Recently in Projects Started 2012 Category

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.

Some Mojo Rising

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One of my favorite toys ever showing off some lovely Briar Rose "grace" (a blend of superwash merino, bamboo and nylon) which is likely to become a second Rivolo (I gave the first one away). 

I have no idea why I suddenly needed to start another project.  I've been sick all week, am behind as all get out, and really didn't need to start something new.  But I had to.  So I did.  Maybe knitting will help chase the viruses away.

Sophie and Sophie*

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After a somewhat unhappy trip to the dentist, I promised my small person a treat for dealing with it so well.  It is funny what sticks in the memory of my child.  She has been asking me for a Sophie since I made this one for a close friend's new arrival over two years ago, not too long after she had turned two.  The dentist is conveniently close to a nice yarn store, and after fortifying myself with a latte from my favorite coffee shop (also conveniently close to the dentist) we headed over to Nina and I told her that she could pick out yarn for something she'd like.

I want a pink bunny, Mama.

The color of the year is pink.   I haven't really tried to influence her interest in color... but like most little girls, pink and purple have risen to the top of he list.   So we picked out a nice pink washable (and even affordable) yarn.  I thought she might let it go for a little while, but right after we walked in the door...

When are you going to start my bunny, Mama?

Followed by:

Mama, is that the head of the bunny?

When do you put the stuffing in the body, Mama?

Mama, you need to knit the bunny another leg.  Bunnies need two legs, Mama!

Mama, how come the bunny only has one arm?

When are you going to knit the other ear, Mama?  Are you working on it yet?

My bunny needs a face, Mama!  My bunny needs a face!

Ms. Z has been my constant coach and task master when it comes to her Sophie.  Even with all the wheedling and cajoling a very verbal 4 year old can muster I sill managed to take several months to bring Sophie to the finish line.  Since handing Sophie off (she refused to give the bunny a different name) she's insisted on bringing the bunny everywhere with her.  Sophie sleeps with her, she has to be belted in next to her in the car, she's been to pre-kindergarten for a day and she has had a busy life following Ms. Z around.  This is the first time a hand knit toy has been so well loved by my kiddo, even if for just a short period of time.  It's enough to make a Mama think that maybe she should get her act together and start working on that pair of striped knee socks she has the yarn for....

*My daughter's name is the Polish version of Sophie.

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