Swatching – Bent’s Fort Cardigan

Catching up on my knitting magazines – I typically purchase “last year’s” set of magazines when they become available.  I was excited to see a whole issue dedicated to southwest patterns in the Summer 2018 issue of Interweave Knits.

Bent’s Fort Cardigan really caught my eye – another mosaic knit piece (it’s amazing how, once you become aware of a thing, you see it everywhere).

(image at left from Interweave Knits)

While the blue and yellow is interesting, and I liked the contrast, I really want to use up some of the specialty yarn I have in my stash.  I pulled out some likely options and started swatching – both to get used to the pattern, and to see how the colors would work together.

Black and multi-colored gold yarn (lower left)
Navy and multi-color blue yarn (too stripey) (upper right)
Navy and multi-color gold yarn (lower right)

I think I will go with the black and gold/multi option. While I like the navy, the multi-color blue yarn disrupts the pattern with a striped background, and I’m not crazy about the navy/gold combination. The pattern seems to be more distinct with the contrast of the black and the multi. Also, I wear black with everything, but rarely, navy.

Stay tuned!

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Casting On- New Techniques- Palatki Wrap

When I travel, I try to find and visit local yarn shops to see what is being manufactured (or dyed) locally.  On our December trip to Sedona, AZ (one of my favorite spots for hiking!) I visited Sedona Knit Wits and was not disappointed.

The store is typical of most LYS I visit when traveling – a small shop in a strip mall.  Like most, it had a “knitting table” where knitting groups or classes can congregate.  This table was right inside the front door and was full of ladies knitting and chatting.  The store is well stocked and very welcoming, with a knowledgable sales person ready to answer any questions.  If you are ever in Sedona – don’t miss this stop!

The yarn is Desert Bloom Yarn, an Arizona-dyed yarn that is named for the local flora and culture.  The colors are Indian Blanket (the brown with red tones) and Ironwood (the grey).  Unfortunately, the day the picture was taken was dark and cloudy, so the artificial light makes the brown look more orange, and the dark grey looks more brown.  The yarn is fingering and works up to a very soft and drapey fabric.  I look forward to the blocked finished project.

The pattern is Palatki Wrap, by Sandra Butler, available for purchase from Ravelry.  Not only was there a sample in the store which immediately caught my eye, but the designer herself was knitting with the group at the table!  Talk about your local culture!

This wrap is knit in mosaic style, with the pattern color changes made with slipped stitches.  It is a very easy, fast, and enjoyable technique, and this particular pattern is soothing and rhythmic to knit.  I’m enjoying this so much that I  regret not trying this technique earlier.

Palatki Wrap 2019-02-01.jpg

Come to Sedona for the view – stay for the knitting!  Sedona Trail Hiking.jpg

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.

Adventures in Double-Knitting – Vernetzt

Another Shawl-in-a-Ball project – this time, I’m moving away from the brioche style knitting and taking another run at double-knitting.  I’ve only knit a few double-knit projects, so am not very experienced (and that’s why it’s classified as “new techniques”).  This scarf looks like a fun way to use the Restful Rainbow color.  The long color repeats will set off the pattern nicely.

The project is Vernetzt, or “Networked,” available as a free download on Musterbunker (Pattern Bunker), a German knitting blog.  The author has several very nicely-rendered double-knitting projects.  Patterns in both German and English.

It took me a bit to refresh my memory on double-knitting.  If you have never tried this technique, I recommend you use simpler and more clearly-stated patterns to get started.  This pattern is not at all difficult, once you get the hang of it – just requires some experience with double-knitting, and the written directions assume a certain level of experience (casting on, knit-purl rhythm of double-knitting, etc.)

Modifications – rather than 4 repeats of the base pattern, I used 3 – the scarf as modeled is wider than I prefer.  I used my go-to black yarn Knit Picks Stroll Sock Yarn for the black contrast.

As usual for new styles of projects, I knit-and-ripped and knit-and-ripped until I was satisfied with the direction the project was going.  The machine-wound yarn ball and band did not survive that treatment, so I re-rolled the yarn into a ball.   You can’t see the colors except for the color you are knitting.  Fun for those who like surprises.

Diagonal Herringbone Scarf

I wanted an easy project, with an easy-to-memorize pattern, that I could pick up and set down without fear of losing my place, and which would be transportable.

While I didn’t find quite what I was looking for in my usual places (my digital library, Ravelry, Pinterest), I did find some things that seemed close.

Meanwhile, I had time for a visit to my favorite LYS, River Knits, where I enjoy spending time between meetings when I am in downtown Lafayette (Indiana).  I picked up two balls of Berroco Millefiori, in color 7891 “Terra.”  This is a nice variegated yarn in a bulky (#4) size.  The color patterns looked nice, but would not show up well in a fussy pattern (lacy or otherwise).  I found a herringbone stitch that I liked, but thought that it would look too plain for the nice yarn.  I decided to make it a diagonal herringbone, and it turned out just like I wanted.

Pattern is easy:  Cast on 35 stitches (or any odd number).

  • Row 1 – Knit through front and back of first two stitches (increase 2), *Slip 1, Knit 1, pass slipped stitch over knitted stitch and knit slipped stitch.  Repeat from * to last 4 stitches, knit 2 together, knit 2 together (decrease 2).
  • Row 2 – Purl 2, Knit 1, *Purl 2 together, then purl through 2nd stitch before dropping off needle.  Repeat from * to end.
  • Repeat Rows 1 & 2 until you have just enough yarn left to bind off.  I used two skeins of the Millefiori, which was perfect for this project.

I think the herringbone stitch and diagonal format worked well with this yarn, and I really enjoyed this project. The resulting fabric is soft but sturdy and will make a nice warm gift.

Latest Brioche Adventure: Champagne Bubbles Brioche Lace Scarf

Champagne Bubbles is another pattern from Nancy Marchant, this time published in Vogue Knitting, Holiday 2014 (available as a digital purchase).

I’ve looked at brioche patterns by other designers, but Nancy Marchant’s pattern format is the easiest to read.  I’ve noted in earlier posts that it seems to take me a while to get the hang of a particular brioche pattern – though it shouldn’t, since for every four knitted rows, there is only one “pattern” row – the rest all are knitted (or purled) in a standard manner.  Other patterns I’ve read have detailed every row as a “row,” rather than 2-sets-of-2 or a set of 4, which (IMHO) makes them far more difficult to read.

In the case of Nancy Marchant’s patterns (at least as far as I’ve knit them), once I get the hang of the major pattern, I can easily memorize the format and knit more quickly and confidently.

That is, “once I get the hang of it.”  As usual, it took me no fewer than 6 attempts to “get the hang” of this pattern.

This is my first attempt (and a rare version of Nancy’s patterns) to incorporate lace.  It took a while to be able to “read” the double-yarn-overs on the 2-of-4 row and knit (or purl, or slip) properly.

Even though Nancy Marchant’s brioche patterns take time to read, understand, and properly execute, they make beautiful projects, and the unique light and fluffy fabric is wonderfully inviting to the touch.

Yarn:  I’m still enjoying my “Shawl in a Ball” binge, this time with color Peaceful Earth.  I’m augmenting the pattern with a second color from Knit Picks Palette in color Camel Heather.

One twist:  I purchased the downloaded pattern via the Vogue Knitting App, and haven’t been inclined to try to figure out how to print out the pattern onto paper, so I’m only using a digital version.  Since the pattern (now that I’ve started over several times) is fairly easy, I’m OK with not having a paper pattern.

Now, if I could just find time to do more than one round of four at a time!

 

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