Starry Night at the Ritz

20180429_162156

I am more of a process knitter than a product knitter. I want to try every technique all the time, but I don’t necessarily want to keep everything that I make. I just want my hands to stay busy. That’s why it’s a blessing in disguise that I have somehow become surrounded by a whole bunch of pregnant ladies at all times.

20180429_162025

HOWEVER. If anyone tries to ask me for this shawl, they are going to have to pry it out of my cold, dead hands. I am in love with this scrap of fiddly lace-and-beads nonsense, hence all of the goofy faces in these pictures.

20180214_191040

I bought this skein of Dream in Color Starry Silver in Starless Sky (tragically discontinued!) a very long time ago, not having any idea what on earth I would do with it. Sparkly socks are quite tempting, but I figured that this gorgeous stuff should be out on display, not hidden under shoes and pants. Sparkles need to be in the sunlight to achieve their true potential, yes? Yes.

But what shawl pattern could possibly be worth it? Well, when you’re zooming along on Ravelry, looking at shawl patterns, and one pops up that states that it contains 650 individually-placed beads, you get stoked. Glitz at the Ritz is a thing of such complicated, fiddly beauty that I couldn’t resist.

20180219_124905

As soon as I started the first lace pattern, I just knew that this pattern and this yarn was simply a match made in heaven. As for the beads? Toho Japanese glass beads, the clear glass with the silver foil inner lining, size 6/0 E.

I am particularly enamored of the way the large sparkly beads are picked out against the more subtle shimmer of the background yarn. It’s reminiscent of a fiber-optic star curtain, a reference that no one else will probably understand, but that made the lighting designers in the audience get real excited.

20180221_204132

In this particular pattern, the beads are individually placed with a tiny crochet hook onto each stitch right before knitting it, rather than having them strung onto the working yarn. This is really the best way to do it, in my opinion, for many reasons. Not only do you not have to be dealing with stringing a bajillion beads onto your fancy yarn and constantly moving them around and scraping up your delicate mylar threads, but you also get to feel like a mad scientist with your knitting needles in both hands and somehow also a crochet hook the size of a sewing needle balanced precariously within, attempting to not drop the bead or let your stitches drop off the needle (both of which might have happened to me several times).

20180426_154555

I mean, look at that bead action. It’s all worth it, even though when I try to vacuum between the cushions on my couch later, I’m sure I’ll find an awful lot of tiny glass beads that slipped from my grasp. Hopefully the cats didn’t eat any.

The best part of the knitting (although all of it was great, and I sincerely didn’t want it to end) was the bind-off row, hands-down.

20180426_155002

When you’re reading the pattern for that part, it seems insane. As you move along and knit it, you feel like you’re knitting each stitch 5 times over, but you’re really making the most adorable alternating picot bundles with beads placed in the ditches between. It’s utterly unnecessary and ridiculous and yet just a lovely and perfect finish to the whole thing.

As much as knitting it was a joy, pinning it out was even better. My blocking wires took care of the curved top, and as I stretched out each tiny picot edge bundle and pinned it, I just fell in love all over again.

20180419_120315

Dan said, when he saw it all pinned out, that it looked like falcon wings. He’s not wrong.

20180419_120407

20180419_120435

Taking pictures of it was a bit of a challenge, due to the fact that the dark blues and purples shift color wildly in different light.

20180426_154904

Sometimes it’s purple.

20180426_154914

Sometimes it’s blue.

20180426_154736

Sometimes it’s lurking in the window, looking all shadowy and fancy.

20180429_161208

No matter what, it’ll make you feel like a goddamn knitting master.

20180429_162954

And a pretty, pretty princess.

20180429_162445

20180429_162625

So get out there and get yourself some sparkly sock yarn, some beads, the tiniest crochet hook you’ve ever seen, and some never-ending patience so you can make your own. When you’re spinning around in the park feeling awesome with your new shawl, you’ll be glad you did.

Advertisements

Summer of Socks, vol. 2 – Denim Ribs & Embossed Leaves

Yes, ladies and gents, it’s time for another installment of…bum bum buuuuuummmm…

20171218_135045

The Summer of Socks! While we’re in winter! Hooray!

20171218_140824

Just as a recap, as I explained in the last post, I spent the summer knitting socks for my family, and I packaged them up with hot cocoa mix and personalized marshmallows into super cute mugs for them to enjoy on Christmas Eve.

And speaking of super cute mugs, just look at those little kitties. Those things are just so freaking adorable. I couldn’t resist getting them for my brother and sister-in-law, as they are also cat people.

Here we have the next two pairs of socks in the line-up. Denim Ribs

20170709_110443

…and Embossed Leaves.

20170725_102447

Oooooh. Aaaaah.

20170709_110500

My brother Jarrod tends to spend his life in jeans and t-shirts, and when I saw the colorway called the Pearl in Knit Picks Hawthorne, I knew it was something that he would like. I’m not sure where the name “the Pearl” comes from, since all I can think of when I hear that is the incredibly depressing novella by John Steinbeck. Looking at this colorway, with its varying shades of denim-y navy blues and pops of cream and gray, I get the impression of a well-loved, well-worn pair of jeans. Not to mention the synchronicity in the fact that it looks like the denim cousin to the Mt. Tabor colorway, previously featured on my dad’s socks.

20170709_110430

I didn’t want to do anything too fiddly here, due to the fact that the high contrast between the colors would probably obscure any stitchwork. Instead, I wanted something where those long stretches of cream and gray would pop out and spiral around and look awesome, just like they looked in the skein.

20170709_110626

I went with an old stand-by, dependable pattern, the Good, Plain Sock recipe featured in Knitting Rules! by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee, the Yarn Harlot. She is knitting royalty, and if you don’t have a copy of this book, you are seriously missing out. In it, she gives “recipes,” not complete patterns, of socks, hats, scarves, and shawls, and gives you all the tricks and tips you need to write your own patterns for yourself. Plus, she’s funny and snarky in all the right ways. I adore her.

20170709_110519

I have made so many socks with this pattern, and it always comes out great. This one in particular has a 3×3 ribbing throughout the cuff, sort of similar to my Plain Vanilla Taiyo socks. They also have simple slipped-stitch heels and capped toes, just the basic background structure to make the yarn really stand out.

I played a serious game of yarn chicken with these, due to the fact that my brother wears between a size 10-10.5 men’s shoe, and I had only about a foot left of yarn when I was done. Good thing to know that Hawthorne, with its 357 yds., had plenty enough for some giant socks.

20170725_102752

Here we have some of the prettiest yarn I have ever seen. Seriously, look at all of these colors! It’s Knit Picks Hawthorne (again!) in the colorway Alameda, and man, it was so much fun to knit up. I lived for hitting all of the little bright blue spots. (Do other knitters do that? Pick a favorite part of the colorway and get really excited to knit those particular stitches when you see them coming up? Just me? Okay.)

20170725_102502

These beauties were made for my sister-in-law, Kim, who enjoys feminine details, especially if they’re purple, so I figured something lacy and flowery and leafy would be perfect. The pattern here is Embossed Leaves by Mona Schmidt, again from the book Favorite Socks: 25 Timeless Designs from Interweave.

20170725_102515

I’m been wanting to knit this pattern up for a good, long time, mostly because of the ingenious little details that take into account how the leaf pattern interacts with the structure of the sock. There is a stockinette stitch smooth heel with purled “gutters” on the sides that extend from the purled areas between the motifs on the cuff. That sentence seems like nonsense, but trust me, it’s something to be excited about.

20170725_102812

20170725_102544

The star toes incorporate purls into the decrease, making it look like the leaves all swirl together at the bottom. And those perfect little spirals at the end of the toes! Mona, you’re a genius.

That’s it for this installment. Stay tuned for the next…and final episode of….the Summer of Sooooooooooooocks (oooooocks oooooocks oooocks ooocks).

Summer of Socks, vol. 1 – Retro Rib & Osean

The wait is over!

20171218_135139

I know that you were all on pins and needles, just frantically wondering what all of my super-secret sock hinting was about. You barely got any sleep, with all of that uncertainty. Your work suffered. Your personal life suffered. It really took a toll that neither of us anticipated. And for that, I am truly sorry.

Oh wait, I forgot! There’s like, maybe 2 people who read this. What a relief. I’m glad to know that thousands of lives have not been ruined over some Christmas socks.

20170812_102642

20170808_121230

That’s right! Christmas socks! I spent my summer, in-between working night shift and studying during the day, knitting socks for each member of my family, each one personalized to their likes and dislikes and relative foot sizes, as one would hope. They were then packaged up with hot cocoa and monogram marshmallows into a new mug, all perfect for enjoying on chilly winter nights.

20171218_135928

And dang if they didn’t come out cute.

First up, the socks that I made for my parents, Retro Rib and Osean.  (Those are the sock pattern names, not my parents’ names, just for clarity.)

20170812_095856

My dad is a hard person to knit for. He often loudly declares not having a need for any things at all, at any time at all. He pretends that he thinks that people waste time on hobbies, but secretly loves receiving anything handmade. He’ll insult your present by saying he has no need for it, but then tell you exactly how he’ll use it in the same sentence.

20170812_095750

It’s a bit of a complicated relationship.

20170812_095741

He’s a fan of green things, especially when they’re vaguely camo- or military-esque, so I figured that the Mt. Tabor colorway of Knit Picks Hawthorne would be perfect.

20170812_095718

It’s a lovely tonal mix of greens and grays that has a sort of nice silvery-sheen to it. It’s rustic and homey without being drab.

I chose the pattern Retro Rib by Evelyn A. Clark out of the book Favorite Socks: 25 Timeless Designs from Interweave, which is a wonderful book for anyone who’s an avid sock knitter. It’s got all kinds of gorgeous patterns with a range of complexity levels, plus lots of size options for most of the socks, which is great when your brother and father have really big feet.

20170812_102602

I did make one important pattern modification here, which I think really ties the sock together. The original pattern calls for a regular slip-stitch heel, where every other stitch is slipped on the RS rows, to make a visually-interesting and sturdy fabric on that part of the sock. It’s fairly standard and makes sense usually, but it made absolutely no sense to me here, considering that the sock has a mistake rib pattern that prominently features long columns of twisted stitches.

Instead, I only slipped the stitches that lined up with these columns, continuing that pattern (except for the purling) all the way down to the bottom. I feel like it makes for a much more elegant solution than just slapping any old heel on there. I also remember (keep in mind I made these months ago) that the directions for starting the heel flap didn’t really make the flap centered in a way that made sense to me, so just make sure that you’re keeping a eye out for that, if you’d like to knit a pair yourself. There are errata listed on Interweave’s website, so there might be a fix there already. Do yourself a favor and check, instead of just flying off half-cocked, like I always seem to do.

Anywho, my dad did just as expected when he received these. He said, “What made you think to make these? For me? What am I going to do with these?” and “Oh, these are just too big!” and “Okay, well they fit but they’re not going to fit under my shoes,” and “I guess I can wear these when it’s cold,” and “Oh look, they fit with my slippers! These will be great when it’s chilly outside.” And in a matter of hours, they were suddenly an acceptable gift.

Mission accomplished.

20170808_121209

Making things for my mother is not nearly so much of a challenge. She loves receiving gifts, especially handmade ones, and she’s a very good gift-giver herself. I have knit more things for her than anyone else in my family, except for Dan. She knows how to receive a gift with grace and delight and takes pleasure in taking care of and displaying these objects as they are intended. She also knows that knitted items are meant to be worn, not just looked at, and she uses them faithfully. It’s real cute.

20170709_110413

When I visited my best friend and his wife in San Rafael, CA, this summer, we stopped by a small yarn store/custom fabric dying shop called Dharma Trading Company that appears to have a lively and thriving online business of which I was unaware. I asked the person working there if they had anything local, because I enjoy buying hand-dyed local yarns when I’m travelling, and she showed me Invictus Yarns, an Etsy seller from Sacramento who does absolutely beautiful work. This particular skein is Beyond, which is a really soft and wonderful merino, nylon, and cashmere blend, in the colorway Tranquility. What better way to pamper the feet of someone who really deserves it than with cashmere?

20170808_121455

My mother and I share a love of the color blue and a preference for anklets, so when I saw Osean by Trudy Hertaas while searching on Ravelry, I knew it would be perfect.

20170808_121254

It has a wide lace panel in the center that mimics ocean waves, flanked by rope cables on either side. It was just enough fanciness to show off the blues and greens of the yarn without getting too crazy.

20170808_121306

20170808_121332

The whole thing came together so nicely, it was like the yarn and pattern were made for each other. After she opened her gift, she put them on right away and wore them for the whole rest of the night. I hope that she wears them so much that she wears a hole through all that cashmere and I’m forced to make her another pair. That would be great.

Stay tuned for two more installments of…bum bum bum…the Summer of Socks! In the middle of winter. It made more sense a few months ago, I promise.

Lace and Cables and Elephants

20171218_150407

For my last baby blanket of the year (I was about to say there’s been a bunch, but really only two others. But seriously three baby blankets in a year plus working and grad school? That’s a lot. I’m super proud of those beautiful things, so please do go look at them here and here.), I present this lovely piece of lace and mock-cabling.

20171218_150533

Uuuunnghh. So pretty.

20171218_150441

This gorgeous thing was made for my friend and former nursing school group partner extraordinaire, Bonnie. Bonnie is one of the nicest people I have ever met. She has never been anything but welcoming and sweet to me, even though I can be sort of a prickly person to get to know (especially when I was in nursing school…sorry everybody). She is full of smiles and encouragement, and I am always happy to see her.

We work in the same hospital, except she’s in the NICU, being one of those superheroes that takes care of all of the tiniest, most fragile patients that there are. I get pulled there occasionally, to my general terror, because I am always scared to death that I am going to break a baby. When she’s there, I know that there’s a wonderful friendly face alongside me, ready to answer questions and make me feel comfortable.

20171218_150434

A girl like that deserves something really lovely for her new baby, and I’m more than honored that I got to make it for her. She wanted something sort of simple and classic, and I think that SweaterBabe‘s Fancy Stitch Baby Blanket was just the perfect choice. I tried to come up with a better project title than “Fancy Stitch,” but really…”fancy” describes this pretty aptly.

20171218_150158

I used Blue Sky Cotton for this, because it is the most perfect yarn for baby projects, in my humble opinion, and that gives the lace and curves a really wonderful squishiness. It’s a long-wearing, good, strong cotton, but it feels absolutely luxurious here.  I want an entire adult-sized blanket made out of it.

20171218_150338

The whole thing came out so elegant. Perfect for a soon-to-be sweet wonderful baby.

I had to make a little squishable buddy to go with this blanket, and the grayish-lavender color (number 644, if you really needed to know) just screamed “elephant” to me.

20171218_150308

This little guy was made using leftovers of the lavender, plus some of the white left over from the chevron blanket. The pattern? Elefante by Susan B. Anderson, who has so many more patterns for some of the cutest plushies I’ve ever seen.

20171218_150704

He is so plump and adorable. Plus, I love the little ridges for the edges of the footpads and trunk. Good stuff. When I sent a picture of him over to Dan, he declared that he looks like an anteater, so we’re calling him Arthur.

There is only one issue. If Arthur’s left unsupported…

20171218_150640

…he looks a little…depressed. In the original pattern, this is more of a design feature with his trunk supporting his head and acting a bit like a fifth foot. However, when I adjusted his eyes to be more muppet-y (just like I like them), I felt like I needed to push up his ears to make his face more open and friendly. Which ended up just making him look like he’s Eeyore, staring at the ground sort of sadly.

20171218_150720

But he’s just perfect if you hold him and play with him and squish him, which is exactly what the best stuffed animals are for.

20171218_150239

Arthur also looks super cute just sort of resting on things, like he’s intently watching everyone else walk around. I’m choosing to think of it as a design feature.

I did make one other tiny change, due to the fact that crocheting the ears as written with their tiny, tiny stitches and multiple crocheted increases caused me physical pain. Instead, I knitted up some circles and whip-stitched them together after folding them in half. The little whipped stitches really make it feel homey and handmade to me. For those who are inclined to make some tiny elephant ears, here’s the instructions:

Ears (make two):
CO 3 sts, and distribute them evenly across 3 double-pointed needles.
Knit 1 round.
Kfb across all sts (6 sts total).
Knit 1 round.
Kfb across all sts (12 sts total).
Knit 1 round.
Kfb across all sts (24 sts total).
Knit 2 rounds.
Kfb across all sts (48 sts total).
Knit 3 rounds.
Bind-off all sts.
Fold each circle in half, with the right-side facing out, and whip-stitch the edges together.

Then follow the rest of the pattern as written!

This project was the cap on a really great knitting year, most of which I haven’t posted about yet, due to its super-secret-ness. Don’t worry though, that’ll all be coming soon. For now, just enjoy that lacy squishy elephant goodness and go make your own.

Knitting Updates, but not the ones you’re looking for, probably. (Comfort for Critters Blanket and Spectacular Single Skein Scarf)

I’m going to show you some lovely pictures of yarn and gorgeous new needles to distract you from the fact that I don’t have any Hamilton hat updates yet.

20160319_115023

20160316_182657

I KNOW.

(Yarn is Malabrigo Rios and needles are the new Knit Picks Majestic set, by the by, but we’ll get back to that in a second.)

20160701_092013

First things first, I made a very loopy and squishy blanket for Comfort for Critters, a charity that works to provide comfort blankets for animals in shelters waiting to be adopted, all over the US. They not only help to make and distribute blankets, but they also provide free yarn for people willing to volunteer and make pet blankets, which is just awesome. I have the feeling that when I am a little old lady, I’ll still be sitting around and knitting as long as I can, making little blankets for Comfort for Critters and Project Linus, since everyone else around me will be completely sick of handknit socks by then.

20160701_091959

I knitted this up out of some mystery acrylic bouclé that my friend Rebecca gave to me an eternity ago. My cats bee-lined for it every single time that they illegally invaded my office and yarn stash, so I figured it would make a really great comfortable blanket, perfect for kneading.

This squishy wonder is headed off to Friends Underwriting Rescues, the only Louisiana-based shelter affiliated with Comfort for Critters, which surprised me, frankly. We need more of these types of things.

20160319_143228

Second thing second, I made this gloriously textured single-row scarf for Dan’s mom, and it’s on its way to her in New Hampshire today, just in time for it to be waaaay too warm for her to wear it. I got the new Knit Picks Majestic interchangeable set as a special present for myself this Christmas, and this was the first project that I broke them out for.

People…these needles are so smooth and silky that it kind of makes me mad. The joins are nearly seamless. The cables are bouncy and flexible. The perfect glossy finish makes everything slide so nicely. I was angry that I waited so long to buy any of these interchangeable sets and really was upset when the scarf was finished because I wanted to keep going forever.

20160701_092854

Also, pairing these dark purple needles up with dark purple yarn? Dumb. But fun.

We all know that I am a big fan of Malabrigo Rios (see it knitted up into my Stone Molly hat), and this color Purpuras is an almost identical match for the Cascade Pacific Chunky that I used to make mukluks for Dan’s mom a few years ago. She’s a big purple fan, and you can’t get much more purple than this.

(My medical/nursing brain has a little bit of a problem with the name of the color, being that in medical-speak purpura describes the purple/red spots made when you bleed under your skin, but I’m imagining that in Spanish this isn’t the immediate association, right?)

20160616_092301

The pattern is the extremely clever Spectacular Single Skein Scarf by Jo Haward. I’m not normally a fan of single-row projects, but this one for some reason shows off the color variation so beautifully. It almost functions like a slip stitch, breaking up each row without obliterating the ombré effect. If you stretched it out when blocking, you’d see that it’s a net-mesh-lace thing in the execution.

20160616_092351

Collapsed on itself, it’s a really plush and squishy texture, inexplicably tilting in the same direction on both sides.

20160616_092341

I’m also a big fan of the slip stitch borders that make everything so tidy and wonderful.

20160616_092407

This is probably the most true-to-color picture, because dark purple is a problematic color to photograph. I have an extra skein left over, since this only took one skein of Rios to make a decently long scarf, and I’m seriously considering making a second one just for myself. It’s that good.

Hopefully by the time I collect my thoughts enough for a New York round-up, I’ll have some sort of update on the Hamilton hats, especially since Mr. Miranda is leaving the show soon.  Let’s all hope that they got them and that they aren’t sitting in the trash right now.  Fingers crossed.

Cowl Before the Storm

2015-05-17 197

Attentive readers (there’s got to be at least one of you, right?) will know that I made some super plain, yet super awesome socks last summer out of Noro Taiyo, one of the more stunningly beautiful and weirdly rustic yarns out there. These socks have proven themselves to be hardwearing and more than game for sliding around on the kitchen floor while I’m making pancakes. I also recently made a lovely, delicate lace shawl out of Misti Alpaca, the softest, most wonderful stuff to ever hover near your face. It’s like sticking your face into a pile of baby rabbits. Or baby alpacas, I suppose.

These yarns couldn’t have less in common, except for the fact that they both involve shades of blue. Why not put them together?

2015-05-17 078

Hot damn.

Admit it, you did that in your head like Bruno Mars’s super hip entourage, didn’t you? Me too.

2015-05-17 077

Introducing, in all of its wooly, silky, alpaca-y glory, Cowl Before the Storm.

You guys know I love puns, so here’s the explanation. A friend of mine once dyed her hair a lovely shade of lilac, and another friend of hers said that it made her look like a beautiful storm cloud. Before I ever even put these yarns together, I could see exactly in my head the beauty that they’d create. I was totally not disappointed. They merged into a lovely, light fabric that is super soft, yet very warm and cozy. Something about the light blue alpaca tempered down the wild color variations of the Taiyo, turning it into a beautiful storm cloud of my own.

2015-05-17 074

Especially that bright turquoise bit right there. Gets me every time. In fact, when I was working on it, a co-worker told me that it looked like the sky right before a storm, hence the name.

2015-05-17 205

Want to make your own? Find two wildly disparate yarns, stick them together, and read on. (Or, go ahead and click here to get the easily printable version, complete with less pictures of my face!)

Cowl Before the Storm
a beautiful little storm cloud of your own…for your neck!

2015-05-17 169

This is a very simple lace project worked in the round, fantastic for lace beginners or for those who love to play with color and texture combinations. You end up using very little of each skein of yarn, so you can save this project for when you need to have some fun with leftovers from other projects. The Lacy Scallops pattern is adapted for knitting in the round from the fantastic stitch reference guide Big Book of Knitting Stitch Patterns published in 2005 by Sterling Publishing.

Yarn:
Noro Taiyo Sock Yarn (50% cotton, 17% wool, 17% polyamide, 16% silk blend, 462 yds. per skein)
Misti Alpaca Lace (100% baby alpaca, 437 yds. per skein)

Supplies:
US size 8 (5.0 mm) 16-inch circular needle
stitch marker (to mark beginning of round)
tapestry or yarn needle
scissors

Gauge:
approximately 5 sts per inch on US 8 (5.0 mm) needles in Lacy Scallop pattern (Gauge is not terribly important here, as long as you don’t end up with a cowl hanging to your knees. Unless that’s your style, then go right ahead.)

Pattern:
CO 108 sts with both strands of yarn held together on circular needle. Join into round, being careful not to twist. Knit 1 row.

Begin Lacy Scallops pattern (adapted from Big Book of Knitting Stitch Patterns):
Round 1: *k1, yo, k2, sl 1, k1, psso, k2tog, k2, yo* until end of round (12 repeats total)
Round 2: knit all sts
Round 3: *yo, k2, sl 1, k1, psso, k2tog, k2, yo, k1* until end of round
Round 4: knit all sts
Round 5: purl all sts
Round 6: knit all sts

Repeat Rounds 1-6 eight more times, for a total of 9 repeats, easily tracked by counting the purled rows.

Knit Rounds 1-4 once more.

Bind off all sts purlwise. Break yarn and weave in ends.

2015-05-17 230

Block lightly, enough to open up the pattern and smooth out the scallops on the edges, but not so much so as to stretch or distort the shape.

2015-04-07 263

If you’re totally awesome like me, this is how much yarn you’ll have left over. And you’ll feel pretty smug.

2015-05-17 194

You earned it.

Azure Waves of Grain

357

I haven’t gotten to knit much so far this year, mostly due to the fact that I am in my very last semester of nursing school, which entails a whole lot of paper- and journal-writing, preceptorship-ing, and NCLEX-reviewing. I actually graduate (YAY!) in the middle of May, and I am saddened to think that I will soon have to find new things to complain about, one of which, if you can judge me by what my priorities were during this last week of Spring Break, will certainly not be “not knitting.” I went on a rampage this past week and finished up a very fiddly and fancy-pants project that I’ve been working on for waaaay too long.

319

310

I mean, look at all that lace! Miles and miles of lace-weight alpaca with perfectly lined-up columns of yarnovers. Looking at it all pinned out…I even impressed myself a little bit.

311

The pattern is the simple and lovely Waves of Grain by Rosemary Hill, in the Fall 2008 issue of Knitty. In the pattern, she has these beautiful poetic musings about the amber waves of grain from “America the Beautiful,” but since I went with the blue and silver thing here, I think that Azure Waves of Grain is a delightful play on words. Just try to talk me out of a good pun. I dare you.

306

With a project like this, where the lace itself is relatively simple and full of long runs of straight lines, blocking wires are a truly amazing thing.

313

You can buy your own set here at KnitPicks, like I did. (Oh, and get those blocking mats, too, while you’re at it! They will also save your life over and over again.) You weave them carefully in and out of the yarnovers on the ends of the rows and pin them back, and voila!

314

When it’s totally dry and you pull out those pins, you see these glorious super-straight rows that make you weep a little bit. For those unfamiliar with lace knitting, the piece that you end up with after the knitting is complete looks a bit like ramen noodles. No matter what kind of master knitter you are, the yarnovers are a million different sizes, the edges are wobbly, and everything is just a big mess.

300

Blocking makes everything beautiful again. And blocking wires in particular prevent any weird scalloping or yanked-out corners and edges that destroy all of that hard work.

321

320

This was also the very first time that I attempted knitting beads into anything, and this was definitely a good project to start with. In this particular pattern, the beads are not pre-strung onto the yarn, but they are threaded onto the individual stitch itself with a teeny-tiny crochet hook, right before the stitch is worked into the pattern.

325

Toothless approves.

301

I got these particular clear glass and silver-foil beads at Michael’s, and I waaaay overbought them, so someone needs to find me another project to use them up (or let me know if you have a dire need for them as well). Having the beads on the end of the shawl gives it a nice little weight and swing, plus the beads make a wonderful little clicking sound when you’re moving around with it.

316

Lace in the sunlight always makes me weak in the knees.

315 (2)

Now, I need to find an occasion to wear this, other than traipsing around the house and pretending that I am an International Woman of Mystery, but I think that it’ll be perfection for any sort of dressy occasion. And I’m graduating soon…hmm.

Kai-Mei (or…Dark Purple Socks Are Impossible to Photograph)

2014-07-17 067

I have had a skein of Mountain Colors Bearfoot in Mountain Twilight sitting around in my stash for at least 6 years now.

i 014

It is, quite possibly, the most beautiful sock yarn in the entire world, and I was hoarding it for years simply because there were no patterns that justified its use. It’s a superwash wool, mohair, and nylon blend that you would swear had silk in it due to how soft and slippery and smooth it is. The color is the absolute darkest blues and purples imaginable, with little bits of magenta and gold streaks. You can understand why I wanted to wait. Instead, I would just occasionally take it out of its drawer and pat it admiringly, and then put it away with a bit of a sigh.

Recently, I attempted to make Cookie A.‘s Kai-Mei socks with Noro Taiyo, and the result was…a mess. The yarn was simply not right in any way, shape, or form for the delicate goings-on of Kai-Mei.

Mountain Colors, though? Perfection.

2014-07-17 035

Kai-Mei is a joy to knit, especially if you are a big sock-knitting nerd, like me. It has a wonderful little lace flower-heart-type motif that is not only asymmetrically placed, but also runs across the top of the sock diagonally due to a lovely bit of increasing and decreasing engineering ingenuity.

2014-07-17 047

I know that it doesn’t sound like much in words, but a whole bunch of knitters just thought that sounded totally awesome.

2014-07-17 051

This type of gusset decreasing results in a relatively normal-looking ribbed sock on one side…

2014-07-17 052

…and totally bad-ass diagonal lace on the other.

2014-07-17 048

Here’s Cookie A., stating it much more succinctly and poetically:

Shifting the gusset decreases to one side of the lace panel causes it to angle across the top of the foot, demonstrating that the path taken need not be traditional.

How do you not immediately mark that with a post-it with an exclamation mark on it and pledge your most precious skein of sock yarn to it? You are just compelled.

2014-07-17 050

This pattern is not without its tricky bits, though. Firstly, there is a whole lot of 3×3 ribbing that you have to get yourself through before you get to the exciting part.

2014-07-17 037

2014-07-17 038

The heels are fairly standard as well, and you are so excited to do this diagonal lace thing that you just fly through it.

2014-07-17 262

And while you are knitting that awesome diagonal lace, you run up against a configuration like this. You have one needle with the standard amount of stitches, one with only a few that are consistently dwindling away, and one with a whole boatload that are getting difficult to navigate. If you’re doing the right sock, add in a stitch marker there, just to make things more interesting. It becomes like a weird little balancing act, trying to knit all of the stitches properly and follow the pattern while also avoiding dropping all of the stitches accidentally off of the tiny needle (which may have happened once when I decided to slide my stitches to the end of the needle with a little too much gusto) and piercing yourself in the hand with all of that extra needle that is sticking out at all sorts of odd angles. It’s very porcupine-y.

Why not just rearrange stitches, you ask? Well, the spaces between your needles are acting as your stitch markers, letting you know when you transition between thematic elements, so unless you want to add in several more stitch markers (you don’t), you suck it up and carry on to your triumphant end.

2014-07-17 040

One of the more entertaining parts of this process was blocking the socks once they were finished. As already established, this yarn is super dark. So dark that it looks like a different color in every single picture, I know. (The most accurate ones are probably the first one up top, and the one of the skein by itself. Everything else is a mishmash of electric blue and magenta.) It takes a lot of dye to make sock yarn that saturated.

2014-07-17 267

Meaning that my sink, which is already kind of a strange shade of pink, was looking pretty festive after the socks came out. Funnily enough, even though they left behind hot pink water, there was not a single mark on the towel that they were left on to dry. Must have some kind of magic, those Mountain Colors people.

2014-07-17 075

These socks, after their brief photoshoot and moment in the spotlight, are being sent along to a lady who really loves her purple, and I do not think she will be disappointed.

2014-07-17 041

I feel similarly after knitting these socks as I do after every knitting project that I would call “challenging” or one that introduces me to a new technique or construction method. I get so excited to knit them that I fly through them and sacrifice important things like vacuuming my house regularly in order to complete them. And then after that…I’m a little sad. I wish that I had gone a little bit slower and let them last a little longer, much like when reading the last chapter of a great book, you simultaneously need to know what happens next, but also are painfully aware that the end is coming.

Maybe that just means that I need to knit another pair.

Thankful for Pie – Mostly Wordless 2012 Edition

The simple things this year are what I’m thankful for. The little breaks from stress and school and other ridiculous things. The things that keep us sane (and keep us from freaking out about that dangling preposition up there the first sentence).

Simplicity.

So here we have, presented in no particular order, and without additional commentary, the good stuff.

2012-11-21 057 2012-11-21 059

2012-02-26 036

2012-02-25 010

2012-07-10 090

2012-05-10 026 2012-04-07 059

2012-04-09 037

2012-02-20 346

2012-11-21 065 2012-11-21 067

2012-04-09 129

232

2012-04-30 036 133

097

076 2012-02-11 016

2012-02-17 018

2012-04-14 007 2012-11-21 074

008

2012-06-11 171 2012-06-11 152

031

2012-11-21 081

2012-11-21 070

2012-11-21 025

Happy Thanksgiving.

Floral Lace Anklets? Done!

2012-05-25 045

Why, hello there!

2012-05-25 017

That’s some nice lacy texture you’ve got going on there.

What’s your name?

2012-05-25 015

Floral Lace Anklets? Nice to meet you! Those toes sure look cozy.

2012-05-25 012

And those heels seem like they’d fit just right. Seems like you’d be great for romping out in the backyard.

2012-05-25 042

Except you are wool, and you are not meant to live with me forever (even though I’d like you to), so I will just pose delicately instead.

I know that my mom will love these, if I can bear to part with them. They went super fast, as lace seems to do for me for some reason. The Heritage is lovely stuff, and I can’t believe I waited this long to use it. This marks three projects that I’ve done so far from Lace Style, (Here’s my Lily of the Valley Shawl and Retro Redux Shrug), and there’s still eleventy-billion more that I’d like to try. Katharine Hepburn Cardigan, anyone? Gorgeous stuff. Maybe one day.