August 12, 2018

Enchanted Mesa

Enchanted Mesa
Enchanted Mesa

As I took stock of the knitting projects I've finished so far this year, I was a bit shocked that there are fewer than one per month on average. I'm still likely going to finish more projects this year than I did last year (my slowest knitting year in a long time), and most of the my projects this year have been on the large side. While it's important to me that the process of knitting is enjoyable and relaxing, I do love the feeling of completing something. Unfinished projects quietly nag at me, wanting to be completed.

I've wanted to knit Stephen West's Enchanted Mesa for a while now. One of my favorite things about the design is the fact that you get half a sleeve done before you even realize you're knitting a sleeve! I'm always looking for sweaters with an unusual construction that help me avoid knitting a traditional sleeve tube. The original pattern does come with full-length sleeves, but leaving them out was perfectly OK. The sleeves are usually the part of a sweater project were I loose my knitting mojo, and are at high risk of being forever left unfinished.

I loved knitting this sweater! I held together one strand of single-ply fingering and either lace or light-fingering weight plied yarn. I like the drape and airiness I got with 4.5 mm needles. I'm realizing the majority of my projects this year have been knitted with multiple strands of yarn and needles larger than I used to find comfortable. I'm now obsessed with combining different yarns for interesting effects! As most of my stash is fingering weight or lighter, I can easily get a DK or worsted gauge by combining a few strands. I can also use up yarns I would probably never end up using on their own.

August 7, 2018

Tucking Into My Tucked Cowl

Tucking Into My Tucked Cowl
Tucking Into My Tucked Cowl
Tucking Into My Tucked Cowl

Back in July at the Jyväskylä Knit Festival I took part in Nancy Marchant's workshop on tuck stitches, and a large part of the class was about casting on and starting to knit a cowl using one of the tuck stitches in the class handout. Nancy told us to start with around 96 stitches, or some more or fewer, depending on the circumference of the cowl we wanted to end up with. Because I knew I wanted a cowl long enough to wrap around my neck twice and not be too tight, I thought it would be a good idea to go with 300 stitches. It just sounded like a nice, round number.

As the class went on, I learned I had made more than one mistake early on that bothered me enough that after the class I frogged the original beginning of the cowl and started all over again, with the same number of stitches and design, just minus the mistakes. I had picked Brooklyn Tweed Arbor as my yarn, largely because we were supposed to bring DK weight yarn and, despite my ridiculous stash, I don't have a lot of. But it actually worked out fine, and I had enough of the white and grey colorways to end up with a decent sized cowl. I think for my next cowl I'm going to go with something a bit more drapy, but I'm still happy with this one. It's my first project made solely of Arbor.

The tuck stitch pattern is reversible, and I actually prefer the wrong side! It's the reversibility that now has me hooked on tuck stitches, and I plan to make more cowls with different stitch patterns, because I think cowls and tuck stitches are a good match. Not that I was the one to come up with that idea originally! I have Nancy's book on tuck stitches, which has a ton of different stitch patterns to choose from. Now I just need to make up my mind regarding the stitch and yarn!

July 29, 2018

Crochet Station

Granny Stripes
Granny Stripes

It appears I'm in the process of going through various non-knitting crafts this summer! For a while I've wanted to crochet a blanket. I think there is only one blanket I've crocheted to completion so far, and among my crafting related hobbies it's out there among the ones I only get into sporadically, in contrast to knitting. I always have at least a couple of knitting projects on the needles, and only feel the need to venture into other territories every once in a while. Blankets are the kind of project where crocheting makes sense to me, while I'm probably never going to crochet a garment. I may have crocheted a shawl in the pre-Ravelry times, but for them I also prefer knitting as the technique.

While I enjoy large projects like blankets, what helps keep them interesting is the changing of colors. It's unlikely I'd knit or crochet a blanket in a single color, but I also don't like there to be too much fiddling, which is why I'm a bit concerned about projects that require a lot of smaller pieces to be seamed together. That's why blankets made in one piece, requiring only simple stitches but allowing for multiple color changes are ideal. I also love using up scraps of yarn, so something like the Granny Stripe pattern by Attic24 is pretty much the perfect project for me. I'm using fingering weight yarn and hook size 3 mm. I estimated around 300 stitches should make for a decent sized blanket, so I started with 300+2. I'm doing only one row per color because I quite like the look. The rows don't look as much as solid rows as interlocking rows of small colored squares. I'm trying to pick colors my sister would like, since this is going to be a blanket for her new home! I also like seeing how speckled or other multicolors yarns turn up when crocheted.