Sunday, January 29, 2012

Truly Scrumptious

This cowl I've just finished for  my daughter is truly, truly scrumptious.
(This is me in the cowl -- I'll post pictures of my daughter modeling when she sends them.)

Triangle Loop  cowl
  • a free pattern from Erica Knits (see the link above)
  • I used Fyberspates DK/Worsted Scrumptious yarn, 45% silk, 55% merino wool.  Color 109, slate; and 110, natural.  One skein of each color.
  • Size 7 (4.5 mm) bamboo needle - 16" circular
Quite a few people have made this cowl - but few have blogged about the things I would have liked some company to think about.  The most terrifying thing about this cowl is also the most wonderful.  You knit it, stranded fair isle (not intarsia, as the pattern says) in the round.  The instructions have you cast on provisionally, and then at the end, graft the two ends together.  The wonderful thing is you end up with a truly eternal loop - no beginning, no end, not even any edges.  Done right, it's phenomenal.  I took a picture with a couple of ends still poking out, just so you could see where the whole thing began & ended.   The ends are poking out only because I left them that way ON PURPOSE for this picture.  You can see a bit of a jog when the pattern moves from row to row, but you can't see the cast on, or cast off, because when it's finished, there isn't any.
 The next two paragraphs are full of knitting angst.  If you aren't a knitter, or are anxiety averse, feel free to skip them and read the last paragraph before you leave.

The terrifying thing about the beginning being the end is grafting stranded knitting onto stranded knitting.   On the "top" side, that's not so bad - but think about the loops that are revealed when a provisional cast-on is removed.  The "bottom" loops are actually the part of the yarn that is leading from one stitch to another -- and when the work is stranded, some of those loops are part of a strand that is carried over several stitches.

I wish I'd taken a picture of this -- but the funny thing is, it turns out, if you're careful, it's no big deal.  In fact, this grafting is more intuitive than kitchener stitch at the toe of a sock.  I started out leaving the waste yarn to my provisional cast on in place.  But I realized, even before I started down this road, that at some point I'd have trouble, since I didn't want to leave a whole row of waste yarn INSIDE my cowl.  So after the first inch or so, I got brave and ran a needle through those loops that I needed to graft into.  And then I cut off the provisional stitches.  And nothing horrible happened.  At the point the grafting takes place (the first stitches you knit) there are five white stitches in a row, then a slate stitch.  So those long slate carries look a little precarious.  But in fact, the grafting is like duplicate stitch -- unlike sock toes, in which your work is half a stitch off, these stitches line up.  My grafting, which created a row of, shall we say, sewn knitting, created the next row, or last row, in the pattern repeat.  It worked great -- a little fiddly with two colors (& two threaded needles) but really, great.  I didn't follow any instructions, I just followed my knitting.  Of course, the 38 other people on Ravelry who've made this loop didn't think it was any big deal.  Or if they did, they didn't mention it.  Their cowls look great too.  So maybe not over-thinking would have been better.  If you've followed this digression, you're thinking that too.

Tomorrow this delicious cowl goes off to my daughter.  She goes to school only two and a half hours north of us, but it's always much colder there.  I hope it keeps her warm.  I hope she loves it.  I love it.  If I didn't love her, I'd probably keep it for myself!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Our Kind of Birthday

My sister and I have a tradition. Having birthdays a week apart, and being the same age (in whole numbers) for a week each year, we love to celebrate together with our mom and our youngest sister, and all our husbands.

This year was a special celebration, and today was a special day. My sister and I are both 50 today, and for a few more days yet (before I get, alas, even older). Today her wonderful husband treated us all to a VIP wine tasting lunch at Airfield Estates winery.

What a great celebration it was -- we tasted wine from the vats, had a wonderful lunch, and tasted more wonderful wines while we were at it.  It's a family owned winery - and the vineyards are on a farm that began life as a WWII airfield, a part of local history new to me.  We were treated with just the right amount of attention - friendly, but leaving us plenty of time to visit and celebrate.
There was cake.

And there were presents.

Though I received lovely gifts, I was also very excited about the gift I gave --
Trish Woodson's My Kind of Town Cowl.  If you're interested in the knitterly knitty-gritty, you can check out my project page on Ravelry.   I adjusted the pattern to the less chunky yarn I was using, the wonderful Fyberspates Scrumptious Chunky, a silk-wool blend.  The color, called water, is gorgeous, and I think looks great with my sister's eyes (though the light in the tasting room library is too dim to show this well). 

My birthday isn't even here yet, but already, it's a good one.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Top 5 Knitting Projects of 2011

Knitting 2011
My top 5 knitting projects of 2011 are also my ONLY knitting projects of 2011. I didn't finish (or even start) too many things. Also in the picture is the tablecloth quilt I made for my dining room. We use it nearly every day, so I consider it a great success. It's also my first quilt, and I'm proud of it

I'm a tiny bit disappointed there aren't more projects in this picture. On the other hand -- look what I did! The afghan turned out better than I expected. The scarf & mittens are worn. The En Pointe sweater (the rose colored sweater with the twist in front) is one of my favorite sweaters to wear. The whisper cardi has yet to prove itself, but spring will come.

I have two projects on the needles now. The Kelmscott sweater is more than a third of the way finished. And there's another yet to be revealed project in the works.

Happy 2012! Happy knitting, and living, to us all!