Knitting

The Aquarelle Shawl

Reminiscent of a walk along the beach collecting shell treasures, Marie Greene describes her latest design as “watercolor-inspired waves opening into shells and scallops”. Using a lovely merino wool and silk blend, The Aquarelle Shawl is my most recent mystery knit along (KAL) project.

Trusting the designer, I cast on in real time with other Knit Campers on April 1 (no fooling) and watched my project evolve without benefit of knowing a final design other than its crescent shape. The pattern was released over two weeks in four mystery clues and revealed shells constructed with yarn drawn over rows of stitches and then mirrored in lace. The long rows of garter stitch, which anchor the decorative design elements, remind me of tides lines lightly scored in water packed sand.

In addition to the fluidity afforded by the silk, the contrasting colors of the two skeins ripple through the fabric alternating between a solid rich teal and a complimentary fingering with ivory, blue and green tones. The colors flow quite like John Lurie’s watercolors on HBO’s Painting with John proving that The Aquarelle Shawl is true to its painting namesake, aquarelle – a “technique of painting in transparent, rather than opaque, watercolours” as defined by Encyclopedia Britannica.

Knitting

Strategic Stasher

skeins of yarn in multiple colors

While the list of survey questions is not nearly as extensive as a Myers Briggs personality test, the Knit Camp Stash Sprint quiz does incorporate aspects of actual psychological analysis.  Of Marie Greene’s three basic yarn collector types, Fiber Sentimentalist, Optimistic Acquirer, and Strategic Stasher, my profile falls strongly into this last category.  Individual traits include:

  • Well organized stash.  (I pride myself on having every skein carefully cataloged on Ravelry with important details duly noted such as weight, color, dye lot, purchase price and date, including a photo for quick visual ID.)
  • Well planned projects and purchases.
  • Likely to use exactly-the right-yarn for the job which often necessitates purchasing new yarn rather than substituting.
  • Willing to relinquish yarn if a project changes direction.  (As proof, 14 skeins found their way to new homes as prizes for the Zumbro River Fiber Arts Guild: Knitting Group’s first ever annual Winter Finishing Fest.)

During my Stash Sprint class I handled every skein with a discerning eye.  While deciding what to keep and what to give, I made some discoveries.  Fingering weight comprises a third of my reserves but then many of Martina Behm’s designs require this weight and Hitchhiker is my favorite pattern.  DK makes up the next largest quantity but that makes sense as well as it is a great weight for sweaters and my first (and to date, only) dyeing project used this weight.  I have never knit anything in lace weight yarn and gave away two skeins but sentimentally kept two simply because of when and where I purchased them.  Since my access to the Knit Camp Stash Sprint class never expires, it will be interesting to see how my stashing patterns evolve and whether, after taking this online course, if I reframe my approach to yarn acquisition.

Happy knitting!

Knitting

Hitchhiker

three handknit scarves in red, purple and green
Hitchhikers for Lani, Jane & Ann

Among the nearly 1.1 million patterns inventoried on Ravelry, Martina Behm’s Hitchhiker is the most popular and it is one of my favorites as well.  Since casting on my first version of this asymmetrical scarf / shawlette in June 2016, I’ve completed 21 projects – the most recent just off my needles.  I’ve kept and wear only one, all the others have been shared as gifts or fundraising donations.

Hitchhiker is the perfect design to showcase a single skein of fingering weight yarn and can be easily adapted by adding intermittent lace rows or bead embellishments.  The knitter begins by casting on just three stitches, increasing one stitch each row, decreasing five stitches every eight rows to create the zigzag steps and simply knitting until all (or nearly all) the yarn is used.  The yarn’s textures and colors take center stage, although the saw-tooth border along one edge offers a unique sculptural effect.

With the perfect yardage, Hitchhiker will deliver 42 points on the saw-tooth edge, Martina’s homage to The Hitchhiker‘s Guide to the Galaxy in which the reader learns that the answer to the “Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything” is simply 42.  But not to worry, should the yarn run out before reaching the mythical number, the end result will still be perfect.

Knitting

Meditative Knitting – Good for the Soul

blue and teal handknit lace scarf

Released early during our pandemic lockdown, Christina Campbell’s Metanoia Wrap artfully achieves its goal of blending simple garter stitches with classic lace to create a meditative experience while knitting.  Ever the teacher, she offers a translation for the Greek title: 

‘Meta’ means life and ‘Noia’ is change … A knitted journey during a tumultuous time as our way of life changes.

Calling for two contrasting skeins of yarn, each half of the scarf mirrors the other with rippling color.  The repetitive lace segments appear different from each other but this is only an illusion since they match row-for-row.  The Boca Chica colorways in rich blue Hurricane and subtle flecked aqua Seaglass artfully capture the vibrant hues of the Florida Keys for which these limited hand-dyed skeins are named.

Knitting

Sommer Camp: More knitting fun

square of gold knitted yarn on maroon background
Fireworks Swatcheroo

Hi-ho, hi-ho, it is off to Sommer Camp I go!

As you can never have too many projects on your needles and I love the idea of joining knitters from around the world, whether brought together for a shared project or to celebrate a creative designer, I just cast on a new shawl for the first day of Sommer Camp with Martina Behm.  And, yes, Sommer is spelled correctly as Martina is hosting this six-week event from Germany.  In addition to podcasts and prizes, the bi-lingual discussions may also serve to re-draw a few of my long dormant neural pathways as some posts may be written only in German.  My goal is to use Google translate as a last resort to verify my translation guesses.

While the rules of Sommer Camp allow for any pattern, I chose a two-toned shawl designed by Martina that she describes as looking a bit like Intarsia but without the worry.  Since stash-diving is always a laudable goal, I can check that task off my list as the two contrasting yet complimentary skeins were purchased as souvenirs during pre-pandemic travels; perfect for the project I have dubbed Zwei Farben (two colors).

All the while, work continues on my Fireworks sweater as part of Marie Greene’s 4-Day knit-along (KAL).  The top-down, yoked pullover features a new stitch which resembles bursts of light against the night sky on the 4th of July or bright celebrations when the home town baseball team wins a game. The yarn fireworks are anchored by a row of delicate bobbles; a capricious design element that has only now, in retirement, entered my wardrobe.

Knitting

Halley & Fiadh: A pandemic year of projects

There is something oh so satisfying when a project is laid out on the blocking squares.  And, I can claim double the fun (just like double mint gum) having finished Fiadh, my January-February sweater knit-along (KAL), and my friend’s Halley within just days of each other.

Fiadh is a dense Aran sweater with swirling Celtic cables and funky bobbles designed by Marie Greene and knit using Kelbourne Woolens Lucky Tweed in medium gray with white and black flecks for a very classy look.  After some self-psychoanalysis to discover the why behind being stuck on sleeve island, I hunkered down and finished the cabled sleeves, picked up 338 stitches for the ribbed front band, shawl collar, and added the vibrant orange hidden pockets.  All just in time for 100 degree days, a very unusual meteorological phenomenon for June in Minnesota.

Designed by Martina Behm, another of my go-to designers, Halley incorporates a lacy zigzag reminiscent of Halley’s Comet, as well as stars and meteorites crisscrossing the night sky.  Knit using HiKoo Popcycle, an environmentally conscientious blend of 50% bamboo rayon and 50% polyester from recycled plastic bottles.

Knitting, reading and a bit of writing have been my primary activities during our pandemic lockdown.  As we slowly emerge fully vaccinated from home into public spaces my COVID project inventory totals 35 between March 2020 to June 2021 with Halley and Fiadh being projects #34 and #35, respectively.  Quite an assortment of productivity including three sweaters, seven hats, seven shawls, two pairs of socks, nine cowls, six pairs of mittens (fingerless included) and one cabled, reversible scarf.  Swatching for Fireworks is complete but I am waiting for the pattern release on July 1 before beginning Marie Greene’s fifth annual 4-Day Sweater KAL.  And so I find myself in an unusual state of affairs with nothing on my needles.  Time for a quick delve into the project queue.

Knitting

Project Peace – part 3

Project Peace Shawl – a 2020 Knit-a-long with Christina Campbell

And with the end of 2020 came the completion of this year’s Project Peace shawl.  I started with three stitches and, just before midnight, I cast off 483 stitches while enjoying Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse sing and dance our way into the New Year. 

December was another Covid month; all our gifts arrived by mail but also sunny drives in rural Wisconsin, the first shovelable snow, and quiet knitting while enjoying Christina Campbell’s daily thoughts on peace.  Her words reflect my sentiments on both knitting and peace:

Knitting... such a simple act, one stitch followed by the next,
lined up in columns of stitches, twisting and turning, 
openings here and there, 
ultimately creating a beautiful fabric to warm the recipient...
     knitting ... one stitch at a time from one continuous fiber...
     knitting does not promise to be easy...
     knitting does not promise to be without mistakes and flaws...
     knitting does not promised to be a constant state of harmony...
     and so it is true with peace.
           Christina Campbell, December 21, 2020
Knitting

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!

Selwyn – A Knit Camp cowl KAL
Knitting · Writing

YoP – A Year of Projects

I consider myself a fastidious Ravelry user.  I have taken pictures and recorded new yarn in my motel room within hours of visiting a yarn store and project pages are a must.  Maybe there is a secret cataloger lurking in me that desires to keep an orderly record or it could be that with 154 projects (to date) my memory can get a bit fuzzy about what I have knit when and with what yarn. 

Not surprising with over 13,000 Ravelry groups some so small they only include 2-4 people and others with memberships well into five figures there is a discussion forum for bloggers.  A Year of Projects blog-a-long offers a framework to keep track of what can be a chaotic mix of actual works-in-progress (WIP) and those that are only dreams; while encouraging writers to write all with the added bonus of a built in audience among the participating bloggers.

Having just re-joined the blogging sphere in May, I have yet to suffer from prolonged writer’s block and who knows if Knit+ Librarian will continue beyond this pandemic sequester but A Year of Projects could be useful as an online writers’ group.  As I am joining the group mid-year, my list of projects yet to be tackled (with or without an accompanying blog post) includes:

  • Hortensia Mitts and Hortensia Hat from Solène Le Roux – WIP
  • Project Peace 2020 KAL with Christina Campbell – awaiting yarn
  • River of Dreams Bedrunner – WIP
  • Selwyn a Knit Camp KAL with Marie Greene – WIP
  • New Knit Camp patterns as they are released monthly by Marie Greene (specific details to follow)

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.