Through The Eyes Of Others

Late last year one of my cousins reached out to me and asked if I’d be willing to work on a handspun handknit commission for his girlfriend for her birthday in spring. I don’t do much at all with commissions, but for family & close friends I make exceptions when I have time and ability. Since he contacted me with plenty of time and is generally an awesome human being and a talented artist himself (you can see his artwork here), I quickly agreed. At the time we discussed ideas loosely and settled on something purple and that I’d work on yarn and then we’d revisit pattern ideas once the yarn was ready.

My Three Waters Farm Mercurial Light seemed like it would fit the bill nicely.

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I’d originally started it for a weaving project, but as I got to plying…

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I had a feeling it was never going to make it to the loom.

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I took a photo and sent it to my cousin for his ok and we quickly agreed that it would work. It’s such a rich, pretty purple!

From there, we messaged back and forth regarding patterns and after reviewing a few options, he selected Golden Sand by Joji Locatelli. It’s versatile and yet feminine and the silk blend would make for a lovely drape. I got right to the knitting.

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I agonized a bit over the pooling color that you can barely see in this photo. As a handspinner and handknitter, it’s common practice to agonize over such things that normal humans won’t notice. I kept knitting, though, as I had a feeling I was being a little crazy. As I kept going, I could see how much rich depth the varied colors gave the shawl. And once I started in on the lace border…

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Well, all doubt washed away. I knew it was going to be even better than I had hoped.

I got it blocked and finished straight away because I could not wait to see it…

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It was indeed better than I’d imagined. The silk blend gave it such a nice drape and the lace weight of the yarn made it beautifully airy…

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While still providing excellent structural detail for the lace edging.

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It turned out stunning, I think. I helped get it packaged up and made a little card sharing whose hands the project had passed through on its way to its forever home. And then off it went!

I am flattered and humbled that I was asked to take on this project and I’m so very happy with the results. It was a wonderful experience. Not only was it fun to work with my cousin to find just the right piece for his lady, but it also felt good to put my skills to work for a purpose beyond my own small circle. There is something very, very cool about sharing those skills and seeing them appreciated through the eyes of others. It’s an experience I won’t soon forget!

 

 

 

Be Sweet Skinny Wool + Broken Wings

Every now and then I get the chance to try a yarn that is just a decadent luxury.img_3295Be Sweet Skinny Wool definitely falls into this category. This delicate merino single is oh-so-soft and buttery. Think of the most rich, melt-in-your-mouth sweet treat — this is the yarn equivalent and it is delicious.

When I initially agreed to take this yarn for a test drive I had a certain pattern in mind, but as the story so often goes when I got it started on my needles it just wasn’t doing this lovely yarn justice. I ripped my progress and headed back to the drawing board. It just so happened that right around that time Joji Locatelli released a new pattern named Broken Wings. Requiring just 360-380yards of light fingering weight yarn, it felt like I’d hit the jackpot on timing.

When I got going, I was slightly concerned that this light fingering would be too light.

img_3351But I had a good feeling about it and I kept going…

img_3539And going…

img_3550And going!

For as complex as it looks, it was actually a relatively easy lace knitting project and I really had fun with it. I’ll admit that the not-knowing-how-it-would-turn-out that is a lace knitting project was a little disconcerting, but I hung in there. I really, really, really wanted to do this beautiful yarn justice.

And then I blocked it out…

super det laceAnd my concerns melted away.

detail pointFrom the lace to the delicate picot edge this just turned blossomed into a gorgeous shawl.

hangingIt’s not especially deep, but it is wonderfully long. And the twisted rib & bobble end are an unexpected and sublime detail.

onLight & airy and perfect for a light summer wrap to throw over your shoulders. I’m sure I’ll wear it year-round though, just because it is so darn pretty.

Considering this is a merino singles yarn, it held up remarkably well to my ripping back the first project and in the end it washed up beautifully. I’ve worked with similar yarns before, but I was very impressed with this Be Sweet Skinny Wool. Both the marvelous color and the high quality of the yarn were notable in my book. I will certainly keep this lovely yarn (and pattern, too!) on my short list of favorites because every now and then, you know, we just need a decadent luxury.

This Week in My Dreams

I never quite know what project is going to tickle my fancy from day to day or week to week. In fact, it sometimes happens that projects I can’t live without don’t actually stand the test of time while those I initially shun do. This week’s obsession is one of those.

Joji Locatelli’s Old Romance has been on my mind this week.

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Image from Joji Locatelli’s Ravelry  pattern page – Click for link!

It really didn’t appeal to me when it first came out, but now I’m dreaming of pairing it with Tanis Fiber Arts Blue Label in one of two color pairings…

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Pink Grapefruit and Natural

or

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Midnight and Stone

(Yarn images from Tanis Fiber Arts website – Click images for links!)

What are you dreaming of knitting this week?

How To Love The End of Winter

There are the projects — like yesterday’s — that take a little time to evolve and there are those that have a more Athena-like birth. They emerge with their destinies clear and fully formed. Joji Locatelli’s 3 Color Cashmere Cowl was pretty much as close to an Athena-knit as it gets for me. I saw it. I knew I wanted to knit it. I got the pattern and yarn. I knit it. And today I’m wearing it. There was no mussing about any aspect of the project, just simple & straight-forward unquestionable knitting.

For this cowl, I used 3 skeins of Miss Babs’ Sojourn, an insanely luxurious 65% cashmere – 35% silk blend.

missbabsThe colorways are Oyster, Hot to Trot, and Pewter.

And you can bet…

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That every last second of knitting this was pretty much like knitting clouds in heaven. I won’t say this was a quick knit for me. I think mentally it took me a bit of a leap to knit a cowl that is so incredibly long. You know how you start a project and you kind start an internal timer — a cowl should take me a couple days or maybe a week or socks should take me 1-3weeks or a sweater should take a month or two. That timer ebbs and flows as I take on random projects here and there, but if things start to lag I start to feel it. In any case, this project tested that internal clock  and I actually think it was good for me. New things keep us on our toes, right?! In any case, despite working on it at the same time I was speeding toward the finish line with a sweater I whipped this up in just under a month.

3colorAnd like I said, today I’m wearing it. And — like my impression of the knitting — I’m finding my neck encircled in warm heaven clouds.

3color2I really love the simple details of this pattern — lending texture and color in the most elegant ways.

3color1And that little bit of lace — it’s inspired. Those familiar with the pattern will note that those two stipes of pink at the upper edge just after the lace and before the ribbing are supposed to be the light grey, but unfortunately I ran out. To tell you the truth, I am kind of glad I did. I love that little pop of pink in the deep grey.

3color3I say it a lot here, but all in all I couldn’t be happier with this finished project. Like every Joji Locatelli pattern I’ve worked with, I found it to be very well-written and easy to follow. This cowl would be great for a beginner who wants to take just an extra little step up in difficulty as there are some very nice advanced beginner techniques involved. Striping (and she includes a quite note on working the jogless jog), some basic textured stitch patterns, and the little section of basic lace are all great ways to expand a new knitters’ repertoire. For those of us who’ve been at it for a while, it’s definitely fun in that it changes up enough to keep things interesting. And then there’s the whole wearing heaven clouds around your neck thing that can’t be beat.

Perhaps my favorite part of this cowl is that it’s incredibly warm. In my experience, it would take a small, structured bulky or super bulky design in wool or wool/alpaca blend to be as cozy as this cowl. When worn, the extreme length creates layers of warmth that just can’t be beat. I didn’t realize it when I started out on this project, but it is proving to be the best late winter treat ever. Soft, super warm heaven clouds certainly help me to love every last minute of this winter, I think. So go ahead and bring on more of these subzero temps or bring me three feet of snow, I’ve got my 3 Color Cashmere Cowl and I’m going to wear the heck out of it.

Days like these.

The best immune system and constant handwashing can’t protect even the strongest of us from the occasional inevitability that comes from caring for sick kids.  For the last few days, I have felt like… well, like this…

20130313-125337.jpgThis is my darling daughter after her first full day of school. She’s been attending half-day school since September, but to enable me to chaperone a field trip with my son she went for a full day yesterday. Our normal 2minute walk home took 20minutes. She made it 3steps in the front door & then just kind of fell over and laid there for a while. She had a blast, but she sure was tired! In any case, first full day of school, the cold I’m suffering from — all kind of the same thing apparently.

As you can imagine, when you feel like this all you want is to be comfortable. For this reason, I thought I’d share some photos of a sweater I finished last November. It is the quintessential comfort sweater, Lemongrass by Joji Locatelli and I have been living in it the last few days. lemongrass3

I saw the pattern shortly after it came out in September and then shortly after convinced a friend to knit it with me. I had never tried Malabrigo Twist before & thought it’d be a good opportunity to test drive this new yarn. I am so pleased with how the sweater came out & it has been well loved and worn since I finished it. Today is no exception. It is so warm & squishy – paired with a thermal shirt to brace against the wind it is as perfect for walking the dog as it is for trying to relax and knit. Just so perfect for me when I am feeling so under the weather.

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I cannot say enough good things about the pattern — it was the first pattern I’ve knitted by Joji Locatelli & I was really impressed. Lemongrass is clear & well written and I thoroughly enjoyed knitting it. The directions advise knitting the size that will give you at least 8″ of positive ease, so it’s a lot more knitting that I was used to for a sweater. On the flip side, working with a bulky weight yarn means progress is pretty speedy. And like I said, the finished outcome is big & cushy & wonderful.

lemongrass2You may have noticed my favourite Malabrigo colorway — Paris Night — … again. It was absolutely necessary to alternate skeins throughout the entire sweater. Despite the fact that my yarn came from the same color lot the difference between skeins was very noticeable. The thing about Malabrigo though — it’s worth the effort.

lemongrass4I’m going to snuggle up in my Lemongrass with my knitting. One hour of quiet until the kids get home. Time to rest & heal. My sweater was made for days like this.

For details on my Lemongrass, check out my Ravelry project page.