Little Wave & Sandness

Two Gudrun Johnston patterns to share – I guess it’s safe to say I’m a fan.

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First up: I was so excited to share my version of the  Little Wave cardigan that I went right ahead and took some poorly lit nighttime photos of it after work last week, because daylight is somewhat scarce lately. I’ve been watching a lot of Dawson’s Creek while working on some sample knitting lately, so this is really in the spirit of “I don’t wanna wait,” etc., etc., etc. I love this sweater!

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Any time a new Wool People collection comes out, I fall all over myself deciding what to knit next. This time around I knew in an instant that it was Little Wave. I went ahead and knit it big and roomy (about 4-5 inches of positive ease). There are so many perfect details in this pattern – pockets, saddle shoulders, garter stitch faux elbow patches, to name just my very favorites.

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I could see knitting this again in a smaller size, for a more structured-looking garment, but I’m really pleased with the slouchy fit this time around. Seeing the project gallery on Ravelry,  I also have to say I love how the stitch pattern looks in lighter neutrals, so there is very likely another Little Wave in my future. Good thing I loved the process of knitting this!

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I’d stashed a sweater’s worth of Berroco Remix (the color is Bittersweet) probably close to a year ago; I think it might have been on sale at Webs? Looking at the fiber profile of this yarn, it doesn’t seem like my usual fare. It’s mostly nylon and cotton, with some acrylic, silk, and linen in the mix. But this is absolutely one of my favorite sweater yarns. The fibers are 100% recycled, and maybe that is what makes them so fluffy and soft. This is also a machine washable yarn, though I’ve never tested that myself. I actually like the process of hand washing my knits.

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I knit the Sandness shawl as a gift for a friend who has been stressed out applying for grad school, and who loves bright, warm colors, which of course, I rarely wear myself. Deep, deep in my stash I had some Brown Sheep Nature Spun fingering weight wool (the color is Sunburst Gold). Though I had one skein less than I thought I had, so this shawl has some sizing idiosyncrasies.  I knit the center triangle for the larger shawl size, but having only two skeins of yarn instead of three, had to knit one less repeat of the edging than I’d intended. As a result, the wingspan of the finished shawl is a bit more narrow than indicated in the pattern.

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That said, I still think this is lovely, and my friend was very excited when she received it. This was a pleasure to knit – I love the construction method of creating yarn-overs at the beginning of each row, which creates visual loops at the end that can be easily picked up for adding edging. It’s a construction technique I’ll certainly use for future improvised shawls – I can see it being especially useful in square shawls that require picking up hundreds of stitches. (Real talk: I hate picking up stitches, so simply slipping a needle through a nice neat yarn-over hole is just about the best trick since the contiguous sleeve method.)

Again, this is something I can see knitting again. I love traditional Shetland shawls, and I would love a version for myself that includes the full edging. And I do have three or four (confirmed) skeins of the same yarn in a dark burgundy, a color I do actually wear. Maybe it’s meant for this. We will see. I love the lofty gauge of this wool on size 6 needles.

I think recently knitting things nearly perfectly has been a major theme. I just wrapped up and sent off the sample work I was doing, and am looking forward to knitting something a few things for myself that have been really tempting me lately. With a little patience and a little more daylight, maybe I will feel a little less like I’m phoning it in on the documentation front.

Til then.

Stasis

Finally got around to taking a few photos of my Stasis pullover, which I think I finished back in November.

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This has become the equivalent of a pullover sweatshirt in my wardrobe. I generally prefer wearing skirts instead of pants, but when I do wear pants, this is the sweater I reach for every time.

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The Brooklyn Tweed Loft yarn is smooshy and warm but lightweight, and has worn in exceptionally well. This sweater has been bundled over shirts and under coats, and has been excessively cuddled by my cat (as some of these photos will suggest) and has been up to these challenges at every turn.

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Leila Raabe designed a perfect relaxed pullover here, using a really beautifully simple colorwork motif that works so well with this woolen spun yarn. I just can’t say enough good things about it.

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I, uncharacteristically, didn’t make any modifications to the pattern. Initially I thought I’d make it a little bit more fitted, but I love how slouchy and cozy this is. I’m really glad I didn’t take it in at all.

(This last photo is more a photo of Felane than of the sweater. I can’t help it, the girl just always looks so good.)

Me Doing Whatever I Want, All the Time

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Starting the new year in a quiet way. The weather has been cold even for New England, and I’ve been spending as much time as possible indoors knitting and reading. Above, my first pair of socks in far too long. Glad to have brought back the tradition of knitting myself a pair of new year socks. I love that even though it’s been years, and I thought I couldn’t remember my basic sock recipe, my hands went into autopilot and these plain vanilla socks (in a self-striping Regia yarn) practically fell right out of them. Perhaps this is the beginning of another sock streak.

It may or may not be worth noting that when knitting simple socks for myself, I like 60 stitches on size 1 needles, starting with a ribbed cuff, working down the leg to a slipped stitch heel flap, gusset, and kitchener stitch toe. Though when yarn quantity is a concern, I like a toe-up sock with accent toe and heel colors. For what it’s worth.

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So far this year I’ve read one book that made me cry (Anders Nilsen’s The End, from which the panel above was taken) and have been leisurely reading through one book that makes me blush (D.H. Lawrence’s The Rainbow).

As much as I normally love winter, I won’t complain when this cold snap ends. When the weather keeps me from wanting to make a trip to the library, you know it’s finally just a little too cold.

The Very End of 2013

A few photos from my trip to Sitka, Alaska, where I spent the last days of 2013 with my little brother. I haven’t uploaded photos from my real camera, but I suppose these phone photos give enough of an idea of how misty and gray and beautiful it is there.

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Having only a few hours of twilight-y light each day meant a few hours of hiking or exploring the island, and many more hours of relaxing with my brother in the evenings, making dinners, drinking coffee, and watching movies and knitting. Dark mornings meant reading in bed for a few hours until it got light enough outside that I felt like I should venture out. I can’t remember the last time I actually did only leisure activities for more than a day, much less five or six in a row. And now I am so excited to throw myself back into normal life. Right now that looks like reading, knitting, half marathon training, catching up with friends, and some new work challenges. I’ve got my new 2014 planner (the same moleskine one I’ve used every year since I can remember, because I am a creature of habit to an unhealthy extent, but with a red cover this year, because I am acting like a person who embraces change). Let’s see how it goes!

(I should also add that I have one final book recommendation from 2013: Howard Norman’s I Hate to Leave This Beautiful PlaceThe last book I read before the end of the year, and one I’ll undoubtedly pick up again. I am often disappointed by memoirs, but this is a true exception.)

Nola’s Slipper Pattern

Somehow winter is here, and I find myself without slippers. (I think I may have left my slippers at my old place when I moved, so this is not a permanent problem.) But it seemed like a good excuse to whip up some house socks, something I’ve meant to do for a long time anyway.

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Nola’s slipper pattern couldn’t be any faster or easier. Knit on size 9 needles with worsted weight yarn held double (or a really bulky yarn if you prefer), and constructed in one piece with only one seam to graft, these really are a perfect quick fix for cold feet. I used Patons Classic Wool, and I’m debating letting them felt a bit in the wash. My painted wooden floors, while aesthetically pleasing, are more or less a cat hair magnet, no matter how often I sweep. So washing these babies will be required, and I’d just as soon throw them in the machine. We’ll see how that goes.

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Something about the look of these reminds me of the 1970s style of my great-grandma Bea’s knitting. In a really sweet way. Maybe it’s the color of the yarn, or the chunky simplicity of the construction, or the garter stitch foot. I can’t exactly put a finger on it, but these do make me feel weirdly nostalgic. In any case, I look forward to a winter of breaking these pups in.

The Days Change at Night

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Because the majority of my recent knitting has been work- or gift-related, and has therefore been secret and unshareable (not a word), here are some photos from my recent escape to LA. As a girl who grew up in the Pacific northwest, then kind of the midwest, and now lives in New England, I was visually overstimulated the entire weekend. I knew LA was outside my usual aesthetic experience, but I didn’t realize exactly how far out. That’s not to say I didn’t like it.

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Why was I there? I was a human birthday present for my friend Jess, from her boyfriend, who I had never met before. If you’ve never been a human birthday present before, I recommend it; it’s a really nice feeling. And it makes you want to buy people lots of food. Go with that instinct.

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Besides food, the best things about visiting a new city are drinking all of the coffee and peeping in all of the local bookstores and libraries. Right? LA seems to favor juice over coffee (I get it, but also I don’t get it) ((maybe I just had funny luck walking into random places – I didn’t do any coffee research)). But the bookstores were amazing. I happened upon the 826LA Time Travel Mart, Stories (books and coffee in one – always ideal), Secret Headquarters, Skylight Books,  and pictured below, the Last Bookstore, which was sensory overload in the best way.

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I  didn’t look at yarn at all; having just cast on a sweater for myself in Loft, I’m feeling sufficiently spoiled in that area. But I did take in as much typical LA scenery as possible, and, as I often do on the west coast, I made a pigeon friend.

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la9Am I happy to be back in Providence, knitting in bed with my cat and listening to audiobooks? You bet I am, tootsies. I appreciate it a little bit more remembering that I have good friends in good cities and air mattresses and couches to sleep on whenever I can get away. (And coming soon: my own couch for the purpose of returning the favor as often as possible.)

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Attempted Progress

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After a busy week of work-related writing, I was pretty excited today to settle in with my Stonecutters cardigan. Felane had her own agenda. Who am I to complain? She’s the boss.

Daybreak

This is a project that digs into some deep stash – I think I bought these skeins of Zauberball in 2009? Not my oldest stash by any means, but still a little embarrassing. What’s kind of funny about this stash is that nearly 4 years ago, when I bought this yarn, I had every intention of knitting Stephen West’s Daybreak shawl (at the time a brand-new pattern, I believe) with it. Usually if I let yarn sit idle long enough (and let’s face it, I almost always do), it changes its mind about what it wants to be. This is an exception.

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Somehow after all this time, I still had my heart set on striping these skeins together to make one of my favorite things: a neutral rainbow. If you want a simple but really beautiful shawl pattern, Daybreak is one I’d recommend any day. Slipped stitches add some extra impact to the stripes, but the pattern is still easy enough for beginners. (I knit the large size, in case anyone wonders how the sizes look in action.)

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I’ll be honest, I blocked this pretty lazily, as I generally do with shawls, unless they’re lace. But in my experience, garter stitch and stockinette shawls all tend to assume whatever shape I wear them in, anyway. Daybreak hangs really nicely regardless, which I think is also partially due to its semi-circle shape; this is a shape I really like for a shawl, because it wraps around better than a traditional triangle, in my opinion.

db3Someday I’ll probably knit this shawl again, using either two solid colors or one solid and one striping. I don’t wear as many striped things as I once did, but I’ve really come back around to them in small doses. Especially when you can get this many neutrals into one piece.

Baby’s First Trip to Block Island

My work recently took me to beautiful Block Island, a place I’ve been meaning to visit ever since I moved to Rhode Island five years ago. But somehow it’s really easy to skip visiting nearby locations in favor of more faraway destinations. So I was grateful to get a push out the door and onto the ferry.

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It was a pretty incredible day to go – densely foggy and extremely dramatic.

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It’s not every day I get to peek up inside a lighthouse. Very Gatsby, right? I can’t believe it took me so long to make it out there. Will definitely be returning after the summer season dies down for some scenic biking and more historical tourism.

(Also, designer friends, this would be a great location for a knitwear shoot. Just saying.)

Embracing Imperfection

A lot of my recent knitting has been secret and not very blogable. But I did finish my Bridgewater shawl recently, after almost a full year of casually knitting on it.

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I love how spongey the Wollmeise Lace-Garn garter stitch feels, and even though I live in a consistent neutral palette, this bright red-orange color is really speaking to me on some weird level. I had actually considered making this a gift for my mother, who loves and looks very beautiful in bright colors, but then, somehow, I ran out of Wollmeise. 1740 yards to a skein and still, somehow this happened:

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I knit those last few inches of lace edging in burgundy Brown Sheep laceweight wool. We’ll call that an accent color. It doesn’t show when the shawl is folded up and worn, but I still wouldn’t want to give a gift with a funny patch of a different color. So maybe it’s time that I embrace the occasional colorful garment, imperfect as it may be.

Which is nice, because I still have three more of those hefty Lace-Garn skeins to work up, ideally into more smooshy garter stitch shawls, I think.