Adventurous April 2018

More Knitting With Blue Faced Leicester

On the heels of yesterday's post, I thought it would be fun to share more of the projects, like yesterday's Little Plum Shawlette, knit in Blue Faced Leicester yarn by the incredibly talented group of knitters who have been helping me test yarns.

Collage1

These test knits use a variety of different BFL based yarns. The cowl on the top left was knit in Elliebelly BFL Superwash. The brown portion of the floral socks is knit in Elliebelly BFL Sock, the same yarn used in yesterday's shawlette. The red mitts are knit in Elliebelly BFL Aran, the original BFL yarn I dyed and still my favorite yarn to knit with.  The green socks are knit in Elliebelly BFL Constant, a yarn I was originally hesitant to dye because of its high nylon content.  I convinced myself to try it because of its potential to result in super strong socks for kids, but ironically, it has become one of my favorite sweater yarns as well.  The nylon in no way alters the feel of the BFL and the yarn resists pilling and takes color beautifully.

Collage2

For Ruxton, the green shawl in the upper left hand corner of this collage, we are back to BFL Superwash Sport.  I adore this yarn and it's paired perfectly with this pattern, which is such a clever, textural knit.  The red sweater is knit in Elliebelly BFL Cash-Silk Sock, a blend of 70% BFL, 20% Silk, and 10% Cashmere.  It took only a couple of projects, this being one of them, to convince me this yarn was a keeper and compared favorably to other luxury blend yarns.   The sweater with the large cable down the front is knit with two fingering weight yarns held together for a marled effect.  One of them is the ever-versatile BFL Sock.  Definitely not just a sock yarn.  The lacey blue sweater is also knit from BFL Sock.

Conclusions?  You should all run out and find some yarn with Blue Faced Leicester and knit with it.  Now.  Seriously, it's wonderful yarn.  And fortunately, you won't have to go to England to  buy some like I did originally.  Although Elliebelly yarn isn't being sold currently, there are a number of good commercial and indie options for buying BFL and I encourage you to enjoy the experience of knitting with it.

The first purpose I envisioned for this yarn was diaper cover pants for babies who were cloth diapered.  It's fabulous for that purpose, and if you want to see some of my earliest dyeing and favorite projects, you'll find a few pages of adorable projects for babies on Ravelry.

image from images4-e.ravelrycache.com© elliesmomm  Elliebelly BFL in the Guppy Creek Colorway

Adventurous April 2018

A Simple Knit Scarf

One of my favorite fibers to work with is the wool of Blue Faced Leicester (BFL) sheep.  It is a long fiber wool and quite light, so it produces soft yarn with the additional benefit of a pretty sheen, much like wool fiber that is blended with silk.  It produces a strong fabric that is perfect for socks and has long been a staple of British knitters, but it was relatively unknown here 16 years ago.  I first stumbled upon it on a trip (because I visit yarn shops on family vacations.  I just do) and picked some up to use for diaper covers for my daughter.  And I was instantly hooked.  It became one of my favorite fibers to knit with and later, to dye.

image from forums-d.ravelrycache.com

BFL is increasingly well-known to US knitters. Canadian and American raised BFL is spun into yarn along with its counterpart from Great Britain.  Lately, I've been testing different blends and spins of BFL yarns to try and come up with a few favorite yarns.  And, I admit, it's virtually impossible, because I like them all.  This project is the Little Plum Shawlette and it is knit in BFL Sock, a 100% fingering weight yarn, not treated with superwash, that is primarily intended for socks but is versatile enough to work for scarves and other accessories.

Over the years since I first discovered with it, I've knit frequently with Blue Faced Leicester and the results are always pleasing.

BFL Projects

A quick note about the purple scarf pattern.  It was released the month that Prince died and the designer's description of the pattern made it impossible for me to pass up, especially since I had some yarn on hand that I had dyed in my oldie but goodie Purple Rain colorway:

 I have loved Prince since the 1980s and was so sad to learn that he died suddenly. This shawlette has stitches that each commemorate a song by The Artist. I get that this is MAJORLY dorky, but when I was between designs, Michelle from Bo Peep Fine Yarns messaged me suggesting a Prince commemoration. So, when you’re a knitter, you knit, and when you’re a fan, you fangirl (yes, that’s a verb….my 12 year old daughter knows.) So, this is me fan-girling in an utterly mortifying way, no doubt!

This must be made while watching Prince videos or listening to his music. But you knew this, anyway. If there’s any desire for a KAL, let me know…although I’m probably one of only 3 Prince knitting fans!

There are 6 elements that commemorate Prince in this design, from bottom to top:

1 – Purple Rain drops
2 – Diamonds and Pearls
3 – Doves
4 – Doves again because this is my favorite song.
5 ”X’s” for “Kiss”
6 Seed stitch…it works round and round and is a a cool kitty. And I love it.
7. As an afterthought, the shawlette is skinny, just like Prince!

Adventurous April 2018

Adventurous April KAL: The Third Yarn Giveaway

This week's yarn giveaway for the Elliebelly Adventurous April KAL will let you get a head start on organization for the KAL.  To win, set up your project page for the KAL on Ravelry.  Here's mine, as an example.

IMG_9785

If you haven't set up a project page before, it's easy.  Go into Ravelry and find the pattern you are going to knit, then click on the link to start the project.  Once you create your project, you can click edit to adjust the details, for instance giving your project a name and showing an April 1, 2016 start date.  You can do this even if you haven't picked a pattern yet, by naming a project and choosing a personal pattern (not in Ravelry) as your pattern for now, with the ability to go in and edit it once you decide.  

Hashtag

The most important thing to do?  Tag your pattern with ElliebellyAdventurousApril2016 (all one word) and Elliebelly.  On Saturday, I'll search the tags on Ravelry and randomly select winners from those who've tagged their projects this way, so it's important to get it in there exactly right so that your project shows up in the search results.  There will be some yarn included in this giveaway that is worsted weight for those knitting Rye as well as some fingering weight for those planning on doing Zigzagular or other traditional sockweight patterns.  Put enough info into your project page so that I know which weight of yarn to send you if you are one of the lucky winners!

If you haven't signed up yet for the Elliebelly Adventurous April Knit Along, all the details you need to know can be found in the Ravelry group.  Leave a comment below if you need any additional help and I'll get back to you.  You don't have to have Elliebelly yarn for this KAL — knit with anything your heart desires.  But, I'll be doing a few more giveaways this month to insure there is Elliebelly yarn available to help out those who want to knit with it.

 

Adventurous April 2018

Aster

image from images4-d.ravelrycache.com

 

© Quince & Co.

Knitting with linen is always tricky.  Swatching isn't as exact, because your fabric with ease up significantly with repeat washings and lengthen if the garment has any weight at all to it.  And, because I have a very loose gauge from the get go, swatching is even riskier business for me on linen.

Swatch1

My first swatch for Aster was on size 8 needles.  The pattern recommends 9.  And it was huge.  Very pretty but huge.  I would have knit a monster size garment.

Swatch2a

I went down to size 6 needles and after washing, blocking and stretching the swatch (to imitate normal wear), I had gauge.  Or at least, I had stitch gauge.  My row gauge is off for the garter stitch piece. Interestingly, the pattern suggests going down a size when you hit the garter stitch block at the top, and that gives me row gauge.  But not stitch gauge.  So I'll do some math-fu on that part.

 

After swatching, I was distracted by two sweet little stray kittens who came to live with us this week. Aren't they cute?  They ADORE knitting.  This is not a good thing.

Started

This pattern calls for negative ease, and I'm knitting it for my daughter, so I chose the 31.5" size.  The next size up, at 34" would have been far too large.  The start is stockinette stitch, and you can see that it rolls.  The roll up at the bottom concerned me, but looking at the pattern photos I saw a slight roll. I'm hopeful that as the garment grows in size, its weight will work on that.

A littlemore

I'm not sure that hope is going to work out, because I'm past the first set of decreases, but I still have a roll of linen.  And on the gauge front, as I thought might happen, even with my best efforts to knit tightly, I'm still getting enough fewer stitches over time that I'm please with the choice of the 31.5" size. It's too early to tell if that will hold up, but as of right now, even with the stretching that is inevitable as the garment grows, I think I should get a good fit.

Finally, a word about the yarn.  This is Quince and Co's linen tape yarn, Kestrel.  I love their sport weight linen, Sparrow, which is a typically spun yarn, and which I used for Lida last summer.

image from images4.ravelrycache.com

The verdict is still out on Kestrel.  I had a knot in the first skein after knitting three rows, which did not get us off to a friendly start together.  But this is a good project to test it out on and see how it performs.

Adventurous April 2018

Clapotis: An Old Knitting Favorite

Calpotis

In 2009 I knit a Clapotis out of linen.  To be precise, that is Elliebelly Chemise in the Nassau Colorway.

Every year, around this time I take my summer clothes out of storage, and fall in love Clapotis all over again.  Kate Gilbert's brilliant pattern stands the test of time.  And, in linen, Clapotis is decorative, protective from the sun, a little bit of extra warmth – all as needed.

It's interesting how some knits remain favorites for ever.  This Clapotis, my second one, knit up much more quickly than the first.  It's much smaller and I understood the pattern going into it.  It's very simple.  And yet, I reach for it constantly. 

What knits have stood the test of time for you?  What patterns do you see out there that you think could achieve that status in your knitting?  My other knit in this category is Lida, which I finished just last year, and which I wear constantly.

Adventurous April 2018

Elliebelly’s Adventurous April KAL 2015 Begins

The Knit Along isn't actually beginning just yet, but I'm winding my yarn and gathering my notions so I will be all ready on April 1.  Looking for a KAL to join?  Our pattern, Antarktis, is a one skein project that is beginner appropriate and we are lots of fun to knit with!  You can use any yarn you want, and, if knitting a scarf/shawl isn't your thing, we also have a stuffed animal and a "learn a new technique" category.  Sign up for the Elliebelly group on Ravelry here, introduce yourself in the threads and feel free to join in with us!

Mcnladymary

I've selected my yarn after lots of back and forth.  It's Elliebelly's MCN (merino/cashmere/nylon) High Twist in a fingering weight.  It's a pale robin's egg blue called Lady Mary (if you watch Downton Abbey, you'll remember the dress that inspired the colorway!)

Seasilk

My runner up choice is this Elliebelly Seasilk  in Jabot.  I went with the Cashmerino blend because the Seasilk doesn't grow as much when blocked, and pattern designer Janina Kallio stresses the importance of selecting a yarn that will block well.

I'm all set.  I've got my new Darn Pretty Needles all ready to go, along with my yarn in a pretty linen bag from Churchmouse.  See you on Wednesday for the start of knitting nirvana as we all cast on.

 

 

Adventurous April 2018

Monkey Back

**if you are looking for the post about the Elliebelly Knit-Along and yarn giveaway, click here.**

I’m back to knitting Monkey. And Monkey now has a back.

Head n body

I’m completely enamored with this knit and am starting to envision an entire zoo, full of knitted animals.

Fortunately, I’m not the only one. We’ve decided to include a group for knit stuffed animals and monsters as part of the Adventurous April KAL. I’m planning a cat or bunny to follow Monkey.

There are an amazing variety of fabulous knit stuffed animal patterns on Ravelry, many of them free.

If you’ve never knit a stuffed toy, you should come join us in the KAL. And if you have made one or more in the past, you should come knit with us and share your ideas and expertise. Toys are not something I ever saw myself knitting, but my best friend and I have a 30-year tradition of exchanging gifts, so when I saw the original Monkey Jacobus pattern, I couldn’t resist. And now, I’m hooked!