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§ April 29th, 2007 § Filed under Simpler stuff § 17 Comments

This has got to be the most unusual thing I have knit to date. (The nose-warmer I mentioned a few posts ago was a crochet attempt.) Any guesses about what it might be? It’s made from Cascade Fixation and took me a couple of hours. A welcome distraction from reading undergraduate research papers this weekend. It’s intended as a cover for a body part, of which we usually have two.


No, it’s not what you think. It’s an attempt to make a cotton eyeshade, to keep the light out when I sleep. They usually give these out in long haul flights. Well, at least the airlines that haven’t decided to avoid bankruptcy by saving big bucks on these extravagances, along with peanuts. I carefully save them, because while I can fall asleep anytime, anyday, anyplace, I need these shades to get it dark enough. But I keep losing the ones I have, and invariably after overhauling the bed linen I find one caked in dust bunnies under the bed and then can’t use it. The elastic for the last one I had  snapped last night so I thought I’d try making one out of cotton-elastic yarn. The chevron stitch is to help the patch undulate naturally and lie flat. As you can tell, it still needs some coaxing with blocking.

Did you ever think taking a picture of yourself with a digital camera was annoying? Try it blindfolded. If I didn’t have some dignity, I’d have posted the strange angles of my room and face that my camera captured as I flapped my arms wildly with this thing over my eyes.

I cast on 50 stitches, and knit in the chevron pattern (repeated twice over 25 stitches each) for 22 rows, with 3 row garter bands at the bottom and top. Then I picked up 13 stitches along one edge on the RS, and knit till it went around, slightly stretched, across the back of my head. Then I bound off in rib and sewed it to the other RS edge. Done! Oh, yarn was Cascade Fixation.

Should *anyone* want to make this, let me know, I’ll write up the pattern, gauge and all! I’m off to take a nap. If it works, I am going to try another one, this time knit entirely sideways.

Also, thank you, thank you so much to all my readers for the wonderful feedback on the North Sea Shawl! I loved making it and sharing the pictures with everyone, and my hands are already itching to start a new lace project. I was looking at this Faroese beauty, for instance. But it’s going to have to wait, sigh. 

North Sea Shawl, complete

§ April 23rd, 2007 § Filed under Lace work § 23 Comments

One of the best things about a lazy weekend is having an old friend to share it with, someone who knows your rhythms, your likes and dislikes. Even better when that friend is visiting, and not only sits around and talks to you nineteen to the dozen so you can knit and finish a project, but also helps you pin it out while blocking, and then models it for you. So this past weekend was a delight. My friend Latha visited me after  a long time, and between reminiscing about university, walking around the Italian neighbourhood and Chinatown in San Francisco and eating and drinking lots of good stuff, I managed to finish the North Sea Shawl from Cheryl Oberle’s "Folk Shawls" book.


This shawl has a fair bit of bounce before blocking, due to the garter stitch panels. But once blocked, it flattens out into the most gorgeous undulating pattern. The colour on the photo to the right, with the blocked shawl, is closer to the real shades. You can see the Malabrigo laceweight working its subtle shade magic. This yarn is too gorgeous for words.

Pattern notes:

Pattern: North Sea Shawl (Folk Shawls by Cheryl Oberle)

Yarn: Malabrigo laceweight in Damask Rose, used double throughout, on size 7 bamboo needles

Gauge: 26 st to 4 inches over the main lace pattern

Modifications: I shortened the number of repeats to make for a narrower shawl. I cast on 85 stitches instead of 109, and got a final width of 15 inches. The finished shawl is about 75 inches long.

I loved this project: it was quick, simple and beautiful. Minimal
effort, maximum joy, just a variation of Feather and Fan, with a short
central panel. You knit one side and the central panel, then the other
side and graft the two together, which took me quite a bit of time. But
I did 14 repeats on each of the side panels, and got a stole of decent
length. If you’re looking for a simple rectangular stole, I highly
recommend this pattern. It has the right mix of pattern to keep it
interesting and garter to keep it going.

I thought of the process of knitting this stole rather like knitting a largish
sock: 80 plus stitches, an 8 row repeat with a 12 stitch pattern
repeat, to be done twice and with light and portable enough for me to carry
around. Before I knew it, it was done! I think it’s a good idea to
think of it this way, because the tedium of a long, 75 inch rectangular pattern is somehow made much more tolerable that way.

Glimpses of afterlives

§ April 18th, 2007 § Filed under Caps, Hats, Etc., Rangoli patterns, Turkish Balaclava Cap § 11 Comments

Wow, thank you all for the responses to my blog poll! The crimson won out with 66 % of the votes, out of a total of 38. I am looking longingly (one last time?) at the forest green, but also looking long and hard and very meaningfully at the crimson! I like Opal’s suggestion that I could overdye it later, but let’s see. Quill, you were right that the green was being made into the BPT cabled cardigan from Knitty, but I am so bored with that project! Plus my cables were getting all puckered up at the increases and I was generally dissatisfied with it. Even if I don’t end up Ogee-ing it, it is not going to be BPT-ed any longer, alas.

Recently I got a couple of photos in my inbox, representing afterlives of my knitting adventures here. One is from the lovely Mary, who is the first one to make my Rangoli Hat! I am so excited! Thank you so much Mary for braving the pattern, and for turning out this absolutely gorgeous hat:


She didn’t block it over a plate because she likes this billowy look to it, which doesn’t give her hat hair! Mary it looks great on you! I love the flat picture of it in the sun, too.

(Now, if only the recipient of the original green piece I made would take a picture for this blog….)

The second picture is of my dear friend Madhavi, who is unfortunately braving mountains of snow and bitter cold in the northeast after years of living in friendlier climes. Many years ago in hostel she once persuaded me to design a nose-warmer for her (she hates the cold more than I do, which is something). I think I had crocheted one, but I am sure she never wore it. I wonder why, it even had strings to go over the ears! But as a mark of my sympathy for her freezing bones I sent her my Turkish balaclava hat. Here she is, totally wrapped up and surrounded by snow, but warm and smiling! Medu, stay warm!


Poll: Crimson or Green?

§ April 14th, 2007 § Filed under sweaters § 16 Comments

Thank you, thank you, thank you all for the enthusiastic response to my Spiral Scarf! It’s wonderful to get positive feedback, especially when you’ve tried something new. In keeping with my promise that it would not be the last project in the Knitting Nature book, I have been itching to get started on the Ogee tunic. But this is proving to be complicated in terms of yarn choice and gauge. I have two contenders: a heavily variegated, handpainted forest greenish yarn, and a bright crimson tightly spun British 5 ply guernsey. Both in stash, both enough to finish the sweater. Here are pics of the original, the green and the crimson:




Pros and cons of both:

The variegated: Pros: most of the tunic is stockinette and
this will show off the colours. Nice and soft. Cons: am concerned that the centre cable
will be obscured a bit by the change in colours. Plus, gauge is slightly off, needs some arithmetic.

The crimson: the tight ply will definitely show off
the cables very well. Gauge is correct. Cons: am concerned that people will have to use
shades when looking at it, or me wearing it. Plus, it softens when washed, but not that soft to knit with.

I’ve decided that it has to be either of the two, because I’m not buying any new yarn just yet. So which one? Please vote below and help me decide! The colours of both are accurate on my monitor.

Spiral Scarf (Knitting Nature) Complete!

§ April 8th, 2007 § Filed under Scarves § 26 Comments

It is a good feeling when after a lousy week of not feeling well and feeling like you’re never going to get anything done, you have two finished objects. The first is a paper on the 1857 Indian Mutiny/Rebellion that I’ve been working on for over a year now; I finally have it in some shape to send to a writing workshop I’m part of. Next week my fellow workshoppers will gleefully tear it apart give me some precious feedback, and then I can hopefully send it off to a journal.


I have something else to exult over, my fresh-off-the-dpns Spiral Scarf from Knitting Nature. A much prettier sight than my paper, something I didn’t have to agonize over at all, and which has way more instant gratification! Too bad I can’t include it in my tenure file.
The multicoloured yarn is Koigu, and the darker blue is Claudia Handpainted; I’m still amazed at how beautifully these two blended together in this pattern. I decided to pair them on a whim, and I’m glad I did. This pattern is great for handpainted and variegated yarns, which mimic it, spiralling towards the centre. I can’t stop looking at it!

Pattern Notes:

Yarn used: About 160-65 yards each of Koigu and Claudia, just under a skein.

Gauge: 7 spi over 1×1 ribbing for the Koigu, and 7.5 spi for the Claudia.

Needles: size 5 circulars and dpns. I deliberately chose larger needles for the fingering yarns to make a drapier scarf, because some samples I saw of the scarf in my LYS and the first hexagon I made with both yarns held together made the hexagon rather like a discus waiting to be flung, than a soft scarf.


Modifications: Obviously, the two alternating colours. I also made the third hexagon in the pattern my first. Then I made 5 smaller hexagons on each side of this central hexagon, rather than just in one direction. Tecnically, this goes against the spiral logic of the scarf, but I didn’t want too tiny hexagons, and this made for a much more wearable overall size.


Here it is, all stacked up, like blueberry pancackes, just in time for spring. It’s the perfect weight for this weather we’ve been having where it’s too warm for a real jacket, but still quite chilly in the shade and in the evenings. I tried taking a decent picture of me wearing it, but this is the best I could do. Sorry it’s so blurry, but it gives you a sense of how the scarf looks actually worn.

Btw, thanks to all of you who sympathized with my Jaywalker and Odessa misery! I’ll have you all know I didn’t twist a single one of these hexagon cast-ons!

This is going to be the first of a lot of projects from this book…


§ April 5th, 2007 § Filed under Lace work § 5 Comments

I have frogged so much in the last few days that I could croak. Seriously. I decided to take a chunky wool skein and make a quick version of the Odessa hat with fewer stitches because I wanted to send a friend a gift, and I had to frog the whole thing no less than thrice. Once because I cast on too few, once cause it got too big (yes, I did swatch) and once because I twisted the join. Who does that, ever? Like anybody ever reads the pattern instructions every time there’s a circular join: "join, taking care not to twist the stitches." Evidently, I needed to this time.

(Aside: But these instructions are like the ones for cables: "slip x stitches to cable needle, knit y stitches, knit x from cable needle." I have never used a cable needle ever, and am convinced that the idea of cable needles was invented to make writing instructions easier. Otherwise we’d be reading something like "Now slip the first two off the needle, suddenly pucker up your knitting so as to not cause them to run, hold them with the base of left thumb, try to shove the right needle into the third stitch at the same time, put them all back on to the needle…" you get the idea.) Northsea1_2

Anyhow, I used Elann Highland Chunky for this so-called quick project, and finally gave up. This yarn looks all soft and friendly but is really rough to work with! My hands really burnt after a few rounds; I’ve never had that happen with a yarn, not even Red Heart. Needless to say, no chunky Odessa. This thing will someday be felted. (like some life sentence!)

Also, I have frogged the Jaywalker sock several times too, and I’m barely past the heel. I don’t know what it is. I first made the foot too long. Then I tried to do one of those toe-up heel flap things and messed up a couple of times. Then I forgot to continue the pattern all around the cuff. Now I’ve realised that I forgot to increased stitches after the heel and I might have to frog yet again. It’s sitting in disgrace in my basket. It goes without being photographed.

But Malabrigo is much more well-behaved. Here’s the progress on my North Sea Shawl. I’ve done twelve repeats and will most likely do three more, before I start the center portion. Then it’s another 15 repeats done separately and the two pieces grafted together. I cannot *wait* to finish it.