen stockinette square. I’d laugh, but look how lovely it looks tied around that model’s neck! (The whole vibe makes me think of this.) It’s really sort of brilliant. It got me thinking again about square shawls — I’m still dreaming about this one — and since then, everywhere I look I see Tilt. It’s a big square shawl by Leila Raabe, knitted in the round!, and it’s one of those things I find irresistible. Especially with all the traveling I have in the coming months, I’m loving the idea of a big wrap that serves as a lap blanket on a plane, or a throw in a hammock, etc etc. So I’m wanting this, but also adding it to the list of possible shawls for my mama.

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Helga does it again

Organizing my to-knit list

Organizing my to-knit list

I’ve decided to try something new this year — a little thing called planning. Remember when we talked about this? Most of the things I noted in that August 2013 post are still on my wish list! And I’ve been especially itchy lately because there are so many things I want to be knitting and so many yarns in my stash I want to be knitting with, and yet I keep casting on totally other things. Monday night I sat down and made a list of the sweaters I currently think A) I want to knit and B) will contribute to improving my wardrobe situation (as opposed to impromptu knitting projects making matters worse). They are as follows:

1.) I’m thinking about a worsted-weight version of the aforementioned Perkins Cove Pullover by Pam Allen, and am thinking it could be lovely and immensely useful in the navy blue Worsted Twist that my friends at Purl Soho sent me. Definitely a three-season, go-everywhere sweater for me.

2.) There’s a simple top-down sweater in my head that I really want in my closet and that I think would be perfect in Shibui’s Pebble (held double), which I’ve been dying to find the right project for. Would be a workhorse in one of the lighter greys — not sure which one yet. (Swatching with the Abyss I have handy.)

3.) I am absolutely knitting Jared Flood’s Channel cardigan, as noted before, and ordered a skein of O-Wool Balance (organic cotton and wool) to see if that might be the right year-round yarn for it. Thanks so much to Hagen and Vanessa for the recommendation. The skein arrived Monday eve and it’s marvelous — before I’ve even swatched with it, I ordered a sweater’s worth … and then some. If it doesn’t prove to be perfect for Channel (although I think it will), there’s no harm in having a pile of luscious charcoal yarn on hand, am I right?

4.) I also plan to finish my army-green Slade, which will be another wardrobe staple, but since it’s the warmest sweater on the list, knitted in Shibui Merino Alpaca, I’ll chip away at it between now and next winter. Also since it’s stockinette and worked in pieces, it’s easy to squeeze into gaps.

?.) And last but not least, I’m going to sleep-away camp not once but twice this year! (So excited — one trip with my whole family, plus I’m finally going to Squam!!) And I like the idea of knitting a little tee or tank of some sort for that and other purposes. I’m thinking maybe a scaled-down version of Bristol Ivy’s Kit Camisole, or something like the Purl Bee Cap Sleeve Lattice Top or the Riverine Pullover from last summer’s Pom Pom. But I’m probably better off sewing for this scenario, which I need and want to do anyway. So this one’s a maybe. (I’m also working on rounding up the latest great summer patterns since there’s been a flood of them recently. Here’s last year’s roundup if you missed it.)

Them’s the sweaters. There are nine months left in the year, and I have to estimate an average of six to nine weeks per sweater, since I’ve sworn off monogamy. One thing I learned from working on nothing but Trillium for five straight weeks (still ongoing) is that monogamy makes me batty — and a little resentful of whatever it is I’m being faithful to. Plus there are also these items on the list:

• Bob and I have settled on Fort for the first sweater I’ll knit him — I’ve just been waiting to find the right yarn. For him, it absolutely cannot be 100% wool, and ideally it will be washable, but I’m not wild about superwash yarns. After getting that Balance in the mail on Monday, though, we’re both thinking it might be just the ticket and have ordered two more colors to test for him. That’s one more sweater on the list.

• I’m still committed to making some kind of shawl for my mom … just as soon as I can figure out which one!

• There’s another pattern in my head that has to get out — a wrap that I’d love to publish through someone else. I’ve swatched this (right idea; wrong yarn), have extensive notes, and might enlist a sample knitter for it once I swatch with what I think will be the right yarn. But this is a must happen, one way or another. It’s just too good.

And I still want to crochet and weave and macramé and knit footie socks, and allow myself to squeeze in other satisfying little quick-finish projects along the way — to pick up new skills, work with some of the single-skein beauties in my stash, act on whatever new patterns come along that demand to be knitted, etc.

So that’s a whole lot of knitting for the year (nine months), especially if you’re me! I have to be realistic and flexible about this list: If I’m a slave to it, the things on it will feel like obligations instead of desires, which will take the fun out of it. But if I don’t at least write this all down and post it publicly, I’ll get to the end of 2014 with a bunch of random FOs and none of this accomplished. So there you have it.

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Knit the Look: Or, make that crochet?

Knit the Look: Crocheted wrap with fringe

Crochet the Look? I love the pretty fringed wrap on this unidentified model after the latest Margaret Howell show — especially right now, since it’s the perfect seasonal transition piece. As is often the case, the details are hard to discern from Vanessa’s street-style photo, but it sure looks like crochet to me, so I called on Cal Patch for a consult. Cal agrees, and had the same thought as me: that it might very well be a triangular shawl with fringe along the two sides, wrapped in scarf-like fashion. Maybe even as simple as a big half-granny square, with fringe added. Another great option would be Cal’s Wingfeathers Shawl pattern, crocheted in a worsted or heavier yarn. If you prefer a rectangular scarf, you could also follow the Purl Bee’s Granny Stripe Blanket instructions and just change the dimensions to a wrap-sized (rather than bed-sized) rectangle, then add fringe along one long edge. Wrap and go. Whichever you choose, it would be lovely in the Purl Soho Worsted Twist in that Heirloom White I love so much.

See Vanessa’s post for an additional view.

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PREVIOUSLY in Knit the Look: Marte Mei Van Haaster’s perfect grey pullover

FO Sightings: Cirilia’s Reykjavik wonder dress

FO Sightings: Cirilia's Reykjavik wonder dress

Cirilia Rose and Dianna Walla are in Iceland for DesignMarch and the Reykjavik Fashion Festival so there’ve been lots of Iceland pics on Instagram making me jealous the past few days. But my eyes almost popped right out of my head on Saturday when Cirilia began posting pics of herself in the dress she’d made to wear. In true die-hard knitter fashion, she’d apparently been up until four in the morning finishing it. And it is so, so Cirilia. She’s used a combination of Loopy Mango’s gargantuan Big Loop yarn and Skacel’s Schoppel Wolle XL. (She’s Creative Director at Skacel, if you’re not familiar with her.) The XL is used in a single strand for the bodice and held double for the bottom-most part of the skirt. The scale of the whole thing and the pastel rainbow on the skirt — which comes from the coloration on the limited-edition Big Loop — are both really charming. But what I’m most infatuated with is the gauge-mixing she’s done (seen in the fish-snacking photo above) and the shape of the bodice — particularly the racer-back-ish armholes and the high, rolled neckline. Just so creative and yet adorable and wearable. She tells me she didn’t think it would be something others would want a pattern for, but the response suggests otherwise, so it sounds like one will be forthcoming.

You can see more pics on her feed, Dianna’s and Stephen West’s, where you can really see the neckline. See also Dianna’s adorable ensemble with knitted collar and the lopapeysa she bought. OMG.

FO Sightings: Cirilia's Reykjavik wonder dress

PREVIOUSLY in FO Sightings: Fancy Amber’s heroic vest

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Photos belong to Cirilia Rose, used with permission

You’re gonna want these needles

You're gonna want these needles

There are those among you who are forever trying to talk me out of using DPNs, being fans of the Magic Loop method and all. But you’ll have to pry my DPNs out of my cold, dead fingers because they’re among the most beautiful and pleasing things in my world. I have quite a variety of them at this point, including some of the incomparably swoony bone DPNs from the shop (which I’ll be accumulating over time). But my newest love, which I’m excited to add to my personal collection and to the virtual shelves, are these Indian rosewood DPNs that made their debut last night. The rosewood is just so, so beautiful, and in many ways superior to bamboo. Most notably: the pointier tips. You will seriously love them and want to collect them, but hop on over to Fringe Supply Co. and figure out which size you want first!

p.s. For the Bento collectors, the smalls are now freshly restocked as well.
p.p.s. There are still a few sale items to be had.

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Please have a wonderful weekend, and tell me what you’re working on! I’m hoping for a rainy day away from my desk. After having been buried in tax-season spreadsheets all week, I’d love nothing more than to camp out on the couch with my Trillium.
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