Recently in Scarves Category

Knitting Challenge

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It's always fun to have your kid tell you she wants you to knit her something.  Sometimes, however, it's challenging when your kid is trying to channel early Madonna and has the color preferences of a 6 year old girl.  

I decided that I could make her a scarf.  Scarves can be colorful, scarves do not take that long and, generally, scarves can last more than one year, which is a plus in a kid who seems to need an updated wardrobe about every 15 minutes because she is suddenly taller.

So I took Ms. Z to the yarn store and told her she could pick something out for a scarf.  Initially, it started out that she could pick one color.  By the end of the trip, it became two colors because she couldn't decide between her favorites.  And because I am a sucker for a 6 year old with her own design ideas.

I'm beginning to understand why the Project Runway designers always struggle when they have to design for a client.

So, here is her yarn selection:

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You might be thinking Oh, that is just a camera problem.  That yarn cannot possibly be that neon pink.  

Unfortunately, you would be wrong.  That yarn is absolutely that neon pink.  And she wants it paired with that very vibrant purple.  On the plus side, this is fabulous and beautiful superwash merino.  Like butter.

I actually like both of these colors,   That pink paired with some more subtle grey is a knockout.  And I do like a vibrant purple,  Together?  I remain unsure.

Ms. Z, however, knows that she wants both of them, and knows that she wants a scarf knit horizontally with zig zags.  It was this fact that she had such a clear design in her mind that convinced me to buy the yarn.  I want to support and encourage her to play with color and have an artistic vision.  

I am thinking of using Stephen West's Creekbed as a starting point as it gets at the general idea, but have not really figured out how to do the striping.  Fibonacci perhaps?  I have this notion of starting with narrow going to wider with one color while starting wider and going to narrower using the other.    Might have to map it out to get a better idea...


Triana Scarf

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Clearly there is no witty knitting post title today, but if you want to feel knitting witty and make friends with people you don't know, this scarf will do it for you.

20120123_KatiaTrianaScarf.jpgYarn: Katia Triana
Pattern: Triana Scarf
Needles: US 10

Ribbon lace yarns seem to be the new thing in novelty yarns.  I am a little embarrassed to admit that there are times when I dig a dive into a big bucket of novelty.  This is definitely one of them, because the results are just awesome, and I think a bit more timeless than the average fun fur scarf.

This scarf is dirt simple to make but no one around you will know unless you tell them.  I made 4 of them during December -- and my schedule was not exactly filled with leisurely knitting time.  This is a project where the novelty yarn does all the work for you, all you have to do pull loops through loops.  The only thing challenging about making these scarves is getting a good visual for how it's done -- and Google and YouTube will be happy to provide assistance with that.  It makes a great affordable last minute gift.  I could probably have made 2 of these in a day if I was focused.

After knitting this up, I've been thinking what a blast this stuff would be to use to make frilly cuffs or a collar for the right sweater.    Of course, by the time I get around to it, it will no longer seem fashionable any more.

Super Cupcake Cowl

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Pattern: ChicKnits Super Cupcake Cowl
Yarn: The Fiber Company, Terra

I've been wandering through my favorite retail stores looking for winter gear and come across so many cowls.  Even though I've been sorely tempted, the knitter in me refuses to let my material girl just pull one off the rack and take it home, especially since the ones that I have liked best have been simple ribbed rings and I have no end of yarn that would be perfect companions for a cowl scarf.

After a bit of looking, I decided it was hard to go wrong with Bonne Marie's Super Cupcake pattern. I liked that the brioche stitch created a ribbed look but was a bit more interesting and a bit more slouchy than simple K1P1 ribbing.  I combined her pattern with the left over Terra yarn that I had from John's Aspinwall sweater (sadly, still waiting for me to find some maroon thread to sew the zipper in with) to create my first cowl of the season.  It's super simple to knit and super soft and super slouchy and I couldn't be happier with the result. 

20101219_SuperCupcakeCowlUp.jpgI decided to skip the gauge swatch for this project, which probably was a no no, because I believe the cowl is supposed to be a bit more fitted.  However, I like that in cold weather this cowl can be pulled up over my head to keep my ears warm.  Terra is a silk/wool blend, making it soft and warm and not too heavy (I love silk for winter garments -- it's an excellent insulator that doesn't have the weight of wool).  And there's nothing like stash diving and using oddments of yarn to create something  fun and unique to ward off the winter chill.

This was such a quick knit that I'm considering another cowl project.  There's plenty of winter ahead and a Chicago girl can never have too many winter neck warmers!

Could it be(ad)?

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Really, it was only a matter of time, don't you think, before I posted something on beads.  I actually think it's kind of amazing that I'm made it through almost 8 years of blogging without having actually executed a beaded knitting project.  Not that I haven't thought about it, mind you, but you have to find beads and beading needles and then get motivated to string 5 kajillion of the little buggers on some unsuspecting yarn.  And then, once they are there, you have to schlep them around.  

But then someone goes and posts something that reminds you of something else you did a long time ago (which reminds me that I still have no gallery page... sigh) that you liked and wanted to make for yourself someday.  But you never made a second version because you are terrible at knitting any project more than once. But that something takes the original project and mixes it up a little bit by changing the orientation and adding beads.

And suddenly the project is much more interesting.  The something of which I speak, in case you haven't clicked on the links, is the Eventide Scarf  as knitted by the Yarn Harlot.

I almost managed to avoid this project by trying to convince myself that I didn't have any appropriate yarn.  Then I remembered the Sundara fingering silky goodness that I had used to start a Brandywine shawl with.  I hand't gotten very far when I abandoned it (it's a perfectly lovely pattern, I just had doubts about my need for another triangular shawl when I hardly wear the ones I have), but I love the yarn and think it would look quite lovely in that crossed stitch.  So the whole "don't have the yarn" problem was solved.

Then it became a "I don't have any beads" issue.  That was solved by finding www.whimbeads.com -- a veritable cornucopia of beads of all flavors.  Unable to decide and worried if I selected only one color it would be not so good when it arrived, I splurged and selected several tubes to test against my shawl sample.  Bead problem solved as well.

But not I have one final problem to surmount: which beads?  I pretty much go back and forth between all of them... though the variegated tube may be leading the pack by a hair.

Any opinions? I  still have a little bit of knitting on my current sweater project to go, but I'd love to hear other people's thoughts!


Summer Scarf

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While I work on the blocking and buying of buttons for Nicole, I've gotten started on another little project: a summer lace scarf made out of this:

20100607_NoroLaceWeight.jpgI found Noro Sekku at Knit Around in Ann Arbor on a recent visit to my parents' house.  I loved the colorway (quelle surprise, eh?), but really gave it a chance because of the fiber composition: 50% cotton, 17% wool, 17% nylon & 16% silk.  Lightweight and not too wooly, and a touch of nylon to make it durable.  I'm pretty sure it's colorway "04" but the ball band has gone missing at the moment (I was unable to remove the inner cardboard plug, so started knitting it from the outside in).

Because I wanted to emphasize the striping, I looked for a pattern that would make the fabric undulate a bit.  I've always loved "Tilting Blocks" out of Barbara Walker's A Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns , and this seemed like the perfect time to test it out.

20100607_TiltingBloxScarf.jpgThis pattern can be worked with stockinette or garter stitch blocks separating the open blocks.  I set up three repeats of the pattern with a selvedge stockinette stitch on either edge, using 2.75 mm needles.  Then I chose to alternate garter and stockinette blocks, doing three rows of each and then switching back to add more texture.  I think the gauge is good for this project -- nice and soft and drapey, but the solid blocks are not too see-through.  With 460 yards in this skein, I'm hoping that I make it to at least 4' of scarf.   I thought about making it narrower, but liked the balance of the odd number of repeats best.

While this project isn't truly mindless, the pattern is much easier to memorize than you might think.  I'm enjoying it so much, I've been thinking about a summer sweater out of similar weight solid color yarn.  Hmmm....





Forgotten Scarf

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Not too long ago I spent some time on Ravelry getting my projects up-to-date with my blog.  It reminded me of a few projects that have been languishing, so I decided that maybe I should figure out how to get some of these projects on the road to completion.

One of these projects is the Kushu Kushu scarf kit put together by Habu Textiles.  I think I started this project well before Ms. Z showed up on the scene.  Why isn't it finished?  Well, I don't much enjoy knitting with the single strand of silk/stainless steel yarn -- it's probably about the same weight as 10/2 perle cotton (maybe finer) and I have to pay a lot of attention to it when I knit with it.  So I think I just got bored and stashed it away for later.

With fall approaching, it seemed like it might be fun to have a new scarf -- especially one that has some interesting sculptural effects (the stainless steel yarn may not be fun to knit with, but it makes for a very interesting structure that can hold its shape).  So while Ms. Z gets her bath, I'm trying to knit a few rows here and there on it.  Maybe this year will be the year it gets crossed off the list!

Zig Zag Baby Scarf Pattern

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I got a polite request to share the pattern for the scarf I made for Z.  No problem!  This is a nice, simple pattern and it is easy to work in almost any yarn - gauge is not critical at all to this pattern.  My recommendation is worsted-weight superwash or a soft acrylic just to keep it fast and fun and washable (if it is for a baby... if it's for an adult, the washability is clearly dependent on the recipient).   You don't need all that much of any one color of yarn -- in fact, even a few yards is fine. Your yarns also do not have to be the exact same type of yarn as long as the washability and gauge characteristics are comparable.  Before you start, put your yarns in some order that you like so that you can make sure you get a color progression you like.

This is a simple pattern, so it is easily scaled up for any size recipient, but I'll provide the details for a toddler/child just to keep it simple.

First off, cast on 16 or so stitches on needles that don't give you too dense a a fabric with the yarn you are working with.  Scarves usually do better with a little drape.  This pattern is a modified K2 P2 ribbing, so it will pull in a little, creating a little extra thickness.  However, because the ribbing is shifted every two rows, it won't pull in like straight K2P2 ribbing, instead it will lay flat and maintain most of it's width*.  Obviously, you can cast on any number of stitches that is divisible by 2.  I selected my starting point based on the amount of yarn I had and a general examination of Z's neck.  I didn't want it to be too wide or it wouldn't sit comfortably around her neck.

After casting on, knit 4 rows -- this will create a little garter stitch border for the scarf, and a nice flat foundation to start on.  Now it's time to start the pattern!

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You can choose to start with either a left or right progressing (slanting) ribbing.  The charts I've provided include a two stitch garter stitch border on either edge of the ribbing (stitches 1 & 2 and 15 & 16) the edge stitches are indicated with the grey shading.  Please note that the "|" symbols represents "knit on the right side, purl on the wrong side" (except for the edging which should be a knit stitch no matter which side you are working) and the "-" symbol represents "purl on the right side knit on the wrong side".  This pattern has an 8 row repeat interval.  So once you start, you just keep going, starting with row 1 again after you finish an 8 row repeat.  Just keep knitting until you run out of yarn or want to change color.  It doesn't matter what row you end on.  If you'd like my original excel file with the chart in it, you can
download Zigzag.xls by clicking here.

When you complete a color, you want to end that color with the end of a row.  What you do next depends on whether you ended with a right side or wrong side row.

  • If you ended with a wrong side row, on the next row you're going to switch direction.  To figure out what your next row would be, identify the row you finished with in which ever ribbing direction you were working (as an example, let's say you ended with row 4 of the left progressing ribbing).  Now look in the chart for the alternate direction and find the exact same row (in my example, this would be row 8 in the right progressing chart).  Your next row is going to be the row that follows the row you just finished in the new chart.  So in my example, since my end row would be row 8 in the right progressing chart, I'd start my new color with row 1 of the right progressing chart.  
  • If you ended with a right side row, you're going to complete the wrong side row for the pattern you are working on before switching direction.  So, for example, if you ended with row 5 of the right progressing chart, you would work row 6 of the right progressing chart in your new color.  Row 6 in the right progressing chart is the same as row 6 in the left progressing chart, so your next row would be row 7 of the left progressing chart.
After you've switched charts, you continue to knit in pattern with that chart until you get to the next color change. After which, you repeat the steps for switching directions again. 

You're going to continue knitting and switching directions until you're on your last color.  When you're on your last color (ideally your scarf will be somewhere between 3 to 5 feet long for a child, for an adult, somewhere between 6-7 feet is usually a good length), you're going to continue knitting in pattern until you think you have about enough yarn left for 4 rows of straight knitting plus your cast off.  At this point, you're going to stop knitting in pattern and just knit 4 rows in garter stitch (like you did to begin the scarf and bind off with the cast-off of your choice.

Now all you have to do is weave in your ends, et voila! a fun, sweet baby scarf is ready for it's recipient.

20081201_DICScarfZ.jpg If you use this pattern and have any questions, please don't hesitate to email me or post your questions in the comments.  I'll also try to link to this in Ravelry for those of you who might want to add it to your queue so that you can remember it for later.

* as a general design note, stitch patterns with an equal number of knits and purls in each row will lie flat. 

The Couch Project

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By the time you read this, I will be in the Bitterroot Valley in Montana on business.  If that, perhaps, seems like strange place to go for business travel, I can only say that I am lucky that my business takes me to a variety of nice places, western Montana included.  Nonetheless, business travel always makes knit blogging a little more difficult since I don't usually get a lot of time in front of my computer, so I'm putting this post up from the comfort of my home office.

This week I determined that I have introduced a very particular kind of project to my collection: the couch project.  In point of fact, I've had a whole history of projects that belong to this lineage, but it took me some time to identify the trend. The couch project is the project that I require myself to have if I am going to sit down and watch TV. 

Yes, I know, many knitters have "TV knitting" so that in and of itself is nothing new or special.  Knitters are multi-taskers and I think we hate the idea that we could be getting something accomplished on a project when we are doing something that doesn't really require the participation of our hands.   The twist that I realized is a part of my TV knitting and what gets it labelled "the couch project" is that the projects that I work on in front of the TV tend to be the kind of projects that had ended up in knitting purgatory.  Perfectly fine projects, but projects that I got bored with or distracted from or just found the knitting less desireable than the idea of wearing the finished garment.  They come out from where-ever they have been sadly lingering to sit on the couch.  When I sit on the couch, they get worked on.  When I get off the couch, they get put back in their containers.  The end result is that while they don't get a lot of attention, they do get some regular attention so some progress gets made and since my brain is otherwise occupied by mindless TV (I love Project Runway and Deadliest Catch, but, I must be honest, they are hardly TV that challenges me to think too much) I don't really mind whatever flaw committed them to limbo in the first place.

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Habu Textiles Kushu Kushu Scarf, in progress

With the completion of my Morning Surf Scarf (thank you very much, by the way, for all your kind comments -- I hope to get to wear the scarf soon, but it's still a bit too warm at the moment for additional neck wear in Chicago) I started to think about all the various scarf projects or proto-scarf projects that I have going or planned.  It seems like of all the projects I get going on, scaves are the easiest projects for me to abandon, probably because after the first 10 inches or so, whatever pattern stitch that intrigued me has started to get boring.  In the case of the Habu Kushu Kushu scarf, it's "fatal flaw" was 200 rows of stockinette with two finer than laceweight strands (one merino, one silk stainless steel) that together can barely be considered laceweight worked on size 8 needles with tips blunter than I would like.  I got about 50 rows in right before I had Ms. Z and then just couldn't cope with it with a new baby in the house. 

But now, with fall coming, and the desire to have a few new accessories to lace my wardrobe with, this funky scarf has more appeal, even though the long expanse of stockinette still has to be dealt with.  So it's now on the couch, and progress has been made!  And while I can't say I  love  knitting with the stuff, I can say that I am looking forward to felting (yes, felting!) the thing and having this sculptural scarf whose yarn can actually be positioned in a particular way and will stay there without pins or blocking.

Handspun Morning Surf Scarf

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Some things never change.  If you were to browse back through my archives, you would find multiple instances where I mentioned that Julie had inspired a project. In fact, I can credit her with most of my non-knitting crafty experiments.  I daresay that if Julie had never purchased her wheel and a small collection of spindles, I never would have been bitten so hard by the spinning bug (Claudia helped enable the entry into spinning as well -- after I started to get very curious about Julie's Ashford Joy wheel).  This time, I like to think that inspiration for a particular project hit us both at the same time (i.e. with the arrival of the Summer, 2008 Spin Off) but it was seeing her project progress with handspun she had created on the spot for the project that got my brain to click in the right direction for me to actually get things going.

20080728_SurfScarfHanging.jpgMy version of the Morning Surf scarf is made out of two-ply tussah silk.  I cast on 26 stitches, knowing that my yarn was fine and that I only had about 160 yards, so a relatively small scarf was the best that I was going to hope for.  After some trial and error I settled on US size 3 needles.  My final scarf (after wet blocking) is about 54" long and 4" wide. 

20080728_SurfScarfDetail1.jpgThe Morning Surf pattern is simple but makes for a lovely scarf, even with only a few repeats across.  The undulations of the pattern really help to show off the intentional striping in this yarn. 

20080728_SurfScarfRailing.jpgThe scarf had a range of different color regions.  Every thing from deep green and purple to pale pinks and blues is represented in the yarn.  It makes me think of African violets or the spring's first crocus.   It is one of those rare patterns that can stand up to a multi-colored handspun yarn and where both yarn and pattern stand out and are remarkable.

20080728_SurfScarfDetail2.jpg It's also easily reversible -- both sides are interesting and either side could be declared the front of the garment, depending on you mood. 

While this project doesn't require blocking, I'm glad I did for this yarn.  gave the yarn a prolonged soak, and it really opened up, loosened up and relaxed.  As a result, the open work areas are more defined and I think the stitch definition is much more clear. 

This project is definitely a nice way to use up handspun yarn -- even if you don't have a lot.  And since it knits up quickly and is easily memorized, it could also be a quick way to get a knitted gift taken care of if you needed one in a hurry!




Stainless Steel in the Garden

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Right now, simple projects seem like the right kind of projects for me. Completing projects also has a lot of appeal. So I went to my WIP pile and found something that is both simple and should be completed, given it's potential to be a cool fall wardrobe accessory: my Habu Textiles Kushu Kushu scarf, which is composed of thread thick merino and silk stainless steel yarns.

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Silk Stainless Steel in the Garden

I've finished the first part of the scarf which is the gently shaped bottom portion. Now I've got 200 rows of stockinette, which is nothing if not simple. At this point, I'm 10 rows into that part. It will make for nice knitting to take out into my garden.

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Urban Garden Resting Place

Like most urbanites, I have relatively little place to garden other than my deck. So John and I have put in flower boxes filled with petunias and other brightly colored annuals and we're growing a small garden of herbs and peppers. The basil adds a wonderful aroma to the strong color of the other plants and really helps to fill the senses. For more of the summer so far than we normally get, we've been having evening weather that even an over-hormonally heated person like myself can appreciate: temperatures in the seventies and soft breezes with low humidity. It hardly feels like Chicago! It feels like maybe some power that is has decided that if I have to be on bed rest, at least I don't have to be inside all the time. For which, I am incredibly grateful, because it gets a little depressing when your only trips outside your house are to visit the doctor! So this year I'm getting to enjoy my garden more than I normally would. It's definitely a nice place right now to contemplate the world, my belly and knit!

Resolutions, Or Lack Thereof

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Heh. It's the last day of January and I'm going to talk about resolutions. Actually, I'm going to talk about how I'm not going to make them. Clearly if you're not going to make resolutions, it really doesn't matter what day you decide not to make them on.

Most of this month I've been trying to decide about the whole issue of resolutions and whether to have them or not. The sad fact of the matter is that I start out with the best of intentions, but I rarely stick to what I've resolved to do at the beginning of the year. It doesn't matter whether I'm resolving to eat better, work out more or pick up a new knitting technique, if I don't feel motivated to do something, or more to the point, I feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the task, I just won't really even get started on trying to accomplish it. And then there's the issue of predicting what will be important to me for a whole year. I live firmly in the camp of "life's too short to spend it doing things that make you miserable or don't interest you". So, in general, resolutions made in January are almost forgotten by the time Valentine's Day rolls around. I'm not even going to go back and look at the resolutions that I made last January. I can almost guarantee to you that I accomplished few to none of the things on my list.

But that said, I hate the idea of not trying to set some goals for myself when it comes to knitting and crafting. With that in mind, I decided that I would try a new approach to the whole resolution thing. I would pick one, yes just one, long range goal for the year. At the same time, I would pick one short range goal that fit with what was important to me in the here and now. And once I finished that goal, I would set another goal. That way, I'd always be picking a new goal that was actualy relevant.

The first short term goal for the year was cleaning up my blog front page. I moved all my completed projects out of my WIP list in the side bar into my Gallery (yes, 2006 was a very sock filled year) and I retired the Family Sock Challenge. I have to admit to a lot of guilt about not really wrapping that up in a graceful way. Once again, the best of intentions... But I would like to say thank you for everyone who participated, even if you only participated for a little while. I enjoyed the journey myself and was happy to see that I met that particular goal for the year (I think, perhaps, this is the only 2006 New Years Resolution that I accomplished). Goal Accomplished!

For my next short term goal, I've decided to inventory my stash. I suspect that there's a lot of yarn in my stash that I have completely forgotten about. I'd like to do more shopping from my stash in the future. I'd also like identify yarn that I will likely never do anything with and help it move along it's way into a place where it will get used. Seems like that would be easier if I had an inventory to help me keep track of my yarn. I'm about 2/3rds of the way through this project. So I think success is a possibilty.

On the long term goal side, I've decided to set two, one related to my personal life, and one related specifically to knitting. The personal one is a simple, but important one. I want to end every day with a clean desk. I don't know what it is, but a cluttered desk really clutters my brain. In order for me to accomplish anything, I need to clean my desk. Since I work from home and I also like to design at my desk, I decided that it is time to get my act together and just make it a goal to clean up every night before I go to bed. At some point, there will be photographic proof of this behavior. But it does require that I take the task on tonight...

The knitting goal is also a simple one (and one that I've had before). I'm going to work on clearing out some lingering projects. Either I'm going to finish them or rip them. The project I'm going to start with is a project that I started this time last year: the Stained Glass Scarf from Handknit Holidays. This scarf is for John and it's gotten pretty darn cold here in Chicago and my sweetie needs a little more insulation. This scarf stalled mostly because spring started to approach and the double knitting seemed to be taking an interminably long time. It's not hard, it's just tedious. So I've decided that I'm going to put this one in my hand bag and just work on it whenever I get a few spare minutes. I'm not going to get stressed about finishing it any time soon, but I am going to try to make some slow and steady progress. The fabric is wonderful and the yarn is nice to knit with, so it's definitely worth completing this one.

My progress so far?

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Not Much to Show for a Year's Worth of Knitting

Now I'm off to start cleaning up my desk!

The Beginning of the Habu Scarf

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Habu Stainless Steel, Silk and Merino Scarf

I've started a new project, but don't have a whole lot to show for it yet. This is the Habu Textiles scarf kit that I bought in early August. I was planning to take it on vacation with me, and then I realized that it requires 4 different sized needles. That's a lot of extra gear to take (lose, break...) on vacation, so I decided just to start it to get a feel for what it would be like to knit with a yarn containing stainless steel. As it turns out, you don't really notice much difference in the yarn. Perhaps that is because it is paired with the merino right now and my fingers only register the wool. The fabric does have an interesting stiffness however and I think it's going to be a trip to see what happens after it gets felted. It's hard to imagine that this tiny thread of merino is going to felt, so that is part of the adventure.

As an aside, you might notice that I am using straight needles here. This has to do with knitting with fine yarn (I mean fine as in very small diameter). I find that it's easier for me when the stitches all stay on the same needle and don't slide of onto a cable. The stitches that move onto the cable often seem to get smaller and tighter making it less easy to manipulate them. Combine that with the fact that I really love these short Brittany needles and you now know why my normal circs are stashed for this project.

A New Project in the Works

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My life of the last week hasn't been entirely about spinning. It's also been about working on my Jaywalker socks (I'm about to start the heel flap of the second sock -- I haven't weighed my remaining yarn, but I'm pretty sure I'm not going to face any shortages), my Melody shawl (the mammoth ball of lace weight finally seems to be getting smaller), and getting started on a new project for John, the Stained Glass scarf from Handknit Holidays.

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The Beginnings of a Stained Glass Scarf

In a surprising move for me, I am doing this project in exactly the colors shown in the book. Why? Well, the scarf is for the man of the house and when he said he liked the scarf (probably because a man is shown wearing the scarf in the book) and liked the colors of the scarf in the book (I believe that brown and green are considered manly, even when the green is somewhat light and interrupted by a light red color, which we will emphatically NOT refer to as pink), I decided not to tempt fate. 2 skeins of Ultramerino 4 from Webs and 2 skeins of Ultramerino 6 from Lettuce Knit in Canada later, I got this scarf cast on for him and underway.

What makes this scarf interesting is that it is a double knit scarf. That means that there are actually two layers of knitting and that you can see a stockinette pattern on each side of the scarf (at least for this scarf, you could have reverse stockinette on both sides or stockinette on one and reverse stockinette on the other, the point is that there are two layers of knitting).

This pattern comes with two different explanations of how to make the scarf. One that essentially uses two color knitting techniques so that you do a complete row each time you go across, and one called the "slip and slide" method, where you work across the row with one color, slide the knitting back to the beginning (clearly a circular needle is required for this) and work your way across with the second color. Since I am still not so very good at two color knitting, and definitely don't enjoy two color purling (and I have misplaced the handy tool I used for knitting the beret) I opted for the second method. Knitting this scarf is very easy. I've had a few issues with carrying the yarn in back or in front of the stitches I am slipping (the ones not in the color you are currently knitting with), but otherwise, it's a simple knit.

Which is not to say that you can avoid paying attention to it, or that it moves quickly. But there's definitely nothing that should be too technically challenging on this project, even if you're new to knitting. If you can knit and purl, don't mind having two balls of yarn hanging off your work and are comfortable with the slow pace this project will move in (since you essentially have to knit each row twice), then you can do this project.

So far it's getting a cautiously positive response from the intended recipient. He's a little off-put by the fact that the skeins of Ultramerino 4 that I got have more light red than they have green, but since the light red does not approach a baby pink color, and since the chocolate brown Ultramerino 6 is clearly a man-acceptable color and since this scarf clearly will be both soft and warm, I think he will likely accept it when it's finished. Hopefully it will still be cold when that happens!

Backyard Leaves in Winter

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I was going to post last night, with some pictures I took yesterday, but when I realized it was going to be 50 degrees and sunny here in Chicago this morning (an almost unheard of sort of thing for a day like January 12th) I decided that it would be a lot nicer to re-shoot my pictures in the sunlight. Well, a lot nicer for me, at least, since sunlight is not to be taken without appreciation in January in Chicago.

So, without further ado, may I introduce my most recent finished item: Annie Modesitt's Backyard Leaves Scarf from the Scarf Style book that came out last year.

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Backyard Leaves Scarf Enjoying Some Sunshine

This scarf was made with Brooks Farm Harmony (a mohair silk blend yarn) instead of the recommended Karabella yarn. Let me provide you with a little warning if you choose a similar yarn: mohair and silk have almost no elasticity. Thus, it's easy to get distorted stitches that don't look the way you want them to and won't spring back into position after dealing with a knit 3 together. Blocking helps a little bit, but it doesn't correct all the problems. Secondly, mohair and silk don't tend to poof up to fill the space like wool will, so textured patterns may not end up with the same texture as you expect them to have from the picture in the book. This isn't meant to dissuade anyone from either using this yarn or this pattern or both of them together-- instead, it's just meant to let you know that the choice of mohair rather than merino will have consequences. You will get more luster but less elasticity. It's all in what you like.

Harmony isn't a bad substitution from a gauge perspective. However, there is another caveat to this as well. I ended up getting the the right width dimensions, but significantly shorter length dimensions for one pattern unit. Thus, to get the desired length, I had to add two more pattern units to each scarf piece. Not really a big deal, since I had plenty of yarn, but it did surprise me a little bit. And it definitely is an example of why row gauge matters. Though, clearly, row gauge and final length in a scarf are mostly matters of personal taste.

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Leaf Detail

Ignore the color on this shot, it's more dreadfully off than the color in the first picture -- my camera finds reds and oranges to be difficult to deal with. This gives you an idea of what the lovely leaves come out to look like but, if you look at the stems in the picture, you can also see some of what I mean by wonky stitches. You can compare the way the mohair silk blend looks with a version done in a more compatible yarn, unblocked and blocked by sweet georgia if you want to see some of the differences.

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Leaf Point Detail

This picture actually has good color fidelity (it's actually one from my overcast photoshoot yesterday) I'm putting it up because I think it is really a shame that this beautiful detail isn't shown on the model in the book. I think Annie did an amazing job here of bringing this scarf to a fabulous end. The shaping is beautiful and easy to achieve.

Now for the question of the day. I still have some yarn left over from the project. I don't think it's enough for a hat or mittens (it would be nice if it was, because that would be the perfect complement to this project) but I think it might be enough for a pair of wrist warmers. However, because of the lack of elasticity in this yarn, I'm concerned that even if I made the wristwarmers with a stretchy ribbing, eventually they would just stretch out and be of no use to my mom. I don't want to make her something that's going to need to be blocked all the time -- or that's going to slip off at a bad time or be easy to lose. Any thoughts as to what might be a good use for this yarn? I could always just give the left over to mom so that she has something to play with. But I would love to hear a good creative suggestion.

P.S. Thanks for the nice response to my spinning yesterday, and to my sock query from the day before. I got a lot of helpful information and questions. I'll try to answer those tomorrow!

Halfway Through Raking Leaves

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The problem with pieces of knitting that are 5" wide and 39" long is that it is almost impossible to capture a picture for the web that makes the project look like anything more than a long strip of color.

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39" of Leaves

In this case, you get a long strip of color with a small teaser of how clever looking those leaves at the end are (I'll save a closeup for when the scarf is completed), but even I have to admit that it's not particularly awe inspiring. So I decided that I needed to get a few detail shots. But as always tend to find, it's hard to capture both color and texture of a yarn with a lot of sheen in the same picture.

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Backyard Leaves in Close to True Color

While this photo brings the color out well, most of the texture is lost. Some of this, I know, is due to adding the complexity of a variagated yarn to a somewhat subtle pattern. But most of it is due to the fact that this yarn reflects light like crazy when I use the flash, and in the room I'm taking the picture in, a flash is required for good color representation.

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Backyard Leaves in Close to True Texture

While this photo brings out the texture, you don't get a good reproduction of the color. You lose the soft reds that are an important component of the yarn. You do, however, get to see the texture of the leaves once the scarf has been blocked out (albeit with a bit of fuzziness -- taking a macro mode shot without a tripod and without flash in low light while trying to get ready for work is a recipe for somewhat fuzzy pictures).

I was relatively gentle on the blocking of this. I thought about stretching it a bit more aggressively, but felt that that would probably reduce what little elasticity is in this yarn, and would end up creating a more lacy texture than I wanted. I had no problem getting the right width (i.e. stitch count) relative to what was called for on this pattern, but I had to had 2 more pattern intervals to get to the desired length, so clearly Harmony does not deliver the suggested gauge for this pattern. But since it's a scarf and I had a huge hank of Harmony, this isn't really a big deal to me.

I'm still a bit surprised by how quickly this went. Especially when combined with a book or two from Audible. Maybe there's hope that I'll get the remaining half done before Christmas!

Backyard Leaves

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In my continuing quest to work beautiful things from my stash, I started on a scarf for my mother out of Brooks Farm "Harmony" (a silk, mohair blend yarn). This yarn is in perfect "Mom" colors. In fact, when I purchased the skein, I did so thinking that I would find something wonderful to make my mother for Christmas. But come Thanksgiving, I still didn't really know what I wanted to make out of 500 yards of luscious shiny soft warm yarn. So I did the most reasonable thing I could think of -- I let someone else make the decision. After a bit of pattern book browsing, Mom selected the "Backyard Leaves" scarf from Scarf Style, which I started working on immediately. (Just for the record, I want you all to know that I did give her the option of having the skein to do whatever she wanted with it, but she opted to have me knit her a scarf).

I've been intrigued by this scarf for a while, but really hadn't found just the right thing in my stash to make it with. I was also a little concerned that I would get bored/frustrated with what looked like a complicated pattern and get yet another thing started that I would almost certainly never finish. But I've been surprised by myself on this project. I actually find it quite engaging. I can't really do anything else but work on it when I am working on it, but watching the leaves take shape is almost as motivating as waiting for a new color or pattern come up while knitting with self-patterning sock yarn. I've promised myself to tackle at least one pattern interval per day. And so far, that's been no problem at all. Here we are, a week past Thanksgiving (the day I started) and I have seven repetitions all done.

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Backyard Leaves in Brooks Farm Harmony

Because the shiny properties of this yarn make it difficult to get good pictures with flash photography (and when the weather is as grey as it is right now in Chicago, flash photography is the only kind of indoor photography you get). The raised areas are the leaves. The color reproduction is reasonable, however. Beautiful fall maple leaf colors. I do think that the variagation does detract a little bit from the pattern, but I am hoping that when the time comes for blocking, the pattern will stand out a bit more. I may also do a few more intervals -- I've got 500 yards of Harmony to work with and I don't think my row gauge in the Harmony is the same as the Karabella yarn recommended. The point is for mom to have a warm, luxurious scarf. And if there's still left overs, maybe there will be some mittens or a hat in Mom's future as well -- I love knitting with the Harmony, and it would be terrible to let any of it go to waste!

A Third Ribbed Angel

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The weekend actually saw the completion of two projects. In addition to the lace scarf, I also finished a scarf for John. For anyone who has been following the story of my husband and what he will and won't wear as far as knitted items are concerned, this might come as something of a surprise. But becoming a public transportation commuter has changed his tune a little bit. Waiting for a bus or walking through the windy city corridors to work means that the husband gets quite a bit more time in the cold. So in addition to the headband (which he wishes were thicker) he also expressed interest in having a scarf to help keep the cold out.

Last year I had purchased 4 lovely little skeins of Lorna's Laces Angel (a lambswool and angora blend) in the Pewter colorway (Pewter is a lovely color, mostly solid grey with undertones of a mauvy-lavender color) -- a decidedly manly colorway meant to become a soft and warm but manly scarf. But he was so adamantly against the whole scarf concept that I sighed heavily (as I usually do when thwarted in the knitting realm) and gently tucked the lovely little skeins into my stash in the hopes that someday the right person or project would come along for them.

So you can imagine how surprised I was when the issue of scarves came up. I dug those 4 skeins out of the closet and did a quick poll to make sure that they were color and softness acceptable. When they passed that test, I quickly cast on for my favorite simple ribbed scarf

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K2 P2 Ribbed Scarf in Pewter Angel

If you want a quick but luxe gift for someone special, this scarf is literally one of those projects that you can finish in a day of dedicated knitting. Using a little bit larger needle than you normally would for a worsted weight yarn means that the angora has room to bloom and be soft and airy, but you don't end up with something too lacy to be worn by a picky guy. The Pewter colorway also, I think, works very well for this scarf. You can definitely see the subtle variagations, but they don't overwhelm the scarf -- in fact, I think, when combined with the ribbing, they help to create a very sophisticated texture. The final length of the scarf is just over 4 feet -- but once again, this works out well for the man in question, since he didn't want a long scarf that would fall past the bottom edge of his leather jacket when he tucked it inside, nor did he want a lot of extra bulk.

The scarf got it's first test drive today in the cold, windy Chicago November weather and got a thumb's up for warmth, softness and wearability. So even though it was kind of grey outside, I had a nice sunny feeling all day long.

Lace Wings

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In spite of a relatively long silence, I was busy getting some knitting done -- I just kept running out of time to blog about it or daylight hours to take pictures in. I hate watching it get dark at 5 pm. The first finished project of the holiday weekend was my cashmere lace scarf.

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Lace Wings Blocking

I probably should have blocked it into more of a triangle, but it really wanted to be wings, so I pinned it with a little curve in it's tips. Amazing how lace can go from a small raggy object to something large and elegant. Now you can really actually see what the lace pattern looks like!

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Up Close and Personal with Roman Stripe

Pretty, without being fussy.

It's long since been released from my blocking board, but the rainy miserable weather in Chicago has made it hard to get an action shot.

I've had a number of people ask after this pattern -- it's not my pattern, so I can't really give out the details on the internet, but the Roman Stripe lace can be found in Barbara Walker's Second Treasury. If you want the pattern (and the cashmere to go with it) you'll probably have to contact Hunt Valley Cashmere directly as the two were sold together as a kit.

Continuing on in my small project obsession, I present the most luxurious item that I am working on currently -- a triangular scarf made with Hunt Valley Cashmere (located in Marlyand, no website).

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Cashmere or Not, Unblocked Lace Always Looks Like an Unformed Blob

As Julie and I were getting close to leaving MS&W in May, we took one last pass through the main barn. I'd seen the Hunt Valley Cashmere booth before, but just assumed it would be far too expensive to buy enough to actually do anything with. But like all good knitters and fiber fiends, we were ultimately lured in by the siren call of soft fiber -- and because she had some really lovely red cashmere yarn out where we could see it.

Since it was the end of the show, I wasn't feeling like spending too much more money (not only that, but there wasn't much room left in my suitcase) so I opted for a small, one skein project in laceweight cream cashmere -- a triangular lace scarf/shawl that I thought would make a nice fall/winter/spring accent for warding off the chill. It's a little hard to make out from the photo, but the scarf uses the Roman Stripe pattern from Barbara Walker's Second Treasury of Knitting Patterns.

I always love triangular patterns because they lull you into thinking that they are going to be a quick knit at the beginning. This scarf is only 66 rows and I'm done with row 46. In fact, however, they are big teases! At row 47 I have 134 stitches. By row 66, I'm binding of 364. But I like the pattern so far -- it has a very clever edging (read one that I thought must have been a mistake in the instructions when I first started doing it) that I will try to get a closeup of and explain when I get to blocking it.

I find the yarn quite pleasant, too. It has the softness of cashmere, but the sheen of silk. And from my perspective, it's hard to put together fiber traits I would like better. Makes me want to get out the cashmere tussah silk blend roving that I have in my stash. Hmmm....

P.S. I was able to recover all but one post thanks to the magic of Google caching. Unfortunately, it's just not going to be possible for me to go back and put all the comments in. But it's nice to have been able to mostly recover ffrom a catastrophic problem that I should have been prepared for and wasn't. I knew there was a reason to let those Google-bots roam through my blog!

Melody's Beginnings

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In what is certainly a remarkable turn of events, I am launching straight into my second knitting post in a row. Since I (finally) finished my fusili pasta-like scarf, I figured I could cast on another scarfy project. So what did I do? I dug out the largest skein of laceweight yarn from last spring's Maryland Sheep and Wool and got started.

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256 Cast On Stitches and a Very Larg Ball of Laceweight Yarn

For some reason, I like to hand wind Morehouse Merino yarns into balls instead of creating a center pull ball with my swift and ball winder. Not sure why I like to do this. Certainly not time efficiency, since it took me over an hour to wind that ball from the quad-skein while watching TV on Friday night. John was impressed by the finished product... my, that's a might nice round ball you have there....

The ball is the prelude to a simple pattern called "Melody's Shawl" which is basically a tube knit in the round and then judiciously cut open to create the edges and the fringe. If you'd like to see another one of these shawls, you can take a look at the one Alison just finished. It can work as a scarf or a shawl. When I first saw it at MS&W it was the drape combined with the simplicity combined with the versitility that got my attention.

I figure it's going to be good TV knitting since I'm pretty good at knitting in circles, even in the dark. I'm just not good at creating them. Shortly after I took that picture and knit about 10 rows around, I discovered that I had twisted it somewhere and created a mobeus strip. Now, it occurs to me that that is unlikely to be fatal with this pattern, but since I found another error in it as well (amazing that I could make 2 mistakes knitting in the round on size 10 needles!) I ripped it all out and cast it on again, this time making sure that I didn't twist anything that wasn't supposed to be twisted. In the end, I think the shawl was protesting being on my Denise needles. Apparenly Morehouse Merino is a little too overly fond of bonding with the cable of the Denise needles making it a not so fun experience to knit it on them, especially not for as much yarn as is in that ball.

This is probably the last you'll see of Melody for a while. I don't imagine she's going to grow quickly (some of it depends on how much TV I expose myself to this fall). But my target is to have a Thanksgiving rollout, especially if we end up in Houston visiting my brother.

added later: you can find the pattern and yarn online here at the Morehouse website, if you want one of your own, or just want to see a better view of the garment.

Finished Ruffled Scarf

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Lest I create the impression that I have completely given up knitting and gone over to the spinning time, it seemed like the right time to finish up the almost ubitquitous ruffled scarf from Scarf Style that I have had sitting 3/4 finished since it got warm here in Chicago. Must have been the change in weather, but now I am all about making sure that I have some new neckwarmers to run around the city in.

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Ruffled Scarf

This scarf was knit in Lorna's Laces Lion and Lamb in Pewter, which I selected for the metallic shimmer and extra warmth provided by the silk. I used two skeins and got a scarf with a pretty reasonable length for a person of my height (5' 6"). I didn't do anything to deviate from the original pattern (except for the yarn substitution). Overall I liked the pattern, but it got pretty boring for me after a while. It was hard to turn it into TV knitting because I used the "knitting backward" technique in order to avoid having to turn it back and forth constantly for all the short rows.

Ah, the first true scarf of fall. Sweater season can't be far off now!

Finally, A Finished Knitted Item!

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Now I have real proof that I am actually still doing some knitting.

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The Blue Hawaiian Chinese Lace Scarf Completed

This scarf, which was knit from a roughly fingering weight two ply yarn made from 0.5 ounces of hand dyed Blue Faced Leicester, is about 29 inches long and about 3-3/4 inches wide. It was knit on US size 6 needles (4.0 mm). The final dimensions (after blocking) surprised me, because I wasn't thinking that I would get anything of useful length out 1/2 an ounce of of this weight yarn. But, in fact, it is enough to drape around my neck and hold in place with a pretty pin. So it may turn out to be a nice neck warmer in the winter.

I didn't really want this yarn to stripe. I've now learned that it is a lot easier to get a striped yarn than an unstriped one given the way I have dyed things so far. I need to do the dying process with much shorter color intervals so that the runs of one solid color are shorter. But I'm happy with the colors and the way they look together. Now I just need to perfect my dying process to get to what I want. I am now beginning to realize that I could probably create one set of four or five colors and just spend a whole afternoon doing variations on one color theme, looking for rovings that created looks that I really liked when spun and knit. This dying experiment is turning into a very interesting adventure for me!

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Chinese Lace in Detail

I like the way that this lace behaves almost like a cable. It has a lot more relief and texture than I was expecting it too. The gentle curvature along the edges is a nice touch, too. Because of the striping effect, this yarn and this pattern are not an ideal match. My hope is to come back to this pattern with a yarn with much more subtle color variations. Perhaps Blue Hawaiian version 2!

Almost Nothing

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Meager Showings

I have almost no crafty output to show for the weekend. I did make a little progress on both spinning up the Fall Leaves roving and knitting a bit more on the Chinese Lace scarf. But certainly not enough to account for -er- 4 days. Saturday started well enough -- a good shopping trip and my first ever spinning wheel experience with Julie. Julie, brought her Ashford Joy along for me to try out. I learned enough to realize that I need to get my own wheel set up. I can tell it will take me a little while before I can co-ordinate both hands and feet, and it's probably not fair to make any good friend sit through that painful process. I can learn co-ordination, but it's usually not something I like to expose anyone else to!

The rest of the weekend was an exercise in getting side tracked. Amazing how the process of getting organized often leads me to new levels of chaos. Usually this happens because as I clean and sort I come across things that I abandoned by accident. When I find these things again, I immediately want to engage with them. This weekend the sorting process involved a closet full of old and not-so-old computer games. I was able to part with most of this treasure trove (looking for a PC computer game? let me know... if I have the one you're looking for, and it's in the pile that is due to be re-located to somewhere else I'll send it to you for the cost of shipping) but I did come across one that I always meant to play through... Railroad Tycoon III ....

Yes, sadly, this game is almost 2 years old and I am just now getting around to playing it. Lucky for me these simulation type games don't age too badly. Did I tell you I had a thing for trains? Oh yes, I have a thing for trains....

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a lot of cargo to haul between Philadelphia and New York to support the war effort in WWII

P.S. to my Mom -- Happy Birthday!!!

Weekend Projects

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So what will my weekend look like from a fibery perspective?

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Fall Leaves Version 2

The flash makes the color look a little more extreme in the red zone, but this is still a pretty intense colorway. I'm getting kind of psyched to have all that red fiber moving through my fingers.

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Blue Hawaiian Chinese Lace

For my Blue Hawaiian yarn I wanted to find something that made me think of waves and moving water along a shore line. After a search of my Barbara Walker books the Second Treasury yielded up the Chinese Lace pattern. The movement of the yarn overs and decreases creates an undulating edge and there are lovely but subtle undulating motions in the lace as well. I only got through one interval, so it's hard to see the effect yet, but I have high hopes that it will make a nice, if very small scarf. I chose to cast the project onto US size 6 needles, so the stockinette has a little openness to it. It makes me happy to knit with this yarn. Even if I only end up with a longish swatch, I'll be happy.

I know that I keep bringing up the Barbara Walker books, but they really are the set that I go back to over and over when I am trying to come up with ideas for what to do with my yarn. If you only own a couple of knitting pattern books, her first and second volumes are the ones you should have. Simple black and white photos help you focus on the elements of the pattern instead of the color of the yarn. The first two books have all the instructions written out (the second two use charts), which is about the only downside to the books (I do better with symbols than with words when it comes to knittng charts).

Pot of Gold at the End of the Rainbow

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While there hasn't been a lot of knitting around here lately, there has been a little bit. Look what finally got to be blocked this weekend?

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5 Foot of Rainbow Scarf

This scarf is about .8 ounces of hand dyed BFL roving spun into a lace weight single. It ended up about 5 foot long and a little over 8" wide the way I blocked it. Pretty respectable length for a small amount of wool.

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Color Progression and Slightly Random Non-random Striping

Stretched out and basking in the sunshine, it occured to me that this scarf would also make a nice table or dresser runner. I am pleased by the fact that the garter stitch bars still stand out a bit after blocking. I am even more pleased by the fact that while the striping is not random in terms of color order, that the widths of the stripes are quite random. This is due to both my spinning and to the fact that I did not spin from exactly equal pieces of roving. I do like the effect.

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Scarf in the Breeze

A more classic, if slightly skewed, shot of the scarf just being a scarf. After blocking, the lace holds its shape quite well. No picture of me wearing this thing because, well, it's an 80 degree day here in Chicago. Not really wool scarf weather. Plus, the husband was out doing some yardwork.

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Closeup of the Blocked Lace. Nice Points.

No "look what I made" post would be complete without a closeup of the lace pattern after the project was blocked. I cast off the project in the loosest and sloppiest way that I could. Made a big difference in terms of being able to get nice shaping on the cast-off edge. I am not as pleased with the edges of the scarf. I should have added a few selvedge stitches to the edge. As the scarf gets worn, I doubt that will be something I notice much. So it doesn't really bother me too much.

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Back and Front of the Lace

The thing that turned out to be a pleasant surprise is that both the back and front of this scarf are attractive to look at. And actually don't look that different from each other unless you are quite close to the scarf. Another little benefit of blocking the bejeezus out of lace -- the difference between stockinette and reverse stocknette becomes somewhat blurred.

So now I can say that I have actually turned some of my handspun into something! How cool is that?

Watch for Slow Moving Rainbows

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BFL Rainbow Scarf

I think I've probably given the impression lately that almost no knitting is going on chez Keyboard Biologist right now. And this impression is actually closer to the truth than I would like it to be. Between the addition of spinning to my daily craft regimen and increased activity in my social life, I've not been terribly productive on the two pointy sticks and string front.

When I have been knitting, I've been working on the rainbow striped Pearl Barred Scallop scarf. It's growing slowly. It's surprising me a great deal just how much scarf I can get out of 1 ounce or so of finely spun yarn. When it's blocked out, each of those ridges is about 2" apart, so this could turn out to be a scarf with some real length to it. I really like the fact that so far the striping intervals are irregular enough that not much regular correlation with patterning featurs is occuring, which I think helps give it a more sophisticated look... assuming a bright rainbow patterned scarf can be considered sophisticated (I know it can never hope to be subtle!)

I do find myself increasingly enjoying working with my own handspun. The hard part now for me seems to be getting enough handspun to work with on a regular basis.

Pearl Barred Scallops

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So what did I finally decide on for my laceweight single?

I actually experimented with a couple of different patterns, including the seafoam pattern which had a drop stitch and a tilting block pattern that had alternating bias lines that I thought might get me my zig-zagging. No pictures because neither of them really got me to where I wanted to go.

Then I thought I might try the Pearl Barred Scallop pattern (from Barbara Walker's first treasury) along with a 4.0 mm needle. And I got exactly what I was looking for.

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Pearl Barred Scallops Unblocked
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Pearl Barred Scallops Blocked (Almost)

Curious about what it might look like close up?

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Pearl Barred Scallops with Bars Clearly Visible
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Pearl Barred, Almost Blocked

These two photos are of almost the same reason. Makes it pretty clear why blocking is a good thing -- or at least why it can make a significant difference.

It may not be the most complicated or sophisticated pattern (there is really only one pattern row, alternated with a simple purl row) but that actually makes it a more user-friendly project for me right now. And given how far I've gotten on only a couple of color cycles, it's clear to me that this scarf will be quite long when completed. It's 20" in the "blocked" state and I've got well over 2/3rds of the single left to go. Ahhhhh... 6 feet of rainbow zig-zaggy stripeyness. My wardrobe will never be the same!

And a little pseudo-blocking doesn't hurt either!

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Rainbow BFL and Horseshoe Lace Pattern

First of all, can you spot the obvious error in the lace pattern? (I hadn't noticed this at all before taking the picture).

While I do still like this pattern, and I don't dislike the pattern with my handspun yarn (gosh, I like saying that, "my handspun yarn"), this wasn't quite the effect I was looking for. I really wanted something that make the bands of color undulate a little more to create something more like a zig-zag or sine wave effect. Here the bands of color extend straight across.

I guess this definitely qualifies as a live and learn sort of event. Time to go back to the drawing board (or perhaps blocking board, as the case may be) and test out another idea.

From Single to Scarf

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Last night, for the first night in what seems like decades, I got a chance to go to the KIP at Letizia's on Division. My rainbow handpun and my copy of Barbara Walker's first edition came with me. While I discovered one thing that I already know -- that I cannot talk and knit lace at the same time -- I also settled on a pattern and got enough started to that I could see whether my striping idea was going to work out.

The pattern I chose with help from the folks at KIP (which will be completely unidentifyable from the picture below) was the HorseShoe Lace pattern (click here for the best example I could find quickly). I wanted something not too complicated, but something that undulated a little bit and would show off any striping that occurred.

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Rainbow BFL Handspun Gets an Identity in Lace

This is roughly one interval of color progression in my handspun and 4 intervals of the lace pattern. I've got 3 intervals of the lace unit across. For the sake of jogging my memory later on, I cast on 31 stitches (the pattern interval is 10 stitches + 1) on us size 7 (4.5 mm) needles. Why that size? Because I don't have bamboo circs size 6 or size 8 that I can find right now and I wanted to have a surface that wasn't too slippery.

I'm still trying to decide whether I think it's going to be garish or wonderful. The colors in the photo are pretty true (thanks to my trusty old Nikon CoolPix). I have a feeling that no matter what pattern I pick, it's going to be a little lost in the color since the colors are fairly saturated.

I know to make a real judgement, I should block it, but I'd love to hear opinions, suggestions, etc. Should I keep going? Should I turn back? Should I use a smaller needle? There's still plenty of time to revise this plan.

Transformation

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Bias Scarf Blocked and in the Clear Light of Morning

In contrast to that scrunchy bit of red fluff that appeared on my blog yesterday, here is the Morehouse Merino Bias Scarf after a good blocking. The actual length of this scarf is well over 6 feet now! Amazing how simple garter stitch can mysteriously become lace when this yarn is soaked and blocked. In my hands, Morehouse Merino lace weight yarn definitely grows significantly. It also, if this is possible, gets softer. It goes without saying that it also has remarkable drape.

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Garter Stitch "Lace" Before and After
Click on the Images for More Detail

Since I don't think it's very clear from the large scale pictures I took today and yesterday, these thumbnails link to images of the fabric before and after blocking. I'm hoping that this scarf will make for a nice, light summer accent piece -- a splash of color that doesn't carry too much extra warmth along with it. Hopefully a fitting piece for my first completed garment of the summer season!

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A Glass of Wine, a Knitting Magazine and Some Knitted Creations at Sunset

I love the lengthening days of summer. How nice to be able to enjoy watching the sun go down and the moon come up from my balcony while enjoying a glass of wine and a new knitting magazine. And still have enough light to take a few pictures of what I worked on while on my weekend break. The scarf is the completed bias scarf made out of Morehouse Merino variagated lace weight. What you see here now bears almost no resemeblance to what is currently blocking on my long floor runner.

The sock is the same poor sock that I have been working on for ages for John. At least now I am a few inches past the point where the heel will be inserted. Why is it that I find it so difficult to get excited about these socks, while I can practically turn out a whole sock in two days when they are for me? Good thing the husband is patient and he's not feeling the need for wool socks with the warm weather we are having here in Chicago.

Blog of the Day

Today I'm taking you all on a little trip down under -- at least from the point of view of North America -- to visit Karen of curiousweaver who hails from Old Bar, New South Wales in Australia. If there was one place I would go back to visit again in a heart beat, it would be Sydney and New South Wales. I spent a week there almost seven years ago (I can't even believe it's been that long!) and fell in love with the place. My only regret was not traveling too far beyond central Sydney (due to lack of time, not lack of interest). Karen also talks about another fiber endeavor that I am very interested in learning more about -- weaving. I'm absolutley fascinated by looms. Be sure to check out the rest of her site, including the lovely gallery and her articles on some traditional weaving techniques.

Just a Little Knitting

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With something of a maelstorm of other things rolling around me, I drew inward a little bith this weekend and found myself immersing myself in a good book, some white wine (a good choice for warm weather on my master bedroom balcony) and a little bit of knitting. I did cast on for the left front piece of Liberty, but found that it was a little too brain intensive (especially that tubular cast on) for a time when my mind is running in many different directions. Sometimes I like to listen to audio books when I knit, othertimes I just like to think through the challenges that face me. This weekend has definitel been a thinking time.

So I figured I needed something a little more simple to occupy my hands while I let my brain spin around and while I went to my niece's 2nd birthday party. I reached into my collection of goodies from MS&W and came up with this:

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Knitting on the Bias: A Little Scarf in Morehouse Merino Laceweight

This is a little bias scarf (I wish I could remember the pattern name, but it really is a straight-forward bias knit rectangle)is made out of one skein of Morehouse Merino Lace Weight in Indian Summer. My picture doesn't quite do the colors in this scarf justice (an outdoor natural light shot is definitely in order), but it's a nice collection of deep saturated reds, oranges and pinks with a shot of purple and brown for good measure. Very harvesty and very not my usual palette. But I am hoping I can get away with it for just a light and airy little scarf.

Morhouse Merino lace weight yarn is fast becoming my favorite lace weight. It is one of those yarns that I find soothing. I love the soft and wooly way if feels when I knit with it, and I love the irregular thickness of the yarn. It looks a little scrunchy right now, but once it's blocked, it will have a beautiful open weave and wonderful soft drape. I'd very much like to design a simple, drapey laceweight cover-up from this yarn in a soft, neutral color for cool summer evenings.

I hope this week will be better from a posting point of view. This week could be something of a photoblogging week.

P.S. Thank you to everyone who gave me suggestions for San Diego. I meant to write to you all personally, but it's not to be. In fact. if you leave a comment for me, or have left one recently, please know that I read them all (Movable Type sends them all to my inbox) and that they are all appreciated. I wish I could be more active with my blog right now, but there are some other things that I really can't post about on my blog that have to take precedence right now. Sometimes its difficult being a grown up.

Just a Little Twisted

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With the sunshine that came to Chicago this weekend I had the opportunity to demonstrate what the Lorna's Laces Lion and Lamb in Pewter really looks like.

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Half a Noodle

I'm just past the half-way point now, and have about 36" of scarf. So two skeins will get me a nice 6' scarf -- perfect for me. Of course, with as warm as it's been lately, I won't be wearing it until fall. Not that I'm complaining mind you. With that blizzardy weather going on in Colorado, I know better than to complain about the wonderful 70 degree weather we're having here right now. No sirree, Bob, I'll be completely content if I don't get to wear this scarf until fall rolls around.

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That Metallic Feeling: Pewter Lion and Lamb

The sunshine also makes it easy to see the gleam that comes off this yarn when you can see it in person. The silk really gives it an inner and outer radiance. I think it's the pink undertones that really give the color it's character.

Blog of the Day

By random chance, today's blog link also comes from British Columbia. Uli just finished a lovely sheepy sweater for her daughter (is it wrong for me to want a sweater with sheepies around the yoke?) and is doing her own little battle with Phil'Eponge. Nice to know that someone else out there is waging a little battle with this fun spongy stuff along with me!

Fusilli

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Over the weekend, we spent a lot of time with John's family celebrating the Easter holiday. This meant a lot of time in the car driving to various places and a good deal of time sitting comfortably waiting for the wonderful food to be prepared. It also meant that I had time to knit on my current take along project.

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Metalic Fusilli

This ruffly scarf, which reminds me of metalic Fusilli pasta, even unfinished, got a fair amount of attention while I worked on it. I realized that it's very hard to explain short rows when I don't speak much Polish and the person asking how it's done doesn't speak much English. Anyone out there know of a guide to knitting terms in Polish?

Metalic Ruffles

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This night's productivity was officially decimated as a result of the presence of Civilization III on my computer. Want to kill a lot of time with nothing to show for it? Civ III is definitely the way to go! It's been on my laptop for quite sometime, but I "remembered" it over the weekend and now it's been soaking up many of my free minutes.

In an effort to combat teeny tiny needle issues brought on by my Phil Eponge top, I decided to start one last scarf: Ruffles from everyone's favorite knitted scarf book. There's nothing new here that hasn't shown up on a 100 other blogs and a knit-a-long based on the same book, but I thought the scarf might look lovely and interesting when made out of Lorna's Laces Lion and Lamb in Pewter. This yarn, given its silk content has a very metallic quality to it. My hope is that the final scarf will also have a bit of a metalic sheen and, thus, a little more urban feel.

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Lorna's Ruffles

I'm not too far along, but I'm enjoying the short-rowing and practicing a little bit of knitting backwards so that I can avoid turning the scarf all over the place.

In completely unrelated news, one of my absolute favorite bloggers, Claudia, has moved her blog home to a new location. If you haven't peeked in on her world before, you're in for a treat! She spins, she knits, she loves orange and she's got a very excellent sense of humor! If you have, be sure and drop by and welcome her into her new space. Happy New Web Home, Claudia!

Not Much to Show for Myself

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Kidsilk Haze Scarf

Somethings definitely show up better on a dark background. I know this is a little bit of a cheat, since I showed the lace pattern yesterday, but I wanted to capture the completed project for posterity. The scarf turned out to be about 3 foot long and 6" wide -- just perfect for one trip around the neck.

Holey Moley

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Holey Scarf Detail

You'll just have to trust me that this is the bound off end of a completed scarf. I took a picture of it attached to my blocking board, but pale lavender scarf pinned to grey board equals blah photo. And I'll be the first to admit that even the close up isn't high drama. If you want to see a more artistic example, you can take a look here. The project comes from Last Minute Knitted Gifts and takes about 1/2 a skein of Kidsilk Haze. A better picture will show up here after the blocking is done and the daylight arrives.

Completing this scarf brings me to a nice milestone: I am all done with my "holiday" knitting. I also find myself at an interesting cross roads where I have only two sock projects and my rug project on the needles -- and my rug project is chugging along at a rather furious pace. I'm not exactly sure where to go next! Is there time for one more scarf made out of Lion and Lamb? The Ab Fab can't start until the rug is done (I consider both TV knitting projects).

Maybe it's time to do some spring knitting? I do have some lovely Phildar yarn for both myself and John waiting to become sweaters... if only I could actually make ribbing that looked nice. Lately I seem to have an inability to create ribbing where the stitch on the edge of the stockinette portion doesn't look distorted. I would like to knit John's sweater -- I recently washed the Phil'Onde sweater I made for myself last spring and not only did it wear well, but it's also softened up a bit -- and am actually considering making the pattern without the ribbing. I've been trying a few different things to get my ribbing to shape up, but so far nothing's working.

Sigil went to work today and had a very successful first day out over a black cashmere turtleneck (I suspect there is something karmically wrong about wearing a rustic wool sweater over cashmere, but it worked for me). I do think there's a zipper in Sigil's future, but it was a pleasant surprise to find that she'll probably be happy either way.

Red Lang Scarf

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Friday (at least early Friday morning) is for finishing today. After setting Sigil's second cuff out to block I spent the rest of my TV watching hours finishing up a simple ladder yarn scarf worked on US 13 (9.0 mm) needles. Sometimes a girl just needs some big color in her hands.

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Red Lang Tonga Scarf

I know, there's something not quite right about having a beautiful wooly sheep helping me show off a novelty yarn scarf with not one iota of natural fiber in it. But she didn't mind doing the photo shoot and her price is right, so I just couldn't keep her out.

This is my second to last gift scarf of the winter, and my last ladder yarn scarf for a while. As I say every time I make one, I love the look, but don't stay enraptured by the knitting.

And what showed up on my doorstep Wednesday night?

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Antique Ab Fab Kit

It's still in the plastic because I knew if I opened thew well-sealed bag, even just to take a look at the pattern, I would be utterly unable to distance myself from the Colinette siren song. I've told myself I can't even open the bag until the last of the gift scarves are finished.

Fortunately, I don't think the last scarf will take me too long. I've decided it's going to be a one skein Kid Silk Haze scarf modelled after one of the 2-4 hour patterns in Last Minute Knitted Gifts a book I treated myself too recently that has a lot of neat, quick ideas.

Muppet Scarf Redux

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I Was Trying to Dance

In the spirit of my favorite dancing rabbit, I was trying to dance to show my enthusiasm for my newest scarf, which I think could be related to her Muppet Pimp Coat. John and I still haven't quite got the dancing shots down, so for tonight, slightly off center is the best I can offer.

This simple scarf is all garter stitch. I cast on 30 stitches onto US 8 needles (5.0 mm) and just kept knitting until I had just enough left to bind off. That got me about 60" of scarf, which is completely respectable in my book -- it's always a pleasant surprise for me to get a wonderful treat scarf out of just one skein of yarn. I've decided to save the second skein to be cuffs and a collar for something special that needs fuzzy trim.

Promiscuous Knitting

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I have to offer a disclaimer to this post. It is being written under the influence of three absolutely wonderful Frontera Grill Blue Agave Margaritas. Others may disagree, but you really haven't lived until you've had a few of these. Preferably all in a row so that your blood alcohol level is suitably high and you feel no inhibitions at all when it comes to vigorously dancing around your office while playing Franz Ferdinand very loudly. Right now even my cats are looking at me like I am off my rocker. And maybe I am, but when it's February in Chicago, you've got to get your good vibes wherever you can find them.

Yesterday, Claudia suggested that I might not be able to keep faithful to Sigil. Oh, how right she is to question my fidelty. In fact, not only have I been a completely promiscuous knitter, I'm cheating on Sigil with the ultimate in flashy furry and divine: Colinette's Silky Chic (gifted to me a little while back by Emma, my fibery fairy godmother)

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Guilty Pleasures: Silky Chic Scarf

Yes, it's a garter stitch scarf. Really, it could be any stitch and you couldn't really tell. One of the beauties of eyelash yarn is the hiding of all mistakes. But when it comes to eyelash yarns, this is probably the ultimate. The only yarn that rivals Silky Chic for softness is Muench Touch Me. It truly is a wonderful tactile experience.

It's working up into a scarf that I can't wait to have, but it would also make over the top wonderful collar and cuffs for a sweater that was meant to have a little flash without being crazy. Silky Chic may be flashy, but it doesn't cross the border into flashy trashy. And you can't beat the yardage: there's 204 meters on one skein. So far I've got almost 4 foot of scarf and I've still got quite a bit f yarn left.

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Silky Chic Texture

When you see this yarn up close, it makes you wonder how many muppets were injured to create such wonderful stuff. Knit at the right density, you get a thick lush fabric that begs to be put close to your skin.

About the only thing I can say about this yarn that is not positive is that it emphatically does not like to be ripped. I know this from experience. I started out knitting a much wider scarf, but decided that I would rather have something longer and narrower. The ripping was downright painful because those little tendrils really like to bond with each other.

And since I am flat out of other good images, I will close this entry with a cat picture. Apparently Sydney has discovered that there's much comfort to be found in my favorite Longaberger basket.

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Feline Ingenuity

And yes, in a further demonstration that I am not a nice cat mommy, soon after snapping this picture, I chased him out of the basket and sent him on his way. I like my cats, but somethings aren't meant to be shared!

Call the Fringe Police

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A Little Too Blue Shifted But Still Pretty

Okay. I'm putting my crochet hook down and backing away from the scarf now. I didn't mean for any yarn to get hurt, officer, I just couldn't help myself. This scarf's straight edges were just calling out for a fringe.

Here's the latest entry in my parade of scarves. A Multidirectional Scarf made of Diakeito Diamusee, 5.0 mm Britanny Birch needles were the weapon of choice. This one is also destined for a trip to the post office to become a neck warmer for my grandmother on my dad's side. Hopefully I can get it there before it gets too warm to wear a scarf (those of you who have ever had to get something from me through the mail already know of my somewhat post-office phobic behavior).

There's not too much to say about Multidirectional scarves that hasn't already been said, but I will comment on the Diamusee. For a 100% wool yarn, it's divinely soft. Soft in a "if it came in a solid color I would make a sweater out of it and would try to wear it next to my skin" sort of way. It also has a very cushiony feel in the hand. The vibrant colors are very vibrant (unfortunately, that's hard to tell in this picture where my digital camera seems to have wanted to give everything a little too much blue cast) and the subtle colors are very subtle. It knits up easily, and in the three skeins that I had, I found no knots or unpleasant VM -- which is usually my only beef with Noro yarns like Kureyon and Silk Garden.

Probably the only drawbacks to this yarn are 1) it's not as easy to find as I might like and 2) it's not cheap stuff. A ball of this yarn will probably set you back about $12 and there's only about a 100 yards in the ball. But that was enough to get me a scarf just under 6" long, excluding the fringe.

What's next... well, I haven't quite gotten scarves out of my system yet and I'm also thinking about getting wild and crazy and designing my own sweater. But to be quite honest, I'm just not sure where I want to go. Nothing is just screaming my name right at the moment. But who knows. I have a whole weekend coming up and anything could happen.

Organic Alpaca Scarf

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You have no idea how hard it is to get a good picture of a grey scarf until you set out to do it. It seems that any amout of flash muddies almost all the detail, making it seem like a fuzzy grey blob, when, in fact, it has a lot more character and visual interest than that.

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Cottage Industry Organic Alpaca Scarf

This scarf, roughly 6" wide and not quite 6' long is entirely mistake stitch rib. I chose alpaca for this scarf because 1) it completely fits my aunt, who actually used to raise llamas many years ago and 2) because I wanted something that would stay where I put it after blocking. Alpaca, like silk and cotton, doesn't have a whole lot of memory. When you block it down, it does what you ask it too. So the blocking process took this scarf from looking like an ugly, poorly knit swatch of K1 P1 ribbing, so something that I think has much more panache and drapieness. Something that can do a little dressed up or a little dressed down and is always warm and snuggly.

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Mistake Stitch Rib, Blocked

This scarf also has some special significance. My aunt sent along some lovely Christmas gifts with my parents when they came to Chicago for Christmas. I hadn't been able to think of anything good to get for her. So when my mom walked in the house with a lovely organic dinner it put the kernel of an idea in my head. And I told my mom we needed to go yarn shopping.

Nina's is conveniently located near the Wicker Park post office. So while taking my sister-in-law to run another errand, mom and poked our heads into Nina's. And there, sitting on the shelf was the organic alpaca yarn. Mom and I decided that the grey would be the nicest and most practical color (the other options were white and brown) and I set off on finding the right pattern and texture for the yarn, which was no mean feat. It resisted every lacy attempt that I came at it with. Finally, while browsing though Barbara Walker's first book, I was reminded of the Mistake Stitch Ribbing. And away I went.

Shortly after buying the yarn, my grandmother passed away and I got that lovely handful of crochet hooks. When I got towards the end of the scarf and started to put on the fringe, I reached into the glass holding the hooks and pulled one out. So now I like to think that multiple generations of women on my mom's side were involve in this simple scarf. Soon I will take this scarf and send it on it's way from the Wicker Park post office (and probably pay Nina another visit, since I am in desperate need of 5.0 mm double points). And the project will have come full circle.

Merry Christmas Aunt Bette!

Gift Scarves

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It should probably come as no surprise to anyone that any woman who still has not taken down her Christmas tree (although her husband has unplugged the timer that turns on the lights every night, thus rendering it far less a holiday object and bringing it closer to the giant scratching post that my cats imagine it to be) is still working on a few last holiday presents.

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Gift Scarves

These two scarves are gifts for my aunt (who helped bring the Beezle into our life) and my grandmother on my dad's side. My mom and dad come from Ludington, Michigan. While we were there for the funeral, I got to see my other grandma and realized that I wanted to do something nice for her.

It is a credit to my father's love for his mother and his own crafy nature that he didn't object too much when I dragged him over to Ludington's LYS and asked him to help me pick out some yarn to make into a scarf for her. (It is one of those remarkable and pleasant twists of fate that Ludington just happens to have a very well stocked and friendly yarn store, Nautical Yarn -- the selection in this store rivals most of the stores we have in Chicago and they also have an excellent assortment of books and tools). Dad selected the Diakeito Diamusee in color 41, a 100% wool yarn with color progressions like a Noro yarn but much much softer than any straight Noro wool. Like buttah this stuff is. Perfect for a scarf. A Multidirectional Scarf, on 5 mm needles, in fact. I also picked up the lovely short Brittany needles there as well. (I probably shouldn't admit this, but I do think I like straight needles a little better for scarf projects than I do my circulars... it seems like it keeps the tension more even for me).

The grey scarf for my aunt doesn't look like much, but it's quite lovely in person. The yarn is a very lovely DK weight organic Alpaca. My aunt sent along an organic dinner for the holidays for my family and I, so this organic Peruvian alpaca yarn from Cottage Industry seemed like the perfect thing.

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Cottage Industry PureLuxury Organic Peruvian Alpaca

This yarn, which I purchased from Nina's, is really hard to do justice to in a photo. (As an aside, I have to say it's very nice to be a very short distance from a well stocked yarn store. Every time I go in there I find something else that I hadn't seen before anywhere else. When I was in buying the alpaca she also had a very lovely paper yarn from Habu textiles... as soon as I can think of something worthwhile to do with it, some of it will be coming home with me). It only comes in three natural alpaca colors -- white, brown and grey. It is also really hard to find a stitch that makes this yarn happy. The grey marl color makes almost every texture just disappear into the yarn. I must have swatched this stuff 5 or 6 times before opting for a mistake rib stitch on 4.5 mm needles. I chose bigger needles than I normally would have for the yarn weight in the hopes of adding some drapey-ness to the final product, which I will block out a bit so that the texture does get a little more sunshine.

Finally, thanks for all the compliments on Cerys. They are much appreciated! Chery asked what project I'll be tackling next. And to be honest I don't really have a good answer for that one. A part of me wants to tackle another sweater that I can wear a bit before it gets too warm (hard to imagine that now given the current weather in Chicago). And I'm actually getting itchy to design my own sweater from start to finish using something that's been residing in my stash for awhile. The other part of me wants to dive into a bunch of little things. After seeing Becky's nifty opera glove-length arm warmers I totally want a pair of those. And it seems like I have a thousand wonderful skeins of yarn waiting to become a thousand wonderful scarves. And a girl can never have enough socks... or maybe it's time to do some felting again...

Holiday Break

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With a whole week and a half without having to do much related to my day job, you would have thought that I could have gotten a good deal of knitting accomplished. I could have finished up Fitzgerald. I could have turned my Shimmer 5 from Margot into Cerys. Maybe I could finish up one of the lingering pairs of socks in my side bar.

Heh. The answer to all of that would be, uh, no. Although I bought Neverwinter Nights almost 2 years ago when it first came out, I never got around to finishing it. Guess what this role playing junkie was spending most of her past week doing?*

Well, I actually did a few other things. With my whole family in town, I couldn't just spend the entire week in front of my computer. In addition to heading out to the Spice House (just three words for you: Lavendar Vanilla Sugar), I also got one small knitting project started and finished up: my scarf in the Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk that I bought from Knitting Workshop a while back.

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The Sum Total of my Holiday Knitting

Two skeins gets you about 5 feet by 4 inches in the K3 P2 rib that makes up the Lace Rib Pattern. I pulled the pattern stitch out of Barbara Walker's A Treasury of Knitting Patterns, but after knitting a few rows, it occurred to me that I had seen this stitch pattern somewhere before.

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Lace Rib Pattern Stitch

I think it's a little easier to see the actual pattern in the Alpaca Silk than it was in the Bergamo. It's certainly a nice way to spice up a little ribbing without making it to challenging.

The Alpaca Silk is very easy and pleasant to knit with and I did very nicely on the US Size 10.5 needles that I chose. It think it has lovely stitch definition and it has that little bit of shine that gives the scarf a little something special. Unfortunately, the alpaca also gives it a little something itchy... a great disappointment for me. I suspect that this would not be a problem for most other people. I'm just very sensitive to that sort of thing.

So in the spirit of my role playing computer game holiday**, I created a little picture of me and the scarf (my usual photographer is fighting off a bit of a flu bug).

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Level 5 Knitting Magic User casts "Remove Itching" on Alpaca Silk Scarf

Unforutnately, the scarf made it's saving throw and I'm all out of scrolls for that spell. Looks like this scarf is going to require a turtleneck. Guess I'll just have to get out my +5 Needles of Scarf Knitting and start something new.***

*Not only that, but I actually sent my husband out on an errand to find the expansion packs for the game while he was out shopping for New Year's day dinner... the old D&D junkie is back...

**Whenever I play these games, I usually play magic users of some kind. My current character is a half-elf sorcerer.

***Apologies to those for whom this makes no sense. My insanity will only be temporary. To those of you for whom it does make sense, you can share your special knitting weapons, armor and spells in the comments if you want to play along.

A big thank you to whomever out there nominated me for this. I don't expect to win anything, but it means a lot to me that someone out there took the time to nominate me. Y'all are very nice folks!

Knitted Mark of Zorro

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Now, I do think it is likely that if Zorro were to knit, he would probably not knit for children and he would certainly not knit with pastel blue funky baby novelty yarn. Nonetheless, I present the second knitted gift I've made for the holiday (there will be a third gift, but I don't need it until after the holidays are over):

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Filatura di Crosa Bon Bon Scarf

This little scarf is almost exactly 36" (I think that will be perfect for the 18 month-old that it's for and maybe give her another year or two) and is just over 3" wide. It's made out of Filatura di Crosa Bon Bon, color 12 (which I mentioned briefly here) -- a very funky novelty yarn with tufts at regular intervals. It's 100% polyamide and machine washable, so even though it has an impractical looking texture, I think it should still be a mother-friendly gift to give a child.

The pattern is a very simple one:

Cast on 14 stitches on US 10 needles.

Knit 2 rows
Knit 1 row
Purl 1 row
Knit 1 row
Purl 1 row

Repeat this unit until you have enough yarn left to knit 2 more rows and bind off... then knit 2 more rows and bind-off knitwise. Basically, you are alternating 2 rows of garter stitch with 4 rows of stockinette -- a pattern I chose so that I could minimize any curling that the stockinette wanted to do. In a wool yarn, I probably would have needed more garter stitch, but in this yarn, which doesn't move much from where you put it, the garter stitch balance is fine.

Up close, the texture looks like this:

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Bon Bon Scarf Up Close

You can see the garter stitch ridges framing an interval of stockinette. I chose not to do all garter stitch A) because I wanted as long a scarf as possible out of 99 yards and B) because I think the tufty things come out better on stockinette.

While I am not going to run out and buy any more of this yarn (it's not a real blast to knit with for the same reason that it makes a neat texture) I do like the fact that the tufty bits make it so that both the "right" side and the "wrong" side of the scarf look more or less the same or are at least equally nice to look at.

Chuckle... I just have to add an aside here that I think it is a testament to my wordiness that I can create so much hypertext about a simple scarf for a baby

And on an unrelated note... a front view of "Cerys" the purple Point 5 sweater for Claudia:

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Cerys From the Front

Not the best picture, but the only other picture they provide. Looking at the pattern, I think the shaping is almost the same as Margot's, there's just a few places that the sweaters differ (neckline, cuffs, zipper and bottom edging). I do think it's the sweater that my Shimmer 5 was meant to be though. Much ripping will ensue as soon as I have the chance to get back to what will only briefly be Margot. Looks like I am going to get my money's worth out of those 15 mm tree trunks that I bought!

I almost forgot! Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it this weekend, and for the rest of you, a peaceful and happy weekend!

The First Gift of the Christmas Season

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Tess Designer Yarns Merino/Angora Blend Mistake-Stitch Rib Scarf

I thought this scarf deserved a daylight shot. This scarf is made in a 50/50 merino/angora blend dyed "Lime Splash" by Tess Designer Yarns. The scarf, in mistake stitch rib, is about 2.5" wide and a little over 6 foot long. For the first time in the history of my knitting, I am considering blocking a scarf, just to get everything to line up and be perfect when it comes out of its box for my sister-in-law.

I am thinking that I may need one of my own... but maybe instead of merino and angora mine will be out of some of Axelle's beautifully hand-dyed cashmere.

And in answer to some of the questions left in my comments yesterday -- yep, I am a U of Chicago grad. I was there from 91-97. And Buffalo? Most definitely. I was born there, and lived there until I was four. And is #9 really true? Oh yes, it most definitely is! We met in 1996 and were married in 1998. I know a good deal when I see one!

A is for Angora

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I've put aside my sweater knitting for a little while to get another Christmas taken care of. When I was in Maryland last spring, I found a lovely Merino/Angora blend in a lovely subtle colorway that I thought would be perfect for my sister-in-law. She had made nice comments about one of the Lorna's Laces Angel scarves that I made last year, and I decided that if I could find something in the blues and greens and purples that she liked, that I would make her an Angora scarf for the next Christmas.

It seems like every time I tackle a variagated yarn on my own, it takes me a while to find the right stitch to make it happy. This experience was no different. I wanted something that would be trendy, but not so trendy as to be something that she wouldn't want to see next year. I tried a drop stitch, purse stitch, and a variety of widths. None of them did it for me.

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Tess Designer Yarns Merino and Angora

I settled on a a mistake rib stitch, not too narrow, not too wide. I'm hoping that I'll be able to get at least 6' of scarf, and my sister-in-law will be able to wrap it around her neck a few times. I think the pooling worked out well at the width I chose. I love the way the dark purple and green are pooling in a zig zag fashion.

This yarn is really lovely to work with, although it does seem to be shedding a little bit. I think the merino/angora blend of this yarn is actually a little softer than the lamb's wool/angora blend in Angel. Makes me wish that I'd gotten a little bit for myself, as well. Good thing I have something special coming soon that I can used to add to my own scarf collection with.

Another Little Scarf

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If you want a quick and simple but lovely project for a Saturday afternoon, the Bow-knot Scarf is a good pick.

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Bow-knot in Tahoe
This is one of the few patterns that I have ever worked more than once (the others being a simple Eros scarf and my standard sock pattern -- I guess the moral of the story is that anything I do more than once needs to be mostly mindless knitting). It's a nice pattern, geared for a worsted weight yarn, but it's simple enough that it can be adjusted without too much difficulty so that almost any weight yarn could be an option. I think it's also one of those patterns that even a very beginning knitter can achieve great results with, given that it's almost entirely worked in garter stitch.

This project was worked on US size 7 needles (4.5 mm) with Lorna's Laces Lion and Lamb in Tahoe (left over from Clapotis). I think, without a doubt, that one skein of Lion and Lamb could yield two of these lovely little neck warmers. The last one of these that I made took just under one skein of Silk Garden.

Because this little scarf goes easily into the opening of almost any jacket, is light and soft and very skin friendly, it's a good bet that I will probably actually wear it more often than I wear Clapotis. And it's also a good bet that I will probably make another one. I just need to find some more delicious yarn to work with!

MultiDirectional Scarf Takes the Stage

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Is my weekend over already? It hardly seems possible! But yet it is. Good thing it was a good weekend over all. It started with some very good vibes. Diva made her first appearance at work and received a number of very nice comments -- even from people who don't usually notice my knitwear. She came off immediately after I got home (knitted lace + cats = too many possible bad outcomes), but she'll be coming out soon again. John and I see our first opera of the season, Aida, this coming Friday. Diva's already got her ticket and will be paired with a nice black skirt.

It's been a long time since I've been to the Lyric. The last time I went was during graduate school. Three of us scraped together some cash and treated ourselves to an opera series. It was a nice excuse to get dressed up and immerse ourselves completely in something entirely different from our day-to-day lives. This weekend, while cleaning out an old jewelry box, I came across a ticket from the Lyric from the last time I saw Aida in 1995. Ticket price? $17. Location? Nosebleed section. This year I will be on the main floor, near the back but towards the center. It's going to be a real treat for me going there for the first time with John.

I was computerless most of Saturday as John worked to help get my new laptop in place as my primary computer. This involved a great deal of drive juggling, software installing and a little bit of cursing, but by Sunday morning I was in business. I took advantage of my computer-free time to get my MultiDirectional Scarf in Diakeito Diadomina #301 finished. Here's the result:


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Diadominated Multidirectional Scarf
Click Here for a Fringe Closeup

Julie and I were shopping today and it was from her (via the Gap) that I learned that "icy pastels" are the hot thing for winter. If that is the case, then I have inadvertantly created myself a fashionable scarf. Of course, this weekend the weather was fabulous and absolutely not scarfy, so I didn't get to try it out properly, but I have no doubt that it won't be too long until I do. I'm particularly proud of my little fringing expedition. I don't normally like to fringe things, but in this case the scarf seemed a little naked without it.

I probably would have blocked it, but, well, ultimately it's a garter stitch scarf. To paraphrase and subtly modify the immortal words of my father "Blocking? We don't need no steenking blocking!"

This scarf, knit on US 7's/4.5mm AddiTurbos, took almost exactly 3 skeins of Diadomina, including the fringe, and was about 6' long before the fringe was added. It's nice and soft to the touch, though I probably won't be able to wear it directly against my skin (I love the mohair, but it doesn't love me). This is a great project if you are interested in learning how short rows work -- a subject also covered in this quarter's INKnitters (which, by the way, I would highly recommend for the technique articles alone, and the cover sweater isn't too bad, either). Not only that, it's also an easy project, and one that is easy to modify to suit your personal tastes. Except for the first and last triangles, you don't have to look at the instructions at all and you can make your scarf to any width and pretty much use almost any yarn or combination of yarns that you like.

Diadomina Multidirectional Scarf

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Diadomina Multidirectional Scarf in Colorway #301
Click for a Close Up

After finishing my first skein of Diakeito Diadomina I decided that this lovely soft colorway deserved its own post. Diadomina is a blend yarn -- 50% wool, 21% mohair and 29% nylon. There is a central fiber that is wrapped with a finer thread. The color is carried on both the core fiber and the wrapped fiber. When knitted, this results in something of a heathery effect (click on the link below the image to get a closeup). The skeins have pretty decent yardage, too -- they are 40 g and 122 yards and I definitely got over 24" towards my scarf on the first skein. Diadomina is definitely not a budget yarn -- but at least you can get a scarf out of a reasonable number of skeins.

My first attempt and Karen Baumer's pattern involved Noro Silk Garden. I got through the first skein and a little bit into the second skein when I just didn't like the way it was turning out. Some of this had to do with a mis-executed SSK decrease, but the primary reason that the project got abandoned was because I just couldn't see myself wanting to wear that scarf against my skin.

The Diadomina is much softer. I'm knitting it on US 7 (4.5 mm) and the scarf is about 5" wide. Its perfect knitting for relaxing -- it doesn't take much brain power to do and the yarn is soft and easy to work, so it doesn't max out my elbow and wrist joints like my Kureyon and Shinano projects (I don't know why, but I am finding these yarns to be a lot harder on my joints than I would have expected.). Best of all, I am looking forward to wearing it -- the colors fit with my existing wardrobe and the Diadomina should be very skin friendly.

It Doesn't Seem Like Much....

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This picture is really going to seem like a cheat. It looks almost the same as the last picture of Fitzgerald. In fact, it is almost the same, except for the inch at the top and the bind off. But it was such a large expanse of knitting, I just have to document meeting the back completion milestone.

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Finished Back of Fitzgerald

Will I set sail for Sleeve Island next? Maybe. It depends on how many kir royale are waiting for me when I get there with Butterfly.

I seem to be in one of those moods where I just can't keep myself from starting new projects. As a gesture of appreciation to all those who understand my strange need to show that I got that extra inch of Fitzgerald finished, I thought I would show off the other projects that I've been working on.

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Clapotis in Tahoe and a Multidirectional Scarf in Diadomina

I've been in a scarfy mood lately. I'm about 6 rows away from letting those stitches drop in my Clapotis. Knitting with the Lion and Lamb really does make me a happy knitting camper. So incredibly soft. And no unpleasant color pooling yet. It's a little disturbing how much I am looking forward to letting those stitches drop out. The acts of both creation and destruction in one garment.

I think the Diadomina is going to give some of my Noro yarn a run for its money. It is so incredibly soft and I love the subtle sparkly shimmer in the yarn. It wasn't until I put it next to Clapotis that I realized that I have an unnatural attraction to purple, blue and green lately.

Today is the last day to send me answers to my "Where in the World..." contest. Don't miss out on your chance to snag some fun sock yarn!

Morhouse Merino Belladonna Scarf

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First off -- thank you all for the comments about the Phil'Onde pullover. I don't think I've ever gotten so much positive feedback on a sweater before. I feel a bit like Sally Field. This sweater does make me quite happy. It's going to get its first outing when I arrive in San Francisco at the end of the week. I'm saving it as a special treat to myself for the trip out.

After the Phil'Onde pullover, my next little finished item seems a bit anti-climactic. It was a project I started to give myself a little relief from all the ribbing going on with the Phil'Onde project and Audrey. It also went to class with me and just generally became my travelling project since I didn't feel like dealing with socks.

On Saturday and Sunday I spent a lot of hours in the car travelling back and forth to Stockton (near Galena), IL for a friend's wedding. That proved to be an excellent opportunity to finish up another quick and easy project, the Belladonna Scarf kit that I purchased from the Morehouse Merino booth when I was at Maryland Sheep and Wool.

Pretty amaxing what you can do with some water and some pins. This scarf went from barely extending all the way around my shoulders to practically a full sized shawl -- it's about 2 feet deep and a little over 4 foot wide. Garter stitch coupled with lace weight wool is neat stuff that way. I did a full soak in Eucalan with this scarf in hopes that it would soften a bit. It most definitely did! I'm also happy to report that it didn't bleed at all.

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Amazing What A Little Blocking Will Do

The photo was taken in the morning, but it was pretty overcast. The colors refuse to do what I would like them to. Those areas that look almost pink are actually regions of Shreky green and purple running together. You can see a swatch that is a little truer to the colors below:

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Morehouse Merino Lace Weight Up Close

So what am I working on now? Well, I'm going to switch back to socks now for my travelling projects since I have several pairs started that need to be finished up. As for a bigger project, I think it's time to give Audrey my full attention. Audrey also has the benefit of being very happy on my Denise needles, so it's a good project for the plane ride to San Francisco and back.

The rest of this week is going to be rather un-knitful. With my project due date coming up quickly, most of my evening time is going to be devoted to getting things up and working. It also means that I'm probably not going to be very good at answering my email quickly, although I will try to do what I can. I'll be sharing my progress on the project this week, complete with screen shots so that I can get feedback on the direction I'm going in.

A number of very kind people have volunteered to beta test for me. I'm not quite ready for that yet, but I will definitely want some help with that when I get a little farther along.

Not Quite Onde Mark

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Now I have two seamed sleeves for my Phil'Onde pullover, but it still doesn't give me much to show off until I get those sleeves attached to the body. While I don't mind knitting in public, I'm not very good at finishing in public. Thus, I worked on my Morhouse Merino Belladonna scarf project while hanging out with the largest collection of knit-nighters than I've ever seen at Letizia's before. Wonderful new folks and and old friends abounded. And I got to meet Jen (who used to have the Moving Hands blog) who was back from Japan. Very cool.

I'm making good progress on the scarf, and it is a delightfully easy project.

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Morehouse Merino Belladonna Scarf

Somehow, this scarf seems very appropriate to accompany the opening of Shrek 2 this weekend.

This weekend is going to be one of weddings, finishing and programming. Hopefully I'll have good things to show on Monday.

P.S. Thank you to everyone who left feed back on my little program! I may take some of you volunteering to beta test up on your offer, but I want to make sure that it behaves itself before I let it loose. My project is due in 3 weeks, so expect my first release during the first part of June!

Something Simple

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Thank you to everyone with spinning wheel book and repair suggestions. I'll definitely be looking into a number of them. I'm actually kind of looking forward to making this wheel work, and then actually seeing if I can figure out how to use it to make yarn. Something tells me another great adventure and stash adding opportunity has arrived.

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Morehouse Merino Belladonna Scarf

I was somewhere between my Phil'Onde sweater sleeve and my Audrey sleeve when I realized almost all of my projects involved ribbing. Now, I've got nothing against ribbing. Lately, I've realized that it's quite flattering for me. But I just can't knit only on projects with ribbing. And I really did want to play with some of my new yarn from Maryland Sheep and Wool. One of the project patterns that came from Morehouse Merino was a very simple garter stitch scarf using a laceweight multi-color yarn. Garter stitch on reasonably big needles seemed like the perfect antidote to my ribbing overdose.

The colors are a little funky because the light was just low enough outside after today's rainstorm to set off my camera's flash. The yarn really doesn't have any yellow in it. Anything that looks like yellow should really be in the Shrek-y green range. Like my fancy schmancy yarn bra? I love zip-lock bags. They are the perfect storage for lace weight and sock weight yarns.

I'm happy with the project so far. The colors remind me of a wildflower meadow, so the scarf has a very summery happy quality. I'm constantly surprised by how much I like knitting with lace weight yarn. The yarn is a little rough for what I expect from Merino. I'm hoping that once I finish the scarf and give it a little Eucalan bath and blocking it will loosen up and soften up a bit. I'm a little over halfway through with the first half of the scarf. I like how this scarf is constructed. After you get to the middle you start decreasing -- gives me the illusion of running downhill quickly after I get to the mountain top.

Happy Friday to All!

Last Scarf of the Season

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I forgot to mention that I was working on this little number. It's construction is not particularly remarkable. Cast on 24 stitches. Knit in K2P2 rib for the entirety of the scarf. Bind Off. What's remarkable about it is the yarn that it is made out of: Bulky Weight Misti Alpaca.

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Misti Alpaca Bulky Scarf in K2P2 Rib

I did this scarf on US Size 13 needles so that the fabric would be reasonably dense but the yarn would still get to show off its spring and softness. This is just one of the most "cushy" yarns I've ever laid my hands on. It's probably the softest yarn I've ever knit with. The scarf ended up measuring about 5" wide and about 60" long and I used 2 skeins of yarn. Since the full project shot doesn't really show off the color or texture very well, I thought I'd also give the yarn a little closeup:

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Misti Marl Swatch

The color in this photo is pretty bang on. The yarn is a twist of charcoal and teal fibers (the colorway is called "charcoal/pine moulinette"). I wish I had a "virtual yarn petting" plug in so that everyone could feel the swatch, too. It's very luxe feeling. I got this wonderful stuff from ThreadBear, and I hear they have a whole range of yarns from Misti now. I'm hoping I can get my hands on some laceweight...

But the big event of the weekend was taking a quick trip up to the Milwaukee area for the Ruhama's Yarn and Needlepoint big sale. The first time I went to Ruhama's, I went with Julie, and the store left a lovely and huge impression. I've been looking for another excuse to go back. This trip I took with Bonne Marie. The store itself is pretty overwhelming in terms of selection and I don't think I've ever seen so many people in a yarn store. And, of course, I didn't come home empty handed...

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Everything's Coming up Teal

Can you guess what my current color theme is? It seems like every where I go I pick up teal and green and aqua colored yarns. The goodies in the above photo are just part of what I acquired -- I also have two bags of Jamieson's Bulky Soft Shetland that are going to be stashed for Aran sweater knitting for next fall.

I've heard/read great things about the Felted Tweed. Since it was 30% off, I snapped some up hoping that I can substitute it for Yorkshire Tweed 4-ply for the lacy scarf in the Yorkshire Fable book.

What's the All Season's Cotton for? Swatching for Rogue! I'd noticed when I was searching for Aran weight yarns that ASC fell right into the right gauge range, but I was worried about how it cabled. Bonne Marie assures me that it cables beautifully. That lovely teal color is being discontinued (I looked it up with my web-enabled mobile phone while at Ruhama's... yes, I am a geek) so I got a few skeins to play with and then ran back home to order a couple of bags from Colourway. I'm really excited about the prospect about having a hoodie pullover that could see some summer wear. I love wool, but I think I'm pretty much done knitting heavy wool sweaters for the year.

Speaking of heavy wool sweaters... I wore Banff into the office on Friday. I think the Manos is going to get fuzzy quickly -- but that is what sweater shavers are for. It's definitely not a bad indoor sweater. The yarn is heavy, but the big sleeves let a lot of cool air funnel in, so it provides a good balance. Were I to do the sweater again, I would probably knit it at a little tighter gauge and re-work the math so that it came out right to give me a little more durable sweater.

Baltic Sea Scarf

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I'm not very good at working on complicated things in the dark. Since ground zero for the SuperBowl watching experience was our home theatre, and the projector experience doesn't work so well with a lot of lights on, I opted to finish up a simple project that I've been working on for a little while now: a K2 P2 ribbed scarf in Lorna's Laces Angel in the colourway Baltic Sea.

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Baltic Sea Angel Scarf

This scarf has a masculine recipient, hence the preponderance of greys and greens. From the picture it looks a little muddy, but up close the colors come out a little better and you can see the hints of blue and rose and orange that also are part of the mix.

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Colors of Baltic Sea

I sewed the ends in tonight, so the project is officially finished and ready for the recipient who shall not be named on this blog at this time.

I received a nice box from the ThreadBears last week. Seven hanks of Manos del Uruguay in the colorway called "Thistle". This yarn is a deep purply red. Rob went to great trouble to help me select both the color and the skeins I received. I've decided that I'm just not going to knit from two skeins at the same time, so I am pretty pleased that these seven skeins have more or less the same depth of color and light and dark zones. Here they are, stretched out for inspection:

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Manos del Uruguay, "Thistle"

Yep, I know, they don't all look very similar from this picture, but if you rotate them around and look at them from more than one direction, they do look close to each other. So I engaged my trusty ball winder and swift and got cracking on a swatch on size 10 needles.

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Manos Thistle Swatch for Banff

I was really expecting to have to swatch more than once, but I got gauge on the first go, which seems like a good omen to me. After knitting the Bonkers yarn to boardlike density, it feels wonderful to be knitting something to a looser gauge. This yarn is very soft. I think it's going to knit up into a wonderful sweater. A big thanks to Heidi and Jessica who shared their experiences and got me inspired to do Banff in this yarn.

Watch out ribbing, here I come!

Unexpected Angels

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I have a hard time doing anything more than once. I don't like to go back and re-read a book (at least if I can remember the ending) or re-watch a movie or re-play a computer game. When I vacation, I don't like going back to the same place all the time. When I was in the lab, after I had one successful experiment that I knew I had executed well, it was always a chore to make myself do it the second and third times it needed to be done to make sure that it was reproduceable.

I joke that I have a TV sitcom attention span... which is probably why I don't have a stunning collection of aran sweaters right now.

The same thing applies to knitting. Not only do I usually not like to knit the same thing more than once, I also tend to not like to use the same yarn more than once. The major exceptions to this rule are Cascade220 (although I don't think I've ever used the same color twice) and Opal and Regia sock yarns (once again, same yarn, but never the same pattern).

And then there's Angel.

I'm on my third batch of Lorna's Laces Angel -- and I don't think it will be my last. This time I'm working in the Baltic Sea colorway.

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Lorna's Laces Angel in Baltic Sea

Baltic Sea is dyed a little differently than Oceanside or Aslan where you get bands of color at different places (and fairly regular intervals) in the skein. It is much more random looking when unskeined. One thing that I love about hand dyed yarns is that they always surprise me. I still can't predict how a skein of Koigu will look in a sock. When I looked at this Angel in the skein it said to me "dove grey with a hint of green and blue". When I knit it up, it said "forest green and a soft rusty orange on a soft grey field". I'm quite taken with it.

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Not What I Expected

Not only am I knitting with my third batch of Angel, I am also making my second K2P2 ribbed scarf in it. It's a perfect TV project -- knits up fast but doesn't have to have too much attention. I've knit up two of the four skeins I bought as interludes to knitting the RDP.

Who is this scarf for? Well, not for me. It's final home will have to remain a mystery for a while. Will I be ordering more Angel? Very likely so. It makes such a nice luxurious special gift. And I love the feel of it. I'd love to have a sweater out of it, but I've also been thinking that it would make a lovely ruffly cuff on a sweater (some of us are not brave enough to take on ruffles in Kid Silk Haze).

Wednesday is "date night" for John and I, so I didn't get too much knitting done (instead I was out eating the most delightful gnocchi at a local upscale Italian place, Fortunato). But I did manage to creep past the armhole shaping on the RDP. 13 inches down, 6 inches to go before the back is finished.

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RDP Progress

Since the swatch knitted up a lot like a board, I decided to block the swatch to see if it softened up. I am pleased to say that a little wet blocking did wonders for softening the fabric up a little bit, at least for the swatch. Hopefully the sweater will be the same way.

Warm and Toasty

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Rowan Polar Scarf for Dad

This scarf is strategically arranged to hide the ends that have yet to be woven in. I finished it about 15 minutes ago and I'm just too tired to deal with careful end placement so it will have to wait for tomorrow. But I like the scarf a lot. If it didn't have a very worthy recipient, you can bet I'd be thinking about keeping it for myself.

This project is made of up of three skeins of Rowan Polar. Two of the dark blue/grey color (which comes out olivey in the unnatural light of my office at night) and one of a lovely taupe. Mom bought it about a year ago when she was visiting me and we made a trip out to Tangled Web in Oak Park. She thought it would make a perfect scarf for my dad. And since it's big stuff, I encouraged her to get it since I figured she'd be able to get it done pretty quickly.

Over Christmas, Mom remembered it and retrieved it from her stash, and it wandered home with me since I needed a good simple car project and I love knitting for my Dad, who is tolerant of more than one color in any single knitting project.

Lately I haven't had a lot of interest in the big yarn, but I did like the Polar. Like anything with a little alpaca, it's nice and soft and fuzzy. It actually has a soft halo about it. I like both the stitch definition and the subtle sheen that the yarn has. I did the scarf in K2P2 ribbing on the recommended needles for gauge and that gives it a little bit more loft.

Similar to the Angel scarf, I cast on 32 stitches and knit in ribbing until I used up my yarn. The end result is a scarf about 6 feet long and about 5" wide.

Unusually enough for me, I don't have much to say tonight. I had a wonderful time at the knitting get together at Letizia's which helped to ease an otherwise stressful and depressing day. It really is hard to hang out with this group and not come away feeling better. Everyone was working on wonderful projects and I am completely jealous of Carolyn and Heidi who are heading to Columbus with Lynette and Monica.

I'm looking forward to working on Siena over the weekend. Bonne Marie and Carolyn spent a good portion of the evening explaining to me about the structural aspects of set in sleeves, and I've decided that I am going to give it a try "the hard way" on Siena. Hopefully I will emerge on the other side of the weekend with a pretty new cardi and a good learning experience.

Lorna's Laces Aslan Angel Scarf

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Perhaps you remember this:

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Aslan Angel

Well, it became this:

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Touched By an Aslan Angel

For a close up of the texture and colors, click here.

I started this scarf on the way to Ann Arbor on the evening of the 23rd. By Christmas morning, I was weaving in the ends. Lorna's Laces Angel is one of those yarns that doesn't require a complicated pattern to look absolutely fabulous. Because the texture and hand dying create so much visual complexity very simple stitch patterns make for very lovely end products.

Pattern:

With US size 9 needles, loosely cast on 32 stitches
(K2P2)* repeat until row end
Continue in K2P2 rib until just enough yarn remains to bind of.
Bind off in K2P2 rib.

I'm not sure what the gauge is, but it really doesn't matter. US Size 9 needles give a nice gauge and create a drapey fabric. I chose bamboo needles which have a little more grip for me and help keep my stitches a little looser than my Addis would. Each 50 yd skein generated about 12" of K2P2 rib, and with 4 skeins, this scarf is approximately 48" long -- perfect for a snuggly, glamorous neck warmer. I love the Aslan colorway. It's soft but earthy and the combination of beige, grey and red clay colors can complement almost any coat.

I haven't found too many retailers that keep this yarn in stock (at least not in Chicago). I "met" Angel for the first time at a LYS, Arcadia Knitting. They now have an online presence to complement their brick and mortar location and they appear to have Angel available in a small selection of Lorna's colorways. Angel is available in almost any color you can get Lorna's yarns in (except the striping sock yarn colors). I special ordered the Aslan Angel with ThreadBear Fiber Arts.

This scarf is going to stay in Ann Arbor. I didn't finish Mom's sweater on time (I'm close, but not quite close enough), so I wanted to have something special for her. She's a very fabulous mom person, much deserving of soft fuzzy angora blend scarves. I have to admit, though, that the temptation to keep it was great... so not only was I touched by an Angel, I was tempted by one as well.

The Ibis Has Landed

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Here's the first of my finished Christmas presents. My mom reads my blog but knows what she's getting. My mother-in-law doesn't own a computer and doesn't read much English, so I think the secret will still be safe.

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Sparkly Fuzzy Mother-in-Law Scarf

The Ibis knits up into a light fluffy fuzzy fabric. It feels nice against my neck and not at all itchy. This scarf was made using the pattern on the back of the ball band. There's a row of YO K2Tog at even intervals, but it's hard to see here.

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Garter Stitch Ibis

Because it's hard to get a sense for the texture of this scarf without a closeup, I thought it would be good to post a close up. This yarn was easy to knit, although it's important to pay some attention or you end up splitting the fuzzy and sparkly strands and knitting two loops instead of one. While I wouldn't want to knit with this stuff every day, given the choice between Classic Elite Ibis or Crystal Palace Splash, I'll take the Ibis every time.

Given the soft delightful fuzziness of the Ibis, I would be sorry to let this scarf go if I didn't have two more skeins in a sage green color awaiting my attention. I don't think I'll be making this scarf again, however. More likely I will do something like the free pattern in the December 2003 Knit Picks catalog (p.23 if you don't want the on-line version). It's just a simple drop stitch. That I'm thinking of modifying just slightly (probably 2 YO instead of 3, size 10 needles instead of size 11 to make the fabric a little denser). I got my goods from ThreadBear Fiber Arts, my enablers of choice.

Fuzzy Lacy Scarf

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Chicago Models Ibis

I love the KIP nights at Letizia's. Every evening I meet someone new or learn something or get to finger some nifty new yarn. Linen stitch was one subject of discussion, along with garter stitch gloves and anti-rolling techniques for bucket hats. Tonight I brought Chicago for show and tell. It seemed to do well in a hands on setting. I'm still not sure about the closure, but I got some good suggestions and I'll be doing some thinking. I'm also going to finish putting the pattern together for Chicago. I think in the short term, I am going to try to do things through PayPal

I spent all of my knitting time at the KIP working on my Ibis scarf for John's mom. I really do like this yarn a lot. Much nicer to work with than the Splash and it's cloudy soft stuff. It really does feel like goose down. I've got about a 1/3rd of a skein left to go. Probably it will get finished off tomorrow night. I've hit that "critical point" in the project where it's just time to run to the finish line so that I can move onto something else. I can hear my bucket hat calling to me reminding me that it's only a matter of time before it starts to get really cold here in the Windy City.

John has been telling me that he would like a headband for the winter. John, as I have said before, is kind of picky. K2P2 ribbing in a big yarn isn't going to do it. I have a ball of lovely grey Rowan Wool Cotton that I think would be good. Does anyone have a good source of "design" information for headbands. I'm trying to figure out how much "give" I need to plan into the design if I don't do ribbing. Is it like socks? Measure and subtract 10%? What are the best cast-ons? I want something elastic but stylish. Tubular? I-cord? Time for me to check out all those books I've been buying for just this sort of occasion. I'm thinking maybe some gansey-style pattern around the band might be nice. If I come up with something good, I'll share this pattern with everyone.

Good weekend to you all!

Fringe Elements

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All Fringed Up and Ready to Go

Can you even believe it? Not only did I weave in all those ends but I even fringed it. I know, I know, it's just a scarf, but It makes me happy to be finshed with it and this is my project log, so you get a picture.

This scarf is a combination of Berroco Chinchilla Colors in color 5866 and Berroco Glace Colors in color 2866, both in the same variagated colorway, which now appears to be discontinued in both yarn lines Kind of a shame, because it's a good combination. I love jewel tones, especially magenta and purple and blue, so this colorway was kind of a no-brainer for me. This colorway was bright and happy without being too out there.

Now that it's finished, I have to say that I like this scarf. The combination of Chinchilla and Glace gives it a nice weightiness -- this scarf stays where you put it. I think I'll be able to wear it with a coat or just to dress up my standard winter black turtleneck wardrobe

While I was knitting it, I pretty much decided that these aren't my favorite yarns to knit with. The Chinchilla is soft when it's in the skein and in fabric form, but the transitional form running through your fingers feels a little harsh because the cord on which the chenille is bound is somewhat rough and scratchy. The Glace is really easy to puncture and split with a needle tip, even though it is a relatively thick ribbon. Thus, the knitting is slower than you expect it to be for what is otherwise a very simple garter stitch scarf.

I won't be knitting another one anytime soon, but it's hard not to reccommend it if you enjoy texture and you like soft and shiny, and a scarf that goes beyond all those really ugly Gap-style ratty looking garter stitch scarves in really ugly Baskin Robbins/ 70's vinyl chair colors that seem to be all the rage right now(my apologies if you like those... I've seen about million of them here in Chicago and they are getting a little old to my eyes). You could do this pattern in almost any chenille/ribbon combination at almost any gauge and get a nice result. If you made the panels a little wider, you'd have a fun and funky stole.

And I couldn't have finished this project at a more perfect time. The temperature dropped from about 60 degrees to about 20 degrees overnight and we even got snow today! How better to welcome in the cold than with a fun new winter wardrobe addition?

I updated my Stash Trading Blog over the weekend. Check it out as there are some good scarfy yarns looking for good new homes!

Ibis

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Classic Elite Ibis Up Close

After a somewhat impersonal introduction yesterday, here's a close up of the Classic Elite Ibis. Ibis is 100% nylon and 100% soft to the touch. There's a fine cord carrying the soft, feather like eyelashes and a slightly thicker cord with varying colors that is carried along and gives it some extra added shine. Ibis is the sort of thing you don't mind holding against your skin and even in the skein it begs to be stroked.

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Ibis on the Needles

This is what it looks like knit up (using the scarf pattern that comes on the back of the ball band). Its a swatch, and also the start of a scarf for my mother-in-law. She saw my Splash scarf and seemed to like it, but I don't really want to knit again with the Splash. Rob assured me that the Ibis was nicer to knit with than the Splash, and I'm not disappointed with his judgement. It's a little slippery, but otherwise quite pleasant to work with. If you want to see all the colors of Ibis, check here. It's a ways down on the page and the colors are quite true to what I have on my desk. If you "need" some, those ThreadBears can help you out!

I had a fun evening knitting with the other Chics at the KIP tonight. I think my favorite part of these get togethers is the show and tell. I got to see Bonne Marie's new cardie up close and personal and got a demonstration of a tubular cast on. Everyone had a neat project to work on. We had so much fun that we decided that the next meeting would be in two weeks. Mark your calendars now for December 4th!

Textured Scarf

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It's a little embarrassing how long ago I started this scarf. It's from the Vogue Knitting On The Go Scarves Book.

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The Model

I bought the book when I was out on one of my first knitting store trips with Julie. And, of course, I decided that I needed to do something out of it. I didn't want anything difficult, but I was curious about fuzzy chenille yarns and ribbon yarns. So this project seemed ideal.

But I couldn't find the yarns in the store I was at, so I bought some Anny Blatt ribbon and chenille instead. In black, which I thought would be sophisticated.(You can see it here) And no matter what I did, I couldn't get gauge. This was pretty frustrating for me. I had just gotten back into actively knitting again, and a simple garter stitch scarf refused to behave. Not only that, but if you're going to substitute yarns, subsituting Berroco for Anny Blatt, from a cost perspective, is not a very smart one.

It took me awhile, doing gauge swatch after gauge swatch and ripping and tearing, to decide that this was not to be.

And then I ran into the Berroco stuff in another yarn store. And, throwing caution to the wind, I decided to try again.

This time, things worked out more or less in my favor gauge-wise (and I relaxed a little and decide that row gauge was pretty much irrelevant for a scarf). But I started the scarf on long straight needles and I decided that garter stitch was boring. And I decided I didn't much like knitting with Chinchilla. And then it got warm. Who needs a fuzzy scarf in May? So it stalled in my basket until I got to doing some cleaning.

And then I decided that I needed another fuzzy scarf. So I put the project on circs, ignored the Chinchilla (it feels nice knit up, it just has an abrasive cord in the middle) and moved this projet from stalled to mostly finished. Along the way I realized something though...

This pattern is 9 repeats of 20 rows Chinchilla, 22 rows Glace plus another Chinchilla panel. Other people who hated knitting in ends probably would have realized without too much extra thought that 19 alternating panels meant 38 ends to weave in. I actually got 75% of the way through before this thought passed through my brain.

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Whole Lotta Finishing

Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. And Ugh again!

I like the scarf, I like the weight of the fabric (it's on the heavier side), but I don't like the looks of those ends. And then there's the fringe...

Hopefully I can get all those ends tucked in before Claudia's Silly Furry Scarf Season ends! After all, I've got to get moving with a certain Bucket Hat, and a couple of sweaters....

P.S. Chicago Knitters: don't forget -- the ChicKnits KIP is Thursday, November 20th at Letizia's Natural Bakery on Division!

Somebody Stop Me

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Pack your bags my friends, we're going on a little crafty excursion. This keyboard biologist was on the loose in Michigan doing her best to support the economy. If all those consumer confidence indices don't rise you can't blame me!

Before we left Ludington Mom and I had to check out a few places. Our first stop was Maude's -- all sorts of crafts and jewelry. Some mundane (i.e. eyelash yarn scarves), some more dramatic. One impressive element of this store is that the things inside were reasonably priced. Not cheap, but affordable enough so that you didn't feel bad taking a few things home. This is what hopped into my bag...

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Seriously Neat Poly Clay Buttons

Polyclay is an amazing thing, and these buttons just made me happy. I almost feel like I need to design a sweater for the leaf and flower buttons on the right side of the photo. I liked them so much I got the matching barette. I haven't decided whether the soap will be used or just be used to keep my stash smelling nice. Right now it's adding it's peaceful lavendar aroma to my knitting room.

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Sometimes a Girl Needs a Little Novelty Yarn

The next stop was Nautical Yarns. The store had a much better yarn selection than I would have guessed for Ludington. I got drawn in by the novelty yarns at the front of the store... more railroad variations. Will I ever learn? Probably not. The yarn on the left is Lana Grossa Viale Print, colorway 302. The yarn on the right is SRK Collection Persia. It's hard to tell from the picture, but it is a railroad yarn edged with co-ordinating wool threads. Both yarns are destined for fun scarves. The gadget in the middle is an I-cord maker that looks capable of working with big yarn. Booga Bag here I come!

On Friday night we drove back to Ann Arbor. I finished this off Saturday morning before Mom and I hit the road for southeastern Michigan fiber adventures.

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Seaside Angel

Here's my skinny Angel scarf. I just let the stockinette roll and the ends ruffle. Simple and pretty and soft. I'll post the "pattern" in the gallery if anyone is interested in it.

Just so you know, there are way too many crafty stores in the Ann Arbor metro area. Our first stop for the morning was Flying Sheep.

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Goodies from Flying Sheep

I just went in for Opal sock yarn... really! But then that Trendsetter Voila Print jumped into my hand... and it needed a friend, so the Matchmaker came along. The top left Opal is from the Southwestern collection, the top right Opal is Brasil. I also finally found my size 13 Addi Turbo... so that I could do a little more weekend knitting. Only I would by a $14 needle to knit up a $11 skein of yarn...

And, of course, no trip to Ann Arbor would be complete without a trip to Knit A Round. I really can't say enough good things about this store, or how much fun I have every time I go there.

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What I Found at Knit A Round

First off, if you haven't touched Mountain Colors Bearfoot yarn, what are you waiting for?!? This stuff is incredible. It's soft and the mohair makes the colors so rich and sumptuous. They only had 3 colors left when I got there... lupine and pheasant are the two I picked. The lupine is definitely for me. This stuff was so awesome that my mother decided to get a skein too to try out a lace scarf.

The Plymouth Fusion and the pattern you see in the middle are a testimony to the value of shop models. That sweater was hanging in the window. I decided that I just had to have a gossamer striped mohair bullseye to wear this winter. The Fusion stripes like Noro. So here I am, all ready to start my first real mohair adventure. The only real question is whether or not I will be able to be careful enough to avoid errors so I don't have to do a lot of ripping.

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New Hobby? What New Hobby

After that, we set off for Plymouth. The Lost Arts Stitchery is worth the trip for anyone making dolls or interested in tatting. Mom found the pattern off which my Chrismas doll will be based. I've been thinking about tatted edges for a while and the owner of this store had some beautiful examples of her work that just sucked me in and encouraged me to take the plunge into needle tatting. I haven't opened the kit yet, but I'm looking forward to trying it out.

We hit a third yarn store, also in Plymouth, whose name, unfortunately, escapes me. It was quite large and had lots of good yarn. I picked up a couple of patterns there, but my credit card arm had already had a pretty major work out, so I didn't let myself look at too much yarn.

Armed with my big fat Addi Turbos, I spent that evening and the following morning working on my Crystal Palace Splash scarf. The colorway I used is called "Tide Pool" -- 7189. This is a complete no brainer scarf and the result is totally fab. Cast on 12, garter stitch until the end. I'll let other people lead the anti-novelty yarn revolution -- I'm having too much fun with it to let anyone else's feelings keep me from enjoying it.

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Splashing in my TidePool

I managed to stay out of trouble on Sunday. Mom and I put together a little emergency knitting repair kit so she would be able to keep going on her scarf. We topped off my Ann Arbor trip with a visit to Zingerman's Deli. This is one of those Ann Arbor landmarks that shouldn't be missed. Of special note is their Chocolate Cherry bread. Almost better than brownies. If you're ever in Ann Arbor, this is the one local place that lives up to the incredible hype it gets. It's almost more dangerous than a good yarn store.

More Weekend Adventures

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I have to start this post by saying that Knit A Round, in Ann Arbor, MI is one of my all time favorite yarn stores. My mom knows now that any visit I make to Ann Arbor needs to include a trip to KAR. They have a very nice selection of Koigu, more flashy trashy yarns that you can shake a stick at, and a lot of great old standards, to boot. And they're incredibly friendly.

I wore Charlotte for the first time last Saturday because it was cool enough to get away with throwing a shawl over my little black T-shirt. Let me tell you right now that Charlotte is a shameless flirt and loves attention. And she was at her most audacious at Knit A Round. She got noticed from the moment I walked in the door and then she had to say hello to everyone. And she got lots of positive feed back.

The Stash Enhancement Exercise

From the picture it would look like I was pretty well behaved -- two skeins of Cascade 220 (for an idea I had for a felted item that I'd like to submit to Knitty), a beaded purse project, and the size 0000 double pointed needles for the purse(I got the crochet book at Barnes and Noble). But rest assured, I wasn't quite that good. I also ordered 7 skeins of Jaeger Matchmaker Merino DK in Burgundy for the Elisabeth Lavold vest from the most recent Knitters. I just couldn't resist -- that vest looks like the right combination of interesting and uncomplicated for me to try to accomplish it this fall.

Of course, since I finished one project, I had to pick up a new one! I decided that I would start Karen Baumer's Multidirectional Scarf in Noro Silk Garden in colorway #87.

Multidirectional Scarf in Noro Silk Garden #87

I'm not sure if there's enough wild color in that scarf for me. Actually, I am feeling very much back in the 80's -- Noro seems very into alternating pink and green in this colorway. If it wasn't so totally un-conservative, I'd say it needed a little alligator somewhere. This scarf is great mindless knitting -- it's all garter stitch, but since you have to pay attention to the short rowing, it seems a lot more interesting. I'm wondering how it would work out to alternate between a ribbon yarn and a chenille or a boucle. That's the other thing I love about simple but interesting patterns -- they call me back to do them again.

But what about my little Silk Garden sweater you ask? Certainly I didn't forget about it the whole trip, did I? No, I didn't. She got her edging and I found some buttons I like. The crochet edging needed a little blocking before she could make a proper introduction. Hopefully she'll make her debut tomorrow!

Happy Birthday to Mom!

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I won't tell you how old she is, but I will show you what I gave her for her birthday! I didn't finish the knitting up until Saturday morning. Nothing like sitting in my parents great room listening to the birds sing and knowing that I am in the middle of an ex-corn field instead of an urban jungle. I love Chicago, but my parents' place in Ann Arbor has a peaceful calm that I just don't get in the city.

The shot below is how the scarf looks without any blocking. I almost considered not blocking it, but then decided that a bit more drape might be a better look for it.

Koigu Cross Stitch Scarf Before Blocking

So on Sunday morning, I improvised a blocking board and let the scarf block while we went out to brunch.

Koigu Cross Stitch Scarf Blocking on A Bed

What does it look like up close when blocked?

Cross Section of Koigu Cross Stitch Scarf After Blocking

I definitely like the open airy feeling of this scarf after you block it. Knowing the Koigu, it will fight that blocking a little, but the scarf will still look good. My dad, the incredible woodworker, was quite taken with this scarf. Not sure if it is masculine enough...although that might just be the colors I did Mom's in.

Cross Stitch Scarf Completed and Fringed

I fringed it after blocking and the result is set on the backdrop of my parents gazebo and rich green backyard. I still want a shot with Mom, but it got kind of warm for scarf modeling, so I'll have to wait until it gets a little cooler for that. Mom did seem to like it.

This scarf was designed by Joe Wilcox and you can get the yarn and the pattern as a kit from his LYS, Simply Knit. This is a nice, classy project that would make a wonderful gift. It knits up relatively quickly, although I recommend doing a test swatch so that you can find the best way to get the stitches to look the way you want them to. It takes only 2 skeins of Koigu, so it's a pretty cost-effective gift as well. I had no difficulty with yardage. There was plenty of both before I did the fringe. The pattern is clear and well written. It's a pretty straight-forward design, and the stitch pattern really is not as hard as it looks. I would recommend doing a crochet cast on so that the beginning and ending edges have a more similar look to them, but that is all I have to add.

I did do a few more things in Ann Arbor, but I'll save that for tomorrow's post.

Halfway There

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Here's today's progress. I'm a little over 50% done now. Mom will probably see this tomorrow afternoon after we get to Ann Arbor anyway, so I figured I could share a snap of the project before I go. Normally I don't ever want to do anything more than once, but I kind of like this project. It's much more entertaining than all the EROS scarves I made last year. I'm hoping that I can get most of the rest of it finished up in the car on the way to Ann Arbor tomorrow. Believe it or not, it takes me about 45 minutes to get across one row when I am doing the crossing over stuff.

Not sure what else I will be bringing. Definitely my dad's LoTech Sweat and the Noro sweater that needs the edging put on it. And probably a sock. John's decided that it is getting cool enough to wear socks again, so it's time to think about getting that grey striped Opal worked up into something he can keep warm with.

I found a couple of interesting links today. The first comes from John, who somehow manages to find all manner of strange things on the Internet.

Use the Gender Genie to figure out a person's gender with a text sample. Apparently my blog is actually written by a man (at least yesterday's post was), but it's entertaining to understand why it predicts what it does.

Ever wanted to know something about a particular breed of sheep? I always knew that there were different kinds of sheep -- I just didn't know how many kinds there actually were before I went to this page sponsored by Oklahoma State University. I didn't realize that there were so many sub-breeds of Merino sheep! There are good pictures here as well as some breed history and standards. Definitely a good substitute for getting your own sheep for your back yard!

Indian Cross Stitch

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Here's a little piece of the progress I've made on the project. The bottom section of crossed stitches are in Koigu p201 and the to set of crosses are in p319. Every other pair of rows is done in the same color. I think the contrast between the two color ways will be a little more prominent when I get another repetition of the main pattern (what you see here) completed.

And here's a closeup of the stitch so you can see the composition of it. If you want stitch instructions, you can find them in the Vogue Knitting book in the stitch pattern section. Because these colors are lighter than the colors in the swatch, I thought it was a nicer demonstration of what the stitch actually looks like.

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