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!


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!


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!)


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.




Knitting with Dragons. Color Choices. Why I Knit.

Drachenfels, which means Dragon Cliffs in German, is also a wonderful pattern by Melanie Berg for a multi-colored, knit shawl.


(c) Melanie Berg (with permission)

My plan is to knit it with sport-weight cashmere from The Plucky Knitter.

The issue?  Color selection.  I have some choices ahead.


Choice One: the blue color is Thank You Note, and truth be told, it is probably my all time favorite color.  The green is called Good Old Days, and the first time I saw it, I wondered who could possibly like it.  The answer is me.  I've got a hat on my needles in it, a sweater in a related shade in progress, and plans to do another sweater (because I want a pullover in this color in addition to the cardigan I'm knitting). I adore it, and although as a kid I was told I couldn't wear green, this one works for me.  And gray.  Because I love gray.


Choice Two: It's hard to capture the depth of this teal blue-green.  It's the same color as the Olivia I currently have in progress, which I've also been unable to get an accurate color photo of.


Choice Three: I am not a colorful person.  But I could be, especially if I knit Drachenfels up like this!


Choice Four: Ignore Thank You Note on the left, and focus on the delicious introduction of Cabernet, the red, with the pink (Decorum Dictates) and the light gray.  This one might be impossible to resist.


Choice Five: My original thought was to go with the two grays and the scummy green.  But the contrast wasn't high enough.  Then Decorum Dictates, the blush pink, dropped into my lap while they were out.  The three on the left — pink, gray, and green.


Choice Six: Another strong contender (ok, they are all strong contenders or we wouldn't be having this wishy-washy post), I originally thought about doing this is the red and grays combination, and this is the yarn I ordered for Drachenfels.  And I still love it.  I love them all.  I think they would all be splendid.  So, I'm having a hard time deciding.


Choice Seven: Finally, there is this lovely concoction of gray, blue, and red.  It will look good with black, which is a must in my wardrobe.  It is both unusual and familiarly comforting.  I like it a lot.  But then, as we have previously established, I like all of them.

So help me out.  Let me know what you like and why.  What would be practical.  What would be whimsical.  Help me decide on colors for my Drachenfels, and consider joining me! Drachenfels has been knit 511 times on Ravelry (as of this posting) and in such a wide variety of yarns!

This project pretty much sums up why I knit.  Beautiful colors.  Wonderful, soft fibers.  Texture.  The planning is as much fun as the knitting.  The finished project will be surreal.  Truly, I cannot wait!



Knitting Nae, Continued.

Diane, whose beautiful photoblog is well-worth checking out, commented that she wanted to knit a Nae, but was confused by the pattern.  It can be hard to visualize before you get about one-quarter of the way into it, so here are some thoughts and pictures to help.

Photo 1

The start is the point on the left in this photo, with the cast on of a few stitches.  At this point, you begin work on what will be a 3" band of moss stitch, and it will run across the top of your shawl.  To orient yourself, visualize the start of the shawl as the top left-hand corner point of a triangle, where the base edge will be along the top of your knitting, and the point will be bottom center as your knitting grows.  This is surprisingly hard to explain — I'm not so sure that helps, so here's a bit more.

Photo 2

The starting point of the project is still on the left.  As you continue to knit the moss stitch border, on the top here, you also begin to knit the stockinette stitch triangle below it.  You do this, starting on the right side of the project, with what at first is just a couple of the stockinette stitches.  See how few stitches are on the row over on the left side?  You grow the triangle with one increase, after the first knit stitch on every right side row (every other row).  I followed the advice of some knitters who suggested increasing every fourth row, to get a less steep line.  You can see my big blue marker, reminding me to increase.  From that point on, you continue, doing the stockinette portion first, followed by the moss stitch border, and then you turn your work for the wrong side row.

Photo 3

You get a better idea of it once you see it in progress.  This is about one-third of the way in.

Photo 4

And here, you can see the start of the project on the left, with the moss stitch border first increasing to its full 3" width, and then the stockinette portion beginning to increase once the border is in place.

Diane, I hope this makes it all clear.  It's a lovely pattern, and although summer trips have cut into my knitting time, I want to finish this up before cooler weather hits.


Knitting with Malabrigo

We are twelve days into the source of knitting inspiration known on Ravelry as Malabrigo March — a month set aside for casting on projects to get you through several months, if not a year's, worth of knitting.  Seeing everyone's projects has been motivating and fun.  Without further ado, here are the projects I have been working on this month.


My first cast on was a Deux Hat, knit from Malabrigo's Rasta yarn in Stitch Red.  This pattern has been in my queue for a long time.  It was a good quick knit and using Rasta for it means this hat is going to be soft and warm.


Next up was Veera Välimäki's Shimmer in Blue, knit in Malabrigo Mecha in the Pocion colorway.  Mecha is a newer yarn base for Malabrigo.  It is a single-ply yarn, somewhere between a worsted and an aran weight. I used it previously and fell instantly in love.  Mecha was perfect for this pattern, knit mostly in garter stitch with four traveling cables.  I finished this cowl up earlier this week and still need to get a picture of it in action, but the bottom line is that this is a clever and very warm pattern that I wouldn't hesitate to knit again.

Raise malabrigo's barn

I've been working on a Barn Raising Quilt for my daughter for a looooong time, knitting a square a month with some long droughts.  I need to kick this project back into gear this year, as I'd like to have the finished quilt by the end of 2015 and I want to knit 20 or so more squares.  This one, in Malabrigo Sock in the Piedras colorway, is coming along nicely.


Modern garden 2

In addition to being Malabrigo March, this has apparently been a month of Veera's patterns for me.  This is another one, Modern Garden.  Modern Garden is a cardigan, knit all in one piece from the bottom up.  The sleeves are knit separately and then knit in once you reach the yoke á la Elizabeth Zimmerman.  The shaping is cleverly incorporated into othe leaf design.  

This pattern has been a challenge for me for two reasons.  First, I needed a different size on the bottom of the sweater than the top, so I've worked math magic — never my strong suit — to make that change around the waist.  The verdict is still out on that one. I also had a bad encounter with a buttonhole.  I forgot to make the second one and was less than thrilled about ripping back six rounds to insert it.  With the encouragement of a couple of very kind knitters on Ravelry, I laddered down and inserted the buttonhole over three stitches in the proper place.  To my surprise, the surgery was a great success.  Although I have used laddering in the past to fix a stitch, this was a fix of a different magnitude and I was delighted that it worked.  I'll devote a future post to documenting the method, as I was so grateful to receive help in accomplishing this fix.

Douglas fir brim

Douglas Fir is a hat with a special brim.  It has an intriguing twisted rib stitch that took some effort to figure out but turned out to be well worth the time.  I'm into the upper part of the hat now and hoping to have it finished for my youngest to wear on spring break, since green is his color.

Gray cowl

The last project I cast on is a simple gray cowl in Rasta.  The colorway is Plomo.  This is the same pattern I used to make a blue cowl last month.  The pattern is a 3×1 rib with a twisted purl stitch that.  This one is a tighter fit around the neck than the blue cowl and will be taller — more of a cowl and less of a scarf.

As these projects zing along, I've got several others planned.  I have two trips planned towards the end of the month, so I'm thinking about portable knitting.  In addition to finishing the quilt square, I'm going to cast on some bedroom slippers in Mecha.


Time permitting, I also have plans to cast on an Underwater Garden Shawl in Malagrigo Worsted, a Metallurgy Cowl in a beautiful pewter gray Malabrigo Silky Merino colorway called Smoke, and a Fuego Hat in Worsted.  I've been tickled by all of the Malabrigo March knitters with mottos like "Go Big or Go Home" and "Cast On All Things."  A little bit of sillyness in life is a good thing.  I like my knitting with a side-helping of laughter and Malabrigo March has been great in that regard.


The First Week Of The Elliebelly Knit Along

Two weeks ago we casted on for the first ever Elliebelly Knit Along.  In the two weeks since, there has been masterly knitting, some early finishers, a lot of talk about pattern selection, tasty yarn pictures, and, exactly what I needed, encouragement for getting my fall knitting out and going strong.

Today I thought I would share some of the projects with you.  They are all so beautiful, but I've got a few at random (the knitters who I was able to catch up with and insure it was okay to share their pictures and projects), so I will start with these few and show off the rest over the next couple of weeks.

You are in for some serious eye candy in this one!

Siobahn is knitting mitts for her Mom, a nurse.  Actually, I should say past tense, knit, as she is so amazingly quick that despite using a sock yarn, Elliebelly Ellie-Blue BFL Sock, she is finished.  Isn't her Mom lucky?  The pattern is Alexandra Brinck's Fishtail Wristwarmers and the colorway is "Purple Rain."


Siobahns wristwarmers

Cricket is knitting this amazing sweater and bloomers set.  She is using Carina Spencer's convertible bloomers pattern and Elliebelly's Ellie-Blue Aran BFL yarn in Cupcake.



My cousin Ann is knitting a Shoulder Scarf using some yarn she spun from Elliebelly Alpaca Roving.

Anns yarn


She is an amazing spinner and knitter and my best role model.  Isn't that scarf an artwork in its own right?  It is so simple and so beautiful.  I cannot wait to see it completed.

Clarissa is knitting the Storm Cloud Shawlette by Hanna Breetz.  I'm particularly interested in seeing how this turns out as I have some yarn earmarked for the same pattern.  She is using Elliebelly's Sea Wool in "Chihuly."



Tina knit Cappuchine for an incredible little model, using Elliebelly Ellie-Blue Bulky BFL.  I've never noticed this pattern before, but now, I can't wait to knit it.  Tina managed to show the yarn off to perfection.

  image from www.flickr.com

The last bit of knit-porn for the day is Jenn's Citron, using Elliebelly's Juliet Sock Yarn in Marmalade.


Jenn's knitting is so pretty that I feel like she has captured a piece of the sun and is knitting it.

There is a lot of very cool knitting going on these days.  I'm really grateful to everyone who is participating in the knit along for all of the fun and inspiration it's bringing me!


Enough (Knitted) Ruffles for Ellie

Ellie kindly agreed to model the finished "Enough Ruffles for Joyce" scarf so you all could see her new short hair.  And of course, I couldn't resist playing with Photoshop just a wee bit.



The scarf is, of course, still all blue.



I'm incredibly happy with the way it turned out.  The cashmere is fantastic, the color just right, the pattern, as promised, enough without being too much.


I am as happy with the scarf with the tails worn long and hanging down as I am with it wrapped double around.


And, the scarf even appears to have magical powers.  It knocked Ellie straight out asleep when she put it on after arduously playing the role of model for me.