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

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. 

Knitting

Three to Get Ready

While my Ravelry project page certainly records sweaters, specifically nine before 2020, sweaters were not my go-to knitting project.  The amount of work and time required coupled with horror tales of projects gone wrong with elephantine results kept me working on lots of shawls and scarves.  Items where gauge and size were less crucial.  Then I found Marie Greene and her 4-day sweater challenge.  Admittedly, my Foxtrot took over two months to complete but I was so pleased with the results that I selected another of Marie’s patterns, Houghton, to knit a sweater for Mom using a lush English merino-mohair blend.  Then, thinking ahead to fall travels (in pre-Covid times) I knit the same cardigan for myself using the same yarn in the same color and even the same buttons.  This became the first of my 2020 sweaters.  Soundtrack, another 4-day challenge completed in 22-days, was sweater #2.

Now, just off the needles and the blocking squares is Happy Hour.  Designed around the pre-Covid memory of outings with friends for happy hour, the sweater includes a colorwork yoke with a 3 PM, 4 PM or 5 PM pattern repeat, as well as a fanciful repeat on each sleeve.  I opted for three pattern repeat with a nod to an early toast at the end of the work day.

In this very strange year when daily wear is almost exclusively comfy casual clothes with only an infrequent ZOOM meeting to show off three new sweaters I have transformed 4,397 yards into three sweaters all within 41 weeks.  My far flung Knit Camp buddies have offered encouragement and instruction making it all happen, as well as another 18 smaller projects for family, friends, and fundraising service auctions.  Happy knitting!

Knitting

Traveling to the Beach – Virtually

After years of attending library conferences that were defined by long days, lots of sessions, vendor meetings, networking and tasty meals shared with colleagues, as well as visiting unique locations – Wrigley Field, Independence Hall, or walking the Golden Gate Bridge, I am experiencing conference life – Covid style.

Repos Hat in a squishy Merino & cashmere blend

Just this month, I participated in restful meditations while knitting my Repos Hat with Solène Le Roux, a French knitting artist whose work I love.  Her Zoom and Facebook Live sessions featured daily themed meditations in French and English, as well as stitch instruction that complimented her most recent five part mystery knit-along (KAL). (French to English translation: repos – rest)

After those quiet days, I joined the exuberant Marie Greene and her Olive Knit team for the inaugural beach and camp themed Knit Camp at the Coast.  I joined hundreds and hundreds of knitters from around the world.  (Although, I was in a couple of breakout groups with people from Carver, Rochester and Zumbrota, Minnesota – small world!)  I learned new techniques for socks and stranded knitting which I can incorporate into current projects on my needles, tackled my first Brioche sample (that is going to take a lot more practice) and even took restful breaks led by Yoga for Knotted Knitters – great for my tense shoulders.

My comfort level with traveling in this time of Covid is very low (non-existent actually) so while I hope to join others in real places for future workshops and tours, the virtual learning and crafting opportunities are just right for 2020. Happy knitting!

Knitting

Stitches out of order

A recent review of my Ravelry project page confirms what I already knew – – I like cables.  River Cowl was finished just today and features a subtle cable pattern that draws the eye from top to bottom.

River Cowl

While 1/1 cables usually are not my favorite construction element (I prefer a more robust design), I was intrigued by the subtle shifting of just one stitch either to the front or the back used to create the River Cowl.  I discovered pattern designer, Tamara Moot, and I share a love of Dr. Who and River Song (the inspiration of this design) is a favorite character for both of us.  Moot shares:

These elegant yet simple cables evoke River Song with the added bonus that the stitch pattern closely resembles the symbol for water or river found in the Southwest desert petroglyphs.

Cables are created by knitting groups of stitches out of order.  Stitches held in the back result in a right leaning twisted column and, if held to the front, the twist will lean to the left.  The larger the number of stitches shifted, the larger the fold in the resulting fabric.

Each of my three Building Block Shawls (2013-2014) had at least two squares or panels with cables.  Churchmouse’s Following Seas Cabled Scarf and Reversible Cable Scarf have been go-to patterns for me. Between these two, I have gifted a combo of seven scarves.  All the while knitting a creative collection of cabled cowls, hats, fingerless mitts, two sweaters and even a pair of mystery knit-a-long socks.

My project queue holds an intricate Celtic Cable scarf and a shawl that incorporates a beautiful Irish Saxon Braid border.  So many patterns, much yarn, so little time…