Tag Archives: shawl

Path of totality

I can’t stop repeating that in my head – it sounds like a threat, an end game, a complete takeover – but also a great summation and completion of fragmented parts – it is frightening and reassuring. And I know it’s just the term for the visible swath of an eclipse. But it’s a shitstorm out there and it has been for some time, and we keep breeding and uneducating shitcloud seeders, and there will always be a changeable swath of stupidity and a great joining together to make that path more narrow or wide.

I started this knit this time a year ago – we were on a vacation made stressful by either my still jobless status or anxiety over starting a new one, recently taking on a reactive dog, my foot-dragging acceptance of a body that now hurts more often than not, and the election that seemed far off and the candidate who got inaugurated seemed enough of a joke that even the most dense should get, but I still felt uneasy and dubious it would work out in the end. I grew up in a town with a population of more ignorant folks than not. Folks who hid behind religion and “tradition” and practiced tokenism to prove that they weren’t “bad” people, but folks who also tolerated klansmen as neighbors. None of my family lives in that town anymore and few live in the state – we did what we could when we were there, but the path of totality of intolerance was too scorched and wide.

I’m erroneously remembering that this pattern, Isabell Kramer’s Paris Toujours, was designed in response, or as a memorial to (one of) the Paris attacks. But it looks like it was commemorating a happy weekend (maybe there was a knit-along with this after the attack instead?) Either way, I knit it because it was easy and side to side – just the way I like to make and wear scarf/shawls – I’d clearly confused the designer’s intent and blurred yet another violent act of many so I can’t say I knit this as a statement against ignorance. But this kind of knitting feels like my own little path of totality to keep my fingers calmly and constructively moving through another year of shit, coming out at the other end with something soft and warm – and I won’t say safe, since there are no “safe places,” and let’s face it, a scarf could be quite deadly as a garrote, or a gag, or bindings in the middle of nowhere without access to food and drink (though it would make it at least a cozy slow death).

I was a little surprised that I finished it by my secret deadline, and by the end of the summer. I’d started it in the mountains and planned to work on it in another set of mountains later this year, but I’ll likely be wearing it there instead – it’s already my new favorite even in the muggy dog days.

The yarn was from a thrifted JCrew cardigan, slightly felted, in a wool, cashmere, viscose, and rabbit (I’m assuming angora) blend – and it is mad soft and not at all sneezy, with great drape and enough definition.

I would have liked it to be a bit larger – I was hoping that the last band of garter would be twice as wide as the one before it, and I lost yarn chicken twice at the end and had to unknit a couple of times, but it is large enough.

A couple of heads up about the pattern that are obvious for those in the know, but need to be stated for those who aren’t (me), especially if you deviate from the stripe sequence like I did. The stitch counts will be off unless each section is done in even numbers of the pattern repeat, so after the set up, if you want to keep doing lace, then start with row 3 of the lace pattern. I was often off with this, randomly ending up with 2 (as per pattern) or 3 stitches at the end. It didn’t really matter to me since fudge is good to do and to eat, but I kinda preferred ending in 3 stitches – if I did it again, I’d keep up with the 3 (or more) stitches at the end of the lace since a tiny bit more of garter makes the edge a little more stable. And then I can’t really describe this but the first row of garter after the lace makes a row of stockinette, so the lace sections aren’t symmetrical – again, it didn’t bother me enough to figure out how to fix it (a row of purl somehow?) but I think it could make some itchy.

This (or rather another loose variation thereof) will likely be on my needles again. And I’ve got my eye out for another one of these sweaters – wondering if it came in other colors – not that I don’t love this olive though, it’s among of my favorites. And this finishing up older projects thing has been working for me these days although everything that is left is vastly more complicated – but my path of unfinished totality is pleasantly closing in…

 

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Filed under knitting, recycling, thrifting, unemployment

Flaming balls of molten lava, ketchup, mustard, blood, candy corn, nasturtiums, atomic fire filled traffic cone roadkill smeared on asphalt in Mordor at sunset superhero sontag

I can’t say I’ve fallen in love with my latest (or any) handknit until it has proven itself wearable with a normal wrapping and unwrapping, pulling tighter or looser, not dipping itself into toilet waters, not catching in turnstiles, and fitting in or out of a coat test drive, but the current heatwave is preventing anything beyond kicking the tires.

I’m still ambivalent and slightly indifferent about it for several reasons, but it was a wild success in others, but first, a recap –

I bought the roving last September – I was (am I still?) on a kick to buy colors outside of my comfort zone – and by that I mostly mean colors that I don’t typically wear because they make me look like shit, but I don’t care how I look to a degree, so I can like and wear whatever color I want to dammit, but I do happen to prefer earthier tones in general…

The nasturtium decided to wait for cooler days… #organicgardening #flowers #nasturtium #autumn

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And it also reminded me of nasturtiums which I love (and I ran out of room to plant this year…).

I got two braids (8oz total) from Fuzzy Frog Fibers because they are very affordable, she does fun and interesting colors, and I like the Dorset wool – springy and strong soft and 4oz doesn’t cut it for me for anything other than a hat, and yes, I can combine them with other things but I’ve already got several combo spins waiting in the wings (including another braid of the same only in my comfort colors from the year before).

I started spinning it a month or so later – I waffled a minute about how to, but I’ve been struggling with making a not-too-overspun single and figured I needed more practice. The Dorset is very forgiving on that front too – didn’t break in the skinny sections and not too sticky to pull out a bit more at the last minute on a big clump.

I also waffled a minute on leaving it as is and spinning each braid separately to have double the stripes/color changes, or combining both for one big gradient – not necessary a skill to practice, but something I hadn’t done before – so I went with that. And the spinning was done by the end of the year.

I sat on it for a bit, thinking about what to make of it – it was going to be a neck thing or a body thing or a poncho-y thing… I felt it needed to be an empowering sort of thing to power through the terrible election and dark days, and almost made this sweater with the molten yarn on the back flappy cape thing, but my gauge was off, the thick and thin yarn isn’t hard enough wearing for clothes, and I haven’t finished something that needs to fit in years, and I wanted to finish it by year’s end.

So easy garter was the answer – and a top-down triangle shawl – a shape which I’m also ambivalent about but thought it was because I hadn’t made one big enough yet. And I cast-on for basically this shawl (I used size 7 needles and about 1.000 yards instead) just before a week’s vacation when rain was predicted – and my gauge was okay and the stitches felt good.

I fell for the few yards of pinky muddled grey and made note to try to recreate this with another spin and/or I’m pretty sure I unraveled a sweater with similar colors.

It's getting warmer… or bleeding? #handspun #knitting #shawl #red #fuzzyfrogfibers #sontag

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I knit more in that week than I likely had since the start of the year, or maybe before – no gardening, home improvement, office work, or major cleaning meant my wrist wasn’t in pain and could go for an hour or more knitting sessions.

And then I finished up at home – at a slower pace – and it was a good beach knitting project too – the wool wasn’t too sticky for sweaty seawater sunblock hands.

After washing and light blocking it still smells a bit of the beach (except the rotting sea-things) and didn’t change – I rarely wash garter things right off the needles, but this is headed for plastic summer storage so I wanted it to be as clean as possible.

So in the end I was able to tick a few boxes off: I acquired, spun, knit, and completed something within a year – something I want to become habit – less so on the acquisition end, but I’m almost always able to go to the state fiber fest and want to support the local and local-ish folks, even if it’s only $30 worth of fiber spread out over 3 booths; I finally made a decent (still needs work, but I didn’t have to run it through an unspin cycle at least) single; I figured out my current knitting speed is very roughly only around 700 yards a month; and I made a top-down triangle about twice as large as my last one.

And the jury is still out on the triangle until I can wear it a bit – I’m leaning towards it’s just not my thing (side to side triangles totally are) – but I’m always futzing with the less stretchy edge – tuck in under? fold it out? let it gape? and want more tail and less triangle – maybe this needed to be even bigger, or maybe I should have increased the tails more and the triangle less – I also could have eeked out 2 more rows of yarn, but didn’t want the stress, but there’s probably enough for a picot or other edging, but I don’t really like edging, unless it’s i-cord…?

I can wear it crossed in the front and tied in the back but I feel like I’m smuggling my own boobs, so I’ll most likely do the kerchief thing, or a half drape thing pinned somehow, or the traditional shawl across the shoulders thing…

Or the roll it up and pretend it’s a scarf thing.

We’ll see a few chillier months from now, and maybe N might be game to wear it instead?

But I am definitely in love with the mostly black top portion, and would like to spin and knit a mostly black thing soon, and locate the dirty pinky-grey yarn I think I have… But I have to finish or frog other things first.

 

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Latest Lacy Baktus

Spring came on early- warm and dry.

I wasn’t ready – a few nights were outside of my comfort zone – and working outside for more than quarter hour required rehydration at the ready.

But then it went back to its proper cold and damp state and required woolens.

I realized if I hurried along my latest baktus, I’d actually be able to wear it immediately instead of packing it away for the autumn.

latest baktus with sweater

And so I did and have been – it still needs to be blocked, but the weather might turn warm again before it dries…

In the meantime, I’m cozy with it-

or all three…

latest baktus triple

They’re becoming invasive in my woolen collection…

And in outdoor news, the march of the invasives in our yard continues…

latest purple yard

This front yard patch of bugleweed is doubled from last year, soldiering through the lesser celandine.

I gave up fighting the ground invasives unless I hear about something magical and effective, but natural and easy – and perhaps the bugleweed will take over my ultimate nemesis the Japanese stiltgrass – I do like the intense blue too, and I don’t think it’s technically invasive, just non-native and aggressive, so I wouldn’t mind if it took over that part of the yard completely…

latest lilac

And the lilac is doing so much better after its year free of Chinese wisteria. I’ve left a tiny patch of that stuff to attempt to train, but perhaps that isn’t responsible – it would just take one untended season and the stuff would take over the hillside again.

Pray for me as I go in for the first of several annual poison ivy tear-outs soon too – too bad that is the only native stuff.

And now I should return to the knitting I’ve ignored for the baktus – none of that will be ready to wear in these last cool days…

(perhaps not even by the time the cool weather returns in a few months…)

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Second things sometime need a little attention too…

…a sequel to In praise of first things.

Years and years ago, after I made a few more garter stitch scarves for friends and family, and falling just as hard for knitting with wool as I did for alpaca, not to mention all of the other fibrous beasts, came what seemed at the time, a very massive project.

firsthingsshawlfront

Yet I did not stray from my comfortable garter stitch.  I may have started this as a poncho, or at least a shawl, but I don’t remember now, except that I didn’t have a pattern and I was afraid of them then.  But ponchos were popular then, and then weren’t, and maybe they came back, I don’t know?  Originally it was just going to be solid charcoal, though I ran out of yarn before it was a good length to wrap.  Then something happened at the Brown Sheep/Lamb’s Pride mill?  A fire?  I can’t remember that either, but for a year, or years, worsted weight yarn in deep charcoal wasn’t available.  When a new LYS opened in my old neighborhood, I bought four skeins (including a deep charcoal) in bulky weight.  I got the only four colors available that weren’t some ghastly shade of pink or pastel blue (but I kind of liked the pastel sage).  I didn’t really think about (or know?) the difference in yarn weights either, but ploughed through to the end, or enough of an end when I ran out of yarn again.

firstthingsshawlbackIt too has a beautiful drape.

The bulky striped end is thick and especially warm.  We use this most as a throw blanket lengthwise, with the bulky end wrapping shroud-like whichever is the colder end of the body.

I’m tempted to frog this once in awhile to get to the sweater’s worth of yarn, but it is the best way to stay warm when supine and corpse-like in the dead of winter.

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Yell-eew

I’ve never had an all-time favorite color.  I went through a shameful lavender and pink phase as a young tween which sharply questioned my tomboyhood.  Then I chose all colors at once, or no color at all, in my punk/grunge/post-hippie  “alternative” years.  These days if asked my preferred color, I usually say greens, or browns, or oranges, or greys since I like nearly all of the varieties of these colors, whereas I’ve established that I’m finicky over others.

yellowish honey

But all along, I’ve generally preferred the secondary colors over the primary – maybe it’s the underdog name or their need to be blended to exist.

I’ve been reading Alexander Theroux’s The Primary Colors over the last decade or more.  I can only read a few lines, or maybe half of a page, in one sitting.  I’ve also misplaced the book in a few moves (including now – I’ve no idea of its whereabouts) and go a few months or years without opening it.  I’m occasionally irritated that the book tries to sneak in secondary colors at times, but I also feel relief to see my old friends green and orange when it happens.  Unfortunately, I also just read that there’s some controversy with the book due to some bits of plagiarism, yet with the fact-listing style of writing, I can almost accept the author’s excuse of sloppy note-taking, but bad editor, bad publisher!  Theroux next wrote a book on the secondary colors, but I don’t have it yet, nor am I sure I want to commit to another decade-long read.

But after reading about yellow, I found myself considering the color more often, and a specific nasty bilious yellow has been tugging on my sleeve lately.

My main thoughts on the color are quite negative – it reminds me of pus, snot, stomach bile, infection, illness, sulfur, poisoned water, smoggy air, insanity, Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper, tarnished things, slimy things, pissy snow, stench.

yell-eww slug

But it also makes me think of wheat fields, green-golden light during magic hour in the late afternoon, summer turning to autumn, gilded things, tarnished things, slimy things, mosses, eyes, and old flannel shirts.

yell-eww portland

So with my mind in a mildly insane yellowish haze, I whipped up a Honey Cowl out of Dream in Color Classy Strange Harvest (my dye lot is more green) and Cascade 220 Birch Heather (my dye lot is more gold).

Yell-eww long

This was one of those projects I felt like I had already made, and more than once actually looked for it to wear – especially with my plaid jacket.

yell-eew covered face - cropped

But now I actually have it.

I liked the pattern and might make another eventually.  However, for the first time ever, I twisted the round when I joined and accidentally turned it into a mobius (maybe it’s not technically, but I don’t know).  I left it that way because I don’t have a twisted cowl yet and thought I’d like to play with the different draping possibilities.  But it’s a little disconcerting that I’m making a lot of rookie mistakes lately that I never made in the beginning…

But back to yellow.  I had this awesome mustardy-saffron merino sweater for a year or two (you can see just a peak on the left).

yellasweater

Before I shrank the hell out of it.  And how could I possibly make the mistake of shrinking a sweater?  I really don’t know how it happened.  And I also don’t know where it is now, but I know I saved it to turn it into something else.  The scarf is a Drop Stitch Scarf – I really love it, though I don’t wear it as often these days, but it has a bit of gold in it too.

My favorite yellow project was the shawlette from last winter.  I wear it often, and still think about making it bigger.

Pears bandana

And people are calling grey and yellow “grellow” these days.  I hate color fads, but I like grey and yellow.  This is an opportunity to fess up to another UFO – a sweater I cut up, re-sewed and I’m knitting the cuffs and trim in grey.  Or rather I started to, didn’t like the gauge, re-started and still didn’t like the gauge, and then put it aside for the last year or so.

cardi3 - Copy

Maybe grellow is also green and yellow.  This has been a favorite color combination of mine for vintage-inspired kitchens like this one:

kit-yel-vintagedeco1-435

(Pic from here).

And influenced my purchase in New Mexico last Spring:

New Mexico yarn

And some spinning from a year ago that I need to finish.

(Also one of my favorite color combos in Fiestaware).

yella&greenyarn

And an early natural dying attempt with saffron, turmeric, coffee, and god knows what else on bulky yarn frogged from a hand-knit thrift store scarf.

z dye

I’m still not sure if I can wear yellow though, sometimes I think I can pull it off due to my own semi-sallow complexion, sometimes it gives me a surprise ill-like pallor.

I remember my beloved high school teacher discussing The Yellow Wallpaper and vehemently denouncing the color as sickly and maddening; at the time she was wearing a beautiful buttery colored pair of paints and coordinating sweater.  When someone pointed this out, she was mildly shocked to discover it was true that even she liked some of the yellow family members.

Such is the sneaky dual nature of yellow – I’ll continue to let it tease me a bit.

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Love affair…

…with the Lacy Baktus pattern.

A few years ago I came across this pattern by Terhi Montonen who made it as a variation of Baktus Scarf by Strikkelise on Ravelry.  For a while (longer than I’d like to admit) I thought this pattern was called batkus and in my often 12-year-old-boy brain, I thought of it as buttkiss, so buttkiss it will always be to me.  I knit my own hybrids of a basic watch cap, plain socks, and one particular Stephen West hat pattern over and over again for gifts and hard-wearing work-a-day items, but the Lacy Baktus is the only pattern I really feel like I could knit ad infinitum as is without modification beyond size.

I made the first one a few years ago with two skeins of the tongue-twisting Koigu Painter’s Palette Premium Merino yarn (or KPPPM) that I picked up from School Products on a scorching hot summer day in NYC.

baktus1-in progress

I didn’t quite capture the colors correctly in the in-progress pic, but the second image is accurate.  That one also shows our former awesomely textured and colored garage wall… sigh.  But I really liked the finished scarf/shawlette hybrid.  I loved that it stretched lengthwise but it was a long tapered triangle. The only minor fault I have with this one is that it is at times slightly too short – we’re talking only an inch or two – when I tie for more warmth or protection against grabby wind the ends poke out rather than drape downwards, but no big deal.

baktus1-detail

Maybe it was the same year, or the next, but I was caught without a gift for my mother’s birthday.  I’d already picked out this Plymouth Happy Feet sock yarn for myself and had it patiently waiting in my stash, but I knew my mom liked orange and at the time had a pair of eyeglasses with purple and orange streaks in them, so it was a good match.  N and I were in a long-distance purgatory at the time too so I had a lot of time to knit in airports and trains.  I found this to be perhaps the most perfect travel project since it required no complex thought and was extremely gratifying to watch grow and then shrink, and could be interrupted and shoved back in my bag with little worry.  I even used some ghastly but surprisingly comfortable TSA-friendly plastic needles whose origins are completely unknown to me – I think they came from a box of miscellaneous sewing supplies from a garage sale.

baktus2-in progress

The Happy Feet had a bit more yardage, so the finished scarf was the perfect length even before blocking.  Mom wouldn’t model it for me, but Dad is a good sport.  I’m tempted to re-buy this yarn to do a re-run for myself, but I have plenty of other pretty things languishing in my stash, not to mention I think this color is discontinued.

baktus2-done

But I had to have another, and I thought an even bigger one would be that much better.  I actually bought the yarn specifically for this – usually I see something on sale and buy as much of it as I can reasonably justify and figure out what to make with it later, but I actually went seeking for something with a little bling.  Yes, I said bling – highly uncharacteristic of me, but I wanted a scarf that could look a little more downtown and a little less rustic farmyard.  So I bought sock yarn called “Disco Color” (audible cringe) by Schoeller Stahl’s Fortissima line, but it was perfect because the little strand of silver metallic polyester* is surrounded by hard-wearing wool and along with the grey there is a nice greenish teal that fails to show up in the pictures.  It is the same color as bits of wood I’ve been finding in the forest, though I don’t know if it is a particular tree species, fungal or floral organism on or in the wood, or tinted by green deer pee.**

ADK 2012-detail

So I worked on this most of last Spring and early Summer when I was not coping very well with the slashing and burning of my job and subsequent relocation and it was rather soothing activity.  A large section of it was done when while we were resting from hikes in the Adirondacks.

ADK 2012

Then it was done before I was ready to finish it and I had to wait for the weather to cool down into autumn to wear it.  But wear it I did, and continue to do.  It’s also been traveling quite a bit.

baktus3-restaurant

baktus3-cafe

baktus3-cemeteryAnd it does well to dress-up a t-shirt (even after it has spent a day on the trail), and I do in fact own several very similar grey wool t-shirts.  I like grey and I like wool, nothing wrong with that, right?  And at times it has also functioned properly and well as an honest-to-god good wooly warmth machine and left the cafes and city streets to go hiking with me.

The sunset just barely catches some of the bling…

baktus3-hiking

And you know what?  I decided I wanted another, and then maybe another after that.  And I thought that since I love the pattern so much, I will make one with a yarn I don’t really love at the moment to see if my opinion of it will change.  If it doesn’t, I will have another gift to give, if it does, I will have a new scarf in warmer colors.  This one will be a little larger than the second (orange) one but not as gloriously large as the grey.

Remember the much maligned Redwood Roving Mix?

Baktus-new

Yep, onward!  And a last-minute long weekend trip back to the Adirondacks last month was the perfect time to start it.

ADK 2013

I will take my time with it though since I have other things waiting to be completed.  I’m thinking this might also be a good project for the beach…***

Baktus on rock

I can’t say I’m falling in love with this one yet – my uneven (intentionally) handspun makes it look a bit more wonky than I’d like, but it feels good to be making it…

*Yes, these two words, especially in combination, typically make me run for the hills…  and I believe this yarn might be discontinued as well, but it can still be purchased from various shops and online purveyors.

**Happens when the deer eats something in late winter – you can look up a pic of it yourself.

***I detest swimwear and all things beach bum, but the sea is somewhat sorta close by and we currently have no yard so I can pretend it is our outdoor living space at the moment.

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Pears, not bananas

I finished* my Lazy Daisy Shawlette** (previously mentioned here) from my handspun merino superwash roving from Pigeonroof Studios.

Pears bandana

The color of the roving is called Bosc, but it often looked like a ripe Bartlett, and some days it most closely resembles an over-ripe banana, but I choose not to think of it that way.  I like my bananas still a bit green; over-ripe turns my stomach a bit – especially their odor.

Pears with pears

See that little drip of pinkish red left of center?  It screamed out at me when I was spinning, but I love it – it’s the drip that brings it back into pear territory

Pears with pear

I finished this in record time because I was completely monogamous with the project.  Usually I get a little tired with something or my hands and wrists begin to ache, but not this time.  I’m discovering that color changes are more of a motivation for me rather than watching texture change or seeing rapid growth.

Pears drape

Record time also means I f*cked it up, and don’t want to acknowledge it yet.  I ran out of yarn three inches short of completing the bind-off.  A “good”*** knitter would rip it out and re-do, but screw that.  I used a little bit of recycled sweater yarn – it matches in color in certain places, but not texture or sheen.

Pears with tip

See?  Well, I probably won’t be able to tolerate it at some point, and I’m also afraid the edges will soon roll – again a “good” knitter would rip and tink back and do a few more garter rows to prevent rolling, but I don’t want to – I had intended to do more, I’m just shit at judging remaining yarn amounts.  I think I’ll probably attempt to spin something complementary and add a few more rows later, but for now I’m done.

*If you got to the end of this, you know it might not actually be finished yet.

**The pattern, by Orange Flower (aka Sketchbook) on ravelry is described as a recipe, and it is a good/easy one.  The original version has the maker doing a crocheted edge, but I am crochet-challenged, so I omitted that and only stuck to the increasing on every row aspect of it – great for showing off handspun.

***Don’t tell me there’s a “proper” way to do anything…see my work-in-progess manifesto in about.

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