Socially acceptable blankies

Socially acceptable blankies

My sister and I were talking last week about how it’s socially acceptable for kids these days to have a blanket or stuffed animal that they “self-comfort” with even up to early teenage years. The conversation made me think of Sara’s recent IG shawl pic, which she had hashtagged #sociallyacceptableblanket, and about those of us (grown-ups) who never leave home without a scarf or wrap of some kind. Living in the chilly Bay Area all those years, I never ever ever was without a big ol’ scarf. One in particular (the green paisley one pictured here, which somehow manages to go with everything) was always in my bag even if a different one was around my neck — it felt wrong to leave home without it. It accompanied me on countless trips over the course of a few years, including one to a small, very exclusive tech conference where I felt completely out of place and knew only two people, on top of which it was socially UNacceptable to be seen talking too long to anyone you already knew and verboten to sit next to them at a meal! We were there to meet new people — my worst skill. Throw in a really nasty cold, and I can tell you having that scarf around my neck that weekend veered past mere warmth or accessorizing and well into self-comfort territory. All of which got me thinking about how many blanket patterns I’ve saved up over the last few years with no intention of knitting them as blankets. That’s because every blanket that passes before my eyes (especially baby blankets) gets mentally resized into wrap proportions. I apparently only want a blanket if it can go everywhere with me. A few candidates from the top of my list:

TOP LEFT: Bairn by Julie Hoover

TOP RIGHT: Hambleton Throw by Martin Storey (free pattern)

MIDDLE LEFT: Umaro by Jared Flood (See also: Shale Baby Blanket)

MIDDLE RIGHT: Mosaic Blanket by the Purl Bee (free pattern)

BOTTOM LEFT: Chevron Baby Blanket by the Purl Bee (free pattern)

BOTTOM RIGHT: Ambrotype by Jocelyn Tunney (free pattern)

IN UNRELATED SHOP NEWS: The beloved folding rice baskets are back in stock in natural, as are the wooden gauge rulers. And we’ve also got a fresh batch of the loom kits. If you’ve been waiting, here’s your chance!

New Favorites: Fair-weather friends

New Favorites: Fair-weather friends

Summer has arrived in full force, after a really lovely and long Spring and pre-Summer, as I’ve been calling it. Which means the air conditioners of Nashville are all officially on full blast, my sinuses are on the fritz (TMI, I know), and all I can think about is how to keep my neck warm. These pale beauties are both calling out to me:

TOP: The Purl Bee’s Crosshatch Cowl is as spare and simple as it gets — and would make the perfect constant companion (free pattern)

BOTTOM: The Bonnie Banks Shawl has flirted with me twice in my inbox — first in a link from a Clara Parkes email about the yarn, then in an email from the designer, Beatrice Perron Dahlen, who had kindly sent me the pattern after I’d favorited it at Ravelry. I’ve sworn off shawl knitting, of course, but this one is mighty tempting.

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Crochet temptations

New Favorites: Crochet temptations

New Favorites: Crochet temptations

Ah, summer — that time of year where I swear I’m going to crochet something and then never do. What am I fantasizing about this time?

TOP: The Purl Bee’s Big Stitch Rug, on my list for ages (free pattern)

BOTTOM LEFT: Wool and the Gang’s new Carrie On Tote kit, so great with that leather strap

BOTTOM RIGHT: Kate Gagnon Osborn’s Asticou Terrace granny triangle, so simple (free pattern)

Kate and Courtney, over at Kelbourne Woolens, are planning another Crochet Summer campaign. Maybe a little hashtag FOMO will get to me to finally commit. Watch their blog for details.

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: Faroese colorwork

FO Sightings: Woollenflower’s Faroese dream

FO Sightings: Woollenflower's Faroese dream shawl

I know it’s only been two days since I publicly swore off shawl knitting, but there is one looming temptation. Remember a few months ago when I kicked off that #vitalknits hashtag? The lovely Julia Billings, aka @woollenflower (who you should totally follow if you don’t already), posted the shot above of her incredible Faroese-style shawl and I haven’t stopped thinking about it. (Here it is on Ravelry.) This is my idea of The Perfect Shawl: massive and enveloping, yet light; garter stitch interrupted by a spare, geometric lace design; and the perfect amount and length of fringe. Turns out it’s from a pattern quite straightforwardly called Faroese Lace Pattern Shawl, found in an out-of-print book. Jules tells me it was one of the first books she read when she was a new knitter and that the traditionally written pattern was beyond her skills at the time. She set it aside until she was ready, a few years ago now, and she wears this shawl more than anything else she’s made. Understandably. It may be out of print, but the good news is Jules is writing her own Faroese-style pattern inspired by this beauty — so watch for more news of that soon.

By the way, this reminds me quite a bit of Handepande’s incredible shawl that I blogged about forever ago and have longed for every day since. Apparently when it comes to shawls, I have a type.

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PREVIOUSLY in FO Sightings: Sumiko’s steeked Sundottir

 

To grandmother’s house we go

To grandmother's house we go

I’m pants at taking modeled shawl photos, y’all. What is so hard about it? So here it is recumbent: grandma’s shawl for her 90th birthday, nearly six weeks late by the time it gets to Texas. It had been awhile since I knitted a shawl and I forgot how long it takes. Plus they trick you by being really quick at the beginning — filling you with false confidence — and then getting slower and sloowwer and slooowwwer. I started this a week before her birthday (obviously cutting it too close) and thought it might be a week or two late. Lesson learned: Never knit shawls!

Anyway, I feel pretty sure she’ll love it, and I hope that she does. For all my grousing, and despite the tardiness, I am very happy to have this to give to her, and hope it will warm her shoulders for many years to come. And that I can take a pic of her in it one of these days.

As previously noted, it’s Orlane’s Textured Shawl Recipe (my how-to notes here) in Shibui Staccato (70% merino, 30% silk) and Linen (100% linen) held together for all but the bind-off, which I worked in the Staccato alone. I was devoted to EZ’s sewn bind-off when I was a shawl knitter (right up through this, my last one) and the bind-off on this was the most pleasant part. You know how stressful it can be, wondering if your yards-long strand of yarn will hold up to being dragged back and forth through every one of those hundreds of stitches — how it can strain and stick and twist and try to knot up on you? The Staccato was a dream for this. And the finished, blocked fabric — the merino/silk and linen blend — is divine. Drapey and light and wonderful. Well worth the fussiness of working those two together.

Row counts and other factoids on Ravelry.

New Favorites: from Plucky’s Spring Forward collection

New Favorites: from Plucky's Spring Forward collection

It’s always a pleasure to see the Plucky Knitter sisters and crew at Stitches events, and last weekend I also got to see a lot of the samples from their new pattern collection, Spring Forward. Somehow their crazy-plucky color palette makes me wish I were a color person, and yet you know I’d likely knit all of these things, my favorites of the bunch, in a nice heather grey—

TOP LEFT: Beach Walk by Jill Zielinski, a simple shrug with a nice lace motif up the back

TOP RIGHT: Lake Effect by Amy Miller, a sweet granny-chic lace cardigan

BOTTOM LEFT: Screen Door, an allover textured-lace shawl, which I would like in this green, actually

BOTTOM RIGHT: Tide Chart by Amy Miller (pictured on Amy with her Porch Swing shawl), a good ultra-basic, top-down pullover (if you’re not ready to improvise your own)

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PREVIOUSLY in New Favorites: The hats of BT Men Vol 2

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