Taking an inventory of the old year is by no means a unique task. It is, however, not something I have done previously in this blog. So here are a few highlights of my 22 knitting projects (some of which you will have already seen) and my titles read – 82 – although to be honest, I indulged in a number of quick read YA fantasies and enjoyed a variety of easy-listening titles while driving to-and-from Eau Claire and hours spent gardening last summer in order to reach this quantity.
My Busy Needles
The word of the day: précis – a shortened version of a speech or written report containing main points and omitting minor details is apropos for this Finished Object Friday (FOF) as I am providing a partial update of what has come off my needles since May.
The most recent project ready to be mailed is the second of two Apple Cart Shawls which features contrasting bands of color, with just enough texture to keep the design interesting. Both shawls were knit using Ella Rae’s Rustic Silk making them versatile wardrobe additions perfect for Minnesota summer evenings or any time of the year in warmer climes. This design is one of three in a new series from Marie Greene’s stash buster collection. Each of the titles in this pattern trio start with A and, from recent reports, the B threesome will be released very soon.
I commandeered the Ruffled Shawlette for my recent Massachusetts Pilgrimage. It provided a lovely, dress-up accent for evening dinners and offered a hint of protection in over-zealous air conditioned rooms. This was also knit using Ella Rae’s Rustic Silk. It is small, easy to pack and (most important for the well-dressed traveler) wrinkle free. If you are looking for this kerchief pattern, check out 22 Little Clouds by Martina Behm.
The Mallory Shawl by Heidi Hennessy features a delicate lattice that flows from the tip of the triangle to a wide ribbed base. Knit using ethically sourced Merino wool from Uruguay, the slightly variegated green tones compliment the interconnecting cables. The luxurious wrap, perfect for chilly winter days, was a WIP (work-in-progress) from March to September and became my go-to project between other creations.
A Suri and silk cowl with a complimentary headband were my first foray into working with lace weight yarn, something that I had shied away from simply due to the super fine nature. However, in the interest of honest reporting, I did hold the Naturel and Rubia colorways double thus technically making a blended fingering weight mix. The Cooler Side of Warm cowl is designed by Espace Tricot, “a modern knitting shop in Montreal”.
Vivi Off the Needles
In keeping with the theme of #FOFriday – finished object Friday – I am showing off my finished Vivi from the January/February sweater knit-along (KAL) with Marie Greene. Based on progress postings and Zoom meeting reports, hundreds of other knitters enjoyed this project as much as I did.
This January Workshop KAL is the fourth of Marie’s annual offerings – something new for the New Year. Through her integrated curriculum, this community-based project allows knitters to explore the fiber arts from a faraway place; a virtual vacation each year. During the two month KAL, Marie offered technical lessons on topics such as shoulder construction, provided historical background on Danish “night” sweaters, and even shared scrumptious traditional pastry recipes – Yumm!
The KAL officially launched January 1 although Knit Campers (that’s me) were awarded an early pattern release by a few days. On December 30, I casted on 292 stitches of worsted Berroco Ultra Wool in Chili Red to start this bottom-up construction and I worked my last bind off cuff stitch on February 26. Squishy soft after blocking and plenty warm for chilly spring days.
Vivi KAL 2022
After a wardrobe review, I admit I do not need another sweater. Having knit two in 2021 that I wear infrequently due to our continued Covid stay at home-ness, I initially decided to pass on Marie Greene’s 4th annual January Workshop KAL (knit-along). But then I was swept up in the enthusiasm of my fellow Knit Campers’ yarn selections and color choices, plus Marie’s newest design features (my favorite) cables!
Ironically, while my September trip to Copenhagen and the Faroe Islands was cancelled, I will enjoy Danish artistry virtually with Vivi. Pattern pictures reveal a lattice of cabled diamonds gracing the sweater’s front and Danish stars decorating the sides. Unlike the intricate colorwork of Scandinavian cousins, these Danish designs rely on subtle stitch definition against a monochromatic backdrop. And, as always, during the eight weeks of this annual workshop KAL, Marie will share historical background, new techniques via video tutorials, and ethnic recipes for culinary exploration, as well as a large dose of “hygge” – perfect for this lingering pandemic.
Photo credit: © Marie Greene
It is not often I admit to feeling “stuck” while knitting. My list of frogged projects is surprisingly small as only two have moved from my needles back into balls of yarn and into the realm of never more. Three colorwork projects have drifted lower on my queue awaiting more research on stranded knitting and five are hibernating with yarn purchased just needing time to start.
While cast on with great gusto in January, my Fiadh sweater is still mid-sleeve with front band and pockets yet to be started. I am oh so close but so not done. The only other time I remember feeling this stuck was my first (and to-date only) felted project. The pre-fulled mittens made it off my needles. As the pattern directed, the mitts were much larger than any hand (unless the hand belonged to an MMA fighter) but I was intimidated by the wet felting process, so they sat for seven years. But my sweater delays cannot be blamed on a lack of technique. I have the stitches covered.
I keep trying to analyze how my January enthusiasm for the interlocking cables and framed bobbles waned. At first, I attributed my glacial-like progress to the spring temps and the urge to get herbs into the backdoor pots. That my Fiadh sleeves were stuck mid-bicep, then at the elbow and now just before the cuff because I was gardening rather than knitting seemed a valid rationale. But not really. I was not gardening after dark and I was knitting every night and even during the day if there was a Cubs baseball game or Formula 1 free practice, qualifying, or race to watch. Just not working on this sweater.
I finally realized I deeply associate Fiadh with the many months of our social distanced, masked quarantine. Previously in awe of intricate Aran designs, the COVID lockdown gave me license to tackle something big and beautiful. My “stuck-ness“ may be a visual example of my own version of re-entry anxiety; that somehow the completion of this sweater and my re-entry are linked even though I know I control when and how I choose to re-engage.
The revised Re-Gathering Guidelines for church begin with this practical yet inspiring statement. And, when applied to my everyday life, these words remind me to treat myself kindly and help re-infuse my enthusiasm for Fiadh cables and bobbles.
With care for each other’s health – body, mind and spirit – we will move into new phases gradually while valuing inclusion, science, flexibility, and grace.
Two shawls complete & a sweater on the needles: Year of Projects Update
I started the year with only a few projects in my queue knowing my January – February (and now my March – May) focus would be Fiadh, an Aran sweater designed by Marie Greene. I made steady progress on the body, sometimes even falling into the zen-like rhythm of swirling Celtic cables and the occasional well-placed bobble but somehow got stymied and landed on “sleeve island”, a place where I am not usually marooned. But, with Cubs baseball airing on Marquee TV, I am once again progressing steadily — 24 rows last night as the Cubs swept the Mets.
For weeks, Fiadh was my day-time knit. My evening projects necessitated a little less focus although offered enough variations to keep the design interesting but not so complicated so as to make reading subtitles impossible. The Spiced Ginger and Berry Patch shawls are also Marie’s designs and included in her book, Knit Shawls and Wraps in 1 Week. With blocking complete, my Year of Projects list has two additions.
Staying warm until winter is really over
With spring-like temperatures, the need for wool beanies greatly diminishes although, since this is Minnesota, the weather can quickly snap from balmy to blustery. In a December Year of Projects post, I reported the forthcoming Selwyn Beanie was in my project queue. While I waited for the pattern drop from designer Marie Greene, my early winter evening TV knitting was the matching cowl, dubbed Selwyn Petit as it was a smaller (cables only) version of the original Selwyn knit in heather gray. The Petit cowl and beanie uses a vibrant sunflower heather yarn from Kelbourne Woolens. Good for shooing away the winter blues. With cowls and beanies complete, now the challenge is determining the lucky recipients.
A bit of whimsy…
I don’t remember ever buying anything with a bobble. My pre-retirement wardrobe was chosen to set a professional tone, nothing frilly. Bobbles, while proportionally smaller, were like pompoms, to be avoided. Even when knitting for others, not a single hat is topped with a fuzzy ball. And yet…I harbored a secret attraction to the funny little nibs of texture.
Two of my three Building Block Shawls included a 12×12 inch square with rows of bobbles framed by lacy yarn overs. Ever since I completed those squares in October 2013, I have wondered what project might lead me back to that bit of whimsy. Visions of earlier eras, although definitely not simpler times; Bletchley Circle heroines in hand knit sweaters with intricate cables and bobbles.
Intended as easy to pack warmth against the chilly Faroe Islands air where, as the travel literature warns, visitors can experience all four seasons with related precipitation on a given day, my Cable Bobble Hat & Cowl nudged me toward the capricious. Enough so that I succumbed to Knit Camp eyecandy and joined the January Workshop KAL (knit-along). As Fiadh (an Irish name meaning wild) grows on my needles, a controlled tangle of cables is being revealed and, yes, bobbles too.
A Year of Projects – part 2
At the beginning of this holiday month, I joined the Ravelry group, A Year of Projects, mid-way through its July – June year. After years of managing an organization with a fiscal year of those same months, work that included lots of grant applications to secure Federal and state funds, I had planned to treat December as just another month and, once again, do the real work in June. But we all know 2020 has been anything but normal and I have been inspired by my fellow writers’ December summaries. Here is an update on that earlier list:
- I frogged the first Hortensia Mitt back to the cuff as I did not like the long strands of yarn on the inside which will surely catch. These await time and more practice with locked floats.
- After a yarn delay, my Project Peace 2020 KAL shawl is 12 rows from completion. Currently at 455 stitches (having started with three), each row takes considerable time (made less tedious by a good audio book) as I work towards a final stitch count of 483. Still with a goal to complete in December.
- A second delayed shipment stalled my work on the River of Dreams bedrunner but that is underway again and an easy knit during evening TV viewing, sometimes even with subtitles.
- I did complete one project in December, the Knit Camp cowl, Selwyn! There is a forthcoming pattern for a hat-to-match which will make a very nice set.
I am deep into swatching and measuring for a new sweater, Fiadh, which the pre-release notes describe as “A textured Irish Aran cardigan with cables, double moss stitch and a shawl collar.” The pattern drops on Monday, January 4 and, unlike earlier projects, my authentic heather gray Donegal Tweed yarn is already in hand. The teases reveal an intricate cable design incorporating four different styles covering the sweater’s front panels, back and sleeves, plus decorative bobbles bordering the ribbed button band. Happy New Year and happy knitting!
Covid Cabled Fingerless Mitts
During the hazy days of August, The Directors – a library loving, book reading, wine drinking group of retired friends, discussed the practicality (or lack thereof) of fingerless mittens. And, eureka – a winter gift idea was born. Just as autumn arrived, I cast on the first of five pairs of mitts with colors and fibers selected for each recipient from my stash. The Mitty pattern includes three repetitive rib rows so I propped up my iPad with enlarged font and read Elizabeth Hunter’s Elemental Mysteries while knitting. Although I did have to pay close attention on the fourth mock cable row. With today’s official arrival of meteorological Winter, each friend has a pair with which to experiment or re-gift.
Stay warm. Drink hot chocolate or lots of wine.