Seeing purple

Seeing purple

My grandmother’s 90th birthday is now one week from tomorrow and I am still debating about her shawl. The yarn selection seems much more critical to me than the pattern and I’ve been agonizing over it. The 100% silk I had thought I would use turned out to not float my boat when I swatched with it. What I really want for her climate is a wool-linen or wool-silk-linen blend, and what I think I am officially settled on is this Shibui Staccato (70% merino, 30% silk) and Linen held together and knitted at a slightly loose gauge, on 5mm needles. I bought the yarn online without having seen this color, Velvet (best name ever), in person. Turns out the color looks a little more raisin-y on the linen base than on the wool-silk blend, but held together it works — it gives the purple a little more depth.

I’m not sure it will be a joy to knit with — it’s a massive departure from the wonderfully sticky, rustic Hole & Sons I’ve spent the past month with — and I cannot knit it on my beloved Dreamz circs because of the abominable color-coding. Dark purple yarn on dark pink needles? Not only does it offend my delicate sensibilities, I can’t see my stitches at all, which is a little bit of a problem when holding linen filament double with something. So I’ll have to knit on bamboo, which is fine!

Between that splitty-fiddliness and its being a pain to put back on the needles if any ripping were required, I’m also giving up on the idea of doing anything lace with it — not when I’m already under the gun here. But along the way I also saw Ashley knitting a dark purple Orlane for her mother and let out the biggest sigh of envy. I told myself it would be silly to knit Orlane’s Textured Shawl for a third time when there are so many great shawls out there, but if that’s my favorite shawl of all time, is it not exactly what I should knit for her?

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UPDATE: I cast on late last night and this is definitely the right decision—

Seeing purple

A shawl for my granny

A shawl for my granny

It’s funny how I’m always looking for shawl patterns that aren’t granny-looking, and now I’m looking for a shawl pattern for my granny. She’s turning 90 in exactly one month and — please don’t tell her! — I’m planning to knit her a shawl. The thing is, I’ve been planning it for at least a month and haven’t cast on a stitch yet because I’m hung up on what it should be. I feel like it should be lace — or at least lace-edged or something — but I don’t want to give her anything that requires really precise blocking every time it’s soaked. Ditto the yarn selection: Not only am I hesitant about giving her anything hand-wash-only, she lives in Texas! So wool is out of the question. Size-wise, she’s not a very large person, plus there’s that whole Texas aspect (this is really something to toss on in over-air-conditioned spaces), plus I need to be able to complete it in a month. So basically I’m looking for a simple, small-scale, decorative-edged shawl. For the yarn, I think I’ve settled on the dark purple Shibui Heichi in my stash (her entire wardrobe is shades of purple), which is 100% silk. Still hand-wash, but not wool. Right? So I’ve narrowed it down to the smaller Lola (top), a scaled-down Palmyre (middle) and the lace-less but still really pretty Marin (bottom), which I’ve wanted to knit for a long time. I haven’t knitted with 100% silk before and really don’t know what that will look or behave like, so it seems like my best bet is to swatch all three and see.

Still have never managed to pick the right shawl for my mom. :(

New Favorites: Jocelyn Tunney’s triangles

New Favorites: Jocelyn Tunney's triangles

Jocelyn Tunney has an obsession with garter-stitch triangles and chevrons, and I have an obsession with these designs. Love this blanket. Love this scarf. And this one. But I think it’s all been leading up to this. When I walked into the Manos del Uruguay booth at the trade show last month and saw her Mariscos wrap, above, draped on one of the dress forms, it stopped me in my tracks. This thing is huge and gorgeous, and looks like it would be both interesting and soothing to knit. Jocelyn kindly sent me the pattern as soon as it was ready, knowing how much I love it, so now all I want to do is sit around picturing it in every possible color combination. Because as soon as I figure it out, I am casting on — it’ll make a perfect project to pick and put down amongst more mentally taxing things for a few months.

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UNRELATED: the Etta+Billie skin balms are back. Let there be dancing in the streets!

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: the chevrons of BT Winter ’15

New Favorites: from Madder Anthology 2

New Favorites: from Madder Anthology 2

Nobody does “simple” like Carrie Bostick Hoge. And nobody has quite the same finesse in taking existing patterns and changing them up — flipping the construction, changing the gauge, etc. — to make you look at them anew. She’s just released her Madder Anthology 2: Simple Pleasures collection and, as with others before it, it’s a combination of new patterns and reimagined favorites. Eleven sweaters and six accessories, all of them in spare but gorgeous combinations of garter stitch, ribbing and stockinette. And like a good caprese salad, where those three ingredients better each be perfection, she’s pretty much nailed it. My favorites:

ABOVE
top: Lila Winter, a bulky, top-down version of her popular Lila
bottom left: Liv, making me rethink my position on open-front cardigans
bottom right: Lainey Cowl, in chunky garter rib

BELOW
top left: Charlotte Light Accessories, a finer version of her Charlotte set
top right: Lori Shawl, lovely asymmetric (I presume) garter triangle (named for the model’s mother?)
bottom: Lucia Hoodie, making me rethink my position on hoodies

New Favorites: from Madder Anthology 2

PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Mosaic scarves

Favorite New Favorites

My favorite New Favorites of 2014

Nearly every week there’s something I’m obsessing over and/or itching to cast on, as chronicled in New Favorites. Not necessarily new patterns, just new fixations. But in reality, I can only hope to knit a mere fraction of them. Some obsessions linger longer than others, but I can honestly say that 8/9 of last year’s Favorite New Favorites are still lodged in the front of my brain, begging for needle time. (The ninth one, Trillium, I actually knitted!) Here are the most tenacious patterns to have appeared in New Favorites in 2014:

SWEATERS
top left: Uniform Cardigan by Carrie Bostick Hoge (as seen in Carrie’s Uniform and, more recently, Quicker sweaters)
top right: Gillam by Kate Gagnon Osborn (as seen in From the Knightsbridge collection)
bottom left: Riviera by Wool and the Gang (as seen in WATG cotton toppers)
bottom right: Siberia Anorak by Helga Isager, minus the funnel neck (as seen in Helga does it again)

HATS
Too many to mention. I’m seriously thinking of doing a hat-per-month thing in 2015.

My favorite New Favorites of 2014

SOCKS
left: Inglenook by Adrian Bizilia (as seen in House socks redux)
right: School Girl by Deneise Kemp (as seen in Cabinfour’s collected socks)

My favorite New Favorites of 2014

WRAPS
top left: Joelle’s Diagonal Pinstripe Scarf by Joelle Hoverson (as seen in Ebony and ivory)
top right: Halligarth by Gudrun Johnston (as seen in The Wool People wraps)
bottom left: Palmyre by Nadia Crétin-Léchenne (as seen in Palmyre)
bottom right: Nimbus by Dawn Catanzaro (as seen in The Wool People wraps)

My favorite New Favorites of 2014

GLOVES
left: Fure by Olga Buraya-Kefelian (as seen in From the Woolfolk collection)
right: Hand Warmers for Beginners by Purl Soho (as seen in Garter bliss)

I suppose my very favorite New Favorites are the ones I actually cast on this year, some of which I even finished! As you’ll see in my comparatively paltry knitting year in review, coming up.

What were your favorite patterns this year?

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New Favorites: Pure

New Favorites: Pure shawl pattern by cabinfour

So after my post last week about the Woolfolk debut collection, I got two skeins of Far in the mail. (Thank you, Kristin!) They were meant to be for a Knop hat, and oh man it would be delicious. But from the instant I pulled the yarn out of the envelope, all I’ve been able to think is I want that around my neck. 284 yards of pure luxury. Combine this with my latent nervousness over the fact that there’s nothing mindless on my needles right now, and I’ve suddenly got kerchiefs on the brain. Specifically that little garter-stitch kerchief I made for a my mom a couple of years ago. Thoroughly simple, it was really the perfect showcase for such a delicious yarn, and I just loved having it tucked around my neck for those snapshots. But then I’m thinking, isn’t there something equally spare I could knit with it — something mindless but not so mindless? (Don’t think I haven’t considered another Textured Shawl. But I already have a big grey version. In fact, I’m wearing it as I type.) What about a mini Lola? Or a Romney Kerchief? Then a quick trot through Ravelry led me to Pure, the latest from “cabinfour,” who has a way with ultra-spare shawls. I love the subtle progression of textures, and always love a big garter edge, but I wonder if I would love that if I scaled it down? Hm. Either way, it’s got my attention right now.

[DISCLOSURE: cabinfour frequently sends me copies of her patterns, unsolicited. No joke, not an hour after I finished writing this post (before it went live) Pure landed in my inbox. It’s like the universe knows!]

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: the Woolfolk collection

New Favorites: Palmyre

New Favorites: Palmyre

I was at my friend Jo’s house recently and asked her what she’d been knitting. (She knits nonstop.)  She said, “Karen, I just finished my favorite thing I have ever knitted.” When she led me to it, I was surprised to see a shawl — and a rather basic looking one at that — but when I threw it over my shoulders, I fell instantly in love. It’s Nadia Crétin-Léchenne’s Palmyre, a simple stockinette shawl with a lace border. (That’s Nadia’s pictured above, to be clear.) Jo had knitted it as a sample for the Haus of Yarn Bus, using oatmeal-colored Kenzie, and it is so light and warm and lays so nicely on one’s shoulders. It’s just a magical combination of yarn and stitches.

Those of you paying extra-close attention will recall that the bus is driven by my dear friend Meg*, Jo’s daughter, and that Meg and the bus were also at Stitches Midwest this weekend, two aisles over from me. So when it got chilly in the convention center and all I had with me was all I have in my possession these days (living out of a suitcase and all), namely summery sleeveless tops, you can guess what I did. I borrowed that shawl, wore it for two days, and I did not want to take it off. Not sure I can live without one of my very own.

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: from the Knightsbridge collection

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*who we’ve been staying with, who taught me to knit, etc, etc …