WIPWed #118: Looking Outwards

I’m realizing that the level of energy I have lately for social media-type activities has been much reduced. To get a bit existential about it, I feel a bit like I’m looking inwards while this kid inside me grows. It reminds me of the time leading up to finals week during college, when I’d be living in my own head and mentally preparing myself for Big Things To Come, both simultaneously anxious for the time to get here already and slightly concerned about how it all will go down.

Also, I just nap a lot. My Saturday was basically as follows:

  • I’M HUUUUUUUNGRY!
  • eat breakfast
  • watch one tv show
  • eat snack
  • cry over how huge I look in all my clothes (it happens)
  • develop heartburn
  • spend 3 hours at spinner’s guild
  • I’M HUUUUUUUNGRY!
  • eat dinner
  • take a 3 hour nap
  • develop heartburn
  • go to bed

Oh, but it’s such a JOYFUL TIME! *eye roll* I am very much looking forward to the end result, but in the meantime, I’m anxious for it to be over. The only fun part has been feeling the little guy move around, and that’s only when he’s not kicking me directly in the cervix (that’ll get your attention, let me tell you). That said, I am trying to both be patient with myself and my body’s needs, and make a more concerted effort to do the things that bring me joy. Crafting, blogging, etc. bring me joy and I will just need to come up with a better way to time those activities when I’m not so damn tired.

Anyhow, since my last post TWO WEEKS AGO, I finished a few hats, which I will show you this Friday. Therefore, I currently only have two active knitting WIPs to chat about.

Christmas Katniss Socks:

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BMFA Tigger Targhee in Gnome for the Holidays. Click for project page.

These socks are coming along at a snail’s pace, mostly because I haven’t really been working on them. I do a row here or there when I need some travel knitting but that time was mostly consumed by the hats I finished. Hopefully I’ll make some real progress on these this week.

Sherbet Baby:

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Play At Life Fiber Arts Boundless DK in Pastels, click for project page.

The baby sweater was moving along at a good clip until I hit the border, because I lost part of my yarn swift when I moved in December and was procrastinating winding the next color I needed by hand. I did eventually, and then soon after found the missing part, so yay! However, now I’m procrastinating picking up edge stitches. Finishing techniques are fiddly and not my favorite for easy TV knitting.

Onwards and Outwards:

I’m feeling the urge to cast on something complicated, lightweight, and lacy. I feel like I want to use up some really beautiful yarn, like a yak/silk blend. I think I need a little luxury right now but I’m having a hard time deciding what I want to knit. Here are the three things I am coveting most at the moment:

That purple piece of gorgeousness is the Belmont stole, designed by Tanis Lavallee. I would knit it in 1000 yards of Rewya Fibers Bloom 50% yak / 50% silk yarn that my husband gave me as a gift when we got married. My concern is that it might take me years to actually complete…

This simple little asymmetrical shawlette (Antarktis by Janina Kallio) jumped its way up my queue recently when I was reminded about it by the lovely one that Knitting Sarah is making. That striking skein of Kettle Yarn Co. Westminster in Florence was a reward to myself for finishing the journal publication that resulted from my master’s thesis, and it’s been waiting in my stash for THREE YEARS because I haven’t been able to decide on a pattern special enough for it. I’ve considered the Sundance Scarf and the Shallows cowl, but neither felt exactly right. I’m not sure this is the right one, either, but it would likely get a lot of wear and be a decently quick knit.

Finally, I’ve admired this Ginkgo Shawl, designed by yellowcosmo, for some time now. (Come, admire all the ginkgo things!) I have two skeins of Blue Moon Fiber Arts Silkie Socks That Rock slated for it, in Single Cell Dating Pool and What’saabi. Every time spring approaches I am reminded that I want to make this shawl, and this year is no different. Maybe I actually will?

Which would you knit? Linking up with Yarnalong. This week I’m reading A Prayer for Owen Meany and boy, that John Irving is still successfully messing with my head. He’s a crazy good story-teller.

IS #84: Yak Attack

Some time ago, the generous people at Bijou Basin Ranch sent me two gorgeous skeins of their Bijou Spun Himalayan Trail  light sport weight yarn to review as part of a promotion of their new colorways inspired by the Outlander series.

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Bijou Spun Himalayan Trail. Click for website.

The lovely 50 g skeins (colorways Skye and Murtagh) each contain 200 yards of organic 75% yak, 25% superfine Merino 2-ply yarn. They have sat wound and ready to knit for literally months, patiently waiting for me to have the time to devote to designing something with them. I played around with some two color stitch patterns, but just could not make up my mind about what exactly I wanted to create. Mitts or hat? Cowl or scarf? A combined 400 yards is enough to make something lovely, but since I was working with an unfamiliar yarn (and more importantly, an unfamiliar fiber) I was wracked with indecision.
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Swatching evidence.

I’ve since begun re-reading the Outlander series. (I started it once a long time ago and was put off by all the rape threats and the weirdly anti-feminist and homophobic undercurrents in it. However, I guess I’ve been desensitized by the first 50 Shades of Gray book (no, I have not read the rest) because it didn’t bother me as much this time around and now I’m hooked, despite the rape-iness. But I digress.) As I’ve been reading the books, I’ve been thinking about the lovely yarn and exploring some knitwear ideas with greater urgency. Here are some patterns that I think would be smashing in this yarn.

Doodle Mittens:

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Photo copyright Suann Wentworth. Click for pattern page.

These Doodle Mittens, design by Suann Wentworth, have been in my queue for some time. While traditional colorwork is gorgeous, I really love the modern, fanciful design on these mittens. (Seriously, I’m a total sucker for swirls.) The mittens are designed for about 300 yards of sport weight yarn, which would be perfect for 2 skeins of Himalayan Trail in contrasting colorways. I really love these, but since I already have a pair of perfectly serviceable mittens, I decided against knitting these despite my love of the design.

Prickly Thistle Mittens:

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Photo copyright IgnorantBliss. Click for pattern page.

I know I just said that I decided against mittens, and I did, but I couldn’t resist sharing this gorgeous colorwork pair designed by SpillyJane anyway. Mostly because they’re pretty, but also because they are thematically appropriate (what with the Outlander series being based in Scotland and all). Yay, thistles!
Calinda:
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Photo copyright Faye Schiano. Click for pattern page.

I think that this cowl, designed by Barbara Gregory, is just absolutely gorgeous. It’s knit with fingering weight yarn in the round and alternates plain stockinette sections of each color with some elegant colorwork patterning where the sections meet. It’s actually part of a set with matching mittens, so I’m not sure how much of the 400 yards needed for the pattern is used for the cowl alone. However, the plain sections could be shortened a bit if yardage runs low with just two skeins of Himalayan Trail. A sleek cowl like this would be an excellent use of the soft, fuzzy lightness of the yarn.

Mrs. Jekyll & Little Hyde:

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Photo copyright LaMaisonRililie. Click for pattern page.

There is no shortage of two-color, fingering weight slouch hats on Ravelry, but this design by La Maison Rililie is unique and quite striking. It is a reversible hat, with both sides sharing the same brim and then separating so that one side shows a sporty, two-color stripe while the other shows a pretty lace with the contrast color peeking through. I love it and in fact, had been kicking around an idea for something very similar in cowl form. The only hiccup is that the hat is written for a light fingering/laceweight yarn so I’m not sure how well the thicker sportweight yak/merino will work in the pattern size-wise without some adjustments.

Dual Cable Hat:

Photo copyright MarlyBird. Click for pattern page.

This hat was designed by Marly Bird specifically for the Bijou Basin Ranch Himalayan Trail yarn. Isn’t that brim so cool? I’m tempted to knit this one just to figure out how it was done! I suspect it’s one of those stitch patterns that looks incredibly complex but is deceptively simple. Either way, it’s gorgeous, and I’m sure it’s lovely and warm in the yak/merino yarn. There are, of course, a whole slew of patterns designed specifically with the Himalayan Trail yarn in mind, including a few Outlander-themed pattern kits. My favorite kit patterns is the Forever Linked hat and cuffs set designed by Stefanie Goodwin-Ritter, for which you’d need two skeins of the same colorway in order to knit both pieces. After all this searching, the perfect pattern utilizing two different colorways seemed destined to elude me, until I had a lightbulb moment.

Ecclefechan Mitts:

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Photo copyright Kate Davies Designs. Click for pattern page.

Is there any designer whose work fits the bill better than Kate Davies when one needs a colorwork pattern for yarn inspired by a historical fiction novel based in Scotland? (The appropriate answer is ‘not bloody likely’.) Kate’s blog makes me homesick for the Highlands (which I’ve never visited) nearly every day and her designs are steeped in historical research and Scottish inspiration. Colorwork is her forte, and according to her notes, the pattern for these mitts was inspired by the dense colorwork gloves traditionally knitted in Dentdale and the Scottish Borders. In other words, these beauties are perfect. They’re designed for fingering weight yarn but I intend to swatch with the thicker sportweight and see how things work out! And of course, a full review will follow.

Have you read the Outlander series, tried a Bijou Basin Ranch yarn, or felt homesick for foreign lands you’ve never visited? Do you have a favorite project for 400 yards of two different colors, or a favorite Scottish knit? What are you feeling inspired by lately? Leave a link in the comments and let us know!

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WIPWed #62: Anti-Progress

I think there must be some force in the universe that is actively preventing me from making any knitting project progress. (I suspect that force is Time, or The Lack Thereof… perhaps with a healthy dose of Indecision.) Here’s what I accomplished (ha!) this week.

Spindling:

Turkish Spindles

Three little spindles L to R: Capar Large, Jenkins Aegean, Enid Ashcroft Mini

I’m enjoying playing around with my three little Turkish spindles. On the Capar to the left is some Louet Merino/silk, on the Jenkins Aegean in the middle is a BMFA yak/silk blend, and on the mini Enid Ashcroft is Miss Babs Merino/silk. I’m amazed at how differently they each spin! The Capar feels slow and steady. The Jenkins is flighty and needs lots of attention (i.e., multiple flicks per make). The EA is easygoing and a real pleasure to use. I pick them up here and there throughout the day. I have not yet made a habit of spindling for long, productive lengths of time nor have I gotten comfortable spinning out and about (like, say, waiting in a doctor’s office) which is when most of my crafting time occurs. Do you spin in any unusual places?

Simply Royal:

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BMFA BFL superwash, colorway Royal. Click for project page.

You’ll have to pretend like that’s a current, decent picture of my sock project… because it’s not. The purple area is meant to represent the length it is at the moment. Some progress, yay!

The Project That Isn’t:

Cephalopod Yarns Traveller | Woolen Diversions

Cephalopod Yarns Traveller, colorway Hobart, IN.

Just before we left for Costa Rica (like the night before), I went crazy (“I won’t have enough knitting, OMG!!!” ha) and wound up two skeins of CY Traveller for an emergency airplane project. I had decided I wanted to knit a Brickless shawl, but then I noticed how different my two skeins were. The top skein has a much bluer/greener cast and the bottom skein is more on the orangey-brown end of this colorway’s spectrum. (In case you’re wondering, the skeins were split in half so I could force them to fit into my bursting carry-on. See: crazy.)  I tried alternating skeins while knitting and it just didn’t look tidy with the way this pattern incorporates bound off edges into the design. I knit the tip of this shawl about 4 times, each time second-guessing myself and wondering if it wouldn’t be better in a thicker yarn with some silk in it (my original plan) or at least some better-matched skeins. Then I remembered the other projects I had wanted to knit with the Traveller yarn:

Photo copyright Hunter Hammersen. Click for pattern page.

Like the Chrysanthemum frutescens hat…

Photo copyright madelinetosh. Click for pattern page.

Or the Honey Cowl. I think if I use half of each skein for each project and alternate for a bit in the middle, the color differences shouldn’t be too noticeable, more like a gentle fade in tone. I should have enough yarn for the hat and a small version of the cowl. A fun and easy fall accessory set should be just the thing to get my knitting mojo back. Have you ever had a project that just did not want to be?

Check out Tamis Amis for more WIPs!

IS #74: Handspun Dreams

Audry asked an excellent question in the comments of my last post about what my handspun yarn will grow up to be. It appears that I tend to spin like I knit: in fits and starts, with many, many works-in-progress, that take quite a while to come to fruition. I have been spinning since January 2012 and over the last 2.5 years I’ve completely finished spinning 17 full skeins of yarn (one skein = 2-6 oz, depending on project) and 14 little ‘test’ or sample skeins (10 from my spinner’s study and 4 from trying out new tools or experimenting).

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Some of my more recent finished skeins (since October 2013).

And then, of course, I have 12 spinning WIPs (eek). One on each of my spindles, two that are resting off of my spindles, and the remaining are wheel projects in various stages of completion (why yes, I am out of bobbins, how did you guess?). The things I could accomplish with just a little more follow-through would be pretty amazing, amIright?!

All of my handspun projects to date!

Of my 17 full-size finished skeins, I have (at least partially) knit up 10 of them, have a hibernating WIP with the 11th, and gave 2 of them away as gifts. That leaves me with 4 unaccounted-for skeins.

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Four skeins of handspun waiting to be knit…

In the top left, we have the lovely skein of alpaca/silk I carded on a rented drum carder and finished spinning in April. It will most likely grow up to become a Morning Surf Scarf, when I get a chance to knit more regularly (read: post-wedding).

Copyright Jackie Erickson-Schweitzer. Click for pattern page.

The two skeins in the top right were from a spin-along last quarter. They are a generous 550 yards of 2-ply BFL wool destined to become a shawl. I’ve been eyeing up Joji’s The Way From Brighton, what do you think?

Copyright Joji Locatelli. Click for pattern page.

The skein on the bottom left is some more BFL, this time around 170 yards of DK-weight chain-plied yarn. I was thinking of some sort of hat, perhaps a Jango designed by Svetlana Volkova. I’d use it for the main color and then alternate some scraps for the contrast colors. Not sure yet, though. I like the neutral used in the pattern photo and I might want to pair my skein with a calmer color and knit a two-color shawl or cowl instead.

Copyright tweedysheep. Click for pattern page.

The final skein pictured is the last skein that I knit into a finished object way back in October 2013 (siiiiigh). I knit that fluffy little 4-ply Merino skein into a pretty fabulous hat. What are your favorite handspun projects? I’d love to see what you’ve made with yours or what you’ve been dreaming of making. Share a link or leave a comment below!

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