Finally Done – Great American Afghan

This took nearly three years to complete – started in early 2015, and with the blocks finished and assembled in August of 2015.  However, it took two winters and into November of this year to finish the knitted band around the edge.  To be fair, I only worked on the band intermittently and only in the winter – when the rest of the afghan could be warming my lap in the process.  The unending nature of the band around an afghan this size (that’s a queen sized bed it covers) meant that I had to take frequent breaks to avoid going out of my mind with boredom.

It is a generously-sized and very warm afghan.  After two years of quasi-use, I’m a little disappointed that it is showing wear in the form of fluffing and mild pilling, which suggests that it might not take to many washings (and afghans should be washable).

This was going to be a gift (but for whom, I never determined), but after using it for a few years – and having it show signs of use – I will likely keep it.  Unfortunately, the colors are not appealing to me.  Mind you, they are terrific colors, and I’m pleased at the way the afghan turned out but (as you can see by the bedspread), I prefer a different color palette.

New techniques (Finished Projects Installment) – Mitered corners!  I chose a band from one of the squares of the Great American Afghan book (one of the squares that I did not use for the precise reason of the band that I – at the time – did not want to tackle).  The straight sections of the band were attractive and easy, and the instructions for the mitered corners were OK – they only gave directions on knitting the corner, without direction on where to start the mitered corner.  I’m still not sure about that one.

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Green the Whole Year ‘Round

This yarn was pulled from my stash – one of the “on vacation” purchases.   I think I purchased it when in Palm Springs several years ago – we took an outing to a nearby historic (and touristy) district and found “The Wool Lady” store tucked in a corner.  I picked up a few hand-spun and hand-dyed hanks and never found the right project – until now.

The yarn is Teeswater/Wensleydale by Feathergrass Fiber.  Unfortunately, I could not find information about either the store or the fiber producer, so either may or may not still be in business.

The pattern is Green the Whole Year ‘Round by Anna Yamamoto, available as a free Ravelry download.  The yarn I used was a bit fuzzy, so tthe pattern in my finished project is not as distinct as the author’s pattern suggests, but I think it turned out nicely.

The pattern was fun but challenging – the author rates it as “advanced”  The pattern is both charted and written out, and the author provides clear directions, but one needs to be very comfortable with some of the more advanced stitches and the pattern requires attention.

Changes:  I did not include the “nubs” – I don’t particularly like that feature in most patterns, and I don’t miss it in the finished product.  The pattern also calls for short rows for shaping – I used my favorite German Short Row technique, instead.

Also note:  I think the term is “severe blocking” and is required to make sure that the shawl is shaped properly.

 

I was concerned about the yardage, but I had plenty, and wish I would have carried the pattern on for a bit more length.  But, that sometimes happens with hand-made and dyed yarn, and having yarn leftover is better than not having enough.

Note in the pictures that the yarn has more pink tones at the bottom (right side in the picture) of the shawl, and more evenly purple at the top – that is the difference in the two skeins used to make the shawl, and a cautionary tale in purchasing yarn by unknown fiber artists – even though clearly the same dye lot, purchase at the same time, and looked the same on the hanks, the dye process on the two hanks resulted in a clearly different product for each hank.  Fortunately, the shawl pattern lent itself to this and the color change looks like it an intended feature.  Had this been a sweater or some other more fitted project, it would have been a noticeable flaw in the construction.

 

Completed Project – Champagne Bubbles

I wasn’t sure about the lace version of a Nancy Marchant pattern, but I decided that I was ready to try.

Champagne Bubbles is published in Vogue Knitting, Holiday, 2014 (available as a digital magazine).  Again, using Lion Brand Shawl in a Ball, in color Peaceful Earth, with the contrast color of Knit Picks Palette in color Camel Heather.

I intended this to be a light and casual wrap, and I believe that is how it turned out.  Very enjoyable project, and now that I’ve knit several of these, I can follow the pattern and fix stitches that are missed.

Note on the picture with two side-by-side projects.  The one on the right is not blocked – same yardage as the one on the left.  What a difference a little warm water and stretching can make!

Completed Project: Hidden Hearts Socks

This project dates back to August (see post), and was a “learning” project as much as a sock project.

Things learned:

Turkish Cast-on with one Circular Needle – my new favorite toe-up sock cast-on method.

Knitting on Circular Needles (instead of DPNs) – Also my new favorite technique.  While the cable for the circular needle sometimes gets in the way, this technique is much safer and more stable for me than trying to manage DPNs.

Project Progress by the Gram – as a toe-up sock, with a yarn that was enough for two socks in one skein (Berroco Comfort Sock Yarn), it was an interesting experiment to knit “half the yarn” and then start the next sock.

That mostly worked – I ran out of yarn right at the ribbing of the second sock and had to find something that would coordinate and complete the project.  I considered unraveling half of the ribbing for the first sock, but discarded that idea as being unnecessarily complicated.  As it happens, I kind of like the result – the scrap yarn I used coordinated perfectly, and almost seems intentional.

There was a lot of yarn.  This is a knee sock!

Something else that worked out unexpectedly – the yarn pattern matched up perfectly in the sock.  That made my day.

All in all – a thoroughly enjoyable (if slow to completion) project, and I learned several new techniques that will have a permanent place in my knitting repertoire.

Detail of sock pattern
Sock with “alternate” band. Second sock is laid out, below

 

Weekend knitting – gift stashing

My very first knitting project was a knitted scarf made from Lion Homespun and two cheap plastic stick needles.  I don’t know what happened to that scarf.  I think I have the needles, somewhere.

The pattern is very easy and yields terrific results.  The yarn is very nice and lofty, and this becomes my go-to gift scarf (particularly to men) because it is so well-received.  Don’t tell them that it is also the easiest and quickest pattern to knit!

Supplies:

  • One skein Lion Homespun yarn
  • One set of #17 straight needles

Instructions:  This project is worked with two strands held together and knit at the same time – pull from the center and the outside of the skein at the same time.  Cast on 12 stitches using the long-tail cast on.  Knit until you are nearly out of yarn.  Cast off using stretchy cast off method (I use the knit 1, YO backwards, k1, pull YO over last stitch, pull first stitch over last stitch).

I was out of my usual stash of ready-to-give scarves, so picked up three skeins at Michael’s on a recent trip to the city.  This project only takes a few hours – I knit up the three you see here over the weekend.

One year, I gave this scarf to everyone in my family.  One thing I noticed was that every scarf was a different length.  This is true for this set, also.

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Brioche Cable Cowl Completed

Finally completed!  It took no fewer than four complete “do-overs” to get onto this pattern, but once it clicked, I completed it without too much difficulty.

Things to learn –

  1.  Needle size matters – use a larger needle size than recommended – you really want a loose knit on this project, both because of the type of project (a cowl needs a lot of give) and because of the double-knitting-like feel of the project.  While you are only ever knitting with one color per row,  the style is double-sided.
  2. Pay attention to stich count and transition between rows.  Because you ar changing colors at each round, the transition needs to be smooth so it doesn’t look messy.
  3. This pattern could have been written more clearly.  Instead of referring to the sample colors, the author would have made it easier to read by referring to MC (main color) and CC (contrast color).  I never did get that straight, and – until I finally caught onto the pattern – it was confusing.
  4. Start with something simple.  While I did swatches in the brioche knitting to figure out the technique, a two-color, in the round project was maybe not the best project to start with.

I am pleased with the result, however.  The Caron Simply Soft yarn is very soft, and the project is lofty and generous.

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WIP – Oops, Completed Project – Lucienne Scarf

One thing I like about Lion Brand’s Shawl in a Ball is that it is so quick to knit!

Partly because of last-minute Christmas craziness and partly because it knit up so quickly, I only have finished-project (blocked) pictures.  Because I immediately wrapped and gave away the finished project, I don’t have a modeled photo, either.

And… because I lost track of the yarn band, I’m not sure of the color.  It might be Calming Desert or Graceful Green.

Oddity – If you take a look at the color layout, you can see why I wonder whether there might be a flaw in this one.  The pale neutral color (see close up photo for both a look at the pattern and the color) suggests that that might be the color-start point that got off track in the processing.

Pattern:  Road Not Taken Scarf, published in The Art of Knitted Lace, available from Amazon, and your LYS.  The book link above shows a collection of the patterns available in the book.  I picked this book up at the one and only yarn show I’ve attended, in Southern Indiana in fall, 2015.  The patterns offered are varied in both style and skill level, and the book includes both written and charted patterns for many projects.

I modified the two-stitch border to a three-stitch border and added a YO/K2tg on the knit side to create the lace edge effect.  Not coincidentally, that feature made it easier to insert the wires for blocking.

I’m enjoying the Shawl in a Ball series.  The colors are nice, the yarn is soft, and it’s easy to work.