So, Rhinebeck!

Guys, I think I’m going!

I’m probably going on Sunday though, because I’ve got this awesome sweater to wear, and Saturday is going to be super warm. I want to wear my thick, lovely wool sweater or I’ll just be devastated, because it is so amazingly rad. I’ve totally picked out my outfit, and a 70 degree day just isn’t going to cut it.

If I get my act together before going, I’m going to try to do a photo series called “Sweater Selfies.” The deal is, I bring a tiny dry erase board and a marker, you find me, you write the name of your blog or Instagram or whatever on the board, and we take a selfie together to show off our knitwear. I may resort to making insane faces. It could be a good time. I then Instagram the whole thing with the hashtag #RhinebeckSweaterSelfies. Ya dig? Who thinks this idea is crazy? I think that it’ll be fun.

For those of you who are going to try to find me on Sunday, I look like this:

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At least, I do on a good hair day. See y’all soon!!!

A Yarn Miracle.

Blog friends, I have experienced something new and totally awesome. Something that has never happened to me before. Something so major, that the karmic backlash is going to be completely epic, and I don’t even CARE. (Actually, I like to think that  I’m a super nice person who tries to send out nothing but good vibes and happiness into the world, and when something like this happens, it’s like a nice pat on the back from the universe for not being a jerk, because lots of people are TOTALLY JERKS. But I digress.) Guys, I have experienced a real, no-foolin’, honest-to-god yarn MIRACLE.

“How?” you ask. “How could an event involving normal yarn be something that could be considered to be a miracle? Please enlighten me Lolly, because I am confused.”

First of all, you’re working with an incorrect assumption. It was not in the least normal yarn. It was my one of a kind, unique in the universe handspun, spun from fiber that was also one of a kind, and totally non-repeatable. This wool was totally gorgeous and awesome and special and there was absolutely no way to get more. It’s like something that a hipster dreamed up when they were thinking of how to be cooler than their friends (I may not be done making fun of hipsters.) But actually I should go back even further and tell you about the sweater. I already told you about my plans for this sweater in a past blog post, but having all the materials there and ready to go was too much. I had a pretty light grey yarn as the setting for the blue handspun, (Ella Rae Classic Heathers if you care) and I was completely wild to see how they looked together. I snapped and started the sweater.

Before I knew it, the yarn for the yoke was wound and ready to go. 10.14.14.1

Lovely gradient, isn’t it? I also had two matching mini skeins with the exact same gradient for the cuffs on the sleeves, but more on them later. Before you could even blink, I had most of a yoke! Knitting with this stuff is incredibly addictive, because the colors layer on top of each other in the most completely charming ways.

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I knit away happily, slapping in a bit of simple colorwork when I deemed it the right time, generally following the guidelines that I had made up beforehand, but for the most part making it up as I went. (That’s why it’s a top down sweater, so I could wing it like that. I’m not completely insane. I’ve been trying it on as I progress.) I separated for the sleeves, and in a brief moment of clarity (I do occasionally have them) I realized that if I did the sleeves first, I could use all the remaining yarn on the body. I like my sweaters to be nice and long, so had I started with the body I would be worried about running out of yarn on the sleeves if I made the body as long as I wanted. This way I could finish the sleeves and then knit until there was no more yarn. (Turns out, in mockery of my magnificent plan, I’m going to have at least a full ball of yarn extra. Take heed my friends. If you plan awesomely, the Knitting Goddess will give you tons of extra yarn as a joke at your expense. If you don’t plan well enough, she will smack you down with the pain of being impaled on thousands of tiny sock needles, and you will run out of discontinued yarn with three completely essential rows to go. Tangling with her is a no-win scenario.)

Anyway, I got distracted again! What is the deal with me? Writing ADD ahoy! Back to the story. I did one of the sleeves, using the same colorwork motif as on the yoke, just, you know, smaller. Because it was a sleeve. I started the grey portion of the other sleeve, and then, because I am smart and like to plan ahead (My mother just fell out of her chair laughing. A smart cookie I may be, but a planner I am most decidedly NOT.) I wound the ball of handspun for the other lovely matching cuff. (I was really proud of this idea, a matching handspun yoke and cuffs. Beware, pride goeth before a fall. If you think you’re super smart, the universe is about to get a big old laugh at your expense.) I tucked the ball into my makeshift project bag for the sweater, which is actually the pouch that one of my sheet sets came in. I am using that because none of my zipper bags is big enough for the sweater and all its associated accoutrements. The thing is some kind of woolly amoeba. That is actually important, because that bag buttons shut rather than zips, and is a less secure storage space for wee balls of yarn with wandering tendencies.

So there I was, one night after work, knitting away on the second sleeve, and lo and behold, it’s time to do the colorwork bit that starts the second handspun cuff! I’m excited, just so ready to get that sucker going, and I reach into the bag for my tiny ball of handspun (seriously tiny, like 40 yards), and it was GONE! (Dun dun dun…) At first, I tell myself not to panic. It probably fell out while I was working on it that evening, and I need to just relax and look around my apartment. No luck. That’s okay, I remember that the night before when I was working on it while watching TV at Greg’s house (he has a TV and I don’t, so I go over and mooch off his. Also he cooks me dinner all the time and it’s the bomb. Lest ye think I’m a total freeloader, I do way more cleaning of his house than I do of mine, because he both hates cleaning and adores having a clean house. Barter system for the win!) anyway, when I was watching TV over there, I had to dump out the project bag to get something, and it likely rolled away without me noticing. No biggie, I’ll just go over there tomorrow and retrieve it. Yeah. For now, I need to just relax and get some sleep. (you can take a guess at how well I slept, not knowing where that tiny ball of yarn was.) Some of you may be asking “But Lolly, why didn’t you just text Greg and ask him if the yarn was there?” The answer is pretty simple. I try to play it cool and act like I’m not totally obsessed with this knitting thing. It’s totally an important part of my life, but calling Greg at a time perilously close to the middle of the night and waking him up so he could search his apartment for a ball of yarn seemed a bit like overkill (and I feel like that was a solid decision for the health of our relationship.) It turned out it wasn’t there either. At that point I was feeling a little panicked. Even though I know the lady who dyes this fiber, it was a one of a kind colorway, and even if it was possibly repeatable, I wasn’t sure exactly how much fiber I had used for the rad little cuff piece. A replacement would still not be the same, and I would forever be mocked by a non-matching cuff, and it would be TERRIBLE. I decided to retrace my steps, and go everywhere that the little ball of yarn might possibly be. I was searching around the cafeteria looking like a complete crazy person, when this little old Chinese lady came over to me. She asked me what I was looking for, but the language barrier was such that we had a little trouble communicating. (Some people would be upset by this, but her English was still better than my (nonexistent) Chinese, so I figure I’m not allowed to be bummed out until I get way more educated.) Our conversation went something like this.

“What are you looking for?”

“A ball of yarn”

*blank look*

“Like string? A ball of string?”

“A bottle of WHAT?”

“No, a ball, not a bottle.” At this point I think I tried to shape it with my hands. That poor lady must have thought I was some kind of lunatic. But then I bethought myself of the great and mighty powers of the google, and I pulled up a picture of a ball of yarn to show her, figuring that it would be more effective than my attempts to explain why I was looking under all the tables. I showed her a picture of a ball of yarn, and she immediately shouted “OH!” and ran over to the windowsill where my ball of yarn was sitting innocently, for all the world like it hadn’t jumped out of my bag like a TRAITOR. The lady looked at me very sternly, and said “It was on FLOOR.” I felt ready to sink through the same floor with embarrassment, because she was gazing at me with this expression that clearly said “you can’t even keep track of a ball of string, how are you even a person who lives in the world?” However, she patted my shoulder and waved away my thanks, like she goes around fixing disasters in her spare time like it’s no big thing. I clutched my returned treasure, hardly believing that I had actually found the thing. I had truly believed that it was gone forever and made all kinds of crazy contingency plans that turned out to be totally unnecessary. Of course, having found it, I immediately smooshed it on my face and took a selfie (as one does) so all of you could share in my moment of joy.

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I promise that it’s not out of any sense of narcissism, because there is some weird grainy business going on with that picture. My face doesn’t normally look (quite) that odd. Of course, I started knitting the yarn into the sweater immediately so it didn’t have another chance to escape, and now…

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I’ve got a few more inches to add onto the bottom and some ribbing so it clings fetchingly rather than flaring out weirdly, (I have a thing about sweaters that don’t have ribbing at the bottom, and it is not a good thing. Maybe someday I’ll break out of that box, but for now I think they just look weird.) and then it’ll be done! When it is done, that thing is getting a major blocking, because the sleeves are puckering slightly. I still think that it’s within the realm of something that blocking can fix, so we’ll see!

And that’s my story! (it turned out to be much longer than I thought.) Until next time friends!

Too Many Milestones!

So yesterday was my one year anniversary at my current job. Which I totally love.

It was also my two-year blogiversary!!! I love this blog. It encourages me to be creative, and it helps me connect with other creative people. It’s also been a huge boon in my personal life, since I get to bore the muggles less with my constant knitting chatter. I put it here instead! It’s been awesome connecting with all of you, and I just wanted to thank you for listening to me. I love how blogs can be a conversation, and how they can connect you with people who share your funny little niche interests. Blogging has been uniformly awesome, and I hope to keep doing it for a long long time! Thanks for coming here to hang out for the last two years :)

-Lolly

Rhinebeck or no?

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I’m trying to decide whether or not I am going, so if you are, pipe up in the comments!

Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop, Baby Sweaters Forever.

I know I’ve already mentioned that my aunt just presented me with a new knitwear model. (read:baby) I knitted up that lovely angora set for him, but I couldn’t keep from thinking about how it would only fit for a few months. Babies grow like weeds, and that sweater wouldn’t even fit for the whole winter! Perish the though. Baby Colson needed something else.

The thing is, I knew that I wanted a pullover, and I knew that pullovers and babies mix better once their necks become less wobbly. Despite the fact that my aunt is a champion mom, I thought it would be better to give her a sweater for next winter. I ordered some yarn from KnitPicks, and started cruising Ravelry for possibilities. Now that I knew the gender of the baby, a classic red and cream fair isle sweater seemed like just the ticket. After searching for a while, I decided that Anders was just the one.

I think the results prove my perspicacity.

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I love this little sweater. It is beautiful, warm, and classic. The snowy woods motif is utterly charming, and it will be unbelievably cute on a one year old. I actually made the two year old size, in hopes that it would fit him all next winter. The yarn was Knit Picks Swish DK, 100g undyed, and 100g of Hollyberry, which means that this beauty is also machine washable. I messed with the pattern a bit because I may be a little bit of a perfectionist. I wanted the sleeves to end in cream for symmetry’s sake, so I extended the sleeve chart and finished off with cream instead of red. I like the way it looks better. (I can’t help modifying patterns, even if they’re perfectly nice already.) I finished off the wee sweater with some buttons I snagged at my new favorite yarn store, and I think that they look perfect. (I sewed and knotted them quite securely to avoid choking hazards.)

I am a little superstitious about knitting things for people. I know that there’s no scientific basis for it, but I believe that covering my family in tangible expressions of love protects them somehow. And who needs it more than tiny babies? They’re so fragile and little. But a handknit sweater is like a big warning sign to any trouble that might come their way, that this baby is loved and protected. Even though it may not actually do anything, it makes me feel better. There is a whole world out there that I can’t control, but at the very least..

I can knit, and I can keep my family warm.

One Hat, Three Ways!

Hi Friends!

I have a veritable parade of finished things to show you, but I’m going to drag it out because that’s how I roll. Besides, where’s the fun in showing it all at once?? Then I’d be out of blog material :P

Some of you may remember, if you spend much time on the blog, that I was working on a hat for my grandpa. When last you heard of it, I had spun the yarn out of some absolutely scrumptious merino/yak. I am now happy to tell you that it is all finished! Not only that, there are three different ways to wear it, with increasing levels of hipsterdom :P (I would like to take a moment and say that no matter how slouchy his hat might be, my grandpa couldn’t possibly be a hipster. I may, be, however, since not only am I wearing a slouchy hat in some of these pictures, I couldn’t corral a photographer so they are selfies.) For those of you who don’t know what a hipster is, they’re sortof hard to describe. I would say that hipsters are a group of people who try really hard to be cool while pretending that they don’t care about being cool, and they do a lot of things “ironically.” Also, they seem to be really into music, but less to actually enjoy it and more so they can brag about the obscure bands they like (thus making them seem cool.) I am making fun of them in this blog post. It’s very enjoyable.

Hat Style #1, the typical Watch Cap:

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This style says, “I don’t care about being cool, I just want to be warm.” The double layer of fabric covers the ears and much of the head, keeping the cold out. It’s super snuggly and warm! Perfect for when the wind is blowing and you still have to go outside. It’s also the cutest (on me) of all the styles I think. I will remember this for future reference.

Hat Style #2, Slightly Slouchy:

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With this style, there’s still a concession to extra warmth. The hat is still folded up slightly for ear protection, but it’s just a wee bit slouchy at the top. This style has aspirations to coolness, but there’s still an element of practicality. Of course, I’m a total dork, so even a slightly cool hat style isn’t going to do much for me :P

Hat Style #3, the Full Hipster:

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This style is absolutely hipsterrific. Totally slouchy, it knows how cool it is. This hat might look down on your taste in music and wear lots of flannel shirts. On me, it makes me look like one of the Seven Dwarfs from Snow White, but let’s try to ignore that fact.

All joking aside, I’m actually really proud of this hat. It’s warm, and soft, and totally too big for me, which is great, since my grandpa has a much bigger head than I do. I made it a little extra long because I didn’t want to waste the lovely handspun yarn that I used for it. It will be beautifully warm during colorado winters, and I don’t think that even the most sensitive skin could object to it. It makes a baby’s skin feel like sandpaper. Kittens are jealous of how soft it is. It’s also the first thing that I imagined and created practically from start to finish. I started out with an idea for fiber, and now I have a hat. It’s awesome! I love having that much artistic control over what I make. (It’s also nice when an idea actually comes to fruition the way you imagine.) Anyway, I hope that my grandpa likes the hat. My mom will be bringing it to him when she goes up to see my aunt’s new baby. Fingers crossed!

The story of how I found my Local Yarn Store.

Oh yes, knitty friends, I now have a local yarn store!

I’ve had bad luck with previous stores, with both of my two favorites closing on me in a matter of months. That was a while ago, and I haven’t had a local place to go look at stuff since. It’s probably been good for my pocketbook, but bad for creativity.

However, I should back up to how this all came about. I’m telling the story out of order and that’s bad. But first,

MOM STOP READING NOW OR ELSE.

Okay! I’m going to talk about Christmas, more specifically what I’m making for mom, and I don’t want to ruin her surprise. She actually likes my surprises so she won’t peek. (unlike SOME people.) Well, I’ve started planning Christmas presents, and I decided that mom is going to be this year’s big winner. She is very appreciative of handknits, and goes around telling anyone who will listen how clever I am and listing all the stuff I’ve made her and how it really makes holidays special to get something handmade. Of course this behavior ensures a steady stream of handknits forever, even though she lives in Texas. It’s actually quite funny, my mom is one of those people who can’t sit still. Even if she’s watching TV, she’ll fold laundry or do crunches or something. So when I’m curled up knitting, sometimes she looks at me like I’m some sort of exotic creature, because she doesn’t understand why someone would stay in one place for so long. However, we are more similar than you might think, because knitting is what I do so I can sit still. I hate sitting still and doing nothing! Knitting makes down time feel productive. It’s pretty much a win-win.

Anyway, back to my mom. I knew that I wanted her to have something really lovely for Christmas, and I was thinking a nice, light, drapey cardigan. I did some research, (read, I cruised Ravelry for HOURS) and I finally settled on the Wispy cardigan. It’s a lovely piece, and would look equally good over a top and jeans, or a pretty dress. Also, my mom is quite stylish, and it just has a sort of effortlessly chic vibe. I realized that for this pattern, I could use yarn from one of my favorite companies, MadelineTosh Yarns. Their laceweight single ply yarn Prairie had exactly the right yardage in ONE SKEIN to make this cardigan. How perfect is that? (after the holidays I will make myself five of them.) I started cruising around online looking at colors, and I was wracked with indecision. Yarn colors can look very different in person, and I wanted this to be perfect. I was also leaning towards blue (because I like blue and my mom has blue eyes) but none of them felt right. I decided that I needed to hold the yarn in my hand, and that would help me make a decision.

So I looked online, and I found a place that might have some, Stitch House in Dorchester. I decided to drop by for a look and DID THEY EVER. What a beautiful store. There was yarn, but also sewing stuff and buttons and so many kits and patterns and I loved it. The staff was pretty much perfect too. They asked me if I needed anything when I came in, but they were neither pushy nor aloof. I was told to “come in and fondle anything,” and then left alone until I needed something. (it’s hard for a yarn shop to strike the right balance for me. I can be a trifle touchy when contemplating buying something.) Eventually I did ask for their opinions, and they were perfectly nice! I picked out nine possible color choices, and the owner told me to “Bring them over to the table and don’t worry about the mess,” because the light was terrible in the corner where I was clutching skeins of lovely yarn to my chest. So I did.

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This was only a fraction of the colors they had. The staff told me how each one knit up, and I finally settled on one of them I thought would look smashing on mom. (I’ll show you which one later) I then pulled out the Fair Isle baby sweater I’m working on so I could choose buttons, and they helped me settle on a color there as well. When the owner asked me if she could touch the sweater and then flipped it inside out to check my floats (they passed muster, I’m happy to say) I felt right at home. (For the non-knitting, “Fair Isle” is when you use two colors, alternating stitches in each color based on the pattern. “Floats” refer to when you’re carrying the color you’re not using in the back of the work, and it’s bad for them to be either too tight or too loose because things look funky.) Last but not least, I mentioned that I was a spinner, and it turns out that one of the ladies who works there is also! When the owner told us to “go make out in a corner” in a mock-exasperated tone of voice, I started to giggle helplessly. This store has a cool, chill vibe, lovely stuff, and the prices aren’t totally jacked up like the store on Newbury street! (nicer staff too) They do knit night on Fridays with snacks and beer, and you better believe that I’ll be going.

But you guys really want to see what I bought, don’t you?

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Lovely, no? It’s the Wicked colorway, which from far away looks brown, but close up you see that it had purple and green undertones and is basically fabulous. It will look beautiful on my mom. The cream-colored buttons are for my current project, and the others were just irresistible. PINK HEDGEHOGS PEOPLE. I mean come on, how could I resist?

OKAY NOW NANA STOP READING.

Also, that thing you see in the background is an old-fashioned inkwell that my Nana randomly sent me because she knows how I adore such things. There’s a reason why she’s getting a shawl for Christmas.

Finished objects of one kind or another.

Well! Things have just gotten away from me lately! (or I have gotten away from things) I went home this weekend to visit my delightful family for my little brother’s birthday. He is only 14, so I get to tease him a lot. “I was on the Internet before you were BORN.” and suchlike. He’s extremely good natured about it, and treats the goofiness of his dorky sister with amusement. The inimitable Greg came with me to Dallas, and (unlike me) he is very cool, especially to a 14 year old. They spent the entire weekend flying drones and filming aerial views of stuff, editing their footage, and talking about stuff that no one else understood.

Flying was a bit of a theme for the weekend, as we were taking Luke to the Red Bull Air Races for his birthday. (I got some cool points for that) Where we were going and even the fact that Greg was coming (Luke loves him) were both a secret until the day before we arrived, when mom let the cat out of the bag :P The stunt planes were amazing, and the tricks they did were unreal. The craziest thing I saw all weekend though was Red Bull’s stunt HELICOPTER. It did barrel rolls and flew upside down! My little brother does remote control helicopter stuff, and his tiny helicopters can do those kinds of tricks, but he was mega pumped to see a full sized helicopter doing them. He is only improving with age, and was remarkably good company all weekend. He’s not a finished thing yet by any means, but you can easily see the awesome adult he’s going to be, even at 14. Happy birthday Luke!

I finished something while I was home for the weekend. (Aunt Chantal, if you are reading this, STOP. You need to be surprised or I will be VERY SAD. Mom is bringing you a present when she comes to visit, and she will KNOW if you are faking surprise.)

Now that that’s out of the way, I can show you. Look!
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It’s the best baby set ever. You may or may not be able to tell, but it’s soft merino with a touch of angora to make it fuzzy. The buttons are made of coconut shell. The pom poms are so cute it’s giving me uterus cramps. I’m imagining the little bonnet with its tiny point on a little baby head, with those perfect i-cord ties in a bow. I wanted to knit something heirloom quality in a newborn size, even though they grow out of it faster than a blink. My Aunt Chantal had given away all of her baby stuff after her last (their sixth!) and I wanted the baby of mystery (I called it that because she wanted the gender to be a surprise.) to have something special just for her/him. This weekend I found buttons for each possible gender so I was prepared for any eventuality. I told my aunt that I had a preference for a girl baby, but I had a feeling that she was making me a boy. C’est la vie. I don’t actually think that people make babies just to please me and give me a tiny person to knit for :P The patterns are the Garter Yoke Baby Cardi, Chaussons Mignons,  and My Sweetest Friend, all modified for sock weight yarn. (It wasn’t hard. You could do it too.) I used Knit Picks Bare Hare, which is a perfect merino/angora blend, and not terribly expensive for the quality. It took three skeins at $5 each, and so with buttons this whole set cost me less than $20. The thrifty knitter in me is tickled pink that I can get something of such excellent quality for so little. The major expenditure here was time, and it was extremely good fun. I had to learn how to do applied i-cord edging for the button bands on that precious little sweater, and even though it was a massive pain in the butt it was totally worth it. The button bands are perfect. See? 

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(It’s more obvious without the buttons.) You get a perfectly rounded edge that is both stretchy and sturdy, and learning new techniques like that makes me feel like this wee sweater could last a hundred years and wrap many generations of new babies. 

 

I have to say, it’s a good thing that I finished the sweater this weekend. In fact, my timing could not have been better! While I was celebrating Luke’s birthday, someone else was celebrating his very first birthday, and we are delighted to welcome Matthew Colson McGee into the family. Yay! 

 

(P.S. I do have to add that even though I love all babies equally, I still wish that I could have used the flower buttons that I bought in case of baby girl.) 

(P.P.S. I might have had a pretty serious “accident” in the button section of Joann’s. There were airplane buttons.)

(P.P.P.S. I know that Christmas knitting is looming, but this baby lives in Colorado. I might have fallen down and started another sweater.) 

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(P.P.P.P.S. I am weak.)

(P.P.P.P.P.S. I’m not sorry though.)

Knitting Stories.

Today, my lovely knitty friends, I have been contemplating why it is that my projects all take so dang LONG. 

Now, I’m not trying to toot my own horn here, but I knit reasonably fast, and I devote a reasonable amount of time to doing it. (My boyfriend might argue about the “reasonableness” of my knitting obsession, but we hearken not to the muggles on such a subject. They know not of our ways.) I was thinking and thinking, when I finally realized why it is. I am a knitter, but I am also a writer, and a perfectionist. Now, my mom (who has seen my house) just fell off of her chair, snorting with laughter, because I am a messy, messy person. This is true. I am OBVIOUSLY not a perfectionist when it comes to keeping things neat and tidy, but I definitely am when it comes to things I create. I want things to be exactly right, even if it takes three times as long. (Like how I now use a sewn bindoff on everything. It takes forever, but is impeccably beautiful.) 

Then let’s add to that that I am a writer. Everything I make and do has a story, and I don’t feel right about a project until the story has completely unfolded in my head. It may not be a story that I share with people, but it at least exists in my mind. Every knitted item has a backstory (Some incredibly silly) and it’s one way that I personally give depth and meaning to the craft of knitting. I can’t really finish an item or write up a piece about it until that inspiration strikes, and that is entirely separate from the “work” of the knitting. It needs to find a place in my creative world before I am ready to share it. Sometimes it is as simple as imagining a tiny, perfect baby wrapped in snowy white angora, just before the snow falls. Sometimes it’s considerably more detailed than that, and that brings me to my current project. 

Not too long ago, I got this:

(Superwash Blue-Faced Leicester from Iknitiatives on Etsy.)

 

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And when I finally held it in my hands, I realized that it was the ocean, trapped in fiber. Before long, I realized that it needed to be a beautiful sweater, something traditional and special, but most of all, something that would allow the nature of this fiber to shine. This would be the yoke of a sweater, shading from the soft, light blues of the surface of the ocean, through the fluttering greens of seaweed, down to the deep, murky depths. The rest of the sweater, perforce, needed to be something that wouldn’t detract from this vision. I settled on a light grey, to be a beautiful setting to this exquisite fiber. I also realized that to make this extra special, the yoke pattern could be mirrored on the cuffs. 

Once the vision was complete, I started spinning. I tore off a smallish strip lengthwise, and then split that in half evenly. I spun those two little rovings end to end, chain plied them, and finally I had these:

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Two little pieces of the ocean. I was entranced. I had to immediately start the larger chunk of roving for the yoke, and in record time I had three full bobbins! 

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Now, I was spinning for a 3-ply worsted weight, but it still went crazy fast. CRAZY. I plied it up in record time, and then finally I had what I wanted.

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It is absolutely perfect. I see the shifting shadows of the ocean reflected exactly in this yarn. I can’t wait to get it on my needles, because I’m hoping that I can design something that lives up to this. I have a lot of ideas, and a few sketches, and we’ll just have to see how it goes. There will probably be lots of ripping back and angry noises before it’s done, but I have faith that with enough perseverance, what currently exists only in my mind will be made manifest. 

And the yarn I got to go with it? 

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It actually matches a grey that exists in the handspun, and I think that it will serve as a lovely setting in which the jewel-like blues can shine. 

So there you have it. A little glimpse into my creative process. I think that what draws us to knitting (and blogging about it) is that it can be so personally expressive. It lets you take the images out of your head, and turn them into something tangible, something that will always evoke those daydreams for you. I’m imagining a girl on the Shetland Islands, wearing the sweater that I’m designing, looking out over the cliffs to the ocean, wind blowing through her hair as the sun tints everything gold. That’s only one imagining that goes into this. There’s also the idea of a mermaid, swimming deeper and deeper into the dark of the ocean. Inspiration comes from everywhere, and then when we turn it into something, it always exists as part of that thing, and that’s why I love knitting. (and designing, though I’m crap at it.) Personally it’s always been hard for me to share my thoughts with others, though I’m much better at it in a written medium than a spoken one. I don’t always know how to articulate things, but when I create something, instead of stumbling over the words I clumsily fail to say, I can just say “Look, this is a window into my mind. This is me, shown through what I have created.” And there’s something very special about that.

 

Anyway, I didn’t intend to get so contemplative, but I don’t think it’s necessarily bad. I think that we occasionally need to delve into what inspires us, and why. Where does your inspiration come from? 

Shawl Fever.

It’s all shawls all the time here at chez Lolly. I want to knit all the shawls. My love for them has finally reached a critical mass, and I keep going through my yarn stash (it’s smaller than you might think) and picking out yarns that I think would be perfect for shawls. I cruise Ravelry and look at all the lovely patterns (I’ve even downloaded a few and saved them in a folder on my computer.) I think that they are both practical and clever, particularly if your lifestyle is such that you spend time in a freezing office where the extra warmth is extremely pleasant. They can also be exceptionally chic, draped elegantly around your shoulders. Plus, they are fairly lightweight, and make good summer knitting.

All these reasons, though logical, are not the true reason that I am currently hankering after shawls. My first foray into the world of shawls was so wildly successful that I am delirious with the joy of creation. I’ve been wearing it as often as I can possibly manage in the hot and humid weather we’ve been having in Boston lately. So here it is, the story of how I fell in love with shawls.

It started with this:
photo 2 (4)

A braid of fiber from Violet Linx on Etsy. She does amazing things with luxury blends, and this was no exception, merino, cashmere, and silk. (The fiber blend, though amazingly luxurious, is part of why I haven’t been able to wear this much. This baby is seriously warm.) I decided on a single ply, and I ended up with about 270 yards of scrumptious goodness.
photo 1 (3)
After searching and searching for just the right pattern to set off the lovely yarn, I decided on the Holden Shawlette, despite the fact that I had nothing like enough yarn. So I made modifications.

-The original pattern has you increase four stitches every two rows, but I changed it to six stitches every two rows, increasing every row on each edge until I had 91 stitches.
-I did yarn over increases in the center of the shawl, but make 1 increases on the edges.
-I then switched to increasing four stitches every two rows like normal.
-However, I started worrying about having enough yarn, so once I got to 165 stitches I started increasing two stitches on the wrong side rows again.
-When I reached 189 stitches, I followed the pattern as written for the smallest size, and switched to yarn over increases at the edges (for a little tiny bit of extra ruffle)
-I added an additional plain knitted increase row and a wrong side purl row before starting the edging instructions.
-The pattern has you knit two rows in order to give a purl ridge before the edging. I knit four rows before the edging, and increased on the right side rows with make 1 increases.
-I then did the picot bind off as written.

These modifications will give you a decent sized shawlette out of only 270 yards, which is great for those of us who spin and frequently end up with awkward amounts of yarn :P

Once I was finished, I had this.
Blocking:
photo 3 (3)

photo 4 (2)

And beautifully finished:
photo 2 (3)

photo 3 (2)

photo 4 (1)

I love the gradient, it works perfectly with the pattern, and I think that this is the most beautiful thing I have ever knit. Creating a finished thing that started with a pile of fluff makes me feel quite clever, and it makes me excited for fall (so I can actually wear it.) I do, however, still wear it now, just only for a few brief minutes at a time :P

photo 1 (2)

photo 5 (1)

It makes me feel like the prettiest princess. I adore it with every fiber of my being, and I’m still kindof shocked that I knit that. Also, I’ve gotten some really good validation of my efforts because a couple of my friends have tried to steal it right off of my neck! (Fortunately I have excellent reflexes!) I did let my friend Liz wear it when she was cold in a restaurant, but I kept a VERY close eye on her. She tried to make with the grabby hands, but I took it back safely. 

I don’t think that I would ever have made this if I hadn’t started to blog. (For one thing, I would never have learned how to spin!)I have to say that blogging has been the best thing I ever did for my knitting skills. Reading about what other people are making helps me learn so many new things, and gain the courage to just try stuff! Sometimes, it works out even better than you could possibly have dreamed. 

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