Tag Archives: shawlette

New year, new projects

I don’t love this time of year with its certain few months of icy doom yet to come, but it’s my favorite change that happens in a year when the afternoon sunsets get pushed back little by little into their proper, later position.

finished-early dusks

I used to take off a week this time of the year, not to celebrate a holiday, but to work on and complete a major project – fixing/painting something around the apartment, or a quilt, or a major reorganization, cleaning, and purging – a defucking so to speak. It was a time to stay at home, away from shoppers and germy gatherings, garish decorations and terrible music, and enjoy some solitude, naps, Chinese food delivery, and the satisfaction of something large or looming being accomplished. But I haven’t done this for several years for various reasons, though I still have the twitch to accomplish something (even though the last several years have been nothing but fixing up houses…)

The tiling job earlier this month gave me a good dose of a similar satisfaction, and the rest will just have to come in the form of smaller-scaled projects finished and started in these weeks.

A couple of weeks ago, I finished up the gift hat I started on vacation:

finished-selbu for k

And that pair of socks I started last June despite some issues with the yarn:

finished-fancy feets

I cast-off them off a few rows prematurely (and I’m still on the fence about overdying them in yellow) so I could immediately start on a new pair based on my doubling experiments:

newyear - new sock

(And I’ve already lined up the yarn for the next after these).

And I’m just about to start a pair with a single strand on smaller needles.

And then I couldn’t wait to start yet another Lacy Baktus:

newyear - lacy baktus

This was also one of the very few yarn purchases I made in 2015 – I pretty much stopped buying yarn except for an immediate project need – and it was from a big Pigeonroof Studios seconds sale – high twist sock in an unnamed color, 2 skeins so I can make something extra large and squishy.

I’m also going to continue to not really buy yarn this year, or basically for the foreseeable future – I have a big enough stash, and I’m slowing down.

I’ve started to re-assess some old projects and will probably frog a few and get monogamish with some others and set those smaller socks aside for waiting room/travel knitting only so those probably won’t make their way on my feet until the light begins to come back next year…

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Hitching dragons

I finished up my second Hitchhiker scarf out of my handspun “Dragon Days” mixed BFL from Pigeonroof Studios.

PRS-dragons-beach1

You might think it’s just like my other one.

Mimsyhiker & acquedotto

And they are close, but the new one is more green, more intensely hued, and I spun it a little too thin, so the gauge is half the size of the other – or is it twice the size?

PRS-Draghitch1

I made it for a gift, but I was reeeaaaaally tempted to swap it out for my old one.

PRS-dragons-beach2

The colors are iridescent and change depending on the light, though sunlight is my favorite because it is at its greenest best then.

PRS-Draghitch5

I love the striping from the spun singles.

PRS-Draghitch4

And the size is good too – bigger than my other one.

PRS-dragons-beach3

I’ve got a few more gift knits to complete in the next month or two, so I’m going to continue to be busy with unselfish knitting for a bit (I’m not counting the selfish spinning) but there just might be a startitis explosion soon after though…

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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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[Jet] lagging…

I made it to 5:12 a.m. this morning and feel triumphant!  Then I realized it was daylight savings,* so the jet lag beast has been tossed a scrap and is still pacing a bit around the room.  No more middle of the night pancake dinners/breakfasts though, but the last one was quite tasty with the last of our White Mountain edible souvenirs.

pancakes

My brain is still buzzy and unfocused and my body mildly flu-like.  I came home with mountain legs as firm as two well-aged prosciutti, but now they’re returning to their younger non-dead jiggly piglet state.  My body and mind are out of synch with my reality and just want to put one foot in front of the other until a pleasing distance and vista and lunch spot have been reached.

murder on the mountain **

I know it is incredibly pretentious, but I feel more culture shock returning to the U. S. rather than being outside of it (at least in the European bits).  Americans weigh too much, they are sick, they are loud, they drive enormous machines, they wheel enormous luggage, they can be demanding of bedraggled clerks and service workers, their children are wild, and worst of all, they build and live in suburbs – vast expanses of land without sidewalks or farms – utterly purposeless and ugly.

But this is where I was born and legally reside and thanks to N we can leave it once in awhile.

But I’m also just another American wishing she could eat, pray, love (mostly the eating part) under the Tuscan (I’d prefer Abruzzo) sun.  But there are a few things in Italy (and probably Europe in general) that are downright magical that even more increase my desire to stay.

  Dairy.  I have dairy issues in the states – I don’t know if it is lactose or casein or something else, but even when I get the organic grass-fed hoity-toity localish stuff here, I can have problems.  I can tolerate milk, ice cream, cream, etc., about 15% of the time here, so I usually just forgo anything not aged or fermented – cheese and yogurt are ok-ish.  In Italy, I have about a 99% tolerance rate – the only bad dairy experience I’ve had there was from a mediocre cream-based pasta sauce at an even more mediocre tourist trap restaurant in Rome a few years ago.  So I load up on the stuff while I’m there – cappuccino, gelato, cream sauces, oh yeah!  And of course cheese – I especially love the sheep and goat stuff – pecorino dolce, ricotta di capra, caciocavallo etc., etc., etc….

 Allergies.  I barely have them there, and leave behind my constant ropey mucous companion dangling down my throat here.  That probably has a straightforward reason about the different climate and fewer useless expanses of lawns and less proliferation of non-native species with their companion herbicides and pesticides and chemical fertilizers.

So now that I’ve established that my brain is broken, my body atrophying, my nose dripping, and I’m suffering from a vague yogurt induced gut cramp, I must mention fiber – specifically my travel knitting.

I started the first pair of socks since my sock knitting debacle months ago.  Again, my sock mojo is off – I used a bit bigger yarn on my preferred shorty wood needles with my 64 stitch vanilla pattern, thinking it would firm things up and be ok, but they’re big – baggy ankle big.  But I don’t give a damn and still have to finish the leg parts, so I can firm up the upper ribbed section.  I’m constructing them in a strange fashion, but it makes sense in my head and should allow me to use up all the yarn.  I’ve dubbed them my “Nostalgia Socks” as the color reminds me of old quilts, 1970s sweaters, and now my trip.

sock in progress

The colors in this pic are wrong, but accurately portray the weak blue light that just barely stretched down to our nearly subterranean Italian apartment.

nostalgia socksThis is how the color should look – and if you look closely you can see one of the two knots I’ve found so far.

And remember my giddiness over Pigeonroof Studios Mimsy BFL roving?  And even more over the Hitchhiker pattern? I can call it a finished project now since I shoved it in my bag at the last minute.  It was one of those that ended sooner than I was ready to finish, and previously I only let myself knit a few rows here and there as a reward for meeting some goals on my portfolio pieces.  Ok, I may have over-rewarded myself, but this is my favorite handspun yarn to date – the softness and drape are wonderful (if I do say so myself) but most of that is due to the inherent qualities of the fiber itself.

Mimsyhiker on wall

My yardage was less than the suggested amount and I used bigger needles, so I didn’t quite make it to the original 42 points.  Mine is 41 1/2 – instead of a half a point, I just made the last one wider.  I watched 42 on the plane over and hoped I could have that numerical reference as well, but I didn’t quite make the team.

Mimsyhiker & acquedotto

Mimsyhiker & biscotto

I finished it in the first few days we were there, so I was able to wear it again and again and again – it’s finally taking a rest drying from a light blocking to stretch it out a little.

As for acquisitions, I bought some cheap (but ugly) sock yarn, and some cheap (but lovely) mohair in the market.

But of course I bought more of the real thing.

yarn-laquilana

It deserves a post of its own next time.

* Daylight savings happened in Italy last weekend.  We spent a day wondering why none of the cafes were opened when they should have been, rushed to return the rental car when we didn’t have to hurry, and even left for the airport an hour before we needed to – but none of it was the problem it would have been in the spring.

** I love this picture that N took – in the camera it appeared that I had been steamrolled, but now it looks more like a Nancy Drew book jacket for “Murder on the Mountain.”  I love sleeping on mountains – some bedroom designer should get on that – forget beds – rig up a soft inclined meadow and mimic warm sun and chilly breezes in a room instead.

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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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Fiber high

I have other things I should be doing, other things I should be finishing, more important life/money/job things that really need my attention, but instead I started another project.  A very simple one with very lovely fiber from Pigeonroof Studios.  I spun it last summer when I should have been doing other things then too, but I couldn’t resist its siren song of buttery sproingyness.  I bought it on impulse, wondered why others praised it, and spent more than I normally do for just a few ounces (but I normally buy rough raw stuff or cheap rejected bits).  And then it came and I realized it’s fiber crack (or whatever is better than crack but just as addicting).*  Seriously, I don’t want to go back to my cheap street farm-level habit now.  The fiber basically spun itself and the colors popped through my fingers – spinning happiness at its best.  So now in the frozen days of winter, I couldn’t stop myself, and I’m enjoying every bright and buttery-kitteny-soft moment of letting it slip through my fingers.

pigeonroof1 - Copy

The pattern I’m vaguely following is the Lazy Daisy Shawlette by Orange Flower, and alas, I can’t afford to buy any more of the fiber at the moment, unless I start pawning selling some of my things.

*Drug addiction is serious stuff, I apologize for making light of it, but what other colorful exaggerations about addictions can be made? Saying it’s like a nice stiff drink on a thirsty day actually makes me sound like an alcoholic (and making light of alcoholism is bad too), saying it’s like having a [insert good poker hand here] when the pot is huge sort of endorses gambling and I hate casinos, saying it’s like a daily mega-hunk of chocolate while under the throes of PMS would alienate a male reader, and I don’t even want to get into the sex-addict analogies… [hee hee anal is in analogies]…addictions of any sort are bad, get help.

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