Spiral Lace Lap Blanket

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From June to July, I knit another Radiating Star Blanket.  This one is a lap blanket version for my own use at home.  If you remember, the first one was a baby blanket that I knit for a cousin’s first child, and it can be seen by clicking HERE.

I knew I wanted to make another one of these blankets because I am in love with the pattern, and I enjoyed knitting it the first time.  I wanted my blanked in chunky weight, washable wool, but I was worried about cost, so I did some bargain hunting and came up with this:

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It is Ella rae classic superwash wool: a 100% washable wool.  I loved the color, and the price was right, so I thought I couldn’t go wrong. 

As it turns out, in wool, as in many other things, you do get what you pay for.  Once I got started on my blanket, I noted that my yarn was full of knots and strings – not just a few, but enough that it was beginning to make me worry that it would affect the quality of my work.  Once I became frustrated with the issue, I hopped on Ravelry to see if other knitters had anything to say about the yarn. 

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As it turns out, I should have checked ahead of time.  There were lists of complaints, most having to do with major color bleeding when items are soaked for blocking.  There were so many painful stories of entire sweaters being carefully knitted in combinations of strategically selected colors, only to have the colors disastrously bleed into one another when the items were soaked for blocking.  Just the thought of such a scenario terrifies me.

Apparently the yarn also grows significantly after soaking, rendering the final dimensions of many a knitter’s project not what was initially intended.  Given all of this information, I considered myself lucky to be knitting an afghan (rather than a garment) in only one colorway.  Knots started to seem like not such a bad problem to have.

Since I already purchased the yarn for the project, I went ahead and used it to knit the blanket.  While working, I stored the project in one of these nice, deep, plastic bins that I found at the ‘dollar store’.  That’s right:  only a dollar for some good, square baskets in which to keep my projects organized.  Joy!  I love these things.

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I decided to get this project done by July because I was planning this summer’s fair entries.  I thought the pattern was ‘fair-worthy’, as I like to say, and if my blanket turned out as planned, I felt I had a good shot at a ribbon. 

Here is the blanket early on.  It is knit on large, circular needles, and it goes through an awkward stage where it looks like an over-sized tam.

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Here is the finished blanket all pinned out on the rug after steam blocking before the fair.

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Even though it was knit from washable wool, the yarn still joined reasonably well via felted joins.  That discovery made dealing with all of those knots a bit easier.  I cut them all and was able to seamlessly join the yarn for a nice, smooth finish. 

The pattern designer has actually posted additional instructions for continuing the blanket to make it larger.  I wish I had noticed that before I bound off my blanket.  I ended up with two balls of yarn left over, and I had expected the finished blanket to be a bit bigger.  It would have been great to have extended it a touch more.

In any case, I did enter it in this year’s Lake County Fair (it didn’t ribbon…), and I know I will get lots of use out of it around the house this fall and winter.

In other news, I am hoping to make it out to Stitches Midwest in Schaumburg IL tomorrow.  I actually missed Stitches last year, and I was really disappointed when I did.  It will be nice to see all of the new products available, and I am always happy to be around yarn!

~Happy knitting!

FO: On The Road Shawl

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This is my completed On The Road shawl.  The pattern is somewhat new, designed by Janina Kallio.  I really love two-color shawls, and this is the second on that I have knit.  The first one was the Cladonia shawl knit in Madelintosh Tosh Sport.  Since the Madelintosh worked so well on Cladonia, I decided to use it on this shawl as well.  I am happy with the results, and the yarn is so soft!

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For this shawl, I used Madelintosh Light in the colorways Norway Spruce and Composition Book Gray.  I was lucky enough to have both in my stash, purchased years ago for the purpose of another two-color shawl.  I knit the pattern with size 4 needles, and I kept my knitting loose.

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I mentioned in the last post that this shawl knit up really small and kind of narrow, like a scarf or shawlette.  Once blocked, though, it opened up into a really light, lacy, breezy (and large) shawl.

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~Happy knitting!

Finishing Line

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In the past 2 weeks, I finished a shawl, a pair of socks and a winter scarf.  I mentioned in my last post that I completed the On The Road shawl and it has been blocking all week:

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I was worried/disappointed with how small and scarf-like it had knit up, and I was already considering it somewhat of a failure until I blocked it.  I was so hoping this would happen!  As you can see, once soaked and pinned out, the lace opened up and the shawl is HUGE.  It’s over 5 feet long, and it looks really great.  The finished shawl will be the subject of my next post.

I have been in a mood lately to finish projects that have been left incomplete.  Generally I have lots of knitting projects in hibernation, but I nearly always pick them back up, sometimes years later, and finish them. 

I was working on this the week before last:

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I started this Leaf Scarf in Cascade 220 back in 2012.  The pattern is from the book 60 Quick Knits, which is full of great projects. 

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After knitting about 50% of it, this scarf sat for a few years.   I recently needed a mindless, nighttime knitting project, so I pulled it back out and completed it last weekend. 

 

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The scarf is unblocked in these photos.  I just unpinned the On The Road shawl this morning, so I can block this scarf today.  I am happy with how it turned out.  I love the yarn, and I plan to keep this scarf for myself.

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Up next in my ‘finishing line’ was pair of socks (I forgot to take photos of them this morning) that I started several months ago (I think last winter, but who really knows) and then picked back up and finished last weekend. 

It’s a pair that I made from some commercial sock yarn I bought at Hobby Lobby.  I ended up making two pairs of socks from that yarn.  I never posted about the first pair, although I did wear them this past winter (the socks are washable wool, and the winter was outrageously cold).  I will include photos of both pairs (and tell you why there are two) in an upcoming post.

I need to start thinking about knitting a pair of socks for the fairs this year, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to start anything ‘fairworthy’.  I do have a few ideas though.  I may start some mittens today, too.

~Happy knitting!

FO: Handspun Beaded Bella Cowl

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I finished knitting my On the Road shawl last night.  I have been on the last lace section for over a week.  Toward the end, each row was approaching 400 stitches, so each row took me around a half hour to knit.  I think it took me longer to finish that last little section than it did to knit the rest of the entire shawl.  It didn’t help that I was often fatigued in the evenings by the time I got to work on it.  Being aware of that problem, I made it a point to pick it up in the daytime this past weekend, and I must say that I made much more headway.

Depending on how the beginning of my day goes today, I may be weaving in ends and blocking the cowl tonight.  Wool has been taking several days to dry (after blocking) with this weather here lately, so it will be a few days before I can get some fully finished, blocked pictures of it.

In May, I knit a cowl with my MoonBound fibers handspun wool.  I had 180 yards of the yarn, so a cowl seemed like a good option.  I also considered mittens, but I think that a cowl was the right choice.

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I was a little stressed about choosing the right pattern to show off the thick and thin qualities of the yarn.  I didn’t want to hide it with a fancy pattern.  On the flip-side, the yarn was undyed, natural wool, and a plain pattern with such wool could result in a really unimpressive (boring!) finished object.

Hmmm.  What’s a girl to do with her handspun?

I considered trying my hand at dying.  I was going to use coffee, which I think may have had a pretty result.  I decided against it, though, because I was kind of in love with the fleece colored yarn.

I considered choosing a complimentary yarn to accent it in a pattern.  This might have worked too, but since this was my first hank of handspun, it was a big deal in my head, and I wanted the yarn to be the star of the finished object.  I also wanted to use every last bit of the yarn.

After much consideration (about two days’ worth), I decided that the Bella Cowl was just the right combination of simple and some lace, and would be a pattern versatile enough that I could adjust it for my special circumstance.

While deciding all of this, I kept eying some tubes of beads that I had purchased years ago, on clearance at a craft store.  One of the tubes contained small, iridescent beads in natural colors that complemented the natural merino of my handspun so nicely.  Beading the cowl could be a great way to add color and interest without taking focus away from the yarn.  It was decided!

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Now the problem was that these beads were small for such a mostly DKish weight, thick and thin yarn.  I would have to pre-string the beads on the yarn in order to use them in the pattern.  My goal was to add them to the lace rows.  This was going to difficult, and I considered many other ways of applying the beads to the lace rows before finally deciding to break the yarn (I know, gasp!) at the beginning of each lace row, apply all of the beads needed for that row (this was not easily done, and required a size 12 —  that’s 1 mm folks — crochet hook to force the beads onto short lengths of the yarn) and then graft the yarn back together using a felted join in order to continue the pattern. 

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Yes, this was a lot of work, but it was satisfying work since I knew exactly what I wanted, and I was determined to make it happen.

Unfortunately, my 1 mm crochet hook was a casualty by the end of this project.

Unfortunately, my 1 mm crochet hook was a casualty by the end of this project.  (Note the bend.)

Luckily, the wool grafted really, really well, so I was able to join the ends of the yarn back together fairly easily after my struggle to get the beads strung. 

I knitted an adjusted version of the pattern, and I had to rip out and reknit the last two sections more than once to make sure that I could finish the pattern repeat I was on without running out of yarn.  Here is the amount of yarn I had left once I finished binding off:

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I am super pleased with the size of the cowl.  It can be doubled around the neck, or worn long like a scarf.  I think the beads are just enough without taking over the design. 

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I was really surprised by the affect of the twist in the yarn on the resulting knitted fabric.  It tended to make the fabric sort of seize up, making it a little stiff, with the texture of a scrubby sponge.  I kept moving up and up and up in needle size until I found a gauge that allowed this gorgeous stuff to drape.  I started with something like a size 7, and ended up using a size 9 and knitting as loosely as I possibly could.  I really wanted a 10, but I didn’t have a circular in the length I needed on hand.  

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I’m glad I spent the time experimenting with this yarn for this cowl.  I think it will be a well-used accessory this fall/winter, and that’s what I was going for.  I wanted it to be something that I would have many occasions to wear and enjoy.

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Now off to block a shawl…

~Happy knitting!

FO: Summer Slouch Hat

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This past week, I began to think about knitting summer hats.  I like wearing hats, and I thought it would be cute to knit a hat from some light fiber that I could wear with my jeans.  I began looking through my stash to see if I had anything that fit the bill, and I found some Lion Brand Organic Cotton in the colorway Pistachio.  This yarn is so soft and smooth. 

I was envisioning a cute cap with maybe some earthy looking beads along the ribbed band, but I kept looking at the yarn and thinking that it would be perfect for a slouch hat.  It’s smooth and drapey, but still not too thin, and even more, it has a bit of a nubby, thick and thin texture.  A slouch hat would be so cute knit from yarn like that! 

I actually don’t personally wear slouch hats because they are not quite me, and they don’t really look good on me, so I knew that this hat would go up in the Etsy shop.  I began looking for a pattern, and I found this one  on Ravelry that I thought would work.  I adjusted the pattern for the weight of my yarn (a heavy sport weight) and got to it.

As I knit along, I began to feel like the yarn itself had enough character that I might be best off avoiding the actual lace stitch described in the pattern, and instead just use stockinette to show off the yarn. 

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As you can see, that’s what I did.  I improvised the hat, essentially, and I’m so happy with how it turned out.  I like the broad band of ribbing, and the fact that the hat is only a little slouchy.  And I know I already mentioned it, but this yarn is so soft!  If you could feel this hat, you would love it even more!

I used the dinner plate trick to block the hat.  I gave it a good soak , rolled it in a towel, and then stretched it over an 11 inch dinner plate to dry.  This method encourages the slouchy shape. 

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I balanced the plate on a Ball jar to facilitate drying (it took about two days).  It reminded me of a space ship!

I wanted to add some vintage, red buttons to one side of the ribbed band, but I was worried that it would take away from the potential versatility of the hat, which matters since I planned to sell it.  If I were making it for myself, I would have totally added those buttons.

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I’ll have my chance to do some embellishing since I just bought some yarn I found on super-clearance at Web’s online that will work great for a hat for me.  It is actually cotton with a teenie bit of llama, of all things!  It’s called Queensland Collection Llama Soft Cotton —  80% cotton, 20% llama.  I had to have it! 

I bought a hank in an unnamed reddish, brownish, marroonish color that I will use to knit MY cute, summer hat sometime soon.  If I can figure out how to bead the brim, I think I want to do that too.

~Happy knitting!

FO: Chicanery Mitts — Take 2

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I knit another pair of Chicanery Mitts last weekend.  These were knit in a really soft, acrylic yarn.

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The soft, worsted weight yarn makes this pair extra thick and cozy.

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These mitts are also now for sale in my Etsy shop, Online.  A third pair (different pattern) are already ‘in the make’.  Post to follow soon.

Also up and coming (FINALLY) —  some posts highlighting last year’s county fair season.  I have lots of photos and stories to share, I just haven’t had the time to do it!

~Happy knitting! 

FO: Chicanery Mitts

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This week, I finished a pair of Chicanery Mitts, a pattern written by Angela Myers for Three Irish Girls yarn.  I LOVE this pattern, and I actually just finished a second pair in worsted weight that is still blocking, but will be posted about soon.

 

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I completed these last weekend, but they waited all week to be ‘finished’ (knitter’s F-word) in that they still needed loose ends woven in, and a good blocking.  I used one of my favorite sets of antique sock blockers to block these mitts.  Pardon the mess!  I block most of my work in my office which has now become somewhat of a workshop, and it is cluttered. 

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The stitch pattern is meant to break up colors in variegated and hand dyed yarns, similar to the way linen stitch does, but it also gives this great cobble-stone appearance to the fabric that I think is so great.  It also makes these mitts extra thick (due to slipped stitches within the pattern), so this pattern can be done well with fingering weight yarn, which will still make thick, warm mitts.

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I actually did a little stash busting with this pair, and used some left-overs of some of my nicest yarn.  If you remember my Cladonia Shawl, you will recognize the yarn (which was just as wonderful to work with the second time around!  Why haven’t I got more of this stuff!?).   The yarn is Madelintosh Tosh Sport in the colors Sequoia B and Twig. 

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This yarn is hand dyed, which gives it that gorgeous appearance.  I so wish I had enough yarn to do a second pair for myself, but I’m nearly certain what I have left won’t make it.  I had to weigh the left-overs out on a gram scale just to be sure I had enough for this pair.  This pair was made for sale in my Etsy shop, which I will blog about soon.

Happy knitting!

~Kristen

FO: Organic Cotton Market Bag

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This week I crocheted a market/tote bag.  You may remember that I made one of these a few years ago (see post by clicking HERE) for my sister’s birthday.  I crocheted this one from the same Patons Pure 100% organic, cotton yarn, but this time I used a coordinating variegated color blend for the top band and handles.

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Even though I used the same pattern (The Green Grocer Bag by  Vicki Mikulik ), this bag came out significantly smaller than the one I made for my sister.  This is odd because I actually used a smaller hook for my sister’s bag. 

The bag shown here was crocheted using a size I hook.  The pattern calls for an H, but I currently have no idea where my H hooks are.  I used roughly three and a half balls of yarn (at 117 yards each) for this bag.

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Details about my reasons for knitting this, and the last several hats I have posted about are coming soon!

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~Happy knitting!

 

FO: Linen Stitch Dish Cloths

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More kitchen cotton!  No, this has still not gotten old for me.  I love useful, hand-made kitchen stuff…

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Since I have a lot of variegated, cotton yarn laying around, I decided to make kitchen towels and cloths utilizing linen stitch.  I LOVE linen stitch.  Recall that I knit a linen stitch scarf last year (see post by clicking HERE). 

Linen stitch looks neat and flat, and appears more woven than knit.  It has a nice drape and lack of bulk.  What is also does, though, is distribute colors within hand-painted and variegated yarns in the nicest, loveliest way. 

 

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Most of us dislike the ‘pooling’ of color that can occur with these types of yarns.  For an example of some serious pooling of colors from a hand-painted yarn, see my link HERE for my Breath of Fresh Air Scarf knit from a hand-painted yarn from Three Irish Girls

I have mentioned before that I don’t like my fiberwork to look ‘crafty’, and my goal is usually to make something that people are often not entirely sure is hand-made or machine made.  Color pooling, in my opinion, often makes projects look crafty and home-made, and I generally don’t like it.

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Since linen stitch contains lots of slipped stitches, it carries colors from one row below up to your current row every other stitch, and in this way, distributes the colors within unevenly or irregularly dyed yarns throughout your work. 

In the case of these dish cloths, it gives them a fun, multicolored look that reminds me of confetti.  Linen stitch also gives the illusion that the piece is more complex than it actually is.

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People who knit linen stitch know it has one major down-side:  since stitches are being slipped as part of the pattern, your fabric grows fairly slowly compared to many other stitch patterns.  In my opinion, it is totally worth the work! 

In the case of these dish cloths, I love the way they look and feel, and they make great, relaxing, stress-knitting at the end of a day when my mind is too tired to think about a detailed pattern.

~Happy knitting!

FO: Warm, Winter Hat

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A few weeks ago, I knit this ribbed, wool-blend, winter hat.

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I love this yarn.  It is a really great shade of pink with subtle orange and purple striping. 

 

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I improvised the pattern, in hopes of making a cute, functional hat.  The main part of the hat is 4 x 4 ribbing, with a folded brim to keep it snug.  I added a home-made pom-pom to finish it off.  I think it worked out well. 

 

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In spite of the fact that it’s almost April, it’s still hat weather here in the Midwest.  Believe it or not, we are still getting snow!

~Happy knitting!

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