Monthly Archives: May 2015

What’s On The Needles?

…I hear you ask.  Lots of stuff, I reply. Plus two projects that just came off the needles, finally. Today’s post is a hodge podge of projects in various stages of completion. I’m working with a lot of yarn lines that I’ve never tried before, and I’m having a great time using these new-to-me yarns. There are lots of photos ahead. Join me, won’t you?

WORKS IN PROGRESS:

Cable-Brim Hat.

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I recently came across Malabrigo Rios worsted weight in my local shop, and I fell in love instantly. This is my first time using Rios, and it’s wonderful to work with.  it’s lovely to handle, soft to the touch, and beautiful to look at. This hat is in the color Teal Feathers.

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Each colorway is a subtle gradation of one shade, from light to dark and every shade in between. I’m doing a made-up pattern, just a cable brim and stockinette top.  I knit the cable band with a 4-stitch front and back cable.  I seamed it up, turned it on its side and picked up enough stitches to fit around my head. I will knit it a little longer than usual before decreasing near the top for a little bit of slouch.

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I wanted to give this hat a name, so I decided to call it the Seafarer Slouch, because the cable reminds me of nautical braids that sailors make with rope. I think the electric blue will pop against my red hair.

Now that spring is here, my winter hat is almost finished. I bought 2 more skeins of Teal Feathers so I can make a matching pair of gloves. I might put them on hold once the weather gets hotter. I think I can safely say that we’ll have no more snow in New England for several months.

Firefly Socks

This pattern is by Jennifer Hagan, and comes from Clara Parke’s The Knitter’s Book of Socks. I was happily zooming along on the first Firefly sock, when we had an unseasonably warm day last week.  As I knit with fingering weight yarn, the yarn was sticking to the wooden needles I was using. I put it down when I started to feel warm. I’ll pick it up again after a quick break to knit with a linen and silk blend, though, because this sock is incredibly fun to knit. I’m eager to wear the finished pair.

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I chose Knit Picks’ Palette yarn in Turmeric. I don’t gravitate towards yellow much, but I like the rich, warm mustard shade. Who else thinks this color could also be named Taco Shell?! In my opinion, these socks are best knit in a solid color, so the alternating cable pattern can stand out.

Tiers 

When it comes to understated yet elegant, Shibui’s beautifully organic designs are a pleasure to look at and to knit. I seem to gravitate towards their scarves and cowls rather than garments. During a trip to my local shop, I picked up some of Shibui’s newest yarn, Twig, which was recently introduced as part of the Spring 15 line.  The Spring 15 collection include Tiers, a drapey drop-stitch scarf. Shibui is hosting a spring KAL for Tiers until May 22nd. The pattern is free with purchase of the yarn during the KAL, no matter where you buy it.  I bought my yarn locally and received my free pattern. Time’s almost out on this KAL, but there is a Shibui Knit-Along Ravelry group where knitters can join in Shibui’s seasonal knit-alongs. Participants are entered in a drawing for a complete Shibui project; the more photos you post in the forum, the greater your chances of winning.

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Tiers can be knit in two different lengths and in two different yarns, Twig or Cima.  It takes two balls of Twig for the shorter length, which is over five feet long.  I purchased two balls of Twig in the graphite color. This photo doesn’t do it justice; in real life it’s a deeper blue/gray color. Twig is a cool linen/recycled silk/wool blend. It’s a little coarse and a little stiff, and it’s slippery as hell on my wooden needles. I switched to metal but the yarn was still slippery. I have to knit a little more carefully than usual, but this project is simple and fast, and it’s working up beautifully. The fabric is light and airy. I love the color I chose, but once i saw the projects in the Ravelry group, I regretted using grey yarn, just a little bit.  I’m tempted to make a second one in a brighter spring color. But I need to finish this one first!

FINISHED OBJECTS

Chevron Knit Throw

The pattern for this throw is available for free on Red Heart’s website. The instructions for Row 2 say to knit all stitches, but the throw is knit flat, so that should read purl instead of knit. I used Rowan Pure Wool 4-ply in four colors: Bottle (dark green), Oats (beige), Light Denim (light blue) and Soft Cream (off-white).

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I wanted the colors to represent the seashore: the water, the sand, the sky and the clouds. The Pure Wool was a joy to work with, and after I blocked the throw, the yarn became even softer. I used Soak knit wash for the first time, and it really made a difference. The Fig scent is lovely, and my blanket smelled delicious. Until the wet wool smell took over. Blocking flattened my cast-on edge, which rolled a little bit.

I started the Chevron in October, put it down for a few months, and picked it up again with just a few inches to knit–200 stitches at a time–in April. I enjoyed making this so much, I’m going to knit another one as a Christmas gift for my brother. I have certain colors in mind, so I’ll take my time searching for the right yarn.

and finally…

Ying Yang Gauntlets

This is a Plymouth Yarn pattern that uses 2 colors of their Merino DK weight yarn. The shop didn’t have any colors I wanted in stock, so I bought 2 balls of Cascade Venezia Sport. One ball of Deep Sea and one ball of White Heaven.

Ying Yang Gauntlets are supposed to coordinate rather than match. Color A for the main color and color B for the wrists on one gauntlet, with the colors reversed on the second. I wanted them to match, though. The yarn I bought came in 100-gram balls, so I had enough yarn to do both mitts in the same style.

Once again, a winter project dominated once the weather turned warmer. And once again, New England weather decided to screw with all of us. I got in some outdoor knitting on a warm spring day…

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…and wore them a week later on a blustery, fall-like day in late April.

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The weather made fingerless mitts–and a mocha chai–absolutely essential that day.

But it was a beautiful day nonetheless.

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S is for Socks, Sorrow, and Solace.

I make it a point to keep this blog focused on knitting, fiber arts and other fun and interesting subjects–nothing downbeat or depressing or personal. I’m going to deviate from my rule this one time, because sometimes life punches you in the throat, and all you can do is vent, and pray for a sympathetic ear.

I lost my my mother and my Aunt Joan one month and one day apart from each other. They both passed in the past couple of months, during Lent; my Mom passed on Good Friday. This Sunday is my first Mother’s Day without my mom, and the aunt i considered my second mom. My mother had been battling liver disease caused by cancer for a few years, so her passing, painful as it was, wasn’t unexpected. My aunt, however, was diagnosed suddenly with esophogeal cancer around Christmas. Four days after Valentine’s Day, my entire family drove her to the hospice she chose to enter. Three weeks after that, my Mom was in the ICU. We knew it was the end.

My mother was clearly deteriorating while we visited my aunt daily. She needed a wheelchair. My aunt, of course, knew my mother was ill, but Mom insisted on leaving the wheelchair outside my aunt’s room, just out of her view, so my aunt wouldn’t worry, or know how much sicker Mom was by then. My mom always worried about other people before herself.

In mid-February, I began to stockpile sock yarn as though it were canned food destined for a fallout shelter. A couple of times, driving home from the hospice, I stopped off at a local store and grabbed skeins of yarn. I felt guilty for going shopping, it seemed so tacky and shallow. But I needed my knitting to get me through what I knew was going to be a rough patch. It ended up being a lot rougher than I expected.

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I drowned my sorrow in sock yarn. I stashed Crazy Zauberball, well, like crazy. I wanted bright, bold colors. I bought sock yarn brands that I’ve never knit with before, choosing simply by colors I wanted to knit with.

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Sometimes my hands shook while casting on. I couldn’t sleep, so I stayed up in front of the TV so I could keep working on my socks. I don’t have to tell you how knitting centers and calms a person; after a while my hands would stop shaking and I produced endless rounds of lovely stockinette stitches.

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I stuck to plain knit socks. I wanted some mindless knitting to keep me occupied and calm.

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When I realized Crazy Zauberball is dyed to not match, I gave up trying to line up the second sock just like the first and let the mismatching stripes form.

Day to day life seems normal on the outside, but it’s not.  I get up and go to work, but sometimes I wake up shaking like a leaf. I pull my knitting out when I get home, clinging to it like a lifeline, which, truth be told, it is. Knitting is familiar, a huge part of my life, and comforting.  I’ve been knitting for years. I will continue to knit for the rest of my life.

My Aunt Joan taught me how to knit–twice. Once when I was nine, and again when I was 14. When I was eight, she gave my sister and I each a beautiful doll for Christmas. This doll had a ton of clothing made for her, and my aunt bought several outfits as part of the gift. She also handknit several tiny sweaters and skirts for these dolls, with little faux mother-of-pearl buttons. I didn’t know she could knit before then, and she never knit again after that. She and my mom both knit when they were in college in the 1950s. They both dropped it soon after they got their first jobs. I dropped it soon after each of my aunt’s attempts to teach me. But I picked it up for good in my thirties, with some pink yarn and a little book. When some of the diagrams of knit stitches confused me, muscle memory took over and I slipped the stitch off the needle like a pro, thanks to my aunt’s early lessons.

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Yesterday I cast on for the Firefly pattern in The Knitter’s Book of Socks.  I think the pattern looks best in solid colored yarn, so I bought some Knit Picks Palette in the color Turmeric. I don’t choose yellow very often, but I love the rich, autumnal color of this shade. These socks are working up very quickly. I love cabling.

Before this past February, I had never been in a hospice or an Intensive Care Unit before. Despite the fear, uncertainty and pain, there was one positive thing that I experienced first hand in these places: the selflessness and generosity of other knitters and crafters.

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It’s hard to see because of the light pink yarn, but there’s a cross in the middle of this square. This is a comfort square. The hospice chapel had a box of them for people to take if they needed comfort. There was also a design with a heart in the middle. All were knit by local knitters. The chaplains also provided my aunt and all the other patients with a beautiful hand-quilted prayer square, made by local parishioners and blessed by a priest. My brother has the quilt mounted on his bedroom wall.

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The chaplain at the hospital gave my mother a prayer blanket. The chaplain was a registered nurse, and she and other volunteers knit the blankets.

Prayers were said over these items as they were made; prayers for complete strangers whom the knitters and quilters would never meet. That kindness, as well as the handmade items themselves. do bring me some comfort. They’re a reminder of something sad and awful, but they’re also a reminder of the generosity of spirit and the best of intentions given by kind souls for those who are grieving. I am motivated now to make some blankets to donate. In time I’m sure I’ll be up to knitting something for someone else who’s grieving. But for now, I’m going to be a bit selfish. I need some more socks.

Thanks for listening. I hope I didn’t bring anyone down too much. I promise to resume the happy knitting chat with my next post. Peace to you all, and Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers, grandmothers, and aunts, whether they are on this Earth or not.