WIPWed #41: Skipping Along

This week of all-day-every-day work meetings is passing by in a blur but I am making quite a bit of knitting progress!



VG Codex, click for project page

I’ve finished my mom’s kick-cancer’s-butt shawl. It’s much prettier than it appears in this photo, I’ll get better pictures later when it’s finished blocking. I take a very relaxed attitude to blocking, especially when the item consists of mostly stockinette or textured stitches (i.e., is not a big complex lace shawl). I soak it in tepid water for 20 minutes or so with some Soak wash, lay it out on a towel, roll the towel, and squeeze the water out. Then I lay it flat on the blocking boards. For shawls, I pin the center top and center point first. I don’t go crazy trying to keep the edges straight, if the fabric wants to curve I let it curve around because (and this is key) nobody will know the difference when you are wearing it. For this simple shawl, I pinned the bottom edges out every 5 or so yarnover holes to make little points. Let the fabric tell you what it wants to do on a simple knit like this and it’s easy peasy.

November Melody:


VG Mithril, colorway November Moonlight, click for project page

This epically-boring-but-still-so-coveted little knit is an inch or so further along than shown here. It’s just laceweight yarn knit into a plain stockinette tube for a long, long time but I’m still enjoying it (despite the fact that the ball of yarn seems to be getting no smaller). I’m thinking I might incorporate beads into the fringe somehow to snazz it up a bit.

Purple Dissipative:


Malabrigo Twist, colorways Zinc and Grape

At the beginning of the day, the Dissipative cowl that I’m knitting for the #Giftalong KAL looked as pictured above. Now it’s done (pics Friday, hopefully)! It’s a speedy little knit and with the stripes and the great texture knit with Twist I have to say it’s a little bit addicting. Plus, I really adore this color combo. The Zinc reads as a neutral gray but when you pair it with the purple yarn you can see that it’s really a very pale, subtle lavender. It’s lovely.

Finally, my prize yarn from Malabrigo October Stockpile arrived. While I will never, ever, ever say no to free yarn I have to say I was amused when I opened my package. The mods of the Malabrigo Junkies group on Ravelry sent out a survey asking about favorite bases and colors and any colors you dislike, so they can pick out a suitable prize skein for you (though no guarantees). I remember writing something along the lines of “I do not like reds, oranges, or browns”.


Malabrigo Chunky, colorway Noviembre (red, orange, brown, and green)

While the skein I received includes exactly those colors, I have to say they’re not too bad all together like that. Maybe I’ll find a use for it after all!

Check out more WIPs at Tamis Amis.




IS #42: Handspun Inspiration

I’m running a bit late with this Inspiration Saturday post due to feeling a little under the weather. Which is a shame, because my spinner’s guild is having a dye workshop today that I am missing. But sometimes you get to go out and play with wool in the October sunshine and sometimes you have to stay home with the sniffles and work on a paper you’re trying to publish. Sigh.

Anyhow, in honor of #Spinzilla, I’ve gathered together some gorgeous projects from Ravelry that used handspun yarn. All photos belong to the stated Ravelry user, and you can click the photos to visit the project pages.

Photo copyright SmokingHotNeedles

The first projet is a great example of what you can do with just a small amount of handspun. This Raveler took 2 oz of fiber, spun it into a lovely self-striping laceweight, and knit a great dropped stitch scarf with it. I’ve had this pattern in my mental to-knit list for a while, it’s so fun with multicolored yarns.

Photo copyright Fleegle

This is another example of beautiful laceweight handspun. This spinner got about 600 yards (!) of yarn out of only 2.5 ounces and knit this fabulous gradient shawl with it. I LOVE GRADIENTS SO MUCH, GUYS. I already have some non-handspun gradient yarn that I’m planning to turn into a shawl like this… someday.

Photo copyright digitalnabi

Speaking of gradients, this Citron shawl is another beautiful example of gradient spinning, this time from 4 oz of fiber spun into a laceweight single. This project led me to a fantastic teqchnique tutorial on carding to create gradient handspun from hand-dyed top on the digitalnabi blog. Check it out, I will definitely be attempting that technique in the future!

Photo copyright klippity

To switch things up a bit from gradient yarns, we have these fabulous mitered mittens. These were created from about 150 yards of a wonderfully colorful handspun 2-ply, proof that you can make something lovely with small amounts of yardage!

Photo copyright CatReading

Last but not least, we have this simplified version of the Norie hat knit with about 175 yards of sport/dk 2-ply handspun. I love how this hat is working with the nature of handspun: keeping it simple stockinette and texture to show off color transitions and embracing the heathered look of portions of the yarn where the color changes in the 2 plies differed (barberpoled). This Ravelry user has a whole slew of gorgeous handspun projects on her page, I had a hard time choosing just one.

I hope that’s provided some ideas for what to do with your handspun yarns! What’s your favorite pattern or project for handspun?

IS #40: Scarf Lust

I have to keep our inspiration short today as I’m taking my future-niece-and-nephew to the zoo today, but here’s what’s got my interest lately: scarves. I know, you think scarves and you think boring, basic, first-thing-I-ever-knit rectangles. In their defense they are usually simple, practical, and are the accessory I tend to reach for the most for day-to-day wear. As such, I need more of them in my life. Here are a few I’ve been drooling over. (All photos from Ravelry pattern pages, click for link.)

Copyright Amanda Weir

This Garter Plaid Scarf by Amanda Weir is just awesome. Simple-yet-interesting knitting, endless color combinations, in a nice light fingering weight so that you can wear it indoors and out. I already have yarn picked out for this. It’s gonna happen.

Photo credit QueenBusyBee

This is the Gathered Scarf from the Skacel Collection. Here, changing needle sizes and using a unique yarn (laceweight silk/mohair blend) makes this simple scarf really interesting and feminine.

Photo credit Talitha Kuomi

This is the corriente scarf pattern designed by Talitha Kuomi (one of the Fiber Factor contestants). I love how this scarf is also a stylish accent, rather than just providing warmth. I especially love the way the cables shape the edges of the scarf. Designed with a silk yarn, I think it would be great in a silk blend like my beloved Codex.

That’s all I’ve got today! Have a great Saturday, all. 🙂


IS #38: Stripes and Rainbows and Gradients, Oh My!

Audry asked, after I finally finished my took-forever-shawl, what I would knit next. Funnily enough, I CAN’T DECIDE and am having the (familiar) issuing of wanting to knit all the things. So I have this gorgeous gradient handspun (if I do say so myself) and some rainbow-y delicious future-handspun, and I’m wracking my brain and poring over Ravelry projects to come up with plans worthy of their color-tastic wondrous-ness because it’s high time I start a new project.

Here is one idea I’m really liking for the rainbow fiber:

Scarf and photo by noelleisknitting, click photo for Ravelry project

I love the simplicity of striping with white and it really lightens up the rainbow effect so it’s not so HOT DAMN THAT’S A RAINBOW! In fact, I might have just talked myself right into this. It would work especially well because I could practice spinning thicker yarns and use up the rainbow mountain of fiber faster. However, it does mean I’ll need to get some undyed Polwarth… or maybe even better yet, some light silvery grey! Hmmmm… what do you think? Any other ideas?

I also just came across this shawl in the Knitty Deep Fall 2013 issue:

Photo copyright Melinda VerMeer, click for pattern

The pattern is Nympahlidea and seems to make nice use of multi-colored yarn broken up with a solid color. And now what about the gradient yarn that already exists?

I’ve been debating between a couple different patterns. First, I had this Waving Chevron Scarf by Lee Meredith in mind:

Photo copyright Lee Meredith, click for pattern

But the pattern recommends 3 colors and I only have the 2 skeins. I do actually have a bright green braid of BFL fiber in stash that would coordinate nicely, but I’m impatient and I’d have to spin that first. Then I found this pattern, Foolproof by Lousie:

Photo copyright Louise Zass-Bangham, click for pattern

It’s an infinity cowl with a really interesting construction that involves no cast on, no bind off, no knitting in the round, no grafting, and no picking up stitches. I KNOW, RIGHT?! The description was so mysterious I had to purchase the pattern just to see how it was done. And I saw a lovely handspun version in progress that got me thinking about using my gradient yarns, too:

Knitting and photo by stickybuns, click for Ravelry project

Truth be told I’m leaning towards this cowl because I think the pattern is really cool. A similar pattern by the same designer was recently featured on The Loopy Ewe blog. Fall has got me craving some big, cuddle-worthy cowls and scarves. What do you think? Any good project ideas for gradient yarns? I have 2 skeins of 270 yards each, about DK weight.

What’s been inspiring you, lately? Do you have some fall-ish knitting planned yet?

FO Friday #19: Partially Finished

I’ve got a few partially-finished projects to show today! Since it’s been uber super busy around here lately, you’re getting the short-and-sweet version.

Remember the simple drop-stitch scarf I was knitting for my physical therapist?

I finished the knitting in almost no time at all and am just waiting for the chance to block it. I improvised the design and actually ripped back from the photo in the previous post so that I could make it narrower. After doing that, I got pretty decent length out of only one skein of Malabrigo Rios! Yay for the magic of dropped stitches.

And then because of the birth of my nephew, I was overtaken by the urge to knit tiny things.

4 inch DPN for scale

So I made a wee baby sock for Logan. I used sport weight leftovers and only cast on 24 stitches which helped this little thing knit up in a jiffy. I hope that baby likes warm toes because itty bitty socks are kind of addicting.

Finally, this is nowhere near done but here’s most of the leg of the third Tour-de-Sock pattern, Lebowski by Star Athena.

I love stripes, especially in such happy colors, and I’m digging the little colorwork bits. I am going to take liberties with the heel, though. The original pattern involves an intarsia eagle and the image is just not jiving with the colors I’m using. Plus, I don’t like to get too fancy with my heels as they take so much wear and tear, they just need to be sturdy. I have a dazzling idea in mind but you’ll have to wait until next time. 🙂 Sidebar: why have I never used Skinny Bugga for socks before? It’s fabulous! It still feels soft and wonderful, but has a lower cashmere content than regular Bugga so hopefully won’t pill and fuzz up as much in socks.

And a gratuitous Darwin picture because he was feeling frisky this morning:

Awwwwww… ouch!

Check out some real more FO’s below!

IS #26: Summer Scarves

A while back I had started some mitts to thank my physical therapist for all of the magic she’s worked on me. Then I put them down for a while, totally forgot about them, and lost the paper I had been using to keep track of what I was doing. Our last session is coming up soon and mitts in the middle of the summer seem kinda strange, but I felt like a light airy scarf would do nicely so I changed the plan.

Malabrigo Yarn Rios, colorway Archangel

Since I only have one skein of the yarn, I am using a drop stitch design knit on the bias (for tapered ends) to make the yardage stretch. I think drop stitch patterns are great for light, summery scarves and all those elongated stitches are particularly fabulous with variegated yarns. A basic, free pattern for the drop stitch that I knit a few years back is the Whimsey Garter Drop Stitch Scarf by Classic Elite Yarns.

Louisa Harding Yarns Jasmine

I have two criteria for establishing something as a good summer scarf: 1) it is airy and lightweight and 2) it is simple to keep track of and fun to knit, for all those times when you’ll be knitting in the car on the way to a picnic or at the beach or around a campfire. (That’s not just me, right?) Complex lace scarves are great, too, but sometimes they aren’t so easy to bring around with you and they can look out of place thrown over a casual tee and capris, where the more basic designs fit in just fine.

Copyright Thirteen on Flickr

This is the Seafoam Scarf by Ali Green, another free pattern. It’s a basic drop stitch design but by varying the number of times you wrap the yarn around the needle before you drop it, you get those neat waves. It’s also a good example of how variegated yarns look awesome in this stitch.

Copyright amyKnitty on Flickr

This is the Montego Bay scarf by Amy Singer. It’s a basic k2tog, YO repeat pattern but it’s awesome for 3 reasons: 1) bias knit tapered ends 2) fringe! and 3) using amazing silk yarn. Summer scarves are definitely great projects to experiment with those non-wool blends. Add some silk, some cotton, some linen. Stretch your wooly boundaries!

Copyright ArlenesLace on Flickr

This one is a bit more solid than the rest but no less awesome. This is the Hypernova Scarf by Arlene’s World of Lace. It’s a chevron design that flares out fabulously on both ends of the scarf and, again, is great with variegated, colorful yarns.

Copyright Veronik on Flickr

This one, the Lace Ribbon Scarf by Veronik Avery, is very popular on Ravlery. It has a similar look to the previous scarf except it has zig-zags instead of chevrons between columns of openwork stitches and would probably look great in any thickness of yarn.

Copyright alliejay on Flickr

Finally, this is the Foreign Correspondent’s Scarf by Lexy Lu. It’s a tiny bit more textured with more involved (but still dead simple) lace than the others I’ve posted, but I’ve seen some gorgeous versions of this and I’ve had it queued for some time.

Phew, that’s a lot of scarves! Do you have a favorite summery knit? Please link along and share your inspiration with us, whatever it may be!

WIPWed #26: So This Is Monogamy

Hello, friends! I am back from Tennessee with some stories and photos to share, but those will have to wait until a later date as right now I have a deadline. A knitting deadline (my favorite kind!) which has forced me to be monogamous in my WIPs. No cheating. All week long, all I knit was this:

Aren’t you proud of me? That is a stockinette scarf with tapered ends, knit on the bias. A friend requested it and needed it quickly which worked out well because its simplicity made it excellent vacation knitting. However, a few hours ago it was a couple of feet longer. (Yes, you heard that right.) I had to rip back because I had missed the midpoint of the scarf, knitted right on past it, where I needed to change the direction of the bias so the ends would taper like I wanted them to. This was not a happy realization, especially since he needs this thing by Friday. Oy. Knit like the wind!

The yarn’s really nice, though. I haven’t used any with quite so much bamboo content before (77% bamboo, 23% Merino wool) but I’m loving the way the fabric feels. Loose, flowy, cool — dare I say, exquisite. The yarn is currently on sale for half off at Webs, if you’re interested.

That’s all I have time for today, folks, I’ve gotta get through about 2 feet of scarf tonight. The Fiasco is highly amused by this project. He calls it my Dr. Seuss scarf. It does kind of remind me of a Thneed.

IS #6: Giving

This week’s Inspiration Saturday post was inspired by a gift.

Catalina Baby Alpaca Worsted

What you see above is the first wearable item my mom has ever crocheted! She tried knitting years and years ago when I first got into it and was entirely unsuccessful. She knit a “square” that was so misshapen that when folded in half, it looked like the perfect winter garment for a particular part of the male anatomy (think about it). While highly amusing, it was a frustrating experience for her and she basically gave up on crafting. Then I tried getting her into crochet, since it was a bit faster to do and I thought maybe she would enjoy handling just one hook and one stitch at a time better. She liked it and made a few things for around the house, but she couldn’t do it perfectly so she wasn’t happy with it and she almost quit. But, while I was home over Christmas, I showed how to use Craftsy and she signed up for Vickie Howell’s crochet class— which was just what she needed to make it all click for her. She  sent me this scarf as a gift, her first really successful project, because she said I inspire her. I love it.

She used a soft, alpaca yarn and it feels really nice. It is also the first handmade garment anybody has ever given me, which when considering the vast numbers of handknit items I gift every year, is a little bit sad! (Somebody make me stuff! haha) But I love that she gave me her first project and I will wear it with pride and admiration of how she didn’t give up, despite genitalia-shaped first attempts at yarncraft.

If you happen to be feeling in a giving mood, Afghans for Afghans is running a quick campaign for hats, mittens, and socks for teenagers (ages 14-21). The small or medium size of my free Giving Comfort hat pattern would be perfect for this and knits up quickly in bulky yarn or worsted weight held double, which many Ravelers have done. The deadline is tight (January 24th) but you can whip up a hat or mittens in under a week, I bet!

Speaking of tight deadlines, anybody feel like test knitting something quickly? (UPDATE: I think I have all the help I need for now, thanks guys!)

Sneaky peeky!

The test knit requires less than 100-150 yards of one colorway and about  75 yards of another of heavy worsted or aran-weight yarn. You only knit with one colorway at time and it’s an item for your neck region. Please email me at shoelaceswitcher at gmail dot com or leave a comment saying you are interested in testing if you can finish the knit and post a picture on Ravelry by January 22nd (I know, I know! but I promise this is quick, especially the small size). If you could help a knitter out, I’d be eternally grateful. Plus, I can send you some yarn to knit it with (Malabrigo Twist) if you can guarantee you will be done in time! (Twist is my favorite yarn ever, so that should tell you how grateful I would be for your help…)

If you’re feeling inspired this week and would like to share, please link along below!

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.


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?