The Knitting Must Continue

Over at the Chittery Chattery Swappee Swappers group on Ravelry, there is a knit-a-long titled “Open That Skein!”  The premise is that people have a tendency to hang on to things “for that special occasion.”  Most often, these things are nice bottles of wine (or in my case, whiskey), and items of that nature.  For knitters, it’s skeins of yarn.  We have a tendency to travel and seek out yarn stores in foreign lands, coming home with “souvenir skeins” that then sit in our stash for years upon years because, that skein from Denmark is really special and who knows when you’ll be going to Denmark again??  (I have a skein of laceweight that I purchased when we visited Denmark that is still sitting there; a) because I don’t usually work with lace and b) it’s from Denmark!)  So, rather than hoarding this “special occasion” yarn, we’re declaring it a special occasion now, and encouraging fellow knitters to cake one of those skeins!

So, my entry for Open That Skein is the sock yarn I dyed at Lorna’s Laces last November.  I’m knitting up Clincher, which is very similar to a design idea I had for holding cowls and scarves in place.  I’m knitting mine in straight garter stitch at a slightly tighter gauge, with the intention of wearing it at Burning Man this year and hopefully keeping out the average amount of dust.  Granted, if winds really pick up out there, this will not be sufficient.  But, for basic gallivanting, it should work.

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One of the things I love most about this pattern is that you start at the tiny end and increase to a certain amount of stitches, then do the loops to bind off.  This means, I can knit and knit and knit until I run out of my special yarn, thereby not wasting an inch!

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I’m totally in love with the yarn.  It’s soft and springy with a beautiful sheen.  The color I’m not sold on, I feel like the purple needs to pop more.  And the blue should be deeper.  But hey – it was my first time dyeing and because of that alone, the yarn is special to me.

And of course, right on target, the weather decides to spike.

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A Handmade Rainbow

I have finally finished my Follow-Your-Arrow.  I cannot tell you how pleased I am with both the directions I chose to go, and the yarn I used.

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The blue is Bay Ridge Dye Works in colorway Ohana.

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The lovely rainbow edging is Lorna’s Laces Solemate in a limited edition colorway called “Bertha Palmer Honore”.  The best thing about it, I think, is that it’s light enough for me to wear through the spring months, and possible even on cooler summer nights.

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Here you see my two cats coveting it, and after a brief hissing match between me and them, they no longer tried to lay on top of it.

And now that it’s off the needles, I have a few projects that need small finishing touches, and I’m back to designing.  We are on a place this weekend, and I can’t wait for the time to knit.  I have one project for concentration and one for mindlessness, those moments I will be chatting with people or waiting in a restaurant.

All of the gears in my head are turning, and I’m looking forward to traveling once again, however brief the excursion may be.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Last night, after my lyra class and the long commute home, with a friend chatting away on the couch and my muscles sore as can be, I had the strongest urge to knit – just pick up a project and knit.  But it wasn’t like I could pick up just any project, because there was some intense need for the project, which was, at that point, unknown.  I spent a while pulling out my project bags, peeking inside, spreading them out and showing them off, and then quietly stuffing them into the bag again, because for some reason they didn’t seem to satisfy the need.

This has happened before, usually those rare moments when I’m struck with an odd sense of boredom, and I spend some time roaming around looking for something to do that satisfies the intense need for a specific type of productivity.  Sometimes it’s cleaning, sometimes it’s walking and last night it was a specific kind of fiber project.

And then I landed on it.  Yesterday was the first day it was really above freezing in a long time.  The sun was shining and you could hear the pitter patter of melting icicles throughout the neighborhood.  Everything felt like it was waking up, and I couldn’t find the project that reflected what I was feeling, until I pulled out the Follow Your Arrow that I had made when the sense of winter gloom was looming overhead.

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I ended up staying up too late working on it, and I’m eager to get back to it tonight.  This colorway inspires me to be cheerful and bright.

Back then, I had named the project “Over the Rainbow” – and seems to have been entirely appropriate.  I’ve got my rainbow.

Winter Won’t Beat Me

The polar vortex lingers.  It’s cold, constantly, to the point where I don’t care how high my gas bill spikes, I just want to feel my fingertips again!  It’s been kind of miserable, and I can feel my emotions going downhill.  I don’t want to be in Chicago right now, I don’t want to put on fifteen layers before heading outside, and I wouldn’t mind not needing four comforters on my bed.

I cast on the Follow Your Arrow Shawl, Version 2.0 – Operation Over the Rainbow.  So far, just looking at it lifts my spirits.

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Until you know…you notice an error in your lace portion and have to rip out the second clue.

Spoilers!

Clue 2 came out today for the Ysolda Teague Mystery Knit-Along.  I’ve decided this is a good time to share clue 1.

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I like how happy the shawl looks so far.  This yarn (Unplanned Peacock Studios) is a delight to work with – colorful, soft, accommodating.  It can be a little splitty if I’m not paying attention, but overall, it’s been wonderful.

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The yarn conundrum has been resolved, and later today I will be caking two skeins for the other shawl.  I’m kind of giddy to see where this is going.  This second clue has been quite interesting, and several different directions lie on the horizon.

The Yarn Conundrum

If you are a knitter, and perhaps maybe an obsessive passionate one, you have probably heard through the grapevine that Ysolda Teague has designed probably the most interesting shawl pattern/mystery knit along in existence.  She calls it Follow Your Arrow. (That link won’t show you anything, sorry.  It will just give more information in case you also want to join the frenzy).

Why is it so intriguing?

Ysolda’s MKAL consists of 5 clues, given out every Monday over 5 weeks.  Each clue contains 2 options, which flow seamlessly from which option you chose before, no matter which combination of options you are doing.  This means that one pattern can yield 32 completely different results! And actually, she gives a further option – make it solid color, or change colors, which means that really – there are 64 possible ways to knit this pattern.  Read it again. 64. SIXTY-FOUR, from one pattern.  Talk about getting your money’s worth.

My conundrum?

I cast one using the Unplanned Peacock Studio Kinky Socks in Wildflower, after much hemming and hawing over what yarn to use – do I want it two colored or just solid – how heavy, how drapey, blah blah  blah.  I started knitting, all the way through the first clue.  Then I made the mistake of checking the Ravelry forum to see what other people are doing.  Yeah….other people are casting on 2 or 3 or 5 shawls to see how the pattern unfolds.  I thought I could hold out, I really did.  I looked around at all of the projects I’ve got on the needles and I thought to myself – I don’t need to add another.

Then, I finished the Bosc scarf (YAY!) and set it to soak (and soak, and soak, and soak – the processing residue still lingers), and….well…. I have been trying really hard to stash bust, and I have  a lot of fingering weight…

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So, I started pairing up the fiber to see if anything could yield a good two-tone shawl.

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This color combination above is what got me started.  The blue is a skein that I just received from a swap, and the multicolor blue/purple/pink and sparkly skein next to it was a birthday present from a friend.  She spun it herself.  And colorway is called the “Cottingly Fairies”.

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Then I put the handspun next to this lavender yarn I received, also from a swap, and loved the soft purple tons and this makes the blue really pop (this picture is more true to the color of the handspun than the previous one) and the blue of the other picture kind of masks the blue in the handspun.

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But I like rainbows, a lot. And I saw the skein of limited edition Lorna’s Laces in the Bertha Palmer colorway and sandwiched between the bright yellow Madelinetosh and the ohana blue, I was stunned.  It’s so bright and cheery and perfect for these cold and dreary winter days.  But I don’t think I can handle THAT much yellow in a shawl.  I like yellow, it just doesn’t like being close to my face.

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Then I thought about all the mini skeins I have from Miss Babs (and some one of a kinds from Lorna’s Laces) and I thought about ways to pair them up so I can have a wildly colored shawl.  But none of them seemed to call to me.

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But I tried a series of grays – mini skeins and half used skeins, with a constant variable of the halo-ed alpaca I got in Seattle in May.

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And the gray led me to this pair.  I like the way the multi-color center skein (one of a kind mill end, Lorna’s Laces) kind of mutes the bright yellow.  I don’t think I care much for the gray in that mix.

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For a very girly combination, I put the Unplanned Peacock Studio next to the lavender.  It matches, but I’m not sure it’s really me.

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I kept coming back to the handspun.  I like it with the blue.  I also like it with the purple pictured above.  I tried to blend the skeins to see if they worked as well as I imagined.  I’m not quite sold.

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And then I did the same thing with the rainbow (Bertha Palmer, Lorna’s Laces) and the blue.  This is much more true to the bright color of the blue than the other pictures.  This combo made my eyes pop, and I think I may have found a winner.  But I’m still not positive.  I’m to the point where a lot of my fingering weight is limited edition, or handspun, or one-of-a-kind dye lots, or souvenir yarn.  And it’s really hard to justify using it for something I might not love.

What are your thoughts/suggestions?

And don’t say JUST KNIT THEM ALL! THERE ARE 32 OPTIONS TO PLAY WITH! Because that thought is going through my head about ten times a minute.

Are you doing this MKAL?  How is your project coming along?  Do you face the same dilemma?

So Much Knitting!!

I couldn’t sleep last night.  Mainly, I couldn’t sleep because I received some disappointing news right before bed, and my mind started reeling about what to do next.  What to do next seemed to have caused a surge of productivity and inspiration, because after 20 minutes of laying in the dark, staring at the ceiling, I just couldn’t take it anymore.  I jumped out of bed, flipped on the light, sat down with my sketchbook, calculator, graph paper, yarn, and several sets of needles, and started swatching.  I have a special treat for you later this week, but for now – this surge of industry has allowed me to complete Clue 3 of the Mystery Knit-a-long.  I am totally enamored with it and can’t wait for the last clue to come out on Friday!

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