Tassels or No Tassels?

I’m sitting here with the cuddly Marled Magic wrapped around my shoulders.  It needs to head for the blocking bath but is is so scrumptious with it’s silk mohair marled in that I don’t want to take it off.


This has been a fun shawl to knit and I’m not sure where the magic started happening but it happened.  Was it the memories the leftover bits of yarn told to me as I knit?  Was it the colors of my own magical color palette that make me smile and bring joy?  I’m not sure but I sure do love this crazy shawl.

I’m in a bit of a dilema on the tassels.  I was supposed to add a ‘pop’ color in to break up the overall blue of the colors I used so I chose this Madelinetosh Lite yellow color called Candlewick.  Not sure about it.  I little may be okay but three huge tassels off each of the three shawl points? Really not sure.  What do you think?

I can leave it without tassels or I can add another color if the yellow is a bit much.

Off for a soak now which will make this big shawl even bigger, even softer, even more magical.

 

Marled Birthday Magic

At the end of October I will be planting my feet firmly into another decade and with each passing year I want to declutter more and live life more in the ‘minimalist’ fashion.  I no longer watch television as much as I once did and I find myself listening to podcasts and audio books as the needles click.  One podcaster I particularly enjoy listening to is co-hosting a shawl knit along using one of Stephen West’s patterns, MARLED MAGIC. 

Marled Mesh

The marling of yarns seems to be the current knitting craze along with ‘finding your fade.’  Although I’m not crazy about some of the wild colors Stephen West uses I have found that I learn some new technique every time I knit one of his patterns.  So, when Voolenvine announced that the knit along would be the MARLED MAGIC shawl I knew it would be right up my alley! Marled Mesh

MARLED MAGIC was designed to be a stash busting pattern using all kinds of colors from the knitters yarn collection and boy do I have some stash to reduce.  So how perfect is that?  I will hit another birthday with less stash (minimalist thinking, right?) and I will have a crazy wild WEST KNITS shawl but in all the colors in my wardrobe palette.  It will be a creative effort in combining colors kind of like fair isle knitting or painting.  My ultimate goal would be that it would make any shirt in my wardrobe ‘pop’ because it will have all the colors in my wardrobe.  And knitting this shawl will also be a walk down memory lane as I use bits of leftover yarn from loved projects I have already knit.  I’m pretty pumped.

I cast on yesterday and woke up in the middle of the night thinking about color combinations and wanting to knit so yep, I got up and did just that.  The first section of MARLED MAGIC is a mesh pattern.  I chose to knit a classic marl using a neutral rose beige in my color palette held together with another variegated yarn.  The variegated yarn has blues-periwinkles-amethyst-violets-plums-purples in it.  Lovely!  The classic marl is done by holding two colors together to as you knit creating a ‘marled’ effect.

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I used the rose beige years ago in my COLORADO SUNRISE HAT.  That hat was a fun project I did with a couple friends.  We each had a time of day that we took a picture of the Colorado sky.  We ran the picture through a color generator to get the colors.  I got sunrise forgetting how early the sun rises in the mountain in the wintertime and how cold it was.  I knit a fair isle hat with my colors.  The photographs I used are on my Ravelry project page here. Marled - Section 1

The variegated Malabrigo yarn was used in the Linken shawl, one of Rosemary Hill’s  Seven Small Shawls.  I played yarn chicken and fretted about it on the group board.  Another participant was using the exact same color and had bought two skeins and had leftovers.  She offered to send the leftovers to me and I took her up on her offer.  The dye lot was quite different hers being much more brilliant than the one I had but it worked.  That is when I learned that different pots of dye do not always come out the same even if you are a professional like Malabrigo Yarns.

Marled Mesh

So that is all I have for you on Section 1 of the shawl.  I’m pretty much obsessed with so I foresee putting aside some other things so I can have some monogamous knitting. My mind is spinning with ideas for the next section which is knit in seed stitch.  Hmmmm…..spinning…..that is a thought, maybe I will use some of the fiber I have spun on my spinning wheel.  This is going to be fun indeed!

A New Shawl

I sometimes wonder what my dogs think about my fiber activities.  They never get in the way of the spinning wheel as my feet pedal away.  They sit patiently beside me as my hands are busy knitting never once nudging the needles aside.  As the drop spindles spin closer and closer to the floor they never  make lunges for it although, if I were a dog, it would be pretty dog-gone tempting.

The only time they really have boundary issues is when I put my blocking mats on the floor and then they feel free to walk all over whatever is being blocked.  They probably think I put it out for them as some sort of mat.  Today Kenzie stood next to me as I pinned my new shawl to the deck rails.  Does she wonder why I do such odd things?  Probably not in this instance as she was more curious about watching for little critters off the deck, believe me – nothing moving escapes her keen eye.

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I just finished my Romi Hill shawl called KNITWitch.  The pattern is from Romi’s 7 Small Shawls , Year 4 Friends.  All the patterns in this series are dedicated to knitting friends she has met in recent years so this shawl is named after a friend she knows on Ravelry who calls herself Knitwitch.

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This was undoubtedly the most interesting pattern I have knit in a while.  My respect for the designer has sky-rocketed ten fold and I am looking forward to knitting more of her patterns.  Knitwitch was a ‘true lace’ pattern, meaning that the design was knit on both sides of the fabric – there were no ‘resting’ rows so to speak.

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A technique new to me was shaping the scallops along the edge using short rows.  Brilliant idea which added softness to the shawl.

IMG_2238Another technique new to me that I really liked was casting off with an i-cord.  This formed a little tube along the top edge of the shawl with eyelets underneath it.  I failed to take a picture of that but the really cool thing about it was that a blocking wire could be inserted through the tube to aid in blocking.

Although the shawl looks simple there is a lot of action going on in almost every row.  The only way I could truly handle that was by using the KnitCompanion program on my iPad so I could enlarge the pattern and use markers to keep me in place.  It wasn’t really a pattern I could work on with people around me and I had to do a few ‘movie-tink-backs’ when working on it through a really good movies.

This pattern used one skein of sock yarn.  Mine was knit with String Theory Blue Stocking.  I rarely say I would like to knit a pattern a second time but, with this one, I would!

IMG_9982In fact, I would cast on a second Knitwitch today if it were not for a little giraffe who is calling out to be finished.  I’m going to see my grandchild next weekend and said giraffe needs a lot of attention!

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 (hello.lurking.gwen)

 

But Baby It’s Cold Out There

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My snow boots are sitting out and ready. Although they look warm I am not confident that even at nine degrees they will do the trick keeping my toes warm. I don’t plan on trying them out if I can help it.  Snow this morning transitioning to snow showers this afternoon.  Very cold.  Very, very, cold indeed.  The pine needles are frozen stiff and caked with snow and the trees remind me of a scene from the Chronicles of Narnia.

Perhaps my mind drifts to Narnia on this snowy morn because I have been pondering something C. S. Lewis said about Advent.  When the world outside is frigid with cold I often pull into myself and meditate on things.  It is as if the blanket of white dulls my eye from distractions without but sharpens my senses to turn within.  It is in these moments that there is no draw from worldly things.

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When the year dies in preparation for the birth

Of other seasons, not the same, on the same earth,

Then saving and calamity go together make

The Advent gospel, telling how the heart will break.

Therefore it was in Advent that the Quest began.

C. S. Lewis

IMG_8813Time doesn’t seem to matter on snowy homebound days.  The treacherous roads prevent me from leaving my home.  The steady ticking of the clock doesn’t urge me to hurry because there is no where I can go, there is no rush.  Instead, its steady rhythm pulls me in further to meditating  four Advent readings I have read since Sunday.  Yes, the Quest has begun.  Each year through the celebration of Advent I unwrap the greatest gift.

IMG_8848This morning I meditate on the first question God asked in the Old Testament.  He asked it when the cool evening breezes were blowing and there was no Adam to walk beside Him in communion.  He asked it, not because He did not know where Adam was, but because He wanted Adam to think about where he(Adam) was in his life, where he was in his relationship to the One who had created Him.  God reaching for man.

I’ve thought about the numerous times I have fallen and scraped my heart raw – and God reached for me.  In my Advent Devotion I was reminded of the times when I felt the shame ‘of words that have snaked off my tongue and poisoned the corners of my life.’  He calls and asks me where I am and He never refuses to give up on me.  He reaches for me time and time again.

Your God looks for you when you’re feeling lost, and you God seeks you out when you’re down, and your God calls for you when you feel cast aside.  He doesn’t run down the rebel.  He doesn’t strike down the sinner.  He doesn’t flog the failure. ~ Ann Voskamp.

My God holds and enfolds me no matter what each season brings.  Spurgeon says of God that He comes, ‘to find you wherever you may be.  I will look for you till the eyes of My pity see you.  I will follow you till the hands of My mercy reach you, and I will still hold you … to My heart.”

This is a love story and in this Advent season I will unwrap the full love story of Christmas.  My devotional this year is called The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the full love story of Christmas by Ann Voskamp.

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As I read I am warmly wrapped in my newly finished Girasole Pi Shawl.  It took a while to knit this and I am very happy to be finished.  It just needs a blocking so I won’t show a frontal picture – but soon I will after it is blocked on a queen size bed.  It’s big this shawl.

100% Alpaca

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100% Alpaca in my lap on a summer day? Am I insane? It is quite possible especially since this 100% Alpaca is knit into a massive Pi Shawl that will be a cozy lap blanket come winter. Alpaca is warmer than wool and this Cascade Eco Alpaca is incredibly warm and soft. Although I live high in the Rocky Mountains I still cannot work with it more than thirty minutes in the summertime.

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Girasole has been one of my largest projects calling out to me to be finished. I started it a couple summers ago as part of a challenge and it literally messed my shoulder up because I was obsessed with finishing it within a month timeframe. It obviously was never finished that summer. I had to set it aside and start physical therapy instead. But now I am motivated again because in two weeks because Zimmermania begins at the local yarn shop.

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Our Zimmermania Club will knit a quarterly project from one of Elizabeth Zimmermann’s marvelous books. If you have never read any of her books then you have missed out on a literary treat. She is delightful to read and will have you chuckling in no time. We will be starting with the Knitter’s Almanac which was reprinted for her 100th Anniversary birthday celebration had she lived to celebrate 100 years. Our first project will be the Pi Shawl.

Jared Flood, the designer of Girasole, was influenced greatly by Elizabeth Zimmermann and Girasole is a Pi Shawl. Are you beginning to understand why I want to finish Girasole? Well, maybe you aren’t because you are probably not as persnickety about things as I am. Something in me will not let me cast on another Pi Shawl when Girasole is lurking about unfinished. Do you think it is possible for unfinished projects to doom brand-new projects of the same type.

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I have decided that I won’t risk it so despite the warm alpaca sitting in a heap upon my lap, I am committed to work TEN knitted on edging points a day. Each point gobbles up three stitches on the border circumference. If my calculations are correct, the ‘new’ Pi Shawl will be cast on with great positive beginnings!

 

 

 

 

Picots Abound in Holden

Taking first birthday gifts in carry on luggage can prove trying to a knitter who must bring knitting with her everywhere she goes. Knowing I did not want to start a new project until a few old ones were finished, last week I scrambled around searching for a WIP that had neither armholes, heels, sleeves or seams. It needed to be fairly mindless knitting that could be stuffed back into its project bag at a moments notice. I found the Holden Shawlette.
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This pattern had been picked in January by the women I knit with in Cripple Creek as a ‘first shawl’ project. I had demonstrated the rectangle cast on and showed them how to work the increases in the stockinette portion. They picked out yarn to order and I stuffed my Holden back into its bag. Then Monday after subsequent Monday it snowed and the road between my house and where we meet is a climbing, winding mountain road which can be perilous when traveled in winter storms.
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So, whilst searching for a travel project last week I spied Holden and thought to myself, ‘The stockinette portion is mindless and I will knit only it and not go any further. I’ll wait for the ladies to catch up.”
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But after a particularly brutal therapeutic massage on Wednesday, when I didn’t feel like moving my aching muscles, I discovered my hands did work. I grabbed the closest WIP which happened to be the Holden …….. and knit the lace portion.  The next two days I worked on the picot cast off and finished her.

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So, I guess I will be demonstrating that rectangular cast on all over again to my mountain ladies with new yarn when we meet again. I won’t mind having two Holden shawls!  This is a great beginner pattern, not one to drape over the back of your chair to pull over your shoulders on a drafty winter afternoon but one to wrap around your neck as a lovely scarf.

In Which the Mum is Entirely Surrounded by Water

It rained and it rained and it rained. And just as Piglet told himself, so I too am telingl myself that never in all my life, and I am goodness knows how old – never have I seen so much rain. Actually, this is far from true in my case but nonetheless, days and days of rain in the mountains have turned into warnings of flash floods and massive mudslides in fire ravaged terrain.

When the rain began we were asleep. It rained and rained throughout the night and I slept and slept well into mid-morning. I have had some sleepless nights lately and I think the rain helped me to get caught up on sleep.

I am not here all alone today with nothing to do except wonder when the rain will stop. Husband is working from home and Kenzie keeps wanting to go out and investigate. Just as rain is rather exciting to me, it is also exciting to her. She will never be a Very Small Animal Entirely Surrounded by Water who is anxious, it just isn’t in her temperament.  Last night she jumped in the bubble bath I was enjoying, enjoying that is until she jumped in.  Consequently, I won’t be taking her out with an umbrella over her head as my father-in-law does for his dogs because half the fun for her is getting wet.  I made her wear her cabled coat although I am not sure she likes it much.

The quaking aspen are starting to turn. The weather man reports 8-inches of snow on the top of Pikes Peak. If my thermometer drops a few more degrees this rain will turn to snow. I have a pair of wool socks on my feet and I am still in my warm pajamas. I know exactly what a day like today is for. It is time to pull out a project I have not worked on since July, my Girasole blanket.  Todays weather reminds me that soon, very soon, I will be wanting this blanket To Sit By The Fire.

And this rainy day has also drawn me to an old favorite, The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh.  I wanted to read once again the story In Which Piglet Was Entirely Surrounded by Water because, after all, NONE of us are too old for a little bit of Pooh!

How to Bead a Shawl

It is a mystery to me…..my shawl, that is!

My Saturday knitting buddies ‘peer pressured’ me to join the Goddess Knits Fall Mystery Shawl knit-a-long without even uttering a single word in my direction. I simply succumbed by listening to their enthusiasm and my resolve to not start another project crumbled. Enthusiasm can be infectious.

What the finished shawl will look like is a mystery that will slowly be unveiled over the next five weeks. One thing I do know is that there will be 860 beads in it. That’s a lot of beads folks!

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Whenever I wear a beaded shawl in public I can pretty much count on someone asking me how those beads got knit into my shawl. Once upon a time I steered clear of beaded patterns because I was mystified by the whole beading process…..and then I tried it. Beading is not hard at all. It may be a little tedious at times but not difficult at all. Let me demystify it for you and hopefully, you won’t take as long as I did to dive head first into combining some lovely beads with your knitting!

For this project I am using size 6/0 seed beads and a crochet hook tiny enough to be inserted through the bead hole. In this case it is a US 9/1.25mm crochet hook.

Step 1 Put a bead on your crochet hook:

Step 2
Knit in pattern up to the stitch that will hold the bead. With bead on hook, Insert crochet hook into that stitch like you are going to knit it:

Step 3
Pull stitch off knitting needle with crochet hook:

Step 4
Use fingers to slide bead over knit stitch on crochet hook and push it over the crochet head:

Step 5
Pull loop up through bead with crochet hook:


Step 6
Return beaded stitch to left knitting needle:

Step 7
Knit beaded stitch and continue in pattern:

And there you have it… that is all there is to adding beads to a shawl! Easy Peasy! And, speaking of shawls – this mystery shawl is getting prettier and prettier with each released clue.

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This afternoon I made some lightweight snag proof stitch markers. They are just as delicate as the laceweight yarn I am knitting with and are perfect for shawls. I have found that regular stitch markers are a bit on the heavy side and are too intrusive when knitting lace.

Happy knitting!

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Itching to Sew a Butterfly Kiss

The summer is halfway over and I had fully intended to sew at least four  summer skirts.  Time to get busy!  There are some great fabrics out there and I do love pretty fabric almost as much as I love yarn.

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The pattern I will be using is called Butterfly Kisses.  My fabrics of choice are designed by two of my favorite fabric designers, Anna Maria Horner and Amy Butler. I also like wearing tiered skirts. They make me feel so ‘girly-girly’ and who can resist twirling while wearing one?

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I spent the afternoon cutting strips so I’m ready to pull out the sewing machine and start sewing!  I added a couple inches to each strip to make the skirt a little longer.

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Not surprising, I ordered two skeins of Madelinetosh Merino Lite from the Loopy Ewe to knit a two-color shawl to complement the skirt. The colors are called Kelp and Maple Leaf. I think they will work well with the skirt but I still have not settled on the pattern.

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The third Camp Loopy project is supposed to be a two-color 500 yard project. I knit Cladonia last summer and love it but this camp project is to be a new pattern rather than one we have already knit. Whippoorwill by Carina Spencer is a possibility  and Kleio is another but I would dearly love to have other possibilities. I also like Ziggity by Kirsten Kapur.

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Have any suggestions?

 

 

 

Haruni

One of the things I greatly appreciate about my little knitting group is that we like to pick projects and knit them together. Aside from the pure motivational factor, we share our collective knitting knowledge and talk through the patterns. Last month we picked the Haruni Shawl as our project for May.

There are just three of us in our group and we don’t knit by the sea as these three ladies do in this painting by Jozef Israels. We meet in a coffee shop with a nice view of Pikes Peak but we are oblivious to the Peak out the window because we are absorbed in knitting and great conversation.   We decided we would knit the pattern larger than the pattern indicated and we brainstormed appropriate yarn choices. I ended up ordering some lovely Madelinetosh Merino Light in a color called Sequoia to remind me of my childhood day trips to see the lovely Redwoods in California.

When the first of May rolled around we cast on together and within an hour my Haruni was not looking at all like theirs. We put our heads together and it wasn’t long when one of my pals figured out that I was knitting all the way across the wrong side rows — another bonus whilst knitting with friends! Saved before I had ventured too far!

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The color of this yarn captures the color of those redwood trees and the yarn has a lovely sheen.

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The additional repeats have made my Haruni a perfect size for wrapping myself in as I sit in my favorite chair reading, watching television and knitting as I do either of these.

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This pattern offers two bind-off options. One option is an I-cord bind off which used more yarn and seemed rather tedious. The other option was a crocheted bind off and although I have never tried this method, it was the one I chose. I really like how delicate it looks but will tell you right up from that they are a bit of a pain to pin out during blocking.

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I enjoyed knitting this shawl and would highly recommend the pattern.  You can’t beat the price, it’s free!