Hurricane Hat

So the nice thing about being holed up inside waiting out a hurricane is that there’s plenty of time to knit:

Malabrigo Chunky,  colorway Purple Mystery

That’s the Snappy Hat pattern by Corrina Ferguson. It’s free and works up quickly. At first I was concerned because I know I like my Chunky hats knit on size 10 needles with a 60 stitch cast on and this pattern called for size 10 3/4 needles and a 70 stitch cast on that increased to 80 for the body of the hat. I was doubtful that it would fit well and thought it would be much too large. However, after waffling back and forth I decided to trust the designer and I’m glad I did. All those cable twists really tighten up the fabric so the hat fits just fine and I really appreciate how smoothly the cables decrease at the crown. (I love a good set of crown decreases and hate it when hat patterns are lazy about it!) Corrina has a bunch of great patterns, including her Gaenor shawl, which is one of the first shawls I ever made.

From 2010! Apparently I like to knit her patterns in purple.

I feel like I’m playing hookey today because I was supposed to start a brand new job as a Marine Biologist for an environmental consulting firm in Rhode Island. Kind of tough to do, though, when there are declared states of emergencies in both RI and CT and all the major highways are being closed down. So my first day will be Wednesday, instead. Wish me luck! And wherever you are, I hope you stay safe and dry!

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Tried and True

I think sometimes Malabrigo yarns get a bad rap for pilling and lack of strength due to their super-soft-Merino-wool-ness, and I’m here to tell you that I think that’s unfair. As a point of proof, check out my Saroyan, the first-ever-shawl I finished 2 years ago in March 2010:

That’s my “Yay, Malabrigo!” face.

It’s a lovely pattern, a sideways-knit shallow shawl/scarf-like piece with a pretty lace leaf edging.

Colorway: Green Gray

I used Malabrigo Twist, an aran-weight Merino wool composed of 8 plies and it was love-at-first-touch. It is super soft with a nice weight and thickness, and the shawl felt like it flew off my needles. For the 25 repeats I knit, it took just a bit over three skeins knit on size 10 needles.

As times has told, it’s one of the warmest things I’ve ever knit. I wear it constantly in the winter, wound about my face with the ends tied in front, and I’ve been wearing it a lot lately during chilly mornings on the boat, as well. The poor thing has been tugged on, tucked into coats, tossed around in bags, and has seen its fair share of rain, sleet, snow, frozen breath, seawater, seaweed, and fish slime.

The Saroyan, today.

After all that, it doesn’t look half bad. AmIright? I mean, it’s fuzzed up a bit, but not to the point where the leaf details are obscured or where there are giant pills hanging off of it everywhere. It hasn’t even seen a sweater shaver/sweater stone– the above photo shows its exact state of wear with no doctoring other than a handwash now and then. For such a short-staple fiber as Merino and for a yarn that sometimes gets a bad rap for looking crappy with wear, I think it’s held up quite well to the abuse that I’ve put it through. So, for those who say Malabrigo pills too much, give Twist a try. I really love the stuff!

Purple Procrastination

Since I don’t want to work on what I’m supposed to be working on right now, I thought I’d post about an older finished object of mine.  (You can see more posts about projects finished before the birth of this blog here, where the tag OBG stands for ‘Oldie But Goodie‘).

Malabrigo Sock yarn, colorway Violeta Africana

This is the Gaenor Shawl designed by Corrina Ferguson. It is a great little pattern. The shawl is knit sideways from end-to-end, so you begin with just a few stitches and you cast off just a few stitches, rather than beginning or ending with hundreds of stitches on the needle like you would for other shawl constructions. This type of shawl is great for when you have a smaller amount of yardage or when you want to be sure you will use all your yarn. You weigh your skein and split it in half, then increase to the middle of the shawl, and decrease for the second half of the shawl. The majority of this shawl is knit in garter stitch with just a bit of lace on the edging to keep things interesting, so it’s nice and simple, and a good intro to shawl knitting. I believe it was my second shawl ever, finished in March of 2010.

My only complaint about this shawl is that it ended up being too small for me to wear as a shawl. It was 57″ wide post-blocking, but that just isn’t large enough for me. Instead I wear it kerchief-style, which works pretty well, too:

Two-years-ago me, looking all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for some mysterious reason…

In fact, I’m wearing it this very moment because this sudden last-minute winter comeback is making it so flipping cold in my apartment! When I’m chilled I always feel better with a little something around my neck, and this shawl in such a soft, lightweight merino works great. With all the fancy luxury blend yarns floating around (Bugga, I’m looking at you) I sometimes forget how much I like good-ol’-merino like Malabrigo. In fingering weight the shawl is not too bulky, doesn’t get in the way, and still looks might pretty, even if I am just going to stay inside in my pajamas working all day. And yes, I am a staunch supporter of wearing pretty lace shawls with your pajamas.

What’s your take on shawls? Are you an over-the-shoulders shawl-wearer or a ’round-the-neck shawl wearer? Dressy, casual, or both?

Oaky Goodness

Since there hasn’t been a whole lot of new knitting going on and nothing interesting to show you (turns out shawls look pretty much the same as they progress until you reach the edging, just a slightly larger triangle…) I thought I’d feature an older project that I dug out and wore recently that deserves some love.

SG Bugga, colorway Oak Timberworm

I’m not usually a ‘brown’ person, although I’ve been told it’s a good color on me, but this particular colorway was gorgeous and perfect for this leafy pattern. It used to be a standard colorway available at The Sanguine Gryphon but alas, no more. It was highly variable, though, so you really had to catch just the right skein otherwise it was too orange-y or muddy or just not to my liking. I liked it with lots of the deep reds and greens and I lucked out with my skein.

Post-blocking

The pattern is the Woodland Shawl by Nikol Lohr, available for free on Ravelry. It is a lovely, simple knit. The repeat is easy to memorize after a few times and it becomes nice and meditative. I cast on 53 stitches and added a bit of 1×1 ribbing to both ends. I used the entire skein to get a good size scarf (8″ wide, 63″ long) and I used a few grams of coordinating colorways (Cowkiller and Autumn Tiger Beetle, the red and green) in the fringe. This was finished last March. I don’t wear it nearly as much as I should, but whenever I do have something brown to wear I pull out this scarf.

Hmm, I think I just talked myself into knitting another simple lace scarf out of Bugga. Any ideas?


Getting All Knit-stalgic

There’s almost nothing I love more than converting unsuspecting innocents into diehard knitters. Nothing. For some, their attention is grabbed because they’re fascinated by the process. For others, they covet the results. For my dear friend Katy, it started with the yarn (Bugga!) and since I talked her into purchasing her first skein, she’s made lightning-fast leaps and bounds down the winding road to Diehard Knitterland. Here’s a bit of a map to how I see that road going:

The 12-Step Road to Addiction
Step 1A: Hmmm, this knitting thing sounds interesting. *internet research*
Step 1B: My, what pretty socks you have. I want! *covet*
Step 1C: Omg! Yarn is so pretty! I had no idea! *spends monies*
Step 2: I will try this. Yes. *scarf knitting commences*
Step 3: Ravelry is discovered. Countless hours are lost.
Step 4: What are these circular things? * hat knitting commences *
Step 5: This Yarn Harlot lady is hilarious!  *knitting blogland is discovered*
Step 6: Nobody told me size 1 DPNs were so small! *first sock knitting commences*
Step 7: What is The Knitters Book of Yarn? *learns everything about yarn and still wants to know more*
Step 8: Stitches East? Vogue Knitting Live? SOAR? Sock Camp? Rhinebeck? *wishful thinking about yarn-related events commences*
Step 9: Expresses love through creating knitted gifts.
Step 10: Expresses love through creating more knitters.
Step 11: So many things to say about knitting! *blogging commences*
Step 12: I could make something like that myself! *designing commences*

Katy is currently somewhere around Step 7. I couldn’t be more proud! In two years, she’ll be giving spinning a whorl (haha puns are fun) and eventually we’ll both be traveling  from festival to festival purchasing hand-dyed yarns, spindles, wheels, fiber, unwashed fleeces, and ultimately whole sheep. At least for myself, it’s only a matter of time.

I feel pretty confident about my two-year prediction, because here is my first sock, finished in January 2010:

Knitpicks Stroll

Ill-fitting, loosely knit, and awkwardly modeled, yet I can’t help but be proud of them and I even still wear them from time to time. Now, two years later, I’m around step 11 & 12 of my personal road to addiction and branching out into the brand new world of spinning. It’s so fun to learn a whole new jargon, new ins-and-outs, make new mistakes, and discover new tricks. I just wish, as always, that I had more time.

Whereabouts are you in your road to Diehard Knitterland?

Mending

Hello Blogland, meet my favorite sock ever:

Socks in their prime, made with STR MW, colorway My Wild Irishgirlie

This is the first pair I completed (in April 2010) that really fit me well and I love everything about them. The pattern is Slip Jig by Irishgirlieknits and I think they are just so pretty. Since they involve my favorite colors and are clearly full of awesome, I wore the hell out of them and blew a giant hole in the heel:

Inside out, on darning egg

They’ve been like that for months and I have missed them greatly. Finally today I looked up a helpful youtube video and great photo tutorial and got my darnin’ on. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought! Quite simple, really. I didn’t hold the yarn double like the photo tutorial suggested, I just used a single strand, but then I did end up doing a third pass of weaving because I felt like the fabric was still too airy.

All woven up
Taa-daa!

They may not look perfect but at least they are wearable again! I also mended a pair of my Fiasco’s socks:

Socks in their prime, made with STR HW, colorway Pining 4 Ewe

These are Uncle Frank socks, also designed by Irishgirlieknits! They were his first pair, too, and he has worn them nearly constantly. There are no holes yet but some very thin spots on the bottom of the heel that I figured could use some reinforcing just in case.

Now, if only every problem in life could be so easy to mend…

Phew!

Well, then. I posted a request over in my one of my favorite groups on Ravelry (The soon-to-be-no-more Sanguine Gryphon) for recommendations of knitting blogs to read, and I had so many great responses! I’ve added them all to my “Who I Follow” tab and look forward to checking them out in my downtime.

Today I wore the Rock Island shawl I made out of SG’s Mithril, a 100% wool laceweight yarn that is truly lovely. It has several plies which makes it feel nice and strong for a laceweight. The skeins have a generous 750 yards and the wool softens up so nicely after blocking.

I used the colorway Brightness of Day, from the Spring/Summer 2011 lineup. It certainly lives up to its name! I have a few more skeins of Mithril stashed that I’m looking forward to knitting. So much lace, so little time.

So, about The Sanguinge Gryphon. I will miss them. If you’re unfamiliar with them, they are a wonderful team of hand-dyers who create unique, beautiful colors on deliciously scrummy yarn bases. Bugga is their most popular, a sport-weight merino/cashmere/nylon blend that truly does live up to the hype.

 See? That’s their Bugga base in Painted Damsel, an extraordinarily hard-to-get color that I was only able to obtain when they did a special unlimited update for it. I love their other bases as well, like QED (100% BFL wool) and Codex (50-50 BFL and silk) and I will be sorry to see them go. What amazes me the most about their company is the way they built up such a fan base. Colorways are stalked, limited updates can be frenzied, and people will ring up the debt just to get sweater quantities in a color they MUST HAVE. By people, I do mean me. I haven’t reached sweater quantities yet but I will buy yarn that I didn’t know I couldn’t live without until they decided to dye it! It truly is amazing. It’s comforting to know that certain bases won’t be disappearing forever, SG is going to split into two brand new companies that will carry a few bases we know and love to start with, but it is a bit unsettling to know it is all going to change. On the one hand, I like being able to have a fairly good chance of getting a colorway I love on a base that I need for the project I have in mind. Since they will begin with limited base types and probably limited stock, I’m pretty sure that ability will be going away and honestly, I like using worsted weight yarn and neither company will be carrying any to begin with. But on the other hand, this could be good for me to curb my yarn purchasing. Like a smoker quitting cold turkey, maybe having SG close at approximately the same time that I will be finishing my master’s degree and looking for a job will be a good thing for me, help me kick the habit. I’d like to knit up some more of the lovely skeins I already have sometime in the near future!

I’ll declare it here: 2012 will be the Year of Knitting from the Stash. Yes. I can purchase new yarn only with a gift certificate or as a reward for hitting a weight-loss goal. I think that seems fair. And just because I won’t be buying new yarn doesn’t mean I won’t be talking about yarn on this blog, there will be plenty, and I think talking about the skeins I already have will help me fight the urge to buy more. Makes sense, yes? Besides, there are no holds barred until the end of 2011. I still have two solid months of frenzied get-it-before-it’s-gone purchases to make. 🙂

What’s your yarny weakness? What makes you HAVE TO HAVE it?