July 18, 2014

14 Mushroom Or Oyster? You Decide -- Booknits Ocean Breeze MKAL

As you may remember, I am just off the tail of another Mystery Knit-A-Long, but somehow I had this urge to continue the not-knowing-what-you're-knitting torture.  I have admired one shawl by Booknits for awhile:

stormyk9's version of Sweet Dreams, project page here.

But if you just check out her designer page on Ravelry, you'll keel over from all the beautiful dripping lace borders.

This MKAL had a generous starting time, a month or more it seemed, to choose your yarn.  The idea was to pick two different textured yarns of the same shade, such as silky and fuzzy.  I ran around in circles trying to make it work, but ended up falling for two different textured yarns that were rather different shades (thank you for your excellent color help Sylvie!).

Handmaiden Sea Silk in Crema, had no idea the Swiss made 'mountain silk'!

The King of mohair, Rowan Kidsilk Haze in Blustery.

The shawl uses about 800 beads, and I wanted to use my stash.  I had two differently sized beads that matched -- the plastic pearls would fit on any yarn, but the shiny mauve beads were very thin and irregular and would only fit on the mohair.

The mystery INCLUDED that I didn't know what yarn the beads would go on... it turned out to be both.  So what I did was use the pearls with the white and the mauve with the brown.

Booknits shawl patterns are usually crescent shawls which incorporate needle size changes in order to enlarge the borders.  I found that the increases for the beginning of the shawl ended up making an odd neck hump.  I tried hard to block it straight, but then that section would pucker, so I blocked it the way it wanted to go:

The top was done with flexible blocking wires, see more about them here.

Unfortunately, this means that the 'hump' often rolls, and OF COURSE, it rolls to the visible side because of the stockinette stitch.  I find myself often trying to tuck it in, but I really don't like having to adjust my shawls too much, I start feeling a bit OCD!

Carefully tucked in, but will it stay?!

(By the way, this flower dress was a total find in a Manchester, UK charity shop for 8 pounds, I love how it matches yet clashes with this shawl.)

Those of you who have made the shawl (or have been eyeing it) may notice that my border looks different.  Well, honestly, the end of the pattern was disappointing.  I had never made a Booknits shawl and expected some massively dripping overly-Victorian lace.  I was very surprised to see a squared off border in the pattern:

Copyright Booknits, 2014

Additionally, the last patterned row didn't have any beads... but every row similar to it did.  I had oodles of beads left, so I added them as so:

And then I blocked into tri-points.  Lovely!

I took all these shots in lovely Spruce Head, Maine, smack in the middle of lobster country.  You can see the lobster cage buoys in the background of many of the photos.  We have a quaint, extremely private rental for a couple, with an excellent lobster shack within walking distance, McLoons. Message me if you'd like any extra info.

I don't make shawls very often, but this only took 2 weeks and was totally worth the sweater/top/blanket break!  You'll be seeing a lot more of Spruce Head, Brooklin and Bar Harbor, Maine in the coming weeks as I close in on finishing quite a few pieces.  I've been alone for a couple of days, it's a rarity to be by yourself in a delicious vacation spot, and some lobstermen must have wondered what loony was taking pictures of herself on the rocks.  Now it's time to go play in the low tide... see you soon!

See my Where The Ocean Breeze Hits the Sand on Ravelry

Dayana says, "Follow my blog already!"

July 2, 2014

17 My First Knitted Bag and Man, It's Cute! -- Summer Fling Hobo

I've queued a million bag patterns to knit, but never managed to tackle any of them.  My hang-up is usually about how on earth to get things to actually stay in them.  Knitting is loose and hole-y, and even if you knit carpal-tunnel tight, I'm sure that things will worm their way out eventually? Ways to avoid this:  1.) Line the bag (ugh, dragging out the sewing machine, doing a sloppy job, etc.).  2.) Felt the bag (ugh, dragging out the washing machine (ok, mine needs to be rolled to a sink for a hook-up, just to explain!), figure out how much your yarn shrinks, do an irreparably bad job, etc).

Also, knitted bag patterns don't always look very cool... do you know what I mean?  Kind of wonky or bulky or slouchy?  So, I was really pleased when I spotted this super-cute hobo bag pattern on the Espace Tricot blog, and even better, it was FREE!  (Espace Tricot is one of my local yarn stores, but I highly recommend you follow their blog for their excellent free patterns and tips)

Download Summer Fling, here.

The pattern is called Summer Fling and uses Quince & Co. 100% linen yarn Sparrow.  There are no seams and it is really quite fun to make.  You simply make a strip and then pick up extra stitches along the side to knit in the round.  The cool hobo shape comes from a few decreases and keeping a wide swath of stitches on holders for the straps, which are grafted together in the end.

I decided to try the Sparrow (you only need one skein each of two colors) as I was already playing with the new Rowan Pure Linen (see my blog post and review here) and wanted to compare.  First off, the colors are simply gorgeous.  They are muted, but not pastel.  Grays, neutrals... but when there are bright colors they are the nice tones of them.  Very impressed with the color palette.

As for the yarn -- listen.  This is a typical linen.  It's a twisted ply and frankly that means that it hurts to knit with after a few hours.  The friction from running it across your thumb is pretty direct, and you will see your skin get red.  I basically worked on it for a few hours and then had to wait a few days before picking it up again.  BUT the fabric is really nice -- I suppose that's the price you have to pay for it!  It is very clean, smooth and strong.  There are some wonky stitches that turn up now and then (as I see with knitting with any firm fiber like hemp, etc), but it really does knit up beautifully.

Mind you, I knitted a lot of it in the dark and strobes of an electronic music festival... so maybe you won't get any wonky stitches at all!

I followed this pattern pretty closely, except that I wanted to use as much yarn as possible.  So, I knitted with the first skein until it was gone, which ended up being longer than you needed in the pattern.  For the second color skein, I knit a lot more, gambling on whether I had enough for the straps.  I didn't quite, but it turned out that they were long enough anyway.

To keep the edges from rolling, you finish off with a pick-up and bind off all along the straps and edges.  I made sure to do it really tight.  You can definitely see a little puckering from that, but I prefer it to rolling!  In retrospect, if you don't want that rolling edge at all, do the last few rows of the bag (omitting the strap stitches) in reverse stockinette so that it at least rolls inwards and not outwards.

The big question is, how do you block a 3-D hollow object, right??  If I just got it wet and hung it, it would be stretched and the bottom would come up the sides.  I needed to fill it with something.  My first thought was polyester fiberfill, but I couldn't get it smooth, and I knew I'd end up with a lumpy bag.  And then I though of this old travel toiletries bag I had... it turned out to be the perfect size of the bottom.

Ugly old bag...

... put to good use!

I stuck it in to the wet-soaked bag and then filled it with fiberfill, adding a bit more on top to dry
in the sun.

Keep the strap flat and wide.

And you know what else??  If I keep this toiletries bag permanently in there I'll get rid of my "everything falling out" problem... especially those pesky slippery point Addi knitting needles!

Toiletries bag not inside!

See my Summer Sling on Ravelry

**NOW** -- some of you may know that I didn't post last week because I was in the UK visiting the Rowan mothership!!  Well, duh, of course it was amazing like you assured me it would be.  :)  SO, do stay tuned for an Seriously Inside Look at the Rowan Mill next week.

And believe me, you did NOT want to be around while I tried to pack my suitcase!!

All new Rowan yarns!!

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