Recently in Finished Projects 2013 Category

Busy Hands, New Socks

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My current job finds me planted in front of my speaker phone or my computer for teleconferences and webinars.  I am easily distracted by my email, my iPad and other things, and to help me pay attention better when I am not sharing the experience with a real person, I have taken to keeping a project in my office that takes little brain activity so I can keep my hands busy and focus on what I am listening to.  This strategy does turn out to work well for me, as long as the project is not complicated.  Somehow keeping my hands out of trouble allows my brain to pay attention better to what I'm listening to.

Here's the first project I've finished:

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Nothing magical -- just a pair of socks in some hard-wearing Regia (Ringel 5072) that I have always loved and have had buried in my sock yarn archive since the dawn of my sock knitting adventures..  This is my very standard toe up pattern with a short row heel and K2P2 ribbing.  The only difference between this and my standard socks is that I knit until the ball ran out, so these socks are longer (mid calf) and I had to shape the sock and ribbing to expand towards the top for my calf.   You can't tell easily from the photo, but these socks are actually identical -- or at least as identical as you can get with this yarn.  

The next project is a pair of fingerless mitts in BMFA Silkie since I am always freezing cold in my office.

Saltwater Completed

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My finished projects haven't been as regular as I would like, but after some dedicated effort on Saltwater and some blocking (for some reason, it is the blocking step that I, well, block on) I have something to share.

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Yarn:  Sundara Silky Merino in "The Great Pacific"
Needles: 3.25 mm Addi Turbos

I found this scarf a little hard to style in a way that would provide a sense of it's size and structure.  I think the best way to wear it is backwards with the point in front and the ends wrapped around, but that didn't show much of the detail or sense  of size.

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I hope this image is more helpful at describing the shape.  If you imagine two elongated bird wings in flight, I think you have a very good idea of what Saltwater's shape is.  This is definitely something I would put in the scarf category, as, in my hands, it isn't very deep, even at the deepest point.

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I liked how the pattern designer created texture with the alternating bands of stockinette.   Easy knitting, but lovely result and it makes the whole scarf fully reversible.

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This closeup is to help you see the color variation in the yarn better.  It presents lighter here than it really is (the other pictures are more true to color) but it does show that the yarn does have beautiful depth and variation.  It reads solid, but solid with a lot of depth, especially with the sheen of the silk. 

This pattern was easy to work through and well written -- it's definitely easy knitting and shouldn't present too much difficulty even to a novice knitter.  The only remotely challenging thing is casting on the extra stitches that are used to create the center piece of the scarf after the two end pieces are complete.  And it's hard for me to say enough nice things about the yarn.  I really love this yarn stock, which is 50% merino, 50% silk.  It's also pretty nice to work with. It is a bit splitty, but duller tipped needles (like my Addi Turbos) make that issue much less.

After completing the project, I had about 24 g of the 150 g skein left over, so the pattern was pretty yarn efficient.  When I'm spending a lot on yarn for a project, I appreciate when the designer uses a reasonable amount of it and doesn't leave me with too many left overs.  Clearly with all the oddments of fingering weight yarn I am accumulating, I need to make a scarf that can use up all my bits and bobs in a nice way.
Everything old is new again. 

Which is to say, even I, who hates to knit the same pattern twice, can find a reason to go back to a pattern when enough time has passed.

This fall, Ms. Z started Kindergarten.  The transition from her wonderful pre-school to an equally wonderful Chicago public school has been a good one, but not always an easy one.  We consider ourselves amazingly lucky that Ms. Z has a teacher who is clearly (as another parent aptly put it) "part luminous being".  So, after an incident that required a great deal of parent-teacher coordination to work through, I wanted to do something that would reflect my appreciation:  something that was a gift of my time to say thank you for the gift of her time.  And I decided to knit her a scarf. 

Almost 10 years ago, I knit a lovely scarf for my mother, using Joe's Cross Stitch scarf pattern.  At the time, it felt like it took a long time to make for the payoff (mostly because of moving all those wrap stitches around) and so while I liked the result, it was only theoretically a fast knit. 

As I started to cast around, as it were, for something for Ms. Z's teacher, I remembered this scarf, but I couldn't find the pattern.  And when I started dredging through my old email and blog archives, I turned up a critical bit of information that made knitting the scarf faster: do the wraps on a bigger needle (a US 8, for instance) and only do two of them. 

Suddenly a slog became a lightning fast scarf with a beautiful pattern stitch.

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Joe's Koigu Cross Stitch Scarf
Yarn: Claudia Handpainted Yarns Fingering Weight
Colorways: Bearded Iris and Honey (1 skein each)
Needles:  US 5 and US 8 (for wrap rows)

Ms. Z's school colors are purple and gold (think Minnesota Vikings) so I wanted to reflect that in the scarf without being too over the top about it.  

I had some extra yarn, so I did an extra half interval of the pattern so that the scarf would be symmetrical and begin and end with the same color. Since my gauge was probably a little tighter than what Joe described as optimal in his pattern, this extra interval also gave me a bit more width.  This scarf is a little shorter than the pattern describes as well, but it is also a bit denser, which, hopefully, makes it a little warmer against Chicago winter weather.  

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This is the pattern stitch after I blocked it.  I love merino superwash yarns, but even though I blocked this out and stretched the crosses out a bit more, it reverted back to what it wanted to do and created a denser fabric.  Ah well.   At least this means Ms. Z's teacher won't have to go through any special blocking rituals to maintain it.

Of course, I finished the knitting on this scarf in late November and didn't manage to get it blocked until the end of December and then it took me until last weekend to fringe it.  Now it just needs a care label and a note of thanks before I wrap it up and slip it into Ms. Z's teacher's inbox. 

Whenever I knit something for someone I know on a more professional than personal level, I get a bit more nervous about sending the gift on.  Not because I worry about the quality of the gift (I believe it is beautiful and well made) but because I worry that the receiver would have preferred something else or that the making of something might be perceived as too personal.  So I'd love to hear from any teachers (or anyone one else in a field where you might get gifts from people you work with) amongst my readers on this subject.  What would you think about receiving a hand knit scarf?  Too personal or appropriate?

Willow

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Sometimes you spend a long time trying to find the right thing to do with one skein of yarn.  And then, finally, while wandering through Facebook, another friend shows you the answer.

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This skein was a random skein with no name that I purchased at Michigan Fiber Festival from the Fold.  Muted blues, greys, browns and purples.  Totally not my usual colors, but I loved it.  And even better, it was $14.  How could I leave t there?

I think I bought it around the time Zosia was born... so it sat for at least 5 years or so.  The yarn with no name that I loved.

And then Cara at January One posted on Facebook about her wonderful Willow cowls.  If anyone can find good ways to use Socks that Rock, it is Cara.  I had a Eureka! moment and pulled up Willow in Ravelry.  It really did seem perfect for the yarn.  I decided to follow Cara's suggestion (which is in her notes for the project) to start with fewer stitches (140 instead of 160 and decreasing down to 90 instead of 110 at the end.) to create a narrower, less slouchy cowl, which seemed a good call for both me and the yarn -- but otherwise, I didn't change anything in the pattern.

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Willow is a funny thing when you see it like this.    It looks much better on.  But at least you can see the colors.  Very winter water color!

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Willow shows herself to her best when she is worn.  I love the STR Medium weight for this scarf, it adds just the little bit of stiffness (without being stiff) that is needed to keep this cowl from being too loose and floppy.  The picot edges are a brilliant touch to hold the collar bone and neckline edges in place.

Mine also has a little surprise that you can just see a hint of in the picture.  A little girly touch necessitated by running out of yarn a few stitches before the bind off.  

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I chose a soft pink yarn in a similar gauge and washability to complete the knitting, the bind off and to sew down the inner edge with.  A special little secret -- the last splash of pink at the horizon before the sun goes down over a winter landscape.

After a day of wear, it's maintaining its structure and its warm without being cloying.  STR also seems to be one of those yarns that I can wear against my skin without having an itching fit, so that's a bonus, too!  But the best surprise was that it got a thumbs up from my 9 year old niece who seems to be developing a knitting habit.  It would be fun to make a couple of smaller ones if I could figure out the right starting stitch number.

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