What Comes Next?

Linen yarn, wound for hand towel

In 2006, I bought Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne's Mason Dixon Knitting book the week it came out.  I read it cover to cover, like a novel.  I had been back to knitting casually: a hat here, a scarf there, perhaps a baby sweater, since my third child turned five in 2003 and was given a knitting kit for her birthday.  And it was nothing like the knitting I had done as a child when my Grandmother taught me, or even as a teenager, or more rarely, in college.  It was easy to find great yarn and books of patterns I couldn't wait to knit.  I constantly had a project on the needles.  I had gone through the holding two or three different yarns together to knit a scarf phase, a felting phase, and  a regrettable exercise with some questionable yarn that resulted in a confetti textured baby sweater for a friend's daughter that I still have serious pangs of guilt about.  I was ready to move on, but not quite sure what to.

image from farm2.static.flickr.com

Ravelry, the knitter's Mecca, wasn't in existence when I purchased my copy of Mason Dixon Knitting.  It was that long ago!  And the book changed my entire approach to knitting.  The patterns were useful, lovely, even heirloom quality items.  I was instantly drawn to all of them.  I was particularly drawn to the afghans, but the projects seemed to large for a working mom with three young children.  The Bubbly Curtain called my name as well, but seemed similarly large and unmanageable, despite its practical appeal.  So I settled on a much smaller Moss Stitch Linen hand towel, and purchased the yarn for it, Louet's Euroflax Original sport weight 100% linen.

I moved on to new projects, but I never knit the hand towel.  Inspired by Kay and Ann and their adventurous approach to knitting, I made a cotton dress for my daughter and designed a simple skirt pattern in a riotous array of Be Sweet yarn that my daughter wore every day for a month after I finished it.  Seriously.  Every day.  I was made brave as I read and reread sections of the Mason Dixon knitting book.  The casual can-do approach to knitting inspired me to pick up projects that had previously seemed out of reach. I knit my first pair of socks, fell in love, and knit several more.  I knit a Clapotis, even though it took me months.  It was a wonderful time for me as a knitter!  But still, I never picked up the linen yarn, which was dazzlingly white and very pretty.

Earlier this month, I went searching for that yarn.  Suddenly, I had to knit the hand towel. I reorganized all of my yarn, which lives in cubbies in a walk in closet in my studio.  There it was, in the back of one of the cubbies with my Sanguine Gryphon, waiting for me.


It's wound now, and ready to be my September 1 project.  I know from experience that knitting with linen can be a bit slow for me, so I suspect I'll knit this on and off with other projects.  But I am so excited to be knitting it at long last.  And so grateful to the long ago discovery of a book that his given me so much and continues to give.


Dyeing Roving For Spinners

Dyeing roving is a little bit magical!


The colors always seem to play so nicely.  Roving is carded fiber that is reading for spinning, in this case, a very fine Merino. The addition of color makes it beautiful, but can be a little tricky.  Roving requires very careful handling to avoid felting the fibers, and a nice, slow drying time, followed by some gentle fluffing to loosen up any fiber that has become compacted while wet.

This roving is going off to a friend for spinning.  I can't wait to see what she does with it.  It's always unpredictable — you can't quite imagine how the roving will spin up (see an example here).  Handspun yarn is so pretty that I often  keep a skein on my desk just for its looks.  But it deserves to be knit with and one of my knitting resolutions is to knit with my handspun more often.  The results are always wonderful.  I have some of this yarn sitting around, waiting to become something.

image from joycevance.typepad.com

And I'm hoping to use the yarn from the roving pictured at the top to trim a gray hat and mittens set.



The World Of Knitters: Endless Possibilities


Look at that!  My husband may just see a "why is that bag of yarn taking up so much space?" but I see endless possibilities.  That yarn is my true love in the knitting world, Aran weight Blue Faced Leicester, fresh in from Scotland and the most wonderful of yarns.  Because it comes in limited quantities I have to be careful about what I devote it to, and will be planning this batch down to the last skein.

The wonderful thing about being a knitter is that your world is always full of endless possibilities.  And if one project goes poorly, you can always cast on another!

Because I'm down to the last couple of inches of the body on my Mithril sweater, I'm in cast on mode.  I've decided to work on three projects, two shawls, Grannie Annie and Oak Park, both in the Plucky Knitter's Cachet Cashmere, and a color work hat, Vitsippa, as a warm up for the color work sweater I'm planning as my project for the fall.  And probably for the winter and spring too, because it's incredibly complex and clearly beyond my skills as a knitter!

I've got yarn selected for Oak Park and Vitsippa and am ready to wind and swatch this week.  Grannie Annie is going to require some serious color obsessing, which I will undoubtedly share with you.  I think it's one of those projects that depends heavily on color placement for success and since I'm working out of stash, it's going to take some deliberation.  I'm also pulling my Drachenfels out of work-in-progress time out.  I'm not really sure why it ended up there, but I'm looking forward to finishing up and wearing it when the whether turns chilly.  Which a girl can dream about happening, right?

Hope your summer knitting is going well.  If not, create some new possibilities for yourself and enjoy it!


My Knitting Weekend


This weekend, I'm dyeing some yarn.  That's "Blossom," the palest pink that I dye.


I'm knitting away on Mithril whenever I get a few free moments.


My doggies are showing their support by sleeping a lot.  That's Trouble and Miss Fig, the Boxer.


I finally got a good picture of the beautiful Ivette Cardigan my wonderful friend Rita knit for me.  We've known each other since we were pregnant with our now 17 year old daughters, and she is one of my knitting heroes.  She knit Ivette in Elliebelly Angel Fingering.  It's a blend of Alpaca, Silk, and Cashmere, and I wanted to see how it would knit up for a sweater.  Other than having to use sharp point needles to avoid any issues with splitting, she seems to have had a great time knitting it, and it's stunningly gorgeous.  I have cleverly blocked it out a little bit so that it's really too large for anyone other than me to wear.

In other knitting news, I managed a quick hour at In The Making, my local yarn shop, to try and pick out buttons for Lake Effect.


While there, I got to visit with Jamie Thomas, who writes really beautiful, wearable patterns.  Her newest pattern, Vested Interest, is knit in Quince's aran weight Linen ribbon yarn, Kestrel.  It's the perfect, light weight summer piece.  I sat in the shop and knit for a few minutes while I pretended to deliberate, but I knew I had to buy the pattern and the yarn on the spot.  I'm looking forward to casting on when I finish Mithril.  Isn't the yarn gorgeous?

     image from images4-d.ravelrycache.com© Jamie Thomas



Grayscale Photos For Selecting Colorways To Knit Together

Remember yesterday's post about selecting colors to knit a Big Island Wrapper?  I've been obsessing about which colors to choose and posted on Ravelry about my quandary.  A nice knitter responded with a tip I should have thought of first thing and wanted to share with you all, in case anyone else finds themselves picking among colors for a project (in other words, what knitters do every day).

The tip is, take a photo of your possibilities and grayscale it.


By removing the color hues from your photo, all you see are the color values.  This gives you a sense of whether you will get good contrast among your colors, assuming that is what you are after.  This process is particularly helpful for fair isle knitting and I use it religiously for that purpose.  But I didn't think to apply it here at first.  And I'm glad I did.  As a result, I've narrowed my choices to Peacock and Water Dancer, although I had started to lean towards Yosemite before looking at the grayscale photo.  Here is a repeat of the color photo from yesterday.


This isn't an absolute rule and for stripes or other non-stranded knitting, you may not want a high contrast.  But, this is a great tool to have in the knitter's tool kit.  It will help you get the results you want.


My Next Project: Big Island Wrapper

Although I'm in the middle of knitting a sweater, I'm planning to cast on a new project sometime this week.  I want a casual shawl for chilly early mornings when I drink tea and read the paper on the back deck and for evening walks at the beach.  And I found this gorgeous pattern.

Pattern pic© Little Church Knits

This is the Big Island Wrapper, a bulky shawl with some mesh bits and enough texture to keep the knitting interesting, while giving the option of combining some fun colors together.  Although it's written for a bulky cotton yarn, I'm going to knit mine in a bulky Blue Faced Leciester, for a bit of extra snuggle factor.  Cheryl/Little Church Knit's patterns are all really cute, and I debated two of her other shawls before deciding on this one, although I'm sure I'll come back to knitting both Marcelle and Diamonds for Lisa. Her sock patterns look awfully interesting as well. But this go round, I've chosen Big Island, and I'm excited about knitting it.

Basket of yarn

First, though, I'm going to have to make some color choices.  I've been doing some experimenting with layers of color on a skein for the last few months, and it just so happens that some of my favorites are on Elliebelly Big Blue, so I'm going to select from among them.  Here are my choices — I'm sad I can only pick three of them for this project, because I'm fond of them all together.


There are a lot of possibilities with these colors.  Since these colors are all experiments none of them have names yet, but I've put them together in groupings to try and help myself make a choice.

Color Choice Collage

To make the choice even more difficult, I've got some variegated skeins that would work in well, including this lovely skein of Madeline Tosh Chunky.

image from images4.ravelrycache.com

I've been debating the merits of the different possibilities back and forth all weekend.  I want something welcoming and inviting that will be very cozy — they all seem to fit the bill, although in very different ways.  I'm hoping one will emerge as my clear favorite so I can get started by midweek.  I need to mark up the pattern to use with Knit Companion, the program I use with my iPad for managing patterns, and then I'll be ready to start.




I’ve Got New Needles!

It started a long time ago with these pretties. 


These are my Vermont Applewood Interchangeably Darn Pretty Knitting Needles from Dyak Craft.  I love these guys.  But sadly, due to a supply failure in the laminated Dymondwood these needles are made from, they are no longer available.  And, if you're like me, you need a couple of sizes of each needle on hand.  So I ordered a pair of Dyak Craft's newest needles, their Northern Lights set in Robin's Egg Blue.  And they're here! 


I'm in love already!  It's a pretty set and the color will stand out nicely behind my knitting, making it easy to see.  I've cheated a bit — trying these out in a different finish before investing in the set, so I know I love the way the stitches slide off of the needles easily, but only when I want them to.


Next up for me is my long-awaited Mithril Tee in Elliebelly's Chemise Silk/Linen DK weight yarn.  New needles, new project.  What more could a girl ask for?