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

Boost the FOF Tally

Just in time to tackle a spring mystery knit-along (MKAL) with Marie Greene and to learn brioche with members of the Zumbro River Fiber Artists Guild’s Knitting Group, my WIP (Work-in-Progress) count has been reduced by three on this Finished Object Friday (FOF).  The deep heather blue scarf and muted lavender shawelette have yet to find homes but the vibrant yellow sweater will be gifted to a great niece or nephew arriving in May.  (Shhhh!  It is still a secret for the mom and dad-to-be.)

The small Gansey sweater, designed by Marie Greene, incorporates a cabled yoke for bit of decoration on the practical pullover knit using an easy to care for cotton, nylon, rayon, and silk blend.  Knit in a size 2-4, my new great-great niece or nephew will have something to grow into and, hopefully, will have many days of warm wear.

The blue wool scarf is another of Marie’s designs.  Reminiscent of barrel staves and trellised grape plants, the French Oak pattern reveals off-center cables traveling the length of the scarf like grape vines.  And, I am starting out a new year with another Hitchhiker, perfect for a special person knit in 100% rustic silk with Czech glass beads decorating each tip.  This is Hitchhiker #23 in my collection of hand-knit gifts.

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

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.

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
Art · Knitting · Writing

Project Peace – part 2

Chihuly: Nature of Glass – Desert Towers, 2008

Each morning a smidge of peace arrives in my mailbox; just a click away from a longer meditation.  From December 1-21, in addition to a wonderful knit-a-long pattern, Christina Campbell shares daily reflections on her 2020 theme “peace in place”.  Her creative writing, landscape photographs, and peace building challenges are inspirational.  I am writing more and reflecting on her definition of peace “…cultivating right relationships with self, others, and the Earth”.  

While Phoenix is not our stay-in-place place in these Covid times, I remember a quiet walk through the Desert Botanical Garden.  The trails wend through flora exotic to my Midwest field and forest eye.  The garden offers brilliant pops of color against the subdued desert backdrop, as well as sculpture placed so artfully so as to merge with the landscape.  Certainly what Chihuly intended with his Glass Towers.  In another era we might have asked:  Is it live or is it Memorex?

Join me on this peace filled journey at the Healthy Knitter.  Knitting not required.

Knitting

Project Peace 2020

During a week of rollercoaster emotions but definitely a big add in my positive column, is the news that Christina Campbell will host another Project Peace knit-along.  Since 2016, I have joined her and knitters from around the world by picking up my needles and conscientiously focusing on peace during hectic December days.  What started five years ago as a unique idea to conduct a knitting “peace-along” after the electoral dismay of 2016 has continued each December. Every year Christina shares a new themed pattern and daily meditations.  Project Peace 2020’s theme is “peace in place inspired by the need to connect with place during the pandemic and find peace in the now.”

My Ravelry project page is built and I am anxiously awaiting yarn suggestions (November 18) and the pattern drop on November 30. I am already imaging the fiber loveliness that will become an elongated, textured shawl since Christina’s previous patterns gave me these crafted beauties.

You can even follow everyone’s progress on Instagram: @thehealthyknitter by checking the hashtags: #projectpeace2020 and #knitforpeace.  

Knitting

Amsterdam

Vintage travel posters inspire a new exclusive fiber series from frabjous fibers & Wonderland Yarns. Amsterdam was the June limited edition colorway and, while this vibrant multi-colored skein was definitely outside my normal color spectrum, Richard and I so loved our time in Amsterdam and the colors are so reminiscent of the city-scape that it became a must have. The Windmill Shawl features a simple lace design reminiscent of the country’s many windmills to which I added a picot edging.

My Egypt travel kit is already on order from Northfield Yarn. I have wonderful memories from my trip to exotic Cairo with time in Giza and a picnic along the Suez Canal. Although the lush green tones of that skein are not the colors of my memories, then again, I did visit in June.

PS – And just because I’ve always wondered (and you might too), here is the etymology of frabjous: An adjective coined by Lewis Carroll in Through the Looking-Glass meaning splendid or magnificent.