Pre-Gaming

The Ravellenic Games start in just a couple of days. This doesn’t mesh up very well with my knitting timetable. I don’t want to cast on for a big project because I’d have to put it aside shortly. I don’t really want to cast on for little projects, because I could just wait and do them during the Games. But, since I have to knit, I went ahead and did it anyway.

My potholder is about halfway done. I haven’t decided yet what color to make the other side, but I’ve narrowed it down to three choices:

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I think I’m leaning toward the yellow, but I’m not sure yet. Thoughts? Opinions?

Another quick project I started is Belle’s Spa Cloth, another test knit for Carol. This has been something of a comedy of errors. I would have started sooner but I needed help winding the skein into a ball. I drafted someone at my knitting group last night to help me*. While sitting at my LYS today, I looked around for my needles so I could cast on. Nope, couldn’t find them. I grabbed an extra pair of US4s lying around and got started. Before I left, I transferred it onto a spare circ I had in my bag. I got home, found the right needles, and started to knit. Well, I knit the next row with the US4s, but forgot to put the extra circ down. I knit several rows alternating between the 4s and the extra, which was US2. I eventually realized it when I looked down and noticed I was still holding both needles. Whoops! It made the tension really weird, so I pulled it out and started over. Now, I think I’m good to go. It doesn’t look like much yet, but here’s what I have so far:

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I think those two projects will tide me over until Friday. If I finish them both and need something else, I’ll just start another potholder. Or some socks. There’s always socks!

Happy knitting!

*Last time, I asked the wifey to help me. She did, but she complained the whole time 🙂 So, I figured I’d lean on a fellow knitter instead!

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Learning is Fun

Now that my WTF, Stripes? socks are done (more on that on Thursday), I needed a new project. I’ve got a few things brewing, but nothing quite ready to cast on yet. So I grabbed the kitchen cotton I got at the thrift store the other day and got ready to knit a potholder.

Several years back, I made a number of potholders using the beginning of knitty’s Kureyon Kozy pattern. They were double layered circles, knit in the round from the inside out, joined with a three needle bind off. Here are pictures of the only one I still have. Clearly, it’s been loved!

The color in the second pic is off–it’s really more of a light blue. Since it’s clearly on its last legs, I figured I’d make a couple more. I dug out the Kureyon Kozy pattern and cast on. I knit a handful of rows and decided it just wasn’t working for me. For whatever reason, I couldn’t get the cast on tight enough, and I didn’t like the way the increases (kfb) looked. I went back to the drawing board–ravelry. I searched for round patterns and stumbled across this Sunny Side Up placemat (free download on KnitPicks). That pattern calls for a circular cast on. I read through the directions but they made exactly zero sense to me. So, my good friend google came to the rescue. I searched for circular cast ons and found a handful of different ones, mostly variations on each other. I settled on the disappearing loop cast on and used this video to do it.

I got going. It took several tries, but I eventually came up with something I like a lot. The trick for me was to cast on and knit the first row or two on needles much smaller than I’m using for the rest of the project. Maybe that wouldn’t be necessary with a more slippery yarn, which would make it easier to pull the circle tight. But, with kitchen cotton, I couldn’t get it to snug up enough. So, I cast on with US2s and switched to US5s on the third round. It worked great!

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I love that I’m always learning new knitting tricks!

Thrifty Knitting

I love yarn and I love shopping, but seeing as I’m not working at the moment, I’m on a serious budget. I also might already have a decent amount of yarn. But every once in a while, the thrill of the hunt hits, and I just can’t help myself! A few days ago we took a quick trip to the GWBTP*. I haven’t gone in a while because it involves a lot of bending and reaching, and those have been difficult for me for a while now. But, the wifey agreed to be my “arms” so we did a short trip.

It’s hit or miss there usually. This time was more hit than miss, and before we knew it we had two carts full of stuff (don’t worry, Mom, we pared it down to less than one–and it was cheap). I don’t often find yarn there and, when I do, it’s almost always cheaper stuff that I don’t feel the need to bring home. This time I found a Ziploc bag with some yarn in it, but only one ball made it into the cart. There was a pair of short US10 Brittany wooden needles that came along for the ride, too. I also picked up a pair of unused makeup bags that I thought would make nice project bags. It wasn’t till I got them home that I realized the yarn and bags coordinated:

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I’ve been wanting a couple of new dishcloths lately, so I’ll use that kitchen cotton to start whipping some up!

I keep hearing good things about Cat Bordhi’s book, New Pathways for Sock Knitters.

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So, we stopped by the library the other day and I checked to see if they had it. They didn’t, and neither did any other libraries in the state of Maryland (at least on that network). I arranged for it to be ordered on interlibrary loan, and it’s on its way! If it ends up being the solid resource I’m expecting it to be, I’ll pick up a used copy on amazon. They did have a copy of New Directions in Sock Knitting by Ann Budd, so I checked that out:

Image from amazon.com

The last time my mom was in town, we took a quick weekend trip to my home town. On the way back, we popped into a few different thrift stores, just for fun. We didn’t find much that day, but I did stop to snap a picture of these plates I saw:

There were a few of each design. I thought it was interesting that there were a bunch of plates with spinning wheels on them. I hope a spinner found them and bought them!

I actually bought yarn for a project the other day. Remember I posted about going to my LYS’s “yarn tasting” happy hour recently? Well, all the yarns they had available for “tasting” were 10% off. Our friend (and our daughter’s nanny) has a new niece who hasn’t had an easy road of it, health-wise. I wanted to knit something for her and her mom chose a small blanket. I looked for a while for the right yarn for it, but had a hard time finding something just right that was also reasonably priced. I wanted it to be machine washable and dryable, but not to be 100% synthetic. I looked through a ton of different options online but wasn’t quite sold on any of them. Well, my LYS had some Kraemer Tatamy Tweed DK up for tasting and I gave it a try. It’s a 45% cotton/55% acrylic blend that’s completely washable. It feels soft and has a little shine to it, but it also has just the right amount of subtle tweedy texture. I bought four skeins for a total of about 1000 yards. It should be enough to make this free blanket pattern on ravelry:

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It’s the Baby Shane Blanket pattern by Tanis Lavallee (image taken from the ravelry pattern page). I have two skeins of neutral grey and one each of pink and lavender, so I’ll do two grey/pink triangles and two grey/lavender triangles. I think it will look really nice!

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While I would love nothing more than to buy some squishy soft madelinetosh or malabrigo superwash and make a beautiful blanket out of that, it’s just not in the cards right now. So, I’m doing the best with what I’ve got, and am very happy with how it’s working out. I might add this project to my Ravellenic Games plan. Think I can knit a thousand yards of blanket in a couple of weeks?

How’s your knitting going, thrifty or otherwise? Made any splurges lately?

*Goodwill by the pound, or Goodwill Outlet for those not in the know. It’s a thrift store where everything is priced by the pound instead of individually. There’s a ton of great stuff to be found but you’ve got to be willing to dig through bins of stuff to find it.

Thursday Sock-Along: “Yarn Ramen” Edition

I’ve had some serious sock drama over the past week, let me tell you! The background info, in case you’re just tuning in, is I’m knitting Susan B. Anderson’s Smooth Operator Socks. There’s a KAL for this pattern happening now in her ravelry group, and the pattern is currently discounted. If you’re at all interested, it’s worth checking out: you don’t even have to finish your socks to qualify for prizes! Just get them on the needles. Also, there’s some great sock eye candy showing up.

So. My socks. I was cruising along, going toe-up, TAAT. Since the pattern is written cuff-down, I had to guess at how long to knit the foot before adding waste yarn for the afterthought heel. Based on what I saw in other patterns and the advice I got on rav, I went with 2″ less than my foot length. I put the waste yarn in at 8.5″, knitted about another 1.5″ of the leg, then went back to do the heels.

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Aaaaaughhhh! Giant foot!!!

Note the extra length at the heel and toe. All told, they were a full inch longer than my feet! I thought for a bit that I could just pull them up higher, so that the heel hit the back of my ankle, but quickly realized that wouldn’t work. They would end up in the back of my sock drawer, never to be worn. Okay, maybe I’d layer them over other socks in the extreme dead of winter, but probably not. Plus, who wants to put so much work into socks with awesome stripes in awesome colors, just to wear them once a year? Not this guy.

So, I frogged. I pulled out the couple of inches of leg. I pulled out the finished and Kitchenered heels. I ripped the foot back to about 7″ long. It hurt me, knitters. It really hurt me.

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Waaaaaaahhhh!

And I got going again. I re-added the waste yarn for the heels, and carried on with the leg. It’s about time now to tackle the heels again. I will probably graft them a little bit earlier than I did the last time.

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Despite all the challenges these socks have given me, I really love them. Interestingly enough, I got the same comment about them from two different people the other day: They look like Harry Potter socks. Works for me! If only I could rig up some magic knitting needles like Molly Weasley, maybe I could finally Knit All The Things!

Are you doing any sock knitting? Feel free to post about it on Thursdays and link up with the group! Also, you can share your projects on Instagram with the tag #thursdaysockalong. Check out my fellow Thursday sock knitters here:

Happy sock knitting!

On Your Mark, Get Set, Knit!

Get ready for a doozy of a sock post tomorrow–lots to tell on that front! Otherwise, I’ve been working on my third spa cloth test knit for Carol at knit equals joy. Here’s a teaser pic:

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This one doesn’t have a name yet. It’s cast off now, but needs a bit of blocking before I can get better pics. I love pretty much anything that includes knitted mesh lace! So easy and it looks awesome. What’s not to love? Also, in case you missed it, Carol has published The Queen’s Spa Cloth and Cinderella’s Spa Cloth. They’re both on sale for a significant discount (and they are very reasonably priced to begin with) so check them out if you are interested!

I’ve been itching to cast on for something big–a giant shawl, perhaps? But I don’t know when I’m going to get to it. I have sweater pieces to block and sew together (for a friend at my LYS) and a couple of other projects that need wrapping up. Also, I’m contemplating participating in the 2016 Ravellenic Games. For that, the idea is to knit along while the Olympics are happening. For projects to qualify for prizes, they need to be started and finshed during the 2016 Summer Olympics, so August 8 through August 21. I’m trying to think of projects that are on the small to medium size so that I could conceivably get them done in that window.

One of the projects I’m considering is this Mesh Lace Slouchy Hat by Jaime Sande, free on ravelry. I’ve posted about this one before, so I won’t go into a ton of detail. I have a skein of Berroco Ultra Alpaca that should be perfect for it.

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Another is this Neon Ski Bonnet by Lacey Volk. This one’s also a free ravelry download.

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I matched this pattern a while back with a skein of Cascade 220 in a rather fantastic shade of coral.

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If I don’t run out of Cascade Ultra Pima Fine from testing spa cloths, I will whip out a Castle Beach Spa Cloth, also by Carol.

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Also, there’s one more cloth to test, so I could do that too! I’m sure I can find something appropriate in my stash for one of them. Maybe I’ll do the Castle cloth in stripes so I can use up the last of the purple and blue.

Nothing else that’s currently in my queue is in the small to medium range (except a pair of Purl Soho legwarmers that I’m not sure I’m going to make), but those are likely to keep me busy for a while. If I knock all of those out, then maybe I’ll finally make that pair of Metolius River Mitts I’ve been promising myself for months now!

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Are you joining in the friendly knitting competition? What projects are you planning on doing? Anyone crazy enough to be doing a sweater or another large project?

All pattern photos are from the ravelry pattern pages. Copyrights are to each designer.

 

Creative Blogger Award Nomination

About a month ago, I got a comment that both surprised me and made my day. The author of Healing Handcrafting, a blog that never fails to inform and inspire, gave me a nomination for the Creative Blogger Award! I’m not familiar with the origins of this one, but healinghandcrafting included the rules and routines on her “acceptance speech” post here.

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Image origin unknown

I didn’t start this blog because of any grand ideas of taking over the world or anything. I just found I wanted to talk about knitting a lot (like, a lot) more than the people around me wanted to hear. Since knitting is also, for me, a source of solace, pain relief and a coping strategy for depression, I’ve also talked about its healing effects. I’ve been pleased and surprised by the lovely supportive comments I’ve gotten over the past year. In an unforeseen twist, the community I’ve gained from writing here and reading others’ blogs has become as much a source of support as the actual knitting has.

That connection between creating and healing was what drew me to HealingHandcrafting in the first place. Her blog covers that relationship in detail and is beautifully written, to boot. That is why I’m re-nominating it for this award (see below).

So, the rules:

  1. Nominate 15-20 bloggers and add their links.
  2. Thank the person who nominated you and include a link to their blog.
  3. Share five facts about yourself.
  4. Notify the bloggers you included.
  5. Keep the rules in your post.

I’ve linked to HealingHandcrafting at the top of the post. Thank you very much for the nomination! It’s humbling to receive such a compliment from someone I admire!

Five facts. Hmmm.

  1. I love making music. I still consider myself a musician, even though all I do these days is sing along to the radio. As a kid and young adult, I played several different instruments. I sang and studied flute for many years, but also played the tenor sax for a bit (and really, anything else I could get my hands on). When I was about five, I took piano lessons. However, I apparently refused to practice, so my parents stopped sending me. I’ve always regretted not being able to stick with it, as I would love to be “fluent” in piano. In first grade, my whole class took violin lessons. In second or third grade, I switched to flute and quickly learned about a whole new world. For about 15 years, starting from when I was around 16, I sang with an intergenerational Anglican cathedral choir, which was an amazing experience. A few years ago, I got a guitar and set about trying to teach myself how to play. I’d like to pick it up again when my back issues have resolved further. Recently, I looked around online to find singing groups in my area. I found one that looks very promising and am planning on auditioning to join.
  2. Even though I can’t do it right now, for a number of reasons, I love to travel. I was lucky as a kid as my family was able to travel a lot. We took regular car trips from Delaware to Florida to visit family. We went camping and hiking often. I went to Europe for the first time when I was 13. My mom and I went to visit my brother, who lived in Germany at the time. In college I did a summer study abroad session in Paris. About five years ago, the wife and I (before we were married) took an epic trip to Vancouver Island. We stayed at an amazing B&B and, in the space of about a week, put 963 miles on the rental car. We just got out and did so much amazing stuff! That’s not my complete travel history, by any means, but it’s at least some of the highlights!
  3. I love thrift shopping and bargain hunting. It’s the thrill of the hunt that is interesting to me. I love finding amazing deals of pretty much anything, but particularly yarn. I’ve stumbled into some amazing stash addictions that way. I blame it on my mom–she taught me everything I know.
  4. I’ve been thinking for a while about getting back into sewing. I have an amazing sewing machine that was my grandmother’s. This week, I actually dusted off some of my skills and started making baby/toddler bandana bibs (more on that in a future post). It was really fun and, even though I had a serious spike in pain levels afterward as it was apparently too much leaning/bending, I really liked doing it.
  5. I drive a stick shift. My family always had stick shift cars when I was younger, so that’s how I learned. Even though there’s no longer any benefit in gas mileage or car price, I still prefer it and will “stick” with it as long as I can.

And, the nominees are…

  1. HealingHandcrafting. No need to do another post unless you’d like.
  2. The Dartmoor Yarn Company. Great conversations about knitting, goals, and working with beautiful British wool.
  3. the desert knitter: learning to bloom where I’m planted. Beautiful knitting, beautiful scenery.
  4. fiber and sustenance. Lots of beautiful knitting paired with equally beautiful photographs.
  5. knit equals joy: Thoughts about the creative process and all that is good in our knitterly lives. Carol is a beautiful knitter, designer and photographer, and one of the all-around kindest people I know.
  6. Knit Potion: Good for What Ails You. Lots of stuff about knitting with astute observations on life sneaked in for good measure. Plus, she also made a giant blue rectangle!
  7. Lauren the Human: Adventures in Knitting. This blog covers the trials and tribulations of knitting as well as the joy of progress!
  8. Lime Scented. I went for the beautiful socks, and stayed…for the beautiful socks.
  9. Some Daft Thoughts: Ramblings of a crazy cat lady. Another blogger who explores the relationship between knitting and healing.
  10. Spin A Yarn: yarn hoarder…accessories fanatic…lover of all things creative. Paula documents her lovely knitting and crochet projects here. (Psst…she currently has 98 followers. Think we can help her break 100? Not that numbers are important, but it’s just a nice feeling!)
  11. The Sweaty Knitter, Weaver and Devotee of Other Fiber Arts: Interweaving life with fiber arts! A wealth of information about fiber arts and how they connect with our lives, now and in the past.
  12. This Knitted Life. Posts on knitting, designing, life with a small child, with a healthy dose of humor.
  13. unsophisticated + jejune: quilts + knits. Creative quilting, knitting and life…including a recent giant move.
  14. Welcome to Knitting in France. A blog by a prolific and expert knitter who also has a business dyeing lovely yarn.
  15. Wolfberry Knits: adventures in creativity. A wealth of information about knitting, dyeing, crafting, and the amazing nature in Australia.
  16. Wooly Cakes and Wooden Spoons. A lovely blog about cooking, knitting and all things crafty.
  17. Yards of Happiness: A blog about knitting and the things that bring me joy. The name pretty much tells the whole story. IamDWJ knits and posts with an unapologetic joy that can be contagious. I don’t know how she juggles a job (and soon grad school), a family, pet ownership and still knits about a sweater a week, but she does!
  18. Yarn, Books & Roses: life with a chronic disease and a really big stash. A blog about knitting, spinning, the injustices that “pet” cats face, gardening…just about everything.

As with any blog award, please don’t feel like you have to participate if you don’t care to. I just wanted to nominate you as a way of saying I appreciate your blog and all you do. Also, this is not an exhaustive list! There are a ton of other blogs I love that I wasn’t able to list here.

Happy blogging, and happy knitting!

I’m Knitting 0 for 3 Today

I spent most of my day bouncing from appointment to appointment. That meant periods of downtime…that I would typically spend knitting and listening to podcasts. Well, I knit the last couple of pre-heel rounds on my WTF, Stripes? socks. Then I looked for some waste yarn to use for the afterthought heel…nope, nothing in fingering weight. So, I figured I’d start my next spa cloth test knit. I pulled up the pattern, dug out my yarn, and looked for my needles…nope, forgot to put my US4s back in the case, so I didn’t have the right needles. Then, I figured I’d rustle up an older WIP and put in some work on that. I pulled out my Feathery Lace Stole and went to look up the pattern…nope, didn’t have it with me. By that time it was time for my next appointment, so all my knitting time was used up!

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My Feathery Lace Stole, still languishing.

I’m planning to drown my sorrows (figuratively) at my LYS in a bit. They’re having a happy hour this evening, complete with “yarn tasting”. Sounds interesting! I’ll be sure to bring all the yarn, needles and patterns I need to actually get something done!

Happy knitting!

PS: If you are thinking about joining the Smooth Operator Socks KAL, the thread is up here!

Thursday Sock-Along: WTF, Stripes?

I renamed my Smooth Operator sock project to WTF, Stripes? on ravelry. You might remember from my sock post last week that I decided to make these socks identical twins instead of the fraternal twins I usually make. I figured since the pattern is specifically geared toward having an uninterrupted stripe pattern, I might as well go for it. Also, one of my main goals in sock knitting is to try something new with each project. So I painstakingly went through the yarn (which conveniently is in two separate skeins) and found what I thought were identical spots in the color sequence, and cast on.

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Look! Matchy matchy!

Everything went swimmingly for about the first dozen stripes. There were two stripes each of orange, yellow, red and then pink. Silly me, I thought that sequence would just repeat itself. Well, next thing I knew, one sock had three stripes of orange and the other had three stripes of yellow. And then it just devolved from there! One sock went back to two stripes per color, but in a different order, and the other sock went to one red stripe, three pink stripes, then pairs again. So I guess I’ll get fraternal twins after all.

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Really, stripes? Really?

That is, of course, totally fine by me. I was just surprised! Otherwise things are going well. My gauge is a lot better than on my last pair (about 8 sts/” instead of over 9.5), so I think they will actually fit me. If anything, they’ll be a smidge large in the foot, but that’s okay. As long as they fit my ankle and calf! I like the toe increases I ended up with (m1r and m1l) and I’m nearly ready to add the waste yarn for the afterthought heel.

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If you would like to make your own Smooth Operator Socks, matching or not, then head over to Susan B. Anderson’s ravelry group, itty bitty knits. In the next couple of days, she’s starting up an informal KAL. Come join in the fun!

Are you doing any sock knitting? Feel free to post about it on Thursdays and link up with the group! Also, you can share your projects on Instagram with the tag #thursdaysockalong. Check out my fellow Thursday sock knitters here:

Happy sock knitting!

 

FO Spotlight: Cinderella’s Spa Cloth

I jut finished up* my second spa cloth test knit for Carol at knit equals joy! Rumor has it she will be releasing them as an e-book, so stay tuned!

The rundown

Pattern: Cinderella’s Spa Cloth (not yet published) by Carol E. Herman. This pattern will be part of her spa cloth series. The two published patterns in the series are Fairy Godmother’s Spa Cloth and Castle Beach Spa Cloth. I also tested Queen’s Spa Cloth.

Yarn: 65 yards of Cascade Yarns Ultra Pima Fine, same as for the Queen’s Cloth. This one used just shy of a half of a skein, so you could probably squeeze two in for optimum yarn usage! Also, this pattern is very flexible–you could just knit the second one until you had just enough yarn to cast off.

Size made: Per pattern. You can do more or fewer rows to customize the size.

Needles: US4s.

Techniques used: Nothing crazy. I used longtail cast on and standard bind off.

Modifications: None.

Difficulty: Easy. This could be a great first or second project for a new knitter.

Ravelled: here.

The Pretty

First off, I need to share my starting pic. For whatever reason, I just love it!

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I estimated the yarn length for my longtail cast on just right, on the first try! It’s the small joys in life, right? I think the other reason I love this pic is that you can see a hint of my lovely yarn bowl. I don’t use it all that often because I usually work from center pull cakes, but it came in handy for this project.

Okay, enough teasing. Here are the finished pics!

A lot of my comments on the Queen’s Cloth apply to this one, as well. It’s basically the same design, just without the loopy scalloped border. It’s a quick and easy knit that produces a polished, lovely cloth. What more can I say?

I can say at least one more thing: even for a simple project like this, Carol’s pattern is lovely. Everything is clearly and concisely written, and her attention to detail shows. This is the kind of pattern that takes knitting from “home made” to “hand made”.

Happy knitting!

*Full disclosure: It’s not actually technically finished yet. I didn’t weave in the ends! I was in a hurry to get pictures earlier, so I cut corners, so to speak. I’m going to do it at my knitting group tonight 🙂

FO Spotlight: Queen’s Spa Cloth

I did this quick little test knit for Carol of knit equals joy. I’ve got at least one more in the works, so stay tuned for more to come!

The rundown

Pattern: Queen’s Spa Cloth (not yet published) by Carol E. Herman. This pattern is a continuation of her spa cloth series, which so far includes Fairy Godmother’s Spa Cloth and Castle Beach Spa Cloth.

Yarn: 76 yards of Cascade Yarns Ultra Pima Fine. It’s a 100% cotton sport weight yarn. It’s very soft and has a nice, subtle shine.

Size made: Per pattern. You can do more or fewer repeats to customize the size.

Needles: US4s.

Techniques used: Nothing that’s not well described in the pattern. The loopy scalloped stitch on the bottom (well, really the side edge) was new to me, but once I’d given it a try, it was very easy.

Modifications: None.

Difficulty: Somewhere between easy and intermediate. This would not be a good choice for someone’s first project, but would be fine for someone comfortable with yos, slipped stitches and “reading” their knitting.

Ravelled: here.

The Pretty

Here’s a closer look at the bottom edge:

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This was a quick and fun knit. As usual, Carol’s pattern was extremely well written and easy to follow. I enjoyed learning some new things! One thing I particularly love about this pattern is the attention to detail. The “top” edge uses a different slipped stitch technique than I’ve used before, and it makes a very clean and neat edge:

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Also, the slipped stitch details in the interior look almost like piping. They add a nice, finished touch to the cloth. This project was pretty and fun. I think it would make a lovely gift paired with a bar of fancy soap.

Thanks again to Carol for letting me test another pattern for her! I’m looking forward to casting on for the next one.

Happy knitting!