swatch out—scarves coming through

Posted on 44 CommentsPosted in designing, lace/shawls, projects

i know you all love swatching. c’mon, admit it—it’s fun right? no???

hmm, you seem to love it plenty when i do it, and you can just watch—swatching as a spectator sport then, ok.
once the snow shawl square was off the needles, i found myself in a weird state of mind and needing something fresh and new to occupy my thoughts.

and well, swatching always comforts me when i feel like that. swatching is probably the most interesting part of my job, especially when i’m in an exploratory mood. i could just swatch i think, though on second thought hehe, mebbe not. i’m still a slut for the FO.

being that everyone seems to be loving the whole “little nothings” concept, and that it’s time we had another one in the works, and that i have lots of laceweight options sitting here to play with, i set to working out some possibilities. i think it’s fair to say that i’m as excited as anyone about these scarves.

this group represents a huge amount of self-restraint on my part, by the way. believe me, i tried many, many more stitches in these yarns and i loved a lot of them. but i weeded my experiments down to what works best in these particular colors and yarn weights, saving the others for future opportunities (and then immediately contacted a few dyers to see what they might have that will work, hehe).

can i also just say that i take back any innuendo i made the other day about fine laceweight not being quite my thing? cuz, actually, i’m in love. again. (don’t tell david.)
no worries—i’m not about to abandon variety, or consign us all to a future of microscopic stitches on surgical needles.

i’m just saying i have passed to the other side of my argument, once i found the right “voice” for the yarns. the scale and tension integral to the stitch patterns themselves are crucial, i think, to successfully using these yarns as a medium.

and then, there is the fussiness factor; you would think that a fine yarn would be a good medium with which to knit larger motifs with a little more detail, but not necessarily so; i found that simplicity and strong lines go a lot further in the impact department than mere size. and i had to be careful that the lines were crisp; soft edges blurred things so much that the fabric looked messy to me. in a shawl that might translate ok since you’d be stepping back more to look at it. but in a little scarf, i like to achieve the sense of a strong motif at close range (i realize that there could be any number of arguments to toss around here; i’m just talking about what i prefer).

in addition, i insist that these scarves be knittable on a needle size which we can enjoy (anything i’d knit socks on, or larger, is ok), and that the stitch patterns are fun and not too fiddly to execute. after all, we don’t need another chore, do we?

let’s look at the swatches in the fearless fibers alpaca laceweight first.
this is my hands-down favorite for the yarn and color

i just love it. this arrangement of stitches has such a simple, formal elegance i can hardly stand it—it’s positively roman. and the color supports it so well. i almost didn’t swatch this one, too. but i kept coming back to it, lured by a feeling of longing that made me knit it (some day there will be a home for aging, babbling knitters, and i will be queen there, i know).

i tried a bunch of stitch patterns with this yarn and the only other swatch that comes close for me is this one

it’s very delicate and pretty; i really love it too.
however, when i tried out the same stitch with the lanas puras melosa laceweight yarn

i knew that for me, the expression was much more vibrant and springy. the yarn is similar in weight—a tad heavier—but with completely different characteristics. here they are side by side

for one thing, the melosa is merino wool, and for another it is a singles. both those factors make it loftier—it feels juicy-fat next to the alpaca, and spreads out the stitches differently. the drape is completely different from the alpaca—not nearly as fluid, rather, it has substance, which translates to more stitch definition. i think the variegation really works with this stitch, too—it’s quite striking—so it’s a keeper.

next, i tried out some dicentra alpaca laceweight. this color is deep and rich, reminding me of dense, dark clay (seems far away but it’s certain to be here again), so i looked for patterns that somehow brought out that quality in the yarn

first we have another abstract motif with beautiful pinwheeling lines. again, very roman—very simple and formal. i just love how this stitch works in the laceweight; i’ve knit it in heavier yarn before and the difference is incredible. i love how this deep clay color works together with the shapes in the fabric, making it look like very old tile or ceramic ornamentation.

then i tried this large leaf lace, because the yarn is also the color of fall

and i like this too. but i would really like to see this stitch in either a pale color or something very dark, so i’m going to re-do it in other yarn choices (i’m looking for something a little more unexpected). i like it in this color but i like the first swatch more.
and wow, what a motif, eh? that is strong i tell you. i love the irregular edges and for me it works especially well in the sheer fabric.

i have also continued working on the sweater swatching, to amuse myself and to have fun with the squishy chubby yarn. the last thing i did last night was rip out my initial large swatch so i could do another pass. it looked great but the motif was too large, so i’m going to re-do it and scale everything back a bit. i want to mix a knit/purl fabric with some cabling. just you wait—i have a feeling you’re gonna like that one too.

ok now on a completely different note, i have to share how annoyed and jealous we all were on monday with anne c., who showed up to class in yet another new sweater.

i KNOW! she just brought a new sweater a couple of weeks ago. we hate her too.
but seriously, isn’t that cute? it’s the siena cardigan from interweave knits, fall or winter 2006, we think. and her collar is not knit crooked—anne would never be satisfied with that. it just got knocked askew when we were all pawing at it, and i didn’t notice til i looked at the photos just now.

violets rising

Posted on 22 CommentsPosted in patterns

a sock to walk us into april, wound round with organic patterns of new vine shoots and tiny violets.

shown here in harmony sock yarn from the woolen rabbit, colorway, herb robert (this colorway is exclusive to the yarn4socks april club kit; see kim’s harmony sock yarn page for a variety of gorgeous alternatives).

to purchase pattern or view complete pattern information, please click here to be taken to the product page in the knitspot pattern shop.

as is often the case, i had much help getting this pattern into publication. our great friend jocelyn did her usual superb test knit, and with buckets of enthusiasm.
and once again rachel pitched in with proofreading expertise . . . what would we do without her?
thank you both from the bottom of my heart.

fish in a dish

Posted on 24 CommentsPosted in designing, lace/shawls, projects

mmm, this is what we had for dinner on easter sunday. roasted vegetable and fish chowder.
i sorta made it up as i went along, but it turned out great and we enjoyed it. plus there are plenty of leftovers to have during the week, yay.

instead of sautéing all the soup veggies one by one, i just spread them out on a baking sheet and drizzled them with olive oil, then added pepper and salt, and slid them into a 450° oven. while they roasted i worked on a swatch.

when they were almost done i browned some cod fillets in the bottom of a big pot with a little garlic, parsley, and oil

til it broke apart easily, then added the roasted veggies, about 6 cups of stock, and 2 cups of tomato puree. i let all that cook til the veggies were good and tender (and worked on my swatch), then added frozen corn and green beens, plus about half a cup of cream and about one cup of soy creamer (it was a very big pot, and i added just enough to make it milky, but not thick). then adjusted the seasonings and we ate it. seriously easy to do, leaving plenty of knitting time.

i took a break yesterday from knitting on big projects and spent the whole afternoon swatching with fine, fine laceweight yarns. yarn that is finer than we normally talk about here, but which i admire from afar on blogs such as alice’s.

this is one idea for the fearless fibers laceweight alpaca i have.
working with yarns this fine (about 600 yards per 50 grams) is not something i do all that often. for one thing, it’s tricky to find the right stitch patterns; they have to be large and pretty tightly shaped to have any substance i think. the one above was the first successful one i had after about six false starts with other motifs.

and you know, i want it to be fun too, so even though a couple of other motifs worked well visually, i knew i would hate knitting them after just a couple of repeats. and a scarf (even a little one) is an endurance project after all.

then finally, it’s fairly slow going with the fine yarn and tiny needles. especially with alpaca yarns, which do not have the loft and grip of merino; they feel extremely thin and slippery on the needles. and i am lazy and impatient, so there you go. not a territory i venture into all that much.
however, i was sent several laceweight yarns in the last few months that i love, and have been petting and stroking while waiting for the chance to set to work with them. i can get used to the yarn i think . . . so, i’m exploring.

i’m not done yet; i have another one i want to try with this colorway too, and i have a good feeling about it. more on that tomorrow.

i also took out this skein of dicentra designs alpaca laceweight that lisa milliman sent me.

since it is about the same weight i figured i might as well swatch for this too, while i was in the right mindset. it doesn’t hurt to have a few scarves planned out that i can grab and go with when planning time is short.

of course after a long afternoon of those swatches, i wanted something completely different.

i went shopping in my stash and came up with this skein of melosa merino laceweight, from one planet yarn and fiber.
doesn’t it just say SPRING?

this will be perfect for another little nothings scarf and i might was well swatch for it while i’m of a mind to do it. i’ll be knitting a shawl later in the summer with the same yarn in a different color, so this will be a good chance to bond with the yarn a bit. just gotta find the right stitch.

and then there was something else on my mind.
now, i know i don’t exactly have time for this right now, but i have been seriously jonesing to get another sweater project underway. and i have this gorgeous BFL yarn, a gift from briar rose

i didn’t get very far with this swatch yesterday but i’ll pick it up again this evening for a while.
i have what i hope is a good idea for a fun, comfortable fall sweater.

tomorrow or the next day, when everything is soaked and blocked a bit. i’ll show you the results and analyze them a bit.

i just realized that i have fallen headlong into the early stages of a case of startitis. see what happens when i’m left to wander?? somebody slap me—quick.

lust and local color

Posted on 23 CommentsPosted in designing, lace/shawls, projects

the day before easter came as a bit of a surprise; i wasn’t conscious that the holiday was coming until friday evening, and i hadn’t really geared up for anything special. so, where normally the day before a holiday is sort of filled with anticipation (even holidays we don’t celebrate are festive for me in this way, go figure), i was a little behind on this one, mentally (alright, stop laughing; so what if slow-on-the-uptake is my middle name??)

the day opened with a visit from my friend amanda, knitter of the amazing cranapple snow shawl triangle. she brought the shawl to visit with her

isn’t it pretty! she’s halfway through the pine border now, so we might see this finished very soon. she even “tried it on” for us to show off what a flattering color it is

sigh. i just adore this colorway and i think i’m going to have to knit one.

i actually left the house yesterday to do some shopping, too. i KNOW. not like me at all.
but i felt the urge to get out, and had a list of items that needed to be picked up. and i wanted to stop in on my friend beckie who was hosting a little felting party for our friends kris and helena.

first stop was davis candies, to pick up some gift chocolates

though i opted for the wrapped, homemade chocolates-in-a-bag on this occasion, the place was full of the most adorable easter chocolate, molded into all those crazy vintage figures we grew up with; the easter bunny in his little suit and backpack basket, the easter bunny riding the chicken, the chubby ducks and chicks with fancy dress hats on. so cute.
(whoa, i just ate one of those wrapped butterscotches, and my eyeballs are buzzing. of course i should know better than to eat candy before lunch.)

then i had to stop at marc’s which is a sort of local variety store. it’s a little bit like bigLots, but it has food. or the semblance of foods anyway.

i DARE you not to be completely stunned by the colors of this fluid, which, supposedly is something you would feed your kids to drink. i mean—that green one?? c’mon, who gives that to their kid (for anything besides stripping paint)?

on another level, though, i’m totally in love with both the array of color and the way it’s displayed.

(i stopped at the bank and radio shack too, but no photo ops at those places)

finally i got to beckie’s house, about 2 hours after everyone else arrived. they’d been busy

beckie had dyed up a bunch of her romney roving with that tampico juice from marc’s easter egg dyes for this project

now THAT’s colorful.
helena (age 11) made a number of felted ornaments that she can hang or attach a magnet to

and kris, who you might remember has modeled for us, made a bunch too, including the yellow chick that heading up this post (i’m so impressed that it stands on its own; i’m sure mine wouldn’t).

i just sat around drinking coffee.
i kept meaning to do some felting, but found it hard to get serious about it. and it was so much more fun to watch the baby play. did i ever mention that beckie is a grandma?? just ask her.

when i got home i made a big skillet of curry and by the time we ate and cleaned up it was fairly late. i didn’t get a whole lotta knitting done, but i did get far enough on the second school sock to start the heel flap. i’m almost surely going to run out of yarn. i have another skein of this colorway but it’s more blue-looking. i might have to take it back and see if i can get a better match.

and then this morning when i flipped my calendar, what did i see?
(ok, i feel a huge thrill when the calendar and my knitting coincide on any given day—sue me.)

today, i’m swatching and having a grand old time about it too. i tried to do this yesterday and the day before and i didn’t excite me much, but today—today is different.
i think i’ll make some soup, too.

have a good holiday, whatever it is you celebrate; spread peace and love and good will.